Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to Jessie.
A/N: Hello po, mga kapwa adik! Habang tinatapos ko pa ang isa ko pang series, hindi ko napigilan na sumulat ng one-shot imagining the conversation between Atty. Ryan Molina and Sir Chief, set right before Sir Chief surprises Maya at TA Training School (at kung saan sya ang nasurprise dahil lasing si Maya!). Tuwang-tuwa kasi ako na may confidante na si Sir Chief na lalaki — syempre iba ang POV ng kapwa boy. Sana nga he sticks around para our hero has someone to discuss his dilemma with!
O, eto na …
Ryan took a small sip of his brandy, relishing the burning feel of alcohol down his throat. He missed Ivy and his kids badly, and he was hoping that sitting and talking and hitting a few drinks for the road with his old college buddy and fraternity brother, Richard Lim, would help make him feel a bit better. But he should have known, from the onset, when Richard had not wanted to go to a bar — insisting that if they were to drink then they should simply drink at his home — that this was going to be a failed attempt at levity. While it was true that his well-to-do friend had a well-stocked bar that would have put many other establishments to shame, it was also obvious that tonight was not going to be a night for sharing misery.
At least, not his misery.
Ryan glanced at Richard. The drink was good, his frat brother was sitting with him, all true — but Richard was neither talking nor drinking. Well, if drinking coffee counted, then yes, at least he was drinking — nursing it as if his life depended on it. But as it was, Richard simply sat and stared at his coffee, sighing every so often, and did not even look his way.
After about twenty minutes of brooding silence, Ryan finally spoke. “Brad, hindi naman sa demanding ako, ano, pero di ba … pag umiinom, nagkukuwentuhan din?”
Richard gave a start, as if he had been pulled out of his reverie. He sighed. “Sorry, brad, may iniisip lang ako.”
Ryan frowned at him. “Mukha nga eh. Kanina ka pa bumubuntung-hininga dyan, ang lalim. Problema ba sa kumpanya ‘to?”
“No,” Richard said shortly.
“O … eh di … personal?” Ryan probed carefully. As he had very well known from their days in college, Richard was not the most forthcoming of people, although he was always very frank about his opinions and views. He was intensely private and would not easily share his feelings with others.
Ryan’s natural lawyer curiousity was piqued. “Hm. Pare … alam ko yang itsurang ganyan. Babae yan, ano?”
Richard looked away, but not before Ryan saw the expression on his face. A-ha, he thought triumphantly. Well done, Attorney Molina. ”Pare. Wag mong solohin yan. Alam mo naman na ang babae, mahirap talagang ispelengin. Tayong mga lalaki, kailangan nating magtulungan para ma-figure out sila.”
Richard merely shook his head, frowning at his coffee cup.
“Bakit ba? Ano ba’ng nangyari?”
The other man sighed. Frustration was evident on his face, and Ryan felt a twinge of pity for his friend. Just a few days ago this same man was happy, smiling, even in the midst of the company’s land problems, and now – ah, what love can do!
Ryan clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Sige na pare. Spill. You know you can trust me.”
For a moment Ryan thought his invitation was going to go unanswered, but after yet another deep sigh Richard finally spoke.
“Iniiwasan nya ako, pare.” Richard said, picking up his teaspoon and stirring his coffee restlessly. “She doesn’t seem to want to see me. She doesn’t answer my texts. If I don’t call her insistently, she wouldn’t even answer me.”
Ryan had to bite back a laugh. Now that he was speaking, Richard’s voice was bordering on petulant, almost like a three year old who didn’t get his way. “Teka pare. Dati ba, ginagawa nya yung mga yun? Dati ba, okay lang yun sa kanya?”
“Oo naman,” Richard replied. “Dati nga, parang ang saya-saya nya pag nag-uusap kami. Ngayon … I can’t understand.”
“Ikaw kasi, brad, sanay na sanay ka na ikaw ang hinahabol, hindi ikaw ang naghahabol. Naaalala ko pa nung college tayo, di ba yung mga nasa sorority equivalent natin, kulang na lang mag-sponsor ng events natin, yun pala, nag-uunahan lang na magpapansin sa ‘yo? At wala pa dun, hindi pa counted yung mga kaklase mo … saka yung Vice President mo sa student council, si Josephine ba yun? Para kang magnet nun, brad –”
Richard raised a hand to stop Ryan mid-sentence. “Pare, wala naman akong kinalaman dun …”
“Yun nga, pare. Wala kang kinalaman, wala kang ka-effort effort, pero mga chicks ang lumalapit sa yo. Kaya nga sobrang bagong experience sigurado para sa yo na ikaw naman ang naghahabol ngayon.”
Richard frowned. “Siguro nga. Kasi naman …” He paused, sighing again. “She’s a different sort of woman, pare. She’s … just …”
“Oo naman, ano ka ba,” Richard said, his tone slightly annoyed. “But that’s not the point. She’s rare.”
“Wow. Talaga naman ha. Rare? Hindi yan common na word to describe a woman. Ano ba sya?”
For the first time, a hint of a smile — mixed with a sense of tenderness and — was that pride? — crossed Richard’s face. “She’s training to be a flight attendant.”
Ryan nodded. “So bata pa?”
“Yes.” Richard smiled, but Ryan could see he was not smiling at him, but at a memory. Ang love nga naman, o, Ryan mused. Ang cute. Makes me want to fall in love again. ”She’s beautiful, yes, but hindi lang sa labas … she’s brave and she’s funny and she’s wise … even at her age … and she loves her family, loves my kids … all of them, even Nikki who didn’t like her at first …” Richard stopped, and his smile fell. “But now … I don’t understand why she’s avoiding me all of a sudden …”
Ryan frowned. “Hmm. Medyo magulo nga yan. Baka naman may ginawa ka?”
“Oo. Baka naman na-turn off sya sa ‘yo.”
“But that’s the thing! I haven’t even done anything, I haven’t said anything, because she keeps avoiding me!” Richard stood up, his chair scraping the veranda tiles angrily. “I want to tell her how I feel, but how could I do that if she keeps making excuses so that I don’t get to see her?”
“Teka, pare, kalma lang,” Ryan said, trying to pacify his agitated friend. Okay. I take it back. Love is so difficult, he thought. Mabuti na lang, ako, kasal pa. ”Isa-isa lang. So hindi ka pa nagtatapat sa kanya?”
“Hindi nga eh, kasi –”
“Right, right,” Ryan said hastily. “But you haven’t done anything forward or anything like that, that she might feel weird about? Kasi kung wala ka pang sinasabi sa kanya tapos you said something weird or did something unusual, she might be very confused about it …”
Richard frowned, then sat slowly down, understanding dawning on his face. “Oh.”
“Oh — oh ano?”
“If … you put it that way, brad … then yes … I — I did do something.”
Ryan felt a headache begin to form. Really, it was much easier to cross examine a criminal than to get Richard Lim to talk freely. “Ano?”
“I … uh, I kissed her.”
“Kiss?” Ryan began to splutter. “Kiss? You kissed her pare, nang hindi ka pa nagtatapat? Brad, nagpaalam ka man lang ba?”
“Er … no. I just –”
“Wow, brad, eh kaya ka naman pala iniiiwasan eh –”
“It was a goodnight kiss! I brought her to her door, and I was telling her goodnight, and … and it felt so natural, so I just … sort of leant over and … kissed her. May masama ba dun?”
Ryan slapped a hand to his balding forehead. “Wow pare, kelan ka pa naging impulsive? Saan mo sya hinalikan? Don’t tell me –”
“No, no,” Richard said hastily. “I kissed her on the cheek.”
“Dyusko, maha-heart attack naman ako sa yo, brad. Para ka namang ninja nyan eh. Masyado kang mabilis gumalaw! Ni hindi ka pa nagtatapat, humalik ka na. First base na agad? Granted, sa cheek lang. Pero brad, you say she’s young — malamang wala pa syang experience sa mga ganito.”
“Well,” Richard said uncomfortably, “She’s never even had a boyfriend yet …”
“Lord.” Ryan shook his head. “Pare, kung sa husgado nyan, talo ka na agad. Ikaw ang may mali. Ginulat mo sya, sya na wala pang masasabing experience in these things. You haven’t formally declared anything. Tapos magtataka ka kung bakit iniiiwasan ka? Pare, kahit ako ang babae, talagang tatakbuhan kita.”
Richard buried his face in his hands. “Pano na ‘to, pare? Fifteen years na ‘kong walang practice sa panliligaw. I don’t remember how …”
“Hay naku, pare. Hindi problema yan. Ang panliligaw noon at ngayon, pareho pa rin. Ang first step pa rin, tell her how you feel.”
“And how do I do that? Okay, fine, I know it’s my fault she’s avoiding me, but how do I tell her anything if she keeps running away?” Richard looked up from his hands. “How do I get her to stop running away?”
Ryan smiled. “Madali lang yan. Eh di wag mo na syang tanungin. Magpakita ka na lang. Tapos ayain mong lumabas. O, eh di problem solved!”
“Akala ko ba, I shouldn’t do anything forward? As it is, parang na-sabotage ko na nga ang sarili ko.”
“Hindi naman forward yung sunduin mo sya, pare. Alam mo ba kung saan sya nagte-train?”
“Oo naman, inihahatid ko sya dun dati.”
“Perfect. Even more so na hindi strange na magpakita ka. Dati mo naman palang ginagawa eh. That’s the key, brad. Stick to the things you used to do before all of this, so she feels safe and familiar. Saka mo na sya bulagain ng epic mong confession kapag comfortable na sya ulit sa ‘yo.”
Richard looked at Ryan. “Are you sure about this?”
“Oo naman, pare,” Ryan said confidently.
Richard sighed. “Okay. Fine. I’ll take your advice. I hope it works.” His face brightened. “Bukas na bukas din, dadaanan ko sya.”
“Pero wait lang, pare. Di ba may baseline maintenance daw, sabi ni Liza?”
“Okay lang, pare. It shouldn’t take that long to finish. Her training gets done by five, so it’s more than enough time for me to drive from the hangar to her training school. Magkalapit lang yun eh.” Richard beamed. “If I get there by four thirty …”
Ryan couldn’t help but smile fondly at his friend who was now busy counting down his hours till he would see the object of his affections. The change was so stark: from the brooding, frustrated man he was speaking to a while ago, here now was a happy, smiling man, his eyes shining with anticipation.
Ryan shook his head as he listened to Richard’s plans, which were now becoming more and more animated. Naka, miss kung sino ka man. Good luck na lang. Babagyuhin ka nitong si Richard, whether you like it or not.
Brace yourself …