Chapter I: The day after Christmas

"Jon are you with me?" Marc said as he poked me with his free hand while navigating his car in the busy highway. "Hey, you've been like this ever since you got in the car, what's wrong?" He then started to tickle me to no avail.

I snapped out of my trance and seated myself properly on the passenger seat exhaling a deep breath that I didn't even know I was holding. "Sorry, I'm just not feeling well these days." I sighed and resigned myself to open up to him before he even think of interrogating me in front of the rest of the guys when we meet them later. "I have this feeling that there is something bound to go wrong before the year ends." I expressed as I busied myself searching for the Tamia cd that I know is hidden somewhere.

"Like what do you think will happen within the next couple of days? God forbid you'll run out of bed mates to make your bed spark on New Year's eve!"

I stopped rummaging through the glove compartment and glared at my companion. "Nope I was thinking along the lines of an untimely demise of a certain fagot named Marc who died after having his ass-plowed by his first boyfriend." I retorted and then I smiled as I finally found the cd and put it on the stereo and played it.

A soft melody started to play and I closed my eyes as I sang along with Tamia. "If I were you I wouldn't be here, If I were you I would stay right where you are, I wouldn't come near this broken heart, Just turn around and leave here." Fighting the urge to smile at the sad contention of the song, I turned to face Marc and asked him how his date went last night.

That one simple question was all it took to lit up my best friend's chubby face with a smile as he started to tell me about his first official date with the guy he had the hots for for the past few months. "Paolo was cute last night, and he took me to his place that overlook the city, it was actually his family's house and the rest of them went to visit family since it's Christmas day and all but he stayed behind to prepare for our date." Another soft smile tugged at his face while he was looking ahead trying to drive us through our destination. "Don't you think that was sweet of him to do so?", he asked. With a weird expression on his face, as if he can't contain his own happiness over what happened to him last night, he risked a glance towards my direction and frowned when he saw me spaced out again.

Sensing my lack of interest on his retelling of what could be the most romantic night of his life he got annoyed and punched me on the arm. "It seems that I'm alone in this car? What happened to the bitch that was talking to me a few minutes ago? Did he just vanish into thin air?"

"Uhuh, well did you have sex afterwards?" I quipped and that earned me a smack at the back of my head. "Hey! Not fair! I merely asked if you spent the rest of the time making yourselves sweat!"

"Unfortunately dick head not all dates end up in bed." Marc snorted. "We just talked, snuggled and of course the awkward first kiss. Yeah basically we just talked, shared life stories, we are still on the getting to know each other stage and I really don't want to rush things up with Paolo." Marc was still speaking with that dazed expression that you would only see in those who are deeply in love. So sad.

"OW! And aren't you being a prude?"

"At least I'm not going around town sleeping with anybody who can get it up my ass."

"Touche, Can I help it if I'm actually in demand?"

"Well if you consider one-night stands as a substitute for love then so be it. I'm not the one who's going to end up dead a few years from now from God knows what STD you'll acquire"

"Tsk tsk tsk man I must admit that I'm a slut but I do believe I have impeccable taste in men, and I don't just sleep with some random guy you know." I retorted hotly.

"Whatever floats your boat man." Chuckling, Marc started to mess up my hair which was a minute ago perfectly straight and now after his hand touched them it was nothing but a mess of black unruly mass.

Running my fingers to repair the damage that Marc's clumsy attempt to be my hair stylist, I pulled out my phone to text Ferdi and remind him not to be late for today's lunch so we can cover more time to catch up since we haven't hanged out in a while. Flipping my phone close, I thought about why I am not as happy as I thought I would be for my best friend who happened to be having a very promising adventure on the romance department. I mean he deserves to be happy and he finally have his chance, but I can't bear the incessant chatter that emits this cloud of cheerfulness and promise in his immediate surrounding that I just want to burst his bubble. Being the best friend that I am, I decided not to inflict him with my dark thoughts and leave him on his euphoric state, the least I can do in spreading good tidings to people I love during Christmas time.

"You know that I'm happy for you, right?" Marc just smiled at me so I shrugged and relaxed myself on the seat.

I was accosted by my phone ringing and the number that appeared on my lcd reflected an unknown number.

Frowning I shot Marc a questioning look "Are you familiar with this number? 09179723336 I don't know who this is. Should I answer?"

"Go on maybe its a new boy-toy who's gonna change your life come the year 2006. Maybe he is the one?"

I was about to answer when it suddenly stopped ringing. Instead it beeped to indicate a new message was received. I read the contents: Hey. It's been a while. Are you going to the party tomorrow night? I quickly answered back: Who's this? Do I know you? How did you get my number?

"Nah! it's just one of the guys, they want to know if I'm showing up for tomorrow's bash"

"And you were hoping that it would indeed be another invitation to indulge in your baser needs?"

"At least it keeps me occupied and warm on these lonely cold nights"

"And how pray tell do you know that it's a guy?"

"It's simple my dear slow friend – the only party I'm attending tomorrow is for our high school class reunion and seeing that we came from an exclusive school for boys then only guys would be interested to know if I'm showing up or not, furthermore since our get together is strictly for the class members" I raised a brow at him when all of a sudden "OUHFT!" I was jerked from my seat when he stepped on the break and stopped the car unceremoniously.

"What? Is that tomorrow? So that would make it December 27 tomorrow, God how can I forget?" Cursing followed as he almost hit another car with his poor display of driving skills as the engine died. Starting the car again and moving back into traffic, Marc asked me if I knew who was going to make an appearance on the big night.

"The usual crowd I guess, more than half of the class will be there since we run in the same social circle here in the city. Or am I sensing that you meant to ask if someone special from your days of old will be there?"

"Have you heard if Chris is coming?" a blush crept to his face as he said the name of an old flame "I haven't seen him like in forever and I just want to get reconnected" Marc defended himself but the darn blush still won't go away.

Laughing hard, I then smirked at him and asked directly "What about Paolo?"

"I'm perfectly happy with what Paolo and I have started so I won't let anyone, not even Chris ruin that for me" he solemnly stated more to himself than to me.

A comfortable silence ensued after that as we both got caught up on our own thoughts when my phone beeped again. Reading the message that says: You don't remember me? Ouch! It hurts! It hasn't been that long Jon because I can still remember you. Irritated I replied: I'm also capable of inflicting mortal injuries if you don't stop playing with me! For the last time moron, who the fuck are you? I pressed the send button with such force that I hurt my finger. SHIT!

We were now within the vicinity of the commercial complex we were heading for and I was checking for a free parking space, when non was available I slumped and exclaimed "I guess you have to park a few blocks from the cafe, and we'll have to walk from there" I rolled my eyes when Marc groaned on the prospect of parking a few blocks away from where we were actually heading.

Relief finally flooded through us as we finally found an empty parking space three blocks from Taza Cafe. We were busy adjusting ourselves to be more presentable as we are about to show ourselves to the public: me in a dark deconstructed jeans with a semi-fit button down long-sleeved shirt with psychedelic prints worn with flat leather sandals and Marc in his usual dress pants and a turtle neck shirt , with shiny pointed black shoes to complete his outfit. Deciding we look respectable we decided to open our doors.

My phone beeped again when I was getting out of the car. Flipping my phone open to read the message I was pissed off big time with what I got: I love the attitude! God I missed you! I hit reply and typed: The next thing that you're gonna be missing is your body when I flay you alive! Don't let me get you, otherwise you will be celebrating New Year's day inside a coffin and hit send. I walked towards Marc who was on the sidewalk sporting two bags full of presents for our friends from both of us and we started our way towards where our friends were waiting.

Arm in arm we were sashaying our way when we have to stop for the red light before we were allowed to cross the street. I checked on my phone and saw a new message received: Relax babe... Its just me... don't you remember me? Deciding to approach him in a flirty manner rather than an offensive stand, I answered back: You cant have me buddy if you don't tell me who you are... : )

We were crossing the street when a new message arrived and that was when my world stopped. It simply read: It's me Sebastian : Did you miss me too?

I gapped at my phone in a moment of shock mixed with a pang of anger. The nerve of that guy to text me, and to even construe that we have had something back when we were still in high school. Marc didn't notice that I got left behind in the middle of the street until he looked back and saw me standing frozen on the ground. He hurriedly came back to me and started dragging me with him as he guided me into dodging past the oncoming cars until we reached the safety of the sidewalk.

"Do you have a death wish or something? You almost got run over back there and it looks like you don't even care!" Marc was bellowing at me without caring much about the onlookers that we were attracting. "I know you're a drama queen but do you have to put on a show in the middle of the street and invite me along on your pathetic suicide attempt?"

Wordlessly I shoved my open phone on Marc's hand and I saw him read through the latest messages that I got from my mystery text mate. That earned me an apologetic smile and hug from my best friend saying "Everything is going to be alright babe, he's just a guy from the past, what harm can he bring you?"

Remaining silent throughout his tirade, Marc let out a tired sigh as he tried to comfort me. "Jon, nothing is going to happen to you with Sebastian around. He is not going to destroy the world. What made you react that way anyway?"

After I was able to catch my breath, I shrugged and suggested that we better move on or else we will be late for lunch. Marc remained by my side telling me that at some point or the other I am bound to meet people from my past and there is no reason to cower in fear like the way that I reacted earlier.

I nodded my approval and started to slowly regain my composure when we reached the lobby for the cafe, the uniformed personnel opened the door for us and smiled when he saw two of their regular patrons. The guard greeted us Merry Christmas and we both smiled at him but instead of going further inside, I pushed Marc off to the side first. Seeing that I was not in a mood for another lecture, he softly asked, if I was okay.

I shook my head meekly and he frowned. "Lets just get this show on the road, after lunch we will go somewhere else and talk about Sebastian and why you seem to be acting oddly. We need to keep an appearance to the rest of the pack, if you don't want them to know about this yet then you better put on your best smile and pretend that Sebastian does not exist until a little bit later or we will end up talking about this with the rest of them and I'm sure you are not yet ready to talk, you will only give those gossip-mongers that we unfortunately call our friends not only a Merry Christmas but also a Happy New Year to boot. Got it?"

"Thanks for understanding Marc"

"No biggie, what are best friends for right? Now shall we go in?"

I remain transfixed on my spot, unmoving. Sensing that I need a moment to regain my old bubbly self that seemed to be on vacation this season, Marc just looked at me with a worried expression. Head bent and feeling my confidence dip slowly I looked up to Marc and started to speak.

"How does something end before it even had the chance to start?" I asked softly and surprisingly Marc was able to hear it.

He turned around, searched my eyes, thinking for a moment, he answered "Perhaps because it was just not meant to be." And with a shrug and a smile to console each other we both went inside the building as thoughts of Sebastian slowly drifted out off my mind.