“What?” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si said at the same time, looking at Xi Men.
“Even after a trip…” Lei said.
“After spending 48 hours together…” Mei Zhuo said.
“She still won’t accept you?” Ah Si asked.
Xi Men took a deep breath and then dropped his shoulder while exhaling it, “Yes,” scraping the base of the glass on the table.
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged gazes.
“We were hoping for good news, but we didn’t know things didn’t go well for you…” Ah Si said.
“Sorry to hear that, Xi Men…” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men sighed again, as he looked at nothing in particular, “She did as she has promised; she lets go of the guilt for 48 hours and we did everything a dating couple would. At the end of it, I thought I am winning in this, but right after it ended, the guilt comes back. Her guilt towards the past is so much stronger than I have ever imagined,” he then lifted the glass of beer up and takes a gulp.
Watching Xi Men like this,
“Are you alright, Xi Men?” Lei, who is sitting next to him, puts his hand over Xi Men’s shoulder.
Xi Men puts down the glass of beer and swallowed the not-so-bitter gulp of alcohol. “No, I am not alright,” he said. “You know how much I wanted to be with her,”
The three of them exchanged gazes.
“I said… I will do all I can in this trip to win her. She is not someone who goes after my money, so I did not choose the path to do things lavishly or romantically to win her like a candlelight dinner in a restaurant that is solely booked by me for the night or giving her dozens of roses. Instead, I choose to do something that should strike her emotionally. I showed her who I really am, that I won’t be different compare to when I woo her, and I will do even better as her partner. I showed her how much I love her; how much I care about her. And I thought I was doing well. I can feel her feelings towards me. I can feel her love. I thought I did well in instilling these into her. It gets better moments after moments, hour after hour, and I could feel the intensity of our love to each other this morning!” Xi Men said.
All three of them looked at Xi Men.
Xi Men runs his hand over his hair in frustration. “And when the clock struck at 10am… gone. All gone. My 48 hours’ are up. Futile,”
“So… what is going to happen between you and Xiao You now, now that you have spent time together, and the trip has ended…” Ah Si said.
“Like usual. ‘Friends’, she claimed,” Xi Men said the particular word in detest.
“She… didn’t show you hostility, I guess…?” Lei asked.
“No, that, she did not,” Xi Men said.
Lei took a deep breath and nodded, “At least it didn’t turn bad…”
“Umm… on a bright side, you still have one day left, out of the three days…” Mei Zhuo said. “You still have one last time to try,”
Xi Men sighed. “But that also mean if she didn’t accept me at the end of it, she will leave,”
The three of them looked at each other again.
Is there anything they can say to console their buddy?
“You know what the real ‘bright side’ is?” Xi Men asked.
“Huh?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“That I still have one day. That I did not take up all 3 days at one go,” Xi Men said.
“Oh…” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at each other.
“I think that’s heartbreaking for me. I cannot imagine her leaving me now that 3 days are all utilized,” Xi Men sighed, taking the glass of beer up for another gulp.
“Umm…” Ah Si looked at everyone else.
There is a smoker at the next table right behind Xi Men, exhaling smoke from his mouth.
The smoke hits Xi Men.
Xi Men puts down the glass of beer, and he instinctively waves his hand to get rid of the smoke that came from the other table to his face.
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at Xi Men.
This is strange.
Being a smoker himself; though he had reduced his intake recently, he doesn’t flap his hands to get rid of smoke exhaled by anyone else for all the years.
What he had just done is as though he is not a smoker.
Now that they thought about it…
After such a devastated day…
Xi Men didn’t take out a stick of cigarette to smoke.
“You know, in Macau, you can’t smoke indoors?” Xi Men said to the friends, after he gazes over to the smoke exhaled by the smoker sitting at the next table.
“Hmmm?” Mei Zhuo said, “I thought they can smoke indoor?”
“It is recently enforced. So, they have to go out to smoke or smoke in the allocated space,” Xi Men said, returning his gaze back to his friends.
“So, you have to go out all the time to smoke? But that’s pretty much what you did here in Taiwan too…” Ah Si said.
“I didn’t…” Xi Men said and paused.
His eyes strayed.
“You didn’t what?” Lei asked. “You didn’t follow the rules?”
Xi Men turned to look at Lei, “No, I mean, I didn’t smoke there, at all…”
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at Xi Men.
“I have been with Xiao You all the time… I didn’t even feel the urge to smoke,” Xi Men said, looking at them.
“Oh? Does that mean you are getting closer to getting rid of your smoking habit?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men’s gaze strayed.
Lei and Ah Si glared at Mei Zhuo.
If he (Mei Zhuo) didn’t say it, maybe Xi Men wouldn’t even realize it and then he can stop smoking for sure.
Mei Zhuo looked at Lei and Ah Si, where both of them are giving him a glare, and Mei Zhuo wonders why they are looking at him like that.
Xi Men smirks, “Probably,” he said, “Xiao You doesn’t like me smoking anyway,” he then reached for the glass of beer for a gulp again.
All three of them looked at Xi Men.
After all, Xi Men adopted the habit years ago because he misses Xiao You a lot.
He had affiliated cigarette with Xiao You, but since he is spending precious time with her at Macau, he doesn’t need the cigarette.
And he has no working stress when he was in Macau, so he really doesn’t need to smoke.
Xi Men puts down the glass of beer on the table.
All of them looked at Ah Si.
“What is your plan now that things had happened like this?” Ah Si asked. “Are you going to take up the last remaining day?”
Lei and Mei Zhuo turned to look at Xi Men now.
Xi Men smirks, feeling defeated at this situation. “I don’t want to take that day…” he said. “I have no plans to have the 3rd day to happen… because I don’t think I can live my life anymore if she leaves…” he swallowed the lump in his throat to control the emotions that is currently stirring in him.
Lei and Mei Zhuo now looked at Ah Si, and everyone exchanged gazes with everyone.
They then heard Xi Men sighed.
“I guess… on a safer bet, I will just continue living my life the way it is with her staying in my house, as my friend, as my future partner that I am eyeing…” Xi Men said. “Maybe I’ll just continue wooing her,”
“Woo? How? Buying flowers for her, having dinner with her? Just the same things you’ve been doing a while back, hoping she is going to change her mind?” Lei asked.
Xi Men turned his head to look at Lei.
“If she didn’t accept you after you’ve done your best in the trip, what else can you do in the ‘wooing’ part that she will accept you in the near future?” Lei asked.
Xi Men looked at Lei dejectedly.
“Instead of going romantically or lavishly in your trip, you tried to hit it emotionally. She didn’t budge at all. So what makes you think if you were to be romantic and lavish now, she’s going to accept you?” Lei asked.
“Then what do you want me to do?” Xi Men asked Lei. “Is there any ways I can do now?”
Lei looked at Xi Men, feeling the desperation in Xi Men. “You said she feels guilty. Fix that and you will get her,”
“How? How to fix that? Tell me,” Xi Men said.
Lei took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows how to fix it,” he disappointingly said.
Xi Men continued to stare at Lei, and something just came across his mind. He then straightened his head.
“I am sorry, dude,” Lei said. “There is nothing I, or us, can do for you,”
Mei Zhuo and Ah Si nodded at the same time.
“There is something you can do for me,” Xi Men looked at Lei.
Lei looked at Xi Men. “What is it?” Lei asked.
“I want you to take note for me,”
Lei tilts his head, “Take note? About?”
“Xiao You. In the office,” Xi Men said.
“Huh?” Lei looked at Xi Men. “For…?” he frowned.
Xi Men then looked at Mei Zhuo and Ah Si, “Also, asked your wives to be more aware of Xiao You,”
Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at Xi Men. “Huh?” they asked.
“What do you mean, Xi Men?” Lei asked.
“Despite I am staying with her and there is a chance I should note it first, but since she is a lady, she may tell one of your wives first; if she is pregnant,” Xi Men said.
“PREGNANT?” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si asked at the same time, totally surprised.
Xi Men nodded. “Yes,”
“You and Xiao You…” Mei Zhuo uttered.
“Yes, we did,” Xi Men admitted.
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at each other.
Lei turned to look at Xi Men, “No… protection?” he asked.
Xi Men shook. “All the way, in fact,”
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si are basically stunned to hear that.
Even if he sleeps with her… aren’t he supposed to…
These 48 hours…
Lei’s gaze strayed.
“If you discover any changes with Xiao You, or your wives did, please inform me,” Xi Men said, lifting the glass of beer up for a gulp.
“Wait,” Lei lifted his hand up, causing everyone to look at him.
Even Xi Men pauses from drinking.
Lei looked at Xi Men, “Is this intentional?”
“Hmmm?” Xi Men lowers the glass on the table.
“Do you intend to make her pregnant at the first place, after all?” Lei asked.
Xi Men looked at Lei, not answering anything.
“You are only dating her for 48 hours. You do not know she will accept you or not after this. And since you have fear of her leaving… do you intentionally do this so that if she is pregnant, she has to stay?” Lei asked.
Hearing what Lei said sends Xi Men gritting his teeth beneath his closed lips.
That silence from Xi Men is an answer; that leaves Lei’s jaw dropped and he slowly gets submerged in disbelief.
“You do. You really do,” Lei said, looking at Xi Men, totally in disbelief that Xi Men would do this.
Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged gazes in surprise.
“Xi Men, how could you do this?” Lei asked. “Since when did you become like this…?”
“It is a backup plan. If she is pregnant, she will stay,” Xi Men said. “And she will accept me,”
“What kind of ‘acceptance’ is that?!” Lei asked.
“Any kind of acceptance is still an acceptance and that is what I want,” Xi Men looked at Lei, “Even if it is not done properly, it is still an acceptance. I just want her, Lei,”
“A sincere & proper acceptance from her mentally and emotionally is the best acceptance. By doing this, she may despise you,” Lei said.
“Our intercourse is consensual. She’ll treat the pregnancy as an accident,” Xi Men said, lifting the glass up for a gulp.
Lei exhaled his deep breath, defeated in the debate.
Xi Men puts the glass down. “That is what I want, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,”
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at him.
“What do you mean?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“I don’t know her menstrual cycle. I don’t know when her most fertile days are,” Xi Men said.
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged gazes.
“So I didn’t know if I did impregnate her. Since she didn’t accept me, now I wish she is pregnant. This is really, my last resort. My only hope now,” Xi Men said, and he empties the glass of beer.
“Ah, I forgot to throw this away…” Xiao You said, taking the silver strip out from her toiletries bag. “Hmmm… need to wrap this up before I throw it, or else it will be too obvious,”
“Hmmm?” Xiao You turned to look at her phone, and after seeing the name of the caller, she picks up the call. “Hi San Chai,” and she sits at the edge of the bed, “Oh, I am unpacking my luggage,” she puts down the silver strip on the dresser before she turned her head and looked at her luggage bag, “No worries. We can chat. I know you are free because Ah Si is out with the gang,” she chuckled.
She takes out a piece of paper, which happened to be a promotional brochure she obtained from a shop in Macau, from the luggage and looked at it, while listening to San Chai talking on the phone.
‘To discard this,’ she thought to herself and turns around, putting the piece of paper on the dresser, covering the silver strip.
“No, I am going back to work tomorrow,” Xiao You said on the phone as she walked out from the room and heads to the kitchen with rubbish in her hand.
She chuckled for a moment after hearing what San Chai said on the phone and she discarded the items in her hand into the rubbish bin.
*Key sound heard.
“I think Xi Men is back,” Xiao You uttered, walking out from the kitchen. “Okay, bye,”
Xi Men opened the door and instantly greeted Xiao You who is looking at him. “Hey,”
“Hey,” Xiao You smiled. “Drink a lot?”
“Just three glasses,” he smirks and closes the door. “Not going to sleep?”
“Soon. I’ve just done unpacking,” she said.
“Oh, alright. Then rest early tonight. You are going back to work tomorrow,” he smiled. “I’m going to shower now,”
“Alright. You should rest early too. Goodnight,” she said.
Jing stands up and looked at Lei walking into the house after being greeted by the butler and the maids.
“Hi honey,” Lei called, as he walked towards her and then kissed her cheek.
“Hi dear,” Jing said. “How was Xi Men? Are they together already?”
Even she is anxious.
Lei looked at Jing, and then he smirks in disbelief, “No. They are not together and Xi Men is not coping well with the rejection,”
Jing looked at Lei, surprised. “No…?”
Lei took a deep breath and exhaled it in frustration, “You know how everyone’s life is complicated?”
Jing doesn’t understand why Lei would say that, “Yeah…” but she answered it anyway.
“Some of them are complicated by nature, destiny and accidents. I have never met anyone at all, like, ANYONE, whose life are so damn complicated because of man-made problems cause by his own hands other than Xi Men,” Lei said. “And same goes with Xiao You,”
She looked at him.
“Stubbornness. Unable to prioritize what is more important. Unable to look at things from a different side. Unable to look beyond the past. Don’t even care about each other’s feelings and instead, determine to go my way, my way and my way. What is this, huh? Why make life so complicated? I don’t even know how things can get so messed up and conflicting up to this stage. Come on! They love each other! Why can’t they just let love and their feelings for each other speaks for itself? Why make each other go thru such terrible things?” Lei ranted.
Jing looked at Lei with her eyes slightly widened.
He then hissed, “I don’t want to care about them anymore. This is a deadlock. URGH,” he uttered, and then walked away to their bedroom.
Jing turned her head and looked at him walking away. She then scratched her head, “Wow. Must be a pretty terrible meet up for Lei to react like that,” she murmured.
Xi Men walked into the kitchen, switched on the light and walked towards the kettle, pouring himself a glass of water.
As he was about to drink it, he coughed again.
“Ahhh…” Xi Men muttered as he looked at the water patch on his shirt.
He puts down the glass of water on the kitchen top and then grabbed a tissue to wipe the patch.
Still a wet patch.
That’s as much as he can do.
As Xi Men is about to throw the tissue into the rubbish bin, he saw a silver strip with foils broken in the rubbish bin.
“Xiao You didn’t say she is sick,”
He then extends his hand into the rubbish bin and takes out the silver strip.
Is she having a fever?
But she looked perfectly fine when he saw her earlier.
There’s no sign on her sneezing non-stop or blowing her nose repeatedly.
But then again, this silver strip looks odd.
What kind of medication strip contains only 2 tablets?
He looked at the silver strip, looking at the front and then turns it to the back.
He looked at the words.
His eyes widened.
Hot blood rushed to his head.
Only THIS kind of medication comes in two tablets in one strip!
He didn’t know what to feel now.
Or maybe more precisely, all of the above.
He felt his world had crashed down.
His one last hope from Xiao You; gone.
“Didn’t even expect she will use this,” he mumbled as he looked at the strip in his hand.
Emergency contraceptive pills.
She had the upper hand now.
“Well played, Xiao You,” he mumbled, “Well played,”
But then again.
Now they are both equal.
He had the upper hand before, and she has the upper hand after.