Gulf stays in bed the rest of the day, daylight comes and goes until it’s dark out as he remains in the same spot. He crawls out of bed to take a quick shower since he’s feeling so completely gross in hopes that he’ll pass out as soon as his head hits his pillow once more. Instead once he comes back into his room with a towel wrapped around him all he sees is his messy sheets and no Mew. It’s ridiculous, the way he expected Mew to be there after he got out. It was a stupid thought, something that dispels just as quickly as it came. He can’t smell Mew anymore, the only thing lingering in his room is himself. He hates it. He can’t stand it. It’s almost like Mew was never there at all.
As a final attempt he pulls on the clothes Mew burrowed last night and sleeps on Mew’s side of the bed. It makes him feel a little better, if at all. Gulf might have let Mew baby him all this time but now he’s got to do this all alone. This, he can’t ask help for. Gulf’s got to do this by himself and get back onto his feet so he knows that he can.
He falls asleep and wakes up. He showers and gets dressed, he eats and heads out. He walks into the office with red eyes but a stoic face. The last thing he needs is more drama at work. He keeps himself busy, his focus on himself and his job. His team is being less vexing as days go by, seeming to remember why they used to admire Gulf in the first place. He tries to put the past week behind him and not hold it against any of his juniors as they come to him for help or advice. They’re young and just need guidance, if Gulf’s kindness can help them see the world in a different way then that’s what he’ll do. It’s never too late to change, to grow, at least that’s what Mew has taught him.
Saint knocks at his door during lunch and enters with a wave. Gulf glances away from his computer to give him his undivided attention. Saint puts a mug of tea on Gulf’s desk followed by a slice of cake. Gulf stares at the sweet confection in confusion, head tilting. “Uhm, Mew...he told me that the café down the street from our office has some really great cakes. Apparently, he’s been spending some time there while he waited for someone recently.” Saint pauses and glances at Gulf with a smile. “I thought I could bring you an apology, for last week. I know it won’t make up for everything that happened but I really, respect you. I’ve felt horrible about not standing up for you more,” Saint frowns down at his hands and trails off.
Gulf touches the plastic packaging of the chocolate cake and thinks of Mew. He’s never been one for sweets but he guesses Mew’s his opposite in that aspect as well. It makes him chuckle, looking at Saint and feeling warm all over. “You’re my subordinate, you shouldn’t have to be defending me. But thank you,” Gulf stands from behind his desk and rounds it. He brings up a hand and rests it on Saint’s shoulder. “You’re great at your job and I have no doubt you have a bright future ahead of you, I’m proud you’re in my team.” Gulf says it straight and fast because it’s the truth, he means it and he shouldn’t be embarrassed to say it. Saint deserves to know his work is appreciated; the way Gulf wishes someone had told him the same.
“Thank you,” Saint looks up at him with stars in his eyes, “I know it isn’t my place, but I think you guys are amazing together. I aspire to have something like that one day,” He blushes and shuffles back. Gulf feels his heart sting, a papercut that’s not bleeding but that hurts more than any other scrape. He too wants something like that one day. Saint gives him a bow and exits the office to let him get back to work, but Gulf’s mind is too much of a mess. He glances at the chocolate cake and opens it. He takes a bite and chews even though it’s sweet, rich. He can see Mew sitting at a café, looking at his phone while he bites into the same pastry Gulf is eating now.
Could it have been different if they met on another day? If they hadn’t skipped right to the end and bonded, forced themselves into a path full of responsibility and burden? Would they even be able to meet, if not then? And would Gulf be able to have a chance, would Mew look at him?
The cake sticks in his mouth, his cheeks full as he stops chewing. It’s useless to think of such things now, Gulf knows there’s no changing the past. He’s not even sure there’s any changing the future.
Work ends the same way as usual and Gulf heads home late, like a time before Mew. A time when he had nothing and no one to go home to, to look forward to. Gulf sighs as he shuts off his computer and packs up for the night. The windows show the pitch black of night as he passes each one, clock ticking throughout the empty office. Gulf pulls out his phone and stares at the empty line chat with Mew, the last message being from Friday. He scrolls up a bit and reads through their conversation, laughing at the easy way they spoke to one another. His laugh tapers off into a small frown as he remembers he’s been trying to keep his mind off Mew, not on him.
He pulls up a game app instead and commits to beating a new level by the time he makes it to the train station. He can’t let his mind linger, lest it wander off to things that will only hurt him. Gulf walks out into the cold air, feels the breeze, the changing of the weather and wonders when summer got so chilly. He’s used to this walk and he knows it well. It’s been years that he’s had the same apartment and the same job, the same mundane routine of travelling between the two. And yet for a while his life had become something that was so extraordinary that now Gulf can’t help but feel the missing pieces.
Mew’s laugh for example. Gulf can almost hear it in the wind, an eerie hollow imitation of the colourful timbre that it truly is. He imagines that all his days will be like this now. He’s just going back to his mundane, ordinary, colourless life and Gulf is okay with that. At least, he’s trying to be. He will be, because he has to be.
Tuesday is much of the same, Gulf leaves work even later and doesn’t manage to sleep much when he gets home. He shivers in bed after taking a shower, hair still damp as he closes his eyes and keeps them shut in sheer stubborn fashion until the sun rises. Sleep doesn’t find him more than an hour at a time and it leaves him grumpy in the morning as he hurries to the office.
Wednesday is the worst day of all. Gulf’s head is killing him all morning, he steps on a pile of mushy garbage in the subway, dirties his shoes and to make matters worse, one of his team calls in sick so he struggles to shoulder the extra work. His bond rages inside his chest for Mew, the waves crash one after another inside of him. Gulf coughs as he feels a cold take over his body, really regretting sleeping with wet hair the night before and does his best to ignore it. He’s so tired by the time work hours finish he packs up and decides to just head home. He doesn’t think he’ll survive another late night in the dark, empty office all alone.
He’s barely gotten off the elevator when he feels his phone buzz in his jacket pocket. Gulf rubs at his eyes and clears his throat before picking up. It’s an unknown number so he’s not sure who it could be. When he brings the phone to his ear he is met with loud chatter. It sounds like a busy office or restaurant, but no one seems to be talking into the phone. Gulf squints and almost hangs up.
“- No, no thank you. None for me,” Gulf has to stop walking to make sure he’s hearing right. It’s Mew. That’s definitely Mew’s voice. Gulf can pick it out even amongst a crowd, has it embedded in his mind. “Gulf? Hey, can you hear me?” Mew says over the line, his voice warm and soft against Gulf’s ear.
He blinks as words fail him, mouth flapping open with no use. A soft hum is what he manages, hand tightening around his phone. “How are you doing?” Mew asks him after a beat. Gulf begins to walk again, breathing in deep through his mouth so he has a semblance of the natural ease Mew does. “I’m okay, you?” Gulf strains against the loud sounds from Mew’s side and tries to focus on his alpha. “Give me a second Gulf, I can’t hear you properly – I'm stepping out,” Mew talks away from the phone and then their conversation is plunged into silence. Gulf can hear Mew’s soft breathing now, the shuffling of his clothes as he puts his free hand in his pocket and the scratch of his shoes against the ground. “That’s better,” Mew laughs and it has Gulf smiling, his eyes closing to cherish it.
Gulf feels a cough bubble up before he has a chance to muffle it with his sleeve, his body shaking with the force of it. “What’s wrong? Did you catch a cold?” Mew doesn’t miss it of course; his voice is full of worry as he stops laughing. “I’m fine, I just didn’t dry my hair last night when I went to bed” Gulf mumbles. He hears Mew groan in disapproval, he knows the other alpha is going to nag him before it even begins. “How many times did I tell you to stop doing that? How bad is it? Do you have a fever too?”
“Oho, I feel a little cold but I don’t think I have a fever. And I don’t remember you saying anything of that sort to me,” Gulf teases to lighten up the mood, he doesn’t need Mew taking care of him when he’s in Japan for work. He’s done being a burden to the man. “You don’t remember huh? What am I going to do with you?” Mew chuckles, it’s dark and deep over the line. Gulf’s heart thumps a few times against his chest at the sound of it. “Nothing, you’re not here” Gulf says it without thinking and then stills. He’d only been joking; it wasn’t supposed to come out so honest and tortured. He didn’t want to guilt Mew about something he had no choice in, he didn’t want to stoop that low, be that desperate.
Yet here he is. He can feel Mew’s discomfort in the silence that follows. Gulf wants to crumble down to the ground and just stay there in his shame. “You’re right. I’m not there,” Mew talks slow, calm in the way he gets when he’s resigned and upset. Gulf opens his mouth to apologize, but he’s interrupted before he can get anything out. “But I will be.” Mew says it like it’s a promise and seals it against Gulf’s heart. “I’m going to come back and when I see you Gulf,” He laughs here, tone playful in a way Gulf has trouble keeping up with. “You’re going to be sorry for teasing me, you little devil” Gulf has no choice but to laugh at the absurd nickname, shocked at how Mew has completely rid him of his previous guilt.
“I’ll have you know, I’m neither little nor a devil” Gulf whines in retaliation, hands opening up a door as he steps inside the building. “Okay but where’s your proof?” Mew doubles down and snickers, he’s not letting Gulf go. “What is there to prove? I’m taller than you first of all, and I'm super nice” Gulf rides up in an elevator, worried the line will disconnect for a moment. “Hmm, fine so you’re not a devil but I distinctly remember being at least a smidge taller than you,” Gulf can’t stop his laugh at Mew’s obvious teasing. “Just because I always hunch over!” Gulf walks out of the elevator, a perk in his step that carries him through the hall.
His smile can’t leave his face, listening to Mew talk and hearing his voice for as little as ten minutes lifts him up that much. It’s as if all the sorrow and misery of the past few days are a forgotten memory, something that doesn’t equate with the unbridled happiness pouring out of Gulf now. Mew laughs and it’s not the hollow eerie timbre that has followed Gulf through the wind. He talks and it sounds like home to Gulf, as if Mew and him were cuddled together on a couch, talking face to face. Gulf feels warm for the first time since Mew left him.
His steps stop when he reaches a door. It’s black and sturdy, familiar in its height with the number 518 written on it in gold. “And it’s kind of cold here still, even though it’s almost summer now. I’ve had to go out every night with all these stuffy business men types. It makes me miss home,” Mew is still talking, used to the silence Gulf usually gives him in exchange for his full attention. Yet Gulf is stuck in his spot, unable to move let alone speak. “I miss- ”
“I’m outside your place,” Gulf rushes out, a little breathless. He doesn’t know how it happened but his feet brought him to the front door of Mew’s apartment. He knows the alpha isn’t there, he knows that with every fiber of his being. That even if he opens this door Mew won’t be behind it and still, he’s here. He doesn’t know why and it makes the sadness return once more. He feels like a fool. Acting giddy, smiling and talking with Mew like nothing’s changed. As if the distance isn’t killing him, as if the bond isn’t a constant ache, a constant reminder of what he’s missing. Like he doesn’t know what will happen once Mew comes back and they part ways, after they break their bond. “I must be crazy,” Gulf says, a humourless laugh escaping him.
Gulf hates the bond. Has felt trapped by it since the beginning. With its incessant tugging, pushing and pulling, it has done nothing but be a reoccurring annoyance. But the bond is also Mew. It’s where Mew lives inside of Gulf, the deep bottomless water with all of its ups and downs. It’s where Gulf knows he can slip inside and let himself go to all of his feelings for Mew. Can be enveloped and embraced by them, swallowed whole by their sheer intensity. And without it, without the bond all of that will be gone. Mew will be gone, the water will be gone, and Gulf won’t have anyone to hold him together as he feels everything with his whole heart. All Mew does is make him feel. So much and so hard. The thought of it alone brings all of it back to Gulf now, everything he’s been trying to avoid for days.
It crashes into him full force, an ocean wave that looks beautiful from afar but is merciless when it tugs him under. “Gulf...” his name leaves Mew in a breath. “I-I don’t know why I came here,” Gulf mutters, sounding as embarrassed as he feels. Gulf shudders out an exhale, eyes wet as his hand rests against the door. He’s trying his best not to let Mew hear his voice waver but he’s unsure if he’s succeeding. Mew is silent for a long time, simply listening to Gulf as he tries to calm down. Gulf wonders if he can go inside and stay there for a bit. He wonders if that would be intrusive, if Mew would hate it. But Gulf knows that Mew’s place, just beyond that black door, is filled with Mew’s scent. Carries it through every room and every piece of furniture, has it sewn deep into every fiber. Gulf is willing to give anything to be able to be in there right now, surrounded by rain and earth. “Can you do me a favour Gulf?” Mew asks him, interrupting Gulf’s slow descend into turmoil. Gulf falters at Mew’s odd change of pace, rubbing a hand against his face to stop any wayward tears. He hums in response not yet trusting his voice.
“I actually left a really important document at home and I was going to send Tul over to get it but would you mind going in and taking a picture of it for me instead?” Gulf sucks in a quick breath, fingers retracting from the door to twiddle with his jacket instead. “You want me to go inside?” Gulf asks, almost dares to hope as he curls more towards Mew’s apartment. He hears Mew chuckle, the sound as cozy as a cup of hot chocolate. “Yes Gulf, you’ll have to go inside to get it”
“But is that okay?” Gulf hesitates even as his hand reaches for the electronic keypad. He already knows the passcode, having seen Mew punch it in plenty of times. At first he had tried to avert his eyes to let Mew have some privacy but one night Mew had held him in his arms, wrapped gently in each other as Mew had put the combination in and Gulf hadn’t felt the need to look away. Mew had kept him there, right by his side as if Gulf was welcome to know it, as if he wanted Gulf to know it. “Of course it’s okay, my home is your home” Mew says it like it’s nothing, as easy as telling Gulf his favourite colour.
Except that sentence alone takes Gulf by complete surprise. His heart jumps as he keys in the code and steps inside. Not one foot in and all Gulf can smell is Mew. It brings the tears back to Gulf’s eyes, the smell of fallen rain wrapping around him as he closes the door. It’s so comforting Gulf is tempted to sit down right at the entrance and stay there forever. “Let me know once you get to my desk okay?” Mew’s voice snaps him out of it, Gulf shucking off his shoes so he can hurry and get Mew his document. He’s not here because Mew wants him to be, he’s here because Mew needs him.
If Gulf can be of any use to the alpha he’s going to take the opportunity, especially if it lets him be surrounded by Mew’s scent for a while. “Okay I’m here” Gulf tells Mew once he’s in front of the messy paperwork. He smiles at the piles of scattered pages and the picture of Mew’s family. It almost feels like a lifetime ago that he was here for the first time, staring at the picture with no clue of what the future had in store for him. “It should be on the left side of the desk,” Mew answers. Gulf looks to the files on that side and picks one up. “Is it in the red folder, or the green one?” Gulf asks him as he puts the phone on speaker so his hands are free. “Uh, the red one?” Gulf huffs out a laugh at Mew’s uncertain tone. “And what page did you need?” Gulf opens up the folder and smiles down at the messy scrawl he sees in between the printouts.
Mew’s handwriting is the cutest. Gulf remembers the letter he still hasn’t moved from his coffee table and sighs. “The first one” Mew says in a hurry. It pulls another quiet laugh out of Gulf, “Are you playing with me?” Gulf whines as he hears Mew laugh along. He raises his phone and takes a picture of the page nonetheless and sends it to Mew through text. “Thank you, Gulf,” Mew’s voice melts into something soft and sincere. “You’re amazing you know that?” Gulf’s heart is hanging on by a thread at most, his hands fisting together and Mew seems determined to pull the rug out from beneath him with every word. “I really miss you...the bond, the bond isn’t happy at all about how far away you are” Gulf wraps one hand around his mouth to stop it from saying something impulsive.
He almost wants to blurt out how much he feels the same, how much he misses Mew. The way he’s been utterly miserable without him, that he can’t imagine having to be this way for the rest of his life. But he shouldn’t, he can’t. And Mew won’t let him anyways, continuing to shatter his entire world one word at a time. “Being here without you has been so hard Gulf, I hope things have been easier for you at least. I have been trying to give you lots of space, the time that I had promised you Saturday night. Because that’s what you deserve. This isn’t an easy decision and I know how difficult it is to make when we feel so tied together, all the time, wrapped up in one another. So I told myself I wouldn’t call, that I wouldn’t text and just let you have all of that.” Mew pauses here, he exhales into the phone. It’s quiet and holds all kinds of emotion that Gulf can’t understand over the phone. He wants to see Mew so bad, see his face and his eyes so that he can better comprehend what the other man is feeling.
His legs feel weak and Gulf slides down to the floor, he rests against the drawers of the desk and brings the phone to his chest. Time and space. Neither of those were things Gulf asked for, nor needed. He wonders if Mew has been able to use all the time and space between them to his advantage because all it’s done for Gulf is make him realize how pathetic and in love he is with Mew. Even more than he thought, it seems. “But today...today was so goddamn horrible. I wanted to hear your voice, I - I wanted to hear your laugh,” Gulf looks up and bites down on his tongue. Mew’s really doing this. He’s all the way in Japan and he’s still got his hand wrapped around Gulf’s heart. “I’m sorry for calling you out of the blue, my phone died earlier and I was late for a meeting too, the bond kept-” Mew stops himself short, sighing out in resignation. “The bond felt so unsettled today, all I could think about was you.”
Gulf shudders, sitting down on the cold hard ground, surrounded by the smell of rain and earth with Mew’s voice in his ears saying words that are giving him hope, it’s all too much. “I miss you too,” He whispers, unable to say much else. Gulf is afraid of just what will spill out of his mouth if he opens it again. He hears Mew laugh, a soft tinkle like a wind chime and throws his caution to the wind. “I want to see you,” Gulf continues. His voice is small and unsure as Mew becomes silent. “I’m glad you called, this is nice” Gulf bites his lip, worrying it between his teeth and considers saying more. How much can he get away with? How much can he gush and whine before Mew realizes Gulf’s real intentions?
“Being back here, in your place...it’s almost like you’re with me” Gulf sniffles at the end, a lame attempt at controlling his emotions. He hopes Mew thinks nothing of it other than Gulf’s cold acting up.
Mew is quiet for a while, the only sound between them is their synchronized breathing.
It’s not an uncomfortable quiet but Gulf is so nervous he’s said too much that he’s begging Mew to say something, anything at all. “I wish I was. But I'm glad you feel better, you’re always welcome to come by.” Mew tells him and lets the rest go unsaid. You can come whenever; my home is your home. Gulf smiles, shaking his head at how generous Mew is being. “Even when you’re not here?” He’s pushing his luck. He knows Mew doesn’t say no often, hasn’t heard Mew say it in all the time they’ve spent together. But being here, in Mew’s home is a close second to being with Mew himself in how safe Gulf feels. If he could, Gulf would stay here until Mew returned.
Mew chuckles, bright even through the phone. “Yes Gulf, even when I'm not there. Just don’t steal anything,” It’s Gulf’s turn to laugh then, his whole body vibrating with nervous energy. “Then I’m going to sleep here tonight,” Gulf announces, voice full of a bravado he doesn’t actually feel. If Mew retracts his offer, Gulf can always play it off as a joke. But Mew doesn’t hesitate when he tells him that he can, doesn’t even laugh about it. Maybe he knows just how much Gulf is struggling without him, or maybe he just trusts Gulf that much. Either way Gulf is grateful, once again reaffirmed in his feelings of loving Mew.
“I have to get back; they’re waiting for me." Mew tells him after a while. He sounds as reluctant as Gulf feels, dragging out the silences and the spaces between their words. “Okay, yeah. I don’t wanna keep you” Gulf mutters, hand fisting in his shirt. He listens to the quiet hum of the static line, Mew’s soft exhales and waits for Mew to hang up. “Have a good night Gulf,” Mew says, soft and sincere. Gulf nods his head and gives a quiet hum. “Don’t sleep with your hair wet again,” Mew speaks up once more, pretending to sound authoritative as he does. “Okay, Alpha,” Gulf laughs, pleased with his own teasing before he realizes just what he’s said.
Gulf’s eyes widen and he scrambles off the ground in a panic. “Alpha huh?” Mew says. He doesn’t sound mad, or disgusted so Gulf manages to swallow the lump in his throat. He wants to laugh it off, say it was a joke, because it was. However his lips are glued shut, fear pricking at his heart. “I kind of like the sound of that,” Mew continues, “if you keep playing those kinds of jokes, I’ll have to get revenge.” Gulf sighs out in relief, trying to gather his wits before bidding Mew a final farewell. They finally end the call and Gulf is left alone once more.
Suddenly the bond feels heavy again, as if a large anchor has been left inside his chest. It disturbs the flow of the waves, sinking deep into the abyss. Speaking to Mew had almost made the loneliness vanish, and now the illusion is gone. The reality of his situation is apparent once more, that Gulf is by himself. That even though Mew’s scent, wafting throughout his entire home, brings Gulf immense comfort, it’ll never be enough. Not really, not without Mew. And even this small comfort won't last.
Gulf’s headache returns full force, dragging him from his thoughts as he heads into Mew’s bathroom. He runs himself a bath, like Mew would. Takes a small bath bomb Mew likes to use and drops it in too. He sits on the ground and watches it fizz, spinning throughout the water as its colour seeps out. The whole room starts smelling like a soft lavender, just enough to help Gulf relax and not worsen his headache. He strips down and makes himself into a small ball in the big tub. He wraps his arms around his knees and rests his head there. If he closes his eyes he can almost pretend Mew’s there with him, running his hands through the water and carefully pulling Gulf’s hair away from his eyes.
The lights are dim, and Mew is talking to him in a hushed voice. He can talk for hours if Gulf lets him, about any and everything. He’ll tell him about his day and Gulf will listen, content to hear about all of Mew’s colleagues and friends. Then Mew will pause and stare at Gulf with his bright sparkly eyes, crescents in the making and wait for him to talk instead. In the beginning it might have been hard for Gulf to talk to Mew, about his friends and his family but not now, not anymore. When someone is so open and forthcoming about themselves it helps others open up too and Gulf has never felt so comfortable around anyone other than Mew. So when Mew gives him that look, puppy dog eyes staring at him with so much patience and acceptance it’s easy for Gulf to give in.
He’ll talk, tell Mew about his office, about his shitty day, his horrible headache. Mew will pout and massage his back, fingers slipping into Gulf’s hair to help him destress. They’ll laugh at something or another and Gulf will slip in a joke or two. Mew will go grab Gulf a towel when he notices that the water is turning cold and then come running back in before Gulf can even think about feeling lonely.
Gulf can see it all, and yet when he opens his eyes Mew’s not there. The bathroom is quiet save for the trickle of the faucet. The water has run cold and Gulf wonders why he didn’t prepare himself a towel in advance.
It’s only once Gulf’s already out of the bath, dripping wet and cold does he remember that he hasn’t brought with him a change of clothes. His eyes shift to Mew’s clothing drawer before he reaches for it. He finds a soft t-shirt and some shorts that he can slip on. The fact that they smell like Mew is a bonus, Gulf feeling enveloped by the scent. He dries his hair and then sits down on Mew’s couch to order himself some food. He’s really tired and almost positive now that his cold is only going to worsen but he needs to eat some food if he hopes to take any medicine and drift off.
Just as he calls a place nearby for some spicy soup and rice, his mom calls. Gulf smiles before even answering. “Hello, ma” Gulf says softly, laying down on the couch to try and get more comfortable. “How’s my sweet boy? Your voice sounds hoarse, are you sick?” Her words fill Gulf’s eyes with tears. He’s been feeling so dejected, deserted in a big city all by himself for the first time in a long time and so hearing his mom fret about him even miles away makes Gulf emotional. He misses his family so much, especially now that he’s sick and heartbroken. He wants to go home and fall into his mother’s arms. A place he knows will always be a home to him.
“No mama, just tired” Gulf lies, a poor attempt at not worrying her. “I miss you guys,” Gulf shifts onto his side, holding the phone close to his ear. “We’ve missed you too,” His mom trills, the sounds of his father filtering in from behind her. “Even Grace?” Gulf jokes, trying to sound lighthearted. “Even Grace,” His mom laughs, the sound bringing Gulf back to his childhood. Back when he was only seven, running around in the sun with a soccer ball, not a single care in the world. His mother who has always been by his side, from soccer teams, to high school, to his awkward sex ed talks through puberty and even his first few omega partners. His mother who’s always been a source of light to him, who’s never judged him for being a little different, who’s always encouraged him to go after what he wants. She’s always been with him, through thick and thin, growing older with him too.
Now she sounds frailer than Gulf remembers, she looks more worn down whenever he visits and if he’s honest with himself, it’s one of the reasons why he’s been avoiding going to see her. “How’s work been sweetheart? Has it been very difficult?” His mother, unlike his father never asks him why he isn’t coming home to see them more. Gulf knows it’s not because she doesn’t want him to, but more because of the fact that she’s trying to respect his independence. She’s trying her best to support him in the way that he needs. “It’s been okay mama; you don’t need to worry about me. How have you and dad been? Is the store still okay?” His mother brightens up at the topic change, going on and on about Gulf’s father and how inattentive he’s been lately. Gulf hears his father deny the accusations from the back and snorts at their behaviour. It must be nice, Gulf muses, having someone to bicker with.
Someone who you trust and are so in love with even after years of being together that even the same old tasks are never boring. Gulf wants that too, something similar to what his parents have. “When will I be able to argue like you guys, hm?” Gulf teases, laughing at his father’s shrieks in the background. It’s endearing to say the least. It makes him miss home even more. His mother quiets down, clearing her throat before she talks. “Gulf, are you in a relationship?” His mother has always been more perceptive than him, straightforward too. Gulf is left reeling at the steer of the conversation, anxiety spiking at just the thought of Mew. "No mama, why would you say that?"
“Because you only get sentimental like this when you’re in love” She’s right. Of course she is. Gulf isn’t much of a romantic on the best of days so when he’s not seeing anyone, his head is always in the clouds. He doesn’t ponder much about his future or a family or love in general. He’s always thought that it’ll come when it comes, that if someone was interested, they would talk to him and if he was too, they would date. The rest would be history. That’s what Gulf thought, never thinking too hard or deep about what ifs and rejections. But when Gulf is in love, much like he is now, it’s hard to think about much else.
It’s like a giant boulder stranded in the middle of a road, Gulf just wants to drive through but he has no idea how. So he spends days and weeks trying to move the boulder, stare at the boulder, ignore the boulder, until finally he decides to change his destination and drive the opposite way. That’s how it should’ve been, Gulf wants so badly to leave this boulder behind. He wants to watch it in his rearview mirror as he speeds off, but this boulder is like no other. This boulder is Mew. It’s soft touches, sweet words, midnight cuddles and rain.
“I don’t know what to do mama,” Gulf chokes out, voice thick with stress and pain. He feels so lost, so unsure of the future that his bond starts reacting in kind. It creates the same kind of chaos happening in his mind right within his chest, a cruel imitation. “I really don’t know what I'm supposed to do,” He feels his eyes start to well up, his mother cooing at him softly only egging him on. It’s so easy to cry after the day he’s had. “Come home little one, come home and tell me everything. I promise we’ll figure it out together okay?” His mom stays on the phone with him until he’s calmed down, reassuring voice echoing in his ears.
He's scared. Of what will happen when he tells her, and about what will happen when Mew returns but Gulf can’t run anymore. He knows there’s no driving away from this problem, he’s going to need a solution and only someone who’s wiser and more emotionally attuned can help him. There’s only two people he knows like that, one happens to be the source of his issues and all the way in Japan while the other one is his mom.
“Okay ma, tomorrow I’m going to come home” Gulf whispers. He hopes he’ll have the strength to tell her everything, because he’s going to need a lot of support if he’s to come up with a plan on how to survive Sunday night when Mew returns.
Waking up is even harder for Gulf than falling asleep had been the previous night. His cold is much worse, nose stuffed and his whole body feverish. His eyes crack open with strain, blurry as he tries to focus on the clock in Mew’s room. Sleeping in Mew’s bed had been a good choice since it had helped his bond stabilize. His arms tighten around Mew’s pillow, hugged tight towards his chest. He nuzzles his nose deep into the fabric and sighs, work is as appealing right now as falling into a lava pit. Gulf stretches his legs out, toes falling off the edge and rallies up enough strength to sit up. It's only five a.m. so he can sleep more if he wants but he doesn’t think he’ll be able to with how stuffy his nose feels. He wraps himself in Mew’s duvet and slinks his way into the kitchen for some food.
He heats up his leftovers from last night and sits on the floor in front of the coffee table just staring at the steam rise from his soup. He’s got no appetite, which is strange but he guesses it’s because of his cold. Gulf taps onto his phone and wonders if he should call in sick or not. He’s just starting to get back into the good graces of everyone in the office so he almost feels like he has to drag himself into work. The next second a rough cough slips past his lips and makes his mind up for him. He’s suffering enough, he’s not going to be able to handle all the nasty stares and whispers. He quickly emails his boss and another team leader that he won’t make it in today.
Not even bothering to wait for a reply he closes his email and starts up a game.
He spends the rest of the day curled into a small burrito on Mew’s couch. He watches a few movies, starts a new TV show that Mew recommended and plays some games. It isn’t until dinner time that he notices how late it’s gotten, the sky turning dark outside the windows. His phone buzzes from the coffee table where he left it in the morning, ringing a few times before stopping. Gulf watches it with a glare, daring whoever it was to try calling again. He huffs out in relief when no one calls, about to resume his game when he hears it start ringing again.
Gulf slumps down from the couch, landing with a loud thud onto the floor before he picks up. “Hello?” His voice rasps, making him cough and try to clear his throat. “Gulf sweetie? You okay?” It's his mom. Gulf almost slaps his forehead for forgetting about going home today. “Hey ma, I'm fine just have a sore throat”
“Oh dear, well me and your father are almost at your company to pick you up. Pack up your things so we can bring you home and take care of you,” Gulf freezes, breathing picking up at the idea of having to leave Mew’s place. All day he’s been focusing on the scent all around him and it’s helped, a lot. He’s not sure how he’ll fair without it, besides he’s not even at his company today.
“I- I’m actually at home, I called in sick” Gulf replies, coughing a few times before standing to go get changed. “Oh, okay we can come there. Honey, turn around Gulf’s at his condo” He hears his mom speaking to his father, a groan slipping past his lips. “No, I'm not at my condo. Sorry I... I’ll send you my address okay? Just let me know when you’re here” Gulf hangs up and sends his mom Mew’s address quickly so that he can change.
He’s been sweating in his clothes all day so he decides to take a quick shower too. Once he gets out he pulls on one of Mew’s sweaters and a matching pair of pants before shuffling to the door. He checks his phone and sure enough his mom has left him a message telling him she’s arrived. There’s a Line notification too so he taps on the app as he slips on a pair of Mew’s slippers.
It’s a message from Mew.
Gulf stops and stares down at his phone for a moment, heart racing.
Mew [19:21 P.M.] You’re not stealing anything are you?
Gulf has to muffle his laughter with a hand to not draw attention to himself. His mouth pulls up into a big heart-shaped smile for the first time since waking up that morning as he responds.
Gulf [20:03 P.M.] I’m a good boy, I would never :P
He runs a thumb over Mew’s Line ID with reverence, eyes lingering before he shuts off his phone and heads downstairs. He spots his family’s car parked in front of the building’s entrance, a minivan in a sea of luxury cars and jogs up to it. His mother gets out of the passenger seat, opening her arms and awaiting his arrival. Gulf doesn’t stop jogging until he’s got her arms wrapped around him, his head falling to her shoulder as he hunches down. He can smell her floral shampoo, her soft ponytail and her thin fingers rubbing at his back. It takes all of Gulf’s strength not to break down right there, in the middle of the road, as his mother hugs him for the first time in a long time.
“My sweet boy,” She kisses his head and pulls away, cradling his face in her small hands. “Look how much taller you’ve grown, and you’ve gotten skinny too. Are you eating well?” She chastises, turning his head with her hands to get a good look at him. Gulf almost rolls his eyes at her antics, a fond smile on his lips. “I haven’t grown an inch in five years ma, and I’ll have you know I feed myself well” Gulf stares down at her, smile straining at all the questions he sees in her eyes. Whose place is this? Why are you here? But he’s thankful when his mother doesn’t voice her concerns. She ushers him to the backseat and then gets in herself, letting Gulf rest his head on her shoulder.
She’s much smaller than him and he has to bend in a weird way but Gulf wouldn’t trade it for the world. Her hands pat at his damp hair, carding through it until his eyes start to flutter shut.
For the second time in one day Gulf has trouble opening his eyes. His head hurts and he can hear pots and pans in the distance, the TV a quiet crackle as a sports announcer chatters on. Gulf lifts up onto his elbows only to be greeted by his childhood home. He’s sprawled out on the large living room sofa bed, his dad sitting beside him and watching a soccer match. He can hear his mom humming something in the kitchen, dishes clattering. Gulf smiles and settles back down, feeling content. He pulls his sleeves over his fists and brings Mew’s sweater up to his nose. He imagines what it would be like to bring Mew home and introduce him to Gulf’s family. Gulf’s sure Mew would impress the heck out of all of them, being kind to Grace, talking all soft to his mom and even bringing up a business discussion with his dad.
Gulf sighs, snapping himself out of the fantasy. He turns his eyes onto the soccer game, trying to pay attention so he can shout in joy alongside his dad when a goal happens. It feels nice being here, just surrounded by people that he holds so dear. Gulf is happy he came home, his bond is quiet too, finally silent as the sea stills, waiting for a storm. His mother joins them around the end, wrapping a hand around Gulf and watching along. It’s become a habit of hers since she had to watch so many of Gulf’s soccer matches growing up. At the start she would say watching helped her learn the rules better, so she can support Gulf but Gulf knows it’s simply because it helps her spend more time with him and his father.
After they eat dinner, Gulf finds himself on the porch in their backyard. He's watching the grass blow in the wind and branches shake with the force, his blue blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He doesn’t notice his mother sit down beside him until she places her soft hand onto his. Gulf turns to look at her, brown eyes dark as the sun slips almost completely below the horizon. She squeezes his hand without a word, her intentions clear. Are you ready to talk?
Gulf turns back towards the yard, breath shaky as he holds his mother’s hand in between his own. “I bonded with someone Ma,” He keeps his eyes on the darkening sky, stars beginning to peak through because he can’t bear to look at the woman beside him. “It was an accident,” Gulf tacks on at the end, too ashamed to turn his head. He waits a moment for his mother to speak, to berate him, to be angry or disappointed. “Is that where you were today? Your bond’s apartment?” His mother sounds thoughtful instead, hand still squeezing Gulf’s.
Gulf tucks his head to his chest and nods, his eyes land on the fabric of Mew’s sweater and stay there. He’s so nervous he starts counting the small polka dots all over the warm jumper. “Well, what kind of person are they?” His mom leans forward trying to catch a glimpse of Gulf’s eyes. It proves to be a difficult task as Gulf hides his face further. “He...he’s great. He’s sweet and kind. He’s patient and outgoing, and he’s brave too.” Gulf mumbles it all with a pout on his lips. “hm, and how do you feel about him?” Gulf feels that lump in his throat returning once more. It grows so large that he can’t manage a single swallow, as if his whole heart is lodged there.
“I love him,”
Gulf deflates once he’s said the words, a weight that’s been lifted off his shoulders. Saying the words out loud seems easy now that he’s done it. His mom smiles beside him, a warm feeling settling in her chest. Gulf turns to her and she must notice the forlorn look in his eyes because her smile disappears. “He wants to break our bond” Gulf whispers. His mother looks at him in shock, taken aback by the information. “He said that to you?” His mother finally replies. She talks slow and delicate, like Gulf might break. He feels, he just might.
“No... not yet. Not in so many words anyway, but he’s coming back on Sunday and then we’re going to have the talk” Gulf bumps his shoulder with his mother’s, trying his best not to break down. “Well, have you told him how you feel sweetheart?”
“No mama, I’ve been too scared.” Gulf scrunches up his nose, voice a soft whine. He watches as his mom gives him a stern glare. Gulf is expecting the scolding before it even comes. “How do you expect your relationship to go anywhere if you don’t communicate things with your partner? I’ve raised you better than that, there’s nothing in this world you can’t achieve and I'm sure of that.” She retracts her hand from where it was nestled between Gulf’s and wraps him in her arms instead. Her voice is soft now as she says, “Gulf, my sweet boy. You’ve already grown up, so much and so far, that I can no longer always protect you. But sometimes you still act like a little kid.”
Gulf almost stands up to protest, pout evident on his face. His mother keeps talking before he gets a chance to, hands tightening around him as if she knows. “Even your father and I went through a lot of things after we bonded. It’s a big learning curve, and it’s hard but when you find someone that is worth it you have to fight for it. This is no time for you to be surrendering to a tackle, you have to get back up and onto the field”
Gulf smiles, resting his head on her shoulders as they stare up into the night sky. “You did not just use a soccer metaphor mom,” Gulf giggles, warm in her embrace.
“I was being inspirational,” She turns towards him and plants a kiss on his cheek. “Did it work?”
Gulf nods, smile still on his face. “There’s just one more thing I have to tell you ma,”
“What is it love?” She says, resting her head atop of Gulf’s soft hair.
“He’s an alpha,” Gulf whispers, hands twisting together on his lap as he closes his eyes. There, he’s said it. That’s all of it, and it had gone mostly well. Gulf’s always been honest with his mother and he sees no reason now why he should ever stop. She’s the most amazing woman he knows, she’s everything he aspires to be and he hopes that he will be. This won’t change a thing between them, Gulf is sure. Mostly because he doesn’t know what he’ll do if it does.
His mother doesn’t say anything for a while but she doesn’t move either, arms still around Gulf’s shoulders like a jacket. Then she lifts her head and kisses Gulf on his temple, gentle and loving. “Thank you for telling me, bring him over one day for dinner” She says, all casual and nonchalant. Gulf feels a tear slip past his lashes, silent in its slow crawl. He’s so thankful and happy he can’t say a single thing. He doesn’t need to, not with his mom. She always knows, she’s been able to read him like a book since he was born.
They stay there together until it gets a little cold, his mother offering to make him a cup of tea as they head in.
Gulf thinks back to her words all throughout the night and about the kind of person his mother is. She’s someone strong and determined, someone who’s soft but knows when to stand up for herself. She’s someone who wouldn’t let their bond go without at least telling them how they feel.
And if Gulf is truly trying to live his life by her standards, aspiring to be like the most amazing and persevering person he knows then he should try.
He should at least try and confess, so that he can leave with no regrets. So that Mew will know how special he is to Gulf.
When you find someone that is worth it you have to fight for it.
Gulf kisses his mom and dad goodbye in the morning as he heads to his apartment before work. He’s still feeling a bit sick but much better than yesterday. Plus, he doesn’t imagine being able to get two days off in a row without getting some backlash. He’s been texting Mew back and forth ever since last night, giddy with every single exchange. He’s certain of his feelings and what he’ll have to do, so somehow talking to Mew is easier now. Similar to how it was before Gulf knew of a Dr. Simon Ayutthaya and that it was possible to dissolve a bond. There’s no impending loom of Gulf’s giant feelings over their conversations and so it flows easy, and Gulf is happier this way.
He tells himself that once he and Mew have the talk Gulf will do his best to still keep Mew in his life no matter the outcome. Gulf knows, maybe better than anybody else, just how understanding and kind Mew is. So Gulf hopes that even after their dreaded conversation about the future of their bond, Mew will be generous enough to let Gulf stay by his side.
Gulf goes to work with a lighter step, smiles at his coworkers with ease and gets through the day not worrying about a single thing. It isn’t until Friday night when Gulf is tucked beneath Mew’s duvet that he starts worrying. He’s staring, unblinking, at Mew’s message from earlier.
Mew [17:56 P.M.] I’m going to be back a day early to do some work at the main office, does Sunday night still work for you?
Gulf has yet to reply. It’s been thirty minutes since he’s read the message after getting home and yet he’s said nothing. Suddenly the thought of having to actually confess, with his own mouth using his own words is like a daunting figure standing in the corner of the dark room. Gulf hasn’t prepared a speech, hasn’t thought of an idea or a good place to do it either. Besides he has to clean up Mew’s whole house before the other alpha returns and sees the disaster that it’s become in his absence.
Gulf [22:13 P.M.] Yup, Sunday
Gulf rolls onto his back and sighs. How is he supposed to spend all day tomorrow if he can’t be at Mew’s apartment, knowing that the alpha is back but unable to see him. Gulf shuts his eyes and tries to sleep, he’s stressed enough about the confession, he shouldn’t also be thinking about a very real Mew being close by. A thought comes to him then, almost like a dream but quicker than a bolt of light. Gulf sits up in bed and grabs his phone. Why shouldn’t he just go see Mew tomorrow?
He texts his sister in a hurry and asks if she’s still friends with that botanist on their street. Grace replies with speed but annoyance, it’s understandable since Gulf knows she sleeps early. He asks her to request a bouquet for him to pick up tomorrow and then falls back into bed. He’ll just show up tomorrow, surprise Mew, give him flowers and treat him to a welcome home dinner before confessing somewhere private. God forbid his rejection happens in the middle of a restaurant for everyone to witness, Gulf shudders at the thought.
When he’s nervous like this it’s best to just do things as fast as possible. Sunday is simply too far away; Gulf will overthink the whole time until then. But now, he can just wing it. Go with the flow, it’s what he’s best at.
Having said that, Gulf spends the rest of his morning the next day coming up with a speech as he cleans Mew’s apartment. He washes all the dishes, laundries all the sheets and the duvet cover. He manages to vacuum too before he leaves, making sure everything is the same as when he arrived. Gulf is halfway to the train station when he realizes he’s still wearing one of Mew’s hoodies. He pouts down at the cozy sweater, contemplating going back before deciding against it. It’s not considered stealing since he’ll return it back to Mew once he sees him. Okay maybe not right away, tonight has to be special but soon. He’ll bring it back soon.
Gulf gets home and showers, doing his best to style his hair afterwards with a bit of gel. He’s not really talented in this department, hands clumsy as the gel goops through his fingers and falls into the sink. He looks at himself in the mirror and thinks he looks a little ridiculous. He’s seen this exact hairstyle on Mew before, when the older alpha had been heading into work and yet on Gulf it makes him look like a drowned rat. He huffs out in annoyance, running his fingers through it to make it a little less structured. A few strands break loose and make him look better so he decides it’ll have to do.
He heads towards his wardrobe and picks out one of his nicer suits, a light beige with a white shirt underneath. He’s dressed in ten minutes and he checks his phone only to notice the time. It's a bit past noon but it’s still early, Gulf hasn’t even had breakfast or lunch. His cheeks flush at his eagerness to get ready as he trudges to his kitchen to make himself some cereal. Once he’s full he sits down on his couch and turns on the TV, hands smoothing down the fabric on his thighs due to his nerves.
When his phone rings from the flower shop saying they have his bouquet, Gulf gets up with the relief of having something to do. He turns off the TV and heads out, taking the train to his old neighbourhood to grab the flowers he ordered. Gulf’s hands shake the whole ride as he listens to some music to calm down. He must look so silly, all dressed up in the afternoon with headphones in his ears and taking a grimy bus. Maybe he should invest in a car soon.
He gets the flowers, the white gardenias looking soft surrounded by the yellow acacias. He smiles wide at the arrangement and takes a cab to Mew’s office. He’s not willing to go through another embarrassing bus and train ride with flowers in his hands. He stops by the café Saint told him Mew likes and gets a slice of cake with some tea for Mew as well. He’s sure Mew’s got to be tired with all the flying and work so he thinks it’ll be a nice treat. His nerves don’t kick in again until he’s at the door of Mew’s office building. Its height is daunting for a supposed start up that isn’t even a decade old. Gulf swallows and enters, feeling immediately out of place in the bright and colourful space of the entrance.
He’s so busy looking around that he misses the front receptionist who smiles at him. “Hello sir, can I help you with anything today?” Her voice snaps Gulf out of his daze, almost making him jump. He shuffles forward with a slight blush on his cheeks until he’s at her counter. “Uhm, I’m looking for Mew Suppasit.” He mutters, blush reaching his ears. “Oh, uh Mr. Suppasit isn’t available for appointments today. Can I leave him a message for you?” She smiles at Gulf all business-like as she takes out a small notepad and a pen.
“Actually... I’m just- I'm a friend and wanted to welcome him back from Japan that’s all,” Gulf starts getting worried that he won’t even get to Mew, let alone confess to him. His heart sinks at the thought that all his plans were for nothing. However, the woman’s tone changes as soon as she hears Gulf is a friend. “Oh? What's your name?” She asks, a twinkle in her eye.
“Gulf, Gulf Kanawut” He replies, a bit dazed. She seems to brighten up at that and holds up a finger in front of Gulf’s face to wait. Gulf nods, enthusiastic about anything that’ll help him see Mew. The receptionist picks up her office phone and dials a number before speaking. “Mr. Suppasit sir, has your meeting finished?” She locks eyes with Gulf, both of them holding their breath in anticipation of the answer. “Yes sir, I’ll schedule it right away.” There’s a pause in which Gulf bites his bottom lip, flowers crinkling in his hand. “There’s a guest here to see you. Yes sir, I let them know already. It seems to be an urgent matter.” She gives Gulf a wink, waiting for her boss’s approval. Gulf is so impressed by her impromptu acting he gives a silent thumbs up.
“Yes sir, right away.” She hangs up the phone and sighs. Gulf’s shoulders fall down, a sad pout on his face at her reaction. “You can go in,” She pipes up with a smile. “Really?!” Gulf could hug her he’s so happy. He doesn’t though, of course not. She tells him to head on through until he reaches the end of the hallway. That’s where Mew’s office is. Gulf nods his head and starts walking away with a small wave. He stops by one of the offices with glass for walls and checks his reflection. He struggles to straighten his suit jacket and blow a few strands of hair out of his eyes before he keeps walking. Thankfully the office is pretty empty given it’s a Saturday.
Gulf can spot Mew’s office a few steps ahead, all of his doors are made of glass and it’s bright as sunlight filters in from the windows. Except as Gulf gets closer, he notices that Mew isn’t alone. He’s leaning on the side of his desk while talking to two other people. They’re engrossed in their conversation and laughing, Mew’s eyes crinkling at the corners. Gulf hesitates, wondering if he’ll be interrupting an important meeting if he steps inside. The choice is taken from him when one of the people inside the office turns around and spots him standing like an awkward beanpole in the hallway. He turns back to Mew and says something, gesturing to Gulf and then Mew is looking up. Their eyes find each other and Gulf startles, flowers squished against his chest as he tries to breathe through all the nervous energy in his body.
“Gulf?” Mew asks, stepping away from his desk as confusion fills his face. His voice helps Gulf’s body regain control. He steps inside the office, glancing at the two men sitting down before finding Mew again. “Hi,” Gulf says, all bashful. His ears have yet to cool down from earlier but they’re flaming to life again now. Mew smiles and approaches him, his arms come up and Gulf thinks for a moment he’ll get a hug but Mew settles his hands on Gulf’s biceps instead. “What’re you doing here?” Gulf looks down at the flowers still in his right hand and presses them into Mew’s chest. “For you,” He says as he looks at Mew, hoping to see a positive reaction.
Mew looks down at the flowers and then back to Gulf a few times before he takes the bouquet carefully. “You bought these for me?” Mew asks him, voice soft and full of emotion. Gulf nods his head and then remembers the tea in his other hand. “And this,” Gulf holds out the steaming cup of tea so that Mew can grab it. Gulf watches as Mew’s brows crease once again in confusion but his smile doesn’t leave his face. “Thanks Gulf, you didn’t have to do this” Mew turns back to his office and sets the flowers down on his desk, covering all his work documents. “I- It’s no problem, I wanted to” Gulf mumbles, face still flushed. “I wanted to come see you,” Gulf continues, eyes set in determination as Mew blushes in turn.
Someone clears their throat to Gulf’s left and Gulf looks down at one of the men who were in Mew’s room before he arrived. “What’s that?” The man asks while pointing to the plastic bag hanging from Gulf’s wrist. Gulf looks down and sees the slice of cake he has yet to give to Mew. He looks up and notices Mew already staring at him, eyes small crescents as he smiles. “I brought a small snack too since I didn’t know if you’d be hungry or not,” Gulf pouts in embarrassment, feeling three sets of eyes on him as he talks. Mew reaches out to him and takes the bag, when their fingers brush Gulf almost feels the urge to grab Mew’s hand instead. “So this is Gulf huh?” The same guy speaks up, looking to Mew now for clarification.
Mew looks down at him with a small glare and nods. “Gulf, this is Mild and this one here is Tul” Gulf turns to say hello to both men and feels out of place when he sees everyone is in such casual attire aside from him. Even Mew who usually wears a suit to work is in just a button up and some jeans. “Did I come at a bad time?” Gulf turns to Mew and asks, almost a whisper between just the two of them. Mew just shakes his head, still smiling, still little moon crescents for eyes. Seeing Mew like this makes Gulf break out into a smile too. He’s been so worried that Mew will treat him coldly once they see each other again but now he knows his fears were unfounded.
“Sooo does this mean you’re not coming out with us tonight?” Mild says again, breaking their atmosphere. Gulf turns to Mild before looking at Mew again, seeing the alpha’s conflicted expression. “Oh... you had plans? I’m sorry,” Gulf takes a small step back, already regretting coming all on his own accord without checking if Mew was available. Mew grabs onto his hand and stops him from going any further. “I didn’t have plans. I don’t have plans. These two just came here five minutes ago talking about some wild boys night out at the bar we usually go to.” Gulf looks at Mew, not quite believing him.
“Hey Gulf, why don’t you join us?” Tul says. His words are directed at Gulf but his gaze is on Mew, the two men talking between each other with their eyes. Gulf turns to Mew once more and squeezes his hand. “Is that okay?” He sees the hesitation in Mew’s eyes and is about to retract his question when Mew interrupts him. “Why not? It'll be fun,” He smiles at Gulf and then turns to his two friends. “Now can you two rascals disperse so I can pack up and meet you guys out front?” Mew gives Mild a pointed look until his friend stands up from his seat with a salute. “Aye, sir. Let’s go Tul, we probably shouldn’t witness this” Mild escapes out of the room before Mew can throw a pencil at the back of his head, Tul trailing behind with a chuckle.
The room plummets into silence as Gulf starts fidgeting with Mew’s fingers, still clasped with his own. Now that they’re alone all Gulf can think about is how much he’s missed Mew, how much he loves Mew and how much he wants to hug Mew. “Gulf?” Mew cradles his face with one hand, turning Gulf’s eyes up towards his own. “Are you sure you want to come? They can get pretty rowdy when drunk, they’re too much for me half the time” Mew chuckles, his thumb caressing Gulf’s cheek as he talks. “Well, you’re going right?” Gulf asks, eyes wide in innocence. Mew nods his head, a small frown on his face. “Then I'm going too, so I can be with you,” Gulf smiles wide, nose scrunching up as his eyes close into slits.
Mew is just looking at him in wonder, long after Gulf’s laughter mellows out. “Yeah, okay” He replies, finally slipping his hand from Gulf’s face so he can head back towards his desk. He phones his receptionist and asks for a vase to put the flowers in, then settles down to sip at his tea. Gulf wanders around Mew’s office and pokes at every book, photo or certificate he sees. There's a picture framed on Mew’s bookshelf of his family. Gulf picks it up and smiles down at all the happy faces in the photo. He feels Mew approach him from behind before his warmth encases Gulf’s back. “That’s Jom, my little sister. That’s my mom, chopper and my dad” Mew points to each person as he goes, even stopping on the small fluffy Pomeranian in his mom’s arms. “You don’t talk about them much,” Gulf turns his head to peer at Mew over his shoulder. He catches the sad look in Mew's eyes before he feels the melancholy in their bond.
“They passed, a few years ago. Only my sister is left and she lives with her partner in a different city. It was hard on her, being here” Mew trails off, eyes fixated on the photo in Gulf’s hands. Gulf feels tears well up in his eyes, unsure if he’s the one that brought them on or if Mew’s sadness is so strong over the bond that it’s causing them. Either way Gulf knows he hates seeing Mew sad the most in the whole world. He places the photo back on its shelf and then turns around. He opens his arms, an invitation if Mew wants it. Mew hesitates only for a moment, falling into Gulf like he’s coming home. Gulf’s arms wrap around his shoulders, rubbing circles into Mew’s back. “They would be so proud of you, everything you’ve accomplished and the man you’ve become” Gulf whispers.
He feels Mew’s arms tighten around him in response and it’s enough. Just holding each other is enough.
Gulf feels a weird sense of déjà vu as he enters the same bar where he met Mew just a few weeks ago. The only difference now is that Mew and his friends are with him instead of just beside him. He slides into a booth with Mew as Max and Tul go order their whole group a few drinks. Gulf starts feeling a little self-conscious at how overdressed he is, it makes him continuously fiddle with his hair. Mew notices it after a while, hand coming up to brush aside his bangs. The gel in Gulf’s hair is shiny in the dim lights of the bar and his bangs refuse to stay put. “You look great, I like the hair” Mew tells him, so effortless as if he means it. Gulf can’t help the way he beams at the compliment.
After their drinks arrive, Gulf comes to the realization that Mew’s friends are truly a bit wild. Mew hadn’t been exaggerating when he said that. Mild has been guffawing so loud, occasionally trying to climb the table to dance only to be stopped by Tul, and Max can’t seem to keep his shirt on. Tul has been dubbed the designated driver so he’s sober otherwise Gulf is sure he’d be wilding out too. Mew has been nursing his one glass all night and Gulf is so concerned about his approaching confession that he’s afraid he’ll puke up anything he tries to drink. After watching Gulf twirl his beer bottle between his fingers for the umpteenth time, Mew sidles closer to Gulf and wraps an arm around him. “You okay?” He asks, concern evident on his face.
“Yeah, actually I think I have to pee.” Gulf points across Mew towards the washrooms, waiting until the alpha slides out of the booth so he can get out. Mew sits back down and watches him go but Gulf can still feel his concern through their bond.
In the washroom Gulf splashes his face with some water and glares at his reflection. “You’ve got this,” He mumbles, pointing at the mirror. “You’re an attractive, successful alpha and you have many great qualities. Mew would be lucky to have you as a forever bond. This is your fate, he’s the one and it’ll all work out” Gulf sighs after his pep talk, eyes quaking even though he wants to feel firm. He stands by his decision, he’s going to confess, and he’ll have no regrets but he’s still...scared. He’s terrified. Losing Mew is an option he can’t help but stress over, even now. Gulf dries his hands and paces a bit to calm down, feeling his hands shake every time he imagines having to spew out his feelings to Mew.
The door to the washroom opens and Gulf is half expecting Mew to walk in, checking in on him but instead it’s Mild. His cheeks are flushed from the alcohol but he’s walking straight so Gulf assumes he isn’t here to throw up his dinner into the toilet. Mild walks up to Gulf and crosses his arms, the carefree man Gulf had met just hours prior all but gone. “You.” He says, pointed as he glares at Gulf. Gulf has to look behind himself just to make sure there hasn’t been a mistake, dumbly pointing at his own chest when it’s apparent no one else is with them. “Yeah you. What are your intentions with Mew?” Mild squares his shoulders and starts tapping with one foot. It might’ve been intimidating if Gulf were not a full head taller than him.
“Uhm I, I care about Mew a lot” Gulf says, unable to tell Mild the whole truth. After all if Mild is as drunk as he seems, he could go running off screaming Gulf’s confession for the whole bar to hear. Mild’s eyes thin to dangerous slits as he hums, somehow unsatisfied with Gulf’s answer. “How much do you care? Be honest”
Gulf is a bit flabbergasted at the line of questioning, brows pulling together on his face. “A lot. I care about Mew more than anyone.” Gulf replies, hoping that it will be enough for the other man. “If you mean that, truly, then please don’t break your bond.” Mild’s demeanour changes in an instant, gone is the ferocious tiger he was trying to be. Gulf is bewildered at why Mild thinks he wants to break the bond in the first place. “I’ll do what Mew wants. I can’t keep him tied to me if he’ll just be sad the whole time.” Gulf tries to reason, surely Mild can see this is a decision that falls on Mew’s lap not Gulf’s.
“No, you don’t understand,” Mild grabs at Gulf’s shoulders, squeezing hard “you can’t break the bond, if you do Mew might not be able to bond with anyone ever again.”
Gulf storms out of the washroom, door banging open against the wall of the club. The music covers the noise well, pumping throughout the bar with a slew of inebriated people who are too busy drinking to notice the disturbance. Gulf keeps his eyes low and heads for the exit. He’s so upset, so angry that he doesn’t stop even as people bump into him as he trudges through. His hands are shaking, knuckles white as he forms them into little fists.
He can’t believe it. That Mew would hide something like this from him. Gulf finally gets outside and huffs, chest rising fast because of how hard his heart is beating. He starts walking, not knowing where he's going but just needing to. His feet lead him to the alleyway behind the bar with ease, still dark and empty. He keeps walking until his legs feel too weak, making him lean against a wall. His breathing is still too fast, nails leaving crescents in his palm from his strength alone. Gulf closes his eyes and tries to calm down, shivering as the sweat on his back cools in the wind.
It’s Mew. Gulf grimaces, body stiffening as he straightens up. He really hadn’t wanted to talk to Mew while he was like this, still this angry and upset. He almost hopes that if he ignores Mew that the alpha will leave. But of course that’s not what happens, because Mew wouldn’t leave Gulf if ever given a choice. “What happened?” Mew says as he steps closer, shoes scarping against the tough gravel beneath them. Gulf’s breath stutters, chest heaving still. He turns around and stares at Mew as if seeing him clearly for the first time. Mew must be stricken by the look on his face because he stops, feet dragging to a halt a meter away.
“How could you not tell me?” Gulf starts, his voice wobbly as he tries to reign in his emotions. He wants to run his hands through his hair but knows it’ll be no use with all the gel he’s put in there. Mew continues to look at him in surprise, face morphing into something more perplexed and anxious. “How could you even think about doing that?” Gulf continues, the thought alone bringing tears to his eyes. “Is being bonded to me so bad? You’d rather be in pain and lose your entire future than spend it with me?” Gulf sobs out. His hand comes up to cover his mouth, embarrassed and so harrowed that he can’t control his words.
Mew seems to finally catch on, his shoulders drooping as he places his hands on his hips. “Did Mild tell you?” He says, calm as a sunny day in the middle of winter. He’s so aloof about the whole ordeal that Gulf’s anger reemerges tenfold. “What does it matter who told me? Why didn’t you tell me?” Gulf spits out. Mew seethes for a second, eyes flashing before he turns away and lets out a deep breath. When he turns back to Gulf the anger is gone once more. “How could I tell you Gulf? What would that do other than just trap you further in this relationship?” Mew starts closing the distance between them and drops his arms, lets them swing by his sides as he walks.
He looks resigned and tired, the light from outside the alley barely reaching his face now. “I wanted you to come to a decision first, to be able to think things through properly before you knew. That’s all. I was going to tell you after, I promise” Mew whispers the last two words, soft between them. Gulf scoffs, eyes closing shut as he wipes at his eyes with his sleeves. He feels so torn, distraught at having to hear about how breaking the bond would be an excruciating process for Mew and how Mew had hidden it all from him. He knows Mew only did it to protect him, like always but that’s the main problem. Mew’s willing to go far and wide just to make sure Gulf is satisfied but isn’t willing to put himself first.
“What decision? There is no decision! There’s not a single scenario in any universe where I would let you do this!” Gulf is pacing now, his volume rising. This finally breaks Mew out of his calm demeanour as he takes a step back and runs a hand through his hair, bangs flopping back down onto his forehead. “Don’t you see that this, what’s happening right now, was what I was trying to avoid?” Mew waves his hand in the air between them, his scent escalating until it feels as though the air is thick with humidity, as if the sky is about to crack open and start a downpour.
“How could I have told you when this is what I've been afraid of all along?!” Mew takes another step back, one of his palms coming up to cover his eyes, shielding Gulf from the pool of agony swimming in them. The air is thick enough now that Gulf feels it pushing on his shoulders from above, a weight so heavy that his body can barely move. Gulf reaches his hand out and clasps onto Mew, doing his best to stabilize the other alpha.
“What is there to be afraid of, hm? As if I ever wanted to break the bond in the first place,” Gulf mutters, his hand clutching onto Mew’s wrist to keep himself grounded. He looks up at Mew, the man’s eyes still hidden away. “You never have to be afraid with me, you know that right?” Gulf traces his free hand against the one covering Mew’s eyes, guiding it down until he can see the bright brown beneath. “Gulf...” Mew calls in a soft voice, all the fight knocked out of him. “What I said before I left, did you think about it carefully?”
Gulf nods his head, eyes blinking closed in determination. This is it, his big confession. “Can you be honest with me? Forget about what Mild said, or what I said. Can you just tell me what you want?” Mew squeezes his hand and waits. His eyes shine with encouragement as Gulf tries to remember that speech he’d come up with hours ago. His head is so frazzled he can’t think. He inhales deep, a little bit shaky but better than before Mew was holding his hand.
“I want you.” Gulf says it like he’s savouring the taste of each word on his tongue, unsure at first and then, again, “I want you. That’s all I've wanted for a while now,” He feels Mew’s hand go slack and tightens his own grip in turn. He’s petrified that Mew will slip away if he lets go. “I love you. And I know that maybe this feels fast, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that” Gulf pauses to lick his lips, mouth all of a sudden dry from how nervous he feels. “But I do, because you make me feel like I want to be the best version of myself. You make me not want to settle for less than I deserve, from the people around me and from myself. You treat me how I wish I'd always been treated, you’re amazing and beautiful and the strongest person I have ever seen. I just feel safe with you, god that was cheesy,” Gulf laughs, trying to sound light hearted but it comes out wet and garbled instead.
His heart hurts, for Mew and for himself. “I’m so sorry, for dragging you into this and for putting you in a situation like this. I - I know you probably don’t feel the same way but please, don’t break the bond. I wouldn’t know what to do if you were in pain because of me. I’ll do whatever you want, so please” Gulf shuts his mouth with a clack, feeling his emotions take over. His lower lip wobbles no matter how much he tries to force it not to. Mew pulls him into his chest and tucks Gulf’s head into his neck. He rubs soothing circles into Gulf’s back, bodies warm against each other.
“I was supposed to take you out to a nice dinner and confess,” Gulf breathes into Mew’s neck, taking this chance to close his eyes and savor the smell of rain, cool and refreshing. Mew pulls back just slightly, one hand cradling Gulf’s face as he peers into the younger’s eyes. “You’re not just saying this for me, right?” Mew whispers. “You mean it?”
Gulf can still see the doubt in Mew’s face, his molten brown eyes looking for answers. It feels right somehow, as Gulf bares his neck for Mew and falls to his knees, that they do this here. In the same alleyway that started it all, where Mew first submitted to Gulf and where they began their journey together. Now, Mew watches in fascination as Gulf completely submits in front of him. If Gulf were to be honest, he’s embarrassed beyond belief. His entire chest is burning from a blush and his ears feel just as hot. He’s never done this before, not in front of his parents when he got in trouble and not in front of teachers while getting reprimanded.
He’s certainly never done this for any of his previous partners, and he’d never given any thought of doing this ever. For another alpha no less. But that was all before Mew. Before Mew had come bulldozing into his life and changing his whole perception about life, love and pride. So even though he’s feeling all sorts of shy doing this, he knows that the one person that will never make fun of him for it is Mew. If this is the only way to get Mew to believe how sincere he is about his feelings then so be it, Gulf can kneel here all night. “Gulf,” His name sounds gruff rolling off Mew’s tongue, the alpha’s eyes dark as he stares down at Gulf.
Mew crouches down in front of him and sighs, “You’re going to be the end of me.” Gulf flushes darker as a wave of arousal clouds Mew’s scent. Gulf feels his eyes fall to half-mast, drawing his hands into fists on his thighs. Mew brushes a thumb beneath Gulf’s lashes, gentle and warm. “How long have you been feeling like this? Like I have?” He asks as he draws closer and kisses Gulf right along the path his thumb created. Gulf feels his eyes water, snapping out of his submissive stance. “Like you?” He asks, tentative in his approach. Mew smiles and this time it reaches his eyes, creating waning moons and scrunching his nose. “Yeah, stupidly in love” Mew huffs out a laugh, a bit in disbelief and excitement.
Gulf feels a tear cascade down his cheek right before he’s laughing out loud. He grabs onto the collar of Mew’s shirt and tugs him closer. “Kiss me already,” Gulf says and locks their lips together. Mew holds his face in both hands, lips dragging against one another in a heated hurry.
Falling into Mew’s apartment is easy. Gulf manages to keep his hands occupied by fiddling with Mew’s rings so he doesn’t jump the other man in the elevator ride up. Mew hugs him from behind as they walk towards the apartment door, waddling a bit as they go. Gulf keys in the code and opens the door, the dark entrance greeting them. Gulf takes in the quiet space, lit only by the lone moon in the sky as Mew takes his shoes off behind him. “Hey,” Mew returns to his back once more, nosing at the scent glands on Gulf’s neck. He wraps both arms around Gulf’s middle and runs his large palms over the younger alpha’s abdomen. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I'm just glad you’re back” Gulf tells him, letting his eyes roll back when he feels Mew start kissing behind his ear. “Come here,” Mew says, stepping away from Gulf to enter the apartment. Gulf shuffles off his shoes with haste, walking into Mew’s arms again. The older alpha kisses him deep and slow, sensual in the way his lips move. Gulf feels hands drag down his sides before he’s whisked up into Mew’s arms. He wraps his legs around Mew’s waist and laughs, delighted when he stares down and sees the adoration in Mew’s eyes.
Gulf hunches down so he can keep kissing Mew, fingers wrapped in the elder's hair. Mew drops him down onto the bed and crawls in after him, smile evident even as they kiss. “Mew,” Gulf sighs, feeling the bond sing as Mew starts descending down towards his neck. All he can smell is rain, a tropical flurry as Mew licks at his scent glands. The alpha sucks and kisses on each one until Gulf can’t breathe. His body feels sensitive, like a string pulled so taut it might snap. “Mew,” Gulf repeats, a bit whinier now. Mew looks at him from where he is, mouth panting and slick with saliva. Gulf shivers at the sight alone. “Can you bite me? Please?”
Gulf doesn’t specify but he doesn’t need to. There’s only one thing he means and Mew knows it, can feel it. “Are you sure?” Mew comes up to look at Gulf more closely. Gulf nods, “I’ve never been more sure of anything”
Mew settles between Gulf’s thighs, using his forearms for support as he starts at Gulf’s cheek and starts kissing down towards his neck. He noses along the scent gland there and relishes the soft cocoa scent that spills out the longer he does. He rakes his teeth along the skin and bites down. Gulf’s hands twist in the back of his shirt as Mew’s teeth go deeper. The bond falls silent for the first time since that fateful morning Gulf had first noticed it. The water stills as if it’s a picture of an ocean, time frozen. Mew hums and then retracts his teeth, lapping at it to soothe the ache that follows. Gulf gasps at the pain until Mew kisses him again.
He can feel how hard Mew is against his thigh, his own erection just as bad. The kiss is different now, more charged, more urgent as Mew rocks against him. “Still okay?” He asks Gulf, voice low in Gulf’s ear. The younger alpha rocks back into him in response. The bond fades until it only feels like an afterthought instead of the niggling always-there presence it was before. Now there’s just Mew and Gulf. Gulf can feel him, not only the way Mew’s hands sear, coasting across his flesh or the pressure of lips on his own but also the bottomless pit of want and desire inside Mew. Gulf feels the sorrow, anxiety and fear of not having his feelings returned. He feels the all-consuming love and care Mew feels for him, the longing and the joy of it too.
Mew holds him through it all, kisses him soft and slow until Gulf is too spent to do anything other than drift off.
Gulf goes to work Monday morning with a bright smile on his face. His coworkers continue to treat him like before the whole fiasco last week and Gulf manages to finish all his work early. He closes his laptop and heads out of his office, bag slung over his shoulder. Saint is still at his desk typing away with a few other interns. Gulf smiles and bids them all a good evening as he exits. Mew’s waiting for him downstairs, leaning against the door of his car. He smiles big and waves when Gulf pops out of the building. The sky is starting to set and the sky is tinged orange, purple and blue a litany of stars above them.
Mew opens the car door for him, placing a kiss on his cheek once he’s seated.
Gulf can’t help the small laugh that bursts out of him at the action, hands dragging his seatbelt over his chest. Once Mew is seated beside him at the wheel Gulf places his hand on the middle console, palm side up. Mew laces their fingers together as he starts the car.
“Let’s go home,” He says, soft over the radio.