For preview purposes only; final product may differ
Author: Wu Chen Shui
Translators: Evening Asters TL
Editor: L an
When Lai Shing-yui laid eyes on Lam Yik, he felt like someone had taken an axe and cleaved open an elevation in the tundra of his heart. In a split second, what had seemed like an inconsequential crack suddenly burst apart, tearing through the permafrost with zero resistance and rending its way toward the very core of his soul.
In the blink of an eye, his world turned upside down. The sun and the moon lost their lustre as if the land had swapped places with the sky. Trees that once formed a forest collapsed one by one under the burden of heavy snow. Glaciers and snow layers merged to create a formidable avalanche that descended with a resounding roar, engulfing everything in its path.
For an instant, he could neither think nor breathe. Worse, he could not even remember where he was—not that he cared.
All he could hear was a voice that pervaded his mind: How can a young man like him exist in this world?
How can there be someone so beautiful that he’s taking my breath away?
From the crown of his head to the soles of his feet, from the tips of his hair to the shape of his nails, every aspect of this youth matched his ideal. This flawless individual appeared to him like the perfect gift bestowed by Heaven itself—a present so unfathomably fantastic, awe-inspiring, and exquisite that it left him hopelessly mesmerised.
Never before did Officer Lai Shing-yui imagine that a situation this absurd could ever happen to him. And yet, despite being a police inspector in his early thirties, he had fallen in love at first sight with another man, rationality be damned. Facing this young man he just met for the first time, he felt his heart throbbing uncontrollably, and his mind went blank. He could not form a word while his eyes feasted upon the beautiful sight.
“Lai Sir? Lai Sir?” His subordinate prompted softly beside his ear.
Lai Shing-yui forced himself to avert his gaze. He cleared his throat and turned his gaze back to the young man and asked, trying his best to maintain his usual tone, “Are you Lam Yik? Secondary six student from Maryknoll?”
The student named Lam Yik wore a dull expression on his face. He did not seem to know how to answer when questioned. He lowered his head and bit his lips slightly, revealing his timidity. It was usual for ordinary citizens to behave like this when facing law enforcers. He also had the nervousness boys from modest backgrounds would have in front of strangers.
Lai Shing-yui’s subordinate from the crime unit was becoming impatient. He raised his voice, “Lam Yik, he’s asking you a question.”
The young student flinched like a frightened rabbit. After a while, he finally nodded his head slowly and stiffly.
“C’mon, use your voice!”
“Ah-Sam, tone it down. You wouldn't want to scare the kid.” Lai Shing-yui could not stop staring at Lam Yik, taking in his every expression and movement. He realized he didn't like seeing the student getting yelled at, so he had to clear his throat and stop his colleague from going further.
“Understood, sir.” Ah Sam apologized and retreated to one side.
“Lam Yik, this is a criminal investigation, and we need the help of citizens like you to cooperate with us if we're to catch the bad guys. You have to tell us everything you know without withholding anything. Do you understand?” Lai Shing-yui stared intently at Lam Yik as he tried his best to sound amicable, “Take a look at the photo on the table and tell me, do you know this man?”
Seemingly encouraged by Lai Shing-yui's gentle words, Lam Yik nodded and extended his pale, porcelain-like fingers. Quietly, he slid the photo closer to him, and after a few glances, he replied, "It's Mr Chan.”
“How do you know him?”
“He used to be our literature teacher.”
“He’s also a volunteer at the Lutheran Church.” Lam Yik raised his head and bravely added another comment, “He’s a very nice person.”
Lai Shing-yui had to admit he enjoyed listening to the young man's soft voice underneath his stiff expression. His voice was still a little hoarse, typical for teenagers going through puberty. However, his voice was also extremely clear and spotlessly fresh, like the trickling streams flowing over brown, soggy dirt that Lai Shing-yui remembered seeing on hiking trips in the States. He endeavoured to soften his tone as if afraid of frightening the student. With the most patience he had in his career as a policeman, Lai Shing-yui asked again, “Do you like this teacher of yours?”
Lam Yik nodded in seriousness.
“Has he ever tutored you?”
“He hasn’t. We met at the fellowship. Taught me how to talk to Mummy.” It was easy to tell that the student was not very good at communicating. He tried his best to go into details as he struggled to string his words together, “Mummy works every day, so we never have time to talk. Mr. Chan said I should try communicating with her another way...”
Lai Shing-yui caught on immediately. “What about your dad?”
Lam Yik quickly raised his head, a hint of hesitation clouding his clear, bright eyes. He stuttered, “He... He abandoned us.”
“Mum said that my dad was a gambler. He had a lot of debt, so he left. It’s been more than ten years since I last saw him.”
Lai Shing-yui started to feel sorry for the teenager as the information clicked. He softly asked, “Do your classmates laugh at you because of that?”
Lam Yik lowered his long lashes. Then, he nodded mechanically.
“And you’re not angry about that?”
The young man shook his head in a similarly dulled manner and replied without any facial expressions, “They’re just telling the truth.”
“Do you like Mr Chan because you saw him as a father figure?”
Lam Yik looked down and quietly repeated, “He’s a very nice person.”
“Was there ever any conflict between him and your classmates? Did he ever yell at somebody? Or maybe he got on the bad side of some gangster?”
Lam Yik thought about it with his brows furrowed, then shook his head.
“So, you’re saying he had never criticized any of you?” Lai Shing-yui wanted to tease the young man into speaking some more, so he pressed on with a smile, “You can’t be a good teacher if you don’t point out your students’ mistakes.”
The young man raised his head, confusion evident in his glassy, dark orbs. Lai Shing-yui’s question seemed too complex for him to understand. Helplessly, he repeated his last comment as if trying to affirm something, “Mr. Chan is a really nice person. He’s never yelled at us.”
Lai Shing-yui narrowed his eyes. The student reminded him of a quiet bunny he used to have years ago, tickling his heart like a feather. With that, he cleared his throat and asked, “Does that mean you've stayed in contact with him even though he no longer taught you literature?”
“Yes, but I haven't seen him for quite some time. Has something happened to him, officer?”
Lai Shing-yui thought about it before passing the student one of the less gruesome photos. “He’s dead,” he stated matter-of-factly.
Lam Yik’s lips parted slightly, and his face paled. The man in the photo had died a cruel death. His arms were spread out, just like Jesus Christ when he was nailed to the cross. His body had been bitten and chewed by something unknown, his flesh a bloody mess. Some parts of his body had also begun to rot, revealing the bones underneath. Someone had also gouged out his eyes, leaving two empty sockets.
Having the interviewee see photos from the crime scene was common practice. Different people reacted differently to dead bodies, but experienced police officers could make judgments on the culprit just based on their reactions. A glance was enough for Lai Shing-yui to deem the student innocent. Not only did Lam Yik look horrified and disgusted at the sight of a corpse like any other person, but he turned as white as a sheet. Trembling, he clutched at his chest as he gasped loudly as if he would faint at any moment.
“Crap, he’s got asthma.” Ah-Sam cried out in surprise and rushed up to help, but Lai Shing-yui was one second faster. He pulled Lam Yik into his arms and frantically rummaged through his pockets. He knew that asthma patients would often bring their medication wherever they went.
“Found it.” Lai Shing-yui quickly removed the inhaler from the young man’s pocket and pressed it against his lips. Lam Yik took the inhaler as if it were priceless treasure and took a few deep breaths. During all this, Lai Shing-yui held onto him, supporting his neck so that he could feel better. Gradually, Lam Yik calmed down. Lai Shing-yui stroked his back gently, suddenly feeling like he never wanted to let this person go.
Lam Yik’s body felt perfect in his arms. As he got closer, he could feel all his senses coming alive, desperately taking in every piece of information they could pick up from the young man. Although the student looked thin, he was actually in good shape. His light breath was the fluttering wings of an angel brushing against Lai Shing-yui. His skin was cool to the touch, even a little cold, but it was so smooth that the police officer was reminded of beautifully polished jadeite that radiated a beautiful light.
Lam Yik had a pleasant scent to him, too. He smelled refreshing yet subtly sweet, reminding Lai Shing-yui of the lush green fields he used to see in summer in the English countryside. As he found himself engulfed in his fragrance, Lai Shing-yui’s long-forgotten memories of his younger days came rushing back to him.
Suddenly, it was becoming hard for him to control himself. Lai Shing-yui felt a ridiculous desire come over him… a desire to feel this person even more. He wanted to undress him and get close to him, to feel their bare skin rubbing against each other. He wanted their bodies to intertwine and share each other’s warmth.
The thought made his body heat up, and he began breathing more heavily. Yet, he also felt fear.
“Scary… So scary...” Lam Yik mumbled bleakly in his arms as if he were simply stating a fact.
Guilt and pity rose in Lai Shing-yui. He gently patted Lam Yik on the back and turned his head, brought the tip of his nose to the young man’s hair and took a deep breath.
It was absolutely intoxicating.
From his angle, he could also see Lam Yik’s exposed neck, its elegant curvature and smooth texture... Even his collarbones were perfectly formed. The young man was so beautiful that even his nerves trembled at the beautiful sight.
“Officer, I’m okay now.” Lam Yik reminded him.
Lai Shing-yui took a deep breath and loosened his grip as if he had just given up on something. He stared at Lam Yik’s face, which was only mere inches away from him — his features were so refined that he could almost see them shimmer in iridescence when his gaze fluttered. As he continued to stare, he began to feel like he had sunk into a quagmire. It was as if some invisible force was dragging him down. The more he struggled, the deeper he sunk.
But this was the first time he had met this young man. Before this, he had never seen Lam Yik nor knew he could be so terribly attracted to someone of the same sex. He didn't even know that he swung that way.
Lai Shing-yui always believed that he had a lot of self-discipline. He came from a family of law enforcement and was taught to distinguish between good and evil. He completed training in the most demanding police academy in America and returned to Hong Kong to join the Criminal Investigation Department because he had a real passion for criminal justice. He knew how important it was to serve justice, even if the justice system had long since become a political tool for various powers. Nevertheless, he still believed in the need for some kind of law to exist: the weak should be protected, the good should be respected, and the evil should be prosecuted by law.
His beliefs as a police officer were simple. He wished to provide a safe environment to those who obeyed the law so that they could keep on surviving.
To achieve that, Lai Shing-yui ensured he always stayed vigilant and never lost his cool. He thought he had been doing a good job, too. However, his calmness and composure came crashing down when he met Lam Yik. He could even hear the heart of the once Lai Shing-yui crumbling to pieces.
He studied the young man’s eyes, then slowly took in the shape of his beautiful lips. Lai Shing-yui could feel his heart screaming. Despite how soft those rosy lips seemed, he could only feel a sharp pang in his heart.
Flustered, Lai Shing-yui turned around. He waved his hand and grumbled, “You should be all fine now. Go home if you get ill this easily.”
Lam Yik was still slow to react but soon nodded without objection and picked up his backpack. Making sure his straps were flat against his shoulders, he bowed slightly at the two police officers and whispered, “Goodbye, officers.”
Then, as if he just recalled something, Lam Yik bowed at Lai Shing-yui again. “Thank you,” he mumbled meekly.
Lai Shing-yui lowered his head, pretending to look at the photos, and replied with an ambiguous nod.
Lam Yik left soon after. Ah-Sam organized the crime scene photos while telling him his analysis of the student, but Lai Shing-yui was barely listening. Suddenly, he stood up and blurted, “Give me a moment. I need to make a phone call.”
He ran out of his office and through the large CID office, which was, as always, as chaotic as the night market. Under everyone's surprised gaze, he ran out of the office, across the corridor, turned a corner and slipped into the pantry. He remembered there being a huge window in the pantry. If he looked down from the window, he would get a full view of the square outside the police bureau.
In the end, he managed to catch one last glimpse of the young man squeezed between the countless police cars and officers as he left the station. Lam Yik, with his backpack secured behind him, had his head down as he crossed the square, looking lonely. It was around dusk on an early autumn day. The student was wearing a blue and white striped shirt with a plain grey T-shirt underneath, and soft, long khakis as he walked across the square in canvas shoes of an unknown brand. He wore the most ordinary outfit and had the most ordinary haircut. Even his appearance, which took Lai Shing-yui’s breath away, might seem refined and graceful to others, but it was far from what could be called breathtaking. Yet, for some reason, this young man shook Lai Shing-yui to the core. It was a feeling that came out of nowhere, like a tornado that swept him off his feet; it was a heavy blow that sent Lai Shing-yui reeling, but it was also like a romantic but distant memory. The slightest trace was enough to drown a man in melancholy.
Even with Lai Shing-yui’s expertise and knowledge in crime-solving, he could not explain it. He watched as the young man disappeared from his vision. Then, he let out a huge sigh. He couldn’t believe what he had just done. For some reason, a word flashed through his mind—obsessed.
Why, yes. He had become obsessed with Lam Yik.