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Off Jumpol has hired his best friend to work in his shop and is immediately regretting all of his decisions. Tay is far too friendly. To everyone. And talks too much. And now Off has to listen to Tay talk all day instead of just when Tay stops by or they hang out in the evenings or when they’re, well, in the apartment they share above the bookstore. Off should’ve realized he sees enough of Tay already.

Plus, Tay being here all the time means that whenever Gun stops by, Tay is all friendly to Gun. And Gun is also friendly. And Off has to watch Tay and Gun being all friendly to each other and Tay talks so much and then Gun and Tay are talking and—

Okay. He already covered that part.

Still.

He doesn’t like it.

It’s great they’re friends.

It’s just…

No. It’s fine.

Really.

Totally fine.

Today, Tay has walked in without knocking anything down, which is nice, but Tay seems extra happy and Off is too tired for it.

“Ai’Tay, why are you like this?” Off grumbles.

“Like what?” Tay asks, pushing books back into place.

“So…” Off gestures.

Tay scowls at him, which is better. “What’s wrong with you, Peng?”

Off shrugs. The day goes on and, ultimately, he and Tay are having a good time.

In fact, everything seems to be going very well, other than Tay not letting him scold the college kids who come in. Which, actually, is for the best. The students end up buying a lot of books.

Then, Gun walks in.

Gun walks in often, but he’s dressed differently. It takes Off a moment to put his finger on what exactly it is that’s making Gun looks so… Well. Gun looks different. It’s because his clothes are far more fitted than usual, which makes him look taller and slimmer and older and more mature and just...different.

Gun looks different.

“Pet, you look great!” Tay calls, before Off can form words. “Is this for your date tonight?”

Gun nods.

“You have a date?” Off asks, then realizes his voice was too loud and he tries again. “What are you doing for your date? Who are you going out with?”

“Peng, it’s not an interrogation.” Tay throws an arm around Gun’s shoulder.

“What does Papii think?” Gun asks.

Off has long stopped scolding Gun for calling him that. He shrugs. “You look alright.”

Gun seems a bit disappointed, but he turns his attention back to Tay, and he smiles and they chat and Off doesn’t want to see either of them anymore.

“I think I’m going to close early today,” Off says.

They turn to look at him, Tay pausing, processing. “It’s alright, Jum. I can close up if you need to go out.”

That’s right. Tay can close the shop if he’s not there. Which means he can’t kick them out.

Off sits there silently for a few minutes, sulking.

No. Not sulking. There’s no reason for him to be sulking.

Except… Except because his friends are too friendly with each other and not him.

Whatever.

Off is leaving.

He goes to Gunsmile’s and they smoke a joint and watch a movie and every once in while Off thinks about Gun’s date, which he gets stuck on for a bit until Gunsmile asks him about the movie and Off realizes he hasn’t been watching.

By the time he walks back to the shop and therefore his connected apartment, the shop is closed and he finds Tay in the kitchen, cooking who knows what.

“Gunsmile’s?” Tay guesses, probably by the smell.

Off nods and goes to flop down on the couch.

“Gun is on his date,” Tay continues.

Off’s too high to flinch, even if his mind feels it, has to exert all his energy into turning his face to the back of the couch.

Tay takes a seat on the chair. “He’s going out with this guy Oab,” Tay says.

Off grunts. “The guy you’re always arguing with?”

“That’s him,” Tay says. “He’s great.”

Off’s amusement dies before it gets a chance to live and he closes his eyes. “Great,” he repeats.

Tay nudges him and he grunts, but Tay’s food smells good and Off rouses himself to eat.

They play games and Off goes to sleep feeling weird but not sure why.

He wakes still feeling anxious and Tay makes breakfast. They open up the shop and Off thinks Gun might stop by, but then he remembers Gun went on some stupid date the night before so maybe Gun won’t be in today or Gun won’t be in until much later, when he gets back from Oab’s.

Off starts sorting through a stack of new arrivals.

Maybe Gun will be here soon and the date went horribly and he can make fun of Gun for going out with Oab in the first place.

Every time the door opens, Off makes sure he’s as disinterested as possible, but it’s not Gun. Which, like. It’s not like it matters. Off isn’t waiting for anyone or anything in particular.

It’s nearing the end of the day and Tay is about to flip the sign when Off hears Tay say, “Nong Gun!”

Off’s eyes are at the door before he has the time to remember he doesn’t care. His eyes meet Gun’s and Off looks down again, at his phone.

“How was the date?” Off sees Tay tickling Gun in his peripheral vision. “Did Nong Oab give you a good time? Is that why you’re coming here so late? Did he drop you off? Did you spend the night? Tell me everything, Pet.”

“Er.”

Off feels Gun’s eyes on him, so he looks up again and Gun looks away this time, back to Tay.

“Ohhh, you don’t want to tell me in front of your Papii. It must be juicy then. Let’s go get some food,” Tay suggests. Tay calls to Off, “Alright, Peng. I’ll be back later, but I’ll lock the door behind me.”

“Bye, Papii,” Gun says.

Uh.”

It’s the only reply Off can muster.

Then the door is closing and the lock clicks.

So Gun spent the night with Oab. Which means Gun will probably go out with Oab again and maybe Oab will be Gun’s boyfriend. Does that mean Off will see more of Oab? Less of Gun? Both?

It’s not any of Off’s business but...okay. Yeah. Gun is Off’s friend and Off likes seeing him and Off doesn’t know how Oab will treat Gun. Tay’s voice is in his head saying Oab is great, but Off ignores it.

He lets out a sigh and slams his phone down on the counter.

He’s about to turn off the lights when there’s a tap at the door. Ugh. A customer? They’re closed. Did Tay not flip the sign before he locked up?

Off is going to ignore it, but there’s another tap, and Off walks over to wave them away.

When he gets closer, however, he realizes it’s Gun. He hesitates, but opens the door. “What the hell—”

Gun bounces up and wraps his arms around Off. “Gun hadn’t hugged Papii yet today,” Gun says against Off’s neck.

Off tentatively hugs Gun back. “Ai’Gun,” he scolds, but he feels his lips twitch and forces a frown, furrows his brows. When Gun lets go, his arms are slow to respond and he holds Gun a bit too long.

Looking up into Off’s face, Gun says, “Okay. Well. Bye again, Papii. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Off shrugs. “If you want.”

Gun smiles at him and looks like he wants to say something else, but he turns away.

Off watches Gun until he meets up with Tay at the corner. Off’s not as anxious as he was, but something is still itching at his brain. He heads to his room and plays games on his phone, transitions to the computer when Mond texts him, tells him Tay can join, too.

“Peng is with Nong Gun,” Off says over the voicechat.

“Ooh, talking about P’Gun’s date?” Mond asks.

“How would I know?” Off says, annoyed.

“Uh, okay, okay,” Mond allows, laughing, and they get on with the game.

Tay gets back a couple of hours later, joins for a game, and the question comes up again.

“How does it go?” Tay asks. “‘I don’t kiss and tell’?” He realizes his phrasing. “Not that I was kissing Nong Gun! Just that it’s not my place to tell you who he was kissing—or if he was kissing anyone!”

“I’m surprised P’Gun didn’t keep you out longer,” Nanon says.

“Nong Gun had to go home and check on his dog since he stayed over at—” Tay shuts himself up. “Oi! Peng! Why are you attacking me?”

They don’t talk about Gun for the rest of the game, which is for the best. After all, Tay already told everyone way more than they ever needed to know. No one needs to think about Oab and Gun kissing or the fact that Gun stayed over at Oab’s house, so there was likely more than kissing involved.

By the time they’re done playing, it’s way past when Tay and Off should be asleep in order to open the next morning, but it is what it is.

In fact, Tay lets Off sleep and opens by himself.

When Off gets into the bookstore, Tay is excitedly talking about some wildlife documentary he’d seen with a customer, but at least the customer is near the relevant books. After he lets them go, he spots Off.

“You just missed Nong Gun,” he says, “but he brought us something.” Tay goes behind the counter and pulls out a tupperware container, waves it at Off. “Cookies again, but they’re better this time.”

Off huffs, amused, remembering the first time Gun had attempted baking, had been so excited to share with Off. “Is he coming back?”

Tay shrugs. “He only stopped in for a minute. He looked dressed up so maybe he had another date today.”

“There are plenty of reasons to get dressed up, Peng,” Off says, taking the container from Tay’s hands. “Especially if you’re Gun. He’ll get dressed up to stay home.”

Tay laughs. “It’s true. And he loves taking pictures and clips. I stopped by once and ended up in a TikTok with Nong Pim.”

“Mh.” Off opens up the container and examines the cookies. He picks one up and takes a bite. It’s actually really good this time, and he thinks about Gun trying so hard to get better at baking, how once Off had said he was fond of sweets, Gun started bringing things over.

The first time Gun had come in, he’d been looking through books with his friend Jennie and she had directed him to the LGBT section, squealing as she explained the plot of some novel to him.

Off hadn’t been sure whether Gun was into it or humoring her until he brought one up to the counter and asked Off whether or not it was good.

“People seem to like it,” Off had told him. “I haven’t seen you here before.”

“I just moved to the apartment across the street with my sister,” Gun had said.

“Ohooo, so you’re my new neighbor. I live right above. Here, I’ll give you a neighborly discount if you promise you’ll come back and tell your friends,” Off had said.

Gun had ducked his head and agreed.

And had started coming in often after that, although he didn’t buy that many books.

Before Tay worked here, Gun would stop by for little bits of time, every once in a while it’d be two or three visits in a day as he asked Off random questions about the neighborhood or asked about books his younger sister might like or just wanted to ask Off about his day. He’d also talk about himself, and, at some point, Off had become “Papii” instead of “P’Off” and Off can’t quite remember why, but he thinks there was a reason.

Tay had walked in on Gun clinging to Off’s arm while Gun shared pictures of his new dog and Off had needed to explain that Gun was a customer and a neighbor and a friend, but not anything else. Obviously.

From first meeting, Tay and Gun got on like a house on fire, but Gun made it clear that his Papii was still a priority, even when Off complained about all the physical affection.

Off is a bit disappointed he missed out on seeing Gun today, had only seen him for a second last night, and even the night before he’d only seen Gun’s outfit for his date.

It’s been a while since they’ve talked. Well, a while for Gun-time, since it used to be multiple times per day. He was supposed to see Gun today. That’s what Gun had said. But he guesses Gun got busy, if he was dressed up and only stopped by long enough to leave a tupperware.

Off seals up the cookies again and shoves them back under the counter.

As it approaches evening, the sky darkens quickly, the rain coming. At this time of day, they’ll probably get some extra business from the people already out, looking for shelter. It should more than make up for the loss from those who decide to stay in, who would’ve specifically come in for specific books and complained annoyingly at Off if he didn’t have them.

Off lets Tay do his thing and makes smalltalk about the weather with those inclined, leads them to the books they’ll probably like or the ones that everyone seems to be reading these days.

Under other circumstances, Off wouldn’t be nearly so friendly, and still sometimes it comes out, but he wants to make a profit and he doesn’t need Ai’Tay scolding him for scaring people away again.

The door opens and closes with some regularity and someone tugs at Off’s hand, making him flinch, but he turns to find Gun there, looking pretty drenched.

“Ai’Gun,” he warns, but lets Gun have his hand again for a second. He pulls away, adds, “Hold on.”

Off runs up to his and Tay’s place to get something, runs back to find Gun waiting near the back, where their apartment connects.

“Here,” Off says, holding out a towel, but Gun just stares, so Off takes it and starts rubbing it over Gun’s head, drying his hair and mussing it at the same time, knowing Gun will be annoyed and need to fix it.

On cue, Gun’s whine of, “Papii!” is followed by Gun taking up the job himself. He’s pouting but it cracks into a smile. “Did Papii like the cookies Gun made?”

Off nods. “Delicious.”

Gun blushes, as he often does when Off compliments him or teases him. He seems prone to it. “I’m glad. Gun can make more next week. I don’t want Papii to eat too many sweets.” He pokes Off’s belly, a privilege only Gun has earned through repeated attempts, has worn Off down from stopping.

“Oi, you bring me sweets then tell me not to eat them. What kind of person are you?” Off says, but he’s happy, playing with Gun like this.

“A cute person,” Gun tells him, cheeks dimpling as he beams at Off.

Off takes a breath, blinks. “Uh. Right. A cute person.” He pinches Gun’s cheek. “A cute person who got stuck out in the rain. What were you doing?” Off asks, immediately regrets it, his face freezing as he tries to play it off. “Well, whatever. Get yourself dry. We can’t have cute people out there getting pneumonia.” He snatches the towel again and drops it on Gun’s head this time, covering Gun’s face.

“Hoiii, Papii,” Gun complains, but then he asks how Off is doing and they chat for a minute. Finally, he says, “Does Papii want to have dinner with Gun?” He hesitates, glances over. “Er. Papii and P’Tay.”

“Oh. Er. Tay has plans tonight,” Off says.

Gun shrugs, grabbing Off’s hand and swinging it back and forth. “So it can just be Gun and Papii?”

“Would—” Off bites his tongue, but Gun gives him a funny look. Off just shakes his head. “Nothing. Do you want to go out or order in?”

“At Papii’s?” Gun asks, glancing up, as if he can see through the ceiling.

Off nods, shrugs. “It’s raining. We could also go grab something and come back.”

Gun smiles. “Gun can go get food and meet Papii back here at closing, na?”

Off doesn’t know why that makes him laugh, but he does. “Uh, uh, uh. Sounds good.”

Tay has closed up, is upstairs getting ready, when Gun comes back.

Off lets Gun in and leads him to his and Tay’s living room. Gun sets down the bags of food on the coffee table and takes a seat on the other side of the couch from Off.

“Aow,” Tay says, emerging from his room. “Peng, you didn’t say Nong Gun would be here. Am I supposed to leave you alone with my precious pet?” He hugs Gun’s head and places a kiss to the top of Gun’s hair. “Will you be here when I get back?”

Gun looks at Off and Off says, “Will you be stumbling in at three a.m. with a ‘friend’?”

Tay turns red and whacks Off on the back of the head. “That only happened once, Jumpol.”

Gun giggles, eyes crinkling, and Tay pouts.

“Don’t believe him, nong. I am a fine, upstanding individual of charitable repute,” he says, and Gun frowns at his words, making Tay laugh. “I should be back by ten or eleven,” he claims.

Uh, go,” Off tells him. “Have a good time, Peng.”

With that, Tay gives Gun one last squeeze and heads out the door.

Leaving Off and Gun alone together.

They start in on the food and stick on a series and Gun snuggles up next to Off, but an alarm rings in Off’s mind and he scoots a fraction out of touch.

He pokes at the food. “Gun, shouldn’t you… Wouldn’t your boyfriend mind?”

Gun has a dumpling in his mouth as he lifts his shoulders, an awkward sort of shrug, takes a second to chew and swallow. “Oab asked if Gun wanted to go out again, but Oab isn’t Gun’s faen. We only really went out once, Papii.”

“But you slept with him. You slept over at his place,” Off returns, the second phrase perhaps a correction of the first or merely an addition, and Gun’s face does something weird, something visceral and hurt and embarrassed and angry and ashamed all at once. Off doesn’t get a chance to make sense of it before Gun is responding.

“Gun didn’t— What did P’Tay tell you?” Gun is flustered and Off is frustrated.

“He didn’t have to tell me anything,” Off says. “You spent the night with Oab. It’s not like you can deny it.”

Gun opens and closes his mouth, an impotent anger as he tries to figure out his next words.

“Whatever,” Off says. “You can do what you want.”

Gun scrambles up from the couch. “Right. Papii and Gun are just friends, so it’s none of Papii’s business anyway,” Gun says, but Off gets the impression Gun is crying and he feels awful.

But what is he supposed to do now? “Ai’Gun,” he says.

Gun slips out the door and Off hears his footsteps clatter down the stairs.

Off waits a minute, clenches his fist atop his knees, then walks down to make sure everything is locked up again.

Off returns and looks at the food still there on the coffee table, how Gun had brought things he knew Off likes, and it makes Off feel worse. His eyes feel hot and he blinks, frowns. “Whatever,” he repeats, as if still talking to Gun. “You can do what you want. Even if that means sleeping with Ai’Oab.”

No longer hungry, Off packs up the food and shoves it into the fridge. Something still seems wrong and Off packs the grinder for something to do, packs a bowl, smokes a bit. At least it’s a distraction. He can forget why he was feeling bad for long enough to get on a game with Nanon.

Tay returns home and looks around. “Where’s Nong Gun?”

“Left,” Off says, shrugging, eyes glued to the screen as he runs around, aims.

Off can feel Tay frowning at him, but Tay seems to realize now is not the time to press.

Tay heads in to shower and Off thinks for a second to complain, but...Tay is too close to Gun. Tay won’t understand.

Off doesn’t do much for the rest of the night, opens the shop early the next day.

Although he doesn’t expect Gun to show up, he still sort of does. After all, he hadn’t done anything wrong. He’d only mentioned that Gun was being too touchy and that Gun’s boyfriend wouldn’t like it. Gun was the one getting all bent out of shape claiming that the guy he’d slept with wasn’t his boyfriend.

Which, why did Gun sleep with Oab if he was going to be weird about it?

Ai’Oab.

Off scowls at nothing and Tay comes over to him. “Jumpol, you’re scaring away all the customers.” He lowers his voice. “Does this have something to do with Nong Gun?”

Off furrows his brows at Tay. “Why would it have anything to do with Ai’Gun?” Off snaps.

Tay glares. “Pet hasn’t been in today and I miss him, and you saw him last night. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.”

“It’s Gun’s choice whether he wants to come in here or not,” Off says. “If he didn’t come in today, it’s because he doesn’t want to. Maybe he’s spending time with his boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Tay repeats. “Who? Nong Oab?”

Off shrugs. “Yeah. Maybe he’s over there again.”

“Why? Is that what he said?” Tay asks, getting in close to gossip. “He said he wasn’t going to go out with Oab again.”

“Why? Bad in bed?” Off asks.

“I don’t— What?” Tay stares, jaw dropped. “I thought… Well… Pet doesn’t always like to say…”

Off snorts humorlessly. “Mh.” He leans back to stretch and sees the tupperware still there, with two cookies left. He shoves it at Tay. “Here, finish these so you can give the container back.”

Tay takes it, confused. “But…”

Off ignores Tay and a few customers come in and even though Off generally avoids speaking to them, he’d rather talk to customers than risk further conversation with Tay.

His mind drifts to Gun. Whom he should not be worried about because he did nothing wrong.

If anything, Gun is wrong because he—

Because.

Just because.

The day really drags.

And so does the next.

And then Tay begs Off if they can go to one of Singto’s parties and even though Off doesn’t like parties, there will be Krist and Gunsmile and Ssing and it should be...bearable. Nanon might be there, too, even though they all still see him as a bit of a baby.

The problem is that when they get there, Nanon is with Chimon and...with Gun.

They stand around for a while and Off exchanges greetings, jokes around, then escapes to smoke on the balcony with Gunsmile and Ssing.

A bit later, Gun arrives, which Off is alerted to because Ssing shouts, “P’Gun!”

Off glances at Gun and away, stares out at the city, vaguely aware of buildings and lights and the night sky.

“Ssing, Gunsmile,” Gun says, and Off wonders if Gun will greet him or ignore him.

Off is holding the joint though, so Gun is forced beside him at Gunsmile’s jostling.

Off flicks the ash down and hands it over, Gun’s hand touches his as he receives it and stares at it a second before taking a drag.

Immediately, Gun starts coughing and Off laughs, but pats Gun on the back, stealing the joint and giving it to Ssing.

Gunsmile wanders back inside too soon, bringing Ssing with him, although Ssing takes one last puff before pawning the joint onto Off again.

Then it’s just Off and Gun and Off expects Gun to return to his friends any second, but he’s still coughing, trying to clear his throat, his face red. Off opens up his bag and pulls out a water bottle, uncapping it and handing it over.

Gun takes a swig, then another.

“Here,” Off says, not thinking. He takes a long drag from the joint and hooks a finger under Gun’s chin, and Gun understands, opening his mouth for Off to blow him smoke. Gun pulls away and Off breathes out the rest. “Better?”

Gun nods, letting out another little cough, but it seems more a remnant from the fit.

“Hmph.” Flicking the ash once more, Off asks, “Want another or are you good?”

“Another,” Gun says immediately, making Off laugh.

“Alright.” So Off does it again, with Gun bouncing up to meet him this time. Their lips brush and Off keeps exhaling smoke, even if it startles him. It just happens sometimes. It’s not as if their lips haven’t already touched the same joint.

Gun doesn’t back up, his lips bump Off’s. “Sorry,” he mumbles after.

Off shakes his head. “It’s fine. It’s not like we kissed or anything.”

But then Gun’s lips are meeting his again, a hard, quick press. “But isn’t kissing nice?” Gun asks.

Off puts out the roach in an ashtray, shrugging. “I guess,” he says, feeling too shocked to know anything else.

“Gun thinks kissing is nice,” Gun continues. “The way it feels to have someone’s lips against your own. Soft.”

Off pulls in his own lips, biting at them. Gun is right. Kissing is nice.

“Could we kiss again?” Gun asks.

It sounds… Off shakes his head. “Nong, you’re a lightweight,” he says. “Let’s go get some food.”

Things seem better between them for the rest of the party, although Gun falls asleep on Singto’s couch.

It’s only after he gets home that Off realizes he probably just secondhand kissed Oab. And also he and Gun kissed. But like. They didn’t. But they did. Their lips touched when he was shotgunning smoke to Gun and then he’d made a comment and Gun had kind of kissed him on purpose then, but it wasn’t like…

It wasn’t a kiss.

They were just high and Gun was being impulsive and touchy like he always is.

The next day, the shop is closed.

Gun comes by anyway. “Papii, P’Tay, let’s do something fun,” he says.

“Like what?” Tay asks, then immediately lights up. “There’s a new restaurant not too far away, and a new movie out, and—”

Tay goes on and Off allows himself to be somewhat unwillingly dragged into the plans.

They get lunch and there’s a while before the film starts so they wander the mall and Gun is excited to shop, likes trying things on and asking the two of them what they think. At one point, he’s in the dressing room and calls to Off for assistance, but Off is embarrassed enough to have someone shouting “Papii” at him from inside the dressing room. There’s no way he’s going in.

Tay goes in and helps instead and Off listens to them struggling before eventually they both emerge and Tay is saying, “How is it my fault the zipper broke?”

Off probably should’ve gone in to help.

“P’Tayyy,” Gun whines, holding a jumpsuit together. “Papii, P’Tay broke it and it was the only one in Gun’s size.”

“Let me see,” Off tells him.

Gun lets go and Off comes up behind him, taking a look. It’s definitely caught, but it might be fixable. He skims his fingers along the inside of the zipper, up Gun’s spine coincidentally, and Gun shivers.

“Sorry. Are my hands cold?” Off asks, pulling the zipper away from Gun’s skin so he isn’t touching Gun for the moment.

Gun shakes his head. “Papii’s hands are warm,” Gun says in answer.

Off fiddles with the zipper a little longer and actually manages to get it working, zipping and unzipping it a few times as a test. “There.” He hesitates a second, then steps back.

Gun turns to look at Off. “What does Papii think? Cute?”

“Mh,” Off agrees. “Why do I always have to give my opinion on your outfits? Why don’t you ask—” But he doesn’t want to fight with Gun again so he doesn’t finish the question. “Uh. Cute.”

“So cute, Pet,” Tay gushes. He continues to make a bunch of suggestions.

Off and Tay end up trying some things on, too, and Gun blushes when Off emerges as he’s still working on the buttons.

“Gun can help since Papii helped me,” Gun says. He steps up and his eyes flicker up to Off’s before he concentrates only on the buttons.

“Oi, stop, stop. That’s good,” Off tells him, batting Gun’s hands away.

“Papii, that’s still a lot…” Gun’s words drift away as he stares at Off’s chest. He turns redder, pouting this time, and lets Off check himself out.

“Peng, you actually look great,” Tay says to Off. “But here.” He undoes one more button and Off laughs while Gun whines.

“What time is the movie?” Off asks Tay, who was in charge of keeping track.

Tay looks and his eyes go wide and Off immediately realizes their error.

Gun huffs. “P’Tay, we’re late, aren’t we?”

“No!” Tay says quickly. “But almost.” He chuckles, chagrined, and they all head to the theater.

Since they’re the last ones to arrive, their seats are already surrounded and there’s no time to figure anything out except getting in without being too big of a bother. All three of them are forced to apologize as they make their way through, everyone having to make room for them, and it’s then that Off realizes he’s farthest in, with Gun in between him and Tay.

And also that Tay chose the movie.

It’s a foreign film and, more than that, a horror film.

Tay had told Gun it was a romance, but any elements of love are greatly outweighed by the eerie atmosphere. Off shifts as the characters kiss passionately, certain that one or both will die.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, they’re separated and being hunted.

“Papii,” Gun whisper-whines, holding tightly to Off’s arm.

A moment later, Gun’s face is in Off’s shoulder, before he dares peek out again.

Off isn’t sure what happens in the rest of the movie, what with the way Gun keeps tugging on his arm, looking and not looking at the movie, clinging, squealing.

By the time it gets out, Off can’t get a word in anyway, since Tay is already talking a mile a minute.

They grab dinner somewhere in the mall and drop Gun back at his place. Tay demands Off go with him to the door to see Gun’s dog and Off reminds Tay he’s met Bibii because Gun has brought Bibii into the bookstore despite the “no animals” policy, but Tay ignores him.

Off has been to Gun’s place before but only once, when he was giving Gun a ride because Gun’s car was in the shop. He’d had to wait for Gun to finish getting ready, even though he was already going out of his own way to do Gun a favor. Off had grumbled quite a bit about it, but Gun had made it up to him.

“Nong Pim,” Gun calls as he opens the door.

“Busy!” Pim calls back, so Gun goes to retrieve Bibii from her room, comes back and offers Bibii to Tay and Off to pet.

“Bibii, be good,” Gun says, and Off laughs as she proceeds to ignore his instructions.

“Good girl,” Off tells her, and he feeds her a treat as Gun frets over it.

Gun offers they can stay longer, but they decline, leading Gun to sulk until they change their minds.

“P’Gun is always like this,” Pim tells Off once Gun is taking Bibii outside with Tay. “He likes to be around people all the time. He’s always having friends over or staying over at a friend's house.” She pouts, looking much like Gun.

Is that what Pim thinks? That Gun is just having sleepovers with friends?

Well, who is Off to destroy her brother’s reputation. It’s none of his business to begin with.

Pim proceeds to show Off videos of her and Gun doing TikTok dances and Off doesn’t know if he’s smiling because he’s embarrassed or amused at Gun’s expense or what, but he’s smiling and he wants to look away but he can’t.

It becomes easier to bear when she shows Off the video of her and Tay and he’s laughing when Gun and Tay come back inside.

The rest of the evening is easy, and Off and Tay return to their apartment.

“Peng, are you and Nong Gun done fighting?” Tay asks.

“We weren’t fighting,” Off says.

Tay stares at him deadpan like he’s stupid. “Mhm. You weren’t fighting. That’s why Nong Gun avoided coming into the store for days and days.”

“It was, like, two days,” Off corrects.

“That’s a long time, Jumpol!” Tay exclaims. “Nong used to be in there all the time. ‘Papii never pays any attention to me’ and ‘would Papii like this’ and then stories about his friends and sometimes he’d pretend to read books to make customers interested in them. He was practically another employee. And then he hangs out with you alone for one night and ghosts us. So what happened? Really?”

Off shrugs, turns away. “Drop it, Ai’Tay. It was nothing. We weren’t fighting.”

“What did you do, Jum? Did you hurt his feelings? Why are you always like this? Nong Gun is very nice to both of us and spends lots of time with us and you have to—”

“Exactly. He’s too close to us, don’t you think?” Off says.

Tay stares. “What?”

Off nods, agreeing with himself. “He’s too clingy to— To us. And he has a boyfriend. Do you think Ai’Oab would appreciate it?”

Tay opens and closes his mouth. “I don’t know. Nong Gun is just like that. If Pet and Nong Oab are together and Nong Oab doesn’t like it, maybe he doesn’t know Gun well enough.”

Off lifts an eyebrow, but he tries to see where Tay is coming from.

And it’s true. Gun is like that with all his friends and Oab should know that if they’re going to go out.

Off doesn’t play games tonight, ends up reading instead, starts wondering why he can’t stop picturing Gun as the main character. Does it mean he should be picturing the guy’s “close friend” as Oab? At that disturbing thought, Off closes the book and goes to sleep.

A few days pass more like usual, with Gun popping in and out of the shop, with Off reading while Tay chatters to the customers.

At closing one day, Off is about to step out and smoke when Gun appears and Off gives him a nod, offers him the joint.

“Papii, cold,” Gun whines after a bit.

Off had rather been enjoying the breeze, the bite of a possible evening rain, but they head inside.

They’re sitting on the couch when Gun puts his head on Off’s shoulder and purses his lips.

“What?” Off asks, barely able to look at Gun’s lips, close as they are.

“Kiss,” Gun says.

Off is going to laugh it away, but the impulse hits him and he kisses Gun first. It’s only meant to be a silly little peck but Gun doesn’t back off, kisses him back.

It…feels really good. Lips against lips.

Gun’s lips part and Off follows suit, his body turning to make it easier, to make space. One of Gun’s legs hooks over his thigh and Gun’s hands find his neck and shoulders, pulling him in. Their tongues slide against each other experimentally, finding what feels good.

Off can’t remember the last time he kissed someone just to kiss someone, the pleasure to be found in making out, and his mind focuses only on that.

It feels good. He should tilt his head a bit— There. Better. And his hands should settle onto Gun’s waist.

Off pulls back, needing air, needing space, and Gun is breathing hard, rests his forehead against Off’s chest.

Gun shuffles even closer, nose moving up to nuzzle into Off’s neck. “Warm.”

He doesn’t say anything else, just cuddles against Off, and Off thinks to move, but Gun’s weight is nice and Gun’s body is warm, like Gun said, and so it takes only a little while before they end up dozing on the couch.

Off wakes up to Gun already awake.

“Hungry,” Gun says. “Papii hungry?” he mumbles.

“Tay is supposed to bring something back,” Off responds.

Then Gun is on his phone, then Tay is arriving with a bunch of extra stuff Gun had apparently texted him for, and the three of them end up forcibly cuddling on the couch just because of the way they’re all sprawled.

Gun actually stays the night, although he sleeps in Tay’s room.

But that’s for the best. Off needs space and he doesn’t need Gun clinging to him all night and Gun has a boyfriend.

…Who is closer to Tay, and so Gun sleeping next to Tay is less weird.

Gun and Tay make breakfast in the morning and Off supervises so no one dies or gets seriously harmed in the process, but Gun leaves when they go to open up the shop and, now sober and in the light of day, Off starts to wonder about last night.

He can’t really deny that he and Gun kissed, but…they were pretty high.

Sometimes weird things like that happen.

The other time still doesn’t count.

Gun comes back to the bookstore later looking way too good and having no time to listen, fretting and adjusting his clothes a few times before heading out again.

“Huh,” Tay says. “Wonder if he has another date.”

Off doesn’t see Gun until the next day, when he goes to Nanon’s with books that had been specially requested. Students are always needing books and Nanon is a student living with two other students, Chimon and Ohm. Off sort of suspects there’s some kind of romantic tension going on, but he’s not about to ask.

Gun is there with Chimon, and they look like they’re plotting, so Off chooses not to stay once the books are delivered.

He gets a text from Gun about it later, but Off just says he had things to do, which is sort of true.

Off doesn’t see too much of Gun for the next week, but Gun does show up nicely dressed two more times.

Well, maybe that means Oab is treating Gun right, taking him out like he deserves. Or maybe Gun is just dressing up to go out with his friends. Or… Something.

“Why are you so grumpy, Peng?” Tay asks when Off repeatedly kills him in the game.

“He’s right, P’Off,” Mond adds. “You’re extra grumpy lately.”

“No, I’m not,” Off claims, killing Mond this time. “Right, Nanon?”

“Er… Well, is something wrong, P’Off?” Nanon replies instead.

“Yes,” Off admits. “You all keep asking me if something is wrong.”

There are a few chuckles over the comms before Mond says, “Alright, alright. P’Off is apparently fine.”

He gets teased a few more times, but they all know better than to fuck with him too much. And so what if he’s grumpy? Sometimes people are just grumpy. It’s not something that has to be deeply examined. Besides, Off has always been grumpy. Why is it suddenly a big deal?

Off leaves the bookstore in Tay’s hands about halfway through the next day, happens to meet up with Gun as Gun gets off work at the place next to Off’s shop, the reason he’s able to stop by so often being that he lives across the street and works right next door.

Off asks Gun if he wants to grab a snack and Gun suggests they keep hanging out after.

They get high in the car because Gun doesn’t want his sister to know, but they end up in Gun’s room. Off has never been in Gun’s bedroom before, but it’s comfortable. There aren’t really places to sit other than on the bed, which isn’t bad.

They put on a movie, but they’re not watching it.

Gun is on top of him, then under him, claiming that it’s too tiring. They’re kissing again. It seems to be the thing that happens when they get high together.

When Off gets high with Gunsmile, they like to talk conspiracy theories.

With Gun, they kiss.

Off’s knee is between Gun’s legs, maybe rubbing against him, just because of the situation, incidentally.

Then, Pim is calling, “P’Gun, I’m home. What do we want for dinner?”

Off wasn’t doing anything wrong, but he feels guilty. Maybe because he and Gun were getting high and Gun doesn’t want Pim to know? Or… No. He doesn’t want to think on it any further.

Whatever the case, they emerge and Off finds that his lips sting as he offers to order food for them. They’re not really sitting together until after the food arrives and Pim stares at Gun.

“P’Gun, did you order it too hot or are you allergic to something? Your lips look swollen,” she says.

Gun shakes his head, cheeks pink. “I’m fine. You’re imagining things.”

Pim snorts and lets it go, but Off thinks she might be right. Gun’s lips look plumper, redder. Idly, he presses his own to the cool glass of water for a second before taking a sip.

Once the food is done, Off heads back across the street, feeling a weird sort of energy, a frustration that leads him to taking a shower, to jerking off just to release the tension.

There’s still something a bit wrong after that, but Off thinks maybe he’s just lonely. He goes back to reading, not wanting to deal with the way his friends had been teasing him last time. Nanon texts him and he sends back a picture of the book and Nanon asks if it’s good and what he thinks and it’s sweet and annoying and maybe the distraction he needs.

Even though he’s a bit frustrated, Off feels happy, too. Maybe he’s just glad there’s hope for the next generation.

Tay doesn’t come back that night and Off wonders if he should be concerned or just ready to tease Tay in the morning, but he wakes up at around four to find that Tay had texted to say he was alright, and sleep comes easier after that, his mind drifting into all the ways he can use this information to make Tay angry next time he sees him.

When he actually wakes up, he thinks about being on Gun’s bed, but only for a moment. Sometimes thoughts are weird like that, making little connections. Like when you wake up in someone else’s bed but think of your own, even though this is distinctly the opposite.

“Where were you? I was worried sick,” Off asks Tay with affectation.

The shop has been open about two hours and Tay looks very much like he’s doing the walk of shame, so Off has no idea why he’s walking through the store instead of coming in the back, but it doesn’t much matter to Off.

Tay seems to realize it only when he spots himself in a reflection and quickly hides himself away.

Off wonders if he should be seeing someone, too. Tay has someone, Nanon and friends have each other in whatever way that means, Gunsmile has a crush, and Gun has…

Off rubs at his head, then his stomach. A discomfort settles around him and when Tay returns, he says he’s not feeling well, which makes Tay jump back two feet before attempting to approach again to check him, and Tay begins offering all the remedies he can think of, and Off ends up going to lie down just to avoid Tay.

He plays games on his own and starts to feel a bit better until he stops at the buzz of his phone. Gun is trying to Facetime him.

Against his better judgment, and feeling queasy again, Off answers. “What?”

Gun pouts through the screen. “That isn’t any way to answer the phone, Papii. P’Tay said Papii wasn’t feeling well. Want Gun to make you congee?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine.”

“Let Gun take care of Papii, na,” Gun says, sounding like one of the characters in the novels Gun reads and Off has maybe perused just to know what Gun and everyone else sees in them.

Which means it’s probably what Gun would be saying if Oab were sick.

Off lies down on the couch and shakes his head, wondering if he might actually throw up. “Ai’Gun, I’ll be fine. See you some other time.”

He hangs up before Gun can coax him into saying yes.

Tay brings up congee an hour later anyway.

“From Nong Gun.”

Gun had still gone out of his way to try to take care of Off, even though Off knows he hates it when people refuse him and even more so when they hang up on him or ignore him. Gun is a very good friend.

Off lets the congee warm him and thinks about how warm he’d been on the couch the other day with Gun, lulled to sleep then.

Gun is a good friend, a warm person, and someone Off is glad to have in his life.

Someone anyone would be glad to have in their life.

The next time Off and Gun are together outside of the shop, nothing happens. They’re at Ssing’s and Ssing is putting his arm around Gun and Gun is laughing and Off interrupts them to ask why he’s there, making Ssing laugh and Gun pout and apologize. Gun, however, is the next one to get annoyed as they proceed to play games he has no interest in.

Ssing asks how Oab is doing and Off leaves the room to make a call to Tay to make sure the store hasn’t burned down while Gun and Ssing talk.

Gun meets Off after work a few days in a row and they hang out, sometimes with Tay and sometimes not.

Off is shotgunning a hit to Gun on the couch when he puts the joint down in the ashtray and Gun’s lips don’t brush his but the second Gun is done breathing out again, Off lets it happen.

Gun drapes his legs over Off’s and pulls their bodies close, his weight settling on Off’s lap. “Papii, kiss?” he murmurs, but their lips meet before Off has time to attempt an actual response.

Slow, near-chaste kisses naturally deepen, and Gun’s hands are warm under Off’s shirt. Gun’s lips are perfect for kissing, Off thinks, and then he just lets himself enjoy the sensation, the way Gun’s mouth opens to his. Gun will dive in only to draw back, to invite Off to keep it going.

There’s a rhythm to how they kiss, how they move together, against each other, and Off is just starting to realize it’s maybe too far while also not far enough as the door slams and Off and Gun stop kissing, too high, limbs too heavy, to break apart all the way.

“J-Jumpol, and Nong Gun.” Tay is bright red. “You two… Boyfriend…” The normally talkative Tay is struck dumb. Another mutter that just sounds like, “Kissing...” He finds his voice as Gun manages to slide from Off’s lap and onto the couch beside him. “Jumpol and Nong Gun were kissing.”

Off clears his throat. “We were smoking,” he says. “Don’t be weird, Ai’Tay. It was just a…” But he can’t say the word aloud.

Gun continues. “It was just a kiss, P’Tay. Papii was passing Gun a hit and we accidentally kissed.” He gives an affected shrug, although his cheeks are nearly as scarlet as Tay’s.

“Accident?” Tay scoffs. “I felt like I was walking into a porno with the way you two were writhing. Or maybe just a nature documentary, considering Peng.”

Tay still manages to burn him even now.

“Ai’Tay, it was an accident.” Off subtly adjusts himself.

Tay’s eyes are wide and unbelieving, but Gun starts talking to him about all the random things that Tay and Gun talk about and they all spend the rest of the evening together.

As soon as Gun is out the door, however, Tay turns on Off. “What is actually going on here, Jumpol?”

Off’s brows furrow in annoyance. “What?”

“With you and N’Gun. That wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t ‘just’ a kiss,” and Tay does air quotes. “Since when do you go around kissing guys anyway? I thought you didn’t swing that way.”

“Nothing’s going on,” Off answers, trying to muddle through a proper explanation. “Ai’Gun is just touchy and sometimes when we get high, he likes to…” Off swallows, tries to say the next words as casually as possible. “Kiss me.” He shrugs.

“When you get high? So it’s happened more than once?” Tay asks, but before Off can answer, he continues, “And you just let Gun kiss you? You were certainly kissing back. Do you…” Tay stops, looks at Off with a sort of disgust that makes Off want to get angry out of the shame it makes him feel.

“What?” Off spits, but he feels shaky.

“Peng, you were the one who said nong was too close to us and worrying about his boyfriend, and then I find out you’re cheating with him.”

“It’s not— I’m not interested in Gun,” Off says quickly, but it sounds strange to his own ears, even if he’s said it to himself before, should know it by now. “You’re the one who said Gun is just touchy and that— that people have to accept that to be around him.”

“Touchy,” Tay repeats, emphasizing the word. “Allowing Gun to be ‘touchy’ doesn’t mean the two of you can dry hump on the couch. What were you thinking? Are you into Nong Gun? Have you… Have you been in Nong Gun?” Tay whispers, although loudly.

“No!” And Off feels no guilt in whacking Tay for that comment. As if Gun just— As if Off just— “No. I already told you. I don’t like Gun. For one thing, Gun is a man. For another, I...don’t like Gun.”

Tay raises an eyebrow. “You realize you already admitted to making out with him. More than once.”

“So what?” Off returns. “We kissed. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“If it doesn’t mean anything, stop. You know Nong Gun is gay and you just said again that you’re not into guys, right? If for no other reason, stop kissing Gun so Gun doesn’t end up getting hurt. Or getting feelings. Or ruining his relationship because of you.”

Off feels frozen, keeps his appearance angry even as all the fight leaves him. “Mh,” he agrees.

Gun’s relationship.

Tay really is right. And Off really wants to hate him for it.

Off manages to avoid Gun for the next two days, dodging back upstairs whenever Gun comes in and even trying to be extra helpful to the customers when there’s no chance at escape. He talks a lot to some girl about a book on cat breeds, flipping through the pages and commenting on the appearances of the cats as she laughs and tucks her hair behind her ear.

She ends up giving him her number, but for some reason the thought hadn’t occurred to him until then that they were flirting. Mostly he had just wanted to be distracted enough and distracting enough that Gun wouldn’t be able to talk to him.

“Peng,” Tay congratulates, nudging him. “You managed to convince someone to buy what you’re selling. Er. Not books. Even though she was a customer. The point is, you got her number!”

Off nods, not knowing how else to respond.

“You going to call her?”

Off hesitates. Should he? He has no desire to. Thus, in answer, he only shrugs.

Off is putting up the closed sign when Gun catches him unaware. It’s raining and Gun is soaked, asking if Off wants to smoke and talk, saying he misses Off. Tay is upstairs so they smoke in the car again, go up to Gun’s again.

Off isn’t sure why they go to Gun’s room and he hesitates in the doorway but Gun is peeling his wet clothes off and tells Off to shut the door.

Off doesn’t know how he gets from closing the door to Gun half-naked under him on the bed, but Gun’s hands are in his shirt, hot on his back as Off kisses Gun, mouth wandering from Gun’s lips to his jaw to his neck. Off doesn’t mean to, but Gun’s hands move up, clutch him there.

“Papii,” Gun gasps and Off sucks and bites, can’t get enough of Gun’s taste and feel and the noises Gun is making.

He moves back to Gun’s lips, to safety, but their bodies are rocking against each other because that’s what happens when you keep making out with someone. It just feels good, feels like the right thing to do. Gun’s legs are spread to make room for him and one hooks over Off’s hip, demanding, needy.

The kiss breaks and Gun keens, arches his back, and Off realizes what’s happening as it hits him, too, that they’ve just dry humped themselves to completion like teenagers.

Gun’s fingers clutch and unclutch, sliding from Off’s back, out from Off’s shirt, to grab at the material instead of at Off’s skin. He’s panting, full, swollen lips extra pink, parted, whispering, “Papii…” Gun is so beautiful.

Holy shit.

Holy shit. Off needs to get out of here for real right now.

…But he also doesn’t want to run out on Gun, like this was all he wanted.

Off rests his forehead on Gun’s chest, catches his own breath. Then, he rolls to the side.

Gun shifts to face him. “Is Papii okay?” he asks, a whisper so low it cracks.

“I should go, Gun,” Off says, still a whisper, but louder, firmer. He needs space to freak out.

“But…” Gun swallows, nods. Off starts to get up and Gun adds, “Don’t avoid Gun, na. Missed Papii.”

“Mh,” Off agrees, not sure if he means it.

Luckily there’s no one to sneak past in Gun’s place or his own, with Tay not home for some reason or another.

Off gets himself cleaned up and changed.

Off has argued a lot in his head, when he’d allowed himself to think at all, that it was okay because it didn’t matter, that kissing Gun wasn’t a big deal. But he’s pretty sure humping Gun in any capacity is crossing a line.

And probably cheating.

Definitely cheating.

He’d definitely just helped Gun cheat on his boyfriend, which should be impossible because he’s not into Gun.

He…

Why was he making out with Gun? Why does he keep making out with Gun? How did it get to the point that he was grinding against Gun?

...It’s not like it was the first time they’d gotten to that point. Not the start of it, at least. Thinking back, when Tay had walked in, they had been less chaste than Off had admitted.

Off likes kissing Gun. Off really likes kissing Gun. Off wants Gun, wants to go back to Gun’s bedroom and do it all over again, do more.

Off likes Gun.

Gun, who has a boyfriend. Who is a man.

And Off likes him so fucking much.

How did that happen?

And does that mean he wants to be with Gun? Is he...the other man? Does he care if it means being with Gun or does he steal someone else’s boyfriend? What if he steals Gun and then can’t handle actually being with him? With having people know?

But if Gun was his faen, he could kiss Gun all the time, and he could make Gun happy and hold Gun and Gun would laugh and smile and cling to him, which is actually...really nice. He likes when Gun is close to him and kisses him and talks to him and visits all the time, even when he’s being annoying or his baking turns out awful—which Off will eat anyway and say is fine.

Off groans and makes ramen and plays video games for the rest of the night.

Two days pass of Off’s internal turmoil and he knows he looks like shit. He feels like shit.

“Peng, what’s wrong?” Tay asks, trying for tact.

“Nothing,” Off replies.

Tay smirks. “Wanna go get drunk?”

 

Off glances up at Tay. “Yes.”

Tay’s eyes go wide. “You— Okay. This is serious.” Off starts to shuffle to the door but Tay gives him a look. “You can’t go out like that.”

Tay forces Off up the stairs and chooses clothes for him and then fixes Off’s hair, and Off fixes it again after, while cursing Tay out.

But they get out the door and end up at a bar Off thinks is way too fancy, but the bartender is a tall guy who seems to know Tay and maybe, like, know Tay, but Off is too busy with his own crisis to bother Tay about it.

...Or, with the way the guy is eyeing Tay, he’ll bother him later.

“Thanks, Joss,” Tay says as the guy slides over two drinks with a charming smile, his eyes lingering on Tay.

Off grabs his drink and observes them for a moment. Actually, maybe this is the perfect opportunity. “How did you know you liked, er, Joss?” Off asks as they take a seat.

“What? Me and Joss— We’re… It’s complicated.” He pauses. “What?” he repeats, flustered.

Off laughs. “How did you know you liked Joss?”

Tay glances over to Joss, then raises an eyebrow at Off. “Have you seen him?”

Off rolls his eyes. “Yes, Ai’Tay. I saw him eyefucking you at the counter.”

Tay blushes and sips his drink.

Off sips from his own and makes a face, but then he thinks of Gun and drinks half in one go.

Tay is watching him. “Why do you ask, Jum? Do you have feelings for someone? For— For a male someone? Who? Oh—” Tay cuts himself off, realizing exactly where this is going.

Off shrugs, takes another sip, and that’s when he spots Oab and feels his insides freeze.

Oab is talking to some girl at the bar, which makes Off’s fear turn to anger, then Oab is talking to some guy and...it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. Oab is just talking. Maybe he’s just here with his friends.

Off must’ve been obviously staring because Tay swivels around and sees Oab, too.

“Nong Oab! Come over! Come chat with us,” Tay calls, apparently forgetting what he had just learned about Off.

“P’Tay,” Oab greets, giving Tay a one-armed hug, then he wais Off. “P’Off. What are you two up to?”

“Jumpol was feeling down,” Tay says offhand. “What about you, nong?”

Oab’s eyes travel the bar and he offers a mischievous grin. “Looking.”

“Looking? What about Nong Gun?” Tay asks.

Oab’s gaze moves to Off, then to Tay again. He looks chagrined. “P’Gun and I went out once, but we’re just friends.”

“You sleep with your friends?” Off snipes.

“What?” Oab is taken aback, quickly says, “No.”

“Gun stayed over,” Off accuses, unable to help himself.

Oab looks thoughtful, then laughs. “Oh, right. P’Gun slept over after our date.”

Off feels his temper rise. “What? You don’t even remember?”

“Whoa. Calm down, Peng,” Tay instructs, patting Off’s chest.

Off hadn’t realized how close he’d gotten to Oab, withdraws purposely.

“Calm down, phi,” Oab tells Off. “P’Gun slept over but all we did was sleep.”

“And kiss,” Tay adds, with no control over himself, and immediately slaps a hand over his mouth.

A kiss,” Oab clarifies.

“You’re not together?” Off asks.

Oab frowns, shakes his head. “Not at all.”

Tay is distracting Oab then, talking about this and that and Oab is the one who teases Tay about Joss and about some other guy, but Off is just processing.

Oab and Gun aren’t together.

Oab and Gun didn’t sleep together.

Gun has never said he has feelings for Off, but Off downs the rest of his drink and tells Tay he has to go, ends up at Gun’s door before he realizes it.

Has he thought this through? If he starts this, what happens?

...Or is he just here for a lay?

The door opens without him knocking and Pim stares at him. “P’Off?” she asks. “Are you here to see P’Gun?”

Off hesitates, gains his bearings, smiles and nods. “Yeah. Is he in?”

Pim nods back, gestures Off inside. She calls, “Heading out! Be back in a few hours. Or tomorrow morning. Bibii had dinner.” Quieter, she tells Off, “He just got in.” With one last smile, she’s gone.

Off wanders in and peeks around, not sure where Gun is. For the sake of propriety, he takes a seat on the couch. He should shout, make sure Gun knows he’s here, but he’s nervous. What does he say?

He hears Gun’s bedroom door creak open and Gun comes out in an oversized shirt, a pair of soft shorts, and Off really should’ve said something because he moves and Gun squeaks, startling Bibii in his arms.

“Who— Papii?” Gun stares at Off, glances down at himself and back, apparently making sure he’s halfway decent. “What is Papii doing here?”

“I wanted to see you,” Off starts. “To… To talk to you.”

“Oh?” Gun wanders closer, his knee on the arm of the couch as he pulls at his lip, nervous.“What does Papii want to talk about?”

“I just saw Oab,” Off says, and Gun tenses. “And he said he’s not your faen.” Gun nods and Off swallows, a new thought occurring. “Do you have a faen?” he asks quickly.

Gun nods, then shakes his head, confused. He distracts himself for a second by setting down Bibii. “Gun doesn’t have a faen. Gun has gone on a few dates. Set ups. But Gun isn’t… Why does Papii ask?” He inches closer to Off, kneeling on the cushion next to him, anticipatory.

“What if someone liked you? Do you— Er. Do you like anyone, Gun?” Off asks next.

Gun slides into Off’s lap and Off’s hands find Gun’s hips. “Gun likes someone,” Gun confirms. “But Gun doesn’t know if that person likes Gun back.”

“Who does Gun like?” Off asks, as if Gun isn’t being obvious.

Gun smirks, rolls his eyes. “Does Papii really need Gun to say it first?” Gun winds his arms around Off’s neck. “Gun likes Papii. Does Papii like Gun?”

Off looks into Gun’s eyes, away, back again. “Uh. I… I think so.”

Gun pouts. “Papii only ‘thinks so’? Can Gun help Papii figure it out?”

“Maybe,” Off says, lips curling. He tilts his head up and Gun tilts his head down and they’re going to kiss and they’re not high and Off is only the tiniest bit buzzed still from the drink, just a little looser than he was.

A tease, a near-brush of lips, and then there’s the sound of a key jiggling in the lock and Bibii starts barking and Gun is scrambling from up from being on top of Off and Off pulls a pillow into his lap as Pim returns.

“Pim!” Gun shouts, sounding terribly suspicious.

“The library was closed. Is it okay if my friends come here to study?”

“How many? How long?” Gun asks, and he actually sounds like the responsible older brother.

Pim rolls her eyes. “We’re just studying, phi. It’s just me and a few friends.”

Gun hums. “Do I need to be here?” And he sounds much less the responsible older brother.

“No, P’Gun. Are you and P’Off going out?” She looks over Gun’s outfit and he scoops up Bibii and bounces her, humming.

“Er. Gun was going to come over,” Off says lamely. “And play video games.”

Pim raises an eyebrow. “Okay.” She doesn’t sound sold, but she takes Bibii from Gun. “And you’ll go over to P’Off’s like that?”

Gun shrugs and slips on sandals. “Just across the street.”

“When will you be back?” she asks, increasingly amused.

“Er.” Gun looks at Off.

“We might be up late. Playing games. With friends,” Off stutters out bit by bit.

Pim stares at Off too long, wants to make an accusation, but then the doorbell is ringing and she’s going to let her friends in.

Off and Gun slip out in the meantime, giddy and nervous as they cross the street, Off holding Gun’s hand when Gun looks uncertain.

They get in and get upstairs and onto yet another couch, carefully not touching each other.

“Papii?” Gun says after a while.

Off’s leg is shaking and he glances to Gun. “Yeah?”

“I’ve never been in Papii’s bedroom,” Gun suggests innocently.

Off licks his lips. “Okay. This way.”

He leads Gun the few feet to the door of his room and lets Gun in. Gun gives the room a whirl before settling onto the bed. “Does Papii still need convincing?”

“Need?” Off says, and this time he’s the one straddling Gun. “I’m not sure if I need convincing, but if I say I do, will Gun spend the night?”

“Ohooo, awfully confident now, Papii,” Gun teases, tucking his nose into Off’s neck and pressing kisses.

Off chuckles. “We’re on my turf now. I have you in my clutches.” He makes an attempt at evil laughter and Gun swats at him until they tumble around the bed, finally kissing, Off finally realizing why kissing Gun is so nice and why having Gun under him, or on top of him—they keep switching—is so wonderful.

The next time Gun is under him, Gun breaks the kiss, looks up at Off. “So? Does Papii like Gun?”

“So fucking much,” Off says, pecks a kiss to Gun’s lips again. He bites his lip. “Do you want to stop now, nong? I invited you to spend the night, but we don’t have to do anything.”

“Don’t tease me anymore, Papii,” Gun tells him.

“Anymore?” Off asks. “Was I teasing you?”

“Papii would kiss Gun and grind against Gun but wouldn’t acknowledge that he wanted Gun. And Gun wanted Papii so bad…” Gun blushes. “But Papii never said. Only last time did anything come close.”

“Oh, were you only close?” Off returns. “Maybe I should remedy that this time.”

Papii.” Gun is so pink, blinks up at Off. “What will Papii do?”

Maybe Off is in over his head. He’s got Gun here, Gun wants him, now what does he do? Losing some nerve, Off stares back. “What does Gun want me to do?”

They just stare at each other, assessing, for a moment, before Gun brings Off down to kiss him again. “If Papii doesn’t know what to do, and Papii wants to,” Gun starts, looking at Off, “Gun can help.”

“If I want to…?” Off asks, although he has a distinct feeling he knows what Gun is asking.

Somehow, despite how direct he’d been a moment before, Gun hides his face, blushing even harder as he says, “If… If Papii wants to fuck Gun.”

Off nods eagerly, scrambles over to his nightstand to grab a condom and lube. “Er. I’m not getting ahead of myself, am I?”

Gun shakes his head. “But.”

“‘But’?” Off asks.

“Can Gun see Papii first? Papii has seen Gun without a shirt and Gun has felt Papii, but Gun has never seen Papii naked.”

Suddenly self-conscious, Off hesitates, but then he looks down at Gun and realizes he’s going to strip either way, that it means being with Gun, and he shucks his shirt, unbuttons his jeans, lets Gun help him get naked.

“Does Papii want to help Gun?” Gun asks, and Off tries to be a bit more romantic about it, impatient as he is. Gun is already wearing so little, but Off mouths the crux of Gun’s neck and shoulder, notes the faded mark he’d left days earlier, before he dives for a nipple.

In the meantime, Gun’s hands roam over him, his back and sides and down to his cock, giving him a couple strokes. “Papii is this hard for me?” he murmurs, but then his hands move again and he’s spreading his legs and Off has to withdraw, to watch as Gun opens himself up.

Off has been so stupid. So, so stupid.

He must say it aloud, because Gun laughs. “Papii is smart,” he assures, “just confused. Is Papii still confused?”

Shaking his head, Off licks his lips, has to take himself in hand and calm down.

“Ready?” Gun asks, and Off feels like he should be the one asking, but obviously Gun is the more aware between the two of them. Off nods and Gun smiles, but he’s shy, too—embarrassed over Off looking or how much he wants Off to look, maybe. “Does Papii want Gun like this? Or from behind? Or on top?” He swallows, gaze falling to Off’s dick. “Gun doesn’t mind riding Papii.”

They flip over again and Off manages to fumble the condom back into his grasp and roll it on, then Gun’s hands are on his chest and Gun’s cock is begging for him to touch and he does only to get scolded.

“Hold on,” Gun tells him. “Let Gun get Papii in first.” He breathes in and out slowly and Off helps line himself up, letting Gun sink down onto him.

“Fuck,” Off whispers.

“That’s what we’re doing,” Gun returns, lifting himself up and letting himself down again in emphasis.

Off’s hips buck and Gun winces and Off apologizes.

“Give me just a sec, Papii,” Gun tells him. “And then do it again.” He moves carefully, getting his bearings, and Off feels like he’s going to lose his mind, trying hard to be patient as Gun adjusts, waiting for permission. “Okay,” Gun whispers. “Okay. Papii can fuck me now.”

With every downward bounce from Gun, Off fucks up into him, gets deeper, and Gun makes noise. Gun makes a lot of noise. A lot of delicious noise that Off didn’t know people made when fucking in real life, but who is he to fault Gun for being so vocal. Off rubs his hand up and down Gun’s sides, helps to lift his hips, to slam him back down.

“Waited,” Gun pants. “So long.” Another thrust. “For this.” He keens and whimpers and cries out. “Unh, Papii, there. Like that! Keep going, keep going. So close.”

“Jumpol, what are you watch—” Tay stops, taking in the scene before him. “My eyes!” he screeches.

“Get out, P’Tay!” Gun shouts, tossing a pillow towards the door as it closes.

Off hadn’t even had the chance to react, but he looks up at Gun in awe. “I might be in love with you,” he says.

Gun lets out a snort of amusement. “Just keep fucking me, Papii.”

“Mh.” Off does as Gun commands, but Gun stops suddenly.

“P’Tay threw off my rhythm,” he complains. He dismounts and Off is left there, not knowing what to do, until Gun gets on his hands and knees. “Fuck Gun hard, na.”

Off scrambles into position and presses into Gun, who moans at just the feeling of it. “Is it really that good?” Off asks, curious.

Gun nods, turns back to look at Off. “Gun loves being full.” He shifts his hips back against Off, and Off gets the point.

Off pounds into Gun, gripping Gun’s hips, Gun apparently not caring that Tay must hear him as he keeps making those noises.

“Touch me, Papii,” Gun says, pained, and Off takes hold of Gun, jerking him with the rhythm of their bodies, and then Gun is coming, and Off is following him over.

Off rests his forehead to Gun’s back. “Holy shit.”

“Papii thought he liked Gun, now Papii loves Gun?” Gun teases. Off pulls out gently and Gun flops onto his back, flushed, pink all over, looking rather wrecked but happy about it.

“Maybe,” Off says, even though he makes sure Gun knows it’s only a tease.

Gun huffs, but then he grins again. “It’s okay. Gun can wait a little longer for Papii to say he loves me.”

“Oi,” Off whines. “It’s not like you said you loved me.”

Gun blinks. “I didn’t?”

Off has to think about it, then shakes his head. Gun is fucking with him, right?

Gun hoists himself onto his elbows and juts his chin, makes Off move closer. “Not just anyone can fuck Gun,” he whispers, then pecks Off’s lips, as if he hadn’t just confessed.

They get cleaned up and Gun pouts at Off when Off moves toward the bed again.

“What?” Off asks, stopping in his tracks.

“Hungry,” Gun says, batting his eyelashes. He takes Off’s hand and gestures to the bedroom door.

“Tay…” Off starts.

“Don’t care,” Gun replies, so Off opens the door and, sure enough, Tay is in the living room, with headphones on but looking traumatized as he glances back.

Gun wraps an arm around Tay. “What did P’Tay learn today?”

Off has to admire Gun’s confidence.

Tay is flabbergasted, opening and closing his mouth like a gasping fish. He turns to Off, accusatory. “You ruined my pet!”

“What else did you learn, P’Tay?” Gun asks.

Tay cringes. “I don’t like this game.”

Off snorts. “Maybe you should knock before you come into my room.”

“Well, I didn’t expect you to be coming in anyone!” Tay returns. “You said you weren’t going to call that girl earlier but you seemed lonely so I just thought you were jerking off to porn at far too high a volume.”

Off pulls a face. “You’d just walk in if you thought I was jerking off?”

“That’s weird, P’Tay,” Gun says.

“You were the one that loud!” Tay argues. “I couldn’t even tell it was you with all that moaning!”

“Okay, okay,” Off interrupts. “That’s enough.” He peeks in the fridge and finds nothing to offer. “Pizza?”

“Ooh, pizza!” they both say, and Off laughs.

In the morning, Off leaves Gun in his bed, stealing a few kisses and nearly tempted into not leaving, but he gets ready and heads down to open the bookstore.

“Nong Gun let you go?” Tay asks, yawning. “I feel like I’ll never sleep again after hearing you two last night.”

Off suppresses his smirk and rolls his eyes at Tay. “We weren’t that loud.” He knows it’s a lie, but he says it anyway.

A couple of customers come in, but they seem busy amongst themselves and Tay sidles over. “So, does Nong Gun actually have a faen now?”

“Errr.” Off bites his lip and offers Tay a sheepish smile. “We didn’t discuss it.”

“You just— Oh.” Tay gives a disgusted look. “You just took advantage of our precious nong the moment you found out he was available? Do you plan to date him? Or was it just a hook up?”

“Ai’Tay,” Off scolds, looking meaningfully towards the customers.

Tay lowers his voice. “So? Or does Pet not want you?”

Off’s mouth shuts on any comeback he might’ve thrown. But then he remembers what Gun said about liking him, and maybe even— But Gun hadn’t said the words.

Gun appears an hour or so later, wearing Off’s clothes. “I should go check on Pim and Bibii,” he says, but he’s waiting, like he wants something from Off. Which is unusual because he’d usually just cling and kiss on Off anyway. This time, Off can feel the deliberation.

He ducks to the side and Gun follows, Gun’s hands find Off’s belt loops and he looks up at Off imploringly.

How the hell had Off resisted him so long?

“Will Gun see Papii later?”

Off shrugs. “Don’t you usually stop by?”

The pout that greets Off tells him that isn’t the right response. “But does Papii want to see Nong Gun?”

Off tries to shrug again, but he stops, leans down. “Definitely.” And he presses his lips to Gun’s, another kiss to Gun’s cheek.

“Uiii,” Gun says. “Papii means it?”

“Mh,” Off agrees, gazing softly at Gun. “Come by later. Okay, na? Naaa?”

Gun giggles and pecks Off’s lips again. “Okay, Papii.”

With that, Gun heads out the door. Well, with one last lingering glance.

When Off turns around, Tay is raising an eyebrow. “How are you already this whipped?”

“Shut up,” Off replies happily, and he goes about work with a smile on his face.

Namtan comes in…and looks concerned.

“P’Off, what’s wrong with you?” she asks, walking up to the counter.

Off frowns at her. “The hell?”

“See that?” she says, pointing. “That’s more like it.” She frowns right back at him.

“What are you talking about?” Off asks.

“I take my bad dates here and tell them you’re my disapproving brother and that’s all it takes to get them to give up, usually. They see your face and realize I’m not worth the trouble,” and she pauses, gestures to herself, “despite how wonderful I am.” She scowls. “And now you’re all…smiley.”

Tay cups a hand over his mouth and stage-whispers, “Peng got laid.”

Namtan’s whole expression turns to shock. “I thought you were just a grumpy old asexual.”

“Oi, you’ve met my ex,” Off whines.

Namtan shrugs. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

Off rolls his eyes, but he’s not really annoyed, can’t bring himself to truly be anything other than happy deep down.

Nudging Off, Namtan raises an eyebrow, “So who was the lucky lady? Or fortunate fella?”

Off opens and closes his mouth, blushing.

“Ooh, it was a fella!” she coos, and Off shushes her. She leans in closer. “It was P’Gun, right? P’Off and P’Gun always had this chemistry and my friends said I was crazy to ship it because you’d never pull your head out of your ass—no offense, P’Off—but it was P’Gun, wasn’t it?”

Off isn’t going to answer, if only out of embarrassment. Namtan sounds pretty sure that he’d been obviously into Gun for ages and Off had only just realized, which only makes the whole situation more embarrassing.

“Papii,” Gun calls.

Off whips around towards the door and sees Gun, immediately going to greet him and noticing Gun walking in gingerly. “You okay, Gun?”

“Sore, Papii,” Gun says with a pout. “Gun should’ve just stayed here. Too many stairs today.”

“Do you want— Er. Lunch? Or coffee? Or—” Off hears himself and closes his mouth.

“Uiii,” Namtan squeals. “I was right! OffGun is real!”

“Shhh!” But Off turns from shushing her back to Gun. “Erm. But. Should we…talk now?”

“About what?” Gun asks, but he’s blushing at Namtan’s calls, which have drawn a few more eyes their way.

Off can hear Tay loudly whispering to Namtan, “Jumpol isn’t sure if Nong Gun wants to be his faen or not. I wouldn’t blame Nong Gun for wanting to ‘try before he buys’ but he seemed to like the product my Pengyou was giving away.”

“P’Tay,” Namtan half-scolds, sounding far too amused although she’s trying for scandalized.

Gun raises an eyebrow at Off. “Is that what Papii wants to talk about? Whether we’re together?”

Off scratches the back of his head, exhaling harshly. “Let’s go talk about this where Ai’Tay can’t hear us.”

“No more walking,” Gun whines.

“Just a little,” Off promises. “Do you just want to go back upstairs?”

“Bold, P’Off!” Namtan shouts. “I like it.”

Off gives her the finger and Gun complains but complies as they climb back up the stairs.

Gun doesn’t even stop in the living room, he trudges straight to Off’s room and collapses onto the bed. “Not moving ever again,” he claims.

“Is it really that bad?” Off asks, guilty. He takes a seat on the edge of the bed.

Gun scooches over, pats the spot beside him, waits until Off is in place before he hums in consideration. “It’s not that it’s that bad, but Gun hasn’t done it in a long time. And Gun was excited and we fucked a lot.”

Off is proud and embarrassed all at once. “You haven’t done it in a long time? Do you normally, you know, er. Top?”

Gun smiles at Off, something curious in his expression. “Gun hasn’t slept with anyone for a long time,” Gun says.

“Oh.” And they’re lying on the bed, facing each other. It’s all exceedingly intimate. “Why not?” Off finds himself asking, isn’t sure what he wants the answer to be.

Gun’s fingers pick at the bedspread. “Because Gun liked someone too much.”

Off gulps. “Oh.”

Gun smirks at Off’s response. “Is that all Papii can say? Does Papii already know who Gun liked?”

Partially just to be annoying right back, Off shrugs. “Oab.” He yelps as Gun pinches his side.

“Is that really what Papii thinks?” Gun is pouting now, but all Off wants to do is kiss him.

So he does, leaning in and pressing his lips to Gun’s before remembering that they’re trying to talk that all out now. Is he even allowed to— Well, Gun probably doesn’t mind that part, at least. He kisses Gun again, and Gun’s fist clutches the front of Off’s shirt, drags him in for more.

Gun breaks away first. “Does Papii still think Gun likes Oab?”

Off shrugs, a memory niggling at the back of his mind. “Hoi… If you weren’t with Ai’Oab, why didn’t you correct me back then?”

“Gun did spend the night at Oab’s, so that part was true. Gun didn’t think Papii would believe me if I said nothing happened.”

“Why wouldn’t I believe you?” Off asks, curious.

Gun tilts his head. “Why would Papii believe me?”

“We’re friends,” Off says, then bites his tongue.

“Friends,” Gun repeats, as if the word is distasteful and disappointing.

“Before!” Off corrects quickly, seizes up, sighs and looks over Gun’s face. “We’ve been friends a long time, Ai’Gun. You think I wouldn’t believe you?”

“It’s hard to think about Papii thinking that I’m sleeping with someone else,” Gun mutters.

There’s silence for a moment, but Gun’s hand clenches and unclenches in Off’s shirt and Off finally says, “You’ve liked me a long time? How long?”

Gun shrugs. “Probably since Gun met Papii.”

“Ohooo.” Off can feel himself grinning. “That long?”

Nodding, Gun cuddles in closer to Off and Off can smell Gun’s distinct scent, one so familiar that he’s only just realized how much he likes.

“Why? I’m not very nice or anything,” Off says, wrapping his arms around Gun more securely.

Gun’s nose is against Off’s neck, inhaling, tickling the skin, and he leaves a few kisses. “Gun just liked Papii. Papii wasn’t even as handsome then as he is now.”

Off splutters. “What?”

Gun seems to ignore the question. “Papii made Gun feel safe, like Gun had someone who could always be there, even if Papii seemed mean on the outside. Papii started being sweet to Gun a long time ago. Did…” Gun nuzzles into Off’s neck for reassurance. “Did Papii ever know he liked Gun?”

Off shakes his head, but hesitates. “If I think back, I guess… I got used to the way you were with me. I don’t think I would’ve let someone get that close, get away with the things you did, if part of me didn’t think…” Off presses a kiss into Gun’s hair. “But I can’t lie to you, Gun. I didn’t know. Not really. Not until all this happened recently. Not until after we were dry humping in your bedroom,” he says the last as a tease, which makes Gun’s face bury deeper into his chest.

“Papii, embarrassing,” Gun says.

“But it made me realize I wasn’t just kissing you because we were high or because you wanted to kiss me,” Off continues, more serious again. “I just thought you were taken.”

Gun laughs into Off’s shirt. “Maybe Gun was.”

Off startles. “What?”

Pushing against Off’s chest, Gun makes space enough between them to look at Off. “As soon as Papii kissed Gun back, Gun was Papii’s.”

Off’s heart thumps in his chest and his eyes meet Gun’s. “Should I ask?” Gun nods, so Off heaves a breath. “Do you want to be with me, Nong Gun?” he asks, far too sweetly, even though his anxiety spikes just asking the question.

Gun’s face scrunches up, pleased and shy, and he pecks Off on the lips. “So bad, Papii.”

Off gives a strange little nod of affirmation, suddenly nervous for what this means.

“Don’t panic, Papii,” Gun tells him. “Or did Papii not mean it?”

“I meant it,” Off says quickly. “I— I want to be with you, Gun. I’m just scared I’ll ruin it.”

“Uiiiiii. Papii is so cute.”

The next thing Off knows, they’re making out.

Which is how Tay gets the confirmation that Off and Gun are together.

About a week later, Gun drags Off to a party at Nanon and his friends’—are they just friends?—place.

Gunsmile invites Off out to smoke with a couple of the others and Gun tags along.

“I thought P’Gun couldn’t hang after the way he choked last time,” Gunsmile jokes.

“Nong,” Gun mutters, and Off stifles his laughter. “Gun can handle it. Papii, pass me a hit.”

It’s a bit intimate now, doing it in front of everyone, but there’s nothing overtly wrong with passing a hit. Off sucks in the smoke, holds Gun by the back of his neck, and passes him the hit. He doesn’t expect the peck after, but it doesn’t shock him either.

“Whoa, phi! You kissed Jumpol and he didn’t smack you?” Gunsmile crows.

“P’Gun is too cute to hit,” Ssing says, pulling Gun into his arms.

“Oi, oi, oi!” And Off pulls Gun back against him.

Ssing and Gunsmile share a look, then raise their eyebrows at Off and Gun.

“Only I can manhandle my faen like that,” Off says. He passes Gun another hit as the others croon.

“So that’s how it is,” Gunsmile says with a grin.

Gun sticks his tongue out at Gunsmile and shoves his hands up the back of Off’s shirt, practically vibrating with happiness. Off can’t be embarrassed of it with how pleased Gun is at being his boyfriend.

Off and Gun, however, have gotten into a weird habit that they probably should be embarrassed about. Once he and Gun have gotten inside, he takes a seat on the couch, and Gun sits on his lap.

It only comes natural for their lips to meet. What else are they supposed to do when they get high together?

“Phi!” Chimon shouts, and he’s poking Gun’s shoulder. “Aren’t you guys too old to make out?”

This causes Gun to scramble from Off’s lap to scold Chimon and the two run around, laughing and playing with Gun seeming partially annoyed.

Eventually, Gun returns with food and starts feeding Off, much to Tay’s feigned disgust.

Off is pretty sure everyone in the world knows they’re together now.

Or, at least, it had seemed that way until a week or so later.

Off is so used to Gun’s visits these days that at the sound of the bell, he lifts his chin, readying his neck for Gun’s assault. Most of the customers now know they can’t gawk unless they buy a book, so it’s been strangely good for business.

It’s a moment like this, with Gun kissing his neck, when he’s about to let go and kiss Gun because it’s just about closing and he wants nothing more than to take Gun upstairs and do unspeakable things to him, that the bell rings again.

Off doesn’t bother looking up, expecting Tay.

There’s a gasp and he turns with Gun to see Oab. “I guess things worked out.”

Gun waves at Oab, but Off wraps his arms tighter around Gun.

Oab laughs and gestures to the shelves.

“Does Oab need help finding a book?” Gun asks, as if he were an employee. “You know, Gun has to thank Oab,” Gun is saying as he escapes Off’s grasp and walks over. “If Papii and P’Tay hadn’t run into Oab, Papii would still think OabGun was a thing.”

“Trust me, I got farther with P’Tay than I did with P’Gun,” Oab assures, perusing the shelves, giving Off a wink. “I’m really not here to steal your boyfriend, P’Off.”

Off chokes on air, but Oab tosses an arm around Gun and the Tay comment is forgotten.

“What are you doing if not trying to steal Gun?” Off grumbles, eyeing them.

“Well, I know P’Gun has a faen,” Oab explains. “If I thought even for a second that P’Gun had a boyfriend, I definitely wouldn’t do anything. Like make out with him at every opportunity. Or fool around with him.” He gives Off a pointed look as Gun ducks his head, to hide embarrassment, laughter, or both.

“Hoi! You weren’t even together!” Off argues, but he’s resisting the urge to get between Gun and Oab.

Oab nods, hums, pulls out a book from the shelf and brings it over to the counter. Gun is still hanging onto Oab as Off rings him up. “It’s true. We weren’t together…but you totally thought we were.”

Off blanches. “Get out, Ai’Oab!”

Oab does so with one last grin tossed to Gun, who locks the door behind him.

Gun tugs at Off’s sleeve in an effort to distract him. “How far do you think Oab got with P’Tay?”

Ah, the encounter’s silver lining.