Too had always dreamt of studying abroad.
He loved Thailand, sure, but he’d always wanted to see what the world looked like, outside of the small bubble he lived in.
Ever since he was about 14, he had been fantasizing about studying in Europe, or the United States… maybe Australia. He did like kangaroos a whole lot.
So that’s why, when the opportunity had come during his second year in college to study abroad for a year, he knew he had to take it. He had applied for programs anywhere available, in basically every continent, to have as many chances as he could get.
And he had been accepted. To a few of them, but most notably: Australia.
Too couldn’t believe it. After that, it was almost impossible to focus on the last month of school, though he thankfully passed all of his classes.
He still remembered the day he had announced it to his friends; they had been so happy for him, hugging him and hitting him proudly on the back, with smiles as big as the moon…
Now, they didn’t look like that anymore.
They had thrown him a farewell party. The whole Communication Arts department was there. Khai’s parents house was freaking huge, which wasn’t surprising seeing how rich he was.
It didn’t make Too want to leave. He had memories with every single one of the people present, even those he barely knew.
They were people who had filled his daily life with their presence, and now they wouldn’t be there anymore.
Too was especially sad to let Khai, Third, Bone and Un go. He knew they would still text and have video calls, but it wouldn’t be the same. He was going on that crazy adventure alone.
He would miss Khai being dumb, Bone being a player and Third being his usual sassy self. He would miss having Un by his side.
“Man, I’m going to miss you,” Bone was the one who said it. Khai and Third were slightly emotionally stunted sometimes.
Too smiled from where the Savage Gang were all sitting, next to the pool. While the party was in Too’s honor, he didn’t really feel like talking to people.
He just wanted to hang out one last time with his closest friends.
“Me too. Don’t have too many girlfriends in my absence,” he teased.
It was a pretty gray day. It reflected Too’s mood well.
“P’Un is here,” Third announced, pointing at their senior from afar.
Too watched him walk towards him and sit down next to them with a smile.
Un was the odd one out. He was a year older, and had only recently gotten close with Too. It had started when they had both worked on the Communication Arts play and had quickly become friends.
It was a little crazy, especially since Khai used to hate Un, and Too sort of did too. He was just… really perfect. All the girls liked him, he did photography like Too, he was a great student and very good looking… how can you not hate someone this perfect?
It turned out that Un wasn’t perfect, but he was a pretty good friend to have around. They got along very well, once Too got over his initial judgment.
Though their friendship had been short, it had been sort of intense, with only a few months of talking over the phone or by text as well as in real life.
Un had become a big part of his life, and Too hoped he would still be when he’d come back… though Un will have graduated, which meant they wouldn’t see each other at university anymore.
They wouldn’t be able to be part of another student play either. That made Too a little upset.
Their little group hung out for the entirety of the party, sometimes letting new people talk to Too and say their goodbyes, until there were only the five of them left at Khai’s house.
Third and Bone were staying over, while Un would drive Too home.
The Savage Gang must have hugged about fifteen times in the course of ten minutes. They had never hugged before. The four of them were all teary-eyed, but hid it while they were still together.
“Take care of yourself,” Third said, voice wavering.
They were all wearing the same sad smiles when Too finally turned around and followed Un to his car.
He waved them goodbye multiple times, and, once the car’s door was shut and Un started driving, he let himself cry.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Un soothed him, a hand on his shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.”
“I know, P’,” he said, drying his tears while new ones continued pouring. “It’s just… it’s hard.”
“It’s hard now, sure. But do you think you going to Australia for a year is going to tear the Savage Gang up? It’s only going to bring you closer.”
“I know… but -”
“Too. Stop being scared. This is the most exciting time of your life. So be excited.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” he answered.
“Don’t be,” Un smiled. “It’s normal to be scared, you’re doing something very new. But trust your friends, they will never forget about you.”
Too nodded, drying his tears for good.
As Un parked in front of his house, Too felt the need to cry again. The senior opened his glove compartment and took a letter out of it, extending it to him.
“I wrote you a letter,” he said simply, incapable of meeting his eyes.
As Too moved to open it, he put his hand on his. “Open it once you arrive in Australia. Promise me, please.”
Too was a little taken aback. “Sure. I promise.”
Un hugged him then, a little too hard. Too didn’t mind it. He hugged back.
A few months ago, he would’ve never imagined this would be possible, Un and him hugging. Now it felt weird to not do it before he left.
“Have a good trip,” Un said once they detached from one another.
He seemed a little teary-eyed, too.
“Are you going to miss me, P’?” Too felt the need to ask.
Un kept silent for a while, before looking back at him. “More than you can imagine.”
Too smiled, feeling his throat close up again, like he was on the verge of tears.
“Well, crazily enough, I’m going to miss you too. Let’s call each other every week, okay?”
Un nodded. “I’ll hold you to that promise.”
Too hugged him once more, before gathering all of his strength and getting out of the car.
He still felt the urge to bend down and say one last thing through the opened window: “I’ll send you pictures and videos.”
“You better,” Un teased, waving him off.
Too waved him back before turning around and walking straight to his house’s entrance.
Damn it. It hurt again.
Tears were prickling his eyes once more, which happened a lot that night.
In fact, when Too left his house the next day to go to the airport, he hadn’t slept at all.
Saying goodbye to his family hurt him once more, but he didn’t have any tears left in his body to cry again.
After having said goodbye to them in front of the gates, he had to pass security before killing some time, board the plane, and fly for eight hours.
Once he arrived, getting to the student residence he had been accepted in was an adventure in itself.
All Too wanted to do was sleep for ten days, but the residence had planned so many activities he didn’t want to miss he had barely time to get into his room, call his parents and text his friends he had arrived that he was already going out.
Turns out, he didn’t have time for himself during ten days. Really, being in that residence was a full-time job: there were free meals in the common rooms, parties and activities in the city every single day.
There was also the fact that he was meeting new people every day, and had added about 30 new people on Facebook. So far, though he was exhausted, he was having fun.
So, when class finally started, Too realized he hadn’t read Un’s letter yet. He had been talking to him and the Savage Gang a few times, though not for very long due to his busy schedule, and Un hadn’t brought it up.
When he came back from his first day of class, Too finally sat down on his bed and read the letter.
“At least I didn’t open it before arriving to Australia,” he smiled to himself.
The letter was hand-written. Un had a beautiful handwriting. That fact sort of surprised Too.
I’m writing this letter the day before you leave for Australia. It feels weird saying that. I don’t really know why I’m writing this. Probably because material things help us remember the key moments in our lives, I guess. Maybe you’ll stumble over this letter in thirty years and ask yourself ‘who is that guy who wrote me a letter?’
Tomorrow, you leave for a year. Yep, I will never get used to that fact. I’m so happy for you, I truly am. It’s such an amazing opportunity. You’ll meet so many people, see so many new places, have so many new experiences. ‘New’ is the word to describe the year ahead of you.
I’ve never written a letter to anyone before. But, somehow it feels right to do it with you.
I know we haven’t been close for long, though we’ve known about each other for a few years now. I still remember the first time I saw you at the freshman welcoming, with your camera in hand, like you always are.
Though we’ve been close only for a handful of months, I feel like we’ve always been meant to be friends. I haven’t gotten along so well with someone… well, ever. With you, everything feels natural. I don’t have to try to find things to say, or to want to see you. I just do.
You’re such a great person. You care about your friends in a way very few people do. You’re the funniest person I know. Your smile could light up any room. Your passion for cinema and photography shows through every single one of your facial expression. And lastly, you’re just cool. I admire you a lot.
You know how much I like you. Though it was a little complicated, with Lynn… I just didn’t want to complicate things between us. I’m sort of scared of commitment, too. I never would have wanted you to be hurt by the situation, so I never really said anything.
I hope you enjoy studying in Australia. You better come back with a perfect accent! You’ll be able to meet so many new people, in friendship, in love… don’t forget about me, though.
I think that on top of being my first letter ever, this might be my first confession letter. It feels weird. Especially since it’s also a farewell letter.
I guess this one is both joyful and sad, mostly intense.
I only hope the best for you, and I know you’ll tell me all about your new Australian life on social media.
What I want most for you, though, is to live in the present instead of dreading the future.
About five minutes passed in complete silence as Too tried not to have a heart attack.
‘I like you’… ‘I just didn’t want to complicate things between us’… ‘I never really said anything’… ‘this is my first confession letter’… did it… mean what Too thought it meant?
That evening, all Too did was lay in bed while overthinking. Did Un just really confess his feelings? And that he had thought about them… being together?
Too’s heart wouldn’t stop pounding in his chest. He could hear his neighbors speaking to each other or closing their doors, but all he could do was lay in his bed and think about Un.
He guessed that sort of made sense. Even with Khai, Third or Bone, he hadn’t struck such a strong friendship as quickly.
Theirs had been… swift. In a few days, they were already telling each other personal things, things Too hadn’t even told Third yet.
They also hung out a lot, more than he did with the Savage Gang.
Un always brought him to old restaurants with the best food, they went to the movies a whole lot, and Un always came over to help him on his homework. It wasn’t abnormal friendly behavior, though.
But, maybe, just maybe… Un had seen it as more.
Too wanted to kick himself now, always talking about Lynn and how she had broken his heart. He didn’t even love her like that anymore.
Too’s heartbeat slowed down when he realized he had been in love with Lynn for three years and had suddenly stopped loving her when he became close with P’Un.
It’s true, he had stopped loving her a month into his and P’Un… relationship. That seemed fishy.
“Do I…” he whispered to himself. “Like him back?”
A shiver went up from his spine to his neck. Sure, he had always found Un really attractive. He liked his personality, he liked spending time with him… maybe slightly more than normal.
Now, Too was angry. Why didn’t P’Un say anything?! If he had, maybe Too wouldn’t have come here and stayed to be with him – oh. That’s why. He didn’t want Too to give up on his childhood dream.
Damn P’Un and his selflessness.
Now, they were thousands of kilometers away from each other, and Too didn’t know what to say or do.
In the end, Too bottled it up.
After he read Un’s letter over and over again, he put it in a safe place and sort of… forgot about it.
The next time he spoke to Un, he didn’t mention it. Un never mentioned it either. Maybe he regretted saying anything.
That year felt both long and short at the same time. Long, because he did so many things and made so many new friends. Too had always been quite popular, but it was a new high. Short, because when you enjoy yourself, it all passes even quicker.
As he was flying back to Thailand, he realized it would be the year he would remember the most in his life.
He was miserable to have to leave all of it behind, but also euphoric at the idea of seeing his family and friends again.
He had missed them. Probably less than he’d initially thought. Though he wouldn’t have gone another year without them.
They had waited for him at the airport.
Too didn’t remember much, except hugs over hugs over hugs, from all of them.
While the Savage Gang was finally hugging again, his three best friends suffocating him, Too looked at Un, who was smiling.
He seemed changed. They all did. Too probably did too.
When they let him go, he went up to him and hugged him. It felt weirder than that first time, a year ago. It wasn’t friendly anymore.
“Welcome back,” Un whispered in his ear.
“Happy to be here,” he answered, and he was.
That afternoon, they all hung out at Too’s house and caught up with the latest news.
“Let’s do a sleep over at my house,” Khai offered at the end of the day.
Too chose that moment to yawn loudly. “I’m so sorry, Khai. Can we do that tomorrow night? I’m exhausted from the flight, I need to sleep about 24 hours straight.”
Khai looked a little disappointed, as well as the rest of the Savage Gang, but moved on from it. “Sure. Tomorrow, 7 pm, my house, then.”
Un must have known that invitation didn’t apply to him. While his relationship with Khai had gotten better, they hadn’t hang out in Too’s absence and were far from being friends.
“Third, let’s go home,” Khai announced, taking the other by the hand. “See you tomorrow, friend!”
“Hey, can I come too?” Bone asked, trying to follow them.
“In your dreams!” Khai replied.
Bone gave Too a pout. “Ever since they got together, they’ve been insufferable.”
Too laughed. “I can’t believe they waited for the one year I was away to get together, these assholes,” he mocked.
“I gotta go too,” Bone announced finally. “See you tomorrow!”
“Yeah,” he nodded, waving him goodbye.
Once they were left alone, Too realized he couldn’t really do it. It felt wrong, hanging out together as if nothing had changed.
“What are you staring at?” Un wondered.
“My room. It used to be the background of my life but now it feels unfamiliar. It’s weird,” he declared. He wasn’t lying, everything felt both old and new now. Unknown.
“Yeah, I know that feeling,” Un smiled. “It happens to me when I come back from a trip. They only last a couple of weeks, though. I can’t imagine what it must feel like after a whole year.”
“Well,” Too interjected. “11 months.”
“Right,” he chuckled.
“P’… Don’t you want to go home?” he finally found the courage to ask.
“Are you kicking me out?”
Why was it so hard? Being normal with him? They had talked in a normal way over text or over the phone… but in real life, it seemed almost impossible. He could barely even look at him in the eyes.
“No, not at all...” he responded. “It’s just getting late.”
“Well… I was wondering if I could stay over.”
This was a first. Even before he’d left Thailand, they had never slept in the same room before.
“But if you don’t want to -”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll let my mom know you’re staying over,” he interrupted, getting out of the room.
This was a bad idea. A terrible, horrible idea.
Too felt like his whole body was about to explode. He just wanted to sleep for a while, but instead he’d have to think about Un all night long.
After dinner, they sat down in the garden and didn’t talk for a while.
“Are you okay?” Un couldn’t help but ask. “You’ve been pretty out of it tonight.”
Too looked at him with a tired smile. “I’m just tired, P’.”
“Then go sleep. Don’t stay up for me.”
“I can’t do that knowing you’re here to spend time with me,” he replied.
“How noble of you,” Un teased. “You look sort of sad, though. Is it because you broke up with your girlfriend?”
Too stared at him in shock. “How do you know that, P’?”
“You think I don’t see your instagram posts?” his brows shot up on his forehead.
Too felt a blush creep up his face. He couldn’t talk about love with him. “We broke up a while ago, though. I don’t have feelings for her anymore.”
Suddenly, for the first time, Too thought about the possibility that Un had moved on. It hurt even thinking about it. He had to make sure it wasn’t the case.
“What about you, P’? Did you date anyone during my absence?”
Un’s gaze was redirected to the ground. “Yeah. It was very brief and I didn’t have feelings, though. It ended a while ago too.”
“So…” his voice was trembling. “You don’t like anyone at the moment?”
It seemed to take some strength for Un to look back at him. “You know I do.”
Un’s heart skipped a few beats. He thought he was going to die.
“I…” He got up, “I actually think I’m going to go sleep like you suggested. Don’t make too much noise when you come into my room,” he declared, basically running away, feeling Un’s burning gaze on his back.
Too felt a dip in the bed about ten minutes after he ‘went to sleep’. He realized he hadn’t prepared a mattress for Un, so his senior thought he was supposed to sleep with him.
This absolutely didn’t help him go to sleep.
He wanted to cry. The exhaustion was making him go crazy. He needed to sleep, but he couldn’t. Not with Un behind him, not after he knew he still liked him.
This little game went on for an hour, Too moving a lot during that period of time, until Un said something.
“I thought you were exhausted.”
Too turned on his back, looking at the ceiling. Un was turned in his direction, staring at his profile.
“I can’t sleep with you next to me,” he replied, voice hoarse.
He didn’t reply.
Un sighed. “Did you even read my letter?”
Too closed his eyes. He wanted the bed to swallow him whole.
“What do you think?” he declared, turning to look at him.
“Why didn’t you say anything about it?” Un looked incredibly small next to him. It was a first.
Too felt a little angry. He didn’t really know why. “Because, contrarily to you, I don’t like to make reckless declarations to people who are five thousand kilometers away.”
Un looked shocked. “Well, we’re not kilometers away from each other now,” he said. “So you can tell me what you think of it.”
Too sighed, closing his eyes. Was he ruining his relationship with Un on the first day he came back?
“It was incredibly selfish,” he responded. “You write that I should meet new people and enjoy my trip but you reveal your feelings so I can only think about you.”
Un looked sad. Heartbroken, maybe. Too could see it at the way his jaw was shut down.
“Well, you still found a girlfriend, so it didn’t change anything.”
Too’s anger came back. “We broke up because of you, asshole. She could see...” He cut himself off.
Un was suddenly closer to him, both laying bodies almost touching, breaths mixing.
“She could see?” He pressed.
“You know the answer,” Too whispered, staring at him.
“I don’t. Say it clearly,” Un replied with a shaky voice.
Too closed his eyes, and exhaled. He needed to say it.
“I’ve got feelings for you too, asshole.”
Un kissed him before he could open his eyes again, mouth wanting and hands holding his face softly. Too always thought it’d feel weird, kissing Un. To his surprise, it felt just right.
They stopped to breathe again, their foreheads resting against one another. Too passed his arms around Un’s chest and held him, head resting on his arm.
“Is it real?” Un asked, still breathless.
“I hope it is,” he replied, head detaching from his chest to kiss him again.
Too woke up at three in the afternoon in an empty bed. For a minute, he thought about the possibility of last night having been a dream.
But then he turned to look at the door where Un was standing with a smile and a cup in hand, and his fears calmed down.
He had missed that. The feeling of his bed against his back. Being next to Un in real life.
This felt very new, though. They had admitted their feelings to each other and kissed, so they were probably dating now.
“You didn’t quite sleep 24 hours, but you were close,” Un joked.
Too yawned loudly. “I feel great. I needed this.”
Un put the cup on his bedside table and sat on his side of the bed.
“You know you fell asleep while I was pouring my whole heart to you,” he declared.
Too’s eyes widened. “Really?! I’m sorry, P’. I don’t remember much.”
Un suddenly looked worried. “You do… remember…?”
“The fact that you’re head over heels in love with me and you couldn’t stop kissing me?” He joked. “Yes, I do.”
Un huffed loudly. “Liar, you were the one who kept kissing me.”
“Sure,” he smirked.
They fell silent for a moment, Too sipping on his drink while staring at the opposite wall.
“I didn’t think this would ever happen, you know,” Un confessed.
“What? Us?” Too looked back at him. “I didn’t think it either, though I hoped you’d still like me.”
“You know, when you left for Australia I was heartbroken. I had just met you months ago, I had finally found someone I really liked, and you were leaving like that,” Un explained. “I admit, the letter was a little selfish. I just couldn’t wait a whole year before telling you. But when you never talked to me about it… I concluded you just didn’t like me this way.”
“What good would it have done?” Too responded. “It’s not like we could’ve done anything if I talked about it, so I decided to stay silent. I was also pretty busy, meeting new people and all.”
“You’re right. I tried to move on, though, but it didn’t work.”
They were holding hands now, staring at their laced fingers. Too smiled. “Me too.”
“Too,” Un murmured.
Too looked back at him softly.
“Please, be my boyfriend. It might be rushed -”
“P’,” Too interrupted, a finger brought to Un’s mouth. “I accept.”
“You do? But you just came home,” he tried to be the voice of reason.
“I’ve waited a year for that, P’, I won’t wait a minute longer,” he smiled, kissing him tenderly.
As they detached before deepening it further, Un teased: “11 months, don’t be dramatic.”
“Sure, I’m the dramatic one,” he replied. “You’re the one who wrote a freaking confession letter.”
“That’s true”, Un laughed, kissing him once again.
Though that year away had been the best of his life, Too was so glad to be back.
This was another sort of perfect.