Match Nine: Bargain:
An undisclosed seedy underground nightclub pounded music through the stale air. Bodies danced to the flashing lights around them. Qian didn't focus on that tonight. He headed straight back to the bathroom. A boy about his age sat near the stalls. He looked up when he heard the door close.
"Sup?" he asked.
"Hey man," Qian said. The boys high-fived and hugged. The other boy with silver hoop earrings sat back on the stool in front of the stall.
"What do you want from me?" he asked. Qian gave him a blank stare.
"I'm sorry?" he asked. His friend waved his hand in the air.
"You usually don't come to me like this," he said. "Given your family's status, it's understandable that you don't want to be seen with me. However, I sense some desperation from you. Talk to me. What do you want?" Qian gulped, shuffling his feet.
"Damn, you know me well, don't you? Okay, it's about Szu."
The soccer player dropped back his shoulders, sighing. It hurt to say it again. "She was raped."
Qian pressed his lips together, nodding. He couldn't get that night out of his head even if he tried. He found Szu lying on the flood with her clothes a mess. Her expression looked so empty, but tears ran down her face. He raced over to her, calling her name. She begged him not to leave her side. Today, he said, "Yeah."
"And you are here because you can't go to the police, right?"
The friend with the black hoodie leaned in. "May I ask you why?"
"She thinks no one would believe her. Plus she didn't see his face."
"Does she remember anything about the guy who attacked her? Anything at all. Try to remember."
Qian dug in his brain to last night. He finally managed to get her alone once again. He found her crying on her bed.
"Szu?" he asked. The soccer player ran over to her bed. "Szu? What's the matter?" She glanced up at him before turning her head away. Qian lay down next to her.
"Please talk to me?" he asked. "I won't leave until you do." He tried to put his arm over her shoulder, but she shoved him off.
"Szu…" Qian whispered.
"I saw his rings," she sobbed.
He froze, looking. "What?"
"What about them?"
Szu gulped as she tried to fight off the memories of her attack. She could still feel him on her. "There was a snake on one of them."
"A snake? Where?"
"It was on his middle ring."
Szu tightly shut her eyes and broke down trembling. "Please stop, Qian. I just want to forget about it."
"You have to do this, Szu. I won't let up until you do." He grabbed onto her hand. "I don't want to hurt you like this, but you have to do this. I only want to help you." He still wouldn't give up after she began whimpering.
"Tell me!" Qian pleaded.
"It was right hand!" she cried. "That snake ring was on his right hand."
"And you're sure about that?"
"Yes!" Szu broke down crying. Qian stomach turned when it finally sank in. No way… That can't be!
"So, you think that this guy who raped your Szu is that guy?" the friend asked back in the club bathroom.
"Yes," Qian said.
"But you are hoping to be wrong?"
"So what would you like me to do?"
"Find out if what's she's saying is right or not."
"And then what?"
"Say it is who you think it is. What will you do after you find it? You know you can't touch him or his family."
Qian frowned, rolling his eyes. "Yes, my clan keeps telling me that."
"And you still want to go through with this?"
"Fuck yes! He has to pay for what he did to Szu!"
His DJ friend shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, but you know it will cost you." Qian threw 1,280.72 yuan down at his friend's feet. The other boy whistled.
"Wow!" he said before picking up the money and counting it. "Your clan really does have it made."
"Just get the son of a bitch," he muttered. His friend saluted with two fingers.
"Will do," he said. This exchange will push everyone further into the wasteland without anyone seeing it.