They're shooting at the bar, the scene where Tharn drinks himself stupid because of that asshole Type. Mew doesn't have to dig too deep to play this scene. The emotions are readily available to him, given his romantic history. Tharn feels rejected on so many levels, that touching on just one would be sufficient for the scene.
He should have known better, really. He should have known that pursuing Type was always doomed to failure. A lost cause. The guy hates gay people. How on Earth did Tharn think he could pull this off?
And yet… it was happening, wasn't it? Wasn't type slowly starting to reciprocate? Tharn's been over this in his head a million times. And while it's obvious Type likes him back, the fact remains that Tharn is simply not good enough. Not good enough for Type to admit his feelings, and not good enough to compete with a girl.
He hopes she's nice. He hopes she treats him well and makes him happy. He hopes she gives him all the things he wants, because Tharn will never get that privilege. Tharn, who is a man. Tharn, who is gay. Tharn, who is only good for a good fuck.
P'Tee calls it a wrap, and Mew makes wai to P'Jeed and her husband. The tears are still welled on his eyes, threatening to break the barrier of his water line and flow down his cheeks. He sees Gulf standing behind the monitors, and he finds he can't hold the tears back any longer. He embraces him tightly, hiding in the crook of his neck, where he wants to live. He feels his weight drop onto his co-star, but he can't support himself anymore. The tears run down his cheek, the overwhelming worry that Tharn isn't good enough for Type, and that Mew isn't good enough for Gulf.
All the fears he's been harboring come bubbling to the surface. He's too old for Gulf. He's in a different part of his life where he's ready to settle down and get serious about his future. Gulf is just starting out. He'll want to experience life before deciding on a path. They'll want different things. They have different personalities. Mew loves talking and socializing. He loves being around other people. Gulf hates all of that. He prefers one on one interaction, if he has to interact at all. Hell, they don't even know each other that well. They know more about each other's characters than each other.
And there's his baggage. Mew has so much history, so many wounds from past lovers. Gulf still cherishes his ex. Mew has but one ex whom he's on good terms with, his college girlfriend, Fasai. Otherwise, Mew is scarred. And experienced. He's learned from his mistakes, whereas Gulf has yet to make them. The disparity of their perspectives eats away at him. It makes him feel too much like an authority figure compared to Gulf's innocence. Like they aren't equals, and Mew wants them to be equals in every way. For all these reasons, and possibly more, Mew knows he's not worthy of Gulf.
He pulls away, wiping the remaining tears from his eyes. His junior reaches out, running his thumb under his eye to dry his cheeks. Sometimes he wishes Gulf wouldn't touch him so tenderly. Or as often. Or at all. It would make it easier to give up on him.
"Careful," he tells his Yai Nong. "Or you'll make me fall for you." He means it this time. Every day, Gulf runs the risk of making him fall for him even more.
He holds Mew on either side of his face, staring into his eyes. "I'll live," he says. He says it so simply, so reassuringly that Mew wants to take it as an invitation. But that's more wishful thinking, isn't it? Gulf might live through it, but Mew might not.
"Don't break my heart like Type," he says, half crying and half laughing. He means this, too. Because Gulf could break it if he wanted to. It would be so easy.
His junior scoffs and shoves at his chest. "Don't give me a reason to." But Mew thinks he just might. How many other things has he screwed up in the name of love? Because when it comes to such things, Mew is the biggest fool of them all.
They leave arm in arm that night, with Mew singing as they head to the parking lot. It's the love song he sang the day P'Pee came over and asked when he'd started singing again. He knows it's because of Gulf that he's resumed his old habit, that Gulf is the reason he feels inspired to sing. He looks over and sees his nong watching him.
"How does Khun Phi do it?"
"Your crying scene," he explains. "You're so believable. I almost felt bad, as if I'd actually hurt you." But no, Mew hurts himself enough. Tortures himself with fears and doubts.
He laughs, pulling Gulf closer. "It gets easier the more times your heart is broken." Simple as that.
His co-star pokes at his chest. "Ah, but you said you never have trouble with girls."
"Oh?" He pauses. Well, it's true. He wonders what conjectures Gulf is drawing from this fact. Does he want him to know that he's dated men? It would only matter if he decided to pursue something with Gulf. Otherwise, it's trivia. Furthermore, why does Gulf remember this? "I guess I did say that. My car's over there. I'll see you tomorrow." He squeezes Gulf's arm before disengaging himself. He'll let his co-star draw his own conclusions.
Mew starts his car and rolls down the window. "Yai Nong?"
He looks at his junior, at his bare face, no makeup, no product. Even his hair is in its natural state of fluff. The parking lot lighting is harsh on his features, and yet how lovely he seems. So real and raw and unfiltered. No trace of Type, just Gulf.
"Thanks for being my stress ball tonight."
Gulf salutes him and walks toward his own car. Something nags at Mew as he drives home. Should he have been more open with Gulf?
"I wish you wouldn't try to hold my hand in public," said P'Bank. He removed his shoes and sulked over to the couch.
Mew slipped off his sneakers, eyes glued to the floor. He knew it was risky and stupid, but he couldn't help himself. Could anyone blame him for wanting to show off his gorgeous boyfriend? His hot, older boyfriend who was a third year in college and had his own apartment? Mew wanted to tell his friends, but P'Bank's little brother went to the same high school, and well, Mew couldn't tell anyone. And it was killing him. At this point, he thought about coming out to his sister just so they could moon over how hot Bank was.
"Come on, then," he called to Mew. He gestured for him to snuggle next to him. Mew obeyed, curling his taller self against his Phi. "I just don't want us to get hurt," he said.
Mew nodded. "I understand na Phi. I just want everyone to know you're mine." He looked up at his lovely, round eyes and full lips. Mew remembered the first time P'Bank kissed him, how clumsy and eager he was to please an older boy. A college boy. A man. And much later, when P'Bank told him roughly that he wanted Mew to take him, to show him what a handsome boy such as himself could do, Mew wanted more than anything to rise to the occasion.
Mew also remembered how gentle P'Bank was afterwards, when Mew failed spectacularly. Bank having to teach Mew how to prep him properly, how to feel it out and tell when to add another finger. When he went soft trying to please his senior, his mind so anxious, his courage so frail. A disaster. And P'Bank assured him that topping wasn't as easy as it seemed, and that they could try again later.
The second time was better. Mew was always an attentive person, and paying attention to his lover was easy once his anxiety faded away. He didn't need P'Bank to tell him when he was ready. And God, seeing his senior laid out on the bed, hot and eager for him, it brought out something in Mew that had been dormant in all his 17 years of life. Something feral and dominant. And P'Bank nearly woke the neighbors that night with the sounds he made.
They're shooting separately for most of the day. Mew has his scenes with Techno and Lhong, while Gulf has his texting montage. It feels weird being apart, particularly where they left off last night. Mew replays it in his head, Gulf's teasing face as he called his bluff, Ah, but you said you never have trouble with girls . What was Gulf trying to get at? Calling him out on his arrogance? Calling him out on his sexual orientation?
Probably arrogance. The little shit likes to tease him, likes to prove him wrong whenever he can. Does he even know how close he got to discovering the truth? Mew isn't very secretive about it. Didn't he post a video online where he admitted that gender doesn't matter to him in love? He meant it. He meant for everyone to see it. At some point, you just don't give a shit and you want people to see you as you really are. And hell, doesn't every fan want to know the truth about their ships? Mew's the kind of person who wants to share everything with the world. Happiness and love ought to be collective things, emotions to contribute to the universe.
He just wonders what would happen if Gulf ever found that video. How differently would he look at him?
"Fuck, baby." P'Bank lay back on the pillows, his breath shaky and his face flushed. "You're amazing. Are you sure I'm your first?"
Mew wiped his boyfriend's chest, smiling down at him. He joined him on the bed, trailing kisses up his neck. "Yes. Don't you remember my first time?"
P'Bank chuckled, bringing Mew in for a kiss. "No. You fucked the memory out of me. Can we do that again tonight?"
Mew fell back on the pillows, exhausted but exhilarated. He basked in the tingles that traveled the length of his body, recalling P'Bank's earlier praises that he was the best he'd ever had.
He curled around his senior and kissed his shoulder. "P'Bank khrab?"
"Can I ask how many people you've been with?" A reasonable question, given the six months they had been together.
Bank stared at the ceiling, his lips moving silently as he counted. "Six?"
"Seven, then." P'Bank looked at him. "Why, baby?"
Mew bit down on his shoulder. "Curious. Want to see how many people I'm better than." He grinned and avoided a playful swat at his head. To be honest, Mew had worried about the difference in their experience. He was only 17, after all. P'Bank was 20. Three years would mean nothing when they were older, but it felt considerable at this stage. 20 years old felt so far, so accomplished. So adult. He wondered what he would be like at 20, and whether he and P'Bank would still be together.
"Does it bother you that I'm so young?"
"Only because you don't live on your own." Bank kissed the top of his head. "Does it bother you that I'm older?"
Mew gave him a look. As if. His only problem was that he couldn't fucking brag about it. How many of his classmates had hot college boyfriends? None. God, he was cool.
He shook his head. "It's hot," he said. "And you know all kinds of stuff. You taught me how to… you know."
His senior chuckled. "Prep me?" He sat up and pressed his nose to Mew's. "Showed you how to put those long fingers of yours inside me and get me ready to take your gorgeous cock?"
Mew's face was on fire. How could his senior say such things? He wiggled away from him and buried his face in the pillows.
P'Bank grabbed his ass. "Come on, baby. If we're gonna have sex, you gotta be able to talk about it."
Mew knew it was true. He hated feeling like a teenager at times. He never felt that way during sex. He felt confident and powerful and in control. He got off on making his boyfriend feel good. All he had to do was pay attention to what P'Bank liked and alternate it with some teasing. Sex wasn't that hard. He wondered why some people were bad at it. Not that he would know, having only slept with one person. But if his senior said Mew was the best, he wasn't going to argue. He had enough evidence from Bank's moaning and clawing to convince himself his boyfriend spoke the truth.
"Khrab," he said, looking up. "Just wait. One day, my dirty talk will be better than yours."
Gulf holds his fist out in front of Mew's face. He squints at him, alternating closing his left and right eyes.
"Nong, what are you doing?"
"Shhh, Khun Phi, I'm trying to concentrate."
Mew sighs and crosses his arms. "You already know how to throw a stage punch."
Gulf brings his fist back and kisses it. "I want it to look good." He swings and lands right in front of his face.
Mew snaps his teeth at his fist. His co-star jumps back and laughs. "Khun Phi!" He shakes his head at him. "Now I have to start all over again." For fuck's sake. Mew rolls his eyes and walks away.
Mew looks at him over his shoulder and laughs. "Okay, okay." He stands at his mark again. "Like I can say no to you, anyway."
Gulf beams at him. "Is that true na?"
He shrugs. "You're too annoying when you don't get your way. What choice do I have?" He grins to show he's joking. Well, mostly. What he doesn't tell Gulf is that he likes that about him. He likes having someone's desires to yield to. He likes having someone to spoil. And maybe it's not his place to do these things, seeing as he's nobody special to Gulf. But it makes him happy to make Gulf happy.
His junior squints at him again. "Khun Phi should hope that I don't miscalculate and hit him on accident."
Oh, the brat wants to play? Mew leaves his mark and steps close to his co-star so that they're almost touching. "You're threatening to hit me?"
Gulf shrugs. "I said no such thing. I shared my hope that there would be no accident to harm Khun Phi's handsome face." He makes a taunting kissy espression, puckering his lips and narrowing his eyes.
Mew mimics him. "Is Yai Nong going to kiss me in accident, too?"
And that's when he sees Gulf's ears turn red. "If I did, it wouldn't be an accident." His nong laughs as soon as he says it. Most definitely it was a joke, and Mew can't help but laugh, too. He loves how bold Gulf can be, but how shy he is about it.
It's times like these that make Mew wonder if there could actually be anything between them. He doesn't even know if the brat likes men, but his gaydar tells him yes. Though he wonders if being bi makes his gaydar less accurate. Perhaps it's only at half strength, given he's only half gay. But what straight guy gets a boner during a love scene with another man? Or slips another guy tongue when it's clearly not in the script? Or when they talked about Type feeling different because he's gay. And Gulf telling Mew that he understood it, Because I've felt it, too. Doesn't that mean something?
Or what about their chemistry being off the charts? He's never felt like this with another actor. A connection so profound that mere proximity is enough to bring out his character. That day at auditions when he acted with Gulf and Mew felt the very first inklings of Tharn emerge, feeling him slowly come to life inside him. And how it was Gulf's portrayal of Type that helped Mew find that connection to Tharn. Then there are all the exchanges they've had, the way their minds are so attuned to each other. The way they can read each other's expressions, even early on. Those twelve minutes they stared into each other's eyes and Mew could feel the emotions coming from his co-star. Like a bond that's always existed, just waiting to be unearthed. It's like nothing Mew has ever experienced.
Gulf smirks and scratches his head. "Yeah, well. Type wouldn't have punched Tharn if he hadn't been so possessive. It's not like he has the right to be so angry."
"What?" Mew raises an eyebrow. "You don't think he has a right to be angry?"
"They're not dating," he points out.
Mew stares at him. Is Gulf being serious? "But they're sleeping together. They're lovers." Does that mean nothing?
"Casual lovers," says Gulf. "That's different."
Mew can't describe what he's feeling. Shock? Disbelief? Betrayal? How can Gulf be so heartless about this?
Mew takes a step back and looks at his junior, really looks at him. For the first time since workshops, he looks like a kid to Mew. Like a clueless teenager who's never experienced heartache. Who's never been rejected, never felt unrequited love. A kid who doesn't understand the sanctity of the kind of relationship Tharn and Type have. The operative word was never casual . It's lovers .
Mew tries to reason with him. "Type only calls them casual lovers because he's afraid to admit his feelings for Tharn."
Gulf crosses his arms. "What if he doesn't know how he feels? Try to imagine how new all of this is for him."
"Then he shouldn't be leading Tharn on like this."
"Like what?" Gulf's voice is rising.
Mew throws his hands up. "Asking him to lunch, going out to dinner with him, getting upset when Tharn goes home, missing him, all those things to make up with him, kissing him, letting Tharn hold him, touching his face…" he laughs at the ridiculousness of this argument. "Why would he do those things if he doesn't have feelings for Tharn?"
"He doesn't know what he's doing!" Gulf's ears are turning red again, but for a much different reason. "He's not like Tharn, he hasn't had a shit ton of exes and lovers. He's learning as he goes, but that doesn't mean he isn't confused."
Mew takes a step closer, his eyes glaring at him. "He sure as fuck isn't confused when it comes to Puifai. He's been sleeping with Tharn for weeks, and yet he's going to ask her to be his girlfriend when he hasn't even known her for a month!"
Gulf stares at him defiantly. "He's scared. He's doing what's familiar to him. Maybe if Tharn wasn't so pushy and expecting him to be on the same level as him, he wouldn't have been tempted to go back where it's safe." He pokes at Mew's chest, right at the heart. "Tharn should be more considerate of Type's inexperience."
Mew closes his eyes. It's the issue he's been battling in his head, isn't it? That he has more experience than Gulf, and that it makes them unequal? At least Tharn and Type are the same age and at the same point in their lives. Compared to them, he and Gulf look even more unsuited for each other. Why did he ever allow himself to fall so hard for this fucking brat? This child.
Mew opens his eyes and steps back again. "Then Type should have talked to him. He's so quick to spew his hate speech and mouth off, but he can't have a mature conversation with the guy he's been fucking?" He growls and walks off toward the snack table to get some water. He tries to ignore everyone staring at him. Are they thinking the same things he is?
He sees one of the interns lean in toward a staff member. "Was that a method acting exercise?"
The staff member shakes her head. "No, that's just them being Mew and Gulf."
Mew chugs the bottle of water. How true. At least they won't have trouble acting out the scene.
How was the heart today?
Yikes, Phi. That bad?
What else is new?
How long have you been fighting na?
Just a few hours. Heading home.
That's it, you need a girl's night kha. I'm calling Pee. Invite any women you know who could give advice or support.
Is that necessary?
You want it to be just me and Pee giving advice?
I'll see who's available
"You invited who ?" Eye stands in Mew's kitchen, arms crossed, looking at him with an incredulous expression.
"My ex girlfriend, Fasai."
She smacks his arm. "I said someone who can give advice and support!"
Mew laughs. He should have explained. "She's been doing that for years. We've stayed friends."
His nong seems to freeze in place. "That's a thing?"
"It is for us."
P'Pee walks in and leans on the counter. "What's a thing?"
Eye turns to him and rests her arm on his shoulder. "P'Mew and his ex girlfriend staying friends. I can't wait to see that in action tonight."
Pee straightens up. "Fasai? Fasai is coming and you let me come over wearing this?" He rushes to Mew's room. "I'm borrowing your gay shirt!"
"I donated it."
"You bitch. I'm just gonna help myself."
Eye raises an eyebrow at him. "What's got his panties in a twist?"
Mew sighs and covers his face with his hand. "How do I explain this?" He considers taking some aspirin now as a preventative for the inevitable headache. "Pee always feels compelled to look good around Fasai. He wants to be on her level whenever they're together."
Pee walks back in wearing a grey v-neck shirt under a maroon blazer.
Mew gives him the ok sign. "I was just telling Eye that Fasai is…"
Eye looks back and forth between them. "Ah. So, she's fabulous?"
"Yes," they say at the same time.
P'Pee leans in toward her and cups a hand over his mouth. "Her only flaw is that she dated Mew." They giggle together and look at him.
Mew stares off in the distance. "That's probably true. Who wants a beer?" The two of them raise a hand.
The doorbell rings and Pee startles, knocking into Eye and spilling beer all over her blouse. "Shia! Sweetie, I'm sorry." He dabs at her chest with a dish towel.
"It's open!" Mew shouts toward the door. They hear it open and close, followed by the sounds of shoes being removed.
Pee twirls around as she enters the kitchen, and there she is. Fasai. The only woman Mew ever fell in love with, and still loves to this day. He never can get over how striking she is. Truth be told, she's not really Mew's type. He prefers cute and pretty, whereas Fasai has the kind of piercing, devastating beauty that's so intense it hurts.
"Oh, you gorgeous thing, give us a hug." Pee pulls her in for an embrace.
"You look so sophisticated, dear." She runs her finger down his lapel. "Ralph Lauren?"
He sneaks a glance at Mew, who nods his head. "Why, yes it is," says Pee.
Fasai turns to Mew next. She smiles and touches his cheek. "My beautiful mess." She runs her fingers through his hair and he can't help but lean into the touch. He's missed her.
He pulls her in for a hug. "Thank you na for coming." He inhales her familiar scent of Arabian Jasmine. He remembers that scent clinging to his clothing and his bedsheets and how it made him feel like falling in love.
They part and she turns to Eye. Fasai gives her that smile that she gives all women, the one she's had to learn and practice. The I'm not a threat smile. Women have a tendency to feel intimidated and insecure around her. It doesn't help that she's as tall as Mew. That's taller even than most Western women.
"And you must be the brains of the group," she says to Eye. "What's it like babysitting grown men?" She ignores the sounds of indignance from Mew and Pee.
Eye seems frozen in place. She stares at Fasai with a kind of wondrous amazement, like she's never seen anyone like her before. And most likely she hasn't. Pee walks over and nudges her with his elbow.
A sort of strangled sound comes out of her mouth. "Yes." She blinks a few times. She looks around, as if emerging from a haze. Her eyes travel back to Fasai and she smiles big and radiantly. "At least they're housebroken."
The two of them laugh together and Fasai turns to Mew. "Allow me to ask the obvious, dearest. Why aren't you in love with this young women instead another pretty boy with pouty lips?"
Pee makes a hmph noise and Mew rolls his eyes. "Don't make trouble Fasai…"
She moves next to Eye, hooking their arms together. "Tell me, is he really that pretty?"
Eye looks down at their entwined arms, confused but rather pleased. She nods. "Like an angel."
"A cherub," Pee specifies.
"Guys…" says Mew.
Fasai leans in toward her. "He can't be prettier than you, can he?" Eye nods, but Fasai shakes her head. "I shouldn't have asked you. You're too modest. Who's got a picture of this cherub for me?"
"Just one?" Asks Pee.
Mew sighs and takes a large swig of his beer. "Just give her your damn phone. How many pics of him do you have?"
"They're wardrobe shots for work, you bitch," Pee snaps at him. "Here, love. With makeup, and then swipe left for without."
Fasai studies his face on the screen, tilting her head and arching an eyebrow. Eye stares at her, eyes wide and curious. Mew's never seen his nong so disarmed. Then again, Fasai can be very disarming. He wonders if he should have warned Eye about meeting her.
"New, he's breathtaking." Fasai swipes left and smiles. "Even without makeup. Such eyes, like a deer. And, well, those lips say everything, don't they? Just enough for you to bite."
"Fasai…" Mew starts.
She looks up and smiles. "Congratulations, New my love, you've found a boy who's exactly your type." She turns to Eye and tugs on her arm. "I bet he's a brat, isn't he?"
Pee makes a loud sigh. "He's got Mew wrapped around his pretty little finger. Oh, don't look at me like that, New ."
Eye looks around at the three of them. "New?"
Fasai leans down as if to share a secret. "Didn't he tell you? His real nickname is New, but he changed it to Mew when he started modeling. There are so many News out there."
Eye looks up at her. "Kha… so you knew him before he changed it?"
She nods. "We dated in college. I like to call him New every now and then as a reminder that I've known him long enough to have lots of dirt on him." They giggle together and Fasai nudges her shoulder. "And for the record, this boy isn't half as pretty as you." She unhooks their arms and grabs Mew's beer.
She clinks bottles with Pee and opens the fridge. "Don't I always?"
They settle in the living room, Pee and Eye on the couch and Fasai sitting on the floor with Mew's head in her lap. She strokes his hair while he hugs a pillow to his chest. He's missed this, missed such loving and intimate touches. If he's being honest, he sometimes wishes he could be the one who's held, petted, and cherished. Not all the time, of course. He prefers being the one doing those things. It's just every now and then he would like to be taken care of.
He tells them about his concern, that he and Gulf are unequal. He tells them about their fight from this evening and how closely it mirrors their situation. God, it's embarrassing. He's 28 and mooning over a 21 year old. He tells them this, and how pathetic it makes him feel.
"So?" Eye shakes her head and shrugs. "Gulf's a big boy. He can make his own decisions."
"Yes, but what if they're the wrong decisions? He's 21 . What does he know about life or love or whatever?"
Pee throws his legs onto Eye's lap. "Well, you shouldn't pursue him if that's how you think of him. You really think he's that clueless?"
Mew considers it. His knee jerk reaction is to say yes, Gulf really has no fucking clue what he's doing. He's intrepid, that's for sure. But it doesn't compensate for having experience. He tells them this, too.
Fasai covers his mouth with her hand. "New-New, shut the fuck up. How experienced are you, and yet how many mistakes have you made anyway?" She leans down to look into his eyes. "It's love. Experience can only do so much. It's courage that always pays off. And your boy seems to have plenty of that."
Pee snickers. "You should see him when he's with Mew. He's fearless."
Eye nods. "He already asserts himself as Phi's equal, doesn't he, P'Pee?"
"Has he seen Mew's temper?" Asks Fasai. Mew's groan is muffled by her hand still over his mouth.
Pee and Eye laugh with each other. "Not only has he seen it multiple times," says Pee, "but he's won most of the arguments." Now all three of them are laughing.
Eye pats Pee's legs. "Phi, remember when they were arguing over who sang that one song?" She turns to Fasai. "They went on for an hour, each of them saying it was a different person. An hour, P'Fasai! Neither of them wanted to look it up because they were convinced they were right and that they didn't need to prove it." She and Pee roll their eyes at each other.
Fasai shakes her head. "Both hot headed and stubborn. What a pair."
Eye giggles. "I finally looked it up for them, just to shut them up. Turns out, they were both wrong!" More laughter, more fingers pointed at him.
Mew thinks about what they've said. It's not as if he has a choice, given his mouth is covered and they're just laughing at him anyway. Pee's telling them about the time Gulf threw the earbuds at him.
He hears Fasai's words in his head, It's love. Experience can only do so much. It's courage that always pays off. And your boy seems to have plenty of that. Hadn't he once been in that situation? 17 years old and so determined to show his senior he could handle a mature relationship. And in the end, P'Bank became unfaithful and sought someone closer to his own age. Someone who could keep up with him and didn't have to be taught how to love like an adult.
He feels resentment building up inside of him. He doesn't want Gulf to ever feel inadequate, and with such an age gap, it's bound to happen. He licks at Fasai's hand to scare her off. She recoils and hisses at him.
"Bad," she scolds. She wipes the saliva on his shirt and clamps her hand over his mouth again, her grip tight as he struggles against her. "You know it's no use fighting me," she reminds him. He groans and lies still. Damnit, Fasai.
He sees Eye turn to Pee. His senior giggles and grabs Eye's hand.
Fasai looks down at him. "Ask nicely and I'll let you go." He rolls his eyes and taps lightly on her hand. "Was that so hard na?" She releases him and he sits up, rubbing his sore jaw.
Eye giggles behind her hands. "P'Fasai, you remind me of how Gulf acts with P'New… I mean P'Mew!" She blushes and takes a swig of her beer.
Fasai leans over to Mew's ear and whispers, "She's lovely."
He widens his eyes at her. "Don't…"
"Why not?" She snaps playfully. "You're not going after her. Is she taken?"
"No, but she likes men."
Fasai waves him off. "Like that's ever been a problem for me." She grins and winks at him. Mew rolls his eyes.
Pee looks at them, clearly catching on to what they've said. Eye seems preoccupied with her beer, peeling off the label. His senior picks up his own bottle and holds it up to Fasai as if to tell her, good luck.
"So," says Fasai, directing her gaze at Eye. She gives her that smile she uses when she wants something. And Fasai is very good at getting what she wants. A seasoned and experienced brat. "Gulf orders him around?"
Eye looks at Mew with big eyes, as if asking permission to answer. "Well…"
"Don't look at him," Fasai orders. "Look at me. He won't get mad at you for telling the truth, will you, New-New?" He sighs and shakes his head. He may love her to death, but he's starting to remember why they broke up. Too much brat, too much control, and not enough compromise.
Eye still looks hesitant, but she answers anyway. She clearly recognizes who has the most power in the room. "Kha. Sometimes he tells him what to do, but other times he doesn't even have to say anything. Gulf just kind of…"
"Helps himself," Pee finishes. "In the morning, off he goes to sit in Mew's lap or snuggle next to him on the couch like it's the most normal thing in the world. I'm telling you, Fasai, that boy owns him."
Mew whines and hides his face in Fasai's arm. "Make them stop."
"As if, this is good shit."
"Oh," says Eye. "And it's like P'Mew already knows what Gulf wants. Like how he gets hot easily, so he's always fanning him or pulling him over to the aircon vent between scenes. At least, he did that when I was on set."
"It's always," Pee confirms. "And the precious thing doesn't like talking that much. Shame, really. His awkward, lilting speech pattern makes my heart melt. So, guess who runs interference and does all the talking?"
Fasai feigns disbelief. "Mew? Dominating the conversation? Never!" She laughs and pats his head. "Oh, New-New. You're not even dating and he's already got you trained."
Mew sits up again. "He's straight," he says. "I should have opened with that."
Pee scoffs. "Yeah, so am I."
"Right. Me, too," says Eye with a laugh. She freezes, her eyes widening. She looks at P'Pee in shock. Mew and Fasai exchange looks. Fasai looks triumphant. He leans his head back and stares at the ceiling. Is everyone he knows into the same sex? Does that mean Gulf is?
He looks at his senior. "What makes you so confident, P'Pee?" At least one person in this room has full-powered gaydar.
Pee makes a face that seems to say, oh, please. "If you ever let the little pineapple talk for five minutes, something gay inevitably comes out of his mouth." He smirks and turns to Eye. "He once told me he was watching SOTUS for the second time so he could learn how to look thirsty. He said Singto was, and I quote, so handsome, you know? I wouldn't mind being in BL with him."
Eye slaps the armrest of the couch. "You, too?" She looks at Mew and Fasai. "He told me he was watching Friend Zone to research BL , but that he was only watching the scenes with Singto!"
Mew's reminded of that day in workshop, when he told Gulf to use Singto's character in SOTUS for inspiration on looking turned on. Nobody does thirsty like Singto. He remembers Gulf's response, Singto's very sexy. Well, that settles it. The little shit's got himself a man crush.
Fasai closes her eyes and laughs. She pats Mew on the leg. "Sounds like you have some competition." She holds a finger to her chin and turns to Pee. "Wasn't Singto's love scene the one that people compared to Mew's love scene in What The Duck? I remember people debating which one was hotter."
Mew gives up. He lies back on the floor, which prompts Chopper to get out of his doggy bed and come lick his face. Mew feels his scratchy tongue assail his cheek and he decides to just let him. What does it matter? His life is a joke. Just listen to his friends laugh at him.
He groans for what feels like the billionth time and sits up to face them. "Weren't you assholes supposed to be making me feel better, not worse?"
"We're helping, Phi!" Says Eye. "We just determined that Gulf is attracted to men."
"To Singto," he corrects. "And he's practically a free pass, along with Earth Pirapat and Lee Thanat. Besides, every straight guy gets one man crush." And now he knows who Gulf's is. Figures it would be someone completely unlike him. His chances are looking worse and worse.
"Here's a thought," says Fasai. "You could talk to him."
That's the one thing Mew can't bring himself to do. Talking would make things real. At least if he doesn't address the situation, the possibility of Gulf returning his feelings would still exist. Schrodinger's crush.
Grumpy Gulf shuffles over to him in the armchair, but instead of sitting in his lap as usual, he sits sideways and rests his head against Mew's shoulder. Mew looks at him, stunned and shaken from Gulf's face so close to his neck. His Bambi eyes are shut, and his lips look so inviting. He wants more than anything in this moment to lean forward and claim them. How many times have they kissed already, and yet he still wants more?
Gulf opens his eyes and yet Mew can't look away out of shame. Is it so shameful to feel this way for Gulf, given the connection they seem to share? He forgot to mention professionalism last night, but he can guess what the others would say, that they're already past all pretenses of propriety. That it's their unstoppable chemistry that fuels their performances as Tharn and Type. It's not unusual for co-stars to develop feelings for each other.
Grumpy Gulf furrows his eyebrows and crosses his arms. "Sorry na, Khun Phi." Even his words sound grumpy.
Mew gives him a sideways glance. "For what?"
His junior looks away, avoiding eye contact. "For yesterday. For yelling at you."
"Ah…" Mew wraps his arms around Gulf's waist. He smiles when he sees his eyebrows relax. That's always a good sign. "You made an excellent point, though. Everything is new for him, and maybe he needs more time to sort out his feelings."
Gulf nods. "Yes, but all the more reason for him to watch his actions. Just because he's never been with a man, it doesn't mean he doesn't know how dating works." He lays his head back on Mew's shoulder. "They may not be in a relationship, but it's pretty obvious that they're dating."
"Khrab." Mew feels his junior relax against his body. He loves feeling Gulf's weight on him, feeling the heft of his entire being resting within his arms. "How do you think Type feels in this scene?" They're about to shoot Type's apology, ironically.
His co-star re-adjusts to face him better. "Honestly, I think he's still trying to make sense of everything, even as he's holding Tharn in his bed." He reaches out and plays with one of Mew's buttons. "He's still wondering why he feels this way na. But he knows he can't be without Tharn anymore, and that whatever label he applies to his feelings, the end result is wanting to stay in Tharn's arms and never let go."
Mew looks at his co-star, thinking of the intimacy of this moment, of their bodies so close and Gulf's fingers toying with his button. He wonders if it's still Grumpy Gulf he's interacting with, and whether this conversation will fade away like all the other Grumpy mornings. He used to wonder whether Gulf was aware of his actions during this state, worried that there was some kind of consent issue he ought to bring up. Don't worry na Khun Phi. I'm awake, I just don't have a filter in the morning. So, don't ask me for my credit card number, okay na khrab? No filter, whether that be verbally or physically. Gulf just does what he wants.
"But ultimately, he decides to date Tharn." It's not a question, of course. They know what happens. But he wants to hear more from Gulf, wants more insight into that keen mind of his. Everyday, he's surprised by how perceptive his co-star is. How intuitive. How mature. He may be a fucking brat, but the little shit's understanding of human nature is more like someone… well, someone older. And right now, that's a dangerous thought for Mew to have.
Gulf gives one of his slow, exaggerated nods. "Type thinks with his emotions, not with logic or reason. He learns those later. Right now," he snuggles against Mew's neck. "all he knows are want and need and love."
Mew wraps his arm around Gulf's shoulder. "That's more than enough for Tharn."
Type's arm tightens around him. "Khor thot jing jing…" I'm so sorry.
Tharn removes his earbuds and tosses them on the nightstand. He's dreaming, he has to be. Type doesn't apologize. He wouldn't know how to. Only in his dreams would Type crawl into his bed and hold him. But at this point, Tharn doesn't care. He'll take this fantasy of Type, since he'll never have the real thing. He'll play along.
"Why are you apologizing?"
"I slept with Puifai."
Tharn doesn't react. Why is Type telling him this? Why is he holding him while he describes her inviting him to her room? Even in his dreams, Type breaks his heart.
"And suddenly, I remembered what I said to you."
Tharn remembers. He wishes he could forget the way Type sounded when he said it. Like he didn't care about Tharn and never had.
"It pains me," says Type. His grip on him tightens, his hand clinging to his shirt. A habit of his, and Tharn knows that because that's how often they've touched each other.
"I don't know."
Of course he doesn't. Can't he ever get a straightforward answer from Type? Can't something be clear between them besides that stupid sex contract? Type is only forthright when he's being cruel. What does he mean he doesn't know? And yet he sounded so desperate when he said it. As if it frustrated him, too.
"The thought of you being with another man makes me insane. Why?" He squeezes the fabric of Tharn's shirt. He doesn't answer.
Type goes on. "When I was hugging her soft body, I kept thinking about yours." Tharn wants to believe him. He thinks about the way Type's hands roam his back and shoulders, the way he grabs at his heart. Surely it was only for him.
"While I was kissing her, all I thought about was your kiss." Part of Tharn wants to laugh. How many times has Type rejected his kiss? He can still hear him now, No kissing. He can still feel him push against his chest at P'Jeed's bar. He can still hear Type's phone go off while he tried to kiss him, Type telling him to get off him so he could respond to Puifai. Yet he claims it's his kiss that he thought about? How could that ever be true?
"Whenever I'm with her, I'm always thinking of you." Tharn remembers it the other way around. He remembers the nights spent staring longingly at his roommate while he texted Puifai. While he ignored him in the next bed over. The bed he used to make excuses to sleep in with him. I'm sleeping in your bed tonight. Mine's dirty. I don't want to sleep on it. At what point did the tables turn and suddenly Tharn was the one on his mind?
If this really is a dream, then he has to know something. He turns to face Type, feeling his arm loosen around him but staying put. "Did you really sleep with her?" If it's yes, then he wants to wake up. He can't stand two worlds in which Type made love to someone else.
"I couldn't do it, Tharn." He grabs at his shirt. "Do you hear me?"
Do you hear me?
It isn't a dream, is it? He looks at Type, who claims he can't sleep with women anymore. He shifts his body and God they're so close. They're always so close. Even in the early days of the war, their faces only centimeters from each other. Close the way only they can be.
He tries to reason with Type. Maybe he's tired or not into her. Maybe he'd be interested in other men.
Type grabs him by the shirt again. "Do you want to die?" If it meant his last moments would be in bed with Type, he'd be tempted to say yes. You shouldn't have to live with a broken heart.
"You are the only one I want to sleep with," he tells Tharn. So why does he want to cry? Is it because he's starting to believe him? Does he believe this Type who clutches at his shirt, yelling at him that he's the only one… You are the only one… it feels so real, so solid, so true. It has to be real because his imagination could never in a million years create a Type as beautiful and fierce as the real thing.
"Please forgive me. Forgive me one more time."
Tharn doesn't know what to say. He doesn't have the words, and so he reaches out and eases Type onto his shoulder, feeling him break down into tears. How long has he been holding them in?
Tharn combs fingers through his hair. "Good boy," he says to soothe his crying. He tells him how he can never be angry with him. Hurt and harsh, but never truly angry. Type continues to cry. Tears splatter on his shoulder, and Tharn wants the sadness to be over. He wants to leave it behind, because that's not who they are anymore. Because the war is over, and they both won.
Tharn allows himself to smile, perhaps for the first time in over a week. "So… you're mine now."
Type looks up and Tharn can see that familiar look of defiance in his eyes. "It's you who are mine," he says. "because I won't let you go again." Because of course Type would be possessive. And Tharn wouldn't want it any other way.
"You already know that I have always been yours."
When they finally kiss, it feels like they're kissing for the first time. Type is different somehow, bolder and more insistent. He's the one who kisses first, and it takes Tharn by surprise. And it's Type who holds him protectively, who sets the pace of their kisses. Type who swipes his tongue against his lips to beg for entrance, pushing inside for that warm and soft contact. Tharn realizes that he's finally experiencing all of Type, the parts he kept restrained, the parts he was afraid to show. Tharn loves the gentle and acquiescent Type who opens so beautifully for him and takes everything he gives him. But he always wondered where Type's characteristic fire and forcefulness went when they were in bed. And now Tharn has his answer, and he can't wait to explore that part of his lover. Because now, all of it is his. His forever, because Type will never let him go.
"And cut na khrab."
Mew and Gulf stop kissing, but they remain wrapped around each other, breathing the same air. Mew opens his eyes to see that Gulf has been watching him.
Gulf pulls him in and presses their foreheads together. "Take off your clothes," he whispers.
Mew freezes. Is Gulf still in character? He shakes him and looks into his eyes. "Yai Nong?"
Gulf blinks and breaks into the sweetest smile that only Gulf is capable of. "Did I just tell you to take your clothes off?"
Mew nods, making a teasing face. "It was hot."
Gulf's ears turn red and he tugs on Mew's shirt. "So, why aren't you following my orders na khrab?"
Wa gni na? Mew raises his eyebrows at him. Is he serious? "Your orders? To take my clothes off?"
Gulf sits and crosses his arms. His lips are pursed and he nods at Mew's shirt. "Deaf na, Khun Phi khrab?"
Mew can feel a slight blush rising to his cheeks. Is Gulf seriously asking this in front of everyone? He looks around, but nobody seems affected. Are they really that bad on set that nobody cares? He squints at his co-star. "Mai. You first."
Gulf shrugs. "Okay." He gets out of bed and walks off. Off toward the dressing room, because they have their shirtless scene next.
Mew's an idiot.
Mew is definitely an idiot. When the fuck is he going to learn? Love scene with Gulf = jerk off before work. Get it out of the system, tire it out so it doesn't wake up mid-scene. But does he learn? Fuck no.
He's not hard, but he's certainly turned on. Gulf walks around set in nothing but boxers again, bare feet slapping the concrete floor. This is all too familiar.
Objectively speaking, Gulf's body isn't that impressive. He's lean and slightly toned. Just a little around the chest, if that. Though his collar bones are beautifully defined, Mew has to give him that. Otherwise his body is quite soft looking, nothing special. Except that Mew's starting to develop a thing for soft. Soft and warm, with a cute, squishy belly. And god he remembers sneaking a bite of Gulf's tasty little tummy during the shower scene, and he has never regretted it since. But this time he won't have an opportunity for such a thing. No, he gets to spend the next hour or so in bed with shirtless Gulf, pretending to bask in the afterglow.
The acting coach shows them where to lie on the bed. Mew has the easy position for once. One of the few benefits of being a top- cuddles mean getting lie down like normal. It's Gulf who has the uncomfortable position this time, lying sideways across Mew's stomach with his legs bent so they don't dangle off the side of the bed. Part of him wants to laugh, remembering the hell Gulf put him through during their 45 minute kiss that was supposed to be 5 minutes. Karma's a bitch, and he should know. He's Buddhist. At this rate, he should be just fine doing this shirtless scene. Hell, he can do it as Mew. He won't have to go into Tharn mode for this.
If there's one thing Mew doesn't want people to know, it's that he's not always immersed in his role on camera. Already there have been scenes where he's not Tharn, he's just acting. Harmless scenes like when he laughs at Type for falling out of his bed or when Type's friends are watching porn in their room. He knows this scene is much more important, but they're ahead of schedule and if it looks like shit, he can turn on the Tharn switch and play newlywed.
Seeing Gulf as Type is always a shock to the system. For all their similarities, the most noticeable difference is how they move. Type is nervous, jerky, and aggressive. He reminds Mew of those small and feisty Mexican dogs with the big eyes. The shaky ones that American celebrities carry in their purses. Gulf, by comparison, is more like a cat. Languid, cuddly, and grumpy. Liable to push things off the side of a table simply because it's there and because it would entertain him. In fact, he's seen Gulf do that before.
It was a rare occasion where they weren't glued to each other but they weren't fighting. Gulf stood by himself at the snack table, swatting at a grape and making it run into different things. A water bottle, a cup, another grape. He looked so amused by his simple game. And finally, after its novelty had worn off, he nudged the trash can so that it was right next to the table and pawed at the grape a few times before sending it rolling into the waiting garbage bin. Such a fucking kitten.
Mew plays with Gulf's hair as Type tells him how he ended things with Puifai. He's so animated and expressive as Type in a way he never is as Gulf. Mew loves that, knowing that his junior created an entire range of facial expressions and gestures for his character, completely independent of his own. It shows Gulf's artistry at its best.
Mew looks down at him. "Will you be okay dating a gay like me?" He feels nervous, even though he isn't Tharn. Even though the answer means nothing to him. He wonders if it's the question, then. A question that Mew wants to ask Gulf, but instead hides behind his character to do it. He watches him intently to see who answers.
It's Type who responds. "Honestly, I really don't know."
Mew can tell from the lower tone of voice and the harsh and rigid pronunciation of his words that it's Type. Gulf would have sounded softer and lilting. His words would have had a rounder, cuter quality to them. He listens for any sign of Gulf in Type's lines, but finds none. It's so strange when only one of them is in character. How surreal it is interacting with someone who looks and feels and smells like Gulf but is not him.
"Actually, when you returned, I was going to break it off with you." He looks at Type's round and beautiful Bambi eyes. How frightened they look and how badly Mew wants to calm those fears. "But seeing you now, I will never ever break up with you. Shocked?"
He's been playing with the soft and tiny lobe of Gulf's ear. His co-star hates his small ears, but Mew loves them. Right now, he loves how warm it feels between his fingers from the redness that matches the flush across his chest. His face remains free of that blush, with just that wide-eyed expression that renders Mew powerless. If Gulf ever knew what he could do with those eyes, how defenseless Mew is to them. Especially now. Eyes so soft and innocent that reflect a vulnerability in Type that's so beautiful it could break your heart. Lips so deliciously pouty that Mew can't wait until the end of the scene when he gets to kiss them. Just enough for you to bite. And here he thought he wouldn't get turned on. He feels a tightness in his chest and gut, a tug at his helpless heart that he suspects no longer belongs to him.
"I want to hear you scream without holding back." He was right. He didn't have to be Tharn in this scene in order for it to be genuine.
He finally asks the question he wishes he could ask as Mew. "Can you date this jealous type guy?"
The response that comes is so utterly Type, and yet he can just as easily see his Yai Nong saying it, too. "I let you have your way with me. What do you think?"
"Then, let me have my way all night long." Even now, after all this, it's still a question, still a request.
Mew bends down to kiss Type. He all but melts and dissolves as he makes contact with those soft lips. Lips that have such control over him.
"Cut na khrab. Lighting reset."
Gulf pulls away immediately. Mew feels the abruptness of it and straightens back up.
His co-star looks worried. "Khun Phi khrab?"
"You were yourself in that scene, weren't you?" He almost looks hurt.
Mew nods and rubs his arm. "I'm sorry. I wanted to see what would happen. You could tell that easily?" He chuckles, hoping to lighten the mood. "Is Khun Phi's acting that bad?"
Gulf smiles and shakes his head. "I don't think an audience would notice."
"But Yai Nong did?" Trust that his co-star could tell the difference. After all, he can always tell between Gulf and Type.
Gulf nods. "I was Type in that scene. And he didn't recognize you. He knew you didn't belong to him."
Mew wonders if it's his turn to flush red, to mirror the beautiful blush of his junior. "And who do I belong to?"
Gulf smiles and shrugs. "Depends on the kind of man Khun Phi is. Some people belong to others, some give themselves away." He tilts his chin up at him, daring him to respond. "Which one are you na khrab?"
But Mew doesn't feel like playing anymore. He feels cold all of a sudden, despite the warmth of Gulf's body on top of him. He can hear a voice in his head, one he hasn't heard in a while, and yet still so familiar. I lost you because you gave yourself away. You gave too much of yourself, and now I don't know who you are anymore.
"Khun Phi? Khun Phi khrab?"
Mew doesn't want to remember that voice. He doesn't want to remember that conversation or day or even that person. But he fears he will carry all of those with him forever. His face flashes in his mind. And it scares him how sharp the image still is. No fading whatsoever. Not even a ghost, just a person who's still haunting him.
"Khun Phi khrab?" Gulf reaches under the covers and grabs his hand. "...Mew?"
He blinks. "Gulf?" He looks at him and there again is that expression, so similar to Type with his soft and innocent eyes, made even lovelier with the addition of Gulf's insatiable curiosity. The expression that could undo him. He squeezes his hand and smiles. Perhaps the expression that could save him.
"I'm sorry na, Yai Nong." He rubs his hand with his thumb. "I won't do it again. I'll be Tharn this time. Tharn goes with Type and I go with you."
The blush renews itself on Gulf's skin and god, it sends Mew's blood racing. Gulf's smile and laugh seem to clear the shadows, keeping Mew fixed in the present. Keeping him safe from the things that haunt him.
"Careful na, Khun Phi…" Gulf snuggles against his stomach. Not enough to screw up their placement for the next take, just enough to be playful. "Or you'll make me fall for you."