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Christmas I.O.U

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Tin walked into the function hall with the unsettling feeling of all eyes on him. It wasn't an unusual feeling, it was just that normally the eyes that watched him had a shade of fear in them. Which Tin assumed happened to every boss.

But right now the staring was coloured with amusement and if he wasn't wrong, with anticipation. In that moment Tin regretted agreeing with his best friend and business partner that a work Christmas function was a good idea. Everyone seemed to have had far too much to drink and, based on the amount of food still on the trays going around, not enough to eat.

Moving through the room Tin noticed more than one of the women watching his step as he weaved through his employees. Finding Pete, Tin wasn't surprised to see Ae pressed to his side. He was however surprised to see that Ae had chosen to wear one of the suits he had designed. He would never admit that he had designed it with the shorter man in mind. But it thrilled Tin that it fit perfectly.

Ae looked taller and more dignified. Most importantly he looked comfortable and at ease accompanying Pete. While Pete shone brightly on Ae's arm, like he could never imagine a happier place to be.

Grabbing a glass that passed by on a tray, Tin walked up to Ae and Pete greeting them just as the head of Human Resources took the stage.

"Doesn't everyone look absolutely amazing this evening!! Being that we work for Thailand's number one fashion label I would hope so!!!" Pond's voice rang out with excitement that bled into others.

"Thanks to our two very generous bosses" Pond pointed at Pete and Tin "we have had a glorious year with the label entering the world market, the company opening up a staff wellness clinic with full time personal trainers to keep us all healthy. Not to mention our fearless leaders being GQ bachelors of the year" Tin saw Ae press in closer to Pete.

He could be wrong but Tin was sure he felt the women closest to him take a half step in his direction.

"Now I hope everyone is ready with their gift because we are going to do a random draw. Here is how it's going to work" Pond nodded to two servers who came up onto the stage carrying large glass bowls filled with folded bits of paper.

"Soon these bowls will pass by you. Make sure to grab a slip of paper out of one of them. On it will be the name and department of the person who will receive your gift" Pond shot a smile at the crowd as they all seemed to shift a little uncomfortably.

"Your job is to find them and something out about them once you do. This is to give you a chance to break out of your insulated team box and meet others within the company" Pond glowed as a wave of disgruntled murmurs moved through the crowd.

Tin glanced around to see that everyone had a gift ready, everyone except for him. He hadn't been told that he needed to bring a gift. Not that he would have known what to bring anyway. Shooting a look at Pete, Tin could see that he was avoiding his eyes. Tin guessed that Pete was meant to tell him and had obviously forgotten to do so.

Deciding not to worry about it, Tin figured he just wouldn't bother grabbing a slip of paper. It's not like he needed to meet his employees, he had been the one to interview them all anyway.

Tin's lack of worry was short-lived when Pond called him and Pete to the stage. Shooting Pete a look that made it clear he was going to kill him, Tin approached the stage looking unimpressed.

"Thanks for the heads up about bringing a gift," Tin said under his breath in a sharp tone.

"Sorry, I was just so excited I forgot to tell you" Tin could see the guilt on Pete's face crumbling the annoyance he felt over the situation.

Getting up on to the raised platform Tin turned to the audience feeling the unsettling gazes on him once again. Looking over his employees there seemed to be a hunger in the eyes of some, and for the first time since he had started the company, Tin shifted uncomfortably under the gaze of his employees.

"Now before we send the bowls out into the crowd our handsome leaders will get the first draw" Tin fought the urge to slap himself in the face at Pond's statement.

Now flanked by one of the severs with the large glass bowl Tin dropped his hand in and picked the first piece of paper that brushed his fingers.

"Oh, I got Good, head of Public Relations" Pete's happy tone rang out and the crowd began to part as Good made his way through the people and onto the stage.

Looking at his own paper Tin swallowed down his nerves. If it wasn't bad enough that he didn't have a gift to offer for this Christmas gift giving event, he had drawn the worst possible person to get in that moment. Reading over the name again to make sure he had read it right, Tin let out a resided huff "Can, personal trainer in the wellness clinic"

A few loud cheers went out as people applauded. Tin was surprised to see the popular trainer in a suit. He had only ever seen him in gym gear, but he liked the look of one of his designs on his crush.

Tin had been so lost in watching the way the suit clung to Can that he hadn't registered the fact that Can was in front of him. Or that everyone was watching to see what Tin would give him.

"Are you okay Mr Medthanan?" Can's quiet question woke Tin and sent him into a panic.

Pete watched as Tin's tongue seemed to be tied and his cheeks bloomed with an unmistakable redness. Moving closer to Tin's side Pete offered Can a sweet smile "Tin wasn't aware of the gift exchange, so how about he gives you and I.O.U for a favour"

Tin could almost kiss Pete for the save but he was once again distracted by Can as his face seemed to move through a range of emotions as he thought about the offer. "What is the limit to the favour?" Can asked as he still thought through the offer.

"Anything" Tin's reply came out deep but soft, surprising all three of them.

"That is a very generous gift Mr Medthanan" Can's contemplative expression turned teasing as he held out a hand for Tin to shake.

Tin was hesitant to accept it. He knew it was ridiculous but he felt like he had lost a game he wasn't aware they had been playing. At the whispers and murmurs that began to rise in volume Tin quickly clasped Can's hand and with reluctance let it go.

Leaving the stage Pete barely hid his amusement as he said quietly so that only Tin would catch it "you will eventually have to learn how to talk while you are around him if you want to go on a date with him"

Tin's stride stopped mid step as he turned an angry glare on his best friend "you're fired" Tin's words were clear and carried to the people around them who turned to look or step out of the way as Tin stormed across the room.

"You can't fire a business partner" Pete called out to Tin's retreating back.

*****************************

Sitting in his office the next day Tin wished he had been able to get more sleep. But everything kept playing in his head refusing to let him sleep as his embarrassment mounted. From standing in front of his crush unable to think or speak. To trying to fire Pete; all of it made him feel like an idiot.

Laying his head on his deck Tin could feel the tendrils of sleep pulling at him. Drifting, Tin let his mind wander to one of his most visited daydreams. One where he was alone in his office, much like this morning, when Can overrun with his desire for him would storm into his office and declare Tin as his own.

The soft smile that filled Tin’s face at the idea didn't leave even as he felt a gentle hand shake his shoulder. Lifting his head Tin was met with the face from his dream, only it was etched with worry not the confidence he had been expecting to see "are you alright Mr Medthanan?"

"I like it better when you call me Tin" Can's hand snapped away from Tin's shoulder at the sulk in Tin's voice.

"Mr Medthanan, I think you might still be asleep"

Can's words broke through Tin's sleep haze, forcing him to sit up and really look at the fact that this Can was looking at him like he was concerned for his health. Not like he was ready to sweep him off his feet. Jumping up Tin almost fell over his chair.

"How did you get in here?" Tin snapped instantly regretting it when Can's face filled with a frown.

"I used the door" Can said, stretching out each word like he was unsure he should say them.

Rolling his eyes Tin inwardly cringed that his default when he was nervous was to jump to the offence "I get you came through the door. Why did my secretary let you in?"

Can took a step towards the door, if he needed to leave in a hurry he was going to make sure he would make it. "ChaAim said it was okay"

Dropping himself into his chair Tin looked at the ceiling "of course she did" he mumbled knowing very well that she had overheard Pete teasing him many times about his crush on Can.

Looking over at Can he could see he was another step closer to the door "I didn't request personal training so why are you here?"

Can tugged at the hem of his shorts "I did wonder why you stopped our personal training sessions, did I do something wrong?"

Tin wanted to pull him into his arms and apologize for making him question his ability to do his job. He had been a great instructor but Tin had formed a crush hard and fast and was finding it difficult to have Can help him with his form when they were both hot and sweaty without giving himself away. Trying to hide his embarrassment Tin raised a questioning brow at him "that's what you came here for, to get me back into personal training sessions?"

"No!" Can's voice came out a little loud as his hand shot up into the air in front of him "I came to ask you for that favour"

Tin was legitimately surprised that Can had been intending to bank it in at all. He had thought that he was just being gracious when he had told Tin it was a generous gift. Looking at the nervous man Tin could almost see the pedestal he had put him on, and began to wonder if it was maybe a bit too high.

"Not even twenty four hours, are you sure you want to use your I.O.U so fast?"

Can could see something strange pass through Tin's eyes but he couldn't concentrate on that. He needed to get his request out before he lost all his nerve. Balling his hands into fists the words fell from Can's lips so fast he wasn't sure he understood what he said "I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend in front of my parents this Christmas"

Tin stood blinking at Can.

Feeling like he wasn’t going to get a response without explaining himself, Can rushed to explain "my parents kept bothering me about dating so I lied and told them I was seeing someone. When they pressed me as to why I hadn't told them before the only thing I could think of was because it was a guy. So now they want me to bring my boyfriend home for Christmas” Can dropped his eyes from Tin’s “but I don't have one”

Can took a deep breath before he continued “and you said that the I.O.U favour could be anything and I really need help to get through this, or I will have to suffer through my little sister teasing me about not being able to get a boyfriend and I don't want to deal with her smug fac-"

"Yes" Tin forced out once he was finally able to form words, cutting Can off mid ramble "yes, I will be your boyfriend"

A heavy silence hung between them.

"Pretend boyfriend" Tin corrected, hating that he had to add the word 'pretend' to the title.

"Are you sure? It would mean spending a couple of days at my parents house" Can's hopeful voice had Tin completely taken in.

"Sure, I mean, it’s no prob-. Wait, did you say a couple days at your parents house? As in, we would be sleeping under the same roof?" Tin hoped he didn't sound too hopeful and if he had, he hoped that Can hadn’t noticed.

Nervously scratching at his cheek Can's eyes dropped back to the floor "we will have to share a room" feeling Tin's eyes burning into him Can's nervousness doubled "don't worry I'll sleep on the floor"

Tin laughed under his breath. Today was the first time he had seen Can nervous and he found it cute. The way Can constantly needed to do something with his hands, be it pull at his clothes or tug on the end of his hair or scratch at his cheek. It just made Tin want to kiss him. But that could have been because he just wanted to kiss him anyway.

Tin could feel himself growing excited, he was going to be spending Christmas with his crush as his boyfriend, pretend or no. He would be with his crush, this would be his chance to get Can to see him as boyfriend material. And if Tin played his cards right, possibly get Can to like him back "come back at the end of the day so we can discuss the logistics"

 

No matter what he did, Tin couldn’t distract himself from getting to meet Can after work, just the two of them, to discuss how they were going to be spending Christmas together. Tin was excited about the coming days and about the chance fate had given him. Knowing that Can’s family was made up of four people including Can, Tin had decided it would only be appropriate to get them gifts. Seeing as how he was not only going to be staying in their home but also because he was imposing on their family get together. That would be the excuse he would give Can if he objected to the designer handbags he ordered for Can’s sister and mum.

Can’s father was a different matter. Tin had always found it harder to decide on gifts for older gentlemen, but settled on pulling out one of his finer bottles of scotch, even if the man didn’t drink he could appreciate the gesture of being gifted properly aged alcohol. Now he just needed to find the perfect thing for Can…..because it would look odd not to have a gift to present his boyfriend on Christmas. Half joking and maybe a little more than half serious Tin looked up a jewellery site for one of his favourite boutique designers. The couples ring section was just as divine as the rest of their works.

Floating through the site, lost in a daydream of presenting them to Can at a quiet candle lit dinner, Tin didn’t hear the knock on his office door. Just as his daydream got him to the point of him slipping the ring on Can’s finger, he was about to lean in for a kiss when a voice right next to him snapped him back and made him jump.

“What’s the plan? Give him one and hope he doesn’t notice the matching one on your finger” the self amused laugh that followed evaporated any embarrassment Tin would have felt at Pete’s words.

Annoyance primarily taking over “maybe I was going to get them for you and Ae” Tin said a little smug.

“Good thing I know that isn’t true” Pete said unimpressed as he rolled his eyes. “Anyway I just came to see what time we should be expecting you to drop by on Christmas day”

“Oh” Tin stared at Pete. He had completely forgotten that he had accepted what he was sure was a pity invite from them. “Actually I won’t be able to make it, I’m sorry, can we reschedule?”

Pete raised a brow at Tin, who Pete was sure was trying for an apologetic look but couldn’t seem to pull it off. “You want us to reschedule Christmas?”

“Ha ha ha Pete, you know that’s not what I meant. I will have to reschedule dinner with the two of you. On the upside you don’t have to deal with me ruining your happy couple Christmas celebrations”

“You won’t be ruining anything” Pete rushed out, but Tin could tell he was doing it because he thought Tin was just trying to give them a him free holiday.

“It’s okay Pete. You and Ae are wonderful friends to have me over so that I wouldn’t be alone. But I won’t be able to make it now, I kind of made other plans”

“What other plans? Please don’t tell me you’re going to work the whole time instead”

“No, I kind of made plans with Can” Tin said, now wishing they had moved away from his desk because the website of couples rings seemed to be flashing at them, pointing out what a hopeful idiot he was.

Pete struggled to process what Tin said. He couldn’t even count the times he had teased Tin about his crush on the personal trainer after Tin had come to him, having a major freak out over his feelings for Can. It wasn’t until after he helped him understand what he was going through that the teasing started, but now Pete felt guilty. Thinking Tin was so overworked and sleep deprived that he had fallen into a fantasy and hadn’t woken up, Pete gave Tin a sad smile.

“Oh my god!” Tin pushed his chair away from his desk and stood so that he was eye to eye with Pete “how pathetic do you think I am?”

“No Tin, it’s not like that. It’s just that you have had this crush for around eight months and since you worked it out you have barely spoken to him. So it’s a little unbelievable that you would now have Christmas plans with the guy” Pete tried to take a step towards Tin but his agitated friend took a step back “and your looking at couple rings”

“For your information I was looking at the rest of the site first. I was placing an order for some accessories, you just happened to come in when I was looking at the rings out of curiosity. And if you don’t believe me ask Can yourself. It’s a favour thanks to that I.O.U you volunteered me for because you forgot to inform me we were doing a gift exchange” Tin picked up his phone off the desk and headed for the door. He needed some fresh air to cool his head. He hadn’t known he had been acting so pathetically, but based on Pete’s reaction he was a mess.

Pausing by the door Tin looked over at Pete “at least now you won’t have to ruin your holiday by entertaining your pathetically single friend” as Tin slammed the door shut he knew it was all over kill but he was hurt by Pete’s apparent impression of him.

Despite the guilt he felt over how he handled the situation, his anger still ran red hot. By the time he stomped out the majority of it on the pavement, he had managed to walk to the store he had ordered the handbags from, picked them up after the clerk insisted on gift wrapping them, and got back to the office. Once he was back at his desk he was reminded of the fact that he still needed to find a gift for Can.

 

Can sat on one of the weight benches looking at the clock, he still had fifteen minutes left of his shift and a knot of nerves in his stomach that had been growing all day. He didn’t know why he had decided to tell Tin that lie, but it had worked. Now he just needed to hope that nothing would blow it for him.

He had liked Tin’s strong and proud attitude when they had first met. Some people he had met wore their pride as a shield or as a weapon, using it to knock others back or down. But Tin's was worn as a badge of honour, something he had earned after a lot of hard work and he used his pride in himself and his company to pull others up. That was what made Can so interested in him.

When Tin started training with him, that’s when the interest turned sexual. Can had thought he had done a good job of hiding it, but as suddenly as Tin had started training with him he stopped. With no indication that he would start up again. So when Tin called out his name at the staff event Can had been over the moon and knew he hid it poorly. Especially when Tin told him he could have anything.

Can had thought of asking him to be his boyfriend, but having him be his boyfriend out of obligation didn’t feel right. And now sitting, waiting for the clock to tick down he regretted telling Lemon everything. Because it had been her stupid idea to do the whole fake dating thing. Lemon had sold it to Can as a way for him to show Tin what he would be like as a boyfriend. Get him to want to date him. But Can had laughed at her for how silly it was.

But that morning on the way to work he just kept thinking about it. He couldn’t shake how stupidly genius it was sounding the more it rolled around his head. Before he knew it he was in front of Tin’s office door, about to get fired or get a fake boyfriend for Christmas.

The moment the clock ticked over to five o’clock Can was out of the health centre and in front of Tin’s office door again. Can raised his fist about to knock when the door to Tin’s office swung open. Suddenly Can’s wrist was in a tight grip as he was getting dragged into it by a very nerve strung woman “what took you so long?” Can didn’t move to respond, too confused by the situation.

“Where is the file, don’t tell me you came without the file. Do you not understand simple instruction?”

Tin’s patience with the head of marketing snapped “I think you should take another look at who you are chastising. That is Can from the wellness centre, my five o’clock appointment and the end to me humouring you. Now I promise if you get the proposal on my desk tomorrow by 9am I will review it and give you a response before we shut down for the rest of the year” Tin’s words came out carrying all the authority his position granted him. Leaving the frazzled woman in no doubt that there was no room for her to push her luck.

 

Can watched as she gave an understanding nod and left, leaving the office door open. Turning back to Tin, Can could see he was exhausted. Thinking back on the fact that he had found the man sleeping on his desk that morning it wasn’t surprising “did you want to do this another time?”

Tin wasn’t sure if he looked angry, tired or over the day. Truthfully he was all three but he didn’t want to miss this chance, “I want to do this over food, I missed lunch and I am starving”

“You shouldn’t skip meals” Can said on reflex. As a personal trainer he was often managing people’s diets more than their workout routines. But after a long day of people trying to explain away their excessive eating and drinking to him as ‘that time of year’ Can had gotten tired himself. He didn’t care that they wanted to indulge, they just had to realise that there would be consequences. But even as the words came out Can could hear the disappointed teacher's tone in them.

“Wow already acting like a concerned boyfriend, looks like you’ll fool your parents easily” Tin said with a smile as he grabbed his stuff and turned off his computer “let’s go, there is a really great Japanese place around the corner and I am now craving ramen”

Can followed behind Tin slowly processing what Tin had said. Had he really sounded like a boyfriend? Can had been so distracted he hadn’t noticed that they had walked to the restaurant until Tin was pressing a menu into his hand.

Awkward silence filled the time between them ordering and their food arriving. Tin’s tongue frozen behind his teeth, like it was prone to be since he realised his feelings. Can still trying to puzzle through if he had really sounded like a boyfriend and if so had it been a step too far.

It wasn’t until both had pleasantly full stomachs and a drink or two more than they normally would in a social situation for the conversation to flow and to get to the matter at hand. Them dating for Christmas.

“So what story do your parents know?” Tin asked, curious about how Can had sold their relationship.

Can’s cheeks flushed a little “that we have been together for almost a year” Can paused for a moment before rushing out “and we are talking about moving in together”

“Into my place, I’m sure” Tin said as he hid his smile behind his glass.

Not catching the teasing smile Can sat straight and glared at Tin “why your place, what is wrong with my place?”

“As my boyfriend you would have seen my penthouse apartment with a balcony pool, near the heart of the city. I’m sure your place is nic-”

“It’s a crap hole. You win, we will move into your place…..tell me more about this pool” Can lent on the table resting his chin on his hand.

Tin almost melted at the way Can’s eyes glazed over in a dream “how about instead of telling you, I show you”. Can tilted his head confused, reminding Tin of a puppy “my place isn’t far, why not come see for yourself” Tin didn’t wait for Can’s response, instead he got out of his chair, paid the bill and walked out of the restaurant not even glancing back to check if Can followed.

On their walk through the busy streets Can kept close so that he didn’t get lost and so that they could keep up their conversation without others listening in.

Can scratched at the back of his head as a ball of nerves tightened in his stomach “I called my mum on my lunch break to confirm that we would be there for Christmas, she asked if we could be there the day before. I told her I would have to check with you”

“We close on the twenty second, so we can be there on the twenty third if you want” Tin’s replay rolled off his tongue like it was nothing. Like this kind of conversation was commonplace between them.

Can stopped walking, almost getting walked into by the person on the street behind him “really?” Tin grabbed Can’s arm and pulled him out of the main thoroughfare “would it really be okay to go for so many days?

“I don’t see why not. We are closed from tomorrow afternoon until the second of January. We could stay the whole time if you wanted” Once again Tin didn’t know why he couldn’t hold his tongue. He had planned to spend some of the break working in uninterrupted peace. He didn’t know why he was just throwing that away until he saw how happy the offer had made Can, then it made sense. He would offer Can anything to make him happy.

“That’s so nice of you but I don’t think I could even deal with my whole family for that long, I couldn’t ask you to” Can smiled and got them walking again.

“I thought you loved spending time with your family” Tin wanted to slap himself at this particular slip of the tongue. If Can decided to concentrate on Tin’s words it would give away just how much Tin already knew about him….. If Tin were honest, how much he had stalked Can.

“I do, but that’s just when it’s my mum, dad and sister. This will be aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, whoever chooses to come” Can said, watching Tin to see how he was going to take this small (huge) surprise.

“It will be good to meet them before the wedding I guess” Tin said flippantly, starting to feel more at ease around Can as they walked into his apartment building.

Can head snapped back towards Tin, previously a little distracted by looking around at the flashy lobby of the building “what wedding?”

“I don’t know how far you are going to take this” Tin made sure Can caught his teasing wink as they entered the lift.

As the lift started to rise, taking them to the correct floor Can crossed his arms and pouted “we aren’t getting married”

The ding announced their arrival and Can lost his pout as his face morphed into surprise as they stepped into Tin’s apartment. It was massive with an open plan kitchen, dining and lounge room. The far wall all windows looking out onto the mentioned balcony and pool looking onto the city.

“The bedrooms are upstairs, along with a study” Tin said waving a hand at the stairs that obviously lead to the second floor while he headed towards the kitchen “I’m going to have a drink did you want one”

“Sure” Can’s eyes hadn’t left the pool as his steps carried him to the door that would take him outside “I’ll have whatever you’re having”

Can was at the edge of the pool looking into the crisp water when Tin appeared at his side pressing a drink into his hand “why don’t you take a swim? You obviously want to”

“Can I” Can’s eyes shone with excitement for a moment before they clouded over “I don’t have a suit”

“You’re wearing underwear aren’t you?” Tin said with a wicked grin “or you could swim naked. I am your boyfriend, after almost a year, was it?, I would think I have already seen it all”

Can’s cheeks flushed and his heart thundered in his chest at the way Tin’s voice dripped with suggestion. “I could be saving myself for marriage” Can tried for a joke but it came out a little defensive.

Tin slammed back the last of his drink, half regretting bring Can home “shame we aren’t getting married than”

Head buzzing from the alcohol, Tin sat his glass on the ground stripped down to this underwear, pausing for a moment before dropping them too and jumping into the water.

Coming back up out of the water, Tin pushed his fringe back. Wiping the excess water from his eyes Tin heard the telltale splash of Can joining him.

“Holy crap this is amazing, when I grow up I’m going to get a place with a pool” Can’s joyous voice rang out, wrapping around Tin and putting a smile on his face.

“When you grow up?” Tin asked, raising a brow at Can, having to slowly turn on the spot as Can swam circles around him.

“Let me dream Tin, let me dream” Can paddled along, enjoying the feel of the water on his skin.

As they two swam slow circles, stealing glances of each other’s naked forms, they discussed the plan. Early on the twenty third Tin would pick Can up from his apartment and head to the Kirakorn family Christmas. It would be a few hours of driving, just the two of them, before they reached their destination.
**********************************

 

Tin had floated through his day remembering the way Can looked happily content just floating around his pool. Even as he looked over the marketing team’s plan, memories of drinking and floating with Can swam through his head. Tin had always thought the inflatables for the pool were stupid, but imagining Can relaxing on one made Tin see the merit in them.

Tin was deep into a newly constructed fantasy of cooking for Can on a barbecue on the balcony while his boyfriend lazed about in their pool when Pete stuck his head into his office and tentatively suggested they close business earlier to let people go home to their families. Tin agreed and wished Pete a Merry Christmas. As an olive branch to help mend the current crack in their relationship, Tin told Pete to pass on his seasons greetings to Ae and told him that he hoped they had a wonderful time together. Pete watched confused as Tin wasted no time in walking out of his office and moved through the halls and away from him.

Walking through the building Tin could hear the excitement as Pete had obviously released a company wide email sending people home to be with their families. Coming into sight of the wellness centre Tin came to an abrupt stop.

Can was helping an obviously besotted girl move through stretches. Loosening off his tie, Tin unbuttoned the top of his shirt and tousled his hair.

Walking in Tin lent against the wall near Can and the girl “you’ll make your lover jealous if you touch others so freely”

Can held in a snort at his clients literal squeak “good thing I don’t have a lover”

“That hurts Can” Tin fanned hurt, placing a hand over his heart “you asked me to be your boyfriend just yesterday morning and now you act as if I am nothing to you, are you already sick of me?”

Hearing the sharp intake of air from the girl next to them Can turned to her "he is joking" turning back on Tin, Can gave him a frown "tell her you're joking"

"So you don't want me to meet your parents?"

Can's eyes instantly narrowed into a glare, but was met with a teasing smirk and raised brow. Rubbing at his own brow Can got the feeling he had bitten off more than he could chew asking Tin for this favour "why are you doing this to me?"

"What do you mean darling?" Tin stilled his features into the best look of innocence he could muster, trying not to laugh, as he ignored the girl while her eyes jumped between them in disbelief.

“Don’t do that, you are going to make people misunderstand” Can snipped though the laugh he had to fight down stripping the seriousness he had tried to convey.

Tin stepped up to Can leaving less than an inch between them. Feeling Can's breath hitch Tin pulled in a steadying breath of his own "would you mind giving us some privacy?" Can furrowed his brow confused until Tin turned to the girl still watching them "please"

Can gave a soft snort at the girl in her hurry, almost tripped over her own feet trying to get away after blushing at the forced smile Tin had put on.

Seeing a genuine smile pull at Tin's lips at seeing the girl scurry off Can had to fight down the desire to pull the man, he had been crushing on since he started working for the company, into a kiss “you’re enjoying this aren’t you?”

“What can I say, being your boyfriend sure has its perks" Tin's smile grew as Can ducked out of the way to get some distance between them.

Once he was sure he wouldn't be able to reach out and pull Tin to him Can relaxed a little "I noticed when you used to do personal training that you had this teasing side of you. How come you don't show this side of you more often?"

The smile instantly fell from Tin's face "I don't know, I guess I just don’t really feel comfortable showing people”

“You have never had a problem driving me crazy with it" Can's words were said with a light happy tone. But the weight of them hit Tin hard. “When you do talk to me” Can added under his breath.

Deciding to take a chance Tin took in a calming breath "I feel like I can be myself around you"

Can stopped packing up the equipment that his client had just been using “why is that?”

Can’s question came across as innocent curiosity, making Tin once again sure that he could trust him “I don’t know” Tin offered Can a half smile “but I will have this Christmas to work it out” Tin could feel his heart thudding in his chest with panic and adrenaline over how Can would react.

 

Tin could feel himself rushing around in his excitement to pack, but even though he tried to slow himself down it didn’t work. How could he, when early in the morning he would take the bags he was packing now to his car, pick up Can and head off to their Christmas together.

Checking through his bags Tin checked off the list in his head of the things he would need. Changes of clothes and underwear, bathroom supplies and odds and ends for his own comfort. Looking through his second bag Tin hoped that Can wouldn’t be mad at his getting Can’s family Christmas presents. He had also landed on a gift for Can but wasn’t sure if he would have the nerve to give it to him.
************************************

Tin had thought he would feel tired not having gotten much sleep but he was running on pure excitement, reminding himself that speed cameras exist every time he felt himself creeping past the speed limit. Finally pulling up outside Can’s apartment building, Tin forced himself to calm down. About to get out of the car to fetch Can, Tin was surprised by the sudden knock on the passenger side window.

Looking over Tin saw Can’s happy smile as he motioned for Tin to open the boot. Pressing the button, Tin heard the click of the boot lock releasing. Before Tin could unbuckle his seat belt Can was already dropping into the passenger set, clad in exercise gear like every other day.

About to offer his greeting to his boss, come pretend boyfriend, Can’s words stuck in his throat. The only time he had seen Tin out of a suit was when he had been in his training sessions with him, but now he was in a pair (of what Can assumed would be very expensive) jeans and a simple tee shirt with a black and gold design running down one side of his body. Tin looked good in a suit but there was something about him in casual clothes that was alluring.

Snapping back to himself Can offered Tin a smile “good morning Mr Medtha- I mean Tin” Can corrected himself sounding so unsure.

Chuckling Tin nodded “it’s going to be odd if you call me Mr Medthanan, so Tin is better. I will need to remember to call you Can, instead of Instructor Can”

Tin started the car and had just pulled away from his parking space when Can’s amused voice carried over to him “or I could just call you babe”. The car jolted to a stop as Tin jumped on the break making Can worry that he had taken the joke too far.

A little shaken but completely happy about the affectionate name, Tin looked at Can to find him looking worried “if I’m babe then what do I call you” Tin made a show of thinking it over as he began moving the car again “sugar or snookums”

“What about precious?” Can offered though the way he scrunched his nose made it obvious he was only playing along.

“Oh how about princess?” Tin said knowing Can would hate it.

“No, I don’t need to give my family any more imagery of you being a prince. What about darling?”

Tin was a touch taken aback by the change to a serious Can. They were actually picking out pet names, something he would get to use affectionately with Can. “Honey” Tin said with an air of certainty.

Can gave a stiff nod “okay, I’ll call you babe and you’ll call me honey” Can looked down at his hands now that he realised he had been clenching them in his lap “this is a bit weird isn’t it? I’m sorry I dragged you into it, you must have had other plans” Can’s eyes suddenly grew wide with shock as he turned to look at Tin’s side profile as he concentrated on the road. “Oh my god, you probably had plans”

“Can it’s fi-”

“It’s Christmas, how could I not have considered that you would have plans”

“It’s fine I didn’t ha-”

“Maybe you can still make it, you don’t have to ruin your Christmas to help me”

“HONEY!” Tin’s yell finally broke through Can’s babbling “I didn’t have anything special happening. I was told if I wanted to go into the fashion industry that I wasn’t welcome home”

“What?” Can sounded almost affronted, Tin just wasn’t sure if it was at him or for him until Can seemed to move passed his anger enough to verbalise his thoughts “that’s fucking bullshit, you have made a name for yourself and even if you hadn’t they should have supported your dreams”

Tin was surprised to see Can cross his arms in anger and throw himself against his seat.

“Don’t let it bother you Can, I’m happier with the family I have made then I was when I was with my biological family”

Can didn’t look happy about the situation but let it drop at Tin’s insistence.

Getting outside of the city Can seemed to cheer up “my parents used to live closer but after my sister Lemon and I finished school they sold their place and bought a small farm so they could relax and have some peace and quiet”

“I was going to ask if you were a farm boy when you sent me the address last night” Tin said, glancing at the GPS to find they still had just over two hours before they were set to arrive.

Can seemed to be thinking about the idea of growing up on a farm “I don’t think I can pull off the farm boy look”

“I don’t know, there would be some people who would find the idea of you rolling around in the hay quite attractive”

The charged silence that followed Tin’s words was only broken by the growl of Can’s stomach, causing Tin to let out a quiet snort of amusement.

“There are some simple sandwiches in the cooler on the back seat” Tin had barely finished his sentence when Can was practically climbing into the back to retrieve the small ice box.

“You made sandwiches? I didn’t think that the drive was that long”

Tin knew how Can was with food, he knew more about Can than he would let on to the man himself. As such he had thought that even on a three and a bit hour trip his companion would get hungry. “I didn’t eat breakfast and I thought it would be rude to eat in front of you so I packed enough for both of us” Tin was thankful for his forward thinking when he received Can’s shining smile.

 

"It's up here on the right" Can’s excitement was obvious as they pulled onto a dirt road that would be the last stretch of the tip.

Tin smiled as they approached a sizable looking farm house with a deck wrapping right around it. Seeing the people all around Tin heard Can’s annoyed groan. Looking back at his annoyed companion, Tin was worried something had gone wrong in his directions “what’s wrong?”

“Mum told me that the relatives wouldn’t be here till tomorrow”

Tin held in his laugh at seeing Can stuck between annoyed and panicked “don’t worry my dear boyfriend, I will make sure everyone believes I am in love with you” Tin hoped his teasing tone would cover the truth in his words.

Pulling the car around the back like Can directed, it didn’t pass either of their attention that everyone relaxing in the front garden had stopped what they were doing to watch the sleek black car go by.

Climbing out of the vehicle Tin went to retrieve their bags amused by the fluffy dog that barrelled into Can as he got out of the car. Watching fondly as Can roughhoused with the fluffy monster Tin couldn’t stop the smile that filled his face. Feeling overwhelmed with the desire to crouch down and pull Can into his arms he hadn’t noticed the two girls watching them.

“I take it that this is Prada” Tin said, fiddling with their bags and slinging them over his shoulder to stop himself from reaching out to the hyperactive mess.

Smiling brightly Can turned to Tin giving him a happy nod. The happiness on Can’s face hit Tin like a freight train, leaving him struggling to breathe.

This trip was going to be harder to get through than Tin had anticipated.

Lost in trying to get his lungs to work again he jumped at the sudden voice “hey little cousin, did you want to introduce us to your friend?”

Can’s fast reflexes didn’t fail him, getting him quickly between Tin and the two girls that were intent on advancing on them. Tin took in the stark difference between them. One wouldn’t be any taller than Can, with glasses and long hair styled in an old fashioned hairstyle much like Can’s. While the other looked to be a little taller than Tin, with long hair on one side and shaved on the other with an ear full of earrings.

“Not until you promise to keep your hands to yourselves?” Can said, placing his hands on his hips, making himself look bigger than he was.

“Little Cantaloupe, I highly doubt you keep your hands to yourself” the taller girl said, raking her eyes over Tin who shifted to press himself against Can.

“Wait” Tin’s amused voice carried over them “Can is short for Cantaloupe?”

Can turned on the spot to look at Tin, worry and seriousness mixed in his expression “what have I got to do to scrub that from your memory”

Tin’s raised brow reminded Can that Tin had quite a mischievous streak. Eye’s falling shut Can waited for what was going to happen “we are going to need some privacy and possibly loud music for what I would require as payment to pretend that I never heard about your name”

Can’s eye snapped open as he felt Tin’s arm wrap around his waist and pull him in. Shoving his hands in front of Tin’s mouth Can silently hoped he hadn’t been to rough with his boss “let’s go put our bags inside”

Tin smiled at the growing red of Can’s cheeks “that keen to get me to forget your name is Cantaloupe?”

“Tinnn” Can let out a whine that just made Tin want to tease him more “please, I’m nervous as it is”

Can's confession shocked Tin into compliance, letting himself be dragged into the house and up to their room, somehow not running into another soul as they went. Watching Can put their bags on the end of the bed and checking that they had everything they needed. Tin wouldn’t have guessed that Can was nervous. But now that he knew he could see the cracks beginning to show.

Stopping Can from checking the same cupboard for what felt like the tenth time Tin pulled Can into the empty space at the foot of the bed “Can” Tin’s soft voice pulled Can’s wandering mind to him “what’s going on? Why are you so nervous?”

“We were meant to have a day with just my mum, dad and Lemon so that you could get used to the crazy that is my family before the rest of the asylum got here” Tin could kiss the man in front of him (he could any time really, but this was different). Tin hadn’t anticipated that Can’s nerves had been over Tin’s own comfort.

“Thank you Can, it means so much that you wanted to make things more comfortable for me. But are you forgetting that I run a business, I can handle myself with a crowd of strangers” Can’s shoulders seemed to sag as the tension he had been carrying left him.

Giving Tin a faux confident smile, Can took Tin’s hand and slipped his fingers between Tin’s. Using their clasped hands Can pulled Tin towards the door.

“Besides I’ll have you at my side, what could go wrong” Tin’s words warmed Can as they headed down towards his family.

Tin hid his amusement at the way Can dragged him past enquiring family members obviously on a mission to find someone in particular.

Coming to a stop at a raucous table filled with smoke, alcohol and playing cards getting slapped down as cries, cheers and angered lament filled the air. Can laid a hand on the shoulder of a man who stopped the progression of his glass on its way to his lips. Turning slightly the man did a double take as he placed his glass back down. In one sweeping motion the man was on his feet pulling Can into a crushing hug that Can could only return with one arm as the other was still connected at the hand to Tin’s.

“My boy is finally here, it’s good to see you son” Can’s father let him go as he began looking around and past Tin “where is she?”

The happily asked question confused Can. With a tentative squeeze of Tin’s hand Can kept his voice even “where is who?”

“Your girlfriend. Your mother said you were bringing her this year”

Tin could feel Can freeze next to him. With a little effort Tin managed to unlink their hands and offered his now free hand to the man in front of him “nice to meet you, I’m Tin Medthanan”

The man in front of him looked confused for a moment as he reached an unsure hand out and shook Tin’s. As if the motion of shaking hands cleared away the confusion, understanding dawned on the man’s face “that’s right, Apple did say that she was a he” the man let go of Tin’s hand and began rubbing at his chin while he seemed to size Tin up.

Giving a curt nod the man turned to look at Can “are you sure he is your boyfriend, he looks more handsome than someone with your looks should be able to catch”

Tin felt a flash of anger rip through him. He didn’t care if this man was his future father-in-law, he couldn’t insult his boyfriend like that. “I assure you, it was Can that made me work to get him to agree to date me”

Can hid his amusement at Tin getting defensive for him “I look like this because of your genetics, so if you think I’m not handsome enough than neither are you” Can shot back as he grabbed one of Tin’s belt loops and pulled him back a step so that he was at his side again.

“When did my little boy get to be so feisty?”

“There is nothing about him that is little” Tin hadn’t meant to say the words out loud, but they spilled past his lips in a loud enough mumble that everyone at the cards table, Can and Can’s father were looking at him stunned.

Can narrowed his eyes at his sheepish looking boyfriend. Then realised Tin must have taken a look, much like he had, when they were swimming in the pool at Tin's apartment.

Awkwardly clearing his throat Can’s dad gave Can a satisfied grin “that will be thanks to MY genetics”

Can just rolled his eyes before dropping his head into his hand.

“If you’re done meeting your future son-in-law Oak, we have a game to finish” Oak waved the man’s words away before turning to the table to pick up his near empty glass and drained the last of it.

“Let’s go get a drink and I’ll introduce you to the family Tin” Oak barked out a laugh before dragging Tin away from the table.

 

Tin had tried his best to remember people, but he could have sworn they were never ending and in a defence mechanism he had developed in college, every time he heard a girlish giggle his brain shut down. Can felt bad for dropping Tin into the middle of his extended family, and worse when he realised that most of his cousins were missing. At the first opportunity Can guided Tin away from the noise and bustle of the people. Slipping into the empty laundry room Can quietly shut the door and let the quiet settle in for a minute.

“Sorry, this is way more than I thought I was asking of you. If you want to leave now I can make up an excuse” Can looked bashful and a little downcast as he gave the offer to Tin.

“I told you that you can have anything Can, and I meant it” Tin pulled Can in front of him and dropped his head on to Can’s shoulder “plus it’s not all that bad, your mum was so lovely and getting to watch your uncles and aunts try to piece together our relationship dynamic is very amusing. I even heard one of them ask which one of us is the girl”

Tin’s amused words soaked into Can, soothing some of his worry. Placing a hand on the back of Tin’s neck he absentmindedly started rubbing at the smooth skin “did you see my sister’s eyes almost jump out of her head when you called me Honey”

Tin let out a heavy huff as Can’s fingers worked on a knot at the junction of his neck “do you think your family likes me?”

“If they don’t already, I’m sure they will” Can said as he pushed through and worked out a kink in Tin neck earning him a light moan that Can felt run into the tips of his fingers and travel down to the tips of his toes.

“What are you two doing?”

The sudden noise caused them to jump and break apart like they were kids busted doing something they shouldn’t have been.

“We were just talking” Can said, though he could still feel the heat in his face.

“In a dark room, with your hands on each other? I heard what you were doing”

Tin wanted to tell the woman in front of them to fuck off but held back as he worked on making sure that the troubling in his head didn’t explode into a full headache.

“Do you think your mother would be proud of you if she knew what you were doing”

“What were they doing?” Apple’s voice carried over, surprising all of them.

“We were just talking” Can’s voice carried his annoyance as his aunt’s face twisted ready to argue.

“They were in the laundry room with their hands all over each other”

“I just needed a bit of a break, I’m not used to these kinds of gatherings” Tin hoped he had said the words calmly but he was sure they would have had a bit of bite to them. Suddenly Tin felt the world shift, like everything was warping for a moment before snapping back to normal. When his vision cleared the sounds around him flooded his ears as if they had been amplified.

“They were moaning”

Tin wanted to moan his lament. He didn’t get why they had to defend themselves.

“As their clothes are still on I’m going to assume it was innocent” Apple said and shot Can a wink “but as this is my house if the boys want to have a moment together in any room they see fit it’s really not up to you to chastise them as if they are children”

Tin’s mind started to feel foggy but he wanted to give Apple a hug for standing up for them.

“And since your youngest recently got herself knocked up in the backseat of a car, I don’t think you have any right to police other people’s children. So how about you leave my boys alone and get back to helping with preparing lunch” Can’s surprised laugh was shushed by his hand slapping over his mouth.

Once his aunt had gone, Can turned to Tin to find him rubbing at his temple as a deep crease formed in his brow. “I think I need to lay -” Tin stumbled forward, only not falling to the ground because of Can’s steady arms holding him up.

“Come on, I think it would be best if you lay down” Can’s words sounded distant as Tin felt himself being moved around and guided by Can.
*********************************

The next time Tin opened his eyes he found the tall girl from when he arrived sitting next to his bed bent over a book that seemed to have all her attention. Seeing the glass of water on the bedside table Tin pushed himself into a sitting position and gulped it down. It was then that Tin realised that he had ended up dehydrating himself a bit, on top of his sleep deprivation catching up to him. The part he found ridiculous was that Can had made him feel so relaxed that it all caught up with him.

“Hey sleepy head, you had us a bit worried. Good thing aunty Apple used to be a nurse” Tin had looked over at the girl as she spoke to him but her eyes hadn’t lifted from her book.

About to ask after Can, he had only got the first syllable out when she held up a finger to quiet him. With her other hand she moved down the page. Tin watched as she got to the end, dropped a bookmark in and closed the book. “Sorry just wanted to get to the end of the page”

Tin nodded his understanding “um, why are you here?”

“Cantaloupe wanted to be. But the aunties insisted that he join them for dinner” the thought of food made Tin’s stomach grumble “he didn’t want you to be left alone so he asked me to keep you company in case you woke up”

“I’m sorry you got pulled away from your family to sit beside my bed” Tin said as he started to stretch out his limbs.

“Don’t be, I don’t actually enjoy these kinds of events, so having a reason to sit in a quiet room to read is a blessing to me” hugging her book to her chest she gave Tin a smile.

“I better go apologise to the hosts” Tin said, peeling back the blankets while silently hoping there would be some food left.

“Hold on a second, I have already sent a summons to your white knight”

No sooner were the words white knight said then the sounds of someone thundering up the stairs and down the hall were heard. In the next moment the door to the room swung in and Can was framed by the doorway “how do you feel, are you okay? Do you want to go to the hospital?”

Tin felt stupid that he felt happy at Can’s worry “I’m fine now, I’m sorry I guess I have been pushing it a little hard lately”

“Lately, try all the time. You need to stop working so late and start eating proper lunches. You’re always the first one in and the last one to leave. If I didn’t see you in different suits I would say that you slept in that office of yours” Can’s worried but serious look was in full force, but all Tin could concentrate on was the fact that Can knew. That meant Can had been paying attention to him.

“Do you two work together?”

The two men had forgotten she was still there. Can gave her a sheepish look “thanks Peach, for watching over Tin for me”

“Yeah, yeah, now answer the question. Do you two work together? Because I thought Can was a fitness instructor” Peach looked a little confused.

Can scratched at his cheek, looking unsure how to answer the question.

“Well Can is a subcontractor at the company, so unless that contract gets cancelled we do” Tin said with a shrug trying to keep the answer vague. They hadn’t discussed what they were going to tell Can’s family about their work situation but now regretted not having done so. He didn’t feel comfortable lying to them because on the off chance that things worked out between them he didn’t want to have to back track and remembering lies was too much effort.

“Oh my god, an office romance. You two are just so cliché” Peach hugged her book closer “what do you do for work Tin?”

Tin was grateful that Peach had watched over him and she seemed to be quite nice, but his hunger was getting the better of him and if he didn’t get food soon he would snap “can we discuss this over food, I’m starving”

Slipping down stairs Tin found dinner was still going on. The chatter slowed the consumption of food and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Tin followed Can to find a half eaten plate in front of one chair and a large pot, sitting upside down in front of the other. Seeing Can pull out the chair in front of the pot for him, Tin gave him a soft smile and sat down.

Accepting a glass of water from Apple, who Tin only just spotted was sitting in the set next to him, he was about to inquire about some food when Can lifted the pot to reveal a plate full of delicious smelling food. Tin’s mouth instantly flooded with drool at the smell of the meal in front of him.

Seeing Tin looking tentative Can dropped into his own seat after getting rid of the pot “dig in Babe”

Tin smiled at Can “remind me later to thank you for this” Tin took the opportunity to lean in and pressed the lightest kiss on Can’s cheek.

Tin had managed to get through just over half of his heaping plate of food before he started leaning towards Can to get some help clearing it off. As they nibbled and picked at the food on Tin’s plate they listened in on the conversation flying around the room as a passive aggressive competition started amongst the parents in the room.

--“our boy just bought himself an apartment”--

Staying out of it Tin and Can kept their heads down as the parents compared the achievements of their children. Rolling his eyes at the stupidity of it all Tin lent in towards Can “do you think you and I would be able to sneak away for a walk”

--“Well my eldest is marrying a dentist”--

Nodding his agreement to Tin’s idea, Can took a drink of water “it’s really nice weather for a walk and the moon is bright so we wont need torches” quietly the two pushed their chairs back only to hear themselves be pulled into the fray.

--“I guess unfortunately for Apple and Oak there won’t be grandchildren to carry on the family name”--

A murmur of agreement went around that was met with a scoff from Tin “I really think the decision to have kids is up to Can and myself. Should we choose to go down that path I would be more than happy for them to carry the Kirakorn family name”

The aunty that had caught them in the laundry room earlier let out a small obviously forced laugh “no matter how hard you try, two men can’t have a child together”

“Well there is always surrogacy or adoption” Can offered trying to hit back, but not getting the punch he had hopped.

“Or backseats of cars” Peach offered from behind her book.

“Unemployed little misses with silly haircuts and too many piercings should stay out of adult discussions”

Tin was really starting to hate this aunty. He wasn’t sure of it was an inferiority complex or she was homophobic, but Tin decided he could show off just a bit to shut her up. “Peach isn’t unemployed, she was just hired by LBC ~ Designs as part of their HR team” Tin said, making a show of moving his chair closer to Can’s and wrapping his arm around Can’s shoulders.

“Oh was she just, and how did that happen?”

Tin gave Can a nudge to tell him to stand “I just hired her” Tin said matter of factly before turning to Apple and thanking her for the food and excusing Can and himself for a walk.

“And you have that kind of power do you?”

Can barely covered his snort at her question, knowing full well the reach of Tin’s powers at his own company.

“I would hope so, after all I am a co-founder and own half the company”

“Don’t forget you are also the lead designer Baby” Can offered his arm for Tin to hold on to for their walk.

About to leave the stunned room Tin stopped them near the doorway “I guess in your competition of whose child has set themselves up the best in life, the winners would be Oak and Apple. Now if you’ll excuse us, my future husband and I are going to go for a walk while we discuss how many kids we are going to have”

Tin loved the look of utter horror on the rude aunty's face while Lemon, Oak and Apple’s laugh filled the room.

Tin was thankful for the soft breeze that cooled down his burning cheeks. Declaring to a room that he and Can would marry and have kids was never his plan. He also hadn’t planned on throwing his status around, while growing up he had hated it when people had done it to get their way, but he had reacted without thinking.

“Were you serious about giving Peach a job?” Can asked as he gave Tin a slight tug to pull him in a different direction.

That being the question Can chose to ask shocked Tin into losing the nerve bundle in his stomach. Pulling his hand down his face Tin let out what sounded like a tired groan “it will have to be a trial, if she proves herself, and I hope she does, we can get her through a process of making it permanent”

Can let a smile split his face, he hadn’t told Tin but Peach was the one he was closest to after Lemon. The fact that Tin was going out on a limb for her was a huge thing for Can who couldn’t help but feel like he kept asking too much from Tin. Trying to keep the conversation light and jovial, Can gave Tin a nudge “so was it two kids or three?”

Tin almost tripped over his own feet, only staying upright because of Can’s hold on his arm “four is a lot but if that’s what you want I’m not one to deny you, Babe”

Tin felt like his entire body was tingling as he let Can pull him to the middle of a field, the grass soft as it brushed against his calf. Nerves buzzing Tin quickly pushed aside his panic “Two kids and three dogs” Tin said, pulling up the humor he used around Can to cover his nerves.

Running out of things to tease each other about and knowing that it would be getting rather late Tin and Can decided they were both ready for bed. Picking themselves up off the soft grass they had laid down on to star gaze. Tin wondered if he would get another moment like this with Can. Another chance to be honest with Can, to share his true feelings. Seeing the moon halo Can as he offered a hand to him, Tin felt his tongue freeze up again.

He didn’t know how he had managed to face industry behemoths and those sent purposefully to take him down without batting an eye. But when it came to the man in front of him and his shining eyes, his heart would get involved and Tin would lose his ability to speak, to think, to be anything but a mess named Tin.

Tin took the offered hand that he could swear felt warmer than any other hand he ever held. Getting pulled to his feet, Tin decided he would keep his feelings to himself. If for no other reason than to get to spend more time like this with Can.

 

When they got back to the house they found that more than half the family had gone to bed. Oak and the card playing group seemed to be the majority of those still awake. Seeing the two walk back in Oak offered them a smile and a wave as they headed past them and towards the stairs and to bed.

Climbing into bed Tin saw Can attempting to pull spare blankets and pillows from the cupboard in the corner of the room “don’t be ridiculous Cantaloupe, just share the bed with me”

“Don’t use my full nic-” Can’s cry cut short as all of Tin’s words played in his head. “You….you want me to join you in the bed?”

Tin thought of all the ways he wanted Can to join him in the bed and hoped that the light on the bedside table wasn’t bright enough to show how heated he had become. Shuffling over to the far side of the bed Tin motioned to the empty space next to him.

Biting down on his smile, Can quickly but quietly crossed the room and slid into the bed. Pulling the blanket up, Can felt Tin’s leg brush against his own.

It hadn’t been like he hadn’t had his hands all over Tin’s body before, he had been Tin’s personal trainer and assisted him with moving through stretches. But this simple touch seemed more charged than when he had run his hands down Tin’s legs, pressing on his body and holding him down. Swallowing down his nerves, Can rolled onto his side facing the centre of the bed and came face to face with Tin.

“It’s been a long time since I shared a bed with anyone” Can said as he wriggled down the bed a bit. Bringing him a little closer to Tin.

“Used to share your bed often?” Tin had tried to not sound overly curious but the fact that Can probably had a girlfriend or boyfriend at some stage made Tin anxious.

Can seemed to miss the strange tone in Tin’s voice. Rolling to lay on his back, Can slipped one hand under the back of his head and rested the other on his stomach “not since high school”

Tin relaxed letting out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding and let a silence stretch between them, only broken by Can’s teasing “I bet you would be used to sharing a bed”

“I’m not a virgin, but I don’t often invite people into my bed or accept offers to climb into others at the drop of a hat” as Tin’s annoyed tinged words came out Tin pushed up onto his elbow to look down at Can.

Can looked at Tin a little shocked at the intensity in Tin’s eyes. “It’s not like we are actually dating Tin, you don’t have to defend yourself”

Tin laid back down as the crushing reality of their situation pressed on him. “You’re right” Tin’s dejection carried in his tone as he rolled over to face away from Can. Keeping his voice low Tin spoke mostly into his pillow “I just don’t want you to think so poorly of me”

Can wished he could take his words back the moment he said them. Reminding himself that Tin wasn’t actually his had hurt. Ans also seeing how his words seemed to have hurt Tin confused Can. Tin was just doing him a favour so it didn’t make sense to Can why it would bother the other man.
********************************

When Tin woke he could hear sounds floating up from down stairs as those that were awake seemed to be working on pulling breakfast together. Climbing out of bed, Tin took a moment to take in Can’s sleeping form. He wasn’t sure after last night that even if he got to show Can how good a boyfriend he would be, that the other man would be willing to date him.

Not if Can's opinion of him was that he was that he freely shared his bed with anyone that asked. That fact that he had jumped at the chance to be with Can probably added fuel to the fire seeing as how Can wasn't aware that the jump had been only because it was him.

After a quick shower Tin made his way down stairs and into the kitchen to seek out the first love of his life, coffee.

Tin found the room surprisingly empty except for Apple who seemed lost in thought as she looked into her own coffee cup. “Good morning” Tin offered softly as he worked on making himself a cup of coffee.

“Good morning Tin, did you sleep well?” Apple’s voice carried a warmth for him that still surprised Tin. He had heard a loving mother’s tone before, it just hadn’t ever been directed at him like the way Apple was right now.

“Yes, thank you” Tin smiled, realising that despite how they had gone to sleep he had slept well. It probably helped that Tin was woken in the night by Can pulling him in and hugging him close in his sleep. Trying to hold back the smile at the memory Tin hid it behind his cup of coffee “what’s the plans of today?”

“Since it’s Christmas eve the rest of the family should be arriving today” Apple said, looking a little stressed already by the thought of so many people.

“I thought everyone was here” Tin’s surprise made Apple giggle.

“I get how you would think that, but all the kids that were getting bragged about last night will be arriving today. They couldn’t get out of work any earlier to be here” Lemon’s happy tone came from the door leading to the dining room.

“Good morning darling” Apple said as she swept over and pulled Lemon into a hug before turning back to Tin “Lemon’s own boyfriend will be arriving today to. So you'll have an ally in fighting off the Cantaloupe and Lemon's cousins”

The scrunch of Lemon's nose coupled with the shake of her head made it obvious to Tin that her boyfriend would be no help against the horde.

 

Shortly after lunch the arrivals started. With every new face came a new name and as the Kirakorn gene was strong a few of them looked the same, making it harder for Tin to keep track of names to faces. The last one to arrive was the one that was Lemon's boyfriend. Arriving just as dinner was being served.

As pleasant as most for Can's family had been, Tin was a little thankful to have another outsider to lean on. Despite him not being helpful in deflecting attention from Tin.

After dinner Can watched as his cousins vied for Tin’s attention. More than one of them had seemed interested in him, but all of them were intrigued by him and the fact that he chose Can as his partner. Apparently they had all been informed of not only who Tin was in relation to why he was here but also who Tin was in relation to what he does.

Tin was feeling a little more in his element as Can’s relatives tried to win his favour or seduce him. It was the same thing he had dealt with since he hit puberty. Even now some aspiring models tried to get him to sign them by offering themselves up to him. And honestly sometimes he was tempted. But right now it just felt skeezy, like when the socialites of his youth had tried.

Looking over Tin could see Can standing with Lemon and her boyfriend. Excusing himself from the slightly handsy cousins, Tin pushed his way over to Can. When the man was in reach Tin grabbed him and pulled him in close “you need to protect me from them” Tin was half joking but the fact that Can squeezed him tight and then put himself between Tin and the others made Tin happy.

Lemon giggled at the way Can acted as a shield before turning to her boyfriend who was holding out a hand towards Tin “I take it you’re the boyfriend, I’m Tang”

“Tin”

“Peach” looking over the four of them found a sheepish looking Peach standing off to the side “I just wanted to be one of the cool kids” Peach offered with a shrug.

Can gave Peach a fond smile as he linked his arm with hers “you’re the coolest kid here”

Rolling her eyes Peach gave Can a nudge before using their linked arms to pull Can outside. Sitting down on a collection of blankets in the front yard Peach watched as Tin made sure Can was comfortable before dropping down next to him and arranging himself. It was nice to see that Can had found someone that cared for him so much that he thought of Can’s comfort before his own. Peach hoped she would also find someone like that.

It wasn’t long before they found themselves being handed a cup filled with punch that none of them was sure what had been put in it as other members of the family joined them. The pot the punch had been made in was sat roughly in the middle of the collective. Tin had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well.

Glancing around Tin could see that most everyone was holding a cup. Having taken a sip Tin knew how potent the alcohol was and something popped into his mind from yeasterday Tin lent towards their small group “which one was the one who got knocked up in the backseat of a car?”

Peach let out a bark of laughter before taking a galp from her cup “she is inside. Her mum didn’t want her to get into any trouble”

“Like what? It’s not like she can get pregnant again” Lemon, Tang and Peach covered their laughter with their cups at Tin’s matter of fact toned response.

Can however missed the whole conversation, his attention having been focused on Tin’s free hand as it sat on the blanket supporting his weight. Can remembered the times he had offered out a hand to Tin to help him up off the floor after going through post workout stretches. Tin’s hands had always been soft but firm as he used his grip on Can’s hand to get up. Can wanted to hold his hand again and find out if it felt the same.

Can had almost built up the nerve to reach out for Tin's hand when some of the others dropped onto the blanket, taking up seats around them. His cousin Dew dropped into the spot between them.

Seeing the murderous look on Can's face, Lemon covertly tapped Peach's arm and drew her attention to the situation.

"So Tin, how long have you and Can been dating?" Peach trilled at the glare she got from Dew.

"Long enough to be discussing having kids" Lemon's amusement carried in her voice as she remembered Tin snapping back at her aunt.

"We settled on two kids and two dogs" Can chimed in. His words said with a hard edge, directed at Dew.

Dew took it in her stride, turning to Tin, she turned on the charm. Giving Tin a soft smile, Dew put too much sugar in her voice "so Tin, you want to have kids?"

Tin hated the way Dew seemed determined to move into his line of sight of Can. And the way she was leaning into his personal space was more than uncomfortable. Getting up Tin moved over behind Can and dropped back down on the blanket. Putting his legs on either side of Can, Tin pulled Can back against him so that Can could use his chest as a back rest.

"I want to see Can fathering our children, he will make a great dad" Tin finished his sentence with a kiss to the top of Can's head.

Earnings an eye roll from Dew.

 

A few more cups of the mystery punch and Tin felt warm and fuzzy. When Can tried to move off Tin he found himself being gripped tighter. "Where are you going?"

 

*************Christmas Day******************

Peach groaned her lament at having been the one volunteered to wake Tin and Can so that Christmas breakfast and the unwrapping of presents could begin. The two of them might be reserved in their affection but none of the family doubted their attachment to each other. Not in the way they were always within reach of each other, or the way they could constantly be seen whispering to each other or stealing glances.

Not wanting to startle her new boss and potentially upsetting him before she had even had her first day at the company, Peach gave a soft knock and waited for an answer. After a moment of nothing but silence, Peach quietly opened the door and poked her head inside. The two men were still fast asleep. Peach gave herself a moment to admire how sereine they looked. Tin sleeping with his face buried in Can’s chest, while Can slept wrapped around Tin and his nose buried in Tin’s hair. It looked like Can was still trying to protect Tin from the vultures downstairs.

“Can” Peach whispered with a light shake of the man’s shoulder.

Cracking an eye Can looked over his shoulder at Peach “what’s wrong” Can’s sleep soaked whisper rasping out.

“Nothing Can” Peach paused looking at Tin as he pressed his face further into Can’s chest. “It’s Christmas morning, everyone is waiting for you two”

Can let out an annoyed groan “tell them they can wait, they are the ones that kept us up last night”. Can shuffled in closer to Tin. He had no plan of getting up, not while Tin was still sleeping in his arms.

“Not all of them” Tin mumbled into Can’s chest as he let out a hot puff of air, making Can shiver at the heat of it. “Come on Cantaloupe, let the kids open their gifts” Tin said, trying to sit up but Can’s arms tightened holding Tin to the bed.

“I told you not to call me Cantaloupe” Can growled, withdrawing his arms from around Tin. Sitting up and throwing his legs off the side of the bed, Can looked back at Tin when he felt the bed move.

Standing at his side of the bed Tin lent across towards Can putting his palms on the mattress to hold himself up. “Come on Honey, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to open your gift” Tin teased as he dropped a kiss onto the tip of Can’s nose.

 

The boys stumbled down the last couple of steps and into the lounge room, smiling Tin slipped his arm around Can’s shoulders. They had been about to wish everyone a Merry Christmas when they saw a few people pointing at something above them. Looking up, both of them spotted the mistletoe, hanging above them, daring them to take a step.

Deciding not to let the chance slip by, Can stepped out from under Tin’s arm and slipped a hand into the back of Tin’s hair. Giving a light tug and not feeling Tin resist the obvious implication of what was going to happen, Can added more strength. Pulling Tin in to meet him, Can felt his nerves buzz and frazzle. The moment their lips met the squirming in his stomach stilled and the buzz in his nerves soothed. It was fumbling and awkward to start, but the moment Tin let Can have total control it all changed. They fitted together like they had been made to kiss each other, only breaking apart when air became the priority.

About to move in again to reclaim Tin’s lips Oak’s voice stopped him “okay boys, we get it, you love each other very much”

Blushing, the two moved apart to see the room looking at them a bit surprised.

Settling in between Peach and Lemon, Tang on Lemon’s other side, Tin and Can accepted bowls filled with food as the gifts started to be handed out.

Tin watched with an ever present smile and a pleasant warmth in his chest as everyone accepted gifts and gave their own with glee. Tin couldn’t remember having ever experienced a Christmas with so much warmth, love and happiness.

The mood in the room changed suddenly as Tin’s gifts were handed to Apple, Lemon and Oak. Excited by the beautifully colourful box and bright ribbon Lemon carefully opened her gift. Lifting the lid Lemon let out a gasp “Burberry, Tin are you sure, this would have been expensive”

Tin nodded as he let out a slight laugh at the way Lemon’s fingers gripped at her new handbag as if she was frightened someone would actually try to take it away. Looking over at Apple, Tin was glad to see that she was holding up her Dolce & Gabbana bag to show it off.

Feeling Can lean in, Tin forced himself to keep his smile in place “Tin what are you doing? I can’t afford those gifts”

Realising Can thought he would want him to pay him back for the cost of the gifts, Tin closed some of the distance between them “good thing I don’t expect you too” Tin rubbed his thumb across Can’s bottom lip.

Laying his hand on top of Tin’s to stop him, Can looked into Tin’s eyes “but it’s too much”

“If you want to repay me, swim with me again. Spend the night”

Can pulled back slightly, surprised by Tin’s request “why would you want something like that?”

Can lost the opportunity to hear a response from Tin as a gift was pushed into his hands. Looking at it Can just felt confused, it didn’t have a gifter’s name on it but there was only one person it could be from. “Tin, I didn’t get you anything”

Tin grabbed Can’s chin and pressed a quick kiss to his lips “have a look before you worry about that”

It didn’t pass Can’s notice that Tin actually looked nervous with a mix of apprehension as he kept glancing at the gift Can was holding. Ripping into the paper Can recognised the cover of a company design folder. More than once had one been left behind at the wellness centre and he had seen staff walking around with them. Opening the folder Can saw what he assumed was the design for a shirt decal. Four vertical columns, the first green with the silhouette cut out at the bottom of a tree, the second red with a silhouette of an apple, the third blue with the silhouette of a person and the fourth yellow with the silhouette of a lemon.

Flipping to the next page Can saw designs for sportswear going across a few pages, next was casual clothes. The decal from the first page being incorporated through the designs he looked at. Closing the folder Can looked at Tin “I don’t understand”

Tin looked at the closed folder and back at Can "they are designs for you, well designs inspired by you"

Can flipped to the back of the folder and looked at the page. It was swimwear, if Can had to venture a guess, he hadn't spent as much time refining the back pages. They were a bit rougher than the others Can had seen and unlike the other pages theses were still loose and Tin seemed to still be working on the colour scheme. Remembering a couple nights ago in Tin's pool "are these because of …"

Can let the question hang as Tin lent over to look "yes, I didn't realise I lift those in there"

Can slapped his hand down on them as Tin moved to take them "all of this must have taken months"

Tin watched as Can did a quick flick through to see just how many designs were in the folder "about six" Tin admitted.

"Six?" Can's eyes snapped up from the folder "but I only asked you the other day-"

Can felt a hard slap to the back of his head "I think you two should have this conversation in private" Lemon said through clenched teeth worried that her idiot brother would give it all away while not realising that the guy he liked had obviously been crushing on him too.

 

Getting outside and far enough away from the house, Can turned to look at Tin who looked like he was trying to take up as little space as possible. Can hugged the folder tight to his chest, "what does this present mean? Because right now my brain is running through so many options and not all of them are good"

Tin instantly worried that Can's not so good option was exactly what he was about to say. But he had made up his mind the night before when he had slipped downstairs and placed the gift under the tree that he was going to tell Can. "That you have been on my mind for a while. That you inspire me, just by existing in the same space as me" Tin could feel his heart trying to beat its way out of his chest "that I have wanted to ask you out for a while now"

Can could have jumped for joy. Having Tin return his feelings was the best Christmas present he could have asked for. Opening his mouth to declare his own feeling a question tumbled out instead "but why design a product line instead of just telling me?"

Tin could see that Can looked happy, ecstatic even. "Because I didn't know if you would feel the same and this gave me something that was you, well designed with you as the muse, that was all mine. It felt like something of you belonged to me"

"Why me?" Can asked as he stepped closer, tucking the folder behind his back.

"Because you're you" Tin said before claiming Can's lips in a toe curling kiss "I never want to kiss any other set of lips again”

Can jumped back pressing his fingers against his lips “I lied to you” Can watched as confusion filled Tin’s face.

Tin ran through the past few days trying to think of what Can could have lied about. Nothing stood out like it could have been of consequence, nothing that Tin couldn’t find it in himself to forgive. Tin realised his lack of reply must have worried Can because he was back to clutching the folder to his chest.

“I didn’t need you to pretend to be my boyfriend in front of my parents. They don’t mind who I’m with or if I’m alone as long as I’m happy” Can’s words came out rushed, like he was panicked Tin would walk away at any moment.

Tin could see why someone could be mad about this. And he would have been too if he wasn’t ridiculously happy that Can’s transgression was in the pursuit of him. Fighting back his smile Tin fisted his hands at his sides to stop from grabbing the man in front of him “then why go through all of this? Why ask me to pretend to be your boyfriend?”

“It was Lemon’s stupid idea” Tin almost laughed at the childish response “she knew how I felt about you and when I told her about the I.O.U she came up with the nonsense idea. The idea was to show you how great it would be to date me”

Tin slapped a hand over his own face, he couldn’t believe the two of them had come up with the same notion.

“I told her it was stupid. But with you no longer coming to me for personal training I didn’t have a reason to see you. The more I thought about it, it seemed like a good idea, and the next thing I knew I was in your office and you looked so cute asleep on your desk…..and you know the rest”

“I think so, but correct me if I get this wrong. We both formed crushes on each other and like idiot high school kids, instead of talking to each other we drove people in our lives crazy. Until you get given a ridiculous scheme and we both decided to use the opportunity to show what great boyfriends we would be” Tin thought through everything making sure he had hit all the points.

“I think that’s right” Can felt more confused as Tin seemed pleasantly okay with the whole situation, if not down right happy.

“I think Lemon deserves the Christmas present I got her” Tin said with a smirk.
*********************************************

Pete had barely heard from Tin since just before Christmas except for Tin’s message confirming he would be attending his and Ae’s New Years party, with a plus one. Pete had quickly messaged Tin back asking who the plus one was, Tin left him on read.

Pete had spent the first hour of the party with half an eye on the entrance for Tin and his mystery date. Ae’s slightly amused voice constantly reminding him to relax wasn’t helping. Especially when he spotted Can chatting with Pond and ChaAim.

Pete knew that Can and Ae were friends from their college days, but he didn’t know that Ae had invited Can. Or that Can would turn up dressed so nicely, he had even had his hair styled. Taking a closer look Pete realised that the clothes Can wore was one of Tin’s designs. Feeling a panic attack coming on Pete made a quick circuit of the party hoping to find Tin before he saw Can looking like he had stepped out of one of Tin’s wet dreams.

Pete was starting to think that Tin hadn’t actually shown, when he almost fell over him at the bar. Grabbing a hold of Tin’s arm so that he couldn’t get away, Pete took a moment to catch his breath.

“Pete are you okay?”

Pete felt like his heart stopped.

“I’ll get him a chair, Babe get him some water”

Something wasn’t clicking for Pete, but soon he found himself in a chair as a glass of water was being pressed into his hand.

“Honey, can you go find Ae and let him know Pete needs him”

Pete watched as Can nodded and gave Tin a quick kiss on his cheek before running off. Before Pete could get his thoughts together and ask Tin anything, Ae was kneeling in front of him looking up at him with worried eyes.

“What’s wrong? Can said you seemed to be having some kind of attack”

Seeing Ae just as calm as Can and Tin, Pete lost it “how are you all calm? Tin and Can are dating and you are all fucking calm. When did this happen, how did it happen? Tin was practically mute around Can”

“I wasn’t that bad” Tin scoffed as he crossed his arms.

“Yes you were” Ae and Can said in unison causing Tin to throw his hands up and head back over to the bar to mix some drinks.

“With sleep deprivation or alcohol the first couple of days” Can offered as an explanation to how Tin managed to finally talk around him.

Bringing over a tray of drinks, Tin sat them down on the table near Pete before moving behind Can and slipping his arms around Can’s waist “Honey, tell Pete what you got me for Christmas” Tin’s cheery voice carried his amusement at what the gift had been.

Pete looked at Can who seemed to be a little embarrassed, if his vibrant red ears were anything to go by. Lifting up his hand, Can showed Pete a plain silver band wrapped around his finger. Looking at Tin who was now handing them all drinks Tin obliged Pete’s curious gaze by showing his matching band.