Hi everyone! Same copyright rules apply. And there are some homoerotic scenes on some chapters, so if you don't like that kind of stuff or if you're not supposed to read that kind of stuff, then go find something else to read.
The Third Roommate
Names and Possibilities
Bits and Pieces
The Picture on the Wall
A Taste of Heaven
WARM morning rays hit Charlie's cheek as he began to stir on his bed. He opened his eyes and he didn't feel that anything was out of the ordinary. It took him a couple of seconds to realize that he wasn't in his dorm room and Danny wasn't in his arms.
He blinked a couple of times before he recognized the room. It was his room in his grandma's house. And the memories from the previous night rushed back to him in a split-second, followed by a profound feeling of loss.
His grandma was dead. And she died in his arms.
He felt like something was pinching his heart and he wanted to cry. But there were no tears in his eyes. He was all out of tears, but he was still weeping inside.
He breathed deeply before he decided to get up. He checked his cellphone and found a text message from Danny. It said, "Hang in there. I'll be there with you soon."
He sighed as he recalled how he cried on the phone while telling Danny everything that had happened the night before. Danny just listened to him and comforted him.
He sighed again before he went to the bathroom, did his thing and then proceeded to shower.
When he got down to the kitchen, his mom and dad were there. Both looked like they cried their eyes out all night. Much like he did.
He sat beside his mom, opposite his dad. His mom got up and put a plate before him. He couldn't look them in the eye because he was afraid he'd start crying again.
He put some fried rice, hotdogs and eggs on his plate and tried to eat. His stomach was screaming for food, but he couldn't seem to shove it down his throat. He poured himself some pineapple juice and tried to wash it down.
"Your mom and I need to make arrangements for the wake and the funeral," he heard his dad say. "I need you to look after your brother and sister."
He just nodded sadly, not looking up.
"Honey," his mom said as she put her hand on his shoulder. The sympathetic touch almost made him bawl again. He sucked it in and tried breathing deeply. "Are you gonna be all right?" she asked.
He sighed again. "I'll be fine," he finally said. But he knew he didn't convince either of them.
They all fell silent for a while as Charlie tried to eat some more food. His mom and dad got up after a while and they kissed him on his cheek before they left.
He didn't know how long he was staring at his food, but it was cold by the time he tried to eat another spoonful. The feeling of loss was just consuming him.
He heard Carrie running down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Where's mom and dad?" she asked with a little worry in her voice.
He looked at her and tried to smile. "They just went out to make some arrangements," he said. "Get over here and eat your breakfast."
Carrie sat down beside him. Charlie got up and got his sister a plate. As soon as Carrie began eating, Kyle walked into the kitchen, got himself a plate and sat opposite their sister.
They all ate in silence.
Charlie heard his brother sniff a little and he couldn't help but look at him.
"It's never gonna be the same, is it?" Kyle said.
Carrie suddenly wrapped her arms around Charlie. She was also crying.
Charlie realized that his brother and sister were taking their grandmother's death even worse than he did. Arthur, the grandfather that they knew about, died before Charlie was born. For the first time in their young lives, they all had to confront the loss of a very close family member. And being younger than he was, both Kyle and Carrie were even less emotionally equipped to handle the loss.
Charlie motioned for his brother to come to him as he hugged his sister tightly with his right arm. He wrapped his other arm around Kyle and his brother cried on his shoulder.
"You're right," Charlie said as his eyes began to leak. "It's never gonna be the same. We're all gonna be missing her so much. We'll always miss her. And it's okay to miss her. But we always have to remember that she would never want us to be sad, ever. She'll want us to be happy. So we're gonna mourn for her. We will cry our eyes out. For now. And soon, everything will be okay. We'll still miss her. But it won't hurt so much anymore."
"You promise?" Carrie said between sniffles.
"Cross my heart," he said looking in her eyes with a smile.
Then he broke their hug and said, "Now go finish your food. She wouldn't want us to go hungry."
It seemed like he was on auto-pilot for the rest of the day. His mom called him before noon to tell him where the wake1 would be. He prepared lunch for his brother and sister and drove them to the wake afterwards.
Charlie realized how much he hated sympathizers. He knew they meant well, but hearing "I'm so sorry for your loss" a million times in an hour did not do him any good. In fact, it quickly became annoying. Listening to other people telling him stories about his grandmother made him miss her even more. And the looks of pity that they were giving him were simply infuriating.
By 7PM he was exhausted and he couldn't wear his fake smile any longer. His mother immediately noticed it.
"Charlie," she called him. As soon as he approached her, she whispered to him, "We're almost out of coffee. Go get some money from your dad and buy some."
"And Charlie," his mother called him back when he turned to walk to his father. "Take as much time as you need."
"Thanks mom," he said gratefully as he gave his mother a sad smile.
He approached his dad and asked for the money.
"Are you gonna use the car?" his dad asked.
He thought about it for a second before he said, "Nah. I think I'm just gonna walk."
He sighed as he started to walk to the door. "I could use Danny's shoulders right about now," he thought to himself.
As he reached for the doorknob, the door suddenly swung open and he couldn't believe his eyes...
Danny was standing at the door, looking lovingly at him.
"Charlie..." said Danny as he wrapped his arms around Charlie.
As soon as Charlie felt Danny's comforting arms, he melted and wept on his lover's shoulders. He felt Danny's lips touch his forehead... his cheek... and finally landing on his welcoming lips. And he just drowned in his loving kisses.
"Uh... guys," he heard Joseph's voice, interrupting their moment. "You're kinda making out in your grandmother's wake."
"And everybody's staring," added Tim who was standing beside Joseph.
"Aww shit!" Danny exclaimed when he realized that people were giving them looks ranging from mild surprise to utter disgust.
"Double shit!" Charlie seconded when he saw his mom and dad looking at them with their jaws dropped. "Let's go," he said to Danny as he grabbed his hand and dragged him out of the building.
"Charlie, I'm so sorry," Danny said when they got out. "I just got carried away when I saw you... I just missed you so much... and I saw so much pain in your eyes that my first instinct was to comfort you and..."
Charlie began to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Danny said, confused.
"Oh man..." said Charlie after a while. "We picked the worst time to be outed. Do you realize that most of the people in there are old church women of the worst kind? In less than an hour, the whole town will know that I kissed a boy in my grandma's wake. I'm gonna be the talk of the town for the next couple of months and this is gonna be an urban legend!"
"Charlie, that's not something to laugh about," Danny said, looking worriedly at him.
Charlie looked at Danny and smiled sweetly. "I'm not losing my mind, babe. It's just that grandma had always hated those holier-than-thou, pompous church bitches who have nothing else to do than spread nasty rumors and tell everyone else how evil their lifestyle is. She used to tell me that you could never trust them because they always seem nice and say the nicest things about you when you're face to face, but once you turn your back, they stab you with every rumor they could find and they wouldn't stop until you resemble the devil himself. And they do that even to their so-called best friends."
Charlie chuckled again as he looked at the sky. "She used to say that one day, she would do something so shocking in front of them just to see if they would get a heart attack and she would vulgarly admit to the rumors that they would spread and treat it as if it was the best thing that she'd ever done in her life."
He looked at Danny again with a sad smile. "I don't know if she was able to do it before she died. But I think she would have loved the look on their faces when they saw us kissing." He chuckled again.
"B-but your mom and dad... they saw us," Danny said.
"Don't worry about it," assured Charlie. "We'll deal with it later. I don't think they would react negatively. Or maybe not too much, at least. I hope... But right now we need to buy a couple of bags of ground coffee beans to keep everyone awake. And you need to tell me what the hell you're doing here. Especially after you promised to stay on campus until Friday." He made it sound as if he was scolding Danny, but he was grinning from ear to ear.
"Well," replied Danny. "When you told me what happened last night, I called all my professors and asked them to excuse me from my classes. I told them about the situation and asked if they could just give me some special projects for extra credits. They all said that I was doing really well and I didn't need extra credits and they would excuse me. Then, Joseph and Tim said that they wanted to come, too, and since I didn't know how to get here on my own, I let them."
"I'm so glad you're here," Charlie said as he wrapped his arms around Danny and gave him a tender kiss. "You have no idea how much I wanted you to hold me."
"Yes, I do," replied Danny. "I also wanted to hold you so much. And I've missed you terribly."
They stood on the side of the road holding each other for a while.
"You do realize that we're hugging in a public place, don't you?" Danny said, breaking the silence.
"Do you care?" asked Charlie, hugging him tighter.
"Not in the least," replied Danny, smiling.
"Me neither," said Charlie. He gave Danny another tender kiss before he broke the hug. "We need to go buy the coffee beans, though. Otherwise, there will be a couple of dozen sleepy mourners in my grandma's wake."
They walked together, arms around each other, smiling sweetly and enjoying the silence between them.
When they got back, a few of the old women shot them with dagger looks, while the others looked at them disapprovingly. Charlie felt Danny tense. He lovingly looked at him, held his hand and kissed him on the cheek.
"Don't mind them," he whispered in Danny's ear. "They can't hurt us." He smiled sweetly at Danny and ushered him to a seat beside Joseph and Tim. Then he proceeded to the pantry to fix some coffee. He saw his mother there preparing some juice drinks.
"Hey mom," he said. "Here's the coffee."
"I suppose your, uh, friend will be staying with us?" his mom asked without looking at him.
"Yes," he said with his head bowed. Then he heard the door to the pantry close and he saw his father standing there.
"You gave us quite a shock there, son," said his dad.
Charlie sighed. "I'm sorry dad," he said. "It's just that I was missing him so much and I was wishing that he could be here to hold me and comfort me... and then there he was. I just... I couldn't help it. When I saw him, it was like everything went blurry and all I could see was him. I..."
He looked up and saw his dad looking intently at him.
"I know I should've told you," he continued. "And I really didn't mean for you to find out this way. I was kinda planning to tell you during the Christmas break 'cause I kinda invited him to join us. But..."
Tears began to roll out from his eyes. "Please don't hate me, dad," he pleaded. "I just lost my grandmother. I don't wanna lose my parents, too."
His mom was at his side in a split second and she held him. His dad immediately followed and hugged him and his mom.
"What are you talking about?" his dad said. "We're not going anywhere. And we're not sending you away just because you have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend."
His mom wiped his tears and said, "We already know about you and Danny. It is Danny, isn't it?"
"Your grandma gave us a heads up before she died," said his dad. "And she made me swear not to give you a hard time about it. As if I ever would."
His dad kissed his forehead and said, "You're our son, Charlie. You'll always be our son. And we love you very much. And if you went through all that trouble in planning to introduce this boy to us, then that could only mean that you really do care about him. And that makes him special in my book."
"And if you're anything like me," added his mom. "Then I would guess Danny is a wonderful man. I believe we both have excellent taste in men," she smiled.
"I guess I'm gonna have to agree with that," his dad chuckled. "Well, I guess this is the perfect time to introduce us, don't you agree?"
Charlie smiled. "I'll get him," he said, then gave both his mom and dad a kiss on the cheek. "Oh... and please be gentle with him. He's a nervous wreck as it is."
He got Danny and introduced him to his parents. Danny was very tense, but Charlie's mom eventually put him at ease. It also helped a lot that Charlie was holding his hand all the while.
His dad called Carrie and Kyle into the room after a while and Charlie introduced Danny to them as well. Carrie immediately took to Danny. Kyle was a bit reserved. He looked at Danny suspiciously, and played the part of a protective brother to perfection. He even cornered Danny a little later and said, "My brother is the most wonderful person in the planet. If you hurt him in any way, I swear I will hunt you down."
Danny looked Kyle in the eye and said, "I love your brother more than life itself. I will die before I let anybody hurt him. I will kill myself before I even think of hurting him. You have my word that I will take good care of him always."
Kyle broke into a smile and said, "We're cool then. You're so tense. You should relax a bit."
Danny let out a sigh of relief as Kyle began to walk away from him.
Kyle turned around after a few steps and said, "My room is right next to my brother's. So please try to keep it down later tonight. I really don't wanna stay up all night trying to ignore the sound of you two lovebirds making babies," he chuckled as Danny's face turned into different shades of red.
Rosie was buried three days later. Charlie and Danny stayed in her house for another week before they went home to Charlie's parents' house.
Charlie called Angela and asked her and Tyler to join them for Christmas. Angela and Tyler came the day before Christmas and they had a wonderful Noche Buena2 together, even if Rosie's absence was deeply felt by everyone in the family. Angela immediately bonded with Charlie's mom, and Carrie took Tyler like a younger brother.
Two days after Christmas, Rosie's lawyer met with Charlie and his family to read Rosie's will. Charlie found out that his grandma had purchased a house in Quezon City, a few minutes drive from the UP Campus, and put it under his name. His grandma's old house was also given to him and her liquid assets, including company shares and bonds, were equally distributed among her three grandchildren, with their father as trustee until their 21st birthday.
Kyle just looked at him and said, "You'll let me stay in your house when I go to UP, right?"
"It's our house, doofus," he replied. "Besides, I'd like to keep you close so I could keep an eye on you. I'm pretty sure you'll turn into a crazy party animal in less than a week without proper guidance."
"Hmmm... that may be," Kyle replied. "But at least I'm sure I won't turn gay."
"You can't be sure about that," Charlie countered. "Danny was straight as an arrow before he met me," he let out an evil laugh. "And soon enough, he was consumed by the dark side of the force."
"Yup," confirmed Danny with a smile. "And I never wanna see the light again."
"Well," replied Kyle, visibly shaken. "Stay the hell away from me, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, because I will never turn to the dark side. No! I'll never join you!"
Charlie and Danny laughed.
"I think they've been watching too much Star Wars," said Charlie's mom to his dad.
"Maybe watching all six episodes one after the other has finally fried their brains," answered his dad.
New Year's day came too soon. And then, their vacation was over. Charlie and Danny both had to go back to school. Charlie's dad insisted on paying for gas, to which, Danny humbly accepted. They said their goodbyes and Danny almost cried when Charlie's parents came to hug him as well.
"Take good care of my boy, okay," Charlie's dad whispered to Danny when he gave him a hug.
"I will, sir," Danny promised.
They climbed into Danny's car, waved goodbye and drove off to pick Joseph up from his house before they began the long drive back to school.
"ROMMEL!" Charlie called out as he tried to catch up with Rommel.
Rommel was still ignoring him and his patience was wearing thin.
"Jeesh! Wait up a sec, will ya?" he hollered again.
"What the fuck do you want?" Rommel snapped.
"Look, I know you hate me, okay," he snapped back. "I hurt you badly and I'm sorry about that. But this thing about you pretending that I don't exist has got to stop because it's getting ridiculous."
Rommel looked sharply at him.
"Okay," Charlie continued. "Hate me if you want to. But Prof. Page grouped us together to work on this machine problem3 and I really don't intend to work on it alone. I mean, I could try, but you know how much I suck at this. And you're the genius when it comes to computer programming. So what do you say we put our personal feelings aside for a while and just finish this damn program?"
Rommel just looked at him for a few minutes. He looked back at him.
"Fine," Rommel said after breathing deeply. "I have a date tonight at seven. But if you could come by my house at around 5:30, we may have about an hour or so to start working on it."
Charlie sighed. "I'll be there," he said, then he turned around and started to walk away. After a few steps, he turned back and said, "Thanks." And he smiled at Rommel before he continued walking.
Rommel felt his heart skip a beat. "Damn! He still has that effect on me," he thought. "Why is it so fucking hard to forget about him?"
He started to walk to his next class and found himself getting more excited about Charlie and him working on the machine problem together than his date with a hot swimmer.
"Fuck!" he thought. "If he brings Danny again, I'm gonna fucking hang myself!" He sighed.
He was glad to find that he didn't have to hang himself when Charlie came over just after 5PM.
They settled in the den and started discussing the machine problem for a few minutes. Rommel started formulating an algorithm and Charlie broke it down to smaller problems. Then, they discussed which programming language they would be using, and finally, decided which modules of the program they'd be working on individually.
"I guess that's it," said Charlie, smiling.
"Yeah," replied Rommel. "Just work on those modules and give them to me in five days. I'll finish it up and we'll be able to submit it way before the deadline."
"Great!" said Charlie. Then, they fell into an awkward silence.
"Uh, listen, dude," Rommel said after a while. "I'm not trying to get rid of you or anything, but like I told you earlier, I have a date in, like, a few minutes. So..."
"Okay, I get it," Charlie smiled. "I'm not gonna keep you from your date. Can I just stay here for a while so I could organize these notes?"
"No problem," replied Rommel. "My granduncle's probably in the kitchen. Just holler when you're leaving." He stood up and looked as if he wanted to say something more.
Charlie looked up at him and said, "Rommel, we're cool now, right?"
Rommel sighed. Then he nodded and said, "Yeah, we're cool." He couldn't get himself to move. He wanted to stay with Charlie a bit longer, but he knew he had to go.
"I, uh... I gotta get going," he said after a while.
"Okay. Be safe, alright? Make sure you have enough condoms with you," Charlie teased.
"Fuck off!" Rommel laughed. Then, he began to walk away before he lost his nerves. He said a quick goodbye to his granduncle, informing him that Charlie was still in the den, before he left the house.
After Charlie was done getting his notes in order, he shoved it and his laptop back in his bag. Then he got up and started walking to the kitchen.
"Professor Tangco?" he said as he approached the old man who was preparing a meal.
"Ah, Charlie," said the old man. "Are you leaving already?"
"Yes sir," Charlie said, smiling.
"Why don't you stay for dinner?" asked the old man. "Since Rommel is going out tonight, it's just gonna be me here."
"I'd love to, sir," replied Charlie. "It's just that someone's also waiting for me back at the dorm."
"Your boyfriend, I suppose," said the old man.
"Uh... yes sir," answered Charlie.
"There's really nothing like young love," the old man smiled in melancholy. "It's so sweet."
Charlie couldn't help but smile back.
"Of course, you do know that you broke Rommel's heart, don't you?" the old man looked intently at Charlie.
"Yes sir, I know," replied Charlie. "Rommel is a good friend. I never wanted to hurt him. But the heart wants what it wants. And mine wants Danny."
"Isn't that the truth?" said the old man. "Sadly, I know exactly what you mean. It was just unfortunate that Rommel had become a casualty of love; much like I was back in my day."
Then, Charlie remembered that this was the man who taught Rommel the code. And this was the man who actually knew Spook.
"Sir," he said as he walked closer to the old man. He sat on a chair near the old man and opened his bag. He took out the decoded writings from the wall on his closet. "I'd like to show you something. Maybe you could help me decode it," he said as he handed the paper to the old man.
I AN RO ROSSW. I RKOUTB KADE LOTB WOU KOY I SEATTW JEET ADOUL WOU. I AN RUHC A HOYASB. AMB DEHAURE OJ LKAL, I TORL LKE NORL INGOSLAML LKIMP IM NW TIJE... WOU... WOUS TODE. I TODE WOU, LKAL IR LKE LSULK. I TODE WOU YILK ATT NW KEASL AMB ROUT. I HOUTB MEDES TIDE YILKOUL WOU. AMB MOY LKAL WOU TEJL NE, I AN POOB AR BEAB. I AN BEAB. I TODE WOU. AMB I YITT TODE WOU JOSEDES.
The old man instantly recognized the written message.
"Where did you get this?" he asked Charlie.
"Those were writings I found in my closet back in my dorm room," replied Charlie. "It wasn't really written like that. It was more like abstract art, but I was able to decipher symbols out of that. Then, when Rommel gave me a coded letter before the break, he also gave me a hint on how to decode the letter. I realized that Rommel's letter and the writings in my closet were coded the same way, so I was able to decode it and there it is."
The old man grabbed a chair and sat opposite Charlie. He was still staring at the paper that Charlie gave him. He couldn't believe it, but he knew exactly who wrote it and to whom it was for.
"Th-this is called Hamlo Dow," started the old man. "It's actually a simple spoken code. We just replace a consonant sound by another consonant sound. Vowel sounds remain the same."
"Of course, my two best friends in my freshman year in college thought it would be nice to use it in the written form as well," the old man continued. "Especially since they usually left sweet messages to each other that they didn't want anybody else to know or understand. They also usually spoke to each other using Hamlo Dow so that they could always say what they wanted towards each other without anybody else understanding what the hell they were saying."
"What does Hamlo Dow mean exactly?" asked Charlie.
The old man smiled at him. "Kanto Boy4," he replied. "Coded, Kanto Boy becomes Hamlo Dow. K is replaced by H; N by M; T by L; B by D; Y by W; and all vowel sounds remain the same."
"Let me translate this message for you," said the old man as he grabbed a pen and started decoding the message as Charlie looked on excitedly.
I AM SO SORRY. I SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOU HOW I REALLY FEEL ABOUT YOU. I AM SUCH A COWARD. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, I LOST THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE... YOU... YOUR LOVE. I LOVE YOU, THAT IS THE TRUTH. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL. I COULD NEVER LIVE WITHOUT YOU. AND NOW THAT YOU LEFT ME, I AM GOOD AS DEAD. I AM DEAD. I LOVE YOU. AND I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.
"Wow..." Charlie said after he read the whole message for the first time. "This message... it's..."
"Exactly how he was feeling when he wrote it," the old man said, almost inaudibly.
"You knew him, didn't you?" Charlie asked. "The one who wrote this."
"Yes, I did," replied the old man as he tried to suppress a tear from falling. "I was staying in the room next to his in Kalayaan. I also knew the love of his life -- the one he wrote this message for -- his roommate. And I don't think that it's a coincidence that the boy who found this message looks exactly like his roommate."
"Oh my god..." Charlie gasped. "You mean... But it's impossible..."
The old man just looked at him.
Charlie looked at the old man and said, "Was his name Carlos? The one who looked like me?"
The old man nodded. "Yes, it was," he replied. "Carlos Alva."
"It was Spook..." Charlie said almost inaudibly.
"Spook was my grandfather's true love," he said.
"Who is Spook?" asked the old man.
Charlie looked at him. "The one who wrote this message. I've been seeing him in my room."
The old man looked shocked.
"It's a long story," said Charlie. "But tell me, please, what's his real name?"
The old man sighed. "James," he said with longing in his voice. "James Michael Pratts."
1 Filipino wakes usually stretch out for days, up to a couple of weeks sometimes, and it goes on all day and all night. Most people come in at night time and won't go until daybreak. The family usually takes shifts to entertain guests, but most of them stay up all night because of the bulk of the guests during that time. back
4 In colloquial Filipino, kanto boy means 'street boy' or a boy you could always find loitering in street corners (kanto means street corner) doing nothing... or at least nothing good. In my hometown, kids actually use this coded language to communicate with each other if they don't want their parents or other adults to understand what they're talking about, not knowing, of course, that the adults have probably learned the same code when they were young. Kids usually learn Hamlo Dow from older kids, and eventually, they pass it on to younger kids. back
by Cyrus on Nifty
Just One Night
Guide to a New Life
Thanks for reading this and please watch out for all the remaining chapters. Up next is Chapter 20 - Jay.