Things started to get awkward after that night. Iniiwasan ko siya sa campus at sa bahay unless tungkol sa school works o kina Chloe at Clark ang usapan. He already noticed my change of behavior but to make the matter worse, instead of ignoring me, too, he'd just stare at me like I was an interesting specimen.
"He's stressing me out," I complained as soon as I sat down.
"You mean, you're in love," Queenie retorted. I rolled my eyes in return.
"Why are you always here?" tanong ko naman dahil nakatambay na naman siya rito sa spot ko sa library.
"Oh, do you want me to leave?"
"Okay, then. Good luck sa pag-upo rito ng lalaking iniiwasan mo," bigla naman niyang sabi at nakita ko si Jazer na nakatingin sa direksyon namin. Anong ginagawa niya rito?! "Bye-bye, wit—"
"Wait!" Napahinto naman siya sa pagtayo. She looked at me with a smug on her face.
"Yes?" I swear, I'd hit her one day.
"Offer, rejected. Sorry." She stood up and for a second, I saw Jazer eyeing that seat.
"Please!" Napahinto naman siya at lalo lang akong nainis dahil sa pagngiti niya. She sat down again, and this time, she was annoyingly confident about what she just did.
"The witch pleaded. I accept the offer."
"I hate you," I said with much displeasure.
"I get that a lot, witch. C'mon, be unique."
"This is why Iñigo left you," I retorted.
"Excuse me? I," sabay turo niya sa sarili niya, "left him. Not the other way around."
We glared at each other but after several seconds of killing each other in our heads, we calmed down and she decided to sleep. Kung hindi ba naman abnormal ang babaeng 'to.
Nilibot ko naman ang paningin ko sa paligid at mukhang wala na si Jazer. Nakahinga ako nang maluwag. However, I saw someone who seemed to be eyeing our place, too. Tumayo naman ako at lumapit siya sa akin.
"She's yours," I said while glancing at the sleeping bitch.
Iñigo smiled. "Thanks."
Umalis ako ro'n at umupo naman siya sa pwesto ko. He was just watching her sleep as if she was the most precious person in the world. His eyes were full of tenderness and for a second, I was envious of how he looked at her.
Pumasok ako sa afternoon classes ko pero parang lumulutang lang ang utak ko. Muntik pa akong mapahiya kanina sa klase dahil bigla akong tinawag ng prof ko. Buti na lang nasagot ko siya nang tama.
"Saan ka na, Kuya Larry?" tanong ko dahil gusto ko nang umuwi.
"Maya-maya pa. Magsabay na kayo ni Jazer," sabi naman niya sa kabilang linya.
"Ha?! Ayoko, mauuna na ako," I insisted but he ignored me.
"After 30 minutes. Bye!"
Tumambay na lang ako sa bench area pero nag-panic ako nang may makita akong mga 'di kanais-nais. The Queeñigo-turned-Katrina tards found their way to me and stood in front of me, with their not-so-intimidating presence.
"Leave Katrina alone," the girl on the right said.
"You're going to ruin her."
"Isa kang bad influence. Bad luck."
Hindi ko naman sila pinansin at patuloy lang na tinitingnan ang mga taong dumaraan sa gilid. Of course, they got pissed and when one of them was about to approach me, I shifted my gaze at them and smirked.
"Sorry, I didn't know toads can talk."
Hindi ko alam kung ano ang mas nakakatawa: 'yong hindi sila kaagad nakapag-react at nakasagot o ang pagtawa ng isang barkada sa kabilang bench dahil narinig nila ang usapan namin.
Huh. They deserved that. At ito ba ang itinuturing na mga kaibigan ngayon ni Katrina? No wonder she became worse.
Okay, I didn't expect them to be that angry, given that they really looked like toads, full offense. The girl in the middle grabbed my shirt's neckline, her nails digging in my skin, while the two went to each of my side, shrouding me from bystanders.
"Akala mo matapang ka?" she fumed. "Puro ka lang salita! Dapat matagal na naming ginawa 'to."
For a second, my feisty facade dissolved in thin air. My knees felt weak. I wanted to scream for help. And he was the first person I thought of. But I didn't.
I didn't yell but I froze when she swatted my phone from my hand and heard the screen crack. My files are safe but still, she did something unforgivable. The fear I felt a while ago turned fury and I punched her face hard. Her eyes flashed with fury and I knew I would be hurt but I glared back. She was about to return my punch but it didn't touch me. The next thing I knew, I was already staring at someone's back. He protected me.
"At sino ka naman?!" pagalit na tanong ng isa.
"Jazer . . ." I called but my voice faltered. I couldn't see his face but his shoulders were tensed.
"Pumapatol ako sa mga babaeng katulad n'yo," he said in a calm yet frightening tone.
Natigilan silang tatlo at may sasabihin na naman sanang walang kwenta 'yong humawak sa akin pero hindi ko siya hinayaan. Pumunta ako sa harapan ni Jazer at mabilis kong hinablot ang ID lace niya. Tiningnan ko ang buo niyang pangalan at sinilip ko naman 'yong sa dalawa.
"Ano ba!" the one I punched complained as she swatted my hand.
"Chloe," tawag ni Jazer at akmang ilalagay niya ulit ako sa likuran niya pero pinigilan ko siya. Kinalma ko ang sarili ko at tiningnan ang tatlong sumira ng araw ko. The one I punched was still holding her nose and I smirked at that sight.
"Puro salita lang ako? Duwag ako? You want me to make a move? Fine!" I said while trying to control my anger. She deserved that punch but I won't resort to another barbaric retaliation. I held my head high. "You messed with an Esguerra. You will be dealt by the Esguerra," I snapped back and their faces went pale. "Scared now? Watch as your businesses go down the drain and I'll inform your families that it's your fault."
Hindi na maipinta ang mga mukha nila. Maybe they forgot that I am an Esguerra and should be treated as one. Hindi ako santa at lalong wala akong pasensya sa mga taong hindi karespe-respeto.
"You angered the witch. Enjoy her curses."
And that was the last day I saw them.
"Ouch," I muttered, pulling my hand away from his.
Bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko. Kanina pa siya hindi nagsasalita. Nakakatakot siya kapag ganito.
Habang binebendahan niya ang kamay ko ay naalala ko lahat ng nangyari kanina. We didn't say anything to Kuya Larry when he arrived. We were quiet the whole ride. Pagdating namin sa bahay ay dumiretso ako sa kwarto pero makalipas ang ilang minuto ay pumasok si Jazer na hindi man lang kumakatok. I was about to yell at him but he grabbed my hand and looked at the wound I got from punching that toad's face. That was when I realized he was holding a first-aid kit.
Matapos niyang bendahan ang sugat ko ay hahatakin ko na sana pabalik ang kamay ko pero bigla namang humigpit ang hawak niya. I was sitting on the edge of my bed and he was kneeling in front of me, which made it awkward. He avoided the wounded area but I still felt a stinging sensation. His eyes met mine and I wanted to avert his gaze but I couldn't. I was drawn to his worried look.
"Masakit pa ba?" tanong niya at parang may kung anong umikot sa tiyan ko.
"No. I-I'm fine."
Another wave of silence. Suffocating silence. Hindi rin nakakatulong ang pagre-reminisce ko sa nangyari last time at kung paano ko indirectly sinabi ang feelings ko. Damn, I was an idiot that time.
Bahagya naman siyang natawa.
"What?" iritable kong tanong.
"Namamansin ka na," he said with his dimple coming out.
Hinatak ko ang kamay ko dahil nakaka-intimidate na ang tingin at ngiti niya pero ang bwisit, hindi pa rin binibitiwan at mukhang may balak pang mang-asar.
"Bitiwan mo," I warned but he kept smiling.
Sinipa ko siya sa tuhod at na-out of balance siya, pero ang problema, hindi niya binitiwan ang kamay ko. I ended up getting pulled by him and I cursed inside my head when I fell on top of him. Just like that time.
I immediately stood up, afraid that he might hear my racing heart. Damn it, please tell me he didn't feel that!
"Umalis ka na nga!" sigaw ko sabay tulak sa kanya palabas nang makatayo siya. Hindi naman siya nagreklamo.
Isasara ko na sana 'yong pinto pero nagulat ako nang bigla akong may naramdamang opposing force sa kabila. He placed his foot between the door and its casing, preventing me from closing it completely.
"What do you want?!" pagalit kong tanong para umalis na siya pero hindi natinag ang bwisit.
"May nakalimutan akong sabihin," he muttered.
"Ano?" I was trying to push back his foot using mine but it was like an anchor. I couldn't move it!
"You looked really cool a while ago," he responded and that made me stop moving. "Hindi mo na kinailangan ang tulong ko."
No, you saved me, I wanted to say but I remained silent.
"I already know that. Now, go away," pagtaboy ko pero ayaw niya pa ring umalis.
"May isa pa akong sasabihin."
"Ano na naman?"
Ilang segundo siyang natahimik at akala ko ay nantitrip na naman siya. I was about to push him out but I heard him taking a deep breath.
"Stop confusing me, too," he muttered and immediately ran away.
I stood frozen on my doorway, wondering if I heard that right. And now, I'm standing on that line . . . again. More confused than ever.