Wolf Cub – Chapter 32.2

They had to go door by door to confirm the apartment numbers on the walls until they found the door with the number 1403, confirming Zhao Bin’s residence.

“It’s here.” Zhong Qi shone his phone flashlight on the door number.

As Lin Shiyu approached, he suddenly felt something under his foot. He moved his foot and bent down to pick up the object. As the light from the flashlight illuminated it, a glint appeared on the floor.

Lin Shiyu picked up the object, only to discover it was a plastic hairpin embedded with sparkling glass gems.

“The one the girl was wearing.” Zhong Qi glanced at it with his phone and recognized it. “She had it in her hair earlier.”

Lin Shiyu looked at the hairpin in his palm. “Why would it be dropped here?”

Zhong Qi stood in silence in front of him. The answer was straightforward – a well-fixed hairpin wouldn’t just fall off without a reason; either the clip had loosened or some forceful movement had caused it to fall.

However, the clip behind the hairpin wasn’t loose; the metal piece was securely in place. It had some curly strands of hair twisted around it.

After a moment of silence, Lin Shiyu suddenly pounded his fist against the door and shouted, “Zhao Bin!”

Zhong Qi immediately grabbed his arm. “Don’t act impulsive!”

However, Lin Shiyu’s anger was fervent. He was about to kick the door, but Zhong Qi swiftly reached out, wrapped his arms around Lin Shiyu’s waist, and dragged him back, his hand covering Lin Shiyu’s mouth. He glanced up at the door; a “fu” character sticker on the peephole blocked the view, and with the dim light around, Zhong Qi breathed a sigh of relief.

“Tell him you’re here for the recording,” Zhong Qi quickly devised a solution, speaking softly near Lin Shiyu’s ear. “Do as I say and stay calm.”

Lin Shiyu gasped for breath in Zhong Qi’s arms, his fingers unconsciously gripping Zhong Qi’s wrist tightly. After a long while, Zhao Bin’s voice came from inside the door. “Who is it?”

Zhong Qi released Lin Shiyu’s mouth but still held him firmly around the waist. Lin Shiyu took a deep breath, gritted his teeth, and spoke. “Lin Shiyu.”

There was a half moment of silence from behind the door. Lin Shiyu’s patience was quickly waning. If it wasn’t for Zhong Qi’s strong grip preventing him from struggling, he would have kicked the door. “Do you hear me?! Give it back to me!”

Perhaps fearing that his loud voice might attract neighbors, the door was eventually pushed open slightly. “Coming here is useless. Be careful or I’ll call the cops–”

The next moment, behind the door, Zhong Qi let go of Lin Shiyu and reached for the door handle, and forcefully pulled it open. The burst of strength pushed aside the security door and the adult standing behind it. Zhao Bin let out a cry as he was pulled out. Lin Shiyu immediately grabbed his collar and pushed him into the room, while Zhong Qi twisted around and wedged himself into the door, holding down the struggling Zhao Bin. Three of them formed a tangle and, with a slam of the door, they were all squeezed into Zhao Bin’s home.

After the violent entry into Zhao Bin’s home, Zhong Qi’s first thought was: I’ve never done something so improper in my life.

His second thought: It’s a mess.

Zhao Bin’s home wasn’t large; the living room was cluttered with clothes and cardboard boxes. Thick curtains hung, blocking out any light.

“What are you doing? You’ve trespassed into my house! I’ll call the police!” Zhao Bin struggled fiercely against Lin Shiyu and Zhong Qi, pinned against the shoe cabinet. “Get out! This is my house!”

Lin Shiyu surveyed the living room, not seeing Xiao Ran. He turned, grasping Zhao Bin’s collar. “Where’s Xiao Ran?”

“I don’t know! What’s it to me? Why are you looking for her?” Zhao Bin snapped back.

Lin Shiyu let go of him and turned to go into the room. Zhao Bin immediately tried to attack him, but before he could move, Zhong Qi firmly restrained him. “Don’t lie. We saw you bring her home.”

Zhao Bin glared at Zhong Qi with red eyes. “You’ve been following me?”

Zhong Qi calmly nodded, not loosening his grip on Zhao Bin. “We had free time after-school.”

Lin Shiyu checked the bathroom, the balcony, and Zhao Bin’s bedroom but found no sign of Xiao Ran. Their entry into the house had caused quite a commotion, yet there was no sound from Xiao Ran. Lin Shiyu began to feel a chill creeping over him. He walked to the last closed room door, finding it locked.

“Open the door,” Lin Shiyu demanded of Zhao Bin.

With a change from his usually amiable student demeanor, Zhao Bin’s face reddened as he struggled and cursed at them to leave, but Lin Shiyu forcibly pressed his face against the wall. “Open the door. Do you hear me?!”

Zhong Qi had to hold back Zhao Bin while pulling Lin Shiyu away. “What did I tell you before we came?”

Agitated, Lin Shiyu pushed Zhong Qi away, turned back to the closed door, and kicked it.

The resounding bang shook the entire door frame, and a bit of dust settled from the door crack. Zhao Bin immediately yelled, “Get out! You’re damaging private property! Trespassing! I’ll call the police and sue you. You’ll pay for this! You’ll go to jail!”

In the midst of the chaos, Zhong Qi looked at Lin Shiyu in astonishment. It was the first time he had seen Lin Shiyu unable to control his anger. While Lin Shiyu had a bad temper, he was at least reserved in front of them, never showing this nearly frenzied appearance. It seemed like the person behind the door was someone he deeply cared about. The force put into that kick almost made the lock break loose.

Immediately afterward, Lin Shiyu kicked the door again, and with a deafening sound, the lock fell off.

With Zhao Bin’s enraged yell, the door was forcibly kicked open.

The door, shaking and nearly collapsing, struck against the wall, and Lin Shiyu saw the situation inside the room.

He saw tightly drawn curtains, the hurriedly covered camera with a cloth, the nearly empty table with a computer, a bottle of water, and scattered pills. The incandescent light fell silently on the girl lying on the floor.

Xiao Ran was left stark naked, her hair disheveled. Her mouth was covered with duct tape, and she was shackled on both hands and feet, with the other end of the chains tied to the bedpost.

She gazed blankly at Lin Shiyu.

The girl was very thin, her skin was pale to the point of turning blue. She had bruises all over her back and chest,  as well as bloodstains. On her waist, there were mis-shapen words carved into her skin by something sharp, and the area around them was scabbed over.

Lin Shiyu stood by the door, and for a moment, his mind was just dizzy.

He remembered.

He remembered why he felt anxious before taking the subway, why he felt more nervous as he got closer, why thinking of Xiao Ran always made him feel something was amiss, as if he’d forgotten a certain memory.

Because that was the memory he deliberately avoided, the memory of the darkest days.

That day, Lin Wanyue accidentally knocked over a soup bowl on the table. Along with it, her father’s half pack of cigarettes also fell. The bowl broke into several pieces, and soup soaked the cigarettes, ruining them.

Lin Shiyu heard the noise and left his room. He saw Lin Hui crouching on the floor, checking if Lin Wanyue’s hand was hurt. He walked over, wanting to crouch and clean up the broken pieces on the floor but was pulled up.

“I’ll clean it up.” For some reason, his mother sounded a bit tense. That man had been drinking again and was sleeping soundly in the room. The sound of the bowl breaking had abruptly stopped his snoring, and was followed by a string of low curses.

Lin Hui led the siblings to the door, took out two banknotes from her pocket, and stuffed them into Lin Shiyu’s hands saying, “Big brother should take his sister and go buy two packs of cigarettes.”

Lin Shiyu was ten years old then. He held the two crumpled banknotes, feeling somewhat dazed. “Go now?”

“Go now. The cigarettes are ruined; if Dad sees them, he’ll be angry.” Lin Hui glanced back at the bedroom door, then turned to push Lin Shiyu. “Go.”

Lin Shiyu said, “I can go alone; I don’t need to take my sister.”

The bedroom door was pulled open and the man’s drunken voice mixed with incoherent cursing. Lin Hui was even more nervous than before, hastily putting shoes on the two children and instructing them. “Go buy two packs of cigarettes, maybe some snacks for yourselves, eat them outside, and then come back.”

Lin Shiyu took his sister’s hand and was urged into the dark corridor. He saw the door close in front of them, isolating all the sounds and sights.

Standing in the dim light of the corridor, with his two-year-old sister behind him and facing the closed door, Lin Shiyu felt afraid.

He realized why his mother pushed them outside. His father’s temper was unpredictable, and he was prone to alcohol abuse. Verbal and physical abuse was common. The cigarettes soaked in the soup were the only good pack his father had, a gift from his boss. The man had been boasting about it, how much his boss valued him, taking him out with clients for dinner, and he was proud of the good cigarettes the boss had given him.

With those cigarettes ruined, the man would surely be furious. This wrath would be directed at Lin Hui or, worse, at Lin Shiyu.

Lin Shiyu held his sister’s hand tightly, turned and descended the stairs. His sister couldn’t speak yet, nor walk steadily, and only smiled vacantly. Lin Shiyu could only support her slowly, all the way until they left the corridor and reached level ground.

At the store, Lin Shiyu bought two packs of cigarettes and got a chocolate biscuit for his sister. He then led her back.

When they arrived at the door, Lin Shiyu was about to knock when he heard a muffled thud of something heavy falling inside. He stood frozen in front of the door, and heard his mother’s stifled cry and his father’s yelling.

He held the bags from the store, lifted his hand to knock, and shouted anxiously, “Mom, I’m back from the store.”

No one came to open the door for him. The painful crying lingered around Lin Shiyu’s ears like a whispered curse. Obscene, humiliating words were mixed in with the indistinct cursing. The disordered sounds of heavy collisions traveled through the thin door panels. Lin Shiyu pressed his hands against the door, listening as these voices wound their way up his body like serpents, chilling his skin and tightening around his throat.

He always heard these kinds of sounds. Sometimes behind closed doors, sometimes right in front of him. He had heard it many times, and never grew accustomed, only more anxious, helpless, and uneasy each time.

“Mom.” Lin Shiyu raised his voice and pounded on the door again. “Open the door.”

Lin Wanyue sat against the wall, watching Lin Shiyu. She held an open chocolate biscuit in her hand, eating it bite by bite.

The crying and the thumping continued behind the door for a long time. Despite Lin Shiyu’s urgent pounding and angry shouts, no one came to open the door. The curses, sometimes strong, sometimes weak, continued to penetrate his brain, only bringing a sense of despair.

After what seemed like an eternity, and Lin Shiyu’s hands were numb from knocking, the door was slowly opened from the inside.

Lin Shiyu impatiently pushed the door open. The living room lights were off, and he couldn’t see his mom clearly, only her disheveled hair, disheveled clothes, a bruise on her forehead, swollen eyes, and a broken apron strap.

“Brother and sister are back,” Lin Hui held the door handle to guide them inside, her voice low, and somewhat hoarse. “I’m sorry, was it so dark outside? Were you scared?”

Lin Shiyu walked in without a word, and saw the broken pieces under the dining table already cleaned up. The place was unusually messy, the pots and pans on the kitchen counter were no longer as organized as they used to be. They looked as if they had been messed up and hastily rearranged but not fully returned to their original positions.

He turned his head and, by the kitchen light, noticed the red marks on Lin Hui’s face and neck, the creased collar and apron, damp with soup.

The sound of the man snoring in the bedroom resumed.

His mother then took Lin Wanyue back into the room. When she came out, Lin Shiyu was still standing in the living room, not moving. She reached out and touched his face. “Why aren’t you going to take a bath and sleep? Why is your face so cold? Were you cold outside? I’m sorry.”

Lin Shiyu forcefully pushed the woman’s hand away, his voice trembling with anger and coldness. “Why do you keep saying sorry?”

She hadn’t done anything wrong, so why did she keep apologizing over and over?

Both doors were closed; Mom shut him outside, and Xiao Ran shut him outside too. They both looked so gentle and fragile but couldn’t withstand violence and destruction. They acted as if nothing had happened, not showing any pain, even when experiencing harsh treatment, pushing him away as if to shield him from seeing or knowing.

Lin Shiyu finally understood where his anger came from. It was the sensation of being protected again, as if something very soft was covering him. Then a violent external force strikes repeatedly against this protective layer, making him feel no real pain but experiencing the heavy blows, creating a hateful, suffocating sensation.

He averted his gaze and reached for the zipper of his coat. His fingers trembled a bit, and when the zipper got stuck at the bottom, Lin Shiyu yanked it forcefully, taking off his jacket and walked over to wrap Xiao Ran’s body, covering her, then zipped his coat back up.

He crouched in front of Xiao Ran, raised his hand to the edge of the tape over her mouth,  and noticed how tightly it was stuck. He took a deep breath, trying to sound calm. “I’ll do it gently.”


Xiao Ran sat quietly on the floor, her teary eyes looking at him. Her face was very pale, hair messy on her forehead. There wasn’t a scratch on her face, but the area below her neck that her clothes covered seemed grim, and Lin Shiyu saw a scar below her collarbone that looked like a blade. It reminded him of the scratch on Lin Hui’s collarbone.

Different sizes, different positions; but Lin Shiyu knew, they were exactly the same.

Outside the door, Zhong Qi dragged Zhao Bin over. Subduing a young man wasn’t a difficult task for him. He twisted Zhao Bin’s arm, completely ignoring the man’s continuous struggles and accusations. Strangely, when Lin Shiyu kicked open the bedroom door and walked in, Zhao Bin quieted down completely. He stopped talking about sending them to the police station, and concentrated on trying to free himself.

Zhong Qi walked up to the door, watching this scene unfold. His face changed.

Lin Shiyu slowly peeled off the tape from Xiao Ran’s mouth and tossed it aside, then looked back at Zhao Bin.

Suddenly, he charged toward him, and Zhao Bin, seeing the fierce glare in Lin Shiyu’s eyes, screamed and tried to retreat. Lin Shiyu kicked Zhao Bin in the stomach, and Zhong Qi immediately let go. Zhao Bin groaned and fell backward, crashing into the wall. Lin Shiyu was about to pounce on him, but Zhong Qi grabbed him from behind, holding him back forcefully.

“Stay calm!” Zhong Qi ignored Zhao Bin, holding Lin Shiyu, who was struggling vigorously, and didn’t let go. He couldn’t understand why this slender person was so hard to contain, despite his smaller build. Lin Shiyu suddenly elbowed him in the stomach, and feeling the pain, he nearly let go.

“Let go!” Lin Shiyu shouted.

Zhong Qi held onto Lin Shiyu, forcefully pressing his shoulders against his chest. The sensation was not much different from holding onto a biting lion. “Wait for the police to arrive. Don’t resort to violence!”

Feeling the pain from Lin Shiyu’s kicks, Zhong Qi got angry and swung him onto the door, holding his waist firmly. “Listen to me!”

Lin Shiyu’s shoulder hit the door heavily, causing a brief moment of silence.

Zhong Qi grabbed his arm and pressed him against the door. Just as he was about to say something more, he suddenly felt a slight trembling in the palm of his hand.

Lin Shiyu was shivering.

The words left unspoken stuck in Zhong Qi’s throat. He subconsciously loosened his grip, but didn’t completely let go of the person in front of him.

Zhong Qi inexplicably felt that he’d better not release his hold.

Because Lin Shiyu might need someone to firmly grasp him to stop his trembling.


Edited by: Jaisland



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