𝐢. 𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔.
─── ･ ｡ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───
GETTING MARRIED at eighteen probably wasn't something that modern teenagers thought about. It wasn't something Pete thought about either; he was kind of a hopeless romantic, he dreamt of love at first sight, love that would last lifetimes. And all those things couldn't possibly happen when it came to an arranged marriage with both sides not interested in each other. An arranged marriage with a girl when the groom was so obviously not straight.
Getting married for business wasn't something Pete comprehended either. His father's enterprise was already big enough without fusions with others and selling your only child just to make more money in the future seemed like something parents in medieval times would have done. Not to mention the fact that his dad wasn't even really present in his life, he just told Pete what to do and expected him to obey because he was supposed to take over the business in the future. Pete didn't want it, he didn't want any of it and he knew that his mother would never force him to anything, she would've been furious if she knew about the deal her ex-husband tried to make, but Pete wasn't a little child anymore and he couldn't run to her each time he had trouble; god knew he already gave her enough grief.
The boy looked up once he could hear the bells above the doors ring. He smiled at the sight of his best friend who looked around with something awfully close to disdain on his face; the expression did not change once he spotted Pete by one of the tables in the further part of the cafè. Tin Medthanan had the "no time for your bullshit" attitude as he moved in between the tables, still in his school uniform and with a bag slouched over his shoulder. A few girls in the cafè turned their heads once Tin passed them, but the boy didn't spare anyone a glance—it was always like that, Tin was handsome enough to turn heads wherever he went even if people didn't know who he was, and that alone seemed unlikely. Most people in Thailand knew who the Medthanans were.
"Hello, Tin," Pete waved a hand when Tin flopped to the chair opposite to him.
"I don't have time for this, Pete," was the first thing Tin said instead of a greeting.
Pete pouted, wrapping hands around the glass of cold water in front of him. "I'm literally your only friend, you should have time for me," he pointed out, making Tin roll his eyes. He didn't disagree though, so Pete already got a little happier. "Dad said they're having a meeting next week. I'm supposed to be there to meet my fiancee," Pete swallowed with a frown. This word sounded so weird.
"Ugh, that's disgusting. Don't call her that," Tin sighed, leaning back in the chair and looking out of the window, seemingly without interest.
"Oh, so you don't want us to be family?" Pete cooed cheekily, making Tin's head snap into his direction.
"You know it's not about you, Pete. Besides the fact that you're as interested in girls as I am in football, my sister doesn't like you that way either and marriage isn't something you can call off after a day, not this one. Tul is already ruining my life, I don't want my family to ruin Tara's, too," Tin explained, even though Pete already knew all of that. He also knew that Tin wouldn't let anyone hurt his sister or Pete for that matter, but when it came to their father's decisions they both had very limited options for disagreeing.
"Then... What should I do, Tin?" Pete asked in a small voice, looking at his friend from under his eyelashes. He tried to think of solutions on his own, he even considered coming out but he was afraid it will ruin the reputation of his dad's business.
Tin was staring at him for a moment and then he sighed deeply, taking something out of his bag. He put a black piece of paper on the table and slowly pushed it towards Pete, making him raise an eyebrow in question. Tin didn't say anything, he just shrugged as if to say that everything was worth a shot, so Pete slowly took the paper in his hands and smoothed it down to read it.
BOY FOR RENT
DO YOU NEED A PARTNER FOR AN IMPORTANT EVENT?
OR JUST COMPANY FOR FUN?
HIRE A BOY FOR A WEEK. FRIENDLY PRICE.
IF INTERESTED, PLEASE BRING THIS LEAFLET TO BOYZ BAR!
(address at the back)
*reserved for those who have this leaflet.
"What... is this?"
Pete squinted his eyes at the small piece of paper that was handed to him by his best friend, Tin. Currently, Pete wasn't sure what should be more worrying — the fact that a service like this actually exists, or the fact that Tin, out of all people, had this leaflet. He was sure it wasn't a joke simply because Tin didn't have a sense of humor at all, he kind of looked like the type of person who'd laugh at a funeral.
"You can read, can't you?" Tin drawled out, stirring the ice in his water with a straw. He looked up at Pete with a raised eyebrow. "You said you need a boyfriend, and I don't think you're hiding one somewhere now. Your social skills wouldn't allow you to get a boyfriend in the three days that passed from our last conversation, Ai'Pete."
Pete bit back a comment about how rude it was, mostly because Tin wasn't wrong with that one, and then he looked back to the leaflet. It looked and sounded really sketchy; Pete was pretty sure that the address leads to a serial killer's house. Not that he'd say that out loud.
"So you want me to, what, hire myself a boyfriend for a week?" Pete asked with a frown, just to make sure he was understanding it all.
"That's exactly what I want you to do."
"You've got to be kidding me, Tin. Isn't this like... Human trafficking?" Pete raised his eyebrows, lowering his voice so no one else would be able to hear him.
Tin chuckled at that, it was a rare occurrence. "Why are you always so dramatic? I've checked them, everything's legal and they're just doing it for money. You're not hiring a sex slave, it's just company."
"You're saying that like I would ever hire a sex slave," Pete could feel a blush on his cheeks at the mere mention of this.
"Whatever floats your boat. My point is, you can just hire yourself a guy for some time to show him off to our parents. My dad won't push the marriage if he believes you really are into this guy because if the press finds out, we'll be a laughing stock, " Tin kind of looked like he was making it up as he went, but Pete had the tendency to just believe his best friend because his mind was more practical than Pete's who most of the time was walking with head in the clouds.
"But then they won't make business together. My dad will kill me, he really thinks this can make the profits go up," Pete said, remembering the talk he had with his dad a few days ago. The man showed him the whole damn business plan and Pete had to look like he's actually interested in that, or at least like he knows what's this about.
Tin hummed. "Well, that is true. They have two of the biggest enterprises in our country, working together instead of being rivals would definitely be more profitable. They could simply make a business deal," he said slowly, making sure that he still had his friend's whole attention. Pete was very easy to distract. "But a marriage between the families gives both sides the certainty that they won't be cheated and they won't lose their shares no matter what. It is beneficial if you're looking at it in a strictly business way."
"So... If I get a boyfriend, I'm going to ruin everything?" Pete concluded, sliding a little further down on the chair. It seemed like no matter what choice he makes, people will suffer.
"Probably," Tin shrugged. "But they do have other options, right now that's something you and Tara don't have. Then why care about them?"
"You... Don't care about the business?" Pete reached across the table and caught Tin's face in his hands, turning it from left to right. "What have you done with my best friend?"
Tin gave Pete about two more seconds before he slapped his hands away with annoyance. "Shut up, Pete. Do you have a better idea?"
"Well, no. But... This service is for girls, Tin."
"It's not specified on the leaflet. If they refuse, we can just sue them for discrimination," Tin sighed, waving a hand.
Pete giggled at that. "Tin, you can't use my sexuality to sue everyone."
"I don't see why not?"
Pete just shook his head, looking down at the leaflet. Boy For Rent, huh?
─── ･ ｡ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───
"CAN YOU at least try to not look at me like you think I deserve it?"
"You do deserve it, Ai'Pond."
"Ae, you shit friend!"
Ae laughed, dodging the pillow thrown his way and then grabbed his backpack, looking at the clock on Pond's bedside drawer. He was going to be late for work if he didn't leave now.
Pond's phone started to ring and Ae was just about to walk out when his friend waved a hand, signaling Ae to wait a moment. He sighed, but then leaned against the wall near the doors.
"Yeah, boss. I don't think I'll be available for some time, I—What?! Did he say thrice the normal price? Wait, he? It's a boy? We didn't..." Pond frowned, looking towards Ae who couldn't look less interested. It really was a wonder they were best friends, what with Pond being the most nosy person on Earth and Ae being totally disinterested in others' business. "Can I send in my own replacement? Sure, he's great, I'm sure the client will be satisfied. Today? Of course! I'll send him in later," he added and then ended the call, sending Ae a smile that the devil would be jealous of.
"Talk shit and I'm leaving," Ae warned with a frown, crossing arms over his chest.
"You said you need money, didn't you? Well, my dearest shorty, your best friend just got you the best job!" Pond yelled, throwing his hands up. He must have moved too quickly because next, he grimaced in pain, making Ae smirk. "It was P'Tharn, there's a client that wants to pay three times our normal price, I don't really know the details yet but—"
"No," Ae interrupted, reaching for the door handle.
"Ai'Ae! Don't be stubborn! We can share the money, it's going to be more than you make in three months," Pond whined.
"I'm not going to sell myself for money, Ai'Asshole. I'm not desperate," he argued, but still stayed in the room just out of curiosity. He wasn't really considering Pond's stupid offer.
"It's a job, Ae. A job where you can discuss with the client what you are and what you aren't comfortable with, a job where your boss doesn't treat you like shit. A job where you get paid fairly just for accompanying people for a few days," Pond said and even though Ae knew he's just trying to convince him to do whatever Pond wanted, he had the point. Ae hated his current job. "I can't do it because I accidentally broke my leg—"
"You broke your leg because you were running away from a girl's bedroom after her boyfriend caught you two in bed," Ae corrected with a raised eyebrow, making Pond curse at him quietly.
"Anyways, what's the harm in going to check the client? Maybe it's a nice boy and you'll finally stop being so sexually frustrated," Pond muttered and Ae's eyes went wide.
"Fuck you, Pond!"
─── ･ ｡ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───
PETE KEPT nervously running a hand through his hair, messing it up even more. He was still in his school uniform; white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and dark pants, but during lectures, his hair was usually less... disastrous. The soft fringe ending above his eyes and making him look like a Korean idol was gone, in its place came something that could even be considered sexy (with fringe pushed back from his forehead and sticking in every direction) if it wasn't for the fact that Pete had the expression of a child lost in the fog.
The place was nice, this wasn't the reason for his anxiousness. Downstairs was the BOYZ BAR where people were dancing and having fun, and upstairs was the Boy For Rent service. A nice bodyguard led him to the elevator once he showed his ID and the leaflet, the man got in with him and then showed Pete where he was supposed to go. The office wasn't really an office, more like a big and stylish living room with two couches in a nice burgundy color that matched the draperies, a small table, TV hang on the wall and a mini-bar a little bit further. It was dimly lit, the atmosphere in the room would probably calm Pete down if he wasn't a mess of nerves in clothes.
The reason he felt like he was going to throw up was that he went through with Tin's stupid idea. He talked with a man who introduced himself as Tharn, then filled in the ridiculous form, giving as many details on what his supposed boyfriend should be like, and then offered to pay extra, knowing that it could be hard for the boys to go out with another boy. Yeah, Pete was kind of desperate. But, surprisingly enough, P'Tharn said they have someone who matched at least half of the requirements and was free at the moment, he also assured Pete that if he's not comfortable with the choice, he won't have to pay anything. He seemed like a nice man.
So now Pete was waiting alone on one of the couches and he almost jumped out of his skin when the doors to the room finally opened after what felt like an eternity.
"I'm sorry, I know I'm late but there was traffic and I didn't even know if I want—" a deep voice sounded behind Pete, but it trailed off once Pete stood up and turned around to face the boy.
Pete was momentarily rendered speechless; this had to be the most handsome guy he had ever seen and that said something, he was friends with Tin, after all. The boy was a little bit shorter than Pete imagined him to be, but his body was lean and looked strong in black ripped jeans and a simple t-shirt in the same color, his skin was darker than Pete's which made him seem even tougher, dark brown hair was falling messily to one side and he had silver piercings in his ears. He was blinking at Pete who in turn was blinking at him, and overall the first impression came off rather awkwardly. But god, if all boys in the service looked like that, Tharn must have been swamped with clients.
"Are you Pond?" Pete asked, just to make sure. He really hoped it was because suddenly the idea of hiring a boyfriend didn't seem as bad anymore.
The boy coughed and ran a hand through his hair. "I'm—no, well, I mean... Ah, shit. Pond is my best friend, he works here but he had an accident recently, that's why he asked me to fill in for him. I need to be honest with you, I'm probably not what you're looking for. This is my first time," he blurted out quickly and Pete could swear he saw a blush on his cheeks, but maybe it was just the light.
Pete probably should be disappointed, he gave P'Tharn detailed description and he needed exactly someone like that to make this catastrophic plan work, so to find out that it wasn't the boy who matched his requirements wasn't a great start. But instead Pete felt curious and he didn't want to immediately turn the handsome man down.
"Well, then that makes two of us," he chuckled and the boy looked at him surprised, but then smiled too and he seemed a bit more relaxed. His smile could put the sun to shame. Or Pete was just really gay. "Would you like to sit down and talk? You can read the form I've filled when I came here and see if you'll be able to help. I don't really know how this is supposed to work," he confessed truthfully. "Oh, and my name is Pete."
"Right, sorry, I'm Ae," the stranger said quickly, crossing the room and extending his hand to Pete. The taller boy gently took it and squeezed, noticing how warm his skin was. "Can I see the form?"
Pete handed the black folder to him and sat back down, quietly waiting for the boy named Ae to finish reading. A few times the boy raised his eyebrows and curiously looked towards Pete, but other than that he didn't talk. As the most important things Pete put the ability to lie under pressure (because his family was really stressful) and someone who doesn't get attached easily. He didn't want to make it messy, he knew himself enough to be sure he's going to have problems with being chill about it, so he preferred if the "boyfriend" would be colder than him to such things. This was just business, after all.
"Well, that's... That seems like you really know who you're looking for, and I can tell you right now that Pond is way too happy-go-lucky," Ae said slowly after some time, gently tapping his fingers against the folder. He had nice hands, Pete had a hard time focusing on anything else. "But the form doesn't say why you need someone like this. You don't really look like someone who needs to hire a boyfriend, too."
"Oh. Why do you think so?" Pete asked surprised, tilting his head to one side.
"Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately, Ai'Koon Chai?" Ae joked, making Pete blush almost instantly. "So what's the reason?"
Pete fiddled with his fingers for a moment, taking a deep breath. "My father wants me to marry a girl, it's a business deal. We both don't want that and my best friend thinks that if I show them that I'm already in a good relationship, her father won't agree to the marriage because of public opinion," he tried to explain. "But don't worry, no one will have to know it's you. Well, aside from my family but I mean your friends and stuff. I know it might be weird for you, so I'll understand if—if you don't want to do it."
"Why wouldn't I want to do it?" Ae asked softly, but this time Pete didn't dare to look up when he answered.
"Because I'm a boy. Because I'm gay. Because you might find it disgusting to pretend to be in a relationship with me," he listed thoughtfully, counting the reasons on his fingers.
Ae sighed deeply. "Ai'Pete? I already knew you're a boy before I came here. Pond told me," he informed Pete, making his head snap up to meet Ae's dark eyes. "And it's fine. This just sounds like your father wants to sell you and it kind of makes me want to punch him. And either way, Tharn told me that you can return me after three days if you're not satisfied," Ae shrugged.
Pete scrunched up his nose. "That sounds so wrong."
"Tell me about it."
Maybe it wasn't the best decision on both ends, but when Ae smiled at Pete again, Pete couldn't even find it in himself to regret anything.
At least for now.