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Chapter Text

 

 

 

Baka bukas ika’y akin. Sana di magbago ang pagtingin.

 

 

 

Okay. Quick facts tungkol kay Donghyuck Lee. Isa siyang 4th year student sa Ateneo de Manila University majoring in Life Sciences. Proud AFM scholar at tubong Pampanga. Sure, walang problema sa kanya kapag tinatawag siyang grade conscious ng blockmates at friends niya, dahil kung hindi sa pagiging masipag niya sa pagbabasa ng gabundok na readings ng mga prof niya ay hindi siya summa standing ngayon. 

 

Another fact, kung tatanungin siya kung sino ang bestfriends niya ala elementary school scrapbook lang, walang pag aatubili niyang isusulat ang pangalan ng nag-iisang Renjun Huang ng Infomations Design, Jeno Lee na blockmate niya for all of four years, at si Mark Lee na hindi niya rin alam sa totoo lang paano niya naging kaibigan (huwag na lang natin sabihin kay Renjun yan at baka lalong lumaki ang ulo niya, oks?). 

 

Next, mataas ang alcohol tolerance ni Donghyuck. Hindi naman siya mahilig mag walwal at tumambay sa mga bar kasama ang kung sino sino. Usually kung lalabas siya, ang madalas na kasama niya ay sina Mark. Madalang lang din siyang sumama sa mga pa inom ng mga org niya. That’s just not his style. Pero alam ni Hyuck na High Tol siya dahil sa bawat post midterms chilnuman ng magkakaibigan sa pop-up, wala siyang choice kundi sabayan ang paglaklak ni Renjun ng alak ( “ My parents won’t get off my fucking back and I just feel their claws dig deeper on my neck every time during exam season, I tell you. I’m not inheriting that goddamn company Hyuck. Over my dead fucking body” ) at dahil nga High Tol siya, wala siyang choice kundi maging designated chaperone at kaladkarin si Renjun (at Mark) sa mga condo nila.

 

Isa pa, wait. Alam niyang nasa Ateneo siya at alam niyang nagtataka kayo bakit siya fluent sa Tagalog. Sorry to disappoint you lang naman no pero si Donghyuck Lee ay hindi pinalaki ng mga magulang niya puhra magtalk like this, no. Lumaki kasi si Donghyuck sa probinsya at pamilyang kung hindi Tagalog ay malutong na Kapampangan ang gamit kapag nakikipag usap. Pero he doesn't take offense when his classmates talk to him in Taglish. Heck, almost all of his friends are conyo. Iba parin lang kasi kapag laking kalye ang dila. Sorry na St. Iggy. Pero he’s gotten used to people conversing in Taglish with him. Sanayan lang talaga siguro sa Ateneo mga besh. 

 

Eto na ang  last at pinaka importante na fact about kay Dodong Lee (Si Mama Lee ang nagbigay ng nickname na ito. Please look away!!) , 21, from Arayat, Pampanga, Philippines,  ay hindi siya in love kay Mark Lee na ace ng Ateneo Men’s basketball team (thirdy who?) at currently ay Creative Writing Major from the School of Humanities. He swears, hindi talaga. Best friends lang sila, for three years 

“Puta ka Donghyuck Lee. Ako at si Jeno, kami ang best friends mo. Si Mark? Hindi best friends ang tawag diyan. Pero quiet nalang ako baka di ka pa ready masampal ng katotohanan eh.”

 

 (Okay subconscious Renjun you made some points now leave).

 

Except, maybe Renjun is right. Maybe, just maybe, Donghyuck, 21, proud na anak ng Dela Cruz- Lee Family from Arayat ay totally, irrevocably in love with his best friend, Mark. 

 

Baka lang naman.

🏀

 

 

Red Brick Road ADMU, 2015

 

So paano nga ba nagkilala ang tatlong magbabarkadang ito if you may ask? Simple lang, dahil sa katangahan ni Donghyuck sa directions. See, sa kinahusay niya sa pagmememorize ng bawat parte ng organ system ng palaka, pusa, isda, you name it, ganoon ang kinabobo niya sa pag follow ng directions. 

 

Tandang tanda pa ni Donghyuck noong first day of classes niya sa Ateneo. Bitbit bitbit ang bagong Jansport bag na binili ni Mommy Lee from SM Pampanga, tila estatwa si Donghyuck na nakatayo at pawis na pawis sa Red Brick Road dahil hindi niya alam kung ano ang mga pangalan ng buildings at saan ba yang lintek na Faura Hall. Nag ring na ang 1st bell which means may 10 minutes nalang before mag start ang kanyang Eng 11 class. Medyo na s-stress na si Donghyuck dahil 1. Never pa siyang na late sa kahit ano mang class niya ever. 2. Hindi niya talaga alam saan ang Faura Hall. But Donghyuck is a fighter so he approached the closest person na  nakita niya sa kaniyang tabi. 

 

Donghyuck gathered some courage para kausapin itong mukhang student na may bitbit na macbook at hydroflask (okay, atenean nga) 

 

“Kuya, alam mo ba saan yung Faura Hall?”

 

Pero parang di siya narinig ni said kuya so he cleared his throat and tried again. “Kuya. Alam mo ba saan yung Faura Hall dito?” But it seems like his words fell on deaf ears dahil hindi man lang siya pinapansin nitong si kuya w/ macbook. 

 

“Oh. I’m so sorry. Were you talking to me?” Sagot ni Kuyang naka macbook na medyo high pitched dahil ata sa gulat. Nakatalikod siya kanina kaya ngayon lang nakita ni Donghyuck  ang itsura niya in high definition, vip seat pa. 

 

Mama ang gwapo.

 

Donghyuck was flustered. Nakalimutan niyang nasa Ateneo nga pala siya at ang vast majority ng population dito ay English speakers. Okay. Noted. Pero hindi lang din yun ang dahilan kung bakit siya namumula.

 

Kuya guy was… good looking to put in in simple terms. Hindi masyadong matangkad na matatakot ka nang lumapit. His complexion is so pretty. Ang smooth ng mukha, alam mong alaga ni mommy at ang cute ng round glasses na pumoprotekta sa mga mata niya. Shet, ang ganda ng mga mata niya. 

 

Pero focus team. Malalate kana sa Eng 11 class mo gaga.

 

“I. Uh. I was uhm asking if you know where Faura Hall supposedly is. I have class in like 8 minutes. Haha.” Donghyuck laughed awkwardly.

 

“Oh. I actually have class there too. Eng 11 JP under Sir. Estrada.” The stranger says, reading off his phone. “Are you a freshie too?” dagdag niya.

 

Estrada. Aba same class sila! 

 

“I think we have the same class section. That’s cool. But uhm, do you know where the building is?” Pahabol ni Donghyuck,  while clutching his jansport in anticipation.

 

Mark turned a little pink. “I’m actually lost too. Sorry. My driver dropped me off and I’ve been wandering around ever since.” 

 

Ah. Tanga rin. Shocks bagay tayo, sigaw ng marupok side ng utak ni Donghyuck.

 

But before he could reply, may narinig si Donghyuck na sumigaw ng “ Mark” sa likod niya. Sabay silang napalingon ng handsome suplado stranger sa likod. Tumatakbo towards them ay isang familiar face. Si Jeno Lee ito ah? Blockmate ni Donghyuck na binefriend niya nung ORSEM. Seatmates kasi sila kaya wala siyang choice kung hindi makipagdaldalan sa katabi kung hindi mapapanis yung laway niya.

 

“Mark. Pare. I’ve been looking for you.” Sambit ni Jeno kay Mark, which to Donghyuck’s inference ay probably ang pangalan ni handsome suplado stranger. 

 

“Dude. I literally have no idea where places are. I got here like 20 minutes ago.” Mark replied, stealing glances at Donghyuck. 

 

“Wait. Donghyuck? Uy, you know Mark?” Jeno notices na magkasama ang dalawa. 

 

“Ha. Hinde no. Di ko nga alam pangalan niya eh. I just asked him if he knew where Faura was because, shoot, we have 4 minutes left.” Donghyuck peeks at his watch.

 

“Faura? Dude. The orsem TnT literally pointed out every single building last time. You forgot na?” Jeno presents him his signature eye smile habang binibiro ang blockmate.

 

“You forgot na?” Donghyuck mocks back. “Kasalanan ko bang ihing ihi na ako during the tour kaya wala na akong maalala non?” 

 

“It’s fine, guys. I guess we’re all classmates? I saw your names on moodle.” Dagdag ni Jeno, now looking at a bewildered Mark. 

 

Huh, Mark.

 

“I guess,” reply ni Mark.

 

“But you guys know that Faura is literally behind you right?” Pilit na pinipigilan ni Jeno na tumawa sa kaniyang mga kaibigan.

 

“Ha? Saan?”

“For real? Where?” sabay na sambit ni Mark at Donghyuck.

 

Mabuti nalang at nakatakbo sila papunta sa kanilang classsroom bago mag ring ang 2nd bell at thankfully late rin ang prof. Jeno goes in the classroom first sitting at the middle row. Before Donghyuck could enter the room. Naramdaman niyang may humila sa kaniyang braso.

 

“Uhm. It’s Mark. My name. It’s Mark Lee. I’m sorry if I seemed rude earlier.” Donghyuck eyes the boy in front of him, naka oversized shirt, naka white gucci sneakers ( for the love of god), clutching a macbook pro and a hydroflask on the one hand while the other is touching Donghyuck’s elbow.

 

 Si Mark yung tipong pinangako niya sa sarili niya na hindi niya papatulan ever. 

 

Pero ang delicate ng haplos ng palad ni Mark sa braso niya. 

 

“Pangit pa yung tagalog ko eh. I’m sorry.” Mark adds in his heavy accented tagalog. 

 

Ang cute ng trying hard Tagalog niya.

 

“Donghyuck Lee. It’s okay. Kung gusto mo I can help you with that?” 

 

“With what?”

 

“Sa Tagalog. Pro ako if you haven’t noticed.” Donghyuck flashes Mark his brightest grin. Mark smiles back, turning the lightest shade of Pink.

 

“That’s actually great haha. So, friends?” Mark lets go off his elbow and offers his hand for a handshake.

 

“Let’s see,”  sambit ni Donghyuck, taking Mark’s hand.

 

When they part, the 2nd bell finally rings. 

 

🏀

 

Pop-up Katipunan, 2017

 

Renjun Huang. Kung hindi lang mahal na mahal ni Donghyuck ang lalaking ito, matagal na niya siyang sinabunutan dahil sa sobrang tabil ng kanyang bibig.

 

Case in point:

 

“So. Anong tini tingin tingin mo dyan?”

 

Tinititigan ni Donghyuck ngayon ang 2x2 I.D picture ni Mark naka-ipit sa likod ng ID niya. Magkasama kasi sila sa UPTC nang biglang magyaya si Mark na mag take raw ng ID pics for class index cards. Noong natanggap na nila ang mga developed na pictures, biniro niya si Mark na bigyan siya ng isa para may mailagay sa likod ng ID. Fad kasi sa mga mag on sa school ito. Pero hindi naman inexpect ni Hyuck na seseryosohin siya ng kaibigan. 

 

“Nagbabakasakali lang”

“Na ano”

“Na kapag pinakatitigan ko ‘tong picture ni Mark, mabulunan siya at marealize niya na mahal ko siya. You know the usual.”

 

Kakatapos lang ng mga midterms ni Jeno, Renjun, Hyuck ngayon at currently ay nag-sshare sila ng overpriced Takoyaki at San Mig beer sa Pop-up. Kung bakit paborito nila ang pop-up instead of other inuman places ay isang misteryong wag na natin alamin. (Pero ang totoo lang, bali balita raw na tambay ang Jadine rito at as a No Erase supremacist, hindi titigil si Donghyuck sa pagbili ng SUPER OVERPRICED na alak hanggat hindi siya nakakapagpa picture sa kanyang President Nads.) 

 

Nakaupo si Donghyuck sa tabi ni Jeno na may kausap sa phone (bali balita rin na may ka fling itong si Jeno na ang dinig ni Donghyuck ay isang  Sports Science major na iskolar ng bayan, mahilig mag bike sa oval ng diliman, at tambay sa Bo’s Katipunan) at si Renjun naman ay nasa tapat niya.

 

“Amputa Donghyuck. Sino ba kasing nagsabing maglasing ka pagkatapos ng recollection. Sinaniban ka ba ng holy spirit o ni Jesus mismo ron?”

 

Oo nga pala. Para sa Liberation Theology midterm nila, kinailangan nilang umattend ng isang overnight recollection at magpasa ng 1500 word reflection paper. Only in Ateneo na every sem, may isang spiritual activity for the soul.

 

St. Iggy pray for Donghyuck.

 

“Injun. Di mo ba narinig ang sabi nung pari kagabi?” Sabi ni Donghyuck while playing with his San Mig bottle.

 

“Minsan we have to let go of our inhibitions to let ourselves feel something. Because to be numb is the worst experience of all.” Dagdag ni Donghyuck.

 

“Oh anong relate ni Mark Lee, dyan?” Renjun asked, eating the only takoyaki left on his plate.

 

“Kung mahal ako ni Lord, dapat minake sure niya na nag ka feelings ako para sa person who will like me back.”

 

Halos masamid si Renjun sa halakhak niya matapos marinig ang sinabi ng kaibigan kahit si Jeno na akala ni Donghyuck ay busy sa textmate ay tumawa rin, pushing Donghyuck a little.

 

“Have you seen Mark?” Jeno asked.

 

“No. May basketball practice siya. Habol daw siya later though.”

 

“Tanga. Ang ibig sabihin ni Jeno, nakita mo na ba si Mark? Yun? Tingin mo hindi in love sa’yo yun?” Renjun says.

 

Donghyuck thinks for a moment. Alam naman niya na close sila ni Mark. Since the moment na nag usap sila sa Eng11 halos di mo na sila mapaghiwalay  kahit na dumating si Renjun, kahit na blockmate pa ni Hyuck si Jeno, kung nasan may Donghyuck, makikita mo ang anino ni Mark. Mapa biochem tutorial ni Hyuck na umaabot minsan hanggang 7 pm, makikita na niya lang sa messages niya na hinihintay raw siya ni Mark sa may Sec walk. Kung may org event sila Donghyuck sa Zen garden, minsan tatambay dun si Mark kasama ang ibang teammates niya para manghakot ng participants.

 

Pero best friends do that all the time right? He’s pretty sure ginagawa rin ni Mark ang mga bagay na yun kina Renjun at Jeno. Donghyuck thinks he’s smart. Almost 4.0 ang Qpi niya at never siyang nagka grade anything below a B+. Pero minsan kapag tatabihan siya ni Mark, kapag hinahawi ni Mark and bangs ni Donghyuck sa gilid dahil baka ma irritate raw ang mata ni Hyuck, he feels stupid. Nag bblank out siya, literally no thoughts head empty only Mark !!!! talaga. 

 

Speaking of Mark, medyo natauhan si Donghyuck nang na feel niya na medyo uminit sa place (char lang), may commotion sa entrance ng pop-up at rinig ni Hyuck ang napaka distinct at napaka unique na tawa ng the one and only, Yukhei Wong. Ibig sabihin nito nandito na rin si Mark. Lumingon ang tatlong magkakaibigan sa direksyon ng entrance and Donghyuck immediately sees Mark. Sino bang niloko ni Donghyuck. He only sees Mark. May mga fanatics pala nakikipag pa picture kina Yukhei, Chenle, Jisung, at Mark malapit sa entrance (yes, as a blue eagle, tanggap naman ni Donghyuck na meron talagang mga gustong mag papicture sa best friend niya okay). And even in the sea of people he observes that Mark looks extra nice tonight kahit na galing sila ng training at fresh from the showers sa blue eagle gym. He’s wearing a global citizens festival cap na sobrang favorite niya, kahit saan at kahit anong okasyon sinusuot niya, a fitted black long sleeve na super flattering sa arms niya, at skinny jeans. Mark is out for blood—Donghyuck’s blood.

 

After taking several selfies with… fans. Papunta na sila Mark sa table nila Donghyuck. 

 

“Anong ginagawa ng impaktong yan dito?” Pagmamaktol ni Renjun sa mga kaibigan nang maaninag si Yukhei.

 

“Renato Junior yang bibig mo talaga pag naka inom.” Donghyuck quickly butts in. 

 

“Hey, RJ. Play nice.” bulong ni Jeno, syempre naka smile parin.  

 

Long story short, childhood sweethearts si Renjun at Yukhei pero Renjun called it quits before the summer of first year college dahil according to him “ I don’t want to box myself in a relationship during the most freeing time of my life. Kung kami pa rin talaga after college, magiging kami.” Pero hindi parin matanggal ang pait sa dila at mukha ni Renjun kapag nakikita niya si Yukhei na lumalabas with his supposed “dates”. 

 

Mark and Yukhei’s younger teammates parted ways with them at sumama sa table ng mga friends nila. Mark makes a beeline towards Donghyuck’s side and immediately wraps his arm around Hyuck. Yukhei sits beside a constipated looking Renjun na ang sama ng titig sa San Mig niyang walang malay. Jeno smiles at the two newcomers. Donghyuck became extra aware of where his body is touching Mark’s. Magkadikit ang mga legs nila dahil maliit lang ang bench at 3 silang nagsisiksikan dito. Mark has his arm around Donghyuck. Tapos yung isa naman busy na inaayos yung hair niya after tanggalin yung global citizens cap. Gusto rin ni Donghyuck na ihagod yung fingers niya sa buhok ni Mark. Ano kayang feeling non? 

 

Dahil marupok si Donghyuck, he also snaked his arm around mark’s back settling it sa tiny waist nito. Their display of “platonic” affection didn’t go unnoticed kay Renjun kahit na mukha pa rin siyang nasa verge ng pagtatae. 

 

“Injunnie. Long time no see.” Yukhei greets Renjun. Yukhei also looks… good. I mean wala namang bago sa pormahan niya: shorts na above his knee and a Fly Emirates shirt paired with his Rolex. Kung di lang patay na patay si Hyuck kay Mark, naging crush niya na rin si Yukhei. Si Yukhei kasi yung friendly, life of the party pero sincere at very genuine na type ng tao. Di niya talaga alam kung ano ba ang saltik sa utak ni Renjun at hiniwalayan niya ito. (Maybe that story is for another time). 

 

“Mukha mo, Wong. Bakit ka ba nandito? Dun ka sa mga babae mo” Renjun snickers trying to scoot away from Yukhei’s looming figure. Tinawanan lang siya ni Yukhei in return, sanay na rin siya sa katarayan ng ex. 

 

“You guys want more beer? It’s on me,” yaya ni Mark sa tropa.  

 

“G lang. I can go for more.” Jeno replies. Yukhei and Renjun agree as well. 

 

Mark took his arms off Donghyuck to get his wallet off his pocket. Donghyuck does the same. Medyo disappointed siya, kasi namiss niya si Mark at gusto niya lang naman talaga payakap. Ang bango niya kaya.

 

Donghyuck however is taken out of his stupor when he felt something mainit  sa kaniyang hita. Tinignan niya ito at he saw Mark’s palm covering his bare thigh. Hindi ba na mention ni Donghyuck na naka shorts lang siya. Shet. Donghyuck felt his ears heat up. Mark always does this naman pero it’s the first na time he’s doing this na bare ang thighs ni Hyuck. 

 

“Hyuck?”

 

“Ano?”

 

“I said gusto mo sama sa akin? I’ll get us more beer.” Ang yaya ni Mark sa namumulang Donghyuck.

 

“Beer? Okay lang.” Parang naka autopilot yung labi ni Donghyuck. Parang na diskaril yung mga makinarya ng utak niya dahil shet nandun ! parin ! yung ! palm! ni ! Mark!

 

“C’mon let’s go. Why are you being extra cute tonight?” Mark taps his thighs and stands up first. Donghyuck gulps and smiles at his retreating figure. Parang di pa siya lasing enough for this. 

 

President Nadine Lustre, please bless Donghyuck’s soul and spirit.

 

🏀

 

Matteo Ricci, 2018

 

“Hyuck. Can I ask you a question?” Currently ay pinipiga ni Donghyuck ang utak niya para intindihin ang kanyang Management lectures. Oo, pre med siya. Oo may management at business courses parin ang mga life science majors. Only in Ateneo!  Sinusundot siya ni Mark gamit ang kaniyang writing pencil to grab his attention.

 

“Ano yon?” Both of them are squished together sa isang corner table sa Matteo Ricci study hall. Walang SOM students sa kanila pero their classes after their break are around CTC lang so both decided na sa Matteo nalang mag-aral.

 

“What’s your type?” Tanong ni Mark, sobrang nonchalant na parang tinanong niya lang kung ano yung weather today samantalang si Donghyuck parang sinuntok yung tiyan sa kaba. 

 

“Ha? Like blood type?” Donghyuck tries to clarify. Ayaw niyang maging feeler. Ano bang mapupulot ni Mark sa information na yun.

 

“No . I mean in relationships. Never ka pang nag ka boyfriend right?” Mark slumped his head sa kanyang arms sa table, still looking at Donghyuck. He looks just the right amount of cuddly pero sobrang pogi pa rin. 

 

“No. I mean. I guess never ko pang inisip kung ano ang type ko. I never had a definitive list of characteristics that I want in a partner. Why?” Donghyuck closes his laptop. The powerpoint he’s readings can wait. He copied Mark’s position and also slumped on his desk. Mukha silang teenagers na nagsasabihan ng malupitang secret. 

 

Napaisip nga si Donghyuck. Ano nga ba ang type niya sa isang lalaki? Yung dense? Yung clueless? Yung tipong umaapaw na pagmamahal mo para sa kaniya pero di niya pa magets? Never naman kasing inisip ni Donghyuck ang ganitong mga bagay. He was perfectly fine on his own until one day, sa pinaka unang araw niya sa college, may dumating na Mark Lee sa buhay niya. Si Mark na hinahatid siya sa terminal ng Bus sa Cubao tuwing umuuwi siya, si Mark na g lang nang g kapag may sudden craving si Hyuck sa may Maginhawa. Si Mark na best friend niya.

 

Sino ba siya para tumanggi?

 

Mark starts playing with Donghyuck’s fingers. Ramdam ni Hyuck ang bawat haplos ng daliri ni Mark sa pagitan ng kanya. Donghyucks tries his best to stay calm.

 

“Ako type kita.” Mark suddenly says, still playing with Donghyuck’s fingers. His cheeky smile on display. 

 

Parang tumigil ata yung mundo for two seconds? Oprah??? Ano raw?

 

“What the fuck?” Donghyuck nearly shouts.

 

“I mean type kita asarin. Haha. You look so cute when you’re inis na inis” Mark grins. 

 

Hindi napigilan ni Donghyuck yung konting kirot na naramdaman niya. Of course. Mark’s just joking. He’ll never look at him that way. 

 

“Tangina mo, Canada. Sino nagturo sa’yo niyan? Si Yukhei no?” Donghyuck threatens his best friend with an eraser.

 

“Sorry na. Ang cute cute mo kasi eh.” Mark bows down and rubs his hands together in repent. 

 

“Why do you always say I’m cute. Crush mo ko no?” Donghyuck says.

 

“And when I say yes?” Mark says ducking immediately at Donghyuck’s flying eraser. 

 

“Oh. hindi na hindi na sorry na.” Mark apologizes while laughing. 

 

  🏀 

 

Araneta Coliseum, 2018

 

Dumadagundong ang full packed na Araneta dahil today ang opening ng UAAP Men’s Basketball at plus the fact na tonight ay ang long awaited Battle of Katipunan. Sporting Blue and White, kumikinang ang side nila Donghyuck at punong puno ng energy dahil sa mga alumni true blue dads na nag sspear head sa mga cheer (Blue Eagle Spelling!) . Thankful sina Hyuck, Renjun, at Jaemin dahil bestfriend nila ang isa sa mga ace ng team dahil ngayon ay napakaganda ng view nila ng court. There’s only a couple of minutes left bago mag warm up ang mga players sa court. Lalo ring lumalakas ang sigawan ng mga supporters ng UP sa kabila.

 

Donghyuck feels a vibration in his pocket and sees a message from Mark.

 

Canada 🇨🇦 

Are you here na? 

 

Liwanag🌤

Oo. Dito na kame. Grabe ang exciting! Ang ingay na rito hahah!! Everyone’s cheering for you, panget!

 

Canada 🇨🇦 

You’ll be cheering for me?

 

Liwanag 🌤

Aba syempre, malamang.

 

Canada 🇨🇦 

Hehe. I’ll win the game for you?

 

Liwanag 🌤

Aba. Ang landi mo. Crush mo talaga ako eh no?

 

Canada 🇨🇦 

I’ll see you soon hyuckie! 

 

Donghyuck closes his phone. Kunwari di siya kinikilig. After their talk sa Matteo, Mark became more affectionate and more touchy. Aakbayan niya si Hyuck kapag magkatabi sila. Aasarin niya si Hyuck kapag nag tetext sila. It does weird things to Donghyuck’s heart. Pero he doesn’t want to think about it too much. The last thing he wants is to be that assumera friend na sisira ng friendship dahil sa feelings at maling akala.

 

Jeno eyes him with concern. “Dong, okay ka lang?”

 

“The fuck? Jeno. Bibig mo? Anong dong ka dyan?”

 

“You look too serious eh.”

 

“ I was texting Mark.”

 

Jeno gives him a knowing smile at katapos ay isang malalim na buntong hininga. “I know.”

 

“You saw?”

 

“Didn’t have too. You have that look in your face whenever you’re talking about or doing something that is Mark related.”

 

Jeno pats his head.

 

A beat passes. 

 

“Hyuck, may sasabihin ako.”

 

“Hmmm.” Donghyuck takes a sip of his overpriced coke (oo lahat ng bagay sa quezon city ay overpriced).

 

“I like you.”  Jeno stares at him, determination in his face. Yung tipong parang ang tagal na niyang realized to at sobrang komportable na niya around the fact.

 

Donghyuck chokes on his drink.

 

“Oprah???”

 

“Ha?” 

 

“Ha?”

 

“I mean, I liked you.” Medyo ginulo ni Jeno yung hair niya at binaba yung hawak na drink ni Hyuck na muntik na matapon.

 

“Grabe. Di mo talaga alam?” Jeno asks.

 

“Jeno. Is this some sort of joke?”

 

“You were charming, funny and cute nung ORSEM! and you talked to me. It was a no brainer.”

 

“Teka saglit. Jeno, final answer ba yan? Bakit parang di ko deserve?”

 

“Cmon hyuck.”

 

“So. Nung freshie year? Hanggang kailangan? Nung end ng first week?” Donghyuck adds whilst awkwardly laughing.

 

“Hindi. I liked you until last sem.” 

 

“Ulol”

 

“Hala siya. I’m the one baring my feelings ako pa tong ulol. San na si Renjun samahan ko nalang siya.”

 

“Jeno joke lang. Ito naman eh. I. Pero. Jen. You know I love you naman diba. You’re one of my bestest friends in the world.” Donghyuck bows his head, medyo nahihiya. He can’t believe na nagustuhan siya ni Jeno Lee? What?

 

“I know. I know. I mean tanggap ko naman. Tsaka I did my best to get over you. It took awhile but I got there. No hard feelings Hyuckie. You know I love you too as my platonic best bro friend.” Jeno pats Donghyuck’s head again. Walang halong lungkot o kirot sa mga salita ni Jeno. Hindi alam ni Donghyuck kung dapat maging thankful ba siya sa fact na yon o hindi dahil wala man lang siyang nagawa to help his best friend.

 

“Fuck. So all this time na nag-iinarte ako about kay Mark. Fuck, shet. Jeno. I’m so sorry.”

 

“Huy. No worries haha. You didn’t know and by that point i have put two and two na together. I wasn’t gonna overwhelm you with my stupid feelings when alam kong si Mark naman talaga yung mahal mo. I’ve liked you on the sidelines. It wasn’t the best experience, but it was you so, it wasn’t bad at all.”

 

“Jeno. Your feelings are not stupid. If anyone’s stupid that would be me. Okay. Tell me kung ano ang need ko gawin to make up to you. Dali. Libre kitang Gino’s?”

 

“Amin ka na kay Mark.”

 

“Patawa ka.”

 

“You asked me what I want you to do diba. I want you to be happy so confess to Mark.” Donghyuck picks up his drink and slumps against the bleacher.

 

“ You know it’s not that easy.”

 

“Bakit ako nagawa ko.”

 

“And it took you what? Only 3 years to do? Congrats, Jen.” Jeno laughs.

 

“Okay you have a point.”

 

Renjun arrives carrying a bag full of chips. Medyo hinihingal ito ay pinagpapawisan.

 

“Oh. Jeno, tapos na ba?”

 

“Yup.” Jeno replies.

 

“Amen” Renjun sighs, finally  sitting.

 

“Bitch, you knew?”

 

“Unlike you, I’m not dense nor stupid.”

 

“Aba, grabeng pag atake to ah? Gagalet?”

 

“It wasn’t my secret to tell besides, Donghyuck, I swear, I love you but you’re just. You don’t know the effect you have on people you know?”

 

“True” pahabol ni Jeno bago tignan ang bagong dating na text sa kanyang phone. And just like that nasa ibayong mundo na si Lee Jeno.

 

“Oh ikaw san ka galing?” 

 

“May pinasuyo.”

 

“Saan?”

 

“May naiwan.” Medyo pahina nang pahina ang reply ni Renjun.

 

Lalong tumindi ang ingay dahil sa paglabas ng mga players sa court at mas matinding pag drums ng bawat cheer squad.

 

“May siwang?” Tanong ni Hyuck.

 

“May naiwan si yukhei sa condo!” Ang sigaw ng iritang si Renjun.

 

“Ah. Kaya pala.”

 

“ I don’t want to hear it.”

 

“Psh.”

 

🏀

 

Somewhere sa Campus, 2018

 

Sa lahat ng araw kung kailan pwede makalimutan ni Hyuck ang cellphone niya ngayon pang may presentation siya sa buong Life Science department. Na invite kasi si Hyuck na mag bigay ng talk sa mga juniors nila about his previous Bio researches at international Biochem conferences (oh diba hindi naman totally patapon si Hyuck peksman).

 

Dalawang lugar lang ang pwedeng pagtaguan ng phone niya. Either sa Mcdo Katipunan dahil doon sila nag breakfast o sa Condo ni Mark dahil dun sila nag sleepover. Note—sila. That means kasama si Renjun at Jeno. Hindi ito bold, okay kids. Tinulungan kasi ng magkakaibigan si Hyuck na mag practice for his presentation. 

 

Malapit na rin mapuno ang auditorium classroom dito sa SOM at kailangan na ni Donghyuck yung Phone niya!!! He walked to the center of the room to speak to Jeno.

 

“Jeno. Napansin mo ba yung cellphone ko?”

 

Jeno purses his lip in concentration. 

 

“No eh. Have you checked your bag? I remember you checking your emails pa kanina sa Mcdo eh.” 

 

“Oo nga. I must have left it there. Can you call Renjun baka natabi niya?” Hyuck asks him.

 

Bigla nanaman umingay sa auditorium at napuno ng bulungan. Di nalang pinansin ni Hyuck dahil busy siyang mag breakdown sa nawawala niyang Phone.

 

“Ah. I know where your phone is.” Jeno laughs. 

 

“Siguro naman wala pang kumuha non no. Ang pangit pangit ng model nun eh.”

 

“Hyuck. Tingin ka sa likod” Jeno instructs. 

 

And lo and behold. Ang source ng mini tili at sigaw ng mga students sa room. Andito pala si Mark. At nandito si Mark wearing his training gear at medyo pawis pa sa kakatakbo.

 

“Hyuck!” Mark meets him halfway sa room and gives Donghyuck his phone.

 

“Nasayo?”

 

“Nilagay mo sa back pocket ko nung omoorder tayo bago ka pumasok sa CR. I forgot din na nilagay mo pala. I just noticed it’s there when I was changing clothes for training.” 

 

Hyuck gets his phone from Mark. He noticed na basang basa sa pawis ang kaibigan so kinuha niya yung panyo niya at… binato kay Mark.

 

“Para kang bata Mark. Look at yourself sobrang pawis mo. Did you run from the gym to here?”

 

“Secret”

 

“Aba.”

 

Hindi nalang pinapansin ni Donghyuck yung bulung bulungan at tingin ng mga juniors niya habang hinahatid niya palabas ng auditorium si Mark with Jeno in tow.

 

“Don’t I get a thank you?” Mark fixes his cap.

 

“Oo na. Thank you na po. Balik ka na sa training mo baka awayin ako ng coach mo dahil late ka.” 

 

“Good luck, hyuck.” Mark leans in closer, rubbing Donghyuck’s neck. Mabuti nalang at nasa labas na sila ng auditorium at walang nakakita sa explicit na pagpula ni Donghyuck. Hindi na siya na ka reply dahil tumatakbo na si Mark pabalik ng Gym. 

 

“Oh. Bakit mukha kang kamatis dyan.” Jeno asks.

 

“Ewan ko sa’yo dun ka sa Nana mo!”

 

“Hala ka.” 






After ng talk at sabay sabay nag lunch si Renjun at Hyuck. He couldn’t help but ask his friend about what he noticed earlier.

 

“Sino nanamang kaaway mo sa phone mo?” Hyuck asks kasi kung hindi niya pupunahin si Renjun, baka biglang masunog na yung phone sa titig ng Kaibigan.

 

“Wala.” Renjun replies pointedly.

 

“Weh?” Pang aasar ni Hyuck.

 

“Sabunot, you want?”

 

“Umalis kana sa instagram ni Yukhei, wala namang bago dyan.” 

 

Donghyuck:1000 Renjun: 0

 

“Daming alam ah. Umamin ka na kay Mark?”

 

“Shut up na ako. Ito na nga.”

 

They both went back to eating their lunch. Medyo maaliwalas ngayon sa Gonzaga 2nd floor dahil tapos na ang peak lunch hours at konti lang ang students na nakatambay.

 

“Renjun, kanina. Diba binigay ni Mark yung phone ko before my talk. Tapos di naman sa pagiging feelingera pero feeling ko nagbubulungan yung ibang mga students.”

 

Renjun stops glaring at his phone to reply. “Ahhh. Kahapon ko lang din napanood. Search mo Player of the game interview ni Mark last week.”

 

“Bakit?”

 

“Just do it. Dami arte eh.”

 

Hyuck clicks on the first video which appeared after searching. Maikili lang yung video. It features Mark tsaka yung courtside reporter na sobrang cute.

 

Donghyuck plays the clip.

 

“What do you think were the improvements that your team were able to execute in this game to result in such victory?”

 

“This is gonna sound so cliche but everything boils down to Teamwork. The guys and I really worked our ass off every training and we made sure all of us were thinking and aiming for the same goal. I’m just happy it translated pretty well on court.”

 

Mark chugs down a bottle of gatorade as the reporter talks.

 

Sa final question the reporter asks Mark if he wanted to thank anyone in particular.

 

“First I want to thank God always for his grace and support. I want to thank coach,  my teammates, the family of my teammates, my mom and dad in Canada, my friends, and uh most specially my best friend whom I won this game for. You know who you are! I’m always thankful for you.”

 

Donghyuck lets the video stop and the screen fade to black. Siya ba yung tinutukoy ni Mark? Oh meron siyang secret best friend na di niya nabanggit kay Hyuck? And why is Renjun looking at him like that.

 

“Ganda mo ah.” Renjun comments, smirking.

 

“Gusto mo bang uminom mamaya?” Hyuck replies, downing his maligamgam na canteen water. 

 

Mark: 1000000 Donghyuck: in love

 

🏀

University Dorms, 2018

 

“Renjun paki remind nga ako bakit ko tinahak itong landas na to.” Donghyuck laments to Renjun. They’re on a call. Donghyuck likes studying with background noise at  bored si Renjun. Perfect combination!

 

“You said you want to be the youngest doctor, attorney, biologist, at rocket Filipino scientist.” his friend on the other end replied.

 

“Hay, to be young and pabibo. Gusto ko nalang maging kikiam beh, Pagod na ako kaka kulay at kaka drawing ng bacteria.” 

 

“What? Hindi ba Hatdog dapat yung nasa sentence na iyo?”

 

“Halos lahat Hatdog na eh. Kikiam nalang ako at least unique.”

 

“Arte mo talaga.” 

 

“Bakit ba.” Bumalik sa pagsagot ng lab work si Donghyuck while Renjun stays on the line. A few minutes pass and he can hear Renjun sigh. 

 

“Hyuck.”

 

“Uhm.”

 

“Do you think Yukhei will take me back?”

 

“He’s gotta be the biggest idiot for him not to love you.” 

 

“Don’t you think I've hurt him enough?” Donghyucks places his color pen on the table.

 

“You were both young. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with choosing yourself. Wala ka namang ginawang masama. You didn’t cheat. Hindi mo siya ginago. You’re not a bad person for wanting him back.” Donghyuck replies.

 

“Hmmm..”

 

“May point ako no.” Donghyuck teases him. Renjun might seem hard on the edges at closed off pero Donghyuck knows how caring his friend is. He’s thoughtful, frank, at he’s never scared to confront you kapag alam niyang sumosobra kana. Donghyuck is thankful na may nakilala siyang Renjun at minsan nalulungkot siya when he sees Renjun get hurt, kapag nadudulas siya at napapakita niya na nangungulila niya for Yukhei.

 

Biglang nag “ping!!!!” ang laptop ni donghyuk and he sees a message from mark sa messenger.

 

King Igel

Are you busy? You weren’t picking up your phone !!

 

King Sun

Ka usap ko si RJ, why?

King Igel

Oh. You can call me nalang when you’re done.

 

King Sun

Patapos narin ata kami wait.

 

“Hoy Donghyuck. Sige. I think I’m gonna go. Ligo muna ako.” Renjun tells him.

 

“Are you sure? Okay ka lang?” Donghyuck asks.

 

“Ako pa. Go na. Mark’s probably waiting for you.”

 

“He can wait you know, if kailangan mo ko.”

 

“Hindi nga, pabebe mo. Dali na. Bye bye.” Renjun ends the call. Nag stretch muna si Donghyuck nang very very slight at chineck kung nag-aaral ba ang roommates niya. Donghyuck, because he’s a scholar, opted to stay inside the Ateneo Dorms. Kahit na 4th year na siya, he has gotten used to the dorm life and he’s made great friends na rin there and besides his mom likes it better as well. Mas safe. Kaya up until now may roommates pa rin siya. Upon knowing na wala namang maiistorbo. He calls Mark.

 

“Condo ka na?” Donghyuck greets him

 

“No. I’m on the way there?”

 

“Saan?” Nag panic si donghyuck at tumingin sa paligid niya nang parang tanga. Pano makakapasok si Mark sa dorm room niya? Ano yun nag teleport?

 

“Dorm mo.” 

 

“Luh. Late na ah. It’s 9. Teka. Kumain kana?” Donghyuck checks his  laptop for the time.

 

“Ay. Haha. You want me to be honest ba?” 

 

“Mark Agustus Romualdez Lee, wag mo sabihin sakin na hindi ka pa nag didinner?” 

 

“That is not my name.”

 

“Kailan ka last kumain?”

 

“Breakfast?” Mark replies. Nanlaki ang mata ni Donghyuck.

 

“Seryoso kaba? Bilis bilisan mo ang paglakad. I think Ignacio is still open. Let’s eat there.”

 

“Yes boss.”  Mark agrees. “Can you stay on the line?” He adds.

 

“Why? Are you scared of the dark?”

 

“Miss ko lang voice mo.”

 

“Malandi ka. Pupukpukin ko si Wong. Kung ano ano tinuturo sa’yo. Ewan ko sayo. Basta I’ll meet you in front of UD?”

 

“Hahahaha. Ok. See you.”







Hyuck sits on the steps in front of the dorms. Nakalimutan niyang nag start na lumamig. He should’ve worn a jacket man lang or something. He scrolls through his phone while waiting. 

 

After a few minutes, na kita ni Hyuck ang isang shadow approaching. Mark stands before him wearing his glasses and his blue eagle hoodie. He looks a little tired.

 

“Buhay ka pa pala,” bati ni Donghyuck.

 

“Sama mo naman sakin. Is Ignacio still open? Tara let’s eat.” Mark announces.

 

“Talagang kakain tayo. Libre ko na may extra food stubs pa ako for this month. Kunware nalang gutom na gutom ako. Sayang den baka di ko maubos tong free stubs ya know.” Hyuck replies. Biglang humangin nang malamig at di napigilan ni Donghyuck na mag react. He hugs himself for warmth.

 

“Tsk. It’s nearing November and you forgot to wear warm clothes. You’ll get sick sige.”

 

“Sorry na. Nakalimutan ko lang eh.”

 

Mark only huffs, reaching for his duffel bag. Hinayaan ni Donghyuck ang sarili niya na tignan si Mark. Nakaupo pa rin siya at nakatayo si Mark in front of him. Mark hands him his dark blue hoodie with 02 and lee printed sa likod. Every year may exclusive hoodies na pinapamigay ang team nila for the members. Ibig sabihin si Mark lang ang may ganito. Very limited edition. 

 

“There. Wear that.”

 

“Wow. Magkano ko kaya to mabebenta sa Lazada?” Ang sabi ni Donghyuck.

 

“Outch. Talagang benta hah.”

 

“Hehe joke lang.” Donghyuck wears the hoodie, feeling the soft cotton embrace him. Hindi rin niya napigilan ang pag swarm ng butterflies sa stomach niya. The hoodie smells so much like Mark. It smells like warmth, and home . Donghyuck stands up, his eyes, a little shy, not meeting Mark’s.




Thankful sila at hindi pa nakasara ang Ignacio. Suki si Donghyuck dito at kilalang kilala na ng mga servers mapa morning o night shift man. They settled sa mga table sa may veranda. It’s an open space outside the main canteen. Here, they can see Marikina’s night lights. Hyuck finishes the last of his Pinakbet and Mark downs what’s left of his Ice Tea. 

 

“Hayyyyy. Miss ko na Luto ni mama.” Donghyuck starts, spreading his legs at sumandal sa chair niya. 

 

Mark sits still beside him. “Me too.”

 

“You know. I’m actually jealous of you. Feeling ko hindi ka ganon ka homesick. I remember during first year. Nung unang month ko sa dorm, ilang beses akong umiyak before matulog. I thought it would be easy and fun and exciting to finally be away from the province, to be independent. Mali pa ako.” Donghyuck confesses.

 

Mark replies, “Don’t get me wrong. I miss my parents and sometimes I do think about the people I left back in Canada. Those memories will always be a part of who I am. But, I made a life here already. They’re happy there. I’m happy here. Yun nalang iniisip ko when it gets hard”  He adds, “You asked me if I was scared of the Dark, tama ba?”

 

“Ahuh.”

 

“I was. I was a child when I came here. Barely knew anyone. Pero may dumating naman na liwanag eh. I met you so, bakit pa ako matatakot?”

 

“Ginawa akong bodyguard? Ampota” Sagot ni Donghyuck laughing, kunwari hindi tagos sa kokoro niya yung mga salitang binitawan ni Mark. 

 

When both of their laughter died, they enjoyed a welcomed silence. 

 

Donghyuck looks at his best friend. Tinanggal na niya yung cap niya at dahil sa malakas na hangin bumuhaghag yung buhok niya. He looks so messy pero bawat pag-kurap ng mga mata niya dumidiretso sa puso ni Hyuck.

 

Mark Lee who didn’t know anyone in the Philippines except Jeno. Mark Lee whose heart bleeds blue. Mark Lee the King Eagle. Mark Lee, his best friend. Mark Lee na minahal niya at mahal na mahal pa rin.

 

Mark Lee, how sweet is it nga ba to be loved by you?

 

“Panget.” Biro ni Hyuck.

 

“Hmm?”

 

Maybe ito na yon. It’s nearing Christmas. Magkasama sila ni Mark na nagpapahinga sa harap ng liwanag ng gabi ng Marikina. Donghyuck is wearing Mark’s hoodie. The silence they’re sharing feels so comfortable. It spreads warmth na damang dama ni Donghyuck, pati puso niya, parang pinipiga.

 

He doesn’t know when he fell in love with Mark. Baka nung 2nd year at nahuli niyang nakatulog si Mark sa Rizal library habang nag pplay ng lecture yung laptop niya. Hindi siya sigurado, baka nung hindi siya pinansin ni Mark nung first day of classes at later on naman ay nag pa sorry rin. Pwede rin nung naka three points si Mark sa MOA Arena at ang una niyang ginawa ay halikan ang kaniyang kamay at tumuro sa itaas. Hindi religious si Donghyuck, pero mahal niya kung gaano kamahal ni Mark ang kaniyang Panginoon. 

 

Baka hindi lang isang specific moment, pwede rin na araw-araw, tuwing nasusulyapan niya ang ngiti nito, kapag pinipicturan niya si Mark na tulo laway sa pagod kapag nag ssleep over sila, kapag hinahaplos ni Mark ang pisngi ni Donghyuck kapag pagod na pagod na siya, unti unti. Maybe somewhere in Mark’s embrace, the way he smiles. Mmaybe it’s because of the beautiful constellation of moles in his neck. Maybe it’s just Mark. 

 

Pagmamahal.

 

All of him.

 

Kahit kailan. 

 

Game na. 

 

Sure na.

 

Donghyuck feels his throat tighten. Bakit parang naluluha siya? He bites his lower lip. What the heck?

 

“Hyuck, are you okay?” Napansin ni Mark ang lagay ji Hyuck at sinubukang hawakan ang kanyang kamay.

 

“Mark. I—“

 

“Mga sir. closing na po kami. Sorry po sa abala.” One of the servers in the canteen awkwardly says. Siguro na feel niya rin na naka istorbe siya sa moment ng dalawa.

 

Medyo natauhan si Hyuck at tumayo.

 

“Ah sorry po. We can go.” Hyuck replies, dragging Mark towards the exit.

 

“Hyuck. What happened there? Is everything Okay? Are you feeling unwell.” Mark stops walking, hinila niya si Donghyuck papalapit sa kaniya.

 

“Okay lang. Parang uubuhin ata ako. Wala lang to.” Hyuck jokingly says back. Mark started feeling his forehead, caressing his cheeks to check his temp. 

 

“Pinapakaba mo ako.” Mark replies.

 

I make you nervous? You make me feel like I’m about to vomit my insides. Isang tingin mo lang lunod na ako. So sino sa atin ang dehado?

 

“Sige na. Uwi kana. We have class tomorrow. Where did you park your car?” Donghyuck asks, rubbing his cheeks.

 

“Somewhere. Dyan lang. Don’t worry it’s near. You go back inside na then I’ll go.” Mark instructs him.

 

Sumimangot lang si Donghyuck sa kanya.

 

“Ano gusto mo?”

 

Donghyuck spreads his arms, inviting Mark for a hug and of course Mark complies, hugging the living daylight out of his best friend caressing and petting Donghyuck’s head. Donghyuck tucks his face sa leeg ng kaniyang best friend. Enjoying the warmth, his presence. 

 

“Ikaw Hyuckie ah. Feeling ko crush mo ko.” Mark teases. 

 

Donghyuck is not a liar pero hindi rin siya matapang, kaya all he did was hug Mark even tighter in reply. 

 

Donghyuck hopes na baka bukas matapang na siya.

 

🏀

 

On the way to Pampanga, 2018

 

“Shet ka Renato Junior! Sabi mo sa akin sasama ka?” Sigaw ni Donghyuck sa phone niya.

 

“I swear. I already packed my shit and everything but something important came up at home. Di ako pwedeng umalis eh. God I’m so fucking sorry. I will kill my parents talaga,” Renjun says on the other line.

 

“Ay teka ganon ba. Sorry. Parents mo pala ang kalaban akala ko makikipag date ka lang eh.”

 

“Donghyuck”

 

“Issa prank. I understand. Kung need mo ng backup text mo lang kami ah. Lilipad ako from Arayat to BGC.” 

 

Renjun snorts at his comment. “Yeah yeah. Have fun!”

 

“I would say the same but.”

 

“ You don’t have to rub it in my face bwiset ka sige na. Bye.”

 

Ang napag usapan talaga nila since the beginning ng sem is to all go (the three of them) sa probinsya nila Donghyuck to celebrate their fiesta before the doom of finals week starts. But it turns out hindi makakasama si Renjun sa Arayat. Mark and Donghyuck are waiting in Mark’s condo dahil si Mark and designated driver nila.

 

“Nasan na ba si Jeno? Kapag yon nang ghost den. Nako sinasabi ko.”

 

“Hey, Jen. Where kana? Donghyuck’s turning orange already.”  Jeno is apparently calling Mark.

 

“Ahhh. Your prof suddenly set a deadline for Monday and you won’t be able to go?”

 

“Anong deadline yan? LEE JE—“ Hyuck tried grabbing Mark’s phone

 

“Ah it’s for your interdisciplinary elective. Sige sige I will tell Hyuck. I’m sure he’ll understand.” Mark immediately ends the call.

 

“Hoy. Anong deadline yan. Wala namang sinet ang mga profs ah.”

 

“For his interdisciplinary elective nga diba.”

 

“Psh. Makikipag momol lang yon sa jowa niyang taga UP” sagot ni Donghyuck.

 

“So selos ka?” Mark barks back. Looking at Hyuck straight in the eyes.

 

“Bakit ako magseselos? Hindi ko naman siya gusto.” Donghyuck answers, straight to the point. Mark visibly relaxes at the reply.

 

“I’m sorry that was rude.”

 

“Weakshit ka pala eh. Kung si Renjun lang yon nagkamatayan muna kami bago may nag sorry.” Donghyuck laughs.

 

“Are we still g?” 

 

“I mean. I have to. Pero kung ayaw mo na it’s okay. Kaya ko naman mag commute. 4 years ko nang tinatahak ang Cubao at Nlex para makauwi. Yakang yaka naman.”

 

“No no. Let’s go. I’ve been dying to meet tita and tito.” 

 

“Sure ka ba?”

 

“Oo nga. C’mon so we don’t arrive too late.”

 

“Sige.”






Hindi naman super hassle ang byahe except sa may EDSA pero lahat naman expect yon. The pair arrived at Donghyuck’s childhood home after almost 4 hours of sitting in the car. 1 month ago lang since last umuwi si Donghyuck at wala naman sobrang pinagbago sa barangay at bahay nila. Medyo madilim lang sa part ng town nila dahil ang likod ng bahay nila Hyuck ay palayan pero at least tahimik at malamig.

 

Tita Dianne Lee greets them both pagka labas palang nila sa sasakyan. Pero hindi inakala ni Hyuck na imbes siya ang yakapin ng ina, dumiretso ito kay Mark.

 

“Ay nako, Mark! Sa wakas nakadalaw ka rin dito. Feeling ko mas kilala na nga kita kaysa anak ko. Ikaw lang ang bukang bibig nito eh.” Sabi ng kanyang mama habang yakap yakap nang mahigpit si Mark.

 

“Ma hinay hinay sa tagalog. Canadian yan. Tsaka hello? Anak mo ako? Yakap?” Pagmamaktol ni Donghyuck.

 

“Ay is that true? Sorry Mark. Na excite lang si tita. Dodong my anak ipasok mo na mga gamit niyo at aayusin ko na ang lamesa.”

 

“MA!” God. Hindi naman sa ayaw ni Hyuck sa nickname na iyon kaso nakakahiya kasi lalo na kay Mark. Speaking of Mark. Donghyuck wa suprised to see Mark genuinely smiling, hindi siya awkward nor uncomfortable at all. In fact, tawa lang siya nang tawa sa antics ni Tita Dianne.

 

“Oh. Let’s put the bags inside na raw dodong”

 

“Tangina mo Mark Lee papatulugin kita sa labas sige” Donghyuck threatens him. Syempre tinawan lang siya ng best friend niya bago pumasok sa loob.






Minsan gustong ipanalangin ni Donghyuck na yung parents niya na maging strict at conservative type dahil in real life sobrang opposite ng Parents niya rito. (Pero syempre biro lang ito)

 

“Mark. You’re from Canada no? I used to work there back in the 90s before Donghyuck was born. The people are nice but the weather is so unpredictable no?” Daldal ng tatay ni Hyuck habang pinaghihimay sina Hyuck at Mark ng alimango.

 

“Yes Tito Don. It’s usually pretty gloomy there most of the time.” Mark agrees.

 

“Totoo yan. Kaya I always knew I would settle in the Philippines talaga. I’m also happy that Donghyuck was born here. Bagay siya rito sa Pilipinas, mahal na mahal ng araw, no anak?”

 

“Opo pa,” bulong ni Hyuck

 

“Opo. sayang yung ganda ng kutis niya kung sa Canada or Korea niyo po siya pinalaki, there’s no sun there.” Mark tries his best to speak in Tagalog despite his struggle.

 

“Oh Hyuck, ang ganda pala raw ng kutis mo oh. Si Mark na nagsabi niyan.”

 

“Pa. Okay na yang nahimay mo. Pwede na po tayong kumain. Opo ano.” Ang segway ni hyuck, ignoring his father’s comment. Hindi alimango ang magpapataas ng blood pressure niya at this point. 

 

Bumalik si Tita Dianne nang may bitbit na umuusok pang Sinigang na hipon. “Oh iho, pakapangan —este pakakain mo ah. Pasensya na nakalimutan kong di ka pala marunong mag kapampangan.”

 

“Yes po tita. Thank you for all of these. Sobrang sarap po nilang lahat. They’re all manyaman ” 

 

“Ay haha. Salamat Mark! Don’t worry mas marami pang pagkain bukas.” 

 

“Pst bola.” Hyuck teases. Hindi na nireplyan ni Mark si Hyuck at pibiro nalamang sinuntok sa braso.






Hours later after hugasan ni Tito Don ang mga pinggan kasama si Mark at katapos nilang mag hilamos, they both settled down sa kwarto ni Hyuck (syempre with the door opened. Lenient man ang parents ni Hyuck ganito, precious baby sweetums pa rin nila si Hyuck). Mark is lying on his back sa isang mattress na nakalapag sa floor sa tabi ng bed ni Hyuck. They’re both busy with their phones.

 

“Your parents seem cool.” Mark starts, placing his phone sa kaniyang dibdib at dinayo ang tingin sa kaibigan.

 

“Cool or annoying?”

 

“Nah. Enthusiastic, yes, and mabait, definitely.”

 

“Ehe, joke lang. Syempre. My parents mean the world to me.”

 

“I’m not surprised as to why.” Mark chuckles.

 

Ginilid ni Donghyuck ang kaniyang katawan so he’s near the edge of his bed and he’s facing Mark. 

 

“Minsan, iniisip ko, kung gaano ako ka swerte sa mga magulang ko. I mean, I admit I’m very high maintenance minsan kaya I try my best to give back sa pag-aaral.” He confesses. Mark scoots closer towards Hyuck.

 

“You’re not very hard to love, Hyuckie.” Mark says, scanning Hyuck’s face.

 

Stop. Parang may pinakawalang zoo sa tyan ni Hyuck. The fact na they’re both in his childhood room, and Mark looks cuddly and soft sa lapag niya do things to his heart.

 

He doesn’t know what to reply to that! Ang nasa utak niya lang ngayon ay  Ang sarap siguro halikan ni Mark ngayon . So as usual what he does is tumawa nang napakalakas.

 

“Hahahhahahahhaahahah, hay.” When Donghyuck’s laughter dies down he sees Mark just peering at him with a look in his eyes that makes Donghyuck lose his mind a little. 

 

He streches hi arm, catching Mark’s fingers. He starts playing with them. Ramdam niya ang kalyo sa mga kamay ni Mark,  at mga peklat mula sa mga sugat na na accumulate niya throughout the years of playing basketball.

 

“Mark pwedeng favor?”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Please don’t look at me like that.” Donghyuck whispers, letting go of Mark’s fingers.

 

“Like what?” Kita ang confusion sa mukha ni Mark.

 

“Like you might just love me.” Donghyuck says, in a whisper, barely heard, with a voice so faint.

 

At dahil perfect lagi ang timing ni Tita Dianne, she knocks on Donghyuck’s door, asking them if everything’s okay, at matulog na soon. 

 

Mark doesn’t reply to him so inayos nalang ni Donghyuck ang pwesto niya, his back facing Mark. He looks outside the window and sees the moon on its fullness alone without a single star in sight.

 

🏀

Arayat, 2018

 

Hindi alam ni Donghyuck kung matatawa ba siya o ano dahil never in a million years niyang inisip na makikita niya ang The Mark Lee na sobrang concentrated at seryoso sa pagtingin sa seemingly blank paper worth 10 pesos.

 

“Kuya kuya tingin ko otso yan,” bulong ng isang bata mula sa kumpol na nakapaligid kay Mark, pang 6 na attempt na ni Mark na hulaan ang hidden number na nakasulat sa papel para manalo ng isang… colorful sisiw. Naka 60 pesos na si Mark at dumami na rin ang audience niyang mga bagets.

 

“No. I think 7.”

Mark replies crouching down to level with the kid.

 

“Kuya wala bang clue?” Ani ni Mark. Tahimik lang si Hyuck sa gilid habang pinapanood ang nangyayari sa harap niya.

 

“Bopols naman tong si Kuya eh. Tama si Chikchik, otso yan.”

 

“No. Chikchik mali ka. Sure akong 7 to.”

 

“Anding, ikaw ano sa tingin mo?” Tanong ni Mark sa isa pang backup niyang walang malay.

 

“Otso kuya positive.”

 

“Eh,”  Mark says in agony. Tumingin siya sa kaliwa at kananan trying to find his best friend.

 

“Hyuck, tignan mo ano to. Guys he’s the master talaga. C’mere. This is 7 right.” Donghyuck took pity on Mark and finally decided to intervene. Hindi naman sa nagmamayabang pero record holder ata si Hyuck sa bilang ng mga sisiw na nauwi na niya kapag Fiesta.

 

“Akin na.” Mark gives him the paper. Napa snort si Hyuck dahil napaka seryoso talaga ni Mark. Hyuck clears his throat at tinapat ang papel sa araw. Ayun. Napaka easy. He gives the paper back to mark.

 

“So, it’s 7 right?” Mark asks, crossing his arms.

 

“Chikchik magaling ka. It’s eight. Sorry Bubu,” sabi ni Hyuck petting Mark’s head. He sees mark pout. Hyuck giggles.

 

It turns out of course na tama si Hyuck matapos i submerge ni Kuya yung papel sa tubig lumitaw ang number eight.

 

“Sir pili po kayo ng sisiw” 

 

Mark crouches down to survey yung mga sisiw sa cart ni Kuya. 

 

“Yung yellow po.”

 

Inabot ni kuya yung sisiw na ngayon ay nasa chicken wire at may tali na yellow. 

 

“Ahhh. Nice.” Sobrang excited ni Mark sa sisiw niya. “Hello Mikmik” Mark peers at the innocent chick.

 

“Oh sabi ko sa’yo kuya eh, otso. Ayaw mo pa maniwala.” Sabi ni Chikchik kay Kuya Mark. Napangiti lamang ito at inabot ang sisiw sa bata.

 

“Sa’yo na si mikmik” Sabi ni Mark. 

 

“Hala!” Sabi ni Ading.

 

“Loko mo ako Kuya eh.” Sabi ni Chikchik na nagtatago sa likod ng kalaro.

 

“Hindi nga. It’s yours. Ang talino mo eh! You deserve it.”

 

“Chikchik, kunin mo na para may kalaro yung sisiw ni Botbot,” sabi ng isang chikiting.

 

Nahihiyang kinuha ni Chikchik ang sisiw mula sa kamay ni Mark. “Thank you po, Kuya Mark!”

 

Pagkatapos noon ay sabay sabay na nagtakbuhan ang mga bata upang hanapin ang sisiw ni Botbot.

 

“Cute naman no.” Donghyuck teases, putting his arm around Mark.

 

“Yun lang? Ako hindi cute?”

 

“Mas cute yung sisiw. Teka, bakit Mikmik ang pinangalan mo?”

 

Mabagal nilang tinahak ang daan pauwi sa bahay ni Hyuck. Masaya at maingay na sa kanilang barangay dahil sa mga nag vivideoke, mga nag kukuwentuhan at nagkakasayahan dahil sa Fiesta.

 

“Ah. Yellow siya parang ikaw, my sun!” Sabi ni Mark sabay turo sa araw. “Tapos kay chikchik ko binigay kaya I changed Mikmik kasi Mark, so that she remembers us whenever she sees the chick.

 

“Nge. Napaka cheesy mo.” Tinulak ni Hyuck palayo si Mark.

 

“Only for you,” Mark whispers back.








Ibang klase talaga kapag pinagsama sa isang bubong ang angkang Dela Cruz- Lee, parang sasabog yung bahay dahil sa daldal at tawa ng kaniyang mga tito at tita kasama na ang sigawan ng mga makukulit niyang pinsan. 

 

“Ah, iho. Ikaw ba yung nag bbasketball sa TV? nanonood yung anak ko lagi non at parang pamilyar ka!” Share mo lang yan Tita Linda?

 

Tahimik na kumakain si Mark sa sala nang biglang dumating ang mga tita niya from Bulacan.

 

“Ang pogi mo naman. May girlfriend ka na ba? Yung anak ko Tourism ngayon yon. Maganda at mabait!” Ani ni Tita Lourdes.

 

Nabitawan ni Hyuck yung tinidor niya sa sahig noong narinig niya ang tanong. Mark looks at him in concern. 

 

“Ay sorry po. Kuha akong bago.” Sabi ni Donghyuck, pero bago siya makatayo, Mark held his hand sa ilalim ng lamesa, not allowing him to go.

 

“Wala po akong girlfriend. Hindi naman po ako naghahanap. May hinihintay po kasi ako.” Sagot ni Mark sa mga tita ni Hyuck. He started caressing Hyuck’s palm.

 

Sinong hinihintay ng mokong na to?  Tanong ni Hyuck sa sarili, scrunching his eyebrows in the process.

 

“Ay ganon ba. Pero kung di kayo matuloy nako itong anak kong si Patty yung pinsan ni Dong sa tingin ko bagay talaga kayo. Kilala ni Dong yon si Patty. Hindi ba Dong?” 

 

Hindi alam ni Hyuck kung ano na ang itsura ng mukha niya ngayon pero sure siyang malapit na niyang maputol itong kutsara sa kanang kamay niya. Mark softened his grip on Hyuck’s hand but never leaving it alone.

 

Hyuck only hummed sa kaniyang mga etchoserang tita. Halos 4 years nang naghihintay at patay na patay si Hyuck sa beat friend niya tapos eepal tong mga tita niya (respectfully).

 

Donghyuck gets off his seat. “Cr lang po ako tita, di ata ako natunawan.” He lets go of Mark’s hand sa ilalim ng table and went walking towards his room.

 

Donghyuck opens his door to his room at tinakpan ang mukha niya gamit ang mga kamay. Maygad why is he so irritated about what happened? Ugh. He doesn’t understand.

 

Someone opens the door behind him.

 

“Mark go away. I don’t want to see your face.” Pagmamaktol ni Hyuck, not facing Mark.

 

“Hyuckie. They weren’t being serious. Nag jojoke lang sila.” Mark tries to appease him.

 

“So gusto mo naman na nirereto ka sa iba?”

 

“Of course not.”

 

“Ay oo nga pala may hinihintay ka. I forgot and you never even told me? Sige pakilala mo nalang siya kapag kayo na.” Donghyuck spits back.

 

Mark looks confused. “Why are you being like this Hyuck?”

 

Donghyuck yanks his hair, messing it up.

“Ewan ko.”

 

Mark looks at him suddenly, “Are you jealous?”

 

Ay natumpak niya ren! Congrats Mark! Bigyan ng Jacket!

 

“Di mo sure?” Balik ni Donghyuck habang nakasimangot pa rin.

 

“Hyuck, bakit ka nagseselos?”

 

Gustong na iuntong ni Hyuck yung ulo niya o yung ulo ni Mark sa pader. 

 

“BECAUSE I LOVE YOU??? Napaka dense mo Mark. Malamang mahal kita. 3 years, Canada… Tatlong taon na.” Donghyuck finally says. Closing his eyes. He sits in his bed.

 

Mark is still silent. Lumakad lang siya papalit sa at umupo sa tabi ni hyuck. Nakatakip parin ang mukha niya sa mga kamay niya. Mark tries to peel Donghyuck’s hands off his face at syempre Hyuck gives in.

 

Donghyuck was facing Mark para sabihan siya when he felt a pair of lips against his own, and a tentative touch of a hand in his jaw. Holy shit? Hinahalikan ? Siya? Ni? Mark?

 

The kiss was nothing too grand, just two lips touching, like two souls meeting each other for the very first time. Hyuck’s mind goes blank, he only feels Mark’s hand softly caressing his cheeks, and his jaw.

 

They part in seconds. 

 

“I’ve been frankly wanting to do that for three years already.” Mark says, voice a little rough because of the lack of air, he says this habang hawak ang mukha ni Hyuck with both of his hands. 

 

Hyuck tries to pry away from Mark’s hold. “Ahhhhhh. Mark. Wag mo akong titignan. Dun ka! Alis!” Hyuck burrows his head sa isang unan niya.

 

“Why. Hyuck. C’mere dito ka sa tabi ko. Usap tayo.”

 

“Ayaw. Shy ako.” 

 

“Hyuck. Sige babalik ako sa mga tita mo.”

 

“Joke lang joke lang. Lika na rito, usap tayo.” Hyuck sits up, taking Mark’s hand.

 

“You said you were waiting for someone.”

 

“Hyuck, of course it’s you. Wala namang iba. Ikaw lang.”

 

“Eh sorry naman no. Wala kasing pa abiso.”

 

Mark laughs stealing a kiss from Hyuck’s cheeks

 

“Pero grabe I knew it, Crush mo talaga ako eh.” Biro ni Mark kay Hyuck.

 

“So? Ikaw nga dyan may pa halik pang nalalaman eh.” Donghyuck teases back, kissing Mark’s hand.

 

“It’s okay, mahal na man kita. Even tayo.” Mark says looking at Donghyuck straight in the eyes.




In that moment, nothing else mattered except ang dalawang mag best friends na finally, tinubuan na ng lakas ng loob. The sun is about to set and Hyuck’s room is filled with the warm light of the sun, basking in it, Mark and Donghyuck look so golden.









When they come back to Ateneo that Monday habang nag hoholding hands, Jeno reacts, “ Ah. Bago yan ah.” Yukhei whistles and says, “King Eagle for Three!” and Renjun covers his eyes, “ AHH mama may bold!!!”








Pahiwatig… Sana di magbago ang pagtingin.