Xiao Xia awoke in boundless pain. It wasn’t clear where, but she just felt there was a roaming needle burrowing around, stabbing her wherever it went.
Especially her head, which felt as if something had been pulled from it. There was a blurry blankness that turned to impenetrable darkness whenever she tried to recall something. A splitting headache also accompanied it, making her involuntarily groan.
A warm, dry hand caressed her forehead, making her feel momentary comfort. She struggled to open her eyes.
“Still remember me?” The man beamed and asked in a quiet voice.
“Obviously.” Xiao Xia muttered weakly. “I wish I could forget.”
“Which means you can’t forget even if you wanted to, right? I knew I was very charismatic!” Wan Li’s hand was still on Xiao Xia’s forehead. “The fever has broken, but you still seem a little weak.”
“What happened to me?” Xiao Xia was bewildered, her mind momentarily a little confused.
“You don’t remember?” Wan Li looked at her thoughtfully.
As a doctor, he knew very well that psychological trauma often left physical injuries. From a medical perspective, thoughts were very important. In this instance for example, Ruan Zhan had only removed and altered a small portion of Xiao Xia’s memories. However, as he was doing so, she very well might have sensed it, thus resulting in serious psychological trauma. Along with the injuries and terror she suffered in Hongqing Town, it led to a high fever that refused to break. She remained unconscious until it became serious enough for her to be hospitalized.
Hopefully she didn’t recover her lost memories. Otherwise, she would hate Ruan Zhan, and would also be very sad. Perhaps she subconsciously hadn’t wanted to wake up!
“I felt like I had a dream.” Xiao Xia frowned. “But I can’t remember what it was about. Something definitely happened, but I just can’t recall it.” She rubbed her forehead irritably.
She really wanted to recall something. In the depths of her heart, she felt there was something very, very important!
“Your mind is too active so your dreams feel very immersive. It’s a very slight psychological condition.” Wan Li caressed Xiao Xia’s faint, furrowed brows. “You just weren’t accustomed to the new environment, falling ill the moment you got to Hongqing Town. I ended up having to go bring you back. The hospitals there still can’t compare to the ones here.”
“Hongqing Town?” The term flashed through Xiao Xia’s mind, allowing her to grab a thread of memory. “That’s right, I went to promote awareness of the laws…and the last stop was Hongqing Town. Then, I checked into an inn, and then..and then…”
Xiao Xia thought hard, making Wan Li rather nervous. He trusted Ruan Zhan’s magic, but if Xiao Xia’s memories were too ingrained, she might very well overcome it with just her instincts. Fortunately, Xiao Xia finally gave up due to her headache.
“Then you suddenly fainted.” Wan Li reinforced Xiao Xia’s thoughts. “You terrified Ah Bai. She wasn’t able to take you to a hospital, and could only inform me right away.”
“Don’t tell me you forgot about Ah Bai?” It was best if she did!
However, Xiao Xia’s reaction didn’t go according to Wan Li’s wishes. She smiled and said, “Of course I remember Ah Bai. I’m just a little groggy after waking up. How is she?”
“Hoho, you should be asking how I am!” Wan Li did his best to exaggerate. “I encountered something weird no one else would encounter. In the middle of the night, the phone started ringing. Before I could pick up, a woman’s voice started calling from the phone: Wan Li…Wan Li…Wan Li. You would know how it feels if you experience it.”
“That does seem a little scary.” Wan Li had mimicked Ah Bai’s delicate voice, making Xiao Xia smile involuntarily. “This world is too strange to her, you can’t blame her! Right, where is Ah Bai?” Only then did Xiao Xia think to look around. She saw it was bright and sunny outside the window. She was in an unfamiliar environment, and could tell it was a hospital room at a glance.
The room was for three, but the other two sickbeds were empty.
“Is it because she can’t come out during the day? Hey, where is my bracelet?” Xiao Xia raised her wrist, not seeing the bracelet where Ah Bai hid herself.
“She took it, saying she wanted it as a souvenir. In exchange, she gave you this.” Wan Li said, taking something out of his pocket.
It was an emerald green string tied around a small stone. The stone was inlaid in a silver border. The string was braided thickly around the stone, almost completely covering it. Yet there were still traces of an extremely beautiful red color peeking out from the ring of green.
The bright green, dazzling red and snowy silver gave it a simplistic beauty, making Xiao Xia immediately love this piece of jewelry. She felt as if she were the natural owner of this stone.
“Do you like it?” Wan Li was very fond of Xiao Xia’s happy expression. “The stone is from Ah Bai, but I am responsible for making it into this beautiful necklace. I knew this combination of red and green was most suitable for a brat like you!”
Xiao Xia would normally retort, but her attention was completely focused on the stone necklace. She struggled to get up. However, she felt dizzy the moment she sat up. Wan Li hurriedly supported her by the shoulder and helped her put the necklace on.
When the stone fell upon her chest, she suddenly felt a sense of extreme intimacy, as well as some faint sorrow. Most unexpectedly, the date-sized stone was actually almost weightless, as if it was innately part of her body.
“They all say jewelry is a woman’s best friend. Sure enough, look how much you like it!” Wan Li sighed.
“Goodness, I feel this stone has a spiritual nature. Don’t tell me it’s one of Ah Bai’s treasures. This is too precious!”
“Perhaps it is. I hear it’s called the Stone of Eternity. However, she gave it to you so you should keep it. She must have her own reasons. Ah Bai said that when she has the time, she will use her own methods to tell you what’s special about this stone.”
Xiao Xia nodded. She looked glanced at the stone that seemed exceptionally well-suited to her. “You haven’t answered me yet. Where did Ah Bai go?”
“She went home!” Wan Li did his best to sound casual. “She’s a fairy-like existence, uninterested in worldly pleasures. She came for the sake of finding Si Ma Nan. Once she found him, she naturally went back.”
The news came as a bit of a surprise to Xiao Xia. She hurriedly pestered Wan Li to clarify. Fortunately, Wan Li had come up with a proper story while Xiao Xia was unconscious. Therefore, he didn’t reveal any flaws.
Xiao Xia sighed. “So Si Ma Nan loves Ah Bai as well, and he was also following us the whole time. I had no idea. Ai, that’s fine too. Although Si Ma Nan has done many wicked things, Ah Bai is so good and loves him so much. It’s also good that he can change. However, it would be great if Ah Bai could come visit me. Or how about we go visit her?”
Wan Li was startled. “We can’t!” He vetoed, then immediately found an excuse, “The two of them need to cultivate. You probably pass as human, so it’s not a good thing to have your yang energy constantly affect them.”
This sounded a little forced, but in Xiao Xia also figured Ah Bai had her own life, and might not like being disturbed. When she was with Ruan Zhan, she also wished for them to be the only two left on Earth.
“What about him?” For some reason, Xiao Xia’s heart ached when thinking of Ruan Zhan. “I mean…Ruan Zhan. Where did he go?”
She sensed her body wasn’t well. She was rather weak, so she must have been very seriously ill. Had he not come to see her? They were slightly closer than friends, but not to the extent of being in a relationship. Yet even if her crush didn’t yet bear fruit and her “villages encroaching upon the city” plan had yet to be implemented, he should still have checked up on her as a friend, right?
“Ah Zhan…” Wan Li helped Xiao Xia lay back down. “He didn’t even know you were sick. Not long after you left, he returned to his hometown to pay respects. Although he was adopted, his was still his father’s only son. Even if he’s a bad guy, he still has to show some occasional filial piety. What, should I contact him?”
Xiao Xia hurriedly stopped him.
Her relationship with Ruan Zhan wasn’t that intimate yet. She had no right to act coquettish with him! But why did her heart ache when she thought of him? Why did she feel so in love? What was it? Was she weakened by her illness? But she couldn’t be like this. She still didn’t know if Ruan Zhan was interested in her. She couldn’t ruin their ambiguous yet fragile relationship. But why would a bout of illness cause her emotions to change?
Wan Li looked at Xiao Xia’s complicated expression, not knowing what to say. She never could hide her own thoughts, showing everything on her face. This was what stirred his heart the most. Kindness, frankness and innocence. These fine qualities were rare in today’s society.
He knew that Xiao Xia’s feelings for Ruan Zhan were too strong. Therefore, despite losing some of her memories, there were still lingering emotions. The human body and mind were the most complex things in the world. No one could fully understand them and no one could completely control them.
He had very strong feelings for Xiao Xia. Apart from Nana, he had never felt like this for anyone else, not even his ex-wife. It was just that he messed up from the start. Back then he had just gotten out of a failed marriage. His caution ended up making her view him as a good friend, a good older brother. By the time he tried to rectify this, Ruan Zhan appeared.
He understood his friend well. On the surface he seemed to be a playboy that treated all women equally well. Yet he was actually one of the best men inside. If Xiao Xia and Ruan Zhan got together, she would definitely be happy. Seeing this, and considering Xiao Xia didn’t view him in such a way, he had decided to step aside.
A great line from a movie said: he would rather have two happy friends than one unhappy woman!
However, things were different now. Ruan Zhan had the “Calamity of Threes” hanging over his head. This blade could fall at any time. Two profoundly powerful people had said he would not be able to overcome this deadly tribulation. Even Ruan Zhan’s steely will couldn’t help but waver. Ruan Zhan had truly fallen in love with Xiao Xia. He wasn’t able to give up on these emotions. Therefore, he had to put himself in Xiao Xia’s shoes, and ultimately decided to give up on her!
Was this selfless or selfish? Wan Li wasn’t able to determine. But Wan Li had decided he would slowly get close to Xiao Xia and see if she could accept him. He wasn’t looting a burning building. He just hoped that no matter how things turned out in the end, no matter how this triangle got resolved, she wouldn’t be the one who got hurt.
After all, he loved her as well!
“Alright, stop overthinking things! Let nature take its course!” Wan Li pulled Xiao Xia out of her thoughts. “You’ve been sick for two weeks. Recuperate properly at home for a bit before going back to work.”
Wan Li nodded.
Actually it had only been a week, but the time she spent in the empty town had to be added. Otherwise, the dates wouldn’t match up. As for the hospital records, the main doctor here had once pursued him. This small matter could be kept hidden.
“You were muddled from the fever so you don’t remember much. I’ll have the doctor come take a look at you in a bit. If there aren’t any major issues, let’s have you checked out of the hospital tomorrow. You can first stay…” Wan Li wanted Xiao Xia to stay at his place for a while to better take care of her. Yet before he could finish speaking, the door to the room opened and a man barged inside.
“Beauty, feeling better?” He said lightly.
Xiao Xia was taken aback. She looked up and saw a young man walking over with a smile.
He wasn’t as dashing and gentle as Wan Li nor as mysterious and elegant as Ruan Zhan. However, he had delicate features and looked extremely likeable, giving people a good impression at first glance. He wore very stylish casualwear, with red and yellow highlights in his hair. He was holding a big bouquet of roses which he directly handed to Xiao Xia.
“For me?” Xiao Xia took it instinctively.
“Of course. Look at you, all haggard from illness. Yet when paired with these roses, your beauty is immediately multiplied several times.”
Xiao Xia couldn’t help but laugh. All women liked compliments, and this man sounded exceptionally sincere when he spoke.
“But…” Xiao Xia struggled to recall where she had met such a person, but couldn’t think of anything. Who was he? Why did she have no impression of him at all? Had she lost her memories due to her illness? Impossible, she clearly remembered a lot of things!
“Oh, I’m an admirer of yours.” The man said empathetically, “My surname is Bao, first name Datong.”
He spoke in a learned manner, making Xiao Xia almost burst out laughing. Yet the name rang a bell. “Bao Datong, you are Bao Datong!”
“That’s me.” Bao Datong blinked. “You know me, Xiao Xia?”
“Of course, Wan Li told me the story of what happened to you guys.”
Bao Datong looked at Wan Li upon hearing Xiao Xia’s words, but the latter was staring at him with annoyance.
“What are you doing here?” Wan Li said coldly.
“I’m here to visit Xiao Xia, of course. Didn’t you notice?” Bao Datong wanted to stroke Xiao Xia’s hair as he spoke, but was stopped halfway by Wan Li. “You’re calling her Xiao Xia?”
“Isn’t her name Xiao Xia? Why can’t I call her that?” Bao Datong looked very astonished.
At this point, no matter how dense Xiao Xia was, she could tell something was up with these two. They had gone through a life and death experience together, and Wan Li’s kind nature meant he could get along with anyone. But why did he treat Bao Datong so poorly?
“Who said you could barge in? Don’t you know how to knock? These are basic manners a man should have. Xiao Xia is a girl you know.” Wan Li continued to criticize.
Bao Datong had an innocent expression. “Aren’t you a man too? Since you were inside, Xiao Xia wouldn’t be in a state where discretion is required. Why can’t I just come in?”
“Can you compare yourself with me? We are long-time friends.”
“You also call yourselves “friends”. Before long, I might become best friends with her. Would you say “long-time” or “best” is more intimate?”
Wan Li sneered and immediately retorted, before Bao Datong fired back. The two argued for a while, one looking annoyed and the other looking foolish. Xiao Xia got more and more of a headache from listening.
“Heh, just call me Datong.”
“Ok, Datong. What are your reasons for coming to the city?”
“He’s here to be a professional swindler!”
“I’m here to start a ghost-busting company!”
The two men spoke two different sentences that contained the same meaning.