Tin couldn’t hold it in anymore. They were snuggling. Snuggling. The intimacy of it made him feel like a fraud. He knew for a fact Can was lying to him about one thing, who knows what else he was lying about?
He convinced himself that what he was about to do was the right thing. He’s learned from his mistakes, he had to.
He pushed Can, who was leaning against him, by the shoulders, so that they were sitting apart from each other. Can turned his head to him.
Tin swallowed before he spoke, “We should end this.”
“Are you tired?” Can wondered aloud. “There’s only like 20 minutes left.”
That innocence might be a farce, a little voice inside Tin’s head told him. And you’ve been fooled by it so far, it said again.
“No,” Tin shook his head. “I don’t mean the movie.”
Can’s eyebrows scrunched up and he tilted his head slightly to the right, as he does when he’s confused. Tin had always found that adorable. He had a hard time pushing that thought to the back of his mind. He couldn’t be thinking of this kind of thing anymore.
“Then what? I don’t get it.”
“This,” Tin answered Can’s question by pointing his index finger at Can and then himself.
The surprise Can felt was evident on his face. His honest, honest face that always betrayed what he was feeling. The same face he used to greet Tin every single time for the past two weeks while failing to tell him one important fact.
“It feels so wrong,” he breathed out. Actually, the things that were coming out of his mouth were what felt so wrong.
Can sat up straight. “Where is this coming from?”
“Nowhere. It’s the truth. I’m done putting up with all… this,” he waved his hand around.
“Did I do something to annoy you?”
The question was vulnerable, the expression Can was wearing was vulnerable, Tin felt fucking vulnerable.
He had go to through with it or he would’ve lost his guts.
“I’m trying to tell you something, would you just listen?” he snapped. He knew his voice went at least two octaves higher than usual. “We should break up.”
“If you’re joking,” Can crossed his arms in front of his chest, “it really isn’t funny at all.”
“I’m not joking.”
Can stood up from his spot on the couch, now looking more pissed than unhappy. “So, what, this past six months meant nothing to you?”
“If it did, I wouldn’t be saying this now, would I?” Tin asked him back. Can nodded curtly, as if he agreed, then proceeded to gather his things which were initially scattered around the room. Tin watched him, unsure. They were having an important conversation and suddenly Can’s cleaning?
“What are you doing?”
Can stopped his movements long enough to glare at Tin. “You’re not seriously expecting me to stay in your apartment after you broke up with me.”
He had a point, Tin conceded. They really did just break up. It made him feel sick to acknowledge that fact.
“Well, I’ll drive you back,” he said before he could stop himself. It was 8 o’clock, which for Tin meant it was two hours too late to let Can go anywhere alone.
He moved to get his keys from the table nearest to the door, but Can got there first. He held the keys in his hand.
“No, you won’t,” he said sternly. “You break up with me, now you want to take me home? Pick a damn side.”
He threw the keys back on the table and left, unsurprisingly slamming the door on Tin’s face. To be honest, Tin felt like he probably deserved it.
Tin slept on the floor that night and the night after. Neither the bed nor the couch is free of Can’s smell and his head hurt every time he’s reminded of him.
Tin's still thinking about the broken look Can gave him when he heard Pete’s panicked call. He sees Ae rushing directly towards him with heaving chest.
“Whoa,” he manages to let out when Ae grabs his collar with full force and drags his face down to the shorter guy’s level.
He instinctively slaps Ae’s hand away and takes a few step backs, putting some kind of distance between the two of them before Ae can manage to beat him into a pulp. He looks at Pete wildly, hoping his friend would manage his boyfriend like he always does. Ae is short-tempered, alright, but he never fails to listen to Pete no matter how angry he is.
He looks pretty angry right now.
Ae lifts a finger to point at him. “What did you do to him?!”
Tin raises his eyebrows. He doesn’t have the time for Ae’s jealous nonsense and he’s certainly not in the mood for it.
“I haven’t seen Pete all weekend, what are you babbling about?”
“I’m not talking about Pete!” Ae’s voice is getting higher and higher by each passing second. Pete looks around them, worry in his eyes. He’s right to be, people are starting to notice the ruckus Ae’s making and they are stopping to watch.
Great, now Tin’s a spectacle. He’s been trying to play nice with Ae since he’s been with… well, Can. He thought it was working well, but apparently, he’s proven wrong. Not that it matters now. He won’t have any reason to behave around Ae anymore, except maybe to save Pete some headaches.
“Then I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tin shrugs.
Ae’s about to yell his lungs off again when Pete gently put his hand on his boyfriend’s shoulder. “Ae, will you let me talk to Tin?”
Ae never says no to Pete, everyone knows this. Especially not when he asks him with such soft tone and flushed cheeks.
He nods mutely before walking away from the two of them with his hands shoved into his pocket and his shoulders hunched.
“He was going to hurt me,” Tin notes disapprovingly. Ae is a good half-feet shorter than he is, but there’s no doubt that he can pack a good punch. It would have hurt like hell.
Pete shakes his head in that characteristic way of his. “Ae would never do that.”
That’s probably true, normal people don’t go around punching others without having a proper conversation first. Can’s an exception. Can’s the only exception. Or maybe Can’s just not normal.
Tin taps his foot on the ground impatiently. “So what was that all about?”
Pete looks at him through his eyelashes, which makes Tin wonder what it might be. Pete’s only ever this cautious about important things. If it was about Ae being jealous, he wouldn’t have let Pete talk alone to him, just the two of them. It’s not like he has any reason to, Tin hasn’t tried messing with their relationships for quite a long time now.
“Ai Can fell off the stairs,” he says finally.
Tin’s heart drops to his stomach. That clumsy boy would be the death of him. He always manages to find new, innovative ways to get himself hurt. Sometimes it’s a ball to the face, other times it’s a slip down the stairs.
“Well, Ae… wanted to call you to let you know, but Can said not to.”
Of course. There’s no reason for Ae to call Tin. He stays silent, waiting for Pete to carry on with his story-telling. “I was really worried, he really went rolling down the stairs, Tin. So I asked him if he’s sure we shouldn’t call you.”
“And then he told you?”
“Told us what?” Pete answers his question with another question.
Tin guesses that’s a no. “What happened then?”
“Um,” Pete hesitates, “he started crying.”
That takes Tin by surprise.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“He started crying. Um, sobbing. Really, Ae’s shirt got wet and he had to go back to his own dorm and get changed.”
He mentally slaps his forehead. Can sure knows how to make a scene. No wonder Ae came charging at him like a madman, Tin can only imagine how bad Can's crying was that Pete, a total crybaby himself, had referred to it as sobbing.
“Look,” Pete takes a confident step forward, “I don’t know what’s going on but I’m guessing he didn’t cry because his butt hurts from falling.”
Tin stares at Pete for a moment and Pete replies to his silence by raising his eyebrows. Tin tells him, “I was just reminded how much I don’t like your boyfriend.”
“Huh? Why are you talking about Ae all of the sudden?”
“You’ve changed since you known him.”
Pete sighs tiredly. “I thought we were past this.”
Tin smirks. For once, that’s not what he meant. Despite the rough patch he and Ae went through at the start, which admittedly was his fault, he’s grown to respect him even though they don’t get along. Ae makes Pete happy, too, so there’s that.
He’s not saying there aren’t any downsides to Pete being with Ae, though.
“The old you would have never said ‘butt’ out loud. In public,” Tin points out.
A shy smile blossoms on Pete’s face. “You’re avoiding the topic.”
“And you don’t know how to stop prying into other people’s businesses.”
He turns around and starts walking away from Pete, who easily catches up with him, having gifted legs as long as Tin’s own. “What happened?”
“Nothing happened,” Tin walks faster.
Pete doesn’t relent, picking up his pace to keep up with Tin. “Did you two fight?”
“You can say that.”
“So something did happen.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Tin waves his hand around dismissively. “it’s the last time we’d fight, anyway.”
“That’s good, then, you shouldn’t fight too much.”
Tin curses inwardly at the suggestive tone his friend uses. Pete certainly knows which buttons he has to press to get the information he wants out of Tin. It’s a good thing that he’s one of the few people allowed to do it.
Pete stops, too, mostly because he bumped into Tin.
“It’s the last time because we broke up, Ai Pete.”
In any other situations, Tin would laugh at the range of expression that comes across Pete’s face in the span of a couple seconds. First, he’s surprised, then confused, then annoyed because he thinks Tin is joking with him, then surprised again when he realises Tin isn’t.
“What did you do?” Pete asks innocently.
Tin rolls his eyes. “Shorty’s really rubbed off on you in all ways possible. You’re so outspoken now. Go away.”
“I’m serious,” Pete says, grabbing his arm. “Why did you break up with him?”
Tin glances down at long fingers wrapped around his wrist. Ae would surely break said wrist if he sees this scene, so Tin removes them carefully. “How did you conclude that I was the one who broke it off? I only said we broke up.”
“Can loves you too much to even think about breaking up, so it must be you.”
“No, he doesn’t,” Tin spats bitterly. He turns his face away from Pete, just in case he gets dust in his eyes and starts tearing up or whatever.
Pete only stares at Tin and doesn’t reply for a moment, but it turns out he’s simply preparing to drop a bomb that would change everything. “Loves you enough to turn down a large sum of money.”
“I’m not supposed to tell you this,” Pete fiddles with the hem of his shirt.
“Well, you better tell me now.”
Pete shifts from leaning on one leg to the other nervously. “Your brother came to see him.”
Yes, that much is evident to Tin. He had seen them in a cafe near Can’s department when he was going to find Can. His first instinct was to run into the cafe and scream like a madman at his brother, and then at Can, and then some more at his brother, but the hollow feeling that appeared in his stomach at the sight of the two of them together had made him run to the bathroom and vomit instead.
It wasn’t as much the fact that they met, it was the fact that he saw Can laughed just like he usually does around his friends, around Tin.
And then proceeded to tell him nothing of the encounter.
“He… offered to pay Can’s tuition fee all the way to graduation. His sister’s, too.”
Typical of his brother. Tin’s disappointed but not surprised, which is a recurring theme when it comes to P’Tul.
“In exchange for?”
That’s enough information for Tin. He can put two and two together quick enough.
“Is he back in his dorm?” he asks Pete.
He gets a nod in return. “Yes.”
“Okay, I gotta go. Tell Ae I said thank you.”
He’s not saying that he runs all the way to Can’s dorm or anything, but he definitely makes it there in record time.
Pete watches his friend go and smiles to himself, not only because Tin has just used Ae’s actual name to refer to him for the first time but also because his hurried steps mean he’s going to make things right with Can. Pete turns around and walks toward the other direction, wondering where Ae might be waiting for him. Probably somewhere in the shade. He knows too well Ae hates the being under the heat of the sun unless he’s playing football.
“People normally only miss a couple steps. What kind of idiot falls off from the top of the stairs straight to the bottom?”
Can looks up at the sound of Tin’s voice. From where he’s standing by the door, Tin can see his eyes are glassy and a little red. “I thought that only happened in movies.”
“I told them not to call you,” Can pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration.
Tin steps inside Can’s room and closes the door behind him, leaning on it for support. He crosses his arms in front of his chest. “No, apparently you bawled your eyes out at them so they won’t call me.”
Can looks away from him, probably hiding the flush of embarrassment on his face.
“You can go, I’m alright.”
Enough foreplay, Tin thinks. He just wants Can in his arms again as soon as possible.
“I know you met my brother.”
Can turns then, his eyes wide. “I can explain,” he replies hastily.
Tin shakes his head, you don’t have to. He should never have to, Tin should’ve trusted him. Tin does trust him, he just couldn’t bear the possibility that Can might hurt him, because he doesn’t see any way he’d ever survive that.
“Pete told me.”
“Pete?” Can wonders aloud before nodding to himself, putting the pieces together. “Ae just couldn’t keep his mouth shut,” he grumbles.
“He tells Pete everything, of course,” Tin pauses, “I had hoped you were the same with me.”
Can’s forehead creases as he processes what Tin is saying. “Is that why you broke up with me?”
“Yeah, I guess I decided to… hurt you before you can hurt me.”
The boy sitting on the bed is silent, which scares Tin a lot, if he’s to admit it. When Can yells at him for doing something wrong or even thinking about doing something wrong, it soothes him, the knowledge that Can still cares.
His silence might mean what Tin has done is unforgivable, irreversible.
He prays silently that it isn’t.
“Oh, you hurt me alright,” Can sighs after a beat, running his fingers through his hair.
Tin takes a tentative step forward. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be,” Can answers him. “But… is that all?”
Tin stares at him. He doesn’t understand what Can means, and Can’s never elusive about his intentions.
He takes a deep breath before giving a reply to Tin’s question. “The only reason you lashed out and told me what we had meant nothing was because of this, right?”
Oh. Oh. His heart aches at the knowledge that he was the one who put these doubts into Can’s mind.
Can covers his face with his hands. “Oh, thank God. I don’t think I’ll recover if you actually meant that. Not in this lifetime.”
Tin’s heart is so filled with love for the boy in front of him, that he might as well rip it out and hand it over to Can. It’d never be anyone else’s but his, anyway, certainly not in this lifetime. He sat down by the edge of Can’s bed, instantly getting pulled into a hug. Tin buries his face on Can’s neck, thinking he’d never want to let go of him ever again.
“I only saw you laughing with him and I…” Tin trails off, “I waited. I waited for you to tell me, since if it was a good meeting there’s literally no reason for you not to, but you never did. I thought…”
Can’s hold around his body tightens.
“I’m sorry! You never really told me about him and when he came, he said he wanted to get to know me better because I was important to you, so I went along with him.”
His boyfriend can definitely learn a thing or two from him about not trusting people so easily, but then Can wouldn’t be Can if he doesn’t continuously try to find the best in everybody. Tin loves that about him.
“You shouldn’t go places with strangers, you know,” Tin chastises quietly.
“In my defence, we were in public and he said he was going to show me your baby pictures!”
How could Tin stay mad at that? Can is too adorable.
He pulls away from the hug just because he misses looking at Can’s face.
“I really wanted to punch his lights out when he started bad-mouthing you. His tone was so pleasing, as if the words coming out of his mouth weren’t all lies,” he starts again. “Well, Ai Ae was there to buy coffee for Ai Pete and he literally pulled me out of the cafe… I had to tell him.”
Tin guesses that it’s just how karma works. He meddled with Pete’s relationship a little too much at the start because he was mistrusting of Ae, it’s only suitable that Ae’s the one getting stuck in the middle of his own now. Even though he’s thankful that Ae kept Can out of trouble, Tin needs to have a word with Pete’s boyfriend about keeping important secrets from him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks Can.
“I didn’t want to hurt you. I’d never take the money, anyway,” he pauses, and then, “Did you think that?”
Tin shakes his head. “No… I didn’t even know, remember?” he reminds Can. “I just… I don’t want to be lied to, in any form.”
Can intertwines their fingers together. “You said you wanted to trust me, Tin.” Tin nods, he meant what he said and he wants to do exactly that. “Then trust me. We’ll work on it.”
“Yes.” Can kisses the back of his hand and mumbles something against it that Tin doesn’t quite catch. “What was that?”
“You owe me about 100 pork skewers for the emotional turmoil I had to go through.”
Tin releases Can’s hand to hold his face. “I’ll buy you all the pork skewers you want until one of us dies,” he says, as serious as he can manage while looking at Can.
The way Tin always wants him to. The way he deserves to.
“So morbid,” he comments, still laughing.
Tin leans in, resting his cheek against Can. Then he whispers in his ear, “I love you.”
Can holds him by the shoulders and pushes him away so he can look at Tin’s face.
“What did you just say?”
“I love you,” Tin says again, looking right at him.
Can falls back on his bed, covering his face with his pillow. Tin can hear his muffled screams. He keeps screaming for a good minute before he throws the pillow right at Tin’s face.
“You’re not romantic at all!” Can blurts out. “You just broke up with me, then made up, then told me you love me all in the span of a couple days. My ass still hurts, too!”
“What does the state of your ass has to do with anything?” Tin inquiries, even though he understands what Can meant as he’s asking the question.
Can blushes, pinkish tints appearing on his pale cheeks. Tin couldn’t resist the blissful look on his face and reaches out a hand to pull Can up and hold the back of his neck, bringing their face closer together once again.
He presses his lips against Can’s, softly, carefully, afraid that he might break the boy, might break the delicate balance between the two of them that they’ve fought so hard to maintain. Can, on the other hand, is having none of his chaste bullshit. He licks in between Tin’s lips, asking for permission to go further. Just like Ae, who’s weak to Pete’s requests, Tin is rendered completely useless to Can’s.
He gives Can what he wanted.
Can hums against his lips happily.
Then he abruptly stops, causing Tin to whine at the loss of contact.
“I forgot!” he exclaims.
“Love you too!” he says again, with the amount of enthusiasm Tin has only ever seen him use when talking about food.
Tin lunges back in and mashes their lips together, giving Can a proper kiss that made him moan in pleasure before he moves back, and then away.
He makes his way to the door.
“Wait, what,” Can snaps back to reality.
Tin turns around. “I’m leaving.”
Can stares. And stares. Then stares some more. “Where…? Why?”
“To get pork skewers,” Tin explains.
The atmosphere in the room is lifted up by the intensity of Can’s smile. “I really love you, like, so much.”
Can raises his chin in defiance. “I’m not.”
Tin believes him.