Chapter 55: Secrets
He never would have imagined that he would get such special treatment. He finished his meal, perfectly content, and his energy returned to him.
Gu Shi washed the dishes and eyed the smiling Zhang Chi. “You ate so fast, did you even taste it?” There was no trace of reproach in her voice.
Zhang Chi nodded and sighed. “I never knew you were such a good cook. That was better than most noodle shops.”
“When Dad used to work overtime I had to cook for myself. Then I grew up and Dad got older and his stomach started acting up, so I had to pay attention to what I made, so I became a good cook.”
“How come you suddenly left the special investigations case that day?” Zhang Chi asked suddenly.
Gu Shi paused washing the dishes. “What other reason could I have, unless it was work or exercise.” Her eyes glittered as she looked at him.
He got up and came over to her from behind, pretending to go over to get a glass. He could smell the scent of her herbal shampoo in her hair.
She awkwardly made way, but he was still smothering her. He looked up and looked at her close up. Her face was a bit flushed.
“Seems there are some things you never tell anyone.”
“Everyone should have a few secrets, there own personal space. Right?”
“Even with parents and friends?”
“If you have some unhappy memories, will you tell your friends all about it?”
“Men and women are different. When something happens, men like to be alone to release stress, but women have to talk about it to relieve the burden.” He tilted his head back and downed a few drinks of water, his gulping throat and warm arm just inches from her. “You shouldn’t demand so much of yourself.”
“You forget that women are not all alike. I don’t like window shopping, or gossiping. You can classify me completely as a guy.” She shrugged indifferently and continued washing the dishes. But her heart was still pounding. This was the first time in a long time she had avoided a man’s touch like an electric shock.
“If I tell you my story will you share me yours? At least a little bit?” He moved back and to the fridge, watching her with clear eyes.
Gu Shi hesitated as scene after humiliating scene flashed before her eyes. She shook her head firmly.
“Either way, I’m willing to share mine.” He clearly didn’t mind her reaction. He noticed in that moment her expression: helpless, pained, lonely, like she had fallen into a terrible black hole with nothing nearby to grab onto.
He had a faint feeling of something, but he wasn’t sure if what he was thinking was really true or not. In any case, he didn’t want to force her.
Gu Shi was a good listener. She sat quietly on the sofa as she listened to his story. Zhang Chi hadn’t expected to reveal so much about himself to her, from his favorite pinball game when he was a kid to being captain of the basketball team in junior high, from changing goals to staying within the country for university to his fight with his parents over his desire to enroll in the police academy. He knew full well to refrain from talking about his romantic exploits, that that was best kept a mystery, but he couldn’t help from inviting her to become a part of his life.
Several days later, the special investigations case wrapped up and a burglary case opened. Zhang Chi asked Gu Shi out to eat to celebrate, but she politely declined. She said he had to “go for a swim and wouldn’t have enough time”.
Zhang Chi went to the restaurant all by his lonesome and let Instructor Fan treat him to that meal he had promised him. When their conversation reached here, Instructor Fan laughed wantonly and teased him. “You’re definitely a skirt chaser. Who would have guessed you were defeated by a woman this time. Where did you learn your social skills?”
Zhang Chi was not hard pressed. He laughed and drank his beer. He ate as he mocked himself. “Technique, strategy, everything I know is the product of reasoning. When you really meet someone you like, all that goes out the window and magically leaves you.”
“Gu Shi is a good woman. I’ve known her many years. No one has ever gotten close to her. We’ll see if you can catch her. What’s her father have to say about it?” He laughed.
Zhang Chi didn’t know Gu Zhichang’s attitude toward i, or if he had seen through Zhang Chi’s heart. But as he got to thinking about it he realized many of the opportunities he’d had alone with had been created by her father. Wittingly or not, it at least showed her father was not against it.
The next morning, Zhang Chi was sitting in the office, thinking about Instructor Fan’s warning and finding it quite reasonable. He might as well get up and go to Gu Zhichang’s office and wipe the desk, sweep the floor and bring him some high-quality tea leaves. But Gu Zhichang had not yet arrived by the time he finished.
Zhang Chi checked in another office and someone told him. “You’re early. Do you not know your teacher? At 7:30 he’ll be in the cafeteria.”
As he was thinking about this he got a call from Gu Zhichang. He sounded a little out of breath. “Little Zhang, get down here quick. I’m at the underground train platform at the bureau entrance.”
Zhang Chi tried to ask,” What’s…”
But Gu Zhichang cut him off. “Call 120 and then you get over here quick too. Make it fast.”
His voice seemed distant and unfamiliar. He was usually calm and collected, speaking in an even tone. Never flustered and panicked like this.
Zhang Chi wanted to see Gu Shi first before he left to get an idea what might have happened. But no one had seen her. She must have left to tend to a case bright and early.
He didn’t think about it anymore, but went back to his office and did what Gu Zhichang had told him and dialed 120. Then he went and got a first-aid kit and sprinted to the train station.
He didn’t have to look for his teacher. As soon as he got to the station he saw him half-squatting on the ground, his face pale. He looked to be holding someone. He ran over and saw the person lying on the ground was Gu Shi!
Her eyes were slightly closed, blood staining her clothes around her stomach as blood still poured out, her clothes sticking to her body. Gu Zhichang had his hand pressed to her wound and he had her propped up on his legs. His other hand kept tapping her face every few seconds so she wouldn’t fall asleep, doing his best to keep her awake, but it was no use.
“Teacher, I’m here!” Zhang Chi called lightly. Gu Shi seemed to be sleeping.
Gu Zhichang looked up. His eyes were bloodshot as he looked for the ambulance.
Zhang Chi didn’t have time to ask what happened. He made the crowd of people move back and then knelt on the ground and opened his medical kit and got out a tourniquet. “Teacher, it’ll be two or three minutes before the ambulance arrives. The important thing now is to stop the bleeding.”
Gu Zhichang suddenly seemed much older and seemed to be completely in a daze at that moment. He nodded weakly and let Zhang Chi do it. Zhang Chi took Gu Shi lightly in his arms and laid her down on the ground.