Ben Gurion International Airport, Jerusalem.
A man and two women pulled their suitcases towards the security checkpoint. These three were Xia Lei, Long Bing and Tang Yuyan, and they had come from China. Xia Lei right now was not his usual handsome, eye-catching self. He looked like a normal guy who’d come to Jerusalem for work. Long Bing and Tang Yuyan also looked like middle-aged women in their thirties, not pretty at all - one could even say that they were a little ugly.
The faces of these three would not draw attention anywhere.
They went through the security checkpoint smoothly. Their passports had been forged very professionally and nothing wrong could be found with them at all. Their weapons were going to be delivered to them via special delivery channels and would not appear in their luggage.
Just as the three of them went past the security checkpoint, an Arabian middle-aged man was thrown to the ground by two Israeli plainclothes policemen and taken away without having his crime cited to him.
Xia Lei was stunned, and he asked curiously, “Did that person bring in something illegal?”
“You mean drugs?” said Tang Yuyan, “The people here are all Jewish and they won’t dabble in drugs. That Arab man won’t try to sell drugs here even if he was desperate to make money.”
Long Bing spoke up too, “Those two in plainclothes are most likely members of Mossad. It’s common for them to arrest Arabs, so it’s nothing surprising. Regular Arabs will also have to go through hours of questioning at security checkpoints.”
Xia Lei gave a dry laugh but said nothing. The war on this piece of land in the Middle East had raged for thousands of years and was still not extinguished, even today. This was a real battleground, and one had to adapt to the local tensions when coming here.
The trio left the airport and took a taxi to the city of Jerusalem.
Tang Yuyan could speak Hebrew and she exchanged a few simple lines with the driver. Xia Lei sat quietly in the backseat, reading a Hebrew learners’ book. Long Bing and Tang Yuyan sat on either side of him, and it was rather crowded.
Any one of them could actually just sit in the passenger seat in front but no one did. This was fairly interesting.
“Dabao, are you learning Hebrew like this? Can you actually learn?” Long Bing seemed to be discontent with Xia Lei’s silence and pressed on him with her thigh.
‘Dabao’ was Xia Lei’s name for this trip. His full name on his passport was ‘Niu Dabao’, an old-fashioned name which matched with his current drab self.
Tang Yuyan’s new identity was ‘Hu Meijuan’ and Long Bing’s new identity was ‘Yang Xiaohong’, names which were very plain indeed and fit their current appearances very well.
Their purpose of travel on paper was for a holiday, and it was a very normal reason too, since Chinese tourists were travelling all over the world for their holidays.
On paper, Xia Lei was Tang Yuyan’s husband and Long Bing was Tang Yuyan’s cousin, making her Xia Lei’s cousin-in-law. This relationship they had was simple and also very normal.
Yang Xiaohong spoke as a cousin-in-law and Niu Dabao, her cousin-in-law, buried his head in the book still, mumbling to himself. He seemed to be practicing pronunciation.
Long Bing was straightforward too. She reached out to Xia Lei’s thigh and pinched hard.
“Agh! You…” Xia Lei glared grumpily at Long Bing, then glanced at the driver in front. He lowered his voice, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing, just wanted to disturb you,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei was speechless.
Tang Yuyan leaned in too. “Dabao, when are you and your fiance going to get married?”
“What are you asking this for?” Xia Lei looked at her, feeling a little awkward.
“What, I can’t ask?”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Of course you can. Why not? Don’t worry, I’ll definitely send you an invitation when the time comes.”
“So you think I’ll come if I’m invited?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“You haven’t answered my question. When are you two getting married?” asked Tang Yuyan again.
It seemed like she would keep asking if he didn’t answer. Xia Lei braced himself and said, “Tianyin’s father picked the date. The 29th day of the 12th lunar month.”
“Huh? So quick?” Tang Yuyan looked surprised. A strange look came into her eyes.
Long Bing joined in the discussion. “It’s because you made her pregnant, huh?”
“You…” Xia Lei had no more words.
Long Bing laughed. “You’re quite a stud, huh? I didn’t take you for one, Dabao.”
“Stop, stop!” Xia Lei couldn’t take it anymore. “Can we not talk about this? I’m embarrassed and I’m a man. You two are women! Don’t talk about ‘pregnant’ or ‘stud’ - I feel embarrassed for you two.”
Long Bing reached out and pinched Xia Lei’s thigh again. Tang Yuyan seemed to have caught the same virus too, and she, in a bad mood, reached out and grabbed hold of the flesh of Xia Lei’s thigh in a pinch.
Xia Lei wanted to cry out but didn’t dare to. His expression was quite the sight.
The Israeli taxi driver peeked in the rearview mirror and couldn’t help smiling wryly. He felt like this Chinese man was quite the lucky dog, just that his two women were a little ugly.
Half an hour later, the taxi entered the city of Jerusalem. The three of them checked-in to a hotel. The hotel’s name, when translated from Hebrew, was ‘Oasis of the Desert’ and its architectural design was reminiscent of the ancient Jaffa style. It was not of a very high grade, but there were tourists from all over the world and few locals.
There was just one reason for picking this hotel, and that was that the expert group China had sent were in this hotel.
The three of them asked for two rooms. Xia Lei and Tang Yuyan in one room, and one room for Long Bing. There was no way around it. Shi Boren had decided on the identities before they’d set out. Tang Yuyan was the wife and Long Bing was the cousin-in-law. Xia Lei could not be in a different room from his ‘wife’ and he could not be in the same room as his ‘cousin-in-law’, could he? It couldn’t be helped but staying in the same room as Tang Yuyan was fairly awkward.
Tang Yuyan threw aside the luggage in her hand as soon as she entered the room and lay flat on the soft bed, groaning, “Argh, I’m so tired.”
Xia Lei scanned the room but he did not find any surveillance equipment or listening devices.
“Dabao, come over here and massage my shoulders. I’m sore,” complained Tang Yuyan.
“Yuyan, I…” Xia Lei did not move and he did not complete his sentence either. He wanted to say that he was already engaged and was soon to be married so he could not play around anymore. But if he did say it, it would be awkward so he could not bring himself to say it.
Tang Yuyan looked back and rolled her eyes at him. “You have Shentu Tianyin now so you find me a bother, huh?”
These words were deeply resentful and carried discontent as well as a sourness. But Tang Yuyan’s tone seemed to give off the impression that she was Xia Lei’s ex-wife, and Shentu Tianyin was just the wife he had after her.
Xia Lei smiled wryly and forced himself to walked over. He reached out to give Tang Yuyan a massage.
‘Marriage? Hah!’ said a little voice in Tang Yuyan’s head. ‘Talk about it only after you get past me! Don’t think you’re the only one who can play mind games. I can too!’
Xia Lei could not hear this little voice, of course. He was in a fairly sheepish state. ‘I’m actually having feelings and reactions I shouldn’t have. This cannot be happening. If Tianyin knows what I’m doing now she’d be very unhappy, won’t she? Whatever, I should stop here. If I keep massaging I might not be able to hang on and make a mistake.’
Just as Xia Lei was thinking up excuses to end his ‘free services’, a knocking came from the room door.
“Cousin-in-law, Elder Sister, are you two asleep?” came Long Bing’s voice. “It’s me, Xiaohong.”
The smile hidden in the corners of Tang Yuyan’s mouth disappeared when she heard Long Bing’s voice.
Xia Lei let out a silent breath of relief and took his hands off Tang Yuyan. He smiled and said, “Meijuan, your Little Sister is here. I’ll go open the door.”
“Ask her what she wants. If it’s nothing, then get lost,” said Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei froze in his tracks for a bit. This aggression… would it be better to ask for one more room at the reception desk?
Long Bing walked into the room without a word when he opened the door. Tang Yuyan climbed out of bed since it would be too impolite to keep lying down, and looked neutrally at Long Bing.
“What, did I spoil your fun?” said Long Bing. She saw the redness in Tang Yuyan’s cheeks and neck. She was a woman too and she knew what reaction that was.
“No, don’t be mistaken. We didn’t do anything,” said Xia Lei hurriedly.
Tang Yuyan then opened her mouth and said, “What is it? Go back to your room if it’s nothing. I want to go to sleep.” She yawned widely after saying that and actually did look tired.
Long Bing shrugged. “You really think you’re here for a holiday? Don’t forget our mission. We have to find some way to contact the expert group tonight.”
Tang Yuyan rolled her eyes at Long Bing. “Tell me what you plan to do then.”
“Aren’t I here right now to discuss it with you?” Long Bing looked at Xia Lei. “You’re the leader for this mission. You decide on the mission plan.”
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “Let’s go have something to eat first. And can the two of you not fight?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter