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“I can’t watch this any longer. I’m starting to get embarrassed for them.” 

 

Pear winced as she watched Earn miss another target and let out one curse word after another. She was unable to fully watch the scene unfolding in front of her due to the sheer embarrassment of it all so she buried her face even more into Tine’s discarded jacket. He wasn’t faring much better with this situation either because he was biting his fingernails nervously only to occasionally stop to mutter a few words of encouragement to Sarawat. Any and all attempts at putting out the fire that was currently raging between the two bandmates were useless. 

 

Of course both knew that the people they were dating were stubborn but it didn’t prepare them for this.

 

It didn’t prepare them to be the center of attention in the middle of the fair as they tried to separate the two friends that would most likely turn into enemies after this night is over. Tonight was supposed to be a fun date for the two couples but it quickly turned into a nightmare when Earn proposed what was supposed to be a harmless dare.

 

At first it was simple: she bet Sarawat that he couldn’t even win Tine a stuffed animal (which he did, albeit it took six tries but at least he still won something) which turned into Sarawat challenging her right back. After she ended up winning Pear a massive stuffed animal on her first try of ring toss Sarawat nearly exploded in frustration. It only got worse when Earn didn’t shut up about that fact as they went on various rides. Finally after a trip on the carousel Sarawat had enough. He claimed that it was just luck and that he would definitely beat her in a round of bean bag toss. He did end up winning that in the first round but that led to Earn dragging him to more games in order to show off her skills.

 

Soon enough the two nearly made two trips around the whole entire fair, playing everything from darts to skeeball to finally Whac-A-Mole. Some of the games one of them snagged a win but it was on the last trip on their stop that they both failed at. Horribly. As the time ticked by and neither showed any signs of leaving (they claimed they would stop when they scored enough points to win something) but unfortunately they were horrendously bad. They refused to budge from their spot and soon enough they gathered a small crowd due to their persistence (and also because they might have made a very small child cry when they wouldn’t let her have a turn). 

 

Honestly, who knew that both of them would take it so seriously? Certainly not Tine and Pear. They only went along with it because they figured it would be a quick pit spot but little did they know it would turn into a two hour affair full of arguing and threats of being escorted from the property due to disruption of the peace.

 

When Pear invited them on a double date to the fair this morning Tine eagerly agreed, much to the annoyance of Sarawat.

 

It’s not like Sarawat didn’t want to spend a night with his boyfriend doing normal couple things but he really wasn’t excited about the fact that Earn was tagging along.

 

Both girls used to be sore spots in their relationship but over in the last two years they grew closer, nearly getting together every week whether at clubs for their bands performance or grabbing a bite out after a particularly intense study session.

 

No, it had nothing to do with Earn. Not really. It was the venue and what that would entail.

 


 

Before they even made it to the fair Earn was already taunting Sarawat. “I’m just saying, if you weren’t scared of losing you would take the bet. Why else won’t you do it unless you just don’t want to admit the fact that The Great and Powerful Sarawat is actually bad at something?”

 

Sarawat clenched his jaw and tightened his hold that was already steel like on the steering wheel. He really liked Earn, in fact she slowly became one of his closest confidants due to long hours forced together and the fact that their partners were seemingly glued to each other’s side, but she definitely knew how to push all his buttons. She reminded him of Phukong—like a younger sibling whose main goal in life was to berate and annoy the older every chance they got.

 

Tine must have sensed his agitation because he laid a hand on his thigh and gave it a squeeze. Don’t take the bait is what that simple action seemed to say. Momentarily taking one of his hands off the steering wheel he covered his own hand over Tine’s that was currently rubbing circles across his thigh with his thumb. If he wasn’t so riled up because of Earn than he would have been more distracted for other reasons but didn’t have the luxury of letting his mind drift to that because it was too occupied on trying to figure out how to shut his bandmate up.

 

Still, his anger didn’t stop him from bringing their now clasped hands away from his thigh to his lips for a quick kiss. It seemed to say I promise I won’t. Without even looking over he suspected that Tine must have gone red from that semi-public form of affection but he knew it was true when Earn started to make gagging noises from the backseat.

 

“Could you not be so lovey dovey in front of us right now? We get it! You both are so in love, there is no need to rub it in our faces.” 

 

Earn should be glad Sarawat was currently driving or else he would have grabbed whatever he had nearest to him and chucked it in the back seat. He did however glance in the rear view mirror to gauge her reaction only for his face to contort into a look of sheer hot anger.

 

“Excuse me? How are we rubbing it in your faces? Earn, you are sitting on Pear’s lap right now. And playing with her hair.” 

 

Tine was very much indeed too occupied staring at his boyfriend that he didn’t notice Earn move. Much to the disappointment of both of them Tine pulled his hand away so that he could turn into his seat to get a better look. “Earn! Do you know how dangerous that is?” 

 

Sarawat stole another glance in his mirror to see Earn tilt her head to the side, a look of contemplation on her face. “Very?” She didn’t sound too sure about that.

 

Nope. That was it. He was going to turn this car back around and head back to campus. There was no way he would survive the night when Earn was in one of her moods. It didn’t help that finals were quickly approaching and his threshold for annoyance was lower than normal. He said the gist of that to them only to immediately receive a series of objections.

 

Most were from Tine who was arguing that they were almost there so it would be a waste of time to go back while Earn was grumbling about how she was just joking. Sarawat mainly gave in because he really couldn’t say no to his boyfriend who was pouting in the seat next to him and also because Pear was very convincing in her promise that the rest of the night would be drama free.

 

Yeah.

 

He really needed to stop being so gone for Tine, willingly to go to hell and back if the other asked, but Sarawat realistically knew that he would never get over his soft spot for a certain law student.

 

Hence how he ended up in a situation like this.

 


 

“Sarawat, c’mon. Stop already. The fair is going to close soon and we haven’t even tried any of the food yet. We haven’t even gone on the Ferris wheel!” Tine pleaded with his boyfriend for the fifth time in the last ten minutes but he was ignored. Pear was doing the same and somehow managed to wrap her arms around Earn’s waist so that she could whisper something in her ear. For a second there it looked like Earn was about to give in but with a quick shake of her head she went back to trying to hit the mole with the mallet.

 

Damn. Maybe Tine should have tried something like that. Sarawat was easily distracted when Tine showed PDA like that but he didn’t really feel all that comfortable doing it when he had multiple eyes on them.

 

Sighing, he shared a look with Pear who was dejectedly making her way to stand next to Tine again. “I tried everything. She won’t stop until she hits at least one of them.”

 

Tine frowned as he glared at the back of Sarawat’s head. “He won’t either. Should we just…” he trailed off hoping that Pear would be thinking the same thing he was.

 

“Leave them here alone and go enjoy the fair before it closes?”

 

Tine blinked in surprised. “I was going to suggest bribe the guy in charge to rig the game but yeah that works too.”

 

It’s not like either of them wanted to leave the two behind but they already received a warning five minutes ago about how the fair would be closing in an hour. If they still wanted to grab some food from the vendors and go on the rides they were excited for all day leading up the date then they needed to go right now.

 

Fine Tine decided. If they want to waste their time doing this they can—he was going to stuff his face and have fun. He would have liked to do these things with Sarawat and he was sure that Pear would rather be with Earn but desperate times calls for desperate measures. Tine stole one last look at Sarawat wishing that the night would have gone differently but made a conscious effort to make the best of what he had.

 


 

“This game is rigged.” Earn groaned as she missed the mole once again.

 

“All games at the fair are rigged. That’s how they make money.” Sarawat paused his current action—rapidly slamming the mallet all over the table figuring he would get lucky at least once—once he realized what he just said. Wait, all games at the fair were rigged which means...shit. It was never about their skill was it? Why did it take them this long to figure it out.

 

Earn seemed to realize this moments later because she too stopped what she was doing to stare at her mallet in horror. “No.” She sounded horrified too. 

 

“Yes.” 

 

Shit. Hey guys, why didn’t you—“ Earn set down the mallet with more force than she needed and turned around to say something to Tine and Pear but froze mid-sentence when she realized that they were no longer in sight. “Where did they go?”

 

“Where did who go?” Sarawat asked as he set his mallet down to turn in his seat figuring he would see Tine standing there but he wasn’t. No, instead it was some stranger who had their phone out recording. 

 

“Um.” Sarawat cleared his throat as he watched the stranger bring their phone closer into his personal space. “What are you doing?”

 

The stranger was wearing a uniform that was similar to Phukong which stopped Sarawat from outright shoving the kid away. “Documenting how bad you are at this. I’ve seen kids in preschool do better than both of you.” 

 

“Hey!” Earn injected as she began to notice the small crowd around them. “This game is rigged.”

 

The high school kid snorted. “You just now figure that out? Still, you both suck. It’s no wonder your boyfriend and her girlfriend went off together.”

 

Both Earn and Sarawat went still in shock. “Run off?” Earn whispered more to herself. 

 

He nodded before stopping the recording and putting it in his pocket, satisfied with the video that he captured. “Yeah. They left like twenty minutes ago.”

 

Sarawat was pissed. Not at Tine. He didn’t blame him for ditching them after the stunt he pulled. He was pissed at his own stupidity. He couldn’t direct that anger at himself right now so he unfortunately took it out on the kid. “Where did they go?” Sarawat snapped, forgoing all niceties.

 

The boy was obviously not a fan of this and narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Give me one reason why I should tell you. You ignored them for this stupid game. They are better off without you.” 

 

Deep breathing Sarawat. Don’t do anything you would regret. 

 

Well he did have a point. All the anger washed out of him only to be replaced with guilt. Sarawat knew how excited Tine was for tonight. He spent the better half of lunch earlier telling Sarawat about all the things they should do together. About how Tine was glad that despite the two years of dating they still found a way to have experienced new things for the first time together—both had gone to the fair countless times when they were younger but never on a date and Sarawat had to go ruin it.

 

He didn’t even blame Earn that much for this especially when he looked over to see the same look mirrored on her face. Neither had a good answer to the students' answers so they just stood there in silence. He must have taken pity on them because after a few moments he clapped his hand on Sarawat’s back and sighed. “They went toward the booths that sell cotton candy. They were talking about the Ferris wheel earlier so I’m assuming that’s where they are now. It’s the first thing to close at the fair so they probably didn’t want to miss their chance.”

 

The Ferris wheel. Now that they had a destination they needed to get there before it was too late. They bid a quick thanks and were just about to take off in that direction when they were stopped by him again. 

 

“Uh, not so fast. I should get paid for my help. Without me you wouldn’t even know where to start.” Here Sarawat thought the kid did it out of the kindness of his heart but turns out he had a devious streak. He let out another sigh and dug through his pockets but couldn’t find anything other than a loose candy wrapper. He didn’t even have his phone or wallet—both of which still must be with Tine after Sarawat handed them over so it wouldn’t get ruined doing the plastic duck bobbing contest. 

 

He sent a helpless look to Earn who glared at the kid before pulling out a few papers from her jacket pocket. She leaned around Sarawat to put it in the kid's hand before pointing in a threatening manner. “Blur my face when you post that,” He looked like he would just object so Earn backtracked, “but you don’t have to blur his. His name is Sarawat Gun—“

 

She didn’t finish her sentence because Sarawat grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her toward where he remembered the Ferris wheel was set up.

 

He would deal with that mess later.

 


 

Luck was on their side after all. Tine and Pear were just about to sit down when they made it there. They were out of breath and exhausted but they made it.

 

Tine had his head leaned down to match Pear’s height so that he could hear her over the hustle and bustle of the fair which meant they didn’t immediately see Sarawat or Earn.

 

The line was pretty long but a quick glance to Sarawat’s watch told him that this was the last batch before it closed down for the night. Knowing that they were already way past the level of being embarrassed they skipped the line to make their way in front of their respective partners. The conductor was yelling at them that they couldn’t do it but once again Earn whipped out money to pay for tickets and handed it to him. “Keep the change.” She mumbled an apology to the guy before turning back around to grab Pear’s hand and tug her in a seat. Both Tine and Pear were silent during all of this, either way too shocked or upset to speak. Still Sarawat copied Earn’s movements so that he was sitting down next to Time. 

 

Tine was chewing on his bottom lip and was trying his best to look anywhere but Sarawat. He was just now noticing the stuffed animal that Tine’s was fiddling with in his lap. Was that really a water buffalo or was Sarawat just imagining things? He took a quick peek at Earn to see if she was having any better luck but noticed that Pear was doing the same, except she was clutching a stuffed bunny to her chest. She didn’t necessarily look mad but she definitely didn’t look happy either. They were both screwed. Somehow they seemed to both decide that they wouldn’t start apologizing (begging) until the ride started. 

 

After everyone else got on the bars came to secure them before the machine finally jolted to life. Sarawat studied Tine both because he was unsure how upset he was and because he was allowed to stare at him since they were dating. He didn’t have to hold back his feelings or affections anymore and nearly everyday he was shocked to his core over this fact. He reached a cautious hand out and laid it on his thigh to give it a firm squeeze similar to what Tine did just a few hours earlier.

 

Tine didn’t make much of a reaction besides a deep exhale of breath. Sarawat had two options. He could go straight out with the begging or slowly work into it.

 

As much as he craved Tine’s forgiveness he knew that it was important to actually discuss this because yes, this argument slash maybe not argument was all based on a stupid dare but still Sarawat didn’t like the fact that he could of been doing things like this instead of running around with Earn like that. 

 

He was going to slowly work into it.

 

“That’s cute,” Sarawat gestured to the stuffed animal, “did you win that?”

 

Tine kept staring blankly ahead as the Ferris wheel slowly gained momentum but Sarawat noticed him softly shake his head. “No. Pear did. She’s really good at these games.”

 

“Really?” Sarawat asked. It’s not like he doubted Pear but the games here were severely rigged and they weren’t separated that long to win two different prizes. 

 

Tine lifted the animal up until it was in front of his face. He sighed and started rubbing the head of the stuffed water buffalo absentmindedly. “No. We had to bribe them at the darts booth so that we would have enough points to get both of them. But maybe if you would of let either of us play the games too you would have realized that—“

 

“Both of you are better at them than us.” Sarawat cut him off. Tine smiled sheepishly before setting the stuffed animal back in his lap and turned to look at Sarawat. “You said it, Wat. Not me.” 

 

Tine was looking at him again. This was a step in the right direction. Sarawat just needed to rip off the bandaid now since he ended up softening Tine up some. He was distracted for a few moments though by his boyfriends sheer beauty—by his smile that always made Wat stomach do somersaults, by the way his face was illuminated by an array of different colors from the lights that were reflecting off of the many different machines around them, and simply by Tine himself. His nuisance. 

 

He needed to stay on track. Sarawat shifted in his position so that he was facing Tine better before letting his head drop on the other’s shoulder. He started to trail the hand that was on Tine’s thigh up until it reached one of his hands before clasping them together. He began to rub his face against Tine’s shoulder, knowing that they were high enough away from everyone that his boyfriend wouldn’t mind the blatant display of PDA. The only ones who could get a good view of them were Earn and Pear but another glance up at them showed that they were otherwise occupied. Sarawat made a mental note to ask Earn later how she got back into Pear’s good graces so fast.

 

He tensed up for a few seconds before seeming to realize that they were practically alone and despite his protest he ended up giving Sarawat’s hand a light squeeze. “Wat! Stop it. You haven’t even apologized yet.”

 

“Okay,” Sarawat mumbled against Tine’s shoulder, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Please? Please? Pleaseee?”

 

“You—Wat—Saraleo! Stop doing that!” Tine hissed, still as easy as ever to get flustered before using the hand that wasn’t clasped in Wat’s to roughly poke him in the side. Sarawat squirmed a little but refused to give up. 

 

“I’m sorry.” Sarawat’s voice was much more softer and genuine now. “I’m sorry for abandoning you. I’m sorry for caring more about Earn than you tonight. Sorry for not getting to do all these things you had planned.” 

 

“And?” Tine asked. Sarawat racked his brain but came up empty. He thought he covered everything. 

 

“I’m sorry...for being an idiot?”

 

Tine hummed but shook his head no. “For...not winning you more stuffed animals?”

 

He looked up at Tine to see him roll his eyes. “No you jackass. For not letting me go up against Earn. If you let me have a try at ring toss I could have won and we would have had time to do everything. I’m your boyfriend too you know? You don’t only have to win things for me because I can do it for you too. Or I can try. Either way…”

 

“Both of us are stupid yes, that’s established.” Earn called down at them. He didn’t realize they could hear them. 

 

Sarawat glanced back up at them. “Finally done making out?” 

 

Earn flipped him off as Pear hid her face behind the plush bunny. “Finally done begging your boyfriend for forgiveness?”

 

“Wait,” Tine cut off Sarawat before he could reply, “isn’t that what you were doing?” 

 

Earn shrugged before cuddling up against Pear’s shoulder who was still trying to hide her red face from them. “Yeah. But I did it in a much cooler way. And in record breaking time! I only had to promise that I would never play any of those games for so long as I live and she forgave me.”

 

“Pear!” Tine gaped. “Really? That’s all it took. What happened to ‘I’m not going to forgive Earn that easily and ‘let's both ignore them for a while to give them a taste of their own medicine’ huh?” Tine mimicked Pear’s words from earlier. Tine thought he was doing a pretty good job at doing it only for Pear to give in nearly from the start. She finally moved the stuffed animal away, face still slightly tinged with red, only to shrug down at them. “She’s very persuasive.” 

 

“Yeah,” Earn smirked, “I’m very—“

 

This time Sarawat was the one to flip Earn off.

 


 

Sarawat shrugged on one of his shirts as he threw the towel he was using to dry his hair into the hamper before laying down onto the bed. Tine was sitting cross legged next to Sarawat still holding the plushie that they got at the fair.

It wasn’t the one that Sarawat originally won but the water buffalo. He tried to ignore the sting in his chest when he realized that the measly prize he won was still in the backseat from where Tine set it. 

 

“You must really like that thing, right?”

 

A look of fondness appeared on Tine’s face as he continued to fumble with it. “Yeah. I really do.”

 

Sarawat tried to hide his pout. They had a longer discussion about what happened at the fair after they dropped Earn and Pear off so he assumed once they made it back to their house things would be okay between them.

 

Yet Tine was too preoccupied to get the hint that Sarawat has been shifting around the bed not because he couldn’t find a comfortable spot to lay but because he was trying to get the other to lay down. 

 

Stupid water buffalo. What was so special about that thing any way—wait.

 

“I’m an idiot!” Sarawat grabbed a pillow to groan into. He really was an idiot. Once he was done he looked over to see if Tine tore his attention away from that thing but he was still playing with it. He was paying enough attention to reply though. “And?”

 

“And,” Sarawat sat up in bed and moved over until he was closer to Tine. Like earlier he intertwined their fingers together and nuzzled his face against Tine shoulder. This time however Tine had no qualms about pressing a kiss to the top of Wat’s head. “And I just realized the significance of why you picked the water buffalo.” 

 

He let out a chuckle before kissing Sarawat’s head again, letting it linger for a few seconds more than he did the first time. “Took you long enough. Why else do you think I spent that much money trying to bribe the guy into giving us it. I wanted it for you.” 

 

“For me?” Sarawat cuddled closer. “If it’s for me why haven’t you given it to me yet?”

 

“Because... you have the real thing right here.” Oh. He was going to be the death of Sarawat. He really was. He was about to make a suggestive comment but stopped as Tine continued talking. “I’ve decided that you are going to be lonely when I go abroad after we graduate so I wanted you to have something to keep you company. That way if you ever miss me you can hug Little Tine and think of me.”

 

Little Tine? I thought Little Tine was— “ He really did deserve the punch to leg for that comment. “Finish that and you’ll sleep on the couch. 

 

“Sorry,” Sarawat apologized with a shit eating grin. “I know that it’s much more of a Big— ouch!” 

 

Tine shoved Sarawat off until he fell backwards against the bed only to grab a pillow and hit him with it. Once again he deserved it. He raised the pillow prepared to hit him again but never got to because Sarawat yanked the pillow away from his grasp and pulled Tine down so that he would lay on top of him. Tine pretended to struggle for a few seconds before giving up. It was possible that he did this because he knew Sarawat would pull him down.

 

They laid like that for a while, neither speaking as they basked in the comfortable silence. Sarawat had one of his arms wrapped around Tine’s waist and the other was fiddling with his hair. Tine was mostly still apart from tightening and loosening his hold on Sarawat’s shirt. The stuffed animal was somewhere on the bed but neither made an effort to search for it. “Little Nuisance.” He whispered after a few minutes like this.

 

“What?” Sarawat nearly dozed off like that even when he knew he had to eventually get up to turn off the lights and get under the covers. “Little Nuisance?”

 

“Yeah. Little Nuisance. The stuffed water buffalo. Who says I can only use that name one time?”

 

Little Nuisance seemed to be a good name but Sarawat wanted to tease his boyfriend a little. “So does that mean you’re going to name our kids that too?”

 

“Fuck you.” 

 

“You can if you want.”

 


 

Sarawat did end up sleeping on the couch that night but it was okay because he had Little Nuisance to keep him company. 


He also had Tine there too, not that the other boy would admit that his real reasoning for crawling on the couch in the middle of the night though. No, he claimed that he was simply too cold and that conserving body heat is a good idea you know. Sarawat wasn’t going to argue, no, he was just going to cuddle the person that he hoped to spend the next five, ten, or seventy years with.

Chapter Text

This was not how they wanted to tell their friends they were dating.

 

In fact they carefully planned how and when they would reveal it. First they would tell Bohn and Duen—mostly because out of all their friends that was who they were closest to. It’s not like they thought the rest of them wouldn’t accept it but they really didn’t want to deal with all the teasing.

 

That meant they would wait a few more weeks until they were more secure in their relationship and able to deal with the constant bombardment of questions they would surely get in the beginning.

 

How did you get together? When did it start? Did you two sleep together yet? King was positive that Mek would be the one to ask that last question.

 

Except all their careful planning went down the drain when Ram accidentally let it slip that they were way more than just friends.

 

King, Ram, Bohn, Duen, Ting, Tang, Mek, Boss and a few other people were gathered at a local bar close to campus for Duen’s birthday. Thara and Frong even showed up (separately or together no one was quite sure what was going on between them lately) for the celebration but an hour into the party Ram had to leave to pick up his brother. 

 

He was slightly intoxicated and in order to avoid suspicion King asked Tee to drive since he was the only sober one there. It’s not like he was as drunk as Mek, Ting, or Duen was but his inhibitions were definitely compromised so when King told him that he forgot something Ram thought he meant he forgot to kiss him goodbye

 

“Cool Boy!” Just as he was about to leave the private room they booked, Ram felt King grab his arm to stop him from moving. “You forgot something.” 

 

As Ram turned around to face his boyfriend he seemed to miss the fact that he was holding the car keys. “Oh.” Ram blinked. “Right. Sorry.” 

 

King sent him a confused look because he was apologizing but didn’t get to ask about it because Ram quickly leaned forward and kissed him. On the mouth. In front of everyone minus Tee who was probably still in bathroom. 

 

In Ram’s defense his mind was clouded with alcohol and he was used to kissing King goodbye every time he left the apartment. It was normal for them—small pecks like this in general was something they were comfortable doing. It took them a long time to get to this point where neither hid what they truly felt and they would be damned if they didn’t make up for lost time.

 

However, Ram knew he fucked up the moment he pulled away from King. It was nothing more than a gentle press of lips, Mek and Boss did way more graphic stuff in front of them, but their friends were currently acting as if they had sex right in front of them.

 

Ting started to choke on the piece of chicken she was eating which led to Tang and Phu taking turns slapping her back. Mek promptly fell out of his seat in shock while Boss was too busy laughing at Mek to really pay much attention to Ram or King. Thara sent them a grin and a thumbs up in support, suspecting that there was something between the two ages ago yet being oblivious about his own feelings toward the guy next to him. Frong just downed both his and Thara's drink in quick succession before mumbling something that sounded like ‘I’m going to die alone.’ 

 

Ram was thankful that Duen was passed out on Bohn’s shoulder because that saved him from all the questions the medical student would ask. He was glad that Bohn started to kick Boss roughly in the leg to shut him up so that Duen would stay asleep. It less because of King or Ram and more so because he didn’t want Duen to stop clinging to him.

 

Finally Ting managed to get the food that was lodged out of her throat up and automatically started her drunken rambles that they were all too accustomed to. “Ram and King too? I mean I’m happy for them and I totally called it months ago but when am I going to find someone? I’ve looked and looked for a cute boy or girl to shower me with love but I haven’t found them yet. Am I destined to be alone for the rest of my life?” 

 

When Ting made that comment about being alone Frong raised a shot glass full of liquor toward her in agreement. When she didn’t make any effort to clink them together he grabbed one of his empty ones and did it himself since no one else would. 

 

Always one for the dramatics, Ting threw herself at Tang and continued whining about how she just wanted one person to like her back. Tang looked almost dead inside as he stared blankly at her. "I'm sitting right here." 

 

"But you don't count." Ting pouted. 

 

"I'm literally your boyfriend."

 

Ting looked up from where she was pressing her face against his shoulder, eyes wide in surprise. "Really?" 

 

Tang couldn't help but sigh and affectionately pat Ting on the head. "Really."

 

Throughout all of this King refused to turn around and instead relied on his boyfriend's reaction but struggled because he was doing that oh so familiar blank stare. Shit. Now was not the time for Ram to be mysterious and unreadable.

 

He simply couldn’t face his friends right now. He was used to being the King who was always cool and never was on the other end of the teasing. 

 

He was good at letting those comments roll right off his back but this was way different. 

 

He didn't care about himself, he cared about Ram. He could surely defend himself if he needed to but it was natural to want to protect the person you love.

 

King did love Ram; he just still needed to figure out a way to say it. Wasn’t it way too earlier in their relationship to drop that word? He played it safe when he confessed the second time and just went with like in fear that love would scare Ram off.

 

Another reason King was taking this so hard is that in the past nothing his friends ever teased him about had any significance. This thing between them was. He couldn’t afford anything coming in between it.

 

So yeah, he was just going to stare at Ram instead and possibly bolt out the door the first chance he got. 

 

Ram, on the other hand, watched as Boss tugged Mek back up to his chair before leaning over to pepper a series of kisses to the arm that he hurt when he fell down. He looked at Bohn who was nuzzling his cheek against the top of Duen's head. He noticed the fact that Ting was now sitting in Tang's lap, their heads bowed together as they whispered back and forth to each other.

 

He even looked at Thara and Frong who were both stealing glances when the other wasn't paying attention.

 

Ram didn't understand. Their friends had no trouble showing the various stages of PDA when they were all together. Right now they were all too preoccupied to even tease each other so why did King look so panicked? Was he just not comfortable with affection like this with him or did he not like to show it in public? 

 

Ram agreed at first to waiting because he knew how Duen and Ting were. Of course he loved them like family but he had to admit it was nice in their little bubble. Once he was positive that everyone was no longer paying attention he reached a cautious hand out in hopes of grabbing King's wrist. 

 

However, as soon as he wrapped his hand around it King yanked it back with more force than was needed. 

 

Ram pushed down the hurt that was blooming in his chest. It's okay. He was probably just shocked and used to immediately pulling away like they did in the past.

 

"P'King?" Ram's voice was low. "Are you ok—"

 

"Just leave me alone!" King didn't mean to yell that but he was too frustrated and drunk to realize the ramifications of that until after he did it. Without even looking back he knew that his friends stopped what they were doing to stare at them.  

 

It was impossible to miss the shocked look that flashed on Ram's face, impossible to miss the confusion.

 

King might be smart but sometimes he lacked emotional intelligence. Better yet he lacked how to effectively communicate. He didn't know how to say that he wasn't ready to be as open, at least physically, like their friends were. He was unsure if he knew the right sequence of words to convey how he truly felt about Ram.

 

What did he end up doing? He took off so that he no longer had to deal with the situation. It wasn't one of his brightest moments and he only caused more problems when he bumped into Phu on his way out. The other was wiping his still damp hands on his pants as he observed how tense the room was now.

 

"Did I miss anything?" He asked. Mek's eyes flickered to Ram who was still staring at his feet and at King’s retreating figure. 

 

"Uh, turns out Ram and King are dating."

 

Mek assumed Phu would be as surprised as they were but he wasn’t. In fact he just furrowed his brow in confusion. "You didn't know they were dating?"

 

"You knew they were?" Bohn interjected before Mek could speak again.

 

He nodded. "Yeah. I saw them having sex in King's truck a few weeks ago but I suspected that they were—"

 

Chaos erupted in the room once again. Ting spit her beer in Tang's face, Mek was trying to figure out how that was possible since it was so small and asked Boss if he wanted to spice up their own sex life, while Frong just threw another shot back.

 

Without saying anything Ram turned on his heel and left in search of King. 

 


He found King sitting on the ground outside the club with his back leaned against a brick wall. He had his head buried in his hands but knew that the approaching footsteps had to be Ram's.

 

He didn't bother to look up as he spoke. "I'm drunk. I'm an idiot. I'm sorry."

 

He felt Ram slide down the wall and sit next to him. "So am I. We both are. I'm sorry too." 

 

"No, I'm the one who yelled at you for no reason. I was just…" King trailed off and cursed the fact that he didn't know how to do this but thankfully he didn't have to because Ram seemed to understand.

 

"Overwhelmed. Not used to all that attention. I understand, P'King. I'm sorry for breaking our promise to keep what is going on between us a secret."

 

King finally looked up at Ram, a frown etching its way across his face. "I don't want to keep you a secret, Cool Boy. I want to show you off. I'm just scared that this makes everything real now. It was easy to pretend that this whole thing was just a dream. All of this is too good to be true."

 

Ram understood where King was coming from. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that they were dating. He thought that after the camping trip he would just have to be satisfied with keeping at a distance but he didn't have to. Not since King truly laid himself bare a few days after he came back from a trip to his grandmother's house. It was awkward at first but without too much prompting King took the initiative, claiming that his grandmother talked some sense into him.

 

Namely that he would soon regret pretending like nothing was happening between them. Still, Ram wasn't going to question things too much because finally they could be together. It makes sense that King would be hesitant to share the news with his friends. What if they broke up? After Bohn and Duen started dating the two separate friend groups meshed together. How would they face each other let alone their friends if things go wrong?

 

They were all valid worries to have but Ram knew that King was letting something that might not even happen dictate the present. 

 

He tried his luck again and reached for King's wrist. The wrist was far more intimate for them than hands were and thankfully this time King didn't pull away. He allowed Ram to rub his thumb over his pulse point, the frown being replaced with a soft smile. 

 

"Do you like me?" Ram asked. 

 

King was caught off guard by that as the smile slipped off his face. It was a stupid question and he said as much. Shouldn’t it be obvious that he was just as crazy for Ram as Ram was for him?

 

“Exactly. We both know how we feel so it doesn’t really matter what our friends think. I’m sure if we tell them to back off they would.” 

 

“Can you promise that?” 

 

Ram knew that it was impossible to promise something like that. “Let’s just take it one day at time okay? I can only promise that I’ll like you. For as long as you let me.” 

 

“I promise to lov-I mean like. Yeah, I’ll promise to like you as long as you let me.” 

 

Ram and King didn’t have to say that word but they both knew it. Some things were just better left unsaid. They did have a lengthy discussion in the cab ride over to pick up Ram’s brother about how comfortable they were with showing affection in public though. 

 


It was some kind of miracle that the day after the party no one dared to speak of what happened to King. 

 

It’s not that they didn’t want to tease them but figured it was best to give them space. Mek, however, decided that a week was plenty of time for them to get over their embarrassment so as Boss bid them farewell at lunch he couldn’t help but not repeat King’s words from earlier.

 

“You forgot something.” King knew that it was too much of a coincidence that Mek decided to say that. His suspicion grew when he saw the mischievous glint in his eyes.

 

Boss, always one to go along with Mek’s schemes, played along. “Oh. Sorry. What did I forget? My keys? Wallet?” 

 

“No,” Mek shook his head, “you forgot to kiss me goodbye.” For added emphasis he puckered up his lips and closed his eyes as he waited for Mek to come back to the table.

 

King really hated his friends sometimes. Picking up his eraser he chucked it at Mek and when Boss took a step forward to protect his boyfriend King threw his pencil too. 

 

He would never live this down but something told him that Ram was probably having it worse with Duen and Ting so he should be glad this was all he had to deal with. 

 


“So.” Ting lowered her voice before glancing around nervously. When she realized that no one else could hear except for the rest of their friends at the table she went on. “Tell me the truth. How good of a kisser is P’King?”

 

Tang couldn't believe that she said that. “Your boyfriend is right here, Ting!”

 

“And? What’s your point? Don’t pretend like you weren’t curious about it too.”

 

Chapter Text

“We should have invited Manaow and Del.” Team was never one who liked to pick at his food but right now he couldn’t find motivation to eat. He just got on with a particularly brutal three hour practice at the pool when Pharm begged him to go out for dinner. At first he was ecstatic about hanging out with his best friend and the possibility of a free meal but he lost his appetite once he realized they weren’t going alone.

 

Dean and Win were tagging along. It’s not like he was upset about that fact but it became abundantly clear that this dinner was not just a bunch of friends hanging out—it was a double date.

 

Win made that very clear as soon as they sat down at the table. It wasn’t a fancy restaurant but Team still felt severely underdressed in a pair of basketball shorts and an oversized hoodie. Pharm and Dean weren’t that dressed up but Win didn’t get the memo.

 

It was unfair that even after spending hours working out and in the pool he still ended up looking so flawless. He only had around twenty minutes to get dressed yet he looked as if he was a runaway ready.

 

His stupid hair was perfect. His stupid button up and jeans were perfect. His stupid lips were... stupid. He kind of hated his boyfriend and his ability to never have any bad angles. 

 

Either way Team desperately wished Manaow was here too. It would lessen the awkward tension at the table. As soon as they sat down at the table Dean made a vague gesture toward the back with a promise of returning in a few minutes. Pharm didn’t look too concern about this but not having Dean there was really making this weird.

 

Actually, Team was the one who was making this so weird. Pharm and Win got along pretty well but he needed someone at the table as a buffer. If they were there it wouldn’t be a real date right? It didn’t matter that Manaow was dating Del, if all of them together like this it would be more like a get together rather than an intimate night out.

 

“But won’t that be weird?” Win asked as he leaned into Team’s personal space and started to stab at the piece of meat that was left untouched with his fork. “Going on a triple date with your little sister?”

 

There he goes again. Bringing up the fact that this was a date. 

 

“How would it be weird? We went on a date with Alex before too.” Pharm titled his head in confusion. 

 

“Yeah,” Team mumbled under his breath, “Can’t believe you talked Pharm into that one.” 

 

Win continue to push into his and eat his own food rather than his own so after the few more moments of this Team had enough. He slapped the hand that was holding the food and elbowed him in the ribs. “Eat your own.” 

 

“You weren’t eating it.”

 

“So? Are you a dog? You aren’t getting my scraps.” 

 

“We should invite her next time.” Pharm interrupted their arguing before they could go any further. He was well aware of his best friends tendency to bicker with the older student. 

 

Win didn’t look all that convinced. “Still, I’m not even sure when they started dating. What happened to Alex and…” He racked his brain for a name but came up empty even though he was sure the guy was on the swim team.

 

“Pruk.” Team supplied.

 

Win didn’t keep up with who was dating on campus and although he liked Manaow his interest never peaked when it came to who she was with. The only reason he kept up with Del’s love life was because she was like a little sister and because he was always curious how she ended up with the guy who was into her brother's boyfriend.

 

Whatever. He obviously didn’t care that much because he only just now recently found out that she started to date Manaow.

 

Pharm took a sip of water to wash down his food. “I don’t know. I think they just realized they were more into each other than Alex and Pruk.” 

 

“I wasn’t surprised by it,” Team admitted. “They were always close. Anyways, the only one who can deal with Manaow is Del.” 

 

Del did balance the other girl out but most of the time she only egged her on. Case in point: they constantly had a habit of teasing Pharm over his relationship with Dean. They tried to do the same with Team but all it took was filling Manaow’s eyebrows with permanent markers in retaliation when she fell asleep one night after a study session that she decided WinTeam was off limits. 

 

Win was about to say something but stopped once he saw Dean walking toward the table with Sorn in tow. He was carrying what suspiciously looked like a cake, no doubt meant for Pharm, but the boy in question was clueless about it. His back was turned to them as he sat down his utensils on the table. “I’m happy that they found someone they care about. They both deserve it.” 

 

Team rolled their eyes at his friend. “You really do love love huh? So does your boyfriend apparently.” 

 

Pharm’s confusion couldn’t be faked so Team knew that while he probably planned this double date on purpose he had no control over just how far Dean would take this.

 

What Win didn’t know was that Team overheard them in the locker room talking about their little competition they had planned. It was after he agreed to go out with Pharm but before Win confessed he was going too that Team found out how that tonight wouldn’t be a normal double date. Dean was telling Win that this plan was a good idea and that they could pretend it was simply a coincidence but the conversation quickly veered into something else. 

 

Who could be more romantic on the date: Dean or Win. Obviously Dean had this in the bag, not only because it was well known how cheesy it was when it came to Pharm but because Team didn’t exactly make it easy for Win to do these romantic things. He always got too flustered and would automatically say something insulting in return as a way of protecting his dignity.

 

Win didn’t agree with this so they decided to put both money and clean up duty on the bet. They were unsure on how they would determine who won but they could think about that later.

 

That’s why Team was being so awkward right now. He was just waiting for some outrageous public display of affections like you see in the movies.

 

He noticed right from the start Win was more physical than he usually was. He seemed to be almost trying to upping Dean everytime he did something.

 

When Dean kissed Pharm on the cheek in greeting Win kissed both of Team’s.

 

When Dean leaned over at the stop sign to mutter a suggestive comment in Pharm’s ear Win didn’t bother to hide his scoff. He also didn’t try to lower his voice when he made a even more risqué comment about what they were going to do later that night. 

 

When Dean opened the door for Pharm Win made Team get back in the car so he could do the same.

 

Honestly Team wouldn’t be so irritated if Win had a little originality. If he was going to make a bet he should at least not copy everything Dean was doing.

 

Besides, Team knew that everything Dean was doing was nothing out of the ordinary. All these little acts of affections were things that he did nearly everyday. Team was well aware of this because he was forced to constantly watch his captain turn to mush everytime Pharm walks in the room. The only thing that was unusual was the cake. 

 

It wasn’t Pharm’s birthday or their anniversary right? Team glanced over at his boyfriend and had to bite down on his lip to stop from laughing. He looked positively scandalized that Dean would go that far. Both didn’t realize that they were allowed to spend money on this. Win had to think of a way of getting back at his friend and he needed to think of something fast. 

 

Poor, easily flustered, sweet Pharm had no clue what he was in store for.

 

Maybe Team should of told him about the bet but he was still annoyed that Pharm talked him into this. 

 

"I'm just glad Del dumped Alex. It took her long enough to realize that he wasn't worth her time." Once Dean and Sorn were behind the table he shifted cake in one hand so that he could use his older smooth down Pharm's hair. 

 

"P'Dean!" Pharm chastised. "He wasn't that-" He stopped short once he saw the cake out of the corner of his eye. " P'Deannnn!" He whined his name this time, face already heating up in embarrassment as he caught a glimpse of what was written on the cake. 

 

If Team didn't feel sick earlier he definitely did now because shit. Dean was like some main lead from a romantic comedy who always knew the right thing to say or do. Frankly Team didn't see how Pharm survived the relationship. He would surely combust if Win tried any of this. He could barely handle the taste he got of it tonight. 

 

He was happy that his best friend found someone who truly loved him but all of this was way too much for Team.

 

Even though Pharm will blush or complain everyone at the table knew that he liked when Dean did these things.

 

Despite everything with In and Korn he really loved moments like this. Pharm always felt bad that In never got to do these things with Korn, never even got to truly show his love without fear of repercussions so he made an effort to do as many things as the other couldn't. He couldn't make up for the past but he could make sure that he lived the most of this reincarnation because it was impossible knowing how long they had together. 

 

Pharm hoped he could spend the rest of his life with Dean but life was unpredictable. If Dean wanted to be cheesy who was Pharm to complain? It was just another way to show Pharm how much he loved him. 

 

The cake itself looked, in all honesty, not that pretty. The icing was patchy and the writing was barely legitimate. Pharm could only read it because he recognize who it was: Dean's.

 

I love you more than you can ever imagine and I wish you'll graduate sooner. Either way I'll wait for as long as you want...it doesn't matter if it's five, ten, or a hundred years. As long as I'm by your side I'm happy. 

 

Only Pharm knew the significance of that graduation comment but Win and Team could infer it what it meant. Of course Dean had plans on marrying Pharm. It was more surprising that he didn't already have a ring picked out. Or he did and just never told Win about it.

 

Pharm meant to tell his boyfriend to be nice to Alex because even if he didn't like him Del did but he found himself unable to do anything but bite his lip to keep from crying. 

 

The message was sweet but it was the fact that Dean decorated the cake that made him emotional. Pharm didn't deserve him. Not one bit. He didn't even care about the fact that they were in a semi-crowded restaurant right now or that he was two seconds from losing it in front of Win and Team. 

 

Dean, always able to pick up on these nonverbal cues, handed the cake to Sorn so that he could pull Pharm up and hugged him close to his chest. Pharm started to sniffle as Dean went back to running his hand through the shorter boys hair, voice gentle as he tried to coax him to speak. "Ssh. It's okay. Do you like It?"

 

Pharm's voice was muffled so that only Dean could hear it. "Of course I do. Why did you...when did you find the time to... P'Dean ." 

 

"Because I want to. I made the cake last night after I dropped you off at home. Don helped me make it so we know-"

 

"That it's most likely inedible." Sorn cut him off, grinning at his cousin. "The icing was melting so I had to fix it up. I couldn’t do anything to change the taste of the cake though.l

 

Throughout this interaction Win and Team remained silent. Team felt like he was intruding while Win was still trying to think of a way to win this bet. He had an idea, albeit it was a stupid one, but at least it was something. It should be pretty easy to scrape together before the night is over and if the criteria for winning is whether or not your respective other cries Win definitely had this. He wanted to tease Dean a little though before making an excuse to leave so he could gather all the supplies. 

 

"Yeah, there is no way I would try that. Don can somewhat cook thanks to Pharm but Dean is still a lost cause. Especially when it comes to desserts."

 

"I wouldn't either." Team agreed.

 

"I...am also not sure if I want to try it either." Pharm pulled back some so that he could stare up at Dean with a guilty expression on his face. Once Dean started pouting Pharm tried a different way of approaching this. "The last time you two made cake you put four cups of salt rather than sugar. It's sweet that you did this and I love you for it but…"

 

"Either way it's romantic right? And cheesy? Wouldn't you say it's the most romantic thing that's ever been done?" Pharm didn't know where Dean was going with this but everyone else did.

 

"Well…" Sorn trailed off as he rubbed the back of his neck. "More romantic things has been done. You just made a cake."

 

"Exactly!" Win threw his hands in the air. "Big deal. You think that that's romantic? Wait until you see what I do for Team when I come back." He was already getting up from his seat and shrugging off Team who was trying to pull him back down.

 

"No. Win sit down. Whatever you're thinking of doing I'm begging you not to do it. Win! And...he's gone." Win was indeed already racing out of the restaurant and showed no sign of giving up. Team pushed his plate foward so he had another room to lay his head on the table. "Why couldn't you two just bet over the swim meet instead? Why did it have to be about who was more romantic. Spoiler alert: Dean already won.” 

 

Pharm shot his friend a look of concern before he processed the meaning of the words. Glaring up at his boyfriend Pharm tried his hardest to sound as mad as he felt. " You did what?" 

 

Dean seemed to find the painting on the opposite wall to be especially interesting because rather than meeting Pharm's gaze he studied that. People might assume that because Dean was taller, broader, and generally more threatening that he must be the one who called all the shots in the relationship but that was untrue. They both equally had a say in matters but Dean was aware of how downright scary Pharm could be when upset. 

 

Usually that anger was never directed at him but it was obvious that behind that angelic smile and sweet exterior laid something akin to a ferocious animal. 

 

"Well would you look at the time," Sorn awkwardly chuckled, "I have to go get ready for a reservation. Good luck explaining that one Dean."

 

Yeah he was going to need as much luck as he could get. "You see, Win started this bet-"

 

"No," Team corrected him from he still had his head on the table. "You did. I overheard you both talking about this earlier."

 

"You knew this whole time and still didn't say anything?" Dean was confused that Team would sit idly by but he must have been doing it for a reason.

 

"Would either of you stopped if I told you that I knew? Win has a mind of his own. You should know that better than anyone else."

 

That was true, all three of them knew that was the truth. Dean pulled Pharm closer and kissed his forehead in apology. 

 

Pharm was distracted by that for a moment and relaxed into the embrace before remembering that he was supposed to be mad. Pushing him away only slightly, Pharm glared. “You know how sensitive and insecure Win is over this. Why would you start a bet with him?”

 

“Wait,” Team lifted his head off the table to give the other two a look of surprise, “Win is insecure over what? When did he tell you that?”

 

“He’s a little insecure that he’s not as romantic as Dean or our other friends. And he’s a little sad that when he does try to do these things you always push him away.” Pharm replied when Dean remained tight-lipped. He should stay out of their business but something told him that Win would never outright say this.

 

He was right when Team scoffed. “No he isn’t. He knows that’s how I am when it comes to these things. He knows how much I love him.” 

 

“Does he?” Dean mumbled under his breath. He deserved the soft slap on his chest for that comment. “P’Dean!”

 

He was gearing up to defend his friend when said friend started to throw himself under the bus. “No, Pharm he’s right. Maybe Win doesn’t know that. He’s competitive but he’s taking this way too far.” 

 

He took one glance at the dejected ook on Team’s face and knew exactly what they needed to do. He fully moved out of Dean’s arms and sent him a pleading look. “Go follow Win. Talk to him. Please?” 

 

Not one to say not to no to Pharm when he looked like that, Dean just nodded before grabbing his phone off the table and took off out of the restaurant. 

 

Team laid his head back on the table with more force than needed and sighed in frustration. Pharm just moved to the other side of the table so he could comfort his friend.


It wasn’t hard to find Win because he didn’t go all that far. As Dean was walking up and down the street he spotted his friend in one of the many convenience stores with an armful of...chips. 

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Win didn’t bother to turn away from the shelf as he grabbed yet another few bags of chips. 

 

“I genuinely have no clue.” Dean really didn’t understand why his friend was clearing off the shelves right now, was this a cry for help? Perhaps.

 

Win was acting like this was normal thing though. “I’m doing something romantic for Team. I realized why I’ve always lost to you when it comes to this because I tried to copy the things you do but Team is way different from Pharm.”

 

Dean started to grab a few bags of chips too while he listened to Win work this whole thing out himself. Whatever his best friend was doing Dean would go along with it no matter how stupid it was.

 

“Anyways, Team hates being overly affectionate like that. He gets way too flustered and annoyed when I try to do it. But do you know what he does love? What is the perfect way to show him that I care yet also not making him go out of his comfort zone?”

 

“Chips?” Dean took a wild guess. 

 

“Not just any chips,” Win turned toward Dean and lifted his overflowing arms to clarify when he meant, “Lay’s Potato Chips. There’s a chance he’ll think this gift is stupid but I know Team. He’ll secretly love it. You trust me right?”

 

“Not all all.” Dean knew that he was supposed to come here to stop Win from doing something stupid but…”What do you need me to do?”

 

Win took the few bags of chips out of Dean’s hand and grinned. “Go buy a bouquet of flowers.” 

 

“Give me ten minutes and I’ll be back.”


“I think you should let Win know this. If affection makes you uncomfortable I’m sure he would understand.” 

 

“It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, not exactly. He’s just using Dean as a guide when it comes to this. It makes no sense because he’s dated a lot of other people. He knows how to woo so why is he so bad at wooing me?”

 

Pharm took a long sip of his drink, trying to find a way to tell his friend the truth without being too harsh. “Because you make it hard for him. You just now got to the point where you didn’t want to hide it anymore. It makes sense that he would take this bet to the extreme.” 

 

“Still,” Win groaned before stabbing at his food with his fork, “I just wished he knew that he didn’t have to do these things—“ He took back everything he was going to say when he saw Win walk back into the restaurant with a bouquet of something.

 

“Are those…” Pharm trailed off. “Chips? And flowers?” Team finished for him.

 

“He made me a bouquet full of chips and flowers. I thought he was supposed to be the intelligent one in this relationship.”

 

“And I thought Dean was the most mature one but we were both wrong.” He was walking a few paces behind Win with an apologetic look on his face. I’m sorry he mouthed to Pharm. No your not Pharm didn’t have it in him to be mad. No one really could control Win apparently.

 

“Before you say anything,“ Once Win was a few feet away from Team he held up his hand to silence the other, “It’s the thought that counts. You hated everything else I did so I thought I would try my luck by giving you something you like.”

 

“Shut up.” Team breathed. His eyes wide as he took in the impressive craftsmanship. “This is the dumbest gift anyone has ever given to someone else.”

 

It took a lot to hurt Win but the way his boyfriend was staring at him as if he grew two heads did in fact sting. Hanging his head in embarrassment he already had an explanation on the tip of his tongue. “I know but I thought you would like it.” 

 

“Oh I do.” Win whipped his head back up in surprise. “I just wanted to make sure you knew that. I love it.” 

 

“You do?” Pharm was just as surprised. “Really?”

 

To make sure both Pharm and Win understood that he wasn’t joking he held his hand out for the bouquet. Win shot him a look of disbelief before handing it over. “Yes. It’s stupid and dorky but so what. I won’t have to buy any chips for a long time now.” He clutched the bouquet to his chest but made sure to not do it too tight so they wouldn’t get crushed. 

 

Dean let out a long exhale before sharing an incredulous look with Pharm. “I really didn’t think this would work.”

 


Win did what?” Manaow was caught off guard when Pharm relayed what transpired on the double date over the weekend, spitting out the sip of pop she had in her mouth all over Del’s lunch tray.

 

Dean, Pharm, Win, Team, Manaow, and Del were all sitting around a table in the cafeteria on campus attempting to catch up on what has been happening lately. 

 

Pharm used the hand that wasn’t clasping Dean’s under the table to pull out his phone and click on the picture of Team in his bedroom. He had that ridiculous bouquet of chips and flowers in his hands smiling, eyes full of fondness as he stared at Win who was taking his picture. He held it up for the girls to see and watched in amusement as they tried to wrap their head around it.

 

“What’s the context behind that? Like...there has to be some specific reason for that?” Del wondered to herself. 

 

Pharm and Team glanced at each other before shifting around to look at their respective boyfriends.

 

“Go ahead, Win. Tell them the reason why.” 

 

He shrugged as if he wasn’t all that bothered by it. “I made a bet with Dean over who could be more romantic.” 

 

“So obviously Dean won right?” Manaow didn’t even know why she asked that question. It was obvious who won.

 

“Actually,” Pharm gave Dean a sympathetic squeeze under the table, “Win was the one who won.” 

 

“It’s unfair.” Dean pouted. “I hinted at the fact that I was going to propose—“

 

You proposed for Pharm?” Del squealed. 

 

“—yet Win won with a bouquet of chips.”

 

Win pointed at Dean with his fork. “ That you helped create.” 

 

“Okay,” Pharm attempted to steer the conversation away from where it was heading, “remember the promise you both made to us. No more bets like this.” 

 

Although their boyfriends did swear that they wouldn’t do it again the odds were that they would. They were far too competitive with each other to not do something like this again. 

 

“But that’s not fair.” Del frowned over at her older brother. “Why was I not allowed in on this bet? I would have beat you both.” 

 

“I’m not so sure about that babe .” Manaow teased. “How would we ever top a bouquet of chips? That’s like the pinnacle of romance.” 

 

The table erupted into laughter and before she knew what was coming to her Team was throwing a handful of chips— that he made Win but at the cafeteria since he didn’t want to mess up the arrangement at home— at her head. 

Chapter Text

King made a desperate keening sound, head falling against the car window so hard that his vision blurred. He didn’t particularly care about that though. He was too preoccupied with trying to wrap his head around the fact that Ram had his treachous mouth attached around his member. 

 

He would be lying if he said that he didn't know how they ended up in this position. It was a carefully crafted plan that has been in the works for a few days now but he was sure that even if he didn’t think of this plan they would still be here. The desperation inside of them became so insufferable that they were not able to prolong this for another day. 

 

It all started with another camping trip with their friends. It was supposed to be an innocent getaway and it mostly was until King had to go provoke his boyfriend on the last night there. None of their friends knew that the two were dating which meant they didn’t have the same luxury as everyone else did. They couldn’t be as affectionate as Boss or Bohn and nor could they even look at each other too long in fear of someone noticing just how heated the gaze was.

 

So they stayed away from each other only to reunite in their tent after all the activities were done. These last two days they were far too exhausted or cautious to try anything but King wanted to make the most of their last night here.

 

They started out in their tent, lips gentle and slow as they just basked in the fact that they could do this. It’s not like King didn’t like when they made out in this way because he really did. There was something about the way Ram touched him as if he was the most precious thing in the world yet had no trouble with being a little rough when encouraged that pulled on his heartstrings. It was crystal clear from the beginning that because King had such a hard time admitting his feelings Ram would make sure he never went too far when it came to intimacy. 

 

It was sweet. Honorable even. But King had to admit he was at his wits end over it. 

 

They were dating for nearly two months yet they still haven’t slept together yet. It wasn’t because neither wanted to but rather it was hard to find the perfect time. It didn’t matter that they lived together and had the opportunity to do it as many times as they want—Ram always pulled away. At first King thought he wasn’t ready and was planning on fully respecting that until Ram confessed the real reason he was constantly leaving them both to relieve the pressure they felt in separate rooms rather than together.

 

He didn’t want to force King into anything. Early into their budding relationship Ram let his hands wander to areas his boyfriend was not ready for, momentarily losing control only to snap out of it as soon as he felt King tense up. He automatically apologized and like a dog that has been kicked spent the rest of the night curled up on the other side of bed full of self loathing, ruminating over the possibility that they could break up over his idiotic mistake. Every attempt King made to coax the younger out of it failed. It wasn’t until the next morning that King could sit him down and frankly state that while yes he got overwhelmed that didn’t mean he never wanted Ram to never touch him again. He just needed more time and as long as Ram understood there was no reason to end something that was only just beginning.

 

Although both never experienced these things before it was King who was far more sensitive over it, therefore after that day Ram made sure to let him take the lead. He didn’t ever want to make King uncomfortable again.

 

That didn’t mean that Ram held back when it came to intimacy though. No, it just meant that they stuck with things they were already comfortable with.

 

Kissing? Touching? Handjobs and blowjobs? Both were okay with those. There were quite a few things they experimented with over those two months besides the biggest one: anal sex. Of course they both tested the waters and had a conversation about it but it was still nerve-racking.

 

Not just because they had no experience with it but because it felt far more intimate than anything they ever did before. It didn’t help that they both were given inadequate education about this. The only real source of information they could rely on was things they found on the internet.

 

Waiting seemed like a good idea but didn’t they wait long enough? If Ram was waiting for King to give the signal that he was ready he would make sure he heard it loud and clear.

 

The lazy kisses soon turned into heated as King started to accidentally (deliberately) rub against the Ram’s growing erection with his own. Thank goodness for the fact that they were both still wearing jeans because it only made their already sensitive members even more so. It only took a few times of doing this before Ram pulled away from where he was kissing the bruise on King’s neck that he made earlier. His eyes were clouded with desire, lips kiss swollen and breathless as he whispered the question King has been waiting for. “Are you sure?” 

 

King just pulled him down for another kiss before thrusting his hips out again. Ram still didn’t look all that convinced so King decided that he needed to say this verbally so that there would be no misunderstandings. “I’m ready. I’m positive that I want to sleep with you. If I change my mind I’ll let you know.”

 

Ram let out a deep exhale as he searched King’s face for any sign that he was lying. It was evident that he was being honest right now but there was a kink in that plan.

 

“The tent is too thin. Everyone would hear us.” 

 

King was no doubt utterly desperate to get right down to business but he couldn’t help but tease Ram a little in order to ease their nerves. “Presumptive of you to assume I would be a screamer.” 

 

Ram narrowed his eyes and gave King a look that pretty much said didn’t I have to slap my hand over your mouth in the bathroom last week at Bohn’s apartment to stop you from alerting our friends about the fact that we were doing something very non platonic?

 

Or that look just said shut up. Even King still struggled with interpreting what those steely gazes meant.

 

“We don’t have any protection. I don’t want you to get hurt.” Ram continued. “Even if we did, where would we do it?”

 

“Oh, don’t worry Cool Boy. There’s lube and condoms in my truck. Speaking of my truck, did you know my back seat is spacious enough to fit two people?” King did feel a twinge of embarrassment for how quickly he had the answers to those questions but didn’t dwell too long about it. Once he noticed how shocked Ram looked over that revelation King started to awkwardly laugh. “If I tell you that it’s just a coincidence those things are in there would you believe m—”

 

King didn’t get to finish what he was saying because Ram captured his mouth into a searing kiss. It should be impossible that Ram’s eyes were darker with want than before but they were. Breathing heavy, Ram leaned back in to press a softer kiss against King’s lips almost to remind himself to not devour the other at this exact moment. “P’King, you will be the death of me.”

 

“No,” King shook his head as he reached a hand out to trace the tattoo on Ram’s neck that he loved oh so much, “you will be the death of me.”


King called it. Ram would be the death of him.

 

Or the reason he got a minor concussion from the amount of times his head was bouncing against the window. They still have yet to open the lube but King was already ready to explode just from Ram’s mouth and hands. The truck was only dimly lit by one of the lights on the console (they couldn’t afford to start it in case it woke up one of their friends) but that only seemed to make the scene in front of him even more erotic.

 

Ram, his boyfriend, alternating between kissing the length of his member and using his hand to stroke it. If Ram kept doing this he wouldn’t even make it to the main event. That’s why he used the hand that was gripping Ram’s hair to yank it hard enough so that the other would stop. “ Shit. Stop. Ram!” 

 

Ram stopped immediately and pulled off of King’s member with a soft pop. The hands that were holding onto King’s thighs to stop him from squirming froze and dropped as if they were on fire. He blinked up with a look that was a mix between guilt and surprise. 

 

Noticing the equally guilty look on King’s face he started to apologize. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry .” His voice was even quieter than normal and King felt bad for how he went about this. 

 

His hand was still tangled in the others hair so in an effort to reassure Ram that he did nothing wrong he loosened his hold and began to smooth down the pieces that were sticking up in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. It was reminiscent of that night all those months ago when Ram was breaking apart and King was there to pick up the pieces.

 

“No.” King used his other hand to gently tilt Ram’s chin up. “ No. You don’t have to apologize because you did nothing wrong.” He didn’t look all like he believed that so King gave his hair a light tug when he tried to look away. 

 

“I’m telling the truth. I don’t want you to stop. That’s the problem.” 

 

“Oh.” It was hard to clearly see Ram but King could of swore he saw a look of relief wash over his face before he laid his hands back to their original place. He didn’t touch King there again but he did start to trace small patterns over the expanse of skin with his fingertips. “You want to start? Are you sure you’re ready?”

 

King was devilish for orchestrating tonight but Ram was even more so for teasing him for it. The question was to obtain consent once again but it was also challenging: if King was delirious by a blow job how would he feel when Ram was inside of him? 

 

For added emphasis he quirked an eyebrow up and innocently smiled while his fingers traveled higher.

 

If Ram was going to play dirty so would King. The backseat of the truck was spacious but it was not as comfortable as a bed would have been which meant they were in a quite awkward position right now. King was laying sideways across the seat while Ram found a new home in between his thighs. It was hard to get a good look at what he did but he was determined to give his boyfriend a taste of his own medicine. He felt sick satisfaction curl in him as he watched Ram’s smile start to falter when he slid one of his hands under the elastic waistband of his boxers.

 

It was unfair that King was the only who was fully naked and he meant to rectify that. The movements were featherlight but it was enough to leave Ram gasping. It was the first time he was letting King touch him since the tent—he enjoyed being the cause of King’s unraveling so much that he would have gladly forgo his own pleasure. When King ran his finger over the tip Ram made a noise that he was not proud of and felt his hips involuntary twitch forward in search of that feeling again.  

 

King was just about to do it again but Ram was thankfully faster, grabbing his wrist and pinning it against the window next to his head. Out of the corner of his eye he saw King move his other hand up and in retaliation he pinned that one too.

 

Don’t.” It would be mortifying if he couldn’t even last five seconds inside of King. “Or else.”

 

“Or what?” King jutted his chin out in defiance. “You’ll punish me?”

 

Ram made sure to squeeze his wrists hard enough that he would feel it but not enough that it would hurt. Leaning forward he kissed him with as much force as he could, letting out a sigh when King opened his mouth within seconds only to break apart with a weird look on his face.

 

“Is that my, uh…” He trailed off as he stared at Ram’s lips. It was a weird experience to taste your own cum. It was a form of intimacy he never experienced with someone else before.

 

Ram sent him an incredulous look. “I’m about to have my dick inside you, P’King. Isn’t that way more intimate?” 

 

His jaw fell open in surprise, not exactly used to hearing his boyfriend talk like that. Actually he was still not used to Ram speaking. “Yeah but still…” 

 

“Should I run back to the tent and brush my teeth before we continue?”

 

King wished that he had his hands free because he would have flipped Ram off. He liked that after this much time together they were comfortable enough to show this side of their personality but it was infuriating sometimes. 

 

“Just grab the lube and screw me already!” King whined in frustration. Ram finally let go of his wrist and quickly obeyed but not before mumbling something under his breath. “ So romantic .” 

 

So annoying .” King shot back. He laid his head back on the window in anticipation as he listened to the lube cap pop open. 

 

He was nervous. Anyone would be but mostly he was in awe that he was this lucky to experience this with someone who cared enough to take the extra measure so that it would be comfortable. Not everyone is able to have a first time as good as this. It didn't matter that Ram had yet to begin because King just knew. Never has he trusted someone as so fully as he did Ram. King trusted him with not only his body but his heart and soul too. He made a mental note to make this as enjoyable for Ram too because King was not the only one who should feel good tonight. 

 

He was too wrapped up in his own mind that he didn’t realize Ram was done slicking his fingers with lube but snapped out of it when he felt a kiss to his forehead. “I’m going to start now, okay?” Gone was all the teasing and challenge from earlier, now it was just full of patience. “I want you to talk to me if you like or don’t like what I’m doing. Promise?”

 

King bit his lip for a moment before nodding. “Promise.” 

 

Pressing one last kiss to his lips Ram made his down King’s body to settle in between his thighs. The darkness of the truck proved to be a hassle because it was hard to see but gently he rubbed a cautious finger against King’s hole. He didn’t insert it until he saw the King’s tiny nod of approval. Making sure to never let his eyes stray from King’s face for even a second he pressed a finger in slowly. 

 

King made a noise that was not exactly of pleasure or pain so Ram pulled out. Grabbing the lube he added more just in case and peered up at King as he tried again. This time Ram started to talk so that it would hopefully be less stressful. “How does it feel?”

 

“Uncomfortable.” King pursed his lips. “But I don’t hate it.” After a few moments of getting used to the first he started to wiggle his body some. “Try another one?”

 

So he did. One finger after another he slowly added until he was positive that King was ready. Just as was pulling out to add more lube his finger brushed over an area that made King gasp and shudder. Ram was about to fully pull out but stopped when he saw King shake his head. “ Do it again. Please.”

 

“This?” Ram genuinely asked in wonder as he pressed down on the sensitive area. “Is that…”

 

“I...think...so,” King had trouble speaking. “I... oh.” 

 

He didn’t have to ask again for Ram to do it because he was already starting to gain a comfortable pace. Every touch sent shivers up King’s spine but after a few minutes of this he decided that it was time. “Cool Boy. I’m ready.” 

 

Ram pulled his fingers out and wiped them on the fabric of the seat, ignoring the look King sent him, before sitting up. Grabbing a condom he quickly ripped off the foil only to roll it on with trembling fingers. It was good to know that King wasn’t the only one nervous about this. After applying more lube than King thought was necessary he started to pat his lap. 

 

King sent him a quizzical look. “What?”

 

“Come here.”

 

“You want me on top like that?”

 

King thought they would just go for plain missionary position right now given the limited room they had available but Ram had a different idea. “We’re too big to lay down on the seat. This is the least uncomfortable way to do it and I want to look at you.”

 

He was glad that the car was dark so that Ram wouldn’t see how red he went. He only stalled for a few seconds before literally jumping into action. As he climbed on top of Ram he braced his hands on his shoulder and took another shaky exhale. “I love you, Ram.” 

 

“I love you too.” The kiss they shared after that was far different from the others but it was what needed to calm them down. The distraction wasn’t prolonging the inevitable but served as a way of increasing the anticipation. Ram had one hand holding King’s back to keep him steady and the other was stroking his own member beforing guiding it to where it needed to be. He didn’t make any effort to do anything because he was waiting for King to start. He wanted them to be in this position for that simple fact—so that King had full control on how fast or slow they went.

 

After a few more minutes of lazily kissing each other King started to slowly lower himself down. The tip brushed against his entrance causing him to break apart from the kiss so that he could narrow his eyes at the headrest. He was aching from want yet knew that it was going to take a little while before it would start to feel good. It didn’t feel all that painful as he lowered down a little bit more but that didn’t stop Ram from peppering his face all over with kisses as a way to apologize. 

 

The lower he moved the less weird it started to feel but he still took it slow. He searched Ram’s face for a sign of how he was feeling during all of this and felt his pulse quicken as he took in the look of sheer pleasure on his face just from the stillness. His lips were parted, eyes clouded over and heavy lidded, cheeks hot enough that King could see in the dim light from the console.

 

If he looked like this if King was not moving...how exactly would he look if the pace started to increase?

 

He was sure that the discomfort was over when he fully took Ram in and after a second of getting used to the feeling he slowly lifted his hips up before pushing them back down, earning a loud gasp from Ram as he wrapped both his arms around King’s waist. 

 

He did it a few more times before— “ Ram!” He was louder than he intended but didn’t care. All the discomfort from earlier was worth it because shit King has never felt this good. The stretching feeling was no longer uncomfortable, all he felt now is pure unbridled ecstasy. King rocked his hips back down harder than he did before and grabbed the back of Ram’s neck to pull him into a kiss. 

 

Every time he lifted his hips and slammed down both were unable to contain the noises that came out of them. Their breaths came out in gasps while every loud moan was silenced with another kiss. It was pure bliss and completely worth the pain they would feel in their necks and back from this position, especially when Ram started to get the hint that he was allowed to meet King halfway with the thrusts. 

 

It felt like not nearly enough time passed by before King felt a pit in the bottom of the stomach and cried out as the orgasm hit him. Biting down on Ram’s shoulder to muffle his scream, King’s body felt like jelly. He barely had enough energy to hold himself up but thankfully Ram was strong enough to do so. 

 

Ram was on the edge too as he held on to King’s waist like a vice grip and thrusted into him once, twice, three times before he too had to cry out. 

 

They sat like that for who knows long, both not finding the motivation to pull out and clean up just yet. Instead Ram hugged King close to his chest and stroked his back in an effort to help him come down from the high. King just placed a series of kisses on that dream catcher tattoo to help Ram too.

 

“Thank you,” King whispered against Ram’s neck, “for this. For choosing me.” 

 

Ram nudged King back so they could look into each other’s eyes. “Thank you for choosing me too, P’King. Thank you for giving me the chance to experience this with you.”


It took them nearly twenty minutes to get up so they could clean both themselves and the truck as best as possible. Either way they knew there was no way anyone else would be getting a ride back to campus

because they had no excuse to explain why the backseat was covered in lube.

 

Nevertheless when they made it back to the tent they both squeezed into one sleeping bag unable to be apart for too long. Ram had his head on King’s chest, their legs and hands tangled together as they allowed the crickets outside to lull them into a deep sleep.

 

Just as King was about to doze off he felt Ram start to softly poke his stomach until he popped open one of his eyes. “ What?”

 

“Was I okay? Does it feel good?”

 

“Are you fishing for a compliment, Cool Boy?” King narrowed his eyes in suspicion. 

 

He shook his head, a bashful look suddenly overtaking his features. “No...I was wondering because…”

 

“Because what?” King prompted when Ram took too long to reply.

 

“I want to try it too.”

 

Suddenly King was wide awake. “ You...want me to... I thought, um, that—“

 

“There is no rule that says I can only be on top P'King. I wanted to see what it feels like.” Once he noticed the wide eyed look on King’s face he backtracked. “But we don’t have to. It’s up to you.”

 

King really liked the idea of that if the growing tightness in his boxers were anything to go by but he didn’t think he was ready for that just yet. “I do want to but maybe not next time? Just give me a chance to get to this, okay? One thing at a time.” 

 

Ram nodded his head in agreement with a satisfied smile on his face. He was happy that he managed to not chicken out of asking the question that has been on his mind for awhile now. “One thing at a time.”

 

“One thing at a time.” King repeated as he reached down to caress Ram’s cheek. “Now let’s go to bed.” 

Chapter Text

Xiang Hao Ting was in full on panic mode. What was supposed to be a simple, quick, and normal event suddenly erupted into pure chaos. Xi Gu made him swear that there would be absolutely no hijinks today and Hao Ting readily agreed. Not because he knew that nothing would happen but because he would rip his own heart out and serve it on a silver platter if his Yu Xi Gu asked. 

 

Why was Hao Ting breaking the second biggest promise he ever made to the love of his life? 

 

It was simple: Sun Bo Xiang. Hao Ting knew that wherever his best friend was trouble would surely follow. Obviously he was ecstatic that Sun Bo—and by addition the rest of their friends—were able to travel to America for the wedding.

 

Wedding. He was finally marrying Yu Xi Gu after nearly a lifetime of waiting. He would wait even longer if his love asked but Hao Ting was really glad they were doing it now.

 

The memory of the accident that happened all those years ago still kept both of them up at night. It was a constant reminder of what could happen and why they couldn’t afford to make the most of the life they were given. The possibility of losing Xi Gu, really losing him, was a terrifying prospect that Hao Ting didn’t want to think about for at least another sixty years. It was after that accident when Xi Gu was laying in that hospital bed clinging to life that Hao Ting’s parents finally realized the weight of their relationship.

 

Hao Ting was a mess during those seven days Xi Gu was in a medically induced coma. He refused to step away for a moment, somehow believing that something would go wrong in those few minutes he wasn’t there.

 

His father didn’t quite love the idea of them together but could admit that it wasn’t some fleeting phase to tie his son over until he found someone better. No, Hao Ting needed Yi Xi Gu as much as he needed air to breathe. It wasn’t Hao Ting’s tears or pleads that made his father give them his blessing—it was when Xi Gu finally woke up.

 

Hao Ting was at the cafeteria with his family in the hospital, finally sitting down to eat after going nearly a full day without substance, when he received a frantic call from Zhi Gang who was keeping a watchful eye over Xi Gu.

 

He was awake. Without thinking twice Hao Ting took off in that direction, leaving the rest of his family to scramble after him. His father only came to the hospital when Yong Xing laid into him. It was Yong Xing who had to pick up the pieces when they were forced apart that first time. It was Yong Xing who held her brother as he cried all those nights. 

 

It was Yong Xing who has always been a firm defender of the two. It didn’t matter that she constantly fought with Hao Ting—he was still her family, her gege . By default Yu Xi Gu was too. This accident might be the final straw that pushed Hao Ting away from them for good and honestly? Yong Xing would not blame her brother for it one bit. What was so wrong about his relationship with Yu Xi Gu? It was the shorter boy after all that inspired her wild brother to settle down, to take his studies and life seriously. Why did her parents let the fact that Yu Xi Gu was a boy overshadow all those good things?

 

She told their father exactly that, willing to risk punishment for doing so. Yong Xing knew that saying these things to him would not magically change anything. Homophobia, because that’s what it clearly was, didn’t just disappear overnight. She just hoped that it would make things a little bit easier for them.

 

When Yong Xing and her parents made it back to Yu Xi Gu’s room they all felt as if they were seeing something they shouldn't have, something far more intimate than the make out session they walked in on all those months ago.

 

Xi Gu was already a fragile and weak boy—years of malnutrition and loneliness would do that to you—but in that hospital bed he looked even more so. Most of his body was covered in either bandages or casts but that didn’t stop him from clinging to Hao Ting as tight as he could. The last time Yong Xing was in this room, Xi Gu had a tube down his throat to help him with breathing. Now it was gone with only his hoarse voice as evidence that it even happened in the first place.

 

Hao Ting had his face buried into Xi Gu’s shoulder, arms wound around his waist loosely so that he wouldn’t aggravate any of the injuries there. As much as Hao Ting wanted to cling he held back knowing that it might just end up hurting Xi Gu and that was the last thing he ever wanted to do. He was openly crying though but so was Xi Gu. Just as Hao Ting’s family were going to quietly exit Yu Xi Gu said something that was barely audible but nonetheless stopped them in their tracks.

 

“Are you okay? Hao Ting, are you okay? Did you get hurt?” 

 

Everyone was confused over that question but especially Hao Ting. He pushed back the smaller boy and blinked in confusion. “Xi Gu. You were the one who got hit by a c-car.” He let out a whimper at that last part as memories started to flashback of the first few minutes of hearing that news a week ago.

 

Xi Gu didn’t seem all that phased by it, reaching a shaky hand up to touch the purple bags under Hao Ting’s eyes. “But look at you.” 

 

Xi Gu.” Hao Ting voice took on a firmer tone. “Don’t worry about me. Worry about yourself.”

 

“I don’t care about what happened to me.” Xi Gu whispered. “You haven’t slept have you? How could you be so stupid?”

 

Zhi Gang was standing in the corner of the room to give them a little bit of privacy but decided to speak up once he noticed the look on Hao Ting’s father’s face. He was watching the two almost curiously up until Xi Gu said that last comment. Now the curiosity was replaced with something Zhi Gang didn’t understand. His protectiveness of Xi Gu might never go away even when it was evident that he already had someone else to do it so he took a few steps forward and spoke.

 

“Xi Gu. Xiang Hao Ting was worried.” 

 

“I was too.” He argues back, his bottom starting to tremble as he looks over Hao Ting's face in a desperate attempt to find any other signs that he neglected his own needs. It was possible that he didn’t even realize the other audience members there or that he did but was too upset to be bashful about it. As he went on, Hao Ting’s father started to gain a new respect for the student. “If I died what would you have done?”



Hao Ting was truly dumbfounded by this question although he shouldn’t have been. It didn’t matter that he had multiple conversations with both Zhi Gang and the doctors over this, Hao Ting blocked that possibility out of his mind. What exactly would he have done if Xi Gu didn’t survive? “Why would you...It won’t happen...I would... Xi Gu!” He struggled to form a coherent sentence but clearly Xi Gu wasn’t going to let him out of this that easily.

 

“Would you have wasted away? Become a shell of who you used to be? Stop living?” It took a lot of effort for Xi Gu to say that, both emotionally and physically, but he truly was not trying to twist the knife in further. He didn’t want to be cruel—he wanted them to be honest. Some might have thought doing something like that was romantic but Yu Xi Gu didn’t. Not at all. That would be his worst nightmare. 

 

He was awake for longer than anyone knew, accidentally overhearing Sun Bo and Zhi Gang try to think of a way to get Hao Ting to snap out of it. It was getting to the point where the idea of forcibly dragging Hao Ting out of the hospital for a few hours was a legitimate idea. They knew that Hao Ting was worried and couldn’t imagine what they would do if they were in his shoes but the last thing they needed was for him to end up in the hospital too. The blinding pain Xi Gu felt from his head to his toes was enough to keep his eyes close for a few more hours until after Sun Bo left and Hao Ting was finally eating.

 

The first thing he asked when his eyes popped open was not the status of his own health but Hao Ting’s. If he was already forgoing basic necessities this past week how would he react if Xi Gu was really gone?

 

It was not that far of a leap to think that Hao Ting would take it hard but Xi Gu wanted— no he needed the taller man to understand this. Hao Ting kept his mouth shut because he didn’t want to lie.

 

They were young but Hao Ting already knew that Xi Gu was it for him. He didn’t want anyone else. He couldn’t have anyone else. 

 

Xi Gu knew that he would hurt just as much but he was better equipped at handling grief. It’s something he spent his whole life doing. When Hao Ting left this world, so would a piece of Xi Gu’s soul. It’s not as if what Xi Gu felt for Hao Ting was considerably less but he would persist. He might spend his life shut off to the idea of finding someone new but he would take care of his well-being because that’s what Hao Ting would want. 

 

He had to know that Xi Gu wouldn’t want him to be like this. “You have to promise me something.” Xi Gu stared directly into Hao Ting’s eyes, heart aching and guilt churning in his stomach at being the cause of his boyfriends pain.

 

Hao Ting nodded ever so slightly even though he disliked where this was obviously heading. It was enough for Xi Gu to continue after taking a deep breath and swiping away at Hao Ting’s wet cheeks. “Promise me that if anything happens to me—“ Hao Ting had to bite his lip so that a sob wouldn’t slip out. “—that you won't do anything like this again. That you won’t stop living too. You worked far too hard to throw everything away, Hao Ting. Promise me that you won’t stop being who you are when I’m no longer here. Promise me that…” 

 

Xi Gu couldn’t go on anymore but he hoped his point was across. The wounds simply became too unbearable, both the physical and emotional ones. He was exhausted despite the week of sleep he got and this conversation was only making it worse. He didn’t care that he was crying. He didn't care that Hao Ting’s family heard everything. The only thing he really cared about was Hao Ting’s arms around him as he broke apart. The sobs that wrecked his body was agonizing but the thought of Hao Ting giving up was so much more painful. 

 

Hao Ting held him as he cried, voice soothing and hands gentle as he pressed kiss after kiss against Xi Gu’s head as carefully as he could. After a few moments of whispering sweet nothings Hao Ting admitted that he would not be able to keep the promise.

 

“I can’t do that. I can’t promise you that.” Xi Gu took a sharp exhale of breath and fisted his hand to the back of Hao Ting’s shirt. He wanted to shove him away but was too weak to do it so instead he just tugged his boyfriend closer. Just as he opened his mouth to speak Hao Ting beat him to it. “I can’t promise you something like that but I can try. Yu Xi Gu, I can try.”

 

It wasn’t the answer Xi Gu hoped for but it was good enough. At least for right now. They would have to sit down and have a conversation about all of this but Yu Xi Gu hoped that his pleas to the shooting star in the night sky would be granted: that they wouldn’t have to test Hao Ting’s promise for years to come. That they would be able to spend five, ten, twenty, eight more years together. 


“I’m going to kill you.” Hao Ting lunged for Sun Bo but was stopped by Xia De and Xia En. He was trying his best to not wrinkle his tuxedo but his thirst for vengeance outweighed everything else. 

 

The victim in question was scrambling around the small hotel room in search of something to use for protection.

 

Logically speaking he knew that Hao Ting would never actually strangle him to death because of this... right? He cared for Sun Bo Xiang way too much to harm him over this little mistake. They were best friends! Brothers! Nothing would ever come in between them!

 

Hao Ting managed to shove Xia De off long enough to pick up a shoe and sling it across the room at Sun Bo. “ You lost the ring!” Hao Ting yelled in frustration. “The wedding starts in twenty minutes!” Okay so maybe there was something that could come in between them.

 

I didn’t mean to lose it, Hao Ting!” Sun Bo whined. “I double checked my pocket three times before we left.”

 

Hao Ting threw another shoe. “You checked that many times and still lost it?” 

 

Any attempts of trying to calm the situation down were for naught. Xia De and Xia En at least were trying to prevent murder while Gao Qun decided to just watch the disaster unfold as he snacked on food he found in the fridge with a content smile on his face. 

 

“If you think about it,” Sun Bo huffed as he ran to the other side of the room, “This is your fault. You should know by now that I can’t be trusted with things like that.”

 

That comment only fueled Hao Ting’s anger and anxiety even more. “Oh, so now it’s my fault?”

 

Sun Bo nodded. “Exactly. Glad both of us are on the same page.” Before Hao Ting could charge again the hotel door slammed open to reveal Yong Xing. She looked angelic in the white gown she was wearing but the look on her face reminded everyone what she really was: the devil itself. She was breathing hard and two seconds away from punching both Sun Bo and Hao Ting for how immature they were acting.

 

Although Hao Ting grew tremendously as a person, getting into a good university and was successful in his career, he was still the same wild Hao Ting from high school. Especially when he was around his friends. Still, Yong Xing’s patience was wearing thin right now. 

 

“You idiots better be prepared to pay me good money for this. Do you know how much I had to beg the owner of the hotel to get the ring back?”

 

“But you found it?” Xia En asked. Letting out a sigh she reached into the pocket of her dress to pull out the velvet ring box. Once Xia En and Xia De realized that it was safe, they let go of the hold they had on Hao Ting. 

 

Yong Xing. My dear sister. The one I adore. Name your price and I’ll give it to you.” As he said this he slowly started to prowl over to his sister with his arms spread wide. Cautiously she took a step back and held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t you dare. I’ll punch you. Hao Ting!” 

 

Any other protest died in her throat as Hao Ting crushed her into a hug. He pressed a sloppy kiss to the side of her head as he lifted her off the ground. She let him do it only for a few moments before aiming a well crafted punch to his side so that he would drop her. While this was going on Sun Bo made his getaway, suddenly remembering that he also forgot to book the man who was going to officiate the wedding. 

 

Something told him that Yong Xing wouldn’t be able to come to his rescue again. 

 

Wincing in pain, Hao Ting grinned down at Yong Xing. He reached out to ruffle her hair but was punched in the same spot again. She knew her brother well enough to realize that he would not give up that easily so while he was recovering from the hit she spun around and bolted out of the door after she handed him the ring box. 

 

“Wait!” Hao Ting yelled. “Where are you going?”

 

Yong Xing still rolled her eyes even if her brother couldn’t see it. “To see someone who I actually like.” 

 

Xia En, Xia En, and Gao Qun all shared a look of disgust when a dopey grin started to spread across Hao Ting’s face as he hugged the ring box close to his chest. “Give him a kiss for me! Wait, no. Just tell him that I love him!” 

 

“Do it yourself, dipshit!” Yong Xing called behind her back before coming to a stop. Turning around she pointed a finger at him in warning. “Never mind. I’ll do it. Stay there” It was a miracle in itself that they kept Hao Ting away from Xi Gu these last few hours.


It was ironic that Hao Ting, the cool and confident man who didn’t stress about anything, was two seconds away from a panic attack while Xi Gu was calm. There was not a day that ever went by when Yu Xi Gu wasn’t overwhelmed about one issue or another. This was true even after he started dating Hao Ting. The worry never really went away.

 

Yet on one of the most important days of his life he was completely relaxed. He was relaxed because as long as he was Hao Ting things would be fine. Mostly. Hopefully.

 

“They lost the ring.” Yong Xing was recounting the events from earlier to Xi Gu and Zhi Gang. “Sun Bo forgot the box at the restaurant downstairs. When I walked in the room Hao Ting was trying to punch him. Yu Xi Gu, if you want to back out I’ll understand.”

 

Zhi Gang should have looked more worried for the safety of his boyfriend but he didn’t. Hao Ting attacking Sun Bo was rightfully deserved. Just as long as he didn’t actually hurt him. “We can sneak you out the back.” Zhi Gang added. He knew that Xi Gu wouldn’t walk away now but it was still fun to suggest.

 

Sure enough Xi Gu shook his head. “I want to do this.” 

 

Yong Xing laid a hand on his shoulder and searched his face for any inkling that he was lying. “You won’t have a moment of peace with my brother. You know how annoying he is. Imagine doing that for the rest of your life.” 

 

Xi Gu titled his head deep in thought before smiling to himself. “I think I can.”

 

“He’ll embarrass you.” Yong Xing argued. 

 

“Maybe.” Xi Gi shrugged.

 

“He’s clingy. And loud. He’s a troublemaker.” 

 

“I know.” 

 

“Once you marry Hao Ting that’s it. There’s no getting rid of him.”

 

Xi Gu knew all of these things were legitimate reasons to not marry someone but he didn’t care. He loved Hao Ting because he was like that. “I think I’m okay with that.”


A few weeks later Xi Gu was perched in Hao Ting’s lap with a textbook in his hands. He was trying to study for an exam he had the next day but was distracted by Hao Ting’s lips.

 

More specific, Hao Ting’s lips on his neck. Xi Gu didn’t want to sit like this in the first place because he knew his husband. Even if Hao Ting swore that he would keep his hands to himself he would still somehow find a way to get around that. 

 

It was just soft little nips up and down the side of his neck but it was enough to make Yu Xi Gu’s brain hazy. “Hao Ting! Stop it!” 

 

Xi Gu felt him grin against his neck as he spoke. “Stop what? I’m not doing anything.” 

 

“Liar.” Xi Gu whined. “I mean it! I have an exam tomorrow!”

 

“By all means, study. I told you I’m not doing anything.”

 

Getting fed up with his husband, Xi Gu sat his textbook on the bed and threw his head back with a groan. It was a mistake though since it revealed even more skin for Hao Ting to suck on. 

 

After the whole ring fiasco everyone thought nothing else would happen. They were wrong. Sun Bo really did forget to book the officiant so they had to wait three hours until another spot was open. By the time that happened the food they saved for the small reception was gone and because it was so late in the evening nothing was open. That left them no choice but to sit around the hotel bed, all dressed to the nines, munching on food from the vending machine outside their room.

 

It was imperfect. It was messy. It was far from the fairytale wedding Hao Ting wanted for Yu Xi Gu but it was so uniquely them.

 

Yes, Xi Gu would have liked if things were less chaotic but it was kind of nice. He spent his whole life drifting out in sea by himself only to wash ashore an island full of life. For the first time in Xi Gu’s life he understood what it was like to have a family. That’s what they were right? Or something close to it. 

 

He would always be thankful for Hao Ting for the love he gave him but he would be even more thankful for a night like that. 

 

Hao Ting bit down harder than he intended, earning a yelp from Xi Gu. In an attempt to apologize he pressed a soft kiss to the already forming bruise. At this rate Xi Gi would have to wear a turtleneck out tomorrow unless he wanted the world to see how persistent his husband can be. Deciding that he sufficiently kissed every inch of Xi Gu’s neck he decided to move higher. He caught his earlobe between his teeth but let go when Xi Gi slapped his chest. “Why are you doing this?”

 

“Because,” Hao Ting leaned forward and did the same to Xi Gi’s other ear. “I have something important to ask you.” 

 

Xi Gi felt himself involuntarily shudder as Hao Ting slipped one of his cold hands under his shirt. “Hao Ting.” The way he was looking at Xi Gi right now, as if he could eat him whole, meant that question he had in mind was not a good one.

 

“Xi Gu.” He mocked back as his hand traveled up to trace patterns on the others chest. “So, can I ask you the question now?” 

 

Xi Gu huffed in reply, still trying to pretend like he was annoyed but at the same time leaning into Hao Ting’s embrace. Pressing another kiss on Xi Gi neck he pulled back so they were face to face. “When was the last time I told you how much I loved you?”

 

Oh. Xi Gi was not expecting that. Narrowing his eyes Xi Gi waited for the other shoe to drop. “Five minutes ago. You told me five minutes ago. Why?” 

 

Hao Ting shrugged, eyes flickering to Xi Gu’s lip. “Just curious. Hey, Xi Gu. Guess what?” 

 

The conversation with Yong Xing came rushing back, almost as a way of biting him in the ass. He’s annoying. Loud. Clingy. A troublemaker. Once you marry him, that’s it. There’s no getting rid of him. He remembered how he said he would be fine with that. 

 

Xi Gu sighed. “What?” 

 

“I love you.” 

 

Annoying, clingy, loud, and a troublemaker. That was Hao Ting all right. This is how his life was going to be now. Never able to have a moment of peace.

 

Lifting a finger up Xi Gu poked Hao Ting in the stomach. “Three minutes. That’s all I’m going to give you. Afterwards I’m going to study and you will stop trying to distract me.” 

 

Hao Ting leaned down and pecked Xi Gu on the lips. “Deal. I only need a minute anyways.” 

 

Realizing what he said, Hao Ting blushed. “I meant...that’s not…you know that I have good stamina... Xi Gu! Stop laughing.”

 

Xi Gu couldn’t help but do so. It was a joyous sound that was music to Hao Ting’s ears. It’s been years since they started dating but Hao Ting still got butterflies from these simple things, would this feeling ever go away? He hoped it never did.

 

Hao Ting would gladly say something mortifying again if it would bring Xi Gu that much joy but could only let the other laugh for a few more moments before deciding to silence him with a kiss. Breaking apart Hao Ting let his head lean against Xi Gu’s. “I really love you.”

 

Xi Gu’s smile was shy as his cheeks started to heat up at the confession. Every time Hao Ting said those words to him Xi Gu felt invincible. “I love you too.” 

 

Chapter Text

Jack was going to die. Simple as that. Cause of death? Most assume it would be by a fellow hitman but ironically enough the perpetrator was none other than Jack’s own boyfriend.

 

Zhao Zi, the man who was currently tugging Jack by his hand to their front door as he chatted away about his case at work. He didn’t give any specific information—not because of distrust but because Shao Fei made it very clear that it was top secret—about how he managed to crack the code and save the day. He was not aware that the more he spoke about  his hacking techniques the more aroused Jack grew.

 

It started earlier that evening when Jack showed up with dinner for Zhao Zi at work only to be forced to wait in the lobby until they cracked the case. He was unable to hear what Zhao Zi and Shao Fei were saying from where they sat at their desks but he could clearly see his boyfriend typing away like a madman.

 

At first he was truly enamored by Zhao Zi’s skill at the computer, only able to see it for a short period of time in the past. Today he was able to see Zhao Zi in action for nearly thirty minutes and while those thirty minutes were a blessing they were also a curse.

 

Apparently Jack had a thing for Zhao Zi hacking. Like a holy shit I have a hard on in the middle of the precinct just by watching him press keys on a keyboard. Thank goodness he had the container of food to put on his lap or else he would have received very weird looks from Zhao Zi’s coworkers. Well...more so than he already received since most were still scratching their heads trying to figure out why a detective and former hitman were together.

 

Even though he did have a thing for Zhao Zi’s skills he was genuinely amazed over it too. How was it possible that someone who has been tainted by all things bad managed to end up with someone so good? He was fully planning on praising Zhao Zi later that night though but in a different way than he was planning to now, showering him with lazy kisses and sweet nothing as they got ready for bed. 

 

They finally made it to the front door and just as Zhao Zi went to unlock it all of Jack’s well contained restraint went out the door. All it took was for his Zhao Zi to utter the word back door, a phase he didn’t particular under how it related to hacking, before Jack was pressing him against the door.

 

Before Zhao Zi could say anything Jack captured his lips into a kiss, making sure to gently cradle his face as their lips hungrily fought for dominance. At first Zhao Zi was always bashful to show this much affection outside but after a few months of dating he grew quite used to Jack’s impatience. He was not sure what the reason was for this but he would be an idiot to complain.

 

It was always a weird dichotomy on how Jack could be hard and rough with his mouth but soft with his hands. Zhao Zi was the complete opposite which is exactly the reason Jack was going insane.

 

Zhao Zi fingers rapidly typing away should have not made him this riled up but it did. He was so riled up that he would have been ready to take Zhao Zi at this exact moment, outside their home together.

 

Thankfully Zhao Zi's lung capacity was not that good because he had to pull away for some much needed air. His cheeks had a steady growing blush that only intensified as they made eye contact. Jack was staring at him the same way Zhao Zi normally looked at food: hungrily and five seconds away from devouring it whole. 

 

“W-what got into...you?” Zhao Zi stuttered out, breathless and flustered from the kiss. 

 

“Turns out we can add you hacking a computer onto the list of things that turns me on.” Jack dropped his hands from Zhao Zi’s face so that he could grip the young man by his waist and tug him close so that they were flush against each other. 

 

Zhao Zi had nowhere to hide when Jack was pressed against him, but it’s not that he would want to anyways. He liked the attention even if he failed to understand why something like that would turn his boyfriend on. “Really? Why?” 

 

Once again Jack was going to die at the hands of Zhao Zi. If it was anyone else Jack might of thought they were playing dumb on purpose but that was not the case for Zhao Zi. He really had no clue. 

 

“Your hands, Zhao Zi. More specifically your fingers. Watching you hack today drove me mad.” 

 

The blush on Zhao Zi’s face went even redder once everything clicked together. “Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oooh. So was that why you wouldn’t let me carry the food to your motorcycle? It was because—“ 

 

Jack knew what he was about to say but wouldn’t let him finish. The kiss they shared this time was far more gentle than the last but it still left Zhao Zi a flustered mess. After a few beats of silence Zhao Zi finally gained his voice back only to say something that left Jack confused.

 

“Malware.” Zhao Zi whispered. “Polymorphic Virus. Wardriving—“

 

That man took him for a fool and made him believe he was an angel rather than the devil himself was trying to fuel Jack’s weird new turn on by saying phrases he could only assume was related to hacking. Yeah, that was it. Jack was as good as dead right now.

 

“—Adware. Keylogger. Logic bomb. Wait, Jack is this really turning you on?” 

 

In reply Jack just picked Zhao Zi up and slung him over his shoulder, quickly unlocking the door and rushing inside. Jack could faintly remember the time he picked Zhao Zi up like this and how much the other protested but tonight was different. All he did was laugh over how absurd this whole thing it was and held onto Jack for dear life. 

 

Any hesitation Jack had about leaving his job and that life behind evaporated as he listened to Zhao Zi’s laughter. It was by far his favorite sound in the world and he would quite literally do anything just to hear it again. Even if it meant playing along and pretending like the word malware got him all hot and bothered.