sun meets someone, a day after he had arrived on the country side. toey is the son of the owner of the greenhouse near his hostel. through him, sun finally knows the name of the flower he has been vomiting.
daffodils. yellow daffodils.
the older didnt questioned his curiosity towards daffodils – he even taught sun how to grow them, and how to take care of the plants - until he saw sun coughing petals on the fourth day.
"daffodils aren’t edible flowers, they contain toxins. even if they rarely cause death, you shouldn’t eat them."
sun wipes his lips to remove the soggy petal and opts to remain silent. not meeting the older’s eyes, he blankly stares at the petals thats covering a part of his shoes and littering the other nearby flowering plants.
"you are not the first person who came here with that condition. hanahaki disease. maybe i should rename this greenhouse as hanahaki disease camp..." the older says playfully. "hmm.. so what’s your story?"
telling p’toey wont hurt right? telling someone who doesnt know you is probably better cos they’ll listen to you with no judgement.
sun cant stop smiling as he begins to talk about in.
but he coughs another handful of petals after that.
"if we compare your love for in to daffodils, well, they are easy to grow but hard to kill. they need direct sun..light to grow well. it fits right?"
sun rolls his eyes at the lame pun.
"do you know the meaning of daffodils?
"unrequited love, uncertainty.. according to google.”
toey nods his head, "but do you know it also symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings?"
"you know, sometimes people get the disease when they think their love is unrequited. give me your hand.” he seizes sun’s hand in an attempt to place it on his chest. sun is about to pull away when he sees something peeking through the elder’s button-down shirt. toey unfastens few buttons to fully reveal a scar running halfway his chest. the scar looks mangled and old. “yours are yellow, mine was red. you would never notice the blood. red roses are beautiful but their thorns hurt. it was annoying.” he continues, “he confessed a month after my surgery. bad timing eh? he was brave enough but i wasnt.”
“did it hurt?” sun asks, runs his fingers carefully over the jagged mark.
“of course.” toey says and smiles. “would telling the person make a difference? maybe yes, maybe no. but its worth the try, who knows. sometimes, it just takes a little bravery. so try giving him one last chance..”
"i already scheduled my surgery. but we’ll see."
"good. as long as there’s hope, leave it in.”
“hope is the reason why im here in the first place. i hoped too much when i shouldn’t have.” sun snorts.
“well if it doesnt turn out well, have them removed. then you can find me here again. i don’t mind taking care of another daffodil." toey replies teasingly, lightly poking sun’s nose.
“ooooi.” sun laughs loudly. its a sound that he hasnt heard for a long time. it felt nice.
toey laughs along with him. “you’ve got a..” the older removes a yellow petal from sun’s hair then proceeds to tousle his hair.
turning his gaze towards the owner of the voice, sun sees the person he has been avoiding.
in did something unexpected. he found sun. it made the flowers in his chest quiver.
“how did you find me?” he was dragged by the wrist into a corner, not letting go until they are few feet away from toey.
“your instagram posts aren’t that subtle you know. i really wanted to see you. and who’s that?” in interrogates him. sun didn’t even had the time to reply “..why didn’t you tell me you’ll go on a vacation?” in is holding his shoulders and leans closer, too close that sun caught a whiff of his perfume. he can hear himself catch a breath, their closeness is overwhelming making his lungs burn with a dire desire to cough “lets go back to bangkok?”
gently pushing in away from him, sun stutters “no, not yet. i still have things to do here.”
“why can’t you just tell me what is happening with you? maybe i could help.” in releases an exasperated sigh.
“sun, is there a problem?”toey is walking towards them, his voice loud and laced with seriousness.
in is watching him with dull eyes, opens his mouth to make his point but sun has enough of the conversation so he quickly says “nothing p. by the way, p’toey this is in. my friend from school” as he moves over to toey’s side.
after giving a respectful nod to toey, in says “whatever it is, i will eventually find out.” their eyes meet when sun glanced up, he couldn’t look away. he feels the annoyance in other’s stare from where he stands. he swallows hard and returns in’s intense gaze before the other leads his way out of the greenhouse. he is clearly pissed because sun refused to put his guard down again.
“the boy who gave you the disease. that’s him?”
sun nods in response.
“you have a good taste.”
“p~~” sun whines and blushes.
im sorry about earlier.
can we talk tom?
without fighting or pissing each other off?
im not going back to bangkok without you
im not leaving you here
im not leaving you with him.
stop being dramatic
in is already at the greenhouse by the time sun gets there the next day. the other boy is by the huge flower bed full of daffodils, bending over to examine the flowers. he watches as in pick up his phone to take photos of the flowers then moving over to capture the whole greenhouse. he can clearly see in’s face from where he stands - the way he tips his head to the side, lips set in an pleased smile, eyes full of amusement. he really missed him but their proximity makes the coughing persistent again.
his hand moves up to cover his cold lips and muffled coughs are forced out.
in turns towards his direction. “are you still sick? are you okay?”
“im fine.” he is lying through his through his teeth. “my throat is itchy.” sun keeps his replies short. petals are caught between sun’s tongue and the roof of his mouth. ducking his head, he expels the petals in his cupped hand. he wasn’t able to swallow them down again. he hurriedly crumples the petals, waits until in looks away to cram them deep into his pocket, making sure the other doesn’t notice. he remains in conflict with himself, sun wonders why he is keeping the disease from in when he can tell it straight to him, so wouldn’t suffer this much.
“the flowers are pretty..”
sun hums in agreement. both of them stand in awkward silence, unsure on what to say.
an arm suddenly wraps around sun with full force, “you are early in. do you want to see the whole greenhouse?” its toey, holding sun firmly.
sun watches as in turns to look at him, sees the surprise and confusion on the other’s eyes also a sadness that sun couldn’t quite place. in’s smile disappeared but he nods in response while muttering “lets go” turns around and starts walking away from sun and toey.
sun whispers to toey “what are you doing p?”
“challenging him.” toey whispers back “i think you don’t have to wait longer.” the older flashes a bright smile to sun.
toey leads them around through the greenhouse, showing them various flowers and plants he has been working on. in remained silent, just asking the names of some flowers. but sun can see the stiffness in his moves as if he is carrying an overwhelming weight on his shoulders.
even with toey with them, it still caused problems for sun. the coughs are unpredictable. he tries to ignore and suppress the cough and petals as much as possible.
“that’s it!” toey announces. “sun, you should show in around the town. you’re familiar with it by now right? go, i have work to do.” the older shooed them away.
in boldly offers his hand to toey. their handshake is firm and their eyes lingering as if they’re talking. needless to say, sun is baffled.
“lets go.” in says and though he is smiling sheepishly, there’s worry and nervousness in his face that sun finds hard not to notice.
in settles into a relaxed pace as they wander the bustling streets for at least an hour, chatting about whatever comes to mind. sun can feel the petals coming back from time to time but he ignores it. he is more focused on watching how touchy, naturally clingy in is. how can he forget? – that the other likes to rests his head on his shoulder, drapes himself over sun when he laughs, holds his wrist when the crowd gets overwhelming, ruffles his hair and touches his cheeks for no reason. and sun can’t take any more of this.
“lets go back so we could talk.” sun decides, his voice cracks slightly, the urge to cough returns and its stronger than before. he tries coughing into his hand even heaving several times - nothing escapes his lips. unlike his earlier fits, the petals wouldn’t come out. breathing becomes hard, his chest starts constricting. panting heavily, he thumps his chest hoping to find relief but its no use. sun can feel the roots tightening its hold unto his lungs, leaves and stems knocking against his ribs making him suffocate. he was holding the flowers inside him for too long. it was late to realize that no will of suppression can stop the disease.
sun grasps in’s shirt, breathing as much as he could. he can hear in’s voice but he cant understand what the other is saying. sun takes one deep breath, struggles to put enough air unto his lungs before he blacks out.
when sun wakes up and nausea makes its way up. he lurches himself up from the bed, smacks a hand over his mouth, pressure rising at the back of his throat. his mind tells him to run fast to the bathroom but he ends up falling off the bed, hitting the floor in a tangle of blankets. sun kneels over and coughs; until daffodils flow over his cupped hands and unto the blanket, until his throat feels numb, until his fingers tremble, until his tears line his eyes. sun simply let the flowers spill from his lips. after the petals reach their end, breathing has become easier.
“sun?” a voice carefully says. that’s when he notices that in is also kneeling in front of him - the other’s eyes are full of fear, biting his own lips with apprehension.
"you don't have to do anything if you're wondering." sun starts, wiping his mouth then giving in a strained smile.
in's mouth opens and close for a few times, not sure what to say in response to sun.
"you don't have to do anything, just go and i'll deal with this myself." a sudden wave of exhaustion hits him. all sun wants is for in to go back to bangkok, away from him so he can get the surgery.
“why are you driving me away when you need me?"
there is so much pity in his voice - the way in said caused something inside of sun snap. he glares at in, eyebrows deeply furrowed and fists clench into the blanket "are you ready to tell me how you feel now? how are you going to help me when it requires you to say what you feel about me? how are you going to help me when it requires you to love me back? can you finally tell me how you feel now?” sun doesn’t want to make pain worst because in is being nice to him just because of the disease. they can’t fool the disease. “if you pretend to be in love with just to keep me alive, that wont work.”
in trails off, looking emotionally drain, his eyes greyed and face so serious, hesitancy painfully obvious.
sun is not sure what in wants to do - until his fingers brush against sun’s knuckles. sun flinches, moves his hand away violently. it didn’t stop in for trying again, reaching carefully for sun’s hand and this time successfully engulfing it.
“i love you.” in confesses. “i’ve always been in love with you. but i was scared. i’ve always been scared. i am a coward, sun. and unsure and stupid.” in looks down at their entwined hands, voice laced with embarrassment. “and i’m sorry for that, im sorry for putting you through that. it was dumb for me to think that keeping it to myself is the best thing to do. i thought eventually it would reach you without me saying it.”
maybe its the desperation and vulnerability in the other’s eyes that made sun to asnwer. “yes, you’re dumb. you made me wait for so long. but im also dumb cos i waited for you.” sun says, but he doesn’t release himself from in’s clutch. “getting this disease, you probably think im pathetic.”
“i think.. if you’re willing to forgive me.. can forgive me.. willing to give me chance. we’ll try to make this work.” the grip around sun’s hand tightens, in’s hand gives a reassuring squeeze. “i love you sun. i’ve loved you all along, its always been you. be mine?” in says with no awkwardness, only yearning.
“i just want you to say it, cos i want to hear it and these flowers need to hear it. i’ve been in love with you too, even if you always reject me, silly.” sun admits, smile escapes his lips.
soon, in is sitting next to sun. he pulls him forward, enveloping him in a hug. it took a moment for sun to realize that he hasn’t hugged in for months. he slowly wraps his arm around the other’s waist - in squeezing him lightly. it’s the only warning sun gets before a pair of lips are pressed against his own.
sun is in disbelief, viciously shoves in away. “you didn’t. i probably taste like flowers and vomit.” staring at in with wide eyes.
“i just did. and im going to do it again, and again, and again..” in laughs, leans again for another kiss.
the flowers wither and the ache lessens - they seem to disappear every time in puts his lips on his. now, there’s a different kind of feeling inside sun’s chest - its softer, warmer and didn’t hurt like the petals. the daffodils from the disease are wilting cos their love is blooming.
sun knows this is just the beginning.