Hello everyone! This is not my first fanfiction I've ever written-I used to play around in HP fanfic for a long time-but this is definitely the first I've written based on a manga/Taiwanese drama. You'll probably need to suspend your disbelief a little for this one, but this will be for everyone who wanted Xiao Fei and Nai Te to be together. Beyond all obstacles, I really did find myself in the end wanting them to be together. The ending was just...horrible. Anyway, you'll see how it goes, and I'll explain a little more at the end. Thank you!
Xiao Fei did move on; she promised Nai Te that she would. It was a difficult road, and she was lucky to have Zong Shi and her friends from work to support her. She tried her best to never cry for longer than an hour, though she sometimes broke the rule.
The hardest moment for her was when she decided to move. She could not longer rely on Zong Shi to watch over her and support her; she would never be able to return his feelings, and he needed to move on. It wasn't fair of her to jeopardize his time when he was too willing to give it to her. She picked an apartment a few blocks from work. It was slightly out of her price range, but she was going to pour herself into her job and make the money. If Zhi Xi could do it, then so could Xiao Fei! But when she was packing up her things from her old apartment next door to her best friend, she ran into all of her memories with Nai Te. When she was boxing up the dishes, she opened the cabinet above the sink and discovered the frying pan that Nai Te had bought for her. It had a panda face wrapped around the side. It had been sort of an ironic gift, since he always cooked for her anyway, but she had loved it nonetheless. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, wrapped it in bubble wrap, and moved on to the rest of the kitchen.
There were memories like this all over the apartment, and they all slowly chipped her apart one by one. The most difficult obstacle was the picture box. There was absolutely no need for her to open it in order to pack it up, but she did anyway, needing to look at the pictures. Ever since Nai Te had died, about four months earlier, she had avoided all these things. She had put blinders on her vision, focusing only on mandatory things: eat, sleep, work. After she took the lid off, she slowly flipped through the pictures, and when she got to their favorite, she had needed to call in sick to work because she couldn't stop crying. Zong Shi came over later that night with rice cakes and beef noodle soup and she fell asleep on his soaked shoulder.
After that night, Xiao Fei began to methodically repair her heart. She wouldn't hurt Zong Shi anymore when he cared for her so much. She packed up the rest of her things and was out by the end of the week. She even moved by herself, getting rid of anything unnecessary-Nai Te's things were still necessary, but when she got to the new place, she kept them in boxes in the storage room. She just couldn't quite let go of them yet.
Flash forward five years, and Xiao Fei was actually pretty successful, if she did say so herself. She still didn't make as much money as that darn Zhi Xi, but that was okay. She had enough money for her apartment, and that was good enough. The only problem was that she was quite lonely. She still met up with Zong Shi once a week and saw him at work, but they were in completely different departments, and they were both trying to move on from the past. Zhi Xi and Sky she saw regularly, but it always hurt a little because they were so happy with one another, set to be married in a little under a year. It was just too hard.
Things always have a way of resolving themselves, though.
"One oya misua, please," she ordered from the owner of the sandwich shop. She was over in the shopping district, having just finished finding shoes with Zhi Xi for the wedding, but she had stayed behind to grab some food. She really didn't feel like cooking tonight, not that she ever did. Old habits die hard, after all.
"Of course. Five minutes, please. Thank you!" Xiao Fei smiled back at the enthusiastic chef, momentarily confused. The same person had always owned this shop, but it looks like they'd changed management. It wasn't very surprising; she hadn't been here for a good few years, so things were bound to change. She turned to grab a seat, and her heart nearly jumped into her throat when she saw a familiar figure in the corner.
"Mei Jia?" she gasped. The figure stiffened but turned to greet her, and indeed, it was her old friend. Xiao Fei bit her lip as she tried to decide what to do, and she could clearly see Mei Jia doing the same thing. She came to a resolution, drew up her courage, walked over to her estranged friend, and plopped down into the seat next to her. "How are...things?" she asked awkwardly, cringing.
Mei Jia rolled her eyes but smiled softly. "Things are going," she replied, also a little stiff. Nobody could deny the situation was highly unusual. "It looks like you are doing well," Mei Jia offered, gesturing to Xiao Fei's business suit, an upgrade from her old attire.
Xiao Fei laughed, shrugging her shoulders. "Still not part of Secretariat," she admitted. The both shifted at the topic, as it was the basis for the end of their friendship.
"I'm...sorry," Mei Jia confessed, looking down at her sandwich. It was the same one Xiao Fei always remembered her getting, the one with beef and scallions. "I was really childish back then, but I thought I was strong and didn't need anyone. I had a lot of trust issues and I dumped them on you. I apologize." She had stared at her plate through her whole apology, but Xiao Fei felt the sincerity.
"It's okay," Xiao Fei said. "It was a long time ago. Besides, I was sort of a bumbling idiot, anyway."
"Not anymore?" Mei Jia teased lightly, offering a small smile. Xiao Fei pursed her lips and looked away, and they both laughed.
It was so simple, but just like that, their friendship was repaired.
It took awhile to fall back into the groove of friendship, but after a couple of months, Xiao Fei finally learned why Mei Jia had returned to Taipei.
"I was married to the previous owner of that sandwich shop we always go to," she told Xiao Fei unexpectedly one night while they were watching Korean dramas on the TV. Xiao Fei gasped, completely shocked at the news. Mei Jia nodded in agreement. "I know, right? But really, he was such a wonderful man. I've been hurt a lot in the past, but when I met him, he just...saved me," she confessed. "We moved when he wanted to open up a second shop." So, that was why the management had changed.
Xiao Fei surreptitiously glanced at Mei Jia's ring finger. It would be just like her to not even notice that Mei Jia had been wearing a wedding ring, but her to confusion, there was nothing there. Had she ever worn one? "So...you guys are long distance now that you got reassigned here?" Xiao Fei ventured a guess. Mei Jia shook her head.
And just like that, memories of Nai Te sprang up in Xiao Fei's memory at the word. She remembered seeing Nai Te shut up inside that refrigerator box for the last time, and how desperately lonely she had felt in that moment. But she shoved all the thoughts down. It would not do to fall apart at this moment, when she needed to be strong for her old friend. Of course, she never knew what to say, so she just listened.
Mei Jia was playing with the ruffle on her sleeve; she'd already set aside her food. "He was a lot older than me, and he developed a brain tumor a few years after we got married. It was...quite advanced once we found out about it. He died another year later." Mei Jia didn't cry, but then, she never cried. She was a master at hiding emotions, as Xiao Fei had learned a long time ago, but it made her sad that her friend couldn't show her feelings.
Xiao Fei reached forward and pulled Mei Jia into a hug. "I don't know what to say...I'm so sorry," she whispered honestly, and Mei Jia nodded into her shoulder. They pulled apart and Mei Jia sucked in a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
"I moved back here because I got a good offer for a job and I was anxious to move away from all the memories," she explained. "As you know, I'd been working in advertising, but this time I got a job as an assistant buyer for a fashion company. It was a big upgrade and something to distract me from the pain." She gave Xiao Fei an odd, calculating look. "To be honest, I really haven't told anyone here about it."
"How come? Why now?" Xiao Fei immediately asked, curious.
"I just wanted to move on, and I didn't really know anyone who would be able to relate. We're all so young...Nobody else is widowed yet," Mei Jia explained, still giving Xiao Fei that weird look. "But then...I saw Sky a couple of days ago, and he told me about...Nai Te."
Xiao Fei looked down, uncomfortable. "Blabbermouth," she mumbled, chuckling humorlessly. "Should teach him to keep his mouth shut..." Of course, Sky had told her the fake story, the one Xiao Fei had rehearsed over and over. She had simply said he had a brain aneurysm. They come suddenly, with no symptoms, and it can happen to young or old. It was the only lie that would work after he'd died so suddenly.
Mei Jia reached forward and grabbed Xiao Fei's hand. "No, I'm glad he told me," she urged. "I know you've been just as lonely as me, and you haven't talked about him either. Now, we have each other. Maybe we can get past this with each other."
A long moment passed, and Xiao Fei nodded. They didn't talk much the rest of the night, just enjoyed some tea and silently agreed to switch the TV from sad Korean dramas to game shows, instead.
"Are you sure you can trust her?" Zong Shi asked bluntly. He had been skeptical of Mei Jia ever since she and Xiao Fei made up several months ago. "She did some pretty horrible things to you."
Xiao Fei pulled a face, thinking about it seriously. They were walking in the park by Zong Shi's apartment. "I don't think you can ever truly trust a person. You never know anyone completely," she said slowly, thinking out loud. Except for Nai Te, she thought, but kept it to herself. "But it also is not really living to think of it that way and live beneath a shell. That's what Mei Jia did, and it hurt her soul. I choose to trust her, because I want to."
Zong Shi chuckled. "Idiot," he said affectionately, but she sensed that he agreed. He reached down and ruffled Xiao Fei's hair. She screeched and ducked out of the way, and they played like they were kids again until they parted ways and went home.
There was one horribly awkward night where everything came to light. Xiao Fei had invited everyone to her apartment: Zong Shi, Mei Jia, Sky, and Zhi Xi. It was her birthday, after all, and every year she celebrated hard, happy that she'd made it through another year. They were all quite drunk when Sky tripped hard on the coffee table and fell into the TV stand, narrowly avoiding the TV itself.
"Ow! It hurts!" he had complained while everybody laughed, Zhi Xi swooping in to give him a quick kiss on the back of the head. Xiao Fei hadn't been paying any attention to him, too lost in a haze of laughter and liquor, but she definitely noticed when he stood upright, holding a suspiciously familiar brochure in his hand. All at once, she lost her breath as she thought how stupid she was. She had finally unpacked one of Nai Te's pictures to put on the stand, but she'd left out the picture box wide open on the bottom shelf of the TV stand, where his manuals and brochures from Kronos were. Why, why, why had she kept them?
"Uh, Xiao Fei?" The world went in slow motion as Sky stood up, still holding the manual. "Did you get like, uh, like a Nai Te sex doll?" It would have been super inappropriate to ask under normal circumstances, but they were all drunk and good friends, and it was a horrible series of unfortunate events. She dashed toward him, but it was too late; Zhi Xi had already grabbed the brochure. She looked it over for only a second, but she'd seen enough by the time Xiao Fei grabbed it.
Silence. She wondered how much damage she could avoid. "Well, you guys found out my secret," she giggled haltingly, trying to seem embarrassed, which wasn't too hard. "I'm a lonely old lady who can't move on and I got a sex doll that resembles my dead fiance." She scratched the back of her head, looking everywhere but at her friends.
"Xiao Fei," Zong Shi came up to her, softly saying her name. "Maybe you should just tell the truth?" Even Zong Shi was drunk enough to give bad advice. Xiao Fei shook her head, resolute.
"The truth about what?" Mei Jia asked. She was particularly interested in what was going on, seeing as how she had had a bit of "history" with Nai Te herself. "Xiao Fei would never buy a sex doll. She's way too innocent."
"Maybe that's the problem," Sky teased. Everyone was all looking at her expectantly. Zong Shi stood by her side, giving her backup. Xiao Fei let out a huge sigh.
"Nai Te was a robot." There. Straight to the point. She refused to look up from the floor, and if she'd been flushed from drinking before, her whole body was now burning. Again, complete silence in the room. Was that a pin that Xiao Fei heard drop so loudly? Then Zhi Xi burst out laughing.
"That's impossible!" she exclaimed. "I myself spent lots of time with him; it was impossible that he could have been a robot. You're just playing off that metaphor I used a few years ago." She paused for a little bit when she noted Xiao Fei's serious face. "I mean…he got sick and everything, just like anyone else." Finally, she remembered something crucial. "Except, that one year at Xiao Fei's birthday…remember, we were playing with the party hats, and every time the string hit someone's chin, it really hurt! But Nai Te didn't even feel a thing…" she trailed off, not quite sure what to think.
"Maybe everyone should take a seat," Xiao Fei suggested, resigning herself to the fact that she was going to be the butt of jokes for a very long time. Everybody did, and she began. She told them how she'd been lonely. Then she'd found Lei WuWu's phone, and he had promised her he'd get her a boyfriend. She explained how she was curious when he sent her the Kronos website URL, how it all seemed like some big joke, but then how the next day Nai Te had shown up in a box. She told of the debt because she didn't return him in time-she emphasized on the fact that she had wanted to return him because it was weird to be cohabiting with a robot-but how she'd gone past the return deadline. Finally, she went into several of their experiences together, leaving some out when they were too personal.
When Xiao Fei finally looked up from her story after numbly going through how Nai Te died, she noticed that everyone had tears in their eyes and kleenex out. She gave a weak, sad smile.
"I can't believe…I had no idea!" Zhi Xi gasped, appalled. "I thought he died from a brain aneurysm! He'd even been really sick those last few days, constant headaches and everything."
"He really seemed sick," Sky agreed. "I guess that's what happens when a computer overheats, though." Everyone shot him a look for having such little tact.
Mei Jia was giving her a long, contemplating look. Everything sort of made sense now though, didn't it? "So, he was my boyfriend for awhile because I kissed him?" she clarified. Xiao Fei nodded, and Zong Shi shifted in his seat. Xiao Fei knew his patience with Mei Jia was thin, so she shot him a pleading look to not start anything with her. "But, even then…" Mei Jia continued. "He never did forget you. Even though he was programmed to delete all that data, to never cheat on his current girlfriend, he still could never forget you."
"And he even gained self awareness," Zhi Xi continued. "All because he loved Xiao Fei so much."
"Woah, what a love story!" Sky swooned into his girlfriend's arms as she rolled her eyes.
This was all getting to be a bit too much. Xiao Fei's heart felt empty, or like it wasn't even there, like there was an absence in her chest. She hadn't talked this much about Nai Te since she told Mei Jia that he died, and she hadn't even told her the whole truth about him being a robot.
Zong Shi saw Xiao Fei's mood rapidly declining, and he suddenly stood up. "I'm sure you all have lots of thoughts and opinions about this, but keep them to yourself for tonight. I was there and I knew everything that was going on, and I can guarantee you that Nai Te's death was like any human's death, and Xiao Fei is still recovering." He paused, glancing at her. She was looking at him gratefully. "So…try to be understanding," he finished.
Zong Shi was such a great guy. Why couldn't Xiao Fei just turn on feelings for him? He was attractive, successful, and always looked out for her, but she just couldn't feel the same way back. She wondered if she'd ever have feelings for anyone else.
Mei Jia jumped up from her seat, clapping her hand. "I agree with Zong Shi!" She smiled at him, but he just looked away. Xiao Fei also wondered how long it would take him to forgive Mei Jia for what she had done so long in the past. "Xiao Fei, we have lots of presents for you!" She winked, and everyone else joined in the fun, even if it was a bit forced.
After a bit more pretending and a lot more drinks, the awkward fun turned into real fun, and the rest of the night went smoothly.
Nobody could have seen it coming. It didn't happen overnight, but it happened all the same. Xiao Fei wanted to be happy for them, but she couldn't help but feel bitter and rejected and unwanted. She hadn't wanted to be with Zong Shi, and she had definitely wanted Mei Jia to find someone else, but she hadn't expected them to find each other! And apparently, they'd even been together for five months! The last she'd heard, they'd hated each other.
Of course, thinking back, she was blind to have not noticed the softness they had for each other, the smiles when they thought no one was looking. Some part of her just hadn't wanted to see it.
It was such a drastic change from everything Xiao Fei thought was reality, and she desperately wanted to be happy for them, but every night she came home and either wanted to cry or gave in and flat out cried, and she was constantly breaking the one hour rule. She was so selfish. She'd wanted Zong Shi to move on, and now that he finally had, she wanted him back. What kind of person was she?
Lonely, that's all she was, she tried to rationalize. She didn't want to be by herself forever. She was still stuck on her first love and everything else in her life was becoming warped because of it.
The next few weeks passed by in a blur.
Xiao Fei, meet us at the lantern festival this evening. It's been so long since we've spent time together! We miss you. -Mei Jia
Xiao Fei pouted, rolling the note back up that she'd found on the front door to her apartment. Things had been tense lately, and it was all Xiao Fei's fault. She felt horribly guilty, so she decided she'd go, even though being the third wheel was the last thing she wanted. But beneath everything, they were still her best friends, even after Mei Jia had found out the truth about Nai Te. Sky and Zhi Xi had taken a little bit longer, but even they'd come around. It was hard to deny Nai Te's humanity.
She lounged about in her pajamas for a little bit first, though, content to wait until the last second to head down. If she thought about it, it wouldn't be so bad. She hadn't seen Zong Shi for ages; he'd been working on some top priority project. She missed him, she realized, and so she got up and actually spent time getting ready, wanted to look better than she had been lately. Sloppy was the only way she could describe it. She just didn't have the energy anymore. But she wanted to start fresh tonight; she even did her makeup and wore a red dress with some nice new boots and a wool jacket.
The lantern festival was in the Pingxi district. She took the bus over there and became a little stressed because it took a very long time due to high traffic that night. What had she been thinking, waiting so long? As soon as she got off the bus she felt the slight chill of the evening, and put on her jacket. It took her awhile to find the right area, but she found Zong Shi and Mei Jia soon after.
"Hey guys!" she called, and they both noticed her and came over. Mei Jia was currently working on a design on her lantern, but it looked like Zong Shi already had his done. Xiao Fei grinned. "To be honest, I haven't actually sent off a lantern for years," she confessed.
"Well, we'll have to change that," Zong Shi said, pulling her in for a short hug. "It's good to see you."
Xiao Fei grinned awkwardly as both Zong Shi and Mei Jia beamed at her. It was actually a little weird, and she found herself shifting her feet restlessly. "Alright, I'm going to go get a lantern, too!"
It looked like all of Taiwan had turned out for the event, and kids were running around everywhere playing with little firecrackers. It really was a magical night, and she refused to feel lonely or any of those negative emotions that had been afflicting her lately. She thought about her two best friends and how grateful she was to have them. Her glass may not be completely full right now, but she was grateful for what she had. When she wrote her wish on her lantern, it was simple: Please let my happiness find me.
Zong Shi and Mei Jia had already sent theirs off, so Xiao Fei went to join the larger group near the temple. "I'll be right back," she said to her friends, and set off. Of course, when she got there, she didn't have any way to light it. "Darn," she cursed, asking around to see if she could borrow a match or a lighter or anything. Finally, somebody place a hand on her shoulder.
"Here, let me lend you mine."
Xiao Fei's heart, the one she'd been forgetting she had lately, stopped dead for real. She turned slowly, thinking frantically to herself that she knew that voice, that she could never forget that voice. And when she looked up, how was it possible that she saw Nai Te's face smiling back down at her?
"How…is this…possible?" Xiao Fei wondered out loud, suspecting she'd finally lost it and that this person was probably regretting offering her a hand in the first place.
"Xiao Fei…" the man gripped her by the shoulders, not too tightly to make it hurt; just enough to send warmth tingling down her spine. She stood limp in his arms, her heart switching between not beating and beating way too fast. "Young whun hee sarong hee sarong hai keen." I will love you forever…His eyes looked into hers earnestly and he had a tentative smile on his face, waiting for her reaction.
Xiao Fei melted. This was her Nai Te, telling her 'I love you in Korean,' the way only he would. She threw her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder. "How is this possible?" she whimpered again, feeling the tears come already. "I've missed you so much. Please let this be real. Don't let me be crazy. And please don't leave me again." She hiccuped, the emotions overcoming her.
"Xiao Fei, I'm so sorry, I never wanted to leave you, not ever," Nai Te urged, sounding a little choked up himself. "Everything is okay, I promise you. Everything will be okay. Everything is fixed. If you'll still have me…I'd like to continue being your perfect boyfriend," he murmured into her ear. She nodded without even thinking about it, never letting go of him. Distantly, she heard clapping, and as she pulled away just slightly, she noticed a crowd had gathered around them.
"It looks like somebody got their wish!" she heard from the crowd, and Mei Jia stepped forward with Zong Shi behind her. They didn't look surprised at all, and after looking at Zong Shi's slightly tired face and pleased smile, she realized that she probably owed a lot to him, because there was only one person that could have made this happen.
Xiao Fei ended up forgetting all about sending up her lantern. It wasn't really necessary anymore, after all; she'd already gotten her wish. She left it on the bridge ledge for somebody to use, somebody who still hadn't found their happiness.
Everyone congregated at Xiao Fei's apartment again that night. As soon as they walked in the door, Xiao Fei interrogated Zong Shi. She was still holding Nai Te's hand, reluctant to ever let go of him, not that he minded one bit.
"How is this possible?" she asked. "Thank you so much, you've done so much for me and I don't know how I could begin to repay you…" She paused, looking up at Nai Te longingly. "But…I'm just so scared…to lose him again."
Zong Shi smiled and patted Xiao Fei on the head. "Truth be told, this is what I've been working on the past few months." He gestured to Nai Te, who bowed his head gratefully. "You actually have Mei Jia to thank, as well. After she found out about that Nai Te was a robot, she wanted to help you, too. She told me about her late husband's friend who worked in robotics in Tainan, and explained that he might be able to help me. We spent so much time together working on this...that was how we got to know each other and eventually fall in love."
Xiao Fei looked at Mei Jia, who grinned at her bashfully. "I really hurt you all those years ago," Mei Jia said sadly. "I just…wanted to make it up to you. I hope you can forgive me."
Xiao Fei finally let go of Nai Te and ran forward to embrace her friend. "I forgave you a long time ago," Xiao Fei whispered. "But thank you so much nonetheless," she chuckled, a few more tears in the corner of her eyes. She wiped them off as she pulled away, and then hugged Zong Shi as well. "I can't believe you guys did all this for me, and after I've been such a bad friend…" she mumbled, retreating back into Nai Te's arms.
"Nai Te really is your soulmate," Mei Jia said. "And it wasn't right for you two to be apart so young."
"But, even if you were able to make the technology work now..." Xiao Fei trailed off, "I mean, he died, right? That was the end?"
Zong Shi gestured to Nai Te to explain, and he jumped right in. "Actually," he grinned, crossing his arms and looking proud, "I had a lot of faith in technology. If anybody should, it should be me, right? But I left ten seconds on my clock, hoping that that would be enough time to start me up and fix me in the future, but still give me enough time with you in the present."
Xiao Fei nodded, touched. He hadn't told her he would do that, so that she wouldn't keep her hopes up and live in the past. But all along, he had hoped and planned to come back to her. She felt warm down to her toes.
"You won't need to worry about Nai Te breaking down again," Zong Shi said reassuringly, trying to assuage the remaining fear in the pit of Xiao Fei's stomach. "This is the technology I talked about years ago, but I got my hands on it a lot earlier. He actually does have a restructured body, but his personality, what's in him…..that's all still your Nai Te." He paused, grinning. "He'll even still get old and wrinkly, just like you. We programmed him to grow old the human way."
And in true Nai Te form, he pulled Xiao Fei to him and beamed at her. "It would be my pleasure to grow old and wrinkly with Xiao Fei!" He fist pumped the air, and happy laughter bubbled up inside of her.
Thank you so much, Xiao Fei thought at Mei Jia and Zong Shi, and to the higher power that most certainly existed and was watching over her.
Xiao Fei woke up slowly the next morning, the light pouring through the window and lighting the room in a golden glow. It must have already been noon, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Warm arms encased her lovingly, and she turned around in them to face Nai Te. He opened his eyes and just looked at her, pulling her in for a long, slow kiss. She wiggled against him, trying to get as close as she could.
"Nai Te…" she whispered bashfully, looking at his lips instead of his eyes as she spoke. "I think I'm finally ready to do…that…with you."
Nai Te's grin in response could have lit up the darkest night.
Well, hopefully you all liked it! I'm a bit rusty at writing, but I cried so hard at the end of the drama and couldn't get over it, so I had to write this for myself to feel better. Hopefully it will help all of you cope. =P
If you're wondering about the technology behind Nai Te, well, I'm not a scientist. But if you've ever seen Battlestar Galactica, he basically has Cylon programming. He wouldn't get old if he didn't want to, but since he does, then he was the body processes to do that. As for if he ever gets "sick" again, Zong Shi is there to fix him now.
I wrote this all very quickly and now I have to go and prepare a kickboxing class, so I haven't touched this yet at all or edited it or anything. I will probably come back and do that tonight. Again, thank you so much everyone. =)