He really only knew two things. One was that he was good at his sport. The other was that he was hopeless with directions.
Seung-gil wished he could say he knew where he was. He really wished that. But he actually had no idea where he was and he really wished he spoke better English.
He’d been called an airhead by his coach more than once. Actually, it was something she said a lot to him. Or maybe she asked if he was listening to her?
He hadn’t been listening to her half an hour ago when he last saw her.
When he realized he’d also left his phone in his hotel room, Seung-gil actually felt a little panic dripping into the back of his mind.
“Hello?” Someone tapped on his should, the voice speaking in young sounding English. It was accented, but not as heavily as Seung-gil was sure his was. Seung-gil wouldn’t have talked much either way but his accent made him really self-conscious about conversing with English-speaking strangers.
“Yes?” He turned and felt his breath catch a little when he found himself face-to-face with a boy who looked about his age but, unlike him, was hot. Seung-gil heard the annoying squeak in his voice when he saw the other boy and hoped the stranger hadn’t.
“You look lost, are you okay?” It took Seung-gil a moment to digest the stranger’s question and the boy looked like he was going to repeat himself when Seung-gil figured it out. He was starting to see why Min-so Park was always telling him to practice his English.
“Yes.” He paused, “No?”
“Are you lost?” The stranger prompted, to which Seung-gil nodded vigorously. “You're an Olympian, right?”
“Do you need help getting back to the Olympic Village?” After a long, awkward pause Seung-gil nodded again. “Great, follow me! I’m Phichit Chulanont, by the way.”
“Phichit?” Seung-gil repeated back and the boy nodded, “My name is Seung-gil Lee.”
“Seung-gil?” He didn’t wait for confirmation, “That’s a nice name. Where are you from?”
“The Republic of Korea…” He was pretty sure there was a more common name used in English.
“So South Korea?” That was it. He didn’t know why his mind seemed to be working even slower than usual but he suspected it had something to do with the fact that he had recently realized how gay he was. And by recently he meant about five minutes ago when he first met Phichit. Puberty had been a bit like a train derailment and Seung-gil was pretty sure this had been the inevitable crash.
“My sister is competing too but she’s been the Olympics before so she’s better at navigation. Also, her English is really good.”
“Your English is great.” Seung-gil supplied, trying not to blush when the other boy smiled brightly at him.
“Thanks! I practiced all the time with Seua. She’s my oldest sister.” He stopped abruptly, “Seua! Over here!”
A young woman, probably in her mid to late twenties turned and smiled at Phichit. She waded through the crowd and stopped in front of the two boys, a lopsided smile one her face. Seung-gil could easily see the family resemblance even though Phichit still looked very much like a child. Not that Seung-gil could talk, he’d barely started going through puberty and he was sixteen. Now that he thought about it, if Phichit was competing, and given his jacket matched his sister’s it seemed likely, he had to be at least sixteen.
“Earth to Seung-gil!” Phichit’s voice was suddenly raised enough to get Seung-gil’s attention, snapping him from his own thoughts. “You okay?”
“Yes.” He looked between the two siblings, “My name is Seung-gil Lee from South Korea.”
“It’s nice to meet you Seung-gil, how do you know my brother?”
“I met him over there!” Phichit said, pointing in the direction they came from.
“Pui, I didn’t ask you.” She rolled her eyes but was smiling. “Did you kidnap this nice boy?”
“I didn’t! He was lost and I was going to help him!” Seung-gil decided Phichit was very loud but, surprisingly, he didn’t mind very much. “And I told you not to call me that.”
The woman smirked and the two got into a friendly sounding argument in another language. Seung-gil wasn’t sure where they were from but didn’t ask, instead following them as the walked somewhere. He really hoped they were actually going back to the Olympic Village.
They did eventually get back and Seung-gil wondered how he’d managed to wander so far.
“Thank you.” He bowed to them both, not sure how to explain how lost he’d been.
“Anytime.” Seua smiled, “Do you need help finding your room? Maybe your coach?”
“No.” He paused. “I am okay. Thank you.”
“Try not to wander off again.” She was rather motherly but Seung-gil guessed that was just what older sisters were like. Or maybe siblings. He was pretty motherly towards Mi-na sometimes. “You’re a little young to be in a strange city alone.”
“I… It was an accident.”
“We should exchange numbers,” Phichit interjected, seeming unable to wait any longer. “Then you can text me if you get lost!”
“My phone is in my room.” Seung-gil explain. “I was lost because I could not call my coach.”
“Oh… well, that explains it.” Phichit thought for a moment, “Do you have an Instagram account?”
“Yah! It’s a cool app. Do you have a smart phone?” Phichit pulled out his phone to show to Seung-gil and the Korean boy blinked. He guessed he knew what smartphones were but he definitely didn’t have one.
“Well, you can still follow me.” He replaced his phone with a piece of paper and a pen. “Instagram… Phichit+chu… Here! Just go to Instagram, there’s a website, and sign up. Then just follow me!”
Seung-gil looked at the piece of paper, a little flustered, while Phichit’s sister looked a bit exasperated. Before any of them could say anything else someone shouted Seung-gil’s name. He turned and found it was one of his teammates.
“Where have you been?” She asked in Korean, “Coach has been losing her mind looking for you.”
“I got lost.” He admitted without showing a hint of remorse. “I had some help getting back.”
His teammate looked up and she immediately straightened her back, giving Seung-gil’s two acquaintances a look he couldn’t read before breaking into a smile.
“You’re Ariya Chulanont, right?” Phichit’s sister nodded, further confusing Seung-gil. Hadn’t she introduced herself as Seua? “I’m a big fan, can I get an autograph?”
Seung-gil mostly tuned the rest of their conversation out until his teammate, he did feel a little bad that he had not clue what her name was, said her goodbyes and lead Seung-gil away to get a lecture from Min-so Park.
He didn’t see Phichit again at that Olympics and he didn’t even know what the other young man competed in. Seung-gil, for his part, won a gold medal in archery.
He did make an Instagram even if it took him months to figure it out. He actually didn’t figure it out, instead, Mi-na realized what he was trying to do and forced him to let her help.
He learned then that Phichit Chulanont was a Thai tennis player who was good at selfies and makeup and also really liked hamsters. Even as he looked at all of Phichit’s pictures, he couldn’t find it in himself to follow the other boy until almost two years after they met. It felt strange to him for some reason but he didn’t know why only caving when Mi-na’s teasing riled him up enough to do something rash.
Really, Seung-gil only knew three things. He was great at archery and terrible at directions. He was also very, very gay for a certain tennis player.