Halos magwala na ang eliminated teams sa pavilion habang chini-cheer ang mga natira. I couldn’t believe Arin and Roi were still there despite being targeted by everyone. Pang-main characters talaga ang personality ng dalawang ‘yon.
Pero dahil lalo pa silang pinagtulungan ng apat na groups ay na-eliminate sila. After a couple more minutes of chaotic scuffle, Michael and Sunny of Silver team emerged as the final winners.
“Sinuwerte ka lang, Michael!” sigaw ni Ben mula rito sa pavilion dahil sina Michael ang nag-eliminate sa team nila.
“Porque ka-holding hands mo ‘yung crush mo!”
Several of them laughed at the taunting and Michael glared at them from a distance. Meanwhile, Sunny was just chuckling at the commotion. In fairness, mukhang mas naging close ang writers after this, lalo na ang guys dahil nag-aasaran na sila.
“Gusto mo bang magpatawag ng medic?”
Napalingon naman ako sa likuran nang marinig ko ang boses ni Brian. She was looking at Yena who seemed to be paler than earlier.
She shook her head while clutching her chest. “I’m okay. I just need a little rest,” she murmured.
Mukhang napagod siya dahil sa challenge. She must really have a weak constitution if she gets too exhausted with physical activities like this. We were getting close with each other these past few days but I wasn’t sure how to approach her. Besides, her teammates were taking good care of her right now.
Narinig ko naman ang pagbuntonghininga ni Zion sa tabi ko kaya lumingon ako sa direksyon niya.
“Our rank dropped but at least we’re still in the top three,” he murmured while looking at the updated ranks on the monitor.
Following his gaze, I saw that we were ranked third while Orange team climbed to second. Muli akong napatingin sa kanya. Does this guy not think of anything aside from our rank? Maybe he was an overachiever when he was a student. Or his competitiveness was just second to none.
His eyes found mine but before I could turn away, he cocked his head and raised his right eyebrow. “What is it? You look like you have something to say.”
I must have been grimacing at him dahil mukhang akala niya ay may snide remark na naman ako. Initially, I had none but now, I kind of wanted to get back at him.
“I thought I wasn’t allowed to talk back? O puwede na dahil tapos na ang challenge at pareho tayong talunan?”
His eyebrows twitched and I knew I hit a nerve. “I wasn’t the reason why we lost though?”
It was hard to fight the urge to glare at him, but fortunately, I maintained an expressionless face. “Sure ka? You lost to Cenon earlier.”
“Yeah because I had no choice but to shield you.”
So, kasalanan ko lahat? Ikaw nga ‘tong maliligaw kung hindi ako ang nagle-lead kahit halos two weeks na tayo sa camp, sa isip ko.
I shrugged my shoulders. “He was shielding Cherry, too, but okay. I guess malakas lang talaga siya.”
Being petty wasn’t really my style but I didn’t want to lose to him.
“Hoy, hindi namin kasalanan kung bakit kami na-out ha! Pinagtulungan kami,” biglang sigaw ni Roi.
Ni hindi ko napansin na nakarating na sila sa pavilion. Mukhang worried siya dahil kay Zion.
“Hoy Roi, h’wag kang maingay, LQ ‘tong dalawa,” Angeli chuckled while pointing at us.
Hearing that comment, Arin’s head popped out behind Roi with a huge grin on her face. “Oh? Anong nangyari?”
“Nagsisisihan sila kung sino may kasalanan kung bakit sila na-eliminate,” sagot naman ni Cherry.
Wait, were they listening to our banter? Ugh. Akala ko pa naman hindi kami naririnig.
Hindi naman maipinta ang mukha ni Roi sa narinig niya. “Pati ‘yon pinagkukumpitensyahan n’yo? Bored ba kayo?”
“Ay akala ko pa naman dahil sa ibang bagay,” Arin pouted.
Hearing some sensible comment from Roi was kind of embarrassing. I couldn’t believe he was the one telling us off. Naramdaman ko tuloy ang pag-init ng pisngi ko dahil sa mga pinagsasabi ko kanina.
Fortunately, it was time for lunch kaya naman agad na nagsitakbuhan ang mga tao papunta sa main cabin para kumain. Dahil hindi pa naman ako gutom ay bumalik muna ako sa cabin namin para makapagpahinga. After all, they dragged me while I was sleeping. Kulang pa ang tulog ko.
After a quick shower to freshen up, I lied down on the sofa couch. Kahit halos isang oras lang naman kaming tumakbo bago ma-eliminate, sumakit pa rin ang katawan ko. This is what I get for not exercising, I guess. But working out wasn’t for me. Ayaw kong napapagod at napapawisan.
Saglit akong pumikit pero bigla ko namang naalala ang nangyari kanina.
I wasn’t the reason why we lost though?
Ugh. Did he really have to say that? Alam ko namang wala akong kuwenta pagdating sa physical games or activities pero kailangan ba talaga niyang ipamukha?
“Itutulog ko na lang—ouch.”
My gaze drifted to my left wrist and saw a bruise and a scratch. Hah. Mukhang nabugbog ‘yon dahil sa challenge. I couldn’t believe I’d get those just from running with paper bracelets. Ganoon ba talaga ako kahina?
Hah. Whatever. I need a nap.
I couldn’t remember my dream but it sure wasn’t happy. My eyes fluttered open as I stirred from my well-deserved nap but my eyes widened after seeing the time on the clock. What the heck? It was already 4 p.m.?!
Agad akong bumangon at paglabas ko ay nasa porch si Zion. He turned his head in my direction as I walked out of the cabin.
“Nasaan na ‘yung dalawa?” tanong ko.
“Nasa obstacle course,” he quickly replied. “They have a lot of energy left, I guess.”
Wow. They were fighting against the other teams for hours and they could still play around? Samantalang ako ay na-knock out agad.
Bigla namang kumalam ‘yung sikmura ko at napapikit ako dahil ang lakas ng tunog. I glared at him, a clear warning to not say anything, but I could see him suppressing a smile.
“You should eat now. Baka iligpit na ‘yung rice meals,” he said while averting his gaze to refrain himself from grinning.
Embarrassed, I was half-walking, half-running away from the cabin. Sakto namang lumabas din si Yena sa cabin nila kaya binati namin ang isa’t isa.
“Papunta ka rin sa main cabin?” tanong niya.
“Yup. Hindi pa kasi ako nagla-lunch. Ikaw?”
She snickered. “Same. Natulog lang ako para makapagpahinga.”
Apparently, she was anemic and almost had an asthma attack earlier. Kaya pala worried din ang teammates niya kanina.
Nang makarating kami sa main cabin ay agad din kaming kumain ng super late lunch. The good side was we could eat while watching the changing colors of the sky. May ilan din kaming mga nakasabay na kumakain ng snacks o ‘di kaya umiinom ng kape.
“Oh, right, ano pala ang reaction ni Zion nang makita ang rankings kanina? Was he upset?”
I couldn’t keep my eyes from rolling, much to her amusement. “I would be more surprised if he wasn’t.”
Hindi napigilan ni Yena ang pagtawa. “Baka team na naman namin ang target niya sa next challenge niyan.”
“For sure,” sagot ko.
Despite losing the challenge earlier, Green team was still on top since they had accumulated enough points. Although, delikado rin ang rank nila dahil five points lang ang lamang nila sa Orange team.
“Ano kaya ang challenge bukas?”
Napaisip naman ako sa mga hindi pa nagagawang genre. We were yet to do action, fantasy, and humor.
“Either humor or fantasy? Maybe action?” I guessed.
Yena heaved a sigh. “I hope it’s not action. Ayaw ko muna ng physical activity.”
Nang maligpit namin ang pinagkainan ay bumili rin kami ng kape dahil hindi pa kami nakakainom ngayong araw. Kaya pala parang wala rin ako sa mood kanina.
“Oh, wait, nagpapabili nga rin pala si Brian,” she said while making a second cup of coffee.
I was thinking of bringing one to Zion, too, but he might have already drank one.
Sabay kaming naglakad pabalik sa cabin. She could only nod at me while walking inside theirs since her hands were full.
Napahinto naman ako dahil nasa porch pa rin si Zion but this time, he fell asleep on the chair while holding a book…wait, wasn’t that Arin’s?
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. That was the book he was reading, and I was pretty sure it was a romantic novel. Wow. That was his second read for that genre.
Curious, I sat right across him. He had used his index finger as a bookmark and it seemed like he just started reading it recently.
An amused smile escaped my lips as I stared at him. Romance novels and Zion felt like a paradox, but I guess he really wanted a reference for the novel he was writing.
I almost stumbled from my seat when he suddenly spoke while his eyes were still closed.
“You were awake?”
His eyes fluttered open and stared into mine. “Ngayon lang,” he said as he broke into a smile.
Zion threw his head back and stretched his arms. Meanwhile, I had lost the timing to get up and leave.
“Hindi na tayo magkagalit?” he asked, pertaining to what happened earlier.
Sinamaan ko naman siya ng tingin. “You started it,” I muttered.
He started laughing and I wasn’t sure if I should feel offended since it seemed like he was making fun of me again, or relieved that he was in a good mood this time.
“I guess,” he murmured. “I’m a sore loser sometimes.”
I audibly gasped after hearing his response. Did the Zion actually admit he was a sore loser with his own mouth? Or did I just mishear it? What the heck?
“May sakit ka ba?” I blurted out. “Are you okay?”
Confusion crossed his face. “What?”
This is not you, I wanted to reply, but held back.
“Baka nilalagnat ka,” I added while jokingly reaching for his forehead, but he suddenly took hold of my wrist.
“No, but are you okay?”
He pointed the bruise and small scratch on my wrist that I had almost forgotten. Agad ko namang hinatak pabalik ang kamay ko.
“Yeah,” I replied. “It’s just a scratch.”
Bigla naman siyang tumayo at pumasok sa cabin. Few seconds later, he was already holding the first aid kit. Pinatong niya iyon sa table sa pagitan namin at nilabas ang cotton at band-aid.
“Should I do it or you want to do it yourself?”
“The latter,” sagot ko at sinimulan ko kaagad ang pag-disinfect sa sugat ko.
Dahil mas malaki sa middle part ng band-aid ang scratch ay nilagyan ko muna ng bulak para hindi masakit ‘pag tinanggal.
“Let me help you with that,” he said while getting the band-aid from me since I was having a hard time putting it with only one hand.
After dressing my wound, he returned the kit inside and came back to his seat few seconds later.
Silence filled the place afterwards but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Ipinagpatuloy ko lang ang pag-inom ng kape habang nagsimula ulit siyang magbasa. The sun was already setting and the sky became a canvas of pastel hues, creating a picturesque scenery of the camp. It was such a pleasant moment that I thought it could be used as a scene for my story.
“This feels like a romantic scene,” he remarked while looking at the scenic view. “I might use this.”
Oh, he was thinking of the same thing.
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Right? Peaceful and dreamy ang dating.”
“Yeah. It fits with the concept of love in my story.”
I shifted my gaze back to him. “What kind of concept?”
He, too, turned his head back to my direction, and gave me a gentle smile. “The kind of love that blooms quietly.”