7: Past and Present

I was so shocked by Axel's sudden character change that all I could do was stare at him. His small eyes screamed desperation, his thin lips pouted as he pleaded for me to grant a favor that he want so badly. I took a deep breath to regulate my breathing and finally asked him a question that I might regret asking.

"Help with what exactly?" I finally asked, still a bit suspicious. His whole face lit up as soon as he heard what I just said.

He then leaned in and told me his request. My eyes widened as he finished everything he has to say. It took some time for my brain to process what I just heard, and when it finally dawned on me, I can't help but smile at him. We then left the fire exit together and as soon as we went through that door, I realize that I'm in so much trouble. Andrea just peeked out of the door leading to our office, in time to spot me and Axel, exit the fire exit.

I watched as her face turned sour at the sight of me and Axel together. She's been my best friend for a long time, and I know exactly what her face says. A green monster is whispering in her ears right now, and she trying her best to not listen to it. I approached her as cautiously as I could. Axel waved goodbye to both of us as I stopped in front of Andrea and he went straight to his cubicle.

"Let's go?" she asked forcing herself to smile as we were left alone. She started walking back to get her things leaving me alone in the doorway.

"Jealousy doesn't look good on you." I whispered to her, wrapping an arm on her shoulder and dragging her back to my cubicle. I got my bag from my desk and saw Axel, in the corner of my eye, looking our way and smiling as he left the office. I laughed slightly as I remembered what he just told me catching Andrea's attention again but I just shrugged at her.

We got onto the elevator together and for the first time in forever, there was an awkward silence between us. I could see her stealing glances at me through the corner of my eye, making it so hard to suppress my laughter at the thought of how much it must be killing her to not ask me any questions.

"For the record, I'm not jealous." she stated as the doors of the elevator started opening. She quickly got out of it, leaving me, finally making me release the laughter that I tried so hard to hide. She looked back at me and rolled her eyes before starting to walk again. This time, I controlled myself and went after her.

"So, you're not going to give me a ride home?" I asked and she just shrugged her shoulder coldly at me. I followed her to her car and got in as soon as she opened the door. I waited for her to get in and when she did, her rant started.

"Are you not going to tell me what happened between you and Axel in the fire exit? I thought you and sir Mitchel had something, and you know how I feel about Axel. But it looks like you don't even care if I take what I saw in the wrong way. Just what the heck, Cath! You're my best friend, I thought I'm worth more to you than a guy, I guess I was wrong." she blurted out, words just gushing out of her mouth, making me giggle more.

She turned to my side looking at me like I'm some sort of freak, but I just shook my head at her. I reached from the pocket of the jacket I'm wearing, taking out a neatly folded piece of paper and handing it out to her.

"I don't know what's more unbelievable. You, thinking that Axel might have a thing for me, or that I'd be something more than friends with someone that I know my best friend has a thing for?" I asked her jokingly. She started unraveling the handwritten letter that Axel wrote for her and with teary eyes, she looked back at me.

"Sorry, Cathcath! I should never have doubted you!" She said to me half crying and half laughing as she suddenly pulled me into a tight hug. I pulled away after a few seconds and wiped the stray tears that were rolling down her cheeks.

"Go get him." I said to her pinching her cheeks, then opened the door and got out of her car.

"You sure you're going to be fine?" She asked and I just nodded at her before closing the door. She rolled down the window and smiled at me so brightly that I can't help but smile back at her.

"You're the best Cath!"

"I know! Now go and get your man!" I said to her and she immediately sped off out of the parking lot. I started walking to the nearest bus stop, not being able to stop myself from smiling as I remembered what happened.

"I need your help." Axel said.

"Help with what exactly?" I asked still a bit suspicious, but his face immediately lit up.

"First things first, is Andrea seeing anybody right now?" he asked without any prior context. At first, I was taken aback by his question, but I immediately understood what he meant.

"I don't think so. Why do you ask?" I said, trying to sound like I didn't know where this conversation was going.

"Do you think she's going to be up for a date?" he seriously asked. I tried putting on an innocent face, but I don't think it worked.

"Why don't you ask her?" I asked him trying to sound serious.

"I don't want her to think I'm creepy or something." he quietly said while staring down on the floor.

"I don't think she'll think that way, why don't you try?" I said trying to encourage him.

"Can you just give her this note?" he asked handing me a neatly folded piece of paper.

"Can I open it?" I asked and Axel nodded, giving me a go signal.

Do you want to go on a double date? If you're up for it, please go to the Lotus Restaurant at 8 pm.  I'll be waiting. -Axel

My stomach started to tingle as I read the message on the paper and I couldn't stop my smile anymore.

"Consider it done." I said to him and the two of us left the fire exit.

I stopped by a fast-food chain and ordered food for takeout and finally went home. I immediately ate my dinner and started to draw a bath to relax. I then flop down on my bed as I waited for my bathtub to fill, I guess Axel finally fell for my best friend.

I was about to go and soak in my tub when my phone started ringing. I looked at the phone in my hand and my mood immediately turned sour as I saw the caller ID, Mom. I declined the call and went to my bathroom. I turned on music from my phone, took off my clothes, and finally soaked my stress and fatigue away in the warm and bamboo-scented water.

It's been a whole year since my mother has bothered calling me and honestly I'm not curious about what she has to say to me. I know she'll just force me to do something that I don't want to do and I'm so over them controlling my every move. That's the exact reason why I left home, without taking anything from them, because I know that my parents will always hold that against me.

The music then stopped and my phone rang again. I declined the call from my mom, but after a few minutes, it just rang again. I kept declining her calls but she just continued calling me, so I turn my music on again and put my phone on airplane mode. I know I should have just blocked her, but she'd just use different numbers and it would be easier to just know who was calling, but I don't want to be involved in their life-controlling fiasco anymore. I just wish that I took my sister with me when I left, she might feel so alone right now.

"Zoe! Zoe! Don't go! Please! Don't leave me!" my sister cried out as she hugged me tightly, not leaving any space between us. I pulled her off of me and held her by the shoulder looking her right in the eyes.

"Zab. Listen to me, okay?" I said to her and she nodded.

"I'm gonna come back for you. Right now, I don't have any means to support the two of us but once I do, I'll come and get you, okay?" I promised her, she nodded at me and I smiled at her before heading out of the door.

I suddenly heard a continuous pounding in my head. I guess I fell asleep while soaking, I thought I was still dreaming, but then it started again, this time a bit louder than before followed by a familiar voice. I'm still so sleepy that I honestly can't make up what it was saying. I sat up from the tub, wore my robe, and went out of the bathroom to try listening to the voice. 

"Zoe! Are you there?" said the voice from outside my apartment. I was startled by the familiar voice that without even thinking twice, I rushed to the door.

I immediately opened the front door and saw the back of someone about to walk away from my apartment. She turned around and immediately flashed me a bright smile as soon as she saw me. And as soon as I confirmed who she was, I blurted out the only thing that came into mind at that time.

"Zab! What are you doing here?"

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