Sui Yang’s visit to Yuhai included not only accompanying his mother to Baoqi Garden but also having other business matters to attend to.
The following day, Sui Yang had a full schedule. He had made plans with Xie Min’s assistant, Chi Yuan, to visit Renshan Hospital in the morning of the third day in Yuhai.
Xie Min didn’t want to spend the entire day by Sui Yang’s side, so he requested to stay in the hotel room.
Sui Yang didn’t force Xie Min to accompany him for work. He left a mobile phone for him and instructed him to call him using voice control if he needed anything. He also asked the secretary to inform the hotel staff not to enter his room for cleaning.
Struggling with the remote control, Xie Min opened web pages on the television screen to browse through the recent news in Yuhai.
Yuhai City remained calm and peaceful after Xie Min’s departure.
Xie Min’s father took charge of the company and stabilized the employees’ morale. The company’s stock price showed a slight recovery.
Xie Cheng, still on the brink of bankruptcy, got involved with a minor celebrity and was captured in photographs. A bar owner publicly shared chat records, mocking Xie Cheng for having money to pursue celebrities but not paying the owed fees and debts, causing a significant embarrassment.
Xie Min watched with keen interest, feeling a twinge of regret that she couldn’t personally taunt Xie Cheng at the family gathering. He also pondered whether his father would eventually settle Xie Cheng’s outstanding debt.
At two o’clock in the afternoon, Sui Yang suddenly called Xie Min. Struggling with voice control, Xie Min accidentally hung up on Sui Yang. He quickly redialed, and this time, Sui Yang answered right away. Not knowing how to activate the speaker function, Xie Min tilted the sleek phone screen and pressed his ear against the receiver. He could hear Sui Yang’s voice saying, “Xie Min, you hung up on me.”
“It was just a mistake, don’t jump to conclusions,” Xie Min defended himself against the accusation. “What do you need?”
“My work ended earlier than expected,” Sui Yang informed him. “I just contacted Assistant Chi and changed our visitation time. I’m coming to pick you up now to go to Renshan Hospital.”
Sui Yang returned to the room shortly afterward.
In the morning, it seemed he had visited some factory, maybe even the workshop. He appeared dusty and disheveled, with traces of dirt on his coat. He quickly took a shower, changed his clothes, and then took Xie Min out with him.
They arrived at the hospital a little after three o’clock in the afternoon. However, since it was winter, the sun was barely visible in the pale gray sky.
It was still the twelfth floor, the VIP room at the end. Assistant Chi might have been delayed for some reason and hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet. The bodyguard escorted Sui Yang inside.
Inside the room, the head of the bed was slightly raised at about a thirty-degree angle. Two caregivers were present, one replacing Xie Min’s nutritional bottle and the other trimming his nails.
Once the bodyguard left, Sui Yang quietly took Xie Min out from his pocket. Just like last time, Xie Min looked at himself on the hospital bed through the gaps between Sui Yang’s fingers.
His hair had grown a bit, partially covering his eyes, and he appeared thinner. Due to minimal sun exposure, his skin was pale, and the bruises on the back of his hand from the IV needle were quite severe.
“Just finished bathing Mr. Xie.” The caregiver who was trimming nails smiled at Sui Yang. “I’ll blow-dry his hair now.”
“How often do you bathe him?” Sui Yang asked casually.
“Once a day or every two days,” the caregiver replied. “We strictly follow the hospital regulations.”
Sui Yang approached closer, and Xie Min scrutinized his own appearance. He felt that the caregiver had cleaned him reasonably well, at least not showing any signs of mistreatment.
After the caregiver finished replacing the bottle and trimming nails, and massaging Xie Min’s hands with lotion, Xie Min heard Sui Yang say naturally, “I’ll stay here alone with him while waiting for Assistant Chi to arrive.”
Both caregivers hesitated slightly.
However, Sui Yang’s tone was confident, as if he had made a perfectly reasonable request, leaving people both perplexed and convinced by his words. One of the caregivers was fooled by him, paused for a few seconds, and said, “Then we’ll be in the lounge outside the ward. If Mr. Sui needs anything, just ring the bell to call us.”
When there were only Sui Yang and Xie Min left in the ward, Sui Yang walked to the window, placed Xie Min on the bedside table, and asked, “Do you really want to see it?”
Xie Min looked closely at his face, magnified several times while sleeping, feeling a mix of confusion and fear. He hesitated for a moment and said, “Can you check my back for me?”
“…Alright.” Sui Yang sighed softly and gently lifted Xie Min’s blanket.
The patient on the bed was not wearing the hospital gown, and Xie Min saw his legs. He was certain that he had indeed lost too much weight, as if only the skeleton remained. Xie Min had a fleeting suspicion that if he were to return to this body after leaving, he might not survive for more than a few days.
“Does Xiao Tu have no sense of smell?” Sui Yang turned to look at Xie Min and said, “You smell clean.”
Sui Yang lowered his head and lightly touched Xie Min’s hair. Then he reached out, gently grasping Xie Min’s arm and shoulder, pushing him slightly to the right, and pulled up his clothing a bit, revealing his smooth back.
There were no signs of bedsores on his back, although it didn’t appear particularly healthy either.
“Is it okay?” Sui Yang looked at the LEGO bunny on the bedside table.
“Okay.” Xie Min knew that Sui Yang wasn’t the best person to check for bedsores, but he had no other choice. “Thank you.”
Seeing Sui Yang covering his body again, Xie Min tried to explain his request, “Last time I returned to this body, the caregiver who trimmed my nails was sitting across from me, playing with her phone. She didn’t seem very responsible.”
Sui Yang reached out and picked him up, touching his bunny face, and said, “I didn’t say anything. You don’t need to explain so much.”
“But Xie Min,” he added, “when you come back, try to eat a little more.”
“Don’t you eat?” Sui Yang asked him, almost unable to contain himself.
“No,” Xie Min retorted, “Before the car accident, my weight was normal. How can I not lose weight lying here with IV drips.”
Sui Yang suddenly laughed and said, “Well, if you say it’s normal, then it’s normal.”
“What do you know?” Xie Min was displeased with his sarcastic smile and quickly responded, “You haven’t seen me before, nor have you seen me eat.”
Sui Yang remained silent, and Xie Min continued to argue, “That’s right, you haven’t seen me, so what’s there to say? I have a big appetite.”
“Mr. Xie is right,” Sui Yang finally couldn’t refute him and apologized, “I’m sorry, I underestimated you.”
At that moment, Chi Yuan arrived, rushing in a hurry. “I apologize, Mr. Sui, an emergency meeting delayed me this afternoon.”
Sui Yang calmly put Xie Min back into his pocket and discussed Xie Min’s condition with Chi Yuan.
Chi Yuan mentioned that Xie Min’s body was slowly recovering, but after the last wake-up incident just before Sui Yang’s call, Xie Min hadn’t awakened again.
“The doctors haven’t been able to determine the cause. Fortunately, the company has been operating relatively normally recently,” he said. “Chairman Xie happened to be away on a business trip these past few days. Thank you for your concern for Mr. Xie. He instructed me to take good care of you. He mentioned that after Mr. Xie wakes up, he will definitely bring him to Yuanguang to meet you.”
Having achieved the purpose of the medical examination, Sui Yang didn’t stay too long at the hospital.
His mother and stepfather were pleased with the house in Baoqi Garden. They were currently at the home furnishing market, choosing the missing furniture. They planned to move in once spring arrived. His mother had made a reservation at a formerly beloved restaurant, but it wasn’t time for dinner yet. Sui Yang stopped the car near the restaurant and took Xie Min for a walk in the open greenway park they had seen while driving, located in the center of the street.
The temperature was quite low, and there was no sun in the sky. They were the only ones on the walking path. Sui Yang took Xie Min out of his pocket and let him observe the almost lifeless plant trunks in the park, as if riding a sightseeing cable car, providing a close-up view.
Xie Min was familiar with this greenway park. During spring and autumn, he would occasionally come here for walks when he was feeling down. However, he avoided coming during winter because it was too cold.
He felt that Sui Yang wasn’t afraid of the cold at all. Whether at nineteen or twenty-nine, he could walk in the Yuhai City’s winter winds wearing just a cashmere coat.
After walking for a while, Sui Yang suddenly asked Xie Min, “Was this park where the red bird statue used to be placed?”
Xie Min hesitated for a moment and replied, “Yes.”
During their high school years, this area was considered the outskirts of Yuhai city. At the junction of Qiaojiang Road and Yishi Road, before the street expansion, a large red bird statue was newly erected. It was designed by a well-known designer and built during the tenure of the former mayor.
“I vaguely remember someone skipping school for the first time and getting lost here,” Sui Yang whispered. “I came to find him, and he was sitting on a chair opposite the statue, doing his homework.”
Xie Min looked up, but Sui Yang’s face was partially obscured by his hand, making it impossible for Xie Min to see his expression. Xie Min didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to discuss this topic with Sui Yang.
It was March back then.
In the first year that Xie Min’s father became a member of the school board, he came to the school for a meeting, entering Xie Min’s classroom with excitement and speaking loudly in front of Xie Min’s classmates. Xie Min felt embarrassed by his behavior, retorted a few times, grabbed his school bag, and ran away.
Xie Min randomly boarded a bus and got off at a random stop. He walked for a while and started feeling tired when he received a call from Sui Yang.
Sui Yang heard that Xie Min skipped class and asked where he was. Xie Min suddenly realized that he couldn’t even describe his location. He only saw a bald square in front of him, with a huge and brand-new red bird sculpture at its center.
Sui Yang told Xie Min to wait, so he obediently sat across from the sculpture. He waited for over an hour, drinking more than half a bottle of soda, until Sui Yang, who had also skipped class to find him, finally arrived.
Sui Yang took off his jacket and draped it over his elbow. He had a white shirt with the school badge and short black hair. He looked genuinely handsome that day. He walked up to Xie Min and said, “I asked six drivers before someone knew about this sculpture. It was just built three days ago.” Then he leaned down and pinched Xie Min’s cheek. “Young Master, you really know how to find unique places.” It made Xie Min feel like waiting for Sui Yang for an hour was actually less than a second.
“That day was the first time I realized that skipping class for elementary students meant finding a place to do homework.” Sui Yang seemed unconcerned about Xie Min’s silence and continued joking.
He was doing homework because he was waiting for someone. It was boring to wait, and with nothing else to do, he took out his homework to work on. He could have taken a taxi to another place instead of sitting there waiting idly.
That was Xie Min’s answer, but he couldn’t express it like Sui Yang could, turning past experiences into jokes. Xie Min couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud.
“Do you know when the sculpture was moved?” Sui Yang brought up a new topic.
It was four years ago. Due to the expansion of the city center and the increasing urbanization of the surrounding area, the sculpture, being too large and out of sync with the cityscape, was relocated to the outskirts in the zoo. The vacant land was then transformed into a long and narrow greenway park.
However, Xie Min said, “I don’t know. I don’t care.”
Sui Yang fell silent and walked the entire length of the pathway. He said to Xie Min, “Alright. Yuhai has been developing so rapidly in recent years. It’s common to see old things being moved. The greenway is nice, good for taking walks.”
Xie Min felt that every second spent discussing the past with Sui Yang was as agonizing as a year. Deep down, he genuinely hoped that Sui Yang would say fewer words on this topic.
Perhaps Sui Yang had no ill intentions, but Xie Min’s mindset wasn’t in the best state, and he lacked the tolerance. He walked this greenway dozens of times every year, almost wearing out the path. He truly didn’t want to bring it up.
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