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drinking to suppress devotion

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He should be sleeping by now.

The loft is completely dark. Pedro, Nico and Matteo are carelessly snoring the night away. But Simón is wide awake: staring at the ceiling, still processing the events from the past few days.

He closes his eyelids and his heart flutters at the memory of them singing while looking at each other, lyrics flowing out of their tongues like bottled up emotions. Or hugging her in the locker room, her pleads for him to not leave her alone tightening his arms around her.

It seems unreal how things went downhill in a matter of hours.

He replays Ja-Jazmín’s “Bembar” video one last time, and the audio just plays back to a supercut of moments engraved on his brain that seem to crumble whatever feeling resides on his chest for her right now, as easy as a piece of paper does: Benicio and Ámbar on stage, them skating together for what he thought was the first time and how they complemented each other so easily.

He goes to take a sip out of his bottle before he realizes that it’s empty. He drops it on the rug and it rolls away from him.

He should be sleeping by now… but instead, he’s trying to drown his feelings for Ámbar in tequila (and failing terribly, by the way).


He was lucky he found a cab at… 3:13 AM, according to his cellphone.

“The code to the gate is my birthday. It’s the only thing my grandpa wouldn’t forget.” Luna had indicated in an opportunity.

When the code was in, the gate opened with a loud mechanic noise and he went past it, guitar on his back. Simón uselessly shushed the engine, and waited for the door to close before he made his way through the garden.

All of the windows were closed. She probably was asleep. He would have to serenade her awake.

Not that he minded, though.


Ámbar couldn’t sleep that night either. Her head was buried into her pillow, trying to suppress the loud memory replaying in her head.

“Ambar- I saw you dancing with Simon. I thought you were over what you guys had but… I guess I was wrong.”

“No, you weren’t. I have nothing to do with Simón anymore.”

“Nothing that you wanna admit…”

The blonde leaned forward, brushed hair out of her face and huffed loudly, resigned to the fact that it would bother her until she did something about it.

“Ámbar, I’ve told you a million times to take over your feelings! Do you wanna be your old self again? ...Be careful Ámbar. Don’t you go and fall in love with him all over again.”

“Emilia- I’ll never fall in love again.”

“I wish I believed you.”

She did, too.

Esto es amor o es una señal para escaparle al miedo

No puedo evitar mi estupidez

Este no soy yo, oh

That was Simón. A raspy version of his voice singing along to messy chords- but it was Simón, give or take. Was Luna seriously listening to music out loud at 3 AM? She was so going to get it…

She turned on the lights and got up the bed, walking fast to the door before a specific yell stopped her:

“Bonita!”

Shit.

She traced her steps back, looked down the window and her mouth fell open at the sight:

Simón was on the garden, his signature guitar hanging on his torso as he yelled:

“Bonita! This song is for you!”

No digas nada

Solo toma tu tiempo

Un tiempo de amor

Ya no preguntes más

Y cierra los ojos

Sentir es mejor

What the hell did he think he was doing? She had to do something.

Quizás sea el momento de tomar un tiempo…

“Simón!”

“Yes, bonita?”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?! You’re going to wake my grandfather!”

“I don’t care. You hear me? I don’t care! The world is going to hear how much I love you!”

“Simón! I mean it. Keep. Your voice. Down.”

“You look beautiful under the moonlight, Ámbar Smith.”

Heat rose up to her cheeks, and she looked away to think properly of a comeback: “…and you’re drunk, Simón Álvarez.”

“Only drunk in love, bonita.”

She rolled her eyes. “Ugh- don’t move. I’ll be down in a second.”

Looking like a gothic queen, her black marabou night robe-clad figure quickly sneaked her way down the stairs, rushing to the main door. As soon as it was open, she stuck her head out.

“Simón!” She called him in a whisper, and he turned his head. “Get in! It’s cold out there.”

He rushed to the door and got inside. “You, Ámbar, are an angel.”

“Yeah, yeah- just get in, will you?”

Being quicker than his clouded mind, he tripped on his own two feet and she had to catch him.

“Careful! I could get in serious trouble if my granddad finds out I’m sneaking you in like this.”

Simón frowned. “I thought you didn’t care about your grandfather.”

She swung Simón’s arm over her shoulders and helped him walk. “I actually do, it’s just that… he thinks I’m not ‘in line with this family’ because I’m not like Luna. But I couldn’t be like her. I couldn’t be like anyone, actually. I can only be me.”

Simón was getting heavier by the minute. No, no, no, no, no, no. No way. He couldn’t fall asleep. “Simón!”

His eyes flew open. “AH! What?”

“Don’t fall asleep!”

“Sorry. It’s just that I’m so tired and your hair smells so nice, I just…-”

She huffed. “You don’t need to explain yourself to me.”

They made it to the stairwell. “Left foot, then right foot. Okay?”

“Yeah.” But he had zero balance whatsoever, so as soon as he tried he found himself on the verge of falling face down on the steps.

He was lucky he had Ámbar. “Forget it. Just hold on tight to me and try to lift your feet.”

“Good idea.”

They spent a good 5 minutes going up a 30-step stairwell.

“I need you to be super quiet now because someone could definitely hear us in this hallway. Now, let’s get your shoes off.”

Ámbar squatted down and undid his laces.

“Lift one foot,” she instructed, and he held tight to her shoulder as he lifted his right foot. She took his shoe off to reveal an Spiderman logo on the sole of his sock. “Really? Spiderman?

“What about it? I love everything Marvel.”

Everything? Are you sure about that?”

“Of course!” He raised his voice to accentuate his confidence, and Ámbar shushed him. “Sorry.”

“Just lift your other foot.”

“Why are you so-? Wait a minute. Are you a DC fan?”

“I’m not saying anything. Now, lift your other foot.”

Simón did as she said. “You didn’t answer.”

Ámbar huffed as she took the other shoe off and stood up. “Yes, I am a DC fan.”

“Why?”

She started walking alongside Simón towards her room. “I know that DC may not have the best movies… but it sure has the best TV series out of both universes. And I like more characters from DC than I do from Marvel.”

“Which ones do you like?”

“...I like Harley Quinn.”

“Oh, my God… How did I ever date such a snob?”

They both got in and she locked the door. “I’m not a snob!”

“Oh, really? Prove it.”

She threw herself onto the bed and sighed. “It’s not that I necessarily like Harley Quinn, I just think it’s a realistic and well-developed character. Just think about it: she was a brilliant woman who fell in love with a criminal. Love is blind and unexpected, so I respect it. It’s not that I support the dynamic between her and the Joker, though, even before she actually became Harley Quinn. A character I actually support though, is Poison Ivy. She was mistreated by her coworker and she took revenge. Also, she is hot as fuck and she is in a relationship with Harley in the comics, so…-”

“Why is that you are so into villains?”

“Are you kidding? Without villains, there would be no plot!”

“Okay, fair enough…- but, isn’t there any good guy you like?”

Ámbar thought it through, pursing her lips. “Well… I like Flash.”

“Really? Why not Superman or, you know, Batman?”

“Flash is humble. He is funny, and good, and decent. I think that if Superman didn’t feel the need to prove himself to others, I would rather like him.”

Simón was in awe. “What do we really know about Ámbar Smith? She has a soft spot for good guys.”

Ámbar’s smile fainted and turned into a frown in less than a second. “I am not soft.”

“Yes, you are.”

She crossed her arms as she leaned forward to sit up on her bed. “No, I am not!”

“You are!”

“Shut up, Simón!” Ámbar yelled in annoyance as she threw a pillow at Simón’s head.

Ouch! That actually hurt, Ámbar. You could have cracked my skull with that pillow you threw just now.” He whined, and the blonde had to stifle a laugh.

She tried to keep a straight face as she insisted: “I believed I told you to shut up.”

“And I believe I just made you smile.”

Was she so obvious? “This is not a smile! Don’t you see? This is my disgust face, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Simón giggled between cute little hiccups. “Right. Whatever. Let’s say I believe you.”

Believe me? It’s the truth, Simón. It’s not a matter of perspective. You just saw it happen.”

Simón’s laughter became dry. “Ámbar…”

“What?” She let out in a harsh tone. That tone she used for everyone except for her friends. No, scratch that- except for Simón. But this time was different.

This time he was on her room, asking her about fiction and calling her names he didn’t mean, laughing like a fucking dork. It just reassured what Emilia had said the night of the party, and that bothered her. She couldn’t fall in love again. All that love did for her was break and end.

Her ears tuned in to the sound of his voice. “Why…” he cleared his throat to say this in the most hurtful tone he could use, “…why did you bring me back to your room?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean- you could’ve called a cab, or snuck me in to Luna’s room,” Simón got off the chair and walked around the room, “so… why are you taking care of me?”

Because I care about you was the only answer she couldn’t go wrong with, but her feelings were at stake. “B-because…”

“Because of what, Ámbar?”

Ámbar musted up courage and got up to answer this time. “…Because you left me no choice! Simón, you literally just sang a window serenade to me. I knew you wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave you the attention you wanted from me.”

Simón blinked, offended. “Attention?”

“Yes, attention.”

“I think I’m not the only one seeking attention over here.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“I don’t know, let’s find out. What do you think I’m saying?”

“I think you’re saying I’m an attention seeker.”

“Yes!”

“Then you’re an idiot!”

“Why? Ámbar, you’ve been acting so weird lately. With your dark outfits, and your pretentious attitude towards everyone, and even this room makeover you’ve put up- just to fit in your new group of friends!”

She shook her head, wearing a cynic smirk on her face even when each reproach was landing like an arrow on her heart. “You really have no idea, do you Simón?”

“Why? What could you possibly say to prove me wrong?”

“Simón, I did this because of you! I did this… because of the Roller guys! Simón, I had changed! And they still didn’t see it. Only you did.”

Simón suddenly felt himself sober up with her words: “…and that used to be enough for me. But then I lost you, and I had no one left. The Sliders gave me an opportunity, no matter who I was or what I had done in the past. It was a new slate for me, and I needed it.”

“If you call breaking Juliana’s Crystal Skate with Benicio a new slate.”

“At least Benicio stuck up for me when I needed him to!”

“You are aware that’s not going to last for long, right? I have told you a million times that Benicio is the most cheating, treacherous, fake, backstabbing asshole I’ve ever met! Plus, you’ve only known Emilia for so long and you think she’s your friend?”

I have told you a million times I don’t care what you have to say!” Except she did, and that made it harder to lie to him when she said: “Emilia, unlike you, was there when I needed her. Simón, I couldn’t move on if you were going to be there reminding me of all that I’d done wrong. I had to get away from you. You were bad for me!”

Simón held his hand in the air, cutting her speech as she walked up to her. “Hold on a second- bad for you?”

Ámbar came closer as well. “Yes! Bad for me!”

Simón’s eyes became foggy with tears as he let out broken sounds: “Then how come Luna and all of the Roller guys think I’ll be the one in danger if I get too close to you?”

He really knew how to be her ultimate weakness.

The ambient seemed to shift with the lingering question.

“Simón…” Ámbar cupped his face just as he had done just the day before and she felt him relax under her touch. He trusted her, and he couldn’t conceal that. “Only you and I know what we both feel.”

Simón felt dizzy. Not buzzed, or funny. He felt dizzy from her scent, from their tempting closeness, from her eyes staring into his.

“Ámbar…” he licked his lips as he stole a glance at hers.

Her answer was barely a graceful whisper at this point. “Yes, Simón?”

“I-I… fuck it- I’m just going to ask you.”

Ámbar grabbed his hands and straightened her posture. “Just say it.”

“Yeah- sure, I’m just going to say it.”

Simón felt uneasy with what the words he was about to say would risk. It felt as if his heart was on his throat. Eventually, he opened his mouth and there was no going back.

Except, it wasn’t his heart that was on his throat.

It was puke.

It landed everywhere: on Ámbar’s nightgown, on the carpet… and even on his socks.

Ámbar didn’t know what to do. She quickly took off her robe, rushing him to the bathroom.


After a final “I’m never going to drink again”, Simón had been done puking. She had been cautious enough to scape a grounding, so after changing into an old pink night-robe, she dragged an inflatable mattress to Luna’s room where he could fall asleep in on his tired-out state. She came to realize Luna was a heavy sleeper.

Simón’s phone vibrated on his pocket, and she realized: the guys were probably worried about him. He had gone out in the middle of the night, and it had been maybe 2 hours since that. They had to work early that day at the Jam & Roller.

When she checked his phone, the messages from the “Roller Band” group chat proved further her theory:

Pedro: Simón, where are you?

Nico: Simón????

Matteo: Chill out guys, maybe he went out to buy something

Pedro: Oh, really? What would he buy, then?

Matteo: How the fuck am I supposed to know?

Nico: Guys, don’t fight. Maybe he felt sick and went to buy an aspirin or some shit like that

Pedro: Maybe I would chill if he actually answered

Matteo: Simón

Matteo: Simón

Matteo: SIMÓN FOR FUCK’S SAKE

Pedro: SIMÓN BLINK TWICE IF YOU’RE READING THIS

Nico: Pedro, you’re communicating with him via text.

Ámbar didn’t know what to do as the texts kept popping up on the screen. She quickly thought of something:

Simón: I’m alive. Sorry. Luna had a panic attack about a nightmare she had, so I stayed over to help her sleep. She just fell asleep, but I’m going to spend the rest of the night here just in case.

Nico: You mean, morning

Simón: Wdym?

Pedro: Simón, it’s 5:24 am.

Fuck.

Simón: Right

Simón: Sorry. I’m just so tired I can’t even read anymore

Nico: It’s okay. I’ll cover your morning shift, but you have to be here by 1 pm. Got it?

Simón: Yes. Thank you so much Nico, you are a lifesaver

Nico: It’s nothing.

Matteo: Simón

Simón: What?

Matteo: Why is there an empty bottle of tequila on the living room?

She bit her lip as she thought of an excuse.

Simón: SHIT! I forgot

Simón: I was going to take out the trash and I placed it on plain sight so I wouldn’t forget it

Simón: Sorry guys

Pedro: It’s fine, Simón. I was going to take out the trash before we left in the morning anyways

Simón: Thanks, Pedro

She carefully put his phone back on his pocket and sighed in satisfaction of her own doing.


While tip-toeing back to her room, she ran into her grandfather.

“Ámbar? What did I tell you? You have to sleep early! What are you doing awake?”

Ámbar was taken by surprise, and a beat passed as she thought of an excuse. “I feel sick, grandpa.”

“You do?” Ámbar nodded and Alfredo took her into his arms. “What is it?”

“I don’t know, but I threw up half an hour ago.”

“Oh, Ámbar… come on: let’s get you to bed. I’m going to give you medicine and you’re going to have some rest. I can’t let you go to Uni like this.”

She feigned worry. “But, grandpa, I have to go!”

“Not a chance, Ámbar. It’s for your own good. You’ll spend the day in.”

Downside was, she would have to confront Gary about her absence on that day’s Red Sharks practice.

Good thing was, her grandfather actually loved her. And being taken care of didn’t sound so bad.