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Fresh Start

Chapter Text

Pat looked up, wondering why Pran had stopped playing and singing in the middle of the performance. 

He cautiously stood up behind the school drumset to peer into the audience. His heartbeat spiked up at the sight of Pran’s parents. Inwardly panicking, Pat slid his eyes to meet Pran’s terrified ones. 

After a few seconds, Pran turned, unslinging his guitar with fumbling hands, and dropped the beloved instrument to the ground with a cracked thunk. Pat winced at the instrument’s fate, watching Pran rush down the stage stairs and flee out of sight. 

Murmurs arose in the crowd, but the only thing Pat could hear was the fading steps of Pran running away into the distance. 

---

Pran ran. 

Fueled by adrenaline and fear for breaking the legendary family feud and his parents’ disappointed faces, he sprinted out of school grounds, rushing past the idling security guard at the gate.

The guard shouted after him and tried to give chase, but was quickly left in the dust.

Pran ran. He tore off his jacket and threw it to the ground behind him. The sun sank slowly down into the horizon as he ran.

Past the park a couple of blocks from the school, past the neighborhood he lived in, past the border of the town. 

His breaths grew labored and his legs ached, but he didn’t stop running. 

Tears trickled down Pran’s face, blurring his eyesight. He veered into the forest, ignoring the scratches he received as tree branches and brambles tore at his sweaty school uniform. 

A sharp tree branch suddenly tore a diagonal mark across his left eye. Pran cried out and tripped, tumbling into a clearing full of fireflies. 

Pran whimpered, clutching at his torn eye as he tried to get up on one trembling arm. With the darkening vision in his remaining eye, he watched a pair of sandals hurry towards him. He felt himself collapse on the ground, blood streaming onto his torn clothes and seeping into the ground.

---

After the disaster of the performance, the only thing that Pat could hear was the ringing in his ears. When he came to, he felt slammed into something. 

Pat looked up to see the angry eyes of Pran’s mae. Pat flicked his eyes past her, to see his bandmates and Pran’s pa. His bandmates were looking a bit scared behind Pran’s fuming pa. 

He winced as the handles of the cabinets of the music room dug into his back. “Where’s my son?” She growled.

“Huh?” Pat asked. “Is he not here?” Pat wheezed, scrabbling at the hand now enclosed around his neck. He could dazedly see his bandmates jolting into action, only to be held back by Pran’s pa. 

“Where is he?” She screamed. “If you took the time to take my son’s useless guitar-” Pat flicked his eyes to where Pran’s guitar was usually stashed. He ignored Pran’s mae’s screaming as he looked, flabbergasted at Pran’s guitar case that was there.

How long did I zone out? Pa thought to himself. Did I do that?

He let out a choked cry as Pran’s mae slammed him into the cabinet again. 

“Are you not paying attention?” She screamed. Seeing her crazed eyes, Pat’s eyes widened in panic. He struggled harder against her tightening grip. “I’ll kill you!” 

Trying to claw off Pran’s mae’s hands around his neck, Pat raised a foot and slammed it as hard as he could against her side. A crack echoed in the room as Pran’s mae gave a pained cry and let go of Pran’s neck. 

Pat stumbled toward the door. He turned his head towards his bandmates, who were struggling to hold Pran’s pa back.

The student trio looked at each other, then looked at the crazed parents. “Pat, get away!” One of the bandmates shouted at him.  

Running through the doorway, Pat slammed the door shut behind him. He leaned all his weight against the door just in time for Pran’s pa to slam against the closed door. 

Pat heaved hacking breaths as he heard a crash and a pained cry inside. 

“Pat, run!” One of his bandmates bellowed through the door. The door was slammed against again. 

“We’ll hold them back! Just run!” The yell was followed by a heart-wrenching scream of pain. 

Terrified of his bandmate’s fates and the fury of Pran’s parents, Pat tore away from the door and dashed down the hallway. He heard the music room door slam open as he turned the corner. 

His bandmates’ screams fueled Pat’s adrenaline boost as he dashed across the nearly empty schoolyard towards the school gate as Pran’s pa slowly gained distance. 

The guard at the gate heard Pran’s pa’s bellows and hurried to close the gate. Seeing the gate closing, Pat flicked his eyes around and veered towards the garbage area next to the gate. 

Putting a big boost into his speed, Pat flipped onto the top of the garbage container and leaped over the wall surrounding the school. He winced slightly when he landed in a crouch on the sidewalk on the other side of the wall. Pat took a couple of deep breaths and listened to Pran’s pa’s frustrated scream on the other side of the wall. Rubbing tenderly against the growing bruises around his neck, he took off and ran for his life. 

---

When he came to, Pat looked over to see a rice paddy on the side of the road. Pat slowed down to a walk, wondering how far he ran. He knew that the nearest rice paddies from his house were a four-hour drive. 

“Hey!” Pat turned to see who yelled. 

It was some girl wearing one of those rice straw hats. “Are you OK?” she called. 

Pat looked down, coughing as he jostled the bruises on his neck. His clothes and skin were soaked in sweat. He looked up at the girl a bit too quickly and his vision swam.

“I...” Pat started to say, only to collapse harshly to the ground in the girl’s horror. 

She rushed over to Pat’s unconscious body.

“Joss!” The girl yelled. A guy’s head popped up in one of the fields. “Help me with this guy!”

 

Chapter Text

He faded in and out of consciousness, catching snippets of conversation around him and someone talking to him.

“...he can’t stay…”

“...hope you wake up…”

“...another son...part of the…”

“...you idiot…”

“...wake up...month already…”

 

He opened his eyes, squinting against the sunlight streaming through the cracks on the roof as he lay on the bed. 

Or… it was just one eye that opened. He lifted his hand to feel the other closed eye, his fingers feeling a soft bandage instead. 

“Oi, don’t touch that.” A voice said above him. “It’s still healing.”

A hand gently lifted his hand away from the bandaged eye. A baby-faced male appeared in his vision.

The male tilted his head to the side. “You’ve been asleep for two months. One of my cousins found you collapsed on the ground outside the village and you’ve been here ever since then.”

The figure on the bed blinked up at the figure above him/sitting next to him. “Where’s ‘here?’” He croaked, trying to get up on the bed. 

“Oh.” He helped the person on the bed to a sitting position and gave him a cup of water. 

“‘Here’ is Teng Tailo. I’m Wai, by the way.” Wai said. “Who are you?”

The figure on the bed finished the cup of water in his hands. 

“I…” His eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he tried to answer the question. “I don’t remember,” he said, puzzled, looking up to Wai. 

---

Somewhere else, a guy startled straight up on the bed with a terrified scream. 

If they had screamed because they woke from a nightmare in the middle of the night, it would have woken up the whole house. 

Instead, this person had screamed in the middle of the day, startling the woman that was dozing next to the screaming person. 

“Woah!” The woman fell off the chair, bouncing up in a flash to calm the person on the bed. “You’re safe.” She babbled reassurances as the person on the bed calmed down, carefully pulling out the needles in his arm. 

She was startled when the male hugged her and buried his head into her chest. After a few moments, she wrapped her arms around the male and rubbed his back. When she felt the guy’s body relax, she spoke. “Before I brought you here, you had collapsed on the road, probably out of exhaustion because you were one sweaty motherfucker.” She chuckled at that. “I had to get someone to bring a stretcher because you were too slippery to carry.” 

“Anyway, I’m Kaew,” she continued. “We’re an hour away from the nearest town, because my partners and I live and work on a farm. Where do you live?”

The guy shyly lifted his head to look at Kaew. Kaew watched the gears shift in his head, only to figuratively come to a halt. 

“I don’t remember,” he said, nonplussed. 

“Do you remember your name?” Kaew questioned. 

---

"Do you remember anything before you woke up just now?" Wai asked. The figure on the bed frowned, and shook his head. 

"Fuck." Wai muttered. "P'Mae!" he yelled. 

"Don't yell so loud, I'm in the next room over." A low woman's voice called back, muffled. "What?" 

"He says that he doesn't remember anything." Wai called back. 

A figure adorned with beads of necklaces and bracelets burst through a curtain and bustled towards the bed, startling the person on the bed. 

P'Mae snatched the figure's hand and looked closely at it, then looked at his face, and pinched a cheek. The figure flinched away, rubbing at his cheek. Wai snickered, only to get smacked by P'Mae and pinched on both cheeks. P'Mae turned back to the figure on the bed.

"Time will reveal who you were, but time that is far away from now will tell who you are in the past." P'Mae addressed mysteriously to the figure on the bed. "Now, it is time to build a new life here."

"Huh?" He asked. 

"You will now be Chareon Chuahirun, as in to flourish in the unknown." She took off a dark blue necklace from her neck and hung it around the newly named Chareon's neck. 

"Welcome to Teng Tailo, Narai." P'Mae cheered. "Now I'll go tell the village leaders." She skipped out of the door, giggling.

"Wha?" Chareon asked, turning to Wai, who was also puzzled. 

"I think P'Mae did a naming ceremony to give you a new name," Wai answered. He poured another cup of water and passed it to Chareon. "Since you don't remember anything before today."

"So…" Chareon sipped the cup. "My new name is Chareon Chuahirun then. What's the Narai thing then?"

"Your nickname." Wai glanced through the door where he could hear someone screaming "P'MAE" and someone else, presumably P'Mae, giggling. Wai turned back to Chareon. 

"So should I call you P'Narai or Ai'Narai?" 

Chareon made a face at the second address. 

Wai pouted. "I guess P'Narai then." 

---

The figure’s breaths sped up. “I don’t remember anything,” he panicked. Kaew put a firm grip on his shoulder, snapping the figure out of his panic attack. 

"It's ok if you don't remember," Kaew reassured the younger male in her arms. “No offense, but my partners and I think that you might be in danger from whatever happened in the past.” Kaew revealed. “It looks like someone had choked you recently because your neck has pretty dark bruises on them. ” The figure gently felt his throat, wincing. 

"You can make a new life here. Do you want to make up your own name, or let me pick a name for you?" she asked. The male pointed at her. 

"Ok. Let me think then." Kaew said thoughtfully. 

After a long pause, Kaew brightened up. "What about Yuthakon Omnichakan, as in a very strong warrior?" She suggested. 

The newly-named Yuthakon beamed and nodded his head. "And we can nickname you as Dew." Kaew concluded.

She beamed at Dew. "Welcome to the family then! Rest some more, and you can meet the others." Kaew babbled excitedly. She stood up. "I'm going downstairs. There's water and food on the table next to you. Make sure to eat and drink slowly because of the bruises on your neck. You've been passed out for three days." Kaew left the room. 

Dew grabbed the pitcher of water and chugged it thirstily, streams of water seeping into the shirt he was wearing. He reached for the food, then paused. Family? He thought to himself. 

---

A dark-skinned figure burst through the door, startling Wai and Narai. He pointed at Narai as P'Mae and a fair-skinned figure came in happily through the door. "No!"

"Why no? I want another grandson!" P'Mae squealed. 

The figure stopped pointing at Narai and turned to P'Mae, crossing his arms. "That's not how it works! Do you have any idea how much paperwork I have to do?" He whined. 

The person next to P'Mae spoke. "You're the village leader, so you have to do the paperwork."

The dark-skinned figure whipped his head towards the male that spoke. "Ai'sat, you're also the village leader too!" In a flash, the fair-skinned figure was struggling in a headlock and dragged out the door. "If you want another son so much, you're helping me with the paperwork!" The dark-skinned figure declared. 

"No! P'Ter!" The fair-skinned figure protested. "Let go!" Their bickering faded into the distance. 

Narai wheezed at the arms that encircled his waist - P’Mae was hugging him a bit too tightly. 

“Welcome to the family!” She chirped. Narai flailed and looked over to Wai beseechingly.

Wai threw up his hands in exasperation, but made no move to help Narai. “Welcome to my life.” Wai offered. 

---

A tiny figure banged the door open and  bounced on the bed that Dew was on. Startled, Dew choked on the eggs he was eating. 

“Oopsie, sorry!” A tiny fist punched Dew in the back.

Dew coughed out the food he choked on, scrabbling for the water on the bedside table. A hand thrust out a glass of water to Dew.

“Thank you.” He wheezed, accepting the glass and drinking its contents. Dew put the glass down on the table and looked at the tiny girl that came in. 

She had chubby cheeks that had traces of baby fat in them, and her hair was tied back in a braid. Her sparkly dark eyes met Dew’s dark orbs. 

“Are you my new brother?” She asked cutely, tilting her head to the side. 

“Huh?” Dew asked dumbly. 

She beamed. “Yay! New brother!” She bounced excitedly on the bed. 

A tall figure entered the room. “Tingting.” the figure admonished. 

The tiny girl stopped bouncing on the bed. “Look, Baba! New brother!” She babbled, jumping off the bed to hug the figure’s leg.

The dark-haired figure looked over at Dew and smiled. “Yes, he is your new brother, but your new brother needs to rest.” 

“Why?” Tingting pouted. “He asleep for looooong time.”

The figure sighed, then reached down to hoist Tingting up into his arms. Tingting cheered. 

“Dew, right?” The figure addressed Dew. Dew nodded. “My name is Ren. Finish your food and then come downstairs to meet the rest of the family, ok? We’ll discuss your situation then.” Ren gave a reassuring smile and closed the door, taking the wiggling and babbling Tingting with him. 

Chapter Text

Dew flopped back onto the side of the bed, groaning. He really was curious about what Ren meant about family, but Dew wasn’t sure if he could stand up. His muscles were really, really sore. 

Dew groaned again and rolled over on the bed. He yelped when he fell with a thump on the floor.

“You ok there?” Someone entered the room. 

Dew gingerly rolled over to meet a pair of worried dark brown eyes. 

“It feels like I ran the entire border of Thailand.” Dew blurted. The guy chuckled while Dew processed what his mouth just spewed out.

“Thailand? What’s Thailand?” Dew asked, confused. The guy’s eyes widened in surprise. 

“Damn, that must be pretty bad memory loss if you don’t know what Thailand is.” The guy remarked. Dew looked at the guy questioningly

“Anyway, it seems like you can’t move right now. I can carry you downstairs?” The guy offered

“Ok,” Dew agreed. The guy slipped his hands under Dew’s torso and lifted Dew up into the air. Dew reflexively wrapped his sore arms around the guy’s neck.

“My name is Joss, by the way,” Joss said. They exited the room and headed downstairs. 

They entered a living room filled with people sitting on the sofas and chairs surrounding a low but wide table. Joss helped Dew sit in one of the empty sofa chairs. Dew looked across from him to see Ren and another broad-shouldered male sitting close together, and Kaew, holding Tingting, was perched in their laps. 

Dew glanced around. Six teenagers of various ages sat around the room, while a scowly dark-clothed person leaned against a shadowed corner of the room. 

Kaew spoke, drawing everyone’s attention to her. “Everyone, this is your new brother.” She introduced. Dew shrank a little at the attention when everyone looked at Dew.

“As some of you remember, Dew was in very bad shape when Rose saw him collapse three days ago. Dew has amnesia, so we are taking him into our family. Please be patient with him and welcome him to the family.” Kaew addressed everyone in the room. 

Kaew turned to Dew. “Dew, I’ll introduce you to the family-” Tingting squirmed in her place on Kaew’s lap. “Tingting-”

Tingting wiggled off Kaew’s lap and bounced towards Dew. Dew caught Tingting when she jumped into his lap. He winced when she jostled his sore muscles. 

“I Tingting!” Tingting declared and snuggled into Dew’s torso. Kaew sighed and pinched her nose in exasperation.

“Yes, that is Tingting.” Kaew sighed. Kaew then pointed at the two men that she was sitting on. “You met Ren-” Ren nodded in acknowledgment, “-and this is Neo.” The broad-shoulder male gave a grunt. “They are my husbands.”

Dew paused, then nodded. Kaew continued “Our family is a mismatch of adopted and biological children. Tingting, Rose, and Sek are our biological children.” Kaew pointed at Tingting in Dew’s lap, a lithe but muscular girl sprawled over a beanbag, and a smiley guy that had a tiger tattoo peeking out of his shirt collar. They waved at Dew as their mother spoke their names.

“The rest are kids that we adopted for some reason or the other. Joss carried you down, so you know him.” Joss waved back at Dew. 

Kaew continued. “That’s Fai-” A pop was heard when the paint-streaked clothed girl’s gum bubble popped. “And Cho.” A guy whose hair covered his eyes nodded. 

“And that’s Mek in the corner. You can call him Uncle Mek.” Neo added. Uncle Mek scowled deeper in his corner. 

Kaew stood up. “And that’s our family. You’ll get to know them eventually.” She gestured a shooing motion towards the teenagers. 

“Now you know Dew, you all go finish your homework and study.” The teenagers groaned. 

“Family meeting is over. Out!” Kaew scolded. The children grumbled but left the room. Fai picked up Tingting in Dew’s lap. 

“Bye-bye big brother!” Tingting cheerfully babbled. Dew smiled at Tingting and waved.

Uncle Mek stalked towards the door, closed it, and locked it. Kaew, Neo, and Ren approached Dew. 

“Dew,” Kaew said. Dew looked over at Kaew. “Remember I told you about how you might be in danger from whatever had happened before you collapsed?” Dew nodded. 

“We think that it’s best for you to leave the past and start anew.” Ren took over. “Since you lost your memories, I don’t think it will be that hard with Uncle Mek’s help.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” Dew frowned at Uncle Mek, who was hovering over Neo. 

Uncle Mek silently handed over a file to Neo, who took it and show it to Dew. Dew peered inside the file to see documents with his new name on them - a birth certificate, an approved homeschooled application, and several other official-looking documents.

Neo spoke. “Uncle Mek created a new identity for you. He will help you try to figure how much of your memories are gone, like if you can still read and stuff like that. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enroll in school so you can go to college.” Dew nodded in understanding. "If you want to know about your past at any point in the future, you can ask him and he'll try to find out," Neo added.

Neo suddenly reached out and squeezed Dew’s arm. Dew flinched and rubbed the spot Neo squeezed at. 

Neo exchanged a look with Ren, then looked back at Dew. “Kaew, can you make that special juice? Dew needs to drink it when he recovers.” Neo ordered. Kaew hurried to the kitchen. 

Uncle Mek tapped Neo on the head. “Mek, come back in a week. We can dye his hair later.” Neo said. He scooped Dew into his arms and briskly walked back to Dew's room, Ren following close behind.

---

Dew was bedridden for an entire week before he fully recovered from his sore muscles and the bruises on his neck faded. His new siblings and parents came to meet him and cheer Dew up while he was stuck in bed. 

Kaew brought him the so-called special juice. When Dew tasted it, he cringed because the juice was made up of different meats that were supposed to help un-sore his muscles. Kaew also talked to him about the family and stories about his siblings. When Dew called her Mae one day, Kaew teared up and hugged Dew for an awkwardly long time. 

Neo (call me pa) was broad-shouldered and dark-skinned, only visited briefly, saying that he wouldn’t be around that much because he was in charge of taking care of the farm and its workers. When he did come by Dew's room, he would sneak in different sweets for Dew to eat, trying to figure out which was Dew’s favorite. 

Ren, who had a similar stature to Neo, visited Dew with Tingting a lot. Ren was a Japanese-American who moved to Thailand. Ren interacted with the farm's customers since he could speak a lot of different languages. Ren taught Dew a bit of English and was surprised when Dew (and Tingting) learned the language pretty quickly. 

Rose, who had seen him collapse days ago, was a buff and bossy 14 year old. Rose loved working on the farm, but oddly enough, her skin didn’t tan. While she did gain muscle from working on the farm, her skin remained as white as snow. Rose would talk about gossip about the farm and its workers, and share stories about the family. Rose also liked to hog her time with Dew -  if they tried to come in when she was already in Dew's room, she would threaten to tell Dew an embarrassing story to get them to leave. 

Sek, the smiley one with the tiger tattoo, was the second oldest out of the siblings. He was in his second year in college. Sek didn’t speak much, which gave Sek an intimidating aura of a bodyguard.  His eyes were really expressive though. Dew quickly caught Sek's silent language, much to Sek’s surprise. 

Joss, claimed to be the spitting image of pa (Neo) when he was younger. Joss, who was the same age as Rose, was also an exercise addict, running errands around the farm to maintain his physique. Joss told Dew all of his favorite places and niches on the farm. Thanks to Joss, Dew had tried to sneak out of the room, only to be caught by a scolding Kaew/Mae, and sent back to bed. Dew was itching to explore the farm once he recovered. 

Fai, the messily stained one, told Dew that she was an artist, so her clothes were always marked with colored stains from her art projects. Dew doubted that Fai had one clean piece of clothing in her closet. Fai was the oldest sibling and was the owner of a popular art store in the city, which was a two hours drive away from the farm. She had someone else to take over the store for the week to come back to the farm to meet Dew. 

Cho, the one whose hair covered his eyes, passed Dew some books to read. Apparently, Dew's memory loss didn't extend to reading, because Dew could understand what was written in the books. 

Cho and Dew discovered that Dew had an eidetic memory, so Cho gave Dew his engineering textbooks (Cho was a first year engineering student) and used Dew to help him do homework. Much to Dew's disgruntlement.

Cho also showed Dew his mismatched eyes - Cho's left eye was black and the right eye was light brown. Cho was forced to become a fighter because his eyes would attract girls, making other guys jealous. To avoid fights, he covered both eyes with his hair, but Cho's charm still attracted girls to him.

Tingting, who was the youngest sibling and 8 years old, adored Dew. Tingting would bounce into the room and ask Dew to help her with her homework. 

After being woken up by Dew's screams from a nightmare the first night, Tingting would sneak into Dew's room at night and cuddle with Dew. Dew never got any nightmares after that. 

---

Uncle Mek appeared at the end of the week, hovering over Dew when he woke up at dawn, feeling something wrong. It startled Dew to a sitting position, mindful of the sleeping Tingting under the blanket. 

In the dim light of the sunrise, the shadow/Uncle Mek thrust a tablet into Dew’s hands. “Read that.” Uncle Mek said curtly, then vanished to the bewilderment of Dew. 

Tingting grumbled and shifted under Dew’s blanket, making sleepy grabby motions onto Dew’s shirt. Dew shushed Tingting back to sleep and sank into the bed to read whatever Uncle Mek gave him. 

Dew flicked through the tablet, briefly scanning its contents before moving on. His eidetic memory would care for processing the information he saw. 

Two hours later, when the rays of the sun shone through the window, the tablet was put on the bedside table, slipping through Dew’s fingers. The tablet missed the table and was instead caught by a pale hand inches from the floor. 

Uncle Mek looked at the tablet, and let out a questioning noise. Dew had turned to the last page of the entire Thailand school curriculum that Uncle Mek had compiled together. The document was nearly 5000 pages. 

Chapter Text

After the tight hug from P’Mae (no thanks to Wai, Narai thought), P’Mae checked Narai over. 

Surprisingly, despite being bedridden for two months, Narai didn’t lose that much muscle mass. Probably the ritual , Narai heard P’Mae mutter under her breath. 

As for the bandage covering his eye, Narai could take it off after a couple of days. He wasn’t blind in that eye, said P’Mae,  it was just that when Narai was brought to P’Mae two months ago, he had a deep scratch scoring across the eye. P’Mae did a ritual to make sure that he still could see once the bandage was taken off. The ritual apparently kept him unconscious for two months.  

“And made you lose your memories.” P’Mae frowned. “Two months of your life and your memories in exchange for your eyesight is not bad of a trade. Wai, go get food for my new grandson." 

Wai grumbled, but left. P'Mae fussed over Narai some more to Narai's embarrassment.

---

A few hours later, two boys in school uniforms entered the room Narai was resting in. 

“Yo, Wai, is that our new sibling?” The messy-haired male plopped on the end of the bed, staring at Narai through his thick black-rimmed glasses. 

“That’s what P’Mae said,” Wai answered. 

“So you are why Pa and Ma are fighting again.” Narai turned his head to see the other boy speak. A round-faced male sat on a stool opposite Wai. “I’m Kong, and he’s Nan.” Kong pointed at the boy with glasses. 

"Is that bad?" Narai asked. "Your parents fighting?"

"Nah, they fight over everything." Nan answered. 

Kong sniffed and adjusted the glasses on his face. "Some of the reasons they fight are really stupid though." He added. 

"So," Kong pulled out a laptop and opened it. "Pa said something about paperwork?" 

"Uh…" Narai's memories flashed back to earlier conversations. "Do you mean P'Ter? The village leader?"

Wai answered Nan and Kong. "Narai lost his memories so P'Mae decided she needed another grandson and unofficially adopted Narai. Uncle is probably whining about the paperwork to add Narai into the government system or something." 

"Ugh." Nan rolled his eyes and pulled out a laptop. "They should've just asked us to deal with it. We can hack out a new identity easily." Nan looked at Kong. "Race you." 

"Ai'sat, I'm way ahead of you." Kong shot back. "Narai, what's your full name?" 

"Chareon Chuahirun." Narai answered at the same time Nan shot back I'm already in the server saraleo , instigating an insult war between the siblings.

"Wait, guys. What about the paper trail?" Wai injected. 

"Uncle Mek." Nan and Kong replied at the same time.

"Damn it Nan, you have to cover your tracks better." Kong declared immediately after. 

"What about Narai's schooling?" Wai panicked. 

"Homeschool," said Nan. 

"And we can teach him to catch up," said Kong.

"It's not like we have anything to do." they said together, not pausing in their insult war. 

Wai groaned and put his face in his hands. 

Narai, on the other hand, turned his head between his two bickering siblings, watching them type away on their laptops. 

---

"AI'KONG!" Someone bellowed from outside the room." 

"That was fast. Looks like uncle Mek is here." Kong said, typing faster on his laptop. "Why do I always get blamed?" 

"Maybe because you're the official tech person in the village." Wai's answer was muffled.

"And you're the one who's closer to Uncle Mek," Nan added. It was silent for a few moments except for typing noises.

Nan stopped typing and looked around. He only saw Wai drowsily nesting in Narai's lap on the bed. "Where's Kong?" Nan asked. 

The door burst open. P'Ter and the fair-skinned figure from before came into the room. A dark-clothed figure slid through the door and leaned against the wall. 

P'Ter looked around the room, his eyes landing on Nan. 

Nan was leaning casually against Narai's bed, unwrapping a yellow candy. Narai felt Nan's laptop next to his left foot - under the blanket and thus out of sight. 

P'Ter pointed a finger at Nan. "You!" 

Nan looked up at P'Ter and popped a yellow candy in his mouth. "You're welcome." Nan drawled. "Now can you and Ma stop fighting now?" 

At that moment, the door fell off its frame, landing with a noisy crash on the floor. 

P'Ter turned around and promptly ran out through the empty door frame. Not a moment later, P'Mae raced across the room, yelling death threats after P'Ter for breaking the door. The dark-clothed man picked up the door and tried to fit it against the door frame. 

Meanwhile, the fair-skinned figure remained in the room, unruffled at the chaos around him. "Kong, get out from under the bed." He said, putting his hands on his hips.

"Ma!" a voice whined. Kong's head popped up from under Narai's bed. "How did you know?" 

"Because I gave birth to you." Ma flatly answered. 

"That makes no sense," Nan muttered under his breath. "Only women can give birth."

"Ma?" Narai asked.

Ma grimaced, and turned to Narai. "Because my husband is already named pa, mae is P'Mae, and nothing else worked. Just call me ma, I'm used to it now." Ma said. 

Ma thrust his hand out towards the dark-clothed figure, who handed him a file. Ma tossed the file towards Kong, who caught the file but caused papers to fly everywhere. 

"Since you two decided to do the paperwork, you two can take responsibility for Narai," Ma ordered. He turned towards the door. 

"Mek." The dark-clothed figure looked at Ma. "Let's go. We can catch up at our house." 

Mek gently set the loose door next to the door frame and left, following Ma out the door. 

---

Narai slowly recovered with the help of P'Mae, who was the healer of the village, and Narai, Kong, and Nan's grandma. P'Mae would occasionally shoo Narai outside, and Narai would walk around, observing and helping the villagers.

Narai quickly learned that he was an observational learner - he could learn to do something after watching someone do it once.

P'Ter, Pa, came to visit Narai occasionally. Pa gave off the feeling that he didn't like Narai, but that feeling lessened as he visited Narai more. Pa was grudgingly impressed at Narai's fast observational learning skill.

Narai learned that Pa was a grumpy person and also a walking disaster. Things broke a lot around him, and he would trip over the feral cats that liked to wander around the village. The cats scratched him in return. 

Ma, whose name was M, would try to sneak Narai with sweets when P'Mae wasn't looking. Narai quickly learned that Ma had a sweet tooth and was trying to pass it on to him. His siblings had a sweet tooth, but it wasn’t as bad as Ma’s. 

Narai also thought it was a bit weird to call his male mother "Ma," but Narai eventually got used to it.

Like Kong said, Pa and Ma did fight a lot. The things they fought over were really dumb, like what they were going to eat for diiner, and still argue about it when they already picked something and was eating it. 

Narai got to know the rest of the (extended) family - Wai, Kong, Nan, and Safe - when they were not at school. 

Wai was Narai's and his siblings' cousin. He had a cat-like personality, and claimed Narai's lap as his favorite napping spot. Wai would also purr (Narai wasn't sure how a person could purr) if someone petted him on the head.

The villagers would curse at Wai because he would swipe their belongings and present them to his favorite person. Wai's favorite person at the moment was Narai (Narai would accept Wai's "gift," but later return the stolen belongings to the villagers).

Kong, Narai's brother with messy hair and glasses, had a perfect mix of Pa and Ma's features. Kong looked harmless and laid-back, but when Kong got mad, he really went off. As a result, Narai learned a lot of curse words from Kong's rants.

Kong was also in charge of fixing the technology in the village because he was technologically gifted. Kong wasn't responsible for that much - only a few buildings in the village had modern amenities. 

Nan was the spitting image of ma. He was also ma's favorite son because Nan liked baking sweets to satisfy Ma's/the family’s sweet tooth. Outside the kitchen though, Nan liked riling people up. On occasion, Kong and Narai had to pull Wai and Nan apart when Wai got angry enough to claw fight Nan. 

Safe, who had found Narai unconscious two months ago, was a cheerful teasing type of person. Safe was from a different branch on the family tree from Narai's family, but he looked a lot like Nan. Some people at school would mistake Safe as Nan's twin. 

His new family was of no help when P'Mae was in the vicinity - they scattered when P'Mae appeared and left Narai to the tender mercies of P'Mae's fussing. They came back to Narai when P'Mae wasn't around. 

To be granted, P'Mae could be scary. She fussed over everyone intensely to the point of uncomfortableness and/or embarrassment. An hour didn't go by with P'Mae chasing after a screaming someone about their health. Like Ma and his sweet tooth.  

Narai was glad when his eye bandage was taken off a few days later - he could finally get away from P'Mae's intense fussing. And maybe beat up his siblings and cousins for leaving him to the tender mercies of P'Mae's intense fussing.

Chapter Text

Dew's eyes flew open as a whoosh of air punched past Dew's lips. With blurry vision, Dew watched in alarm as Tingting jumped not-so-softly on his stomach the second and third time. Dew wheezed and doubled over. 

"Tingting, I'm awake now, you can stop jumping on me." He gasped. He rubbed his eyes awake as Tingting bounced off the bed and landed on the floor. 

"You sleep for loooong time again." Tingting pouted. "It's lunchtime." She bounced out of the room, yelling for Sek and demanding him to carry her downstairs. 

Dew yawned and stretched, wincing. He could feel a mass blob of a bruise starting to form on his stomach under his shirt. 

He got off the bed and changed, tossing his bedclothes on the messy bed. Trying to straighten out his bed head, he went downstairs, where the family was already eating into their lunches. 

Dew grabbed a plate and piled as much food onto his plate. 

"Looks like someone's hungry," Ren, Baba, commented. 

Dew grabbed the milk container instead of pouring the milk into the glass. "Uncle Mek gave me a long packet to read this morning." Dew chugged half of the container to Fai's and Tingting's disgusted 'eeewwww.'

Dew continued. "I read all of it and my brain is still processing the info, so I need lots of brain energy." 

Cho put his fork down. "It must have been really long if you overslept." 

"Yeah." Dew answered, crunching down on a fried chicken wing. "fifoantoohundatiawty." 

"You could try to talk when you're not eating at the same time," Rose remarked sarcastically. 

Dew quickly chewed the chicken in his mouth. "Five thousand two hundred and thirty pages." He clarified. "About everything covered in the Thailand school curriculum." 

It went silent at the table, except for Tingting chewing her eggs noisily. Dew looked at Cho, questioning. 

"Most people, and I mean everyone, can't memorize and process that much information in a few hours," Cho answered. "Assuming that you understand everything Uncle Mek put in that packet, that's a pretty awesome eidetic memory you have. I'm jealous." 

"Eidetic memory?" Mae asked. 

"Dew can look at a page and recall and process what was on the page immediately after. His brain is like a computer." Cho answered Mae. "I let Dew read my engineering textbook so he can help me with my homework because Sek won't help me." 

Sek glowered at Cho across the table. "Love you too, bro." Cho smiled innocently. 

"That's so weird," Rose blurted out. 

"Huh? What do you mean?" Joss asked. 

Rose turned to Dew. "Dew remembers everything after he woke up but remembers nothing before then." 

Dew shrugged, feeling a bit mixed about Rose's statement. Still feeling hungry, he grabbed seconds. 

---

After lunch, Uncle Mek appeared and whisked Dew away in a black car. 

Uncle Mek handed Dew another tablet in the car, ordering Dew to finish it. 'It,' was a smart test quizzing Dew on everything learned in the Thailand school curriculum.

Uncle Mek had arrived at their destination when Dew finished and handed the tablet back to Uncle Mek. Uncle Mek took the tablet back and escorted Dew into the building. 

"Why are we here?" Dew asked, looking around at the drab hallway walls. 

"Disguise." Uncle Mek replied curtly. 

"Just dying my hair a different color, right?" Dew asked, recalling the first time he met Uncle Mek. 

Uncle Mek grunted. "And something else." 

"Huh?" 

--- 

A person with a medical mask on his face dyed Dew's hair by dumping a murky liquid into his hair and rubbing the liquid into his scalp. His scalp tingled for ten minutes while the medical mask guy explained that the liquid had changed the pigment of his hair so his hair will permanently remain the new color for the rest of his life. 

Looking at the mirror, Dew saw his hair turned from black to a natural reddish dark brown with streaks of light brown running through it. 

While Dew was admiring his new hair in the mirror, Uncle Mek appeared and slashed a knife at Dew's face. 

"Fuck!" Dew clutched at the pain emanating from his left eyebrow. "What the fuck was that?" He glared at Uncle Mek, who was dispassionately looking back. He pried Dew's left hand off his bleeding eyebrow. 

Dew glowered while Uncle Mek silently wiped the blood off and covered the injury with a bandage. 

"Scar on the left eyebrow for disguise." Uncle Mek said. "I have one too." 

Uncle Mek brushed his hand across his face, showing Dew a short white jagged line that cut diagonally across his right eyebrow. Uncle Mek covered his eyebrow scar with his hair once he finished showing Dew. 

Dew crossed his arms and sulked. 

---

When Uncle Mek and Dew came back to the farmhouse, Dew's siblings were fascinated with Dew's new hair color. Tingting and Rose liked pulling on Dew's light brown strands, testing Dew's patience and head pain receptors.

On the other hand, Pa and Baba took one look at Dew's bandaged eyebrow and dragged Uncle Mek outside and away. They didn't appear until 2 hours later, all of them bruised and limping. Mae saw them and dragged the injured trio into the main bedroom. No sound came out of it, confusing Dew. 

Sek, in his silent language, told Dew that Mae was probably yelling at all of them in the room, which was soundproofed. 

"If the room is soundproof, how do they know if someone is outside the door?" Dew asked Sek. 

Dew translated Sek's gestures out loud. 

"Oh. So sound can get in the room, but can't come out." Sek nodded. 

Dew wandered around to find Cho. He wanted some advice on how to cover his hair over his scarred eyebrow. 

---

By Uncle Mek's recommendation, Dew was transferred into what was left of the Matthayom 4 school year despite that Dew could theoretically attend college (according to his results on the test Uncle Mek gave him). After the first week in school, he was bored because he knew the material, and dozed off in class as a result. It pissed off his teachers because Dew was a perfect student except for the fact that he slept during classes. Once the administration found out how smart he was though, they let Dew take as many electives as he wanted and bore with Dew's class sleeping habits. 

As the new transfer, Dew attracted the Matthayom 4 class gang's attention. They would stalk Dew a bit after school, taunting Dew on his 'pretty boy' looks. Dew would ignore them, unfazed except for a tighter grip on his backpack and a clench of a jaw. 

Korn, the gang's leader, was a hot-tempered person. After a couple of days of taunting Dew, he pulled the first punch on Dew in a silent alleyway. 

Dew blocked Korn's punch, much to Dew's surprise. Muscle memory from fights in the past? Dew thought to himself. 

Dew fended off Korn but was quickly overwhelmed by the rest of Korn's gang. Beaten to the ground, Dew glared at Korn and his buddies with defiant eyes. Korn reached for Dew's throat and Dew's vision went red.

When Dew came to his senses, he was grabbing a beaten-up Korn by his slightly bloodied school uniform collar. His other hand was raised in a fist as if to knock Korn out. Dew blinked and looked around. Korn's cronies were on the ground, groaning or knocked out, and pretty badly beaten up. 

"Fuck." Dew muttered. He looked around for his backpack. Tingting had decided to stuff a first-aid kit and a big-ass water bottle in Dew's backpack that morning. Dew had humored her then, but it was useful now. 

"Stay here," Dew ordered Korn. Dew carefully laid Korn on the ground and got up to take a couple of steps toward his backpack. He tore it open, grabbed the water bottle and first aid kit, and kneeled next to Korn.

Dew cleaned Korn's wounds with the water from the water bottle, then dug through the first aid kit for antiseptic and bandages. Korn watched Dew in frozen surprise and shock. 

Dew did the same thing for each person. When he ran out of bandages, Dew took off his school uniform shirt and tore it into strips. 

Dew patched himself up last. Korn, who was now leaning against the alley wall, watched Dew struggle to tie a bandage on his arm. It was only Korn and Dew left in the alleyway; the rest of Korn’s gang had fled. 

"Why?" Korn croaked. 

Dew glanced up at Korn, then continued to bandage himself up. "What do you mean?" 

Korn cleared his throat. "Why patch us up when you're the one who beat us up?" He rasped. 

Dew shrugged. He packed the water bottle and first aid kit into his backpack, zipped it shut, and slung his backpack over one shoulder. He slowly got up and held a hand out to Korn. "Need help getting home?" 

Korn stared warily at Dew's hand, then at Dew. 

---

That fateful day (or disastrous, if you asked Dew) was the start of a strong brotherhood between Korn and Dew. 

Dew also became the de facto class gang leader. He rarely got into fights, but when he did, it was usually to pull the hot-tempered Korn out of some mess or fight against seniors and/or guys looking for trouble.

Over the course of several fights, Dew discovered that he would get red vision, or go berserk, as Korn called it if someone tried to reach for his throat during a fight. Korn wasn't aware of the trigger action to Dew's berserk mode - he told Dew that it was really hard to stop Dew when he got angry. 

Dew also got into the habit of patching people up after snapping out of his berserk mode, much to the embarrassment of everyone around. Korn tried to break Dew's 'doctor' habit to no avail. 

At home, Dew would finish his homework, and then hang out with his siblings after helping them with their homework.

With Joss, Dew went around exploring the farm, making chaos like chasing the chickens and snatching fruit grown on the farm for a quick snack. 

Rose, Dew learned, loved working on the farm and was aiming to take over the business from their parents. When Rose caught Dew and Joss making trouble, she would boss them into carrying crates of produce from the fields to the trucks. 

Tingting was very cheerful and energetic, but she was such a little gremlin. She used her doe watery eyes to get what she wanted and liked pulling on Dew's hair and squishing Dew's arm muscles. 

Mae was always in the kitchen to cook for everyone, or went around talking to the farmworkers. Dew learned how to cook, and helped Mae in the kitchen on occasion.  

Baba and Pa were always busy with the farm business, but they would always be at the table at meals. They praised Dew's ever-growing school achievements. 

Fai and Sek rarely came home. Fai had her art store, and Sek was doing his engineering internship. When they did come home, they spoiled Dew with gifts. Fai usually gave Dew art-related supplies, and Sek would give Dew whatever that Sek thought Dew would like. 

One time, Sek decided to spontaneously gift Dew a drum set. Mae made Sek return it, but Sek came back the next weekend and smuggled a silent drum set into Dew's room. Mae found out a day later, but Sek already left to go back to his internship. Mae fumed around the house, unable to yell at Sek. Sek didn't dare come back to the house for months.   

Cho came home on some weekends and would spar with Dew. When Dew mentioned his berserk mode, Cho came home every weekend, much to the confusion of their parents.

Dew tried to control his berserk mode in their spars, but Cho was no help. Cho was always trying to trigger Dew's berserk mode, then would aim for Dew's throat a couple of minutes into the spar once he found Dew's trigger.

"Are you a masochist or something?" Dew asked Cho while Dew was patching Cho up one day. "You always lose when you trigger my berserk mode."

Cho laughed, then winced. "I want to defeat my engineering seniors. If I can beat you in berserk mode, then beating my seniors will be a walk in the park."

"What's up with beating up seniors?" 

"You did that with your seniors, didn't you?"

"How do you know?" 

"Joss told me."

"How does-" Dew paused. "How does Joss know?" 

"Word gets around." Cho sat up. "The other kids call you the 'Naksu Mo' and try to avoid fighting you now."

Dew tilted his head. "Now that I think about it, I have been getting into fewer fights lately. But the 'fighter doctor?'"

Cho snorted. "Do you know how fucking embarrassing if the enemy beats you and your friends up and then patches everyone up right after?" 

Dew shrugged, unfazed. "That's their problem. I've got enough books to carry from the extra electives I'm taking, and Tingting keeps shoving first aid kits and water bottles into my bag. I can't say no to Tingting, and I'm not lugging all of that around all day." 

Chapter Text

"That's not normal, is it?" He asked. Narai stared at his reflection in the mirror. 

His scar across his eye was a faint red line that started from the top of his left cheekbone and ended just under his left eyebrow. 

The scar was normal. But his deep blue-colored left eye that had a slitted cat pupil wasn't. 

Wai, Safe, Nan, and Kong stared at Narai's face in fascination. 

"Hoi." Narai snapped his fingers. His cousins and siblings snapped out of their dazes. 

"Not for regular people," Nan answered.

"Huh?" 

"The family trait." Kong clarified. "Sinh the cat from the Birman cat myth reincarnated as a human and fell in love with one of our ancestors. All of their babies manifested some sort of cat trait like a cat tail, sharp vision, or something like that. Our family is Sinh's descendants, so we all have inherited a cat trait."

Narai watched Kong take off a light grey bracelet. "See? My left eye is like yours." Narai looked at Kong's left eye. It was now a slitted light grey eye.

"Same." Nan took off a golden ring. Nan blinked, and Nan's black-brown left eye turned into a golden-slitted one.

Both of Narai's siblings put their jewelry back on, and their eyes returned to their normal black-brown color after a blink. 

"P'Mae made these so we look normal," Nan said. "P'Mae is probably making yours now so you can hide your cat eye. 

"Cat characteristics?" Narai asked, confused.

"Pretty." Wai cooed suddenly, reaching for Narai's face. Narai batted Wai's hand away. 

"You, Nan, and I have a cat eye for left eyes, which is a physical manifestation of the family trait," Kong answered. "Wai has a mental manifestation of the family trait of having a cat-like personality." 

"Pa's cat trait is being a walking disaster and stubbornness, and P'Mae's cat trait is the nine lives. Nobody knows Ma's cat trait." Nan added.

"What about Safe?" Narai asked, turning to Safe. 

Safe shrugged. "I'm too distantly related from your family to inherit cat traits, but I can see really well in the dark." 

---

P'Mae gave Narai a blue earring to hide Narai's blue cat eye and gave a stern lecture about how Narai should never show his cat eye to anyone except family.

The blue earring that was to hide Narai's blue cat eye ended up as a helix piercing. Now, the only odd thing about Narai's face was his scar.

It was the first day of summer break when P'Mae gave Narai the concealing blue earring. Having the free time, Narai's siblings and cousins caught him up on his non-existent school knowledge. Narai had to start from Prathom 1 curriculum, but with their help, Narai advanced a grade level every few days. Narai's brain soaked up knowledge like a sponge.

When the new school year approached, Narai was finishing up Pratthayom 4 curriculum, so Pa and Ma enrolled Narai into Pratthayom 5 with Wai and Safe. Kong and Nan were in Pratthayom 6, getting ready to take the college exams. 

Narai was stared at a lot on the first day. The stares annoyed Narai, so Narai focused on ignoring his classmates to keep his temper under control. Wai and Safe were in a different class section, so Narai steamed internally until he could meet up with them at lunch. 

Louis, Narai's deskmate and also a new transfer, was the only one in the class unfazed by Narai's scarred appearance. He only glanced at the scar and then talked with Narai normally. Unlike everyone else who stared at Narai like a zoo animal. 

Narai liked Louis's chill persona and introduced him to Wai and Safe at lunch. 

Louis was unfazed at Wai's catlike behavior. By the end of lunch, Wai ended up napping in Louis's lap, which indicated that Wai accepted Louis as his new packmate. 

Safe and Narai looked at each other and shrugged. From then on, their group of three became four. 

Louis and Safe caught on like a house on fire over similar interests. They liked exchanging fighting moves and strategies and competed with each other for making the cheesiest puns. Later on, they bonded over dealing with Wai when Wai got tetchy and teasing Narai to the point of embarrassment. 

After lunch, the foursome split ways back to their classrooms. As Narai and Louis walked back to their classroom, Louis noticed that Narai was uncomfortable with the other students' stares. He suggested that Narai should turn the tables on them and stare them down instead. 

Following Louis's advice, Narai got stared at less often and earned the reputation of being a "kundere" or "kuuder" or whatever the stupid term was pronounced. 

Narai would also stare down any other guys that were trying to pick a fight with Narai. They got creeped out by his stare and scurried away, or got beaten up by Narai himself.

---

A year passed. 

During that time, Pa and Ma heard about Louis and invited him to the village. Pa interrogated Louis, and in a convoluted and invasive line of questioning, found out Louis was Uncle Mek's son. 

Well, Pa thought Louis looked like Uncle Mek, so he asked Louis if he was adopted, and then asked what happened to his biological parents, and then called Uncle Mek. The paternity test came out positive, so Pa invited Louis's family to the village.

Apparently, Uncle Mek had a one-night stand with some girl. The girl got pregnant, gave birth to Louis, and then died from birth complications shortly after. Louis was then adopted by a couple who were a pair of extreme sports maniacs. Being exposed to so many dangerous situations by his adopted parents/extreme sports maniacs was the reason Louis was so unfazed by everything. 

Uncle Mek met Louis's adopted parents. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but Louis's parents invited Uncle Mek to one of their extreme sports trips. Ma said later that Uncle Mek was invited to join Louis's parents' trips anytime.

Uncle Mek's and Louis's interactions were also awkward. They both had collected personalities and could fight, but that was where the similarities ended. They eventually settled on weekly spars as their father-son bonding activity.

As 'honorary' family members, Ma invited Louis's adopted parents to move into the village (Pa grumbled about paperwork for some reason, then eventually agreed). They almost always were out on an extreme sports adventure, so Louis more often than not lived with Narai's family. 

Louis told Narai he was secretly glad that he met Narai. Before meeting Narai, his adopted parents would move places between school years, forcing Louis to switch schools every year. Now, Louis didn't have to transfer schools for Pratthayom 6. 

Apart from the Uncle Mek and Louis situation, Kong and Nan aced their college exams and got into the college of their choice on full scholarship, and decided to pursue double majors. 

Narai thought his older brothers' degrees were of a weird combination - Kong decided on Architecture and Computer Science, and Nan decided on Food Sciences and Political Science. 

"Is taking two different majors even possible?" Narai asked them when the three brothers were cuddled up on the bed for a sleepover. 

"Both the Poli Sci and Food Sci Deans were practically bribing me to join their departments," Nan explained. "I made a bargain to join both departments and then graduate from both within 5 years on full scholarship." 

"I did the same thing," Kong said. "Replace department Deans with the government though. The government wants me to join their cyber security team."

Narai cursed. "What the hell."

"Yeah, like little bro said. What the hell," Nan echoed. 

"Does Pa and Ma know about the government recruiting you?" Narai asked.

It was silent for a while. "No," Kong answered in a small voice. 

"You is fucked." Nan bluntly said. 

"Uncle Mek knows." 

"Uncle Mek doesn't count. You still fucked."

---

Another year passed by. Kong and Nan breezed through their first year in college. 

Narai, Wai, Safe, and Louis applied for the architecture department at Kong's college, much to Kong's secret joy (Kong lorded it over Nan, who was at another college). All of them received full scholarships, so Pa and Ma threw a big party at the news.

Someone (Narai suspected Nan) decided to spike the punch bowl, and things went weird after that. Or that was what Ma said. Narai didn't remember anything after drinking the spiked punch.

Narai woke up the next morning with a headache and in the middle of a naked cuddle pile with Safe, Wai, and Louis. A bunch of the village cats that usually prowled around the village were cuddled on top and around the naked humans.

Narai quietly freaked out, then wiggled his way out of the human/cat cuddle pile. He then put some clothes on and left. 

Looking for Pa and Ma, he found Pa laughing on the ground, pointing at Uncle Mek. Uncle Mek's face was blank (as it usually was), but there were white cat ears nested on the top of Uncle Mek's jet-black hair. 

Uncle Mek had somehow grown white cat ears overnight.

P'Mae later dragged Uncle Mek away, and he returned normal-looking. Narai guessed that P'Mae gave Uncle Mek concealing jewelry to hide his cat ears because Pa kept teasing Uncle Mek about his cat ears.

Like Uncle Mek, Louis also grew a cat trait overnight. Louis freaked out when he saw his sharper-than-normal molars in the mirror, then calmed down when his molars returned to normal.

Louis learned that his 'cat fangs' only appeared when he was especially emotional, which was usually when he was fighting someone. Louis's teeth could be explained away as a trick of the light in the heat of the moment, so Louis didn't need P'Mae's concealing jewelry. However, P'Mae gave Louis a lecture to hide his cat fangs as much as possible by trying to not get too emotional. 

"Yay." Safe cheered flatly when they were in a cuddle pile on Narai's bed a couple of weeks later after the disastrous party. Unlike that night of the naked human/cat pile, they were clothed, and no cats were in the room. "All of us have cat traits now." 

"Huh?" Louis asked. 

Narai explained the cat Sinh story that Nan and Kong explained to Narai years ago. 

"So," Narai concluded. "I have a cat eye, Safe has really good night vision, Wai has a cat-like personality, and you have cat fangs." 

"Oh," Louis said. It was silent in the room for a while. "Then we should call ourselves that Kitty Gang then," Louis remarked.

Narai groaned. "Ai'sat. Fuck off with the cat puns."

Chapter Text

Hearing Korn's shouts around the corner, Dew slowed down to a walk. A blue blur tore around the corner and stopped at the sight of Dew and the people behind him. The figure then turned back, only to see Korn, Chang, and Mo bearing down on him. 

Dew watched as the blue-clothed figure ran towards the graffiti wall and somehow climbed to the top of it. The figure perched on the top of a wall, staring down at the group of engineering boys on the ground like a cat. 

"You-! Sneaky motherfucker!" Korn panted out, pointing at the figure on top of the wall. "Give me back my jacket!" 

Dew tossed Korn, Chang, and Mo mini water bottles. They had been chasing the slippery architecture student all over campus. 

The figure tilted his head. "My name is not 'motherfucker,' he declared. "My name is Wai." 

Korn, Chang, and Mo crushed their water bottles and lobbed them at Wai, who batted them away.

Dew crossed his arms. "Does it look like we care?" He asked. "Take off the jacket and give it back."

"I could do that," Wai slowly answered. "But y'all are trying to pick a fight." 

"And you’re running away from a fight? What, are you a coward?" Dew retorted back.

Wai snarled at Dew. "There's one of me and lots of you. But I could just take all of you on instead-"

"Call your people," Dew growled out. A red-hot rage balled in his gut. 

"Woah!" Korn held out placating hands. "Don't make him angry." Korn nodded at Dew. "When he gets angry, he can't control himself," Korn informed Wai.  

"Did someone say fight?" a new voice asked. A person popped up next to Wai. Surprised, Wai screeched and fell off the wall, landing in a crouch between the engineering students. The engineering students snickered.

Wai got up and turned to the new person, who was sitting on the top of the wall. 

"Ai'sat! I was dealing with it!" Wai called back. The engineering students shifted angrily while the figure on top of the wall fished out his phone. 

The figure swooned and wiped an imaginary tear away from his face. "I'm very proud of you for starting your first fight," the figure gushed. Wai stomped his foot and fumed. 

The figure put his phone away, turning to Dew. "I called more people. If you want a fight, we'll give you a fight."

The figure jumped down and landed next to Wai. "Who's first? I haven't filled my daily fighting quota yet." Louis grinned maniacally. 

---

Narai laid out his supplies on the table and shoved his earphones into his ears. 

Living with his chaotic family turned Narai into a neat freak, mainly because Wai's kleptomaniac habits were a hassle to deal with. 

Narai had quickly learned that being more organized helped him find things more easily - if the object wasn't there in its designated place, it meant that Wai had stolen it and Narai had to get it back. 

Narai was in the middle of drawing a line when a body crashed into him. Narai groaned and turned to see an out-of-breath Safe. 

"What?" 

"Sorry, there's a situation." He panted. "Louis is already there." 

"So?" Narai turned back to his sketchbook. "Louis is always getting into fights." He frowned down the messed-up line on the paper. "You know, he's lucky he hasn't got caught and lost his scholarship yet." 

"Did you not see the text? Wai started it." Safe replied. 

Narai whipped his head up. Wai never started a fight, it was always Louis.  

"Come on." Safe poked Narai. Narai got up and meticulously put his things away. 

"Damnit Narai!" Safe whined. "Just leave your stuff here." 

"You go ahead. I'll catch up." Narai answered, continuing to put his things away. Safe grumbled and rushed out. 

---

Dew came to his senses and felt himself lying on the ground. He lifted himself to his elbows and clutched at his chest. 

Ow. Dew thought. Who the fuck kicked me that hard?

Dew got his feet, scowling through the pain. His eyes met a pair of glaring dark eyes and zeroed in on the figure's scar bisecting his left eye. 

Dew was hit with a strong sense of déjà vu as he stared at the figure. He racked his brains, trying to figure out if he met this scarred-eye person before, and came up blank. 

Dew yelled and raised a fist the same time the other person did. He was about to hit the other person when he heard the sound of the whistle. Dew and the other person froze and looked in the direction of the noise. They saw a security guard with a whistle in his mouth, and a professor catching up to the fight. 

Everyone stopped fighting and fled. Nobody wanted to get caught by the security guard or the professor. 

Several blocks away Dew slowed down and casually walked back to the engineering campus. No need to get caught by being seen running away from the scene of the fight. 

--- 

Narai poured water over Wai's bruised knuckles, then dabbed the water droplets away with a thick cat-patterned handkerchief. 

"Damn it. We almost got them before the professor showed up." Louis grumbled. Narai lobbed the handkerchief at Louis, smacking Louis in the face. 

"What the hell did you do this time?" Narai asked Louis. 

"Hey." Louis protested, tossing the handkerchief back at Narai. "Wai actually started it this time." Narai narrowed his eyes. "They threw the first punch," Louis offered. Narai glared. 

Louis nudged Safe. "You tell him," Louis muttered. Safe kicked Wai under the table and jerked his head at Narai. 

"Huh?" Wai looked up, meeting Louis and Safe's eyes across the table. "Oh. Last night we went to the bar and they were there. We were cheering for the opposite teams, but their team won. So I gave them a thumbs up." 

"You mean middle finger." Narai interrupted, seeing Safe and Louis's shifty eyes at the mention of the 'thumbs up.'

Wai grinned sheepishly. "Heh." 

"We didn't fight at the bar last night, it was just now," Safe assured Narai. "I didn't think they would bring the fight onto our territory though."

"By the way, Wai wants to work at that bar." Louis addressed Narai.

Narai grabbed Wai's collar. "If you want to work there." Narai poked Wai in the chest at each word. "No. Stealing. No. Fighting." 

Narai then frowned, eying the jacket Wai was wearing. He grabbed Wai by the jacket collar. "This isn't yours. You took this from one of them, didn't you?" Wai grinned innocently. 

"Huh." Safe leaned over the table. "I think the second in command wore that last night." 

"Second in command?" Narai asked. 

"The guy you kicked down is said to be the leader of the engineering faculty. Even our seniors won't dare mess with him and his gang." 

Louis then grinned. "He was fun to fight against though." Narai reached across the table and smacked the grin on Louis's face. 

"You're no help. Who is the second in command." Narai demanded, gripping at Wai's collar.

"The guy with the ponytail," Safe answered. 

Narai pulled Wai to his feet. "You two stay here." Narai dragged a protesting Wai away at a fast pace.

"Where are you going?" Louis called. 

"Fixing the situation, you blockhead adrenaline junkie!" Narai yelled back. 

Louis was about to get up to follow Narai and Wai but stopped when he heard Narai starting to curse out Wai. 

"Heh." Safe snickered. "Narai started his cursing rant lectures on Wai again." 

Louis shuddered and settled back in his seat. "Narai's cursing lectures are scary as fuck. How did he learn to curse that creatively and crassly?"

"Kong, duh. You've heard his rants." 

"Oh yeah, I forgot."

---

Dew was deep in thought, trying to get rid of the image of the handsome scarred eye architecture student out of his mind. 

"Iced tea for someone so icy, right?" 

"Huh?" Dew blinked and looked over at the drink uncle, the. looked back at the engineering girls smiling shyly behind him. "You can serve the ladies first." The girls giggled.

"Hey, it's ok. I already made your drink." The drink uncle placed the iced tea on the counter. 

"Thank you." Dew took the iced tea and headed to his table. 

The drink uncle chuckled. "Drink first, pay later, right?" 

Dew looked over at the drink uncle and nodded and hummed in acknowledgment. 

Dew approached the table where Korn, Chang, and Mo were sitting. 

Chang and Mo were new friends that Korn and Dew met during SOTUS earlier in the year. One of the engineering department traditions was that hazers would challenge the first years to a fight after every Friday's SOTUS session. Korn, as the hot-tempered idiot he was, dragged the silently protesting Dew and himself to the challenge every week. 

Chang and Mo were the other two first years who had also fought the hazers every week, so the four ended up teaming up against the hazers. 

The team of four finally beat the hazers down just this past month, so they received their engineering jackets ahead of the other first years and the privilege of dressing like the upperclassmen. Good riddance to the stupid first-year uniforms.

Korn closed the first aid kit and tossed it to Dew. Dew caught it and tucked it under his engineering jacket. 

"Yo, Ai'Dew. Who was that last guy who kicked you down?" Korn asked. "Do you know him?" 

Dew shrugged. "I don't know. I feel like I have seen him before, but I can't remember." 

"How about-" Chang paused, looking around. A couple of engineering students fled by their table. Soon after, the place with quiet as a mouse, except for an exasperated voice approaching the area they were sitting at. 

As the exasperated voice approached, Dew and the others could pick out the individual curse words of someone cursing another person out. 

Dew shot a strange look when Mo pulled out his notebook. "What the hell are you doing?" 

"Writing the really good insults down," Mo answered cheerfully. He pulled out a pencil and scribbled as fast as he could. "So I can use them later." Chang laughed.

Two guys appeared around the corner of a building. The white-shirt guy was cursing out and dragging the pouting blue-jacketed one towards Dew's table. 

Dew tensed up, seeing that the approaching duo was Wai and the scarred-eye guy from the fight earlier. 

"Hoi!" Korn slammed his hands on the table and stood up. The scarred-eye figure stopped mid-curse and glared menacingly at Korn while tightening his grip on the now struggling Wai. 

Dew held Korn back and signaled Chang and Mo to stand down. "What do you want," he asked flatly. 

The scarred-eye figure glanced at Wai. "Ai'Wai, give the jacket back who you took it from," he ordered. Wai glowered. 

"Or," the figure asked sweetly. "Do you want me to continue?" Wai cringed and shook his head. 

The figure let go of Wai, and Wai reluctantly took off the jacket and handed it to the figure. The figure turned to Dew, then flicked his eyes at Korn, who was looking at the jacket. He handed the jacket to Korn, who snatched it back. 

"If any of the architecture students stir up any more trouble, come to me and I'll deal with it." The figure said. "My name is Narai." 

Narai grabbed Wai by the elbow. "Let's go-" 

"Wait." 

Narai whipped his head back to stare at Dew. "What?" 

Dew pull the first aid kit out of his jacket and held it out to Narai. Dew's friends groaned. Damnit Ai'Dew, Korn grumbled to the table.

"Here." Dew nodded at Narai's left arm. "That looks pretty scratched up." 

(Narai's scratched up left arm can be blamed on Wai's sharp fingernails while Narai was dragging Wai to the engineering campus) 

Narai stared at Dew, then at the first aid kit. Wai's hand suddenly shot out towards the kit and there was a blur of movement. 

Korn, Chang, and Mo tensed up while Dew blinked, feeling the first aid kit snatched from his grasp. The kit appeared in Narai's hands and Wai ended up rubbing his head, presumably from a head smack. 

"Thanks." Narai pulled Wai away. Dew and his friends warily stared at the duo, who stopped at the drink stand. 

After a few minutes of Narai talking to the drink uncle and Wai sulking, Narai handed over a couple of bills of money, then turned towards Dew's table. He winked, gave a mock salute, then left, with Wai following at his heels. 

"Huh? They didn't buy anything…" Chang wondered.

The drink uncle popped his head around the counter to look at Dew's table. "Hey, you all! No need to pay, your friends paid for your drinks."

"Who?" Chang called back.

"The two guys that were just here." The uncle answered.

Korn smashed his fist into the table. "Those sneaky motherfuckers." He growled.

"That sorry excuse of a wet cat boy who likes going down on married sluts." Mo suddenly said. 

Korn whipped his head around and advanced on Mo. "Are you trying to insult me?" 

"No, that's what you should say instead of 'sneaky motherfucker.'" Mo grinned, unfazed that Chang was trying to hold back Korn from him. 

Mo held out his notebook - now filled with notes on Narai's insults - to Korn. "See?"

 

Chapter Text

Through the haze of sleep, Narai heard the alarm go off. He reached for his phone-

only to knock something onto the floor. He startled at the noise and cracked his eyes open. 

He groaned when his alarm wailed at him again. Wincing in his sitting sleeping position on the chair, he shuffled his feet on the floor, maneuvering his desk chair around his desk and towards the bedside table. Yawning, he smacked the bedside table. The noisy alarm fell silent. 

Narai stood up and stretched, rubbing his eyes. He wondered how he ended up at his desk chair overnight, because he clearly remember tucking in under the bed covers last night. He dragged his wheely desk chair back to its spot and looked at the desk.

Leaning on the back of the chair, he grabbed his usually-closed sketchbook and looked at the filled page. 

The page had a partially-colored sketch of a neighborhood street facing two houses. What stuck out to him was the red and yellow trash cans. The cans stood on different sides of a pink painted line on the curb in front of the houses.

Narai furrowed his eyes in confusion. Feeling a headache coming on as he stared longer at the mysterious sketch, Narai hastily closed the sketchbook. He decided to deal with it later. 

---

Absently, Dew stepped onto the ledge and sat on the railing. Korn, Mo, and Chang leaned against the railing, and they stared at the foursome below. 

“He’s always hanging out with his friends,” Dew observed.

“People say that true friendship is always sticking really close to your friends.” Mo grinned. “Like really, really close.”

Dew smacked Mo. “Stop fucking around with quotes. The hell are you trying to quote in this situation?” He jerked his head towards the four architecture students below.

“Hey.” Korn switched topics. “They’ll be splitting up in the afternoon and won’t be around anyone. We can take them down then.”

Watching Narai interact with his friends, Dew felt a bit queasy at Korn’s statement. “I don't think we should do that. I don’t want to get caught by the professor or anything.”

“Why? Chicken?” Korn teasingly taunted.

“Whoa, are you bullying your friend?” Chang countered instead.

“The hell? Don’t get us off-topic.” Korn shot back. “Discuss the plan first. Or we could catch them this evening.”

“Wait.” Dew interrupted. “My sister is picking me up this evening.”

“Which one?” Mo asked dumbly. He got smacked again. 

“Who do you think?” Dew shot back. “Fai, duh. Rose and Tingting can't drive yet.” 

Dew drew out a frustrated breath. “Let’s just keep following them and keep an eye out for professors and security guards. If we get lucky, we can get him today without someone interrupting again.” Dew confidently said. “Otherwise, we’ll try again later.”

---

“Hey!” A classmate came up to Narai and his friends. “Have you guys turned in your models yet?”

“Done.” Safe and Louis chorused. 

“I’m almost done and Wai probably hasn’t started,” Narai answered, turning to a sheepish Wai. 

“I finished half of it.” Wai offered. Narai groaned. 

His phone buzzed in his pocket. Narai looked up at the classmate that started the conversation, who was focusing on talking to Narai's friends. The classmate hand-signaled Narai to check his phone. 

Narai scanned the message and fought the urge to turn his head and look up where the engineering students supposedly were. Instead, he sent a quick text and nodded at the classmate, who finished the conversation and left. 

"You two go ahead. Wai and I will head to the studio to finish,' Narai told Safe and Louis. “And no fights.”

"Aww, ruining my fun. See you two later." Louis dragged Safe off when he started to blabber about what to eat. Narai watched them walk out of sight. 

Suddenly, he heard paper tearing next to him. Narai looked at Wai's hands and saw a crumpled-up piece of colored paper. Narai looked at the wall next to them and found the remains of a flyer next to a couple of other flyers.

Narai smacked Wai's head and wrestled the torn flyer out of his hands. "Ai'Wai, stop tearing down posters of the wall. See?" Narai pointed at the wall while Wai rubbed his head and pouted. 

"Freshy Day?" Wai asked, pointing at a colored flyer still on the wall. 

"Why? Do you want to join?" Narai asked, uncrumpling the torn flyer. Wai nodded and made grabby hands at the flyer in Narai's hands. 

Narai avoided Wai's hands and looked at the torn flyer, then the similar intact flyer on the wall. He flicked Wai's forehead while he peeled off the remaining torn bits of flyer off the wall.

"Fine. You're not doing this to try to get out of working on your model, are you?" Narai asked Wai. 

"No?" Wai smiled ambiguously. 

Narai pushed Wai's head away and looked at the flyer again. "Ai'kwai Wai, go work. I'll sign up for this." Narai handed back the crumpled paper back to Wai and left to look for the music room. 

Narai left hearing Wai presumably tearing the crumpled flyer into small bits. He didn't notice a grinning Wai skipping away, leaving a trail of torn paper bits behind him. 

---

Narai stopped and turned around. He knew and felt he was being followed, but he didn't find anything suspicious. He turned back, took a few more steps, and stopped. His eyes zeroed on a flash of brown hair with light streaks which graced the head of the figure crouching over the water bottle station. 

Narai snorted and rolled his eyes. Stupid fancy hair engineering 'boss' thinks he can sneak around the architecture turf without any of the other architecture students noticing. He turned back and walked casually to the music room. 

Narai entered the room and looked around at the instruments. Drawn to the electric guitar, he sat on the stool next to it. 

Through the curtains, he saw Dew try to sneak a peek in on the right side of the door. 

On the left side of the curtains, Narai watched a professor? Staff? Approach the music room with relaxed steps. 

Narai heard the blue-shirted person ask the lurking Dew Are you here for the form? through the open door. 

The blue-shirted person entered through the door, encouraging Dew to come in. 

Narai stood up and wai-ed the blue-shirted person. Out of the corner of his eye, Narai noticed that Dew had decided to come into the room.  

“I’m here for the Freshy Day music contest application,” Narai said, turning back to the blue-shirted person. 

The person made an understanding sound as he fixed the microphone. “What faculty are you from?” The person asked. 

“Architecture,” Narai answered. 

“Engineering,” Dew added. Narai shot a short glance at Dew.

“What genre do you play?” The person asked, sitting on a high stool.

“Pop, and any genre that isn’t that complicated to play,” Dew answered. 

“I can play any genre-” Dew shot an incredulous look at Narai. “-but it depends what I want to play at the moment,” Narai answered casually. 

“Ok then. I’ll get you two the application form to fill out.” The person shuffled around in his file cabinet. “Oh?”

He pulled out a sheet of paper. “I only have one form left. Wait here, I’ll go make some copies.” The person assured them. 

Narai and Dew watched the person leave the room, and exchanged eye contact. Narai broke eye contact first and blew out a breath. He stepped back and sat back down on the stool, gently swinging the guitar into his lap. 

Narai felt the strings and frets with his fingers, plucking on occasion. He closed his eyes when he heard Dew banging on the drums, letting his fingers dance across the guitar, plucking out bits of melodic lines and broken chords

Narai tuned out the drum crashes, listening if any footsteps were intent on approaching the music room.

---

A few minutes later, Dew saw Narai stop playing and put the guitar down. Narai opened his eyes, glaring at Dew still smashing around on the drums. Dew played louder in response.  

"Whoa, easy! Calm down!" Dew sheepishly stopped, realizing that the blue-shirted person came back. Dew wai-ed in apology. 

"Sorry. The copier ran out of ink." The person held out the paper. "You guys make a copy for yourselves."

Narai got up from his seat and wai-ed the person before taking the paper. "Thank you," he said and headed out the door. 

Dew put the drumsticks down and got up to follow Narai. 

"Oh, you're leaving too?" The person asked. Dew left, not responding. 

Following Narai dawdling his way to the copy station near the architecture campus, Dew followed several yards away, hands in his pockets. 

Seeing Narai talking to the person manning the station, Dew leaned against the stairs and called Korn. 

"Hey, how's it going?" Dew asked. 

"Bro, we can't find him," Korn responded. 

Dew made an exasperated face. "How? He literally left you a trail of paper bits for you all to follow." 

"Hey! We followed the paper but he pretty much disappeared into thin air. I'm staking out the studio now."

Dew tsk'ed and checked the time. "My sister is coming soon. We should call it off and do it another day."

"Wait. I saw someone go into the studio. I think it's him." 

"Fine. Make sure the place is deserted when you attack." Dew hung up the phone and approached the copy station. He wondered why it was taking Narai a long time to photocopy. 

He tapped Narai's shoulder. "Hey." 

Narai- no, another red-shirted architecture stared back at him. "What?" The architecture student stared at Dew frostily, then left. 

Confused, Dew bent down to the window. "Khun, where did the person with the form go?"

"Huh?" A person with glasses looked over at Dew. "He left a while ago. He left a message though." The person peeled off a sticky note and passed it to Dew. 

---

Narai sighed into the ground. He got up, turned around, and crossed his arms. "What the hell is your problem?" Narai set an annoyed look on his face. "I said talk to me if any architectures stir up trouble, not push me down to get my attention." Korn, Mo, and Chang stared Narai down. 

"You know the problem." Korn retorted. 

Narai raised an eyebrow. "Wai? You got your jacket back and we paid for your drinks. Is that not enough?"

Korn fumed and pointed at Narai. "The drink uncle thinks that we are friends!"

Narai shrugged and took a water bottle out of his pocket, watching the three engineering goons "His words, not mine." 

"You-" Korn sputtered. "-sorry excuse of a wet cat boy who likes going down on married sluts!" Korn shouted. 

Narai shot a strange look at Korn. "What's that supposed to mean?" He took a swig at the water bottle. 

"You sneaky motherfucker." Mo translated. 

Narai did a spit-take, spraying water all over the three engineering students, and broke down laughing.

Korn viciously wiped his face with the sleeve of his jacket. "Get him!" Korn, Chang, and Mo advanced on the still laughing Narai. 

Narai defended himself against the trio, taking hits from the three just as much he was hitting back. He tried to flee from the fight to laugh in private, only to be pulled back into the fight by one of them. Wheezing, he knocked all of them to the ground and took off as fast as he could.

"Don't run!" Korn shouted behind him. Narai giggled and darted around the corner.

Chapter Text

Dew leaned against the wall, looking at the sticky note. Narai had written on the note to meet him in the alley that bisected the engineering and architecture campus. 

Waiting for Narai in the deserted alley, Dew heard steps and shouts approach. Dew peeled off the wall and looked in the direction of the commotion. 

A red-shirted figure veered around the corner and slowed down at the sight of Dew. Dew warily watched a grinning Narai scan the alley. He was caught off guard when Narai grabbed him by the collar and dragged him into a shadowed nook next to them. 

In the shadows, Dew was shoved up against the wall, Narai's palm over his mouth. Dew struggled against Narai to no avail.

Dew stilled in surprise when Narai thunked his head into Dew's throat, silently shaking in laughter. 

Almost like in an intimate embrace. Dew unconsciously shivered. 

Hearing shouts approach, Dew looked over and saw Korn and the others run past the alley they were hidden. Dew raised an eyebrow. I thought they were chasing Wai. His friends rushed away, their voices fading in the distance. The alley was silent except for Narai's near-silent huffs of laughter. 

Dew pushed Narai away by the shoulders. Narai was knocked back to the other side of the nook. He grinned at Dew. Stunned at Narai's happy expression, Dew's irritation faded away. He decided to change tactics in fighting Narai. 

"Aww, that's a cute smile." Dew grinned and crossed his arms. 

Narai's face spasmed and reverted to a neutral and wary expression Dew had seen last time. 

"I guess your friends were waiting for Wai but caught me instead." Narai deflected. He peered out into the alley. “I’m pretty sure I  said to come to me for any problems, not fight me.” 

Dew stepped out into the alley. Seeing Fai's car at the end of the alley, he grabbed Narai and dragged him towards Fai's car. 

Narai struggled in Dew's tight grip. "Shia! What the hell are you doing?!"

Dew jerked Narai closer to the car. "Just get in the car." 

Fai, who had her window rolled down, grinned at Dew. "Who's that? Your boyfriend?" 

"Hell no-"

"Isn't he pretty?"

Narai and Dew spoke at the same time. Narai sent a deadly glare at Dew, who just grinned and shoved Narai in the car. 

In the car, Narai gave up and crossed his arms, slouching in the seat. Looking at Narai, Dew's eyes caught a glint of something near the top of Narai's ear. Distracted, Dew reached a hand to part Narai's hair from the glint. 

Narai batted Dew's hand away and glared at Dew. "Pervert." Narai took off his red jacket. 

"Who's the pervert?" Dew retorted. "You're the one who dragged me in that nook back there." 

"Who dragged me into the car? Who's been stalking me all day with your friends?" Narai shot back, riffling through the jacket pockets.

"How do you know that?" Dew demanded.

"Why the fuck should I tell you that?" Narai scowled and fished something out of a jacket pocket and tossed it at Dew. Dew caught the object and looked down to see the first aid kit that he gave to Narai last time. 

"I folded the music application form inside." Narai leaned forward towards Fai. "P', could you drop me off here?"

"Sure!" Fai slowed the car to a stop at the end of the parking lot they were passing. 

Narai got off the car from his side. Dew quickly shuffled across the seat row and tossed a white shirt at Narai's head. 

Narai clawed the shirt off his head. "What?" he said coldly, holding the shirt in his hand. 

"Change into that. I don't want trouble from your friends from your dirty shirt." Dew got out of the car and closed the door by leaning against the car. "You owe me one." Narai gave a strange look at Dew and turned away. 

"How about a 'thank you,' pretty boy?" Dew called. 

Dew heard Narai growl. "Did I ask for your help, pretty boy pervert?" Narai called back, not pausing to look back. Dew grinned and got back into the car. 

"Shit, it's way too fun to tease him," Dew remarked to Fai. 

"Isn't that the architecture guy that knocked you down?" A voice next to Fai asked. 

"Fuck!" Dew jumped in his seat. "Sek, how long have you been there? And how do you know?!" 

Sek was silent in response. He wiggled his eyebrows at Dew.

---

Walking through a night market street, Narai scowled to himself. Fucking stupid engineering dogs. He thought to himself

The 'growing' rivalry between engineering and architecture faculties felt like herding a bunch of cats - everyone involved had a different opinion on the issue. 

Wai was the catalyst with the middle finger to steal Korn's jacket. The jacket was returned, so that was solved.

For now. Narai had a feeling Wai was going to steal something of Korn's again.

Louis started the fight because he liked fighting - Louis had no grudge against any of the departments, least of all the engineering department. Everyone was fair game for Louis to fight against.

Safe and Narai joined along for the ride. Dew seemed to be neutral, but his friends seemed the type to pick a fight. 

To be granted, he might've stirred the flames of the rivalry by spewing into their faces. Whoops.

"Nong, do you want anything?" 

"Huh?" Narai stopped and glanced over, seeing an old man selling his wares. His eyes fell on an analog watch with a white face and a black leather strap on the table. Drawn to the watch, he picked it up. 

"How much is this?" Narai blurted out, fishing out his wallet.

"350 baht." The old man answered. 

"Oi, it's slightly worn out. It should cost less." Narai haggled. They haggled over the price, agreeing on 300 baht. 

Narai handed over the money and thanked the old man. 

Walking away, he looked at the watch now on his wrist. Oddly enough, wearing the cheap watch felt like something figuratively clicked into place in his heart. 

---

A young boy and a girl were biking along a river on a flattened dirt path. Trees and tall grass scattered along the riverbank.

The duo slowed down. We’re here!” The girl said. She swung her foot over the bike and toed the kickstand into position. 

“You wash the dishes today,” she told the boy. She darted off towards the river while the boy toed his bike kickstand open. 

While the boy was doing that, another boy in a blue shirt on a bike stopped behind the boy. The boy turned around and saw the blue-shirted boy. 

“This is my territory. I got here first.” The boy said in a mean tone.

The blue-shirted boy sighed and looked past the boy. His eyes widened at what he was looking at in the distance.

“Help me!” The girl cried. She was struggling to stay afloat in the water. 

The blue-shirted boy shouted and ran toward the girl in the river. The other boy turned around and froze in fear. 

The blue-shirted splashed into the water and swam towards the thrashing-

Dew’s eyes shot open and he jerked in his seat, breathing heavily. 

“Nice timing. I was going to wake you up,” a voice next to Dew. Dew whipped his head around, staring at Fai with wild eyes

“We’re home if you didn’t know. You ok?” Fai asked. 

Dew took a couple of moments to calm down. “Yeah.” He unbuckled his seatbelt and got off the car. 

Walking to the farmhouse, Sek walked next to Dew. “Was it one of those nightmares again?”

Dew furrowed his eyes, then shook his head. “No. Something different.”

---

Cho came back home the next day and ambushed Dew in the laundry room. “What’s the situation now? I heard you were lurking around the architecture campus yesterday.” Cho said, slinging his arm over Dew’s shoulder. 

“I don’t know. I think my friends tried to fight the wrong guy.” Dew guessed. 

“What do you mean 'tried to?' The ‘wrong guy’ they fought is the first-year architecture class president, you idiot.” Cho squeezed Dew’s shoulders and rubbed his knuckles on Dew’s head. “I know that they started it, but the issue should be solved now.”

“My friends are the ones that don’t want the fight to be over.” Dew protested. “I can at least sort of go along with them to at least try to control them from escalating the situation.”

Cho shook Dew like a doll before letting him go. He crossed his arms. “Why do you have stupid friends? Sometimes I wonder if you all are gangsters or students.” Cho stated rhetorically. 

“Isn’t the secondary purpose of SOTUS is to turn engineering students into gangsters?” Dew countered. Cho swiped a hand at Dew’s head, only for Dew to dodge and dart out of the laundry room. Cho chased after Dew. 

“Ai’sat! Get back here and I’ll show you ‘gangster!’”

Chapter Text

Narai looked at the shirt that Wai gave him. The shirt had "Friend" on one side and "Unfriend" on the other side. 

Narai looked at Wai dubiously. Wai had his shit-eating grin on his face, which meant he stole something. 

"You didn't steal this, did you?" Narai asked, gesturing at the shirt. He held out a hand to Wai. "Receipt." 

"I saw him buy it," Safe answered, scrunching his friend/unfriend shirt into a ball. "From the money he got from working at the bar."

Narai stared at Wai, who offered a crumpled slip of paper to Narai. 

Narai pulled his hand back and sipped his milk tea, still staring at Wai. His eyes flicked down, looking at a vaguely familiar/unfamiliar jacket that Wai was wearing. 

"Did you steal Korn’s jacket again?" Narai guessed. Wai's grin grew wider. 

Narai blew angry bubbles into his milk tea. He reached over the table and flicked Wai’s head. "Damnit Wai, stop messing with the engineering faculty. After class, we're going out."

Safe tilted his head. "For what?"

"Wai is going to buy another new jacket for Korn. Then tomorrow, we're going to return the jacket and offer the new jacket too as a peace offering." Narai answered. Narai turned to Louis, who was still scrutinizing the shirt. 

Narai snapped his fingers in front of Louis. Louis blinked and turned to Narai. "Peace offering-" Narai repeated. "-means no fighting, unless they start it." Louis finished, grinning.  

"And no riling them up." Narai added, elbowing the grinning Louis.

"Ok." Louis looked back at his shirt and put it down. He took off his jacket and stripped off his shirt, revealing a muscular upper body and earning many squeals from the girls nearby. 

Safe, Narai and Wai winced at the girls' high-pitched screams. Louis, unfazed by the noise, picked up the unfriend/friend shirt and put it on. 

Narai smacked Louis's head. "You know that I mean the engineering punks, right? Not the girls." Louis grinned back at Narai and teasingly lifted a corner of a shirt. 

Narai wrestled with Louis, who was now inching the corner of the shirt higher and higher, revealing more skin. 

The squeals started up again, making Wai dive into Safe's lap, cringing at the noise.

---

"Boss!" An engineering student crashed into the table Dew, Korn, Mo, and Chang were sitting at. 

"Don't call me boss," Dew said reflexively. "What?" 

"Some architecture people are looking for you!" The engineering student panted out. 

Korn slammed his hands on the table and stood up. "Those fuckers-"

Dew yanked Korn down by the arm. "Where?" 

"At the border." 

"Fine." Dew squeezed Korn's arm and gave him a look. "We'll see what they want." 

---

Safe, Louis, Wai, and the other architecture students shifted uneasily behind Narai as they saw a blob of blue and white approach. The leader blob, Dew, stopped in front of Narai. Both leaders crossed their arms. 

"What do you want?" Dew asked. 

Narai looked over Dew's shoulder to Korn, Mo, and Chang. "I want to clarify something. As the student president, I take responsibility for any issues that my department creates. So for that, I would like to apologize for my insult." Narai said. "I'm sorry."

"Do you think that 'sorry' can resolve this?" Korn raised a fist, making the other engineering students raise their fists as well and the architecture students tense. Only Dew and Narai remained unruffled, staring at each other. 

Narai raised an eyebrow. "I'm not finished." 

Dew snorted and signaled the engineering side to stand down, much to their reluctance. "You talk too much. Hand him over and nobody gets hurt." 

Narai looked over at Wai, then back at Dew. "Why should I?" 

"Do I really need to spell it out, know-it-all student president ?" Dew drawled out. "I'm not leaving until I get what I want."

Narai shifted his body and stared at Dew. After a few moments, he spoke. "Fine then." 

"Huh?" Dew leaned back a bit in surprise. "What happened to the student president who takes responsibility for his people?" He mocked. 

Narai shrugged. "Ai'Wai can handle himself. And he has something to offer." He looked back at Wai and beckoned him forward. 

Wai passed a paper bag to Narai. Wai then looked at Korn, twisting his body like a shy girl. "I'm sorry for the middle finger and stealing your jackets." 

"Jackets? As in more than one?" Korn asked warningly. 

Narai showed Korn the contents of the bag. 

"I wore that two days ago! Ai'sat, when did you steal that jacket?!" Korn accused, advancing on Wai, who was edging away and grinning maniacally. 

Louis snorted from where he was standing. "What do you think?" He muttered loud enough for Korn to hear. 

Fucking Louis the fight maniac. Narai closed his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh as chaos broke loose around him with Korn's cry of get them!  

Narai felt a whoosh of air, dodging a punch at his face. He opened his eyes just to see Wai tussle/drag Korn away from him. 

Narai looked at Dew, who was still standing in front of Narai. "Whatchu looking at," Narai said flatly. 

Dew grinned. "I would fight you but you're holding that. So that makes the fight unfair." He nodded at the paper bag that contained Korn's stolen jacket. "But to answer your question, I'm looking at your pretty face." Dew leaned over and messed with Narai's hair. “Pretty boy.”

Narai's scarred eye twitched. "I'll show you unfair," he barked. He kicked out a foot towards Dew, who danced out of the way. 

The two exchanged blows. Dew playfully dodged out of Narai's way at first, but he slowly focused his attention on blocking Narai's blows - Narai had quickly found Dew's weak spots and chipped at Dew's defenses (all the while he was switching the bag from hand to hand to punch Dew). 

After a minute, the fire alarm went off. Narai quickly looked over at the triggered fire alarm,  seeing an engineering student rubbing his head under it, and earning a kick to the side courtesy of Dew. 

Everyone scattered. Narai fled, the bag still in hand. 

---

Jogging backward, Dew crashed into a somebody. 

"Shia!" Dew raised a fist and looked forward, seeing Narai in the same defensive position he was. 

Narai put his fists down and scowled. "Why the hell are your friends so trigger-happy?" He scanned the area for anyone else. 

"You say that as if your friends aren't the same." Dew retorted, putting his hands down. He walked over and sat down on the stair ledge. 

Narai sat down next to Dew. "Only one of them is trigger happy. I don't know what's up with Wai." Narai explained, looking over at Dew.

Dew sent a look at Narai. Does it look like I care about Wai's odd behavior? Dew's expression asked.

Narai broke eye contact and passed the bag to Dew. "Here." Dew took the bag and questioningly pulled two jackets out. 

"It was supposed to be a peace offering, but your friend started the fight before I could say the rest," Narai said, pointing at the new jacket. He scanned their surroundings again. "Good-for-nothing engineers spending zero brains to back down," Narai muttered. 

"What did you say?" 

"Nothing good happens when you and your friends are around," Narai told Dew. 

"Hey!" Dew protested. "At least we haven't gotten into trouble."

"Don't jinx it, pretty boy pervert." Narai retorted. Dew shoulder-checked Narai in response. They both scanned their surroundings, pushing at each other by the shoulders. 

"So are we good now?" Narai asked. "You can give your friend the jackets later and hopefully they'll back off." 

"Mhmm." Dew gave a noncommittal hum. "I guess. I call it even." Dew stopped pushing at Narai and held out a fist. 

Narai warily looked at Dew's fist. Just about when Narai was going to bump fists with Dew-

"Stop! This is not over!" Dew and Narai looked at and saw the engineering professor approaching them. 

"You fucking jinx," Narai muttered to Dew as they both stood and wai'd the professor.

---

In the professor’s office, Narai and Dew had their eyes on the floor and awkwardly shifted in their places. The professor had been staring and silent for nearly several minutes. 

"Names?" The professor asked. 

"Yuthakon Omnichakan," Dew answered. Narai quietly snorted. Dew jabbed Narai in the side. 

"Chareon Chuahirun" Narai answered, wincing and rubbing his side. 

The professor's furrowed eyes studied Dew. "I think I know you from somewhere."

"Huh?" Dew looked up, confused. "Of course, we've met before, I'm the engineering student president."

"No." The professor rubbed his head. “Before college. One of my line junior’s son disappeared-” Narai saw Dew stiffen at the word. “-and so did their neighbor’s son as well.” 

“It’s been almost three years,” The professor continued. “But my line junior is looking for both of the boys.” Narai unconsciously grabbed Dew’s wrist. who looked at Narai in surprise. Dew had been on a verge of a panic attack until he felt Narai’s hand wrapped loosely and comfortably around his wrist. 

Narai leaned forward towards the professor. “Professor, why are you telling us about the disappearance?” Narai asked casually. 

“And could you tell us more about it? What disappearance?” Dew asked too.

The professor gave a questioning look at both of them. “How do you not know? It was a big scandal- wait.” The professor shook his head and slammed his hand on his table. “Don’t you two dare distract me from your punishments!” Narai released his grip on Dew and both of them meekly bowed their heads.

“You two are lucky that nobody got hurt, so I won’t report this to the university board.” The professor shook his finger at both of them. “I hope that was the last fight, because the next time you fight again, I’ll ban both faculties from participating in university activities together.” 

Dew and Narai looked at each other, then looked back at the professor.

“We’re not fighting,” Dew spoke.

“We’re resolving our problems,” Narai added.

“Which may or may not have a physical resolution.” Dew grinned.

The professor pinched his nose in exasperation. “I don’t care what you say, but if I catch you fighting, there will be consequences.” He barked. “Get out!”  

---

Louis felt someone drape their arm over his shoulder. He blinked. 

“What did I say about the engineering meatheads?” Narai’s voice growled into his ear. 

“No riling them up.” Louis droned. 

“And what did you do?”

“Rile them up.” Louis grinned. 

Narai harshly rubbed his knuckles onto Louis’s head. “Your fangs are showing,” Narai hissed. 

“Oops.” Louis closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. He felt his sharp teeth retract in his mouth. 

Narai whacked Louis’s head in extra measure. “You need to control your fight maniac energy.”

“Why?” Louis tilted his head.

“What do you mean why? You’ve been lucky so far. We’re going to lose our scholarships if they catch any of us. It's going to happen soon.”

“What do you mean, happen soon?” Safe asked. 

“One of the engineering professors caught me and Dew out earlier. If we fight again, the professor said he won’t let us attend any university event that engineering is in.” 

“So?”

“The engineering professor doesn’t know about our scholarships, but our professor is going to know about the next fight and then will take our scholarship away as punishment.” 

They all deflated. Under no circumstance did they want Pa and Mae to pay for their tuition. 

“If we don’t fight, we can just beat them through the university contests instead.” Narai offered. 

“And for Louis’s fighting problem...”

“It’s not a problem.” Louis protested. 

Narai poked Louis’s head. “At the beginning of the school year, you got into 1-2 fights a week. Now it’s your 2 fights per day quota. Tell me that isn’t a problem.” Narai countered. Louis shrugged.

“Call Uncle Mek and see if there are any underground fighting rings around here or whatever. You can fight there instead of getting into trouble at school,” Narai ordered.

“But-” Louis protested. 

"Call. Your. Damn. Pa. For. Help." Narai growled. 

Chapter Text

Dew walked along the pharmacy aisles, picking out bandages and creams. Once satisfied, he walked up to the counter. 

"Excuse me, I like to purchase these and some painkillers." Dew handed over the basket. "Also, do you guys sell bruise cream?" 

The pharmacist retrieved a packet of painkillers from the shelf and scanned the items. "Sorry, we just sold the last one." He gestured with his head. 

Dew turned around and saw Narai's dark eyes staring back before he left through the door. 

"250 baht." The pharmacist said.

Dew fished out a couple of bills and passed them to the pharmacist. "Thank you." 

Swinging the plastic bag in circles around his wrist, he was interrupted by a voice.  

"Huh?" Dew stopped swinging his bag and turned his head. Dew asked. Narai tossed him something.

Dew looked down at what he caught. "Can I buy this from you?" He asked. 

"Get one yourself. Put it on your face." Narai distractedly, rubbing cream onto the bruise on his shoulder.

"You know this is your fault, right?" Dew asked. "Punching me in such an obvious place that we basically got caught red-handed by the professor." Narai didn't look over. 

Dew sat down on the ledge and scooted next to Narai. Narai looked at Dew warily. 

"Rub it on for me?" Dew purred. He leaned toward Narai, pointing the tube at the bruise on his left cheek. 

Narai snorted. "In your dreams." Dew pouted.  He twisted the cap off and squeezed a dab of cream on his finger.

He leaned towards Narai again and purposefully rubbed the cream under the bruise. "I just want to show you where my bruise is on my face." Dew pointed at his bruised cheek. 

Narai glanced over at Dew with a blank expression, then poked Dew's cheek without looking. 

"Oi!" Dew flinched back and pressed lightly on his own bruised cheek. He rubbed the rest of the cream on. 

Narai looked over. "So what are you going to tell your friends about the professor's warning?" 

"My friends?" Dew turned to Narai. "What about your friends?" 

"I already told them," Narai said flatly. "They won't be starting any more fights." 

"Yeah? Then what's that?" Dew pointed at a bag in front of Narai. "First-aid kit stuff? Are you becoming Nurse Joy to patch up your friends when they fight again?" 

"Really? Then what's that?" Narai pointed at Dew's bag. 

"Refilling my first aid kit, duh. I’ll take this too." Dew held up the bruise cream to Narai. Narai lunged. 

Dew played keep-away with Narai as they wrestled for the bruise cream tube. Narai finally grabbed the tube and quickly scooted away back to his original place on the steps. 

"Do you think our friends will stop fighting?" Dew asked. 

"Why are you asking me? Your friends share one brain cell when it comes to fighting." 

"Hey!" Dew protested. 

"I said your friends. Be grateful that I didn't include you in that." 

Dew grumbled. "It would suck if we got banned though. I wouldn't get a chance to compete against you in the freshy day music contest." Dew said, looking at Narai. A strange look passed over Narai's face.

"Then, should we avoid confronting each other for now?" Narai asked.

"You say that like I know where you are 24/7," Dew answered, confused.

"Take my chat ID." 

"Hah?" 

"That way we can let each other know where we are." Narai pulled out his phone and swiped to his chat QR code. 

Dew pulled out his phone and hovered it over Narai's phone. He paused, then pulled his phone back. 

"What now?" Narai asked flatly. 

"It's like adding you to my friend list." 

Narai tried to think up Dew's line of reasoning "So?"

"I don't want to be your friend-"

"Don't be silly, of course we're not friends-"

"-I want to be your faen ," Dew leered.

Narai's face spasmed, and he smacked his hand (with the phone) to the back of Dew's head. 

"Ow! That hurt!" Dew rubbed the back of his head, missing the slight pink tint adorning Narai's face. 

"Fuck you, I'm leaving." Narai made to get up and was jerked back down by a panicked Dew.

"Wait, no, I'm sorry," Dew said apologetically. He held out his phone. "Add me?" 

"No." Narai snatched his arm back. "Let's just search and add each other's chat IDs at the same time."

"Mhm. Ok then." Dew hummed and nodded. 

"ncc.narai," Narai spelled out for Dew. Dew typed it in, then shifted uneasily. 

"dew.malaiyim" Dew reluctantly said. Narai snorted. "What are you laughing at?"

"You're such a kid," Narai smirked. 

Dew shook his head. I'd like to see you try to say no to Tingting, he thought. TIngting had chosen the name with the ‘encouragement’ of Rose. Smiley zebra, my ass, Dew thought.

"Ready?" Narai asked, finger hovering the add button. "1...2...3" The screens were pressed. 

A few seconds later, a ringtone went off. Dew looked over at Narai, confused why his ringtone didn't go off. 

Narai tucked his phone into his pocket. "Looks like I'm on someone's friend list. Bye." Narai grabbed his bag and quickly walked away. Stunned, Dew stared after Narai's receding figure, then threw a middle finger at his back. 

---

Narai came back to himself sitting in front of his desk holding a worn-out pencil. He stared down at the new drawing his brain decided to sketch out. 

The sketch was a boy's room with posters on the wall, a dark-colored blanket covering the bed, and a lit lamp in the corner of the room. The main piece was two boys around 10 years old. The boy on the left was holding a watch towards the other boy on the right. Under the sketch was a caption of two lines. 

I don't care if you believe me or not. You owe me one. 

Don't talk to me in front of other people, they might think we're buddies. 

Narai frowned. This was the first time he zoned out to sketch something. Before he would wake up with aching muscles at the desk and a mysterious sketch would 'appear' in his sketchpad. 

He turned back a couple of pages, looking over different mysterious sketches. 

A blurred sketch of a person’s face in a shape of a guitar pick.

A line drawing looking out through a window into another person's bedroom in the house across.

A colored penciled drawing of a person drowning in a river. 

And the first one of the two garage cans and pink paint line.

---

“We’d walked so far from campus. Where’s the curry restaurant you talked about yesterday?” Dew asked Korn. Dew, Korn, Chang, and Mo were walking away from campus for a place to eat for lunch.

“Oh, c’mon,” Korn slung an arm over Dew’s shoulder. “We’re almost there. Good things don’t come that easily.”

Korn turned back to Chang and Mo. “I’m telling you, this restaurant is awesome!”

“Is the food good?” Mo asked. 

“The girls are hot!” Korn exclaimed, and then cheered and high-fived Mo. 

“It’s a newly-opened restaurant that’s becoming popular now, so lots of girls come here.” Korn leered. 

Chang smacked Korn. “Ai’sat, it’s a new era already. No more sex object jokes.”

“Ooh, Chang is teaching you a lesson…” Mo sing-songed. Dew grinned faintly while Korn laughed sheepishly, rubbing his head. 

Dew fished out his phone and sent a text to Narai.

D: We’re going to the new curry restaurant for lunch.

A second later, Dew got a text.

N: Ai’kwai, next time let me know sooner. My friends and I are already here. You guys gotta go somewhere else.

D: Why do I have to? You go somewhere else.

N: We’re in the middle of eating and I can see you through the window. Wanna see some proof?

Dew looked over and tried to unobtrusively look into the window with little success. His phone buzzed, and he looked down to see Narai sent a picture of Dew trying to peer into the window.

And a picture of a half-eaten curry chicken rice plate. 

And a picture of Louis feeding Safe a spoonful of food.

And a picture of Wai drinking a glass of milk.

Dew scowled at the additional pictures as his stomach grumbled noisily. 

D: Fine, I get the picture. I’ll go somewhere else.

“Aowh.” Dew looked up. “Who are you texting? A girl?” Korn wiggled his eyebrows. 

“Shut up, I was reading a review about that noodle shop over there.” Dew pointed at the noodle shop further down the road. “They said the girls are even hotter there,” he fibbed.

“Aw, c’mon. I want to eat curry today,” Korn complained

“Curry!” Mo whined. 

“But I want wonton noodle soup,” Dew replied. “C’mon, let’s go there.”

“Yeah…nah.” Korn grinned, then turned towards the curry restaurant, Mo and Chang at his heels.

Dew threw up his hands. “My treat, then.”

“Still nah.” Korn approached the hostess as Dew internally panicked.

“Hi,” Korn smiled charmingly at the hostess, “Is there a table of four?”

The hostess smiled at Korn. “Sorry, there are no more tables available. I can put you on the waitlist though.”

“How long?” Chang asked. 

“45 minutes,” she answered. 

“Wha?” Chang, Mo, and Korn exclaimed at the same time. Behind the trio, Dew sighed in relief. 

Dew pulled the shocked Korn away from the curry restaurant. “You said so yourself, this restaurant is really popular.” Chang and Mo followed after. “C’mon, let’s just eat at the noodle place and come back another day.”

Korn stopped, forcing Dew to stop walking. “Wait, you said your treat earlier.” Seeing Chang and Mo’s grins, Dew frowned, feeling something bad was coming on. 

“You pay, sugar daddy,” Korn smirked. “I’ll order extra.” 

Dew groaned as Mo and Chang cackled.

---

Narai sighed as he zipped himself up. 

There were near misses every few hours - it was like his and Dew’s gangs were on the same wavelength. The library (architecture and engineering shared the library), lunch and/or dinner, different places around campus. And the fact that Dew kept telling him last minute where he and his friends were going.

Narai was about the exit the bathroom stall when he was pushed back in. Narai batted at Dew, who had covered Narai’s mouth to keep Narai silent.

Narai gripped Dew’s wrist and pried Dew’s hand off of his face. “Did you wash your hands?” Narai whispered. 

Dew sniffed at his hand and shrugged. 

A look of disgust flitted across Narai’s face. He made a shooing gesture at Dew. “Get out.” 

“But-”

“Shut up and get out.” Narai pushed Dew towards the door. 

Once he heard Dew and his friends leave. Narai finally exited the bathroom and beelined immediately towards the sinks. 

He washed his hands, and then his face.  Stupid smelly engineering dogs, he thought. 

Chapter Text

“Remind me again why I am going with Louis to place bets on his fights." Safe complained. 

Narai, Wai, Louis, and Safe were hanging out at the bus stop, precariously piled up over three of the four seats. 

Safe was sitting sideways in the third seat rubbing antiseptic on Louis’s forearm while Louis's legs were draped over his legs. 

In the second chair, Louis was sitting sideways facing Safe, eyes half-lidded in exhaustion, as he had won a couple of fights the night before. He was leaning against Wai's back. 

Wai was curled up in both the second seat and Narai's lap, head tucked into Narai's shoulder.

Narai himself was sitting sideways at the end of the seats with one arm tangling the hole-filled hanging plant wall to prevent himself from falling over the edge of the seat. He had the other arm loosely wrapped around Wai and Louis so they wouldn't fall over their seats. 

The seats creaked threateningly as Narai brought his foot up to tuck it under Safe's legs. "Look at my face and yours. Who do you think other people are more gullible to?" 

"Safe the Baby Face." Louis sleepily answered. 

"Hey!" Safe protested. He whacked Louis to no reaction - Louis had fallen asleep. "What about Wai?" The seats creaked again as Wai shifted in Narai's lap.

"Wai has work at the bar, did you forget?" Narai enquired. Safe grumbled. 

---

Dew and his friends were wandering around, approaching the run-down bus stop that was at the edge of campus. 

Dew caught a flash of red through the hole-filled wall and felt a sense of foreboding come upon him, like the times that his and Narai’s gangs almost met. 

“Hey, who’s at the bus stop? It looks like those architecture assholes.” Korn wondered, quickening his steps. Chang and Mo trailed behind Korn while Dew quietly face-palmed himself. I hope it’s not, Dew thought to himself

Dew caught up to his friends, who were in shock standing next to the bus stop. Dew looked over and saw a pile of limbs of architecture students. 

He recognized Narai and his friends napping in a big pile over the seats. This is going to be bad. Dew thought

“Sluts.” Korn remarked loudly. Dew and Chang absently whacked the back of Korn’s head.

“They’re not fucking.” Mo snickered. “How does this-” Chang gestured at the architecture student pile “-equates to sluts?”

“Sluts?” A voice asked sleepily. Dew and his friends turned their heads to see Wai shifting in Narai’s lap. 

“We’re definitely sluts to cuddling.” Wai turned to the newcomers with half-lidded eyes. “Why? Jealous?” He purred at Korn. 

Korn raised a fist. “Hell no!” He reared back when Wai violently sneezed, waking his friends up. 

Narai’s eyes snapped open, and he dislodged his slightly reddish arm from the wall. He turned his body to face the engineering students and while dislodging Wai from his lap. 

Louis, who had been leaning against Wai’s back, slid towards the ground with a sleepy ow and didn’t wake. Safe, who had startled at Wai’s sneeze, rubbed his eyes and dragged Louis’s heavy body back onto the seats. 

“Hey Chang,” Korn slung an arm over Chang’s shoulders. “Can you help me check if this place has a fire alarm?”

“Why?” Chang asked, looking around.

“In case it goes off and some dogs run away like scared puppies again,” Korn replied. Mo, Chang, and Korn hooted and barked tauntingly. 

Narai rolled his eyes and raised an eyebrow at Dew, who put up his arms pleadingly. 

Wai stood up and stretched. “If that’s true, you’re all bark no bite.” He yawned. 

“Hey!” Korn barked, stalking towards Wai. “You wanna get beat up again?” He took off his jacket. “Come on then.”

“Wai!” Narai growled, lunging in front of Wai and catching Wai’s grabby hands reaching towards Korn’s jacket. Narai pushed Wai back while Dew pulled Korn and Chang back. Off to the side, Mo and Safe watched each other with wary curiosity (Mo, of Louis sleeping through the confrontation), and suspicion (Safe, watching Mo if he started anything).

“Stop!” Narai barked. “No fighting!” He stepped forward and crossed his arms. He glared at Korn and Chang, who stopped struggling against Dew and glared back. 

“We can’t fight here, this is neutral ground for Architecture and Engineering,” Narai revealed.

“Our seniors said that Architecture and Engineering students built this place together a few years ago.” Narai tilted his head. “You don’t want to get banned by your seniors, do you?”

Dew slow clapped and made his way between Korn and Chang. “I thought Architecture didn’t know about that story.” Dew stood across Narai. “Now we’re talking.”

“Then, we should leave each other alone,” Narai uncrossed his arms and placed them on his hips, spitting out the last word like an insult. “Engineering.”

Dew pasted a smirk on his face. “Of course,” he leaned forward. “Bar-ki-tecture.” 

Narai growled at Dew, then turned towards Wai, and Safe and Louis still sitting in the bus stop seat. “Let’s go.” Narai helped Safe drag the mostly awake Louis up to his feet. 

As Safe helped Louis walk (with a slight limp) away from Dew’s gang, Narai heard one of Dew’s friends mutter Losers under their breath. Wai tensed up, only to relax when Narai loosely curled his hand behind Wai’s neck. They heard Dew scold his friend with a warning hey .

Once they were far away from the bus stop and the engineering idiot, Narai let go of Wai. “Ai’Wai, I said no starting fights.” Narai scolded. 

“I didn’t start the fight,” Wai replied innocently. “They just happened to be there when I was just trash talking them.” Louis snorted. 

Narai poked at Louis. “Don’t you encourage Wai, ai’sat,” he reprimanded. “That’s one of your excuses.”

Narai turned back to Wai and elbowed him. “Either way, just don’t do anything that starts a fight. And no stealing anything else that’s Korn’s.” Wai sulked and muttered under his breath. 

Narai’s phone buzzed in his pocket. Narai grudgingly pulled it out and unlocked it to the chat. 

D: Was that story true?

N: You’re so gullible 

N: Of course it’s true dumbass 

N: you should know as student president

N: Also look up

D: Aw shit security camera

D: We were almost caught. 

D: Thank you barkchitecture 

N: Fuck off arghgineering

Narai scowled and put his phone back into his pocket. “Actually, if they try to pick a fight, just run them in circles,” Narai told his friends. 

“Yeah right, like that's going to work,” Safe drawled out sarcastically. 

“We can just get over it and fight them,” Louis grumbled. 

“Masochist, much?” Narai retorted, jabbing a finger at Louis’s side where Narai knew there was a nasty bruise. Louis let out a faint hiss. “No need to add more injuries to what you already have and lose our scholarships.” 

---

A knock at the door snapped Narai out of his haze. He looked down and saw a scrawl of notes and lyrics on the paper.

Did I blackout again? Narai wondered. Narai heard another knock at the door. 

He reluctantly got up and opened the door. The person outside thrust a bag towards Narai. 

"Your food delivery order." He said.

Narai took the brown paper bag. “Thank you.” He closed the door and headed back to his table, absently putting the bag to the side. 

He settled down back into his chair and was going to look at his mysterious composition when his phone buzzed. Narai glanced at his phone and unlocked it. 

D: Where are you now?

N: Why do you want to know? I’m not your boyfriend.

Narai re-read the text he sent and cursed himself. A couple of days ago, he had sent a “fuck you” to Dew, and he had responded back with a “Nah, I’d rather fuck you.” He dreaded what Dew would respond back with. 

Narai’s phone buzzed again. Reluctantly, Narai opened the chat. 

D: Well, reporting myself to you 24/7 is another thing I can check off the boyfriend checklist. 

D: Wanna complete the rest of the list with me? We can start with sleeping on the same bed 😁  

Narai sent back a throw-up emoji and slammed his phone back down. He planted his face into the table and groaned. 

Meanwhile, his stomach rumbled in reminder that he hadn’t eaten his dinner yet. 

---

When Narai was almost finished with his dinner, his phone rang. He picked up the call. 

“Hi. Who is this?” Narai asked.

“Hi. I’m the delivery guy that dropped off your food earlier.” The other person said. “I accidentally switched your order with the one from the room opposite to yours.”

“Oh.” Narai looked at the empty salad container. “I thought the salad was free.”

“I’m sorry.” The delivery person said apologetically.

“It’s okay,” Narai assured him. “Thank you for letting me know.”

“Goodbye, then.” The delivery person said.

“Bye.” Narai hung up the phone, then stared at the empty salad container, thinking. 

---

Sorry I ate your salad :( These drinks are my apologies :)

“Such nice handwriting.” Dew grinned down at the note, holding the nice bag of drinks. He closed the door and turned to Cho, who was lounging inside. “I bet the girl across from me has a crush on me.” 

Cho snorted. “You’re delusional. How do you know the person across from you is a girl?” 

Dew showed the note to Cho. “See? Look how nice and neat the handwriting is!” 

Cho chewed on the stick. “And so? Besides, it’s good manners to give something in apology in situations like this.”

Cho thrust out a hand and eyed the drinks Dew was holding. “Gimme one.” 

Dew hugged the drinks to his chest. “No.”

“Fine.” Cho reached over and snatched some of Dew’s dinner. 

“Hey! Don’t take my food!” Dew protested. He took a bottle out of the bag and threw it at Cho. Cho caught the bottle and grinned at Dew. 

“Thanks.” Cho unscrewed the cap and drank a couple of sips. Cho belched at Dew, who reared back in disgust. 

Dew kicked at Cho, who leaned away. 

“You’re going to flirt with whoever’s on the other side of that door.” Cho guessed.

“Wha...? No?” Dew replied sheepishly, scratching his neck.

“Uh-huh.” Cho eyed Dew through his bangs. “What if your neighbor is actually a guy?” Cho asked.

“My neighbor is definitely a girl,” Dew insisted. 

Cho eyed Dew some more, then smirked. “If you say so,” Cho finally said. Karma's is going to be a bitch, Cho thought.

---

Yawning, Narai was about to close the door when his fingers hit something. He closed the door all the way, and took off the intruding object on the doorknob.

He inspected the post-it note attached to the rectangular dumpling box. Thank you <3, the note said. 

Shrugging, Narai clipped the dumpling box to his bag and left, walking down the fucking long-ass hallway to the elevator. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Hungry.” Wai pouted. He reached toward Narai’s almost-empty plate. “I want.” 

Narai batted Wai’s hands away. “No, this is mine.”

Wai reached for Louis’s plate instead. “Already empty,” Louis informed. Wai grabbed Louis’s plate, dislodging the utensils that were on top of the plate. Louis caught the utensils before they clattered onto the table.

They watched Wai bring the plate to his face and lick the sauce off the plate. Narai and Safe cringed and hoped nobody else was looking at their table

“Ai’Wai, don’t do that here.” Narai reached down into his bag and tossed a box in front of Wai. “Put Louis’s plate down. You can eat this instead.”

The box landed with a thump, making Wai stop licking and look at the box. Narai reached over and removed the plate from the distracted Wai’s hands and handed it back to Louis. Louis absently set the plate down back in front of him while looking over at the box. 

“What’s this?” Safe asked, plucking the note from the box. “Thank you, with a heart at the end?” 

Narai shrugged. “It’s just a thank you. The delivery man mixed up the orders so I gave my neighbor drinks for eating his salad.” 

“The heart means that you’re being hit on,” Wai said. He tilted his head. “Is it still ok to eat these?”

“It’s just food to say thank you.” Narai insisted. “You can eat it.” 

“It’s not just some thank you food.” Louis leaned towards Narai.

“What is it then?” Safe asked.

“You’re being called ‘dumpling.’” Louis crowed and made a dumpling shape with his fingers. Safe and Wai made ooh noises at the cheesy line. 

“Ha, ha, ha. Flirting my ass.” Narai flatly responded. “Don’t you see the male particle?”

“So what?” Safe asked. “It’s no different from when we were in high school.” He turned to Louis. “What were they again?”

Safe struck a sexy pose. “Your last name means unknown. Can I get to un-unknown you instead?” 

Louis hugged himself and batted his eyes prettily at Narai. “You’re so cold. Could I warm you up?” He crooned. 

Safe leaned his head onto his hand, covering one eye with his palm. “I don’t care what wrecked your eye. Can you wreck me instead? Daddy?” 

Narai snatched the dumpling box and threw it at Safe. Wai pouted while Safe caught the empty box and zeroed in on Narai’s face. 

“Blushing now, are you?” Safe beamed. 

“You like him, don’t you?” Wai cooed, snatching the empty box and waving it into Narai’s face. 

Narai scowled and looked around warily hoping that no one was watching or listening. He caught sight of Dew laughing, a huge beaming smile on his face at one of the tables outside. Narai felt his face heat up before he controlled himself. Narai tore his eyes away from the frustrating engineering student and turned back to his friends. 

“Shut up. Like your person’s pickup line was any better,” Narai nodded at Safe. “Mr. ‘Can I bury myself in your Safe space.’”

Narai bent down, grinning into the last spoonfuls on his plate while Safe spluttered. 

Narai finished chewing and stood up. “I’m done. C’mon, let’s get back to work.”

---

“What’s got you in such a good mood?” Chang asked Dew. 

“My dorm neighbor has a crush on me.”

“Oh really?” Chang asked. “Have you seen her in person?”

“No,” Dew answered unapologetically. 

“Oh-hoh.” Chang hooted. “You want to talk to her but you’re too chicken to talk to her in person.”

“Hey!” Dew protested.

“You want to hit on her, but does she want this,” Chang questioned, gesturing at Dew’s body.

“Ooh burn…” Mo teased.  

“I have to be more charismatic than this-” Dew gestured at himself. “-so I can win her over.

“Oh, really?” Chang leaned forward. 

“Do you know how hard it is to look this hot?” Dew asked rhetorically. His friends shook their heads. 

“What’s the secret?” Chang asked. Mo and Korn leaned forward to listen to what Dew was going to say. 

Dew laughed. “Fools. I’m just naturally this hot.” 

Mo, Chang, and Korn groaned. Dew caught a flicker of red, as he watched Narai and his friends walk out. 

Dew searched around the table for a distraction. His eyes landed on the menus. 

“Hey, guys.” Dew grabbed the menu and propped it up against the wall. “I have a new idea for the song.”

He pointed at the pictures and dishes on the menu.

“Look. Chicken curry, pork curry, shrimp curry, mixed curry, sausage curry.” Dew said loudly. “We could write a song out of food.”

Dew flicked his eyes up at Narai’s group, who was looking back at him. Narai was shaking his head and face-palming himself while his friends were pantomiming. Louis was eating an imaginary plate, Safe was singing into an imaginary microphone, and Wai was just sticking his tongue out. 

Shit, Dew thought, that was too loud.

Dew watched Narai quickly drag his friends away as he heard Korn agree to his ridiculous idea. 

“You’re your mom’s best recipe,” Korn sighed out. He turned and sobbed into Chang’s shoulder.

“What the fuck?” Mo asked, nonplussed.

“What’s wrong with you?” Chang rubbed Korn’s shoulder. 

“Hey, knock some sense into his head.” Mo nudged Dew. 

Dew tsk’d and shifted his gaze back to his friends, closing the menu. He whacked the menu onto Korn’s head. 

---

“Damnit, stop teasing me already.” Narai snapped. “Would you like it if I was teasing you for being hit on?”

“Special case.” Safe answered.

“You’re the first one of us to get hit on in college.” Louis added. 

Narai huffed and sped up. He stopped in front of his door. 

There was another box hooked onto the doorknob. Narai unhooked it and read the note attached to the box. 

Don’t forget to have some desserts-

“Hey!” Before Narai could finish reading the note, Wai snatched the box away from Narai. 

Safe snatched the box from Wai. “ Don’t forget to have some desserts after your meal .” Safe recited the note, leering at Narai. Narai rolled his eyes and unlocked his door, entering his room and collapsing on the couch. 

“Aowh? There’s more writing on the back.” Safe remarked, entering Narai’s room with Wai and Louis. They sat around Narai with Wai curling up in Narai’s lap, grinning up at Narai. 

I heard the moon is going to be so beautiful tomorrow night. 

Come see it with me if you want to.

I’ll be waiting for you on the rooftop at 9. ” Safe read out aloud. 

“Shiaaa, The game is on!” Safe grinned at Narai. “Hey, what are you doing?”

Narai looked up from his phone. “Looking through dorm floor groupchat to see who he could be.”

Safe leaned forward and pointed at Narai. “You said you didn’t care who it was.”

“If this happened to you, wouldn’t you want to try to find out?” Narai retorted. 

“Yeah, that’s true.” Safe muttered, leaned back in his chair.

Louis leaned forward towards Narai. “Or maybe the person is a girl, and she’s using the male particle to test you.”

Narai sent a strange look at Louis. “Why are you making this so complicated? It’s not a conspiracy theory.” 

Narai paused. “Is he going to think I like him if I show up?” Narai asked. 

“Duh. But if you don’t like him, you have to go anyway.” Wai answered.

Narai looked down at Wai. “What do you mean?”

Wai looked up at Narai. “If you don’t like him, tell him in person, and end it right there.”

“Unless…” Wai wriggled up Narai’s torso to side-hug Narai. “...you’re starting to fall for his sweet words,” he crooned. 

Louis, Safe, and Wai swayed, teasing Narai with calls of s weetie . Safe held up the sweet box and moved it side to side in sync with his swaying.

Narai sighed, and snatched the box from Safe. Safe startled and grinned. 

“He’s being possessive now.” Safe chortled.

“Possessive, my ass,” Narai flatly said.

“He wants it all for himself.” Louis teased. 

Narai tossed the box back to Safe. “Shut up and eat.”

Safe opened the box and let Wai and Louis take one. “Are you sure?” Safe asked. “I’m going to eat it now.”

Narai rolled his eyes and tilted his head back against the couch, looking at the ceiling. He could hear Wai, Safe, and Louis making exaggerated chewing noises. 

“It’s extra sweet.” Narai could hear the smirk in Safe’s voice. “I’m not sure it’s because of the sugar, or the love.” 

Narai face-palmed himself. He listened to Safe making airplane noises, presumably delivering the orange-yellow chewy sweet into Wai’s mouth. 

Instead, Narai heard a 'boop' and something touched his nose. 

"Hey- mmphf!" Narai flailed. He glared Safe, his mouth full of Thong Yod, courtesy of said friend.

"Sweets for a sweet boy." Safe cooed. Narai's eye twitched, slowly grinding his teeth into the sugary chewy sweet as Safe, Louis, and Wai continued to tease him.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stopping halfway up the stairs to the roof, Narai frowned down at his phone, looking at a particular name in the list of people that were in the floor groupchat. 

Yuthakon Omnichakan

Narai tilted his head in thought. Why did that name sound familiar? He absently resumed walking up the stairs, pushing open the door. 

Looking up from his phone and scanning the roof, his eyes caught a striped-hair person leaning casually against the railing. Narai froze in the realization of who Yuthakon Omnichakan was.

In the professor’s office, Narai and Dew had their eyes on the floor and awkwardly shifted in their places. The professor had been staring and silent for nearly several minutes. 

"Names?" The professor asked. 

"Yuthakon Omnichakan," Dew answered. 

“Hey, you!” Narai snapped out of his daze. Dew had approached him, pointing at him. “You live here?” Dew asked incredulously. 

“Yeah.” Narai grunted. “This is my dorm.”

“Then why are you here?” Dew interrogated.

“Why can’t I?” Narai retorted. “It’s not like you own the entire building.” 

Narai discreetly scanned the rest of the rooftop. “Even if we avoid each other I still see your fucking face every day..” Narai grumbed.

“What did you say?”

“Was there anyone here before you?” Narai turned to Dew. 

“No.” Dew crossed his arm. “I was doing fine until you came up here.” 

Dew took a few steps closer to Narai, who took a step back. “Now you’re here, I feel so much better.” Dew grinned salaciously. “Ow!”

Narai kicked Dew’s ankle and huffed away towards the plant side of the roof. “I will kick you in the balls one of these days, you pervert.” Narai called back to Dew. 

Narai watched the roof door open as a girl that lived a couple of doors from him walked onto the roof.

“Um.” Dew cleared his throat. “The moon is beautiful tonight.”

The girl stopped and eyed Dew strangely while Narai turned over his phone to look at the note. “Yes?” She asked. 

“Are you the girl that lives in room 439?” Dew fidgeted. Fuck. Narai thought.  

“No I’m not,” she replied. “I live a couple of doors over.” 

She walked past Dew. “Hi, honey. Nothing happened, he mistook me for someone else.”

Serves him right. Thinking that I’m a girl and hitting on someone that’s already in a relationship. Narai thought. He snickered.

Dew turned to Narai. “Whatchu laughing at?” 

Narai opened his mouth, then closed it. “Nothing.” Narai finally said. 

Dew huffed and looked away. 

Should I tell him? Narai thought. He thought back to Wai’s comments.

‘If you don’t like him, tell him in person, and end it right there.’

Narai took a deep breath and mentally braced himself.

“Hey.” Dew looked over. “Do I look like a girl to you?” Narai asked.

“What-”

“The ‘girl’ you’re looking for is me.” Narai peeled off the sticky note from his phone and held it up to Dew. Dew gaped.

Narai watched Dew open and close his mouth like a fish before muttering something about Cho under his breath. 

Narai offered the note back to Dew. After a few moments, Dew approached Narai and snatched back the note. He leaned his back against the railing next to Narai. 

“My love story with the Green Tea Girl is ruined,” Dew uttered despondently. 

“A sexist and a pervert,” Narai drawled sarcastically. “Hooray.”

“Fuck you.” Dew retorted.

“Exactly my point,” Narai answered. Dew rolled his eyes, then looked at the note.

“Should have realized that the handwriting looked familiar.” Dew examined the note. He turned to Narai. “So what now? Do you still want to see the moon with me?”

“You’re on your own for that,” Narai replied, looking up into the dark sky. He made no move to move away from Dew. 

After a few moments, Narai turned his head and cheekily grinned at Dew. “Thank you so much for the dumplings, Mr. Dumpling.” 

Dew grinned back. “You’re welcome. Your green tea drinks were very nice too.” 

Narai dropped his grin. “Ai’sat, you’re not that special. My friends ate your gifts.”

“Hey!” Dew crumpled up the note and threw it at Narai. “My brother took one of the drinks. So I guess you’re not special either.”

Narai snorted and tossed the note at Dew’s head. Dew dodged, making the note fall to the ground.

“So,” Dew scooted closer to Narai and wrapped a hand around Narai’s hip. Narai froze at the engineering student’s intimate proximity.

“Why are you still here?” Dew bent down, his lips next to Narai’s ear. “Do you want a special gift, Mr. Narai?” Dew said huskily. 

Narai shivered at Dew’s seductive tone and made a face.

“Remember what I said earlier?” Narai crooned back, not looking at Dew. 

Dew was caught off guard by Narai’s comeback when pain emanated from that location. Narai had punched him in the balls.

“Sexist pervert,” Narai smirked. “Next time I will kick you in the balls.” Narai walked away towards the roof door. Dew whined in pain, sliding towards the ground, clutching the place between his legs.

---

“They’re all empty.” Chang slurred. 

Korn belched and leaned back into his seat. “Are you going to tell us what happened?"

Dew muttered into his almost empty glass of beer. 

“Is this about the girl across the hall?” Mo asked. Dew flinched and reflexively closed his legs together.

Mo peered over to look down at Dew’s closed legs. “Damn, that’s a harsh rejection. Looks like Dew wants to get wasted.”

“More drinks.” Chang flailed his arms. 

Korn looked over into the shadows of the bar. “Hey. I think there’s someone that can cheer our friend up.” 

“Who?” Mo and Chang asked.

Korn pointed. “Look over there.” Dew looked over to see Wai bickering with one of the bar girls in the back of the bar, with something sticking out of the top of his head. 

“Hey.” Chang squinted at Korn. “Are you going to bully him?”

“Are you going to stop him?” Mo asked. 

Chang turned his head to Mo. “No.” Chang grinned. “I got noooo complaints.” Korn cheered with Mo and Chang, and they high-fived. “Wait until that guy gets here.”

Korn pointed at Dew, who was smiling at Wai. “You’re smiling now.” Dew looked back at his friends and shook his head. Not for the reasons that you’re thinking. Dew thought. He chugged the rest of his beer. 

“He’s coming now,” Korn muttered. 

Wai approached the table. His lower face was now obscured in a black mask, matching the black cat ears headband.

Wai placed the tray on the table. “Four beers for you.” He placed the full glasses among the empty ones on the table. 

“Thank you, nong Wai.” Korn tittered. Wai lifted his head, his oddly intense and dark eyes shifted to Korn. 

“Can you show us a smile?” Mo inquired sweetly. “People say that ‘a smile is always better than a grumpy face.’ Or no face at all.” Dew’s friends made mocking noises, trying to rile Wai up.

Wai took off the mask, stunning Dew’s friends into silence. Dew merely smiled at Wai and his cute cat-boy appearance. 

Someone had put makeup on Wai’s face, sharpening his eyes with thick eyeliner, making Wai’s stares more intense. Dark marks streaked across Wai’s cheekbones, in the shape of delicate cat whiskers. 

Wai’s eyes crinkled, looking cutely and mischievously at Korn. 

“Do you need anything else?” Wai asked.

Korn snapped out of his daze. “Can we have more ice?” Korn grabbed the ice bucket and handed it to Mo, who handed it to Wai. 

Or ‘tried’ to. Mo’s grip slipped, but Wai’s hand shot out, catching the bucket before it could hit the floor. 

“Oops, sorry.” Mo mocked, holding up his hands. “Slippery hands.”

Wai put on a teary expression and offered Mo some napkins from the pocket of his uniform.

Dew’s friends fell silent in confusion of Wai’s actions. After a few moments, Wai separated a napkin and rubbed it on Mo’s hands which were still in the air. Mo jerked away. “What are you doing?”

Wai tilted his head. “Drying your hands?" Wai set the napkins in front of Mo and picked up a tray. “I’ll get more ice.”

Wai turned to leave. In another attempt to try to rile Wai up, Mo stuck a leg out to trip Wai, but Wai caught himself before he could fall. He turned back to the table. 

“Do you need anything else?” Wai asked, raising an eyebrow. There was a sound of a camera click. Wai turned to Chang, who had his phone up. 

“I want picture cat.” Chang gibbered. 

“Cat boy…” Korn mocked. Wai put the tray down again and stuck his tongue out at the camera, putting a hand up to make a peace sign. There were several more clicks as Chang drunkenly pressed the shutter button on his phone. 

The phone fell as Chang slumped over the table. Dew caught the phone before it could splash into Chang’s glass. 

Wai stopped posing, pawed a ‘roawr’ with his hand at the leering Korn, and left. He ignored Korn’s taunts, swaying his hips and jostling the cat tail attached to the back of his uniform. 

---

Wai climbed higher towards to Narai, Louis, and Safe. The biggest tree on campus (which was within architecture territory) was one of their favorite spots on campus to eat breakfast because the leaves muffled the noise from below. As Wai got closer, Narai noticed Wai's lower face was masked. 

“What happened to your beautiful face?” Safe teased.

“It won’t come off.” Wai pouted. “See?” Wai took off the mask he was wearing and licked his hand, then rubbed his hand onto his blackened face.

“Hoi.” Narai set his breakfast down and climbed towards Wai, pulling Wai’s hand away from his face. “Don’t do that.” Narai pulled out a handkerchief and poured some water on it. 

“Shia, no wonder why you’re wearing the mask. Why is your face like that?” Safe asked. 

“She thought it would be cute.” Wai pouted and crossed his arms. “I’m not cute.” Narai gently rubbed at Wai’s face.

“Sure you are.” Safe drawled. He took another bite into his half-bitten sausage. “Who’s ‘she?’”

“One of the bar girls at work,” Wai answered. “Boss laughed and called me a marketing experiment.” Safe snorted. 

“Why won’t this shit come off,” Narai muttered. “Rubbing water only makes it worse.” 

Narai stopped rubbing and put the handkerchief away in his pocket. “Put the mask back on after you eat your food. We’ll stop by a store and buy makeup remover to get it off your face.”

Louis looked up from his phone, looking at Wai. “Well, if you were a ‘marketing experiment,’” it went pretty well,” Louis said, holding out his phone. A picture of Wai with the cat whiskers makeup and black cats ears, and the caption 'cat boi' appeared on the screen. “Your picture has been blowing up the school page.” 

Safe looked, and cooed. “Awww, such a cute Wai.” Wai narrowed his eyes at Safe.

“Did you send it to P’Mae?” Narai asked Louis. 

“Yeah,” Louis said. He took the phone back and swiped it a couple of times. “This is what she said.” 

Louis tapped a button, and a high-pitched scream came out of the phone’s speakers. Narai and Safe startled, nearly falling off the tree. Wai jumped and landed on a branch far away from Louis. They covered his ears. Louis grinned. 

 

Chapter Text

“Why are there so many different makeup removers?” Narai complained. “Safe, Louis, help me.” 

It was silent in the aisle. Narai looked around and found the aisle deserted. His eyes met Louis, Safe, and Wai huddled at the end of the aisle. 

“Ai’sats, don’t leave me here.” Narai hissed, throwing a middle finger at the trio, narrowing his eyes. They stuck out their tongues and scrambled around the corner. 

Narai took a deep breath and growled in frustration. He looked back at the section of makeup remover, squinting at the labels.

Some girls’ voices approached the makeup aisle. Narai stiffened and ducked his head down. 

Footsteps approached Narai and stopped. Narai’s nose twitched at the faint sweet earth-like scent the person had.

Someone tapped his shoulder. Narai reluctantly straightened up and looked at the girl. 

“Yes?” Narai asked cautiously, looking at the tan-skinned girl that had tapped his shoulder. A paint-streaked girl stood behind the tan-skinned girl, chewing on something. 

“Whoa, scary.” Narai was caught off guard at the tan-skinned girl’s blunt comment, then he remembered his scar bisecting his left eye “What are you looking for?” The girl asked. 

“Um.” Narai scratched his head and looked back at the section of make-up. “Makeup remover. I don’t know what to choose from.”

The girl leaned closer to Narai and plucked a bottle off the shelf. “This one works the best.” She handed the bottle to Narai.

Narai cautiously took the container “Thank you-”

“Is that real?” The girl blurted out.

The paint-streaked girl smacked the younger girl on the shoulder. “Rose!” She scolded. 

“You mean…?” Narai pointed at his scarred eye. Rose nodded.

“It’s real,” Narai answered with a questioning tone. 

“Oh, cool.” Rose grinned. “You know, you can use makeup to cover that if you don’t people staring at it.” 

“Rose!” The paint-streaked girl hissed.

“You can also use makeup to cover bruises like the bruises when you get into a fight and hickeys-hmmfph!” Rose struggled against the paint-streaked girl’s hand over her mouth. The paint-streaked girl looked up at Narai. 

“Sorry for my sister, she can be really blunt. We’ll leave you be.” The paint-streaked girl smiled apologetically at Narai and dragged the struggling Rose away. 

Narai watched the duo head down the aisle and round the corner-

“Ow! Rose! Don’t bite me!”

“Aw, P’Fai, didn’t you see how sexy that scar was?” Narai’s eye twitched.

“Shut up.”

---

D: I’m having my friends over at my place. 

“I’m hungry,” Chang whined.

“There’s snacks in my room,” Dew answered. He pressed the send button and tucked his phone away. 

“I want to eat something at that curry place. It’s soooo good.” Chang complained.

“Bro.” Mo slung an arm over Chang’s shoulder. “We’re that close to Dew’s place.” He pointed down the hall. “We can go tomorrow.”

“But since we’re here,” Korn grinned deviously. “I want to check out that girl across the hall who rejected Dew.” Korn, Mo, and Chang jeered at Dew and quickened their pace.

“Hey, whoa!” Dew stopped his friends. “I don’t want to bother her.”

“See, guys.” Korn pointed at Dew. “Such a chicken!” Korn laughed and ran towards the end of the hall.

“Hey!” Dew checked his phone - no message from Narai. Dew put his phone away and ran after his friends, who were banging on Narai’s door.

“What the hell are you guys doing?” 

“See if we can land her instead,” Korn smirked. 

“Aw hell no.” Dew tried to drag them from the door. “Guys stop being idiots. Chang, didn’t you say you’re hungry?” 

They ignored Dew and continued to knock and call through Narai’s door. 

“If you keep this up, she’s going to kick you all in the balls. Or worse, call the police.” 

At that statement, Dew finally peeled his friends from the door. He unlocked his door and shoved them into his room.

---

Narai checked his phone and found a message from Dew. He tapped on the notification, briefly scanning the message before putting it into his pocket.

“So,” Safe turned and walked backward in front of Narai. “How was last night’s midnight rendezvous?” Safe wriggled his eyebrows.

“Yeah, didn’t you meet him already?” Wai asked.

“How was he?”

“Was he as hot as I am?” Louis preened, striking a pose as he walked next to Narai. Safe grinned and sent a thumbs-up at Louis. 

“Shut up.” Narai scowled.

“Aowh, you’re blushing.” Wai stuck his masked face in front of Narai. Narai pushed Wai’s face away. “Ow.”

“If you won’t tell us, we’ll ask him.” Louis casually commented, speeding up. 

“Hoi!” Narai pulled Louis back. “Fine, I’ll tell you all. But promise not to bother him.” 

“Oooh, possessive-” Narai kicked Safe. 

“Possessive my ass.” Narai deadpanned. “You’ll see why. C’mon, let get into my room and get rid of the stuff off of Wai’s face.” Narai speed up and unlocked his door. 

Wai, Safe, and Louis stopped outside of Narai’s door and looked over at Dew’s door. They could hear muffled voices behind said door. 

They took a tiny step towards the wrong door, shit-eating grins on their faces. Narai let out a frustrated sigh and aggressively herded his friends towards the right door. 

---

“Finally!” Chang stretched. “That took so fucking long.”

“Clean up your trash.” Dew pointed at the large pile of snack wrappers next to Chang.

“Heh,” Chang grinned sheepishly. “I did say I was hungry." He gathered up the wrappers and dumped them into the trash can as Korn and Mo gathered their things. 

“Well, now we’re done.” Korn leered. “Let’s go see if that girl is in.” Korn, Chang, and Mo raced towards the door.

“Hey!” Dew panicked. “Fuck.” He muttered. He got up and rushed towards the door. 

"Guys!" Dew pushed his friends off of Narai's door. "Stop, he's a guy!" 

"Huh?" Korn, Chang, and Mo stopped knocking on the door turned to Dew. 

"My neighbor is a guy. Got it?" Dew repeated. “Are we done?”

“Are you sure he wasn’t a girl? Because no guy will kick another guy’s balls-”

Chang smacked Korn’s head. “Stop being toxic. We don’t harp on your ponytail, do we?”

“Uh…no?” Korn replied. 

The door creaked open slightly. Dew whipped his head to see who opened the door and froze. So did Korn, Chang, and Mo. Shit , Dew thought.

Wai yawned sleepily, stretching his pale white arms up towards the doorframe. 

The foursome looked slowly down Wai’s naked body, closer to the groin area-

Wai let out a sneeze, leaning towards Korn. 

“Thank.” He sleepily said. Then, the door slammed in their faces. They stood frozen in confusion of what happened. 

"What the fuck." Korn voiced all of their thoughts running through their mind. 

There was a muffled bang and a scuffle behind the door. The door opened for a brief second but slammed closed again too fast for the foursome to try to peek inside the room. 

Korn flailed before yanking the jacket off his head. “What the hell. Did that asshole just steal my jacket the third time?” He asked out loud incredulously.

"Well, at least you got it back right away." Dew placated. 

“They say that once is chance, twice is a coincidence, and the third time is a pattern.” Mo quoted. 

Korn looked at the closed door, and lunged at it. “You little shit-” 

“Hey!” Dew pulled Korn back.

Korn whipped his head towards Dew. “Was it him that-”

“No,” Dew said firmly. “He doesn’t live there, it’s someone else. Deal with that idiot later. Just stop being nosy.”

“Yeah!” Chang whacked Korn’s head again. “Respect other people’s privacy!” He scolded. “Would you like it if someone tried breaking down your door?”

“Yeah, you ai’sat,” Mo added.

“Aowh, but you did that too.” Korn protested. 

“Yeah, but you started it.” Mo squabbled.

Dew rolled his eyes at his bickering friends and herded them down the hall. “C’mon, let’s see if we can nab a table at the curry place.” Chang cheered.

They walked towards the elevator. “By the way ai’Korn, why do you keep trying to get close to that asshole other than to fight him?” Dew asked, pressing the button to go down. “Aren’t you worried he’s going to steal your jacket again?”

“Or,” Dew added over Korn’s answers, wiggling his eyebrows. “Do you have a kink for jacket-stealing little shits?” 

“Ai'sat, I’ll show you 'little shit.'” Korn angrily chased the cackling Dew around the corner. “Get back here you motherfucker!”

They banged downstairs. Mo and Chang looked at the elevator which had dinged open, and out into the hallway, torn by whether to go down by elevator or stairs. 

They nodded at each other, then raced towards the stairs, chasing after Korn and Dew. 

---

“What the hell, you fucking jacket kleptomaniac,” Narai cursed exasperatedly. "Put your clothes back on. Safe.” Safe threw Wai’s clothes at the grinning and naked Wai.

“Argh." Narai ran a hand through his hair. "Now those idiots are going to think that this is your room and harass my door." 

Narai paced his room. "Maybe I should find another place to live." 

“Moving out is kind of extreme. Why would you want to move out of this place?” Safe crashed onto the couch. “Unlike our dorms, you have an extra room as the bedroom.”

Wai poked his head and arms out of his shirt and clung onto Narai’s back. “If it gets too much, you can crash my place to sleep.” He purred.

“Blergh.” Narai tried to pry Wai off (Wai hadn’t put on his boxers and pants yet). “Finish dressing, you clingy little shit.”

Louis, wrapped in a blanket, appeared in the said extra room doorway and leaned against the frame. “Don’t move out, I want to see what happens.” He yawned. 

“See what happen?” Narai asked confusedly.

“See if he keeps hitting on you.” Louis teased. 

Narai’s face flamed red as his friends needled Narai. “Fuck you all. I shouldn’t have told you all about it, even if you all swore by our holy cat ancestor Sinh.”

Safe stuck out his tongue childishly. Narai growled and dragged himself towards the couch.

With the half-dressed Wai still on his back, Narai grabbed a couch pillow and proceeded to beat Safe with it.

 

 

Chapter Text

Dew: My friends left.

Leaning against his door, Dew pressed the send button. A few seconds later, the new message appeared in the chat.

Narai: What do you want

Dew: I think we should talk

Narai: We are talking

Dew snorted and typed back.

Dew: I mean face to face

Dew: I’m out in the hallway

The door opposite Dew’s opened slightly. A ruffled and irritated Narai jammed his head in the crack. 

“What-” 

Narai’s face disappeared, yanked by some invisible force into his room. There were sounds of a scuffle before the door opened again and Narai stumbled out towards Dew. Caught off guard, Dew caught Narai in his chest. 

Safe, Louis and Wai appeared at the door, making faces at Dew. Safe and Louis had their phones out. Wai sent a thumbs up at Dew and slammed Narai’s door shut. 

Hearing the door shut, Narai untangled himself from Dew and lunged at his door. “Ai’sat’s, don't lock me out!” Narai tried the door handle, only to find it locked. He slammed his fist into the door. 

A hand caught Narai’s fist and dragged him away from the door. “Hey!” Narai struggled in Dew’s grip. 

Dew opened his own door and dragged Narai into the room, caging Narai against the door. Narai glared up at Dew. 

“What’s your problem?” Narai glared.

“You told your friends?” Dew demanded.

Narai rolled his eyes. “Yes I did. Why are you up and arms about it? I’m pretty sure we agreed to keep them away from each other.”

“Which means not to tell them anything.” Dew snapped. 

“They can keep it secret like we are, and keep their hands to themselves.” Narai shot back. Dew slammed Narai into the door and jerked his head beyond the door. 

“Mostly, then.” Narai added cockily.

Dew rumbled threateningly. “What the hell is wrong with you and your friends?”

Narai snorted. “At least they’re not idiots that try to knock down strangers’ doors.”  

“Fuck you.” Dew cursed. He shoved Narai into the door and paced away from the door.

“My life was just fine until you animals barged into my and my friends’ lives.” 

“Are you saying that we’re bad luck?” Narai accused.

Dew whirled around. “When did I say that?”

“You said we were the cause of your frustrations.”

“At no point did the word ‘frustrations’ come out of my mouth.” Dew gestured at his mouth.

“You said your life was fine on your own.” Narai articulated. 

“Yes, I said my life was ‘fine.’ I didn’t say ‘frustrations.’ Dew argued.

“But you meant it.” Narai accused. 

Narai found himself once again pinned against the door. “Are you trying to start a fight?” Dew snarled. 

Narai lifted his chin and glared back. “If you’re that uncomfortable with me and my friends, I’ll move out.” He spat out. 

They glared at each other, the tension in the room rising sharply. Before they could do anything, they were suddenly squished up against the wall next to the door. 

“Why is the door so heavy to open.” Someone muttered. “Ta-da! Surprise!” A girl’s voice cheered. “Where is my beloved stripe-y brother- oh!” 

Dew growled under his breath and thunked his head back against the wall. Narai spasmed and pushed Dew off and turned his head to glare at the intruder. 

The intruder - Rose - gasped. “Shia! Maybe we should come back later so you guys can finish having sex!” 

“We're not-! Rose!" Dew protested. 

Narai’s face flamed red both in anger and mortification. “You!” He pointed at the girl. 

Rose looked at Narai and brightened. “Oh! Sexy guy that was buying make-up remover!” Narai’s face turned redder. Dew turned to Narai questioningly.

A paint-streaked girl - Fai -  entered the door and kicked Rose.  "Rose! Don't be rude!" 

And a foriegn-looking older male entered the room, curiously looking between Dew and Narai. “Is anything happening here?” He asked.

Narai ran a hand through his hand and pulled at his rumpled shirt. “No. I'll leave you all be." He turned to Dew. “I’ll move out.” Narai wai'd the older male and squeezed out through the door.  

“Hey-” Dew protested weakly. He watched Narai knock on his door, which opened. The door slammed shut. 

---

“So.” Safe wiggled his eyebrows at Narai’s red face. “How was rendezvous #2- ?” Narai shoved Safe’s face away.

“I’m moving out.” Narai announced, ignoring the pang in his heart. 

Narai ignored Wai, Safe, and Louis’s protests and beelined immediately to his bedroom. Not caring that his clothes were dirty, he threw himself on the bed, shoved his head under the pillow and screamed into the mattress. 

---

Rose appeared right in front of Dew’s face, making Dew jerk back. “Hey, why are you crying?” 

“Huh?” Dew brought his hands up to face to discover it wet. His eyes furrowed. “I don’t know.” He scrubbed his eyes with the hem of his t-shirt. 

“Well, your face says that you broke up with your faen.” Rose bluntly said. 

Dew pushed Rose’s face away. “Shut up, he’s not my faen, he’s-” Dew broke off. “-an acquaintance.” 

“Uh-huh.” Fai eyed Dew suspiciously. “Isn’t he the ‘faen’ you kidnapped in my car a couple weeks ago?” 

“Fai!” Dew whined. He tried to deflect the topic. “Why are you all here?” 

“I was in town so thought a surprise visit would be nice.” Baba said. “I brought snacks-” He held up the bags he was carrying “-and Rose and Joss along.” 

Dew looked around, “Where’s Joss?” He then looked at Rose weirdly. “And how did Baba pull you away from the farm?”

Rose pouted and crossed her arms. “Baba picked up Joss and I from school and it turns out he was kidnapping us to visit you.” 

“That’s not kidnapping.” Fai remarked. 

Baba placed the bags of snacks on the kitchen counter. “I also said that you should visit the university at least once before taking the university exams.” Baba added.

“Which is stupid.” Rose grumbled.

Baba ignored Rose's comment and looked around the room. “Looks like Fai redecorated your room.” 

“You mean messed up my room.” Dew corrected. 

“It’s better than the man-cave you had when you moved in.” Baba continued. He took out a thermos container from the snack bag. “Have you eaten dinner? I made miso soup if you want it.” Baba held it out to Dew.

“I ate but- hey!”

Joss appeared and swiped the container before Dew could grab it. “If you already ate, I’ll eat it then.”

Dew lunged and snatched it from Joss. “Where did you come from? And I’m not turning down Baba’s food.” Dew held the container possessively, grabbing a spoon and retreating to his desk chair to eat it. 

Joss pointed at Fai. “Fai let me in.” 

“So," Dew scooped a spoonful of the soup. “Baba, are you staying?” 

“No. I have a busy day tomorrow.” Baba said from behind the kitchen counter, placing the seaweed packs above the refrigerator. “Joss and Rose will stay with you for the weekend.

Dew choked and coughed into his soup. “What?” He asked incredulously. “Why can’t they stay at Fai’s place? My room is so small!”

“What are you talking about?” Rose asked. “Your room is roomy as fuck.”

“Language.” Baba reprimanded Rose. “Joss and Rose will be visiting your campus. And you can catch up with your siblings.” 

Baba walked over to Dew and gave him a half hug, dipping his head to kiss the top of Dew’s head. “I’m going now.” 

Baba hugged Joss, Rose, and Fai. “Joss, Rose, I’ll pick you two up Sunday morning. Have fun!”

Baba opened the door and paused, turning around. “Dew and Fai, if you’re having someone over, don’t forget to use protection.” He joked. 

“Baba!” Dew whined. Rose and Joss snickered.

“Bye, Baba.” Fai answered. “You better use protection too.” 

---

He let out a choked cry as a woman with crazed eyes and wild hair slammed him something metal. 

“Are you not paying attention?” She screamed. Dew struggled against her tightening grip against his throat. “I’ll kill you and that’ll take care of it!” 

“No! Pran!” He cried out, trying to pried the hands off his neck. 

Dew let out a pained cry when the woman’s fingernails grew into claws, digging into the tender skin around his neck. 

“Don’t you dare say his name!” She screamed.

“Dew!” Someone shouted in a panicked voice. “Fuck! Joss, wake Dew up somehow!” 

Dew thrashed-

And his eyes flew open, wildly looking into Joss’s eyes. Dew panted, gulping heaving breaths into his lungs. 

After a few moments, Joss rolled off Dew and leaned against the bed. Dew scooched up against the bed, leaning against the headboard. 

“Are you good now?” Joss asked. “You punched Rose.”

“Oh shit, sorry.” Dew mumbled, tucking his legs in and hugging himself into a ball. 

“No need to say sorry, it was an accident.” Rose appeared with a glass of water and an ice pack held to her left cheek. She handed the glass to Dew. “That was probably not the best way to wake you.” Dew shakily took the glass from Rose. 

Rose climbed onto the bed and hugged Dew from the side. “You don’t usually have nightmares if you sleep with Tingting or Nong Nao.” She nodded at the frankenstein doll that somehow ended up tossed at the end of the bed. “Do you remember any of it?” Dew downed the glass, and shook his head. 

Joss took the glass and set it on the bedside table. “Well, you called out a name, so that’s a clue of who you were before.”

“What name?” Dew asked. 

“Pran.” 

Chapter Text

“So.” Joss picked a sausage out of his khai jiao and chomped on it. “Finally after all these years, we get a clue of your past. Are you going to dig deeper into it?” 

Dew shrugged. “I told Uncle Mek that if he finds anything, not to tell me. If my memories come back, then they come back. I don’t want to damage my precious brain.”

Rose snorted. “‘Precious brain,’ my ass. You could say the name a bunch of times and see if that recovers your memories” Rose said from her place at the kitchen stove. “Pran Pran Pran-”

Dew clutched his head and hissed in pain. Joss turned around and kicked Rose. “Rose!” He hissed.

Rose turned around and saw Dew clutching his head. “Shia, I guess that doesn’t work.” Rose opened the fridge and took out two things and dumped it in the omelet she was making for Dew. 

Seeing Dew’s eyes grow distant, Joss guided Dew to sit on the desk chair, rubbing his shoulders in comfort. 

“Here.” Rose appeared and stabbed a fork into Dew’s khai jiao and shoved it into Dew’s mouth. Dew absently chewed on the food and then paused. His eyes came back to the present, and he made a face. 

“Strawberries, sausages, and cheese? What the fuck is this combination?” Dew rushed to the refrigerator and blindly grabbed a drink and chugged it. “Blergh.”

“Let me try.” Joss took the fork from Rose and sliced a portion of Dew’s omelet. “This is good.” Joss munched. 

Rose preened. “Of course it’s good. I made it for Tingting yesterday and she said it’s now her favorite.” 

“You all have fucked up taste buds,” Dew muttered. He frowned at the drink he had finished, realizing that the drink he had gotten was the last bottle of Narai’s tea bottle apology gift. 

“Anyway, the name ‘Pran’ is probably someone related to you, not your name,” Joss said. “Probably someone you trust the most.”

“Can you guys please drop it?” Dew pleaded, rubbing his head. “Keep the conspiracy theories to yourself.”

“Ok.” Rose said cheerily, skipping towards Dew. “Then what’s this ‘faen’ Fai was talking about yesterday?” 

Dew groaned and face-palmed himself.

---

A faceless thug swung a bat into a shirtless and blindfolded muscular man tied to a wooden chair. The bruised and bleeding captive grunted, gritting his teeth to keep from yelling in pain. 

Another thug yanked the captive’s hair back and tore off the blindfold. “Answer the question,” he sneered. “Who are you and why are you here?” The captive blinked in the bright light and glared back. He spit at the thug. 

The thug reared back. “You motherfucker!” He punched the captive in the face, and the captive’s face whipped to the side. 

Mek compartmentalized the pain and focused on hearing beyond the room. He had to admit that the cat ears (they’re not cute, damnit Ter) had sharpened his hearing, which was useful trying to overhear quiet and next-room conversations - and thus, extra tidbits of information. He had to re-train himself not to flinch at loud noises though.

He heard a high-frequency musical ringtone and cocked his head to the side. Seems like the phone that they had taken from him was in the next room, and one of his family members was calling.

Mek unobtrusively scanned the room, fingering the rope around his wrists. At the next punch to the stomach, he hissed and bent over, slipping his feet out of his shoes and out of the rope tying his legs to the chair. The thug that he had spit on was ranting. “I don’t care what the boss says but-” 

Mek kicked out at the thug with both feet, springing into action. Standing up with his arms still tied to the back of the chair, he knocked the other thug over with a quick swing of the chair then leaned back, stabbing a chair leg into the thug’s stomach and right hand, then stomping on the thug’s leg hard enough to crack bone. 

Turning his attention to the first thug to check he hadn’t recovered from the kick in the groin, Mek flipped himself over, smashing the chair into pieces. Untangling himself from the chair, he stumbled to crouching position and knocked out both thugs with a punch in the face. 

Barefooted, he ran to the door and yanked it open to find himself more thugs playing poker around a table. Using the surprise to his advantage and ignoring the pain emanating all over his torso, he lunged at his jacket and phone was still ringing from a nearby cabinet, and dashed back into the interrogation room, narrowly missing a bullet as he slammed the metal door and locked it from the inside. 

Mek picked up the call, putting it on speaker. “Dew.” He winced as he put the jacket on his bruised and battered body and slipped his bare feet into his shoes.

“Hi Uncle Mek! This is Rose holding Dew’s phone hostage! Are you working?” Rose’s cheery voice came through the speakers. As the thugs continued to bang and shoot at the metal door, Mek fished out a screwdriver from his pocket and bent down next to the vent. “Yes. What are you doing?” Mek muttered.

“We’re- damnit, Joss, catch! ” The phone speaker became noisy as Rose presumably tossed Dew’s phone to Joss. “We’re holding an intervention for Dew because he got stupidly mad at his faen.” Joss took over. Mek could hear Dew whine and chase the two siblings in the background, damnit, give me my phone, he’s not my faen!

Mek grunted, finally unscrewing the vent cover off the vent. “And?” 

“I texted you Dew’s faen’s contact-” Joss paused. Mek heard Dew shrieking HE'S NOT MY FAEN as the phone sailed through the air. A high-frequency ding rang in Mek’s ears. “-can you send back the phone location?” Rose finished.

Mek grunted, wiggling into the vent. “Fine. Now let me work.”

“Ok, Uncle Mek! Love you!” Rose hung up.

Mek let out a silent sigh and closed the vent cover behind him.

Wriggling through the vents, Mek quickly wrote out a tracking phone program for Dew. Just as he sent the program to Dew, the call screen from Dew's phone number appeared along with its high frequency ringtone.

Mek was going to pick up when the ring stopped abruptly. He got a text from Dew to ignore the call, whining that Rose was blackmailing him. Mek huffed and put his phone away. Kids. He thought.

---

“Here.” The apartment agent opened an apartment door for Narai. “Come on in.” She reached for the switch, and the lights turned on in the room. 

Narai followed the petite lady in, looking around the room in the dim light. 

The lady turned around. “Take your time. If you have any questions, I’ll be next door settling a contract with another customer.”

Narai dipped his head. “Thank you.” The lady left. 

Narai looked at the massive curtain that took up an entire wall. Narai walked to the curtain and opened it, squinting as the sunlight streamed into the dim room. He turned around, his eyes falling on the wide cabinet shelf next to the king-sized bed that he didn’t notice before.

He moved away from the window wall and walked towards the cabinet shelf, testing the sturdiness of the object with a hard press from his hand. Finding it sturdy, he sat on it and laid down, finding the space a nice spot for Wai to nap on. 

Narai’s phone rang and buzzed in his pocket. He fished it out and looked at the screen. He denied the call and put his phone away, putting an arm over his forehead and letting out a shaky breath. 

Hearing the door quietly click open, Narai sat up and sprang away from the cabinet shelf he was lying on, thinking that the apartment lady came back. Instead, his eyes met a familiar striped hair figure. 

“Why are you here?” Narai asked defensively. 

“You didn’t pick up my calls,” Dew answered. “Why didn’t you pick up?”

Narai shook his head. “I'm not picking up your calls because I don’t want to talk to you.”

Dew sighed and entered the room, closing the door behind him. He stood opposite Narai, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“I’m here to say that you don’t have to move,” Dew explained. He looked around. “Nice room. I can move instead if you want.” He offered. 

Narai tilted his head in confusion. “Why?”

Dew looked back at Narai. “I have my reasons.”

“Well then, I have reasons to move too,” Narai replied. He shoulder-checked Dew as he stalked past Dew. “And you moving is stupid, it’s not going to change the fact that your friends can’t be un-curious on me living next door.“

“No, it’s just-” Dew collected his thoughts, watching Narai pause in his steps. “I’m sorry about not trusting you and your friendship with your friends, and for pushing your buttons so much.”

“Just, let me move out and control my friends’ curiosities, and we can call it even, please?” Dew pleaded. Narai turned around with a blank face, staring at an apologetic Dew.

“I am moving here.” Narai took a step menacingly at Dew.

“Because I want you to continue to feel guilty.” Narai took another step, 

“Continue owing me.” Another step. Dew shrank back. 

After a few moments, Dew spoke. “What part of ‘I’m moving here,’ doesn’t make sense?” Dew asked in a small voice. 

Narai dropped the menacing facade and rolled his eyes. He twisted himself to land on the bed, exaggeratingly swinging his legs up to perpendicular to the bed before letting his legs dangle over the edge of the bed. He sighed at the softness of the large bed. 

Narai lazily looked at a slightly incensed Dew and pointed at the door. “You can get out of my room now.” He sat up and patted the bed, ignoring Dew. “The bed is soooo soft.”

Dew crossed his arms and scowled. He reached for Narai, a hand sliding up Narai’s inner thigh. Narai squeaked and spasmed at the physical contact, but Dew managed to grab Narai’s left hand and start pulling at it. 

“Get out, I’ll move in,” Dew insisted, pulling Narai’s arm. 

“No,” Narai smirked. 

“Stop making the situation complicated, just go.”

“No.”

“Go, damnit.” 

“No.”

“Go, please?” Dew almost had Narai in standing position.

Narai let out a non-committal hum and jerked his arm out of Dew’s grip. He wrapped his fingers around Dew’s right wrist and yanked Dew towards himself, throwing Dew off guard. Dew closed his eyes, bracing himself for the inevitable collision. Narai caught Dew’s left shoulder before Dew could crash into Narai, and Dew reflexively put his hands on the mattress to balance himself 

Narai moved his hand from Dew’s shoulder and cupped a hand to Dew’s cheek, unconsciously rubbing a thumb on Dew’s cheekbone. Dew opened his eyes cautiously, meeting Narai’s mischievous ones. 

“You want my forgiveness, do you.” Narai purred. Dew stared dazedly into Narai’s half-lidded eyes as Narai moved his hand from Dew’s face and placed it on Dew’s shoulder blade. Narai slid his hand from Dew’s shoulder blade to lower on Dew’s back, stopping just above the hip. Dew shivered. 

Narai grinned saucily at Dew and jabbed his fingers into Dew’s side. 

“Hey!” Dew squirmed away from Narai’s fingers and found himself on his back on the mattress and Narai on top of him. 

“If you want forgiveness, see if you can get away from this,” Narai taunted, pinning Dew down by the shoulder and skittering his fingers into Dew’s side. 

“No-” Dew gasped. “No, don’t!” He giggled. 

Narai grinned at his victim. “Stop! It’s-” Dew laughed. “Tichlish!” 

“Narai-” Dew wheezed. Narai dodged Dew’s hands trying to grab at Narai’s hands. “No! Please!” Dew shrieked. 

Narai heard the door handle turn and flung himself off of Dew. 

“Excuse me-” The apartment agent entered and saw a disheveled Dew panting on the bed. “Oh my God!” She shrieked. 

“Um.” Narai waved at the scandalized lady, scratching his neck and looking not disheveled at all. “I’m here. Is there a problem?”

“Oh.” She eyed Dew still on the bed warily. She looked back at Narai. “I just want to let you know that the customer decided to sign the contract and paid the deposit for this room just now, so unfortunately this room isn’t available anymore.”

“Aowh.” Narai frowned. “Is there any other rooms?” 

“Not to the ones with your specifications.” The lady said apologetically. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s ok then, I’ll find somewhere else.” Narai smiled. 

Dew coughed, propping himself to his elbows. The petite lady eyed Dew again, then at the innocent-looking Narai with a questioning look on his face.

“I don’t know and probably don’t want to know what happened here-,” she started, “-but please don’t do it here.” 

Narai nodded with a straight face while Dew protested. “P’, we didn’t-” Dew protested in a scratchy voice. She whirled around and left, with Dew scrambling after her. 

Watching the two intruders leave, Narai’s face broke into a grin and he snickered into his arm, Louis's advice - if you're angry at someone, turn the tables on them - echoing in his ears. 

Chapter Text

Narai closed the door behind him, seeing Dew pressing repeatedly on the elevator button. 

“You know you just have to press once, right?” Narai drawled. 

Dew grunted and continued smashing the elevator button.

Narai shoved his hands into his pockets and watched the screen above the elevator display 7th, then 6th. The other elevator screen was stuck on the 20th floor. “I guess neither of us are moving out.” 

Dew glared at Narai. “I said I’ll move out. There are other available rooms here that I can move into.”

Narai watched the 6 become 5. “Neither of us are moving out. I couldn’t get a room, so take responsibility for your friends.” 

“Not moving out? Take responsibility?” Dew echoed. The clicking of the elevator button stopped. “Does that mean…”

Out of the corner of his eyes, Narai watched Dew straighten up from the elevator buttons and lean closer towards Narai. “...you like being around me?” Dew whispered into Narai’s ear. 

Not looking, Narai lashed out, kicking Dew in the shin, then rotated his leg for another kick into the meaty part of Dew’s leg. 

“What kind of fucking logic leads to that,” Narai growled. 

Dew whined and dramatically fell to the ground. “My leg!” Dew wailed. “Take responsibility for poor me! Now you owe me!”

Narai sent a strange look at Dew. “I didn’t kick you that hard, you pouty baby. You make no sense.” 

Dew pouted on the floor. “You don’t make sense either. I offered to move out and you want me to stay.” He clutched his leg. “Now, you won’t take responsibility for injuring me. I think I need to go to the hospital.” Dew whined.

“You bitchy nutter. I think someone scrambled your brains when you were a baby.”

You’re the bitchy nutter. I’m a poor innocent soul.” 

“If I’m a bitchy nutter,” Narai acknowledged. “You’re a bitchy baby zebra.” The elevator dinged and opened and Narai stalked into it. 

“Hey!” Dew protested. He wiggled himself across the floor into the open elevator, dragging his ‘injured leg’ along. The elevator started to close, only to open when the doors squished Dew’s hips. 

Dew gave a dramatic cry and laid on the floor, his legs still out in the hallway and upper body in the elevator. He looked up at the scowling Narai, who had his arms crossed and tapping his foot. 

“You deserved that, you animal.” Narai taunted. 

Dew crossed his arms on the floor. “How dare you close the doors on poor, innocent me.”
Narai lifted his chin up arrogantly. “You deserved it, you dramatic pervert.” Narai gasped and brought his hand up to his mouth. “Oh, I forgot the word ‘sexist.’” Narai looked back down at Dew and pointed at him, grinning. “You dramatic sexist pervert.”

“I see what you’re playing at,” Dew muttered to himself. “Ow!” The elevator doors tried to close on Dew again. Narai snickered. 

As the doors stopped squishing Dew in its grip, Dew was up in a flash and pinned Narai against the elevator wall. 

“What the fuck-”

“Fine, I won’t move out. But you brought this on yourself.” Dew needled, his hands inching towards Narai’s sides. 

“This is assault,” Narai flatly informed Dew, sliding his eyes toward the closing elevator doors, not reacting to Dew’s attempts to tickle him. 

“This is payback,” Dew retorted, then frowned at Narai’s lack of reaction. “Aren’t people supposed to be ticklish- hey!” 

The elevator doors closed with a cheery ding, and Narai pushed Dew, reversing their positions. “If that’s ‘payback,’ I haven’t finished mine.” Narai pinned an arm across Dew’s chest and poked threateningly into Dew’s side. 

“Hey no, not again!” Dew whined, unsuccessfully trying to squirm away from Narai’s fingers. “Are you not satisfied yet?” 

Narai jabbed his fingers into Dew’s soft spots, making Dew giggle. “Ai’sat, who said was done with you.” Narai growled, attacking Dew with his fingers.

---

Rose and Joss perked up at the ding of the elevator opening. Rose and Joss conspicuously stared to see their disheveled sibling draped over the elevator floor behind an annoyed figure. The figure stepped out and stopped at the sight of the staring duo. 

Rose smiled and offered a sheepish thumbs up to the figure. “Fuck off,” the figure snapped and stalked out of the building. 

Dew exited the elevator, patting himself down and glaring at his siblings. Rose and Joss offered Dew a thumbs up, wiggling their eyebrows. 

“Fuck off, you two are on your own.” Dew snapped. Dew also stalked off.

Rose and Joss looked at each other and cackled, high-fiving each other. 

---

Later, Dew found Narai in the lobby of their apartment, frowning at the sign on the elevators. Dew looked over, reading the signs. 

Both signs said "Broken. Use the other elevator."

Dew let out an offended noise. “Well, that’s rude. Both elevators are broken.” Dew turned to Narai. "You know how to use the stairs, right?" Dew asked. 

Narai sent Dew a deadpan look, then walked towards the signs and took out a thick black marker.

“Let’s race,” Dew blurted out suddenly, watching Narai write out ‘use the stairs, sorry for the inconvenience.’ “Whoever touches their door first wins.”

“What do I get?” Narai walked to the other sign. “It’s not like I need to compete with you for anything.” Narai finished writing the message on the sign and clicked the marker shut. He suddenly dashed around the elevator bank - towards the stairwell.

“Hey!” Dew dashed after Narai, clinging to the wall as he nearly tripped around the corner. 

Dew took three stairs at the time, quickly catching up to Narai. On the first landing, Dew caught Narai’s wrist and pressed him away from the next set of stairs.

Narai cursed and caught Dew’s wrist. Dew tore his arm away from Narai and dashed up the stairs.

Narai chased Dew up the next few flights of stairs, shoving Dew into the corner on the landing right below the exit to the 4th floor. 

A few steps from the 4th-floor door, Dew yanked on Narai’s shirt, making Narai cling onto the stair railing. Dew rushed past Narai and burst through the door, laughing, only to crash into the opposite wall when Narai barreled through the door and into Dew. 

Dew recovered and caught up to Narai, snaking his arms around Narai’s waist and whirling Narai behind him, then dashing down the hallway to his and Narai’s rooms. 

“Ai’sat!” Narai cursed.

Dew slapped his hand on his door and turned around, grinning at Narai. “I won!” He panted.

Narai crossed his arms, leaning heavily against his own door. “Who said I was racing you?”

“Yeah? Then why did you run so fast to the point that your face looks whiter than usual?”

“This?” Narai pointed at his face. “It’s called having fair skin, you sunburnt dummy. You’re the one looking who’s looking pale.” 

Narai tilted his head in mock concern. “Are you dying?” He sneaked a hand into his pocket.

“I’m okay.” Dew gave Narai an ‘ok’ sign, then looked up. “Can you share that?”

Narai held the black-colored inhaler and sent a strange look at Dew. “No.”

Dew half-fell across the hall, caging Narai against the door. “Give it.” Dew tried to take the inhaler from Narai.

“Hell no! That’s unsanitary!” Narai kept his inhaler out of reach. After a few moments, Narai pushed Dew back towards Dew's own door. 

“Ai’sat.” Narai cursed. “Buy one yourself.” He shoved the inhaler in his nose and sighed. “So refreshing.” He mocked.

Dew scrunched up his face. “Fine!” 

Dew put his hands on his hips. “But if you want a rematch, you can knock on my door anytime.” 

He leaned forwards. “But if you miss me, don’t knock.” Dew beckoned with his fingers salaciously. “Just come on in.”

Narai stared at Dew, then held out a fist. Dew looked at it, then brought his fist up- 

Only for Narai to turn the fist into a middle finger. “Pervert,” Narai smirked. He turned and unlocked his door.

---

Narai slouched in his chair, staring off into the blank whiteboards that lined up against the wall in the architecture workshop.

Air whooshed behind him, and someone pounced on Narai’s neck.

“Ack-” Narai choked and flailed in his seat, sending colored pencils and paper flying. “Ai’Wai, get off!” He wheezed. The death grip on his neck lessened, and the person draped his arms loosely around Narai’s neck instead, setting his head on Narai’s left shoulder. 

“What are you working on?” Wai asked, nuzzling his head against Narai’s.

“You clingy octopus, sit on the other side like a proper person.” Narai hissed, prying Wai off. Wai drooped and sprawled into the seat next to Narai. 

“I’m composing the song but I can’t think of anything.” Narai gathered his pencils and papers from the floor. “How can actual musicians finish composing a song in an hour?” 

“By not overthinking. They don’t use their heads, they listen to their heart and inner feelings.” Wai proclaimed. “You know what else you should listen to?” 

Narai grunted and straightened up, turning back to his seat. “Hey!”

Wai grinned at Narai from Narai’s original seat. “You should listen to your instincts.” Wai barreled on.

“Instincts my ass." Narai retorted, placing the fallen pencils and paper on the table. "My instincts are telling me to kick you out of my seat!” Narai kicked at Wai and missed. Wai appeared in the seat across Narai’s seat, dangling a sheet of paper in his hands.

“What do your instincts tell you about this then?” Wai peered at the paper. “Is this a secret crush?”

“I don’t have a secret crush,” Narai growled. Narai snatched the paper from Wai.

“Yeah? Then what’s the caption mean?” Wai snatched the paper back and pointed out the line of characters under the sketch. “‘The handsomest-looking pick in the world.’”

Narai snatched the paper back and eyed Wai suspiciously before looking at the paper. “I didn’t draw this.” Narai tilted his head in confusion.

The paper was a pencil sketch of a portrait of a person with no facial features except a wide grin of a mouth that seemed familiar to Narai. The border was in a rough shape of a guitar pick as if someone had trimmed the guitar pick border with a big pair of scissors. 

It would have been a nice sketch if not for the dark random streak in the person’s hair. 

“Mhm?” Wai tilted his head in confusion. “Did a ghost possess you then? Because I’m 100% sure you were drawing this earlier. See?” Wai took the paper and laid it on the table, pointing out the random dark streak. “That’s from when you got scared from my hug.” 

“‘Hug,’ right.” Narai drawled sarcastically. “More like a ticket to the afterlife of ridiculous deaths.” Narai stuffed the paper into his bag. “Whatever. I need to work on the song.”

“But you finished?” Wai said.

“Huh?”

Wai passed him a bunch of papers filled with notes, lyrics, and guitar chords. Narai shuffled through the papers. The title of the song he had supposedly written was “Just Friends.”

“Do you seriously not recall that you wrote an entire song?” Wai asked curiously. “Are you really possessed?” Wai held up a charm in front of Narai’s face. 

Narai scowled and plucked P’Mae exorcism charm out of Wai’s hands. "Hell no."

"Oh!" Wai exclaimed. "You're not possessed by a ghost; you're possessed by love." Wai leered.

"Ai'sat." Narai leaned over the table and flicked Wai's forehead. "Don’t you have work at the bar now?" 

Wai slouched in his chair and pouted, holding his stinging forehead. “They switched me to night shift. Stupid cat makeup.” 

“Says the one who gets double the pay when you do it, ‘customer magnet,’” Narai retorted. “Meet me at the bus stop once you’re done. Louis and Safe will probably be done with their fight. I’ll bring the makeup remover and food.”

“Food now?” Wai asked hopefully. Narai fished a snack pack from his bag and tossed it at Wai. 

“Eat that, finish your homework, then go to work,” Narai ordered. “The dean assigned us a project to work on, so that’s why we’re meeting up at the bus stop later.” 

Chapter Text

“Can you add six wontons please.” Dew said.

“Sure.” The chef grinned. “You always ask for so many.” Dew smiled sheepishly at the old man.

Dew turned around and scanned the tables. All of them were full except one. Dew could only see the hunched back of the person already there. 

Dew approached the table. “Excuse me, may I sit here?”

The person distractedly waved at Dew, not looking up from the papers he was holding. Dew walked to the empty seat and faced the other person. 

“You!” Dew exclaimed.

Narai grunted, not taking his eyes off his papers. 

A waiter arrived at the table, carefully holding the nearly full bowl and a cup. “Red pork noodle soup with six wontons.”

“Thank you,” Dew said, then resumed gaping at Narai. After a few moments, Narai spoke. 

“Stop staring at me and eat,” Narai ordered. “Are you paranoid about our friends?” Narai looked up at Dew with a distracted expression. “It’s nearly midnight. No one is going to see us.” Narai looked back down at his papers. 

Dew closed his mouth and carefully pulled his bowl towards himself. He bent down and slurped noisily at the soup, lowering the level of liquid in the bowl from to the brim to a couple of inches lower. 

“Bro, can you stop slurping that loud?” Narai muttered.

“What?” Dew looked up, only to see Narai still looking at his papers. Dew pulled several strands of noodles into his mouth with the chopsticks that materialized in his hand. “IlefcehfnuIluuuvfhesmfooo.” Dew garbled through the noodles.

“Finish chewing before talking.” Narai scolded.

Dew chewed and swallowed the noodles in his mouth. “I’m letting the chef know that I looooove his food.”

Dew slurped the rest of the soup liquid, albeit a bit more quietly. Grabbing another chopstick-full of noodles and stuffing it in his mouth, he peered in Narai’s bowl, only to find wontons left in the bowl.

“Nueng, song, saam, see, ha, hok.” Dew counted. “Six wontons. I have six wontons too!” Dew leaned forward towards Narai, who still had his attention on his papers. “Why six wontons? Is six your lucky number?”

“None of your business.” Narai retorted. “Why do you have six wontons?”

“Just in case my siblings take them. That way there’s still one left for me to eat.” Dew answered blatantly.

“So… you have five other siblings?” Narai asked.

“Ha!” Dew crowed. “Now you’re poking your nose in my business. Are you usually nosy with other people?” Dew leaned across the table. 

Narai finally looked up and pushed Dew’s head away. “Nosy?” Narai raised an eyebrow. “Ai’sat, you’re the one who's acting like one of the nosy gossipy aunts.” 

Dew scrunched up his nose in disgust at the image and snatched a wonton from Narai’s bowl.

“Hey!” Narai protested. Dew put the Narai’s wonton in his open mouth and let it slip into his own bowl. 

“Here.” Dew tilted the bowl towards Narai. “Take it back.” 

Narai put his papers down and grabbed his own set of chopsticks. Staring at Dew in defiance, he stabbed his own bowl, pulling out two wontons and putting them in his mouth, chewing slowly.

“That’s it?” Dew asked incredulously. “You’re no fun.” 

Narai’s chopstick-holding hands shot out and retreated into his mouth. Narai’s cheeks puffed even more.

Dew looked down, counting five wontons in his own bowl. Dew looked up at Narai, who sent him a double thumbs up and grinned mischievously through his chubby cheeks. Narai picked up his bowl and dumped the rest of his wontons in Dew’s bowl. 

While Dew gaped at him, Narai chewed carefully on the four wontons in his mouth and swallowed, grabbing his cup and sipping through the straw.

“What are you, a fish?” Narai reached over and closed Dew’s mouth shut with a finger under his chin. “You can have the rest of mine, I’m done.” Narai leaned back in his seat and stared at Dew.

Dew slowly picked up a wonton with his chopsticks and then stuffed it quickly into his mouth. “You don’t have to wait for me.” Dew garbled through his wonton, slightly unnerved by Narai’s scarred-eye stare.

“I’m not,” Narai answered. He raised a hand. “I haven’t paid,” Narai added as the waiter approached.

“Yes?” The waiter asked. Narai turned his head towards the waiter.

“I’ll pay for these two bowls.” Narai gestured at Dew’s and Narai’s bowls on the table. “And is my take-out order ready?”

“Yes, I’ll bring it to you.” The waiter said. “That will be 500 baht in total.”

Narai fished out his wallet and took out a 500 baht bill, handing it to the waiter. “Thank you.” 

The waiter gave a small bow and took the money. “I’ll be back.” The waiter disappeared. 

Narai put his wallet back into his pocket, looking at the confused Dew. “My treat.”

Dew eyed Narai as he stuffed a piece of pork into his mouth. “Thanks,” Dew muttered. 

The waiter came back with several food containers and drinks. “Do you have a bag you can put this in?” The waiter asked. 

“Yes, I do,” Narai responded. He turned around in his seat and took out a crinkly-sounding bag. “Here.” Narai held out the bag, and the waiter lowered the items into the bag. “Thank you, P’,” Narai said. The waiter gave another small bow and vanished to another table.

Dew shoved another wonton in his mouth and looked at Narai questioningly, wondering why Narai hadn’t moved from his seat.

“Hurry up,” Narai ordered. “I’m actually waiting for you.” Dew’s eyes bulged out in surprise.

---

“Did you get an email this morning about the bus stop renovation?” Narai asked Dew.

They were walking side by side in the dark. Dew had his flashlight on his phone on, lighting the dark road in front of them.

“What email?” Dew asked. “And who checks emails on weekends?” 

“Are you sassing me?” Narai accused. "You’re the first-year engineering president, so you should always be checking your email.”

“My siblings were in town yesterday and I had to deal with them.” Dew defended himself.

Narai gave a noncommittal hum. “Family comes first.” 

“Exactly.” Dew declared. “So, what did the email say?”

Narai sighed and muttered under his breath. “Remember the bus stop that our friends almost fought at?” Narai asked.

“The one where my friend called you all ‘sluts’ for being in a cuddle pile?” Dew asked. 

“Is that what happened?” Narai stopped walking, making Dew stop in his tracks. “Lame.” Narai resumed walking. 

"What do you mean lame?" 

“Your dean and my department dean decided that they are going to renovate the bus stop since it’s so old.” Narai ignored Dew, continuing on. “And it’s a collab between our departments.”

“What’s that gotta do with us?” Dew asked.

“First years are in charge of the project.”

“So-”

“Yep. And we have to finish by the end of the month.” 

“That’s plenty of time.”

“Ai’sat. How long do you think it takes to build a bus stop?” 

“A month?” Dew guessed.

“Textbook-phobic much?” 

“I’m just kidding.” Dew grinned into the darkness. “So, how are we going to split the responsibilities?” Dew noticed Narai had stopped and turned around. He pointed the phone into Narai’s face. “Hoi.” Dew prodded. Narai cocked his head, his eyes far away as if listening to something.

Narai suddenly took off into the darkness, feet pounding on the asphalt. “Hey!” Dew yelped. “Wait for me!”

---

Narai skidded to the edge of the lights illuminating on the bus stop-

Or what was left of the bus stop. Narai frowned at the pitiful structure that had keeled over like a ship in a storm. He then looked over at Dew’s friends that were yelling up a tree - the commotion that made him hurry to the bus stop. Dew caught up to Narai and slipped, clinging to Narai’s torso for balance.

“Fuck,” Narai jumped in surprise and looked down at Dew. “Get off of me.” Narai looked back up at the engineering goons

“Are you guys barking up the wrong tree?” Narai called out.

“Maybe look up the tree before opening your mouth.” Dew retorted. The goons- Dew’s friends stopped and turned around just in time to see Dew yank Narai’s hair, forcing Narai to look up. 

“That’s definitely the wrong tree then.” Narai’s voice dripped with sarcasm. "Stop being childish." 

Narai appeared next to the trio under the tree, who startled at the sudden presence of Narai. “You three get back,” Narai ordered.

“Who are you to boss us-” Korn sneered, raising a fist. 

Narai held up a hand and craned his neck up in an attempt to peer through the branches. “Hey, you tree huggers!” Narai bellowed. “Get off the tree!”

“No!” Wai’s voice petulantly called back. 

"Get off the tree or no food!" Narai held up the bag of take-out food. There was a rustle and the bag disappeared from Narai's hands.  

Narai growled and crossed his arms. “Safe.” He called. 

Safe’s voice drifted down. “They started it.” 

“Hell no we didn’t!” Korn shouted. 

Narai whirled around. “Did I ask for your opinion?” 

“It was like that when we got there!” Safe yelled back from the tree. 

“You broke the bus stop!”

“Do you not see the fucking dent in the roof and the tree branch next to the stop?! Me and Wai dragged the tree branch off of the roof so I could patch up Louis ‘cause everywhere else is so freaking wet!”

“Both of you shut up!” Narai barked. “I don’t care what the beef is now , but we need to work together for the next month and I’m not letting some petty rivalry get in the way of it.” Narai menaced. “ Now get off the damn tree!”

“What are you calling petty?” Korn advanced on Narai, only stopping when a body seemed to fall from the sky. Reflexively, Narai caught the body in his arms. 

Wai landed next to Narai and offered the incensed Korn (who quickly became a confused Korn) a food container from Narai's takeout bag. Safe carefully slid down the tree and gave a sheepish smile at Narai with a sleeping Louis in his arms "Sorry."

Before anyone could do anything, there was a loud pop, and they turned as the map next to the bus stop flicker, then explode.  

They blocked their faces from the flying debris, except for Wai who blocked his face with the food container. Narai had his hands full of Louis (heavy fucker was still sleeping through the chaos) so Narai turned his head away and squeezed his eyes shut. 

It was too late though. Flying debris scratched up their faces and arms. Louis woke up with a squawk and fell onto the wet ground as a metal part scored a black bloody mark across his cheek. 

After a few moments of silence, the smell of smoke filled the air. They peeked warily back at what remained of the map, and the pieces fell over with a crash as if it broke under the pressure of their confused and wary stares. The burning smell came from the two burning trash cans that somehow caught on fire.

“What the fuck.” Chang muttered. 

"Well,” Dew said, pulling out his first aid kit pouch from his pocket. “It looks the bus stop picked a fight with us and died." Dew weakly joked. 

 

Chapter Text

Dew, Korn, Mo and Chang skidded to a stop just outside the conference room. 

"Is this the right room?" Mo asked. 

The four peered into the room. Dew saw Narai and his friends dressed up in the spiffy white shirt-black pants uniform, and two other male professors? also dressed up, sitting in the room. Paper and pencils were scattered across the table 

"Shia, were we supposed to dress up?" Korn muttered. 

“No.” A voice behind them. They startled and turned around, and wai’d at the engineering dean and professor.

Their dean continued talking. “It’s an architecture thing. Now stop lurking outside the door and come in.” 

The dean swung the conference door open, making the people already inside scramble to clean up the mess. “My brother from another mother!” He exclaimed. One of the older males in the room growled and threw a pencil at the dean, who caught it and threw it back. 

Meanwhile, the engineering professor looked at Dew’s and his friends’ scratched up faces suspiciously before going in. 

Dew and his friends sheepishly slunk in the room, sitting in the empty seats in the conference room across from the architecture gang. Out of the corner of his eye, Dew watched the engineer professor’s suspicious eyes ping-pong between the scratched up faces of the two groups.

“So!” The engineering dean clapped his hands together. “Let’s get started!” 

“Introductions.” The person that had thrown the pencil at the dean flatly said. 

“Oh right, sorry. Well, for those that don’t know me,” The engineering dean looked at Narai and his friends. “I’m the Dean of the Engineering Department, call me Ajarn Ton.”

“Professor Pichai, engineering.” the engineering professor said curtly.

“Professor Mahn, architecture,” The architecture professor smiled.

“And the Dean of the Architecture Department, Ajarn Kim.” Dean Kim nodded and gathered some papers together. “The surprise storm on Saturday night knocked down the bus stop, and someone reported it to the school board.”

Korn, Mo and Chang silently mouthed a “oh” in understanding, while Wai and Safe stuck out their tongues as if saying we told you so , in which Korn glared back. Narai kicked Wai and Safe under the table in warning. Dew also kicked his friends under the table and mimed zipping his lips. The adults didn’t notice this silent exchange except for the engineering professor. 

“The school board decided to toss the money to rebuild it to our departments.” Ajarn Kim said, shooting a look when the Ajarn Ton muttered under his breath. 

Mo raised his hand. “Khun, why are the engineering and architecture departments, particularly us, in charge of the project?” 

Professor Mahn chuckled. “You can put your hand down, it’s not a classroom. Two reasons. One, that bus stop in particular, is the subject of one of the projects in the 1st-year co-engineering and architecture class. So instead of a grade, you all have the lucky chance to apply a project into a real-life scenario.” 

“Second reason is the history of the bus stop itself.” Ajarn Kim added. “The engineering and architecture departments build that stop together every time it breaks down.” 

“Huh?” The eight students tilted their heads in confusion. 

“Every few years the engineering and architecture departments' rivalry turns violent. Whatever reason that the rivalry started, it always ends up with the bus stop destroyed in one of the brawls.” Professor Pichai said. “Looks like this year is no different.” He scowled. 

Narai and Dew exchanged looks at that statement.

“Professor-” They said at the same time

“-we didn’t fight-”

“-the bus stop exploded.” They shot a glare at each other for speaking at the same time.

“The map exploded and we all got scratched up.” Narai corrected. 

Professor Pichai narrowed his eyes, unconvinced. “Then why were all of you there when that happened?” 

“I asked my friends to meet me there to scout the area before we started working on the project,” Narai said.

Professor Pichai turned to the engineering gang, but Professor Mahn nodded in approval and wiped an imaginary tear from his eye. “Like a professional architect. It  would be even better if you had sketches.”

Narai took off the top sheet of the paper in front of him and slid the paper across to the architecture professor. “This is what’s left of it,” Narai said.

“I’m so proud that I taught right.” The architecture professor gushed, looking down at the sketch and laughed, slapping the table. 

The architecture dean took the sketch and snorted. “This might be the wrong sketch.” He offered to the confused Narai. 

Narai looked at the sketch and turned red. “Sorry.” Narai tapped Safe on the shoulder and jerked his head. Safe shuffled through his pile of papers and gave a couple of sheets to their professor.

 

[The sketch that Narai had given to the architecture professor - 

the state of the bus stop after the explosion

But also panicky chibi figures running around in circles that Wai sneakily added]

 

---

Watching the dean and professors walk away from the conference room through the glass walls, Narai knew there was going to be trouble. Just because he was paying attention and writing down what the deans and professors were talking about didn't mean that his friends-on-chaotic-mode spidey-sense was turned off. 

Narai sighed exasperatedly, making the glaring Korn, Mo, and Chang go on the defensive. "Forget the recommended plans and give me your papers.” He ordered.

The adults had given them papers as a recommendation of how to split/collaborate responsibilities up. Not that it would work without Wai, Louis, and/or Safe 'accidentally’ setting them off. Like in the meeting,  Wai and Safe were making faces at the engineering gang without drawing the professors’ and deans’ attention. Narai was pretty sure Louis joined in on Wai’s and Safe’s antics.

“For what?” Korn asked. There was a blur of movement and the papers disappeared from in front of the engineering students and into Wai’s hands. “Hey!”

“We’ll deal with the design, budgeting, and acquiring materials,” Narai answered. “You all take care of breaking down the old bus stop and helping rebuild the new one.” 

Korn stared suspiciously. “What’s the catch?”

“What catch? Engineers just sign and approve the design, don’t they? So we’re doing the architecture part of the project, and y’all are doing the engineering part of the project.” Narai shot back flatly. 

“Deal.” Dew suddenly said and stood up, reaching a hand out for a handshake across the table. 

“Ai’Dew!” Korn hissed.

Dew looked at Korn, tilting his head. “What’s the problem? We just have to do the grunt work. I’d say that’s an easy as fuck job to do.”

Korn leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms and mumbling under his breath.  

Narai reached his hand and shook Dew’s hand, sealing the deal.

Releasing his grip from Dew’s and leaning back, Narai watched Dew distract and hurry his friends out of the room, probably to avoid another explosive confrontation.

“Don’t try pushing all of your work onto me.” Narai suddenly growled, making Wai, Safe, and Louis stop inching their own papers towards Narai. They shuffled through their bags for something, then dumped it in front of Narai.

“Are you trying to bribe me into doing your work?” Narai asked incredulously. “Hell no.” 

---

Narai internally steamed as he and his friends headed to class. 

The ‘bribe’ was money for Narai to buy his own guitar. Narai had grumbled but weaseled out a task from each of them because Narai really wanted his own guitar - Wai’s guitar didn’t feel right in his hands.

Wai had to take care of the ordering of the construction materials. Back at home, merchants and traders that came to the village would be charmed by Wai’s cute face and antics and would offer him discounts on their wares. Narai hoped that something like that would happen and they would get discounts on the construction supplies.

Safe had to recruit other architecture majors to help rebuild the bus stop since Safe was the most sociable out of all of them even though Narai was architecture president. 

And Louis was not allowed in any way, shape, or form to interact with the engineering department unless they started the interaction. Louis had thankfully slept through the last two confrontations, but Narai wasn’t taking any chances. 

But fuck, it was a lot of work for one person to create the design, manage the budget, figure out-

“Ah, there’s my favorite minion.” Someone hooked their ice-cold fingers into Narai’s collar, making Narai squirm and choke. “Why are you dressed up?” 

Safe, Louis and Wai each were captured by a red-jacketed senior girl. The petite senior that held Wai hostage passive-aggressively petted Wai’s hair and snickered. “‘Minion.’ Good one, Lee,” She smirked.

“Sawadee, P’Lee,” Narai wheezed, bringing his hands up into a wai to the fifth-year former architecture hazer gang. “We had a meeting earlier today.” 

“Well then if the meeting is done, no need to look this stiff then,” Lee said. She unbuttoned the top two buttons of Narai’s white shirt.

“Hey!”

“Relax, it’s not like I’m stripping you.” Lee ruffled Narai’s hair. Narai looked at Safe, Louis, and Wai who looked similarly disheveled and disgruntled. “Why does it look like you got into a fight with the engineering idiots again? You guys OK?” 

Narai answered. “We didn’t fight.”

“Uh-huh.” Lee eyed Narai and the others, unconvinced. “Don’t sass me, minion. What are the red marks on your faces then?”

Narai sighed and held up his unblemished knuckles. “P’, we didn’t fight. Can you let us go? We’re going to be late to class if you hold us any longer.”

“Finish this sentence and I’ll let you go. SICK is-”

“-Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship as the key to great architecture design.” Narai automatically recited back. 

“Good. Remember that when you design the new bus stop. Now shoo.” Lee let Narai go.

Narai took a couple steps, then stopped. “How do you know about the bus stop?” 

Lee grinned mysteriously. “That’s a secret. Don’t you have class?” Narai grabbed Wai. Louis and Safe followed closely after.

Once the four were out of view, Lee sighed. 

“Too bad our bus stop design fell apart,” Lee grumbled.

“Well, those idiots pushed the responsibilities on us at the last minute.” The petite girl, Baipai, crossed her arms.

“‘Here’s the materials,” Another girl, Pan, lowered her voice, imitating a guy’s voice. “‘You can finish designing and building this in a week,’” 

Another girl scoffed. “Finish in a week, my ass. And the materials weren’t even good quality. The good thing about it is that we ended up as hazers.” Another girl, Kiki, grinned. They high-fived at that. 

Chapter Text

“That’s all for today.” The professor of the co-architecture and engineering major class announced. “See you next time,” she dismissed with a wai. 

“Sawadee krub/ka,” the students wai’d back.  Everyone gathered their books together, standing up to leave the classroom. Except for Narai, who distractedly wai’d and went back to writing in his notebook.

Wai put his notebook into his bag and draped his arms around Narai’s shoulders. “Food?” Wai asked. Wai’s stomach grumbled loudly.”

“Same.” Safe leaned forward towards Narai. “Where are we going to eat?”

“Anywhere is good.” Louis also leaned towards Narai. 

“Ooh! Let’s go to the curry restaurant!” Safe exclaimed, slinging an arm over Louis’s shoulder. “Let’s go then. My stomach is like a black hole right now.”

Narai finally stopped writing and put his pencil down. “Since you guys are dumping all the bus stop work-

“Monetary compensation.” The three interrupted. 

Narai stopped, mouthing the words to himself in confusion. “Fine, bribing me to do your work,” Narai corrected himself. “I’m skipping lunch. You guys go ahead.”

Wai, Louis, and Safe scrambled up, though Wai was jerked back by the collar from going anywhere, courtesy of Narai.

“Food,” Wai whined plaintively.

“Did you contact the construction material company to get the cost estimates?” Narai asked. 

Wai flinched and nodded, pulling out a packet to Narai. He dropped the packet on Narai’s desk like a hot bowl of fish soup and fled the classroom. 

Narai picked up the packet and set it aside. “Whoever made up that ‘bros before hoes’ saying obviously forgot to add ‘but drop your bros for curry.’” Narai muttered under his breath while he put his things into his bag.

---

Trusting his feet to lead him to the library while he was absorbed in looking at the bus stop material costs and trying to calculate the budget in his head, Narai was caught off when someone hooked an arm around his neck and dragged him into a small nook and pinned him against the wall. 

“What the fuck?” Narai flailed, nearly dropping the packet on the ground at the sight of his attacker. 

“What the hell is your problem with shoving me against the wall?” Narai glared, the packet disappearing into his bag. “First time was against your door, then the elevator wall, and now.”  

“You did it first.” Dew leaned closer towards Narai and grinned. “But you keep track? Nice.” 

Narai’s face cycled through a variety of emotions before he pushed Dew off of him. “What the hell do you want?” Narai crossed his arms.

Dew mirrored Narai’s crossed arms. “I heard what you said to your friends.”

“And?” Narai said flatly. 

“I want to help you.” Dew offered. 

Narai squinted at Dew, making Dew fidget a bit. “Get me lunch then-”

“I’m not a sugar daddy,” Dew whined. 

“Why do you twist everything I say into something ridiculous like that?” Narai pushed himself off the wall and walked away. “Never mind, just stay away from me.” 

--- 

Dew slid into the chair next to Narai-

And cursed loudly into the quietness of the library.

Dew gave a sheepish apologetic wai to the offended students around him, then reached down to rub his throbbing shin. 

“Damn, such power from a small body,” Dew whispered. 

Narai quietly put his pencil down, a growl rising from the depths of Narai’s throat. “Can you not follow simple instructions?” 

Dew leaned away from Narai in his seat. “I’m staying ‘away.’” After a second, Dew held out a bag. 

Narai’s nose twitched, and he snatched the bag away from Dew and tucked it somewhere out of Dew’s sight. “Bringing food into the library? Are you nuts?” Narai hissed, pointing at the big fat red sign declaring ‘NO FOOD/DRINK ALLOWED IN THE LIBRARY.’

Dew grinned unapologetically in response. "There's also bubble tea in there."

Narai looked back at his paper, pointedly ignoring Dew. After a few moments, Dew pulled at the notebook Narai was writing in. Narai tipped his head back in irritation, the growl rumbling audibly in the back of his throat.

“Is the school board budget not enough?” Dew asked, scanning Narai’s notebook. “What are you spending the money on? A gold-painted bus stop?” He joked.

A killer aura suddenly emanated from Narai as he stood up, slamming his hands against the table and snarling at Dew. The chair Narai was sitting in clattered against the chair behind Narai, making the students around them look up from their tasks at the sound. 

Dew hastily gave back Narai his notebook and laid a hand on Narai’s forearm as if to calm him down, unconsciously rubbing his thumb against Narai’s uniformed sleeve. 

“All right, I’ll go.” Dew meekly let go of Narai’s wrist and walked to Narai’s chair under Narai’s beady eyes, quietly offering it back to Narai.

Narai took the chair back and sat in it, resuming his focus on his papers as the tension slowly melted out of his shoulders. Dew reluctantly walked away, only for a blue flyer to catch his eye. Eco-Innovation Design Contest , it said across the top. 

As he read the rest of the flyer, Dew flashed back to the estimated budget he had read in Narai’s notebook. He looked down and found a stack of smaller flyers, taking one with a happy grin. 

Dew turned around and was about to sit at Narai’s table, and stopped, realizing it was definitely not a good idea to try to confront Narai face-to-face at the moment. Seeing the table behind Narai empty, he edged around Narai’s eyesight and beelined towards the table. 

Sitting the furthermost seat behind Narai, Dew folded the flyer into a paper airplane. Once he finished the airplane, Dew took off his white dress shirt and half-draped it on his head. 

Taking the paper airplane, Dew carefully aimed the airplane at Narai and released it, quickly pulling the pseudo-blanket/dress shirt over his head and curling his arms around his head in a fake napping position. 

He forced himself to relax as he listened to Narai curse and slam a fist into the table, then apologize when some person shushed him. 

Dew listened as Narai picked up the paper airplane and open it. After a few moments, sounds of frenzied scratches of the pencil across the notebook were heard. Under his dress shirt, Dew smiled to himself. 

Untangling himself from his dress shirt, Dew quietly stood up and sneaked away from the focused and absorbed Narai as fast and as casually as possible. Mission accomplished , Dew thought.

---

Narai squinted at the broken-down bus stop, cursing the engineering idiots for not taking down the old bus stop yet. Narai held up his fingers in a rectangle shape, trying to ignore the current bus stop remnants and picture a new bus stop through his finger frame. 

“Boo!” A face suddenly appeared in view.

“Shia!” Narai snatched up his pencil and held it threateningly like a knife. 

“Whoa!” Dew held up his hands. “Calm down, I’m not an enemy.” 

Narai continued to grip the pencil, eying Dew before tucking the pencil behind his ear. “What are you doing?” Narai asked.

Dew plopped himself next to Narai. “Looking for you.”

Narai sighed and took the pencil from behind his ear and sketched some lines into his sketchbook. “Stalker.” 

“Dude,” Dew whined. “I know you can talk to me without insulting me.” 

“I don’t cater to pouty babies,” Narai responded in a flat tone. 

“Ugh.” Dew laid back on the asphalt. “Do you curse out your friends just as creatively as you do to me?”  

“No,” Narai said. 

“Sorry that I’m not your friend-”

“Unless they annoy me.” Narai finished. 

Dew shot up to sitting position. “So am I upgraded to a friend?” 

Narai sent a blank look at Dew. “Hell no. You’re just an annoying acquaintance.”

“Oh.” Dew sulked.

“Oh.” Narai parroted. “Now that you know that, leave.” Narai jerked his head and pointed with his pencil, then resumed drawing in his sketchbook. 

Dew tsk’d and sighed loudly, leaning over to peer at Narai’s sketchbook. Seeing a shadow appear over his sketchbook, Narai flicked his eyes towards Dew and shifted himself and his sketchbook away from Dew. 

Dew leaned back and absently brushed some gravel off of his shoulders, then leaned towards Narai again, placing a hand right next to Narai’s thigh. 

“Seriously, do you want me to leave?” Dew nudged. “You’re just drawing the scene as if there was no bus stop.”

“Exactly.” Narai jerked his head again to where the remnants of the old stop were. “Because you idiots haven’t broken down that, how can I think up of a design when there’s shit in the way?” 

Dew looked towards the old bus stop and closed his eyes, trying to imagine the space without the current remnants of the bus stop. In his mental headspace, he made a recycle bin on his computer appear to the side of the bus stop. A voice broke Dew out of his thoughts before he could mentally throw the old bus stop into the mentally conjured recycling bin.

“Engineers just sign and approve the design,” Narai said, repeating what he had said post-meeting. “You have no idea how tough it is to be creative for architects.”

Dew opened his eyes. “Engineers might not be creative, but we are practical and get things done.” 

Dew stood up and dusted himself off. Dew turned to Narai and held out a hand. “If you don’t believe me, c’mon.” 

Narai looked up. “What?”

"Indulge me. Please na?” Dew pleaded in a soft voice. 

After a few moments, Narai took Dew’s hand, and Dew pulled Narai up. Dew placed his hands on his hips.

“Another way to imagine it is to be someone who actually uses the new bus stop,” Dew explained. 

“How about this,” Dew shifted his weight onto the other foot. “Let’s say we’re friends-”

“No.”

“Wow, so quick to shoot me down.” Dew sighed. “Ok, lovers then.”

Chapter Text

“Another way to imagine it is to be someone who actually uses the new bus stop,” Dew explained. 

“How about this,” Dew shifted his weight onto the other foot. “Let’s say we’re friends-”

“No.”

“Wow, so quick to shoot me down.” Dew sighed. “Ok, lovers then.”

“Wha?” With Dew constantly flirting with Narai, Narai was stunned at Dew’s audacity to suggest that. But it didn’t seem that Dew was joking at the moment like he was before.

“To see the bus stop in a different perspective from an architect or engineer.” Dew clarified. “Let’s say I’m a hot engineering guy and you’re a pretty architecture girl, and we’re in a relationship.”

“And…” Dew shuffled half-crouched sideways and backward towards the bus stop. “...we’re waiting for the bus in the rain.”

Narai crossed his arms defensively. “I’m not playing along.”

“I’m not playing around.” Dew huffed. He held out a hand and gave Narai a beaming smile. “Baby.”

Narai stared at Dew’s beaming expression, then uneasily slid his eyes away from Dew, wondering why his heart was beating fast at the sight of the smiling engineering student. Narai sighed and resigned himself to play along, crossing his arms behind his back and taking small meandering steps towards Dew. 

“Why am I a girl?” 

“Fine then, we’re hot-looking boyfriends.” Dew grinned. Narai stopped walking and stared at Dew. 

Dew sighed. “So picky. Fine, you’re the husband and I’m the wife. Happy now?” Dew groused. 

Narai let out a snort. “What a manly wife you are.” He scoffed. 

Dew rolled his eyes. He padded towards Narai’s bag and picked it up, slinging it over his shoulder. 

“Honey,” Dew whined in a high-pitched voice, ran-shuffled towards the blank-faced Narai with a pouty expression on his face. “My clothes are all wet from the heavy rain!” 

Dew looked down at his ‘wet’ clothes. “Oh no!” He exclaimed, hugging himself. “Other people can see my boobs! What should I do honey?” Dew pouted, twisting his body shyly. 

Narai let a small smile escape, unable to keep a straight face at Dew’s dramatic acting. Narai looked beyond Dew at the ‘new’ bus stop. “How about we go to that bus stop? We can take cover from the rain there.” 

Dew beamed and nodded, his highlighted hair flashing in the street lights. Narai walked past Dew to the ‘bus stop’ and stopped. Dew took tiny shuffles sideways towards Narai. 

“The roof should be…” Narai muttered to himself, tracing the walls of the ‘bus stop’ with his pencil, then looked up and traced an arch with his pencil. “...and curved to keep the rain out. Narai turned to a new page in his sketchbook and scribbled details and lines onto the paper. Dew watched in fascination at Narai’s animated expressions as Narai scribbled furiously in his sketchbook.

“Honey,” Dew whined. Narai looked over. “The rain stopped and the sun is out.” Dew put on a pained expression and rubbed his arms. “Owwww. I’m getting sunburnt!”

Narai walked around Dew and looked up. “Solar panels!” Narai blurted out. Narai scribbled more furiously in his sketchbook as Dew looked on with a faint smile. “To generate electricity for the CCTV camera, lights… and fans. But now we need a generator and battery storage…” Narai rambled. 

“Honey,” Dew whined again, interrupting Narai’s ramblings. “You only care about the bus stop and not me.” Dew crossed his arms and looked away sullenly. “Hmpf!” Dew’s shoulders drooped. 

Narai smirked, then turned around to pick something up from the grass. “Here.” Dew turned his head to see Narai holding out an imaginary object in his fist. “A corpse flower for someone so pretty.” 

A strange expression passed over Dew’s face before he met Narai’s crinkled eyes. “Ai’sat.” Dew mouthed at the beaming Narai. “So there are flowers around here too?” Dew asked in his high-pitched voice.

“Well,” Narai started, going back into his notebook. “It has to be an eco-friendly bus stop if we want to win the Logitech innovation contest.” Narai flipped to another page. “Flowers are an easy way to make the bus stop look nice and eco-friendly, and draw people’s attention to the bus stop. 

Dew tilted his head. “Who will take care of the flowers?”

“For that…” Narai turned back to the ‘bus stop,’ pointing at different spots with his pencil. 

“We need a sprinkler system connected to the drainpipe so no need for someone to water the flowers….” Narai turned to another page in his sketchbook and scribbled furiously. “But now-”

“But now, I’m thirsty,” Dew whined in his high-pitched voice. 

Narai pointed with his pencil, not looking up at Dew. “Drink from the drainpipe.” 

Dew cleared his throat and spoke in his normal voice, albeit a bit scratchy. “Bro, I’m serious. Talking in a girl’s voice makes my throat hurt.” 

“Oh.” Narai stopped writing and tucked his pencil into his sketchbook. He walked towards Dew and reached for Dew’s shoulder, slipping his bag off Dew’s shoulder. 

Dew watched Narai search for something in his bag, pulling out a bottle. Dew’s eyes glittered in delight at the sight of the tea bottle. 

“Here.” Narai held the bottle out to Dew. 

“Can you open it for me, honey?” Dew whined.

Narai rolled his eyes. “What are you roleplaying now? A pretty Engineering girl?”

“Please na? I helped you lots lots lots-” Dew’s voice cracked, making Dew flush red in embarrassment.

Narai snorted at Dew’s voice crack. “Fine.” Narai twisted it open. “It’s open now, darling,” Narai said in a falsetto voice. Dew’s face turned a shade darker at the endearment.

Narai held out the opened bottle. “Let me feed you, darling.” Narai continued.

Dew nodded, eyes alight in childish glee on the bottle. Narai tilted the bottle into Dew’s mouth.  

“Isn’t it refreshing, darling?” Narai beamed, continuing to speak in his falsetto voice.

Dew smacked his lips and beamed back, nodding. “More, please.”

“Of course, darling.” Narai smiled, a glint of mischief lurking his eyes. Narai offered the bottle to Dew again, then right before Dew could drink it again, pulled the bottle away and drank a big gulp himself. 

Chewing on the sweet bits, Narai twisted the cap closed, smirking at Dew’s devastated expression. 

“No…” Dew whined pitifully, hands grabbing towards the bottle. “Honey, I want more.” 

Narai took a couple of steps backwards as Dew stepped closer, eyes fixed on the bottle. “Darling, do you really like this drink that much?” Narai asked sweetly. 

Dew lunged, making Narai curse and turn around to flee, dropping his things (except the tea bottle) on the ground. Narai led Dew around the remains of the bus stop, then in a loop in the street light, then back around the bus stop remains. 

“Why are you running so fast, honey?” Dew teased.

“Because I’m a rugby player, darling.” Narai retorted. “Hey!”

Dew caught Narai, locking his arms around Narai’s waist. They tumbled onto the asphalt, giggling at the ridiculousness of the situation. 

Narai laid back on the asphalt, panting from the chase and looking up in the dark sky. He looked over at Dew, who was looking back with glittering eyes. 

“The hell are you looking at?” Narai said reflexively. 

“You, honey,” Dew answered in a high-pitched voice. 

“Ugh.” Narai rolled his eyes and looked back up at the sky. “You’re impossible.” Narai took another gulp from the tea bottle then tossed it in Dew’s direction. The bottle landed on Dew’s face. “Ow!” Dew yelped. 

“Oh, thanks honey,” Dew said in his high-pitched voice. Narai growled in response as Dew chugged the rest of the sweet drink. 

“Do you like the new bus stop design?” Dew asked in his normal voice.

“Mhm.” Narai let out a non-committal hum. “I need to finish it first. I don’t know if everyone else will like it.”

“They will because I do.” Dew declared, looking at Narai.

Narai blinked in confusion, then turned his head towards Dew. “How can you like my design when you haven’t seen it?” 

Dew grinned and reached over to squish Narai’s cheeks. “Because my honey is so smart.” Dew cooed in his high-pitched voice.

Narai shuddered. “Ai’sat, can you stop that? You’re being fucking cringy now.” 

“My babe is the best.” Dew continued in his high-pitched voice, propping himself sideways to poke Narai’s dimples.

“Screw you,” Narai rolled away from Dew and retrieved his bag and sketchbook. “I’m getting goosebumps because of the contradiction of your girly voice and your big body.” 

“Teehee.” Dew flexed his muscles in a way that always made girls swoon over him. Dew looked up to see Narai turn his head away and walked suspiciously fast away from the bus stop. “Hey, you’re going back to the dorm, right? Wait for me, honey!” Dew scrambled up from the asphalt and chased after the fleeing Narai.

 

Chapter Text

“Coming.” Dew grumbled at the insistent knocking at the door, rolling off the bed and half-walking and half-crawling like a gorilla towards his door. 

Dew peeked through the door peephole and grinned. The grin grew wider as he opened the door. “Rematch?” 

“Ai’sat.” Narai rolled his eyes and whacked Dew with the papers in his hand. “I need your help with the engineering technicalities of the bus stop design.” 

Dew smirked. “What do I get in return?” 

Narai stared dumbly at Dew, then turned back to his own open door. “Never mind, I’ll go ask one of your friends then.” 

“Wait wait wait.” Dew reached over and hooked an arm around Narai’s waist. “Sorry, I’ll help you.”

“Get off you pervert!” Narai squirmed in Dew’s hold and pried Dew’s arm off of him. “The hell is wrong with you touching me all the time?” Narai snapped. 

“You’re fun to tease.” Dew bluntly quipped back. “Anyway, what do you need help with?” He asked seriously. 

Narai eyed Dew’s serious expression before speaking again. “I have this-” Narai shuffled the papers he was holding and held out a cool-looking bus stop design. “-but I can’t figure out how to tuck the wiring and pipe system out of sight to maintain the aesthetic of the design.”

Dew took the paper and examined the design, leaning against his doorway. “Do you have any notes?” Dew asked, looking up at Narai. “I can take a look at these tonight and send them back to you.”

“I have these papers,” Narai answered, “but I can send you digital copies.” 

Dew tilted his head in confusion. “Why not give me what you have now?” Dew tried to grab the papers, but Narai pulled the papers out of reach. 

“I have a presentation with the Logitech people tomorrow afternoon; I’m not showing them my notes with your messy writing all over it.” Narai snapped. 

“I’ll come with you then.” Dew grinned. 

“No.”

“Aw, c’mon,” Dew whined. “We’re supposed to be the project leaders of the bus stop design. You can’t just have a presentation of the design without me, the other project leader.”

Narai was silent, though Dew could see that Narai was teetering on the edge of saying yes. “Also, I can explain the engineering bits.” Dew added.

Narai sighed. “Fine. I’ll send over what I have so far. Use your engineering brain and finish what you have by tomorrow morning so I can look over it.” Narai said, and turned back to his room. 

“Hey wait,” Dew protested into the empty hallway. “How are you going to send me stuff when you don’t have my email?” 

Dew’s phone buzzed and let out a muffled ding in his pocket. Dew pulled his phone out and found a new message from Narai. He opened the notification and cursed. 

“How the fuck am I supposed to work when the files are on my phone and not on my computer?” Dew demanded into the empty hallway. “Oh wait, unless I can get the chat onto my computer or something…” Dew turned and went back into his own room, bee-lining to his computer. 

---

Narai walked up to the small reception desk next to the elevators and smiled at the lady at the desk. 

“Sawasdee krub. I’m here to present a project for the-” Narai checked the paper he was holding. “-the CSR Department on the 30th floor.” 

“Of course.” The receptionist smiled. “May I have your ID card?” 

“Sure.” Narai pulled out his ID card from his shirt pocket and handed it to the lady. 

Narai watched the receptionist scan the ID card, then hand it back to him, along with a visitor pass. 

“Are you here with your friend?” The receptionist asked as Narai was putting his ID card away.

“Huh?” Narai looked up in confusion. 

“Yes, I’m the friend.” A voice said next to Narai’s ear. 

“Chaotic colleague.” Narai corrected, turning his head to lay his eyes on an unnecessary close-up of Dew’s face, though Narai noticed Dew had dark circles around his eyes. Narai insistently nudged Dew away from his invisible personal space bubble.

“Of course. ID card please.” The receptionist smiled, ignoring the by-play between the two.

Dew pulled his ID card out of somewhere, handing it to the receptionist. She scanned Dew’s ID card and handed Dew his own visitor pass.

“Thank you,” Dew said to the receptionist as Narai walked towards the elevators and clipped his pass on his shirt

“Whoa, wait for me, will you?” Dew hurried towards Narai as Dew tried to clip his pass and walk at the same time. 

“You’re late,” Narai said flatly. 

“I pulled an all-nighter to work on the project, then I accidentally took too long of a nap right before coming here,” Dew yawned. “Sorry, still a bit tired. But if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t know about the contest.” 

Narai scrutinized Dew. “That was you?” 

“Say ‘thank you.’” Dew yawned again. 

Narai sighed and stopped, nervously tucking his shirt more in the back. “Thank you.” He muttered. “If you’re tired, you can leave now.” 

“Hey, wait.” Dew sped up and blocked Narai from the elevator buttons. 

“You can’t do it without me with all that engineering mumbo jumbo.” Dew crossed his arms. “I’m also your lucky charm.”

Narai rolled his eyes. “More like a jinx.”

Dew smirked. “A jinx can’t be this hot.” He wiggled his eyebrows. 

“Really? Mr. Hot Jinx forgot to press the elevator button when touching it.” Narai shot back. He pushed Dew to the side to press the elevator button. 

“Oops.” Dew sheepishly scratched his neck as the elevator dinged open. He followed Narai into the elevator, yawning, and leaned against the elevator wall while Narai tucked himself in the corner. 

The elevator was close to full when some woman rushed into the elevator. “Sorry,” she said, while the others begrudgingly got closer to each other to fit in the elevator. Jostled by a person next to him, Dew scooted closer towards Narai and ended up pressing up against Narai. 

Narai gave a near-silent huff at the intimate contact. “You don’t need to squish all up against me,” Narai muttered to Dew. 

“Hmh.” Dew sleepily grunted. The ambiance of the elevator and the heat coming off of Narai through his dress shirt were lulling Dew to sleep. 

Narai quietly grunted, watching Dew’s eyes flutter close as Dew leaned more heavily against Narai. Dew’s head lolled against the elevator wall, and Narai snaked an arm around Dew’s waist to prevent Dew from falling over.

Narai warily watched as the others in the elevator, but thankfully they didn’t notice Narai’s predilection. Oddly enough, all of them got off the 12th floor, and the elevator rose towards without any stops to the 30th floor, dinging every time it reached another floor. 

As the elevator got closer to the 30th floor, Narai nudged Dew.

“Hey.” Getting no reaction, Narai pinched Dew’s side. 

“Ow.” Dew cracked his eyes open and found the elevator empty except for him and Narai. 

“We’re here,” Narai said. “You good?”

“We’re here?” Dew said dazedly. He turned his body and leaned back into something squishy. 

Narai groaned under the weight of Dew, torn at the thought whether Dew had done it on purpose or by accident. 

“You are one heavy fucker.” Narai pushed Dew off and reached into his bag, pulling something out. “Open your mouth,” Narai demanded.

“Ah.” Dew hazily opened his mouth, then spluttered, nearly spilling the liquid on his shirt. 

Narai dangled a tea bottle in front of Dew’s now less sleepy eyes. “Stay awake. You’ll get the rest after our presentation.” Narai proclaimed, grabbing Dew’s arm. “Let’s go.” He dragged Dew out of the elevator. 

---

Two hours later, two dressed up students tumbled into the elevator with big grins on their faces. 

“See I told you I was your lucky charm.” Dew leered at Narai. 

Narai kicked Dew in response and pressed the button to the lobby. “No, it’s called doing research and being smart.” 

Dew winced, rubbing his leg against the cool elevator wall. “By the way, how did you know they were going to approve our project? They asked for the paperwork but you already had it on you.”

Narai stalked slowly towards Dew. “What?” Dew asked warily. 

Narai gripped the back of Dew’s head and forced Dew to turn to the cheery-looking flyer in the elevator. “That. If you bothered to check, the company is trying to branch into eco-friendly projects.”

Narai released his grip on Dew. “They’ll get results by the end of the month when we finish building, and we get enough money to build it. Win-win all around. They would be stupid to not reject it.”

Dew rubbed his head where Narai had gripped it. “Ow, my hair. Why do you treat me like a dog?” Dew complained. 

“‘Cause you act like one.” Narai flatly shot back, tossed the tea bottle to Dew, who eagerly caught it. “Getting up into people’s space, being way too affectionate, nosy, and cheery around people. Tell me that’s not dog-like behavior.” Narai said.

Dew grinned back at Narai and smacked his lips, trying to chew loudly on the sweet bits. Narai leaned against the elevator wall and ignored Dew. 

The elevator dinged open on the lobby floor, and they went out. After returning the visitor passes back to the receptionist, Dew and Narai stood outside the building, squinting in the sunny Thailand weather.

“So,” Dew tipped the tea bottle entirely upside down, sucking at the last drops of the sweet liquid. “Where are you going now?”

“Home,” Narai said curtly. “You should too if you’re tired.” 

“Nah.” Dew bounced around the unimpressed Narai. “I have too much energy now. Come with me to celebrate for getting Logitech to sponsor our bus stop project.” 

Narai looked suspiciously at Dew. “Where?” 

Chapter Text

“This is your way of celebrating?” Narai scoffed at the jittery Dew. “Bingeing on sweets while hanging out in the mall?” 

After the meeting with Logitech, Dew had dragged Narai to a nearby mall then proceeded to - well, the less said about how the other people in the mall were staring at their bags stuffed with sweets the better. 

To be honest, Narai thought Dew would drag him to the bar for a drinks celebration, not to a mall. Narai tried not to think too hard that it was like some sort of date.

Once arriving at the mall, Dew had bee-lined to the candy store and proceeded to fill his basket to the brim. Narai on the other hand grabbed a few products that he and his sugar maniac family members might like. 

The candy store owner recognized Dew and proceeded to add more candy free of charge to Dew’s and Narai’s (seeing that Narai was with Dew) purchases to both boys’ protests. They eventually caved to the owner’s insistence despite the fact that the amount of free candy was way more than what they had bought. 

Dew then dragged Narai around the mall, slowly chipping at his stash of candy (by eating it obviously) while bouncing from store to store, looking through the glass and chattering away at Narai about the things he could see through the glass. 

To be honest, Narai only followed Dew because he was amused by Dew’s child-like expressions and behavior that resulted from Dew’s sugar-high.

Dew was also careless of the fact that he was dropping pieces of candy as they kept slipping out of his bag. And like the sugar monster that Ma had turned Narai into, Narai totally was not discreetly palming some of Dew’s dropped candy and stuffing it into his own bag. Like some twisted version of Hansel and Gretel story that Nan once mentioned. 

“I don’t see you complaining though,” Dew grinned at Narai. 

Narai grumbled under his breath, chewing on a chewy milk candy as he watched Dew attempt to toss a candy wrapper into the trash can a couple of feet away. He snorted when Dew missed. 

“Hey look!” Dew jumped up and down like a little kid towards a brightly lit store. “A music store! There’s so many instruments.” 

Narai growled, picking up the discarded candy wrapper still on the floor and dropping it into the trash can.

Narai caught up to Dew, who was bouncing on his toes on the threshold of the store. “I wish I could play.” Dew mimicked strumming a guitar. Narai rolled his eyes.

The music store owner turned around as Dew dawdled deeper into the store. “Hello. We just restocked our inventory, so there are some new products up. If you don’t find what you want, you can pre-order from our catalog and do in-store pickup as well.” 

The music store owner then turned to Narai. “Oh!” The person’s face brightened. “You’re back!”

“Sawasdee krub.” Narai wai’d the music store owner. Dew banged on a drum, making Narai turn around slightly and grip Dew’s arm to prevent him from making any noise on the drum.

“Sawasdee. Actually, we got a delivery today and I haven’t sorted through the packages yet. Your guitar might be in the pile if you want me to check.” The music store owner informed. Dew decided to bang on the drum with his other hand, making Narai release his grip on Dew’s arm and whack the back of Dew’s head. 

“Sure.” Narai dipped his head in acknowledgment. He whacked Dew’s head against when Dew banged on the drum the third time. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Wait here.” The music store owner disappeared into the door at the back of the store.

Narai turned around and crossed his arms at Dew.

“If I buy this drum kit, do you think my dorm neighbors will yell at me?” Dew grinned cheekily at Narai.

“No idea.” Narai retorted sarcastically. “I know that someone in the opposite room will definitely complain. Why don’t you buy a mute one?” 

“I have one at home.” Dew popped another candy into his mouth and crunched loudly on it. 

Narai whipped his head around to look at Dew. “What the hell are you doing? Don’t eat in the freaking store!” Narai hissed. 

Dew tilted his head, crunching on the candy innocently. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Because I don’t want to get your grubby hands on the instruments.” 

“But the candy taste yummy!” Dew offered Narai his hands. “Wanna try?” He wiggled his sticky fingers.

Narai whacked Dew’s head again. “Hell no, I’m not licking your fingers.” Narai lightly drummed his fingers on the snare, then turned to look at the guitars hanging on the walls. 

Dew glared petulantly at Narai and stuck his fingers into his mouth to clean them.

“I want pets, not whacks,” Dew mumbled around his fingers. 

“What did you say?” 

“Why are you buying a guitar?” Dew asked out loud. 

“Because I can play it, duh,” Narai drawled.

“Huh?” Dew had an adorable confused expression on his face.  

Narai ignored Dew, lightly plucking at the out-of-tune strings of one of the guitars. Dew pouted and turned to look out in the mall, sneakily popping candy into his mouth. 

He then turned to look out of a music store and saw two familiar figures through the music store window.

“Shia!” Dew grabbed Narai and manhandled the caught-off guard Narai behind a pile of guitar amplifiers. “Hide!”

“The hell are you making me hide too?” Narai hissed, nearly sprawling on the ground at the force that Dew pulled Narai down to squat on the floor.

“Uncle Mek and Cho are here,” Dew whispered.

Narai turned to Dew in confusion in recognition of the names, then peeked out from around the cube-like amplifiers at the figures staring into the shop. Dew yanked Narai out of sight. 

“How do you know Uncle Mek? And Cho?” Narai asked questioningly. 

Dew turned to Narai. “You know Uncle Mek and Cho?” 

“You didn’t answer my questions.” Narai deflected. 

“They’re-”

A voice spoke from outside the shop. “Cho, stop staring. Let’s go.” Uncle Mek said.

Narai peeked over the top of the amplifiers and watched the two figures leave. “You can move now,” Narai said.

“I can’t, Cho might see me,” Dew whispered nervously. 

Narai rolled his eyes. “I mean scoot over. You know that there’s a thing called personal space, right?” 

Dew peeked out from the side, then practically burrowed himself into Narai’s side. “Cho’s back,” Dew whimpered. Narai peered from the side.

“Cho.” A voice, Uncle Mek, warned. 

“I kinda want a guitar-” Cho started.

“Later.” Uncle Mek said curtly. Narai watched Uncle Mek drag Cho away. Before they were out of sight, Cho caught Narai’s eye and waved. Narai’s face reddened slightly at the memory of when he met Cho. 

Narai heard scratching at the door, indicating that Wai was at the door. Narai sighed and padded towards the door and opened it. “Ai’Wai, how many times do I-” 

Narai blinked at the sight of the stranger that Wai was clinging to. “Who are you?”

“Cho.” The person answered. “I don’t know what’s happening, but can you please ask him-” Cho jerked his head at Wai “-to let me go?” 

“Pretty eyes.” Wai purred, rubbing himself against Cho. Cho sighed exasperatingly as if he was used to Wai’s antics.

Narai startled out of the flashback at the sound of Dew sniffing at Narai’s clothes. “Cho’s gone, what now,” Narai asked flatly. 

“You smell good,” Dew said giddily. 

Narai’s eye twitched and he pushed Dew off, making Dew and his candy sprawl onto the floor of the music store. 

A bit dazed, Dew looked up at Narai. “I like your scent. Do my laundry!” 

Narai sighed and crouched to pick up the fallen candy. “Does sugar make you high like you’re on drugs? Fucking psycho.” 

Narai stood up and dropped the candies into Dew’s lap. “Dew the delusional dog,” Narai drawled, “I don’t smell good, it’s just that you smell. Clean up after yourself.” Narai stalked out of the music store while Dew sat confusedly on the floor, absently putting the candy back into his bag. 

After a few moments, Dew’s glazed eyes turned back to normal, and he blinked and shook his head. He blushed in embarrassment at the ridiculous things he did to Narai while he was drunk on the sugar high and sugar crash. 

Now Dew remembered why candy was his guilty pleasure - it made him high like a kite, which felt awesome, but at home, it resulted in a lot of blackmail material for Rose and Cho to threaten and make fun of Dew with. The candy store was truthfully one of his family farm’s clients that he had met before, but seeing Cho earlier made Dew suspect that Cho had somehow bribed the candy store owner to give Dew more candy. 

Dew stood up and patted himself down, wondering why Uncle Mek was with Cho. He tensed at the commotion, thinking who was then looked up at the sight of the music store owner bursting out of the backdoor in glee, carrying something with him. 

“Nong, your guitar- aowh.” The music store owner blinked at Dew. “Where did your friend go?” 

“Friend?” Dew echoed confusedly.  “Oh. He left.” Dew pointed out through the door. 

The owner handed a rather large box to Dew. “Would you give this to your friend? He bought this guitar.” The owner asked.

“Uh…w-why me?” Dew stuttered.

“50% discount on any one product if you give it to him safe and sound.” The music store owner declared.

“Deal.” Dew grinned and gingerly held the box against his chest. “Can I take a look at your inventory of drum sticks?”

Chapter Text

“Hey, why did you call us so early? I like my beauty sleep, thank you very much.” Safe complained. He perched on the branch Narai was sitting on, making the branch bend under the weight of two people. 

Narai popped something into his mouth and crunched loudly down on it. Narai then looked over a Safe, licking his lips, leaving a faint sheen of syrupy red on his lips. 

“Is that candy?” Safe asked, trailing his eyes down from Narai’s smeared lips to the plastic candy bag Narai was holding. “Gimme-”

Narai held the candy bag out of Safe’s reach. “Later. Candy is not breakfast.” Narai scolded. 

“Yeah? Then what’s that?” Safe shot back, gesturing at Narai’s mouth while he jumped a branch to try to grab for the candy bag. 

“Unlike you, I already ate breakfast.” Narai retorted. “Here.” Narai tossed a breakfast container at Safe, making Safe diving to catch it before the container went kaput. 

“Ai’sat, don’t throw food around like that!” Safe whined. “What would happen if I didn’t catch it?”

"Your food, your problem." Narai retorted. Safe grumbled under his breath. 

Louis arrived at the tree next, weaving through the tree branches and sprawling on the branch above Narai. He reached down to ruffle Narai's hair and promptly got smacked in the head. 

“Oh no, I just lost some of my precious brain cells,” Louis muttered sarcastically.

“‘Precious,’ my ass.” Narai thrust a breakfast container at Louis. “You lose more ‘precious brain cells’ in fights than getting smacked by me.”

Louis took the container from Narai. “Pretty sure it’s the opposite,” Louis mumbled under his breath. 

“What did you say?” 

“Nothing.” Louis shoved a forkful of eggs into his mouth. “Where’s Wai?”

Narai shrugged and grabbed a half-melted candy from his candy bag. He rolled the candy around on his fingers, frowning at the resin-like residue that stuck on his fingers.

Wai popped in front of Narai and grabbed Narai’s wrist. He wrapped his mouth around Narai’s fingers and the candy. 

“Shia!” Narai snatched his hand back and glared at Wai. Wai unabashedly grinned at Narai and stuck out his tongue, the candy innocently lying on top. 

“Yuck,” Narai grimaced. He wiped his dirty fingers on Wai’s shirt, making Wai scrunch up his face in protest. 

“Here.” Narai handed Wai the last breakfast container. Wai snatched the container and retreated to another nearby branch, practically inhaling his food. 

“So why did you call us here early?” Safe asked. 

“The bus stop design-” The trio covertly edged away from Narai. “-got approved, so all we need to do is to order materials.” 

“Ooh! What’s it look like?”

“Later.” Narai dug through his bag and pulled out a couple of sheets of paper. “Wai, this is for you. Order the materials from that place you went before as soon as possible.” Wai stared suspiciously at the papers before snatching them out of Narai’s grip and disappearing.

Narai blinked confusedly. “Did Wai just take that literally?” 

Safe snorted. “It’s not like we have any classes this morning, and you did say ‘as soon as possible.’”  

“Why did you call us here if you just needed to give that to Wai?” Louis asked. “You could’ve just texted all of that in our group chat.” 

“You got free breakfast, didn’t you?” Narai retorted.

“That’s not the point,” Safe argued. “You get us breakfast anyway.”

Narai shrugged. “Since we’re helping with the construction, we should probably scout the dead bus stop this morning to see if the engineering students broke it apart yet.” 

“Us help with the construction?” Safe asked quizzically. “We’re also doing the construction?”

Narai sighed exasperatedly and stepped down through the branches. When he passed by Safe, he whacked Safe on the back of the head. 

“Ow!” Safe whined, rubbing the back of his head. 

“Don’t think you can get away with doing nothing, you lazy night owl.” Narai scowled. “ Collab project between Engineering and Architecture Department. Didn’t I tell you last week to recruit other architecture students to help build the bus stop?” 

Safe opened his mouth, then closed it. “I forgot.” He muttered contritely. 

“Better get started on recruitment.” Narai retorted, then passive-aggressively swung down through the branches down to the ground.

Louis slipped down to sit next to Safe, slinging an arm over Safe’s shoulder to rub Safe’s head comfortingly. 

Safe absently fed Louis a forkful of fruit. “Sometimes he’s such a mother hen,” Safe muttered quietly. 

Narai’s voice drifted through the branches “I heard that! No candy for you!”

Safe growled under his breath and threw a middle finger down to the ground. Louis tapped Safe’s shoulder, making Safe over at Louis. 

Louis put his fingers up in a ‘shush’ motion and revealed a handful of wrapped candy in his fist. Safe took half of the mini candy pile in Louis’s hands, grinning bashfully back at Louis. He rubbed his head against Louis’s in thanks.

---

Louis circled around the broken down bus stop while Safe picked up a set of broken fluorescent lights. 

“After a week it’s still fucking here.” Narai growled. "They could at least put up a caution sign." Narai kicked the loose metal roof tile, making a banging clatter as the tile knocked against metal. 

“Maybe they’re trying to see if this stuff can be sold off.” Louis suggested. 

“From what I can see, selling it can eke out two meals,” Safe commented. 

Narai scoffed and crossed his arms. “Barely that much. Who the fuck bought these materials in the first place? Looks like they just grabbed this out of a junkyard." 

"Except the plants," Louis added helpfully. 

A deep growl rose from Narai’s throat. “Fuck the bus stop. Fuck the plants. Fuck Engineering-”

“You talking who now?" A familiar voice interrupted.

Narai rolled his eyes and turned his head to see Dew leading his friends and a small blob of navy blue jacketed engineering students. 

Narai took a tiny step forward as Dew and his entourage stopped in front of the trio. “Do you want to finish that insult?” Dew challenged. 

“Why don’t take that apart instead?” Narai shot back, gesturing at the broken bus stop next to them.

In response, Dew unslung some sort of sign over his shoulder and stabbed it into the dirt between them. 

Narai looked down at the sign, which said Bus stop built by Engineering students .

“So boring and narcissistic,” Louis muttered. Louis stepped forward and pulled the sign out of the ground while Safe passed Louis a marker. 

“Hey!” The engineering students pressed towards the trio, making Dew hold the mass of blue back while Narai snarled threateningly and glared the engineering students to submission. 

“Done,” Louis announced, slamming the sign harshly into its original spot - albeit backward. The sign sank deep into the ground, with the top of the sign was ending up a little above a kheup above the ground. “Sorry, I used too much strength.” Louis uttered flatly. The engineering students backed up from Louis/the trio at the show of strength. 

Narai crouched down what Louis had written -

Pavilion of Peace: Engineering/Architecture Students

Meanwhile, Dew flicked his eyes at the three architecture students. “What happened to your other minion?” 

Narai stood up and pointed at Safe and Louis. “You mean them?”

“Hey!” Safe protested. 

“He means cat boy,” Korn blurted out.

Narai, Safe, and Louis blinked and slowly slid their eyes towards Korn. 

“Is that supposed to be an insult?” Safe muttered out of the corner of his mouth to Louis. “Because that’s technically true.” Louis shrugged. 

“Why? Are you looking for Wai?” Narai asked.

“No no no.” Korn backpedaled, unnerved by the three pairs of eyes staring at him. “ Hell no.”

Narai exchanged looks with Safe and Louis, then looked back at Korn. 

Narai looked at Dew. “The design got approved, so we need to talk. Bring your personal minions and have your other minions have a go at that mess.” Narai jerked his head at the fallen bus stop.

“Who are you calling ‘minion?’” Mo demanded. 

Narai pointed at Dew. “His words, not mine.” Narai turned around and walked away with Louis and Safe at his heels. “Let’s go.”

Dew shooed his friends towards the trio while he barked orders at the others. Once he was done, he hurried after his friends, hoping that a fight didn’t break out. 

---

“Where are we going?” Chang muttered.

A gaggle of architecture students turned the corner and warily watched Dew’s and his gang following Narai, Louis, and Safe. 

Narai waved off his classmates, and they continued on, ignoring the engineering quartet. 

“This is the only time you’ll be able to be on architecture territory.” Narai revealed.

Narai veered towards a staircase and took two steps at a time. Louis jumped up and balanced on thick ‘handrail’-

“Louis,” Narai warned, continuing to take two steps up the stairs. Louis shrugged and jumped back down and caught up to Safe on the stairs. 

Dew and the gang walked towards Narai, who was scattering different papers all over a picnic table. Louis slid onto one of the bench seats next to the standing Narai and sprawled his arms over the table. Safe leaned on Louis’s shoulders to peer at the papers on the table, then walked to the column and leaned against it. Mo sat opposite Louis and picked up a paper to scrutinize the contents.

Chang looked down over the ledge out onto the peaceful green open space scattered with dots of red-jacketed architecture students. “This is part of the architecture territory?” Chang asked. “Fuck, if I knew they had sick digs, I would’ve enrolled into architecture instead of engineering.” 

Korn whacked Mo on the back of the head as he passed the picnic table. “Traitor.” Korn hissed, walking over the column opposite of Safe. 

Mo scowled and turned to Korn. "Why are you hitting me? Chang said that, not me." 

"You were closer." Korn bluntly replied.

Dew went to the table and shuffled the papers around before stilling in the empty space on the table. Opposite from Dew, Narai propped his foot on the bench. 

"The design is approved, so we're in the process of ordering-mphf!" Narai started.

A figure suddenly appeared, hugging Narai around the waist with one arm and sticking a sheaf of papers directly in front of Narai's face. Narai grabbed at the papers and whacked the intruder (Wai) before scanning the papers. Wai pouted and went to lean against the railing between Safe and Korn. Korn stared suspiciously at Wai, his hackles rising at the proximity of the enemy.

"Never mind. Here's the timeline of when the materials will arrive." Narai slid the new sheaf of papers to Dew. "Are you OK with that?"

"No problem," Dew replied. "The professors mentioned that for the construction stage, they will check in twice a week on our progress. I’ll let them know that we’ll start soon."

Narai let out a noncommittal hum. “Then the next step is to assign work. We need to set up teams of both Architecture and Engineering students.

“Engineering and Architecture?” Korn peeled himself away from the railing and approached the table. “Wasn’t it just our department’s job to build the bus stop?” 

“If you’re so smart, why don’t you figure out that architecture mumbo jumbo and do it yourself?” Wai jerked his head at the papers on the table. “You’ll obviously fuck up the design somehow by yourselves.”

“What do you mean ‘fuck up?’” Korn turned to Wai, going chest-to-chest with said architecture student. “You don’t trust us to do it right?”

Narai untangled himself from the picnic bench and held Wai back from Korn while Dew did the same. 

“Whoa, calm down,” Dew commanded, tightening his grip on Korn.

“I didn’t ask for your help.” Korn snarled at Wai, pulling against Dew’s grip. “You meddled in our business.” 

Wai let out a wordless snarl. “It’s not all about you. Do you want to do less work or not?”

Louis, Safe, Chang, and Mo quickly stood up defensively as the tension rose between the two groups.

“Easy,” Narai muttered at Wai. 

Korn turned to Dew. “Are you seriously asking us to work with them?”

Dew looked at Narai, then Mo and Chang, then back at Narai. 

“Our professors and deans are overseeing the project. We already got Professor Pichai breathing down our necks from before this project started.” Dew said. “If we don’t work together, the others are going to smell something fishy about the situation.” Korn grumbled and crossed his arms grumpily. 

Dew continued. “We'll be separate teams. No crisscrossing of departments.” Narai silently nodded in agreement.