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Keep A Piece Of Me For Me

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“You sure you should push it in like that? It’ll be a tight fit.” 

“That’s what she said.” Win responds unashamedly and he definitely deserves the towel snapped against his bare thigh. He laughs as he turns away from the mirror and towards his unimpressed husband. 

“Couldn’t help myself. And yeah, it’s fine; the hole’s just closed up so pushing the earring through is the best- gotcha!” Win crows triumphantly as the last silver stud finally pierces through his skin. A low throbbing ache radiates from his ears but Win looks at himself in the mirror with a satisfied grin, admiring the collection of cuffs, studs and dangling silver hanging from his ears after months of bare lobes. 

Behind him, Team moves up to wind his arms around Win’s waist, hooking his chin over the older man’s shoulder, “I know you missed wearing them but I still think you should have gone to get your ears re-pierced before shoving those things in there.” 

Win simply makes a non-committal hum before turning his head slightly to capture Team’s lips in a kiss, “It’ll be fine. I used to wear them regularly, I know what’s good for my ears. Trust me.” 

Team doesn’t look entirely convinced but the earrings are in and Win isn’t dressed and Pharm is a stickler for punctuality. So he shrugs and plops himself on the bed to wait. 

Leaning his weight back on his hands, Team is sorely tempted to say something to make Win hurry up but he holds in tongue in favor of admiring the sight of his half-naked husband. 

This is the first time in months that either of them have managed to have a day off from training, business meetings and the responsibilities that come from being adults. Team’s schedule as a national swimmer doesn't just involve his actual swim training but multiple meetings with brand endorsers, sponsors, fans, international coaches and the like and Win's been busy after officially taking over the family business. Neither of them have had a chance to simply be with each other and their friends. 

Somehow though, all 6 of them have managed to finagle a weekend free of responsibilities and Pharm had jumped on the opportunity to invite them all to a pre-opening of his new restaurant. 

It was a little tradition the chef had started, back when he’d opened his very first restaurant. The weekend before the opening, Pharm would invite his closest friends and family to the new restaurant to try out all the menus and to see whether they’d enjoy the ambiance. 

They've done it for the last three restaurants and the nights have always been a hit; a chance for friends to catch up and for all of them to let go of adult responsibilities. 

And Team is looking forward to this weekend; two whole days with Win where they can be naked in bed and answerable only to each other. 

Speaking of naked, Team chastises himself for losing focus and redirects his attention to said husband, who has finally stopped admiring his ears and is in the process of pulling dark jeans on. 

8 years together and Team will still feel that hot flash of want and affection every time he looks at Win. The tattoos covering the expanse of his back and arms, inked skin that Team has marked with his lips. Pale skin hiding lithe muscle, built from years of being in the pool, strong enough to lift him and pin him to a wall. Dark hair, thick enough for Team to grip and yank as Win brings him to the brink with his skilled fingers. And his piercings…Team didn’t realize how much he's missed seeing the silver jewelry swaying in those ears. 

Back before Win officially took over the family business, he’d only ever take out the piercings when meeting with investors or other businessmen. But now that he’s actively participating in the corporate world, the earrings haven’t been moved from their little tray on the dresser in months. 

Now, Win’s gotten them in for the first time in a while and though Team was worried about the man’s ears closing up, he’s now infinitesimally glad to see the silver glinting under the lights. 

Win catches him staring then, as he fixes the cuff of his shirt. There’s a leer in his grin as he approaches Team and it’s only years of being under the scrutiny of that grin that protects Team’s cheeks from reddening. 

Instead, he merely raises an eyebrow at Win as he stands and sidesteps the hand reaching for his ass, “We’re going to be late and I’m not above throwing you under the bus if Pharm gets mad.” 

“I’ll throw you under me.” Is Win’s pouty muttered response; a phrase that only makes Team snort as he plucks their keys from the wall and heads out the door. 

Dinner made by Pharm is, as always, a resounding success and Team polishes off his last bite of gelato with a happy hum. Pharm’s new restaurant is dabbling in Europe’s kitchens and the empty plates of pasta, pierogis, phyllo pastries and stews already promise that the new concept will be a hit with the locals. 

Half listening to P’Pruk gush about Mananow’s ability to make their daughter laugh, Team sips at his wine and lets his gaze roam around the low-lit restaurant before it somehow zeroes in on Dean. The reason? 

Because for maybe the first time in his life that Team has known him, Dean’s attention isn’t on the love of his life, maker of best foods and all-around sweet human being, Pharm. 

It’s on Win. 

And when Team looks at Win, he thinks he might know why. Win’s ears are red under the soft yellow light and while that might not be wholly distressing, the fact that the hotelier keeps reaching up to scratch at the reddening skin with a wince is cause for concern. 

Win sits almost diagonal to him at their round table, Team having been yanked down to sit between Manaow and Pharm. He catches his husband’s eyes and points subtly at his own ear, worry clear in his eyes. Win shakes his head; he doesn’t want to be a bother and apparently, he’s not going to be an adult and take care of himself. 

Bless Pharm though, because the young man sees Win’s discomfort and immediately pipes up to ask, “P’Win? Would you like an ice pack? Your ears look really red.” 

Before Win can even shake his head to disagree, Dean cuts in, looking for all the world like the scary swim team captain from their university days, “It’s looking infected; didn’t you clean your earrings before you put them back in?” 

Wilting a little under Dean’s stern gaze, Win tries to defend himself, “I sprayed them with isopropyl. It was enough before. I’ll be fine.” Pharm returns then with a small gel ice pack that Win takes, grateful despite his protests. 

The conversation turns then to more questions about Pharm’s business ventures but Team keeps his attention on his husband, watching as the man presses the cool pack in relief against his inflamed ears. 

20 minutes later on their way home, Win still hasn’t taken off the piercings but has since replaced the ice pack with a new one, keeping the gel against his cartilage. 

Team knows that he should say something, knows that if he orders Win to take off the jewelry and stop being so stubborn, the man would do so. 

But he says nothing. Because Team knows his husband and knows he thinks he knows the reason for his stubbornness. 

Win’s always considered his tattoos, piercings and blonde hair to be an extension of himself. First done in order to grab the attention of his family, it has since become a way of presenting himself and his personality to the world; a statement that he is comfortable in his own skin and unashamed. 

When the time came to switch his hair back to it’s original black, the change was accompanied by the promise that it would be the only modification. Except in the months gone by, Team has seen Win take out more piercings for each meeting until none remained in his ears and the light colored shirts meant to subtly show off his tattoos have been switched to darker hues. 

Tonight is the first night in a while that Win’s been able to put his piercings back in and openly show off his tattoos without fear of corporate reciprocation. To force him to take them off...it’s less being stubborn and more the need to hold onto a piece of himself near. 

It’s why when they get out of the car, Team interlocks his fingers with Win’s free hand and once they get up to their apartment, he heads straight for the kitchen, putting the kettle on boil. In a bowl that he lines with aluminum foil, Team spoons equal measures of salt and baking soda and then pours in the hot but not boiling water in. 

He turns to look at Win then, gesturing to the bowl on the counter, “Will you put them in now please? We’re home and it’s just me. You don’t have to pretend.” Team says softly and it warms his heart like no one’s business when Win does just that; plucking out the cuffs and studs and long dangling silver to plop them carefully into the hot water. 

With a pleased smile, Team leads them both to the bathroom, patting the large counter so that Win can hop up, which the older man does without protest. With quick sure steps, Team brings in  towels, their med kit and a worn shirt of his for Win. 

As he fills the sink with hot water and plugs it, Win changes into the soft short-sleeved shirt quietly, feet swaying over the floor. He opens his legs to let Team stand in between them and with a gentle hand, Team turns Win’s head to one side. 

He barely manages to hold back his pained hiss at seeing the reddening and warm skin. Dipping the towel into the hot water, Team wrings out the excess liquid and carefully applies it to the infected cartilage. 

Win hisses at the heat before relaxing and Team lets his other hand rest over Win’s chest, thumb stroking lightly over his clavicle. He applies the hot compress twice before rifling through the open first aid kit, emerging with a bottle of saline solution and anti-bacterial ointment. 

Neither of them say anything as Team works but Chiang Mai provides the perfect backdrop for them, cars and lives passing in the streets below them. It’s when Team applies the ointment for the last time to the other ear and is pulling his hand away that Win catches it. 

He curls his fingers with Team’s, eyes down and Team waits. In their relationship, Win has never been afraid to be the one that speaks out but there are times when he puts away that confident persona and needs a nudge, that reassurance that he’s in a safe space. 

Team gives him that with a squeeze of their joined hands and it’s enough for Win to confess softly, “It felt like I was losing more of myself than I had. That...there were pieces of me falling away...and I couldn’t stand that.” 

“Your piercings and tattoos don’t define you hia; same way being a swimmer doesn’t define me. They explain facets of your personality but they’re not the definition of you as a person.” Team says softly, bringing his free hand down to Win’s knee and squeezing. “So next time you’re in pain, stop being a butthead and take out the damn things yeah? And clean them properly before you put them in.” 

Win nods, looking chagrined before he quirks a smile, “Did you just call me a butthead? Are you six?” 

With all the maturity in the world, Team sticks out his tongue at his husband, “I’m not the one who gave himself an infection because I was too stubborn to take out my earrings.” 

Easing the sting of his words with a kiss to Win’s cheek, Team steps back, throwing the towel into their laundry basket and putting away the med supplies, “I’m going to dry out your earrings; if you’re going to shower, make sure not to wet your ears.” 

Before he can leave though, an arm is slipping around his waist and warm lips are descending onto his own, tongue licking possessively past the seam of his lips. It’s quick but effective, leaving Team feeling breathless and dazed.

“What was that for??” 

“I don’t really need a reason to ravage my husband but if you want one,” Win says, pressing Team into the wall of their bathroom, dexterous fingers flicking open the metal button of their jeans, “It’s because having you take care of me is beautiful and I love you and I want your dick in my throat. Problem?” 

And honestly, Team would normally squeak and blush and tell Win to shut up. Right now though, Win is already lowering himself to the floor and they do have two days off...it wouldn’t be right to refuse. 

“No problem at al-oh fuck !” 

 

Ooo

 

Later, when they’ve showered and Team’s reapplied the ointment and his legs have stopped feeling like they might collapse under him, Win tugs him closer to his side under the blanket. 

He doesn’t say anything but the kiss pressed to the top of Team’s hair tells him two things. 

I’m sorry. I love you. 

Smiling into Win’s chest, Team kisses his reply to the marked skin there and hums an old lullaby from his childhood to bring them to sleep. 

 

Ooo