His life as a wanderwhore teaches him two truths.
First truth. Life is cruel. People don’t really care how it manipulates and destroys a person as long as they will not be involved in it. Most people will always save themselves before others. Survival is human nature.
And there’s the second truth, which Bright still hasn’t mastered–the involvement of feelings. A wanderwhore should never feel. Once feelings start to get involved, the wanderwhore life is doomed to end.
Bright grows up with the finest things money can buy. His father made it big in the oil business years ago, securing a future for him and for the next generations to come. His mother, on the other hand, is a famed plastic surgeon. Her clients range from well-known celebrities and models to bored, rich housewives. She is also a socialite. If she doesn’t give parties, she attends one. She is in every famous person’s VIP guest list.
But despite all of these conveniences in life, their family is different from most rich families. Unlike the stereotypical elite ones wherein parents are too busy for their kids, Bright’s parents always make sure to spend time with their two children, Mika and Bright, who, despite their five-year age gap, are very close.
Bright has an ideal family set-up. His parents and his older sister have never been the problem with what’s going on inside him.
It has always been him. Bright has always been afraid of the concept of home.
Home. Home is permanence. Home is steady. Home is stability. Home is static. And it’s a curse for someone whose soul is restless, whose soul craves for freedom all the time.
Bright is a flighty soul. He has the biggest pair of itchy feet.
Bright’s family—he loves them so much—but they’re not enough to contain his soul. The silent whirlwind of emotions inside him is too difficult to contain even by love. It’s overflowing. It’s massive. It will take a strong, steady force to subdue the limitless craving for possibilities.
This doesn’t happen overnight. Even as a kid, Bright already possesses the restless winged feet. At the tender age of five, he has probably broken most rules that are actually set to control teenagers: curfew, the choice of friends, and proper etiquette a young man from their society should have memorized since birth.
Choice of friends. Bright still finds himself smiling whenever he thinks about his first friends. They’re not the typical pals a kid is expected to hang out with.
Bright’s first friends are far from who society thinks as normal. One will typically think his first friends will be the neighbor’s son or daughter, but instead he meets them at a park a few blocks away from their home called The Woods.
Hagis and his wife Lupita are caretakers in said park. They are Bright’s first friends.
Hagis looks like a villain waiting for a stupid teenager to come near him so he can slash his or her throat. He’s tall, broad-shouldered, with a beard that could rival a hermit’s, and a nasty, lopsided grin. Lupita on the other hand looks normal, but there is something swirling in the depths of her eyes that will scare anyone. She looks like she can see into someone’s soul and tell the person his or her deepest darkest thoughts.
Bright has never cared about their looks. He is drawn to them the moment he first sees them.
They become Bright’s only friends in the neighborhood. He is often a visitor in their small bungalow at the edge of The Woods and they always served him tea and biscuits.
Hagis is actually a jolly man while Lupita is really weird, but in a… motherly kind of way. She often tells Bright that she can see his future– that Bright is destined to fly away as high as he wants, but with a clipped wing.
Bright doesn’t understand the ambiguous words, but he understands that Lupita is a woman of substance despite her oddities. He always keeps in mind the words that come out from her mouth. But the most memorable one will probably be Lupita’s last words just before she and Hagis leave town for an opportunity given to her husband: when you can’t take the flight, allow yourself to fall. There’s nothing wrong with falling, and risking whether someone will catch you or not.
Falling and risking—they don’t scare Bright. On the contrary, they become the essence of his being. A guide that allows him to navigate through life with a different approach than most people his age.
When Bright becomes a teenager, something in him stirs harder than ever. The constant need for change engulfs him whole. He can’t go to school like a normal kid because he always cuts classes. He’s often restless and just can’t keep still or stay in one room for long hours, doing the same things over and over again. He always feels the need to leave and be somewhere else instead. It’s a struggle for him to stay put for an hour or two, what more for three or more?
After a few mishaps in school, his parents finally decide to homeschool him until high school. Bright’s parents hire a tutor, who teaches him the whole day. His classes have an interval of an hour for every subject, perfect for someone like Bright.
College has been more tolerable for Bright. The experience has given Bright a better understanding of life. He has learned to curb the fierce instinct to flee at random times. He also starts to communicate better with people. Life is learned best through experience, and college has provided him that.
It doesn’t mean the need to fly has diminished. It’s still there, just lurking behind the surface, waiting for an opportunity to manifest itself again.
Which happens on the first day of his first job.
Bright is hired at a marketing firm as an associate. The tasks are manageable, but it’s the way they’re being handled that gets to him. There are processes for everything, even for the simplest task. Bright cannot work on a project without limitations and rules, and it begins to overwhelm him. He begins to feel restricted. Until he feels like his hands are fully tied and can no longer move. The struggle to be free from everything gnaws at him, forcing him to finally shake the shackles that have been holding him prisoner.
Bright’s parents witness the sudden breakdown. Bright’s sister feels it worse than anyone else.
So with a heavy heart, they let him scratch the itch. They allow Bright to leave.
“Leave,” Mika had told him. “Leave, travel, go everywhere, anywhere… but promise to come back. Because no matter how much it scares you, home is home, Bright. You need a home. Even if it’s not with us, there will come a time that you will have to stay somewhere. Be somewhere.”
“How will I know?” Bright asks her. He has experienced the feeling of wanting to stay somewhere or wanting to stay for something.
Mika hugs him. It’s more difficult for her to do it now when he’s six foot tall, but Bright hugs her back like a little child.
“I have no exact answer to a subjective abstract, Bright. That will always be up to you. All I know is that when you come back on your own, you are probably ready to stay and call something your home.”
Bright chuckles at the memory. Mika has always been the smarter one between them.
Stay. Such a simple word with an ambiguous meaning, and Bright hasn’t found its meaning for him yet. He’s not sure if he even will.
Bright turns his head to meet the owners of the voices he has gotten used to hearing in the past few weeks. He smiles and stands up from the wooden bench to meet Daniel and Mia, who are running towards him, their backpacks bobbing up and down as they do so.
Daniel reaches Bright first, immediately launching himself on him. Bright picks him up like he weighs nothing. Daniel embraces him and buries his face on his neck, surprising Bright. The urge to push the boy away starts to consume him, but thank goodness he is able to suppress it.
“How’s school?” Bright asks as he awkwardly pats Daniel’s head with his free hand.
“It’s good!” Daniel says, lifting his head so he can look at Bright in the eyes. He sounds enthusiastic. “We made drawings today! I drawed a tree!”
“It’s drew, not drawed,” Mia corrects him. Daniel ignores her, which he seems to often do lately every time his sister corrects him.
“Bright, where’s Uncle Wynn?” Daniel asks instead, burying his face on Bright’s neck again.
“Wynn is busy today,” Bright replies. Wynn is supposed to pick them up today, but he texts Bright at the last minute, asking him to do it instead. The café is serving a large group of people for an event, and the other man’s hands are full the whole day. “Are you disappointed I fetched you?”
Daniel shakes his head. “No. But Uncle Wynn promised he’d bring us to the café today. Will you bring us there?”
“Really?” Bright hasn’t been to the café, and he has never felt the need to ask more about it. But he’s lying if he says he isn’t curious about what is keeping his employer busy all the time.
Bright catches Mia’s eyes. The little girl is looking at him with that cute, expectant look that should be considered illegal.
“Uncle Wynn did,” she says, tone almost begging. “And I want to see Jared. And I want to eat Reeve’s cake. Please, Bright,” she says. “Please bring us there.”
“Please, Bright,” Daniel whispers while playing with the hood of Bright’s jacket. “I want a chocolate shake.”
Oh God. Bright should learn how to say no to these two. Wynn, and even Bow, has warned him about the convincing power of the children. At first, he doesn’t take it seriously, but when the two kids start using it, Bright is taken aback by what they can make him do. The charm always works on the young man, making him succumb all the time. He knows Wynn wants to call him on it, but the other man is not faring any better. Wynn is worse when it comes to the two kids.
Speaking of Wynn. For the past few nights that they’ve been talking, Bright is starting to understand him. Wynn has many layers, and he manages to unsheath a few of them. Although there is that certain moroseness which seems to make him complex, Bright’s employer is actually easy to understand.
Wynn loves the feeling of being needed, of being useful. He takes pride in being someone else’s pillar. The man will not admit it, but the pride in his voice can’t be concealed whenever he tells Bright about how he works hard for his family.
It may not look like they have the best sibling relationships, but Wynn loves it that his parents left Bow in his care. He also loves it that he gets to provide for Daniel and Mia like a proper parental figure.
But, there is also one small catch. A flaw in the system Wynn has established on himself.
He doesn’t want to need someone. A paradox that makes sense. Bright understands contradictions the most. He is, after all, one himself.
Bright almost drops Daniel. “What?”
“Let’s go!” Mia says, pulling at Bright’s hand. “We’ll take a cab! Hurry, Bright!”
No just hangs on Bright’s lips. It’s once again never uttered.
“Apt,” Bright mumbles, quite amused at the name of the café. The owner is literally a workaholic and a coffee addict. While the man prefers tea at night, Wynn consumes coffee during the day like it’s nobody’s business. The other man is the very embodiment of the café he owns.
“It’s big, isn’t it?” Mia asks, her eyes twinkling. “Uncle Wynn owns this. And there are many more like this in other places, Bright. Uncle Wynn owns many like this! He is riiiiiiiiicch.” She sounds proud, and it makes Bright smile.
“It is big,” he agrees. “And impressive too.”
Bright allows himself to be pulled inside.
The divine smell of coffee intermingling with the smell of pastries and pasta, passes through Bright’s nose as they enter the cozy establishment.
The shop is all glass, except for the back walls and one side wall. From the outside, one can see the dainty interior of the café. The concrete walls are covered with wallpapers that look like giant pages torn from books, which Bright feels is really very creative and classy. Bright can make out a few of her favorite quotes from both classic and modern writers.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. Henry David Thoreau.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. John Milton. The blind man’s words have always been a favorite of his.
“Oh,” Bright quietly snickers when his eyes land upon another quote. This one from a modern writer: JK Rowling. The chamber of secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware. “Someone’s a Harry Potter fan,” he mumbles before letting his eyes trail on other quotes. He can see Thomas Elliot, Shakespeare, John Green, and Charlotte Brontë.
Bright looks at Mia. The little girl is pouting at him and tapping a foot impatiently. Daniel on the other hand is just giggling.
“I’m sorry,” Bright apologizes sincerely. Spacing out is a habit of his.
“Ah. So you’re the new sitter.”
Bright extricates his gaze from Mia to meet the owner of the voice. He is leaning over the counter, staring at him with those soulful green eyes.
“Oh… hello,” Bright nods awkwardly. He’s really not good at first impressions. It doesn’t seem to faze the other man though as a smile brightens his face.
“I’m Jared, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Bright,” he says, extending his hand for Bright to shake. Bright smiles easily at the easygoing greeting and shakes Jared’s hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Bright quips, feeling a little relieved at the other’s pleasant personality. “And yes, I am the new sitter to these pain-in-the-peach kids.”
“It’s not peach,” Daniel giggles. “It’s butt.”
“Dan!” Mia immediately her younger brother for the use of an adult word. “This is Pa-Bow’s fault,” Bright hears her whisper.
The smile falls from Bright’s face at the mention of the name. From the way Jared grimaces, it seems like everyone knows who Bow is too. Yet, no one talks further about the subject.
“Soooo…” Jared says, diverting the attention away from Bow. “What can we get our little bosses and their new friend?”
Mia actually blushes, and Bright thinks this is the telltale sign of an innocent crush. Wynn has made the right choice in hiring Jared. This young man can charm anyone out of their pants, including kids.
“I want cheesake!” Daniel says with a smile, pointing at the Raspberry Cheesecake.
“It’s cheesecake,” Mia corrects, but once again, Daniel ignores her. The little girl sighs and timidly points at the triple chocolate delight. “I want the chocolate one, please. And… and can I get a cup of hot chocolate too?”
Jared winks at her. “Anything for milady.” Mia’s blush intensifies, making her look more adorable. Jared turns towards Bright. “And you, Bright?”
“Oh,” Bright shakes his head. “I… I don’t want anything.”
Jared frowns. “It’s free, Bright. You’re the boss’s family.” Bright wants to cringe at the mention of the word. “Right, boss?”
Huh. Right, boss? Right—
Bright turns around. Wynn is really standing there, looking at the spectacle happening in front of him. He is wearing his work mask, the kind that intimidates people. But the way his eyes soften tells Bright he is quite pleased that they’re here.
The children, he quickly corrects himself, not even bothering to ask why he needs to do so.
Shrugging off the thoughts that start to plague his mind, Bright watches as Daniel and Mia run towards Wynn. The older guy immediately goes down to his knees just as the two launch themselves at him. Both he and Jared watch fondly as the two kids start telling Wynn about their day in school.
“They’re so adorable,” Jared whispers.
Bright nods his head in agreement. “They are.”
“And boss loves them so much,” Jared adds. “He’s a softy when it comes to them. And less of a slave driver when they’re here.” The last statement is uttered loudly, causing Wynn to glare at his staff. Jared simply laughs and starts preparing the food the children requested.
“You were busy today,” Bright says.
“Yup,” Jared says. “We had an event. It was a small event at the function room upstairs. There were just about ten people. But the customer was a bit… demanding and wanted the attention of every staff member.” He rolls his eyes, making Bright chuckle. “Then of course, there’s the typical crowd. The café was quite full an hour ago too so we’re really up to our elbows.”
“Bright,” Jared says, placing the tray of cakes and pastries. He notices that there’s a slice of blueberry crème pie, which none of them ordered.
Jared cuts Bright off. “Don’t say anything. Just eat it. My boyfriend made that. Don’t insult him.”
Bright lifts a brow. “Boyfriend?”
Jared winks at him. “Yes. The grumpy pastry chef. Please don’t worry about this. Just eat, okay?” He says it with such tenderness that Bright finds himself swallowing a sudden lump in his throat.
“Okay,” Bright says after clearing his throat. “Thank you.”
He remains silent until Jared places two cups of hot chocolate and a cup of coffee on another tray. Bright doesn’t need to ask for whom the coffee is. Jared just gives him another wink before turning his attention to the customer who just entered.
Bright lifts one tray to carry and tries to lift the other too. But before he can spill anything, he finds one tray being snatched off his hands by a pair of strong ones.
Wynn’s. “Come on, I’m taking a break. Let’s eat together,” Wynn says with a small smile. The man has been giving Bright small smiles recently. Perhaps it’s a result of their nightly talks that Wynn has been a little friendlier towards him. Sometimes Bright even thinks he can already consider Wynn a friend.
Without waiting for Bright to respond, Wynn turns his back on him and leads the two children to an unoccupied table. He watches as Wynn sits beside his niece and nephew, his demeanor fully relaxed and carefree. Whenever Wynn’s with them, the other man lets go of a few inhibitions and just seems to enjoy the moment.
He really is different with them.
Bright smiles fondly at the sight before him. They look like a proper family even without Bow.
“Bright!” Daniel and his toothy grin.
“Bright! Come hereeeee!” Mia and the demanding but sweet lilt to her voice.
Wynn nods. Just nods. But there is a little smile playing on his full lips as he waves for Bright to join them.
Wynn. Wynn and his subtlety.
So Bright does without hesitation. He joins the little family at their table. He sits beside Wynn, and the man hands him a fork for his cake. Bright accepts it with one of his own smiles and joins the conversation, fitting naturally as if he has been a part of their lives for so long.
That night, when he’s lying on the comfortable couch and ready to sleep, Bright thinks about his afternoon at the coffee shop.
It’s when he realizes that he shouldn’t have accepted the offer to stay.
Wynn fully embraces independence.
He grows up doing things on his own and by his own.
Their father, Gilbert, is a Senior Vice President of a popular clothing brand. He practically lives in the office—he always comes home late and leaves home early. The time his children spend with him is rare. He is there yet he never is.
Their mother, Brianna, is a housewife. She doesn’t have a job. But instead of staying at home, she is always at one of her friends’ house, discussing household problems and gossiping about other housewives and their nonexistent sex lives. She is an affectionate mother, but she has never truly let go of her freedom. Most of the time, she forgets she already has a family to take care of.
That she has children who need her presence in their lives.
Wynn and Bow—they grow up with the maids as their only companions, a typical yet not an ideal set up for children born in a rich family.
Gilbert and Brianna are good parents when it comes to how parents should feel for their kids. They genuinely care for their sons. However, they have a different definition in mind with regards to the meaning of being responsible parents.
Gilbert thinks that because he can provide well for them, it’s enough to make them happy. Brianna on the other hand always thinks that her sons are independent enough not to need her so much, so she continues to live the life she used to live before her early marriage. She hasn’t completely let go of her bachelorette status, and has been trying her best to go back to the elite circle she used to belong to.
Which is probably why Wynn is the way he is. He has always acted as Bow’s parental figure ever since they’re young. Bow relies on his older brother more than he relies on their parents.
At a young age, Bow completely lets go of their mother and father as his guardians. As long as Wynn is there beside him, Bow never complains. There is no surprise that the bond between the brothers becomes stronger than the bond between parents and sons.
Wynn… likes that feeling. Most would have felt that it is a heavy burden and a responsibility, but to Wynn, it feels… good. It feels natural. He easily accepts it. He easily fits into the role as Bow’s guardian despite his young age. He takes care of Bow and looks after him without the slightest hint of regret. He takes pride in watching his brother grow into a fine young man.
For Wynn, it’s a huge accomplishment. His accomplishment.
When their parents decide to stay in L.A., Wynn doesn’t feel any remorse or anger for them. He welcomes the sudden change. So does Bow.
Wynn—he used to be Bow’s everything—his parent, his brother, and his best friend, his confidante. But that accident caused a great change. While Bow’s thoughts and feelings for his brother have somehow faltered in a way due to the brain operation, Wynn’s haven’t. He cares more for his younger brother, becomes more protective of him even.
Wynn’s parents volunteer to take Bow with them back to L.A., but Wynn disagrees. He knows what will happen to Bow if he allows it. Their parents will just hire caregivers to take care of him, something that Bow doesn’t need.
His younger brother isn’t an invalid. He has huge changes in his behavior, and he might be fond of using his wheelchair for an unknown reason, but Bow can still walk and move properly.
Bow needs to be placed in a normal environment. The flat affect might prevent him from understanding and feeling things the normal way, but he is still a breathing, feeling, thinking human being. He doesn’t need to be treated differently.
So Bow stays with Win. So do his children. It’s difficult at times, but Wynn handles everything by himself. He just needs help with the kids, but only because he has work to do. If he can only work at home, he will do it, if it means spending more time with his little family.
It’s the way Wynn wants it. It’s not about pride. Or plain stubbornness. It’s just that Wynn has become used to doing everything for himself and for the people who are important to him. As long as he can do it, he will do it.
But life is not life without randomly throwing odd twists and turns. There are times when life just doesn’t follow the direction it is supposed to take.
Like Bright’s arrival in his family life. In his life.
For someone who doesn’t even know what he wants in life, Bright instantly stirs the equilibrium Wynn has established in his family. He feels like a virus, silently spreading, silently conquering. The one infected by the deadly disease will not feel the effects until it’s too late.
Daniel and Mia accept Bright easily. No babysitter has ever stayed for a long time. Bow’s kids are nice kids, but they are very mischievous. Their previous sitters have to suffer pranks and white lies before they can even have the two children listen. Wynn often finds himself finding a new sitter every few weeks.
But with Bright, it’s different. They listen to every word he says. They love playing with him. They like hanging out with him and listening to his stories. They love the man.
There’s also the curious case of his younger brother. Bow probably doesn’t notice the changes, but he seems to feel things slowly. Wynn is still unsure if Bright has anything to do with it, but there are times he hears them having a decent conversation. And he swears he sees Bow crack a smile or two.
And then there’s… Wynn himself.
Wynn never relies on other people. He hates it. He doesn’t like the feeling of being a burden to other people.
But recently, he knows. Wynn knows that emotionally, he has come to rely on Bright. Wynn has never opened up the way he has been opening up to Bright.
Their night talks come as a surprise to him. They become an unexpected part of his routine. Wynn finds himself looking forward to the nights wherein he will find Bright awake, and at the balcony. It seems like their signal. Whenever Wynn comes home and finds the balcony door open, he will go straight to the kitchen and prepare tea for them. Then he will join Bright and they will talk about random things. Random things which often start as silly, but end up being one of the deepest talks in Wynn’s life.
Bright is smart—he knows about a lot of things and most importantly, he seems to have a good grasp of how they work. And Wynn, despite being knowledgeable about a lot of subjects, finds himself learning a lot from him. The other man’s life might seem to be directionless right now, but he has no doubts that Bright will be able to find his own path soon.
And Wynn hates this. All of this. He doesn’t like that he is having all of these thoughts about someone he just knew for a few weeks.
But he can’t stay away. He just can’t. That much he can admit. Bright has wormed his way into his life like a cunning fox. His presence has become a comfort to Wynn himself, and despite him trying to act like he’s all casual about it, he isn’t. It’s making a big impact in his life, in his family’s daily life, and he can’t just let it go.
Yet he doesn’t want to dwell on it too much. There are so many contradicting emotions threatening to climb into the surface, and Wynn is clueless on how he will be able to deal with them.
At least not yet. However, Wynn feels like there is something that needs to be addressed soon.
Bright has been… acting odd lately. There seems to be something wrong with him. Ever since that day at the café, Bright seems to become just a bit distant.
He still approaches Wynn the same way he always does. He still talks to him, interacts with him, discusses things with him, and argues with him at times. He smiles at him, laughs with him, and still remains his playful self around him at night.
But something has changed. It’s almost unnoticeable, but it’s lurking on the surface. Wynn can feel Bright, but there seems to be an otherworldly presence in him that tells Wynn that while the other man is physically present, his soul is miles away. It’s as if he is slowly drifting away from them, from him, and Bright is not even stopping it.
Wynn is bothered. He hates what this means. He hates what this implies. And as much as he tries to stop it, the feelings he’s trying to keep hidden starts to reveal a tension that confuses him more. It’s subtle, quiet, but it’s there.
And Wynn isn’t the only one who can feel it. Wynn knows they can both feel it. But even with the presence of the edgy air around them, the nightly ritual continues because they both need it.
The evening trysts become an escape from everything—Wynn from his uncanny need to prove how useful he is, and for Bright, perhaps it’s a break from his all-consuming thoughts.
Wynn works a lot. And Bright—he thinks a lot. Distraction is probably what they both need to maintain the equilibrium within themselves. The night talks allow them to find a rope that they can hold on to, and they both subconsciously grasp it tightly.
Some nights are fun, and light, and just everything a break from the universe’s quirks should be.
“Your mom almost named you Tortellini?” Bright asks in disbelief, causing Wynn to shush the other man. Bright blushes, the tips of his ears turning red, which Wynn finds endearing, and apologizes immediately. “I’m sorry, but that’s just a little absurd.”
“I know, but keep your voice down. Gosh. You’re waking up the whole neighborhood,” Wynn says with a disapproving tone. “But to answer your question, yes. Because Mom loves pasta. Italy is her favorite country. And she thinks it will be fun to name her children after her favorite pasta.”
“Yet, your name is Wynn…ter Melon.”
Wynn groans, and he hears Bright chuckle. “Don’t remind me. While Dad managed to convince her to agree to use another name, she uttered Winter Melon, her favorite milk tea flavor just before she passed out from exhaustion. She labored for nine hours. And Dad thought Mom deserved to name me however she wanted to.”
Wynn sighs. “Dad was able to at least save a little face for me by at least changing the spelling.”
Bright looks like he will die from all the suppressed laughter. Win glares at him. Bright averts his gaze and clears his throat before he speaks again. “So Bow is—”
Wynn nods, his lips twitching. “Bow’s namesake is the bow-shaped pasta.”
“Oh my God,” Bright whispers incredulously.
Wynn stares at him, blinking, before he bursts out laughing, surprising Bright. The look on the other man’s face makes Wynn want to capture it and frame it.
“You’re… laughing.” Bright’s tone is that of wonder, which almost insults Wynn.
But then again, he can’t blame the other man. While he smiles a lot these days, he still rarely laughs. Jared says he takes life too seriously. Bow says he is being selfish.
And Wynn thinks both of them are correct—he takes life too seriously and he is selfish.
“You’re starting to smile and laugh more lately,” Bright says, speaking the words Wynn just uttered in his head. “You have such a nice smile. Your dimple… is cute. A smile looks good on you. Wear it often.”
Bright isn’t looking at him, but rather at the night sky. But there is a ghost of a smile on the other man’s face that just twists at Wynn’s heart. He unconsciously touches his left chest with his right hand, trying to make sense of what he’s feeling without revealing what he doesn’t want it to reveal.
Not yet. .
“Must be the weather,” he calmly replies, giving a general response that doesn’t mean anything. Not yet. “The weather tends to affect one’s mood. It’s cold lately. I love the cold. When I love something, it puts me in a better mood.”
Unsurprisingly, Bright agrees. Because acquiescence is probably the best reaction to Wynn’s stupid, unexpected response. And it’s safe. Acquiescence is safe.
“Yes. It must be the weather.”
And Bright doesn’t say anything anymore. It’s as if he understands what just happened and he too doesn’t want to dwell into it more. They delve into other topics after such awkward moments, much safer topics that do not need stupid, nonsensical answers that render them both speechless and lost.
Some nights are silent.
They just sit, a full meter between them, sharing tea and pastries, until one of them leaves without saying a word.
The quiet nights are probably the safest nights. There is no venturing into the unknown or into the untouchable territories. They just both enjoy the silence.
And the company.
The silence is not just comfortable—it has become so much more. As days pass, it starts to become an assurance. An assurance that in silence, there is always company. That in silence, there can be sanctuary. That in silence, there can be concealed truths.
Silence has become the only witness to the huge development between them. Yet it does not speak. It does not divulge the unspoken secrets that have been thrown back and forth between two conflicted souls without the use of words.
Some nights are cathartic.
There are nights when every frustration, every anger, every pain, and every undefined feeling are released and brought to the light. These are the nights when they simply want to inflict pain to those who they think deserve it.
In their case, it’s pain towards each other.
Words are cruelly exchanged, hurtful words that penetrate the skin and strike the soul. They throw nasty remarks towards each other until the tension abates into plain weariness and superficial banters.
Stress always gets to Wynn all the time. He is, after all, still just a normal human being with limitations and fears, and weaknesses. And he needs to let it out or else it will affect his interaction with people the next day.
Wynn hates taking out his bad mood on Bow even though his brother deserves it at times. He hates it when he spends his morning with Daniel and Mia in silence, just because he is too careful not to blow up on them.
But Bright—he’s different. Wynn stops being afraid to show what he feels to him because Bright is also not afraid to retaliate and meet him head on.
Bright, as Wynn has found out, is the type of person who is never afraid to say anything if provoked. He curses at him, glares back at him, and always gives him a piece of his mind in that quiet, dignified way of his. Bright is intimidating whenever he wants to, and that ignites the fire within Wynn, making him release all of his pent-up tiredness as sharp words.
These nights always start the same way as the other nights. They just end differently.
Wynn will join Bright. Then he will start being an asshole by goading Bright through insensitive remarks that pertain to his odd situation. Bright usually becomes sensitive and defensive when his situation is being mocked.
Wynn will push Bright to the limits. It’s always been easy for him to accomplish that.
Then Bright will combust. The two of them will verbally assault each other until the insults turn into something too pathetic and too futile to be considered as insults.
One will just leave the balcony without another word, while the other one finally relaxes, knowing that the words are not as hurtful as they are meant to be.
The next morning, they will both be back to normal, as if the test of egos doesn’t happen the night before. It’s an odd arrangement, but it works for both of them. It’s a connection that cannot be explained by mere words.
The nightly trysts remain a secret. It’s just between him and Bright.
Until Bow finally calls him on it.
Wynn is tired. It’s one of those days wherein everything just seems to go wrong. At the end of the work day, he’s just glad to go home and dive into his bed.
Which he does the moment he arrives. He goes straight to his room and plops on his bed. He will check on the kids and his brother later. He just wants to take a short nap first.
Wynn is just about to close his eyes and finally get that much needed rest, when he hears soft knocks on his door. Thinking that it’s Daniel (the little boy dreams of sea monsters and mermaids and can’t sleep at times), Wynn tears the door open with a smile on his face.
It’s not Daniel. It’s Bow. On his wheelchair. Looking at him with that familiar blank gaze.
Wordlessly, Wynn steps aside to let him in. Bow doesn’t purposefully search for him if it’s simply nothing. His brother has something to say and he wants Wynn to listen.
Bow wheels his chair inside as Wynn closes the door behind him. He turns around and notices that Bow doesn’t go further inside, which means this will not take long.
“You and Bright are both idiots,” Bow says without hesitation. Wynn is surprised at the words that just came out of his brother’s mouth.
“Excuse me?” he asks, sounding confused. He is confused. “What?”
“How long have these things been going on? The nightly talks?”
“Why do you sound like it’s a bad thing?”
Bow responds tonelessly. “Just answer my question.”
“It’s none of your business,” Wynn says without faltering. He doesn’t mean for it to sound harsh, but with the way Bow is now staring at him, he knows he failed.
“It’s my business,” Bow says, looking him straight in the eyes. “Whatever is happening between you and Bright, it doesn’t just concern you two—it also concerns the three of us. The rest of us in this household.”
“I don’t understand what you are trying to say, Bow,” Wynn replies truthfully. “We are simply talking. If you are jealous because Bright is spending time with me then—”
Bow cuts him off with a short, sarcastic laugh.
“There is nothing funny with what I just said.”
“So you are thinking this way, huh?” Bow asks, his expression turning serious once again. “I don’t think of Bright the way you think I think of him.”
Wynn doesn’t reply. He is too lost for words. Bow’s response is so casual, but it feels like he just hit Wynn straight to his face.
“Listen to me well, Wynn,” Bow says, his face back to its usual indifference. “You’re different now. You might not admit it and you might not even have noticed it because you’re naïve as fuck, but you have changed.” He pauses for a while. “But the one that caused you that change—you know he won’t stay for long, right? Or have you forgotten it?”
This time, Wynn stiffens and Bow notices it.
“God, you’re hopeless,” Bow says impatiently. “Make him stay, you asstard, it’s what I want to say before you start spouting nonsense. Tell Bright you want him to stay even before he thinks of leaving. We know nothing about how these things work. We don’t know when Bright will have the urge to… leave again. Do something before it’s too late.”
Wynn feels like he’s being doused with ice cold water.
“I know you’re just afraid to ask him to stay because you think it’s a weakness to ask someone for something. It is NOT, brother,” Bow continues. “But I am not forcing you to do what you think will make you uncomfortable. But I just at least want you to know that if or when Bright leaves, you’re not the only one who will get affected.”
Wynn knows. Of course, he knows what Bow means. Daniel and Mia will be devastated when Bright leaves. The connection Bright has with the two kids are incomparable. They have never been attached to previous sitters as much as they are attached to Bright.
Daniel clings to him as if he is his only source of energy. Mia looks at him like Bright is her light.
And Bow, Bow himself changed. He is still an asshole most of the time, but he talks more to people around the house now, and interacts more with his children. Daniel is starting to accept his father’s behavior. Mia is still wary, but she doesn’t flee from the room now whenever Bow tries to talk to her.
“Bright’s this stupid young man who thinks he can fly forever,” Bow continues, cutting through Wynn’s thoughts. “And you—you think you exist to be someone else’s wings. You want to be useful all the time. You want to be able to protect all the time. You want to be everyone’s savior. But guess what, brother, not everyone wants to lean on someone. Sounds familiar?”
Wynn refuses to say anything. Bow shakes his head at his brother.
“One day, Bright will realize he needs to clip his wings,” the younger says. “And one day, you will realize that you need to stop acting as someone else’s wings. And perhaps, when you both do, you can finally meet in the middle.”
Silence seems to be Wynn’s only answer at the moment.
“I’m not your responsibility, Wynn,” Bow says quietly. “I never was. You just thought I was. You just think I am. Live your own life. Let me live mine. That will not take away the fact that we are brothers. I will always be your brother, and you will always be mine.”
Wynn still doesn’t say anything. And when it looks like he will remain silent for the rest of the conversation, Bow decides to just leave him alone to his thoughts.
“Think about it,” Bow says silently before maneuvering his wheelchair out of Wynn’s room.