I wasn’t sure how I managed to walk away from that place. My eyes were stinging from the tears. My heart felt like it was being torn apart. I wanted to explain everything to them but I was afraid. Too afraid to even call their names.
This was supposed to be my last day as an administrator. This day was supposed to be freeing. But it turned out this would be the day I’d lose everything I treasure.
“I-I’m sorry . . .” I mumbled as I trudged purposelessly.
I just wanted to disappear. I wanted to get away from here.
My feet steered me away from the building, but I started hearing students around me. I wished I had my cap to conceal my face because my tears weren’t stopping. I kept my gaze on the ground, hoping nobody would see that I was crying . . . but I almost stumbled when I bumped into someone.
“Angel . . .”
I abruptly looked at him when I heard that familiar voice. His gaze met mine and he looked surprised when he saw my face.
“What happened . . .”
Before he could finish his question, I hang onto his shirt, and bawled my eyes out. I felt so alone that I thought I wouldn’t have anyone to hold onto.
I didn’t know how long I was clinging onto him. The next thing I knew, he was already draping a jacket over me. He held my wrist and gently pulled me along with him.
All I could see were the grass and pavement since I was too scared to lift my head up. I wasn’t sure how long we were walking but he abruptly stopped that I bumped into his back. Despite the creeping fear, I carefully looked around and realized we were in front of a café.
He pulled me inside and we went to the farthermost table from the door. He pulled out the chair and let me sit while he went to the counter.
Realizing that I was in a café made it more painful. Gisel and I were supposed to go to a café later, but I knew that wouldn’t happen anymore.
King placed a glass of water in front of me and sat on his chair. Despite my throat getting hoarse and dry, I remained still and just stared at the glass.
“If you’re going to cry, please keep yourself hydrated,” he said.
His comment made me smile a little despite the tears coming out of my eyes. He sounded concerned but the way he worded it was kind of logical.
I drew a deep breath and reached for the glass. Gulping down the water, I realized how thirsty I was. I had been crying for almost an hour and the heat worsened it.
He let me calm down and minded his own business, which I was really grateful for.
“S-sorry . . .” I mumbled after minutes of silence.
He looked with a confused expression. “For what?”
“F-for . . . bothering you . . .”
“You aren’t bothering me,” he reasoned.
“But . . .”
He flashed a subtle smile. “At least, now, you’ve calmed down.”
I stared at him, wondering what would happen if I didn’t bump into him a while ago. Surely, I’d be in the home page for--
Ah. The portal. Despite quitting, my mind was still lingering there, especially after what happened earlier.
“Tiffany Damian . . .”
The mention of her name made my heart sink a little more. I looked at King and it seemed like he already knew what was going on.
“I saw her a while ago,” he continued. “I wasn’t sure what was happening but . . . she was crying. Then, I bumped into you and you were crying, too.”
The tears I was trying to hold back were threatening to come out again. I said I would protect them but in the end, I was one of the reasons why they got hurt.
“Is this because of . . .” His voice trailed off. I slowly nodded as my eyes welled up with tears. “I see.”
“S-she found out.”
“I’m sure they will understand if you explain your side,” he said.
Tears streamed down my cheeks. “B-but she walked away.”
He started fiddling with his phone and a few seconds later, he showed it to me. On the portal, several new articles were posted and one of them was about her.
“What . . .”
The writer was curious about her and Darryl’s relationship status because they were photographed away from each other, as if they just had a fight. Then there was a photo of her and Gisel talking and laughing during a meeting, maybe the advanced courses orientation they had to attend, while Darryl was out of the picture.
I felt bad and guilty even though I wasn’t part of it anymore. No wonder Steff just left.
“The new articles are all about gossips and theories regarding the campus elites,” he added.
I remained silent, trying to process everything. Honestly, I just wanted to run away. Confrontation had never been my strong suit especially with matters like this.
King didn’t say anything anymore after talking about the portal. I thanked him for everything and returned his jacket. I booked a car and waited with him outside the café. Few minutes later, the car arrived.
“Hey,” he called as I was about to get in the backseat. I turned to him and he smiled at me. “Everything will be okay.”
I pressed my lips and managed a subtle smile. “Thank you.”
When I got home, Xander asked what happened but I didn’t answer him and just walked straight to my room. I also didn’t check my phone because I was afraid of what I would read.
I wanted to sleep because I was emotionally and mentally drained but my brain wouldn’t let me so I opened my laptop and tried to type. However, I couldn’t focus on the stories. I just got frustrated and ended up shutting it down.
Just when I was about to return to my bed, I saw Xander leaning against the door sill. I didn’t even hear him opening my door.
“Gusto mo ng ice cream?” he asked as he walked toward my direction.
“No,” I flatly said.
“Sure? Looks like you need one.”
He sat on the edge of my bed and stared at me. I tried to avert his gaze but I was already too late. Seeing him reminded me of my friends and tears just fell down my face.
“Those three, I guess?” he asked and I nodded while sobbing.
I didn’t know how he figured out my problem but him being here and trying to comfort me triggered the happiest memories I had with them. And remembering them this time hurt more than what happened earlier . . . because I knew it wouldn’t be the same again.
I wasn’t sure how I managed to tell him the story and if he understood because I was sobbing every few seconds, but he continued listening. That time, it felt like he was really an older brother, just like how the three of them treat him.
“You won’t resolve anything by running away,” he said after hearing everything. “If I were Steff, I would also get disappointed, especially after seeing my name in those malicious articles. But they don’t know that your intentions are good. Just tell them the truth. Those girls will surely understand. You’re friends after all.”
“B-but what if they don’t?”
“Is your friendship that shallow for you?”
I was taken aback by his question and he just stared at me, waiting for my response.
“N-no . . .”
“I’ve seen how you treasure each other. I know how much they mean to you. So don’t let these misunderstandings ruin the very thing you tried to protect.”
Hearing his words made me cry harder and gave me a new perspective. I was about to say thank you but he suddenly pulled out his phone from his pocket and took a photo of my face.
“Ah. You look ugly here. Pwedeng pang-blackmail,” he snickered as he ran away from me.
I didn’t have the energy to yell at him or chase him so I just let him be. When he got out of my room, I lay down my bed and stared vacantly at the ceiling.
My head was throbbing and my eyes were already swollen from too much crying. I reached for my phone and carefully opened it. The first thing that came into my view was the notification for unread messages from our messenger group chat.
My heart pounded painfully against my chest as I stared at the screen.
Just tell them everything, Xander advised.
I breathed deeply and opened the chat without reading the ongoing conversation. It’s time to tell them the truth.