2. Chapter 18.

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  • Dedicated to @AqVivi

"Everyone's number one need is acceptance and everyone's number one fear is rejection."

Alex woke up to the sound of his alarm clock blaring on his bedside table. He rolled out of bed and shook the sleep away. He stood up, let out a loud yawn while he stretched his arms upward. Then he pulled on his gear for the day – his black sleeveless shirt, basketball shorts, his gray hoodie and a pair of Nikes. Before leaving the room, he grabbed his phone and his headphones that were on top of his study table. He was welcomed by the scent of Manang Pilar's cooking as he entered the living room. They had a little chat while he chomped on a banana that he fished out from their fruit basket on the kitchen counter. After that, he made his way out.

The street was quiet. By the time Alex finished doing his warm up exercise, the sky had lightened from black to purple with pinkish streaks. For a moment, he took in the majestic sight before him as he breathed in the cool September air. The stillness of everything around him gave him that sense of calm that he's been longing for weeks now. It was perfect. He breathed out, kneeled down to tighten his shoe laces, secured his headphones in place and turned the music on. He pushed off and started to run. Alex allowed himself to be swallowed by the oblivion as he started to run through the deserted streets of The Fort. He was alone and there was nothing but the sound of Richard Ashcroft's voice singing to Bittersweet Symphony.  

Here in this zone, he couldn't think about the things between him and Drei that's been causing a stir in his mind for a few weeks now. He could let it go for now, setting it aside for later. In this zone, he couldn't obsess over and over again for ways on how he could fix this, if he could still fix it. Drei was slowly drifting away from him and if he'd let that happen, pretty soon things will never be the same again. And in this zone, he couldn't regret. Regret everything that's been said and done. He knew she was hurt and goddamn him for being an asshole for the nth time.

He ran past the NBC Tent and then the MC Home Depot. He pushed himself hard, until his heart pounded and he couldn't catch his breath. A few hours later, muscles quivering and sweat dripping endlessly on his body, he stopped. Panting as the sun beat down on him. It felt good. He cooled down by walking back to Two Serendra. And just as his heart rate returned to normal, the memory of him and Drei squabbling in the living room came rushing back at him. He sat himself down at the tropical garden, shut his eyes for a few minutes and pressed the bridge of his nose. Asshole, he thought to himself. He gave out a heavy sigh. It was all his fault. All his. This was what he wanted in the first place, to be there for her, to become her person, her support system and even convincing her to move in with him. But here he was ruining it all by letting his alter ego take over. He hurt her. Wrong move.

Alex returned home just in time before breakfast. After resting for a few minutes and taking a shower, he joined Drei, Manang Pilar and Matty at the dinner table for breakfast.  Today is Friday, the first Friday of September and the last day of the week.

"Good morning!" he greeted, then settled himself across Drei.

"Morning," Drei replied flatly, not even bothering to look at him.

They've been staying out of each other's way. The air between them was growing thick and crackling with unresolved issues. Things between them were getting stale as each day passes. Drei was becoming distant and there was something in him that said that this is how things are going to turn out for them if he won't figure out a way to fix it. Alex kept stealing glances at her hoping that she'd look his way. He felt like a little boy desperate for her attention. Eventually she did when he found himself unconsciously staring at her. They held each other's gaze for a fraction of seconds and Alex let out a shy smile while he searched her eyes for a hint of affection. But there wasn't any. Instead, Drei returned with a cold and distant stare that gave nothing away. She looked away.

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