‘The Morning After’ begins in Tien’s room. A lit cigarette in hand, Tien waits for Jay to finish showering. When the latter comes out, he quips how Tien feels like he’s afraid, and Tien quickly says that he isn’t sure who Jay is hooking up with the past year. When Tien segues with a check on Jay’s hospital visit, Jay says that Tien sounds like he’s his mother. Tien jokes that a mother won’t offer cigarettes. As if trying to prove a point, Jay tries to grab a new stick from Tien — which he manages — and lights it. Their conversation shifts to why Tien refuses to kiss Jay. Tien says it’s not for him, and Jay wonders if Tien is already dating someone else which he denies. Tien throws the question back at Jay who answers that he’s broken up with his ex a year ago.
The conversation gets cut when the kettle whistles and Tien offers Jay tea. Jay, however, refuses because caffeine isn’t good for his heart condition. Tien brews a cup for himself, but Jay grabs it from Tien and immediately takes a sip, oblivious to the fact that it’s still boiling hot, and burns himself. Tien, laughing, offers to buy him something outside instead.
As they walk, Jay brings their conversation back to the “no kissing” topic and asks if Tien has always been like this. Tien says no as if to digress. Jay stops and sits before posing another question: if people take kissing less seriously these days. Tien doesn’t directly answer, but he describes how people casually do it, especially in bars. Jay shares that in his case, he takes kissing seriously. He adds that you kiss a person — or even hook up with them — because in one way or another, you like them. Jay walks further as he talks (an ambulance in the background, a not-so-subtle way of telling what might happen next), and Tien tells Jay to “call” him, making a phone call gesture with his hand, a reference to the American romance trilogy “Before”.
Jay hesitates at first but gives in eventually. He asks what his character will be, and Tien says he’ll be his best friend. Tien “rings” and when “best friend” Jay picks up, Tien confides that he thinks his fuck buddy already has feelings for him. He continues that when they started hooking up, they agreed to have sex but they cannot kiss, but this time, he insists on kissing him. “Best friend” Jay asks why Tien does not want to kiss his fuck buddy, but Tien stutters. They are interrupted by a stranger who asks for directions to the metro station. Tien tries to keep the act on, but Jay gives up and pulls him to continue walking.
Jay mentions that he still has a general meeting to attend which amuses Tien because of how busy Jay gets despite the ongoing pandemic. Then Tien brings up the funny moments they had while hooking up the past years, like Jay’s phone ringing non-stop because of his ex, or Tien’s ex suddenly coming to his apartment, forcing Jay to hide outside the balcony. Tien laughs, joking about how they are going to hell, and Jay agrees.
When they return to the apartment, suddenly, Jay drops on the floor — he’s having a heart attack. Tien panics, and he rummages through the drawers where Jay puts his medicine. He cannot find it first and tells the concerned neighbor to call 119, the Taiwanese emergency hotline. Eventually, Tien gets his hands on the right medicine, and he quickly makes Jay drink one. When Jay calms down, he leans close to Tien, kisses him, and chuckles.
That makes Tien a bit mad, and he tells Jay that he’ll pay for his act. Jay says he wasn’t acting, and that he really had an attack, although Tien is still annoyed to take it as truth. Although it gets a little awkward at first, Tien finally confesses that he doesn’t want to kiss anyone again since his breakup because his ex cheated on him. Jay is apologetic about what happened.
Tien leaves for a while, and when he returns, he sees Jay playing the guitar on the bed. Tien lies next to him. Jay then asks if they should give it a try. Tien doesn’t answer immediately. Jay says that if it doesn’t work it, they can be just fuck buddies again. Instead of saying something, Tien sits up and kisses Jay.
‘The Morning After’ is a heartwarming short with interesting lessons about romance, boundaries, and consent. At the same time, it’s a reminder that we deserve to give love a chance. Because at the end of the day, we deserve to love and to be loved.
Watch ‘The Morning After’ on GagaOOLala.