Too was used to answering useless calls. On his own cellphone, his parents home’s phone… but his grandma’s, that was a first.
“Hello, how are you today?”
It was a friendly voice, a man. About the same age as him, probably. It still sounded slightly bored.
Usually, Too would press the red button without even answering, but today he was bored and lunch would only be ready in fifteen minutes.
“Great,” he answered.
“Good,” the voice continued. “I’m calling because your IP address has been compromised. I’ll just need you to get in front of your computer so we can get your account fixed up.”
… Oh. It was that kind of call, then. Too felt a laugh bubbling in his chest, though he decided to maintain his stoicism.
“Okay! There is one thing I’m wondering, though.”
“You couldn’t think of a better lie?” He said, a smile spreading across his lips.
The scam caller seemed surprised, silence being his only response. Too decided to keep going.
“Like, my ‘IP address has been compromised’… How exactly does an IP address become ‘compromised’?”
The scam caller maintained his mute state, which made Too laugh out loud, a short but strong laugh.
“I was just wondering, that’s all.”
The scam caller seemed finally ready to speak again: “Why did you answer?”
Too frowned. “What?”
“If you knew this wasn’t a legitimate call, then why did you answer?”
The caller seemed frustrated, voice halfway in between a groan and a wobble.
“Oh, I just thought I could have some fun at your expense,” he responded, still smiling.
“What expense?” the man replied, a little aggressive. “Talking is no expense to me.”
“Well, you’re currently not accomplishing your goal.”
“My goal?” He sounded uncomfortable now.
“Your goal of scamming my elderly grandmother. You’re not accomplishing that. I’d call that an expense,” he retorted.
“Well, can I scam you?”
Too choked on air, coughing violently. “Did you… Did you just ask me if you can scam me?”
The caller must have realized how crazy that demand was, but he still carried on: “Yes. Can I scam you?”
Too laughed again. “Sure, you can try.”
“You need to get in front of your computer,” he said, still having some hopes left apparently.
“Yeah, that’s still a problem. I don’t have my computer with me today.” He tried his best to sound fake-sad about it.
“Okay,” Too had apparently hit his last nerve. “I will call you tomorrow, then.”
“I might not answer,” he hit the last nail in the caller’s coffin. “My grandma definitely won’t.”
“You answered today.”
The voice sounded like it was smiling. I mean, not the voice, the caller. But the voice showcased that.
“...Touché?” Too replied.
“I will call you tomorrow then. Have a good day.”
“Thanks, you too,” he answered automatically, before realizing he was still talking to a scam caller.
He put back the phone on his stand and stayed a little crazed for a few minutes. What was that?
“Who was it?” His grandma asked, carrying their lunch.
“No one. An advert,” he declared. “Why do you still have a landline phone, grandma? Dad bought you a smartphone for your birthday.”
“Well, I’ve always had it, darling,” she explained. “But you’re right, nobody calls through it anymore…”
When he left, Too had already googled and put in place a way to transfer the calls from his grandma’s landline to his cellphone. If that scam caller wanted a war, he would have one.
The next day, Too was back in his university dorm when the scam caller appeared in his life again. It was almost like he knew his schedule, too, because it was during his two hours break in between classes.
“Hello,” he said, knowing already who it was.
“Good afternoon, I call you because your IP address has been compromised.”
Too smiled to himself. Somehow, he hadn’t thought the guy would keep his promise.
“That’s weird, I’m on my computer at the moment and I didn’t receive any notification about it.”
He could hear the caller sigh on the other side of the end, and expected him to hang up on him.
“That’s weird,” he still continued. “We’re going to verify that. I need you to go on internet and access your operating system’s site with your username and password.”
Since Too was most definitely not gonna do that, he settled for a diversion. “Who am I talking with?”
“Hum… I can’t tell you that.”
“You’re right, you’re doing something illegal. Wouldn’t want to reveal your secret identity,” he teased, flopping around on his bed. “Let me know something, though. Is that how you earn your life?”
“No, I do it for fun,” the caller deadpanned.
“Ah, I see,” he smiled. “Is it a full-time job or a part-time job?”
“Wow, you can be a part-time scammer? That sounds cool! How old are you?”
“I can’t tell you that either.”
“Owww, you’re no fun,” he conceded. “Okay, last question for today: you’re speaking Thai, that means you’re in Thailand right now, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t reveal that.”
“Argh, really Scammy, you break my heart.”
“Well, you don’t wanna give me your name, so I have to come up with something to suit our new-found friendship.”
“Yep. Listen, I gotta go, I have class in half an hour. Talk to you tomorrow, Scammy!”
It went on for eleven days, Scammy and him. Every day, he would call and they would talk for a few minutes about different topics:
“What is your favorite meal?”
“Have you read the news today, Scammy? There’s been a murder near Bangkok! I’m actually scared!”
“Okay, I’ve got a good one: politically speaking, where are you aligned?”
“Which country do you wanna visit?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
It was all pretty simple questions that could spark a one-line response or a thirty minutes conversation.
After a few days, Too decided he liked Scammy. They got along just fine, and no other human being could say that they had become friends with their scammer.
It was all going well, until the calls stopped coming.
The first day, Too thought he had missed it because of class, but after a couple days spent in radio silence, he started imagining a crazy scenario where the scamming center had been taken down by the police and Scammy was now rotting behind bars.
When he came back to his grandma’s house, though, he got his answer.
“Grandma, where is your landline?”
“Well, you made me realize that it was useless, so I took it down. All I got on it were scamming calls anyways.”
Too would never admit that he did panic when he heard that. That meant whatever friendship he had going on with Scammy was gone forever.
In a way, that made him sad, but then he started thinking about the many minutes he had spent on the phone that he’d finally be able to recover.
After a few months, Too had forgotten about his brief friendship over the phone, continuing his studies and even starting his third year of cinema major.
He was still living in the same condo complex, but it was the time that new students all moved in so the hallways were packed with new people and cardboard boxes.
Looked like he was getting a new next-door neighbor too. The door was open and boxes were sitting in the way. The new neighbor was on the phone.
“Yeah, everything is okay mom, don’t worry. I gotta go, love you.”
Too froze. He somehow knew this voice very well. It took a minute to remember where he had heard it, but when he did he gasped loudly.
The guy turned around to see Too staring at him, mouth agape. “You… you’re Scammy!”
He had said it without thinking about the very real possibility that he could be wrong and had probably ridiculed himself.
Scammy’s voice hadn’t been that rare, but the way the neighbor froze with a similar expression indicated that he was right. How in the hell could something like that happen?
“You are, aren’t you?”
The guy nodded slowly, still in shock. “You’re… the guy I talked to everyday?”
“Yes! How in the hell has this happened!”
They stood in front of each other, not knowing what to do. It was Scammy who broke the silence.
“Do you want to come in?”
Too probably shouldn’t have trusted a scammer, but he still followed him into his condo.
“So… have you missed me?” He joked, feeling a little awkward. He had never in a million years thought that he would meet his scammer in real life.
The guy rolled his eyes. “It’s you who’s missed me, for sure. You really had nothing to do with your day than to talk to a random guy.”
Too smiled. “Oh! I’m so offended! I thought we had a real friendship!” He exclaimed in a fake concerned voice.
“What did you stop calling, then?” Scammy asked.
“My grandma took down her landline. I couldn’t contact you.”
Scammy smiled. “That’s some Romeo and Juliet shit.”
“Except we don’t die, I hope,” he laughed. “What are you doing here?”
They were now sat on the only furniture in the whole room, a couch. Somehow their friendship had resurfaced in a few minutes and all the awkwardness was gone.
“I just changed universities. So that’s why I was calling people for money… I was saving up for this condo. I’ve been done for a week now.”
“Where do you even find this kind of job?!” Too inquired, curious.
Scammy put his face in his head with an embarrassed smile. “My cousin got me the job. He’s kinda shady.”
Too couldn’t help but laugh. “Your life is like a movie, dude.”
“Well, it’s what I study so maybe that’s why,” he smiled.
Too gasped audibly. “No way! You study cinema too?! Which year are you in?”
“Year 4, what about you?”
“Year 3.” He couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed he wouldn’t get to share the same classes as his former scam caller.
“That’s crazy. Not only the fact that we live next to each other but that we study the same subject… I think that when I called you that day it was destiny,” Scammy declared, half-joking.
“Yeah… it sure seems like it.”
They were interrupted by a call going off on Scammy’s phone.
“Sorry, can you call me back in a minute?” He said to his interlocutor. “Thanks.”
“I’m sorry, I got to take that,” he explained to Too.
“Your girlfriend?” Too smiled.
“I already told you, I’m very much single,” he said with a smile.
“Pff, a stud like you? You won’t survive a week at our university without ending up with someone,” he assured.
Scammy seemed embarrassed at those words, accompanying him to the door. “We’ll see that.”
They stared awkwardly at each other before Too spoke again. “Can I have your name, now?”
“Un,” he smiled. “What about you?”
“Well, nice to meet you in real life, Too.”
That night, Un knocked on his door. It was pretty late so Too showed up in his pajamas, half sleeping.
“P’, what are you doing at this hour?” He asked, muffling a yawn.
“I’m hungry,” Un responded simply. “Would you mind telling me where I can eat some good food in this neighborhood?”
“Yeah, yeah, there’s… hum… what’s it called...” Too muttered. “Sorry, P’ I can’t remember the name. I’m so damn tired.”
“I don’t need the name,” Un reassured him. “Where is it?”
“It’s, hum… you just have to go outside and walk… shit, I forgot the direction. I’m sorry P’, my brain is shutting down.”
His senior sighed, standing there in defeat. Too joined him, before putting on his shoes.
“I’ll take you there.”
They walked a total of three minutes before arriving at Too’s favorite outdoor restaurant.
“Why are you eating so late, P’?”
“Because I was so busy decorating my place I didn’t feel time pass… But my stomach reminded me eventually,” he smiled. “Thanks for coming with me.”
“No problem,” Too answered, ordering some food for himself. If he was going out this late in his pajamas, he better have food as a compensation.
“To be honest, I imagined you way uglier,” he finally confessed while they were savoring their meals.
Un choked a little, before laughing. “Because all scammers are ugly?”
“Well, scammers are so annoying I sure wish they were all ugly,” he teased. “But you could honestly be a model.”
“Thanks,” the ex-scammer blushed. “You know, where I worked, it was all desperate students in need of cash. People come and go because they just need to make money quickly. I only stayed two months.”
“Did you make a lot?”
“Kinda. I’m an excellent scammer.”
“Pfff,” Too replied. “I’d have to disagree with you on that. You were pretty terrible. You asked me if you could scam me!”
They both laughed. “Yeah, that was dumb of me,” Un admitted with a sheepish smile.
“And then you managed to spend time in your day when you should have been working to call me! You’re really not a great scammer,” he followed up.
Un passed a hand on the back of his neck. “I liked talking to you.”
“Me too,” Too admitted. “I was pretty sad when my grandma got rid of her landline.”
“I thought you were dead when you stopped answering your phone,” Un joked, taking them out of their vulnerable moment.
“Well, now you see that I am well alive. And I’ve become my ex scammer’s neighbor.”
“Technically, I never scammed you,” Un grinned. “You didn’t let me.”
The next day, Un knocked on his door again.
“Hey, how are you?” Too asked.
“Good, but I was wondering if you had some cooking oil. I forgot to buy some and I’m hungry as hell.”
He laughed. “Sure. Come in.”
Un sat on his couch’s armrest while Too searched for his cooking oil. “I haven’t used it in a while so I hope it’s not expired.”
“Do you want to come test it out with me? I’ll cook for you.” Un offered.
Too still couldn’t believe fate had brought them together in real life. “Are you sure, P’? You already paid for my meal yesterday.”
“Think of it as reparation for me trying to scam you.”
After a good laugh, Too agreed.
A few days later, Un knocked on his door at night again.
“Hey, P’, how’s it going?”
“Great, what about you?”
“Oh, I was about to start watching a movie our teacher wants us to see.”
Un smiled. “That’s why I was coming to see you. Our teacher talked to us about The Breakfast Club which the third year students last year had to see and I obviously didn't since I didn't strudy here. So I was wondering if you had to see it too.”
“I do, P’!” Too exclaimed. Fate really seemed to always bring them closer. “I was going to watch it right now! Do you wanna watch it?”
“That’d be great,” he nodded. “But let’s go to my room, I have a tv screen.”
“You’re a little arrogant, aren’t you?” Too mocked, taking the dvd and following him next door.
In a few weeks, they became friends. Un would come knock on his door almost every day, to ask him about small things, or if he was going to eat out, or to watch a movie with him.
They had a similar taste in movies, so they settled into a routine of watching them together about three times a week.
Too had also given him the university tour and still accompanied him to show him new classrooms he didn’t know once in a while. He had even introduced him to his gang of friends.
The numerous hours they spent together had gotten them incredibly close to each other, which was sometimes crazy to think about.
They had met over a scam call, after all.
“This movie is so boring, P’,” Too complained. “I don’t know why my teacher wants me to watch it.”
They always went to Un’s room to watch the movie because he had a big tv screen and a very comfortable couch.
“I don’t know either,” he smiled.
“I’m gonna fall asleep,” he sighed.
He felt a hand pinching his cheek. “Hey!” he shouted. “That hurts!”
Un laughed. “This is for a class. You can’t sleep!”
Two groaned and pouted, but stayed awake for the rest of it. Though, a few minutes before the end, he snuck a glance at Un, whose head was starting to fall on the side, eyes already shut.
With a devious smile, he put his hand on his waist and pinched it softly.
“Ah!” His senior exclaimed, catching his hand while falling on his side, trying to escape this treatment.
Too, though, continued to tickle him while they both laughed.
“You’re a hypocrite, P’! If I don’t get to sleep you don’t either!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” He exclaimed, all red in the face, grabbing his wrists in order to stop him.
And because he was much stronger that Two, the junior stopped. That’s when he realized that he was sitting on top of him, faces awfully close for two friends… but somehow, he couldn’t help but make it weird by freezing, eyes buried deep in his.
Un’s breathing had slowed down, a small smile tugging at his lips, while Too just stared at them. That wasn’t friendly behavior at all, but he couldn’t help it.
He felt Un’s hands go from his wrists to his waist, caressing it slightly, and damn, they weren’t just friends anymore. At least not in Too’s mind.
“P’! Is Too with you? I need to talk to him,” suddenly came from outside the door.
Third. Shit. He must have had another problem with Khai.
“I’m coming!” He shouted, finally starting to move again, getting off the couch and Un simultaneously.
He opened the door once Un had gotten back to a vertical position, and yep, Third sported his ‘mad at Khai’ face. Having two friends in love with each other was hard.
“Hello, P’. Sorry to bother you,” Third said in Un’s direction.
“It’s okay. The movie is over anyways,” Un smiled, pointing to the black tv screen.
Two watched them talk suspiciously. He had always suspected that Un had a soft spot for Third. Ever since he had introduced them to each other a few weeks ago, Un always seemed to stare at Third in the same way Too stared at him. And it stung a little.
“Can we talk?” Third asked him, interrupting his train of thoughts.
“Sure. I’ll go, P’. Thank you for the movie.”
Un nodded, a little guarded, going to get the DVD and giving it to him back.
“Have a good night.”
He seemed barely able to look at him in the eyes, and closed the door without wasting time.
That night, after having listened to Third complain about his non-boyfriend for two hours, Too couldn’t sleep.
He couldn’t stop thinking about their moment on the couch. It had been intense, and P’Un looked as if he was into it… but at the same time, he also looked at Third in such a way… that Too couldn’t help but think he liked him.
He spent the whole night thinking about all the moments that had lead to that night, the way Un was always half-flirting with him, the way they teased each other, the way they sat really close to each other while they watched a movie, the way they always found time in their day to see each other… It couldn’t be just friendly.
So he decided to confront Un about it the next day.
After his morning classes, Two went right to Un’s door and knocked. He should rip the bandage off immediately, so no matter how nervous he was, he knocked confidently.
Un looked surprised to see him, like he was caught doing something wrong.
“Hello P’, I think we should -”
He discovered why P’Un was weird when he saw Third sitting on the couch, looking equally as uncomfortable.
“- talk,” he uttered, mouth agape. “Oh, I’m sorry. We’ll talk later,” he said, taking his key out and entering his own apartment instead.
When he closed the door behind him, Too threw himself on his bed and buried his head in his pillow. Shit. It hurt.
Too didn’t get out of his room all day, having no class left. The next day, he stayed out and went to crash at Bone’s place for the night.
The next few days they filmed their short film for class so he stayed out every day from very early in the morning until late at night.
When the short film was done, a full week had passed since he had last seen Un. He hadn’t talked much to Third. He didn’t want to lose him, and he knew he would probably fight with him if he tried to act normally towards him.
He had no class the day after and decided to catch up the many sleeping hours he had lost in the past days. Though he didn’t get to catch up on all of them.
Around 3 in the afternoon, someone knocked on his door. He expected it to be Khai, to complain about Third probably, but it wasn’t.
Un was standing there, looking exhausted and breathless.
“You finally open the door,” he said with contentment, entering his apartment. “We need to talk.”
Too sighed, “P’, there’s nothing to talk about. I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you but we were filming our short film and I was exhausted.”
Un let his bag down, and got closer to him. “If I’m not mistaken, Too, you came to my apartment to talk about something. What did you want to tell me?”
“I forgot, P’,” he lied. “I’m sorry. I just had a big week, and it seems like you did too.”
Un furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”
“You and Third,” he croaked out with a fake smile. “I always knew you liked him, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw you together.”
“What?” Un uttered, looking shocked. “Too, you’re mistaken.”
He had grabbed his hand while saying that, which made Too close his eyes for a few seconds. It all felt too much.
“Listen to me,” he begged. “I don’t like Third. I mean, not in that way.”
“Then why was he in your condo?” Too asked, hating that he sounded like a jealous boyfriend.
“I had asked him to come… because I wanted to talk to him about you.”
Too felt his breath leave his mouth and never return. “Me?”
Un looked really embarrassed now, unable to maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds.
“We had talked a few times about it and he kept telling me that you were straight but I needed to talk about that moment on the couch and then you knocked -”
“You talked a few times about it?” Too pressed. “About what?”
Un got really silent and pulled the hand he was still holding towards his face, as if to look at it better.
“About my feelings for you.”
“M – me?” he stammered. “Not Third?”
“No!” he exclaimed, as if the thought was completely unfounded. “You,” he repeated with a shy smile.
“Me…” he murmured, trying to comprehend it all.
“Are you going to keep repeating everything I say?” He joked, before becoming more serious, releasing his hand. “But if you don’t like me back, I get it, and I hope we can still stay friends.”
Too stared at him for a while, arms hanging stupidly from his body.
“I – uh… I didn’t expect that.” He smiled.
“Wasn’t it obvious, though?” Un asked while passing a hand behind his head, embarrassed.
“I thought I saw signs, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up...”
Un’s eyes shot wide open, lips drawn in a grin. “Your hopes up?”
“Yes,” he admitted, embarrassed. “Wasn’t it obvious?”
Un’s answer was to get very close to him, hands caressing his cheeks and blushy face.
He hesitated for a long time, eyes staring at him, before kissing him softly.
“Sorry,” he whispered. “I just couldn’t wait anymore.”
Too smiled, kissing him once more. They didn’t seem to be able to stop for a while, until Too’s phone rang.
Sighing, he still picked it up.
“Hello, how are you? I’m calling you because your email address has been compromised.”
Too felt himself smile, while Un looked at him with a curious look, a hand still on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve already found my scammer,” he said, looking at him softly before hanging up.
“Did you receive a scam call?” Un asked, laughing. “I can’t believe it.”
He kissed him again, hands sliding down to his waist. “Your answer was adorable though, who knew you were a cheesy guy.”
“Well,” Too responded in between kisses, “I’ve already been scammed once, they won’t have me again.”
Un looked at him, surprised. “I never scammed you, though.”
“You did,” he grinned. “You scammed me into liking you.”
“Except it’s not really a scam, isn’t it?” Un laughed. “I like you back.”
“Well, I’ve already told you, you’re an awful scammer.”