P'Pee walks up to Gulf and taps him on the shoulder. "Marshmallow, do you know what's wrong with your Khun Phi?" He points at P'Mew sitting on a bench by himself. He's on his phone and his face is frozen in a scowl.
Gulf rolls his eyes. "He's being pissy."
Gulf bumps into P'Mew as they walk through the corridor. He shoots his senior a dirty look. P'Mew huffs and walks faster to leave him behind.
Gulf stares into Mew's eyes. They're narrowed and vicious, but so are Gulf's.
"I need to use it."
"So do I."
"You got first turn last time."
"That doesn't count, because you didn't have to go!"
"Of course it does. Did you or did you not get to go immediately after eating?"
"Then yesterday was your turn, because it was my day off!"
"That shouldn't count, because you weren't here to make use of it."
"Oh? Did you or did you not get to go immediately after eating?"
"Fine! You can use the bathroom first. I'll go find some air freshener."
Gulf sits on the couch in Tharn and Type's apartment. He's scrolling through Instagram, minding his own damn business.
P'Mew walks in, looks at him, and sighs. Gulf pretends he didn't see. He stretches out to lie on the couch, taking up all the room. P'Mew sighs again and sits in the office chair. Gulf feels triumphant.
Mew and Gulf stand about a meter apart, both on their phones, both turned away from each other.
It's stupid, really. They're being childish. They know better than this. And yet, here they are. Gulf misses being in P'Mew's arms, misses his smiles and his half moon eyes. He misses his singing, even if he's moved on from old love songs to pop music. He'll endure more BlackPink if it means he gets to sit in P'Mew's lap and just feel warm again.
But then the irritation builds back up inside him and he can't stand the way P'Mew chews or how he's picked up Tharn's habit of drumming on random surfaces. He hates that the hair and makeup crew keep styling P'Mew's hair in a fringe. He knows it's to make him look younger and more approachable. Goodbye sex god, hello whipped hubby. But damnit, Gulf misses that side parted Prince Charming hair. He likes seeing all of P'Mew's face.
Their scenes have been getting heavy. Type and Tharn are constantly fighting, getting in each other's faces, yelling. It reminds Gulf of their own fights, the harshness in P'Mew's voice, the coldness in his eyes.
No, not cold. Hot. Burning hot rage that seers into Gulf's heart. And Gulf knows he can give as good as he gets, and he can hear his own anger when he growls at Tharn and grabs his shirt collar. It's so much more intense than their early fights in the dorm room. Baby fights. Roommate fights. Nothing compared to the bitterness of fighting with the person you love. The person who's supposed to be on your side.
Gulf turns off his phone screen. He was just staring at it anyway. He's about to walk away when he hears P'Mew shift to look at him.
"Yai Nong?" His voice is low and pleading. Gulf turns to see large, imploring eyes and an expression of longing.
They all secretly want to be brought down to their knees and made to beg.
Gulf gives him the look that Type gives Tharn when all is forgiven. The indulgent smile of someone who can't stay angry for long. "Yes, Khun Phi?"
His senior wraps his arms around him, hugging him close and stroking his hair. "Sorry na. Sorry. I'm sorry." He keeps repeating his apology.
Gulf closes his eyes. He rubs his back, pressing his cheek against his. "I'm sorry, too." He doesn't know how he's survived this long without holding his senior.
P'Mew looks at him, his eyes back to half moons. "I should know better."
They both should. It's getting harder to leave behind the feelings they're channeling as Tharn and Type. They both decided early on that they would go all in for this performance, that they would make Tharn and Type as real as possible. But have they taken it too far? "Sometimes I don't know how to stop being Type…" he swallows, his breath coming out shaky.
P'Mew's smile is sad. "Sometimes I don't want to stop being Tharn."
Gulf slides his hands to P'Mew's waist, where he's most ticklish. "I like my Khun Phi better."
His senior laughs and cups his cheek. Gulf feels warm from the touch and from the look on P'Mew's face. He leans into his palm and smiles.
"Let's do this na," says P'Mew. "When we finish a scene, let's do this until we feel like ourselves again."
Gulf would give anything to have this. He can't think of a better way to leave behind the stress and conflict of being Tharn and Type than to do what he and P'Mew do best- hold each other.
He nods and closes his eyes. "Khrab. Let's do this na."
P'Pee walks by with an arm full of clothes. He looks at them and sighs. "Finally. I'm sick of you two fighting." He shakes his head and walks away.
Type reaches for his boyfriend's shirt, grabbing the collar and twisting it up. He wants to remind him who's taller, who actually towers over the other. His eyes are daggers as he looks at Tharn. How could he lie to him like that? Does he think he's a fucking idiot?
"And why don't you tell me, too, that this kid is your ex boyfriend?"
The fucking nerve. Tells him he went out with Song, then the brother of my ex band mate. Did Tharn think he forgot the story he told him? About how his band broke up because of that kid? Little shit's been causing no end of trouble and Type can't tell who he hates more right now- some punk ass little high schooler or his lying son of a bitch boyfriend.
Lhong's words ring in his ears. Tharn was deeply in love. He even wrote songs for Tar. They were so much in love. Type knows what that means. He knows how consuming Tharn's love can be. How fervid and ardent and faithful… well, so much for faithful.
"So, how was it?" He looks for some sign of a fight in Tharn's eyes. "Did he taste as good as when you were together? Was it satisfying? You hadn't seen him for a year."
His words seem to hurt himself more than they do Tharn. It wasn't enough that some brat had Tharn's love before him, that he'd felt and experienced everything before he did, that he knew what it was like to lie with him and be loved by him- God, he's going to lose it. He's going to lose his shit because of some whiny kid who already had his chance with Tharn and squandered it. The little brat shouldn't get a second chance. And Type shouldn't have to fight him for the man he loves.
Goddamnit, Tharn. You fucking son of a bitch. So nice . Too nice. Goddamnit, why couldn't he just say no? Is he not good enough for Tharn that he'd go crawling back to that crying little shit? After giving Tharn his heart, is it not enough?
"That kid was crying for your attention. Or are you going to tell me P'Tharn who screws around… couldn't get it up?" He's taunting him, but Tharn isn't responding. He isn't denying. Just fight, damnit! He wishes he'd show him that he's willing to fight for him.
His boyfriend reaches for his hands. Type doesn't want him to touch him. And yet he does want him to touch him. He wants Tharn to touch him and only him and is that so bad? Can't he keep Tharn to himself without having to stake his claim against P'San and now some child who thinks he can compete with him?
And yet he is. That simpering boy is winning.
"It's not what you think. There's nothing going on."
Lies. He saw everything. He knows the way Tharn touches his face, wipes his eyes, smoothes his hair. He knows, even with Tharn's back to him, what his face looked like and what his eyes looked like. He knows it because he knows what Tharn looks like when he's in love. Just as Tar does.
"Do you expect me to believe someone who's been lying to me?" It hurts, damnit. Is this how Tharn felt when he told him he would ask Puifai to be his girlfriend? Is this his punishment for hurting him back then? Is this what he has to withstand in order to have Tharn's love all to himself? Because he'll fucking do it. He'll do it if it means Tharn will be his and his alone.
"Does he still affect you?" He wants to hit Tharn. He wants to beat the living shit out of him for making him feel this way. For making him fall for him and admit to people that he's dating a man and for turning him into the thing he hates… but all he really wants to know is if he's the only one. Is he the only one Tharn loves?
Tharn says nothing.
"Answer me!" He grabs his shirt again. "Does he affect you?"
Nothing. Tharn can't even look at him. Goddamnit, Tharn. Why did he do this to him? He never wanted to be like this. He never wanted to love another man. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. Tharn, you asshole. You prick. You motherfucker.
The worst is that he can forgive it all. The lying, the deceiving, the fucking tender moment with his mewling ex boyfriend. He can forgive everything if Tharn just tells him he's the only one. That's all he wants. The damage is done- he's so pathetically and tragically in love with Tharn that he can never go back to being the person he was.
"Just deny it and I'll believe everything you say."
Can't Tharn see that's he's begging? Can't he see that he's already willing to forgive him? It can all be over if he would just tell him. And he'll believe it, because Tharn wouldn't lie about something like this. Not this. He'll believe him without question because that's how much he trusts him. Tharn, you bastard. Doesn't he know Type's heart belongs to him, that he could do anything with it and he'd let him? He gave it to him that night, no regrets, no looking back. He gave Tharn his heart and he meant it, God he meant it. Just deny it and I'll believe everything you say. His heart is breaking with every second that Tharn is silent.
Tharn reaches out for his arm. His eye contact is inconsistent. "I love you with all my heart, Type."
No. No, that's not what he asked. Tharn, you… you… Tharn… just tell me I'm the only one. That's all he has to do.
"Do you expect me to believe someone who can't answer a simple question?"
He's saying things, pleading and whining things. None of it is what Type wants to hear. None of it is the answer to a question so simple that it hurts.
"...I'll never meet Tar again." Tharn grabs his hands.
Goddamnit, he's so fucking sick of hearing about this brat. There's nothing he can do to make it stop, either. If he kicks the guy's ass, he'd be the bad guy, wouldn't he? There goes Type, being an asshole as always. He can't win against a fucking high schooler.
"I don't want to hear that kid's name in this room." Just give him that much. Give him the dignity of not saying the other guy's name in their home that they share together. The home that Tharn insisted on. Can't they have anything that's just theirs?
"Type…" he tries to hold him. He doesn't even agree to stop saying his name. Tharn, you fucking monster.
He pushes him away. "Let go of me."
He hasn't said that to him since before they started dating. Back then he said it all the time. His constant rejection to the man he loves. Let go of me. Every time- in the shower, on his bed, on Tharn's bed, when Puifai would text him. Let go of me.
It wasn't because Type didn't want his affection. He wanted it so badly that his heart ached for it, and it terrified him. It terrified him that he was falling head over fucking heels for his stupid handsome roommate who made his heart skip the first time he walked into their dorm room and made him question everything he believed. Let go of me, because if you don't, I won't ever let go of you.
He told him, didn't he? It's you who are mine, and I'll never let go of you again.
"Where are you going?"
"None of your goddamn business!"
He puts on his shoes and leaves. If I'm not the only one, then please let go of me. Because I don't have the strength to do it myself.
He stands out in the hallway, leaning against the wall. Fuck, he's crying. He's not supposed to be crying.
The door to their apartment opens, and a crew member comes out. "Nong Gulf kha, you can come back in."
He nods and walks back into the space. P'Tee calls cut and a wrap for the night. He nods again and makes wai to the crew members around him. He sees Tharn doing the same. Type can't look at him right now. It hurts too much, and he remembers that he's been crying. He hastily wipes at his eyes.
"Type." He feels a hand on his shoulder.
He turns around, avoiding eye contact with Tharn. He wants the ache in his chest to go away. He wants to forgive him and go back to being happy and falling asleep holding hands and making love on their bed. He wants Tharn all to himself, the only one who kisses him and plays with his hair and lays on his chest. Only him. Just him.
Tharn pulls on him gently, bringing him into an embrace. He doesn't want it, but at the same time he does. He allows himself to be held.
"Yai Nong…" Tharn whispers. "Yai Nong, are you okay?"
Type feels himself growing tired. He doesn't want to be here anymore. He doesn't want to be Type anymore. He wants to be Gulf again.
"It's me, I'm here." P'Mew strokes his hair. "I'm here, Nong."
Gulf wraps his arms around his senior. He closes his eyes and squeezes him. P'Mew. He pats his back with a closed fist.
"I'm okay, Khun Phi."
P'Mew breathes a sigh of relief. "You had me worried." He pulls away and looks at him. "You're crying." He wipes away at his tears.
Gulf lets him, standing still like the good boy he is, letting his senior take care of him. He smiles, though still somewhat sadly. "Thanks na Phi khrab."
"Hm." P'Mew smiles back with his half moons, beautiful and loving as Gulf knows him to be.
"This was a good idea," he says. He leans in for another hug. "It's like I get to come home to you."
He senior rubs his back and sighs. "Careful, or you'll make me fall for you."
Gulf laughs, poking his senior in the side and laughing harder when he yelps. "You should know by now, Phi, I'm never careful."
"Cut na khrab," says P'Tee. "It's a wrap for tonight."
Tharn wastes no time in grabbing Types hand. He pulls him in tight and whispers, "Please don't be mad at me forever. You're the only one."
Type closes his eyes, a tear streaming down his cheek. He slides his arms around his boyfriend and holds him tight. He inhales the scent of sporty deodorant and fruity shampoo. "P'Mew…"
"Forgive me na?"
"Sshh, P'Mew." He rubs his back. "It's Gulf. I'll always forgive you, Khun Phi."
He hears his senior sigh. "Yai Nong… I missed you."
"I missed you, too, Khun Phi."
Fuck, he dropped another one. How do people find this relaxing? Gulf grits his teeth and moves his needles.
"Shia," he mumbles. "All the things in the world and he chooses the grandma hobby?" He holds out the scarf he's knitting. Well, it's supposed to be a scarf. It looks like the skin left behind when a snake sheds.
Kaprao hums as he loops his needles back and forth. His scarf doesn't look any better, but he seems to be having more fun. "For the record, my grandma hates knitting."
"I like her already."
Kaprao looks at his creation and sighs. "It's a good thing we never need scarves in Thailand."
Gulf gives a half-hearted laugh. He watches his nong struggle with his knitting. How does he find the motivation to keep at it? He thinks about their friendship so far. When they met on Samed Island, he had no idea they'd stay in touch like this. But if he's learned anything about his junior, it's that he has persistence. Even the hobbies he's dropped had the lifespan of at least a few months. He's happy his nong kept the friendship going. How many times now has Kaprao been there for him through all this P'Mew stuff?
It occurs to Gulf that he's been selfish. He hasn't taken much time to know his junior, and he really ought to, being the senior and all. Gulf isn't used to being Phi. He knows about nong's hobbies, but that's really it. He doesn't even know his girlfriend's name.
He tosses his needle and yarn on the coffee table. "Hey, Nong. What's your girlfriend's name?"
"Huh?" He looks up, tongue sticking out the side of his mouth. His knitting has somehow gotten worse. "Oh. Fon. Why do you ask?"
He shrugs. "We never talk about your love life. Just mine, or the lack thereof. How did you two get together?"
"The first or the second time?"
"Oh," his eyes travel around the room. "First, I guess?"
"We met at a creative writing group." Kaprao counts his stitches and frowns. "Damn. What was I saying? Oh! We were partnered on a writing project."
"So, you two hit it off?"
Kaprao mutters to himself as he knits. "Huh? I mean, kinda." He tosses his needles and yarn on top of Gulf's. "Time for a snack." He heads for the kitchen.
They're sitting on the floor for some reason. Kaprao's idea. The floor is just a really big seat, if you think about it. They munch on seaweed crisps from the same bag, leaning against each other's shoulders. It feels nice. Gulf almost forgot what platonic physical affection felt like.
"The project was to write a story together, each person taking turns writing the next chapter." Krapao crunches into his seaweed. "Each author had to create a protagonist and write their chapter from their protagonist's point of view. And the protagonists had to interact with each other."
Gulf nods. He leans further on his nong, helping himself to another crisp. "Let me guess, your characters fell in love with each other?"
"Even better. They were mortal enemies who used to be friends, but their third friend died and they blame each other for the death." He shakes the seaweed bag to check for more. "Her idea, of course."
"Seriously?" Gulf eyes widen as he looks at him. "That's pretty heavy."
Kaprao has a big, dreamy smile on his face. "She's awesome. Anyway, we got really into it. I was the hero and she was the villain." He leans back against the cabinets. "Her villain was this hot-headed, emotional mess. Always on the verge of cussing someone out, always ready for a fight."
Gulf squirms a bit. He thinks he knows where this is going, considering the trend when it comes to talking to Krapao. "Was your character really handsome and neat and irritatingly nice?"
Kaprao points a finger gun at him, "I like the way you're thinking, Phi." He reaches into the bag for more seaweed. "But no. My character was more of an anit-hero. Alcoholic, thief, cheater at cards. A washed up has-been."
"Yeah, that's not where I thought this was going."
Kaprao scratches his chin. "Yeah, you're pretty bad at guessing. Anyway, I told you we got really into it. We would talk on the phone or meet up for coffee to discuss our story, mostly our characters."
Oh. Gulf brings a crisp to his mouth but changes his mind. Now he sees where this is going. "Khrab."
"We got super in depth about our characters. We talked about shit that didn't even make it into the story. It was intense, you know?"
Gulf knows. How many times have he and P'Mew gotten carried away? Hell, they have to hug it out these days to bring themselves out of character.
Krapao sighs. "Talk about intimate. Like looking into each other's soul or something." He crunches loudly into his crisp. "So, I mean, I had to ask her out. I just had to."
Gulf rests his head on Kaprao's shoulder. Everything his junior is saying sounds all too familiar, as it always does. Damnit, Krapao. "So, what happened?" Does he even want to know?
"Can't you guess?"
Gulf does have a guess. But then again he's bad at guessing. "I think… you realized that you weren't your characters?
"Maybe you're not so bad at this after all." He offers Gulf the last seaweed crisp. "You're right. She had none of the fiery rage of her villain that I admired. In real life, she's the sweetest, most responsible person I know."
"I mean, sweet is good, right?"
He nods and licks the crumbs off his fingers. "Totally. But if P'Mew turned out to be a completely different person than who you thought he was, even though he still possessed good qualities, would you feel the same about him?"
"Depends on what was different?" Gulf sits up and leans his head against the cabinets. What could possibly be different about P'Mew that he would still feel the same?
"What do you like best about him?"
Gulf hates this question. He knows it's something he'll be asked at interviews, and his answer is always the same. "P'Mew is very caring, especially to his juniors." He even sounds rehearsed when he says it.
Kaprao doesn't notice. "Fuck yeah he is. Did I tell you? He messaged me a pic of him and P'Pee making Wai to the platter of the sanay chan you brought! The caption said , The real Khun Phi." His nong is so amused.
If someone were to ask Gulf what he liked best about Kaprao, the answer would come immediately. His enthusiasm. He's never known someone so curious or so intrepid when it comes to learning new things. Even when he fails, he sees it as an experience. The point is, he sees something and he goes for it.
P'Mew, though… Gulf can't think of what he likes best. He can't tell if it's because he likes too many things about him or too few. Maybe he doesn't actually like him. Maybe P'Mew's just hot and good at cuddling and smells nice and kisses really well. But what about his personality? His habits? His pet peeves?
Gulf wonders if he should learn these things about his senior. He knows the basics- P'Mew likes to study (psh, nerd), he likes pop music (dork), and he likes sweets (cute). But you could learn all that from watching his interviews. Maybe he should make more of an effort. Then again, maybe these things shouldn't be forced.
His junior waves a hand in the air. "Keep going. What do you like about him?"
Gulf furrows his eyebrows. What is he supposed to say? "He's funny."
Kaprao makes a dismissive sound. "Lots of people are funny. What's unique about P'Mew? What do you know about him that makes him special to you?"
Fuck. The little shit's onto something. He whines and rests his head on Kaprao's shoulder again. His nong reaches over and pats his head.
"Been there, buddy."
Gulf looks up, his eyes round and imploring. "So what happened with you and Fon?"
Kaprao winces. "We broke up. It was awkward, you know? The sex was incredible, but outside of that we had nothing to talk about."
The sex was incredible. Gulf thinks back on the flirting, the kisses that exceeded their rating, their hard-ons during love scenes, and that time with the white shirt. There's no denying he and P'Mew have crazy sexual chemistry. It's why they were cast. They chose each other at auditions. Nobody else could be his Tharn, and nobody else could be his Type.
But what about Mew and Gulf? What are they to each other?
It wasn't Gulf's fault. He was being so careful. He's always so careful. It wasn't his fault, but he still has to pay.
"Probably two weeks," the mechanic tells him. "The dents are pretty bad."
Gulf looks at the damage to his car. So careful. Ever since he got his license, he's been such a safe driver. But none of that matters when the other driver is a moron. The guy ran a red light. It's not uncommon in Bangkok, but if you have to drive recklessly, you should at least be good at it. Gulf nods at the mechanic and pulls out his phone.
"Sawadee-khrab, P'Tee." He looks at his watch. "I'm calling a taxi now. I'll be there within the hour khrab."
He hears P'Tee repeat the news to someone else. "Which mechanic shop? Nong Mew says he'll pick you up. We're shooting the Tar and Tum scenes anyway." Gulf gives him the directions.
P'Mew sings along with the music as he drives them to the set. Another old love song.
"This song is from my mother's time," says Gulf. "Are you really only 28?"
P'Mew laughs. "It's from my mom's time, too. I grew up to it."
"You still didn't answer my question."
More laughter. "Why? Is it weird playing a couple with someone much older?" Is that a hint of concern in P'Mew's voice?
Truthfully, P'Mew has nothing to worry about. Gulf has never had an issue with their age difference. 21 and 28 isn't so bad, anyway. He'd say that he hasn't noticed it, but that would be a lie. From the very beginning, Gulf found it comforting to have someone older and wiser to turn to for advice. BL acting isn't for the faint of heart, especially for bottoms. He even admitted at the TEP interview that he felt P'Mew would protect him. Was that not clear enough?
But there's something else, too. Something secret and exciting about being with an older man. Something about P'Mew's experience of kissing other men and being in love scenes with them. Of knowing how to make men gasp and moan and cry out. Maybe even in real life. The thought alone is often enough to make Gulf hard and set his mind on a series of fantasies.
"No," he tells Mew. "I like it better this way. You have more experience for me to learn from. And Khun Phi takes care of me."
His senior laughs. "Yai Nong likes to be spoiled, I think."
More like Yai Nong thinks it's hot. He also admitted to that in the TEP interview, that he prefers someone who's older. Does P'Mew even listen to him? He rolls his eyes and mutters, "Already said I like older in the TEP interview, does he need a replay?"
"Does Khun Phi need hearing aids na?" He raises his volume. "I said I like that you're older." He shakes his head.
P'Mew smiles and reaches over to pat his tummy. "Careful, or you'll make me fall for you."
Gulf laughs and leans back in his seat. "I'd be okay with that. Khun Phi is very good to me."
P'Mew doesn't saying anything. He laughs and resumes singing. Gulf loves his voice.
Lately, it's felt like a teen romance movie. P'Mew said he'd give Gulf a ride to and from work until his car was fixed, and it's been weird spending more time together as Mew and Gulf. Wasn't this what he wanted, though? A chance to see what things are like off set?
It feels like a teen romance movie, because P'Mew does those things. The boyfriend things. The things that make Gulf feel giddy and special. P'Mew always gets out of the car when he picks him up. He always takes Gulf's bag and opens the door for him. He puts his bag in the back seat and -no joke- straps it in with a seatbelt, and the aircon is always pointed at his face. It makes him feel warm, despite the cool air. His Khun Phi takes such good care of him. That damn Prince Charming.
And then, for the thirty some minutes it takes to get through the Bangkok traffic, they talk as Mew and Gulf. He remembers what it was like in the beginning, not knowing what to say to P'Mew. Being intimidated by his handsome new co-star, the one he singled out from all the other guys at the audition. The only one who made him shy and turn red. The one he chose but never thought he'd get paired with. And now, he can't think of what not to tell him. Well, apart from his innocent-not-so-innocent crush on him. Everything else is pretty much fair game.
"Khun Phi khrab, I have something to ask you."
"What's your biggest fear?"
"What are you afraid of?"
Not what he meant, but whatever.
"Khun Phi khrab, I've got a question."
"Don't look at me like that. Would you rather lose the ability to read, or lose the ability to speak?"
"Noooo… if I don't answer, will there be a punishment?"
"Of course." Hasn't he ever seen a game show? "I get to tickle you for 30 seconds."
"Reading," he says immediately. "I'd rather lose reading. I love studying, but at least for fiction, there are audio books."
"Should have known. You love talking too much."
His senior pokes his tummy. "Yai Nong is so mean."
P'Mew reaches for the music player.
Gulf slaps his hand. "No more K-pop."
"Khun Phi khrab, I have a question."
"I must have done something bad in a past life."
"Shh, I'm going to ask now. What's something your parents don't know about you?"
"Um...I got a bad grade in college once?"
"No, that's lame. Tell me something secret."
P'Mew's eyebrows furrow. "Why is Yai Nong so curious all of a sudden?"
Gulf doesn't hesitate. "Because when I look into Khun Phi's eyes, I see mystery. But I want to see you."
Mew is silent for a while. Gulf can't read his reaction. He can't tell what his Phi is feeling. It's exactly the kind of mystery he's talking about. Behind the humor and mirth and shameless flirting is a Mew Suppasit that Gulf can't touch. He's only seen him on rare occasions- the dark look during the white shirt scene, the disappointed/relieved look in the dressing room, and the sadness when he told Gulf that it's easier to do crying scenes the more times your heart is broken. It's the same Mew who looks sad when he thinks nobody's watching, the one who looks at him sometimes with a question hanging from his lips that he never asks. A question that he might be afraid to ask. And Gulf wants to know it and answer it.
P'Mew scratches his head. "Let me think on it and get back to you, okay na?"
Gulf huffs and looks out the window. "Khrab."
"Khun Phi khrab-"
"But you don't even know-"
P'Mew turns up the music. Fucking K-pop.
P'Mew reaches for Gulf's hand at a stoplight. "Okay na."
"What's your question?"
Gulf squeezes his hand. "How many times have you been in love?"
P'Mew exhales loudly. "Wow. Couldn't save that for the evening question?"
Gulf shakes his head. "It couldn't wait."
His senior sneaks a glance at him. "Why?"
"Because I still see mystery."
P'Mew looks troubled. "How many times for you?"
Gulf looks down at the floor mat. His senior is usually too distracted by his questions to ask them back. What should he say? If he tells him the truth (zero), will it make things weird between them?
"I asked you first," he says. He looks at their hands still clasped together. He loves how well they fit. They don't hold hands much on the show. Mew and Gulf do it more often than Tharn and Type. Then again, haven't they always been more physically affectionate than their characters?
P'Mew pulls his hand back. Gulf's hand is left cold from their aircon, and he shoves it underneath his thigh to keep it warm.
His senior nods. "Okay na. How many times have I been in love?"
"Too many, I'd say." His laugh has a bitterness to it. "Or maybe not enough."
His jaw is clenched, eyebrows drawn together. It's that other P'Mew he's seeing now. "Not enough to learn my lesson." He pats Gulf on the leg. "No more questions today na?"
"No more today, Khun Phi."
P'Mew looks over at him. "You're quiet."
"I'm a quiet person."
"Not with me you aren't."
"Hmph. Khun Phi thinks he's special?"
"There's a moon shell on my night stand that says so."
Gulf stares at him. He keeps it on his night stand? Next to his bed? He shakes his head to clear his thoughts. "Not on your bookshelf next to P'Pee's heart?"
"That's for decoration. But the shell- that's just for me."
"Khrab." He looks out the window and smiles. Does this mean he's special, too? "Khun Phi khrab?"
"There it is."
"You're the one who started it. I was being quiet, remember?"
"Okay okay. What question does Yai Nong have for me today?"
"Would you rather have fame, money, or true love?"
P'Mew laughs, but not genuinely. "Where does Yai Nong get these questions, BuzzFeed?"
Gulf shakes his head. "Me. I want to know."
"You want to solve the mystery?"
"I want to know Khun Phi better than anyone." He should feel shy saying such a thing. He should feel shy saying a lot of things, but being straightforward is his own way of showing affection. As if to say, I won't hide from you. I'll always show you who I am.
Another fake laugh. "So, if I say fame, I'm vain. If I say money, I'm greedy. And if I say true love, I'm a fool."
Alai wa? "Why a fool?"
A bitter laugh this time. "Because I keep choosing it and I keep regretting it. But I choose it again every time."
Gulf squirms around in his seat. "Then none of them were true love."
"Ah, but that's why I'm a fool." He stops at a red light and looks at him. There's something like torment simmering right under the surface. Gulf can see it, even though his senior tries to conceal it. "I'm a fool, because I haven't learned my lesson."
"Which is what?"
"That true love doesn't exist." He gives him a sad smile. "I'd warn you, but perhaps Yai Nong wants to get better at crying?" The light changes and P'Mew looks back at the road.
Gulf shrugs. "Then I win either way. I can improve my acting, or I can find true love."
P'Mew laughs, a somewhat real laugh this time. "I'll see you at the Oscars. Or perhaps you'll have both one day."
"Yes, and he'll be my date at the Oscars."
Fuck. He just said… he . Shia. He looks around the car, eyes looking for an answer that isn't there. Gulf, you fucking idiot.
"She," he says desperately. "I meant she, of course. All this arguing is making my brain hurt." He turns to face the window, resting his head against the glass. So much for not hiding, for always showing who he is.
Keeping this secret feels so alien to Gulf. He wants to share so much of himself with people, and especially with P'Mew. Most of the time he's too introverted to put himself out there, but if prompted, he's always open and generous with his answers. But not about this. Not when there are too many things against him, too many things at stake, and not enough fortitude in his naive little heart.
Neither of them say anything for the rest of the drive.
Gulf decides to be nice today. He will ask P'Mew about his favorite member of Blackpink. He's been learning about them all week. Their names, their songs. He knows one of them is Thai. Of course the little spunky one. It makes him proud to see Lisa (it's Lisa, right?) showing the world how fun and warm and lovable Thai people are.
He lets P'Mew open the door for him and waits for him to start driving. "Khun Phi khrab? Who's your favorite member of Black-"
"...pink." Gulf pauses. "Wa ngi na?"
P'Mew's jaw is set firm and his eyes look dark. "I've had my heart broken a few times, but I've only been in love twice."
Gulf doesn't know what to do now that he has an answer. His brain won't give him any instructions. "Um, my favorite is Lisa…"
P'Mew laughs, softly at first, then steadily louder. He reaches over and pinches Gulf's stomach. "What will I do with my Yai Nong?"
Gulf knows this answer already. "Whatever you want."
"Khun Phi kh-"
"Yai Nong khrab?"
Gulf looks at his senior with big eyes. "Khrab?"
"Would you rather lose reading or speaking?"
Hmph. He grins at him. "Reading. I'll just have Khun Phi read to me."
A small smile appears on P'Mew's face. "Fame, money, or true love?"
Gulf doesn't hesitate. "True love. Every time until I find it."
His senior shakes his head, but his smile doesn't fade. "What do you fear the most?"
Gulf can feel his hands start to sweat and his ears burning up. His small, babyish ears that reveal his shyness every time. He remembers the questions he's asked P'Mew this past week, and he knows which ones are left. "Spending the rest of my life alone with nobody to love."
Something flickers in P'Mew's eyes, but it's gone too quickly for Gulf to identify. "How many times have you been in love?"
Gulf looks down again, embarrassed by his inexperience. What does his senior see when he looks at him? A child? A boy who knows nothing about life or love or heartache? A little shit who asks intrusive questions and controls the radio?
"I've never been in love."
It's a few seconds before P'Mew speaks again. "What's something your parents don't know about you?"
Gulf squeezes his hands into fists, his nails digging into his palms. I won't hide from you. I'll always show you who I am. He takes a deep breath. "That I've never been in love before, but I might be."
More silence. Another unreadable expression on P'Mew's face. Did he screw up? Did he ruin things? Did he scare him off with his juvenile infatuation? He wishes he would just say something. Panic starts to rise from his gut to his chest. He's surprised it took this long for it to kick in, but then again he's with P'Mew. They've been through so much that he didn't expect he'd feel this kind of panic with him.
The silence is overwhelming. He never thought he'd miss the sound of K-pop. Though, to be fair, it's starting to grow on him. And the fact that BlackPink songs have rap in them, well, Gulf's willing to call them a compromise. He shakes his head. He's lost track of what's going on. Oh, right. Nothing.
P'Mew sighs and gives him a smile. "My favorite is Jennie."
Shia. Gulf exhales the breath he was holding. "Jennie's a brat." Yes, he's watched all the YouTube videos of lazy Jennie. BlackPink is P'Mew's favorite group. So of course he did his research.
His senior laughs and rubs his tummy. "I like brats."
What the hell is that supposed to mean?
To be continued...