THE FLESH OF A SWAN

Chapter 8

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Teng Rui had worn a suit to his internship that day, but he clearly still possessed the naïveté of a young boy.

Shen Wenhao watched with keen interest as Teng Rui blindly followed Shen Wenjun around, like a little puppy attached to Shen Wenjun's heels.

But Teng Rui never dared speak to Shen Wenjun during their time at the research institute.

After a while, Shen Wenjun stepped away to visit the restroom.

Teng Rui followed Shen Wenjun's retreating form with his gaze until Shen Wenjun disappeared from sight. Then he snuck a glance at Shen Wenhao, clearly wanting to say something.

Shen Wenhao flashed him a small smile and asked, "Is something the matter?"

Teng Rui blushed fiercely, feeling like he was about to sneakily do something bad. His pulse quickened as he asked, "Can… can I get your contact info?"

Shen Wenhao seemed to understand right away. "Oh… Little Jun didn't give you his contact information?"

He'd hit the nail on the head. Teng Rui shifted awkwardly, not knowing whether or not he should nod.

"Mm," he confirmed in the end. "He doesn't like me very much. Maybe our age difference is too big. Maybe I'm not mature enough. He seems to look down on me, like he doesn't think I'm good enough for him."

Teng Rui couldn't help but sigh.

Shen Wenhao laughed out loud. He laughed so hard and so much that Teng Rui grew even more unbearably embarrassed. Teng Rui's face flushed an even deeper shape of red.

Finally, Shen Wenhao patted Teng Rui on the shoulder. With mirth in his voice, he said, "Then let me explain on my little brother's behalf. It isn't that he looks down on you. It's that he looks down on all alphas who pursue him. I've never seen him take an interest in any alpha before."

Teng Rui wasn't sure if that qualified as a reassuring explanation, but he could only try to see it as such.

He lifted his cell phone and looked up at Shen Wenhao with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. "So… so can I?"

Shen Wenhao couldn't help but think, What a pitiful little boy. What calamity must he have wrought in his past life to earn himself the fate of being my little sister's husband in this life?

He lifted a hand and patted Teng Rui's head before fishing out his own cell phone. "Of course you can. I was going to ask for a way to contact you anyway, in case I need to call you back for further experiments."

After finally obtaining Shen Wenjun's older brother's contact information, Teng Rui's eyes lit up with delight. He added, "Can I ask you about Shen Wenjun, then? He won't tell me anything about himself. I know I'm not good enough for him yet, but I won't just give up."

"Sure," Shen Wenhao answered nonchalantly.

When Shen Wenjun returned, he found these two people chatting and laughing together.

As soon as he spotted Shen Wenjun, Teng Rui immediately composed himself and quieted down.

"We're leaving," Shen Wenjun said.

He did politely say goodbye to his brother before they headed out. Teng Rui followed him silently. He had been met with too many instances of devastating misfortune that day, so he couldn't help but think that Shen Wenhao was a really good person. Shen Wenhao was the only person he'd met all day who'd offered him some peace of mind.

Teng Rui couldn't resist turning back and surreptitiously waving at Shen Wenhao on their way out.

Shen Wenjun saw this reflected in the glass doors in front of them, but he didn't let his gaze linger.

They made their way to the elevator.

Shen Wenjun pressed the button for Level 1 of the underground parking lot, then impassively told Teng Rui, "Hit the lobby for yourself."

Teng Rui obediently pressed the button before he asked, "Why the lobby?"

"I'm driving back," Shen Wenjun answered icily. "You catch a cab."

Teng Rui stared at him.

"You're a college student, an adult," Shen Wenjun continued. "You aren't a child, you aren't a girl, and you aren't an omega. There's no reason you can't make your own way back to school at night, is there? Do you honestly need me to escort you back?"

A short while later, Teng Rui stood at the side of the road and stared mournfully at Shen Wenjun's car as it pulled out from the underground parking lot and left.

 

Shen Wenjun got home, showered, and went to sleep. He got up early the next morning and went to knock lightly at Xie Han's bedroom door. There was no answer, and the door wasn't locked.

He opened the door and found that the bed inside was neatly made. Xie Han clearly hadn't come home last night.

With a homicide case on his hands, Xie Han must have worked overnight, right? Shen Wenjun knew how busy a detective's life could be.

Shen Wenjun fetched his cell phone and checked his unread messages. As expected, in the early hours of morning when he'd been asleep, Xie Han had sent him a message saying he would be working overnight.

Shen Wenjun thought for a moment, then wrote back, Will you be coming home these next few days?

There was no immediate response. Shen Wenjun figured Xie Han may have been catching up on sleep after a long night of work. He was just about to put his phone into his pocket when it vibrated. When he looked at it again, he found it was actually Xie Han giving him a call.

"Hey," Xie Han greeted. His voice was full of fatigue. He sounded like he was running on fumes.

"You've been up all night, and you're still not sleeping?" Shen Wenjun asked.

Xie Han hummed vaguely. "I just stepped out for a smoke."

 

Behind the police station.

Xie Han was leaning against the wall with a cigarette dangling between his lips. He just wanted to hear Shen Wenjun speak some more, to hear his voice for a while longer. That would instantly wake him up.

Shen Wenjun repeated his question. "Will you be coming home these next few days?"

"I might not have time," Xie Han said.

Shen Wenjun wasn't bothered. "Mm, alright. Catch the bad guy soon."

The two of them didn't chat for too long. They never minced words.

 

Shen Wenjun thought some more as he got ready to head out. Before he left the apartment, he suddenly remembered something and turned around. He returned to Xie Han's room, intending to grab a few coats for him. He could drop them off at the precinct on his way to work.

The past few days had been pretty cold. It wouldn't do for Xie Han to get sick.

Shen Wenjun personally felt like he was being a very thoughtful, competent friend.

When he opened Xie Han's closet, Shen Wenjun was met by a sea of black and gray fabrics. Everything was convenient to wear, easy to keep clean, washable, and plain. There was nothing fancy or flashy about Xie Han's wardrobe.

Shen Wenjun felt these clothes were a good fit for Xie Han's serious and prudent nature.

While pulling out a few jackets, Shen Wenjun felt something slip out and fall to the floor. He looked down and picked it up, finding that it was a small box.

He furrowed his brow and thought, Doesn't this look like a ring box?

Shen Wenjun's heart seemed to skip a beat. For some unfathomable reason, his pulse seemed to grow uneven.

He opened the box.

A ring was nestled in the black swansdown lining.

Shen Wenjun stared, dumbfounded, for several minutes before finally coming back to his senses.

He was assaulted by an unprecedented sort of frustration.

Xie Han was planning to propose to his girlfriend?

But when did Xie Han even get a girlfriend? Why hadn't Xie Han told him about this? Weren't they the best of friends? How could Xie Han hide something like this from him?

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