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412 Express Yourself

 Gu Nianzhi sipped her cup of milk, seeming not to hear what Bai Yueran was saying. Even if she did overhear anything, she had pretend to not know anything. This was Huo Shaoheng's official business and Gu Nianzhi shouldn't be involved at all. She looked down at the egg tarts on the clover shaped dish and forked a bit into her mouth.

Huo Shaoheng set down his cup of coffee and said, "The Special Operations Forces has a specific hiring process. Director Bai, you should know this even if you have been newly transferred in."

Bai Yueran smiled. "Of course I know! I just thought to give Major General Huo advance notice. This was General Ji's special request." She paused and grew serious. "Xu Piaohong is not a typical candidate; General Ji suggests that you seriously consider her. It's better if you can get to know her more. The Special Ops has always encouraged inter-departmental marriages. It's the same policy as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Secret Service."

Huo Shaoheng had not considered that General Ji would continue to insist on this matter, but he would never criticize his superior in front of Bai Yueran. Gu Nianzhi kept her head down, tears threatening to well up. She was upset with herself for being close enough to her such painful news. Her palms grew sweaty and her heart pounded so hard she figured it shaking her whole body. How could this be? She suddenly recalled Miao Yunxiao ranting about how the military was setting up her cousin with a future husband. Could Miao Yunxiao's cousin be this Xu Piaohong?

"Director Bai, we don't discuss business on the weekend." Huo Shaoheng shot Gu Nianzhi a glance and saw that her head was down. Her glossy dark hair was the only thing visible to him. He raised his coffee cup as he said to Bai Yuran, "The coffee is fairly good here. It's not instant but actually ground by hand. Would Director Bai like to try one?"

"I don't drink coffee, only tea." Bai Yueran knew Huo Shaoheng didn't want to discuss the matter anymore, but this was important. She smiled. "Mr. Huo, I know it's the weekend but this is about your future happiness. It's not business, so it's not against regulation."

Huo Shaoheng nodded politely. "I appreciate Director Bai's concern and I understand your good intentions."

"I was just giving you a heads up. Our legal department has already run a check on Xu Piaohong's family background. Of course, she will still have to go through the standard procedures if she's really getting transferred in, and as the head of the Special Ops, whether she can proceed is entirely your decision. But you still have to consider the people supporting her. Mr. Huo is a keen person; I'm not giving you ideas but merely delivering a message." Bai Yueran gathered up her things and with one last nod to Huo Shaoheng left promptly.

Gu Nianzhi finally looked up slowly, her gaze fixed on Bai Yuran's back before shifting to Huo Shaoheng's face. He was sipping his coffee as though nothing were amiss checking for emails in case any new situations had arisen. After watching him for a long time without speaking, Gu Nianzhi knew Huo Shaoheng wasn't going to explain what happened. He flagged a waitress over and handed her a credit card. "Check please."

The waitress expertly took the card on her platter to process the bill at the till. Seeing that Huo Shaoheng wasn't going to volunteer an explanation, Gu Nianzhi had no choice but bring it upon herself. She crossed her arms and leaned back on the chair as she stared at Huo Shaoheng and tried to ask in a calm tone, "Huo Shao, can you explain to me what Bai Yueran was talking about earlier?" Although she wanted to appear nonchalant, her face was stiff and her voice trembled. It was obvious that she was hurting.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at her and folded his hands together on the table before replying quietly, "This is related to my work." In other words, he had no reason to explain anything to her.

Gu Nianzhi's trembling heart felt as if someone had wrenched it viciously, splattering the blood everywhere. She figured she could even taste blood in her throat. She was so disappointed in him and his answer, no matter how much she loved him. Taking a deep breath, she balled her hands into fists and maintained a rigid posture. She refused to give up. "It's not just related to your work, Huo Shao. Bai Yuran said that it wasn't business, but a matter of your future happiness. Don't you think you should talk to me about that?" She paused, then stressed again, "Aren't I your girlfriend? Shouldn't I be concerned about this?"

Huo Shaoheng frowned. "Why do you have to care so much about what other people say? Don't you believe in me?"

"It's not enough to just believe in you when you're clearly hiding things! Tell me. I'll listen as long as you talk to me." Gu Nianzhi was close to tears, her delicate nose turning red. " You speak of me placing my trust in you, blindly, but I know you don't even intend to talk about it."

"I told you a long time ago that there are many things you can't know if we are together. There's also no need for you to know." Huo Shaoheng said tersely. "Just stop fussing now. I'll take you back to school." He stood up and waited for Gu Nianzhi to follow.

Gu Nianzhi looked up at him, biting down on her lips hard before standing up as well.

"Let's go." Huo Shaoheng turned to leave, his gait confident and leisurely. Gu Nianzhi didn't know how she left the restaurant or got into the car. By the time the car stopped, she found herself in the underground parkade of her apartment. Huo Shaoheng cut the engine and took out the key then turned to look at Gu Nianzhi. "Still upset?"

Biting her lip, Gu Nianzhi looked away. Her heart was a tangled, throbbing of mess that just couldn't be sorted out. It was only when she came across situations related to Huo Shaoheng that she lost all reason and logic-she acted like an idiot who didn't understand serious situations and she hated that the most. She detested her own behaviour, yet wasn't able to control herself.

Huo Shaoheng sighed and reached out to stroke her hair. "Didn't you already know who Xu Piaohong was a long time ago? You should already understand how I see her. Why are you throwing such a fit?"

These were the gentle words from Huo Shaoheng that Gu Nianzhi had been waiting for. The bottled up tears fell suddenly and she wiped them with the back of her hand as she pushed away Huo Shaoheng's hand and kept her head turned to the window. "It's still not ok. She's being transferred to your side now and the 'early bird gets the worm.' Who knows if you'll fall for her with time?"

Huo Shaoheng shook his head wordlessly and turned her shoulders so she faced him. He looked at her tiny tear streaked face, his heart clenching at her sorrowful expression, before leaning over to embrace her. "You're overthinking it. Our Special Ops is not a place that just anyone can be transferred into."

"You mean she might not get in?" Gu Nianzhi looked up into Huo Shaoheng's dark eyes. "You promise?"

"Whether or not she gets in is a business matter." Huo Shaoheng lifted Gu Nianzhi's chin with one hand and found a tissue for her to wipe her tears. "Stop crying."

Gu Nianzhi grabbed his hand with despair. "I'm not fussing! You never want to talk about anything!"

"Is it that important that we have to talk about it?" Huo Shaoheng was perplexed. "I never told you things before either, and you never made such a commotion."

Gu Nianzhi was rendered speechless for a while, then said coldly, "The past was the past-we weren't in a relationship back then. What right did I have to make a ruckus?" All she had been able to do was to hide her displeasure; she'd never dared to let Huo Shaoheng know.

Huo Shaoheng understood and smiled. "So you have a right to make a ruckus now? What should we do then? I'll have lots of things in the future that I also can't tell you."

Gu Nianzhi looked down quietly and wrung her hands in thought. She finally calmed down and her reason returned. "I'll definitely not ask about confidential work matters unless I'm allowed to know, but I definitely have a right to know about things that affect our relationship."

Huo Shaoheng considered it for a moment and nodded. "Ok, as long as it doesn't involve my work, I'll explain it clearly to you. But," He looked down at Gu Nianzhi, "No matter what, you can only believe what I tell you. You can't take the things others say too personally."

"Really?" Gu Nianzhi cheered up, "You'll really tell me? Of course I won't ask about your work, I just want to know things if it affects us." She stared at Huo Shaoheng's chest and placed her palm on his heart to feel his vigorous heartbeat and warmth. She had a sudden urge to move closer, but she had just pushed him away in anger so it would be embarrassing to lean in now.

Huo Shaoheng noticed Gu Nianzhi's hesitatio--she was basically a blank canvas with all her emotions painted on it. He lifted his hand slowly to caress her cheek, then pulled her into his arms. Gu Nianzhi took the chance to lean into him and grabbed his collar tightly with both hands. She sighed with satisfaction and said, "I don't like that Xu Piaohong. Huo Shao, have you thought about how you're going to tell General Ji yet?"