I'd Do Anything For YouA Chapter by Cdeguzman
Ever since eating out at Omakase with Celia, Vince rarely let a day pass without calling her up for a coffee break. He said that he knew how she must be sick of milk tea by now, but never commented whenever she ordered a Chai Tea Latte and a slice of cheesecake.
“Creature of habit,” Vince echoed, smiling behind his coffee cup. “I like that. Everyone needs a little constancy in their life.”
Meanwhile, Shereen and Max were doing a lot of catching up. With her in temporary vacation and him working from his desk, the two found that Skyping all day was a lot cheaper and just as fun as hanging out. She would bug him while he pretended to be working, and the both of them would just talk all day, from the smallest things (like why leftover fish was always the worst) and the deepest things (why couldn’t Shereen just get over his momentary lapse of judgement?) It was a wonderful escape for him. She understood him better than anyone he’d ever met, simply because she was so much like him. Which was also why he was never going to tell her about Celia.
“Are those curtains on the mirror?” Shereen asked, indicating the spot behind Max’s head on the screen. He turned around and saw them as well. “That’s a married thing, isn’t it?”
“Chad chad, chaddy chad chad,” Celia was singing in a loud voice, obviously relishing in the fact that she and Max were the only two people in the house. That, and she was due for her post-production meeting with Vince the next day, where he promised that they would go out for Korean food. She’d never been this excited about anything since...since getting married, really.
“Celia’s there?” Shereen asked, which made Celia pause and look over at Max’s desk. Her husband gave her a look that said ‘good going, genius’ as Shereen peered closely at the screen to see if it was really her.
“Heeyyyy Shereen,” Celia said, coming over to wave at her friend from the webcam.
“Okay, now I’m hurt. Max said he didn’t want me to come over with milk tea because he was ‘busy,” Shereen matched that last word with air quotes, rolling her eyes and making Celia laugh.
All three of them suddenly turned their heads when Celia’s phone rang in her purse, which she had tossed haphazardly on the bed.
“That’s Vince,” She said a little too enthusiastically. “We still on for dinner and shopping, Shereen?”
About an hour later, Mae came home from a shopping excursion from Makati in high spirits. Most of everything was on sale, so she decided to get a little something for the entire family. New Italian leather shoes for her husband Greg, a pair of sunglasses from Aldo for Liz, a nice messenger bag for Liz’ husband Aiden, soft toys for Liz’s kids, a nice new Lacoste shirt for Max and a pretty dress that she thought would suit Celia very well. These were nothing compared to the things she bought for herself.
Giggling, Mae walked to the living room to the sound of someone giggling as well. She turned and spotted Celia sitting by the window, looking out and speaking to someone in dulcet tones. She looked like she was in love, her cheeks flushed, her toes wiggling. Was she talking to Max?
Trying to go unnoticed by her, Mae went upstairs to the master bedroom, where she heard laughter drifting into the hallway. Turning her head, she realized that the laughter was coming from Max’s room. Edging closer to the open door, she heard Max telling Shereen to shut the f**k up but still continuing to laugh. Pausing, Mae turned around and felt confused. What in the world was going on with those two? When she was watching them at home, they always seemed so...polite to each other. Max usually went out of his way to give Celia what she thought she wanted, and it was so unlike him. Celia, Anton and Shereen had come to the house for sleepovers before, and she’d spied on them enough times to know that the way those two were acting right now wasn’t how they usually acted. She’d seen Max literally throw himself over Celia, and she would give him nothing but a laugh in response. But here, they were cautious, almost tiptoeing around each other.
Mae decided to take matters into her own hands and talk to her son. When Max finally said goodbye to Shereen, she went to his room and showed him his new shirt. She persuaded him to try it on, despite his protests.
“Well Mom?” Max asked, showing off the new shirt as he emerged from the bathroom. Mae clapped happily. “That shirt matches the dress I got Celia.”
“Yes I did,” his mother said, taking the shirt and folding it up nicely, placing it on the bed next to the dress she’d bought for her daughter-in-law. “I thought it would look nice on Sunday when we go out for lunch with Liz and Aiden.”
“What’s wrong, anak?” Mae asked, using the Filipino word without really thinking about it. Max sat back up straight and shook his head, like he didn’t want to talk about it. But of course, Mae knew her son better than that, so she simply crossed her legs and waited for Max to talk.
“It’s just a little weird,” he said. “How do you go from someone being your friend to making them your...wife? Celia and I have known each other forever, and still I find myself being so guarded around her. I never had anyone so...close to me before.”
He had chosen his words carefully, speaking slowly as if he was hesitant of what he was telling her.
“Haaaay,” Mae sighed, patting her son’s leg. “I don’t think I can say anything that will magically solve your problems. Let your heart lead the way. You’re so cute when you’re confused!” She pinched her son’s cheek.
“Just open up to her, Maxwell. It will be okay,” she assured him, kissing his cheek and leaving the room. Max watched the door close behind his mother and sighed. As always, she was right. He turned to his computer and tried to finish up his work. Something had to be done. If he was going to stick this out, he had to stop being a complete idiot.
The thought of actually doing something made his heart pound in his chest. What was that?
Later that evening, Celia emerged from the bathroom in her usual cardigan and pajamas, her teeth freshly brushed and her hair cascading in freshly dried strands over her shoulders. Max was using his laptop while lying in bed, discreetly watching her as she went through her usual nightly routine, rubbing something on her face, fluffing her hair a bit before going over the couch to arrange her pillow and blanket. There was that heartbeat again.
“Uh...Celia?” Max said and she turned her head towards him. “You want to sleep here on the bed with me?”
The both of them blinked at each other for what seemed like forever. Max suddenly felt a lot more vulnerable to her than he had wanted. His entire happiness was based on her answer, and it killed him that she wasn’t saying anything.
“Sure,” Celia said with a smile, picking up the pillow from the head of the couch and taking the other side of the bed, sliding under the covers and turning away from him. Max paused and put away his laptop, looking at her hesitantly.
“Are you asleep?” Max asked her.
“Not really,” Celia answered, turning around to face him. He was still sitting up, and all she could see were his eyes trying to reach out to her. “Not sleepy?”
“No,” he said, finally turning to her. He removed the pillows between them. “I need you.”
There was a kind of intensity in the way he said that, like there was nothing she could do to push him away. He was almost forceful, and in some misconstrued way, passionate. Celia had missed the comfort and the human contact. He then proceeded to wrap his arms around her, closing his eyes. He pulled her towards him, wanting her to stay. He didn’t miss Celia’s gasp of surprise, her breathing eventually evening out as she got comfortable.
The next day, Max came home to find Celia lying on his side of the bed, staring intently at her laptop screen. He laughed as he heard the sounds of Korean voices speaking in slow, dramatic tones. Without hesitation, he hopped into the bed next to her while she ignored him. He placed his head on her shoulder, snuggling a little like he wanted attention. Addie was on Celia’s other side, and she was scratching behind the puppy’s ear absentmindedly. The puppy was getting more attention than him.
Max laughed as he turned to the screen. Celia sighed and eventually told him the story of the show, how the main character was forced into a marriage with the Crown Prince, et cetera, et cetera. Max scoffed as the drama continued to unfold in front of them in full HD.
“Sounds pretty irrelevant,” he said.
“Not really,” Celia told him. “The prince actually reminds me a lot of you. You can’t tell if he’s a cold hearted b*****d or a nice, sweet guy. He always does little things to make the princess feel better, but he covers it up with a snide remark or a harsh word.”
They watched the show together every night after that. Max never failed to give his own commentary, with Celia getting frustrated and rewinding some parts when he was driving her crazy. She never really noticed that Max eventually got engrossed in the story too, encouraging her to watch the next episode, then the next, then the next.
Celia came home the next day in an infuriated mood. The photos Vince shot were still in post-production with the IT department, he had tried everything, he said, but they were still not up to his standard of presentable. They had to reschedule their meeting to Monday, since it was already Friday. This delay ensured bigger problems for Celia, as she was already on full load the next week. Plus, she had just passed by the store to check up on it when she was informed that the barista who had been gone for more than a week without notice was back. At least two other people had to work double shifts because of him, plus Celia had just given the guy an advance on his salary before he was incommunicado. She had to fire him, and she hated firing people. It always made her feel like a total b***h even if it wasn’t really her fault.
Closing the door behind her, Celia was about to collapse on the bed when she saw that Max was at his desktop, working on another design for a client. She was just about to rant to him when he screamed, swore and threw a book at the floor. She noticed that his computer desk was cluttered with milk tea cups, food wrappers and empty plates.
“F*****g cockroach!” He yelled, pulling his feet up to his swivel chair. "Somebody f*****g kill it! Holy s**t, it's coming toward me!"
She turned her attention to the floor, where a lone cockroach was slowly making its way towards Max's messy desk. Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Celia pulled her slipper from her left foot, slowly approaching the offending creature. In one fell swoop, she killed the insect with a loud SLAP! against the floor, making Max jump in surprise.
"You know, the cockroach probably came out because of this mess," Celia pointed out, cleaning up the body on the floor and the mess of food on Max's desk. He actually rolled his eyes and stood from his desk so Celia could easily clean up after him. "Well, I am stress eating again. Can't the stupid cockroach understand that I am two days behind this deadline for a client, my computer is being f*****g slow because it's full of other s**t and I haven't been to the f*****g store in a week! Then you're cleaning up my desk even if I never asked you to. "
He sat on the bed, running both hands through his hair, like he wanted to pull it out. Celia watched him, remembering so much the way he looked the night they decided to get married. All her frustrations over work, the store, him...they all seemed to melt away at the sight of her husband's tired form. She never truly understood her own inclinations to help the ones who asked help from her. Max would call her a pushover, but helping others made her happy. It made her feel wanted, like there was still something she could do for others. He was no exception.
"Get your keys," she said, tossing a pair of shorts his way. "We're going out."
Going out turned out to be a stop at a not too distant Seven Eleven for two of Max's favorite ice cream bars, Almond Magnums. He even bought an entire case, to be stored at home. Celia pointed out that at least milk tea still had tea in it. Max argued that almonds were good for you, and she left it at that. They were back in the car when she told him to stop in front of a wall covered on ivy. Celia got down from the car and looked at the structure behind the wall.
"Did I ever tell you that I used to study here?" she asked, turning her head to the entrance gate, which proudly displayed the school's name. The Therese School for girls was a popular Catholic school for parents who didn't want to spend too much, but wanted a good, private school education for their daughters. Celia spent eleven years of her life in Therese, and it was a little funny to her that the school she had tried so hard to run away from was only a few minutes away from where she lived now.
"Seriously? Quick, tell me about all the lesbians that went there," Max said, smiling devilishly as Celia grabbed the vines with her bare hands. Then, without a word, she pulled herself up, climbing the vines to get to the top of the relatively low wall.
"Who said I wasn't a lesbian when I was here?" she teased, giggling as Max looked up at her in surprise and some awe.
"Are you crazy? Get down before someone sees you!" He exclaimed, pushing the thought of his wife as a lesbian out of his head.
"At one am? Please. Come after me if you're not chicken," she said, giving him a flirty wink before hopping down to the other side of the wall, her feet landing on the soft dewy grass. Mumbling to himself, Max rolled his eyes, grabbed a vine, and followed suit, although he was less graceful as Celia had been. He nearly tumbled to the floor on that last jump, managing to regain his balance before his face hit the grass.
"Huy, hurry it up, hubby!" Celia called a few feet in front of him as she was already walking ahead. Max paused and took stock of where he was. He was in a quadrangle, a large lawn surrounded by the butter yellow school building, the school's name and seal right across him at the high point of the sprawling building. He was standing just by a massive clearing amidst gigantic acacia trees and tall triangles of Indian mango trees that swayed with the evening winds. He could see a flagpole a bit farther away, and Celia standing in the middle of it all. Her arms were out and she spun a little, laughing at herself before taking a deep breath and smiling. He joined her as she sat on the grass, looking up at the sky.
"It's exactly like I remember it," she told him, taking a deep breath. "The smell of the trees and the old books, everything is exactly the same."
"What are we doing here?" Max asked, frowning as he looked at the wall that was already farther away from them than he had wanted.
"I wanted to share this place with you," Celia told him, looking up at the sky. "I used to sit in this spot as a kid, and I promised myself that I would lie on the grass and look up at the stars one day."
Then, without another word, Celia Sales nee Benidy lay on the grassy lawn and looked up at the stars. With nothing else to do, Max followed suit. He briefly wondered how this was supposed to make him feel better.
Then, there it was. A twinkle. Suddenly, he could see a thousand stars dancing right above him. Was it real? Was he just really lying in the grass of some school in Binondo? Everything he had been worried about, everything he was thinking seemed to melt away, vanish in a sky full of stars. Weight seemed to lift off his chest as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was beautiful.
The two of them stayed like that for a while, talking as they lay under the stars. Max was trying to get Celia to admit to having a lesbian relationship in high school, while she tried to evade the subject by pointing out possible constellations. In the end, they talked about relationships they almost had, or the ones that got away.
"Everyone thought we would end up together, so I entertained the possibility in my head a few times," Max said, realizing that this is probably the most open he had ever been to Celia. He admitted that he was always so guarded around her, even when he was smushing his face into her arm or sleeping on her back. He wasn't quite sure why.
"And?" Celia asked almost excitedly.
"Shereen's just my best friend," Max shrugged. "We're too much alike to really be anything. I know too much of her s**t to still want to have a relationship with her. At least with you, there's still some mystery involved."
"Mystery," Celia repeated, chuckling slightly. "Nice."
They talked all the way to two am, until finally Celia remembered that Vince's shoot in Felicitea was early that day. So the two climbed the ivy wall, rode the car and came back home together. Max was just about to close his eyes when Celia turned and faced him in her sleep, her toes touching his. Then behind closed eyes, she took Max's hand, the one that was on the pillow. Up until this day, Max swears that she saw her smiling.
© 2012 Cdeguzman
Added on April 26, 2012
Last Updated on April 26, 2012
Milk Teas and Heart Beats
AboutAn amateur writer reading up on Robert's Rules on Writing. Rule number one: burn your journal. more..