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cozy on up by the fireplace

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I’ve got to start getting used to this, Arthit thought as he stood frozen on a flight of stairs. The steps lead up to the door of a several meters long, stark white private jet.

Nothing should surprise him anymore, not with who he was dating. But there he was, still gaping like a fish out of water.

When Kongpob had asked him to join him on a trip during his school holiday, he’d expected to board a public airplane with upgraded first class tickets. He’d imagined extra leg room, and now he could have an entire row of seats to himself if he so wished.

A hand came to cover his own, the one that was holding onto his backpack strap. Kongpob took the bag into his own arms, slinging it around his shoulder. He smiled widely, as if he was daring Arthit to pester him.

Rolling his eyes, he climbed the rest of the stairs, shaking his head at the sound of Kongpob’s laughter that followed after him.

“Have you ever been to America?” Ae asked, picking up each of Pete’s suitcases and handing them to the nice man packaging the cargo hold.

“A few times,” Pete admitted, readjusting the strap on his cross-body satchel. “It was a long time ago, back when my parents were still married. It was always for my father’s business though, so it wasn’t very fun.”

Stepping beside Ae, he hooked their arms together. “But now I get to go with you. That will be way more fun.”

Ae leaned over to kiss his cheek. “So fun. Let’s get on the plane, yeah? I’ll let you have the window seat.”

Pete was quick to grab his hand and pull him on board.

With as late of a departure as they had, Kit managed to get plenty of sleep. Not long after takeoff, he’d fallen slack against Ming’s shoulder, dead to the world. He’d dozed on and off, but by the time they began their descent, he was wide awake.

He couldn’t see much from the window with how dark it was outside. He could only make out city lights, bright and plentiful. Flittering past them were speckles of white.

Pressing a bit closer, he watched in awe. He’d only ever seen snow in movies, but that couldn’t compare to this. Little flakes would stick to the glass, intricate patterns melting as soon as they landed.

“You know, they say no two snowflakes are the same,” Ming whispered, mouth pressing kisses into his shoulder. “Every one of them is different. Pretty special, don’t you think?”

Kit drew his eyes away from the window and towards his boyfriend. His hair was messy from the nap he’d taken, and he was flashing him a dreamy smile, one that took so little effort to look as beautiful as it was.

Falling back against his chest, Kit nuzzled up beneath his chin. Ming must have been his snowflake then, he concluded. Because he was the most special.

Can puffed little breaths, reveling in the way they swirled through the air like smoke clouds. He’d never seen anything like it, but with how cold it was here, he was able to see every exhale.

His ears that had gone numb from the chill were engulfed in warmth. Feeling around the top of his head, he felt a hat instead of hair. That hand was then taken into a much larger one, that too growing warmer.

“You’re going to get sick,” Tin said, tugging him close to his side. “I was afraid you ran out here to jump in the snow. Like a puppy.”

“Woof,” Can teased, burying his hands into his coat pockets. It had been the only thing his boyfriend had managed to give to him before he’d bolted down the steps and off the plane. Now that they were covered, he could feel just how cold they’d gotten.

“I do want to play in the snow though. Those snow angels you always see in movies? I’ve always wanted to make one!” He stepped into the opening in the center of Tin’s jacket, wrapping his arms around his waist beneath it. “Will you make them with me?”

Because Tin was Tin, he huffed, creating his own small smoke cloud, but Can could see the beginnings of a smile growing at the corners of his mouth. Endearment, Can thought, and it had him squeezing him tighter.

“Sure,” Tin agreed. “We’ll succumb to frostbite together.”

The gates their car drove through, tall and a sleek black, clearly were not just for show. The large house that sat beyond them undoubtedly needed any protection it could get.

Its sheer size alone had Kit craning his neck upwards to get a look at every floor. Large windows were paired with even larger doors, wood stained white to compliment the varying taupes of the bricks. Pillars outlined the entrance, a walkway of marble leading them to where they’d be staying for the next several days.

As they passed what could only be considered a small forest of trees, branches blanketed in a thick layer of snow, Kit sat back in his seat and gawked. These rich boys certainly came with their perks.

With a sigh, Beam abandoned his suitcase and dropped onto the bed. After almost a full day of traveling, he was happy to be on the ground, in a house, and in his own room. And it was such a nice room at that.

Two of his dorm rooms could have easily fit in this one. The bed alone could comfortably sleep at least four of him. With the luxuries of a wide screen television, stone fireplace, private balcony of all things, this vacation was lining up to be just what he needed. Coming off of a rough finals season, he was ready to unwind.

Though his boyfriend seemed to have other plans. Shutting the door with a kick, Forth had him pressed back into the comforter in record time. His lips, while gentle and most definitely appreciated, were quite the distraction.

“Dinner is in an hour,” Beam reminded him, shivering when he reached a particularly sensitive spot below his jaw. “What’s the rush? We’ve got over a week here.” Pulling him out from his neck and taking his face in his hands, Beam squished them between his palms. “Tonight, it’ll just be you, me, and whatever shitty American sitcom we can find.”

“I know,” Forth said, using the convenient purse Beam had given to his lips to lean down and peck his nose. “It’s why I’m so excited. We’ve both been so busy with exams that we’ve hardly gotten to see each other.”

Ducking back down, he gave a far more innocent nuzzle to his cheek. “I’m glad I get to spend so much time with you. With no distractions.”

“Except the ten other people we came with,” Beam said. “I give your junior ten minutes before he’s bursting into everyone’s rooms.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. I bet you he’s too busy trying to get his pretty kitty to purr for him. And if that’s the case,” his smirk grew wider as pressed back up to hover over Beam’s face, “I should be doing the same.”

“I’m not a cat. Kit’s got enough claws for the both of us.”

“Of course not.” Working an arm under Beam’s lower back, Forth pressed them flush together. “You’re my baby. Who I’m so lucky to be on this nice trip with.”

“You’re disgusting,” Beam said but accepted his kiss anyway. There was still plenty of time until dinner, and kissing his boyfriend until then wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Wayo shared a quick glance with Pete, both of their lips widening into smiles before they looked back to their pouting other halves.

“Don’t look at us like that,” Wayo said, tugging the fleece blanket over his shoulder when it slipped off. “You wanted to check out the media center downstairs, and Ai’Pete and I were both cold. We had to get warm somehow. He was my original cuddle buddy after all.”

The two of them had staked their claim on the large couch opposite the wood burning fireplace in the living room. Though they’d both put on sweaters, there was no better cure for the cold than a good round of cuddles. And if their boyfriends weren’t there to provide them, there was a simple solution; they’d just cuddle each other.

“They look so sad,” Pete cooed, giggling when Ae’s brow furrowed deeper. “Maybe we should let them join.”

“I don’t know,” Wayo said, bobbing his head side to side as though he was considering it. “They ditched us when we needed them most. Not very cuddle-worthy boyfriends.”

“My most precious Yo,” Pha said, hands pressed into the couch cushion, eyes level with Wayo’s own. “I love you so much and would be honored to give you all of the cuddles you want.”

The deal was sealed as soon as Pha flashed him a smile, soft around the edges and wide with heart. Opening the opposite end of the blanket, Wayo could only laugh as Pha clambered in beside him and pulled him close. He certainly kept his promise. Nosing his way around Wayo’s neck and cheek, he wrapped a strong arm around him and rubbed heat into his side.

Ae’s approach was similar. Little butterfly kisses fluttered across Pete’s face, and it wasn’t a surprise to see Pete open his arms to him and invite him in. It was a bit of a stretch to fit all four of them underneath the blanket, and it only became more difficult when Pha and Ae pulled the two of them further apart and closer to themselves.

“Boys,” Wayo droned with a roll to his eyes. But it didn’t deter him from tilting his chin up in a silent cue. Hearing him loud and clear, Pha pressed a long kiss to his cheek. He may have been a bit ridiculous, but Wayo figured it was a fair trade for being oh-so ridiculously in love with him.

“Wait!”

At his boyfriend’s cry, Kit abruptly stopped in the opening between the hallway and the living room. Ming came to meet him, smile contrasting the urgency in his voice.

“It seems we’re caught under the mistletoe,” Ming said, pursing his lips and leaning in close. “Guess that means you’ll have to kiss me.”

It was then that Kit looked up, only to find a sprig of a green, leafy plant with little bulbs of white weaved between it, the entirety tied together with a red bow. Mistletoe he repeated to himself. The name gave him little explanation, so he peaked around his boyfriend and directed a questioning eyebrow to Wayo.

“As much as it sounds like something stupid he’d make up, he’s not lying,” Wayo said, arm thrown over the back of the couch, body twisted towards the couple. “It’s a western tradition. If you’re caught under the mistletoe with someone, you have to kiss them. Pretty sure he just put it up to get you to kiss him whenever he wants, but why he had to hang it in every doorway in the house, I’ll never understand.”

“Sue me for trying to give you all some festive romance,” Ming argued to which Wayo only rolled his eyes. Attention back on Kit, he tapped a finger to his lips. “Can’t break tradition, can we?”

It wasn’t even their tradition to uphold, but Kit couldn’t bring himself to point out his plan’s one flaw. Not with how stupidly cute he was. Instead, he wrapped his arms around his neck and murmured, “You don’t have to hang up a bunch of plants to get me to kiss you, dummy. Just ask next time.”

But, as Ming said, tradition was tradition. And it wasn’t like he was in America every day; appreciating the culture only seemed right.

Pressing up the littlest bit onto his toes, he fit their lips together. A well-intended peck was deepened when Ming’s arms looped around his waist and drew him in. Chest to chest, Ming’s heart beating against him, Kit could only sigh.

Charming, sweet, and just a bit over the top, Ming’s heart was always in the right place. He – along with the rush of heat that ran from tip to toe – kept Kit hanging on, drowning out the rest of the world for that littlest bit longer.

“I hate to ruin your moment,” Wayo called. “But you know mistletoe is actually a parasite, right?”

“Shut up, Ai’Yo!”

Their little fantasy had broken, but that warmth didn’t dissipate. Taking Ming’s hand, big and tan encompassing small and pale, Kit lead him to join their friends. His boyfriend, the one that brought him cakes, took him on expensive trips, pinned weeds to the doors just to get a kiss or two, deserved everything Kit could give him. And that started with one extra-large blanket and fireplace snuggles.

Kongpob buried his nose into Arthit’s hair and pressed a series of kisses into the back of his head. It seemed that his sun wasn’t quite made for the cold.

Almost as soon as they’d touched down Arthit had begun shivering. He’d thought nothing of it, just a side effect of such an intense weather change. But when they moved into the comfort of a heated house and his shivering didn’t cease, Kongpob grew concerned.

He’d offered him both of his sweatshirts, had bundled him underneath the blanket and comforter in their room, but everything did little. As cute and cuddly as he looked, he was still shaking.

Which was what lead them to the bath. The steaming water plus Kongpob’s own body heat would surely do the trick. Or so he hoped.

Squeezing him a bit closer, curving his front over Arthit’s back, he sloshed some of the warm water over his boyfriend’s chest. He refused to detach himself, adamant to get him back to his normal body temperature.

Part of him felt guilty. He presumed Arthit would be cold, but he hadn’t expected it to be anything a good round of spooning couldn’t fix. He couldn’t have predicted this, but he should’ve been more careful. Arthit was used to Thailand’s humidity, had only known that for his entire life. Drastically flipping that to ice and snow was bound to bring up some issues.

The head on his chest shifted, and two big eyes blinked up at him. Arthit’s cheeks were considerably less pale, fading from sickly to his skin’s natural color.

“I can hear you thinking,” Arthit said, small crease forming between his brows. “Less worrying; more cuddling. Unless you don’t want me to get warm?”

Kongpob tightened around him in an instant. “Of course I do. I could get you tea? Maybe hot chocolate? It might help.”

“No,” Arthit said and snuggled back against him. “This helps the most.”

Freshly showered and dressed in his night clothes, Pha was more than ready for a bit of alone time with Wayo. Spending the majority of the night with everyone had been nice, but getting cozy with his honey, sharing kisses and cuddles and whatever else the night led them towards was what he really wanted to wind down the evening with.

Toweling off his hair, he paused in the doorway, only to stare. His boyfriend, wrapped in soft pink pajamas and the scent of strawberries, had wormed almost his entire body under the sheets. Only his fluffy hair and doe eyes peeked out.

Pha would never tire of this picture. He wanted to frame it and keep it forever. Or better yet, step into frame and live within it for the rest of his life.

“Why are you staring at me?” Wayo asked, fingers curling around the edges of the blanket and pulling it closer. “Get in, or I’ll find someone else to cuddle with me. I bet I could drag Ai’Pete away from Ai’Ae if I tried hard enough.”

Chuckling, Pha went to the opposite side and fit himself under the covers. “N’Pete might have been your first cuddle buddy, but I’m your favorite.” Wayo rolled his eyes, and Pha laughed. “And can’t I admire my adorable boyfriend who I love with my entire heart?”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Wayo teased.

“I’m serious.” Snaking an arm around him, turning him over to face them chest to chest, he kissed his forehead. “Seeing you here, waiting for me in bed, it makes me think of the future when I can have this every night. I know we spend nights together a lot, but dorms aren’t the same as this. This,” he smoothed a hand over the bed, “makes everything feel so much more real.”

Wayo cupped his cheeks and dragged him in close. “You’re such a dork,” he murmured, slotting their lips together. “I love you so much.”

Pha didn’t have time to say it back, not when Wayo was rolling him over and climbing on top of him. But he’d have plenty of time to say it; he had his whole life after all.

The heat of the sun on the back of Kit’s eyes deeply contrasted the chill on his bare legs. At some point during the night, they’d slipped out from the blanket. Shifting towards any warmth he could find in the bed, his nose bumped into a firm, broad chest.

It was easy to forget that he wasn’t sleeping alone. He and Ming had shared a bed a few times, but it wasn’t routine. Kit liked his space, and he just didn’t feel they were at that stage in their relationship yet. They weren’t Pha and Wayo, in love for years and as tactile as they came. And Ming respected that. He didn’t push any of the boundaries Kit had put up between them, and it made him fall that littlest bit further in love.

But as his eyes opened wider and he was met with the tan face of his boyfriend, his hair falling into his eyes and mouth puffing out little breaths, he began to think that maybe this was the direction he wanted to go. Ming was somehow just as unfairly handsome first thing in the morning. He looked so tempting, and Kit couldn’t quite help himself.

He buried himself face first into his neck, breathing deep. His senses filled of Ming – filled of love – and he huddled even closer. In the dead of sleep, he threw an arm around Kit’s waist. It was as though his subconscious was telling him he’s close; you need to hold him, protect him, adore him.

It made Kit smile, and in no time, he was drifting back to sleep. Waking up like this, next to his person, was something he could get used to.

“Ae,” Pete said with a petulant whine. “We have to get up. Breakfast is soon.”

He’d started smelling something sweet wafting through the vents over an hour ago. Whatever had been cooking downstairs had to have been done by now, and he wanted a taste before any of his friends – and their bottomless stomachs – got their hands on it.

The only road block in his way was his boyfriend. Currently snuggled beneath his chin with a leg thrown over both of his to keep him in place, Ae didn’t seem to have any plans on moving.

“Ae,” Pete tried again. He upped his whine, even pulled out the pout and puppy eyes combo that he knew to be foolproof. “Let’s get up, yeah? Please?”

Turning his cheek to rest on Pete’s chest, Ae blinked up at him and nuzzled into his night shirt. “But I’m so comfortable. Plus, it’s warm in here.”

“We can eat by the fireplace,” Pete offered him, but it was easily rejected.

“That only makes my body warm though; being here with you makes my heart warm too,” Ae said, flashing his own pair of round eyes up at him.

Wide pupils engulfed almost all of the chocolate brown surrounding them. They narrowed when some of Ae’s growing bangs fell in his face, only going back to their full size when he shook his hair out.

Ae was larger than life, his strong personality outmatched only by his sharp tongue. But as he lay against him, sighing as he dozed back to sleep, Pete was reminded of how small he was.

He loved how Ae looked and never wished to change anything about him. And if Pete just happened to be taller than him, then so be it. It just meant that his arms fit around him easier.

Hugging him close, Pete kissed the crown of his head. Ae was always the one holding him, and it was about time the roles were reversed. While the others were filling up on food, he’d be filling up on his Ae. That was better than anything down in that kitchen.

Certain services came along with the vacation home Kongpob had picked out for them. The in-house chef was Can’s personal favorite.

For one, the portions he plated for them were huge. He usually had to stock up on two, three, sometimes four servings before he felt satisfied. But this man stacked as much food onto the extra-large plates as possible, refusing to leave any of the white china beneath visible.

And then there was the actual food. The assortment made his favorite buffet back in Bangkok look sparse. He was intent on trying everything, and try he did.

He was on his third helping of sausage and second of pancakes – they were so fluffy and delicious and he swore he could taste the littlest hint of cinnamon in them – when his fork was plucked from his hand.

“Hey!” he exclaimed, glaring up at the offender. Tin only twirled the fork in his fingers before pointing the prongs at Can.

“You need to slow down,” he said, pushing Can’s glass of water towards him. “Or else you’ll make yourself sick.”

Can fixed him with an unamused stare. They’d been dating for how long? Surely Tin knew his stomach was much bigger than it looked.

“Or you won’t have room for more when we go into town later,” Tin said, sparking Can’s interest. “They have so much good food here, but if you’re so set on filling up on this, then I guess there’s no point in trying out any of the restaurants I picked out for us.”

He wasn’t sure if Tin was being honest or if he was just trying to get him to stop eating. Regardless, his plan worked. Pushing his plate away and his chair back against the wood, he stood up, pulling on Tin’s sleeve to take him with him.

“What are we waiting for then? Let’s get dressed!”

“Technically, this is your own fault, Ming,” Wayo said through his laughter, purposefully ignoring the glare his best friend sent him in favor of teasing him.

And well, he wasn’t exactly wrong. As they were all leaving to go out for the day, Kit had gotten stuck in the doorway with Beam. Before either of them could pass through, they were quickly stopped by Wayo and directed to look up.

That damn plant struck again. It was far from an ideal situation, being caught under the mistletoe with your best friend. But everyone seemed to find the situation incredibly amusing, specifically Wayo who near lost it at the sight of Ming pouting like a child. He was clearly unhappy about the situation, though he appeared to be the only boyfriend who was. Forth, the confident fucker that he was, whistled at them, egging them on.

With little choice and the desperate need to get out of the doorway, Kit stretched upwards, kissed Beam’s cheek as briefly as possible, and went to his boyfriend’s side, paying no mind to the oohs and ahhs that followed after him.

Tail deflated and ears flattened against his head, his puppy looked like he’d been kicked. He supposed that was partially his fault; the fake dating scandal between him and Beam had left a permanent bad taste in Ming’s mouth. Though he could easily remind Ming that he had been the one to hang up the mistletoe and should have anticipated something like this happening, he decided to throw him a bone instead.

“Stop sulking,” he said, fitting his fingers between Ming’s. He took a step closer, capturing his full focus. “You know you’re the only one I want to kiss, mistletoe or not.”

Just to prove his point, he pecked his lips. “There. No parasites needed.”

Like he’d switched on a light, Ming’s face brightened into a smile. He wrapped himself around Kit as they walked to the cars, and it must have looked ridiculous, his tall bulk hunched around Kit’s much smaller frame. But his tail was wagging again, and that was all that mattered to him.

The city was painted red and green. Sparkling with gold, every turn brought something more eye catching than the sight before. Every building was draped in some of the most elaborate decorations Pha had ever seen. But as mesmerizing as it all was, it couldn’t compare to what had captured his attention.

There was no doubt that Wayo was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen. Whether he was acne ridden and four eyed or plush lipped and fan favorited Moon, he was the image of absolute perfection.

Now was no exception. Dressed in a tan pea coat and a white scarf with a hat to match, he played with a strand of garland twined around a lamp post. His bangs were dusted in snowflakes, cheeks pink and smile wide. He was so lovely, so stunning, so everything, and Pha felt so lucky to have him and so stupid for taking so long to get him.

“It’s so pretty, isn’t it?” Wayo asked, fingers pointing out the multicolored bulbs that would later light up the night sky. “Everything is so sparkly and colorful.”

Pulling Wayo into his side with an arm around his waist, Pha dipped into the curve of his shoulder. “So pretty,” he agreed. But he wasn’t looking at the decorations; not when he could nuzzle his way around Wayo’s neck. “What do you want to do today? I’ll take you anywhere you want.”

“Anywhere I want?” Wayo asked, laughing when Pha pressed a kiss to his jaw in confirmation. “In that case, I heard there’s this massive tree in the middle of town. It’s supposed to be amazing for pictures. Willing to make an Instagram appearance, Campus Moon?”

He’d follow Wayo wherever he went as long as it kept him smiling like that. Holding his hand, Pha locked their fingers together. Wayo looked up to him with eyes shinier than the baubles hung around the street, and it was enough to soften his already weak heart.

He returned his smile and swung their arms forward. “Lead the way, my love.”

No one had ever told Ae that being in a relationship also meant being your boyfriend’s personal photographer. It would have annoyed if said boyfriend wasn’t so cute.

Having taken shelter from the cold in a tucked away café, Pete had decided that the interior aesthetic was just what his social media needed. After ordering his coffee – with the request of extra whipped cream and the nicest mug they had – he’d slid his phone across the table silently. He smiled cutely, batting his pretty lashes as though Ae needed the extra persuasion. But he didn’t; if Pete wanted something, he’d give it to him always.

Clapping when Ae picked up the phone, Pete shed his coat to reveal his knit burgundy sweater. He ran his fingers through his hair, fixing it to the way he wanted it to lay, and picked up the mug. Fingers delicately cupped the side and hooked around the handle before raising it to his lips. His mouth disappeared behind the pile of whipped cream, big eyes on full display.

Ae moved forward and back, up and down, side to side to give Pete the options he wanted. He could rarely tell the difference between them; he only ever saw his boyfriend, beautiful in every possible way, but Pete was picky.

“Here,” he said, offering Pete the phone, knowing he’d want to check his work.

Sliding through the pictures, Pete smiled and nodded. “Perfect,” he said, licking off the cream that had gotten on his lips. He took his first real sip of his drink. “Thank you, Ae.”

“Anything for you,” he said, causing Pete to hide farther behind his mug. He so desperately wanted to take his lips from the drink and onto his own, but there was plenty of time for that later. After he showed his most deserving boyfriend a good time.

“After this, I thought we could go to that clothing store we passed,” Ae offered, peeking Pete’s interest. “I saw a bag I thought you’d like in the window. What do you think?”

Reaching for Ae’s hand, Pete squeezed it. “I think I have the best boyfriend ever,” Pete all but cooed. Thumbing over the rough patches on Ae’s knuckles, he hummed, “You know me so well.”

He did; he knew Pete the best, but that’s what you did when you loved someone as much as Ae loved Pete. You took semi-artsy pictures for him, pointed out things he liked, complimented him until his cheeks went pink. He’d keep on doing all that and more forever; after all, he planned on loving Pete for the rest of his life.

Tin was right; the food here was amazing. He was grateful that he’d stopped him at breakfast that morning.

Leaving their third restaurant of the day – which had some of the best bread he had ever eaten – Can skipped down the steps two at a time, excited to move onto the next. He was so happy that he hadn’t even complained when Tin demanded to pay for everything. He supposed this classified as a date, so he’d allow it, just this once.

“Where to now?” he asked as Tin joined him at the bottom of the stairs.

“There’s a hot chocolate stand a couple of blocks from here. They put all kinds of toppings on it; whipped cream, sprinkles, all that. Sounds perfect for you, doesn’t it?” Tin teased with a grin before scrolling back through the map he had pulled up on his phone. “Then I figured we could go look for some gifts for your mom and sister.”

Blinking in surprise, Can couldn’t help the “huh?” he blurted.

Tin didn’t even glance up at him. “Lemon would be upset if you didn’t bring her something back, wouldn’t she? And I wanted to get something for your mom as a thank you for letting me take you on this trip. She’s trusting me with one of her babies after all.”

Can could only continue to gape. He would have never agreed to date Tin in the first place if he didn’t get along with his family or vice versa, but that had never been a problem. His mom and Lemon had both been taken for Tin the moment they’d met him, and Tin had always been respectful in return.

But there was a difference between being polite to someone and caring about them. And Tin was easily falling into that latter category. He’d thought of his family before even Can himself had, and that spoke deafening volumes.

Tugging on the collar of Tin’s coat, he arched up to meet him in a kiss. This Ice King had a heart, and it was so warm.

They parted, and before he spent too long looking at Tin’s dazed stare, he grabbed a hold of his hand. “I want extra sprinkles.”

“Sure, Cantaloupe,” Tin said, the squeeze he gave Can’s hand making him smile. “Whatever you want.”

“Tell me again why we agreed to date engineering majors with the worst ideas ever?” Kit gritted through his teeth, clutching onto Beam with both hands.

Beam started to laugh, but when he felt his feet slide underneath him, he stopped to catch himself. He pondered Kit’s question; why had he thought going ice skating when he’d never seen ice outside of his drinks before was a smart use of his day? Something about a cute boyfriend with a killer set of puppy eyes?

A figure whizzed past him, and oh look, it was said boyfriend and his partner in crime. How Forth and Ming managed to stay balanced on their skates was beyond him, but it was frustrating nonetheless.

“Stop showing off,” Kit snapped as they both skated around them. His best friend squealed when he was pulled forward and spun in a circle.

“It’s fun!” Ming encouraged, ignoring Kit’s protests as he glided off with him.

With nothing left to hang onto, Beam put his arms out in front of him to keep his balance. His hands were quickly taken into a second pair, and they held him still.

“Hey there, handsome,” Forth said. “Wanna go for a ride?”

“If it’s anything like your motorcycle, I’ll pass,” Beam deadpanned but made no move to let go of him.

“Aw, don’t be like that,” Forth insisted, already beginning to skate backwards in order to pull him forward. “Nothing happened to you then–”

“One hundred and forty kilometers per hour down a busy highway, Forth!”

“–and nothing will happen to you now. Trust me, babe, I’m not going to let you fall.”

Reckless as he was, Forth hadn’t let him crash and burn once yet. Beam trusted him, and well, he didn’t have many other choices. It was either take the chance or brave the ice on his own. At least if he fell, he would have a Forth-sized cushioning under him.

Forth started slow, stopping whenever Beam wavered a bit. For the most part, it was smooth sailing. With time as well as little encouragements, Beam worked his way up from needing Forth in front of him to having him by his side.

“See, what did I say? You’re doing great,” Forth said, still keeping a good hold on him as they picked up their speed. “Have a little faith in me.”

“Oh, I have plenty of faith in you. Just not in your disregard for safety.”

“This is what I get for dating a future doctor.”

Beam would have shoved him if he wasn’t currently standing on two thin blades and he didn’t love him so much. He was being patient with him, and even if he was a careless engineer, he was his careless engineer.

Instead, he settled on gripping him tighter and skating around the rink with him. His wide smile was worth all of that. He would have given him a kiss too, but there could be plenty of those when he was flat on his feet again.

There was no denying that the atmosphere in the city read romantic. And how could it not? With how cold it was, it was the perfect opportunity to hold yourself close to that special someone without the usual judgement that came along with public displays of affection. 

Despite having that convenience laid out right in front of him, Arthit couldn’t help but wedge a noticeable gap between himself and Kongpob. It was small enough for people to know that they were out together but still large enough to paint themselves as friends.

While he’d gotten used to holding Kongpob’s hand out in public back home, this was new territory. Same sex marriage was legal here, but that didn’t necessarily mean it was popular. He was just trying to protect them.

Reminding himself of that didn’t make him feel any better. After the initial push he’d given himself, he had gotten used to fitting his fingers between Kongpob’s every time they went out. It was nice to stake his claim and show everyone that yes, this man was his boyfriend. Having to resist that gravitational pull to do that now was proving more and more difficult the longer they were out.

Kongpob, the respectful junior he (usually) was, didn’t push his luck. Aside from the occasional shoulder nudges and dreamy eyed smiles, he didn’t cross any of the boundaries Arthit had put between them.

They delved deeper into the city, still walking side by side like the best bros they definitely weren’t. The crowds got thicker, and Arthit couldn’t help but look around, reveling a bit at what he saw.

A girl leaned down to feed another a piece of chocolate; they both giggled over it. A boy readjusted the scarf around a much taller boy’s neck, tugging on the ends of it to pull him down and bump their noses together. Everywhere he looked, there were hands holding hands, so many that the genders mixed together, and he was unable to tell the difference.

That pull he had been fighting against for the majority of the day finally won against him. His hand wrapped around Kongpob’s, and whatever funny feeling he had in his stomach settled. This didn’t feel scary like he’d thought; it felt right.

“P’?” Kongpob asked, taken aback and confused. But he wasn’t letting go; instead, he held on tighter.

“I’m hungry,” Arthit stated, pulling him into the crowd, ready to weave themselves in and become another set of hands. “Want to get lunch?”

Kongpob smiled, and Arthit felt like they were back at home. “It’s a date.”

“Don’t give me that face,” Ming said, purposefully turning his back to Pete to avoid his killer duo of pouty lips and sad eyes. “It’s not going to work.”

“What’s not going to work?” Ae asked as he joined them, sliding into the stool next to his boyfriend at the island. Noticing Pete’s down turned expression, he furrowed his brow. “Why are you sulking?”

“Because Ai’Ming is mean,” Pete said, jutting his bottom lip farther out when Ming only laughed. “He won’t let me help him and Ai’Yo make cookies.”

“That’s because we remember what happened the last time we let you help us,” Wayo said, head buried in the refrigerator. Pulling out a carton of eggs and handing them to Ming, he smiled at Pete. “You set the fire alarm off. And ruined my auntie’s baking pans.”

“But since you look so pitiful we’ll let you decorate them,” Ming said, reaching across the island to pinch his cheek. Tugging on it, he cooed, “You can make them as pretty as you want.”

Ae caught Ming’s wrist and pulled him away from his boyfriend. Ming raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought Ai’Pete told you to work on your jealousy problems.”

“And I have been,” Ae said, softening slightly at the proud nod Pete gave. “But a little birdie told me you used to have a crush on him, so I have an excuse this time.”

“Would that birdie happen to be named Wayo Panitchayasawad?” Ming asked with a glare directed towards to his best friend; Wayo blew him a kiss from over the electronic mixer.

“Really? You had a crush on me?” Pete asked, any grudge he was holding over his baking ban flying out the window. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“It wasn’t that big of a deal. I was six and started liking cute things.” He turned to Ae. “You’ve seen pictures of him when he was younger, yeah? You can’t really blame me. Especially when P’Forth was the same way.”

The quartet in the kitchen turned towards the living area where Forth was sitting and now staring back at them. Rolling his eyes, he stretched his arm over the back of the couch behind Beam’s shoulders.

“So? It’s like you said; he was adorable,” Forth said with a shrug. “I’m not the one who tried to kiss him, was I, N’Ming?”

Ae’s eyes snapped back to Ming while Pete only giggled. Poor Ming deflated, hopelessly looking for any help he could find.

It came with Wayo carrying the mixed dough over to the counter and laughing at his expense. “You might have tried,” he said,” but I succeeded.”

“Woah, you and Yo kissed?” Ming asked with a smirk. “When, where, and why was I not told?”

“On the cheek!” Pete stressed quickly as he grabbed hold of Ae’s hand and stroked it softly. “We were ten, I think? And Ai’Yo has always liked to tease. Right, P’Pha?”

“It’s both a blessing and a curse,” he called from the couch.

“What about you, Ai’Tin?” Ming asked. “You’ve known Ai’Pete the longest; ever have a crush on him?”

“No,” Tin stressed, directed to Ae with a serious glint in his eyes. “I never have, and I never will.”

“He liked me instead,” Wayo said over his shoulder as he scooped dough onto a cookie sheet. “It seems you have a type, huh, Ai’Tin? Small and cute. No wonder you ended up with Ai’Can.”

“P’Kongpob then,” Ming said to their eldest. “Pete’s your favorite. You had to have had a crush on him at some point.”

“Of course not,” Kongpob said. “He’s only ever been like a little brother to me.”

“Aw, really?” Pete said with a shy smile. “Because I definitely had one on you.”

“What?”

Ae wasn’t sure who said it first, but multiple sets of eyes landed on his boyfriend looking for an explanation. Continuing to smile sheepishly, Pete squeezed Ae with one hand and tucked his hair behind his ear with the other.

“I was thirteen and just figured out I liked boys. And a super attractive older boy was giving me attention. That’s really all you look for in a guy when you’re in middle school.”

Leaning over to catch Pete’s attention, Ae asked, “And what do you look for now?”

Looping both arms around one of Ae’s, Pete hugged himself close into his side. “Husband material,” he said, resting his temple on his shoulder and ignoring Ming’s obnoxious cooing in the background. “Part of the criteria includes helping me frost cookies.”

Pecking his nose (and still ignoring Ming’s gushing), Ae picked up an icing knife and handed a second to Pete. If that’s what Pete wanted his future husband to do, then he’d be more than happy to oblige. He’d make sure he checked every box off his list.

The sound of a piano drew Arthit to the front room of the house. It was more authentic than the radio music the others had playing the back living room. Along with the melody came a pair of soft voices:

“I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know. Make my wish come true; you know that all I want for Christmas is you…”

Reaching the doorway and peeking through, he found Kongpob and Wayo sitting side by side on the piano bench, a large book of sheet music open in front of them. Wayo’s small fingers played out what he could only assume to be a western holiday song as the two of them shared the lyrics.

He hadn’t heard Kongpob sing since the Moon and Star competition. Just as he had been then, he was completely entranced. Kongpob’s voice, while just as confident as the rest of him, was delicate and soft. It was the kind of voice you fell in love with.

The song faded to a close, and the two musical Moons smiled at each other before flipping through the book and deciding on another song. The piano picked up again, and Arthit continued to listen.

At some point, Pha leaned on the opposite side of the door frame, but they only spared each other a sideways glance. They were both too enraptured by the concert in front of them and their beautifully talented boyfriends.

“Isn’t that my sweatshirt?”

After washing off the day and turning in for the evening, Forth came back to his absolute vision of a boyfriend, laid out in bed in clothes he hadn’t been wearing when he had gone to shower.

The grey hoodie was most definitely his, frayed in certain places from years of wear. Although he and Beam were relatively the same size, it fit differently on them. The length was similar, but the neckline was looser on him, stretched from Forth’s larger shoulders.

The fit wasn’t what had him distracted; it was his boyfriend wearing his clothing. Call him cliché, but there was something so captivating about it. Maybe it was possessiveness, maybe it was domesticity; regardless, it revved his engine to full force.

“Tonight it’s mine,” Beam answered simply as he scrolled through his phone. If he knew what he was doing – and Forth had a pretty good idea that he knew well – he didn’t call attention to it.

Itching to get closer, Forth joined Beam on the bed. Still, there was no acknowledgement. There couldn’t possibly be anything on that phone screen that was more important than him – or as important as his incessant sense of need that always followed wherever Beam went – so with swift hands, he plucked it away and tossed it onto the bedside table.

Finally giving him the attention he deserved, Beam turned to him and glared. “I was doing something.”

“You could be doing something so much better,” Forth said with a suggestive raise to his brow, to which Beam only rolled his eyes. “You’re wearing my clothes.”

“I got cold, and it was the first thing I found,” Beam said. “Besides, I’ve worn your clothes before; it’s not that big of a deal.”

 “Oh, it’s a very big deal.” Flipping from his back to hover over Beam, he caged him between his arms. It gave him the perfect view of his perfect boyfriend looking perfectly perfect in what was once his. But it was just like Beam said, tonight it was his; from now on, it was both of theirs.

“This is what I imagine our future to be like. Coming home to my beautiful husband and,” he dipped to kiss along his jaw, “unwinding with him.”

“Says the man with a day job with normal hours. Doctor, remember? If anything, I’ll be coming home to you. Possibly at two in the morning.”

Lifting himself back up, Forth pouted. “Don’t ruin my fantasy.”

Beam rolled his eyes once more. “Does this fantasy include getting undressed any time soon? If not, I’m taking my phone back.”

Forth quickly worked the sweatshirt over Beam’s head and threw it to the floor. His boyfriend was cold, and it was only right that he warmed him up himself.

Their afterglow was more literal this time around. The fireplace not only kept them warm but also illuminated the room into a soft orange. Besides the moon pooling through window, it was the only light they had.

Tin trailed his fingertips over Can’s back, warm from passion and love rather than fire. Nose in his hair, he inhaled deep and exhaled deeper. There was nothing quite like Can, nothing like how he smelled, looked, sounded, tasted, felt. It was as though all of his senses were learning how to function all over again when he had such intensity in his arms.

Can shifted slightly, giving Tin a new expanse of his neck to nose around. “This is nice,” he said, eyes on the fire. “It’s too bad it’s never cold enough back home to use one. It’s so cozy.”

It was a nice thought. The two of them in their own home spread out on the couch with whatever action movie Can picked out on the television while the fire crackled. Maybe Gucci could join them, if Can managed to convince his mom to let him live with his two daddies.

“I’ll take you to other cold places then,” Tin decided, because Can was the type of good that deserved whatever he wanted. “What do you think about skiing in Europe? I know a few places in France and Switzerland we could stay.”

“You already took me on this trip; you’re already thinking of another?” Can asked with a soft laugh. He poked at the center of Tin’s bare chest. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, rich kid.”

“I’m serious.” Gathering him on top of his chest, Tin continued stroking over his back, dipping a bit lower every so often. “Getting into a hot tub when it’s cold outside? There’s nothing else like it.”

Interest peaked, Can curled his arms under his chin. “Really? It’s that great?” Though still seemingly skeptical, his eyes twinkled. “Can we take my mom and Ley then? They’d love it.”

“Sure,” Tin agreed easily, pressing into one of the purple marks on Can’s side.

He hissed and smacked his shoulder. “Don’t do that, asshole, or I’ll cut you off.” In the same breath, he added, “We should take Good too. He’s never seen snow before, and I think he’d like it.”

Can could have asked to bring the entire football team, and he wouldn’t have had (that much of) a problem with it. His happiness was most important, and Tin could see it slowly rising in his face as he babbled on and on. He was so stupidly cute, ridiculously sweet, and Tin loved him a stupid and ridiculous amount.

It came as little surprise to Kongpob when he found Arthit on the balcony. Leaned over the railing and chin to the sky, the moon shone down on, illuminating him in his own personal spotlight. He was beautiful, engulfed in white light, but in no way dressed properly for the evening weather.

Scooping up one of the blankets from their bed on his way out, Kongpob slid open the glass door to join him. Spreading the blanket wide, he hugged it around Arthit’s back; the last thing he needed was for his boyfriend to have a repeat from the night before.

Nuzzling him extra close, Kongpob pressed a kiss behind Arthit’s ear. “Why look at that moon when you have your own inside?”

“Funny,” Arthit scoffed, eyes not leaving the stars. “Maybe if that Moon didn’t take me somewhere with such a nice view, I wouldn’t have to come outside.”

He couldn’t fault him on that. The evergreen trees seemingly went on for miles in the backyard of the house. They pointed up, arrows directing their attention to the expanse of navy blue above, littered with twinkling lights. It was a nice view, but not the one Kongpob really wanted to be looking at.

“You’re having a nice time then?” he asked, continuing to press more kisses down his neck and onto his shoulder, all of which went ignored.

“Of course; I’m here with you, aren’t I?”

Arthit had undoubtedly gotten better at expressing how he felt, but it was little outbursts like that that had Kongpob melting despite the western chill. His sun made his heart so warm, and it spread through him, smooth like honey.

“I’m glad,” he said sincerely. This trip, while meant for all of them, was planned with Arthit in mind. He wanted to see as much of the world as he could with him, and if a few friends came along for the ride, then the more the merrier.

Finally taking a moment to look away from the sky, Arthit closed the little distance between them. Lips connecting, they lingered, gentle and slow. Why rush when they had forever together?

When they broke apart, Kongpob couldn’t help his smile or soft murmur of “I love you.”

Returning the smile, Arthit hummed, gaze turning up again. “I love you too.”

Kongpob didn’t see them going back inside any time soon, but that wasn’t a problem. As long as he got to hold Arthit, the moon covering the sun in a solar eclipse, he was happiest as he could be.