“Ge, where are you going today” Tao Huainan pushed a small stool over on his own to sit at the doorway to Tao Xiaodong’s bathroom, listening to his brother freshen up.
“Why are you asking this” Tao Xiaodong slid him a look.
Tao Huainan’s eyes crinkled.
“You’re dressing up nice.”
“What are you thinking, huh,” Tao Xiaodong laughed.
“I’m going out for lunch.”
Tang” Tao Huainan shuffled the chair even closer.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t hide it from him.
“Hurry up, then.” Tao Huainan felt the wood grain of the bathroom door, laughing brightly, “Get going.”
Since Tao Xiaodong wasn’t having lunch at home, with Tao Huainan saying that he wanted soup, Chi Cheng stewed soup, even tossing some noodles in for him.
“Now, nobody’s cooking can beat my Ku ge‘s,” said Tao Huainan at the smell of the aroma, walking over to the couch on his own and sitting down.
Tao Xiaodong was ready to leave.
He glanced over and said, “Then stop getting on his nerves.”
“I don’t.” Chi Cheng was walking out of the kitchen when Tao Huainan said this, facing him.
Chi Cheng pretended not to hear.
His words were just breeze by the ears; no one took him seriously.
Tao Xiaodong was even wearing a button-up.
His good looks were nothing to scoff at, and he cleaned up pretty nicely.
His legs were long and eye-catching.
He had also purposefully raked a hand through his hair.
Out of the door, he was dressed to impress.
Tang Suoyan got into the car, eyed Tao Xiaodong, then turned, making as if to get down.
“What now Should I go back up to change”
He was just saying it in jest.
Tao Xiaodong didn’t bother to respond, driving off right away.
Tang Suoyan smiled as he buckled his seatbelt.
“You keep changing it up, I don’t even know how to match along.”
“It’s on purpose,” Tao Xiaodong shot a glance to the side, laughing lowly, “I just want to look better than you.”
This reason sounded a bit comical.
Tang Suoyan didn’t say much, simply smiling with a tip of his head.
In fact, besides the two times that they went out, this was the first time that they were having a meal unaccompanied.
Before Tao Xiaodong left the house, he asked Tang Suoyan how he was getting there and whether he wanted a lift.
Tang Suoyan said, “That’ll be nice.”
Therefore, Tao Xiaodong had driven his car over.
“Do you usually avoid driving when you can” Tao Xiaodong asked him when on the road.
Tang Suoyan nodded without pausing to think about it.
“I’m not really fond of driving.”
“You must be too tired from work, right It’s good to let your hands rest a bit during your downtime.”
Tang Suoyan hummed in accord.
“It’s only because there’s no transport when I leave for work in the morning, otherwise I wouldn’t even want to drive when I get off work.”
Driving wasn’t much of a chore to Tao Xiaodong, so he didn’t read more into it, casually offering, “I can pick you up whenever you head out in the future.”
It was quite food for thought, the way he put it.
Tang Suoyan looked over at Tao Xiaodong and said sure.
They had seen each other every day this week; it was already the sixth consecutive day now.
After seeing someone for so many days in a row, any sense of unfamiliarity and distance would have evaporated, let alone that there wasn’t any between them to start.
Tao Xiaodong put away his food at an impressive rate, only remembering that he was meant to act as a decent human being today when he was almost done.
And so he made a show out of sitting back up, saying, “Blink and the next thing I know, my food is almost gone.”
“Are you full Do you want to order more” Tang Suoyan did occasionally wolf food down when pressed for time, but never as much in a hurry as Tao Xiaodong.
It’s just a habit to eat like this.” Tao Xiaodong started to slow down, pouring himself a cup of tea.
“It’s an unhealthy habit,” Tang Suoyan told him.
“All right,” Tao Xiaodong had always been easily reasoned with, so he smiled and nodded, echoing, “I’ll change it.”
Since Tao Xiaodong was done, like he had the previous afternoons, he just watched Tang Suoyan eat.
The other didn’t mind, either, eating in his own time.
“Have some fruits.”
After that, Tao Xiaodong began to make conversation, chatting about anything and everything under the sun, before, all of a sudden, he called “Yan ge.”
Tang Suoyan looked at him.
“Let me ask you something.”
Tao Xiaodong had been tactful for long enough, and today, he was more forthright than usual, asking Tang Suoyan, “You and Dr.
Tong have already been separated for more than half a year, right”
The question came rather much out of left field, and, after it was asked, he looked straight at Tang Suoyan.
Faint mirth hung at the corners of his eyes, and there was not a trace of unease to be found.
After Tang Suoyan got over his initial surprise, he readily answered in confirmation.
“It’s already been half a year.” Tao Xiaodong nodded.
“Not too long, but not too short either.”
Tang Suoyan set down his chopsticks, wiped his mouth, and took a sip of water.
Then, he looked at Tao Xiaodong and chuckled.
“What are you trying to say”
“That…” Tao Xiaodong scratched his ear.
“Can’t you guess”
“I can’t.” Tang Suoyan shook his head.
“I’m not as tricky as you.”
Tao Xiaodong leaned back in his seat, saying with his head lowered, “I’m going out to eat with Dr.
Tang Suoyan arched his brow.
“The two of you”
“Yeah, the two of us.” Tao Xiaodong copied him, arching his brows.
“Can’t we I’ve known Dr.
Tong longer than I’ve known you.”
Tang Suoyan smiled faintly, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve known each other for five years now.”
They had been introduced by Tian Yi, before, to treat Tao Huainan’s eyes.
But it wasn’t really knowing each other per se—Tao Xiaodong was too afraid to offend him to say much at all.
So, it made Tao Xiaodong smile cheekily to hear it put this way.
“By your measure, I’ve known Dr.
Tong for even longer.
I already did all the way back when my friend wanted to woo him.”
It was pointless squabbling over this, and Tao Xiaodong’s quip also brought a smile onto Tang Suoyan’s face.
Seeing his smile, Tao Xiaodong asked, “Is it okay if I go”
Tang Suoyan told him, “Feel free.”
Tao Xiaodong had thrown out hook after hook, yet Tang Suoyan never rose to the bait.
It had to be on purpose, that this guy was playing off those little morsels of something else. In the end, Tao Xiaodong was the first to concede, laughing.
He tugged his ear and called again—”Yan ge.”
Tang Suoyan, “Mm.”
“Somehow, whenever I see Dr.
Tong, I feel a bit guilty inside.” Tao Xiaodong said, eyes cast down.
“I’ve already agreed to eat with him, so I will go.
I just want to ask you.
How should I approach it”
“Why are you asking me” Tang Suoyan looked at him with a smile.
“Or are you inviting me For us three to dine together”
“No way.” Tao Xiaodong hurriedly retreated, plastering himself to the back of his seat.
“Just me and him.”
“Go ahead, then.
But don’t eat as you did today; he’ll think that you’ve been starved for three days,” said Tang Suoyan.
Despite beating around the bush for ages, between the two of them there was not one sentence of actual substance.
Tao Xiaodong was perfectly aware that Tang Suoyan was just teasing him, and he himself was also willing to be teased.
A back and forth between you and me, neither touching on the key points.
Once they had their fun, Tao Xiaodong abruptly came with a straight ball, “In this half-year, I’ve never said a single word out of line, and I’ve never stepped a toe out of line either.
But I still feel guilty.
Because my conscience isn’t clear.”
The inappropriate note of mirth slid off his face, and his expression turned solemn.
“I feel bad every time I see Dr.
I also hope that the two of you can make up, I sincerely do.
If that happens, I will definitely wish you well.
It’s really a shame for ten years to just be written off like this.
While I do hold other intentions in my heart, that doesn’t stop me from feeling sorry for your relationship.”
Sentence after sentence said he, each one more direct than the next, and Tang Suoyan listened to him in silence.
“But it’s already been half a year.
It seems to me quite unlikely that you’ll get back together.
I don’t see any sign of you planning to.” Tao Xiaodong clasped his tea to drink some water, then set it down.
His fingers curled around its surface, and he slowly said, “And if that’s the case, then I don’t have to feel guilty when I eat with him.
I can also have a clear conscience.”
Then, he looked into Tang Suoyan’s eyes, and he asked, “Yan ge, say, how should I approach this meal”
Tang Suoyan had gone in circles with him all this while, but now Tao Xiaodong was asking it with almost no pretences.
It was easy to answer, as the direct question that it nearly was; Tang Suoyan simply said, “There’s nothing to be guilty about.”
Tao Xiaodong leaned his body slightly forward, pressing against the edge of the table.
From his angle, he peered up at Tang Suoyan, softly asking, “I don’t have to feel guilty, right”
“You don’t.” Tang Suoyan looked down at him.
“I’m taking your word for it, okay” Having taken the circuitous path to get to this question, now that he had his answer, he ducked his head, smiling boldly.
“I’m over thirty and you’re two years older than me; you’re not allowed to back pedal tomorrow.
I’ve been calling you Ge for half a year already, you’d better act the part.”
Tang Suoyan set his watch strap, telling him, “Okay.”
This lunch was absolutely worth his while.
When sending Tang Suoyan back, Tao Xiaodong was finally unable to contain his laughter, and after his laughter subsided he said, “It’s so difficult to wheedle an answer out of you.”
Tang Suoyan chuckled.
“If you ask me properly, wouldn’t I answer you properly Did you use your words”
“Touche.” Tao Xiaodong nodded.
“Actually, I was just hung up over that, whether the two of you can still work out.
If you say that it won’t happen, then I won’t ask further.
It doesn’t concern me.”
Tang Suoyan had mentioned before that, having just ended a long relationship, he didn’t have the capacity to consider much else.
At that time, Tao Xiaodong had nodded, also feeling that anything else would be inappropriate for someone who had just come out of a relationship.
Whether or not one had anything else or even the capacity was unimportant.
His only concern was that they would get back together again one day.
So, don’t be nosy, and don’t stress over it.
After this lunch, Tao Xiaodong went wild.
No one could be more familiar than him with Tang Suoyan’s office.
When he carried lunch over at noon, he’d even greet the passing doctors and nurses from the Ophthalmology Department.
Tang Suoyan told him, “You don’t have to go to the trouble.
Isn’t it hot at midday”
“Director Tao has a luxury car and the air-con to power up.” Tao Xiaodong pushed the food container over.
“Try this, it’s new on the menu.”
“I can just have my lunch downstairs,” claimed Tang Suoyan, but he opened the container with practised ease.
“I want to come down.
I’m free during this period, but later on I won’t have the time anymore.
If you don’t want to have it, I can just give it to Tian Yi.
This good brother of mine doesn’t even know that I’ve been dropping by every day,” Tao Xiaodong said, seated across from Tang Suoyan.
Tang Suoyan disregarded that, minding his own.
Having watched him eat so often, Tao Xiaodong had also become more scrupulous when eating as of late, even making sure to chew well before swallowing.
When Tang Suoyan was done, Tao Xiaodong took back the food container and didn’t linger, disappearing like a gust of wind.
Now and then, Tang Suoyan would want to chat with him for a while, but Tao Xiaodong was always in a rush to leave, saying that he had things to do and places to be.
He didn’t stop to chat or even talk much at all.
He was here to deliver lunch and just that.
After the delivery, he would watch the other finish, and once done he would leave, not stopping for a single second more.