When Pran opened the door to his house, the first thing that greeted him was his mother's embrace. Then she started sobbing, holding him tight. Pran was too tired, too heartbroken, to return it. He let his hands hang low on his sides.
"I'm sorry, my son. I'm so sorry."
She kept on crying, hugging him even tighter. Pran saw his father standing beside her. He could not read his expression. He was not sure if he was mad or if he was worried. Then Pran started tearing up once more, and his dad lost composure and leaned against the railings of their stairs, eyes now filled with concern.
"I'm happy you came back." He heard his mother say, and she finally released him. She saw his freshly fallen tears and wiped his cheeks.
"Mom," he choked. He clutched his bag closer to his chest.
"Hmm?" She hummed, brushing his hair.
"I'm h-hungry." He said, his voice breaking.
She finally smiled. "I know you are."
This dinner was the quietest one Pran has ever had. He could not hear anything other than forks and steel chopsticks faintly banging against the porcelain bowls. Pran focused on his food. It was too good. It was too good, and he missed it so much. He missed his family. He didn't want to give up Pat, and he didn't want to give this up either. Why could he not choose both?
Then Pran dropped his chopsticks and he started bawling. Right there. His parents automatically dashed away from their seats and crouched beside him.
"M-mom, I'm—" But the words wouldn't come out. His vision started to blur again.
"Darling, do you want to talk about it?" His dad asked. Pran looked at him, as if he didn't recognize this person. His dad never spoke to him like this. He was the one who introduced him to play the guitar, saying he should learn a musical instrument or two. He was the one who made him pursue interior design because he loved talking about it. He did not have to ask Pran for his opinion. Or how he felt about them. He just knew because he knew his son so well. But right now, he's lost.
"Mom, Dad," Pran tried to calm himself down. "I don't like that I have to choose between you and Pat. Why can't I choose both of you? I don't want to lose either of you because you make me happy. If I have to, is that really living?"
"But you're too young, Pran, to get serious with him like this. We could never get along with his parents. What are we to do? His parents wouldn't like it either." His mother said. They both dragged their chairs to sit beside their child.
"Mom, I've been in love with him since high school."
"Even before you took me away and enrolled me in a boarding school."
"Pran, do you love him that much?" His dad asked.
"I do, Dad. Losing him again felt like losing a limb. I don't think I could ever love another person. If I could, I would have done so already. But it's always been him."
"Is it worth it to go against what we want?" His mother asked.
"I wrote, played guitar, and sang many songs to him. All the songs are about him."
"You played guitar again?" She asked.
"I have always gone against what you wanted, Mom. Even though I tried so hard to follow you. He... Pat even scolded me about it." He smiled, remembering their conversation at his old school.
"Son, we really didn't want you to be miserable. We were just thinking of what's best for you. I was scared that his father might do the same to you."
"Pat is different from his father."
"We know, son. He looked so disappointed in him when he found out the truth. I felt so bad for that kid." His mother confessed.
"And I've noticed that before we all found out how happy you've been. Don't you think we didn't notice how you smiled more often? You kept staring at your phone so much. You couldn't hide your feelings at all. How about this, do you want to invite Pat here and have dinner with us?" His dad said.
"Dad, what are you saying?" He asked, eyes widening.
"Come on, let's be better parents and be more understanding than they are." He continued.
"B-but... we broke up."
"I... son, I'm sorry." His mom said.
"We ended it before coming here."
"Are you sure you really wanted it to end just like that?" His mom asked.
Pran looked at them in the eyes. They seemed to be genuine in accepting Pat.
"No," he replied softly.
"Then call him. Text him."
'mom's inviting you for dinner'
When Pat received the text from the person he thought he would never hear from again after tonight, he almost dropped his phone to the ground.
He just broke the news to his parents. He apologized to them and told them that they had broken up. They felt relieved. Once again, he was the perfect, unassuming son in their eyes. But Pa looked worried as she glanced at him in their living room. And even more so, when he said he was not eating dinner, as he had already eaten before coming back. And that he needed to ask his classmates if there was anything he missed at school.
But the truth was, he had no appetite. He felt like dying. He went back to his room, closed the door, and collapsed on the floor. And he cried and cried, stuffing his mouth with the collar of his Hawaiian shirt. Pran's window was just there. He could just jump over and be in his arms just like he did the night before.
But he could not. So he just sat there lifelessly, twirling his phone on the ground, thinking about what he was going to do tomorrow. Oh boy, he did not want to wake up if he was only going to open his eyes in this nightmare.
Someone knocked on his door, but he did not move an inch. His phone chimed in and he saw Pa's text.
'Hiia, it's me.'
Pat finally stood up and let her in. She brought food. He closed the door as quickly as he could and sat behind the door again. Pa placed his dinner on his desk and sat on the bed.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Pat shook his head.
"Hiia, I'm sorry. All those times you had something to say, I interrupted you and let you hear my concern instead."
"It's okay. I'm glad you're happy. Did you already tell Mom and Dad about Ink?"
"I did. They weren't as mad as I thought they would be. But Dad looked at me as if it was not serious at all."
"He's such a jerk."
"Hey, don't say that."
"You and P'Pran..."
"It's true. We ended it before coming here."
"B-But you love him so much."
"I still do. But if it makes everyone happy in this damn house, then I have no choice, haven't I?"
"It's fine, Pa. I'm so sorry, but I don't feel like eating at all."
"Okay, I'll let Mom know."
Pa stood up and took his supposed dinner again. "Hiia, I know everything will be okay. It will always be."
Then his phone buzzed, he saw the text from Pran, and he had never moved so fast in his entire life.
If you told Pat that one day he was going to be able to sit in Pran's dining room, in the house he could never set foot in, he would just express how insane that would be.
But he's actually here, sitting with Pran, and miraculously, his appetite came back from just seeing him waiting on his balcony next door earlier.
He jumped and hit his butt on the ground. Pran laughed at his failed landing. Pat started laughing as well, through tears. His legs were too weak. He didn't know if it was because he had been holding a lot in. Or maybe because he was actually dying to eat some hot food.
"Have you gone clumsy since we broke up?" Pran asked, jumping from his window and helping him up.
"Almost lost half of my life," Pat responded, clasping hands with Pran. And before they could even say anything more, they were hugging and caressing each other's back. Clutching to each other so tightly that the other might disappear at any moment.
"I missed you," Pran whispered.
Me too. It hasn't even been a day. Pat missed the feeling of his skin against him. His smell and how his head fit perfectly on his shoulder.
Pran released him, touched his face, and wiped away his tears. "Stop crying and get inside."
So here he was. Pran's house was actually really nice. He complimented how the interior was so well done, and that earned a tiny nod and smile from Pran's dad.
"What do you know about interior design, huh?" Pran teased as he piled vegetables into his bowl.
"What, I know a bit. I read some books about different subjects when I don't feel like studying our own readings." He said.
Pran's mom finally joined the table, placing her big bowl of Tom Yum soup in the middle. "You read a lot, Pat?"
"Yes, krub." He said. "Pran said if I tasted your cooking I would never want to go back home."
Pran's mom beamed. "I am confident you'd like it and that he's right."
"Dig in, son." Pran's dad said.
"Thank you, krub." Pat's face looked so animated as he ate, but his eyes looked like he was about to cry. Pran just kept watching him eat, a little dumbfounded that Pat, his ex-lover, his friend, his soon-to-be lover, was right here with him.
"Pran," his mom called, interrupting his thoughts, "you can't keep staring at him forever."
"Right," and he started eating again while Pat chuckled at him, wiping the incoming tears from the corner of his eyes.
When they were all done, Pran's mom held both their hands and told them, "I can see that you really love each other. So I am hoping that you take care of each other."
"You're always welcome here, Pat," Pran's dad added.
Pran held Pat's free hand underneath the table, squeezing it tighter.
"Thank you so much, krub." Pat finally said.
"Give your parents time. I would probably never forgive your dad for what he did, but I hope he would stop giving you a hard time and let you be. After all, it's not your fault and responsibility. I'm very sorry, Pat, Pran. That both of you had to go through this."
Pat's started tearing up again. Pran pulled him into a side hug.
Pa's right, everything will be okay. Anything can be solved. As long as they are together.