Since they were on the topic of his body shape, Tao Xiaodong rolled with it, patting his legs.
“I’ve got long legs, right”
“Very long,” Tang Suoyan’s response came readily.
After all, everything was unobstructed that day, and the proportions of his figure were plainly on display.
Tao Xiaodong usually wore baggy trousers or joggers, neither of which really showed off his legs.
Tao Xiaodong swept a glance to the side at Tang Suoyan’s legs.
In fact, he didn’t need to look to know.
Tang Suoyan didn’t wear casual trousers; it was obvious how leggy he was.
Catching his gaze, Tang Suoyan stepped away on purpose, asking, “What are you doing”
Tao Xiaodong chortled, shaking his head.
Their chat at this time wasn’t too serious, in part intentionally so as to dissolve the awkwardness.
With it being laid bare and taken as a joke, there was nothing for them to be awkward about.
After the not-so-serious stuff was touched on, they could chat about more serious matters.
They were talking about Tao Xiaodong before, so now Tao Xiaodong called “Yan ge“, and Tang Suoyan looked over.
He opened his mouth to ask, “Did you and Dr.
Tong… break up”
Tang Suoyan seemed slightly surprised, maybe not expecting him to segue into this subject.
“You don’t have to say it if you don’t want to.” Tao Xiaodong rested his arms on the railing.
“I’m just making conversation anyway.”
Tang Suoyan considered it, then nodded, responding in assent.
Tao Xiaodong nodded too.
“I can tell.”
Actually, Tao Xiaodong had noticed it long ago.
He hadn’t believed it back when Xia Yuan first brought it up, but when he ran into Tong Ning after sending Tang Suoyan back, Tao Xiaodong could immediately tell that the two of them had most probably parted ways.
Later, Tong Ning mentioned that it was messy at home before going upstairs.
People wouldn’t call a place ‘home’ so naturally unless they had lived there for a long time.
With Tao Xiaodong’s social skills, he could roughly tell the situation with a single glance.
Based on Tao Xiaodong’s personality, he wouldn’t even mention Tong Ning nor take the conversation in a direction that others might not be comfortable with.
However, whatever the reason was, Tao Xiaodong unexpectedly asked about it today.
“Can I ask why”
Tang Suoyan had never been one to discuss Tong Ning with others; he didn’t like talking about his personal affairs with others, especially those involving relationships.
This question from Tao Xiaodong today was a bit over the line.
Tao Xiaodong had always been someone who made the people around him feel at ease, so such a question was really quite unlike him.
However, perhaps now that he and Tao Xiaodong were more familiar with each other, Tang Suoyan didn’t refuse to talk about this.
Like Tao Xiaodong, he rested his elbows on the railing, gazing downstairs, slowly opening up, “There were many reasons to it.
Maybe I’m not really relationship material.”
“I don’t see it,” Tao Xiaodong objected at once, then looked over.
“Is it that Dr.
Tong has tired of it”
“Why don’t I I’ve told you this before; there should be quite a big discrepancy between what you think of me and what actually is.”
A delivery boy sending take-out drove his scooter up to the hotel and parked it downstairs, walking with paper bags in hand as he made a call.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t contest with Tang Suoyan on whether or not he seemed like the sort, saying after a while, “That’s a pity.
You two were a perfect match.”
“That’s what everyone says.” Tang Suoyan laughed derisively at himself.
His hands were loosely clasped together, revealing a very, very small mole on his exposed wrist.
Tao Xiaodong looked at the mole so small it appeared more like a mark absently left behind by the nib of a pen, thrown into relief by its placement next to the edge of his pristine white cuffs.
“That was the phrase we heard most back when we were attached, and that was what I thought too at that time.
That we were a perfect match.” Tang Suoyan smiled faintly, but this weak mirth didn’t carry to his eyes.
“Actually, in what ways are we, as everyone calls it, a perfect match We only match on paper.”
Tao Xiaodong refuted, “That’s not true.”
“Isn’t it” Tang Suoyan looked at him.
“Tell me, then.”
Tao Xiaodong was immediately able to rattle off a lot.
There was too much for him to unpack; Tang Suoyan and Tong Ning were two of a kind, after all.
Their styles and temperaments matched.
They were both doctors, that much need not be said, but that aside, there was a whole list of ways in which they were the same.
When he was done, Tang Suoyan chuckled, arching his brows.
“Aren’t those conditions on paper still What about ways that we fit together, like to like”
This rebuttal momentarily brought Tao Xiaodong up short.
The delivery boy who had left to send the take-out had already come jogging back, getting onto his scooter, and driving off.
Tang Suoyan continued to look over there as he spoke.
“We’re both too cold.
There are flaws in our personality, and that might be where the so-called ‘perfect match’ comes about.
We’re of the same kind; we have the same dash of pride in our bones, and the same obstinate temper.
When we were young, we were bolstered by the heat of passion, so we didn’t realise a thing.
But once the passion fizzled out, our love felt cold and weak.”
Above all, Tao Xiaodong was an outsider.
He wasn’t a participant in this relationship, much less had he witnessed it for himself.
So, at this time, he didn’t have any authority to speak.
Tang Suoyan and Tong Ning had been together for more than a decade, from the height of their youths to their thirties in the present.
While they were still men in their prime, it would nevertheless still be a lot less spirited when cast against those ten or so years.
It was truly regrettable, in every sense of it.
Feelings weren’t the only thing that would be lost; much, much more would be taken away from a relationship that had spanned over a decade.
Tao Xiaodong said, “Actually, you should talk it out.
I don’t think it’s so far gone.”
But Tang Suoyan shook his head.
“We would just be going in circles.”
Talking would just lead to yet another round of the endless cycle they had been in during these years.
They would just be going in circles.
Furthermore, Tong Ning wasn’t willing to talk.
It was rare for Tang Suoyan to say so much.
It could be that the ambience today was too suited for conversation; it could also be that Tao Xiaodong had a very steadying presence.
Tao Xiaodong even talked about Xia Yuan’s past pursuit of Tong Ning, saying with a laugh, “In fact, I’ve long heard of Dr.
Back in school, I had a friend who wanted to woo Dr.
Tong, but you’d already taken him off the market before he could.”
Surprised, Tang Suoyan said with a chuckle, “Well, my bad.”
Since their conversation had come to here, they just went along with the flow.
Tang Suoyan shared a bit about their younger days, not only the relationship part of it but also some happenings that left deeper impressions on him.
Tao Xiaodong listened to him speak; he listened to him very attentively.
Affections, if any, could be discerned from one’s voice and eyes.
When the stories were over, Tao Xiaodong said, “Living together for ten-odd years would have left deep marks.
It must feel awful, right”
Tang Suoyan didn’t deny it.
“It’d be too fake if I said it doesn’t.”
Darkness had already spread across the sky, and the building was dotted with light.
The moon hanging high above was bright.
The corners of Tao Xiaodong’s lips turned upwards, and he gazed ahead, asking, “What type are you looking for next time”
Tang Suoyan was gazing ahead as well.
Neither of them looked at each other.
Tang Suoyan pondered for a moment before saying frankly, “I haven’t thought about it yet.”
“Still hung up over Dr.
Tong, right” asked Tao Xiaodong with a laugh.
Tang Suoyan slowly shook his head.
With his elbows resting on the railing, his upper body leaning forward ever so slightly, under the light, his jawline and the contours of his side profile were exceptionally pronounced and deeply etched.
All he said was, “Having just ended a long relationship, I don’t have the capacity to consider much else for now.”
Tao Xiaodong nodded.
Tang Suoyan asked him.
“Have you had one before A relationship experience like this.”
“No.” Tao Xiaodong straightened up, smiling.
“I’ve had many stories, but all fleeting; nothing really up to snuff.
I’ve been crazy busy in all my years up to now.
I don’t have eyes for the lousy ones, but the good ones don’t have eyes for me.”
Tang Suoyan broke into laughter.
“Don’t have eyes for you How picky are you”
Just like that, unknowingly, their chat went on for more than three hours.
The two of them turned back in together and bade their goodnights.
When Tao Xiaodong entered, Tao Huainan was sitting cross-legged on his own bed, on a call with Chi Cheng.
Hearing the door open, he called out, “Ge”
Tao Xiaodong hummed in acknowledgement.
“Carry on with your call, I’m going to shower.”
“Okay.” Tao Huainan spoke to the phone, “Ge‘s back.”
It was a while before Tao Xiaodong came out of his shower.
When he did, Tao Huainan was already lying down, done with his call.
His eyes were still open, and he kept blinking still.
Tao Xiaodong went over and flicked his head.
“Why are you lying wide awake here instead of sleeping”
Tao Huainan laughed brightly.
“Ge, did you go to Dr.
Tang’s room just now”
“Nope,” Tao Xiaodong clicked his tongue, “what would I be going into someone’s room for”
“Then what did you guys do” It was not strange for him to be curious.
“You were gone for hours.”
Tao Xiaodong sat back on his own bed, towelling his hair dry.
“We just talked in the corridor.”
“Wah—” Tao Huainan exclaimed, then teased, “What did you talk about”
Tao Xiaodong paused.
He said, “We talked about Dr.
Tang and his boyfriend.”
Tao Huainan’s eyes were as wide as saucers.
Not being able to see didn’t stop his eyes from popping in surprise.
Tang has a boyfriend”
“They’ve broken up.” Tao Xiaodong laughed.
“Why are you so shocked”
“That scared me…” Tao Huainan exhaled in relief before asking his brother, “Can’t you stop overplaying it”
“Yeah, yeah.” Tao Xiaodong was still chuckling.
He turned over to rub his head.
“Don’t think so much.
Go to sleep.”
“‘Kay.” Tao Huainan nodded and lay back down.
Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress
– ❀ –
Please do not repost or retranslate.
In the subsequent few days, Tang Suoyan was out to conduct lectures and mentoring sessions, leaving early in the morning and returning late in the night.
They didn’t see much of each other in those days.
On the return flight, the three of them were still seated together, and Tang Suoyan and Tao Xiaodong chatted as they usually did.
Coming back was different from leaving.
Tao Xiaodong would be bogged down with work when he got back, and Tang Suoyan even more so.
They probably wouldn’t be seeing much of each other for quite a while.
That night’s conversation was an indirect exploration and gel-in between two adults.
Many things need not be laid out too explicitly; a sentence from you and a sentence from me, and deep inside we’d both reach an understanding.
This was the respectability that people had in their years; it made for easy conversation, and nobody would be put on the spot at the end of it.
As before, Da Huang came to pick them up again, dropping Tang Suoyan off along the way.
Last time, Tang Suoyan didn’t plan to get Tao Xiaodong to send him.
Tao Xiaodong said that it wasn’t out of the way, and only then did Tang Suoyan get in the car.
This time, Tang Suoyan got in the car very naturally, yet Tao Xiaodong said, “We’ve to make a wide detour to send you.”
“And so Should I get down” Tang Suoyan, firmly planted on the front passenger seat, helped himself to the seatbelt.
“Just make a detour, then.”
The shift in their friendship was obvious.
Huang Yida laughed.
“Listen to his nonsense.
Your place is just a turn away.”
After that, Da Huang looked in the rearview mirror and immediately made a “yo” of surprise.
“How did Xiao Nan get his face bruised”
“It’s not only my face.” Tao Huainan touched his arms and legs.
“I fell so many times.”
“Really good at telling on me, aren’t you.” Tao Xiaodong sighed.
“If we stayed there any longer, your grievances would have been too much to contain.”
Tao Huainan grunted twice and didn’t deny it.
No one slept on the car ride this time, but they didn’t talk much either.
During these days, Tao Xiaodong and Tang Suoyan had more than enough opportunities to talk.
The car pulled up at the gate to Tang Suoyan’s residential area, and Tao Xiaodong got off to help him with his luggage.
Tang Suoyan said, “I won’t hold you up anymore.
Go back and get some rest.”
Tao Xiaodong said, “You, too.
You’ve to go to work tomorrow, right”
I’ve to work overtime for a while.”
“Anyway, make sure to get enough rest.
Do you still have the medicine that I gave you last time You can just call me when you run out,” Tao Xiaodong said to him.
Tang Suoyan nodded.
The two of them parted.
One turned around, while the other got back in the car.
Looking just like a pair of very good friends.
When they got home, Chi Cheng had cooked the noodles.
Tao Huainan liked eating noodles, and over the years Chi Cheng had learned how to cook an assortment of noodles, all of which tasty.
The door opened and Tao Huainan called with a smile, “Ku ge!”
“What are you shouting for, I’m right here.” Chi Cheng was by the door; he took the thermos in his hand, frowning.
“What happened to your face”
“I told you that day over the phone.
It’s the day that I fell.” Tao Huainan changed out of his shoes, moving towards that side.
“Did I get tanner”
Chi Cheng said, “You’re about to catch up to me.”
“No way.” Tao Huainan touched his own face.
“Who can be as tanned as you”
“You say that as if you’ve seen it before.” Chi Cheng took the bags from Tao Xiaodong, saying, “Wash your hands.
Let’s eat, Ge.”
Chi Cheng set the stuff aside and pulled Tao Huainan to wash his face and hands, asking him, “Where else did you hit”
Tao Huainan shook his head.
The water on his face hadn’t yet been wiped, so this shake shook water all over the place.
Chi Cheng clicked his tongue, and Tao Huainan said, “That’s it.”
Chi Cheng asked him with a frown, “Do you still not want me to come along next time”
Tao Huainan didn’t speak, simply cackling in merriment.
Before this trip, Tao Huainan was reticent and melancholy, seeming to have a lot weighing on his mind.
After getting some wind and sun, he came back happy and cheerful again.
Tao Xiaodong said that he was like a flower lacking sunshine.
After basking in the sun and getting roughed up a bit, he was all cured.
After having smashed quite a bit of money into these two medical mission trips, Tao Xiaodong pulled extra hours.
The people in the store asked him, “Dong ge, why are you being so diligent all of a sudden”
Tao Xiaodong clapped a hand to his heart, saying, “I’ve spent all my money, my body hurts.”
And he had a reputation as a scrooge to upkeep, after all.
His clients lamented, “Your Dong ge is really something.
It’s two hundred thousand from me for this one job, but he refuses to even cut me the last half an hour.”
Passing by, Dyer snickered.
“You must be new here.
If you come by a few more times you’d know better than to waste your breath.”
One of Tao Xiaodong’s old regulars was nearby, and he laughed hearing this as well; Tao Xiaodong, the man of the hour himself, laughed too, even saying, “With your fat wallets, what are you squabbling with me about these odds and ends for”
“Your miserliness has reached a new all-time high,” said the client.
Huang Yida, drinking his tea by the side, said, “So long as you get used to it.
It’s annoying at the start, but wait until you see more of it; it’ll grow on you.
What a rarity that is, don’t you think”
The tattoo artists on the byline snickered as well.
“Our Yida shu and Dong ge are super tight.”
“That’s for sure.
We’ve stuck with each other through thick and thin for ten-odd years.
Even an ordinary couple would have started to fight and wave around divorce by now,” said Huang Yida.
At the mention of ten-odd years, Tao Xiaodong suddenly recalled the ten-odd years that he and Tang Suoyan discussed that night.
More than a decade; enough time for him to raise Tao Huainan from a little radish head to a big boy, and for him to go from rock bottom to his present wealth and fame.
Long enough for two prideful and dazzling youths to mature into gifted and accomplished doctors in their respective fields.
The things that could be done in a decade were too many.
Tao Xiaodong filled in the last stroke and stopped the machine.
He slid back in his seat for a while, and he said with his gaze downcasted.
“It’s over now.”