Leslie chewed slowly, her first bite in seven hours. “So, he didn’t respond to your text?” She sounded disinterested, but she didn’t care.
Her pretend ex-boyfriend, the Korean pop star of a doctor, shook his head in the same posture, sandwich in both hands, elbows propped up on the canteen table. He swallowed and wiped his mouth. “I told you he did, L.” He took another bite and continued chewing.
Leslie ignored the dull and listless tone and nodded along. “So, what’s the problem then?”
The usually cheerful and beaming with loads of sunshine doctor sighed. His head drooped over like a withered flower. “I told you, L, he was just giving me polite responses.”
Oh… Leslie mouthed. “The dreadfully polite replies.” She watched Aaron gave a huge nod and sighed along. “Well, at least he replied.”
“Yeah. The silver lining.” Aaron muttered. “Doesn’t work this time.”
“Why not?” Leslie hid a grin behind her half-bitten sandwich.
Aaron stopped chewing at once. He inhaled deeply, pursed his lips and held his gaze on his best friend for five years. He didn’t move even when Leslie tried to hide her round face behind the tiny sandwich. He continued waiting until the sadistic woman regained her composure.
Her huge grin vanished once more and she took another bite. “Okay, I’ll stop. That was entertaining.” She finally met his eyes and Aaron flashed one his charming grins back, which instantly vanished again. “Fine. I’ll be serious.”
“You better. I’m seriously desperate.” Aaron dropped the sandwich back onto the plate and reached for his cup of dark brown sweetness.
Leslie swallowed, “What did he say exactly?”
Aaron got excited instantly and almost spilled his drink. He replaced the cup with one hand, while the other picked up his phone. After a few swipes, he shoved the screen to Leslie’s face.
After rolling her eyes at the grinning puppy drooling in front of her, she took over the phone and go through the exchanges. As her fingers scrolled up and down, she sighed again. “Well, there’s nothing much you can do. He did sound normally busy.”
Aaron threw his head back his body slumped against the chair, defeated. He grabbed his face. No!
Grinning again, Leslie returned the phone, picked up her sandwich and took a huge bite. With a voice muffled by the food stuffed in her mouth, she casually asked, “What happened to the gallbladder 7?”
Aaron groaned, “What about her?”
Leslie shrugged, “What happened with her?”
Aaron’s impatience grew with every word thrown out, “I don’t get you.”
“God.” Leslie leaned forward and patiently guided the idiotic of her ex-boyfriend through the thinking process. “Her parents had dyscopia.”
“Yes, they did. Made a hell of a hoo-ha back there.” Aaron rubbed his temple, trying to stay focus on the conversation that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
“And, what did you do?” She raised her brow knowingly, expecting some sort of enlightenment coming through her audience’s eyes.
Which happened. But, then it was followed by a surprising outburst. “Are you saying that my confession is bad news to Hugh?!” Aaron inhaled sharply, his gaze widened. “That’s damn rude!”
“Hey, it may as well have been bad news to him.” She held up her palm in his face. “Let’s be honest: you liking him is never good news to your family.” She paused and waited for reality to smash his thick skull. She ignored his useless passive display of defiance. “Hugh, being with your family for years, knows as well as you do that it’s not good news.” She paused again, this time for him to acknowledge the truth – no family in its right mind could easily accept the homosexual nature of a member.
They welcomed Hugh with open arms because he wasn’t part of the family. As brutal as it sounds, it’s the truth. Leslie shifted slightly in her seat. She hates her harsh critical mind at times like these.
He is glaring at her empty plate, brows knitted together and all. She took the chance immediately. “So, like gallbladder 7, what did you–?”
“… do with the parents who refused the surgery for their daughter?” He was half talking to himself now. “I explained the surgery to the girl.” Leslie nodded along. “In front of them.” Aaron breathed with a slight twinkle in his eyes.
“With them screaming in your ears.” Leslie added coolly.
He stared hard at her, “But I ignored them.” He nodded with Leslie. “And, the girl listened and was more confident about the op.”
“And, she smiled at her parents, persuaded them to let her try.”
Aaron wrinkled his nose, “It was just a minor op. They really didn’t have to worry.”
“Yes, but different people have different–.”
“Threshold.” Aaron muttered under his breath. The answer is suddenly staring right back at him. Just as with gallbladder 7, he could have followed the SOP and accepted the parent’s wishes. Instead, he trudged on, knowing that the op is the best viable option for his patient.
He rounded his eyes at his ex-girlfriend and grabbed her hands tightly. “Thank you, L!”
Leslie rolled her eyes with a chuckle. “You would’ve come up with the solution on your own.”
Aaron dropped her hands and grabbed his sandwich once more. “Yeah, if I hadn’t gone through 3 ops.”
Leslie scoffed and sipped her cool drink. The Aaron Lim she knew doesn’t get tired from surgeries – on the contrary, he gets energised by them, like those mad doctors in the movies. She watched him chew on the ridiculously tasteless black pepper chicken like it was the most delicious food on earth, with his shoulders dancing to the music in his head and shook her head quietly. It was definitely something else, or someone, who wiped out his energy.
“So, what’s the plan?” Knowing him, he would have already formed an elaborate plan in his mind, from the first step to the last.
“I’m going to get sushi later.” He sang.
Leslie chuckled again. Aaron Lim never fails.
Priscilla squinted her eyes at her fair-skinned boss. “So?”
Hugh stammered, “So, so… so, eat with him!”
Priscilla was taken aback. “Why?”
“He’s your brother, right?” Hugh forced the ends of his lips to curl upwards. But, he could feel the weight of the wrinkles in his forehead crashing down on his cheeks.
“Yes, but, I’m already having lunch with Tom. I promised him!” Priscilla kneaded her nose-bridge. “Besides, it’s not like you’ve never had lunch with that brat.” She removed her spectacles and massaged her nosebridge. “Aren’t you both ‘Bros Forever’?” She mimicked their deep growling from memory.
Hugh paled. He tried hard to keep his face from falling. ‘Bros’ is definitely the last thing on Aaron’s mind. He suddenly recalled the warm breath on his nose and the softness of his…
ARGH! Hugh grabbed his face and then raked his fingers through his hair. When he opened his eyes, Priscilla looked horrified. “Are you… alright?”
No! Hugh’s mind screamed again. But, he inhaled deeply and closed his eyes in defeat. “I’m fine.” He scrubbed his face one final time, reddening his cheeks along the way. When his face surfaced again, it had his usual grin. “It’s alright. I’ll… think of something.” Suddenly remembering something, he checked his watch hastily before turning around and shot out through the door.
“Okay.” Priscilla chuckled, shaking her head at the closed door.
Aaron must’ve gone over-board again. Hugh would avoid him whenever Aaron did something outrageous or unacceptable in Hugh’s terms. The last time this happened Aaron had gone up to Hugh’s ex-boyfriend – without Hugh knowing – and slammed his fist in that asshole’s face.
Priscilla thought that Aaron did a good job back then – if she were a guy, she would’ve done the same, no questions asked.
That so-called boyfriend got himself married to a woman and wanted to keep Hugh as a ‘mistress’. Priscilla grabbed her fist and her knuckles turned white. Hugh deserved so much better than that phony pig. Her eyes traveled back to the screen. She sighed with half a smile her arm stretched to the back of her neck and kneaded the hard muscles beneath. Ah well, no matter what happened, Hugh would eventually forgive that sickeningly handsome, full of sunshine brother of hers. It’s hard to reject him.