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Chapter 7

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how we ended up being late for the meeting,” Jiro finished, having answered to the girls’ persistency in hearing the story.
“So Qiao Qiao’s moving out, huh?” Hebe asked – though Jiro had mentioned that already. “She should’ve asked me. I need a roommate.”
“I’ll move in with you,” Selina jumped in, grabbing at the chance.
Hebe turned to Selina. “Will your father agree?”
“Girls, we’re not talking about you right now,” Jiro interrupted.
“What do you guys want us to say about it then?” Hebe asked. “Qiao Qiao’s a big girl. She can take care of herself. You guys always underestimate us girls.”
“What are you talking about now?” Chun asked, bringing their tray of drinks. He handed Hebe her drink before placing the tray on the table for the other two.
Hebe took a sip out of her soda before speaking up again. “I was saying how you guys always underestimate us girls.”
Chun grabbed at Hebe’s accusing hand and laced it with his. “Hey, don’t include me. I wasn’t against her moving out. I was just shocked.”
“How did you know what we were talking about when you were gone the whole time?” Selina asked, gasping.
Chun finished taking his sip of soda before answering. “Based on his morbid face.” He turned to Jiro. “I told you not to tell them.”
“They wanted to know, okay?” Jiro shot back, sounding defensive.
“But you know what?” Hebe suddenly said, having released Chun’s hand already to eat like the others.
“What?” Chun asked, though he sort of guessed what was coming.
“It might be a good chance for everyone to cool down.”
Chun smiled, feeling the familiarity of the atmosphere as Jiro snapped his head up to stare at Hebe.
“He said the same thing!” Jiro exclaimed. “What’s with you and that philosophy? And you know what? You two live in the books too much. You have to inhale a little of reality. What is this? Some soap that you see people argue, separate, and somehow realize how madly in love they are so they decide to get back together?” He snorted, making his point.
“Aren’t you too much?” Selina jumped in. “Curve your tongue a little.” She gave him a look yet was not able to maintain the stern look for too long. It was not in her league after all.
“I don’t write romance, okay?” Hebe defended herself. She made sure to give Chun a reassuring squeeze on the hand that she was not bashing his genre.
Jiro placed his drink down. “Let’s face it. You’re with me because you love my ability to say exactly what I want.” That was of course meant for Selina. He then turned to Hebe. “Miss. Sci-fi, you’re out of touch with reality as much as him.” He continued on, not caring if the others were giving him their murderous looks. “This is how life is. She’s going to move out. He’s a bit sad that he can’t take care of his so-called sister, but he’ll get over it. He’ll move on with his career, filling the guest room full of junk again. Then…one fine day, he gets promoted and recognized for his hard work. Some celebration in place. Enough income for future plans. He decides he could start some kind of relationship and it could lead somewhere else…or he would have to go through several trials before succeeding aka finding the right girl. Get married, the end.” He only stopped long enough to take a quick sip of water, not wanting the others to have a chance to jump in. “Her? Moving out, exploring a whole new world. Find some cute guys. Since she has been trapped in our town her whole life, only knowing of the guys as far as our local schools, of course she could only like Ah Ru. Once she knows this wild, dangerous place, she would also notice other guys. Bam! There it goes. Everyone moves on. SO, that’s why my friend, if you don’t get on with solving their problems now, they would never end up together.”
“I thought you’re the most against them getting together,” Chun reminded Jiro. “I know you sound like you’re helping Qiao Qiao recently but…it’s like your little game. You enjoy seeing Ah Ru cringe every time Qiao Qiao gets near him.”
“I’m not that messed up, okay? I want to help her for real.”
“What if you’re wrong?” Hebe asked suddenly.
“What?” Jiro asked, confused.
“What if Calvin and Qiao Qiao will overcome their differences and get together after all?”
Jiro almost choked on his soda. “Are you kidding me? Distance will change people’s mind.”
“She likes him that long already, she wouldn’t change that fast.”
“It’s not her, it’s him.” He knew that sounded beyond clichéd. “I know that’s not the best line I ever said. But come on now. If you moved all icebergs from all over the world to here to challenge him, he would win.”
“Did you know that you just called him cold-blooded?” Chun jumped in.
Jiro shot Chun a glare. The one that said he was beyond annoyed already – and Chun should not even input. “Glad you noticed.”
“I still say he has the right to decide for himself who he likes.”
“What’s annoying about this whole thing is not because he doesn’t like her.”
“He does?” Selina asked, wrinkling her face in confusion. She slapped his hand. “Stop joking around.”
“I’m telling you it’s pride.”
“Who’s bringing out stuffs from a novel now?” Hebe teased, her smile widening, having caught Jiro off guard – or so she thought.
“I’m not talking about ‘Pride & Prejudice.’”
“Then how would you know which novel I’m talking about then?”
He sent her a half-smile. Yes, he was still in the sarcastic mood. “Haha.”
Chun was not able to help himself. He reached out and gave Hebe a high five.
“Come on, you guys,” Selina urged. “I want to hear what he has to say.”
“For once,” Chun added.
Jiro glared at Chun.
Chun shrugged, still smiling. “Go ahead.”
“It’s too obvious he likes her, but he keeps backing out of it,” Jiro continued.
“What do you suggest happened then?” Chun asked, his tone more serious than before – yet the smile on his face told it all. He was letting Jiro have his moment – slightly.
“How should I know?” Jiro asked back.
“Then you want to bet or not?” Hebe asked, not letting the situation go – though she had claimed it was senseless to engage in others’ matters some time ago on one of their double dates.
Jiro’s interest shot up several levels – at least the glint in his eye was getting even brighter. “I think someone wants to treat me to a meal.”
“But it means that we can’t interfere between them no matter what.”
“Fine with me. But easy for you to say since you don’t interact with them much.”
“There has to be a line drawn somewhere though,” Chun pointed out.
Jiro snapped his fingers. “Oh yeah. They’re a tad short tempered nowadays. What if they end up killing each other?”
“Then just stop them from fighting if they argue,” Hebe said. “But if it’s stuffs like setting them up on purpose or planning an incidental date, then that’s breaking the rules.”
“Is it just a simple meal if someone loses though?” Selina inquired, having observed their exchange.
“I get to pick the restaurant when I win,” Jiro replied, his mischievous smile displaying again.
“Are you with him or with us?” Hebe asked, eyeing Selina questioningly.
“She’s my girl, of course she’s with me,” Jiro replied in Selina’s place, slipping a protective hand around her shoulders.
“Stop influencing her.”
“You spoke up for Chun.”
Hebe turned to Chun at that time, indicating that he could choose his own side.
“I’m with you,” Chun replied, taking Hebe’s hand into his again.
“I’ll be seeing you emptying your pockets out at that chosen restaurant,” Jiro said, his challenging look on. He turned to Selina.
“I have to support my boyfriend, don’t I?” Selina answered, smiling at him.
“That’s set then.” As if remembering something, he turned to Hebe and Chun. “Wait, one more term.”
“What?” Hebe asked. “Do you need to further ensure your winning chance?”
“Do I look like I’m such a coward? I need one more thing to keep myself sane.”
Hebe gestured her hand. “Go ahead.”
“If Vanessa gets in the way, I can shoo her out, okay?”
“What kind of request is that?”
“I can’t stand her.”
“Okay, fine.”
“Okay, minus Vanessa, we’re set.”
“What’s the term then?” Selina asked. “We can’t wait all our lives to see if they ever get together.”
“Whichever one of them meet someone else and dates first, the bet ends,” Jiro said. “That also means if they get together before that happen, the bet stops.”
Hebe nodded. “Fair.”
Without another word, they raised their sodas up and clinked it, sealing the deal.
“Okay,” Hebe said after they took a sip to seal their agreement. “What are we doing the rest of the night?”
“Since we came late, movie’s out,” Chun said. “How about…”
“Shopping!” Hebe and Selina shouted out in unison.
Chun and Jiro exchanged a look. So much for being on different sides. But they could not back down. It was their fault after all that they were late – regardless of reason. They ended up accompanying their dates to different stores and having the honor of carrying both’s purchases.
“This is the only time ever in history that your girl and my girl get along so well,” Jiro whined as they were standing around outside of the shoes store, waiting for the girls.
Chun nodded. “What in the world are we going to do about it now?”
Jiro shrugged. “I think we just sentenced ourselves to life imprisonment. No way out.”
Chun shook his head. Drama King, he thought. Yet he was glad they were out enjoying the night with the girls, spending some times for themselves instead of worrying about Calvin and Joanne like usual.

*****

[*AUTHOR’S NOTE*: I highly urge you to put on BBMak’s “Ghost of You and Me” while reading the following part, especially Calvin’s.]

During the upcoming days, Chun and Jiro continued on with their lives like normal. Actually, more like the days before Joanne arrived in town and ruptured their lifestyles. However, that was just on the surface because they would constantly monitor the progress with Calvin and Joanne by appearing at various times to visit both parties – mostly separately.
With Calvin, it was a different case. Though he finally had the house to himself once again, but he found it even harder to concentrate on his work. Unlike what Jiro had predicted, Calvin did not fill the guest room with his projects like before. He kept it neat and the way it was since Joanne left. In fact, he even came in to vacuum or clean up at times when he was doing his own cleaning of the house in general. And during those times, he even leaned on the edge of the door, lost in thoughts. Ghosts of the past few months often came back to haunt him. In fact, it haunted him all around the house. Joanne’s smile upon seeing her room the first day she arrived. Joanne’s laughter echoed all around the house along with Chun and Jiro’s. Joanne’s fearful look when he had accused her of trashing his project. In fact, he was not able to recall anytime he had with Joanne that was happiness in its totality except for the first night she arrived and made dinner for him. Other times, it was always spent with Chun and Jiro, sometimes even Hebe and Selina.
The silent enveloping the atmosphere was suffocating him so much he was not able to concentrate. Yet the memories of the past were so loud in his mind that it was smothering him inside out. He often had to stay behind at the company to finish his work, not wanting to arrive home, knowing it was another battle of the night. Another battle to push back all the loneliness that was reaching out to grab him. The signs were too obvious, but he kept reassuring himself that the phase would soon pass because he needed some more time to adjust from the previous pattern. It was only a matter of time before he did not have to do such things anymore. It was only a matter of time before he could return to the lifestyle he once lived since he moved into this habitat.
One day in mid-January when the wind was lashing quite strong, Calvin was in his room doing his plan. He was given a break after finishing another big project and had earned some praises from his boss. He was working on the plan for his next project. He was suddenly on a roll and did not want to stop – even if it was supposed to be his week off. He only stopped when he heard the doorbell. He knew it was Chun and Jiro coming since he had told them he would be free this week to do anything. In fact, it felt unreal since they had not come to his house since the day Joanne moved out. It was always them asking him to meet them somewhere.
“Hey, guys,” He greeted them with a friendly smile. Then he felt something wasn’t right. “Why did you need to press the bell?” He remembered they were able to get in fine in the past. They had a key – each.
“We forgot our key,” Jiro answered, walking into the living room.
“Both of ‘em?” He pressed.
“Uh…I guess.”
It was another strange behavior but he did not want to question it further. He closed the door. “I’ll be out in a bit. I need to finish something.”
“I thought you said you’re free this week,” Chun spoke up – finally.
“I was on a roll so I thought I go with it before I lost the idea.”
Chun nodded, understanding it too well.
Calvin did not linger anymore. He returned to his room. He only needed to finish drawing the current room and then he was done. He got up after five more minutes, rolling his plan carefully and placed a rubber band around it. He made sure to put it in a safe place before reaching for his jacket.
“Shoot,” He said out loud.
“What happened?” Jiro asked, opening the door to his room. Jiro was on his way to the living room from the bathroom.
Calvin turned around to face Jiro. “No, I just closed the window on my jacket sleeve earlier by accident.”
Jiro sighed out in relief. “Oh. I’ll wait in the living room.”
Calvin nodded. He turned back to take care of his jacket. How did he get so careless? He must have been in a hurry. He ended up getting on the bed, trying to open the window a tiny crack so he could free the sleeve. It did not work like he had hoped. He risked a bit more space, knowing he could snap the window shut before the wind blow in. As he yanked the jacket out of the space, he realized he made a big mistake. The wind chime hanging on the ledge of the window got loose and made its way through the space. How did that happen? He did not stop to wonder, but reached out to catch it – and failed.
“Damn,” He swore – something he rarely did.
“What happen now?” Chun’s voice asked this time.
Calvin did not have time to respond. He hurried off his bed and rushed out of his room. He was practically flying down the hallway as Jiro was coming his way.
“What’s going on?” Jiro yelled out, running after him.
Chun was not far behind, but by the time he reached the living room, he spotted Jiro running past the den’s door. He raced after them, letting the door slam disturbingly back and forth.
“What in the world are you doing out here?” Jiro yelled out – though he did not want to jump out and block Calvin’s way. He knew that look on Calvin’s face. It was too serious and too perilous to stop Calvin. He did not want to risk it.
They finally reached the spot where Calvin’s window was supposed to be and saw Calvin kneeling on the ground, picking pieces of broken materials up. They had no idea what it was. It was too broken up to figure out.
“What are you doing?” Jiro demanded again.
“It’s too windy out here!” Chun yelled out.
“Then help me pick it up before all of them blow away!” Calvin shouted out at last.
Chun and Jiro exchanged a look before dropping down on all four to help Calvin as well.
“Whoa,” Jiro muttered as soon as he saw Calvin’s hands. “You better head inside. Like now.”
“Hurry!” Calvin urged again.
Jiro did not say anymore. He tried to look around for some scattered pieces while Chun helped Calvin pick the ones that were on the ground. Fifteen minutes later, they returned to the living room. Jiro was the only one still having a hand to close and lock the door to the den.
“I’ll get the first aid kit,” Chun declared as soon as he placed all the broken pieces on the coffee table.
“I saw your window still opened earlier,” Jiro said, gesturing his hand toward the hallway. “I’ll go close it for you.”
Calvin did not respond to either of the guy’s words. He had dropped down on the carpet and had been tending to the broken pieces the other two added to his pile of broken pieces since they entered.
“Glue, I need glue,” Calvin muttered incoherently when Chun returned with the first aid kit.
“You need to take care of your hands first,” Chun said, opening the box. “Here, man.”
“No,” Calvin mumbled. “I need glue. I need to reconstruct it now or I’ll forget what it looks like later.”
“It’s already broken,” Jiro said, having returned from Calvin’s room. “You can rebuild it from your drawings. Calm down. The way your window was opened, lucky your plan didn’t blow out with it too. I saw it on the floor when I came in. Lucky I shut the window and placed your drawing on your desk already. I don’t think anything’s missing. At least doesn’t look like it.” He had sat down at a space next to Chun on the sofa.
Calvin did not care to listen to Jiro’s words since he had been moving around the living room while Jiro was filling him in regarding the matter of his room. Chun and Jiro knew Calvin’s stubbornness too well. They exchanged a look before attempting to stop Calvin again. They both got up from the sofa and walked over to where Calvin was standing next to the bookcase.
“Stop it,” Chun ordered. “You want to bleed to death or something? If you don’t take care of your hands first, you’ll end up bleeding until you’re out of it and you would end up delaying your progress even more. Come on.”
“That’s right,” Jiro chimed in. “Listen to him for once, will you?”
“It’s not in any drawing!” Calvin bellowed, his frustration rising, shrugging Chun’s hand off. “It’s only in my head!”
“You’re going to faint soon anyway!” Jiro shouted out, not caring to be patient like Chun. “Then that would definitely help with remembering, huh?”
“Where did I put my glue?” Calvin mumbled to himself, ignoring both Chun and Jiro completely. He ran his hands through some piles of tools on the bookshelf. “It might be here.”
“Didn’t you hear what we just said?” Jiro asked. “Snap out of it. So what if you forget? It’s just work. You want to die for work?”
“Da Dong…” Chun called out, his voice somewhat far away.
“I’m trying to wake him up here,” Jiro snapped. “A little help might be better than…”
“Da Dong!” Chun repeated, a little louder this time.
“What?!” Jiro finally turned around. Then he understood what was going on. He advanced forward and grabbed Chun’s cell phone. He returned to Calvin’s side by the bookshelf, shoving the cell phone in front of Calvin’s vision line. “Look!”
That got to Calvin. “It’s this one. It’s this one.”
“Yeah, you don’t have to remember it anymore. Take care of your hand first or you’re not going to be able to put it together again any time soon.”
Calvin finally stopped his searching rampage altogether. Jiro guided him back to the sofa. Chun immediately tended to Calvin’s hands. They soon realized that the cuts on Calvin’s hands weren’t severe but it was because he had wasted too much time that the bleeding was more severe. In fact, his face looked quite pale.
“Did you eat anything today?” Jiro asked, observing Calvin’s face.
Calvin shook his head. “I was working on my drawing and then I thought I waited for you guys since we’re going to eat anyway.”
Jiro shook his head, not believing it. “How could you let this happen? I’ll cook something up real quick. We’re not going anywhere today.” He had already gotten up as soon as he heard Calvin’s answer. He was making his way to the kitchen at that time. “I wonder how in the world you survived all this years without Qiao…”
“Da Dong!” Chun yelled out, blocking out part of Jiro’s words – though he knew Calvin must have heard already.
“I’m just saying,” Jiro said. He did not say any other words after that.
Chun finally finished wrapping both Calvin’s hands up. “You better rest for the entire week. I don’t know if it would recover by that time.” Chun was putting the medical kits away while lecturing Calvin. “I’ll transfer the picture to a card and then print it out for you, okay? It’s too small on the cell phone.”
Calvin nodded.
Chun got up, deposing the blood stained cottons in the trash – among other things. “I’ll call the girls up and tell them to meet us here. We could watch a movie or something. It’s too windy out today anyway.”
“What in the world were we thinking to go forth with our plan?” Jiro pondered from the kitchen.
Chun reached for his cell phone after drying his hands on a towel.
“Get that, will you?” Jiro said from the kitchen.
“What?” Chun asked, turning to Jiro.
“The doorbell.”
Chun was busy listening to Hebe’s ringback. He made his way to the door, remembering to look through the hole first. And he was glad he did seconds later.
“It’s Qiao Qiao and the girls,” He blurted out.
“So let them in,” Jiro said passively. “Do I have to tell you what to do at each step?”
“Put this away first!” Calvin yelled out, gesturing rapidly at the piles of broken pieces on the coffee table.
Chun grabbed a towel by the wall, brushing the blood stained pieces into the towel first. He tried very hard to be careful, not wanting to break it into smaller pieces. As he got up to dispose the evidence in Calvin’s room, the front door opened. He hurriedly shoved the wrapped up towel into his raincoat pocket – glad he had wore it today. There was no way he was going to shove that into his pants pocket without breaking it even more. It was not a guarantee in his raincoat pocket, but it would be less obvious.
“Hey!” Joanne shouted out as soon as she walked past the door. “That’s messed up! You guys are all here but you made us stand out in the wind. Lucky I found my key in time.”
“Uh, hi,” Chun managed, his hand still in his raincoat pocket. He took his hand out slowly, trying to act casual. “Sorry about that. I was trying to call Hebe and I didn’t hear the doorbell. Jiro had to tell me to get the door but…”
“Aiya, forget it already,” Joanne said, shrugging it off completely. She replaced the grim expression on her face with a smile.
“What’s going on here?” Hebe asked, having shut and locked the door already.
“Wow, this house is big,” A girl blurted out – as if she was in her own world and did not care to acknowledge anyone present but only the habitat.
“Hello, Lara,” Jiro muttered passively from the kitchen.
“Stop being mean,” Selina warned him. She had made her way to him as soon as she entered.
“You don’t know how absent-minded she is,” Jiro whispered to Selina.
“What happened to your hand?” Hebe asked suddenly.
“Nothing!” Chun replied quickly – too quick. “I’m just looking for something in my pocket.”
Hebe turned to Chun, giving him a strange look. “I’m not asking about you.”
“What happened?” Joanne asked, dashing toward Calvin’s side.
“It’s nothing,” Calvin answered, giving her a weak smile. A reassurance smile. “I was careless while working on my project, that’s all.”
“Did you cut a finger off by accident or something?” Lara – the clueless girl from earlier – jumped in.
“Lara!” Joanne shouted out, turning to her roommate.
“I was just concerned.”
“Thanks, Lara,” Jiro said with the same usual passiveness as earlier – the sarcasm still present.
“It’s no big deal,” Calvin said, seeing the grief stricken look on Joanne’s face. “It was just Chun’s creative wrapping technique that made it look exaggerated.”
“Thanks,” Chun said, feeling wounded yet he knew he could not expose Calvin.
Joanne nodded. “Want me to wrap it again for you so you could move your hands better?”
“Don’t!”
Everyone turned to Chun, waiting for him to elaborate. Only Jiro remained uninterested – or so it seemed since he still had his back to them.
“Uh…I meant…it’s not that bad,” Chun stuttered. “I mean…I did it on purpose.”
“What?” Hebe asked, confused.
Chun gestured his hand wildly. “You know how he’s such a workaholic. I have to teach him a lesson by wrapping it like that. He couldn’t even move his hands for at least a week. By that time, his break would end.”
Hebe finally nodded, turning to Calvin again. “Serves you right for keep working like that.”
Chun sighed out in relief, knowing he almost blew it. Then he noticed something. “You got rid of your braids!”
“What?” Jiro exclaimed, finally turning around to take a look. Then he saw it too.
“I look weird, huh?” Joanne asked, reaching toward her hair, tugging at the edges.
“No, you look fabulous,” Jiro said, coming closer to them, his smile widening.
“My doing, guys,” Lara spoke up again, a proud smile on her face. “I told her to put it down. With hair like that, she shouldn’t be wasting it wearing braids.”
Jiro took a step toward Lara and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Lara, you’re a genius!” Then he dropped his hands, making his way over to Joanne. He kneeled down to take a better look at her – since she had taken a seat next to Calvin on the sofa earlier. “I like this.” And just like that, he got up and resumed his task in the kitchen. But he did not stop grinning while finishing up at the stove.
“I have to agree with him for once,” Hebe said when Jiro finally left their sight. “You look beautiful with your hair down like that.”
“Does that mean I look weird before?” Joanne asked.
Hebe smiled. “No. You look more matured with your hair down.”
“But don’t worry,” Chun found his voice again. He had finally realized why she looked familiar yet different today. He had been so occupied with helping Calvin hide the evidence that he did not realize Joanne had put her hair down. So when he finally realized it and blurted it out, he had taken some extra time to take in her new image. “You still look cute with the bangs.”
“So…” Hebe said. “Why are we all here today? I meant I thought we were going out.”
“Too obvious, Miss Tian,” Jiro said from the kitchen. “Our pal is hurt. He didn’t bother eating the whole day so we’re here to get him some food and we thought it’s too windy anyway. Was going to call you girls and tell you to come here. We could watch something together here or play games, whatever.”
Hebe nodded in agreement. “Not bad.”
With that said, they did not need to say anything else regarding the plan. Hebe ended up helping Jiro and Selina in the kitchen as Chun picked out a movie for them after their meal.
“Drinks are in the fridge,” Chun said to Lara. He did not need to tell Joanne that – she knew.
“Want me to get you anything?” Joanne asked Calvin.
Calvin shook his head. He had been staring at her since she entered the house, only speaking up when he had to. There was this difference about her that he was not able to pinpoint. He knew it wasn’t just the new image Lara had credited herself to.
“Time to eat!” Jiro called out from the kitchen.
“Come on,” Joanne said, helping Calvin up and guiding him toward the kitchen.
Somehow, the setting ended up with Calvin at the head of the table like in the past. Lara sat on his left while Joanne sat on his right. Jiro was across the table, sitting between Lara and Selina while Chun sat next to Joanne. Perhaps it was habit. Hebe, of course, was sitting next to Chun.
“Now I know why she’s with you,” Hebe commented as soon as she tasted the food.
Jiro sent her a half grin. “Thanks a lot.”
“Stop joking,” Selina interfered. “Let’s eat in peace for once.”
“Easy for you to say.”
Selina wrinkled her face, surprised that Jiro was giving her a hard time. “What?”
Jiro pointed to Calvin. “I meant him.”
“Oh.”
Yes, it was impossible for Calvin to eat by himself. Joanne had placed some food in his rice bowl. She was about to reach for his rice bowl when Lara snatched it up.
“I’ll help him,” Lara said. “I can eat later since I’m not that hungry.”
“It’s okay,” Calvin said. “You don’t need to. Uh…I’ll just have some soup.”
“I’ll get it,” Lara insisted, putting the rice bowl back down and reaching for the bowl that contained the soup. She was getting ready to feed Calvin when her hand slipped.
Joanne reached out to shield her hand in front of Calvin, receiving the hot liquid in full. Calvin reacted even faster than his hands allowed him to – whatever was left of them that allowed his movements. He got up and steered Joanne to the sink, pushing the cold water knob with one hand before pulling her left hand toward the water. He only let go when he knew it was safe again. She used her right hand to turn off the water afterward. They returned to the dinner table together. All of that happened in only two minutes. One minute and some seconds used for Joanne’s hand soaking.
“Wow!” Lara blurted out. “That was fast!”
“I told you guys Lara’s clumsy,” Jiro shouted out, jumping at the opportunity.
“Lara, put the bowl down already,” Joanne chided her roommate.
“Oh,” Lara said, finally putting the almost empty soup bowl down.
“I’ll feed him,” Joanne declared at last.
“Good idea,” Jiro mumbled.
“Ahem,” Hebe said, clearing her throat loudly. “Interference.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Jiro said, sending her a smile. He continued eating once again.
“I’m his little sister after all,” Joanne continued. “It would make sense to take care of him in a time of need.”
Jiro was not the only one who stopped eating at that time. Even Chun, Hebe, and Selina stopped their moving of utensils to exchange a look among themselves. And Calvin? He felt a cold current passing through his heart. Though he had no objections as the others resumed eating again. Yet he felt like he was eating rocks laced with acid during the whole time. Then he was not able to resist the urge to ponder if Joanne was suffering through the same tormented feeling as him when he was feeding her that one night when she was sick.
© Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Posted: Saturday, November 13th, 2010

*****

A/N: Sorry you guys! I’m not going to update next week. I’ve been busy with classes so I’m still stuck on trying to finish Chapter 9. I thought this chapter was long enough to be a two-week update. So I’ll leave 8 as part of the cushion and see how it goes.

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