For the next few days, Shi Yan didn’t see He Nuo again. Wang Feng and Qiu Linsong both have a huge bone to pick with He Nuo. They thought that He Nuo was being way too arrogant, how could he be a friend like that? It’s not as if Shi Yan had killed his father so it was impossible for the two of them to live under the same sky.
But what about He Nuo? Was he really indifferent? If he could really be stone-hearted and stand as strong as an impregnable fortress, then an invisible fire wouldn’t have been ignited in him. He Nuo didn’t blame Shi Yan’s mother for what she did, and wouldn’t bother with her impolite words. He Nuo didn’t plan to visit Shi Yan again anyway even without her obstruction and rejection. Because in Shi Yan’s words: their misunderstandings have just been resolved, so they shouldn’t meet up right now.
He Nuo may look gentle and weak, but he definitely wouldn’t drag his affairs through mud and water. How could he not be concerned about Shi Yan’s illness? And how could he not hope that he would recover as soon as possible? But if he went to see him, then they would inevitably continue to be entangled with one another. He Nuo can forgive a betrayer, but he would not forget the betrayal. Because that suffering was worse than poison that could penetrate one’s intestines — poison can kill and relieve its sufferer with death, but this emotional wound wouldn’t kill you. Instead, it would instead seize your soul, and a life without one’s soul was even worse than death.
Because Wang Feng and Qiu Linsong both have bones to pick with He Nuo, they wouldn’t go and look for him. When they discussed it among themselves privately, they both thought that they had been proven wrong — He Nuo was also an asshole who would secure his personal gains through trickery. Isn’t he treating Shi Yan so coldly like this just because he was guaranteed a pass in his exams this year?They believed that He Nuo would be able to get into a pretty good college, so Shi Yan should be of no value to him anymore. Under this sort of circumstance, looking for He Nuo meant that they were begging him on behalf of Shi Yan — they refused to do something so low-class. Even if He Nuo wasn’t around, Shi Yan still had their gang to stay with him anyway.
Because of this misunderstanding, He Nuo had zero news regarding Shi Yan. At first, he thought that Wang and Qiu would contact him through the phone, so he would at least be able to know how Shi Yan was doing recently, but he didn’t get a single call. So He Nuo kept suppressing and suppressing the anxiety in his heart, but in the end, he still couldn’t endure it. When he woke up this morning, several ulcers had appeared around He Nuo’s mouth and his throat was swollen. He took some anti-inflammatory medication and ate porridge for a day, but his condition got worse the next day. His ulcers spread all the way to his tongue, and his throat was so swollen that he couldn’t even swallow any food and he felt like his eardrums were about to be squeezed out.
He Nuo couldn’t eat his lunch at noon — even porridge had become hard to swallow. His tongue would sting with a sharp pain whenever it came into contact with any sort of food, so He Nuo lost his appetite and decided not to eat. His family thought that he was worried about his college entrance examination results, so they offered him some words of consolation. His family wasn’t worried at all. He Nuo’s results during his mock examinations have always been at the top of his cohort, so even if he couldn’t get into a key college, getting into a standard college shouldn’t be a problem. Also, after the example answers were out, the score that He Nuo calculated made them feel very satisfied. But He Nuo’s personality required him to have some reservations, so the score he told his family was 40 points lower than what he had calculated.
He Nuo was lying on his bed when he heard his family ask him to take a call. He immediately jumped up and went over. At this time, He Nuo’s throat was completely swollen, and his vocal chords sounded like it would tear apart if he talked, so it was very difficult for him to make a sound. So when he thought that it was either Qiu or Wang on the phone, he immediately said “un” with a nasal voice when he picked up the call.
“……” It was Shi Yan. The He Nuo who was separated from him by a phone stiffened up a little.
“He Nuo? He Nuo?”
The sound of him exhaling deeply travelled through the phone, “I miss you.”
“Come and see me, will you?”
“I should go and look for you, but I can’t walk too far. Is it ok if you come instead?”
“Please. I miss you.”
“I’ll wait for you in the garden1. Nuonuo, I miss you.” Shi Yan put down the phone.
The hand that He Nuo held the phone with was trembling. A hazy fog could be seen in his eyes.
When He Nuo arrived at the hospital, he rushed straight to the garden at the back. He didn’t see Shi Yan. He looked for Shi Yan’s ward based on his memories — the ward was empty. Thus, he returned to the garden again. When He Nuo was turning round and round as he searched for Shi Yan, he bumped into a pair of middle-aged men and women who were walking over anxiously. The woman’s eyes met with He Nuo’s. He Nuo tugged the corner of his lips up slightly and said with a broken voice, “Hello, Auntie.”
The woman frowned in disgust, “Didn’t I tell you not to come look for Shi Yan anymore? Don’t you know he’s sick? You can display your hospitality some other time, can’t you just let him rest for now?”
The man looked at this scene doubtfully.
The woman explained, “I don’t know who he is either, the last time he came he hung onto Xiao Yan and kept gabbling on and on to him. How could Xiao Yan have the energy to talk that much now? I told him not to come harass him anymore, but look at him trying to stick onto him again.”
“What do you want from him? The man asked rudely.
He Nuo wanted to tell them that it was Shi Yan who called him, but his voice was extremely hard to understand because of his throat as he slowly said, “I didn’t want…….(to look for him),” He had just said those three words when the other two didn’t have the patience to listen to him any further. The man shouted angrily at him, “If you don’t want anything from him, then what the fuck are you doing here? Do you understand what being considerate means? What kind of a fucker are you?”
You couldn’t say that He Nuo was shocked — he should be shocked at the fact that this person who was probably Shi Yan’s father could say such words; but you couldn’t say He Nuo was calm either, because he saw Shi Yan standing behind the couple who didn’t budge an inch.
Shi Yan’s mother didn’t know that Shi Yan was standing behind her of course. She stole the chance to rebuke He Nuo from her husband, “Shi Yan isn’t someone who would associate with just any sort of trash — all sorts of fragrant and stinky trash always want to bask in his…….”
“Who’s fragrant? Who’s stinky? Why don’t you tell me?!” As soon as Shi Yan spoke, his parents were so startled that their expressions changed, but a smile immediately spread across their faces, “We came to deliver your favourite food……”
Shi Yan pushed aside his mother’s hand and interrupted her gentle voice, “What did you guys say just now? Repeat it for me one more time!”
“Just look, it’s such a sweltering afternoon. Your classmate who came to see you must be sweating all over because of the sun. We just didn’t want him to suffer too much.” This mother was extremely capable of lying without blinking an eye, but this angered the Shi Yan who had witnessed the latter half of their confrontation.
“Say that one more time!” Shi Yan was so angry the veins on his neck were popping out.
It was at this time that He Nuo went to hold onto Shi Yan. He didn’t appreciate the words and actions of Shi Yan’s parents, but his habit of respecting his elders prevented him from accepting how Shi Yan was treating his parents. When Shi Yan’s father saw this situation, he realised that his son was really infuriated so he quickly mediated the dispute.
When there were only the two of them left, Shi Yan took He Nuo’s hand and tried to pull him out of the hospital, but He Nuo dragged him back to his ward instead. Shi Yan’s vitality had really been affected because of his high fever that persisted for half a month. He was extremely weak, and was wheezing by the time he got back to his ward. He Nuo saw the food on the table as he supported Shi Yan to sit down. Shi Yan naturally wanted to eat together with him, but He Nuo shook his head. This was when Shi Yan realised that He Nuo hadn’t spoken a single word yet, so he asked through his irregular breaths, “You’re not willing to talk to me?”
He Nuo looked at Shi Yan’s miserable expression and answered, “Throat.”
As soon as Shi Yan heard that broken voice, he understood. He sat next to He Nuo and touched his forehead, “Are you sick again? Do you have a fever?”
He Nuo’s forehead was cooler than Shi Yan’s hand. Shi Yan felt its coolness before he awkwardly withdrew his hand, “I forgot. I can’t tell your temperature now.”
He Nuo felt both sourness and bitterness from the bottom of his heart. He forced himself to pull himself together before he slowly said word by word, “Do you feel better?”
“Un, my temperature began to drop yesterday, it doesn’t go over 39 degrees now. I feel much better today. I took my temperature after my infusion in the afternoon and it was only 38 degrees. Don’t worry, I can be discharged in a few days.”
He Nuo nodded, then pushed the bowl of rice towards Shi Yan to motion for him to eat. Shi Yan used his spoon to scoop up one mouthful and placed it near He Nuo’s mouth.
“Swallow, hurts, won’t eat.”
“What happened? Was it caused by a flu?”
Shi Yan looked steadily at He Nuo for awhile. His eyelids drooped, “You were worried about me.” This wasn’t a question, but a statement.
He Nuo didn’t express anything. He neither nodded nor shook his head, he merely persuaded Shi Yan, “Eat first, you’ll feel better.”
Shi Yan picked up an apple at the edge, then cut it open. He scraped it with a steel spoon and its pulp turned into puree as it was scraped off layer by layer. He scraped out half a spoonful of pulp and sent it next to He Nuo’s mouth, “Eat it in small bites. It might hurt a bit, but you have to eat.?Un, you’re already sick in the first place.”
Throughout this meal, Shi Yan ate his own meal with chopsticks while he fed He Nuo the apple puree with his spoon. Neither of them brought up their unpleasant past.