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et tunc est


"true love never ends well
although false affection will flourish"


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part one

( (meeting) )

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The first time they meet, he's the nervous businessman fluttering anxiously door to door for a client, clipboard in hand and smart-looking tie fastened neatly on his bosom. His mother is sick with some serious disease with a complicated pronunciation, his father long gone from the household, and the once ample money in their bank account is dwindling at a terrifying pace (food-housing-hospital-tax).

The encounter isn't not really anything notable, though; he only catches a glimpse of her through the threshold as one of her numerous half-siblings—a young man, with square glasses and golden eyes that could pierce through concrete—politely refuses his services, before the door is closed and he has no choice but to turn back.

Later, when his mother recovers miraculously (the doctors are all stumped but the results don't lie) and the family income is once again stable, he thinks back on those terrifying, long-gone days, and remembers the fancy white house that had turned him away.


He sees her again at the noodle shop on South Street, but he does not know, will not know, that this is their second meeting. She's prettily dressed, white blouse over a flower-print dress, with the air of one who is waiting for another. There is a weathered purple purse at her side, out-of-place with her pristine outfit, but he finds it strangely endearing, watching it pressed against her slim form. It suits her, in a way, and from all the stares that are directed in her direction, he is not the only one who thinks so.

He's not the first one to approach her, although he's the only suitor who makes an impression (whether good or bad, he will not specify). "Hey," he says, watching the last embers of his cigarette float down onto the ground. "Nice day, isn't it?"

"That's not good for you," is all she says, tight-lipped and proud. She stares past him, her gaze searching, before it focuses back on him in earnest annoyance. He smiles inwardly at her open hostility—what can he say? He has always enjoyed a good challenge.

"I'm Wang Tai-Pei," he says, settling comfortably on the seat opposite her. With a sharp flick of the wrist, the cigarette falls cleanly into a nearby trash bin. "Like the city in Taiwan, same tone and all, only different characters. And who may you be, beautiful?"

She stares down at him, flicking her dark brown hair over her shoulder until only a few stubborn locks remain, framing her face in the afternoon sunlight. "Save your flattery for someone who will actually believe it," she says, her tone cold, like ice and snow and liquid nitrogen. "Your ancestors would be ashamed if they were to hear of such vile things coming from your mouth."

"Are you saying that you honestly don't know you're beautiful?" Tai-Pei grins, extending his arm forwards and leaning his head on it. "My ancestors would not mind me speaking the tongue of angels, after all."

She flushes slightly, pink brushing over her nose and cheeks, although it is hardly noticeable. "I have a boyfriend already. Please leave me be."

He doesn't budge, instead reaching into his pocket for another cigarette to hide his internal disappointment. "And what boyfriend is he, leaving a pretty girl unattended in such a busy street?"

"A good one. And he's right behind you," she says, and he turns his head to look into the impassive face of a young man, with square glasses and golden eyes that could pierce through concrete. In his distracted state, she stands up, her chair scraping against concrete, linking arms with this handsome stranger. "Guang-Du, let's go."

The man named Guang-Du nods silently, shooting an unreadable look at Tai-Pei. In an instant, they are gone, leaving himself sitting at an empty table as the chuckles of the other felled suitors resound around him.

Tai-Pei, for once, doesn't care. Instead, he wonders why the young man had looked so familiar, although his mind quickly reverts back to the mysterious girl once again.

Perhaps this is obsession. For him, it is love.


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