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They're on Pran's bed, which is something that's been happening an increasing amount recently, and it's kind of ridiculous because they're not even making out or anything. They haven't since the rooftop, neither of them willing to lose the bet quite that quickly. Pran thinks he might lose his mind first, but he's had a lot of practice losing his mind over Pat so he's not too worried. It's just that the number of times they've ended up in bed together without even making good use of it has started to edge to the other side of frustrating. Especially since Pat flirts in the same way he does everything else, which is to say loud and obvious and irritatingly attractive about it.

It hits Pran the same, too. The fear of being caught and the thrill of being seen all tangled up into one, intense desire. If he didn't have quite so many walls up this would be a lot harder, and he finds himself almost weirdly disappointed at how easy it can be to make himself resist Pat.

That's balanced out by how much fun it is to finally fight back.

So, they're in Pran's bed, because Pat had wheedled his way into Pran's room and then decided to take a nap for some reason, and when Pran had voiced objections to that, Pat had cheerfully suggested that Pran could join him. And, well, Pran wasn't exactly one to pass up a perfect opportunity when it was handed to him. Which meant he was currently kneeling over Pat, while Pat stared up at him with that slightly dazed look in his eyes that Pran was getting kind of addicted to. He leans down, just a little, and watches with glee as Pat's gaze darts down to his lips.

"Are you comfortable, friend?" he asks, and Pat's eyes sharpen, his expression becoming a playful smirk.

"Is this what friends usually do?" Pat says, lifting his head up to bring their faces closer together. It's only because Pran is used to his heart racing like this that he doesn't let anything show.

"If this isn't friendly for you, you can just say so," Pran challenges and Pat laughs underneath him. For a moment, their faces are still close and Pat is staring at him and Pran is so sure he's about to break; and then Pat lets his head drop back down to the pillow. Pran watches as Pat's face softens, the edge of teasing slipping away as he stares up at him. Slowly, giving Pran plenty of time to react, Pat brings his hand up and rests it on Pran's cheek. His thumb starts drawing small circles on Pran's jawline and Pran can feel his eyes drift closed. This is the other side to Pat. The side that's gentle and warm and makes Pran feel like he could stop worrying about the future and it would all turn out okay.

"You're good at this," Pat says. His voice is sincere and almost tender and it throws Pran off, makes him crack his eyes open again.

"What do you mean by that?" Pran asks, suspicious, and Pat grins.

"I mean what I said. It's a compliment." 

"It's a weird compliment." It makes Pran feel like Pat is looking right through him.

"Mm," Pat grunts in agreement. "Well, I'm not used to saying nice things to you yet."

Pran realizes a second too late that he's let his guard down. The hand on his cheek slips behind his head, and Pat's other hand grabs his side, and with a distressingly little amount of effort he flips them over. Suddenly, Pran is looking up at Pat, who is smirking down at him again. 

"I guess I'll have to practice," Pat says. He dips his head down so that his mouth is right next to Pran's ear. "Let's start right now." The feel of Pat's breath against his skin makes Pran suppress a shiver.

"What are you doing?" Pran says, attempting to sound unaffected by it.

"Did you know you're very handsome?" Pat replies instead of acknowledging Pran's question. "Cute, too. Especially when you smile. Your dimples are adorable." Pran is slightly annoyed at the fact that he's smiling as Pat says it, but he can't quite make himself stop.

"So you do like me," Pran says, trying for a challenge.

"And you're smart," Pat continues, refusing to rise to the bait. "You designed a whole bus stop by yourself, and made the budget, and organized everything even though you didn't have to."

It had been a lot of work, but it had also been fun doing that work with Pat.

"That's another thing about you." Pat moves now, drifting away from Pran's ear. He's not actually touching his skin, but Pran can feel his breath ticking his neck. He's almost sure this is worse than it would be if Pat was actually kissing him. "You do so much for the people you care about. You always want to take responsibility. You should learn to let people help you too, you know."

"I do let people help me," Pran manages to get out. His throat is dry and his heart is hammering in his chest. Pat helps him all the time, without even asking. It's annoying. It should be annoying.

"And you're strong," Pat murmurs. "Always fighting yourself. Must be exhausting."

It is. It is. But who else is going to stop them from reeling headfirst into heartbreak?

"I wish you'd give yourself a break." Pran can't tell if Pat's voice is getting quieter or just harder to hear over the pounding in his ears. "You don't have to be strong all the time, baby."

Fuck.

"Get off." Pran moves to push at Pat's chest, but the weight is gone before he even makes contact. He can hear Pat moving somewhere beside him but all Pran can do is stare blindly up at the ceiling, feeling his breath come shallow and harsh.

There's a few moments of silence that are not nearly long enough before Pat speaks.

"Did I go too far?" He sounds apologetic and nervous and a little concerned and Pat was wrong, Pat was so wrong, because he's officially lost his mind and this stupid fucking bet. This was a bad idea. He knew this was a bad idea.

"Pran?" Pat's voice has tipped over into fully worried and Pran feels Pat's hand on his cheek again and that's when he realizes, embarrassingly, that he's crying. He hadn't even noticed. "Are you okay?"

Pran turns his head away from Pat's hand and pushes himself up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He finally looks to see where the hell Pat went and finds him sitting next to the bed, his hand still outstretched. Their eyes meet and all Pran sees is concern and care and Pat's hand hovering between them and something else that he isn't going to name.

Pran looks away again.

"I'm fine," he says, because he can't think of anything else to say, and he doesn't need to be looking at Pat to know he doesn't believe him.

"Did I go too far?" Pat asks again. "Do you want me to leave?"

"No!" The word bursts out of him involuntarily and Pran can't bring himself to care about the raw honesty of it when the thought of watching Pat walk away right now feels like its own special kind of torture. He swallows, tries again. "No. It's- I just wasn't expecting you to..." He doesn't know how to finish that sentence.

"Did you not like it?" He sounds worried still, like he's afraid he crossed a line. And he did, he absolutely did, but Pran can't find it in himself to be upset about it and that's the scary part. It had been good, it had been so good, and Pran is used to yearning, he's not used to getting.

"I don't want it to be a game," Pran says, and all the alarm bells in his head start going off. Too honest. Too real.

"Okay." Pat says it softly and Pran can't help but look at him. His hand is resting on the bed now, still between them, and he's looking at Pran with such tenderness that Pran can feel tears start to burn the back of his eyes again. "It's not part of the game."

Pat says it so easily. It's not part of the bet. He won't do it again, not like this, and Pran believes him. And he hates it. They've been playing at this for years, pulling each other ever closer for the past few months, trying to figure out where the boundaries are, what they're doing here. All under the guise of a game, a bet, a competition. Something where there are rules and a definitive endpoint and no chance of getting hurt because it's just a game. Tug-of-war, push and pull, you can't say you want it so pretend it doesn't mean anything. It's fun. It's exhausting. It's not real. 

"Can we stop playing?" The question hangs heavy in the air. They can do this, right? Just call if off. Act like it never happened. Maybe if Pran asks for it right, he can make it seem like that's what he's after.

But then again, Pat has always had the uncanny ability to see what Pran is actually looking for.

Can we stop playing? Can this be real? Can we really risk everything for this?

"Okay," Pat says again. "Game over. You win." Pran sucks in a sharp breath and suddenly Pat's hand is in his and Pat is shuffling over so he's kneeling directly in front of Pran. Pat looks up at him and Pran knows what's coming, can feel the inevitability of it like gravity, and he should tell Pat to stop. This is his last chance to keep reality from crashing down on the both of them.

"I love you," Pat says. "I'm in love with you."

Pran wins. Pat is on his knees, confessing his love, and that means he loses. Pran could break this all so easily right now. Pat is holding out his heart and Pran could shatter it with a single sentence, with less than that, and it would be terrifyingly easy. Pat is giving him everything and Pran is in control and Pat doesn't even look scared. He's staring up at Pran and the only thing Pran can see in him is what has finally been named. Pat is staring at Pran with so much love.

Pran grabs Pat by the collar and hauls him up into a kiss. It's hard and desperate and Pat responds immediately, the hand that isn't tangled up with Pran's coming to rest on the back of his neck. Pat tilts his head and Pran feels a gentle scrape of teeth on his lip and he surges back against it and into it. Pran's free hand finds a place on Pat's side and he digs his fingers in and Pat lets out a gratifying groan and Pran feels Pat pull him in even closer, somehow. It's a mutual desire, this urge to get closer and closer still, to take as much as they can right now because there won't be any saving the rest for later. Pat's words ring in Pran's head, only getting louder.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

They're both breathing hard when they separate, and Pran feels kind of dizzy. He keeps his eyes closed but feels a tear slide down his cheek anyway.

"Are you going to cry every time we kiss?" Pat asks, his forehead pressed against Pran's. Pran huffs out a laugh.

"Stop saying stuff like that beforehand, and I won't," he says.

"So I should talk less, then?"

Pran could listen to Pat talk for hours. He's only heard it once so far, but he's pretty sure he's never going to get sick of Pat telling him he loves him. They've spent most of their lives not being able to just talk to each other, and Pran wants so badly to make up for lost time.

"I always think you should talk less."

Pat chuckles and Pran wishes he had the strength to open his eyes just to see the look on his face.

"I think you're lying," Pat says and suddenly Pran feels him move. His voice is right next to Pran's ear again and this time he doesn't even try to suppress the shiver. "I think you love hearing me talk." Pat's teeth nip just below Pran's earlobe and Pran lets out a soft gasp. "I think-" A gentle kiss is pressed to the same spot, and then another just below it. "You want to talk to me all the time." The kisses continue, following the same trail down Pran's neck that Pat's words had just minutes before. Pran tilts his head to the side and the hum of appreciation Pat makes at the gesture vibrates in Pran's chest.

"This is a bad idea," Pran says, helplessly. "It's just going to end up hurting us."

"It doesn't hurt right now," Pat murmurs against his jaw.

"Don't you ever worry about the future?" It's all Pran can think about. Every possible future where things go the worst way and he has to leave, again. He doesn't know how Pat isn't paralyzed with fear at the idea of it.

"Don't you ever stop?"

"Our parents are never going to be okay with this."

"I'll build that bridge when we come to it."

"That's not how that saying goes." Pat has started to press feather light kisses on Pran's cheeks now. One hand is still tangled with Pran's, but the other is playing with Pran's hair. It feels like Pat is everywhere. It feels like Pran is going to burst into flames.

"It is for engineers," Pat says, fingernails scraping gently at the base of Pran's skull.

"That doesn't-" Pat kisses him again, long and slow and sweet, and Pran can barely gasp out the end of his sentence when they part. "-make sense."

"You think too much." Pat bites at Pran's neck, and Pran moans.

"You don't think enough," he argues. His free hand slides up Pat's side to tangle into his hair, and he feels Pat arch into the contact.

"I think about you," Pat says, and his voice is rough now. "I think about us. I think about kissing you and living with you and making you smile." Pran can feel his throat tighten. "I know you think I don't worry about the future." Pat pulls back from him, and Pran feels the loss like a splash of cold water. "I just think it's worth it. For this. For us."

Pran opens his eyes. He still has a hand in Pat's hair, and Pat's pupils are blown, and he doesn't look nearly kissed enough.

The future is fucking terrifying. This isn't going to end well. There's too many problems and not enough solutions.

"I love you," Pran says and the smile Pat gives him is the sun breaking from behind the clouds. All Pran can feel is warmth spreading through him. "I love you," Pran says again. And then, just because he can, a third time. "I love you."

Pat pulls him in closer, and Pran buries his face in Pat's shoulder, feels his arms come to rest around him.

It's not a good idea. It's going to hurt them both. 

But right here, right now, Pat is hugging him and it feels like a furnace and he's only gotten to hear Pat say he loves him the once and he wants to hear it again and again and again and again.

"I love you," Pat whispers into his ear.

Reality is so much better than Pran had ever dared to hope for.