When Cheng Xi saw the news on her phone, she sighed deeply.
That news article described Chen Fuguo as a suspect in poisoning his neighbors. The article wasn’t long; it coldly introduced his motives, actions, and then concluded the story. Because Chen Jiaman’s case was still under investigation, the article had only mentioned that Chen Fuguo’s possible motivation for killing was due to an old feud, and that those neighbors had fallen for his trap because of their unsuspecting natures and the temptation of delicious blowfish.
And three lives were lost, just like that.
“What’s the matter?” A colleague by her side had come to get a glass of water, but asked Cheng Xi this question upon seeing her face.
Cheng Xi forced herself to laugh in response. “Nothing. I might not have slept well last night, so I’m not feeling too well.”
“Oh, were you keeping guard over the patient in bed 24 the whole night again?” Although Renyi Hospital’s psychiatry department was quite famous for its novel treatment methods, her colleague rarely saw people like Cheng Xi, who would tire themselves half to death trying out a new treatment plan. “Are you sure that you can keep going like this?” Her colleague was skeptical, trying to convince her to take it slower. “Her illness was already rare to begin with, and even then, people with similar symptoms can be suffering from entirely different illnesses. You’ve been pushing for your so-called humane treatment methods, but they don’t seem to be particularly effective on her. I’m telling you—sometimes, patients suffering from mental illnesses are just like badly behaved children. Trying to persuade them gently won’t always be effective, but a simple, crude strategy might work wonders. Do you want to try that?”
Cheng Xi laughed upon hearing her colleague’s vivid analogy. “Alright, I’ll consider it.”
After chatting with her colleagues a little more, Cheng Xi got up to patrol the wards again. When she got to Chen Jiaman’s ward, she stopped at the door for quite a while, eventually deciding to not enter.
After the incident with the restaurant owner’s wife, Chen Jiaman seemed to have reverted to her old ways. Although she wouldn’t make a big fuss, she had completely given up on drawing and refused to listen to anyone. The door in Chen Jiaman’s heart that seemed to have been half-opened to Cheng Xi had been completely shut now.
Cheng Xi had classes in the afternoon. Because she wasn’t in her best condition, she made a few mistakes in a row. And after being corrected again, she couldn’t help but caress her forehead out of exasperation.
The students attending the lecture were all laughing, and a male student by the front row even jokingly asked, “Dr. Cheng, you aren’t this distracted because you just broke up with someone, right?” And then he even consoled her. “Even if you really just broke up with someone, then it’s fine if you don’t want to teach. Just sit down and watch us self-study.”
When Cheng Xi was feeling well, she would laugh along with them. But today, she really wasn’t feeling up to it, so she really did just pull a stool over and sat there until the end of class.
Her students were all relatively obedient: no one came up to tease her; instead, everyone sat patiently at their desks and studied for the remaining half of the session. Even after class, they each sincerely said goodbye to her, and some even secretly handed her notes. Cheng Xi looked at them, and every one of them had something along the following lines: “Keep it up, Dr. Cheng!”, “Dr. Cheng, there are so many men in the world, why waste your time pining over one?”, or “Dr. Cheng, turn around, turn around and look. I, your student, will always be here for you.”
Cheng Xi could only laugh at their innocent humor, but her heart warmed at the messages. Despite how much these kids teased her, she could feel how much they cared for her.
That male student who was always sleeping in her class was once again the last one out. Surprisingly, he hadn’t slept today. Somewhat embarrassed, he walked up to her and stood there for quite a while before extending his hand toward her.
In his palm were two plain but elegantly wrapped sweets.
“Are these for me?”
The boy nodded.
Cheng Xi took one piece of candy from his hand and said, “Let’s eat them together.” She unwrapped the candy and stuffed it into her mouth. It was chocolate-flavored, not as sweet as the version with the little squirrels, and even had a hint of bitterness that contrasted well with its refreshing aftertaste—an unusual combination.
The boy smiled quite happily as he saw her eat the sweet. His ears blushed red and he ran out of the classroom, still holding the other sweet in his hand.
Cheng Xi thought him too introverted to be a university student, but given that he was only auditing the class, she didn’t bother putting too much thought into it. She smiled at his back, picked up her things, and went to Cai Yi’s office.
Cai Yi was somewhat surprised to see Cheng Xi coming over, but her sharp eyes saw through her emotions in one glance. She pushed everyone else out of the office, leaving the two of them alone, and then asked, “What’s wrong? You don’t look well today.”
Rather than merely unwell, Cheng Xi actually looked like she was about to burst out into tears at any moment now.
In fact, she actually did: right after Cai Yi asked that question, tears started streaming down her face.
Cai Yi wasn’t too shocked. After all, psychiatrists were people themselves, with feelings that were difficult for them to process. Instead of anxiously asking her questions, she motioned for her to sit down by her side, to cry in as comfortable a position as possible.
After Cheng Xi finished, Cai Yi gave her a glass of water. “Are you thirsty?”
“Yes.” She nodded, blew her nose, took the cup of water, and downed it in one go.
Her unusually childish actions made Cai Yi smile as she looked at her. “Alright, what’s the matter?”
Cheng Xi was still a bit upset, and she played with her glass of water for quite a while before explaining. “That patient I took on with Cotard’s syndrome relapsed because she was provoked by external stimuli. After that, her father gathered all the kids and family members who bullied her in the past together, and treated them to poisoned blowfish meat, killing three of them. I asked a lawyer what would happen to him; given the situation, even if he were spared the death penalty, it would be at most be a deferred death sentence.”
“I don’t know when he started planning that event in his mind, but I’m very upset by it. I must have pushed him to it. I knew that helping reopen Chen Jiaman’s case would be difficult, but I still forced him to do it……”
Cai Yi looked at her. “So you think that you’re in the wrong?”
“Yes.” Cheng Xi covered her face, and with great effort, answered her question. “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have ignored your advice, and I forgot about my own duties and tried to act as a messenger of justice.”
She had only wanted to get justice for Chen Jiaman, to right the wrong that had been done to her by making those who had bullied her suffer the punishment that they ought to suffer. However, she never sought to have Chen Fuguo do so in such a terrible manner.
And now, she only felt a terrible guilt eat at her, the guilt that she had single-handedly orchestrated the poisoning incident between Chen Fuguo and the bullies’ parents and family members.
Cai Yi simply sat by her side and listened. Cheng Xi was the most gifted and empathetic of all the students that she had ever advised, and that latter point was both her greatest strength and weakness.
For psychiatrists, being empathetic was a particular compliment, because it meant that they wouldn’t blindly follow the rules and would instead genuinely try their best to help their patients through more humane means.
But such actions had to be taken in moderation. Cai Yi believed that what had transpired this time would help Cheng Xi realize this, and this failure would help her become an even better doctor than the one she was today.
All good doctors needed to grow, so Cai Yi didn’t do anything to hinder that growth, only saying, “Don’t think of yourself as the most important actor in this play. Perhaps the role you had in this wasn’t so important after all.”
Cai Yi’s words were simple, but they immediately woke Cheng Xi up. In truth, after she had cried and revealed all her worries to Cai Yi, her reasoning had finally returned to her.
She knew that she was shouldering far more responsibility than she should. Chen Fuguo had been planning this for quite a while; after his initial return, he had only visited Chen Jiaman once, dealt with his mother’s funeral, and then immediately went back out to sea to purchase fresh blowfish. From his actions, Cheng Xi could see that he had already been planning this for a long time.
Perhaps he had wanted to get justice for Chen Jiaman a long time ago, but just in his own way.
And perhaps some of his motives were selfish: some of the people that he had invited that day were not the parents of those that had bullied Chen Jiaman.
Even so, Cheng Xi still felt that she had made a mistake. She had gone too deep, to the point that even she had lost her balance. She was this way with Chen Jiaman’s illness, as well as with Chen Fuguo.
When Cai Yi saw Cheng Xi realize the truth, she finally let out the breath she had been holding. “Alright. Now that you’ve thought everything over, why don’t you treat me to a meal as the fee for seeing you.”
Cheng Xi knew that Cai Yi didn’t want her to keep thinking about these matters so she responded, “Then I’ll have to make it a big affair; your fees aren’t cheap, professor.”
“It’s good that you know that.” Cai Yi stared at her seriously. “Don’t just come crying to me aimlessly next time.”
Cheng Xi was very embarrassed, but did sincerely treat Cai Yi to a meal in the end. Of course, she invited not only her but also her assistant, the other seniors and juniors in Cai Yi’s office, and everyone else she saw in the lab.
Since they knew that Cheng Xi was paying, they all smiled and responded, “We’ll treat it as a free get-together, then.”
The whole crowd split up into several different cars, all driving to the restaurant excitedly. The place that they’d decided on was close to the foot of the river, very famous for its fish-head dishes. Even better, it was just the right kind of weather to get together for a spicy fish-head hotpot.
Cheng Xi wasn’t particularly hungry, but since everyone else was eating, she’d naturally do her best to keep up with the crowd.
But the meal didn’t end up costing Cheng Xi anything after all as they coincidentally encountered Lin Fan there having dinner with a few friends of his. The two were each with their own separate parties, and so could only greet each other briefly.
The two tables were even next to each other, and from that distance, Lin Fan had probably overheard that Cheng Xi was paying for her party’s meal. Thus, when she flagged a waiter over to pay the bill, she was told that it had already been paid.
Cheng Xi didn’t understand what had happened at that point, so she could only smile and ask around sheepishly. “Alright, which of you guys were so noble as to save me some money? I’m so embarrassed.”
No one claimed the honor, and it was finally the waiter who said, “It was Mr. Lin from table 9. He said that he’d treat everyone to this meal for you.”
Cheng Xi had no response to the waiter’s words.
The people beside her all went crazy, excitedly yelling out a long ‘Ooooo’ from their mouths in unison. “Is that rich boyfriend of yours finally showing up?”
They all knew that Cheng Xi had had all of her appointment slots booked by a rich man, but they didn’t know who he was. But now, when they saw that someone had paid the bill for her of his own accord, they remembered this incident again, and quickly stuck their heads out to try and catch a glimpse of that mysterious ‘Mr. Lin.’
Luckily for Lin Fan and his friends, they had finished their meal first, and he had sent his friends out right after paying to save Cheng Xi from her party’s interrogation.
Cheng Xi covertly wiped the sweat from her forehead. But when she raised her head, she saw Cai Yi smiling at her, a mote of caution in her gaze.
Cheng Xi sighed.
Actually, even without Cai Yi saying so, she already knew that her actions with Lu Chenzhou were very ill-advised. Chen Jiaman’s matters had also shown her that she couldn’t interfere with patients too much, even if she had good intentions.
This was especially true given that she now had a ‘Mr. Lin’ by her side.