Qi Jings hunch proved to be right.
When he got to the clinic, there was already a line of people queueing in the waiting room. It seemed like the business was pretty good. Its probably because the weather had been cold and rainy these past few days, resulting in an increase in animals falling ill. On top of that, today was a Friday, which meant that many pet owners took the opportunity of leaving work early to bring their pets to the clinic. Qi Jing supposed that he would have to wait for quite a while.
As his right hand was being used to hold Little Return Date, he couldnt even hold his umbrella properly. On his way to the clinic, several parts of his body got drenched by the rain and his hair was dripping wet. In addition to that, his left arm was covered in a thick plaster cast and he looked no better than the little cat in his arms.
They received a lot of weird looks when the sick person plus sick cat combo walked through the door.
All the other pet owners had cages and pet carriers, while he was the only one who came with a blanket wrapped around Little Return Date. Needless to say, they appeared rather shabby in comparison.
Qi Jing hurriedly put away his umbrella and let Little Return Date lay on his lap. Then, a lady who seemed to be a front desk receptionist came up to him to get him to pay a 15 yuan registration fee, register, and wait for his turn to do the check-up. He paid the money and the reception lady left without looking back.
Since he came late, all the slightly more comfortable seats were already occupied, leaving only the seat closest to the entrance of the clinic. While he waited, people frequently went in and out through the door. The door would often either be wide open or not properly closed. Qi Jing who was already wet with clothes sticking to his skin was chilled to his bones when the cold breeze of late autumn hit him.
“Achoo!” Qi Jing couldnt help but sneeze.
Little Return Date, who was lying groggily on his lap, raised its head in response, poking out a paw like it wanted to pat Qi Jing. He couldnt help but smile at that as he gently pressed his finger against the centre of its paw, playing with it to relieve both their boredom.
“Youve infected me. Look, Im sneezing just like you.”
Little Return Date narrowed its eyes angrily before turning its body to rub its head against Qi Jings abdomen, as if it was really repenting.
Both big and little return dates waited nearly an hour before it was their turn to see the doctor.
The vet at the clinic asked some basic questions about the kittys condition, but Qi Jing could only give vague answers. He was particularly clueless when it came to its age and medical history.
The vet was rather confused and asked, “This isnt your cat”
“Not exactly. Its a stray cat I picked up two days ago,” Qi Jing answered truthfully.
He was the type of person that with one look, anyone could see he had never owned a cat before.
“Oh...” the vet remarked meaningfully with a raised brow.
After sizing up Qi Jings appearance, without a change in his expression, he stated the tests that need to be done, “From what you just told me, this cat needs to do a few tests. First, we need to do a blood test, then a check on whether it has feline distemper. Its best if we do a test for feline infectious peritonitis as well, and let it stay overnight for observation. What do you think”
Qi Jing stared blankly while trying to digest the doctors word. He did not understand any of the key terms that were said at all.
Previously, when he did the special coverage on the cat abuse incident, all the cats that he had come into contact with suffered from external trauma. Besides, the follow-up on the adoption was his main focus, so he avoided using medical jargon as much as he could and didnt specifically learn them. Those parts... had always been written by the doctor himself, he only quoted what he had received.
There seemed to be a break in his thoughts when his mind drifted to another doctor. He shook his head with a frown and pulled himself out of it, just in time.
—Theres a life at stake right now.
“Ok, well do as you said.”
“Then, for today, youll have to pay 600 first.” the vet said before calling over the receptionist to settle the bill.
Qi Jing was stunned by that figure; he didnt expect that the charges for veterinary treatment nowadays would be this costly. As he left his house in a hurry, he didnt bring his card with him and didnt have that much cash on him either.
He had no choice but to explain himself, “Sorry, I dont have enough money on me right now. Can you do the tests first Ill take this time to go home and get some.”
The receptionist lady spoke this time, “At our clinic, you have to pay first before we can start doing any tests. Go home and get the money first, then well do the tests when you get back.”
Qi Jing was at a loss for words for a moment but kept his calm and said, “Ill tell you what, I only have about 200 yuan on me at the moment, so do what you can first, and Ill come back and pay for the rest.”
The doctor gave him a look of admiration and seemed to admire him for being this generous for a stray cat.
Then, two young ladies, in nurses uniform, came over and took Little Return Date away from his arms. They brought it inside the room to draw blood for testing and checked for feline distemper with test strips.
Qi Jing rushed back home to take his credit cards and some cash before heading right back to the clinic. He had lost any mood to prepare dinner.
As soon as he entered the clinic, he was greeted with the sight of Little Return Date, who was wrapped up in the blanket and simply being left in a corner, outside the lab.
When they saw the hint of anger on his face, the nurse explained that he didnt have a cage and they werent sure about the stray cats condition. Hence, they didnt dare to put it with other cats and temporarily left it in the corner.
Qi Jing endured it and didnt say anything. He went over himself to pick Little Return Date up.
The area on Little Return Dates neck where blood was drawn was currently reeking of a fishy, alcoholic smell and its fur was messed up, like a birds nest. It curled up and shivered in his arms.
It seemed to have suffered a lot in the half an hour that he was gone.
“The blood test results are out. This cat has low white blood cell count and the test strip also came out positive, so our preliminary conclusion is that it has feline distemper. To be on the safe side, well do another peritonitis test. Hell have to be hospitalised and put on drip tonight.
The vet showed Qi Jing a stack of lab reports before taking them away just as quickly, knowing that he wouldnt understand them anyway.
It was true that Qi Jing didnt understand the densely packed data on the papers, but according to the doctor, peritonitis has a fatality rate of 95%, with young cats being especially vulnerable to it. When he heard that, he couldnt help but feel his blood run cold.
The one thing he couldnt stand the most in his entire life was watching a little life being lost right before his eyes.
Anyway, the money had already been paid so the vet is free to do whatever tests he deemed fit. Qi Jing would judge what to do next after the stay at the clinic for overnight observation.
Little Return Date was placed on a steel bed with a disposable diaper under it as the nurse prepared its drip. The little guy seemed to have developed a great fear of needles and struggled desperately. It held Qi Jings arm in a death grip, digging its nails into him as it cried. However, for the sake of its recovery, Qi Jing had no choice but to harden his heart and ignore it. He frowned as he watched the nurses surround and hold the little guy down, finally inserting the indwelling venous needle.
After the area where the IV was inserted had been wrapped in gauze, Little Return Date gave up resisting and wearily curled up into a ball. Qi Jing didnt know if the symptoms had worsened as its eyes were all watery.
When he thought about the fact that its going to spend the night all alone in the clinic, surrounded by strangers, Qi Jing suddenly felt that the scene before him overlapped with when he was hospitalised, which made it even harder for his heart to bear.
He implored the nurses for a small stool.
At least for now, he could accompany the little guy by its bedside for a while, gently rubbing it behind its ear, calming its fears. Only after the little guy fell asleep did he get up and take his leave.
It was completely dark when he returned to his apartment, and the temperature was lower than it had been during the day.
After getting soaked by the rain, as he was in a hurry and didnt have time to change his clothes, the three to four hours spent taking care of Little Return Date was spent in wet clothes that stuck to his body, which was then dried by the cold winds. Now that he was back home, where the temperature was higher and he gradually warmed up a bit, it was only then that he felt a chill permeate his limbs and couldnt help but start shivering.
“Achoo!” He sneezed yet again.
Not only did Little Return Date pass on the sneeze to him, but now both human and cat were showing symptoms of fever.
He started feeling a dull pain on either temple—a symptom of a severe cold that Qi Jing was well acquainted with. He hadnt eaten dinner yet, but he didnt have any appetite at all. Despite that, his stomach started cramping from the lack of food, so he ran to the kitchen to get himself a glass of water to settle it.
Even when he went to his room, he still wasnt in a hurry to change his clothes but instead, turned on his computer and logged in to QQ.
It was already past their agreed timing, there was no doubt that he was late...
As expected, Geese Fly Norths profile picture quietly hung on the list of people online. He left two messages, at 6 and 7 PM, both with the simple message: “Are you there”. Of course not, he was still in the clinic with Little Return Date at that time.
Qi Jing barely picked up his spirits and hastily put his headphones on.
“Hello” After the call connected, he tried calling out in his terribly nasally voice. “Im so sorry, something came up today.”
“Its alright. Did you catch a cold” Geese Fly North was quick to detect that something was wrong with him.
“Im fine, just a little uncomfortable.” It wasnt just a little; he was feeling extremely uncomfortable from the sopping wet clothes. If he didnt get out of it soon, he would develop a high fever for sure.
Itd be over if both big and little return dates fell sick at the same time.
In order to prevent that from happening, Qi Jing plastered on a smile and said, “Geese Fly North-sama, can you wait for me for a bit I just need to change my clothes. Its been a few hours since I got caught in the rain and I havent had an opening to change. Ah, but my hand is in a cast and Im not the most agile right now, so youll have to give me at least ten minutes...”
The other side just froze at his words.
“Dont say any more; go ahead and do what you have to do. Also, dont just change out of your clothes, go take a hot bath to wash away the coldness,” Geese Fly North said promptly in a serious tone.
Qi Jing quickly tried to laugh it off. “But itll take much longer if I showered. Im afraid you—”
That man stopped him from going any further and made a four-word promise: “Ill wait for you.”
Since Geese Fly North was being so insistent, Qi Jing had no choice but to end the call for now. He went to the bathroom, stripped himself of his wet clothes, wrapped the cast in plastic, and happily took a hot shower.
As he raised his head to the hot water raining down on him, he couldnt help but shudder. Sure enough, much of the chill in his body dissipated with the hot shower.
Changing clothes and taking a shower were two tricky tasks that took him thirty to forty minutes every day. And since he was in a condition worse than usual today, by the time he came out in clean clothes, an hour had passed.
However, he did feel much more comfortable than before.
Qi Jing regained a bit of his strength and sent another request for a voice call.
“Thank you for waiting for me,” he said with a grateful smile on his face; hopefully, he was able to transmit that feeling through the clarity of his voice.
“Are you ok” That man repeated the same words he had asked Qi Jing when they first reunited.
“I...” The memory of today flashed before his eyes; the haggard appearance of the Little Return Date was vivid in his mind. Qi Jing suddenly felt a trace of bitterness in his throat, and before he knew it, he actually replied honestly, “Not really.”
Perhaps it was because he was sick that he could easily express his true feelings.
After a long pause, he heard Geese Fly North say with a sigh from the other end of the line, “Why did you still run about in the rain when youre injured”
Qi Jing sighed in turn and replied with a smile, “Do you still remember the little cat I picked up the other day It felt sick for some reason; it was burning all over and seemed to be in a really terrible condition. I was worried it might have caught some serious illness, so I took it out to see a doctor.”
Hearing that, Geese Fly North suddenly blurted out in a daze, “Then how come I didnt see—”
Before abruptly cutting himself short.
The source of this content is n/ov/elb/in[./]net'
After just a few seconds, he sounded less startled but his voice sank. “I... I didnt see you online... So thats why.”
It was a completely illogical mumbling where he answered his own question.
Qi Jing found it strange but just replied with a smile, “Yeah, I was in the clinic for the whole of just now.”
Geese Fly North repeated mechanically, “...Clinic...”
“Mhm, its quite near my house—about a fifteen-minute walk away.” Then, Qi Jing explained the reason he got soaked in the rain, “But because I had to hold the cat with my uninjured hand, I couldnt hold the umbrella properly. Coupled with the winds and everything, I ended up being drenched. Ah, but luckily, the cast didnt get wet, otherwise, I would have been in trouble.”
As he said that, Qi Jing chuckled with great relief.
No matter how difficult the situation, he would always manage to unearth one or two cheerful things from it; such was a needed optimism.
Geese Fly North listened quietly and waited until he had finished before asking, “What did the doctor say”
“The doctor said—actually I dont quite understand what he said.” Qi Jing recalled the conversation at the time and briefly summarised it, “He said that the white blood cell count was low and that it might have feline distemper... He also said that they needed to do some other tests. The little guy is currently on drip and staying at the clinic; Ill go check on him again tomorrow.”
“Do you know how old the cat is” Geese Fly North asked again.
“I dont know... It just looked very young.” He could tell with one look that Little Return Date was a kitten, seeing how it was still stumbling all over the place as it walked.
“Did it eat anything today Did it vomit” Geese Fly North asked yet another question, in a low voice.
“The kitten ate but I didnt see it vomit. It didnt feel any different between today and yesterday, in terms of eating, its just very languid.” He had been asked the same questions at the clinic earlier today, so his answers flowed out fluently.
The other party didnt say anything for a brief moment, as if he was hesitating whether he should continue or not, if he should say it or not.
In the end, he still couldnt remain silent on the matter. “It doesnt sound like feline distemper. However... its hard to judge just by listening.”
Hearing that, Qi Jing instinctively teased him with a smile, “Keke, you sound like a doctor.”
Geese Fly North suddenly turned to stone.
No more words could be heard from the headphones for a while.
Just then, Qi Jing suddenly felt an itch in his throat and couldnt help but start coughing violently.
Crap, he didnt notice it when he got back home but now, he could feel a burning pain at the back of his throat when he coughed. His cough sounded croaky and it was becoming more apparent that he had caught a cold.
Looks like I wont be able to escape from this.
“C-Cough, cough, cough... Ah, so sorry, let me go get some water... Cough, cough.”
Qi Jing was coughing so hard his brows knitted together. He had no choice but to politely call for a pause in their conversation, to get himself another cup of water from the living room. He brought a hand to his burning throat and gently pressed on it before reaching his hand out to pick up the glass he had placed on the other end of the table. However, the moment he stood up, his vision suddenly blacked out and the world spun around him; he almost fell over.
In the rush of the moment, his right hand banged onto the table in his bid to stop his fall. The computer desk couldnt help but shake when he knocked into it hard, causing the glass to fall onto the wooden flooring with a crash, smashing to smithereens. Under the reflection of the light from the incandescent lamp, the numerous shards of glass appeared deathly pale.
Oh right... he hasnt had his dinner yet. It seemed like he stood up too fast and got light-headed from his low blood sugar.
Well, as long as he didnt break his arm again after it got fixed.
After calming himself down, Qi Jing propped up his body. The buzzing in his head gradually cleared up and he finally heard that persons anxious shouts from the headphones on the desk.
Since he wasnt wearing the headphones, Qi Jing couldnt quite hear what he was shouting. However... it sounded like his real name was being called.
Oh crap, my cold has gotten so bad Im starting to hear things.
Qi Jing actually hit the table quite hard just now; he gasped for air while grimacing in pain and barely forced a smile.
How could Geese fly north possibly know my real name I have heard wrong.
Ah, he probably heard the commotion happening on this side but didnt know what happened, so hes worried now, isnt he
“Im fine, Im fine!” Qi Jing hastily grabbed the headphones and yelled into the microphone after he steadied himself. “I was just a little dizzy when I got up just now and bumped into the table, knocking over the glass, but I am alright.”
With his ear pressed against the side of the headset, all Qi Jing could hear from that angle was the mans non-stop panting.
After this scare, even his cough was gone. Right now, he was no longer in a hurry to get water and had even less energy to clean up the broken glass, so he decided to just put his headphones back on and asked, “What were you shouting just now My headphones were on the table, so I didnt quite catch it.”
Geese Fly North didnt say anything.
I mustve given him quite the scare. All he could hear was the other partys low breaths with no sign of answering anytime soon.
Qi Jing felt really bad and apologised sincerely, “Im sorry for making you worry. Im really alright. Its just that I havent had my dinner and came online the moment I got home from the clinic, so my blood sugar is low at the moment and I just feel a little light-headed.”
Qi Jing could only continue finding words, to comfort the other party. “Ah, but... I ate a lot for lunch and the food I got was based on the email you sent me. I guess I replenished a decent amount of nutrients.”
Qi Jing pressed on, this time, with a slightly awkward smile on his face. “Ive been having takeaways during my hospitalisation and even after I got home, Ive also had some outside food. I know its greasy and not nutritious, but look, Ive started to improve on my diet, havent I Ill start cooking my own meals and have mild food as much as possible, so that I can get well soon.”
Still no reply.
At that point, Qi Jing didnt know what else to say, so he followed suit and fell silent.
Just then, Geese Fly Norths deep voice sounded in his ears. “Actually, Ive been meaning to ask; what about your family Why dont you have anyone around to help you”
Be it cooking, or falling sick, or taking care of the kitten—there was no one around to help him.
The emotions that had been buried for a long time were unearthed by those words. Qi Jing blinked blankly as he felt a sharp flash of pain.
He stared straight at the shattered glass on the floor, before finally managing a forced laugh.
“No,” he said, “I dont have a family. They threw me away after I came out of the closet, and I live alone now.”
The words came out naturally.
There were many kindred spirits within the circle and even if they werent, their acceptance for people like him were high, so he could speak frankly.
The scars were old, but they still hurt when they were uncovered.
He heard his voice becoming more nasally towards the end of the sentence and had no choice but to take deep breaths in order to suppress the tremor in his voice as best as he could.
Finally, he said with a weak smile, “Im sorry that you had to hear about my embarrassing story.”
“Return date,” Geese Fly North suddenly called out to him.
He stopped dazedly, waiting for him to continue. However, what Geese Fly North said next was not a response to whatever he said, but something that sounded completely unrelated.
“Will you find it strange if I were to visit you.”
It was the exact same words as yesterday.
Only this time, the questioning tone in his voice had disappeared; it was as if he was stating a matter that had already been decided.
When Qi Jing processed the other partys words, he thought it was just the latters habit of comforting out of politeness, so he replied with a smile, “Hmm Youre really planning on parachuting over”
This time, Geese Fly Norths pause was shorter and his voice was very calm.
“Im here, in the same city as you.”
Mashiro (impersonating as Qi Jing): Oh, if thats how it is, then please do visit. I wouldnt find it strange. bwahahahaha (*evil laugh at the end*)
Geese Fly North suddenly blanks up and then in a nervous voice: Did you......hit your head