Bold: The characters are speaking in English.
Feet trampled down on the green grassy turf in a heated frenzy, the tense atmosphere akin to Liverpool attempting to tie up with Man U… A certain person was running short of breath as he tried to steal the ball away from Wayne Rooney… no, this was just an illusion. Punnaphob, who managed to gain possession of the ball, had a serious expression on his face, as though about to win his team the UEFA Champions League cup. Haru’s cute and adorable P’Pun… his kind senior… with a beautiful smile, struck the ball into the net of the goal with such a ruthlessly powerful kick that the goalie didn’t have the guts to block it.
The yelling and clamour from the other side of the field could be heard… “Hey goalie, why didn’t you block the ball?”
The person standing in front of the net alternated between looking at the ball rolling away and the face of the kicker… “The kick was powerful.”
“Hua, retard… this is football, not a game of ring toss, of course it has to be powerful.”
“That’s not what I mean…”
P’Pun let out a frustrated sigh, shouting abruptly that he was calling it quits despite not even half an hour passing.
His senior’s mood was unusually volatile… not like his normal caring self who frequently offered to give Haru a lift back home. Haru silently observed from the edge of the field… and subconsciously sighed.
This afternoon, after P’Pun had dragged Sasha the troublemaker out of the office, P’Chid’s face was straining with fury. Not because his words had no effect on P’Pun, but rather, he was furious that P’Pun had carelessly abandoned his work despite knowing that there was an interview scheduled at half past five. The interview was with an up-and-coming singer, and not even that far from their office, just a restaurant blocks away. P’Chid, who was furious to the point of that his face turned grey, ordered Haru to tag along with another team and take the photographs instead of P’Pun.
Of course, Haru was terribly apprehensive about this. Haru didn’t like taking portraits, nor did he like fashion photography too… It was already stressful enough last time when he had to substitute in for P’Pun, now P’Chid was the one to entrust him with another burden. Huu… how depressing.
Except, at thirty-one minutes past five, P’Pun’s Nissan car parked right in front of the restaurant with a resounding screech of the braking wheels. With a camera bag slung over his shoulder, the man in question walked straight towards the interviewer, his expression stony like cement.
The pair of eyes glanced at Haru from the corners… ingrained with a mix of anger and hurt.
Allow Haru to stress once more… that he had no clue about the things P’Chid had said, however, now didn’t seem like the appropriate time to try and correct himself.
When his senior, who was currently baring his fangs, opened his mouth to chase Haru off, Haru’s mouth was faster and asked the interviewer if he could observe P’Pun work behind the excuse that P’Chid had told him to learn the ropes from P’Pun. In truth, Haru did not need to provide such a lengthy explanation. However, he wanted P’Pun to know that he had entered this office with pure intentions, and not because he was seeking to climb up somebody else’s leg. Haru could only silently pray that… his message got through to P’Pun.
But he was blatantly ignored…
His senior wasn’t even willing to look him in the face….
Nevertheless, Haru was even willing to become shameless stalker. He stayed glued to P’Pun’s (love) life by following the Nissan in a taxi after his senior had quickly driven away without a single word of farewell. Upon passing merely two intersections, suddenly, the owner of the Nissan who was frustrated beyond repair made a head-lurching brake. He yanked Haru out of the taxi, shoved him into his usual seat beside the driver, stuffed a one-hundred baht note into the taxi driver’s hand, and got on the car to continue driving without saying a single word, from the Arun Amarin intersection in front of the office, to the highway, and all the way to the Asok Montri intersection.
“P’Pun, where are we going?”
P’Pun swung the car into the campus of a famous university in the area, parking the car next to a football field and opening the trunk to grab his belongings.
“I’m going to play football, as for you, you can go wherever you want. Since you wanted to follow me so badly, I brought you with me.”
It’s because Haru was worried that Haru followed you! Haru wanted to protest out loud, yet remained silent… It wasn’t like wanted to be a flea latched onto P’Pun.
“Oh… Pun, is that your junior? Never seen his face before.”
Someone’s voice called out from the back. P’Pun, who was stood taking large gulps of his electrolyte drink, shifted his gaze towards Haru and said nothing.
“What… you’re heading back already? Talk about quitting earlier. I just arrived, let’s play a bit more, you rarely show up too.”
P’Pun waved a hand dismissively. “No thanks, my knee hurts today.” The other party therefore gave in and walked away onto the field.
‘Knee hurts’ as if. Rather, it’s your heart that hurts… Haru thought.
“And are you going to head home or what?” P’Pun questioned with a steely voice upon seeing Haru stood waiting in the same spot.
Haru lifted his face, this caring person was asking such mean things today!
“I’m waiting for you, P’Pun.”
“Why are you waiting for me?”
“Waiting so you can calm down and listen to Haru explain.”
P’Pun was shocked at the words coming out of Haru’s mouth. “What do you have to say?”
Haru pursed his lips tight… deliberating on whether or not to reveal the matter about Sasha. He think he understood now… why the other party had left P’Pun to wait for his phone calls for weeks and not call back at all, why he let the person on the other side wait for him until he lost his motivation to go to work.
This matter was none of Haru’s business… but the side effects had completely fallen onto him.
Sasha… it’s all because of you!
“P’Chid didn’t actually mean what he said, Haru knows.”
P’Pun straightened his face. “So what? You know this because you’re the son of the director?”
“No, because Haru is a biophysicist who loves taking photos as a hobby. Haru has no desire to steal your job P’Pun, do you understand?”
He stilled… as if he had begun to accept it now. But even if he couldn’t accept it, he had to.
“If you keep getting involved with a horrible character like Sasha, I will take care of you myself P’Pun.”
Dunno, however these words should produce at least one outcome: That P’Pun would revert back to working like a proper human being again. As for the consequences… will Sasha turn over a new leaf and take his relationship seriously with this cute beautiful-smiling person, or will Haru have to look after P’Pun according to his words…? That didn’t seem difficult though.
After all, Haru had even helped raise Sasha’s twin sons before.
Taking care of P’Pun as well didn’t seem difficult whatsoever. Sasha, if you don’t love, Haru will claim!
“If you keep getting involved with a horrible character like Sasha, I will take care of you myself P’Pun.”
What did Haru just say…? And what did he mean by it?
“Do you understand what Haru is saying P’Pun?”
Pun shook his head rapidly, imagining that he himself probably looked extremely pitiful, like a deaf puppy.
“I don’t get what you mean… and I… uh… I… don’t have anything to do with Sasha… we aren’t anything together… uh…”
In spite of these very words, he felt his face flush with heat. Furthermore, his chest even felt like it had been clutched by a mysterious hand, squeezing him so tightly that it hurt…. we aren’t anything together…?
On the one hand… he had been the person to deny it… not willing to accept a relationship beyond being friends.
On the other hand… Sasha had been the one to initiate and pin him down, barring him from escape.
Before him, Pun thought he saw the image of the boy with his arms crossed, his serious expression slipping off his face and replaced instead with annoyance. Pun hastily removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes to ensure they were working fine.
“You don’t understand?” Haru pushed the hair falling on his forehead back in irritation. “Fine, Haru will repeat it again. First… Haru does not want your position, regardless of what P’Chid says. And second… P’Pun please listen carefully, I… will take care of you myself.”
“Hua, I’m not a helpless child that needs taking care of.”
“Your age might not match… but your behaviour is identical to one.”
“What right do you have to speak to me like this?” Equally shocked and fuming on the inside, Pun felt he had been insulted.
“You can go back and reflect on it as much as you want, Haru will send you home.”
Upon coming to his senses again, the key to his Nissan was in the hands of the feline face before him. Haru grinned, fangs poking out slightly. “Get in the car quick, the university gates might shut soon.”
Don’t try and play tricks! Pun had been playing football here for years, the university gates never shut.
“Look Haru, you’ve joked around enough, give me the key and I’ll send you home.” Pun commanded, projecting an angry voice.
“Nooooooooooo.” Not only defying his orders, the kitty had a stubborn pout on his face as well. In the end, Pun was forced to cave in, sitting with a sour expression in the passenger seat of his own car. Haru started the engine and turned to remind him with concern: “Are you not going to wear your seatbelt P’Pun?”
“Don’t worry about me.”
The person in the middle of buckling his own seatbelt paused, and before Pun realized… two arms had already encircled him in a hug. A faint scent of cologne wafted up to touch the tip of his nose. He did not recognize this smell despite the fact that they regularly spent the significant majority their days together.
The white and seemingly soft palms… contained more strength than he imagined. Pun wasn’t sure whether he was unable to move because of the shock, or because of the strength concealed behind the adorable appearance of this fussy kitty.
“P’Pun… when you were sick… and collapsed in the middle of the photoshoot like that, Haru was worried to death…”
The boy’s voice was trembling slightly… Pun could sense the sincerity behind his words… along with the feeling of concern which swooped in to stir his parched heart…
“You only worry about him… why don’t you worry about yourself at all…? Don’t do this again… please.”
He couldn’t stay angry… upon peering into these pleading brown eyes…. although he wanted to scream and yell out in frustration… he couldn’t bring himself to do it…
A pair of soft lips brushed against his ear, coupled with a ticklish hot breath.
“In a few more days you won’t be here anymore. But in the meantime… let Haru take care of you, okay P’Pun?”
Oddly enough… the strength that was initially resisting the embrace… eased up.
Haru peered out through the window of the car, watching as the tall slender figure who was hastily trying to open the door to his house drop his keys again and again. The man straightened his body up and inhaled deeply, however, he still did not go inside.
Upon shining the car headlights at him, Haru saw the cheeks which were normally so fair turn a reddish hue, the flush crawling up to his two ears. The owner of the house narrowed his eyes and quickly waved a hand to shoo Haru away, go home already.
But the person sitting behind the steering wheel simply grinned… inwardly amused that P’Pun had forgotten already, that he had yet to return the car…
“What are you doing wiping your glasses in front of your house, it’s dark. If you don’t go inside properly, Haru won’t go back.”
“Quickly go back.” P’Pun spun arround to narrow his eyes at him again, face frowning.
Though he wasn’t smiling, this expression was quite cute as well…
Naturally, Sasha fancied this type…
Cute… shy… and inept at hiding their emotions…
The more they were teased, the more it made people want to eat them up.
He had known several guys who dated Sasha… one by one, they arrived with a smile… and left in tears… Haru felt lucky that Sasha was not his type… otherwise, he might have had to change his status from mandatory babysitter to… semi-willing partner of the owner of the house instead… after all, those blue eyes never missed an opportunity.
Suddenly, he was reminded of… that certain someone again… how did he refer to Sasha… ah yes, golden retriever… a wolf in golden retriever’s clothing… this nickname was truly suitable.
Although they liked to quarrel… they were close friends.
And although he liked to speak in a way which hurt other people’s feelings… no that wasn’t it… rather, he spoke in a way that never gave consideration to other people’s feelings in the first place, Haru still worshiped him a lot…
Remembering him caused Haru to feel sad again… the sadness was eating at his heart to the point where he had to find a way to relieve it by doing something… about the current uncomfortable situation.
He was dead.
Haru hadn’t asked for much, he simply wanted to meet him one more time… just one more time so he could take a look at Haru’s photos…
“Pun already left early this morning dear.” His mom said with a surprised expression, no different than Sasha who was also very surprised, needing to recite her words once over.
“He’s gone to work?”
She was likely at a lost of what face to make and Sasha himself felt somewhat bad as well for ringing the doorbell to Pun’s house, finding that the person he was searching for had already left. Sasha smiled politely.
“A car from the office came to pick him up? How strange, he didn’t tell me.”
“Oh, no dear. Pun’s friend came to pick him up.”
All this time, there has never been anyone to pick Pun up and send him to work other than him. Why all of sudden…?
“It was the Japanese-looking boy with the cute face, he drove here in Pun’s Nissan.” His mom had a sparkle of endearment in her eyes. “He ran over the two plant pots in the front of the house over there, I was planning on coming to clean it up later… probably a junior at his workplace.”
Sasha still maintained a smile in spite of his bubbling emotions, begging farewell to her and quickly driving away in his favourite car. He glimpsed at the luxurious Maurice Lacroix watch on his wrist, frustrated at the unexpected turn of events. Although he wanted to solve this problem right this instant, work had to come first. He did not wish to ruin his work with personal matters.
Kitty, I warned you before, to not mess with Pun!
The deadline for the manuscript was in the following forty-eight hours. As such, the condition of the editorial department resembled a war zone. Be it the sound of the telephone ringing non-stop, the sound of the fax machine, the Mac computers which had been running for a whole sixteen hours and on the verge of overheating, or the graphic design team almost going insane from the abrupt demands to modify the advertising pages by their clients.
And in one corner of the room… was a fair and bespectacled young man… eyes swollen from lack of sleep staring fixated on the screen of the MacBook like his life depended on it. His right hand and mouse had practically fused into one organ. Though expressionless as he worked, inwardly, he was grinding his teeth and cursing the agency of the popular actress featured on this issue’s front cover. They had ordered him to retouch her again, make her a bit more slimmer because she looked like a manatee… Lady, if your fat accumulates in your belly then go on a diet. If you rely solely on retouching, people will riot that the actual movie is a sham.
The desk beside him was no different. Unable to write Thai and also possessing the reading capabilities of a sixth grade elementary schooler, Haru was therefore entrusted to write an advertisement column for a soon to be published Japanese version of a free company giveaway book. The sound of the tapping keyboards which seemed to go on endlessly was coupled with muttered complaints at himself for being unable to write something to his liking.
The chime of the office doorbell could be heard once. Yet no one was generous enough with their time to lift their head up and look. Until eventually, the third chime passed, along with the sound of the rattling door. Mild was the first to lift her face up and peer through the glass door, followed by an exclamation… oh my, someone’s delivering sweets!
The word ‘sweets’ was like a magical spell which caused everyone pause in their tracks. The sound of several stomachs growling and the sound of the clock ticking informed them that it was one o’clock sharp. Everyone looked towards the door and saw that a motorcyclist for hire in the iconic neon orange vest had arrived with an oddly fancy pearl white envelope and two large boxes of cake from a famous bakery.
(TN: Motorcyclist for hire – Multi-purpose drivers who function as a taxi but also as messengers.)
“Cakes for Mr. Pun.” The motorcyclist carefully carried the boxes in and placed them on the counter. Mild unreservedly opened up the boxes and shrilly cried out: P’Punnnnnn… the cakes look super cute and tasty, hoping for the true owner of the cakes to open his mouth a say ‘go ahead and eat’ without taking a single glance.
“Please take this document as well.”
Pun accepted the pearl white envelopment from the messenger somewhat confusedly. Flipping it over front and back, the name of the sender was not apparent. However, when his gaze tripped on the cute petite cakes arranged inside the boxes, each box containing eight pieces, he spotted a small card which read:
Bon Appetit / Sasha G.
Mild picked the card up to study it… looking at Pun… then looking back at the card again before sighing.
“Why don’t I ever get any nice guys sending me luxurious tasty cakes like this?” She complained as she handed out forks to each person. “Okay P’Pun, cut the ribbon, everyone’s waiting to eat.”
Pun felt he could smile a little now. He chose the cake that he liked most and let the refreshing taste of the fruit tart permeate his mouth as he opened the envelope, turning speechless at the surprise.
Inside the envelope was only a few pieces of paper: Invitation tickets to attend an extravagant private car expo that was only exclusive to platinum members with the money to buy three or four luxurious several ten million baht cars in a row. Pun discovered news of this event at the end of last month and had even asked P’Chid to try and secure entry as the press. However, the organizer had turned them down nonchalantly… As such, the invitation tickets in his hands were causing his heart to beat erratically…
The first ticket was for a distinguished guest, specified with P’Chid’s surname on it. As for the second ticket, there was no name. Nevertheless, Pun was very surprised to see a invitation ticket meant for the press with his name and surname on it.
How did he know that Pun wanted to go…?
A small note was attached to it.
‘The organizer is a friend of mine. If you want to arrange an interview or discuss business matters, call him before three o’clock today.
Expecting to see you at the event / Sasha.’
“What kind of person… just knows everything?” He subconsciously muttered to himself before dashing into P’Chid’s office, albeit, with his hand still clutching the fruit tart.
It went as he had anticipated. Editor Chid stared perplexedly at the invitation tickets. “This one is mine?”
“And this one?”
“It’s up to you P’Chid.”
“How did you obtain these?”
Pun replied by rolling eyes across the room. In response, P’Chid narrowed his eyes at him before sighing. “And your ticket?”
Pun smiled till his dimples surfaced, presenting the press ticket with his surname written on it. P’Chid took one look then quickly grabbed the telephone. Hounding down the magazine editorial department in their network, he requested them to reserve a frame for the news column. To add, his mouth also ordered Mild to quickly fax a thank you letter to the organizer of the event immediately.
“He also mentioned as well that if we want to arrange an interview and discuss business matters, we need to contact the organizer before three o’ clock.”
“Ah…” P’Chid stopped thinking for no more than thirty seconds. “Tell Mild to call and arrange it, I’ll interview them myself. Ask Meuk if he’s finished organizing the pages yet and to reserve three pages for me, also uh… tell Mild to get in touch with Mr. Yoshimizu, Haru’s father, ask if he’d like to attend too… as for you, prepare yourself properly, do you understand?”
Pun nodded vigorously, relieved that P’Chid thought well of this event, and even more relieved when he heard the following words.
“Pun, send an email to thank ‘him’ as well… write it formally and CC it to me as well.”
He was happy to hear this. Moreover, he couldn’t help thinking that this oddly resembled a father beginning to warm up to his son-in-law…
His heart was fuller than his stomach…
Nothing felt fuller the being full of love…
P’Pun’s clouded face and listless eyes all throughout this past week now seemed like an illusion. The serum that healed his heart produced very potent results. His fair skin was radiant and shimmering, big eyes behind those glasses also emitting a vibrant gleam upon happily demolishing the ownerless braised pork leg over rice.
Just now, P’Pun had walked around asking the entire office about who the box of braised pork leg over rice lying on his work desk belonged to. However, it turns out that nobody knew. The owner of the desk therefore seized the chance to gobble it down his stomach. Only after having eaten half of it did he suddenly remember the moody kitty sitting beside him.
“Haru, have you eaten anything yet?” Glancing at the clock, it was fifteen minutes past one.
“Why didn’t you call me when you were going downstairs?”
“I went when you were enjoying your cake veeeeeeeeery much P’Pun.”
Did P’Pun realize that this word ‘very’ had way more E’s than necessary?
“It was really delicious though, why didn’t you stay to have some?”
“Haru likes eating street food fried rice more, there’s a good ton of pollution, be it air pollution, MSG, or the dirty plates, as long as there’s no emotional pollution… Haru can eat it.”
P’Pun was stunned for a brief moment, though he wasn’t sure whether his senior had understood him or not…
“It’s best you quickly get to work P’Pun, aren’t you in a hurry tonight?” Haru urged without meeting his senior’s eyes, solely interested in the Japanese characters on the screen of his MacBook as he leisurely tapped away at the keyboard. “Oh, and another thing, Haru doesn’t like sweets… sweet things make Haru’s throat sore.”
“Hey, come on don’t sulk.”
Mild and Meuk lifted their face from their own computer screens, along with several other co-workers in the office. P’Pun had not uttered these words for quite a while now, furthermore, he had never used it with anyone other than P’Petch before either.
“Don’t sulk, because I really don’t know how to console you. I can trick Petch with food but what do you want me to console you with Haru? Tell me quickly.”
The boy studied him over, then looked away towards some other direction.
“P’Pun being happy is a good thing is it not? Why would Haru be sulking?”
He asked cluelessly, eyes bright and innocent, head also tilting to the side a little… At a glance, one could probably see the overlapping image of a whiny little kitten that was begging for their owner’s attention by speaking in contradiction to their inner feelings.
In any case, P’Pun was clutching his head in pain, looking to be desperately in need of some paracetamol.
Pun was in a rush, he had been so absorbed in work that he nearly lost track of time. Hastily fetching his MacBook and slinging his camera bag over one shoulder, he raced down the fire escape stairs from the fourteenth floor. Yes… Pun hated elevators. He disliked confined spaces and the suffocating feeling that came with it. As such, he always parked his car on the seventh floor reserved for office workers and climbed the stairs to the fourteenth floor every day.
“P’Pun, wait for Haru too.” The sound of another set of footsteps was trailing behind Pun. He held the door of the fire escape stairs on the seventh floor open, stopping in his tracks as he peered at his own wristwatch. Shit… they had been working side by side all this time yet the boy failed to remind him, too preoccupied with sulking.
Having chased after him and finally closing the gap, Haru stuffed the key to the Nissan in his hand. “P’Pun you forgot your car key.”
“Oh thanks, I’m going then.”
However, the warm figure which pulled him into an embrace caused him such a surprise that his body turned rigid. “Ha… Haru.”
The boy tightened his arms around him. Pun could sense the scorching hot temperature of his body, not to mention his tongue felt completely frozen. He was unable to protest, nor did he dare to push Haru away.
Haru nuzzled his face against Pun’s shoulder. Warm light breaths brushed over his nape, similarly to the ash brown hair that was as soft as kitten fur tickling his cheek. The cheek nuzzling his shoulder was incredibly soft, even regardless of the fact that the sensation was hindered by a cotton shirt.
“Wh… what’s… wrong?”
“Let Haru hug you for a bit.”
What Pun failed to see however, was the playful smirk the boy was sending to the other person who had just stepped out of the nearby elevator. The hand that was holding the BMW remote key clenched so tightly its muscles strained.
“Haru even kept you company for so many days when you were lonely. P’Pun… but since you are so insistent on going… let Haru hug you for a moment…”
The boy grumbled as if accusing him, nevertheless he loosened his arms… putting on a cute smile as always.
“Haru’s satisfied now… you should go P’Pun, aren’t you in a rush?”
“And you… you’re okay right…? Uh…”
“Take care P’Pun.”
Haru smiled… and Pun reluctantly admitted that this kitty was so cute that he didn’t have the heart to be angry at him.
“Dammit woi… whose car is this? Parking in front of my car, not to mention locking the wheels too.”
Pun exclaimed in defeat. What was up with today? He did not want to arrive late to the event, nor did he want to keep a certain person waiting, constantly craning their head while searching for him. Sasha would probably not like it if he were late.
The sound of a soft car horn could be heard from behind and Pun snapped his head to look, incensed. However, his expression transformed into utter surprise when he recognized the gorgeous BMW and the driving sitting behind the wheel.
“I’ve come to pick you up, get in the car.”
“Don’t want to leave the car at the office, I won’t have anything to drive to work in tomorrow.” Despite making a huge fuss about it, Pun still laid the bag containing his MacBook in the back seat. “Should have told me earlier if you were going to pick me up.”
Out of habit, Pun sat down in the seat beside the driver… having completely forgotten already that less than twenty four hours ago he was feeling angry and neglected to the point where he didn’t want to speak to the other man.
“If I told you beforehand, would I have known… that you were secretly raising an adorable kitty cat at work?”
“So absorbed with playing with the kitty that you were almost late it seems. Buckle your seatbelt so we can head out.”
“What are you trying to say?” Pun interrupted, voice weary. His heart was beating rapidly, but what could not be concealed was the fact that his cheeks and ears had turned a shade redder. Feeling helpless, he removed his glasses and wiped them awkwardly. “When a certain someone disappeared for a whole week… even I didn’t press them at all about who they were with and where they were going.”
“If you knew, would you be able to bear it? If you’re certain that you can bear it then I will explain it to you. But if you’re not ready, then you don’t need to know yet.” The menacing sidelong glance directed at Pun made him go dead silent.
Sasha had never spoken to him like this before… nor did he ever make those kind of eyes…
How foolish… for him to assume that two mere boxes of cakes and a few event invitation tickets… meant everything had gone back to normal…
Rama IX was a road that over the course of the entire year was in a perpetual traffic jam with the exception of three days… this being Songkran Day, Family Day and Elderly Day. Hence, it was no surprise for the elegant car to be stuck amidst the crowded road.
(TN: Songkran Day – Thai New Years celebrated on every April 13th.)
Aside from jazz music which filled the silence, the atmosphere inside the car was suffocating, like you couldn’t breathe very well. However, this was not due to Sasha, or at least the man did not intentionally make it so. It was only after a long period of silence whereby Pun realized that it was all in his head. He was getting angrier and more frustrated to the point where he found it unbearable being inside the car.
…Should he get off the car and call a taxi instead?
“Pun… you’re leaving the day after tomorrow right?” The person sitting behind the steering wheel questioned while still humming to the song, expression so at ease that Pun felt annoyed.
“Are you going to speak nicely with me or not…?” Out of nowhere, the topic switched so abruptly that he could not follow along.
“I asked you what day you’re leaving on so I can organize my schedule.”
Being angry, everything sounded grating to his ears…
“All the things I’ve said in the past, were you not listening at all?”
“Answer the question Pun.”
“Yes, the day after tomorrow. If you’re not free then no need to send me off, I can look after myself.”
“I didn’t ask for that last sentence, but thank you for telling me.”
Pun gritted his teeth, trying to calm himself down… okay… he was capable of speaking nicely wasn’t he? He felt angry… and the complete cluelessness of this person made him even angrier. Pun thus tried to suppress his emotions to the best of his abilities… if not, he would have long smacked this guy unconscious with the camera bag in his lap.
He was aware on the scowl on his own face… and Sasha was a caring person… yet the man did not even attempt to console him… guys in general were roughly like this. It was the same when he dated his ex-girlfriend… he loved her but never liked having to console her… stop scowling, stop having a tantrum.
Until he came realize that his actions were exactly like what he firmly thought he despised: The type of person that was emotional, unstable, possessive, self-centered, and unreasonable… he had nearly ticked all of the boxes already.
“Wow, thank god. We’re finally here.”
The car turned into the location of the event and braked smoothly. This was likely the first time today that Pun had properly looked at the other party’s face. The handsomely chiseled face was still in a good mood, bright blue eyes gleamed like marbles as a smile decorated his face… entirely unlike that moment earlier… giving Pun those stink eyes back then was uncalled for.
Pun failed to understand Sasha in the slightest. Why was he smiling again? Was he going to be angry or not? Pleased or displeased? Which pole was Sasha’s mood veering off into?
“Pun, if it’s not too much trouble, could you please stay till Sunday and go to Samui with me for a few days of vacation? I have someone important that I want you to meet.”
(TN: Samui – An island just off the east-coast of Thailand, plus a very popular tourist destination.)
Sasha made a difficult expression, tongue licking his lips, seemingly nervous. “I’m not ready to tell you as of yet, but if you choose to spend a few days in Samui with me… I will give you an explanation.”
“And why does it have to be Samui? Why can’t you just tell me right now?”
The other party let out a sigh. Pun had a fearful premonition about this… what was he intending on saying?
“Because… I’ve already promised them a long time ago…”
“And I’ve already arranged my schedule ages ago too.”
“I can’t refuse them… Pun, can you please go with me…? I’ll introduce you to them.”
“And what if I’m adamant on flying to Uzbekistan on the original date?”
“Then you won’t meet… and I probably won’t be able to fly together with you, we’ll probably end up meeting again in Tashkent.”
An uneasy feeling squeezed at his heart till it ached, cheeks scorching hot… seething with anger.
“So basically everything is important to you… except for my feelings.”
“What are you angry at me for Pun? I didn’t mean it like that, first things first, calm down.”
“You might not have meant it like that… but that is how it seems through the way you’re treating me.”
“When have I not treated you well?”
“You had me wait… wait, wait, wait, without telling me anything. How do you think I feel? Am I as interesting as this important person of yours?”
“…This matter is difficult to explain. Pun… I’m serious. Go to Samui with me. Listen, some things are very sensitive, it will affect several others too.”
“If it’s that troubling for you… then I don’t want to know, go and stay with that important person of yours for all I care!” Pun lashed out, no longer able to keep his emotions in check.
Upon realization again, he had gotten off the car without his belongings… his camera was still on the car, as well as his press invitation ticket. To say he was frantic, he was. This was not some regular event after all. But his ego was far too big that he couldn’t afford to turn around, open the car door, and retrieve his belongings.
He heard the sound of a car door being shut softly, along with a sigh.
“Okay… I won’t bother you with this matter again.”
Pun observed as the tall figure in the sharp luxury suit carried his camera bag and press invitation ticket over to the registration desk. Sasha’s face was beaming like nothing had occurred at all, entering the extravagant party with a cheerful mood.
Completely contrary to him…
Won’t bother again… because Sasha didn’t care about what he thought anymore, or because he was never in this man’s line of sight since the beginning?
The event was almost nearing its end. Pun felt that time had passed incredibly fast, unlike the suffocating feeling that was slowly gnawing at his chest. Pun knew he could barely contain his frustration, his hands were shaking… not to mention, his face muscles felt stiff and taut like a statue.
Concerned, P’Chid had approached him three times already to ask about his wellbeing. Nonetheless, Pun assured that he was fine, only having caught a minor headache that’s all. Although P’Chid’s gaze implied that he did not believe his words in the slightest, he did not press the matter.
“Go home and rest then if you have a headache.”
It was a good suggestion… Pun had wanted to go home from the instant he stepped foot into this event actually.
“But I’ll take it as you abandoning your work.”
Hua… how come?
Editor Chid was munching on a canapé catered by the luxurious hotel, his eyes provocative.
“Our company has no policy allowing heartbroken employees to do substandard work. If you don’t believe me, try asking Haru’s father, he’s standing over there, after all he holds twelve percent of our stocks.”
“I’m well aware P’Chid, don’t get sick and don’t die.”
“You can die, but send in your work first, if not then resign.”
Anyone in this situation would be taken aback… but aside from being taken aback, Pun could feel the hand clutching his camera freeze over, cold like ice. The volatile emotional state that he managed to suppress for not even a full day resurfaced once again, assaulting his pained heart.
“You’re kidding right?” Pun murmured under his breath.
“Human resources is on the ninth floor, exit the elevator and turn left, the resignation form is in the bottom drawer of the light brown cabinet.” P’Chid’s expression did not change one bit as he explained…
“Your jokes are growing harsher by the day P’Chid.” Pun said with a hardened voice. “Did getting to attend this event not improve my situation at all?”
“Be it this event or any other event, they won’t help your case Pun.” P’Chid set down his third canapé. “Even if your assignment is taking photos for a new year’s celebrations at an elderly home, you should still demonstrate to me that you are prepared to work, not like… ‘oh, today I’m in a bad mood so I can’t be bothered’, ‘today my lover is free so I’ll have a day off’, or ‘today my lover is acting weird, I better reflect on it, I’ll work later’… don’t you agree?”
Thrashed so severely with words that his face felt completely numb, Pun wanted to protest that these claims were completely baseless. Except… what his boss said was true. Moreover, Pun was guilty of having done every single one of these scenarios too.
“I think… I lost you ever since that golden-haired foreigner appeared at our office… if you see him, tell him for me… that I want you back working together with me… I miss it a lot.”
Pun’s mouth was agape. He wanted to deny it… but knew deep inside that he was at fault, and he wanted to talk to somebody about it. Somebody…
The person who he wanted to talk to the most… was currently enjoying himself towards one corner of the extravagant party, one hand balancing a wine glass… as the other lightly rested on top of someone else’s shoulder, someone he appeared to be very close with.
Pun needed those pair of hands… needed that smile… that smile that used to be his… or was it never his since the start, he was unsure…
Gentle blue eyes adorned the handsomely sculpted face as a warm palm rested on Pun’s shoulder, seizing his body just in time before it collapsed to the floor. “Pun… Pun… Are you okay?“
The warm hand squeezed his shoulder tight while the other grabbed at his upper arm, supporting him from falling. Pun could sense the feeling of concern emanating out of these two hands… hands which did not hug him but tried to support him from falling and hurting himself.
“Your face is very pale, Pun, what’s wrong? Why didn’t you call me if you felt unwell?” The voice was on the cusp of anger, yet still lined with worry. “If you don’t feel well then you have to tell me, so I can take you back home to rest… if you run out onto the dark streets by yourself like this, who’s going to help you?”
Sasha propped up Pun’s chin with his fingers, and in an instant, all of his anger dissipated. Pun could feel the warm tears locked up in his chest slowly rush back up to his eyes, before trickling down onto his cheeks drop by drop…
“I’m… fine….” Lying… in spite of the tears… “I… have something to ask you… will you answer me?”
The pair of blue eyes appeared confused, but nodded his head wholeheartedly.
“I want to talk to somebody… who thinks that I am worthy enough to… be with.”
“I hope, I too am worthy enough, for you to talk to.”
“The period when you disappeared, where did you go…? Tell me honestly, where you disappear to?”
“If I tell you, promise that you’ll believe me.”
“Were you abducted by aliens and experimented on or something?”
“Probably… no need to be so angry… I went to take care of several legal paperwork, then like I said, I flew to Vienna. But the fact that I couldn’t contact you was because my phone was broken… completely crushed.”
Pun was taken aback, tears drying up. “What did you say?”
“I accidentally stepped on my BlackBerry so I didn’t have a useable phone that entire week in Europe. I only managed to buy a new one when I stepped back onto Thai soil.”
“Then… why didn’t you call to tell me at least, with someone else’s phone?”
“I did. I sent you a text message before I went to Vienna.”
“With whose number?”
“I have no idea what her is name, she’s the staff at the check-in counter. Do you think I would use a public payphone? You didn’t even take a look and notice that it wasn’t my number.”
“Who would be bothered to remember such a long phone number?”
“I didn’t as well!”
“Then where did you get my number from?”
“I called into your office of course, your boss happened to be the one to pick up my call. It’s just a bit unfortunate that I accidentally jotted it down on a coffee shop receipt… you can guess the rest of the story from here right?”
The answer he received had him awestruck. It sounded very honest and sincere, a dumb situation which could have occurred to anyone. A broken phone, calling into the office and jotting down the number on a random piece of paper, then throwing it away by accident.
“So… I’ve answered your question clearly now yes? Are you going to go home with me or walk back?”
“And if I say walk back?” Just kidding… from Rama IX to Asok, tomorrow his feet would be full of blisters.
“Then I will take off this hot suit jacket and walk with you. I can come back to get the car tomorrow.”
Pun grimaced… but reached out to grab the warm hand…
The person who he wanted to talk to… in this very moment.. he could honestly only think of one person.
“I just got scolded by P’Chid…”
Sasha caressed his head tenderly. “Yeah, you can tell me all about it on the car… let’s go home, it’s late.”
“I’m going back to my house.”
The hand cupping his squeezed tighter.
“Your choice. But… I want to be with you, always.”
Short, blunt… and what he wished to hear the most in this turbulent night of his life.
The sound of a ringing phone interrupted his watching of a rerun TV series. Haru crawled down from the soft plushy sofa, looking at the screen of his blue BlackBerry device.
+49, the call was from Germany… who could it be?
“Haru am Apparat…”
“Kittyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.” A cheerful sharp high pitched voice could be heard from the other end of the call.
“Haru, Haru. Kitty, Kitty.” Two similar voices spoke, overlapping. “Nikolai, let me speak.”
“Wait Kiril, I’m the who called!”
Haru felt himself gradually smile wider and wider. He could see himself reflected on the nearby glass door, expression happy upon hearing these voices.
“What’s up, you two.”
“Kitty, kitty, this Saturday I’ll be going to Thailand.” Nikolai boasted with a lively voice.
“Actually we have to go visit grandma in Astana.” Kiril interrupted..
“But we have to change planes at Bangkok first.” Nikolai added. “So Papa promised that we would go on a trip to Samui first before going to visit grandma. Kitty, kitty, let’s go together okay? …Kiril, don’t interrupt, I spoke first.”
“Really, really. I’m not lying. Papa said Samui is very pretty. There are long beaches and pretty seas, very very cold… Kitty, kitty, come see us?”
“Kitty, kitty. Come, come.”
“Hua… and has Papa given his permission?
“Yeah!” Haru could just imagine Nikolai currently crossing his teeny-tiny arms and nodding vigorously. “Papa won’t be mad, he allowed us to invite our friends with us.”
Hua… should Haru believe these four year olds?
“We’re going to change planes at Bangkok too. Kitty, kitty, you have to come see us, please, please, please, please.”
He could as clear as day see the two adorable faces of the twins, Nikolai and Kiril, floating past. Nikolai had bright blue eyes like his father that was inlaid on a round face, cheeks smooth and plump, very tempting to pinch. As for Kiril, he had grey eyes like his mother and lips that were a vibrant red, an exact duplicate of his mother in every way.
If someone asked Haru who his second love was beside a certain polar bear photographer, he would gladly answer with his whole heart that it was these two twins.
“Sure, I’ll meet you at the airport okay? Nikolai, ask permission from Papa too.”
“Promise, promise. Alright… can I speak to Kiril?”
“Fine, don’t be late okay? …Kiril, Kitty wants to speak to you.”
“Kittyyyyyyy… you said you weren’t going to stay in Bangkok for long, come back already. I have no one to play with… Kiril is so bored of Nikolai…”
“How about Mr. Isakov and Mr. Viktar? Are they not there to play with you?”
“Isakov is here… but Isakov doesn’t let me eat sweets… Kitty is way kinder. You have to go to Samui will Kiril okay? Promise?”
Hearing the bright pleading voice of the other twin, Haru unknowingly grinned till his cheeks began to feel sore… his heart inflated… going to Samui with the twins… it didn’t sound like a bad idea at all.
Then again, would the father of the twins’ allow him to go…? After all, he was certain that the man would be dragging P’Pun along as well.
Regardless, that night, Haru had a pleasant dream. He grinned till his cheeks nearly burst despite Sasha being an uninvited guest in his dream.
Haru is best boy.
Also, we’re going back to Petch next chapter, why does it feel like I haven’t seen him in ages? TT_TT