Tao Xiaodong was right in saying that he had never before flipped out when socialising over drinks with others.
Let alone at social functions, rarely did people butt heads with Tao Xiaodong since he seldom offended anyone nor was he willing to make things ugly for others.
That was unless the other party was truly a prick, but Tao Xiaodong wouldn’t keep such people in his company in the first place.
Naturally then, there wouldn’t be any chance for conflict.
Both Tian Yi and Xia Yuan were slightly startled by his outburst.
Tian Yi and Tao Xiaodong could be considered childhood friends after having grown up together from middle school onwards.
At that time, the spring of boyhood had gotten to their heads and they’d often posture around, getting into fights.
Later on, they outgrew that puberty phase, and, with the passing of the years, their tempers similarly toned down.
The person today was so distasteful in his speech that even Tian Yi was about to step in, unable to keep listening.
It was normal that Tao Xiaodong wasn’t able to keep his temper in check, but what Tian Yi failed to expect was that he would react so strongly.
With Tao Xiaodong’s personality, it was more probable that he would knock the bottom of his cup on the table, saying, “That’s enough, going any further would be crossing the line.” And with that, the scene wouldn’t get too awkward.
Yet he’d blown a fuse straight away on this occasion, leaving stagnant silence in the room behind him.
Xia Yuan and Tian Yi exchanged a look, bemused as to what was up with Xiaodong today.
They were both tempted to leave with him, but that would be too awkward; after all, they weren’t little children taking sides.
Furthermore, it was especially difficult for Xia Yuan to extricate himself, for he still had to play host and smooth things over.
Only Tong Ning rose, icily looking at the few who spoke just earlier.
He took his coat and walked out as well, leaving without a single word.
Half a minute of silence passed before someone at the table said, “You were seriously asking for it today… I can’t believe that you’ve got the guts to run your mouth when you don’t know who’s at the table.”
“The one who just left is an item with the guy you were going on about.”
An expletive burst out of the mouths of those unaware.
Even the person who disclosed this looked completely speechless, feeling second-hand embarrassment for the trainee doctor.
“I’d even diverted the conversation but you guys just had to insist on the topic. Xiao Ning has been with Dr.
Tang for more than ten years.
What are you going to do about it if it comes up later when he gets home”
Tong Ning and Tang Suoyan’s relationship was known to some, it wasn’t any kind of secret after all.
But no one did know of the relation between Tao Xiaodong and Tang Suoyan, especially in view that Tao Xiaodong wasn’t in their line of work.
They had believed that Tong Ning would speak up first, but it actually ended up being Tao Xiaodong who snapped.
The faces of the two who had spoken out of turn earlier were contorted.
It was indeed difficult for them to salvage the scene.
Tian Yi, losing the mood to watch the spectacle, rose to his feet.
“I’m going to the washroom.”
As soon as the door was shut behind him, he called Tao Xiaodong, asking, “Where did you go”
Tao Xiaodong said, “Car park.”
“Wait up,” Tian Yi told him.
At the car park, Tian Yi got into Tao Xiaodong’s car and immediately burst out laughing.
“Quite something, Dong ge, I’d thought that nothing can set you off anymore, but looks like you still have it in you.”
Tao Xiaodong laughed along before heaving a sigh.
“They were being too moronic.”
“I was getting triggered too, where on earth did those idiots come from.” Tian Yi buckled himself in.
“You should have seen their faces.
The way the colour fluctuated between blue and purple was amusing.”
“How is Lao Xia” Tao Xiaodong felt a bit bad at the thought of Xia Yuan.
“Lao Xia’s fine, he’s having his fun watching the show.” Tian Yi snickered, “Shouldn’t you know him better He doesn’t mind the show getting out of hand.
He smooths things over on the surface when actually behind every word is a stab to the heart.”
They drove off.
Tao Xiaodong was actually waiting for him just now; Tian Yi was sure to look for him, and if he left the other would certainly not want to stay.
“Tong Ning left right after you did.
I’m guessing they’re still talking about him in there.
Those few guys were shocked silly when they heard that Tong Ning was dating their senior.
It’s basically the same as insulting the person to the face.” It was so idiotic that it made Tian Yi cringe to recount it.
“A few years as a big-fry doctor in a small pond and they’ve lost all tact; they’re all over themselves now.
And he even wants to stay at San Hospital.
Seriously In your dreams.”
Tian Yi babbled on from beside him while Tao Xiaodong listened, occasionally pitching in with charges of his own.
The duo mocked them like a malady, venting their annoyance, though it did feel a bit childish.
They were already about to reach and, having gone at it the whole journey, felt much better.
When they were done, a thought suddenly occurred to Tian Yi.
“Actually, you didn’t have to speak up earlier.
Tong Ning was just about to but you cut into him; he wasn’t as loud as you were.”
Tao Xiaodong really wasn’t aware of this.
The anger had shot to his head when the other started railing at Tang Suoyan’s accomplishments.
Having been smothering his irritability with water, he was at last unable to sit still.
The truth was that Tong Ning did have more position to speak up than him.
Tao Xiaodong had glanced at him a few times, waiting, but it was to naught.
“I was watching him when it happened.
He had just opened his mouth when you started having a go at it.
What were you snatching his place for” said Tian Yi.
Tao Xiaodong was silent for a moment.
“I didn’t mean to, I really didn’t notice.”
“You were too quick.”
Tao Xiaodong shook his head.
“He was too slow.”
Before, Tang Suoyan had said that he and Tong Ning were both cold in disposition.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t get it at that time, but seeing it for himself now—yeah, pretty damn cold all right.
“When we got together for lunch last time, I saw that senior didn’t bring up Tong Ning much, so I’d guessed that they were going through a rough patch.”
Not quite able to keep hearing this, Tao Xiaodong told him, “They broke up.”
“Huh” It took Tian Yi a moment to process that.
He looked at Tao Xiaodong, “For real”
Neither of them had believed it when Xia Yuan mentioned it before, but now that Tao Xiaodong was saying so as well, it started to sink in with Tian Yi.
He asked, “How did you know”
“They’ve been separated for some time already.”
Tao Xiaodong and Tang Suoyan were naturally quite close now; they had been after the last mission trip.
However, it had been more than three months since then and they had only met up once, so it was a given that Tian Yi wasn’t aware of how close they were.
To the other, apart from the two trips and the previous meal the three of them shared together, their paths never crossed.
Tian Yi asked Tao Xiaodong how he knew.
Of course he knew, during the three-hour chat that evening, Tong Ning had come up a fair number of times.
However, he couldn’t say this; it still sounded a tad weird to brag that ‘I’m rather chummy with Dr.
In the end, Tao Xiaodong simply said, “It came up in conversation during the trip.”
It’s a real pity that they broke up.” Tian Yi couldn’t help but sigh.
“That’s more than ten years right there.”
It was a pity; everyone said so.
Tao Xiaodong stopped the car outside the parlour.
He turned off the ignition and echoed, “It is.”
Translated by luckykoi
Tang Suoyan didn’t find out about this.
If even Tong Ning and Tao Xiaodong didn’t bring it up to him, no one else would.
The guy taking a training programme at San Hospital was terrified when he saw Tang Suoyan at work on Monday.
They weren’t close, to begin with; conversation between them was stilted and he also couldn’t tell if the other had heard.
But from then on, he no longer dared to try to convert his traineeship; it was impossible for him to stay in San Hospital after this.
Tang Suoyan ended up having to take a rain check on his weekend appointment with Tao Xiaodong; there was a last-minute business trip that he had to leave for on Saturday, and he had to return to the hospital on Sunday to present a clinical case conference.
So their plans fell through.
Autumnal rain fell in torrents during this period, and when the rain abated the weather was chilly.
Tao Xiaodong had caught a mild cold, and he said over the phone, “That works.
I didn’t really want to meet up either, I don’t want to pass my cold to you.”
“You’ve caught a cold” Tang Suoyan asked him.
“I was afraid that my brothers would miss the car when picking them up yesterday, so I got off and stood under the drizzle for a bit.
I probably caught a cold ’cause of that,” said Tao Xiaodong.
“It’s not contagious.
You didn’t catch the flu,” Tang Suoyan said to him and told him to get some rest.
“Yep,” Tao Xiaodong said with a smile.
“You take care as well.
The weather changes so quickly these days, it’s too unpredictable.”
Huang Yida was drinking his tea next to Tao Xiaodong during the call, and something about it sounded off to him, deviating slightly from the way Tao Xiaodong usually received calls from others.
A bit more subtle, and the tone was a little different too.
After Tao Xiaodong hung up, Da Huang asked him, “Is there something going on”
“What can there be.” Tao Xiaodong set his phone aside, straightening his mask.
“Stay away from me, you’ll catch my cold.”
“Didn’t your friend on the phone already say It isn’t contagious, you can’t pass it on.
Learn a bit, can’t you” Da Huang drank his tea again.
“Was that Dr.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t deny it, acceding with a grunt.
“What’s up with that call” Huang Yida had a sharp hearing and an equally sharp mind, shooting Tao Xiaodong a sidelong glance.
“All sticky and cloy.”
“Nothing is up, that’s how I always speak.” Tao Xiaodong took off his mask.
There was a glass of warm water that someone had poured for him on the coffee table.
He held it up and drank from it, and the steam billowed into his face.
“That guy’s a decent catch if you ask me.” Da Huang recalled the past two times he saw Tang Suoyan when fetching them from the airport, and he nodded.
His words amused Tao Xiaodong.
“Where is this coming from, and what is this about approving or not.
You’re getting ahead of yourself.”
Tao Xiaodong was an open person by nature, yet he clammed up when it came to the topic of Tang Suoyan.
He was evasive, reluctant to talk about it with anyone who asked.
But he still acted normally in front of Tang Suoyan, talking and joking around as always.
Nobody could be more natural than him.
Tao Xiaodong soon recovered from that cold.
But whether it was that he had jinxed it or that it was flu season, after he got better Tang Suoyan fell sick; he could tell over the phone that the other sounded more nasally than usual.
Tao Xiaodong had prior plans to collect something from Tian Yi, and since he was going to be at San Hospital anyway, he dropped in to see Tang Suoyan along the way.
He deliberately went over at noon, around lunch hour.
Many in the Ophthalmology Department knew Tao Xiaodong, and they greeted him when they saw him.
“Director Tao, you’re here! Did you come to see Consultant Tang”
“Yeah, is he in” asked Tao Xiaodong.
“He’s in his office.
You can just head in,” the other said to him.
Tao Xiaodong knocked on the door.
Hearing a voice inside telling him to come in, he softly pushed the door open and glanced in first.
Tang Suoyan was initially slumped on the table but sat up when the door was pushed open.
It was obvious from his poor complexion that he was feeling unwell.
It surprised Tang Suoyan to see who had entered.
“You look miserable like this.” Tao Xiaodong came in, closing the door behind him.
“Why are you here” Tang Suoyan smiled.
“Have you come with Xiao Nan”
“I came to send you a care package.” Tao Xiaodong took a seat across from him.
“Have you had your lunch”
Tang Suoyan shook his head.
“I haven’t gone down.”
“Have some soup.
I pay a large sum every month to our in-house cook, he’s the best.” Tao Xiaodong opened the thermos.
There were even leaven biscuits in a small compartment inside.
They were soft and warm.
He nudged the thermos to Tang Suoyan.
“I packed the leftover bowl for you.
It’s good, try it.”
This scene was actually a bit comical.
Tao Xiaodong’s visit had come as a surprise, even coming over so suddenly with this ‘care package’.
They looked at each other and both of them were slightly tempted to laugh.
“Drink up, there’s no ginger.” Tao Xiaodong nudged it towards him.
Tang Suoyan ducked his head, smiling.
He sipped from a spoon.
“Can we get past the ginger”
“If you don’t like to eat ginger, then so be it.
Relax, we won’t ever get past it.”
Usually, the two men were on equal standing, on par with each other.
But Tang Suoyan was under the weather today.
He seemed weaker, and Tao Xiaodong carrying the soup over, all in all, came off more assertive.
Tang Suoyan quietly drank the soup, eating the biscuits as well.
Watching him drink, Tao Xiaodong asked him, “Have you taken medicine”
Tang Suoyan said that he hadn’t.
“I’ve got a surgery lined up for the afternoon.
Medicine will make me drowsy.”
Tao Xiaodong had always known that it wasn’t easy for doctors, but it still struck a pang in his heart to see them like this.
He never had any intention to occupy Tang Suoyan’s time in the first place, and seeing that the soup was done, he took the hot food thermos, all set to go.
“Rest well, Yan ge.”
Tang Suoyan asked him, “Is that all You really came just to send some soup”
“I’m here to get something from Tian Yi, thought to drop by as I did.
It’s been too long since we last met, I was afraid that you’d have forgotten my name.” Tao Xiaodong was to the point, opening the door and all set to go.
But before he closed the door, he said, “If you want to drink something else you can phone me.
I’ll get the kitchen to do it.”
Tang Suoyan chuckled and went “all right”.
He was unlike himself today, so direct that he seemed almost like a different person.
After coming from Tang Suoyan’s, he headed over to Tian Yi’s.
The latter was having a boxed lunch at his desk, and when he saw that Tao Xiaodong came with a thermos in hand, his eyes went round.
“You’re even sending me soup”
Tao Xiaodong shook the thermos he carried.
“You brought an empty thermos over” Tian Yi’s eyes went even rounder.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t have the conscience to admit that he had let someone else have it all, simply saying, “I just bought it.”
“Then couldn’t you have stopped by a shop to top it up with some soup Or leave it in the car” Tian Yi snorted, cross.
“Are you mocking me”
Tian Yi was a junior doctor, so it was a given that he didn’t have his own separate office.
Six others were having lunch in the room, and one of them said to Tian Yi with good humour, “Stop whinging, I’ll get you some seaweed soup tomorrow when I buy lunch back.”
It really was the last bowl remaining that he had packed.
Tian Yi hadn’t even crossed his mind at that time, and now he laughed along, feeling a wee bit apologetic to his good brother.
“I can stock soup for you tomorrow with the thermos I bought today.
Hurry up and hand the stuff over, I still have stuff to do.”
Tian Yi handed him a packet of dried fruit that his mother had kept for Tao Huainan.
The boy liked eating a variety of dried fruits; crabapples, apples, and whatnot.
Tian Yi’s mother would set them out in the sun for him every year.
At the mention of a tomorrow, Tian Yi arched his brows.
“You’re coming again tomorrow”
“Maybe, maybe not; we’ll see.” Tao Xiaodong considered it and said.
“What are you coming back for I’ve already brought this packet.” Tian Yi dug into his lunch.
Tao Xiaodong said, “To send you soup.”
Though Tao Xiaodong said he would, Tian Yi had assumed that he was just bull**ting around—never to expect that the other would really swoop in the next day.
This time, it was the royal service.
He brought not only soup but also food that the parlour’s kitchen specially whipped up for him.
Tian Yi was bowled over.
“You came over just to send me lunch” Tian Yi blinked.
“What the heck is this all about”
“Just eat.” Tao Xiaodong didn’t give him the time of the day, not even bothering with the lunch box, turning to leave right away.
“Take the tupperware back to wash, you can return it the next time you come over to mine.”
Tian Yi nodded, but Tao Xiaodong was out before he could even say a word.
Tang Suoyan’s bout of flu lasted for six days, and Tao Xiaodong sent soup over for five successive days.
One sent soup while the other didn’t tell him to stop.
On the second day, Tao Xiaodong had asked tentatively, “Do I still come tomorrow”
Tang Suoyan had said, “Don’t bother if you’re busy.”
“I’m not busy during this period,” said Tao Xiaodong.
Tang Suoyan said, “Suit yourself, then.”
And so the two met at lunch every day for the subsequent period.
In the years of Tang Suoyan’s practice, bar patients and their families who actively came to express their gratitude, no one really brought stuff to his office for him, much less sent him lunch when he was sick; it was an absurd thought.
On the last day, Tang Suoyan had more or less recovered from his flu.
After he ate, he looked at Tao Xiaodong, saying, “I should be well now.”
“You were already almost there yesterday.” Tao Xiaodong said with a smile, “Haven’t you noticed that the food isn’t as light today”
“Sorry to trouble you during this time, Director Tao.” Tang Suoyan dabbed his lips after clearing his meal.
His movements were slow, and the sleeves of the white coat slipped to reveal a very, very small mole on his exposed wrist.
“It’s no bother, as long as you get better.” Tao Xiaodong smiled.
“In that case, I won’t come over tomorrow, okay”
“Okay.” Tang Suoyan looked at Tao Xiaodong, a smile in his eyes.
“Since I’ve been in your care the past few days, shall I treat you to lunch tomorrow”
Tao Xiaodong responded with alacrity, “Sure.”
Having ‘clocked in’ to the hospital daily this week, he had to accept what came with the territory as well.
When he bumped into Tong Ning at the hospital entrance with the lunch box in hand, he muttered in his head that there was no flying from fate.
Tong Ning saw him, and naturally also saw what he carried with him.
Tong Ning took the initiative to greet him, asking, “Did you come to visit a patient”
The gears of Tao Xiaodong’s brain spun rapidly, but he still shook his head in the end.
Since he didn’t elaborate, Tong Ning caught on.
But what was surprising was how straightforward he was.
“Came to see Yan ge”
It rather surprised Tao Xiaodong, for he really didn’t expect that Tong Ning would ask this.
But he didn’t let his surprise show on his face, merely saying with a smile, “Yeah.”
Tong Ning nodded.
“I came to attend a seminar.”
As they walked out, Tao Xiaodong asked, “How did you get here, Dr.
Tong Ning said, “I drove over.”
Tao Xiaodong said, “I won’t hold you up if that’s so.
But Tong Ning called hold of him.
Tao Xiaodong looked up, waiting for him to speak.
“Shall we have a meal together sometime” Tong Ning smiled faintly at him, “Are you free in the coming days”
Tao Xiaodong was silent for two counts.
Then, he said, “Yeah, I’m free.
Just text me when is good for you.”
Tong Ning followed up at once, “What about tomorrow Will that work”
“I can’t tomorrow,” said Tao Xiaodong apologetically, “I already have plans.”
Tong Ning nodded.
“Another time, then.”