Su Yang and Hua Zhendan sat on a couch outside the operating room. For people who had someone in surgery, they both seemed particularly calm.
As usual, Su Yang's head was buried in her novel while Hua Zhendan stared at her with questionable interest.
After what seemed like an age, Hua Zhendan spoke. "Xuan Tianmei is really something, huh? She could even get you to put a comb through your hair."
Su Yang raised a brow. "She is something, alright. But why are you making small talk with me? What do you really want to ask?"
Hua Zhendan decided to stop beating around the bush. "The story you told me. About Shen Rui's entire life. I'm not the only person who thinks she might've been responsible for her husband's death, am I?"
"There is no evidence her husband was murdered. An autopsy was never done."
"But..." Hua Zhendan hesitated. "You think she did it, don't you? I mean, I know what Shen Rui can do, but I've never imagined she's capable of murder. And for money too."
Su Yang closed her book. "Yes, I do think she did it. It's fairly obvious she did. But I also think the reason she did it wasn't for money, but to save your life."
Hua Zhendan raised one eyebrow. How did Su Yang get to that conclusion? And, judging from her angry tone... It seemed she had taken his accusation personally. Even though she wasn't the person he was accusing of murder.
"In her husband's will," Su Yang continued. "She would inherit everything he had after his death; but not a minute before that. She didn't lack for anything, but she didn't live lavishly back then, so she had no reason to pursue the inheritance. Moreover, it seemed she had an amicable relationship with the old man and took great care of him.
"I have bank records I can show you. It's obvious the reason she murdered him—if she did kill him—wasn't greed, but because she needed the money for your surgery. After his funeral, her next expenditure was on your heart surgery."
Hua Zhendan was speechless.
"I can show you the records if you want. After her late husband's funeral, she paid some money to the hospital. Since she'd already settled her late husband's bills, that wouldn't make any sense unless you considered the fact that she still visited you there everyday after his death. After the hospital bills, her next big expenditure was to an adoption agency. The same one that processed your adoption. Then she spent a lot of money in some children store that's now out of business. I could go on."
Hua Zhendan still said nothing.
"Boss," Su Yang called. "I might not know a lot about family relationships, but I think Shen Rui deserves a lot more affection and gratitude than you give her."
Hua Zhendan shook his head. "Are you taking this whole thing so personal because of your newly found admiration for her?"
"I... I just know I'll be a lot more grateful if someone cared for me as much as she cares for you."
Hua Zhendan chuckled. "Shen Rui and I have a complicated relationship. And I love and appreciate her with all of my being. It's just..." Hua Zhendan paused and Su Yang raised a brow for him to continue. Finally, he said, "Well, I guess I could try making up with her."
Su Yang smiled in approval. "You shouldn't cause her so much heartaches."
"Did you find anything about my birth parents?"
Su Yang shook her head. "I didn't check. Should I have?"
"No, don't. If they had really abandoned me, then, why bother to find them?"
"You don't remember them at all?"
"Barely. The memories I have of them are absurdly disoriented; like pieces of a puzzle I can't put together." Hua Zhendan replied. "But I do recall the first time I saw Shen Rui. I remember opening my eyes one day and seeing a pair of kind eyes looking down at me with an enchanting smile.
"Actually, back then, people came to look at me a lot. I guess everyone wanted to see the boy who was abandoned by his parents in the hospital.
"While the nurses and doctors approached me with a chilling indifference, the other spectators looked at me with pity. I recall thinking that the look in her eyes were different; kind and soothing. I thought she was an angel. She ran her fingers through my hair, promised me I would be okay and that she would be my new mum. I can't recall the details but I remember being happy. Perhaps, I was upset I hadn't seen my own mother in a while and got excited at the prospect of getting a new one."
"Perhaps." Su Yang nodded in understanding.
Just then, Hua Zhendan's phone rang.
Hua Zhendan checked the caller ID and muttered to Su Yang, "Speak of the devil. It's my mother."
"Can you let me talk to her?" Su Yang asked with a broad smile on her face.
Hua Zhendan shook his head and turned away from her to take the call.
"Zhendan," Shen Rui called from the other end.
"Ma?" He answered.
"I... Went through the document you sent me the other day. With Qiu Dawei's proposal on it..."
"I liked it very much. Can you set up a meeting?"
"You liked it?"
"Yes, I did."
"It's from Qiu Dawei. I didn't think you'll approve of it."
"It's a good idea and I think it'll be great for business. I don't really mind it."
"Fine. I'll set up a meeting."
"Okay. Then... Call me when you've set up the meeting, okay?"
"Ma?" Hua Zhendan called hurriedly before she got a chance to disconnect the call.
"I don't want to be mad at you anymore." He muttered bluntly.
The voice on the other line stayed silent.
"Ma, I want my mother who was my best friend back. But that won't be possible if you don't stop meddling in my love life."
"Hua Zhendan. You know I only want the best for you. What will happen if people find out you're gay, huh? I don't want you to experience any hardships in life."
"Mum, if people find out I'm gay, they'll talk about it. For weeks or months. Until they find something else to talk about. I'll lose some clients, yes. But I'll get other ones. And if I'm with someone I love through it all, I'll be happy. And that's what's really important. Don't you think?"
Shen Rui stayed silent for a moment. Finally, she muttered, "Baby, I did something bad."
"Something bad that has something to do with me?" Hua Zhendan asked although he was certain he knew the reply to his own question.
He sighed. "Fine. I don't want to know what you did, mother."
"I would still have no choice, but to forgive you when I find out, wouldn't I?"
Shen Rui said nothing.
"I don't want to know, ma. I'm not mad at you right now and I don't want to be. Let's leave it at that, please."
"Okay." Shen Rui said after a deep sigh.
"Good." Hua Zhendan said. "Perhaps, we can have dinner sometime soon. I miss your cooking."
"Okay, son." Shen Rui's voice was cheery. Hua Zhendan could imagine she was smiling.
"Okay. Bye then." He said.
"Bye." She replied.
When Hua Zhendan disconnected the call, Su Yang asked, "Why isn't Xuan Tianyi here yet?"
"He's shooting a scene from his new movie. A kissing scene."
Su Yang smiled. "How could you possibly know that?"
"Well, I was at the studio. He didn't see me, but I saw him. And sadly, all of the scene."
"Wow! That must've hurt."
"It was sloppy and unprofessional. I wished he could have done it right because then, they wouldn't have to repeat the scene so many times."
Su Yang smiled.
"Outside the kiss, his acting was really good. I don't know if Shen Rui picked him for his talent, but he does have it."
"Well, he could've gotten permission to be here, couldn't he?"
"Being there's probably helping him worry less about Xuan Tianmei."
Su Yang nodded.
Almost immediately, Xuan Tianyi walked into the waiting area. This time, he was accompanied not by Shen Rui but by a man in his early twenties who had a small stature and a cute face.
"Who's that?" Su Yang asked.
"Fah," Hua Zhendan replied. "Thai, but speaks fluent Chinese. He's playing the lead opposite Xuan Tianyi in the movie."
"When did they get so close?"
"Don't know. Perhaps, it was the one million times they had to kiss earlier on stage."
"Jesus, Boss. Jealousy isn't a good color on you."
"Xuan Tianyi has told me that before. But seriously, Xuan Tianyi takes him everywhere nowadays. It's very unnerving."
Much to Hua Zhendan's chagrin, Fah took a seat beside him. "Good morning, Sir." Fah greeted with a polite smile on his face.
Hua Zhendan pretended to not hear him and looked straight ahead. Soon, his phone rang. "I have to take this," He said to Su Yang.
Pressing the phone to his ear, he walked away from the waiting area to an empty corridor. "Hello?"
Hua Zhendan listened to the voice on the other end speak with rapt attention. He then replied, "Okay, I'll be right there."
When Hua Zhendan turned around, he came face to face with Xuan Tianyi. Slowly, he muttered, "Hey."
"Hey," Xuan Tianyi replied.
They both silently stared at each other until Xuan Tianyi dropped his eyes. He looked back up at Hua Zhendan and asked, "I was wondering if you've gotten any updates about the surgery."
"No, I haven't." Hua Zhendan sighed, then said, "Don't worry so much about it. These doctors remove and replace people's hearts all the time. This is a small surgery. Xuan Tianmei would be okay."
Xuan Tianyi nodded. "I also... Wanted to thank you. For being here with my sister. Despite the fact that I've been so mean to you recently."
Hua Zhendan gave Xuan Tianyi a small smile. "It's okay. I've always liked Xuan Tianmei. This isn't a big deal."
"Okay," Xuan Tianyi mumbled.
"I know this isn't the right time to talk about us, but I really wanted to apologize."
"That's okay. We all say and do stupid things sometimes."
"I also wanted to say... If what you really want is that I leave you alone... Then, you should know that I'm now ready to let you go. I won't be asking you out anymore."
"Well, that's great." Xuan Tianyi smiled as he spoke. "Because that's what I want."
"I do have something to tell you though... About Shen Rui."
"She told me everything herself."
"About the fire?"
Xuan Tianyi nodded. "Yes. She admitted to burning down my apartment. She also told me she isn't my mother after all."
Hua Zhendan noted that Xuan Tianyi talked with no hint of malice in his voice. "You're very forgiving, aren't you?"
"She isn't my mother." Xuan Tianyi shrugged. "That makes it a lot easier to forgive her. Plus, she's making amends by paying for my sister's surgery and the repair of the burnt down apartment."
"You wouldn't accept money from me, but you'll take it from her?"
"I'm not fucking her. Moreover, I'll pay her back."
"You and I aren't having sex either."
Xuan Tianyi shook his head. "If you really aren't asking me out anymore, I think it would be right for you to move on. Perhaps with someone else."
"Is that what you're doing with him?" Hua Zhendan pointed towards the waiting area.
"Yes. As a matter of fact, it is."
"Have you considered getting back together with Qiu Dawei? You guys look great together."
"Now that you've mentioned it, I think I'll give it a serious thought."
"Yeah. Well, let's catch up later. I have to be somewhere. Say me well to Xuan Tianmei once the surgery is over."
As Xuan Tianyi watched Hua Zhendan walk away, he realized there was a sadness in his heart. The kind of sadness that came with losing the person you want the most.