“Are you alright?” Xiao You asked.
Xi Men smirked. “If you wanna talk to me, you can come in,”
“Oh,” she looked at him, as he didn’t reply her question.
Looking at her reaction like that, he opened the door wide and switched on the light of his room.
He turned around and walked to the bed, and sits down, leaning his back against the headboard.
“So, what’s up?” he asked, looking at her walking into the room.
“I probably should be the one asking you ‘what’s up’,” she said. “I didn’t see you in the living room, and you told my dad you are going to sleep at 9.30pm, which, you know, is something out of ordinary for you,”
He lets out a small laugh. “Well, you were in your room the whole time after dinner,”
“So, blaming me now?” she asked as she sits down on the bed.
“You have just said this is your house, right? So I believe you can be anywhere you want,”
She laughed. “Nah… a button on Emily’s shirt came off. So I am fixing it inside my room,”
“Oh,” he said.
“You look a bit bothered,” Xiao You said. “Are you alright?”
Xi Men just smirked and then he lowered down his eyes for a while. “I just didn’t want to watch TV anymore, so I came in,”
“That is all?”
“That is all,”
“Until you closed the door, hide in the room in darkness and not actually sleeping?”
He smiled again. “You are getting really good at these,”
“Well, if you didn’t open the door, I would really assume you are asleep,”
“But I would love to see you before I actually sleep. At least get a goodnight hug,” he said.
“Umm… you already see me now… are you going to chase me out from the room if I give you a hug now?” she asked.
He laughed. “Not that I can sleep at 9.30pm. I didn’t do anything exhaustive the whole day to tire myself up to sleep so early…” he sighed. “And even back then when I am tired… I don’t sleep so early too…”
“So, what happened?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “Actually the show on the TV is not suitable for me,”
“It was a story of a businessman who makes it big and is currently a billionaire in the world,”
“Oh, umm… what about it?”
“Reminds me of what I used to be,”
Her eyes widened. She finally understood.
“So I didn’t want to watch it, and come into my room,”
“But… why the darkness?” she asked.
He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Just don’t feel like switching on the lights,”
“You know you can talk to me if you want to…” she said.
He smiled, “I know. Thank you,”
She looked at him. He really didn’t want to talk about it?
Xi Men’s smile slowly fades and he lowered his head.
She remained looking at him, looking at his actions.
He didn’t seem to look like he is at ease. He looked like there are a lot of things running in his mind. As always, good with hiding them.
“If you want to be alone…” she slowly rose to her feet.
“You can stay,” he extends his hand to hold her hand.
And she sits back down.
“I didn’t want to feel lonely,” he said.
Didn’t want to feel lonely.
Then it will be okay if she just sits there in silence, probably that’s what he needs.
“Okay…” she positioned herself to sit next to him and leaning her back against the headboard.
But yet there is no awkwardness between two silent individuals.
“Oh, I have something to give to you…” Xi Men said, raising his head up, and then he reached for his wallet from the side table.
Xiao You wonders what is he up to. “Give me?” she asked.
“Yeah…” he shortly said.
He took out few TWD$1000 notes, but then he puts it back in, and then he fished out a stack of CAD$100 notes, and then he hands it to Xiao You.
Xiao You only looked at it, she didn’t take it. There is no reason for her to take it.
“What is this for?” Xiao You asked.
He grabbed her hand and puts the money in, “For my stay here,”
“I don’t know how long I will stay here. But there is strictly no reason for you or your parents to support me,”
“I don’t want your money,” Xiao You pushes it back to him.
“Xiao You, please take this,” Xi Men said. “Among everyone in this house, I am probably the richest. Yes, I am not working and not earning but there is no reason that you, or anyone in this house has to support me just because of that. If I am staying in a hotel, I have to pay them too, right? They won’t give me a free room just because I am not working. It is the same. Electricity, water, food… everything needs money. And I have savings, so don’t worry about me,” Xi Men pushes her hand that is holding the stack of money.
Xiao You took a deep breath. She didn’t want to take it, but looking at him… “So… it will make you feel better if I take it…?”
Xi Men took a while before he nodded.
She forced a smile on her face. “Alright then, I’ll take it,”
Xi Men smiled faintly at her. “Thank you. Let me know if this is not enough,”
“I won’t ask money from you, Xi Men,” she said, beginning to count the money in her hand.
“There’s CAD$5000 here. I hope it is good enough for two weeks,”
She stopped. “That’s good enough for a long time, Xi Men. Maybe two to three months,”
“Everyone? Who is everyone?”
“Your parents, you, Emily, and me,” Xi Men clarified.
“I thought you said it is for your stay?”
“I am not that calculative. I will try to support everyone in this house,”
“Xi Men, did you just prank me or something? You said it is for your stay,”
“Xiao You,” Xi Men said. “I am supposed to support everyone in this house,”
“I don’t need you to,” she basically stuffs the money into his hand again and she rose to her feet.
“Just because I am not working?” he asked, immediately gripping her wrist, stopping her from walking off.
“No, not that,” she said.
She looked at him, “Because you are not anyone to us,”
Upon hearing that, he slowly releases his hand from gripping on her wrist.
She stared at him, witnessing his facial expression changed tremendously.
“Yes, that is why I am a guest, right,” he said, turning his head away to look out of the window and leaned his back against the headboard.
She doesn’t understand why he said that but she immediately said, “I don’t mean like that…” she sits down next to him again.
Xi Men bites his lips hard while his eyes are fixed to looking out of the window.
His focus remained staring outside.
Xiao You has never seen Xi Men like this.
He had always been good with hiding problems within himself that no one can actually read it from his face.
Besides this time. It is so evident on his face.
This is the most depressed Xi Men she had seen.
Perhaps she had indeed said something she shouldn’t…
“I am sorry,” she said.
He didn’t respond, though she can see he swallowed the lump in his throat numerous times. Most likely because he is troubled, or feeling very sad…
What is she supposed to do now?
“I didn’t mean like that. I mean, for now… you are not anyone to us… yet,”
Xi Men took a deep breath. He looked down suddenly, and then he lifted his head up.
“It’s been days,” he suddenly said. “Things have dwelled in me,”
Xiao You looked at him.
“It’s been blurry for days, but slowly it became real to me. It is indeed real. But because everything changed in one minute… it takes a while to set in,” he said.
Xiao You didn’t say anything. She wonders what he wants to say… or rather, what he meant.
Obviously, she doesn’t understand.
“I have come to realization that my dad has disowned me; that I am no longer a CEO; that I am no longer rich; and that I am no longer successful. I am just nobody,”
Her eyes widened. He is ready to talk about it now?
“I am nobody now,” he repeats.
She opened her mouth, only to close it again, totally have no idea what to say.
He took a really deep breath as he raised his head by slight. “Everything used to be just words to me. But now… everything is real. Not just words to listen, but situations to feel and see and experience,” he said, looking far out of the window.
She bites her lips as she listened to him.
“Everything I have built is gone. The time that I have spent is wasted,” he added.
She lowered her head.
“I used to wake up every morning thinking about going to work. Thinking about how to nail projects. Thinking about so many things about work… until I skipped meals and neglected my health… got me hospitalized for stomach ulcer,”
“I know,” Xiao You said.
He briefly smiled as his focus remains to the outside of the window. “I am not surprised. San Chai must have told you,”
“Yeah…” Xiao You nodded. “Did the surgery left behind a scar?”
Xi Men smiled slightly as his right hand traveled to the surgery area. “Yes, but not very noticeable,”
“All for Xi Men Corporation,” his smile faded. “Suffered for nothing,”
Xiao You bites her lips again.
“Hospitalized for nothing. Hunger for nothing. Stress for nothing,” there’s a slight change in his tone.
She could only look at him. She is not at the right position to say anything at all.
“I hate my dad,”
Her eyes widened by slight upon hearing that.
“I hate… my dad…” he gritted his teeth all of a sudden.
She just looked at him, knowing he has more to say.
Tears welled up in Xi Men’s eyes. “Since I was young until I start working, my dad has never been there for me. He is never home. He is always with his mistress. And I thought he was a playboy… and I always blame him that I became a playboy. And I found out he had to find a woman outside of the house because it was my mom who rejected him in the first place,” he said, swallowing the lump in his throat.
She didn’t dare to say anything.
“Because of my stomach ulcer, I found out what happened to my family. I found out he loves my mom but his love is unrequited. I found out it wasn’t his fault… that is why I can accept him in my life after years of estrangement…”
She sits there listening to him.
“After the difficult and tough journey and finally ‘obtaining a father again’; now, for one thing like this… he chooses to disown me,” a small laugh of disbelief escaped his mouth.
She bites her lips.
“I work so damn hard for everything because I know my identity. I know my responsibility. I am Xi Men. I knew I have to overtake the company. I surrendered that part of my life to him because I know who I am since I was born. I gave him my time. I gave him my health. I gave him everything. But why is it that I gave everything up and still I can’t even pick my own significant other?”
Sadness slowly grew in her heart.
“I gave up everything in my life for this influential name… and he wants me to give up ALL the things that I have earned from this name if I want to be with you. He said he will disown me if I walked out from that door. No more Xi Men Corporation. No more every single damn thing that I have earned and worked for,” tears rolled down his cheeks.
Xiao You extends her hand and rubbed Xi Men’s arm, trying to console him.
“I only want to be with the woman I love, why can’t he let me have it?” he asked. “Why is it that when I said I want to be with someone I love, he assumed I will end up like him? Why can’t he accept that everyone’s life is different? I didn’t want to end up like him, and I will never end up like him,”
Xiao You bites her upper lip now.
“I want my happiness, so I give everything up,” Xi Men said, more tears fell. “And then things became so different. No job. No money. Nobody,”
Her heart, mind and soul wrenched at the thought of it.
“I am still not used to waking up in the morning and find myself having no company to go to and nothing to do. I am still not used to reminding myself I need to learn how to use money carefully because I am no longer the talented rich businessman where money will pour in endlessly,”
She looked at the CAD$5000 in his hand.
“But I always tell myself it is okay. I tell myself that I will be alright. I tell myself that money isn’t everything. Happiness and family are the most important things to me…” he said, taking a deep breath. “And things are tougher than it is,”
“Why do you say that…?”
“I came over with just a hope to be with my family that I have never been part of. I came to a really foreign place hoping for a miracle. I came to a family that my own daughter no longer favors me as she would to me as an uncle. And I came to the woman that I love but she couldn’t accept me because of the daughter,” he finds himself saying. “And I came to a place where no jobs fit me because of my citizenship or even my overqualified capability,”
She bites her lips as her tears fell and she quickly wiped it.
“And I bunk in a house that doesn’t belong to me and being treated as a guest here when I truly wanted to feel being part of this family and house,”
“Everything is so tough to me. I tried everything. I tried to make myself happy. I tried to win my only daughter and that itself is so tough. She didn’t even want to talk with me. She probably loathes the sight of me,” he said as he sniffed hard.
“I…” she wanted to defend for Emily, but she realized she had nothing to say to defend for Emily.
“When I was working, I stressed for project. Now that I am not working, I stressed for family,” he wiped his tears. “I stressed shit every single damn day that I don’t even feel rested when I wake up from sleep. I woke up knowing I have nothing to do and nowhere to go; and I know I need to win that one person’s heart but she walked away from me, didn’t even give me a chance. If she doesn’t give me a chance, there is no way I can do anything about it. Absolutely nothing! And I didn’t want to just be a guest here. I am trying to find my footing here in this place but I don’t feel belong at all,”
“I’ve tried everything, Xiao You… I tried…” he turned to look at her.
“Xi Men, I know…” a tear rolled down her face as she rubbed his arm. “I really understand…”
He sniffed as he looked at her. “I tried…”
“Xi Men, I feel bad for whatever that had happened to you. Really, really bad. A part of me is sad when I know you got stripped off from what you are because of me. I didn’t want that to happen to you. I even thought that whatever had happened to you is my fault. But I realized… you have a choice. What I know is that your choice is me,”
“It wasn’t your fault. And I have never regretted making this decision, but it is just so tough…”
She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Xi Men, if you want to change your decision, I will support you,”
Despite the sadness, he frowned as he looked at her, “Change what decision?”
“I mean… if you want to go back to your father…”
“Why would I want to go back to him?” Xi Men questioned.
“I…” she stuttered.
“You know I can only pick between you and him. So why would I pick him? And if I pick him, it means I am leaving you here. Why would I do that?”
“Xi Men, I know you are really sad about what is going on with your life right now. I just… I didn’t want you to be sad…”
He wasn’t impressed. “Do you think I will be happy to leave you here?”
“I know you are not…” she softly said. “But… if that is the only way to make you happy… I will support you,” she said sadly, against her desire. “After all… I have been here on my own for 9 years… and… and you are Xi Men heir…”
Xi Men somehow glared at her, “Xiao You, are you asking me to leave? Are you seriously asking me to leave? I thought we’ve talked about this before. Are you changing your mind now?”
Suddenly realizing how her words had been interpreted inaccurately by Xi Men, she immediately looked at him, horrified. She grabbed his arm. “No, no! That is not what I meant!”
“Then? What is this asking me to reconsider the decision?” he looked at her.
“I mean… you… you have been used to what you have been doing… a CEO, wealth, fame… And this drastic change… is making you utterly sad… I… I didn’t want you to be sad,”
“Do I look like I’ll be happy again to go back to my father and be the renowned Xi Men again?”
“I… I don’t know…” she lowered her head.
He swallowed the lump in his throat. “I think it is very silly of you to give me that suggestion,”
“I… I just want you to be happy… and… since I’ve been on my own here with Emily… I will be good. Really. I will be good here,”
“I’ve told you before, Xiao You. I am not going anywhere without you. I will never ever leave you here on your own again. And yes, I am struggling now. I admit; I am struggling with everything around me now. And I am trying to make things better. And I am trying to take my first step and make myself comfortable here. Despite all these struggles, I will never change my mind about picking you over everything else,” Xi Men said. “Never,”
She smiled faintly while she struggled to hold her tears from falling.
“I would rather suffer for the rest of my life than to leave you here. 9 years is enough for you,” he said.
“Xi Men…” she lowered her head and then lifted it again and a tear fell, “If Emily can’t accept you, it means you will never be a part of this family and you told me before that you will stay around if that really happens… but according to what you have just said… you sounded… you may not be able to take it if she can’t accept you,”
“I didn’t want to stay around, Xiao You. I want to be in this family,” he said. “Sadly… she… she didn’t want me to…”
Xiao You pressed her lips together and then rubbed his arm.
“I am so determine to be with you. To be with Emily… I want it so bad…”
She understands his difficulty. “It is okay, Xi Men,” Xiao You said, forcing a smile on her face.
He briefly turned to look at her.
“It takes time,” she gripped his arm, “And you will find your footing here. You will. Just give yourself time and chance,”
“Words have always been so easy…” he murmured, looking away.
“It is just a week, Xi Men. Just a week. Giving up so soon?” she asked.
“Giving up is not an option…” he mumbled.
“Trust me. You will find your footing here. Don’t lose faith and hope in yourself. If I didn’t lose faith in you, why should you?”
He slowly turned to look at her.
“I will support you, and I will help you along the way. Really,” Xiao You rubbed his arm again.
Xiao You nodded. “If I can support you making a decision to go back to your father and leave Emily and I here, I will definitely support you even more if you choose to stay here finding your footing and wanting to be a part of us,”
He briefly smiled.
“I’ll be here with you,” Xiao You smiled. “Let’s do this together,”
“Yes. Of course. Together,” she smiled wider.
He smiled even more, as he tried really hard to hold his tears. He happened to raise his left hand and then immediately realized the stack of cash in his hand.
Upon seeing the money, she said, “The reason I am not accepting your money is because I know the hardship you are going thru. And I know you needed money for yourself. I worked, my dad worked. We can earn for ourselves. So…” she took the money from his hand, and then she calculated.
He wondered what she is doing.
She took a small sum of it, and stacks the rest of the money into his hand. “I’ll take CAD$2000 now to support you; you keep the rest to yourself. Yes, use them wisely,”
“But… I need to take responsibility…”
“Support us only when this difficult phase has passed, and when you have no financial problems,” she smiled at him. “And if I finished this CAD$2000, I will ask from you again,”
“You will not ask from me,”
“I promised you I will, when I finished this,” she said. “Now, will you trust me?”
He looked at her and smiled forcefully. He nodded. “Thank you…” he looked down to the remaining CAD$3000 in his hand.
She looked at him, noticing he is already on the verge to sob.
He tried so hard not to let more tears fell.
“Sometimes… one really needs to have a good cry,” she lowered her head and then gently remove the CAD$3000 from his hand, and puts it on the side table.
He looked at her.
“Cry out, Xi Men…” she rubbed his arm.
He looked at her, and the first tear fell to his cheek already. He bites his lips, and then he reached forward, and pulled Xiao You into his arms.
Xi Men finally breaks down and cried in the tight hug.
It is his first time, in his entire life, to cry hard like this.
It is heart wrenching to hear Xi Men sobbed like this, but all Xiao You could do is just rubbed his back.
Emily, who is leaning against the wall outside Xi Men’s room, lowered her head.
She heard the entire conversation.
She turned and walked off, to the living room.