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Naging emosyonal ang paghahatid namin kila Jennie at Rosé sa airport. 

 

 

Hindi allowed ang kagaya ng dati, kaya gustuhin man sumama ng mga kaibigan namin sa paghahatid, hindi na din nila pinilit. Kami na lang ni Kai ang gumawa noon at talagang dinrop off lang namin sila sa airport. Hindi na namin inintay until makapag check in sila, hindi na kami nagtagal doon. 

 

 

 

It felt lonely and empty when I came back to the apartment after sending the two off. Siyempre, tatlong taon din kami na magkakasama dito sa apartment.  I was so attached to the two of them, lalo kay Jennie na high school pa lang ay kasama ko na. I treated them both like my real sisters, dahil mas madalas ko silang kasama than Ate Tiff and Lia. 

 

 

 

Two weeks na din ang nakalipas and I can say that I have somehow adjusted. Ganoon din sila. Upon arrival, they were held in Brisbane for a 14-day quarantine. They have undergone swab testing and even when it came out negative, they still had to stay in Brisbane and finish their quarantine before flying home to Melbourne. Kaya inis na inis si Jennie because she had to go through all those troubles just to be home. Kung may ibang choice lang sila ay hindi na nila ginawa. 

 

 

 

“Sinabi ko kasi sayo, pumunta na din muna kayo dito ni Lia habang wala kang kasama dyan sa apartment. Or better yet, let go of that apartment. Hindi mo naman kailangan.” si Ate Tiff na ang aga aga ay kino convince nanaman akong pumunta na sa California. 

 

 

 

 

“Ate, nakakatamad kaya mag-ayos ng papers ngayon! Besides, ang hirap din mag travel. Do you want me to expose myself and be infected again? While traveling ha?” 

 

 

 

“Ay nako, wag na nga. Mahirap magkasakit ka ngayon, lagi kang mag-isa.” natawa ako dahil sa biglang pagbabago ng isip niya. 

 

 

 

“It’s almost the holidays! Don’t worry, Rene. You won’t celebrate it alone naman.” kinawayan ko ang sumingit sa camera na si Ate Jessica. Nasa bahay pala siya ngayon ni Ate. 

 

 

 

“Hi Ate! Yeah, this is the first time I’ll be celebrating the holidays alone.” I chuckled. “Siguro itutulog ko nalang.” 

 

 

 

“Alone? Are you sure?” kumunot ang noo ko sa mapanlokong tanong na iyon ni Ate Jess. May sinabi pa sa kaniya si Ate Tiffany na hindi ko nalang pinansin. 

 

 

 

“How ‘bout you, Ate? When is the wedding?” 

 

 

 

Kagaya ng alam ko, Ate Jessica is set to marry a rich business tycoon’s only son. I have seen the guy few times, dahil bestfriend iyon ng boyfriend naman ni Ate Tiffany. It’s funny because the two ended up with bestfriends, too. 

 

 

 

“On the 31st, diba? Mabuti nalang nga at everything’s finalized. Thanks to the help of my maid of honor, by the way.” 

 

 

 

“Paano ba yan? Sa kasal ko dapat ikaw ang Maiden of honor.” 

 

 

 

It’s amazing how these two used to just talk about their business, their designs, and about attending the fashion week. Ngayon, ang pinaguusapan na nila ay tungkol sa pagpapa-kasal. Siguro ay ganoon talaga, kapag may maayos ka nang trabaho, kapag stable ka na, talagang maiisip mo nang maghanap ng life partner. 

 

 

 

“Now your sister’s probably thinking of who she should get as her maid of honor, Tiff.” Ate Jessica chuckled then pointed at me, na nakatulala lang habang nagi-isip. 

 

 

 

“I’m not thinking about that yet, Ate. Wala pa naman akong jowa tapos kasal agad ang iisipin ko?” 

 

 

 

Tumawa ng malakas ang kapatid ko. “Tama. Sagutin mo muna ang manliligaw mo bago ka mag-isip ng tungkol sa kasal.” 

 

 

 

 

Tumango ako. 

 

 

 

 

Hindi na namin pinagusapan ni Seulgi ang tungkol sa Sunmi incident noong araw ng kasal nila Joy. She apologized to me about Lisa’s behavior and asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I said no, so she didn’t insist anymore. She just assured me that what happened with Sunmi is already in the past and that they are only reconnecting today as friends, acquaintances. 

 

 

 

Besides, bakit nga daw magse selos pa ako kung ako naman ang mahal niya ngayon, at hindi iyong Sunmi na iyon? 

 

 

 

 

I had to cook for my lunch kaya ibinaba ko na ang tawag. Pauwi na din si Ate Jessica kaya nagpaalam na din siya. Chineck ko ang oras sa wall clock and was slightly disappointed because Seulgi hasn’t called me, yet. Nitong mga nakalipas na araw ay hindi kami gaanong nagkakausap. 

 

 

 

 

After Joy and Wendy’s wedding, Seulgi was missing in action for a day. Kaya’t kinabahan ako dahil baka ito nanaman.. baka nawala nanaman siya nang hindi nagpapaalam. Iyon pala ay masyado siyang naging busy sa pagaayos ng wedding pictures nila Joy, at sa pag-edit ng wedding SDE nila. She flew back home to Los Angeles immediately so her schedule was a bit hectic. Naintindihan ko naman iyon at hindi na siya kinulit pa. 

 

 

 

Iniwan ko sandali sa kitchen iyong niluluto ko, dahil hindi naman iyon kailangang bantayan. Bumalik ako sa lounge at naupo sa couch, hawak hawak ang cellphone ko para tingnan kung active ba si Seulgi sa social media or kung may message na ba siya, pero wala pa din. Kaya ngumuso ako. Ano nanaman kaya ang nangyari dito? 

 

 

 

Pabalik na sana ulit ako sa kitchen nang may mag-doorbell. Napakunot ang noo ko, wala naman akong iniintay na delivery ngayon? 

 

 

 

 

“Sandali lang po!” sigaw ko dahil hindi matigil ang pagpapa-ring nang kung sino ang nasa labas. Kinuha ko pa kasi ang mask ko. 

 

 

 

 

Nang buksan ko ang pinto, I was surprised to see a delivery man with a bouquet of flowers. 

 

 

 

 

“Uh? Do I need to sign something or???” hindi ko na tinanong kung kanino galing iyon, dahil sino pa ba ang magpapadala ng bulaklak? 

 

 

 

“Wala na po, Ma’am.” tumango ako at sinarhan na ang pinto bago magpasalamat.

 

 

 

 

Siguro naman magte text na si Seul dahil dumating na ang delivery niya? 

 

 

 

Chineck ko ang phone ko para mag type ng message para sa kaniya, pero hindi ko pa nabubuksan ang telegram at may nag doorbell nanaman. 

 

 

 

“Miss Irene Bae? Delivery po.” nakanguso ako habang pinipirmahan ang  papel na inabot ng delivery man. 

 

 

 

This time, isang teddy bear naman ang dumating. Pangalawa na ito ngayong araw, wala pa din text sa akin si Seulgi? 

 

 

 

Bumalik ako sa lounge para manuod na lang ng tv after kong icheck ang niluluto ko. Hindi pa ako nakakaupo nang bigla nanamang tumunog ang doorbell kaya inis akong pumunta sa pinto para buksan iyon. Grabfood naman ngayon, at cake ang dala. 

 

 

 

Hindi ko naman birthday ngayon, ano nanaman ba itong pakulo ni Seulgi?! Sa inis ko, hinawakan ko na ang cellphone ko para tawagan siya. It surprised me that it is actually ringing dahil kanina ay hindi! Naka-ilang dial ako bago may mag doorbell ulit. 

 

 

 

“Ugh!! What is it this time?!” ginulo ko ang buhok ko. 

 

 

 

My other hand is still holding my phone, trying to contact Seulgi na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa din sumasagot! But what surprised me was that as I come closer to the door, the louder I hear a phone ringing. 

 

 

 

 

At nang tuluyan ko itong buksan, 

 

 

 

 

 

“Surprise!” napakurap kurap ako. 

 

 

 

It can’t be, right? 

 

 

 

 

Sinarhan ko ang pinto at napansandal sa wall. It felt like time stopped. Do I love her that much that I am having hallucinations? Of seeing her in the delivery man’s body? Masyado naman yatang hindi makatotohanan iyon! 

 

 

 

Seulgi is.. here?

 

 

 

 

“Relax, Irene. Hindi si Seulgi ‘yon. The world is not in a situation where you can easily travel. You’re just hallucinating.” paulit ulit kong sinabi iyon sa utak ko. 

 

 

 

 

At nang makalma, handa na akong buksan ang pinto. 

 

 

 

 

“H-hello?” sagot ko sa phone ko bago pa mabuksan ang pinto dahil tumawag si Seulgi, finally! 

 

 

 

“‘Ga? Are you not happy to see me?” 

 

 

“Huh?” litong tanong ko kay Seulgi. 

 

 

“Pinag-sarhan mo ako ng pinto! Are you not happy that I’m here?” 

 

 

“You’re here?” 

 

 

Seulgi softly chuckled. “I am. Now, if you think that this is just a dream, open your door to find out if this is real or not.” 

 

 

 

Ibababa ko na sana ang tawag nang marinig ang boses niya ulit. 

 

 

 

 

“Don’t drop the call, ‘Ga.” I nodded my head as if she’s seeing me. 

 

 

 

And with that, I took a deep breath and slowly opened the door. 

 

 

 

“Are you seeing me now?” 

 

 

 

Ramdam ko ang init sa mukha ko dahil sa pagtulo ng mga luha nang marinig iyon mula kay Seulgi. I heard it from my phone, and from the person who is right in front of me. 

 

 

 

Because right in front of me, is Seulgi with her usual getup - faded jeans, rolled up sleeves, white converse, shades, her phone on her hand, and two large suitcases. 

 

 

 

Ibinaba ko ang tawag at mabilis na nilapitan si Seulgi para mapatunayan kung totoo nga ito. I felt her arms on my back, hugging me the same way I am hugging her. I cried in her embrace. Thousands of emotions are rushing through my veins. I did not want to believe this. It’s hard to believe that she risked safety just so she can be with me right now. 

 

 

 

 

I broke the hug just so I can stare at her. Her hands on both sides of my cheeks, while mine clinging on her waist as my eyes stare at her as if it could say all the words I want to say. I hugged her again because I still can’t believe that my whole world is now in my arms. 

 

 

 

 

 

“Pwede na ba tayong pumasok?” Seulgi softly asked after I am finally calm. Tumango ako ng parang bata. 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, freak!” 

 

 

 

Para akong binuhusan ng malamig na tubig at mabilis na tumakbo sa kitchen dahil naamoy kong natutuyuan na yata ng sabaw ang niluluto kong sinigang! 

 

 

 

 

Sinusubukan kong ayusin ang kalat na naiwan sa kitchen nang naramdaman ko ang pagyakap sa akin ni Seulgi mula sa likod. Napapikit ako. 

 

 

 

“Hmm.. ang bango.” marahang sabi niya. 

 

 

 

“Ng niluluto ko? Eh muntik na ngang maubos yung sabaw!” reklamo ko at natawa na lang siya. 

 

 

 

“Sinabi ko ba na yung sinigang ang mabango?” the way Seulgi sniffed on my neck instantly brought shivers onto my spine. It made me lose all the sanity I have now! “I was talking about my baby.” 

 

 

 

“Your baby, who’s left in Los Angeles?” I tried joking. 

 

 

 

“No.” I left a soft moan after what she did. I wanted to protest but she was quicker than me! “The baby I just bit.” 

 

 

 

 

I pouted my lips after facing Seulgi, breaking the hug. I tilted my head so she can have a clear view of what she did on my neck. 

 

 

 

 

“You do know that this would leave a mark for days, right?” 

 

 

 

Seulgi chuckled. “So what? Minamarkahan ko lang ang akin.” 

 

 

 

Mahina ko siyang tinampal sa braso para itago ang kilig. So we’re giving each other love marks, now? 

 

 

 

“Gutom ka lang. Akala mo yata pagkain ako. Go and get changed while I prepare our lunch.” tinulak ko ang natatawang Seulgi, hindi pa din maintindihan kung bakit hindi siya matahimik. 

 

 

 

“I wouldn’t mind eating you, Hyun.” 

 

 

 

 

Mas natawa siya ng malakas nang hawakan ko ang pot holder at ihagis iyon sa kaniya. Kailan pa naging marumi ang utak nitong bestfriend ko?!? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seulgi came out of the bathroom just on time. Natapos na din ako sa niluluto ko pati sa pagse set up ng table. Nasa lounge pa din ang dalawang suitcase ni Seulgi pati ang duffel bag niya. Mamaya na lang siguro namin iyon ilalagay sa kwarto para ayusin.  

 

 

 

She was still drying her hair as she sat on the dining table. Nakangising tinititigan ako at ang pagkain na niluto. 

 

 

 

“I missed your food.” sabi niya. 

 

 

 

“Huwag ako, Seul. I know you have your girls back there who cook for you. At Chef ka kaya mas masarap kang magluto.” 

 

 

 

She shrugged. “Iba pa din ang home cooked meal.”

 

 

 

Kagaya ng dati, nauunang kumain si Seulgi. I keep myself busy just by staring at her eat the food I cooked. Kung minsan, doon pa lang ay nabubusog na ako. I would stare at her until she's done eating because she's too busy with her food that she wouldn't notice that I am not eating. 

 

 

"Why won't you eat?" she asked, confused. 
 

 

"Nothing.. I am just reminded of the old days." sagot ko at nginitian siya. 
 

 

Ibinaba ni Seulgi ang spoon and fork niya at hinawakan ako sa kamay. Napatingin ako doon at nangiti na lang. 

 

 

 

"The days where you would just stare at me until I finish your food?" 
 

 

"Yes." 
 

 

"Eh ginagawa mo 'yon noon dahil minsan lang tayo magkita." 
 

 

 

True enough, iyon nga ang dahilan. There were days in our college life that we wouldn't meet for days, sometimes a week. Lalo noong graduating kami pareho. Naging busy sa thesis, sa ojt, at iba pang requirements. Kaya sa tuwing nagkikita kami, sa tuwing pinagluluto ko siya kapag bumibisita siya sa Dasma, I would just stare at her until she's done eating. Hindi nakakasawang tingnan ang mukha ni Seulgi. Noon man, hanggang ngayon. 

 

 

"You won't have to do that now, Hyun." nginitian ako ni Seulgi at pinisil pa ang kamay ko. "Because from now on, we would eat all our meals together. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and even midnight snacks. I would make up for the years we lost." 
 

 

 

Gusto kong maiyak, matawa at kiligin dahil sa sinabi ni Seulgi. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang dapat kong maging reaksyon. This whole thing is actually new to me. Hindi pa din ako makapaniwala na andito na siya ngayon. 
 

 

 

"From today onwards, we would eat our meals together. Until the day we can't have them." natawa ako. 
 

 

 

Noon ay napapagusapan na namin bilang mag bestfriend ang tungkol sa mangyayari sa amin sa future. We promised to stay beside each other until the day when we decide to have our own family, our own grandchildren, and even until we're too old and weak. Now, to think that we will do those together - as in me, and Seulgi, growing old together feels surreal. 

 

 

It's funny because we made plans about spending our future with our own families, but didn't realize that we are that family. 

 

 

"So eat now, silly. Because we have a lot of catching ups to do." 

 

 

Natatawa kong hinawakan ang spoon and fork ko, habang si Seulgi naman ay nagsimulang lagyan ng laman ang plato ko. Napangiti ako sa kaniya then mouthed thank you. 

 

 

 

"Ga?"

 

 

"Hmm?"

 

 

"Can I pinch your cheeks?" naga-alangang tanong ko pa sa kaniya na ikinatawa niya lang. 

 

 

"Kailan mo pa ipinaalam yan?" inilapit ni Seulgi ang mukha niya sa akin at pumikit, handa na sa susunod kong gagawin. 

 

 

"You're really here."

 

 

Iyon na lang ang tanging nasabi ko habang hawak hawak ko pa din ang magkabilang pisngi ni Seulgi, gently caressing it while my eyes are hooked at hers. 

 

 

 

 

"I am finally back home, 'Ga." 

 

 

 

 

 

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ako lang ba ang kinilig dito? hays, sana lahat. 

I was listening to Authotelic's Languyin while proofreading this. Hindi ko na nilagay dito mismo ang kanta, 

in-add ko nalang sa playlist. :) 

thanks for reading! 

 

 

 

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Thank you!
ereni_r
thank you, a lot, for reading this! I will mark this story complete but will still publish three chapters centered to the three ships. thank you, again and have a great evening! :)
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