Chapter 19 - Tops and Tinz
"So how was it?" I asked Ella as both of us made our way to our classroom from the council room. We met outside and I thought of asking her about that guy our friends introduced her to.
It was Monday again, and school was just like the usual. Only, I wasn't at my usual behavior. I was just trying my best to hide it.
"Hm-hm." Ella replied nonchalantly.
I sighed. Again?
I lost count of how many guys this girl turned down. Are her standards super high or is she simply not interested in petty dates and playing along?
I mean, kids these days are going out with people just to have something to brag or post about in social media, claiming it's relationship goals. They're only fooling their selves.
Well, not all of them. But most of them, based on what Ella told me before.
"No good?" I asked, though I had a hint that I shouldn't even bother asking anymore.
That was until she looked away with her ears turning pink.
My present thoughts were quickly replaced with excitement. Oh-ho. What was this, what was this?
"Uh-huh." I said, in a teasing tone. This was the first time I actually got the opportunity to tease Ella, the un-teasable.
"He's nice." She simply said.
"What's his name?"
She hid a smile. "Chie."
"I see." I replied, trying not to laugh. She looked like she was recalling that night. I grinned at her as our eyes met. "So you like him."
She made a funny face before pinching my cheek and then my shoulder. I hit the bull's eye.
"I just met him! And we've been texting and chatting since then. I won't like him that quickly. I mean, not like like. But as a person, well sure I like him. Same way I like potatoes." She explained.
I was still grinning, but I knew what she was saying wasn't just to be defensive, even though it sounded like it. It made sense. Ella's not the type to fall easily.
But there's a good chance she will.
I quietly sighed before stealing a glance at her. Well, this was fine. As long as it'll help her move on from Sean.
"Potatoes huh." I mumbled to myself. I so wanna tease her but she beat me to it by changing the topic.
Teasing was actually fun. No wonder.
"What happened between you and Daniel by the way?"
I almost dropped the papers I was holding along. Memories from that day just made me feel weird and confused caused my heart to palpitate and aahh.
It was a good thing she and the girls didn't catch us in the act.
Shh don't even try remembering it.
"Tina?" Ella giggled. Ugh she's so good at turning tables. "Did you guys do SPG things?"
"Of course not." I replied, checking if the butthead was anywhere near us. Good. He was out of sight. Hopefully out of earshot too. "Just PG things. Er... probably."
"You admitted it!" Ella squealed before jumping and hugging me. I let out a nervous laugh. "Oh my gosh I can't believe you finally admitted it!"
"Be quiet." I whispered harshly, noticing the students staring at us in the hallways.
My best friend laughed happily and just kept hugging me. "So, do you admit you like him?"
I held my breath before releasing it loudly. No time to think about that now.
"I think it's just a small crush after all." I replied.
Ella let go of me and sent me a pout. "Aw. Psh."
"What." I mumbled, getting flustered all of a sudden.
Why must my best friend be so sharp?
"Nothing." She sang. I sighed in defeat.
We arrived at our classroom, and I gulped when I saw the topic of our discussion sitting in his desk beside mine.
Ella gave me a pat on the back before I put on a brave front and walked to my desk like the usual.
He was napping, with his head resting on his arms and all. I tried not to stare at him. He looked nice with his eyes closed, quietly breathing like a little boy.
Why didn't I notice he was actually pretty good-looking before? Wow, puberty is amazing.
What the heck.
I quickly looked at the board to clear my mind, and clear my memory of that sight just now.
After he told me not to fall in love with Kristopher that day, he just laughed it off as a joke. I hit him. I really thought he was serious. He broke the mood too.
I sighed heavily, trying my hardest not to slap myself. I should be relieved what happened between us was cut short, not disappointed.
That was called hormones, common among adolescents such as ourselves. That was normal. Yeah. Normal.
Aahh. I'm so screwed.
I bit my lip so hard I thought it'd bleed.
I just never expected myself to engage in those things called fooling around. Then I looked at the sleeping butthead with an accusing glare.
It's all his fault.
It's all his damn fault.
I was still in the middle of cursing him when another being of annoyance graced me with his presence, not allowing me to prepare myself at all.
"Good morning, Tinz!" He greeted as soon as he entered the room. He walked directly towards me as I suppressed a groan. "Looking lovely as usual."
He sent me a toothy grin and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"Morning." I replied. What's the point of sucking up to me? What's his goal?
"This might sound weird," he chuckled, leaning closer and closer. "But your cheeks look super pinchable today."
His hands were on my desk, giving him the support he needs to come even closer, violating my personal space.
I narrowed my eyes, hoping he'd catch the hint that I wasn't amused. "Huh. Yours look punchable."
He laughed for a bit, but then he looked at me again, seriously. I felt threatened. I put my guard up just in case.
"But really," he said, his voice low. He leaned over my desk, studying my face carefully. "You're just too lovely today."
His hand reached for the side of my face and I was about to slap it away until my vision was suddenly blocked by the back of someone's head.
Kristopher's hand ended up cupping Daniel's cheek in such a romantic way that the girls in our class couldn't hold back their squeals and giggles.
I snorted. What just happened?
"Why thank you," Daniel mumbled, adjusting his position since he just jumped into the scene out of nowhere. "And for your information, I look lovely everyday."
It seemed like it took a few seconds to sink in Kristopher's brain that it was not my cheek he was holding right now.
He literally put himself in my position.
I was both grateful and amused.
Kristopher quickly took his hand back and looked at it like he had touched something viral. I giggled at the series of expressions his face made-- shocked, disgusted, irritated.
He tried to laugh it off like he usually did, but this time, not convincingly enough.
"Excuse me Danny, but I was speaking to Tinz." His smile was twitching.
"Oh?" He replied, sounding sarcastically surprised. "Well she's busy at the moment so you can speak to me instead."
"Are you her secretary or something? Buzz off. I don't want to talk to you."
I snorted again. His true colors were showing. Not that I was surprised.
"Well, lovely me wants to talk to you, since you're so approachable." Daniel said, his usual stoic expression gone and replaced by an irritated, but smug look.
"Well, amazing me doesn't want to talk to you." Kristopher said with his head held high.
"Amazing is vague. Lovely is specific, lovely is me."
"No, amazing is the whole package deal, and amazing is me."
"Please, the only thing amazing about you is how stupid you are."
Kristopher scoffed. "Well the only thing lovely about you is..." He raked his brain for a few seconds. "Eh. There's nothing lovely about you. You're ugly."
Wow. It's like listening to an argument between ten year-olds.
Daniel rolled his eyes at the guy. It was actually kinda fun seeing him act like this. It was refreshing. "Well you suck at giving nicknames. Tinz? Horrible."
"Oh like you're any better?" Kristopher scoffed. "Poopy? C'mon, I can't even tell if it's disgusting or adorable."
Uhh. Why do I feel offended...
"Aha!" Daniel raised his voice, much to my surprise. "You admitted it was adorable."
Kristopher was about to retort until he realized what he just said backfired. He silently cursed and glared at him. "Well fine. Maybe it is. But it's alright because a cute nickname suits a cute girl."
"That makes me all the more attractive." Daniel folded his arms. "Since I came up with the nickname."
"Tinz is better though."
"Tinz sounds like a rapper. Or a street thug."
"Hey!" He warned. "Rappers are cool. Some street thugs are cool too. Which means I'm cool, since I came up with it."
Daniel scoffed again. Both of them were shooting daggers at each other and so the rest of our nosy and idle classmates noticed and decided to eavesdrop once again. It was hard no to, honestly speaking.
"Besides," Kristopher added, a confident grin on his face. "Tops and Tinz. Has a nice ring to it, eh?"
Tops. That sounded familiar. I think Daniel called him that before.
"Nope!" Ella suddenly joined the ridiculous argument. The three of us turned to look at her from the far corner of the room, surrounded by our group of friends. They were all giggling. "You can't form a ship name with those names. Sorry not sorry Kristopher! But nice try."
She winked at Daniel and a wide smile appeared on his face before he nodded quickly. He looked at Kristopher smugly before shrugging. "What she said."
Kristopher made a defeated groan. I hid a laugh but I doubt my expression could conceal it. Ella supports the butthead way too much.
Before any more words were exchanged among us, our teacher came in and everybody went back to their seats.
"Calling the attention of Daniel Curtis," the speakers erupted in the middle of our little tour. It was a good distraction since the boys were obviously getting bored out of their minds. And I was too.
There was literally no point in this whole show the new student around campus policy. When it comes to these two new students, it was a complete waste of time, seriously. "Please proceed to the faculty room. Thank you."
It repeated the announcement a few times and everyone was looking at Daniel like he killed somebody.
"What did you do?" I asked, accusingly. Kristopher was snickering beside me.
"Dunno." Daniel shrugged his shoulders. It was obvious in his expression that he didn't care. He looked like he wasn't interested as to why he was being called too.
I sighed before checking my watch. "Should I come with you?"
He was my responsibility. And whatever he did will reflect on me as the council president.
That's the only reason I want to come along. I swear.
He gave me an exhausted smile.
"That was Mr Oak's voice in the speakers." He sighed. "Don't worry."
My brows raised at the realization. Mr Oak. Oh. His biggest fan.
I somehow didn't wanna ask any further.
"Okay." I mumbled, checking my watch again. I wasn't conscious of the time. I just didn't know what else to do. I feel nervous looking at him. I just kept looking at the speakers as I spoke to him. "Then you better get going."
He sighed again. "Too tired."
"Daniel." I warned. "Don't even think of ignoring a teacher. Just go. It won't take long. I think."
He still seemed reluctant to go. It was like seeing a kid make a face when you order him to do his chores.
He looked at Kristopher with a mild glare before he looked at me again. "But you two are gonna have lunch? Alone?"
I almost forgot about that. Kristopher said he was gonna treat me lunch after I showed him around.
He looked unsettled. I held my breath.
"Please don't fall in love with Kristopher."
His voice and his expression fleeted into my mind. What he said last weekend is really starting to bother me, even when it was just a joke.
"Don't worry." I mumbled, but I knew he heard me. "We'll just order take-outs and eat at the rooftop. Go there when you're done."
I looked at my feet and reviewed what I just said in my head. Why the heck was I trying to reassure him? Was it just so he could go already?
Daniel's expression relaxed a bit-- I don't even know how I could tell since he was so stoic all the time.
"Is that fine with you, Kristopher?" I turned around to ask him. I couldn't read his expression at all. But still, he smiled and nodded.
I was being rude, wasn't I? He offered to treat me to lunch and here I am deciding whatever I want just so Daniel won't get worried.
I don't understand my actions. It's not like I have to consider the butthead when I make my choices. Ridiculous.
"You better get going now, Danny." Kristopher said, breaking the temporary silence. "No need to get so worried. I won't do anything to your Poopy."
The way he said it was sarcastic and just a bit annoyed. Daniel scoffed at him. "That's how highly I think of you."
Kristopher smirked and took his phone out to order our food, probably.
The voice in the speakers began again and called for Daniel. He groaned.
"Okay, go already." I said.
"Fine." He mumbled reluctantly.
But before he left, he tilted my chin up with his finger and stole another kiss from me. My reaction couldn't keep up with my heart.
"Fourteen." He said before he narrowed his eyes at me, and then at the surprised boy behind me. "I'll be right back."
I didn't move until he was out of sight. I was shaking, and I wanted to scream or something.
That damn... cunning... thief.
I heard a chuckle behind me, and that chuckle turned into a fit of laughter. I turned around to see Kristopher smiling widely at me.
"What." I asked, embarrassed he had to witness that. Daniel did that on purpose to spite him, and the thought of it just aggravated me.
I'll make sure to pay him back when he returns.
I don't know why my plea for revenge sounded so empty.
"Nothing." He cleared his throat. "I've never seen that guy be so direct before."
And there he dropped another hint that they knew each other, most likely back at London.
"What are you talking about?" I scoffed lightly, turning around again and leading him to the rooftop. I want to know what happened to them in the past. "He's always been direct."
"Finally." I said as Tinz and I opened the Chinese take-outs. I had my bodyguards pick it up and deliver it here in the rooftop.
We've been sitting here on the ground the whole time since we arrived, and I was pretty persistent with the flirting, the pick-up lines and the bottomless praises. I just can't get through to her.
I accidentally snorted out loud. I feel so stupid.
We started eating in silence. Since I didn't order anything for Danny and ordered a bit too much for Tinz, she set aside a big portion of her food and saved it for him.
I resisted a smirk. How sweet.
A couple of minutes passed and I was done eating. I actually ran out of things to say. I feel like I'll humiliate myself again if I keep on pursuing this girl.
I pressed my lips together. I've thought about this since I met with Danny again.
I've been thinking about this every night.
I'm having second thoughts.
I don't really... actually...
...want to take her away from Danny.
I don't want to break them apart.
I don't want to be that person.
It's not like I could've anyway. Those two liked each other too much already. They're just at that denial stage.
I stared at her with a smile, waiting until she notices and looks up at me. A restless move. Whenever I did this to girls, they always blush. Pft. This girl was an exception.
She finally noticed me staring at her and without a second thought, she narrowed her eyes and just continued chewing her food. "Just drop it."
I laughed, because I seriously thought it was funny. I knew she'd say that.
I sighed and looked up at the sky, and then immediately regretted it because my eyes hurt.
That split-second view of the sky was pretty though. I don't remember the last time I looked at the sky.
Whoa. This is turning into a weird monologue. Stop right there, Tops.
"Kristopher," I heard her call softly.
I looked at her with raised brows and noticed she was wrinkling her forehead while biting her lip. Now that got me curious.
"Yup?" I tried not too sound too eager.
She looked like she was debating whether to ask me something or not, and when she finally made up her mind, she looked at me straight in the eyes.
I felt kinda tense all of a sudden.
"You and Daniel." She started. I made a weak smile. Ahh. I think I know where this was going. "You two knew each other before, right?"
She held on her gaze and I had no choice but to look away. She'd be insulted if I lie to her right now. She already knew, but she just wanted to make sure.
I wanted to lie, I did. But something about her just made me surprisingly honest.
Or maybe after confronting Danny about my plans of taking her, I felt a lot of guilt and frustration.
I feel like giving up already. I never knew it'd tire me out this much.
I just want things to go back to normal again.
"Yeah." I replied, laughing at her surprised expression. I think she was surprised because she didn't think I'd tell her so easily. "Danny was my best friend since we were six or seven I think?"
She put her food down while nodding so seriously. She even slid closer to me, her eyes prodding me to go on.
I just laughed again. She looked silly. But I felt like I could tell her anything. Maybe it was because she had that leader aura around her and that made her seem so dependable?
Or was it because she was Danny's precious... hmm. Special person?
"Just ask me what you want to know." I said, softly.
An excited glint appeared in her eyes as she shot her next question. She was pretty prepared, huh.
"Why did you pretend like it was the first time you met when you came to our class?"
I shouldn't have let her ask me anything. I seriously need to think before I say things.
"To annoy him," I simply said. Lie. I just didn't know what to say to him after all these years. I ran away. And then a weight landed on my chest. "We aren't really... the best of friends right now."
She slowly nodded. I smiled, somehow painfully.
I'm sorry Danny.
"I can actually tell." She smiled herself. Then she sat comfortably again before taking her food. "I won't ask anymore. Thanks for telling me, Kristopher."
Huh, that's all she wanted to know?
I observed her actions for a bit and found out that she was satisfied with those answers.
Or was it because she respected our privacy? I can't tell. Usually girls have over a hundred questions right?
"You're so weird." I blurted out. She chortled as I gave myself a mental kick to the balls. My mouth is always ahead of my brain.
"Coming from you, I'd take that as a compliment."
Her laugh and her reply put me to ease. I can't believe I even thought about using her just to make Danny mad. She's too nice.
And I feel stupider by the second.
I really wanna give up now. Damn, I never thought I was this weak.
What am I saying? I've always been weak. That's why I came with with that ridiculous plan. I'm so weak. Lame. Stupid.
I hate myself.
"I really do like you though." I said, no smirk, no flirty-tone, no joke. "But a different kind of like."
I can't believe I just told her that. Mouth, please restrain yourself.
She stopped for a moment and then released a light breath, her eyes closing slowly. "I think I know what you mean, but I somehow don't."
"I'm not sure... what to think." Her voice got smaller and smaller, it almost turned into a whisper. "Have you ever liked someone before? I mean, in a romantic kinda way?"
Now that caught me by surprise. She's so honest. She's denying something in her mind but by the way she looked right now, I could tell how honest she was.
I suddenly thought of Anne.
And her image just landed a huge weight in my chest, making it even heavier.
She'll never forgive me. She'll never want to look at me again. After what I did to her... after what I said...
She hates me.
"Yeah." I replied, sadly, but still keeping up a smile.
If there's one thing I learned from being away from home for too long, it's to keep smiling. I hate admitting it, but I'm weak.
Smiling's my only defense.
"It's only natural to like someone, right?" I added, defensively.
Tinz disregarded the rest of my statement though. "How did it feel?"
I laughed heartily. The innocence and curiosity in her eyes were dazzling.
How did it feel when Anne said she hated me? That she never wanted to see my face again? When Danny held her in his arms?
It really did. It still does.
She mouthed a silent oh before she slowly turned away, maybe regretting she asked that.
I know I blamed Danny for everything. I know I'm wrong. I know. I know. I know.
I don't deserve to be forgiven.
"Are you in denial or something?" I asked, trying to distract myself from my thoughts. They were going to kill me. "Or do you really have no idea in that field?"
Her cheeks reddened and she looked away immediately. I laughed again, enjoying her honest reactions. This girl would totally suck at poker.
"Just making sure." She mumbled.
It was hard not to tease someone like this.
"C'mon. Everybody knows you like Danny. And everybody knows that Danny likes you." And I'm the moron who's forcing himself between you two. "Plus, you two are engaged. Isn't that like a fairy tale?"
She glared at me heavily when I said the word engaged. Uh-oh. It was meant as a joke but I guess she didn't take jokes like that lightly.
"People just love making up rumors." She scoffed. "Our engagement isn't real. I don't know what our parents are thinking. I don't even know if they're kidding or not. They always change the subject when I ask about it. Seriously, it's so annoying!"
Tinz groaned as I continued chuckling. After a few moments of comfortable silence, she looked at me seriously once again.
I braced myself for the questions. I knew she wouldn't be satisfied by just that.
"Why are you pretending to be interested in me, Kristopher?" She sighed. So she knew? "Why are you picking a fight with Daniel? He was your best friend before right? Can't you two just talk it out?"
Talk it out?
Yeah right. Between guys, just talking it out was almost impossible.
I sighed as I lied on my back against the concrete. I shielded my eyes from the sun with my arm and sighed again.
"I don't know."
Of course I wanna make up with Danny. I wanna apologize. I wanna know his side of the story that I never listened to.
But ugh it's just too damn annoying.
It's so hard to just talk it out.
I think she was about to say something else when I cut in.
"Hey Tinz." I said, peeking at her from my arm. From this angle, she really did look pretty. The light emphasized her features, and the wind added life to her flowing hair. "Can you keep a secret?"
She looked suspicious but nodded anyway. I smiled to myself. I know I can trust her.
"Actually," I took a deep breath before continuing the sentence. "When I told you I liked someone before, I actually... still like that person now."
And I lost my best friend because of it. I lost two best friends.
Her eyes widened and she quickly leaned in to pay more attention. I snorted at her eagerness.
"Her name's Anne." I smiled when I said her name out loud. "She was beautiful. She's still beautiful."
I feel like this conversation was slowly turning into a session and Tinz was the shrink.
Well, whatever. It was nice opening up to someone. I haven't talked to anyone about this for a long time. The only person I talked about this was Danny.
Bitterness rushed to my system. I don't usually hold grudges. And I don't think I hated Danny, now that I think about it with a clear head.
I feel like I just needed someone to blame. Someone but myself.
"Anne, Danny and I were best friends since childhood. We were best friends until middle school. And then stupid things happened and now the three of us don't talk to each other anymore." I said. And then I clenched my teeth. "I'm the one who made those stupid things get bigger. It's all my fault."
It was getting scary at how honest I was being. I didn't even realize the truth until I said it out loud.
I shut up for a moment, letting what I said sink in my brain.
What the heck am I doing?
"Well," Tinz said gently. I took my arm off my face and looked at her pure, honest eyes. I feel like the devil just talking to her.
"It's not like it's the end. Daniel's here. You two can make up. Do whatever you want-- fight, talk or something. And when that's done, find Anne and talk to her. Just tell them the truth. Apologize if you have to. Things will work out."
How was she so sure of that?
It sounded easier said than done, but it lit up the dying hope in me.
She was right. I know she's right, because what she said, I already said to myself a thousand times.
It was just relieving to hear it from somebody else.
I quickly sat up straight, laughing at myself. Just one lunch alone with this girl and now I'm changing the goal I've been setting my eyes on for the last three years?
Or was it... my so-called goal of making her fall in love with me to spite Daniel was just an excuse to come here and see him again?
I laughed again, like crazy. Tinz was looking at me like crazy too. I just can't believe this.
I'm the biggest idiot in the world.
If I didn't talk about this with Tinz, I might actually continue pursuing her just for my stupid revenge.
Well. Maybe I'll try it. Maybe I'll try talking with Danny.
I cringed just thinking about it.
It'll be hard to adjust my behavior around him though. It'll be awkward. I know I'm somewhat at fault but I still have my pride.
Ugh. Talking to him and taking back what I said will bruise my ego so much. I don't like admitting my mistakes. Especially to him.
But I had to do it, right?
This is gonna be so damn annoying.
"Thanks, Tinz." I smiled at her. I meant it. I'm glad I talked to her.
She waved her hand lightly. "I didn't do anything. I have no idea what's going on."
I snorted before I burst into a fit of laughter. She laughed along with me, and that went on for a while.
If I never met Anne and if Danny didn't like this girl, I might actually ask her to go out with me. For real this time.
We were having so much fun talking about random things and exchanging silly stories about Danny when we were kids, that we didn't realize he was already between us, physically trying his best to stop our momentum.
He looked at me, irritation clear in his eyes and I couldn't resist a smirk.
I won't go after Tinz anymore. I already made up my mind. I wasn't sincere from the start anyway.
But after talking to her, she seemed like a good friend and a good listener.
He didn't have to uselessly worry about my motives.
Maybe I'll keep going after her to annoy him. We haven't spoken yet, and I'm still bitter.
Annoy him. Hm. That sounded fun.
I laughed at his expression before I glanced at Tinz behind him. She returned the laughter and we just left Danny confused and annoyed.
I don't know why, but I feel lighter somehow. Strange.
I hope things will work out.