19 [8]: Positive Façade (1)

Chapter 8: Positive Façade (1)

The street became a little livelier as time flew by. There were a couple of people roaming the unpacked street. Some of the passersby were taking a walk with their pets, and a few people were doing their morning jog.

Marco stayed and observed the interactions between another passerby and his new acquaintances from the sidelines.

"Hey! Good morning!" a young man in a pale blue sweater and khaki shorts greeted us with a wave, just like any other passersby did earlier. He entered the open yard and got to where Dacron and Cooper are with a healthy golden retriever in tow.

The golden-furred dog barked twice, seemingly greeting a good morning just like its owner. It was like the lively morning sun, its fur shining bright under the sunlight while cheerily wagging its long tail.

"Good morning, Ginto!" Dacron greeted the golden retriever back with a silly grin. He squatted down and started petting the large dog.

"Hey! Are you ignoring me now?!" the young man exaggeratedly whined.

"Ginto, get away from that brat!" he ordered to his dog, which in turn, didn't listen to him and was still enjoying the soft scratches and caresses of the tan lad. He looked dejectedly at his blissful dog and disappointedly asked, "Huh. Aren't you supposed to be loyal to me?"

Cooper chuckled, turning away from the toolbox he was searching, and greeted the pouting young man, "Pleasant morning to you too, Kuya Darin." ¹

"Mm… Morning little Coo!" Darin, the young man in his mid-twenties, grinningly greeted back with a wave. The latter scowled at him.

Charleston entered the scene while wiping the rust stains in his hand with a rug. He noticed Darin and beamed, "Darin, you're actually up at this hour. What brings?"

"Well, Lauren keeps nagging me to do some errands," he said, frowning while waving a piece of paper. "I couldn't win against her."

The old man burst into peals of laughter. His iconic laugh echoes in the morning street as he pats the brunette-haired young man on his shoulder.

Marco lightly chuckled in amusement after hearing Charleston's boisterous laugh.

His low chuckle caught the attention of Darin. The young man turned towards him and beamed.

"Who do we have here?" Darin asked while looking at Marco, not far away from them.

The old man saw Darin craning his neck, so he also turned towards where he was gazing and found the young lad who had been leaning on the corner of his shop's entrance. He cleared his throat and signaled Marco to come over.

"This is Marcus," Charleston introduced the young lad beside him. He looked at Marco before motioning to the older young man, "Kid, this is Darin."

"Hi, I'm Darin Zelano," the young man introduced himself, smiling.

"Marcus Harrison."

Darin extends his hand for a handshake, "It's nice meeting you, Marcus."

Marco accepted his hand and politely replied, "The pleasure is mine."

"By the way, how did you end up here at Tito Charles' workshop?" Darin curiously asked. He leaned a little closer to Marco to whisper, already being quite familiar, "You know, the old man's got a cranky attitude."

'Ah, cranky indeed,' Marco silently agreed in his mind. He just chuckled at him and was about to answer when the old man beat him to it.

"He was looking for a place to stay, so I brought him here," Charleston answered on his behalf. The old man's calloused hand patted the lost souls' back twice.

Marco's sore back throbbed after receiving the hit directly on his bruises. He restrained himself from cussing, but a low groan escaped his lips from the jolt of pain instead.

'Damn, it hurts!' he silently cried in his heart. 'I just took a cold bath earlier to numb my back and reduce the pain.'

The two men near him heard his groan. Darin gave him an empathizing look, knowing the weight of the old man's hand, but he was chuckling. Meanwhile, the elder raised an inquiring eyebrow at him, hand still on his shoulder.

"It's not that forceful, is it?" Charleston asked. He was ignorant to the weight of his not-so-forceful pat and uninformed with the lost soul's beaten back.

'Sir, you just hit me spot-on right at my bruised back,' Marco wanted to say but held those words back.

Marco could only give a wry smile and shook his head.

Ginto's loud barks and the other two youth's chuckles became the background of their conversation. Dacron and Cooper were happily playing and petting the large golden retriever, who was enjoying their ruffling and scratches.

'I wanna pet the dog,' Marco thought, directing his attention to the dog.

"Then, you're new here?" Darin inquired, going back to the subject.

"Ah," Marco snapped out of his thought and directed his attention back to their conversation. He nodded and meekly agreed, "Yes. I just got here yesterday."

Darin was about to ask something when his phone started buzzing, vibrating in his shorts' pocket. He fished it out and grimaced when he saw the caller id.

"I'm sorry, I really need to go. Lauren's gonna kill me," Darin said as he hastily inserted his phone back into his pocket. He whistled, and Ginto's ears instantly perked up, and quickly ran to his side.

Dacron and Cooper both stood up once the golden retriever runoff from their touch.

Darin turned towards the two youngsters. "Oh, by the way, could you guys tell Sync to come a little sooner, later?"

"Will do," Cooper politely nodded.

"Thanks. I'll be off then," Darin said. He then turned to the old man just a few feet away from him to bid farewell while waving his hand, "Bye, Tito Charles!"

"Off you go," Charleston replied, gesturing him to leave.

"You guys could drop by later. Marcus should be there, as well." the young man said with a smile as he glanced at the lost soul beside him.

Marco hummed in response, even though he had no idea where and what that place might be.

'Ah, damned reflex,' Marco thought, wanting to scold himself.

On his way out, Darin stopped in front of Dacron, interlocking their gaze. Gone was the young man's friendly attitude, and so was the tan youngster's lively mood. The atmosphere between them was getting heavier, and the other men could sense it too.

"Dacron," he called out in an earnest tone. "It would not hurt to go back. Ma's waiting."

Dacron visibly flinched but didn't reply. He lowered his head and remained silent.

Darin glanced at the silent tan lad. He heaved a sigh and passed him to go on his errands.

The other three men were quietly staying on the sidelines. Cooper was gazing at Dacron's back, looking quite worried, but he didn't do anything more or even move from his spot.

"He's Dacron's older brother," Charleston informed, breaking the silence. He was somewhat solemn while following Darin's departing figure before shifting it to Marco.

'Oh. No wonder they look quite similar,' Marco thought as he also cast a glance at Darin, then turned his gaze to follow the back of the tan young lad.


Marco stayed at the workshop's entrance, together with Cooper and Dacron, who were both doing their own things. Charleston was nowhere in sight.

It hasn't been long since the shop opened, and they already had quite a number of visitors and cute little customers.

"Ah, Dacron! My bike's front wheel deflated!" a young boy with blond hair yelled as he came running into the shop with his blue bike in tow.

Another boy with brown hair came, also towing his green bike. He cried, "Cooper! Mine also has a flat wheel on the rear!"

Each of the kids parked their bicycles to the side before they ran to hug each of Dacron and Cooper's waist. They started arguing about whose bike should be first to be repaired while still clinging to the teenagers.

"Okay, stop arguing now," Cooper softly said while patting the crown of the brown-haired boy who was hugging him.

"Yeah, listen to your Ate Coo," Dacron said, grinning. ²

Cooper's smile and soft temperament instantly vanished. He sent a menacing glare at Dacron, who immediately shut his mouth.

'These kids were no older than ten years old,' Marco noted while looking at the hyper children.

'They are around the same age as Mavis.' He diverts his gaze away from the children as that thought crosses his mind.

Just as when he turned away, his gaze immediately interlocked with a figure walking inside the building.

It was a tall and slender-looking young man with almost shoulder-length jet-black hair tied in a half-bun. He had his right hand near his mouth, seemingly covering it while yawning. His pointed nose and sharp jawline were prominent from his side profile. His black hair was covering his forehead and his eyes, almost reaching the tip of his nose.

His outfit was a simple black shirt, denim pants, and white sneakers. The young man's posture was listless, but each step he took was in long strides.

Marco tilted his head a little, but his blank expression was unchanging. He wondered, 'Hmm... He looks familiar, but where did I see him?'

Dacron, who was squatting beside him, noticed the young lad's long gaze.

"Oh! That's Sync," the tan youngster languidly said, looking over the young man before glancing up at Marco, then back to the latter.

"Hey, du..." Dacron trailed off. He was about to call out to his friend but saw him yawning almost endlessly, without caring for the world.

Marco silently hummed in response. His eyes followed that young man's back for a moment before he crouched down and stared at the deflated bicycle wheel, inspecting it.


Ginto means gold in Filipino.

[1] "Kuya" means older brother in Filipino.

[2] "Ate" means older sister in Filipino.

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