Xiao You lifted her gaze up and looked at Lei. “What do you elite guys have against professional ballerinas, huh?”
Lei and Jing stared at Xiao You questionably.
What is that supposed to mean?
And… why did this pop up from nowhere?
“Huh?” Lei asked.
Jing frowned. “Sorry…?”
Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat, suddenly feeling embarrassed, as though she had vented her frustration at unrelated people. “I am sorry,” she said.
“What are you trying to say, Xiao You?” Jing asked.
Xiao You lifted her head up to look at Jing. “I… I want to ask…”
“Sure, what is it?” Jing asked.
“Since both of you came from the same background… I am sure you will know,” Xiao You said.
Lei and Jing exchanged glances. “Hmmm?”
“Is professional ballet dancer a profession that elites don’t agree with?” Xiao You asked.
“Professional ballet dancer?” Jing asked.
“Don’t agree with?” Lei asked.
“I mean, dancing and performing in great productions… shows… theatres…”
Lei and Jing frowned at each other.
“I don’t understand your question,” Jing said.
Xiao You looked at Jing, and then at Lei.
Lei shook as well. “No, I don’t get it either,”
Xiao You took a deep breath. “As a commoner, I am asking the elites, is the profession of a professional ballet dancer, whom would perform in great productions and shows, is inappropriate or even a disgrace to elites?”
Lei and Jing’s eyes brightened up slightly at the question as well as the way Xiao You asked the question, and then they looked at each other, before looking at Xiao You again.
“Commoner? Are you still thinking you are a commo…”
“That’s not the question,” Jing interrupted Lei and said.
“I mean…” Lei frowned with his eyes closed, “I am sorry. I mean…” he opened his eyes and looked at Xiao You, “No, Xiao You, no. Where on earth do you get that idea, or perception?”
“It is not a disgrace of course,” Jing said. “I learned ballet when I was younger too, and… well, I did not pursue further after the age of 14 but that…”
Jing basically stopped talking as all of sudden, she seems to get a hint, or a message.
Lei finds it weird that Jing stopped her sentence just like that.
“Really?” Xiao You asked.
Jing looked at Xiao You, “Xiao You, are you saying… you wanted to be a professional ballerina but you felt it is a disgrace and…”
“I do not feel it is (a disgrace),” Xiao You interrupted.
Jing looked at her.
Lei looked at Jing.
After a brief pause, Jing says, “Since you said ‘elite’… are you saying Xi Men…”
Lei immediately turned his head to look at Xiao You, finally understood what is going on now.
Xiao You only looked at Jing and Lei blankly.
“You mean, you wanted to be a professional ballerina for great productions and Xi Men is against it?” Lei asked.
“It was my dream while I was still studying,” Xiao You replied. “But I never get to pursue that,”
Lei and Jing exchanged glances.
Although Xiao You never said anything about Xi Men against it, somehow, her tone is saying so.
“You make it sound like it is not the problem with elites,” Xiao You said again, blankly.
Lei looked at Xiao You, “If you ask me, no. Not that I know of,” he said.
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“Most of us learned ballet as a hobby or as a past time activity, but as far as I know, none I knew from the elites had pursue a career in ballet. But… if you ask me… I don’t see anything wrong in that,” Jing said.
“Jing, you cut your hair in front of your parents, relatives and friends that you do not want to be elite, and that you want to pursue your career as a human rights lawyer instead of coming back home and manage Teng Tang Corporation… of course you’ll support pursuing what you desire, therefore, you see no wrong in pursuing ballet as a career,” Xiao You said.
Jing glances at Lei in defeat after hearing what Xiao You has said.
Lei looked at Jing too. He remembered that was a very painful time for him when she chooses to leave Taipei.
But, he pursued her years later and now, she is right here next to him, already married to him and has an adorable son with him.
She is his loving wife now.
Lei returned his gaze to Xiao You. “Then will you trust my view if I tell you mine since I’ve done none of those?”
Xiao You switched her gaze to look at Lei.
“Taking Jing as an example, she learned ballet when she was younger. If ballet is something inappropriate or disgrace like you have said, why would her parents enroll her into ballet classes? And… I don’t even understand what makes you think it is inappropriate or disgrace in the first place,” Lei said.
“Yeah, maybe you can explain that,” Jing said.
Xiao You took a deep breath and then exhaled it fiercely. “I don’t know. I personally felt that Xi Men does not like it, so I did not pursue that path,” she said. “Maybe it is not nice to be seen dancing on stage for everyone,”
Lei and Jing frowned.
But at least, she mentioned something about Xi Men not liking it, or rather, she feels he does not like it.
“Xiao You, let me be clear with you,” Lei said.
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“As an elite myself, I have never heard that professional ballerina is a no-go job for elites. And… everyone will be happy if his or her partner dances for great, popular productions and making a name for her own,” Lei said. “So, I am sure if in some ways it is an issue; then it is Xi Men himself and nothing to do with being an elite,”
Xiao You remained looking at Lei, and then also saw Jing nodded.
“I guess, maybe elites don’t like one to pursue those hobbies as a career…” Xiao You finds excuses.
“If you are still determined to put the blame on being an elite, then what about Xiao Qiao?” Lei asked.
“Xiao Qiao?” Xiao You asked, looking at Lei.
“Instead of handling business, she pursues her passion in music and became a famous cellist, and Mei Zhuo is extremely proud of her, all of us are happy for her,” Lei said.
Xiao You lowered her gaze slightly.
What Lei said makes sense.
Xiao Qiao is also pursuing based on what she loves. Music. And now, she is a famous cellist known worldwide, and there is no problem.
Then why would it be a problem for her to be a professional ballerina, if ballet is also generally taken as a hobby by the elites?
“I firmly believe this is something to do with Xi Men’s preference. Not the elites,” Lei clarified.
Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at Lei.
“As an elite as well, my answer is; I agree with what Lei had said,” Jing said.
Xiao You looked at Jing now.
Xi Men nodded at the calling by Butler Pan as he entered the penthouse.
“Daddy!” Emily, who is watching cartoon on the TV, yelled happily and then runs to him.
“Hi sweetie,” Xi Men smiled, and then carried his daughter up in his arms.
“Daddy, I miss you,” Emily said, wrapping her tiny hands around Xi Men’s neck.
“I miss you too sweetie,” Xi Men said, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Where is mommy?”
“She is in her room,” Emily smiled.
Is it okay for him to enter the bedroom?
Well, it was their room, right?
But… their relationship now…
Xi Men then gazes at Emily.
Hmmm… with Emily, things will be much easier.
“Let’s go and see mommy, okay?”
“Okay!” Emily said.
Xi Men smiled.
As he carries Emily, he walked to the master bedroom and knocked on the door.
“Mommy!” Emily called out.
Without waiting for Xiao You’s respond, Xi Men turned the doorknob and opened the door.
Thinking it is Butler Pan that opens the door, Xiao You, who is sitting on the bed, smiled sweetly at Emily… only to realize it is Xi Men and not Butler Pan.
The smile on her face fades slightly.
Xi Men, instead, smile. “Hi,”
“Hi,” Xiao You replied. “Just came?”
“Yeah,” Xi Men said, closing the door behind him, and then he puts Emily down to stand on the floor; and the little one dashes to the bed where Xiao You is. “How are you feeling?” he looked at Emily climbing onto the bed.
“Just usual,” Xiao You said, patting Emily’s head. “Bored,”
Xi Men smiled briefly, walking towards her. “You can watch some shows…”
“Don’t really feel like it,” she answered.
He the gazes to her smartphone on the side table; which its screen is lighted up, so he guesses that she is using her smartphone just right before he comes in.
Maybe… she is texting Raymond?
“Is your foot alright?” Xi Men asked, sitting down on the side of the bed.
“I think that’s a bit obvious (for the answer),” Xiao You said, continue to pat Emily’s head.
Of course. There’s no pain or injuries. What is there to be ‘not alright’ about?
“Oh…” Xi Men uttered, and then gazes at Xiao You’s foot, to see that the bandage is not there. “Eh, the bandage…?”
“I have to take it off to shower,” she responded.
“Oh, then you should have…”
“The bandage is restricting my movement. I feel more comfortable without it,” Xiao You answered.
“Umm… alright…” Xi Men said.
Xiao You pressed her lips together, anticipating what he might say or ask next. Her eyes then gazes on the shining band on his finger, and realized it is the wedding ring.
He had put the wedding ring back on…
She knew what it means.
But she did not say anything about accepting him back.
She is too afraid to feel the heartbreak again.
Xi Men realizes her eyes had been lowered, as if looking at something, and that causes him to lower his head down to see what she is looking at… and he saw what she is seeing.
His wedding ring.
“Emily…” Xi Men called, as he is still looking at his ring.
Xiao You lifted her gaze to look at his face, and Emily turned around to look at him.
Xi Men lifted his head up (from the ring) and he smiled at Emily, “Sweetie, do you want to go and watch TV?”
Xiao You knows what this totally means.
He wants to talk to her, but she didn’t want to talk about this.
“Oh! My cartoon!” Emily is quick to say, and then dashes to the door to open the door herself, and then runs out, without closing it.
Xi Men smiled as he stood up and heads to the door and closes the door.
Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat.
And soon, Xi Men had already walked to the bed, sitting down on the spot where he was sitting earlier.
Xiao You just turned her head and looked at him the moment he sits down.
It is just the two of them in the room.
In their master bedroom.
Xi Men dives his hand into his pants’ pocket…
“There is something I want to ask you,” Xiao You said, basically interrupted what he wanted to do.
He looked at her, and then he pulled his hand out from his pants’ pocket. “Sure, what is it?”
Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat, and then she looked away, “I want to know…”
“Your reason on why you don’t like me to be a professional ballet dancer,”
There is a distinct change on his facial expression.
He had never thought this topic will be popped up again.
She turned her head to look at him, and he looked at her.
“I have given that dream up and you know it will not come back. I just want to know why you don’t like it,” she said. “And be honest with me,”
He lowered his head slightly.
Seeing he is still not saying anything, “I thought it has something to do with your status as an elite. I thought the job as a dancer is probably not ‘elite’ enough. And then… I realize it is not,” Xiao You said. “I found out the problem is with you,”
Xi Men lifted his head up and looked at her.
“So, tell me,” Xiao You said.
Xiao You looked at him, waiting.
“You said it before… landing a job is difficult. I don’t want you to fight for a vacancy with everyone else…” Xi Men said.
She stared at him with a cold gaze.
“There is no job security… and… and you might potentially overwork and injure yourself,” he said. “You love dancing ballet… if you’ve injured your legs, how are you supposed to dance again? I was just trying to protect you…”
She just looked at him.
And he looked at her.
“And some more?” she asked.
“Some more?” he asked, surprised.
She looked at him intently, “You have not said all the reasons,”
“I know there still is. I can sense it,” Xiao You said “There is still something else,”
“There… there is nothing else,” Xi Men said.
“Those that you have said are the things I told you back then. But the facial expression of yours where you dislike this job has been prominently shown even before all those that I have said. So, I am sure there is something else,” Xiao You said.
He looked at her, and then lowering his head again.
“And you can’t be honest with that?” she asked.
“I… I…” he stuttered.
“You know this is your only chance,” she said, half-threatening him.
He lifted his head up and looked at her, locking his eyes with her cold gaze, and 5 seconds later, she straightened her head, looking away.
She is not going to give in, he needs to tell her.
“I… I can’t accept the profession…”
He had said it. Finally.
Xiao You bites her lips, as tears formed. “Why? What’s wrong with being a dancer?”
“I… can’t,” Xi Men pressed his lips together.
“But ballet is a good…”
“Xiao You, I have seen guys approaching dancers to…” Xi Men interrupted and then paused. “…sleep…”
Xiao You turned her head to look at Xi Men in disbelief. “What…?”
Xi Men swallowed the lump in his throat. “I was 13. Years before the womanizing days. My dad brought me to watch a performance. At the end of it… I watched men… went to dancers… and then…”
“What kind of performance are you watching, huh? At the age of 13?!”
“Don’t get me wrong. I don’t remember what performance but it is NOT those you are thinking about. Although I was just 13, I remember that vividly. I know what it is all about,”
“How do you know it was to bed them? It can be…”
“How can some random men puts their arms around you as though they are privileged to do that when they don’t even know each other?” Xi Men asked.
Xiao You looked at Xi Men, still in disbelief.
“I am sorry! I know this does not happen everywhere and this is probably something random happening somewhere or it doesn’t happen anymore right now, but I can’t get that image out of my mind. I don’t mean to stereotype all dancers as that, and I believe there are places where dancers are not being treated like that, but I do not want to let you have the chance to be exposed to something like this. I can’t let anyone come to you and ask you to do something with them, you get me?” he said.
Xiao You looked at him for a while, as though trying to absorb and understand what he is saying.
She then sniffed, “Okay…” she said, “…okay,” and she repeats.
“Xiao You… I am really sorry. I was trying to protect you… but I did not know it is also your dream to be one,” Xi Men said.
He looked at her, really saddened that he had to tell her the painful truth; that what she wants is what he can’t accept…
Xiao You nodded as she swallowed the lump in her throat. “I understand now. Everything makes sense now,” her tears fell and she wiped them almost immediately.
“But if you had told me that you only want to do this for one year, I will let you do it. I will really let you do it,” Xi Men persuades, extends his hand forward to hold her hand. “I will try my best to live with it for one year because it is your dream, and I will just silently wish everything will be alright with you… that no guys will…”
Xiao You sniffs, and then retracts her hand from his grip in the middle of his words.
Xi Men stopped talking after seeing what she had done. He believes she is reacting like this because she must have been really, really heartbroken about him trashing her dream.
But he didn’t know… it is actually for something else.
Because she didn’t want him to touch her.
“I understand,” Xiao You said. “Thank you for telling me,”
“I am really sorry, Xiao You…” he said. “And… and if you want to do it now, go, do it,” he said worriedly (for her reaction). “Really. I will support you,”
Xiao You smirks. “If only I hear this years ago,” she uttered.
“Xiao You, go ahead and do it. I will help you. I’ll look for the productions and get them to hire…”
“Ever thought about Emily? Do you know, becoming a ballet dancer will take a lot of my time, that I probably would not even have time for myself. Then, what about her? In order to follow my dreams, I should abandon her?” Xiao You asked.
“I…” Xi Men stammered. “I am willing to take care of her for a while…”
“Easy for you to say,” Xiao You murmured.
“Xiao You, in order for you to get your…”
“Truth is,” Xiao You interrupts Xi Men. “I have told you before. The lifespan of ballerinas are short. If I were to do it, I should have done it when I first graduated. Not right now. Do you understand now why I said the moment I let the dream go, I will never get it back? Yes, people often say; it is never too late to start, but this is not the same as any other dreams. This is ballet, where age matters. Other ballerinas at my age are almost retiring, and what am I doing now, getting back into the game and increase my chance of injuring myself, overworking myself and pretend I am still in my early 20s?” Xiao You asked, looking at Xi Men. “Also, looking from a different perspective, I have to compete with younger graduates. Why do it now when I could have done it back then, when I am the ‘younger graduate’?”
Xi Men didn’t know what to say.
“Do you get me now? Not because I don’t want to pursue it now, but ballet is different. It is a well-known fact that you need to take the opportunity when it comes to you at a very young age. And now? The opportunity has long gone for me. It’s already over,” Xiao You said.
“I am sorry…” Xi Men said.
“But thank you,” she said, taking a deep breath. “Because… at least I know… this is something to do with your personal experience. And nothing… about your status or self-esteem… of having me as a dancer,”
He looked at her.
“Actually… I feel better after knowing that,” Xiao You said, and then she happened to smile briefly.
He felt guilty, but somehow, seeing her small smile, he felt slightly better too…
And then, he realized her smile has slowly changed to a contented one as she looked away to nothing.
There are so many things that Xi Men could derive from that facial expression.
Maybe she doesn’t feel as upset anymore to have given up her dream for him.
And he did not feel as bad anymore to have her give up the dream for him.
With the small smile still on her face, she slowly clasped her hands together.
He looked at her clasping her hands, and then he remembered something after seeing her bare fingers.
He dives his hand into his pants’ pocket again, and then takes out her wedding ring that he has been keeping.
With the wedding ring on his palm, “Xiao You…” he called.
Xiao You turned her head to look at him, and then noticed the jewelry in his hand.
Her small smile fades, and now she pressed her lips together.
“This is your ring,” he said.
He had worn his wedding ring. He is implying that it is now her turn to wear hers.
Xiao You straightened her head, looking away from him, “I don’t remember it anymore,” she coldly said.
Xi Men looked at Xiao You.
He noticed how fast her tone has changed.
She sounds contented at the end of the conversation just now. And now… it is different.
He felt heartbroken at what she had uttered, but he also noticed the tears are forming in her eyes.
She loves him still. He knows…
Without looking at him, Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat.
He came to the penthouse to visit her because he wants to, not because she allows him to.
She needs to let him know now. She needs to set records straight.
“Thank you for your care and attention,” Xiao You said, looking away. “Just so you know, I am doing well. My foot does not have an injury but I will rest at home for a week and go back to work next week as you wanted me to. But you don’t have to come and visit me,”
“I just wanted to make sure you are okay…” he said.
He doesn’t get it.
“I will be fine,” Xiao You said. “No, I am fine,” she corrected herself.
Xi Men pressed his lips together, lowered his head slightly.
“This injury probably gives you a chance to see me. But I don’t want to see you,” she said. “Anymore,”
Xi Men immediately lifted his head up to look at her. He looked at her, stunned at what she had uttered. On top of that, his heart is shattered to pieces with those words she had just uttered.
“But you said… it is not possible… because of Emily…”
“That will be the only exception,” Xiao You interrupts him and said. “But not just two of us; you and me,”
A tear rolled down Xi Men’s cheek as he looked at her.
“Please,” she uttered.
Xiao You does not even want to look at him as she speaks looking away.
He then took a deep breath but it was painful as taking the deep breath seems to choke him.
Xi Men turned his head away now. “Okay,”
He puts the ring in his palm down onto the side table.
“Take it with you,” Xiao You uttered.
He turned his head to look at Xiao You, who remains looking away.
“I don’t want to see it. Take it with you,”
Feeling absolutely heartbroken now, he took the wedding ring as demanded. “Please… please call me if there is anything. I will attend to you immediately,”
Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat again, not saying anything and still looking away.
Xi Men rose to his feet and then heads to the door, wiping the fallen tear on his face.
As he opened the door, he turned his head around to look at Xiao You again, who remains looking away.
He sniffed, and then walked out from the room.
As soon as he closed the door, Xiao You covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
Xi Men felt his soul had left him the moment he closed the door of the master bedroom, as he walked straight to the door/entrance of the penthouse and then heads to the lift; completely forgotten to wish his daughter goodnight and goodbye before leaving.
He walked to his Mazda parked in the designated parking bay and entered the car after he unlocked it.
Slamming the door close, he starts his engine up and puts on his seatbelt.
But before he drives or leaves the parking bay, reality finally gets the better of him.
Xiao You does not want to see him.
He clenched his teeth to control his emotions and feelings, but they won over him.
He slapped the steering wheel. “What have I done to myself?! What have I done to us?!” he shouted, and then bawled his eyes out in the driver seat.
“I could feel myself dying slowly without you… Xiao You…”
“How am I supposed to fix this now?”