I Still… – Chapter 85

Sunday. 7.40pm.

Xiao You entered the grand theatre, with her right hand holding onto the ticket and the program book while the other holds onto her peach-colored long dress as she descended the steps.

Xi Men, who looks dashing in a black suit and tie, followed behind her with a program book in his hand as well.

Looking at the row number in her ticket, she keeps descending the steps and then stopped at the 2nd row from front.

She then scanned the seat number.

“Are you sure we are seated so… front?” Xi Men asked, looking at the stage, and then raised the ticket in his hand up and looked at it. “I mean…”

“This is our seats,” Xiao You said, pointing at the VIP seats located in the middle of the theatre.

Xi Men looked at the seats that Xiao You had pointed, and then he checked the number in his ticket again. “Wow, 2nd row from the stage?” he asked. “Really?”

This is such a great seat to watch the performance since it is so near to the stage!

“Raymond will try to get good seats unless the seats are sold out,” Xiao You said, sitting down.

“Oh,” he said, unimpressed with what he heard, and then he sits down on the seat next to Xiao You.

‘That guy is capable to…’

“He said someone cancelled the booking, so he managed to get these nice seats,” Xiao You said, interrupting his thought.

“Oh,” he said again, finally understands why, “That is why he managed to get good seats,”

“Yes,” she said, lifting her head up and looked at the stage in front of her. “Nice seats,”

Xi Men just smirked forcefully.

DAMNNNNNNNN…

“And another program book again,” Xiao You said, looking at the program book in her hand. “I already have one,”

“Oh,” he looked at the program book in his hand that was earlier given to him because his seat is the VIP seat.

He obtained a program book the last time he came to watch with Rebecca, but he tossed the book to her, and he didn’t even give it a look.

He didn’t even know what is inside the book.

If it is not mistaken, Rebecca brought both copies back home.

Xi Men lifted the book in his hand up, and flips the first page.

“Xi Men,”

Xi Men turned to look at Xiao You. “Yes, wifey?”

“I wanna ask you something,” Xiao You turned to face him.

“What about?” Xi Men asked, closing the program book.

“You know I am a big fan of this musical, and I watch it so frequently at home,” Xiao You said.

“Yeah,” he said. “You are a big fan. I acknowledge that,”

“Though I am a big fan of it, you never watched the musical with me at home when I play it on the DVD,” she said.

“Yeah… I know… and then…?” he asked.

“Although I play it on the TV, you said you never watched the entire musical,”

“Yes, you are right. I only glanced to the TV, watching some fragments. Bits and pieces here and there,” Xi Men responded.

“What about the songs?” she asked. “You can hear them with your ears despite not watching with your eyes, right?”

“Well, I heard their conversations and songs, but I don’t really listen or paid attention to it,” he said. “I am concentrating on my work while you watch it, remember?”

“I remember,” she said. “You need to do your work, so I watch the musical. And even if I specifically feel like watching it, you will somehow take out your laptop and starts working,”

He laughed. “Yes,” he said. “So, what are these questions all about?”

She tilts her head as she looked at him. “The thing is, based on what I remember as well as what you have just said… you don’t like this musical. Or rather there is no sign that you will like this musical. Then why is it that all of a sudden, you love this musical… and you said you love it because of me. What do you mean by that?” she asked.

“Oh, that,” he smiled as he lifted his head up slightly.

Before he could say anything else, Xiao You had to say first.

“But you watched this with Rebecca the last round,” she said.

The smile fades and he turned to look at her upon hearing the name ‘Rebecca’ being uttered all of a sudden, “Ah?”

Again?

“Although I have tried to make you watch for years, you didn’t, but yet you watched this with her. Are you sure you like the musical because of me, and not her?” Xiao You asked.

Xi Men, at once, feared that Xiao You will be displeased with it but he realized there is no sign of sulkiness on her face. Instead, she has this ‘wondering’ look on her face.

It is as though the question is really posted as it is, and not used to mask her unhappiness.

That made things easier for her, since he is afraid she’ll be unhappy.

“Well, Rebecca is indeed the one suggested to watch this musical,” Xi Men explained. “But I did not watch this because of her,”

“Oh?” Xiao You asked. “Really?”

“I actually hesitated at first. I mean, I don’t watch this… as you have watched this for years at home and it didn’t intrigued me to watch it at all… so… why would I be interested to watch a theatre version?”

Xiao You tilts her head and nodded as a mean that she understands, “Okay… then?”

He took a deep breath and then exhaled it. “To be honest with you, I actually watched this because of Raymond,”

Xiao You is surprised upon hearing that. “Raymond?”

She had never thought Raymond is the reason!

“Umm, well… because the musical is also one of the best in the world, it says…” he awkwardly adds.

“Hmm…” Xiao You finds herself nodding lightly in agreement that the musical is indeed one of the best but she doesn’t understand the relation between Raymond and watching the best musical, yet; although the only connection in those 2 statements is that Raymond plays the lead of the musical.

“And because he is going after you…” he murmured.

She looked at Xi Men.

Main motive revealed.

“He didn’t go after me,” Xiao You corrected him.

“I mean, I thought,” he quickly adds, although he didn’t mean what he had just said. Xiao You probably thinks Raymond didn’t go after her, but Xi Men’s sixth sense says Raymond did. Or still do.

Xiao You looked at Xi Men.

“Well, that is the reason,” Xi Men said.

‘He watched the musical because Raymond is going after me.’

‘What kind of reason is that?’

‘Because Raymond is going after…’

Her eyes strayed.

She kind of gets the connection now.

“It sounds like you watched it because you felt inferior and just wanted to know how good he is,” she blurted out before she gazes at him.

Xi Men widened his eyes.

SPOT ON!

Seeing the widened eyes, Xiao You immediately covered her mouth with her hand, knowing she’s right. “Oops,”

“I don’t need to feel like that,” he defended awkwardly.

Busted.

“Hee… okay, I love you, honey,” she bares her teeth at him.

He looked at her, knowing what she is doing there. Seeing her being all cute and lovely at him, he just smiled sweetly and let it pass.

“So, you came to watch the musical with Rebecca because of that?” Xiao You asked.

“Yeah. It has nothing to do with watching with her, it so happens that I watch it with her,” he said.

Xi Men and his weird concept.

However, Xiao You understood. At least it is comforting to know he didn’t watch the musical solely because Rebecca asks him to and that he gives in to accompany her.

Not a good feeling if he is really doing it because of Rebecca.

“Then, why do you like the musical? Or rather, what makes you like the musical?” Xiao You asked. “You have not answered that,”

“Because of you,” Xi Men smiled.

“I know. You’ve said that before, but you have not told me the reason behind it and what prompts it,”

“The musical has great songs and wonderful performances. Pretty impactful, I should say. Even when you leave the hall, the songs… they just play in your mind, again and again. But the final scene… in my opinion; is the most powerful of all,” Xi Men said.

“Powerful?” Xiao You asked.

“It reminds me of you,” he smiled.

“The final scene?” Xiao You asked, frowning. “What about it that reminds you of me?”

Xi Men tilts his head and then looked at the stage, “She returned the ring to him and she left. She left with the other guy. And this lead, he is left alone…” he said, as he recalled the scene vividly in his mind. “He sobbed pitifully,”

Xiao You looked at Xi Men describing the scene.

“It was that scene that makes me think of you,” Xi Men said, returning his gaze to her. “It reminds me of you returning the wedding ring to me, and I could imagine you leaving… with someone else, or rather, specifically… Raymond. And I am left devastated… on my own…”

She could totally feel his emotions at the way he described it. She can feel his sadness.

Xiao You extends her hand and holds his hand, and he responded with a gentle grip.

Xi Men straightened his head to look straight to the stage, but his focus is to nothing as he recalled the scene in his mind, “In that scene, I could feel vastly connected to the lead character. It strangely grasped my heart, my feelings and my emotions, as though I was him. I could feel his pain. How he watches his love leaves him right in front of his eyes…” he said, looking straight still. “It keeps reminding me of you. I keep thinking of you,”

Xiao You smiled faintly.

“I don’t want to be in his position,” Xi Men said, and then turned to look at her. “And that was when… I found out, I still want to be with you and I still love you,”

Xiao You’s smile fades slightly.

“That I still love you,” he repeats, and then he lowered his eyes to look at her hand in his grip, where he caressed the back of her hand with his thumb.

Xiao You then pressed her lips as she looked at him.

He took a deep relieving breath. “And I have to watch this musical on the day before we sign our divorce papers… that is why I could not sign it that day,” he smiled faintly.

“If you hadn’t watched this on that day… do you think you can sign the document?” she asked.

Xi Men took a deep breath again, raising his head up and looked at the stage, “I don’t know. But… since I have separated from you, those few months made me feel… lost. I don’t know what I am doing anymore. I mean… my life has turned upside down, and it is getting worse as days go,”

Xiao You just looked at him, and she smiled briefly.

“You know,” he turned his head to look at her, “I was upset at you setting the day to sign the document so quickly,”

“Because to me, if it had to happen sooner or later… might as well just do it now,” she said.

He smiled briefly at her respond. “Well… I am glad I watch this musical before the fateful day, or else… I may sign it. I may dumbly sign it. I may dumbly, idiotically sign it. And then… I will be in tremendous regret and misery…” he squeezes her hand. “My miseries during our separation is already killing me; I think I’ll die in sorrow and depression if I signed the document and then rediscover my feelings for you,”

Xiao You bites her lower lip and tears formed in her eyes, as she could feel herself in the same situation.

Xi Men’s smile grew. “That is why; this musical is very meaningful to me. It saves me and my relationship. That is why I love this musical,” he looked into her teary eyes. “So, now you know I love the musical because of you,”

Xiao You smiled and she nodded, a tear fell.

He reached for the fallen tear and wiped it. “I regret watching the musical for the first time with Rebecca, because I would love to watch it with you. But I know watching with you for the first time will be ‘just another musical’. And I will never appreciate this musical if Raymond had not come into the picture and potentially took you away from me,” he said. “And because of everything… right now, it makes me appreciate watching this musical for the second time with the love of my life,”

Xiao You smiled.

He leaned over to her and plants a kiss on her forehead. “I love you,” he uttered.

“I love you too,” she replied.

She lifted her head up slightly and they kissed briefly on the lips.

Both of them smiled at each other.

Someone sits down next to Xiao You, making both Xi Men and Xiao You glanced over for a brief while.

Xiao You then returned her gaze to Xi Men. “So, the first thing that actually made you came to watch the musical was because of Raymond, huh,” she said, retracting her hand.

“Just wanted to see how good he is,” Xi Men said, exhaling a deep breath with it.

“Eh, you admitted to that?”

He gazes at her quickly, suddenly realized he had blurted that out. He then cleared his throat. “I mean, at what he does. In the musical,”

She chuckled at how he tried to defend himself. “So, he’s good, huh?” Xiao You smiled. “I am sure he is glad about how you are impacted by his acting,”

“Good? I don’t even know where he is. I have been watching out for him but there is no sight of him. Is he one of the background casts or what?” Xi Men asked.

Xiao You’s smile faded as she looked at him, (Xiao You) surprised. “You’ve got to be kidding me,”

“What?”

“You don’t know what Raymond’s character in the musical is?” Xiao You asked, still in surprise.

Xi Men frowned as he looked at her reaction, “I don’t know. What character is he?”

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it that you don’t know,”

Xi Men looked at her with that reaction. “Am I supposed to know?”

“Raymond is the phantom. He is the lead of the musical,” Xiao You said.

Xi Men’s eyes widened. HUGE. EXTRA LARGE.

“WHAT?” he asked.

“Yes. Raymond is the guy that runs the musical. He is EVERYTHING in this musical,” Xiao You said. “He is the one you once felt connected to on stage,” she lifted her hand up and point at the stage. “At the final scene,”

Xi Men stared at Xiao You, surprised. “NO. WAY.”

Xiao You looked at him, “He is the one that gained utmost attention at the Onan dinner because he is the lead guy in this musical. You could have sense this at that dinner, right?”

Xi Men straightened his head to look at the stage, still gaped. “How can I sense he is the lead just from the dinner? In my overall opinion, he is getting the attention because he is one of the casts!”

“But he is the MAIN guy! He will get all the attentions definitely! More than anyone else!”

“I… I have never thought of it that way…” he murmured. “I have just been paying attention to you that night!”

She looked at him.

Alright. That makes sense on why he doesn’t know Raymond’s popularity from the dinner where he gave his entire attention to her and takes note that she is standing by Raymond’s side that night.

“Fine, if you could not sense that at the dinner, then you could have seen his name at the ‘Characters Board’ at the entrance, right?” Xiao You asked.

“Characters Board?” Xi Men repeated after her.

“What? You didn’t see the board?” Xiao You is still taken aback.

“I didn’t see ANY board,”

“Then what about the program book?” Xiao You asked.

“Pro… program book?” Xi Men asked, immediately lowering his head down and looked at the book on his thigh. He quickly grabbed it and flipped the book now.

“Oh man…” Xiao You squeezed her nasal bridge, still in disbelief.

There are so many hints and places where Xi Men could have known that Raymond is the lead character of this musical but he did not know at all.

By any chance, he could have speculated it too, right?

Xi Men flipped pages after pages until he reached the characters’ page.

Lead: RAYMOND LESLIE.

Xi Men’s jaw dropped.

There is even a picture of Raymond in his biography. There is no mistake now that Raymond is obviously the lead of this musical.

“You didn’t see the program book the last time?” Xiao You asked.

Xi Men lifted his head up and looked at Xiao You. “No…”

“Were you sitting on VIP seat back then?”

“Yes, I am,”

“Then…” Xiao You frowned. “Do you… even get the book?”

“I did. I had the book,” Xi Men said. “But I didn’t open it… and I gave that book away…”

“You gave that book away without even opening it?”

“I mean, it is not important to me,” he said. “I don’t have the intention to look at it too…that is why I… I didn’t look at it and… give it away…”

She just looked at him. “Oh,” she straightened her head after that.

“Okay, here is there thing,”

Xiao You turned and looked at Xi Men again.

“I have never, ever, imagined he is the lead of this musical,” Xi Men said. “Geez… I didn’t even know he is so damn big-time,” he murmured, but didn’t know it is loud enough for Xiao You to hear.

She just looked at him.

“And also, about the book; I was under the impression that he won’t be in this book. And even if he is, I don’t want to keep a lookout for him in that particular character. I don’t want to judge the musical based on how I felt about Raymond,”

Xiao You’s eyes brightened up slightly, “Really?”

“Yes. And to be honest, I don’t like Raymond. But I don’t want to dislike the musical because of him,” Xi Men said. “More over, before I even watch it,”

Listening to his reason, what he had decided sounds fair, especially to the musical.

“I wanted to enjoy the musical as it is supposed to be,” Xi Men adds. “So…”

“So, did you enjoy the musical at that time, without knowing which character Raymond plays?” Xiao You asked.

“I did,” Xi Men replied.

Xiao You smiled. “Well, okay,” her smile widened and then straightened her head to look at the stage.

Xi Men smiled briefly, and then he looked at her, admiring the stage. He then also looked at the stage for 10 seconds, before he returned his gaze to her.

“Xiao You, I wanna ask you something,”

“Sure,” Xiao You replied, turning her head to look at him.

“Since Raymond is such a big star here that he runs the musical… and we know your dream is to dance in a musical…”

Xiao You looked at him. “Hmmm?”

“Have you ever asked Raymond about it? To get you in, or to offer you a spot in the musical?” Xi Men asked. “Or did he ask you to join the musical?”

Xiao You smirks, “No, never,”

“But… I thought you love it, and I thought… he can get you in… if you ask him to,”

“Xi Men, maybe you aren’t sure with the process of getting in into such a huge musical,” Xiao You said. “Although I’ve said Raymond ‘runs’ the musical; he is running it as an actor, not the owner – so he doesn’t own the musical. In musicals, everyone has to go through audition and probably few callbacks before they will be handpicked by the casting director. They will never get in thru recommendations. And no, I don’t get a priority just because I am Raymond’s friend. And no, being Raymond’s friend does not guarantee a call for audition nor a spot in the musical. So, it is not as easy as you thought. It is not like, ‘oh, it is Mr. and Mrs. Xi Men, let’s make way for them now!’,”

Xi Men chuckled at the example of comparison Xiao You has given.

Xiao You smiled, “So, to answer your question, it is not possible to ask Raymond or to have Raymond let me bypass all those and gets a spot to perform,”

“Oh,”

Xiao You tilts her head, “Why do you ask?”

“Just… curious. Since… you’ve spent some time with him. Who knows if he can do that for you and fulfill your dream…” Xi Men said.

“You want me to go for it?”

Xi Men smiled at her, “Well… I’ve told you before… one year is something I can put up with,” he holds her hand.

Xiao You just smiled. “Thank you, but no. I’ve said it before. If I wanted to do it, I should have done it years ago. Not now. I can’t fight with other ballerinas anymore. And also, I am at the age where being a teacher is better, since I have a husband and a daughter; not wise to be away from my family for a long time,”

Xi Men smiled faintly and he gently squeezes her hand. “I am sorry about that,” he said. “I am really, really sorry,” he repeated.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said, using her other hand and pats his hand. “Just compensate on that by treating me the best you could for the rest of your life,”

He chuckled, “I will, wifey,”

She smiled.

He smiled, as he then straightened his head to look at the stage, seemingly waiting for the musical to start.

She looked at him.

And now that he already knows about Raymond playing the lead…

“Hubby,” she called.

“Hmmm?” he turned to look at her.

“Can you promise me something?” Xiao You asked.

“About?”

“You already know Raymond is the lead in this musical now. Will you watch this musical as it is, and you won’t judge it because of Raymond?” Xiao You asked.

Xi Men looked at Xiao You.

“I know it may be hard to stop you from hating him but this is Raymond’s job. This is his career; something he does for passion. Don’t judge what he did professionally to something personal,” she said. “And I assure you; Raymond is my friend. He is just my friend. And I am with you now,”

Xi Men smiled briefly and with the other free hand, he pats her hand that is holding his right hand. “Okay,”

“Promise? That you will watch this musical as it is without judging him personally?”

He smiled and nodded. “Yes, I promise you,”

Xiao You smiled back at him. “Thank you,”

“You are welcome,” he smiled, caressing her jaw line.

Lights dimmed.

“Ah. It is starting,” Xiao You said, sitting straight and leaned her back to the seat now.

Xi Men smiled.

So… even though Raymond acts in the musical, he couldn’t help Xiao You to get into the musical even if he or Xiao You wanted to.

Also…

Finding out that Raymond is the lead of the musical, it explains a lot of things.

Because half of Raymond’s face is covered by the mask, Xi Men could not locate Raymond in the musical when he came to watch the last time.

But today, Xi Men came to watch this musical for a whole different reason.

Not because of Raymond but because of Xiao You.

Although he dislikes Raymond, hearing what Xiao You said comforts him; she is with him now.

Having his partner sitting comfortably next to him, he can really enjoy the musical as it is.

And as promised.


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9 thoughts on “I Still… – Chapter 85

  1. I actually cried when reading this, the part where XM revealing the truth of what he felt n went through during the period of the separation from XY.
    As you always are, good job Ann 😀

  2. Hmmm sis It will be a very sexy get away for both of them!!! Your writing skills will be tested with the intimate scene LOL

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