Chapter 57: Together
The moonlight was beautiful outside the window, the hubbub of the day gradually fading away. Soft, weak moans, steady breathing, and the occasional sounds of footsteps became the theme of the hospital ward. The white incandescent lights overhead, on day and night, were a reminder that this was only a temporary rest and recovery hospital for the patients.
It was Gu Shi’s fifth day in the hospital. Earlier she had been moved from ICU to the general ward. During the two days she was unconscious due to loss of blood, the deputy director of criminal investigation, the leader of the political section, Captain Liu, and Little Wu all came by in groups to see her, piling up fruit baskets and flowers by her bed.
Gu Zhichang stayed with her the whole time those two days. When she came to he was so excited his blood pressure skyrocketed and he didn’t look so good.
Zhang Chi volunteered to take over for him and he gradually became familiar with the nurses’ and doctors’ shifts in the surgical department, and the families of neighboring patients… Gu Shi declined, but Zhang Chi insisted he was taking over for her father completely, even coming to see her after work, brining her some congee he’d made himself, and bird’s nest & snow fungus soup. Later he simply brought in a mini fridge and put it at the end of her bed. It was filled with the pigeon soup, snakehead fish soup, etc, that he brought her during the day.
“People are going to think I’m convalescing after childbirth. What’s with all these meals?” Gu Shi was finding Zhang Chi’s kindness hard to take.
“Don’t worry about what other people think. You were in good health to start with so there’s no “too weak to handle strong supplements”, and you don’t have to worry about getting fat, so just eat all you can eat.”
Gu Shi had no choice but to courteously concede. When she thought of her dad getting dizzy from excitement she decided to eat well so he wouldn’t worry about her.
As soon as Zhang Chi entered the ward the other patients looked on admiringly. Some older ladies came over and remarked on his good looks and commended him for taking such good care of his girlfriend, much to Gu Shi’s annoyance. Eventually, she just closed her eyes and rested.
Zhang Chi laughed, not minding. He sat next to her and read or leafed through files, each of them getting along peacefully as they passed the time.
One day, after visiting hours, a woman in a white doctor’s coat came looking for Gu Shi, who was sitting up in bed eating sea cucumber congee that Zhang Chi had gotten from who knows where. She looked up and their eyes met.
“Are you Gu Shi?” The woman had good skin and wore gold wireframe glasses. She smiled bookishly.
Gu Shi heard the nurse who led the woman in say “Director Li, I’ll leave you here.” Then Gu Shi knew this was the much-fabled mother of Chen Ting. She had forgotten that his mother was the Chinese Medicine department head of this grade-A hospital.
“Chen Ting said his coworker was hospitalized here. He’s been busy so I came especially to check on you for him. How are you? How are you feeling?”
Gu Shi smiled noncommittally. “The usual.”
The nurse’s aide off to the side was very clever. She helped Gu Shi sit up and said, “This young lady is too polite to say that this four-person room is not very relaxing. She’s just been through major surgery, so what she needs most is good rest so she can recover.”
“I just asked the doctor in charge, who said you got here in just in time, and that the initial actions taken to stop the bleeding were very well done. Otherwise you would have been in quite some danger. But there shouldn’t be any after effects. Single rooms are in short supply here, but I will ask for you.”
“No, no need. Don’t listen to her. Please thank Chen Ting for me. I heard he came to see me before but I was asleep. A coworker told me about it later on. Today you’ve come here yourself. Thank you all for your concern.”
Gu Shi felt tired after Chen Ting’s mother, Li Yajuan, left. She lay down with her head propped up and closed her eyes to rest without a thought. She looked at the time. Zhang Chi had just sent her a message saying he had to work overtime and would be there in half an hour.
Auntie Wang came up to her and asked curiously, “How come that doctor looked at you like you were a potential daughter-in-law? Was she really here to see you or to size you up?”
“You could tell that?” Gu Shi smiled. “You’re very perceptive.”
Chen Ting’s mother’s judging eyes, her fake, polite smile, and her seemingly guileless courteous remarks made Gu Shi feel uncomfortable down in her bones. Even nonchalant Auntie Wang had noticed the strange vibes. Gu Shi’s intuition told her that Chen Ting was unaware of his mother’s visit, so she pretended like it never happened. Suddenly she felt a bit of sympathy for Chen Ting.
When Zhang Chi tiptoed into the room and took over for Auntie Wang, it was already 9 o’clock at night. He helped Gu Shi brush her teeth and wash her face, they he grabbed his notebook and lay on the single bedside cot and quietly watched Gu Shi.
No matter what angle, he never tired of looking at her natural face without any makeup on. Stray hairs hung down sexily on the tip of her nose. Her long eyelashes were like a butterfly alighting on a flower bud. Even as she rested she exuded an exquisite, unique air of sensitivity, fragility, and strength.
Her scent when he embracing, the taste of makeup when kissing… By comparison, Gu Shi was a pure and natural, unadulterated health food that most people would keep their respectful distance from, finding it tasteless. But he felt she was a sumptuous banquet. As he watched her, the notebook in his hand slipped and fell to the floor. Gu Shi heard it and looked at him.
“What’s the current case?” Gu Shi asked as she watched him deftly retrieve his notebook.
“Looks like it might be a case that has no use for me.” He smiled wryly.
She was skeptical. “Have you been to the scene?”
“Followed it closely, but I’ve somewhat lost my train of thought,” Zhang Chi said frankly.
Her expression was encouraging. He knew that even though she didn’t say thanks, she wanted to use her professional experience to help him. Her face had gotten more color over the last few days, and anyway she couldn’t sleep, and the other patients were not asleep either. Maybe whispering about the case might prove to be beneficial.
The case came right after Gu Shi had been attacked. Lacking their general, the tech team had to ask a fraternal unit to lend their trace analysis expert to help out, and Chen Ting came to assist.
The scene of the crime was a niche-themed hotel modeled after a Japanese love hotel. It was a self-service establishment. There was no main light in the room; it was kept dim to create a certain mood. Most of the windows airtight, the curtains drawn tight. It was dim and gloomy.
The hotel’s staff member was cleaning a room when she noticed a door lock had been damaged. This guest room’s theme was a sailboat, lit by a blue overhead light. She saw a wadded-up bath towel on the floor and was about to enter and pick it up when she noticed there was something under the towel——the corpse of a young man with his eyes open and tongue sticking out!
“The rope around his neck was from the sailboat decorations on the wall,” Zhang Chi stressed.
The janitor ran out screaming, drawing the attention of several guests. Some of the bolder ones entered the room to have a look, but every one of them quickly turned and ran out, pale-faced.
“Those guests made the scene into a real ‘haunted house’. How badly was the crime scene disturbed?” Gu Shi shook her head.