Yue Dingtang didn't rush to leave.
He was still waiting in Ling Shu's hospital room, waiting for the result of his conversation with He You'an.
Although Yue Dingtang knew that it was highly likely that Ling Shu would return empty-handed and He You'an would try to shift the blame onto someone else, Ling Shu was a person who appeared lively but was actually deep and profound. Even if he encountered the most cunning person, he should still have gained something.
With nothing else to do, Yue Dingtang picked up a foreign book and started reading in the hospital room.
Just as he had started reading about Miss Mostyn's visit, Ling Shu returned.
When he left, Ling Shu had nothing in his hands, but when he returned, he was loaded down with bags and packages. Ling Shu laid out the things he had brought. There were soy sauce duck collar bones, malt sugar, oranges, and even fresh flowers. All sorts of things that could fill a small table.
In the hospital room, there was an empty vase. Ling Shu cleaned it and put some flowers in it, instantly adding a touch of warmth to the room.
"Did He You'an give this to you?" Yue Dingtang couldn't imagine the reclusive He You'an carrying a duck collarbone and giving it to Ling Shu.
"How is that possible? I picked these up on my way back, visiting different rooms," Ling Shu replied.
Seeing that Yue Dingtang still had some doubts, Ling Shu recounted the story.
"He You'an is staying beside an old lady, who comes from a wealthy family and has some heart problems. The doctor asked her to stay in the hospital, but her family isn't here, so there's only one servant taking care of her. The old lady was in a bad mood because of her illness and had an argument with the servant. I happened to pass by and went in to persuade them. The old lady took a liking to me and we chatted for a while. Before I left, she even gave me two bags of oranges."
Yue Dingtang asked, "You ate a whole bag on the way here?"
Ling Shu replied, "I went to the ward next door where the patient was originally an officer who left the military to do business in Shanghai. He was quite successful and had some wealth, but unfortunately had no children and was quite lonely. When he saw me bringing oranges to visit him, he couldn't help but feel happy. Plus, I am quite good-looking, so after a few words, he gave me most of the gifts that others had brought him and even left me his contact information, making plans to meet up after he is discharged."
Yue Dingtang: ...
Ling Shu said, "Then I went to another ward. The nurse had just finished giving the patient an injection and left. A spoiled rich girl was crying inside, and her mother and servant couldn't comfort her. As soon as I arrived, the young lady stopped crying and I managed to make her laugh. She held onto me tightly and even wanted to give me flowers. In the end, her mother managed to put her to sleep and I was able to leave."
Yue Dingtang asked, "How old was the young lady?"
Ling Shu replied, "She was four years old."
Yue Dingtang was speechless.
Ling Shu spoke earnestly, "Think about it, anyone who can afford to live on the same floor as He You'an must be wealthy. I didn't wander around for nothing, and the most important thing is that I made friends with people. I even gave some things to the nurse. If I ever have to come back here, at least I'll know some people."
Yue Dingtang asked, "Do you plan on coming back?"
Ling Shu laughed it off, "I misspoke, just in case!"
He closed the book and Yue Dingtang started a casual conversation.
"How did your talk with He You'an go?"
"It didn't have a clear outcome, but it wasn't a complete failure either," Ling Shu said vaguely, placing the key on the table. "HSBC Bank, Safe No. 7708, He You'an's payment to us."
Yue Dingtang glanced at the key. "What else did she say?"
Ling Shu replied, "She claimed she didn't know Chen Youhua and had just learned of Shen Shiqi's death. From start to finish, she had nothing to do with any of it. She even called herself a victim. Besides writing that note to warn us about Chen Wendong, she did nothing else. She also mentioned that she's leaving Shanghai in a few days to clear her mind and doesn't know when she'll be back."
Yue Dingtang sighed, "So, we still have nothing to show for it."
"But before I left, she said something very strange," Ling Shu said, pausing to ponder once again on what He You'an had said.
"She said, 'Mr. Ling, I've been in the film industry for years, and I've taken many photos. They're all stored with Mr. Teng Siping. If your brother-in-law is interested, you can ask Mr. Teng for them after I'm gone. I've already told him that he can give them all to you as a gift.'"
Yue Dingtang pondered for a moment. "Your brother-in-law is a fan of He You'an?"
"The strange thing is that my sister is the one who's a fan of hers. I never mentioned my brother-in-law, and given He You'an's age, she shouldn't have mistaken him for a fan," Ling Shu replied.
"Do you think she was hinting at something?" Yue Dingtang asked.
Ling Shu said, "She is a smart person who can read people's hearts. People like her usually don't speak nonsense before leaving. And from what I gathered, she may not return to Shanghai for a long time, or even settle down in Hong Kong if it suits her."
He You'an reminded him to wait until she left before retrieving something.
The scene was like this.
The safe was also like this.
Perhaps she had something she couldn't say in person, so she left behind some cryptic words for Ling Shu to figure out on his own.
It's also possible that she couldn't bear Shen Shiqi's humiliation and decided to kill him, then fled with Mr. Cheng to live freely in the wide open sea and sky. She left behind some clues for Ling Shu out of friendship, so he wouldn't obsess over it and lose his mind.
Ling Shu felt that his brain couldn't be considered stupid, but when he met He You'an, he always couldn't quite figure her out.
This woman held a pipa and half-covered her face, and every time he thought he had seen her clearly, she would become blurry again.
Once she left Shanghai, the deaths of Shen Shiqi and Qian Shi might be buried and impossible to trace.
"It seems that I can only wait for her to leave and then search for answers," Ling Shu yawned and noticed the empty plate beside him.
"Where are the apples?" he asked.
Yue Dingtang replied, "I ate them. There was a whole bag of apples yesterday, how come there's only one left?"
"I was hungry last night and didn't have anything to eat in the second half of the night. The guests also ate a lot during the day," Ling Shu explained.
"Most of it was still eaten by you, right? And you still want to be discharged from the hospital soon?" Yue Dingtang teased.
Ling Shu laughed, "I can stay in the hospital, it doesn't matter. Uncle Zhou brings me hot soup and rice every day, so I feel like I'm at home."
Well, he had become addicted to staying in the hospital.
Yue Dingtang didn't want to argue with him anymore, so he got up and picked up the book.
"I'm leaving now. Uncle Zhou will come later to negotiate with the doctor. If you're okay, he'll handle your discharge procedures."
"Officer Yue," Ling Shu called out to him, "there's something I want to ask, but I don't know if I should."
Yue Dingtang stopped and turned around.
Ling Shu innocently asked, "Do I still need to go to work tomorrow?"
Yue Dingtang didn't want to say anything more, so he just turned and left.
After he left, Ling Shu chuckled.
He shook his head, picked up an orange, and slowly peeled it.
Just like how Yue Dingtang was trying to probe his bottom line. He also enjoyed teasing the other from time to time, probing Yue Dingtang's bottom line step by step.
The two of them interacted like dancing a tango, where either one of them would take the lead.
They were like friends and enemies, superiors and subordinates, old classmates, with multiple identities intertwined. They oscillated between intimacy and distance, maintaining a delicate balance.
Not long after Yue Dingtang left, the doctor and the old housekeeper, Uncle Zhou, arrived.
Perhaps due to his lack of self-control in the past few days, the doctor diagnosed that his body had not fully recovered yet, and his temperature was fluctuating around 38 degrees.
He still needed to stay in the hospital for observation for two more days.
Under the condemning gaze of the old housekeeper, Ling Shu obediently surrendered the duck collarbone and oranges he hadn't had a chance to eat.
The housekeeper's eyes were like those of a hawk, and he even found the oranges Ling Shu had hidden under his pillow. Ling Shu's entire stock was ransacked, leaving him with only watery porridge and salty vegetables to survive on.
He felt doubly bleak.
The consequence of drinking porridge was that after several trips to the bathroom, his stomach began to growl.
Despite searching the ward, he couldn't find anything to eat, so he had to lie down early, cover himself with a blanket, and imagine a sumptuous feast in his mind, with abalone, shark fin, and sea cucumber.
He endured his hunger and fell asleep.
In the middle of the night, Ling Shu was awakened by the urge to urinate.
The surroundings were silent, and outside the window was quiet and empty, but beside his bed, he felt as if someone was there. The feeling was inexplicable, difficult to put into words. But when someone closes their eyes and there are others nearby, it's easy to sense it. Ling Shu was feeling this way now.
It was said that people often entered the hospital standing up and left lying down. Funerals were common here, and over the years, countless ghosts had lingered around, unwilling to leave the mortal world.
It was also said that this hospital used to be a cemetery, and many lost souls had nowhere else to go, so they made the hospital their home. At midnight, when no one was around, it was natural for "them" to be active.
Ling Shu's hair stood on end. He held his breath and pretended to toss and turn in his sleep, squeezing his eyes shut except for a tiny slit. In the spot where the moonlight shone on the edge of the bed, there were faint black shadows.
Suddenly, a hand dropped down. Ling Shu wanted to move, but he couldn't!
His neck was being strangled!