It hadn’t been that long since Cheng Xi had last seen Lin Fan, but he seemed to become much thinner, his face was now wan and sallow, and his overall demeanor exuded exhaustion.
She felt like she was once again looking at that miserable high school youth who was silent and dyed with a melancholy unbefitting of his age.
He looked at her for quite a while before he turned towards his mother and hoarsely said, “Ma, I’ll promise you, I’ll promise you anything. Please, can you drop this matter about transferring Jiaman away?”
Lin Fan’s mother glanced at Cheng Xi before responding, “You promise?”
Almost as if she were asking Cheng Xi.
Lin Fan looked down. “Yes.”
And then his mother left; of course, before leaving, she also dragged Lin Fan away, and warned Cheng Xi one last time. “I’ll still transfer her away if her illness doesn’t improve.”
Of course, this warning was more of an excuse, a pretense that gave off the impression that her ardent desire to transfer Chen Jiaman out of Renyi was purely because she cared about her illness, and was worried about Cheng Xi’s medical expertise being inadequate.
But Cheng Xi ignored her two-faced excuse. She was feeling very gloomy—in the end she had had to rely on Lin Fan to resolve this problem, and it even seemed like he had been forced into a disadvantageous compromise to do so.
Her heart was in shambles, an indescribable feeling. So, when Lin Fan later invited her out to dinner, she ultimately decided to go.
Lin Fan had always been considerate, but this time, he had chosen a restaurant that was quite far away from her. Only when Cheng Xi arrived did she realize that it was next to a middle school. And by that time, school had already ended; the students were all gone, and the area by the school doors was deserted. As the car drove past it, she clearly saw the school name.
The nearby surroundings had all changed; only that school door remained the same.
When she arrived at the designated restaurant, Lin Fan was already standing outside, staring into the window. His face was bathed in the soft glow of the twilight sunset, giving him a somewhat bleak appearance.
Cheng Xi walked over. He didn’t turn around as he said, “I remember the first time we met, when we were both competing in a math competition here. I didn’t expect that, even after all these years, this school would still be around.”
Cheng Xi smiled. “How old were we back then? Fourteen, I think?”
Lin Fan nodded. “I was fifteen, and we were in the eighth grade. Middle school was really the most relaxing period of my life. At that time, even though our family was so poor, he hadn’t found us yet. My mom was doing her best to support me, and I wanted to give up on school to help her make more money.
So at that time, the reason why he had purposefully failed his test wasn’t to accompany her. Rather, it was to lower his mother’s expectations of him so that he wouldn’t have to continue going to school and could instead go find a job and start earning money.
And here, Cheng Xi had always thought that it was to accompany her.
Yes, this world was truly filled with misunderstandings.
Cheng Xi remained silent for a while, and then smiled. “No matter how good the past was, people have to look forward…… Today, thank you for your help.”
“What are you thanking me for?” He turned around as he asked, “For arguing with my mom?” He then smiled, a self-deprecating smile. “She’s still my sister, my mother’s daughter, and you’re……” Whatever Cheng Xi was to Chen Jiaman, he didn’t say, only staring at her. There was another period of silence before he said, “Actually, it’s I who should be thanking you. I know why you said it that way. You wanted to help wake up my mom.”
Cheng Xi couldn’t help herself from wanting to sigh, but she refrained herself and instead put on a smile as she said, “As long as you don’t mind me being nosy.”
Lin Fan’s voice was gentle. “How could I?”
At this moment, the waiter knocked on the door. “Are you ready to order?”
The two of them returned to their table and began ordering. Cheng Xi looked through the entire menu seriously, and eventually decided on a plate of pork chops.
After she said the name of the dish, Lin Fan couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “Just this?”
Given her serious expression, Lin Fan was half-expecting her to order some rare and expensive dish.
Cheng Xi plainly replied, “Just this. We’re a small party, so we won’t be able to finish everything if we order too much. Thus, I might as well order something familiar that I like.”
Lin Fan stilled for a moment before smiling again.
After the waiter left, Cheng Xi straightforwardly asked him, “Did you call me out for a reason?”
Lin Fan looked at her seriously. “I’d like to ask you to take special care of Chen Jiaman from now on. With the state that my mother’s in, I don’t think that it’d be a good idea to let her participate in Jiaman’s treatment.”
Of course, these words of his carried a hidden meaning: that he wouldn’t be able to take as much care of Chen Jiaman as he had in the past.
Cheng Xi frowned. He was still looking at her, focused on her pretty face which was as elegant as a waxing crescent moon and as calm and warm as a spring flower about to bloom.
Cheng Xi seriously asked, “Lin Fan, have you thought about how you’re going to face your mother? Is following her every word actually any good for her?”
After a while, she continued talking. “You actually understand, don’t you? You’ve already done very well for yourself overseas, but then you willingly started over from the bottom when you came back. Why? Isn’t it just to, again, lower her expectations of you? But have you succeeded? Regardless of whether or not you have the capability, she keeps pushing you to achieve her dreams and desires, and you can only compromise. It’s the same for Chen Jiaman’s affairs. You’re willing to take care of her, and you have the ability to do so, but simply because your mother said so, you have to avoid her…… Regardless of whether it’s good or not, or right or not, you only follow her desires. Lin Fan, are you really that devoid of your own opinions?”
Lin Fan smiled bitterly. “I also don’t want to be like that, but…” He clutched his face as he confessed, “I’m the only thing she has.”
Upon seeing this scene, Cheng Xi suddenly understood Lin Fan’s thoughts: he was full of guilt toward his mother, so he would always compromise with her, and could only compromise.
And with that, the dinner ended on somewhat bad terms. Lin Fan’s mental condition left Cheng Xi somewhat worried, and when they left, she sighed as she told him, “I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie ‘Gaslight’ before, but it gave rise to a word, ‘gaslighting.’ Lin Fan, you were once my imaginary rival, and beyond that, we’ve also been competitors, friends, and, even if only for a short time, lovers. Thus, I hope that, no matter what, you can always maintain an independent personality, a healthy mind, and an irrepressible vigor.”
After leaving, Cheng Xi felt a bit stifled. When two people were in a close relationship, it wasn’t uncommon to see these supposedly intimate people start manipulating each other. In the study of psychiatry, gaslighting referred to someone twisting and manipulating their victim’s reality in order to control their feelings. Cheng Xi didn’t know what sort of things had happened between Lin Fan and his mother, but evidently, the confident, unhurried, and generous Lin Fan was vanishing.
Cheng Xi could only hope that, after she provided some unbiased perspective about his situation, the clever him would be able to react accordingly.
Chen Jiaman’s affairs also seemed to return to a calm after Lin Fan’s compromise with his mother. Afterwards, Cai Yi even called her to say, “Don’t think of me as a bad guy, Cheng Xi.”
“I won’t. We simply have different standpoints. I’m just the doctor of Chen Jiaman, and professor, you want to be the doctor of many such Chen Jiamans.”
“After hearing you say this, I’m very relieved.”
Cheng Xi smiled.
Later, she went to see Lu Chenzhou, and even discussed these events with him. Lu Chenzhou’s body was responding well to the medical treatment; after two weeks of treatment, his vitals had all returned to normal. But out of prudence, the doctor still recommended that he stay the full three weeks.
Lu Chenzhou had also started treating the hospital like it was his own house. Every afternoon or evening, after she left work, Cheng Xi would go visit him. Sometimes, she would bring him some soup or flowers, and whenever she did that, Baldy would always jokingly tease, “Dr. Cheng, actually, it’s you who’s wooing our Boss Lu, right?”
But Cheng Xi and Lu Chenzhou’s discussions were entirely unrelated to romance. For example, today, their discussion was about the schism between Cai Yi and herself. For Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother, who was nearby, it almost bored her to tears.
But Lu Chenzhou very seriously said to Cheng Xi, “I support you.”
Cheng Xi smiled, and his eavesdropping grandmother smiled as well. My goodness, her grandson was finally starting to understand relationships! Wonderful!
But right after celebrating, she heard a particularly shocking set of words from her grandson. “Let’s get rid of both Donglai Pharmaceuticals and Cai Yi’s laboratory!”