Waking up the morning after having sex with Team was a delight. Win felt lazy and content, if a little sore. He chalked the soreness up to the stress and anxiety that happened earlier in the day, however. That, and spending too long sitting on the floor, hunched over notes from his graduate degree. As Win laid on his back, Team was curled up against his side, an arm and leg draped over Win’s body, head on his shoulder, snoring softly in a deep sleep. Win didn’t want to wake him, but couldn’t resist placing a kiss to Team’s forehead and gently running his fingers through the sleeping man’s hair.
Team shifted in his sleep, nuzzling into Win and sighing. His arm tightened the grip around Win’s chest and Win brought his other hand up to rest atop Team’s, stroking a thumb over his knuckles. As he looked down at Team’s sleeping face, he thought back over everything that happened the previous day. Thoughts came in a jumble, out of order: the image of Team cleaning up the broken glass, the phone call with Dean, finding the list of wedding venues, the dauntingly extensive list of insecurities, and then the voice of Team, saying he loves Win, wants him, is his.
He looked down with something akin to awe at the man laying on his chest. Team really did want him. He stuck around through a confusing, nebulous beginning of their relationship, stayed with Win for two years, waited for him while he was out of the country, and was now staying by his side despite the amnesia. Win’s memory of his dating experiences wasn’t exactly terrible. He had amicable breakups, was friends with most of his exes, but they had a tendency to decide that Win was too good for them, or left because they weren’t really interested in something serious with him. Rarely was it the case that Win broke up with them. He didn’t know what the couple years between where his memories left off and when he met Team were like. Much of the same, Win figured, but then something strange happened with Team.
Considering what Team told Win about how their relationship started, it was kind of miraculous that they were where they are now. Win tried to imagine the scenes that Team had told him about: offering to jerk him off at the swim club retreat, charging him a kiss for tutoring, late nights when he couldn’t sleep, coming to Win’s dorm to be held. They all seemed vague and unfamiliar, though he had his current situation as reference for holding a sleeping Team, and had recently helped him through a nightmare. Moving the scenario to a dorm room bed in his imagination didn’t feel as familiar as a memory, however. Win took in a deep breath and sighed it out heavily. The shifting of his chest made Team stir; he hummed and stretched.
“What time is it?” Team’s voice was muffled by the way his cheek was pressed against Win.
“Early still,” he massaged Team’s scalp, drawing a pleased hum from him. “You can go back to sleep.”
Team yawned and lifted himself up on one arm, before ultimately giving up and flopping back down on Win with a thud.
“Oof!” Win laughed and rolled them onto their sides, facing one another, “You’re heavy.”
“All my muscles,” he murmured, eyes still closed. “You like it.”
Team was teasing him, more than informing him of this. Win was sure of that, despite the flat way Team had said it, “Not when all those muscles fall like a brick on me.”
With a soft laugh, Team leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Win’s, eyes remaining closed.
“Not going to swim practice today?” Win used long fingers to gently comb some hair from Team’s brow.
“No,” he sighed slowly. “Probably too many bruises left by someone.”
“You said you didn’t care last night,” Win reminded him, and Team just smiled in response. “Or is it really that I just wore you out?”
He snorted, “Sure, hia, we’ll say that.”
“Do I ever tell you that you’re hard to read? Or ... I guess by now I’m normally just used to reading you.”
“Mm, sometimes,” Team blinked his eyes open and met Win’s gaze.
“Sometimes to which?”
“Sometimes it’s hard for you to read me, but you’re better at it now-- or were, I guess. It’s weird.”
“It’s definitely weird,” Win agreed and smiled at Team, who smiled back, though there was some sadness in it.
“We have... mm, I can be bad at talking about my ... feelings and stuff, so there are things I say that you normally just understand, so I don’t have to spell it out.”
“Like... last night, when you said you needed me?”
Team closed his eyes and nodded.
“Normally you’d get that, in a moment like that, so I don’t have to ... say it.”
“It was kind of hot when you did, though. Just saying.”
Team groaned and turned his head towards the mattress, but couldn’t fully hide. His cheek was a light pink color, “Hiaaa...”
“So you-- we have some things that are short-hand, then, for when you can’t say it and then other times I still have trouble reading you?” Even as Win asked this, he wasn’t really sure what the purpose of it was. It wasn’t as though he could snap his fingers and get back to that stage.
“Yeah, uh,” he lifted his head again, though he was still blushing faintly. “Sometimes you just get me, sometimes I need to use some words but ... not all of them, and sometimes you still need to make me actually talk about what’s going on.”
Win nodded, “I guess that’s probably the case for all relationships, huh?”
Team shrugged, “I really only have experience dating you. I guess I’ve seen how P’Dean and Pharm are together, and Manaow and P’Pruk. But Pharm and P’Dean are basically destined to be together.”
“What’s up with that, by the way? I know Dean had always been waiting for someone, but... what happened when they found each other?”
“Honestly? I still don’t really know all the details. The two of them just always knew they were waiting for someone. Pharm told me and Manaow about it when we were newly friends... and he and P’Dean flirted with one another for a while, then got together pretty quick. What I know from you, P’Dean had always been waiting for Pharm and had the same kind of reaction when he saw Pharm? They both just stared at each other. A lot. They stared so much.”
Win couldn’t help but laugh at that description of them staring at each other a lot. He could imagine it from Dean, who was always quiet, but couldn’t picture Pharm staring off the same way. “They got married recently, though, after I got back from England?”
“Mm-hmm, P’Dean was waiting until Pharm graduated, but they had been planning it for a long time. We all knew it was going to happen practically since the end of first year. P’Dean still made a big thing of proposing to Pharm last year.”
“I bet that was cute.”
“You cried,” Team said off hand.
“I-- what--” Win floundered and wanted to immediately deny it, though he had no memory of the event. “At the proposal ? The wedding, sure, probably, but I cried at the proposal?”
Team laughed at him and nodded, “You were home from England for a break and blamed it on missing everyone so much.”
“But-- it-- did--” Win clamped his mouth shut and huffed, then started again, “It was probably just a few little tears, though, right?”
Taking mercy on him, Team nodded and shifted forward to kiss Win’s forehead. “Yeah, I was the only one who saw.”
“Good, then my reputation is saved,” Win sighed in faux dramatics.
“Pretty much everyone got a little weepy at the wedding, but Manaow was so dramatic that she’s the only one anyone remembers crying. Well, and Pharm and P’Dean. They both did, but you know... it was their wedding.”
“Mm, yeah, I could see that,” Win nodded once, then looked over at Team and grinned. “Do you think you’d cry at our wedding?”
The reaction Win was expecting was not the reaction Team had.
He had expected Team to roll his eyes or blush or shout “Hia” and smack him. Instead, Team became suddenly solemn and cast his eyes down to Win’s chest, chewing his bottom lip. It felt like a knife stabbed Win straight in the heart and he instantly regretted the teasing.
“Sorry, I-- that wasn’t a...”
Team shook his head but didn’t lift his eyes, “It’s alright, hia.”
“We... we aren’t... I didn’t forget that we’re...”
“Engaged?” Team finally looked up. He held his own left hand between them, “Have you noticed a ring on either of our fingers?”
That should have been a relief to Win. It wasn’t. He took Team’s hand and wrapped his fingers around it, pulling it up to press a kiss to Team’s knuckles, “I’m so sorry, Team.”
“You’re alive, and you’re still here,” Team tightened his grasp on Win’s hand. “That’s all that matters.”
Win nodded and tried to believe that was true.
The day progressed in a lazy yet somewhat productive manner. The rest of their furniture was delivered and set up. Win called his mother and asked her for the information the hospital had given them about going to therapy and despite not really being used to such things, Win scheduled an appointment to see someone. He figured a panic attack was a good reason to start going and Team had also encouraged him to do so as well. Team called Pharm and set up a date to actually go visit them for dinner.
The next day, Team went back to swim practice and Win spent most of his time studying, both school and general history of what happened in Thailand and the world in the last few years. A surprising amount of time was devoted to scrolling through the social media accounts of his friends. There were also a lot of messages on facebook that he hadn’t checked -- friends and acquaintances asking if he was alright after they heard the news of the accident. Some he recognized, some he didn’t. Everyone got the same kind of message back, about how he was physically alright and recovering.
The day following that, Win had his appointment with his therapist and it went a lot better than he had expected. They mostly just talked about what was going on in his life right now and the therapist got to know who he was as a person. She was a nice, middle aged woman named Jade, who had a husband, two kids, and a cat (pictures of all of them were framed in her office). Overall, he liked Jade a lot and was happy to go back to see her again. She gave him some homework to do, but it was mostly tactics to deal with his anxiety and how to notice when he was getting anxious, so that a panic attack wouldn’t sneak up on him again. Shockingly, she didn’t have some secret method of bringing all of his memories back in an instant.
That afternoon, View came over to get Win and take him to the family home to spend some time with them. For some reason, he still didn’t want to drive anywhere, neither by car nor by motorcycle (which now resided at the house instead of Team’s condo). He figured he should bring that up with the therapist at a future session, or ask Team about it, or both. Despite going with the intention of spending time with his family, what he ended up doing was talking to his father about work for the majority of the visit.
Obviously, he didn’t remember anything from graduate school or most of his time in undergrad, but he had already been balancing the books back when he was a teenager, so Win could still be of some use to the company. They agreed that he could come back for a few days a week to start learning things again, whenever he was ready to do so. His mother had passed along that he was going to therapy, so his father didn’t want to rush him into anything he wasn’t ready for. Win was eternally grateful for his kind and understanding family. He also thought that, perhaps, going back might spark something and he might remember technical aspects of the job just by doing it.
After work talk was done, Wan dragged him off to play video games together, because he was apparently looking forward to destroying Win in every game now that he had forgotten how to play them all. Win was pleased when he beat Wan on the second round of a fighting game after some very skillful button mashing tactics. Wan muttered about beginners' luck and proceeded to defeat Win in every following match up. Win was saved when Team showed up at the house and his mother called them all together for dinner.
Win fully expected that they would return to their home after dinner, but Wan and Team decided to continue playing games, so that’s what the three boys did. Win and Team played together against Wan and it was amazing, because Team was very, very good at video games, and they won most of the time. The teasing of Hia Wan that ensued absolutely made Win’s day. They all played so late into the night that Win and Team ended up staying over in his childhood bedroom together, and returning home in the morning.
Nights with Team were always nice. Whatever happened throughout the day, they always ended up in each other’s arms at night. Sometimes they made out, sometimes they had sex, and sometimes they just slept. Win also discovered that he and Team didn’t have just one standard sleeping position, they could lay on their sides facing one another, back to back, or spooning (and apparently either of them could be the big spoon), or with one of them on their back and the other curled on his side against him, or even mostly separated, apart from holding hands in some way. If they ever fell asleep in that last position, Win found that he always woke up with Team pressed against him in some fashion. They had also gone at least a week since Team’s last nightmare, so Win took that as a good sign.
On the third day, Team and Win had their plans to go visit Dean and Pharm in the evening. Team went to swim practice that morning, Win spent time studying once again, this time documents his father had emailed over about the company, all of the hotels and resorts they currently held, and the job Win had done there. The company had grown a lot bigger than he remembered it being, with even more locations than before. He expected all of the information to be rather daunting, but so much of it was familiar enough from the memories he retained that it wasn’t so bad.
Time flew by as Win read through the various documents, it came as nearly a shock when Team walked through the front door calling out that he was home. Win blinked and checked the clock on his laptop to see it was already past three in the afternoon. Team leaned on the doorframe, hair damp, smiling at Win on the couch.
“Hey,” he said and lifted a bag, “I picked up some wine on the way home. We can take it with us tonight.”
“Oh wow, we’re really adults, aren’t we?” Win chuckled and closed his laptop, setting it on the coffee table. “We take wine to their house?”
Team rolled his eyes and grinned, “Yeah, I think P’Dean and Pharm are the adults more than we are. We really only drink wine there... or out at one of your family’s events or something.”
Win stood and walked over to Team, leaning on the other side of the door frame to kiss him sweetly on the lips. It felt very domestic, but very natural at the same time. He’d been playing house with Team for weeks now; maybe he wasn’t playing anymore, just living it. “Do you need a shower?”
“Yeah, I just did a quick rinse after practice,” Team stole another kiss from Win before pulling back to head towards the stairs, setting the wine bottle on the hall table along the way. Win followed him up.
“How did it go today? Beat any of your times?” Since Team had gone back to practice, he had been keeping Win updated on his progress and how well he was doing, what competition prospects were on the horizon, and if he was going to try to compete in them.
“My backstroke has gotten better, I was one second faster, freestyle is the same. We’re doing relays now, too,” Team yawned and stretched once they got to the bedroom, pulling off his shirt and tossing it into the hamper, paying no mind to Win ogling his back.
“That’s great,” Win had to distract himself with picking out what to wear tonight so he didn’t get lost in how gorgeous Team was. “Do you like relays?”
“Depends on who I’m teamed up with, but yeah, they’re fine. I usually get placed third or fourth to make up any time lost by the first or second swimmers.”
“Mm, my star athlete,” Win grinned broadly at Team, who rolled his eyes and failed to hide a blush just before he ducked into the bathroom.
“Shut up, hia, get dressed, I’m showering.” The door slammed shut and Win simply laughed.
Dean and Pharm’s house really was close to Team and Win’s; it only took about ten minutes to drive there. The married couple’s house was bigger, however, and in a slightly nicer neighborhood. It didn’t surprise Win at all to see Dean in a house such as this, but he did wonder why he and Team were in a smaller, somewhat cheaper home. Surely, they could have afforded one like this on Win’s salary alone -- then it occurred to Win, perhaps Team insisted on an even split of costs. That would be the most logical reason for the difference.
Team led the way to the front door and Win carried the bottle of wine. Pharm answered the door quickly after they rang the bell and immediately the smaller man lit up with excitement at seeing the pair of them. No matter how many times Win saw Pharm, he was always amused by how incredibly cute he was, nearly the polar opposite of Dean. Pharm threw his arms around Team in a big hug, which Team returned readily, wrapping his arms around the shorter man.
“I’m so glad you guys were able to come over!” Pharm ushered Team in, then turned to hug Win. “Hi, P’Win! I hope you’re hungry!”
Dean stood just inside the door, holding it open and smiling at Team and Win as they entered. He simply shared a nod with Team once Pharm released him.
“I’m definitely hungry,” Team said, once inside.
“You’re always hungry,” Pharm teased and the four men moved into the house.
Win clapped Dean on the shoulder as a manner of greeting and passed him the bottle of wine. He looked around the expansive home as Pharm led them all in.
“I went to swim practice today, can you blame me?” Team whined back, following Pharm.
Dean fell into step beside Win as the two younger men led the way. They kept a slower pace, so Win could take in the new place -- new to him, anyway. He and Team had been here before, of course, but it felt like the first time to Win. Team glanced back over his shoulder at Win, checking on him, and Win offered him a smile and a nod to say he was alright, and so his boyfriend went along with Pharm, presumably into the kitchen.
“So you guys drink wine, huh?” Win asked Dean, brow raised.
Dean laughed, more a puff of air through his nose, “You drink wine, too.”
“At home ?” Win raised a brow at Dean.
“Uhh... actually, I don’t know,” he shook his head. “You guys don’t exactly host sit down dinners unless Pharm is cooking.”
“Tell me, do you even have beer in the house?”
“Yes, we have beer in the house,” Dean rolled his eyes and walked on ahead, leading Win to the kitchen. Just before they walked in, he leaned down to speak softly, “And my husband isn’t a light weight like your boyfriend.”
Win’s eyes went wide and he looked from Dean to the aforementioned pair in the kitchen. “Team?” he mouthed at Dean.
Dean nodded solemnly.
“Wow, good to know,” he whispered, then moved fully into the kitchen, which looked like a smaller version of a professional kitchen. It was spacious, immaculately clean, with plenty of counter space to work on, fancy equipment, and full of delicious smells. There were several components being made all at once, though Win presumed most of them were already done, or else Pharm wouldn’t have been the one to meet them at the door.
As he and Team chatted away, trading teasing remarks, Pharm expertly finished up putting together all the different parts of their meal -- smacking Team’s hand away any time he tried to steal a bite. It was like watching an artist at work. His hands moved swiftly, going from pot to pan to plate with grace and ease. Win found himself captivated by the sight. If Pharm couldn’t teach the pair of them how to cook, it must have been hopeless for him and Team. No wonder they weren’t the ones to host dinner parties.
Dean bumped his shoulder into Win’s and drew his attention away from the display of a professional chef at work. “Pretty impressive, huh?”
“Are you gloating?” Win asked.
“Maybe,” he smirked.
“Team!” Pharm chastised, “How about instead of trying to steal food, you just help me move it all to the table?”
“Fiiiine,” Team’s voice sounded like a whiny teenager, but he was smiling brightly and already helping Pharm gather up the serving dishes.
“P’Dean can you grab these last two?” He nodded to a platter and bowl on the counter, then moved off towards the dining table to show Team where to put his dishes.
“Of course,” Dean did as he was asked, and Win joined in, carrying the bowl while Dean took the platter.
Once the table was set, Dean poured wine for everyone and they all toasted to family and friends before digging into the meal. Conversation around the table was fairly mundane. Each of them talked about what they had going on recently. Pharm talked about the success of the restaurant and one small gripe with a junior chef who wasn’t showing up on time lately. Team talked about an upcoming competition he was considering trying out for. Dean talked to Win about the business he was in these days. Win updated them on his progress learning about his family’s company. All between that, multiple compliments to Pharm’s cooking were passed around, all of which Pharm took graciously with sweet smiles and raised shoulders.
There was far more food than everyone at the table could eat and Win pointed this out as everyone started to get full.
“Pharm always does this, so he can send us home with food to eat,” Team explained.
“I don’t know how you two survive,” Pharm shook his head, frowning gravely.
“It’s true, we’d starve without you, Pharm. Please come over and cook for us all the time? You could live in the spare room! P’Dean could visit you on weekends.” Team held both hands together, pleading to Pharm.
“I don’t think so,” Dean said, voice severe.
“Ah, true, Dean would starve without his chef to feed him,” Win grinned over at Dean, “I’m sure you eat him ev--”
“Win,” Dean sternly warned before the sentence was even finished, but his eyes were light.
Ah, good, Win thought, this kind of teasing was still something they did, despite being grown. He cleared his throat and grinned, “I mean, Dean would miss his sweet husband very much.”
Pharm laughed and shook his head, not bothered by Win’s teasing, “I’d miss him, too!”
“I guess we’ll just settle for him sending us home with food,” Team sighed dramatically, resting his cheek on his chin and frowning.
“And this is why I make extra, P’Win,” Pharm spread his hands out to encompass the whole table, as though this were a conversation that happened every time they were together.
They chatted and joked for a little while longer before Pharm got up to start clearing plates away. Team stood to join him, gathering dishes. Win was about to do the same when Pharm reached for something near him and caught his eye.
“Hey... I helped Dean pick that out,” Win said, pointing to the bracelet on Pharm’s wrist. He hadn’t noticed it until that moment.
Pharm looked down at his wrist, then back up at Win, confused, “What?”
Win blinked back at him, looked down at the bracelet again, and furrowed his brows. It was three black cords woven together in an intricate style with beads and ornaments worked into it. He absolutely remembered the bracelet. Looking back up at Pharm, then over to Dean, who was also staring, he blinked again. “Was that a secret? Were you not supposed to know? We found it while we were out of town on a swim meet.”
“P’Dean bought this for me,” Pharm said simply.
“You mean, because he knew he’d give it to you once he found you?” Win tipped his head.
“I was looking for something for Pharm when you helped me pick it out,” Dean said, as if that was supposed to make it all make more sense.
“Hia, that happened after P’Dean and Pharm met. I was on that trip with you,” Team’s voice was a little more strained than before and the tone made Win look over at the man.
“You mean...” Win blinked again.
“That happened while you and P’Dean were in your fourth year. After we all met,” Team clarified.
“Oh...” he looked back at the bracelet on Pharm’s wrist, then up to his face, then over to Dean. “I remember the shop and seeing the bracelets... and you wanted something nice, and showed me two or three, and I said that one was the best.”
“That’s exactly what happened,” Dean confirmed.
Win’s heartbeat quickened, “So I remembered something.”
“You did, hia,” Team stepped towards him and set a hand on Win’s hip. He was smiling up at him, looking hopeful.
“I don’t remember you being there, though...” Win frowned as he looked at Team, he wanted so badly to remember Team, not Pharm’s jewelry.
Team just laughed and shook his head, “Because I was with Mew, or someone else at the time. You also bought something for me while you were there.”
“Mm, a necklace, made of hemp, with seashells woven into it.” He gently poked Win in the side and frowned, “You remember Pharm’s gift but not mine?”
“Hey...” Win frowned, “Maybe if you wore it, I would remember that, too!”
Team laughed again, “I’m teasing, hia, it’s fine. I’m just happy you remembered something!”
“It’s so exciting, P’Win!” Pharm chimed in.
“Figures that the first thing you remember is that you had to help me pick out my gift,” Dean said around a smirk.
Win draped an arm around Team’s shoulders, “It’s not my fault I have better taste than you, surely your husband already knows this.”
Pharm snickered and when Dean looked over to him, an expression of betrayal on his face, Pharm quickly gestured to the table, “I’ll go ahead and clear these away. You and Team take a moment to enjoy this.”
Team hid a laugh behind a fist, perhaps in fear of Dean, but Win smiled a bright, shit-eating grin at Dean, “Thanks Nong Pharm, you’re the sweetest!”
“P’Dean, help me take these away,” Pharm said before giggling and carrying things to the kitchen. Dean followed after him, arms full of dishes.
Win and Team watched them go, then turned to full face one another, both of Team’s hands on his waist now.
“Tell me what you remember, hia.”
“I remember the stall, it had all kinds of different water and beach themed things. I guess it was a resort town near a beach.” He closed his eyes and tried to envision the place, Dean holding up the three choices he had narrowed down. “It must have been near the ocean, it smelled like salt water there.”
“It was,” Team confirmed and Win opened his eyes. “There were shops all along the waterfront, stalls in an open-air market. You and P’Dean went off on your own so all of the juniors could have fun without worrying about you guys watching over us. Well, mostly without worrying about P’Dean.”
Win chuckled and nodded, “And how come you didn’t come with me?”
“Because I was having fun where P’Dean couldn’t yell at me, and so I could eat all the Lays I wanted without you messing with me,” Team grinned up at him and Win had to laugh again.
“And then I bought you a gift, too...” Win said, more to himself than to Team. He tried to go back to that memory and whether he could think about necklaces there on display at the stall. Giving up, he shook his head and frowned at Team, “I guess I must have gotten your necklace somewhere else.”
“When we go home, I’ll show it to you, maybe it will be familiar.”
“Okay, baby,” Win tightened his arm around Team’s shoulders and drew him in for a kiss to the forehead.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember, too, hia,” he said softly, head still bowed so that Win’s lips could linger on his forehead longer.
Win turned his head to press his cheek to the spot he kissed, “I want to remember.”
“I know, me too...” Team swallowed after speaking, then hugged him tightly about the middle. “It will happen when it happens.”
Holding Team tightly, Win wondered who the words were meant to comfort, him or Team. Perhaps he spoke to comfort both of them. They stood holding one another for a while, before Dean made a point of loudly entering the room, to give them enough time to collect themselves before being caught in a private moment. They stepped apart and Team cleared his throat and quickly turned his attention to the table, finding something to pick up.
“We should help them clean up.”
“Mm, yeah,” Win agreed and did the same. Between the two of them and Dean, they got the rest of the dishes with food on them into the kitchen, where Pharm was dutifully packing everything up.
Team bowed his head a little said, “I’ll clear away the dirty dishes, P’Dean.”
“Thanks,” Dean smiled at him, then he and Win watched Team duck out of the kitchen. Once gone, Dean looked at Win and nodded towards the other door leading in the opposite direction of the dining room. They left the kitchen to Pharm and Team and headed towards a room with a couple chairs, bookshelves, two small tables, and a couple of liquor bottles off to the side on a bar cart. It looked like the kind of room their fathers would have.
They both claimed a seat and Win tried to relax. He glanced over at the door, then back at Dean.
“We should let Team have some time with Pharm,” Dean said, as explanation. Win knew exactly what he was doing, using Team getting quality time with his friend to give Win an excuse to do the same. It worked, too.
“He’s been having a hard time...” Win frowned.
Dean nodded, “I’m sure you’ve been helping him the best you can.”
Win took a deep breath in and sighed it out. He leaned heavily back in the chair and looked up at the ceiling. “It’s kind of hard when I’m the reason he’s hurting.”
Dean said nothing, but Win knew what he was doing. He was giving Win the time and space to voice what was in his head, without immediately responding.
“I don’t know what to do... because I know that when he looks at me, he wants to see the Win he knows... and instead he’s got me, and I comfort him when and how I can but... I just hope it’s enough... enough for him to get through this.” Win lowered his head again and stared forward, not ready to look at Dean yet.
“What about you? How are you getting along? Honestly, Win.”
Win let out a dry laugh and shook his head, “I guess about as good as I can be?” Finally, he looked over at Dean and saw concern on his friend’s face. “I feel stronger some days than others. Team is... honestly, he’s amazing. Waking up to find myself in a relationship with him is kind of like a dream come true, apart from the whole... ‘Not remembering the past six years’ part of it.”
“You told me before that Team was the best thing that ever happened to you,” when Dean said this, Win smiled. Then he went on, “I haven’t heard it from Team, but I’m sure he feels the same way about you.”
“Can I ask something that’s probably dumb?”
“I don’t know, if it’s you, it could be really dumb...” Dean looked sidelong at him and it made Win laugh, letting out some of the tension that was quietly growing within him.
“You and Pharm are married... How come Team and I aren’t even engaged yet? Is there... some reason I don’t know about?”
Dean frowned and didn’t answer right away, but that was pretty par for the course with Dean. He tended to think before speaking and chose his words carefully. “It’s a little complicated. Pharm and I were able to live in the same city for the last four and a half years, and we could move in together. You and Team were separated for two years, which was something you were both worried about when it happened.”
“Were we worried that we would break up?”
“Well...” he tipped his head, then shook it. “You never said those words, that you thought he would break up with you, but I think it scared you.”
Win nodded, not sure what to say or what to think of that.
“I think you believed in him too much to doubt him, but two years apart was a long time, and the biggest challenge to your relationship either of you had faced. And... you had been with him longer than anyone else you had dated at that point.”
“So... if we were going to get engaged...”
“Mm,” Dean nodded, following Win’s train of thought. “It would have been around this point in your relationship.”
“Then I had to go and get hit by a car.”
“Right after signing for your house.”
“Not helping, Dean,” Win glared at him and Dean chuckled, lifting his hands in surrender.
“Look, Win,” he leaned forward, bracing forearms on his knees, and stared straight at Win. “I know that Pharm and I met at the same time you and Team did, but our paths aren’t the same. Just because we’re married and you two aren’t doesn’t mean anything about your relationship. We have other friends who have been dating as long as us and they aren’t married either. So let go of that. Team isn’t going anywhere, that’s the last thing you need to worry about.”
Taking a slow breath and nodding, Win agreed to try and let it go.
“So, other than unfounded paranoia that the guy who is in love with you will leave you, how are you doing?”
“You should have been a doctor, your bedside manner is impeccable.”
“Just answer the question, idiot.”
Win couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t know... Apparently I have a lot of anxiety. It comes out of nowhere, but suddenly my chest feels really tight and I get really tense. I guess that’s common when your entire life gets turned upside down. The doctors said I should go to therapy to help cope with the memory loss, so... I’ve started doing that.”
“That’s good. There was a time when Pharm and I probably should have done that.”
“Wait, what? Really?”
“Mm. It’s a long story, one I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again if you don’t eventually remember, but not tonight. You have enough to think about already. We just dealt with some really heavy things our first year together, and found out that people in our families had committed suicide before we were born, because they were gay and couldn’t be together.”
“Wait, someone in Pharm’s family dated someone in your family?”
Dean nodded, “It’s ... very complicated and neither of us met them. They died when they were the same age that Pharm and I met.”
“Pharm and I half way broke up for a little while during our first year together, and ... well, the point is, sometimes dealing with really difficult things is hard to do on your own. And when the person you would turn to for comfort is also hurting, it’s good to have someone else to turn to. A friend, or a therapist.”
“So what you’re saying is... you and Pharm purposely just separated me and Team so you could be friends to us.”
“Maybe.” Dean’s lips turned up in a smirk.
“Very clever,” Win laughed.
“You were there for me and Team was there for Pharm. Of course we’ll be here for you both.”
“We don’t have to hug now, do we?”
Win laughed and stood up, “Oh, now that you said it that way, we definitely have to hug.” He dragged Dean to his feet and forced him into a hug.
Despite pretending to hate it, he actually wrapped Win up in a strong and comforting embrace. Dean ran a hand solidly over Win’s back and let him stay there for longer than Win expected. Just as Win was starting to feel the prickle of heat behind his eyes, he pulled back and cleared his throat.
“Think Pharm and Team are done with their heart-to-heart?”
“Only one way to find out,” Dean shrugged and gestured for Win to go back the way they came in. “So how much trouble are you in for remembering Pharm’s gift and not Team’s?”
Win laughed, “Not too much, I don’t think. I’ll let you know later if I am.”
Dean shook his head, but kept on smiling. They walked through a hall with photos on the wall of Dean, Pharm, their families and friends, which Win hadn’t noticed the first time they passed. One group photo in particular caught his eye, but he kept walking in pace with Dean until they entered the kitchen.
Pharm was leaning against the counter, facing Team, whose back was to the entryway where Dean and Win came in. He wore a sympathetic frown on his face just before his eyes flicked to the side and he greeted the two seniors. Team’s hand moved up to his face just before he turned around and smiled. Win wasn’t sure if it was a random hand movement or if Team was quickly swiping away a tear, but either way he moved immediately to the younger man’s side and draped an arm around his shoulders.
Team leaned into that hold, wrapping one arm around Win’s waist and shoving his other hand into his pocket. Dean moved in behind Pharm, holding the smaller man back against his chest, arms around his middle. Pharm was already the smallest of the four, but compared to Dean, the tallest of them all, he looked especially tiny. It was really cute, Win decided, and he wondered if people ever looked at him and Team and thought they looked cute.
“All the food is packed up and ready to go for you guys, P’Win,” Pharm said, gesturing to a couple bags on the kitchen counter. He then let his hands rest on top of Dean’s wrists, smiling as he leaned back against his husband.
“I guess we should probably head out soon,” Team said, then bowed respectfully, “Thank you so much for everything.”
“It’s always a pleasure to have you both over! And P’Win remembered something! Team told me that was your first full memory, Phi.”
“It was, maybe that means we should come over for dinner more often.”
“You should!” Pharm smiled brightly. “Or even just come over to spend some time visiting. Or we can come to you guys.”
“Yeah, I guess we haven’t really had anyone over to the house properly...” Team said, squeezing his arm around Win.
“It’s not exactly a good time for a housewarming party,” Dean added.
“Oh hey, speaking of parties,” Win piped up and they all looked at him curiously. “Not... because I want to have one, but there’s a picture I saw out there and I wanted to take a look at it.”
“Oh, sure,” Pharm nodded and pulled away from Dean to grab the bags of food, only to have Dean take them for him. The group headed back out to the hall and Win stopped in front of the photograph he had seen a moment ago.
“This one,” he pointed to the group of friends all standing together in some kind of cabin. Win recognized most of them, but not everyone. He and Team were standing together at one side, hair wet. Around them, he recognized Dean, Pharm, Pruk, the girl he had come to learn was Manaow, Dean’s little sister Del, and some others.
“Ahh, this was from a party, yeah,” Pharm agreed. “It was last year, we rented a big house in the mountains for a long weekend. You and P’Dean just graduated from university and you were about to leave for England. Team, Manaow, Del and I had just finished big projects and final exams for our classes, so we all got together to relax at a resort.”
Team didn’t say anything, he just leaned back against Win’s chest as they looked at the pictures, not unlike the pose Dean and Pharm had a moment ago. Win snaked an arm around Team’s waist and pointed at the two of them in the photo. “How come everyone else is dry but us?”
“I don’t actually remember...” Pharm said, looking over at Team for the answer.
“We were in the hottub,” Team said easily.
“Oh, that’s right! We wanted to take the picture and couldn’t find you. Manaow found you guys outside and made you come in!” Pharm turned his attention to Win, “You guys were crazy, it was so cold outside at night. You were the only ones who wanted to go out there.”
Win looked at Pharm’s confounded face, then glanced up at Dean, who was smirking and looking away. There had to be more to the story than Pharm knew and neither Team nor Dean was saying it. “I like it, could you send me a copy?”
“I have a copy, hia,” Team said before Pharm could answer.
“Great,” Win tightened his arm around Team briefly, before turning to Pharm and Dean. “Thanks again for dinner and everything. It was really great.”
“Of course! Any time,” Pharm beamed a smile at them, and that’s when Dean turned back to the group, smirk gone as if it were never there.
“We’ll walk you out,” he gestured with one of the bags in his hand, then the group headed towards the door. More thanks, more hugs, and more food than Team and Win could likely eat over the next two days passed between them. After final goodnights were said, Team and Win put their shoes on and were out the door heading for Team’s car.
They had just pulled out of the driveway and turned onto the road when Win looked over at Team and asked, “So what happened in the hottub?”
Team grinned and glanced over at Win, “What do you think happened?”
Win blinked at him, a little astonished, “Did we have sex in the hottub? Before Manaow came looking for us?”
“I guess that depends on if you consider handjobs sex,” Team said with a straight face as he turned at a traffic light.
“We jerked each other off where our friends could find us... Damn, we’re bold,” Win blinked, shaking his head.
Team laughed, “I guess I didn’t specify that the very first time you gave me a handjob when you found me trying to take a cold shower at training camp, we were also outside.”
“How in the world are you the same man that got shy when I held your hand in a restaurant in front of Dean?” Win was absolutely bewildered.
Team only laughed and kept driving.