"P'! We're supposed to be-"
"Win, look. We have a new neighbor."
The young boy tsks and sighs exasperatedly. He isn't curious. At all. But if his brother is making this much fuss, maybe he can take a little peek.
"Look. Over there. In Par Aranya's old house."
The younger of the two looks over to the huge house right next to their kitchen. With the windows just low enough to look out, he and his brother perch their chins on the sill and watch the new neighbors move huge boxes after huge boxes.
It takes a while.
They're just- they're just watching these people move boxes and the young boy's attention span is short and still painfully playful. And this is even as boring as cutting vegetables.
"P', how long are we going to watch them carry boxes? This is boring. Help me chop the carrots or-"
"Win, they have a kid. Maybe we can ask him to play with us later."
"P', if you don't come to help me right now, I'm telling Mae."
His brother was dazed and silent as if he didn't hear what he just said, so he looks out again.
The little boy with the new neighbors is super, super cute. Like, like if he squishes his cheeks, he's sure his hands will be full of fluffy, fluffy cheeks, and white pale cheeks.
"He's so cute, P'Wan." Young Win says a little dazed. Emphasizing 'so'.
"I mean, sure." the older boy answers.
"What do you mean? Don't you see his cheeks? Look at those cheeks." Win says forcefully.
"I see it, Win. Chill. He's cute, but my Niran is cuter!" Wan answers.
"Niran? P'Niran? How did P'Niran get into this conversation?"
"I'm just trying to tell you my crush is cuter. And I have better taste in crushes."
"P'Niran? As if he's as cute as next-door fluffy cheeks."
"Uh-huh! So you do have a crush on him!"
"Pft. No. What are you talking about? That doesn't make any sense."
"A crush doesn't have to have sense. You can find them cute, and sometimes that's enough."
"You're 13 years old, P'. Stop talking like you know what you're saying. Act normal.
"I only pretend to be funny and stupid, Win. How else are you going to sound like the smart one in this family?
"You're so weird, P'Wan. You're even weirder today." Win remarks.
He takes one more peek and torpidly smiles when cute-fluffy cheeks run around the house, making the fluffy-haired tall guy chase him around. He looks so cute in his baby blue shirt. His round cheeks making his eyes look even smaller. And-
The sound Wan made successfully bringing Win out of his daze.
The younger hastily hides his smile and clears his throat in retaliation.
"There was a bird. A butterfly. It's gone now." Win says.
"Sure. Okay. I'll go talk to the new kid. You continue with your carrots if that's what you wanna do. I'm sure the new neighbor kid is more fun than you, anyway." Wan says. Wiping his hands on the apron their mom made them wear before taking it off.
Win looks at his older brother throws the apron over the counter, and shouts- "You're too old to ask him to play with you P'."
"If you're too jealous Win, then come with me." Wan answers.
Win huffs and continues to chop the carrots. Cutting it for a few seconds, before running after this brother.
To help him ask the new neighbor to play with him, of course.
Team stirs awake when he hears a loud thud come from the kitchen. He springs up on the bed, and hastily wears his slippers to see-
"Oh, you're finally up. Good. Good morning" Korn greets.
His Papa In waltzes across the room towards the sole table with a mug in one hand, the coffee pot in the other. He kisses Team in all his hedgehog hair glory.
"Dad? What are you doing here?" Team answers.
"Good morning to you too, Team." Korn tries again.
"Baby, your dad and I taught you manners. When someone greets you good morning, you say it back." In reminds the youngest male.
"Fine. It back. How did you get here, Pa?"
"Don't be rude to your Pa, Team. Or you don't get an allowance for a month." Korn threatens.
"The next semester is not for another month, Dad. At the least. I'm sure you'll forget it by then."
"Try me," Korn says forbiddingly.
"Umm, by taxi. Just a few minutes ago." In interjects hesitantly. Standing in the middle of the father and son, riling and goading each other by the minute.
"Korn, Team, stop it!" In exclaims.
"Okay. I give up. I'm sorry, Papa." Team raises his hands in mock surrender.
"I'm sorry, babe. You know we're just playing, right? Don't get upset, babe please?" Korn gently tells his annoyed husband.
"Whipped." Team mouths.
Looking at his parents acting like a couple of teenage sweethearts. They're speaking in hushed tones, he can hear if he listens carefully, but Nah. Too much, so early in the morning.
"Good morning. Thanks for the coffee." He says loudly this time.
"Better." Korn chimes while slowly walking away from the kitchen table to go to the couch.
"You're welcome, baby." In adds.
"So, how did you guys get in?"
"We met Win on the way up. He said you're sleeping here in his room and that we should show ourselves in. He's getting something quick to eat since the reception is not till 4 PM and you might not get another chance to eat again."
"Okay." He rubs his eyes for any remnant of sleep and thinks other grateful thanks to his father for the steaming cup of coffee already prepared for him.
"So," In emphasizes the 'O'. Like in a sing-song.
Team looks up from his cup of coffee when his father doesn't continue.
"Yes?" Team skeptically hums.
"So, Win huh?" the elder quizzes. Failing to be nonchalant.
Team holds in cough and instead spurts coffee in his father's face. Which gets an alarming scream from him and Team hastily looking for some tissue.
"Pa! You can't spring that on me."
"Yeah. I got that the moment coffee got on my hair"
"It's fine it was my fault. Good thing I wasn't wearing anything fancy or I could've- never mind."
"It's not what you think, Pa. Nothing happened." Team replies.
Well, nothing happened last night.
"I'm not thinking anything, baby. You need to tell me."
"No. It's not. We're not-. It's me. It's just me. Just me."
"Do you really wanna play this game?"
"it's nothing, Pa. Really."
"Then why can't you look me in the eyes?"
The younger looks up and looks at his father straight in the eyes. But with the dark glint in the other's eyes, Team can't get the words out and fails.
"Are you gonna start talking or do I have to get it out of you?"
"Can we talk about this after the wedding? We don't have much time."
"Fine. But after the wedding, I'm grounding you for a month if you don't start yapping."
"What's whatever?" A new voice joins in.
Team sees his older blonde friend walk in with bags of food.
"That's a lot of food, Nong Win. Are you going to feed the whole building?" In rushes up and helps the younger.
Team stays rooted in his seat, fearing his legs would fail on him. Fearing the elder heard more than he let on.
But the other just smiles and takes the food out one by one. Then looks up at him and smiles again. Team looks at Win's retreating back to get plates and set up the table and when he turns around then looks at him and he smiles again.
They finish eating, it was a daze, a blur. But Win stood up so quick, and takes all the plates to the washer, but not without stopping to look at Team first, then flashes that pearly smile, that stretches his cheeks just right.
And Team's breath halted because it was so beautiful and so genuine. And he can't believe he almost, almost swore off to not seeing this smile again. In an attempt to save his broken heart.
He looks at his retreating back for the second time and Team looks down and thinks if he smiled back, or if he looked as if he needed a punching.
A punch of reality that, no.
He's not over him.
And that oh, he's still very, very much, in love with Win.
KornIn decided to check on Team that morning because he wasn't answering his phone. Knowing their son, they're afraid he won't wake up on time. But turns out they didn't need to be so worried.
They always knew Win was a very responsible man. It's good that childhood best friends are already made up. Win and Team had most of their cuts and bruises, together with growing up. They're attached to each other's hips since the day they moved into Win's neighborhood. the youngsters slowly moving out one by one. Finding their paths in life and it's one of the things In liked about growing old.
He gets to see so much around him. Seeing the young Wan annoy the hell out of his brothers, is now getting married to the love of his life, and Win is getting more handsome and famous. He heard from Team that his Hia is quite the "heartbreaker/ casanova". Both girls and boys fall for him and his charms.
But he defended his honor right in the next sentence. He said that it's not like it was his fault though. People chased him left and right, and even if his Hia usually told people that he wasn't looking for a relationship, boys and girls just throw themselves at him.
It sounded like he was badmouthing him, but also something else.
In grew up spending some time molding himself into the person he is now. With age comes moments you realize who you are, and what you really want. And finding out he was not like other boys, was scary and something he hid for a long time. He spent years, years being afraid of people finding out, and hating him. That he almost hated himself because of it.
And he can see the same thing happening with his son. Not the hating himself-part. But the part where he thinks he needs to hide how he feels, and who he feels these... feelings for because he's scared. He's very familiar with it.
That and his son seems like he's got a bad case of the green-eyed monster.
It doesn't take rocket science for In to figure out that his son was falling for his best friend. He saw it happen every single time he came home from their playdate, and every time he talks about him. All the time.
He isn't worried tho. He knows Win.
Win has always been a good influence on his son.
Even when every time they came home with new cuts and bruises, as a parent, it broke his heart to see his son hurt, but the smile on both their faces and the way they look at each other, made him realize he doesn't need to be heartbroken or scared for his son.
One day he talked to Korn about it. He saw his husband looking at both children in a weird way, and he needed to be sure.
"Tee Rak, is everything alright?"
"Hmm? Yeah. Why? Is there something wrong"
"Oh, nothing. I just saw you looking weirdly at Win when he sent Team home this afternoon."
"Oh, that? I was just trying to find out if Win finally made his move."
"Finally? What do you mean? You noticed it too?" In exclaims.
"Babe, I'm a 40-year-old gay man, with a beautiful man as my husband, raising a son together. It's impossible not to notice."
"You didn't need to make it sound like that, Ter. You're so mean."
"Aww, babe. I'm sorry. But did you really think I wouldn't notice?"
"Well you didn't say anything, and I thought you didn't like it. That's why I asked."
"I noticed it way before this. I'm just trying to figure out if Win finally decided to make a move or something."
"So did he?"
"I don't know. Win is getting more and more, what's the word, umm, clingy. Like he comes here almost every day and sometimes even spends the night."
"It could be because he's going to college? He's going to Bangkok, right?"
And that's how they spent the whole night comparing notes and arguing who discovered what first.
In went to Win's parents for some tea, and it turns out, they've noticed Win liking Team since they were young kids. Wan even chimed in and said Win has actually been crushing on the youngest since the day they moved in.
Wan saying it was since the first day meant that the older son won.
In feels giddy and excited about all this, but he'd never imposed his sexuality on his son. Win might be having feelings for his son, and he won't stop him if he makes a move on Team because, at the end of the day, it's Team's decision. And he and Korn are just his parents and supporters. They're not raising him to tell him how to live his life.
Although it's highly likely that- well. He'll let them be. They'll figure it out.
The flowers are brought down into the lobby and they're contemplating on how to transport themselves and the stuff into the hotel. But they agreed that cleaning up and getting ready in the hotel is the best option. They need to set the place first before wearing the spanking new clothes they bought so, no risking getting it dirty. Win shrugs and says he's fine with anything. So does their Dad Korn. Apparently, he's way ahead of them and had his suit pressed up and ready in his hotel room.
"Team, you have everything, right?"
"Yes, dad. I brought everything you told me."
"Okay good. Nong Win, how will you get to the hotel?"
"Pa, we're not going together?"
"Well, your dad and I came here by taxi, so we'll go back that way. And we'll just take up space in the car, anyway."
"Are you sure, Pa?"
Just in time, a cab passes by in front of them, and Win raises his hand to call the driver over.
"Thank you, Luuk" In thanks Win, with the younger grins as a reply. And Team didn't fail to ogle.
"Alright, Dad. See you there."
"Bye Pa. See you later."
"Text us when you arrive at the hotel, okay? We'll help you unload the stuff." Korn says.
Team closes the door to the cab and waves.
"So, which car are we taking. Yours or mine?"
They're alone. Just Hia and me. We're alone. Oh my-
Team shakes his head to get out of his train of thought and asks.
"Which car are we taking?"
"Umm," He imagines their cars.
Hia's car is a sedan, but bigger than his. But-
"Let's go with mine, Hia? It's smaller than yours but I have a much bigger trunk space."
"Hmm. Right. Good thinking. Give me your keys."
"No. My car, I drive."
"No, I'm older, I drive."
"It doesn't work like that, Hia."
"Yes, it does. Give me your keys."
"Just let me drive. It's not a big deal."
"I can drive too! It's not a big deal."
"No! I drive."
"You know what. Fine. Fine, whatever."
"Good. Toss me the keys. We need to start loading the car. It's already 9 AM."
Team never thought that carrying buckets and vases of flowers can be... provocative. Intense, even. Okay well, he did think that before, but that was before he settled on not acting on his feelings.
That was before he talked to the elder, well talked. At least they're talking again.
And it's before he realized that the elder's too important for him to cut off. He did nothing wrong, he's one of the best people he knows and met. And he's not ruining his chances of spending time with them just because he's in love with them. That would be the greatest mistake of his life.
So why this again, huh, Team? Stop it. You're just letting yourself get distracted.
Just a simple reaching of hands to a stretch, it was.
Ugh. Team. Stop it.
'Pull. Yourself. Together.' Team thought.
So he looks at their finished work. And looks up.
And, the wedding rush, the bright sun, the skies that are as clear as day, and the miraculously cool air in Bangkok, are enough to break Team from the spell and put his head in the game. (Totally not an HSM reference. No.)
"I think it's better if you wash up in my room." Team looks to the right and watches the stubborn driver twist the steering wheel.
Win's forearms contract and show veiny arms when he changes the gear.
Team shakes his head and licks his drying lips.
"Umm, sure. But why? You know Dad has a room, right?" he answers.
The elder scoffs loudly. Team scoffs loudly in retaliation.
"What? Why do you sound like that?"
"Team, do you really wanna walk in on your parents right now? They've been away from each other for a week. I think you know what that means." Win's honeyed voice answers.
"Hia, they've had the whole night to themselves. I think they have more self-control than that."
"You really wanna risk it?" Win replies playfully.
He remembers he actually did walk in on his parents ALMOST going at it in the kitchen.
So their hotel room is-. Team shivers.
"Yeah. You know what, let's not. Yeah. I'll wash up in your room. My stuff is here in the car right?"
"Great. We're here." Win says.
Team looks out and sees the huge name of the hotel right there on his face.
"Wow, that was fast. Were we going too fast? I didn't even notice."
"Nah. The road is miraculously empty today. If this was on normal Bangkok traffic, we'd take at least 30 minutes."
Win drives towards the main door and presses the button to unlock the car door on Team's side.
"I'll go park at the back. Find P'Wan and P'Niran, and tell them we're here. And ask someone to help us move all this"
"Okay. I'll be gone a few."
"Take your time. I'll stay here in the car"
"Team, wait. I got you a keycard of my room, just in case."
Team hasn't been to a lot of lavish buildings in Bangkok, but the reception area of this hotel looks amazing. He hasn't seen a lot, but he knows this interior design must be exceptional. It's like those luxurious places you see in the movies.
"Welcome to blah blah hotel. What can I help you with today?
"Good morning, Khun. Can I ask for Wan Phichai and Niran Rueangrit's room number, please? I'm one of their guests."
"Okay. Can I see some ID, please?
Team hands it over, and the receptionist skims through a list on paper.
'Team, why didn't you ask Hia what their number was at first? That was- never mind.'
"Okay, let me see. Oh here. The one with the wedding today right?"
"They're in room number xxxx. But, I heard they're still setting up the garden, so they might be at the rooftop too," she says, then hands back his ID.
"Alright. Thank you, Khun ."
"You're welcome. Have a great day!"
Their room is quite high up. It's on the uppermost floor of the building and Team can see the top of Bangkok pretty well from the glass elevator. The sun is bright. Yellow and bright.
He looks out in time the elevator dings.
"Ai'Team, you're here! Good. Come help me. I need some assistance."
"P'Wan. Hi. Nice to see you. In just your towel."
"Yes yes. I know. Come quick. I sent Niran to my parents' room so I can surprise him. We only have a few minutes."
"But P'Wan, Hia-,"
"Can wait. But this can't. Here, grab the end of the rope."
"What are we doing?"
"I just told you, it's a surprise. Help me do it."
"P'Wan, we don't have time for this. There are still a lot of things we need to do for the venue."
"I know. But this will be just a second. I promise."
"Okay fine. Hurry up. What do you need me to do?"
"Okay. Grab the rope-"
And it turns out the husband-to-be was trying to use the rope as a ribbon. To wrap a gift.
He said when he was buying the gift, he forgot to buy ribbons. And when he asked the hotel staff if they had some, the staff only has extra rope. And so he needed to make do. Luckily Team has experience wrapping. Wrapping flowers that is, but that's more experience than the elder had, so when they finally succeeded in wrapping the gift, and hiding it, Team was let go. And the husband-to-be promised on going down after him to help.
Team went to the car with Win frowning at his phone. Team's tempted to snoop, but they're not at that stage yet. Well, Team feels like they're not on that stage yet. Like before. He feels like he can't snoop like that anymore, so he knocks on the glass.
Win smiles while he lowers the window. Team feels the waft of cool air come from the car's air conditioning. It's nice.
"You took your time. Is everything alright?" He smells Hia's mint-flavored breath.
"Yeah. P'Wan needed help with wrapping his surprise gift for P'Niran." He looks down and kicks an imaginary lint with his feet.
He pouts his lips towards Win's phone that's slowly sliding, facing down, on his chest.
"What about you? You seem upset?"
"Huh?" Win looks around and smiles, suspiciously.
Team pouts his mouth towards Win's chest.
"Oh, that? That was nothing. Just something silly. Is anyone coming down to help?"
"P'Wan promised he'd come after me to help. But I don't know."
"Oh, there they are."
"WinTeam! Why didn't you text? We could've come down sooner!"
"We weren't waiting that long P'Niran."
"Hi nong Team."
Niran addresses Team.
It suddenly came crashing down on Team that ever since he found out about the wedding, this was the first time he ever saw him. Them. Well except P'Wan grabbing him in the elevator in just a towel.
It takes a moment, but Team runs to meet them and jumps on them both in a crushing hug.
"Nong Team. Hi. You're getting big. So heavy"
"You're getting married P'. You're finally getting married"
"I know, Team. Someday, it'll be your turn." Niran whispers.
They huddle in the middle of the parking lot with Wan and Niran sharing Team's weight.
"Team. I know you're happy for P'N'iran, but I don't know if he can carry you much longer. His stick arms are shaking," Team overhears behind him, with a hand pulling him away from the two older men.
"But I wanna hug P'Niran more." Team pouts.
Wan glares at him, and Team teasingly adds, "Fine. P'Wan, too. Just because he'll become cooler by marriage."
"P', where should we put these? We still need to go to the temple to set the stuff there." Win asserts while pulling Team behind him.
"Well, because I'm a very smart person, we borrowed a hotel cart so we can bring as much stuff as we can. Smart, right?"
Team turns to Niran.
"P', it's not too late to back out. You're gonna have to put up with this for the rest of your life. That's not a good life."
"Ai' Team! I'm gonna get you if he decides to leave me! Ter, you're not gonna leave me are you?"
"Ewww. They call each other Ter, Hia."
"Team, stop teasing your P'Wan. I don't know if I can handle it if he starts crying."
"Okay, P'Niran. Only because you said so."
"Why I oughta-"
"Oh, is that the time? Yes, we're out of time. We need to move. Let's start moving, everybody. Chop, chop." the blonde male instructs and drags Team with him.
The move proceeded uneventfully. Some light banter here and there, but between all of them, they finished in no time.
Team texts his Papa about it, and the elder instructs him to bring the rest of the flowers to the temple, and that he'll meet them there.
With the limited time they have for the preparations, it's decided that after setting up the temple, Team will directly go to the hotel and finish the setup there. And his Papa will go back to the hotel after, to freshen up, and get to the temple for the ceremony. Team can miss some part of the ceremony, but not his fathers. Because they're there as guests.
Team is mostly there as the help. And thankfully the hotel package that P'Niran took came as a wedding package. They're not having the wedding there, but the staff that helps with the wedding can go to the wedding venue and help out. Hence his work there is mostly just to tell them where to put the flowers and the decorations, and his dad is in charge of the archway flowers.
They're mostly done with the temple arrangements, so he's taking a taxi to the hotel. He rings his Dad and tells him, he's on the way back. from the temple and he'll only wash up when he's done with the reception, and that they can go ahead of him.
Then texts Win he's on his way to his room to change to a new shirt cause he's sweaty. He's already in the elevator, and so he pockets it cause the signal doesn't get in the elevator, which he finds weird, but that's a thing. And then uses his keycard to open Win's door.
And so he was not expecting that there was going to be someone in the room with Win. And he looks really familiar.
He awkwardly waves and greets them, "Hi Hia! Sorry I didn't realize. Should I come back later?"
"Team, this isn't what it looks like," Win says but-
"Oh no, it's fine Nong Team. I was just here to bring Win some food cause he said the reception was till later and might not get anything to eat. Here. I brought enough food for 3 people. You're here to wash up, right?" Nang says.
"Oh no. I'm just here to change my shirt. I should've checked my phone before barging in here. Since you called me Nong, you're my P, right? I'm Team, and you are?"
"Nangfa. But my friends call me Nang."
"P'Nangfa. Nice to meet you. You look familiar."
"Just Nang. I did say my friends call me Nang, right?
"Oh, maybe you saw WIn's IG story? When he picked me up at the airport?"
"Oh? Oh yeah. I think that's- that's. I think that's it." Team stutters.
"Wait, Team, you saw that? I thought you blocked me on IG."
"I didn't block you, HIa. What are you talking about?"
"I made him post it. Cute, wasn't it? He struggled at first, but I was eventually able to convince him. I guess he just didn't want me to be mad. But he can be so stubborn."
"Shut up, Nang. That's not what happened. What the fuck?"
Oh. Of course. That Nang.
"I'll give you guys your privacy so, I'll just grab my shirt and go. I need to help set up the reception. Nice to meet you again, P'Nang."
"Team, what time will you be finished at the reception? Will we make it to the temple on time?"
"You can go there first, Hia. I'll get there when I finish here. Besides, your date is here. Don't worry about silly ol' me. "
"But who's gonna take you-"
"I said don't worry. I'll take a cab or something."
"But you'll be late?"
"I'll be fine. Don't worry. Oh, wait. Would you look at that, is that the time? Ohh I'll never make it to the temple ceremony if I finish any later"
"How about this, Hia? I'll text you if I"m finished, and on the way to the ceremony. How about that?"
"That's not good enough, Team." Win presses.
"Okay fine. I promise. Can I leave now?"
"Okay. Text me, okay? Don't forget your keycard."
"Yes, Hia. Bye. It was nice meeting you again, P'Nang"
"Bye, Nong Team. We'll put your food in the oven and set it to low so it's still warm when you get here, okay? Don't forget to eat it."
"Aww. Thanks, P'Nang. You're so thoughtful."
"Of course. Win's friends are my friends."
"Of course. Friends. Friends are there for each other, right? Thank you, P's"
And runs away with his used shirt still hanging on his shoulders.
He only realizes too late when he unconsciously used that shirt to wipe his tears. But he figures there's no way he's going back there.
So he texts.
"TMNT II (Cause we're badasses like that)"
'I'm the Raphael you dimwits. I'm the Team Strongest'- Guys. I'm at the hotel. Can you guys come here?
'You're Donnie. Fine. I give you this one, Pharm'- I still need to wrap my gift for later, Team. But is everything okay? Do you need more help?
'Lemon Mikey'- Wait. Gift? We're supposed to bring gifts?
Leeonardo (cause I'm the coolest)- I'm at P'Man's house.
'You're Donnie. Fine. I give you this one, Pharm'- Ohhhhh
'Lemon Mikey'- OHHHHH
Leeonardo (cause I'm the coolest)- It's nothing like that guys. He needed help rehearsing his song. And he always lets me listen to his song even though he already knows what I'll say. He's a great singer. And I'm not creative with compliments. So.
'Lemon Mikey'- Soooooo
'You're Donnie. Fine. I give you this one, Pharm'- SOOOOOOO
'Lemon Mikey'- Team. You're reading the messages but you're not- Are you okay?
'I'm the Raphael you dimwits. I'm the Team Strongest'- Can yall come here? Please?
'You're Donnie. Fine. I give you this one, Pharm'- Of course. I'm coming.
'Lemon Mikey'- Okay Team. Can I bring my dress with me? I'll just change in your room.
Leeonardo (cause I'm the coolest)- Yes, Team. But can I bring P'Man with me? He says he wants to come with.
'I'm the Raphael you dimwits. I'm the Team Strongest'- Okay. Sure.
Then locks his phone. Just in time, he arrives at the rooftop. He composes a smile before the metal doors open and greets the staff that greets him.