"He's the one I told you about last time. My fated alpha."
Hearing that, Xie Han drew in a cold, sharp breath and held it.
He furrowed his brows, thinking back to the boy he'd seen just now. The kid had looked fairly young and dumb. Xie Han didn't like this at all.
Why had some fated mate emerged at a time like this? Xie Han had waited so many years. He'd finally worked up the courage to propose to Shen Wenjun, and now some alpha sent by destiny had popped up.
As soon as he mentioned Teng Rui, Shen Wenjun felt his own anger flare up again. Shen Wenjun irritably groused, "Let's not talk about him, this whole debacle is cursed. After we first met, I didn't plan on seeking him out again. Yet he had the gall to use his connections to get an internship as a clerk at my office.
"He was there when I arrived, and he made nothing but trouble for me all day. He honestly wasn't the least bit helpful. And just before you came to pick me up, he had the audacity to ask for my phone number, saying he wanted to get to know me…"
"Did you give it to him?" Xie Han asked.
"Of course I didn't," Shen Wenjun answered. "Why should I? No matter how you look at him, he isn't good enough for me, right?"
Everyone knew Shen Wenjun had extraordinarily high standards for his prospective spouse.
"Just because our pheromones are extremely compatible, I have to accept him?" Shen Wenjun complained.
With a sour note in his tone of voice, Xie Han asked, "Isn't it possible that you're rejecting him now because you've only just met? Maybe after you spend some time with him… I see cases like this all the time. Fate is fate. When two people in a destined alpha-omega pair meet up, they gradually develop feelings for each other. Those feelings inevitably deepen into love, under the influence of their pheromones, even if they don't like each other at first…"
"I would never!" Shen Wenjun huffed. "What do you take me for?!"
Xie Han calmly, rationally reasoned, "I'm just stating the facts as I know them."
"It's my birthday today," Shen Wenjun snapped. "Can't you talk about something pleasant? Don't bring him up anymore. He'll be scared off by me in a few days. This 'fated alpha' nonsense is just that—nonsense."
If Shen Wenjun's fated alpha had been an outstanding person, Xie Han would have accepted it. But seeing as the kid was just a hot mess, how could Xie Han simply back down?
He still wanted to shoot his shot.
It seemed that kid was nowhere near as capable as Xie Han. So why should he give up now?
The two men finally arrived at the restaurant they'd booked.
Xie Han had ordered a birthday cake.
He'd had a perfect plan. After dinner, they would go out for drinks. Along the way, they would pass by the park where they used to hang out as kids. They would sit together for a while, and then Xie Han would naturally profess his love, take out a ring, and propose.
Shen Wenjun could reject him, or he could accept.
Xie Han guesstimated that the probability of Shen Wenjun accepting was… around twenty percent?
…no, probably ten percent.
Maybe not even ten percent.
Now that this unexpected variable of Teng Rui had entered the equation, the probability of a 'yes' may have sunk even lower.
As a police officer, Xie Han was a cautious and levelheaded man. He would never close a case without conclusive evidence.
Xie Han brushed the ring box in his pants pocket again. He touched it absently, then touched it again. In the end, he didn't take it out. Even if Shen Wenjun accepted his proposal, with Teng Rui in the picture, Xie Han would always worry that Shen Wenjun would develop feelings for Teng Rui under the influence of their pheromones…
The pheromones-based attraction between alphas and omegas was an irresistible force that a beta like Xie Han could never hope to disrupt.
But in his many years as a detective, he'd seen some pertinent cases.
Some crimes of passion were committed precisely because of these chains of fate.
For example, a married alpha and omega could feel a very steady, stable affection for each other. In modern society, most alpha-omega couples married after dating and conducting a pheromone compatibility test. If the test showed that their compatibility was relatively high, they would generally always stay together. Because there were seven billion people in the world. The chances of finding your fated mate, with a 100% compatibility rate, was like searching for a needle in a haystack in the sea.
But it wasn't impossible. One partner in a married pair could meet someone new, someone whose pheromones were extremely compatible with theirs. The originally steady, stable marriage could be destroyed, and not every partner could let their other half go with a smile.
Some of these cases ended in tragedy.
When Xie Han surfaced from his wandering thoughts, Shen Wenjun had already unboxed the cake.
Shen Wenjun was delighted. "It's my favorite, nama chocolate cake. Thank you! Haha, you get me this same cake every year, but I never get tired of it."
He couldn't wait to cut into the cake and take a bite.
"You haven't lit the candles and made a wish yet," Xie Han said.
"How old are we already?" Shen Wenjun countered, displeased by the thought of all that fuss. "Are we still children?"
"Stop. We have to stick to tradition."
Shen Wenjun had no choice but to set down the knife and wait as Xie Han planted the candles and lit them with his lighter.
Then Xie Han earnestly performed a heartfelt rendition of 'Happy Birthday' in a deep voice that seemed to boom from his chest.
Shen Wenjun's face reddened. He lowered his voice and chided, "You're really singing? Stop it, stop singing. I'm so embarrassed."
Xie Han paused. "Then make a wish, quick. I'll stop singing once you make a wish."
Shen Wenjun hurriedly closed his eyes and made a wish, taking at most three seconds to blow out the candles. He opened his eyes again and gazed up at Xie Han. "Okay, okay. Done. You can stop singing now."
Every year, he chided Xie Han like this. And every time the next year rolled around, Xie Han would sing for him again.
Truth be told, Shen Wenjun didn't hate it. He did find it a little embarrassing, but it was proof of the fact that they truly were the best of friends.
The two finished their birthday dinner.
Shen Wenjun had already eaten and drunk his fill. While Xie Han mulled over whether or not he should still take Shen Wenjun to visit the places they used to frequent in their youth, Shen Wenjun suddenly said, "Alright! Birthday over. Let's go home! I still have a case to finish!"
Xie Han was rendered speechless.
Shen Wenjun was bursting with energy. Xie Han could only say, "…alright. Need any help?"
"Sure," Shen Wenjun said. "You can help me organize my documents."
As a result, they went straight home.
Shen Wenjun had turned one of the rooms in his apartment into a special study where he could work. He had everything he needed in that room, including a whiteboard with all sorts of analytical information scrawled across the front.
This man was a workaholic.
As soon as he got home, Shen Wenjun took off his suit and changed into something much more comfortable—a t-shirt and a pair of boxers.
Although Xie Han wasn't a professional law clerk, he and Shen Wenjun had a deep, tacit understanding. They worked very well together.
Shen Wenjun's study was a mess. He had a pile of papers here, a stack of documents there.
"How about I help you tidy up?" Xie Han suggested.
"No need," Shen Wenjun said. "Just leave the mess alone. If you tidy up, I'll have to spend time looking for what I need, and I'll mess everything up again while I'm looking for things. Better to just leave it this way. I remember where everything is, anyway."
Xie Han nodded. "Alright."
He saw Shen Wenjun sitting cross-legged in an ergonomic chair, furrowing his brow deeply at a certain case file.
"What's the case?" Xie Han asked.
Shen Wenjun let him take a look. "Mm, see for yourself."
Later, at midnight.
"Time for sleep, yeah?" Xie Han said.
Shen Wenjun huffed and argued, "I'll sleep later. Let me check some more foreign cases to see if there are any I can draw from. I'll just check two more."
Xie Han could only sit back down. "I'll look with you."
The next day, Shen Wenjun had to leave for work.
"I still have a few days before I need to report to my new precinct," Xie Han said. "I'll keep looking into this. You handle the other cases on your plate first."
But even two days later, when Xie Han reported for duty at his new precinct, they'd still yet to find anything of use.
Since they lived together, they could at least leave work together.
On his first day of work at the new precinct, Xie Han wandered over to Shen Wenjun's office to look for him. The two of them worked quite close to each other; even on foot, it was only a fifteen-minute trip.
When Xie Han arrived, Teng Rui had just stepped out to get some air. Teng Rui instantly remembered this tall, handsome guy when he saw him approaching, and he couldn't help but stare.
Xie Han walked right up to him. "Hello. You're the new intern Shen Wenjun mentioned, right?"
Teng Rui nodded stiffly. "Y… yes, that's… that's me. H… hello, sir. You're Shen-laoshi's friend?"
Xie Han nodded as well. "That's right. Nice to meet you, my name is Xie Han. I just transferred over to the precinct down the block."
"I… I'm Teng Rui. Law student at H Law."
"Where's your Shen-laoshi?" Xie Han asked.
"In the office," Teng Rui answered.
Teng Rui felt like he needed to get on good terms with Shen Wenjun's good friend, so he asked, "Can… can I get your contact info?"
Xie Han was surprised for a second, then flashed a slight smile. "Sure."
He exchanged cell phone numbers with Teng Rui, and they added each other on WeChat as well.
Teng Rui was thinking that he might be able to learn something about Shen Wenjun by checking out Xie Han's social media posts. He figured he could also ask Xie Han about Shen Wenjun's interests. If he didn't find a way in, he really wouldn't know how to start pursuing Shen Wenjun.
After that exchange, Teng Rui led Xie Han to Shen Wenjun.
As soon as Teng Rui opened the office door, Shen Wenjun looked up and met the sight of him with a sour face. But then he saw Xie Han, and his expression changed into something much gentler.
Since their pheromones were extremely compatible, Teng Rui could detect subtle changes in Shen Wenjun's pheromones that would have been missed by other alphas.
Even Shen Wenjun himself seemed unaware of the change.
But Teng Rui noticed.
When Xie Han entered the room, Shen Wenjun's pheromones became a little sweeter.