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we were good until we weren't

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‘… First met when we were in freshman year, both of us were late for the first meeting with seniors so we had to stay in the backline ...’

‘ … Of course, it’s me who reaches out first. I nudged his arm with mine and then asked his name. After the event, I asked his line ID so we could text each other ...’

 

In terms of sanity and holding back against his will for the sake of pride, Third could do it for most of the time. He rarely let himself act reckless and be impulsive over something that’s out of his prediction. But then Khai happened. Khai is always been Third’s Achilles heel, he lets Khai do whatever he wants with him. They would be going to the cinema just because Khai was bored not knowing the fact that Third has some errands to do for the theater club. Then he ditched Third because some girl just contact him to meet up. Third receive all of the horrible side and acts from Khai, yet he still wants to wrap himself in Khai’s arm.

What a fool.

Third managed to call a cab on the side of the road after he rushed out from the bar. On his way back, tears never stop streaming down to his cheeks. His vision is blurred by a huge amount of water that pools in the corner of his eyes. He hates Khai. He confirmed, so certain and positive. But what he hates the most is himself who can’t say no to his ex-boyfriend. Or still boyfriend, now that he remembered that he never break up with Khai, that Khai still thinks they are in a relationship.

Third calmly swipe his cheeks and take a deep breath. An idea passes in his head and without thinking twice Third taps the driver to change his destination.

Forty minutes later, Third get out of the car and calmly went inside the apartment building. He is familiar with the building despite only come here once. Third press the button in the elevator to get him on the fifth floor. He doesn’t hesitate to knock on a wooden door in front of him knowing the fact that he comes without invitation.  But Sarawat said he’s always welcome here , Third think. A justification, he may say, but he doesn’t care, doesn’t want to think further.

“Wat?” Third keep knocking, but there’s no answer. He bites his bottom lips. Great. He doesn’t know why he felt disappointed since it’s him who come without notice. Who will guarantee Sarawat’s in the house? None. Suddenly he feels dumb about himself, about what just happened, about everything. Really. Third gives his last time to knock only to prove himself that he’s dumb.

“Sarawat, are you there?” Third called, again. Yet he doesn’t hear any sound from the inside of the apartment. Third sigh. Lifting one his hand again but then put it back down.  ‘It’s useless,’  muttered him and then proceed to leave.

Maybe he should’ve not come here in the first place. Third only just manage to take one step before he heard something muffling inside the apartment and then the door in front of him is open.

Tine gasps, “Third?”

The little one snapped, “Oh, hi,” Third said suddenly feel awkward. He doesn’t expect this, more like he forgot about Tine. “Is Sarawat there?” he asked.

Tine puzzled, “Wat is in Tokyo doing a show?” he tells Third, totally confused since the other man is supposed to know about it already.

There is a blaring sound inside Third’s head, “oh, right,” he answered, “I’m sorry Tine, really, I- I don’t know what come into me, totally forgot that Wat is away,”

“No, no, it’s fine. Have you contacted him though? I could deliver him a message if you want, he’s probably asleep right now,”

Third shifts his gaze to his phone, and that successfully makes him feel even stupider, “oh my god I’m so  so  sorry Tine, I don’t- I know I should’ve not come here,” Third groans, it’s in the middle of the night. No wonder Tine took a long time to answer his door. Third prompt a loud sigh, “I’m so sorry, I’ll just leave-“

“No, that’s not- you know what? Just come in,”

Third look at Tine, now he finally sees the person in front of him clearly. Tine in his pajamas, his hair sticks out everywhere combined with his wary face. “Are you sure?” asked Third as he furrows his eyebrows.

“yes,” Tine assured him, making space for third to come in. “let me get you a cup of tea,” he adds, making Third shifts his body inside, and finally Tine closes the doors behind him.

“Have a seat, Third” Tine points at the sofa in the living room, everything is still the same since the last time he visits. Third obeys, while Tine goes to the kitchen making tea for both of them. Only a couple of minutes yet Third can feel like he’s bothering Tine. This situation is so stupid that Third think he is being foolish right now. Third planned to apologize again and then ask for leave.

Third still taking his mental notes when Tine appears with two cups of tea. Tine puts one cup on the table right in front of Third, “drink.” Tine tells him.

Third takes his cup and managed to thank Tine before taking a sip, “um, Tine?”

The other man look at Third, a gesture telling him that Third got his full attention, “yeah? Feel better?”

Third nods, “thank you for letting me in, I don’t know what to do if you’re not and I really appreciate it,”

Third expect Tine to scoffs, even swat his words away but the man just smiles at him. Third find sincerity in it. “You are very welcome third,” he said without looking away, “now, will you tell me what happened?”

Third avert his gaze, looking straight at his cup above his tight. His point finger circling the cup while Third thinks of a word and how to deliver it to Tine.

“I saw him today,” Third finally tells him, looking at Tine with an unreadable expression, “at work.” Third add, “Apparently he direct the commercial film I got in,”

“How do you feel?” Tine asked him, pure curious.

Third bites his bottom lip and mutters, “I don’t know Tine,” he sighs, “at first I was shocked, obviously, and then angry seeing that he seems fine. But when I ponder about it more, there’s only one feeling left,” Third silently moves his gaze and place it on Tine. The other man can see tears pooling on the corner of Third’s eyes, ready to fall again.

“I miss him, Tine,” There is bitterness on Third’s tongue when he said that. Third hasn’t managed to swallows back his tears, hence the waterfalls make their appearance again on Third’s cheeks. Tine scoots closer, proceed to put his cup down only to put his arm around Third’s shoulder.

“Tell me again why you hate him in the first place, Third?” Tine asked him, there’s no judgment in his tone thus Third thinks Tine will never judge him, or maybe he will but at least not straight to his face. Either way, Third feels safe with Tine.

“He doesn’t love me,” Third begin, “he only agreed to date me because he was afraid of losing me as his friend. He never- he didn’t see me as a lover even after we date.”

“And how did you know that?”

Third went silent. Tine question is very simple, is the common thing people will ask when they talk about this stuff. But Third can’t find the answer, fail to meet the words he needs to deliver.

“Did you ever ask him, Third?” Tine asked him again. This one successfully making Third gasp as he just realizes something.

Third shakes his head, “no, I didn’t-“ he mutters, “but I heard him talk with Bone, say that if I and Khai were dating, he’d probably accept me only because he doesn’t want me to leave him,”

“Did the word really come out from his mouth?”

Third gapes at Tine with horror in his face, “no- it was, that was Bone’s”

Tine prompts a simple smile, the one filled with perceptivity and satisfaction. “You should talk to him directly, Third.” Tine tells him, “not right now of course,” he adds while chuckles at his own words.

“Take your time, whenever you’re ready. But please do talk to him, okay?”

Third doesn’t know why he finds Tine’s words very persuading. To him listening every question and word from Tine, Third never feels pressured to answer yet he always obeys and manages to find his own voice replying to everything Tine’s asked or suggested.

Third look at the other man with his puppy eyes, now feeling a lot better. “Thank you, Tine. I owe you a lot.”

Tine pulls Third into his arm and pats his back several times, “no need, Third. You don’t owe me anything.”

Third sigh, somehow he felt the weight on his shoulder has been lifted. He is relieved after talking with Tine as if the man has some magic to make Third feel better. “Can I stay here for a while? I mean, I know I’ve been bothering you, but I don’t feel like going home in this hour-“

“You’re not bothering anyone, Third.” Tine cuts his words, “you can stay here as long as you need to.”

“Only for the morning,”

“Okay then, I’m going to get you a pillow and blanket.”

“Thanks, Tine,” Third tells him, “really, deep from my heart. Thank you so much.” He adds again, filled with sincerity.

‘… We formed a gang, actually, back when we were in college. We called ourselves Gang Hod because we ace each subject in film major. Me, Third, and two other friends, one of them is my co-founder, my work-partner, Bone. And the other is Two, a photographer who just held an exhibition at Modern Art Gallery last week ...’

‘… We promised to build our own house production then life happened and makes us drift away after we graduated …’

‘Not me and Bone cause we made ourselves famous without you …’

 

Like a déjà vu, Khai heard a long constant bang on his door. He groans as he’s trying to ignore the ruckus outside, mentally take a guess assuming that’s Bone again, harassing his front door so Khai won’t be getting enough sleep after his long night before.

“GO AWAY BONE!” Khai exclaim, covering his head with one pillow to prevent another voice from coming into his ear. But nope. The constant bang is coming back, Khai lets out a loud sigh, and surely his friend never listens to him.

Khai gets out from his blanket and groans, “Fuck,” one of his hand touch the side of his head, aching, courtesy amount of alcohol he consumed last night. “Fuck my life,” he muttered, hearing the banging on his door again.

“Alright stop it, Bone, I’m coming,” Khai tells him, manage to walk despite the ache he felt in his head.

Khai opens his door and can’t help to look puzzled.  I am hallucinating again , he thought to himself. Khai squints his eyes, disbelief at what his eyes perceive as he makes space for the man in front of him to get in.

“Uh, come in. I need to wash and take some aspirin first. Hangover.” Khai tells his guest while he takes some steps away heading to the bathroom.

Fifteen minutes passed, Khai wiped his face with a towel out from the bathroom and drank his pill with loads of mineral water. His eyes wander searching for his guest, knowing the fact that Bone would just sit in his usual spot on the desk near the kitchen. But Khai sees no one.

The man walks out of the kitchen to find Third sitting on his sofa. Third.  His Third .

Khai clears his throat, gaining Third attention, and say, “you are not Bone,”

Third lift both of his eyebrows, “and you are not…. Two.” He answered, his voice fades out in each word he manage to say.

Khai scratches the back of his head, a total awkward after finding that he wasn’t hallucinating earlier. That his vision didn’t lie to him, it is really Third who’s currently sitting on his sofa in his living room right now.

“Do you want coffee? Or maybe tea? I don’t think I have one though but I can search, maybe Bone left some in-“

“Khai,” Third calls him, the voice is calm, and gaze never leave Khai. Third’s voice reaches his ears, successfully makes Khai shiver. He felt sudden waves inside his chest. Butterflies, thousands of them, flying in his stomach after such a long time up until he thought that he’s dying.

“Yes?” Khai managed to answer with a small voice. Almost doesn’t believe in himself.

“Come here, we need to talk- I need to talk to you.” Third said, eyes filled with a plea, and Khai swears he can see the wariness, the guilt, and honesty. But the man only searches for one.

Therefore, Khai follows what Third said as the little man bows his head. He sits across Third, “are you sure you don’t want coffee?” Khai asked him, actually try to lower the tense that’s been dancing around them because he can’t stand another second without passing out if it’s still high, on edge.

Third looks at Khai, meet the taller man’s gaze since Khai never look away, “coffee’s great,” Third complies, giving the other man smile along with his dimples on both cheeks.

Cute , Khai thought. For a few seconds, the man left in awe because of the expression Third gave him. Khai blinks multiple times and then proceeds to make two cups of coffee in the kitchen.

“I only have instant coffee, okay Third?”

“It’s fine Khai, anything’s fine.” Third answer is fast. In the meantime, the little man’s playing with his fingers, courtesy of his anxiety that’s suddenly rise. Third looks at his own feet, toes rising up and down, contemplating if he’s doing the right thing or not. Yet his head tells him, might as well go on with his original plans anyway since he is in Khai apartment now. There’s no going back.

Stepping sounds slightly make Third startled, Khai’s done with the coffee and now put one of the cups in front of Third.

“Thanks,” Thir murmurs, and Khai just smiles at him.

“So,” Khai starts after taking a sip of his coffee.

Third inhales, “so,”

“You said you want to talk,” Khai reminds him, “to me,” Third nods at Khai’s words, “what is it about?”

Third grimaces, he can’t stop playing with his fingers (now, nails) and Khai notices that. Fidgeting, Third is nervous. There are fifteen seconds of silence given by Khai because he knows that the little man needs more time to find his words.

“It’s okay, Third, it’s only me,” Khai tells him, an offer of comfort. It’s almost like reflect because Khai has known the little man for a long time, spent his college years with him, even live in an apartment after they got together for a year before Third decided to leave—left him.

Third lets out a half scoff-half chokes, “it’s because I am talking to you, Khai.” Third says, manage to shake his head in an attempt to clear his mind. Shoving away the fogs inside his head so he could get a clearer picture and finally talk.

“You can tell me anything, you know that,” Khai responds, Third’s words don’t make sense to him. The taller man starts to think that Third now doesn’t feel comfortable around him anymore, that all of those years they spent together gone like fire ashes.

Third inhales, “I’m sorry, Khai,” he starts, eyes finding Khai’s, puzzled.

Khai lets out a sharp breath and shoves his hair back, “look, if it’s about last night, please don’t-“

“No,” Third exclaim before Khai go further, “no, Khai, it’s about three years ago,”

Khai went silent, “oh,”

Third bites his bottom lip, again, anxiety creeping inside him way harder than before. “I know probably you are mad at me, hell, I think that’s the reason why you started the production house anyway, to gets back at me, right?” Third find Khai nods at his words then continues, “Khai, please tell me you knew why I left,” Third clasps his hand and join them on his thigh, looking at Khai as if his answer to Third’s question is the most important, hoping Khai had an actual idea of why Third did this to him.

“No,” Khai answered him, more like a whisper because it’s hard for Khai to find his own voice in this sudden confrontation. “Maybe you grew tired of me,” he adds, shrugging. “maybe you just didn’t want to be around me anymore, I’ve always known that I am hard to handle so I could figure that maybe you’re just tired, or I was tiring, or whatever, I don’t know Third- I mean, how am I supposed to know you when you left me without words? You were gone, Third, you-“

“I know, I’m sorry. I-“ Third doesn’t even realize that he’s is tearing up until one or some of his tears falls on to his palm, “I don’t deserve your forgiveness, I know, but still I’m sorry for everything, for throwing away what we had before if we ever did actually have something, for leaving you behind. It is entirely my fault, It’s none of yours, not because you’re tiring Khai, not at all,” Third replies, completely disagree with what Khai just said.

“Then tell me, Third,” Khai gets up only to come closer, on his knees in front of Third. Khai lets one of his hands reach the little man’s face to wipe his tears gently, “why did you leave me?” Khai asks, painfully in a slow tone that Third swears that it feels like someone just jab him with the sharpest knife on earth.

“I thought you didn’t love me,” Third lets out a loud sob, closing his eyes only to make more tears stream down onto his cheeks. More waterfall.

Khai looks at the little man in pure confusion, manages to wipe more tears, and then rub the side of Third’s hair to soothe him, Third’s eyes open. “Silly, right?”

Khai shakes his head, “mind to elaborate, Third?”

Third slowly inhales, “I overheard you and Bone talking about us, say that you would only agree to date me because you don’t want to lose a best friend like me,” Third takes a second to breathe, “and then suddenly it makes sense to me because there’s no way you would commit in a serious relationship with me when you had so many girls lining up for you, way prettier and better than me.” Third knows he may look like he’s giving some justification towards what he had done, but Khai wants him to elaborate so he keeps continuing, “you’ve been straight all along anyway, maybe that’s why too, you didn’t want to expose our relationship and keep it to ourselves despite we’ve been together for a year that time. Your several scandals with women celebrities after we parted proves my point too,

But this doesn’t justify my action though. I know I should’ve talked to you first. Communication is a key, but I guess I am bad at it.” Third end his rambles, finally takes one of Khai’s hands on his side face and squeezes it softly. “I’m truly sorry,” he tells Khai, eyes filled with nothing but sincerity and hope.

There’s a long pause that sure feels like an eternity for Third. despite knowing that Khai may not forgive him, the little man can’t help to hope.

“For the record, I never told Bone  that ,” Khai’s voice finally comes into his ears, with a face in a grimace, “I love you, Third. I loved you and I love you, I don’t need those pretty girls when I had you. I only want you,” he takes a deep amount of oxygen, “I am being honest with you,” Khai took their entangled hand and place Third’s palm on his chest, “feel it,” he tells Third.

The little man can feel Khai’s heart thumping in a race as if the other one has been running. “Beating so fast,” Third response gaining slight chuckles from Khai.

“Only for you, Third.” Khai replied, successfully makes Third blush.

Third blinks several times, clearing his vision from the trace of tears, and then laughs, “you’re so corny,” swats Khai’s hands away.

Khai laughs too, joining Third who seems more comfortable now, “just say you like it,”

Third shakes his head, disbelief yet enjoys hearing Khai’s laugh because it’s been way too long since the last time he heard one.

“I miss you,”

Khai sighs and puts his head on Third’s shoulder, “like crazy, Third.”

The little man smiles, “so, are we okay now?” he asked and Khai only hums in answer. Third sneaks his hand around Khai’s shoulder, pats the back of his head several times only to make Khai snuggles his face more on him.

“I want to kiss you,” Khai murmurs, and Third shivers at his words. The man can feel Third’s body going tense for while so he pulls his head to look straight at Third’s eyes, “can I kiss you?”

They are so close, a few inches away and Third can feel Khai’s breath on his cheeks. Gave in, Third nods and closes his eyes slowly. In a split of seconds, Third feel something soft pressing his lips, Khai’s. This one is completely different from the kiss they had last night. No scent of alcohol, no dizziness, just them. Khai moves a little, tilt his head to press more, testing the water before opens his mouth to suck Third’s upper lip. Third reciprocates his moves, slightly open his lips only to allow Khai’s dipping more. Khai’s lips taste like coffee he just drank. Instead of bitter, Third finds it’s unalienably sweet. Khai swallows his groan at the same time with Third decides to push his tongue and meet Khai’s in the process.

Third clenches his fist on Khai’s shirt, and the other man hasn’t stop tracing every part of Third’s lips until both of them are out of breath. Third taps Khai’s shoulder as a sign for him to stop, that the little man needs to breathe, both of them do. In slight annoyance, Khai pulls himself only to sulk that successfully gaining chuckles from Third.

“What a baby,”

“Don’t blame me, I haven’t got a kiss for three years.” He has a point, Third ducks his head and rolls his eyes.

“Okay,” Third doesn’t want to argue and ruin the moment they had here.

“Hey, Third?” Khai calls him, and Third hums to tell him that he’s listening.

“Are we still boyfriend, then?”

Third stunned, not expected this question to come up, to be honest never expect Khai to accept his apology. “I don’t know, are we?”

Khai frowns, “we never break up so you’re still my boyfriend.”

“Okay,” Third agrees, can’t help to grin from ear to ear, mirroring Khai’s expression.

“Tell me,” Khai asks

“I’m your boyfriend,”

“And?”

Third scoffs a little before continue, “You are mine,”

“Good,” Khai kisses Third all over his face, starting from forehead to cheeks to nose and last, his lips. Makes a loud smooch sound after. “I’m telling Bone and Two,” he adds and Third knows he isn’t asking for permission.

“Sounds good to me,” Third replies, still smiling now flushed, face completely red.

 

 

‘ … regarding our latest post on social media, we’d like to confirm that, yes, we are having a serious relationship. I am serious with you, Third, please take a footnote and we would like to ask for your blessing so I and Third could stay together for more than thirty years … more than thirty years is way certain than forever anyway … ‘

‘… We’ve been dating for six months-

‘Four years—‘

 

‘… Right, four years and six months …’