That night, Baldy and Tian Rou slept in the apartment next to Cheng Xi’s.
They’d partied so late into the evening that, when Cheng Xi woke up the next day, her head was pounding with pain. However, she was too used to getting up at around that time, so she couldn’t fall back asleep. Eventually, she resigned herself to her fate, climbed out of bed, ate something, and started tidying up her room.
Meanwhile, Tian Rou slept all the way to noon.
When she woke up, the first thing she did was to knock on Cheng Xi’s door. Remembering what Cheng Xi had promised her last night, she instantly accused Cheng Xi, “Didn’t you say that you were going to sleep with me last night? You liar!”
Cheng Xi smiled warmly at her. By her awkward gait, she immediately knew that Baldy had done something with her as soon as she had woken up. Cheng Xi didn’t say anything and just sat there and flipped through the book by her side. Tian Rou felt slightly embarrassed from her penetrating gaze and reached out to pinch her. “Do you have anything to eat?”
“It’s in the microwave. You can go get it yourself.”
Lu Chenzhou had made breakfast, which was eggs, sandwiches, and milk. Cheng Xi was afraid that Tian Rou would be hungover after drinking all of last night away, so she had also made a small bowl of congee, which was currently heating up on the stove.
Tian Rou came out with a steaming plate, so happy that she was bubbling with joy. As she ate, she said, “Cheng Xi, it’d be perfect if I were a guy—I’d have married you a long time ago, and then what would that Lu fellow amount to?”
Though, Tian Rou did feel slightly guilty, as she glanced over at Cheng Xi’s bedroom as she said this, afraid that her sacrilegious words would be overheard.
Cheng Xi just smiled as she shook her head, used to Tian Rou’s blunt way of speaking whatever was on her mind. “Don’t worry. He’s not around.”
Tian Rou immediately became cocky. “I can’t believe that he’s ok with letting you stay home alone. Well, it’s perfect timing for us to-” But before she could finish her sentence, she suddenly felt a surge of killing intent from behind her, causing her to stiffly change her words. “-to discard our past grievances and settle our debts.”
“What debts?” Baldy and Lu Chenzhou both asked this as they walked in from behind her.
Tian Rou bluffed, “She owes me money, of course!”
Cheng Xi couldn’t bear to look at her anymore.
They all started laughing at her, and Tian Rou quickly became unhappy. When she thought about her waist, which was still faintly hurting, she felt like all of her appetite had drained away. As Lu Chenzhou and Baldy squeezed into the kitchen, she put down her bowl and sighed. But when Cheng Xi didn’t play along with her act, she became bored. She turned around and picked up a random book. “What’re you doing? Why do you have so many books here?” She briefly glanced at the title. “They’re all about medicine. Cheng Xi, why’s your life so boring?”
Cheng Xi felt like she was going to get a headache if she listened to Tian Rou chatter any longer. “Don’t make a mess. I just tidied everything up.” During the year she had been gone, she had made Cheng Yang collect all of the books and magazines that she ordered, but that fellow had just thrown all of them into a corner of the room in a messy pile.
Cheng Xi was currently sifting through the pile for anything that would be useful to bring back to Gansu.
Tian Rou clicked her tongue in annoyance, and started casually flipping through yet another book. She was about to speak when a letter fell out from between the pages. “What’s this? Is someone still sending you letters in this time and age?”
Cheng Xi glanced at it, hesitated, and then raised her head to inspect it more carefully. “Let me see.”
The logo on the envelope was very familiar. The letter had been sent last year, and it stated that Chen Jiaman’s artwork had received a commendation, and that Chen Jiaman had been invited to attend the prize ceremony at a given date.
Cheng Xi looked at the date—the supposed prize ceremony took place half a year ago.
But Cheng Xi didn’t respond. As if struck by lightning, she sat there for quite a long time, lost in thought. Tian Rou became very curious. “What’s the matter? Who wrote to you? An old lover?”
She reached over, ready to take a look at the letter. But then, it was suddenly snatched away from Cheng Xi’s hands. Tian Rou glared at the thief in anger, but when she saw that it was Lu Chenzhou, she silently sat back into her seat once more.
Lu Chenzhou finished reading the letter in a matter of moments, and was about to shred it to pieces when Cheng Xi spoke up. “Give it to me.”
Lu Chenzhou looked at her and eventually acquiesced.
Cheng Xi read over the letter once more. Then, ignoring the piles of books she had yet to go through, she called the number listed on the letter. Surprisingly, someone actually picked up, and the responder was a young male voice. When he heard Cheng Xi report Chen Jiaman’s name, he actually still remembered her. “Goodness, how long has it been since the award ceremony? You’re only replying to us now?”
“I’m sorry. I was working abroad and only received your invitation now. I just wanted to ask if Chen Jiaman actually won a prize?”
“Of course! I remember your name very well because of the big fuss the committee raised trying to find you. They called you but found that your number was discontinued, and then they wrote to you but no one replied. This time, please give me your current contact information. You won’t be able to attend the prize ceremony, of course, but we still have the certificate. Give me your address and I’ll mail it right over, and please give me a contact number for future reference. There are quite a few patrons interested in your work, and your future’s pretty bright.”
Only then was Cheng Xi able to clarify, “Sorry, but I’m not Chen Jiaman herself, though I can contact her. May I call you back later? I’ve been away for a long time, so I may need a little time to find her first.”
That person laughed upon hearing this. “She’s really a mystery, isn’t she?” But he only thought that this was one of the weird quirks of a talented artist, and before he ended the call, he instructed Cheng Xi once more, “Once you find her, please have her contact us. We have another exhibition this year, and we’d very much welcome her participation.”
Even after hanging up, Cheng Xi was still dazed.
She hurriedly pushed the pile of books aside and called Lin Fan, with Tian Rou by her side. When Tian Rou saw Lin Fan’s name in the caller ID, she was about to say something, but the call had already connected. But all Cheng Xi heard was a robotic voice state, “The phone number you’re calling has been discontinued.” Tian Rou pursed her lips and glanced at the still Lu Chenzhou before saying, “I was just about to tell you that Lin Fan changed his number. He’s a big shot businessman now, and he’s doing really well for himself.”
Cheng Xi thought back to how Lin Fan’s behavior had changed when she left, and was frankly unsurprised by his accomplishments. “Do you have his new number?”
“Yes.” Tian Rou glanced at Lu Chenzhou again, but then laughed evilly and said, “Here.”
Cheng Xi was a little excited at first, but Tian Rou’s gaze reminded her that Lu Chenzhou was still here. She didn’t call Lin Fan right away, and instead turned around and pulled on Lu Chenzhou’s hand. After Tian Rou successfully annoyed Lu Chenzhou, she felt that he might try to take revenge, so she preemptively dragged Baldy out of the house. “We still have something to do, so take your time chatting.”
Baldy was stunned by how quickly the situation had developed.
But before he could say a single word, Tian Rou had already dragged him out.
As the door closed, Cheng Xi looked at Lu Chenzhou. “Chen Jiaman won a prize.”
“This is very good news for her. With this prize, she’ll be more confident in her own drawings. It’ll also help her future, as she’ll be able to make a living off of her drawings.”
Lu Chenzhou seemed to relax when Cheng Xi said “make a living,” and he ultimately didn’t stop her from calling Lin Fan.
Lin Fan was a little surprised to receive a call from Cheng Xi, and when he heard why she was calling, he could only hesitantly say, “Jiaman… is still in the hospital.”
Cheng Xi was extremely shocked. “She’s still not out?”
It’d already been a year since she had transferred from Renyi. Cheng Xi was flummoxed—given the quality of Cai Yi’s laboratory, there was no way Chen Jiaman should have stayed there for this long.
Since Lu Chenzhou was no longer responsible for Donglai, he had also lost track of the ins and outs of Cai Yi’s laboratory. Of course, even if he did remain familiar with it, he wouldn’t have specially asked about Chen Jiaman’s situation.
The two of them immediately drove over to Cai Yi’s place. When they entered, they immediately noticed the festive air surrounding the laboratory; in this one year, quite a few new faces had appeared in the laboratory, and it took Cheng Xi a little while to find a senior she knew.
Her senior was very happy. “Cheng Xi, when did you come back? Are you here because of the news?” When she saw Lu Chenzhou, her smile tightened, and she greeted him politely. “Director Lu.”
Her senior regained her happy air at Cheng Xi’s question. “Professor Cai found the genes responsible for mental illness , and her research has garnered worldwide acclaim. Aren’t you here to congratulate her?”
1. Artistic license; there’s such a wide variety of mental illnesses that it’s unlikely that the effect can be localized to only a few genes.