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275 For His Sake

 "Huo Shao isn't like that!" Gu Nianzhi had been able to keep her composure in front of Wen Shouyi, but she lost it now in front of He Zhichu.

She clenched her fists and stood up, eyes blazing. Her fair, delicate face was now bright red with anger. He Zhichu felt as though he had just witnessed a pretty comic book character suddenly come alive, right in front of his eyes. She was perfectly harmless, but her lively, radiant beauty was like a bullet to his heart...

He Zhichu abruptly turned away. He made for the door; he did not want to spend another minute talking to Gu Nianzhi.

He had just laid his hand on the door handle when Gu Nianzhi caught up with him and grabbed his sleeve. "Professor He, you can't talk about Huo Shao like that."

"I just did. What are you going to do about it?" He Zhichu turned around and looked at Gu Nianzhi frostily. His bright, almond-shaped eyes were full of anger. He pressed his thin lips together as his fists, clenched tight, shook uncontrollably.

Gu Nianzhi was scared. She immediately released He Zhichu's sleeve and stepped backwards.

Huo Shaoheng's calm, magnetic voice sounded over her earpiece. "Steady now, Nianzhi. Anger won't solve anything."

Huo Shaoheng's voice reassured her.

Gu Nianzhi took a deep breath, and quickly calmed down. She closed her eyes and said sincerely, "Professor He, I'm 18 years old. I know what I'm doing. Nobody forced me to be a negotiator, I'm helping Huo Shao because I want to. In fact, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to be of assistance to him. I hope you'll be able to understand."

"And what if I can't?"

"Then shut up. Keep your comments to yourself, I didn't ask for them," Gu Nianzhi said savagely. "Not even my mom and dad can tell me what to do!"

He Zhichu was taken aback. "Your mom and dad? But according to your CV, they're both dead, aren't they?"

"Uh..." Gu Nianzhi stared at He Zhichu, tongue-tied. After a long moment, she finally said: "It was just an example, okay? A hypothetical situation!"

A thought occurred to He Zhichu. He let out an inaudible sigh, and shoved his hands into his pockets. He said coolly: "You think you're the Special Ops' negotiator now, just because they said so? Did you honestly think it's as easy as that? You're naïve, and that's a fact."

"But Huo Shao said so..." Gu Nianzhi muttered indignantly. "Huo Shao would never lie to me."

"Heh, is that so?" His mouth twitched as he looked around the interrogation room. He turned towards the camera in the corner and addressed it in a mocking tone as he pointed at Gu Nianzhi. "You're watching, aren't you? Tell her, in your own words, the steps and paperwork required to hire someone as a negotiator for the Special Ops. Is Gu Nianzhi qualified? Do you dare swear on the country you love so dearly, that you haven't lied to her?"

Gu Nianzhi narrowed her eyes. She had not expected He Zhichu to be so angry about her role as the Special Ops' negotiator.

She did not think she owed him an explanation, but she did not want to continue arguing with him, either.

Gu Nianzhi racked her brains, and came up with an idea. She smiled pleasantly. "Since you seem to hate it so much, I don't mind stepping down from my role as negotiator. In exchange, can you help me sign a letter proving that I interned at the US Congress for six months? I need that letter because I want to defend someone in court, as an actual practicing lawyer."

He Zhichu raised an eyebrow. His dark eyebrows were perfectly shaped, as though God himself had lovingly sculpted them with a knife. They complemented his shimmering, sultry eyes.

Gu Nianzhi had yielded unexpectedly, and He Zhichu was momentarily at a loss as to how to react.

His anger died away.

"...You want to defend someone in court?" He Zhichu lowered his head as he mulled this over. Gu Nianzhi could still feel the icy, forbidding aura rolling off him.

"Yes. Can I have your signature? Actually, it would be even better if you could write an endorsement letter for me..." Gu Nianzhi's large eyes twinkled. She wished she could get He Zhichu on Song Jinning's legal team.

Surely they would be able to win the lawsuit with someone as talented as He Zhichu on their side?

He did not even have to appear in court as their lawyer. All he had to do was look over their strategy, give a few words of advice, and Gu Nianzhi knew she would be able to win.

He Zhichu looked at her coolly. "Ask me for my signature when you're no longer working as a negotiator here." He rapped his knuckles on the door. "Let me out."

Huo Shaoheng, who was watching from the adjacent room, raised his hand.

The person in charge of monitoring the interrogation room pressed a button, and the door to the interrogation room opened automatically.

He Zhichu returned to his room. He did not ask for a better room. In fact, he did not say anything at all. He lay quietly on his bed, his hands folded behind his head. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking.

Gu Nianzhi returned to the control room. She smiled at Huo Shaoheng, whose face was as stony and inscrutable as always. "Huo Shao, don't take it to heart. Professor He is currently a neutral party, he isn't siding with anyone, but we definitely don't want to go up against him."

Everything she had done, she had done with Huo Shaoheng in mind. She was going to be Song Jinning's lawyer for his sake.

Zhao Liangze spoke up. "Huo Shao, Nianzhi was really impressive today. She immediately thought of getting He Zhichu on our side, since he's a neutral party. A top lawyer like He Zhichu would help us win Mrs. Song's lawsuit."

Zhao Liangze had gone to America with Gu Nianzhi as her temporary guardian. He had first-hand knowledge of He Zhichu's status and influence in the United States.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at Gu Nianzhi. He nodded. "Okay, then. Get ready to defend in court. As for your role as our negotiator, it was a temporary measure to deal with He Zhichu and Wen Shouyi. Now that they've both given their testimonies, you're released from your duty."

Gu Nianzhi did not question Huo Shaoheng. She smiled. "It's okay, Huo Shao. I'm doing this because I want to."

Huo Shaoheng tousled her hair. "Go back to bed. It's almost two o'clock."

Most people were at their sleepiest between two and three o'clock in the morning. This was the best time to interrogate suspects-a sleepy suspect was a vulnerable suspect.

He Zhichu and Wen Shouyi had managed to keep their composure. Even so, they had accidentally let slip a few things after Gu Nianzhi provoked them.

As for Dou Qingyan-well, she hadn't even lasted ten minutes.

An hour later, Yin Shixiong had gotten all the information he needed.

Aside from Dou Qingyan, he had also interrogated Dou Haoyan, the Prime Minister's eldest son, and Dou Aiyan, the Prime Minister's youngest daughter. He compiled their testimonies, and waited outside the door for Huo Shaoheng.

Gu Nianzhi opened the door, fatigue written all over her face. She saw Yin Shixiong standing at the door, and nodded to him in greeting. She covered her mouth as she yawned.

"Feeling sleepy? Go to bed, then." Yin Shixiong patted Gu Nianzhi's shoulder. "Thanks for your help today."

Gu Nianzhi made for the door, but she suddenly stopped to ask: "Brother Xiong, do you always work through the night like this?"

"Yeah, and I'm used to it. Sometimes I have to stay up several nights in a row. Can't have the criminals outlasting us now, can we?" Yin Shixiong smiled slyly as he winked suggestively at Gu Nianzhi.

Gu Nianzhi could not resist laughing at that. She walked out of the room, shaking with laughter, and returned to Huo Shaoheng's official residence.

...

Yin Shixiong entered the room and placed the confession in front of Huo Shaoheng with a sigh. "Sir, how are you going to deal with this?"

Huo Shaoheng picked up the confession and skimmed it. His eyes swept over the names in it. He said impassively: "These names-they're the ones who helped Dou Qingyan steal the prop photos from the archives?"

"Yes. You can see that they are all from the Prime Minister's social circle. Some of them only entered the Special Ops because of the Prime Minister's connections." Yin Shixiong circled a few names. "This guy, this guy, and this guy-they were in charge of filing and archiving prop photos back then. Mrs. Dou was worried about her daughter, so... she used her connections to ask for a copy of the photos."

"Mrs. Dou? So you're saying Prime Minister Dou had no idea what was going on?" Zhao Liangze frowned. "But the First Lady is famous for her charity work. It may be difficult to punish her."

"Heh, do you really believe Prime Minister Dou knew nothing about it? Well, it doesn't matter. He'll never admit to it now." Yin Shixiong tossed the pen in his hand into the air, before catching it and twirling it between his fingers. "In any case, the men who smuggled confidential documents out of the Special Ops will definitely have to be removed from their positions and punished."

Huo Shaoheng scanned the names. He nodded. "Luckily for us, these men are all in the civil service, working desk jobs. They've never been involved in an actual mission." He handed the list to Yin Shixiong. "We'll act at once. Arrest them and bring them to justice."