Chapter 001

Cop & Robber in the Previous Life, Family in the Present Life

It was a midsummer afternoon. The people who had just eaten and a brief rest were once again resuming the day’s work. The birds as well as the dog and chickens in the courtyard had all either found places from which to enjoy the warm sunlight or had hidden in the cool areas.

In the stream by the entrance of Tuqiao1 Village’s Zhang Manor,2 a group of boys were splashing around. After playing for a while or perhaps because the noise of their shouts was too loud, a man walked out of the manor’s courtyard house door. Glaring at this gang of kids, he unhappily reprimanded them: “All of you scram further away! If my Little Mister3 is woken up, you’ll all be getting a beating!”

The kids immediately fell silent, carefully looking toward the open door in the corner of the courtyard house before they sank into the water to make their way upstream.

It was only after the man returned back inside the courtyard house that all of the kids exhaled, puckering their faces up into various grimaces at the closed courtyard house door.

“Scared me to death! So harsh! The old patriarch of the Zhang Family isn’t like him at all.” A kid around 7 years old quietly said this as he used his hands to dig out yellow mud from the river bed.

“Isn’t it always like that? The people of the master family4 are easygoing while the steward is stern. But no matter how stern the steward is, he still has to obey the master family. I heard that the little master can drink porridge now. Let’s catch some toads to send over in a bit. Porridge made with the oil taken from the toad innards is good for the body. That’s how my mom5 eats after she had my little sister.” Another one of the slightly older kids, who was more considerate than the previous kid, stared at the toads that occasionally swam by in the water while he spoke to the others.

The kids, knowing that ingratiating themselves to the master family’s Little Mister at this time would get them an unexpected windfall, all nodded as well. One of the kids who had already caught a toad added: “Then let’s catch two more. The Wang Manor’s little girl is also at the Zhangs. Erzi,6 how good would it be if your little sister was together with the Zhang Family’s Little Mister now—your family would no longer need to worry about food and clothing.”

The one called Erzi was the considerate kid from before. Upon hearing these words, he shook his head slightly: “That’s simply impossible. The village only has these two manors. They’re the example of a perfect match.7 Besides, they were born well. It was originally a proposed baby engagement8 and they were actually born on the same day with a difference of less than a quarter-hour.”9

“That’s right. That’s right.” The kid who had first spoken was nodding to the side as he said: “Not only that, I heard that since they met on their full moon,10 the two babies stuck close together and would cry whenever they were separated. That’s why the both of them were placed together. Counting the days, there’s only a few days before their first full year.”

“Stop talking, stop talking. Let’s quickly catch some toads. As long as the master family is pleased, they might reward us a few chicken eggs. My mom’s milk is low so they can be given to my little sister to eat as a steamed cake.” Upon thinking of his little sister who was just 4 months old, Erzi didn’t wish to waste any more time so after a quick greeting, he left to find a fork.

In one of the rooms within that courtyard house of the Zhang Manor, two babies currently lay side by side, with a thin blanket lightly covering them, both of their small faces peaceful as their bellies evenly rose and fell. Seated on a small stool by the doorway of this room was a young maiden11 of around 13 or 14 years. After taking a few looks at the sleeping children, she then leaned against the door frame to nod off, going into a light doze after a short while.

Shortly after, the little boy lying on the right side slowly opened his eyes. At first, he froze before he became confused. Raising his hands and moving his feet, a trace of panic suddenly appeared in his eyes. Then, turning his head to look around him, he muttered: “Where is this? How did I turn into a child? Where’s the bandit? What about that Wang Juan?”

When he turned his gaze to the other child by his side, it was only then that he discovered that it was a little girl. An idea he couldn’t ignore the possibility of rose in his mind then. But before he could further his conjectures, the little girl’s eyelashes twitched twice. Still holding onto the idea he didn’t dare believe in his heart, the boy shut his eyes once again, feigning sleep.

At this time, the little girl also opened her eyes. Like him, she was also confused as she surveyed her surroundings and just like him, she muttered: “Where is this? How did I turn into a child? Where’s that swindler, Zhang Xiaobao? My mission hasn’t been completed yet.”

Her muttered words were heard by that little boy to the side. The previously even breathing of the little boy suddenly stopped only to immediately resume. But it was this instant that was noticed by the girl who had been staring at him the entire time.

Keeping her suspicions to herself, the little girl estimated the position of the person sitting by the doorway before reaching out with a plump little hand to touch the little boy’s face to ask: “Zhang Xiaobao? Is that you?”

The little boy didn’t react, his breathing still as even as before. The little girl gritted her teeth and pinched the little boy’s nose. This time, the little boy woke up. Turning his head to look at the little girl, that pair of eyes blinked and blinked. However much innocence was needed, they were innocence itself.

“Zhang Xiaobao, hurry up and answer me.” The little girl spoke once again using that voice that slurred her words.

The little boy was still the same, blinking his eyes as he made several toneless ‘ah-ah’ sounds with his mouth, just like any normal child of this age.

“Could it be that you’re not Zhang Xiaobao?” The little girl really didn’t know how to judge.

“Ha~! Ha~! Ah~! Ah~!” The little boy’s toneless voice sounded. At the same time, he reached out a plump little hand to touch the little girl’s face.

The little girl stared into the little boy’s eyes to see if there was any expression in there that shouldn’t appear. But she didn’t get even a little bit of result. Just when the little girl was about to give up, she suddenly thought of the Commissioner’s words: “He can jump straight down from a height of 15 meters unharmed and can climb up 9 meter high walls bare-handed. He is also adept in criminal psychology, behavioral psychology, social psychology, and other various disciplines. He has been designated as an extremely dangerous criminal.”

“I’ll have you pretend! I’ll pinch you to death!” The little girl also raised her hand to directly pinch the little boy’s arm. With just one pinch, the little boy immediately started crying with a ‘wah~wah!’ Before the little girl could have any other reactions, the young maiden that was sitting by the doorway had already rushed over.

Upon seeing someone arrive, the little girl pretended to be just as innocent as the little boy, batting her eyes. The little boy stared back at her with a face full of terror as he kept crying.

“All right, all right. Baolang,12 don’t cry. There’s no urine, either, ~ah. Baolang, don’t look at the Wang Family’s Little Miss13 with that kind of look. This is your future wife. You’ve always been together since your full moon, how can you be scared like that?” Following the young maiden’s voice and soothing, the little boy finally stopped crying.

When this maiden returned once again to her seat on her stool, the little boy fell back to sleep again while the little girl had a face full of dismay. After thinking for a bit as she looked at the little boy, she finally gritted her teeth and reached out again—this time, for the little boy’s lower body—as she whispered: “You know to call for help? Feel you have backup? Not afraid of a pinch? I’ll squeeze you till you’re sick!”

“Wah~! Wah~!” Without waiting for the little girl’s hand to touch him there, the little boy started crying again. The little girl promptly retracted her hand. The young maiden came over once again but when she saw that there still was no problem, she returned to her seat.

“Let me see how long you can cry for. I’m going to squeeze again.” The little girl reached out with her hand again.

“Wah~!” The little boy cried.

The little girl withdrew her hand. The little boy stopped. The little girl stretched her hand out. The little boy cried. The two of them kept repeating this cycle.

After a few times, the little girl didn’t reach out with her hand this time, only saying: “I’m going to squeeze.”

“Wah~!” The little boy cried.

“I’m not squeezing.” The little girl said.

The little boy stopped.

He had stopped but the little boy’s expression had changed now. It was no longer as innocent and pure as before.

“Act, act, ~ah, keep on acting, ~ya! You regret it, right? Did you forget to study child psychology back then, my International Swindler, Comrade Zhang Xiaobao?” The little girl laughed this time as she jokingly spoke into the little boy’s ear.

The little boy could no longer keep up the pretense either. Reaching up with a fat little hand to smack his forehead, he sighed as he said: “It wasn’t me who was careless. It’s men who treat this thing with too much care.”

He inwardly understood that just now, it had already become a reflex. But for children, it basically shouldn’t even be possible to have this kind of reflex. Faced with this type of situation, a child essentially only has two reactions. One, keep crying and wait for someone to come comfort them. But he later stopped by himself. Two, switch from cries to laughter, thinking that something amusing had been discovered. But he himself had been affected by his adult mindset.

“Comrade Wang Juan, I feel that a police officer shouldn’t do this kind of indecent thing. Especially for a policewoman, it really is too unethical for you to be this way.” Zhang Xiaobao finally admitted to his own identity.

“Criminal Swindler, Comrade Zhang Xiaobao, you must remember that there are only bad intentions and that there’s no such thing as unreasonable measures. Tell me, where did you put the money?” Wang Juan did not feel the slightest embarrassment. The training she received was like this.

Zhang Xiaobao glanced over at the young maiden who had returned to her seat by the doorway to idle about again before turning his head to say to Wang Juan: “If you must add a description in front of my name, please say Suspect. Right now, I feel that what we need to consider shouldn’t be the issue of the money. Remember, to me, money is never an issue. What I’m thinking of right now is if I can still eat that bowl of liangfen?”

“You really can find topics for idle chitchat. Where’s the money?” Wang Juan continued asking after the money.

“Have you been a cop until you’ve become foolish? What money? Look at our current situation. Look at our surroundings. According to a common yet unbelievable logic, we’ve already left our original world and been reborn into another world. My dying regret is not having been able to eat that bowl of liangfen.” Zhang Xiaobao turned over to look up at the ceiling.

Wang Juan looked at their surroundings again and also discovered that it wasn’t her time period. Or rather, the things in this world such as the appearance of the young maiden sitting by the doorway when she came over and the clothes she wore proved this point.

“It’s all you, it’s all you! You had to go do some hostage exchange. This is just great. I can’t ever see my family again. Pay me back! Pay back my parents! Pay back my brothers and sisters! Pay back my job!” While doing her best to keep her voice low, Wang Juan pinched Zhang Xiaobao’s shoulder as she complained.

“You regret it? Would it be better that I didn’t go over back then to let that child continue to live under the constant threat of death then?” Zhang Xiaobao turned his head around again to ask.

“Regret? No, I have no regret. Who am I? I’m the Tyrant Flower of China. Please don’t use those kind of eyes to look at me. I will not allow my honor to be smeared.” Wang Juan froze for a bit before solemnly speaking to Zhang Xiaobao.

Zhang Xiaobao nodded his head in agreement with Wang Juan’s words. He thought for a bit before suddenly saying: “Do you think that in this life I’ll be able to see my parents? Looking at how the surroundings are arranged and that person’s words just now, this should be an affluent household.”

“Ai~!”14 Wang Juan sighed as she spoke in a logical manner: “Let’s first not think of those. Think about what kind of place we’re in? What should we do from now on?”

“Who cares what place this is? I’ve decided. I can finally see my parents for this lifetime so I’ll work hard to earn money and let them live well. Then, I’ll find a wife and let her live well. Although hearing that woman’s words from before, you seem to be my wife. I’ve decided…”

“I’ve decided not to recognize this matter. I will not live together with a Suspected International Criminal Swindler.” Not waiting for Zhang Xiaobao to finish speaking, Wang Juan directly denied it.

“Forget it. Let’s first not discuss these kinds of matters. I’m going to sleep. In a while, there might be some other things to do so I won’t keep you company, ~ah.” Zhang Xiaobao laid back down again. He shut his eyes, the expression on his face one of anticipation.

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