Cheng Xi instinctively clutched her face. At the very least, there wasn’t any saliva or anything of the sort on her cheek, and the kiss didn’t hurt either. However, this sort of behavior was…… Lu Chenzhou’s face was emotionless and it didn’t feel like he was trying to take advantage of her, so she didn’t want to make things too complicated. All she did was jokingly say, “It seems like you really dislike my half-dimple, so much that you even want to bite it off. Should I wear a mask next time then?”
Lu Chenzhou was still in his half-crouched posture, looking at her blankly.
Did he dislike it? Actually, no. Perhaps he had gotten used to it now, but her half-dimple no longer seemed so displeasing to his eyes.
“There’s no need for that.”
Cheng Xi made an ‘Oh’ sound. “Then I’m sorry to have made you feel wronged.”
Just as she was planning to return to her seat, Lu Chenzhou suddenly said, “I originally intended to kiss you.” He sat upright again, and crossed his hands in front of his chest as he seriously explained, “Didn’t you say that I shouldn’t need to ask to kiss my girlfriend, and that I could kiss her whenever I wanted to?”
So, he still hadn’t forgotten about that? That wasn’t what I meant, though, was it…… “Actually, you can’t just kiss whenever. You also have to consider the surroundings and general atmosphere.” Having been reminded of Lu Chenzhou’s astonishing ability to misinterpret words and actions, she felt that she needed to explain things even more explicitly, and then she decisively changed the topic. “You still haven’t answered me. What did you have to give that Mr. Liu to coerce him into telling the truth?”
Lu Chenzhou responded lazily, his answer simple and rough. “Money.”
Lu Chenzhou looked at her intently. “Are you planning on reimbursing me?” He pulled out a receipt from his bag heartily, put it in front of her, and then told her, rather kindly, “Old Chen’s not too bad. He didn’t end up giving away too much money.”
Cheng Xi silently counted the zeroes in that receipt, quickly calculated the overall sum, and then felt…… a complicated mix of emotions.
She really shouldn’t have agreed to let him help. Really. Mr. Liu at least had some sense of moral decency; if she had stuck to him stubbornly, she definitely would have eventually gotten him to open his mouth.
But now, she could only try to reimburse Lu Chenzhou for the money. Cheng Xi sighed and then asked, “Can I return it in installments?”
“Up to you.” After a while, he asked, “How many installments are you thinking of?”
“Two… twenty years?” She was quite afraid of saying one or two years, because the amount that Lu Chenzhou had paid was really quite significant. At her current income level, she would have to keep a tight budget and completely refrain from eating or drinking out if she wanted to pay it all off in two years.
There weren’t many rich people out there, and there was a big gap between them and regular people.
Lu Chenzhou laughed. He refrained from saying anything, but he didn’t take the receipt back either.
Cheng Xi’s face blushed red, but she didn’t have the courage to simply brush this bill off. She silently put the receipt away, and then automatically started calculating in her head how much she would have to pay him monthly……
…...honestly, a doctor living the way she was planning on living was probably unprecedented throughout history.
Regardless of her disapproval for Lu Chenzhou’s problem-solving strategy, Cheng Xi was still very grateful for his help.
Because of this, she decided to invite him to lunch. But just halfway through the meal, the hospital called her again, saying that Chen Jiaman’s guardian had arrived and was requesting that she return.
Chen Jiaman’s guardian was evidently her father, who had finally come back.
After Cheng Xi received the news, she put down her chopsticks. “I’m sorry. Something’s come up at the hospital, so I have to leave now.”
Before she could get up, however, Lu Chenzhou grabbed her hand. “Finish eating first.” His expression was very serious.
“But I have to go…”
Lu Chenzhou had already put her chopsticks back into her hand. After that, he continued holding her down with one hand while using the other to slowly continue eating.
After looking at his expression, Cheng Xi realized that he probably wouldn’t let her go until she finished eating.
“I hate seeing things left unfinished halfway.”
Cheng Xi disdainfully replied in her head, Actually, this is just your obsessive-compulsive disorder speaking, isn’t it!
But she didn’t insist on leaving. Instead, she picked up her chopsticks, matched his rhythm, and finished the meal.
After finishing the meal, Cheng Xi returned to the hospital. Lu Chenzhou didn’t intend on sending her over, and Cheng Xi had no intention of letting him do so either, but when she saw him leave so bluntly, she couldn’t help but call him back. “Mr. Lu,” she said, “I’m in a bit of a hurry. If you don’t mind, could you send me over to the hospital?”
When Lu Chenzhou heard her words, he looked at his watch and nodded. Cheng Xi looked at him unflinchingly. Despite his lack of facial expressions, a wisp of annoyance flashed through his eyes.
He didn’t want to speak on the way to the hospital, so she didn’t open her mouth either. Instead, she ran through her head about what she would do upon meeting Chen Jiaman’s father.
If she could, she very much wanted to help Chen Jiaman get justice for what was done to her, and the best person to help her do this was undoubtedly her father.
Lu Chenzhou sent Cheng Xi to the hospital personally and even went upstairs with her. Cheng Xi didn’t refuse.
Of course, he wouldn’t have let her refuse.
Upon seeing Chen Jiaman’s father, Cheng Xi felt a sense of dissociation. In her mind, Chen Jiaman’s father had been someone poor and dejected, and because he liked to gamble, perhaps even somewhat sloppy or wretched.
While the man standing in front of Cheng Xi might have been a bit poor, he didn’t look sloppy at all, and certainly not wretched. He was dressed in a light blue windbreaker and dark blue jeans. Despite his age showing through his clothes, they were clean and not the least bit unkempt.
If she hadn’t known better, she would have said that he looked more like a scholar than a fisherman who sailed far out into the ocean.
Cheng Xi was so shocked that she was momentarily at a loss for words. Chen Jiaman’s father spoke up first, asking, “Are you Dr. Cheng?”
Even his voice was quite warm, which helped Cheng Xi recover quickly. “Are you Chen Jiaman’s father?”
“Yes.” He nodded, looking somewhat nervous. “I heard the police say that you wanted to see me.”
The way he spoke made it seem like he hadn’t been planning on meeting her if the police hadn’t mentioned it. Cheng Xi frowned. “Have you seen your daughter yet?”
He nodded, but then shortly started shaking his head. Seeing this, Cheng Xi quickly called a nurse over to bring him to Chen Jiaman’s ward. She herself returned to her office, both to change into her white coat and to observe the camera footage for the ward. Inside the ward, Chen Jiaman had already fallen asleep. Her orderly but unusual posture clearly sparked some amount of sadness within her father; he’d turned away almost as soon as he saw her.
On the screen, Chen Jiaman’s father cut a sorry figure. Regret, sadness, self-incrimination, and vexation could all be seen flickering through his face.
Cheng Xi’s heart dropped as she saw him. Lu Chenzhou had been standing by her side ever since he had entered, and at this moment he retracted his gaze. “He knew about it.”
Chen Jiaman’s father’s behavior clearly indicated that he must have known about everything that his daughter had been going through.
Cheng Xi nodded as she finished with the last button on her coat. Before leaving, she asked Lu Chenzhou, “I’d like to speak with him. Do you want to come?”
Actually, this was a hidden reminder that he shouldn’t go over with her. She didn’t know if Lu Chenzhou understood her intentions, but he glanced at her and didn’t move.
Cheng Xi pushed the door open and went out. By the time she had retrieved Chen Jiaman’s medical records, her father had already returned.
She noticed that his expression had returned to its usual calm, and only his slightly trembling fingers revealed his unease.
She poured him a glass of water. He didn’t drink it, merely holding it in his hands, his gaze vacant.
Cheng Xi asked, “Do you want to go inside and speak with her?”
It seemed to take him a long moment to understand what she was saying, and he seemingly became shocked in slow motion. “She…… can recognize me?”
“You seem to know that she doesn’t recognize anyone.” Cheng Xi looked at him again. “I heard that you left home three months ago. Doesn’t that mean that the patient was exhibiting similar symptoms at least before then, or even earlier?”
“About how long ago?”
Chen Jiaman’s father somewhat arduously forced out his words. “About a year ago, but at that time, she only had occasional moment where she couldn’t recognize people and mumbled nonsense.”
“Did she have any other symptoms?”
He shook his head.
“Then when did it start becoming more serious?”
“About half a year ago. When I returned home, I realized that things couldn’t go on the way they were with her, and wanted her to go learn more.”
Cheng Xi stopped taking notes and raised her head. “You forced her back to school?”
“......Yes.” As Chen Jiaman’s father spoke, he started shaking and brought out a pack of cigarettes, but he couldn’t seem to light one with his trembling hands and finally gave up, clutching his head. “At that time, none of us knew how sick she really was. We once dragged her out of her room, kicking and screaming, making a huge fuss. Then I got angry and hit her. She ran out, and it took us a whole day before we found her in a half-forgotten graveyard.”
As he recounted this event, he shivered. Clearly, that experience had left him semi-traumatized.
Cheng Xi asked, “What happened afterwards?”
“After that, she would head there daily, right after dark, and she was always saying things that scared others. Slowly, she started being unable to recognize people as well.”
“You never took her to see a doctor?”
“My mother said that she wasn’t ill, only possessed, and that it would be fine once we burned some incense and prayed to the gods. And since she was still young, we were afraid that any news of her mental illness would be bad for her…”
Cheng Xi couldn’t keep listening to this. “Afraid that it would be bad for her, or afraid that it would look bad on you?” When Chen Jiaman’s father lowered his head without answering, she changed the topic, tired of this conversation. “I want to investigate the reasons behind her illness so that I can come up with a treatment plan for her. As far as I know, she only started exhibiting those symptoms after she quit school. Do you know why she quit school? Her elementary school grades weren’t bad, so why would she quit right after entering middle school?”
Chen Jiaman’s father spoke softly. “She…. she didn’t listen…”
He lowered his head.
Cheng Xi brought out her phone. “I have a short video here…”
Chen Jiaman’s father was so shocked he stood up, his chair screeching as he got up. “Wh-what video?”
Cheng Xi tried to remain calm as she replied, “A video that explains why she quit school. Do you want to see it?”
“No!” Chen Jiaman’s father refused her suggestion right away. He was extremely surprised, and even the expression on his face seemed to distort slightly. “Why do you have that? Didn’t they say that all of it had been deleted?”
“So you know what happened,” Cheng Xi stated slowly. Despite her growing anger, she didn’t want to provoke him. “Haven’t you ever thought of getting justice for her? No, more accurately, didn’t Chen Jiaman ever want you to get justice for her, to punish those bullies?”
Chen Jiaman’s father didn’t respond. He glanced at her and said that he needed to look at her phone. Then, almost as if he had seen a monster, he ran off, stumbling.
Cheng Xi quickly stood up and chased after him. “Mr. Chen!”
But he ran even more quickly, entered the stairs not long after, and disappeared from her sight after that. By the time Cheng Xi reached the stairway, she couldn’t even see his shadow. At the bottom of the stairs, there were only some bystanders who didn’t know what had happened.
She stood there without speaking. The nurses who had heard the commotion and chased after her had finally caught up. “Dr. Cheng, what’s wrong?”
Cheng Xi didn’t even know what to say, and could only ask, “Did the patient in ward no. 24’s guardian leave his contact information behind?”
“No. When he got here, he asked about the patient’s situation, and then just sat there in a daze, not responding to any questions.”
The nurse seemed quite displeased, but Cheng Xi only frowned at the situation. Chen Jiaman’s father’s behavior was really unexpected; it seemed like his mental condition wasn’t the best, either.
“Cheng Xi!” Just as Cheng Xi was thinking about what she should do next, the elevator doors opened, and a male and two females walked out. Leading them was Shen Wei, the new bride fresh from her honeymoon. She was dressed brightly and fashionably, and her face was filled with the happiness and joy of being a newlywed. Holding her hand was the girl who had been her bridesmaid.
Cheng Xi was overjoyed. “Why’re you guys here?” And when her gaze passed over both of them and landed on the man behind them, she was barely able to suppress her smile.
Lin Fan also smiled back at her.
“Hey, we’re still here.” Seeing the two start to communicate with their eyes, Shen Wei tried to get their attention.
Cheng Xi looked at her. “Who are you? I don’t recognize you. What difference does your being here make?”
After everyone laughed at the light joke, Cheng Xi brought them all back into her office. As they walked over, she asked, “Where did all of you find the time to come here?”
Shen Wei replied, “Oh my fair doctor, as busy as you are, if you don’t have any time to meet us, then we can only come and bother you. I also brought along some gifts from my honeymoon especially for you. Aren’t I nice?”
As Shen Wei said this, she retrieved an intricate box from her bag and handed it to her. Just as Cheng Xi was about to express her gratitude, Lin Fan clarified what had actually happened. “Shen Wei’s friend’s uncle also works in this hospital, and my mother made an appointment with him because she wasn’t feeling well. I invited them to accompany my mom over, and, since we had extra time, we decided to drop by and see you too.”
Cheng Xi smiled, glanced at Shen Wei, and then kindly asked, “Is Mrs. Lin alright?”
Lin Fan shook his head. “The checkup isn’t finished yet.”
Shen Wei hissed, “Lin Fan, why do you have to be so honest? While she’s feeling emotional, you should take the opportunity to get together with her…” By this time they had reached her office, but Shen Wei’s words dropped off upon noticing who was sitting inside. “Direc- Director Lu? Er, why are you here?”
Lu Chenzhou had walked out of the office at some point, and was now sitting on a chair while on his phone. Upon hearing the commotion, he lifted his head, looked at them, and then coolly said, “I’m accompanying my girlfriend to work.”
Shen Wei jumped up in fright. “G-g-girlfriend? Who?”
Cheng Xi stroked her forehead as she felt a headache coming on.
Lu Chenzhou suddenly stood up. This time, it was Cheng Xi who was scared, watching him warily.