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A Small Red Box

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Felix did not want to know why he and Pablo have not had a proper conversation in the past few days. With his boyfriend being an international sensation, he understood that Pablo was busy doing interviews in Brazil currently so he did not have much time to reply to him or talk to him, but he missed him. Dearly. Too much that it scared him. He dreamt about Pablo replying to him last night too. Pablo would only pop in with an “I miss you” or a plethora of heart emojis to let Felix know that he was okay, but for Felix that was not really enough... 

They have been dating for over a year now, ever since the world-famous soccer player confessed to him, and to the whole world, that night at the opera. The confession came as a total shocker to Felix — one because no one would ever think that Pablo Garcia would like him, a regular bellboy with a social media problem and two, because he thought that with all the macho he has in his body, Pablo Garcia would be straight . Well clearly, both of those things were wrong, and Felix could not be any happier than he thought he would be. 

There are perks to dating Pablo Garcia: first, he is the biggest sweetheart in the world. When he is around Felix, he never leaves his side and never looks at anything or anyone else, which makes Felix’s heart a whole lot warmer than usual. The first time they held hands, Felix could hardly look at him from being so shy, but Pablo comforted him by brushing his thumb to and fro on the back of his hand. He had the patience of a hardened schoolteacher and he never once pushed Felix past his limits (except for those times before when he would give surprise snuggles.) Second, he earns enough to be able to come in and out of Austria despite coming from 12 hours away on a plane. That means if Pablo had a match somewhere around Asia, he would still find time to fly to Felix during important days, like his birthday or Christmas. (They spent their first Christmas together in Felix’s apartment, which happened to be slightly less trashy at the time than how his apartment usually looked like.) 

Life was… well, he wouldn't say that life was perfect, but it came pretty close. Since Pablo was such a famous entity, they have to keep their relationship on the down-low. This was not entirely ideal for Felix, because he wants to be super loud and proud about his relationships on Twitter and Instagram and everywhere else, but in the end, only the people at the Hotel Edler knew about the two of them. And… he hated that. Pablo deserved to be shown off because he was simply amazing. He might not have been what Felix was expecting in a significant other (for starters, he was expecting a girl named Anna) but he was more. 

Today was Felix’s day off, and usually, Pablo would be showering him in good morning messages, no matter what the time difference would be. Felix stared at his and Pablo’s chatbox, waiting for the three dots to appear that meant Pablo was going to greet him good morning. He waited, and waited, legs all fidgety and fingers a little sweaty. 


Felix started smashing his phone keyboard in frustration. He would type “I miss you” and then erase it, and then type it back again and erase it again. Maybe texting him that would make him seem annoying - what if Pablo was going through something urgent for the week? It must be something important… like family or something. But, since Felix had itchy fingers, he ended up sending it.

                          [hey babe. i miss you.]

Ashamed, he tossed his phone to the other side of the bed and buried his face in his pillow. Pablo was a busy man, but he is never too busy not to send an “I miss you” back… he shouldn’t be, right? Felix peeped out of his pillow with one eye to watch for his phone light to flash. Suddenly, there was a sharp “ping!” and Felix scrambled to pick his phone up, heart racing.

[feli hey]

It was Josi. Felix felt bad for being so disappointed that it was not Pablo. He let the feeling sink in for a moment and then replied to his friend.

                           [hey josi!!!]

                           [what’s up??]


While waiting for Josi’s reply, Felix kept tapping his foot on the floor as he sat on the edge of the bed, impatience brewing in him (though Felix was never quite the patient boy.) He wondered when Pablo will finally text him back, or if he will ever text him back. 

His phone pinged again. Heart pattering, he closed his eyes as he raised the phone to his face. He pried one eye open to look at whose name it was on the notification. Just from the first letter, Felix knew it was not Pablo. He sighed and thought, maybe he should not expect a message anytime soon. Pablo being busy is totally fine! (It was not totally fine.) 

[i know it’s ur day off but uhh]

[we kinda need you back at the hotel]

[walter kind of hurt himself earlier…]


Felix heaved a huge sigh as he let the phone rest face down on the bed for a moment. He was planning to scarf down a few bags of potato chips and play video games the whole day to distract himself from Pablo not replying but maybe going to work for today would distract him better. So long as there’s pay.

[what do u say?]

                          [i’ll go!]

                          [just give me a few minutes to get ready]


Since Josi did not give an exact time when he should be there, Felix just decided to get ready at his own pace. He strolled to the bathroom to wash his face then took a few minutes to blow-dry his hair to perfection. Afterward, he ironed out his uniform until it was properly sleek. He resisted every urge to look at the phone to avoid being disappointed, so he just stuffed it into his pocket without glancing at the screen. 

He hopped on the bus to the hotel, resisting every urge to check his phone if Pablo had replied already. He’s busy and he will find time for you eventually , Felix calmed himself. But even so, his inner saboteur combatted. He could feel his own heart scrunching up from missing him so much, and it had only been a week! When did Felix even start feeling so much for this man? He felt almost pathetic. Snap out of it, Feli!

The bus skidded to a stop, and it took thirty seconds for Felix to notice that he was supposed to get off there since he was off thinking about Pablo and his dreamy eyes and his muscles. He had to ask the bus driver to wait for him and then ran out of the bus, face redder than his uniform. He took the long walk to the back door of the hotel, to clear his head. He greeted every person he came across, but he also noticed how everyone seemed to greet him differently from how they usually do. Their greetings were short and hurried, though it should be their lunch break. Felix went up to his old crush, Anna, and patted her on the shoulder.

“Hey Anna,” Felix smiled at her. “Is there something up with everyone?”

Anna grinned at him back, but a little too wide from what he’s used to. “Nothing wrong! Sorry, Felix, but I really have to get going…” 

Before Felix could even acknowledge what she said, Anna was already dashing out the door. Felix scratched his head. Well, since everyone was getting so busy he might as well just be as busy as they were. He scurried over to the changing rooms so he could put on his uniform. After that, he made his way to the front desk, where Elfie was.

“Elfie!” Felix greeted, “good afternoon. What’s up with everybody?”

Elfie, who seemed to be very busy, did not even look up from the front desk. “Hmm, up? Nothing’s up! Just the usual shenanigans in the hotel.”

“Oh, I see…” Felix put his hands behind him, looking straight at the doorway just in case there were guests that needed to be greeted. To break the silence between the both of them, the front desk phone rang, which Elfie took immediately. 

By some miracle of timing, Josi also arrived at the lobby in his signature brown leather jacket. His hands were stuffed in his pocket, wearing a grin that would make anyone smile. Felix, of course, smiled back. He wondered how Josi will act weird like everyone else this time.

“Sorry to call you out during your day off, Feli,” Josi apologized, folding his hands together. 

“Ah, I don’t mind. I wasn’t doing anything anyway…” 

Elfie covered the phone receiver with one hand as she spoke to Josi. “Josi, the guest in Room 210 is calling for room service.”

“Room 210?” Felix asked, curious. Usually, it was not Josi’s job to attend to room service requests, so this person must have been someone of utmost importance. Probably another superstar like Emma Carter or something…

Josi turned on his heel to get to the aforementioned suite, then he stopped in his tracks. He looked over to Felix, who was standing there quiet but with inquisitive eyes. Felix gulped, wondering what exactly Josi had in mind for him to do. 

“Hey, Feli, do you think you can go over to Room 210 for me?” Josi asked him, eyebrows knitted together as if he was apologetic about it. 

Well, there was no way for him to say no to that. “Of course! Does this guest have any special needs or…?”

“You’ll know when you get there, my man,” Josi told him. “And take the back elevator! The main one is way too crowded and you’ll get there quicker.”

With no leeway to say anything, Felix just nodded and went on his merry way. He was sent to Room 210, where apparently a very important guest was waiting for room service. He felt a bead of sweat roll down his back since Josi was adamant that he serve the guest and no one else. It was not even that his service was any kind of special but he had little reason to decline. So there he was, facing the door of Room 210.

Two knocks.

“Room service,” Felix called out. 

Without any verbal responses, the door opened by itself. Felix expected to see a face standing by the door but he saw no one. The room was dark, no sounds coming from it aside from the sound of breathing, so someone was alive here, but Felix didn’t know who. He walked through the hallway, hands on his chest to warm himself from the rush of cold air from the air conditioner. 


Suddenly, before Felix could anticipate it, the lights in the room all switched on. Felix covered his face momentarily to let his eyes adjust to the abrupt brightness. He rubbed his eyes and started to slowly open them. The first thing his eyes saw was a blurry figure wearing something dark… and then eyes… and then… a red box?

Felix blinked.

From first glance, the figure looked like Pablo, but that couldn’t be. Pablo was much too busy with his matches and interviews to be anywhere near Felix. He didn’t even have any time to text back. This is definitely not Pablo in the center of the room, right in front of the bed, kneeling on one knee with a red velvet box in his hands.

He blinked again.

God, the figure was starting to look exactly like Pablo and before he knew it, his eyes started welling up. This couldn’t be Pablo! Felix was in total disbelief, he rubbed his eyes. He was waiting for the figure to speak, to say that he wasn’t the person he was expecting to stand in front of him.

“Feli,” the figure spoke, with that deep tone and accent Felix was so familiar with. “It’s me!”

Felix decided to keep his eyes shut as if the man before him would disappear if he did.“No! This can’t be you. You’ve been ignoring me for the past few weeks and suddenly you show up with a what? To...  to....”

Before he could stop himself, his eyes were already blurry with tears. He did not want to process whatever was happening before him. His mind prevented him from believing that the person in front of him was Pablo because… it can’t be him. 

“Feli, open your eyes,” Pablo gently goaded. He shut the velvet box and stuffed it in his pocket, figuring that maybe he had scared Felix instead of comforted him. “See? No more box.” 

Felix looked through his fingers, fighting a sniffle. “Pablo…? Is that really you?”

“In the flesh, baby!” Pablo spread his arms wide, grinning, inviting Felix in for a hug. Felix hesitated for a moment, still unable to decide if he should be upset or just throw that all away because his boyfriend was here . After weeks of nothing, here he was. (He had not processed the small ring box just yet.) 

All of a sudden, Felix heard a soft rustle behind him. He swished his head around to see who was there. His lips thinned. To his chagrin, Josi was there with his phone documenting the whole thing. As soon as he was spotted, Josi turned his camera off and grinned apologetically. 

“Pablo wanted us here just in case you said yes,” Josi explained. Then, he gestured at the room, “also can you please notice all the decorations we put up?”

Felix lifted his eyes upward, and just now realized how beautiful the whole room was. The ceiling was decked in sparkly streamers. There was a cake on the bedside table. He gasped when he saw the headboard, however. He held himself back from crying again. On the headboard were cut out cardboard letters adorned in red glitters that read, “Felix, Will You Marry Me?” Beside it was two heart-shaped balloons with a picture of him and Pablo tied on each of the balloon strings. 

His jaw could not seem to close. “You… did all this for me…?”

“Pablo has been planning this for weeks,” Josi explained. “He wanted me here for support and to take pictures… but I also see that you both need some alone time?”

“...Yep,” Felix said. Josi smiled at them, acknowledging Felix’s request, then proceeded to leave the room, but as he reached the door, Josi said, “By the way, I’ll let you off… you can spend all the time you need with Pablo.”

Now that they were finally alone, Felix turned his attention to Pablo, with his gloved hands in fists. He had no idea what to say because nothing was processing yet. Pablo was here. In Austria. In the Hotel Edler, and he was just a few moments ago on one knee holding out a velvet box with a ring in it. He feels like he could explode.

“Are… you angry?” Pablo asked, his voice soft.

“Am I angry? No. Am I very, very confused? Yes.” 

He walked over to the bed past Pablo and sat on the edge of it. He shuffled his feet, then took off his hat and his gloves afterward. Pablo followed suit, though with knowing Felix most likely needed space, he sat on the opposite corner of the bed.

“My mind is all mush,” Felix admitted as he fiddled with his fingers, hands on his lap. “It’s… a lot to take in.”

Pablo inched a little closer. “We can talk about it? I’m here...”

“Weren’t you in Brazil doing some… interviews for a match?” 

“I was, but… the whole time I was planning for this… I was in contact with Josi and he helped me set up this room. I bought a ring from Brazil, too.” Pablo took the velvet box out of his pocket. “It seems that me not replying to you backfired really bad, huh?”

“Really bad!? I thought you were breaking up with me; that you left me for some other handsome Brazilian soccer player.” 

“Felix,” Pablo stared at him wide-eyed. “You think I could actually do that to you?” 

The bellboy crossed his arms in front of his chest, frowning. “Who says you can’t…?”

“It’s you I want to marry, Felix.”

With that, Felix’s breath hitched, his stomach flipped over. “But… why…? We never brought this up before too…” 

“You make me happier than anyone. There isn’t a second that I am not thinking about you, whether in soccer matches or in parties or in interviews.”

“But we never talked about it. You never asked whether I wanted to get married. Whether I can handle being the husband of a world-famous soccer player. Whether I can stand missing you when you have not talked to me for days.”

Pablo stayed silent for a moment. “Then… look at me, at least? I want to see your face…”

Slowly, Felix turned to him. His hands were still on his lap, clasped together, and his lips were drawn to a straight line. His eyes avoided Pablo’s, for he knew he would break as soon as they met. Instead, he decided that the carpeted floor was a much better view. Pablo drew closer to him to take Felix’s hands into his. Felix jumped slightly at first, but then he was calmed by Pablo’s warmth. 

“Do you want to get married, Felix?” Pablo asked in a soft voice, full of understanding, and patience. 

“I… ask me another question.”

Pablo smiled and brushed his thumb across the back of Felix’s hands. “Can you see yourself spending the rest of your life with me?”

Felix bit his lower lip, trying to hide his head with his shoulders. “...I don’t want it any other way.”

“So let’s work through it, my busy schedule. I can bring you anywhere you want to be. If you want to be with me in Argentina or Brazil or anywhere, you may come with me… and if you want to stay here in Vienna, then I will get an apartment here or something.”

“What about your straight male fans who think you’re macho macho when you’re not…?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. But I would like to believe that times are changing and that not a lot of people will mind that I am gay anymore, and if they do, then good riddance.”  


“Nothing else matters to me but you, mi angelito .” 

Felix flicked his eyes toward Pablo's face finally. He was handsome as ever, with the same sleek beard and shave that Felix so loved. His mouth was opened slightly, as if an invitation. In the heat of the moment, Felix kissed Pablo right on the mouth, overflowing with want and longing. What else could he say to that? Any other words that would come out of Felix’s mouth would just make the emotions they felt lose all momentum. Immediately, his hands were on Pablo’s ponytail, unravelling them with his fingers so that they flowed free. He climbed up to sit on Pablo’s lap, and almost like a magnet, Pablo’s hands went straight to Felix’s waist. Felix shrugged off his jacket and tossed it across the room. 

“Should we really do it before the wedding?” he playfully teased against Pablo’s lips. 

Pablo’s giggles sounded like melodies to Felix’s ears. “I did rent out this suite for the both of us,” he replied, fingers already creeping up under Felix’s shirt. “ Mi angelito, you missed me…”

Another kiss, deeper this time, with Felix’s hands on Pablo’s cheeks. “I did… God, I did… why didn’t you reply to my messages!”

“Because I was too busy wanting to propose to you that I forgot about … you.” 

Felix’s index finger started drawing circles on Pablo’s shirt. “You’re awful and you gotta make up for it…” 

“Tell me what you want…”

“I want... a time where we can do this every day for the rest of our lives. I want a life where I can show you off to the whole world.” Felix buried himself in Pablo’s chest in shame, trying to hide how his face became redder than his own uniform.  

“Then… can I ask you again?” Pablo stroked the back of Felix’s head. 

There was a pregnant pause and a wistful sigh. “Sure…” replied Felix, face still in Pablo’s chest. 

Pablo gently laid Felix back on the edge of the bed. Felix covered his face in anticipation, peeping through his fingers, while Pablo took out the red velvet box again and knelt down on one knee. He pried the box open slowly, to show off the simple diamond ring with a gold band that Pablo had bought for Felix in Brazil. Felix looked through his fingers.

“Felix Moser, el amor de mi vida ,” Pablo’s voice trembled slightly, but he powered on, “ mi angelito, will you spend the rest of your life with me, as my husband?”

“Yeah!” Felix answered without any second thoughts, grinning from ear to ear. There really was no other reason for him to say no because, despite everything, he knew that he and Pablo will work through whatever problems there are. He held his left hand out for Pablo to slip the gold band on his ring finger, then pulled Pablo up to him on the bed for another big kiss. He ended up with his back on the mattress, his fiance on top of him. Felix threw his legs around him, indicating exactly what else he wanted from Pablo as well.

Felix woke up first after dawn the next morning, just before the cleaners were making their rounds in the hotel. Both of them were unclad, covered only in the hotel’s blankets. Felix never once would think he would be sleeping with his fiance in the very hotel he worked in, but he realized that it was not so bad. Pablo was still fast asleep, his long hair curtaining the front of his face. He lifted Pablo’s hair away from his face with his left hand, where the engagement ring was. 

After checking the time, he realized that there was still time to go back to sleep. He inches closer to Pablo’s face and kisses him softly on the lips like a feather touching the ground, before scooting closer to him again to fall back asleep.