JaeVon FanFic Chapters 18-19
James wandered into the pool area after searching everywhere else, not really expecting to find Devon there, but there she was. Sitting at the edge of the pool, staring down at her feet in the water. James held his breath, savoring the moment as he watched the lights reflecting from the ripples on the water dance on Devon's face.
This was yet another repeat occurrence of the same thing under different circumstances.
The first time was when he first saw Devon in a new light back at the PBB House. Before that moment, Devon was just another housemate. Someone to fool around with, someone to annoy... Bless the fuse box that died and turned off all the lights save for the ones in the pool itself. Everyone else went inside where it was lit, and James noticed Devon wasn't with them. He stepped back out by the pool to check on her and saw her sitting at the far end of the pool, toying with the water with her feet. She was staring absently as ripples of refracted light danced on her face. James took a moment to watch, before he called her out of her reverie.
This time was very much the same, but different in the way that this when he's decided what Devon was to him. They were no longer “trapped” in a house-full of strangers and he was free to make a choice for himself, and not for the cameras, not for Big Brother, not for the watching Republic of the Philippines. He cracked a smile then, remembering every moment he had with Devon in the past year. They have all been tainted with confusion and misconceptions, but they still shone brightly in his mind's eye. The times when her eyes shone whenever somebody greeted her were vividly remembered. And just then, as his mind wandered the meandering roads of his memories, James appreciated all the quiet moments like this one that came to pass. The long rides in the coaster where they sat side by side and ignored each other, the times they all ate as a group and Devon passed him a drink, or cutlery, or a plate of food, the times when they were all forced by Ann to see a movie together and Devon would be conned into saying yes only to fall asleep on his shoulder from exhaustion, they all became beautiful snippets of a life shared by two unaware people. He might have been irritated at the time... But looking back...
By some sheer connivance of the gang, James and Devon were seated next to each other. James noticed from the corner of his eye that Devon's couldn't concentrate on the movie. Her head kept nodding off, and she would force herself awake every now and then.
'Why'd she bother coming if she was just gonna sleep through the whole thing?' James thought, as he deliberately shoved Devon's arm off of the arm rest. Devon raised her head up and continued to struggle to stay awake. 'She just wasted Ann's money on the ticket.' James continued to mentally berate his seatmate as he watched her nod off again and again. After a little while, she was really out. No more nodding off, her head was just awkwardly kinked off to the side as she dozed off. 'What the heck! Tomorrow, she's gonna complain that her neck was stiff and get all whiny and extra annoying.' he thought, and so – he craned her neck over towards him and leaned her head on his shoulder while he grumbled and complained to himself.
...he realized he was a fool. He fought it so hard, he had been miserable and he didn't even realize it.
James was standing there leaning against a pillar, lost in his own thoughts, when Devon noticed he was there. She looked up at him and was surprised to remember the PBB house, though in reality those times already feel like such a lifetime ago. Devon felt her cheeks burn as he watched one corner of James' mouth curl up in one of his secret smiles. The kind he smiles when a pleasant thought crossed his mind, and Devon couldn't help but wonder if he was at all thinking of her.
'Goodluck na lang sayo. Asa ka pa.' she sassed internally. “Huy.” she called out casually, and James was dragged back into reality.
“Hey.” he said, and Devon's heart skipped a beat or five.
“Anong ginagawa mo dito?”
“It got a bit much out there... You know.” he lied casually. Thank you, acting workshops! “What are you doing here?”
“Thinking.” she answered, after a pause. “Just thinking about stuff.”
“Anong stuff?” James asked as he walked towards her.
“Anong 'Anong stuff' ka diyan?” she laughed. “May pa-ano ano ka nang alam ha. Lumelevel-up ka ha.”
“Joric's been teaching me some. I think I'm learning more from him than from my teacher cause I see him and the gang so much.” he shared, and they laughed together, knowing it had been an old in-joke. Soon, the laughter died down.
They were like that, awkward and quiet for a moment. James standing by Devon as Devon stared at her feet in the water. Eventually James sat by her and dunked his feet in the water too. Devon raised her head as her breath hitched at her throat.
“Relax. I won't bite.” he joked. “I don't want to fight, okay? And I promise not to push you in.” he added solemnly. Willing everything to fall into place, wishing this will not turn into another fight.
Devon looked down in guilt. She was not thinking about that at all. She was just overwhelmed by her racing heart and his effect on her. She willed herself to be more composed but felt otherwise, as James, his eyes glimmering with the refracted light, mesmerized her.
James sighed as he readied himself to leave.
“I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable. I can leave.”
“No, it's not that.” Devon said quietly. “I'm sorry. I don't mean to be rude.” she laughed.
“Rude ba ako?”
“'Di no!” James answered in that way Ivan used to do, and they both laughed together.
The year-long ice age was broken, as they sat side by side. Content with each other's company.
“James, what the hell. It's freaking 6 AM!” angal ni Bret sa pag-gising sa kanya ng kaibigan. “What are you on, man?” tanong nito sa kaibigang ala ipu-ipo sa kakadampot ng mga gamit na ineempake nito. Pupungaspungas pang bumangon ng bahagya si Bret.
“I have to take care of some things. I need a dress.” tulirong sagot ni James.
“You need a dress.” Bret repeated dryly. “Wait, what?”
“I also have several appointments to make today. You have to take the coaster with everyone cause I gotta go now.”
“James, it's early, I haven't had my coffee, and you're acting crazy.” Bret narrated as James paused with a shirt in his hands.
“Okay. Here's what I got. You're leaving at this ungodly hour.” James tried to speak but Bret hushed him with a gesture. “And I have to take the coaster with the gang... That's fine. Also you're acting like a tazmanian devil, and I'm not sure if I heard this one right - YOU need a dress.”
James paused and stared at his friend for a moment. “Good. You were paying attention.” He stuffed another shirt in his bag. “I was worried you weren't quite awake yet.” he added cooly.
Bret had a royal facepalm moment before he finally scrambled to his feet with a confused expression. “Coffee... I need coffee. And you, my friend, are giving me a headache.”
“Huy naman! Devs! Bat dito ka natulog? Akala ko naman, eh nasa beach ka lang kasama nina Ate Shey, tapos pag-daan ko dito, bigla nalang kitang nakita! Akala ko naman nag eemote-emote ka, pero hinde! Sleeping beauty pala ang drama mo.”
“Ha?” Devon answered. Pupungas-pungas pa ito habang bumabangon. “Ow.” anang dalaga cupping a palm to her side while the other rubbed at her eyes.
“Yan kasi. Why'd you sleep out here ba? Yan tuloy. Masakit likod mo 'no? Eh kasalanan mo rin naman yan, girl.” Tuloy ang talak ni Kyra habang bahagyang hinahaplos ang mga balikat at likod ng kaibigan. “I packed na your things.”
“Ha?” Devon said groggily.
“Eh sinama ko lang naman sa bag mo yung toiletry kit mo.” paliwanag ni Kyra. “Halos hindi rin naman nagalaw ang bag mo eh. Aalis na daw tayo in two hours...”
“Wait.” hiling ni Devon habang unti-unting bumabalik sa huwisyo ang sarili.
“Eh, sorry na kung nangialam ako. Akala ko naman ok lang sayo eh.”
“Huy! Owver ka naman. Sobrang big deal na ba sayo na nilagay ko sa bag mo yung ano? Nakakaloka ka ha. Nagpapasorry na kaya ako.”
“Hindi ako galit sa'yo. Relax. Wait lang...” pakiusap ni Devon habang unti-unting nagigising. Magaan ang pakiramdam niya. It was as though nabunutan siya ng isang malaking tinik sa dibdib. Napasarap yata ang tulog niya, at pati sa paggising ay dala niya ang kakaibang comfort na ito. “Uuwi na tayo?” she asked as she craned her neck absently as if searching for a certain something or someone, pero di siya sigurado kung sino o ano, at saka pa lamang niya naisip na baka magandang panaginip ang dahilan ng kanyang magandang mood. Kagabi kasi... ano nga ba naman ang nangyari kagabi?
Si James! Devon jumped to her feet, nang naulirat and turned here and there in search for the man, who was obviously not there with her.
“Eh ano pa nga ba? E Wednesday na po. Dapat nga kaninang umaga pa tayo nakaalis dito. Buti nalang mabait yung management pinayagan tayong mag extend hanggang PM.” simpleng sagot ni Kyra na walang kamalay-malay sa inaasal ng kaibigan. “Let's go!” aya nito at niyakag na ang kaibigan sa braso. Sumunod lang si Devon sa pag-akay sa kanya ng kaibigan, inaalala parin ang magandang panaginip na parang totoo.
“Devs, naiwan mo.” pasimpleng binalikan ni Kyra ang recliner at dinampot ang isang hoodie. Nang makita ito ni Devon, ay nanlaki ang kanyang mga mata.
Hindi lang basta panaginip ang dahilan ng warmth na nararamdaman niya.
Magkasama sila kagabi at walang iringan o away na nangyari. At tuluyan nang nagising ang dalaga the moment na dumampi sa kanyang mga kamay ang malambot na tela ng hoodie ni James. Ang hoodie na ipinatong ng binata sa mga balikat niya kagabi. Ang hoodie of peace, ika nga ng binata dahil bati na daw sila.
There was a flurry of activity and last minute to-dos before the gang finally managed to start packing up completely to leave. It was already dusk by the time they were all ready to shove out, and Devon was not able to go searching for James all day. While loading up on the coaster, she noticed that James car was not in the lot, and Bret was riding back to the real world with them.
She whipped out her phone, and turned it on for the first time in days. 10 Unread Messages, most were forwarded messages, except for a couple from her mother reminding her to take care of herself. She smiled at this before clicking on the new message icon.
Her fingers hesitated before typing James at the To: section, and then again before clicking on James Reid from the list of contacts named James. She clicked the message box and stared at the blinking cursor as her mind held no prisoners. She was still deliberating what to send when she overheard Fretzie ask Bret where James was. Bret answered that James left really early for appointments before they moved on to a new subject, and Devon retreated back to the subject at hand. Her phone, and the wanton message of extreme difficulty.
James stared at his phone for the nth time before he willed himself not to bother Devon. Things were good between them for once, and the last thing he wanted to happen was for her to feel overwhelmed. He would reduce the probability of that if he could at all help it. But this whole thing has been such a challenge. This whole giving her space effort has proven to be such trying times because he was so miserable, like a two bit coke-whore deprived of her drug of choice, because he missed her. He missed her so much it was pitiful. 15 hours and counting of this misery – and already he was wondering how he could deal with the overwhelming need to see her. He fully realizes that he was acting like a complete lunatic, but the floodgates have been opened and there was no turning back for him. All the repression he's enforced for the past year came in hordes to haunt him. He might just go completely and utterly, figuratively, and medically insane from the sheer amount of catching-up he felt he needed to do. But he revelled in it come hell or high water, he sees in his mind's eye what he envisions would lie ahead for them. !9 years old, and he has never been so sure about anything in his life before this one thing. This one girl. Devon. His resolve was reinforced by his all encompassing love.
He left his phone on the table and walked to his favorite chair smiling to himself and feeling like a fool. Sitting there for but a moment, his phone went off. And James, well he went flying towards his device, he held it reverently in his hands and checked who was calling.
Ann Li. He heaved a sigh and laughed at himself.
“Hello?” he answered, his mouth still retaining the remnants of a smile.
“Well someone sounds happy.” Ann teased. “We wanna come over. Do you have any food? I'm pretty starved.” James heard Ryan in the background telling Ann to tell James he was hungry too – that his bulate are throwing a revolution – that he might eat Jenny as a sacrifice to the rowdy parasites in his stomach – that his mom said he should eat well and James should help the cause – and a litany of other Ryanisms.
“We?” James asked a bit too eagerly, which Ann noticed but did not comment on. “And no, tell Ryan no food.” he added with a laugh. He remembered he hasn't really eaten all day. “I have some stuff here to cook, but nothing's ready and I don't really feel like cooking.”
“We're just gonna stop over somewhere then. We're coming in waves, by the way. You were warned. Haha!”
“Um, we were dropped off at ABS a couple of hours ago. Most of the guys just chilled there. Devon went to dinner with her family, and we went to the park, so she's not with us right now.” Ann heard James sigh a little.
“Ivan took Shey and Kyra home cause Shey needs to rest still, and Fritz and Bret are with him too so they'll get there together. We'll get there in a couple of hours or so...”
“So, what does that mean Ann? You were kinda... Digressing. You lost me.”
Ann heaved a sigh. “Ivan's car will probably get there around 10:30. We'll probably get there around 11 or so. I'm not sure about Devon, but we'll pick her up when she calls us or something.” Ann said with a shrug. “Don't worry she's coming.” Ann added as an aside, to which Jenny and Ryan hooted, hollered and made kissy noises.
“Aw come on guys.” James acted annoyed, but Ann knew otherwise.
“See you later stud muffin.” She said with a laugh.
“Bye.” James answered, smiling.
“No. No, you're not rude. I mean, you're not being rude.” James said quietly. Devon simply responded with a small 'Hm.'
“I mean, well, you could be when you want to be, but right this moment, you're not. You are, uh, totally off the mark there.” he prattled on awkwardly.
Devon laughed that small private laugh she does when they hung out together many moons ago. The laugh that always managed to warm his heart and wave his worries goodbye for a time, regardless of what or how it came about. He openly stared at her then, though she seemed oblivious. Caught in her own thoughts, preoccupied by her feet in the water.
“I mean, that you're not off the mark, just off the – Okay, everything seems to be coming out wrong no matter how hard I try.” he finally confessed after slurring and stuttering through his own words.
“I get it. Relax. Chill.” Devon offered, elongating the last word in a soothing, although obviously sarcastic manner. She looked at him and smiled. He smiled back despite himself ignoring that little jibe. Still, she was giving him the proverbial olive branch or what have you, and he appreciated the gesture for what it was. Unaware that as much as he was revelling in this pocket of existence they shared for the moment, she was relishing the same for she missed his company. She missed the old James. She wondered what might have happened that changed everything... But worried too much to actually ask. They were in a fragile bubble that could burst at any moment and she didn't want to relinquish this yet.
Neither did he.
Because this might be their last chance at this.
Tomorrow, they go back to the real world and who knows what.
“What happened?” he said solemnly, quietly. He spoke as if he was talking to himself.
Devon turned to him, sharing that same expression of confusion. She knew what he meant. “Hindi ko alam.” she finally answered, her voice significantly lowered in an effort to hide the pain in the words but it had not been lost on James.
“How can neither of us not know? Something must have happened.”
“Something must have. Tama ka.” Devon agreed. “You got tired of all the drama, so you went to Australia. When you came back...”
“When I came back... You were working with Ivan.”
“Oh yeah... That show with Kim and Ge.”
“You call him 'Ge' now too?” he asked her with a raised brow. “Quite close, huh?” Devon rolled her eyes. “All the tabloids were saying you and Ivan were spotted somewhere in Eastwood on a date.” he added seriously. “And Ivan was always driving you somewhere after shows.”
“Yeah... Ivan, he's been so good to me.”
“He has been...” he started then caught himself. Pero huli na. Devon already saw his expression darken. “He said you never dated.”
“Oh man!” she laughed. “You too?” she asked, mouth agape. “I can't believe you totally bought that. I can't believe you were one of them this whole time. Nakakaloka.” she laughed.
“So, you never dated...”
“No! Never.” she answered with quite the head shake.
“But you were always together! You guys were always leaving together...”
“We were. I owe that guy big time.” she shrugged with a sincere smile.
“He took me to the hospital, took me to work, took me home to drive me right back to the hospital...” Devon pulled her feet out of the water and hugged her knees close to her chest.
“I mean, why the hospital?” he asked.
“My mom.” she answered, reading the clueless expression on his face. “You didn't know.”
“Is it the same thing as...”
“As at the house? Yeah. But it was different in the real world.” she said bitterly. “Walang Big Brother sa labas.”
“Why didn't you tell me?” he asked quietly. He felt guilty all of a sudden.
“You did.” he repeated, more as an aside to himself than in response to her.
“You were in Australia when it happened, but she was confined for a little while still when you got back. Hence, the hospital trips with Ivan.” she said, wondering why she felt obliged to explain herself. “Then we got different work stints since. Tapos, yun na yun.” she concluded.
They sat in silence. James feeling guilt over his petty behaviour and admiration for her strength at the same time. It was overwhelming to know the truth, and embarassing to accept his own misgivings, but he felt light and happy. As if a huge portion of himself that had been locked away for too long finally breathed some fresh air for the first time.
It wasn't as hard as he had anticipated. Talking proved to be a fruitful affair. It was exhilarating. It felt all too soon till Devon started to nod off. James watched, wanting to have her rest her head on his shoulder but hesitating just the same. The bubble. It was fragile and one wrong move could burst it. And this moment was warm and comfortable and homey. Things he has not felt for a long time. Feelings he had thought were mere frivolities in songs, or movies, or romantic novels of the prissy kind.
After some deliberation he took a leap of faith and gingerly reached for her head. Gently craning her neck to rest on his shoulder he took a deep breath. The scent of her shampoo drifted into his lungs and bubble be damned. He lifted his feet from the pool and crouched down beside her. He rested her head on his chest and lifted her.
“Hey, anong--” mahinang bulong ng dalaga sa bisig ni James.
“Shh. It's alright.” he whispered into her hair as he pressed her gently towards him. He gently propped her on a recliner and watched her face for a time as she slept.