Chapter 17

As if Wallace was psychic, Jiro called him two months later, asking for Cyndi’s number. Fate was not something he believed in. And somehow Wallace agreed. Putting one’s life in fate’s hand was too much of a risk. But that did not mean Wallace surrendered the number willingly. He had called to ask Nic first. Nic did not care – or tried to sound like he didn’t care. So Wallace gave Jiro Cyndi’s number. But he craftily excluded the fact that Cyndi was working for him. Like he needed a demonstration of some sort in front of his presence. Single people hated those scenes. What made them think he was any different?
Jiro soon found out about Cyndi’s employment location anyway. Wallace had to resort to his threat of firing Cyndi to get them out of his sight during working hours. Or at least within the facility. He did not care if they thought he was bizarre. Though they had thought he was kidding at first. Did he lose his touch with the cool boss act already?
Apparently, Cyndi had not reacted as strong about his break up with Angela. Possibly because Angela had talked to her. Or was it because Cyndi could finally understand that some things couldn’t be forced? Just like how she found out how much she clashed with Nic? Wallace did not know. But he was just glad Cyndi was off his back about his life. And acted more like his assistant during these times.
There was only one thing he was sure of. He did not miss Yvonne like Tammy had thought. Her trip had been extended due to complications in the assignment. He heard all of the details from Tammy when he came over to visit her.
What about Angela? She returned to her normal life. Or what was considered normal before she met Wallace. At least fashion-wise. She did not pretend to be happy or put up a strong exterior to reassure the others. She was passive at first. But she slowly recovered with the increase in her smiles.
Nic was depressingly more temperamental than his sister. He acted like he didn’t care but he cared more than that. He still kept in touch with Wallace and sometimes even visited after work to haul Wallace to some undisclosed location for a talk. Or more like he needed to drown his sorrow in something. Not alcohol. Wallace made sure of that. All he needed was to babysit Nic. The irony was always on Wallace’s mind. The girls once wanted them to get along but always failed. Yet now that the girls had already left them, they were getting along on their own.
Still another two months passed before Yvonne returned. And that was when Wallace made his move. He visited Tammy like usual one afternoon after work, letting himself in. She had caught a cold at the brink of autumn and was still in bed. He helped her around the house. He hated those tasks. He always found those things too driving at his patience. Yet he did not mind at that moment. He always liked how Tammy kept her place. So neat and welcoming.
“Here,” He said, helping Tammy sit up and handing her some meds.
“Thanks,” She said after downing the meds and giving the empty glass to him.
“Do you even need to say that?”
Tammy sent him a weak smile. “Guess not.”
He returned to the kitchen and finished cleaning up. The doorbell rang and he could already guess who it was.
“I got presents for you both,” Yvonne declared, waving a set of bags in front of him as Wallace opened the door.
“Come right in then,” Wallace said, gesturing his hand toward the hallway.
Yvonne stepped in, her eyes scanning the hallway. “Where’s Tammy?”
He shut the door and followed her down the hall. “Sick in bed.”
“How bad is it?”
“Just a regular cold. She’ll be up and around in several days.”
They reached the living room but did not enter. Instead, they turned left and walked down the hall to Tammy’s room.
“For a sick person, you sure are neat,” Yvonne joked as she stepped into Tammy’s room.
“What?” Tammy asked, opening her eyes.
“Your place is still spotless,” Yvonne clarified.
Tammy wrinkled her face. She had on the expression that said Yvonne was putting her on. “Impossible.”
“Want me to snap a picture for you?”
“I really didn’t clean it.”
Yvonne turned to Wallace then. He was smiling. And bowing at her. There was a glint of mischief in his eyes.
“No way!” Yvonne exclaimed, incredulous.
“Believe it,” Wallace said, still smiling.
“You hate cleaning,” Yvonne reminded him, still studying him so cautiously.
He didn’t even flinch. Or blink.
“What you got in there?” Tammy asked, pointing toward the bags in Yvonne’s hands.
Yvonne peeled her attention from Wallace and settled at a chair next to Tammy’s bed. She handed Tammy a blue bag while giving Wallace a white one.
“Nice,” Wallace said, pulling up a chair for himself. He smiled upon seeing the scarf inside. “It matches me.”
Yvonne turned to him, not realizing it. “Does it?”
Wallace wrapped the scarf around his neck and tied it so it fitted perfectly with the tan coat he was wearing. The scarf was light yellow. Or was it cream?
“I didn’t know you have that coat,” Yvonne said, still looking at Wallace.
Wallace shrugged. “Just bought it recently. Coincidence or what?”
“It might be fate,” Tammy joked – despite the fact that she was so sick.
“I don’t believe in fate,” Wallace reminded her, loosening the scarf a bit. “I only believe in others’ intelligence. It makes sense to buy stuffs and get ready for the cold season. Unlike someone who’s not prepared enough and got herself sick.”
Tammy wanted to hit Wallace but it was too much of an effort to reach. Yvonne did the honor.
“What?” Wallace turned to Yvonne.
“You’re being mean,” She returned.
“It’s the truth.” Then he turned to Tammy again. “Open yours.”
Yvonne turned to Tammy also. Tammy gasped.
“Let me see it,” Wallace said, reaching for the item. He brought his scarf to the light also, comparing the two items. He nodded after a thorough inspection. “Yup, it’s identical.” He returned the item to Tammy before turning to Yvonne.
“Someone’s lazy all right.”
“It was on sale,” Yvonne joked.
Wallace nodded in comprehension though his face said otherwise. “I could see how much I’m worth.”
Yvonne placed the other bag on the floor and tossed her hair behind her shoulders. “Hey, maybe it’s a sign.”
“What sign?” Wallace asked, turning to her.
“That you two should get together already.”
Wallace laughed while Tammy directed her eyes anywhere but on their faces.
“Good one,” Wallace said, pointing at Yvonne. “I don’t believe in signs.”
“At your rate, if we don’t give you any signs, you might end up at some retirement home with Old Nic,” Yvonne continued with her tease.
Yes, they’d adapted Wallace’s nickname for Nic. Though they’d never met Nic before despite having heard about Nic for a while now.
“Stop it,” Tammy begged, suddenly feeling weird of their teasing.
“If I don’t find anyone within the next two years, we’ll get back together,” Wallace declared, looking at Yvonne.
“And I have to agree with you because?”
Wallace shrugged. “So you don’t have to go through all the initial process of courtship again?”
Yvonne scoffed. “I’m not that hopeless.”
“Should I be witness to this?” Tammy chirped in, her smile equally scheming as Wallace’s.
Yvonne pointed at Tammy with a warning look. “Hey, don’t play match-maker.”
“And you didn’t do just that minutes ago?”
“Great, everyone’s fighting over me now,” Wallace mumbled, his expression all so innocent.
This time, both girls reached out to hit him. He was leaning a little too dangerously toward Tammy’s reach so he couldn’t blame her.
“Someone’s at the door,” Tammy said when they settled down from their laughter again.
“I’ll get it,” Wallace said, getting up. “This is your chance to talk about me.”
Yvonne gave him a look while Tammy shook her head.
“What brought you here, man?” Wallace asked, trying to hide his surprise from Nic. Then he remembered Angela knew where Tammy lived.
“You free?” Nic asked, gesturing into the house.
“Sort of. Why? What happened?”
Nic looked past the hallway – or attempted to.
“The girls are in Tammy’s room,” Wallace answered Nic’s investigative scan of the house.
Nic looked puzzled. “Girls?”
“Yvonne just came back…and brought us some presents.”
“Oh…”
“And why are you here again?”
The wind was picking up.
“You want to come in before we talk?” Wallace said, gesturing his hand toward the hallway.
“Can we talk out here?” Nic asked.
Wallace felt weird but he might as well. At this rate, all the cold air might get inside and would eventually affect Tammy. He stepped outside and shut the door behind him. “What?”
“You know that Cyndi’s dating Jiro now?” Nic began.
Wallace wanted to roll his eyes but didn’t. “Isn’t it obvious? I meant a guy asking for a girl’s number and then getting to know her. They just want to be friends, right? Wrong!” If he had opted for the eye rolling, it would’ve been less insulting for Nic.
“That’s just too fast. I mean they’re…”
“It’s almost half a year now, dude. Don’t have to react so strong. And you did give a go on the phone number. Like you could control their lives but asking you was just a courtesy or an attempt to be considerate since I’m your buddy. But come on now…”
“It’s just four months and…”
“It doesn’t matter.” If Wallace left it up to Nic, Nic might go on forever about how many days, hours, seconds, etc. “You said it yourself, people break up all the time. So obviously they would start a new relationship, right?” Then something registered. “Wait a minute, how did you know they’re dating? Are you stalking them?”
“I saw them at the movie theater and they were holding hands.”
“That doesn’t prove anything. She might just be scared that he’ll get lost in the crowd.”
Nic gave Wallace a murderous look. He wanted to punch Wallace out for attempting such a childish line. Who would believe that one?
Wallace shrugged, still faking innocence. “Like it’s my fault…”
The door opened behind them around that time. They turned to see Yvonne stepping out.
“Hey, just in time to meet Old Nic,” Wallace said, smiling.
“Hey,” Yvonne said, reaching out a hand to Nic. “We’ve been talking about you since forever.”
“Coming from him?” Nic asked, eyeing Wallace cautiously.
“One of them has a crush on you so I needed to provide more information,” Wallace joked – earning a shove from Yvonne.
Wallace laughed. “I didn’t say it was you.”
That shove also caused Yvonne the control of the bag in her hand. She rushed forward and caught it as it went flying to the ground – almost being blown away by the wind. Almost.
“What’s in that bag?” Wallace asked.
“Nothing,” Yvonne said, attempting to shove the contents back into the bag.
“Looks like a scarf,” Nic commented.
“Um…it’s props for my next assignment,” Yvonne said. She turned to Wallace with a playful smile. “I did say it was on sale.”
“Looks like a man’s scarf though,” Nic continued.
Yvonne shot him a sharp glare. But she resumed herself seconds later. “Hey, I want to look convincing.”
Too late. Wallace was already looking at his own scarf, playing with the material. It finally clicked in. If he was wearing his old black coat, he would’ve gotten the white scarf.
“I have to go now,” Yvonne spoke up again. “Take care of Tammy, okay? I’ll come to visit whenever I can.”
Wallace nodded.
She then turned to Nic. “Nice meeting you, Old Nic.” Her smile was genuine enough. It was like she’d already forgiven Nic for being such a loud mouth seconds before.
Nic nodded. “Same.”
Wallace waited for Yvonne to enter her car before turning to Nic again. “Nice.”
Nic could hear the mockery dripping. “What?”
“You just put everyone in a very awkward position.”
“What?”
“Forget it.” Wallace tugged on his scarf and looked out at the setting sun. “What are we going to do now? Continue the senseless debate or go inside?”
Nic eyed the door. “Guess you’ll hang around here for a while?”
Wallace nodded. “Need to make sure she’s not getting out of bed.”
“You’re treating her like a baby.”
“So?”
Wallace turned and opened the door, letting Nic go in first.
“Seriously though,” Wallace said as they entered the living room. “You should drop the stalking already.”
“I’m not like someone who…”
Wallace turned to look at Nic. “I don’t believe it. You’re supposed to be focusing on your latest software but you decided to go stalking instead?”
Nic settled down at the sofa, shrugging. Nic rarely shrugged. It was not in his nature to shrug. It seemed like the breakup had affected him more than they had thought.
Wallace heard a door being opened then. He knew it wasn’t the front door. He turned to see Tammy making her way down the hall. He made his way toward her and guided her to the living room.
“Hi,” Tammy greeted Nic weakly.
Nic nodded.
“Need anything?” Wallace asked, turning to Tammy.
“I just don’t want to miss my chance of meeting the famous Nic.”
“I guess I’m honored,” Nic joked – or attempted to joke.
Wallace shrugged. “I wasn’t wrong about your admirers, right?”
“You want to stay for dinner?” Tammy asked, turning to Nic and ignoring Wallace completely.
Nic looked at Wallace. As if he suddenly realized he was intruding.
“Don’t look at me,” Wallace said. “Your choice.”
“You get to enjoy Wallace’s culinary skills,” Tammy said, her eyes brightening with mischief – despite her pale face from her sickness.
Nic couldn’t help but smiled.
“I’ll poison both of you,” Wallace threatened, making his way into the kitchen.
“You two together?” Nic asked, his voice a tad too low. It was only meant for Tammy to hear.
Tammy shook her head. “He’s just hiding from civilization these past months.”
Nic turned to look at Wallace moving back and forth in the kitchen. He wondered if that was true.
© Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Posted: Sunday, April 10th, 2011

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