Ae got home from school and Pete met him in the apartment entryway to welcome him home.
“hey.” Ae smiled at his boyfriend, leaning over for a kiss as he toed off his shoes. Pete liked to greet him at the door like that and Ae found it exceptionally sweet, his heart never failing to swell every time he came home. “I bought dinner so that we don’t have to cook. We’ll just warm it up and get started.” Ae lifted the plastic bag a bit to show Pete.
“I was hoping you’d do that.” Pete didn’t hide his relief and satisfaction with the suggestion.
Ae took Pete’s hand in his hand led him to the kitchen. While Ae ppopped the food into the microwave, Pete hopped on to the counter and got comfortable there. he waited until Ae turned the microwave on to speak up . “So, have you made a decision about the internship?”
Ae visibly stiffened and lifted his gaze to look at Pete.
The solemn tone of Pete’s voice and the subtle sadness of his face made it clear to Ae that Pete was still agonising about the internship thing. Ae understood that agony. He didn’t like the idea of moving out either even though it would only be temporary. The company he was looking to work for was too far from their apartment, so there was no other option.
Transport costs were one thing , but the stress of travelling far everyday was another. “Is Ocean electric still the best option?” Pete asked, watching Ae carefully. Ae sighed and stepped in between Pete’s legs, sliding his arms around Pete’s waist.
“Please don’t worry too much about this.” Ae pleaded with a disapproving wrinkle between his eyebrows.
“We’ll live apart and have separate lives for 4 months.”
“That’s a short time if you really think about it.” Ae pointed out, smiling at Pete’s cute indignant pout. He lifted his hands and playfully pinched Pete’s cheeks until Pete finally smiled, letting out a deep breath and lifting his arms to lay them around Ae’s neck, “You always look so positively on things. see why I need you around?.” Pete said and leaned down to give Ae’s lips a kiss. It started out quick and light enough, but then Ae kissed back and they got easily carried away languidly licking into each other’s mouths.
Even when they pulled apart, their arms remained intact around each other, foreheads pressed together, gently sliding bumping noses.
“I know you need me. I need you too.” Ae said, not even certain where he was going with his encouragement, considering he was feeling pretty shitty about the situation himself. Above what he was feeling was the need to comfort to the person he loved so much. “But many challenges are ahead of us. We can’t afford to falter at the first one that hits us.”
Pete pursed his lips, a hint of a frown still written across his face. “I want to be strong like you, but I’m just not.”
“Of course you are.”
“Says the guy who calls me koon-chai.” Pete retorted grumpily but fought the urge to roll his eyes.
A soft smile touched the corners of Ae’s lips. “Sure you are kind and soft and sweet and you can’t throw a punch to save your life, but that doesn’t mean your spirit is weak.”
Pete blinked at his boyfriend, desperate to believe him. “Hey, do you remember when you kept running from me and tried to push me towards N’Chompoo because you didn’t want me to be in a gay relationship and face the stigma?”
“Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away than to face a situation. you could have taken advantage of the fact that I liked you and made me yours, but instead you ran to protect me. That’s more courageous than you’ll ever know. In that moment I was mad, yes, but I also admired you so much.”
“Is that really something you believe, Ae?” Pete was actually unexpectedly blinking back tears now.
Now stroking Pete’s cheeks and relishing in the softness, “I mean it.” Ae replied. “Sure I give you strength but you can stand on your own two feet. You don’t need me for that. You are a whole lot stronger and more assertive now than when I first met you. We’ll talk all the time on the phone, we’ll skype and we’ll visit on weekends.” Ae suggested and then vehemently emphasised, “we’ll be fine.”
“okay.” Pete sniffed, fight against his tears long lost. Ae brushed his tears away with his thumbs.
“It also takes more guts to swallow your pride and shed tears as a man than to hold them in. don’t ever berate yourself again, understand koon-chai?” Ae says, laughing lightly
“Okay.” Pete nodded, a smile growing through his tears.
“A few months apart won’t change anything between us, okay?”
Pete nodded again, genuinely feeling warmth and confidence seep through the deep recesses of his heart where the fear of losing his Ae fear had long since made its home.
Ae kissed each of Pete’s cheeks and then finally kissed his lips, slow and sweet and reverent, full of admiration and everything else Ae wanted to say, but couldn’t quite express it with words.
Pete heard and felt it all loud and clear and he felt his heart soar with love and happiness, hope and most importantly confidence that no distance or amount of time could keep Ae from loving and protecting him and their relationship. knowing that Ae loved him that much was enough for him to stand on his own two feet whenever Ae had to leave his side.