"So you're just going to stand there and drool over Heather getting out of her car and walking toward the school."
I, Samantha Gates, rolled my eyes. Ivan Rose – my best friend – doesn't understand what being a fan girl is all about.
"Heather is HEATHER, Ivan. Can't you see how exceptionally pretty she is?" I said, not letting my sight off of the gorgeous co-senior. And then I sighed, wishing I had the same smooth, silky dark brown locks, dazzling smile and a remarkable fashion sense that Heather is so popular for at the campus.
"Sam, don't tell me you're taking the lesbian route because of Heather?"
And that's when I darted a bewildered look at Ivan. How in the world could he surmise I was going lesbo on her? Although a little afterwards, I lightly chuckled, giving myself a mental proud pat on my shoulder for having good taste.
Then again, I am not a lesbian.
"Is it a sin to admire beauty when you see one?" I asked him before going back to staring at Heather, who by now, Ivan and I started trailing a little closely on her way to the hallway, to her locker perhaps.
I think I may have heard Ivan mutter to himself, "geez, if you want to see beauty, all you had to do is look at the mirror."
But I could be wrong. Besides, there's no way he could mean that I'm pretty, right?
"Hey, how come you don't look all excited about Heather?" I asked Ivan interestingly. "She's undoubtedly right up your alley. You're both good-looking, talented, and popular people. I think you'd make a perfect couple. I'd totally ship your pairing. Like totally!"
I was giggling with excitement when the instant picture of Heather and Ivan being so romantically sweet with each other appeared in my head. Too bad, the excitement rapidly wore off when Ivan replied with, "she's not my type."
My jaw dropped to the ground when he said that. And I'd bet all my savings in my piggy bank that anyone who've heard him would have the same reaction as I had.
How dare him say "she's not my type" like he really meant it! What the heck his type was? There's no hot girl in the campus as hot as Heather. She's even way more gorgeous than Megan Fox and Scarlett Johansson combined!
Oh, of course, there's only one way to explain his statement.
"You're gay?" I whispered, cautious and wishful that no one had heard what I just said. Oh gosh, I can just imagine the damage in his reputation as a high school basketball superstar if rumors get around that he's a homosexual.
Not that I really mind if Ivan is gay. He's my best friend, and I earnestly love and accept him for who he is and whatever sexual preference he chooses.
Then again, Ivan may not be gay after all, especially in seeing that heated, questioning glare that I received from him upon making the BIG question.
"WHAT?" He kind of hollered, and I slightly cringed in fright.
"Well, sorry if I can't find any other rationale why you wouldn't like Heather," I defended.
"Sam, she's just not my type, okay? And YOU of all people should know that! Geez!"
Ivan brashly walked away, leaving a stunned me behind.
Before the entire classes for the day ended, the weekly Dispatch—the school's newspaper—was released. I grabbed myself a copy because Ivan was featured in one of the articles and he practically begged me the past few days to read it once it comes out. I have no idea why he was begging. I mean, even if he won't tell me, I'd still read the freaking article.
Anyway, I walked home by myself as my usual companion, Ivan, had basketball practice that day. When I got to my house, I ran straight to my room and sprawled on my bed, feeling so exhausted from the walk.
Then my cell phone rang.
It was Ivan.
"Yo," I greeted.
"Yo," he greeted back. "Are you home already?"
"Yep," I replied, blowing air at the same time.
"I'm sorry for walking out on you earlier."
I chuckled. Did he call me just to say that? "You've already apologized so many times, Ivan, and I've already forgiven you so many times as well."
"I just feel really bad," he groaned. "I shouldn't have done that to you."
It wondered me why Ivan was extremely bothered with walking out on me. It wasn't like it ruptured our friendship to pieces—let alone put a crack on it. I wasn't that shallow. "Hey, it's okay. Stop feeling bad, okay?"
"So we're cool?"
"Cool as ice."
"So...have you read the article about me already?"
"No, not yet. But I will, don't worry. Now go back to your practice if you don't want Coach Tom to scream at you like an old cranky lady spinster."
"Hahaha! Yeah, yeah. Bye!"
After the call, I sat up on my bed and reached out for the Dispatch folded and tucked at the back of my pants. Without much ado, I quickly turned to the page where Ivan's article was contained.
As I read the piece of writing however, I began to feel bored. Maybe because virtually everything that was written there were information that I already knew of—his favorite movies, favorite music, his dreams of pursuing an NBA career in the future.
Deeming that I was frittering away my time by reading the article, I decided to give up on it. Not until my eyes narrowed on the section about Ivan's love life. And it intrigued me to a large measure because it was something that he doesn't normally bring up in our conversations. I could always try to disinter that from him but he ultimately opts to ignore my attempts by changing the topic.
I went on with reading, hoping that through this article, I'll be able to find out about the romance part of my best friend's life.
According to Rose, he doesn't have a girlfriend at the moment. The basketball point guard doesn't deny however that he is very much in love right now. For some reason though, he elects to keep mum about the identity of the girl. I tried to squeeze a hint out of him, and luckily I got one. With glistening eyes, Rose said, "she chose the number on my jersey for me."
I choked. From my own saliva, that is.
Because Ivan—holy mother of all crap—was talking about me.
Later that night, I tried to get rid of the article in my head by burying my nose on my school assignments.
There was no freaking way on earth, heaven and hell that someone like Ivan would fall for someone like me! Besides! For crying out loud, we're best friends! "Falling in love" is a complete no-no! According to the best friends rule book: Number 1, neither one of you must fall in love with each other.
Being engrossed in studying was proving to be effective. But I guess not until that moment when Ivan unexpectedly turned up on my bedroom through the open terrace, causing me to suddenly revive in my brain the exact words, "she chose the number on my jersey for me,"with thatnumber being "1" simply because that was MY favorite number.
I know I shouldn't have felt even just a pinch of alarm upon the sight of Ivan getting all comfy in my room. My God, Sam, he's been doing that for two years. Get a grip of yourself.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," he said as he slumped sturdily beside me on my bed.
"Uhh...what are you doing here, Ivan?" I asked, budging my eyes away from him, suddenly feeling something I've never felt when I was this way near him. Awkwardness.
"You're tutoring me in Calculus, remember?"
A narrow smile spread across my face. How the heck could have I forgotten that? Geez.
"You know what, for a change, let's hold our tutorial session downstairs," I suggested in a huge jolly grin—which for the most part was actually fake—and without waiting for his reply, whether he agrees to my proposal or not, I scrambled to collect my notes and books, held them on to my chest and started walking to the door. "I'll see you at the living room, alright?"
I heavily breathed in and breathed out. With the article I just read from Dispatch, I don't think my bedroom is a really nice place to be tutoring Ivan.
Oh God, why did I ever read that article? Why? I shouldn't have! Now I can't even look straight into his eyes. Damn it!
"You're acting pretty weird, Sam," Ivan suspiciously said a few minutes later. By this time, we were on the floor, our backs against the edge of the sofa and our notes tousled on the center table in front of us.
I cropped up my fake jolly grin again, responded with, "what's new—I'm weird like this," and then punched him hard on his arm. Yeah, HARD. I just want to blight him for—I don't know—falling in love with me...?
Oh my goodness, just the thought of that made my stomach turn upside down. I wanted to vomit, albeit there was nothing to vomit.
Anyway, I thought I could hurt Ivan with that supposedly "hard" punch of mine, but as it turned out, I was the one who bawled in pain.
"My knuckles! Ow! Ow!" I carefully held my hand, protecting it from anything that would further exacerbate the agony.
At that moment of my suffering, Ivan was sniggering, which honestly quite irritated me. So despite my aggrieved countenance, I managed to dart him a really infuriated look even just for a really few seconds.
Ivan rolled his eyes, scooted a little closer to me, and reached out his hand. "Let me take a look."
Nervousness instantly streamed in every vein of my body, causing me to stare at his eyes, then to his hand, and then back to his eyes, then back to his hand—and that went on like forever, until Ivan abruptly grabbed my aching hand.
"Geez! You might want to be careful!" I couldn't help but shout at him.
Ivan didn't reply to that however. Instead, he moved on to massaging my knuckles tenderly—which I found to be undeniably AWKWARD—which I shouldn't, considering the fact that he had touched and held my hand for more than a hundred times in the past. But the sensation of his fingertips felt strangely nice—for the lack of better word—that notwithstanding the awkwardness I wasn't able to remove it away from his delicate grip.
"You have the most fragile hands I've ever known," Ivan suddenly murmured, his voice was soft and pleasing to hear.
But when those words ultimately made its way to my understanding, like a bunch of trucks honking loudly to my ear, I snapped back to my senses, causing me to briskly snatch my hand away from him. In any case, it was feeling better already.
"My hands are not fragile," I refuted defensively. "Your muscles are just...that hard!"
Ivan merely laughed. "So...have you read the article?"
Oh God, why did he have to bring that up now? Fate, why you must throw me with an awkward topic just right after an awkward situation?
"No," I lied, shifting my attention to my notes in an attempt to keep my composure looking intact.
"I thought you said you will."
"Well...I'll—I'll read it later, Ivan."
"Why don't you read it now." It was more of an order rather than a question.
And to reinforce that order, Ivan fished a folded page of Dispatch from the pocket of his jeans, unfurled it and placed it on the center table directly in front of me.
I hesitated for a while. And in deeming that lying wouldn't either way get me out of this predicament, I opted to finally say the truth. "Fine! I've read it already!"
Ivan raised his eyebrows, seemingly waiting for me to say something. My opinion regarding the article, perhaps.
And that's exactly what I've graced him with. Well, for the most part, they're lies—again. But who said opinions are only confined to the truth. "Wow, I didn't know Heather chose the number on your jersey for you! I knew it! I knew you were just trippin' when you said she's not your type, but she is! Ohmigod, I'm so excited! You know what I'm planning to do? I'm going to write a fan fiction for the both of you! And I'm going to give it to the Dispatch team so they can have it posted at the school newspaper! What do you think?"
Ivan didn't reply. He just stared at me with complete seriousness etched on his face. I felt really anxious but I tried not to show it.
"I'm in love with you, Sam." His voice was, again, soft and pleasant as he said those words. Those words that never in my life had I expected and will be expecting from him to slip out of his mouth.
I quickly stood from the floor, anxiety now taking over and squashing my sensibility. "Uhm...wow! Look at me, what kind of a freaking host am I? I—I didn't even offer you something to eat or drink. Wait here, okay, let me go get you something from the kitchen."
I started walking off at a really swift and uneasy pace but Ivan's call for my name had halted me from moving any further.
I spun around to face him. He was now up on his feet, seemingly trying to follow me. "No, Ivan. Stay. Right. There."
I don't think I could handle him—or myself—if he gets any closer than he is to me right now, especially when he just voiced out his feelings for me.
"You don't have to get me anything, Sam." He sighed. "I'd leave...just...please listen to what I have to say."
For a few silent seconds we remained at our spots quite a few inches away from each other. With him, probably collecting his thoughts, and me, preparing myself for what he was about to tell me more. And I may not know why, but the notion of what his speech would entail of scared and thrilled me at the same time.
"You have no idea how much I've argued with myself as to whether or not I'd tell you of my feelings," Ivan began. "But this part of me, wanting to scream words of how much you make my heart skip a beat every single time I see you had obviously won me over."
He went on. "I know...I know this confession may break our friendship apart. But I don't care. I am desperate, Sam—I am desperate for you to give us a chance...to give yourself the chance to take a huge risk with me...in allowing us to become...become more than just friends."
"Ivan..." I uttered his name with a tiny tweak of exasperation in my voice. "You do realize that I am not as pretty as Heather..."
"God, Sam. Stop that. Seriously." Ivan walked slowly toward me. When he reached me, in a solemn voice, he added, "There's only one girl I know who's extremely smokin' HOT...and she's here...standing right in front of me." He caressed my jaw line with his thumb, making my body get all tingly with satisfaction. Then he gently took my hands, enclosing them with the warmth of his fingers and palms. "And you know what else? I'M. DAMN. CRAZY. ABOUT. HER. And that there's nothing I want more than to hold her in my arms right now, earnestly hoping to hear her say she loves me, too."
I bit my lower lip, trying to suppress a smile from shaping because of that remarkably sweet speech.
"Maybe she will say she loves you, too if you start holding her in your arms. Now."
And with that, Ivan, apparently beaming with joy, hugged me. I kind of waited for a while though before uttering the so-called three magic words. I guess I just needed to sink in me that he, this high school basketball superstar, whose arms wrapped around me is genuinely in love with me. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not trying to be vain. In fact, what I do feel is that I'm not worthy for him. That the role I'll only get to play in his life is a mere best friend.
But I also can't deny the feeling of sheer security and absolute rapture in being draped with his strong arms at this very moment. Sure, I've hugged him so many times before, but this—this is different. It felt so heavenly and amazing I just wanted it to keep going and going.
"My heart is pounding so hard and fast, Ivan," I muttered, awe dripping in my tone.
"I know, Sam, I can feel its every beat."
I broke off from our hug, although the nearness was still there, and looked straight into his eyes.
Then, in a threatening voice I said, "If this won't work out and our friendship gets shattered, I swear I'm going to kill you."
Ivan flung his head to the back as he gave off a fit of laugh. "What, with these fragile hands?" He took them and softly kissed the back of my hands, one after another.
And I could hardly answer, let alone breathe, for the life of me!
Ivan impishly smiled before shifting his hands at my lower back and pulled me much closer to him, leaning his head forward until our lips were notably just a really few millimeters apart.
"But you're already killing me, Sam..." he mumbled before bestowing me with a slow, gentle and delightful kiss. "I love you."
"I love you, too."