⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀𝐢. —— make it two
— i —
"Please, Pick, this is the last time I'm asking you for anything," Porsche pleaded with his big eyes. Puppy eyes. Damn, he did look like a dog asking for a treat.
Pick slowly blinked, trying to keep his head upright. It was a little after eight in the morning and still way too early for Porsche's shit. Usually, he'd give Pick about two more hours before nagging because he knew that Pick was not a morning person and, frankly, before nine he was barely even a person to begin with. The weather already started to become hot and it didn't mean anything good, Pick was going to regret the black jeans because while he could take off the leather jacket, his professors probably wouldn't be delighted to see his underwear. The question was: how much did Pick care?
"This is the sixteenth time I hear those exact words this week and it's only Wednesday. I'm keeping a count," he answered eventually, words slow and drawled out. God, he was tired. The air conditioner was broken in Pick's dorm room and the heat made it almost impossible to fall asleep, not to mention the phone calls from his father who didn't or more likely didn't want to understand the concept of time zones.
"I... Is it really?" Porsche asked, falling to the bench on the other side of the table. He looked upset and Pick almost felt bad enough to agree to whatever Porsche wanted him to do this time. Almost. It's not that Porsche was manipulative, it's just that Pick sometimes thought he would literally die for Porsche if the boy asked for it and this was a pretty good indicator that Pick should work on his assertiveness when it came to his best friend. He didn't understand why the need to make Porsche happy was so big but it's been like that ever since they've met, sixteen years later Pick was pretty much used to it. He wouldn't do shit for anyone else so it balanced everything out in his opinion. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that."
Pick sighed, resting his chin in a hand and closing his eyes. He was going to regret it; might as well add it to a never-ending list of embarrassing things he did for Porsche. "What is it about this time? If you say any word that starts with E and ends with mma, I'm going to have to deck you, so please do be careful."
Porsche opened his mouth like he wanted to say something but then he closed it and looked to the side, tapping his fingers against the table.
"I'm leaving," Pick decided, moving to stand up. But then his friend caught his wrist and it made Pick stay put.
"Please. It's... it's different, this time. She approached me first," the boy said, making Pick open his eyes wider. That was indeed different. "She asked if I could help her with a photography project but she said she's asking me because her friend wants you to help."
Pick frowned at that. "The shorty who always trails behind her with a camera?" he asked, trying to remember if he's seen N'Emma with anyone else when Porsche was following her around the campus and dragging Pick along.
"I guess so?"
"Mhm, so you do realize she didn't ask because she's interested, yeah? And you want to put yourself through this?" Pick looked at his best friend, raising an eyebrow. Porsche was a kind person and he wasn't dumb, Pick knew that, but sometimes this guy could be so oblivious. Emma didn't pay Porsche any attention since the beginning of the school year, why would it suddenly change now?
"Are you going to help me? She told me to come to their classroom today because they need to introduce us to their teacher," Porsche said, avoiding answering Pick's question.
"You already told her I'm going to do it?" Pick really shouldn't be surprised at this point. He still slapped Porsche upside the head though, just out of principle.
"Come on, I promise I'll buy you food later," Porsche offered, getting up and tugging at Pick's jacket. The boy ran a hand through his black hair and sighed, slowly moving after his best friend.
The photography faculty was about ten minutes away from theirs and by the time they made it, Pick was annoyed even more. Some guy almost pushed him down the stairs and Pick was pretty sure that his ankle was sprained now, but would that stop Porsche from getting to the love of his life? The idiot didn't even look back to ask Pick if he's okay, this was the kind of people Pick had in his life.
"Oh, P'Porsche, you made it!" Emma rushed to open the doors for them once she saw them through the glass. "P'Pick, are you alright?"
"Well, at least you have manners," Pick snorted, leaning against one of the desks at the back. He inspected his ankle and frowned; well, it wasn't swelling that badly.
Porsche walked closer to him. "Is it serious? Do you want me to take you to the hospital?" he offered.
Pick raised an eyebrow. "Take me with what? I have a car, you don't have a license. Just fuck off and make it quick, Porsche. I'm not staying here all day."
The teacher came in a few minutes later and the students started to introduce their partners one by one. Pick noticed that almost all of them were older than the photography majors so he figured out that this was one of the requirements. But Emma could've just asked her asshole of a brother instead of playing with Porsche; she must have known he liked her, Porsche wasn't exactly a subtle person. Malice wasn't something Pick would associate with Emma so he couldn't understand her motives. He didn't like to not know things, especially when they were concerning Porsche. It always made him feel uneasy.
Finally, it was Emma's turn.
"Those are the seniors that are going to help me and Rome. P'Porsche and P'Pick, they're both veterinary science majors," she introduced them. Pick greeted the teacher but then his eyes finally moved to the boy standing next to Emma. It was the shorty, just as Pick had thought. The boy kept nervously glancing back at Pick and something suddenly clicked in Pick's brain.
"It was you!" he said, pushing himself off of the desk he was leaning against. "You almost pushed me down the stairs earlier!"
The boy looked straight up terrified and he almost hid behind a surprised Emma. "I... I did?" he asked, voice cracking. Pick would probably find his behavior amusing if it wasn't for the fact that his ankle did hurt and he was pissed because he still didn't get an apology.
"Yes, you did," Pick pointed a finger at him, moving forward only to be stopped by Porsche's hand on his shoulder. "What, you expect me to still help him?"
Porsche tugged at Pick's jacket. "Come on, I'm sure it was an accident. N'Rome wouldn't intentionally hurt you."
"Of course, P'," Rome rushed out. His cheeks were red and eyes kept moving from Pick to Porsche and back, hands clasped in a wai. "I'm so sorry, I was late and I wanted to get here before the teacher. I'm sorry, P'Pick," he said, looking down at his shoes.
Pick wanted to tell him that he doesn't give a fuck and that he's not going to help with any project, but Porsche was still looking at him with those big eyes and the shorty was practically shaking with fear. Pick couldn't do anything right now.
"Whatever, I'm leaving," he muttered, taking his bag off the desk and throwing it over his arm, not looking back as he left the classroom. He could hear Porsche apologizing to the juniors and then steps behind.
"You didn't have to be an asshole," Porsche said but there was no bite in his voice. Good, it meant he wasn't mad, and Pick wouldn't have to listen to his rant again. He was still hoping for the food Porsche promised him earlier.
"I had to, I'm just taking care of my reputation," Pick laughed, wrapping an arm around Porsche's shoulders to get some weight off of the hurting ankle.
Porsche rolled his eyes. "Rome is already scared of you. Does it really hurt? Maybe we should skip the next class and let a doctor look at it?" he asked, looking down at Pick's leg.
"We can skip but first I want to eat."
"You love me."
— ii —
For some reason, Pick noticed Rome almost immediately which was weird because he had never noticed him before. He was walking in front of the cafe just outside of their campus when his eyes caught a small figure inside, still in school uniform with the sleeves rolled up, still with a camera hanging off his neck. Pick didn't hesitate before walking in.
"One iced cappuccino, please," Rome said to the girl behind the counter.
"Make it two," Pick piped in right after, making Rome jump slightly and look to his left. He needed to crane his neck to be able to look at Pick's face and Pick found it extremely funny, though he did his best to hide the amusement.
"Hello, P'Pick," the short boy said, immediately raising his hands to wai Pick. "What are you doing here?"
Pick slid hands into the back pockets of his jeans, looking around. "What can I do in a cafe? I just ordered a coffee, didn't I?" he asked, moving his eyes back to Rome to see a light blush on his cheeks.
"And... how's your ankle?" Rome actually sounded concerned, his hands nervously fiddled with the camera. Pick sighed and caught one of Rome's hands to move it away.
"Stop before you break it. It looks expensive," he said, just then noticing that Rome completely stilled with eyes stuck to Pick's hand that was holding his own. Pick quickly let go of it, clearing his throat just as the girl announced that their orders were ready. "Come on, I need to talk to you," Pick pushed Rome a little towards one of the free tables. He smirked, seeing the scared look on the boy's face.
"I'm sorry, P'Pick. I didn't want to hurt you," Rome squeezed the plastic cup in his hands, looking down at it.
"Mm, I don't care. Just tell me why did Emma ask Porsche to help her?" Pick leaned forward, raising an eyebrow. Rome looked like a deer caught in the headlights and it made everything even more suspicious in Pick's eyes. "Spill or I'll really give you a reason to be scared of me."
The boy raised his head, staring at Pick with wide eyes. It was easy to mess with him, something Pick probably shouldn't be taking advantage of but whatever. It's not like he needed to get along with the shorty just because Porsche was in love with Rome's best friend; for now, Pick didn't like the guy, nor did he know Emma enough to have an opinion about her.
"Porsche told me that Emma said her friend wants my help, I'm assuming the friend is you. But I also know it's not true, we don't know each other at all," he tried to reason, stirring the ice with his straw, eyes not leaving the boy sitting in front of him.
Rome had this type of beauty people would compliment the way they'd do so with a girl; his skin was smooth, lips were pink, he had nice cheekbones and dark brown eyes. Delicate features. The boy was... pretty, now that Pick actually looked at him. Not handsome, it wasn't a good word to describe him, but just... pretty, what with the long eyelashes and stuff. Pick usually wouldn't waste time on commenting other guys' looks but, well, Rome was just in front of him, and Pick happened to notice. That's perfectly normal.
"It could be true," Rome muttered, averting his gaze to the side. His cheeks were tainted pink again and Pick slowly started to wonder if maybe the kid just had troubles with his heart, no one blushed all the damn time.
Pick raised an eyebrow at that, kicking at Rome's leg under the table to make him look at Pick again. "How so?" he asked, curious.
"Well... I did want to take pictures of you before, P'. But Emma said it would be creepy and I didn't know if you'd even like to be photographed, so..." Rome shrugged, putting straw between his lips to sip the coffee before the ice completely melted.
Pick swallowed, wondering how that statement made him feel. To be honest, Pick didn't like it when people took pictures of him. He knew he's good looking and girls used to snap pictures with their phones whether on campus or when Pick was out with Porsche, usually he didn't even mind because this was something he was used to. But there were... troubles when people started to spread the pictures that shouldn't have been online in the first place. Pictures that could reach Pick's father. Pick knew that what Emma and Rome asked for was different, the pictures taken for the project wouldn't be posted anywhere else and there was a ban on spreading the photos used for such things, so this wasn't something Pick needed to worry about.
"Why did you want to take pictures of me?" Pick asked finally, smirking when Rome slid a little bit down on his chair, looking like he'd prefer to be anywhere else, hell included. "Is it because I'm handsome? Do you have a crush on me, N'Rome? I'm not going to stop until you tell me the real reason," Pick informed the younger boy, with satisfaction watching the mess in front of him.
"I can't tell you!" Rome answered, squeezing the cup in his hands a little tighter. "You can tease me all you want, P'Pick, but I've promised something to my best friend. And if you want to think she asked P'Porsche for help only because I have a crush on you, then it's alright. I'm sorry, I have to go now," he added, quickly getting up.
Pick leaned back in the chair and sighed, watching how Rome trips over his legs in his haste to get out of the cafe. He didn't even take his coffee with him. This was ridiculous and Rome was starting to get on Pick's nerves. He wasn't a patient person to begin with and Rome seemed to be testing him right now. Well, Pick would not follow him to get his answers; mostly because he didn't care that much but also because this fucking asshole sprained Pick's ankle.
Pick was petty, thank you very much.
— iii —
Rome was sure that P'Pick already hated him which was stupid considering that they actually talked twice in their life, but maybe Rome was paranoid and for Pick it was enough. He couldn't explain it, there was just something about the way Pick was staring at Rome that made him think the older boy wouldn't hesitate before pushing him down the stairs to get revenge for the sprained ankle (for which, by the way, Rome had apologized about hundred times already).
Rome tugged at the sleeves of his hoodie, they were a little too long on him but Rome was glad that he liked bigger clothes because now maybe he'd be able to drown in them and avoid Pick's gaze. It was a Friday evening and Emma decided it would be a good idea to meet with their partners to discuss the project, so they were sitting at one of the restaurants in Siam and "discussing"; Emma was talking, P'Porsche was staring at her as if she was the one who hung the stars, Rome was trying not to die and P'Pick was... angry, probably.
"Maybe we should tell them about the trip?" Rome suggested, nudging Emma who was sitting next to him.
"Well, yeah, I'm getting to that," Emma answered, making Rome raise an eyebrow at her. In that case, she was very bad at staying on the topic. Not that it was news to Rome.
"What trip?" Porsche asked curiously. Rome thought it's kind of adorable how much attention Porsche was paying to Emma, but judging by how Pick rolled his eyes, he thought his best friend is just being ridiculous. Two types of people.
"I already told you that the project is kind of about your life, right? That's why we needed to find seniors who graduate this year, for a month we have to capture your last year at the university," Emma repeated, taking out the papers their teacher gave them with detailed instructions about the project. She moved them on the table towards the two boys on the opposite side; only Porsche looked at them. "But our teacher figured it might be a little weird for some of you at first, so she decided that we'll spend the first week on getting you all used to us taking pictures. For that we're going on a trip just to the countryside, so we'll have time to spend together and just decide what you want to show us and what you don't want us to photograph. You'd be excused from your lectures, of course, so it wouldn't ruin your attendance."
At that Pick finally looked interested. "A week of vacation? Should've said so in the first place," he said, looking at the watch on his phone screen. That made Rome realize how long they've actually been in the restaurant.
Emma seemed to notice it, too. "Oh, I have to go now. I'm going to text you the details tomorrow, P'," she told Porsche, gathering her things and getting up. "Come on, Rome. I'll drive you home."
"I still need to buy a few things so you can leave first," Rome said with a soft smile, rolling the sleeves up. Emma looked at him with concern as she flopped back down on the chair.
"Then how will you get home? You remember what happened the last time you walked there alone," she said, lowering her voice. It probably wasn't enough, seeing as when Rome looked at the seniors, they were both staring at him with curiosity on their faces. Rome wasn't mad at Emma, though, he did remember what happened and she was just worried which was justified.
"I'll be fine, Emma. I will call you when I get home, okay? Drive safe."
Emma didn't look convinced but she probably didn't want to make a scene in front of Porsche and Pick, so she just nodded and stood up again. "Alright. But once you leave this building, I want you to text me every fifteen minutes," she pointed a finger at him, daring Rome to argue with her.
"Are you my mom?" he asked amused, pocketing his phone.
"God knows sometimes I feel like I should be," the girl sighed, ruffling his hair and finally starting to walk off towards the exit.
Porsche jumped from his seat. "I'll walk you to your car," he offered, not even looking back as he followed the younger girl. Rome rolled his eyes and looked towards Pick who was just stretching arms over his head.
"You're not going with him, P'?" Rome didn't feel comfortable being alone with Pick because he knew the older boy probably didn't want to be alone with him either. He wouldn't mind just spending time together, he didn't lie when he told Pick he wanted to take photos of him before, but not if Pick would feel forced to do so because of the project. He had no idea how they're going to work with each other or how the trip will turn out. Sometimes Rome hated himself for not being able to tell Emma no, it was kind of ruining his life right now.
"What for? If I'll have to watch him making heart eyes at your friend for another second I'm going to throw up everything I ate today," Pick answered, slowly standing up. Rome was pretty sure that Pick didn't even go to the hospital to get his ankle checked; the fact that he was studying medicine didn't mean he could take care of his injuries on his own, right? After all, he was a vet student, not a doctor.
Rome, deciding that he'll be able to outrun Pick if he annoys the older boy too much, took a risk at continuing the conversation even as they both were leaving the restaurant. "You're not happy for him?"
Pick looked down on him with a frown. "I would be. If she liked him back instead of using him for whatever reason," he drawled out slowly, looking around the mall. There was still a lot of people walking around in school uniforms because even though it was getting quite late, it was still a Friday evening.
Rome frowned, feeling offended on Emma's behalf even though he knew Pick's words could be justified. "It's not like that, P'. She doesn't want to use him," the boy bit his tongue before he could say anything else. It wasn't that serious but it was still Emma's secret, not Rome's, and he wouldn't betray his best friend for a senior that hated him.
"Unless you tell me what she really wants from him, I'm done talking about it. What do you need to buy here?" Pick changed the topic so suddenly that it took Rome a few seconds to understand the question.
"Um, just some... Just some things for my camera," he answered eventually, looking down at his pink hoodie.
He nervously glanced towards the taller boy next to him; Pick was wearing his usual outfit consisting of black ripped jeans, a white t-shirt, and a leather jacket that was now thrown over his shoulder. His hair was styled up but it didn't look like Pick was using a lot of gel to keep it there, it looked rather soft and Rome always wondered if it is that soft. He liked Pick's hair probably more than he should if he was being honest with himself. But the truth was that everything about Pick was pretty; he didn't look like typical Thai boys, he looked more like he should be cast as the main character in some Korean drama. He was insanely tall and well-built, his lips were nice to look at (not that Rome did it often, he didn't hate himself that much), he had dark eyes and charisma of a bad boy (along with bad boy's manners, Rome was sure), and he rode a motorcycle, for god's sake. He was... Well, okay, if P'Porsche was adorable then P'Pick was simply... hot. He seemed like someone who would beat people like Rome up which wasn't comforting.
"Come on then. Are you just going to stand here all night?" Pick asked, already moving forward. Rome blinked, surprised at the fact that Pick decided to accompany him, but he wouldn't complain so he just ran after the older boy.
— iv —
"You can just stop the car here, P'," Rome muttered, looking straight ahead.
He knew that letting Pick drive him home was a bad idea but for some reason the senior insisted, even though they couldn't seem to agree on anything, even something as simple as whether to take the stairs or elevator (for Rome it was obvious they should take the elevator since Pick's ankle was sprained, but the boy only told Rome to stop telling him what to do). The ride was tense because Rome was aware of how close to him Pick was sitting, he had only one hand on the steering wheel while the fingers of another one were tapping against his thigh and Rome's eyes kept going back to those movements. They weren't talking because Pick still seemed annoyed at Rome for whatever reason so Rome decided he wouldn't push it.
He was just about to get out of the car when his eyes caught a few boys standing near his house. Rome's hand faltered above the handle and he nervously looked back to Pick; he was staring out of the window, clearly waiting for Rome to go. He didn't say it, but Rome knew that Pick wanted him gone. And god, there was nothing more he wanted than just get out but... Were they waiting for him?
"Your friends?" Pick's voice sounded so close to Rome that it made him jump slightly in his seat, the seat belt digging into his body to keep him in place. When he looked to his right, he noticed that Pick was now leaning forward and staring at the group of guys Rome had been looking at just seconds ago.
"Yeah, well, you could say that," he said bitterly, unbuckling himself.
Pick frowned at that. "Who are they? Does this have anything to do with what N'Emma was talking about at the restaurant? What happened the last time you walked home alone?" he kept asking when Rome wouldn't give him an answer.
"Thank you for the ride, P'," Rome put his hands in a wai, but then suddenly Pick caught one of his wrists, making Rome look at him with wide eyes.
Rome wasn't in the best place right now. He didn't want to remember anything and Pick's questions made him see what happened the last time he went home alone, and it was too much. He snatched his wrist out of Pick's grip. "What do you want from me?!" he asked frustrated. He should've left with Emma when she asked, she would know what to say now to make him calm down. He was trying to steady his rapidly beating heart but it was hard.
There was a beat of silence before Pick spoke up again; slowly as if he was talking to a child. "I don't want anything from you. What could I possibly want from someone like you?"
Someone like you. Those words made Rome immediately stop thinking about anything else. He didn't know if Pick somehow found out he's gay or if he said so only because he thought of Rome as someone worse than him, but it still hurt. It hurt enough to make Rome want to be anywhere else than this close to Pick, so without another word he got out of the car, stumbling over his legs and loudly shutting the doors. He felt a sting behind his eyes but he quickly blinked the tears away because he noticed that the loud noise made the boys in front of his house look up; they weren't going anywhere which meant that they were, in fact, waiting for Rome to get back.
He took a deep breath and forced his legs to move, crossing the sidewalk and getting closer to the gate. Almost there...
"Hello, princess. You kept us waiting," the tallest one of the boys said and a moment later Rome could feel a hand on his shoulder, pushing him forward and making his body bounce off of the gate.
He grimaced, his body still remembered the old injuries, not all bruises healed. "Please, leave me alone, P'Tul," Rome muttered, trying to open the gate only to be pulled back. He tripped over someone's extended leg and his body fell to the pavement, he tried to secure himself on his elbows but he immediately regretted it when the pain shot through his arms.
Tul hovered over him with a smirk. "You're not going anywhere until I say that you can. And where's that little girlfriend of yours tonight? Not here to defend you?" he asked, looking around. But then his smile seemed to slip off his face and it made Rome look back to see what Tul was staring at.
"Oh, don't mind me," Pick said with a shrug. There was Rome's camera hanging between his fingers on a stripe and the younger boy realized that he got out of the car so fast that he forgot about his things. As if this night wasn't embarrassing enough. "I'll enjoy doing what you did to him to all of you, maybe adding a crowbar or something to make it more interesting," he took a step forward and Rome flinched when he's heard sudden steps on the pavement. But he wasn't hit this time and after turning his head he could see that Tul jumped back when Pick got closer. "Do I have to count to three or will you get lost without bothering me?" the tall boy asked and it was all it took.
Rome knew that Pick had a reputation but it seemed like it couldn't be enough for a group of five boys to run away like scared children. What exactly had been true from the rumors about Pick? Rome was breathing heavily and he almost had a heart attack when something touched his arm, and by no means did he calm down when he knew it was Pick who helped him stand up.
"Don't touch me," Rome forced himself to say, even though his voice was cracking funnily. Pick helped him regain balance but then stepped back, extending the camera towards Rome.
"This happens often?" Pick asked almost conversationally, putting hands in the back pockets of his jeans.
Rome blinked, if he'd try to catch the quick changes in Pick's moods he would probably snap his neck. "It's not your business, P'. Someone like me doesn't need your help," he stressed. Pick looked surprised at that, as if he didn't even think that the words he told Rome earlier could have offended him.
Rome couldn't deal with this right now because if he'd keep standing here, he would soon get mad at Emma. He would blame her and it wasn't her fault, she didn't know that it would be this hard for Rome. She knew P'Porsche liked her, but on the other hand, Rome knew that P'Pick despised him. They both needed to face this on their own.
The boy squeezed his camera a little tighter and refused himself another glance at Pick. He quickly turned around and almost ran through the gate to get to his house.
And he did not spend the following night on googling how to get rid of feelings for people that would never even look his way.