According to Pruk, this is what happened:
“We were sixteen, on this school trip up north of Chiang Mai, and someone got a hold of some, uh, beverages. None of us had ever had alcohol before, so we were all pretty gone in no time. We played ‘dare or dare’ because we were all pretty boring and we already knew everything about each other. Someone dared Dean and Win to kiss, so they did. Wasn’t really a big deal. What was really funny was the thing after that with the monkey and the bus driver’s keys. So, we’re getting onto the bus—”
Based on that description, this is what Pharm thinks happened:
A group of sixteen-year-olds, maybe eight or so, all sitting on the floor of a dingy cabin in the mountains surrounded by bunk beds. Someone has a plastic bag full of cans. Cheap alcohol. There’s some laughing, teasing, drinking. Someone points to Win or Dean at some point and shouts, “I dare you to kiss each other, and if you don’t, you have to streak in front of the teachers’ cabin!” or something equally ridiculous. Then Win rolls his eyes and Dean raises his eyebrows, and they turn to each other and touch lips so platonically it makes the rest of the boys boo, but it was technically a kiss, so they have to accept it and move on to someone else.
It’s a pretty amusing visual, so Pharm laughs. He knows Dean wouldn’t appreciate it, but Pharm likes imagining him as an unruly teenager breaking the rules and actually obeying pointless dares from his friends.
The monkey story Pruk tells next is a lot funnier, and everyone at the table laughs a lot louder at that one.
Everyone, that is, except for one person.
See, the thing is, Pruk probably shouldn’t tell stories like that when Win and Dean aren’t present to add in the details.
Team eats everything on his plate without a word to anyone, then takes out his phone and stares at the screen with a vinegar slant to his lips.
Later, after the movie, the group disperses. Manaow clasps her hand around Pruk’s and swings their arms as they head toward the parking garage, and Del and her friend wave goodbye and slip into a nearby clothing shop together. That leaves Pharm alone in front of the cinema entrance with Team, who’s back to staring at his phone screen. It’s been at least fifteen seconds since he last acknowledged anything else.
Pharm says, “Team,” to no avail. Team doesn’t even seem to register his name. The pinch between his eyebrows grows deeper as he continues to stare, unblinking, at his phone screen. He has his Line app open to his list of contacts, and if asked, Pharm could make a reasonable guess as to which of them has Team’s undivided attention.
Grinning, Pharm puts his half-empty soda cup against Team’s cheek and laughs when Team squawks and reels back.
“Pharm, what the fuck?” Team whines.
Pharm answers, “You weren’t answering me!” and adds an indignant pout for effect.
Team narrows his eyes at him, then pockets his phone. “Fine,” he says. “What do you want to do now?”
It strikes Pharm then that he and Team haven’t hung out for a while. They’d normally be with Dean and Win on a Saturday night, either individually or as a group, but Dean’s writing a speech for the incoming class of business majors, and Win’s tutoring some of the swim club members in preparation for an upcoming exam.
It would be refreshing to have some time alone with Team, if Team weren’t still sulking three hours after the end of Pruk’s story.
“Team,” Pharm says, hiding a smile, “are you upset?”
Team frowns at him. “No,” he says. “About what?”
Pharm lets a hint of a laugh slip. “You’re not upset about Win kissing Dean in high school?” he presses.
Predictably, Team’s entire face scrunches up with exasperation. “That? No. Why would I care about that?” He heads off in what seems like a random direction, passing storefronts without looking at them and yanking his phone out of his pocket as he walks.
Pharm chases after him, allowing all the amusement inside him to play out on his face as he slings an arm around Team’s shoulders and croons, “Teeeam. Don’t get upset about that. They were in high school!”
“I’m not upset,” Team says, shrugging his arm off with a huff. “What do I care what dipshit things he did when he was a horny teenager?” Then, with an accusing flare in his eyes, he stops and jabs his phone at Pharm’s chest. “You’re the one who’s jealous! You keep talking about it!”
Pharm tugs Team out of the flow of foot traffic and over to the glass paneling that forms the mall’s third floor aisle walls. “Are you gonna text Win?” Pharm teases.
Team shoves his phone back into his pocket, his mouth set in a sulk. “No. I was just checking what time it is.”
“And what time is it?” Pharm asks.
Team’s face becomes completely blank, then he squints at Pharm for calling him out on his flagrant lie.
Pharm opens his eyes wide with faux innocence.
“I really don’t care,” Team says. “He’s probably kissed lots of people.” He scowls down at the peaceful fountain area on the main floor like it has a blood feud with his family.
With an innocuous tilt of his head, Pharm says, “I guess I could ask Dean—”
Team’s head whips back, his expression one of pure thunder, until he meets Pharm’s eyes and realizes he’s being played. Again.
Laughing, Pharm leans back out of range while Team bats unenthusiastically at him. He can’t get anything else out of Team, so they walk aimlessly around the mall for another hour talking about other things until the closing music starts to play.
Team drops him off at his dorm, and after Pharm shuts the door behind him, he leans his arms on the open window and says, “Don’t worry, Team. I’m sure Win likes kissing you more, even if Dean is better at it.”
Team blinks at him. Then he says, “I’m going to run over your foot if you don’t get your head out of my car.”
Pharm laughs as he waves and heads into the building.
Here’s what Team thinks happened:
Five boys, six max, drinking hard liquor in a nice air conditioned cabin in a mountain resort. Dean and Win are sitting on a bed while everyone else is on the floor. Someone makes fun of Dean and Win for sitting so close, then someone dares them to kiss, so Win takes his chance, the one he’s been hoping for, and presses his mouth to Dean’s.
Because Team already knows the trip Pruk was talking about, because Win has mentioned it offhand as the class trip during which he had his first kiss. Team just never knew who it was, because he didn’t ask—and maybe he should have.
This means Dean was Win’s first kiss. Which means that Win’s first kiss was Dean, and Win never told him that it was Dean, so that means Win didn’t want Team to know, which means Win had feelings about that kiss. Feelings he didn’t want Team to know about, which means he might still have them. But no. Win doesn’t like Dean like that—right?
While Team drives back to his own dorm, he decides that this asinine story Pruk told them is a horrible nugget of information that he would very much like to crush into dust and then kick into the ocean and then fish out the remnants and then set them on fire.
Team parks unevenly, storms into the building, stabs the button for Win’s floor by mistake, and then pretends to himself that he didn’t notice.
When he steps out of the elevator, he allows his feet to take him to Win’s door, because he’s not entirely sure what he’s planning on doing, but his brain isn’t really in charge at the moment. He knocks, his own heartbeat thick in his ears, and he doesn’t stop until the door swings away from his fist.
Win jerks back and catches Team’s wrist before the next knock, his expression twisted in bafflement.
“What happened?” Win asks. “Are you all right?”
Which just isn’t fair of him, because Team’s angry.
He didn’t realize it until now, but he is.
“Why didn’t you tell me you kissed Dean?” Team asks. He doesn’t raise his voice, but he does try to wrench his arm out of Win’s grip and fail.
Win blinks once, slowly, then stares into Team’s eyes like Team just asked him if he’s a natural blond.
“What, like, today?” is what Win finally goes with.
Team’s mouth falls open. “How often do you kiss him, hia?”
Win laughs. “I don’t! Ask him yourself! I was here tutoring Mew and Oat until an hour ago, and then—”
One of the doors down the hall opens and Win’s friend Jan peeks out into the hall. “Could you two argue inside?” she calls. “My girlfriend and I are trying to cuddle while we watch dramas and you’re kind of killing the mood.”
Cowed, Team and Win both drop it a few decibels and tell her, “Sorry, Jan.”
She adds a small wave of acknowledgement and a bright, “Good luck, Win!” before closing the door with a pointed slam.
Win sighs and hauls Team into his room by the wrist he’s still holding. Team goes, but he doesn’t make it easy, digging his heels into the floor just to be difficult.
When Win presses him to sit on the bed, Team folds his arms and glowers up at him.
In return, Win stands over him and folds his arms, mimicking Team’s expression.
After a few mutinous seconds, Team breaks eye contact and tries burning a hole through the floor with the power of petulance alone.
Win caves first. “Team, what are you talking about?” he asks. “I didn’t kiss Dean. Who told you I did?” Then, with a wrinkled nose, “And why would you believe them?”
The insinuation that Team’s believing unfounded stories from strangers has him blurting, “Pruk said you and Dean kissed in high school on that trip you told me you had your first kiss on.”
Win absorbs that, then grins. “Oh yeah, we did. Ha. That was a weird night.” He drops onto the bed next to Team and sighs with relief as if the subject is closed. “Wanna spend the night now that you’re here?” he asks.
Team tilts his head to the side and tries to express with the furrowing of his eyebrows how feverishly delirious Win sounds to him right now.
Win groans. “Team, it was a dare. Here.” He catches the back of Team’s neck and darts in, touching his lips to Team’s with the barest hint of contact. “That’s all it was.” Then he leans in again and kisses Team properly.
Team’s not entirely sure why he lets him—except that it’s Win, and Win gets away with a lot of things on the strength of: 1) his charm, 2) his good looks, and 3) Team’s annoying feelings for him.
When they part, Team says, “You better have only meant that first kiss, hia,” with decidedly less conviction than he had when he got here.
Win makes a rude noise in the back of his throat and rolls his eyes. “Kissing Dean made me think I was straight. I prefer not to think about it if I can avoid it.”
Team barks out a laugh and immediately covers his mouth, but it’s too late. Win gives him a conspiratorial grin and kisses his cheek. “Cute,” he whispers.
Team shoves his chest without much effort, struggling to keep his smile noncommittal.
Win says, “Imagine kissing Pharm.”
“Eugh, no,” Team says.
“There,” Win says, amused. “You get it.”
“Huh,” Team says. Then he frowns. “Your first kiss sucked, hia.”
Win laughs. “I mean, it wasn’t great, no.” He sifts his fingers through the back of Team’s hair, smiling as he massages Team’s neck with his fingertips. “Would’ve been nicer if it’d been you.”
It’s the sincerity that’s lethal. A handful of words and Team’s entire core is melting. It takes every iota of willpower he’s built up over the course of his lifetime not to duck his head and laugh like Pharm does whenever Dean flirts with him.
Win grins like he can tell anyway. He tugs Team closer by the neck and murmurs, “You know you’re hot when you’re jealous, right?”
Team rolls his eyes. “Why does everything make you horny?”
Win says, “I’ll tell you later,” and initiates the third kiss of many more for the evening.
This is Dean’s recollection:
“We’d never kissed anyone before. They dared us to kiss, so we did, and it was weird.”