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August With Offgun Couples

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There’s a certain sparkle in Rome’s eyes when he looks at Pick. It’s been there for a while. Pick can’t help but wonder if anyone else sees it or if it is something just for him.

He doesn’t know that Rome sees that same sparkle in his eyes— that Rome wonders the same thing every day.

Whenever Pick looks across the club room table, hoping to catch that sparkle, he finds another nes thing about Rome. Like the way he laughs or nudges Emma about some inside joke. Everyday something new and beautiful. There was no one else on earth like Rome, and Pick had no idea what that meant.

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Khai wanted to get home as fast as he could, but it was going to take hours before the spell could wear off and he didn’t want Third to see him like this. In fact, it was probably impossible to get home within the day in his current state, at least on his own. His friends were taking him directly home and Khai was a little nervous to see his boyfriend.

“Hang in there Khai, I’ll get you to Third and he’ll know the counter-spell,” Bone said, even though there was still clear panic in his voice. It was good that Bone felt guilty because this was all his fault. If he hadn’t messed up the ingredients they would have cast the correct spell, but in the end they cast a very, very incorrect one.

“Hey at least you’ll actually get an answer to that viral question,” Two tried to lighten the mood. Not that either of his friends would really be able to see his mood. Khai didn’t exactly have a face at that moment. He was stuck as a worm.

“As soon as you're human again you should ask Third if he’d still love you if you were a worm,” Two continued. “Unless he's too busy trying to murder Bone for doing this to you.”

Khai would’ve huffed in annoyance, but he couldn’t really do much besides squirm around in the container Two was holding. This was possibly the worst day of his life. Third better still love him as a worm.

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“There is no counter-spell,” Third said bluntly and watched as Bone’s face went pale. Technically, Third wasn’t lying, he just wasn’t planning on letting Bone off the hook for turning his boyfriend into a fucking worm.

Two looked from the worm in his hands to Third, “You don’t seem very concerned.”

“Well I didn’t do it, why should I feel guilty?” Third glared at Bone who took a cautious step away from him.

“What are we going to do?” Bone looked like he was on the verge of tears, which was pretty rare for him. Maybe Third was being a little too harsh. Oh well.

Third shrugged nonchalantly, “Plant a garden and let him live there happily I guess.”

“I have an idea!” Two announced and shoved the container with Khai into Third’s arms, “Kiss him!”

“What the fuck, Two? This isn’t a Disney film, true love’s kiss isn’t going to break the spell, dumbass.”

Bone looked a little hopeful, “At least try it Third, I don’t want to be the one that turned Khai into a worm forever.”

“Yeah come on, Third, it could save him!” Two added.

Third sighed, “I’m not kissing a worm.” His friends looked hurt. They were completely ridiculous. “Have you two ever paid attention during class? Transformation spells only last a few hours, he’ll be fine by dinner tonight.”

Bone looked a mix between relieved and angry at Third and Two was trying to stifle a laugh. He probably knew too and was just playing along. Third made a mental note to thank him later.

“Now you two get out of my apartment,” He shoved his friend out the door, then looked down at the container in his hands, “You and I can watch TV until you’re human again.”

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Punn knew better than to wander off into the forest by himself, but he was stubborn and angry at his family. The thought of seeing anyone else from the village mocking him was unbearable. Sure, he had messed up and failed his spellcasting exam. The prized student, golden boy, supposed savior of their destitute town had failed.

In the end Punn wasn’t even sure what went wrong. He’d followed every step, the spells he had to do were skills he’d mastered years before, but he couldn’t find the power to put it behind it. It felt like something was blocking him from his magic.

He continued through the woods for hours. The village made it clear how they felt about him now. He had no place there anymore. Maybe he could build some makeshift shelter for the night, hopefully cast a protection spell, and sleep in the forest. That was a big risk. It was getting darker and therefore more dangerous. Evil spirits tended to stalk their prey in the forest at night. Punn wasn’t sure he’d get through the night, but he couldn’t go back.

A faint light in the distance caught his attention. It wasn’t a magical light, probably a torch or lantern, maybe shining through a window. Someone was living in the middle of the woods. Punn stayed out of sight as he moved towards it. No sane person would choose to live somewhere that almost spilled over with evil every night.

“Hello, Punn.”

He froze. Someone was behind him. Punn willed his magic to start working again, but the damper from before felt even stronger now. He turned slowly, balling his hands into fists. There was more than one way to defend himself.

“Calm down,” A tall cloaked figure slowly removed his hood, revealing a handsome face. “My name is Thawin, I was hoping you’d come find me.”

Thawin. Parents told children about an ancient wizard that was burned at the stake for his crimes. It was a tall tale to get children to behave. Or maybe it was true.

“I’ve been watching you. You’re a very talented wizard, Punn. I would like you to be my student.”

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Rome was locked out past midnight and he was afraid of the dark. His roommate had gone to sleep early and he didn’t know anyone else from the apartment complex. Even then he wouldn’t be able to get into his own room. Why did he have to stay out late on the one day he forgot his keys.

Panic started to set in. Where was he supposed to sleep for the night? Continuing to wait outside his apartment entrance seemed like a bad idea. There was an ally with absolutely no lighting just to his left. Rome took a deep breath and tried to think rationally. He could probably find some 24 hour store or restaurant to wait in, that way he wouldn’t be on his own. Unfortunately, the way to town was left. He would have to walk past the alley.

Realistically, Rome knew it was unlikely anything bad would happen to him just walking by, but he couldn’t help his fear. Something seemed wrong with the alley as he started to hurry away from it. He could feel his heartbeat quicken as the shuffling of footsteps sounded behind him. Someone was following him, and they were getting closer by the second.

Rome broke into a sprint, but the footsteps easily kept up with him. He could feel tears start to drip down his face. He didn’t want to die in the street all because he forgot his keys. He tried to run even faster, and turned the street corner that would lead into town where there would be lights, but he ran directly into something.

An arm gripped his shoulder, “You should be more careful.”

“Let me go,” Rome cried, “Someone is following me.”

The stranger loosened his grip, “I know. That’s why you should be careful. Stay behind me.”

Rome sniffled as the footsteps of whoever was chasing him got closer. The stranger gently pushed him away.

“Killing mortals now?” The stranger asked, and the footsteps stopped immediately. “You know we have rules. Come into the light and show your face.”

The footsteps took off in the opposite direction. The stranger sighed and turned to Rome, “Don’t worry, I am not letting him go. My friends will take care of him.”

Rome gasped as he noticed the man’s glowing red eyes.

“My name is Pick, I will take you back to your place. Get inside quickly this time.”

“What are you?” Rome whispered.

“That doesn’t matter, once you go to sleep, you won’t remember me or tonight,” Pick started back towards Rome’s apartment.

“Wait, I can’t get into my place,” Rome remembered and clung to the stranger's arm, “Don’t leave me out here alone.”

Rome felt a little crazy. He did not know anything about Pick, except that he may not be human, and that he made Rome feel inexplicably safe.

He looked right into Pick’s glowing eyes, “Let me stay with you tonight.”

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Khai was looking at Third with his stupid pleading eyes and cute little pouting face and Thrid was about to lose it. Whether that meant getting angry or giving in to Khai’s whims was still unclear.

“Come on Thiiiiird, just one more try okay? I know I’ll get it this time!”

“You’re going to spend our entire vacation budget on this one claw machine,” Third countered, “What if you want to buy something at a different shop and we have no money? What are you going to do then?”

“I promise this is the last try, please? Tee-ruk, I’ll make it up to you later,” Khai winked.

Third just scoffed, “Who says I want you to make it up to me. Fine, one more try.”

Khai looked overjoyed as Third handed him a few coins to put into the claw machine. Khai carefully maneuvered the claw towards the gigantic unicorn plushie he’d become obsessed with the moment he laid eyes on it. The claw only grasped the edge of the unicorn before coming up empty. Khai let out a frustrated noise, but slowly turned to Third.

“One more time, I swear I’ll get it Third.”

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Pick sighed wondering what plan Rome had conjured up. He asked Pick to keep his eyes closed when he got home and not open them until he had permission. He’d already been home for 20 minutes and was laying back on the couch, eyes still closed. It was starting to seem like Rome had broken something or made a mess while he was at work, and was now scrambling to fix it.

But when Rome shouted to make sure his eyes were still closed, there was a hint of excitement in his voice. He was definitely up to something.

Pick felt the couch sink down a bit as Rome sat next to him, “Okay, you can open your eyes now!”

“Finally, it's about time--” Pick froze as his eyes landed on the wall in front of him. There was a set of poster boards with big letters, clearly a rushed project.

Congratulations, you are going to be the best father (besides me)!

Rome was smiling and quickly pulled Pick into a hug, “The adoption agency called half and hour ago and I wanted to surprise you. We’re going to be parents!”

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Maetee felt like he was the only one who noticed how strange T-Rex acted sometimes. When no one else was around, he’d hear T-Rex speaking in what seemed like a completely different language. Whenever he tried to get a glance at what the shorty was up to, T-Rex would scramble to hide whatever he was doing and act like he wasn’t doing anything. It was very suspicious, and Maetee was going to get to the bottom of it.

He waited until all the other Tees were out of the house, then pretended he was going out for groceries. Instead of actually leaving, he hid just outside of their room and listened for T-Rex to start talking in the strange language before barging into the room.

T-Rex was pointing something at their windows that caused a shiny energy to surround them. Outside, there was a dark smoke that seemed to be fighting back against whatever T-Rex was doing.

“What is that?!” Maetee shrieked.

T-Rex spun around in surprise, “Maetee? What are you doing here?”

“Witnessing the supernatural,” He cried, pointing at the windows.

T-Rex hurried over to his side, “Wait don’t panic, take deep breaths, okay? I’ll explain everything once you are calmer.”

“Just it explain it now or I won’t calm down at all,” Maetee clung to T-Rex in fear.

“I know this sounds crazy, but magic is real,” T-Rex gently pet Maetee’s hair with one hand and held up thing the he was holding before in his other hand, “I can control magic a little with this wand. I promise I wasn’t doing anything bad, I was actually casting protection spells.”

“Magic is real?” Maetee whimpered, “So demons and ghosts are real too?”

T-Rex sighed, “Yes, but they can’t really do much besides try and scare people, but I’ve been doing my best to keep them away from you.”

“With magic,” Maetee added on, “Because magic is real and so are the things I am most afraid of.”

“They can’t hurt you, I have been keeping them away. Don’t be scared, I’ve got you.” T-Rex held him tighter.


“I promise?”

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Third wasn’t especially excited to attend the campus talent show. He’d gone the last two years and no one had even impressed him with the skills. Sure they were talented, but they were definitely not entertaining. Third would rather be finishing his classwork, but P’Un had insisted saying something about ‘being social for once’.

Most of the contestants were musicians, and it was starting to feel like a concert more than a talent show. Did no one at the university have any unique skills. Third was ready to call it quits and leave despite P’Un, but the title of the next act caught his attention.

An incredibly handsome man walked to the center of the stage and smiled at the audience. The show was finally starting to get interesting.

“Hello everyone, my name is Khai, and today I will be performing magic that will shock you!”

Third rolled his eyes. How good could he really be? He watched as Khai went through a few simple tricks that any beginning magician could do. The rest of the audience seemed to be enjoying the show, Third just didn’t understand.

“And for my next trick I will need an audience member to be my assistant,” Khai held up a paper from seemingly nowhere, “Whoever is sitting in row 11 seat 5, please come join me on stage.”


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When Khai agreed to perform in the talent show, it had been a joke. But then one of the event organizers had overheard him and signed him up. He was fully ready to clear up the misunderstanding when Bone had laughed and said “yeah what talent do you even have to show”. Right then he decided he would participate out of spite. There was still a month before the show, he could definitely come up with something.

Magic was something he liked a lot when he was younger, so he decided to give it a shot. Plus, there were tons of magic-related pick up lines he could use after the show, which would make this whole thing worth it. What Khai didn’t expect was the guy in row 11 seat 5.

He was adorable. Khai practically forgot what he was supposed to be doing because this stranger had the most kissable lips he’d ever seen. How was he supposed to perform magic when his assistant was a walking miracle?

Khai snapped himself out of his reverie to continue his act, “What’s your name?”

The guy sighed, looking like he wanted to be anywhere else besides there, “Third.”

“It’s nice to meet you Third,” Khai winked and turned towards the audience. Suddenly an idea popped into his head. He glanced back at Third and smirked, “For my next trick, I will make this man fall in love.”

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Rome knew, deep down, that it was all an illusion. There was no way Pick liked him back. All their little glances between each other were just in his head. The rides home were a friendly gesture, not romantic. The kisses they shared were… harder to explain, but they didn’t mean that Pick wanted him in the same way.

It was starting to hurt to be around him, but he found out it hurt even more to be away. Pick made sure of that when he left for an internship without any warning. One day he was just gone, confirming the illusion that Rome created for himself.

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“Drink this,” Khai slid a potion across the table to his boyfriend.

Third picked up the little bottle and squinted at the contents, “Why? What is this?”

He did not trust any of the food Khai fed him since he picked up a potion making elective, and Khai was looking especially suspicious as he fidgeted in his chair.

“Just drink it,” Khai insisted.

Third knew Khai wouldn’t give him anything that was actually dangerous, and even he was a little curious why his boyfriend cared so much about whatever was in that bottle. He cautiously uncapped the bottle and took a sip. It didn’t taste all that bad. He downed the rest and waited for something to happen.

Khai was smiling, which was cute, but there was also a glint of mischief in his eyes. What had Third just gotten himself into?

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Third didn’t feel different for the entire day. Whatever Khai gave him didn’t seem to have much of an effect. Even when he woke up in the morning, he felt fine. Maybe it was just a prank to get him paranoid or something.

He hadn’t gotten out of bed yet, instead opting to pull Khai closer.

“Hmmm Third, stop it that tickles,” Khai murmured sleepily.

“What? I’m not doing anything?” Third said, opening his eyes to squint at his boyfriend, who was just blinking open his eyes for the first time that morning.

“IT WORKED!” Khai screamed and sat up immediately, “I didn’t think it would work, but you look cute.”

Third had no idea what was happening, but he already felt like he deserved to be angry, “What did you do to me?”

“Don’t get mad, okay?” Khai grabbed his hands. That was worrying. He was definitely going to get mad. “You’re already making a mad face, stop it.”

“What. Did. You. Do.”

Khai nervously pulled Third up and led him to the bathroom mirror. Third looked at his reflection and rubbed his eyes because this really could not be happening. He reached up to touch the unexpected cat ears that had appeared on his head.

“Khai,” Third turned to him, catching the flick of tail on his reflection, and smiled sweetly, “I’m going to fucking kill you.”

Khai immediately sprinted out of the bathroom, “The merchant I got it from said it will wear off in two days!”

“Why would you even get this in the first place,” Third chased him, eventually tackling Khai onto their couch.

“Because I knew how cute you would look,” Khai held his arm which had taken some damage in the tackle. “Please don’t be mad na. I really didn’t believe it at the time!”

“But you gave it to me anyway?” Third scoffed as he noticed Khai reaching up to touch the ears. “Are you even sorry?”

“It’s distracting,” Khai pouted, “You look adorable, can I pet you?”

Third was about to scream no, but Khai was already petting him and he was purring and leaning into the touch. His cheeks started to heat up, it was embarrassing, but he felt extremely content.

“Do you think you’d purr if we tried something else?” Khai smirked up at him.

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Off was starting to have doubts about his job. He had been working there for years, but his loyalty had cracked over time, finally breaking when he laid eyes on the latest ‘specimen’ he was meant to study.

It had all seemed normal when he first joined. Studying flowers or whatever small things he couldn’t truly hurt made its way to his lab table. Then they started to give him strange things to study. Animals that didn’t seem quite right and plants that made Off sense things he couldn’t quite place. It felt wrong every time he saw them in the lab. They did not belong there.

The latest specimen was the most out of place. It was a person.

Off was frozen in the doorway. Did his boss really want him to perform experiments on the man looking back at him? Beyond having a certain draw to him that made Off want to protect him more than anything, it was unethical.

“You must be Dr. Adulkittiporn. The guards told me you’d be in charge of me,” the man glared at him. “You are going to regret keeping me here.”

“I didn’t take part in capturing you. I’ve only studied plants and animals before. This… this is unethical. I don’t support human experimentation. I’ll talk to my boss right away,”

The man laughed, “Do you know where you work? That’s obviously not going to do anything. I don’t need your false promises. And what does human experimentation have to do with anything?”

Off took a deep breath as he moved a little closer, “I don’t know where I work, only that it’s for the government. I couldn’t turn down the job after college. I had no money and nowhere to go. A van with blacked out windows takes me to work every day.”

“You’re trapped too?” The man looked him up and down, “Do you want to escape? If we work together it might be possible.”

Off nodded, feeling a wave of fear and excitement wash over him, “I can’t work here any more… if we try to leave, would they…”

“Kill us? Probably. But don’t worry, I will do my best to protect us. You just need to lead us out of the lab. You can call me Gun, by the way.”

“Gun,” Off repeated, “What do we need to do to get out of here?”