T/N: Umm… A belated ‘Merry Christmas’? (；^◇^)
There will be no update next week (2 Jan 2021) because I’m going to be be busy with personal matters, but I’ll resume posting with the same schedule the week after. Stay safe and healthy, and I hope to see you all next year!
Day 08 21:23
As soon as He Zhiyuan said that, it was as though the emergency department waiting room’s bench had been automatically coated with a layer of superglue that securely stuck to Song Ran’s pants and made him unable to even yank himself away. Extremely begrudgingly, Song Ran sat there and waited. Sure enough, five minutes later, he was picked up by the person He Zhiyuan had sent.
The person who picked him up was a young doctor named Zhan Yuwen.
Dr Zhan lived up to his name; he had a refined appearance, was meticulous in his work, and was strict, conscientious, and responsible. His only shortcoming was that he was slightly bad at expressing emotions. He liked to walk with his hands in his pockets, and he was even more taciturn when he drove, only playing music and not talking at all. Song Ran tamped down the nameless anger in his stomach, wanting very much to speak ill of Mr He, but then changed his mind after some thinking. Dr Zhan was a minister sent by the enemy camp to offer amnesty, by no means a friendly force, so Song Ran had no choice but to swallow the bad words back down and gloomily settle into the back seat with a body temperature that one could try using to incubate eggs.
The street lamps along the sides of the road lit up and went dark as they zipped past the speeding car, flashing in the windows and inducing drowsiness.
Song Ran very quickly let his head hang low and held the seat belt strapped across his chest as he knocked out. In his dream, the car seemed to stop before someone woke him up, helped him out of the car, then somehow jostled him around so that once he regained a bit of awareness, he was already lying in bed.
“You’re awake? Want to vomit?”
Standing at the bedside with a cup of warm water in hand, Zhan Yuwen shook a plastic bag.
Song Ran said that he didn’t need to. Zhan Yuwen placed the cup of water on the nightstand and put away the plastic bag, then pulled out a shiny thermometer. “It’s not a big deal, this isn’t necessarily a chickenpox symptom. It may only be a fever due to a cold, so let’s take your temperature first.”
Song Ran asked, “What about Bubu?”
As soon as the base of his tongue was exposed, the thermometer was stuck in, and he gently bit down on the glass tube.
Zhan Yuwen replied, “Bubu is sleeping in his own home tonight, and Lin Hui is in charge of taking care of him. He won’t be able to come over until we’ve clarified your history of chickenpox.”
“Oh.” Song Ran’s mood was somewhat downcast as he quietly slid beneath the duvet. “Dr Zhan, thank you for today.”
Zhan Yuwen casually shrugged, “No problem. I’m President He’s family doctor, so taking care of you and Bubu is my proper work.”
The way he said it was completely natural, but Song Ran awkwardly turned his head—how come this sentence sounded so strange?
Pretending he didn’t see Song Ran’s embarrassed look, Zhan Yuwen asked, “Is it possible to sleep on your sofa?”
Song Ran could tell that he intended to stay for the night, so he hurriedly said, “No need, no need, you can go home to rest. I’m doing pretty well now, but if by any chance something happens, I’ll contact you!”
“Well, the situation is like this.” Zhan Yuwen lightly cleared his throat a couple times, then stuck both hands into his pockets and bent down from the waist, coming close to Song Ran’s ear to murmur, “That Miss Lin of yours, her personality is really very cute. I had just eaten a serving of her home-made omelette rice, but I haven’t had enough, so I still want to mooch a few more meals.”
Astonishment showed on Song Ran’s face, and he nearly bit down hard enough to break the thermometer in his mouth.
This upstanding and aloof doctor was actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Zhan Yuwen took off his ‘sheepskin’ and blinked his sly fox eyes at Song Ran. “For the sake of my personal happiness, I’ll be counting on you to keep this secret for me.”
Song Ran: “O-okay.”
In any case, Dr Zhan was a straight man at the very least. To Lin Hui, who had pursued three gay guys in a row, being able to attract a straight man who would take the initiative to pursue her was already not an easy feat.
He couldn’t break up this pair of lovebirds. He absolutely couldn’t!
To Song Ran, Zhan Yuwen’s likeability rose straight back up to eighty points, and he amicably tossed an olive branch. “The sofa is too uncomfortable. How about you sleep in my bed? I’ll give you half of it.”
The alarm bells in Zhan Yuwen’s ears clamoured; he thought, Where would I get the audacity to share the same bed with you? Wouldn’t President He tear me a new one?
Zhan Yuwen’s misunderstanding of Song Ran and He Zhiyuan’s relationship deepened a little more. He made the excuse that he couldn’t sleep comfortably in other people’s beds and politely declined without revealing anything. Song Ran could only withdraw the invitation, after which he pulled out the thermometer, pointed to the wardrobe, and said, “There’s a duvet and pillow inside. Pad the sofa a bit when you sleep. If it’s cold at night, you can turn on the heating, and the remote control for it is inside the coffee table drawer. By the way, protect your face well—my cat is rather temperamental, so when it gets hungry in the morning, it may step on your face.”
“Of course, of course.”
Zhan Yuwen thoughtlessly agreed, not actually paying attention to this sincere advice. He accepted the thermometer and scanned the degree mark, threw Song Ran a glance that said ‘don’t worry, you won’t die’, then turned around and pulled out the bedding from the wardrobe. With one hand carrying the duvet over his shoulder and the other hand shoved into his pocket, he very dashingly left.
As the saying went, illnesses strike like a landslide, but recovery is as slow as reeling silk.
After Song Ran received the antipyretic shot this evening, his temperature initially plummeted, then rocketed back up; it was as if he was thrown into the refrigerator and then the oven in turns. His temperature continued to change abruptly all night long, to the point where he was basically crippled.
In the early morning of the second day, a shrill scream pierced through Song Ran’s eardrums, startling him into sitting bolt upright. Bright stars flashed before his eyes and large, chaotic spots appeared in the wall, changing shape and overlapping with each other, making him dizzy and nauseous.
If one were to make him look at his own painting palette right now, he probably wouldn’t even be able to distinguish between red and green.
The room door opened and the little whirlwind Bubu charged in. He jumped onto the bed as though he were a bouncy ball, threw himself into Song Ran’s arms, and pouted, “Big Brother, since I didn’t see you for a whole night, I missed you so much!”
The child’s face had a few new breakouts that had been coated with white ointment, which made him look exactly like an affectionate spotted puppy.
Song Ran held him steadily, smiling as he said, “Big Brother also missed you very much.”
In the living room, Zhan Yuwen’s loud scream hadn’t yet stopped, but his panting broke it into segments; he seemed to be out of breath. Lin Hui was heartlessly laughing out loud at his side, sounding as though she were taking pleasure in his misfortune.
Song Ran suspected that it was because Bu Doudou had stepped on Zhan Yuwen’s face early in the morning, or more straightforwardly just sat down on his face.
This kind of thing had really happened before.
As he was thinking, the suspect gracefully leapt onto the bed and stepped on the pillow as it walked to his side, its pair of azure eyes staring at him very haughtily; within them, there was no sense of guilt whatsoever. Seeing that Song Ran was unmoving, Bu Doudou meowed twice, lowered its head, and posed as though it were about to forcefully charge over.
Before the comet could strike the earth, Song Ran reacted in the nick of time, swiftly directing Bubu to open a can of tuna.
With a twitch of its nose, Bu Doudou turned into an arrow that left its bowstring, leaving to chase the aroma of the can.
That was a close call.
This comet weighed twelve jin; he narrowly avoided getting hurt from the collision.
Two minutes later, Song Ran realised that Zhan Yuwen’s tragic scream was very likely faked and that its purpose was merely to make Lin Hui laugh. The reason was because when Zhan Yuwen walked into the bedroom with a fried dough stick dangling from his mouth and locked eyes with Bu Doudou, who was crouching nearby as it ate, that face of his was calmly contemptuous, and he completely treated the cat as if it were merely air.
That was also right; how could a serious doctor like him, who had even dissected many corpses before, possibly be afraid of a single cat?
With Dr Zhan’s way of thinking, his zodiac sign should be the cat.
The ‘cat-like’ Zhan Yuwen gave Song Ran a simple health check-up and concluded that although he had a severe cold, he could pretty much eliminate the possibility of chickenpox, but Song Ran still couldn’t relax. Zhan Yuwen sat down at the side of the bed, telling him, “You’ve previously gotten chickenpox in November 2002, so you have antibodies. Even though you’re not completely immune, Bubu’s symptoms are very light, so the likelihood of infection isn’t high.”
Song Ran felt puzzled. “How do you know?”
Zhan Yuwen spread his hands out in a shrug. “I don’t know, but your family’s President He knows. He checked it for you yesterday.”
Song Ran rubbed at his own hot forehead, even more unable to understand.
He had said before that he didn’t have parents and had come from a welfare institution, but didn’t disclose any more information. Mr He didn’t even know where he was originally from, so how could he find out his medical history?
Seeing him frown, Zhan Yuwen couldn’t help feeling amused. “Are you doubting President He’s strength? Let’s put it this way—with just a computer and a network cable, there’s no data that our President He can’t find, including your medical history.”
“My… my medical history?!”
Song Ran’s eyes opened wide, his face froze and turned white, and his brain exploded.
Zhan Yuwen didn’t notice his abrupt change in expression and continued by saying, “President He is an expert in data security. In other words, his hacking skills are also top-notch. Last night, as soon as he hung up the phone, he thought of a way to find your medical history. Relax, you have chickenpox antibodies, so the risk of getting it again is very small.”
Song Ran nodded dully, then abruptly clammed up.
He didn’t say anything more. Hands gripping the bedding, he curled up and burrowed into the warm, soft, and dark place. He covered his face and hugged his knees, forming a ball; his entire body trembled slightly.
Concealed within his medical history was a secret that he didn’t want to show to anyone.
It wasn’t too severe of an illness.
Song Ran comforted himself countless times by saying it was just that he had been sick for too long and couldn’t properly recover, so it would flare up occasionally and disrupt his life a little. But he already understood how to exercise the utmost restraint and cover it up with great care so that others would never realise and so that he would very rarely be subjected to curious gazes again.
But he specifically didn’t want Mr He to know this secret.
He was already no longer as good as he used to be.
Supposing a perfect child had tiny flaws, he would still be loved by others. On the other hand, for a child with numerous flaws and already lingering on the edge of acceptance or rejection, if yet another unsatisfactory thing appeared…
Nobody knew what would happen in the end.
Song Ran thought of himself as a matryoshka doll, completely hidden beneath seven or eight gorgeous shells. Since meeting Bubu, he began to lose control of his situation; the shells were pried open one at a time until he was laid bare before Mr He, unable to hide his true appearance any longer.
That afternoon, Song Ran’s sleep was particularly restless.
He had a series of vivid and strange nightmares that came one after another, not giving him any room to catch his breath at all.
In his dream, the winding corridors and faded doors of the welfare institution transformed into a twisting kaleidoscope that extended from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head, layer upon layer endlessly flashing before his eyes and filled with a suffocating hopelessness. Unable to tell which direction was which, he desperately fled, running to the point of exhaustion until he accidentally seized upon a ray of light.
He ran towards that ray of light and broke through his confines, but then his footsteps suddenly stopped again.
In front of his eyes was an ‘apple exhibition room’—a place where parents seeking to adopt came to meet with orphans. He had come here a few times before, but since the last time when he had quarrelled and left on a bad note, he never again had the opportunity to go inside.
Separated by a thin pane of glass, he saw Mr He sitting within while holding Bubu, conversing with the welfare institution’s teacher.
“We’re missing a family member. We heard he was here, so we’ve come to bring him home.”
Mr He gently explained his purpose for coming.
But the welfare institution teacher calmly shook her head. “I’m sorry, he isn’t here.”
I’m clearly right here!
Afraid that they would pass each other by, Song Ran became unbearably anxious and wanted to reach out and push the door open. Before his fingers could touch the doorknob, an invisible force suddenly seized his shirt collar and forcefully dragged him backwards. The ‘apple exhibition room’ drew further and further away from him until, at last, he once again fell into that garish and terrifying kaleidoscope and was wrapped up in the long corridors that were like threads of spider silk and engulfed by a pitch-black doorway.
Wooden window frames, rusted fencing, and metal-framed bunk beds.
The sunlight was dim, and water leaked in at the corners.
This was the place where he had lived for ten years.
Upon hearing the sound of a padlock, he madly leapt over to bang on the door, banging until the vibrations caused dust to fall off of the walls. But the ice-cold voice outside proclaimed its verdict, telling him, You no longer have any chances left. We can’t take the risk and have you show another relapse in front of this father-and-son pair.
They don’t need a rotten apple.
Song Ran, did you know? That cute little boy wanted a genuinely bright and cheerful older brother—a real one, not one who puts on an act while suppressing a melancholy heart. And Mr He, merely by standing there, would attract countless envious gazes. All kinds of high-quality men and women walked past He Zhiyuan. He lifted his hands, and other people came to snuggle up in his arms.
You don’t have an education, savings, or even a healthy state of mind. How could you be worthy of that coveted position?
We’ll eventually find a matching good apple to complete his family.
On the other hand, you must stay here all by yourself.
Watch them from afar.