This is how the last two hours of Team’s post-operation time in the recovery room have gone:
• He woke up groggy and nauseated from the anesthesia.
• So he napped for a bit.
• Then he woke up again, and the nausea had gone away, but he still felt groggy.
• So he napped some more.
• Then he woke up and felt mostly okay, so he answered some questions posed by the nurses keeping him under observation.
• Then he napped some more because he was bored.
• Then he woke up again.
Now they’re wheeling him out of the recovery room, and he enjoys the change in scenery as it takes place. The recovery room wasn’t private, and neither is the big room where he’ll spend the night, but he’s lucky enough to be next to the window, and his bed neighbor is a kind-looking older lady. She smiles at Team as he’s settled next to her and offers him a little wave with her fingertips.
“How do you feel?” she asks.
Team manages to press his hands together over his chest without disturbing any of the tubes fed into his body, smiles back, and says, “I’m okay, thank you.”
“You look like you’re still a little out of it,” she says. “Don’t worry, though. You’ll sleep it off. Our roommate who snores was discharged while you were in surgery.”
Team doesn’t remember what she’s talking about, so he says, “Oh, good,” and rubs his sleep-itchy eye with the edge of the hand that doesn’t have anything attached to it. The nurse tells him that his mother is waiting outside, and that she’ll be in shortly.
“I hope your handsome friend comes back too,” the older lady says.
Team has no idea what she’s talking about, but it would be rude to say so, so he just smiles some more.
When his mother arrives, she stands beside his bed with her hands resting on the railing, a soft fondness in her eyes that settles some of his lingering anxiety about the excess of smells and noises around him.
“How’re you feeling?” she asks.
“I’m okay,” he says. “I’m really tired, though. I kind of want to go back to sleep.”
She places her hand over his and squeezes gently. “Your friends are outside. Do you want to see them for a little bit before? I think they have to leave soon, and they all seemed very worried about you.“
Team doesn’t know which friends she means, but seeing friends sounds nice, so he says, “Okay.”
His friends are pretty. Especially the blond.
There’s a beautiful girl, a cute boy, and the blond, who’s…more gorgeous than pretty, really.
Team listens to the beautiful girl talk for a while about things he doesn’t understand, glancing at the blond guy whenever he thinks he can get away with it. Except the blond guy is only looking at Team, and his grin keeps widening every time their eyes meet until he looks a little…fanatical.
“Team,” the cute boy says, “I don’t think you can handle solid food right now, so I brought you pudding to have later. I asked your doctor if you could eat it and he said you were a little sick earlier so—“
He talks a little more, but Team’s attention wanders back to the blond guy.
Team is so captivated by the blond guy, in fact, that he forgets to pretend to focus on anyone else, and after a while, the area around his bed becomes very quiet. His mother in particular seems confused by where his attention has settled.
“Uh, Team?” The beautiful girl pokes Team’s foot through the blanket, her eyebrows knitted. “Are you still loopy?” she asks.
Team forces his gaze to meet hers. “I’m okay,” he says.
Her frown intensifies. “How come you’re not saying anything?” she asks. “It’s weird seeing you be this quiet.“
“I dunno,” Team says. Then, because he’s curious, he asks the gorgeous blond, “We’re friends?”
He can’t remember having a friend that gorgeous.
His friends and mother give a collective, confusion-tinged laugh.
The blond guy’s eyebrows lift. “Are you messing with me?” he asks.
Even his voice is nice.
The blond laughs, then tilts his head. “Uh, thank you?”
Team says, “You’re welcome,” and wonders if he’s saying that out loud.
“You are,” the blond says, still with a curious frown. He glances at Team’s mother, so Team does too.
She glances from Team to the blond guy, her mouth parted to speak.
“Team,” the cute boy says, frowning, “are you really messing with him?”
“No,” Team says. “Why?”
“Do you know who he is?” the beautiful girl asks.
Team shakes his head. “I don’t know any of you,” he says.
The blond guy doesn’t look so amused anymore, but he’s still very pretty even when he isn’t grinning like a hyena.
The nurse is called back, and Team yawns while they all talk about his memory. He’s not incredibly interested. He feels like he’s got sunshine in his head, and it feels nice and glowy and floaty.
It’s determined, after some more questions and answers, that Team’s still loopy, and that apparently he and his mother had been told before the surgery that this could happen. He’s told some more things, and while whoever it is says the things, Team just enjoys watching the blond guy.
His mother leaves with the nurse, and Team watches her go with mild concern.
“She’ll be back,” the cute boy says.
“Okay,” Team says. He worries at his thumbnail with the pad of his other thumb.
The blond guy walks around to the side of the bed and leans his forearms on the railing. “So,” he says, and Team is immediately drawn back to him because wow, the guy is even more attractive when he turns on whatever switch he just flipped.
Team doesn’t say that part out loud. Probably because it would’ve taken too much focus, and a hundred percent of Team’s focus right now is on the guy’s very nice mouth.
“You don’t remember your boyfriend?” the blond guy asks.
Team says, “I have a boyfriend?” with keen interest. He points to himself with incredulity to make sure they understand him. It’s very cool that they know he’s into guys and don’t seem to mind.
The cute guy says, “P’Win…” with a nervous nod directed at the curtain drawn around Team’s bed.
“It’s fine, she’s talking to the nurse,” the blond guy says. His gaze stays locked onto Team’s. “Wanna know who your boyfriend is?” he asks.
Team nods eagerly.
The beautiful girl squeaks behind one clawed hand she’s holding over her mouth. Team blinks at her and wonders why she’s got her phone up like she’s recording him. Why would she want to record him? That seems like an unusual thing to do.
The blond guy glances at her as well, smirks, then picks up the top sheet on Team’s bed. In a flash, the beautiful girl gasps and the blond guy, hidden by the sheet, leans in and kisses Team on the forehead. With complete nonchalance, he drops the sheet and withdraws to lean on the railing again.
The beautiful girl screech-hisses, “P’Win!” with clear delight.
Team sweeps the expressions of all three people, amazed by what’s just happened. Then he points to the blond guy. “You?”
The blond guy’s grin returns with a smug edge. “Yep. All yours,” he says. Then he winks.
Team says, “Whoa,” and grins. “Nice.”
The beautiful girl makes a noise like she’s been stabbed, so Team gives her a look of mild annoyance and concern. “Does she know we’re dating?” he asks the blond guy. “She’s loud.”
The cute guy answers him. “Yes, we both knew. Manaow, shh, we’re in a hospital.“
“But it’s so cute, Pharm! He’s so cute like this! Does he have to go back to normal?”
The blond guy hasn’t looked away from Team at all. He’s so pretty. Team smiles up at him.
“You’re really my boyfriend?” he asks.
The blond guy laughs. “Yeah, I really am. One year, three weeks—” He glances up at the ceiling, nods, then adds, “—and two days.“
That’s a long time. They’ve definitely made out.
“Oh yeah,” the blond guy says. “Every day. At least twice.”
Team smiles wider. “Wow. And we’re really dating? For real? You’re my boyfriend?“
The blond guy’s grin has turned unmistakably fond. “Yeah. Your mom doesn’t know yet though, so—” He puts a finger to his lips.
Team says, “Oh,” and mimics the gesture. “I won’t tell,” he adds in a whisper.
“Good boy,” the blond guy says, and delves his fingers gently through Team’s fringe.
Manaow grabs onto Pharm’s arm and howls, “Why did I stop recording?”
Over two years pass before Team sees the video for the first time.
Win’s just returned from his completing his master’s program in London, and his friends have collaborated on throwing him a party to welcome him back to Bangkok. They’re about an hour into the festivities at a fancy restaurant closed to the public for the night, and Team is pleasantly tipsy under the comforting warmth of Win’s arm across his shoulders.
Then the continuous slideshow projected on the wall transitions to video footage Team doesn’t recognize. The slideshow has been going nonstop for the last hour, showing various photos of Win and his friends from high school, university, grad school, etc., interspersed every fifteen minutes with a video sent in by one of the party-goers.
Team sees himself in the footage, younger, smile foggy, lying supine in a hospital bed, and says, “Wait, what’s this?”
When Win tries to pretend he didn’t hear him, Team grabs Win’s wrist and yanks on his arm. “Hia!”
Across the table, Pharm snorts with vivid amusement and shares a conspiratorial smirk with Dean.
Pharm knows? Dean knows!?
At a table nearby, Manaow shouts, “THIS ONE’S MINE!” with fervent pride. Pruk gives her a tiny round of applause she does not deserve for this calamity committed on Team’s ego.
Win, meanwhile, cinches his arm around Team’s neck and smiles at him, clearly enjoying his outrage.
“You were really cute that day!” Win says, his volume more than sufficient to be heard over the music. “You couldn’t believe you had such a sexy boyfriend.”
Team watches in horror as his younger self says with confidence, “We’ve definitely made out, huh?“
The room around him erupts with laughter.
Team covers his face with his hands and tries to sink underneath the table, but Win—the worst person he knows—physically won’t let him.
“I hate you,” Team says through his hands, “I hate Manaow, I hate you, I hate Pharm—”
“I didn’t do anything!”
Team points at Pharm with indignant fury. “Exactly! You should have made her delete it!”
“I did!” Pharm laughs. “She had it backed up!”
Team drops his head onto his folded arms and attempts to set fire to his own brain through willpower alone.
“Oh, but after the video stopped was even cuter,” Pharm tells Dean and the rest of the table. “P’Win told Team that his mother didn’t know yet, and they had to keep it a secret, so he did this—”
Team looks up in time to see Pharm putting his finger to his grinning lips.
“Then Team did the same thing and said, ‘I won’t tell,’ like the sweetest, most well-behaved child in the entire world.” He punctuates his betrayal with a cloyingly saccharine smile in Team’s direction.
Team says, “I’ll steal all your menus,” because that’s as far as he’s willing to threaten Pharm with Dean in the room.
Win strokes his hair, and Team remembers to glare at him, too.
Win is, infuriatingly, typically, not even close to intimidated.
He even kisses Team’s nose to add insult to injury.
“I love you,” Win says. “Don’t be mad if I play that at our wedding.”
“Who’s marrying you?” Team grouses.
Win doesn’t answer him, because all he has to do is pick up his beer with the hand his engagement ring is on.
Team fumes for a few seconds, then says, “Excuse me,” and stands up to find out from Pruk exactly how Manaow stores all her data.
In return for letting her keep the video, Manaow gives Team some blackmail footage to use against his fiancé instead.