Knowing his bad habits, Neng Xian comes in the morning to bring Xu Le breakfast. But when Neng Xian sees Lu Yi, her good mood cracks like a mirror, then jealousy, doubt, and sadness fall off simultaneously and shatter everywhere. Then “Bang”, Neng Xian is out of the door. Realizing what’s happening, Xu Le dashes out to stop Neng Xian.
Something, anything! Just, give me an explanation.
I… have no explanation. But please believe me. …
Neng left, Xu Le returns to his apartment to find Lu Yi up already. She apologizes for being out of character the night before and exclaims the absurd but irresistible human tendency to choose misery over happiness. Xu Le asks Lu Yi if she plans to give up Xiao Ma who loves her. She helplessly shakes her head and replies that the only thing she knows now is that as soon as she struggles free from her inner turmoil and reaches a decision, she will let Xiao Ma be the first to know.
Xu Le asks, “Can you let me know first?”
Lu Yi tilts her head and asks, “You are afraid that my decision will hurt Xiao Ma?”
“Are you not afraid?”
Lu Yi looks down and replies, “More afraid than losing Ah Hao.”
At work, Xiao Ma asks the listless Neng Xian to breakfast. While eating, Nancy asks Xiao Ma, if one day he finds out the one he loves is with someone else, what would he do. He replies that if that someone else loves her more than he does, he will wish them happy. After all, what’s better than two people who love each other? In the process of the conversation, a question is raised. Even Xiao Ma, who wears “love” on his sleeves cannot distinguish between love and adoration. So can the autonomic response of increased heart beat be a sign of love?
One day when Neng Zhen is over at Ah Hao’s little loft, she mentions her observation of Lu Yi not loving Xiao Ma whole heartedly. Instead, she observes, “Lu Yi might be in love with Xu Le.” Ah Hao laughed at the idea at first, but his smile froze when Neng Zhen tells him Neng Xian saw Lu Yi staying over night at Xu Le’s apartment.
The next day, Leo and his fellow photographer friend reconnects Ah Hao, Xu Le and Nancy together with a fund raiser plan that’s about to take place at Taipei 101. After everybody left, Ah Hao inquires Xu Le about Lu Yi. Xu Le takes immediate offense and cautions Ah Hao to take care of his own business instead, Ah Hao backs down, saying that he was only worried about Xu Le and Neng Xian. Nancy enters, Ah Hao leaves the room to let the couple settle their misunderstanding.
The two sat down at a dining table. Neng Xian asks Xu Le if he’s been well. He tell her he hasn’t been well since unpleasant things tends to congregate around him lately. She carefully asks him if he’s worried about her.
He replies that, “You are optimistic and open. When you are unhappy, you will eat a big meal, complain about whatever happened and you get over it.”
“Is this how you see me?” Nancy is obviously upset, she shuffles in her seat and finally asks, “Then are you worried about Lu Yi?”
Xu Le knods.
“Are you purposely trying to make me angry?”
“Is there a reason for me to try to make you angry? I am truly worried about her.”
“Can’t you just lie to me? Do you have to tell me the truth?”
“You want me to lie to you?”
“I.. don’t want you to lie to me, but.. what you just said is really hurtful.”
“That’s because you keep thinking towards the wrong direction.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s because you don’t trust me.”
“Can I trust you?”
“It’s for you to decide.”
Xu Le exits, leaving Neng Xian sitting by herself, contemplating.
Xu Le encounters Leo on the way out and agrees to finish the interview. Leo urges Xu Le to explain his choice of using the pen name “Leaf”. Xu Le explains:
Ever since childhood, I’ve been afraid of being noticed by people. I wish no one in the universe to know me. Therefore among friends, I rather choose to take a minor part. In my life, I wish I were just a minor character as well.
Every tree has leaves, but none of the leaves are destined to be the main character under focus.
Leo asks,”In the world of romance, each person is the main character. Is your avoidance of being noticed that’s keeping you from being in love?”
“I’ve never thought about that.”
“Then do you love Neng Xian?”
“Love is a weighty word.”
“You’ve never been in love, is that why you are unsure of whether you love Neng Xian or not?”
Xu Le proceeds to recount his almost comical meeting with Neng Xian for the first time to Leo. Leo suggests that it sounds strangely like love at first sight. To that, Xu Le replies,
“Just the way she is, her personality, is completely different from the female roles in my novel.”
“The women in your novel are morphed according to your ideas of a perfect woman?”
“I’ve studied your novels and I found a particular pattern. For instance, the men always take the dominating role and even though the men always love the women wholeheartedly, he always has to leave her. Why?”
Pause. “Because”, more pause, “departure is inevitable.”
Leo argues that the reason all of Leaf’s stories follow the same plot structure ending with the male protagonist leaving the female protagonist is because he is an orphan, he doesn’t have the courage to love so he leaves before he is abandoned. Xu Le gets angry, he yells across the table that Leo would never understand the lonesome feeling of trying to imagine a warm family gathering alone in a thin blanket on New Year’s eve, that sense of utter solitude. Leo starts to tear up and nods that he understands the feeling completely, because, he is, an orphan too.
Leo challenges Xu Le’s idea that being abandon directly translates into being unwanted and unloved by parents. He argues there is a thing called fate that forces people to make choices such as abandoning a beloved child. He takes Xu Le to see a poor lady who acquires her supplies from trash bags and claims that is Xu Le’s mother.
Xu Le realizes it’s just one of Leo’s tests to get Xu Le to open up, yet the possibility of her real parents being in the same disheartening situation somewhere in the world and letting go of the hatred that’s been keeping him intact is overwhelming. He goes to the only place he can find warmth – Neng Xian’s home. Neng Xian finds him standing in the rain, soaked from head to tie, in front of her house. The moment he sees her, he lets go of all the self-imposed constrains that’s been keeping him together and dissolves into a tight embrace while whispering, “Please, believe me ” before fainting in the rain. Neng Xian’s parents help carrying Xu Le in and and settles him down in the guest bedroom. Neng Xian enters after cleaning up to wipe Xu Le’s face. He wakes up, holding Neng Xian’s hand and asks for her to stay.
When Xu Le wakes up the next morning, he watches Nancy sleeping peacefully leaning on the rim of the bed, he takes out the ring (magically, out of thin air) and gently slips it onto Neng Xian’s left ring finger. Later the same morning, Leo swings by to say goodbye to everyone. He’s found what he wants to do and is leaving.
On the other hand, while everybody is unwilling to let Leo slip out of their lives so easily, life resumes pretty quickly. Neng Xian’s mother loses a large sum of money from the stock market. She goes to the temple to ask the Gods for direction. From there, she gets the idea that a wedding in the family will make everything well again. That very night, she starts to hint at Xu Le for being part of the family. She catches her opportunity when her husband accidentally chokes on his drink and starts to cough.
Oh Xu Le, Neng Xian’s father is the only man in the family, if anything happens to him, ohh! … (dramatic nose blowing) We don’t know how we can carry on without him… If only there is a second man in the family…. (looks over at Xu Le)
Umm… you can hire a butler.
…. Oh I mean man as a family member…
Auntie, I don’t think you can still give birth…
Xu Le sure is a straight arrow. Finally Neng Xian’s mother gives up and tells him straight out, “Have you thought about marrying our Neng Xian?” Now this time, Neng Xian’s father starts to cough hysterically, for real.