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Dare Me Once

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Hope your day is as sweet as you are.
~P

Korn grabs the sticky note out of Pat’s hand, and reads it aloud.

“Oh ho ho!” he hoots, “Someone has a secret admirer!” He nudges Pat with his elbow and waggles his eyebrows.

“What do you mean, secret? I know exactly who wrote it!” Pat protests. He does too. Pran thinks he’s funny with this sideways compliment that Pat knows he doesn’t mean. Just as he suspected, Pran has no clue how to flirt. Clearly Pat will have to show him.

“Excuse me?” Korn asks, “You know who this is from? Since when have you had an admirer that we didn’t know about?”

Pat freezes. They’d never talked about details, so he’ll just have to make something up.

“Uh… we met at… there was a freshman mixer a couple days before classes started, and we met there,” Pat shrugs, “I guess it’s never come up.”

“What, seriously? You went to that thing too? Why didn’t you tell me, we could have met up!” Chang chimes in from Pat’s other side.

“Didn’t think of it, I guess. I was, uh… kinda busy the rest of the night, if you know what I mean,” Pat says with a suggestive waggle of eyebrows.

“You’ve had an admirer for that long, and you haven’t dumped them yet?” Korn asks incredulously, “They must be some good date.”

“Eh, let him dream for now. Besides, he’s fun to play with,” Pat says. Korn’s eyebrows jump a little, probably at the admission that the admirer is a guy, but Pat just ignores it, “Listen, let’s stop by the dumpling shop, I wanna get him something.”

Pat orders a set of four dumplings in a little box, and hastily scribbles a note on a post-it that he finds in his bag.

Dumplings for my dumpling.
~P

As Pran approaches his door with his friends, he notices a small box hanging over the handle. Good, he thinks, Pat got the idea. He pauses anyway to read the note stuck to the top, making a show of trying to hide a smile, when all he wants to do is snort at how ridiculous it is. If that’s all the flirt that Pat’s got, Pran is going to win this thing, for sure.

“What’s this?” Wai asks, snatching at the note in Pran’s hand. Pran makes sure to only jerk it a little bit out of reach so that Wai gets it on his second try.

“It’s nothing,” Pran mutters, and wishes he could blush on command.

“Well, that sure sounds like it’s something, let me see,” Louis pushes in next to Wai. Pran focuses on unlocking his door, so that they can’t see his smirk at just how easy this is proving to be.

“Oh yeah, it’s something,” Wai says as they file into Pran’s apartment, “Someone’s hitting on our Pran!”

“Oooooo,” the other two chorus.

“So, who is it? Do you know?” Wai asks. Pran ruffles the back of his hair sheepishly.

“I have a bit of an idea.”

“So? Tell us more.”

“Um,” Pran hesitates. All Pat’s text had said was that he’d told his friends they’d met at a mixer a few weeks ago, but maybe if he keeps it vague he won’t contradict anything Pat said, “There was a, uh, you know, a get to know you thingy? I got dragged along by a couple of people I’d just met, and ended up chatting with him.”

“Is he handsome?” Wai asks immediately. Pran is surprised that Wai doesn’t seem to care that it’s a guy, and that makes him hesitate.

“Ohhhh, you didn’t answer right away, he must be handsome,” Wai accuses, a wide grin spreading across his face.

“I… alright, he is handsome, but don’t tell him that, he’s conceited enough already,” Pran admits. He’s surprised to find that he’s actually blushing at that, when it’s nothing but the objective truth. Pat is handsome, the same way that water is wet, and he’s fucking annoying about it because he knows it.

“Eh, that’s alright, nothing wrong with being fuck buddies just cause they’re hot,” Louis comments, and Pran’s eyes go wide.

“No, we’re not– That’s not–”

“No, of course not,” Wai says with an exaggerated wink, “I mean,” Wai waves the note in the air, “You’re clearly dating him for his large… ahem… flirting skills.” Pran tries to snatch the note from Wai, who climbs up onto his knees on the couch to hold it even higher.

“I mean, come on, Pran,” Wai continues, “Using the flirt/dumpling pun? We’ve all heard that before. You can do way better than this guy,” Wai pauses, reading through the note again, “Unless… don’t tell me you have a thing for himbos?”

“No, I- we got into a fight last night over who was the better flirt, so we made a bet about it,” Pran says.

“And this is what he came up with?”

“Yeah, I knew I was going to win, why do you think I agreed to the bet? You know me, I don’t bet on anything other than a sure thing.”

“Well then, you gotta show him how it’s done. Here, let us help you-”

“No!” Pran shouts. He’s not sure why he feels so strongly about this, actually. He doesn’t have time to think about it though, because they’re all staring at him.

“I mean, I just think I should give him one more chance,” Pran says, “He’s clearly at a disadvantage here, I should handicap myself so he doesn’t just immediately lose.”

Pran breathes an internal sigh of relief as they seem to take that, and the topic soon turns to other things. Meanwhile, Pran begins to plan.

Is that really the best you’ve got… Dumpling?
~P

Pat hears Korn say something about one of the “Architecture Assholes” being nearby, but waves him off, his eyes trained on the note that Pran has somehow left under his seat in the class he’d just gotten out of. The note is attached to a large cupcake box and the cupcake inside is decorated with heart shaped sprinkles all over the icing. It looks tooth-rottingly sweet, and a quick sniff tells him that it’s mango flavored - his favorite flavor. Had Pran somehow remembered from all the way back in high school that he loves mango?

“Come on, man, he’s getting away, and he’s their ringleader, if we take him down, that’ll teach them - you go around that way and cut him off,” Korn says, shaking Pat’s shoulder.

Wait. Their ringleader. That means… Pat takes off running in the direction Korn had pointed him, and just hopes that he’s fast enough.


Pran knew it was a bad decision, but he couldn’t resist waiting to see if Pat had found his cupcake, just to see his face when he realizes he’s been challenged again. It had taken some serious sleuthing to figure out exactly which class he’d be in, and which seat was his. If Pat realizes that, which, granted, is a big if, then he’d realize just how badly he’s losing, and how ill-advised this bet is for him. The thought of the fear on Pat’s face as he realizes all these things is tantalizing. And so, Pran loitered in the bathroom as the students filed in, to avoid being seen, and then stood around in the hallway, his red architect’s jacket stuffed into his bag so that, to most people anyways, he just blends in.

Unfortunately, Pat’s friends are not “most people,” and Korn had spotted him and alerted the whole group. Pran rolls his eyes, and quickly heads for the exit. He hadn’t exactly worn the best shoes for a run across campus, but they’d have to do. He threads his way through the crush of people trying to get out of the building and ends up in the courtyard, somehow. Above him he hears Korn shout from the balcony, so he takes off, ducking back under the cover of the second floor as soon as he can find a spot, and dashing straight for the exit.

Once outside, he looks both ways and spots an alley to the right. He makes a beeline for it, and gets halfway down before he realizes it just curls back around to the front of the building on the other side - nowhere to hide. He hesitates, hopping from foot to foot, and as he does, Pat bursts out of a back door he hadn’t noticed. Pran puts up his fists, half expecting Pat to have forgotten their deal in the heat of the moment. Pat just looks over his shoulder, and pauses to listen for a moment.

“We have to time it just right,” Pat says, quietly.

“Time what?” Pran asks, but Pat just shushes him.

“3… 2…1…” on one, Pat grabs Pran’s arm and shoves him into a little alcove he hadn’t noticed. Before he can register anything about their surroundings, Pat is pressed up against him, hand across Pran’s mouth and a finger to his lips. It feels like Pat is everywhere around him, so much so that he nearly forgets he was being chased. He stares up into Pat’s eyes, because there’s nowhere else to look, and suddenly notices one of Pat’s knees pressed between his thighs. He flushes hard, and hopes that his body doesn’t choose now to have a physical reaction to all of this.

“Oh, yeah, you got him, Pat! We’re gonna drag him back to their door… step…” Korn says as he rounds the corner, and then trails off as he realizes that what he’s seeing isn’t what he expected. Korn looks back and forth between the two of them for a few moments and Mo and Chang catch up, craning their necks to look over his shoulders.

“What the fuck is this?” Korn asks. Pran’s eyes go wide, but Pat just winks at him with the eye that’s away from Korn and puts on a lazy smile.

“Well, I guess you caught us,” Pat looks over at Korn, “Oops.” The saucy shrug he puts on that last word sends shivers through Pran, and he rolls his eyes out of habit.

“Caught you?”

“Remember that note you were making fun of me for yesterday?” Pat says. Pran looks back and forth between Korn and Pat. Really, Korn has probably gotten the idea by now, and Pat could probably let him up from the wall. Or at least take his hand off Pran’s mouth. As… interesting as it is to have Pat shove him up against a wall, it’s an incredibly inconvenient way to watch the conversation. And besides, who knows how long it will be before– Pat jostles his knee, and rubs up against Pran, probably entirely by accident, but Pran can feel his body react anyways. He shoves against Pat, who lets go with a quick “sorry.”

“Seriously? This guy?” Korn asks Pat. Pat shrugs.

“I didn’t know he was an enemy until a couple days ago. We, uh, didn’t talk about that kind of stuff.”

Pran closes his eyes to avoid rolling them in front of three people ready to beat him up. Trust Pat to make it all sexual.

“I’m… actually late to class, so… if you could…” Pran tries.

“Is this true?” Korn turns to him and demands. Pran looks up, and then back at his shoes, doing his best not to provoke them further at this point.

“Yeah.”

Korn looks back and forth between the two of them.

“Fine, I’ll let you go this once. But if I find out you’re lying, the beating will be twice as bad, you hear me?”

Pran just nods, gathers his bag onto his shoulder, and squeezes past Pat’s friends.

“Have a good class, honey!” Pat calls after him, “And thank you for the cupcake! I’ll see you later!” The sickly sweet voice Pat puts on is grating, and in that moment Pran hates that they ever came up with this plan.