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OffGun Ficlets for January 2022

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Tay is on vacation with a few friends and is walking around their hotel accommodation with a camera slung around his neck when he sees movement from the corner of his eye. He turns his head towards the movement and spots an area somewhat shrouded in darkness where a solitary figure appears to be waiting for something… or someone. He realizes that the figure is Off for his outfit and is about to raise his voice to greet him when he spots someone barreling into his friend’s side and looping his hands around Off’s arm.

Off is pushed out of the dark area by force but instead of being annoyed, he breaks into a wide smile. Tay is stunned for a few seconds at Off’s reaction as he ruffles the hair of the individual who had just bumped into him – Gun. He sees the shorter individual pulling away in annoyance as he tries his best to pat his hair back in place. Off, still smiling, reaches out his hand to a pouting Gun who acquiesces and takes it. Tay lets out a little gasp when Off intertwines his fingers with Gun’s as they begin to walk off somewhere together. Before they get too far, Tay brings his camera to his eye and snaps a few pictures of the two of them. He reviews the photographs and can’t help but smile to himself as he decides to upload one on his social media in the near future. While he does not think the picture he's chosen fully captured the moment between his two close friends, he remembers what he had said to a babii previously: Some pictures do not need composition.

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Sean had always viewed his heart to be encased in ice because of his previous experiences. When he had let Namo enter his life, he had hoped that she would be the melt his defenses. But after a bit of reflection like Gumpa had suggested, he realized that someone might have gotten close without him fully realizing.

He had begun to waver the day they were supposed to undertake their mission to burn Tawi’s house when Black had shown up again after he had been missing in action for days. He had caught Black trying to force his way into his room on that day and Sean had grabbed the back of his neck roughly but surprisingly hadn’t faced any resistance from the other. The genuinely startled look was so unlike Black that it confused Sean because he had never seen his fellow gang member unsure of himself before until that instance. He recalled then that he and Black were not on good terms and accused him of being a liar and asked him harshly why he was trying to sneak into his room.

Black had grasped for straws while he attempted to think up a good excuse which made Sean annoyed. Losing his temper, Sean fisted his other hand and aimed it at the shorter one’s face but Black made a noise of fear and cowered away. Black was the type of person who didn’t get fazed by anything so his reaction had Sean flummoxed.

“What’s got into you today?” Sean had asked in a softer tone than the one he usually used with when conversing with Black as Yok called his attention away from Black to his motorbike leaking oil.

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After that strange encounter between him and Black, he found himself checking up on the other more often. He was well aware that Black was capable but after Sean had unexpectedly seen him being vulnerable once, it just made him want to help Black out whenever he can. He heard himself use the softer tone more frequently whenever the two of them talked by themselves and during their exchanges, Sean would sometimes think of how it might be fine for him to share to Black the things about himself that he hadn’t even dared to tell Namo. Even Gumpa had mumbled in an offhanded way that Sean seemed to look at Black differently after a loud argument between the two of them had ended with Black walking out of the garage.

All of these thoughts accumulate in his mind and upon introspection, Sean can’t help but think he might have unintentionally thawed for someone already - someone who he had already considered somewhat close to him but had somehow become even closer these past few days, no matter how astonishing it was to think about.

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After multiple pleas for Pick to visit him in the States, he finally acquiesced to his father’s wishes and filed a week – long leave from the veterinary clinic he was working at in Thailand. At the buzzing sound of the doorbell, Mr. Sirinachot goes to the door in a rush and is surprised because he had been expecting Pick to come alone for the holidays. Pick’s father distinctly remembered the underclassman friend who had accompanied Pick. He had come to visit Pick at their house that one time he had gone back to Thailand to check on his son back when Pick had still been studying. He had commented on his sweet face and they had both looked at each other strangely before the friend – Rome, he recalled - had turned back to him with a smile and thanked him for the compliment.

Now that both of them were at his doorstep, he engulfed his son in a hug that encompassed how much he’d missed him, having been unable to get away from his work in the States for over two years now. Pick had not uttered a word throughout the gesture but Mr. Sirinachot could feel his son lightly wrap his arms around him. He breaks the embrace and turns his attention to Rome who had prepared to wai him from the moment he had opened the door.

“Happy holidays, Por.”

Being referred to as father by close friends of his son was not something he was used to (he only knew of one other close friend of Pick’s and Porsche called him khun anyway) but he sets the shock aside as he smiles widely at Rome’s greeting. He engulfs Pick’s friend with a hug almost as long as the one he shared with Pick before stepping back and welcoming them both inside his two – story home. Realizing that his son still had not said anything ever since he’d arrived, he pushes his son to the living room and down on the couch while he remained standing up by the fireplace.

“So… what made you change your mind this year to visit me?”

Pick looked down to his feet as Rome began to enter the living room after clearing the snow off his own boots. Pick’s father motions for Rome to sit on the couch and he does, keeping a comfortable distance between himself and Pick.

“You said it was snowing here…” Pick says as he scratches the back of his neck. “…Rome had never been outside of Thailand…”

Mr. Sirinachot sneaks a glance at Rome who’d turned his head towards Pick since he mentioned his name. He’s pretty sure that Rome also notices how flushed his son had become.

“…and Rome had been saying how he’d like to experience a white Christmas for once with snow and all that.”

Pick’s father nods at this explanation as Rome fidgets with his hands with a grateful smile on his face while Pick continues to look with deep interest at the floor by his feet. He turns around to give both a little privacy as he pretends to polish the decorative plates hanging over the mantelpiece. Mr. Sirinachot sees Rome scoot closer to Pick on the couch in one of the plates’ reflection and hold his son’s hand between his as he murmurs “Thank you, P’ Pick.”

He sees his son raise his head towards Rome and give him a smile as he holds Rome’s hand in his own and squeezes it gently. Pick’s father smiles to himself as he continues to pretend to clean the plates and can’t help but wonder when Pick will tell him about his relationship with Rome.

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T-Rex is browsing on his phone when he comes across a Lazada ad of a hat that supposedly curtails ghost presence around the person wearing it. He knows it's absurd but there are multiple positive reviews under the item and he had thought of Maetee the moment he had seen it and just decides to buy one.

Once it arrives, he presents it to Maetee in the living room who hugs him out of gratitude. Unbeknowst to T-Rex, Maetee had already bought the hat previously and considered the purchase to be a hoax. But damned if he would let the opportunity to hold the man he secretly loved slip from his fingers.

In succession, all other members of the Tee house aside from Watee get home from university and gather in the open kitchen adjacent to the living room.

“So…” Teedet starts. “Wanna bet who’s gonna end the hug first?”

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Third is rendered speechless when Khai presents him with the gift at their shared home.

“Isn’t it nice, teerak?” Khai says as he dangles it in front of his eyes. “Look at how intricate the design is and how nicely woven these threads are! I know how much you love woven things!”

Third doesn’t say anything when Khai moves behind him and he feels like his boyfriend is about to do something absurd just to prove a point. And that is exactly what Khai does as he pulls the fabric hard against Third’s face for a few seconds more than is comfortable for an average person to have something stretched across all orifices of their face. As Third begins to think if he would die being suffocated by the present, Khai’s hands become lax and he returns to his original position in front of Third.

“Wasn’t that lovely, sweetheart?”

Third squints his eyes and is about to ask his faen if he was referring to how he had almost died when Khai rubs the material across his face in a less intense manner and he realizes-

“It’s so soft, right? The texture feels so smooth to the touch despite the complex pattern adorning it.”

Third gives him a nod and Khai gives him that million – watt smile that always made his heart beat a little faster, even back when Khai had been nothing more than his best friend. He is so lost in his smile that he fails to notice how his lover is showing off the length of what he’d purchased for him - them, if Third were to admit it to himself – actually is until he’s wrapped half of it around his neck.

Khai’s eyes seem to sparkle as he holds on to what remains of the cloth. “Love of my life, isn’t this scarf perfect?”

His partner starts to drape its other half around his own neck and when he’s done, he holds Third’s hands in his own. “Just like how we are perfect whenever we’re together.”

Third can’t help the tears marring his sight at those words from Khai but…

“Ai’ Khai…” he begins tenderly as he squeezes his beloved’s hands. “I love the sweet gesture and I can see you really put a lot of thought into this…”

Khai tilts his head as Third trails off and looks down at the floor for a while as he tries to keep his blush under control. Once he's pretty sure that the blush is no longer evident on his face, he lifts his head to look up at Khai with a soft smile... before it turns into a blank look.

“But you can’t ever convince me to wear this scarf with you outside of our house.”

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Maetee’s mother makes a spontaneous visit to the Tee house and this rocks Maetee off - kilter. He appears to be apprehensive of something throughout her entire stay and none of the Tees could hazard a guess as to why he was acting that way.

In the midst of dinner with Maetee’s mother with all of the Tees present, T–Rex begins to feel somewhat chilly and goes to his room to put on a particular pair of knitted gloves which Maetee had given to him a few days back. He had taken a liking to them since Maetee had insisted that he wear them after he had woken Maetee up from what seemed to be a horrible nightmare. A few days of consistent coaxing after that incident, Maetee had admitted that he had dreamt of some spectres dragging T–Rex away and how he had been filled with regret when he was unable to do anything because he was too afraid even in his fantasy. While T–Rex was still unsure why he had bestowed him gloves, he was moved by Maetee’s slip that his life wouldn’t be the same if T–Rex would no longer be a part of it.

As he went back in his seat next to Maetee on the dining table, his friend continued to fret. He put his gloved hand on Maetee’s arm hoping to comfort him but it seemed to have the opposite effect with Maetee’s widening his eyes as he jumped a little in the seat. Everyone on the table turned towards him at the action and he tries to shrug it off but can’t keep his attention off the gloved hand on his shoulder. Seemingly without preamble, the only parent at the table begins to chuckle.

Luuk, I can’t believe you still have the gloves.”

She fails to keep her smile to herself as all of the Tees (except Maetee who suddenly had a keen fascination of his empty plate) turned to swivel towards her.

“Well, technically, you no longer have them since someone else has them on now.” She titters again before getting up, collecting the used plates from their meal, and bringing them to the kitchen where she proceeds to wash them. Maitee rises from his own seat and goes to the sink himself, attempting to convince her to let him do the dishes instead since she’s supposed to be their guest. She eventually acquiesces and takes a seat in the living room as the Teedo, Teedet, and Watee move from the dining table to there to entertain her before she left.

T–Rex and Maetee are left alone at the dining table and the former tries his best to get the latter to talk to him. “Maetee, was your Mom referring to the gloves that you gave to me?” His companion continues to sit in silence without paying him any attention but it doesn’t escape T-Rex that the other’s complexion seemed to be turning redder and redder the more T–Rex looked at him. Growing aware of Maetee’s swelling discomfort, he takes ahold of Maetee’s hand which causes him to gape as he looks toward him.

“Is this okay, Maetee?” T–Rex asks him sincerely, concerned with how quiet he had become. “If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine. I just want you to feel better.”

“It’s more than okay.” Maetee finally responds after a few seconds as he snuggles into T–Rex’s shoulder. He intertwines his fingers with T–Rex’s before holding it tightly under the table. “Just stay here with me. Your presence never fails to make me feel better.”

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Maetee’s mom is about to leave for the night and all of the Tees gather at the porch to see her off. Maetee speaks out first as he stiffly bids his mother a goodbye and promises to message her more often before hurrying back inside the house. Each of the other Tees bid her a polite goodbye in succession before returning to their rooms until T–Rex is the only one left.

“T–Rex, are you not heading back inside yet?”

He shifts on his feet and looks towards the yard before looking back at her.

Mae...” He starts, unsure how to open up the topic but proceeds anyway. “I’m curious as to what you said before we ended dinner earlier.”

“Oh, you mean the gloves?” she asks animatedly as a broad smile takes over her face. “I actually made those myself!”

T–Rex’s gasps out loud and begins to stammer an apology but she cuts him off.

“No, no, no. It’s okay, luuk.” She holds T–Rex’s gloved hands in her own as she frowns to have made the other think he had committed some kind of grievance against her. “I made the gloves when I realized I may have aggravated my son’s fear of ghosts when he was younger. I told him the gloves would help keep the ghosts at bay so long as he had them around.”

T–Rex blinks as she made no move to let go of his hands, as if she still had something to say. So he gives her a nod to acknowledge what she’d just shared as her eyes appeared to twinkle before continuing.

“I told him that there would come a time when he would want to give these gloves to someone special because this person’s existence would outweigh his worry about his own well–being.” T–Rex does his best to keep his face expressionless as his closest friend’s Mom jabbers on. “He always worries about ghosts as if they were out to get him but I assured him when he was younger that they won’t always be what bothers him the most. I had been thinking that maybe I had been wrong to presume that there’d be someone who could accept my son’s irrationality when it comes to the supernatural but…

“…he met you. And all the other friends you live with in this house.” T–Rex could feel his heart swelling but becomes crestfallen upon the mention of the other Tees. He starts to thinks that maybe he wasn’t anyone special to Maetee when his Mom tugs at one of his hands to get his attention back. “But he gave the gloves to you, luuk.”

T–Rex freezes as realization slowly settles in. “I’m his mother. And I noticed he was acting strangely since I arrived in the afternoon but whenever you were near him today, I saw glimpses of my son again – the one that doesn't get worried about ghosts or how I might unintentionally embarrass him… I just saw Maetee as who he used to be before all that nonsense started clouding his real self. I'm grateful for this, luuk.”

T–Rex is overwhelmed as his thoughts continue to race through his head while her eyes swim with unshed tears as she recalls the snatches of Maetee from earlier who has unbothered by his fears and worries. T-Rex’s bewilderment must have shown in his face as he is wrapped into a hug by Maetee’s mother.

“Please continue taking care of my son.” She whispers into his ear before pulling away with a smile and placing her finger directly in his face. “But if you ever hurt him, I won’t ever forgive you, Tee Lek.”

T–Rex’s thoughts are still all over the place but he catches himself saying “I could never hurt Maetee on purpose, mae.”

She beams at him and pats him on the head softly, finally turning around and taking her leave. T–Rex remains immobile on the porch even after Maetee’s mother steps through the gate. He had a lot to process but he can’t stop looking over Maetee’s gloves–his gloves now. He takes each of them off and holds both close to his heart as he smiles while looking at the starlit sky.