For The Rest Of Our Life – Chapter 156

End it with Xianxian

At noon, Lin Zhan rushed over from school and bought food outside the hospital to eat with Zhou Qin.

Just halfway through the meal, he received another call from his mother-in-law.

On the phone, Lin Xian’s grandmother first inquired about Zhou Qin’s test results for the day. Lin Zhan, fearing the old lady’s worry, only selectively mentioned the good news without telling her that Zhou Qin’s examination showed some heart issues and further tests were needed.

Upon hearing that the blood test results that had been done came back normal, the elderly lady breathed a sigh of relief. However, she then sternly expressed her disapproval, stating that no matter what, they should not joke about Lin Xian’s studies and how could they restrict her from taking exams. She also mentioned that although Lin Xian reluctantly ate the food, she never seems to have much of an appetite each time, whether she eats or not makes little difference. If they continue to have this standoff with Lin Xian, would they have to bring an extra set of bowls and chopsticks to the hospital? Educating children should not be done in such an arbitrary and overbearing manner.

The dissatisfaction and reproach in the elderly lady’s tone were clearly evident.

Lin Zhan awkwardly smiled as he listened to the elderly lady’s reproach, hung up the phone, and heaved a long sigh.

“What’s wrong?” Zhou Qin furrowed her brow and asked him.

After some consideration, Lin Zhan, recalling Lin Xian’s tearful questioning the day before and his own sleepless night of contemplation, felt shaken.

He pursed his lips and responded, half-truthfully, “I didn’t dare to tell you yesterday, but Xianxian stopped eating once she got back home.”

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Zhou Qin’s face immediately changed.

Lin Zhan took a deep breath and gently continued, “Mom is not very pleased with the way we are restricting Lin Xian’s freedom and not letting her take the exams. Moreover, Lin Xian hasn’t eaten anything today, and Mom is worried she won’t be able to endure it. Qinqin, this matter won’t be resolved in the short term. It’s not a solution to be at an impasse like this. Let’s both take a step back with Xianxian and give each other some time to slowly resolve this, okay?”

Zhou Qin scrutinized Lin Zhan with intense eyes. After a moment, she lowered her eyelids and spoke disappointedly, “Lin Zhan, have you softened your stance again? Are you now able to accept them being together? If I don’t agree, and if something happens to Xianxian, will you blame me? Will the whole family blame me?” Although she and Lin Zhan were considered a loving and harmonious couple after half a lifetime together, when it came to educating Lin Xian, they always had significant differences.

“I haven’t. Qinqin, I…” He could sense the chill in Zhou Qin’s tone and quickly tried to explain himself. But before he could finish his sentence, Zhou Qin interrupted him.

“It’s good if you haven’t. Lin Zhan, I won’t rely on you anymore, but please don’t hinder me either. Lin Xian is immature and unreasonable, there should be someone sensible who can communicate with her. Help me call Xiaowan. I want to have a calm conversation with her.”

With his wife’s tone leaving no room for doubt, Lin Zhan, unwilling to provoke her further, reluctantly sighed heavily and agreed.

Upon waking from the nightmare, facing the same cruel reality, Xiao Wanqing was like a taut bowstring, straining under this state, unsure of how much more pressure she could bear, uncertain of when it might snap.

Lost in thought, she was hesitating on whether to call Lin Zhan when his phone call came.

Just moments before, she had received a query on WeChat from Chen Zhi, asking if she knew that Lin Xian had missed the morning exam and was unreachable in various ways. Feeling perplexed, she found it odd that she didn’t know what Shi Man is doing either. Bewildered at the inexplicable situation, similar to Lin Xian’s mysterious absence, it felt as if they had vanished into thin air, wondering if they were together.

Upon hearing that Lin Xian hadn’t even attended the exam, Xiao Wanqing’s heart sank, feeling a sense of urgency and panic. She could comprehend why Zhou Qin wouldn’t allow Lin Xian to communicate with her and might resist granting her freedom for the time being. However, she couldn’t grasp why Zhou Qin would prevent Lin Xian from taking the exam.

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This was no trivial matter. She wasn’t sure if Lin Xian had arranged for a leave of absence to delay the exam. But if it was a case of absentia, the consequences could be severe, and Xiao Wanqing found it hard to believe that Zhou Qin, as a teacher, wouldn’t understand the repercussions. Lin Xian aimed for postgraduate studies, and losing a high-grade point average would directly impede her competitiveness.

She couldn’t suppress the urge to communicate with Lin Zhan and Zhou Qin, but as she picked up her phone, she couldn’t help but hesitate.

Is now the best time? Are they calmer now? Would her presence in their lives add fuel to the fire with Lin Xian? Yet she couldn’t just stand by and watch them jeopardize Lin Xian’s future.

In the midst of her hesitation, unexpectedly, Lin Zhan took the initiative to call.

He said, “Qinqin wants to see you and talk.”

The sudden opportunity to meet she had yearned for became a reality. Xiao Wanqing was momentarily caught off guard, as if frozen in place. She was stunned for two seconds before solemnly replying, “Okay, I’ll come over right now.”

In the hospital, after hanging up the phone, Lin Zhan replied to Zhou Qin with a solemn expression, “She said she’ll come over immediately.”

Zhou Qin calmly instructed him, “Go busy yourself at the school; I’ll handle this matter with her.”

Lin Zhan, looking at his wife, who was as stubborn and determined as their daughter, felt complex emotions. He wasn’t sure if telling Zhou Qin about Lin Xian’s hunger strike had been a smart move.

Well, this matter would ultimately be difficult to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction. If, if they could somehow convince Xiao Wanqing to break up, no matter what, that would still count as a resolution.

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Xiao Wanqing had injured her foot last night, with small yet dense wounds, causing Weng Tong to worry. She took her to a nearby hospital to remove glass shards, treated the small wounds for infection, stitched up a deeper, longer cut, and administered a tetanus shot. Her foot was wrapped in gauze, making it inconvenient to wear shoes when going out.

After hanging up the phone, Xiao Wanqing acted without hesitation. Limping, she walked to the nearby cabinet, retrieved the first-aid kit, and removed the gauze from her foot decisively, replacing it with neat adhesive strips that covered the wound. She then went to the bathroom, tidied herself up, donned a mask, grabbed her bag and file pouch, and endured the pain as she furrowed her brow while putting on her shoes at the entrance before leaving in a dignified manner.

Due to her ear and foot injuries, Xiao Wanqing didn’t drive herself. She hailed a cab at the entrance of the residential area, and reluctantly provided the address for Xiehe.

The route from the Southern District to Xiehe would unavoidably pass the intersection where her parents had the accident, leading to a sharp intake of breath from Xiao Wanqing. She instructed the driver to avoid that particular road and take a detour. Then, she kept her head down, focusing on her phone screen, scrolling through the past communication records with Lin Xian, afraid of witnessing the passing landmarks along the way.

Finally, the car pulled up at the hospital entrance. She had endured the nightmarish journey and arrived at another place of torment.

At a small shop near the hospital, she bought a basket of fruit, enduring the mental discomfort and physical pain. Like a soldier marching into battle, she straightened her posture and calmly made her way to the ward where Zhou Qin was, displaying a resolute determination.

Only she knew the chaos raging within her heart.

When Zhou Qin saw Xiao Wanqing for the first time, her gaze landed on the mask. She nodded, signaling for Xiao Wanqing to come in.

Enduring the pain, Xiao Wanqing entered the ward with a natural pose, placing the basket of fruit and standing awkwardly.

Zhou Qin seemed to age ten years in an instant, and Xiao Wanqing felt a pang in her heart. “Sis, are you okay?” In reality, earlier, Wen Tong had checked with Lin Zhan on her condition. But she couldn’t help but show her concern in person.

Lin Zhan had mentioned that Zhou Qin had a weak heart and couldn’t tolerate major shocks.

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Zhou Qin casually greeted, “It’s nothing major, there’s a chair under the bed, pull it out and have a seat.”

Xiao Wanqing obediently followed the instruction, her demeanor so well-behaved that Zhou Qin couldn’t help but recall those years when Xiao Wanqing was still a child. Remembering the times when Uncle Xiao and Auntie Xiao visited her parents and left Xiao Wanqing in her care, guiding her through homework.

Her heart felt bitter. After all, she had watched her little sister grow up. How did things end up like this?

“What happened to your foot?” She could still sense Xiao Wanqing’s unease.

Was she showing concern for her? Xiao Wanqing bit her lip, feeling a moistness in her heart. “Accidentally got a small cut from glass, nothing serious,” she replied in a forced nonchalant manner.

“Your face? Is it okay? I was quite harsh that day.” Zhou Qin felt conflicted, showing both pity and annoyance towards Xiao Wanqing, her tone so neutral that no emotions could be discerned.

“It’s nothing. It was my… I deserved those hits.” Xiao Wanqing lowered her head, filled with a bitter sense of guilt.

The atmosphere plummeted to freezing point with that statement. Zhou Qin recalled the scene of her and Lin Xian lying on the bed, remembering the anger of that moment, and also recalling her initial purpose in summoning Xiao Wanqing. Her gaze gradually turned cold, the fleeting warmth she had shown moments before vanished like a mirage.

After a few seconds of silence, she cut to the chase and solemnly demanded, “Xiaowan, end it with Xianxian.”

She was unwilling to even use the term “break up” because she didn’t want to acknowledge the absurdity of their relationship.

But in the end, it had to come to this.

Xiao Wanqing forced herself, gritting her teeth, restraining the overwhelming guilt and shame that threatened to engulf her heart, summoning the courage to meet Zhou Qin’s icy gaze head-on.

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