Feeling his colleagues' gazes on him, Chuck, who held an uncanny resemblance to a gorilla, tried to argue. "Rose didn't find the clue. Officer Alison did!"
Alison didn't take the credit. She denied it loudly. "Chuck, you p*ssy! Rose was the one who found it!"
"It's true. Officer Alison only told Officer Rose about the condition of the house," Li Du added supportively. "Officer Rose was the one who noticed something wrong and insisted on going back to check on the place again."
"Bullsh*t!" Chuck exclaimed.
The middle-aged white man said coldly, "We all know that the Chinaman is bullsh*tting. But he's letting you imbeciles keep what little pride you have left. Chuck and the rest of you, apologize!"
The cop who had called Li Du a saint earlier tried to defend himself awkwardly. "Boss, Chuck did—"
"Keep your mouth shut! F*ck! Be a man!" the middle-aged white man bellowed, veins popping up on his forehead.
The cop shut his mouth and walked to face Rose. "Officer Rose, I apologize for discriminating against you before this. For Christ's sake, please forgive me."
Rose was indifferent. "Officer Capote, I gladly accept your apology. I forgive you."
Since someone had taken the lead, the others had no choice but to follow suit.
"Officer Rose, I'm sorry. It was a stupid thing for me to doubt you today. I have to say that I underestimated you."
"Hey, Officer Rose. I'm sorry for having offended you before this. Please accept my sincere apologies."
"Officer Rose, I'm sorry for not having trusted you."
Then it was Chuck's turn. The gorilla looked around, then shot a pleading look at his middle-aged supervisor.
The middle-aged white man's face didn't move, his expression as hard as nails. It was as if he didn't feel his subordinate's gaze at all.
Seeing that he was still trying to worm his way out, the cops who had already apologized spoke up in dissatisfaction before their supervisor did.
"Chuck, don't you always call yourself a real man? You can talk the talk, but you can't walk the walk?"
"D*mn it, and I took you for a hero of the Northern Police Branch of Flagstaff. I must have been blind."
"Stop dilly-dallying like a p*ssy. You should just go to Korea and get your sex-change surgery done!"
Even though he was exhausted, Li Du was on a high. He mocked, "Korea does plastic surgery. If you want to be a p*ssy, you should go to Thailand. I have a friend who is a doctor there. Do you need me to introduce you?"
Chuck glared at him viciously. Under the gazes of his colleagues, he had no choice but to go up to Rose and mutter, "I'm sorry, banana girl. D*mn it—I mean Officer Rose, sorry."
His apology held no sincerity. Rose didn't mind. She looked Chuck in the eye. "Officer Chuck, you don't need to force yourself. I will never forgive you! I will never forgive you for everything you've done to me!"
Chuck looked at his supervisor miserably.
The middle-aged white man's gaze swept across him indifferently. "You've completed your assignment for the day. You can go now. All of you can have tomorrow morning off. Report for work in the afternoon."
"Hooray!" Cheers erupted from all around.
Rose and Li Du lived closeby. They were just about to walk home when a Honda Corolla pulled up next to them. Alison stuck her head out. "My dear girl, get in the car. I'll bring you home."
Rose forced a smile. She was just about to refuse when Li Du waved a hand. "Don't say anything. Just get in the car."
Alison was trying to be friendly. This was a good opportunity for Rose to build a relationship with her. And he was tired, as well as shaken up, after being in a gunfight. He wasn't in any condition to walk home.
The motherly woman was very frank. In the car, she told Li Du, "Thank you, young man. If it weren't for you, I'd be a laughingstock."
Then she turned to Rose. "I had a lot of misunderstandings about you, my dear girl. I think that we will become quite familiar with each other. You need a partner, am I right?"
Rose was surprised. "You're willing to be my partner?"
"I can't wait! Your boyfriend may have saved my face, but you saved my life!" Alison said. "I would be glad to have a partner who pushed me away in the face of a gun!"
Rose blinked. "He isn't my boyfriend."
"You're married?" Alison was shocked. "I had no idea!"
"No, no, no." Rose's ice-like front crumbled. She blushed, waving her hands.
Alison laughed heartily. "It's fine. No need to explain. I was just joking. My dear girl, you need to know how to take a joke."
"Exactly. Jokes are what makes America great. Rose, you should smile more."
Alison pointed toward him. "Well said, young man."
When they got home, Rose let him shower first. He pushed her in, saying, "You're mad. You're on your period. Stop pushing yourself!"
Li Du regretted it the next day. He was the one who'd been pushing it.
Li Du, in his prime, and self-proclaimed body full of fire, was down with a fever.
The shock due to the gunfight and the exhaustion of using the bug beyond his limits had crashed his immune system. Considering he had also been in the rain, it was no surprise he had caught a cold.
At midnight, Li Du started sweating profusely, yet he was freezing cold. He knew that he was having night sweats.
He wanted to get out of bed to switch on the lights. But once he stepped out of bed, his legs turned to jelly, almost making him fall.
This was the worst sickness he had ever had. After his high school exams, he had needed one gallon of fluid from the hospital. But, even then, he hadn't felt as weak as this.
"D*mn!" he cursed. Through a fog, he thought, 'It's useless even if I switch on the lights. I didn't bring my first-aid kit with me when I moved here.'
He lay back down, his consciousness fuzzy.
Hearing him, Ah Meow came running over. It widened its eyes at the sight of Li Du's condition, obviously sensing that something wasn't right. Ah Meow circled him anxiously.
"Ah Meow, switch on the lights." Li Du stretched a weak, trembling hand toward the lightswitch.
Ah Meow blinked. Instantly, it ran over and leaped at the lightswitch, smacking the lights on with a paw.
Li Du felt much better with the lights on. He huddled up in his blanket and dozed off fitfully.
When he opened his eyes again, he was in a different place. There were clean white walls around him. By his sides were two other sick-beds. He could hear some people speaking in low voices.
Seeing him awake, Ah Meow jumped onto his pillow, rubbing its furry little head into Li Du's lap.
Rose said, "Your cold almost became a bout of pneumonia! Thank goodness Ah Meow woke me up by scratching on my door. Otherwise, if you had carried on sleeping on that soaking wet bed, your lungs might have been destroyed by now!"
Li Du's condition was quite poor. The doctor said that they only saw such serious colds once or twice a year.
Hans came over in the afternoon. He gave Li Du a bear hug once he stepped into the room. "Bro, I heard that you nearly died on the bed."
If Li Du hadn't been too weak, he would have kicked Hans into the air.
Hans ignored his seething. Putting on a mischievous face, he went on. "Looks like you're living a good life at your new place. But control yourself. When you get better, Big Fox will teach you some tricks, so that you can use that thing without hurting yourself!"
"F*ck off!" Li Du cursed at him in Chinese, too angry to really care.