Fixing a Broken Heart
Copyright 2007 by Rad Steven
All Rights Reserved
nevetsdar@hotmail.com
 
Disclaimer: Resemblance to any person, living or dead, is only coincidence, as are resemblances to places and anything  in this story that might have the slightest resemblance to anything in the universe. This is fiction, though not at its finest. No part of this story may be reproduced without the author's written consent. This story is intended for adult audiences. If you're under eighteen, you need parental guidance while reading this. Comments are gold.
 

 
Chapter Twelve

I watched Mom as she ran up the stairs until my vision got blurred from the rush of tears. My mouth flapped soundlessly in an effort to will myself to call her back to me, but even that proved to be hard as the seconds ticked by. My lips quivered as I tried to keep myself from sobbing, and I found myself squeezing the hell out of my thighs, holding my breath to try to quell the urge to just collapse crying. "Mom," I finally croaked out, but it was too late. She was already gone. I heard her shut the door to their room upstairs. She didn’t slam it, but she might as well have to my face. I knew it. I knew I was going to lose her because I was gay.

I felt hands covering my own as they clutch at my shorts. I turned to find Dad kneeling in front of me, and I couldn’t help it anymore. I just buried my head on his shoulders and cried, my arms hugging his neck. I could feel the rejection doubling. I was never their son, and now that they knew I was gay, there was no way they would still have anything to do with me. I felt more than heard Dad whispering into my ears. I could only guess what he was saying to me. It slowly dawned on me that my dad still loved me, and that just made me cry harder. I felt his hands rubbing up and down my back, and I could finally hear him whispering "shhh" over and over again.

"She would understand, Zack," I heard him say, "Just give her a little time."

My dad didn’t leave me. He was here. He was hugging me. He was trying to make me feel better. And knowing he was here with me made me feel a little secured. I still had him regardless of my sexuality. What was so different about it with my mom? After they had lied to me for more than fifteen years about who I really was, she was treating me like I had done something much worse to her. Shouldn’t she be the one to understand me more? Why did she leave me like that?

Dread crept up my spine, and I couldn’t deny the anger that accompanied it, thinking of that question. Why did she leave me?

"Dad," I started to ask. I couldn’t figure out which emotion it was that was playing with my voice—dread or anger. "Is that what you want me to do?" I couldn’t stop myself. Something inside me screamed no, but something else—something much stronger—controlled me. I felt like something inside me was unleashed, and I realized later what it was: bitterness. There was no stopping now. "Is that what you want me to do when you finally tell me you’re not really my parents?" I was nearly shaking. I felt so mad tears sprung up my eyes again and rolled down my face like a rushing river. The tears just kept coming fast. I asked, my voice shaking, "Do you want me to leave too?"

Dad stayed kneeling in front of me, stunned, frozen. Both of his eyes were shaped like an o. His hands on mine slackened, and I stood up. I didn’t know what was coming over me anymore. Dad’s mouth opened and closed. He must be shocked. How the hell was I supposed to know that I was adopted? I walked away from them, up the stairs, and into my room. I locked the door and lied face down on my bed. I didn’t know what just happened. I didn’t know what I just did. I didn’t know if I had just destroyed my life tonight.

I hope I hadn’t just destroyed my relationship with Brian.

That brief glance of him that I caught as I went up the stairs would be forever imprinted on my mind. He looked like he was about to get sick. He was leaning forward from the waist up. His hands gripped both sides of the couch, and he was just staring at the coffee table, his mouth wide open. He didn’t even look at me. What could he have been thinking about? What did he think about me? I didn’t want to lose him too.

I felt desperate.

* * * * *

I didn’t know how long I was asleep, but the banging on my door woke me up. I sat up, shaking the sleep away. Muffled, I could still recognize Brian’s voice, yelling for me to open the door. It made my heart beat faster. Either he still wanted me or he couldn’t believe he had been good to me when all along I deserved nothing from him. I guess I would know the answer soon. I knew, though, that nothing would ever be the same again, and it’s all my fault.

The moment I turned the knob to open the door, Brian burst in so fast he nearly ran me over. I didn’t even realize it that I was being hugged to my death until I remembered that I had to breathe. He loosened up the hug when I tried to pry his arms off of me, but he never let me go. I was sure he could feel the way my heart was beating so hard and fast. My arms just hang limply on my sides. I wanted to hug him back, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to say to him either. I was just... I felt tired. Of everything. I just wanted it all to end. I wanted to know the verdict. I wanted to have peace with everything. But I didn’t know what to do. I laid my head on his shoulder, facing away from him, and wondered what could be going through his mind. I wanted to see his face, but I was scared of what I might see. I waited for him to break the silence.

"I’m so sorry, Zack," were his first words. His voice was hoarse like he had been crying, but I dare not look at his face. I almost started crying with the way he said it. I wanted to interpret it like he was sorry for pushing me like that, like he was sorry I was adopted. But no. It was said in a way that that was just what he was—sorry. In my mind, it was the kind of sorry that meant Brian would rather he be the one to be in my place. A couple of deep breaths took care of my near-drowning emotions.

"I shouldn’t have pushed you into coming out, and now I’m just so sorry because I didn’t know you’ve been going through a lot. Dad told me everything." He paused. Something seemed caught in his throat. "I wish you’ve told me, Zack. Why didn’t you?" My tears chose to answer him. I just couldn’t open my mouth without breaking down. Why didn’t I? Didn’t he know why? Didn’t he know I was afraid he’d feel different towards me? Didn’t he know that I was afraid I’d lose him? Maybe it meant nothing to him, but from the moment I had known about it, it had meant everything to me.

A lot of things changed for me when I found out I was adopted. Brian’s company became more important. I treasured all the time that we spend with each other, and sleeping with him was gold to me. Brian became so much more to me than what I’ve already made of him. I guarded our relationship with each other from the rusts that would destroy it. And I knew that me being adopted was much more than just a rust. I wouldn’t know what I’d do if Brian would look at me differently one day. I wouldn’t know what I’d do if he would one day think that I wasn’t worth all the effort he’d put into all these years. All that just because I wasn’t his real brother.

But how do I tell him that?

"Kuya," I said. I could barely hear my voice, but I knew he heard me when he squeezed me into himself. I fumbled for words; they just wouldn’t come easily. It felt like I was trying to hold water in my hands. But I fumbled harder. I wanted to tell him how scared I was to lose him. I wanted to tell him how much I’m going to try harder just to be like his real brother if he’ll only just keep me. But I just didn’t know how to express myself. I forgot about that, though, when in the midst of thinking, something came to me, and I knew that I have to ask Brian about it. Now.

"What do you think about me?"

For weeks, I had felt so insecure about myself thinking of the time when Brian would finally find out that I was adopted. I had wondered about what it would change between us. I had wondered about the first thing that Brian would do, what he would not do, what he would say and the things he wouldn’t say. I had been a hostage of my own paranoia, and I knew that only Brian could save me from myself. I think too much, I knew that. I had a lot of questions. I guess I would know my answer now.

"I love you, Zack," he replied, and if I hadn’t been crying a while ago, I was now. Wasn’t that how it happens books and in movies? I understood now why they did. I felt something—I didn’t know what it was—released inside of me. It was like I had trouble breathing before, but I could breathe fine now, much finer. And the tears actually didn’t hurt. There was light everywhere I turn, and music flowed into my ears. So this was the other side of hurt. I couldn’t say bliss; it was much more than that. Maybe heaven. I just felt so light, so unburdened.

But somehow, I wouldn’t be myself if I had no doubt in my body at all. "But I’m not your brother," I told Brian, still looking away from him. Yes, he loved me, and I wanted that. But I wanted more to be his brother. I wanted more for him to be my kuya, and saying he loved me wouldn’t change the fact that I was adopted. We didn’t have the same mother and father. We were only friends deluded into a false relationship.

Brian chuckled. "You are my brother. We may not have the same blood, but we are brothers. You don’t have to have the same genes that I have, Zack. We grew up as brothers, and we are brothers. And you’re wrong. Who had been your parents all these years? Mom and Dad. Have they ever treated you differently from me? In fact, they buy you things more than they did me. Mom makes all those graham cakes for you, and Dad always takes you somewhere. Don’t take me wrong, Z. I’m not jealous of any of those things. But you have to see that they love you too like I do. Don’t you love them too?"

"I do," I said, sobbing on his shoulders now. He led me by the shoulders to my bed, peeled my T-shirt off of me, and took his off too.

"Come on. I’ll sleep with you tonight." He pulled me down next to him on my bed and put an arm over my chest. I turned to face him and returned his embrace, burying my face on his chest. "I’ll sleep with you every night until you got that idea that you’re not my brother out of your head. I just hope it wouldn’t last for ten years ‘cause you’ll have to sleep with me and Sheila, and I know she wouldn’t like that." I chuckled despite the tears.

"Kuya? Can I kiss you?" I asked, blushing in the dark. I just felt so much—I don’t know—love? I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling. All I could say was that I had never felt better. It felt like there were millions of bubbles of awesome feelings that kept bursting inside of me, and it was so damn good. I felt so warm inside, and I just wanted to let it out. Kissing Brian was all I could think of to do that.

Brian laughed before responding back to me. "Sure, just not on the lips."

I kissed his cheek and went back to my spot on his chest. I sighed. I felt so good inside. "Thanks, Kuya. I love you so much too."

I closed my eyes and hoped that I’d wake up tomorrow after my parents are gone. I wondered what they would do now after I had changed everything in one night. I still had Brian, but that wasn’t enough. I needed my parents. I needed them to tell me what to do. I needed them to scold me when I did something wrong. I needed their praises and approval on things I enjoyed doing. I needed them to send me to school, wake me up when my alarm clock couldn’t do the job. I needed them to guide me as I grow up. I needed them to be my parents. But I kept myself from hoping too much of those things happening again after everything that was said tonight.

It was too much, even for me. I had started it, but I couldn’t see myself going to them and asking for things to be back to the way they’ve always been before. I had thought I hated them, but now that I’ve told Dad the things that had been going through my mind during the past weeks, I realized that I was desperate for them. I was desperate for their approval now more than ever. I was desperate to be recognized as their son—even though only on the outside, because I knew deep inside me that I’d never be their son no matter what they would say. I felt like I had to do something to earn my place in the family, and I desperately needed them to tell me that I was getting there.

Now, I wasn’t so sure of that anymore.

* * * * *

I was nearly asleep when someone opened the door to my room and light went in from the hall. The sleep that was taking over me was gone instantly. "It’s Mom," I heard Brian whisper. I didn’t know he was still awake. The door closed, and the lamp on my desk next to the bed was turned on. I still didn’t move, my eyes fixed on the darkness on the other side of the room and my cheek against Brian’s chest. I felt Mom sit near my head and felt her fingers comb my hair. My thoughts raced against each other, all of them hopeful. I couldn’t help myself anymore. I turned around and looked up at my mom’s face, my back against Brian. The embarrassment I thought I would feel if ever my mom walks in on us sleeping together wasn’t present at the moment.

My mind kept wandering, but my mom’s hand caressing my head made sure I didn’t lose myself in my thoughts and fall asleep. I waited and waited, and I didn’t know that it would feel good waiting. Maybe I didn’t need an answer anymore, my mom was here and she hadn’t said "no" yet. Did silence always mean yes? At least, she came back to me. Dad was right; she just needed a little time. I wasn’t so sure about myself, though. She wasn’t my mother, but I called her mom. Did you know that it hurts so much to know that your mom is not your mother? I didn’t know what she’s here for, but she’s here and that’s all that matters right now.

"You know," Mom started. "I should’ve listened to your dad. He had always told me that we should tell you that you were adopted before you find out about it yourself. Now it’s too late. Your dad said it would be better for you to grow up knowing that you’re adopted, but I never listened to him." Her hand continued caressing my head. She wiped a tear with the other. "We were married for five years before we had your kuya. I have always wanted kids, and when someone told us about you, I knew we should adopt you. But I was scared you’d want to be with your biological family more if you knew they were your real family, so I kept you away from them despite promising them that we would keep you in contact with them." She was crying now. I sat up with tears of my own, put my arms around her, and laid my head on her shoulders. "I’m so sorry, Zack."

I realized that she was far different now from the memories I’ve had of her. I was bigger than her now. Before this moment, she had always been that big woman in my life—the one who slaved me around, the one who held my hands that first day I had to go to school, the one who nursed me when I got sick, the one who spanked my butt when I did something nasty. She had always been a big figure in my life that I had come to associate it with the physical too. She had always treated me like a little boy, and I had always acted like her little boy. Now I realized that that wouldn’t happen anymore, and I also realized that she was smaller now than I had ever known her. And I knew in my gut why.

"I don’t want to leave you, Mom. I’m just afraid you would want me to."

"Why would you think that?"

"Because I’m gay and I’m not your real son," I said, starting to cry again. It was a good thing that she couldn’t see my face, my head being on her shoulder, as I started to feel self-conscious with all the crying that I was doing

"Zack, I’m so sorry I made you think that way. If I could just do that all over again..." I felt her breath on the back of my neck as she sighed wistfully, and at that moment, I knew that I was really lucky to have her as my mom. I knew that it wasn’t easy to admit your mistake to someone younger, much more so to your son. She was accepting me, and it hit me like rain, drenching me and washing away the pains of rejection. All my worries about my family’s reaction on my sexuality disappeared without a trace. They were all okay about it now, and I really felt a big weight lifted off my shoulders.

"I’m sorry, Zack. I just want you to believe that you’ll always be my son. I don’t know how I could convince you, but that’s my fault for not listening to your dad. I shouldn’t have kept the truth from you. I know it would take you a while, but I just want to tell you that I don’t have to carry you in my womb for nine months for you to be my son. It’s what I feel in my heart that matters not whether we have the same blood."

"That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him," I heard Brian say from behind me.

Mom gently disentangled my arms from her and put both her hands on my shoulders, looking into my eyes. "I love you, Zack, and I hope you forgive me."

"I forgive you, Mom. I love you too."

"I’ll ask for your forgiveness too, son, for keeping the truth from you," Dad’s voice said from behind me. I whirled around, surprised that I didn’t notice him come in. "Just remember that you are nothing but my son."

"I’m sorry too, Dad, for the things I said."

He smiled and patted my cheek. "We all make mistakes, Zack. Just remember that admitting it is the first step to forgiveness. Although we’re you’re parents it doesn’t mean that we always do the right things... I love you, son, no matter what."

Solid. It was all I could think of as we broke our group hug at two in the morning. Mom kissed Brian and me both before she and Dad stepped out of the room. They still had to leave at six a.m. for the airport tomorrow. I melted into my brother in the darkness of my room and slept—for the first time in weeks—a dreamless peaceful sleep. I couldn’t believe the happiness that I felt that moment. I felt like it replaced my blood. I felt like it was everything that my heart was pumping to all the parts of my body. I felt like it was everything that I was breathing in, and there was nothing to exhale. I felt like I own the world, and maybe in a sense, I did. I couldn’t have three people I love accepting me as I am and not say that I have everything, not to mention everyone else who I consider important in my life.

When we woke up next morning, our parents were already gone. We found an envelope on the kitchen table containing five thousand pesos with a note to take care and clean the house while they were gone.

* * * * *

Everyone I ran into was either greeting or staring at me. Maybe it was a wrong idea to come see JR at his house. It looked like the whole neighborhood recognized me. I waved back when a guy at a basketball court waved at me. I tried to quicken my pace into an I’m-in-a-hurry-so-please-leave-me-alone pace, but nobody seemed to notice. People still stopped to greet me. Some were surprised that I could walk already; some told me that the haircut was nice. I smiled everytime because that seemed to work even though I had little to say to them. Wow! Mike seemed to be popular around here.

At the same time I heard someone squeal "Kuya," I felt a weight crash against my back and arms wrap around my waist. I turned to find a boy with big black eyes and a blinding smile looking back at me. I smiled back at him the same smile I gave those who mistook me for Mike and more because he was so damn adorable. I pried his arms from my waist then knelt down in front of him. Have you ever met a kid who you wanted to hug the hell out of at first meeting? I had, but I restrained myself.

"What’s your name?" I asked.

The boy frowned. "But you know my name."

I looked around to see if anybody would hear me. No one was near. "Do you want to know a secret?" He nodded vigorously and smiled widely again. I felt my lips being stretched to my ears. He leaned in, eager to hear what I would tell him. "I’m not Mike. I’m his twin," I whispered to him.

The boy’s eyes grew wide. "But you look like Kuya Mike!"

"That’s right. Because I’m his twin."

"Then why aren’t you attached to him?"

I almost laughed, but I remembered that I was talking to a kid. "Because we were separated when we were born." His face turned thoughtful the way only a kid’s face could, like he was really contemplating everything I told him. "So will you tell me your name?"

"I’m Jed," he said, thrusting his hand in front of me. I took and shook it.

"I’m Zack." I stood up and grinned down at him. "It’s nice to meet you, Jed. But I gotta go."

"Where are you going?"

"I’m going to JR’s place. Do you know him?"

"Yeah, he’s your best friend. Oops! I mean he’s Kuya Mike’s best friend."

"That’s right. Well, see you around, Jed." I patted his shoulder and turned to go, feeling bad to leave the kid behind.

"Wait!" I turned back to him. "Do you know where he lives?"

"Hehe... well, no," I told him sheepishly, "But I have his address."

"I know where he lives. I can walk with you there," he said confidently.

I wanted to seize his hands and start walking already, but I got to ask him something first. "Won’t your parents look for you?"

"They just gave me permission to go to the playground."

"Ok... I’d like that, Jed. Come on." I took his hand, and we walked together. I had a bright smile on my face like he did. "How old are you, Jed?"

"I’m eight years old," he said proudly.

"That’s cool. I’m fifteen."

One thing I noticed was that the houses in the neighborhood all kind of looked the same. Some had trees, some painted a different color, some had fences, but they all looked the same if they were stripped of all those things. Jed pointed out to me the houses where his friends live. He was so enthusiastic about everything we saw, and he really, really got to me. I liked him a lot. I’d really come back here just to see him again. He had me laughing a lot of times talking about his neighbors. You would be surprised how much gossip he knows. He said he hears their next door neighbor always spouting off about everybody.

"I don’t like his mom," he said.

"Whose mom?"

"Kuya JR’s. She’s mean, and she cusses a lot. My mom always covers my ear everytime she talks."

"How about JR? Do you like him?"

"I like him and Kuya Mike a lot. They’re cool!"

"How about me?"

"I like you too."

It’s amazing how that simple statement from Jed made me feel like my heart was swelling. He was the kind of kid that could brighten anyone’s day. Anytime. I hope he stays that way forever. We finally reached a house that matched the address that JR told me was his. I felt sad, letting go of Jed’s hand.

"Thanks for walking with me, Jed."

"Thank you, too," he said.

"For what?" I asked curiously.

"For walking with me."

I laughed. "Well, I gotta go see if JR’s there now. You want some candies?"

"Yeah! But I don’t want my teeth to look like Eric’s."

After the walk I had with him, I refrained myself from asking who Eric was. It would take forever. Of course, it wouldn’t be anything but good with all the laughter and all, but I was anxious to see JR. Just thinking of seeing him again was making my heart jump irregularly inside my chest.

"Well, here," I said, handing Jed five pesos, "Buy yourself candies or whatever you want. I’ll see you again, Jed."

"Bye!" Jed sauntered off, looking back at me once in a while. I watched him walk away with a smile on my face. I would definitely see him again.

I walked up to the door of JR’s house, unable to decide whether my heart was pounding hard or speeding up. Probably both. I took the deepest breath that I could and knocked on the door. I heard the radio coming from inside but nobody answered. I knocked again. This time I heard a woman yell, "You son of a bitch, get the door!" If that was JR’s mother, Jed was right. She’s definitely mean. I heard some shuffling before the door finally opened.

My throat immediately tightened when my eyes found JR’s. For a few seconds, we stood there, looking into each other’s eyes. Or at least, I stood there, looking into his eyes. And I was lost in those black pools, frozen on my spot. I would probably get lost too looking at his ears, or nose, or... I shook my head, clearing my thoughts. I looked at him from head to foot. Well, okay, I checked him out. I smiled at him, trying to give him a hint of what was going through my mind right now. He smiled back, but he seemed clueless about my thoughts.

"Was that your mom? Does she know that she just called herself a bitch?" I asked, not thinking again, but I was desperate to talk to him and that just came out.

JR frowned at me for the first time that I could remember. "Did you come here to tell me that?"

"Sorry," I said immediately. But then, a mischievous thought popped in my mind. "I came here to tell the son of that bitch that I like him too. Like I-wanna-marry-him kind of like."

I watched his face lose the frown and brighten up. His eyes grew wide. "JR, I..." I started to say, but I never got to finish it. JR grabbed my wrist and yanked me inside the door, and I couldn’t stop myself from bursting into laughter right there. I barely noticed the interior of his house or the lady that had parked herself in front of the TV just as we turned to a hall. JR was pulling me somewhere. He went into a room and yanked me in, then slammed the door and pushed me against it. I couldn’t stop laughing.

He grabbed me by the ears and planted his warm lips to mine. And God, I thought I went to heaven. It was almost by instinct that my arms wrapped themselves around JR’s back. I pulled him into me, but it was never enough. Maybe our minds were connected somehow because, as I was about to lick his lips, they parted and his tongue met mine. And if mouths could have orgasms, mine had had ten already from that contact alone. I felt JR’s hands drop to the back of my neck, and that added more to my ecstasy. My neck burned with excitement, feeling JR’s skin against mine. I wanted to inhale him. I wanted to swallow him. I wanted him. My tongue roamed the insides of his mouth, instantly and forever addicted to his taste. I lost myself in all the sensation that was going on in my mouth. We broke the kiss eventually and panted against each other’s face, his warm breath thrilling my skin. Forehead to forehead, nose to nose, lips almost touching, we grinned at each other.

JR dropped to his knees in front of me and stared at my hard-on, making it jump. He took my hand to his, looked up and into my eyes, and said, "Zacarias Ocampo, will you be my boyfriend?"

I felt my own hands squeezing JR’s hands as if they were a separate part of me and far, far away. I felt so out of it hearing JR say that. I knew that, from the moment I had decided to see him, I was going to be his boyfriend, but hearing those words from his lips still made my whole being soar. I knelt down in front of him. "Don’t you think it’s too late for that question?"

"It is, but I haven’t asked you yet, so I asked."

"After that kiss, I’d do anything you want." We grinned at each other again.

"What about Arvin?"

I was thrown out of the mood immediately. Not because of the feelings I still have for my best friend—they’ll always be there, I guess—but because I was confused of his question. "What about Arvin?" I asked him back. But I remembered the time when Arvin met him, and I suddenly knew why. I sat down on the floor, resting my back against the door and grinning widely at JR. "You’re jealous of him? He’s got a boyfriend, and we already settled with each other that we’ll be best friends for life."

Scratching his head sheepishly, he sat down next to me, our backs against the door. "Hehe... sorry... it’s just that the way you were looking at him when you brought him with you that day... I couldn’t help it."

"That’s okay, JR. My turn. What about Mike? Is he gay?"

"I dunno. He likes everything. Maybe he’s bi," he said, "Any feelings I have for us getting it on are already left in the past. There’s only you for me now, Zack."

I chuckled nervously. "Is it too early for me to say that I’m falling in love with you?"

"I was thinking about asking you the same thing."

Our eyes met, and I smiled at him. I hoped it was seductive enough. He smiled back at me. We leaned in towards each other, and I shuddered feeling his lips on mine again. The kiss started out softly. In a matter of seconds, we were passionately making out on the floor with me on top, grinding our hips together. I took his hands and put them against my ear when I heard the bitch in the living room yelling for JR. "You really are a son of a bitch," I muttered against his lips.

His whole body vibrated as he chuckled under me. "She’s not my mother. She’s my dad’s second wife. But yeah, she’s a bitch. Only my dad likes her."

* * * * *

"Happy birthday to you!" they sang, "Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday! Happy birthday! Happy birthday to you!"

Mike and I blew the candles on the cake, and everybody cheered.

We were all at Kuya Jim’s apartment, celebrating. My biological family—parents, siblings, nephews, and nieces—were all present. I would not go through the trouble of narrating how our first meeting went, but I would summarize it into one sentence. It was weird. They were all shocked and awkward even though they had the benefit of having the whole neighborhood recognize me, but everything’s good now. My mom and dad took a flight after their last meeting for today to be here, and I was so glad they did. They handled meeting my biological family gracefully. If they were uncomfortable around them, they never showed it to me. Brian was being himself and had already made buddies out of Mark and Ian. He brought Sheila, his girlfriend, with him. Arvin and Max were here too, with presents, of course. Both of them, along with Mike who hobbled with his crutches, were smiling at me like I had just lost my virginity, which was still a complete fantasy. JR was on the other side of the room, eating and talking with the kids. I really wanted to get him somewhere deserted and make out with him. Everything was turning out to be a blast!

I approached Mike who was sitting on a couch, resting his hands on his crutch. "Hey, Mike. You wanna ride on the wheel chair? Go outside?"

He stood up. "No. I can do it with my crutches. Come on. It’s getting hot in here."

"Take off all your clothes then."

"Sometimes, I’m really not so sure if we’re twins."

"Just wait until you go for a ride on your wheel chair. You’ll be really sure by then."

"Ha! You’d like that, wouldn’t you?"

We went out the door, and no one was there as I had expected. I helped him sit on the sidewalk. Then, I took a black pouch out of my wallet, and gave it to Mike. "Happy sixteenth, Mike."

"Happy sixteenth to you too," he said, handing me a similar pouch. I looked at him in surprise. "What? You think you’re the only one who thought of giving a gift?"

"Well, yeah."

"You’ll find that I always think ahead," he said, grinning, "Of you, especially."

"Don’t sit on your wheel chair with me around," I threatened. "I gave you a necklace. You want me to put it on you?"

"You just want to choke me."

"I’m not kidding, Mike."

"Okay, put it on me."

He gave me back the pouch, and I took out a silver necklace with ankh as a pendant. I had wanted it for myself because it looked so cool. Like a stickman with no legs. I put it on him, fumbling with the lock for a while, then, leaned back to inspect how it looked on him. I was right. It looked so cool! I gave him his pouch, and then turned my back to him so he could put his gift on me much easier. The pendant on his gift to me was an anchor, and I liked it too. I turned around to face him again. We thanked each other.

"Another evidence that I think ahead of you," Mike said, "Ankh, anchor... one syllable, Zack. But it makes a difference."

I rolled my eyes at him. "Come on. Let’s go inside already." I stood up, grinning, and made my way to the door.

"Hey, help me up here!"

"Nah... you’re better than me."

"No. You’re better than me."

"You’re learning," I said, helping him up.

"That was almost blackmail."

"I know," I said, hugging him from behind.

"That feels nice, Zack."

"I know."

We stepped into the apartment, and a camera blinded us for a while. I helped Mike into one of the couches, then, went to look for my boyfriend, feeling a spring in my steps. Looking around the apartment, I realized that all the people that I would ever need in my life—and more—are here. Mom, Dad, Kuya Brian, Kuya Jim, Mike, Arvin, Max—heck—even Sheila, everybody—we’re all a family now. I consider them all a family. Just like what my mom said, "It’s what I feel in my heart that matters, not whether we have the same blood." And I definitely know what I feel in my heart. I want to keep them all. I went through a lot of pains to have them, and I would go through a lot of pains before I lose them.

I finally found the most important person in my life right now. "JR."

"Hey, babe," he whispered, "I love you."

He probably thought he’d surprise me again.

"I love you too," I whispered back. "And if you’ll marry me, I’ll start inviting all these people."


 Afterword

I don't even know where to begin thanking you guys who have supported me in writing this story. I didn't know what I was thinking when  I started writing the first chapter of this story. All I know was that I have a story, and I wanted to tell it. The encouragement I received from your emails was awesome! I know there are a lot of good authors out there, but your emails made me feel like I was the best. For the feedbacks that you have sent my way, good or bad, I am deeply grateful.

I have learned a lot, writing this story. One is that if I wanted feedback, then not only should I do my best, but I should also write any author whose work I had enjoyed. Another concerns personal issues. I know I am much different now than before I wrote this story. And I hope that, if I had ever changed someone's life with this story, it would be for the better.

I know a lot thought, at the beginning, that this story would be another romance. I'm sorry if some were disappointed. This is still a love story, though not a romantic love story. This is a story of how true love could do wonders in the middle of a painful experience. I know the title wasn't much, but it's all I could come up with. And I think it fits because this is a story of how love fixes a broken heart.

Yes, folks, there are no more chapters coming.

One more thing. I'd like to thank every single one of you, readers, for putting up with all my Tagalog terms. I hope it did not get in the way of anybody's reading.

Thank you once again, and I hope not for the last time.

Rad Steven

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