Chapter 49: Reassurance
There was an awkward pause as Zhang Chi wsa stared at by Gu Shi. His arm was still firmly planted on her shoulder as he looked straight ahead with no plan to take his arm off.
“Raining hard like this, if we both get sick we won’t be able to work on the case and it will be difficult to explain to the higher-ups. Your clothes are wet. I’m keeping you dry as we walk.” Zhang Chi spoke slowly, his tone even.
He figured Gu Shi would not throw his arm off even though she was caught off-guard. In any case, he was Zhenghai’s number-one policeman, and good-looking enough to not make someone eager to shake him off.
Indeed, Gu Shi didn’t react. “Say whatever you like, but remember, this is one time only.” She matched her steps in time with his as they walked.
Zhang Chi had long legs so she had to make an effort to keep up. But why was her breathing so labored? Was it because she was out of breath, or had his body warmth and scent made her feel uncomfortable, giving rise to some inexplicable quickening of her pulse?
Zhang Chi spoke in a low voice over her head, “Did your work go smoothly today?”
She came back to her senses and replied nonchalantly. “It was okay. I wouldn’t say it went smoothly.” It was so odd. Trapped in his embrace, it was like a vulnerable spot had been pressed and she didn’t know what she was saying. It was her work, had little to do with him. Why should she go into it with him?
And yet, for some reason she couldn’t help it and had blurted that out on impulse.
“Is there anything I can do to help” Zhang Chi asked.
“Doubtful. It deals with specialized work.” Gu Shi looked up into his eyes, then lowered her head again.
He relaxed his arm around her for a split second. Why did she feel that it was like he was stroking her hair? It was really give an inch, take a mile. But it was not that big a deal; keeping out of the rain was more important.
After a few minutes she suddenly asked him, “Do you remember that unsolved breaking and entering burglary case from when we first came here?”
“There’s been progress?”
“It seemed so at first. The city brought in a specialist to analyze the traces and look for a match for the suspect’s footprints. I had Chen Ting give me their data and I went through it again and found something suspicious.”
“The specialist made a mistake?”
“The specialist and I came to somewhat different conclusions, pointing to two different suspects at the same time.”
“One of you must have made a mistake.”
“Problem is the specialist was an old professor of mine when I was at the academy. He wrote all the textbooks we used at the academy. If one of us made a mistake it would have to be me. I lack the qualifications and have less experience.” Gu Shi frowned as she explained, not noticing how Zhang Chi pulled her in closer and held her tighter.
Zhang Chi snickered to himself, satisfied. Gu Shi was so docile in his embrace, so far removed from her usual ice queen demeanor, talking on and on about her frustrations while locked in his embrace. The drudgery of the day’s work for him completely evaporated.
He held in a smile and asked nonchalantly, “So what you’re saying is to identify a mistake one need merely sum up one’s experience. Then what room is there to collaborate?”
“The problem is, I used a different method and calculated it all from a completely new perspective to try to once again to confirm my conclusion. I examined every detail carefully, but I still don’t see where in the process I made the mistake, from my way of thinking about it all the way down to the calculations.”
“Nobody’s perfect. It’s not out of the question that your old professor is the one who made a mistake. Your issue now is, how do I put forth my conclusion without embarrassing the other.”
“Losing face is beside the point. My case doesn’t have a leg to stand on because the real person I’m suspecting was not at the scene to prove it.”
“So what do you plan to do? Give up your scientific conclusion?” Zhang Chi stared at her profile; her straight nose betrayed an air of defiance.
“I’ve never handled a case based on someone’s determined reasoning, nor based on any leader’s in idea or analysis. The only thing I value and respect is…”
“The truth?” Zhang Chi asked, a knowing smile on his face.
“Science. Even if the traces aren’t unique fingerprints, they are still reflect the most authentic, original state of the crime scene. It’s represented by numbers and appearance. Physicalism is the core of science. There’s only ever one truth when it comes to science.”
Every time he listened to people’s theories he would always drift off, distracted. But when he listened to Gu Shi it always registered. Zhang Chi said, “When you were at the academy did you ever heard of an example case where investigators inspecting the scene of a crime discovered a previously overlooked body?”
Gu Shi nodded. It was a classic example case, taught to every group of cadets.
“Police station receives a missing persons case and sends investigators to check it out. They do everything by the book, snap photos, collect evidence, etc. Then, the technicians propose another more thorough, comprehensive inspection of the scene, only to be met with objections by everyone.”
Gu Shi naturally took over. “The reason makes sense. At first the layout of the room is clear, the arrangements of everything is simple. Then in the course of investigating they learn that two days prior someone moved something like a big box or a wardrobe. Even though the body disappeared, it’s possible someone moved it.”
“This is an example of how first impressions are the strongest, and only a few are able to grasp the truth.” Gu Shi was smiled at Zhang Chi’s lecture-like explanation.
“But, if the unremarkable board bed is lifted up and there is no body underneath, then the investigators who have already left the scene will say the technicians made an unnecessary move,” Zhang Chi said. “The way I see it, you shouldn’t bother about other people’s arguments, and should instead set more store by real outcomes.”
Gu Shi sighed. She seemed like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders by what he said. Her tone became lighter as she urged, “Let’s speed up, I’m starving.”
They trotted in step through the rain and reached their building. Zhang Chi was reluctant to let go of her, but he immediately removed his arm.
Gu Shi looked down at her right shoulder. “It really is dry. Your clothes dryer is really powerful.”
Zhang Chi nodded mildly. He wanted to pull her into his arms again, but he told himself not to rush it. At least, the distance between them had become shorter. That was already pretty good.
Someone once told him that “Big Beauty Gu” had a habit where no matter where she was or what time it was, she had to swim one hour every day. This was something instilled in her by Gu Zhichang from a young age to improve her physical conditioning discipline, and had now become an unshakable, ingrained habit.
Zhang Chi worked long into the night organizing and analyzing his case files. His stomach was growling and he was going to go out to get something, but he kept holding back, perking his ears up and listening for any sound outside his door.
Just as he was thinking about how there was no movement next door and maybe the rumor was untrue, he heard the sound of Gu Shi’d door lock turning. He disregarded his hunger and threw his sports bag over his shoulder and went out.
Gu Shi heard footsteps in the brightly-lit hall and turned to look. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she saw it was Zhang Chi. “What are you doing here? Going to exercise?”
“It would be a shame not to go for a swim what with the nice weather and all.” He breathed in deeply, expanding his chest. His rippling muscles were faintly discernible through his white sports shirt.
Gu Shi shook her head helplessly and humored him. The ‘accidentally running into you’ trick was an old one for would-be suitors.
“Come on, I know a good place nearby with few people and new equipment. I have a membership card so I can get you in.”
Zhang Chi reached into his bag and handed her a flyer. But he didn’t tell her this was some homework he had completed a few days ago. The first night they had arrived at the Ministry of Public Security he had went and applied to become a VIP member.
“Alright, we’ll check it out.” Gu Shi looked at the address and immediately flagged a taxi. Zhang Chi hurried over and opened the door and sat in the passenger seat.
A gentle breeze blew, and in that moment, he felt completely at ease.