I know, I know. It took me a long while for this update. Still, I hope those who are reading this still haven't lost interest. Thanks, again and again to those who reviewed last time. Though I know this story isn't as eye-catching as other stories, I'm still glad that some people take their time to read and review my stuff, however crappy it may seem. Thank you very much!!

Oh, yeah. I reposted this chapter because I noted some errors. If you see some more, please be kind enough to tell me. Thank you again.

Here's the next installation! Please R&R!


IV: ILLNESSES

Her eyes opened a crack and she groaned. Everything was hazy and bright—too bright. On the top of that, the joints and muscles of her body were aching oddly, and the pain in her head was akin to exploding. Moaning, Theo struggled to sit up, rubbing her nape as she did and paused; her skin was burning up…she was burning up.

Weakly, a breath passed from her dry lips in a slow deliberate release. Shaking her head, she murmured, "I probably drank too much brandy last night…a hangover, just a hangover." But no matter how many times she repeated this to herself, Theo knew she was coming up with something bad. Decidedly, she struggled to remove the sheets from her form and grabbed the phone. Punching a few numbers, she called to Edwin Morales and told him, in a cracking voice, that she was feeling "slightly ill".

""Slightly ill?"" he imitated. Theo could tell from the tone of his voice that he was worried. "I know you, Theo. When you get ill, you get ill big time—"

"Nothing I can't handle," she stated, trying to sound as off-handed as she could. For good measure, she added, "Seriously."

"All right then. Just make sure you get well; tomorrow's your flight."

"Okay. No problem." Hanging up on the receiver, she leaned back on the wall and allowed herself to slide down on the floor. Just speaking was causing her too much effort. Even thinking was making her head hurt more, if it was possible. A curse passed from her lips as she recalled the conversation; she had almost forgotten her trip with the "newbie"! Worse of all, she was sick.

"What the fuck did I do wrong?" she mumbled grumpily. Tomorrow will be a very, very, very, very, very…


long day. Jeorge thought silently as he studied her from his seat. The private stewardess approached and refilled his wine glass. When she inquired for his other orders, he waved her aside politely and continued looking at his specimen. She was quiet—quieter than he could have imagined her. He knew she wasn't too enthusiastic about coming with him because of the…incident. But her silence was strange and unusual. Her head was leaning by the windows, eyes staring at the clouds listlessly. Her wine was left untouched.

If this went on, Jeorge decided, he would certainly go mad. "This is your first flight, I warrant?"

Without as much turning her head to look at him, she nodded. He sighed and leaned further back into his seat. Then, as though noticing his ennui, the woman murmured softly, "You must find my company dreary, Mr. Gregory?"

Straightening almost instantly at her voice, he grinned abashedly. "No, not at all."

Inclining her head to his direction to observe him, she smiled craftily. "Liar. You're probably regretting you brought me with you."

"No—no I'm not. It's just that—" he said indignantly, knowing she was quite right.

"I wouldn't be surprised, actually," she said with a light laugh. "I'm sorry. As you say, this is truly my first plane ride, and I'm feeling slightly out of the weather."

"Oh—I see." He regarded her silently and he had to agree; her delicately browned skin was paler than usual. But then, he reasoned, perhaps this has nothing to do with the ride? Those dark bags under her eyes, surely those had nothing to do with being plane sick. And she seems thinner than the last time he saw her…But he was probably just worrying himself out of nothing.

"Hmm, dizzy?" he asked.

"A bit…yes," she replied.

Nodding sympathetically, he motioned for the stewardess and instructed her to remove the wine and fetch some water. "Try sipping some, slowly. This will lessen those dizzy spells." he explained as he gave her the glass.

"I don't think I can handle that at the moment," she whispered, shaking her head.

"Drink!" he said sternly. Shooting him a resentful glance, she took the glass from him. He noticed, with alarm, that her fingers were shaking. "Are you cold?"

Theo shook her head vigorously and proceeded to drink the water. Her lips were shivering, too, he noted mentally. Come to think of it, her makeup was done as though to cover up something. But then again, maybe I'm worrying too much.

She sputtered on her drink and accidentally let go of the glass. It fell on her black skirt and she cursed incoherently. They both stood up simultaneously; she held on his sleeves for support.

"You all right?" he asked, concerned with her strangeness.

"I-I think I'll go to change."

"Let me help you—"

Theo raised a brow at him. "Help me? What am I, an invalid?"

"No—I mean, damn, you're getting it wrong—"

"No, it's all right. I am a bitch after all. I'll dress here." and with that, she proceeded to opening the zipper of her skirt.

"You're getting it wrong," he said angrily, reddening around the ears as he zipped her dress back up. Her dark eyes looked up at him defiantly, as though daring him to be savage. For a minute, he thought he would give in. Then, with a sigh, he mumbled, "Look, I was just trying to be a gentleman."

Theo closed her eyes and breathed deeply as though to master herself. Nodding her head in understanding, she answered, "I know. I apologize for my quick temper. You already have done me much good by bringing me here with you, and I cannot ask for more."

"You're doing me much good, too, just by coming," he muttered. A muscle in her jaw tightened; he was not sure if it was pleasure or irritation on her part. Probably the latter, he thought wryly. With that, he told some of the attendants to take care of her needs, and to bring him some brandy.

Resuming his seat, he moved his gaze towards the window. From his point, he marvelled at the beauty of the horizon. It has been quite a time since he went on a plane ride. In the first place, he resented vacations and travelling. However, the last time had been with Annie, a friend so close he could almost call her his sister.

But you were more than just friends…she didn't want to be sister to you. She wanted to be your lover…

He closed his eyes tightly as he willed the emotions and memories away. But they wouldn't go. Instead, his mind shifted to different scenery—one from the past…


His whole body, his breath, perhaps even his hair, was reeking of alcohol. A woman with long brown hair which trailed in front of her chest was looking up at him with a set of pleading grey eyes. She breathed rapidly through her full, naturally pink lips, as though waiting for something to happen.

"Annie, I—"

"Jeorge, don't! Please…I love you! You understand that right?" she asked, earnestly.

"Yes, I know, but—" he said slowly. The alcohol was making things blurry and fuzzy.

"Then," and quickly, she opened the buttons of her one-piece dress and allowed it to slide on the floor. For a moment, his breath was constricted on his throat as his befuddled mind studied her thoroughly. Her lingerie, he could see, was made of pink lace. Taking his hand in her small one, she made it rest on her bountiful breasts, while at the same time, unclipping the front lock of her strapless brassiere. He felt her shiver as she purposefully led his hand down to the area between her thighs. She made a step towards him, looking up at him with wide, expectant eyes. "Take me."

Shaking his head, he jerked his hand away, steeling himself against the temptation in vain. "I can't. I don't love you like that. You're like a sister to me—"

"Stop that. I don't—like hearing you say that. I love you. I've been waiting for you for years—"

"I never asked for you to do that—"

Angrily, she yanked Jeorge by the collars and pushed him towards the bed. Unresistingly, he fell on the soft futon as her fingers unbuttoned his shirt. His abs shivered in pleasure as her touch teased his skin. Triumphantly, Annie pressed her breasts against his now bare chest and whispered into his ear. "You say you don't love me, huh? You don't want me? But I want you, and your body is calling on to me. I want you—" and she bit the area between his neck hard while her hands pushed deep into his boxers, mocking and trailing him to arousal. "To fuck me, and fuck me hard."

The bridge between sanity and insanity seemed to snap in his head. He didn't know what made him roll on top of her. He couldn't remember how he removed the only remaining piece of clothing off her hips, or how he managed to wriggle off his pants. He didn't know how many times he bruised her lips and breasts with unwary kisses and suckles. He could hardly recall her brief cry as he stole her virginity, or the sensation of rapid movements against Annie in violent thrusts. Later on, he blamed it on the alcohol. Most importantly, he woke up later on, in the morning, regretting he ever touched his best friend.


He took a sharp inhale as he remembered that night. How he regretted that! It wasn't meant to happen, it wasn't supposed to happen. It wasn't right. No, it just wasn't right at all…

A slight hand waved in front of him and he started. He looked up in annoyance at a pair of keen brown ones. "You had quite a glazed expression. I thought, perhaps, that you were daydreaming."

"Quite," he replied briefly, arching a brow. In that brown silky caftan, with her hair loose and cascading around her shoulders and back, Theo looked more like the sweet and beautiful angel that he always imagined her to be. Of course, there was that time by the lake when he saw her like that. But that time, there was no sly expression hidden in her eyes. Some color was back on her cheeks, and yet he felt as though she was in no way healthier than the Theo who was sitting with him previously. She laughed lightly when he seriously inquired after her health and resumed her seat between him and the window. "You really have that strange habit."

"And what is that?"

"Well, you tend to laugh at some things that aren't too funny as though making light out of difficult situations, and—"

"Is there anything wrong with that?" and again she laughed in her usual lilting way. He couldn't decide whether she did that for good measure or only to irritate him. "I laugh because I want to. No law binds me to keeping my humour to myself. But my thoughts are my own and I daren't share—you probably won't understand."

Shaking his head, he murmured. "And now you're saying that I'm stupid."

She laughed even harder, and Jeorge flinched at the note of steel. "I was saying nothing of the sort. You were the only one who thought of such an idea. The only thing that I suggested was that you probably won't understand my thoughts. But whether or not you will understand my thoughts isn't a problem; after all, whether or not you do, I still would not share. Again, I have reasons of my own—indeed, my thoughts are my own."

"Isn't it burdensome to keep all your ideas to yourself?"

Smiling at him sympathetically, as though he were some dumb fool who needs patience and deep consolation from others, she answered, "The flight is probably making you quite as dull-witted as you deem yourself to be; of course, by speaking to you, I already am sharing some of my ideas to you. But there are always some things that I can't tell you. The reason why I can't tell you, even if I wanted to, is because you should figure it out for yourself. There are some things that can be sought in silence rather than in words."

Leaning further back into his seat, he sighed. She was confusing him, of this he was sure. And yet her words stuck to his consciousness like a gel. Thus thinking that, he voiced out for emphasis, more to himself than to her, "You're confusing me."

Theo frowned and turned her eyes back to the window. "Perhaps…perhaps you are only confusing yourself."

They both fell silent. Jeorge closed his eyes, yet in his mind's vision, he saw only the woman seated beside him. Perhaps, perhaps indeed, he has only been confusing himself. Even at this distance, he could hear her breathing…no, there was something different with these slow calculated breaths. Remembering her pale complexion while studying her, he made her look into his eyes; hers held a tinge of tired defiance and dullness. "You are ill," he murmured quite angrily, "You should have told me."

"Now that you notice it," she murmured with a slow smile, "I need not tell you."

"Earlier," and he moved his palm to her neck and to her forehead. Her skin was a burning furnace, waves of heat were emanating to such an extent that he was surprised that he had not comprehended the tell-tale signs of a disease beforehand. "You should have told me earlier."

"This is business, Mr. Gregory, and whatever impediment must be ignored—"

"To hell with business!" he seethed, the hand that was placed on her shoulder tightened yet she didn't wince. Her eyes held his coldly as though daring him again and again to hurt her. It was frightful indifference, he thought, stricken. It was a kind of indifference which bore little care for pain…because she has already endured a pain too many to care. Loosening his grip, he whispered a small apology.

"We probably should turn back," he said hesitantly.

She shook her head vigorously. "No, I think not. I can manage." Wordlessly, he stood up and left for the cockpit. With forced energy, she added, "I'd really like to stay. And I think this will pass, sooner or later." Dizzily, the woman closed her eyes and gave way to tiredness.


The armrest had been pushed back, and their connected seats were reclined into a bed. The scent of fresh cologne though intoxicating, stung her from the fever-induced sleep. Theo licked her chapped lips and groaned as she struggled to sit up. Arms, warm and comforting arms, assisted her. "Thank you."

Colors swirled before her as her eyes adjusted to the dim light. It was probably night…they haven't landed yet?

"No, not yet. Some three more hours before touch-down," the brown-eyed boy lad answered to her inquiry. "You must rest, here…drink this."

Taking one blurry look at the spoon and the glass half-filled with something red and sticky, she shuddered and shook her head. "Come on, don't be such a baby," he coaxed, patiently as though talking to a child. It irritated and slightly unnerved her. Nevertheless, she allowed herself to be spoon-fed. At first, she could hardly taste anything but by the third take, a wave of bitterness waded across her tongue and she choked up.

"You're trying—to—kill me," she said between coughs.

"Sorry, all I had on board are some paracetamols," he said apologetically as he dabbed the corners of her mouth with a napkin. His hands were warm against her and her fevered imagination brought many wild ideas to her head—of him holding, touching her comfortingly. Delirious, unwanted visions of them having heated sex—no, not just sex, making love—flashed in her head and she bit a groan. "I mashed the tablets and mixed it with the wine so that you might be able to drink it easier in liquid form."

'U—huh." Her imaginations were suddenly cut short when bile rose in her throat. She placed a hand over her mouth to prevent a spill but in vain. Fortunately, Jeorge seemed to be ready for it, as a pan was already placed before her. While his one hand assisted her, the other comfortingly ran up and down her spine while he murmured softly into her ear.

Tiredly, Theo fell back onto the bed, groaning as her limbs ached. Her eyeballs rolled sideways to him, vision flickering in and out. His mouth seemed to move but she could not make out his words. Not knowing why, she whispered out his name and fell back into black sleep.


Note: Some of you may wonder why the title of this chapter is in plural form as Theo is the only one visibly unwell. Well, in retrospect, she isn't the only one ill; Jeorge is, too.