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    Loves Error

    The onlooking police officers felt a chill down their spines. They couldn’t decide if it was because a grown man was calling another grown man “baby,” or because Yu Duqiu was smiling cheekily while threatening to chop off someone’s hand.

    Ji Lin was adaptable and was already used to Yu Duqiu’s erratic behavior. What surprised him was Bai Zhao. After being threatened in such a sweet yet gruesome manner, Bai Zhao actually held Yu Duqiu’s hand.

    And it was a ten-finger interlock.

    “You’re not my master, and I’m not your dog. I have serious business to discuss, so please be quiet.”

    Yu Duqiu stared curiously at their interlocked hands. He was naturally cold, even in early summer, his skin felt slightly cool. Bai Zhao, in contrast, had a hand that was abnormally warm, like a nervous student about to give a speech or a shy boy holding his crush’s hand for the first time.

    Yu Duqiu looked at Bai Zhao’s face up close—nothing about it said “pure” except perhaps pure desire. His eyes revealed a barely hidden, pure desire.

    This person must want something from him.

    That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Relationships bound by interests could sometimes be stronger and longer-lasting than those based on ephemeral emotions.

    The two were very close. Yu Duqiu whispered, “Okay, I’ll listen to you this time as an apology for this morning… Hmm? What a fresh scent, did you shower?”

    “Yes.”

    “Nice, I like cleanliness.”

    Just as Ji Lin thought Yu Duqiu would get angry, Yu Duqiu withdrew his hand, placed it on his knee, and surprisingly stayed quiet, nodding slightly to signal Bai Zhao to continue.

    Bai Zhao stood up straight again, clenched his hands into fists at his sides, exhaled softly, and then explained the connection between his foster father’s death and two other cases.

    In Pingyi City, Xinjin District and Changhe District were opposite each other on the map, about fifty or sixty kilometers apart, but information within the police system flowed quickly. After listening, Peng Deyu recalled, “A few months ago, I heard about an accidental drowning in Changhe. It was resolved. They found ‘stamps’ on the deceased and the coroner detected residual LSD. After investigation and site inspection, no signs of harm or foul play were found. It was determined that he overdosed on LSD, hallucinated, and accidentally walked into the sea and drowned. If you dispute this conclusion, you can request a review from the Changhe Public Security Bureau. I know Director Hu there; I can put in a word for you.”

    Bai Zhao shook his head, “Based on the current clues, no matter how many times we request a review, the result will be the same. But I don’t believe it was an accident.”

    Peng Deyu stroked the stubble that had grown overnight, pondering, “It’s indeed suspicious that both cases involve LSD, but these are just your suspicions, not evidence. While LSD-related cases are rare here, they’re not unheard of. It could be a coincidence.”

    Ji Lin added, “Furthermore, what connection is there between Bo Zhiming, an ordinary employee, and Yu Wencheng, a millionaire fund manager? We need to verify this; random speculations could mislead our investigation.”

    Yu Duqiu, who had been behaving for a while, suddenly raised his hand like a diligent student eager to answer, “If you must find a connection, Bo Zhiming’s boss’s brother was my high school classmate.”

    Whenever he spoke, no matter how serious the topic or heavy the atmosphere, his casual tone would make it seem like a joke.

    Everyone in the room, except him, had jobs that required extreme caution. His interruption made veteran cadres like Peng Deyu and Tang Zhong immediately frown.

    Although Ji Lin was young, he was also quite traditional in his conduct. While other young officers used electronic devices to record meeting minutes, he used a paper notebook and pen, a habit picked up from somewhere. At this moment, he was also annoyed and retorted, “So, Mr. Yu, are you saying you’re the connection between the two cases? Are you a suspect?”

    “I never said that.”

    “Then shut…” Ji Lin remembered they were using his meeting room and grudgingly changed his words, “…shut your eyes and rest for a while. Maybe when you wake up, the case will be solved.”

    Yu Duqiu seemed oblivious to reading the room or simply did as he pleased. He actually closed his eyes, leaned back in the office chair, relaxed completely, and playfully turned the chair, “Alright, I was up late last night and didn’t rest well. I’ll tell you about the third related case after I wake up.”

    Dozens of sharp gazes instantly shot toward him!

    If looks could kill, Yu Duqiu would have been riddled with holes.

    Peng Deyu’s tone was both curious and sarcastic, “As far as I know, there have only been two LSD-related cases in the city this year. Where’s this third one? Mr. Yu, you seem to have a godly ability to know more than I, the chief.”

    “You flatter me. You certainly know this case; you just don’t know the connection.”

    Ji Lin was furious, “Since you have clues, why not share them?”

    “No, I think you’re right. I should rest first.”

    Ji Lin wanted to slap himself, turned to look at Peng Deyu, who helplessly shook his head. Then he looked at the others; only Lu Qing in the corner was cheering him on, mouthing, “Be brave, Ji Lin, if anything happens, take responsibility yourself!”

    “…”

    Ji Lin couldn’t get off the stage and, with little hope, looked at Bai Zhao.

    For no other reason, just judging from Bai Zhao stopping Yu Duqiu earlier, he seemed like someone who wasn’t afraid of authority, and Yu Duqiu seemed to respond well to that.

    Perhaps Bai Zhao received his silent plea for help or was simply annoyed by Yu Duqiu’s teasing. He boldly kicked the office chair, “Can you stop fooling around? You’re twenty-seven, not seven.”

    The wheeled chair slid half a meter, Yu Duqiu was caught off guard, his shoes screeched on the floor to stop, and he opened his eyes slowly, “Baby, watch your behavior. Your face is only worth forgiving ten times.”

    Bai Zhao grabbed the armrest of the chair and pulled Yu Duqiu back, leaning in to ask, “Only ten times?”

    Yu Duqiu took the opportunity to touch him, surprisingly finding his skin smooth, and felt satisfied. “Twenty times works too.”

    Flirting in public, and with two men at that, in front of a group of police officers in the middle of solving a case, left the officers of the Xinjin precinct staring at each other. Lu Qing covered his eyes but couldn’t resist peeking through his fingers. “So weird, but… let me look one more time.”

    Ji Lin took a deep breath, his mouth twitching, and asked, “Mr. Yu, can you tell us what the third case is? The longer you delay, the more likely the killer will escape. Do you want to let the murderer who killed your uncle go free?”

    The office chair swiveled back to its original position. Yu Duqiu sat up straight, rested his arms on the desk, and shed his nonchalant demeanor. His voice became much more serious. “Don’t worry, I was just teasing. I’ll tell you now.”

    Ji Lin suppressed his irritation and focused all his attention, curious to hear what Yu Duqiu had to say.

    “It was a case from last year, also in Changhe District, like Bo Zhiming’s. Two people died, including a city police detective. You should all have heard about it.”

    Ji Lin’s face changed dramatically, nearly jumping out of his chair. “How do you know about that case? You just returned to the country!”

    When Yu Duqiu wasn’t being mischievous, he looked like a classical painting, his lowered eyelashes hiding his emotions, making it seem like he had many stories, drawing people in. After he finished speaking, he seemed to recall something, drumming his fingers on the table rhythmically. “Coincidentally, that detective was my friend and high school classmate, named Mu Hao. After graduating, he went to the police academy and then joined the city detective team. We hadn’t seen each other for many years and had planned to meet and drink until we dropped. But before we could meet… sigh.”

    Peng Deyu nodded. “Yes, I’ve heard about it. A detective’s murder is a big deal internally. This case didn’t happen in our jurisdiction, and the city bureau didn’t ask for our cooperation. Our hands were tied. However, Little Ji seemed to have a good relationship with that detective and went to the city bureau and Changhe precinct several times to inquire about the case’s progress.”

    Yu Duqiu raised his eyes, seemingly surprised. “Captain Ji, you knew Mu Hao?”

    Ji Lin, like a wary antelope sensing danger, was tense and filled with distrust. “Mu Hao and I were in the same year at the police academy. Our relationship was just that of ordinary classmates. After graduation, he joined the city bureau because of his excellent grades, and we had less contact. I did hear him mention a wealthy, reckless friend once. So it was you.”

    Yu Duqiu covered his lips with his fingers, his laugh muffled but his voice deep and pleasant. “His description of me is quite accurate. So, Captain Ji, you should know the details of the case, right?”

    Ji Lin glared at him. “I do, but why should I reveal the details to an outsider like you?”

    Yu Duqiu countered, “What, are you Mu Hao’s spouse? I haven’t heard of him getting married.”

    “You’re talking nonsense!”

    Ji Lin had delicate features, but when his face darkened, he was intimidating, a trait he learned well from Peng Deyu. Anyone timid would be too scared to speak up.

    Yu Duqiu casually played with his hair. “Just joking. Why so serious? Are you a stickler from another era? Or are the police not allowed to be gay? Captain Ji, have you ever heard the phrase, ‘homophobia means…'”

    “Enough, let’s get to the point.” Peng Deyu, still suffering from a hangover, was growing more frustrated as the case became increasingly complex. His balding head threatened to expand further, and he had no patience for small talk. “Little Ji, report everything you know. Let’s analyze the connections between these three cases.”

    “But how can I share confidential information…”

    “Does he sound like he doesn’t know anything? He probably knows more than you.”

    Ji Lin was momentarily speechless, hesitated, but ultimately didn’t dare to disobey his superior’s order. Reluctantly, he began, “The incident occurred on the night of October 27th last year, at 11 PM, at the Yiqing Bar on Songchuan Road in Changhe District. Surveillance showed Mu Hao and a waitress named Wu Min walking out and then turning into an alley beside the bar. Almost simultaneously, Wu Min’s boyfriend, Liu Shaojie, followed them, killed Wu Min… possibly also Mu Hao, then dragged their bodies into a car, drove to the seaside, and dumped them into the sea.”

    “The next day, when Wu Min didn’t show up for work, her colleagues couldn’t reach her and reported her missing. The alley’s surveillance provided solid evidence, and the city bureau, along with the Changhe precinct, quickly arrested Liu Shaojie. He confessed, claiming he killed out of jealousy and had drugged Mu Hao’s drink to incapacitate him. The officers went to the indicated dumping site but couldn’t find the bodies. A week later, Wu Min’s body washed ashore with knife wounds on her neck, but Mu Hao… remains missing.”

    Though listed as missing, everyone understood that after seven months, the sea creatures likely left only bones.

    Moreover, according to Ji Lin’s description, the case had some nuances. Mu Hao seemed to be a third party, coming out of the bar late at night with a waitress and turning into an alley… it was hard not to think in that direction. No wonder the city bureau kept it quiet, and the news was tightly controlled. If word got out that an internal detective was involved in such morally compromising behavior, it would become a hot topic, and the media would have a field day, leading to public outrage.

    “Liu Shaojie has a criminal record. His words can’t be entirely trusted.” In the awkward silence, Ji Lin felt compelled to add, “According to Wu Min’s colleagues, she often argued with her boyfriend around that time. They might have broken up, and Liu Shaojie might have acted out of jealousy over her new boyfriend. I know Mu Hao’s character well; he wouldn’t…”

    Peng Deyu sternly interrupted, “Don’t speculate without evidence.”

    Ji Lin pursed his lips. “I still think Liu Shaojie didn’t tell the whole truth. There might be more to this case.”

    Peng Deyu said, “The killer confessed, and the body was found. The case is essentially closed. Who would falsely confess to murder? Besides, you weren’t involved in the entire investigation, so there are details you don’t know. Don’t make subjective assumptions—Mr. Yu, do you mean the connection is that Bo Zhiming’s case and this one both involved bodies found by the sea? For your information, Director Hu from Changhe precinct often mentions this issue at city meetings. Their district is the city’s only coastal area, with at least seven or eight drownings, suicides, or bodies washed ashore annually. There was another suspected drowning the same month Bo Zhiming died, with the body never found. The similarities between these cases are too few to establish a connection, let alone relate them to your uncle’s case, which has nothing to do with LSD.”

    Yu Duqiu listened quietly, then looked at Ji Lin. “Captain Ji, why do you think Mu Hao’s case has more to it? Did you find any clues?”

    Ji Lin really didn’t want to engage with him but had to. “No, I just believe in his character.”

    Yu Duqiu’s expression gradually relaxed, and he suddenly smiled a more genuine smile. “I was initially worried, but since Captain Ji said so, I think it should be fine.”

    Ji Lin’s brows furrowed with confusion. “What do you mean?”

    “October 25th, two days before the incident, was Mu Hao’s birthday. Did you know that?”

    “I knew. We used to celebrate his birthday back when we were at the police academy.”

    “Do you know what birthday gift I gave him?”

    “I don’t know… Wait, was it a watch? He mentioned on his social media that he wanted a decent watch.”

    Yu Duqiu nodded. “Yes, I bought him a Patek Philippe Nautilus, worth over a million.”

    The surrounding police officers gasped, and Lu Qing covered his mouth to suppress a shout. “A watch worth over a million… casually given as a gift?”

    The others exchanged glances with varying degrees of disbelief. Yu Duqiu had just flirted shamelessly with a male waiter he had only just met, indicating his sexual orientation and lifestyle. Now he was talking about giving such an expensive gift to a detective, whose moral character seemed questionable.

    Ji Lin, like everyone else, was stunned, then suddenly erupted, striding over and pointing his finger right at Yu Duqiu’s nose. “Explain yourself in front of everyone! Don’t ruin his reputation!”

    Yu Duqiu remained still, and Bai Zhao intercepted Ji Lin’s finger less than half a meter from Yu Duqiu’s nose, preventing it from moving any closer. “Calm down, listen to him.”

    Peng Deyu sternly reprimanded, “Ji Lin! What are you doing? Get back here!”

    Ji Lin glared at Yu Duqiu, reluctantly stepping back to his position.

    Peng Deyu sighed. “I apologize on his behalf, Mr. Yu. Please continue. Why did you mention the watch?”

    “Everyone’s overthinking it. Mu Hao and I were just friends. As for why I brought up the watch, it’s because…” Yu Duqiu looked around to ensure everyone was listening. “I installed a tracker in his watch.”

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