Jacky could see the anxiousness in everyone’s faces. Even though the majority was supporting him but he knew that they really wanted to know the truth behind it all as much as Ehlo. Moreover, Jacky knew deep down that Ehlo was doing this for his own good. Who was he kidding? Who was the one whom stood up for him all these past years and supported him before he came to know Chen Yi or Qiao Qiao? Or even Wallace. Who was the one whom abandoned his pride and sneaked across the street to spy for him? Who was it that had clean up the mess for him when he had taken it into his hands to investigate about Sonia’s matter? Who was it that never really liked Sonia but still encouraged him on these past weeks? If he owed anyone, it was Ehlo. It was Huang Yu Rong whom didn’t care how others criticized him but still played the bad guy and taking on the confronting role. Jacky finally found the courage from within–something that he had abandoned weeks ago. In fact, months ago. He didn’t clear his throat or let out a sigh before speaking up. His confidence came back into his voice as he stared at his friend.
“Ehlo’s right,” Jacky said.
Ehlo didn’t speak up right away. He let out a sigh. “I hope this isn’t one of your tactics to get out of it again.”
Wallace stepped forward at that time. “I think we should give him some space still.”
Ehlo turned around to give Wallace a sharp glare.
“I mean I want to talk to him first.”
Ehlo’s expression softened. “All right. But if you talk him out of explaining it to us, you’re…”
“If you don’t trust me, then I can just call it off right now.”
“Fine.” Ehlo let out another sigh and made his way out the door again. He turned around again as abrupt as his departure. “If I can’t listen, then the rest of you can’t either.” He eyed the others with his threatening look. “It’s only fair.”
The others nodded, knowing that Eho was giving in to them. They shouldn’t push it or make it worse. They needed to trust Wallace on this. One by one, they left the room in silence. Before going, Qiao Qiao turned back to give Jacky a supportive nod. He returned her nod with a smile.
“Shut the door behind you,” Wallace said to Johnny.
“Yes, Young Master Huo,” Johnny said in a half-joking tone.
Wallace rolled his eyes at Johnny’s attempt of humor at this point of time. However, he didn’t care to return it with one of his clever responses. He turned back and gestured for Jacky to take a seat before they begin.
“Qiao, could you stop pacing?” Chen Yi asked.
They were actually by the garage because Johnny didn’t trust any of them to stand so close to the front door. Chen Yi was leaning on his car while Ehlo was doing the same to his. Qiao Qiao had been pacing since they’d arrived at this spot like seconds ago. Contrary to her outbursts from earlier, she seemed to be anxious pacing back and forth in front of the guys. She had managed to calm down after knowing that there were no fights between the guys. Jacky would be safe with Wallace. However, she couldn’t stop herself from pondering of their possible discussion inside the house. She let her imagination run wild since she knew that Wallace could get impatient at times too. It wasn’t as scary as Ehlo’s but it was not a pretty sight either. When Chen Yi spoke up to stop her pacing, she snapped out of her trance and walked toward him. She ended up leaning against his car as well. However, her expression remained intense.
“Wallace’s inside, not Ehlo, so why are you still worried?” Chen Yi asked.
“Still…” Qiao Qiao said, still worried.
Ehlo sighed out. “Sorry for scaring you guys earlier.”
“I would’ve appreciated it if you guys didn’t sacrifice my friend,” Chen Yi said.
“It’s our only chance.”
Qiao Qiao looked from Chen Yi to Ehlo. “What are you guys talking about?”
“You’ll find out in a bit.”
Qiao Qiao ended up pacing again as the others lost themselves in their own thoughts, waiting for Jacky and Wallace.
While Qiao Qiao and the others were occupying themselves with their own thoughts, Jacky was telling Wallace what happened–starting with what happened after he returned home when he received the call that day at the movie theater. Wallace tried to be patient, withholding all questions as Jacky slowly recounted all the events. He continued to listen intently during Jacky’s many pauses and sighs as well. Jacky’s tone got more and more passive after each pause but Wallace could see the sadness on his face.
“Yes, I admit that I’m a heart-breaker. But I really don’t want to behave that way. The way I see Sonia suffering through my cruel blows each time, I just can’t bare it. I want to tell her that I love her. I want to tell her that everything’s going to be all right because I will fix it. But I don’t want to be selfish and make Sonia wait for me. I don’t want her to waste her time or youth waiting for me.”
Wallace gave Jacky a supportive clap on the shoulder at that time.
“I’m all right.”
“If I could choose, I would’ve quit my jobs ages ago already to prove that I could actually make a sacrifice of my career to be with her. I was thinking of doing it for real after having thought it over some times the weeks after I returned from Xiao Qiao’s place. I want to honestly pursue her. But then I received the call. When I got home, Mom told me that they’ve gone to a fortune-teller and he said that Jo is the most suitable candidate for me. Can you believe my luck? I was astonished. I confronted them if it was one of their schemes again to pull us together. But then I realized how serious Mom was. I could break her heart by saying that it was just a bunch of silly stuffs and I was ready to tell them that I’m going after Sonia and I’m thinking about quitting my job. I could do other things. But they told me something strange. Apparently, Jo told on me after she was frustrated to find out I was with Sonia at that one charity event we did several months back. That was how Mom decided to take Sonia’s birth date in to let the fortune-teller see it too. Mom told me that Sonia will jinx me my whole life if I’m with her. I told them I don’t believe it. But you can see what has been happening these past two years. It was always the same. They’re my parents after all and I want to give them my full respect so I only let out my little frustration and…I could see how hurt Mom looked so I told her I will reconsider it over. Dad always respects Mom’s decision so he told me if I dare to do anything that will hurt Mom, he will never forgive me. I told him I won’t. When I got home that time, I was distracted but I want to direct attention away from myself so I teased you about stuffs and I’m sorry.”
“I’ve been thinking so hard to try to make it work or run to that fortune-teller and tell him that he got it wrong and he didn’t know what he was talking about. But he told me it was the truth. I couldn’t find a way to ever make Mom accept Sonia. I can’t quit my job anymore because that would prove them right of how they say that Sonia would destroy me. I can’t think straight anymore. The only way I could finally think of was to stop giving Sonia hope, so I…did the cruelest thing I could think of. I try to write Xiao Qiao a song just to drive the final blow, knowing words will get around considering some of you were wondering if I was starting to like Xiao Qiao. But I couldn’t think of anything. She’s my favorite author and I admire her very much because of how hard she strives for life. She’s a great friend also, but I couldn’t think of anything. Ehlo was right that it was as clear as the day that I was writing that song for Xiao Qiao because of the phrases I thrown in with her pen name. But Sonia was my inspiration for that song. It was my secret confession to her. Meeting her and knowing her is the best thing that ever happened to me. She is the enchantment that I’ve encountered and have been working along with all these years. I admire her bravery and her honesty through all the years we’ve worked together. Just when I thought about life and how I want to honestly settle down, I get pulled down by this obstacle. I…”
“You don’t have to continue.”
“You want some time alone?”
Before Jacky could answer Wallace, they heard the door opening. Both guys turned around slightly to check what was going on. They could see Sonia looking in at them. They both got up and turned their full attention to the door, seeing that Qiao Qiao was outside also.
“Sorry, guys,” Qiao Qiao said. “Bianca called and I accidentally let it slip about the fight and…”
“It’s all right,” Wallace said.
“Sonia wanted to see you guys and ran past the others so I ran after her and we accidentally overheard your conversation…”
Wallace could see that Jacky and Sonia were staring at each other so he signaled for Qiao Qiao to step back outside as he did the same himself. Before he went, he turned back and clapped Jacky on the shoulder. Then he shut the door behind them, making sure that there were no more interruptions this time.
Sonia waited until the door was completely closed before stepping closer to Jacky.
Sonia shook her head. “You don’t have to say anything anymore. I heard it all.”
He reached his hand out to wipe her tears away as it was rolling down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry for burdening you so much.”
“I should be the one saying sorry for hurting you.”
Fresh tears rolled down her eyes as she tried to restrain herself. “I should be glad it took you so much effort to get rid of me though. It’s because I’m important to you, right? I never wanted to believe…” She ended up choking with tears since she had been trying to refrain herself from crying–and trying to be strong.
Jacky couldn’t maintain his calmness any longer. He pulled her closer and held onto her tightly, letting her cry into his shoulder. “Whatever it is, we will face it together no matter what. I won’t let a silly fortune-teller separate us ever again.”
Sonia nodded into his shoulder.
Wallace directed Qiao Qiao back toward the garage where the others were waiting with both of his hands on her shoulders since he didn’t trust her enough to let her stand by the door to wait for Jacky and Sonia. Chen Yi turned to them as soon as he heard their footsteps.
“Well?” Chen Yi demanded.
“You guys won’t believe the silliness my relatives gotten themselves into,” Wallace said. “Maybe it’s because he’s too into Sonia to see it clear, but I could see some holes for us to fight back.”
Wallace spent the next ten minutes summarizing the situation to them. After he was done, Chen Yi–and not Ehlo–was the first one to speak up.
“Wow. So this is about some silly fortune-telling stuffs?”
“Great or what?” Wallace mocked. “And I thought it’s more complicated than that like…”
“His brain is too scrambled up to think of another plan.”
“I guess what people say is correct after all,” Bianca commented.
Johnny turned to her. “What?”
“Love is very, very blind.”
Johnny let out a laugh and slipped a hand around her shoulders.
Chen Yi turned to Wallace. “How long did it take you guys to cook up that scheme?”
“What scheme?” Qiao Qiao asked, confused.
Chen Yi turned to Qiao Qiao. “He’s going to explain.”
Wallace turned to Ehlo at that time, wondering what Chen Yi meant.
“He found us out,” Ehlo answered.
Chen Yi turned to Wallace. “They weren’t paying attention because Qiao was crying so hard earlier, but I was the only one paying enough attention to see you poking Ehlo from behind.”
“What?!” Qiao Qiao exclaimed.
“I told you they were sacrificing you. Why would I look at Wallace for if Ehlo was the one who went psycho?”
“All right, all right,” Wallace said. “You found us out. But you must admit it was a great opportunity to make Jacky give in.” He turned to Qiao Qiao. “Sorry, Qiao. We couldn’t pass the information to you in time but we didn’t know you were coming over.”
“We actually thought of the plan on the way back here,” Ehlo continued. “Wallace knows me too well and knows that I can’t just calm down like that when we get home so he wants to use it to our advantage to get Jacky to tell us the truth. It worked out better than we planned.” He turned to Qiao Qiao. “With your help, of course.”
“If Wallace wasn’t in on it, why did you guys think that he wouldn’t use himself as a shield for Jacky?” Chen Yi pointed out. “He pretended to pull Ehlo back but he was just…”
“For the record, I didn’t mean to hit him,” Ehlo jumped in, cutting Chen Yi off. “It just happened.”
“It was still obvious though.”
They stopped talking altogether at that time since they heard footsteps approaching them–again. They turned around to see Jacky and Sonia walking toward them–hand-in-hand.
“Still talking about us?” Jacky asked with a bright smile on his face.
Ehlo pointed at Jacky. “Glad to have you back.”
“Save the cheesy talk. As long as we’re still friends.”
Jacky sent an appreciative smile toward Ehlo before turning to Wallace. “You told them?”
“Seeing how brave you are, I’ve already save you the trouble,” Wallace teased.
The others held their tongues to wait for Jacky’s next words.
“I’m just curious about one thing.”
“What?” Chen Yi asked.
“How in the world did all the girls get here so fast when Wallace and I only talk for twenty minutes max?”
Qiao Qiao grinned. “They were over at Sam’s the whole time. We were going to plan a get together in a bit and call the others over later. But then Ehlo stormed in so we didn’t have time for that. They were waiting so long for our cue that they got impatient. Bianca called Johnny and he put her on speaker phone. That was how I accidentally told them about the fight. They came over right after that. Sonia couldn’t wait so she ran past us to the door. I ran after her and you guys know what happened after that. And…”
“Sorry I lied about the bracelet.”
Even though Sonia had been holding Jacky’s right hand the whole time since they left the house to find the others, but she didn’t realize he had been wearing it. She finally looked down at their linked hands to see the blue bracelet on his hand. She brought his hand up to eye level to observe it more carefully. She traced its contour with her other hand.
“It’s a friendship bracelet,” Jacky explained to her.
“No, it’s not,” Chen Yi contradicted him.
Jacky turned to Chen Yi, confused.
“It’s a lover’s bracelet,” Qiao Qiao said.
“Sonia made it for you,” Chen Yi continued.
Jacky turned back to Sonia.
“But she doesn’t know it either,” Qiao Qiao explained for Sonia.
“Could you two stop talking in codes?” Ehlo asked. “We’re getting impatient. And Ming Dao’s going to get jealous soon.”
“Don’t bring me into it,” Ming Dao mumbled, having no idea why Ehlo was even targeting him.
“All right,” Qiao Qiao said, attempting to bring the subject back on hand. “We were out shopping earlier with Tony, Cyndi, and some others. Then Penny wanted to check out some art stuffs.”
“Penny was with you guys?” Wallace asked.
“Yes,” Qiao Qiao answered casually. Then she snapped her attention back on him. “You saw us?”
“Wallace saw Tony and Cyndi first and then I got curious and cranked my neck to check on you guys,” Ehlo explained for them both.
“Oh. Anyway, we got some of the yarns because Penny persuaded us. So we ended up learning to make lover’s bracelet. Sonia was one of the first persons to finish. I said I really like it so I persuade her to give it to me so I could give it to…” She paused to look at Jacky. “…you and then…drum rolls, guys.”
“Get to the point already,” Chen Yi urged impatiently.
“So that when she comes over later, she could see you wearing it. But it works out in the end anyway.” She smiled a victory smile after saying that.
Sonia smiled back at Qiao Qiao as Jacky spoke up.
“I guess I’ll just have to keep wearing it then,” Jacky said.
“You know you want to,” Qiao Qiao teased. “Stop pretending.”
“Actually, I…” Sonia began.
The others turned to see Sonia taking out an identical blue bracelet as Jacky’s.
“I thought Qiao took it for herself so I made another one.”
Jacky smiled. “It’s okay, Miss Sui. We have a pair now.”
As if feeling the need to prove himself, he took the bracelet from Sonia and placed it onto her left hand.
“Just what we need,” Ehlo muttered. “A demonstration right in front of us.”
“Jealous?” Wallace asked.
“My eyes,” Ehlo shot back.
“Guys!” Johnny interfered. “We’re not here to attack each other.”
“What are we going to do for the rest of the afternoon?” Bianca asked.
For some strange reason, they–except for Jacky and Sonia–all turned to look at Wallace.
“Go back inside and think of a tactic to discredit the fortune-teller, of course,” Wallace said naturally.
“Don’t we have to take care of the company rule too?” Ehlo asked.
“They can work for another station but they’ll always have to face their families.”
“True. Oh yeah, should we call Uncle Ben and Aunt June back to tell them we succeeded?”
“Call them back but don’t tell them we succeeded because if words get around, Miss Snoop-slash-Tatter teller will get to work again.”
So all of them piled back inside to discuss about their next move as well as doing a little celebration of their small success. Ehlo and Wallace proved to be a very powerful duo after all. With joined forces, they can get things done faster than the others could predict. Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao weren’t as bad either with their teamwork. Since they’d already sort out everything, they should be able to make it through. Or so they hope.
© Friday, January 2nd, 2009
Re-posted: Wednesday, February 8th, 2011