Discussion in 'Fan Fiction FEVER' started by 040156, Jul 11, 2015.
Ok , I fix it. Tell me if it work b/c I don't type as much as u lol
Chapter 16 – Clouds on the Horizon
“They say you can’t choose not to love. It just happens you know?” He said the words in the soft tone of his while she stared at the starlight. She averted her gaze and looked at him and saw the familiar twinkle in his eyes, not unlike the stars she just saw while his smile brightened up the darkness, its light reaching her heart.
“Even if you fall in love, I’ll support you. I’ll always be here for you so you don’t have to be afraid, ok?”
Afraid? How can she be afraid when she was with him? Nothing ever fazes him… and nothing can ever harm her when she was with him. He was always there for her… She had nothing to be afraid of when she was with him… nothing….
Yaya opened her eyes as she felt the light of a new day entering her room. She blinked once, twice, and placed her hand in her chest where she felt her heart beating fast. She thought of the memory that night, months ago as though it only happened yesterday… and then she remembered the events of last night and wondered if it had truly happened years ago?
She moved her head to stare at the old faded picture by her bedside table and couldn’t help but grin. Gingerly, she lifted the frame and stared at it, noting his smile, noting his kind eyes and when she couldn’t take it anymore, she pressed the picture against her chest as she grinned once more.
How long had she loved him, she wondered; how much longer would it have taken her to realize, if not for last night?
James, her dear James. It was not the first morning she woke up thinking of him or looking forward to seeing him. She wondered what made this morning any different from all those other mornings. Is this love? Is this really what it is? She asked herself as she unconsciously grabbed the old toy bunny by her pillow. Dad, I’m in love with James, is that ok?
She replaced the picture back at her bedside table and saw a soft light blinking light in her phone.
“Good morning sleepyhead. Did you have a good rest?”
She grinned as she saw his message, rolling back on her bed as she did so. Yes, I did, I dreamt of you. She wanted to tell him, only to realize that she can’t.
“Call me ok? Your best friend is always worried about you.”
She then sat up straight in her bed, the smile completely wiped off her face as she realized her predicament.
How was she to act now?
James was still her best friend, and as far as he was concerned, she was nothing more but his… best friend.
He was her prince as he swept her off her feet last night. He was her protector as he stayed with her and did not leave her side until Fair finally came to pick them up and bring them home. He was her savior when her mom asked what happened and Fair couldn’t give a straight answer.
She wondered if James knew, or if he will ever know how important he truly was to her.
At that point she wondered… what she truly was to him and if she could be more than just his best friend.
“What am I to do dad?” She whispered to herself, almost like a prayer as she unconsciously reached out for Miss Bluebell. “What must I do?”
The doll merely looked back at her with innocent eyes, seeming to be lost as she was at that moment.
Fair jogged down the empty street as he tried to get his heart back to the right rhythm. Sleeping had been impossible for him that night, after all that happened, and he felt more than relieved when he saw the hints of sunrise peeking from his bedroom window. He thought he merely needed to have a change in view to clear his thoughts but the memories just continued to plague his mind and his heart. Before he knew it, he found himself off the track he usually took when he jogged in the morning. Instead, his feet brought him to a path he hadn’t passed since…. Five years ago.
He felt tightness in his chest, which he was sure was not brought about by physical exertion, but he felt the need to slow down nonetheless. He walked slowly, almost reverently, though he tried his best to look as indifferent as possible. He looked back once, suddenly shy as he walked the familiar path … just a few stores more, he would… and he was there again, in that quaint little French restaurant where he worked part time while in college…
“Bonsoir Monsieur, Madame… Mademo…” Fair felt his mind go blank when he looked up and saw Noey looking just as surprised as he was. He blinked once, twice, coughed slightly and tried his best to regain his bearing. “Good evening all, may you have a pleasant dinner tonight and please do not hesitate to call for me if you need anything.” He bowed down slightly, smiled and stepped back to do something, anything by the counter.
He felt embarrassed, definitely, for having Noey see him in such a place under the circumstances. Yet as he tried to think things through in an effort to calm his speeding heart, he figured, it probably isn’t as bad as he thought it to be. He had not meant to lie to her or hide from her that he worked as a waiter in a French restaurant. Not that he would readily disclose the information to her had she not asked, but still…. She knew he wasn’t one of those guys from her elite circle, and she was perfectly aware of his roots… She said she had fun, didn’t she, when he showed her around his humble town. And even when they came back from the school break, she did not shun him as he had expected, and instead they remained friends… close friends. But now….
He gripped the tray tighter than he was supposed to as he laid down the bread for the guests. Seated in the table were Noey’s mother and father, two other wealthy looking gentlemen, an old lady and… there was a primped up guy, looking roughly around their age who somehow looked familiar to Fair…
He averted his gaze as he realized he had been looking longer than was proper. He had been looking anywhere but Noey’s face as he still did not know how she was taking it. Yet deep in his heart, he felt he shouldn’t worry. He knew Noey, and she knew him just as well, didn’t she? They understood each other, didn’t they? Tentatively he cast her a glance and forced a smile, hoping it would not come out as a grimace.
To his delight, she looked at him with the menu partly covering her face, yet her coy eyes were beaming with amusement. She wasn’t mocking him or ridiculing him, as she usually did; the look in her eyes had a warmth to it that reassured him. She lowered the menu slightly as she flipped the page and that was when he saw her smile. It was as though the two of them shared a joke that was unknown to the rest of the people in the table. With that, he was able to feel the muscles in his cheek work again. He grinned subtly as he focused his attention on pouring water on a glass goblet.
“You, I would like to place an order now,” The gentleman who he believed to be Noey’s father caught his attention and Fair automatically smiled and approached him.
He took the orders of the rest of the guests in the table without any further incident. It was going well, until it was at last her turn to give her order.
He looked up from his notepad, with a dumbfounded look in his eyes. She pursed her lips and subtly pointed to her collar as though to remind him of the nametag pinned on his vest. She really meant to tease him now, he thought. “What is your specialty here?”
“May I suggest our special set? Soupe à l’oignon with Blanquette de Veau,” he said in an even tone, hoping the guests would not notice his voice cracking ever so slightly. “Then for dessert we have mouelleux au chocolat, which I think you would like very much.”
He heard one of the gentlemen cough at his remark and saw the condescending look the other men gave him, “er… what I mean is, it is our most special dessert, Mademoiselle.”
Noey chuckled as she placed the menu on the table, “I’ll go with your suggestion. Merci beaucoup Fair.”
“My pleasure, Mademoiselle,” he replied, hoping his accent was at least half as good as hers.
He was just about to step out when he heard her speak fluent French in low tones with her parents. He looked back with his mouth agape, until he saw that the younger man in the group gave him yet another sharp look, effectively dismissing him. He went straight to the counter where his French boss was waiting and he noticed he too was amused by the spectacle. He seemed to be listening intently to their conversation, not really because he was keen on gossiping, but merely because it had been a while since he had heard his own language spoken in this foreign land. His boss chuckled and then placed a big, warm hand on Fair’s shoulder. “Better stick to table numbers three and nine for now Fair, I’ll send someone else for table two for now.”
“Oh, I am sorry Boss, I didn’t know I had caused trouble. I am very sorry.”
“Oh no, it’s not that lover boy,” the big French man suddenly pulled him to the side, placed an arm around his neck and pulled him even closer so he can whisper, “The girl seems to like you and her mère and père no like it!” his boss laughed softly as he gave him a wink. He gave Noey’s table a glance before he pulled Fair again and whispered, “Her fiancé doesn’t seem to like it either!”
“Oh Casanova! I never thought you had it in you Fair!” His French boss chuckled once more as he hit him in the back to send him off to the other side of the room.
Fair had been brooding about it as he looked at Noey and the primped up young man from afar. He looked like a decent guy, with a well-tailored suit and a gold watch he knew he can never afford. He was the kind of man that her parents would probably find most suitable and yet… she caught him looking at her from the other end of the room. She was looking at him and not at Mr. Rich guy. As the night went on, he had an inkling as to why her attention was elsewhere. Sir ‘Khun Chai’, as his buddy and fellow waiter disclosed to him later on, was bringing his A-game, talking and bragging about himself and his cruise in the Riviera or the expensive things that he bought - when his spoken French was not even passable at best.
“That guy, you know he would probably need to work here as a waiter to know at least the basics!” his friend had grumbled as they passed each other while refilling their pitchers of water. “That is no way to impress a girl man. That guy should just keep his mouth shut and let his money and title talk for him.”
Money and title. Two things that Fair surely did not have. He looked at Noey again and saw her passive expression, so unlike the looks he had seen from her when they were together. Right now she was just cold as ice – lacking emotion, lacking life. At that point he realized her life isn’t as perfect as he thought it to be. His uptown girl had some troubles too, it seems.
He remembered that day they spent together in his hometown when she was so unguarded and so carefree. He thought she had been most beautiful in his eyes that day. And yet after that, he proved him wrong by smiling more often; smiling ever so slightly, yes, but it was enough to make roses blossom deep inside his heart, making him see her in a new stunning rosy hue.
When at last all the guests have left and he was mopping the floors, his French boss called him over and told him to sit beside him and share a glass of red wine.
“You know lover boy, I think I have to teach you the most important lesson now.” The older man said before he laughed, making the other sous chefs who were left in the kitchen to laugh with him as well. “Je t’aime… Je t’aime” He enunciated the words dramatically to let him copy it. “it means, Rak tur, I love you!”
Fair almost choked on the red wine as he heard the words.
“Haha! You’re too polite for your own good, mon ami.” His boss then stood up with the bottle of red wine in his hand. He chugged some down and placed his arm around Fair’s neck one more, “You Thai boys gotta have more passion! You can do it! Come on! Je t’aime! Je t'aime à la folie Mademoiselle!” the man then spoke incessantly in drunken French, that Fair had no idea what he was talking about until he ended with “oui, oui, ouiiiiiiii!!!” and he figured it was probably something better for him not to know.
“That dandy has no chance! Believe me my boy! My money is on you!” his boss then grabbed his shoulders and fixed Fair’s collar and dusted his vest, “go on and make me proud. Go get that mademoiselle! She would thank me for it! Of course”
Fair shook his head at the memory as he continued on with his trek. He was young and naïve, head over heels over a beautiful girl he knew he could never have. Looking back, he realized he had been too presumptuous. As if the fact that he was a waiter and she was a lady getting betrothed to a royal hadn’t been an obvious warning to him, he had to dig a deeper grave for himself when he actually acted on his boss’s suggestion and tried to ask her out.
It had all been for her after all. That was the end goal wasn’t it? He was to learn manners and style in the French restaurant to impress her. He had planned to pursue her all along. The money he earned from his stint at the French restaurant was for him to buy his first two piece suit, a bouquet of flowers with enough Baht to spare to rent a car. He meant to invite her out to watch a play, which coincidentally was showing on his birthday. He took it as heaven’s gift to him – and he believed she would indulge him as well.
He picked up his pace and ran full speed as the memories came back. He ran faster… faster … faster as though he were in the football interschool championship game again, only to come to a halt as his lungs finally surrendered from his exertion. He bent down, by the curb in the sidewalk as he touched his chest, feeling the dull ache in his heart, the same ache from five years ago when he was given the boot, in the most gentlemanly manner of course, by Noey’s father.
“That insolent waiter? He had the nerve to show his face here!” he heard Noey’s mother gasp, this time in their native Thai so that he can perfectly understand. “Tell the butler to send him away. This is preposterous! If your father sees this…”
“I told you mama, he is my classmate from the university,”Noey replied as she pleaded her case to her mother. He felt terribly guilty for placing her in such a situation, when all along he only thought it was proper to fetch her from her house and say hello to her folks.
“All the more you should not associate with the likes of him. What would Khun Chai say?”
It was at that moment that her father descended from the staircase and heard their conversation.
“Talk to your daughter and get rid of that boy,”Noey’s mother grumbled before she walked away.
Noey’s father gave him one glance before he addressed his daughter fully. “Give up your charade Noey. I know you do not like to be affianced with Khun Chai, but you did not have to use your classmates too in your ploy. I understand. I understand it perfectly. You have made your point.”
Fair had been trying to focus on the bouquet of flowers to show he wasn’t eavesdropping when her father’s words rattled him. He looked at Noey and saw the horror in her eyes as she too looked his way.
“Pay him whatever sum you had promised for him to pretend to ask you out and send him on his way.”
With his hands balled in a fist, he stood up and faced Noey and her father squarely.
“Good afternoon, Sir. Pardon me for intruding but please do not think so lowly of your daughter.”
Noey’s eyes widened even more at that as she froze, not knowing what to do for once in her life.
“I am Fair Gundon, not a descendant of any king, but a mere school teacher’s son from the province. I have come to ask for permission to watch a play with your daughter; that is all.”
“A play is it? Next is a date, and if you are still out of your delirious mind, courtship. You would have fooled me, with that ready-made suit and fresh roses from the wet market.”
“You are very wise Sir, indeed, I admit to looking at your daughter, in that way.” With knees shaking, he stood his ground and did his best not to falter, “And I came here precisely not to fool you, but to show my good intentions.”
The old man focused on him, as though acknowledging his presence for the first time, and looked at him from head to toe. “You are a fine man, I’d give you that, but my daughter deserves only the best.” He circled him and whispered, “A man with a good name, good family trait and good fortune. Surely it is not hard to understand, is it?”
“Thank you sir,” Fair replied with a shaky voice, as he looked at where Noey was at, hoping to draw strength from her, only to realize she had likewise fled, just like her mother. “Thank you for letting me know what I am up against.”
“It is good that we understand each other, boy. Please send my regards to Giuseppe.”
Look where I am now. He wanted to tell Noey’s old man. Not that he had come any closer to their ideal – he soon learned that their family’s concept of the best had been too far out of reach. He was young and naïve, and had the arrogance of youth. He was going to be successful, he said, he was going to fight for her, he said, and yet she was the one who let him go, sent him away if you will.
It was a month before their graduation day. She sent him a secret message to meet her at the clock tower by sunset and of course he obeyed.
“Take me away” was all she said and without thinking twice, he did.
As they rode the bus silently, side by side, he wondered where they were going or why they were leaving. Was it an elopement? Were they just merely going for a tryst? He didn’t know. The only thing that was clear was that they were together and he was happy. His snow queen was his at last.
They watched the moon as they usually did, looked at the stars as they held each other’s hand.
He looked at her and felt an indescribable ache in his chest and he decided he wanted to kiss her then and there.
Yet she looked at him with melancholic eyes and said the words he can never forget.
“This is where we say goodbye.”
“What?” he said dumbly, not knowing if he merely heard her wrong.
“You and I can never be together Fair. Not like this, ever again.” She stood up and walked away, and in panic, he ran after her and held her arm.
“Noey, what are you talking about?”
“You’re poor Fair. Look at you. Pitiful.” She said scornfully, and he couldn’t bring himself to react. He couldn’t get mad or furious or sad….he just… felt numb at her words.
“You are a nobody. You don’t belong to my world.”
“Noey, you’re going crazy. It’s okay, I am here. I am here with you. I won’t leave you. We’ll get through this, all right?” Fair finally found his voice as he chuckled, “You’re getting the jitters aren’t you. Don’t worry about it. We’re about to graduate, I’ll have work soon. I can show my face to your father and prove that I am not a worthless man – that I deserve to be with you.”
“Why are you deluding yourself? You are not part of my world. We can never be together this way. Don’t you understand?” she broke off from his hold as she looked at him with cold indifference in her eyes. And yet he felt something jab at his heart when he saw a single tear fall down her cheek. “Why must you persevere? There are some things in life which you can never have, Fair. It’s useless to even try. No matter how good you are, no matter how perfect you are - some things are simply unattainable.”
“I will fight for you Noey, you know I would, if you would just let me.”
“No! Don’t. Don’t do it.” She turned away and showed him her back, “You don’t have to. I don’t need you to. I don’t want you to.”
“Good bye Fair Gundon.” She gave him one final glance until she ran away, and rode a black luxury car that was parked not so far away. She ran away from his life, without even looking back.
He felt the air getting knocked out of him as everything suddenly felt surreal. He did not know what was happening anymore… only that his heart ached… ached…. So painfully.
So painfully as it did, five years after the fact.
Just when he thought he had moved on and was ready to love again, he had remembered Noey’s warmth and not her coldness.
She was a vulnerable woman under all that sass, and she was more beautiful than any rose he had ever seen, a passionate deep red, yet fragile as gentle petal. Is it true? Was she really protecting him then?
Was it really he who faltered? Was he really the one at fault for failing to believe in her? What was he to do now, Fair asked himself as he looked at the path ahead. Where was he to go now?
Where were they to go now? Was also a question that was running through the MLD Club’s minds as they crouched down in their new hideout. The school populace’s reaction to their transformation had been unprecedented and they were all overwhelmed from it. Of course they basked at the attention at first, for they suddenly became upgraded to human status from a non-entity. But when the people started whispering, some even taking pictures of them with their camera phones, it just started to feel downright weird. Even Joker who was usually indifferent (except when cute dogs are involved) felt the need to run away.
And so there they were, crouched down by the dirt, behild the tall walls of the library, not knowing what to do.
“He’s here! He’s here!” Tor shouted only for the others to go “shhhh” for him not to reveal their whereabouts. James followed Tor reluctantly as he too crouched down beside all of them.
“How are things at your end Khun P?” Gap asked as placed a newspaper for James to sit in. James bowed his head slightly to show his thanks before he sat down carefully and faced them. “It’s fine, though things are weird today huh?”
“Weird, that is understatement.” Good grumbled as he loosened the collar of his shirt, “Actually, weird is what we all used to be. Now I wonder if they think we are freaks or if we are something else.”
“It’s actually not so bad P,” Tor said, “Though it’s harder to do reconnaissance work now.”
“Our visual representation might have caused a dissonance in their cerebral cortex. The sensory receptors are no longer working in conjunction with the neural connectors thereby necessitating the hippocampus to consolidate the new perception and …” Joker only stopped taking once Gap pulled his feet to fall within the newspaper so it would not get dirty. “The same thing would not happen to canines in my opinion. Canines are sensitive and intelligent animals that know humans by their sense of smell among other things.”
“Do you think we can ask Lady Noey to change us back?” Gap asked with pleading eyes.
James smiled tentatively as he adjusted his new glasses as well. “I don’t know. We do have to drop by their house tomorrow for tutoring the football varsity, remember? I don’t know if we’ll catch her there.”
“At least we are 70% through with the lesson plan. Hopefully those guys would get at least 76% in their exams.” Gap grumbled as he calculated the odds in his head. “As far as probabilities go, I think we might have to put in an extra 50% just to be sure they make it.”
“Well, anyway, our new looks, it’s not so bad right guys? We’ll get through it. We just need some time to adjust,” Tor said finally. Just when the other guys nodded, he suddenly had a mischievous glint in his eyes again as he placed a hand by James’s shoulder. “Which brings us to other more important matters. Hey P, you owe us a story. What’s the score now between you and Khun Yaya, huh?”
“S…Score? What are you talking about?” James asked nervously, not knowing how much of what transpired during the Founder’s Ball Tor was already aware of. “Yaya… she… well… She does seem to be acting a bit strange.”
“Huh? Why is that Khun P?” Gap asked worriedly.
“Well… She kind of seems like she’s avoiding me but then it’s not like she’s sending me away or anything.” James frowned as he thought of it, now that he was asked, “It’s just that she’s been really quiet when we’re together, which isn’t usually the case. I worry about her.”
“But P! You were so dashing last night. You’re my hero now, you know?” Tor said as he grabbed James’s shoulder and shook him slightly. “Your bodyguards said, you were actually out there crossing windows and running and carrying Khun Yaya on your back. You’re so macho P!”
“H…hey!” James felt the sweat trickle down his neck, “You actually have contact with my bodyguards now?” He didn’t know what bothered him more, the fact that he was still being followed closely now that he was an adult, or the fact that Tor was able to get close to his bodyguards in the first place.
“It’s still classified info P, but you know, pretty soon, I’ll be one of them. I got your back P. Don’t worry about a single thing.” Tor said solemnly as he faced him, as though to avoid any cameras from seeing his mouth as he spoke. James, suddenly paranoid, looked around then and wondered where his bodyguards were hiding. “Don’t bother looking for them P, it’s ok.”
“Oh….okay.” James said reluctantly as he faced the rest of the MLD Boys.
“So what’s going on between the two of you now, James?” Good finally asked, getting him back on track on their conversation.
“I… I really don’t know.”
“We should see if you’ve already done all the moves allowed in your present deck of cards in order to plan your next attack,” Joker said ambiguously.
“Oh right. We can start with that,” Good said, getting Joker’s meaning. “So far, what do we have….?”
“We’ve done our research, we kept tabs on Eng. Gundon,” Tor volunteered.
“There was the element of surprise, as you did the unexpected,” Joker added. When the others did not get his meaning, he mouthed “Makeover.”
“To cap it all off, you became her prince charming!” Good said with a wink. “What else is left?”
Gap then coughed slightly as though to get their attention and spoke, “P P, if I may,” he said, “statistically speaking, situations like this only call for one more plot twist. I’ve seen this in books and lakorns that my mother likes to watch.”
The other boys looked at him intently, urging him to go on.
At this Gap nodded conspiratorially and said, “a third wheel Khun P! It has a success rate of at least 40%.... of course there is also a 40% chance that you would develop feelings for the third wheel instead and 20% window of failure,” Gap was still laying the basis for his study when Tor whacked him on the head. “What? Khun P! Michelle’s really cute you know. I think she’d make a good third wheel!”
“NO.” all the other boys said, effectively dismissing Gap’s idea.
“Oh… if not that ….then there’s nothing left to do but….”
“What?” all the other boys asked again, putting Gap on the spot. “Time to face the enemy head on Khun P.”
“Face the enemy?” James asked, not sure if he had a chance to win to begin with.
“There is no other way to go James. Gap is right.” Good said.
“If I may quote Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” Joker said, for once making reference to literature rather than a biology book.
“Don’t you mean, Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” Good asked, suddenly confused at Joker’s reference.
“Well, it doesn’t matter P! You can do it. We got your back. Time to face Eng. Gundon and show him you’re the man!”
“Yeah Khun P! It’ll be the most epic thing ever!”
“I don’t know guys…” James said, only to be faced with the determined look of his friends. He closed his eyes and remembered Yaya’s eyes, Yaya’s smile and he realized he had no reason to back down now. He opened his eyes and saw the determination in his friends’ gazes, and he knew he had all the support that he needed.
“Ok. I’ll do it!”
“YEAH!!!” the boys all jumped up from their seats victoriously, only to realize they caught the attention of their other school mates once again. “But first we gotta run!”
Author's Notes: It's all fixed now @sarN! Thank you!
Our story is nearing the end. there are just around 2-3 chapters to go. Haha Not sure who has reached this point but I hope you guys are all still doing well and I hope you are enjoying the last few chapters!
Lately, P @leeanong helped me with Thai names so I've actually chosen names for the characters. Not sure if I'm going to reupload the whole thing with the new names or just republish the fanfic in some other website with the Thai names. Well, I'll post the rest of the fic with the old names for now and see how it will go. See you when I see you! Thank you for reading.
Hello everybody! I don't know who are still reading this at this point, but I uploaded the story at Fictionpress with the different names, as I mentioned earlier. I am not sure if I should likewise post it here, but it might be easier to read for those who do not like reading real names as the character names here.
I also made a poster for the story.... please excuse me for I am old skool and did this in MS Word hahaha
Photos from Google Images and NNS
for those who wish to read the fictionpress version of the story, please click --> https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3298084/1/A-Smile-In-Your-Heart
the character map may be found here:
Still waiting for an update actually. ))
Hello everybody! I have a 2 chapter update but I posted it at Fictionpress. Anyway, for your convenience i'm posting it here too. But then I have changed the names already, as I mentioned earlier so here is a character map just to guide you guys on who's who:
Without further ado I give you, Chapter 17:
Chapter 17 – New Old Feelings
The young master of the house walked down the hallway from his room as he normally did each morning. With his backpack in tow, he quietly made his way down the stairs to go onto the living room where he knew Uncle Pat was shuffling about, doing one thing or another to pass the time as he waited for him to be on his way.
He adjusted his glasses by the bridge of his nose as he found the living room empty. He shrugged, thinking Uncle Pat was probably in the kitchen instead so he made his way there to greet the old man before he left for school but….
He stopped walking midway when he noticed that the light on his parents’ study was turned on.
Years ago, back when he had been a child, he remembered the exhilaration he felt whenever he saw the sight. Mommy or Daddy, or if he were really lucky, both of them, are at home! They were very rarely at home as they were busy with work and their other social engagements. Whenever they were at home, they had to do some paperwork and make some phone calls in the study. He barely talked to his parents when they were at home… but at least when they were there, he was reminded that he was not an orphan, that he still had a family that he could call his own.
Tentatively, he pushed the door to the study open, half expecting to see no one there as it was too quiet. He peeked in and saw his mother nonetheless, looking as glamourous as ever, with her manicured nails holding an expensive mobile phone against her ear. In her other hand she held some papers although her eyes were focused on something in her desk instead.
He was about to exit just as quietly as he came, only for his eyes to meet his mom’s and both mother and son stared at each other with startled eyes. Kavin quickly moved his hands in front of his chest and bent his head down to excuse himself.
“I have to go, I’ll call you back later,” his mom quickly said as she brought down the phone. “Son? Kavin?”
“Mother… I… I’m sorry, I was just about to leave. Sorry for intruding,” Kavin mumbled, as he stepped out, remembering all those times in his childhood when he came in at the wrong moment and his mother was busy scolding, or even firing someone at the other end of the line.
“No son, come back!” his mom called out, this time, sounding so calm and even jovial. Moments later he found her hands wrapped around his as he still clutched the doorknob tightly with his other hand. “Kavin, I missed you son.”
What a surprise, Kavin thought dryly as he entered the room once more and placed his bag down on the floor. He bent down and awkwardly moved to give his mother a hug, only to realize she was in her power suit and he was afraid of crumpling anything. Instead he moved his hands for a wai and bent down low so she may be able to touch his head.
“You look different son, no, you look great,” she said cheerfully as she gently pushed her hands against his shoulders to get a better view. “Sasina gave me a call and I’m glad she was of help.”
“Oh! Lucky she was able to reach you,” Kavin replied in that quiet tone of his, trying to push back the bitterness in his heart. How many times had it been when he was a child looking for his mother and her secretary had to tell him that she was in a meeting and another and another and another.
“I have a meeting scheduled at 9 a.m., but come. Let’s have breakfast together,” his mom smiled brightly as she rubbed his arm.
“It’s already 8 a.m. Mother, you might be late. There is usually heavy traffic at this hour,” Kavin replied as he reached down for his backpack. How many times had it been when his mother told him to dine with her, only to leave him midway because he could not fit in into her tight schedule? “I hope you have a nice day.”
He bent down slightly before he turned around and pushed the door open once more. His mother reached out to grab his arm and instinctively, he turned, not expecting the same reaction from his mother. His backpack bumped into the side table by the door and knocked over a box as he did so. A bit startled, Kavin went back in once again and bent down to pick up the pieces of paper that scattered about on the floor.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry,” he mumbled as he picked up the pieces, “I’m wasting time again.”
To his surprise, he found that the pieces of paper that were scattered about were not mere scraps of paper…. They were photographs …. Of him?
Not just of him. There were photographs of him with Uncle Pat, Nika, the MLD Boys, the Football Varsity, the guests at the Founder’s Ball….?
With knotted eyebrows he looked at his mom and wondered what was going on.
“I…I am the one who is sorry son…”
“You were stalking me?” Kavin sputtered as he looked at more pictures scattered on the floor.
Completely unnerved, he stood up and shakily walked backwards until his legs bumped into his mother’s desk.
“I just wanted to know how you were doing and your bodyguards are there, tailing you 24-7, so I made them report -”
“-you made them document my life, Mother? You could have just easily asked,” Kavin gasped as he turned away from her and tried to get a grip. He shakily raked a hand across his head, trying to stop it from throbbing, “or you could have just been THERE.”
He opened his eyes and looked at his mother’s desk where more pictures of him lay arranged neatly in a pile. At the very top of it was a picture taken about a year ago, when he was smiling so brightly with Nika laughing just as gaily beside him as they shared a joke. With quivering hands, he went through the pile and saw more pictures of him, smiling, laughing and suddenly his life did not seem as bleak as he had thought.
“I wanted to be there son… but I wanted to give you a life that is yours… where you can laugh and be free.”
His eyes travelled to the framed pictures displayed in the room, where he saw the formal photographs taken of him over the years. Those rare occasions when he was with his parents had him in a tailored suit and a forced smile, if at all he had a smile.
“I knew I had not been a good mother to you. Your father and I, we have not been the parents that you deserved. But I want you to understand Kavin, I wanted nothing more than to make you happy.”
“Happy, Ha!” he laughed bitterly, “by leaving me alone, Mother?”
His mother walked closer to him and quickly wiped away her tears. She reached down her desk and got a picture of him while he was on his bike, racing Nika to school.
“You were not alone; you were never alone. You had the Manaphanlerts, you had Nika, you had Uncle Pat,” she smiled wistfully before she placed the picture back down and instead cupped his cheeks with her hands. “I have never learned how to be a mother to you, but I know how your grandma and grandpa had raised me, and I also how your grandma and grandpa raised your father. Your father and I agreed, we don’t want you to live that way. We want you to live in a way that you desired. We wanted you to love who you wanted to love.” His mother bit her lip to stop her tears before she continued, “Do you remember how much tears you shed as you were forced to take all those etiquette classes? And the way you clung tightly to my gown whenever we had to go to those formal affairs with your grandfather. Worse, you did not make any friends when you were in boarding school.”
Kavin closed his eyes tightly as he shrugged off his mother’s touch, “Mother, I was a child! All I needed was reassurance from you, or from Father, heck, I just wanted to be with you!”
“Could you have survived the socializing, the balls, the fake friendships, the backstabbing that came after, that day when you would have to marry a stranger to seal a business merger?”
Kavin’s eyes widened once more as though his mother’s words had slapped him. “When you were a child, your father and I knew, you were special. You were so bright and had so much love in your heart to give, and we knew that the world you were born into was crushing you, slowly, slowly but surely.” She went to her son and for once, gave him the embrace he had always longed for, “I am sorry son, we could not save you, we didn’t know how. Setting you free was the only way we thought we could protect you. We were wrong. I am sorry.”
“All this time… you were away… to protect me?” Kavin asked shakily as he felt his knees buckle.
“We didn’t want to force you into this kind of life, Kavin. We grew up to loathe our parents. We did not want that to happen to you too.” She lifted herself up and wiped her tears once more before she laughed wryly. “Though we failed miserably in that aspect, huh? I had miscalculated, and now you hate me.”
Slowly, hesitantly… but firmly, Kavin stepped forward and hugged his mother, for once not caring about crumpling her suit or messing her hair. “I don’t hate you mom… I don’t. I just… I just really miss you, that’s all.”
“Oh Kavin,” his mother cried and held him tight and for once he felt that she was no different from Nika’s mom. The woman he held in his arms was his mother after all, the same mother who loved her child just as warmly.
“I’m sorry mother, I misunderstood all this time.”
“Mother is sorry too, son. I’m sorry I had to push you away.” She sniffled before she added, “Just because mother isn’t there doesn’t mean I don’t care about you Kavin. I always know, and try to know what is going on with you. So if there is something, anything, you can tell mother, all right?”
“I’ll just have to wait for an appointment, that’s all,” he mumbled against his mother’s forehead, only to earn an indignant grunt from her. He looked down and smiled and she knew he was only teasing.
“I’m sorry son, but I will make it up to you. I’ll be here from now on.”
He breathed in deeply, suddenly feeling like a thorn was taken out of his chest. He hadn’t realized that he too had been crying until his mother gingerly lifted the glasses from his face and wiped off his tears.
“Well, I guess that was better than breakfast,” Kavin chuckled amid the tears. “You’ll be late for your 9 a.m. meeting mother,” he said.
“There’s heavy traffic in Bangkok anyway,” she grinned as she continued to stare and caress her young man’s cheek. “I’m still busy with my son, who is so handsome by the way.”
Kavin grinned, never expecting a day like this to come. His mother was busy fixing his hair that he moved to sit down her chair to let her continue with her ministrations. She smiled, having missed the chance to be with her son for so long, but relishing the moment that they had now.
Just when she was dusting off his shirt, smoothening out the creases that she saw, she noticed her son reach out for her desk to get a photograph.
It was one of the pictures she personally liked, in fact, she had set it aside to put on a frame. It was a picture of Kavin with his arms securely around Nika as they stood in the middle of the University’s football field. They were both looking at each other in surprise although her hands were likewise placed on his shoulder and arm as though they had moved instinctively. It was that moment she tripped and nearly fell and he was there to catch her just in time.
“I like her, son, you have chosen well.” His mom spoke, suddenly bringing him back to the present. “She seems very warm and she had saved you countless of times, no?”
“You know about Nika?” he asked in that same quiet tone of his, though this time there was a lilt of excitement. This was something he had never thought he would be able to do – discuss matters of the heart with his mother.
His mom placed an affectionate hand on his cheek before she nodded. “Yes. She’s been with you in all those times that I couldn’t, and made you happy whenever you were down.”
He nodded as he felt a blush creep onto his cheeks. “She accepted me for who I am,” he whispered as he stared at the photograph.
“Your dad and I knew, because of her, we had to let you remain free; we had to let you be you, Kavin.”
She placed a dainty hand by his chin and made him look up to meet her gaze. She smiled herself and once again brushed an affectionate hand through his hair “Look at you son, your eyes are smiling. I am sure your heart is too. She knows just what to do to make you smile.” She sighed as she kissed her son in the forehead. “I don’t want you to lose that smile son. So go on, fight for her. Reach for your happiness and do not let go!”
“Mother,” he closed his eyes and smiled a blissful smile as he grabbed his mother for another hug. “Thank you.”
Thank you, his mother smiled blissfully as well, as she finally saw her son’s happiness with her own eyes, instead of merely glimpsing it from a photograph.
Tian stared at the high ceiling of CCV Building with a deep brooding look in his eyes. Looking at it had become a habit of his, ever since he started working, officially, as an architect of the firm. That had been five years ago, while he was fresh out college, weeks before graduation day.
Sasina had painfully rejected him and yet the job which was supposed to get his mind off of her only made things even more painful for him. His first assignment as an architect of the firm, apart from the Autumn Palladium which he had already started in his internship, was the placement of the dammed mural by the CCV Building’s ceiling. It was to mark the firm’s anniversary, they said. The mural was supposed to bring the firm’s prestige a notch higher, they said.
Yet what they never told him was the heartbreak would be so unbearable, it nearly made him quit.
It was dubbed as one of Sasina’s greatest artworks and he was given the gargantuan task of giving it justice by providing it with the best lighting and best position in the building. It has since been the centerpiece of the building’s interior, admired by the architects and clients that first set foot inside the CCV Building. In some ways, it was the marriage of their skills which awed many, though no one really knew the failed relationship the two of them really had.
He loved the mural for it reminded him of her. In the same way, he loathed the mural for it reminded him of her.
For the longest time, Sasina’s mural had been his reason to go to work every morning, to go on with his life and be the best architect that he could be. He had lost her, and yet he still had her, or at the very least had a piece of her, through that mural. As the years passed, the mural had been a reminder that he had been a survivor, and he continued to survive each day – it was true after all. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
He stared at the mural once more, as he did many mornings before that and gripped his suitcase tightly with his crumpled fist. The colors were so vivid in the light of the morning sun that got filtered by the special coating of the glass panels that would prevent it from catching fire. He walked closer to the spot which he knew would provide the best view and indeed saw the bright colors of the marigolds sparkling with the sunlight. The bright summery scene looked so vivid and so fresh and he did not fail to notice the painstaking detail she made at each brushstroke for every petal of the flowers in the visual garden which she made.
He stared at the painting, with eyes unblinking, thinking it made a mockery of Sasina, for it was nothing compared to the coldness of his Snow Queen – and yet as he looked at it now, he had a feeling that it mocked him instead.
“I wanted you to have your future. I did not want to take that away from you. I had no right” Sasina told him that night, in the Founder’s Ball. “You were going to get robbed of the opportunity of your lifetime, I could not let that happen, not to you. I had to do something.”
For five whole years he had stared at Sasina’s mural every working day as he stepped into the CCV Building while feeling a certain ache, and now that he knew yet another story behind the damned painting it made the pain fresh in his chest once more.
“I’m not asking you to forgive me, Tian, only that I wanted you to know that I never stopped caring for you. I just knew I had to protect you… from men like my father, and… Mr. Chesney.”
“Arch. Maipoom!” a nervous voice shook him from his reverie. Ms. Mary, his secretary, was suddenly in front of him, with a worried look in her eyes. “Where have you been? Didn’t you get my message?” She gave him no chance to speak as she practically grabbed his arm and dragged him to where the doors were. “Hurry up and catch up with the big boss.”
What now? Tian thought as he tried to focus on the conversation with the kindly old secretary. “What do you mean, Ms. Mary?”
“Mr. Chesney asked me to call you up earlier. He said he is going to your University to settle some matters. Oh… I don’t know if it’s about Ms. Manaphanlert or some other thing, but he told me to tell you to meet him there.”
The University…. Great, just great, he shook his head at the irony of the situation. Tian took a deep breath as he tried to settle his heart while it rumbled once more, this time not with heartbreak, but instead, confusion or even …. trepidation. What was Mr. Chesney up to now? What had he been up to this whole time?
There were so many things that he did not know, and he was just made aware of that fact. There was more to Mr. Chesney than meets the eye and he started to wonder if he had been too naïve to be so trusting of the man all this time. He knew Mr. Chesney had not been a saint since the first time he had met the man, yet he never thought he can be so wicked either. Could it be? Did the old man really have a hand in his failed relationship with Sasina? Had he been just a pawn to him all this time?
The people around him had all but faded in his vision, and he couldn’t care less if they saw his scowl instead of his usually pleasant expression.
Once he had been bold enough to capture the heart of the Snow Queen. Today he was incensed enough to confront those who had blocked him in his quest.
The sound of his voice sent a flutter to her heart.
The familiar timbre of his voice had been a staple in her ears that it was almost like hearing her own breathing; and yet now, the familiar sound of his voice wasn’t quite what it usually was, for somehow it sounded more melodic, almost magical. He cast a spell just by uttering her name and she was enchanted by it.
Nika placed her things down in the table as she turned around to face him. The moment she saw his big bright smile, she felt him cast a spell anew as he made her melt inside. Obviously unaware of the odd workings of her heart, Kavin gave her no time to recover as he closed in on the distance between them and gave her a big bear hug. This sent Nika’s heart into an overdrive, as it beat so furiously in her chest that she thought she was about to faint.
“Nika! You won’t believe what just happened!” Kavin grinned, oblivious to her predicament. He bent down and pulled her closer, as he lay his head against her shoulder that their heads were suddenly side by side. “I’m just so happy today. I can’t help it.”
Kavin sure picked a good time to be affectionate, Nika thought, as she remembered how her usually awkward and shy best friend rarely initiated any physical contact, especially in public places. It was she who did the hugging! Not that she was complaining but… slowly, tentatively, she raised her arms and returned his hug, reaching behind his backpack so that she can trap him in her embrace. She closed her eyes and breathed in the familiar scent of him and wondered if she could continue hugging him until her heart beat at its normal pace again, if indeed it would ever go back to its normal pace again.
They hugged each other in comfortable silence for a few seconds, each taking their time to take deep relaxing breaths, until Kavin finally said, “My mom…. I finally got to talk to my mom… I’m so happy Nika!”
She opened her eyes as his words reached her. The joy in his soft voice was so precious, for despite his hushed words, she could almost hear his heart shouting from within. She has never heard his voice so light and so jovial before that she too felt the inexplicable lightness in her heart.
“Oh Kav!” She bent her head and rubbed her eyes against his shoulder, “I’m so happy for you Kav!”
Kavin pulled away slightly as he looked at her, noticing her nose turning pink and her eyes still with unshed tears. With a laugh he asked, “Why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying!” She muttered as she lightly hit his shoulder with a free hand. She then placed her other hand in her eyes to rub the tears away. It was then that they both noticed the other students looking at them, wondering what had happened. Kavin abruptly dropped his hands from Nika’s waist as he coughed self-consciously. Nika instinctively leaned closer to Kavin as she thought hard of what to do.
Without really thinking about it, he quickly grabbed her things with one hand while he grabbed her hand with his other hand and they made a run for it.
It was a familiar scene that played in Nika’s mind. It was like that time when her knight in shining armor saved her from harm’s way and made her realize just how much she truly loved him.
“Ah! Nika! I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking,” Kavin gasped as he placed her things by a fixture in the parking lot and slumped down right beside it, trying to catch his breath. “I’m sorry I embarrassed you again.”
Nika slowly stood beside Kavin and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Embarrass me? Never.”
Kavin moved slightly so he can face her squarely and smiled that lopsided smile of his that she found so endearing.
“So what is it? You were going to tell me something?” Nika asked as she felt the warmth creeping across her cheeks.
“My mom, we reconciled,” Kavin said in a soft voice, though the light in his eyes could not hide his excitement, “not that we fought in the first place. But you know. We just… well… I understand her now.”
Nika smiled, with tears forming up in her eyes again after seeing her beloved Kavin so happy. There is no other person who knew just as well as she did just how much tears he shed in the past because he thought his parents did not love him. She was well aware of the pain he had always carried inside his heart. She knew just how much he had longed for a mother’s love and seeing him so fulfilled now just made her so happy as well. She was glad that he chose to share it with her – in the same way she thought of nobody else she wanted to share her feelings with had she been in the same situation.
He told her the story of what happened that morning in a special intimate way that only the two of them understood. At that moment they were children once more, sharing another secret as they lay open their hearts to each other. As his words reached her ears, her own heart resonated with his. Is this what love is? His joy had always been her joy, just as his pain had been hers. She listened and understood his heart, more clearly than ever before, as though his heart had likewise become her own heart. Why have I not thought about this before?
“Nika… oy. Are you ok?” Kavin asked, suddenly worried, when he saw no other reaction apart from a wistful smile from her. “Why are you so quiet Nika?”
She shook her head and grinned. She reached out for his hand and clasped it, then said “I’m just really happy Kav. One day you and your mother are strangers, then suddenly, you are mother and son again.”
“Yeah, it’s strange isn’t it,” Kavin whispered as he looked ahead, with a thoughtful expression in his eyes. “It’s like something that has been in my heart all along, you know? It took a while to notice it, or feel it. But it was just always there, not once fading.”
She knew the feeling all too well. “All it took was to know that she had the same feeling in her heart. And then you knew, your hearts are one…. United by…. Love.”
Kavin looked at her with a solemn expression in his eyes, searching, seeking, and wondering if she meant something more with her words.
Nika was slightly taken aback as she felt the heaviness in her heart once more, where her newly discovered old feelings were about to explode. She continued to hold on to Kavin’s hand tightly as the lock that gripped her emotions restrained them from overflowing.
Should I tell him now? Does he feel the same way?
She wanted to tell him so badly, but the fear in her heart held her back. Suddenly they were strangers as doubts continued to plague her mind. Do they still share the same heart? Did he actually feel the same way as she did at that moment?
“Kav…I….” She opened her mouth to speak yet no words came out. Seeing the concerned expression in his eyes, she tried once again. “I …. Kav… You are my best friend, and you’ve been my closest friend since forever. I know your heart just as you know mine… right?”
Unable to speak himself, Kavin merely looked down and nodded thoughtfully. A dreaded feeling crept into Nika’s chest as she saw the uncertainty in Kavin’s eyes.
“But lately I am unsure… there is a feeling in my heart… I don’t know if … love….”
He faced her squarely again as he gave her his full attention. His grip on her hand was both encouraging and stifling.
“Remember Kav, you told me, you will support me right? If I fall in love, you will be there for me so I don’t have to be afraid…”
Kavin nodded silently, as an incomprehensible look passed his eyes. She did not know exactly what he was thinking, but if his grip on her hands had been any indication, she felt that he was just as nervous as she was.
“Well I…. I am afraid Kav,” she whispered, so unsure, so unlike the usually confident and assertive Nika that she had always been. “I am afraid that if I fall in love…. If I give in to this love…. I might… I might lose you.”
“So many things have happened Kav, and …. I …. I feel there is something … inside….It was something I knew all along, but… I can’t-”
She stopped midway when she felt Kavin pulling her closer. It was not like the bear hug he earlier gave her. Instead it was a crushing embrace.
“Don’t speak anymore Nika.” Kavin muttered as he held her tight. “You do not have to suffer about this.”
“You will not lose me… I will always be… your Kav. Your best friend.”
“Kav…” her Kav, Nika thought, he was and always will be her Kav…. But not just her best friend. To her, he was everything.
“Just go Nika. Go ahead. Fall in love. Be happy. You understand right?” Kavin asked with his voice breaking ever so slightly, “my happiness is your happiness. Your happiness is my happiness.”
“Kavin…. You are….”
Abruptly, Kavin let go as he briefly brushed his arm against his eyes, knocking off his glasses. With a chuckle he awkwardly picked up his glasses and then stood up. “Hey! It’s the bell. Come on Nika, we’re getting too sappy here. We have to go. We’ll be late for class. Come on.”
“Kavin!” Nika shouted after him as he quickly ran away, as though he wanted to hide his tears. “Kav… It is you Kav…” she whispered to herself the words she longed for him to hear. “I love my best friend.” She said the words dejectedly, wondering when she’d have the courage to let him know once and for all.
“I love you Kavin.”
Chapter 18 – The Moment of Truth
“Mr. Chesney,” Tian called out to his boss as he saw his back by the parking area of the University. The old man walked with purpose, as he usually did, as he was flanked by both his aide and his bodyguard.
Upon hearing Tian’s voice, the old man stopped and turned around to give him a glance…nay, a glare.
“If you had not messed up then I wouldn’t even be here, wasting my time, Maipoom.”
Tian was slightly taken aback by the old man’s harsh words and he was unable to come up with a reply. Instead, he stood rigidly before him, with his hands balled into fists.
“Come with me to talk to your Chancellor – surely you can do that one right? Quite frankly I am doubting your skills as of late after you have miserably failed me.” The old man shook his head once and then he scowled at Tian. “I placed so much faith in you, but it turns out you’re not cut out for the job. Did I not instruct you to suck up on Kavin Chavalitkul as if your life depended on it?” Mr. Chesney angrily grumbled as he grabbed a cigar from his pocket. “The boy was so distant in the Founder’s Ball, I couldn’t even butter him up enough to ask about his parents.” Mr. Chesney continued his litany as he lit the cigar and then puffed on it, looking as though his head swelled in anger as sucked the life out of the Cuban cigar. “How can I make it even clearer to you that you are good for nothing until you actually make some connections and learn to get what you want from other people?”
“I am sorry sir,” Tian said calmly, in a dead monotone after he finally got a hold of himself, “but if I remember correctly, I was hired by the firm for my skills as an architect and not for knowing how to kiss ass.”
Robert Chesney nearly spit out his cigar at hearing such bold words from his usually calm and level headed employee. “Why you! Maipoom! Since when have you-”
“-have I what, Sir?” he replied, putting emphasis on the last word, “Have I had sense knocked into my head?”
Tian took advantage of Mr. Chesney’s initial shock to finally get a grip on his rage. “Oh I don’t know Sir, perhaps one day I came to realize I am tired of working, planning, drawing everything and giving you all the credit. Or perhaps just one day, I realized my potential is wasted on a man who built an empire from the toil of others” Tian grinned yet still had the fire in his eyes when added “– imagine that, Mr. Chesney, you were able to build an architectural firm without even having a license as an architect. Perchance, are you here to talk to the University Chancellor and finally correct that flaw?”
“Maipoom!” Mr. Chesney threw the cigar by the ground and then moved forward to grab the collar of Tian’s shirt. “How dare you. I AM Robert Chesney. You are a nobody, a NOBODY before I took you in – oh wait a minute, shall I say after that woman came to my office and begged for me to hire you.”
Tian breathed in sharply as the words came out of Robert Chesney’s mouth himself. “Ha, imagine that… that is skill, right there. I got what I wanted from rich daddy, and I got you as some short change.” It was Mr. Chesney’s turn to get a hold of his rage as he let go of Tian by pushing him away, and then sneered at him. “The old man made an investment, paid a hefty sum to make your life miserable as a bonus, only for his wee little daughter to do what her daddy had wanted all along.” Seeing the rage contained in Tian’s eyes, Chesney walked closer to him just to mock him. “You know, that girl is so proud, but she is a smart one, a really smart one. That girl, she knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it.”
“….What do you mean….?” Tian asked, suddenly dreading what he would hear. He felt a heavy pain on his chest once he realized that his own boss would confirm Sasina’s words the night of the Founder’s Ball. He was so foolish, so damn foolish, this whole time.
“She said she knew what her father had wanted, and she knew that she would not be able to stop him from ruining your life – yet if she obeyed and did her father’s bidding, giving me some credit for convincing her of course, then she would give me her biggest masterpiece, in exchange for you getting a slot here at my prestigious firm. It’s a win-win situation, really!”
He felt the blood drain from his face when he realized what Sasina had done, and how stupid he was for not once thinking that she was capable of doing something like that … for him.
“That’s how it should be played Maipoom. You use others; you let them use you. You get benefits – it’s an equal exchange except for the stupid ones of course.”
“Exchange…. An exchange! Other people’s misery is just a game to you?” Tian grumbled as he felt waves of pain coursing through his chest as he remembered the emptiness he had felt the past five years.
“Misery… stop being so sentimental Maipoom. No one died! Your skills can only get you so far; what you need to get ahead in life is to use your brain… use it correctly!” Mr. Chesney mockingly pressed his forefinger against Tian’s temple. “You, you are an idiot Maipoom. How dare you go up against me and mock me… you are and still are a nobody. I made you. Ha! Your little girlfriend made you. And you are not even capable of getting what you want from a puny little boy like Kavin Chavalitkul!”
“I’ve had enough of this foolishness. I cannot build a career based on this… this twisted way of handling things,” Tian grumbled as he stared down at his boss with a fiery gaze. “I quit.”
“You’re fired,” Mr. Chesney bit out, “I don’t need you anymore Maipoom. I’ll get AIC Holdings, you’ll see. I still have an ace in my pocket… that intern… what’s her name?”
Tian felt a knot at his stomach when he realized what the vile man was up to. “No. You will not get your filthy hands on Ms. Manaphanlert. You wouldn’t dare!” He exclaimed as he sized up his former boss.
“What is it to you? You just severed your ties with the firm didn’t you? That girl is still in my control, and you are out of the picture. What is another “A” in her report card… or another jumpstart to her career? The Chancellor will surely like the prospect of having another student of his included in AIC’s roster. I thought I needed you to talk to the Chancellor, Maipoom. Ha! Thanks to you, I’ve come up with a better idea. Good riddance then. I’ll get my hands on new, fresh talent, and I can use her to get to Chavalitkul too!”
Tian remembered the cold lonely nights he spent working overtime on a project which he never got credit for but was nevertheless an added feather on the cap of the great CCV Architectural Firm. All those times he had to survive office politics, and all those years he spent loathing the woman he loved, just because of one man’s twistedness of character. Why had he lasted for so long? Why did he never think of leaving?
“You leave her out of this,” he warned the old man, though quite frankly he realized he had no other way to warn her and protect her….
“Leave her out? She was the one who practically gave me a window of opportunity. I’ll just make her do my bidding, you’ll see.”
Just then, they both heard a rustling sound nearby. Instinctively, he looked behind Mr. Chesney and saw a familiar figure.
“Nika…” Tian muttered under his breath as he quickly sidestepped Mr. Chesney and picked up his pace to catch up with her. “Ms. Manaphanlert!” he called out once again, only for him to see Nika throw one last pained look at him, with tears streaming down her face before she finally ran away.
“Nika!” he called out again, as he started to run after her, only for more students to block his path.
“What’s up Khun P?” Jack asked Kavin worriedly when he saw the troubled look in his eyes as he sat down in their new hangout at the back of the library.
King briefly looked up from what he was typing in his laptop upon hearing Jack’s words. He frowned when he noticed what Jack had seen and quickly reached out a hand to pat Kavin on the shoulder. “Hey Kavin, what’s the matter?”
Kavin shook his head as he look down on the ground, unable to speak. The tears had all but dried in his eyes but his heart still felt empty. Nika was in too deep. Nika was in love... with someone else.
He knew it was bound to happen, didn’t he? He swore to support her always, didn’t he? He was resigned to kill his own heart just to make hers live, and yet why did it continue to ache and feel pain as it did in that moment.
“Khun P….” Jack whispered as he heard Kavin’s heavy sigh.
“You guys… I’ve lost. I’ve lost her.”
At his sullen words, even Joker dropped what he was doing and focused his full attention on Kavin. The three nerds of the MLD Club watched helplessly as their comrade laid bare his broken heart.
“What do you mean Kavin? You’ll never know until –”
“- she said so herself. She was afraid to fall in love, out of consideration for me. She wants to fall in love. Perhaps, she already is.” Kavin muttered as he sank down on the ground and leaned his head on the wall. “I want her to be happy… I want to be happy for her but…”
King and Jack looked sympathetically at Kavin without really knowing any comforting words to say to him. So instead they just kept on looking at him, hoping that their presence can somehow give him comfort.
“The prognosis for heartbreak is quite hard to tell,” Joker’s calm voice suddenly broke the silence. “Yet it makes one wonder, is it the actual heartbrokenness that is the ailment, or is it falling in love itself?”
King and Jack looked at each other with a nervous look in their eyes when they heard Joker’s words.
“Love is just as incurable as the fatal diseases that have plagued man. Yet how to avoid it, how to survive it, there is no answer really. There is no cure.” Joker then walked to where Kavin was and stood directly in front of him. “To love is to suffer. To love is to die. Yet to love is to live. You never know how to live until you learn how to love.” He then crouched down and placed a hand on top of Kavin’s head, “A plant lives and yet it does not love. So does a microbe or a protozoa. You are a better creature than them as it is. You have lived more than any one of us. So live Kavin Chavalitkul. Go on living. You need to survive this!”
King and Jack gaped at Joker’s words, not quite expecting it from the usually stoic man. Speechless, they shifted their gaze at Kavin, to see how he was taking it.
Kavin looked up slowly and met Joker’s eyes. He looked at his comrades and saw them looking back at him. These guys were just mere strangers to him weeks ago, yet now, they were probably guys he would not forget for the rest of his life. They have encouraged him all along; and even when he had failed, they did not dare leave him. Who would have thought that the nerds of the MLD Club could be the best buddies a guy could ever ask for?
Their moment was cut short when Ace came to where they were, heaving.
“You guys, you guys! Something big happened!”
King stood up and was about to throttle Ace for ruining the moment, when the latter finally got a hold of his breath and added: “It’s Nika and Arch. Maipoom!”
“Huh!?” both Joker and Jack stood up abruptly and faced Ace.
“P! What are you doing, come on!” Ace grumbled impatiently as he pulled Kavin from where he was seated.
Ace dragged Kavin to the front of the library, right before the football field, while the MLD boys followed in tow. Soon Nika came to view and was being followed by Tian Maipoom himself.
“What happened Ace?” King asked as they looked ahead.
“I dunno P, but Mr. Chesney and Arch. Maipoom had an appointment with the chancellor, my guess is to talk about the Founder’s Ball incident.” Ace said, “but something happened back there in the parking lot and now here they are…”
“Nika! Nika wait!” Tian called as he picked up his pace and finally caught up with her.
Angrily, Nika threw daggers at Tian with her eyes and bit out, “You didn’t… you weren’t really honest with me were you? Everything… all of it was a lie?”
“No, of course not Nika, it was nothing like that,” Tian replied.
“I… just… I need to … go… go away!” Nika cried as she broke free of Tian’s hold and started running once more.
Just then a familiar figure blocked Tian’s path.
“Khun P!” Jack was just about to stop Kavin when he saw murder in his eyes, when Joker pulled him by the collar.
“Let him be,” King said softly, as all three of them looked ahead and backed up their comrade from a few meters away.
“What have you done?” Kavin asked in a dead monotone as he confronted his rival. Tian threw him a helpless look as he lifted his hands in agitation.
“I didn’t mean for her to get hurt. I have to make amends… I have to…”
“You said it, didn’t you? You said you wouldn’t hurt her. You would not allow her to get hurt.”
Once more, Tian was at a loss of words and yet the look in Kavin’s eyes was suddenly so clear. There was no doubt about it. He was now sure of what he had seen in the glances he used to throw at his best friend, of those longing gazes he threw at her from far away. It was plain obvious Kavin was…
“I love her, damn you, I love Nika so damn much!” Kavin shouted as he grabbed Tian by the collar of his shirt, “But she loves you and now you’ve broken her heart.” He lifted his fist and punched the older man squarely on the face.
It wasn’t so much the punch, but his anger that took the wind out of Tian. He stepped back with a hand on his cheek as he gaped at Kavin.
“She was…. She was so afraid to fall in love. Did you know that? She was so afraid to bare her heart. I wanted to take care of her for the rest of our lives but she chose you and not me. How dare you? How dare you hurt her feelings!” Kavin lunged forward and went in for another punch when Tian successfully managed to grab him by the shoulder to stop him.
“I didn’t mean for her to get hurt, believe me Kavin. It was nothing like that. I care for her, believe me, I do.” Tian replied, desperately hoping his words will reach him, despite his rage. “The least I wanted was to see her hurt.”
“Then…” Kavin breathed a labored breath as he looked straight at the man who took away the love he wanted the most, “Don’t hurt her ever again.”
The pain in his eyes betrayed the firm words he spoke with his mouth. As it was, it seemed like it was Kavin who was suffering more than Nika would ever know. At this, Tian felt a knotted feeling in his stomach as he realized the gravity of the situation. Kavin loved Nika with all his heart – It was a feeling he knew too well; and now he realized that the poor boy’s heart was suffering as it got crushed, crushed into a million pieces, over and over again. Wasn’t he suffering the same fate all these years?
All Tian could do was to bend his head as he gave him a silent nod. At this Kavin pushed him away roughly as he walked aimlessly at the University’s football field.
Tian breathed a sigh of relief when he reached the clock tower and saw Nika there. Gingerly, he removed his coat and stretched out, praying silently that he didn’t have to run again. He approached her carefully, hoping not to startle her. Sure enough, she heard his footsteps and turned slightly, yet she merely looked back at the field hinting that she was bent on ignoring him. He took it as a welcome development nonetheless as he managed to approach her and lean on the ledge beside her.
“Worst day ever huh? Had quite a tough time myself. Let me see. I got fired, got called a liar, then got punched in the face,” Tian chuckled as he rubbed the sore spot on his cheek.
At his words Nika looked at him with startled eyes and sure enough saw the bruise forming on Tian’s face.
“What happened?” She asked worriedly, her anger briefly forgotten.
“Well, first things first, now that I have your attention,” Tian said softly as he turned and faced her. He clasped his hands in a solemn wai and bent his head. “I’m very sorry for what happened. I didn’t think Mr. Chesney’s plans would come this far. I swear that I never used you, I did not have plans of using you. I had been sincere with you, as sincere as I possibly can.”
At this Nika whimpered slightly as the tears came out of her eyes once more. “No… no it’s not your fault,” she said as things were clearer in her head, “I was the one who nearly got Kavin into trouble. All this time, I always, always got him into trouble because of my foolishness.”
Tian looked up and saw her tears and helplessly moved forward to give a comforting hug. “Hey, it’s not like that. None of it is your fault. Besides, everything is fine. Kavin didn’t fall for Mr. Chesney’s trap, did he? Everything’s fine.”
Nika breathed in and calmed down a bit as Tian’s comforting hold made her feel at ease. Yet she shyly pushed Tian away after she got a hold of herself. She coughed self-consciously and asked, “You… you got fired?”
Tian chuckled once more as he stepped back slightly, “Yeah… It was well and good anyway. Now that I’m not officially your superior anymore, I can call you N’Nika right?”
“Wait… just… just what exactly happened?” she asked while wiping away the tears in her eyes. “And you got punched too? By who?”
He shook his head as he bent down by the railings and took a seat on the floor. He looked up at Nika in a silent invitation to sit down with him.
“You won’t be getting late for class, are you? I think I need to complete the story now.”
“Huh?” she asked confusedly as she bent down and sat beside him on the floor.
“The girl in college that I liked. She used to paint this clock tower.” Tian said with a smile while he stared ahead at nothing in particular. “She would be in my view whenever I played football and I felt like my game was not complete if she were not there.”
Tian then looked at her and she noticed a different kind of sparkle in his eyes as he spoke, “I fell in love with her back then. I always thought it had been one sided, until today. I never knew the truth until today…”
“That she loved me back.”
Tian raked a hand through his hair as he continued, “She loved me enough to push me away so I can achieve my dreams. She loved me enough to protect me from her unyielding world.” He looked at Nika briefly to see if he still had her attention before he added, “The girl I liked in college… her name is Sasina Vacharatrakul.”
“Pai’s older sister,” she gasped, as memories of the glamorous lady that was Sasina entered her mind. She had always known her to be the cold, posh older sister of Pai who often bossed him, and everyone around and had her way. Uptown girl, that was definitely her all right.
“She painted the montage at CCV Building, did you know?” Tian asked as he turned away with a wistful look in his eyes once more. “She gave it to Mr. Chesney in exchange for a slot for me at the firm. She said goodbye to me in order for me to start my career at that blasted firm.” He clenched his fists unconsciously as he continued, “Her father did not think I was worthy of her and so he did everything he can to push me away. I was so hopeful you know? I thought a slot at the most prestigious architectural firm in the country would make me more worthy of her. But I never knew it would precisely be the reason for us not to be together.”
“I … I don’t understand P’Tian.”
“Sasina’s father invested at CCV, and as an added consideration, he asked Mr. Chesney to have me blacklisted from the firm and its other subsidiaries.” Tian laughed once wryly and then added, “but you know what Sasina did? She told her father that Mr. Chesney convinced her to forget about me and said he would make sure I was kept busy in the firm that I wouldn’t even have the chance to bother her again. And it worked. I spent five lifeless years in that prestigious firm… working hard for its greater glory.”
CCV, her dream firm, and Mr. Chesney, her ultimate idol had now been marred beyond repair. It was an incredible story, one she would not have wanted to believe if she had not heard Mr. Chesney talk about it himself – about how he wanted to get Kavin, to use him so his parents would make an investment – how he would have used her, in the same way as he had used both Tian and Sasina to get what he wanted.
“I never knew…. I always thought that….”
“Yes, I understand how you must be feeling. I feel the same way.” Tian sighed. “Good riddance to that firm I guess.”
“Yes.” Nika replied softly, as she remembered the events of the Founder’s Ball, where Mr. Chesney had arranged crass entertainment for his foul guests. She had been fooled all this time. It was a crooked firm she never wanted to be part of again.
And yet in the same way…. If that night had not happened, she would not have come to realize that she loved Kavin.
If Sasina had not made that bargain, he never would have realized that she loved him back.
Both Tian and Nika looked at each other then, not knowing they were thinking more similarly than they could ever imagine.
“About my bruise….” Tian started as he thought of ways to answer her initial question and ask some questions himself. “You wouldn’t believe who punched me….” He gave her one glance until he finally added, “It was Kavin.”
Nika gaped, much in the same way as the MLD Boys had earlier.
“I deserved it, I’m sure I did.” He rubbed the sore spot once more and added, “Well, it was better with him punching me than with you kicking my butt, I suppose.”
“What? Where did you meet? Why did he punch you?” she asked, completely missing Tian’s joke.
“He saw you crying… and he figured it was my fault.” He took one look at the tears in Nika’s eyes and he knew… that look he saw when she saw him at the Architectural Week Prep day, that look in her eyes as they danced in the Golden Mansion, that look in her face as he saw them at the convenience store that night… “He is in love with you, you know?”
She stared back at him, with wide eyes, when the answer she had been looking for the past few days finally came out of Tian’s mouth.
“There was something about that guy, it’s like he hated my guts since the first time I saw him,” Tian muttered, “now I know why.” He looked at Nika and laughed upon seeing her dumbfounded expression. “Well, his anger was all for nothing. Look at you. It’s clear you love him too.”
She bit her lip as tears swelled in her eyes again and she finally mumbled, “Yes… yes I do.”
“Then what are you waiting for, Danika Manaphanlert!” he got up and pulled her arm suddenly. “Don’t follow the same mistake as we did, Sasina and I. Now that you have found love, you must go and embrace it. Go and fight for it. Never give up!”
“You are a wonderful lady N’Nika, and Kavin is sure lucky to have you.” He winked as he grinned, bearing his dimple, before he winced once more upon feeling the pain in his cheek. “I guess you and I… won’t need to call each other Arch. Maipoom and Ms. Manaphanlert to have a long lasting platonic relationship after all. I am rooting for you guys.”
“P’Tian I…” Nika gave Tian one quick hug before she broke away and added, “The same goes for you too P’Tian! GO Fight for your uptown girl! Now that everything is clear; you must cut your losses and make up for lost time! I heard she still does not have a boyfriend you know!”
“You brat,” he grinned as he placed an affectionate hand on her head.
“You can do it. We can both do it. Su su!”
The two of them shared a laugh as lightness filled their hearts.
We have one last chapter to go!! Honestly, I still have no idea on what to do with the last chapter *sweatdrop* but it's gonna be mushy, that I can assure you haha! I wrote this fanfic for James and Yaya back in the Nueng Nai Suang days, which was roughly 2 years ago, how time flies. Now they have both taken on mature roles and I don't think the cutesy best friend in college scenario would be suitable for them anymore. They were so adorbs back then and I am still hoping that these two would have a light fluffy lakorn together someday. Well anyway, at this point I would like to thank those who have been with me in this ride and who have read the fanfic up until this point. I would not have made it without your support. Thanks a lot you guys!
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!
Separate names with a comma.