Team knows his day is about to be ruined the second he sees the number calling his phone.
He stares at it, long enough that the ring drowns out into waves of static in his head.
It’s his father. He... really doesn’t want to pick up. But if he doesn’t then it will just get worse, if the already three missed calls are anything to go by. He slides the answer button, and puts the phone to his ear.
“I saw the pictures from your school trip, Team.” Not even a second after he answers the deep and foreboding voice of his father is ringing through the line. It’s as sharp as he remembers, cutting straight to his heart and stilling his breath with a chill he hadn’t realized he’d forgotten. “That boy,” he says, “you’re... seeing him. Aren’t you.”
Oh. The facebook page. Team didn’t think he would check it.
“Does he know, Team?” he insists. “Have you told him yet? That the boy he’s seeing isn’t a boy at all, but a murderer?” Yep, that’s his dad, Team thinks with a rising hysteria. His hand is clenching his phone so tight his knuckles feel ready to split. Maybe, maybe if he crushes his phone, then-
“I thought I taught you better than that,” he hisses, “I thought you had learned-”
Team blinks and his phone is smashing against the wall of his dorm, and the room is now silent save for his heaving, desperate breaths. He looks to his still trembling hand and back to the wall. He hadn’t- he doesn’t remember throwing it. Fuck.
He shoves his hands into his hair and tries to calm down his breathing. Not going to work but he tries anyway. Even now his father is still like this. Still treats him like this.
Because Team can bleed all he likes, it will never be enough. Not for his father, not for the man who always looked to his little brother first. The smart one, the proper one- the one who woke up in time and always dressed clean.
(The one who learned how to swim just to spend time with him, the one who was always running at his heels, breathless but smiling so blindingly bright because p’teaaaaam, you swim so fast! i wish i was as fast as you! you’re so cool!)
Team’s back hits the wall, and his weight pulls him down it. That boy, that boy was his son. Team was just Team. Good at swimming and even better at running away.
He knocks his head back with an audible slam once, twice- and breathes out. Long and slow. He has school in- 20 minutes, his bedside clock says, when his eyes drift towards it. He should get up. If he’s late Pharm will tell Dean, who’ll tell Win and then he’ll-
Team shudders through a sigh and closes his eyes. In a minute. He will in a minute.
Just... give him a second.
dean: you should get to the pool. now
winnie the pool: ???why
winnie the pool: omw. dont try 2 touch him n keep an eye on him till i get there pls
Once he enters the pool Win’s eyes fall immediately on Team; he’s sitting on the edge with his legs hanging over, making little ripples as they mindlessly move back and forth. He’s still in his swim clothes too, yet to change from practice, still drenched, droplets falling from his fringe and speckled all over his skin.
He walks down to Team and crouches beside him, looking at him for a few moments to gauge his awareness before resting a hand on his shoulder. Light and careful.
When Team’s head moves to watch him from the corners of his eyes, they look dead. Wet and dead. And when he blinks it’s slow, tired, like he’s underwater.
But he realizes that Win is here, at least. Which is already better than most other nights.
Win sits down beside Team fully and drapes an arm over his shoulders. “You know you aren’t supposed to be in here after hours alone,” Win murmurs into his ear. “You promised you’d tell me what was wrong instead of coming here.”
“Mn,” Team mumbles, not answering. His gaze falls away from Win and back down. He’s looking at his hands held up and open on his thighs. His fingers twitch open and closed, erratic.
“Hia,” Team bites his lip. There is hesitance and worry bleeding from his every pore. His teeth look ready to split his skin. “Hia there’s, there’s something that I need to tell you, that I-” he cuts himself off with a grimace, obviously biting back his words.
With the arm he’d already thrown over Team’s shoulder Win tugs him in lightly, just a little bit closer, and strokes at Team’s fringe with the very tips of his fingers, hoping the familiar action will soothe him.
“Hia, about- about that,” Team starts again. He won’t meet Win’s eyes, even when he noses his cheek in the soft imitation of a kiss. “I didn’t, I haven’t- I-
“You don't have to tell me, Team, not if-”
“No,” he shakes his head, frantic. “No, no you have to know because if you don't know then you don't know but if you know, then- then-” Team hisses and his hands come up and dig into his hair.
Win sighs and clasps Team’s wrists to stop him from hurting himself anymore. “I thought we already had this talk, Team, there's nothing you could—
“What if i was a murderer?”
His blood, his bones, his skin- every inch of Win falls cold.
“What if I killed someone, hia? Would you still love me then? You said that there was nothing I could do to stop you from loving me, but hia, I already have. And you didn’t know, you didn’t know and I let it happen I let you think I was- that I was-” his breaths are coming faster, enough that he’s already struggling for words and Win isn’t about to let him work himself into a panic attack.
“Team, Team, baby-” Win cups team’s cheeks and pulls him to face him. “Baby, what do you mean?”
“Exactly what I’m saying hia, that I killed him.”
Win thumbs at his tears, silently urging for Team to keep talking, to keep looking at him. “Killed who, Team?” he asks softly.
“... My- my brother,” he says so, so quiet. “My little brother, hia.”
winnie the pool: cancel prac tomorrow for me n team
dean: k. didnt go well?
winnie the pool: yeah no i
winnie the pool: fuck
winnie the pool: i have no idea what the fuck im supposed to do dean
winnie the pool: this is like. u and pharm levels of fucked
winnie the pool: no im srs. cant tell u bc i doubt hes told pharm but like
winnie the pool: this is so much more than i thought
dean: hes w/ you now though right
winnie the pool: yeah he passed out the second i got him in my dorm. he was out of it the whole way back tho
winnie the pool: oh is pharm worried? u can tell him i have him
dean: he’s been reading over my shoulder. he says thanks. and that team had been off in class all day, apparently
winnie the pool: o thank u pharm :3 i blow him a kiss
dean: no you don’t
winnie the pool: lmao
winnie the pool: anyway ill leave u two to b gross and cuddly. i need to keep an eye on team
dean: you sure you’ll be fine?
winnie the pool: no but
winnie the pool: what can u do, u kno
dean: ...text if you need anything, alright?
winnie the pool: d’aww
winnie the pool: will do bb :3 this one is for u
Win closes his phone and drops it on his bedside table, shifting his attention to the boy sleeping dead to the world on his chest.
He threads his hand through Team’s hair, and wishes that lying here like this was all it would take for Team’s problems to disappear. For him to be happy.
I love you, he thinks, kissing Team’s forehead. I love you like I have never loved anything else, and I won’t let you deal with this alone.