a short story by The Overlord Bear/Jem De Ocampo
with character designs and a cover illustration by Chikari
Summary: Recovering a from a scathing scolding by his older sister Reina over a shameful attempt at getting over her girlfriend and his childhood crush Cel, Ryan Diamante also has a close encounter with a more spiteful man who somehow manages to help the heartbroken young man properly stop his twisted pining.
I couldn’t help saying that as I squeezed my way out of a jeepney in front of a certain mall on the edge of my city. I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t wearing this frilly wool skirt, which made me feel both too hot and too cold because of tropical temperatures and random breezes respectively. And then there’s my knowledge about how this, along with the rest of this clearly womanly outfit I’m wearing, was one of those pieces that my handsome lady of a childhood friend and crush Cel usually wore for…special night occasions…with my older sister Reina.
Again, I gulped as I feared that they would identify me upon sight. But I still kept on walking towards the mall. I’ve gone as far as leaving stings upon my now hairless limbs on top of actually going out in this getup I’d rather see Cel in, and besides, maybe I’ll get really lucky as I…stalk them, right?
And then nervousness came up again as I noticed eyes that seemed to rove all over me from their turned heads. Not even the mall interior’s air conditioning along with my slightly undersized clothing made the discomforting heat more bearable. And then there was the matter of feeling more exposed with my usually pocketed valuables being in a handbag.
Swallowing my saliva once again, I pointed my bare face to the floor, raising it for glances here and there while desperately hoping that I’ll never have to feel that nervousness any further. I also felt thankful that I didn’t try to put on makeup, as it would’ve made me stick out even worse with how dumb I’d be about wearing it.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed my frilly sleeved shoulder, making me loose a shrill squeak as I was turned around and pulled down.
“…Ryan?” said the normally squeaky voice with very sharp eyes that caught me as expected, especially as her other scarily strong hand raised the long bright wig over my cropped black hair a bit.
Reina Diamante put the wig back in place, and she stepped back with clenched fists. It would’ve looked ridiculous to see a big guy like me cower over this little woman, but for better or worse, she’s my older sister, and she knows that very well.
And of course, behind her was Cel Liwayway, her girlfriend. Not mine. She’s not as tall as I am, but she’s definitely tall for a woman. And then there’s how she looks so handsome even with her curves. A “hunk with boobs” is definitely a good way to describe her. Even as she looked on with widened eyes, she still stood straight without looking stiff. As usual, she’s just that cool.
“We need to fucking talk.”
But before I could get a further look at her, Reina pulled me by the wrist out of the mall proper and through lines of parked cars, her rage burning hotter than the sun beating down on us once again. Her small build seemed to help pack strength into her more tightly, and all that stood out even more with the frilly clothes she wore, a wonderfully worn style that I horribly mirrored with my wasted basketballer build and ripoff artist sense.
“You’re really that fucking desperate, aren’t you, Ryan Diamante?” Reina snarled as she stopped at Cel’s blue Jazz. “If you weren’t my younger brother, I would’ve stomped your giant manchild ass on camera as soon as I spotted you skulking around back there like the wimpy bitch you are, you know? But either way, I am fucking pissed. Now, do you want me to be a Captain Obvious about why I’m pissed, Ryan?”
I knew this was likely to happen, but I still went for it. I’m trying to do my best, and I know Reina and Cel are also trying to do their best, but it still hurts to face the truth, and I hate it all. I wish I had bigger balls to stomp my older sister on camera, too, all while wearing this stupid getup she’d force onto the stronger girl I longed for my whole life. But I couldn’t because I was dealing with my sister and my crush here, and the years all three of us spent together had me so deeply attached to the both of them. For one, I was always glad whenever Reina’s burning glare was something I could hide behind and watch destroy bullies.
“You know, Reina, maybe you should tone it down a bit?” said crush of mine swooped in with her seemingly perpetual cool again. Funny how my younger and stupider self happily thought that she’d get along real well with Reina as I looked forward to introducing them to each other. “We’re out in the open, and – “
“And you!” Reina turned to point at Cel. “Stop coddling the little shit!”
“Come on, Reina, you know he’s got insecurities, too,” my too kind crush kept going, though her rising hands showed her increasing nervousness. Combined with me and my burning tears, we formed an image of two towers being toppled by this short lady we also jokingly called Kong.
“Well, if every criminal could be excused because they have insecurities, then what the fuck is crime, Cel?” Reina snapped back even harder, dragging me out of my stupid reminiscing. “What the fuck is it, then? We can’t use those as excuses for shitty behavior forever! But if you want to be a fucking nice guy so fucking much, then fuck it, I’ll give you some fucking space, then!”
And then Reina walked out on us.
Cel and I couldn’t muster up any words to that and to each other. We just gave each other awkward looks as we wiped our own faces, and while she jogged to her exploded girlfriend, I shambled my way back to the mall proper.
I gave minimum glances to my handbag and the mallgoers as I made my way to a fast food chain. What was just a short walk away also felt long thanks to the cold feeling me up now. How much more must I do to prove that I understand women and whoever else hates us trash called straight men?
And right as I thought that I was about to get some big relief by actually ordering some food…
“Two of those, please. I’m with the wonderful dear here.”
…a dangerous mirror appeared.
He was short, but a bit taller than Reina, and obviously longer-haired than her. He also carried quite the handsome composure, but he was no Cel, as he carried it with thinly disguised swagger, something emphasized by the snaggletooth his smile revealed. But to most people, he probably looked like some sort of idol or pop sensation with his light skin under coordinated fashion plus babyfaced yet sculpted features that even had cosmetic chemicals, and of course, the cashier was charmed, blushing while taking this intruder’s order.
In other words, it was a dolled-up creepy scene ripped straight out of popular fiction, and that thought had me wondering if I was going even more too insane. Not helping was how he seemed like the woke woman’s guilty pleasure from my fantasies, those same fantasies that pushed me to go for that failure of a quest for my taken childhood crush.
I now faced a real person who fit the image of my impossible dreams. Of course I couldn’t help letting him be with his order.
I followed him to a back corner table. We sat on opposing sides, and while I sat stiff and straight, he placed his chin on his arms and continued smiling at me, his lips now putting a bit more emphasis on his fang.
“Your sister and her girlfriend are quite the lovely specimens, Ryan.”
And then came the inevitable wave of slime that accompanied my stupid fantasizing. If he were busy bagging hot girls, I would’ve felt little pain, but in here, it was like being alone with my thoughts again.
This time, though, it felt like the most painful I’ve ever had so far, and his next words solidified that description.
“I have a thing for cute firebrands, while you have a crush on her girlfriend. I can even dress up like you to make it more enjoyable. Can you guess what I’m getting at here, then?”
I knew what he was offering me here, but I maintained my silence.
Then he blinked. “Name’s Anzy Diaz, by the way,” he said, still smiling. “Part-time model, delayed university student, creepy dreamer’s best friend.”
And then he seemed to flick a business card into existence, probably from under a long sleeve. Of course, the mass-produced thing was all neat and charming, dainty handwriting accompanying his deceptive face.
“I like busting my way to a conquest,” he continued, using two fingers to push the card towards me, “But I don’t like forcing allies into my team, especially not when they’re as poor as you. I understand if you need time to think about it, too. And you can call me whenever you want. Or maybe you can never call me at all. You’re not the only potential ally in the world, after all.”
“How are you still walking free?”
Again, it was like being alone with my thoughts again. And my thoughts had a lot more filial and platonic love than I liked to admit. So I ended up responding that way.
“How are you still not in jail?” I asked the obvious question, my rage leaking out.
Anzy Diaz laughed. “Of all the stupid responses you could’ve given, that’s what you go with? You’re really funny, dear!”
Meanwhile, I still wasn’t laughing. I was charmed by this guy, but someone like him, someone who reminded me of impossible fantasies, would always be a stranger to me.
“But I know you want this power I have, Ryan,” he then hunched a little too forward, making me pull back. “I know a kindred spirit when I see one. You’ll never be able to have a body like mine, but I can be your best friend forever. And you look like you want someone better than that idiot of a friend you’ve been chasing your whole life.”
I stood up to my full height in response. “Get out,” I ordered as I looked down at him. “I don’t know if you’re just another idiot or the Devil himself, but I hope I never have to deck you right now, and I hope I never see you again.”
At that, one eye of his twitched. Then he stood to his shorter full height. Then he smacked a fist on the business card on the table.
“And if you ever call me after this,” he told me, “You’ll only have one chance to bust inside your crush, while I’ll have all the chances to bust inside her too.”
With that, he stomped away…
“Got it all on cam, darling?”
…only to bump into the two most precious ladies in my life.
My eyes burned with tears again, but with way more happiness this time. I held no fear now, not even towards the bystander eyes near us, and not even at the thought of never being able to have Cel as a lover.
“You know you’ll just make me more famous with that, right?” Anzy Diaz sneered at Reina and Cel.
“I guess,” Reina smirked as she handed her smartphone over to Cel. “But I wonder if you’d like to be famous for what comes next?”
As Anzy Diaz stared with bewilderment at my older sister, Reina went towards me and pulled me into a hug.
But that wasn’t really shocking.
“MY YOUNGER BROTHER’S A HOMOPHOBIC AND TRANSPHOBIC CREEP! BUT I’LL FORGIVE HIM OVER AND OVER EVEN IF THE WORLD HATES ME! ‘CAUSE I KNOW – No, I WANT TO BELIEVE THAT HE CAN BE WAY BETTER THAN THAT!”
Now that was shocking.
“Yeah, brag it up, virtue-signaling bitch!” Anzy Diaz then yelled, thin politeness thrown out the window as he walked out. “Fuck this shit! Hope you all die slowly and painfully!”
At that, there was astonished silence from the other folks inside the fast food establishment.
And then there was tearful laughter from us three lucky idiots.
Author’s Note: Hooray, a new short story that isn’t prompted! And I’m even more confident about this compared to “Smothering Surprise,” which I find kinda funny because I didn’t get a beta reader for this one. I get the feeling that it’s mainly because of Anzy and how he got served here, which I consider a development that is another reason for me to praise and thank God very much again.
Also, big thanks to Chikari, whom I commissioned to draw for me once again! Really nice dramatic feel the cover has, no? And I think that’s something, especially considering how soft the drawing looks. It really adds well to the themes here, now that I think about it some more. So yeah, thanks very much again!
And of course, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!