Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 32: We’re Even
Jiang Bin and Chen Yong walk into the studio at that very moment. ‘Is anyone here?’ asks Chen Yong.
Xu Youyi greets them. ‘Detective Jiang?’
‘Is Miss Yan Wei here?’ asks Jiang Bin.
‘No,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘Was there something you wanted?’
As Chen Yong wanders over to the gallery wall to study the photographs, Jiang Bin tells Xu Youyi, ‘Here’s what happened. We received a tip-off today that you were seen smuggling Yan Wei away from the police station the day it caught fire. Is there anything you want to say to that, Miss Xu?’
Xu Youyi flashes back to that day at the police station, where she saw Yan Wei setting a document on fire. Now I realise she was probably destroying evidence back there in the filing room…
I know she killed Zhang Wan. Should I tell the police? Her hand goes to her belly. But she also risked her life to save me and the baby…
Seeing that she’s lost in thought, Jiang Bin asks, ‘Miss Xu? Are you all right?’
Xu Youyi comes back to herself. ‘We’ve already been over this many times,’ she tells Jiang Bin. ‘Besides, my ex-husband Zhou Heng can vouch for me.’
‘I’m sorry, Miss Xu,’ says Jiang Bin. ‘But Mr Zhou was the one who tipped us off.’
Xu Youyi is taken aback. Why would Zhou Heng do this? Why would he give me the house, then immediately turn Yan Wei in? Is he trying to leave me with nowhere to turn? Or… could he also have found out that Yan Wei murdered Zhang Wan?
‘Can you tell me the truth now?’ asks Jiang Bin.
‘Detective Jiang,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘You know that Zhou Heng and I are in the middle of getting divorced. Zhou Heng is still hoping that I’ll go back to him. He must have had an ulterior motive for tipping you off.’
‘He might well have had an ulterior motive,’ Jiang Bin concedes. ‘But all I want to know is the truth.’
‘In that case, let me tell you the truth,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘The truth is… I didn’t leave the police station with anyone else that day. Zhou Heng was lying for his own purposes.’
This, of course, frustrates Jiang Bin. ‘Miss Xu!’ he begins.
‘Apologies, Detective Jiang,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I’m not feeling well. You’ll have to excuse me.’
There’s nothing else Jiang Bin can say, so he and Chen Yong leave the studio. Back in their car, Chen Yong hands him the photograph of Yan Wei in uniform. ‘Boss! Here’s the photograph you wanted me to steal.’
Jiang Bin studies the photograph. ‘We need to get someone to analyse this carefully. It might give us some leads. Reverse the car into that alleyway,’ he tells Chen Yong. ‘We’ll watch Xu Youyi from there.’
Chen Yong carefully backs the car into the alleyway. ‘Boss, even if Yan Wei is our murderer, Xu Youyi might not know about her, right? Didn’t her ex-husband say that they haven’t known each other for very long? Why would Xu Youyi feel the need to shield Yan Wei?’
‘Not all strong relationships are forged by the passage of time,’ Jiang Bin tells him. ‘Isn’t there a saying? Some people will still be strangers to you even after many years together; are some people you instantly become close friends with upon a first meeting.’
Half an hour later, they see Xu Youyi leave the studio and get onto a rickshaw.
‘Follow Xu Youyi!’ Jiang Bin commands.
Xu Youyi looks at the large suitcase which she has placed next to herself on the rickshaw. Yan Wei, you saved my life, and now I’m saving yours.
Inside the suitcase, it turns out, is Yan Wei’s incriminating rifle. Xu Youyi had packed it into the suitcase after the police left. Now we’re even, she reflects.
Even if he was putting on an act, Zhou Heng must have moved out of the house by now, she thinks. Let’s head to the Zhou mansion first.
At the Zhou Mansion, Zhou Heng is confronting none other than Agent Bai. ‘What are you doing here?’ Zhou Heng demands.
‘The publishing company is looking for me,’ Agent Bai explains. ‘Someone was trying to kill me earlier, it’s a good thing I managed to escape. You have to give me money so that I can get away, and you have to move my family somewhere safe, or else…’
Zhou Heng considers this for a moment. ‘That’s possible,’ he says finally. ‘But there’s something else you need to do for me first.’
Agent Bai leaves the Zhou mansion just as Xu Youyi passes by in her rickshaw.
That man over there… isn’t that Agent Bai? she wonders. Out loud, she tells the rickshaw-puller, ‘Stop!’
Yan Wei, lurking on a nearby roof, is startled to see her.
Xu Youyi, she thinks, then remembers something.
She puts her weapon away. No, I can’t let her see me holding a gun.
Xu Youyi stares after Agent Bai’s departing back. Why is he leaving the Zhou mansion by the back door? Then she sees another familiar figure, and ducks quickly behind a wall. That’s Zhou Heng!
The person who hired Agent Bai to kill me is Zhou Heng! she realises.
Yan Wei watches from some distance away as Xu Youyi crosses a bridge. She should know by now that Zhou Heng and Agent Bai are conspiring together. But why is she carrying that suitcase? Was she planning to return to the Zhou mansion? Or… did something happen while I was out?
She’s even more startled when Xu Youyi stops in the middle of the bridge and throws the suitcase into the water below. Is that something else that Zhou Heng tried to give her?
Xu Youyi stares into the water. Yan Wei killed Zhang Wan, and now Zhou Heng is trying to kill me. Can you ever truly understand what’s in anyone’s heart?
Should I go up to her? wonders Yan Wei. Should I pretend to run into her by chance while on my way home after delivering photographs?
Please view the original manhua here.
- The saying Jiang Bin refers to is, in Chinese, 白首如新, 倾盖如故. This translates semi-literally as ‘some people remain as new acquaintances even after their hair turns white together; other people become old friends after a single chance encounter’.