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in the hands of fate

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A few months later, Ren’s first birthday

“I-thought-you-said-you-and-Tin-were-moving-to-a-smaller-place,” Good said when Can opened the bifold doors at the back of the house to reveal a garden that would rival King Rama IX Park. 

Gucci brushed past Can’s legs in his eagerness to get outside, he loved his new domain. “Oi! Technically the house is much smaller than the Medthanan house,” Can defended, laughing. He shook his head. “It’s still huge though, I know. I don’t think Tin would really know how to do small.” 

Can had protested at the size of the new house at first but Tin had been very good at distracting Can with food or sex when he’d been trying to set out his reasons why he felt a much smaller place would be better. Anyway, if he was totally honest with himself, now they had moved in, he loved it because it was solely theirs. Tin had kept some staff as they had agreed, but they were not omnipresent and none of them lived in the main house, a compromise Can had been adamant about and Tin had easily agreed to.

They had moved in a couple of weeks ago. It was equally as modern as the previous house but had six bedrooms instead of numerous suites and they were all set off one large main landing at the top of a large staircase. The space downstairs was mostly open plan with a twelve-seat cinema and few smaller rooms set off the main hallway, including two offices, a ‘snug’ and a laundry room. The back of the house looked out over the vast landscaped garden. There was also a basement that held a well-equipped gym and a swimming pool. 

Can explained that there were two other properties that came with the house that were set amidst the grounds. One was being converted into studio flats for the live-in staff and the other was a smaller two bed house that Tin had suggested Ma and Ley might want to move into but Can hadn’t mentioned it to Ma yet. 

“What-happened-to-‘money-can’t-buy-me’?”

“Hey!” Can exclaimed and with a grin said, “I’ll make you pay for that.” He pretended to strike his friend and Good took off out into the garden. He was quick on his feet for someone who always came across so laid back, but Can was right behind him. He finally caught up with him and laughing they both collapsed on the floor under the nearest tree.

Can looked down at the aged t-shirt and worn jeans he was wearing. Tin was always trying to buy him clothes and stuff but, overall, Can resisted. It felt decadent enough that Tin bankrolled where they lived. Tin had given Can a bank card and told him to use it for whatever he needed. Can had protested and Tin had just said that if it made him feel better, he could pay all his own money into the account every month. Tin said they were a living as a couple and as far as he was concerned, they shared all the money.

Can had joked that if that was the case he was going to go out and buy a Bugatti Chiron and Tin had just said that it might be wise to learn to drive first! That had kind of taken the wind out of Can’s sails. Still, it felt weird spending money on things that were not necessities like new clothes when the old ones were fine.

“I love him,” Can stared at his hands at his confession, raising his eyes to look at his best friend. “That’s why the money doesn’t matter anymore. It’s part of him.” Tin used his money to take care of Can and Ren and by extension, Can’s family. It was just what he did, of how he showed his love.

Good nodded thoughtfully. “I-think-I’m-in-love,” he said dreamily.

“What! Who with? I want to hear everything!”

:::::

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Why are you hiding?” 

Can opened his eyes and blinked up at Tin who towered above him, holding a struggling Ren in his arms. He put her down next to Can and she immediately clambered on top of him. A year old today, she was somewhere between crawling and pulling herself to her feet to cling to furniture. Ma had told him that he hadn’t walked until he was eighteen months old, so he was quietly impressed with her progress. 

He glanced over at Good who was fast asleep alongside him about half a metre away. Trying to keep eye contact with Tin whilst his daughter was trying to wrestle him Can said in a stage whisper. “Good has met a girl. He’s in love. She’s a finance student named Pia. She’s half-Swedish.”

Tin made an impressed face. Can knew he had become quite fond of Good even if he never admitted it. Can trusted Good and Tin was learning slowly to open himself up to more people and Can’s friends were the obvious starting place because they were the ones that he had the most contact with and Can had already ‘vetted’ them. 

“Let’s invite them over for dinner. Or maybe go out for dinner? Is inviting people round for dinner a bit middle-aged? Argh.”

“Either is fine,” Tin said, amused, and sat down next to Can only for Ren to barrel into him. He turned his attention to her, talking softly to her with heart eyes. Can sneaked out his phone and took a photo of the two of them, the dappled light filtering through the tree throwing an ethereal glow over them both and posted it to Instagram. Tin was so handsome—no, fucking gorgeous—and Ren was so cute with huge eyes and dimpled cheeks and hair still wild but long enough to tie back in adorable pigtails. “Everything is set up and ready to go for the party.”

Tin had surprised Can by inviting Good to arrive a couple of hours early to distract him from the party set up so that the staff could get on with it. Really it was a housewarming and birthday party combined. All of Can’s friends were invited, Ren’s little friend from swimming, Ink, and his parents, Ley and Ma, and surprisingly, Tin’s mother. Rasaa Medthanan had not been joking when she’d referred to herself as a grandmother and seemed to be trying to make up for her poor parenting of Tin by making a real fuss of Ren. Tin’s father was less enthusiastic, preferring to keep his distance, but had displayed no hostility towards either Can or Ren since their unorthodox meeting several months ago

Can reached out and squeezed Tin’s hand. Their eyes met. Can said, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Ren’s second birthday

Tin collapsed onto the edge of the bed with a groan and palmed his face. “I’m beat!” he complained, wondering if he could even muster the energy to dry himself off properly after his shower. He raised his head and glared at Can who had stayed downstairs a few minutes longer before bouncing into the bedroom to begin peeling off his clothes to throw in the general direction of the hamper. “How do you still have any energy?” Stupid question, he knew, as it was Can and even though he was no longer a teenager and was probably busier now than he had ever been, he was still boundless. 

Today’s party had been ten times more exhausting than the one the year before. Over the past year Ren had acquired more friends, which meant six two-year-olds and with at least one parent each splashing in the pool before being set loose on an obstacle course in the garden, as well as all the usual crowd, slightly expanded to allow for new partners and new acquaintances. 

As the parents with the young children had started to leave the remainder had cracked open the beer and wine and the party had continued. Tin had put Ren to bed an hour later her usual time and Jet had promised to listen out for her as there was no way anyone would hear her over the low music and chatting that was filling the living area and the immediate outsides. 

Can’s laughter drifted over to him as he disappeared into the bathroom. Tin heard the shower turn on and he finally found the energy to get up and begin to get undressed. He had just managed to pull on some boxers and rub his hair half dry when Can emerged from the bathroom, looked Tin’s near naked form up and down and winked.

Tin’s cock stirred despite his fatigue and when Can crawled onto the bed and yanked his boxers back off again he did not put up a fight.

:::::

When Can was nervous his energy levels shot through the roof. He paced restlessly along the length of the living area and back again, routinely checking the expensive watch Tin had sneaked in as a Christmas gift last year. 

“Stop worrying, you look amazing.” Tin said, and wow, did he ever. Can wore a suit surprisingly well, and with his hair styled into a tousled parting Tin thought he looked stunning. He stepped down off the stool at the island and went to stand in front of Can who immediately stilled and dropped his forehead to Tin’s shoulder. Tin whispered, “If Ren wasn’t here, I’d be suggesting a few ways we could burn off that nervous energy.”

Can snorted and on cue Ren said, “DaPa!” They both turned to see her clamber down from the sofa where she’d been sitting still for all of three minutes looking a popup book Nanny Rasaa had given her for her birthday. She toddled over to them with her red striped dress already rucked up over her nappy and raised her arms up. She always wanted to get in between them when they cuddled. Thankfully, since moving to the new house she had had her own bedroom next to theirs, so she didn’t see how close they really got when she wasn’t around!

They pulled apart and Tin scooped her up. He looked at Can. “Are you ready?”

Swallowing hard, Can nodded. Tin pulled out his phone and made a quick call. Can had passed his driving test a couple of months ago but there would be no driving themselves today, they would be arriving in style. Tin held Can’s hand the whole way to their destination. His boyfriend did not stop jigging his leg the entire journey. Tin pointed various things out to Ren along the way, hoping that would also distract Can but he was unsuccessful. When they arrived at the venue Can was paler than Tin had ever seen him.

Tin’s parents, Som, Ley and a few of their friends were waiting for them. Som took charge of Ren and everyone spent a couple of minutes making pleasantries. Tin looked at his watch and said, “We need to get inside, we will see you afterwards.” He was already holding Can’s hand so he led him into the venue, worried that he might bolt. 

They reached the green room Tin conversed with the stage manager, Can uncharacteristically silent beside him. Once they were alone again Tin said, “I have faith in you. I know you’ll be fine. Don’t forget I’ll be there too.”

Can nodded, still pale. Tin watched him swallow and raise his eyes up to look at him. Tin had no time to react before Can hugged him close, wrapping arms around him, pressing his head against his chest. Tin pulled him in closer. “I believe in you. You’re going to do great.”

The weekend after ‘the incident’ with Lhew and Tul, Tin had taken Can, Ren, Som and Ley to the beach house, and because Ren was with his own mother Can had felt comfortable enough to spend time away from her exploring the beach with Tin and that was there Can’s initial idea had been born. They’d walked quite a long way from the Medthanan house and happened upon some ragged looking children, boys, and girls together, playing football on the sand. Can had kicked a ball back at them and that had resulted in him joining in and teaching them some moves. When the time had come for them to return to the beach house the kids had all fallen for Can’s enthusiasm and were begging him to come back and teach them again the next day.

Can had been unusually quiet over dinner with his family that evening, but Ley had plugged all the gaps with her own chatter. In bed later that night Can had announced that he wanted to quit college to raise Ren. However, it wasn’t as black and white as that. Can still wanted to qualify. He still wanted to play football. He just wanted to prioritise being a good father, a good partner and now the idea had taken hold of him he wanted to set up a scheme to for kids to play sports. In that moment, his future changed.

A year and a half later here they were, launching Every Child Foundation. A charitable trust, sponsored by Medthanan Real Estate, it would be funded by donations. Sports for any child who wanted to play, regardless of income. Football, basketball, and some athletics to start with, with plans to grow. Can, who had always shown reticence in accepting money from Tin, had had no qualms asking for backing for the project because the money was not for him, it was for the kids. 

Can had left college after that weekend. He’d finally asked his mother if she wanted to move into the house in the grounds of their new property, and she had said yes immediately. She now hired out the old family home as a television location set and made more money from that than if she’d let it as a home. Can enrolled online for the sports science classes equivalent to the course at LBC. Turned out his learning style was visual and as a result he thrived. He started a coaching course. Tin’s business knowledge and Can’s passion for sports had the project springing into life with speed. Can had developed time management skills Tin was proud of him for, and he was able to spend a lot more time with Ren and clearly loved every moment of it. Tin thought he was an amazing father. Still, Ren’s first word had not been ‘Pa’ or ‘Dad’ but ‘dog’, and her first steps had been witnessed by neither parent but by Lemon.

Tin remained at the IC to complete his degree and his father returned to the helm of Medthanan Real Estate after Tul’s departure. The difference was that Tin was now involved in what went on and consulted on big decisions—he had to be the one to sign some of them off—but after a long talk he and his father had agreed it was best he complete his degree and take a backseat. Tin wasn’t even sure yet that he wanted to run the company when he graduated anyway, he had many ideas for other businesses. He just liked that the option was open to him now.

Now here they were, about a year and a half after Can’s first vision, the project was launching.

Tin was right. Can did amazing. His speech to the assembled guests and journalists was enthusiastic and near flawless. Tin saw his nerves, but he knew him better than anyone, most people would not even notice. Tin had stepped up afterwards as the project’s financial backer to endorse it. Then they both had taken questions from the floor. Journalists had been prepped not to ask any personal questions, but it was probably inevitable that someone would try as this was their first chance for an audience with the two.

It started with, “Tin, do you think that you would have backed this project if it weren’t the brainchild of your boyfriend?”

“I can’t say for sure. I’d like to think so, however I was there for the inception of this idea, I watched it grow. Backing it was a natural progression. If someone else had come to me with the same idea I would not have had the same attachment to it.”

Another journalist braved a further question. “Can, rumour has it that the first time you met Tin you punched him in the face. Is this true?”

Can looked away from the journalist and met Tin’s amused eyes. “It’s false. The first time he nearly ran me over with his car. The punching came later.” He looked back at the journalist. “We did not get on when we first met.”

The journalist tried to come back with another question but thankfully the MC cut in then, reminding everyone why they were there. It was soon over, the two of them backstage together, Can’s grin so wide Tin thought he’d give himself a headache. He fetched out his phone and took a picture of them both, suited and beaming, then at the reception afterwards that Som took a photo of them both down on their haunches talking to Ren. He posted on his IG. 

Life was good.

Ren is five

“I really hate that woman,” Can said, glaring across the hotel bar in the direction of Tin and the ridiculously pretty American journalist sitting across from him interviewing him for some magazine article. Can had already witnessed some of the photoshoot which the same journalist had been observing earlier in the day before he’d headed off to the pool with Ren to meet her friend Ink. “Look at her, why does she need to touch his knee? Does she think she’s being subtle?”

To Can’s delight, Tin lifted the woman’s hand off his knee. 

“I think she’s being a lot more subtle than you are,” Type said calmly, clearly amused at Can’s predicament. “I’m surprised she doesn’t catch fire.”

Can tore his eyes from his boyfriend and the harlot to glare at Type instead. “See how you’d like it if it was Tharn.”

Type pulled his ‘you could have a point’ face. “I’ve never seen Tin as much as look at anyone else, I don’t know why you’re being like this.”

“I know he’s not interested in her! I’m not jealous. It’s just, since he took over at the business, suddenly everyone wants a piece of him. I remember when I first met him, and I Googled his brother he was listed as Thailand’s second hottest guy or something. I Googled Tin the other day and he was number one! The article had a photo of him walking out of the sea when we were at Pattya last year looking like that scene in James Bond, and said he was taken but ‘don’t worry ladies, he might not be forever’.” Can planted his chin in his palm, elbow on the table. He was rambling and he knew it. He was just so pissed off.

“You don’t believe that do you? The forever thing.”

“I don’t know, forever is a long time, but that’s not the point.”

“So…what is?”

“I don’t like them treating him like he’s just a pretty face and a hot body. I mean, obviously he’s both, but that’s not why I love him.”

Type started to laugh. “It helps though, right?”

Can narrowed his eyes at his friend and said, “I’m getting another drink.” He looked around for the waiter who instantly materialised, probably because this was Tin’s hotel, and he was Tin’s boyfriend. “Do you want one?”

They ordered two more beers and Can resumed glaring in Tin’s direction. Sighing, Type stood and said, “That’s it, you sit there,” he pointed at the chair he’d just vacated that had it’s back to Tin. “You’re going to give yourself an embolism if don’t stop the laser eyes.”

Knowing better than to argue with Type, Can did as he was told and resumed his glaring in Type’s direction instead.

“You might not be jealous, but wow…Tin was tying himself in knots over you and that Job dude not long ago. He made me look sane.”

Can cringed. Job had been a guy hired as a tennis coach at the Bangkok Every Child. On paper he’d been the perfect candidate and he probably would have been great in the role had he not taken a more than friendly liking to Can. Not that Can had noticed. Apparently, everyone else had. Tin had voiced his suspicions about Job, and they had had the biggest fight of their relationship to date, resulting in them not talking for over a week. Can had told Tin he was imagining things and accused him of not trusting him. Tin had called him stupid and oblivious. 

Job had made his move on Can one afternoon when Can had been about to leave for the day. Ren had come to work with him as she often did if he was training. He rarely worked a full day so he’d bring Jet or Ani too so that she wouldn’t get up to mischief, they were waiting outside. He had not seen it coming. Can was feeling miserable due to the fight with Tin. Job had said something about helping to cheer him up and Can had found himself pinned to the door with Job trying to stick his tongue down his throat. Job had then found himself both lying on his back on the floor with a black eye and fired.

To Tin’s credit, when Can had told him what had happened and apologised for not believing him, he hadn’t said ‘I told you so’ but had hugged him tight and said, “You don’t realise your own attraction,” and kissed the top of his head. 

“Now that you mention Job,” Can said, suddenly remembering why he’d invited Type to meet him today in the first place. “The actual reason I invited you was to ask you to come and work with me. I need your managerial skills.”

:::::

“…as for the future, we predict bigger and better things for the newly renamed Medthanan Group now that it’s under leadership of Tin Medthanan, a man with a sharp mind and strong family values.” Tin stopped reading and lowered the magazine to look over at Can as he sat cross-legged on the bed in his pyjama bottoms. 

It was the article written by the journalist with the wandering hands, written in English which Tin had translated to Thai as he read it to Can. Can’s English had improved since he’d met Tin, but not enough to digest something so long. Can held out his hand, “Can I see?”

Tin handed him the magazine and sat down on the edge of the bed. It was clear from the cover that the magazine was not the business magazine Can had assumed but the kind that ran human interest stories alongside fashion, travel everything else in between. He scanned through the accompanying photographs, mostly from the photoshoot that had taken place the day of the interview. Tin, in a variety of designer suits in various locations around the hotel, looking fucking hot. There was an old photo showing a younger Tin with his parents and on the last page of the article, a shot lifted off Can’s Instagram of Tin, Ren, and himself.

“What does that say?” Can said, pointing at the text beneath the photo. 

“Tin Medthanan with his partner, the Instagram sensation, and founder of Every Child Foundation, Can Kirakorn, and their five-year-old daughter Ren.” Tin nudged Can with his elbow. “I’m sure you could have translated that yourself.”

“I just wanted to be sure,” Can said with a pout. “It’s actually a good article. Apart from the ‘Instagram sensation’ rubbish. I still hate her and her wandering hands though.”

“Can, you have nearly two and a half million followers!” Tin pointed out. 

“Fish food! I’m hardly Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s got, like, two hundred million or something.” Tin had nearly as many as Can anyway. The nation, and surprisingly people from all over the world, had really taken to them both as a cute and photogenic family unit. Can suspected Ley had something to do with their popularity with all the BL forums she moderated but he couldn’t prove it!

“Can we go to bed now? I’m exhausted.” They had just got back from Good’s bachelor party which had been an all-day event with activities before food and drinking. It was still ongoing but as neither of them were big drinkers they had decided enough was enough when No had climbed on the table and attempted to dance along to ‘Dynamite’, complete with high kicks.

Can threw the magazine in the direction of the bedside table, not caring when it missed and landed on the floor. He shifted to face Tin, waggling his eyebrows. “You looked sexy in that photoshoot.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Come here.”

:::::

Can leant in, hooked his fingers under the towel yanked. Tin wriggled and kicked it away, cupping a hand around the back of Can’s head, pulling him in for a kiss. Can allowed it for a couple of minutes, aligning his body against Tin’s while shimmying out of his pyjama bottoms. 

Can broke away and kissed a trail down Tin's neck, his fingers gripping hard onto his hipbones as though he thought that Tin might fall over. They fell back onto the bed and Tin scrambled backwards, letting his legs fall open in invitation. He was so tired, and it wasn’t often they did it like this, but he needed it. Needed to be taken care of. 

Can licked his swollen lips. "God, Tin," he breathed, crawling up and over Tin so that he was straddling him, their faces millimetres apart. They kissed again and Tin bucked up against Can, already desperate to have him inside this time, to fuck away the itch. Tin could feel the weight of Can's cock, hot and heavy against the flat plane of his belly and he reached down and circled it between thumb and forefinger. Can groaned and sat up. He regarded Tin with dark eyes for a long moment before staring down at where their cocks were lined up together, red against the paleness of Tin's skin.

With one hand Can reached upwards and smoothed his thumb over one of Tin's sensitive nipples, then leant forwards to replace his thumb with his tongue. He kissed a path across to the other side and up Tin's chest and buried his face in Tin's neck. Tin wriggled beneath him, "Can," he said, tilting his hips upwards. "Don’t tease me today."

Can nipped Tin's earlobe, sitting back up again to say, "Come here."

Can scooted upwards and Tin their eyes locked. He wanted, needed this. Can, like this above him, desiring him, trembling for him. Can ran his thumb along Tin's lower lip and Tin caught it between his lips, loving the gasp it elicited.
Can moved then, nudging Tin's thighs open with his knees. Tin let his thighs fall open, eager for what came next. Can stole another kiss from Tin, hand moving along the taut smoothness of Tin's stomach, tracing the hair of his treasure trail south, teasing Tin's erection on his path past his balls, to his destination between Tin's thighs. He sat back then, Tin chasing his kiss.

Reaching for lube Can liberally coated his fingers. They had long since stopped using condoms. Can was staring down at Tin's hole with a hungry expression. Tin lifted his hips, hurry up, and Can obeyed, opening Tin up with his fingers causing Tin to yell out and buck upwards. "Can," he managed. "Just give me your cock!"

"Impatient, are we?" Can teased, removing both fingers, and leaning back to regard Tin, eyes dark with lust. Can looked fucked out already, his dark hair flat against his head, a thin sheen of sweat across his forehead. So beautiful like that. Tin's heart constricted painfully. Can was… everything.

"I’ll die of old age soon," Tin complained. 

Can rolled his eyes and this time he didn't waste a second and before Tin could speak again, he was lining up his cock and pushing in. Tin felt a moment of brief pain, reminding him of the first time they’d done it like this, and he’d been incredibly tense. Can leant down over him and covered Tin's lips with his as he bottomed out.

Tin tangled a hand in Can's hair and hooked a leg around the small of Can's back, pulling him in. Their eyes met again as Can began to move. At first it was slow as Can found his rhythm, tender and sweet as the kisses. Tin wrapped his other leg around Can and slipped a hand between them to wrap around his own cock as Can began to pick up pace. 

When he stopped and pulled out to sit back on his heels Tin groaned in protest until he unpeeled Tin's hand from around his cock and replaced it with one of his own. He easily pulled Tin down the bed despite his larger size and pulled his bottom onto his knees before plunging back into him. Tin wrapped a leg around him again and Can paused to lift the other leg onto his shoulder. He was staring down at the point where his cock joined Tin, eyes wide. The hand around Tin's cock began to move and the pace picked up, as did Can's breathing.

Tin wasn’t much of a talker during sex and when he topped, he wasn’t too noisy either, unlike Can who, unsurprisingly, could be very loud. However, when Tin was the one getting fucked, he found it impossible to stay quiet and this time was no different. He couldn't hold back the volume even if he had wanted to. As Can fucked into him, telling him how he was going to make him come undone, Tin's groans intensified as he approached the edge.

Can leant forward again and kissed him, swallowing his, groans. "I love you like this," Can said as he pulled out completely before slamming back into Tin hard, stripping Tin's cock between them, pulling something close to a scream from him as he teetered on the edge of coming. "Can, do it, fuck me, yes, yes—YES!" He came then, come spurting between them as for a moment the world turned white.

Can fucked him through it with a rhythm that matched the hand on Tin's cock. "So perfect, Tin, so perfect," Can breathed as he spasmed inside Tin, burying his neck in Tin's throat.

After a couple of minutes catching their breath Can pulled out flopped down beside Tin, breathing still heavy. Tin somehow found the energy to reach for the box of tissues from beside the bed and cleaned the come off their stomachs, dropping them to the floor afterward, figuring he'd worry about the mess later. Normally one of them would go a fetch a flannel and clean up properly but Tin knew he was going nowhere. 

“You’re scarily good at that,” he managed, curling into Can’s warmth. “You need to do me more often.”

He closed his eyes and didn’t hear Can’s reply as sleep claimed him.

Ren is seven

“It’s not fair!” Ren flew into Tin’s arms, eyes red from crying. “What will happen to Ink?”

Tin shot a quick glance at Can who had just emerged from the bathroom and was towelling his hair. Their eyes locked in mutual understanding. The subject of Ren’s best friend, Ink, the same little boy she’d met all those years ago in the swimming pool was one they’d discussed at length these past few weeks. The two small children were firm friends. 

Ink’s story did not have a happy ending. His father had died in a motorbike accident two years ago and now his mother had terminal cancer. When death came for her, and it would be soon, there was no family to take Ink. 

“Why don’t you go and get changed, Ren,” Can said, sitting on the edge of the bed so he was more on her level. “Ink and his mother are waiting so we can talk about it together.”

Ren nodded and came to him for a hug before leaving the room. 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Can said, letting his legs fall open so that Tin could walk into the gap and Can could wrap his arms around his waist to look up at him. During the years they’d been together Can’s eye had never strayed to another even in admiration. His heart belonged entirely to Tin Medthanan. 

Tin was twenty-six now and even more devastatingly handsome than he had been at nineteen. A man who drew admiring looks wherever he went without anyone even having to know who he was. He sat at the helm of the Medthanan Group, and in the past few years had increased its revenue and worth five times over – partly by expanding into other fields that interested him. Yet, he did so without sacrificing time with Can and Ren. “My family comes first,” was his motto. His success lay in his new ability to trust—those who had earned it—and therefore delegate and let those he entrusted with the responsibility would thrive. 

His right-hand man was—whoever would have predicted it—Ae. Once they’d finally laid their hostilities aside Tin had realised that Ae was sharp and keen minded and was frankly wasted in the Engineering Department. 

“Are you sure you want to do this? It will be chaos.” 

“We are not letting that little boy go into the system.”

It was all just words anyway. They’d already got everything legally tied up. Ink’s mother, Han, had cried in Tin’s arms for an age when they’d approached her about taking him in when she’d gone. They’d invited her and Ink to stay at the house with them and she’d gratefully done so. It was all so bittersweet, Ink would be safe and loved with them, but Tin had become very fond of Han over last few years, the older woman had a sense of humour like no other, she didn’t deserve her life to be cut so short, but the cancer had beaten her.

Today was the day the adults would sit down with the kids and tell them what was going to happen. Tin knew Can had been losing sleep over it for weeks. 

“Come here.” Tin held his arms open and Can stepped into the void. “We have a few tough months ahead. We just have to be here for Han and Ink.”

Can nodded with a sob and wrapped his arms tightly around Tin.

Ren is nine 

“May I please have a biscuit?”

Without looking up from his tablet Can said, “No.”

“Paaaa! I’m hungry.”

“You’ve already had your breakfast, an apple, some seaweed snack and a banana.” Ren was an early riser and had been up for a long while already. They’d been for a run together before breakfast. 

Can could hear the pout without having to look at his daughter. 

“Dad would say yes.”

This time Can did look up. Ren was glaring at him, arms folded, her long wavy hair tied up in a ponytail and…what the hell was she wearing? His brows drew together as he looked her up and down.

“Dad would say that my tummy is a ‘bottomless pit’ just like yours and that you should say yes.”

Can rolled his eyes. She was not wrong, that was exactly something that Tin would say. “Give me a kiss,” he patted his cheek, “and then you can have a biscuit.”

She sloped over to him and planted a wet kiss on his cheek. Can took the opportunity to give her a hug and to say, “Love you,” like he did probably twenty times a day to both her and Ink. Then he looked at her again, at the red layered polka dot dress and said, “Why are you dressed like that?”

“It’s ‘International Day’ remember? I’m Spanish.”

“No—I mean—I remember the day. I just can’t remember the last time you wore a dress.” Ren was not a girly girl. She had refused to wear dresses from around the age of three, would only wear trousers or leggings, she loved playing football and running, was obsessed with the climbing wall at the nearby activity centre and she and Ink were still inseparable. The boy didn’t seem to mind being bossed around which was just as well. 

Ren huffed. “Teacher said I had to wear girl costume. Dad helped me pick it on Saturday. Ink gets to be a matador.”

“Well, you and Dad chose good, you look fantastic,” he said and kissed her cheek. “Go and grab that biscuit, we need to leave in five minutes, and I want to you clean your teeth before we go. Tell your brother the same please.”

It was the last day of school before the summer break. Ren and Ink both loved school but were excited for the upcoming break. For him, though, it meant a crazy panic to get everything done before he finished work for a few weeks so that they could go on holiday. He’d be leaving everything in Type’s capable hands but still, he wanted to be up to date. Every Child was thriving, expanding throughout Thailand. As well as Type he had No, Good, ChaAim and Bow working on his management team. 

Ten minutes later, with clean teeth and after a rapid search for appropriate shoes to wear with Ren’s Spanish costume, they made it to the car for the school run. Ren being Ren, all her shoes were trainers and Can had had a fight to get her to agree to wear her black school flats as the best option. Ink had been waiting patiently by the front door. The two were opposites, Ren was a strong-willed ball of chaos, Ink was easy going and resonated calm. 

They made it to the pre-school with less than a minute to spare. Each child hugged him goodbye and Can said, “Don’t forget it’s Dad’s turn to pick you up today.” 

“We know!” Ren said, waved, and ran through the gate towards her teacher, her father already forgotten. 

Ink waited until Ren had headed inside before hugging Can tight. Can bent down to kiss his hair and whispered, “Love you, kiddo.” He was rewarded by a tighter hug before Ink let go, waved, and trotted inside.

Can chuckled to himself and ran back to the car. He drove straight home and went straight up to the kids’ rooms and packed a suitcase each before filling their backpacks with their tablets and favourite toys. 

:::::

Tin was inevitably early to collect the children. It must be embedded in his DNA, but he was always punctual—unless the Bangkok traffic got the better of him, which it rarely did as he always allowed for it. 

Ren came flying out of the door at home time, her ponytail at half-mast and the once pristine flamenco outfit tucked into the bottom of her underwear. “I’m sorry, Mr Medthanan,” said the member of staff was supervising. “She wanted to take the dress off all together but there were no spare clothes to dress her in.”

Tin looked at Ren who had a mischievous look reminiscent of her father on her face. “It was so uncomfortable, Dad,” she whined, yanking on the part of the dress that tucked in causing some of it to unravel so it was lopsided. “I couldn’t run in it!”

Tin rolled his eyes. “You remember today is your last day here for a few weeks? Have you said goodbye to everyone?” 

“I know!” she said but turned to the staff member and said, “Bye, Miss Photsi!”

Miss Photsi smiled. “Goodbye, Ren. Have a good break.”

“Where is Ink?”

Miss Photsi looked behind her. “Ink doesn’t like to rush,” she said as the boy appeared. He proudly held up a necklace of mismatched beads. “I made this for you.”

“Thank you, it’s lovely.” Tin pulled it over his head and leant down to kiss the boy. 

Each child held one of Tin’s hands. Ren chattered about the antics she and Ink had gotten up to that day, Ink nodded in agreement. 

“Why can’t Gucci come on the plane with us?” she asked, not for the first time. “The holiday won’t be fun without him.” 

“Gucci is staying at home. He wouldn’t like it on a plane.” The old dog would probably enjoy the peace and quiet home for a while.

“It’s not fair!”

“Then I think your Pa, Ink, and I will just go on holiday without you then,” Tin teased. “You can stay with your Aunt Lemon. We can detour to her house on the way to the airport.” Ley still lived with her mother and was working as an occupational therapist at the hospital.

“No! Are you serious? Aunt Lemon always wants to bake cakes and it’s so boring!”

Tin chuckled and unlocked the car and the children climbed into their seats and clicked their seatbelts into place. Tin settled himself into the driver’s seat before saying, “What will it be then? Holiday with your father and I or staycation with Aunt Lemon?”

He watched in the rear-view mirrors and Ren crossed her arms and pouted. “Holiday with you.” She saw him watching her and stuck out her tongue. “I was just joking, Dad. You and Pa are fun.”

Tin started the car. “Don’t you forget it, young lady.” He winked. 

Ren giggled and settled back to stare out of the window. She was quiet for approximately thirty seconds before she said, “How many minutes until we get to the airport?”

Tin groaned internally. It was going to be a long journey to London!

:::::

“Stop it,” Can whispered, gently elbowing Tin in the chest. “Jet or the steward will hear, and we’ll wake the kids!” Even as he protested, he knew he would probably give in. They’d been together for years and they still couldn’t keep their hands off each other. 

“They are both out for the count next door and the steward knows better than to come in here unannounced.” Tin had gone all out when he’d chartered the plane. It was like something out of a seventies Bond movie. It had bedrooms!

“Alright, lock the door.” 

Tin pecked Can on the lips and sprang up off the bed to turn the lock. He climbed back up and over Can, boxing him in with his arms and kissing him.

:::::

“You’re so…decadent!” Can accused after they arrived on the viewing deck at the top of the Shard, and he realised that they were the people there. “You’ve hired the whole place, haven’t you? Like the private jet and the posh hotel wasn’t enough.”

They’d been in the UK for almost a week and had spent all that time in London. They’d done a lot of sightseeing with the kids, being tourists on open top buses, going to the zoo, Buckingham Palace and the Planetarium. Today was the first day they had to themselves. Tomorrow they were leaving to explore the rest of the country—and Can had tickets to see Manchester United at home at Old Trafford!

It was a clear day, and they could see for miles. Hand in hand they walked the circumference of the building, coming to a halt the middle with a view overlooking the River Thames with all of London laid out before them. Tin moved behind Can, wrapping his arms around his waist, and Can leant back against him and placed his hands over Tin’s. He felt utterly content. 

It was a few minutes later when Tin said, “Can?” 

“Mmmhmm?” 

“Turn around.”

Can did, looking up at Tin expectantly.

Tin threaded their hands together. “Will you marry me?”

Can thought for a moment that his heart had stopped and then to his embarrassment a big fat tear emerged from the corner of his eye and rolled down his cheek. Tin wiped it away with his thumb. Can nodded and said, “Yes.”

Tin released his breath and kissed him. Can opened his eyes again and the room was filling with their smiling friends and family, all very obviously dressed for a wedding.

“We’d wait forever if we wait for this to be allowed in Thailand, so I brought us somewhere where it is legal.”

“Confident I’d say yes, were you?”

“Hopeful.”

Ren is eighteen

“Has anyone seen my— Eww! You two are insatiable!”

Can placed both hands on Tin’s chest and gave him a gentle nudge, peering around his husband to grin at his daughter who was shaking her head in despair at finding her parents necking in the kitchen. Again. 

Tin pulled away and turned to lean back against the counter beside Can. “Are you feeling left out?” He held an arm out and raised an eyebrow. Ren rolled her eyes and crossed the room into the waiting arms of both parents.

At eighteen she was a confident young woman, still sports mad, with a sensible head on her shoulders. She still preferred to wear trousers, these days mostly jeans, and always wore her long hair tied up. Her teenage rebellion had been a few awkward months when she was fourteen, because ‘you don’t understand me’ and there was talk of going to find her mother who apparently would understand her. She took to listening to old English indie bands on Spotify, hiding in her bedroom and to watching subtitled old American teen dramas like One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek. Apparently, this had a mysterious restorative power because she’d emerged one day as though nothing had happened. She had later said she had no intention of meeting her mother.

Lhew had married an older American politician and had never had any more children. Can thought it highly likely that her husband had no idea about her past. They had always been honest with Ren about it all, telling her whatever she had wanted to know. 

Can had always imagined that Ren might want to follow his line of work in sports, but she had asked Tin for work experience with the business and Tin seemed to think she had a natural head for it and planned to follow in his footsteps by studying business at the IC. She was effortlessly intelligent, unlike Can.

“Where’s your brother?” 

Ren stepped back and leant against the island and raised an eyebrow. “Which one?

“Ink, obviously.” The younger two menaces had had a sleepover at Aunt Ley’s. Doubtless Ley would have had zero sleep as when her two girls got together with their Medthanan cousins it was always total chaos.

“In his studio. Obviously.” Ren spotted what she had been looking for in the middle of the island. “I’ve got to run. I’m meeting Aria in half an hour.” She waved and rushed out the room.

Unlike his sister, Ink had developed a keen eye for fashion to the extent that he had set his sights on fashion design. He was due to start a degree in Women’s fashion design at London College of Fashion in a few weeks. He’d worked tirelessly to gain a place on such a coveted course and there were none prouder of him than his parents. The only downside was how much they would miss him. 

He felt Tin’s eyes on him and for a moment he couldn’t return it. Can knew what the look was for. They’d both spent their entire adult lives as parents and now the time had come for them to start leaving the nest. Ren was the same age he had been when she’d been born, and he was only thirty-six now!

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said, unsure whether to smile or cry. Still, he folded himself back into Tin’s arms. “I still want more kids.”

Tin snorted. Can might have mentioned his desire to have more children once or thrice. “I think four is enough.” 

Back when he was a teenager, before Ren had come along, Can had never even given parenthood a thought. Then it had landed on him and he’d run with it. He’d never expected to love it so much. Ink had been an unplanned but welcome addition to their family unit and Can had been happy with what they had. Until one day over dinner, Good’s wife, Pia, had asked if they planned to expand their family. At that point she and Good had two children and no plans to increase that number and they were members of their extended family. Can had looked at Tin and seen a longing look on his face that he hadn’t seen before.

Tin lived for Can and their family and Can had thought it was enough and it probably could have been, but with the subject laid down in front of them the oh-so-fleeting expression in Tin’s eyes had given him away. 

Pia had gone on to say that she and Good had agreed that if they wanted more children, she would happily be a surrogate, with a donor egg, adding how much she loved being pregnant.

It had taken Can a few months to convince Tin who felt uncomfortable about surrogacy. Still, two years later they were new parents again to a baby boy, biologically Tin’s, named Kit and another two years after that second baby boy, this time with Can’s DNA, Luke. The boys were now four and two. 

Can pouted and burrowed deeper into Tin’s neck. “Just a couple more.”

Tin snorted and pushed Can’s forehead with his palm. “We don’t have enough bedrooms.”

“We still have one spare… I’d settle for one more kid,” he said hopefully. “We could adopt this time.” He smiled brightly. Just one more. 

:::::

I’d settle for one more kid.

It wasn’t like Tin didn’t love being a father and having one child who was biologically his didn’t change what he’d realised at the age of nineteen. That a person didn’t have to be linked by blood to be family. Their children, their large group of close friends, mostly unchanged since their university years and their children. 

Tin already knew he was going to give in if Can was serious about having more kids. If Can wanted ten more then they’d have ten. He always gave in to his husband. He adored and loved him just as much now, probably more, than he ever had. Can’s cuteness had faded and turned to handsome, and his hairstyle was more sophisticated, but his physique had not changed much. For a couple who had been together for eighteen years they had lost none of the passion.

Ren’s mother had never re-entered their lives. Tul had never caused them trouble again either and had remained a peripheral part of their lives because of Phu. He was had reunited with Gonhin, the son of one of the Medthanan’s staff, who Tin had long suspected to be more than a friend to Tul before his hasty departure years before. Tin could never forgive his brother, but he didn’t begrudge him what happiness he had, not when he could not possibly be as happy as he was. 

“I’ll think about it,” he said, knowing that Can would take that as fait accompli.

“Really?” Can said, stepping back to look up at Tin.

“Really. I… might need a little persuasion first.” Tin placed both hands on Can’s hips and lifted him onto the counter. He made space for himself between Can’s legs and went in for the kiss. He never could get enough of Can, never would. They’d only been up for an hour and it was not even eleven o’clock on a Saturday morning. Tin had already been inside Can twice. With the younger kids on a sleepover, they had stayed in bed way later than normal. Twice, and now he wanted him again. “Let’s go back to bed.”

“Mmm,” Can managed, opening for him, wrapping his legs around Tin’s waist. 

Lost in each other they didn’t hear someone entering the kitchen until Ink’s voice said, “Ewww! You two need to get a room!”