Book 2 Chapter 18: The remote garage

Although she had a lot of work, Xiao Xia still left the firm the moment it started getting dark. She would rather take her work home than stay in the office by herself again. At the front doors, she ran into the security guard Xiao Zhang and felt creeped out. Especially when he smiled at her. However, she knew this was the real Xiao Zhang. It was just her senses being weird.

She didn’t know how long she would remain affected by this matter but she had to wrap things up as soon as possible. Therefore, the moment she entered the bar she started following Liu Tie around.

“Let me ask you something.” She tried to act casual. “Are you aware that Tao Xiao Chun from your school ran away from home? She’s one of your die-hard fans. Did she leave a souvenir for a hunk like you?”

“Ran away from home?” Liu Tie stopped working. “But everyone at school is guessing that she must have gotten harmed. After all, things haven’t been peaceful recently.”

“Guessing?”

“That’s right. The previous cases were all murders and this is the first mysterious disappearance. That’s why everyone is merely guessing. I really hope they catch that sorcerer or whatever soon.”

“How do you know the sorcerer’s responsible? Don’t just go along with what everyone is saying. That’s very conformist.” Xiao Xia got angry whenever she heard Ruan Zhan being falsely accused.

Liu Tie looked strangely at the bum beetle following behind him, not understanding why she got so emotional. Xiao Xia also realized she had overreacted and hurriedly adjusted her emotions. “Let’s not talk about that. Tell me, do you have any leads?”

“Why are you asking about this, sis Xiao Xia?”

“You know I’m your school’s legal representative.” Xiao Xia made things up randomly. “Whether it’s murder or disappearances, the school has to give the families an explanation. Therefore, this sort of investigation is also part of my responsibilities.”

“Sis Xiao Xia should become a detective.”

“Stop joking around. Hurry up and think carefully. Everyone at school knows she likes you a lot. Perhaps there’s something you overlooked.”

“Is Tao Xiao Chun really related to those murders?” Liu Tie stopped and asked her seriously.

He wasn’t a fool. Last time Xiao Xia had him and Ni Yang put on a play to check if Tao Xiao Chun had gone to watch the basketball game. He had already felt it was very strange at the time. Sis Xiao Xia also wasn’t willing to tell him anything when he asked. Then, Tao Xiao Chun went missing and sis Xiao Xia was now investigating this matter so urgently. Something was definitely up.

She looked at his young and earnest face, and replied solemnly: “Put it this way….you are of age now and should know some secrets aren’t appropriate to be revealed. It isn’t that I don’t trust you, it’s a legal issue. Furthermore, letting you know would bring no benefits and only harm. Actually, I also don’t know the whole story. At this moment, you just have to think carefully if you have any relevant leads. Treat it as helping me, and helping Tao Xiao Chun as well. She’s your classmate after all, and also your worshipper.”

Liu Tie remained frozen for a bit before nodding. “I understand, sis Xiao Xia, I wasn’t trying to dig for information. I just….I just couldn’t imagine so many horrifying things happening. The school is locking down all information and everyone inside is anxious…”

“Xiao Tie, my alcohol.” A customer interrupted them.1

Lie Tie responded while Xiao Xia continued tagging along behind him. “That’s why I want you to think carefully about whether you have any valuable clues. In my opinion, a young girl would definitely leave something behind for the person in her heart prior to leaving.” There had to be. Otherwise, Tao Xiao Chun’s grandparents wouldn’t have said so. Furthermore, Xiao Xia kept getting the feeling that Tao Xiao Chun giving the parting gift was the reason she met with mishap. Therefore, where she sent it became the key. Actually, they could go to the school and draw out Bloody Mary, asking for Tao Xiao Chun’s whereabouts after defeating it and saving her trapped soul. However, while it may be banished, it wouldn’t necessarily cooperate. Furthermore, it would be too risky without a plan. It wouldn’t be fair to Ruan Zhan.

“But there really isn’t anything.” Liu Tie frowned. “Although Tao Xiao Chun treats me a little differently, and it’s not like I haven’t noticed, she’s a very reserved person and never really expressed anything. Furthermore, there are only a few ways she can send me gifts. She can mail it, deliver it to my dorm, personally hand it to me or ask a friend to deliver it. She’s been missing for so long. If there really was something, it should have long since arrived.”

That’s right. It truly didn’t seem likely based on the timing. Were Tao Xiao Chun’s grandparents mistaken? Or did she fail to deliver due to being flustered? Did something go wrong with the delivery? Did Liu Tie forget something?

“Let me think about it a little more.” Liu Tie steadied Xiao Xia who had almost tripped because she was aimlessly following behind him. “I’ll let you know first thing if there’s any information, and not even tell the police.”

“Alright. I’ll treat you to a meal afterwards.”

“You still owe me from last time!”

“Just put it on my tab.”

“Then I won’t be polite, you owe me two.” Liu Tie stretched out two fingers. “I have to go work now.”

Xiao Xia waved her hand and went dejectedly to the bar. She sprawled sloppily onto the counter. Liu Tie either didn’t receive anything from Tao Xiao Chun or didn’t recall it. Either way, her plans were halted. What should she do?

“What’s going on, little sis? You want to snatch both old and young?” A woman’s drawn out voice sounded.

Xiao Xia looked over and saw the woman she met the first time she came to the bar, sis Gu. She looked both teasingly and enviously at Xiao Xia. The few women nearby were also musing.

Didn’t she say she was only here to relax and drink, and not for the handsome guys? Yeah right!

Xiao Xia sighed helplessly: “I’ve already said Boss Ruan and I aren’t in a relationship. He owes me a debt. Why don’t you believe me?”

“Cheh, I won’t believe that Ah Zhan owes a debt even if you beat me to death.” A woman responded. “After so many years, it’s clear to see that Ah Zhan is an extremely proud person. He handles everything himself, and is a most responsible man.”

“That’s right.” Another woman said. “Even if he was temporarily in need of money, how did I miss such an opportunity? I would have made him owe me even if I had to sell all my property.”

“It’s up to you whether you believe it or not! Don’t worry, I’m uninterested in both the younger and older men here. Whether you guys want to carve them up, stew them or cook them has nothing to do with me. I can even offer some free advice. It’s useless to wait around for the guys here. Especially the boss. You might as well take the initiative to make a move. You won’t go wrong listening to me. I’ll be waiting for news of your victory! Just don’t forget to call me over to watch when you eat him up. I just want to expand my horizons. It’s also fine to just let me admire the remains afterwards too.”

“Really?”

“True as gold!”

“Ah Zhan, what say you?”

Xiao Xia was startled. Only now did she realize he had coincidentally gone behind the bar to grab something. These women were rather treacherous, not giving her a heads up at all. She didn’t know if he heard her inciting these women to eat him up.

“I do indeed “owe” Miss Yue. However, I’ll be able to “repay” her soon.” Ruan Zhan briefly explained. His smile was gentle and good looking, but Xiao Xia knew he was gritting his teeth.

“Is this true? Ah Zhan, you aren’t trying to cover for her, right?” Sis Gu said meaningfully. “You can tell me if you’re in trouble next time. We’re all friends here and can help with anything. Don’t want you getting extorted by someone.”

“It’s nothing, just a lapse, a very minor lapse.” He glanced at Xiao Xia. That’s right. He had accidentally made friends with a bad person. That scoundrel Wan Li had then run off to Italy by himself.

Watching this from the side, Xiao Xia thought things weren’t looking good. She had to coax him properly. Normally, the carrot and the stick approach was very effective against men. Perhaps she could give it a try on Ruan Zhan.

“Hey, I’ve recalled something.” Xiao Xia smiled amicably, almost flatteringly. “Today on the way from work, I saw a biker jacket. It was so damn cool, I feel you’d definitely look good in it. How about I gift you one? It’s good to change up your style every now and then.”

Ruan Zhan looked at her in surprise. He seemed to be listening intently but his anger hadn’t faded in the slightest. However, his handsome and calm face entranced those women watching him.

Liu Tie who happened to have heard Xiao Xia’s words suddenly stood still. He seemed to have recalled something and said: “Biker?! Sis Xiao Xia, I remember now, it’s the motorbike!”

Motorbike? Was Liu Tie talking about the parting gift? Tao Xiao Chun made such a show of wealth, using a motorbike as a parting gift!?

Xiao Xia was very surprised and hurriedly pulled Liu Tie into the corner. She no longer cared whether Ruan Zhan’s anger was burning or that her actions with Liu Tie seemed ambiguous. She anxiously asked him what he remembered.

“I’ve always wanted to fix up my cousin’s broken motorbike and give it some more horsepower. I wanted to accomplish this personally using old parts. Therefore, I started working on this slowly ever since the last semester. However, there hadn’t been much progress this entire time. After fiddling around, it’s still just the framework of a bike. However, ever since this semester started, that fellow Ni Yang got a connection from somewhere with a lot of parts. He also came to help me daily, so things progressed rapidly. It was just completed two weeks ago.” Liu Tie was a little excited thinking of his dream, but Xiao Xia was anxiously waiting to hear how it was related to Tao Xiao Chun.

“What does this have to do with Tao Xiao Chun?”

“She said her uncle runs a repair shop, and that she could help me get an imported carburetor at a cheap price. However, she hasn’t brought it over all this time. I’m still using a domestic one at the moment. Sis Xiao Xia, it’s not that I don’t support domestic goods, it’s because the properties of an imported carburetor, never mind, I’m straying off topic. What I’m saying is, if she really ran away from home, and was going to give me something prior to leaving, it’s very likely to be that. She knows it’s what I want most, and she’s also promised to give it to me.”

“Where are you fixing the bike up?” Xiao Xia asked nervously.

“Do you know the dilapidated garage in the school? It’s behind the old northwestern building.” Liu Tie described just how remote the location was. “Last semester I borrowed the location from an upperclassmen to shoot a skit. I noticed it’s usually deserted, with only a few scrapped old cars that were probably waiting to be sold for the right price. I ended up putting the bike there and going to work on it whenever I got the chance. I had wanted to take it out for a spin after it was done, but had been too busy recently. With everything that’s happened at school, I also wasn’t really in the mood and never ended up doing it. Do you think Tao Xiao Chun might have gone there?!”

A remote dark garage, an enclosed space. Cars and the bike would also have rearview mirrors.

Xiao Xia turned pale at the information. She knew they had found the right place. It had to be that place!

She turned around and signaled at Ruan Zhan that they had a lead, before saying solemnly to Liu Tie: “Promise me not to go there in the next few days.”

“Why? Tao Xiao Chun, she….”

“That might be the last place she appeared. You would mess up the scene which would affect the chances of finding her. Therefore, you mustn’t go. And don’t let anyone else know about this, understood?”

“But is there a need for such secrecy? Why not report it to the police?”

“I’ll handle that part.” Xiao Xia was forced to reveal some information. “This might involve the murder case and we aren’t sure who we’re up against. Therefore, you must stay out of it or you might affect the entire case. Promise me you won’t go.”

Seeing Xiao Xia’s rare stern expression, Liu Tie involuntarily nodded in agreement. But he suddenly remembered something and said hesitantly: “There’s another thing I don’t know if I should mention. I also don’t know why I would think of it now, but I feel it isn’t something good. I think it might be of some use to you!”

“What is it?”

“Recently, there’s been someone asking around about things at school.” Liu Tie didn’t know how to put it. “Doesn’t seem like a cop. I feel he’s a little weird.”

“How so?”

“He’s in his forties with very pale skin. He’s a little portly. Actually, he’s pretty good looking, but how should I put it? He makes people feel uncomfortable.”

A strange man? Who could that be?

  1. Adding Xiao (little) in front of a name is a casual way of addressing someone, like a nickname. Kind of like Timmy for Tim. Same character in Xiao Xia and Xiao Chun, though not sure if those are also nicknames.
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