11/23

 
 

11/23 Chapter 16


If you haven’t yet, please read  which lies between Chapter 100 and 101~ This chapter is dedicated to @ImJustTesting, @Fernandes27, @FanB23, @Slikrapids and other readers that are still reading this! I love you all, huhuhu. ❤

¹Che- An expression similar to clicking of the tongue as if saying "whatever."

#OfQuestionsAndReasons

“For life is laced upon with flawed perfection and chaotic beauty.”

-x-

It’s official: Riona Jayne “Jhing” Blanco abhor feeling nice.

She knew that a freaking nice feeling will turn everything upside down. And for the record, the universe proved her right. Again.

Everything felt light that evening? Nice, even? Well, curse that niceness feeling. The universe loathed every single fiber of her body it made her sick. So her plan to surprise-visit her family on Christmas? Ruined. Crashed. Burned like a bitch. She won't be able to finish her deadline on time.

She dragged herself to the office when she felt a little better. No Christmas spirit around their office lifted her mood even though she likes Holidays. This time, the lights, designs, and the Christmas songs made her dizzy.

Or maybe it was because the sneezing and coughing were crazy. Her world was spinning like shit. Jhing was slow as a turtle in editing the manuscripts. July's teasing didn't help her either.

“You got sick at the same time?” she asked. “Did you infected each other in a way that will make me blush?”

Just like Jhing, Miko got sick too.

He was coughing and sneezing like a madman. A few of their co-workers get shocked and felt funny whenever Miko coughs loudly. And that idiot, he was acting like a basketball player as he shoots his used tissues to the trash can to which Yayo applauded to whenever he scored.

When Jhing coughed, so did Miko which July made a big deal about.

“Duet?” Another laugh. “You were both being romantic under the rain that's why you got sick, no? You can tell it to me. Spill the beans—” July was positive with the Miko-Jhing ship because the words 'Miko is not married' spread in the office.

Jhing’s version of ‘saved by the bell’ was Miss Zue. Thank God. She announced the Monito-Monitaevent, for the book team. Jhing got Yayo's paper from the box filled with the employees’ names.

And Jhing was sure Miko didn’t get her name. That idiot was trying to force Facio to exchange names with his. The latter unconsciously looked at Jhing which made a glare quickly flew to his direction.

Jhing heard Facio said, “Sorry bro, she'll get mad if I give it to you.”

Thank God for Facio who can read her expression.

It was at this moment when chaos broke out because they found out the categories for exchange gift for the week: Something hard. Something long. Something wet. Something sticky. Something hot. Something dirty. Something sexy.

“Something sexy? The person I got is really lucky. They will be receiving me as a pr—” Miko suddenly coughs.

Everybody laughed; if it was because of what he said or his cough, no one knew.

The day continued normally— until Miko emailed Jhing in the afternoon.

from: MJesus Crux to: Riona Jayne Blanco subject: The most important email in this whole wide world… Hi. [Riona Jayne] Wow. That's really important. [MJesus Crux] Right! What do you expect from me? Anything and everything I say is important! [Riona Jayne] Busy. What's your problem? [MJesus Crux] Awtsu Jhing is so cold… ಥ_ಥ I just need instructions for the novella. I'll be making a study for the illus and I will show it to you after work. Ms. Stels keep emailing me… I think she has a crush on me. Being handsome is a sin.

Oh my goodness.

Jhing went into panic mode. She was too distracted because of what happened for the past week, so she actually forgot about the illustration. She skimmed her novella. What to do? What to email back?

A few minutes, Miko emailed again.

[MJesus Crux] Jhing pls don't faint from blushing too much. Do that later, okay? We need to do our work first. Hehe ^__^v

Jhing rolled her eyes just like the first time she read that line. Ugh. Everything was coming back again. Shit. She was thinking of what to reply—or more like what excuse or some sort to send.

[Riona Jayne] I'm not sure about this… Fall is the one who suggested it. And she insisted. Anyway, FALL said: a man and a woman with their laptop are sitting back to back, but they aren't in the same place. They're both in their respective bedrooms.

With eyes closed, Jhing clicked send.

Gahd. How can sending email be this fatal? Sorry for using your name, Fall, Jhing thought. She went back to work, kept on repeating a paragraph she couldn’t understand. Shit. She's getting anxious.

Then Miko replied. Jhing hesitated before deciding to read it.

[MJesus Crux] Copy.

Wow. Thank God he only replied… not. Another email.

[MJesus Crux] But are you sure that the man is using a laptop? And not a computer with a slim and stylish 21.5-inch monitor? The brand is also Asus. The man worked hard to buy it, you know? And are you sure you want me to draw his bedroom? After all, he's in his studio working on his illustrations most of the time.

Jhing was sure her name is etched in hell for cursing too much inside her head.

[MJesus Crux] We can do this novella project! (ง ͡ʘ ͜ʖ ͡ʘ)ง High five! (。-_-。 )人( 。-_-。)

Okay. She was done. Over.

RIP JHING.

She did not die, unfortunately, but she did her best not to get Miko to talk to her. Surprisingly, she succeeded. To distract herself from overthinking, Jhing decided to edit the rest of the manuscript at home. However, her laptop decided to be a bitch like her throbbing head.

The laptop died. It freaking died on her with a 23-pages manuscript edit. UNSAVED. And the laptop couldn’t resurrect it.

Well, fuck it.

Jhing was on rage! Her throat was sore, nose still runny and gods, she was dying. No joke! Or maybe it was exaggerated a little. BUT SERIOUSLY. Deadlines!

Their Monito-Monita event has ended—Jhing gave and got decent gifts except for the something sexy category: A polaroid photo of Miko seducing the camera is what she received.

On Friday, Jhing almost cried because she wasn't done with her editing yet… and the year-end party was getting nearer! So she had an idea.

“I'll do an overtime. I'm on my last manuscript,” she asked permission from Miss Zue. “Please let me—” She coughed. “So I can rest early and not think about anything.”

Miss Zue had no choice.

While her co-workers were preparing to go home, Jhing stayed on her seat. Almost everybody bid their goodbyes until Miko sat next to her. The image of Miko's something sexy suddenly flashed in her mind. My goodness.

“You're not going home yet?” he asked.

Jhing shook her head.

“Why?”

She couldn't concentrate on her work. Jhing closed her eyes for a bit to take a rest before replying “I'll stay overnight to finish my edits.”

“Overnight? Here?”

Even with closed eyes, she wanted to roll her eyes. “No. There.”

“Wow.” Miko coughed. “What about dinner?”

“Later.”

But Miko couldn’t understand the word ‘later.' Jhing's eyes flew open when Miko pulled her to the elevator. The two disturbed other people walking in the hallway because of their tug-of-war.

“What's your problem?” Jhing asked when they got in the elevator, annoyed.

“Eat first. It's already 10 oh. You're already sick, but you dare to not eat your meals properly. Do you want to be sent to the hospital?” Miko said with a serious tone of voice.

Jhing wanted to complain but he had a point. In the end, she ate at Mcdo with Miko. The man still looked serious so Jhing felt the atmosphere was kind of awkward. After the meal, Jhing bought them sundae.

“What's this?” Miko asked.

“Ice cream. Does it look like fries to you?”

Good. He laughed. Better.

They ate their ice cream, in between coughs, on the way back to the office. Miko and Jhing seemed like composing a beatbox with their coughs as the highlight.

“Cornetto is still better,” Miko commented.

“Are you complaining?”

“No ah!”

Jhing rolled her eyes. “The chocolate at the tip is the best part."

“Yeah!” Miko laughed so hard that he almost choked, “We're both sick but we're still eating ice cream? We're so number sign rebels ah."

“Number sign?”

Miko smirked. “Hashtag. Hashtag rebels.”

Jhing stared at Miko, thinking why the heck she was with him. Miko, on the other hand, frowned as he continued walking. When they finished their ice cream, they went directly to the building, up the elevator, and reached Jhing's workstation in the office.

That’s when it hit her.

“Why are you still here?"

Miko looked around and at the clock: 11pm. The whole place was deserted, a few lights on— the rest— creepy.

“It's really quiet without any of them here, no?”

Miko waited for Jhing’s reply. Unfortunately, she just stared at him.

Miko sighed and looked at the clock again.

“Seen 11:11.”

Jhing continued with her work while Miko started playing with his computer chair. The man was rolling from one end to the other while saying, "I've wanted to do this for a long time!"

Jhing just focused on what she was working on until she was stunned when a familiar song started playing.

The Script song from Miko’s phone.

The two of them fell silent.

So I’m not moving, I’m not moving.

Jhing's heart was far from calm.

“Do you remember what you said back at the bookstore?” Miko asked. “On why the others want to publish a book when they aren't even sure if someone's going to buy it?"

Her eyes still on the screen but her attention was on Miko. “O?”

“How cold.” Miko chuckled. “I realized… maybe they were hopeful.” Jhing stopped from typing. “Didn't I wanted to buy all your books, but you told me not to because someone else might want to read it? Maybe they were like that too."

"Hoping for something even if the chance of success is merely 1%."

Jhing turned her head to Miko who was leisurely sitting on his chair. She didn’t expect that he’d remember that. “You see everything from the positive view.”

“It's probably a talent.” He smirked. “Only a few people can think positive in this world."

“Yeah right.” She rolled her eyes. “But those hopeful authors should fix their manuscripts before sending to us.” She pointed at her screen. “There's still a bunch of notes saying 'please read,'and 'please follow.' Before being hopeful, they should keep in mind that I'm an editor and not an eraser for the author’s note that was copy-pasted from Wattpad.”

Miko laughed while Jhing was pissed.

“I missed this,” he said with a voice that was light.

Jhing frowned while staring at her manuscript, "Ha?"

“This. Us. We're talking just like how we used to in the past," he said.

Jhing almost deleted her new manuscript because of his words.

Miko chuckled at her actions. “It was only a chat before, but now—” Miko poked Jhing’s arm. “—I can feel the coldness of your skin.”

Jhing did not comment. What to say? She didn’t know.

Thank Gods for The Script broking their awkward silence. A few minutes later, Miko yawned which made her yawn too. When they looked at the clock, they realized it's actually 1 in the morning already.

“Are you copying me?” He laughed and then coughed. “You yawned when I yawned?”

“Che¹.”

“Le.”

Jhing sneezed. She can’t concentrate. 50 pages to edit! When will this end?

She was shocked and tried not to show it when Miko left. Jhing suddenly felt cold and scared. She wanted to ask where he’s going but her ego stopped her. He's going home already. He got bored of you, her mind told her.

Fine. Better. He's just disturbing her from working anyway.

The surroundings were quiet and Jhing tried to ignore this eerie feeling. She was on her last 25 pages when Miko walked towards her with a plastic of junk foods and drinks on his hand.

He threw her one of the chips before saying "Come, eat.” He also handed her a drink.

“I thought you already went home?”

“You know Jhing,” he said and squeezed her shoulder. “A lot of people died from expecting things wrongly.”

“I'm not asking.”

“Ouch. Are you enjoying being sassy ah?” Miko opened one of the chips before offering it to Jhing.

When Jhing was reaching her hand out, Miko held the chips away from her. "Didn't I just give you a chip for yourself? But you still want to take from mine…"

"What will be left of me if you took everything, including my soul?"

Ay whatever.

Us The Duo songs from Miko's was having a remix with their munching of chips. It felt better, but their energy was draining. Even Miko lost all his words. After a while, Jhing turned to his direction and found out that the idiot was already sleeping in his chair uncomfortably.

She shook her head and continued working.

An hour later, Jhing’s heart almost jumped out of her when Miko suddenly shouted, “I'M JUST HANDSOME!”

“Tangina?!” 

Her poor heart ached.

“Woah.” Miko gasped. “My dream was really strange. The police were locking me up in jail because the women were fighting over me. Dang, that was scary. And to think the judge was actually you!"

Jhing did a facepalm.

Miko laughed and whispered, “facepalm in the flesh.”

He rolled his chair closer and peeked at the screen. “Are you almost done? Let's play a game to wake me up."

“Do I look like someone who has time to play a game?”

“Ten questions. No repeating." Miko ignored Jhing’s comment. “I'll ask first… Did you like my something sexy from Monito-Monita?”

This idiot is so conceited.

“Yeah. I like it so much that I burned it."

“Because I'm hot? Wow! Great use of symbolism ah."

“I give up,” Jhing whispered and shook her head.

“Your turn.”

“Favorite color.”

“Seriously, that's your question?”

She looked at him. “How about you? That's your question?”

“God, you're getting better at this,” He smirked.

Jhing shrugged her shoulders. Why must everything come back to those chat moments? WHY?!

“Blue, sometimes silver. Do you have any weird mannerism?”

Jhing thought for a moment before answering “I don't know.”

Miko smiled. “Whenever you're editing, you bite your lower lips,"  he said and looked at her lips which made Jhing’s heart flutter. She didn’t notice that.

To change the topic, Jhing asked, “Favorite TV Show.”

Miko laughed. “Will you believe me if I told you O Shopping? That show is so cool. Whenever they advertise knives, they make me feel like I want to cook even though I don't know how to. There was even this shower, ohhh, I felt like it will feel good using it."

“You're so naive,” Jhing commented. “It's just an advertisement. They're spouting lies to attract customers.”

Miko shrugged. “What can I do if they're so good at marketing? How about you, what's your favorite show?"

“I thought that we're not allowed to repeat a question?"

“You only thought that."

Jhing rolled her eyes. “American series. GoT. Castle. Suits. Friends.”

“Oh, do you have any copy of those? I want to watch it.”

“I don't want to. You need to pay me with money.”

“Why not love?”

It was a soft whisper. Miko made sure Jhing wouldn’t hear it, but she did. He was smirking when he said it. Clearly, he was teasing her… or fooling around. Nothing to read more than that.

When the night got deeper, Jhing’s questions did too as she continued editing. “Why are you working here?”

“The former art director invited me to,” Miko answered. “I told you ah, he liked my drawings.” Jhing didn’t react. “So, why aren't you talking to Anna?”

“Anna? Who's that?”

“Sister of Elsa.” He laughed which made Jhing rolled her eyes. “Your neighbor!"

Oh, the one who spilled her address. “Why?”

“That's your question?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow! Can't you ask me something decent?" he complained. Jhing shrugged. Miko continued, “You're not close to anyone…”

Jhing stared at the screen. “Is that a question?”

Miko sighed. “Why are you always in a daze? Are you thinking of me?"

“Why do you keep talking?” She arched a brow.

“Awtsu!” Miko laughed.

“Why didn't you reply to me?”

Jhing looked at Miko. “Huh?”

“The time,” he said. “Why didn't you reply?”

Her heart… a traitor.

“Because you are stubborn. I didn't reply to make you stop."  

“But I didn't stop.”

That was when Jhing noticed she bit her lower lip. She was hoping she still has chips to munch so she can have an excuse for not answering.

"Because you're stubborn."

Miko laughed. Her heartbeat was getting louder.

After a few minutes of silence, he nudged her. “Uy, it's your turn.”

Before she could stop herself, she asked, “What's the real reason for chatting me?” She wanted to slap herself, but it was too late. But gahd, it was a question she was dying to ask.

With a grin, he answered, “At first, I only wanted to prove to my co-worker that I can make you talk to me. But when I had a problem and you lightened up my mood… Yeah, I just thought to myself…"

"Goodness, this woman likes me."

“Wow?”

Miko laughed loudly which made him cough. “I'm serious! You were concerned about me that time ah."

“Whatever.”

“My turn. What part don't you like about me?”

“You love to flirt."

“Ouch!” Miko clutched his shirt near his chest. “You answered so fast ah?”

Another shrug from Jhing. “What will you have become if you didn't become an illustrator?"

“We wouldn't have been together right now,” he said. “Maybe I'll be in a famous architecture firm. Or maybe I'll become the Christian Grey of the Philippines—hot bachelor billionaire.”

Jhing stared at him with bored eyes too long that made Miko frown.

“My turn again!” Miko said. Jhing waited as she typed in comments. “Didn't you like a love story that has a past? Something that has familiarity?”

Jhing stared at him before realizing what he said. Her hand felt cold when Miko continued his words. “We're now in the present. Did I tell you that I time traveled from the past?”

Jhing's chest tightened. She couldn’t move. They both stared at each other’ eyes, both serious and tired, stuck at each other’s stare. Jhing held her breath as if she would die if she breathed the same air as Miko’s.

“Jhing.” Miko’s serious voice made her force herself to not fucking cry in front of him. “What happe—”

“Flirting so early in the morning ah.”

They both looked at the guard who switched the lights on the whole office; a group of people entered the office with cleaning materials. Jhing looked at the clock, almost 5 in the morning already.

That fast?

Miko laughed and stood up. “‘This guard oh. Don't you know that flirting can be done anytime, anywhere?" People who heard it laugh except Jhing.

Miko then greeted goodbye to sleep on the lobby's sofa.

Her mind haywire; the straight lines got messed up inside her brain. She felt like a zombie while editing the last few pages.

Miko’s face repeated on her head, and his voice, and the way he asked—shit.

Do not cry.

Do not fucking cry, Jhing.

After finally finishing the manuscripts, she closed her eyes and breathed. She was drained; both mentally and emotionally.

When Jhing reached the lobby, she stopped in her tracks.

Miko was laying down on the sofa. His arm is on his forehead and the other one rests on his stomach; while his foot was on the ground and the other is on the sofa, knee pointed upward. It seems like he still had the energy to pose before falling asleep.

Jhing’s heart started beating fast again when she stared at Miko’s closed eyes. She squatted to see him clearly and felt like everything stopped. The pieces inside were breaking again.

What happened? was his question.

Miko was Jhing's punishment.   

Indeed. What happened, Jhing? she asked as she tries to get herself intact. The past few months, she was sure she had a concrete and reasonable explanation for herself… until he appeared.

He made everything in her mind vanished. Forgotten. But she still felt her broken self inside.

What happened?

Why?

Jhing stood up in a second Miko opened his reddened eyes. Because of his magazine model position, his body felt numb.

Jhing didn’t blink as she was afraid the tears would fall, and she didn’t want it to happen. Her brain probably turned into a paste because of editing for almost 24 hours. She was confused about everything. She kept on fixing the strap of her bag even though nothing was wrong with it.

“It's good that you're awake. I almost left you.” She walked towards the elevator.

“But you still didn't leave me,” Miko followed her and went inside the elevator, both leaning on the wall. “Thank you.”

His voice was soft. “For not leaving me."

Jhing clutched her hand. She hated feeling nice. She hated herself.

Do not fucking cry.


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