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wildfire CH 68

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


In most cases, it was no more than having not thought down that tangent.

When a certain node abruptly locked into place, opening a small seam, after that, no further explanation would be necessary for all had become clear.

Tang Suoyan looked at Tao Xiaodong, and the various clues littered across this period of time flashed by, replaying in his mind’s eye.

His hands were propped near the edge of the table, which caused him to bend down slightly.

The tips of his fingers felt slightly chilly, and his head was lowered in silent contemplation.

It didn’t take long, perhaps just half a minute.

The next time that they made eye contact, Tao Xiaodong’s eyes fluttered shut.

Tang Suoyan placed his hand on the ophthalmoscope, unexpectedly directing a smile at Tao Xiaodong.

The smile didn’t look forced at all; it was as warm and tender as before, a doctor that was like a spring breeze to his patients.

“I didn’t know what I was expecting.” Tang Suoyan motioned at him to sit closer.

“It’s okay.

Come closer.”

Tao Xiaodong shifted his chair closer and took off his cap, silent as Tang Suoyan examined his eye through an ophthalmoscope.

The office was only equipped with a direct ophthalmoscope; they had to be in close proximity to each other.

“I remember that you had previously tested your genes,” Tang Suoyan said softly, “When I first met you and Xiao Nan, I asked Tian Yi and he said that you were fine.”

Tao Huainan inherited his autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RP) from his father.

It started early and rapidly went south, progressing to the end stage by the time he met Tang Suoyan.

The latter had just returned from abroad, where his team was researching gene therapy for RP.

He spoke to Tian Yi as soon as he learned of Tao Huainan’s condition and suggested that his brother also do a genetic test.

At that time, Tian Yi had said with full confidence that the older brother was fine.

That was the reason why Tang Suoyan had believed for years that Tao Xiaodong had done a genetic test to eliminate all doubt, and it had not occurred to him to consider that as a possibility.

Tao Xiaodong wanted to speak but his mouth hurt.

Although, at this point, he couldn’t tell if it really did hurt or if it was his brain telling him that it should hurt.

It hurt even to part his lips, so he didn’t.

The scabbing sore next to his mouth was especially conspicuous and ugly.

Look up.

To the left.

To the right.

All the way down.

Tang Suoyan softly instructed, examining his left eye.

After that, he got him to do the same with his right eye.

Tang Suoyan moved fluidly, calmly, neither his expression nor his gaze flustered, every instruction placid and kind.

“Or did I remember that wrongly” After examining both eyes, Tang Suoyan set down the ophthalmoscope and rested his hand on Tao Xiaodong’s shoulder, asking him.

Tao Xiaodong opened his mouth first then frowned.

The pain from the sore was frustrating.

His voice dreadfully hoarse, he said, “I didn’t do it, Yan ge.”

He unconsciously reached up to touch the corner of his mouth, but Tang Suoyan stopped his hand from touching it.

“You didn’t get tested, did you”

Tao Xiaodong mumbled “yeah.”

Tao Xiaodong didn’t consider testing his genes back when he was younger, simplistic as he was in his thinking, bolstered by the hubris and stupidity of youth.

After all, it wasn’t treatable even if he found he was predisposed to it, so knowing earlier wouldn’t be of any use to him.

Not knowing, on the contrary, allowed him to be free of worries instead of actively seeking out something to agonise over.

Eventually, with the passing of time, he began treating it as though he had really been tested, never thinking that it would happen to him, even forgetting the potential risk.

“Let’s do the test, then,” Tang Suoyan said to him.

Tao Xiaodong looked up, the expression in his eyes heart-wrenching.

Tang Suoyan petted his head, and Tao Xiaodong forced himself to speak, “I have already confirmed it… Yan ge.”

“Where did you do the examination” Tang Suoyan asked him.

Tao Xiaodong said the name of a city, the one he went to on the last trip, where Xiao Kai was.

Tang Suoyan said, “I’ll conduct it personally.”

There was only so much that could be seen through the direct ophthalmoscope.

As outpatient services had closed for the day, they were unable to check anything else, hence went home.

It wasn’t a condition that required immediate attention; a day or two wouldn’t make a difference.

Tang Suoyan told Tao Xiaodong to come to the hospital tomorrow at noon.

That evening, Tang Suoyan helped him apply medicine to the corner of his mouth, smiling to himself.

“Why do you keep having to apply medicine these days.”

The ends of Tao Xiaodong’s lips pulled up in a feeble attempt to mimic the smile.

“How did you find out” Tang Suoyan asked.

“The day that the power went out…” Tao Xiaodong wanted to touch the corner of his mouth again but Tang Suoyan stopped him.

Tao Xiaodong dropped his hand and carried on, “I couldn’t see anything at all.”

“Absolutely nothing”

Tao Xiaodong replied affirmatively.

“I was going to the bathroom when I hit the wall scone.

It was then that I realised.”

He rarely turned off the lights when doing anything, and didn’t think of much else when turning off the lights before bed.

It was the usual routine for him, he was used to that.

In actuality, as long as there was a window, even if the lights were off, most people would still be able to see silhouettes in the darkness, at a minimum.

However, it smarted hard when Tao Xiaodong clipped a spot near the tail of his eye, dizzying him instantly.

It took him a long while to recover, and then when he wanted to walk, he suddenly found that he couldn’t find his bearings.

In his field of vision, all around him was swallowed by darkness.

He reached out and felt around; it didn’t make sense that he couldn’t even make out the white walls.

Xiao Kai had booked a suite for him.

After that collision, Tao Xiaodong stumbled many more times.

He couldn’t find his way around at all; he could get a sense of the direction by following the wall, but once his hand left the wall and took a few steps he wasn’t able to tell where he was.

—Using his hand to feel the way like this made the image of Tao Huainan pop into his mind.

The wall, the chair, the corner of the dining table, the coffee table.

The more he hit, the more panicked he got.

He started to wrangle with himself in the dark.

Those ten minutes that the power was out were as long as a night terror that he couldn’t wake up from.

“You started having suspicions since then, but kept it from me the entire time, is that right” asked Tang Suoyan.

Tao Xiaodong averted his gaze and, after a long pause, hummed in affirmation.

“You really did that.” Tang Suoyan chuckled, and the cotton swab pressing on the corner of his mouth elicited a pained inhale from Tao Xiaodong.

Although Tang Suoyan was all tender warmth today, on this night, he still slept in the guest room.

He didn’t go back over.

It was yet another night that Tao Xiaodong spent wide awake.

Strangely, saying it aloud relieved some of his nerves.

He stopped thinking about his eyes and his future—as though a hole was suddenly punctured in all those emotions brimming in him before, discharging slightly.

But even then, he wasn’t truly at ease yet.

All that he could focus on at the forefront of his mind now was Tang Suoyan.

Yesterday, Tang Suoyan’s “you make me sad” impelled Tao Xiaodong to take a stride so wide that there was no turning back.

Tang Suoyan might lose the peace in his days in the future.

Humans were innately greedy and selfish, desperate to hold onto love and desperate to hold onto the people they loved.

Despite see-sawing back and forth, he still couldn’t bear to let go in the end, audaciously enmeshing himself in what could have been a glorious future for his significant other.

Tang Suoyan personally took him around checking every item, dilating his eyes and examining his fundus, also testing his night vision, over the lunch break.

He had also had his blood drawn in the morning when Tang Suoyan reported for work.

His DNA sample had been submitted for testing, but the results would take some time to come out.

It wasn’t a difficult condition to test for; Tao Xiaodong had gotten it checked before, and it was unlikely to have been a false alarm.

His retinitis pigmentosa was in the early stage now, the only symptom being his night blindness as a result of his declining night vision.

His peripheral vision and his visual acuity had not been affected yet.

However, this was a progressive condition that was bound to get worse, with a high rate of blindness and no effective clinical treatment to date.

Tao Xiaodong knew this condition all too well.

He had been introduced to it ever since Tao Huainan was four years of age.

Its one advantage was that it gave the sufferers time to slowly learn and gradually acclimatise to being blind.

“I don’t have to work overtime in the coming days.

Wait for me at the studio” Tang Suoyan asked him, “Shall I pick you up”

“Or I just can look for you instead,” Tao Xiaodong said, but he barely finished the sentence before having to draw in a sharp breath.

Tang Suoyan looked at the corner of his lips and asked, “Does it still hurt”

Nodding, Tao Xiaodong said that it did.

Tang Suoyan said, “Stop thinking about it, don’t treat it as anything.”

Tao Xiaodong merely hummed.

His mouth only seemed to hurt like hell when he spoke and not so much when he ate and drank.

Tang Suoyan tapped a spot next to the wound and told him, “Relax, Xiaodong.”

He was really too strung up.

Tao Xiaodong was originally an upbeat person with an optimistic outlook, but he grew visibly more downcast with the passing days.

At first, he was still able to chat and joke around, but he eventually started to become more withdrawn, losing weight rapidly, and now he barely spoke at all.

Tang Suoyan hugged him in the office, patting his back, saying softly, “It’s all right… don’t be afraid.”

Tao Xiaodong hummed, taking a deep breath filled with Tang Suoyan’s scent, croaking, “I’m not scared.”

After the eye dilation, Tang Suoyan didn’t allow him to return to the studio to work, browse his phone for images, or drive because he should be avoiding glaring light.

Therefore, Tao Xiaodong simply stayed put, sitting in the waiting area the entire afternoon.

His eyes felt some discomfort at the start, which eased significantly after a few hours, and had mostly alleviated by the time work ended.

Unaware that he hadn’t left, thinking that he had just arrived, Tang Suoyan inquired if he was feeling any discomfort in his eyes.

Tao Xiaodong said, “I don’t feel anything now.”

“Did you shield your eyes when outside” Tang Suoyan went on to ask.

Tao Xiaodong then said, “I didn’t go, I stayed in the waiting area.”

Tang Suoyan looked at him, and Tao Xiaodong offered a small smile.

“It was just a couple of hours until you got off work anyway.”

Before they walked out of the building, Tang Suoyan took his hand, startling Tao Xiaodong.

Tang Suoyan said, “Close your eyes.”

His eyes were sensitive to light after the application of dilation drops.

It was uncomfortable to look at light.

Tang Suoyan held his hand throughout, and Tao Xiaodong shut his eyes, letting himself be led.

The first thing he had to learn to get used to was having others guide him around.

From there on, Tang Suoyan restricted Tao Xiaodong’s eye time, such that he was not allowed to work more than five hours a day.

During this period, Tao Xiaodong had been working ten hours straight with no breaks in between, and that was the first thing that Tang Suoyan put a stop to.

Tao Xiaodong really wanted to listen to him.

He had gone along with all other dietary and activity suggestions, but he hesitated at this, no response forthcoming.

Tang Suoyan raised his brows and asked, “Am I overstepping”

It was a painful question to ask.

After their last argument, Tang Suoyan didn’t take it up with him on account of Tao Xiaodong’s eyes.

Tao Xiaodong was already in a mess.

But that did not mean that it was water under the bridge.

They were sleeping in separate quarters, with Tang Suoyan taking the guest bedroom still.

Tao Xiaodong shook his head.

He gently clutched Tang Suoyan’s wrist yet was unable to say anything.

He used to have a knack for coaxing Tang Suoyan, but it was gone now.

All he could do was silently clasp the other’s wrist, tugging it.

Between lovers, the words that wounded most, thereby should be avoided, was talk about breaking up, no matter the reason.

Tao Xiaodong pursed his lips, muttering, “I have to finish the designs for my bookings… Yan ge.”

“Take your time with them,” said Tang Suoyan, “there’s no hurry.”

“I…” Tao Xiaodong got distracted by the tug on the corner of his mouth again, frowning.

His tongue darted out towards the scab.

“Don’t lick it.

Stop thinking about it.” Tang Suoyan turned his hand over to hold his hand, pinching his palm.

“You can take your time to do your tattoos.”

“My dad lost his sight in slightly over a year. Xiao Nan lost his in eight months.” Tao Xiaodong cleared his throat, saying with his head lowered.

“Yan ge, I’m scared that… I don’t have time.”

“What are you worried about Everyone is different.

Why don’t you take a look at the cases who retain their vision for several decades” Tang Suoyan smiled.

“Don’t think about all that.

Just do what you have to do.”

There was no desolation that could be sensed from him, as if there was still hope to be had.

That was the way Tang Suoyan had always been.

Even if one was aware that their blindness was essentially an unchangeable fact, looking at him, listening to him, one would believe that it wasn’t too bad.

That the situation wasn’t that bleak.

Tao Xiaodong smiled and nodded.

In the evening, Tao Xiaodong didn’t immediately go to bed after showering but dawdled on the couch for a while.

Tang Suoyan said after coming out of the shower, “Go to sleep, I’ll turn off the lights for you.”

Tao Xiaodong walked over and stood quietly by his side.

Looking at him, Tang Suoyan asked, “What’s the matter”

Tao Xiaodong didn’t speak, hugging his waist from behind instead, tucking his chin over his shoulder.

Tang Suoyan turned his head over, and Tao Xiaodong silently kissed his neck.

“What’s the meaning of this” Tang Suoyan asked him.

Tao Xiaodong murmured, “Come back to bed…”

Tang Suoyan, “Not calling things off anymore”

Tao Xiaodong held him, not uttering a word, but holding him very tightly.

“I’m not talking about it because I’m putting the matter of your eye condition first; that takes priority above all else right now.” Tang Suoyan said to him, “But just because I’m not talking about it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry.”

Tao Xiaodong hummed, low and acquiescent.

“Go to sleep.” Tang Suoyan didn’t let him hold him.

He flicked on the room light and, standing at the doorway, said, “I’ll turn off the light when you’re in bed.”

He didn’t make to come in.

Tao Xiaodong could only lie down alone, and Tang Suoyan turned off the light for him, leaving the small night light in between the two bedrooms.


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