Win arrived at his dorm, expecting Team to be there already. They had long ago exchanged keys to each other’s dorms and Team wasn’t in his own room, and wasn’t answering his phone. Win assumed the junior was just asleep in his bed, waiting for him to come back. When he opened the door, though, Team wasn’t in the room. Win frowned and set his schoolbag down. He glanced around, looked at his phone, then sighed. Eventually, Win’s eyes fell on the desk, where the keys to the pool normally sat. He knew where Team was.
~ ~ ~
The pool room was still dark. The emergency safety lights were the only ones on; it was just enough to see by, nothing more. The only sounds to be heard were Win’s nearly-silent steps, and the gentle ripple of water. Team wasn’t practicing, he wasn’t swimming laps, he wasn’t racing. He was floating on his back, slowly drawing his arms over his head and pulling himself along in a slow motion backstroke. There was a peace to the scene Win found and he smiled.
Walking over to one of the diving boards, he stepped out of his shoes, and climbed onto it. Win let his bare feet dangle over the edge, just touching the surface of the water. After watching a moment, he decided not to disturb Team. Sometimes this happened, sometimes Team needed a moment away from everyone and everything. So Win watched and waited, waited until Team was ready to come out of the water.
Another twenty or thirty minutes passed, with Team alternating between slowly swimming and just floating, staring up at the ceiling. While turning to wade in the water, Team caught sight of Win sitting on the diving board. He looked down shyly, then started swimming towards his senior. Seeing he’d been spotted, Win took off his shirt and tossed it aside by his shoes. Then he dove into the water, smooth and easy. Win swam towards Team, meeting him halfway there.
He swam in a circle around Team, closed in on him and set hands on Team’s waist, drawing him closer. Both of them kicked their legs to stay afloat. A little smile turned the corners of Team’s mouth upwards, while his eyes glanced away shyly. He draped his arms over Win’s shoulders and let himself be pulled in closer. Win bumped his nose against Team’s and smiled broadly at him.
“You okay?” Win asked after a moment, sliding his hands around to Team’s back.
“Mmm,” he nodded, still on the shy side. “Sorry, hia.”
Win furrowed his brows and hugged Team, “Why are you sorry?”
“For making you come out here,” he shrugged a little, but didn’t pull away from Win’s embrace, just carried on treading water.
Win chuckled and shook his head. He kissed Team’s forehead, then started swimming backwards, taking Team with him. Moving them towards the edge of the pool, he said, “It’s alright. I decided to come find you, you didn’t make me.”
Team nodded, not seeming to know what to say. They reached the edge and Team climbed out, sitting with his feet still in the water. Win moved between his legs, resting his forearms on Team’s thighs.
“Did coming here help?” Win asked, looking up at Team.
Team hummed and nodded again, apparently not feeling very talkative. He reached out and gently brushed a droplet of water from Win’s brow before it fell into his eye. “We can go back.”
Win seized Team’s hand and placed a soft kiss to the younger man’s palm, then his wrist. When he looked up to Team’s face, Win saw him smiling. “Are you all done?”
“Yeah,” Team’s voice was just above a whisper, but it was too dim in the room for Win to see that he was blushing. “Let’s go home, hia.”
They agreed. Once Team stood, Win hauled himself up and out of the water. Team picked up a towel he had left out earlier, and the pair walked to the locker room. When Win reached out to hold his hand, lacing their fingers together, Team didn’t pull away. The locker room was just as dark as the pool, two overhead lights that never turned off illuminated the space just enough to see where they were going.
In soft shadows, they dried themselves off. Win put on a spare pair of shorts from his locker, then put his shirt back on, only bothering to fasten two or three of the buttons, leaving it mostly open. He leaned back against the wall of lockers and watched Team dress. He wasn’t watching in a lecherous way, just casually admiring his boyfriend. Nonetheless, when Team turned around and caught Win staring, a damp towel was thrown at his head.
Win laughed as he caught the towel, “Nothing I haven’t seen before.”
“Hia!” Team chastised, pulling a face at Win.
Still laughing, Win sauntered over and draped an arm around Team’s shoulders. “I’ve seen you changing in the locker room many times. Actually, everyone on the swim team has, maybe I should be jealous.”
Team elbowed Win in the gut. Even as he grunted and held his stomach, the smile still wouldn’t leave Win’s face.
“What, I can’t be jealous?” Win wiggled his eyebrows at Team.
The younger swimmer looked left, then right, and back again, refusing to make eye contact with Win. He half turned and started to walk away. “What is there to be jealous of?” Stopping after two paces, Team glanced back over his shoulder. “Hia Win is the only one I want...” Team let the words linger in the air between them before he started walking again.
Jaw dropping, Win hurried to catch up with Team, sliding an arm around his waist to keep him close. He whispered right into the younger man’s ear, “And you are the only one I want.” Win was pleased with the way his words made Team duck his head and smile shyly. This time, he was close enough to see the blush play across those sweet, round cheeks. Unable to resist, Win stole a quick kiss, pressing his lips to Team’s blushing cheek, and was rewarded with seeing that blush spread.
The two of them made their way out of the pool area and Win locked the doors up again with the keys Team had borrowed. They headed back to their dorm, splitting up at Team’s floor so they could both shower at the same time, though not together. Once in his pajamas, Team went upstairs to Win’s room, letting himself in. Win met Team halfway between the bed and the door, wearing only a pair of comfortable pants, slung low on his hips. His hair was still slightly damp, hanging loose around his face.
Team looked him up and down, then stepped forward and took one of Win’s hands in both of his own. “Thank you, hia,” he said softly.
Win tipped his head, confused. A small smile touched his lips, “What for?
“Coming to find me tonight.” Team rubbed his thumb over the back of Win’s hand.
Win’s face softened at that answer. He tugged Team towards the bed. “Let’s lie down.” Team nodded in agreement and they both climbed into the bed and under the covers. Win laid on his back and Team curled in against his side, head resting on Win’s chest. The senior wrapped an arm around his junior, letting his hand settle in Team’s hair, massaging gently. They were quiet for a while, just letting their bodies settle and unwind. Tension slowly drained from Team’s body as he relaxed against Win, closing his eyes, and letting himself enjoy the hand in his hair and the steady beat of Win’s heart.
“I like ... spending time alone, but I don’t like being alone.” Team finally said, in a whispered confession.
“I know,” Win turned his head to kiss Team’s hair. He thought for a while before adding, “I wanted to be there, but didn’t want to disturb you.”
Team took a slow, deep breath, then hugged tighter to Win. He nuzzled into Win’s neck, as if he could hide from the whole world and be just safe in Win’s arms. In a way, he could. In this room, in this bed, in those arms, Team could hide from everything except himself and his mind and his memories. But that hand in his hair, that solid body beneath him, and that caring embrace from the one man who might be able to save him from himself... Those things made all the difference in Team’s world.
With his heart beating hard in his chest, Team tipped his head and kissed Win’s shoulder. “I love you, hia.”
Win rolled onto his side, moving Team along with him. They laid there, heads resting on the same pillow, eyes meeting. The space between them was small and Win looked at Team, his eyes serious and certain. He cupped his love’s cheek and ran his thumb along the place just below Team’s eye. There were no tears there, not tonight, but there had been before and there likely would be in the future. Team was the kind of man who acted light and carefree, but fought a battle inside every day. Win could be strong for him when Team couldn’t be strong himself.
“I love you,” Win said in a soft yet sure tone. “When you need me... I will be there.”
Upon hearing those words, Team smiled and gave the smallest of nods. Then Win closed the small distance between them and pressed a sweet, soft kiss to Team’s lips. It lingered and was followed by several more quick kisses, before Team curled back into Win’s arms. He hid his face, smiling and blushing, against Win’s chest. Whatever tension or fears or worries still haunted Team, dancing around the edges of his thoughts, receded for the night and he was able to release a small, happy laugh that Win found absolutely precious.
Win held Team in his arms, combing fingers through his hair and gently rubbing his back until the younger man fell soundly asleep. As Win drifted off to sleep as well, all he could think was that he really would do anything he could for this man. He would protect him, help ease his sorrows, be there for him, through the nightmares and bad memories. Win would tutor him and hold him and celebrate his victories. Above all else, Win would love him. Win would love Team for the rest of their lives.