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you and I remain the same

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Win and Team had been apart for six months, two weeks and three days. That was how long ago Win had left to study in England, 9500 kilometers away from Team. Not that Team was counting the days. He actually wasn’t good at keeping track of those things, but when he went back through his calendar to see the day he’d drawn a bunch of angry faces on, he counted how long ago it was. It felt like about five years, if he was honest. 

They texted each other all the time, kept up with each other’s instagram and social media accounts. Win made stupid tiktok videos to entertain Team on bad days when Team was sad. Likewise, Team would send sappy videos at night, half asleep, saying “Goodnight hia” and pursing his lips in a kiss, but only when coaxed into it by Win. Usually because Win whined about missing him and pouted. Win rarely invoked the power of the pout, but with the distance between them, his other tactics weren’t viable options. Team wouldn’t admit it, but he missed Win enough to be talked into almost anything, even without the pout. He just had to put up the cursory protests, mostly out of habit. 

There were lots and lots of video calls, during which most of the barriers were down between both of them. Distance made them both sappier than either would admit to anyone else. In the privacy of their rooms, there had been more than one teary confession about missing each other, more than one sighed statement about longing to be together. And there was definitely lots... and lots ... of phone sex. Sex had been such a major part of their relationship from the very start (in fact, it was their entire relationship back then) that they most definitely had to figure out that part. And they did. It didn’t quite compare to the real thing, but it was as close as they could get and that had to be enough.

But soon... in approximately 12 hours, Win and Team would be together again. It was a long flight and Team was a ball of anxiety and nerves and excitement and anticipation and giddiness and fear. Would he get to his flight on time? Would there be any trouble in the air? At the airport in England? Would the strength of his English cause him problems? Would he be stuck next to someone awful for 12 hours on the plane? Was it all worth it if he got to see Win in the end? To the last one, yes, emphatically yes. That was what gave him the strength. In 12 hours... he would see Win. 

 


 

The flight arrived at 7 pm GMT. Win had gotten to the airport ridiculously early, got a good parking space, checked the information on Team’s flight approximately 75 times and then at least three more times after he got to the airport. He got himself a spot at the arrival gate to watch for Team. He refreshed the app on his phone that tracked Team’s flight. He checked Line for texts from Team. He checked the arrivals board for information. He watched other people arrive and greet their loved ones or drivers or just walk off through the airport alone. 

Finally, the plane was landing. Team’s plane was arriving and soon he’d be disembarking. Win’s phone pinged and he bounced on his feet, grinning broadly when Team’s message came through saying, “Landed!” with a sticker of a bunny rabbit giving a thumbs up. He shot back a quick “At the gate! See you soon, baby.” Win imagined Team reading it and blushing. He absolutely could not wait to see that blushing, smiling face and round cheeks and sweet eyes. People had told Win “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and he decided it was true. 

Win eagerly watched people coming through the hallway; he stood behind a barrier with others waiting. When he spotted a bunch of Thai people, his eyes darted through the crowd to find Team as quickly as possible. He saw the younger man before Team spotted him and Win gasped. He waved his whole arm over his head to call Team’s attention his way and his heart warmed when he saw the way Team’s face lit up as he spotted Win. 

They moved towards one another, ducking between other people and Win threw his arms around Team’s waist, drawing him into a tight hold. Team’s arms wound around Win’s shoulders and he let himself be lifted off his feet, laughing brightly as he tucked his face against the side of Win’s head.

“Hia...” the word was half choked out, somewhere between a laugh and a sob. 

Win set Team down on his feet again and pulled back enough to see his face, alive in person. He put a hand to Team’s cheek and smiled so wide it hurt. “Hey...”

“Hi,” Team leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together, and Win met him in the gesture; they both closed their eyes. It was as if they weren’t in a crowded airport arrival area, because the whole world narrowed down to just the two of them.

Somehow they drew apart long enough to get to baggage claim, pick up Team’s suitcase, and get out of the airport and back to Win’s flat. They didn’t let go of each other at all, apart from when Team pried his hand away from Win’s grasp so he could use a toilet that wasn’t packed into a tiny closet like the one on the plane. They held hands the whole drive to the flat, held hands as they got into the building and to Win’s floor. Even held hands when Win introduced Team to his flatmate James. Win was secretly pleased that Team’s shyness didn’t override his need for physical closeness. 

They spoke to James just long enough to be polite before James was the one to shoo them both away, telling Team to go get settled. So they escaped to Win’s room where they were alone for the first time in six months, two weeks, three days, and 12 hours. Team draped his arms over Win’s shoulders and allowed himself to be pulled in by Win’s arms. 

“Hia...” He whispered. They both closed their eyes, rested their foreheads together, and kissed. 

It felt like air filling Win’s lungs for the first time after holding his breath under the water for too long. It felt like falling into bed at the end of a long and tiring day. It felt like home. He licked into Team’s mouth, which opened willingly for him, and tasted his love for the first time in too, too long. Win had missed this more than he had missed anyone or anything ever in his life. 

When the kiss broke and they both tried to catch their breath, panting and puffing, Win spoke in a rough voice, “I missed you.” 

Team tightened his arms around Win, holding him impossibly close, sliding a hand into his hair. Win dropped his head to Team’s shoulder and squeezed him, breathing in his familiar scent. 

“Can we just stay in here now, hia?” Team asked after a while. He had purposely chosen a flight that got in late, so he could go straight to sleep and attempt to adjust to the new time zone, six hours different from Thailand.

“Yeah, baby... we can stay here.” Win stroked Team’s back, comforting him.

Team pulled back after a moment to look at Win with heavy lidded eyes, “I ... Please hold me in bed?” He looked so tired that Win’s heart ached.

“Of course.” Win cupped Team’s cheek. “Do you want to take a shower first?” 

The question made Team close his eyes and sigh, clearly torn.

“Come on, let me help you with it, then we’ll get into bed,” Win said at length. Even though he desperately missed Team’s body, Win wanted to comfort him more than anything. Nodding, Team let Win guide him to the shower. It was a slow and sensual endeavor. Team was bone tired and let Win move and wash him, scrubbing his skin, massaging sore muscles, washing his hair. Win would always and forever find Team beautiful, but right now all he could see was how run down Team looked. 

They sat on the edge of the bed after the shower, both dressed in sweatpants, Team in a light tee shirt (all Win’s clothes, because Team couldn’t be bothered to open his suitcase and root around). Team was settled between Win’s legs, back to his chest as Win ruffled a towel over Team’s hair to dry it.

“You haven’t been sleeping well, have you?” Win asked, setting the towel aside.

“Mmm... I couldn’t sleep on the plane and was too exci....” Team cut himself off and dipped his head down.

“Hm? Too what?” Win nudged Team’s shoulder with his own. “Too excited? Too excited to sleep last night? Excited to see me?” 

“Who’s excited? I didn’t say that,” Team demurred, frowning though he knew it was useless. 

Win tickled his sides and Team yelped, laughing and fighting off his hands. “Say it, you were excited!” 

“Fine, fine!” He grabbed both of Win’s hands and pulled Win’s arms around his waist in a back hug. Team pouted but leaned back into Win’s chest, “I was excited to see you and didn’t sleep.” 

Win kissed his cheek, then his shoulder. “Come on, let’s lay down.” 

They settled into bed under the covers, and Win pulled Team close in his arms. Their legs tangled together and Team tucked his head under Win’s chin, nuzzling into his collarbone. Win’s hand found a place in Team’s hair, combing through the tangles, massaging his scalp, scratching gently at the nape of his neck. Team hummed and sighed, letting all the tension drain out of him.

“I want to kiss you, hia...” He admitted, face hidden. “And more...”

Win smiled and kissed the top of Team’s head. He knew it wasn’t the kind of kiss Team was talking about, “Me too.”

“But.... can we just sleep first?” 

“I think that’s a good idea,” Win said softly. Then he added, “I want you wide awake when I show you just how much I missed you.”

“Hiaaaaa,” Team whined and Win laughed. After a little pout, Team grumpily said, “Don’t turn me on when I’m this tired.” 

Win had to close his eyes and breathe deep, because words like that from Team did things to him. It was naive to think Team didn’t get turned on by Win, with as long as they have been together and how many collective hours they had spent having sex. Any time Team actually admitted to being turned on, however, still drove Win wild. 

“Sorry, sorry,” Win murmured and kissed Team’s forehead. He settled, reaffirming his hold on Team, stroking his hair, and tried to settle his mind and body.

They did sleep, eventually. Both of them were too comforted by each other’s embrace after a long day of anticipation. Team was the first to drift off and Win followed after him, lulled to sleep by his boyfriend’s slow, even breaths.

 


 

The next morning, Win woke first, hearing his phone buzz on the bedside table. He groaned and opened his eyes, then smiled when he saw Team asleep in his arms. Somehow Team was more beautiful than Win remembered. His face looked soft when he slept, utterly relaxed. His hair was disheveled and splayed against the pillow. His arm was curled around Win’s waist and Win had to be careful of it when he rolled onto his back to reach for his phone.

Unlocking the phone and swiping to the notifications, he opened a text from James. Blurry eyes focused on the words and Win had to stop himself from laughing out loud as he read it.

[Got some errands to run. I’ll be out all morning. Be as loud as you want.]

He tapped out a quick thanks with a smirking emoji and tossed his phone aside. Win rolled Team onto his back and held himself above the other man. Leaning down, he pressed kiss after soft kiss to Team’s cheeks, forehead, nose, and jaw, until the other started to stir. Team’s eyes fluttered open and he looked up to Win above him, hair framing his smiling face. Win wasn’t imagining things when he saw Team take a small breath in and swallow hard.

“Hia Win...” He blinked a couple times, maybe trying to believe what he was seeing, reminding himself that it wasn’t a dream, he was in Win’s bed. 

“That’s me,” Win replied in a whisper, smiling down to Team.

One hand shot upward and Team held the back of Win’s neck, pulling him down into a crushing kiss. Win let his whole body lower down, resting on Team as he returned that kiss with everything in him. All the lust and desire, all the days he missed his lover. His love. Win slotted his thigh between Team’s legs, pressing against his crotch and rocking his hips slightly. Team moaned into the kiss and bucked his hips upward. His other hand trailed its way over Win’s bare side, across his back, pulling them together. 

With a rough gasp, Team pulled away from Win’s mouth to roll them over, putting Win onto his back. He lifted himself up, straddling Win, and looked down with a steamy hunger that made Win’s cock ache. Team grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it up and off, tossing it off the side of the bed, then dropped down onto his forearms. He captured Win’s lips in an all-consuming kiss, conveying just how much he missed this. Win bucked his hips upward, which Team matched by pressing himself down and making Win groan into the kiss. His hands found purchase on Team’s hips, keeping him and the welcome pressure of his hips there.

Team’s kiss left Win’s lips to travel down over his neck, licking, nipping, tasting. He inhaled Win’s scent from the place where neck met shoulder and it sent a shiver through Win’s entire body. One of Win’s hands was spared to slide into Team’s hair, holding the back of his head. Small gasps and little whimpers fell from Win’s lips each time Team worked over a spot that was particularly sensitive. The moment Team’s lips and teeth and tongue found his nipple and lavished attention over it, Win thought he might lose his mind. He was sure he would lose his mind when Team’s fingers moved to pinch his other nipple.

“Shit... Team...” Win’s back arched off the bed, chasing the feeling, the attention, and swallowed hard. A low moan rumbled through his chest beneath Team’s ministrations. His fingers flexed in Team’s hair and it just seemed to egg his junior on. He doubled down on his actions, flicking his tongue back and forth of the hard nub of his nipple before smoothing his tongue over it and drawing another moan from Win. “Fuck...”

Team sat up a little, rubbing his thumbs over Win’s abused nipples and gazed down at Win with hooded eyes, lips parted. Win was breathing hard as he looked up at Team, his hand having slid down to Team’s shoulder with the movement. They stared into one another’s eyes for a long moment, electricity between them, then all at once they were kissing again. Kissing hard and deep, consuming one another. Their legs slotted together and hips bucked, rutting against each other, both hard and wanting. 

The room was filled with the sounds of kissing and moaning, punctuated by brief gasps or grunts. Their hands traveled over any and all planes of each other’s bodies, grasping, gripping, grazing. Win’s nails dragged over the back of Team’s shoulder, scratching harder than he intended and it drew a small hiss from Team, before he kissed Win that much more fiercely. Win thought his heart might explode, or maybe just his dick; he knew he was leaking precum and he was going to need more than kissing and rutting real soon.

Win ripped his mouth away from Team’s, bringing his lips to Team’s ear to gasp out a few words, “I need more... Team, fuck, I want you.” 

Team moaned with desire and pulled back just enough to nod at Win. His face was flushed and lips were full and red from all of the kissing. Win had never seen a more beautiful sight. “Yeah... Yeah, hia...” He nodded again.

Feeling a little shaky, Win scooted back on the bed, pulling himself out from under Team just enough to reach over for the night stand. He just barely got the drawer open when he felt Team’s fingers hook under the waist of his sweatpants. Looking back over his shoulder, he raised a brow at Team, “Eager?”

Team leveled him with a flat look, “Six months, hia. Six months.” 

Win laughed and completely understood. He fell back again and rested on his elbows, lips pursed and nodded at Team, “Undress me then.” 

Team met Win’s gaze with a determination that Win was more used to seeing just before Team dove off the starting block at a swim meet. It sent a shiver through him, and Win swallowed thickly as Team returned to the action of removing his pants. Win lifted his hips to make it easier and almost hissed when the cool air hit his hot member. Team’s eyes were immediately trained on the hard shaft as he absently dropped the sweatpants to land half on the bed and half off. 

Leaning down, Team licked a long stripe up from base to head, swirled around the top and then took Win into his mouth. Win groaned long and low, letting his head fall back. He rested heavily on his elbows, feeling his arms shake, but not wanting to lie down completely just yet. Team’s mouth felt so damn good, warm and soft, familiar. After years together, Team and Win had learned all of the things that made the other feel good. Team was invoking that knowledge now as he worked over Win’s shaft, one hand joining to stroke him.

Win thought he was going to lose control. He had to reach out and grab Team’s shoulder, gently urging him to stop. Team came up for air, mouth open, and eyes straying from Win’s face back to his dick. Win had to laugh softly, but it came out more like several light puffs of air. “Baby, if you keep that up, you’re going to make me come early.” 

The smirk that turned up the corner of Team’s lips was cousin to a shit eating grin and a Cheshire smile. His hand was still wrapped around the base of Win’s cock and he locked eyes with Win before licking along the head again, tonguing the slit. Challenging Win. 

Win nearly growled, clenching his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut. He had to take a slow, calming breath before opening his eyes again to stare into Team’s. “You little shit.”

Team chuckled and shrugged one shoulder. “Because you never teased me a day in your life?” Win momentarily regretted everything he ever taught him. 

“Just for that, you have to get the condoms and lube.” Win gestured elegantly towards the bedside table he had been reaching for when Team distracted him. 

“Such a chore,” Team retorted with sarcasm as he climbed half across Win to reach for the drawer. Seizing the opportunity, Win smacked Team’s ass the moment it was within reach. Team yelped and quickly turned to glare at Win, “Hia!”

Win sneered playfully at him, “What’s taking so long, grab them already!” 

“I‘ll grab you...” Team muttered to himself and quickly snagged his prize before Win could make another move. The moment his hand closed around the items, Win snagged him with an arm around Team’s waist and flipped him over, putting Team on his back once more. Team looked up at him with a little glare that held no heat behind it.

“I think you’re overdressed for this event...” Win grinned at Team, then kissed his way down his lover’s chest. Win easily pulled the pants off Team’s hips, sliding them completely off. He heard Team’s breath quicken slightly before he saw the rise and fall of his chest. Win slid one hand around Team’s shaft and began stroking him slowly while pressing kisses to his hip. Occasionally, Win would graze his teeth over Team’s hip bone, eliciting a sharp intake of breath. 

“Hia... I thought you wanted more...” Team’s fingers carded through Win’s hair, giving the slightest tug. 

“I do...” Win lifted his head to look up at Team’s face, long fingers still stroking Team. “I just got distracted by this beautiful--”

“Hia!!” Team cut him off with the sharp word and a glare that had Win laughing. 

“Am I not allowed to call you beautiful?” He hummed curiously, pressing a quick kiss to the side of Team’s dick.

“N... not... that..” 

The blush crossing Team’s face warmed Win’s heart. Relenting, Win sat up, settling himself in a straddle over Team’s thighs. He looked down at Team and just appreciated the view of his gorgeous boyfriend laid bare before him. He tipped his head to the side and smiled.

Team smiled back up at him, sliding palms over Win’s thighs and stroking gently, “What do you want, hia?” 

His voice was soft and sweet in a way that made Win’s heart flutter unexpectedly. It made his stomach flip. After shifting forward, Win ran a hand over Team’s chest and rocked his hips in such a way that Team’s dick rubbed against his ass, “I want this.”

Closing his eyes, Team noded, hands gripping Win’s hips to urge him to keep rocking. As much as they both wanted to feel each other so much closer, taking things slow was so good, too. Win let Team guide him in his movements and watched the look on his face as he sighed and moaned, lifting his hips as well. 

Rutting, touching, gasping all went on for a long while before neither of them could take it any longer. Win moved further up Team’s body and grabbed the bottle of lube, pressing it into Team’s hand. “Take care of me?” Win asked in a way that he knew would get Team going all the more. 

Nodding, lips parted to take in a small breath, Team set to work, slicking his fingers and stretching Win out bit by bit. He took his time with it, more so than usual, maybe because it had been so long since they had sex or perhaps wanting to savor the moment, every bit of having sex together. While they were apart, Win had imagined having reunion sex with Team more times than he could have listed. He dreamed about it being hot and hard, rough and against a wall. He thought about the way they might grab at each other like even the smallest distance between their bodies would be too much.

Other times, Win imagined it like some hot, sensual thing, spending all night and all day in bed together, touching and tasting. Sometimes he just imagined the most casual way they had sex throughout the two and a half years they had been together. Every option was tantalizing and Win knew he’d be happy with anything that happened, because what he wanted more than anything was Team. And here was Team, in his bed, three fingers deep in his ass, staring up at him with fire in his eyes, free hand gripping Win’s thigh hard enough to leave marks.

Win was moaning, stroking a hand over his own chest and neck, his other hand pulling on his own dick as he pushed back onto Team’s fingers. Win was the kind of guy who knew he looked good, especially at times like this, but it never mattered as much as it did now, with the way Team looked up at him like he wanted to eat him alive. The hunger in Team’s eyes made Win’s mouth go dry when he looked down at the other man. 

“I’m ready for more of you, baby...” Win whispered to Team and delighted in the way it made Team’s breath hitch. He slowly and carefully pulled his fingers free in exchange for stroking his still hard dick. 

“Get the condom,” Team said, his voice husky. It sent a shiver through Win as he did as he was told, tearing open the package with his teeth, just because he could. It was a trick he knew Team liked, even though the other man wouldn’t admit it. Freeing the condom, he rolled it down over Team’s shaft, then slicked it with more lube. Maybe he stroked a little more than necessary for simple lube application, but it made Team close his eyes and arch his back, pressing his head into the pillow. A sight Win would never tire of seeing.

Satisfied, Win lifted himself up and Team lined up his dick, holding it still as Win sank down onto it. He let his head fall back once he had taken Team all the way in and settled there, taking long, slow breaths. Team’s groan of pleasure was music to Win’s ears. He curled his fingers in a tight grip on Win’s thighs, trying to control himself, probably just as much as Win was. 

“I missed this, hia Win...” Team breathed out and Win lifted his head to look down at his lover. 

“Me too, Team...” He dropped his hands down to press against Team’s broad chest, catching one nipple between the tips of his first and second finger. Win leaned forward just enough to look directly into Team’s eyes, holding his gaze as he began pulling off and lowering back down onto Team’s member. He wanted to see all the expressions on Team’s face and in his eyes as he felt that hot warmth surrounding him again.

No matter how many different ways Win imagined this... they all paled in comparison to the real thing. And the real thing was the most perfect version. Once he had adjusted enough, Win took a different kind of control. He straightened, reaching one hand behind his back to hold Team’s leg, then started rotating his hips in little circles as he lifted and lowered himself. It felt so good that moans began falling from his parted lips and Win lifted his free hand to run back through his hair. 

“Fuck...” Team moaned from below, and Win wasn’t completely sure if it was the movement of his hips or what he saw. Team’s eyes raked over Win’s body like he’d never seen anything quite so hot before. They stayed in that position for a long time, Win riding Team until they were both breathing hard, moaning pitifully. They were definitely taking advantage of the ability to be as loud as they wanted.

When Team could no longer resist the urge, he sat up, wrapping a strong arm around Win’s slender torso, pulling him in and kissing along his shoulder, up his neck and then capturing Win’s lips. Both of Win’s hands moved to lace through Team’s hair and their pace quickened. Team lifted Win and lowered him, taking him harder. He didn’t have the leverage he wanted, though, so he fully picked Win up, turned and dropped Win onto the bed. 

As much as Win liked taking the lead, being the older man, the taller one, whenever Team proved his strength or took advantage of his broader frame, it did things to Win that he couldn’t quite vocalize. At least, he couldn’t vocalize in words, he sure could in moans. And he did, when Team pinned Win’s shoulders to the mattress and angled his hips upward. He braced one hand on the bed beside Win’s head, the other gripping Win’s hip, and began thrusting deep and hard into Win.

Both of them let their pleasure be known to the empty room, Win moaning loudly while Team grunted with each thrust. Win’s legs were hitched up, letting Team get just the angle he wanted. His hands were pressed to Team’s back, nails digging in just slightly. He pulled Team down enough to catch his lips in a sloppy kiss, jarred by the thrusts. Giving up, he moved his kiss to Team’s neck and shoulder, sucking a bruise there that Team was sure to complain about later. Win didn’t care, it was worth it.

Team’s lips were suddenly against Win’s ear, biting at the lobe around the metal jewelry there. He licked a trail over the shell of his ear, then spoke against it, “Touch yourself, hia.” 

Win groaned and nodded, doing as he was told. He slipped one hand between them and began stroking his own dick, working towards getting himself off in time with the pulse of Team’s hips. It really didn’t take too long before he felt the pressure building up, feeling himself getting close. “Shit... Team... I’m almost there.” 

His breathing was ragged and so was Team’s. Spurred on by Win’s words, Team pressed deep and hard into Win, aiming for his prostate with each thrust. It drove Win absolutely mad, his fingers trembling as he stroked himself, and he knew he was going to be wrecked. As he reached the precipice, Win gave Team as much warning as he could manage, before the orgasm surged through his body. Win cried out his pleasure and his muscles clenched around Team. All it took was a few more thrusts before Team was shouting out as he came too. 

They both collapsed, spent and breathing hard, muscles weak. The only sound in the room then was their ragged breaths, punctuated by their pulses pounding in their ears. Win blinked slowly, staring at the ceiling, wondering if he’d ever be able to move again. Team ended up being the first to move, carefully pulling out of Win and apologizing softly when Win hissed at the feeling. He got rid of the condom and then flopped back onto the bed, laying on his back beside Win. It was unclear who reached for whose hand first, but their fingers wound up intertwined and Win ran his thumb over the back of Team’s hand.

Tipping his head to the side to look at Team, Win smiled, “I love you...”

Team looked back exasperated and rolled his eyes, “You’re so cheesy, hia.” 

Win pouted in a way that wasn’t serious, “You’re so mean. Can’t say something nice to your boyfriend that you haven’t seen in soooo long?” 

Shaking his head with a long suffering sigh, Team closed his eyes. It seemed as if he was thinking it over, and he must have come to a decision. Team’s next move was to roll onto his side, bring their joined hands to his lips and press a kiss to the back of Win’s hand. He met Win’s eyes next and said in a soft and honest voice, “I love you, hia Win.” 

Team promptly escaped the second after the words left his lips, off the bed and heading towards the bathroom. Win blinked in disbelief, stunned as he watched his boyfriend retreat. Any time Win teased Team in moments like these, he didn’t do it as a way to get what he wanted, it was just a way to show he wasn’t mad that Team struggled to admit these things. It was true that in the beginning, when they were in that nebulous stage where their relationship didn’t have any kind of definition, Win worried about those things. In fact, he worried about it a lot. But ever since Team had made his feelings clear, Win didn’t doubt his boyfriend for a moment. 

Maybe it was because of that, the fact that Win never pushed Team to express his feelings, that the times he chose to do it, it took Win’s breath away. The way that Team got embarrassed and retreated after each expression of love meant that it was true, too. Sitting up, Win placed his palms on the mattress behind himself and watched the bathroom door until Team came back out with a wet washcloth. He climbed onto the bed and walked over on his knees to kneel in front of Win, starting to clean his chest and shoulders. Team’s sweet eyes were trained on his work but Win’s were on Team’s face. He couldn’t help but smile at the boy before him.

“You’re so cute...” 

“Don’t push it,” Team grumped, frowning at first, but then smiling because he couldn’t help it. 

“I have a lot of teasing to make up for.” 

Team scoffed and shook his head, finishing cleaning Win up. Just before he pulled away, Win grabbed the back of his neck and pulled Team in, pressing a kiss to his cheek. Team allowed it with a little smile. 

“What are we doing today?” Team changed the subject and shifted, sitting cross legged on the bed beside Win. 

“Hmm, I was going to show you around town... show you off to my friends.”

Team rolled his eyes and raised a brow, “Show me off, huh?” 

Both of Win’s eyebrows shot up, “Have I not made it clear how cute you are?”

“Just cute?” Team challenged, a smirk growing on his face.

“Cute... Handsome, sexy, talented, funny...” He started counting the qualities off on his fingers. “Really good in bed...”

Team laughed and shoved Win’s shoulder, making Win laugh as he fell back onto the bed. After a moment, Team looked over to the closed bedroom door, “How thick are the walls here?”

“James left on errands this morning,” Win said, turning his head before reaching out and grabbing his phone. He quickly opened the text that he read just before waking Team up, then passed it over. “See?”

Team’s eyes flitted over the message, then he blushed darkly and turned away. He shoved the phone back at Win. “Did you ask him to do that?”

“No, he’s just thoughtful,” Win grinned, clicking off the phone. “We should thank him.”

“I’ll buy him a snack or something,” Team said, still looking away.

“Have I told you how cute you are?” 

“Yeah, like a minute ago,” Team groused, then got out of the bed again. He snagged Win’s hand and pulled him up. “Come on... let’s go, I want to see this place.”

Win laughed, “How do you have the energy after that?” He let Team pull him up, then stretched and groaned. 

“First, I slept well for the first time in a while, second, I still actually work out all the time. President of the swim team can’t be a slacker.”

“Hmm, wonder who taught you to be so responsible?” Win grinned broadly.

“P’Dean was a good role model,” Team shot back and Win’s face dropped.

“Asshole!” Win shoved Team’s shoulder and they both laughed.

 


 

The day started slowly for Team and Win, but they were driven from Win’s flat primarily by hunger. The pair had a quick snack from the kitchen after washing up and dressing, but soon hit the streets to find something more substantial. Despite his time in the UK, Win couldn’t get used to western breakfasts. The first time James saw him making rice to go with his omelet, he had been so confused. Team joked about how he should have brought Pharm along with him to England. Win shot back that they would have had to be quieter that morning if he did, then reflected aloud on how much he missed seeing Team’s blushes in person.

It was late morning when they arrived at a cozy Thai restaurant that Win had frequented when he was missing home. It was owned by a small, older Thai man that Win considered a friend by now. 

“Good morning, Win! Who is your friend?” The man greeted them both with a wai, speaking to them in Thai. Team smiled and politely returned the wai, relieved that he didn’t have to attempt English before he had food.

“This is Team, he’s my boyfriend,” Win said proudly, setting a hand on Team’s back. Team ducked his head shyly and tried to covertly make a face at Win, but Win just laughed and ruffled his hair.

The older man smiled, raising both hands in delight. “You finally got him here! Win has told me much about you.” Then he turned his attention to Win and nudged him with his elbow, “He’s cute like you said.”

“Hia!” Team’s eyes went wide and he glanced between the two of them in shock. He wasn’t expecting any of that, to say the least, not used to the older generation speaking quite this way. Perhaps things were different in England, or maybe it was just this man. The two of them kept laughing, though, and Team pouted until the promise of food turned his mood up again.

They were seated and given menus and Team was reminded that just because the owner could speak in Thai, that menus were still going to be in English. Since Win had moved to England, they had done a lot of practicing together on calls, plus Team had been studying it in school, but the language was still a struggle for him. It made him anxious even now. 

Luckily, Win reached out to tip Team’s menu down until it was on the table between them. “I think you’ll like this one, or this...” He pointed out dishes and explained what was in them. The descriptions had Team’s mouth watering. 

“Thanks, hia. I... didn’t really know...” He frowned at the menu.

They ordered and once alone, Win reached out and set a hand on top of Team’s, and to his credit, Team didn’t pull away. He didn’t even blush. “It took me a long time to figure out English words for foods. Mr. Apichart actually helped me learn a lot of them.” 

“Really?” Team tipped his head curiously. 

“Yeah. He likes being able to speak Thai with me and was proud to be able to teach me things in English.” Win laughed a little. “To be honest, it’s a relief even for me when I get to speak in Thai.”

“But hia, your English is so good.” 

“Doesn’t mean it isn’t tiring,” He reached out and flicked Team’s forehead lightly. “Any time I got to go home and talk to you, it was so nice. I started even looking forward to talking to Dean, and he’d only say like five words at a time. If I was lucky. And maybe three would be about something other than Pharm.”

Team laughed at that and shook his head, “I guess I’m lucky, Pharm can talk about things other than P’Dean.”

“Yeah? Is the rest food?”

“Food is superior to P’Dean,” Team countered with a grin. “Just don’t tell phi I said that.” 

Win snorted, “Pretty sure he’d be more surprised if you, of all people, said he was superior to food.” 

Team pursed his lips, trying to decide if that was an insult or not, but decided it was just the truth. He changed course, “We are meeting your new friends later today?”

“Mm, going to a pub tonight. Everyone pestered me about meeting you. They said I wasn’t allowed to just keep you to myself in the flat.” 

“Hah. How did they know I would let you out?” Team asked in a pointedly casual way, and he grinned when Win choked on his water upon hearing it. Win leveled him with a smoldering look that Team met with a raised brow.

“Team, we barely made it out of bed already.”

“Six months, hia.” He took a drink of water and didn’t miss the way Win watched his throat as he swallowed it down. Setting the glass back down, he shrugged one shoulder, “You’re not the only one who gets horny.”

Win had to press his hands to the table and take a slow breath, “Maybe it’s not too late to cancel...” Team wasn’t really sure if he was serious or joking. He had to put aside the thought, though, because Mr. Apichart came back with their food. The older man set the plates down with a proud smile and they both thanked him before he left. 

They began eating and were silent for a while other than Team’s pleased sounds. Food always made him happy. At some point, he caught Win staring at him with affection in his eyes and felt warmth spread through his chest. Taking a quick sip of water, Team asked, “Is James going to be there tonight?”

“Mm, yeah, and a few friends I study and hang out with. Alice, Henry, and Frank.” Win reached out and snagged a bit of food off Team’s plate, eating it shamelessly.

“Oh, so not that many,” Team relaxed against his chair.

Win looked at him fondly and smiled, “No, just those four. When have you been nervous to meet new people?”

Team shrugged and started pushing food around on his plate, “It’s different at home. And also...” 

“What?” Win tipped his head.

Team frowned and considered answering him or just changing the subject. He decided Win would get it out of him eventually. Besides that, Team was trying to be better about communicating what he was feeling, even when it made him nervous or shy. “I just want to...” He hummed, looking for the right words. “You’ve probably told them about me and they are your friends, I want them to like me... for you.” 

Win took his hand on the table again, this time lacing their fingers together, “Team, you’re funny, charming, sociable, kind, cute--”

“You’ve reached the limit on calling me cute today,” Team interrupted. Win just looked fond in response.

“There’s no way they won’t like you. Everyone likes you.”

Team blinked, confused. “Everyone doesn’t like me....” Even as he said that, he wasn’t sure if he was right or not, trying to decide.

Win scoffed, “Look, even you don’t believe that. You met Manaow and Pharm in line and you three became best friends in like ten minutes. You and Mew were friends before you even got into the pool at tryouts.”

“Okay, fine, but that was in Thailand. I can barely even speak English!” 

“First, your English is fine. Next, people are people, it doesn’t matter where we’re from. Nice people like nice people.” He squeezed Team’s hand. Win’s voice was so earnest and his eyes looked so serious that Team found himself believing it.

“Okay... Maybe that makes sense...” Team conceited. 

“Also, you think I would be friends with someone who wouldn’t adore you? I might have to be worried about them trying to steal you away from me!”

Team laughed, then made a point of looking thoughtful, “Well... how hot are they?” Win kicked Team under the table and let go of his hand. Team laughed again and picked up his fork and spoon, starting to eat again now that he was less anxious.

“They aren’t as hot as I am,” Win pouted down at his food.

“No one is as hot as hia,” Team replied in an over the top coo that had Win laughing now. 

“Damn right.” Win gave an upnod and then posed. “Don’t forget it.” 

Despite the joking and teasing, Team knew he would never have interest in anyone but Win. In his eyes, Win really was the hottest person he had ever seen. Manaow would claim that people at school thought Dean was the hottest, and she always gushed about Pruk’s muscles and good looks. None of that made sense to Team, because neither man could hold a candle to Win. 

There were times when Team was just totally blown away by the fact that someone as gorgeous as Win would fall in love with him. Then he would remember everything they had been through, all of Win’s own insecurities and fears, and knew that looks weren’t everything in a relationship. In fact, it didn’t actually matter what either of them looked like, the reason they were together had nothing to do with that. At least, mostly nothing... Win was still really damn hot. 

Team allowed himself a moment to just admire Win for his beauty inside and out, then went back to eating his food. It was so good to be near Win again.

 


 

After their late breakfast, Win took Team sightseeing around town. He was attending King’s College, right in the heart of London on the Thames. At first, they just walked through the streets, Team pointing out this and that, all sorts of things that were new or different compared to being in Thailand. Win told him stories that had happened to him here or there. The whole while, Team let Win hold his hand, their fingers laced together. 

Seeing a double decker bus drive by, Team’s eyes lit up and he tugged on Win’s hand. “Hia... they really are everywhere here?”

“They are,” Win laughed and squeezed his hand. 

“Can we ride one?” His eyes were wide and Win thought it was too cute, how could he say no? So they found a stop where they could get onto one of the buses for a city tour. Naturally, Team immediately went up to the second level so they could look out at everything. 

It was times like these that Win realized just how deeply he missed Team: his bright eyes and sweet smile, the warm way he approached everything. There was so much life and joy in Team and it filled Win’s heart to see. Between the tour guide telling them what they were passing by, Win taught Team anything he could about where they were in the city. He hadn’t learned a whole lot about this part of London in the time he had spent living here, but had learned enough to share a few stories. When Win first moved to England and didn’t know anyone besides his flatmate James, he spent a lot of time just wandering around and exploring. 

They got off the bus near Piccadilly Circus to walk around and do some shopping. Team had promised to buy souvenirs for his friends back home and wanted a few for himself, as well. Win might have doted a bit and bought him a couple things he had been eyeing but decided not to spend the money on. Team put up a little bit of a fight against it, but ultimately gave in when Win insisted. 

“Think of it this way, I haven’t been able to buy you anything in months,” He said, and Team saw enough logic in the defense. However, he ended up buying a couple things for Win as well, and used this same argument against him. Of course, Win could say nothing and had to accept the gifts. 

By the end of their shopping trip, the two of them had matching bracelets, a few new clothes, and several gifts for Team to take back to Manaow, Pharm, Dean, Del, Don, Pruk, Mew and a few others. Win even bought something for Dean that he asked Team to deliver for him. The two had also ventured into a makeup store to get something Manaow would want, based almost entirely on the suggestion from an employee in the shop and a few texts back and forth with Del. Team, to Win’s surprise, did know enough to ask specifically for eye makeup, since Manaow seemed to like that the most. 

Everything was going great, up until they got hungry and Team wanted something to eat. They went into a cafe for some sandwiches and Win caught Team staring at the array of potato chips. 

They’re called crisps here, ” Win said in English, an arm around Team’s waist as he looked at the different flavors.

“They don’t have any Lays,” Team lamented, replying in Thai, his lips set in a firm pout. 

Win eyed the bags before them, all a brand called Walkers. He had come across this early on when grocery shopping and missing Team after he moved to England. “Mmm, they don’t. Maybe you should give these a try.” 

“They stole the logo from Lays,” Team pointed at the way the Walkers logo was in front of a big yellow circle.

“Mmm,” he nodded, trying to keep a grin from his face. “Looks like they did. Why don’t you give them a try, baby.” 

There was a long moment where Team considered it and Win wondered what was going through his head. The brand loyalty that Team had for Lays was second to none, so maybe he was feeling traitorous at the very idea of buying another brand. Finally, he sighed dramatically and took a bag of ready salted flavor crisps, deciding it was as close to Lays original as he would get. 

“It’s not even a yellow bag...” Team muttered as they moved through the line to pay. 

Win rubbed his back and cooed, “I know, baby. It’ll be okay.” 

Team shot him a small glare over his shoulder at the way Win coddled him, but must have ultimately realized that he was the one making a big deal about his snacks. Once they got their food and sat down at a table, Team eyed the red bag of Walkers Ready Salted Crisps suspiciously and opened the bag up. Win watched, trying to keep a straight face as Team ate the first one, tasting it thoughtfully.

“How are they?” Win asked, raising a brow, giddy to see Team’s reaction.

“They... taste pretty good,” Team almost seemed pained to admit it 

“Guess what.” Win waited for Team to meet his gaze and hum in question. “Lays owns Walkers.” 

“What...?” Team blinked at him and Win laughed.

“When I moved here, I couldn’t find Lays anywhere, so I looked it up online and asked around. Lays bought Walkers a long time ago but never changed the name, because everyone liked Walkers already. That’s why they have the same logo.” He tapped on the red bag in front of Team.

“Ohhh... So they didn’t steal it?” Team ate another chip and it looked like he was trying to pay attention to whether the taste was the same or different.

“Nope, they didn’t steal it.” 

Team nodded his approval, “I guess these are okay then.”

“Good, ‘cause otherwise I’d have to find a way to ship Lays here for you.” Win started eating his sandwich.

“You’d do that for me?” Team asked, a touch of uncertainty in his voice.

“Mmm, if you are going to be here all week, you’d spend it all crying about wanting Lays and I’d have to get jealous that Lays are more important to you than me.”

Team rolled his eyes and kicked Win under the table. All Win could do was laugh and grab his leg, pretending it hurt.

 


 

Later that night, Team was glad their last plans for the day involved sitting around at a pub. Despite his gloating that morning about keeping in shape, he was pretty tired from all the walking around they did that day. He was still a little anxious to meet Win’s friends and having to hold the whole conversation in English though. Throughout the day, Win had encouraged him to speak as much English as possible, any time they had to talk to a store clerk or buy food. Win would help any time Team couldn’t find a word, but made Team do most of the talking.

Any time they were on their own, though, they switched back to Thai. And despite Win saying that Team’s English was good, Team, himself, insisted that it was all the kind of stuff he had studied. He had learned to ask how much something costs, where to find this or that, and how to get through simple transactions. Having a conversation with a group of people was a little more intimidating. They could end up talking about anything and soon Win would see just how bad his English still was, and so would all of his new friends.

He tried to keep the nerves at bay and secretly was glad that he could have a bit of alcohol to help. Team wasn’t the same lightweight he had been his freshman year, but it still didn’t take too much to get him drunk. So he knew he had to pace himself, even if the beers would be a nice social lubricant for this situation. Getting drunk and making a fool of himself wouldn’t be much better than totally butchering their language.

When Team and Win arrived, everyone was there already, three men and one woman. “You know James already,” Win began introducing them and Team remembered meeting the man last night. “This is Alice, Frank and Henry.” Team was proud of himself for remembering to shake hands or wave, rather than press his palms together and bow his head. They were all his seniors, but that didn’t matter the same way here in England. 

“James, Frank and I are all in the business program together,” Win went on to explain. “Alice is a friend of James’ and she’s in TV and broadcasting.” The red haired woman lifted her hand to wave, and said a quick hello. Team smiled and waved back to her. 

“Henry is a literature major,” Win finished, pointing out a really well dressed man with sandy blonde hair, combed neatly to the side. 

“Hello, pleased to meet you all,” Team managed a smile and a nod of his head. He took a slow breath and Win patted him on the back of his shoulder. The pair sat and ordered drinks; the others already had theirs. 

Alice was the first to speak to Team directly. “You just got in last night, right? How long was the flight?”

“Mm, it was 12 hours.”

“Oof, that’s long! I flew to America once and it was 12 hours, too. I thought I would go mental,” she laughed and it was a nice sound. Team decided he liked her so far and wondered if she would get along with Manaow.

“It was very long,” Team laughed as well. “I was very tired.”

“They went straight to bed,” James said with a little smirk. He took a sip from his beer. “Hope you had a nice lie-in this morning?” 

Team glanced at Win, scratching the back of his head. He wasn’t sure how to respond to that, exactly.

“Yeah, I got your text,” Win offered, winking at James. “Took full advantage of your offer.” 

“Cheers, mate.” James laughed and held out his glass to Win.

“Do I even want to know?” Frank asked. He had a thicker accent that Team had a harder time understanding, but he grimaced as he looked between James and Win. Team would have marked him as a straight man. He knew James was gay, because Win had told him as much months ago. 

“They’ve been dating for, what was it, Win, two or three years now?” James asked and when Win nodded, he looked back at Frank, “You think they wouldn’t need some alone time after being apart?” 

Team knew his face was flushing at this line of conversation, but Win looked as cocky as ever. His arm was wrapped around Team’s shoulders now -- which, to be fair, was where it belonged -- but he didn’t have to look so smug. 

“You know, James, not everyone has quite as much sex as you do,” Alice shot back at him. 

“Well, you might if you ever wore something that didn’t look like it belonged to my nan...” He nodded at her oversized and none-too-flattering sweater. She smacked his shoulder in return.

“Look, just because I choose comfort over style... Some men find that very sexy.”

“And I hope you find him some day.” James said, taking another drink of his beer, “Assuming he exists.”

Henry, from the other side of the bickering friends, looked at Team and shook his head, “Sorry about these guys. They’re always like that.”

Team shrugged, “It’s okay, it reminds me of my friends.” 

“Alice and James remind me of you and Manaow,” Win said with a grin. 

“I’m nicer,” Team replied and both Win and Alice laughed. James looked affronted, but then shrugged and accepted it.

“How many times have you insulted Manaow?” Win accused.

“Mmm...” Team looked away and made up an excuse, “I don’t know the number in English.”

Win scoffed and shook his head, “You’re lucky Manaow has a good sense of humor.”

“She insults me, too, hia. I wouldn’t do it if she got hurt. I don’t insult Del.”

“Because you’re scared of Dean, maybe?” Win laughed.

Team coughed and changed the subject, looking at Win’s friends, “How long do you know hia Win?” 

“We met right away,” Frank answered first. “James knew him before any of us, on account of them being flatmates, but he and I had classes together.”

“I just met Win a few months ago, at a party James dragged him to.” Alice supplied.

“Dragged?” Team’s brows drew together and he looked between Win and James for an explanation.

“Win spent all his time studying or wandering around London alone.” James spoke first.

Team looked over at Win and set a hand on his leg, giving a light squeeze. Win smiled in response and tugged the arm around Team’s shoulder a little tighter. Team decided he’d ask Win about it later, when they were alone.

Henry answered last, “Win and I met at the library when I helped him find a few books. We ended up talking and found out we’re both dating guys in other countries. My boyfriend is in America.” 

“Ohh, Team nodded. “Is it hard for you two?” 

Henry shrugged, “It’s worth it. I’d rather it be hard than not have him.” 

Team offered a tight lipped smile, “I think the same.” 

“They’re the love sick boys, Win and Henry,” Alice gestured at the two of them. “One time we were at a pub and Win was up by the counter waiting for a round for the table. I saw it from the table, these two girls had eyes on him. Because, well...” She held a hand out to Win for the explanation, and Team nodded, because he understood. “Anyway, the girls come up and he didn’t even notice them til they were right there and anyone could tell they were flirting. But that’s when the barman handed over the drinks and Win just nodded at them and walked away. They were gobsmacked.” 

Win chuckled and looked down, smiling. Team knew it as one of the more subtle signs that Win was shy. It was a rare treat to see it happen. 

“I thought Win just wasn’t into girls,” Alice continued, “but then he said he did like girls, just that it didn’t matter cause he had a partner back home. He showed me like, thirty pictures of you. All giddy and mooning over you.” 

“Alright, alright.” Win waved his hand, trying to get Alice to stop already. 

“You missed me, huh hia?” Team grinned at him.

“Of course.” Win rolled his eyes like it was obvious. Then he jutted his chin at Team, “Who wouldn’t miss you?” 

“Lovesick,” Alice gestured at the two of them. “Just like that.” 

Team laughed a little then looked over at James who lifted a hand.

“I have a stupid question....” Once he had Win’s attention too, he asked, “You told me Win is short for Phawin, right?”

“Mm, yeah, why?” Win tipped his head with curiosity.

“How come Team calls you Hia or Hiawin?” 

Both of them stared at James for a moment, then laughed together. Everyone at the table was dumbfounded by what just happened and Team sat up a little in his seat. “I call him hia because he is older than me.” 

“It’s an honorific we use,” Win explained.

“Even though you’re dating?” Henry jumped in with the question. 

Win and Team looked at one another before answering and Win took it, “He doesn’t have to use it now...”

“But I do because...” he chewed his bottom lip, looking for the words before he gave up, speaking in Thai for Win to translate.

“Out of habit,” Win said for him.

“Mm, no one knew we were dating at first. By the time they knew, he was always hia.” Team shrugged. He knew that honorifics between couples weren’t necessary, and Win would never be insulted if he dropped it, but Win might be sad. He had confessed more than once that he really liked when Team called him hia. 

“I see... so would you call us hia, if we were in Thailand?” Henry questioned.

“No,” Team shook his head and also caught the way it made Win smile.

“Because we’re foreign?” 

“Uhh... if you were Thai, I would call you Phi or P’Henry.” Team answered.

“We’re from Chinese families,” Win added, “So we say hia for an older brother or older friend who is Chinese-Thai.”

“Interesting!” Henry placed his chin in his hand and was focused on the two of them. “Is there a word for someone younger? You just call him Team, right, Win?”

“Nong, for younger people or siblings.” Win answered, “But yes, I just call him Team, unless I’m teasing.” 

“He calls my friend Pharm ‘nong Pharm’ because he’s cute, and dating hia Win’s best friend.” Team laughed and so did Win. 

“Pharm is so cute,” Win practically whined the words, laughing as he did so. “He is the most fun to tease.”

“It’s true, Pharm calls hia’s friend P’Deeeeean.” He did his best to mimic Pharm’s voice and it made Win laugh all the more.

The topic of conversation changed after that and the group of friends ran through a number of different subjects. From school to sports, swimming, everyone’s plans for the future, families and more. Team did pretty well throughout the conversations, as it turned out, but he still had to get help from Win from time to time. After a while, Henry started helping him find words, too. Team liked talking to Henry a lot, because he explained how words worked in a way that Team could understand. He also asked Team to teach him words in Thai, which kept things feeling more even. 

All in all, Team really liked Win’s friends. They were warm and welcoming, full of jokes and banter and were quick to tease Team as if he had been their friend the whole time. Eventually, Alice reached out and patted Team on the hand.

“Hey Team, you know how Win is all cool all the time?” She started.

Team scoffed a little and looked at Win, nodded, then looked back to her, “Yeah?”

“Do you have any embarrassing stories about him?” She set her elbows on the table, laced her fingers together, and rested her chin on them. Team decided then that she and Manaow would definitely get along.

“Hmm...” Team stroked his chin and studied Win for a moment, trying to think of the best story to tell. Win gave him a side-eyed look that seemed more nervous than threatening. “Ah! Yes, I do.”

“What is it...?” Win asked, leaning away from Team a little bit.

“Our friends were in a play about the red... uhh string?” He picked at his shirtsleeve to indicate what he meant and looked for help between Win and the others.

“Thread?” Henry suggested and Team nodded, guessing that was right.

“Red thread. If two lovers can’t be together, they tie a red thread to their fingers or wrists so they can be together in the next life. Hia Win said if he found a red thread on his wrist, he would cut it off.”

Win dropped his head and pressed his palm to his face. “Oyyy...”

“You said that to your boyfriend?” Henry asked, shocked.

“He wasn’t my boyfriend yet,” Win said in his own defense. “Not exactly.”

“I said he wasn’t romantic.” Team touched his own chest. 

“I took you to see the Christmas lights!” 

“After I asked you,” Team smacked Win on the shoulder with the back of his hand. “Let me tell the story. He looked online for a Christmas thing and saw mistletoe.”

“Oh my god,” Alice said, then covered her mouth and laughed.

“We don’t have mistletoe in Thailand. I never heard of it. He said if you kiss under it, your love will last a long time. I asked where we could get it and he said he had some.”

“Where did you find mistletoe if it’s not in Thailand?” James asked.

“He didn’t!” Team put both hands on the table and leaned forward. Win groaned and hung his head. “He found... mm... what is it in English, hia?”

“You said you’re telling the story.” Win frowned and crossed his arms.

Team rolled his eyes and pulled out his phone, quickly searching the internet for a picture. Once he found it, he turned the phone around to show the others.

“Is that broccoli?” Frank was the one to speak first. All four friends turned to look at Win. 

“He put on a bow and said it was mistletoe,” Team confirmed. 

Win groaned again and looked back at Team, “I was trying to be romantic and I couldn’t find mistletoe anywhere. You wanted me to be romantic.”

Everyone at the table was laughing, Team included. Though Win was groaning and trying to defend himself, the smile on his face showed he wasn’t too upset about being exposed like this. Team reached out and patted his cheek, “Hia was very romantic.” 

“The real question is...” James spoke up, calling Team’s attention. “Did you kiss him under the broccolitoe?” 

“He did kiss me,” Win answered for Team. “Because he loves me.” Leaning forward, Win kissed Team’s cheek before he could stop it from happening. 

Team did a double take and thought briefly about yelling at Win for that stolen kiss, but he softened instead. “Yeah, yeah... Maybe I do.” 

Win snickered and wrapped both arms around Team’s waist, pulling him into a hug that Team allowed. He truly liked being hugged by Win, even though there were eyes on them. It was something he missed too much these days to put up a fight about right now. 

“Excuse me, I think I need to go call my boyfriend,” Henry said, taking a long drink from his beer. 

Alice checked her watch, “It’s afternoon in America, right? Would he still be in class?” 

“At least you have someone to call, even if he is on another continent. How is it that the only ones here who have a partner are both in long distance relationships?” James frowned, crossing his arms.

“Maybe we’re the only ones romantic enough to keep someone around?” Win suggested.

“He made broccoli work for him, he may have a point,” Frank said, downing the last of his own pint. Then he leaned past James to look around the pub, “Maybe I can find someone tonight.” 

James shoved him back into his seat and claimed that only Win was allowed to make them feel lonely tonight. Everyone ended up laughing and joking. They all told stories about each other, funny things that happened, times Win messed up something in English to everyone’s amusement. It was a fun evening overall, and Team only ended up drinking two pints of beer with his meal, feeling pleasantly warm, but not even tipsy as they bid everyone a goodnight and left the pub. James was meeting another friend to do some studying, so that left Team and Win on their own for getting back to the flat.

As had become their usual posture, Win draped an arm around Team’s shoulders and Team held Win about the waist. They walked through the London streets, taking in the way the city calmed down towards the end of the day. Had it been a weekend, Win explained, the streets might still be bustling by now, but because it was a week day, things were a bit quieter. The night air felt cool and crisp, but Win’s body felt warm against Team’s side. 

“Did you have fun?” Win asked, falling back into speaking Thai when they were a couple blocks away from the pub.

“Mm, I did. Your friends are really nice.” Team let his head rest on Win’s shoulder for a few steps. Win smiled and ran his fingers through Team’s hair.

“I’m glad.” He was quiet for a moment before adding, “Your English has gotten really good, Team.” 

Team considered how to respond to that, and ultimately decided to be nice, “Maybe I had a good tutor.” 

Win tugged him to a stop so he could quickly press a kiss to Team’s forehead. When their eyes met after it, Win grinned, “My tutoring fee.” 

Team looked at Win flatly, then he tickled Win’s side, making him squirm and pull away, “I think you got plenty of kisses already.” 

Win laughed and snagged Team’s hand, pulling it back around his waist where it belonged, then got them moving again, “I don’t think I can ever get enough kisses.”

“Don’t think I didn’t notice the mark you left on me this morning,” Team glanced sidelong at him.

“Oy, Team, you won’t be swimming this week, no one is going to see it but me, anyway.” He reached his hand down and tugged the collar of Team’s shirt aside, trying to get a glimpse of the bruise he had left on Team’s neck. Team smacked his hand away and Win laughed. 

“You’re lucky I love you,” Team said, looking away with a little smile on his lips. 

Win took that moment to lean in, bringing his lips to Team’s ear. “Mm...the luckiest.” 

The words sent a shiver through Team and he turned his head to look back. He bumped his nose against Win’s, then just barely brushed their lips together. It wasn’t quite a kiss, but still felt really intimate, especially out in public. Team knew things were different here in England than they were back home, and to be honest with himself, he missed Win so badly that it actually made him braver. No one here knew him, and no one was paying attention anyway. 

Then Win’s hand was in his hair again and Team’s hand slid down to rest in Win’s back pocket. They walked back to Win’s flat in the cool of the evening, warmed by each other’s presence. Team and Win had been apart for six months, and there was still a year and a half before Win’s masters program would be finished, but Team felt as close to him as ever, especially in this moment, right here.