Normally, it seemed that he could function fine with one hand; on lazy days, he could simply tuck the other hand away and still get about with one hand.
Only now that it was out of whack was it apparent how important that hand really was.
Let alone taking off his clothes, it was chaos trying to lather shower gel with one hand, and that still wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.
The true challenge was in washing his hair.
Tao Xiaodong’s hair wasn’t that easy to wash and foam slipped into his eyes many times, turning his eyes red.
By the time he came out, Tang Suoyan was already done cooking the congee.
Tao Xiaodong said, “I used your towel just now, I only found one inside.
I used your face towel, too.”
“I forgot to pass you fresh towels, I’ll get you one later.” Tang Suoyan asked him, “Did you hit your hand”
“Nope, I held it up all the way.” Tao Xiaodong sat down and had some congee.
His hair was in complete disarray; he hadn’t dried it properly.
It wasn’t too convenient, with only one hand.
Tang Suoyan had seen his hair dripping wet like this once before; the curl was more obvious when the strands were wet.
Tang Suoyan went in to get a fresh towel and, while Tao Xiaodong ate his congee, he helped to dry his hair.
Tang Suoyan’s movements were gentle.
As the soft towel rubbed his hair, it would occasionally brush against his nape, tickling him slightly.
Tao Xiaodong laughed.
“Thanks, Yan ge.”
“Didn’t you see the hair dryer It’s in the cabinet,” Tang Suoyan said from behind him.
“I can’t be bothered, it’s too tiring to use it with one hand.” Tao Xiaodong gobbled up his food.
He was famished to begin with, besides, he also wanted to quickly finish so that Tang Suoyan could get some rest.
Tang Suoyan reproached, “Slow down.”
The sensation of someone drying his hair for him was soothing, further, with the hectic rush during the day, lulling him to drowsiness after his congee.
Tao Xiaodong tilted his head back to look at Tang Suoyan, but Tang Suoyan covered his face with the towel in his hand.
Tao Xiaodong blew out a breath under the towel, and Tang Suoyan gently traced a finger pad on his face through the towel.
He brushed his teeth and then checked the time before bed.
It was one.
Tao Xiaodong’s hair wasn’t completely dry yet.
Tang Suoyan brought the hair dryer out, saying that sleeping with his hair still wet would give him a headache.
Tao Xiaodong said, “I still have to wash it tomorrow, don’t bother.”
“Again” Tang Suoyan laughed.
“You have to wash your hair twice a day”
“Yeah.” Tao Xiaodong smiled as he made fun of himself.
“Do you think it’s that easy to look chic It’s fine if I don’t wash it at night, but it’s a must for mornings.
I washed my hair tonight ‘cause I was out and about in the day, plus I got all sweaty in the hospital.”
Tang Suoyan combed through his hair, ruffling it, and asked, “Did you perm your hair before”
Tao Xiaodong kept smiling.
“I get it permed at least once every two months.
Frequent trims, too.”
His hair had a casual look to it.
Tang Suoyan had grown used to it and quite liked it.
The messy high ponytail was rather dashing, and looked even more untamed when let loose.
Tang Suoyan said, “And here I thought that you had let it grow out freely because you didn’t want to get it cut.”
“It was intentionally styled to look like that.
I’d have to sit in the salon chair for two hours each time and let my friend primp my hair.
It’d be hideous to look at if I really let it grow out freely.” Tao Xiaodong topped this up with two examples of how bad it could get that sparked laughter from Tang Suoyan.
“I should go get it cut tomorrow.
It’s too much work to wash my hair with one hand,” said Tao Xiaodong.
“Don’t cut it.” Tang Suoyan turned the hair dryer to the lowest setting and blew his hair dry, carding fingers gently through the strands as he did.
Tao Xiaodong, “Huh”
Tang Suoyan repeated his words.
“Don’t cut it.”
It was rather unexpected.
If it weren’t that he was getting his hair dried, Tao Xiaodong would have looked back at him.
Tang Suoyan held his hair, a smile in his voice as he said, “I like it.”
The three words elicited a minute tremor in Tao Xiaodong’s heart.
The pain in his hand overrode thoughts about their relationship.
Really though, set in normal times, Tang Suoyan helping him to dry his hair would seem rather… intimate.
If this were before, Tao Xiaodong would definitely get nervous, either that or his brain would uncontrollably spiral elsewhere.
But today, because of his hand, he hadn’t paid much notice to anything else.
Now, with Tang Suoyan saying that he liked it, the emotions that Tao Xiaodong had deliberately waylaid were roused again.
Tao Xiaodong kept silent, waiting until Tang Suoyan finished blow-drying his hair and unplugged the hair dryer, before he spoke.
“…You like it” He looked at Tang Suoyan with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Okay, I won’t cut it, then.”
Tang Suoyan looked over his shoulder and went, “Yes, leave it.
I’ll wash your hair for you.”
Simply because Tang Suoyan had said that he liked it, Tao Xiaodong didn’t cut it in the end.
In the morning, he followed Tang Suoyan to the hospital to get two drips, and after the injection was done, he dropped Tang Suoyan a message that he was going back to the store.
The splint startled the whole parlour.
They crowded around, asking him what happened, looking all set to beat someone up.
Tao Xiaodong said that he had banged it up.
They couldn’t wrap their heads around it.
“How did you get it that badly knocked up”
“I hit a wall.” Tao Xiaodong practically mumbled the words out.
He had never broken a bone in a fight when young, yet now did of his own making, at thirty years old at that.
“Does it hurt” Huan Ge was terribly distressed, hovering around Tao Xiaodong in concern, on the verge of tears.
Tao Xiaodong rubbed his head, then softly shoved him.
“How bad can it get Back to work, c’mon.”
The fractures kept Tao Xiaodong from working.
Besides, his hand made it hard to focus.
The pain was no joke.
It kept preying on his attention, distracting him from whatever he did.
Actually, he had been unable to sleep well last night.
It hurt too much.
When Tang Suoyan helped him wash his hair in the morning, Tao Xiaodong was nowhere near relaxed.
The moment his face itched, forgetting that he couldn’t move his hand, he raised it and accidentally hit it on the rim of the washbasin, causing him to blench.
Tang Suoyan frowned and instructed him to watch his hands and keep from moving.
Tao Xiaodong quietly assented.
Tang Suoyan helped him wipe away the suds that had gotten onto his ears—the hands cupping warm water, the warmth passed to his ears; it was searing.
On this day, Tao Xiaodong didn’t get anything done.
He lay down at the lounge area with his eyes shut, falling fitfully in and out of sleep.
When Tang Suoyan called him, Tao Xiaodong checked the time.
It was still half an hour to the end of work.
Tang Suoyan said, “I just came out of the operating room.
Where are you”
Tao Xiaodong said in the store.
Tang Suoyan responded that he would fetch him after work.
Tao Xiaodong hurriedly turned him down.
“I can head home just fine on my own.
You still have work tomorrow, it’s too much trouble to have me over.”
Someone came looking for Tang Suoyan.
Tang Suoyan said, “I’m busy over here.
I’ll call you later after work.”
“Go do what you have to do, Yan ge, don’t worry about me,” Tao Xiaodong urged.
After hanging up, Tao Xiaodong gave up on trying to sleep, getting up to drink some water. Da Huang was out on business today.
Knowing that Tao Xiaodong was at the parlour, he fetched the kids after school.
Tao Huainan, hearing from Chi Cheng that his brother had injured his hand, received such a fright that he didn’t even dare to touch it.
Tao Xiaodong pulled his hand onto his, telling him, “Touch it gently, it’s fine.”
Tao Huainan’s touch was so light that there was barely any pressure from his trembling fingertips.
Tao Xiaodong laughed.
“The splint will be removed after a month.
It’s just a bump, nothing to fear.”
Stumbles and scrapes were normal for Tao Huainan.
He had also broken bones when he was younger.
He was undaunted by his own injuries, but always panicked when the people around him got injured—because he couldn’t see it, therefore wasn’t able to judge its severity.
“What did you do” Tao Huainan was displeased, yet also afraid to touch his injured fingers, could only run fingers across the back of his hand and his wrist.
“It’s swelling so much.”
In fact, it also hurt to have the back of his hand touched, but Tao Xiaodong allowed him to continue, saying with a smile, “I wasn’t careful.”
Chi Cheng pulled Tao Huainan’s hand away, stopping him.
Tao Huainan sat there, saying crossly, “Why were you so thoughtless.”
Tao Xiaodong used his right hand to rap a knuckle on his head.
Ultimately, Tao Xiaodong still stayed over at Tang Suoyan’s.
When Tang Suoyan called, Tao Xiaodong was in the bathroom, and the phone rang on the coffee table.
Tao Huainan asked, “Who’s calling”
Chi Cheng glanced over.
Tao Huainan said, “Pick up.”
Once he did, the person at the other end spoke up first, calling, “Xiaodong.”
Tao Huainan responded, “It’s Xiao Nan, Dr.
Tang Suoyan chuckled.
Where’s your brother”
“He went to the bathroom.”
They chatted for almost half a minute before Tao Xiaodong emerged.
He could hear Tao Huainan pick up his phone from inside.
When he came out, Tao Huainan turned over to say in his direction, “Dr.
Tang is asking you to go over.”
Tang Suoyan had pulled overtime and was now on his way over after clocking off.
In actuality, besides the pain and inconvenience, being a hand down wasn’t anything too major.
But since Tang Suoyan wanted him to stay over, without any excuses to get out of it, Tao Xiaodong conscientiously packed a few sets of clothes.
He was in it for the long haul.
Upon seeing him, Tang Suoyan could tell that he had prepared change of clothes, and he praised, “Sensible of you.”
Tao Xiaodong laughed at his compliment.
“I didn’t mean to bother you; you are already so busy at work.”
Tang Suoyan glanced at his hand before saying, “Back to being polite and courteous after heading out on one trip, I see.”
“Nothing like that,” Tao Xiaodong shook his head.
“I’m this close from suspecting that you met someone out there,” said Tang Suoyan, with the wisps of a smile.
“Stop scaring me,” Tao Xiaodong pleaded for leniency.
“You know what has been on my mind, Yan ge.”
Tang Suoyan started the car and glanced at the side mirror, purposely saying, “Not really, I don’t.”
Smiling, Tao Xiaodong looked at him.
“Don’t play ignorant.
I’ve already packed my clothes.
If you don’t know, I’m out of anywhere else to go.”
In truth, it was pretty comfortable staying at Tang Suoyan’s.
The beddings were neither too hard or soft, and the scent filling the apartment was pleasing.
Tang Suoyan took Tao Xiaodong’s clothes, as well as a paper bag, up.
Tang Suoyan placed the items in the room that Tao Xiaodong was sleeping in.
“I ordered you a set of pyjamas last night.
You should be the same size as me.”
Tao Xiaodong hadn’t even considered pyjamas.
He usually slept topless, with only a pair of shorts.
It was quite uncouth.
Now that Tang Suoyan said that he ordered him a set of pyjamas, the first thought that flashed through Tao Xiaodong’s head was, unexpectedly, how Tang Suoyan looked in navy blue pyjamas when just out of bed.
“Thanks, Yan ge.” Tao Xiaodong turned back and asked, “Is it the same as yours”
Tang Suoyan said, “It should be different.
I ordered mine last year.”
Tao Xiaodong said, flippant, “I like yours.”
Tang Suoyan was even more flippant than him.
“Wear mine, then.”
Tao Xiaodong blinked.
Then smiled and said cool.
He meant the ‘cool’ as a joke, really, but right before bed, Tang Suoyan did actually lay out a set on the bed.
“You can wear these, they’re freshly laundered.”
“Sheesh, I was just talking nonsense.” Tao Xiaodong chortled.
“It’s all the same what I wear, you can wear it yourself.”
“I have two sets.” Tang Suoyan pointed his chin at the set on the bed.
“That’s the one you wore the last time you came over.
You can tell, right”
Tao Xiaodong went “yeah.”
Tang Suoyan followed up at once, “The one you soiled.
It couldn’t be washed off.”
The killing power contained in those words was a bit over the top.
Tao Xiaodong spontaneously combusted.
He could still remember just how he had soiled it, of course.
Tao Xiaodong was unable to muster any response, much less turn his head to face Tang Suoyan.
Tang Suoyan had said that on purpose, and the other’s reaction pulled a laugh from him.
He patted Tao Xiaodong on the shoulder.
“Go to sleep.
Let me know if the pain gets worse at night.”
Before Tao Xiaodong could answer, he added, “Also, I was just teasing you.
Wear whichever one you want.”