Published at 5th of June 2019 08:35:01 PM

Chapter 25

In Chapter 25 of The Youthful You Who Was So Beautiful, we see Zheng Yi finally start to piece together the tiny, disparate clues which seems to point towards a mutual, protective relationship between Bei Ye and Chen Nian . Despite the incessant questioning which our poor youths will have to suffer again, it is a relief to see someone getting closer to discovering the inconsistencies in the story which Chen Nian and Bei Ye presented because some part of me still hopes, that there would be someone out there, who would discover the entire truth about the case of the raincoat man .


8th of June . Noon . The area immediately outside the school compound was swamped with parents waiting for their children to finish their graduation exams .

Zheng Yi also formed part of the immense crowd . Glancing at the anxious and nervous expressions  of the parents surrounding him, Zheng Yi reflected upon himself, and felt mildly amused .

Da Kang hadn’t been able to provide any useful clues after all – although Da Kang did tell Zheng Yi that Bei Ye seemed to have been involved with another girl, Da Kang hadn’t even properly met and seen that girl before .

With the clanging of the bell which signalled the end of the graduation exams, students began to rush out of the school compound like a flood . Zheng Yi was mildly taken aback – in the past, whenever Zheng Yi came to fetch Chen Nian from school, it would have been relatively late in the evening, and the school compound would be void of students .

The students had just completed the Integrated Science examination . Majority of the students had worried expressions etched onto their faces . The students who did not have any parents waiting for them simply headed home on their own, whilst those whose parents had come to fetch them were frantically sieving through the crowd, trying their best to locate their parents .

Gazing at the vast throngs of students before him, Zheng Yi felt his eyes starting to blur . Just then, he spotted Li Xiang, who had been waiting outside the school compound along with the rest of the parents . Li Xiang hadn’t participated in the Integrated Science examination, and had spent his afternoon strolling in the area outside the school compound .

As Zheng Yi had originally intended to call Li Xiang up for further questioning this afternoon, he waved Li Xiang over to him .

Li Xiang said told him that since he had nothing much to do, he had decided to drop by the school compound to experience the atmosphere of the graduation exams . “Officer Zheng, are you waiting for Chen Nian?”

Zheng Yi nodded his head .

“Please don’t tell me you’re looking for her to question her about the case of the raincoat man again . ” Li Xiang looked at Zheng Yi exasperatedly .

“No, I’m not . ” Zheng Yi smiled . “What’s with that expression on your face – it’s as though my visiting of the school compound arouses intense feelings of annoyance and irritation in you . ”

Li Xiang ran his fingers through his hair abashedly . “That’s because there’s bound to be bad news every single time you visit . ”

“Well – I’m not here to bring Chen Nian any bad news; I’m here today to treat her to a meal . ”

Li Xiang reminded Zheng Yi tirelessly, “Remember not to ask her about the graduation exams . Generally, students get annoyed whenever others ask them about anything related to their examinations . ”

Zheng Yi promised, “Sure . ”

“By the way, what course of action will the police be taking against Luo Ting and her crew?”

Zheng Yi felt at a momentary loss of words .

At present, the police officers did not have adequate evidence on hand to prosecute Luo Ting and her crew . However, once the police officers have amassed sufficient evidence which points towards Luo Ting’s guilt, they will mete out the appropriate punishment against them . Whilst such punishment would not be as traumatic or painful as the bullying which they had originally inflicted on Chen Nian, the aim of punishment in the criminal justice system was never retribution . In addition to whatever punishment that would be meted out towards Luo Ting and her crew, Zheng Yi intended to request for the group of bullies and their parents to undergo counselling and psychological treatment – he had earlier promised himself that, no matter how long, and how much effort it took, he would personally supervise each and every single counselling session, in order to ensure that the bullies and their parents were receptive and accepted the psychological treatment .

Zheng Yi didn’t respond to Li Xiang’s question, and simply reassured Li Xiang, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it . ”

Recalling the questions which he was planning about to ask Li Xiang later this afternoon, Zheng Yi felt that it was an opportune moment for him to speak to Li Xiang now . “Li Xiang . ”


“You mentioned that you’ve accompanied Chen Nian twice on her way home from school?”

“That’s right . ”

“Do you consider yourself as someone who is frequently sensitive and aware of his surroundings??

“Sensitive? Not really, I’m pretty careless and oblivious to what’s going on around me most of the time . ”

Zheng Yi inquired, “If that’s the case, how did you manage to discover that the person who was stalking Chen Nian? After all, you’ve only accompanied her twice . ”

Slightly taken aback by Zheng Yi’s question, Li Xiang paused momentarily before responding, “Because the stalker actually bumped into me once whilst I was walking with Chen Nian . ”

Bei Ye actually bumped into Li Xiang?

Zheng Yi furrowed his brows slightly .

All of a sudden, Zheng Yi recalled Xu Miao’s testimony – that Bei Ye had been brazenly staring at Xu Miao at the entrance to the school compound, with his lips curved upwards in a deprecating smile . Why was Bei Ye acting so flagrantly and blatantly whilst he was scoping out his next target?

Li Xiang was about to depart when Zheng Yi asked once more, “I recall you testifying that you brought Chen Nian out to watch a movie recently?”

“Are you referring to the movie I watched with Chen Nian the night Wei Cai disappeared? I’ve been questioned by other police officers on the coincidental timing of the movie as well . ” Li Xiang replied honestly . “The person who initiated the movie gathering was me; not Chen Nian . ”

“I know, my colleagues have informed me about this as well . ” Zheng Yi continued . “Just wanted to check whether that was the first time you and Chen Nian went out to watch a movie . ”

“Yes,  that was the first time we went to watch a movie together . ”

“Why did you suddenly decide to invite Chen Nian to watch a movie with you?”

“I didn’t think too much about it, to be honest . I just thought it would be quite fun to watch it together – after, it’s not every day that the movie theatres screen classic movies such as Titanic . ”

Li Xiang had explained his motivations and the minute details about the movie gathering in an extremely thorough fashion, and there didn’t seem to be anything further which  Zheng Yi could question Li Xiang about . However, an image of Chen Nian’s tiny and frail frame formed in Zheng Yi’s mind, and he couldn’t stop himself from pressing further, “Weren’t you the slightest bit worried that Chen Nian might reject your request?”


Zheng Yi continued, “Given Chen Nian’s personality, it seemed rather likely that she would refuse to watch Titanic with you . You’re quite brave to decide to ask Chen Nian anyway, despite the high likelihood of rejection . ”

“Oh . ” Li Xiang chuckled . “To be frank, the idea of asking Chen Nian out for a movie had long formed and taken root in my mind, but I could never find the courage to do so . One day, however, I overheard Chen Nian and Xiao Mi discussing Titanic . As Chen Nian mentioned that it would be really difficult to get tickets for Titanic, I thought that Titanic might be a movie which she might be interested in watching . ”

“I see . ” Zheng Yi responded .

Li Xiang left .

Before long, Chen Nian appeared at the entrance of the school compound . The numerous youths miling around Chen Nian enthusiastically ran towards their parents upon exiting the school compound, whilst Chen Nian quietly and silently made her way towards the general direction of her home .

Just then, Chen Nian spotted Zheng Yi in the crowd . Surprised, Chen Nian remained rooted to the spot for a short while before she changed her direction and headed towards Zheng Yi .

Zheng Yi smiled widely, his white and shiny teeth flashing brightly under the glare of the afternoon sun . “I decided to drop by since it was on the way . Come on now, I’ll treat you to a meal . ”

Chen Nian gave a quick, small nod, and began to walk in-step with Zheng Yi .

Zheng Yi’s brain was filled with innumerable thoughts, each jostling with the others in order to gain a dominant position in his brain . He had been unable to obtain any further clues regarding Bei Ye’s case; he was also able to uncover any further evidence which would reveal the exact suffering which Chen Nian had endured . He wasn’t sure the present conclusion reached by the police officers on the case involving the raincoat man was, indeed, the entire truth regarding the case, or whether, there were still stray pieces of crucial evidence lying around in hidden spots which he had been unable to discover .

The Chen Nian who was silently walking beside him resembled a wild, lonely spirit with no signs of life . The Chen Nian in the past was never so lifeless; even if she remained silent and chose not to speak a single word, she was warm, vibrant, and filled to the brim with the energy of life . The drastic change in Chen Nian’s demeanour made Zheng Yi extremely anxious to uncover the truth about what Wei Cai inflicted on Chen Nian .

They didn’t go too far, and simply settled for a restaurant opposite the school compound .

The afternoon sun was scorching . Zheng Yi switched on the electric fan which had been fixed onto the wall, allowing the electric fan to generate a gentle, cool breeze in Chen Nian’s direction . Chen Nian slowly gathered the stray hairs stuck on her neck, and began to tuck them into their rightful place .

Zheng Yi racked his brain for a conversation topic, but was unable to come up with anything . As such, he asked, “How were the graduation exams?” Zheng Yi felt that Chen Nian was not someone who would feel annoyed by questions regarding the graduation exams .

Chen Nian raised her eyes to look at Zheng Yi, “It was fine . ”

“Did you encounter any difficulty whilst answering the exam questions?”

“Not, really . ”

“That’s good to hear . ” Zheng Yi broke out into a small smile . “Whilst I was standing outside the school compound, I overheard many students complaining about the difficulty of the examination paper . ”

Chen Nian pursed her lips slightly . “Perhaps, they are trying to offer some form of comfort to each other, or, they may be trying to, instil a sense of confidence, in each other . After all, there is still another examination which we are required to sit for in the afternoon . ”

“Is that so?” Zheng Yi beamed at Chen Nian .

“I think so . ” Chen Nian fixed her clear, pure gaze onto Zheng Yi . Zheng Yi felt his heart skip a beat .

At the very moment, Zheng Yi inexplicably heaved a sigh of relief, and he felt his body starting to relax .

He had simply been overthinking the entire situation .

Chen Nian was extremely poor, so it was impossible for Chen Nian to loan anybody any money; less say loaning a huge amount of money to Bei Ye . In contrast, Bei Ye’s bank account always had more than sufficient amounts of money which had been wired to him by his various uncles and aunts . As a result, Bei Ye had cultivated relatively careless spending habits .

The collision with Li Xiang, the coincidental timing of the movie date, the partially burnt raincoat which had been discovered near Bei Ye’s home – there was no reasonable explanation which could link all these separate, disparate incidents together .

Zheng Yi refused to delve further into his thoughts, and focused on washing the chopsticks with the hot water which had been placed in front of him . Chen Nian stared at Zheng Yi for some time, before asking softly, “Did you wait very long for me?”

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Zheng Yi raised his head . Before he could formulate an answer, he remembered that he had earlier told Chen Nian that he had simply “dropped by as it was on the way” . Smiling, he replied, “No, it as a pretty short wait . ”

The chopsticks were finally clean . He passed one set of chopsticks to Chen Nian .

“Thank you . ” Chen Nian retrieved the chopsticks from Zheng Yi, and started to eat . Examinations were extremely trying on the brain; the constant thinking required Chen Nian to utilise large amounts of energy, and caused her to be extremely hungry .

“The examination in the afternoon – it’s the English examinations, right?”

“Yes . ”

“You’re pretty strong in English, aren’t you?” Zheng Yi continued, whilst placing a large piece of steamed pork in Chen Nian’s bowl .

“I’m alright . ” Chen Nian stuffed huge amounts of rice into her mouth, and nodded her head slightly .

Zheng Yi watched silently as Chen Nian scooped large amounts of food into her mouth, his lips curving into an adorable smile . Glancing at the bright red string on her pale wrist, he commented, “The color of the string on your wrist – it’s really pretty . ”

“Yes . ” Chen Nian responded . “The red string helps to keep me safe . ”

Having finished their meal, Zheng Yi proceeded to buy a cup of lemonade for Chen Nian as they began walking in the direction of Chen Nian’s house . Chen Nian walked silently beside Zheng Yi as she sipped on the cool and refreshing lemonade .

The gentle afternoon breeze helped to cool the beads of sweat which had formed on their foreheads . Turning to Chen Nian, Zheng Yi offered, “I would be able to get a few days of rest once we manage to conclude the case of the raincoat man . You should have finished your examinations by then, so if you need someone to accompany you on your holiday, please feel free to look for me . ”

Chen Nian nodded her head, “Okay . ”

When they reached the traffic junction, Zheng Yi bade his farewell, “Go back early – Try to get some rest before the English examination . ”

“Okay . ”

“Remember to set your alarm before you nap . Don’t be late for your examination . ”

“Okay . ” Chen Nian raised her head and gazed at Zheng Yi .

Zheng Yi was momentarily stunned . He could see the obvious, unmistakeable gratitude in Chen Nian’s gaze . Chen Nian had always been a grateful person; she had always been someone who would remember the tiny, minute things that others did for her .

“I’ll get going . ” Chen Nian raised her hand, and waved it gently at Zheng Yi before she turned and left .

The harsh rays of the afternoon sun beat down on Xi Cheng, playing relentlessly over the lush, green foliage whilst casting dark, grey shadows onto the ground . Zheng Yi remained at his original spot as he gazed at Chen Nian’s gradually diminishing figure, the corners of his lips unknowingly curving upwards to form a tiny, small smile . All of sudden, he was overwhelmed by an irrational urge to follow in her footsteps, to silently guard her until she reached home safely .

As soon as the thought formed in his head, he raised his feet and readied himself to chase after her . But just then .

At the very moment Zheng Yi raised his foot .

A cold, chilling shiver shot up his spine .

Because, at that very moment, Zheng Yi finally understood the feelings of a person who constantly followed in another’s footsteps, the feelings of a person who tirelessly fixated his gaze on another’s back . Zheng Yi had finally found a reasonable explanation which linked all the separate, disparate incidents together –

Bei Ye’s motivation was incorrect!

Bei Ye had never stalked Chen Nian; Bei Ye had been protecting and guarding Chen Nian from the very beginning!

Zheng Yi stood rigidly erect under the bright, strong rays of the afternoon sun, his entire body covered in a sheen of cold sweat .

Zheng Yi knew that he should take the opportunity to chase after Chen Nian, and clarify the entire situation for once and for all, but he didn’t . His feet were planted firmly on the ground, and he couldn’t muster even the slightest bit of energy to lift them and chase after Chen Nian . Just then, the familiar tune of his mobile phone rang out .

“Zheng Ge [1], we need you to return to the police station immediately . We just discovered an extremely important video . ”

“What is it about?” Zheng Yi inquired .

The other party on the line went silent for a long time, before finally formulating a response . “Just… just come back as soon as you are able . ”

Upon reaching the police station, Zheng Yi rushed into the small conference room where majority of the police officers working on the case of the raincoat man were gathered . Just as he was about to reach towards the door handle, Xiao Yao opened the door and stepped out into the corridor, her eyes brimming with tears .

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Glancing into the conference room, Zheng Yi saw that all his male colleagues had red rimmed eyes .

Lowering his voice, Zheng Yi’s voice trembled as he asked once more, “What is it about?”

One of his male colleagues clenched his fists extremely tightly, the pale, blue veins inadvertently bulging out . “They beat her up, scolded her, and stripped her naked for all to see . They dragged her bare body out into the streets, and… and constantly asked passerbys to ‘purchase’ Chen Nian as though she was a prostitute…”

Zheng Yi grit his teeth in anger .

“… Subsequently, a few male youths came by, and joined Wei Cai and her crew… They brought Chen Nian into the bushes and…”

Zheng Yi strode into the conference room, his face void of any expression .

Senior Yang stepped in front of  Zheng Yi, effectively hindering Zheng Yi from stepping forward any further . “Don’t watch . We have already sent various police officers out to arrest those who had participated in the bullying . ”

Unable to control his anger any further, Zheng Yi ferociously shoved Senior Yang away, causing Senior Yang to slam into the door of the conference room . Zheng Yi’s face contorted into an unnatural shade of green, his eyes gradually becoming bloodshot as his chest heaved with rage . Zheng Yi stared coldly at each of his colleagues in turn before stepping into the conference room and slamming the door shut with a loud thud .

An eerie, deathly silence settled over the corridor and those who were standing in it; on the opposite side of the door, Zheng Yi crouched into a law squat, trying his best to repress the anguished sobs that were relentlessly wracking his entire body .

Bitterness . Anguish . Hatred . These feelings raged through every single police officer who witnessed the horrific events which Chen Nian had been subjected to . But, the profession which they were in required them to maintain their impartiality and their sense of cool at all times .

After half an hour, Zheng Yi spoke up . “Two things – one, Chen Nian has a motivation to commit murder . Two, we may have misconstrued Bei Ye’s motivation to kill . ”

Senior Yang, Xiao Yao, and the rest of Zheng Yi’s colleagues shared the same train of thought as well .

Xiao Yao piped up, “But Bei Ye has already admitted to all of the crimes committed by the raincoat man – including Wei Cai’s murder . ”

Zheng Yi responded, “Yes . Unless there is some unknown connection between Chen Nian and Bei Ye; something we have yet to discover, that inextricably links the both of them together . ”

“One is an excellent high school student, whilst the other is a lowly hooligan – although there doesn’t appear to be any apparent linkages between the both of them, we should nevertheless call Chen Nian up once more for questioning . We would also need to subject Bei Ye to another round of questioning . ” Senior Yang directed the group of police officers in front of him . “As we had already submitted the report setting out our findings to our seniors, we have to effect the amendments to the report as soon as possible, before it’s too late . Everybody – let’s proceed with full blast ahead . Can someone locate Chen Nian and bring her in right now?”

“Don’t look for Chen Nian . Let’s start with Bei Ye instead . ” Zheng Yi interjected .

Bei Ye was seated in the interrogation room once again, with his hands cuffed to the table and a blank expression on his face .

Senior Yang presented the new information directly in front of Bei Ye . “We found a video . We know what exactly what Wei Cai did to Chen Nian the day before Wei Cai went missing . ”

Bei Ye remained silent and expressionless, seemingly unaffected by the new revelation .

“We think, that Chen Nian has a motivation to murder Wei Cai; rather, your motivation for killing Wei Cai may not be as simple as you have described . Bei Ye, is your relationship with Chen Nian really that as you have described? That you guys are strangers, and that she is merely your target?”

“I’ve already confessed everything that I know . ” Bei Ye responded .

Zheng Yi realised that, compared to the previous time when Bei Ye was interrogated, he was even colder and closed off to the police officers during the present interrogation . But aside from that, Zheng Yi was unable to detect any other flicker of emotion from Bei Ye .

Senior Yang launched into an entirely new round of questioning, speeding through the questions like a bullet train . “Why did you rape the first two victims?”

“There’s no particular reason why . I just wanted to do it . ”

“Why did you kill Wei Cai?”

“Wei Cai managed to tear off my mouth mask and identify me . ”

“Why did you change your modus operandi – prior to Wei Cai, you had always perpetuated your crimes under the cover of the night?”

” Wei Cai was always surrounded by friends once it was night time . ”

“Why did you select Chen Nian as your new target?”

“She stutters . Once, I overheard someone speaking with a stutter . That got me curious, so I turned to look at the person . Turns out that Chen Nian is quite attractive . ”

Senior Yang went through the entire list of questions which they had asked Bei Ye previously, and even tried changing the sequence in which the questions were asked . But it was of no use – Bei Ye’s answers to the questions remained the same .

No matter which method Senior Yang and the police officers used, whether it was the lie detector, or asking seemingly unrelated questions, they were unable to discover any cracks or incongruities in the version of events which Bei Ye presented to them .

Since there were no discrepancies in his version of events, it was more likely than not that Bei Ye was indeed the criminal .

Just when Senior Yang was about to conclude the questioning for Bei Ye, Zheng Yi suddenly voice out . “Is there another possibility?”

Bei Ye turned towards Zheng Yi, and locked his gaze with Zheng Yi’s .

“You knew, didn’t you? You knew, from the very start, what Wei Cai had inflicted onto Chen Nian . You wanted to exact revenge on Chen Nian’s behalf . ”

“You cried?”

Slightly startled by Bei Ye’s sudden change in topic, Zheng Yi stared at Bei Ye for an entire three seconds before proceeding . “What is your true motive in killing Wei Cai? Is your relationship with Chen Nian truly what you have described to us? Is there another secret relationship between the two of you which remains unknown to us?”

Bei Ye countered, “Why did you cry? Do you like her? Does your heart ache for what she had to go through?”

Zheng Yi shot up from his chair, a loud screech ringing through the entire interrogation room as the metal legs of the chair scratched against the floor . Zheng Yi peered down at Bei Ye, their gazes interlocked .

The tension in the air was so thick, one could cut it with a knife .

“Today is the 8th of June . ” Zheng Yi said finally .

“I know . ”

It was already afternoon . Chen Nian had one final examination to take .

Zheng Yi bent his body towards Bei Ye, placing his arms on the table in order to prop himself up . With a cold, heavy aura, Zheng Yi pressured Bei Ye . “You lied to Chen Nian, hid things from Chen Nian, and protected Chen Nian to this extent – was it simply to ensure that Chen Nian could sit for the graduation exams in peace? When you discovered that the police officers were beginning to comb the hill behind the school compound for clues, you decided to collect graduation certificate and, during the collection of the certificate, “unintentionally” reveal various clues which pointed towards you as Wei Cai’s murderer . Was it to ensure that the attention of the police officers were diverted towards you, thus allowing Chen Nian to escape our scrutiny?”

Nobody else in the interrogation room understood what Zheng Yi was talking about, or his train of thought, but Zheng Yi was willing to bet that the youth seated right in front of him knew precisely what he meant .

But Bei Ye simply said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about . ”

“Bei Ye, do you know how we manage to determine whether a deceased person has any self defense wounds on him at the time of death?”

Bei Ye simply looked at Zheng Yi silently .

“When people struggle, they tend to use their entire body to put up a fight – especially their hands and feet . As such, although no obvious wounds may have been caused from the struggle, their bodies would nevertheless be peppered with various “hidden” wounds; in particular, their hands and the area between their thumb and their index finger . For instance, when you accidentally knock into a hard object with your kneecap, there may be no obvious wounds at the start; however, by the next day, a bruise would have formed around the area which had experienced the collision . ”

Having finished his explanation, Zheng Yi proceeded to suggest a new, radical theory – something which he wasn’t entirely convinced about either .

“Could it be, that Wei Cai’s “self-defense” wounds, weren’t a result of the purported struggle between the both of you when you tried to “rape” her? Could it be, that the wounds found on Wei Cai’s hands, her legs, and her neck were simply a result of Chen Nian’s struggle against her the day before Wei Cai disappeared? Bei Ye, from the video clip we saw, Chen Nian had struggled against and resisted Wei Cai during the course of the entire incident; the force which Chen Nian exerted against Wei Cai was more than sufficient to inflict onto Wei Cai various “hidden” wounds which could be easily mistaken as “self defense” wounds . ”

Having heard Zheng Yi’s entire speech, Bei Ye simply maintained his stand . “I don’t know what you’re talking about . ”

Zheng Yi inhaled sharply . “We will ask Chen Nian these questions again . If, the entire incident had transpired exactly how you said it did, then there is no issue . But, if you are hiding something from us, do you think Chen Nian would be able to withstand the pressure from the interrogation without cracking in the slightest?”

Bei Ye locked his gaze with every single police officer in the interrogation room . Staring at the group of adults standing before him, Bei Ye pursed his lips obstinately, and opted not to say anything .

Senior Yang didn’t want to waste any more time on Bei Ye, and instructed the rest of the police officers . “Bring Chen Nian in for questioning now . ”

Upon hearing Senior Yang’s instructions, Bei Ye turned pale . Zheng Yi turned to look at Senior Yang, a startled expression plastered onto his face – he had forgotten that the rest of the police officers  were present in the interrogation room when he was suggested the possibility of Chen Nian cracking under the pressure of questioning . Zheng Yi cast a quick gaze at his watch . It was still early; Chen Nian should still be waiting to enter the examination hall . This wasn’t what he wanted; he never wanted to interrupt Chen Nian during her graduation exams . However, before he could stop Senior Yang, Senior Yang had already begun to head towards the exit of the interrogation room .

Zheng Yi started after Senior Yang, but before he raised his foot, he turned to look at Bei Ye one last time .

The corners of Bei Ye’s lips had turned upwards to form a cold smirk . All of a sudden, Bei Ye raised his voice . “The location of the last corpse . ”

Senior Yang halted in his footsteps, and turned to look at Bei Ye . “What?”

“Give her another three hours . ” Bei Ye said matter-of-factly . “In exchange, I will tell you the location of the last corpse . ”

[1] Ge – The Chinese word for ‘older brother’ . ‘Ge’ is often used between by a younger person to address an older, unrelated male as a sign of respect .