Lin Fan was very serious, his tone and expression earnest.
Cheng Xi was suddenly reminded of a time when they were still in school. One day, he had abruptly said, “Let’s skip school.”
Without any premonition, a usually industrious and model student had suddenly proposed to skip school, and he had even dragged another good student along with him. As two of the top students in the best class, Cheng Xi didn’t even need to think to know what the consequences would be.
At that time, however, she was calm and cool-headed, and had first asked him, “To where? For how long?” Afraid that he would start seriously planning, she even added, “If we’re gone for too long, I have to get some more money.”
Lin Fan hadn’t thought about any of that; he just wanted to skip school, to run far, far away.
“Then let’s think about it first.”
And so they thought about where they would go, how much money they would have to bring, what might happen on the way, what they would do if an emergency happened—but after making all their plans, though they had skipped school in their minds, nothing ever came of it.
Why? Because it was too troublesome.
And to extend that to now, getting married wasn’t like skipping school. It was a far more troublesome event with even larger aftershocks—presently, they were only aftershocks because, having not met each other’s parents yet, they hadn’t really settled their relationship. Thus, they were still, in many ways, unprepared for marriage.
All of these thoughts raced through Cheng Xi’s head, but her expression remained unchanged. She even smiled and naturally asked, “Why are you suddenly talking about this now?”
Lin Fan stubbornly asked, “Are you unwilling?”
Of course, because the conditions weren’t ripe yet! Cheng Xi smiled, pulled him into a seat, and then poured him a glass of water as she said, “It’s not that I’m unwilling, but rather it’s that there are too many things that we haven’t yet considered, like are we going to have a banquet afterwards? Oh, we probably have to—my mother only has me and my brother, so she’s been thinking about our marriages for a long time. But where would we host it, and how many people would we invite? Who would help us? We’re both new to all of this, so we definitely have to get someone else to help, but before that, we still have to meet each other’s parents, don’t we? And then we’ll have to think about where to stay after we get married, how to set up our bridal chamber, who’s going to take care of the baby if we have one soon—my mother and your mother are both too busy to help, you know—so we’ll have to hire a nanny. But since we’re both busy with our work, our baby would then be with a stranger for the entire day, so we definitely have to choose a good nanny well in advance, or it’ll be easy for all sorts of incidents to crop up……”
In one breath, she listed out a whole pile of incidents that could happen and lead to all sorts of developmental and educational issues with their child. Then, she continued talking about the problems that came about from all sorts of parents getting married, expected or otherwise.
Lin Fan just looked at her dumbstruck. It was because marriage was just a thought that had popped into his head, and the rest—he hadn’t thought about it at all.
He couldn’t even tell her to not overthink it, because Cheng Xi was very seriously planning their future. After she finished speaking her thoughts, she even looked at him seriously, waiting for his response.
But he couldn’t even answer her first question about the banquet. It wasn’t that he was unwilling, or that he couldn’t, but just that he wasn’t sure if his mother would prevent it.
All he wanted to do was get married, just the two of them, and after properly (in truth, secretly) getting their marriage certificate, they would move in together; his plans didn’t account for anyone else.
Cheng Xi was still looking at him, waiting for his answer.
He smiled. “Cheng Xi, do you really want to get married?”
“I wouldn’t object to it.”
Yes, no objections, but not a commitment either. Lin Fan thought she would have been shy and pleasantly surprised about it, or even astonished and unpleasantly surprised. However, Cheng Xi displayed neither of these two sets of emotions. Instead, she theorized coolly about the future, her words like a cold basin of water that had splashed him awake.
Only then did he realize his own hurry and carelessness—he didn’t even have a ring with which to propose to her.
After being silent for a moment, he asked, “Then when are you free? I’d like to bring you to meet my mother.”
This time, it wasn’t like skipping school, because he wouldn’t give up on his plans so easily.
Cheng Xi agreed. “Alright.”
Lin Fan left with a heavy heart, but only when he reached the lobby did he remember that it was time to leave work; hadn’t he come here to fetch her?
But how was he to return now? Ha, all it would do was clearly show Cheng Xi how careless he was towards marriage.
In truth, Cheng Xi really hadn’t noticed his carelessness, because she had been focused on herself—Lin Fan’s proposal made her realize a very surprising thing, which was that, even after they had become a couple, she didn’t really want to get married.
She had never planned on being single for the rest of her life like her professor, but in her current plan for the future, she hadn’t really thought about marriage, and she wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
This really made her quite vexed. Cheng Xi caressed her forehead and sighed, only breaking out of her reverie when the nurse came in, looking for her. After Cheng Xi dealt with the nurse’s request, she contacted a few of her friends, specifically, the ones who were still single at Shen Wei’s marriage, and asked them to go out. One responded, “I’m at my boyfriend’s house.” Another, “I’m not free today. I’m going on a blind date.” Only Tian Rou laughed loudly upon picking up. “Wahaha, I’m finally not single anymore. Did you call because you found out and are planning on celebrating with me?”
“Why don’t you secure your own affairs first?”
Unable to help herself, she even tried calling Shen Wei, who had just gotten married, but she was also busy, with a business trip as her excuse.
Everyone was preoccupied with their own affairs.
With no other option, Cheng Xi could only make herself busy as well. Coincidentally, Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather called her just then. “Could we trouble you to come over? My wife’s gone home to rest because she was exhausted, and our grandson’s unwilling to eat.”
So Cheng Xi went over, bumping into Lu Chenzhou’s father on the way there. When they met, he stopped and asked, “Are you really Lu Chenzhou’s friend?”
Cheng Xi blinked, and Lu Chenzhou’s father’s expression warmed up several degrees from its previously frosty state as he nodded appreciatively at her. “Given his temper, it must have been hard on you.”
Only upon seeing Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather did she realize the whole story. The old man was yelling at his son in front of a few young men. “Don’t you have any patience? All you do is keep flaring up. Zhou’s body is weak, so isn’t it normal for him to be unable to eat?”
After she walked closer, she found that most of these people were actually already familiar: Baldy, Xu Po, and someone she didn’t seem to know. When Baldy saw her, he introduced the third person to her. “This is Xie Ziming.”
Cheng Xi thought back long and hard until she finally remembered something. During the first time she had played mahjong with Baldy, it seemed as though a man had had to cancel on them, which was why she had to stand in for him in the first place.
Xie Ziming looked pretty average, but his smile was cordial. “In the few months while I was out, yours was the name that I heard the most. It’s nice to finally meet you.”
Cheng Xi was somewhat embarrassed, and she didn’t bother asking what he had heard about her, instead exchanging a few pleasantries before quickly saying, “I’m going to go inside to look at him first.”
This was her way of hiding.
She much preferred working with her patients over social interactions.
Baldy and the rest exchanged a knowing glance with each other behind her back. Xie Ziming said, “This doctor seems so gentle. Can she really do anything?”
Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather trusted her completely, and nodded confidently. “Of course she can. I’ve never seen Zhou so obedient before.”
Everyone grew even more curious, but unfortunately, the door to Lu Chenzhou’s ward was tightly closed. In general, visitors weren’t allowed in; Lu Chenzhou’s father had only been allowed in because Lu Chenzhou had refused to speak or talk to anyone. However, he had gotten so angry that he had been forced to leave.
Cheng Xi again put on her mask and isolation suit before entering. Lu Chenzhou was sleeping peacefully, a sumptuous and nourishing meal by his bedside. The nurse was watching him from the side of the room. Upon seeing Cheng Xi, she quietly said, “He refuses to eat anything. This isn’t good for his recovery.”
Cheng Xi smiled understandingly and walked over. Lu Chenzhou was only pretending to sleep; when he heard her footsteps, he opened his eyes.
“Do you want to eat something?” She pretended to not know anything, and asked this question naturally as she sat down in front of his bed.
Lu Chenzhou didn’t respond, only looking at her.
“Why don’t you have something. Won’t it be nice to get out of here earlier? How terrible it must feel to be cooped up in here.”
She took a bowl of porridge and held a spoonful up to his mouth.
The two stayed still until Lu Chenzhou finally relented, opening his mouth—it truly was quite uncomfortable to stay here. He felt trapped in this pure white room, which was too small and hard to bear.
But after seeing her, it didn’t feel as hard to bear anymore.
He finished the bowl of porridge and ate some of the other dishes as well. Throughout the whole process, Cheng Xi kept talking about random things, like how much his grandmother was worried about him, how often his grandfather thought of him, and how she had met Baldy and the rest, including a man called Xie Ziming.
Her voice was very pleasant to the ear, neither hurried nor slow, and neither anxious nor impatient. It was soft and gentle, like a relaxed spring breeze.
But Lu Chenzhou could still detect something off in her voice. He looked at her, suddenly asking, “Are you unhappy?”