"I. WILL. BLOCK. YOU!", the boy in front of the notebook screamed, almost pulling out his own hair as he watched sanity fading away.
Sitting on the sofa in the living room, Team watched the scene that had been repeated a few times in the last few weeks, somewhat used to that reaction.
"Did your fan leave a comment again?", he asked with a smile that knew the answer before he actually got it.
"TEAM! HE'S NOT A FAN!", Pharm turned quickly towards his best friend and housemate, eyes burning with anger, until he realized he was pushing himself a little over the edge. "I'm sorry! This 'd_rw' will drive me insane!", the boy sighed emptying his lungs and lowering his shoulders as a sign of defeat.
Pharm had started a cooking channel on YouTube and was really proud of his achievements so far: he already had a consistent audience and several advertising contracts because of it. However, just as he gained fans, he also noticed the arrival of haters. Or "hater", singular, if he were to be more exact.
The comments complaining about his appearance or ideas of dishes to show on the channel weren't the ones to mess with his peace, the boy knew he could not please everyone with his style. However, this certain user lived for the sole purpose of provoking him and Pharm felt compelled to respond at every turn because he couldn't control himself to do the opposite.
"This time he commented, and I quote, 'You should have warned people to use a large pot. I almost had an accident trying to make the soup in a frying pan.'", Pharm read the absurd words with wide eyes and then watched his friend's reaction, who looked as surprised as he was. "Really, Team! Who in the world would do that?! Cooking soup in a frying pan and blaming me?!", he sighed in despair as he gestured between himself and the notebook, as if the last one was a representative of the guy that provoked him so much.
Pharm was starting to get frustrated reading that sort of thing in every single video he'd been posting lately. However, knowing full well that he had given up a steady job in the field he had graduated from to devote himself fully to the culinary channel he created, the man knew he couldn't take his own pride into account.
"What are you going to answer?", Team asked already anticipating his friend's reaction.
"The usual…", Pharm took a deep breath and repeated the sentence that had become a constant in the last few weeks.
"I will try to warn people about this detail next time! Thanks for your suggestion!"
Pharm typed in the answer and hit "send", turning to the window with a mug of coffee in hand. It was no use getting irritated by such nonsense. He let his mind and gaze wander over the landscape there until he was completely distracted.
His serenity had already returned after finishing his cup, when he decided to check for new comments. Some compliments, suggestions and oops! A new response from "d_rw": "Better late than never, I guess."
"I. DON'T. BELIEVE. THIS. GUY!", he blurted out again and couldn't see his friend laughing from the living room. It was always like this: the hater would send an absurd comment, Pharm would respond kindly, and the guy would send a rude or even worse response than the first message, managing to get the placid Pharm out of his usual good mood.
It was possible to see that his big brown eyes were getting covered by a glowing veil indicating tears about to be shed, so Team decided to do something. The boy got up from the sofa and walked to where his friend was at the table placed at the small kitchen of the apartment they shared. Stepping behind the chair Pharm occupied, Team gently touched his shoulders and began a soothing massage.
"Why don't you try to send a private message to this guy and talk to him? Maybe if you two meet in person you'll be able to understand each other better and put an end to it!", Team suggested.
"Team, look at this guy's profile picture! You can see he's a real asshole!", Pharm turned to his friend and blurted it out in a way that didn't fool the other. It certainly showed that he had already done some research on the user behind the nasty comments sent to him. “I checked his Instagram profile and breaking news: he hasn't posted anything in 6 months! 6 months!”, Pharm crossed his arms in front of his chest and followed to his conclusion. "He's probably a psychopath and if I meet him in person, at the very least, he'll kill me because he was crazy enough to make soup in a frying pan!" the boy shook his head to himself, ending his beautiful analysis about the criminal's profile, that is, the hater. "Besides, if I ever get a chance to meet him, at the very least I'll want to punch that resting bitch face of his!"
"What do you mean by that?, Team asked curiously.
"Let me show you!", Pharm said opening a browser tab and typing some letters which were fastly recognized by the autocomplete history. Within seconds, Pharm's hater profile appeared and Team recognized the profile photo the guy was using in his IG account as well. "See this photo? It looks like a swimming team or something… everyone is smiling at the camera, except him! This screams 'psychopath', Team! I'm telling you!", Pharm said in a way that seemed a bit obsessive on him.
"Alright, Pharm! As you wish!", Team said patting his friend's head affectionately. "But you're not really going to do that, are you? If you two meet?", the boy who was still standing suddenly asked the cook.
"Of course not, Team! He's the crazy one!", Pharm said rolling his eyes. "But I will certainly teach him about manners!", he said with a determined tone that looked very cute and daring in his angelic face.
"This will be interesting…", Team thought and smiled at his friend, but reserved himself the right to only nod at the other's statement.
A few days later...
Pharm had arrived from the supermarket with the groceries, but found himself unable to enter his own apartment. Dueling with bags with various products and the key chain that couldn't seem to find the lock at all, he began to feel the ice cream melting in one of his arms and wetting his sleeve. That's when he heard a low voice.
"May I help you?"
Without thinking too much, Pharm accepted the stranger's offer. "Oh yes! Please!", the boy said awkwardly from behind the bags that were quickly removed from his embrace by large, delicate hands without effort.
Without paying close attention to who his hero was, Pharm turned to open the door and when he heard the distinctive "click" of the lock indicating it was open, he turned to the stranger to retrieve his groceries back.
"Thank you so much for your help, I--", he stopped his action midway after carefully observing his savior's face for the first time. A face he could easily recognize even among the largest crowd.
"Oh. My. God! I'm going to start screaming now! Have you turned into a stalker?!", Pharm asked, scared, using his arms to protect himself from the man who looked much taller than in the few photos he had found in his social media. None other than "d_rw" was in front of him using his groceries as hostages.
"Don't be silly, kid!" d_rw said rolling his eyes and sighing. "I live across the hall." And seeing that Pharm didn't seem convinced by this fact, he explained further: "I moved here about 6 months ago! Your housemate keeps borrowing things like sugar or milk from us!"
"Ah, so that's why Team gets the ingredients so fast when I ask him to buy something!", Pharm thought to himself, but still a bit wary at the confirmation that his biggest hater was, in fact, his neighbor!
"...thanks for noticing my existence, by the way!", the man was saying something in a sarcastic tone, but Pharm couldn't pay attention to what it was because in his mind his last brain cells were replaying the conversation he had with Team about teaching a lesson to the guy who was now standing in front of him.
"You! YOU!", Pharm began very eloquently, trying to get his revenge. But Team was right, he wasn't capable of doing anything too drastic. It wasn't his way of dealing with life's problems. In fact, whenever he felt sad or angry, his first reaction was to cook something and… this was when an idea came to his mind.
"Is that your apartment?", Pharm pointed at the unit across the hall with his slender finger, earning a nod in confirmation from the taller man.
"That's exactly what I just explained! My God, you're kind of clueless off the internet too, aren't you?", d_rw teased the shorter guy with disdain.
Pharm snorted indignantly at the rude remark directed at his person who was usually described as kind and gracious, but soon pulled himself together. He retrieved the bags from his enemy's arms and then said menacingly before entering the apartment:
"Good to know! You can wait for what's to come! You'll hear from me, D underline RW!", Pharm said entering the house, closing the door with his foot and leaving a very confused neighbor in the hallway.
"Hey, I have a name! It is Dean, you weirdo!", the man yelled and then looked around to make sure no one but the smaller male inside the apartment had heard his random outburst. It wouldn't do his reputation any good to be seen losing his temper over an argument like that!
"Wait and you'll see! I'll give you a taste of your own poison, you idiot!", Pharm was muttering to himself while cooking something. And for "cooking", it was more to try to destroy whatever was inside the pot on the stove, which got Team's attention once again.
"Ok, what happened now?! Did the stove try to hurt or something? Because you seem close to kicking the poor thing out of anger.", Team teased his friend, trying to hold back his laughter. It was very tempting to see Pharm being so pissed off.
Team and Pharm became friends back in college days and now, long after graduation, they were still together, currently sharing an apartment as housemates. Therefore, it was possible to say that Team knew a lot about his friend and that this behavior was quite unusual for him.
"Team, you won't believe what I've just found out! That crazy hater who leaves me stupid messages is our neighbor!", Pharm turned to his friend, with fire in his eyes and disappointed at the reaction -- or lack of it -- that the other male demonstrated.
"Oh that! Yeah… I've known that for a while.", Team shrugged and scratched his head in embarrassment.
"You what?! You knew that and never told me about it?! Why, Team?! Why?!", he demanded desperately.
"It doesn't matter now!", the boy said waving his hand as if to dismiss the subject and move on to the next topic. "What are you going to do about it?!"
“It's simple, my friend! I'm gonna show that bastard that if his food tastes bad it's his fault not mine!”, Pharm answered simply.
"Okay, but how do you intend to do this?" Team asked genuinely curious, his eyebrows rising in anticipation.
It was at that moment Team knew a war was about to start. Or, at least, that's what Pharm's creepy smile and glowing gaze indicated.
A few moments later, the doorbell of the apartment across the hall was heard and one of its occupants went to answer it.
To the brown-eyed man's surprise, the unit's resident seemed clearly to have been interrupted during his shower, as he had a towel wrapped around his waist, damp hair and drops of water were running vaguely down his body. Leaving at plain sight well built muscles covered by a skin that appeared to be so...
"Oi, what are you doing here?!", the tall man asked the visitor.
The boy took a few moments to reconnect his brain cells back to normal, but when he did it he decided to just say, "Open your mouth!"
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?!", the man shot back at him.
"Come on! Open your mouth wide!", he insisted and pointed at a stick with a beautiful star-shaped candy stuck to it in front of his mouth.
Dean rolled his eyes, slipped a smug smile on his lips and after folding his muscular arms in front of his chest, finally said, "You're crazy, if you think I'm going to eat something prepared by a complete stranger!".
"Don't be annoying, big guy! I'm gonna prove to you that my food is good! Now open your mouth, ok!", insisted Pharm.
"Are you always this crazy or--", Dean started to complain, but he didn't have time to finish his sentence because the other was fast enough to shove the food inside his mouth when he had the chance.
The sudden action got the better of him. The sweet dough had dissolved on his tongue and as the taste coated his taste buds, he had to suppress a moan of pleasure. The candy was very, very good.
"So... what does it taste like?", the cook asked him with bright eyes. It was clear he was anxious to know Dean's opinion about the candy.
"Why are you so sure this is good?", the taller one decided to avoid giving a direct answer and shot another question to his interlocutor.
"Hey, don't you--", Pharm tried to protest, but they were interrupted by a tall blonde man that emerged from inside the apartment.
"Hey Dean! Did you order food?"
The tall blond looked like a model from the pages of a fashion magazine, or maybe, judging by the amount of tattoos visible in the exposed skin his tank top let out seen, he was probably an idol or something, Pharm thought dazzled by the way the golden headed man walked towards the door and stopped right in front of him. Looking easy and charming, the man displayed a smile capable of lighting up the room.
"Hold on, I know you! You're the Nong Cook who lives across the hall, right?", to which he just nodded in agreement. "You can call me Phi Win, ok?", the blonde offered amiably until he noticed the candy bowl in his hands.
"Wow, these candies look great! Did you make them?", the blonde asked taking the stick from the smaller boy's hand and sticking it in a candy without asking for permission or waiting for an answer. "Wow, and it tastes even better! Can Phi take those sweets, Nong?", he asked using the power of his blinding smile.
"O-Of course, Phi!", Pharm blushed a lot trying to force himself to answer something to the handsome guy in front of him.
"Thanks!", Win said, still munching on the candy and calmly walking away with the bowl.
It was absurdly incomprehensible that someone with such a cool vibe as Win could share an apartment with the grim-faced man that was left in front of Pharm now. It was almost as if Win was the Sun, bright and comfortable, and Dean the Moon, quiet and mysterious.
But before his thoughts drifted further, Pharm realized he was alone with his enemy again, and silence settled between them. Both men looked at each other uneasily, until the cook decided to break the silence.
"So…", Pharm began.
"So, bye!", Dean raised his hand and waved at the boy as he closed the door in his face.
"Hey! Come back here you idiot! Will you stop commenting nonsense in my videos?", the boy knocked on the door as he asked desperately and without an answer.
When the cook realized it was useless to insist, he shouted a threat "You'll hear from me again!" and went back to his apartment, slamming the door on the way.
Little did the youtuber know that Dean was unable to share a proper review of the candy because his mouth was still feeling flooded with the immaculate flavor he'd had the chance to taste. It was the best thing he had ever eaten in his entire life, even better because he was being fed by a handsome, charming guy.
"Easy there, big boy!", Dean muttered to himself as he placed a hand over his pounding heart.
Then, remembering the recent events, Dean went to where his friend was tasting the sweets and took the bowl from his hands. "This belongs to me!", he said with a pout forming on his lips.
"Hey, hey! Calm down, kitty! I'm your ally!" Win teased with a smug smile at which Dean growled… or would roar be more appropriate to describe?
"Horrible! Hateful! Inedible!", were the last words Dean said as he munched on the candy before going inside his own room to enjoy the treat in more privacy.
"Hey, Pharm~! How can I help you?", were Win's happy words heard by Dean who was concentrating on reading a volume in the living room and hadn't been interested in answering the door when he heard the bell moments before. However, if he had known in advance that the charming cook would be on the other side, he would certainly have ignored his reading to pay attention to him. Not that he would show that, of course.
"Oh, hey, P'Win!", the boy replied in a weak and unusual tone.
Since Pharm had decided to prove to Dean that his food was tasty, it wasn't uncommon to see the young man paying a visit to their apartment either to bring in new dishes or to borrow a last-minute ingredient. It wasn't really "borrowing" because with how much Pharm had been cooking for Dean and Win to eat, you could say they had a private chef, so they were really happy to contribute.
Due to this intimacy that was starting to build between them, it was easy for Dean to see that there was something wrong with the visitor now and that made him put the book down on the couch for good and go see what was going on.
"Can I borrow some flour, Phi?", the boy asked with faded brown eyes. There was definitely something wrong with him.
As Win headed back toward the door with the ingredient in hand, Dean gave him a light nudge, praying his signal would be understood. However, oblivious to what was going on -- or, perhaps, it was Dean who could read Pharm too well -- the blond could understand too little to make something about it.
Dean scratched his head in frustration and decided to take matters into his own hands. "Listen, kid!", he said, addressing Pharm, "Today we have practice at the pool, so whatever you cook, make 8 portions and deliver to this address here at 3 pm.", the tanned man tried to speak in a disinterested tone that would only go unnoticed by those who didn't know him well. It wasn't Win's case, who displayed a smug smile watching the scene and finally understanding the hint that his friend had given him moments before.
In any case, the provocation achieved its goal, because as soon as Pharm's brain registered Dean's words, the boy got a little color in his face -- red with anger -- and managed to summon the energy to respond. "I'm not your private cook, you idiot!", Pharm replied and snatched the small card from Dean's hands as he marched back to his apartment holding the flour in one arm and crumpled up the card with his free hand as he grumbled about his neighbor's lack of courtesy.
"If you wanted to make the boy happy, just be direct, you idiot!", Win teased after closing the door, still grinning widely.
"Shut up, idiot!", Dean replied simply, turning and walking to his room while whistling a song he'd heard on the radio earlier that morning.
"Hold on, let me get this straight.", Team was scratching his head as if that would help him put together the bits of information Pharm had given him between yelling "He's so pretentious!" and "He's such an idiot!". Then he continued: "Not only you're cooking for your favorite hater and his housemate, but also for all the friends they have."
"TEAM!", Pharm retorted in exasperation and blushing a lot. It was a really weird scenario when someone put that way, but as usual, cooking made him forget about his problems and that was what he needed most at the moment.
After Dean stopped leaving annoying comments on his vlogs, Pharm thought he would find peace, but things didn't turn out that way. He began to see messages increasing in numbers from people talking about his appearance in a very rude way.
They were very suggestive comments about what the subscriber intended to do to Pharm. They were explicit to the point that made him very uncomfortable, a true harassment, making him numb and feeling without knowing what to do but leave them unanswered. However, the silent treatment didn't seem to have any effect, as the comments increased in quantity and intensity over time.
Fortunately, with the new task at hand, he had something else to worry about. It was fun to research and prepare something that was tasty and nutritious, as it was intended for a team of swimmers.
"Oh, and I'm going to need you to help me deliver it, Team!", Pharm suddenly shot at his friend who paused in his action to turn to the other.
"Why do I have to help you feed those people?!", Team asked, sounding offended.
"Because you're the best friend in the world!", Pharm used all the power of his pleading gaze to persuade the other who had no choice but to agree with a resigned sigh.
The day passed smoothly and it wasn't hard to find the place where Dean, Win and their team trained. Arriving there, both boys were greeted with enthusiasm by the hungry athletes and the cook received countless praises for his unparalleled talent. Everyone had promised to subscribe to his channel and leave a lot of comments.
As they prepared to leave, Dean approached where the boys were and tried to use his best tone to invite Team to step aside for a moment. "Hey Nong! Win's calling you in the locker rooms!", he used his thumb to point at the door on the other side of the pool.
"Uh, what could this be, Team?", Pharm asked naively.
"It must be about the offer of a spot on the team. He's already commented on it before…", the boy tried to act normally and went on his way. "Go ahead, I'll take the bowls later!", Team waved to his friend as he walked away.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, Dean realized that the sadness he had detected in Pharm was back in the boy's eyes and it physically hurt his heart.
"Hey, Pharm…", Dean called, but he felt the question stuck in his throat as he was stared at by the pair of big brown eyes. What could he say? All Pharm seemed to know about him, other than the fact that he was a guy who left annoying messages in his videos, was that he was an equally annoying neighbor. He was nothing or no one to reach out and hold that delicate chin and try to comfort the man before him. It wasn't his right, even if his hands itched to do just that, followed by an uncomfortable blush that took over his face.
Suddenly, Dean felt himself choking on the lump in his throat and Pharm was desperate to help him, patting him on the back. "Hey, hey! Do you need a doctor? Don't tell me you're allergic to something I used in the sandwiches?!"
"N-no, I…", but they were both interrupted by Team and Win who were back.
"Are you alright, Dean?", Win's brows furrowed in concern.
"Yeah, don't worry.", Dean replied, but with his gaze still locked on Pharm. With luck, his words could reach another meaning inside the boy's mind who still looked scared from his coughing and sad about whatever problem he was facing alone.
"Well, we're going now…", Team interfered and taking the bags, led a confused Pharm towards the exit.
Left behind, one of the swimmers scolded the other for his act. "If you're worried about him, ask about it, man!", Win said rolling his eyes, which Dean ignored.
Practice followed its normal pace and at the beginning of the evening the athletes went home as usual. Remembering that he needed to buy some things at the grocery store, Dean asked Win to go ahead and stayed to do shopping. He preferred to carry out the activity alone, to be honest. Until he saw a familiar figure entering the establishment.
Dressed in a simple white shirt and sweatpants, Pharm walked into the place ahead of him, shoulders slumped and looking distracted.
It felt like a chance sent by the universe, and this time Dean decided to take it.
If you had the chance to read the threadfic in which this fanfic is based on (available on my Twitter acc: @fantamingo) and -- by any chance -- remember the main storyline, it will be clear that I've made some little changes on the first two chapters. However, now I've decided to take a bigger detour from the original plot and add a bit of… sauce on this, I guess! I hope you like it! See you next time!~
Pharm had been feeling a little feverish and tired since he'd come home from delivering snacks to Dean's Swimming Team, but that didn't stop him from going grocery shopping. As he wasn't feeling well, he decided to buy some ingredients to make soup and maybe some tea before going to bed.
The memory the soup brought back from his argument with Dean made him contort his face into a grimace, but he soon came back to his senses. The guy wasn't as difficult to handle as his comments made him appear at first. If he was being honest, he even liked to cook for him and watch his reactions when tasting the food. Not that the giant knew it was that easy to read his reactions. He was also grateful to have something to distract himself with that day as he prepared snacks for the Swimming Team. It even looked like Dean had done it on purpose, and if that was the case, Pharm couldn't help but feel good about it. Even if it didn't solve his current problem.
By the way, now that he was standing in front of the supermarket shelf, it felt like life was mocking him. "Why do people under 1.75m have such a hard life?", he thought to himself, making a pout appear on his lips.
Pharm stretched his entire body, legs and arms, to reach the packet of bean sprouts, but still, it was impossible to reach the shelf. He was starting to feel worse, as if his vision was blurry and he ended up losing his balance, falling backwards. Luckily, he bumped into something that kept him from falling down the middle of the supermarket aisle in front of whoever was there to witness it.
"Are you okay?", a familiar voice asked as helped him back to his feet with the help of large, gentle, patient hands.
"I'm--", the feverish boy was about to reply when his eyes finally focused on the tall man in front of him. He smelled like swimming pool chlorine and something stronger, woody. It was an invitation to comfort and Pharm couldn't resist accepting it, letting himself fall into the arms of the man in front of him.
To say that Dean felt panic at the sight of Pharm passing out in his arms would be an understatement. He just didn't lose his mind because he needed to remain calm enough to give the boy proper medical attention.
However, once they got to the emergency room and the doctor on duty checked the results of all the clinical exams, Dean felt relaxed at the diagnosis. They would still have to wait for the patient to wake up to confirm -- which should happen in the next hour, probably -- after he'd had the IV, but apparently, the boy had just been without food for many hours and that had led him to faint.
"How can a cook prepare so much food for 8 hungry athletes and forget about himself?", Dean whispered the sentence in a tone that seemed lost between a real scolding or just an impressed praise for the other's dedication. "Please don't do that anymore...", Dean whispered next to the delicate little hand he held gently between his two that looked so big and awkward. He was afraid to use the least amount of force and break that porcelain angel in front of him.
"Hmmm? Where am I?", the soft voice asked suddenly sounding still sleepy.
"Hey... It's okay, Pharm! You passed out while shopping and I brought you to the hospital!", Dean explained in a low voice.
"What happened?", Pharm asked, frowning.
Dean sighed at the confused figure in front of him and had to suppress a groan as he noticed the boy's cuteness on the bed. "When was the last time you ate something, Pharm? How many times did you drink water today?", he asked in a serious tone, but not too harshly.
Instantly, Pharm blushed as he remembered that he had been quite careless with himself these past few days. Stress occupied his mind and he cooked to relieve the tension, but the one who ended up eating everything was Team, since he himself didn't feel hungry. "Please forgive me?", the boy asked taking the hand that was between Dean's and joining the other in a "wai" gesture to show that he was really sorry.
Dean sighed again and reached for Pharm's hands, preventing him from continuing the formal gesture. "No need for that, Pharm. I'm just worried about you, okay? Is something bothering you and that's the reason why you haven't been eating?"
Dean looked genuinely worried, which made Pharm blush even more. Fortunately, the latter was spared further clarification, as the nurse arrived to check on his condition. Not long after, the doctor said he was free to leave as long as he remembered to eat properly.
"Thank you so much for everything Dean... I promise I won't give you trouble like that again, ok?", Pharm smiled embarrassed. It was a big change to be the one to apologize to the guy who, up until a few weeks ago, had made his life a representation of Hell. But the truth was, he really appreciated his help at this point.
"It's okay, let's go!", Dean said taking the boy's hand and leading him across the street.
"What?! What do you mean? Where are we going?!", Pharm asked confused, but still letting his hand remain entwined with Dean's. It was comfortable and warm, he felt safe that way.
"You said you don't want to give me any more trouble, but for that you have to make sure you eat, right? Here we are!", Dean pointed to the restaurant they had stopped in front of. Looking through the windows Pharm could see a few people having dinner at this hour and his stomach growled at the mere thought of being able to eat soon.
"Looks like your stomach agrees!", Dean said smiling and letting a dimple appear on his cheek. His smile was wide, but made up of tiny white teeth. His eyes almost closed completely to make room for the new curve that appeared in his face, but the result was simply charming. He looked like a smiling child: innocent and sincere.
Once again that day Pharm had blushed without being able to help it, totally getting carried away by the emotions Dean was making him feel. He was angry at being teased to cook for the Swimming Team, shame at having forgotten to eat, and now amazement at seeing that angelic smile on the other's face that he had grown used to always seeing serious and emotionless.
"Of-of course! Let's go!", he answered the invitation and entered the restaurant first to avoid giving the other a full display of his red cheeks.
Lucky for Dean, he'd seen and greatly appreciated the blush that had appeared in them. Not just because the boy looked even more adorable that way, but also because this showed that he was recovering well from the earlier fainting.
Their order was simple, just pasta with seafood sauce and soda for both of them. Nothing too elaborate, but quite tasty and they enjoyed it without major interruptions.
When they were in line to pay the bill, Pharm insisted on paying himself, since Dean had helped him a lot that day and, even protesting with the argument that he had invited him to dinner, Pharm had been resolute, whereupon the taller one could only agree.
Both guys agreed to walk back to the condo, as the night weather was surprisingly pleasant with a cool breeze blowing in every now and then. Dean could barely pay attention to the path in front of him because the way Pharm's hair was blowing in the wind was enough of a distraction for him, until he was caught doing it.
"Is there something on my face?", Pharm asked suddenly, touching his own face as if he could recognize what was wrong there.
"No! There's nothing!", Dean replied frustrated while waving his hands negatively. However, he could hear Win screaming in the back of his mind that if he wanted to ask Pharm something, he should do it directly. So, he decided to test his luck, just as he had decided to do hours before when he saw Pharm entering the supermarket.
"Nong Pharm, I know it's none of my business, but is there something going on? Do you want to talk about it?"
"Nong Pharm, I know it's none of my business, but is there something going on? Do you want to talk about it?", Dean asked and, once again, Pharm felt strange as he noticed the obvious tone of concern in the other's voice, however he couldn't help but laugh at his own remark.
"What now? Why are you laughing?", Dean asked, his brow furrowed giving him the look of a confused child at Pharm's unexpected reaction. He imagined the boy might be curious about his motives for asking about it or even suspicious to see his "ex-hater" offering support like that, but in no scenario he had imagined Pharm would laugh. Laugh to the point of showing the pearly teeth that almost took over his entire face. It was beautiful to watch the way he threw his head back, having fun with his eyes closed in a half-moon shape.
"Speaking like that, it sounds like you care about me!", Pharm stopped laughing, holding his belly with one hand and wiping a tear that had rolled from one eye with the other.
"Of course I worry!", Dean replied feeling a little frustrated.
The seriousness that took over Dean's expressions made Pharm finally realize that the other might be being sincere. "It didn't seem like it until a few days ago…", he muttered.
Feeling that he had confessed a lot more than he had planned and still hadn't received any response in return, Dean decided to change the focus of the conversation. "Maybe your food is making me change my mind about you, who knows?", he shrugged.
Now Pharm was sure the moment of sincerity had drained the other's tone. But instead of thinking further about what had made the other change the topic, the cook decided to ask something else. "Shall we go get some ice cream?", to which Dean immediately accepted.
Pharm had chosen the raspberry flavor and was surprised when Dean ordered a chocolate one with colorful sprinkles and bubblegum. "He really looks like a child! Adorable!", he thought and smiled to himself.
"What's up?", Dean asked, it being his turn to worry if he'd spilled chocolate syrup on his face or shirt, but being spared the embarrassment when Pharm changed his light expression to a more serious one, as if something had crossed his mind.
Once again struggling with worry, Dean decided to press on with the question he'd asked earlier. "So…"
Pharm sighed, knowing full well what the other was referring to. "So… maybe it's easier for you to see. It's not like it's hidden at all."
Pharm held the ice cream in one hand, using the other to reach into his pants pocket for his phone. He typed in the password and opened it to a screen, then handed the device over to Dean to read.
As soon as his eyes took in the words and their meaning, Dean made a mental note to get on YouTube at the first opportunity after getting home and distribute dislikes in the comments left on Pharm's vlogs.
"I have something in my pants that would look good on that pretty little mouth of yours!"
"I can give you something better than a pot to hold, boy!"
"You don't do deliveries, but I have a package here for you."
They were invasive and embarrassing messages. Many had as many likes as ordinary comments from real fans saying they liked the videos. Because that's exactly what it looked like: harassment being normalized for those watching from the outside, terrifying for those who live the consequences.
Pharm had stopped eating his ice cream and looked like he had shrunk. Sharing that information with Dean, whose details he hadn't even shared with his best friend Team, was quite different for him. However, as embarrassing as it was to know that Dean was reading those messages, it was also a bit of a relief to be able to share the weight.
Dean mustered up all the composure and patience he had to maintain control in the face of this situation. He needed to be strong to help Pharm as he wanted. "We need to go to the Police Station, Nong.", he spoke in a decisive tone.
"Police station?", the words echoed out of Pharm's mouth as if they didn't make sense.
"That's a crime, Pharm! These people are harassing you and can't get away with it!"
"Dean, I know it looks bad, but they are still part of my audience!", Pharm tried to explain and noticed Dean's expression changing to something bitter, so he tried to change the strategy. "Look, if I start making a police report every time someone annoys me like that in the comments, I'll end up being seen as someone who is immature and doesn't know how to deal with exposure, you know?"
It didn't make any sense at all! That's what Dean wanted to say, but at the same time, he noticed that those words took a certain energy from Pharm to say. Of course he was under the influence of these absurd messages, to the point he had forgotten to eat properly! However, Dean also knew that he needed to respect the other's decision. It wasn't his right to tell him what to do or not do. All he could really offer was his presence and support.
"Are you sure?", he asked before giving up altogether.
"I'll think about it, okay?", Pharm promised genuinely. He would consider the option after he got home and thought about it. It's not like he loved those messages after all!
Dean sighed a little relieved to have at least presented Pharm with a viable solution. He took a breath to build up his courage and asked, "Can you please call me when you decide to go? I can come along, keep you company… you know…"
Again, the offer sounded very clear, almost desperate. It was more like Dean was asking not to be left behind and not forcing Pharm to do something. He was really worried about the situation and wanted to help. "Crazy!" Pharm thought.
"Careful, D underline RW, people are going to start misjudging you!", Pharm teased snorting.
"What do you mean?", Dean asked and the little wrinkle between his brows was back again.
"It looks like you like me!", Pharm let it out without thinking too much, only realizing the weight of those words after feeling that they were very real floating around him.
Dean blushed a lot and wanted to dip his head between his shoulders and march home, but something sting in his chest and he decided to face Pharm in the eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, but heard a voice very different from his own filling the space around them.
"The cook has a boyfriend!", the sentence was interrupted by a hiccup. "That's why he ignores my messages!", Another hiccup and then a burp.
Dean and Pharm both turned toward the nasty voice and were startled to connect it to a man who shouldn't stand out in the crowd. In fact, he didn't look any older than Dean and was a little shorter as well. However, it was apparent that he was not perfectly balanced. He looked drunk and when the breeze blew in his favor, the guys noticed the odor of alcohol and confirmed their suspicion.
"Who are you? What do you want here?", Dean asked stepping forward and trying to shield Pharm.
"Hey, Pharm!", the drunk called the name very loudly, getting the attention of some people who were passing by at that hour. It was still dinnertime and many people were taking the opportunity to walk on the street or were on their way somewhere. Even noticing the guy's condition, people didn't give it attention, they just gave him a nasty look and then did their best to erase the drunk's mental image. Society is always trying to forget the evils that surround it.
"Pharm!", another hiccup. "You know who I am… don't you?", the man's gaze seemed dull, but it had focus, just like a mannequin.
Pharm stepped out of Dean's protective dome, but only to try to get a better look at the man who seemed to know his name and that he was a cook.
"Alex69?", the question left Pharm's lips in a mixture of shock, surprise and fear. A shiver ran down his spine and he felt the air rush out of his lungs.
"Pharm, do you know this guy?", Dean asked and these were the last words the boy heard before he lost touch with reality.
Pharm hadn't passed out, but he felt as if he couldn't control his own body. The world seemed frozen around him or, rather, he had frozen in place, as he could clearly hear Dean calling his name and lightly touching his shoulders. He was gentle even at this moment when panic took over his eyes.
In fact, that was what was taking over Pharm right now. Panic in its purest form.
When "d_rw" was just the username of an annoying guy who left crazy comments on his vlogs, Pharm had considered meeting him in real life to solve the problem. However, remembering newspaper reports that showed young people raped or even murder victims after meeting strangers they met on the internet, he had changed his mind.
Meeting "d_rw" or rather Dean, in real life, made Pharm let his guard down. He had become so used to his velvety voice, boyish smile and polite manner that he forgot that primitive sense of self-preservation that should have taken hold of him in such cases. It was like meeting someone he knew in a past life. They had disagreements, which he almost missed when they didn't happen. Dean represented something inexplicable to him, but very comfortable and safe.
However, the guy before them now was the exact opposite of all the peace Dean represented. There was a moment when Pharm had compared Win to the Sun and Dean to the Moon. In that exact moment, he realized how wrong he had been in that judgment. Win was the charismatic type, but he did that to everyone. He didn't measure kindnesses and smiled broadly. Dean, meanwhile, was calm and nonchalant at all times, unless you managed to break through his dense armor. However, once one succeeded, from inside that dark cave came an intense and powerful light, warm and precious. Dean was the Sun and Pharm liked his warmth, he craved for it.
"Pharm!", he heard the drunk calling his name again and it made the lump in his throat grow. His eyes pricked with the effort of holding back unshed tears and his legs felt exhausted as they tried to keep him on his feet.
"Alex69" was one of the stalkers who had left numerous messages in Pharm's vlogs. Not satisfied with the silent treatment, he found the cook's profile on other social media and filled his inbox with nude photos, indecent proposals and curses of all kinds when he realized he would have no return.
"Alex69", from what Pharm had researched, was unemployed and didn't have a very active social life. At least, online. He was exactly what internet experts call dangerous. Pharm had felt it only by looking at the guy's profile picture through his laptop screen, but having him there, in front of him, next to Dean, made Pharm even more nervous. What if the guy tried something against Dean because of him?!
Pharm finally managed to swallow the lump in his throat and struggled to squeeze a few words between his dry lips. His ice cream had fallen to the floor without him noticing.
"P'Dean… this…", Pharm tried and then took a deep breath before continuing. "He's one of the stalkers who keep sending me these messages…", Pharm explained, praying that his few words would be able to convey all the terror he was feeling. He was gripping Dean's sleeve and the taller one was sure that at that moment his heart melted, solidified again and became stronger. Pharm was scared of the guy in front of them, so he needed to be strong and…
Before the swimmer could do anything, he was startled by Pharm finally being able to move again. The slender body stepped in front of him as if to protect him and still keeping one hand firmly gripping Dean's shirt sleeve, Pharm addressed the guy.
"Alex, that's your name, right? I've been silent all this time, but this is the last straw.", he said in a serious tone that Dean was sure he'd only heard before in mafia movies, which made him -- even in that moment of absolute panic -- wonder about the possibility that Pharm, Pharm the cook, Pharm his neighbor, was related to some mafia boss. At that moment, it seemed to be very possible because the boy showed an unparalleled calm when talking to the drunk guy. If it weren't for the hand anchored to his sleeve, Dean would believe he wasn't even nervous at all. But he was, they both were. Still, Pharm had stepped forward to solve the situation.
"I have my cell phone ready to call the police in case you take one more step!", Pharm said and only then did Dean realize that the smaller male had, at some point, picked up his phone and was actually doing as he had announced.
"What's this, Pharm? I just want to talk to you! I'm a humble fan of yours!", Alex said trying to smile, but it turned his face into a grimace. "Is this how you treat your fan?", Alex took a step forward and Pharm pressed the phone to his ear.
Within moments, Pharm identified himself to the emergency operator and explained that he was being approached by a drunk guy who was preventing him from going home.
Alex realized the boy was serious, cursed something under his breath and ran away. "You'll regret this, kid!", the man yelled before turning down the street.
Dean still tried to run after him, but lost him in the crowd that walked down the street. With no time to waste, Dean walked back to where Pharm was, looking much calmer and having informed the emergency that the guy was gone.
"Are you okay?", Pharm asked and Dean was startled because those were the exact words he was about to say. His chest swelled with pride and fascination. Pharm was so much more brave and stronger than he could even imagine. The swimmer felt his chest bursting with a feeling that was not new, but was beginning to be noticed with greater intensity.
"Pharm, can I hug you?", Dean asked, totally forgetting to answer the question asked.
Taking this as a delayed reaction to their being approached by Alex, Pharm took Dean in his arms and hugged him tightly to his chest.
It was quite a sight to see the swimmer bent over like that to be hugged by the cook, but it made all the sense in the world to them. Pharm hoped he could calm Dean down and the latter hoped that in the hug the message of what his feelings meant at that moment was clear.
The two took the way to the building where they lived a little faster and quieter than before. When they arrived in front of Pharm's door, Dean decided to speak up.
"Don't worry, ok? Our building has a good security system and it's impossible for that guy to get in here!", Dean said referring to the security guards that had 24 hour surveillance and the electronic fingerprint recognition lock systems in each apartment.
"It's like you're advertising the building for new people to come live here, big guy!", Pharm joked, pointing a finger at the broad chest in front of him.
Dean held the finger pointed at him in his hand and then replied: "I have to take care of grandma's real estate!".
Pharm made an exaggerated expression of surprise, but still kept his finger inside Dean's hand. "I can't believe the owner of the building, that sweet, lovely lady, has such an insufferable grandson!", he rolled his eyes theatrically.
"Ouch! You hurt my feelings, Pharm!", Dean complained, pouting.
"Ow, oh! Don't look like that, Dean!", he finally retrieved his finger to lightly tap the shoulder in front of him.
"Where did the honorific go?", Dean asked surprised and missing the thin and delicate finger inside his hand.
"Good question! We can go look for it tomorrow!", Pharm said trying to turn around to enter the apartment when he realized the meaning of his words at the same time Dean did.
"Does that mean we have a date?"
"That means we've had quite a day, Dean! Bye!", Pharm said turning around, his hand on the knob, but unwilling to open the door to enter.
"Wait, Nong…", the sweet voice seemed to have become even more tempting.
"What is it?", Pharm turned to face Dean and was surprised when he realized that the taller man had leaned over and had his face at the same height as his now. It was quite an effect to see that pretty face so close.
"Good night, Nong Pharm! Have sweet dreams!", he smiled in an easy and light way that made butterflies well up inside the cook's stomach which turned red as a tomato.
"Good night, see you tomorrow P'Dean!", Pharm replied, closing his eyes and turning around too quickly. In the blink of an eye, Pharm had entered the apartment and now a door separated the two again.
And because Dean wished, Pharm had the most peaceful night in a while, even after all they'd been through.
Pharm had woken up feeling refreshed the next morning. Yes, he still had a lot of trouble ahead, but now he felt like he had someone on his side. And that someone deserved some delicious food to start the day, right?
The cook got out of bed, took a quick shower and put on clean clothes, without worrying too much, because his mind was already working thinking about what to prepare. 45 minutes later he had a tray ready and it looked very appetizing.
Nearly stumbling along the way due to his known lack of attention, Pharm reached the front door of the apartment next door and pressed the bell using his elbow. However, to his surprise, it was Win who opened the door.
Trying not to be offended by the way the visitor's face changed to an expression of sadness upon seeing him, Win already gave the explanation it was needed: "Hey, I don't think Dean will be available to eat your food today, kid."
"What? What happened? Did he leave early or something?", Pharm asked confused, his curiosity overriding everything else.
Win frowned and replied. "No, not at all! Ever since he arrived last night he's been sick. I told him to go to the hospital, but he's so stubborn, you know?", the blond boy shrugged his shoulders in a sign of giving up.
Hearing those words, something awakened inside Pharm. He didn't wait another minute and walked into the unit without saying more than a "Excuse me" as he passed Win, handing the tray into the hands of the man who was barely quick enough to react.
The apartment had two bedrooms and it was not difficult to guess which one was occupied by Dean, as one had the door closed and the other that lay open was completely messed up and with no one inside.
Pharm hesitated for a moment, deciding if he should knock before entering, but a moan coming from inside made him hurry as he made the decision. "Dean?"he asked, trying to find the man in the dark room. The cook found the light switch and flipped it. When the room was lit, a louder groan was heard and it gave away the position it was coming from: a small mountain under the covers in the middle of the bed.
Pharm came close to the body and reached out to touch the other man's forehead. Dean was burning with fever.
Still not opening his eyes, Dean faintly whispered the name of the boy beside him. "Phaarm~". His voice was weak and the word seemed to have been uttered with some effort, as if his throat was dry or aching. A thought passed through Pharm and then he left the room with a brief "Don't worry, I'm here now!"
The cook headed straight for the kitchen and started digging through the cupboards for the ingredients he would need. There wasn't much to work with, and just then, Pharm remembered that Dean had probably seen him passing out at the supermarket the day before because he'd gone there to shop too. The conclusion made him laugh to himself with a mixture of realization and shame.
Win, then, hearing the little boy's noise in his kitchen, decided to intervene. "What are you doing?" he asked, munching on part of the sandwich Pharm had made for breakfast.
"Ah, Phi!", Pharm replied distractedly as if he had forgotten that the man lived there with Dean. "Actually, I'm going to need your help!", Pharm said opening a wide smile that the tall blond boy would learn to respect and fear.
It turns out that Pharm's smile was far from sweet. It was the little squirrel's strategy to dominate and control his victims, or so Win would go on to narrate that story whenever he had the chance to tell it to anyone who didn't listen to it yet.
Pharm recruited Win to help him with Dean's fever. The eldest was assigned to make go to the supermarket and drugstore whenever Pharm needed something. When he had everything he needed, Pharm dismissed the senior who was already late for practice with the Swimming Team, thanking him for his help and still staying at the apartment to take care of Dean giving him food and medicine at the right times.
The fever peak passed when Pharm used a damp piece of cloth to relieve the high body temperature of Dean, who was complaining that it was ticklish. "You're really a kid, huh? Who else could get a fever after eating ice cream at night?", Pharm asked more to himself than to the sick man he diligently tended to.
When the day had changed to night, Dean was already showing signs of improvement and was sleeping peacefully. Still, Pharm wanted to be sure and stayed to watch. Sitting in a chair beside the bed, he tried not to fall asleep.
Around 6 am, Dean finally woke up. He felt his body complaining from the exertion as if he weren't even a professional athlete. "This serves you to learn not to eat ice cream at night!", Dean complained to himself as he massaged the back of his neck and headed towards the kitchen. His stomach grumbled with hunger, a sign that he had fully recovered.
When he arrived in the kitchen, Dean was in for a surprise: Pharm was cooking something on the stove. On his stove. In his kitchen! And, for a few moments, he wondered if he was still feverish. Pharm was wearing an apron that was too big for his size and that made the scene even more unreal.
"What are you doing?", Dean asked with a sore throat and hoarse voice.
"What are you doing here?! You shouldn't have gotten out of bed now! You don't have a fever anymore, but you're still too weak to walk like this!", Pharm scolded him.
"Hey, this is my house, can I--"
"Yes, yes, yes! You can complain sitting in the chair!", Pharm guided him to one of the seats at the dining table.
Dean resigned himself to sitting and watched as Pharm hummed a song under his breath as he cooked. A smile crossed the swimmer's face.
Pharm finished his plate moments later and served Dean a bowl of soup. It was delicate but very tasty.
"Is it… good?", Pharm asked, trying to suppress a yawn. He was probably exhausted after spending the day as his private nurse.
"Almost like it's worth getting sick again to have this!", Dean blurted out between spoonfuls.
"Wow! It's the first time you've said anything nice about my food! But don't even mention getting sick again, please!", Pharm scolded him again.
Dean stopped eating his soup and stole a glance from the guy sitting across the table. Pharm watched him eat, but it was clear he was tired too. Dean thought and then had an idea.
"It's not like you care about my safety! You can go now!", Dean said with a pout and waving his hand towards the door.
"I can go the minute you finish… the soup!”, Pharm said, ignoring the teasing until something connected inside his mind. “Why did you use those words? How's your security connected to any if this?"
Dean then remembered something that had happened a long time ago: "The first time you saw me, I was naked in the hallway because Win pranked me and locked me out of the apartment. You thought I was going to attack you When I tried to ask for your help but you were too drunk to understand and attacked me with pepper spray. I was naked and temporarily blinded!"
As Dean told the story, pieces of the events came back in Pharm's mind, as if they had been a dream or a hallucination, but it was just alcoholic amnesia.
"So that's why you hate me so much?! And left those horrible comments in my videos?!", Pharm asked softly, finally putting the last piece of the puzzle together.
"I don't hate you, I just wanted to get some of your attention and explain what happened that night, but you...", Dean tried to explain, but it was in vain. Pharm had lost the fight against sleep and was sleeping on the table, his arms crossed serving as a pillow.
His expression was so sweet Dean could have sworn he was an angel. At the same time, the memory of how brave Pharm had been when he faced Alex last night was still vivid in his mind. How could he hate that man? His real feelings were very different from this.
Team had come out of his room yawning and massaging his shoulder, already thinking about what Pharm had prepared for breakfast. Probably something tasty, as the appetizing smell filled the apartment at this hour. He'd had a good night's sleep, but as soon as he got to the kitchen, he wondered if he was still sleeping. Because no way, in no possible scenario, would Win and Dean be sitting at his kitchen table having breakfast with Pharm. This could only be a dream!
Pharm and Dean were sitting on one side of the small table, putting food on each other's plates as they whispered to each other and exchanged sweet smiles and Win watched the scene with a grimace that was a mixture of horror and envy.
After some time standing at the entrance of the kitchen without moving, Team was noticed by the other three and Pharm called him, waving his hand in the direction of the available chair next to Win.
"Coffee is ready, Team! Let's eat!", the boy said with a wide smile.
Team glanced at the other occupants of the table, but Dean was still looking at Pharm -- who seemed oblivious to this fact -- and Win shrugged as if to indicate that he wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten there either, but there was no way to escape.
After taking a few bites of bread, tasting the soup and taking a sip of coffee, Team finally felt his brain working properly and managed to ask what had been bothering him from the beginning:
"What are you guys doing here anyway?"
"Team!", Pharm scolded him with a frown and a slight blush appearing on his cheeks. "They're here because they decided to help me…", he hesitated. "We're going to the Police Station as soon as we're done eating."
"Police station?", Team repeated without assimilating the initial meaning, needing a few seconds to react. However, when he did, he wasn't exactly friendly with the visitors. At least, not with one of them. "What did you do to my friend, you beast!", Team stood up abruptly from his seat and pointed a finger at Dean who for the first time had managed to interrupt his attentive staring at Pharm and exchanged the calm expression for a frown.
Pharm opened his mouth to scold Team once more, but Win stepped forward in his place and kept things under control.
"Calm down, boy!", the blonde asked and then began to explain.
Win told Team that Pharm had gone to their apartment to ask Dean's company to go to the Police Station to file a report because of the harassment he had been suffering online. After eavesdropping on their conversation, Win offered to come along as well. Just like Team did when realizing what it was about. "Great! I never liked that you just ignored your haters! It's past time to act and I'm going too!", he announced biting his bread once more which added a certain comic effect to the scene. It was funny to see Team so angry while chewing like that.
In any case, realizing that he had a lot of people supporting him gave Pharm the certainty that he was doing the right thing. He couldn't forgive himself if something happened to any of his friends if Alex or anyone else approached them like he had two days ago.
However, going to the police station seemed easier in theory than in practice. This is all because after being forced to wait for almost 2 hours to finally be heard, the police chief didn't seem very willing to help in their case.
After Pharm narrated how he had been suffering from the comments, the naked photos and the encounter with Alex who seemed to have stalked him, all the law officer had to say was, "But that's not a crime, kid!", with a sigh. which showed his frustration in wasting time with those four young men telling an absurd story.
The Swimming Team members exchanged a confused look and the blonde decided to speak up. "What do you mean by that, sir?", Win pressed, his brow furrowed.
"This guy texted you about how much he likes you, right?", the police chief asked Pharm.
Okay, the messages could be seen as lame pickup lines that could even be funny depending on the context. However, they were nothing but frightening when someone unknown sent them on all their social media like Alex did to Pharm. Even though he was ignored, the guy insisted on stalking Pharm, which was undoubtedly harassment in its most obvious form.
Pharm was silent, not quite sure what to say. How do you explain to a person that they should do their job better when you know that your own fate depends on that person's goodwill? It is quite complicated to act in this case, so the cook was trying to think of ways to explain how it affected his life in a severe and unfair way so that it would finally awaken the spirit of the police chief in front of him.
Noticing the boy's hesitation and interpreting this as uncertainty about the narrated facts, the police chief continued. "You say this guy followed you down the street, but you have a lot of subscribers on your channel, right? When you came in here, I recognized your face. I've seen my wife talking about the dishes you cook, kid!"
Now the police chief had gone too far comparing the kind and loving fans to Alex's totally inappropriate conduct. "I have a lot of followers, but that doesn't change the fact that he threatened me!" Pharm tried to explain.
The police chief exhaled audibly through his nose. "Did he have a knife or a gun? Something that could cause some kind of damage?", the man raised a teasing eyebrow in question.
"No, but he--", Pharm tried to explain, but was interrupted by the man in front of him.
"Boy, listen to me: if the guy didn't have a gun in his hand and the worst he said was that he was your fan wanting some attention, I'm sorry! But there's nothing I can do, okay?", the police chief said, not seeming the least bit sincere in his statement. In fact, he seemed relieved to save himself the trouble to open a new case.
"So there's nothing the Police can do?", Dean asked, annoyed after watching that absurd scene.
"Police officers are already quite worried about real crimes happening, children!", the police chief said, getting up and walking towards the door that he opened as a way to give his speech a visual effect. "I have in this hallway at least a dozen people willing to talk about real crimes with effects that don't just show up in the internet world!", the police chief laughed in a mocking tone. "By the way, do you know the option to block a contact? Maybe this is more useful than reporting a crime, kid!".
The four men looked at each other, unsure of what to say or do in the face of that provocation and that gave the police chief a chance to end the meeting.
"Listen up, boys! You're young! Go find something to do, eat the delicious food your friend makes and don't get into trouble, okay? Things are pretty complicated when I have to solve real crimes! Have a good day!", the police chief said leaving the room without giving further clarification.
Pharm was feeling humiliated, Dean was seething with anger, and Win and Team felt the embarrassment of not being able to do anything about the situation. The police chief was an idiot.
Seeing nothing else that could be done there, the group got up and left the room.
The group's morale was visibly affected after that interview with the police chief and Dean felt he needed to do something about it, after all it had been because of his persuasion that Pharm had finally given in to the idea of reporting the harassment.
"Pharm, I'm going to research what we can do, okay?", Dean said as they were walking down the Police Station hallway towards the exit. "I'm sure Granny has a friend who is a lawyer and can help us with this--", the swimmer was interrupted by a woman who stepped in front of the group.
The woman was an officer with long brown hair tied in a loose bun, a very striking face and despite not being much taller than Pharm, her presence exuded a sense of authority. Much more than the police chief himself had done moments before.
"Boys!", she said in a firm but soft voice. "I've heard the narrative of the crime and even if I can't do anything against my superior's order, I can hand this to you!", she said, handing Pharm a small business card. "Call me if you need anything or if the guy goes back to acting weird putting any of you in danger, okay? Take care!", she waved them goodbye as she mingled in the middle of the crowd taking over the hallway.
"Samantha Coates," Pharm muttered under his breath, reading the name on the business card.
"Wow, that was really nice of her!", Team said and then Win nudged him with his elbow, giving him a disapproving look.
"I'm serious! She seems competent! Much more so than that useless guy who talked to us before!", Team explained and walked away, his friends following shortly afterwards.
"Nong, is there anything I can do for you?" Dean asked for the thousandth time since they'd left the station.
"I'm fine, I just need time…", Pharm replied in a way that made his disappointment clear.
"I can…", Dean wanted to offer his company, his shoulder, anything that would make the man in front of him feel better, but he didn't know how to do that. To make everything worse, after leaving the Police Station, Team and Win decided to go to a cafe for a drink and Dean and Pharm were now alone. The swimmer was afraid to leave Pharm alone, as he couldn't come up with a good enough excuse to accompany him inside his own apartment.
"Don't worry Dean…", the informal treatment was back, it seemed, "I'm going to stay home today, cook something and try to think. Thanks for everything you've done for me ok? See you later!" , Pharm quickly thanked him and entered his apartment.
Dean stayed in the hallway for a few seconds, thinking about everything that had happened that morning, until he decided to take the elevator and go up to the apartment where his grandmother lived. He definitely needed to sort this out.
Pharm had found a pleasant rhythm as he kneaded the dough. It was something mechanical and that allowed him to distract himself, filling the spaces of his mind that had been occupied moments before with thinking too much about his own unsolved problems.
When the dough was ready, the cook put it in the oven, set the temperature and timer, and went to take a shower. A common routine for when he was cooking something of the sort that didn't demand so much attention. He had repeated this procedure countless times without anything going wrong.
However, as he got out of the shower, Pharm noticed a strange smell. Rushing to the kitchen with only a towel wrapped around his waist, he was startled to see the apartment beginning to be filled with thick black smoke. Seconds later, a loud, explosion-like sound rang out, and Pharm felt all his anxiety returning at once. The loud noise triggered a panic attack and all the boy could do was bend down and hold his ears as if to prevent him from hearing things happening around him.
Moments later, a pair of large, gentle hands took Pharm's arms and he felt the panic growing even more. The cook tried to remove his arms from the steady hands, fear still growing inside his chest, but unable to open his own eyes.
"Pharm, please open your eyes…", a familiar husky voice called with the sweetest tone as he cupped his chin gently.
And because Pharm saw something in Dean's eyes that gave him comfort, the smaller boy didn't hesitate to grab the taller's waist and bury his face in his broad chest. It was amazing how peaceful he felt every time they were together. Pharm had quickly grown used to trusting Dean in a way movies frequently describe as soulmates behavior. If he could, he'd go back in time and help the naked guy down the hall instead of blinding him with pepper spray.
The thought made a soft chuckle come out of Pharm's throat and he pulled back a little from Dean to face him.
"Are you okay, Nong?", the swimmer asked, still with an evident tone of concern in his voice.
"I am, thanks!", Pharm replied feeling much calmer and also very aware that he was wearing nothing but a towel and that the smoke had disappeared.
"Thanks again, Phi…", he said in a weak voice and fixing the towel to keep it from falling off his narrow waist, but the gesture certainly caught the swimmer's attention who couldn't help but steal a glance from the slender body in front of him. But recognizing this wasn't the time for this, Dean let out a sigh and answered the boy.
"I'm glad I was back at home and could hear you screaming! By the way, I have something to tell you about the stalker! But first of all, you know you can always count on me, Pharm!", Dean gave a smile that made Pharm feel butterflies in his stomach.
Their moment of tranquility was interrupted by a voice at the apartment door. As Dean had forced the hinges when he broke into the apartment after hearing the explosion, the door just lay ajar, the lock no longer of any use.
"Is this the place that needs maintenance because of the oven that exploded?", the man wearing the maintenance crew uniform asked.
"Oh yes! Please! Come in!", Pharm said moving away from Dean and making way for the maintenance guy, showing him where the oven was. Then he went back to where Dean was waiting for him.
"Phi, I'm going to finish showering while the guy sees the oven and then we'll talk, ok?", Pharm said goodbye to Dean who left the apartment soon after.
Dean went out into the hallway and walked towards his own apartment feeling something strange that he couldn't quite define what it was. As he reached for the door handle, a thought crossed his mind: if they were alone in their respective apartments, how did the maintenance guy know which unit was in need of his services? Furthermore, even if a neighbor had called the concierge talking about the noise they had heard, it was impossible to know that the oven, of all possibilities, was to blame for the explosion.
The swimmer then turned quickly and ran towards Pharm's apartment. The door that moments before had not presented the slightest impediment to being opened after been broken down, now stood firmly as if something prevented it from opening from the inside. Trying to open the door and shouting the name of the boy who resided inside, Dean felt fear and panic taking over his chest: "Pharm! Open the door Pharm! Pharm!".
Pharm was walking toward the bathroom to continue his shower, and he thought about how convenient it was that the maintenance guy had shown up without him having the trouble of calling asking for one first. The thought settled in the back of his mind and left a bad taste on his mouth. A shiver ran down his spine and he turned quickly towards the kitchen as he realized that there was something very suspicious about all this. He tripped on the way and lost his balance just as he felt something hard hitting the back of his neck and the world went dark around him.
"I knew you were the easy type, boy! Why else would you walk around in a towel even when your neighbor is here?", the man said, bending down to pick up the body and carry it to the living room. "But soon we'll get this sorted out, right?", he smiled as he walked unhurriedly. After he'd put the couch behind the door he was sure they wouldn't be interrupted so easily. There was plenty of time for him to have fun with his prey.
When Pharm woke up, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck that seemed to make his head throb just from trying to put together a coherent thought. With some effort, he opened his eyes and saw his worst nightmare with a smug smile in front of him.
"It didn't take you long to wake up! Excellent! Shall we start?", the man asked approaching him.
"Alex? What are you doing here?", Pharm asked weakly, but feeling his heart beating fast in despair.
"I came here to have a special fanmeeting with my favorite youtuber!", Alex said approaching Pharm and taking the smaller hand in his. The boy was tied to one of the chairs that the intruder had found in the kitchen and that forced him to bend over to reach the small hand, but he didn't care. "And this… is our private hi-touch…", Alex smiled in a vague and imprecise way, enjoying the way Pharm's fingers stretched out trying to make as little contact with him as possible, appreciating how his veins should give his hands a rough appearance, but they were, in fact, very soft and delicate.
"Alex? What are you doing?", Pharm tried to free himself from the ropes and get rid of the unwanted contact. "You know that at any moment my friends will realize something is wrong and will call the police!"
Alex changed his expression at the threat and let go of Pharm's hand. "It doesn't matter, darling! Now I have something I've wanted for a long time! Now I have your attention all to myself!", Alex said, approaching Pharm's neck and placing wet kisses there. The sensation was terrible and nauseating, Pharm felt like he might be throwing up within moments.
"Don't you dare touch me!", he yelled in disgust.
"Let's see how long you can give me the silent treatment now, Pharm!" Alex said, licking the distance between the prisoner's shoulders and making him shiver in disgust.
Pharm felt like he might lose consciousness soon as he felt the panic taking over him, but when he looked over Alex's shoulder, who was busy smearing hickeys across his chest area, the cook got a very welcome sight.
Dean was outside the apartment, on the fire escape ladder that was supposed to be used as an emergency exit. The swimmer put his index finger to his lips, signaling to Pharm that he should keep silent.
Pharm then nodded and decided to help distract Alex while Dean entered the property.
"Alex!", he called and the action made the man stop kissing his soft neck to pay attention. It was possible to notice that his pulse was racing and his pupils were dilated. "Tell me what you want to do to me!", Pharm asked, the words difficult to say but necessary.
Thinking that the boy was finally giving in, Alex let his guard down: "I want to have you all to myself…", he said as he traced Pharm's torso with his index finger towards his waist. When he was about to undo the towel that was still wrapped around the boy's waist, Alex felt something very heavy hitting his head.
"You bastard!", Dean yelled, the baseball bat he was holding in his hand felt hot after hitting the maniac in front of him in the head.
However, to his surprise, Alex didn't fall or pass out, he just staggered a little and when he regained his balance, he went for Dean. Alex's aim seemed impaired and his punches were careless and imprecise, but whenever he got to hit Dean, it left a mark. The swimmer had a good physical build, but it was uncertain how much he would resist.
"Phi Dean!", Pharm yelled, startled by the fight unfolding in front of him. Dean's eyebrow was bleeding profusely and his lower lip had swollen up rapidly within moments of being hit.
Dodging Alex's blows, Dean felt encouraged by Pharm and regained some of his strength. Going after the stalker, Dean tried to hit his vital points, but his overconfidence caused him to lose by a few seconds one of the quick hands of the guy that hit him square in the jaw.
"Did you think you could beat me, kid?", Alex spat at the body lying on the floor. "Now let's get back to business, my darling!", he turned to face Pharm who had a determined expression on his face.
"Don't even think about touching me you idiot!", Pharm said using his unbound legs to kick Alex wherever he could reach.
Distracted by Pharm's attack, Alex didn't realize that Dean had woken up. This gave the swimmer a chance to look around and find something he could use against the other man. His hand brushed against something firm and cold made of metal: the same tool Alex had used moments before to hit Pharm's nape.
Dean got up on impulse and swung the tool towards Alex's skull which fell to the ground without another word.
"Pharm?", he called.
"P'Dean?", the boy cried from the chair he was in, his arms feeling very heavy but wanting to hug the figure in front of him.
Moments later, the door was forced open by a team of police officers accompanied by Win and Team. They had arrived with Samantha who had arrested the guy who would have to go to the hospital first to check his injuries, but he would surely spend a long time after that behind bars because of all the crimes committed such as online harassment, stalking and situation of kidnapping with the use of violence with no chance of the victim to defend himself.
Team helped Pharm free himself from the ropes and get out of his chair. "Put this on…", he said handing his friend his sweatshirt to cover his still bare shoulders.
"How did you know?", Pharm asked quietly. After the adrenaline left his body, he felt sleepy and weak.
"Dean called me before committing the madness of entering here alone! We were still close to the Police Station and we explained to Samantha what was happening!", it was Win who replied.
Hearing his name, the policewoman approached the group of friends with a stern expression on her face. "Don't ever do that again, boys!", Samantha scolded. "But I have to admit that if it wasn't for that, maybe the result would have been different.", she gave Pharm's shoulder a light squeeze, indicating that his fate could have been much worse. And he knew it well.
The Police took care of registering the case, which was watched by Win and Team. Dean decided to take Pharm to his apartment to take the shower he still hadn't been able to take and to relax after all that. They would need to go to the Police Station to make an official statement, but all that could wait.
"My clothes are too big for you, but I think these will do fine…", Dean said handing a pile of fabric into Pharm's arms who walked into the bathroom.
Pharm considered asking Dean to shower with him, but he blushed at the idea, his reflection in the mirror judging him for his boldness, so he decided to shower alone.
Coming out of the bathroom, the boy found Dean near the bed.
"I fixed everything for you. You can sleep here and I'll go to the living room…", Dean said turning to leave the room.
"Phi…", Pharm grabbed the swimmer's shirt sleeve.
"Can you… sleep here? With me?", he asked with his very persuasive big brown eyes.
"Sleep with you?", Dean couldn't help but tease. It felt familiar for both of them.
Pharm smiled and then replied, "Just… Stay close to me? Please?", he bit his lower lip.
The boys turned off the lights and lay down on the bed. Pharm found his way into Dean's embrace without much thought. His presence seemed to mean comfort and peace at this point.
"Thank you, Phi…"
Dean laughed and the warm air that accompanied the laughter hit Pharm's forehead and he tilted his head to look at what he thought should be the other's face in the middle of the darkness. "What happened?"
"You need to decide what you're going to call me, Nong! Sometimes you use the honorific and sometimes you treat me like a friend of the same age!", Dean laughed, but his hands were shaking a little.
A second passed and then another. When Dean was already thinking about saying something to break the awkwardness of the situation, Pharm decided to speak.
"Then… can I call you… my…", Pharm seemed to hesitate, making Dean create even more anticipation. The swimmer tightened the hug a little more, encouraging the boy to complete the sentence.
"Can I treat you like my friend, Phi?", Pharm asked.
The word still resonated inside Dean's head even after 15 days after everything that had happened. He had taken Pharm to talk to his grandmother's lawyer and they were able to get the Police to investigate further into the conduct of Alex and other stalkers who left abusive messages for the cook. According to Samantha, there was no escape for these types, even if the crimes were committed online because they had concrete evidence of the facts. Because of her good performance, the policewoman was promoted to Police Chief and the former guy who held the position was retired early due to his disservice. According to rumors inside the Station, many crimes went unsolved because he was an old-fashioned man who didn't care what other people thought about his bad deeds.
However, even with everything resolved, Dean understood that at that moment Pharm needed a shoulder to lean on more than anything else and had decided to give him time and space. They still talked to each other every day and often spent a lot of time together.
"Are you going to Pharm's again?", Win asked eating potato chips on the couch.
"Yes, I'll help with the new vlog he's recording! It's been a while since he updated the channel and fans are asking for new content!", Dean explained checking the last details on his clothes and hair as if he was getting ready for a date and not to help hold the camera on a video where he wouldn't even appear.
"What do you do anyway? Hold the camera and taste his food?", Win asked teasingly, since he knew very well what the swimmer's job was.
"And that makes you happy?", the blonde asked narrowing his eyes in the direction of his friend.
"What are you talking about, Win?", Dean interrupted what he was doing to look closely at his friend.
"You know what, Dean! You feel for that boy much more than just friendship!", Win rolled his eyes feeling annoyed at having to point out the obvious.
"It's not the time for that, Win! He went through a lot lately and he's still recovering.", Dean explained lowering his head and staring at the floor.
"Have it your way, but I think you should tell him how you feel. That boy likes you more than you realize, man…", Win sighed.
Dean left the house to find Pharm in the apartment across the hall, but Win's words kept running in circles inside his mind.
Pharm was looking for a new recipe and didn't hear the bell.
"Pharm, can you answer the door, please? I'm a little busy here!", Team asked yelling from his bedroom.
When Pharm opened the door, his comfort person was before him with the warmest smile in the world and eyes that seemed to contain stars.
"You don't have to ring the bell every time you come here, you know?", Pharm teased as the two walked to the kitchen.
"But how could I do that when I love seeing your face when you open the door for me?", Dean asked back and the cook turned to face the swimmer with a confused expression.
Dean was referring to the fact that every time he opened the door for him, Pharm's expression changed so naturally and instantly that he had become addicted to watching. It was very pleasant to see the sad face light up with a smile or to see the already happy face becoming even brighter just by seeing him there at the door. But he wasn't going to share this information. Yet.
Knowing he wouldn't be able to get an answer out of Dean, Pharm shrugged and started looking for the ingredients they would use that afternoon while explaining the recipe to the other man who was listening intently.
"Oh no!", Pharm suddenly stopped staring at an empty pot.
"What happened?", Dean asked worriedly, leaving the camera on the table.
"I'm out of cinnamon!", Pharm showed the empty container with a crying expression.
"It's okay, Nong! We can go shopping!", Dean invited and soon they were on their way to the market.
They'd done it dozens of times since Dean had started Pharm recording the vlogs, it was almost like therapy for them. Walking through the aisles and taking a lot more than they had gone out to get was an inside joke of theirs. Still, Pharm didn't feel confident uploading the videos they were recording.
"You don't need to hurry, Nong…", Dean said taking a sip of his bubble tea.
"Hm?", Pharm turned to the other with a confused expression.
"When you're ready to upload the video, do it. You don't have to force yourself into anything before you're comfortable…", Dean explained.
"I know, Dean… it's just… I'm afraid of the comments people might leave…", Pharm explained, lowering his head and blushing in embarrassment.
Dean approached the shorter one and lifted his chin until Pharm looked him in the eye. "I will be at your side, don't be afraid, okay?"
This time, Pharm blushed even more and felt something inside his stomach. He just nodded in agreement and left with a quick "I'm going to throw this away!", taking the empty cups of tea they'd been drinking just moments before.
As they were approaching the line to pay for groceries, they had the happy surprise of meeting Dean's grandmother.
"My sweet boys! Are you buying something nice to catch Netflix & chill?", she teased the couple with a smug smile.
"Grandma, he's not my boyfriend!", Dean replied blushing a lot, looking quickly at Pharm to make sure the other didn't feel pressured by the old lady's comment.
"I didn't say he is, dear! You're the one who read between the lines!", she replied to her grandson and walked away with a wink. "See you guys later!"
When the lady was out of their sight, the cook turned to the swimmer with a serious, almost hurt expression and asked, "Do you feel uncomfortable being seen with me?"
Dean was taken aback by the question and even more so by the tone used. "It's not that, Nong… it's just that… we aren't boyfriends… right?", he asked uncertainly about what was going on there. He didn't want to set the bar too high only to realize he was running too fast towards the ultimate prize.
"For that to happen someone should ask first, right? People usually go out to eat or dance or do things like that in these cases.", Pharm crossed his arms in front of his chest and rolled his eyes as if he was commenting on the obvious.
Pharm was so direct that it took Dean a few moments to react, but when he did, the words slipped easily from his lips. "Then get ready, my good boy! Because now that you're ready for this, I'm not going to waste any more time, okay?". Dean was almost whispering the words and the tone he used made Pharm feel very hot on the inside and red on the outside.
"I thought you'd never say that!", Pharm used his last bit of courage to taunt the swimmer and run towards the cashier, leaving a very motivated Dean behind.
The next day, when Pharm opened the apartment door, he was attacked by millions of tiny bluish flowers with an impossibly sweet fragrance. It just wasn't sweeter than the smile of the man who held the bouquet and was still waiting at the door so he could enter.
"What is this?", Pharm asked, startled.
"They're forget-me-nots!", Dean replied and seeing that the cook's face held curiosity, he explained taking a step forward with each new information he shared. "According to the florist… each flower has a meaning. Forget-me-nots mean… sincere love… and fidelity…", Dean said already looking at Pharm very closely, only the flowers separating the two bodies.
"Dean… w-what does that m-mean?", Pharm asked, blushing a lot and not knowing how to react to the straightforward confession.
"I've been told that when you want to court the person you love, you have to invite them to dinner first.", Dean said looking at Pharm with a smug smile on his face and making the boy blush an even brighter shade of red. "My friend opened his new restaurant and invited me to go there. Do you have plans for tonight?", Dean asked patiently waiting for the answer.
Unsure if he could formulate a coherent answer or without stuttering, Pharm restrained himself, just nodded his head and whispered a brief "YES!" but sounding very enthusiastic.
Dean couldn't have been happier seeing that incredible man he had such an intense love for, accepting his proposal.
The couple arrived at the restaurant and were greeted by Sorn, Dean's friend and the place's owner. As they ordered something from the menu, Pharm and Sorn started talking about food and cooking. Dean was a little out of the loop, but not at all offended. Sorn was his longtime friend and Pharm was Pharm and he could hear him talk about anything for a long time.
"So what do you think?", Dean asked as they left the restaurant after eating delicious food.
"It was amazing! I hope we can come here again!", Pharm offered sincerely leaving Dean speechless.
"We've barely finished our first date and you're already inviting me to the second?", Dean asked, enjoying the other's reaction, which was an impossibly bright smile. It was as if the sun was shining in the middle of the night.
"Wait, did you say we're not done for the night yet?", Pharm asked suddenly.
"I've also been told that dancing is a good option on dates. Shall we?", Dean offered a hand that Pharm didn't hesitate to take.
They arrived at a nightclub that was full of other people who had also come to drink and dance.
"I don't do this often! You'll have to teach me your ways, Pharm!", Dean was almost yelling to be heard over the music.
"Don't worry! Where else could I go?", Pharm replied.
Then he led Dean through the crowd to the bar. There he ordered 2 shots which were served quickly.
"Let's do it!", Pharm proposed raising his glass.
"What?!", Dean asked.
"I said: LET'S DO IT!", Pharm pointed to himself drinking, hoping it was enough for the other to understand what he was saying. Taking the cue, Dean drank the liquid and felt instant regret. He wasn't used to alcohol.
But while he was still feeling the aftershocks, Pharm grabbed his arm and they were once again in the crowd.
"I LOVE THIS SONG!", Pharm started dancing around Dean who was speechless again.
The smaller boy danced to the song while singing his own version of it.
"Just keep your eyes on me," Pharm sang, pointing back and forth between them. "I think you're holding back!", he laughed at his provocation.
"SHUT UP AND DANCE WITH ME", he said jumping in place following the rhythm of the music.
The entire time Pharm was holding Dean's hand and the way he danced was contagious, making the taller try to copy his moves. It wasn't perfect choreography or in sync at all, but they both had a great time.
On the way home, Pharm still looked a little high, but they hadn't drunk enough to the point they didn't know what they were doing. They were both very aware that since they'd held hands leaving the restaurant earlier that night, they hadn't let go more than to go to the bathroom.
"You're something to behold, little one!", Dean whispered into the other's ear as they pulled up in front of their condo.
"You don't have any idea, Dean!", Pharm joked just like he had done the whole night.
"Oh really? What else do you have to show me?", Dean asked back.
Pharm stood on his tiptoes and gave Dean a peck on the cheek. It was so sudden and sweet that Dean could tell a butterfly had touched his face instead of an actual pair of lips. However, Pharm was still only inches away from him, still with the eyes closed and a dreamy expression. It was so cute that the taller male felt he might melt at the mere sight of it, making a wide smile appear on his face.
As the song they heard at the nightclub started playing inside his head, he couldn't resist singing along. "I think this man is my destiny u-uh-hu," he hummed as he danced, which was quite a scene to watch consisting of the massive body swaying his shoulders and hips to the beat.
Pharm chuckled at the scene before him, but felt his heart warm because of the confession and the easy way he saw Dean letting go when they were together. This was the reason why he decided to give in to what he had in mind. "Can I...", the smaller one started, but was interrupted by a loud laugh that came from somewhere behind them.
"Holy shit! Dean Rattanon Wongnate dancing in the street is something to be recorded and shared!", Dean heard the familiar voice of his highschool friend, Win.
"Don't you dare do that!", he stopped his little dance and walked towards the blond guy trying to stop him from recording his act with his phone.
"Don't even try! Pruk will laugh his ass off when he sees this! Sharing is caring, bro!", Win said running in circles trying to avoid his friend's threats and even using Pharm as a shield.
But the night was too good a gift to waste on silly pursuits, and soon the loving couple found themselves once again standing outside Pharm's apartment door to say goodbye.
"Phi?", Pharm whispered in a way that would have been impossible to hear if the hallway wasn't empty or they were so close together.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course…", Dean replied and soon felt his collar being pulled so that he could lean towards the plump lips in front of him.
Pharm rose on tiptoe, threading his fingers through Dean's hair and kissing him on the lips, starting slowly and sensually, but deepening into something more hungry and urgent.
The act took the breath away from the two who parted lips sooner than they wanted to but didn't move too far, hands firm on each other's waists and shoulders.
"Was that the question?", Dean asked between heavy breaths, Pharm flashing a proud smile in response.
"That too, but the main thing is, do you have something better to do tonight?"
At that point, Dean shouldn't be surprised to see Pharm as bold or brave, yet, it always took an effect over him to watch every time the smaller male was so straightforward like that. Still, that made a warm feeling take over his chest and a smile appear on his face. He was ready to give in to the proposal when a thought made his brow furrowed.
"Wait, isn't your friend in there?", Dean raised his eyebrows doubtfully.
"I think so, but this only means you shouldn't be so loud!", Pharm replied with a huge smile as he guided Dean into the apartment, desire and adoration written on their faces.
This is the song, in case anyone wants to listen: https://youtu.be/6JCLY0Rlx6Q
Team opened his eyes, but his aching body refused to get out of bed until an alarming thought took over him, making his brain try to make an effort to realize the day and time even if the last night's events had shaken off his brain cells. "Oh My God! What time is it?!", he asked no one in particular, scaring the other person laying on bed next to him.
"Calm down, it's not even 8 o'clock yet," complained the man, opening his eyes and yawning lazily after checking his phone.
"I need to watch Pharm's live or he'll kill me, Hia~!", said Team, getting up from bed to get his boyfriend's laptop that was on the desk. It was Pharm's vlog comeback after almost 1 month without new updates.
Team recalled well how excited Pharm seemed to be back and getting Dean's help in this. They would film the dish being prepared live and Pharm asked for his best friend to watch it just to make sure at least one of his friends would give him a little emotional support at that moment.
What Team didn't tell Pharm was that he was worrying too much. During the time that the cook was absent from social media, several fans sent messages and emails talking about how much they missed him. But, of course, the good friend committed and fulfilled his promise. At that moment when he entered the live, another 3 thousand people were also watching the Chocolate Cake recipe.
Win realizing that his boyfriend wouldn't really go back to bed, decided to side hug him while they watched the small screen. "Ok, explain it to me again. Pharm attacked Dean with pepper spray..."
"Yeah, so Dean tried to get Pharm's attention by passing as a hater and Pharm decided to feed him the best food ever.", Team continued. They had this conversation many times before and it always amused them how their respective best friends started to date in the most unusual way.
"After that problem with Alex and the other stalkers, they became friends and are now a couple with a cooking channel?", Win laughed at his own conclusion.
"Shh, shut up, Hia! I can't hear what they're saying!", Team scolded the blonde.
"Now, we're going to need some milk to dissolve the dough... P'Dean, can you please pass me the milk?", the Pharm from the screen asked his assistant behind the camera.
"Of course, my good boy! Here it is!", the image of Dean handing Pharm the milk filled the screen.
"Phi Dean! We're live! Don't call me that in front of everyone!", Pharm scolded him, but blushing a lot and trying to hide the smile that was inevitable for him everytime he heard the affectionate treatment coming from his boyfriend's lips.
"Oh, so what should I call you? Sir? Master? Uh, I like that one. Will you be my master, Pharm?", Dean made the other blushing even harder. And Pharm blushing was always capable of making Dean throw everything to the air and shower the smaller male with kisses, which he did right then and there. In front of more than 4 thousand people and counting.
"Oh my God, is this a cooking show or how to flirt 101?", Win asked Team.
"They're insane! Let's go back to sleep!"
"Aren't you going to watch Pharm's live?", Win asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I've seen enough, besides the laptop is still on, so the number of views remains the same! Now let's sleep, Hia~!", complained Team and his boyfriend couldn't resist anymore, cuddling him and falling asleep soon after.
Team had run away from his own apartment after hearing noises coming from Pharm's bedroom and it wasn't really hard for him to deduce the reason behind those screams, especially when Pharm was so vocal in his words, always calling "Faster, Phi! " or "Harder, Dean!". They started dating around a month ago and still behaved like horny bunnies!
Luckily, his boyfriend lived across the hallway and felt a huge pleasure to invite him to their own slumber party! Oh well, sometimes love and hate walk side by side, afterall!
Chapter 14: 00
This is a special chapter showing how DeanPharm from this universe met each other for the first time. I hope you like it!
Dean was feeling exhausted after carrying things the whole day while they moved into the new apartment he would share with Win. They've already graduated for a few years now, but it turns out that a professional swimmer career is a little more complicated, especially when you're trying to get a spot in the Olympic team. Luckily, as it was his grandma's condo, at least the rent was granted for now. The swimming lessons they taught at a primary school could cover the rest of the expenses, or so he hoped.
"Ai Dean! I want to shower! Can you get out anytime soon?"
Dean suppressed an irritated growl and got out of the shower.
"Ai Win! Stop being so annoying!", Dean complained while leaving the bathroom wrapping the towel around his waist, while the blonde just rolled his eyes and smiled widely. "Hey, I heard the bell ringing! Can you answer the dor while I shower? Pretty please?",
Dean sighed heavily and started mumbling towards the door. However, when he got there, he found no one in the hallway. Feeling the water dripping down his body, Dean was getting ready to return back to the apartment when he felt a pair of wide hands pushing his back.
"This serves for you to learn not to take such long showers!", Win grabbed his towel leaving his friend completely naked in the hallway.
When Dean realized what was going on, he went insane, looking around scared to be seen by someone and struggling at the door begging Win to open it. "You crazy motherfucker, if someone sees me like that you can be sure you're a dead man!", he threatened his best friend.
"I'm going to take my shower now and when I'm over, I'll let you in, ok! Bye!", Win yelled from the inside of the unit making Dean want to pull out his own hair and then his friend's to use it as a wig. Because he would definitely…
"Uh, who are you? Magic Mike?", a soft voice asked.
Dean turned to face the person and was surprised to see that he was a short, slender boy. His hair was a little messy and his face was red, he was certainly drunk by the pace at which he was leaning against the wall.
"I-I… I'm-sorry! My friend locked me out here I-I…", Dean tried to explain, using his hands to cover his genitals and feeling suddenly very shy. It shouldn't be a problem because they were both males and there was nothing surprising there, but he felt ashamed in front of the other guy.
"Huh? Are you Magic Mike?", the guy asked again using the same groggy tone and approachin Dean like he had grown a few inches. In fact, he was on tiptoe and bracing his hands on either side of Dean's head as if that would help steady him. However, the boy soon lost his balance and fell, resting his face on the large chest in front of him.
The surprise of the impact had Dean uncovering himself and using his hands to help the drunk boy back on his heels. Seeing the naked man in front of him, the boy screamed so loud that soon more people would show up to see what was going on, which Dean really wanted to avoid.
"Let go of me! You pervert! You're naked!", the boy yelled and slapped Dean's arms hard, only now realizing the swimmer's naked condition, making the taller stuttering even more trying to explain.
"N-no-no-no that's not it! It's a misunderstanding!", Dean said, but still holding the other guy to avoid getting hit. For someone so small he had a pretty heavy hand!
"Let me go, you pervert!", the drunk man tried to ask again and seeing the other didn't obey him, he reached for something in his pants pocket. The tiny bottle released something wet and right after, the muscular body fell to the floor screaming in despair, feeling his eyes burning and hearing the noise of the boy moving away and in one of the other apartments in the distance. Dean tried to control the pain and cursed Win for starting all this.
In fact, when the blonde opened the door, he almost had a heart attack when he saw his friend curled up and moaning softly without being able to open his eyes. However, after making sure Dean recovered from the attack with the pepper spray, Win did nothing less than cackling until his belly ached.
The next day, when Dean returned from the shopping he had gone out to do, he thought he would have the chance to explain the misunderstanding because none other than the guy that he found drunk in the hallway the night before was in the lobby waiting for the elevator.
Not quite sure how to explain it, Dean took some time to decide what to say as the numbers passed by as the elevator moved.
"Hey, I want to explain the misunderstanding to you. Yesterday my friend pranked me and threw me outside the apartment and you ended up getting it wrong…", Dean started, but stopped, an embarrassed laugh filling the small space between the two boys. All because the shorter guy seemed to completely ignore him, pretending to read a book that looked like it was a recipe book, from what Dean had noticed from the food pictures.
He also noticed that the boy had a very nice sweet smell and that with his hair now styled without the effect of alcohol, he looked like something artists would paint in a chapel as the face of an angel. Not that it mattered at the moment! Dean shook his head trying to concentrate.
"Hey, can we talk?", he tried to interrupt the other's reading once more without receiving any response.
This was already too much! Dean hadn't done anything wrong, but he was willing to explain himself. However, that guy remained totally ignoring him.
"Hey, I'm talking to--", Dean was interrupted as the elevator opened the doors to the floor they lived on.
In the hallway, a slightly taller boy was waiting for them and grabbed the other's arm as he exited the elevator.
"Pharm, why did you take so long! I'm going to starve, you know?", the boy said without releasing the smaller male and walked with him towards the apartment where they lived.
Dean stayed behind and now had a clear mission: to make sure that Pharm noticed his existence! For a few moments Dean was distracted by the fact that the boy's name matched his angelic appearance, but even that wouldn't make him give up on his agenda!
What neither Dean nor Pharm knew is that the fact that the cook was listening to music on his airpods gave the impression that he was ignoring the swimmer, but the confusion had already been created and the rest is the story as we know it!