Ling Shu was running a high fever.
It wasn't just any ordinary fever, but a fever that had reached 40 degrees Celsius.
The family doctor was unable to handle it, so they rushed him to the hospital overnight.
Earlier, Yue Dingtang thought that Ling Shu was faking his illness to avoid being questioned and reprimanded. It wasn't until he touched Ling Shu's forehead and felt the scorching heat emanating from his palm that he realized something was seriously wrong.
Ling Shu had been getting injured a lot lately, from the incident at the Yuan Manor’s underground cellar, to Shen Shiqi and his men coming to teach him a lesson, to the late-night escape with Jiang He. His old wounds had not yet healed, and new ones had been added. Even an iron man would not be able to withstand such turmoil, let alone someone as delicate as Ling Shu.
His face was very pale.
So pale that there was not a hint of color, especially under the light bulb's illumination. Still wearing Yue Dingtang's pajamas, Ling Shu lay on the hospital bed with an IV needle in his hand.
"Mr. Ling's digestive system may not be in good condition. Let's observe him overnight and see how he's doing. Remember to eat light these days, and avoid meat and fish," the doctor's words echoed in Yue Dingtang's mind, giving him a headache.
He caught a cold from the rain, so why is his digestive system acting up?
How many more health issues does this person have?
Yue Dingtang shifted his gaze back to the bed. The patient was in a daze, with half-opened eyes emitting a faint light. It was hard to tell if he was awake or not, lost in a foggy haze.
He muttered something under his breath, but his voice was too low to hear.
Yue Dingtang leaned in closer, bending down.
"Old Yue..." the other person called out his name.
Yue Dingtang responded with a grunt, "I'm here."
Ling Shu said, "What about He You'an?"
Yue Dingtang frowned slightly, "Just focus on yourself. You don't need to worry about her."
"No," Ling Shu weakly protested, raising his voice, "I mean, she still hasn't given me the payment she promised last time. Remember to ask her to change it to US dollars. The US dollar holds its value these days, don't take the old Chinese currency..."
Yue Dingtang: ...
At that moment, he truly felt like bowing down to Ling Shu.
But Ling Shu wasn't finished.
"Also, Uncle Zhou's chicken soup, he worked so hard to make it, and I haven't finished drinking it yet..."
The old housekeeper standing nearby was moved to tears.
This child must really care about his feelings, even when he's half-delirious with a high fever, he still remembers that half-bowl of chicken soup.
"I'll have someone make it for you right away. Tomorrow when you're feeling better, I'll bring it over. I guarantee you'll have your fill of it, along with your favorite snacks like jade pastry and golden shrimp balls. I'll have the chef make all of them. How does that sound?"
Ling Shu smiled contentedly and muttered, "Uncle Zhou is so kind."
The old housekeeper looked kindly at him.
Yue Dingtang had nothing to say. He couldn't bear to watch any longer, so he left the sickroom and strolled around the corridor.
Even though it was nighttime, he didn't feel tired. The scent of snow drifted in through the open window, refreshing and invigorating.
Occasionally, he heard family members of patients pleading with doctors, their emotions running high as they acted out scenes of separation and reunion. He also saw doctors shaking their heads at family members through a crack in the door, offering words of comfort that had nothing to do with the patient's condition.
But there were still more patients who couldn't afford to stay in the hospital.
Looking down from the third-floor window, beggars huddled in the snow-covered streets, while passersby in thin clothing hurried by, unable to spare a penny for charity.
Suddenly, a commotion broke out nearby, interrupting Yue Dingtang's quiet contemplation.
He followed the sound and saw a crowd gathered outside a hospital room at the end of the corridor, including some old acquaintances.
One of them, who happened to catch sight of him, was initially taken aback but quickly put on a smile and hurried over.
"Mr. Yue, what brings you here? Is someone in your family...?"
It was none other than Teng Siping, the boss of a film company.
Yue Dingtang just grunted in response, not wanting to say much, and instead asked, "I saw Cheng Gong enter the room just now. Who's inside?"
Teng Siping sighed, "Miss He is injured."
Yue Dingtang raised an eyebrow, "Is she well?"
Teng Siping forced a smile, "I can't say she’s completely well, things got a little too close. It was too dangerous!"
In He You'an's new play, she played a progressive female student.
In order to resist the arranged feudal marriage set by her family and to rebel against her father's oppression of her mother, the female protagonist angrily ran away, but was caught again due to lack of experience.
Her parents wanted her to marry the son of a local gentry, but she refused and went on a hunger strike to protest.
Instead of compromising, her family and the groom's family worked together to tie her up in a bridal sedan, trying to force her into marriage.
On the night of her wedding, the female student woke up in despair and planned to hang herself. After being saved, she realized that she needed to find a way to escape.
After many twists and turns, she finally escaped from what she considered a hellish home and went to the advanced and enlightened city of Shanghai. She wrote about her experiences and became well-known, eventually being hired by a girls' school and falling in love with a male teacher.
However, even after becoming famous, the protagonist was not free from trouble. Her fame reached her hometown, and her former husband came to Shanghai to sue her for being immoral.
This is a typical movie that reflects the tragedy of the times. There are many movies like this nowadays, with similar plots.
However, this one attracted the attention of the newspapers even before it started filming because of the participation of He You'an. A well-known writer also discussed the harm of feudal marriage to women in the application, sparking a wave of discussion.
When He You'an had her accident, she was filming the scene where the bride hangs herself on the wedding night.
The beautiful woman in the red candle flower tent, wearing a phoenix crown and a red veil, weeps in sorrow, feeling trapped and helpless. Her husband, whom she has never met before, is outside drinking and toasting with the guests.
She is locked in the room, waiting for an unknown fate, guarded by her husband's family. As a weak woman, she has no way to resist and can only choose the most decisive way out.
Ever since receiving that deeply meaningful script, He You'an had been on high alert and refused to play the scene where her character hangs herself, fearing that something might go wrong. However, the director believed that this was a scene of great tragedy and the most emotionally resonant moment in the entire play, and the two of them debated for a long time on set, with everyone watching.
Upon hearing this, Yue Dingtang asked, "Did Miss He eventually compromise?"
Teng Siping nodded, "He You'an loves movies and is willing to make sacrifices. She didn't want to ruin the essence of the entire play for herself, but we couldn't ignore her concerns. So we sent more people to watch around her. Once she hung the white cloth, someone would immediately go up and help her down by standing on tiptoe. We checked and double-checked the stool, but we didn't expect that something would still go wrong."
It wasn't the unstable stool or the white cloth that caused He You'an's injury. It wasn't even the crossbeam that she hung the cloth on. It was the adjacent crossbeam that suddenly fell and hit her and another crew member when He You'an was leaving the white cloth.
The other crew member had a gaping wound the size of a bowl on their head, and their life is still in danger to this day. He You'an was hit on the shoulder and head, still conscious but bleeding heavily, which scared everyone around her.
Mr. Cheng had just gone to the set to visit when He You'an had his accident. Teng Siping rushed to the hospital, fearing for He You'an's safety and also worried that Mr. Cheng would blame him.
"Thank goodness, thank Buddha, heaven has blessed us. You'an is not in danger of losing her life, but the doctor said he has a concussion and serious injuries. He will need to rest for several days and cannot film for the time being," Teng Siping said, relieved.
Yue Dingtang nodded in agreement, "As long as she is not in danger of losing his life, everything else is secondary."
Teng Siping forced a bitter smile, "Who wouldn't say so? Fortunately, You'an is still conscious and can recognize people. I heard that those who are seriously ill can't even remember people. Mr. Yue, would you like to go in and see her?"
Yue Dingtang calmly replied, "Since Mr. Cheng is here, I won't disturb her. Please convey my regards and wish her a speedy recovery. I'll go back and check on my family first."
Teng Siping nodded repeatedly and watched as Yue Dingtang left.
As soon as the other party was far away, he remembered that he had been frightened by He You'an just now and forgot to ask about Yue Dingtang's family members who were hospitalized, whether it was important, and which ward they were in.
This was a great opportunity to get closer to the Yue family, but he missed it.
Teng Siping regretted it deeply.
When Yue Dingtang returned, the old housekeeper was still there, sitting by the bed talking to Ling Shu. The latter was clearly exhausted but refused to sleep, insisting on chatting with the old housekeeper.
As soon as the old housekeeper saw Yue Dingtang, he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Fourth Young Master, this child won't listen and refuses to sleep. You'll have to take care of him."
The old housekeeper gestured behind him.
Ling Shu gave him a wink and made a hand gesture.
Yue Dingtang remained expressionless.
"Don't worry about him. He's not a child anymore. If he gets sick again, he can just stay in the hospital and take more medicine. You can save your chicken soup, duck soup, and sesame green bean soup for someone else."
"Oh, don't say that. Ling Shu is also feeling uncomfortable. The doctor said he needs to stay in the hospital tonight. Why don't I stay and watch over him? You can go back and rest!" said the old housekeeper.
"No need. You can go back. I'll stay here," said Yue Dingtang, seeing the old housekeeper about to persuade him again. "I have something to talk to him about."
The old housekeeper looked worried and agreed to leave, but his body remained in the hospital room, his steps slow and hesitant.
"Is there something else on your mind, Uncle Zhou?" asked Yue Dingtang.
The old housekeeper hesitated to speak, then said, "If you have something to say, please don't hit me or scold him."
Yue Dingtang remained silent, perhaps because his expression was particularly unpleasant. Uncle Zhou didn't dare say more and left quickly.
Yue Dingtang escorted the old housekeeper to the hospital door and instructed the driver to take him back. Turning back, he saw Ling Shu sitting up and smiling at him.
"I knew you saw my gesture," Ling Shu said.
"I just ran into He You'an," Yue Dingtang said.
Ling Shu looked surprised. "So, the anonymous letter was right again," he said.
"But she didn't die again," said Yue Dingtang.
"Are you saying that she set this up herself?" asked Ling Shu.
"There's a possibility," replied Yue Dingtang.
"What about Chen Wendong?" asked Ling Shu.
"I didn't see him," said Yue Dingtang.
He casually took an apple from the fruit basket.
Yue Dingtang took off his gloves and held the fruit knife in his hand. His slender fingers moved skillfully, and the skin of the apple was easily peeled off in a curved and artistic manner.
Ling Shu was mesmerized for a moment.
He rarely saw anyone use a knife like that.
There may be many people who can peel fruit, but there are few who can play with a knife like Yue Dingtang, almost merging the knife and his hand into one.
He had only seen one other person do it before.
And that person was very good at killing. Ling Shu wiped his hot forehead. Just moments ago, he felt like he was drowning in a sea of blood, every step he took was like being bound. Now, he realized it was just an illusion.
Yue Dingtang's eyes showed no signs of killing intent, and his hands were not stained with blood. He was refined and reliable, with decent marksmanship and slightly faster reflexes than the average person, but that was all.
The apple was quickly peeled, and it looked crisp and sweet, emitting a tempting aroma. Yue Dingtang handed it over to Ling Shu, who opened his mouth to take a bite.
But he bit into thin air.
"Sorry, I forgot about your weak stomach," Yue Dingtang said, as he took a bite of the apple himself.
The crunch was loud and satisfying.
This was definitely revenge.
Ling Shu sighed and pulled out a piece of paper from his pajama pocket. It was something he had just brought from home.
"When you go to see He You'an later, could you bring this note with you?"
Yue Dingtang asked, "How are you so sure that I will go see her?"
Ling Shu innocently replied, "Do you want me to drag my sickly body there?"
"I think you look pretty energetic," Yue Dingtang said.
Ling Shu lay down and covered himself with a blanket.
"My head is spinning, I can't sit up. Please go ahead without me," he said.
Yue Dingtang waited for a while.
Ling Shu's eyes closed, his breathing steady. His soft hair made him look like a harmless little animal.
Yue Dingtang poked his arm, but there was no response.
He poked again, still no movement.
He really was asleep.
Yue Dingtang left the half-eaten apple on the table, picked up the note, and walked out.
It was already late at night.
Mr. Cheng had already left, and most of the guards at the door had also left, leaving only two men guarding the entrance. As Yue Dingtang approached, he was immediately stopped by the men standing guard.
"I am a friend of Miss He's, here to visit her. Please let her know," he said politely.
The guards, noticing his suit and coat, responded with equal courtesy, "Miss He has already gone to bed. Please come back tomorrow."
"I won't have time tomorrow. Please go in and tell her that Yue Dingtang is here to see her," he replied calmly.
The guards were originally from the Qing Gang and were used to looking down on people.
However, upon hearing his name, they dared not be disrespectful.
Yue Dingtang added, "Mr. Cheng is also here and I'm sure he would like to see me. If you're not sure, you can go ask him now."
Realizing that he even knew about Cheng Gong, they became even more cautious.
At that moment, a weak voice came from inside, "Who's outside?"
The guard opened the door halfway.
"Miss He, it's a Mr. Yue."
"It's me," said Yue Dingtang.
"Mr. Yue? Please come in quickly!" He You'an hurriedly said.
The guard dared not stop him anymore and opened the door for Yue Dingtang to enter.
He You'an sat up from the bed.
"Mr. Yue, why did you come?"
"Ling Shu is hospitalized, and I came to visit him. I heard you were here, so I came to see you. I didn't bring any gifts, please forgive me. I'll make it up to you another day."
He You'an smiled weakly, "Mr. Yue is too polite. It's already an honor for me that you can come. Is Ling Shu okay?"
"He's fine," Yue Dingtang casually nodded, discreetly observing He You'an.
She was indeed injured, her spirits were not very good, and she was only barely able to entertain him. The patient's neck, which should have been exposed, was wrapped in thick gauze that extended all the way to her elbow, bulging and swollen.
Her head was also wrapped in layer upon layer of white gauze, with a bit of blood seeping out near her temple. This was a dangerous area, and even a slight mistake could be fatal.
At this moment, He You'an's defenses were at their weakest. Could they find a way to break through her defenses?
Yue Dingtang placed a note in front of her.
"What did you mean by writing this note to us?"
He didn't ask if she had written the note, but went straight to the point and assumed it was her, not giving her any chance to react.
He You'an was taken aback.
Her injury had slowed her reaction time, and it was only after a moment of hesitation that she showed surprise.
"Mr. Yue, what are you talking about?"
But this sentence was already too late.
With an extremely affirmative tone, Yue Dingtang came to a conclusion: "It's really you!"
Ling Shu: Please call me Ling "Offending People Without Fear" Shu.
Yue Dingtang: Please call me Yue "Exemplary Calm" Dingtang.