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wildfire CH 33

Author:Bu Wen San Jiu Not Asking If It's Three Or Nine Category:urban Update time:2023-01-01 02:56:11


Never before had Tao Xiaodong put in so much effort; he had it bad this time.

He was someone who steered clear of any trouble, especially the likes of romantic entanglements.

Therefore, he hadn’t formed deep emotional attachments in ages, much less the recent years.

As previously mentioned, he was way out of touch with the twenty-something-year-old young’uns.

Tang Suoyan was two years older than him, exemplary in every aspect.

To Tao Xiaodong, people of his ilk were not even from the same world.

If this were before, he wouldn’t dare display his innermost thoughts no matter how many, but there was an opportunity served on a platter now, and damn straight was he going to seize hold of it.

It’d be an outright disgrace to his name if he let it slip by.

Quoting Tian Yi, he was a real charmer, someone shrewd yet more genuine than anyone else.

As Tang Suoyan still had work in the afternoon, Tao Xiaodong didn’t stick herbal patches onto him; those stuff smelled strongly of traditional Chinese medicine.

He simply held Tang Suoyan’s hand and warmed it up, after that massaging the muscles and pressing the acupuncture points.

It made Tang Suoyan’s hand feel nice and warm, even where the scar was.

Tang Suoyan had to go back.

Tao Xiaodong kneaded a few times more.

His thumb unconsciously grazing the scar, he then released the hand and said, “I’ll head back now, then.

Call me when your schedule eases up, I don’t have much on during this period.”

“I’ll call even before my schedule eases up.” Tang Suoyan rolled his sleeves back down and slowly fastened his cuffs, telling him, “Drive slowly, the road conditions are bad.”

“Alrighty.” Tao Xiaodong nodded at him, smiling, “It’s been hard on you, Dr.


Every doctor worked hard to extend and improve lives for others in the world.

Tao Xiaodong had mad respect for doctors; this wasn’t an easy occupation.

Tang Suoyan said, “It’s all part and parcel of the job, there’s nothing hard about it.”

He rolled his right wrist, massaging it in his left hand.

He said to Tao Xiaodong with a smile in his eyes, “Feels much better.”

“That’s good.” It made Tao Xiaodong happy to hear that.

“I’ll give you a longer massage next time.”

Tang Suoyan wanted to talk more, but he glanced at the time and it was indeed time to go, so he sighed, “I wish I could stay, but I have to go.”

“Go.” Tao Xiaodong started to chase him off again, as he was prone to doing whenever they called recently, hurrying him off the phone every other sentence.

He waved at Tang Suoyan, “You can find me once your work lets up.”

Their relationship had geared up too quickly.

Upon the return from the last mission trip, months had gone by without meeting or much contact.

But after that, Tao Xiaodong delivered lunch to the hospital for several consecutive days and somehow or other they had abruptly come to this point.

It was comparable to what was formerly a leisurely stroll morphing into travel on a high-speed rail.

At home, Tao Huainan was still worrying unnecessarily, asking Tao Xiaodong after dinner, “Ge, how far along are you and Dr.

Tang Why aren’t you having dates over dinner anymore”

“Why did I never discover you to be so concerned about me before” Tao Xiaodong stuffed a piece of orange into his mouth.

It was cold inside during this season.

Chi Cheng had Tao Huainan wear thick woollen socks, whereas Tao Huainan would secretly slip them off.

After washing the dishes and coming over with fruit and yoghurt, seeing his bare feet, Chi Cheng set the bowl by his hand and went into their room to find socks.

He searched in vain and came out to ask him, “Where are your socks”

“Don’t remember.” Tao Huainan ate his fruit mixed in yoghurt, sitting cross-legged, feet folded beneath his legs.

“It’s not cold.”

Chi Cheng pushed him aside and dug around under the long pillow next to him, finding his socks.

Tao Huainan plopped his feet on the other, letting him put on the socks for him without fuss.

Tao Xiaodong watched the two of them; he was long used to this after day in, day out of seeing them like this.

However, his heart had entered rosy spring lately, and now watching this domestic scene felt slightly off to him.

But he didn’t plan to probe.

It wasn’t his place as their brother, and since he couldn’t do anything about it there was no point asking.

Nevertheless, Tao Xiaodong did have a selfish desire.

Besides him, a brother by birth, there was none other closer to Tao Huainan than Chi Cheng.

“I asked you a question, Ge.” Tao Huainan prodded his brother’s arm with his now-socked feet.

“Why aren’t you eating out with Dr.

Tang anymore”

“He’s busy.” Tao Xiaodong moved the foot away and then patted the boy’s calf.

Tao Huainan was wearing woollen pyjamas, warm to the touch.

Tao Huainan went oh in understanding to rise to his feet.

Chi Cheng looked up at him.

“Going to bed”

Tao Huainan said, “No, going to use the toilet.”

He went into the bathroom and Tao Xiaodong said to Chi Cheng, “Don’t stay up too late studying.

I saw that you were still up at midnight yesterday.”

“S’okay, Ge,” said Chi Cheng.

“Don’t put pressure on yourself.

I won’t enforce all that on the both of you,” said Tao Xiaodong.

“I know.” Chi Cheng nodded.

“I will take care.”

Chi Cheng had good grades; he had always been a bright child.

Tao Huainan was intelligent as well, but due to his sight, his grades were middling.

Tao Xiaodong didn’t have him attend a special needs school, either.

The boy had been enrolled in a standard school all these years; the learning curve was steeper.

Tao Xiaodong hadn’t wanted to sequester him in a special environment as he rather hoped that Tao Huainan could live normally among the masses.

A blind child’s education was a rather finicky affair, requiring the family to not just expend a lot of money but also extra energy.

Tao Huainan had Chi Cheng who had been with him since childhood, which saved Tao Xiaodong much worry.

Other families weren’t as blessed.

As a result of various considerations, the only option they had was to send their child to a school for the blind, receiving education tailored for the visually impaired from a tender age, then engaging in work in the few unique pursuits available to the blind.

Recently, Tao Xiaodong had shelled out cash again, partnering with several elementary, middle, and blind schools to set up special education classrooms in standard schools so that visually impaired children could also receive as much mainstream education as possible.

It actually wasn’t easy for blind children to enter standard schools.

Facilities and support had to be set up, the reading and teaching materials had to be in Braille, and basic amenities had to be more inclusive.

Tao Xiaodong pumped a lot of money into this endeavour every year.

If Da Huang found out about it, he’d put it under the store’s expenses instead, which was why Tao Xiaodong generally did it behind his back, keeping it from his knowledge.

Da Huang once questioned what was the point of donating so generously if he kept such a tight lid on the news.

Tao Xiaodong said I haven’t the faintest idea, but I do know that I have an easier lot in life than them.

His father had gradually lost his sight in his mid-life, whereas his baby brother had been blind since young.

Tao Xiaodong knew better than anyone else how difficult it was for the blind to go about their daily lives.

Nobody had it easy in life, but some had it much harder than others.

Even able-bodied as he was, Tao Xiaodong had a privileged life.

He had a pair of talented hands that could easily rake in seven digits with ten days of work.

To the vast majority, with his job and his income, it sounded as though he was ripping off the masses.

Still, flocks of people lined up to shove money into his hands around the year.

Tang Suoyan was busy during this period.

Tao Xiaodong didn’t have anything better to do than to hunker down in the parlour clearing work.

Unable to stand it, Da Huang tried to enforce leave on him, not allowing him to keep going.

A tattoo artist said, “I also want a vacation.”

Another echoed, “Me, too.”

“Sure, keep running your mouth before the clients, spoken right as though I don’t give you guys any leave.

Milords, since when were you not allowed to come and leave as you pleased” retorted Da Huang.

Those weren’t under Tao Xiaodong’s purview; all business matters were handled by Da Huang.

Tao Xiaodong didn’t dive into it, either, only saying, “I’ll be taking a break after a few days, anyway.

I won’t be in over the weekend.”

“Wanna go, wanna go,” Dyer joined in from a distance away, “I just want to go.”

Others couldn’t catch his drift, but Tao Xiaodong could.

The troublemakers had been listening in to his phone calls and parroting after him for a good while now.

Tao Xiaodong didn’t get annoyed, letting them have their fun.

Friday was Tao Xiaodong’s last day at work before his self-imposed vacation.

He had deliberately picked a small tattoo, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to complete it in a day otherwise.

Just a skull on the arm, a job that Tao Xiaodong could easily complete within an hour.

The client was an old friend of his, more than a dozen of the tattoos on him were Tao Xiaodong’s handicraft.

Said he wanted a cutesy little skull, asking Tao Xiaodong, “Is that hard Just an idea, though, but better go with whatever feels good to you.”

Tao Xiaodong said that it wasn’t hard.

Truly though, in this trade, nothing really posed a challenge to Tao Xiaodong anymore.

A roly-poly little skull, and after that was through Tao Xiaodong topped it off with a tiny black flower at the corner of the forehead.

The old chap was fawning over his arm at the quirkiness of it all.

The door was pushed open and someone entered.

The parlour welcomed a diverse range of clients over the years, even famous figures, but it was easy to perceive that this gentleman was not the usual crowd.

There was a different air about him.

The greeter went up to receive him.

Huan Ge was coincidentally on the ground floor, too, and saw the man ask, “Is Xiaodong around”

The parlour staff courteously replied, “He is.

Do you have a booking”

Tang Suoyan shook his head and said that he didn’t.

The gentleman definitely didn’t look to be the sort to come in for a tattoo.

Huan Ge was the first to work it out, laughing and heading over.

“Dong ge is upstairs.

I’ll take you up.”

Tang Suoyan responded in thanks.

Of the young staff at the store, Huan Ge had the fastest reaction.

As Tao Xiaodong was conversing with a client, he didn’t announce the guest when he went up, quietly leading the gentleman over.

“Since you’re free and your schedule’s all cleared out for the day, you can do me another tatt,” the client wheedled.

Tao Xiaodong checked the time.

It was just past four, and he didn’t have any other arrangements anyway, so it wasn’t as though he couldn’t squeeze in another.

“Just a teensy bit bigger.

Two hours tops if you’re the one on it.”

Tao Xiaodong hunched his back and relaxed in the stool, cracking his neck.

“And if I refuse”

“I’ll pay you double, chop chop,” the client guffawed.

Tao Xiaodong stuck up his nose.

“Your tiny tattoo isn’t worth much even if you double it.”

“Get moving, don’t dawdle.” The client was all ready to shuck off his trousers.

His body didn’t have much unmarked skin remaining, just the thighs with some empty space that he could work with.

“Cough up first.

Double, yeah” said Tao Xiaodong.

The client swore with a grin, joking, “This is daylight robbery.”

“You offered it up yourself.” Tao Xiaodong grinned roguishly.

Tang Suoyan didn’t say a word.

Some other tattoo artists had noticed him by now, but unlike usually, all mouths were sealed.

When he walked up to Tao Xiaodong, that gung-ho client had just taken off his trousers and then, upon looking up, jerked his chin behind Tao Xiaodong, “This guy here for you”

Tao Xiaodong looked over his shoulder as he asked, “Who…”

Before he could finish his question, seeing the guest, he instantly leapt to his feet in surprise, his phone clattering down from his leg.

Tang Suoyan smiled and said, “I didn’t have other business so I left early.”

“Why didn’t you tell me” Tao Xiaodong was surprised first and overjoyed second, that speck of joviality practically radiating from his face, “You should have called me.”

“Since I was free, I came straight over,” said Tang Suoyan, “Go back to work, I’ll wait for you.”

“Nope, not busy.” Tao Xiaodong looked back at his client.

“I can’t anymore today.

Come back another time.”

“It’s okay, I’ll leave you to it,” said Tang Suoyan.

The client was disgruntled, “Hey, dude, uncool.

We’ve already agreed on it and the money has been transferred, bring your arse back over.”

Tao Xiaodong looked over his shoulder and directed Huan Ge, “Refund him.”

“Don’t refund me! How can you be so wishy-washy after taking the money” The client came over to haul his arm back towards the stool, pointing at his leg, “Hurry up.

No backing out of this now, what are you, a kid”

The room of tattoo artists silently watched the fuss, smiling under their masks.

Dyer also hollered, “I just want to go.”

Tao Xiaodong, locked in place by the trapped arm, darted a look at Tang Suoyan, checking his expression.

Then, he glanced at Huan Ge, miffed.

“You should have given me a head’s up that someone’s looking for me.”

Huan Ge had been so focused on leading Tang Suoyan over that he hadn’t taken notice of their mouths and didn’t know what the conversation was about.

He got it now, and he shrugged.

Tang Suoyan said with a smile, “It’s okay.

I’ll wait for you.”

Tao Xiaodong said, “Relax over at the sofas first, then I’ll get them to put up a movie for you.

Have some tea, I’ll be quick.”

“No hurry,” Tang Suoyan told him, “take your time.”

Tao Xiaodong brought him to the lounge.

There was no one around them now.

Tao Xiaodong said softly, “I didn’t expect you to come over, otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to it and we could be leaving now.”

He turned on the projector and pulled down the screen.

As he looked around for the remote, he asked, “What would you like to watch”

Tang Suoyan said anything would do.

Tao Xiaodong said, “Just sleep if you’re tired.”

“I’m not, don’t worry about me.

Just go.” Tang Suoyan settled down on the sofa.

Tao Xiaodong scoured the area for the remote but came up with nothing.

When he finally found it, he stuffed it into Tang Suoyan’s hand, and their fingers bumped.

Natural as could be, Tao Xiaodong held the other’s fingers in his, then said, “Why are they always so cold.”

Tang Suoyan hummed.

“It’s cold today.”

While Tao Xiaodong had taken off his gloves, he still hadn’t cleaned his hands after working.

He hurriedly let go after this one touch and said to him, “I’ll be going back, then.”

Tang Suoyan nodded.



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