|Walk With Me Sequel to 步步惊心
Author: Cattamay PM
a sequel to the TV showRated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Ruo Xi & Fourth Prince/Yong Zheng - Chapters: 5 - Words: 11,526 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 08-15-12 - Published: 05-18-12 - id: 8126649
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Zhang Xiao chuckled painfully to herself, "What was I expecting? That this look-a-like person was Si Ye?" She tried to comfort her heart by smiling as she wiped away her tear stained face. This hopeless woman pushed her glasses back over the bridge of her nose, sighed heavily and expected to somehow move on with her original, yet seemingly new life. As though the voices of the past were still haunting her, Zhang Xiao could hear the royal physician's encouragement echo by her ears. "You must not burden your heart with so many matters. The root of your illness is in fact a psychological one. Try to be at peace with your mind and given some time, your body will slowly heal." Zhang Xiao shook her head in dismay. The physician was accurate in his diagnosis. Although I knew the remedy to my problems, I still cannot lift my head high and face them like I should. Oh Ruo Xi, have you not learned your mistakes? Are you about to receive the same outcome given this second chance to live?
The hopeless woman turned away from the display and decided to return home. Unable to cheer up, she walked with her gaze to the ground. To her surprise, as she was about to reach the entrance, she could see someone's shadow moving towards her. Zhang Xiao gasped when she saw the same stranger standing in front of her. She looked at him confusingly. He returned her expression with a clumsy, light shrug and gentle smile. "I knew I had it somewhere," he guestured her a package of tissue paper. With trembling fingers, she reached out for the tissue and dabbed the tears at the corner of her eyes.
"Do we know each other?" He asked her with studying eyes.
"I don't think asking me the same question again would change the answer," Zhang Xiao teased him.
Liking her tone of voice and humor, he felt comfortable to continue conversing with her. "You know what people say. The third's a charm. Besides, I'm quite certain I've met you somewhere. Give me some time and I'm sure I'll remember." She didn't quite understand what he meant by that.
"Let me introduce myself to you. I'm Li Zheng Yuan (利正元). But you can just call me Nick. I'm actually not from around here. "
The Zheng in his name pricked her heart. A little smirk appeared at the corner of her lips. That's right Li Zheng Yuan, you're Si Ye from three hundred years ago. "I'm Zhang Xiao, but you can call me Cecilia. I'm actually from here." She paused momentarily and with curiosity, she asked, "You said you're not actually from around here…?"
When he smiles, she could see his perfect set of white teeth. Unlike Si Ye, this person here appeared to be quite expressive and in a way, much less reserved. Perhaps by living in this 21st century, one can become less reserved. Zhang Xiao amazed herself. I have definitely become much more observant than I used to be.
"Yeah. I'm actually from Canada. I was raised there for the majority of my life. My father owns a business in this city so I travel here often too."
She nodded. "That explains your Chinese accent."
"You mean you don't find that sexy?"
They both laughed at the joke. She had to remind herself that in this world, people talk more openly and words are not as carefully chosen. "I won't pop your bubble if that's the way you like it." Li Zheng Yuan could barely recognize that the person he is talking to was the same solemn, heartbroken person from several minutes ago.
There was a brief moment of silence.
"Um well. I was waiting for my friend. We were going to try out this tea house nearby but I guess I got ditched. The reservation for two is still available." He wondered if he should continue. She looked into his eyes, hinting for him to finish his train of thought. "Well…are you busy with anything now?"
"You have just met me for less than half an hour and already, you're trying to ask me out on a date? Do guys from Canada use "go out for tea" as a pick up line? People from around here usually prefer coffee, lunch…" Zhang Xiao could not help being herself with her witty comments.
"What? You mean girls like you don't find drinking tea attractive? According to American researchers, green tea contains many antioxidants that are good for preventing aging and cancer.."
"Are you implying I'm old? You're not very good at this, are you?" She grinned teasingly.
"You? Old? Nah. If you were in Canada, you would have been mistaken for what…a high school kiddo. How old are you really? 16? Oh wait. Don't say you're really a 73 year old granny…"
Zhang Xiao laughed heartily. She has not laughed since her recovery. "Try 25. Although to be honest, I feel like a 73 year old at heart." She would not know how he would have responded to her if he knew there was half a truth in what she had just said.
"Well my 73 year old granny, would you like to go drink some tea with me? It would be a shame to waste the reservation."
If Zhang Xiao was the same Zhang Xiao she was before the accident, she would have refused him and walked off to see if he would chase after her. And if she was Ruo Xi, she would have refused him with a courteous excuse. After all, they have just met.
"C'mon, it'll be fun! Ok I lied. I don't know anything about drinking tea other than to well…drink it like water. My friend was supposed to teach me the art of drinking tea."
"Who's this friend of yours, your grampa?"
He laughed. "Yeah, my 28 year old grampa friend. He's a little queer with his ancient taste in things but hey, if I get a chance, I would love to introduce him to you. He's a pretty interesting guy."
"So where is this tea house…?"
"You said you're from around here, I was hoping you would know." Cecilia thought quietly for a moment. She remembered going to karaoke bars with her friends and even to clubs now and then – but to a tea house? That's something only….Ruo Xi would do.
"Well most guys who ask me out, choose fancy restaurants and all…"
"Well I'm not like most guys." He pulled out a hand drawn map from his pocket. According to my friend's directions, it should be just around the corner here. We can probably walk there in less than five minutes. Or would you rather I call us a limousine, Miss Fancy?"
"That might not be a bad idea. Miss Fancy is in a good mood today so walking doesn't sound like a bad idea either." Zhang Xiao could not process what was happening. She was drawn to Nick's carefree character and is still in love with his resembling physique. Could this be happening? What exactly is happening? She did not know what to make of the occurrence and decided to go with the flow. Besides, she had gone through so much lately that she could care less about life's surprises now.
The timid Tea House was just a three minute walk from the museum. Zhang Xiao wondered why she had never seen it before. On the outside, it looked like an entrance to a Zen garden and on the inside, it had a monastery feel of peace to it. There were only about half a dozen tables and they all required reservations. Each seating had a low sitting arrangement. Everyone had to take off their shoes and sit on the floor. The interior was beautifully decorated with scented plants and flowers such as with jasmine, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, roses, and many more.
"Wow." Zhang Xiao said under her breath. "How did you know of a place like this?"
Nick replied, "I don't. My friend apparently goes here quite frequently. The queer one that I told you about earlier."
"So if this is your friend's hobby, then what convinced you to join him?"
"I like new things and I trust his artistic judgments. I was joking earlier when I said I didn't know anything about tea. I don't know it to the same extent as he does but I do have a great appreciation for its finesse qualities. The main reason why I couldn't wait to come here is for the Tea House's famous seasonal tea, the Magnolia tea. They only serve freshly picked tea here according to the plants' season. I missed the event several years in a row and said to myself, I must not miss it again this year."
"…Did you just say Magnolia tea?"
"Yeah it's an uncommonly known one isn't it? There is a magnolia tree in the garden of where I live. I grew up addictive to its yearly aroma and did some research about it. Turns out you can brew tea with it. Have you ever tried it?"
"…yeah I have. It has a very profound flavor to it. I know someone who loves Magnolia tea..."
"Oh? Well what kind of tea do you like?"
"Nothing fancy or unique. I'm drawn to the Jasmine scent. When I was young, I couldn't stand the smell of Jasmine flowers. I don't know why, but they had this stinky smell to me. But overtime, that negative quality went away and I felt more drawn it's aroma. The more I smell it, the more I want to smell it again and soon, I realized how much I love Jasmine."
"Sounds like people's love hate relationship with the Durian fruit."
"Yeah, something like that."
The waiter came, asked Nick and Cecilia to take off their shoes. In exchange, they were given white cotton socks to wear with a set of wooden slippers. They followed the elderly waiter into the back of the garden where they both lost their breath to a huge magnolia tree with hundreds of white flowers in full bloom. Its aroma was so strong, Zhang Xiao was briefly dizzy with memories of brewing Magnolia tea for Si Ye.
"This place is amazing, Nick. Thank you for inviting me here. It's such an honor to be a part of such a special event."
"It's an honor for me to share it with someone with similar likings." He winked. Goosebumps raised on her skin.
His cell phone vibrated. "Sorry. Just give me a moment. I think I have a pretty good idea of who is calling me."
It was Nick's friend who placed the reservation. He apologized for running late as one of his clients had an urgent request to have a project completed. He said he could still make it but he might not be there until another half an hour or so. Nick talked to the manager and he said he could make an exception to expand the two-seat arrangement into a three-seat one. A third chair was added to the table for his friend's arrival.
Nick and Cecilia sat opposite of each other under the magnolia tree. Every now and then, a petal cascaded towards the ground, snowing the floor with a bed of magnolia flowers and petals. Cecilia almost became teary again just by looking at remnants of the past. She did not know what to focus on. Should she be emotionally overwhelmed by the romantic scenery, be distracted by her past, or try to make sense of how she should feel or think towards Nick? Unable to make up her mind, she focused her gaze towards a magnolia flower resting its soft petals onto the cold and uneven texture of the ground.
Nick could not help but notice Cecilia's deep, slow and uneven breathing as she fixated her eyes towards a nearby magnolia flower. He could not help but be curious about what was on her mind. She seemed to be in deep thoughts about something. He wondered what she had gone through to make her the way she is. Sometimes she talked like a regular 25 year old person and sometimes she would lose herself in deep thoughts the same way his grandmother would. Nick remembers spying on his grandmother when he was younger. She oftentimes looked out the window with a lost look in her eyes. "Gramma, what are you thinking about?" He would ask. And his grandmother would reply in a low-toned voice, "About your grandfather. I miss him very much." He wondered if Cecilia was experiencing what his grandmother was experiencing. At least no girls look like that when they think about Gucci hand bags, examination marks, or work-related things.
Without hesitant, he picked up the flower she was looking at and placed it into her palms, which were resting on her lap. She looked at him with questioning eyes.
"A pretty flower like that should not be against a rough texture as this but be in the palms of those who cherish it. If only this were an ornament ..."
Zhang Xiao clutched tightly onto her skirt. Her heart was beating so loud she could feel them throbbing against her ear drums. Like a magnolia hair pin…?
Nick wanted to say something more but he did not know what to say. He wondered if letting the silence take over was a good or bad idea.
Cecilia began talking slowly, "I'm a person with many layers. Sometimes, I drown myself in one of those layers."
"Hmm. You talk even more abstractly than my literature professor."
She smiled and looked at him with the same poise and elegance of a skillful dancer. "It's complicated." She repositioned herself slightly and changed the subject, "But enough about my strange behavior. Tell me more about yourself. You said you are from Canada. Do you have any siblings? How long are you staying here for?"
"Yeah I was born in Canada but this place is also my home as I visit it often. I feel like I live in two different worlds each time I travel from one place to another. That's the beauty of it. Have you ever had that feeling…when you can be two almost different people depending on the setting? Sometimes I feel like that. I'm a certain way here and a certain way there. I have a younger brother and two younger sisters. My plane ticket expires in two months."
"I know that feeling very well." She felt like he had just described what she is going through.
"Oh? Do you travel a lot?"
"Not really. I used to live in another special place for quite some time. I'm still getting used to things here."
"I thought you live here…?"
"I was born here. I've just…travelled to another place recently. I'll tell you more about it another time." She did not want to sound like a psychopath by revealing too much information to him.
Nick was not about to let her comment off the leash that easily and was eager to inquire a bit more but was unfortunately interrupted by a holler, "Nick!"
Cecilia turned towards the voice and time stopped a second time on the very same day.