Fixing a Broken Heart
Copyright ©2007 by Rad Steven
All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: This story is not based on real persons or events though I did take a slice from reality when it came to the setting of the story. It's fiction, period. This story must not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written consent of the owner. This story involves a homosexual protagonist. If that's not your type of story, you got a decision to make. This story may not involve sex at all, and if that's what you're looking for, I apologize. Comments are greatly appreciated.

Chapter Ten

Mike finally got released yesterday after nearly three weeks. There wasn't any permanent damage to his body, and the head trauma only gave him a bad bruise that was almost gone by now. I last saw him three days ago because I had been lucky to be there the day he came out of his coma. The whole family never left him when they learned that he woke up, so I never went back to see him again. I exchanged text messages, though, with JR everyday—yeah, we're both text whores. Mike knew that I didn't want to meet with his family yet, so he'd always greet me through text when JR's there with him.

I suddenly had this obsession of getting to know my twin, but I couldn't do anything about it. It was a huge itch begging to be scratched, almost scrubbed. I knew, though, that I shouldn't do anything if I wasn't ready yet. I wanted to be ready—I really do—but I just couldn't muster up the courage. Those people who said life is like a roller coaster were wrong. When you're in a roller coaster, there's absolutely nothing that you can do to stop it from moving forward no matter how unready you are for the next drop. Life, though, wasn't like that, I realized. In the real world, you set your own pace, and damn anything if you're too slow or too fast. I wonder when I could see him again.

I kept the scrap of paper that JR gave me the night I last saw the two of them. It contained both their addresses. The paper taunted me from my pocket, daring me to see my twin. It wasn't fair. How come the burden's all on me? I had asked Kuya Jim why Mike couldn't just stay with him. That way, I could have all the time to get to know my twin. But he told me he wouldn't find the time to take care of his brother. Sure, I would be there, but their parents didn't know that. I realized everything was all up to me if I wanted to see Mike. Or I could wait for months until the cast on my twin's leg comes off. It wasn't fair.

I remember the first time I met Kuya Jim. I felt this strong sense of familiarity towards him kind of like finding something that I've lost as a kid. It was like he had always been there with me from the start, but I failed to see him. Maybe that was what they call lukso ng dugo in Tagalog. I didn't know who he was, but my heart and soul did. Yes, that must be it. But it was nothing compared to how I felt the moment I was finally talking and merely just being in the same room with Mike. I had no idea how to describe it—the way I felt like my heart was swelling in my chest, the way tingles traveled up and down my spine, and the way my skin felt so warm. It was... otherworldly. I had never felt like it before. It was my anticipation bursting into a climax. No, it was never a tearful reunion on my part. I was nervous to meet him, but when I saw those watery eyes of his, I knew I didn't have anything to worry about. He knew about me.

I found myself believing in fate. Reasons, yes, everything happens for a reason. I felt like my whole life had been staged right from the start. It was like I only had to be myself, and everything else would fall into place. It didn't make much sense even to me, but it was the only explanation that was present in my mind. It was either that or my luck was finally returning back to normal. How do you explain Mike waking up after everyone but JR and me were left in the room? It was one of the events in my life that I could say was another turning point. Whether it was to the right or wrong direction, I didn't know. But I found myself braver, more trusting into the unknown that tomorrow would bring.

That was why when Mike showed me another direction that my life could go to, the hesitation was almost non-existent. I only made it up because I knew that I have to worry about it. If I didn't, I knew that I might get hurt. I had to have something to blame if things didn't go well, so I made my own roadblocks up.

Mike knew me so well. He knew the right words to say to push my buttons that it scared me. It was like he had spent his life preparing himself just for our reunion while I found myself walking blindly on broken shards of glass. It disconcerted me—the way he knew how to talk sense into me and figure me out.

* * * * *

I remembered arriving into an empty hospital room. No, Mike was still there, but JR wasn't. He had volunteered to sleep there every night, which favored me in a lot of ways although I haven't been with Kuya Jim quite regularly for a while back then. He understood, though. Sometimes, he would drop by the hospital and we would leave to go home together. During the nights I was with JR, we talked about everything, mostly about my biological family. They were like a curious-looking book in front of me waiting to be read. I couldn't help myself anymore, so I asked JR.

* * * * *

Ronaldo and Elizabeth Castillo—my biological parents' names. It said little about me. But, then again, I never expected it to say anything about me. I wasn't connected to them except through genes. I doubt if they even know the name I had been given.

They owned a stall in the market where they sold cooked food, fresh fishes and chickens, and vegetables. It was how they got their children through life. It was how they sent their children to school, fed, and dressed them. Mr. Castillo—I didn't even have any idea how to address him—used to be the one to carry loads for their business. At fifty-two, he still do, sometimes, when there was no one else to do it. Their children were always there to help them. His wife manned the stall and cooked the food they sell.

They had nine children in all—five sons and four daughters. I was the tenth child and the sixth boy in the family, but I had been out of their lives for fifteen years now. I wonder if my mother—the one who had given birth to me—still thinks about me. I wonder if anyone in the family still wanted to see how I'm doing now. I wonder if they still even wanted to see me. For the past few days now, I had been finding myself thinking more about them. The meeting would be inevitable. Of that, I was sure. Kuya Jim would have never recognized me had I not been Mike's identical twin. How did he know I wasn't Mike anyway? If he had been able to tell me apart from my twin, there was no doubt in my mind that anybody in the family could. Time was the only factor keeping the inevitable from happening. The place wasn't; it had never been. It's a small world, after all.

After Kuya Jim was Hilda. She was married now like her sister born after her, Sharon. I tried to remember everything JR told me but it was impossible. The second son was Chris, the proverbial black sheep of the family. He was with his current live-in girlfriend now. JR told me, though, that he was a nice guy. He would always take both Mike and him somewhere whenever it was payday. He just didn't get along with his parents and elder siblings. Nora would be graduating with a degree in secondary education this coming school year, while Kathy would be in her third year as an accounting student. Their four older brothers and sisters were helping their parents get them through school. I wonder what could have been my role in the family had I not been given up. Mark, like almost everybody here nowadays, had just finished his freshman year as a nursing student. Ian still hadn't decided which course he wanted to take, while Mike—well, Michael, actually—would be in his senior year in highschool like me.

That was about the extent of my knowledge of them. Or, at least, what I remembered of the stuffs that JR had told me over the past few days. They clearly struggled with life while I had my future cut out for me. I had been lucky, and I didn't know if I should be ashamed for still not wanting to meet them. I was curious enough to ask about them, though. Over all, I was becoming carefree over the whole thing even though I still couldn't look my parents in the eyes.

* * * * *

Mike had been in a coma for two weeks, and I saw the effects of it on Kuya Jim and JR. I really didn't know what to do. I had been more confused than anything. I didn't know what I should say or do to comfort them. I was just... there. I really wanted to help, but I felt like I was just getting in the way.

That night, though, I wondered if JR would come. I had never been there ahead of him. What if he begged off for the day and somebody else would be there with me? I knew, though, that he wouldn't do that to me, but I couldn't help but wonder. My mind, sometimes, really makes me paranoid. I guess if ever somebody else had been there that night, I wouldn't have to worry anymore about the day that I'll meet my biological family. Still, I would prefer JR. I wouldn't want to have to do things prematurely. I was still trying to build myself for that event, and I think I'm halfway there.

As I had been doing every night, I patted Mike's arm and told him to wake up. It had made JR smile the first time I did that, so I started doing it everytime I went there. I loved seeing that smile of his since I noticed he hadn't been doing a lot of it these days. Minutes passed and JR still hadn't shown himself. I barely noticed, though, that a long time had already passed because I had been so deep in thought.

"Are you thinking about him?" I heard my own voice ask, except it wasn't me who spoke. I swear I jumped out of my chair. I felt like I had just had the scare of my life complete with wide eyes and my hand on my chest feeling my heart trying to pound its way out. Remembering where I was, I couldn't turn my head towards the bed fast enough. Hallelujah!

"You're awake!" I nearly screamed the words. I couldn't even begin to describe how I was feeling at that moment, looking into my twin's eyes. He was smiling. I knew that he had to be thirsty and that those words he had said was probably more work to him than I know, but my mind wasn't on that. I wasn't thinking of anything. I was a body of emotions. My mind had seemingly shut down and left my emotions full control. That was why I was stuck on my place. But let me tell you this: I was so happy. It was the only emotion that I could identify, and it dwarfed anything else that I was feeling at that moment. "Mike."

"Zack." His voice was still hoarse, but it was a symphony like no other. His hand beckoned to me, and I was squeezing the blood out of it in a flash. The tears in his eyes made me smile. If I hadn't been so nervous about this, I was sure I would have been shedding tears too already. I was probably the crybaby of the two of us too, and I'm sure a lot of people would attest to that. How did he know my name?

"You're awake," I said again, not able to look away from my twin's eyes. I couldn't stop from smiling at him either. I couldn't describe the feeling of bliss that was filling me right then. Would it always be like this when I'm with him? Or was it just the effect of finally being with him? Either way, I knew I was having the best time ever. "Aren't you supposed to be thirsty?" I asked, remembering that he hadn't drunk any liquid for two weeks.

"I've been awake an hour ago, I think. I've drunk a lot of water then. You didn't answer my question."

"Huh? Oh..." I blushed, remembering the question that literally threw me off my chair a while ago. "I don't know who you're talking about."

"Sure, you don't." The humor in his tone was clear though his smile was weak. Physical strains. I didn't want to see him like that. "When you're in a coma, did you know that you hear a lot of things that people wouldn't normally tell you outright?"

"Aren't you supposed to be tired? You just woke up, after all."

He continued as if he didn't hear me. "JR's probably in the toilet somewhere here in the hospital. That guy just takes ten years when he shits. And when somebody's thinking about him, I imagine it takes longer."

"Okay, okay. You win!" I threw my hands up in surrender, laughing. I wonder how he could read me so well.

"Don't I always?"

"I don't know about always, Mike. We just met, remember?"

"Go for it, Zack."

Go for it. Those were the last words that he had spoken to me. I wished we could have talked more, but he fell asleep without a warning. I just sat there, holding his hand. I couldn't seem to knock the smile off my face. I knew that, by saying I was looking at the face of an angel, a lot of people would call me narcissistic, but I would take that risk. Did you know how much my internal turmoil was relieved after that brief first conversation with my twin? He had cured something inside of me, although what, I didn't know. I felt good because of him, and maybe, that should be all that should matter.

Go for it. I realized that, for all of my life, I had never once done something that I have decided on my own. Sure, I had opened doors, but I never walked into them. I stayed outside looking into them until someone pushes me into the door I'd opened. Max had when I had that falling out with Arvin. My best friend also had when I was undecided about going to see Kuya Jim. Of course, Kuya Brian had a lot of times that I couldn't even remember any of them anymore because I had always taken them for granted. Now, Mike pushed me into another door that I was hesitant to go into.

Go for it. What did he mean? Did he say JR wasn't his boyfriend? Was JR gay like me? Was he gay too? How did he know I was gay? Oh, right... never never never tell something that you don't want a comatosed twin to get you back on later. He didn't even bother to blackmail me with it. I knew though that I had never told him about my, er, developing feelings for his best friend, so how did he... The bastard! He was taking a shot in the dark! I wonder how I could find him so different from me when even JR could only point out one difference between the two of us. JR... How could I go for it? What would I do? I hope this door would be another world of good even though I was my usual worrying self. What can I say? It's chronic. I couldn't help it.

* * * * *

I was still holding Mike's hand when JR arrived. I didn't want to ask where he came from because I didn't want to know if what Mike said about JR's toilet habits was true. My face felt awfully hot in the air-conditioned room, and I was glad that JR was too excited about something to notice my blush. He was grinning the biggest grin I've seen from him since the moment I met him. I returned it for the same reason he was grinning at me.

"Zack! Mike woke up!"

"I know," I told him, grinning.

"Well, he kind of begged the doctors not to tell everybody yet until tomorrow," he said, and I was surprised. I hadn't thought of that. Mike had told me that he had woken up earlier, but I was too out of it to worry about the whole family storming into his room after being contacted that my twin had finally come out of his coma. I was once again in awe of him. How did he know just what to do? I didn't want to think that he did it for me, but I couldn't do anything else.

JR continued. "We had a long talk. He never listens to me, you know. I kept repeating that he should go rest but he wouldn't. He wore himself out talking."

"I figure that's because he'd been sleeping for two weeks now. I mean, if I were in a coma for two weeks I wouldn't want to go back to sleep either," I said, rambling now. "I got to talk to him too but he fell asleep not long after."

There was an awkward pause, and the first time at that. I had never been awkward with JR before, and this one was so severe it was startling. Neither one of us knew what to say or do. I was fidgeting around, nervous because of the detail of my conversation with Mike that I had left out. I wasn't sure about JR, but that was the reason why I was suddenly awkward around him. We gave each other weak smiles. I could only take so much so I decided to break the silence. I had no idea what to say so I started with what came to my mind first.

"Mike..." we both started to say at the same time. Double awkwardness.

"Ah... hehe... sorry," I said, "Um, where have you been?" I nearly smacked myself right there. Not thinking, yeah, I know. It was the only thing on the surface of my mind, and my tongue plucked it right out.

JR laughed. Uh oh. I stared at him curiously. "Bathroom, shitting my brains out."

"The bastard was right," I muttered.

"Bastard who?"

"Him," I said, pointing at my twin. I wonder if he could still hear me though he's already out of his coma now. Probably not. I don't hear things when I'm asleep, after all. "He said it takes you ten years when you take a crap."

"That sounded like him, alright." Red. It was all that I could think of, looking at JR's face. He doesn't blush easily, but when he does, you'll see him ten miles away. His face glares when he blushes. "That's why I didn't use the bathroom in here. Besides, from what I had for lunch I had a hunch it would smell toxic. I was right."

"Are we really talking about your shit?" I tried to say because I was laughing.

"Better than nothing, Zack," he said with a grin that I couldn't figure out the meaning of. "We probably won't see each other again for some time soon. Here." He handed me a scrap of paper. "The one on top is Mike's. Bottom's mine. I also bought something while I was out." He got a permanent marker out of his pocket, and I knew right then what kind of person he really was.

"Thank you." I nearly choked up. I was all of a sudden Mr. Emo again. He bought a permanent marker just so I could sign Mike's cast! He knew I wouldn't be around anymore, and he wanted me to at least leave my mark on the cast. I took the marker from him and made my way towards the other side of the bed. I wrote, "SOON - Z." It was perfect, and it wouldn't raise any question to whoever would read it. I really hope things would turn for the better—soon. I returned the marker to JR and thanked him again. "You're a good friend, JR. I like you."

JR fell silent. His face turned emotionless like a blank screen. I was subtle there, wasn't I? I wasn't worried though because, somehow, I got the feeling that there was another reason for his blanking out on me. "You're a good friend too, Zack, and I like you too. But I shouldn't let you... um... there's something about me that you don't know, and it doesn't seem right for me to enjoy your company without telling you the truth about myself." Okay, I can see it already. He's gonna tell me he's gay! I was becoming nervous by the second. I didn't know why though. I wasn't the one coming out. "Mike told me it's alright to tell you. He told me I should tell you."

I looked at him as he spoke. His eyes were going everywhere—to me then somewhere in the room, then to me again. He was nervous too, I realized. What a shocker. "I never thought you could be nervous with anything," I said, smiling. "I always thought you could put a daredevil to shame."

"You're not helping, you know. It's just that I don't really tell people outright although I don't try to hide it either." Alright, now he's making me really anxious. "I'm not ashamed of it, but I..."

"Just tell me, JR. What is it? I promise I'll stay calm no matter what," I said, not able to help myself anymore.

"I wet the bed."

I blinked. I blinked again. "What?" I managed to ask before bursting out into laughter. Loud. I had to restrain myself because a nurse poked her head in to shush me. JR sat there looking all proud of himself. Damn, I didn't see that. "You wet the bed, so what?"

"Mike thought that you should know in case we'll be sharing the bed in the future." Double damn. Can you imagine getting a bucket of ice cold water dumped on you while jacking off? I felt worse than that. Sure, I was hoping he'd tell me he was gay, but I never expected him to say what he just said. He did say somewhere in there that he liked me, right? "Aren't you gonna say something, Zack?"

"Do you mind, uh, paraphrasing what you just said?"

"I like you, Zack. Like I-wanna-marry-you kind of like."

"Whoa! That's exaggerating it too much. But thanks, I got the point."

"Well, uh, what do you think?"

"I don't know what to think, JR, honestly."

"What about 'do you think you like me that way too?' Or should I just stop myself from falling... from feeling this way towards you?"

God. He almost said it. "I don't know, JR. Do you really like me? Or Mike?" He hesitated to answer. "I don't want to be a substitute, JR."

"You won't be because I really like you. I had feelings for Mike, but that was in the past. No matter how much you look like each other, you're different. Too different. I don't know how to describe you. But you're not Mike."

His eyes burned with a passion, and I almost told him I like him too knowing those eyes burned for me. But I was scared. Of what, I didn't know. I couldn't decide. No, not now. "I'll... I'll think about it, JR. I'm sorry," I said, and I really was sorry.

* * * * *

I had thought about it every second. It consumed me. It worried me. But I kept thinking about it because... I liked him too. I didn't know why I was stopping myself. Just stupid, I guess. No matter what Mike said, I still couldn't help but worry, and I didn't know why. I didn't know why I was doing this to myself. I had always dreamed about having someone to love, but now that he was in front of me, I was listing all the cons down to the least.

Why was I doing this to myself?

I didn't know, but I would stop it. I wanted to. I would stop thinking about the whole thing altogether and just take the plunge. There's no way to stop falling once you jump out of the plane. I know that was a bad example, but it was the best that I could think of. Once I cross that line, there would be no turning back anymore. I shouldn't be afraid. I got a lot of people in my life to fall back to. That, I knew.

The scrap of paper burned no more in my pocket. I had made a decision. Tomorrow.

Yeah, Mike, I'll go for it. Definitely.

Author's Note:
Heya Guys! I couldn't think of a more unique way to say this, but here goes. THANK YOU! I have always been a feedback fiend, but who isn't? Thanks a lot to those who wrote and put up with me with this sorry excuse for a story that I write. It has been a great experience. Really great. And that's all thanks to all of you. I may write good stories but if nobody reads them, then it's all a waste of time. But you guys proved to me that I'm not wasting my time, and I am so grateful for that.

Anyway, about the lukso ng dugo... Literally, it means "the jump of the blood." It's an expression in Tagalog that's used to describe the feeling when you feel something extraordinary when you meet someone for the first time. Your heart beat harder for just one beat and you felt your blood quickening. There's this sense of kinship that you feel for the person even though you just met him. That's basically what the expression meant. Sorry if I didn't explain it enough for you guys because it's really hard to explain.

Again, I encourage you to drop me a line if you've got the chance or join the thread for this story that I created at Gay Authors. Here's the link:

Fixing a Broken Heart Discussion Thread
Feedback is the only payment us online writers receive. And it's nice to know if we are loved or hated.

Take care all of you!

Yours truly,
Rad Steven