Chapter 2 - You and I Collide
"Even the best fall down sometimesEven the wrong words seem to rhymeOut of the doubt that fills my mindI somehow findYou and I collide." -
Howie Day, CollideAdditional characters:
Chris Lai Lok Yi - Joe Sung
Mary Hon Ma Lei- Lan Yee (Auntie Lan)
Joel Chan San Chung - Ah Lok
“Noelle!” the man ran after her, a bead of sweat running down the side of his forehead. “Stop running from me!”
Angry, she spun around and glared at him. “Do you not understand simple Cantonese? I said, that I didn’t want to see you. Ever again,” she spoke clearly, enunciating every word. “Now stop chasing after me, you’re making a scene! We’re in a hospital car park for goodness sakes!”
“But I love you!”
She stared at him. “We only went out on two dates, Ah Lok,” she muttered dryly.
“I knew I loved you from the moment I set eyes on you!” the guy protested some more.
Noelle (Bernice Liu) rolled her eyes. ‘Where was that Ben when you need him most to pretend to be your boyfriend?’ she thought to herself. Her eyes roamed the car park, scanning for Ben’s familiar build, but she came up short. It was relatively empty, save for that one tall guy who had just parked and was now making his way towards the hospital entrance.
As though reading her thoughts, Ah Lok (Joel Chan) continued. “Is it that Ben that you’re coming here to visit?” he gestured to the hospital.
Not paying much attention to Ah Lok’s rambling, Noelle’s eyes zeroed in on the tall guy again. Sorry, but you’ll have to do, she thought to herself. “No,” she said firmly. “It’s not Ben. In fact, speaking of the devil, there he is,” she pointed to the tall guy. “That’s my new boyfriend.”
“I don’t believe it,” he said stubbornly.
Noelle wanted to knock her head against the nearest wall. What on earth had possessed her to date this clingy man was beyond her. Finally, mustering up all her strength, she plastered a smile on her face and called out in a sickly-sweet tone. “Baby!” To her luck, the guy turned and glanced at her and she smiled at him. “Baby! Over here!” she called up again, running over to him and linking her arm with his.
Taken aback, the guy just stared at her. “Yes?”
“Sweetie, I just want to introduce you to Ah Lok. He doesn’t believe we’re dating.”
“Oh,” the guy said.
Ah Lok eyed them warily. “What does this guy have that I don’t?”
He’s probably not as possessive as you are actually, Noelle thought to herself some more. “He’s everything you’re not actually. So yes, please leave me alone. He doesn’t like it when I talk to other men, don’t you?”
The guy raised an eyebrow at her coolly and just nodded at Ah Lok. Noelle took this as her cue and maneuvered the both of them through the glass doors of the hospital, her arm still linked with his. Once the glass doors closed safely behind them, she let out a breath of relief. “Hey thanks for that just now,” she turned to face her saviour. “He was getting way too needy.”
He looked at her coolly. “Trust me, if he hadn’t been shouting so loudly in front of the hospital and giving men a bad name by sounding so desperate, I wouldn’t have given you the time of the day,” he said. “I have better taste.” With that, he strode off, leaving her there fuming, with her jaw dropped.
“Why do we have to do this twice a year, and at this dump, of all places?” Joe (Chris Lai) asked, while fiddling with the keys of his cell phone.
Michael (Bosco Wong) turned sideways to glance at him. “Nobody said you had to come with me, you know.”
Annoyed, but not stupid enough to say another word, Joe kept his lips tightly clammed together and tried to keep up with the quick, confident steps of his buddy.
“Appointment for Michael Lam,” Joe finally spoke up, as they reached the nurses’ station, while Michael stood beside him, both hands shoved into the pocket of his pants. As though on cue, several nurses behind the station started whispering. It wasn’t clear to the ear what they were whispering about, but both Michael and Joe knew what it was. It was the same every time they came. All of them wanted a shot at Michael, and sometimes he was interested for a fling, but today he just wasn’t.
“Right this way, Mr. Lam,” the nurse smiled flirtatiously at him while leading him to one of the waiting rooms.
Not bothering to say anything, Michael merely nodded and made his way inside.
“Dude, some of those nurses were hot.”
Michael glared at him. “I’m here to get my checkup just because Lan Yee (Mary Hon) wants me to. Not to hit on some nurses.”
Joe held up both hands and backed off. Michael got this gleam in his eye when he didn’t want to be irritated and Joe was only all too accustomed to that look. He got this way whenever he came for a checkup. Joe, over the years, had put the habit down to annoyance at being forced to do something that he didn’t want to do.
A knock sounded at the door, and a nurse came into the room. “Are you ready, Mr. Lam?”
Michael nodded, “You can go out now, Joe. You don’t need to hold my hand through this you know.” Joe shrugged, and left the room.
The nurse bustled around, readying her equipment. “Is he your brother?”
“Do we look like we’re brothers?” the cool answer came.
She shrugged. “Well, he seemed concerned.”
“He doesn’t need to be.”
She took one glance at him, studying him closely, but as soon as she did that, he averted her gaze. She studied him while she prepared the needle, something which she had learnt to do subtly throughout her years. His chest rose a tad too rapidly, and he kept on tapping his right foot against the floor. Signs of nerve, she noted, smiling to herself.
Michael glanced at a piece of imaginary lint on his sleeve, wondering if the nurse would hurry up. If it weren’t for Lan Yee forcing him to do these check-ups, he would even been here right now. Both his parents had died of internal sicknesses, sicknesses that could have been avoided if detected early. Unfortunately, neither had that luxury.
Lan Yee had always been afraid that the sicknesses would have been hereditary and insisted that both MC and him gotten check-ups since they were ten. Blood tests, x-rays, body check-ups, the lot. Luckily for her, MC was now a doctor and perfectly capable of doing regular check-ups – one less grown man for her to worry about.
“So, umm, it’s nice to have the English Premier League trophy back where it belongs, huh?” she approached him, bring her tray of equipment with her.
Michael glanced up at her, an eyebrow raised, not sure if he had heard her right.
She laughed, a sweet soft laugh. “Manchester United fan, aren’t you?” she said, nodding at his stylish Manchester United collector’s watch.
A little impressed at her sharp eye and her mention of football, he nodded. “Are you a fellow fan too?”
“Absolutely,” she nodded, as she dabbed as his wrist, cleaning the area as she spoke. “Who’s your favourite player?”
One corner of his mouth lifted as he pondered her question. “It’s gotta be Ryan Giggs. Who’s yours?”
She grinned. “Take a wild guess.”
“Don’t tell me it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. All the girls like him.”
“Well, he’s good. And by that I don’t mean his looks. I’m not that shallow!” she laughed. “It’s Gary Neville.”
“Him?” he asked, startled. “That’s rare.”
“Hey, one of the most reliable, most underrated, most passionate right-backs in the world. What’s not to like?” she laughed at the confusion on his face.
”Nah, it’s just that girls rarely name him as their fav- OW!” Michael yelped as he looked at his wrist.
Deftly, she removed her syringe and replaced it with a swab of cotton, her fingers pressing firmly on it. “There you go.” She took his hand with her other hand and propped his fingers there, mirroring hers. Her touch was soft, yet firm. “Just apply pressure for a little while and you’ll be all good to go.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled.
She laughed again at his dazed look. “I don’t know if you look confused because Gary Neville’s my favourite player or because I just took a blood sample without you noticing.”
Michael allowed himself to laugh a little with her. “I think it’s both.” He paused, and then opened his mouth to speak again. “How did…” his voice trailed off.
“…I know you were nervous?” she smiled. “Hey, I’m a nurse. You’d be a bit worried if I couldn’t tell, wouldn’t you?” She placed his blood sample into a clear bag and sealed it. “Besides, I never pass down a chance to discuss football with anyone.”
He smiled at her, clearly seeing her for the first time. Bright, kind eyes behind thick-framed glasses, hair neatly pulled back in a ponytail, slender hands, and a pretty smile.
“And don’t worry,” she whispered conspirationally, smiling as she did so. “I won’t tell your friend you were scared.”
He laughed, despite the situation, and as she turned around to go, he caught a glimpse of her name tag.
'Tam Suet Lei', it said.
Ka Ching (Leila Tong) creased the piece of pink paper into place and smiled, putting the pink paper crane on her bedside table. She’d always wanted to learn origami when she was a little girl, but never had the patience. Her mother and her brother used to teach her when she was young, but as a little kid, she would get frustrated and tear up the paper to pieces when she couldn’t get it right. It was only after she’d been diagnosed with cancer that she had all the time in the world to perfect the craft. Months and months of sitting in bed, waiting for the time to come where she would be fine again. All that gave her patience.
“That’s really pretty.”
“Gosh, Dr. Chai, you scared me!” Ka Ching put a hand to her heart, feeling it race. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
Ben (Raymond Lam) grinned easily. “You were in your own little bubble. You wouldn’t even have noticed me if I had done a little dance on your table, trust me.” He reached for her chart and ticked a few things off it. “And besides, I’ve told you, it’s Ben, not Dr. Chai.”
“Wanna bet?” she teased. “I’m pretty impartial to dances on my table. I’ll give you a paper crane,” she gestured to her bedside table.
Ben laughed. “You think the hospital pays me enough for me to start giving out dances to patients as well? You know, we actually hire clowns to come in for the weekend to entertain the children’s ward. I think you’d fit right in there.”
Ka Ching pretended to be insulted. “Are you saying I’m a kid?”
He laughed. “No, no, of course not. I’m just saying it might be good for you to get out of this room for awhile. Plus, the children’s ward is pretty fun.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“So, do I still get a paper crane?” Ben held out his palm after hanging her chart back on the foot of her bed.
Ka Ching reached over for the blue paper crane and plopped it into his hand. “You’ve taken my payment, now you owe me that dance!” she joked.
Ben laughed with her. “We see. See you tomorrow.”
She smiled. “See you.”
Turning to the pink paper crane, she smiled once again.
“There you are!” Ben exclaimed as Noelle sat down next to Suet Lei, exhaling noisily. “Where have you been? We were starting to think that you'd forgotten all about lunch with us.”
Noelle rolled her eyes. “I got lost. This hospital is like a crazy labyrinth of white corridors.”
Suet Lei (Tavia Yeung) giggled as she took a sip from her bottle of water. “I forgot how bad you were with directions.”
“I am not.”
“Am too,” Ben teased her. “You couldn’t make your way from one end of the campus to the other end back when we were in Form 2.”
“I was not that bad!” Noelle protested. “And besides, I met the most annoying creature on Planet Earth.”
Suet Lei raised an eyebrow. “Gee, are you making enemies already? In case you’ve forgotten, your two best friends work here.”
“Exactly. We have a reputation to uphold,” Ben joked.
Noelle glared at them both. “Remind me again, why I’m best friends with you both?”
Ben laughed at her. “Hey, calm down. Let’s get you some food in your tummy before you start telling us all about this annoying creature.”
The three of them got up and queued up with their trays at the cafeteria counter, with Noelle filling them in about her morning along the way.
“So wait, that Ah Lok guy, is that the one that you met at the mall that other day while we were shopping?” Suet Lei asked.
“That’s the very one.” Noelle gestured with her fork. “The one that worked at the sporting apparel department. How was I to know that someone who looked like him still asked his mother for permission before going out to a movie with me?”
Ben snorted. “You can’t be serious. Are you dating ten year olds now, Noelle?”
She glared at him, while Suet Lei chuckled at their antics. “And to top things off, he’s so damn clingy and possessive.”
“You need to stop serial-dating and start looking properly,” Suet Lei admonished. “Maybe you need to focus on something else.”
“Precisely,” Ben chimed in.
Noelle sighed dramatically. “I’m not even looking. They’re the ones who throw themselves at me all the time.”
“I don’t see Suet Lei having the same problem,” Ben turned to Suet Lei and grinned.
Suet Lei reached over and hit him playfully on the back of his head. “No thanks. I’d rather not get myself into the fixes which this girl does on a daily basis.”
“You know, there was this guy I met that would be perfect for you,” Noelle pondered, putting a finger on her chin as she tried to remember his name.
“Ugh, no thanks,” Suet Lei shuddered. “No Ah Loks for me. So, he was the annoying creature you were referring to, huh?”
Noelle’s eyes widened in anger as she remembered what had gotten her so irritated that morning. “No, there was another annoying creature. I was trying to get rid of Ah Lok so badly, so I pulled this guy in the carpark towards me and pretended that he was my new boyfriend. So, yeah, at first he played along and I felt totally grateful. But then when I thanked him, he insulted me and told me that he had better taste,” she complained in one huge breath.
Ben and Suet Lei’s jaws dropped. “I can’t believe you got an absolute stranger to pretend to be your boyfriend!” Suet Lei laughed.
“Neither can I,” a cool, yet somewhat familiar voice came from behind them.
Noelle whipped around, her mouth open. “You.”
“Likewise,” Dr. MC Lam (Moses Chan) stood there, staring down at her, smirking.
Ben shook his head. What a small world this was turning out to be. Standing up, he reached out to clap MC on the back. “MC, what a coincidence.”
“Ben,” MC greeted him. “So, this woman is one of yours and Nurse Tam’s friends?” he asked, ignoring Noelle’s angry stare.
Suet Lei smiled forcefully. “Looks like you guys have already met. Noelle, this is Dr. MC Lam, assistant to the head of neurosurgery here. Dr. Lam, this is Noelle, our good friend from high school.”
MC nodded, smirking again at Noelle. “And where’s your friend from this morning?”
Noelle glared at him again, her cheeks turning a shade of pink from both embarrassment and fury, not able to come up with an answer.
Ben shrugged awkwardly as MC said goodbye and walked off. “Well, err… that went well.”
“Now tell me, isn’t that the most infuriating loser to ever grace the surface of the earth?” Noelle glared in his direction. “He sure has some nerve to- to-”, she paused, at a loss for words again.
Suet Lei cringed. “Well, Dr. Lam’s renowned for being cool and somewhat cocky. That’s just how he is,” she soothed, passing Noelle a cup of cola.
Ben nodded. “Look on the bright side. At least you’ll never have to see Ah Lok or him ever again.”
Noelle finally calmed down and nodded. “See that MC Lam again? Over my dead body!”
Michael and Joe walked out of Yan Sang hospital; the sun immediately beating down on their faces as they came out into the open. Usually, after completing all his routine tests and coming out to a beautiful warm day like this one would have thrilled Michael. He would’ve had Joe call up a couple of their other buddies for golf, or perhaps a night out clubbing later. But somehow today, he felt like neither.
“So, that nurse who took your blood,” Joe smirked. “She was pretty hot, wasn’t she?”
Michael glared at his friend. “I didn’t notice.”
“You didn’t? Whoa, I sure did. She had it all hidden behind her unflattering nurse uniform and those glasses, but I could see a hot piece of-”
“Goddammit, Joe! I came to do a routine check-up, not to pick up girls!”
Joe held up both hands. “Okay, relax! I just thought you noticed too, and might have even gotten her number or something. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a pretty nurse that might fulfill all those hot nurse fantasies, you know.”
Michael glared at him one more time, and Joe immediately shut up. Again, he knew better than to continue rambling on. Michael had mood swings, and this was definitely one of those times, although he couldn’t for the life of him imagine why. Maybe when you were rich, Joe mused to himself, you could have PMS whenever you liked.
Michael ignored his friend, immersed in his own thoughts. Strangely, he didn’t feel like he always did after every previous check up. He hated coming here. He hated the smell of medicine, he hated the bland white walls, he hated the stupid nurses whispering behind his back every time he turned, he hated the fact that his brother worked here and that Lan Yee insisted on him coming here for that very same reason. But somehow today, he felt unnerved. This time, he felt different, and he felt like coming back.
*So wow, Chapter 2 finally up after the longest wait ever. I sincerely apologise for that. I had so much inspiration when I started the fic, and now I've lost it all. Someone should really bottle up inspiration and sell it - they'll make big bucks! Haha. But anyway, what did you think of this chapter? Am I hurrying things along too quickly? Or too slowly? Who else would you like to see in this fanfiction? And oh, do you like my poster for this fic? Be sure to give me some feedback. :)
Labels: Fanfiction, There and Back Again