I moaned hoarsely when I felt someone nudge me by the shoulder, waking me up. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Reese's face a few inches away from mine. What the hell? My eyes widen in surprise that I almost want to push his face out of my sight. Napaka-weird talaga ng lalakeng 'to. Hindi niya ba alam kung ano yung 'personal space'? He's definitely crossing the line!
"What the hell are you doing?" I complained and felt my back making that crack sound when I tried to straighten it. "Ow."
"Sorry, kanina pa kita ginigising." Aniya sabay bukas ng car door sa side niya.
"Yeah, you can wake me up without putting your face next to mine." I rolled my eyes. He just shrugged his shoulders and backed away. Gigisingin na nga lang may palapit-lapit pa ng mukha. Habang nagra-rant sa sariling isipan ay muntik ko nang makalimutan yung libro na hawak-hawak ko kanina. I quickly glanced down at my hands and I sighed in relief when I saw the closed book resting on my right palm.
"What's that?" Tanong ni Reese nang makita ang maliit na librong hawak ko.
Agad kong itinago ito sa loob ng bag ko at napatingin sa paligid. Wala na sina Georgie at Janji. Teka, iniwan nila akong tulog kasama 'tong... 'tong... ugok na 'to? The blood from my body rose up to my head. They're so screwed, alright. Alam kong balak ng dalawang 'yon i-set up ako kasama si Reese dahil akala nila may mangyayaring kakaiba kapag kami lang dalawa ang magkasama. Ugh, all these thoughts are getting me nowhere. Kasalanan talaga 'to ng dalawang 'yon!
"Sa'n na sila? Ba't 'di nila 'ko ginising?" Reklamo ko habang nakakunot ang noo.
"Was that your book?" He looked at me with concern in his eyes. As if he knew what was written inside. As if!
I tried to calm myself from all the possible questions why he suddenly has the audacity to have this conversation with me inside my friend's car and what has gotten into him that he got interested with my book. Nakita niya ba? Nabasa niya ba? If he did, why is it still on my hand? Did he just put it back there when I was asleep? Naguguluhan ako sa mga pinag-iisip ko.
"It's none of your business," I rolled my eyes and continued, "Also, stop changing the topic. Tinatanong kita." I ask, raising a brow at him.
"You're the one changing the topic. I asked you first." He answered with a low chuckle.
I shook my head and packed my bag. "Why are you interested, anyway? As if naman ipapahiram ko sa 'yo 'to." I laughed sarcastically and opened the door to my side.
"Okay," he sighs. "Never mind, then. I was just curious if you think I'm the kind of person who'd take a little peak while you were aslee—"
Muntik na akong mahulog sa kotse nang marinig ang sinabi niya. Not only did my eyeballs almost went out from their sockets, but my mouth gaped open in horror. I'm doomed. Seriously, it kinda looks like I'm overreacting over a book right now, but it's more than that. Nobody knows about what happened and the least person I want to show this book with is Reese. He just... can't!
"What the fu—"
"Hey, chill!" He was laughing his ass out. I want to punch his perfect jawline, maybe by then he won't be so perfect anymore. "I was kidding, Fel! You were ready to slap me there!"
"Asshole! And don't call me Fel! Hindi tayo close." I say through gritted teeth, pulling myself together before I do what he just thought I'd do.
"Ow, I thought we were. Are you mad at me?" He said with pleading eyes. I pursed my lips for a second but it didn't last that long. Bigla akong na-guilty nang makita ang mukha niyang nagmamakaawa. As if I saw that face before.
I was about to loosen up a bit when he started laughing at me again.
"Stop laughing!" Reklamo ko, bumabalik ang init ng dugo ko sa lalakeng 'to. He's getting into my nerves!
"Why would I? Look at you!" He laughs again. "Your face is so red; I'd think you're a tomato!"
I sighed to myself and went out the car. Arguing with Reese won't get me anywhere, anyway. We shouldn't even be talking in the first place. I don't know why I deal with that kind of guy.
"Hey, Fel—I mean, Felina. Wait for me." He paced at me after locking the car doors behind. I just scoffed and ignored his presence beside me.
"Damn, you're really hot-headed, aren't you?" He smiles, shaking his head while looking straight ahead.
The school wasn't that grand. It was a simple Elementary School and lots of little kids scatter around their small campus. May mga batang naghahabulan, naglalaro ng Chinese garter, at kung anu-ano pang gawain ng mga tipikal na bata. Some kids also started to recognize our unfamiliar faces and we caught their attention and they started to gaze at Reese and I walking together. Walking together... I wanted to cringe at that thought. I walked faster, leaving Reese behind.
"Felina!" Lakad-takbo itong sumunod sa 'kin.
Of course, he has long legs, he'd catch up with me faster than my legs would take me. I shook my head and directed my gaze to other directions.
"Ba't ka ba sunod ng sunod sa 'kin? Are you my bodyguard or something?" Reklamo ko.
"Geez, woman. I'm not following you. In fact, you should follow me to our spot. I just went back for you just in case you get lost inside here." If we were in a romantic movie, maybe my heart would swoon and I'd get lovey-dovey eyes knowing someone came back for me so I wouldn't be lost if I go here inside this small campus. However, (1) this is not—and will never be—a romantic movie (2) He's bossy and I don't like bossy people bossing around feeling like a boss when they really aren't (3) I will never be lost inside a small school! I'm not a kid anymore and I can go all over the place in every corner if I had to. If he's feeling like he's some kind of a knight and shining armor from the fairytales? Nah-ah, that won't work on me.
"Whatever, Reese." I rest my case in trying to explain myself to this guy. After all, he did try to wake me up. Kung hindi niya ako ginising baka hindi na ako makatulong dito sa outreach na gagawin nila. I wasn't here for a sleepover, after all. Maybe I owe him that one.
"Thanks." I say, almost in a whisper.
"What did you say? I can't hear you." He smirks and crosses his arms beside me.
"What is wrong with you?" I raised my voice, catching the attention of some kids that pass around us. I calmed myself when I saw Reese's smirk getting wider. He's really enjoying this, huh.
"What's wrong with me? I wasn't the one who woke up at the wrong side of the bed." He begins to laugh at me again.
I opened my mouth to answer when someone called for us.
"Hi, babe!" I mean, someone called for Reese.
"Hi." He answers back with a small smile, the smirk no longer on his face and his crossed arms extended wide open for a hug.
And there's that. I just saw with my both eyes, exactly in front me, as Xierra and Reese embraced each other with longing and whatnot. It was awkward that I had to look away for a moment.
"Let's go, baby." Xierra whispers in his ear, hooking up her arm around his waist.
"Sure," he calmly says and starts to walk past when he saw me. As if he forgot I even existed. "Oh, Felina, sunod ka na lang sa 'min, 'kay?"
He didn't wait for a response as he pulls Xierra with him, gliding the narrow corridors. Xierra flashed a smile at me before turning her back at me and started chatting with Reese along the way.
"I said thank you, jerk." I whispered. My lips curved upward as I stare at their backs, though, it didn't reach my eyes. I sighed and was about to take a step when a small hand held my arm.
I was staring at a little girl with her three friends behind her back as they look at me with pity in their eyes. Wait, what? What are these kids up to?
"Bakit?" Tanong ko sabay ngiti. I kneeled on one knee to level my face with hers. She has small, round eyes with short hair that were pulled up into pigtails. There were two missing teeth at the front of her mouth as she smiles, but it didn't make her less cute than she is. "May problema ba? Nakatanggap na ba kayo ng mga pagkain?" Tanong ko.
"Hindi pa po. Mamaya pa daw sabi ni teacher," ngiti niya pabalik sa 'kin. "Boyfriend mo ba 'yon, ate?" Tanong niya sabay turo sa kanila ni Reese. Their image was smaller now, and some of our colleagues are already there, unpacking some goodies for the kids. I should be there by now. But wait... boyfriend? Anong pinagsasabi ng batang 'to?
"H-huh?" Sa sobrang kulang sa tulog, hindi ko alam kung bakit ganito ang sagot ko sa tanong ng isang bata. Baka isipin niyang totoo ang hinala niya. "H-hin—"
"Nako, ate, okay lang yan! Makaka-move on ka rin sa kanya, 'te."
"Oo nga, maganda ka naman ate, meron pang ibang mas pogi." Dagdag nung kaibigan niya habang humahagikhik. Kulot ang buhok nito at may tumutulong sipon sa ilong niya. Napangiti ako dito at kinuha ang panyo sa bulsa ng pantalon ko sabay punas ng sipon niya. I was also wearing a maroon shirt with a design that says about our advocacy for these kids we're helping. It melts my heart seeing the smiles of these children.
"Nako, kayo talagang mga bata kayo! Sa'n niyo 'yan natututunan, ha? Kasama ba 'yan sa klase?" Tanong ko nang may ngiti sa labi.
"Hindi po! Yung ate kasi ni Jelay may boypren din tapos iniwan siya!" Sagot nung isang lalakeng kaibigan nitong si Jelay na kumalabit sa akin.
"Hindi lang iniwan, ate. Pinagpalit pa sa iba!"
Naghiyawan ang mga bata nang sabihin 'yon ng batang kulot ang buhok. Tuwang-tuwa ako sa mga batang ito, hindi ko na rin napigilang mapatawa. Ang dami nilang alam.
"Nako, kayong mga bata kayo!" Tawa ko sabay tayo. "Tara, sama kayo sa 'kin. Maraming food doon sa mga kasama ko, bibigyan ko kayo." Aya ko.
Jelay held my hand and her friends followed us as we walk to our long table where there are other kids from other grades lining up to also get their food. I was enjoying talking to Jelay and her friends about their school life when I felt someone staring at me. I looked up, only to see Reese looking straight at me with a grin on his face. I was about to give in and smile back when Xierra walked to him from behind me, bringing a kid to his direction. I couldn't help but felt embarrassed within that few seconds. What was I thinking?
I shrugged the thought away and went to Georgie and Janji's line, guiding Jelay and her friends to fall in line to get their food. I was blaming the two of them and they kept on saying sorry, though I doubt if they really are sorry.
I decided to take a look at Reese for a bit. I don't know why my stomach fluttered when I caught him staring right back at me. No, he wasn't just looking at me. He was looking at us, I suppose. I think. The stares only lasted for a few seconds since I looked away as fast as I can, ignoring that tensed moment. I have no idea what was that for. I ignored the thumping feeling in between my ribcage and decided to go on with the day as normal as possible. I focused my attention on my phone instead and saw a text from Oli, wishing me luck to do my best with the kids. I smiled to myself as I take a breath. Today's gonna be a great day.
After the outreach program—to which I enjoyed so much—we played a lot of games, ate food, and educated the students by standing up in front of them while hosting for lessons about hygiene, right manners and proper etiquette, and whatnot. The whole SG went to stop by a wide highway a few miles away from the school to breathe some fresh air and discuss what we need to do next since we're already done with the to-do tasks for the day. We were excused from our classes for the whole day and it's currently two in the afternoon. I rode with Georgie and Janji all the way here, but Reese didn't go with us since he got his car ride with his girl. I'm actually glad he decided not to go with us. With that, I was saved from the embarrassment.
The SG President told us that we can go home or do anything aside from going home, to which I presume a day-off from school classes but not exempted from school works. Although, kailangang bumalik ng iba para ligpitin ang mga natirang mga gamit na ginamit sa outreach kanina. I'm glad I wasn't part of the assigned team.
Others started to leave the side pavement while others were still chit-chatting with each other. I asked Georgie if we could leave and she said we should stay a little longer as it was a tiring day and she doesn't want to drive to school yet. Hindi na ako nagreklamo dahil naiintindihan ko namanz I just thought I wanted to leave first so I wouldn't see these two lovebirds—and by lovebirds, I meant Xierra and Reese—who's flirting and laughing with each other at the back of Xierra's car compartment. They're a few distance away from me and I swear they're almost standing on the road.
I was shaking my head while looking at them. Reese shot a sideway glance at me when he realized I was looking, and as he raised a brow, I quickly look away and my eyes widened in horror when I saw a sportscar racing past this way. My knees went numb from seeing how fast the car's speed is, and like I said earlier, Reese and Xierra were standing too near to the road; but Reese is more on the danger side. Hindi ba siya nagiisip?
I hurriedly ran to Reese, and I swear Xierra saw the car too, but if she wasn't so caught up in the moment, she could have pulled Reese to her side to save him from getting bumped by a car. There was no time to scream at her so I pulled Reese by the arm myself before the car flattens him and we flew backwards with a great force. Ang bilis ng mga pangyayari at hindi ko namalayang nakadagan na si Reese sa 'kin kung hindi ko binuksan ang mga mata ko.
He was looking at me, horrified from the almost hit-and-run moment he'll be getting in his entire life. Stupid, I cursed in my mind. Everything and everyone stopped from what they're doing and stared down at us with confused and surprised look on their faces. I can feel Reese's hot breath on my face and I can also feel how fast his heart beats against my own. I wonder if he feels it too. My heart. Pumping blood as fast as it could. I wanted him to hear my thoughts—of how dumbfounded I was and how stupid he can get.
"Y-you..." were the first words that fell off from his mouth.
"Oh my gosh, Reese, babe!" Xierra butts in as she pulls Reese's weight up from my body.
He sat right up, still looking at me. I winced when I felt a pang of pain on my elbows.
"Ow." I whispered when I felt the blood oozed from the wound I got. Xierra was holding Reese by the shoulder but he towered on me and tried to wrap his arms around me. Now I feel more dumbfounded than I was earlier. Why would he? In front of these people? In front of... Xierra? No.
"Don't." I told him in a low voice while I keep my tears at bay. My anger rose up and I want to punch him in the face—real—this time.
"Felina, I'm so sorr—"
I didn't let him finish what he's supposed to say as his face turns red from the slap I gave him just now. I don't understand how and why did I do it, I just wanted to. I'm just mad. He could've been in an accident by now. He could've died. He could've...
"I'm sorry," Was his last words before some of them pulled him away from me. I couldn't look at him in the eyes and my wounds and scratches are starting to hurt from the impact.
"Ang tanga mo, Reese!" I screamed at him, leaving the others looking at me. I couldn't think of what their reaction might be, but I'm sure they're pretty confused since they don't know Reese and I know each other that much, or that we know each other at all.
"Felina, tama na, please. You already saved Reese and—"
"Xierra, stop." Pigil sa kanya ni Reese. "Let her, I deserve it."
"What?" She looks at him with disbelief. She looked back at me confused, as if there was something she didn't know.
Truth is, there's nothing she should know. There's nothing about this.
"How could you be so stupid?" I scoffed, standing up to my feet as Georgie and Janji holds both of my arms.
"Felina, that's enough. Dadalhin ka na namin sa clinic." Georgie whispers at my ear.
Tears fell from my eyes and I harshly wiped it away.
"No," I protest. Some of our colleagues tried to stop me from saying all these things to Reese but they were stopped by the others and told them they should just let me. "Reese needs to hear this."
He couldn't even look at me. As if he knows it was his fault this all happened in the first place.
"You shouldn't risk your life saving someone else's. Right, Reese?" I said firmly. He wouldn't budge. Xierra looked at me, and then at Reese. She was clearly dismayed from what's going on. I want to laugh at this situation we're in. Nobody really knew everything.
When he didn't answer, I continued saying the last words before I leave with Georgie and Janji back to our school's clinic.
"It's just not worth it. You said it yourself," I took a deep breath and lowered my voice, making sure only he could hear my words. "I swore I wouldn't let myself be close to you. We shouldn't even be talking in the first place; but look at me, saving your ass once again. How many times do I have to hurt myself just to save you?"
I didn't wait for his response; and just like that, I turned my back and left. Again.
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