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786 Help You For the Last Time

 The hardest lie to expose is the one mixed in with some truth.

In the chain reaction plot that targeted them, one of the most important components was somehow true... Gu Nianzhi thought it was all too surreal. No wonder she hadn't had any sense of vigilance and had been instantly fooled into going to the Königssee. Gu Nianzhi wouldn't have gone to Germany if she hadn't received the silk scarves from Huo Shaoheng. If not for that, the plan would've never succeeded. Gu Nianzhi sat in the car as she recalled the entire incident from beginning to end. She fiercely hated the person who'd plotted this, yet admired them somewhat. It would have been truly difficult to control all the components of the chain reaction and to have them work in conjunction. The entire plan would never have succeeded even if only one component had failed. The truth was, the chain reaction plan only failed because Gu Nianzhi had a special constitution.

Rubbing her forehead, Gu Nianzhi recalled another problem as she looked at Huo Shaoheng with confusion. "Huo Shao, you said you were in the United States. Why did you use a French mail forwarding address then?" If his mail forwarding address hadn't been modified by someone else, it would have still been in France and not the United States, so Gu Nianzhi might've wanted to go to France instead.

Huo Shaoheng sat in the front passenger seat, his left elbow resting on the edge of the window, propping up his head. He appeared calm and had already composed himself. His long and slender fingers quietly tapping on the steering wheel, he looked at Gu Nianzhi thoughtfully. "...You thought I was in Germany, so you followed He Zhichu to Germany... to represent in the lawsuit?"

Gu Nianzhi pursed her lips. That was really one of the main reasons. Although she'd had intentions of helping the unfortunate female exchange student, she had only confirmed her decision to go to Germany to legally represent Li Haiqing because she thought Huo Shaoheng would also be there. But now she'd already broken up with Huo Shaoheng, and explaining all of this again made her feel embarrassed. Averting her eyes, Gu Nianzhi didn't answer Huo Shaoheng's question. Instead, she asked him, "Why did you use a French forwarding address?"

Huo Shaoheng noticed Gu Nianzhi refusing to answer him. Raising his brow slightly, he looked straight ahead and remarked coolly, "...Because I was on a mission and no one could know where I was." He didn't mention a word about what his mission was or what he'd experienced in the United States.

Gu Nianzhi couldn't figure out whether she was disappointed or relieved of a great burden. Looking down, she suppressed the messy emotions and said, "...Then our opponent is pretty impressive. They must not have anticipated you sending the silk scarves as one of the components initially. But I think it's a bit strange that they wanted me to go to Germany so badly. Couldn't I have gone to France? If they hadn't changed your mail forwarding address..."

Huo Shaoheng leaned forward in his seat. "Still remember Reinitz?"

"Yeah." Gu Nianzhi nodded, then suddenly had a realization. "Right, the German Federal Intelligence Service participated in the entire thing."

"That's a given." Huo Shaoheng raised his chin slightly. "Otherwise, how could it be so coincidental that you happened to run into Reinitz when you were being hunted down on the Alps?"

Gu Nianzhi recalled the "chance encounter" and sighed quietly. If she hadn't actually met Reinitz by chance, then the kind and friendly Mother Hanna couldn't be a normal person either. But it hadn't seemed staged when she and Reinitz were on the motorcycle and being hunted down, or when Mother Hanna's house was burnt down. Gu Nianzhi frowned. "You think Reinitz is one of the components in the mastermind's chain reaction plan? What was the goal of that component?" She still thought something didn't add up.

Huo Shaoheng was also considering this problem. What role did Reinitz have in this chain reaction plot? After all, he represented the German Federal Intelligence Service. Was it a plot within a plot, where he was the ultimate mastermind waiting to defeat the winner of the first battle? Or was he patiently waiting for the battle to be over so he could reap all the benefits?

"His role is still to be determined." Huo Shaoheng didn't want to hastily jump to any conclusions. He wouldn't categorize Reinitz until he had firm evidence. In the beginning, Huo Shaoheng had thought Reinitz was the one behind the entire plan. It wasn't until he heard about the trick with the silk scarves that he realized Reinitz wasn't the real mastermind.

"...Yeah, he saved me in the end after all." Gu Nianzhi shook her head with a wry smile. "I don't know what he was thinking. If he plotted all that to catch me and used so much effort to arrange all sorts of scenarios, but ended up letting me go in the end... wouldn't his boss punish him?"

"...If he's the boss, who would punish him?" Huo Shaoheng looked outside nonchalantly. It was noon on the B University campus and the entire place was bursting with vitality. The sunlight filtered through the golden sycamore leaves, spilling on the ground and glittering like gold shards. Warm and lively energy permeated the air.

Gu Nianzhi pouted as she whispered, "There is a Parliament and Chancellor in Germany right? Doesn't he need to be held accountable to them?"

"He's fine now. He shouldn't have any problems." Huo Shaoheng's voice fell like a hammer to put the full stop on this topic. Gu Nianzhi also felt very conflicted when she thought about Reinitz. It was hard to determine if this person was good or evil, but he hadn't seemed bad to her. Her tiny porcelain face looked conflicted. Huo Shaoheng glanced at her. "I'll go upstairs to help you bring the silk scarves down."

"No thanks, I'll go myself." Gu Nianzhi objected to him coming upstairs with her. When she opened the door to get out of the car, she made sure to remind him again, "Don't come out, just wait in the car."

"...Okay." Huo Shaoheng smirked. Lowering the car window, he lit a cigarette and held it between his fingers as he watched Gu Nianzhi disappear into the dorm.

Gu Nianzhi returned to the dorm to discover that Ma Qiqi wasn't in her room. It was Sunday, so she must not have come back from visiting home yet. Gu Nianzhi went to her room to find the box of silk scarves and opened it to look. After touching them for a bit, she bit her lip and she resealed the box to carry it downstairs. Huo Shaoheng threw away the cigarette as soon as he saw her walking over. He opened the door to let her into the car. Gu Nianzhi could smell the faint tobacco smell as soon as she got in the car. Although Huo Shaoheng had smoked with the window open, the car still smelled a bit. Gu Nianzhi crinkled her tiny nose but didn't say anything as she put the box in front of him. "Here, this is the package I received."

Huo Shaoheng opened it to look. "This was what I ordered." He had painstakingly chosen all of them, yet she hadn't worn any on her birthday. Closing the box, he said to Gu Nianzhi, "I'll buy better ones for you." In other words, he had to take the box away.

"...You really have to take it away?" Gu Nianzhi raised a brow. "What are you taking it for?"

"This is evidence," Huo Shaoheng said calmly. "I need to take it back to investigate."

"...But if you take them back, then you won't be able to hide how you violated military rules." Gu Nianzhi didn't hesitate to take the box back out of Huo Shaoheng's hands. He looked at her intently with warm eyes. His handsome face had a trace of a smile on it. It was like osmanthus blooming in autumn. This was completely different from his typical tough exterior, but it only increased his attractiveness. Gu Nianzhi only took one glance at him before calmly looking away. "...I don't think this box of silk scarves is evidence. You shouldn't take it since it won't help with anything."

"Yeah, so what is the evidence?" Huo Shaoheng looked down to see Gu Nianzhi's tiny, jade-like hand supporting the bottom of the box. He reached out to grab her hand from to prevent her from leaving the car. "Help me think. My brain is a mess right now and I can't think of anything."

Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes at him. "Go on, keep pretending. You think I'm falling for that?"

"It's true, I'm waiting for Mrs. Huo to help me prove my innocence." Huo Shaoheng lifted her hand up to kiss the back of it. "Some things are better done by others than by myself."

Gu Nianzhi pulled her hand away and frowned. "I'll ignore you if you call me Mrs. Huo again."

"...Fine, I won't call you that for now." Huo Shaoheng let go. "Tell me why this box can't be evidence, then I'll let you go."

Gu Nianzhi sighed in relief, looking down to open the box. "It's very simple. Think about the entire incident. The only thing the enemy actually did was modify something on the Hermes website's computer system. This package was still delivered to me using completely normal means, so what's the point of you taking it away?"

"Touche. If that's the case..." Huo Shaoheng took a tiny silk scarf out of the box. It was printed with the golden flowers from one of Van Gogh's paintings. He tied it around Gu Nianzhi's neck and made a pretty little knot. "Happy Birthday, mon cheri."

"...What did you say?" Gu Nianzhi didn't understand what Huo Shaoheng said. It sounded like French. While her German was pretty good, she didn't know any French at all.

"...Happy Birthday." Huo Shaoheng put on a serious face as he straightened her silk scarf. His warm fingertips ghosted over the skin on her neck, sending waves of shudders through her body.

However, Gu Nianzhi stayed completely still and didn't display any reaction at all. She didn't quite believe him, but carefully memorized the pronunciation of Huo Shaoheng's last sentence so she could go home and look it up. Hugging the box, Gu Nianzhi looked down at the silk scarf on her neck and saw how it was tied beautifully. She didn't know how to tie it like that all. Gu Nianzhi touched the scarf as she remarked seriously, "Since you got into this mess because of me, I'll help you solve it. Actually, you could ask Brother Ze, but this situation is rather unique and you can't allow personnel from the Special Operations Forces to know about it. I guess I have no choice but to help you for the last time."

She thought that since Huo Shaoheng had violated military discipline by buying her a birthday gift while on a mission, it would cause even more trouble if a third party knew about it. It would still be safest for her to do it herself. That way, absolutely no one else would know. As long as Huo Shaoheng didn't get the stupid urge to turn himself in, no one would know he had violated military rules. Gu Nianzhi could feel more reassured when they broke up.