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Posada Serpiente, Cagayan City, Confederal Republic of the Cagayan
December 7th, 2016

he pair stumbled into their room. León’s hand grappled with the darkness as he attempted to find the switch on the wall, before he found it and pressed down on it, immediately hitting them with a series of sudden flashes before the light remained stable.

“I’ll have to get the light bulb replaced soon. Anyway, I’ll go for a shower.” León grabbed a towel from the rack in the closet.

“Can I go first?” Raúl requested as he took another.

“Sure. I’ll take one after you.”

“We could always take one together—”

“I don’t know if I’m ready for that.” León dodged the proposition with a laugh, and Raúl laughed with him as he went to the shower room. “Your loss,” echoed down the hall.

Despite the laugh, however, León was not ready. In fact, he was not ready for anything. He had just been to a party with Raúl, with the latter’s exes present, and he watched Raúl talk to them with a growing fire in his heart. But the fire was cold, and he wondered if he was ever good enough.

He felt himself rise in a protective mood, yet he also felt himself shrink in comparison to the ones who came before him, as if he were putting on shoes too large for his feet. And after a while, as Raúl entered the room, finished with his shower, León left, his head deep in contemplation, remaining that way in the shower room and as he finished up.

As he went out of the shower room, making sure not to slip, he came across his cousin Jaime, and after some greetings and conversation, they drifted closer to the topic of love. Jaime was to be married, after all.

“You’ll bring the arras, I’ll make sure of it. Bring Raúl with you, I like him.”

León glared with a grin.

“Not like that, pendejo! But you have to make up for the couch you two ruined.”

They both chuckled, and as they caught their breaths, León opened up. “May I ask something a bit personal?”

“What’s wrong, something happen between you two?”

“No, it’s just... how did you know you were in love with Catalina?”

“Hmm, you’re taking this the wrong way. Walk with me.” Jaime motioned down the hall, and León followed.

“See, I think love isn’t something you just get, it’s more of something you build. At some point, you just randomly feel it.” León felt like he understood it, but not fully.

“Wait, so when did you feel that you were in love with her?”

“It just happened one day. I looked at her while I was washing the dishes, and suddenly it just felt... nice. Like, ‘wow, I would do anything for her,’ you know?”

“Hmm, I don’t know.” He continued to tackle with it for a bit before sighing.

“Don’t worry.” Jaime gave him a pat on the back before realising it was wet. “Wait, shit, my sleeve... anyway, take my word for it, it will happen someday, alright?” León smiled back before they parted ways, and he soon found his way back to his room.

He opened the door to find Raúl had opened the windows to smoke. He was in a loose tank top, but his towel was still tied around his waist, and some water still dripped from his forehead. But it felt different from what he was used to seeing. The world seemed sparkling and vibrant compared to how it usually was.

Then he felt an impulse, and a tenderness in his heart as he beckoned Raúl to him.

“C’mere, you’re going to catch a cold.” Raúl didn’t know what was going on until he saw the look on León’s face, and he obliged.

They laid down on the bed, with León’s hands around Raúl, the latter’s head on his chest, and as he listened to Raúl breathe, he wondered if Raúl could feel his heart beating through his skin. He could feel his own heart going haywire, after all. But for the moment, he closed his eyes and smiled as he savoured his little peace on Earth.

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