It’s the month of June; Alden and Maine are getting busier preparing for their first anniversary in KS next month. Maine’s character, Divina Ursula, is also set to give her sweet yes to KS Alden in the same month as their anniversary. It will be a really big event, almost a Tamang Panahon part II. They have been rehearsing a lot of production numbers for the upcoming event. Their characters are almost a step closer to being an official couple — reel getting ahead of the real. Few months after Tamang Panahon, many assumed and speculated that Alden and Maine are already a couple but were just keeping things private. The speculations became much stronger since the month of March. A day after the Maine Event, everyone especially Maine got shocked when Alden followed her in Boracay. He even rented a private plane just to surprise her.
But the real score between them is actually otherwise the sweet speculations. They’re good friends but definitely not more than that.
And it’s all because of a past who came back.
It was a long day for Alden and Maine. They just finished rehearsing for their productions numbers. Jenny finally called it a day and told the two that they can finally go home. The two did good but Jenny sensed that something was off between them. She wanted to ask but she remained silent instead. Meanwhile, Alden offered Maine to take her home; she agreed. Jenny started allowing the two to do things like that after getting sick of some fans who kept on bashing her because of her alleged restrictions to them in real life. That was around March.
For the the first 10 minutes of the ride, no one was talking. Both were waiting for the other to initiate a conversation. They used to have endless stories to share when they’re together. They would usually go in a corner and talk about just anything under the sun. Until that day. The day when Maine started to get a little distant. One day she avoided talking with anybody. She’d just stare at her phone all the time. At first he thought she was just busy reading some tweets or looking at her IG tagged photos. But no. It seemed that she was texting somebody. Sometimes someone would call her and she’d excuse herself from everyone. Alden couldn’t help but be suspicious. He didn’t want to mind it but he realized that they started to talk less and he wasn’t in favor of this. He knew something was up and he had to clear things with Maine. He needed to confirm his speculations. He was about to tell Maine that he wanted to talk to her when he received a message. It was unexpectedly a message that broke almost everything — his heart, his hopes, his dreams for the two of them… Everything. It was so sudden; he didn’t know how to react. He was speechless. He couldn’t sleep that night. He couldn’t wait to talk to Maine regarding her message. He needed to exactly know why. Details, yes. He needed to know the details.
Alden took three deep breaths before starting the conversation that he has been waiting for since that morning. “Okay. So ayun na nga, you sent me a message last night. At alam mong kailangan natin pag-usapan yun. Kasi ang unfair kung hindi.” Alden’s grip on the steering wheel tightens. “Okay. Itabi mo na lang muna yung kotse para mas makapag-usap tayong maayos,” said Maine, not even glancing at Alden. He parked the car in front of a convenience store.
He started by reaching for her hands to get her attention, “Maine tumingin ka sakin.” She turned her head to his direction but still looking down, not having an eye contact with Alden. “Maine,” his voice broke, “ano yung message mo sakin kagabi? Ano yun? Bakit biglang pinapatigil mo na akong manligaw sa’yo?”
“Hindi naman kita minamadali diba? Sabi ko sa’yo handa akong maghintay. Kahit next year pa yan o next, next year. Kahit kailan pa — basta maghihintay ako. Eh ano to?” He puts her hands to his cheek, his head leaning onto it, his tears falling at the back of her hand. “Mahal kita Maine eh. Alam mo yun, di ba? Please wag mo naman gawin ‘to.”
She was trying her best not to cry in front of him but her tears were threatening to fall. It pained her to see him begging but she knew she had to do this. “I love you too, pero hindi pa buong-buo. Hindi pa sapat. Hindi pa kasing tindi ng sayo. I love you as a special friend yet. Akala ko din papunta na ko dun — dun sa mahal na kita nang buo. Pero hindi pa pala. Na-realize kong hindi when Miggy started texting and calling me again. Last week we secretly met, at dun ko na nafeel na nandito pa rin pala siya,” said Maine pointing to her chest. That moment Alden sobbed harder, he kept shaking his head, refusing to take in everything she said. “Maine naman eh. Bawiin mo yan. Kunwari wala kang sinabi. Basta bawiin mo lang. Kakalimutan ko lahat ng ‘to.” He sobbed as he was planting light kisses on her hand. “I don’t deserve your heart, Alden. It’s better na as early as now, tapusin na natin. I don’t want you to keep hoping and waiting while someone else is still in my heart. You don’t deserve that agony. You’re really special to me. Siguro subukan mo munang maghanap ng ibang babae. Yung mas dapat sayo. Yung di ka sasaktan gaya ng ginagawa ko sayo ngayon.”
Alden finally let go of her hand and wiped his tears then placed his forehead on the steering wheel. “Tangina,” he said , almost a whisper. “Ang sakit naman nito. Nag ‘I love you too’ ka tas biglang sasabihin mo mahal mo pa rin siya. Tas sa huli hihirit ka pa ng ‘you’re really special to me’. Tas gusto mo pa maghanap ako ng iba. Gaguhan lang. Diba nga, I deserve you more than any other girl. Ikaw lang… Ikaw lang.” He bursts into tears again. He stayed like that for a few seconds then he finally sat up. After he has composed himself, he ignited the car’s engine. He took a deep breath before saying “Sige. Gusto mo yan eh. Susuportahan na lang kita.”
“I’m sorry.” Maine said, almost inaudible. She was pinching her fingers really hard. She was trying not to cry. Not now.
It got really awkward but he still had to drive her home; he wouldn’t let her take a cab or anything else. He still wanted her to arrive home safe. 45 minutes felt like hours. The silence was deafening. No one dared utter a word.
Maine was wearing a sleeveless top. She was suddenly feeling cold. She didn’t know if it was because of the air conditioning or because of Alden’s sudden cold aura. She started hugging herself while rubbing her arms. Alden kept his attention on the road but he still noticed Maine’s struggle. When the traffic light flashed red, he immediately grabbed his jacket in the backseat and silently placed it on Maine’s lap. Of course he would do that. He was hurt but he still cares for her. He will always care. Always.
Only the two of them and their families knew about Alden’s courtship. His secret official courtship started around April. He knew he had to do it already. They’d usually act like a couple; sometimes even them would doubt their real relationship status. They knew they’re friends but sometimes they’d also feel that it’s more than that. At some point, Alden would want to label their relationship already. He wanted them to be official. But he didn’t want it to be public if ever. Only their families and trusted friends should know. He already had a lot of plans. He only needed her yes. That’s when he finally took the courage to court her secretly. He had his hopes high. But now, everything fell apart. Now he was thinking how he would tell his dad that things between them have ended before anything could even start. His dad has always been very supportive. He wanted her for his son. But in one snap, all their dreams turned to ashes.
They finally arrived Mendoza residence. Alden immediately went out of the car to open the door for her. But he stayed there, blocking Maine’s way. She looked at him, waiting for him to move but he didn’t. “Nasaktan ako. Oo. Pero hindi pa rin magbabago ang trato ko sayo. Ikaw pa rin si Nicomaine Dei Mendoza — ang parating nilalaman nito,” he said pointing to his head, “at lalong-lalo na nito,” then to his chest. He forced a sad smile. A smile that didn’t reach his eyes unlike what it usually does. “Tandaan mo Meng, ikaw pa rin ang better half ko. Team pa rin tayo. Ikaw at ako. Kakampi mo pa rin ako. Pag sinaktan ka niya ulit, ako resbak mo.”
He cupped her cheeks then kissed her forehead. He bit his lips so hard it could get swollen. He was trying to prevent himself from bursting into tears again. She closed her eyes as she felt his lips touch her skin. Alden didn’t move. He was now almost hugging her head. He whispered to her ears, with emphasis on every phrase, “Mahal kita. I love you. Always… Promise.” His voice broke again, his tears streaming down his cheeks. “Pag dumating yung panahon na wala na talaga para sa kanya, sabihan mo lang sakin. Magsisimula ulit ako sa umpisa. Susuyuin ulit kita na parang walang nangyari. Pero sa ngayon, mamahalin na lang kita … nang mag-isa, nang walang hinihintay na pabalik.” He finally stepped back. She was now able to get out of the car. But Alden remained standing in front of her. She wanted to escape him; she wanted to get inside their house immediately but she just remained standing in front of him, too. She was unsure if she’d say goodbye, or good night at least. He reached for her hand then rubbed the back of it using his thumb. He kissed them. One long kiss. Was is like a goodbye kiss? Maybe. It lasted for a few seconds. She didn’t say anything. She just stood there waiting for his next move.
He finally dropped her hand and said, “Good night, Meng.” Then he returned to his car and drove away.
She loved him but it was still not enough. Not enough to ask him to stay. Someone else is still in her heart. And she knew Alden didn’t deserve that. She had to let him go.