A gust of early winter wind bent the branches and made the leaves rustle.
At the end of the hospital corridor, Yi Hui leaned against the window, looking at the bright red words “in operation”. He was wearing a cotton-padded coat and holding a bottle of hot water but his heart seemed to be still in the cold trunk, his heartbeat silent.
The scene that constantly replayed in front of was the one when the refrigerator truck braked sharply, the cargo trunk door was pried open, and light shone in – Zhou Jinheng covered in blood, motionless, his eyebrows and eyelashes laced with frost. He still was holding him. The police and doctor worked together for a long time before separating them.
In the ambulance, he held Zhou Jinheng’s hand that was still clenched in a fist, bringing it to his mouth to breathe on it. He soaked it with hot water, but Zhou Jinheng didn’t respond. He panicked and wanted to cry again. The cold, stiff bluish fingers suddenly stretched out and the eyelashes trembled. Then his eyes opened into two slits. Lying on the cart, Zhou Jinheng struggled several times and couldn’t manage a smile. Through the oxygen mask, he said two words just moving his lips – don’t cry.
Yi Hui held back his tears. He didn’t cry when Zhou Jinheng was sent into the operating room. He didn’t cry when he raised his hand and saw the blood melting in his palm, and he didn’t cry when the doctor came out and issued a medical emergency notice.
“The knife is very long. It went from the back through the ribcage and straight into the chest cavity, only two centimetres short of the heart. Although there was no secondary injury and the coagulation was accelerated because of the low temperature, the patient has a deep wound, large trauma, and a large amount of blood in the chest cavity, and is still being resuscitated, so please, the family needs to be prepared.”
After listening to this relatively easy-to-understand description, Yi Hui nodded in a daze and suddenly grabbed the doctor’s arm when he turned around and was about to go in again: “Please save him.”
He was only 23 years old. He just got the best actor award last year. Many, many people like him. He should be greeted by a bright future full of flowers, not a cold operating table.
These things Yi Hui did not say; who among those here did not want to live, and crying would not bring more vitality for the man in the operating room. But just thinking like this got him so sad that he could not breathe.
Besides, apart from these things, the more important point was that he didn’t want him to die, he wanted him to live well.
He even began to regret not agreeing earlier, preferring to procrastinate until the moment before Zhou Jinheng closed his eyes. Even if this disaster might really be the fate of him and Zhou Jinheng, at least there would be no regrets.
What’s more, he had always loved him, from beginning to end, and never stopped.
This powerless resistance, lingering hesitation, vague pain in the dead of night, all these stirring emotions were because he still loved him.
Yi Hui also had injuries on his body. In addition to the abrasions left by the rope on his wrists, he was also hit on the head by a blunt object. The doctor recommended that he stayed in the hospital for a few days for observation. He couldn’t stay in the ward and ran to the door of the operating room to guard.
In Yi Hui’s world, time was dragging out very slowly; this period of time was the longest road he had travelled in his life. People came and went and his ears were filled with a cacophony of voices, but none of them would stay, none of them lasting.
The first to arrive was Zhou Jinheng’s assistant Xiao Lin. Yi Hui had dealt with him a few times in his previous life. He asked him to remind Zhou Jinheng to remember to go home after finishing work. Although it didn’t work, Yi Hui remembered that he solemnly agreed at that time. As a stranger who had only met him once, he was kind enough.
Zhou Jinheng probably didn’t tell Xiao Lin about his identity, or he didn’t believe him. When Xiao Lin saw Yi Hui, his eyes were a little puzzled. But because they had exchanged a few words on the phone before, he still shook hands with him politely. After greeting him, he asked about Zhou Jinheng’s condition. Yi Hui repeated what the doctor said, and Xiao Lin frowned, showing a worried expression.
“If someone claiming to be from the crew comes later, ignore them, I will coordinate it and deal with it. When he comes out, just let him rest at ease.”
Yi Hui nodded.
Before leaving, Xiao Lin thought of something and said, “I’m going to buy you something to eat. You should also take care of your health. He does not want to see you like this.”
Yi Hui didn’t quite understand it and didn’t know what he looked like now.
Xiao Lin explained: “Before he left last night, he told me to take good care of you. He must have expected that there might be danger.”
Yi Hui asked, “Did he say anything else?”
Xiao Lin thought about it and recalled the conversation they had while drinking. “He also said that he would live well with you in the future and would not let you suffer grievances again.”
Later, there were a few more waves of people, a few friends left flowers, said some words and left.
Zhou Jinheng’s father, Zhou Huarong, stayed for a while. When he heard that his son was still being resuscitated, he cursed that the level of medical care here was not good. He insisted on transferring Zhou Jinheng to another hospital. Only after being persuaded by the nurse did he stop making noise in front of the operating room.
Yi Hui hadn’t seen his nominal father-in-law for a long time. He only remembered that this middle-aged man had a very kind attitude towards him. Now that he thought about it, it must have been because he needed support from the Yi family so he had to treat him well on the surface. Zhou Jinheng hated Zhou Huarong, but he looked so much like him, maybe that’s why he hated him even more. Back then, he even went so far as to use their relationship to disobey him and cause him discomfort.
When Zhou Huarong saw how similar the man in front of him was to the former Yi Hui, his imposing momentum shrank down a little. Learning that the police had already come for a statement, the three bandits had also been caught and they were tracking down the mastermind behind them, Zhou Huarong nodded, as if he was quite satisfied with Yi Hui’s handling of the matter.
The operating light went out, Zhou Jinheng was pushed out of the operating room and went directly into the ICU. The doctor said that the operation was successful, but the patient had lost too much blood and was still in a coma, and he was not out of danger for the time being.
Yi Hui was the first to go in. He changed into an isolation suit, put on a mask and went in to confirm that the knife sticking out of Zhou Jinheng’s back was gone. He didn’t understand the beeping machines next to him. With the doctor’s consent, he carefully touched Zhou Jinhelng’s wrist and felt a weak but steady pulse. Only then was he able to breathe a sigh of relief.
When he came out, he met someone unexpected.
Ye Qin rushed up first and checked him all over, holding his shoulders. He didn’t see any serious injuries, just his hands were extremely cold.
Yi Hui refused to go to the ward to rest, so they had to sit here. Ye Qin put an insulated bucket he brought on the window sill and opened it. He filled a bowl with hot soup. Yi Hui obediently accepted it, took a spoon and delivered it to his mouth, saying, “It’s delicious, thank you, sister-in-law.”
Ye Qin was slightly stunned, then he smiled, turned to look at Cheng Feichi, and then turned his gaze back to Yi Hui.
“You… what can I say about you.” Ye Qin raised his hand and squeezed his cheek. His voice was angry, but the corners of his eyes were filled with tears.
Before he had time to have a good chat with his brother and sister-in-law, Cheng Feichi was pulled aside by Zhou Huarong to talk, and then Auntie also came from home. Only then did Yi Hui know that it was dawn outside.
“You were fine when you went out yesterday morning, how come it turned out like this overnight.” Auntie took Yi Hui’s hand, wiping away her tears, “I will burn incense for Mr. Zhou and ask the Bodhisattva to deliver him from danger sooner.”
This reminded Yi Hui that Zhou Jinheng had made a wish for him to achieve everything he wanted. He hurriedly closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. After a few words of meditation, he opened his eyes and met Ye Qin’s gaze.
“Forgave him?” Ye Qin asked bluntly.
Yi Hui was about to answer, but Ye Qin took the lead: “Forget it, forget it, it was your business to forgive him or not and we are not qualified to intervene.”
Cheng Feichi walked over, and Yi Hui called him “Brother” in a dull voice, full of both grievances and guilt.
He guessed that his brother was angry; angry that he was alive but did not come back to recognize him, angry that he could have avoided the tragedy but was determined to go on.
He was also angry at him for being useless, saying that he would never look back but still choosing the old road halfway, giving up the fresh scenery in front of him and also causing so many people to feel sad for him.
Who could have thought that Cheng Feichi didn’t blame him, he just raised his hand and touched the top of his hair as before, and said, “If he still dares to treat you badly, make sure you tell your brother. You are not allowed to protect him anymore.”
After living for two lifetimes, Yi Hui realized for the first time that receiving visitors was so tiring.
In the afternoon of the day when Zhou Jinheng changed from the ICU to the general ward, Yi Hui sent off another group of visitors from the crew and went to the ward where Tang Wenxi was. Tang Wenxi’s mother said he woke up for a while at noon, ate and went back to sleep, and it was a coincidence that every time Yi Hui came over he was sleeping.
Tang Wenxi had an injury in the back of his head. The doctor said that the blood congestion oppressed the nerves and he would have to stay in the hospital for a few days for observation. His parents were reasonable people. Not only did they not blame Yi Hui for their son’s injury, but they also told him that Tang Wenxi talked about him every time he woke up, and repeatedly asked if he was okay.
Tang Wenxi’s family lived in the capital and it was not convenient to take care of him in the hospital in S City. His parents planned to transfer him to the capital hospital in two days.
Yi Hui sat there for a while and was about to leave. Mother Tang pulled him aside: “Xiao Tang often calls a name in his dreams, his surname seems to be Yang. Xiao Jiang, do you know who Classmate Yang is?”
Yi Hui didn’t expect Tang Wenxi to not mention something about Yang Chengxuan in front of his parents. He must have felt insecure about this relationship, knew that at any time it could fall apart and simply did not say anything not to make his parents worry.
Walking along the corridor smelling of disinfectant, Yi Hui took out Zhou Jinheng’s mobile phone, hesitated for a while but still didn’t call Yang Chengxuan.
He remembered the last words Tang Wenxi said to him. He said that he hadn’t thought about him anymore. Yi Hui felt that it would be a good thing if he could really stop thinking about him. Besides, if the man was forced to come here against his will, Tang Wenxi would not be happy.
Back in the ward, he wanted to put Zhou Jinheng’s mobile phone at his bedside, but accidentally pressed the side button. The screen suddenly lit up. Seeing his own old selfie, Yi Hui froze.
This was obviously not the first time he had seen it. He had seen it when he dialled the phone in the refrigerator truck yesterday and several times at home when he watched Zhou Jinheng pick up the phone.
He just chose to pretend not to notice, and now he dared to look directly, and dared to admit that the man in the photo was him.
He couldn’t remember his mood at that time. He was probably giggling with joy. Maybe he was presumptuously imagining what Zhou Jinheng would look like when he took the phone and saw this selfie.
At this moment, he couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t imagine how Zhou Jinheng kept this lock screen wallpaper for more than a year after he left, for more than a year after he became Jiang Yihui. Every time he turned on the phone and saw this smiling face, was he feeling more happy or more sad?
It was as if someone who had been hungry for a long time was holding the last piece of candy. He knew that it was poisonous, but he still couldn’t help but peel it off, lick it carefully and bite it little by little, letting the poison invade his body ecstatically, going to his death.
No one knew the taste of this addiction better than Yi Hui.
Yi Hui held Zhou Jinheng’s hand; in just a few days, this always strong body quickly lost weight, his face was bloodless and the hand that held him and gave him endless warmth became fragile and weak.
“It’s time for you to wake up, wake up quickly.” Yi Hui pressed the back of his hand to his face and rubbed it slowly, “If you don’t wake up, I will hate you forever.”
On the fifth day of hospitalisation, the police came again, asking some questions that were missed before, and informing them of the case progress.
As Yi Hui expected, only one of the masterminds behind the three bandits was found. It was Artist A who now lived in S City. The motive for the crime was that the plagiarism incident last year ruined his reputation. A while ago, he accidentally learned that Yi Hui was in S City, so he was tempted to retaliate and privately paid these three people to rectify Yi Hui.
Tang Wenxi and Zhou Jinheng were both victims involved in this case for no reason. The fat bandit confessed that he stabbed Zhou Jinheng with a knife impulsively but he didn’t expect that someone would almost die.
At this point, the incident was generally clear. Zhou Jinheng was a public figure. Him being attacked and injured by gangsters caused an uproar on the Internet. This case was going to be dealt with impartially and without delay. Yi Hui hesitated again and again, but still did not tell the police about the possibility of another mastermind.
The man obviously had the intention to hide and the police handled the case on the basis of evidence. It was useless to say things without evidence, unless the man showed up by himself.
Yi Hui envisioned countless possibilities, but what he didn’t expect was that Fang Yuqing would step into the ward with flowers in his hands less than half an hour after the police left, with an expression of unfailing gentleness on his face and no trace of shame.
“How is he?” Fang Yuqing asked when he entered the door.
Yi Hui ignored him, but he didn’t seem annoyed. He walked over, removed a few roses placed at the head of the bed and inserted the lilies he had brought: “Jinheng likes white.”
Yi Hui sat in a chair, peeling an apple. He had learnt it from Auntie recently and now he could peel a whole apple in one go.
Fang Yuqing sat down on the chair next to him: “Do you usually do this by his side?”
Yi Hui was not stupid and could hear the contempt in Fang Yuqing’s tone.
He thought that the heart of this seemingly kind man must have been turning upside down. He hated Zhou Jinheng for being blind, first falling for a fool and then finding a substitute. He also hated that he had carefully deployed a big drama but did not achieve the expected effect. He complained and vented his anger, but he never once felt that he had done something wrong.
A man who is too proud always thinks that everything in the world should revolve around him, and he should just stand there and wait. When he is tired and wants to turn his head, he hooks his finger and what he wants will come back to him.
Yi Hui had seen a lot of such people. Zhou Jinheng was like that in the past, and Fang Yuqing now was in front of him.
The difference was that the man called Yi Hui was stupid and naive, so he couldn’t stand the temptation and was coaxed back. But Zhou Jinheng was different. He kept his word; the oath he made with blood and the promise he left behind were Yi Hui’s confidence.
“I don’t do this often.” Yi Hui said, “He wanted me to stay with him and said I could do anything as long as I was under his watch.”
Fang Yuqing’s expression was hideous for a moment and then quickly returned to neutral: “You must have heard my name. I am his ex-boyfriend, but there was another one after me and before you. I’m afraid you haven’t even heard of him.”
Yi Hui knew that Fang Yuqing meant to intimidate him but unfortunately he used the wrong method. Apart from an “oh”, he really didn’t know what else he could say in response.
After his provocations failed to irritate him, Fang Yuqing couldn’t keep losing face and got up to leave.
Yi Hui originally planned to be silent to the end, cutting the apple into small pieces and putting it on a plate. Then he looked at the fruit knife in his hand and remembered the long knife that almost pierced Zhou Jinheng’s heart, and his heart trembled.
People who acted to satisfy their own personal desires without regard for the lives of others, such people he despised the most.
“I don’t know if Mr. Fang believes in karma or not, but I quite believe in it.” Yi Hui said slowly, “Also, Zhou Jinheng doesn’t like lilies now. He likes roses because I gave them to him.”
After Fang Yuqing had been gone for a long time, Yi Hui’s hands were still shaking uncontrollably.
In fact, he was very scared, especially knowing that Fang Yuqing was one of the masterminds. Those last two sentences were the sharpest words he, the ever-timid man, could say under pressure.
He held Zhou Jinheng’s hand in an attempt to relieve his tension and anxiety. He put his head against Zhou Jinheng’s shoulder, but fearing to touch the wound, he only dared to lean lightly.
He maintained this position for a long time, until a big dry hand slowly clenched his fingers back. Yi Hui, who was in a daze and couldn’t quite distinguish between reality and dreams, suddenly raised his head and met Zhou Jinheng’s dark eyes. His mind was blank for a while, and he couldn’t say anything.
“I had a dream.” Zhou Jinheng said weakly, “I dreamed that I was dead and my heart was robbed.”
Yi Hui’s eyes rounded, as if he was frightened by this description; he could only shake his head in amazement.
The corner of Zhou Jinheng’s mouth curved a soft arc: “It’s okay, I stole it back again.”
When Yi Hui heard it, his expression eased a little, and then he pursed his lips in dissatisfaction, as if to say – you said you had me in your heart but you still stole it back.
In his imagination, they hugged and cried bitterly, looking at each other tearfully, never parting for the rest of their life, but the arrival of medical staff did not let that happen.
The doctors and nurses came and went in a hurry. The oxygen mask was removed, Yi Hui fed Zhou Jinheng water, and when he turned to put the cup down, his wrist was pulled. Zhou Jinheng continued the topic just now and said, “I also dreamed that you kissed me.”
Taking into account what he said as soon as he woke up, Yi Hui only thought that he had lost too much blood and his brain was hypoxic. He didn’t bother with him: “I didn’t.”
He denied it, but bit his lips secretly with his back turned to the hospital bed and the tips of his ears flushed quietly.
“Oh, really?” Zhou Jinheng said noncommittally, still holding his hand. A smile climbed up to the corners of his eyes, “Then you can kiss me again. I will compare it with the one in the dream to see if it was true.”