Hands that held a scalpel on the operating table for years had a surprising force behind them. Qi Jing couldnt break free from the seemingly light hold at all. His hand seemed to be stripped of all its strength as he lost his balance and fell onto the seat between them, following Shen Yans downward tugging motion.
The rain continued to fall.
An unfamiliar piano solo was playing on the taxis radio, a long and quiet tune perfect for listening along to the pattering of rain outside the taxi window.
The taxi driver seemed to be completely immersed in the music, humming softly to the beat with the rest of his focus completely on the steering wheel. Little Return Date, on the other hand, just minded its own business and happily licked its paws.
Qi Jings back was completely stiff. He wanted to sit up a little and move closer to the window seat. However, right now, he couldnt even sit up; not only were his knees totally weak, but even his toes also were all limp and he couldnt gather any strength to move them at all.
All of his senses seemed to be focused on his right hand.
It felt like it wasnt his hand that was being held, but his heart.
Because his heart tightened too quickly in that instant, it actually felt like someone gripped it tightly. As his heart pounded violently, thumping against his chest, each time louder than the last, it even caused his ears to start ringing a little.
He wasnt sure if his own hand was shaking, but the other partys hand seemed to be trembling a little. Four fingers wrapped around Qi Jings hand from the crook between his thumb and index finger, reaching into the centre of his palm, while that mans thumb rested against the knuckle of his pinkie. With the back of his hand closely stuck to the other partys palm—maybe it was because both their temperatures went up, their hands were even a little sweaty.
As time went on, they could even feel each others heartbeat.
His or Shen Yans—it was hard to tell whose was faster.
The prelude in the piano music had passed and the pace of the music started to quicken, just as the rain began to pour down outside the window.
Shen Yans hand remained unmoving for a long time, simply holding his like that.
At this moment, that mans thumb suddenly relaxed a little before holding onto his hand more firmly and he gently grazed his fingertips along the edge of Qi Jings joints as if he was carefully tracing the outline.
With every touch, Qi Jing felt his head spin as his throat throbbed.
“Shen Yan.” He couldnt help but call out that mans name.
He didnt know if he wanted to remind the other party or himself, or perhaps it was neither; he was just mumbling to himself in a daze.
However, that person seemed to understand and he suddenly said softly, “Band-aid.”
Qi Jing was stunned.
“The band-aid... got scratched off by the little fella.” Shen Yan uttered those words extremely slowly, calmly, and restrained.
Only then did Qi Jing realise that Shen Yans thumb had stopped on the band-aid on the back of his hand. He got that wound when Little Return Date scratched him while he was trying to bathe it.
The band-aid had been wet several times in the past two days and its surface had started to wrinkle. Then, just now, when he was playing with the cat, he accidentally got scratched by it, so of course, the corner was starting to come off. Even so, there was no need for Shen Yan to press it down with his entire hand, much less hold it there this whole time.
And here he thought his excuse was bad... to think Shen Yans excuse would be even worse.
However, he did not want to expose the other party.
Even though it was obviously raining outside the car, the air inside of the taxi was very dry, probably because of the heater.
When Qi Jing spoke, his throat was so dry that it hurt. “Umk2026; Thats where it scratched mek2026; two days ago.”
Shen Yan didnt say a word, his thumb remained fixedly pressed on the band-aid with no signs of moving at all.
Qi Jing did not prompt him nor speak any more.
He turned his head and silently stared at the streaks of rain on the window glass. The headlights of the cars on the road tinted the windows a warm colour. The colour resembled that of unripe plums—just like the taste in his heart, mostly sour before one could taste a hint of sweetness.
There was still some way to go before they arrived at their destination. In this small, yet warm car, it felt as if he was in a different world from the one with cold rain and strong winds outside. Just for a while, he could be a little greedy, he could pretend not to know, pretend not to understand. Let go of this so-called rationality and responsibility of grown men and go back to the innocence of a teenager.
Right here, right now, he couldnt even lie to himself that he was unhappy.
The source of this content is n/ov//el/bin[./]net'
He was basically on cloud nine.
The piano piece on the radio finally came to an end and the hosts voice came back on again, ready to read a letter from the next listener. This appeared to be a music-on-demand type of program.
“This listener said that a fellow listener from his college days is getting married and hes specially requesting a song on-demand to wish him well in advance. Heres what he wrote,Good brother, I heard youre finally officially leaving that single life so Im here to first congratulate you. I wish for you and your wife to love each other for a hundred years and live a long and happy life.”
The hosts tone was just as joyful and bright as the contents of the letter.
Qi Jing suddenly froze. His reflection in the car window was no better than the grey sky outside.
He too, once said similar words, similar blessings.
As his voice was particularly distinguishable and his words were well-articulatedy, at that time, he even agreed to emcee for the wedding. He smiled to a room full of guests as he said out each line.
His memory suddenly shook out all these details which messily crashed down on him just like a bucket of cold water.
Qi Jing shuddered and pulled out his hand with a jerk.
Then, a playful, lively love song with lyrics that told a “Happy Ending” story began to blast out of the car speakers. The song was upbeat with a fast tempo, but even then, it couldnt keep up with the speed at which he was blinking his eyes in panic.
“Sorry.” Even after he stopped blinking so fast, he still didnt have the courage to look at the person beside him.
Shen Yan did not ask him what he meant by that, but Qi Jing knew he understood and even put all the blame on himself, “I might have... been a little strange just now.”
The shadows of the moving windscreen wipers reflected in his eyes. The rhythmic, monotonous sound accompanied by the joyous singing from the speakers strongly contrasted with the dead silence between them.
When Qi Jing was starting to lose track of how long this deafening silence had gone on for, it was Shen Yan who spoke again.
“That wound... should be fine already, so you can take the band-aid off.” He sounded a lot calmer than Qi Jing had imagined; it was just that it felt like it took a lot out of him to voice it out.
“Its ok.” Qi Jing gently shook his head. “If you remove it, youll see the scars.”
Even if the scars beneath it had healed, the scars would definitely still be there. And the scars must be ugly to look at.
If possible, hed rather not show something like that to Shen Yan right from the start. He wanted to leave Shen Yan with the best, most beautiful impression and not a scar.
For the remainder of the journey, the two men reverted back to the silence they had when they first got into the car.
It was already past 9 AM when they arrived at the hospital. On Saturdays, the clinic was only open until 2 PM and the number of people who used the weekend to bring their pets to the hospital was high. Hence, those that needed to do multiple tests had to rush down first thing in the morning.
Before getting out of the car, Shen Yan, who had said nothing since the end of their conversation, finally said three words, “Wait a minute.”
Just like when they boarded the car earlier, Shen Yan picked up Little Return Date in his arms before going over to Qi Jings side to open his door for him, holding the umbrella for the latter to shield him from the rain. The drop-off point was only a dozen metres away from the hospital entrance so there was really no need for this at all, but his silence made Qi Jing feel ill at ease, so he did not refuse.
When the head nurse, Ms. Pang, saw Shen Yan who was supposed to be on leave today, her reading glasses slid slightly down her nose. “Dr. Shen What are you doing here Arent you—”
Before she could finish her sentence, she was taken aback by the sight of Qi Jing with a slightly wry smile on his face and his arm in a cast, standing behind Shen Yan.
This time, her glasses almost slipped right off.
Its been a while since they last met and Qi Jing looked to have lost quite a lot of weight—he had none of the vibrancy from when they first met. His complexion was poor, looking a tad haggard even, not to mention the arm in a cast; anyone could tell with one look that something had happened to him. Ms. Pang immediately grabbed him to inquire about his condition, nagging him to find out what happened exactly.
While chatting with her, Qi Jing inadvertently caught sight of Shen Yan putting on a white coat from the corner of his eyes, ready to examine Little Return Date who had been placed in a tray. He couldnt keep his eyes off the man, staring blankly at him buttoning up his shirt, picking up his medical folder, observing, and recording.
However, as blood needed to be drawn for Little Return Date, that figure soon disappeared out the door and out of his field of vision. Noticing that he was a bit distracted, Ms. Pang followed his line of sight.
When she realised that he was looking at Shen Yan, she said cheerfully, “Oh Reporter Comrade, you havent been here since the last report so I thought I wouldnt see you again. To think youve become friends with Dr. Shen; you guys seem quite close, too.”
Qi Jing was slightly stunned, he barely managed a smile as he replied, “Actually... we arent really very close.”
But I guess we could be considered friends.
Friends should be okay, right
“However, I respect him very much.” Qi Jing found the most appropriate and honest description. Whether it was the voice actor, Geese Fly North, or the meticulous surgeon in front of the operating table, Shen Yan, they were both a presence he admired.
As Ms. Pang was still in the middle of her work, their conversation didnt last more than ten minutes before she was called by a younger nurse to help in another ward. Qi Jing sat alone in the empty office, staring at the white wall in a daze.
The pet hospital was equipped with a heating system to prevent the animals from catching the cold in the fall and winter months so the temperature was just right and there was basically no need to wear a coat. However, he ultimately did not take off Shen Yans coat. He even tugged at it multiple times with his right hand, hiding himself in it, hoping he could temporarily trick himself with the smell of the owner on the coat.
Unfortunately, the warmth was already gone.
The drive here was nearly an hour long and it was only natural that the residual body heat would completely dissipate. Just as he was lost in his thoughts, the office door suddenly opened. He thought it was Ms. Pang who came back to get something, but when he looked up, he unexpectedly met those familiar eyes.
Qi Jing immediately straightened up and asked, “The test results are out”
Shen Yan shook his head lightly as he answered, “Not yet. I just took its temperature and it is indeed running a high fever. The blood and stool tests will take some time and the microbial culture will take even more time.”
So Shen Yan didnt come back to tell him about Little Return Dates condition
While Qi Jing was still at a loss, Shen Yan took out a brand new band-aid. He helped Qi Jing remove the packaging and sticker and gently handed it over. “I came back to give you this. Regardless of the scar, the band-aid should still at least be changed. I wont be watching so put it on yourself.”
Qi Jing suddenly felt his own gaze quiver as he slowly reached out to take the thing in Shen Yans hand.
The exposed plaster that stuck firmly onto his fingertip was like his current feelings, clinging onto that person, unable to let go. “Thank you.”
“Youre welcome,” Shen Yan said with a nod. He seemed to deliberately want to avoid his gaze lingering on Qi Jing for too long so he subtly shifted his gaze and turned away to go check on Little Return Date.
After Shen Yan left, Qi Jing told himself he needed to buck up. Then, he whipped out his phone and contacted the TV station.
“Hello, Director Its me.”
“Oh, its Qi Jing, hows your recovery going” The director had been quite done recently with the News Channel missing this capable subordinate. He would go on and on about it to whoever he met.
“Im thinking about work even when Im resting at home—do you think Im resting well” Qi Jing joked deliberately.
“Did you come up with another proposal” Having worked together for many years, the director did have a pretty good understanding of Qi Jing.
“Mhm, I actually do have a proposal. Its somewhat related to the cat abuse report I wrote about last time... Anyway, I wanted to draft it out for you first, then send it to you tonight to see if its feasible.”
Although what happened to Little Return Date was his personal experience, he was sure that similar issues did more or less exist in other pet hospitals or clinics.
Pet medical institutions currently lacked regulation and the entire market was pretty messy. The problems Shen Yan pointed out today made his blood curdle and he wanted to use his connections in the media industry to gather more information about it. If all went well, he might be able to start another special report and go visiting the local pet hospitals undercover.
The truth was, he had been looking forward to the day when he could plan and host his own show since he entered the journalist profession.
One didnt have to be a reporter for the TV station for life, there were also opportunities for promotion, but it mainly depended on the direction of development and the ability of each person. Some choose to be in management, while others preferred to be TV program editors. For those with great voices and were strong in explaining things like him, they had a high potential to become show hosts in the future.
It was precisely because of his contact with Shen Yan and his picking up Little Return Date that such thoughts recently became stronger again.
In the isolation ward, Qi Jing saw Little Return Date who had finished having its blood drawn. This time, it clearly did not face the same coercion as yesterday. The blood draw seemed to go smoothly and the site of injection was also properly cleaned and didnt have any strange odours.
Shen Yan prepared the cage with a sterilised cotton sheet and a small blanket for the little guy. It was very soft and comfortable and the little fella quickly forgot all about its previous blanket. It quickly fell in love with its temporary shelter and happily rolled around inside.
Unlike what the vet from the other clinic had said—that the white blood cell count was low—the test results showed that it was normal. Other than fever, Little Return Date did not show any other special symptoms so it was probably a common cold. The nurse had already given it the necessary jabs, but to be on the safe side, Shen Yan insisted on doing a full pathology test. He was worried that Little Return Date might have contracted other germs during his stay at that clinic.
Of course, the little fella was completely oblivious to its condition; all it cared about was eating and sleeping.
Shen Yan mixed up milk from some milk powder for kittens coupled with crushed cat food to supplement its body with the necessary nutrients. The kitten now saw Shen Yan as its second food dispenser and a comfortable warm bed. It would start rubbing itself against Shen Yan the moment it saw him.
Seeing that it was recovering well, Qi Jing felt like a weight had finally been lifted off his shoulders.
“Little Return Date is still a kitten and it was probably weaned not too long ago so it can still drink a little milk as the lactase is not completely gone. However, it cant drink anymore in the future, it cant digest it.”
When Shen Yan was writing the medical report, following the standard operating procedure, he also asked Qi Jing what he had been feeding the cat for the past few days. Only then did Qi Jing find out what to feed it and what not to feed it.
“As I thought, I really cant take care of a cat.” He gazed at Little Return Dates soundly sleeping figure in the cage and said with a wry smile, “I cant even feed myself properly, often going hungry, let alone a cat.”
At that moment, Shen Yans pen that was still writing on the paper stopped short.
The hands on the wall clock had already slowly moved to the number right at the top; it was lunch break for the medical staff at the hospital and they were all going to lunch one after another.
He stared fixedly at the section titled “Diet History” on the medical record. He lowered his eyes, hesitant to speak. Then—
“Qi Jing,” he asked softly, “would you like to... come to my house for lunch”
A/N: I feel like Dr. Shen is going to perish in the silence if he doesnt explode in it... but then again, he really isnt the type to explode. What to do _(:з」∠)_
whiteflare: The subtext in the taxi... the undercurrent of meaning in Shen Yans every word... I love this man so much.