PhuTian enemies to lovers AU part 2: The Wound
holy crap somehow i knocked out 3k words, this is extremely angsty and definitely OOC and hellla self-indulgent so proceed with caution hahaha
warning for spoilers, and mentions of wounds and blood but nothing too graphic
Once my AO3 acc gets created, I''ll post there too but till then its on here as well sdogbsdigbosid
note: in this AU, Tian did not own the car, and it wasn't his friend that killed Torfun. She died of a random car accident. And also, Tian knows of his father's involvement. Here, they had to strike a bargain such that Tian would only be allowed to leave if his father had eyes watching out for him there. Phupha is ordered to keep a close eye on Tian, but he only knows that Tian's health isn't that great. He thinks that the main reason that he has to escort Tian around is because Tian is rich and privileged. At this point, he only knows very vaguely about Tian's health problems so he doesn't take them seriously. Also warning Phupha is definitely acting like an ass, but he will redeem himself in later chapters
The next morning, Tian got up and stretched, sighing because of the ache of his back from the hard mattress. The hard mattress and the tiny teacher's house didn't bother him as much as the memories from last night. It wasn't that Tian was in love with the obstinate, cold chief by any stretch, but when he first arrived, he was so impressed with the chief, his dedication, his skill, and most of all, how much he truly cared for Pa Phun Dao and its people. He wanted to make a good impression on the Chief, but even with Tian trying his best, it wasn't possible. And it hurt just a bit more because the Chief was handsome, one of most handsome men that Tian had ever seen in his entire life.
Well, it's a good thing I'm not here to fall in love, Tian mused as he picked up his brush and toothpaste. For a second, he took a deep breath and stared at Torfun's old name tag, which flooded him both with guilt and strength. I'm here for you, Torfun. I need to go on. I need to finish what you have started. Although, I really don't know what you see in Phupha.
Tian went outside and brushed his teeth, and then went back in and changed his clothes to a fresh pair. There was a knock at the door. Tian quickly answered it, opening the bamboo door wide.
To his absolute and utter shock, it was Phupha, glowering like a raincloud, standing up straight in his forest ranger uniform, looking a bit like a Greek--er, Thai God in the morning sunlight.
"Chief, why are you here?" Tian asked, surprised, just managing to conceal the frown off of his face.
"I have to walk you down to the school. It's special orders, that's why a rich kid like you gets a chief to walk him down the fifteen minute walk," Phupha responded curtly.
Tian winced. He knew that his father was using his influence to make sure that Tian, with his fragile health, was protected in this physically taxing environment. It was the most he could do just to convince his father not to have another, more medically advanced teacher's house built for Tian to stay in.
"Okay," Tian responded quietly. "Let's get started then, the sooner that we leave, the sooner you can be finished of this chore with my subpar company."
Tian was hoping for a flicker of pity, something, from the ranger's eyes, but all he got was a steady glare of stone, and then Phupha started walking.
"Hey, slow down!" Tian said. "I can't keep up!"
Phupha rolled his eyes, and slowed down a little, but not enough.
Tian tried to make small talk throughout the walk, but Phupha never responded well, more than a few short words. He clearly did not want to continue the conversation. It didn't stop Tian from doing his best through the conversation, but Phupha was a wall that did not move an inch.
Phupha left Tian with the much friendlier Yod and went on to continue his duties with a nod towards Yod and nothing towards Tian.
Yod winced. "He's really not a bad guy. He'll take some time to warm up, but he has a good heart. In the meantime, Rang and I are here to support you! And Dr. Nam, he is a good guy as well."
"Thank you so much sir," Tian said gratefully, his eyes full of warmth. Yod's heart softened for the young volunteer. He was a little privileged, sure, but it was clear that he was a good person. He made a note to speak to Phupha about going a little easier on this young man. It was already difficult for Pa Phun Dao to receive volunteer teachers, and no one should ever look a gift horse in the mouth.
Tian introduced himself to the kids in the school house, the boisterous boy Ayi, the curious Khaoneung, the quiet Inta, the inquisitive Meejoo and the sleepy looking Kalae.
"Your name is Tian? Like Seetian!" Meejoo exclaimed, grinning.
"Not quite--" Tian started, but was interrupted by Ayi saying "What are we going to do today Seetian?"
"Today...." Tian said, thinking for a while. "We are going to go on a field trip!"
"I don't know if it's a good idea," Yod said hesitantly.
Tian wanted to prove himself, he wanted to show the world (and himself) that he really could be a teacher who helped his students, even if he was just doing this for Torfun.
"Us teachers--we are showing our students how to understand the world, right? What is a better way than to immerse the students in it?"
"Alright, if you say so...I'll come with," Yod said. "Stick with me at all times!"
Tian flashed Yod an excited grin. "Thank you so much, sir! Come on, guys!"
The kids were bursting with excitement, just like Tian and Tul back in secondary school, the morning right before the field trip to the aquarium or science museum. Tian smiled. Some things are just universal.
The group set out together, and Tian pointed out the different colors of all of the items around them, teaching them how to say each one in English. Meejoo especially was drinking in the knowledge, her eyes bright.
They were walking across the bridge to go to the waterfall. Yod suddenly got a call on his walkie talkie that something urgent came up. Tian convinced Yod to let him take the kids, promising that they were safe in his care. Yod didn't look like he wanted to agree, but he nodded anyway and sprinted off.
Tian and the kids finally got to the waterfall, and they had fun splashing around and swimming. Tian taught them the names of all of all of the items in English, and taught them about the scientific properties of water. They were drying off and getting ready to walk back. Suddenly, Inta asked, "Where's Kalae?"
Tian looked around the shore but couldn't find him. Heart racing in alarm, he swept the water with his gaze and saw Kalae sitting on the ground in an outcrop of rocks in the water, clearly in pain and very scared.
"KALAE!" Tian shouted in alarm, and ran through the water, swimming through when it got deeper. He got to Kalae, thankfully, and clambered onto the rocks, lifting him up, and carrying him back through the water. When he got onto the rocks, he stumbled and skinned his knee, but he didn't care about that at all. All he cared about was getting Kalae to safety.
"AYI! GO GET HELP!" Tian yelled. "GET THE DOCTOR!" Ayi was the oldest, so he'd have the best chance of success. He nodded and sprinted off. Tian laid Kalae across the grass once they got back to the shore. Kalae had a bad injury on his shin, the skin split open with blood streaming down his leg. Not only was he wincing from pain, he also looked terrified at the amount of blood flowing from the wound.
Tian forced himself to stay calm. "Kalae, look at me. I want you to answer these math problems while we wait for help. What's 7 plus 5?"
Kalae struggled to even formulate the thought, but he eventually answered, "twelve..."
"Good job Kalae, good job, now--don't look down!-- tell me what's 13 plus 5?"
"Seetian, I don't feel good, it hurts, it hurts..." Kalae cried, his chubby cheeks wet with tears.
"I know, Kalae, and I am so sorry. For now, focus on me. Tell me what 13 plus 5 is."
"eight....teen..." Kalae said.
"Hey, Kalae, I'm here now, you'll be okay," a smooth, assured voice sounded from next to Tian. He turned and saw a man in a white coat with an honest looking face.
"I'm Dr. Nam," He said quickly as an aside to Tian. "You can step back now. I can take care of this."
Dr. Nam cleaned the wound, holding Kalae's hand through the sting of the antiseptic, and then securely wrapped a bandage around it. Kalae was then helped onto a stretcher, and Yod, who was manning the ambulance, drove him to the clinic with Dr. Nam right next to him.
Tian was, firstly, relieved that Kalae was going to be okay. But then, guilt and self-loathing hit him out of nowhere. All he could do was stand there, stare at the waterfall, his heart turning and turning inside him, making him feel nauseous with guilt. The wound on his knee from the rock hurt and stung, but he wasn't even focusing on that. Kalae got hurt way worse, and could have died because Tian didn't have an eye on him.
Phupha walked up to Tian, storms brewing in his eyes. Tian internally prepared himself for whatever hurtful thing Phupha was going to say. Even more, Tian didn't mind that Phupha was going to scold him, because he deserved it. His first day, and it was such a disaster. It honestly couldn't have gone worse.
"You should go back," Phupha said shortly. "Back to Bangkok. At least there, you will not hurt anyone else." After saying this, he didn't even look for Tian's reaction, just walked away.
Without even being conscious of it, Tian's eyes started to tear up. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he stood there, barely able to blink.
"Chief, that's too far," one of the other rangers called out, walking closer to Tian. "Hi, Tian, I'm Rang," he said in an even-toned, kindly voice. "I'm one of the other forest rangers stationed at Pa Phun Dao along with Chief, Yod and Dr. Nam who acts as the medic. It's true that you probably should have looked out better for the kids, but this was an accident that could happen to anyone. Please remember that. It could have happened to anyone. Even the chief."
"Thank you, sir," Tian responded mechanically, mustering up as genuine of a small smile he could for Rang.
Later that night, Tian was lying on his hard mattress again, still in the same drenched clothes earlier from that day, his knee throbbing. He couldn't stop thinking about his mistake, that resulted in Kalae getting hurt. He didn't even want to start to think about how everyone in the village would see him, with distrust, and the rangers just with a cold pity.
There was a knock on the door, suddenly jolting Tian from his thoughts. He slowly walked to the door, putting weight on his right food because his left leg was hurt, and opened it. Tian saw who was on the other side and groaned internally. He wasn't equipped to deal with anymore cruel words that day, even if he deserved them.
Phupha's eyes narrowed in distaste. Tian just stayed quiet.
"Meejoo told me that you got hurt. Why didn't you say anything?" Phupha said, surprising Tian. That was not what he was expecting.
Tian kept silent for a second as he tried to figure out what to respond. He wanted to say "because I didn't think you care," but he decided to be more mature and not cause more problems. "I didn't think it mattered, Chief," he responded, voice devoid of emotion.
"If the wound gets infected, my supervisor, who reports to your father, will kill me for messing with the son of an important government official." Phupha responded after a couple seconds of silence.
Tian winced internally. Somehow, without realizing it, he had hoped--a little, just for some kindness. He should have realized that it wouldn't come, not from him.
"Show me the wound," Phupha said. "I've brought antiseptic and bandages. I'll dress it."
Tian moved forward to try to roll his pant leg up, but suddenly the wound sang with pain and Tian tipped forward, right over the steps. He thought he would fall on the ground, but thankfully he was caught. Not so thankfully, it was by Phupha. For a short second, Tian's hazy brain forgot who it was that caught him. He felt so safe and secure in the strong embrace, his face cradled tight against Phupha's chest. But he realized that it was Phupha's chest, and he scrambled back instantly. Phupha's arms shot out to catch him, and Tian looked up into eyes that were flatly annoyed.
"Relax. If you fall over again, that will just cause more wounds and more problems."
Phupha guided Tian by the shoulders outside to the bench right under one of the orange lantern. His movements, although precise, clinical and clearly trying not to touch Tian more than he had to, were not rough.
The Chief reached over and rolled up Tian's left pant leg.
"How did you know the wound was there?" Tian asked, thunderstruck.
"That was the leg that buckled first," Phupha responded shortly, continuing to roll up the pant leg until he got to the wound. He took a quick breath in.
"Tian, this wound is pretty big. You need to be transparent about when you get hurt."
On a day when Tian was more well-rested and less emotionally wrecked, or a day where Phupha hadn't said cruel words beforehand, Tian would have been able to interpret that statement for what it was, a clinical concern. But to his exhausted brain, Phupha was somehow saying that not only was Tian selfish, he was also someone who was trying to cause problems by hiding things.
"Don't worry, Chief, if the wound gets infected I won't tell anyone, and definitely not my dad. That way, you won't have anything to worry about," Tian said back, his voice completely devoid of emotion.
Phupha looked up at Tian for a split second, and there was a flash--a milisecond flash-- of regret in his eyes.
"It's not just that, Tian. You're the teacher of this village. Your health is important," Phupha said, trying now, for some reason, Tian didn't know why, to sound more diplomatic.
"If it were up to you, I wouldn't be the teacher of the village starting tomorrow. But I'm not going to go back. I made a horrible mistake that resulted in one of the kids getting hurt badly. Tomorrow I will go and apologize to Kalae and his parents. But I am not going back. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, I can't, I can't go back, I can't--" What started out as a measured and rational sentence was slowly unravelling into panic.
"Tian," Phupha said sternly. But Tian wasn't even listening. He was thinking about Torfun. He didn't deserve this heart of hers. She did. Not him. But he has ended up with it. That's why he needs to stay, that's why he needs to dedicate his life to Torfun, so he can do a pale imitation of whatever greatness she would have accomplished. Torfun would not have let a child get hurt. Tears started to stream down his face again.
"Tian!" Phupha said, louder this time. Tian snapped his head back down to Phupha, startled by the loud noise.
"Tian, I shouldn't have told you to go back. I apologize," Phupha said tersely, looking into Tian's wide, shocked, tear-filled eyes, and then studiously continuing to dab antiseptic onto Tian's leg. "I shouldn't have said that, alright? I'm sorry. So stop panicking. No one is going to make you go back." Phupha looked right into Tian's eyes, holding his gaze.
Tian just nodded, wiping his face with his sleeve and sniffling.
Phupha wrapped the bandage slowly and carefully around Tian's knee.
"Can you stand?" Phupha asked quietly. Tian nodded, and slowly got up. Phupha stood stock-still for a moment, and then moved slowly to help Tian. But Tian didn't want to lean against him. Tian just wanted to go to sleep. Tian wanted to be born with a healthy heart. Tian wanted to be someone else: someone strong, someone capable, who didn't let kids get hurt. Someone with a shine so golden it could compare to Torfun's. Someone so bright that Phupha wouldn't hesitate to treat them tenderly.
So Tian moved away from Phupha, the movement sudden and jarring. Phupha saw that, and then his eyes, so strangely open in the lamplight, closed up again and became the pools of black stone that they usually were. Tian moved back towards the house, his movements jerky, and he brushed past Phupha, his arm touching--for a milisecond--Phupha's arm. And that was all that was needed. For suddenly, Tian was catapulted into a memory again. Here, Memory-Phupha was the one who was crying. He was crying silently, his eyes closed shut, and Tian could feel his memory self wrapping his arms around Memory Phupha, and stroking his head softly. "It's okay, it's okay, mountain of mine, you're here with me now, I forgive you, it's alright, you're the only one for me, don't you know that, the apple of my eye? " And then memory Phupha didn't say anything at all, but cradled memory Tian to his chest. Memory Tian melted into the warmth. Memory Phupha used his hands to move Memory Tian half a foot away, scrutinizing his face, and then he tenderly wiped the tears from Memory Tian's face, that Tian hadn't even realized were falling while he was giving Memory Phupha that reassuring smile. And then memory Phupha kissed above the high points of memory Tian's cheekbones, right where the tears were falling previously, quickly in succession, but so, so tenderly. Tian sighed in relief, and the memory suddenly faded.
Phupha had the strangest look on his face. There was still refusal and anger, which hurt Tian's heart, but something else that frankly, Tian was too exhausted to figure out.
"Thank you for dressing my wound, Chief. Goodnight," Tian said politely but emotionlessly, struggling to get up the steps, but ultimately succeeding. Without turning around, he opened his door, closed it behind him, fell on top of his mattress, and instantly went to sleep.
I did post a fic last friday, but this one is actually the (little) one I worked on during the week. And also a soothing pad (hopefully) after all the angst of last week ;)
Thank you to everyone who made this week possible and brought me right back into the feels with their amazing posts and gif-sets and words! <3
Special thanks to @imagineleonkennedy for being literally the Best™ and sharing ALL the atots feels with me offline <333
Your arms are my home to come back into
Tian awoke, when Phupha entered the room with a tired groan, as if he’d been run over by a truck.
Tian’s neck though, felt as if he’d been stuck in the same, horrible position for hours and maybe he had. With a quick look, he realised he’d really slept for some time, even if it felt as if he’d been awake only seconds ago.
But there was Phupha, looking at him with half-lidded, bleary eyes, wondering what he was seeing.
“Hey”, Tian murmured, putting the book he had been reading and sleeping on aside, slowly stretching his limbs, “How are you?”
Flopping on the bed next to Tian, Phupha only groaned again, as if he hadn’t any energy for words left.
Letting out an amused huff, Tian started ruffling and combining his boyfriend’s hair, who let out something akin to a purr.
“Sounds as if you had a successful shift. Is everything alright?”
There was a slight nod and Tian accepted it for an answer. He’d known Phupha would have a late-night, since Yod had fallen ill and Phupha had taken over his shift. Apparently, he’d had to cover a big area, what must have been the worst in the heat of the day and even night.
“You’ve done well”, Tian murmured and could feel the satisfied smile rather than see it.
Praising Phupha had become his favourite pastime since he had discovered how happy he could make the man. And he really loved making him happy.
“You should take a shower”, he continued and this time, the scowl was very visible.
“No, you really should”, he stopped ruffling Phupha’s hair and stood up, his joints cracking thanks to his horrible seating position, “You smell like sweat and fire and your clothes are dirty.”
With a deep, dramatic sigh, Phupha let himself be dragged upwards and towards the washing basin, his fingers curled around Tian’s like the words he was too tired to speak.
Silently, Tian helped his boyfriend undress, enjoying to leave tingling touches, with barely any pressure in between, making the hair at Phupha’s neck stand and the man himself sigh each time.
“Did you wait for me?”, Phupha murmured after he’d finally donned his uniform, his eyes still half-lidded, but his movements a bit more awake.
Tian helped him clean up while Phupha brushed his teeth on autopilot, his gaze on his partner.
Swiping the sweat gently off Phupha’s temple, Tian smiled: “I tried, but I fell asleep.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“But I wanted to.”
It was like a magic spell.
Whenever Tian would clearly say what he wanted, Phupha would shut up. At least if his own wishes didn’t go completely against it. But, after three years of studying abroad and coming back with determination, Tian’s wishes had become some kind of religion to Phupha. Something he believed in and trusted.
Trusted in more than his own insecurities.
And it was also a sign that Tian would be too stubborn to back down, so why fight it? Especially when it was about caring for Phupha?
So, instead of arguing further, Phupha smiled around his toothbrush in such a satisfied-cat-way, that Tian couldn’t but shove him a bit. Not that it changed anything about it, Phupha’s smile growing even more, until he had troubles brushing and grinning at the same time.
“Stay still”, Tian ordered him, as if he could control his own affectionate smile in any way.
When they finally went back, Phupha held on to Tian’s hand again, interlacing their fingers, even if it was only for a few steps as he followed his boyfriend like a puppy.
It was only to the bed, but it could have been anywhere.
Together, they fell on the mattress in a heap of legs and arms, cuddling despite the heat.
“I love you”, Phupha murmured, already half asleep, even though he tried to stay awake forcefully, opening his eyes wide every few seconds, as if this would help, “You know that, do you?”
“Yes”, Tian brushed some of Phupha’s hair back, wondering if they should try cutting it again after the disaster of the last time, “I love you, too.”
A giddy, overtired Phupha giggled softly, before shuffling even closer, no matter how impossible it had seemed before.
And Tian’s heart overflowed with emotions, tender and soft and aching and even some yearning, although he was right here, right there, in his boyfriend’s arms.
Usually, it was Phupha who would stay up later, used to short nights, and watch Tian fall asleep.
He needed it to be calm, he’d admitted once or twice. Needed to see Tian safe and sound and contentedly falling asleep.
But today, it was different. Tonight it was Tian who watched Phupha struggle to stay awake but losing with every passing second.
Tonight it was Tian, who felt weirdly awake, despite his own tiredness, enjoying the sight of Phupha comfortable and relaxed and so very safe in his arms.
Tonight it was Tian, who enjoyed those timeless moments, lost in the mood, the presence of them, together.
He smiled, kissing the knuckles of Phupha’s fingers, who still held his tightly.
It didn’t take long for Phupha to fall asleep, Tian’s thumb brushing over his cheek, drawing circles at the nape of his neck with tender touches.
There was something comforting knowing each spot so well, every bit of skin familiar to the bottom of his heart, the very tips of his toes. And it was still an adventure, even now, after all the time, to explore Phupha’s body.
Tonight, it was a rather small, soft adventure, but it was one none the less and Tian wondered how his heart could still be so full with love, every time they were close.
No, he thought, pressing a very very gentle kiss to Phupha’s nose, who wrinkled it but was too fast asleep to wake up. It was a wonder, yes, but he understood why. Each day he saw why he loved Phupha, continued to love him even more than the day before.
Each day, his capacity for love grew, and it never stopped.
“Teacher Tian”, he heard a murmur and held back a laugh at the old address, reminding him of all they had been, all the ways they had gone.
“Yes, Chief?”, he asked back out of fun, but it only made Phupha cuddle even closer.
Now, Tian couldn’t even move anymore, his hand stuck between Phupha’s ear and shoulder at a ridiculous angle.
Damn, he thought, knowing he’d have to move at some point to keep the blood running.
But not now, he decided with a sigh and a look at Phupha’s peaceful face, his lips slightly twitching.
With all probability, he was dreaming about teasing and fighting a very stubborn teacher who’d never back down from a challenge. Who still didn’t.
“Good night, my love”, Tian breathed, his eyes on Phupha until he fell asleep as well, dreaming about a very grumpy ranger with the softest touch and a very shy smile.
(Rbs appreciated, as well as kudos and comments on Ao3 ;) )
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