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“Ah! Watch out!”
“Watch out for the sickle!”
“Da Zhuang’s father!”
Shouts suddenly came from the crowd, and Xu Zhao and Xu Zuocheng, who were fighting with each other, turned their heads to see Xu Youcheng holding the sickle in his hands. The previously noisy small courtyard suddenly fell into a deadly silence. And immediately after, they saw a stream of blood flowing from behind Da Zhuang’s father’s ear.
“Da Zhuang’s father!”
“Oh god! He’s bleeding!”
“Someone was stabbed! Stabbed!”
“Oh my God! What should we do!”
After the silence, the small courtyard fell into a complete mess. Every person lost their minds in fear, including Xu Zhao. Xu Zhao quickly examined Da Zhuang’s father’s injury. He was unable to see how deep the injury was, but he was able to see how wide it was. In what seemed to be a second, he (XZ) turned around to push his bicycle. He quickly pushed his long legs to sit on the bicycle and called, “Brother Li! Get on!”
Da Zhuang’s father was a bit dazed. “Xu Zhao—”
“Get on!” Xu Zhao called.
Da Zhuang’s father covered his injury and sat on the back of the bicycle.
“Get out of the way!”
After Xu Zhao shouted, the crowd dispersed. He used the strength in his legs to pedal, and the bicycle flew out of the small courtyard, leaving all the noise behind.
Xu Zhao kept pedaling, taking Da Zhuang’s father to wrap his arms around his lower back, lower his head against his back, and hold on. He must hold on.
Xu Zhao didn’t have time to wipe away his sweat nor think too much. He risked it all to bike his way to the county town. It was normally a 30 minute bike ride to the county town, but he used only about 10 minutes to get there today. However, today was August 15th. There were people everywhere in the county town. Xu Zhao couldn’t care about that now and relentlessly rang the bell as she shouted, “Move aside! Move aside!” He was completely unaware that he had just bumped into someone, and that person was Cui Dingchen.
“Did they bump you?” the refined man beside Cui Dingchen asked.
Cui Dingchen looked at the bicycle that was speeding away absent-mindedly. That person looked like Xu Zhao.
“Cui Dingchen,” the man called again.
Cui Dingchen looked at the man.
“What are you looking at?” the man asked.
“Nothing.” Cui Dingchen’s expression was calm as always as he said, “Don’t come look for me in the future.”
“Why not?” the man looked shocked as he asked.
“I was clear in what I said. I don’t need to repeat it. Leave,” Cui Dingchen said.
Cui Dingchen raised his feet to leave.
The boy couldn’t help but follow Cui Dingchen and asked, “Cui Dingchen, what exactly are you looking for from me? Have you not found it yet?”
Cui Dingchen considered it then said, “Not looking anymore. Go back. It’s late.”
The boy stood there without moving for a while before angrily leaving.
Cui Dingchen walked toward the County Town Hospital Center. He had clearly heard Xu Zhao’s voice early, and saw that Xu Zhao’s back was covered in blood. What in the world happened for a usually calm and polite man like himself to lose his mind?
Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but frown and quicken his steps to arrive at the county town hospital. He didn’t know if it was actually Xu Zhao or not. With the will to try, he walked back and forth through all the departments of the County Town Hospital Center. In the end, he finally found Xu Zhao sitting on a bench inside a cold corridor.
It really was Xu Zhao!
Cui Dingchen walked up to Xu Zhao. Seeing that his white shirt was completely covered in blood, he became shocked. However, he quickly understood. Since Xu Zhao was sitting here, it meant that he wasn’t the one that was injured. It was someone else. He let out a slight sigh of relief, walked up and called out, “Xu Zhao.”
Xu Zhao was currently blaming himself when he turned his head to see Cui Dingchen. He was a bit surprised. “Youngest uncle.”
Cui Dingchen discovered that Xu Zhao’s face was completely soaked in sweat and he was slightly panting, his hands still shaking. He looked terrified and cut a sorry figure. Cui Dingchen was a bit obsessed with cleanliness, but at this moment, he didn’t avoid Xu Zhao. On the contrary, he sat beside Xu Zhao and asked, “Did you fight with someone?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn.”
“With your two brothers?” Cui Dingchen continued to ask.
Xu Zhao replied very quietly, “Mn.”
“Who was injured?”
“A neighbor. A neighbor who helped me.”
“Where were they injured?”
“How is the injury?”
“The doctor is currently stitching it.”
“It’s just a flesh wound. It’ll be fine so don’t worry too much.”
Xu Zhao was very panicked just now, but after hearing Cui Dingchen calmly ask him questions, his heart felt a lot lighter and his reason slowly returned as well. He turned to look at Cui Dingchen before asking, “Youngest uncle, why are you here?”
“Passing by,” Cui Dingchen said.
“Is one of your friends sick or…?” Xu Zhao was worried that someone from the Cui family was sick.
“No one is ill. When I was passing by the hospital, I saw you enter, so I came inside to take a look,” Cui Dingchen explained.
So that was what happened. Xu Zhao inwardly let out a sigh of relief and said, “Youngest uncle, thank you for your concern.”
It was only then that Cui Dingchen realized the wound on Xu Zhao’s forehead and his ruddy cheeks were now covered in sweat and dirt. Moreover, a sliver of blood still flowed from his forehead. How was he injured? He was a bit unhappy as he stared at the wound. When he wanted to reach out to touch it, a child’s cry that was neither loud or quiet suddenly came from outside the corridor.
“Daddy, Daddy… I want to find my Daddy. I want my Daddy…”
It was Xu Fan.
As soon as Cui Dingchen raised his eyes, he saw an elderly walking onto the corridor while pulling a chubby child who was whining and crying. They were Mother Xu and Xu Fan.
“Xu Fan,” Xu Zhao called.
“Daddy! Whaaa!” Xu Fan’s cries became even louder.
“Cui Dingchen: “…”
Xu Zhao quickly walked forward and brought Xu Fan into his arms.
Mother Xu’s face was full of concern as she quickly asked, “How’s Da Zhuang’s father?”
“He’s getting stitched up inside,” Xu Zhao said.
“Is it serious?”
“It’s not that serious.”
Mother Xu was finally relieved after hearing this.
At this time, the others from the village followed behind them. However, Da Zhuang’s mother was still pregnant and had to look after Da Zhuang, so it was Da Zhuang’s grandpa who came. After inquiring, everyone let out a breath of relief, then were immediately full of resentment. After visiting Da Zhuang’s father, Mother Xu led everyone to return to South Bay Village first, leaving Xu Zhao behind to watch over Da Zhuang’s father as he had his IV drip. Of course, Xu Fan was also there.
It was only then that Xu Zhao was able to take care of Xu Fan who was in his embrace. Xu Fan had already stopped crying, but he was currently hiccuping in Xu Zhao’s embrace. He was hiccuping so much that he looked very aggrieved.
Cui Dingchen pulled a checkered handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen with confusion, not understanding why he had given him a handkerchief.
Cui Dingchen pointed to Xu Fan’s small face.
Xu Zhao finally saw that Xu Fan’s plump little face was covered in tears and snot and mud. He was very dirty. Xu Zhao awkwardly looked at Cui Dingchen and said, “Sorry, I was too busy just now and didn’t notice.”
Cui Dingchen placed the checkered handkerchief in Xu Zhao’s hand and said, “Wipe him.”
“You can return it to me after it’s washed.”
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan to the faucet. He not only wiped Xu Fan’s little face clean, he also washed his own face. He also washed away the blood that was on his arm and his nape. However, blood stained a large portion of his white shirt and it probably couldn’t be washed out anymore.
“Daddy, you’re bleeding,” Xu Fan pointed to Xu Zhao’s back and said.
“I’m not. Daddy’s not bleeding,” Xu Zhao tilted his head down and said to Xu Fan.
Xu Fan then saw that there was a wound on Xu Zhao’s forehead, and his small mouth pursed.
“What’s wrong?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Daddy, there’s a scab on your forehead,” Xu Fan’s milky voice said.
“It’s fine. It’s just a tiny scab.” Xu Zhao smiled.
Xu Fan stared at the wound and said, “Hurts.”
“It doesn’t hurt,” Xu Zhao said.
“It really doesn’t.”
This little guy really knew how to feel for others!
Xu Zhao’s heart was warm. He pulled Xu Fan close and gave him a kiss before hugging him into his arms. When he returned to the corridor to sit back down, Cui Dingchen was still there. Xu Zhao couldn’t help but ask, “Youngest uncle, you’re not going home?”
“I am,” Cui Dingchen said.
“Mn, I’m leaving then.”
“Mn, thank you for the handkerchief, Youngest uncle. I’ll return it to you once I wash it.”
Cui Dingchen stood up, reaching his hand out to pat Xu Fan’s small head.
Xu Fan raised his small face, his watery eyes looking at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen didn’t speak, and turned to leave.
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan into the ward. Da Zhuang’s father, who was already stitched up, was currently getting an IV drip. Seeing Da Zhuang’s father opening his mouth to speak, Xu Zhao said, “Brother Li, rest for now. We can talk tomorrow. Don’t worry about the medical fees. I won’t let you pay for it.”
Da Zhuang’s father still wanted to speak.
Xu Zhao opened his mouth to say, “My mom already took Uncle Li back. Sister-in-law is also fine, so don’t worry.”
Da Zhuang’s father finally felt at ease. Perhaps it was because he lost too much blood since Da Zhuang’s father fell asleep not long later.
Xu Zhao was scared that Xu Fan would disturb Da Zhuang’s father, so he carried Xu Fan to sit in the corridor again. He finally had time to pay attention to Xu Fan’s psychological needs and asked, “Were you scared when Daddy was fighting earlier?”
“Scared,” Xu Fan said.
“Tell Daddy, what were you scared of?”
“Scared that Eldest Uncle and Second Uncle would h-hit Daddy and it would hurt.”
“Don’t be scared. Daddy isn’t hurt.”
Xu Zhao gently comforted Xu Fan, and explained to Xu Fan what happened earlier using a child’s logic. Xu Zhao didn’t know if this was correct. In any case, he didn’t want Xu Fan to experience the terror, apprehension, and unease that he had experienced when he was young since the feeling of terror, apprehension, and unease was unpleasant.
Fortunately, Xu Fan was naturally an optimistic child. After Xu Zhao spoke with him, he (XF) became cheerful again and said, “I bit Erwa!”
“You bit Erwa?”
“Mn. He stole my candy. so I bit him.”
“Biting him is correct!”
Xu Fan happily pulled the milk candy from his pants pocket that Xu Zhao had given him earlier that day. His meaty small hand grabbed onto Xu Zhao and said, “Daddy, eat.”
“Eat it yourself.”
“L-let’s eat together.”
“How will you eat it together?”
Xu Fan pulled off the candy wrapper and put the whole candy in his mouth, and with a crack, the candy was split into two pieces. He then pulled half the candy from his mouth, transparent saliva still clinging on it. “Daddy, eat,” Xu Fan said.
Xu Zhao: “…”
“Daddy, you eat.”
Xu Zhao still found a reason to put the half piece of candy under the faucet to rinse before putting it into his mouth. He was still fine before eating the candy, but after eating it, Xu Zhao realized that his whole family didn’t get to eat a single bite of the fine Mid-Autumn feast. The father and son sat on the bench, their stomach grumbling at the same time. The father and son laughed together.
The smiling Xu Fan suddenly pointed his chubby finger toward the entrance of the corridor and said, “Daddy, Second Grandpa Cui came back again!”