Chapter 39 - Dog Meat
The look on Shen Yu’s pale face haunted Tang Can. His heart throbbed in pain, as if someone had pinched it. A bitter taste rose in his mouth. However, there was nothing that he could say that could explain things to her.
Xiao Qiu was ignorant to the chaos that he caused by his statement. Ahead of them was a tollbooth, so he slowed the car down to a stop. After the car passed the booth and got up to speed on the highway, he didn’t pick up that thread of conversation again. He focused on driving the car.
Shen Yu retracted her gaze and seemed to be tired. Tang Can watched as she closed her eyes to go back to sleep. He noticed that she had a set of long and thick eyelashes. They caught his eye and he stared at them, mesmerized. For a moment, he felt like he was lost in them.
By the time they got back to Changsha, it was already dark. Xiao Qiu was exhausted after driving the car for the whole day. After parking the car in the assigned lot next to the military district’s guest house, he blurted out, “So tired!”. The young soldier jumped out of the car and in his haste he forgot to take out the vehicle’s keys.
As Commander Jin grabbed the keys, he turned towards Tang Can and said, “I know Xiao Qiu’s a little rough, but he really is a good fella. Other than his poor ability to keep a handle on his mouth, he’s good in all other aspects He’s a model soldier, but I feel like he’s wasting his talents staying with me. If you feel like he’d be a good successor for you, please take him into your service!”
Tang Can smiled slightly but declined to say anything in response. When he saw the enthusiastic look on Commander Jin’s face, he commented, “I’ll think about your proposal”.
Commander Jin let out a sigh of relief and turned to smile at Shen Yu. “Reporter Shen, you must be exhausted! You should go to your room and get some rest!”
Shen Yu smiled and nodded her head at the older man.
Commander Jin left before the other two and made sure to lock the dar. Shen Yu glanced at Tang Can for a moment before she walked towards the guest house. Tang Can caught up with her in a couple of steps. “Let me bring you to the infirmary to treat your injuries! I want to make sure they’re healing well!”
Shen Yu had long forgotten she had gotten wounded on her hand. Had Xiao Qiu not said his previous statement, she would have felt grateful towards Tang Can for being so protective over her. With the memory of Xiao Qiu’s stinging words prickling into her, she merely looked at Tang Can coldly.
In the infirmary, the cuts on her hand were carefully treated again. Zhang Fei showed up before Shen Yu could go back to her own room. The female soldier hollered at Tang Can, scolding him for disappearing with Shen Yu without a word and making her worry while they were gone.
Since they didn’t have a good relationship, Shen Yu gladly took the opportunity to leave for her room. She had no desire to ask for more trouble from the female soldier.
While walking back to her room, Shen Yu suddenly thought about Wheaty. She made a detour and went to the dog’s kennel. Unfortunately, the dog was nowhere to be seen. Frightened, she ran over to Mazha to find out what had happened.
With an apologetic expression on his face, the male soldier said, “We don’t know where Wheaty went!” His eyes were shifty, and he avoided directly looking at her.
Shen Yu didn’t believe what he said but there was no use. The dog was clearly gone. In her heart, she hoped that the dog had temporarily run off and that she could find Wheaty again. She vowed to start looking for her tomorrow.
As she walked back to her room, she met Zhang Fei in the hallway. The female soldier was carrying something as she entered Tang Can’s room. Shen Yu caught a whiff of dog meat in the air.
Shen Yu had no desire to meddle in the relationship between the two but for some reason, she didn’t move from her spot. She stood there, staring at Tang Can’s room.
Shortly thereafter, Zhang Fei came out again and looked angry. Her hands still held the bowl that she had been holding previously. Shen Yu could hear her mutter under her breath “so he doesn’t want to eat…”. When the female soldier noticed her standing in the hallway, she grimaced and yelled, “What are you looking at?” before she started to stomp away from Shen Yu.
Reflexively, Shen Yu chased down Zhang Fei. When she caught up with the female soldier, she asked, “What are you holding?”
Zhang Fei glared at the young woman and said with malicious delight, “Dog meat! What’s wrong? Do you want some?”
The expression on Shen Yu’s face instantly changed and it was clear she was having trouble grasping her emotions. Without any thought of the other guests in the hallway, she screamed at Zhang Fei, her eyes red with emotion, “Is that Wheaty in your bowl?? Did you kill my dog for meat???”
Zhang Fei stood there, flabbergasted. At first she looked as if she was being accused of something she didn’t do but when the female soldier saw the pain on Shen Yu’s face, she suddenly felt pleasure. With a malicious look on her face, she said, “The dog meat in this bowl is very fragrant! Smells delicious, doesn’t it? Are you sure you don’t want to try some?” She shot a provoking look at Shen Yu, grabbed a piece of meat between her fingers, and sucked it into her mouth.
Shen Yu almost exploded into fury. The motto that she lived by, the one that her mom told her, about turning the other cheek, no longer applied to her. She flipped the bowl out of Zhang Fei’s hands and slapped the female soldier viciously in the face. Shen Yu’s eyes glittered with unshed tears.
Zhang Fei was a soldier and had undergone the harsh training that all recruits went through. At first, she didn’t try to defend herself. However, after being hit by Shen Yu, Zhang Fei retaliated. The female soldier pushed the young woman to the ground and started pounding on her. If Tang Can had not heard the commotion in the hallway, Shen Yu might have been dead meat.
Tang Can was unexpectedly calm when he saw what was going on. With a well-placed kick, he slammed Zhang Fei away from Shen Yu and didn’t punish the female soldier further. Despite that, Zhang Fei lay on the ground and did not get up for quite a while. The female soldier howled and sobbed.
After being pounded by Zhang Fei, Shen Yu naturally felt that she was the wronged party in this conflict. But she was more upset about Wheaty and how she died. She had never thought that by leaving for a couple of days that the dog would turn into food for Zhang Fei…
“Wheaty’s dead! She was killed by Zhang Fei…” Shen Yu sobbed repeatedly, heartbroken.
Despite Tang Can’s efforts in trying to comfort her, Shen Yu continued to cry. She wept until she was exhausted and fell into a fitful sleep.
Tang Can watched her sleep. Although the young woman clearly slept poorly, at least she was still resting. He left her in the room, his eyes full of worry, as he went to go find Zhang Fei to settle things between them.
Earlier, when Zhang Fei had brought the dog meat to him, she had told him it was one of the special menu items at the guest house today…
Tang Can found Zhang Fei’s room and knocked on her door for a long time. There was no response. He knew that the female soldier was afraid of his rage and was hiding from him. It was the middle of the night and he didn’t want to wait longer. He would have to solve the problem the next day.
That night, Tang Can’s stomach hurt and he was unable to get a good night’s rest. Although he was distressed over Wheaty, he was more concerned over Shen Yu. He found it hard to banish the image of her crying face from his thoughts. His heart felt sore just thinking of it.
Unable to stop his racing thoughts, Tang Can was not able to sleep a wink the entire night. He had a suspicion that the female soldier also did not sleep well as she was also in pain.
He was correct. Except, her type of pain did not come from her heart, but from her legs. When he kicked her legs earlier, he had almost shattered her bones. The female soldier sobbed for an entire night. Tang Can had never treated her this poorly before.
While she cried the whole night, Mazha tried to comfort her. In between sobs, Zhang Fei told her fellow soldier that Tang Can used to treat her very well. When they were younger, she often got into fights with him. Even though she hit him hard then, he would always smile at her and say that it didn’t hurt at all…
In fact, she felt like she was the wronged party in this fight. Earlier she had found a couple of the chefs in the guesthouse privately making some dog meat for themselves to eat. She had heard that Tang Can had just come back from a long journey and wanted to give him something nourishing to eat. She had to swallow down her own pride and beg those two people to sell her a bowl of the stew. It also was true that Wheaty had disappeared for several days. But Mazha had been watching the dog for Shen Yu, so it had nothing to do with her. She only said that the meat in the bowl was from that dog because she knew how much it would hurt the stupid young women. Zhang Fei hated Shen Yu, so she took any chance she got to make the other person feel bad. This time she succeeded in her aim but she also ended up suffering for it. When Tang Can had kicked her away, she had sensed he had put all of his force behind it. Why else would it still hurt hours after the incidence? Her knees had almost been shattered by him! But, more importantly, she felt like her heart had been bruised by him too.
Zhang Fei had cried out almost all of her energy and was snivelling when Mazha suddenly opened his mouth. “You don’t think there’s something odd going on?”
“What sort of problem?” she asked in return, rolling her tear-swollen eyes with a free hand.
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