“This is a repayment, Xiao You…” Xi Men uttered; his hand on his abdomen, on the spot where Mark had stabbed him with a knife. “Repayment of what I have done to him. But instead of taking valuable objects from me, he wants the most valuable thing one could ever had; my life,”
Xiao You’s tears rolled down her cheek as her gaze is at his hand on his abdomen.
“So what he did to me was purely because of what I have done to him, Xiao You,” Xi Men said, looking at Xiao You. “It is not your fault, and it wasn’t yours since the beginning. So please don’t feel guilty towards me or anyone. Don’t,”
Xiao You slowly lifted her head up to look at him.
“But instead, I feel I have dragged you into this with me,” Xi Men said.
Tears continue to stream down her cheeks.
He raised his hand and wiped her tears, “So you are not supposed to apologize but me. I am sorry for dragging you into this. I am sorry that my mean and wrongdoings towards Mark in the past had dragged you into this,” he caressed her bruised cheek, remembering how and where it comes from.
“Mark came to us because he saw our article that we are getting married. He had watched us for 3 weeks, so he knows how much I love you, how much you meant to me. And he knew my weak point is you; that is why he utilized you to make me beg him, and I did it willingly as long as he didn’t lay his finger on you,”
She wiped her tears that continued to stream down her cheeks.
“I was being tied up, I can’t defend for myself. When he hits me, I could only let him do so. And you know what’s on my mind at that time?”
She looked at him, and shook briefly.
“You. I want to protect you, despite bound to the chair; I need to protect you,”
Tears pooled in her eyes and then they rolled down to her cheeks.
“I was saddened that I can’t do much. I can’t protect you physically, but I will do all I can to make sure he doesn’t touch you. So when he hits me, at least his focus is on me and not you,”
He caressed her bruised cheek again, “And I heard it when he slapped you. I was lying on the floor drenched with my blood and submerged in my pain, but despite all that; I heard it. So loud and clear. My heart aches that I can’t protect you at that point,”
She sniffed as tears continue to fall, “And you are still thinking about me at that time…?”
“Because I love you so much to see you hurt…” Xi Men said. “And despite I know Mark hates me and his target is me, I can’t predict what Mark is going to do or if he will turn to you. I have to keep his attention at me, so that he doesn’t touch you. I am afraid he is going to hurt you… not… not like this…” he touches her cheek, for it went bruised because of Mark’s slap.
She bites her lips to contain her emotions.
“Do you remember Dr. Ting said my wound is a fatal wound, and that he is surprised I lived thru it? The truth is, I almost gave up in the middle of the excruciating pain in that abandoned warehouse. I could feel I am dying,” Xi Men said.
She lifted her hand up and covers her mouth in surprise.
“But I heard you calling out for me, asking me not to leave you; asking me not to die. With those few words, I force myself to stay awake, to live thru this pain, to submit myself to Mark so that he will continue focusing at me as long as he doesn’t hit you. I had you in my mind. I stayed alive because of you, Xiao You,”
“Oh my gosh…”
“And I stay awake until we were rescued. When I saw you next to me, and my buddies (Lei, Mei Zhuo & Ah Si) are next to me… I know you are safe. I know the horrible ordeal is over. That is when I let my tiredness takes over and I submit myself to the pain and falls into unconsciousness, not knowing if I will ever wake up again,” Xi Men said.
“Xi Men…” her tears continue to fall.
“I know where the strength in me that Dr. Ting was saying, comes from,” he looked at her, “You, Xiao You, it was you. I could only hear you asking me not to leave you alone, asking me not to die. I wake up hearing that,” he said. “But… even if I did not have that in mind, I believe I will fight to live,” he raised his hand up and touched her cheek, “Because I know… I don’t want to leave you, Xiao You. I waited forever to marry you, to be with you, and with just 2 months away to the wedding… I didn’t even get to walk down the aisle to you? No. I refuse to be defeated. I don’t care. For you, and for myself; I want to be with you, and that’s final,” Xi Men adds. “I won’t let Mark intercept and stop me from being with you,”
Xiao You finally sobbed, burying her face into her hands.
“That’s how much I love you, Xiao You,” Xi Men said. “And I know how hurt you are to see me getting beaten up… and worse, to watch Mark stabbed me…”
She continued sobbing.
“You shouldn’t have seen all of that, darling,” Xi Men pats her head. “If only he didn’t make you face me… if only he hadn’t make you a part of all of these… then you wouldn’t get hurt by what you saw; mentally, emotionally…” and then he looked at the bruise on her face, “…and physically too,”
She lifted her gaze up slightly after hearing what he said, and something in his words triggers her.
Her sob softens.
“So don’t feel guilty towards me or anyone out there anymore, okay? Instead, I should be the one to say sorry for causing all of this. And I am sorry I make you worried about me,” he said.
She looked at him, and tears continue to fall. “It is okay,” she sniffed. “As long as you are okay,” she smiled briefly at him.
He smiled and wiped her tears gently, so as not to hurt her painful cheek. “I am not okay, but I will be. My injury is pretty bad, but I will get better,”
She nodded with a bitter smile on her face.
“And by the way…”
She looked at him.
“In case you think I don’t remember or I cannot hear you threatening me right before I fell into unconsciousness; daring me not to die, I do remember that,” he said with a smile on his face. “That, you can feel guilty. You should tell me how much you love me at my dying moments, not threatening me,”
She remained looking at him, and smiles… and then laughs.
He then chuckles along, only to groan in pain later.
She immediately stopped laughing after seeing that, “Oh, oh! Are you okay?” she asked with concern.
The next day.
Lei hooked his hand into Xi Men’s arm to support Xi Men as Xi Men is taking a brief walk along the corridor, while Xi Men’s other hand pushes the IV drip (in wheels).
“Urgh…” Xi Men groaned.
“Are you alright?” Lei asked, looking at Xi Men.
“Yeah. It’s just that the wound hurts,” Xi Men said, taking slow steps.
“Please walk carefully and don’t aggravate that wound,” Lei said in frustration. “You know you are not supposed to be out here walking,”
Xi Men smiled faintly.
“Dr. Ting says to do it when you are ready. And he did not ask you to walk out of the room immediately. He said to walk around the bed for starters, and you decided to walk out of your room at your first walk?”
“Third actually. I’ve walked around my bed twice yesterday,” he said. “Once with Xiao You and once with Mei Zhuo,”
Lei rolled his eyes.
“I wanted to do as much as I can, so that I can get back into my normal daily live as fast as possible,”
“Bro! Your wound is still fairly new! I can’t understand why you need to force yourself like that. And besides, how fast can you do, dude? The wound would need some time to heal still. It is not like you’ll walk one round here and the wound will heal by 10%,” Lei said. “And you are not Wolverine,”
“If I am, I would have healed on the spot,” Xi Men said.
“And can you accept the excuse if I say I don’t want my legs muscle to stiffen?” Xi Men asked.
“Yeah, right,” Lei rolled his eyes.
The sudden yet brief sting on his wound causes him to momentarily put some of his weight on Lei, and Lei readily supports him.
“Thank goodness I am the one walking with you. Xiao You was insisting to do it, but your 180cm height and 100kg weight is a little too much for your petite fiancée thus I insisted to walk with you instead,”
Xi Men glared at Lei, “Excuse me? 100kg? If I am 100kg, you can’t f*cking support me too,”
“Unless you are 100kg too,” Xi Men smirks. “That is why you can support me, right?”
That causes Lei to stop laughing and then glared at Xi Men, “Great. It is proven. Your brain did not suffer any damage,” Lei then smirks too.
Xi Men lets out a small laugh, before he groaned for the pain inflicted to him from his abdomen tensing up due to laugh.
Lei smiled as they continued walking, with Lei following Xi Men’s slow pace.
“And how is your gastric thingy? Better?” Lei asked.
Xi Men nodded, “Yeah. Or rather, that’s what I think. Even if it is painful, the pain from the wound would have overpowered it,” he looked at Lei.
As they walked, Xi Men suddenly chuckled, before he groaned of pain.
“Hey, are you alright?” Lei asked.
“Yes, I am,”
“Why do you chuckle of a sudden?”
“Well, I remember something,” Xi Men said.
“Remember we used to give excuse to Juliana about my stomach acting up?” Xi Men asked.
Lei nodded, “Yeah,”
“And now it really happens,” Xi Men smirks.
Lei chuckles at that, “Yeah. I remember you said someday, it might be a real, valid reason,”
Xi Men smiled, “But thankfully just the gastric, not another rupture,”
“How does the pain differs between stomach acting up and this?” Lei asked, pointing at Xi Men’s abdomen.
“Bro, you’ve gotta be kidding me. They are both painful on a whole different level. Very, very different,”
“Which one is more painful then?” Lei asked.
“Well, you have this pain that is internal, comes and attacks you all of a sudden. You feel like curling up, you can’t move, you can’t do anything to alleviate it and the pain just irritates the shit out of you that you feel like it is better to be dead,” Xi Men describes. “And you have this external pain; that you know how it happens and you can completely avoid it. When the weapon goes into you, you feel every sharp bit of it. Excruciating pain comes immediately from within and from the skin. It is so painful it paralyzes you. And you know what’s worse? When the same weapon is removed from you. That kind of pain is unexplainably excruciating. It is hell,”
Lei flinched even at the imagination as he looked at Xi Men explaining it in details. “Bro… I only ask you which is more painful. I never ask you to explain in detailed…”
“For a moment I feel as though I am a piece of meat, to be sliced…” Xi Men frowned.
“You are a piece of meat,” Lei smacks Xi Men’s arm. “This is meat!”
Xi Men glared at Lei.
“But I get it,” Lei flinches still. “They are both different, right? Okay. I accept that,” he can’t take another detailed description from Xi Men.
Xi Men smirks at Lei’s reaction.
“By the way, where are your parents?” Lei asked, turning his head to look at Xi Men.
“They’ll come a little bit later today. Mom hasn’t been able to sleep well for the past few days so she is going to sleep a bit more today. Dad has to go to the office to manage some work since I am… well, hospitalized,” Xi Men said. “They’ll come together later,”
Xi Men smiled.
As they turned around the corner, they saw two policemen standing in front of a door a few meters away.
Xi Men frowned while Lei tilts his head.
“Why are there 2 policemen over there?” Xi Men asked.
“Good question. Like I would know,” Lei said, earning a glare from Xi Men.
Both of them continued their slow walking pace, until they reached the two police officers.
“Mr. Hua Ze, Mr. Xi Men,” the policemen gave their bows to Lei and Xi Men.
Xi Men and Lei nodded in acknowledgement.
“What are you doing here? Why are you standing here?” Lei asked. “Are you guarding the room or something?”
“Yes, sir. A criminal is in this room currently receiving treatment,” the policeman on the left said.
Criminal: the word itself brings a sense of danger, despite the presence of policemen. Undoubtedly both of them wanted to leave the place right now.
“Oh…” Lei and Xi Men answered at the same time.
“Is this criminal a very dangerous person, seeing that two of you have to be here to guard the room?” Xi Men asked out of curiosity, briefly pointed at the room.
“And what crime did this person commits, may I ask?” Lei adds.
“It is Mark Liu, sir,” the policeman on the right said.
Xi Men felt cold blood traveled down his spine the moment he heard it.
And Lei is startled to hear it.
Mark Liu is inside this room?
His name brings more fear than the word ‘criminal’.
“I… I thought he is at the police station,” Lei said. “And… I don’t remember his injury is so serious until he has to stay here for days…”
“It is not like that, sir. He has been discharged a while back. He is back to the hospital today for a follow up treatment on his injury. Because he is a criminal, we cannot let him receives treatment at any outpatient ward; where his presence in handcuffs will cause chaos to the public, and also possibility of him disappearing by running into the crowd is higher; so he is only allowed to receive treatment in a private and a secure room where with cooperation from the hospital, we have the windows locked and his every move is monitored by a police officer inside the room,” the policeman on the left said.
“Oh…” Lei said.
“What type of injuries does he have?” Xi Men asked.
“Gunshot?” Xi Men frowned. “What gunshot?”
Lei turned to look at Xi Men, “Police fires a shot at him. You don’t remember?”
Xi Men tilts his head slightly…
Clenching his teeth tight, Mark raised the bloody knife up…
Xi Men’s eyes followed the raised knife in Mark’s hand… too weak to defend for himself.
“NO!!!” Xiao You screamed.
Xi Men straightened his head, “Oh. I remember now. He got hit? Where did he get hit?”
“Hand, sir,” the policeman replied.
“So he dropped the weapon after that…” Xi Men uttered as he recalled.
“Yes,” Lei said.
“I see…” Xi Men said, and then looked at the policeman again. “How bad is his injury?”
“Damage in the thumb’s tendon and fracturing metacarpal bone, sir,”
“Oh,” Xi Men and Lei said at the same time.
“Since you said he is here for a follow up, means… he is leaving soon?” Lei asked.
“At the moment he is still waiting for the doctor, after the treatment, he will leave,” the policeman said.
“Oh, alright…” Lei said.
“Thank you for the information,” Xi Men said at the policeman.
The two policemen gave another bow to Xi Men and Lei as they (Xi Men & Lei) continued their walks, walking away.
Lei gazes at Xi Men, watching Xi Men looking down to the floor as he walks.
Pressing his lips together, Lei did not say a thing.
About a minute or so into the silence in their slow walk, “Are you alright?” Lei asked.
“Nothing to not be alright about,” Xi Men answered, and then lifted his head to look at Lei.
“Hmmm, okay,” Lei straightened his head. He then took a deep breath, “Can’t believe Mark would become someone like this…”
Xi Men continued walking while pushing the IV drip, “He became like this due to circumstances,”
“I know. Because of you,” Lei said.
Xi Men smirks, “Can’t hide that from you, right?” he then turned to look at Lei.
“I think anyone can see that,” Lei said.
“But… I mean, although he hates you and wanted vengeance, he shouldn’t have done what he did. There are so many ways to get back at someone… and… killing someone… it takes a lot of guts. And it is not… not humane, or right… I… I don’t know the proper word. URGH. Words failed me now,” Lei said, briefly pressing his forehead and questions his tentatively-malfunctioned brain.
“Hatred, you mean. Takes a lot of hatred to decide to kill someone,” Xi Men corrected for Lei.
Lei looked at Xi Men, “No, that is not what I am trying to say. But anyway, my next point being, even if he kills you… he will not get away with it. It is an offence, and he will be charged with murder – and now that he failed to kill you, it will become an attempt murder. He is gonna go to jail no matter what,”
“When you want to kill someone, you are not afraid of law and you just don’t care. And besides, he has no intention to think what’s gonna happen next or what law he’s gonna be charged with,” Xi Men said. “He had planned to die at the end of it,”
Lei stops walking and his eyes brightened up, “He planned to die at the end of it?”
Xi Men also stops walking, “He planned to kill himself that night after I died; after I had bled to death,”
Lei gasped, “And Xiao You…”
“His target is just me,” Xi Men said. “He is going to let her leave the place alive,”
Xi Men smiled faintly, “Truth to be told… despite Mark put me thru this, I don’t hate him,”
Lei looked at Xi Men. “You don’t?”
“No, I don’t. I was the one that started this. Like you have just said as well… he became like this because of me. He hates me because of what I have done towards him. It wasn’t a baseless act,”
Lei looked at Xi Men.
“And I feel… in this situation, I am not the victim, but Mark is,” Xi Men said.
Lei pressed his lips together.
“So, yeah… I don’t hate him. I don’t blame him,” Xi Men smiled.
“Are you regretting what you’ve done?” Lei asked.
“No,” Xi Men replied. “I don’t regret what I’ve done. It may be cruel, but I don’t regret it,”
Lei smirks, “So, you do know you’re cruel,”
Xi Men smiled briefly.
“But I know you are only being cruel because you are trying to protect Xiao You,”
Xi Men turned to look at Lei.
“Because you love her,” Lei smiled briefly. “And you want the best for Xiao You,”
Looking at Lei, a small smile formed on Xi Men’s face.
“Yes, I agree with you that you’ve been mean, but if I view it from your perspective, I understand and I know why you did that. And not to mention; things such as Xiao You’s travel ban, that’s because you don’t want to lose her, and you want to protect your interest too,”
Xi Men just smiled.
“Your cruelty is understandable. But that doesn’t mean I support every single cruel thing you’ve done in the past,” Lei said, pointing at him.
Xi Men smirks. “I know,”
“And I feel you are a better person now,”
His smirk fades, “Hmmm?” Xi Men asked.
“Xiao You changed you,” Lei said, “Or rather, she brought the ‘real’ Xi Men back,”
Xi Men just looked at Lei.
“You were a miserable CEO married to someone you don’t love. You don’t care about people or anything anymore,” Lei said.
Xi Men still looked at Lei.
“Well, until Xiao You came back,” Lei said. “I mean, you were upset when Xiao You came back with Mark, but you stayed away, just the person you should, considering she is married to someone else… until you caught him being unfaithful, and that is when you started caring about someone…”
Xi Men drops his gaze and smirks.
“…doing all the cruel things because you care; because you love…” Lei said, and then looked at Xi Men, “And that leads to this,” he pointed at Xi Men’s abdomen. “Should I pity you because of your love or should I say ‘serve you right’ because of your cruelty?”
Xi Men chuckled immediately, only to groan in pain after that.
“Stop laughing when you know it is going to hurt,” Lei said, glaring at him.
“Look who made me chuckle? And then causes me in pain?” Xi Men asked, waiting for the pain to subside.
“I never asked you to chuckle or laugh or chortle or react in the first place,” Lei rolled his eyes.
Lei then smiled. “Anyways,” he said. “After Juliana left, when Xiao You is by your side… during Xi Men Corporation’s crisis and you also moved to the penthouse… the gloom in you disappeared. Yes, you are upset when Xiao You did not accept you, but you are still happy with her by your side. I am glad to see you able to smile cheerfully, at least,”
Xi Men smiled. “And I am the happiest when she accepts me,” he smiled still. “Life is great with her around. I love her so much,” he adds. “All of these will not happen if Mark had appreciated her the way she deserves… for I won’t stand a chance to love her and be with her today…”
Lei smiled after hearing Xi Men’s respond. “Oh,” his smile fades.
“Hmmm?” Xi Men looked at Lei.
“Mentioning of Mark…”
“Yeah?” Xi Men asked.
“You said… you don’t hate or blame him for doing this to you,”
“Then, what are you going to do now? Will you still press charges?” Lei asked.
Xi Men looked at Lei. “To be really honest with you…” he said. “When we were tied up on the chair, Xiao You pleaded Mark to let us go. She told him we’ll never press charges on him if he let us go. At that point… I was startled at Xiao You’s request. She knew what I can do. She knew I can find a way to release Mark…”
Lei frowned, “I don’t remember we can do that. I mean, how do you want to release a murderer when…”
“At that time, we’re only being tied up. I haven’t been stabbed yet. So, things are still at a very early stage where things can just be… you know, brushed off,”
“Oh,” Lei said. “I get it; right at the early stage,”
Xi Men nodded. “But since things have turned to this, where he had wounded me, police had intervened and gunshot has been fired…” Xi Men said. “It is tougher. He’ll be charged in the court by the police no matter what,”
Lei nodded. “Yeah…”
“But, I can still choose not to press charges on my side,” Xi Men said.
Lei looked at Xi Men.
“So, I will do what Xiao You wants me to do,”
“Xiao You?” Lei asked.
Xi Men nodded, “He is after all her ex-husband. Maybe she didn’t want Mark to be charged with too many crimes. I really don’t know. Her plead to him to release us by not pressing charges to him rings in my ears. So… what I am going to do with Mark will totally depend on Xiao You,”
Lei looked at Xi Men, and then he (Lei) smirks, “Well, if that is what you prefer,”
Xi Men smiled faintly, and then he took another step to walk, and Lei followed.
Xi Men and Lei stopped, and turned their heads to the back, looking at the protruded head out from the door of a room.
“Oh, hi darling,” Xi Men’s smile grew at the sight of his fiancé.
“This is the private room and you are passing it already. Are you guys planning to walk another round or…?” Xiao You asked.
“Oh? I didn’t even know we’ve already reached,” Xi Men then looked at Lei, “Let’s go back. I am getting tired already,”
“Okay,” Lei said, and slowly guided Xi Men to turn and walked to the room.
Xiao You smiled briefly, and opened the door wide for them to enter.
Earlier, she heard the sound of (IV drip holder’s) wheel rolling outside of the room, prompting her to go to the door, wanting to welcome Xi Men back to the room.
She opened the door and wanted to call for them when they walked, but since they are talking, she didn’t interrupt them.
Instead, she listened to their conversation.