“Is there a reason why you are standing there looking at your phone like it killed your pet? Speaking of which, where’s Can, I don’t see him around today.”
Tin looks away from his phone. Tul is as annoying as ever, although with less malicious intent.
“I've been trying to call him for the past three hours..”
The query in his brother’s voice made Tin look up from his phone.
“Why? Did you need to ask him something?” he asked, immediately suspicious.
Tul scrolls on his phone as he answers Tin’s question without looking up, obviously distracted.
“Phupha went out with Hin and I have been trying to call him as well. It’s been almost three hours as well. DId you check Can’s location? Maybe they are together.”
“Did you think I’m dumb enough not to check , of course I did, it wasn’t on either.”
Tul frowned as he tried calling and again was met with a disconnected tone.
“Let’s wait, maybe they were having fun and forgot the time.”
An hour later, Tin is contemplating if he should call the assistant to the Chief of the Crime Suppression Division for help as there was practically no news at all and not even Hin and Phupha showed up.
His brother is getting antsy and on the edge, reverting back to the habit of biting his nails and staring off into space occasionally.
“Did you think…”
“Tul, don’t say that and don’t think about it.”
Of course he’s referring to Tul’s past kidnapping incident and this would push his brother over the edge into a panic attack.
:No, but Tin, it’s a possib…”
Tin’s phone went off and he made a scramble for it.
“Tin, did Pete happen to go to your house? I couldn’t get in touch with him all day. He said he was going to meet Can in town. ”
That’s when Tin realised that something could be truly wrong.
For Can to simply be seen with one of Bangkok’s richest families will already put him at risk and in full view of prying eyes. Adding to the mixture another rich businessman’s son and it didn’t help that Phupha frequently goes out in public with Hin and his grandfather.
Tin should have insisted on security detail hanging around them. He did bring it up with Tul but both Hin and Can objected, saying it might scare Phupha and Can didn’t want strangers hanging around them (”I’m not anybody special, Tin!”) .
He should have insisted on it.
Ae arrived on his bike and in his panic, nearly falling off. Tin pointed towards the shady part of the porch.
“You can park there, don’t block the entrance.” he said curtly and turned back into the house.
“I haven’t told his mother yet. Should I tell Pete’s mother that he might be in trouble? Did you inform Can’s mother ?”
Tin closes his eyes as he remembers the promise he made to her , that he would love and protect her son to the best of his ability and she wholly placed that protection in his hands.
“No, Ae. I have not told anybody yet. We have not received any ransom note or anything like that so it might even be foolish for us to be imagining things to scare ourselves. The only reason I’m asking you here is because your boyfriend apparently dissappeared around the same time as ours. “
Right at that moment, there was a crash on the other side of the room. Both Tin and Ae turned to see Tul dropped to his knees infront of some pieces of broken glass, his phone on the other hand.
“I think I know where they are, it was there for a few moments but then it went off again. Hin’s location, I know where he is.”
Tin rushed for his phone and tru enough, he could clearly see where Can was but he’s never been there and it seemed to be somewhere in a coastal area.
“That’s where…” Tul faltered.
“What, where is this place?” Tin urged, feeling the fear and anxiety creep under his skin.
God he needed to get to Can as soon as he can, all this not knowing is too much for him. He hasn’t been in that headspace for some time, not since Can came into his life.
Tul glanced up at Tin and then at gaping Ae, confusion all over his face.
“It’s where Father’s yachts are being docked and he has a patch of land there. What are they doing over there? It’s so far out and out of place. And Phupha is with them. “
Tin didn’t trust Tul to drive so he insisted they take Tin’s Mercedes. It’s an hour ride out of town, towards a marina which their father owned.
“What is in there, Tul? Why would they go there? Are there any houses there that maybe Hin needed to attend to…” It does make some sense that maybe Hin needs to go there to attend to something, now that the drive allows Tin to have some rational thinking.
It might not be kidnapping like Tul had feared, otherwise there would be a ransom .
But still, the thought of Can being harmed somewhere unable to call for help haunted his mind. A look in the rear view mirror showed Ae’s anxiety mirrored his.
The other possibility would be some accident happened but why would they not call for help? It just does not add up in Tin’s mind. Upon reaching their destination, Tul is a bundle of nerves in the car.
“I haven’t been here in a long time, I mean, I know Father has some properties here but I didn’t know he built some houses here.
There were a few yachts and a larger one at the far end. In the backdrop were a few houses , all done in contemporary style in hues of dark wood, light walls and glass. It looked expensive and ready for occupation, as there wasn’t any sign of buildings or renovations being done.
Suddenly, Tul takes off running down the wooden boardwalk towards the larger yacht and sure enough, Phupha is running down towards his father.
And behind him, the case of the missing boyfriends is solved.
“It’s Father’s idea,” he half-listened to Hin telling his side of the story in the circle of Tul’s arms while Phupha hung off his father’s back like a koala.
“Since Phupha will be starting school soon and you are always busy with work , he wants you to spend time with us before going back to work so...we prepared the house for the past few hours as a surprise. I’m sorry if you were worried.”
Tul is silent throughout the explanation, occasionally holding Phupha ‘s face in his hands as if unbelieving that Phupha is fine but his grip around Hin never faltered. Tin recognised that as Tul attempting to reel in his shock and wondered if Hin knew it as well.
It’s probably for Phupha’s sake that he didn’t react in a more dramatic way and from the way, Hin tried to make eye contact a few times and failed, Tin guessed that Hin must have just realised it too.
Ae is in the same way with Pete, chiding him gently while everybody else is distracted.
In a way, Tin is similar to Tul.
Both had suffered so much loss in their lives, Tul had lost Hin while Tin had lost his childhood to trauma so to be faced with this, even if it’s fake and supposed to be a pleasant surprise, it is all too much.
He tried to rein in his emotions because Phupha was so excited to show them what he had prepared, they had decorated the yacht with balloons and fairy lights, he had made a hand-made card for his father and lastly a video call from their father, wanting both Tul and Tin to enjoy some time with their loved ones.
“By the way,Vadee says she will be coming by in two days to bring Phu out so you can have , um, the houses to yourselves.” The implication of that isn’t lost on them and even Can got the hint, judging from how red he has turned.
While Ae and Pete sat down near the top of the yacht and both Hin and Tul was busy attending to Phupha, Can pulled Tin into the deck below.
“I’m sorry, I know you’re upset.” Is the first thing he says when he pushes Tin to sit on the bed and lock the door behind him.
“I know you are, you have this look in your eyes. Tin, I won’t have any more surprises if it makes you this stressed…” He’s clearly distressed, wring his hands and Tin hates to see him like this.
“I shouldn’t have dragged Pete along too but he has some good ideas in organising these things, I’m just useless at everything and I know they can use some private time together and I’m just so stupid. I’m so sorry.”
To Tin’s complete utter shock, Can actually burst into tears and it’s so out-of-character to him that Tin stares at him for a few long moments.
His thoughts finally caught up with him and he pulled Can’s hands away from his face and true enough, there was snot hanging from his nose. He grabs a piece of tissue from the bedside and offers it to Can to wipe his nose.
“Can I be honest with you, Can?”
This made Can stare up at him with trepidation.
“I won’t lie and say this is an entirely pleasant experience. Me and surprises, actually us, my brother and me , we don’t take too well with surprises because, well,” he gestures around with his hands, unable to form any words.
“I had the worst thoughts when I couldn’t get hold of you. It’s like you disappeared and it was like my life before you all over again. I can’t get back…” The memory of him crying in the shower flashed through his mind and he clenched his eyes closed.
“I know. Remember when I asked you if you did drugs and you looked at me like I betrayed you and you looked so hurt. Today, I see it in your face , only it’s like five times more. That’s when I know I fucked things up.”
Tin didn’t realize it was that bad and now he’s scared Can with his emotions.
He pulls Can onto the bed and hovers over him.
“It’s okay. I have you safe now, it’s nothing serious and I shouldn’t have overreacted.’
Can nodded through his tears eyes, dislodging more tears and Tin thought it’s the most heartbreaking thing he’s ever seen.
“Cantaloupe. Do you hear me?”
He nods again and silent as well as if the words got lodged in his throat.
“Say something. What’s wrong?” His thumb reached up to wipe the wetness from Can’s face and pressed kisses on both cheeks.
“I know it’s serious but I can’t help but be excited that we are going to be alone for the next few days.” Tin is confused until he feels something hard poking his stomach.
“Cantaloupe.” He warned when Can started wiggling under him.
“I can’t help it! We bought stuff, Pete and I . You know to prepare and lucky Hin was there to advise us and I think Pete almost started crying in embarrassment as we paid up at the counter.”
“What stuff?” He shifted to his side so that he isn’t crushing Can under his weight or feeling something poking his stomach.
“Stuff. It’s in the house. It has a kitchen and everything. Stove, pots, aprons…” he trailed off , burying his face in Tin’s chest.
“An apron.” The confusion must have shown on his face. Can lean in closer to whisper.
“Remember your birthday,”
Ah, so now it all makes sense. He remembers that day as getting an eyeful of Can’s bare ass in nothing but an apron.
“But it’s nothing as interesting as what Pete bought, it’s this short skirt with thigh-hig-” Tin quickly shut him up with a finger to Can’s lips.
“I don’t want to hear what lingerie Pete buys and do you want me to imagine what he is wearing while having sex with Pete? “
“No! You are only allowed to think about me!”
By the time each of them merges from their various spots, Pete looks positively ruffled and messy and Can is grumbling about a hickey on his neck.
Tul looks more relaxed and Tin raises his eyebrow at how Hin is sitting on his lap with just Phupha playing games on his Switch a few metres away.
He indicated to Tin to come closer, that diabolical intent in his eyes made Tin hesitate.
“Take Phu for a few hours. You had your moment down below, I barely had mine and somebody owes me a proper apology for scaring me.” He says tensely.
“Eeew. And also you shouldn’t have him sitting on your lap like that. You have a child, Tul.”
If stares could kill, Tin would be dead on the floor right now.
“ You disgust me. You have two hours.” Tin said before he steps into Phupha’s direction where Can is already sitting there with a big bucket of popcorn.