Wake Me Up
"Hello?" He balked in surprise at hearing a female voice. He pulled the dimensional cell phone away from his ear, staring at the caller ID. The caller ID clearly stated that it was the phone he had given to Guan Yu before he left the Silver Dimension, so why was it a woman's voice who had responded to him when he picked up the call?
"Is that Xiu?" the caller asked hesitantly. "It's Diao Chan."
He sat up straight in his chair, eyes widening. "Diao Chan? You're alive? W-Why – how is it possible? I mean–"
He was interrupted by Diao Chan's giggling. He calmed down, smiling involuntarily at her laughter. It has been too long since he last heard her voice.
"Calm down and let me explain." She laughed. "Yes, I managed to survive the fall. I was rescued by a coastline village and was recuperating there until I could walk."
"What do you mean?" he frowned instantly. "What's wrong with your leg?"
There was a short silence that elevated his fear and worry. When Diao Chan finally spoke again, she sounded weary, but accepting. "During the fall... I broke my leg against the rocks. My leg recovered, but... I have a limp now."
"I'm sorry." He whispered, his voice hoarse. "I mean... it's not fair for you."
It wasn't fair, he thought to himself. Someone as kind and forgiving like Diao Chan doesn't deserved this. For everything she had gone through, she deserved to be wholesome and happy.
As if she could hear his thoughts, she hurriedly said, "I'm fine. Really. I'm alive, and I've found Ah Chang. Despite the limp... I'm very happy. You don't have to worry about me. I don't want to hear the sadness in your voice, Liu Bei – erm, I mean, Xiu."
"Oh," he said, feeling a lump in his throat. "You know."
"Yes, I heard from Ah Chang." Diao Chan answered. "It doesn't matter, you know. You're still the friend that I've went through everything with. You're still the big brother of Ah Chang and Fei. You're still my friend. I don't care if you're not the real Liu Bei. It doesn't matter to me."
He swallowed with slight difficulty. For some reason, his eyes felt very itchy all of a sudden.
"Thank you." He said softly. For all the lies he had spun and told everyone, all his friends from the Silver Dimension were not angry with him. He just couldn't understand why they could accept him without feeling betrayed and angry. He doesn't deserve them.
"Y-You are looking for Ah Xiang, right?" he nearly stammered, suddenly remembering his eccentric and mischievous lover. "I'm sorry, but she's in school right now. But when she comes back, I'll tell her to call you back immediately–"
"It's alright. I want to talk to her, but I think we should talk first." Diao Chan said seriously.
He frowned nervously. "Talk? O-Of course, sure."
"Hu Yan Jue Lou Xiu. Ah Chang told me that's your real name. Somehow, it fits you better than Liu Bei does." She said. He could hear the smile in her voice. "I've always knew that there was something odd about you. You were different from the Liu Bei I've heard. I thought it strange at first, but I tried to ignore it as you gradually became my friend. Maybe... maybe if I had trusted my instincts, maybe you would have one more friend to carry your burden."
"Diao Chan..." he whispered, voice trailing off.
"I can't claim to understand what you've gone through to cover up your identity, Xiu, but I know that you must have suffered a lot. If it was me who was left in a foreign dimension, alone all by myself, and has to pretend to be someone I'm not... I don't think I can do it. I don't think I'm strong enough to keep my identity a secret." Diao Chan continued breathlessly. "I'm so proud of you, Xiu. I can't explain how much I admired you right now. Just how did you do that?"
"Proud of me?" he said in disbelief. "I lied to all of you. How can you tell me that you're proud of me, Diao Chan?"
"Xiu, is our friendship just a lie? Is the relationship with everyone fake?" she asked.
"Of course not!" he exclaimed, shocked and hurt that she could even think that way.
Diao Chan chuckled softly. "Then why are you so surprised that we aren't angry? The things you have done for all of us, the things you have to give up, risking your identity and life to protect us... Xiu, all of us should be clambering to repay you with the rest of our lives."
"I don't want you guys to repay me." He said. "You would have done the same for me."
"Xiu... thank you." Diao Chan said quietly. "For everything you've done. I am glad... that you got your happy ending with Ah Xiang. You deserve it."
"You too." He replied sincerely.
He glanced at the clock. Ah Xiang should be about done with school soon, he thought.
"Xiu, are you and Ah Xiang able to visit us?" Diao Chan asked tentatively.
"Once the Dimensions stabilized, we should be able to visit all of you." He smiled.
He heard Diao Chan sighed in relief. "Oh, good. I thought that I wouldn't be able to see both of you again."
There was a pause before she spoke again. "I have to go, Xiu. I'm meeting Xiao Qiao for coffee. Remember to call often, alright?"
"Of course. Goodbye." He grinned. Diao Chan said her farewell before hanging up the phone. He was left listening to the monotonous dial tone. He shook his head, smiling, and snapped the dimensional cell phone closed.
The surprising conversation he had with Diao Chan had alleviated any guilt left from lying to everyone. He felt a lot better now. It was time to pick up the newly named Ye He Na La Yu Xiang, and tell her the good news. He placed the dimensional cell phone on the coffee table and left the apartment.