Tang not expressing any concern for him, Tao Xiaodong began to tail behind him, whining that it hurt.
“Didn’t you not realise you had bruises And said that it didn’t hurt” Tang Suoyan slowly washed his hands.
“It started to hurt after you pressed it.” And then he quickly added, “It really hurts now.”
Tang Suoyan washed his hands, spotting the ghastly bruise near Tao Xiaodong’s eyes in the reflection of the mirror.
“Even Xiao Nan doesn’t get as beat up as you.”
“Yeah,” Tao Xiaodong went, “he knows to watch out, he’s super careful where he goes.”
Tang Suoyan hadn’t smiled since seeing the injuries on his body.
His expression was also walled off when talking to Tao Xiaodong, but once the lights were off, he still held him very tightly, hand gently cradling his stomach.
His actions caused Tao Xiaodong to feel slightly drowsy.
All of a sudden, Tang Suoyan opened his mouth to ask, “Does your bone hurt”
“Huh” Tao Xiaodong didn’t process the question.
“Your tailbone.” Tang Suoyan’s hand shifted behind him, softly touching the area.
“Does it hurt”
“It doesn’t,” said Tao Xiaodong.
Tao Xiaodong laughed.
“Are you afraid it’d be like my finger Only acting up after some time had passed”
“I’m afraid that you wouldn’t tell me even if it hurts.” Tang Suoyan’s hand circled back to his stomach.
He said softly, “Go to sleep.”
Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress
– ❀ –
Please do not repost or retranslate.
When Tao Xiaodong went into the studio on Monday, his face gave everyone a shock.
Dyer sent Xiao Kai a voice message: “You mother**er”
Xiao Kai responded immediately: “What’s your problem”
Dyer: “What did you do to Dong ge‘s face”
Overhearing him, Tao Xiaodong said, “Dong ge got himself hit.
Don’t go bat** on people again.”
No matter from which angle, his face still looked like he’d gotten into a scuffle with someone.
Dyer cussed Xiao Kai out on WeChat, although he knew that there was no way the latter was the culprit, merely seeking an outlet.
Tao Xiaodong knocked the back side of Dyer’s head.
“Get to work.”
If it was anyone else who had gotten their face so banged up, they might have stayed at home for the next while to avoid questions and the embarrassment.
As for Tao Xiaodong, however, he didn’t give a **.
He would get restless at home, plus he didn’t care anyway.
Tian Yi and Xia Yuan rolled over laughing when they saw his face.
Tao Xiaodong carried one of Tian Yi’s sons, making faces at him, ignoring his two friends.
The babies had filled out a little since the day they were born, but they weren’t as fair as before.
They was tiny; supporting the boy’s neck, Tao Xiaodong was a bit afraid to move.
He was still in university back when Tao Huainan was born.
By the time he went back, Tao Huainan was already a few months old and had put on some body mass.
This was the first time that Tao Xiaodong was holding such a tiny babe, no bigger than a little lump, soft under his palms.
These days, when he finished his work, he would go over to see the kids.
When evening came, he would return home with Tang Suoyan.
The person leading the medical mission trip this year ended up being Consultant Chen.
Tang Suoyan wasn’t going; eye conditions had a tendency of flaring up in the spring, so he wasn’t able to make the time.
“They asked me today if you are going and I said you aren’t,” Tang Suoyan said in the car.
Tao Xiaodong went “un” and left it at that.
It had just rained yesterday and earlier today; the roads were slippery.
Tang Suoyan rubbed his wrist.
Catching that action, Tao Xiaodong frowned.
“How is your hand”
“It’s manageable,” Tang Suoyan fiddled with the air con.
“Just aching a little.”
“I’ll take care of it for you when we get back tonight,” said Tao Xiaodong.
He’d always kept an eye on Tang Suoyan’s hand, periodically applying medication and warming it up for him.
It was hard to determine if it was due to the meticulous care, but the pain this year was much more manageable than it used to be.
A hot towel was put into a waterproof plastic bag and gently placed on Tang Suoyan’s hand.
The high temperature of the hot towel turned Tao Xiaodong’s hands slightly red.
In fact, one could also use sea salt heating pads and other physical therapy bands, but they couldn’t compare to the pain relief that hot towels provided.
The towel was wrapped around the wrist, warming the whole arm, and heat emanating from his palm.
Tao Xiaodong had been travelling a lot lately, thus there was little opportunity to tend to his hand for him.
Rainy days or fatigue would give him grief, otherwise.
“Do it yourself when I’m not at home,” said Tao Xiaodong.
Tang Suoyan rejected the idea, “I won’t.”
His rejection was swift, sparking laughter from Tao Xiaodong.
“Just like how I’m often not home these days.
If you don’t want to rub it yourself, you can also just warm it up and paste the patch, or else your hand will get uncomfortable.”
Tang Suoyan still shook his head.
“Then don’t stay out for too long.”
Based on Tao Xiaodong’s personality and the dynamics of their relationship, at this time, he should readily answer “okay, you got it”.
But Tao Xiaodong merely smiled this time without bantering back.
Tang Suoyan was resting his hand on his leg, while Tao Xiaodong sat on a small leather ottoman in front of him, and the two of them chatted while warming his hand.
Tang Suoyan told him about a patient he saw in the day, a rather amusing elderly man who brought a woven bag of apples and egg wraps and insisted that he take them.
“So did you” Tao Xiaodong asked with a smile.
“We did, he had travelled from afar to give us this small gift, it’d be unappreciative if we didn’t.” The elderly man had been turned away by his provincial hospital but was taken in by San Hospital.
Although there were no full recovery options as damage to the optic nerve couldn’t be reversed, he was still able to retain a 20/50 visual acuity.
The elderly man was overjoyed by this result.
Knowing that they wouldn’t accept cash envelopes, he packed the woven bag with tokens of his family’s gratitude.
“What did you do with them, then” Tao Xiaodong asked.
“Why didn’t I see you bring back any”
“I did take some for you, but I left them in the car.” Tang Suoyan only remembered it at this point, smiling as he said, “The apples are especially sweet.
I saved two for you; the rest were distributed among the department.”
“It isn’t against the rules to take the apples, is it” Tao Xiaodong held Tang Suoyan’s hand, rubbing his palm.
“It’s not allowed per se, but there’s no need to always be a stickler to the rules.” Tang Suoyan’s memory of the bag of apples and egg wraps from the morning was perfused with a simple warmth.
Given that their daily chats were often peppered with similar anecdotes, Tao Xiaodong had a general impression of the doctors and the nurses in Tang Suoyan’s department that were mentioned more often.
He could pretty much recognise who was who, and didn’t require further description of who that was once provided with a name.
After heating his hand with the towel, Tao Xiaodong put moderate pressure on a few acupuncture points.
The scar on Tang Suoyan’s arm wasn’t dark-coloured; with time, it would gradually fade into a colour close to his skin tone.
Tao Xiaodong abruptly reached out to stroke a finger over the uneven skin, then went on to massage the wrist.
Both of them were silent now, leaving only companionable silence in the room.
The seconds on the electronic clock ticked by, never ceasing its endless march.
Finally, Tao Xiaodong scritched the tiny mole on Tang Suoyan’s wrist, then stood up and said, “I’ll get the apples from downstairs.”
Tao Xiaodong had been reticent lately.
Even if he appeared chipper most of the time, he wasn’t as talkative as he usually was around Tang Suoyan.
He didn’t really joke around in the studio much anymore, getting to work as soon as he came in, wearing his mask and slogging the day away.
Da Huang pulled over a chair and sat next to him without probing.
After a while, seeing that Tao Xiaodong didn’t seem keen on talking, he walked away with his tea.
Xia Yuan came to fetch him from the parlour for a dinner that Tian Yi organised.
Tian Yi and his wife had received many red packets when the babies were born.
The thank you dinner was put on hold with how hectic it had been since then, but they finally found time to organise it now.
There were others invited; if it were just for the two of them, it would have been written off entirely.
The dinner was mainly for their colleagues.
Tang Suoyan was unable to make it today; Professor Xu had invited him over for dinner tonight with several other colleagues from their department.
When Xia Yuan heard about that, he laughed and said, “That’ll save Lao Tian some worry.”
“What about” asked Tao Xiaodong.
“Tong Ning also visited the babes and brought a set of gold locks.
It would be impolite not to invite him, but it’s even weirder to invite them both.” Xia Yuan laughed tactlessly.
“It’s much simpler now that Dr.
Tang isn’t able to make it.”
Tong Ning was in the same circle of friends as Tian Yi and Xia Yuan, graduating from the same medical school.
They were pretty well acquainted.
Tao Xiaodong hummed, then said, “Just invite him.”
Actually, Tao Xiaodong had encountered Tong Ning twice more last year during other social events.
Upon running into each other, they nodded in greeting and that was it.
Tong Ning didn’t continue to seek Tang Suoyan out after that incident, withdrawing from Tang Suoyan’s life in this manner.
It wasn’t dignified, so to speak.
As the job that Tao Xiaodong had on hand today was slightly time consuming, he and Xia Yuan were among the last to reach.
Almost everyone was in attendance and only the seats near the door remained.
“The godfather arrives unfashionably late,” someone admonished Xiaodong.
Tao Xiaodong asked, grinning, “Have you all seen my sons”
“Shameless, what do you mean your sons.”
“Song Zhu already said it, I can whisk them away any time I want.” Tao Xiaodong pulled a chair and sat down.
“Aren’t my sons the prettiest little things”
“Tian Yi, how are you tolerating this” A person asked from the side, “He’s taking so many liberties!”
Tian Yi shot Tao Xiaodong a grin and a look.
Tong Ning was the last to arrive.
When he came in, he apologised for his tardiness with a smile, citing a traffic jam.
The only available seat was next to Tao Xiaodong.
Xia Yuan and Tian Yi made eye contact, but before Xia Yuan could say anything, Tong Ning took a seat.
In the adult world, when socialising, people didn’t often plainly put their emotions on display.
Tao Xiaodong tipped his head and greeted “Dr.
Tong Ning returned a “Xiaodong.”
There actually wasn’t any quarrel to speak of between the two of them.
They had regarded each other favourably since they first met, both believing the other to be a nice guy.
While subsequent developments put them in an awkward spot, they hadn’t had any direct altercations that arose due to beef with the other.
Therefore, when they encountered each other, they could still remain civil and exchange pleasantries.
Given their close positions at the table and the length of the meal, it was impossible not to chat at all.
It was fair game to catch up on each other’s lives.
Tong Ning took a sip of water, then asked, “How is Yan ge doing”
“Hush,” Tao Xiaodong said with his eyes at half mast, “don’t talk about him.”
Tong Ning smiled thinly at him.
“Because I don’t like it.
Because that’s my Yan ge.” The corners of Tao Xiaodong’s lips quirked up, placing deliberate stress on the ‘my’ like a little child.
Tong Ning’s smile widened.
He took another sip of water.
“If we don’t talk about him, you’re Dr.
Tong and it’s no issue for us to speak.” Tao Xiaodong took a prawn and then peeled and ate it, slowly chewing and swallowing.
Tong Ning asked, “And if we do talk about him”
Tao Xiaodong pointed over to his side, saying apathetically in a low voice, “If we do, you’re Tong Ning and I have nothing good to say to you.
I’ve got a sharp tongue.”
There was still mirth in Tong Ning’s eyes.
He inclined his head towards him, also keeping his voice low.
“You haven’t changed at all.
You are still really protective of him.”
Tao Xiaodong hummed, not denying that.
After pouring him a glass of water, Tong Ning turned his head to talk to other people.
Tao Xiaodong continued to eat his food in silence.
A while later, Tong Ning called his name.
“Yeah” Tao Xiaodong prompted.
“I have a question for you.”
Tao Xiaodong, “Ask away.”
Tong Ning asked him, “It really doesn’t bother you I used to be very curious.
You always seemed very open-minded, not caring about me or those thirteen years that he was in another relationship.”
Tao Xiaodong looked up at him.
Tong Ning went on.
“You are very accepting.
Do you really not mind”
“I really don’t,” Tao Xiaodong shook his head, “there’s nothing much to mind.”
“Such as you, or the thirteen years that you just mentioned.” Tao Xiaodong used his hand to draw a circle on the table.
“It sounds scary, but it’s really nothing much.
Within a year, I managed to wipe all traces of your time together from every corner of his heart.”
Smiling, Tong Ning raised his eyebrows at him.
I’m not trying to posture in front of you.” Tao Xiaodong made a wiping motion, saying with a smile on his lips, “You can’t even get close to a corner now, it’s all me in there.”