STT – Chapter 41

I am willing to do it for you

Jiang Wang leaned weakly against the elevator wall, spreading her palm and gazing blankly. In the center of her hand, she could still vividly feel the sensation of Xu Baihan’s long, dense eyelashes gently brushing against it. The warmth left by Xu Baihan’s forehead was still burning in her heart, so tangible and real.

At the moment of skin contact, she keenly sensed the palpitations and sighs from the depths of her heart, almost instantly causing her legs to go weak, unable to support her body.

Through tear-filled eyes, she had prayed countless times never to see Xu Baihan again. During silent nights or in dream-like moments, she had also imagined numerous scenarios of their reunion. Would it be a meeting where both forget the past? Xu Baihan smiling faintly while she watches in silence? Or would it be a reunion without joy, leaving Xu Baihan stunned and her standing there in a daze? Yet, she had never considered that she had long lost the courage to meet her again. Because love was not right, hate was not right, smiling wasn’t either, nor was crying…

At the moment when she saw Xu Baihan about to fall, apart from panic, she had no room to think about anything else. The torment of fear and resentment that had haunted her for years suddenly vanished from her mind.

Jiang Wang gradually clenched her fist, revealing a bitter smile filled with pain. She asked herself, Yun Bo, haven’t twelve years been enough? How many more years will it take for you to truly forget, to change this involuntary habit of loving her?

She loved Xu Baihan beyond everything, including herself. Over the years, every time she thought of Xu Baihan, her heart would ache, and she would become tender-hearted. She would take out all those hurts and review them repeatedly, picking at the scabs that had already healed deep inside her heart. She watched them, gradually oozing fresh blood, the pain so intense that she could hardly breathe. It was only then, in that excruciating moment, that she would firmly reaffirm her belief of not loving anymore, telling herself to forget it all, that the scars had healed, but the pain should be remembered.

Once again, she relived the night from many years ago when she and Xu Baihan had been entwined intimately. She held Xu Baihan’s naked body in her arms, full of tenderness, and asked her earnestly, “Baihan, I really, truly love you. Do you love me?” At that time, Xu Baihan had turned her back to her, silent. She still hoped, willing to lower herself to the dust, and asked again cautiously, “Even a little bit would be enough, Baihan…” But Xu Baihan’s breathing was deep and steady, as if she had already fallen asleep. She closed her eyes in pain, not knowing yet that she could never awaken someone pretending to be asleep…

Until that year, she disregarded everything, only to receive Xu Baihan’s turning away from her once again. The sea engulfed her body, swallowed her consciousness, and the cold, salty water made it impossible for her to breathe. It was then that she despaired and finally understood that Xu Baihan never loved her, never would…

Over the years, no one had taught her how to love. She was like a cactus, growing tenaciously in the desert of dried emotions, covered in thorns to protect herself. Until she met Xu Baihan, she willingly pulled out all her thorns and drained all her nutrients, blooming a delicate flower, hoping her sincerity would be carefully nurtured by Xu Baihan. But in the end, Xu Baihan told her that a thornless cactus could only be discarded after being admired…

Love, how precious yet extravagant it was. To intertwine hearts did not necessarily mean receiving the same treatment from others.

Jiang Wang’s right hand clenched tightly around the left hand that had once touched Xu Baihan’s warmth, squeezing it until it almost turned blue and purple. In her heart, she coldly admonished herself, “Jiang Wang, you only need to love yourself.”

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As the elevator door opened, Jiang Wang’s face had already resumed its usual cold and indifferent expression. There was no trace of emotion in her eyes, and she walked out with a straight and proud posture, taking long strides.

The Yun Bo who had loved without reservation had long been buried in that cold sea.

When Lu Zizheng heard that Jiang Huaixi was looking for her, she almost leaped up in an instant. Disregarding putting on her clothes, she hastily slipped on her shoes and rushed out like the wind.

When Jiang Huaichuan came to bring her food in the morning, she carefully tried to inquire about Jiang Huaixi’s whereabouts. However, Jiang Huaichuan simply told her in a calm tone that if Jiang Huaixi wanted to see her, he would naturally inform her. So, she remained motionless on the hospital bed, afraid that Jiang Huaixi didn’t want to see her and didn’t dare to rashly go looking for her. She feared leaving in case Jiang Huaixi wanted to see her but couldn’t find her.

Lu Zizheng rushed all the way to Jiang Huaixi’s hospital room, but just as she was about to reach out and touch the door to push it open, she suddenly felt a bit timid and hesitant…

Would Huaixi be disappointed in her?

Jiang Huaixi had long heard the hurried footsteps outside the corridor. Listening to those footsteps, getting closer and closer, finally stopping at her room’s door. Her voice sounded weak and hoarse as she said, “Zizheng, is that you? Come in…”

Lu Zizheng gently pushed open the door, took a few steps inside, closed the door behind her, and stood by the door, staring at Jiang Huaixi without blinking.

Huaixi looked so haggard, her face even paler than usual. Seeing Jiang Huaixi’s ink-black eyes calmly sizing her up, then gradually frowning as if displeased, Lu Zizheng’s heart tightened in an instant.

Indeed, Jiang Huaixi furrowed her brows, her gaze sharp as she stared at Lu Zizheng, her voice cold and clear, “Zizheng, there’s something you probably still don’t understand.”

Lu Zizheng looked bewildered and lost, fearing the tone with which Jiang Huaixi was speaking to her. In that instant, her heart was in her throat.

Jiang Huaixi continued, “Listen carefully, your life was saved by me. Therefore, no one, including yourself, can harm it.” She paused and asked with emphasis, “Do you understand?”

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On this fickle March day, she ran out wearing only a thin shirt. Did she really not know how to take care of herself properly and put her mind at ease? Jiang Huaixi couldn’t help but feel a hint of anger.

Upon hearing this, Lu Zizheng froze. She stared at Jiang Huaixi, and in her peripheral vision, she noticed Jiang Huaixi tightly wrapping her wrist with gauze. Her eyes immediately welled up with tears, she lowered her head, and in a choked voice, she murmured, “Huaixi, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

But Jiang Huaixi kept staring at her, her voice sharp, “Zizheng, I despise meaningless apologies the most. If apologies were effective, then there wouldn’t be so much love and resentment in this world.”

Lu Zizheng bit her lip, unable to reply. Under Jiang Huaixi’s cold and stern gaze, she looked like a child who had made a mistake, nervously clasping her hands together. Tears had welled up in her long eyelashes, and her big eyes were filled with confusion and panic.

Jiang Huaixi couldn’t bear to see her in such distress, so she turned her head and looked out of the window, saying calmly, “If you really feel sorry for me, then do something for me. After I’m discharged, I need to rest in Ji’an and will require someone to take care of my daily life. Come with me.”

Lu Zizheng looked at Jiang Huaixi’s pale and beautiful profile, biting her lip with hesitation. She didn’t know where to place herself, what was the right thing to do. The closer she got, the more she longed for it, and the more unwilling and afraid she became. She was afraid of hurting Jiang Huaixi again.

After a long silence without hearing Lu Zizheng’s response, Jiang Huaixi turned back and said indifferently, “Unwilling? Do you feel wronged?”

Lu Zizheng hurriedly and anxiously shook her head to clarify…

“That is…?”

Lu Zizheng’s fist tightened and then relaxed. After a long time, she finally made up her mind and answered softly, “I am willing to accompany you.”

However, Jiang Huaixi was still not satisfied with her attitude and asked for further confirmation, “Willingly?”

Lu Zizheng raised her head and looked directly into Jiang Huaixi’s eyes, her gaze firm and resolute, “Willingly.”

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Jiang Huaixi looked at her, and a smile gradually appeared on her face. She praised, “Very well…” She noticed the redness around Lu Zizheng’s eyes and the dark circles beneath them, and her heart slightly ached. She relaxed her expression, showing a gentle look, and gestured to Lu Zizheng with a slight wave of her hand, beckoning her, “Come here.”

Enchanted by the tenderness in Jiang Huaixi’s gaze, Lu Zizheng took hesitant steps towards her, feeling captivated. Finally, she stood by Jiang Huaixi’s bedside.

Unexpectedly, Jiang Huaixi lifted the blanket and said softly, “Come up.”

Lu Zizheng stared at Jiang Huaixi in confusion, not understanding what she meant.

Jiang Huaixi showed some impatience as she furrowed her brows and said, “Do you want to catch a cold and make people worry?”

Lu Zizheng noticed that Jiang Huaixi seemed a little unhappy, so without a second thought, she quickly crawled up and, in the next moment, found herself embraced in a warm hug, dispelling the chill that had surrounded her.

She could hear Jiang Huaixi holding her tightly, as if trying to pull her into her own body, and sighing softly, “You really don’t make anyone feel at ease…”

Resting her head on Jiang Huaixi’s chest, Lu Zizheng felt like a wild bird that had been flying aimlessly for a long time and finally found a place to land. In an instant, her heart settled, and she felt the urge to shed tears.

Jiang Huaixi gently rested her chin on Lu Zizheng’s soft hair and softly asked, “Are you tired? Take a rest for a while.”

Lu Zizheng lifted her head, looking at Jiang Huaixi’s calm but undeniably tender expression, her dim eyes gradually brightening. She lightly rubbed her head against Jiang Huaixi’s chin and softly replied, “Mm.”

However, after closing her eyes for a while, Lu Zizheng opened them again and found that Jiang Huaixi, who had been gazing at her all this time, noticed her and asked in confusion, “What’s wrong?”

Lu Zizheng blinked her eyes and whispered, “It’s too bright…”

Jiang Huaixi curved her eyebrows, her gaze gentle as water. She withdrew one hand from Lu Zizheng’s waist and gently covered Lu Zizheng’s eyes, using an unusually tender voice to soothe her, “Not bright anymore, go to sleep.”

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With that, she felt Lu Zizheng gently nuzzling against her neck, and at the corner of her lips, a satisfied smile appeared. She heard a soft “Mm” from Lu Zizheng, and then there was no more movement as she fell into a deep slumber.

Half awake, Lu Zizheng faintly heard someone saying to her, “Zizheng, I’m sorry, I love you…”

Lu Zizheng was truly exhausted and drowsy in the embrace of such tender affection. She was reluctant to open her eyes. If she could stay in this embrace forever, she would be willing to sleep and never wake up…

When Mother Jiang entered the room, she saw Jiang Huaixi holding Lu Zizheng, one hand wrapped around Lu Zizheng’s waist, and the other gently lifted, covering Lu Zizheng’s eyes as they slept peacefully.

Mother Jiang quietly closed the door, feeling some concern for Jiang Huaixi. It was difficult to sleep in such a position. She approached Jiang Huaixi gently, reaching out to take the hand covering Lu Zizheng’s eyes, intending to help her put it down. However, as soon as her hand touched Jiang Huaixi’s, Jiang Huaixi opened her eyes.

Feeling a bit embarrassed, Mother Jiang said, “Did I wake you?”

Jiang Huaixi glanced at Lu Zizheng, who was sleeping soundly in her arms, and shook her head softly, saying, “No, I haven’t been able to sleep.” After a moment of silence, she looked up at Mother Jiang and made a sudden request, “Mother, please call the people in Ji’an and have them prepare the house. After a few days of being discharged, I want to stay there with Zizheng for a while.”

Mother Jiang was taken aback and instinctively wanted to intervene, saying, “Huaixi, isn’t it better to go home after being discharged? Your body is so weak, how can we feel at ease? Nothing compares to being at home. Grandma has already cleaned up a room for Zizheng, right next to yours. We, as a family, can take care of Zizheng together, love and cherish her. Isn’t that good?”

Jiang Huaixi hesitated, her gaze deep and solemn as she looked at Mother Jiang. After a moment, she lowered her head and gently gazed at Lu Zizheng, softly explaining, “I don’t feel at ease letting Zizheng live alone. And I’m afraid she might feel uncomfortable staying at our home. Going to Ji’an would provide her with a different environment, and perhaps, it could help her forget some of the pain here.”

Mother Jiang looked at Jiang Huaixi’s unusual tenderness, and her heart couldn’t help but feel a pang. She knew all along that she couldn’t persuade Jiang Huaixi to change her mind. Even though she was reluctant and worried, she could only grit her teeth and agree, “Alright, Huaixi, but you have to promise me, you must take good care of yourself, and you can’t… you can’t make us worry and be afraid again…” After saying that, Mother Jiang’s eyes turned red, and she turned to leave.

However, Jiang Huaixi reached out and grabbed Mother Jiang’s hand, earnestly saying, “Mom, I’ve been sorry all along…”

Mother Jiang turned back, tears streaming down her face, looking at her guilt-ridden, pale and weak Jiang Huaixi. She gently shook her head and caressed Jiang Huaixi’s face, then touched Lu Zizheng’s head, sighing, “Silly child, Mom understands. Mom only wants, Mom only wants both of you to be well…”

Jiang Huaixi raised an eyebrow and smiled warmly at Mother Jiang.

In her dream, Lu Zizheng dreamed of wandering through a seemingly endless forest, feeling lost and without a way out. Finally, she discovered a faintly glowing path leading to an exit. Beside her, a hand tightly held hers, fingers interlocked, reassuringly saying, “Zizheng, don’t be afraid, I’m here.”

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