It’s late at night, and stores would typically be closed by this time, but that’s not the case for this district. Here, neon lights shine bright from a couple units down, illuminating the entire street. As if that isn’t enough, the sound of heavy bass beats is a clear giveaway of the various nightclubs operating in the vicinity, milling with club-goers on a Friday night like this. Nanon passes the snaking line of teenagers waiting to get in a club, heading further up the street where he’s welcomed by the staff into his favourite haunt.
“Welcome back, sir. You’ll have the usual for today?” The manager asks, and Nanon nods, taking a seat at an open table where he can observe the escorts. He takes a few sips of his drink as his eyes wander around the place, flitting from one escort to another. A pity, none of them were catching his eye today. He swirls his drink in his hand slowly, contemplating if he should just head somewhere else at this rate. This seems to catch the manager’s attention, though, and soon the manager’s approaching him to ask if anything’s wrong.
Nanon conveys the situation to the manager, who bows in apology. “I’m so sorry, sir. Why don’t you have a couple more drinks and snacks before you go - it’ll be on the house this time.” The manager offers hastily, and Nanon could really care less about the bill - he came here every week anyway, but then he spots something that makes his blood boil.
He waves off the manager as he watches the situation unfold from his seat, eyes fixed on the waiter who appears to be uncomfortable. The patrons at another table had insisted he stay with them after serving their drinks, despite that not being part of his job scope. Now, in this escort club, waiters were just waiters and escorts were escorts, and every customer was aware of that. Those were the rules that were made explicitly clear even before they were allowed to enter. Nanon’s finger twitches, he wants to do something but he decides to stay put for now. He clenches his fists when things take a turn for the worse and he catches the patron laying his hands on the waiter, but what pisses him off more is when he realises the manager’s just watching it all happen, as if he’s condoning the behaviour. Before he can process it, Nanon’s striding up to the offending patron, yanking his dirty hands off the waiter and throwing him to the ground roughly.
The patron opens his mouth to speak, but Nanon beats him to it.
“You’re disgusting. Don’t you know what it means to keep your filthy hands off the waiters?” Nanon spits, before turning to the manager who’s rushing to help the patron up. Nanon can’t believe the manager is really choosing to attend to the patron with a glaring lack of morals who’s clearly in violation of the rules, and he lets out a scoff as he sizes up the manager.
“And you. Honestly, fuck you. Fuck this place. You disgust me.” With that, Nanon turns on his heel, leaving the escort club without looking back.
He makes it five steps out before he’s stopped by a hand on his shoulder, and Nanon has half the mind to put the person in their place before realising it’s the waiter from earlier.
“Hey. I just wanted to say thanks for earlier. But why?”
“What do you mean why? The fucker was breaking the rules and the manager didn’t seem to be giving two shits! Doesn’t that make you angry? I can’t believe your manager couldn’t care less about his employees, that dipshit!.”
The waiter lets out a dry chuckle at that, it kind of warms his heart to see someone so concerned about him and the other waiters’ welfare. “Sure, I’m angry, but I’m not really in the position to do anything about it.” He scuffs his shoes against the pavement awkwardly.
“Don’t work here anymore.”
The waiter looks up hearing Nanon’s sentence, rolling his eyes as his lips curve up slightly at the out-of-nowhere proposition. “I need the money, you know. And this place pays well. Sure, sometimes I have to deal with..patrons like that,” he winces at the memory still fresh in his head, “but you can’t get the good stuff without suffering a little, am I right?” He jokes, but Nanon’s not laughing along with him.
“How much do you need?”
“What, you’re gonna give it to me if I tell you?”
Nanon stares at the waiter in the eyes.
“..It’s for my brother’s college tuition.”
“I’ll pay for it.”
“Ha. That’s funny. Thanks for cheering me up.” The waiter slaps Nanon on the shoulder, waiting for him to crack into a smile, but Nanon maintains his stoic expression.
Nanon shakes his head, “I’m serious. I’ll pay for it.” He reaches into his suit pocket, pulling out a business card before handing it to the waiter. “But you have to stop working here.”
Somehow, this sentence causes the waiter to get butterflies in his stomach.
Nanon turns to leave for good this time, and the waiter is left to think about the man in a suit who’d just showed up in his life and turned it upside down.
“Nanon Korapat,” the waiter reads off the business card, “CEO of NK Enterprises. Huh.”
“H-hello? Is this Mr Korapat?”
“Call me Nanon. I’ve been waiting for your call.” Nanon’s voice filters through the phone, and Chimon has to suppress the giddy feeling he gets when he learns that Nanon’s been waiting for him to call.
“Okay, Nanon. So about my brother’s college tuition..”
“Hmm, I don’t know. Don’t you think I should at least know the name of someone I’m helping to pay their brother’s college tuition for?”
“O-oh! Right, you can call me Chimon.”
“Alright, Chimon. Now, I’m not doing this for free though.” Right. Chimon closes his eyes, swallowing the lump in his throat in fear of the next sentence to come out of Nanon’s mouth.
“How about you treat me to a meal in exchange for this? Hm?”
Chimon coughs in surprise at the request, he’d been expecting more, something way worse than just a meal. He thinks Nanon must really be crazy for offering to pay off tens of thousands worth of college tuition just in exchange for a meal, but he has nothing to lose here, so he agrees.
He tells himself it has nothing to do with how Nanon had been devastatingly good-looking in that suit of his when they first met, the man was well-dressed from head to toe and sporting a minimalistic silver watch which screamed nothing but classy to him.
Nanon picks Chimon up in his Porsche for the meal, and Chimon is once again reminded of their difference in status when the sleek black car pulls up to his apartment complex. He sighs almost inaudibly, trying to put his thoughts and insecurities at the back of his mind as he steps into the passenger seat. He greets Nanon with a smile, closing his eyes to enjoy the soft R&B playing on the stereo as they head to their destination.
“Can I ask you a question?” Chimon breaks the silence first, turning to look at Nanon whose eyes are fixed on the road.
Nanon nods wordlessly, urging him to continue.
“Why are you doing this?”
“You inspire me.” Nanon answers earnestly, but the meaning is lost when Chimon hears it.
Chimon laughs at Nanon’s response, “You’re kidding. What about me is inspiring? I’m just a broke highschool dropout who can barely support himself, working my ass off day and night and even - giving up my dignity just so I can put my brother through college. You call that inspiring?” He winces a little at how his voice cracks in the middle of his sentence, a telltale sign that he was affected.
“That’s exactly why. I’ve never met someone as determined to live - even when it’s such a struggle - as you are, kitten.” Nanon takes his eyes off the road for a moment to look into the younger’s eyes, hoping to convey his feelings properly this time. Chimon’s brain promptly short-circuits - whether it’s from the intensity of his gaze or the pet name, he can't tell.
“Sorry. I overstepped my boundaries with the pet name.” Nanon’s face is grim, taking Chimon’s silence as a bad sign.
Chimon wants to tell Nanon it’s fine, it really is , but for the sake of his heart, he thinks it’s best that Nanon drops the pet name too. He doesn’t think he can handle hearing it from Nanon again.
“Do you think..I could take you out sometime?” Nanon clears his throat to dispel the feelings of awkwardness, focusing his gaze back on the road as he awaits Chimon’s response.
“Like..on a date?” Chimon asks. He finds it cute how Nanon’s tapping his fingers on the steering wheel anxiously, a sign of nervousness that he’d otherwise have been unable to spot with the poker face he has on.
“Yeah, like a date.”
Chimon considers this for a moment. Well, he doesn’t have to - he’s attracted to the elder, he knows that much at least, but he can’t help the feelings of insecurity that are threatening to bubble up at the mere thought of Nanon wanting to take him out. It seems like a joke.
“I’m sorry, you’re just - so out of my league, I don’t get why --” Chimon starts, running a hand through his hair as he struggles to find the words to express himself.
Nanon pulls the car to a stop by the roadside and places a hand on the younger’s chin, forcing Chimon to look him in the eyes.
“Was that not enough for you? What I said earlier? How about this - I think you’re such an amazing guy and I want to get to know you better. I don’t care about your background, really - you won’t have to worry about anything when you’re with me. Okay?”
Chimon nods silently after processing the words, breath taken away by Nanon’s speech.
“Use your words, Chimon. I need to know you’re okay with this.”
“Okay. You can take me out.”
Chimon’s heart is jumping in his chest as he says this, and he’s so thankful that Nanon can’t see it.
Nanon’s face splits into a wide smile at Chimon’s agreement, and he pats the younger’s head before turning back to the road.
“Today’s our first date, then. I’m gonna show you a whole new world.” Nanon grins, before pulling off the side of the road, and Chimon can only hang on to his seatbelt for dear life.
Nanon brings him to the amusement park, and Chimon is pleasantly surprised - he hasn’t been here in ages, but he’s more surprised that a CEO like Nanon would want to come to an amusement park, of all places.
“Smile, Chimon! I’m taking a picture~!” Nanon waves, and Chimon turns around to see Nanon holding a polaroid camera in his hands. He poses quickly before swatting at the elder in retaliation. “Hey! That caught me by surprise.” He pouts, waiting for the polaroid to develop so he can decide if he should smack Nanon another time.
“I’m glad you’re feeling more comfortable with me now.” Nanon says, and Chimon realises he’s let down his guard a bit too easily - but he couldn’t help it, the amusement park was home to many of his memories, and he was just happy to be here again.
“I knew I made the right choice bringing you here.” Nanon grins, and Chimon scrunches his nose, he can’t have Nanon feeling triumphant so easily. He sticks his tongue out before pulling Nanon towards the rollercoasters. “C’mon, let’s ride this!” He picks one that has many ups and downs and seems to be a scary ride but isn’t. Nanon isn’t fooled so easily, though - he scans the rollercoaster tracks of the other rides before getting a devious smirk on his face.
“How about…that one instead!” Nanon points, and Chimon barely gets a glimpse of it before he’s being dragged towards the direction of the rollercoaster Nanon had just picked out. Chimon can only hope it won’t make his stomach too queasy.
“Ugh..guess I am getting a bit too old for these exciting rides, my stomach isn't feeling so great now.” Nanon groans when they get off the rollercoaster. Chimon on the other hand, is doing pretty okay for all the screaming he did during the ride. He laughs softly while patting Nanon on the back, “that’s karma for you!” before sticking his tongue out at the elder teasingly.
“All right, all right, you win. But I’m not going home until I win you a prize. You hear that?” Nanon wags his finger at Chimon, nodding in the direction of the carnival games. “Take your pick. Which one do you want to bring home? I’ll get it for you.” He thumps his chest proudly.
Chimon has to stifle a laugh at Nanon’s confidence, after his less than stunning performance on the rollercoasters, he’s not quite sure Nanon’s the master he proclaimed himself to be at booth games. Besides, some of those games were known to be rigged, if anything. He squints at the plushies lined up at the back of each stall, before letting out a squeal of excitement when he spots a bright yellow body and black-tipped ears. “That one, Nanon!” He points towards the archery stall which has a life-sized Pikachu on display.
Now, Chimon is fully capable of winning the grand prize for himself - his regular visits to the amusement park when he was younger hadn’t been for naught, after all - but he decides to take the backseat for this one, giving Nanon a chance to redeem himself.
It takes Nanon a total of fifteen tries to win a prize. Unfortunately, it isn’t the giant Pikachu Chimon had pointed out, but instead a cute brown teddy bear the younger can hug to sleep. Chimon smiles all the same when Nanon hands him the bear, but Nanon’s a man of his words - he pulls out his wallet and is about to ask if he can buy the Pikachu when he’s stopped by Chimon.
“Nanon, that’s not how you do it! It’s no fun if you ‘win’ it like that.” Chimon chides, deciding to finally step forward and show his prowess.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you’re a master at these games. That was so embarrassing!” Nanon whines, burying his head in the Pikachu plushie he’s currently helping Chimon to lug back to his car.
Chimon merely laughs at the elder’s words, “don’t worry. I thought it was kinda cute to see your clumsy side, it’s such a stark contrast from your always composed nature.” He giggles again at the thought.
Nanon rolls his eyes good-naturedly. “You used to come here a lot with your brother, didn’t you?”
“My parents too. We had so much fun, the four of us…” Chimon trails off, deliberating on telling Nanon the rest.
Nanon remains quiet as he walks beside Chimon, not probing further, just allowing his company to fill the silence.
For a while, the only sound that can be heard is their footsteps, and Chimon notices how Nanon’s strides are longer than his, yet he’s purposefully walking slower so Chimon doesn’t have to increase his speed to keep up with him.
Nanon’s about to change the topic when Chimon finally speaks up. “I haven’t been here since the accident.”
Nanon wishes he didn’t have a face and arm full of Pikachu right now, because he’d really like to see the expression on Chimon’s face, he wants to hug the younger one so badly and comfort him.
“It’s just been me and my brother since then. He’s all I have, you know? And- and the last thing I want is for him to struggle through life, so I decided I’d put him through college if that’s the last thing I’ll do.”
Even if it meant dropping out of high school. Are the words left unspoken, and for the second time, Nanon is hit by a strange feeling in his heart. He empathises with Chimon, but he can’t help but admire the younger for his act of selflessness.
“You amaze me.” is all Nanon says, voice muffled by the Pikachu he’s carrying, and he hears a wet laugh from Chimon.
“I’m sorry. This is so stupid, I can’t believe I’m crying-” Chimon scoffs, wiping his tears away quickly, refusing to let Nanon see this side of him.
“I’m fine. Don’t look.” Chimon warns, but Nanon has never been one to listen to orders, so he puts down the Pikachu and turns the younger’s face towards him.
“Hey. You’re okay. Don’t worry, just let it all out. I’m here.” Nanon scans Chimon’s eyes before pulling him in for a hug, the younger burying his head in his shoulder.
“You’re the strongest, most determined person I’ve ever met, you know that?” Nanon says, patting Chimon’s back gently as he sniffles and sobs.
And Chimon doesn’t quite agree with Nanon, he’d argue back if he wasn’t already crying, but he knows the elder means what he says, so he nods into his shoulder and hugs him a little tighter in lieu of a response.
For the first time in a while, Chimon allows himself to feel…vulnerable.