“Let’s drive out to the beach,” Tin smiled, when Can had finally come out to meet him after his last exam.
Since Tul’s web of lies had been uncovered, Tin had finally been free enough to apply for his driver’s licence, and he had been able to ditch the chauffeur. Since then, he had driven everywhere on his own, often with Can riding shotgun with him.
Tin’s heart could swell with love just by thinking of him – it got even bigger when he was with him, like now.
The only thing that stood between him, and his true happiness, was the fact that he hadn’t found a way to convey it to Can just how much he was in love with him.
Tin wanted him. He couldn’t imagine spending the rest of his life with anyone else – and he had his mother’s enthusiastic support as well.
But Can… Can just… somehow, Can didn’t get it and Tin was at a loss on what other signals he would need to send him for him to understand.
Obviously, there would be the option to straight up tell him, confess to him in some grand gesture, maybe even actually ask him to marry him, like he wanted to, like his mum wanted.
Tin couldn’t do it.
The fear that Can would reject him, push him away, if he told him directly… it was too big. Tin rather had him as an oblivious friend, rather than not at all.
Can hadn’t objected to a drive to the beach, and he was soon happily chattering about his exams, his football training, and this and that, while Tin navigated through the heavy traffic of Bangkok’s inner city.
It wasn’t so bad, all in all, even if it hurt, that Can didn’t see…
“Oh, I finally figured it out, by the way,” Can suddenly said, out of the blue, “about us. I’ll just become your personal trainer, forever. For free… you’ll be like my guinea pig, for me to test new practices, and you’ll stay healthy. You would train with me, wouldn’t you?”
Tin nearly bumped into the car in front of him.
What was Can thinking?
This wasn’t… it hurt.
Hearing these words, casually spoken like it was just a nice little insight… Tin couldn’t…
He couldn’t drive on like this.
Without commenting, biting back tears, he stopped at the next possible location on the curb and leaned his head against the steering wheel.
“Are you okay, Tin? Should I drive instead? I have passed my licence, too, last month, you remember, don’t you?”
Tin did, remember.
But he didn’t…
Can was the best thing that had ever happened to his life. Sometimes he would even think it was the only good thing… personal trainer.
This couldn’t go on like this.
He couldn’t take it anymore.
“Tin? What’s the matter? Why didn’t you answer my question? Should I drive?”
Only after he had breathed through several times slowly, Tin had gathered enough courage to look up. His eyes had glazed over.
“Personal trainer? That’s all you want? Don’t I mean more to you than a client for personal training? Can?”
He hated that a few lonely tears were running down his cheeks, but Tin didn’t make any effort to wipe them away.
“No… No, Tin! You misunderstand! I’m your friend, I’ll always be your friend! And I can also always be your personal trainer. It’s more, not less! And you’ll be free to find someone you want.”
Tin could only shake his head and bury it in his hands on the steering wheel again.
Friend… Personal trainer… even the only good thing in his life was sad.
Someone he wanted… there was only one. And that one… why?
Why always him?
“We should head back. I… I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
“What do you mean, Tin? Weren’t you looking forward to the beach, too? What happened?”
There he was, still so clueless. How could one person be so warm and caring, and so oblivious at the same time?
“Don’t you have other friends, too. Just go to the beach with them. I don’t want us to be just friends. And I don’t want you to be just my personal trainer.”
Tin started the engine again and drove to the next turn he could take back towards his parents’ house.
For a while, Can didn’t say anything at all.
He simply sat there.
At first, Tin thought he was pouting and he got angry on top of being sad…
Best thing in his life, and for what?
But as he was forced to concentrate on the traffic, Tin naturally calmed down again or rather, he found a helpful outlet for his anger in other drivers… he realised that Can wasn’t pouting.
He seemed paralysed, shell-shocked.
“Stop the car, Tin.”
Tin didn’t know if he wanted to listen to that, he just wanted to be home and deal with the sting of disappointment, being abandoned again, being denied again.
“Tin. Stop. The car.”
Pathetic fool that he was, he did, as soon as there was a parking spot, and he angrily turned his head towards Can.
“Why are you doing th-”
He could never finish the question.
His anger was absorbed by Can’s lips pressed on his.
Now… Tin was the one paralysed, overwhelmed by the softness of these lips he had dreamt about every night for months since their first meeting. But no dream, not even his wildest imaginations did justice to this… starting with the mere fact that this was real.
He was slow to kiss back, but when he did, he could barely hold it together. It was a sloppy kiss, wet through the tears that mixed with it – but Tin didn’t care. He held onto Can as tightly as he could, and he wouldn’t let him go anymore.
“I want more, too,” Can finally managed to breathe between two kisses, but Tin didn’t let him talk, he just sealed his lips again.
“Did you hear? I said-”
Only when even breathing through the nose didn’t give him enough oxygen, Tin pulled away, regretting it already.
“I’m your boyfriend, now, right?” Can asked.
“My real boyfriend.”
“Let’s drive to the beach,” Can said, moving back into the passenger seat, “we have much to celebrate, boyfriend.”
Tin didn’t wait, he started the engine again and turned the car around to drive towards the freeway once more. Everything was good, now. The warmth of the kiss still lingered on his lips, tingling as the air conditioning of the car cooled his wet skin.
“Admit it, you only did that because you wanted to go to the beach so badly.”
“Say that again and I’ll shut you up.”
“Not a threat.”
They were driving for a while like this, suddenly bantering light-heartedly with each other like a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Tin loved that whenever there was an opportunity, Can’s hand found its way onto his knee or even holding his hand over the gear switch.
He didn’t know what had prompted Can to come around, why Can had suddenly done this – but it was obvious that Can did everything now to prove to him that he meant it.
And Tin was happy. Not just that he finally had what he had wanted for so long – but that Can was making the effort to reassure him, too.
Finally, when they were on the freeway, outside of the city, Can got serious again.
“When the registered partnership thing comes… let’s do it.”
“Are you proposing to me?”
Out of the corner of his eyes, Tin could see Can smirk broadly.
“As long as there is no ring, I won’t believe you.”
The smirk on Can’s face broadened.
“Hey, Tin… Could you lend me some money?”