The sun rays outshone anyone who dared look at the bright blue sky above them. It had been a while since days were this clear and that could be confirmed by the amount of people on the streets despite the early hour. Thailand sure looked a lot more like itself during good weather.
The clear sound of the chirping birds was the perfect background noise for the busy streets on a Saturday morning, announcing that spring had indeed arrived. Zen, however, had no time to take in the beauty of it all, becoming more stressed at the sight of the busy streets. He was late for his job and he now understood why his boss seemed so impatient of his arrival, the busy streets meant a long queue of costumers waiting to be served. Oh, how right he was when he wished to be wrong.
As soon as he got close to his work place his worries were proven to be real. The long line of costumers made its way to the middle of the street and, judging from their faces, everyone was either eager or impatient to get in. He excused his way into the establishment, bumping into some people along the way. As soon as he neared the counter, he saw the look of relief on his boss’ face due to his arrival. He quickly exchanged clothes and got to work.
He might have been late, yes, there might have been many people on the streets, yes, but the length of the line of costumers was too big so something at the establishment wasn’t working accordingly. Zen noticed what it was once he got next to his boss behind the counter. There were only the two of them now so his boss had been taking care of such a queue all on her own. Feeling bad for sleeping in and getting late to work in such a time of need, he quickly got himself moving, forming a team with his boss, she received the orders and he fulfilled them. Time flew by and soon it was lunch time, meaning the coffee shop would have a lesser number of people getting in and out for the next hour or so. He heaved a sigh of relief after an exhausting morning, trading tired glances with his boss.
“I’m so sorry for being late P’Nee.” He said as he got closer to her, trying to convey his apology. She took a sip of her double expresso before a soft smile formed on her lips.
“I’m just glad you were here to help me. If I wasn’t short on employees, I would fire Pam right away. You were late but she didn’t show up for the third time in a month.” Asnee ranted, pinching the bridge of her nose with her right hand, a habit that was very typical of her when she was trying to calm down. “However, I hope this won’t happen again unless you have a good excuse Nong Zen.”
Zen nodded, smiling at his boss. Even though she was still young, Asnee had created the coffee shop as one would create a child, giving it her all. The work she had put into it had flourished and they had a good business, including a nice number of regular customers. It had only been a few months since Zen started working at the shop but he felt like he had been there since the beginning. P'Asnee was a senior he really respected and who was a dear friend too even despite the roles of boss and employee. She listened to him, his suggestions and his problems and she herself also confided in him; she did her best to understand everyone and she didn’t get mad at someone without knowing their reasons first.
“What are you laughing at?” Asnee asked Zen in an annoyed tone of voice, making him chuckle more than before. What his boss hadn’t noticed is that she had been cursing his co-worker, P'Pam, under her breath for the last few minutes. He just shrugged and watched as Asnee's eyebrow shot up and her look of annoyance intensified. Zen contained himself since it would be rude to burst out laughing and he did not want to grab the attention of the two costumers who were currently in the room.
“Nothing P'Nee.” He told the girl, trying hard not to grin. “I remembered something funny.”
“Hmm.” She hummed, sounding pretty much convinced. Zen turned on his heels so she couldn’t catch a glimpse of the smile that was plastered on his face, a smile originating from the annoyance he had instigated on her.
After an exhaustive day at work it was finally closing time. They cleaned all the machines, counters, tables, chairs, dishes, everything there was to clean. The place had to be left spotless.
“Oh N'Zen, we haven’t spoken much lately about our personal matters.” Asnee started, while replacing items for the following day. “How’s that boy?” She hummed for a small while, thinking of the name. “is his name Zon?”
A loud sound was heard as the mop Zen had been holding collided against the floor. His wide eyes showed how surprised and flustered he was by the sudden question. A soft pink colour contoured his face as he picked up the mop he had dropped from the floor, Asnee’s snickering the only sound in the room.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you", she managed to say in between low chuckles.
“He’s- “ Zen started but cut himself off to cough in an attempt to gain back his composer. It wasn’t after all, a topic that had never been discussed between them both, Asnee having total knowledge of his feelings for the other boy. “He’s okay. He's happy.” He ended up saying, returning to mopping the floor.
“Why the sad puppy face?”
“P’Nee!” Zen exclaimed, the blush on his cheeks turning one shade darker. His boss' grin told him to keep talking and to explain the situation to her. He embarrassedly scratched his neck and cleared his voice before telling her the current situation. “He likes someone else.” He sighed “Zon has recently gotten himself a boyfriend.”
Asnee’s grin turned into a frown as she listened to her junior's words. “And that boyfriend is not you?” she rhetorically questioned, disappointment in her voice and a pout in her face. “But our Zen is such a wonderful guy!”.
Zen's lips curved into a smile at his boss' words and he quickly embraced her. The hug didn’t last long but it did bring a smile to Asnee’s lips as well. “I’m pretty sure you’re the only one who thinks that way.”
A pout made its way to the girl’s face once again and she amicably punched Zen’s arm. “If you don’t start valuing yourself, I’m going to fire you.”
An evil smirk made its way to Zen's face, a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. “We both know you won’t do that.” He determined, “You won’t easily find someone who will be willing to listen to your endless rants like I do.” He finished, the teasing tone in his voice vanishing the smile off of Asnee’s face. The later grabbed a cup and filled it with water before starting to run after Zen in the small establishment. The younger ran, trying to escape the wrath of his boss, all the while both laughing like maniacs. Despite everything, Zen was happy to be able to have moments like this.
The sound of yelling young adults could be heard meters away from the football field from how loud it was. The football team generated so much yelling and laughing at the same time that there was never a doubt of when there was practice taking place. The look on everyone’s faces was of both tiredness and happiness at the end of each practice which meant that they for sure had a good time.
The fulfilment that Champ felt every time a practice was finished was enough for a happy smile to on his face at all times, enough to keep going even when they didn’t obtain the best results. Their score at the championship was not the best but the fun they experienced made it all worth it.
The football team members were Champ’s family and friends and he didn’t think he needed any more than that. He was happy and although he was often teased for his words, he truly loved what he had.
“Ayo Champ!” Dew called him from the field, bringing him back to reality and away from his thoughts. “We’re all waiting for you.” The other added, gesturing with his arms to the team who was already positioned for the training match.
Champ made his way to the field as slowly as possible noticing the annoyance in his friend’s face and the tension in the junior’s faces. He got to his position in the middle of the field and let the ball hit the floor.
“THE WAR STARTS IN THREE” He practically yelled, letting all players know they should ready themselves. “TWO” His eyes dart across the field, planning his route after passing the ball to his teammate. “ONE.” At his last word he kicked the ball and passed it to Japan, who was on his right, and darted all the way to the other side of the field.
Their game was full of laughter and attempts at cheating, mostly from Junior who, at any given chance, tried to distract the others to get the ball. The game eventually came to an end, the final score unknown to them due to being too distracted to keep count.
The sweaty smiling boys were either sat or laid down on the field, chatting with each other happily after the tiring practice. Champ smiled as Japan made his way to him with his boyfriend tagging along. The two lovers sat down in front of him with smiles adorning their faces and returned their attention to their previous conversation, something about Tanthai’s group of friends. Champ didn’t want to meddle with their business so he didn’t let them know he was listening to what they were saying, certainly they were aware of it.
“It’s actually funny P’. It’s as if we all caught feelings for someone at around the same time and we all decided to pursue those feelings.” Tanthai said, a huge smile plastered on his face as he spoke to Japan about his group of friends and their relationships. “Well, everyone but Zen.” He added, his smile turning into a soft frown.
Japan squeezed his boyfriend’s hand, showing him a smile. “Not everyone has to date Tai, I wouldn’t have been dating either if it wasn’t for you”.
Champ rolled his eyes at his best friend’s attempt at flirting which did seem to work on Tanthai who blushed and nuzzled against the older and Champ had to highly contain himself not to facepalm.
“Who’s Zen?” He asked and only after seeing Japan’s questioning look did he realize that he was voicing out his thoughts. He had meant to not meddle into their conversation but the harm was already done so he decided to play it cool. “I don’t think I know him.”
“He’s one of Tai’s best friends.” Japan told him, not taking his eyes away from the youngest who had a smile growing on his face at the mention of his friend.
“Zen’s my best friend.” He stated, smiling widely at Champ. “I’m pretty sure P’ must have seen him around but I don’t think you two have officially met. He’s the tallest of our group and is for sure the smartest.”
Champ hummed at the younger’s explanation, searching his mind for any visual match of the description that had been made, search that ended up with no results.
“He’s a sweet kid.” Japan ended up saying, “I’ve spoken to him a few times due to Tai.”
“He’s the best.” Tai added, the adoration for his friend obvious in his tone. “He’s calmer than I am and he’s not usually one for confusion but he is so much fun to be around! He keeps to himself most of the time and is not a very social person but he is a great guy.” Tanthai ranted, talking about his best friend was not something that he often did but Zen was a really good person in his eyes and he wanted to share that now that his name had come up.
Champ smiled softly at the excited boy, exchanging a glance with Japan. “You must really like him.” he commented.
“So much that he forcefully wants him to find a lover.” Japan replied, a teasing grin on his lips as he watched his boyfriend pout at his words.
“I know he likes someone but I don’t know who it is, we don’t really talk about that stuff.” the youngest sighed and laid down on the artificial grass that covered the field.
He didn’t know why he payed so much attention to their current conversation or why he kept all of it in his memory as they spoke. He usually didn’t get curious about anyone else’s lives and did not even know the person they were talking about so why was he so attentive?
“Then if he likes someone already why are you still concerned about his love life?” Japan questioned, voicing out a question Champ didn’t know he add until the other had spoken.
Tanthai sat up once again, keeping his eyes down and fidgeting with his hands. “I have a feeling that he wasn’t as lucky as I was.” he replied, looking at his boyfriend, a slight frown adorning his face. “I think he likes someone but that someone doesn’t like him back.”
Without even acknowledging it himself, Champ got up from the floor and told the team to go shower whenever they felt like it. He made his way into the locker room, grabbing his towel and quickly getting into the shower.
The hot water running against his back gave his thoughts company as he kept repeating the conversation in his mind, all the while wondering why the heck was he so curious about a stranger.