Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Song Shengsheng would not commit suicide.
No one would die before their wish was about to be fulfilled.
Lin Chen thought so before walking into that bathroom.
But when he really walked through the door of the bathroom in the face of the flashing lights of the forensic camera, the scene inside still made him almost kneel to the ground. He forcibly pulled the door frame so that he wouldn’t lose his composure when he met Song Shengsheng for the first time.
He had never seen such a scene of death. The scene in front of him was too miserable, too astounding, that his five senses seemed to shut off. He watched everything in front of him coldly, as if he were a ghost in another world.
At the end of the dark green tiles, there was an ivory-white bathtub. There was a man sitting quietly in the tub. He was resting his hands on the tub. Because he hadn’t seen the sun for so long, his skin was pale, and the corners of his mouth seemed to have a tinge of a naïve smile. The withered but soft short hair stuck to his cold forehead. He really didn’t look young anymore. Eight years of imprisonment had tortured him to the point where he had lost his human form. He was like a skeleton that had a thin layer of skin covering him, but even so, at the moment of his death, he seemed to return to his 18-year-old appearance.
He was so relaxed and at ease. Although the bathtub was full of blood, he seemed to be lying in snow-like light, and all his suffering had disappeared.
Lin Chen took a deep breath, walked into the bathroom, and went up to Song Shengsheng.
This was the first time he had met Song Shengsheng, and it was also a meeting he had been looking forward to for a long time. However, this meeting came too late, and they were already separated by life and death.
Lin Chen bent down, trying to touch Song Shengsheng’s cheek.
At this moment, Xing Conglian grabbed his hand. The moment the warm palm touched his skin, the surrounding scene instantly took off its transparent shell, and all the colors, smells, and sounds rushed into his mind frantically. The strong scent of blood submerged his entire body, choking him, and he wanted to vomit, but he still endured.
He stood straight and looked at Song Shengsheng’s body carefully.
There was a bloody gash on Song Shengsheng’s neck. It was an extremely ugly wound, like a black hole that could absorb all light.
The blood was half-dry, and his head fell limply to the edge of the bathtub, like a long-dead white swan in a pond under the pure blue sky that illuminated the transparent lake water; it was heartbreakingly beautiful.
“What is the preliminary determination of the cause of death and time of death?” Lin Chen stood in front of Song Shengsheng’s body, not knowing how he could still speak.
“Suicide,” the medical examiner who was beside him said. “The time of death was around 3:30 in the morning on June 1st.”
“He couldn’t have committed suicide,” Lin Chen said categorically.
“Are you questioning my professional ability?” Mr. Medical Examiner asked rhetorically.
Xing Conglian interrupted them, “What did he use?”
“Razor blade.” The medical examiner squatted down, unfolded Song Shengsheng’s curled hands, and showed it to them. “Mr. Song Shengsheng removed the blade from the razor and cut his throat vigorously. The scars on his fingers can prove this.”
Lin Chen’s gaze fell on Song Shengsheng’s throat again. The wound was bloody, but he could still feel Song Shengsheng’s decisive attitude from the depths of the incision.
Song Shengsheng was determined to die without hesitation.
“Give me a pair of gloves,” Lin Chen said to the police officer next to him.
The other party quickly brought a pair of rubber gloves. Lin Chen put them on and began to examine Song Shengsheng’s body.
The moment he pulled Song Shengsheng’s finger, there was a shout from behind him. “Lin Chen, what are you doing? Why are you touching him?!”
He turned his head and saw that Xiang Ye was standing at the bathroom door. He looked angry. If the police officer hadn’t stopped him, Lin Chen felt that Xiang Ye’s fist would have swung at his cheek.
Lin Chen looked at Xiang Ye coldly. “Don’t get emotional. I’m just looking for evidence that he won’t commit suicide.” After saying this to Xiang Ye, he looked at the two police officers opposite the door and said, “Please remove all idlers from the crime scene.”
After saying this, he no longer cared about Xiang Ye’s yelling and began to carefully check Song Shengsheng’s fingers.
Although Song Shengsheng’s fingers were covered with blood, the nails of his right index finger were shorter and flatter than his other four fingers, and there were thick calluses growing from there.
He still remembered that on the edge of that small bed in the Yanjia Lane bakery where Song Shengsheng slept, there was also a very deep & engraved on it. That & was caused by his countless tracings. It represented his agreement with the fans. It contained countless meanings, such as persistence, faith, and protection. If Song Shengsheng didn’t die by suicide, if he had faith, this symbol would definitely appear around him, and he had a blade in his hand, so he would carve something on the inner wall of the bathtub…
With such thoughts in his mind, Lin Chen checked Song Shengsheng’s hand over and over again, then he checked the inner lining of the bathtub. The inner lining was indeed filled with countless small scratches, but there were no nicks of any shape resembling an “&”.
The more he couldn’t find it, the more flustered Lin Chen’s thoughts became. It must have been blood that covered this last symbol, or for some other reason. How could Song Shengsheng lose his faith? How could he suddenly commit suicide?
He and Song Shengsheng were so close, as if he could pull the person in front of him back from the shadow of death with his hand, but he couldn’t do anything. He looked at Song Shengsheng’s face and thought solemnly, ‘What should I do? I don’t even have evidence to prove that you won’t die so easily.’
Lin Chen gradually felt desperate, and he could hardly control his movements.
At this moment, Xing Conglian grabbed him.
The man’s metallic voice sounded in his ears. “Enough.”
Lin Chen propped his hand on the bathtub. He hung his head and slowly turned it. He saw the police officers around him looking at him like a madman. He looked at Xing Conglian again, only to hear the other party say, “Let’s go out and take a breather.”
Xing Conglian’s gaze was so firm that it was like his dark green eyes were burning with some kind of flame, and that indestructible, firm emotion made Lin Chen instantly wake up.
“Okay,” he replied.
Lin Chen followed Xing Conglian out of the bathroom and handed over the scene to the on-site police officers.
Song Shengsheng was staying in a luxury suite on the top floor of the hotel. Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, the entire city seemed to be in a deep sleep. The scattered streetlights were like tears, and the place farther between the sky and the earth was showing a dark blue that could only be seen at dawn.
This was the third time he had been to Yongchuan recently. Although the mood was different every time, whether he was facing the collective subconscious of those students or Li Jingtian, he always believed he could overcome everything. Not only did he no longer have faith, he also lost hope.
Xing Conglian put his hands on his shoulders, overlooking the entire city with him. “I’m sorry.”
Hearing this, Lin Chen stared blankly at Xing Conglian and asked, “Why?”
“The responsibility for Song Shengsheng’s death should be borne by me. It has nothing to do with you.” Xing Conglian looked at him deeply and didn’t give him any chance to counter. “In fact, your hunch wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t fully believe and support your judgment. Specifically, I had many ways to help you see Song Shengsheng in advance, such as by forcibly breaking into Song Shengsheng’s residence. It was my failure to do my best that caused this consequence.”
His tone was gentle but sad. It was the first time Lin Chen saw Xing Conglian speak with such regret, but it wasn’t self-blame. In his own words, he was taking responsibility.
Lin Chen didn’t pay attention to what Xing Conglian said, but when he looked into Xing Conglian’s eyes, he realized that Xing Conglian was also deeply sad at this moment. It was only then that he discovered that, in his mind, he had always believed that Xing Conglian was unparalleled and invisible, but in fact, Xing Conglian was also human and could be sad. Lin Chen thought that for Xing Conglian, he needed to be a little stronger.
He suppressed those painful emotions again and turned to Xing Conglian and said, “The two of us should not rush to take responsibility.”
Xing Conglian glanced at him hesitantly, as if he were trying to find his true emotions in his eyes, but Lin Chen thought he was still more professional. “I don’t think Song Shengsheng committed suicide.”
He quickly used the topic to deflect Xing Conglian’s attention.
“So, what were you looking for just now…” Xing Conglian frowned and asked, “That symbol?”
Lin Chen nodded.
“Have you seen Song Shengsheng’s finger? He kept drawing that symbol repeatedly to the point where he developed calluses. He kept reminding himself to persevere. Even in that dark prison life, he persisted. Why would he die before he got what he wanted?” Lin Chen looked back. There was no one around them, but he still lowered his voice. “I think there’s a problem here.”
“But you didn’t find that &.”
“Yes, this is what I can’t grasp.” Lin Chen continued, “Although I have never met him, I am probably the person who knows him best in the world. People who choose to commit suicide mostly do so because they want to use death to relieve the pain, but Song Shengsheng has already experienced Li Jingtian’s painful torture and a hopeless life in prison. If he’s capable of enduring that kind of suffering and pain, then I don’t know what other pain there is in this world that he can’t bear?”
“In other words, there are two possibilities now. First, someone forced him to commit suicide. Second, there is something more painful than his prison life that he could no longer endure, and this pain overcame his remaining love for the world…”
Lin Chen couldn’t bear what Xing Conglian said and shook his head. “I don’t know whether he was forced to commit suicide, but I think it’s not because he couldn’t bear the pain that he chose to die.” He gently put his hand on Xing Conglian’s neck, wiped it, and said solemnly, “It’s just a feeling, but you see, choosing to slit your own throat is one of the fastest ways to die. If it goes well, he will die within ten seconds. No matter what the cause of his suicide was, his determination was unmatched.”
Xing Conglian asked, “Then let’s change the question. Apart from the shortest death time, why did he choose to slit his throat? This really makes me think about what Li Jingtian did.”
“I don’t know.” Lin Chen felt a splitting headache again. Everything seemed to be inextricably linked, but he couldn’t see through the thick blood. “Li Jingtian will arrive today. Of course, we have a chance to ask him face to face, but, no matter why he chose to die, I suspect there’s something wrong with Xiang Ye.”
From the earliest phone call, Xiang Ye had an unwarranted and inexplicable hostility towards him.
Although he also agreed in his heart that the reason for Xiang Ye’s dissatisfaction with him was because he forcibly opened Song Shengsheng’s painful past, he still suspected that it was Xiang Ye who prevented him from meeting Song Shengsheng.
Xing Conglian glanced at him and said, “Song Shengsheng is dead. The hotel surveillance also proves that Xiang Ye was in his room when Song Shengsheng died. We don’t have any evidence to prove that there’s something wrong with him.”
“Indeed, not only do we have no evidence, we also don’t have any direction to find evidence,” Lin Chen said, then he paused for a moment. “But it doesn’t seem that there’s no direction at all. The reason why I think Xiang Ye is problematic is that just now, Xiang Ye wanted to put the blame for Song Shengsheng’s suicide on me.” Lin Chen smiled bitterly. “It’s not that I don’t want to take responsibility. In fact, I’m probably the only person in the world who wants to take responsibility for his death besides you, but at least it’s not time for us to make our closing statements and condemn ourselves.”
“As of now, on the surface, Xiang Ye treated Song Shengsheng pretty well. To prove your point, the first thing to do is to prove he isn’t as good as he appears. He either hurt Song Shengsheng or forced Song Shengsheng, which indirectly led to his suicide.” Xing Conglian raised another critical question. “How do you prove this?”
Lin Chen shook his head. “I don’t know. There may be problems that we can’t imagine now, but I know that if Xiang Ye wants me to take responsibility, he will definitely find witnesses to prove that Song Shengsheng’s death was my fault and then set off a huge PR offensive, making me the target of the public. Then, when he starts to act, it may also be the time he starts making mistakes.”
“For example, finding the psychiatrist who treated Song Shengsheng?” Xing Conglian asked.
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