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It took João a long time before he started realizing things. An awfully long time before he started realizing that maybe, just a little bit, he was dumb. Stupid. Really, really stupid.

 

Of course, it never did come to him. Who would ever think that there was a possibility of liking a bandmate in more than a brotherhood kind of love? He was… quite disconcerted, to be honest. But most of all, he was terrified when realization started dawning upon him.

 

This was how João realized that maybe, just maybe , he was in love with Ford. But there was an important detail, he didn’t fall in love… he walked in love with Ford.

 

“Sino yan?” João asked one day as he sank down to the floor beside Ford, they had just finished the first part of their rehearsals for another ASAP episode and were taking a short break when he noticed that Ford was sitting by himself again in his own little corner, looking longingly at his phone screen. He was worried about him sometimes.

 

“Wala.” Ford replied almost immediately, shutting off his phone screen and pocketing it away from João’s sight. Ford was always like this, there would always be times that he was distancing himself from the others and it worried João. It broke his heart a little.

 

Ford gave him a smile, a toothed one before he slung an arm around João. The shorter boy knew that Ford was only doing his to distract him. Funnily enough, it almost seemed as if he had forgotten what he was interrogating the older about. “Tara libre kita may twenty minutes pa naman oh.” Ford offered as he gave João a firm pat on the back before he stood up then offered a hand for João to take.

 

João obliged and took Ford’s hand in his. Ford pulled him up and he pushed himself up. He stumbled a little as he stood up but the both of them just laughed at it.

 

Later when they were seated in the van to drive back to their condo, João sat beside Ford and he’d see that it was a photo of the older’s ex-girlfriend with a new man. He felt his heart break a little but it gave him a funny feeling in his stomach. He told himself it wasn’t jealousy.

 

*

 

Sometimes, João would catch himself looking for Ford. It gave him a sense of certain unease whenever the other wasn’t in his line of sight. He never noticed that until recently.

 

Well, he never noticed that until Tristan pointed it out.

 

It happened when they were in Davao for a mallshow, they were about to leave the hotel when João noticed that Ford was missing, this alerted something in him, not seeing Ford gave him this feeling of worry bubbling in the pit of his stomach and he just had to find Ford.

 

“Si Ford? Nasaan si Ford? Aalis na tayo bakit wala pa siya?” He asked as he looked around the room frantically. There were Russell and Niel huddling together over Russell’s phone, and Tristan who had just come out of his room.

 

“Hala siya, palabas na yun. Ikaw lagi mong hinahanap si Ford, crush mo yun noh?” Tristan joked, like how he always did and it was nothing more than a joke but João felt his ears heat up and his pulse rate go up. It was just a joke.

 

He chuckled with a furrow of his brows at Tristan’s accusation. “Gago, ang bading mo.” He chucked a throw pillow at the older, which Tristan caught immediately.

 

And sure enough, Ford came out of his room and João’s mind was at peace again. He walked over to Ford, nudged him on the shoulder before he put his arm around Ford’s shoulders to drag him out of the room with the rest of the band. “Tagal mo ah!”

 

Ford only laughed as he shook his head at him, returning his nudge with a poke of the older’s elbow to the younger’s ribs. “Miss mo naman ako agad.” Again, it was a joke. Only a joke and Joao shouldn’t think much of it. But he was. He was thinking so much of it. Nonetheless he only smiled at Ford, squeezed his shoulder and pushed him in front of him. He followed suit, his hands placed on Ford’s shoulder as the older walked ahead of him.

 

Ford wasn’t wrong when he said that Joao missed him already. It terrified Joao a little.

 

Honestly, it terrified him a lot with how he’s being so transparent when it came to Ford. His feelings were on display on his sleeves and he’s so afraid of Ford catching him red-handed. But he couldn’t stop no matter how much he wanted to, he cared about Ford and Ford’s well-being was the only thing that he wanted to make sure of. He wanted Ford to know that he loved him, even if Joao hasn’t fully realized it yet.

 

*

 

He realized it when Ford teased him about this girl named Chienna.

 

It was a break on a Monday after ASAP. They rarely got breaks so this one was something that happened once in a blue moon. It was too short to go back home but too rare to waste inside their condo sleeping. So the boys decided to go out shopping. It had been a long time since the last time they did that.

 

The other three were busy in their own worlds, Tristan was teasing Niel about clothes and Russell was laughing in the background. Niel took it well though, he always did. As always, Ford tagged along behind them. He always walked behind the five of them even though there was enough space for him to walk beside the other boys.

 

Joao always made it a point to walk next to Ford.

 

“Ganda ng crush mo ah.” Ford teased with the slightest raise of his brow at the boy raised in Macau. Joao was startled of course, ganda was the last term you’d use to describe a… well… a guy . Though, he had recognized that he had feelings for Ford at this point, he still was in a denial with using the term ‘crush’. Ford wasn’t his crush, he was… something else.

 

“Ha? Sinong crush?” He asked as he busied himself with the racks of clothes, turning his back on Ford. He prayed to God that Ford hadn’t caught him red-handed. He was just about ready to start apologizing and explaining when Ford came up next to him, his phone screen shoved up Joao’s face that he had to push it away because the older was just too excited to show Joao what was on his phone.

 

He was disappointed when he saw what was flashed on the phone screen.

 

He deadpanned at Ford before completely pushing Ford’s phone away. “Baliw. ‘Di ko kaya crush yan.”

 

“Weh?” The older prodded on, he had taken away his phone from Joao’s face but he was still looking at it with much enthusiasm. “Nilalike mo nga lagi posts niya eh. Chienna diba? Kunwari ka pa!”

 

Joao huffed. It was true, he kept liking her photos but only because he liked her aesthetic. He was also liking Ford’s photos, why wasn’t the older teasing him about it? He’d very much prefer that than whatever this was that’s happening. He took a shirt from the racks, brought it up to his chest to see if it fitted him before he turned back to Ford. “Pag nilalike crush agad? Grabe ka naman sakin.”

 

Ford snorted at the other’s sudden defensiveness. “Defensive mo naman. Paano na si Yassi niyan?”

 

Joao looked at Ford for a second, if anything, this was the boy that he was having a crush on. Not Chienna. Not Yassi. Not any girl that the fans had been shipping with him. It was Ford. It had always been Ford.

 

This was frustrating. Joao was used to speaking out his feelings. But this was different. Very much different. And he knew that he could get any girl wrapped around his finger but the difference was, Ford was his friend, Ford was a guy, he was his bandmate and bandmates do not fall in love with each other. It was the rule of thumb.

 

“Ewan ‘ko sa ‘yo.” Joao dropped the subject before he waved the shirt in front of Ford. “Bagay ba sa ‘kin ‘to?”

 

Ford looked at him for a while, his eyes fixated on Joao and he felt bashful all of the sudden. Like a teenager once more. It annoyed Joao how Ford made him feel. Everything was new to him. He didn’t like it.

 

“Lahat naman bagay sa ‘yo eh.” Ford commented with a smile and an approving raise of his brows.

 

Joao smiled at him, nodded before he finally took the shirt for him to buy. At times like this, Joao had this little spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, Ford liked him back too.



*

 

It took João a long time before he started realizing things. An awfully long time before he started realizing that maybe, just a little bit, he was dumb. Stupid. Really, really stupid.

 

He had to thank alcohol for his courage. It was annoying, really, how he had to down a couple shots of tequila and vodka to be able to finally tell Ford what he really was feeling. Perhaps the only thing that was good about drinking out of his mind was that he wasn’t going to remember this when he woke up tomorrow.

 

They were in a club, celebrating the success of their first album when Joao in his drunken state decided to finally confess to Ford.

 

They were sitting outside the club for fresh air, Ford was a little intoxicated too but Joao was too drunk to assess the other’s drunkenness. All he knew was that he needed to get something out of his throat. Whether it was vomit or his feelings, he didn’t know.

 

“Haha, gago ang tagal na mula nung huling beses akong nalasing ng ganto.” Joao’s first confession came out smoothly out of his lips as he rested his head against Ford’s shoulder. Should he be worried about the press catching him like this? He should. But he was too drunk to care about anything. And he was sure that Ford was still sober enough.

 

“Grabe, nalalasing pala ang party prince ng Macau.” Ford gave a hearty laugh. He smelled like alcohol too but Joao didn’t mind. It was a stench he was very familiar too and with it mingling with the other’s natural scent, he thought that he couldn’t love a scent more.

 

“Kailangan eh.” Joao said as he straightened up, his hand came up to rub at his nose. He inhaled. All he needed to do now was finally tell Ford what he had been itching to tell him for months.

 

Ford looked down on him, brows knitted together in confusion. “Bakit mo naman kailangan malasing?”

 

This was it. This was his time. He looked at Ford, and although his vision was a bit hazy and he was a bit dizzy as the liquor he had downed hours ago was starting to take a toll on him, Ford still looked like the most beautiful person he had ever met. Scratch that, Ford was the most beautiful person he had ever met. “May kailangan akong sabihin sa ‘yo.”

 

“Ano ‘yun?”

 

Joao decided not to beat around the bush any longer. “Mahal kita. Hindi dahil mag-kaibigan tayo. Hindi dahil magka-banda tayo. I love you because I love you, alam mo ba yun? Nakakainis kasi kahit kailan alam kong hindi mo marereciprocate yung feelings ko pero okay lang naman sa ‘kin ‘yun eh. Pero kahit na, kailangan kong sabihin sa ‘yo ‘to bago mahuli ang lahat. Alam ko pwedeng masira pagkakaibigan natin pero…” He paused. He was starting to feel like he was going to vomit but he swallowed it down.

 

Ford looked shock, more than anything but not disgusted. Surprised, if Joao’s drunken mind got it right.

 

It was the alcohol.

 

He blamed the alcohol when he pulled Ford in by the collar and pressed his lips against his. The other’s lips was everything that Joao had imagined. Soft, chapped yet warm. Joao felt like he was in a dream, the feeling of finally letting out his feelings give him this surreal sense of relief and kissing Ford gave him an inexplicable feeling in his stomach.

 

Before Joao could even vomit on Ford, he passed out.  









It ended like this:

 

Ford kissed him back.