When Cheng Xi regained her wits, she found that she and Lu Chenzhou were the only two people on the street, and that Lin Fan had left some time ago.
She was still a bit dazed and somewhat scared because Lu Chenzhou’s kiss this time was quite different from the previous two times. He had learned to stick his tongue out somewhere, and despite not having any finesse, had licked her lips and face like a little dog. This kiss had shocked Cheng Xi more than any other.
When he tightly embraced her, she could also feel that he had gotten an erection.
She clutched her face. At the very least, he hadn’t done anything about it, but she guessed that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to, but rather that he……didn’t know how to? This guess came from the fact that he was currently looking strangely at the lower half of his body, and even reaching his hand out as if to touch it.
When Cheng Xi saw his movements, she felt black lines streaking across her forehead, and she quickly grabbed his hand. “Let’s go. My hand’s really about to break off.”
She pulled him back to the office with her, only relaxing once she saw that he had calmed down—given his earlier behavior, she was worried that if her colleagues saw him, they would beat and throw him out as if he were a hoodlum.
Cheng Xi had Lu Chenzhou sit down. He did so obediently, like a deep thinker sitting with his back straight and head held high and coolly. His indescribable antics made Cheng Xi want to laugh at the absurdity.
She pursed her lips, not thinking about him, but not leaving the room either. She took her jacket off and prepared to look at the arm that Chen Jiaman had bitten.
When she rolled up her sleeves, even Cheng Xi herself was a bit shocked by the sight. Chen Jiaman’s bite had been very fierce indeed, and there was a clear set of large and round tooth marks embedded into her skin.
Luckily, since it was winter, she had been wearing a jacket. If it were summer, she probably would have had a large chunk of flesh ripped out of her arm.
She was also trying to be brave. Cheng Xi didn’t want to cause any more trouble, so she scavenged some iodine and cotton swabs, intending to privately disinfect her wound.
But she was quite sensitive to pain. As she poured iodine onto her wound, she immediately felt pain course through it again. It was as if there were thousands of mouths gnawing on her flesh, and she was almost unable to continue.
“Do you regret it?” Lu Chenzhou had finished thinking some time ago, and had come over to watch her treat herself.
Cheng Xi’s forehead was covered in a thin sheen of sweat. She forced herself to raise her head to look at him. “Regret what?”
Lu Chenzhou took a cotton swab and poked at her wound.
“Ouch!” Cheng Xi couldn’t handle it anymore, and her head hit the tabletop out of exhaustion as she powerlessly said, “Don’t make a fuss, Lu Chenzhou.”
When he noticed that she hadn’t called him Mr. Lu, he felt rather happy. He decided to let her off the hook, and even kindly offered, “Let me help.”
And then he took another cotton swab, poured alcohol on it, and helped her clean her wound.
A rich young master like him had never done such a thing. As the cotton swab penetrated deep into Cheng Xi’s wound, so much pain wracked her body that she started quivering. After stubbornly bearing it for a while, she gave up, and exerted just enough strength to stop the cotton swab in his hand. “Alright, you can stop now.”
If he were to continue, her arm might really break off!
This time, she didn’t even dare let him help wrap her wound. She did it herself casually, rolled her sleeve back down, and then put her jacket on.
“Just that?” He raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“No. I’ll go get some medicine from the surgery area later, and I might also have to get a shot.”
Lu Chenzhou looked at her.
“What is it?” she asked as she tidied up the table.
“Why help her like that?”
“I’m the doctor whose responsible for her.”
Upon hearing this, Lu Chenzhou smiled coolly, but didn’t say anything more.
His grandfather’s banquet was still going on, and Lu Chenzhou naturally couldn’t stay out for too long. Once they called him and asked about his situation, he left quickly.
Cheng Xi never returned. She didn’t know what Chen Jiaman would be like when she woke up, and she didn’t feel comfortable leaving before finding out.
But she also was somewhat worried about Lu Chenzhou, and she forcibly found him a substitute driver, even calling Cai Yi to warn her. “His condition doesn’t seem too stable, as if he was scared by Chen Jiaman’s incident. Once he returns, please help take care of him, professor.”
Cai Yi replied, “Okay.” Perhaps it was because she could hear the note of remorse in Cheng Xi’s voice, but she also reassuringly added on, “It’ll be fine, don’t worry. He’s not a novice, and won’t truly be scared from something like this.”
Cheng Xi smiled. “That’s good.”
Not long after Lu Chenzhou left, her colleague came back and said that she couldn’t find Chen Jiaman’s ‘aunt,’ who had presumably left during the disturbance. Even the phone number that she had left was fake. When Cheng Xi went to go review the security footage, she realized that this so-called aunt looked quite familiar. Her memory was quite good, and after thinking for a moment, she quickly realized that this mystery person was actually the restaurant owner’s wife that worked near Chen Jiaman’s school.
“Call the police,” Cheng Xi said.
“Ah?” Her colleague jumped up in fright. “Th-there’s no need to, is there?”
Cheng Xi didn’t say anything else, and instead immediately sought out the head of the department directly. After hearing about the situation, he stared at her and finally squeezed out some words. “Dr. Cheng, do you think that our reputation is too good?”
Cheng Xi understood what the head was saying. If word of this incident got out, their hospital would have to take responsibility for negligent personnel. If they really called the police, then it wouldn’t reflect well on them either.
Cheng Xi comforted the head by saying, “Self-reflection is also a form of improvement.”
The head only gave her one word in response: “Scram!”
And Cheng Xi did so, heartily. Of course, she still ended up calling the police, and the police responded quickly. “That restaurant owner’s wife has a daughter a year older than Chen Jiaman. After our investigation, we’ve proven that her daughter was the instigator behind the bullying from two years ago, and have currently taken preventative measures against her child. Because we’re still in the process of investigation, we didn’t tell you about this. Presumably, this is why she went to seek out Chen Jiaman.”
And finally, the police even told her some additional news. “There’s something you should be aware of, Dr. Cheng. Regarding Chen Jiaman, even if we fully investigate the children who bullied her, they won’t receive too severe of a punishment. At the time of the incident, most of them were younger than fourteen years of age. Given that it’s already been two years since then, that the Chens have already received financial reparation, that they’ve decided not to pursue the matter further, and that we’ve even received a joint petition from the children’s classmates and neighbors pleading for leniency and saying that they’re all intelligent, kind children…”
“So they’re all intelligent and kind, whereas Chen Jiaman is terrifying and evil. Thus, she deserved to be driven mad?”
But no one answered this question of hers. Cheng Xi was sitting in her office, and despite the heater running strongly, she felt an unexpectedly chill.
“Dr. Cheng, a family member for the patient in bed 24 is here.”
Cheng Xi broke out of her daze, frowning. “Who is it?”
The nurse didn’t answer, but she didn’t need an answer anymore. Cheng Xi could already see the man who had come, Chen Jiaman’s father.
He was still dressed very neatly, in a black down shirt and long black pants. Perhaps it was his clothes, but he looked even older than last time; his spine was even starting to look crooked.
“Is Jiaman alright?”
Cheng Xi looked at him. The anxiety on his face seemed like he was truly worried about his daughter. “Dr. Cheng, the police said that someone intentionally came over here to provoke her. Is… is she alright?”
“I don’t know.” Cheng Xi tried very hard to calm herself down, but couldn’t help herself from shooting out some prickly words. “I thought that you wouldn’t care about her anymore after leaving some money. But it seems like… you actually still worry about her?”
Her father mumbled, “Sorry.”
“What use is saying sorry to me?” She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’m not feeling very well. If you’re truly concerned about her illness, then I’ll find a doctor to speak with you.”
She stood up and prepared to leave. At this time, she was unable to face this man—in Chen Jiaman’s miserable life, he too had been an instigator of her suffering.
Cheng Xi did not stop walking.
Chen Jiaman’s father pleaded from behind, “I know why she came. She managed to get a petition, a petition to absolve her daughter of her crimes. She believes that only if Chen Jiaman truly becomes crazy will she be able to offset the grievance that her daughter has faced in the meantime… Dr. Cheng, I hope she can get better, please!”
With a loud ‘Peng,’ Cheng Xi turned around and found that Chen Jiaman’s father was actually kowtowing on the floor.
She almost jumped with fright and dodged instinctively. “You don’t have to act like this.” She scrunched up her forehead in stress. “If you truly feel this way, then you should treat your daughter better. You should know that giving birth to her and not raising her is a sin.”
After saying this, she stopped paying attention to him, not caring whether he left afterwards. She went to get some medicine for herself and gave herself a tetanus shot. When she returned, she found out that Chen Jiaman had woken up.
She seemed to have reverted to the original condition that she had come in as. She was scared of light and of people, her mouth was constantly mumbling something no one could make out, and she stayed curled up in a corner with her torn up sketchbook. She had scattered the pieces all over her body, almost as if by doing so she could bury herself once more.
Cheng Xi stood by the door, quietly watching her. When night came and Chen Jiaman started frantically looking for her head, Cheng Xi recalled all those people in the little town who had helped the bullies go unpunished and Chen Jiaman’s father whose repentance had come far too late. This entire situation reminded her of a poem:
Demons hide in the masses.
Hiding from notice,
They share our beds,
They share our food.
At the same time, another common aphorism came to mind: This is the way that evil follows us through our lives, as nondescript as crimes are eye-catching.