“So as I was saying, you’ll never know what you’re up against until you actually experience it,” Ming Dao finished his latest tale.
“Are you exaggerating?” Qiao Qiao asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
“I wouldn’t dare, especially in front of all the pretty girls.”
“So you’re Mr. Romeo now?” Jacky asked, giving Ming Dao the doubtful stare also.
As they were waiting for Ming Dao to reply, Qiao Qiao got up from her seat and opened the fridge to get herself a soda.
They were actually eating lunch right now. Some of them were at the dining table while the rest were piling around the kitchen counter. Ming Dao and Bianca were sitting behind the counter this time instead of Ehlo.
“Qiao, get me one,” Chen Yi said.
Qiao Qiao came back seconds later and placed a soda in front of Chen Yi before sitting down at her seat again–between Jacky and Chen Yi. She looked at Ming Dao while opening her soda can. “So…are you going to reply or no?”
“We’re joking,” Ming Dao said. “You don’t have to seek out the answer.”
“Who says he’s joking? Besides, I want to know the answer.”
Chen Yi wrinkled his face and turned to Qiao Qiao. “Qiao, why are you giving him a hard time?”
Qiao Qiao turned to Chen Yi. “I’m trying to test him. Be quiet.”
“Qiao…” Jacky interfered.
Qiao Qiao turned to him, still irritated.
“Remember what I said earlier.”
Qiao Qiao still looked reluctant but she sighed out at last. “Fine.” She turned back to Ming Dao. “Answer me. Take it as a joke then.”
“If I want to be Romeo?” Ming Dao asked back. “Why would I?”
“You act like one.”
“Have I offended you somewhere along the way? Or because we’re on opposing teams now so you’re attacking me?”
“Talking about opposing teams, why did you choose Jacky’s team?”
“What are you talking about? It’s a game. Of course I want to win.”
“Are you saying we’re not good enough?”
“Actually, I think I would be a better teammate with them than Sam and…”
“Qiao…” Chen Yi could see a chain of questions unleashing by her expression, so he had to warn her.
Qiao Qiao turned to him. “What?”
“We’re eating and having fun. Don’t be so hostile.”
“Fine.” She got up from the counter and took her plates and drink with her. She joined Wallace, Cyndi, Yan Yan, and Achel at the table.
Chen Yi looked over to Jacky. “What’s wrong with her? What were you guys talking about earlier?”
“It’s a secret,” Ehlo jumped in. “It’s better that you don’t know, kid.”
“Mr. Pervert, could you stop interfering with my conversation?”
Qiao Qiao jumped back up from the table and walked over to them again. She pointed at Chen Yi. “Who was telling me not to cause trouble like seconds ago?”
Jacky smiled. “She got you there. And I’ll tell you later when certain parties aren’t around.”
“You’re going to tell him?” Ehlo asked, wrinkling his face.
“Qiao’s in. We can’t exclude him.”
Ehlo went back to eating again.
“What are guys talking about?” Achel asked, curious. “What certain parties? You mean us?”
“Go back to eating, little kid,” Ehlo said.
Achel made a face at him.
“Xiao Yu…” Jacky said, attempting to stop their disagreement.
“How did you know I did something?”
“There’s a mirror right there in case you’re blind,” Ehlo jumped in.
They could see from the mirror that Achel was turning red.
“Stop picking on the poor kid, will you?” Ming Dao said. “What’s wrong with you?”
“So you want to switch targets now, Romeo?” Ehlo demanded.
Qiao Qiao turned to Ming Dao. “Well, Remeo? Are you interested in our Xiao Yu?”
“Qiao!” Achel shouted, feeling her face burning red again.
Qiao Qiao turned around and walked back to the table. “What?”
“Don’t say that,” Achel said timidly.
“Unless you like him, don’t turn red.”
Achel buried her face in her food bowl again, keeping quiet.
Qiao Qiao turned around to look at Ming Dao again. “Romeo, you’ve got an admirer.”
“Qiao, stop disturbing the peace,” Jacky said. “Unless you want him and Bianca to break up, stop joking.”
Chen Yi turned to Ming Dao and Bianca. “You’re really dating?”
“Don’t listen to him,” Bianca said quickly. “We’re just friends.”
“Maybe you should listen to me and get together already,” Jacky said.
“You seriously should join our agency,” Wallace said. “You keep playing Mr. Matchmaker.”
Jacky turned to Wallace. “At least I’m not Mr. Backstabber.”
“What?!” The others exclaimed at the same time.
Wallace turned pale.
Of those who were shocked, only Ehlo and Johnny remained passive. Only Cyndi looked a bit nervous as Qiao Qiao was looking back and forth between Jacky and Wallace.
Jacky turned back to face Ming Dao and Bianca again, trying to suppress his anger. “Nothing. I’m just joking.”
He managed to direct his attention to Ming Dao again. “So…ready for practice later?”
“What practice?” Ming Dao asked, confused.
“We’re going to war. Of course you have to practice.”
“Really, Jacky…” Achel bit down on her lips again to prevent herself from saying the last word.
“Yes,” Jacky confirmed.
Jacky rolled his eyes. “Kids.”
They finished eating lunch with random chats the rest of the time. Chen Yi and Ehlo’s side arguments were getting a tad too out of hand by the end of the day. Wallace excused himself after lunch to take Cyndi home so she could rest. When practice was over, they went back into the living to rest again. Jacky grabbed Ehlo, Johnny, Qiao Qiao, and Chen Yi into his room for a side-talk before Chen Yi took Qiao Qiao, Yan Yan, and Achel home. Bianca left with Ming Dao after the five came back from Jacky’s room.
Qiao Qiao took her cell phone out and dialed Jacky’s number as soon as she stopped at the corner of the street.
“Hurry,” Chen Yi urged. “They’re getting quite close to him.”
“Why don’t you do it then?” Qiao Qiao snapped.
“All right. But careful. Watch out! They’re turning around.” He grabbed Qiao Qiao’s hand and they dodged behind the building’s shadow at that time. “Phew. Close one.”
Qiao Qiao finally got a chance to dial Jacky’s number as Chen Yi was keeping watch.
“Silver Dove calling Flying Eagle.”
Jacky let out a chuckle upon hearing her words. “What is this? Some military operation?”
“We have to keep everything a code, don’t we? It’s to ensure secrecy.”
“Or is it to prove that you’re silly?”
“I’m helping you here. Shut up, okay?”
“Qiao, get to the point,” Chen Yi jumped in.
“Oh, right. They’re like two feet behind from you right now. What do we do?”
“I’m going to slow down now,” Jacky informed her. “Tell Chen Yi to call Ming Dao when they’re one foot apart from me. Got it?”
She nodded out of habit although he couldn’t see her. “Got it.” She covered the mouthpiece and passed the message to Chen Yi.
They returned to monitoring the scene across the street again. Chen Yi did as instructed and waited for Ming Dao to pick up.
“Hello?” Ming Dao answered.
“It’s Chen Yi,” Chen Yi said.
“Don’t tell me we have to practice again. I’m out for lunch right now.”
“No way. I’m out for lunch too but I need you to do me a favor.”
“Put your phone into your pocket and don’t hang up.”
“What? What kind of request is that?”
“It’s a test.”
“Testing my patience or Jacky told you to do it?”
“You want me to expose you?”
“Is that a threat? How do you know where we are?”
Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao ducked out of the way again as Ming Dao turned around to look.
“I didn’t know,” Chen Yi continued. “But you just told me that you’re with someone. So…who is it? Bianca? Sharing a romantic lunch together?”
Qiao Qiao had to give Chen Yi credit for his great acting. He was a better liar than Wallace all right.
“Uh…I’m actually…walking around with Sam,” Ming Dao confessed. “He bribed me into lunch but we ended up walking halfway around town for nothing.”
“Okay,” Chen Yi said. “How about we get back at him?”
“Do as I told before. Don’t let him know though. Keep it on for…” He could see Qiao Qiao’s fingers so he nodded to her before passing it on to Ming Dao. “…five minutes then we’ve got enough information to broadcast.”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m just childish, okay? We’re on the same team now. Can’t I just try to get along with you?”
Ming Dao put the phone into his pocket at that time as instructed. Chen Yi could hear some rattling since Ming Dao’s phone brushed with his keys a bit. Chen Yi gave Qiao Qiao a “thumbs-up” sign.
“Okay,” Qiao Qiao told Jacky of their success.
“I’m going to increase my speed again,” Jacky said. “Keep them in sight until I come back out.”
Chen Yi put his phone on speaker as Qiao Qiao turned off her phone. They began to tune in on Ming Dao and Sam’s conversation.
“This is strange,” Sam commented. “Why did he enter that locksmith shop? If he already has the key, can’t he just open it?”
“This is useless,” Ming Dao complained. “Maybe he needs some oil for his locks, okay? How should I know? Or he needs replacements. Can we go eat now?”
Ming Dao wasn’t kidding about being robbed of his lunch hour.
“I’ll treat you to a big meal later this afternoon,” Sam said, trying to calm Ming Dao down.
“I need my food now,” Ming Dao whined.
“Stop acting like a kid already. Let’s follow him before we lost him.”
“I think you are the one that’s being childish.”
“What’s wrong with you lately? Why are you siding with him? It’s like you want this stuff to happen to Sonia or something.”
“We don’t know if it’s him. Bianca already gave up. That’s obvious enough that she trusts Jacky.”
“Or maybe because she’s reassured since we have Wallace there already.”
“Wallace has a brain. We can’t control him or he’s out, remember? Anyway, why are we talking about this? Let’s go. I only have half an hour left before I have to return to work.”
“You go back then.”
“Fine.” Ming Dao turned back and walked toward the street corner again. They were about half a block away from the lights so it took Ming Dao awhile to double back. He brought the cell phone up to his ear again as he was making his way back. “You still there?”
“Yeah,” Chen Yi answered. “What are you guys arguing about?”
“Some stupid stuff.”
Chen Yi signaled to Qiao Qiao, telling her to call Jacky since Sam was so close to the locksmith shop now. Qiao Qiao took several steps away from Chen Yi before dialing Jacky’s number. Somehow, she couldn’t get through. She turned around to see Sam only a few inches in front of the shop. She had to risk it. She ran across the street without looking.
“Qiao!” Chen Yi exclaimed, alarmed. “Don’t! There’s a car coming!”
Ming Dao heard that and looked up at the same time. Without thinking, he tossed his phone on the sidewalk and ran into the street. He grabbed Qiao Qiao out of the way in time before the truck passed them by. Chen Yi was running to them about the same time as Ming Dao, but with Qiao Qiao’s speed and oncoming cars, he had to stop. He almost had a heart attack when he thought that Qiao Qiao got ran over already. But after the truck passed, he could see her safely in Ming Dao’s arm. He breathed out in relief. He could also see that Jacky and Sam had joined them at the corner of the street. He finally got the chance to cross the street after about a minute later.
“What in the world was that?” Chen Yi shouted as soon as he was within earshot.
Ming Dao had finally let go of Qiao Qiao and Jacky was calming her down now.
Qiao Qiao still looked pale and was trying to recover from the incident. “I…I didn’t think…”
“You scared me half to death.”
“Lucky I heard your yell from before or I wouldn’t know she’s heading my way,” Ming Dao said.
Jacky continued to pat Qiao Qiao on the back. “Don’t worry. It’s all right now. It’s my fault. I’m sorry.”
Ming Dao went to retrieve his cell phone after mentioning the call to Chen Yi. He was studying the phone right now–broken in half.
Sam realized the situation at last. “What in the world is going on here?” He turned to Chen Yi. “Were you spying on us?”
“I could say the same for you,” Chen Yi blurted out, putting on his challenging look.
Sam turned to look at Jacky.
Ming Dao could sense the hectic situation. “Don’t look at him. We were just playing a game earlier. I didn’t realize they were so close to us though.” He turned to Qiao Qiao again. “Sorry, Qiao. I really am. I didn’t mean to come up with such a dare.”
Chen Yi looked at Ming Dao and then at Jacky. Why was he covering up for them?
“It’s good that everyone’s safe now,” Jacky said. “Let’s get out of here.”
They left the area and escorted Qiao Qiao back to Orchids Agency–all four of them. They had to walk since Jacky didn’t want to hassle himself or enter traffic if he wanted to shake Ming Dao and Sam off earlier. The other two had to follow on foot because they didn’t want to be too noticeable. Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao were just tailing them and keeping them distracted long enough so Jacky could meet with the locksmith. Now on the way back, Chen Yi had to go back to the shop for work. Both Jacky and Ming Dao were concerned for Qiao Qiao’s safety while Sam had a double motive–Qiao Qiao’s safety and not wanting to lose Jacky out of his sight.
When they were back at the agency, Wallace and Cyndi greeted them at the door upon seeing the sight of four guys escorting a girl.
“What happened?” Wallace asked, seeing Qiao Qiao’s pale face.
“Qiao almost got run over by a truck,” Chen Yi replied.
“What?!” Cyndi exclaimed.
“It’s my fault,” Jacky said. “I won’t ask her to do such things again. Don’t worry. Apologize to Orchids on my behalf. I have to go now.” He turned to Chen Yi and gave him a look before leaving.
Chen Yi stepped forward to reassure Qiao Qiao and led her back to her desk. Cyndi walked to the break room to get Qiao Qiao some water. Wallace turned to Ming Dao and Sam still standing there. Sam looked like he wanted to leave.
“What in the world actually happened?” Wallace demanded.
“It was my fault,” Ming Dao said, taking the blame that Jacky already did. “Forget it. She’s safe now. I won’t do it again.”
“Jacky and you both took turns to blame each other. What’s going on?” He eyed Sam suspiciously.
“Don’t look at me!” Sam exclaimed. “I was far away from the scene when it happened.”
“It was just an accident,” Ming Dao jumped in. “Let’s drop it, guys. I’m leaving. I need to get back to work.” He left after that.
Wallace knew better than to start something at this place, so he let it drop. He gave Sam a sharp look before going back to check on Qiao Qiao.
“You know what would happen if I didn’t see her in time?” Ming Dao asked, his face showing apparent anger. “Let’s quit this silly game.”
“And ignore Sonia’s safety?” Sam shot back.
“So far, I don’t see anyone in danger but Qiao. And we owe it to her big time.”
“I bet he did it.”
Ming Dao turned to Sam again, wrinkling his face. “What?!”
“I bet he told her to run out in traffic to distract us.”
“He’s weird, but he’s not crazy!”
“How can you be so sure? Why are you defending him when you have your doubts about him too on that night? And why were you covering up for him?”
“What else could I say? If I say that Chen Yi called me to chat, wouldn’t it be obvious that we were stalking them in order for them to catch us? It would have been an awkward situation all around. If someone builds a bridge for you to pass, don’t burn it down yourself.”
“What? Okay, so you don’t want us to be exposed but it doesn’t explain why you’re siding with him. Can’t you think for Sonia and what would happen if…”
Ming Dao sighed out, not knowing how to explain it to Sam. If only he didn’t have to keep the promise.
It was Tuesday night–one day after they met up to eat at Uncle Ben’s noodle stall–and Ming Dao visited Bianca like usual since she was off-work. She was driving him to the mountains later to get some good shots for the next article. Then after that, he would help her back with finding something. She didn’t say exactly what but he knew it must be important since they’d been searching around for a while now. She promised to tell him once they found out.
As they were walking to Bianca’s car, they spotted Ehlo walking toward them.
“What in the world are you doing here?” Ming Dao asked, surprised.
“I could say the same for you two,” Ehlo said with a mischievous smile upon seeing the two of them.
“I thought you were supposed to be heading home.”
“I’m picking something up from the shop.”
“Quit being nosy.”
As Ehlo walked by them, Ming Dao could see Ehlo’s right shoulder clearly since Ehlo had rolled his sleeves up all the way. “Hey! What happened to your tattoo?”
Ehlo let out a nervous laugh. “Busted, I guess.” He smiled again before continuing. “It’s fake. Come on, are you kidding me? Me with a tattoo?” He pointed at himself for dramatic effects.
“So you’re not really in a gang?”
“You actually believed that story? Didn’t Jacky tell you I was just bluffing?”
“I thought he was just covering up for you.”
“I don’t know what’s with you and Sam. Always so paranoid.”
“I can understand. I mean Jacky is always so…” He gestured his hand. “…and Sam isn’t used to it. But I’ll admit I’m paranoid.”
“I’ll tell Jacky to quit messing with Sam then since he’s so sensitive. I guess it was a bad idea after all.”
“He told me he teamed up with Sonia to test Sam the first time they met. It must have somewhat of an effect. It could even go for him trying to distract Sam on his first time going live.”
“Sam told me about that.”
“Sonia’s always so full of tricks. I don’t know why he likes her so much though.”
“It was Sonia’s idea?”
“He likes her?!” Bianca exclaimed at the same time as Ming Dao.
Ehlo turned his attention on Bianca since her reaction was too strong to ignore. “I’m not totally sure but that’s my guess. Otherwise, why would he take the blame for her without clarifying anything? ‘Cause Sam seems quite hostile towards him.” He turned to Ming Dao again. “Yes. Of course. If you know her…” He let his eyes pass Bianca briefly. “…you know why Sonia is very capable of thinking up of such an idea.”
“Hey!” Bianca yelled out.
“I’m kidding. I wouldn’t dare to offend Miss Bai.” He let out an innocent smile.
“I should tell Sam later when I get home,” Ming Dao said. “But I don’t think he would mind with the joke though. Come on. Sam’s not that…petty.”
“You never know,” Ehlo said. “Not saying I don’t trust your words, but that’s what I’m seeing. And maybe I’m just biased because Jacky’s my friend.” Then he remembered something. “Don’t clarify it with Sam. Because I wasn’t supposed to tell you that and we all need to preserve Miss Sui’s image–although everyone at the radio station knows how aggressive and competitive she can get.” He rolled his eyes after that.
“Looks like you don’t like her very much.”
“I don’t have anything against her. I’m just mad at Jacky for never explaining to anyone.” He stopped to look at his watch quickly. “All right. I’m off. Don’t ever tell the others I told you these stuffs.”
“All right then. See you around.”
Ming Dao turned to Bianca when Ehlo continued on his way.
“He isn’t so bad after all,” Bianca commented .
“He’s a bit strange–like Jacky, but I guess he’s a loyal friend.”
“So are you.”
Ming Dao smiled. “Let’s get going before we end up with dark pictures instead of the sunset.”
They continued to Bianca’s car.
Ming Dao didn’t want to argue with Sam anymore. He walked toward the living room.
Sam followed him. “Whatever it is, if we don’t find proofs, how can we be sure if it’s him or not? It’s the only way to stop this argument and…”
“If you still want to go through with this silly ‘investigation’ of yours…” He gestured his hand. “Then get Angela to do it with you. I had enough.” He snatched up his keys and headed toward the front door.
“Where you going?”
“I need a break.” Ming Dao slammed the door after that, not caring if Sam was his best friend in the whole wide world.
Ehlo pressed the mute button before going to the door. He opened it to see Ming Dao. His face looked red, like he had been in a heated argument with someone.
“You look terrible,” Ehlo said casually. “Come on in.”
Ming Dao stepped into the room and sighed out before walking to the sofa.
Ehlo shut the door before joining Ming Dao. “Jacky’s making dinner tonight, want to stick around and see how bad he burned it?”
Ming Dao didn’t seem amused by Ehlo’s comment but it looked like he was deep in thought or somewhat distracted. Ehlo waved a hand in front of Ming Dao.
Ming Dao finally snapped out of it. “Huh? What?”
“What’s wrong, man?” Ehlo asked. “You’re acting strange tonight. Ooh…Did your girlfriend dump you for another guy?”
Ming Dao gave Ehlo a sharp look.
Ehlo smiled. “So I’m right?” He jumped up from the sofa and ran to the kitchen where Jacky and Johnny were talking. “Guess what, guys? Ming Dao just got dumped so he’s here to sulk about it.”
“Stop spouting nonsense already!” Ming Dao yelled into the kitchen.
Ehlo turned to Ming Dao again. “Then what’s wrong? You look like you lost your best friend. Or worse.”
Ming Dao sighed out again.
Ehlo couldn’t take it anymore. “Will you quit it? You’re acting like some girl. If you want to say something, spit it out or leave already.”
“Ehlo!” Jacky shouted, trying to refrain Ehlo.
Ehlo turned around to face Jacky again. “What?!”
“His mood is rubbing off on you?”
Ming Dao finally walked into the kitchen to join them. Jacky handed him a soda.
Ming Dao opened the can absentmindedly. “Sorry, guys.”
“It’s okay,” Johnny reassured him.
“It’s like…how do I put it?”
“How about saying it straight out instead of keeping us guessing?” Ehlo suggested.
“I don’t know what got into Sam since we came here. I mean it was fine when we first started. Then now it’s like he’s obsessed with something. Or maybe someone. And now he’s out to get someone else just because of it.”
Ehlo wrinkled his face. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Ming Dao sat at the counter stool. “I just had a little argument with him.”
“A little? Is that an understatement? Your face looks red when I opened the door. I mean it was redder than his shirt.”
Jacky gave Ehlo a look.
“It’s just an example.”
“I can’t believe he still wants to go through with it after what happened today,” Ming Dao said in disappointment.
“What happened today was partially my fault,” Jacky said.
“You mean you actually told Qiao to run out in that traffic?”
Jacky wrinkled his face. “Of course not. What I meant is telling her to stalk you guys. Bad move. She can get so carried away sometimes. I should have known better.”
“Forget it. It’s unavoidable.”
“Lucky you were around or I would never forgive myself.”
“If I haven’t heard Chen Yi yelled, I wouldn’t know either.”
Ehlo gave Jacky a look. “Next time, call us.”
“I know now,” Jacky said.
“So…what were you doing in the locksmith shop today?” Ming Dao asked.
“It’s a secret.”
“You still want to be misunderstood by others?”
Ehlo cleared his throat.
“I mean if you don’t make yourself so mysterious and all, people wouldn’t suspect you so much.”
“Actually, I was there to clarify something,” Jacky said. “Everything will be solved by this weekend. I hope.” He got up and checked on the soup again.
Ming Dao turned to Ehlo and Johnny.
“Don’t ask me,” Ehlo said. “I don’t know either.”
“All right,” Ming Dao said. “I know your situation. But…”
“I don’t want to go back over there tonight. I don’t want to argue with him. We’re friends. It’s just stupid that this is happening.”
“Let’s kick Wallace out then.”
“You can’t,” Jacky said, sounding more authoritative than sincere.
“Ever heard of how dangerous it is to keep the enemy by your side?”
“Stop being dramatic,” Johnny said. “He doesn’t want to, okay?”
“I can sleep on the sofa or something,” Ming Dao said, not wanting them to go against each other just because of him. “It doesn’t matter. Just for the night until we cool off.” He scanned the room casually upon realizing something. “Where’s Wallace anyway?”
“Don’t know. Probably out somewhere with Cyndi and scheming against us again.”
“Everyone around here knows what’s going on, so why don’t we just drop it?”
Ehlo gave Ming Dao a look. “If you don’t stop pretending, I’ll kick you out too.”
“Ehlo, knock it off,” Jacky interfered, trying to stop Ehlo from gnawing at Ming Dao also. “It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just a big misunderstanding.”
Ehlo got up abruptly. “It’s a big misunderstanding because you wanted to protect someone so much that you rather be the one taking the fall for it. Can you stop it?! She wouldn’t know anyway. Now she’s conspiring with others to bring you down. She’s probably the one sitting there pulling all the strings.”
Jacky turned around to face Ehlo. “Stop over-reacting. I told you. I will know the answer by this weekend. What’s the harm of waiting several more days?”
“Only you could lie to yourself like that. I had it! I’m out!” Ehlo slammed his soda can down and left the room. He made sure to slam the door real hard as he was passing through the front door also.
Jacky, Johnny, and Ming Dao unfroze from their spots and removed their attention from the front door seconds later. They turned to look at each other instead, wondering what got into him.
“Uh…was that my fault?” Ming Dao asked in a nervous tone.
“Forget it,” Jacky said passively. “He’s like that sometimes. It’ll be fine later.”
“I guess his room is yours now,” Johnny said, attempting to joke.
“You mean…?” Ming Dao hesitated. “Wouldn’t he get mad if he’s back later and finds out?”
“He wouldn’t be back,” Johnny reassured him again. “Probably going back to his parents’ house to sulk about it. Then possibly coming up with a plan to sabotage Sonia.”
“It’s that bad between them?”
“Actually, Angela started the war like two years ago.”
“Everyone seems to get along fine on the surface, but we always have this ‘trust’ issue going on. It’s also the reason why we don’t hang around the girls anymore until recently with the whole running into each other. Can’t really blame Angela since she’s being careful and protective of her friends but it’s getting on our nerves really.”
“And in case you’re wondering,” Jacky continued. “Bianca was never part of the feud so you can be assured. She wasn’t stuck between us. In fact, we just met her recently after she moved back here.”
“No wonder you guys don’t know Qiao or Chen Yi either,” Ming Dao commented, finally understanding the link. “It’s a complicated group, huh?”
Johnny nodded. “You can say that.”
Sam came to the door as soon as he heard the doorbell rang. He wondered if it was Ming Dao. But didn’t he have keys with him earlier? Sam was surprised to see Ehlo standing at the door.
“Well?” Ehlo asked, gesturing his hands. “Aren’t you going to let me in?”
“Huh?” Sam uttered, a bit surprised.
“‘Huh?’ is all you can say?”
“Your best buddy took over my room so now I’m here.”
“So much for best buddies,” Sam mumbled before tuning in to Ehlo again. “What does it have to do with me?”
“It’s only fair if I’m using his room tonight.”
“Don’t trust me?”
“Forget it. Why would I expect so much from a ‘neighbor’ when my best friends don’t care where I sleep tonight?” He turned to leave.
“Wait. Come on in.”
Ehlo turned back to Sam. “Serious? I don’t want to force you into taking me in just because I don’t want to go home.”
“Stop the lame talks and get in already.”
Sam shut the door behind Ehlo and went back to the living room.
“So, where’s his room?”
“You want to search it or something?”
“No. So I can settle in.”
“Are you here for some other reason?”
“You have beer?”
“You heard me. I just want to drink away so I don’t have to care about those dumb buddies of mine anymore. Won’t listen to anything I say.”
Sam felt like he could sympathize with Ehlo. He went to the kitchen and took out two cans of beer. Ehlo followed him and sat at the table.
“Any more than this?”
Sam ended up getting the whole pack out.
“Come on. Drink. It looks like you can use some too.”
Wallace came home to see Ming Dao sitting in the kitchen and eating with Jacky and Johnny. As soon as he walked in, they stopped talking.
“What?” Wallace asked.
“Nothing,” Jacky replied quickly. “Eat yet?”
“All right then.”
“Why are you here?” Wallace asked, looking at Ming Dao.
“I can’t be here?” Ming Dao asked back.
“He’s staying for the night,” Jacky explained. “And Ehlo left already.”
Wallace turned to Jacky. “Why? What happened?”
“It’s a long story.”
“If it’s a secret then I won’t ask.”
“Not a secret,” Johnny said. “Just too complicated and frustrating to explain. But it can be sum up in two words: childish talks.”
“All right then. I’m going to sleep.”
Wallace saw Jacky waving to him since he was chewing at the moment.
Wallace walked to his room, wondering what was really going on. Their lives were changed unknowingly and everyone’s behavior was getting peculiar by the minute. He wondered what else will happen tomorrow.
© Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Re-posted: Friday, February 4th, 2011