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Taking The Plunge

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''Seriously, Pick. Don't fuck this up. I don't care what you have to do. Beg. Grovel for his forgiveness. I did my part, so make sure you clean up the mess you made.''

Pick couldn't be more grateful to Porshe for creating an opportunity for him to make amends. He was done with being an asshole. Seeing Rome and Nai becoming closer was a painful lesson on its own and while it had taken some time for him to come to terms with himself about his feelings for Rome, he was finally ready to admit that there was no way in hell he was going to lose the younger male.

''What are you going to do about Rin?''

''Come clean with her, I guess.''

The doors to the lecture hall swung open and students started streaming out, Pick keeping an eye out for Rome. The male finally emerged with Emma, his eyes widening a little when he caught sight of the senior, surprise and confusion etched on his face. They hadn't spoken since the last club meeting and he definitely wasn't expecting for Pick to be present.

''Emma.'' Porshe raised his hand and gestured them over. ''Let's eat lunch outside today. There's a new place that I want to try out. You don't have any afternoon lessons today, right?''

''Well...'' Emma looks over at Rome, silently asking him if she should go ahead.

''It's okay, Emma. I'll get something to eat on the way back. I need to head to the lab after this anyway.''

Porshe mouths, ''Good luck!'', to Pick and slings an arm around his girlfriend to steer her away towards the other direction. But not before Emma directs a piercing glare towards Pick as if daring him to stir up shit again. That's one scary girl. I'm glad I'm not the one dating her. 

(Now he knows why Porshe's so well-behaved most of the time around Emma)

Rome fiddles with the strap of his bag and Pick finds that his mouth is dry all of a sudden. He's nervous as fuck, repeatedly reminding himself not to say some stupid shit that'll ruin this for him.

''Are you busy now? We need to brainstorm some ideas for the Khao Yai trip.''

If Rome is surprised that Pick's actually taking the initiative to do work for once, he's certainly not showing it.

''Sure, P'.''

As they make their way towards one of the study benches near the back of the campus, Pick realises how much of a gap there is now between them. Rome's always been the affectionate one, always walking too close for comfort, but now that there's distance between them, Pick feels it like a punch to the gut. Rome doesn't try to initiate a conversation, both of them walking in silence until they reach the bench. They seat opposite of each other and Pick flips the flap of his bag open.

''Here.''

It's Rome's favourite brand of iced lemon tea.

Funny how Pick's starting to drink it more often lately.

''Thanks, P'.'' Rome looks uncertain and slightly confused, but he accepts the drink anyway, unscrewing the cap and taking a small sip (he tries to hide it, but Pick notices how the corners of his lips curves up just the slightest bit). ''About the night event for the team bonding...do you have anything in mind?''

''How about we make them do a solo walk through the woods and scare them shitless?''

That earns him a laugh and the awkwardness between them chips a little, ''I knew you'd come up with something like that, P'.'' Rome jots the idea down on a piece of paper anyway. ''We could make the girls go in pairs and the guys can do a solo walkthrough. Something like a, ''Test Your Courage'' kind of thing.''

''Porshe's going to have my ass for this. He's going to be screaming his head off when he does the route, that scaredy cat.''

The conversation flows easily between them after that and Pick finally feels like Rome's slowly lowering the wall that he's put up. Pick's too busy staring at Rome to understand half of the things that he's suggesting, wondering why it had taken him this long to realize the depth of his feelings for the younger male. How could I have pushed him away so easily? 

''P'Pick!''

''Huh?''

Rome points to the words that's written on Pick's paper, ''You just wrote down the same thing twice.'' He snaps his fingers in front of the senior's face. ''Are you even listening to me?''

I'm trying, but you're being very distracting.

''It's okay. We can continue this tomorrow during the club meeting. It's nearing five anyway.''

Pick opens his mouth before he can lose his nerve, ''Wait. Rome.'' Pick clears his throat and musters up his nerve, palms clammy. ''Can I give you a lift home today?''

''P'Pick...what you're doing isn't helping me, you know.'' Rome sighs and gestures to the bottle, also referring to Pick's offer of sending me home. ''It's giving me hope. I don't-''

Pick can't let this opportunity slip, not when he's fucked up over and over again, trampling all over Rome's feelings like the jerk he was. He's done second-guessing himself, done with putting himself through conflicting feelings.

''What if I tell you that I've made up my mind? That I already know what I want?'' Pick rakes his fingers through his hair, regret and frustration bleeding into his tone. ''Shit...I don't know how to say this.''

Rome deliberates over the senior's words, torn between wanting to hear his explanation and leaving, unsure if he really wants to put himself through this all over again. As cold and unhappy he is towards Pick, Rome's nowhere close to admitting that he doesn't have any feelings for the other anymore. That'd be a huge lie.

Finally, he cracks a small smile and says, ''I'm all ears, P'.''

Pick looks so relieved that it's almost comical. It's a look which doesn't suits him, one that Rome rarely sees, considering that Pick's so...well, everyone knows what Pick's like. It's not like he has to elaborate (coughassholecough).

''I...shit. I'm a huge asshole, alright?''

''Well, glad you know that.'' Rome quips under his breath, crossing his arms against his chest. ''A Grade A asshole to be exact. One of the worst.''

Pick kicks his foot under the bench.

''No. Seriously.'' Pick regains his seriousness again. ''All the things I said to you, everything I've put you through-'' Pick's not exactly a man of words and it's not like he's the best at expressing his feelings, but for Rome's sake, he's going to fucking try, damn it. ''There's no excuse for it. I was a fucking cruel bastard. I think I sometimes take it for granted that you're always going to wait for me. That no matter how shitty I am for a person, you'll always endure it.''

''You are a shitty person, P'. Really.'' I (still) like you anyway.

Pick resists the urge to lean over and flick Rome on the forehead, ''Thanks for pointing that out, you little shit. I can't take back what I said, but-'' He nervously licks his lips, throat going dry as the words hover on the tip of his tongue. ''-I thought about it a lot. The...'' He swallows thickly, rubbing his clammy palms against the fabric of his pants. ''Feelings that I have for you.'' Fuck, I said it. Before he can lose his nerve, Pick continues, ''It took me a long time. To admit it to myself. That what I feel for you goes beyond friendship.''

He sees every emotion that flits across Rome's boyish features; confusion, surprise and disbelief all at once, as if he wasn't expecting to hear those words from the older male.

''I can't promise you anything, but I hope you can give me a chance to mend things between us. Before we decide to take another step forward.'' Pick's alarmed when Rome's eyes starts getting teary all of a sudden, wondering if he had said something wrong without realizing it. ''Fuck. Wait. Why are you crying? Did I say something wrong?''

Rome hastily dabs at his eyes with the sleeve of his uniform and lets out a watery laugh, sniffling a little, ''Sorry, P'. I kept pinching myself on the thigh to make sure that I'm not dreaming and it hurts. That's why I'm crying.''

''You-''

It breaks whatever tension that's left between them and Pick feels like a huge load has been lifted off his shoulders. It's not much, but it's a step forward to mending their friendship.

''Then...'' Rome fiddles with the strap of his bag uncertainly. ''What about Rin?''

''I'll talk to her tomorrow to set things straight between us. Do you think she'll hit me?''

''Well, she should.''

Pick shrugs his shoulders, ''I'd rather have her pissed at me than you.''

It's the first time in awhile that he's seeing Rome's bright smile and it makes Pick feel all sorts of things at that moment. Shit...I've never really realized how cute he is when he smiles like that. It's terrifying in a way, acknowledging his feelings, but Pick's determined to do right this time round.

''Come on.'' Pick stands up and slings his bag across his chest. ''Let's go have dinner.''

Rome mirrors his actions, ''Where do you want to go, P'?''

''The usual place.''

''The usual place...'' Rome furrows his brows, recalling something. ''Wait. Didn't you say that the food wasn't nice the last time we went there with P'Din?''

''That's because he was there.''

''Oh. So does that mean the food will taste good only if you're eating it with me? And not with anyone else?''

''Drea-'' Pick considers denying it, but decides that he really doesn't want to this time round. 

''Maybe.''

(Pick doesn't think it'll be good for his heart in the long run if Rome keeps smiling at him like that, but it's a smile that tells him that everything's going to be just fine between them)

x.x.x