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Tin came around to the Thai Program’s cafeteria one blissful afternoon, when the day was not too hot nor was it too cold and everything seemed to be perfectly normal. Except, Can presented his cheek towards Tin when he approached their table. Pete initially thought Can was turning his face away from Tin and that maybe they had fought again, only to watch his friend casually planted his mouth on Can’s skin.

It was quick. Tin didn’t linger any longer than necessary, instead he sat down on the bench immediately afterwards, but the magnitude of his action made Pete’s jaw drop.

“What did I just witness?”

Tin stared at him across the table, his expression carefully left blank. Pete could see that he was struggling to maintain his composure. Clearly, somehow, he had missed Pete’s presence on the table entirely and wasn’t prepared to give an explanation for what he had done.

It wasn’t that Pete was unaware of the budding relationship between Tin and Can, but he didn’t know that they had reached the stage where public display of affection was not big deal. Even Ae never greeted him that way. Pete wondered if Ae would suffer from a heart attack if he just came and kissed him on the cheek without forewarning.

“What? That’s how people say hello where I came from.” Tin gave Pete a dismissive wave of hand.

Pete weighed his options as he glanced back and forth between Tin and Can. Can didn’t seem to be bothered by the whole thing, he even had a shy smile on his face. Or at least, Pete thought it was a shy smile, he had never really seen this kind of expression coming from Can before.

He could let this whole thing go, he supposed, but he didn’t really want to. It was time for him to finally say to Tin: I told you so.

“You were born in Bangkok,” he said, casting a wide net and hoping Can would find himself caught in it.

Can did.

“Huh?” he turned to Tin in confusion, “I thought you said your mother was in Birmingham when she had you.”

Tin buried his face in his hands almost immediately because unlike Can, he knew what Pete was up to the moment he made that comment.

“She was. Ai Pete knows this,” he explained.

“Then––“ Can started to say before he blushed, hard, as he realised he fell hook, line, and sinker for Pete’s bait.

Pete had to stop himself from clapping his hands like a child who had just been handed a present. He still needed to keep his hands busy, though, so he clasped them together and leaned forward to ask his friends another question.

“Are you guys dating now?”

Tin glanced sideways at Can, unsure. “We…”

Pete almost regretted asking the question when he saw Tin bracing himself for impact. He wondered if he was pushing them too hard too soon, but he didn’t have to worry too long because he got the answer he was hoping for.

“Yes,” Can confirmed confidently.

He slipped his hand into Tin’s much to Pete’s surprise—and evidently also Tin’s, because the Ice Prince looked like he was getting overheated to a fatal degree.

The way Tin focused his gaze at Can in at moment reminded him of how Ae always made him feel. He prayed that this happiness will last for a long, long time. It was a good look on Tin. He decided to save his I told you so’s for later, granting Tin time to bask in his newfound joy.

Chapter Text

Pete tapped his knuckles on the driver’s window of Tin’s black BMW. The dark tint on the windows made it hard to see what was going on inside, but the soft hum of the engine indicated that to him that Tin was in fact in his car.

It was scorching and Pete didn’t want to judge Tin for taking advantage of his car’s air conditioning, but if Tin was sleeping through lunch break he was bound to be late for their next class. Not that he couldn’t academically afford to miss a class if he wanted to. Tin was effortlessly intelligent when it came to lessons, though love and relationships were trickier for him.

The most embarrassing thing Pete could imagine in that moment is finding Tin with a bedhead and maybe a little drool on the corner of his mouth, but when he rolled his windows down to answer him, Pete found Can in those conditions instead.

Sleeping on Tin’s lap.

Using Tin’s chest as a pillow.

He was probably even drooling all over Tin’s shirt, although it seemed like Tin managed to save his tie from the same fate by positioning it over his shoulder.

“What,” he said in a subdued voice.

Pete held back his laugh, observing the complete picture on display in front of him. Tin had pushed his seat all the way back to accommodate Can’s figure on top of his own, one hand placed on Can’s lower back to shield him from bumping his body into the steering wheel if he were to stir.

“Sorry,” he apologised even though he didn’t feel the slightest bit apologetic, “Felt like I should tell you that our next period is English and our professor already hates you for correcting her spelling all the time.”

Tin lifted his hand—the one he’s not using to protect Can—and made a gesture at Pete that roughly translated to, ‘Can’t you see I’m preoccupied at the moment?’. Pete could only grin in return, the whole thing was far too amusing for him to be able to have a proper response.

“Get lost,” Tin mumbled. “I’m skipping class.”

Pete nodded in understanding and Tin let out a breath of relief as he probably thought Pete wouldn’t prod further or worse, start taking pictures. Even if Pete were that mean, Tin would probably mind the fact that there would be defenceless pictures of Can circulating among their group of friends rather than himself being caught in a compromising position.

“Should I tell her you need some time to take care of… things?” Pete asked before he left them alone.

Tin glared at Pete menacingly and rolled his windows up.

Out of the goodness of his heart, Pete informed the professor than Tin wasn’t feeling too well and had decided to take the rest of the day off. She seemed to believe Pete, because Pete wasn’t the type of student to make up a lie in order to cover for his friend’s romantic getaway, but there he was, doing exactly that for the sake of love.

Tin repaid him by bringing a box of chocolate infused with what was said to be aphrodisiac, telling him to share it with Ae. Pete didn’t know whether there was truly aphrodisiac in it or it was the anticipation that made the sex more incredible than usual, but it was so worth losing his integrity.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t Pete’s fault, this time. No, really, he didn’t come looking for this. He just went to find Tin in the library to ask him about their group presentation and just happened to stumble upon Can invading Tin’s personal space without a care in the world that they were in public.

Tin never let anyone sit on the same table as him whenever he’s studying and no one wanted to, either, because Tin was the type of person who shushed people for breathing too loud. To his defence, he was probably one of the most effective people Pete has ever known when he put his mind to it, so to each their own, Pete guessed.

This time, however, Can took the seat to his left. From what Pete gathered, he was trying to get Tin to agree to something, though he wasn’t quite sure what.

“Please, for me?” Can pled.

Tin shook his head. “Don’t do that.”

“What?”

Tin shrugged off Can’s grip on his arm, though he did it slowly; nothing in his movement was harsh. “You say, ‘please, for me’ and think that I’ll do whatever it is you want,” Tin hissed lowly, “no way.”

He went back to writing things down on his notebook, ignoring Can who was pouting next to him. Can rearranged his seating position so that his body is facing Tin before he leaned in, resting his chin on Tin’s shoulder.

“Please, Ai Tin. For me?”

Tin craned his neck to look at Can’s puppy eyes before finally relenting, “Fine.”

Can jumped up from his seat in response, the legs of his chair screeching against the floor and creating a discordant sound loud enough to make heads turn in their direction. No one said anything, though, because Tin was glowering at people with his signature death glare.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Can exclaimed as he peppered Tin’s face with kisses, albeit his volume is much more contained than his excitement. “I love you,” he told Tin with an open and sincere expression on his face.

Now, Tin’s reply was much more quiet than Can’s proclamation, but Pete could swear he heard Tin reciprocate Can’s feelings with just as much intensity.

Can left him soon after with a wide smile on his face, but not before dropping a soft kiss to the top of Tin’s head as a goodbye. Pete stepped out from the shelf he was hiding behind for the past few minutes and dropped his books next to Tin, taking Can’s now empty seat.

“You look positively soft,” Pete commented, earning an eye-roll from Tin in return. “What was he asking for?”

“He wants to watch a horror movie.”

“That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request to me. Don’t be too harsh on him.”

“Last time we watched one, I was the little spoon for a whole week,” Tin blurted out before he could stop himself.

Pete stared at him blankly. He thought he must have misheard, because no way Tin had volunteered that piece of information to him on a silver platter without Pete having to coax it out of him.

Tin stared at him right back, a hand slapped across his mouth. He looked visibly shaken that he had let his guard down and his vulnerabilities slip.

“So, the project,” Pete interjected, afraid that Tin would start hyperventilating.

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry,” Pete told Tin sincerely.

Tin stopped typing on his laptop long enough to look up at Pete, his eyebrows arched in confusion.

“What are you sorry for?”

Pete looked at the seat next to Tin, silently asking if his presence was welcomed or if Tin would much rather not have him around. Tin pulled out the chair for him and Pete sat down slowly. He played with the hem of his shirt, nervous. He didn’t know what was going on, but he didn’t feel good about the possibility of losing Tin as a friend.

“I don’t know exactly,” he answered Tin’s question, because he truly didn’t know. “I was hoping you could tell me. You’ve been avoiding me, haven’t you?”

At first it was subtle. Tin parked his car in front of the Sports Science building instead of his reserved spot on their college parking lot. It was unusual, but nothing Pete had to worry over. However, it gradually became more obvious. Tin started coming late into class and chose a seat two rows behind Pete instead of sitting next to him like he was used to. Pete couldn’t even turn around to look at him and ask for an explanation without getting chastised by the lecturer. Then, he stopped answering Pete’s texts unless they were related to assignments. Even when he did answer, his replies were noticeably shorter and colder than usual.

“No, I haven’t. You’re reading too much into this.”

Tin looked away as he said those words, which was how Pete knew he wasn’t being candid.

“I thought you said you won’t lie to me,” Pete reminded him of a promise they had made to each other back in elementary school, their chubby pinky fingers linked to solidify a solemn vow.

Tin sighed in defeat and reached into his pants’ front pocket for his phone, scrolling in silent for a good minute before shoving the phone at Pete’s face. The hashtag #TinPete, whatever that meant, was trending across multiple social media platforms.

“What does this mean?” Pete frowned as he read through some of the things people had written about them.

He continued scrolling. There were pictures of him and Tin together, leaving college for the day or having lunch, completely mundane things friends do that people on the internet seemed to be going crazy over. The more posts and accounts he saw, the more confused he got. Did these people think there were something going on between the two of them? Pete was so wrapped up in Ae, just as much as Tin was in Can. It was scary how blind people could be when they wanted to see things a certain way.

“It doesn’t matter,” Tin said as he took his phone back, “Can doesn’t like it.”

Ah, so that’s why.

“He’s jealous?”

Tin pinched the bridge of his nose and looked away, avoiding Pete’s gaze. He was bothered by this whole thing, Pete could tell.

“He didn’t say that exactly, but I asked him out for some rice dumplings and he said he wasn’t hungry.”

Okay, now that was big. The only time Pete has ever heard Can said he didn’t want to eat and saw him neglect food that was put in front of him was when he had the fight with Tin. Tin’s brother had said some hurtful words that set off all of Tin’s insecurities in regards to his relationship with Can and it snowballed into a rather public shouting match between the two of them, followed by a week of radio silence.

Pete didn’t know how they had made up, but one day they just walked into the football field together in the most ridiculous way and that was that. Well, technically speaking, Tin was walking. Can just latched himself into Tin’s back, legs wrapped around his waist.

“I can talk to him, if you want.”

Can was not an unreasonable person and surely he knew that Pete only had Ae in his sights, he’s just forgotten that fact. A little reminder was all he needed, Pete was sure.

“You better worry about your relationship first,” Tin dismissed his offer.

“What? Why?”

“Seems like your boyfriend just discovered Twitter.” Tin points behind him. Pete turns around to see Ae stalking towards the two of them with a perfected scowl on his handsome face. His hand was gripping his phone so hard Pete was afraid he might break the screen.

Pete sighed internally, knowing he was about to be subject to another one of Ae’s jealous rant. He put his most angelic smile on display as Ae approached in hopes that it would make Ae go easy on him.

Chapter Text

Pete was patiently waiting for the football match to begin when he caught a familiar figure from the corner of his eyes. He had to blink once, then twice, before concluding that he wasn’t dreaming this vision.

“Have my eyes deceived me?” Pete spoke in English as he saw the crowd parting hastily to make way for Tin, who walked towards him in a manner that screamed authority.

Tin sat down next to him and stretched his long legs on the bleachers. “Why are you speaking like that?”

“You’re here.”

Tin said his greetings to Pond and Cha-Aim before replying to Pete.

“Yes. Good observation.”

“In this heat,” Pete pointed out.

Tin nodded in agreement. He quickly undid the buttons on his cuffs and pushed his sleeves all the way up to his elbows, as if he only felt the hot wave of air after Pete brought it up. It felt weird, seeing Tin like this. Not anymore was he proper, or restrained, or tight, or any other adjectives Pete would have used to describe him six months ago.

But now he looked free. Like he was finally allowed to be his age and not twenty years older with a lifetime of emotional trauma weighing him down.

“Another good observation. I brought an electric fan, though,” Tin pulled out a blue miniature fan out of nowhere, “I came prepared.”

As if on cue, Can made an appearance at the edge of the field. He gave Tin an enthusiastic wave that seemed to involved movements from his whole body and not just his arm. Tin laughed, surprising Pete and Pond; the latter looked downright scared of the strange sound coming out of Tin. Cha-Aim was the only one who didn’t visibly react to it. She, on the other hand, was busy pinching Pond’s forearm to get him to stop gawking at Tin.

Tin waved back at Can, a fond smile gracing his face. Can returned the smile and started to jog backward, tripping over his shoes in the first two seconds of doing so.

Pete more felt than saw Tin stood up abruptly, his protective instincts over Can was probably on autopilot. Can recovered almost immediately though, shooting Tin a thumbs-up. Tin sat back down reluctantly. Pete had a feeling that he wanted to make his way down to the field and tie Can’s shoelaces for him properly.

Whipped.

“I’m surprised you don’t have a banner with you.”

“Shut up,” Tin replied through gritted teeth, “that’s more your thing than mine.”

Pete opened his mouth to argue with him, but found himself unable to do so since he was holding up a banner with that said ‘I’m with number 11’ which was Ae’s number on his jersey.

Chapter Text

“Ae, not here…” Pete panted as Ae’s fingers found their way underneath his shirt. It was difficult to focus on anything else but the feel of Ae’s touches and the smell of grass sticking to his skin, but Pete still managed to see a couple stumbling their way into the secluded spot he and Ae were in. “Ai Tin,” he gasped.

Ae pulled away, looking slightly hurt. “What? What did I say about mentioning other guys’ names—“ Pete cut him off by turning Ae’s body to the direction where Tin and Can were standing.

Pete hoped that a hole would open up on the ground and just swallow him whole. He tried to hide behind Ae, his boyfriend already straightening his posture in a chivalrous attempt to cover Pete’s body from prying eyes. Not that there was anything to look at, Pete literally only had one button undone and his tie was very much intact, unlike his dignity. Nevertheless, there was a warm feeling in his stomach at Ae’s display of possessiveness that he welcomed with open arms.

“Hello.” Tin smiled sweetly at the two of them, his eyes fixated mainly at Ae.

A blush crept its way up from Ae’s neck to his cheeks. Pete could see that his ears were starting to turn red, too. He was two seconds away from yelling his head off at Tin. They were friends now, yes, friends, and not merely acquaintances or even people who tolerate each other’s presence for the sake of their respective boyfriends. A week into his relationship with Can, Tin had apologised to Ae for all that he’s done and explained that he was merely protective over Pete like a big brother, though it didn’t justify his actions. Ae being Ae, told him he’d get over it and offered to buy Tin his lunch.

The silence that happened between Ae’s offer and Tin’s acceptance was the most intense three seconds of Pete’s life. He had thought that Tin would get offended and they would have to start all over again, but that never happened. Tin simply told Ae he’d allow it if Ae would let him buy the next meal.

This, however, might crumble their entire progress if Tin didn’t go away soon.

Can pushed his boyfriend by the shoulders before Ae could speak. “Sorry, Ai Ae, Ai Pete. We’re going.”

“The show was just starting!” Tin protested loudly even as he let Can drag him away.

*

Pete never thought Tin would ever bring the matter up, seeing how uncomfortable it was for him to have his childhood friend walked in on him making out with his boyfriend, but clearly Tin had different ideas. There they were, having celebratory dinner with the seniors because Ae and Can’s team had won the game by a two-goals margin when Tin decided to disrupt Pete’s strive for inner peace.

“Is it just me or instead of getting tired, they seem to have more stamina after a match?”

Pete’s spoon slipped from his hand and clattered on his plate noisily. “I refuse to engage in this conversation with you.”

Tin chuckled.

“Come on, I didn’t know it was your go-to place for post-game sex.” He shrugged lightly. “It’s not my fault that great minds think alike.”

Pete liked that he referred to Ae as his equal and even complimented him in his own unique way, but it remained the fact that Tin was having a field day with this unfortunate coincidence. Pete regretted all the times he had teased Tin mercilessly about Can as it seemed to fuel Tin’s revenge.

“I hate you,” Pete deadpanned.

Tin gave him a crooked smile before lifting his index finger to point at him. “The hickey on your collar is showing.”

Ai Tin!