To get rid of my feelings for you
King stared at his phone as if it would give him an answer. As if it could give him an answer. Or anything, really.
They had kissed, they had fought, they hadn’t talked and now they were both stuck in two different homes thanks to the pandemic raging outside. King with his grandma and parents, Ram with his own family right before the lockdown had happened.
They had texted to talk about the situation with King’s flat and they had decided to wait. It surely would be over soon, wouldn’t it? At least they’d be able to get home at some point.
Although the idea of being stuck with Ram in one, small flat was a bit frightening. Not because Ram was frightening but because his feelings were already bursting out of his chest right now. How could he survive the onslaughter of Ram’s presence?
With a huff, he leaned back on his bed, staring at the picture of Ram and his ... friend? Neighbour? Who the fuck?
There was a pull in his stomach, tightening his chest as if someone was sitting on it, was forcing him to shrink violently.
King hated it.
Hated the sight of Ram with someone else, a maybe smile on his face.
He hated how much he hated it, that he couldn’t let Ram have this, whatever it was.
Hated that it drove him crazy, that he wished himself there, wished himself and Ram back home so there’d just be the two of them again.
Which was exactly what he didn’t want to.
Because hiding was so much easier, so much better, so much everything.
Because he was afraid of meeting Ram, of being confronted with the reality of his feelings.
Why had Ram kissed him back, even though he hadn’t been drunk, he wondered for the thousands time since it had happened.
Why did Ram look at him the way he did, with this soft hint of a smile, the depth of his eyes, which seemed to suck him in.
He was drowning and he had been drowning for weeks, absorbing each moment of attention, each word Ram was gifting him with.
Finally closing his phone and throwing it somewhere to the side, King put his arm over his eyes, closed them so tightly, he could see stars in the darkness.
How he wished it would have been enough.
Enough to be friends with Ram.
Enough to be special to him in this way.
Enough to be by his side, be his confidant.
Why did he have to want more?
Why did his fingers itch each time he was close to Ram?
Why was his heart about to jump out of his chest with words he wasn’t ready to say? Words that had the potential to destroy everything, rip them apart and leave him in shreds.
King thought back to the night he was full of painkillers, had just been saved by Ram and was allowed to touch the man, have this moment so tender, it made him curl into himself until he was a ball of nerves and fear and overthinking.
Why had Ram looked so vulnerable back then? Hadn’t he known what danger he’d been in? That he’d made King fall for him even more?
King rolled onto his back again, his hands curled into fists out of anger.
It wasn’t Ram’s fault. None of it.
There he was, forced to live with his father once more and King was blaming him, feeling sick to the stomach because of the guilt rising in him.
Ram had only been nice and King falling for him had never been part of any plan or something he could be held accountable for. No matter how much King wished to hold someone accountable for it. Someone aside of himself. To direct the blame somewhere else, find a reason to not like Ram any longer, fall even deeper.
King wished for so much but believed in so little.
Had he hoped?
Had he dreamed?
Oh, he had, had done so much.
But in the end, he had to live in reality, didn’t he?
Had to accept that the most probable outcome would be a ‘No’.
That he’d be happy if they could stay friends.
If he’d still be a senior, Ram would talk to, afterward.
He pulled a face as he stared at the ceiling, his fists drumming a desperate rhythm onto the mattress.
Romance really hadn’t been something he’d thought about much before. Not in the way he was doing now. Not to this extent.
But here he was, yearning and wishing and breaking his own heart by telling himself that it was without a chance. Before Ram could do it. Before ...
It wasn’t a new mood he was in. Neither were the self-destructive thoughts, the little flickers of hope which couldn’t be destroyed.
Why, he wondered, couldn’t he simply go back?
Go back to being friends with nothing more.
No more wishes and urges and hopes. No more fears and tears and pain.
Sometimes, he wondered where the sense in all of this lay. Those feelings, so out of any realm, any use. Because what use had it to love someone so much you were ready to rip your heart out and present it to them. Ready to let them step on it, trample it, rip it apart.
Because he was. Ready, that is. And that frightened King maybe the most.
That he wanted to lay his feelings out for Ram, wanted Ram to do with them what he wanted.
And wasn’t that a contradiction to his fears and pain? To his frustration, his worries?
He huffed and forced himself to breathe slowly.
Sitting in his room, panicking about what could be didn’t help anyone and least himself.
There wasn’t anything to do, was there?
They couldn’t meet and Ram didn’t do calls.
He would have to wait, would have to battle those fears and wishes by himself.
Always by himself.
It was for the first time that he wondered if he should maybe try to find a lover. Or a companion maybe. To soothe his yearning and make him forget. Forget his feelings until he could be a friend again. A true one, with no dreams outside of what was possible, no pining, no deeper meanings behind his words and actions and glances.
King tried to imagine himself flirting with someone for this purpose and felt bad. He’d have to tell this person why. But even then, even if he was honest, even if he was clear about his intentions, he couldn’t.
Couldn’t imagine touching someone beside Ram.
Couldn’t imagine letting someone close.
Not only because of the pandemic raging but also because of trust. Because he wanted no one else besides Ram. Because he felt weirdly traitorous, even if Ram didn’t care.
And that was the core of the problem, wasn’t it? The one he couldn’t just ignore, couldn’t accept either.
That he cared and Ram didn’t.
But maybe he did, a small voice told him, his heart skipping a beat. Maybe he did care.
Gritting his teeth, King sat up again and took his phone back.
Better distract himself than lean into such fantasies, such devastating hopes.
Because once he hoped, there was no way back, except shattered and broken, a new person, a shadow of himself.
King had to laugh as he searched for his favourite bottle garden videos, knowing they had the power to soothe his mind, dampen his dramatic side.
He still had a few weeks, didn’t he? Until they’d meet again.
He’d fight his feelings till then, would make sure he’d be back to being the friend Ram deserved.
With a pang to his heart, he concentrated on the words spoken in the video, ignoring each and everyone else.
King knew he was behaving weirdly when he got a text from Bohn, asking if he was alright.
Because apparently his decisions regarding Ram were now also affecting his friendship with Bohn.
Who, of course, was his best friend for a reason.
And who wouldn’t give up when he’d receive a ‘I’m fine’.
‘Going through some stuff’, he texted back instead, ‘I’ll tell you’
‘Is this about Ram?’
Ah, damn. King let out a slightly hysterical huff. Best friends, hu?
‘I know THAT’
‘He likes you’
With growing frustration, King stared at his phone, wishing he could blame Bohn now, but knew he couldn’t. Not when it was he again. King himself.
But he was on his way, okay?
He was starting to control those feelings, those thoughts.
He was getting better ...
King’s phone vibrated again with another message from Bohn.
‘One word and I’ll be in front of your house in half an hour’
‘There’s a pandemic. You can’t’
‘I will, I promise’
It was one of the first times, King let himself cry with big, heaving sobs, hugging himself and the bit of love he had left for himself, the little spark he hadn’t managed to bury yet.
There were tear stains on his cushion and he was shaking, his throat hurting from the silent screams he couldn’t voice yet.
He wasn’t alone, wasn’t in this only with his pain as a companion.
And he’d get out of it as well. Bruised and cut, but he’d get out of it, his friends by his side.
King knew he shouldn’t have lowered the amount of contact with Ram so much, but he couldn’t anymore, okay? He just couldn’t keep it up and behave as everything was alright. As if his heart wasn’t in pain each time he saw another message, looked at another picture, heard Ram’s voice in his head again.
It hurt too much and he had to take care of himself.
He’d done so, keeping his messages short, using less emojis, reacting to less messages, to less photos.
And Ram was probably glad about it, King told himself.
Because King’s messages were probably annoying.
Because he could maybe see or smell the desperate feelings coming from King.
Because it was a bother to have King so obviously whipped and needy and yearny and always there as if he had a right to it.
So, King had stopped responding to most messages, had shortened his answers, even though he’d thought about each for several hours.
As if he didn’t care ...
And Ram was happy about it, he was sure.
Ram was happy.
Ram ... was standing in front of him, a mask over his mouth, a hard glint in his eyes, his shoulders so tense, they seemed to break apart any second now.
There were no walls up, no self-defense ready, no charming mask to put on in time.
Ram was in front of him the next second.
Not touching, oh no, but close enough for King’s heart to do a double-take and run off screaming.
He would have run off for real, if Ram’s gaze wasn’t pinning him down effectively, checking him from head to toe, as if ... as if ...
“Are you hurt?”
He’d made Ram worry.
He’d thought Ram would be happy not to hear from him, but he’d made the man worry.
King was really the worst of the worst.
“No”, he admitted, not knowing what else to say, except for, “Sorry.”
Whatever he’d expected Ram to say or do, wasn’t what happened next. Instead, Ram sighed audibly and his shoulders sank down a second later.
“I’m glad”, he mumbled and King wasn’t even sure if he’d heard right.
“I ...”, King started again, not knowing how to explain his behaviour without confessing, without saying it all.
“We need to talk.”
Ram’s voice was as clear as his eyes, the gaze he was directing at King sure and soft. Like an embrace, a spark of hope.
And King nodded because there was nothing else to do.
Because it was time.
Seeing Ram for the first time in almost three months made one thing crystal clear.
King was fucked.
He was fucked so deeply and so very much still in love with this man, that it almost seemed ridiculous. All he’d tried, all he’d hoped to achieve, had been blown out of the damn window the second he’d laid eyes on Ram.
His plan had failed hilariously, hadn’t it?
King stared straight ahead, ignoring the intense feeling of Ram’s gaze as he led the man into their garden, away from prying ears and eyes.
No matter how this would turn out, he definitely didn’t want anyone to witness it.
Maybe it was time to confess, he thought.
Maybe then he could finally put an end to it, could finally get over Ram.
It was, after all, better to receive one proper hit, than thousand of small ones, piling up to drive him crazy.
But Ram had also said that he wanted to talk, so what would it be about?
Memories of their kiss stroke him like lightning and he felt his cheeks heating up. Could it be? Would it be? And if so, then what?
“Are you cold?”
King blinked as he held the door to the garden house open, just to realise he was trembling.
“No”, he swallowed and coughed and tried to ignore how close Ram was as he went inside. How very very close.
And he’d thought he was over the man. That he was close to being friends again, to going back to their apartment again, to see it as a distant memory.
Ram sat down at the low table, similar to the one in his parents’ garden and King followed, his heartbeat so loud, he was sure it was booming into the silence.
Ram stared at him, critically, as if he wanted to know what King was thinking. As if he was searching for the right words. As if ...
“I am sorry. I love you.”
King hadn’t meant to blurt it out like that.
He’d wanted to be careful and soft and considerate about it but never like this.
But here they were, his words, out in the open, their echo still in the middle of the room, taking all the space there was.
Blinked and moved his mouth, but there was no sound coming from it and King wondered, for a second, if his own heartbeat was just too loud.
He couldn’t endure the silence.
“I am sorry for kissing you and I’m sorry for liking you more than a friend and I promise I will stop this and believe me, I’m giving my best and we’ll go back to being friends and I won’t want more and please give me a bit more time, I ...”
Whatever he had wanted to say next, was cut short, a hand covering his own, silencing him effectively.
He stared at the connection between them, barely registering the warmth from Ram’s hand over the prickling sensation and his whole body screaming ‘Touch!’ at him as if he’d somehow missed it.
“You want to give up?”
Ram’s voice was hoarse as if he’d talked all night. As if the few words he’d said already had been too much. As if his own feelings were choking him the way King’s did.
King nodded, not sure he could keep in further love declarations if he opened his mouth a second time.
The grip on his hand got tighter.
Feelings and fears which had been so clear in his mind, so obvious and logical, sounded stupid suddenly, embarrassing even.
“I ... I shouldn’t. You’re my junior and my friend and I shouldn’t want more. You deserve better.”
Was there something akin to anger in Ram’s face? The way his brows furrowed slightly, his gaze hot suddenly.
“Don’t give up.”
“What? But ...”
King wanted to say that he couldn’t endure it. That it was unfair to ask him to continue with his feelings when it was so painful. That all he wanted was a moment of peace from his mind and his calm back, his distance.
He wanted to say so much, but he couldn’t because there was Ram’s second hand at his neck now, mirroring King’s move from months ago, pulling him into a kiss.
King pulled back.
But the hand at his neck stayed, allowing him to get away only a few centimeters, barely a breath.
“Don’t”, he said and half cried.
Don’t do it out of pity, he wanted to say but couldn’t.
Because Ram was fire now, was the opposite of the cool boy he had met so many months ago.
The cool boy he had fallen for back then, in ancient history.
Ram was frustrated and his feelings were all over his face, his body, his shaky breath, his trembling hand.
King blinked and stared at Ram gritted his teeth, licked his lips.
“But I want to.”
Like a contradiction in himself, Ram placed a soft kiss on King’s mouth, even though the fury hadn’t yet left his eyes.
“I love you.”
Another kiss and King couldn’t comprehend what was happening. This couldn’t be true, could it?
“I missed you.”
“You can’t ...”
It was hard, sitting there, Ram so close and tender, his heart open and bleeding. Those were the words he had secretly wanted to hear, weren’t they? The ones he hadn’t even dared thinking about.
But they seemed fake. Like a lie, a ruse.
Not because Ram seemed insincere, but because some horrible part of King was telling him this couldn’t be true. He didn’t deserve it, could never deserve it.
King only realised that he was crying when Ram’s thumbs were at his cheeks, wiping the tears away, his whole demeanor suddenly soft and gentle, a blanket around King’s heart.
“I don’t deserve you”, he whispered, daring to say what was on his mind instead of behaving as if he wasn’t frightened to the bone, “I don’t deserve this.”
Another kiss and King let him, let himself enjoy the tenderness as long as it lasted.
“Let me prove it to you.”
Ram smiled one of his rare, blind smiles as his soft fingertips continued to caress King’s cheeks and brows and chin.
“That you’re worth it.”
Knowing that he was allowed to hug the man who was half asleep next to him, was something else than unconsciously doing it while still hoping it would be a phase. That it was a friendship thing. A taking-care-of-Ram thing.
Tentatively, King reached out and watched as his fingertips reached a strand of thick, black hair, as he felt it and moved on. Watched as he touched a mole at Ram’s ear, almost too small to see. Watched as his fingers came to rest softly on the dream catcher tattoo, staying there for a moment as the sensation came like a shiver to King.
He’d touched the various tattoos a few times already, but he’d never taken the time to do it. To just feel the skin, the difference between the mark and the rest.
As he followed the lines and swirls, King felt brave. Brave and daring to reach out and touch, despite his brain still wondering if it was right. If he was wanting too much.
The memories from last night helped to shush the voice in his head, to take away some of the power it had.
Ram had promised and he was doing everything he could to follow up on that promise. To show and prove and leave no doubt.
He had kissed King thoroughly last night, had left no part of skin untouched until King hadn’t known any longer where he began and where Ram ended.
There were hickeys across his chest, proof of Ram’s devotion, of Ram’s determination.
King could still feel the sensation of Ram’s fingers pressed into his thighs as he’d gone down on him, stealing the last bit of breath, the last clear thought, King had had this night.
His body really was proof, that this wasn’t all fake. That it wasn’t just a farce in his mind.
Suddenly, the happiness was bubbling up from his belly, through his chest and into his cheeks. He leaned forward, daring, even more, to press a kiss to the tattoo behind Ram’s ear, leave another one on Ram’s shoulder.
With a sigh, Ram shuffled closer and the voice in King’s head was drowned out.
For the moment at least.
It had gotten quieter already, thanks to Ram and some much needed therapy, but sometimes it was still there.
And maybe it would always lurk around the next corner, but King wouldn’t make it easy for it to come back. To come back and hold him prisoner the way it had done so before.
‘Morning’, Ram’s eyes on him said and with a racing heart, he laid a hand on top of Ram’s collar bone.
“Good Morning”, he responded.
Ram turned and within seconds, their legs and arms were intertwined, Ram’s face buried in King’s neck and his hand in King’s hair.
“Five more minutes”, Ram mumbled and King felt his neck heating up, but he pressed them together even tighter.
“As long as you want, my love”, King dared to say, glad it was a Sunday and the sun was barely shining through the blinds.
He still wasn’t sure if he deserved this love, if he was truly worthy of all Ram was ready to give. But he’d grab it, grab the chance and hold on to it, to Ram to this as long as he could, as long as Ram was ready to give.
“I love you”, he whispered against Ram’s temple as his partner was fast asleep once more, “I want to stay with you.”
He’d tell Ram, the next time he was awake and could hear him.
He would definitely tell Ram that he was loved as well. Loved and wanted.
That King wanted to stay by his side.
As long as he wanted.