“is this seat empty?”
mew’s froze on the spot, recognizing the voice. oh no.
“sorry, there were no other empty spots left.” the voice said hastily, as if ready to walk away now.
mew finally turned around. “no, there’s no one sitting here.”
his eyes met gulf’s, whose eyes widened as he looked away almost instantly. “o-oh, i think it would be best if i just drank this outside…” gulf muttered staring at the ground.
mew shook his head as he started getting up. “no, it’s fine. you can sit here, i was just about to leave anyways.”
gulf frowned as he looked up, still refusing to meet his eyes. “yeah... let’s not do this. just sit, i’m fine with sitting next to you.”
mew wanted to smile, but it would be a pained one. they were both so stubborn in situations like these, and as always, gulf was not having it.
he wordlessly sat back down, and gulf joined in the seat next to him.
mew couldn’t help but peek at the man next to him through his peripheral vision, how was he so casual about sitting next to him alone after everything? they had been around each other for a couple of months now, but they’d never left any opportunity to interact alone.
“i can feel you staring at me.” gulf said plainly, turning to look at him.
mew blinked, slowly turning to look at him. well, he certainly didn’t expect gulf to actually acknowledge him. but really, this shouldn’t have been unexpected. gulf never beat around the bush.
he wondered how gulf felt in this moment. mew used to be able to read gulf like the back of his hand, but one glance into gulf’s emotionless eyes told him that gulf had all his walls up.
mew clenched his fists in his lap, before blurting “i’m sorry.”
something flickered very briefly in gulf’s eyes. “you’re sorry?” he stared at mew. “three months after we broke up and still working together?”
well, ouch. he wasn’t wrong.
“i’m sorry.” mew repeated, helplessly. “i’ve been thinking of when i could find the… right time to apologize. we’ve never had the chance to be alone at work.”
“you could’ve just asked to talk to me privately.” gulf stated doubtfully.
“would you have even listened to me if i straight up asked?”
“you know,” gulf finally spoke. “i always thought that i would have a lot to say when we finally talked to one another.” he paused and looked at mew for a moment. “but now, all that anger is gone. because i came to a realization that the breakup was something we both brought upon ourselves. it wasn’t just your fault, it was mine too.”
mew looked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “you didn’t do anything. how could you say that it was your fault as well?”
gulf rolled his eyes, “i knew you were blaming yourself all this time. you... never change.” he said the last part quietly, but mew caught it. “i should apologize too.” he said a bit louder this time.
“i’m sorry, i let you carry the burden of the breakup for all these months. you may have been wrong to have kept such a magnanimous secret from me, but it was also my fault for refusing to look past it for the sake of our relationship.” gulf was finally looking at him now, and mew felt like he was going to cry right there and then.
“i don’t regret the breakup though.”
words that felt like knives cut through him, shattering the momentary happiness and relief that mew had felt.
“wh-what?” he asked, his hands shook just a bit. he cursed the way his voice stuttered in the moment.
gulf pursed his lips as he stared out the window. “mew, our relationship may have been amazing for the most part, but we were so dependent on each other. we were so clingy, and we spent almost every waking moment with one another that others wondered if we ever had any time for them. don’t we both have so much more time to spend on ourselves and with the rest of the people that care for us now?”
it hurt. it hurt so much because everything gulf was saying was absolutely right. even mew had noticed this after their breakup.
“i did notice that, but i still…” want to be with you. he didn’t say it. how could he?
a heavy silence passes between them. mew wishes he could see gulf’s face right now, but then he thinks that if he saw gulf emotionless, he would surely cry.
“are you happy?” mew finally asked, trying to steer the conversation away from accidentally shouting how much he wanted gulf back.
gulf gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “we’ve been seeing each other for the past few months at work everyday, what do you think?”
“i don’t know, gulf. we don’t talk to each other unless necessary, so i can’t tell if you’re happy.” mew responded.
“i’m happier now.” gulf said, and it was crazy how easily mew could recognize that as the tone gulf used to lie. but what could mew say to that? did he have any right to call gulf out for lying to him when they meant nothing to one another now?
“how about you? how have you been?”
mew gave a forced smile. “i’ve also been well off. how is grace? I heard she got married.”
“she’s also doing well. she’s going to have a son in a couple months.”
“what about mild and boat?” their friends who mew hadn’t seen since the breakup, because naturally they had taken gulf’s side. not that mew really blamed them.
“they’ve also been doing well.”
mew knew he shouldn’t have asked. mew should’ve known better than opening his mouth. but what can one do against the force of habit? “what about your nightmares? have those gotten a bit better?”
gulf looked like someone had just slapped him. “stop.” he said, his voice cracking and mew felt his world shatter. and as if he a deer caught in headlights from the way his voice sounded, gulf shrunk. “stop.” he said again, his voice surprisingly firm. “don’t ask me things that make me think you still care about me.”
“but i do care about you gulf. i’ve never stopped caring for you for even a moment.” mew whispered. “you, of all people, should know that.”
gulf clenched his fists, blinking rapidly. “suppasit, please don’t.”
he was using his first name. honestly, mew wanted to pat himself on the back for having enough restraint not to have burst into tears. yet.
“and why can’t i? why can’t i care for you?” mew asked.
“because you shouldn’t care about me after what happened. we’re both better off without one another.”
“really? do you really not miss me one bit?” mew asked incredulously.
gulf turned to him, his eyes flashing. “suppasit, even if i miss you, i don’t think either of us are ready to be in a relationship together again.”
“but what do i do, gulf? i still love you.” mew’s voice came out smaller than he had wanted it to.
gulf looked down at their hands that were only a couple centimeters apart. “i don’t know. i don’t know anything, mew.”
mew took his chances, and moved his hand to hold gulf’s. “why? i know that you… still love me.”
the hand in his grasp was yanked away in a flash, and gulf glared at him. “you, of all people, should know why i don’t want to give love another chance.” his voice was filled with so much pain, and mew wished he could take back everything he’d just said.
fuck. he knew. how could he even say something like that to gulf after knowing that the cause for his nightmares had been him being abandoned by his entire family that he had wholeheartedly loved, save for grace?
“kanawut, i’m sorry…” he whispered. there really wasn’t any way out, was there? mew was just making things so much worse for himself, wasn’t he?
to his surprise, gulf sat back down and just resumed his staring out the window. “forget it.” he sighed. “just forget everything. we’ll continue be colleagues as we have been the past few months.”
his tone held an air of finality, and all mew could do was mirror his movement.
they were just colleagues.
tears were now finally streaming down mew’s face.