So, you'll be mine, forever and almost always. And I'll be fine, just love me when you can. The song was one of those songs I would have NEVER heard if I never obtain a copy of Kate Voegele album. It came up by chance when on my iTunes (I have no idea what I did really, iTunes is like a minefield for me) and I thought about Xi Men and Xiao You immediately. It really didn't help when my friend was going all about reality on me. Kill me if you must, but I just couldn't help but write this one. One-shot!
"I'm not good for you," Xi Men stated coldly as he stared at Xiao You. It had been three years since he had last seen her and even now she could easily cause his heart to misbehave. No, he was not right for her, he knew that and most importantly, she knew that better than anyone. There was no epic love story for him, nothing like Dao Ming Si and Shan Chai. Yet, why was it that it was so hard for him to tell his own heart otherwise? She had always been perfect in his eyes, yet he could not take another step towards her. Not if he wanted to see her living a happy life, being with him would not grant her that. He was certain of that, absolutely certain. She had surprised him when she reappeared before him, even more with her suggestion.
'Let's date, it doesn't have to be exclusive,' She had said that to him. He was startled more than he was flattered. On any given day and if it was any other girl, he would have pulled his cool demeanor up front and slip his hand over the girl's shoulder and took up that offer. No, he couldn't, she was not just any other girl, and she was Xiao You. He wanted to tell himself that he feared what hell Shan Chai would rain upon him but he knew better. She meant too much to him, so much that he could not bring himself to offer her anything temporary. Still, anything permanent, a lifetime, he couldn't find himself promising her that either. "I know, I'm here to tell you I'll take what I can get," Xiao You's voice rang inside his head. Her tone showed her certainty; the very words uttered told him that she had thought it through. He was terrified, he feared of history repeating.
"No, it would not end well for either of us," Xi Men tried to reason. Xiao You was standing so close to him that if he would just reach out, he could already pull her into his arms. It was a tempting idea, too tempting that he had to mentally grind his feet into the ground. He cannot afford to hurt the girl before him. The years had been kind to her, she had grown prettier, lovelier and most importantly, far more confident in her own skin. "I'm aware," Xiao You stated simply, she sounded almost amused at Xi Men's refusal to take up her offer. Part of him wondered whether she was just playing a game with him, teasing him the way only she knew how. No, she was far too kind to do such a thing. His gaze fixed upon her face, the soft look in her eyes tug on his heart.
"You'll get hurt," He stated simply but there were barely any sign of conviction in his voice. He was fighting a loosing battle and he knew that she was what he wanted. "I can take a punch," Xiao You stated calmly. She took a small step, closing the gap between her and Xi Men until she was standing barely an inch away from him. He was so close but still, he felt too far away for her reach. "I'm not that young naive girl anymore, Xi Men," She added, titling her head slightly and challenging him to look directly into her eyes. It looked exactly as she had remembered them. It was actually warm and kind, a contradiction of the life leads by Xi Men. It showed who he really was and they both knew she could see through him like an open book. "It'll be a disaster," Xi Men tried to argue still, fighting with Xiao You and denying her words were easy, it was battling with himself that was wearing him out.
"So?" Xiao You said indifferently. Their faces were only a breath away from each other. It would only take either of them a small distance to close before their lips would meet, finally. "I won't change," Xi Men continued, a losing battle, he knew that. "I know," Xiao You replied with a small smile, a small smile that was too inviting for Xi Men. A split second – that was what it all took for Xi Men to throw out all his caution out the window and he closed the gap between him and Xiao You, feeling her soft lips meeting him, finally. This will end badly Xiao You, please don't hate me when it does. Xi Men thought as he admitted his defeat. It was unavoidable.
Xiao You woke up with a start. It had been five months since she had been back to Taiwan and it had been that long as well since she had started going out with Xi Men. True to his words, he didn't change, but it wasn't as if Xiao You knew any better since Xi Men had always been good at putting up a show. It didn't surprise her, not even one bit. No one understood what was going on, not even Mei Zhou who happened to be Xi Men's partner-in-crime. He was flabbergasted when he heard of the arrangement between Xi Men and Xiao You to the point where he couldn't even come up with any witty remark. Lei had remained passive while Ah Si was pretty much wide-eye and surprised and made no attempt to hide his confusion. Shan Chai had given Xiao You and earful, but, it didn't matter. Even if it was for a little while, she wanted to be able to go out with someone she truly loved.
Out of habit, she reached for her cellphone that was placed on top of the dresser near her bed. There was a new message, a common one that Xi Men would send her every morning. If anything, she thought that it was sort-of sweet. Good morning, lunch today? She read the simple text silently. Their dates had been simple and nothing special. It was always in public places and Xi Men had pretty much kept his wandering hands to himself. He was being a gentleman, for a playboy, that was a great achievement. Sighing, Xiao You replied to the message, it was short; sure, same place? It was as if she was arranging to meet with one of her old college buddies, but, she told herself; it was better than nothing.
Shan Chai was giving her another one of those look. It was easy for her, the current Mrs Dao Ming, a role that Shan Chai had adjusted to quite easily. After all, there was no other girl in the world that could very well tame Dao Ming Si except Shan Chai. "Save the lecture," Xiao You stated boringly. The last thing she wanted to do was to spend another one of her short break listening to Shan Chai nagging her. "Fine, have it your way," Shan Chai groaned in defeat. No one seemed to get it; Xiao You was not going to explain it either. She just needed to be next to him, she had seen Xi Men both at his best and his worse. She knew him better than anyone thought she did. If what she had with Xi Men now was all she ever going to get, she would take it, it was enough.
"Xi Men..." A girlish voice throttled Xi Men back to reality. His eyes met Lei who had been sitting casually at the other end of the rounded couch. The music was blasting in the background and drinks were scattered on the table. Lei's eyebrow arched lazily as he threw his gaze away from the new companion who had decided it was fun to join the party. The purr in the woman's voice was enough to cause Lei to smirk, but he had always been decent enough to keep his thoughts and expression to himself. Xi Men on the other hand recovered fast, his mind had wandered off for a bit after a sort-of discussion he had with Lei.
"Sandy," He stated pulling his infamous smile that was enough to melt any girl's heart. Not long ago, Mei Zhou would be the one sitting in Lei's place but unlike Xi Men, Mei Zhou was braver to admit his own feeling and had found his own happiness by doing so. At the end, it was only him and Lei left, though, Lei was more like a shadow than actual partner-in-crime that Mei Zhou was. "I haven't seen you around much lately," The woman named Sandy whined, draping her hands around Xi Men's shoulder. At the corner of his eyes, Xi Men noticed Lei was shifting boringly in his seat. "I've been busy," Xi Men replied, his dashing smile never left his face. Sandy could only nod and leaned closer until her lips were only inches away from Xi Men's ear. "How about we get out of here?" She whispered slowly, audible only to Xi Men as her hands traveled.
Xi Men managed a smile. On any other day, he would have taken the offer instantly, on any other day he definitely would have. "Unfortunately, I have a few things to discuss with my friend here, another time, maybe," He refused kindly as he unlatched Sandy's hand slowly. Pouting the woman was on her feet at once. "Alright," She stated in the sweetest voice. "Next time then," She added seductively before walking away. Xi Men could only shook his head as he focused his attention back to Lei who had his eyes fixed on Xi Men. "What?" Xi Men asked offensively. "Nothing," Lei replied knowingly before claiming a half empty glass filled with beer on the table.
Xiao You shook her head and smile as she walked towards Xi Men who was standing in the middle of the lobby of her office. "Okay, what did you do?" She asked playfully when she found herself standing only a step away from Xi Men. "Happy anniversary," Xi Men replied. Anniversary? Xiao You's smile fade, replace with a shocked expression. Wait... Her mind raced as she tried to remember the date. "You remembered," She said, part of her was touched while another was holding on tight to the reality of what she had with Xi Men. "Should I go back out and pretend that I've forgotten?" Xi Men asked cheekily inviting a set of laughter from Xiao You. "No," She replied softly. "Thank you, for remembering," She added with a smile, finding herself amused at the idea of an anniversary seeing that despite the fact that they are seeing each other, they both had made it perfectly clear it was not exclusive. "Dinner tonight?" Xi Men asked carefully. "Sure, I'll see you tonight," Xiao You replied sweetly, it wouldn't hurt; she knew what she signed up for.
A year, that was how long the time had passed since Xiao You's proposition. None of their friends even have the energy to lecture either of the two. Shan Chai had resigned to the fact that Xiao You was probably just as stubborn as she was. Dao Ming Si had given up trying to show that being with someone isn't necessarily bad and Mei Zhou had basically shrugged and opted to go with the 'wait and see' approach. "So, it's your anniversary?" Lei asked simply as he threw the dart, hitting the bull's eye easily. "Yeah," Xi Men replied as he flipped through the documents scattered on the table, not bothering to look up. Lei on the other hand stopped in his track and his eyes darted to his friend. An amused smile was playing on his lips as he looked at Xi Men. How transparent. He thought before shaking his head and resuming his game. They both fell into their comfortable silence as Xi Men continued to focus on his work and Lei on his game.
"Maybe we should do something," Mei Zhou stated as he sat casually in the lounge belonging to the F4, Xi Men on the other hand had been conveniently absent. Dao Ming Si and Shan Chai were to his left while Hua Ze Lei was sitting comfortably to his right, flipping through a magazine. Ah Si and Shan Chai exchanged a look, something that looked a lot like they were having a mental fight. "Leave them be," Lei replied lazily, not looking up from the pages before him. "Leave them be?" Mei Zhou asked, surprised to hear Lei's suggestion. "Yeah," Lei replied indifferently. "I think we've done that and..." Shan Chai rambled but she wasn't allowed to finish as Lei looked up from his reading material, stopping her dead. "How many people out there that you know off ever celebrate an anniversary when they aren't going out exclusively?" Lei pointed out. The three exchanged a quick look, Mei Zhou managed a chuckle. Lei were right and they wonder if Xi Men was even aware of what he was doing.
"This is something," Xiao You commented the moment the host left them to contemplate on their choice of food from the menu. "What?" Xi Men asked casually, not taking his eyes off of the selection. A soft music was playing in the background providing the right kind of atmosphere. "This is the fourth night out of this week that you've spent with me," Xiao You pointed out, traces of amusement was obvious in her tone, enough to make Xi Men's gaze traveled to her face. "Is it?" He asked casually, flipping through a page without looking. "Didn't realize that," He added, trying to sound indifferent. "Hmm..." Xiao You nodded slowly before turning her attention to the menu. "Is it bad?" Xi Men asked, putting the menu aside.
Xiao You's gaze traveled back to Xi Men's face. A small smile formed on her lips as she studied the face of the man before her. He was still holding her heart in a tight grip and he should know that what he was doing would cause her to hope. "You can say that," She replied softly with a bitter smile. Xi Men could feel his heart dropped but he managed to smile back. "Why is that?" He asked carefully. God only knows how Xiao You was driving him crazy if he could not see her. One year, though he had told her that he would not change he actually had. One year, it had been one year since he had left his womanizing days behind. There had only been her even when he hadn't said it in so many words or showed it. "I might want to hold on to you, I might want more than 'almost always'," Xiao You replied followed by a small sigh.
I might want to hold on to you, I might want more than 'almost always'. The words echoed through Xi Men's head. Xiao You had changed the topic easily and dinner had gone on without a hitch. Almost always. He could hear the pain in her voice even when she tried to mask it with a small laugh. Almost always. She was settling for him. He was hurting her, the last person he wanted to hurt, he was hurting her. "Xi Men?" Lei's voice woke him up from his daydream. "What's almost always?" Lei asked simply as he leaned back into his chair. Three sets of eyes were trained upon him. Dao Ming Si with a confused look, Me Zhou and his curious stare and Lei with his unreadable gaze. "Nothing," Surprised, it took Xi Men a while to respond to Lei's question. Nothing. What a cute answer, he knew that there was no way any of his friends were ever going to believe him.
"Don't you think you've wasted enough time?" Mei Zhou pointed out after a while. The long uncomfortable silence was not his style and it didn't take a scientist to see that Xi Men was fighting a losing battle. "On what?" Xi Men asked in turn, deciding it was best to act as if he had no idea of what any of his friends were talking about. He was deflecting, running away from the issue at hand as fast as he could. "She," Lei began, cutting through what Mei Zhou was going to say. "Won't wait forever," He added knowingly. Shrugging, Xi Men allowed the words to hang over his head. A year ago he had promised nothing to Xiao You while she promised him everything. A year ago, he wasn't sure, now he was even more confused.
"Xiao You," Xi Men called softly, encircling his arms around her waist while resting his head onto her shoulder. It was safe; it was comfortable yet in the same time it felt that Xiao You had set him on fire, the kind of fire he could not extinguish even if he tried his hardest. "Hmm..." Xiao You replied, leaning slightly into Xi Men as she stirred the soup that was on the stove. It was one of those days when she was far more comfortable to stay in and cook finding Xi Men joining her as he laze around. It was easy and simple yet it was complicated at once, neither could really put a label on what was happening between the two of them. She wanted more but she can't bring herself to say it because she knew who he was and he wanted more but he wasn't sure if what he had was enough to offer for her.
Still, Xi Men knew that there was no where on earth he would rather be. "Marry me," Xi Men whispered. He had thought about it, her had weight out all of his options. It was crazy but he cannot lose her more importantly, he wanted to give her everything. He wanted to make all her dreams come true, he wanted to make her happy. That much he knew and that much he understood. Surprised, Xiao You dropped the ladle she was holding, spilling a bit of soup causing her to jump backwards and crashed into Xi Men. "Ouff!" Xi Men groaned as he fumbled backwards, holding his stomach. It was not the kind of reaction he had expected and for a small person, Xiao You could really pack a punch. "I'm sorry!" Xiao You yelped and turned to see Xi Men's face contorted with pain.
Her mind was racing there was no doubt about it but her instinct took over as she quickly reached out to Xi Men to see if she was seriously injured. "Are you alright?" She asked exasperatedly as she watched Xi Men straighten his body up, rubbing his stomach slowly. "Yes, I'm fine," He replied, chuckling slightly. "Are you sure?" Xiao You asked again, worried lines were apparent on her face and Xi Men found himself falling; wait, he had been, for a while now. "Maybe we should to go to the doctor?" Xiao You added, still frantic. She was genuinely concerned about him and that alone was enough to make Xi Men wanted to just pull her into his arms and kiss her worries away, so he did. In that moment in time, he could feel his world stop and spun around a million mile faster. Xiao You was making him whole.
"Xi Men?" Xiao You called, her breathing was ragged from the soul shattering kiss that Xi Men had just pulled her into. She could hear how her heart was beating rapidly, threatening to break her ribcage. "Hold on to me," Xi Men stated, he too was breathing heavily, trying to pull himself together. "Hold on to me, I can't promise you forever but I can give you always for now, for this lifetime," He added, caressing Xiao You's face slowly. The look on Xiao You's face was nothing short of priceless. Her eyes widened as she was caught by surprise. "You don't –" She began, trying to brush off the topic, convinced that Xi Men was just proposing such idea for her sake. Part of her was happy, while the other was conflicted. She wanted to say yes, she wanted to jump at the proposition but, one look from Xi Men silenced her.
"I love you," Xi Men muttered, holding Xiao You's face in his had, forcing her to look directly at him. "I love you," He repeated, relieved to finally say it aloud and watched her eyes widened even more in surprise. "Hold on to me, marry me," He added, the tone of his voice was sincere that Xiao You couldn't help but gasp. It was real, she wasn't imagining things. Slowly, she nodded, answering to Xi Men's question. She did promise to take what she can get, if that was what Xi Men had to offer, she'd take it. "Yes," Xiao You stated, barely a whisper. A smile spread on Xi Men's face as he leaned to claim her lips once again. Always Xiao You, always, not almost always.
I kinda need to just get it out of my system...
Originally published on "Lovers Unparalleled" 28th August 2011