Jie = older sis, familial or otherwise.
The two Chens in this chapter share the same surname but are unlikely to be not related, it’s just a common surname.
New Year’s Day went by and Tao Xiaodong stopped needing injections for his hand.
As the pain lessened, he got restless and basically resumed his normal lifestyle.
In the mornings, after Tang Suoyan got to work, he would drive the car to the store, and if he didn’t have any appointments he would deliver lunch at noon to the hospital.
Then, when Tang Suoyan got off work in the afternoon, he would head back over and then return home together.
Tang Suoyan didn’t approve of him driving, but Tao Xiaodong usually only drove with one hand on the wheel anyway.
He was an experienced driver, so this setback did not pose a problem to him.
With time, the assistant at the parlour was getting the hang of coordinating with Tao Xiaodong, which helped Tao Xiaodong immensely.
It was actually quite tiring for the boy to substitute as one of Tao Xiaodong’s hands.
He had to keep his head down for the entire duration, only lifting it when Tao Xiaodong was done.
Adding on to that, he didn’t have any prior experience and wasn’t confident that he could coordinate well, therefore always seemed slightly anxious.
The kid had just turned twenty, not much older than Tao Huainan, so Tao Xiaodong treated him like he did his own brother.
There was once when the assistant got up to fetch something and accidentally bumped against Tao Xiaodong’s left hand.
Before Tao Xiaodong could even flinch, he almost frightened himself out of his wits, crouching down to fuss over Tao Xiaodong’s injured hand.
Tao Xiaodong laid his hand on the boy’s head, petting it consolingly.
As he was deaf, they often communicated with gestures.
The boy turned nervous and worried eyes onto him, and Tao Xiaodong told him that he was fine.
Recently, there were fewer staff in the store as it neared exam period and students were essentially stuck in school cramming for their exams.
The flock of deaf and mute kids often couldn’t secure seats to study in school as they were unable to speak up or stand for themselves if their seats were stolen.
As such, Tao Xiaodong allowed them to study on the fourth floor of the parlour.
They came down for their meals at mealtimes and spent the rest of the time studying.
The fourth floor wasn’t frequently in use unless it was for holding master classes, and now it was transformed into a revision room for the part-timers.
Huan Ge had also just finished taking his graduate entrance examinations but didn’t feel that he had performed well.
He probably had no chance this year.
Therefore, he had been a little downcast these days and not as jovial as usual.
All the tattoo artists at the shop would pat him consolingly on the head when they saw him and, after a few days of head rubs, he managed to put the test behind him.
As Tao Xiaodong headed out with the lunch box in hand, Huan Ge asked him at the door, “Are you going to the hospital, Dong ge”
Tao Xiaodong nodded, and Huan Ge asked, “Will you be back in the afternoon”
When he saw Tao Xiaodong say that he would, Huan Ge jauntily opened the door for him.
“Off with you, then!”
Children had moods as fickle as the weather.
Tao Xiaodong smiled and went off.
The hospital had also been slammed recently.
Tang Suoyan wasn’t even doing rounds, but still had his hands full with meetings, surgeries, and exchanges.
The year-end and new year period were unforgiving to doctors.
When Tao Xiaodong arrived, he had just emerged from the operating room and had not yet changed out of his scrubs.
They met at the door of his office.
Tang Suoyan said to him, “I already told you not to come, I can just have food from the canteen downstairs, you shouldn’t be driving so much when your hand is injured.”
“S’okay,” Tao Xiaodong followed him in, “it doesn’t affect that.”
Tang Suoyan had another doctor behind him, the Dr.
Chen who had sat next to them on the return flight during the last medical mission trip.
He asked jokingly, “Director Tao, you can’t keep delivering lunch to only our consultant.
There are so many of us in the department, can’t you give us some as well”
Tao Xiaodong smiled with a nod.
“I’ll take that under advisement.”
Chen had come to retrieve a file from Tang Suoyan’s office and left after that.
When he did, Tang Suoyan said, “Don’t come over tomorrow.
It’s not convenient with your hand as it is, I’ll only worry.”
“I’d feel stuffy all cooped up, some fresh air will do me good.” Tao Xiaodong saw that the thermos on Tang Suoyan’s desk was out of water, so he went out to fetch him a glass.
Tang Suoyan often skipped lunch if he was busy at noon.
If anyone brought him food, it would be completely cold by the time he had it.
There were many occupational hazards that came with being a doctor, as such Tao Xiaodong would try to take care of what he could where he could.
“I might have to work overtime this week,” Tang Suoyan informed Tao Xiaodong about his schedule all at once.
“Until the end of the Lunar New Year, I won’t be getting many off-days.”
“Such hard work.” Tao Xiaodong said smilingly, “But that’s okay, I’m not busy, I don’t have much going on this year so it’s okay if you don’t have many off-days.
We can still see each other every day.”
Tao Xiaodong had already planned it out.
Deliver him lunch at noon and drive him home in the evening, and when the other’s hand was tired he could even give him a hand massage.
Tang was doing God’s work, saving lives and treating illnesses; Tao Xiaodong couldn’t help with that, all he could do was offer support with these small acts.
Tang Suoyan stared at him, and Tao Xiaodong asked, “What is it”
It was hard to read Tang Suoyan’s mind, but the man ultimately only shook his head and answered the question with a perfunctory sound, then asked, “Don’t you find it frustrating that I’m always busy”
Tao Xiaodong waved his hand.
“Who doesn’t get busy now and then I also don’t see the others much whenever I go out on my trips.
It can’t be helped.”
Now that they were already staying under the same roof, Tao Xiaodong stopped playing hard to get and would accompany him for a while instead of leaving right after delivering lunch.
As they conversed, someone knocked on the door.
Tang Suoyan allowed the person to enter.
It was the lead nurse.
“Chen jie,” greeted Tang Suoyan.
“Hey, have you had lunch” The lead nurse was the wife of the head of the ENT Department.
After years of working together in the hospital, she and Tang Suoyan had struck up a friendship.
Tang Suoyan said that he had.
Tao Xiaodong was often over, so the nurse knew him as well, exchanging a smile and a nod in greeting.
Tao Xiaodong offered his seat to her.
She waved him off, smiling, “I’ll stand, I’m tired of sitting around.”
She had come over with a matter to discuss.
“Suoyan, there was a patient kicking up a fuss at the wards in the morning.
They said that you had guaranteed them a bed, but we don’t have available wards.
Furthermore, with her condition…” The nurse shook her head.
“It’s hard to take her in.”
Tang Suoyan named the patient and the nurse nodded, confirming, “Yes, that’s the one.”
Tang Suoyan said, “I know her.”
“They made such a fuss.
The patient’s husband took it out on the nurses; he frightened a new intern so badly that she was reduced to tears.”
The lead nurse wasn’t intimidated as she had come across all types of people in the hospital.
“The nurses said that they hadn’t received word from you to admit this patient, so I sent them off.
Our department is incapable of admitting a patient like that, nor do we even have the space in the wards to accommodate her.
Right now, we’re already fitting two extra beds in each ward, you must know that.”
Tang Suoyan shook his head.
“You don’t have to explain these to me, Chen jie, I understand.”
Tang Suoyan didn’t admit the patient previously as there were no available therapies for her condition.
Every hospital had its regulations; it was near impossible for patients with late-stage terminal cancer and no available therapies to be admitted.
Hospital resources were extremely limited, especially San Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department.
Some patients would wait months before getting surgery, waiting for a bed in the wards, waiting for the finite hospital resources to empty out a space for them.
In this vein, admitting patients with no hope of treatment would hog resources, and further increase the fear of other patients in the inpatient wing.
Hospitals generally portrayed positive outcomes, and seeing a patient with a similar condition pass away would come as a huge blow to others.
“I told them to try going to the Oncology Department, but they wouldn’t take her.
Cardio, neuro, and vascular all wouldn’t take her.
Her husband was shouting bloody murder at the nurse station in the morning, also clamouring to see you.
It was really hard getting him to leave.”
Tang Suoyan said helplessly, “He had already come to my house last week to linger around my car.”
“Oh my god…” the nurse was shocked.
“Do you know him”
“I don’t.” Tang Suoyan sighed, then asked, “How is her condition”
“She won’t last more than a day or two.” The remorse in the lead nurse’s eyes was palpable.
“She can’t take off the oxygen mask; she can’t even walk on her own.
Her heart and lungs can’t hold out anymore.”
After the lead nurse left, Tao Xiaodong asked, slightly worried, “Is that the guy from the last time”
Tang Suoyan hummed in affirmation.
“So…” Tao Xiaodong blinked.
“That’s it for her, then”
Tang Suoyan dipped his head and didn’t speak.
Men were infinitesimal at death’s door.
While medicine was making advances, it was still a nascent industry, and there was only so much that could be accomplished.
Tao Xiaodong sat for a while before saying, “I’ll come over to pick you up at night.”
Tang Suoyan said, “I don’t know if I’ll be working overtime tonight.
Wait for my call If I end up having to stay late, you should head back first.”
“No.” Tao Xiaodong was slightly uneasy.
The previous incident with the patient’s husband really unsettled him.
“I don’t care what time you get off, I’ll pick you up no matter.
I’ll wait for you in the office if you are working overtime.”
Tang Suoyan chuckled.
“What are you up to”
“Anyway, I’m coming to get you.” Tao Xiaodong, only then feeling that it was a bit much, smiled.
“Am I overstepping”
“It’s understandable,” Tang Suoyan mirrored his smile, chiding, “You haven’t come across it much, but you will grow used to it with time.
You don’t have to take it too seriously.”
“I haven’t gotten used to being involved with a doctor yet,” said Tao Xiaodong.
At this, Tang Suoyan immediately lifted his gaze, arching an eyebrow.
Tao Xiaodong had spoken brazenly, it was hard to take.
Tang Suoyan asked him, “Involved with a doctor now, are you”
Tao Xiaodong’s smile turned bashful.
He batted his eyes and asked, “Am I… not”
Tang Suoyan’s smile was warm and gentle, and even the white coat on him appeared softer.
“How am I to know”
Looking at the doctor before him, Tao Xiaodong’s heart turned soft.
He felt safe.
He rose to his feet and questioned, “Should I leave now, then”
Tang Suoyan looked up.
“Because I’m not letting you be involved with me”
“Uh-huh, I have no right to sit here.” Tao Xiaodong retrieved the lunch box and turned to leave.
Tang Suoyan stood up to send him off.
When Tao Xiaodong opened the door, Tang Suoyan said, “I never said that you are not.”
Smiling, Tao Xiaodong looked back and pinched his hand.
He shut the door and left, but before he did, he said, “Wait for me to pick you up tonight.”
Translated by luckykoi
Reality proved that Tang Suoyan was more experienced in such matters than he.
There was no follow-up to what Tao Xiaodong feared might happen.
Tao Xiaodong fretted for a few days, while Tang Suoyan remained unruffled.
While the patient’s husband didn’t cause any trouble, it wasn’t that quiet on Tong Ning’s end these days.
He called Tang Suoyan twice more, both times while Tao Xiaodong was around.
Tang Suoyan answered the call once.
He didn’t hide it from Tao Xiaodong, who could hear the conversation.
Essentially, Tong Ning still wanted to talk to Tang Suoyan, but Tang Suoyan said that he was busy lately and didn’t have the time.
Tang Suoyan didn’t accept the subsequent call.
It was a supremely awkward affair.
Whenever Tong Ning came to look for Tang Suoyan, all three parties were unable to relax.
Tang Suoyan and Tong Ning had an amicable break-up.
They had discussed it and parted on peaceful terms.
It was congruent with their personalities that the relationship ended without hysterics.
On their next encounter, they had exchanged polite greetings.
It might seem distant, maybe even slightly cold, but they didn’t pretend not to know each other.
That was tacitly understood between them, a consensus reached by both parties to keep things this way.
But Tong Ning obviously didn’t want this state of affairs to continue.
It was as though he was only now realising that Tang Suoyan no longer remained where he had left him, and, now that he turned back, the other was out of sight.
Tao Xiaodong was different from Tong Ning.
Sometimes when he thought about Tong Ning, he had zero inkling of what was on Tong Ning’s mind.
If Tao Xiaodong was in his shoes—never mind that he would never let go of a catch as fine as Tang Suoyan—even if they did separate, he would never say that he regretted it over the phone.
He would definitely hunt the other down to say it to his face.
Confess, openly and smoothly: I regret ending things.
I still want to be with you.
Can we try again
Some things shouldn’t be said over the phone but face-to-face, looking the other in the eye.
Tao Xiaodong was still uncertain as to the reason for their separation, but since Tong Ning could voice his regret, then he must have been the one to suggest ending it.
It was absurd that he was the one to suggest it yet was still unwilling to admit otherwise in person.
The thought of this, unbidden, made Tao Xiaodong deem the apology unworthy of Tang Suoyan.
“Penny for your thoughts” Tang Suoyan brought a hot towel over.
Tao Xiaodong had to regularly apply a hot compress on his hand.
Tao Xiaodong reached his hand over to him, sitting cross-legged on the couch, but he made no mention of Tong Ning.
It was a rare respite from Tong Ning, and it would be wise not to tempt fate.
Tao Xiaodong said, “Right.
My birthday’s next Saturday, for the record.”
Tang Suoyan was unexpectedly calm, simply saying, “I know.”
“You do” That startled Tao Xiaodong.
Tang Suoyan didn’t explain his source but held his hand, applying the hot compress for Tao Xiaodong.
It used to be the other way around, him doing it for Tang Suoyan.
Tao Xiaodong’s index finger unconsciously curled and brushed the inside of Tang Suoyan’s wrist, inattentive to his actions as his mind wandered.
It tickled Tang Suoyan, who laughed quietly, “What is your hand doing”
Tao Xiaodong only registered the action after that, saying, “I didn’t notice.”
And then, he brushed his thumb comfortingly over Tang Suoyan’s hand.