From Finner

After every sunny day

Came a stormy night

That’s when Finner would say

“Keep your head held high”

Of Monsters and Men


Teh ends up dragging Oh-aew to the other end of the beach. Even though he would really like to go back to the party and lift Oh-aew up and say yes I got him back, look at this beautiful face, how lucky am I, Oh-aew seems a lot more brittle. His hand in his is shaky and cold and the tears on his cheeks haven’t dried up.

He’s quiet now, with his lips pressed together into a tight line. His eyes seem solemn as he stares into the horizon far across the ocean.

Teh looks at Oh-aew looking at the sea and thinks about how happy his mom would be seeing them together again. She would hug them both and maybe she would hug Oh-aew a little bit tighter, a little bit longer, with tears in her eyes and Teh would cry even more.

But she’ll be happy tomorrow too.

He squeezes Oh-aew’s hand, and he turns to look at him.

“Wanna go back to my mom’s place? They’re all staying here for the night.”

Oh-aew looks surprised.

“You don’t wanna go back to the party?”

“I just wanna be with you,” he says and pulls Oh-aew closer to himself.

“What about Hoon and Nosomi? Won’t they be upset if we go?”

“I just wanna be with you,” he says again because that is the only thing that matters.

Oh-aew takes a deep breath and then he ******iles. It reaches his eyes and Teh knows he’s made the right call.

And so they sneak away from his own brother’s wedding and he knows Hoon will scold him tomorrow and his mom will scold him even more. Poor Nosomi won’t say anything. She’s too kind for this family.

But he’ll take all the scolding in the world if it means Oh-aew keeps his head on his shoulder and his hand on his thigh as they make their way on the ferry to the shore. He’s still shaking so Teh tries to rub warmth into his knuckles while his other hand goes up and down on his arm. I will make you so happy, he thinks, methodologically, with every caress, just wait and see.

They push together the beds in his old room and as Oh-aew crawls into his arms and kisses the skin beneath his ear, Teh thinks, with the same conviction he decided that his mother would see him on the big screen someday, I will never let go of you again.

Oh-aew had said no promises but Teh will make them for him anyway.


Oh-aew looks very tired sitting on his bed with his forehead tucked between his bent legs. Teh rubs his back and fights with Chompoo on the phone.

“You need to delete that photo. That’s non-negotiable.”


“You need to tell your fans it was nothing. A joke.”


“And then you are going to come back here and lay low. Stay away from each other. Teh. That’s non-negotiable.”


Oh-aew turns his head and Teh runs his fingers down his crinkled nose. Oh-aew closes his eyes and Teh runs his fingers on top of his eyelids too.

“Chompoo. Oh-aew is my boyfriend and he’s going to stay in my life. That’s what’s non-negotiable. Now you tell me if you still want to work with me? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here.”

For the first time in his life, he’s shocked her into silence. Oh-aew grabs his fingers and brings them to his lips. Teh lets his fingertips slip into his open mouth absentmindedly.

Oh-aew’s eyes bore into Teh’s soul. He feels his cheeks heat up.

“Let me talk to him. Your boyfriend,” Chompoo says on the other end of the line.

Many things happen at once. He pushes his fingers deeper into the warmth of Oh-aew’s mouth and tries to hang up on Chompoo. Oh-aew bites down, Teh yelps and drops his phone into Oh-aew’s waiting hand.

They talk for a while and Oh-aew is like he always is, kind kind kind. The entire time Teh wants to wrestle the phone away from him. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Oh-aew with Chompoo but that he doesn’t trust her not to destroy the happiness he just got back. As he imagines Oh-aew getting up and walking away from his room and his life, it becomes very difficult to breath.

When Oh-aew hands him his phone back, the call ended, Teh is ready to give up acting for him. It’s on the tip of his tongue but then Oh-aew says:

“She says we can make it work. That she’ll handle the questions but that we should try and be discreet at least. She just wants to keep you and her job.”

Teh looks at Oh-aew and his heart hurts. It hurts with how much he loves him.

Oh-aew runs his hand across his forehead.

“Together, remember?”

Teh takes a hold of his head with both of his hands, as gently as he can, and kisses him, as surely as he can. It feels exactly like it did the first time he kissed him underneath the water, just as terrifying and exciting. Cold water rushes in his ears and he can’t remember how he ever forgot even a second of this.

As he pushes Oh-aew down on his back and climbs on top of him, he thinks, I will never forget how important you are to me.


It’s easy in Phuket.

It’s too hot to stay in bed for the whole day but they do it anyway, phones forgotten and turned off on the floor. When Oh-aew tries to leave, Teh pulls him right back in.

“I need to pee.”

“No, you don’t.”

Oh-aew laughs.

“I really do.”

“No, no, no,” Teh mumbles and wraps all his limbs around him. Oh-aew keeps laughing but he stays and he’s there when Teh opens his eyes again and that’s enough.

It’s easy because even when Teh says I love you and Oh-aew only looks startled, his mom is there too, pressing kisses to Oh-aew’s cheeks and Hokkien Mee into their hands. It’s easy because the ******ile on Oh-aew’s face is warm when he takes a hold of Teh’s hand underneath the table.

It’s easy because when Oh-aew hands him a new journal to catalogue his feelings and Teh fills the first page with his love, it’s like a new beginning. It feels like they’re both trying.


It’s surprisingly easy in Bangkok too.

Teh doesn’t realize he’s been holding onto his breath ever since they crossed the city lines until a week later when Oh-aew whispers sleepily into his chest:

“Can you just stay here forever?”

Teh’s hand drawing intricate patterns into Oh-aew’s back stops. They’re lying in Oh-aew’s bed and he can see his own shirts thrown around on the floor, his shoes next to Oh-aew’s, the poster of himself he taped into the wall in front of the bed despite Oh-aew’s loud complaining. His key that Oh-aew had handed to him as soon as they had stepped in is on the bedside table.

He has been staying here and he doesn’t want to ever go back to his own apartment. It was never nothing but a cold empty place to stow away his stuff anyway. It was never home.

Something cracks in his chest and he feels like he can breathe again.

He lifts up his head and kisses Oh-aew. Pries open his lips with his own. Swipes his tongue against his and bites down on his lip. Oh-aew groans.

“Is that a yes?” he whispers against Teh’s lips.


He rolls on top of Oh-aew and presses his hands onto the mattress. Oh-aew is ******iling at him and there’s a mischievous spark in his eyes that Teh recognizes better than he does anything on his own face. He remembers seeing it when he told Oh-aew not to laugh at him eons ago and it hasn’t changed.

“I love you so much,” he says.

Oh-aew wrestles his hands free and wraps them both around him as he kisses him. His nails leave moon shaped marks in the back of his neck.


Things are harder in China.

Being discreet means that Oh-aew can come to China with Teh but he can’t come with Teh. Being discreet means that Oh-aew is there at set almost every day, putting his hair back in place between takes but outside, he’s very kindly pushed aside and Airy is pushed into Teh’s arms while the cameras keep rolling on even when the script isn’t.

And every time that happens Oh-aew ******iles and nods politely but the ******iles never reach his eyes and Teh feels horrible. It feels too much like before, like Oh-aew ******iling and nodding for Teh and his dreams even if it’s breaking him in the process.

He doesn’t know what he should do.

“And the fact that it’s your ex. I’m pretty sure she hates me.”

“She does not hate you.”

“Then why does she keep giving me those dirty looks?”

“I’m pretty sure she’s giving them to me. She’s my ex.”

Oh-aew lets out a big whine and lowers his head on Teh’s shoulder.

It’s just the two of them, sitting in Teh’s dressing room, which means that he can hold Oh-aew in his arms and scratch his back to comfort him.

“It’s only this last project, okay? After that I’ll be done with her.”

“You don’t think they want you two to keep doing this thing together? It’s good distraction. From me,” Oh-aew says quietly. He’s picking apart the thread of Teh’s pants by the knee.

Teh stops him and grabs his hand.

“Well, I don’t care what they want, we’re not doing that. Okay?”

“Okay,” Oh-aew answers but it doesn’t seem like he believes him. And he can’t really blame him. They didn’t make him publicly deny anything but he also hasn’t been allowed to do anything after he hit post on Instagram. And then there’s the thing with Airy.

It only means that Oh-aew has been left alone to handle almost everything. When Oh-aew had to make all his social media accounts private because the abuse had gotten out of hand, Teh had screamed at Chompoo for two hours for not letting him defend his boyfriend. He might as well have yelled at a tree with how much good it did.

“After we come back from China, you can do whatever you want. But if you still want to do this project, you need to hold on a bit longer,” she had said to him.

“We can do that, can’t we?” Oh-aew had said and Teh had nodded then.

He’s not so sure anymore and he doesn’t know if Oh-aew is either.

He thinks about telling Oh-aew that they can just go home, like he keeps telling him everyday, but there’s a knock on the door before he even opens his mouth. Oh-aew lifts his head from Teh’s shoulder at the same time as Chompoo barges in.

“Here you are. We need to get you back in makeup. They want to take some pictures of you and Airy having dinner.”

Oh-aew shifts away from Teh and tries to pry his hand free. He doesn’t let him.

“What? Since when?”

“I don’t know, they just told me.”

“I have plans already.”

“Well, cancel them.”

Oh-aew pulls his hand free this time.

“It’s fine Teh. Just go,” he says, ******iling and nodding.

Chompoo gestures towards Oh-aew like he’s right. That Teh should just listen to him. It’s infuriating.

“Well, why? Why do I have to go and have dinner with Airy? Just to sell some fantasy of our relationship?”

“Honey you agreed to sell that fantasy a long time ago. It’s a little too late to backtrack now.”

Oh-aew gets up. Teh takes a hold of his hand again before he manages to step away completely.


“You’ll do fine. You always do. I’ll wait for you back at the hotel.”

Teh doesn’t stop him even though seeing him leave is making his heart beat too fast and his stomach turn. He doesn’t know what he should do.

At dinner, Teh is miserable company.

“You could at least pretend that you want to be here with me. Otherwise, what’s the point?” Airy says while cutting into her steak. The knife scratches the plate loudly.

“It’s the truth though.”

Airy stops cutting. She stays quiet as she chews. Her eyes never leave the table.

“You know. This isn’t a picnic for me either. I just want to get the job done.”

Her hand shakes a little. Teh sighs and pushes his food around.

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s just hard. Too hard on Oh-aew. He didn’t sign up for this.”

She lifts her gaze up and looks at him. He gets the distinct impression he’s being evaluated and judged lacking. It’s not a new look.

“Yes, he did. When he agreed to be your boyfriend, he signed up exactly for this. Unless he’s an idiot. Is your boyfriend an idiot?”

“No,” Teh says, feeling offended on Oh-aew’s behalf.

“Well good. Then he knows how to keep it professional. As do you.”

It’s not a question so Teh doesn’t say anything. Once upon a time, her ruthless ambition had been the thing that had attracted her to him. Now, he just misses his heart back in a very nicely decorated, enormous but lonely hotel room. Wonders why Oh-aew wants to be with him when he knows he was and still is exactly this exhausting.

When it’s time to leave, he guides her out with a hand on the ******all of her back. Everybody seems happy with their performance despite the fact that Airy has pressed her fingers together into a fist so hard Teh can see the red marks on her palm and he’s spent more time staring at his phone than at her.

Oh-aew hasn’t responded to any of his messages.

He doesn’t wait around to see if they are going to come up with something else for them to do and jumps into the first available car.

The hotel room is dark when he arrives, but the city lights are enough to illuminate the figure on the bed, tucked underneath a pile of blankets, with his back turned to the door. Teh undresses and climbs in right behind him. He grabs Oh-aew by the waist and pulls him into his arms.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers with his lips pressed against the back of Oh-aew’s neck. There is a long silence that follows that makes him wonder if Oh-aew is going to pretend that he’s sleeping. But then he takes a hold of his hand that’s wrapped around him.

“It’s okay,” Oh-aew whispers back.

“Is it really? Are you okay?”

Oh-aew sighs. He turns around in Teh’s arms so that he’s facing him.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s too stressful for me to be here. For the both of us.”

He opens his mouth to deny it but Oh-aew continues before he has the chance.

“I know how important this is to you. You shouldn’t spend all your time worrying about me.”

“And you think I’m going to somehow worry less if I don’t see you?”


Teh rises up onto his elbow so that he can look Oh-aew straight into his eyes.

“I won’t.”

Oh-aew ******iles a little.

“Then maybe I’m just selfish. I think I might worry less if I didn’t have to see you with her so much.”

Teh lowers his head onto Oh-aew’s chest. Oh-aew winds his fingers into his hair and ******ooths out his fringe.

“I get it,” he says eventually because he does, even if he doesn’t like it.

“Your movie is going to be brilliant. You don’t need me here to watch over you. I know you can do it.”

He wants to protest. He knows he doesn’t need Oh-aew here to do a good job, he needs him here for himself, because that’s what he wants, because he’s scared to let go even for a second, because what if it’s the last second?

But that’s not helpful. He can’t be the one that’s selfish, not with this.

“Okay,” he says.

Oh-aew kisses him.

“Good boy.”

When Oh-aew leaves the next day, he tries not to think about him. And maybe it is easier to concentrate on work when his singular focus is honed-in only on delivering the scenes. All the other stuff he does on autopilot. It is easier.

But only in some ways. It’s still impossible not to stop and wonder every time he goes to bed how empty his life had been when it had been like this, when acting was the only thing he had. He calls Oh-aew every night to alleviate that creeping anxiety, to make sure he hasn’t been left alone again, that he hasn’t messed up this time, that he still has this.

Oh-aew answers every time and so Teh manages.

Chompoo comes to him the day they finish shooting, letting him know there’s been an offer for another project. A series. Shot in China. With Airy and him as the leads.

He knows what’s being left unsaid here. It’s not difficult to turn her down.

“Does Oh-aew know that you’re turning down roles for him now?”

Teh scoffs. It’s a low jab Chompoo should know better not to use, not when they handed her the ammunition themselves by letting her into their lives.

“The only role I’m turning down for him is the one you are forcing me into off-screen. And besides, if I can’t act on-screen without Airy as my partner, I might as well stop acting altogether. Has Airy even said yes to this?”

Chompoo stays quiet which tells him everything he needs to know. If he knows anything about Airy, it’s that she wouldn’t shackle herself to Teh even if it was the only way she could act.

Chompoo leaves then and Teh calls Oh-aew before she has the chance.

“It’s the best thing I could do for my career. It’s the best thing I could do for myself.”

Oh-aew hums.

“I trust you to know what you want to do.”

In his notebook, he fills two pages with Chinese letters.

I know what I want.


Still. Sometimes things are just harder.


Teh comes out, publicly, and tells the world in no uncertain terms that Oh-aew is his boyfriend.

When he finds Oh-aew crying in the empty bathtub, fully clothed, in their brand-new apartment, the one they had to move to because it had better security, he wonders if it’s too much to ask of him. If being with him is just too much.

He climbs in behind him and gathers him into his arms.

“I’m just so tired,” Oh-aew sobs into Teh’s neck.

Teh cries with him because even if it’s too much, he’s too selfish to let go either, to offer any easy way out.

“I promise it will get easier.”

I promise you.

And it does, eventually. Eventually, the reporters only ask how’s his boyfriend instead of asking if he stole him from Airy, and does his boyfriend know he’s broken the hearts of so many fans? How sure was Teh actually? Wasn’t it confusing?

Eventually, the fans, at least the ones he can call his own, only keep asking him to post more pictures of the two of them.

But there’s carefulness in Oh-aew’s steps now that wasn’t there before.


And the carefulness sticks like tar.

Teh says: “I love you.”

Oh-aew looks down to the ground.

Teh says: “Why do you keep doing that?”

“What?” Oh-aew asks, defensively. Guiltily.

“Me telling you that I love you. Why does it feel like you don’t want to hear it?”

Oh-aew looks away now. Bites his lip. Teh can see he’d rather not talk about this but that’s not good enough, not this time around.

“You’ve not said it back either. Is it because…you don’t feel it anymore?” Teh whispers.

Oh-aew takes a deep breath. He shakes his head.

“It’s not that. Of course I still feel it,” he says, voice breaking.

“Then what?”


“What? You need to tell me. How is this ever going to work if you don’t?”

Oh-aew turns his head towards the sky. There are tears in his eyes.

“I’m just scared.”

He doesn’t keep going.

“Of what?” Teh says, his own voice breaking this time. He reaches for Oh-aew’s hand to tether himself to him and to remind Oh-aew that he’s here. He’s here and he’s safe with him. Oh-aew squeezes his hand back and wipes his eyes. Clears his throat.

“Everything, I guess. Of how much I’m giving back to you. Of trusting it again. You loving me. Look where that got me the last time.”

It’s enough to shatter everything that Teh thought they had been rebuilding all this time. He had thought they had been fine. He had thought that they were in this together, certain and solid, even if the world around them was sometimes uncertain and chaotic. Why did he think that? How does he keep missing these things?

The tears gathering in his eyes start to flow. He pushes his palms into his eyes to try and stop it but it’s no use. He takes one breath. Two breaths. Three breaths.

He thinks about telling Oh-aew I will always love you. But that’s useless. Maybe worse than useless.

So, then he just nods.

“Okay. That’s okay. I’ll prove it to you. And I’ll keep saying it again and again, until you believe it. And you don’t have to say it back, not until you do. Or ever. You don’t ever have to say it if you don’t want to.”

Oh-aew looks at him then, straight in the eyes, for the first time since Teh opened his mouth.

“Just let me keep trying. That’s all I’m asking.”

Oh-aew breaks down, sobbing as he nods and pulls Teh into a hug. It’s as familiar as breathing, Oh-aew’s arms around his waist and his tears on his shoulder.

In his notebook, he doesn’t write I’m going to love you everyday even though that’s what he thinks. He has let Oh-aew go twice now and he knows with as much certainty he could have about anything that he will never do that again, no matter how much the past kept clinging onto them.

But Oh-aew had asked him to not make promises like that so instead he writes You are safe with me.


But the past does keep clinging onto them, like a ghost of a frail old man stuck on their backs and sometimes the weight of it feels too heavy to carry.

Its grip gets a little bit tighter when he comes home and finds Oh-aew with bright red hair again. Teh has to stop and stare for a moment. The air feels like it has gotten thinner.

Oh-aew is leaning against the kitchen island and Teh walks up to him slowly. Pushes at the hair covering his eyes.

“Hey?” he says uncertainly.

Oh-aew doesn’t say anything back. He follows Teh’s eyes carefully, lips pressed into a hard line. Teh runs strands of his hair between his fingers. It’s like red velvet.

It’s beautiful.

It’s making him anxious.

“Okay?” Oh-aew asks, eventually, forcefully.

There’s uncertainty in his eyes too but Teh’s come to realize it’s only uncertainty towards him, not for the decisions he’s making.

“Of course. It’s very pretty,” he says because at least that much is true. Was always true.


“No buts.”

“No buts?”

Teh shakes his head viciously. Oh-aew ******irks at him happily. The air gets lighter, for a moment. Easy enough for Teh to keep going.

“Although…” he says, still running his fingers through his hair, hoping that if he does it enough it becomes more real in his hands.

Oh-aew’s ******ile disappears as fast as it came. He scoffs and rolls his eyes.


“Why now? You haven’t said anything.”

He hadn’t the last time either.

Oh-aew looks away from him.

Teh’s hand stops. He takes a deep breath in as his heart starts beating faster.

Dread. It’s dread.

“What?” He asks.

“Well. It was pretty sudden. I had dinner with this client and we were discussing the ad-campaign he’s going to have with our company. He was into my look and suggested that instead of hiring someone else, we could use me?” It comes out more as a question than anything else. So Teh nods, instinctively.

“And then I showed him some of the pictures when I had red hair and he asked if I could get back to it again. I thought why not. So I said yes.”

Teh opens his mouth. And closes it. And opens it.

“Wow,” is the one he lands on even though his mind got stuck after the first part.

What guy?

It’s not like he’s blind. He knows what Oh-aew looks like. He’s well aware he’s never been the only one who’s been obsessed with him.

“We’re gonna shoot the pictures tomorrow.”

Suddenly, all he can see is sleazy old men behind closed doors.

He moves the hand still entangled in Oh-aew’s hair to rub his ear.

“Can I come?” He asks, as calmly as he can.

“Of course. You really want to?”

Teh nods and Oh-aew gives him one of his blinding ******iles.

Yes, he really wants to. That’s what he has to look after.

When they arrive on set the next day, it’s not behind closed doors. It’s outside, at the pool deck of someone’s penthouse. Maybe it’s the client’s, maybe it’s rented, Teh does not care.

The guy is not old and sleazy, he’s young and in a tailored suit, with a blinding ******ile of his own. It’s much worse than he imagined.

“Hey! It’s so nice that you both could come,” the guy says while shaking Teh’s hand. Teh barely nods.

There’s costumes and there’s makeup and then Oh-aew’s posing in front of a camera, following the directions of a photographer, who’s offering him a steady stream of praises.

He looks good. He does good. It’s obvious.

The client ******irks and rubs his jaw, while singing his own praises.

Teh wonders how he’s going to stop himself from ruining this for all of them. His hands are itching.

The photographer yells it’s a wrap and Oh-aew comes bouncing to him.

“That was so much fun!” He yells while shaking Teh.

Teh can recognize the ****************************** that comes with performing and performing well. He feels it every time too.

But he doesn’t get to say anything before that asshole is already beckoning Oh-aew to him to “talk business” and Teh just hates him with passion.

He can only fidget and stay quiet.

On their way home, Oh-aew tells him that maybe this is something he could do more. That it was fun and maybe after the year he’s had, he needs more fun in his life. That Mr. Asshole has more jobs for him.

Teh just hums and slowly but surely Oh-aew quiets down. And he hates himself then too, for ruining this for him anyway. He tries ******iling but it’s impossible, when all he can see is Oh-aew alone with people like that, people who want something from him. All he can see is the doors close in front of him, Oh-aew’s ******ile the last thing he sees.

At home, Oh-aew strips all his clothes in front of the door and heads straight towards their bedroom. Teh wants to yell after him, to make this thing better, to stop this train wreck from happening. But the past has wormed its way into their living room and it wasn’t leaving. It was there, staring straight into him, accusingly.

So he doesn’t stop it from happening. He only goes after him, quietly.

“I’m sorry for not being more excited. It’s great. I’m happy for you,” he whispers into the back of Oh-aew’s neck, and he wonders if there’s muscle memory there that remembers all of Teh’s apologies. A constellation of sorries drawn with his lips, all the way from his hairline to his shoulder blades.

“It’s okay,” Oh-aew says, like he always does, and Teh should know better than to think that pretending like this will fix anything.

But Oh-aew had said after the year I’ve had.

The year he’s had because of Teh and his dreams. So he stays quiet.

He stays quiet even when Oh-aew stops telling him how his day went.

He stays quiet even he starts coming home late.

He stays quiet even when he comes home in the middle of the night, ******elling like all the expensive drinks pushed into his hands by happy clients.

He stays quiet even he has to go for a shoot out of town and Oh-aew stops responding to him every night.

Until he can’t.

He comes home after a two-week shoot and Oh-aew is not there. It’s not pretty when he finally stumbles in, late and swaying.

One minute, Oh-aew seems to be happy that he’s there but confused, like he forgot. The next, they’re yelling.

“What the hell is happening here? What is happening with us? Why don’t I know what’s going on with you? Why are we not talking anymore?”

Oh-aew laughs, unkindly.

“What should we talk about? How much you hate everything that I do?”

“I don’t hate everything you do.”

“Oh, you don’t? Could have fooled me.”

“I don’t hate the modelling thing. I just hate the awful men that come with it. I’m worried. Can’t you see how they look at you?”

“Who cares how they look at me? I don’t. It doesn’t matter.”

“And what. I’m supposed to just be okay with it?”

“You can be just as okay with it as I had to be seeing you pretend to be in a relationship with your ex all day long.”

“What? You told me you were okay with it!“

“What exactly do you think I could have said? Stop filming, Teh’s boyfriend, who everyone already hates, can’t handle it?”

“Yes! I don’t care what everyone thinks, I told you we could both go home. Anytime.”

“That wasn’t a real choice. You know it wasn’t.”

“Well. At least she really didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. She hated me.”

“Last I checked you didn’t need the feelings to be mutual to cheat on me.”

It’s too much. It’s far too much for Teh to handle. He sits down on the floor and stops pretending this isn’t making him cry. That Oh-aew isn’t breaking him.

That the worst part isn’t the fact that he’s got it all coming.

He feels rather than sees Oh-aew sit down next to him. An arm winds around his shoulders and a light kiss is pressed on the top of his head.

“Teh…I didn’t mean to say that.”

Teh shakes his head. His cries only get louder as he realizes how much everything is slipping away from him.

“Hey, hey, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I was being an asshole. It was me.”

They don’t say anything for the rest of the night. But they go to bed together, wrapped around each other.

In the morning, he brings painkillers and water next to Oh-aew and wakes him up by tracing the lines of his eyebrows. He watches him slowly come awake, ******ile when he sees Teh, wince as he becomes aware of how much his head hurts. Teh nods towards the table and Oh-aew ******iles again when he sees the painkillers.

As he chucks them down and settles on his side, sighing and closing his eyes, Teh ******ooths down his eyebrows again.

“We need to talk.”

Oh-aew opens his eyes.


“I need you to tell me what’s really going on.”

Oh-aew turns on his back so that he’s not looking at Teh.

“I don’t know.”

Teh takes a hold of his hand and kisses his knuckles.

“Please try.”

Oh-aew sighs. He plays with Teh’s fingers for a long while.

“I guess. I kept expecting you stop liking me again. The minute I accepted that job. I wasn’t even afraid. I was sure that it would happen. And when you got quiet, I just got so mad. I didn’t even realize how mad I was.”

“I was just worried. But I didn’t know how to say it.”

“I know, I get that. But I think I knew. I think I knew it was only me who was pulling away. But I felt—feel. Stuck sometimes. I guess. Like I’m going in circles.”

Teh kisses his hand again.

“Oh-aew. I love you. All of you. Everyday.”

Oh-aew turns to look at him then. He ******iles sadly.

“I know. I’m sorry. Sometimes I just forget.”


Oh-aew asks him if he wants him to stop modelling.

He tells him no. He tells him:

“I want you to do what you want.”

And so Oh-aew keeps on modelling. He keeps on working on advertisement as well. He seems to like to do both. He seems happy and so Teh is happy too.


At least there’s a lot less evening meetings with drinks. And sometimes when there is, Oh-aew asks him if he wants to come too.

He wants to.

Even if it’s an exercise in self-hate for him to drag himself to the shady club of the week to drink club soda and watch people try to pick his boyfriend up. He glares and tries his best not to hover. He can’t always help himself. He gets called Oh-aew’s bodyguard a lot and he doesn’t even care. Oh-aew laughs when it happens but he always also corrects them.

“That’s my world-famous actor boyfriend. Don’t insult him too much.”

Teh’s not above admitting that the best part of his night is when they realize who he is. It’s also the part where Oh-aew looks like it’s the best part of his night too.

And really, it’s not too hard to watch Oh-aew dance his heart out in the middle of the dancefloor, glittering with sweat and neon lights, the center of everyone’s attention. He’s beautiful and even if he’s not the only one who notices, it’s not too hard when he sees how little the people fluttering around him matter to Oh-aew. It’s not too hard when Oh-aew comes back to sit down next to him, lifts Teh’s hand over his shoulder and stays there, wrapped in his arms.

It’s not too hard when he knows Oh-aew only ever does what he wants.

He writes it down for himself. I trust you to know what you want.


And yet, the thing about jealousy is that it infects everything and when you notice it, it’s too late.

Teh has always known, even during those times that they spent apart that Oh-aew was his best friend. He’s had friends, barely, maybe, but he’s never had a friend like Oh-aew, someone he trusted with his whole life or wanted to share all his thoughts with, someone who just knew him and got him and loved him all the same. No one had ever come close, so Teh hadn’t bothered to try.

The problem is that he knows it hasn’t been like that for Oh-aew. And maybe if he had tried with others before he wouldn’t be so annoyed when Oh-aew spends an hour on the phone with Q in their bed, right before they’re going to sleep and Teh wants to do nothing else but close the lights and curl around Oh-aew like he does every night.

Maybe when Oh-aew tells him that he’s going to spend the night out with Q, just the two of them, no boyfriend’s allowed, because he needs cheering up from his recent break up, Teh would be a little more sympathetic.

Maybe when he finds out Oh-aew told Q about the modelling before he told him (I was just talking with him when it happened Teh it’s not like that) he wouldn’t feel like it means something other than what Oh-aew says it is.

But the truth is he doesn’t know what Oh-aew is talking about when he says Q is his best friend who he loves dearly and that it’s just different kind of love that what he feels for Teh.

“It doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Or that you aren’t my favorite person in the world.”

“How nice,” he says.

There’s nothing he can do with how sarcastic it comes out. He can’t help himself.

“Teh! What’s wrong with you?”

What’s wrong with him is that he doesn’t understand and so he doesn’t know how to stop himself from feeling like it’s a bad omen every time Oh-aew chooses Q over him, no matter how ******all the thing is.

“Nothing. I just really wished you would have come to the premier with me.”

Oh-aew’s face softens. It doesn’t make Teh feel any better.

“I really really want to come. But I promised him I would help him, ages ago. This launch is going to make or break his company.”

“Yeah fine. I just don’t understand why he has to take the pictures today.”

“He said he was busy. I didn’t ask for his itinerary,” Oh-aew answers quietly. He looks sad and confused, like Teh’s the one not making any sense. Like Oh-aew didn’t understand him after all.

He knows he should just wish Oh-aew good luck and go. But he’s irritated and hurt and what he says instead is:

“Maybe you should have. You know he’s in love with you right?”

Oh-aew’s mouth drops.

He looks angry. But not surprised.

Oh. Of course. He knew.

Teh closes his eyes. Blood is rushing in his ears, and he can feel the beating of his heart in his forehead. He should say something but he can’t.

“You know, Q’s always respected our relationship for what it was because he trusts me to know what I want. Maybe you could try to do the same every once in a while.”

Teh sits down on the ground when he hears the door close. He sits there for a long while, long enough to miss his own premier.

As he settles down on the carpet, he calls Mek.

“You’re such a dumbass.”

“How am I a dumbass? How would you feel if you knew your girlfriend constantly hung around a guy that’s so in love with him a blind man could see it? And that she knew about it? Isn’t that worse?”

“How is that worse? It means that even though Oh-aew knows he’s got options, better options that you, he’s still decided to keep your sorry ass around. Honestly that man is a saint.”

Teh rolls around and taps a beat with his fingers on the soft texture of the threads beneath him.

“I didn’t think about it like that.”

“Of course you didn’t. ‘Cos you’re a dumbass.”

“Thanks. You’re such a good friend.”

“Please, we’re barely friends. I don’t even like you.”

Teh laughs between his tears. It’s true. Mek doesn’t really like him. But he keeps answering his calls anyway. Sometimes he even calls Teh.

It’s been years since they last shared a dorm. It must mean that they’re friends.

“Mek. Are you my best friend?”

“Yack. Definitely not. You know what you need to do now?”

Teh sighs. Wipes his eyes.

“I need to go and apologize.”


“And talk about what’s really bothering me.”

“Yes, very nicely done! Whoever said that you’re unteachable?”

“You said that.”

“Right. Well good job proving me wrong!”

Teh gathers himself up from the floor and takes himself to Q’s studio. There’s staff there that let him in and he finds Oh-aew sitting quietly in the corner, with his legs folded into his chest. Under Q’s watchful eyes, Teh sits down in front of him and takes his hands into his own. Whispers sorry while pressing a kiss into his forehead.

He keeps his head leaned against his.

“I’m just jealous. It’s not your fault. I’m sorry”

“Aren’t you supposed to be at your premier?” Oh-aew whispers back.

Teh shakes his head. Oh-aew sighs.

“You’re going to get in trouble for that.”

Teh shakes his head again and hopes Oh-aew knows how little he cares about any of that. It’s not the thing that’s the most important to him anymore. He decided that a long time ago, in his old bedroom in Phuket, with Chompoo yelling in his ear.

Oh-aew pinches his nose.

“Teh. You know you’re the only one I have ever really loved? Like this, like a crazy person.”

Teh hugs him then.

“I know. Sometimes I forget too.”

He turns off his phone that has been ringing constantly for hours now and spends the rest of the evening sitting at Q’s studio, watching Oh-aew. He goes through the list in his mind, reminding himself what his priorities are and what he needs to do.

When they’re back home, he sits down on the couch and crosses his legs and fingers and tells Oh-aew that he’s jealous because he keeps on waiting for him to punish him for cheating on him. Still. After all these years. He deserves it after all. Oh-aew tells him that he’s not like that. That Teh must know he’s not like that. And he does know. He does.

He tells him that maybe deep down he just finds it hard to accept that he’s not Oh-aew’s best friend anymore because it reminds him how much he ************ed up. That Q has been there for Oh-aew when he couldn’t be. That he knows he himself relinquished that spot when he ruined it all and that he knows he can’t have it back. That some things can’t be reversed or erased. That there’s no way to start over, there’s only continuing on from where you left.

That him not being Oh-aew’s best friend, his person for everything, feels like a just punishment he has to live with.

“I’m not punishing you Teh. Not ever. Even if I sometimes…struggle with some stuff. You have to know that.”

“I know you aren’t. I know you. You’re the best person I know. But I keep waiting for it anyway.”

Oh-aew climbs into his lap and grabs a hold of his face with both hands.

“You’re the best person I know too. And I think you have to stop punishing yourself. We can’t live with this guilt for the rest of our lives. There’s no room for it. Our house is too tiny.”

Teh hugs him and rubs his head against his chest.

“Maybe we need to get a bigger apartment?”

Oh-aew laughs.


“I know. I’ll keep on trying. I will.”

That night he writes into his notebook I trust you because maybe he didn’t really learn it the first time or the second time or the third time. And still, it’s the only anchor he can think of. Trusting Oh-aew to know for the both of them. It’s the only safe way to leave behind the past he’s been carrying on his shoulders for so long he’s forgotten what it felt like not to.


“Have you thought about it?”

Teh turns to Hoon, mouth hanging open.


Hoon just nods towards his wife, sitting underneath the shade, with their mom rubbing her shoulders while Oh-aew rubs his ear to her stomach, valiantly trying to catch the sounds of the baby girl almost ready to come out into the world.

Teh and Hoon are standing out of ear sight in the shoreline. Teh still feels his cheeks heat up.

“Kids? No. What? No, no.”

“Well, I don’t know. Oh-aew seems to be pretty excited about them.”

Teh turns his head to look at Oh-aew again. He has been ******iling a lot ever since they came back to Phuket. And following Nosomi around, patting her stomach whenever he gets the chance to. Does Oh-aew want kids? Does he?

He doesn’t have an answer to that and after a while Hoon just laughs.

“Okay okay. Don’t stress about it too much. You should get married first anyway. When is that going to happen?”

Teh groans.

“Oh, don’t you start. Mom’s been nagging me about it non-stop the whole time we’ve been here.”

“Well, what’s holding you back? You’ve been back together for so long.”

Teh sighs.

As he watches his boyfriend putter around his family, he knows with everything that he has that that’s where he belongs, right here with them. And the truth is that he would have gotten married to Oh-aew that day on the beach, stolen his brother’s moment and wedding buffet if he had thought there was any chance that Oh-aew would have said yes. He was certain then and he is certain now. He knows this is it.

But Oh-aew had said promise me no promises.

Oh-aew still sometimes struggles saying I love you. Oh-aew still looked away sometimes when he did. Not often, but sometimes.

Teh would ask Oh-aew to marry him in a heartbeat if he thought he would say yes. But forever was the biggest promise there was and Oh-aew had only promised to know that right now he wanted to be with him.

He turns to Hoon again and shakes his head.

Hoon tuts.

“You should get married. Weddings are nice.”

Later, their mom drags them all back to her place to make them Hokkien Mee, just like old times. Teh has tried to buy her a new house a million times now, one where she didn’t have to work but she’s refused him just as many times. He doesn’t try anymore, mostly because he knows she’s lonely sometimes and the restaurant keeps her busy. And maybe he can understand her stubborn insistence on things not changing all too well.

At dinner, she’s still hovering over Nosomi, desperate to feel the baby kicking, which apparently only Oh-aew has been around to witness.

“Maybe she just likes me the most,” Oh-aew croons. Nosomi ******iles.

“Like mother,” she says.

“Aww. You know maybe we should just elope.”

Hoon shakes his head and Teh laughs.

“Oh okay, I see how it is.”

“Teh, when are you and Oh-aew going to have kids? I want more grandchildren!”

If she wasn’t her dear old mother, he would kick her underneath the table.

“You can’t already want more grandchildren, your first one isn’t even out yet,” Hoon says and before Teh has time to do anything he opens his big mouth again.

“And besides. They’re not even married yet. You should pressure them on that.”

Hoon is still pretty young and strong. Him he can hit.

“What the hell, shut up!”

Hoon laughs.

“Teh, don’t hit your brother. He’s very right, you know. When are you going to get married?”

“Mom, you just asked me this morning, do you think the answer has changed?”

“Oh, I wanna know what the answer is too!” Oh-aew says suddenly, leaning forward on the table like he wants to be in on the secret.

That stops Teh in his tracks. He looks at him and he has that same glint in his eyes, the one that spells the best kind of trouble.

“I don’t know,” he answers back quietly, slowly, hesitantly.

The rest of them keep on bickering over them but Teh is spellbound, only capable of staring at Oh-aew and trying to find the right answer from his eyes that just seem to say follow me if you dare.

It’s all that Teh needs really. All he’s ever needed.

It’s fitting that when he goes to write in his notebook that night, he finds it running out of pages. Only one page remains blank.

You have everything that I am. My past, my present, my future. You are my family.


When it’s time to go back, Teh insists that they drive from Phuket to Bangkok.

“It will be fun. We’ll get some alone time. Trust me.”

Then the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, only rice fields and a dusty road to keep them company.

“************ing piece of shit of a car! I can’t believe you convinced me to do this!” Oh-aew shouts while kicking the tires with a surprising amount of vigor.

And that if anything means it’s the perfect time.

He pulls out the ring he’s got tucked away in his pants and gets down on one knee.

“So, Oh-aew. What do you say?”

There’s a lot more shouting and a lot more tears but they are happy ones.


At their wedding, he reads Oh-aew his notebook and holds onto him for dear life.

I will make you so happy. I will never let go of you again. I will never forget how important you are to me. I know what I want. I promise you. You are safe with me. I trust you to know what you want. I trust you. You have everything that I am. My past, my present, my future. You are my family.


And we are far from home

But we’re so happy

Far from home, all alone

But we’re so happy

Of Monsters and Men



I know I kinda ************ed the whole ethos of ipytm by writing a fic centered around promises but in fairness, I think that’s exactly the type of person Teh is. Stupid with his promises.

I’m sad to let this one go but I hope this brings some joy to the itsay nation.


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