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Of Certain Things Like Lego Houses

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Act I Part 1

 

Gulf was a simple boy, who favored sleep over worry.

Things were uncontrollable and if you wait long enough, sleep it off long enough, they can become trivial and fleet.

In his simpleness he was constant. He could eat Pad Kra Pao in all its forms, three meals a day, and rarely strayed from the norm of his predilections. 

He followed a routine of university, football practice, though now with the onslaught of modeling gigs and small roles in ads and the occasional T.V. spot that he'd yet to see on screen, his favorite sport had become more akin to a recharging past-time, and if he wasn't too tired, gaming with friends into the wee hours of the night. 

It was predictable and he liked predictability because predictability was safe and stable and simple.

And Gulf was a simple boy.  

 

But to be human is to be born of complexities. 

And no amount of iron he'd laden into his armor of bricks, a life of being an introvert had amassed, could prevent the off-chance of something slipping through. The off-chance of something touching a nerve, despite conditioning it to be numb and unaffected.

Because it was more than just being an introvert.

In the quiet darkness of his bedroom, away from the concern of his sweet and kind Mae, who he was still so attached to. Who still dropped and picked him up from university tho his 20 years and ability to drive on his own said she need not. In the solace of his room, he allowed himself to cry. 

Tears for things he had yet to understand and too scared to.

Whispers in his head that he tries to hush with sleep, but they are loud and cling, stubborn to his consciousness. With hooks and claws, they threaten to rip and tear through to what's hidden beneath and he's frightened.  

It's still unknown but they whisper incessant, bringing new meaning to past moments he'd thought nothing of at the time. Or perhaps self-preservation made him clueless. 

Moments where play kisses among his male friends, left lingering thoughts that he'd quickly push away like curls of smoke because why would the red softness of his classmate's lips make him so curious and warm blushed to want another taste?

He'd always been delicate, with slender fingers and bird-boned wrists, rivaling the tiny circumference of his sister's. Lips, heart-shaped and plump, some of his more blunt relatives would tut away and say what a waste of lips on a boy when it suited more a pretty girl. 

Perhaps he would make a decent girl, the few times he'd indulge his vanity, as he preened in front of the mirror. Followed the sensual arch of his back, down to an ample behind, and a waist so small a phi on the football field had once wondered, breathless from trying to score a goal with the football caught in between Gulf's nimble feet, "God you're tiny...", his large, very masculine hands wrapped around him, engulfing. 

He'd blushed, and laughed it off, grimacing at the giggle he tried to control, ears suddenly hot. Tries to forget how he carries the memory way into the night, ignoring the sudden heat that bubbles in the space below his belly. A space dangerous and aching.

 

His family was open and accepting, his Pho instilling in them to leave out room for discrimination. From them he feared no judgement.

But there was his family and there was the world. 

And the world had already curated for him a box he must fill appropriately the minute his sex was assigned at birth. 

A box further curated with specifics after being scouted by his talent agency. They had a vision of him and he need only trust and follow because they knew what the public and the media wanted. It's a small price to pay, he figures, if it allowed entrance into the massive arena of acting. The bug had bitten hard and early, deep and forever impressed into his very being, for he loved it as much as he loved soccer, loved his Pho and Mae, and on occasion loved P'Grace. 

So he carved muscles into his once slim and willowy frame, grew and embraced his height, and hid away the softness, became a tough sports boy. Rarely smiling, during candid and off days, when not mandated to smile for the camera, preferring to be hard faced on the cusp of a scowl, because his smile was once deemed too pretty.

"Your resting bitch face could cut glass, Kanawut," a classmate had once snickered. He'd rolled his eyes and scowled on.

Because was that not what the world wanted of him? What the world deemed appropriate. And besides his simpleness, he aimed to please.

 

"You need a girlfriend." 

It was a command, under the guise of advice from the higher ups in his agency. P'Best, his handler, and current best-friend for how much time they've come to spend with each other, answered the rise of his left brow with a shrug. There's a flash of something in P'Best eyes, that disappears as quickly as it comes, leaves him wondering if it was a trick of the light or something only meant for him to see. But he's distracted when the higher up continues.

"It's for your image."

He'd eventually meet her during a modeling gig. She's Poom and is all legs, creamy and enticing, with voluptuous curves, beckoning his virgin hands to chart. 

The waggling hungry tongues of the other models there whispered, excited, "She's a Playboy Bunny! Damn, what I would do to---".

But there was a disconnect. He should feel certain things. Should want to share the almost lewd sentiments of his colleagues as they drooled over her.

Should...want her.

Yet nothing. 

Even so, encouraged by the gentle push of P'Best's hand on the small of his back, he follows the choreographed dance instilled into his DNA by society. She smiles and he smiles back, a smile he hopes is strong and confident, asking for her line id and number.

And begins a two year relationship of forced affection and romance, tho it's tame behind closed doors. The affection they share is laughable. It's goes as far as exchanging only lackluster pecks after a sloppy first kiss ends in awkward silence and Gulf excusing himself to flee as quick as he could from the confused yet accusatory gaze of Poom's knowing eyes.

Because their relationship reeks of pre-arranged, contractual agreement. His image is strengthened by his Playboy Bunny girlfriend; he must be something else to have garnered such a catch. Her's gains a sense of domesticity and wholesomeness; she's a Bunny but she's also got morals, to have such a handsome and loving boyfriend.

But he can't help the nagging something that perches incessant at his nape, weighing him down with thoughts that perhaps his agency knew more of the things of Gulf that hid beneath. 

And those things need be stayed hidden.

 

It's all futile, pointless efforts, because 6 months into his relationship with Poom, he stumbles upon an old short film, while doing research for class. It's a heartbreaking story of captured memories and lost love. Both leads wrench emotions from his soul and he's touched; could only wish one day he'd be able to immerse so deeply in a role. 

But the male lead--

The male lead of sparkling brown eyes, that disappear into endearing crescents when he smiles. The male lead of infectious laughter, that makes him almost childlike, a pleasant juxtaposition to his imposing height.

The male lead makes him pause and stutter; he's entranced and breathless.

Mew Suppasit, is his name.

The name lingers on his lips and into his dreams. 

Chapter Text

 

Gulf loses count, the times he's watched Mew's short little film. The spaces of his mind are stockpiled, overflowing with every cataloged nuance he would find from Mew's performance after each viewing.

And there's always something different. 

This is for research, he tells himself. He's my mentor of sorts, he'd reasoned in the beginning.

I want to be like him, is all.

It quickly manifests into months of excuses to cancel late night games with his OSK buddies, using the free time to scour the internet for anything and everything about Mew, tamping down his real intent. 

I want to be like him, is all.

It's a mantra he amplifies. Hopes to drown out the something that lurks, waiting, reminding. He's not ready yet; but it's loud and persists.

He doesn't find as much as he'd like, but there's a good amount. 

An old Youtube channel of Mew's pops up. It's a mixed content of skincare reviews to unboxing toy figurines and other likened collectibles. He's not much into the creams and oils that Mew is so enthusiastic about; had once thought them frivolous and fussy tho he was often given samples from shoots or from Poom, gently pushed to use said products.

But he takes notes, wondering how Mew smells like.

The setting is always the same. Mew is often sitting on a well worn leather couch in what looks to be his condo, and on occasion in front of his bathroom mirror. Always a giddy smile on his lips, eyes twinkling with mirth, generous to sprinkle in charming anecdotes and heartfelt advice that Gulf's hoards away like precious treasure. And there's a pattern, Gulf discovers.

He really likes One Piece.

Gulf files that little tidbit away for safe keeping. 

When he opens up a video of Mew playing guitar, graceful fingers, long and veined, strumming along to a honey smooth voice, Gulf is pleasantly surprised.

He sings... 

But that's an understatement. His vocabulary is minimal and shoddy; the right word to describe the sudden tingling shiver down his spine is out of reach.

When his eyes travel the line of Mew's forearms of umblemished porcelain, to his exposed biceps, he's reminded of the sculpted replica of Michaelangelo's David he'd once seen up close on a class trip at the local museum. Had itched to reach and touch with trembling fingers; the need to feel the coolness of the stone in human form was almost...desperate.

Male perfection captured in marble.

Mew's biceps look strong and capable and conjures explicit images of entangled limbs that leave him gasping, eyes shut tight. He shakes it off too quickly, bites his lip to catch the moan that wants to slip, stilling his hand that wants to reach bellow his belly. It's almost past midnight, and everyone's asleep in rooms far from his own, but he can't chance the risk.

He discovers Mew is 27 to his 20, seven whole years in between them. The little bit of trivia is suddenly hard to register; the whispers he's come to expect are intelligible but he catches a phrase that makes him grit his teeth.

You've got a kink, boy. 

He's had many phis through out the years; family, classmates, friends, but this holds different. Not that Mew could or would ever be his phi.

His phi...

Mew is taking his masters at Chula and for a brief moment Gulf is wistful with regret. If only his grades had been up to par. To be university mates with Mew. The chance of walking the halls and bumping into the older man, or even sharing the same class, where Gulf would most probably sit from afar. He'd choose the seat way in the back of the class and watch Mew;  probably like a creeper.

It makes him pout at the unfairness of it all.

But Bangkok isn't that big, and they were both in the same industry...

He laughs it off, bashful at the fantasy.

Enough, he thinks, closing his laptop with a firm hand.

Reiterates, I want to be like him, is all.

But he's restless, a rarity as sleep evades. Only does he drift off, after putting on Mew's crooning voice through his earphones. 

It's a lullaby that brings dreams of shining, smiley eyes and warm encompassing arms.

The next day one dream goes forgotten. A faceless figure stands in the distance, with the familiar lilt of Poom's voice saying,

"And what about me?"

 

The trajectory of his career takes an unexpected turn. The path he was blindly following, trusting implicitly those in charge of his life, because "Nong, we know better. Trust and we'll take you far.", is no longer navigable. 

Things have become stagnant and opportunities were coming up scarce.

P'Best takes him aside one day, luring him with a plate of steamy rice and Crispy Pork Kra Pao. 

It's quiet at first, his mouth busy with each heaping spoon of rice and juicy pork, P'Best engrossed with something on his phone. But he grows impatient when after his last bite, P'Best is yet to say anything.

A scowl forms and he's about past being polite when P'Best starts.

"I'm thinking of branching out, going independent." It's with no preamble but his eyes are gentle on Gulf, as one would look to calm a skittish animal.

 A panic was settling in. P'Best was leaving?!

"I'm thinking of branching out, and I'm taking you with me." 

"Taking me with you...what--?" Gulf is confused and a little scared, but the air is suddenly cool with promise. It crackles, staticky and excites. A promise of good things to come. 

"Your contract is about to end soon, and I know you've had conversations of renewing but let's be honest...it's almost 2 years since they've recruited you and barely any of their plans have come to pass."

He nods, agreeing, attention at full mast, eager to hear what P'Best was scheming.

"I've got some ideas. Ideas that can definitely accelerate your career. Had them for a while, actually, but every time I'd bring it to the table at meetings, it was always a no. Since the get, they've had this concrete vision for you. I think they're scared my suggestions would pigeonhole you, but following their way is doing exactly that."

Gulf's eagerness was starting to wane. P'Best was being too vague..too roundabout--

"Once we cut ties with them I want you to think about auditioning for BL roles."

"BL roles..."

He loses his words as he begins to curl in on himself. That would mean--

"Of course only if you want," P'Best rushes to assure, hand raised with palms open, an offering to soothe, "but I really think you should try."

His panic returns, tho the reason differs.

"I'm not sure I'd be any good. Besides, don't you have to be.." It's left unsaid but it saturates the air a little too thickly that he thinks P'Best might have winced.

There's a pause and he busies himself with the edge of the table cloth brushing his thigh, notices his hands are starting to shake.

"You really don't," P'Best counters, his tone delicate.

Of course not! 

He knew this. A role was a role and a good actor should be able to take on any and commit wholeheartedly. The ability to transform was what attracted him in the first place. But he wasn't thinking. Fear was turning everything backwards.

"I'll be blunt and say BL stars are hot commodity. There's precedent of success with actors that start out in BL projects. Some are part of the LGBT community and some not. So there's the partial reason I'd want you to try. But it's more than that. I've come to know you well Gulf, come to know your family. You're from good stock and I feel you'd treat such a role with respect and care. Treat it with an honesty it deserves. There's an infection in the industry. An infection of hypocrisy and exploitation and I think...I thing we could change things. There's also this beautiful duality about you, Nong. A great potential we've yet to tap into. And you've got raw talent. I think it would be a shame and a waste if you never tried."

"And your smile," P'Best continues.

"Too damn pretty." He spits out, as if his tongue is scalded.

"No. It has this warmth, a goodness. I've seen how eager others have answered it with a smile of their own. I want you to smile more."

The shakes have seized but there is still an unease gripping onto his bones. He can only nod, head down, mind heavy and too cluttered. 

"And things with Poom? After the contract ends I think you can--"

But he interrupts, hackles raised. 

"She cares for me and I care for her. Isn't that important?"

But who is he really trying to convince?

P'Best sighs and relents," Alright, but for someone who can relate about...certain things," he shoots Gulf with a look; it's pointed but empathetic," all I'm saying is...I'm here if you want to talk."

Gulf does not want to cut into these "certain things" P'Best speaks of, but he knows he won't have to push the blade in too deep to find answers.

He's grateful when P'Best diverts the conversation. Starts to drone on about logistics and paperwork and next weeks schedule and he's already halfway into turning a deaf ear. 

P'Best later leaves with a "Think about things, Nong. We'll talk again later," which he answers with a Wai.

Oh, he'll think about things alright and it's another night that grows restless.

Another night where he forgets or really, decides against checking in on Poom and bidding her good sleep. They'd barely talked or seen each other for weeks as it was, tho the latter seemed not to care as well.

Only does he finally fall when a certain dark-haired, fair faced man enters his thoughts. 

 

He's swayed into persuasion after a week passes, but actions aren't taken until much later.

It's another late night of perusing the web for anything P'Mew, ignoring the irritated texts of his friends to game.

"Poom must be really giving it good, huh Kanawut? So much for bros before--"

He shuts off the call with an angry finger. Should have never answered it to begin with, but the guilt was becoming tenacious.

Not that they'd ever understand. 

They wouldn't.

Gulf returns to his laptop and resumes his search, eager to find something to switch his mind when he stumbles upon a teaser trailer for Mew's upcoming series.

Mew is not the lead character but he's still so captivating. It's titled What the Duck and it's a BL series.

A BL...huh.

He's startled at the revelation; but is it really a revelation? You don't have to be anything for a role, he reminds himself.

When a scene of Mew passionately kissing his male love interest flashes by his mind slugs to a halt, the air suffocates and what does it mean again to breathe?

The movement of Mew's lips, languid and sensual, leaving his partner looking absolutely wrecked, elicits a wanton desire from the very pit of Gulf's thrumming core. 

A desire to be the one being kissed. To be touched. To be the one writhing under Mew.

No!

Stop this!

Enough!

I want to be like him, is all.

But he does not stop.

And the next night he watches the trailer again. Watches it again until it's branded into every nerve and synapse of his retina. Watches until his laptop lays precariously at the edge of his bed forgotten, his hands following an ungodly rhythm, staccatoed and frantic, at the apex of his splayed naked thighs, boxers long strewn across the room. He milks his swollen cock, mewling, dirty and hot, at how good it feels, pleading at someone who would never hear him. Knows it would feel even better if his hands were replaced by a much larger pair. 

He cums, with an explosion that leaves a trail of lightening and stars behind his closed eyes, a splatter of cream painting his bare belly and the edges of his rumpled t-shirt; mouth ripped open from a silent scream that seems endless.

And then the shame, as everything settles. The shame he does not want to feel but is digging it's jagged teeth into sensitive bit beneath his ribs. The shame that pulls sobs deep from his chest. The shame that he wills, resolutely, to turn into acceptance, wet cheeks pressed into his pillow because...

I want him.

 

When he watches a video blog, a promo project for the series, of Mew and his love interest in domestic bliss, all cuddly like puppies while they cook dinner together as they answered questions from fans, his lust turns into jealousy.

Jealousy that seethes and is angry red. It boils and threatens to sear welts into anyone who dare come close. 

They look good together, too good.

He learns they have friendship and history long before the series. No wonder there is an easy familiarity and comfort between them. 

They're probably just hamming it up for the camera. It's to garner viewers for the show.

But his argument is weak; his hands balled into tight fists, white knuckled as he watches Mew lean into an embrace that leaves Mew giggly and the other gazing back with adoration.

Gulf swallows the bile suddenly thick in his throat and something deep within him hisses--

He's mine! 

He follows with a fervor that borders on obsession each new episode that airs every week. Raises his middle finger at the knowing smirk P'Grace throws after catching him silently crying during an emotional scene that Mew delivers so beautifully.

And as the season ends to rave reviews, the climax culminates into something ugly and wicked.

He's blindsided by the news. 

Some are respectful and professional in their portrayal of the story.

Misunderstanding between friends. Broken hearts. Unrequited love.

Others have no empathy; heartless and savage. Money and selling big the top news, their only concern.

Sexually Harrassed! Against his will! Rapist! Monster!

His anger sees no bounds, his whole being wired and electric. He wants to burn every news outlet down to the ground.

Lies!

He knows his Mew!

He would never...could never. 

He weeps for him...wants to go to war for him. Will fight tooth and nail the true monster who dare assassinate the character of the man he--

He'd fight with gnashing teeth until there would be nothing left, not even bones for the birds to pick. But he can do no such thing, the most is to send anonymous messages of hope and support to Mew's social media accounts. As he scrolls through the feed, his heart breaks at how frighteningly quick Mew's number of fans have dwindled.

He feels helpless and pathetic, praying the older man sees his encouragement and continues to surge on. 

People are still with you, P'Mew. We are few but we are still with you.

I'm still with you.

 

He's surprised when not a few weeks later, when the dust had barely settled, a joint interview of P'Mew and the other man is aired. A means to fix the chaos and calamity, he presumes. The show had just finished after all and award season was just about to begin.

They are chummy and the segment is light and filled with laughter, but there's an emptiness that echos hollow and Gulf sees the void that peeks from Mew's eyes.

Sees the instances where Mew forgets and becomes too candid in the silence and inbetweens where he gazes at the other with a hurt Gulf feels sharp and cutting. 

He must have really...loved him.

I wish I was him. 

When he catches the other reciprocate, his heart breaks even more.

He understands, tho he does not want to. He understands that politics and corrupt machinations of the industry resulted in puppets. Puppets who ended up hurting those around them and themselves.

Before the week ends he's made his decision, and meets with P'Best at a corner cafe near campus after school, finding an empty table outside away from the bustle and noise.

"What made you decide?" 

"Change is always good."

He says this eyes locked on the strips of napkin he'd ripped with his fidgety hands, letting a few float away, like alms to the wind.

"And Poom?"

"This doesn't concern her...and we're perfectly happy."

Change was good but baby steps was also good.

P'Best leaves it at that, his eyes look to want to say something of importance but he leaves it at that.

The next day he's scheduled for his first BL series audition. 

 

It goes well as it could, the the production team along with the writer seemingly pleased with his performance.

He'd arrived nervous and timid but he schools himself.

Reminds himself the kissing, if they were to even try a kissing scene for the chemistry test, would be simulated and not real. He'd barely dipped his toes into this new world, he feared he wasn't as ready yet to do something so bold.

But it goes well, and his chemistry test with his love interest results in a surprising smattering of applause from the audition panel.

P'Best is confident he got the part, and he does.

But fate and destiny or the stars and moon are funny things.

The funding for the show falls apart and a new production team is hired leading to an overhaul of everything else including a re-auditioning for the cast. 

He never gets a call back.

"It's for the best. The important thing is you have experience now, so the next won't be so garishly new and scary. And getting the role on your first big audition? That's a moral boost! So good on you, Nong! It can only go up from here." 

The toothy grin that pops from his mouth is hard to hide as P'Best prattles on excited.

 

But it's quiet after that, a months long of nothing.

Quiet from work and quiet from P'Mew. 

He'd been diligent in keeping tabs with the elder's social media movements and after the scandal and even when it started to lose steam, Mew still stayed away and kept silent.

There were talks of Mew focusing more on his education, with a year left before he'd graduate with his masters. And with the current climate of his celebrity, the time was right to steer away the focus onto other things.

He feared Mew was thinking of leaving the industry completely. Besides certain selfish reasons he'd want Mew to stay, he did not want such talent to go to waste.

So he makes merit at temple for the next couple weekends. Takes care to pray and pray and pray.

Let P'Mew reach his dreams. 

 

An ear must have listened because soon P'Best is donning a rare smile that's too big for his face, Gulf fears his cheeks will burst.

"Oh this is big, Nong! The story has a big following and very much loved. Your going in for the lead again, the character is actually perfect for you, and there some chatter about some big shots auditioning as well. A Mew Suppasit?" 

Destiny huh, fate and moon and stars?...Funny things.

 

The day of the audition brings an energy that threatens to topple his tall, slightly gangly frame off it's feet. He still carried some bulk, from his past weight training, but certain parts of his anatomy refused to transform and stayed delicate and small, like his forearms to his wrists and his wiry ankles. 

He felt like a deer on stilts and he hated it.

Was it because--

So he puts back on his steel mask, turns his head from P'Best's frown at the scowl now back on his face.

Old habits die hard and right about now he needed something familiar and steady like hunching over and burying his head into his cell screen because he was on the edge of screaming or doing something equally stupid.

The waiting is excruciating, there are about more than a hundred entrants going in to audition and the process is long and tedious, his number nearing the end.

After the third hour in, Gulf hears peals of excited laughter and chatter from a group of girls near the entrance. How he's missed them with their large placards and equally large intimidating cameras is beyond him but then he sees them part all dramatic, letting in and trailing like obedient puppies a lone figure, tall and with an air of confident swagger pass through. 

He's wearing a flowly, oversized crisp white shirt, halfway tucked into ripped jeans and his hair has been dyed an unusual color that's not quite grey or gold. But Gulf would know him even if he was surrounded by a large crowd.

Mew

His steel mask now feels light. It's missing it's secure and dependable heft, it's hinges at his jaw rusting. The expanse of it that cover everything of him is now chipped and crumbling.

His scowl is still in its place but he feels it shaking, wavering. Feels his mouth slack from it's rigid hold. 

And if he peers down at the darkened screen of his phone clutched tight in his hands he knows he looks smitten, eyes round in wonderment.

How can someone look so...it's almost unbearable how..

He's even more beautiful in person.

Mew must have felt his stare because for a split second he looks back, curious. The elder offers a shy but amused grin, when it seemed Gulf won't look away, but is yet to show any form of geniality. He's frozen, and it's stone not ice.

Mew shrugs with a quirk of his raised brow and ambles on into one of the rehearsal rooms.

Gulf all but bangs his head on the table he's sat near. P'Best is kind enough to stay mum but Gulf swears he hears a muttered "Interesting".

Fuck.

 

When he's finally called in to audition, he's had time to recuperate. Had time to remember why he's here and what's important. He'd come to love Type from the little reading he'd done on him before hand. There was a lot about the character that he found himself relating deeply with, that he feels a certain possessiveness. A possessiveness he tries to channel into doing his performance well because now he couldn't fathom a reality where he wasn't offered the role.

The panel is welcoming and patient and the writer, P'Mame, appears more to be like a doting older sister, a phi he could comfortably talk to if they were to work together. He's surprised at just how young she really is.

The atmosphere stays warm and comfortable, and it helps after he's told to perform the scene he's assigned close to hundred times over after he's given the go signal that he's in for consideration and needs to have several chemistry tests with the other potential Tharns. 

He has no time to celebrate or fully digest the good news after he's whisked into another room and tested with a dozen Tharns. There's chemistry and he connects with each one, albeit differently but something remains missing during each test. 

He feels...nothing.

Panic starts to set in when he senses frustration from the panel. If he feels the lack of passion then surely, this group of seasoned producers and casting directors would know something was off from the get, and he's afraid his grip on Type was slipping.

But then Mew walks in.

Mew walks in and the world again stutters to a stop.

And the series of events that follow blur together into a string of staggered images he would not know the beginning or the end to but all he can remember is Mew's gaze.

Mew's gaze, so intense, leaving him unraveled, bared naked and vulnerable.

The fear of collapse is imminent and the only thing keeping him up is the hold of Mew's long fingers gently grasping his nape and the underside of his jaw, as he places a book between their lips.

It leaves him burning, scorched and fevered. 

Addicted.

And God how he wants to feel it again.  

 

 

Gulf is a simple boy. And in his simpleness he is consistent.

He is consistent in his want for one thing. 

Because P'Mew is now threaded and intertwined into everything in him that thrums with life.

 

Before he leaves, P'Mame asks him who is his Tharn?

"P'Mew is my Tharn, krub."

He answers this with no hesitation. It'll always be P'Mew, a thousand times over.

A week later he's offered the role.

His Type to Mew's Tharn.

And for the first time in so long, he truly breathes.

Chapter Text

Act 2 Part 1

 

The euphoric high of getting the role does not last.

It's a harsh drop to a reality that's sharp edged and barbed.

The torch he holds for Mew is starting to burn his fingers ugly, and they've yet to even start team workshops. Blackened, they are sooted with ash, leaving dark marks on Poom.

Stop the charade, it's no longer necessary.

It's a forked tongue, the voice in his head, but it tells the truth.

Yet he's still weak. Still afraid.

It's only admiration! He's my senior who can help me with my career.

Say that again the next time you cum, screaming his name.

He'd rushed home after hearing the good news, thoughts floating haphazardly, drunk on a haze of want that has him scrambling with the drawstring on his sweatpants, as he barely shuts and locks his bedroom door. It's a pathetic two minutes before he'd cum, breath ragged and spent, eyes rolled back so far it had risk of being permanent. But his head is stuck on other things. Like how it'd felt for Mew's hands on him. Long fingers almost completely around his neck. The thought of one gentle squeeze against the tip of his adam's apple has his knees buckling. God, he could go again.

He almost does.

You kinky, bastard.

Cranking up the sound of some rap song he's forgotten he has on, he texts Poom in retaliation; a sweet goodnight message, promising to see her the second he has a day off.

He does not wait for her reply.

Because you could care less.

Denial is his bedfellow that night. He tucks into it, gripping tight with both arms, grappling for sleep to come against the itch to change the thumping bass to his temple into something less grating. Something that oozed of syrup and molasses.

His sleep is fitful and he wakes tired and irritated the next day, P'Best getting the brunt of it as he's driven to location for the first day of workshops.

It was going to be... a long week.

 

He's one of the first to arrive, sends a polite but reserved Wai to P'Mame who sits in the corner with her team, sending him back a warm, welcoming smile that does little to ease his nerves. There's a table of sweets; boxes of donuts and a mini cake with candles, and he wonders if a birthday was to be celebrated, but opts to situate himself into another corner of the mini conference-hall like room, almost molding into the wall against his back. He's regressing into old habits when he should go and perhaps conversate. Familiarize himself with P'Mame and what looks to be the director, but he's sleep-deprived and no one else has arrived yet and he needs what little time he has left to..gather himself.

"Susu, Nong. And remember, smile, be friendly, and breath! You've got the part; now, just show them why you deserve it." P'Best had left him with encouraging words, tho the last part was a little disconcerting and pressured, but he'd do that all later, he whines to no one, as he hunches over and plays a quick game on his phone.

And when the other cast members start trickling in he continues his game, head stubbornly pointed down as the scratch of anxiety, pricks it's clawed tips into the back of his neck.

God, he hated socializing.

Hated small talk and all the other steps to such a superficial dance. 

He finally looks up when he sense a presence crouching down to sit next to him. Fighting down the urge to disappear, he readies to acknowledge but the person stays quiet, only smiles in greeting and takes out their own phone.

Gulf sighs in relief.

He is unfamiliar with his companion, he later learns is named Hiter, but is thankful, his bones no longer as tensed and vibrating.

Guess I'm not the only one. 

A ping on his cell sends a quiet notification of a message from Poom. She'd finally answered his text from last night.

I'll see how my schedule plays out this week. Everything changes last min these days.

It's cold and distant and informal and illicits nothing from him. 

You're relieved because you don't care either.

Gulf's waging thoughts are cut off when a wave of excited greetings sweeps over most of the group clustered near the dessert table. He looks up and almost chokes on the gust of air he gasps in, surprised. 

It's deja vu..repeated imagery from moments still etched into the stones that fashioned his memory. This insanely beautiful creature waltzing in again into his sphere. And since when was he waxing poetry like the simpering fools on the Lakorn's his sister secretly binged on.

Mew is dressed simply, in navy leisure pants and the black TharnType Tshirts issued to all the actors with their names printed on the back, yet he still looked...

"Expensive", his cheeky baby cousin would say, leeching it off from her addiction to Western shows on Netflix.

Mew's hair is dyed back to his dark black hue and Gulf finds he prefers him like this, wants to run his fingers in the softness of it.

A warmth rushes over him seeing how loved Mew seemed to be, the group practically swarming him like excited bees to a sweet blooming flower.

See, these people work in the industry, should know it's secrets and they too don't see him as a monster. 

One particular man, more boy in his silly and almost exaggerated mannerisms, clings especially close to Mew, chattering excitedly and struggling to hang on to Mew's tall frame, with one arm over a bent shoulder. They seem to know each other with how much more familiar Mew is acting towards the shorter man and how genuine his laughs sound. Gulf's instinct is to get jealous, but he does not. For reasons he's yet to understand he..trusts the boy.

Gulf remembers passing him during auditions and said boy had grinned at him, all toothy with a wink. 

He'd been...charmed. 

When Mew raises his head, finally appraising the room, searching it seems, Gulf's fingers tense against the coolness of his forgotten cell in his hands.Tenses as his breath grows shallow, following the movement of Mew's searching eyes until they meet his and everything becomes white noise. 

The gentle smile Mew gifts him from across the room he drinks in, parched. 

 

The workshop begins shortly after Mame extends a quick welcome speech. He only barely stumbles through his name, palms hot and wet against the side of his joggers-clad thigh, the group murmuring back their acceptance of him.

It's awkward and he dare not look at Mew, but he soldiers on.

They are divided into groups of two, which he assumes are with their predominant scene partners, the exception being Mild, the shorter man he'd seen with Mew earlier, and Kaownah, a sweet-faced, tousled-haired boy with a dangling cross earring and an adorable lisp. He'd have as many scenes with Mild as he would with Mew and the latter would be Mew's other scene partner, but this portion of the workshop was a type of 20 questions game, an ice breaker of sorts and his partnership with Mew obviously played precedent over his partnership with Mild. So Mild is teamed with Koawnah and he's now sat in front of Mew staring daggers into the chipped linoleum floor feeling heady with the older's man presence and scent---

God he smells so good. Saddle wood? 

Mew is too close, knees touching knees, and his skin crawls with the need to run or bury himself into the cocoon of his mother's arms who is so far away back at home.

He almost hurdles over rhyme or reason and shuffles up to make a dash out the door when softness of long fingers lifts his chin up, and he hears the light humming of "Getting to Know You".  He will faint, it's a sureness now as his vision gets spotty but the sparkling eyes peering at him with crinkles at the corners from the smile on elder's lips somehow lulls.

"Can I hold your hands?"

The request is tender but timid. He spots a cautious flicker through Mew's eyes, as if Mew fears he will run. Yes he just might, but not for reasons he knows must be worrying in Mew's head.

Yes, yes, yes. Anything you ask....yes!

It's a haste in which he wipes his damp hands before placing them into Mew's proffered own. A haste to ease Mew's troubled thoughts. 

I'm not scared of you. I don't see you how the others do.

Gulf speaks this through the firm grip he holds onto Mew, through the subtle squeeze he offers with a small smile.

 

Mew likes the color blue, and prefers sweetness of confections over the savory saltiness of a good pad kra pao. He has a bottomless pit for ice cream, yet will also crave for sushi any time of the day.

He loves the sea, loves it so much he's dove into its depths too much times to count, having gotten himself a diving license. 

"It's beautiful, Nong. Dark and outwordly. Like being in space. You know I've always wanted to be an astronaut?"

Gulf hoards again, these details. And he'll hoard until he's full to bursting. Until they seep out of his ears, and still he'd hoard.

Because it'll never be enough.

They said never meet your heroes, but Mew is everything Gulf thought he'd be and more.

He's yet to even tap the surface of really knowing Mew, only having ever "known" him from tidbits he shared on his social media outlets and everything else Gulf had happen to uncover about Mew in his months of curiosity turned into infatuation, but somehow through this second meeting, his gut insists, Mew is a truly good and kind man.

To his delight, Mew seems to be keen on hearing him talk; whether it'd be about everything and anything. Eyes glittering as Gulf's tongue loosens and his voice no longer quivers, occasional laughter at each anecdote Gulf subtly spins a little more absurdly just to hear more of that giggle he'd only ever heard through the speakers of his earbuds.

He doesn't want it to stop, his hands all too happy to be in Mew's hold, tries not to focus on the largeness of them covering the smallness of his own. But the air suddenly shifts when the topic skids into wounds still yet to clot.

One of the prompts they have to cover is past loves. 

They thread around the subject, fear now back and glaringly present in Mew's eyes and for the first time he's barely looking back, more keen on keeping his focus on the abstract painting behind Gulf's head. It's by some obscure artist of hands reaching towards each other yet not quite ever touching. There is yearning in the strain of the delicate veins and muscle that lined the outstretched hands and Gulf had been mesmerized.

The shame, laced in Mew's eyes, brings him back and Gulf hates the bitter taste it leaves on his tongue. Acrid, it stings, and thinks even bleach won't strip him of it's remnants.

He wants to lash out to the one person who's done this. Lash out with a spiked whip that can gauge and maim the person who's smothered the light from Mew's eyes.

"It's not important Phi," he clears his throat and proceeds to talk about his one sided puppy love with his next door neighbor at 10 who'd only stomped at the flowers he'd offered and kicked him in the shin when he tried to kiss her. 

Mew laughs again and Gulf could fly.

The truth about Poom is never breached.

When the day ends, Mame gathers the group around the small table of sweets and lights the candles on the cake at the center of the table. 

"Before we head home, let's wish our two February babies a Happy Birthday!" She gestures for Mew and another boy, Gulf has already forgotten the name off, to step forward. 

Of course, his birthday is in three weeks. 

He chastises himself for forgetting.

You are whipped, my boy.

He bites his tongue at the claim and focuses on miming his lips to sing along with the group, the birthday song for the two celebrants. Silently, he sends a prayer to whomever would care to listen. The same prayer he's uttered at the heavens for a while now.

Let P'Mew reach his dreams.

This time however he makes amends.

Let P'Mew be happy.

 

They both have their first interview for the series three days after the introductory workshop.

And for once he's actually excited.

Terror was still ever present, licking into him with icy coldness, but this interview was a precursor to everything else that could and would follow. It made everything so much more real.

He was really going be a bona-fide actor in a real live series.

Gulf leaves his Mae and Phor extra warm and loud sniff kisses as he exists the house into P'Bests car, and they follow him with soft laughter, sending him off with a heartened "SuSu, Luk Chai!"

The filming location is a fancy hotel in the center of Bangkok's business district and Mew is early and waiting by the lobby. His manager, P'Boss, chatters away on his phone while the younger stood calm and collected and sauve as hell by the wayside, Rayban shades still perched coolly over his eyes, arms clad in a light denim jacket, folded loosely in front of his chest.

Gulf's heart flits and flutters and somersaults up into his throat. 

He's shy again, as if they've never spoken. As if the 2 hour long spilling of everything and anything, never happened. As if he'd never felt, for the briefest of moments, like Mew's battered and chipped heart was in his hands and he'd almost helped put it back together again.

He's shy again and does not meet Mew's silent greeting as shades are taken off, choosing to shuffle over to the stiff leather couches near the entrance of the hotel. Ignores the slighted look that crosses Mew's face. 

He's shy again because it's once again overwhelming and too much and the strings holding everything together is now stretched taut and will snap and the approaching interview was no longer holding such appeal.

But the Mew of this morning was determined, it seemed, because Gulf feels the weight of him sinking into the leathered open space next to his left thigh.

A beat passes, as Mew fiddles with his phone, twirling it around between his middle finger and thumb and Gulf has to look away before unsavory thoughts lead to embarrassing outcomes. But it's not for long because Mew taps him on his forearm, resting rigidly on top his lap as Mew directs Gulf to look at his cell screen.

"I forgot to ask you at workshop the other day. Your line ID, I mean. Can I have it? If that's cool." 

He's mechanical in reaching for his phone behind his jean pocket, tries to still his trembling slipping fingers, as he opens his phone and retrieves his line ID number. 

"Thanks Nong," the older flashes a beaming smile that blinds and Gulf can only squint and nod, dumbed-down to no words,'' We can set up some time at nights we're both free? To got over the script or whatever? Think that's a good idea?"

He nods again and tries to attempt at sputtering something coherent but is saved as P'Best calls for him along with P'Boss calling for Mew to head on up the elevator. 

"Steady..." he hears P'Best mutter under his breath by his ear, and he wants to melt into the carpeted elevator floor.

When the interview starts he slips on his actor's mask.

With this mask he is brave, fearless, and strong. He laughs, tho he hears it grate with how fake it sounds, smiles till his cheeks are hurting raw, and answers honestly without thought but with truth in his heart.

"What was your first impression of Mew, Nong Gulf?"

"He will protect me," it slips out without hesitation.

Gulf says this with a loudness that clamors proud, reaching out, deep from his soul. And the smile, surprised but pleased, small but bright, on Mew's face leaves his insides warm and incandescent.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The period that follows after get...interesting.

There's other word's Gulf is sure would better suit but his head was in a perpetual fog of wanton lust that the normal construct of having coherent thoughts fail him.

He's never been too good with words, preferring to be a wallflower than the gregarious main attraction. But with recent developments he's yet to wrap his poor head around; developments he'd think about late into the night manifesting into fevered dreams, that inability has increased tenfold.

Oh, stop being coy...this is what you've wanted from the get.

He was also becoming certifiably insane.

Maybe it was time to a name the irritating voice in his head that just would not go away. It was honest, but still so irritating.

You shall be Goob.

A maniacal cackle almost snaps out, but he remembers P'Best is in the driver's seat to his right and it was too early in the morning to answer questions or scare his poor manager.

So he wraps himself deeper into his blue and white checkered, travel blanket, his security net that smelled of home. Escapes into the quiet of sleep for the little time they had left before arriving at the workshop studios. And ignores mulling over what could possibly happen that day.

 

Intimacy building exercises, P'Mame had called this portion of the workshop. A way to cultivate the chemistry between all the actors into becoming more elevated and cemented into something organic and unpretentious on screen.

More like, how not to get a hard-on while the person your crushing on practically manhandles you in the most gentle but carnal of ways. 

NC scenes were a given. The little he'd read from P'Mame's novel, aside from his research on Type, revealed P'Mame's writing was wrought with moments that made even the most salacious porn he'd watched seemed tame in comparison. 

Yes, he was a consummate professional, that knew this was just part of the job, and once the mask was on all inhibitions, everything that was Gulf Kanawut, disappeared and the character took over. But still... 

Yes, he thrived on this challenge, wanting to prove to anyone and everyone who had reservations because of his novice, that they were right in giving him the role. But still...

He'd been relieved to know that they would tame down the extent of such risque scenes to be taken from the novel in order to fit the constraints of late night television. Relieved the extent, from what he'd been told from a rough oral sketch of the script that the worst would be simulated or mimed actions of the sexual nature. But still...

But still...because Mew, fucking, Suppasit.

After the almost debacle of their first interview because his infatuation refused to stand down, Mew seemed resolute on doing outside homework from the workshops. Before they went their separate ways after the interview, Mew had once again brought up video chatting. Perhaps going over the book together since Gulf had mentioned he'd yet to read through the novel. 

"I want to get to know you more. Be friends?" It'd been delivered with Mew's usual cheery smile, adorable twin indentations on the apples of his cheeks appearing, as his eyes once again disappeared.

And really at this point, "no" was a word Gulf lost the meaning of when it came to the elder. 

Whipped!

So fucking what.

 

Their first video chat happens when Gulf least expects.

The night after the interview, he'd thought for sure Mew would call. Had kept the shoot makeup on, despite how his skin screamed to be scrubbed clean from the day old foundation that now felt caked and heavy. Deliberated for almost an hour whether he should keep the outfit he'd worn or changing into his sleep clothes so to appear nonchalant, as if he wasn't wringing himself raw with anticipation. 

But he waits and waits, because it was against his very nature to even attempt at calling first. Waits until the garish light of his lit cell screen tells him its past one in the morning and no such call would come.

Disappointment was like a stunning slap and he sleeps, smarting from the sting. 

Not two days later, he was in the throes of a very heated game with some uni friends, the summer season of Bangkok sweltering and unforgiving causing him to chuck off his cotton vest, leaving only his boxers. Caught in the game he almost misses the incoming video call, ringing persistently from his bedside table. 

Gulf ignores, his avatar closing in on his final kill, but a chance glance over, he spots the name of the caller. 

The speed at which he hurtles himself towards his phone is inhuman, almost breaking his neck from the whiplash of his actions. 

As he presses the OK button, its a gift there is no time for anxious fear to occupy his space. No time to remember he's half naked, with a sheen of sweat across his upper lip, hair in a humid, poofed halo and eyes open wide in doe-like excitement. 

The screen crackles for a second and clears. Mew's dark-framed, eye-glasses clad face appearing, bright with a grin.

God, he looks good.

"Phi!" The greeting barely staggers out of his trembling lips and he digs his fingers into his bare thigh composing himself.

The grin grows wider, nose all scrunched so cutely, Gulf chest warms, endeared.

"Nong! Hope I didn't catch you at the wrong time? I can call later."

"No, no! I'm fine! Totally free, krub!" He wheezes out, knows he must sound too loud, too enthusiastic.

"Are you about to..um shower..?" The question tapers off as Mew's glance follows the line of his neck to his naked chest. Gulf jumps slight at remembering he has no shirt on but the hint of blush patches on Mew's cheeks halts him from covering up.

Gulf nearly preens at the detail.  

Oh...perhaps-- 

"Like I said, If it's a bad time I can call later or even another night. Next workshop isn't until next week anyway, " Mew rushes out and he looks ready to end the call but Gulf won't have any of it.

"No, Phi, swear it's ok! It's just so hot tonight and the ventilation in my room is usually shot. Besides I sleep without a shirt."

"Oh...right..." Mew nods but does not continue and conveniently Gulf's tongue decides to go heavy and numb.

Gulf wants to scowl at how quick the air grows awkward, his damn constant companion. Thinks maybe ending the call was a good idea, worrying about saving face later. But Mew clears his throat and brings up into view his copy of Mame's novel.

"Shall we start on couple chapters?"

 

P'Mame has literary talent, it's clear and he will give due praise. The text is rich with enough descriptive prose for him to sift through to better hone his hold on what it meant to be Type. He's enraptured with the syrup of Mew's deep timbre as his phi leads them through the first few chapters, sending slight tingles to his curled toes while he settles back into the pillows against his headboard, pretending there is no screen or distance between them.

He'd insisted on Mew reading, his tongue still stuck on being useless.

"I'll just trip over the words, Phi." 

Mew gives him a look, but it's not unkind. It's a look that goes without saying, "Stop putting yourself down so much, Nong".

His heart grows warm again and it's become an instinctual reaction. Something he'd have to resignedly accept.

The chapters starts innocently enough. Type has a penchant for colorful words and has a rough exterior that refuses to budge. Tharn is sweet with a patience that is as unflinching as it is his downfall. And the other players are introduced, briefly touching on hints of their own backstories. The overall flavor is smart and comedic, both sharing amused laughter throughout until a shift comes without warning.

The turn is abrupt and he's unprepared as he watches Mew utter the word "cock", proceeding with a sordid description of Tharn wrapping his lips around Type's swollen member as the other is brought closer and closer...

Gulf's cheeks are smattered scarlet and he's burning. The hold on his cell grows weak, as his own cock, twitching to every lewd word from Mew's lips, grows hard.

Mew's reading wanes until its stops and Gulf prays it's not because his breath, now wet pants, has gotten too loud, biting down to restrain the moan that wants to beckon to the other across the screen. 

"I think that should be good for the night..."

Mew mutters and mumbles and Gulf looks up to see Mew is equally red. All sheepish, he peers back at Gulf from beneath his fringe that's toppled over top of his glasses. Gulf is surprised but refreshed that Mew shares his discomfort. 

Guess it doesn't matter how much experience you've had playing such roles..

He blushes even darker, remembering certain scenes he's watched Mew in from What the Duck.

Scene's he'd...

Gulf nods quick, shutting his own TharnType copy and practically flings it across the room.

"Til next time Nong, tonight was good. Sweet dreams," Mew bids him goodnight, waving a little until the screen goes dark. 

Gulf is still hard and throbbing, but he focuses on the smile that's now plastered, goofy on his face. Laying back into the soft cotton of his bed, he sighs.

Yes...tonight was good.

 

It turns into a routine, after Mew calls him again around the same time the next night. They forego reading the novel, Mew suggesting a couple rounds of ROV instead. Mew is skilled but their opponents are savages and Gulf might have gotten a little too immersed and short as the games progressed. Still Mew is patient and soothing.

"It's ok Nong, I think it's dead. You can stop shooting at the body now." Chuckling at Gulf's aggression.

The next night they talk almost past midnight, Mew regaling Gulf with stories of his foreign trips outside Thailand. From Japan to France and even all the way across the waters to New York. Gulf half listens, tho still intrigued by how well-traveled Mew is. But mostly, he watches intently as Mew unboxes a group of new collectibles he'd recently purchased.

Watches long elegant fingers assemble each figure with care, wondering how he'd manage when those fingers would finally touch skin that went beyond his hands, even under the pretense of acting.

The night before their second day at workshop, where table readings were to commence, Mew calls a little later than usual. He'd texted hours before hand, warning Gulf he was at a photo-shoot and it would end a little later than intended. 

Don't wait up, Nong. I'll see you tomorrow.

But Gulf insists for Mew to call anyway. Though only a few days in the making, Gulf found his sleep was deeper and less troubled after every call. To have a night without talking to P'Mew would be....something he was not ready to go back to.

When the call does come, he'd already tucked himself into bed, his phone tightly clutched in his hand and clasped to his chest. 

"Hi, P'Mew, krub. You get home safe?" He answers with a lazy grin, eyes sluggish and drooping.

Mew doesn't answer right away and the image of his face seemed frozen, Gulf fears his wifi is lagging. But he sees Mew blink a few times and mouth seemed slack and before he can question in concern, Mew sputters out "You have a lisp!?" 

It's sounds exasperated, accusatory, and he's confused. 

"Aow, it's retainers, Phi" he explains, grinning exaggeratedly to reveal two rows of thin wire encased teeth. "I usually put it on before I go to bed."

"Retainers..." Mew repeats blinking again, owlishly, as Gulf catches the barest of a hitched breath, and he's confused once more.

But the whispered "Narak" that follows and "You should wear it more often" helps him understand.

Oh...interesting.

You've chosen well, boy, he's got a kink too.

Gulf excuses himself to faux cough, momentarily flipping down the phone screen. It's just in time before a giddy grin leaps out from his attempt at containing. 

Another little something he greedily pockets away for later use.

The don't stay with the chat too long, only touching on pleasantries and checking up on each other's finished schedules, both at the cusp of sleep, but it's still happy and Gulf feels energized as they say goodbye.  He sends Mew away with a "Susu, Phi! See you at workshop tomorrow, krub." 

 

As much as they've talked every night for the last week or so, creating a familiar camaraderie that sometimes flirted at borders dangerously close to Gulf's deepest darkest desires, it's still completely different and far removed when meeting in the flesh. The ability to retreat from the situation if things got too much, not that he'd ever needed to during their late night chats, was no longer an option. There was no end button to press when P'Mew was standing right in front of him. And he felt himself regressing again into habits he knew P'best, from across the hall in the break room, would raise his brows in disapproval. 

It helps that Mew approaches him first. Helps that Mew seems to have acquired a good reading on how to handle the volatile spectrum of his less than amiable moods. Helps that Mew is patient, rivaling Tharn's own monk-like tolerance, because often-times people misunderstood his introvert with arrogance, and Mew knew it's falsehood. Helps that Mew does not push, only hovers next to him as they wait for P'Mame to start things. Hovers next to him in companionable silence. 

As P'Mame gathers the group in a clustered throng in the middle of the room, she informs the first table read was to be pushed to their next meeting. Her team felt the level of intimacy and chemistry was still a bit lacking and preferred a whole day devoted in achieving just that. There would be no rushing such a process. Touch exercises was to be on the agenda for the day.

It's fine, this is to be expected. Don't act all surprised. You've done this before.

He remembers similar exercises in high school and at Uni during acting class, but the panic still sets in, a reflex reaction cobbled into the building blocks of his DNA. Mew must have sensed the rigidness that's locked his frame because he feels light fingers skimming up his left arm and stopping at the base of his nape, gently coaxing the muscles there to relax.

"Is this okay, Nong? You're all tense." The words are offered, soft but clear and calming.

His first instinct is to flinch away. As much as he'd fantasize about getting to touch and be touched by P'Mew, the make of his person had ingrained views going against such wants.

Touch to him was black and white.

If it was outside of acting, if they were not his immediate family or Poom, although that could barely count and something he would not venture into at the moment, then the privilege was not there's to take. Yes P'Mew and him were now friends, but hell, he'd barely even hugged any of his closest mates let alone allow other form of touch.

But he'es nodding, as the taut strings keeping him upright from his head all the way to the tips of his toes, slowly loosen and he sighs encouraging Mew to continue his ministrations.

He could get used to things like this, as things within himself were rearranging and changing. 

Must be magic in them fingers.

Calmed and no longer as skittish, they are partnered off once again, allocated onto little padded mats strewn throughout the workshop room.

"Follow your gut," P'Mame instructs, " but be mindful of your partner. There is no script, but if you feel like, you may practice lines. Pretend you are with a lover, or a close friend. A parent, or a sibling. The moments and interpretation is your prerogative. But the important thing is to reach that level of comfort from the other. Intimacy where there is respect but boundaries can be crossed without discomfort or guards up."

Through the course of the day, Gulf finds himself in all manners of positions on Mew's person. 

And through the course of the day, Gulf tries his best from getting too carried away. Stilling his erratic feelings, now connected to the most sensitive and affected bit of his anatomy. It's difficult, as there seems to be no part of him never touching a part of Mew's, but he manages.

Barely.

But he manages.

They ditch the script book, and decide on just talking. All topics are open for discussion and he almost falls asleep, head nestled into the firmness of Mew's warm chest as he's curled into his side, Mew's arms gathered about him. It's their most innocent stance of the day and he can finally breathe, listening to the elder whisper about the latest movie he'd just watched. Something about lovers, a notebook and forgetting. 

I'd never forget you if you were mine.

Things within himself were rearranging and changing. 

When they part at the end of the day, Mew reaches for him one last time.

"I'd like a hug, if that's ok?"

He complies without hesitation, stays in the embrace. Still strung on the high of being held so thoroughly by Mew he gets brave, putting into memory Mew's scent, as he buries his nose into Mew's neck, sniffing lightly. The arms that wrap around him does not let go so easily and he wishes they never would.

Remembering his proud sentiment, he does not budge from Mew's hold, even when he hears P'Best call him, that it's time to go.

He will protect me.

 

The hugs become a mainstay.

They hug in greeting. They hug in their goodbyes. They hug when words are not needed and the presence of the other is enough.

It's always Mew that initiates, but he reciprocates willingly and does not move until the other has had their fill.

They hug when things get a little too much. When a heavy scene or a particularly hard day on set leads to exhaustion he can't shake off because it's clamped down heavy onto his bones and he thinks he'll never be able to move again.

They hug to quiet the loudness from everything, that goads the ugly, growling from within him because he's just so tired and in Mew's embrace things simmer down and he feels human again.  

His Mae once compared him to a temperamental stray cat and on occasion, more lion. But with P'Mew, he's become domesticated.

The kisses however, do not.

 

He kisses Mew for the first time when he's not even supposed to. 

It's after a brief table read on their third workshop meeting, and P'Tee, the director, wants another chemistry test to see if progress was being made from the touch exercises. Each partnered duo are given a different movie scene to reenact with no discrimination on time period, language or genre. Gulf and Mew are assigned an iconic scene from a Western BL called Call Me By Your Name.

It's passionate, lust in it's most primal form, yearning that does not listen to reason. So he follows the rhythm of his heart that beat to Mew's name.

Let me just have this.

There is no control, there is no room full of his colleagues. He does not hear the whistles and cat calls.

He only feels and wants and wants, slipping in his tongue, ravenous for a taste. He loses himself as Mew answers. If the older is surprised he does not show it, only meets the aggression of Gulf's insatiable mouth with his own hunger, keeping Gulf in place with his large hands cupping the underside of his jaw. Gulf clutches tight onto the fabric on Mew's back, desperate to diminish any space left between them.

When they part, he does not look into Mew's eyes, afraid of what he'll see, but he's eased back by Mew's fingers cooling the red heat of his ears. It's the twinkling mirth he sees when he finally looks up that reassures he should not regret.

"Well...that deserves top marks." P'Tee manages to appraise, a little stunned but pleased.

The whistles and catcalls are deafening.

 

He wishes their kisses would become a mainstay.

Can't control the animal instinct to kiss back when Mew's lips touch his, even when the script tells him not to. He wants to be devoured but is all too happy to devour back.

He wishes their kisses would become a mainstay, but they do not.

Kisses between them never breach past the boundaries of the filming set. 

And it's for the best.

Infidelity never looked good on anyone, boy. 

It was nearing a month since he'd last seen Poom. A mere two texts, checking up on each other for communication.

P'Best once again offers to talk and once again he declines. Reasons, he is too tired from filming to do anything after. But P'Best must know he always has time for his P'Mew and their late night video chats. Video chats they have yet to miss.

"I feel like I can talk to you about anything, Nong. Feel like I've known you for so much longer...another life perhaps?"

"I feel the same way, Phi."

The dark circles under his eyes are too telling each morning.

But he has little time to worry about these things of consequence. He has his own set of priorities at the moment and the former will have to be shoved way into the back to collect dust. He'd rather focus on happier things like being able to play with P'Mew. Doing things with P'Mew he would never be able to outside the pretense of work.

And even if that is all that's ever allotted to him, he knows beggars can't be choosers and crumbs will suffice.

 

It's nearing past the half way mark of filming, only a few more episodes left to shoot and the duo had camped out in one of the empty rooms on set turned into makeshift rest/makeup area, waiting for a late night shoot schedule. Gulf had dosed off on the padded bedding situated in the corner of the room while Mew, cuddled next to him,  scrolled through his laptop trying to finish a term paper when boredom set in and the elder decided it was time to wake the younger. 

And wake Gulf does, at first to his annoyance but once realizing its Mew's fingers tickling his sides, the mood shifts from irritation to something more benign. 

"Mai Dai! P'Mew..stop!" He squeals and squirms, playing along, because ticklish he is not. But the giddy laughter from the older, clear like silver bells, is worth the pretense. A breathless giggle pops like fizzy bubbles from his lips as Mew continues the attack of fingers firmly, yet gentle, tickling the softness of his poochy belly, that gets him pinked cheek.

My "Poong-ka-tie" Mew would call it lovingly as he'd kneed and poke, like it was his own personal stress ball. 

His ears are warmed, and Mew must have noticed because his eyes crinkle away as one hand leaves their purchase of Gulf's middle and skims up his bare arms to take between thumb and forefinger the sensitive pad of Gulf's right ear. It's surely red.

"Why is Nong so shy?"

"I'm not shy" he does not even bother stopping the pout that forms on his mouth, relishing on how Mew's eyes seem to darken into orbs of swirling onyx.

He shakes his head coyly, grinning wide, making sure his retainers show, and he swears he sees Mew clench his jaw and grit his teeth.

Mission accomplished.

Gulf has a small arsenal of triggers he likes to reach into, in times when guilt or shame have no meaning, to illicit certain wanted reactions from the older.

This was such a time.

Their positions are now almost compromised, with G having wrestled his way up and into straddling the older man down. A small roll of his hips and he could just--

It's been torture for the longest time. Especially once filming had undergone, and they were no longer just reading their actions around a table. 

The perpetual tension at his nape, traveling around his neck to his throat, that's thickened and always dry. It never eases. His tongue is almost always heavy, slurred because sometimes he loses words and everything is just hard.

Literally everything is just hard.

The speed at which his aching lust turns, hard, thrumming and swollen is....ridiculous. And it's often the littlest thing from Mew that affects him so.

A glance he reads too deep into. Did his eyes just travel to my lips? 

A flick of the tongue to lick some cream after sipping haphazardly from a cup of boba milkshake.

Long fingers, such fucking long fingers, skimming over their script booklet. 

He'll play the precedent, he thinks, a medical anomaly of being the first to die from a constant state of blue balls.

The thought almost makes him chuckle, which turns into a clearing of his throat when Mew tilts his head up from below, eyebrows quirked in question.

Gulf shakes his head assuring and Mew side-eyes, smirking unbelieving, but it turns into a soft smile, dimples on show and eyes like crescent moons.

And he's hard again.

Yup...fucked.

 

They're called to join their cues for the night and the moment fortunately passes. He unstraddles himself from Mew's splayed form on the ground, extending his hand to help Mew up, but Mew ignores when Gulf's cell on the side of the bedding goes off. Reaching for it, Mew notices the name on the screen and a change occurs that makes Gulf uneasy.

"Who's Poom?"

"My girlfriend?" It's more a question than an answer and he tries to read the look on Mew's face but it flits across so quick he has little time to comprehend. 

"You never told me." 

"Guess it never came up."

"Why haven't you talked about her? Why haven't I met her. Have you both seen each other lately? I mean your schedule's been packed--?" It's a barrage of questions, pelting him in a tone he's never heard Mew use and which he does not like. He can barely dodge the crossfire.

"Why is it important to you?" He snaps back, irritation gripping its gnarled fingers into his temple, a headache threatening to form.

"It's not."

The subject is dropped as abruptly as it began, the call goes unanswered.

That night is the first night they don't video chat, his texts are ignored.

The next day they have their first fight.

 

Gulf wakes to an unease that floods the back of his throat with bile. He wants to vomit but the acid would burn a hole right through him leaving nothing but a quivering mess, and he didn't want to have his Mae bother.

Chill the fuck out. He was probably just busy. It's nothing.

His eyes protest, prickling at the corners, stinging. He shuts them tight and tries to breath.

He will not cry.

The setting for the shoot is located at Siam Paragon, one of the largest shopping centers in Bangkok. It's the most public set that Gulf's has ever been present in and the thought of an outside audience ogling him when he was already at the edge of a shaky precipice, makes him want to run. Far, far away, from obligation, and kind brown eyes that he now knows had looked betrayed.

Betrayed..but he had never promised--

Far, far away where he could scream until his lungs gave out. 

Mew arrives late, eyes hidden beneath dark shades. The air that surrounds is stale and cold and crackles with a bite. Like the onset of a storm where lightening calls forth a ferocious thunder, shaking foundations and setting, searing fire through it's path.

He is of few words, back straight like a rod ready to spring forward to attack if agitated. Short in his answers, they are like daggers, and even P'Mame is not left unscathed. 

When he does reveal his eyes, there is no light in his gaze. It's a scary void, lifeless and holds only one emotion. 

Anger.

It is a harsh departure from the sweet softness, and patience of Mew, Gulf is used to or has learned to--

The panic that sets in, blindsides, his breath labored and difficult.

The words he reads from the script booklet blur, his vision growing wet and he knows his voice is shaking but he continues his lines anyway, refusing to yield to the figure that stares back unbothered, sharing Mew's form but not his disposition. He is stumbling and stuttering like a fool until he's spouting nonsense in angry hiccups as snot starts to run to the top of his lip. 

"Ok...stop stop. Let's all take 20 minutes."

Gulf bolts, even before P'Mame can finish her mandate, almost tripping over his feet grown clumsy, blindly looking for the nearest exit. 

He nearly makes it, the production crew and extras parting without hindrance and letting him through without question but a tug on the hem of his loose collared shirt stops him. The arms, solid and firm in their hold and all encompassing, that wrap around his waist from behind, his back flush against a marbled chest, keeps him in place. 

"Breathe." It commands, but the softness it once lacked is now back. He almost weeps.

He tries to obey, but the tremors latched onto his very tissue won't stop, and his breathing stays staggered. A hand travels to space above his heart, rubbing a soothing circle and he tries to focus on the movement, willing himself to calm down.

It almost works, as he melts and becomes malleable in Mew's arms when a grating voice in his periphery cuts through the moment.

"Fucking, thua dam! Haven't learned your lesson, Suppasit? New victim huh? Disgusting."

The surge of fury douses the calm like a deluge. Nose flared like a bulls and gnashing teeth that foamed, he almost knocks Mew over, as his anger has given him the strength of an ox.

In his anger he remembers.

He will protect me.

My turn.

He grapples from Mew's firm grip around his middle, wanting to bring white knuckled fist to the fleshy bit on the nose of the stranger that dare say such filthy things. 

Filthy things to his P'Mew.

"It's not worth it! Gulf! Stop!" As Mew battles to hold him back.

But he's determined. Determined to wipe the leering and condescending smirk on the bastard's face. Determined to--

"Tuaeng! Stop, please!"

He forgets the stranger. Forgets his angers. Forgets everything because--

Tuaeng.

Tuaeng.

Tuaeng.

"Nong, look at me. He's nothing...his words are nothing. I'm ok. Please open your eyes."

He wants yet does not.

To stay in this bliss...

In this bliss of being called..

Surely he must..

"Tuaeng?" He whisper, eyes still shut tight as he dares not move, afraid everything was nothing but a dream.

"Yes...my Tuaeng." He's affirmed with a voice that's convicted yet laced with pain. "If that's ok?"

Yes! Forever, yes.

Nodding into the crook of Mew's neck, he pulls the older man into an embrace that spoke loud and promised everything he could never say.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about her."

"It doesn't matter. As long as we're ok, it doesn't matter."

And he loves him. 

My God, does he love him.

And this is where I take my leave. Good boy.

 

 

"I'd like to have that talk, P'Best. Maybe lunch tomorrow?"

P'best nods, smiling small but warm, sending him off with a firm shut of the car door, driving away into the night.

He looks up at the twinkling starlit sky and sees the moon is full and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Barely past eight, the wind is lazy and does little against the scalding rays of the sun, leaving Gulf's back damp with sweat. But maybe it was more than just the heat of the day.

They're sat in a quaint cafe, situated in a quieter part of the city. P'best is patient, munching on an egg tart, phone tucked away into his back pocket, a rarity that Gulf appreciates. The latter is across from P'Best, fiddling with a straw wrapper, Boba milk tea forgotten; a small puddle of condensation, soaking the paper coaster beneath.

Gulf is stalling, the optimism and adrenaline of the night before having worn off; back to toeing, unsure, at the scary edge. The bottomless pit bellow, frightening and too unknown.

But P'Best does not push. They have all the time. He says this in his relaxed drape across his chair, right leg over left thigh, intermittently taking leisure sips from his cup of green tea. 

He will jump in then, it's decided. Gulf will brace the hard impact, broken bones and all. Caution had gotten too comfortable and complacent, it's started to rot. There is sepsis in the blood and it needs to be flushed out.

"I think I'm..." Gulf's head stays down; the jump is a slow fall. 

His fingers draw nonsensical shapes against the grain of the wooden table, like lines on a hand.

The answer isn't there, he figures, and he does not know how to read palms, but maybe it might give privy. He stops and starts again. Lowers his voice a bit, the cafe is crowded tho their table is at the far end of the patio, and feels red shame on his forehead, the scarlet letter of--

But he's trying. God damn it he's trying.

"I think I...I mean..the thing with Poom...." he trails off again, not knowing how to restart. Does not know how to end.

And yet P'best nods and stays quiet. The kind smile helps. He's offered an egg tart, a needed pause. 

"I'm in love with P'Mew." He rushes out, hastening the fall.

P'Best blinks, processing. The arch of his brow is comical and the delivery is too abrupt for the manager to school his reaction, gears whirring loud in his head.

"Wow...ok. I expected certain things. This was definitely not one of them. Nong I--"

"You think it's wrong?" Gulf blanches. He wants to retract and almost bolts.

"No, Nong, easy, let me finish." P'Best reaches for his hand to assure. He does not give but hackles are lowered, slight. 

"I'm just surprised is all. I had suspicions. Your not the most subtle when it comes to Nong Mew. Don't give me that look, I see what I see. Just not to this extent." 

Miffed, he huffs a little, tearing pieces from the wet paper coaster and rolling them into tiny balls.

"Do you think he knows?" His voice is small and barely carries over to the other.

"Like I said, I see what I see and if anything, it's definitely not one-sided."

A giddy fluttering in his chests makes him feel light and untethered. But it's lack of ample sleep that makes him overthink.

"What if he's just... a really good actor."

"Do you think that's all it is?"

"I don't know. I'm just scared. These feelings...I'm just scared all the time." He worries at his bottom lip so the growing sting at the corners of his eyes will stop.

"Feelings are scary, I can attest. It's the fear of not knowing, right?"

Gulf's nods low, eyes back on the table, thumb rubbing at an invisible smudge.

"And Love?" P'Best continues," that's the scariest feeling of all. I'm not saying you should now..but eventually, talking to him will do you some good. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. But most importantly. Thank you. Thank you for telling me. For trusting me. I'm in your corner and will always be, Nong. Promise you this."

P'Best doesn't offer a hug, just another smile and a tip of his empty cup towards Gulf. P'Best knows not to make it bigger than it already was, and he appreciates.

"What about Poom? What should I do? Say?"

"Just be honest. That's all you can really do. I won't say it'll be easy, but it needs to be done Nong. If you love Nong Mew. And I know you care for Poom. Your heart is too good for ugly things."

He agrees once more, tucks his head almost to his chest at the praise he thinks he does not deserve. But there's one more thing.

"And..what I am? I still don't really know?"

"That's not important. Labels are... Well let's just say some people need them and some people don't. And that's ok."

 

He's exhausted and relieved the day is free of work or school as he's dropped off back home. The confessions, were like a scraping out of his insides, organs and entrails laid out as carrion to be picked and prodded. Even if it's P'Best, who's accepting, understanding, relating; It's still unnerving to be so openly bared. Even in his level of comfort with P'Mew the older still knew not these secrets.

Things with Poom are not as dramatic as he'd feared. Its unceremonious, quick and without discord, and he's grateful. He'd texted to meet up with her. Insisting it was important and should not be postponed if it can be helped. But there was no need.

It's okay, Nong, we don't have to meet. I know what this is about. I'm not angry, just surprised it took so long? But I should have said and done something too. I guess we're both not great with confrontations, huh? You're a good person, Nong, and you've been kind to me with whatever it was we had. They call it a contract. I want to say friendship. 

Good news, I've met someone! We're just friends, but for the longest time now I've wanted more. I'm really happy. For the first time in a long while, I'm happy. So thank you for this. 

P.S. She'd like you I think, if she met you. 

Huh...

Surprise morphs into genuine happiness and he regrets if only they'd been both a little braver earlier on they really could have been good friends, he thinks.  

The lightness he'd felt at the cafe returns. It'd been brief and was shadowed by everything else but electric energy is buzzing within him now. Things were within reach whereas it had once been some dangling, forbidden fruit, almost cruel in its tempt.

Now, things seemed... possible.

Fantasies and dreams were...possible.

Yet, in the excitement there is still unrelenting fear.

 

He's losing time, he knows this. Less than a month of shooting and a week after his talk with P'Best and the only headway he's made is initiating texts.

It's as if the confessions turned all steps and any real progress on it's heel and now he was going backwards.

In his desperation he resorts to his elementary way of courting. Although he can't say he'd ever been successful in his endeavors of the past and it's childish but he bombards their line chat with stickers, anyway.

The confusion and concerned reply was to be...expected.

Nong, I think you need more sleep. 

It's not like it's common knowledge that the silly bunny line sticker, humping the air like it was on crack meant: I love you dearly, be mine.

So he changes tactics. 

You've jumped in already, Kanawut. There's water at the bottom and it's fine. 

He acts, in actions big and small, pouring in all his intentions of love.

Initiates hugs, the first ever, a greeting two days after their "fight". Mew is so caught off guard he stumbles and almost takes Gulf down with him into a toppled mess of bruises and cut knees from the concrete parking lot floor. But the tight and unyielding returned embrace tells of how it's very much welcomed.

I love you.

He makes tea with extra honey, just how Mew likes it, when the other's eyes are drooping and heavy because his plate was packed too full and coffee was not an option because of his aversion.

I love you.

He massages into hardened muscles that are sore and aching, from grueling days of late night shoots and scenes of the intimate persuasion. The blocking had been difficult and Mew had been pushed to hold poses too steady and too long.

I love you.

He sends encouraging words and an infinity of "Susu, Khun Phi!", when Mew voiced feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

"Sometimes, Nong, I don't think I'll reach what I really want. Ever be truly happy?"

I love you.

He cries for Mew. Would send a million merits if he could. 

I love you.

If I could make you happy. Would you let me?

A thousand I Love Yous that could never amount to just how much he loved the older man but was now intertwined into everything he did and everything that he was.

Because even if Mew did not know it yet, Gulf was now his, fully and forever.

 

His fan-club, small but growing and very much loyal and wonderful in their anticipation for the premier of the series want to gift him a first ever fan-meet for his coming birthday. It's ridiculous how time flies, but already almost a year has passed since everything began. 

He's grateful and excited, tho a little weary with how he has to sing during the event, not one of his strongest suits, but he'll give way because he owes it to his PhiPhis undying support. 

Decides this is the perfect opportunity for things to happen. Because if he was not spouting love sonnets into the night sky, he was going insane with how much he wants to rut like an animal and howl at the moon every time so much as a sliver of Mew's chest was bared. 

Because not now then when?

Enough with the skirting around and waiting and loving quietly, tho in his quiet he is still too loud that people besides P'Best have begun to notice.

"You know, if you drool any more, makeup Phis won't be too happy. Just can't get enough huh?" 

He nearly forgets he's not in a scene and moves to clock Mild upside his head in such a way that would make Type most proud, but channels the energy instead to rolling his eyes most dramatically.

"Phi, go bother P'Boat. Heard he's got extra of those hard candies you like so much." 

The shorter man scuttles away, but not without a knowing smirk. 

 

He'll do it in person he decides. Does not want the moment to lose meaning over something as distant as a text or even a video chat. 

He will ask P'Mew to come to his Birthday Fanmeet and then confess what needs to be confessed.

Come what may, he will be brave.

He makes some vague excuse that passes, takes the family car out for a drive come Saturday morning and the early morning traffic is light enough he's soon parked outside Mew's condo. But his insides are twisted into tight spirals he's dry heaving twice before he can even open the car door to get out. 

It's another couple minutes too long that he wastes standing in front of the intercom by the main entrance, with a placard of names and buttons assigned to each name, finger hovering above Mews before he can press to call.

Three rings, loud and sudden, he jolts, heart beating too erratically, he's starting to feel faint.

Three rings and a voice answers, gravelly and sleepy and--

Not Mew.

"Hello?"

He moves to answer, to ask, but a shuffling of feet in the background and another voice calling out, stops him. It's muffled by the distance but still clear.

"Art? Who is it?" Mew's voice asks.

Gulf does not remember the steps he's taken or the corner he's turned or how in his haste retreat takes him from point B back to point A, but he's now in his car. Quiet without a trace, as if he'd never been there, because it's best, he drives off. 

Drives and drives until he's reached the outskirts of town and parks by the side of the road next to a rice field ready for harvesting. 

Like a thief he'd stolen away.

Like a thief, he is, because he realizes now those moments, moments he'd hoarded away, precious, thinking they were his to keep were never his to begin with.

Even the crumbs, were scraps he was not meant to take.

Hindsight is 20/20 and too garish and harsh in its clarity and he should have known.

Should have known because after the fight the knowledge of Poom is never brought back up. 

Should have known that his read on that moment, when it seemed the other was angry about Poom, was wrong.

His fantastical, hopeful read on that moment that perhaps Mew was angry because he was jealous of Poom, was wrong.

He should have known that Mew was only being a good and kind and generous phi to a scared and lost Nong. It was work and he was a professional and everything was just platonic.

He should have known, the other was still in love.

He should have known that love can be so incredibly and indescribably, forgiving. 

What a fool. What a fucking stupid, niave, fool.

And it hurts.

It hurts acute and he wants to scream rather than cry.

It's a hurt of glass shards and rusted metal. Serrated and jagged at the edges, embedded into the fleshy bit of the organ that's now barely beating. It's a hurt of shrapnel in the lungs, tearing into the delicate tissue and every ragged breath is cut with wet sobs he cares not to stop.

Thanks for the privilege of getting to know you, but I wish we'd never met.

 

When he heads home that evening, its late enough his mae and P'Grace are already heading for bed, his phor absent for a business trip out of town.

"Mae?...Mama? Can I sleep here tonight?"

He crawls over the empty space on the bed to his Mae's outstretched arms and he's gathered into her embrace, her frame though small is warm and encompassing. Catching his tears on her shoulder she hums a childhood lullaby of wishes and moonbeams. 

 

He's a masochist he learns. A glutton for it. 

The jump's fall he's taken is broken bones and pain after all. The water is no longer fine but sludged and murky and he's dropped 6 feet below with no way out.

They've just finished the last ever shot for the series, an action heavy scene, where Kaonwah, the series' main protagonist gets into an climatic altercation with Type and all actors involved are spent. It's a swirling turmoil of emotions as the cast and crew hug and spread congratulatory praises with each other.

Gulf and Mew are among the crowd, lost in each others arms,  both slowly bringing themselves out of character one last time. 

He is proud in his professionalism, in his pretense. The tears are Type's not his. 

Tries to shoo away thoughts too deep and irksome that beckon him to wonder whether he smelled another scent different and unfamiliar from Mew's own, focusing instead on the feel of Mew's arms around him, burning and branding it into memory. He knows not when he'd ever get to again.

Enough.

You no longer have the liberty.

Though you never did to start.

When they part he digs himself deeper into the ground beneath. Pushes the blade deeper into the shallow cuts that still bleed.

"I have fan-meet for my birthday in two weeks. Can you make it, Phi?"

We're just colleagues after all. The fan service will be perfect for promo and to pique his fan's interest. 

He lies to himself.

The answer is an apologetic smile, which he accepts readily with understanding like a good boy that he is. Mew would be packed and busy, another late night finish that day.

But his imagination is a menace as it runs through wild scenarios that pummels into his already collapsed lungs.

Busy with work.  Sure...just work. 

The selfish part of him, that wants to raise a ruckus, rant and rage, wishes he had more precedent over what Mew considered important. 

He misses the simplicity of everything before all this...before...

Thanks for the privilege of getting to know you, but I wish we'd never met.

 

The fan meet is a happy distraction.

His mind is settled and given reprieve for the night as he loses himself in the festivities.

He sings several songs with as much gusto as he can muster. The enthusiastic cheers and applause of his fans, after his performance gets him blushing and shy but delighted.

He plays interactive games that are silly and ridiculous but his fans are hilarious and have witty jokes and the small but packed conference hall is filled with comedy and laughter. 

And as he looks over the crowd and his family sat within, grinning back at him, he feels blessed and loved and thinks it'll all be ok.

There's more to life than matters of the heart. And even that kind of wound can heal in time.

After a small intermission, the administrators of his fanclub presents him a video of his pictures throughout the years. Several messages are embedded throughout from the cast, certain fans, family and close friends.

The pictures are embarrassing but the messages are sweet and he's touched deeply, full of good thoughts, as he sends hopeful prayers that this feeling will last. 

But even the heavens can be cruel.

The last video is of P'Mew, smiley crescent eyes and dimpled cheeks, with an endearing message of apologies for not making it and promises to try to stay together in the future, with whatever it might bring them as a work couple and friends.

It's a freight train to the chest, all metal and iron, a choking in the back of his throat; and he refuses to look back at the audience or they'll see everything that's he's tried so hard to let go.

When it ends he has no time to take a shaky breath, no time to compose and gather the broken bits of himself that are held together by brittle and rusted bolts, because the lights darken so suddenly and the music turns on, the opening to the yet released theme song for Tharn and Type, and a voice croons echoing syrup from the walls.

He looks around, pretends he's knows not and the panic on his face can be misconstrued as such but he knows.

He's here. 

And he wants to melt into the ground. Turn into dust. Into the dirt of the earth.

To die.

Because he's confused and no longer knows what he wants.

Mew is beautiful and sure, his slow descent from the entrance of the hall as he makes it to the stage, eyes focused on nothing else but Gulf's own; wide, unblinking and wet. 

He can't breath. He dares not.

He can't speak. He dares not.

And Mew laughs catching his hand, interlocking their fingers as the older waves to the screaming crowd, jubilant at seeing their "love" upclose.

He wants to vomit, violent and foul.

This is work. Fanservice. Nothing more.

When he'd initially invited Mew, he'd openly accepted the reason the older might agree would be such. But faced with the reality of it is a stark and painful difference.

Hindsight hurts and he'd rather see the future.

This is work.

So he works.

He smiles wide, gummy and puffed cheeks. Smiles wide so the cameras and those near won't catch the glistening wet of his eyes. And if they do he will pretend it's because he so  happy his P'Mew arrived just for him.

He hugs back as eagerly. Jumps up to be carried. And laughs and laughs until it no longer sounds so manic in his ears.

Small tokens to the boat man. 

Bring me a swift death.

And when the last of the his fans have trickled out, and Mew stays, helping his parents and the venue workers in clearing the place up, accepting the invite from his Phor to join their late family dinner, he storms off not even trying to be subtle.

The charade is dropped because he no longer can.

It takes several tries down the hall but he manages to find an unlocked room. Fumbling with the knob he enters and shuffles weak to the other side, forehead against the cooling white wall, hands balled into slack fists by his side. He wants to chuck off his denim jacket now heavy and hot but he's just too tired.

He murmurs numbers up to ten, following the count with his breath and it helps a little but the arms slowly finding their gentle hold on the bony juncture of his hips as he's pulled back into a hard chest rips through his calm.

Why is it he can always find me so easily. 

Maybe because you really doesn't mean to run or hide.

"We've been here before," Mew breathes, ruffling the hairs on his nape.

"Stop...please" Gulf begs, shaky hands trying to remove Mew's grip from his waist but their insistent and he's weak.

"Stop what, Nong?"

"Just stop!...Stop and leave me!"

He's turned around and he doesn't even fight.

Mew's large hands cups his face, thumbs stroking and soothing his reddened cheeks wet with tears. It's a pained concern that searches his eyes, and he wants to shut them but he can't.

"How can I stop If I don't know what I've done?"

"But you do! You do!" It's a cry that wants to bite into the jutted bone of Mew's exposed collar. Bite and draw blood and make him hurt.

As much as the salt that's rubbed into my wounds that have yet to close and will now heal ugly, if it will ever.

"Nong.."The whisper in his ear as he's brought close, his cheek against Mew's cheek, lulls tho he tries not to let it. "Tell me what I've done so I can stop."

"Why are you here?" He utters instead, defeated, "Why are you here and not at work?...Or with him?"

He accuses and wants to point fingers but they're trapped, incased by the bracket of Mew's arms.

"Work? Surely you know this is meant as a surprise? There is no work...and what do you mean him? Him who?"

"Art!" He pulls back and spits out, the venom stays, sticky on his tongue.

"Art? Why the hell--"

"Yes, Art!! I saw...no I heard you two when I came over that day."

The furrows of Mew's brow grow deeper, not comprehending Gulf's revelation, but he cares not because he tries to bring Gulf back, nosing at the sensitive curve of Gulf's jaw to his ear.

Gulf gasps and loses himself, eyes rolling back, almost allows Mew's lips to reach for his but reason is stubborn and anger hurtles forward, as he wrenches his head back.

How dare he!

"I came over that day. Went as far as the intercom. But I heard you talking to Art! He was over wasn't' he? Probably stayed the night?! And stupid little me came over because I was going to ask you to the fanmeet.  Stupid little me was going to tell you--"

He shakes his head, refusing to continue, as he clenched his jaw, swallowing the sob that wants to rip out.

It was pointless.

"Tell me what?"

"No..." he whines, hurt and raw, turning his head from Mew's grasp.

"Tuaeng! Tell me what?" Mew is insistent but he keeps his hold soft and tender. 

"Tell you that I love you!" He wails, his head drops with a pathetic thump on Mew's chest, offering himself in supplication.

Now he knows.

But it was pointless.

"You silly boy."

So this is what it feels to be gutted. To bleed out until nothings left but a shell of what once was.

"Yes, I'm nothing but a silly boy. A stupid--"

"No!" Mew's thumb on his lips halts his words.

"There is no Art. There is no work. Art came over yes, but only to talk. To apologize and to clean our slate if you will. He's moving to US for further studies and wanted to end things right. He was willing to talk to the media, clear my name but it's the past and the apology was enough."

"Oh." 

"Yes, oh." Mew teases, nose scrunched in jest as he thumbs away an errant tear on Gulf's jaw.

"And you know why else your so silly?"

"No?" Gulf asks, breath caught in a gasp, wishing and hoping but the heavens can be cruel.

"Because you don't know how long I've loved you back."

"I broke up with Poom!"

He's never really been good with words.

The chuckle that grows until Mew's head lay, at the crook of his neck, Mew's shoulder's shaking in mirth, little wheezes sputtering out as he laughs and laughs, makes him whole.

And Gulf takes and takes, healing heart stitched together. There will be scars, but it's a patchwork of Mew's love.

"Well that's good." Mew reassures once he's stopped, kissing his neck earnestly,"But really I'd still love you even if it could only be as a phi to a nong. Whatever you allowed me I'd take and love you still."

And when lips meet lips, a movement of memory, old and new, it's as Mew and Gulf. And they taste with tongues that duel but relent. Bite with teeth that mark and claim.  And grip with fingers that touch and remember. 

"I love you, Thirak" 

"I know, Tuaeng." Mew beams, lighting up fluorescent.

"And you love me?"

"So much,. I love you so much, Gulf Kanawut."