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Chapter 9 - Here I Am

Chin Chin returned home from the dance studio and found Fei in his room browsing the Internet on his computer.  She had been noticing Fei’s moodiness over the last few days; yet, she knew it had nothing to do with the fact that she was out getting physiotherapy from Nathaniel or the fact that she was helping him out at the dance studio.  In fact, Fei was happy that she was keeping herself busy and away from home so he could be left alone to his own demeanor.
Knowing Fei was trying hard to make life easy and comfortable for her, for that she was grateful.  Every morning, Fei would make sure there was breakfast for her when she got up.  Furthermore, he took care of all the household chores so that there was no cleaning for her to do.  Tonight was no exception.  Fei had all the dishes cleaned and put away; especially the drinking glasses.  Her dinner was neatly packed and placed on the dining table waiting to be warmed up in the microwave.
Most girls would envy Chin Chin for having such a thoughtful boyfriend who was capable of domestic chores.  However, she would had felt happier and honored if Fei’s heart was not torn because of another woman.
Though it was nice to be pampered, it was another mattered to be served out of indebtedness and guilt.  Chin Chin did not doubt Fei’s love and care for her, but she also knew it was not the kind of love that could rebuild their relationship.  And she knew for certain this was not the type of love that would make a healthy lasting marriage.
It wasn’t difficult for Chin Chin to accept that things between Fei and her had changed over the last three years; she no longer wanted to pretend they could pick up from where they left off.  She knew for certain there was no way to revive the same feelings they had for each other; and she accepted the fact that they simply weren’t as closed to each other as before her abduction.  She was very certain Fei hadn’t let go of his feelings for Kwan either.  Though she didn’t blame him, she was having the hardest time trying to get Fei to admit that to himself.  Chin Chin just didn’t know how to convey to him that things really did change and that it was okay to let go.
Chin Chin sensed Fei was very aware of their circumstances as well; it was obvious to everyone he knew that he was battling internally with his emotions.  Every night, when Chin Chin saw Fei playing Solitaire on his computer, she feared he would turn into the man in the famous ‘Solitaire’ song by The Carpenters.  She tried her old tactics of inserting the CD in his car, but it didn’t seem to have any impact on him at all.  And the more Chin Chin observed him from a quiet distance, the more it seemed as if…..
……Solitaire’s the only game in town, and every road that takes him, takes him down.  And by himself it’s easy to pretend he’ll never love again.  And keeping to himself he plays the game.  Without her love it always ends the same.  While life goes on around him everywhere, he’s playing Solitaire…..
Chin Chin believed the only person who could pull Fei out from his indifference was Kwan.  But with Kwan going abroad to America, Chin Chin feared Fei would keep his untold caring heart in his silence and be buried in the ground with him.
Tonight, while Chin Chin was warming her food in the microwave, Fei came into the kitchen to check in on her.  When he only acknowledged her return without making a fuss about the time of night and not nagging her for not calling to tell him her of her whereabouts, she knew her status had become more of a sister than a girlfriend.  The man she almost married three-and-a-half year ago would have demanded to know of her whereabouts to the second of the day.
Ceasing the moment, Chin Chin suggested they listen to a song together.  The song she had in mind was the one playing in the taxi that took her home.  While Fei was getting the cutleries for her, she headed to the living room and turned on the CD player to search for that particular song.  To her surprise, the CD was sitting in the player.    As soon as the intro to ‘After the Love Has Gone’ by Earth, Wind & Fire came on, Fei knew immediately the message she was trying to tell him. 
Kwan was once again surprised by the number of people who came to see her off at the airport and she had to work hard to hold back her emotions.  Although she cherished her family and friends, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed when Fei was not among them.  He had not even contacted her since that night at the Farewell Party three weeks ago.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in jeans and carrying a backpack,” Gigi commented.
“Got to get comfortable for a 20-hour flight,” Kwan replied. “I am looking forward to days when I don’t need to dress up at all, like work in my pajamas!”
Korean gave his senior boss a pat on the back. “Yau Sir!  How about putting that recommendation in for us?”
“You would be charged for indecent exposure!” Gigi blurted at Korean.
“Eh?  How would you know what kind of pajamas he wears?” Pong Sir teased Gigi.  “Or not?” 
The rest of the unit joined in and created a loud roar of laughter.  Gigi quickly covered her month in embarrassment.
“Told you not to talk without thinking,” Korean nagged her.
While the couple was getting all the attention, Chin Chin pulled Kwan aside.  “Don’t be mad at Fei for not coming.  He is still unable to accept the fact that you are leaving.”
Kwan felt her heart sink a bit.  She didn’t want to be so transparent.  She forced a smile on her face.  “I am used to it.”
“I will scold him for you,” said Chin Chin.  “I just can’t believe he wouldn’t listen to me.  I told him he has to come and see you off.”
Kwan touched Chin Chin’s shoulder and put on a sincere smile this time.  “Don’t worry about me.  When I’m gone, you and Fei can start to mend your relationship.  Just give him time, he’ll come around.”
“Kwan,” Chin Chin shook her head.  “Fei and I are over.  Our feelings for each other are not the same anymore.  I don’t want to be treated like an ancient treasure from the past.  And I don’t want our relationship to be like an artifact.  To him, I am like a piece of fragile glass that needs to be handled with care.”
Kwan understood what Chin Chin meant, but she didn’t want to add anymore to the conversation because she really needed to get away from thinking about Fei.  She looked at her watch and led Chin Chin back to join the rest of the group.
“It’s time for me to clear immigration.  I have to learn my way through this new airport.” Kwan smiled and started to put on her scarf and jacket.
“Already?”  Bui Yee looked at her own watch and was surprised how quickly time had gone.
“But Fei is not here yet.”  Ah Kit started looking around the airport as if he was expecting to see Fei among the crowd.
“He didn’t say he was coming.”  Kwan told her brother and then she proceeded to take out her passport and boarding pass from her backpack.  Afterwards, she secured the straps over her shoulders and started to say her final goodbyes to her friends and family.
Kwan had another 10 minutes to spare, but she didn’t want to stay till the last second just in case Fei never showed up.  She figured if Fei was late, she would eventually hear about it.  Then she would feel better knowing he cared enough to see her off.  But as it stood, she believed he wasn’t going to show up at all.  She needed this extra time to be left alone and to bring her emotions to a final closure.
Just when her heart was prepared to leave it all behind, Fei once again appeared and triggered the faintest hope inside her heart.  After hugging Chi Shan, she saw Fei running down the hallway towards her direction.
“Tsui Sir is here!” Gigi cheered and was quickly joined in by everyone with the same excitement in seeing Fei approaching.
“Does that mean you are staying?” Chi Shan whispered for only Kwan to hear.  She gave him a glare for being ridiculous.
“He bought the Farewell card for all of us to sign.”  Chi Shan told Kwan.  He only left out the part that he was the one who told Fei to choose a card that the group wanted to chip in for.  But after Fei bought the card, he wouldn’t take their money.  “You have to give him credit for that!”
Kwan wasn’t buying it.  “Right, but he didn’t sign it.”
Fei rushed up and stopped just before running into Kwan.  “Sorry!”  He was breathless but still managed to apologize.  “I’m here!”
“You always have a way of making a grand entrance!” Kwan smiled, yet trying to hold back her unraveling emotions.  “Thanks for coming, but I have to go through immigration now.”
Kwan noticed everyone had retreated several feet away to give Fei some private time with her.  Fei reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out a gift box.  “I had to finish downloading all these songs for you.”
Kwan looked at the clean white rectangular box with a red ban around it.  “What is it?”  She then noticed an apple icon on the box.
“It’s the latest Apple iPod!”  Fei replied.  “There are 200 songs in it!”
Without opening the beautiful white box, Kwan had no idea how the iPod worked or what it was.  But she thought the device would be too small for her player.  “But I only have a CD player.”
Fei gave his dimple smile, the one was making Kwan’s knees weak.  He then pulled out another gift and placed it in her hands together with the iPod box.  “Just in case it takes you longer than the flight to figure out how to use the iPod, I made a CD for you as well.”
Kwan noticed there was a card taped to the CD case.
Fei saw her query look and suddenly turned bashful.  “The card has the list of the songs on the CD and the iPod.”  He cleared his throat.  “All your favorite songs.”
Kwan could feel her hand was about to shake, so she quickly hugged the gifts to her chesk.  “All my favorite songs?” 
“And our song!”  Fei added.
“Our song?” Kwan tried to sound nonchalant as she looked him in the eyes. She wondered which song he had chosen to be their song.  “We have a song?”
“You’ll see when you read the card on the plane,” Fei said nervously.  He feared Kwan would refuse to take his gifts, but relieve came over him when she thanked him before calling out to Bui Yee for help in putting the gift items into her backpack.
As Bui Yee obliged, she did a double take when she saw what was inside the backpack.  After the backpack was secured, Kwan turned around to face Fei again and offered him a handshake.  Kwan knew there was no way she could allow their physical distance to be closer or she would have a complete melt down.  Just feeling the touch of his hand was bad enough. 
“Take good care of yourself.  Cherish your time with Chin Chin and don’t waste any more time on me.”  She forced a smile and whispered a soft goodbye as she tried to retrieve her hand.
But Fei wouldn’t let go.  Instead, he wanted her to know a simple truth.  “I never wasted any time on you.  It was time well invested.”
With a slight struggle, Kwan managed to pull her hand away from his.  But she couldn’t respond to what he said.  So she turned to face her family and friends to give a quick wave and quickly walked through the departure gate.  She couldn’t look back because her eyes were clouded with tears and she was getting emotional.  She much so the immigration officers didn’t bother to stop her for questioning at all.
Fei stood motionless as he watched Kwan walked through the immigration gate with her head down.  When Bui Yee nudged him, he turned to see what she wanted. 
“She’s not over you yet.”  Bui Yee assured him.  “Last month, she was planning to give away your diary and your bottle of stars as charity.  I just saw them inside her backpack!” 
Ending Song = Here I Am by Air Supply