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You make me (sing songs about nature)

Chapter Text

Warm breeze ruffling his hair, sunrays caressing his skin. And the sounds of calm waves tickling his feet.
Pran took a deep breath and… there it was – the scent of the ocean, salty, fresh, and soothing.

Paradise.

Pran fought the urge to open his eyes.

He didn’t want to wake up.

Not yet.

It wasn’t the first time he dreamt about this place, although it was the first time in a while. It was almost exactly a mirror of the beach he once went to with Wai during their first summer break after everything went to shit.

It was truly the only place on Earth where he felt entirely at ease and wasn’t that sad?
Nothing to worry about. Nobody to worry about.
No pressure.
Nothing.

Pran could almost believe he could taste the salt on his tongue when he let his mouth go slack and took another deep breath.
His toes wiggled in the wet sand, and oh, what a wonderful feeling that was!

Slowly, he opened his eyes…

 

*

 

Every new day was making him feel so, so tired. He just couldn't stand seeing them together.

 

*

 

The beach again.
This time, he opened his eyes almost immediately.

“No, no, no!” he caught a glimpse of the sand and the ocean before everything faded to black.

He drifted in nothingness.

 

*

 

Every interaction was as exhilarating as it was agonizing.
Pran suspected he might actually die of emotional whiplash.

 

*

 

That third night, he stubbornly decided not to open his eyes at all. Maybe then he wouldn’t have to wake up and face reality.

He stood in his usual place, and just absorbed the sounds, the smells, and the sensations of the waves hitting his skin.
The ocean felt more alive that night.

“Well, this is new.”

Pran froze.

No way.

There was literally no way in hell-

“Pran?”

His heart dropped. Couldn’t he exist in peace even in his own fucking dreams?

“Pran, is that you?”

A big, warm hand curled around Pran’s wrist resting at his side.

It felt way too real.

God, he had to wake up.

Pran opened his eyes, expecting everything to fade to black, as it did those previous times, but-

He gasped because nothing happened. Instead, he could finally see the ocean, vast and beautiful and calm, although there seemed to be some dark clouds on the horizon, slowly inching closer. He squinted, trying to see better, completely forgetting all about his predicament.

“This is weird,” the voice reminded him of the unwanted presence and he flinched. “I can’t remember this place” the voice got so close, Pran could feel the other’s breath on the side of his neck.

He refused to look back. Maybe if he willed him gone… well. Stranger things used to happen in his dreams.

“But hey, this time I can actually touch you, so I’m not gonna complain.”

“What?” Pran reacted before thinking and turned around, forcibly freeing his wrist from Pat’s hold. It felt like it got burned by his touch.

And there he was.

“Oh goody, you’re as prickly as a hedgehog even in my dreams,” Pat rolled his eyes and, wait a minute, what? “But that’s okay. I like you anyway, so… makes sense” he grinned.

Oh God, has Pran actually gone insane?

His lips trembled and Pat, who’s been watching him intently, frowned.

“Wait, this isn’t right. Why are you sad? You always look happy in my dreams.”

Pat’s words punched a hysterical laugh out of Pran.

“Your dreams?” he blinked rapidly a few times to get rid of that annoying wetness “YOUR dreams?”

And… no. He wasn’t even going to dwell on the meaning of Pat’s words. There was no point.

“Shit, why did you have to appear?” he took a step back into the water and covered his face with both hands, defeated. “This is my secret place, go back to your own dreams, jackass.”

He must have sounded crazy. He found he didn’t care.
The whole situation was fucking crazy.

He blindly took another step back and sank a bit lower in the wet sand, warm water caressing his thighs.

“Pran, wait. Don’t-“ Pran looked up.

Looking Pat straight in the eyes, he kept taking step after step back into the ocean, submerging himself in the water centimeter after centimeter with quiet resolve.

 

The sound of thunder.

 

Pat’s eyes filled with sheer panic, his hands outstretched towards Pran-

Chapter Text

Pran woke up with a start to the sound of incessant knocking on his door.

His heart was beating wildly and he felt slightly out of breath, but forced himself to get up and drag his feet through the dorm room.
He felt so out of it, he didn’t even look through the peephole.

“Pran!” it took him a few seconds to understand that it was Pat who barged inside and embraced him.

“What the hell, Pat?!” he blinked and pushed the other boy away. “What do you think you’re doing?”

God, it made him so angry, that even Pat’s stricken expression didn’t move him. Much.

“I-” Pat blinked a few times “Sorry, I-“ he rubbed his neck, finally beginning to look embarrassed. “I had a dream.” Came the muttered explanation.

Oh fuck, no.

“A dream?” Pran laughed mockingly, trying very hard to mask his panic. “What, did somebody tell you you’re not handsome in your dream, so you wanted a hug?” he crossed his arms, mostly to keep his hands from shaking.

Pat didn’t even roll his eyes. He just kept looking at Pran, as if committing his features to memory.

“I’m sorry not everybody thinks you’re the eighth wonder of the world. Can you go now?” he couldn’t stop talking. “I’m tired and I want to sleep, so please fucking go already.”

Please, please, please...

The staredown lasted an eternity.

“Alright.” The other boy sighed in defeat.

Pran felt an immense sense of relief when Pat turned on his heel to walk out.

He stopped briefly with his hand on the handle, his back facing Pran.

“I would really appreciate it if you were nicer to me though. At least when we’re alone.” He said softly with a hint of hurt in his voice and left.

Pran blinked and dropped down to the floor.

What the hell just happened?

 

*

 

That had to be the weirdest day in Pran’s life.

He went through his morning on autopilot, refusing to even contemplate the possibility that Pat, somehow, really appeared in his dream.

Must have been a coincidence.

Yes, definitely.

Nothing to worry about.

Yup.

He distanced himself from his friends’ usual shenanigans and focused on the lectures, or at least he tried to. During the lunch break, he couldn’t write even one line of his new song no matter how hard he tried, and that infuriated him.

Of course, stupid Pat couldn’t take a hint even when Pran was deliberately mean, and he kept texting him the whole day.

Pran read only the first five messages.

“I didn’t see you on the parking lot, are you skipping today?”
“Nvm I saw you with that asshole Wai”
“Are you going to the library after class?”
“Are you still in a shitty mood? Don’t ignore me”
“Praaaaaan”

He never replied.

He never wanted to see Pat again.

Lies.

He was full-on avoiding Pat, so after classes, he instinctively jumped in a bush to avoid Pat wandering in front of his faculty. Why was he even there? Wai could see him any moment now and start another pointless fight.

A branch poked him in the neck and he bit his lip hard, trying not to cry out in pain.

“Pat! What are you doing here? Are you here for me?”

Pran grit his teeth.

Of course.

Of course, Pat came to see Ink, not him. Why would he?

“I’m always here for you” came the joking reply and Pran wanted to scream.

“Or are you here for someone else possibly?”

He held his breath.

“You know me so well, why did you reject me?” they started walking away so Pran couldn’t hear Ink’s answer over the other architecture students’ chatter.

He moved to get out of the bush and yelped in pain.

That damned branch will surely leave a nasty bruise on his neck.

*

Pran was exhausted both physically and mentally.
He managed to avoid both Pat and his own nosy friends the whole day and he did his best trying not to think about anything that happened the night before. He ignored every text and every call.

His eyelids felt heavy, but Pran stubbornly refused to close them.
He didn’t want to sleep.

Midnight came and went.

tick-tock

Don’t fall asleep, don’t fall asleep, don’t-

*

 

Eerie blackness all around.
No sound, no colours, no shapes…
…and no Pat. Pran couldn’t decide whether that was a good or a bad thing.

Chapter Text

The next day was as strange as the previous one.

Only this time, Pran felt even more anxious.
And exhausted, very exhausted.

 

“You look like shit, dude.” Wai regarded him with poorly concealed worry. “Maybe you should skip this lecture and go back to the dorms to take a nap?” Louis and Safe nodded in agreement.

“No need, I can make it.” Pran waved his hand in dismissal. “I’ll take a nap later.”

Wai was about to protest when the professor came.

Pran sighed inwardly in relief.

*

“How are you today?”

“Have you eaten?”

“Oi Pran you asshole, you could answer for once”

“Are you even alive?”

“Pran?”

 

You have: 3 missed calls

 

*

 

Pran flopped face-first onto his bed with wet hair and an annoying rumble in his stomach, but for once he couldn’t be bothered to go through all his daily rituals.

He almost, almost managed to fall asleep, when somebody knocked on his door.

What now?

“Go away,” he moaned, but the person on the other side didn’t stop.

Pran got up with a resigned sigh.

He looked through the peephole and had to bite back a howl of frustration.

“What do you want, Pat?” he opened the door forcefully and it bounced back hitting his shoulder in the process.

He hissed and blinked back tears of pain.

“Shit, are you okay?” It seemed like a frown was Pat’s default expression lately.

He put his hand on Pran’s abused shoulder and Pran jumped back as if the touch had burned him.

Pat pressed his lips together in a thin line, clearly unhappy with his reaction, but Pran couldn’t deal with him in this state, so he just went back to lay in bed wordlessly, and pressed his face into a pillow.

He figured it would be best to just let Pat do whatever he wanted. This time.

He heard the door closing and then silence, save for the sound of flip-flops hitting the floor.

“You haven’t texted me for two days.” Put huffed from somewhere behind Pran.

“Go bother someone else” Pran whined again.

For a second there, he was sure Pat would sit on the bed next to him, but after a few painfully long moments, he heard the telltale rustling of a body settling down on his couch.

He let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding.

“Can I stay here for a while? Please?”

Pran didn’t know what to make of Pat’s tone of voice, but he was too afraid to look at him.

“Do whatever the hell you want,” he mumbled finally.Pran, you coward. “Just don’t touch my stuff.”

Pat sighed.

 

tick-tock

 

“Hey, can I read that manga here?”

Pran grunted in agreement. “Just be quiet, I’m tired.”

“Mhmm”

He could hear Pat taking out the book from the shelf next to the bed, and then sitting down again.

No words, just the rustling of paper.

It was, dare he say, almost peaceful for a while, but Pran found it suddenly impossible to fall asleep with Pat’s presence so close. His wildly beating heart wouldn’t let him.

Slowly, not wanting to make any noise, he turned on his side.

He let himself admire Pat’s profile, feeling calmer by the second…
…until Pat turned to stare at him as well and Pran really had to force himself to maintain eye contact.

Surprisingly, it was Pat who broke it first.

Pran blinked.

Was he… blushing?

Pat cleared his throat and stood up abruptly.

“Okay, I won’t bother you anymore today,” he said, gaze fixed on the top of Pran’s head. “I’ll return the book tomorrow.”

He turned on his heel and put on his shoes hastily, almost tripping, and now Pran was really confused.

“Wait, Pat-“ Pran sat up on the bed, but Pat’s already opened the door and stepped outside.

“Get some rest, you look like you need it,” was the only thing he said, face unreadable though red ears betrayed him, before he slammed the door shut.

What the hell was that?

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for Pran to fall asleep.

 

He opened his eyes slowly, afraid that he might be floating in darkness again, but… there it was.

The blue ocean, calming his nerves instantly.

The waves tickled his toes.

The breeze messed up his carefully styled hair.

The dark clouds were still on the horizon though, a constant threat.

 

Pran looked around the beach, his gaze following the line of palm trees.
No Pat in sight.

 

Strange.

 

Pran was a master of living in denial, but he wasn’t stupid. He quickly understood, that he somehow couldn’t stay on this beach without the other’s presence in his dream lately.

Whatever that meant.

Well, he wasn’t going to complain.

He turned back towards the ocean. The water was warm and inviting and it took him only a split second to decide to take off his shirt and go for a swim.

He kept walking, slowly immersing himself in the water.

 

It was surprisingly realistic, to feel the currents on his body, making him venture deeper and deeper.

The dark clouds were closer now.

He was up to his collarbones in water, when-

 

“Pran! Stop!” a panicked yell pierced the air and Pran startled, unable to move an inch.

A few seconds passed before Pat joined him and began to pull him back on land.

Pran let himself be manhandled.

 

“What the fuck, Pat?!” he sputtered when Pat tripped on a stone and they both fell on the sand.

Well, Pat did. Pran fell on top of him, bracing his hands on Pat’s chest, making him groan.

They were both breathing heavily, and Pran made the mistake of meeting Pat’s eyes.

He shuddered at the wild gaze that greeted him and he fell down next to Pat.

Pat sat up abruptly and grabbed Pran’s shoulders.

Fuck.

Nothing good ever came from Pat behaving like this. He was too unpredictable.

“Don’t you ever do that to me again” Pat pleaded, voice trembling.

Something heavy settled in Pran’s chest.

“Do… what exactly?”

Pat pouted and released his hold.
Pran sat up with a frown.

“What do you mean, Pat?” he asked when the other boy hid his face in his hands.

They sat in silence for a while.

The dark clouds were much closer now, Pran noticed.

Finally, Pat mumbled something unintelligible.

“What?” Pran rolled his eyes. Trust Pat to be dramatic as hell. “Say it to my face, asshole, so that I can hear you and-“

“Don’t drown, okay?” he exclaimed loudly, cutting off whatever scathing remark was on the tip of Pran’s tongue. “The last thing I saw before I woke up was you underwater and then-“ He lifted his head and the wild, unhappy look on his face made Pran swallow loudly. “-and then I couldn’t fall asleep properly yesterday, and I couldn’t make sure-“ he pressed his lips together into a thin line. “Just, don’t do that.”

 

This time it was Pran, who turned away.

 

“Yeah, alright.” He croaked, throat suddenly dry.

The drawn-out silence was so uncharacteristic, it made Pran feel even more uncomfortable.

When he couldn’t stand it any longer, he stood up and looked down at Pat, who refused to meet his gaze.

 

“Stand up, you big baby” he reluctantly held out his hand.

Pat was clearly confused, but still, he grabbed the offered hand and stood up with Pran’s help.

Pran felt strangely emboldened all of a sudden. “Swim with me.”

“What-“ Pat looked completely caught off guard.

“Nothing bad will happen if you don’t let go” Pran blushed a furious red, even before he finished that sentence. He had no idea where his words were coming from.

 

He thanked the heavens that it was only a dream.
Or whatever the hell that was.

 

“Now I’m sure this is a dream,” Pat laughed visibly delighted. “There’s no way real-life Pran would let me be so close,” his boyish smile made Pran feel things. Their interlocked fingers, too.

 

“Shut up, idiot.”

Chapter Text

Pran woke up… well. Maybe not happy per se, but feeling strangely content. He couldn’t quite grasp the reason behind his surprisingly good mood until he got in the shower.

He was shampooing his hair when a realization hit him like a freight train and he froze, eyes wide open in shock.

 

The fucking dream!

 

He stood there for what felt like an eternity, water raining down on him, remembering his own brazen words, and everything that happened right after he dragged Pat into the ocean.

 

Oh God, they held hands!

 

Pran lowered his head in disbelief.

They had been frolicking in the ocean, holding hands, like some pair of lovesick fools!
And he liked it, too!

“Fuck!” he swore in pain when a bit of shampoo foam got into his eyes.

 

Damn you, Pat!

 

He left the shower, heart still beating wildly.

 

He was so going to avoid Pat again.

 

*

 

He managed to leave the dorm without bumping into Pat, and he made it through his morning lectures without a hitch.

No texts, no missed calls.

He ate lunch with Wai and later, finally feeling calmer and knowing that Pat had another class after break, he went to the library to work on his latest project in peace.

 

He shouldn’t have let his guard down.

 

He didn’t even take out all his art supplies from his bag when seemingly out of nowhere, somebody sat down on the chair next to his.

Pran startled and looked up to meet Pat’s mischievous eyes.

 

“I knew you’d be here” Pat whispered looking pleased.

Pran didn’t know whether to pack his things or just leave everything and flee.

“Oh, don’t make that face” his internal conflict must have shown on his face because Pat pouted and grabbed Pran’s wrist. As if that would stop him.

“Go away,” Pran said with a hint of warning in his voice.

“Hey, I haven’t bothered you today yet!” the boy whined. “I’ve been good, so… let me sit with you?” he blinked a few times exaggeratedly, probably trying to look cute, “pretty please?”

Pran freed his hand from Pat’s grasp.

“Just be quiet,” Pran hated himself for being weak. “I need to finish this.”

Pat cheered quietly and Pran had to bite his cheek trying not to smile.

 

He busied himself with organizing his supplies, but he had in fact been watching Pat out of the corner of his eye for a few minutes before he finally focused on his actual work.

He planned and drew, ideas flooding his mind like a violent storm. He managed to finish the first draft before a soft voice brought him back to reality.

 

“Pran?”

 

He glanced at his watch - it's been almost two hours since he started.

 

“What?” he didn’t look up even when Pat rested his forehead on Pran's arm. “I’m hungry.” the boy whined quietly.

“Then go eat, I’m working.” Despite his seemingly cold attitude, Pran knew he was fighting a losing battle against Pat’s pouting lips.

 

So, so weak.

 

“Come with me?” finally, their eyes met.

 

Here comes the pout.

 

“Go away, you pest,” Pran said even as his mouth quivered in poorly concealed amusement, which of course didn’t go unnoticed.

 

It was truly embarrassing how easy he was.

 

“Please, please, please? I’ll leave you alone after.”

Pran didn’t believe him for a second, but he shoved Pat away and began packing his things anyway. “Promise?”

Pat’s smile could put even the Sun to shame.

 

“Anything you want.”

 

*

 

Pat did in fact, much to Pran’s surprise, keep his promise.

Chapter Text

Pran felt both excited and anxious when he found himself on the beach again the following night.

He hid behind the line of trees, hesitating.

He could see Pat laying on his back on the hot sand nearby.

 

“I know you’re here somewhere,” the wind carried Pat’s voice after a while. “Come out, come out. Wherever you are.”

Pran sighed.

There was no use in hiding anymore, was there?

 

He left his hiding spot and approached the other boy. He stopped just in front of Pat’s head and looked at his upside-down form.

Pat opened one eye to glance back at him and winced at the brightness. Pran bent down a bit to shelter him from the Sun without a second thought.

 

“You’re really here,” he stated happily.

“Were you scared of being alone?” Pran smirked.

Pat gave him a considering look. “No,” he raised his arm and grabbed Pran’s ankle as if to make sure he was real. “I just prefer to be with you,” he closed his eyes again, seemingly unconcerned with the stupidly shocked face Pran must have made at his words.

Pran let a few moments pass until he composed himself and straightened his back.

 

“I’m gonna go for a walk,” he announced, stepping back to free his leg from Pat’s loose grip.

“Can I go with you?” Pat immediately sat up.

Pran forgot to answer for a few heartbeats, distracted by a totally inappropriate thought about Pat on the ground in front of him, but in a slightly different context.

“Well?”

“Do whatever the hell you want,” Pran turned around abruptly and began walking in the opposite direction.

Pat’s delighted laugh was almost too much. It’s like he actually wanted to be-

Pran let out a startled shout when the other’s body collided with his unexpectedly and it only made Pat laugh even more, as he draped himself over Pran’s shoulders.

“Let go,” Pran wheezed, unable to move with Pat leaning his full weight on him.

“Alright, alright,” he finally conceded.

 

And so they walked in silence, shoulders brushing every few steps.
Pran felt calm and relaxed, as he only could in his dreams.

He raised his eyebrow and looked at Pat, who has grabbed his hand without saying a word. He was staring resolutely straight ahead with a small smile.

He decided not to comment on it.

 

“Let’s sit over there,” Pat pointed to a fallen tree with their joined hands and proceeded to drag Pran with him.

Pran rolled his eyes.

Pat maneuvered them so that they could sit comfortably leaning on the fallen tree trunk still holding hands.

Pran did his best not to react in any way. It was so…
They stared at the waves for a while.

 

“Do you hate me?” Pran blurted the question out suddenly. It’s been weighing on his mind for a long time.

Their eyes met and for the first time in forever, there was no trace of laughter on Pat’s face.

“I used to ask myself that, you know?” he answered, finally. “I used to ask myself if you ever did anything to make me hate you.” He paused, deep in thought.

Pran had frozen on the spot with anticipation and dread.

“Did I?” He wasn’t ready to hear the answer to that question, but to be honest, he never would be.

Pran breathed out a mirthless chuckle. “My life has been tougher with you in it,” he continued. “I always had to compare myself to you, whatever I did.”

Pran broke the eye contact and turned to face the ocean. Dark clouds appeared on the horizon.

“You must hate me a lot for that, don’t you?” He asked. He felt as if his insides were tied in a knot, twisting painfully.

“I should,” Pat sat up. “But then it occurred to me, we’re in the same boat, you and me. And I just couldn’t force myself to hate you.”

 

Pran exhaled loudly. That wasn’t the answer he was expecting.

“What about you?” Pat’s voice was low, barely a whisper, and he sounded almost scared.

Pran made a split-second decision to be truthful. “You were the reason I got transferred,” he stated simply. “I was so angry at you and at my mum,” he could hear the echo of that anger in his own voice now.

Pat looked crestfallen and it wasn’t Pran’s intention, but he couldn't say anything else. His throat was burning.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

The feeling of regret was heavy around them.

“It’s fine,” Pran gave him a timid smile. “It was just anger, not hatred.”

Pat chuckled; relief visible on his face.

 

The dark clouds disappeared, Pran noted.

 

“When we’re alone-“ Pat whispered hoarsely after a while, staring at Pran, face unreadable. “I feel whole. Like we’re supposed to be together.”

Pran stilled.

“But when there are other people around, everything feels like a matter of life and death.” the anguish in his voice broke Pran’s heart because all this time he felt exactly the same way.

“We can’t do anything about it,” he said finally. “We were just born this way.”

They smiled at each other, but the smiles were full of regret.

“I talked to Ink a few days ago, by the way,” Pran froze. “I- I don’t think I like her that way, after all.” Pat looked down, before he fixed his gaze on Pran again, a strange determination on his face.

Pran blinked.

“Then-” he paused, suddenly uncertain but hopeful. “How do you like her?” he dared to ask.

 

Pat chuckled, his face transforming into his usual delighted expression, “I think you already know the answer.”

 

Pran’s heart was beating wildly. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Wh- what do you mean?” his breath hitched, as Pat turned to fully face him with the intensity of the Sun.

 

“Pran”

 

Pran’s eyes widened the moment he understood what Pat was planning to do.

Slowly, Pat closed the distance between them and their lips touched at an awkward angle.

It lasted maybe a few seconds, but they felt like an eternity, before Pat pulled back, all smiles and starry-eyed. Pran couldn’t believe it. They had kissed!

Pat's eyes were so very dark.

 

And then... it was like Pran got electrocuted.

 

He grabbed Pat’s neck and closed the distance to kiss him properly this time. Pat let out a small whine and moved to kneel at Pran’s side not breaking the contact.

They licked and bit, fighting for the upper hand, as they used to do in real life. None of them were willing to surrender.

Pran breathed through his nose, not wanting to stop. He never wanted to stop.

But Pat surprised him again when he grabbed Pran’s shoulders and forced him to move away. But not to stop, no.

He rose on his knees and moved to settle on Pran’s lap.

Pran groaned embarrassingly loud feeling Pat’s weight pressing onto his groin.

They were so close, they practically breathed each other’s air.

“Okay?” Pat’s hoarse voice did things to Pran.

“Y-yea-“ he wouldn’t even let him finish.

They kissed ferociously.

Pran felt the sting of tears in his eyes, so he closed them quickly. He didn’t want Pat to see them.
It felt so right. Pat on his lap felt so fucking right like he belonged there all along.

When Pat moved to press wet kisses onto Pran’s cheeks and jaw, he almost sobbed, hands grabbing Pat’s hips.

Pat moaned and he could swear he saw stars. Nothing else in the whole damn universe mattered anymore.

Pat clenched his fists on Pran’s hair and turned his face up forcefully.

Pran whined. He could feel Pat sucking a mark under his adam’s apple, a place that couldn't be easily hidden from other people's eyes, and the thought alone turned him on so much that he gasped for air.

“We belong together,” Pat breathed harshly into his neck and licked the mark he’s just left there, making Pran tremble even more. “No matter what happens, no matter what other people say, we belong together. We’re fated to be together.”

 

Pran sobbed uncontrollably at his words.

 

“Yes,” he croaked, hands still holding Pat’s hips in an iron grip, that would surely leave bruises on his skin.

The thought was strangely appealing to him, and his hips grinded up involuntarily, making them both moan in unison.

Pat lifted his head up, and the hungry look on his face turned Pran so much more, that he didn’t know what to do with himself.

So, he did the only thing he could think of – he slid one of his hands up and under Pat’s ugly pineapple shirt. The skin-on-skin sensation made Pat bite his lip and roll his hips harder against Pran’s.

Pran’s vision narrowed down to Pat and Pat only, his only goal was to make Pat come.

He placed open-mouthed kisses in the hollow of Pat’s neck.

“Pran,” Pat whined, his thighs shaking around Pran, and-

 

He did that! He made Pat lose control!

 

Pran never wanted anything more than this.

He freed his hand from beneath Pat’s shirt, ignoring the other’s protest and he fumbled with the buttons instead.

He wanted- no, he needed to touch him more.

He moaned in frustration when the buttons wouldn’t give, but Pat slapped his hand away and began unbuttoning his shirt on his own with urgency.

Pran basked in the sight and as soon as the offending garment revealed the expanse of Pat’s skin, he licked Pat’s sternum, startling him for a change.

“Pran, I-“ incoherent Pat, unable to utter more than two words at a time had to be the most satisfying sight in the world. “Pran!” the urgency in his voice only spurred Pran on.

Yes,” he exhaled and latched his mouth onto one of Pat’s nipples.

He began to lose his own rhythm, chasing pleasure. He was so close-

Pat wailed loudly and then stilled, breathing harshly through his mouth, eyes closed.

But Pran hasn’t finished yet.

He almost lost it, as he slid his hands down and to the back to slip beneath the material of Pat’s pants. Thumbs pressed into the bare flesh of his ass, and Pat jerked forward, equal parts startled and delirious.

Pran knew he was probably pushing Pat to his limits and hesitated.

“Don’t stop,” came the breathless reply to his unspoken question. “I can take it.” Pat urged him to continue, and Pran just couldn’t think anymore.

He thrusted up once, twice and-

He almost blacked out when he came.

 

“-an? Are you alive?” It must have taken him a few long moments to come back to reality, because he suddenly registered Pat’s face pressed to the crook of his neck, mumbling nonsensical words and breathing him in deeply, arms clutching his shoulders tightly.

“Yeah,” he moved to lean on the tree trunk, exhausted, and they both moaned in oversensitivity when Pat slipped in the process and landed more firmly on Pran’s lap.
They laughed quietly.

 

There was still an uneasy feeling at the back of Pran’s head, one that he didn’t want to examine at the moment, and the uncomfortable stickiness in his pants that would normally prompt him to get up immediately to take a shower, but he felt content to stay in place and just… be. With Pat.

 

There were words he wanted to say. Words he knew they both needed to say, decisions to make, but-

 

They were things for the future Pran to deal with.

 

For now, they were together.

Chapter Text

Pran woke up in a daze and turned off his alarm clock.

Something wasn’t right. He tried to gather his thoughts, but he couldn’t for the life of him think of any reason for his uneasiness. He sat up and gasped noticing an uncomfortable sticky sensation in his shorts.

“Fuck!” he whisper-yelled looking down at himself in disbelief.

Memories flooded his brain and he blushed furiously, hiding his face in his hands.

 

He-! They-!

 

He couldn’t believe that he’d actually got off with Pat in his dream. And in an absolutely filthy and disgusting manner, too!

The mere memory of him groping Pat’s ass sent shivers down his spine and-

Nope! No, no, no, no!

A cold shower suddenly seemed like a great idea. Maybe it would wash off his shame as well.

 

Later, when he finally got dressed and even ate breakfast, all the time trying – unsuccessfully – to forget anything that had happened, another strange sensation gave him a pause.

He frowned.

Something else didn’t feel quite right.

Pran bit the inside of his cheek, fearing the upcoming realization.

Something told him to go back to the bathroom, so he went to stand in front of the mirror, not really knowing what he was looking for. Everything seemed normal-

 

Wait...

 

“Shit!” Pran stared disbelievingly at his own reflection, which sported a huge-ass red hickey just below his adam’s apple. He blushed furiously thinking of how it got there.

“Oh, fuck no!” he gasped for air, chest suddenly tight.

Because there it was – an unmistakable proof of what he already knew in the back of his head but willfully ignored. The proof that the beach and Pat weren’t only a figment of his imagination. They were somehow real.

Pat had really been there all those times.

He touched the glaring mark with a trembling hand, fingers pressing into it until it hurt.

Pat had really kissed him.

He had touched him.

He had left a fucking mark on his skin for everybody to see!

He really had said all those annoyingly hot things, had whispered some of them into Pran’s ear, and-

 

He was brought back to reality by aggressive knocking on the door.

 

He went back to the bedroom, heart beating wildly, and contemplating just jumping out of the window. He had an inkling of who might want to see him in the morning.

“Pran? Are you there?”

Of course. Of – fucking – course.

Pran laughed sort of hysterically to himself and went to get the door. There was simply no point in trying to avoid Pat anymore, but dear gods, Pran was so not ready for that confrontation.

 

He took a deep breath, his hand resting on the handle.

“Let’s get this over with,” he mumbled to himself and opened the door, revealing Pat with his arm raised, as if ready to knock again.

“Pran,” he looked both relieved and spooked as if he actually had to force himself to come to Pran’s room. “You’re awake.” He said redundantly and Pran had to bite down a snappy retort. Now was not the time.

They looked at each other, both clearly not sure of how to proceed.

Pran finally settled on letting out a gruff “What do you want?” and crossing his arms in feigned impatience.

Pat opened his mouth, but no sound came out.

It was so uncomfortable, Pran wanted to scream.

“I-“ Pat cleared his throat. “Can I come in?” he bit his lip. Pran wished he didn’t do that. It made him think of all those filthy things they had done on that beach.

“No, say what you want and go.”

 

Don’t say anything, please, don’t say anything, don’t-

 

To Pran’s utter disbelief, Pat’s ears turned pink, but he stayed silent.

Pran let out a noise of frustration and looked up at the ceiling, counting to ten in his head.

A sudden squeaking noise made him look at Pat again.

“Wait- what is that?” Pat’s eyes opened wide and Pran couldn’t understand why he was so shocked until he realized what exactly Pat was looking at. “Pran…”

Shit.

He completely forgot about that monstrous thing on his neck which was currently on display.

Pran didn’t bother to hide the mark. There was no point in doing that at this point anyway.
He fixed his eyes resolutely on Pat’s chest, not wanting to see his expression anymore.

The silence was unbearable.

“I knew it,” Pat whispered finally. “I fucking knew it!” his voice grew louder. He squinted at Pran, who still wouldn’t meet his eyes. “You knew,” it wasn’t a question. “And you never said anything,” the accusation and a sliver of hurt were loud and clear.

It made Pran flinch, but he didn’t know what to say to that. He felt a strong compulsion to just shut the door in Pat’s face and flee the country.

It took him a second to notice that Pat has started unbuttoning his shirt.

“W-what are you doing?” he panicked.

Pat said nothing.

He quickly grabbed Pat by the arm and pulled him inside before the idiot could undress in the hallway where anyone passing by could see him. The faint feeling of possessiveness was mildly concerning, but Pran didn’t want to focus on that now. “Are you mad?” he shrieked instead, taking a step back, while Pat shrugged his shirt off.

It fell down on the floor.

“Shit, I don’t know Pran, you tell me.”

Pat unbuttoned his jeans and pulled them lower, almost revealing too much for Pran’s weak heart.

“Look at me,” Pat pouted when Pran fixed his gaze on the wall behind him.

Pran swallowed audibly and clenched his fists.

Pat was… stunning really. He hadn’t had a chance of fully appreciating his body on the beach-

“Fuck!! Are those…?” Pran was taken aback by the sight that greeted him when he really looked at Pat’s chest closely.

“Yeah.”

 

There was a hickey around one of Pat’s nipples and a few slightly yellowish-green bruises on his hips.

Pran knew that they would match the shape of his fingers.

He reached out unconsciously and grazed them with his fingertips, marveling at their colour, feeling strangely content with the fact that he had left his mark on Pat’s body.

As if possessed, he pressed his hand fully to Pat’s skin and squeezed.

Pat gasped and it broke whatever spell he was under.

Pran panicked, and without looking Pat in the eye, he pushed him back.

 

“Get out!”

Pat must have been baffled enough to let himself be manhandled roughly before Pran pushed him out into the hallway. “Pran, I-“

“Out!”

Pran shut the door with a loud bang and turned the lock hastily.

 

Pat didn’t try to knock on his door again.

Chapter Text

Pran was restless. He kept pacing around the room, unable to study.
Luckily, he didn’t have any classes that day, otherwise, he would have to skip them. There was simply no way he would be able to focus on anything.

 

Pat’s face was invading his mind.

 

The face he made just before they kissed.

His face when he straddled Pran’s thighs.

His blissed-out expression when he came…

…and the look of confusion and betrayal when Pran threw him out of the room.

 

Pran wanted to beat his own head against the wall. He didn’t want Pat to be miserable because of him. He never, ever, wanted that. He adored Pat’s delighted smile, the fondness in his eyes.

 

Pran swallowed loudly, feeling his throat tighten.

 

But that’s exactly why they had to stop, whatever it was. It didn’t really matter whether or not Pat liked him back; it didn’t even matter if it was just fun times for him or an experimental phase. Pran had to protect the other boy from an inevitable disaster.

 

Pat, Pat, Pat.

 

He would just never be at peace, would he? Pat refused to leave his thoughts, no matter what he did.
Even when they were apart and Pran came to terms with the universe being against him, Pat was still there in the back of his head, waiting for those little moments when something reminded Pran of him.

 

Pran watched the arms of the clock move slowly.

It was ridiculous.

Everything was ridiculous.

 

But there was a bittersweet taste of relief on Pran’s tongue. Pat may be confused and hurt now, but he would move on soon enough and leave Pran alone to suffer in silence as he did before. He just had to avoid him and never allow any confrontation to happen. Not at the dorms, not at the university… and not in their dreams.

 

That was another problem. The dreams.

 

A plan formed slowly in his head. A weak one, but he could improvise if need be. He could do it.

 

He had to.

 

*

 

Midnight came and went and Pran’s head felt heavier and heavier on his neck.
He was exhausted, both physically and emotionally, but Pran fought the urge to close his eyes.

Pat was probably sleeping, so he couldn’t.

He dozed off at dawn, but his alarm clock jolted him awake soon after.

 

He turned off the alarm and resigned himself to another day of avoiding Pat.

 

*

 

“You look like shit,” Safe frowned when Pran sat down between him and Wai in the lecture hall.

“All-nighter,” he explained gruffly and waved his hand dismissively, cutting off whatever else he might have wanted to say. Pran was not in the mood for conversation.

“All-nighter, huh?” Wai raised his eyebrow after a few moments of silence. “It sure looks like you were busy all night.”

“Whoa Pran, since when did you have a girlfriend and why don’t we know about her?” Louis leaned on Safe to get a better look at Pran’s neck.

“Fuck off!” Pran smacked his face, a bit panicked when he made a move to poke him in the neck.

“How rude!”

“Oi, you’re heavy you asshole, stop crushing me,” Safe pushed Louis away and they seemed to quickly forget all about Pran’s hickey, too busy bickering and pinching each other.

Pran was relieved for a few seconds before he noticed Wai staring at him with a frown.

He turned to stare resolutely at the projector, tense all over.

“All-nighter,” he heard Wai mutter again. “Right.”

 

Shit.

 

Pran clenched his fists when he heard familiar voices from the Engineering side of the classroom.
He completely forgot about that little detail.

He should have skipped.

 

Luckily, the professor started the lecture at that exact moment and that meant no more interrogation.

But then again, he was being glared at from both sides, if the unsettling feeling was anything to go by, and it was making him incredibly anxious.

 

He barely took any notes.

 

*

 

The rest of the day went by in a similar fashion.

Thankfully, they didn’t have any more classes together with Engineering. He weaseled out of leaving the campus for lunch with his friends and stayed at the Architecture faculty under the pretense of working on a project.

Nobody had to know that he actually took a nap in the lab room.

 

*

 

It turns out somebody must have caught him napping after all because there was a fried chicken takeaway box on the table next to his head, that definitely wasn’t there before.

Pran blinked the sleep away and took a closer look at the box.

There wasn’t any note. Strange.

 

Oh well, he was hungry.

 

*

 

Whether he wanted to or not, he actually had to visit the library that afternoon.

He felt like a fucking spy lurking around campus on his way there.

 

No Pat in sight.

 

But he knew it was too early to completely relax. He remembered very clearly what happened the last time he was in the library.

He felt on edge the entire time while he sorted his supplies on the table top.

 

Still, nothing happened.

 

Finally, he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. It seemed he might have a few peaceful moments after all.

He felt almost entirely at ease when he stood up at some point to look for a reference book at the back of the library…
…until he came back to his table.

 

“What the hell,” he muttered anxiously under his breath. There was a bottle of water next to his pencils.

The feeling of uneasiness came back tenfold.

He looked around but didn’t notice anything suspicious, so he sat back down carefully and stared at the offending object.
There was just no way it was a mere coincidence.

 

“Fucking hell, Pat,” he raked his hand through his hair, exasperated. “You don’t know when to give up, do you?”

 

It seemed like he wouldn’t be able to get any work done after all.

 

Shit.

 

*

 

Pran was terribly exhausted.

 

He fought, with every ounce of his being, trying not to close his eyes for even a moment. It was a losing battle, he knew. He was beginning to see how flawed his original plan was. The throbbing in his head was bordering on unbearable.

He tried to think about literally anything other than Pat’s smiling face.
He wanted to cry.

 

*

 

When he finally succumbed to the darkness… there was no beach and no Pat.

 

Why did that make him even more unhappy?

(:(

Chapter Text

Pat woke up with a start and felt a bit disoriented. He sat there on his bed and tried to recall what had happened in his dream. He thought-

 

The dream!

 

He gasped, and (he would never ever admit to it!) squealed, feeling a surge of giddiness and arousal.

Speaking of arousal…

Pat looked down and winced. It’s been a while since he woke up with messy shorts. But it was all Pran’s fault!

“Pran!” he exclaimed loudly and almost fell face-first on the floor with how fast he jumped out of the bed.

He had to see Pran immediately!

Pat had his hand on the door handle, ready to leave the room when a sudden thought gave him a pause.

 

Pran.

 

Sweet, dimpled Pran was probably freaking out in his room at the moment and Pat’s appearance in all his debauched glory would probably give him a heart attack.

Pat sighed and backed away from the door.

“Guess I gotta shower first...”

 

Pran would be more inclined to talk if Pat was clean, wouldn’t he?

 

*

 

Pat’s knees buckled when he stripped and saw himself in the mirror.
A cold shower was definitely needed.

 

*

 

Shower? Check. Clean clothes? Check. Body spray? Check. Pat was as ready as could be, but still, he hesitated.

All his bravado had evaporated into thin air, leaving an inkling of a doubt at the back of his head.

What if Pran didn't want to talk? What if he didn't even open the door and left him hanging?

Pat winced.

He was scared shitless, that much he could admit in the privacy of his own mind.

He had finally understood his own feelings towards the other boy and was eager to act on them as soon as possible.

He knew now why he would always look for Pran in a room full of people. Why he would always find even the most idiotic excuse to text him. Why he would always think of sharing a funny meme or a joke with Pran. Why he wanted to make Pran smile and laugh. Why he would always look out for him and try to help him, even if only from afar.

 

He liked Pran.

 

He wanted to share everything with him and to let everybody know about his feelings.

He wanted to claim him as his… boyfriend? Lover?

He just wanted Pran in his life, always.

 

But… did Pran want him in return?

 

If Pran rejected him… then what was he supposed to do?

Go back to being quasi-friends with the other boy?

Shit, it would kill him.

 

Pat bit his lip, his heart beating wildly in his chest.

 

He had to confront Pran or he would go mad.

And… well. No better time than the present.

 

*

 

Pat has been standing in front of Pran’s door for a while now.

 

What the hell was he doing? He didn’t even know what to say.

Should he just go ‘Hi Pran, so we got off together in our dreams, anyway, do you want to be my boyfriend?’ Pran would probably break his nose with his door if he did that.

Pat steeled himself and knocked once.

Silence.

“Shit,” he murmured and knocked again, a bit louder. It was too late to stop now.

Still nothing.

He exhaled loudly and knocked again a few times in quick succession.

“Pran? Are you there?” he could only hope that the tremor in his voice couldn’t be heard from the other side.

Still no answer.

Pat was really beginning to regret his decision to confront Pran.

 

He had just raised his arm again to knock when the door opened, revealing Pran’s annoyed face, and it left him both relieved and utterly petrified.

 

“Pran,” there were butterflies in his stomach! “You’re awake,” he muttered dumbly and winced, ready for Pat’s retort, but none came. It threw him off even more.

“What do you want?” Pran crossed his arms with visible impatience.

Pat opened his mouth, but he didn’t really know what to say. His mind went blank. Pran’s cold exterior didn’t help. It was all wrong. Could it be that his doubts weren’t completely unfounded?

“I-“ Pat cleared his throat. “Can I come in?” he bit his lip. He hoped the uncomfortable, nervous energy would die down if they both sat down.

Pran made a face. “No, say what you want and go.”

 

Shit, way to put even more pressure on him.

 

His heart was beating wildly in his chest, and he fought to keep his breath steady. It just wouldn’t do to have a fucking panic attack on Pran’s doorstep.

Pran looked up at the ceiling, clearly frustrated and-

Pat’s jaw dropped.

“Wait- what is that?” He couldn’t believe his own eyes. “Pran…”

 

Pran’s horrified face told him everything. It wasn’t a dream. Well, technically it was, but it was also very real. Which meant, it had been real from the very beginning, and Pran-

The silence was unbearable.

“I knew it,” Pat whispered finally. “I fucking knew it!” he didn’t mean to raise his voice, but the sheer ridiculousness of the situation made him grit his teeth. He squinted at Pran, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. “You knew,” he hissed, feeling more than a little hurt. “And you never said anything.”

And wasn’t that telling? He suddenly realized that maybe Pran went with the flow but didn’t really want to pursue anything with him for real. The thought alone was excruciating.

 

Pran still refused to say anything. He didn’t even meet Pat's eyes; he just looked as if he wanted to slam the door in Pat’s face and flee.

He had to do something before that happened.

He had to try and make Pran understand.

And he himself wanted to understand Pran’s thoughts.

Otherwise, he’d probably go mad.

 

He clenched his jaw and made a split-second decision. He started unbuttoning his shirt with grim determination. Fuck, he should have just put on a t-shirt instead.

“W-what are you doing?” Pran’s panicked voice cut through his internal monologue, but Pat didn’t stop. He had to show him.

He startled when Pran grabbed his arm and pulled him inside roughly, before slamming the door shut.

“Are you mad?” Pran shrieked in outrage.

Pat shrugged the shirt off and it landed on the floor.

“Shit, I don’t know Pran, you tell me.” He let out a humourless chuckle. Why can’t you even look at me?

Pran was red in the face, but Pat couldn’t care less as he unbuttoned his jeans and pulled them down a bit, to reveal the bruised skin on his hips.

“Look at me,” he snapped with a pout and observed as Pran finally conceded and turned to really look at him, clearly embarrassed. Well, he wasn’t the only one.

It took a few seconds, and Pat saw the moment of realization on the other man’s face.

 

“Fuck!! Are those…?” Pran leaned forward to take a closer look at Pat’s chest, which trembled involuntarily under his scrutiny - he was starting to get turned on by the proximity.

“Yeah,” he managed to choke out, as Pran focused on the colourful bruises on his hips. Having Pran ogle him with that barely contained, twisted curiosity… and was that pride in his twinkling eyes? was intoxicating.

Pat held his breath as Pran reached out to press his fingers to the bruises. They fit perfectly.

Pat’s knees almost turned into jelly when Pran pressed more firmly, making him hiss quietly from the sting.

But it was only after Pran squeezed his hips harshly that he gasped and whimpered. It was like a switch being turned on.

 

He wanted Pran to touch him more. He-

 

He got caught off guard when Pran pushed him with such force that he stumbled back.

“Get out!” the panic in Pran’s voice made him almost physically ill. He was in shock, when the other opened the door hastily and pushed him out.

“Out!”

Pran shut the door with a loud bang, almost hitting him in the face.

Pat could hear the sound of the lock turning.

 

He stood there stunned, his nose almost touching the wood. What the fuck just happened?

 

After a few long moments, he recovered from the shock, and an all-encompassing feeling of regret and bitterness kicked in.
He contemplated knocking and demanding to talk with Pran again, but what was the use?

Although they’ve been apart for so long, he knew Pran. He could bet everything he had, that Pran would avoid him with a vengeance from then on.

 

Pat sighed mournfully, forehead leaning briefly on Pran’s door.

There was nothing he wouldn’t give for them to just… be two normal guys flirting with each other. No family drama hanging over their heads like an execution sword.

He wished he could be someone who would be able to support Pran in everything, good and bad. He wished he was everything Pran needed.

 

He backed away slowly into his own room, gaze fixed longingly on the other boy’s door.

 

For the second time in his life, Pat felt truly alone.

 

):)

Chapter Text

.

Pat lost track of time.

He’s been sitting on his unmade bed, staring at the wall. There were knots twisting unpleasantly in his stomach ever since he came back.

He didn’t know what to do.

He would try to bother Pran some more, had it been any other day, going back and back again, trying to find an opening. Trying to get Pran to talk to him again.

But this was different. He realized that his usual tactics wouldn’t work this time.

 

He caressed the red mark on his chest unconsciously.

 

Pran wanted him, he had no doubts about that. But was it enough? Pat couldn’t be sure.

Not after what happened just that morning.
Not without them talking about it, at least.
Not without Pran admitting that everything that had happened in their dreams was real.

 

Pat sighed, feeling the weight of the universe heavy on his shoulders.

 

It was already past lunchtime when he snapped out of it and got up to search for food.
He had to think of a plan, and his brain always worked better on a full stomach.

 

He didn’t even glance at Pran’s door as he stepped out into the hallway.

He wasn’t ready.

Not yet.

 

*

 

To his disappointment, the food didn’t help much.

 

*

 

Pat may have been the best student in his year, but even he needed to study to maintain his number one position.

After the unsatisfying lunch, he immersed himself in books and plans and calculations and he forgot, at least until evening, all about Pran.

 

But then every thought and every doubt came back with a vengeance.

 

There was an uncomfortable emptiness in his soul, and Pat felt an acute need to see Pran, knowing somehow that it would make the pain go away.

He stayed in his room though.

He tried exercising, reading ahead for his classes, and texting Ink (who must have sensed his foul mood and actually replied to his nonsensical messages with memes that made him laugh out loud), but the disconcerting feeling never left him.

 

Pat was utterly exhausted.

 

He wondered if Pran felt the same.

 

*

 

Pat eyed the bed and had a startling epiphany.

The dream! Of course, why didn’t he think of that before? He wanted to smack himself in the face for being stupid.

Pran may not want to let Pat inside his room, but he wouldn’t have much of a choice on their beach, would he? Pat could ambush him there and demand answers and Pran would relent sooner or later.

Hopefully sooner.

 

He let out a shaky breath of relief and got ready for bed.

At least he had a plan now.

He knew what he had to do.

 

*

 

Pat woke up confused and hurt.

 

His dreams that night were just some random impressions and colours and… dinosaurs, for some reason.

No beach.

No Pran.

 

Just disappointment and an aching heart.

 

*

 

“You look like shit,” was the first thing that came out of Korn’s mouth when Pat joined his group of friends, waiting for him in front of the lecture hall.

“Hello to you too, Korn,” Pat grumbled with an exaggerated eye roll. Trust Korn to point out the obvious.

“What the hell’s wrong with you, Korn? Are you even his friend?” Chang smacked his head a couple times with a disgusted expression.

“Ow! What the hell, bro?” Korn cried in mock-offense, trying to shield himself from the attack.

“Yeah Korn, that’s no way to talk to a friend!” Pat laughed as Mo joined in and punched Korn’s arm.

“You both just said the same thing a minute ago!” Korn’s face was a picture of cartoonish betrayal. “Pat! Help me out, man!”

 

Pat let them continue with the theatrics for a few moments, watching Chang and Mo wrestle with Korn with a grin on his face. He guessed the whole thing was solely for his benefit. “Okay, yeah, I look like shit, I know,” he interrupted their bickering when he noticed they were starting to gather a lot of attention in the hallway. “Can we get inside now?”

 

He was too anxious to see Pran to fully appreciate his friends’ efforts anyway.

He was going to be there, wasn’t he? Pran never skipped classes, after all.

But then again, if he was dead set on avoiding Pat… Nope! Don’t even think about it!

 

He followed his friends inside and scanned the red side of the auditorium.

 

There he was, sitting among his friends.

Relief flooded Pat like a tsunami wave.

 

He traded his seat with Korn to have a better view of Pran, who looked distinctly uncomfortable and slightly annoyed at something his friend had said. He wondered what they were talking about.

 

He stared at Pran’s face hoping he would turn and meet his eyes.

 

“Hey Mo, Pat, have you heard about this new movie?” Korn really couldn’t lower his voice, could he? Pat ignored him though because at that exact moment he saw Pran freeze in his seat.

 

Come on Pran, turn around.

Just one look.

Please.

 

“Alright class, let’s begin! Open your books on page eighty.” His friends whined quietly, having their conversation cut short by the professor.

 

Pran didn’t look his way once, although Pat could tell he wasn’t paying that much attention to the lecture.

Pat lowered his head in defeat.

 

He barely took any notes.

 

*

 

They didn’t have any more classes with Architecture on that day, but Pat refused to just stay away from Pran. There was a strange itchy sensation in his brain and he simply needed to do something. Anything.

 

Pat weaseled out of leaving the campus for lunch with his friends under the guise of having to consult one of their professors about his latest project and followed Pran stealthily.

He almost lost him twice in the sea of red when he had to duck into one of the smaller hallways to avoid Pran’s classmates.

But luck was on his side – he observed as the other man entered one of the many lab rooms in a secluded corridor.

 

Pat bit his lip trying to figure out what his next step should be.

Should he just leave? Or…

There was nobody in the vicinity, but he still felt nervous as hell as he risked a glance inside through the window.

He saw Pran settling down on a bench, resting his head on his arms crossed on the tabletop.

 

Pat smiled to himself seeing that. It couldn’t have been comfortable at all. They had very similar benches in Engineering and they were a nightmare to sit on for too long.

 

He took a few careful steps back, turned on his heel, and went back to the main hallway.

 

A brilliant idea popped into his head.

 

*

 

Pat entered the lab room quietly after making sure Pran was still in there napping.

 

He crept to the table Pran was sleeping on.

He looked terrible, dark circles under his eyes and skin paler than usual as if he didn’t sleep a wink the previous night.

 

Pat frowned and then it clicked.

 

He wanted to bash his head on the nearest surface at the startling realization – of course Pran would do absolutely everything just to stay away from Pat!

Even if it meant depriving himself of much needed sleep.

He pouted, feeling more miserable than before.

Pran would sooner die of exhaustion than give up, he was too stubborn. Pat knew that.

 

He put the chicken takeaway box on the table next to the other’s head and managed to retreat into the corridor without making a noise.

 

*

 

Pat willed himself to attend all of his afternoon lectures, yet he couldn’t focus on anything the professors talked about.

His thoughts were in disarray; he kept pondering what to do next without success.

Because really, what could he do?

He was so deep inside his own head, that when he found himself lurking around the library doors, he was dumbfounded.

 

And then, just as he decided to leave for his dorm, Pran entered the room looking around suspiciously.

Pat ducked behind the nearest bookcase, heart beating wildly in his chest.

Fuck, being discovered in the library certainly wasn’t a part of his master plan.

 

He waited with bated breath for Pran to settle by one of the tables.

 

When he finally did, another issue arose. How the hell was Pat supposed to leave now?

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath. He would have to pass directly in Pran’s line of sight to reach the exit.

 

He slid down on the floor and pushed a few books aside to have a clearer view of Pran’s table from his position.

Pat had no choice – he had to wait until Pran has left, and who knows how long that would take.

At least he could stare at Pran’s half-profile to his heart’s content. That was always a plus, even when he looked dead tired.

 

He didn’t know how much time had passed when Pran stood up abruptly and disappeared behind a bookcase on the other side of the room.

 

Pat scrambled to his feet, ready to flee.

He was halfway to the exit when a thought gave him a pause. He looked back anxiously and made a split-second decision.

 

He took out his bottle of water from his bag and jogged quietly to Pran’s table to leave it there.

Pran was very handsome and popular, so there was no way his fans never left him any drinks or snacks, right? There was no way he could guess it was Pat’s doing. It was simply impossible.

 

He left the library in a hurry.

 

*

 

Pat laid on his duvet-covered bed feeling drained with the day’s events.

There was a painful throbbing in his head, bordering on unbearable and he just wanted to sleep.

 

But no.

 

He was worried about Pran and decided not to fall asleep as well.

 

He hoped Pran would give up and take better care of himself, so maybe if he realized soon that he could actually doze off without dreaming about the beach, he would do that.

 

Pat didn’t care as much about his own well-being. Pran was way more important.

Besides, he didn’t have any early morning classes, so… he could do it for him.

 

It was the least he could do at the time.

 

*

 

The next morning, Pat stared at himself in the mirror in despair.

The marks on his skin were fading, as well as his hope. The feeling of unease was getting stronger and stronger.

 

He felt as if he had lost something… or someone.

.

Chapter Text

Pran was feeling both better and worse as he got ready to face another day at university.
Better, because he actually slept through most of the night.
Worse, because he didn’t dream about the beach. About Pat. And wasn’t that a depressing thought?

 

Ironic, but he couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of unease.

 

It only increased tenfold when he looked at his reflection in the mirror and noticed that the mark on his neck had almost completely faded. He could barely make out its shape anymore. His only tangible proof of what had happened and of Pat’s feelings for him was disappearing.

Pran was miserable. What if-

He looked away with a heavy heart. There was no use thinking about what ifs.

***

“Hey Pran…”

Pran looked up from his notebook and was greeted by Wai’s frowning face on the other side of the table he was currently occupying in their faculty’s self-study room.
He didn’t even notice him coming over.

“What’s up?” he could barely repress a sigh. He wasn’t in the mood for talking to anyone.

Wai stared at him for a moment, frown unrelenting. “You look better today.”

Pran blinked, taken aback.

“…Thanks?”

Wai leaned back on his chair. It looked like he had something else to say and it made Pran nervous. His best friend could occasionally be too observant for his own good. Or Pran’s.

“That was weird,” Pran joked, trying to nip any potential interrogation in the bud. “Are you okay, buddy?” he wondered if the other could tell that his laugh was half forced, half panicked.

“You know what else is weird?” Wai continued, ignoring his half-assed jab, and Pran had to force himself to stay in place. “The fact that yesterday, a certain Engineering asshole was seen loitering around our faculty.”

 

Shit. Pran tensed.

 

“And? It’s not like we don’t share a class in this building,” he valiantly tried to raise one eyebrow in, what he hoped, was a picture of nonchalance.

Shit, shit, shit!
Pran really hoped his face didn’t betray his growing anxiety.

 

Wai didn’t say anything else and that put Pran even more on edge. He feared he might snap his pencil in half, so strong was his grip on it.

“That’s it?” he pretended to focus on his work again, heart beating wildly in his chest. “Wai, my dude, I really don’t have the time for pointless gossip. I’ve got actual coursework to do.”

A few beats of silence punctuated with a sigh. “Right…” Wai didn’t sound too convinced but miraculously dropped the subject. “Have you finished that sketch for tomorrow yet, Mister No Fun?”

 

Pran felt so relieved, he could cry.

 

He jumped right into showing said sketch to his friend, explaining his design in detail, completely unprompted.

Wai seemed interested enough, though he kept giving him strange looks until they left the study room for their last class of the day.

 

…shit.

***

Pran was beginning to feel paranoid.

 

Whenever he saw somebody donning a blue shirt, he did a double-take to make sure it wasn’t Pat.

Wai’s words only confirmed his suspicions about the mysterious source of food and water the previous day.

 

What the fuck are you doing, Pat? He screamed in his head, but the question remained unanswered.

The day couldn’t end soon enough.

 

“Pran!” he was so deep in thought on his way out, that he almost didn’t hear the familiar voice calling his name.

“Pran, wait-!”

He turned around and came face to face with a smiling Ink.

 

“Wow, I can’t believe you had the audacity to make me chase after you,” she teased, slightly out of breath.

“Hi Ink, sorry. I couldn’t hear you,” he scratched at his neck, a bit embarrassed.

“That’s okay. You’re the only man on the Earth I’d run after anyway,” she put her arm around his shoulders with ease and steered him towards a sitting area right between their respective faculties.

He kept forgetting how tall she was.

 

“What can I do for you?” Pran asked not hiding his confusion.

They were friends, yes, but they rarely sought each other out without a reason.
Well, Pran might have been the one to blame. He’d been kind of ignoring her ever since he thought that Pat was pursuing her again. But Pat himself told him he didn’t like her like that anymore, so…

 

“Ah, you’re lost in your head again,” she squeezed his shoulder. “Am I that boring? I can leave you alone if you’d prefer that, you know?”

“No!” Pran flailed his arms, feeling more guilty by the second. “Shit, sorry. I just have a lot on my mind right now, with school and… stuff,” he was rambling. “…yeah. I’m sorry, Ink.”

Ink just gave him a knowing smile, probably realizing he was apologizing for more than just that particular moment.

 

She dragged him down to sit with her in a secluded corner of the sitting area, hidden by bushes and trees from the main path, so they were shielded from the gazes of potential onlookers leaving the university grounds.

That made Pran a bit nervous for some reason. “How have you been?”

Ink gave him a considering look. “That’s what I wanted to ask you actually,” she leaned back on her elbow. “There’s been complete radio silence from you recently. I got a bit worried.”

“Nothing’s happening. I’m just very busy with coursework,” he couldn’t meet her eyes.

 

Ink fell silent.

Pran waited with bated breath.

 

“I’ll believe you. You know you can talk to me anytime though, right?” she squeezed his arm reassuringly.

“Thanks, Ink,” Pran gave her a weak smile.

“Let’s hug,” she beamed, wrapped her arms around him and hummed, squeezing him tightly.

 

She gave nice hugs.

 

Ink truly was a godsend. Pran promised to try to be a better friend for her from then on.

“Okay, I have a date soon, so I gotta dash. Don’t be a stranger, yeah?” she took a few steps backwards.

 

Date? It couldn’t be him,could it?

 

“Who’s the lucky guy?” he blurted out unwillingly, but Ink only laughed. She shook her head and scurried away, waving at him.

 

Pran watched her leave.

***

Sneaking around his own dorm to avoid crossing paths with Pat was exhausting.

Pran briefly considered apartment hunting, but quickly discarded the idea. He couldn’t explain it, but it didn’t quite feel right.
It seemed he would have to suffer through the whole ordeal of staying in his current place.

 

Pran flopped down on a chair and moved to take out his supplies from his bag when a piece of paper fell down to the floor.

Pran frowned at the simple blue post-it note, now laying face down next to his foot.

 

Strange.

 

Pran never used those. Well, not blue ones at least.

He picked it up and read the words scribbled in terrible handwriting, that was obviously not his.

 

What-

 

Pran dropped it as if it burned him.

“Fucking hell,” he cursed as his heart squeezed painfully in his chest.

He would recognize the atrocious handwriting everywhere… it was Pat’s.

But how did the note end up in his bag? Was he so out of it today, that he didn’t even notice the other man slipping it inside? Or did-

 

He inhaled through his mouth sharply.

 

Ink.

There was no other option. No wonder she gave him so many hugs.

 

Did Pat ask her to do this? Did he tell her everything? What did she know? Shit, he hoped the answer was ‘nothing’. Pran would never ever be able to look her in the eyes again, if she knew exactly what happened between them.

 

He glowered at the offending piece of paper.

 

Pran,
I’ll be on the rooftop at 11 pm today.
Please, let me talk to you.

 

Pran felt the urge to rip his hair off his head. The irrational anger made him clench his teeth so hard it hurt.

 

Didn’t Pat get anything?
Didn’t he know when to give up?
Did Pran really have to spell it out for him to understand?

 

He glanced at the clock.

6 p.m.

 

He didn’t want to go.
He didn’t want to see Pat.
He didn’t want to talk to him.
He couldn’t…

 

He feared he was too weak to face Pat so soon.

Pran pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling the beginnings of a vicious headache.

He hid the note in one of his notebooks and went to lock the door.

 

Pat could wait for all eternity if he wanted, that fool.

Pran wasn’t going to show up.

That would make Pat understand, wouldn’t it?

***

He was so, so weak.

 

Pran stood in front of the exit to the rooftop, full of doubt even with one hand already resting on the long handle, ready to push the door open.

 

In the end, he couldn’t really ignore Pat. The note stayed at the forefront of his mind for hours and he watched the arms of the clock anxiously every few minutes, unable to do pretty much anything else. The awful migraine didn’t help either.

He couldn’t even eat in peace; his stomach was too unsettled with nerves.

He couldn’t play any music to calm himself, too caught up with trying to make out the sound of Pat’s door being opened.
He didn’t hear any sounds from across the corridor, and it drove him mad.

He had decided not to go, yet his treacherous body still jolted upright when the clock struck 11 p.m.

His mind grew foggy, and before he knew it, there he was.

Pat was probably already there, waiting. For him.

 

Fuck.

 

What was Pran supposed to say?

He didn’t want to hurt him. Not for real.

He loved Pat, for crying out loud! He never wanted to hurt him, not in a million years, but…

…but what other choice did he have?

 

Pran took a deep breath.

 

Now, or never.

 

Pran winced at the creaking of the door. So much for giving himself a few more seconds to steel his nerves.

 

His eyes immediately found the lone figure standing on the other end of the rooftop, with his back to Pran, arms resting on the railing.

 

Pat must have heard him enter but still chose not to face him immediately, and Pran was thankful.

He swallowed with quiet resolve. He could do this.

He had to.

 

Three…

 

two…

 

one.

 

“Pat, you idiot,” he almost winced at his own harsh tone of voice, entirely too loud for the late hour in a building full of people. “When will you learn to read the situation, huh?”

Pran walked over to the railing and paused mid-step when Pat turned around to face him.

He wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted him.

 

Red-rimmed eyes, dark circles underneath them, and a frown on his face.
Pat looked… terrible. Drained.

 

Pran exhaled through his nose, struggling to keep the façade.

 

“We’re talking now?” Pat let out a tiny humourless chuckle, and it sounded wrong. So, so very wrong to Pran’s ears.

He couldn’t find his voice for a second there. “You just had to involve other people, didn’t you?”

“Well, you’re here, so I’d say it worked.” Pat put his hands in his pockets and peered at Pran’s neck.

Pran instinctively knew that the other was looking for the mark he had left there with his lips. He also knew, seeing as Pat’s face crumpled, that he didn’t find it. It was gone. The evidence of their affection was gone.

 

He watched as Pat took a calming breath and straightened his posture.

“Talk to me, Pran,” he pleaded. “Tell me what’s running through your mind.”

 

Shit.

 

Pran broke eye contact for a few heartbeats. This was quickly proving to be more difficult than he had anticipated.

 

He saw Pat move closer out of the corner of his eye.

 

“What game are you playing, Pran?” Pran hated how Pat’s voice wavered a little while saying his name. “You’re making me feel miserable here.”

“You’re not the only one feeling miserable,” It was both upsetting and a relief, how Pran managed to play his part.

Pat made a frustrated noise. “How can I understand what’s going through your head if you don’t tell me?”

“You don’t need to understand. And I don’t want you to.”

“But I want to. Pran, I’m begging you-“ Pat swallowed. “I’m begging you, help me understand.”

 

Pran hated himself for being the reason why Pat’s eyes weighed heavy with unshed tears.

 

“You know I’m an idiot. I’m not as good at understanding these things as you are,” Pat took another small step closer to Pran. “Fucking hell, Pran, I only just realized that I love you not too long ago.”

 

What?

 

Pran stopped breathing, feeling the dread filling his heart like poison. Love-?

 

“Shit, I didn’t want to tell you like this,” Pat bit his lip, clearly startled by his own confession, but he kept his eyes on Pran’s with a hopeful expression.

 

No way, he must have misheard. There was no way in hell that was true.

He recoiled in horror, eyes widening in alarm.

 

Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

 

This wasn’t supposed to happen!

 

He-! Pat-!

 

Pat wasn’t supposed to fall in love with him!

 

“You don’t love me, Pat,” he spat out suddenly with a note of hysteria colouring his voice, startling Pat. His heart was hammering in his chest.

“Pran-“

“No, Pat,” he swallowed dryly as he interrupted Pat, not wanting to hear another word from him. He saw how Pat’s body went unnaturally still and how his jaw tensed.

“You’re just confused. It’s… it’s just excitement that will pass soon enough.”

 

Pran has had enough. He wanted to look away, but couldn’t. Instead, his eyes bore into Pat’s, which were wide with hurt and glistening with tears.

Time slowed down as the gravity of Pat’s confession rested on his shoulders, heavier and heavier with each passing second.

 

Pran had to go. Right. Now. He was moments away from breaking down.

He took another step back.

 

“No! You don’t get to run away now!” Pat bellowed, and oh, how Pran hated that stricken expression on his face. “Not when I’ve finally-“

“Just…,” Pran interrupted him. “Just… leave me alone, Pat. Please,” he took a stuttering breath. “You’re confused and I-“ he paused again and blinked rapidly, feeling a tear sliding down his face against his will. “I don’t want to share dreams with you anymore. It’s- it’s too much and I hate it.”

 

The way Pat’s eyes widened in disbelief and despair was going to haunt him forever.

 

Pran spun around sharply on his foot and left.

 

The heavy door slammed shut with a loud bang.

***

Pran was breathing heavily, hand clawing at his chest, where his heart was.

His knees buckled and he had to lean on the heavy door, or else he would’ve fallen down.

 

That was when he heard it.

 

Pat.

Sobbing on the other side of the door.

It hurt Pran like nothing ever before.

 

He had to leave immediately. He couldn’t listen to those desperate sounds anymore.

Pran didn’t know how, but he found himself back in his room, and only then did he let himself collapse.

His knees hit the hard floor, but Pran barely noticed through the haze of pain and a budding headache, and despair, and regret, and-

 

He felt like a monster.

 

Pat was his priority, and Pran had promised himself a long time ago to protect his beautiful smile. At all costs.

But then again…

He did this. He did this to Pat, gods, how was he supposed to move on from this with that kind of knowledge?

 

Pran wept, uncaring of anything or anybody else who might be listening. And with the tears streaming down his face, he mourned.

 

He mourned his own heart, broken to little pieces, knowing he would never ever love anybody else the same way as he loved Pat.

He mourned the lost chance of making Pat really fall in love with him and - oh! - how he wished he could try winning him over openly and freely! Uncaring of other people’s prejudices and expectations.

He mourned those little moments when they had bickered and teased each other; they always had made his days just a bit brighter and more bearable.

He mourned their beach. The only place in the world, where they were free to say or do anything they felt like doing. Away from their families, away from their faculties’ rivalry. And it wasn’t even a real place.

And finally, he mourned the light that he himself had extinguished the moment he left Pat alone on the rooftop, crying for him.

***

Pran didn’t know how much time had passed.

His legs were numb, his throat hurt, and his head felt as if it had been hit with a hot poker.

It felt like his soul was being torn in two.

 

And that’s when he saw it. Just a glimpse, but it looked like…

 

Pran stilled in shock mid-sob, trying to blink the tears away.

 

But no, he was still crouching on the floor in his dorm room.

He could swear he felt the coarse sand underneath the palms of his hands for a brief moment.

That was an absurd notion. He wasn’t sleeping, was he? Or was he starting to lose his mind already?

 

But then it happened again. A strong wind blew through his hair and he could almost taste the salt on his tongue.

 

“Wha-?!” How was that possible?

 

Pran wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt and it worked like some kind of spell.

His bedroom disappeared right before his eyes, and he found himself kneeling in the sand.

 

But there was no trace of sunlight.

 

Heavy clouds were covering every inch of the sky, thunder and lightning raging over the violent sea.

Pran squinted, trying to shield his eyes from the sand. He could swear somebody was-

 

“Pat!” he yelled as he realized who the lone figure in the distance was.

But Pat didn’t hear him over the howling wind. He was hugging his knees, face hidden in them.

Pran blinked and he was back in his room.

 

“What the fuck is happening?” it was as if he was dreaming with his eyes open.

 

Another stuttering inhale, and he was back on the beach again.

This time, however, the waves were raging. The wind was getting stronger, and stronger. The thunder got closer, and closer, and the only thing Pran could think of was to get to Pat, who was still in the same place, as if uncaring of what was happening around him.

 

“Pat!” he screamed again and maybe there was still some good magic left there, as the other boy lifted his head and their eyes met.

It hurt so much to see the devastation on his face.

It was agony and Pran wasn’t sure anymore if it was his own pain, or if maybe he could feel Pat’s torment as well.

 

Pat reached out his arms towards Pran. His lips were moving, but Pran couldn’t hear him!

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Pran saw an enormous wave approaching the shore where Pat was.

 

“Pat!” Pran scrambled to his feet and almost tripped, but he managed to gain his balance before he stumbled.

He ran through the sand screaming Pat’s name and waving his arms erratically.

 

Why wasn’t Pat moving? Didn’t he see-?

 

Pat stood up, a little unsteady.

Pran was getting closer, he was almost there, but the great wave was faster.

Pran’s heart was seizing in his chest.

 

Please, please, please!

 

He was almost there, he could already make out all the details of Pat’s face, when he tripped and fell down on his face, losing the ability to breathe for a second.

He looked up, eyes wide.

Pat smiled and Pran was almost sure he saw his lips moving around those three words he longed to hear-

 

Thunder.

 

Pran could only watch in horror, as the wave reached the shore and took Pat back into the deep dark ocean.

Chapter Text

***

Pran was worried, even though he didn’t want to be. He hated the overpowering sense of anxiety and helplessness.

He was going through the motions on autopilot through the better part of the morning, and he couldn’t help but replay the events of the previous night in his head.

 

Pran was kneeling on the hard floor of his bedroom, arms outstretched towards nothing.

He was breathing heavily, on the verge of a panic attack, his vision blurry with tears of despair. He could still see the ominous wave taking Pat back into the vast ocean.

He scrambled up to his feet.

“It’s not real,” he gasped and tried to calm down. “Pat is okay, it wasn’t real.”

He paced around the room frantically.

Pran didn’t know how much time had passed before he willed himself to stop.

He looked down at his hands. The very hands that have failed to save Pat.

“Fuck,” he cursed and a second later, he slammed the door shut, uncaring of anything and anyone. There was only Pat on his mind.

He ran amok to the emergency staircase and then up, up, to the cursed rooftop. He almost slipped on the second to last step, but caught himself last minute and pushed the heavy door open.

“Pat!” he yelled, not really thinking about what might happen. All consequences be damned, he just had to see Pat alive with his own eyes. He had to make sure-

He stopped abruptly.

He was all alone.

“Pat?” he tried again, hoping against hope that maybe the other boy was merely hiding in a dark corner somewhere.

But no.

He wept bitterly as he realized that Pat was long gone.

The shame coursing through his veins made him unable to knock on Pat’s door later, when he went back. He stood there, eyes boring into it, as if he could see through the wood if he tried hard enough.

 

Finally, he gave up.

 

He couldn’t do it after all.

 

The regret and a sense of failure weighed heavily in his heart.

His only hope being their shared class – he would make sure Pat was okay then…

***

…or so he thought.

 

He trailed after his friends, who wisely made no comments about his haggard appearance the whole day, clearly having sensed his unwillingness to discuss the reasons behind it.

They reached the auditorium, and Pran felt like he could pass out from the nerves. He couldn’t get inside fast enough.

His eyes scanned the blue-clad crowd frantically for any sign of Pat, but… he wasn’t there.

 

He spotted the rest of the Engineering gang, heads bowed, arguing about something in hushed voices.

“What are you standing there for, Pran?” Safe’s gentle voice cut through the haze clouding Pran’s mind.

“Nothing,” he croaked, feeling all the energy drain from him in an instant, leaving only searing disappointment in its wake. He followed the other boy to their usual seats.

He tuned out every sound.

 

Pat wasn’t there.

***

Pran was feeling uneasy, as if somebody was glaring at him.

He turned to look at the Engineering side of the auditorium and, to his consternation, Pat’s friends were indeed looking at him with various levels of annoyance and anger visible on their faces.

 

What the hell was their problem?

 

Pran leaned to whisper in Wai’s ear. “Hey, did you do something to the Engineering jerks?”

“I wish,” Wai growled quietly and glanced to the side. “Damn, thanks Pran. My day is ruined now after seeing their ugly mugs,” he frowned. “What the fuck, they’re totally asking for it though. Are they bothering you again? I could use a good fight.” Wai smirked in their general direction, and Pran saw Korn flexing his arms in reply.

 

Shit, he shouldn’t have said anything.

 

“No, no, no,” Pran turned back hastily to look at the projector. “They’re just… staring at me weirdly, I guess. Don’t look for trouble, idiot,” he resumed his writing. Wai snorted and gave Korn the finger. “Come on, pay attention. I won’t lend you my notes if you don’t.” Now that seemed to grab his friend’s attention.

 

“You’re heartless,” Wai elbowed Pran in the ribs, but ultimately followed his lead.

***

The lecture ended with Pran feeling even worse than before.

“You go ahead, I’ll join you later,” he waved his friends off and left the class ignoring their questioning looks.
He wouldn’t be able to eat anything even if he tried; his stomach was tied in knots.

 

His legs took him outside and he wandered aimlessly through the deserted paths between the buildings until he stopped short, hearing familiar voices behind the corner.

“Dude, I keep telling you, leave Pran alone,” said an angry voice. “He’s off-limits now. Pat will kill you if you say anything to him.”

 

What-?

 

Pran held his breath and pressed his back to the wall, trying not to make any noise. Was that Korn’s voice? Was Wai right after all? Were they trying to beat him up again?

“Shit, Korn. I know! But did you see his face?” somebody else said. It had to be either Chang or Mo.

“Yeah, I’ve never seen him look like that. I feel like we should do something to help him out,” third voice joined the conversation.

Pran frowned. What was that all about? Were they talking about him or Pat?

“No,” there was hardness in Korn’s voice. “He told us not to do anything.”

“So, what do we do now?” asked Chang, or maybe Mo.

“We wait until he comes back,” Pran heard somebody sigh loudly. “It’s his battle, not ours.”

The voices started to move away, but Pran was frozen in place.

 

Wait until he comes back? What?

Pran didn’t think about anything as he suddenly turned on his heel and took off. He had to make sure-

He ran, the midday sun scorching his face, but he couldn’t care less.

 

He stopped only when he reached his destination, hunched over, trying to catch his breath. Sweat was dripping down his face when he finally straightened up, coming face to face with Pat’s door.

 

Now or never.

 

He raised his hand, clenched in a fist, and knocked a few times in quick succession before he could talk himself out of it.

He waited with bated breath.

But nothing happened.

He knocked again.

“Pat?” He called. “Are you there? Please, open the door,” he wasn’t above begging at that point.

 

No reply.

 

“Baby, please,” his anxiety-addled brain didn’t even register the endearment slipping out, so out of it he was.

Finally, he had to admit to himself that Pat wasn’t in his room.

Not that it was a surprise, after what he had heard.

He could only hope it meant that Pat was safe after all.
He had to accept the possibility that, probably for the first time in forever, Pat truly didn’t want to see him. And oh, how that thought hurt.

 

You did this to yourself. To him, his treacherous mind supplied, as he slid down Pat’s door to the floor.

 

He didn’t want to go back to university for the final lecture of the day. He couldn’t pretend to be okay. He just couldn’t. Screw his perfect attendance.

 

His phone vibrated in his pocket a couple of times.
He fished it out from his pocket.

 

Wai
'Where are you? You said you'd join us'

 

Louis
'The break’s almost over, you better hurry'

 

Safe
'Are you okay?'

 

Shit.

 

He laughed hysterically. The choice had been made for him apparently.

 

'I'll be there soon', he texted.

 

He stood up, not without difficulty, and trudged back.

***

Pran was taking notes and answering whenever somebody addressed him, but his mind wasn’t truly there. The headache which had been bothering him since before the rooftop incident was getting stronger and harder to ignore.

He didn’t even notice when the last lecture of the day ended until Louis tapped his shoulder.

 

“Man, I’m in the mood for curry, you guys in?” he asked.

“I’m too tired, go on without me,” Pran murmured, avoiding looking at them. He was eager to just lay down in his bed and wallow in self-pity.

He noticed his friends exchanging worried looks out of the corner of his eye and immediately his anxiety spiked. He didn’t want them to ask any more questions.

“If you’re sure…” Wai looked like he wanted to add something, so Pran cut him off quickly.

“Yep, pretty sure. See you guys tomorrow,” he speed-walked towards the exit.

 

He was just outside of the classroom when Safe caught up with him.

 

“I’ll walk you home,” he said, giving him a peculiar look, as if daring Pran to decline the offer. “I’m not hungry anyway.”

Pran sensed that nothing he said would deter him, so he clamped his mouth shut and shrugged, seemingly unbothered.

They walked in uncomfortable silence until they arrived at Pran’s building.

 

“See you,” Pran waved at his friend half-heartedly, eager to part ways.

“Hey, Pran,” there was a troubled expression on Safe’s face. “I don’t know what’s up with you, but you can talk to me anytime, yeah?”

 

Pran winced.

Damn.

 

“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry about me.”

 

He left Safe standing there on the pavement.

***

Pran has been frowning at his phone for a while, deep in thought.

Should he text Pat? No. He clearly didn’t want anything to do with Pran and whether he liked it or not, he had to respect that. Paa on the other hand…

Pran unlocked the screen and opened his contacts list. His finger hovered above Paa’s name.

Shit, he couldn’t even do that.

 

“Get a grip, Pran,” he groaned, and in a split-second decision, he tapped Ink’s name instead. “Fuck.”

‘How are you?’

Pran winced as he hit the ‘send’ button.

 

He stood up abruptly and paced around the room, phone in hand.
A sudden vibration startled him so badly, he almost dropped it.

 

‘I’m good.’
‘How are you, Pran? Everything ok?’

 

Pran hadn’t thought it through; he didn’t know what to say.

‘…are you ready to tell me about that thing I absolutely know nothing about?’

 

Pran deflated, embarrassed. He wondered again what exactly Pat must have told her about them.

He was tempted to leave her on read, but the need to know was stronger. If there was even a sliver of a chance that Pat had been in contact with her, he had to know.
He had to make sure Pat was okay…

‘I’ve no idea what you mean’

…but maybe not right then.

 

He waited.

Ink didn’t answer for a while.

 

‘Meet me at the wonton place tomorrow at 8’

Pran blinked a few times, feeling confused.

‘I mean it, don’t be late’

Pran swallowed loudly.

‘ok’

He would never dare to tell her ‘no’.

Shit.

***

Pran laid down after that disastrous chat with Ink trying to calm down enough to fall asleep. He didn’t think it would actually work, but he was desperate. And maybe Pat would do the same at some point during the night and meet him at the beach.

 

He opened his eyes and for the first time since the dreams started, he saw the beach at night.

The sea was calmly washing up on the shore, while tiny crabs were scrambling from below his feet.

He looked up and saw pitch black sky full of twinkling constellations that he could never see in Bangkok.

 

It took his breath away.

 

Pran marvelled at the sight… until he remembered his true purpose of going back to that place.

He looked around, heart beating wildly in his chest, hoping to somehow see Pat lurking somewhere.

“Pat?” His only answer was waves crashing against the shore and the chirping of cicadas in the distance.

 

No matter how long and how far he walked calling Pat’s name, he was alone.

***

Pran woke up even more upset than the day before.

He glanced at his phone with bleary eyes.

The desperation he felt was almost too much for him to bear, so he tapped on the screen and dialed Pat’s number. He pressed the device to his ear with one shaking hand.

“Come on,” he urged quietly, slightly breathless, waiting for the call to connect.

 

'The number you’re trying to reach is currently unavailable-'

 

Pran dropped the phone as if it had suddenly burnt him and stared at it in disbelief.

The call went to voicemail and he hastily disconnected it.

 

“Where are you, Pat?”

***

The evening came in a blink of an eye and Pran found himself skulking behind a tree near the wonton place.

Ink was already there.

He observed as she politely refused a stranger to share her table.

He took a deep breath and left his hiding spot, just as the stranger left.

Ink didn't look up from her phone until he sat down across from her.

 

"So you've finally decided to join me," her eyes were twinkling with barely concealed mirth.

Pran sighed, and her smile grew.

 

"Let's order first," she proposed, clearly not expecting him to talk from the get-go and Pran felt grateful for that.
It turned out they ordered the same soup with three wontons and shared a laugh that helped relieve the tension.

 

They ate mostly in silence, occasionally commenting on inane things happening in their lives.

It wasn't until they'd finished, that Ink leaned forward on her elbows resting on the table. She just stared at him with a beatific smile.

It made Pran remember the true purpose of their outing.

 

He bit his lip, the questions he wanted to ask threatening to spill out of his mouth.

He finally decided on the least revealing one. "What do you know?"

 

She blinked. "I know that something happened between you and Pat," Ink drawled, choosing her words carefully. "I don't know what exactly, don't worry."

Pran breathed a sigh of relief.

"But I also know that you must have said some hurtful things to Pat," she continued, her expression a perfect poker face. Pran winced even as he envied her that ability. "And I know where Pat is."

 

He perked up at that.

 

"I'm not going to tell you anything else though, it's not really my business and I don't want to meddle," she looked to the side.

"That's fine," Pran hesitated. "Is he okay though?"

Ink glanced back at him. "As okay as he can be in this situation," she replied with a slight shrug. "You should probably try to make up with him when he comes back," she suggested.

 

Pran nodded but offered no comment, too busy feeling guilty.

 

"Ink…" Pran began after a long moment of silence.

“Hmm?"

"If… if Pat contacts you again," he bit his lip, fearing that he might give her more information that he was ready to share with his question. "If he does that, could you… could you let me know?"

 

Pran hated the pitying look she gave him.

 

"Yeah, I could do that."

***

The second night after Pat disappeared went in a similar fashion.

 

Pran gaped with his mouth open at the scenery, but couldn't appreciate it fully. Not without Pat being there with him.

The starry sky and the calm ocean didn't bring him peace.

 

Pran wandered aimlessly, deep in thought. He barely noticed that he stumbled upon a familiar place until he almost tripped over the fallen tree trunk.

He blinked as the memories came flooding in.

He found the place where they-

 

He caressed his lips unconsciously, feeling the phantom touch of Pat's mouth on his.

His vision blurred as he recalled the joy he had felt when their bodies melted against each other as they kissed and licked and…

 

No, stop. That way lies madness.

 

Pran has never in his life wanted anything more than that.
He dreamed about it for years, he yearned and tortured himself with imagining impossible scenarios, knowing they could never ever happen.

And then one of them did. And for what?

Pran grit his teeth feeling anger bubbling in his veins.

Now he knew what it felt like to have Pat in his arms, he knew that Pat loved him and-

And they still couldn't be together.

Not when their friends despised each other. Not when their families were fighting.

 

Their only option would be to hide.

Hide from the world, lie to everybody they loved, keep their hypothetical relationship as a dirty little secret.

 

Pran couldn't imagine doing that. It would destroy them. More importantly, it would destroy Pat. Sweet, honest to a fault Pat.

Love simply wasn't enough for them.

 

He didn’t even want to think about what the dreams that they were sharing meant. Were they both delusional? Were the dreams even real? Were they a cruel joke played on them by the universe? Fate?

What if they told their parents about them? Would anybody believe them? Would they think them mad? Would they tear them apart again?

Pran didn’t know and was scared to risk losing everything.

 

So, wasn't it better to not start at all?

 

You already have, though, supplied his treacherous mind.

***

The third day after the rooftop passed in a blur...

***

…and so did the third night without Pat.

Pran was at the end of his rope. He couldn’t do it for much longer. He realised that sooner or later he would break apart.

***

Pran has always taken great pride in being the most observant person in a room. He could easily read the atmosphere and act accordingly. His sixth sense allowed him to navigate any social situation.

But it has failed him when he found himself cornered by his friends.

 

“Okay, that’s it,” Wai snapped, arms crossed on his chest. “Something bad must have happened and you’d better tell us what’s going on.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pran lied even as his heart rate increased tenfold, making him dizzy.

“Pran, you didn’t take any notes today,” Safe frowned.

“You even forgot your pens!” added Louis.

 

Fuck, they got him.

Pran was so, so tired. He couldn’t think of any convincing lies anymore, so he decided to share a little to satisfy their curiosity.

 

“It’s… complicated.”

“No shit,” Wai grumbled.

Pran leaned his head against the wall and let his eyes wander. “I… am involved with someone,” he ignored their shocked gasps. “But it’s not going well,” he licked his lips, choosing his words carefully.

 

“That hickey!” Louis exclaimed with wide eyes. “Was it her?”

Pran winced as he felt his face getting hotter.

 

Him, yes,” he glanced at them defiantly, looking for any signs of disgust or hostility on their faces, but he found none. Only… amusement?

“You owe me 500 baht, losers,” Safe crowed triumphantly to Pran’s surprise.

“Shit, I was so sure he was ace!” lamented Louis

“Wait a minute, you bet on my sexual orientation?” he asked incredulously, although there was also an immense sense of relief. And at least they had the decency to look a bit embarrassed about it.

 

“Don’t change the subject,” Wai narrowed his eyes. “What happened with the guy, then?”

Pran sighed. “We can’t exactly be open about this thing between us, our families will never accept it. They-” he hesitated. “They hate each other.”

“Shit, Pran,” Safe gave him a pitying look.

“Yeah.”

 

They stood there for a while in silence.

 

Pran noticed Wai’s contemplative expression and frantically thought about a change of topic before-

“Who is it?”

All the colour drained from his face. It was the one question Pran didn’t want Wai to ask.

“I can’t tell you.”

 

They stared at each other, never breaking eye contact.

 

“It must be someone we know,” Wai mused. “Probably not an architecture student.”

Pran held his breath. Had Wai figured it all out?

“Engineering, maybe?” Louis looked at his fingernails with fake interest.

Pran stayed silent.

 

Another few moments passed.

 

“Okay, that’s enough,” Safe raked his hand through his hair, exasperated. “Pran, it’s that asshole Pat, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes.”

Pran lifted his chin in a clear challenge, daring them to do something.

 

“I hope you don’t expect me to become friends with that jerk Korn,” Wai snarled in disgust and Pran released the breath he didn’t know he was holding.

And as Safe and Louis agreed with him (vocally) and proceeded to tease and annoy Pran, he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

***

Even though he came clean to his friends and got a much better reaction than he expected, he still had to consider what to do about Pat.

His sanity was hanging by a thread, and he was almost ready to throw caution to the wind and say ‘fuck it’.

 

Pran could be honest with himself at this point - he needed Pat.

He needed him like his lungs needed air.

He was worried and scared, but…

But maybe he could find it in himself to fight for him. For them.

 

He tossed and turned in his bed.

 

It took Pran a while to understand that. He only hoped he didn’t take too long.

He closed his eyes.

 

His friends found out and the world didn’t end right then and there. Although grudgingly, they somehow accepted the fact that it had been Pat all along. That Pat was ‘it’ for him.

 

He didn’t tell them about the dreams, of course. That one thing was Pat’s and his only.

 

Fuck, he couldn’t stay still. His head was too full of thoughts.

Pran got up with a groan and put on his flip-flops. He needed fresh air.

He opened the door and came face to face with the last person he expected to see, pacing in the hallway nervously.

They looked at each other, wide-eyed and frozen in shock.

It was Pat.