1 Chapter 1: Teas and Coffees


I have a confession to make. I hate alarms. Just like most tropey teenage love stories. I found myself waking up and shouting across the room after hearing my phone playing my most hated sound. The thing is, I use it to wake me up only on important occasions, I just normally rely on my body clock and never minded if I go late in class, but it was a very special day. I am going to spend it with the most special people in my life. I dressed up wearing a blue denim long-sleeved shirt paired with black pants and khaki shoes. I stayed up all night excited, rehearsing what I will wear. I looked like the lead in one of those Korean dramas. It has been a while ever since my friends and I have been together. They were my best friends since high school. I surely missed them a lot.

After fighting for a ride in the bustling streets of Manila, I finally got to ride on a jeepney. Like always, commuting in the busy streets did not help my already haggard and groggy demeanor. Our meeting place was in the AM Mall, one of the biggest malls in Asia. It has three towering structures housing different stores and an outdoor food street where people usually meet. The ambiance felt wonderful, all you can hear are loud laughter and chats from different groups of people.

The weekend morning was already filled with people trying to spend time with each other after a long and tiring week. I looked at the coffee shop, it seemed that none of them has arrived yet. I went first to the washroom to fix myself for a bit. I always make sure that my hair is properly waxed, and I use powder to avoid oiliness in my face. Everyone inside the washroom gave disapproving looks wondering why I am taking too long in front of the mirror. I just shrugged it off and laughed. I need to be so handsome that they would be amazed when they finally see me. It has been so long. I cannot let all my preparations go to waste.

I checked the time on my phone. I spent almost half an hour fixing myself, it's nine o'clock, they must be here already.

I ran to the coffee shop. As I was entering the door, the people at the counter started to scream. I'm just kidding, I think it's just more like a gasp. They were pushing each other aside and giggling. Heads-up, this always happens to me wherever I go. You need to be used to it. I tried to look for my friends inside, but they are not on any of the tables. I wondered where they are, we agreed to be here at 9 AM sharp. I went outside and waited for them.

I checked our group chat.

"Wait, almost there," Joy typed earlier.

I sent an angry emoticon.

"I'm stuck in traffic, where are you?" Lance chatted.

"Wait for me! I'm walking near the mall entrance now. I thought it was Filipino time!" that was JR.

After waiting for so long, I finally saw one of them, JR. He was walking towards the coffee shop wearing an all-black outfit, a Chinese-collared shirt with black slacks and white rubber shoes. He looked handsome. His face is a mixture of sharp and soft features which creates a serious appearance, yet he looks childlike when he smiles. But if there's one thing, he has that I don't, it's clearly his height. I started to think that I lost. The two of us tend to compete on who will look more handsome every time we go on a trip. We are very close that way.

JR saw me and waved.

"Where are they? Are they late again? Let's go first I need to drink something already" he said in his usual energetic tone.

"Alright, but don't order me coffee I can't handle the caffeine," I said.

"That's so sissy," he teased me.

I gave him an angry look. He's now scared. Everyone gets scared whenever I'm angry. That's something I'm proud of.

"Let's go," I said.

We went inside and you can just guess how the same baristas who were just giggling as I entered a while ago reacted. They were speechless. They didn't move an inch for ten seconds. The other people in line were literally mad. JR and I competed and raced to the counter. We had this game, the one who wins gets to order the other person's drink. We looked like children playing and it gave the other customers and the baristas quite a bit of a show. We lined up, both of us noticed that the people at the counter were talking about us.

"Are they together?" one of them said.

"Like dating?" the other asked.

"I don't know, they are very handsome. OMG! They look so good together."

"I also think so. He's waiting for him a while ago, it's so sweet."

They continued to giggle.

"They look like the couple from a Thai BL series I've just watched, aren't they?"

"I ship them. I like the one in blue, he looks so hot."

"I like the one in black, he's more handsome and definitely taller."

What! More handsome? I know that he's taller than me but I'm definitely more handsome than him. We're used to this. People are usually talking about us. They usually think we were boyfriends when we hangout. I realized something, JR and I looked at each other's eyes as if we had the same idea. We realized that we were so dressed up and we indeed look like a couple on a date. Everyone, even the ones on their tables, was looking at us now. We're dead!

"Act normal," JR whispered close to my ear.

It made everyone gasp. The baristas at the counter looked like they're dying out of breath.

I just shook my head and looked at JR.

JR placed his arm around me and rested it on my shoulder.

This idiot! He's having fun! He knows that I'm embarrassed. Everyone thinks that I'm the uke when we're together. I threw him scary looks to tell him to remove his arms. He did and laughed frantically. He is really annoying; he acts very childish and never loses his energy like a golden retriever puppy seeking attention.

The truth is, there is nothing between us two. I need to put this disclaimer right now. The reason why we're always together more than our other friends is because we always play computer games. We frequently hang out just to play those games and increase our ranks. One time, Lance went with us to hang out. He tried to play Pokémon on his phone and got bored after a minute. He said that he didn't understand the one we are playing. He spent all night watching movies and reading books while I and JR were playing and advancing our ranks. After that, he never went with us if we just wanted to play games. Poor Lance.

We went on to the counter. The baristas tried to maintain their composure.

"One mocha frappe and dark coffee latte please," JR ordered.

All of us four love coffee but only JR can handle it, the three of us usually palpitate from drinking only one cup.

We sat at the table near the entrance so our friends can see us when they arrive.

"Shit, they thought we're a couple again, we shouldn't go out dressed like this," I told JR.

"Just let it be, they don't even know us," he confidently said with a laugh. He never minded it, in fact, I think, he even enjoys it.

We talked for a while about games and stuff then went on with our cellphones and played another game.

We were almost winning in the game when suddenly someone entered the café. It took me a couple of seconds to recognize him. He looked like one of those Korean idols from the internet. He has very child-like and soft features and very smooth wavy hair. He is like my complete opposite; I look sharp and more fit while he has a smaller built. Anyone who sees him will do everything for him. You just want to spoil him and protect him from harm. God! He looks so cute. He was wearing a black and white striped shirt tucked inside his black pants and white rubber shoes. The baristas were in awe again. One of the girls almost screamed.

"OMG! He's cute, I want a picture with him!" she said out loud which made Lance look embarrassed.

The other one replied. "I think I saw him on TV or something. Maybe he's an actor."

One of the male baristas went near the counter where the two girls were talking and said, "I think I like him. He's so beautiful."

"Beautiful? He's handsome," the girl corrected him.

"Why? He's cute," the man said.

He looked around for a while and saw us. He cheerfully waved and gave us a very bright smile.

I didn't realize that I was staring at him with my mouth open. He smiled again. Oh my God! I waved awkwardly. I looked at JR and, surprisingly, he was also staring at Lance with his mouth open. I hit him on his chin, and he went back to his senses. He blushed and covered his face in shame. Thank God, JR didn't saw me a while ago, I'm sure that he was going to tease us non-stop again if he did.

He indeed changed a lot. He did not look this good in high school, that small face of his, those eyes with the round glasses, and that messy hair he never styles. He's slim but almost as tall as I am. His fashion sense is also superb and makes anything he wears look good. I think he does not even put any effort into choosing what to wear at all.

He signed to us that he's going to order first. Guess what! He ordered a pink drink. I am going to tease him about this.

One of the baristas from a while ago told the others, "What do you think? Should I chase after him? He might like boys too; he ordered pink milk."

What the hell? I hate that barista! Why do they associate pink with being gay? I tease Lance about it but it's only a joke, I'm also at fault, to be honest. We need to stop stereotyping!

He went to our table which garnered lots of talk from the people.

He seated beside me.

"Where's Joy?" he asked.

"As usual, late," I replied.

"Text her where we are," Lance said.

"Why me?" I replied.

"Uhm… because you're together?" he said.

"We're not together anymore, ok? That was so long ago. Move on Lance."

He looked angrily at me.

"Hey JR, how are you?" he asked.

"Good," JR replied. He replied coldly before bursting into a sea of laughter.

After a while, the barista who had an interest in Lance went to our table. He held a handful of tissue papers and gave it to Lance.

"Sir, tissue?" He offered.

"Oh, thank you," Lance replied.

Lance looked at us.

"Do you need anything else, sir?"

"Oh, I'm alright, thanks," he said.

The other two baristas went to us. One went between me and Lance, while the other went near JR. They asked for a picture. The three of us looked at each other and just laughed at it. The male barista took it for them and then asked for a picture with Lance.

I teased Lance about it, first about the pink milk and then with the barista who has a crush on him. He punched me on my shoulder. It only hurt a bit. JR, on the other hand, teased us both, he told us that we're so sweet. Lance, who was angry at me, turned his anger to JR. He changed his seat next to JR and punched him continuously on the shoulder. JR almost shouted! We always tease each other like this, and Lance always turns out to be the most bullied friend.

Half an hour must have passed, and we almost finished our drinks except for Lance's pink drink.

Someone came inside. Shit! She's so beautiful. She's wearing black and white stripes and a black skirt with white shoes. Her hair is long and dyed brown, and she looks really good with her bangs. She has a model-like body and the star of almost all pageants since we were in high school. I was speechless but I felt a bit awkward because of our past. As usual, I'm not the only one who stared, even JR, and… Lance! Really?

She smiled, her usual happy smile and beautiful lips. She went to the counter. The barista seemed to lose his crush on Lance and pushed the other two away from the counter to take her order. I really want to punch him, is he bi or something?

She then went to us with her iced tea. She always says that she's a tea person. She then went on and seated near me. Awkward! But no! I think we're past that stage already. We're just good friends now. We realized that Joy and Lance are wearing the same type of shirt.

"OMG! You two are wearing couple shirts! Did you plan this?" JR teased them.

Joy just laughed at him while Lance gave him a dagger look.

"Really, tell us the truth," I teased them.

Joy made a gesture with her shoulders and her hand as if to say that she doesn't care while Lance angrily looked at me again.

This is just the beginning of all the good fun and teasing. Memories and stories that will always remain in my heart. Of course, the people on the counter were going crazy, confused, and curious who this weird group of friends are.

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