Xi Men sits at the back of the Mazda as his chauffeur sends him to Xi Men Corporation. He looked out of the window, straight into nowhere.
Building after building passed in front of him, yet he didn’t notice, or pay attention to them at all.
He blinked numerous times, but those also happened because his mind went to years ago…
Xiao You sits at the back of the BMW as her chauffeur sends her to her office. She looked out of the window as the BMW she is in stopped at the red traffic light.
Her gaze went to the car parked next to her, to see a couple inside the car.
The man at the driver seat is talking happily to the female companion sitting next to him.
And then, Xiao You’s mind begins to wander.
Everything begins 12 years ago.
Xi Men – my beloved
The billboard that Xiao Gen wants to show to Xi Men is just right in front of him.
Right in front of his eyes.
He turned his head as he bites his lips, trying to hold his emotions that suddenly stirred in him, and growing at a really fast speed.
But the emotions in him won.
His tears fell, he bursts out crying.
“I am Xi Men, you idiot!” he yelled.
He sniffs, still trying to control himself.
He stared straight at the billboard again.
Xiao You walked towards him; seeing him crying so badly, unsure how to console him.
Xi Men looked at the petite Xiao You standing in front of him.
He reached forward and pulls her to him, as he cried.
She lowered her head in that not-so-perfect embrace. She listened to his sob.
That is after all, the only thing she can do.
“Thank you,” Xi Men suddenly said.
Her eyes strayed. “Are you… umm… talking to me?” she asked.
A small laugh escapes his mouth. “Of course I am talking to you. Who else is here at the rooftop of this building, at this time anyway?” he slowly retracts his hand from her shoulder.
“Oh,” she, upon sensing that he removed his hand from her shoulder; lifted up her head and looked at Xi Men.
Xi Men was quick, that before she lifted her head to see his face, he turned his face and wiped his tears away because he didn’t want her to see him in tears. He closes his eyes, and makes sure the tears have stopped; sniffed multiple times before he turned his head and looked at Xiao You in her eyes.
He smiled briefly.
“I have shown you what Xiao Gen wanted to show you. So… don’t feel bad anymore. Live your life to the fullest, Xi Men. Set your heart free and don’t dwell in the past,” she said cheerfully.
He looked at her, and even the brief smile on his face disappears.
He detects that despite the cheerful smile on her face, there is something more.
“How long have you been finding that,” he said, and then he lifted his head to look at the billboard.
It is a question, but his tone makes it sound not like one.
The billboard is there, but the sun’s position is no longer reflecting at the same place. It is no longer showing the significant words.
“Since the night you told me about Xiao Gen,” she smiled.
“You know, you don’t have to do this,” Xi Men said as he turned to look at her. “Don’t you sleep?”
“I can sleep now,” she smiled. “I found the billboard for you. I am so happy. You have no regrets anymore in your life!”
He smiled slightly as he turned his head away, and looked at Taipei at this time of the day, so early in the morning. “I am sorry that I gave you trouble. I shouldn’t have told you so you wouldn’t go all out to find this one meaningless thing,”
She turned and looked at Xi Men. “It is not meaningless, Xi Men,”
“But what is the point, Xiao You? She wanted to show me this back then, but I stood her up. I was on the bed with someone else while she waits for me here. This is no longer significant! Even though I see this now and I know what she wanted to show me, I still stood her up years ago. I still did!”
“Yes, you already stood her up years ago and you can’t do anything about it! And just like you have said, she had moved on. She is with someone else and she is happy. But what you can do is that since you already knew what she wants to show you, you should feel better now. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life figuring out what she wants to show you. And you can move on too,”
A small laugh escaped his mouth. “You are saying it as though you know me very well,”
“I may not know you well but I obviously know my heart well,” she said.
His smile fades and he slowly turned and looked at her.
“Just so you know, Xi Men,” she said, standing in front of him. “You stood her up. You didn’t stood me up when I show you that billboard,”
“Stood you up?” he repeated with a small laugh, “Xiao You, you dragged me over here. How is it possible for me to do that?”
“This is what she wants to show you. This is what you have regretted not seeing. And this is what I want you to see as well,”
His laughter fades and his eyes are totally focused at her.
“I may not know how you feel for me, and well, possibly you don’t have any… but I know how I feel for you. The words in the billboard are perfectly outlined to describe what I feel for you, just like it is for Xiao Gen. And at least right now… you’ve seen it, you know what she feels, and you know what I feel too,” she said, pointing to the back, where the billboard is.
Xi Men’s gaze has never left her face.
Her eyes strayed, for she could no longer meet him in his eyes.
She swallowed a lump in her throat.
“Goodbye, Xi Men,” she moved to the left and walked.
“Xiao You,” Xi Men extends his hand and grabbed her wrist.
His action stopped her from walking away and she stood there, waiting for him to speak.
“Look at me,” he said.
Her eyes strayed at that command, before she slowly lifted up her head and looked at Xi Men.
Xi Men leaned over and suddenly kissed her on her lips.
She is taken aback by that action, but she kissed him back anyway. She likes it that he is giving her attention.
He breaks off the kiss and he softly said while their faces are two inches away from each other, “Remember where we left off last time?”
She looked at him at such a close proximity.
That eyes. Gosh.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you still want it?” he asked.
She wanted it for a while, especially with him. But… is she ready now?
She slowly nods.
“I am going to take you back to my house. I am not going to hold back this time,”
“But it is my first time, be gentle, will you?” she is concerned.
He smirked. “I will,”
Lying there staring on the ceiling, Xi Men suddenly chuckled.
Xi Men glances over to the right to look at Xiao You lying next to him on his bed, before he returned his gaze back to the ceiling. “I guess I have a soft heart for pure and innocent girls,” Xi Men then laughed at his own statement, and even choice of woman.
“I guess I wasn’t that ‘pure’ now,” Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men turned to his right and looked at her. He smiled and then reached for her hand under the blanket. “I was saying… the heart,”
She just smiled.
“I hope I didn’t hurt you,” he squeezed her hand.
“It is a little bit painful in the beginning. But that’s expected, right?” she smiled, as she turned and looked at him. “And I’m sorry about the red spot on your bed,”
A small laugh escaped his mouth. “I don’t know what to say about that,”
“I hope your maid won’t ask why there’s a blood patch on your bed when she has to wash the bed sheet,”
“I’ll say I’ve squashed a mosquito,”
“Either you killed a few of them on the same spot, or that’s a big mosquito,” she said. “Like, really big; perhaps, a giant mosquito,”
He laughed, and she joined him.
“I never knew you are such a good comedian,” he smiled.
“You know the last time we were lying on the bed, staring at ceiling…” Xiao You said.
“Yeah, the day before you left for Canada,” Xi Men said.
“And we are lying on the bed now, staring at ceiling, just like that day. But this time… we’ve done it,” he added.
She looked at him and smiled. “Can I lean on your chest?”
“Sure,” he replied, lifting his hand up.
She turned over, and lied on his chest, listening to his heartbeat.
He puts his left hand around Xiao You’s back, holding her close to him.
He smiled slightly. “I don’t even remember if I slept with any chaste woman before,”
“You do now. Me,”
He smiled even more. “I wasn’t even sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing,” he stroked her back slowly and gently.
“Why so?” she asked.
“Because I sleep with so many women before you,”
“So you prefer experienced ones?”
“I am not saying that. Maybe… at least they know what to expect,” Xi Men said. “And what they are into,”
She raised her head and looked at him. “So, I assume, your first time… is not with a virgin?”
He looked at her. He blinked a few times. “Umm…”
“Come on, I am sure you remember who you first sleeps with,”
He bites his upper lip, “She… she is not,”
She smiled, as she had her right hand supporting her head. “So she taught you like how you taught me?”
Xi Men laughed. “I know what I should do. I don’t need her to teach me,” he then smiled.
“But I believe you’ll always remember your first time,” she said.
His smile fades. “It’s been so long. I don’t remember how it feels anymore,”
“But I am sure you know how it feels now,” she smiled.
He smirked. “Are you trying to provoke me? I can go second round with you now,”
He gently holds her and turned her, lying her down on the bed with his strength and he is on top of her.
She laughed. “What time is it now?”
“Time for second round,” he smirked.
She laughed again. “No, I mean, time, as in the time,”
“Does it matter?” he asked.
“Yes, I have a flight to catch,”
His facial expression changed. His smile fades off. “Flight?” he asked.
She nodded with a smile. She turned to look at the side table, as there is a digital clock on it.
She saw the time, and is slightly disappointed with the digits. She then turned to look at Xi Men.
There is an unreadable facial expression on Xi Men’s face.
“I need to get up and prepare now. My flight is 1pm but I have to be at the airport by 11am,” Xiao You said, gently pushing Xi Men. “And you know it takes about an hour to go to the airport from Taipei,”
Xi Men sits up, and he looked at Xiao You sitting up as well.
He bites his lower lip. “What flight is it?”
“Toronto,” Xiao You said. “I am going back to Canada today,” she rose to her feet and picking up her clothes that are on the floor.
Suddenly he feels really sad.
History repeats itself.
Back then, it feels painful.
This time, it feels worse than just painful.
“Can I use your bathroom?”
He looked at her for a while, before he looked away, and swallowed a lump in his throat. “Sure,”
“Thank you, I will be quick,” she said, as she walked to the bathroom.
Xi Men remained sitting on the bed.
CLACK. (door open)
PAK. (door close)
Xi Men took multiple deep breaths.
He felt bad, really bad.
He felt so heartbroken.
He closed his eyes as he tried to contain and control his emotions.
He took another deep breath and tried hard to suppress these feelings, before he opened up his eyes.
He gets down from the bed and starts dressing up.
As he buttoned up his shirt, he heard the shower tap turned off.
About 5 minutes later, Xiao You emerged from the bathroom, already wearing the clothes she was wearing earlier in the day.
She smiled. “Why are you dressed up?”
He looked at her. Seeing her smile, it brought a faint smile to his face too. “I’ll send you to the airport,” he said.
1km to the airport entrance.
“You are so quiet,” Xiao You asked, as she looked over to Xi Men who is driving his Porsche.
He looked over to Xiao You at the passenger seat. “Really?” he tried to plaster a smile on his face.
“You haven’t been talking since we leave your house,” Xiao You said.
“Oh, I didn’t notice,” he said. “Why didn’t you talk to me then?”
“Well, I saw your eyes and you are so focused to the road. So I supposed you do not want to be disturbed,”
He smiled briefly as he looked ahead to the road. “If that is the case, then why did you talk and ‘disturb’ me now?”
She smiled. “Well, since we are nearing airport and that I am leaving, this is going to be the last moment that I actually can ‘disturb’ you and you will be free from my disturbance after you drop me off,”
His slight smile vanished unnoticeably upon hearing that.
“And if you were to scold me for disturbing you, at least, it will be a short one and the likelihood of you dumping me elsewhere instead of airport will be slimmer,”
A small laugh escaped Xi Men’s mouth again. “I am not that kind of person to drop you halfway when I have promised I will send you to airport,”
She laughed softly too. “Glad to know that,”
He looked at the signboards as he is looking for the directions. “Parking…” he mumbled.
“Parking? What parking? You can just drop me at the entrance,” she said.
“I am free today. I can accompany you,” he said, swerving according to the direction pointed by the signboard. “Besides, you have mentioned earlier that your flight is 1pm. It is only 11am now. Those two hours of wait in the airport are going to bore you,”
“You’ve taken flights before too, Xi Men. You know you have to be at the boarding area 40 minutes before the flight departs. So it is not really 2 hours of boredom but one hour and 20 minutes,”
“Then I can still accompany you for an hour and 20 minutes,” Xi Men said.
Xiao You smiled faintly. “Thank you,”
“No problem,” he said.
“Done with my check in, I have a nice window seat, yay,” she joyfully said as she gripped on her passport with the air ticket tight.
Xi Men smiled at her reaction.
She then took a deep breath with a smile. “I wonder when I will be able to step back into this airport again,”
Xi Men’s smile faded. “So when can I see you again?”
Xiao You looked at him, and her smile fades too. “I… I am not sure,”
He pressed his lips together.
“Xi Men,” she then holds Xi Men’s arm. “This trip, I came back for you. I found out about how you felt for Xiao Gen. I am happy that I have accomplished something so important to you, for you,”
He looked at her, and he swallowed the lump in his throat.
She realized tears are slowly forming in his eyes.
“Don’t live in regret anymore, Xi Men,” Xiao You said. “Be happy,”
“Xiao Gen left,” he sniffed. “And you have to leave too…”
Xiao You smiled faintly, as her tears formed too. “But you don’t like me,”
“What are you talking about…?”
“Xi Men, you don’t like me. You like Xiao Gen,”
He swallowed yet another quickly formed lump in his throat. “Xiao You, I…”
She looked at him.
“I ignored how Xiao Gen felt for me. I stood her up; that is why she left. I lost my childhood friend because I didn’t want to hurt her for the man that I am, but in the end, I still hurt her because I pushed her away,” he said.
She saw his tear fell. She reached over to brush his tear. Seeing him like this, her tears formed too.
“And you…” he said, making her looked at him when he said that.
She questioned why he would say ‘and you’ right after he talked about Xiao Gen.
“I am so aware about how you feel for me and what you do for me. And I am so aware of…” he didn’t know how to continue.
“Xi Men… earlier…” Xiao You said. “Earlier… I know you sleep with me because of what I asked from you. And I remember you have said before. I am not your type,” she controlled her emotions so that her tears did not fall.
His own words uttered to her had stabbed back at him now. “I…”
Xiao You forced a smile on her face as she rubbed his arm. “I know. And I understand,”
“I…” he stammered again, as he lowered his head down. He then lifted his head back up, and he looked at her, at the same time, swallowing the lump in his throat. “I like you,”
Xiao You is surprised. “You… like me?”
He lowered his head and he nodded. “I am always afraid…”
He got his lips sealed this time. He is not elaborating further.
She didn’t know why or what he is afraid of, but she will not force him to say.
She leaned forward and hugged him.
Those are the words she had always wanted to hear from Xi Men.
He hugged her back, tight.
Her tears finally fell.
“Can you… please… don’t leave?” he asked, and more of his tears fell.
She bites her lips. “I wish… but I can’t,”
She eases from the hug. She looked at Xi Men. She wiped his tears.
“Because of this trip… I fought with my parents. They do not want me to come back to Taipei because they are afraid I might not go back to Toronto. But I am not satisfied with things between you and me, so I told them I must come back here… and I promised them I will go back,” she said, “Also, I am currently studying in a University. I have promised my parents I will finish this course. It will take me 4 years. My parents worked really hard to pay for my course fees. I must do it because I have promised them,”
Xi Men bites his lips as he is utterly sad. He closed his eyes as he took a deep breath. He then opened his eyes and nodded. “Then be a filial daughter. Do what you need to do…” he caressed her face.
“Xi Men, I am sorry…”
He shook. “It is not your fault,” he forced himself to smile.
Xiao You smiled, as he brushed her tears away. “You can come and visit me if you want to,”
Xi Men smiled faintly. “If I could,”
Xiao You nodded. “Anyway… I don’t know when I can see you again… so… I’ll see you when I see you…”
Xi Men bites his lower lip and nodded. “I’ll see you when I see you,”
He pulled her to him and hugged her again.
He then lowered his head and kissed her lips.
It is a kiss filled with emotions.
He could feel butterflies in his stomach as his lips touched hers’.
And she could feel tingles traveling down her spine as her lips touched his’.
A kiss that both of them didn’t want an end to.
Sadly, a kiss has to come to end – no matter how long it is.
After they break off the kiss, Xiao You smiled faintly at him.
He smiled back at her.
“I… I need to go now,” she said.
Sadness grew in him upon hearing that, but he knew… she needs to go.
“Goodbye, Xi Men,”
He looked intently at her before he said the words he dreaded, “Goodbye, Xiao You,”
She smiled and nodded briefly. She then turned and head towards the Departure Gate.
He looked at her taking a step after another, and each step she took is getting further from where he stood.
After the security personnel checked Xiao You’s passport and the air ticket, he allowed her entry.
Xiao You walks in into the Departure Gate.
Xi Men turned around and pressed the back of his right fist to his mouth as he can no longer control his emotions and tears. He bursts out crying again, for the second time today.
This time, it is more heartbreaking.
“Why am I feeling like this? Why?” he asked himself.
Xiao You turned and saw Xi Men’s back facing her. She bites her lips. And tears fell.
Flashback reverie: Exit.
Xiao You turned to look at her chauffeur. “Yes, Jin?”
“We are here,” her chauffeur said, looking at her via the back mirror.
Xiao You turned her head to look at the building on the right. “Okay, thank you,”
*Car halted and handbrake pulled.
The sound of the handbrake pulled awakes Xi Men from his reverie.
Xi Men immediately turned to look at his chauffeur, and then in a split second, recognizes the view in front of him.
He then turned to his right to see the office building in front of him.
He had already reached his destination: Xi Men Corporation.