Chen Shuo wet his lips, adjusted his expression, and then made his way toward Ning Wan. "Ning Wan, we're done seeing the doctor."
Ning Wan lifted her head in reflexive delight. "Oh? So fast?" She looked at her watch only to find that it had actually already been half an hour, and suddenly felt a little embarrassed. "I didn't expect to run into my former neighbor just waiting here."
She smiled at them. "By the way, this is Zhao Xuan. We used to be neighbors. Who would have thought he would be working here at the hospital?"
So the fellow hadn't fallen from the sky, but was just barely a childhood sweetheart?
The most fearful and terrifying sort was precisely this 'long-lost childhood friends reunited' kind. There were the youthful memories of the past to recall, the unknown growth to share, they were both familiar and unfamiliar, both close yet novel...
This was more dangerous than Fu Zheng!
Chen Shuo met Zhao Xuan's eyes, hid his sense of crisis, and held out his hand. "Nice to meet you. I'm Chen Shuo, Ning Wan's colleague."
Fu Zheng also introduced himself politely. "Fu Zheng."
Ning Wan explained to Zhao Xuan, "Today I was watching them play basketball. They both had leg injuries, so I came to the hospital with them."
Looking very polished and refined, Zhao Xuan shook hands with Chen Shuo and Fu Zheng. Then he looked back at Ning Wan. "It's been a long time since we've seen each other. If you're free, would you like to have dinner tonight?"
Alarm bells went off in Chen Shuo's heart. He had thought Fu Zheng not up to snuff, but with Zhao Xuan as a foil, he found that Fu Zheng was starting to look much more pleasing to the eye. At least Fu Zheng wasn't this shameless.
He absolutely couldn't let this Zhao Xuan and Ning Wan reconnect!
But all the while his heart was burning with anxiety, Fu Zheng seemed calm and collected, even disinterested. The fellow was actually playing around with his phone, his head bent. Every time Chen Shuo made an appointment with Ning Wan he would jump out right on time, so why was he not doing anything with Zhao Xuan here?!
Chen Shuo glared ferociously at him. But the other seemed to be completely unaware, his head still down looking at something on his phone as if he were completely out of the picture.
Since he couldn't count on Fu Zheng, he would have to do it himself. Chen Shuo bit his lip, prepared for sabotage, and was just about to open his mouth when he saw Fu Zheng finally condescend to lift his eyes from his phone. Looking at Zhao Xuan, in a quiet voice he said, "Not eating, not caring about anything, never feeling excited about anything. Feeling restless and nervous, letting imagination run wild, feeling unresponsive, not being able to pay attention. It feels like everything is meaningless, like I'm useless. Not being able to sleep , feeling so depressed to the point of sometimes standing at the window and thinking about ending it all, like there's nothing to miss about life..."
Fu Zheng rattled off a series of symptoms before looking at Zhao Xuan with a serious expression, "Doctor Zhao, is this something that should be looked at?"
Zhao Xuan hesitated, staring at Fu Zheng. "Have you taken melatonin for your insomnia?"
Fu Zheng nodded. "But it doesn't seem to work. The insomnia is still pretty bad. I get hardly any sleep."
"Have you seen a doctor?"
"Not yet. Wouldn't it be a bit too melodramatic for a grown man to see a doctor just for this little problem...?"
Listening to Fu Zheng's words, Chen Shuo felt a little confused. Where did this come from? How had they suddenly jumped to such an irrelevant topic? And severe insomnia? It didn't look like it. Although he didn't want to admit it, Fu Zheng's skin was very fair, without even the shadow of a dark circle. Furthermore, he seemed to be in high spirits. Where was being uninterested in life and wanting to die coming from? Aside from the sudden shift in subject which did make him seem a little sick, the rest of this man's body could only be described as 'radiant'...
However, after hearing what Fu Zheng had to say, Zhao Xuan's expression became serious. "This won't do. You need to see a doctor immediately, and make an appointment with a therapist. This seems to be a serious case of depression. Many people ignore depression, but depression often isn't as simple as a mental problem. It can be an issue in daily life. Serious cases absolutely require medical intervention and regular medication…"
A puzzled look showed on Fu Zheng's face, and he said slowly, "Is that so?"
"That's how it is!" Completely confused, Chen Shuo heard Ning Wan say. She pointed toward Zhao Xuan. "What a coincidence! Zhao Xuan was just telling me about how he's a psychiatrist that specializes in treating depression. He's an excellent counselor. There are lots of patients with mild depression who don't even need to take medicine after consulting and getting counseling from him."
Chen Shuo bit a lip and looked at Fu Zheng thoughtfully, feeling as though he had just understood something.
After mentioning this, Ning Wan gave Fu Zheng a worried look. "Depression really is invisible. Even people who look perfectly normal on the outside may be struggling inside. Fu Zheng, if you're in such a situation, something must be done."
"Is that so?" Fu Zheng paused, then said calmly and slowly. "It feels a bit too formal and upsetting to register at the hospital. Since Dr. Zhao is an expert in the field, I wonder if we might be able to talk privately?"
Chen Shuo almost immediately added, "Doctor Zhao, there's no better time to choose than now. If you're able, what do you think of tonight? There will be time for reunion dinners in the future, but with how this illness is progressing..."
Since Fu Zheng and Chen Shuo had both chimed in, Ning Wan turned to Zhao Xuan and volunteered, "Zhao Xuan, why don't we postpone our reunion dinner tonight…"
Zhao Xuan was obviously at a loss due to this sudden development, but quickly nodded. "No problem at all." He smiled at Ning Wan. "Any friend of yours is a friend of mine."
When things got to this point, Chen Shuo understood everything. As it turned out, Fu Zheng was playing this game of chess game with great strategy. Wouldn't lying that he was suffering from severe depression and contemplating suicide immediately arouse Ning Wan's sympathy and concern, and have her put a stop to the reunion dinner? It just so happened that Zhao Xuan is a psychiatrist, so he had killed two birds with one stone. What a watertight solution.
Who would have thought that Fu Zheng would sacrifice himself to bring down their foe in mutually assured destruction by saying that he was depressed! Chen Shuo suddenly felt some awe in his heart. In any case, Fu Zheng's sacrifice benefited him, too, so he would have to give him a good 'funeral' before sending him on his way!
Since Zhao Xuan was unexpectedly getting in Fu Zheng's way, Chen Shuo decided to add more fire. Recalling the confessions of depressed people he had read on the Internet, he said in a solemn tone, "Depression really is very painful. Not being able to sleep, having no spirit, no appetite or even the desire to live. Just feeling like a useless person, unneeded and abandoned by society, a hopeless life with no prospects, no future, and no light. The world is dark with no love. You feel like a drowning man slowly sinking to the bottom, slowly suffocating, but feeling like no one can save you or understand you... Ahh, depression really does make you want to commit suicide if you're not careful..."
"Un," Fu Zheng really agreed like he had expected. But before Chen Shuo could rejoice inwardly, he heard Fu Zheng continue--
"That's how it is. You see, Chen Shuo felt like his condition was getting quite serious too. He was too embarrassed to say something about it, so I came here to ask on his behalf. It was such an unexpected coincidence to meet Dr. Zhao. How amazing! I, too, feel like the two of you should have a good talk tonight. Chen Shuo didn't want to go to an unfamiliar doctor, but since you're Ning Wan's friend, I'm sure he'll feel more at ease with you."
? ? ?
Chen Shuo held back a deep breath and frowned at Fu Zheng. The result was that Fu Zheng actually smiled at him. "Chen Shuo, seeing that you're able to share your feelings of depression, I think you should be able to face your illness. So have dinner with Dr. Zhao tonight. You can have a good chat, and you won't need to feel like you're being judged by being in the hospital. Just the two of you having dinner will be enough to guarantee your privacy."
Chen Shuo had thought that Fu Zheng had sacrificed himself and had been playing a funeral dirge for him inside. Now the funeral procession had been set up, but who would have expected this man to switch the corpses...
Ning Wan, all unknowing, looked sympathetically at him. "Chen Shuo, I didn't expect you to suffer from depression. No wonder you've had such dark circles under your eyes recently!"
Patting him on the shoulder, she said earnestly, "You can do it. Don't think about death. Overcome your depression and remember, it's good to be alive! As long as you are alive, anything can happen! The future is infinite!"
It sure was. Chen Shuo gnashed his teeth, glaring narrowly at Fu Zheng. It was good to be alive. So long as you were alive, it's true that you might run into anything or anyone.
Now Chen Shuo finally understood that when Fu Zheng was looking at his phone he was probably searching for Zhao Xuan's department on the hospital website. This game was all about matching the right medicine to the right illness, but now he had been stupid enough to eat goldthread1a classic Chinese traditional medicine herb. Known for being very bitter and nasty to eat, which is why it's used as a metaphor for suffering, but even though it was bitter, he couldn't say anything. If he said that he wasn't depressed, Ning Wan would have dinner with Zhao Xuan... Now he was pressed by enemies on all sides. With Fu Zheng already eyeing him, if a new opponent was introduced now, Chen Shuo really couldn't be confident... So instead of allowing Ning Wan and Zhao Xuan to be alone, let him be alone with Zhao Xuan instead...
"Zhao Xuan, shall we catch up next time? Thank you for taking care of Chen Shuo first, let me treat you then!"
Although she had promised 'next time', it was hard to determine exactly when a doctor would next have time off. Ning Wan was a lawyer, so she was naturally busy too, so who knew what day and year of the monkey next time would be. Although Ning Wan was sincerely inviting Zhao Xuan to dinner 'next time', Chen Shuo knew that this 'let me treat you to dinner next time' might never happen...
He couldn't help but give Fu Zheng a sidelong glance. He currently looked as light and unconcerned as a summer breeze. Chen Shuo felt that old men were far too cunning.
Fu Zheng glanced at his watch, his expression mild and solicitous. "Chen Shuo, I won't bother you while you consult with Dr. Zhao." Then he looked at Zhao Xuan and said politely and amiably, "Dr. Zhao, thank you for taking care of our colleague. I wish you a pleasant evening."
"Then," he smiled, "Ning Wan and I will head out first. See you two later."
In bearing a gentleman, in manner polite, and in attitude modest. There were no thorns to pick out at all. In this manner, Chen Shuo could only watch him and Ning Wan leave side by side. To be fair, Fu Zheng's steps were very steady, and his walk dignified, but was it Chen Shuo's imagination? He always felt like within that steady step was somehow a mockery of himself. Every step Fu Zheng took seemed to be a a dance step on his grave. Who would have thought that the funeral dirge in his heart just now would be for himself…