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I need someone I can cry to, I need someone to protect

Chapter Text

The perfect opportunity presents itself when at the end of the month, true to his word, Tan organises a night out at The Mist.

It’s a surprisingly busy night at the club. With most tables occupied and the dance floor packed, the harried waitstaff are forced to work at double speed, expertly weaving between the writhing bodies as they collect empty glasses and wipe up spills. Luckily, Tan had the foresight to reserve them one of the nice booths in the VIP area towards the back of the club. Usually Bun would be more than happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers at the bar, but tonight he finds himself grateful for the breathing room the stylish roped off area and security guards silently standing watch affords them.

“I’m officially off the clock tonight,” Tan assures Bun as he slides into the booth next him with a tray piled high with shots of various colours. “So if someone starts a fight or gets caught fucking in the toilets it’s not my problem.”

“Hmm, I’ll believe it when I see it,” Bun says, picking a glass at random and knocking it back. It burns all the way down, warming him instantly from the inside out. He already feels his shoulders begin to loosen, the tension he’d been carrying from the work week bleeding away. “Is That working tonight?”

Tan quickly follows suit, grabbing a glass of clear liquid and downing it in one go. “Nah, gave him the night off. He’s staying over Sorawit’s.”

Bun’s chest tightens with affection at the thought of the two youngsters. “Good. He’s been complaining about Sorawit not having any time to hang out recently because of school. I think he’s feeling a bit neglected.”

Tan smiles fondly. “He’d never admit it but he’s a huge softie, that kid,” he says before leaning in closer to Bun. “Reminds me of someone else I know.”

“Can’t imagine who,” Bun simpers, turning his face away from Tan’s eager lips with a smile.

As he leisurely scans the club, Bun catches sight of a familiar figure making his way towards them, the other patrons parting around him like he’s surrounded by an invisible force field. With his hair down over his forehead, a black leather jacket thrown over a tight fitting white t-shirt, and thigh hugging jeans, M oozes easy confidence. Bun may have a strained relationship the police but he can at least admit their uniform is flattering, and while M wears it like a second skin, there’s something about him in his own clothes that Bun has always found far more compelling. Maybe it’s because while he looks good in his uniform, he’s comfortable in his civvies, more himself. And if the past few months have shown him anything it’s that he quite likes the real M.

“Gentlemen,” M greets. “Hope you haven’t been waiting too long, work overran.”

“Commander,” Tan replies. “Not at all. Please, take a seat.”

“Not bad,” he says, gesturing to the roped off area they’re in. There’s only one other table occupied, a small group of two women and two men. Despite dripping in designer clothes and jewellery, they’ve been relatively quiet, always politely ordering the most expensive drinks on the menu. The perfect customers, Tan had whispered to him, unobtrusive and loaded.

“It pays to know the owner,” Bun says conspiratorially as M gets himself comfortable opposite them.

M raises his eyebrows. “Is that what they’re calling it nowadays?”

The small talk flows easily; between the three of them they have the hospital, school, and police station covered when it comes to gossip so there’s always lots to catch up on. With the hours he works, Bun sometimes forgets there’s a world outside the brick and mortar of the hospital building and being kept up to date with which of Tan’s colleagues are having affairs and the ridiculous neighbourly disputes M inevitably ends up having to deal with always helps him breathe a little easier.

Bun’s just finished telling Tan and M about the baby Dr. Fai helped deliver in the hospital’s car park when the last member of their party of four finally arrives.

“Oat!” Bun calls across the room and M turns to look at him so fast Bun’s momentarily worried he’s given himself whiplash.

“You didn’t tell me he was coming,” he hisses.

“What? He’s my friend. This has nothing to do with you,” he says, watching with interest as M’s brow begins to knot into a frown. “And even if it did, surely this is another perfect opportunity to spend time with him, right?” He finishes flippantly.

M’s lips form a little ‘o’ of dawning realisation and he immediately sits up straighter, much to Bun’s amusement.

“Bun, Tan, oh, and the Commander, too,” he greets them one by one, his face lighting up in surprised delight up when he gets to M.

Bun sees M swallow, but his face stays a perfected mask of cool confidence. “Please, no title’s tonight, Doctor.”

“Ah-ha! Then you have to drop the Doctor, too,” Oat says as he settles down next to him.

“Deal,” he concedes. “Oat.”

They share a sweet, shy smile that makes Bun’s teeth ache.

As far as Bun’s aware, things still haven’t progressed between M and Oat beyond grabbing lunch together when they’re able. And considering Bun knows both of their schedules back to front, he also knows that unfortunately isn’t particularly often. Bun promised himself he wouldn’t meddle, but what he can do is offer up an innocent opportunity for them to hang out. Sure, he could have given M a heads up, but where’s the fun in that? As M so eloquently put it, Bun’s got to find his excitement somewhere.

“This round’s on the house,” Tan says, gesturing to the shots as both M and Oat reach out to grab one. “And the next one’s on me.”

“You’re the owner,” M points out, “every round should be on you.”

“Well, that’s just bad business,” Tan quips with a wink.

“Here’s hoping this night goes better than the last one,” M says, holding a glass up to Bun in a toast, humour colouring his tone.

Bun groans in embarrassment and hides his face in palms of his hands. Oat frowns as he looks between the two of them before his expression clears in understanding. “Oh! The night I had to come pick you up. Man, you were so wasted.”

M snorts unattractively. “Now that’s the understatement of the century,” he mutters into his glass, earning himself a sharp glare from Bun.

“It was a pretty good night for me,” Tan muses, leaning back so he can drape his arm across the seat behind Bun, fingertips just lazily brushing the fabric of Bun’s silky shirt.

“Tan,” Bun warns.

“An attractive Doctor fell into my arms and surprised me with a kiss,” Tan continues, completely unrepentant.

M blinks owlishly in surprise. “No way, you didn’t tell me that,” he says almost accusingly.

“That’s because I was drunk and embarrassed,” Bun hisses which only seems to delight M more. “Which was entirely your fault, by the way,” he adds.

“My fault?” M echoes in offense.

“You dragged me out to a club only to then leave me on my own to go chat up a table of women.”

“Ah yes, and in your mind that meant get absolutely smashed and maul a stranger,” he points out, his eyes sliding to Oat then darting back before narrowing at Bun. “And they were friends, I told you that then.”

“Sure, friends,” Bun mocks with a scoff.

“I’m forever in your debt,” Tan says seriously, bowing to M.

“So it was love at first sight, then?” Oat says with a grin, eagerly sitting forward in his seat.

“No,” Bun says firmly.

“Yes,” Tan disagrees, tugging Bun to his side. “I just had a nine year head start.”

“Nine years? So you knew each other already? Wow. I’m learning a lot tonight,” M muses, eyes twinkling in mischief.

Bun flicks his eyes up towards the mirrored ceiling in exasperation, unsure if he’s more annoyed by the teasing or how much he enjoys it. “We went to the same University. We met once, well, supposedly anyway, and I don’t even remember it.”

“But you do,” M directs at Tan. “He must have made quite the impression.”

“How could I forget a face like this?” He says, grasping Bun by the chin and turning his head from left to right as if showing him off. Bun slaps his hand away, the back of his neck heating.

“Shut up.”

“It’s like something out of a drama,” Oat chimes in, hands clasped together against his chest dramatically as if about to swoon.

“And you can zip it, too,” Bun says, swiping a beer mat off the table and flicking it at Oat like a shuriken. They all watch as it hits his arm and flops pathetically onto the floor.

“He gets embarrassed about not remembering,” Tan shares and Oat nods solemnly.

Bun huffs as he grabs another shot, grateful for the low lighting masking his no doubt red cheeks. “Unlikely. If anything you should be embarrassed about remembering a random encounter with a stranger almost a decade ago,” he shoots back childishly but Tan just laughs and pulls him closer until he’s practically sprawled across his lap, more than used to his sharp tongue by now. “That’s practically one step below being a stalker.

“It really isn’t,” Tan says fondly, pressing a kiss to Bun’s temple.

“This doesn’t sound like a new argument,” M says. “For what it’s worth, I’m totally on Bun’s side.”

“Hah!” Bun crows in triumph and digs a pointy elbow into Tan’s ribs. “Told you.”

“Aw, come on, M, where’s your sense of romance?” Oat says, bumping his shoulder against M’s.

“If you ask me, being on the run together to take down corruption and solve a murder is far more romantic.”

“You would!” Oat laughs, flirtatiously slapping a hand against M’s chest and letting it linger. “It’s certainly dramatic. Worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, in fact. I’d watch it.”

“Not sure that’s entirely necessary since we, you know, lived it,” he replies, grinning widely.

“True. Front row seats and everything.”

Bun narrows his eyes at Oat’s coy smile and how M has subtlety positioned his body towards him rather than Bun and Tan, effectively excluding them from the conversation. It’s almost painful to watch.

“I want to dance,” he announces abruptly to the table, not bothering to wait for Tan’s answer before pulling him out of his seat and leading him to the dance floor by the hand. He catches a brief glimpse of M’s startled expression before turning away, unable to stop the sense of satisfaction from coaxing a smirk onto his lips.

When they reach the edge of the dance floor he drapes his arms over Tan’s shoulders, pulling him in close until they’re flush against each other.

“What are you up to?” Tan whispers, his hot breath ghosting across the shell of Bun’s ear.

“Just trying to give them a bit of alone time.”

Tan’s eyebrows dart up towards his hairline. “Wait, are those two—”

“Not yet, but soon, hopefully.”

“My little matchmaker,” Tan coos, nosing at Bun’s cheek.

“I’m barely doing anything beyond cheerleading from the side-lines.”

“You’re invested,” Tan says with delight. “Aw, baby. That’s so sweet.”

Bun pulls at the short hairs at the base of his neck and Tan hisses sharply through his teeth. “Watch it,” he warns.

“Okay, okay.”

Bun lets himself enjoy the feeling of Tan pressed up against him as they lazily sway to the music. He’s already beginning to sweat, the sheer number of bodies surrounding them almost stifling, but Bun enjoys the intimacy of it. He doesn’t get to let loose like this very often anymore, responsibility chipping away at his conscience until he relents.

“What are they doing?” Bun asks as one song switches over to another.

“Hmm?”

“The lovebirds.”

“Talking.”

“Are they looking at each other?”

Tan snorts, the soft gust of air gently rustling Bun’s hair. “What? Of course they are. It’d be weird if they weren’t.”

Bun huffs in annoyance. “No I mean, are they looking at each other?” He says with emphasis.

Tan spins them around until Bun has a clear view of their table and watches as M laughs loudly at something Oat says. Grinning, the young Doctor shuffles closer until their knees bump and touches M on the wrist briefly before sliding his hand up to his bicep. M sways closer, leaning forward until he can talk directly into Oat’s ear, no doubt using the loud music pumping through the club as an excuse to get closer.

“Smooth,” Bun says under his breath, automatically cocking his head to the side when he feels Tan’s lips begin to teasingly trail down the side of his neck.

“Me or them?” Tan asks, hands drifting teasingly over the swell of his ass.

Bun can feel the heat of his palms bleeding through his jeans and he arches into the touch, pushing his hips into Tan’s. “Them, obviously,” he replies.

Tan gives a breathless laugh in response before slipping a leg in between Bun’s to give him something to ride. Bun would usually scold him with a whispered not here, promises of later pressed into his skin, but Bun’s feeling a little reckless tonight and rocks down against Tan’s thigh.

Bun feels Tan’s breath hitch. “Of course, what was I thinking?” he laments, gently guiding Bun’s rocking with his hands. “You look really hot tonight, by the way,” he says against Bun’s neck, tongue flicking out to lick away the sweat clinging to his skin.

Arousal slithers its way down Bun’s spine and he curls his fingers into the collar of Tan’s shirt. “You’re not so bad yourself,” he says, nudging Tan’s face away from his neck so he can finally bring their mouths together.

Bun slips his tongue in alongside Tan’s, the taste of Amaretto lighting up his taste buds. It’s hot and wet and makes his head spin.

“Well I should hope so considering you picked out my outfit for me,” Tan murmurs against Bun’s lips.

“You were taking too long.”

“Just wanted to look my best for you. With you on my arm, I have to step up my game.”

“Hmm. You’re forgiven.”

“Funny, I don’t remember offering an apology.”

“You can make it up to me later, then.”
“Oh, I intend to.”

Bun doesn’t know how long they spend pressed together trading languid kisses among the other sweaty club goers, but Tan did promise a second round on him, so eventually, and very reluctantly, they make their way through the crowd back to M and Oat to see what they want.

When they’ve decided, M goes with Tan to help with the drinks, leaving Bun and Oat alone together for the first time that night.

“Having fun?” Bun asks, pushing his sweaty bangs off his forehead as Oat bobs his head to the music.

“Hell yeah, man. This isn’t usually my scene, but it’s nice to hang out with both you and M for a change.”

“I’ll let Tan know he isn’t needed, then,” Bun teases as he unbuttons his shirt sleeves and rolls them up to his elbows.

Oat laughs loudly over the thumping bass and Bun’s suddenly glad he decided to invite Oat. Happy in the knowledge that regardless of whether anything happens between him and M tonight or in the future, here in this moment, Oat’s enjoying himself.

“Come off it, you know what I mean. I feel like I never get to see you both at the same time. It’s always one or other. It just makes a nice change to have all my favourite people together for once. Tan included.”

Bun chuckles, annoyingly charmed as always by Oat’s very specific brand of sincerity. It’s all in the eyes, Bun thinks; they’re always sparkling with warmth and mischief in equal measure. It’s really no surprise their patients love him, especially the kids. “Don’t let Fai hear you say that. She’ll be devastated.”

Oat gasps and proceeds to slap him multiple times on the arm in excitement until Bun catches his hand and squeezes his fingers in warning. “We should invite her next time!”

Bun pauses, head cocked to the side in thought. “You know what? That’s not a bad idea,” he admits, releasing Oat’s hand so he can fist pump the air.

After Tan and M come back with their drinks, the night seems to pass in a blur of empty glasses and heads thrown back in laughter. At one point, Oat pulls Bun back onto the dance floor and proceeds to flail his limbs about like he’s some sort of exotic bird doing a mating dance until Bun is able to guide him into something a little more sensual for the benefit of Tan and M watching on. He manages a couple of relatively competent body rolls before cracking up and Bun considers it a lost cause.

It’s the sort of night that reminds him of his time at University when he and his friends would go out to enjoy each other’s company rather than hook-up with attractive strangers. All of them overworked and sleep deprived, but young and very much living in the moment. He may not be a young student anymore, but he’s never felt more alive, and he thinks he has Viangpha Mork to thank for that.

It’s late when they all finally stumble out into to the sharp night air. Bun’s head is pleasantly fuzzy and his feet ache from being on them for too long. He clings to Tan’s side in a way that he’ll probably be embarrassed about tomorrow morning but feels completely necessary under the bright full moon as they all huddle together on the damp pavement outside The Mist.

Beside them, M adjusts his grip around Oat’s waist, pulling the younger man up when he begins to slip down in his hold. “I can’t believe I’m ending another night at this club with a drunken doctor in my arms.”

“Some people pray for such good fortune,” Bun quips. “Will you be alright getting him home?”

“Yeah, I won’t be able to sleep peacefully knowing he’s alone so I’ll stay with him until he sobers up a bit.”

“Such a hardship,” Bun teases, swaying forward to poke M sharply in the middle of his chest causing him to wince. “Text me when you get there.”

“Yeah, you guys, too,” he says, dragging Oat towards the taxi waiting for them. “Thanks for this, man. I had a great time,” he adds, clapping Tan companionably on the shoulder as he passes.

“My pleasure, we should do this more often,” Tan offers easily.

“I’d like that,” M says, almost looking surprised at the admission before turning his attention back to Oat. “Come on you big baby,” he says, gently bundling Oat into the back seat.

“Bye Bun! Bye Tan!” Oat shouts, sticking his head back out of the door. “Love you!”

Bun rolls his eyes, head lolling onto Tan’s shoulder. “Remember to drink some water. M, make sure he drinks some water.”

M salutes before sliding in next to him and slamming the door shut.

Bun keeps his eyes on the car until it disappears from sight, eyes going in and out of focus. Beside him, Tan’s face is illuminated by his phone; the shadows making the high peaks of his cheekbones look particularly sharp. “Ours should be here in a few minutes,” he says.

Bun hums and presses in closer to his side.

“Cold?”

“A little,” Bun admits.

Tan wordlessly slips off his jacket and drapes it over Bun’s shoulders. “Well, we can’t have that, can we?”

Bun blinks up at him, the street lamp behind them giving him a halo of artificial light. He can already feel himself crashing, the buzz from the alcohol fizzling away to leave a bone-deep exhaustion and slight headache in its wake. He buries his face in between the collar of Tan’s shirt and his neck where the sweat on his skin has cooled, dulling the scent of his musky cologne, and groans.

Tan chuckles as he runs his hand up Bun’s back. “You’re still such a lightweight.”

Bun lethargically mouths at the goosebumps decorating Tan’s skin, earning a shiver from the man wrapped around him that can’t be blamed on the chill in the air. “Do you think it helped? Inviting them both tonight, that is,” he slurs.

“They couldn’t keep their eyes off each other,” Tan assures him.

Bun sighs, practically boneless in Tan’s hold with exhaustion and relief. “Good. I just want them to be happy.”

“You’re something else, you know that?” Tan says softly into the night.

Later, after tumbling through the front door in a mess of limbs and drunken giggling, Bun’s phone buzzes.

From: M
[03:21] Back in one piece
[03:23] Thanks for inviting him, I owe you one

To: M
[03:25] No problem. I’ll add it to the list