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Fork in the Road

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Two weeks later, Pran walked up to the bench where Wai was waiting for him. Pran felt better when he looked at his friend. The anger had almost burnt itself out, healing at the same rate as Pat's injuries. Pran had to stop Pat using his cast as a club to hit his friends with and that, more than anything Pat could say, convinced Pran he was in far less pain than before. The doctor had warned his arm and ribs were still healing so caution was advised but all the bruises and muscle damage were gone, leaving Pat full of energy and unable to go on the rugby field to burn it off. It meant Pran could kiss him without fear and look at him without the attack being the first thing he thought of.

"Pran." Wai stood up as he noticed Pran. He looked more apologetic than Pran had ever seen him, even more than he had when he had come to Pran's room that first day.

"Hey, Wai." Pran walked over and sat on the opposite side of the bench. "How are you?" Safe had been a sort of go-between Pran and Louis and Wai, but Pran hadn't asked too much how they were doing. First it was due to the anger which coloured every thought of his friends and then it was because he knew just how awkward Safe found the whole situation.

"I've been doing okay. What about you? And Pat?" The look in Wai's eyes said he wasn't sure it was wise to ask about Pat but he was going to do it anyway. Pran appreciated it, more than he would ever tell Wai, because it made him feel like they would actually be able to move forward. They weren't going to pretend like this whole thing hadn't happened.

"He's doing really good," Pran answered. "The bruises and marks are gone and the doctor was pleased with how well his ribs and arm were healing. Now he just wants to get back to rugby."

"Yeah, course." Wai nodded. An awkward silence fell between the two of them. Pran mourned the way distance had fallen between them, how it felt like something had changed irrevocably, but he couldn't bring himself to regret the way he acted. If anything permanent had happened to Pat, there was a good chance that Pran would have never been able to look at Wai again, let alone forgive him. But, as Pat liked to remind him, he couldn't keep hating people because of what-ifs.

"Pat and I, we're dating now." Pran had been so scared about telling his friends when he and Pat first kissed, seeing them as another hurdle to worry about. Now it barely mattered. Pran knew he could survive without them and he had other people in his life who could help him carry on. But Pat's friends had been unsurprised when Pat had told them, unconcerned about any rivalry between their faculties or their seniors' reactions, and Pran just wanted that for himself. He wanted his friends to show Pran had been right to trust them, to befriend them.

"Yeah?" Wai looked on edge but unsurprised and Pran wondered if they had been that obvious. If Korn was here, he would say yes without a doubt.

"Yes. That was why Pat came on the trip in the first place. We had kissed and I was ignoring his attempts to talk about it." Pran didn't want any secrets between him and his friends anymore, even if they hated him for it, but most of all he wanted them to understand. He and Pat, they were something that couldn't be pushed or forced away. Pran's parents had tried, Pat's parents had tried but all they had done was made sure neither of them could see a life without the other in it.

"Oh," Wai said and then his eyes widened. "Oh."

"Can you not say it like that?" Pran pointed out.

"Like what?" Wai's lips were starting to curve into a smirk, obviously reading Pran's tone correctly.

"Like a million things suddenly make sense," Pran complained. "Paa had the same reaction when we told her. And Pat's friends."

Wai tilted his head to the side a little. "So you've been hanging out with the engineers recently." Wai's tone was neutral but Pran could feel himself starting to tense.

"Yeah, why?" He wanted to say something, to explain that it was because they were Pat's friends and Pat was injured and Pran was the only one who knew everything that was going on, but he didn't. He wasn't going to justify anything about that and he prepared to shut Wai down if he wanted it. "They're very like Pat sometimes," he murmured and then cursed himself for even giving this much of an explanation.

"They're like your harem," Wai said in a wondering tone and if Pran had a drink right now, he would be choking on it.

"What the fuck? No, no they're not." Wai's shit-eating grin said he definitely wasn't going to let this go.

"It's okay, Pran," Wai said, a mock-serious look on his face. "Louis and I will be properly respectful of all your boyfriends. We might even be nice."

"You're an arsehole," Pran said simply and Wai laughed. "No, seriously, if you say anything about this, Pat will give me the big eyes and Korn will never let it go." It would be ten years on and Korn would make jokes about it at Pat and Pran's wedding. He would make jokes about it at his own wedding. There would be no rest.

"Oh really?" Wai looked delighted at this information.

"I take it back. They're not like Pat, you're like them," Pran shot back and Wai laughed. Any awkwardness between them was gone and for the first time, Pran could see how their friendship might move forward in the future. It was good, he was glad he came.

 

He met Pat for lunch afterwards and as soon as he saw his boyfriend, he knew Pat had been worrying about this just as much as Pran had. The very thought of it made his chest feel warm, as if a miniature sun had taken up resident in there. Pran would call this sun 'Pat' if he wasn't sure his boyfriend would find out about it somehow and practically expire with how romantic it was.

"So?" Pat asked. He grabbed Pran's hand and gently pulled him down to sitting, not letting go even when Pran was seated. His other hand smoothed over Pran's knee in a way that Pran wasn't even sure he realised he was doing. He just touched Pran like that now he was allowed. "How did it go?"

"Really well." Pran smiled and brushed his fingers over Pat's cheek. There was no mark now, Pat's skin was as smooth as ever. No reminder for Pran for what could have been and with it, the hurt was fading too. "I think when your friends and my friends become vaguely civil towards each other though, we're never going to get any peace."

Pat laughed just like Pran knew he would and love for his boyfriend filled him to the brim. Pat made him happier than he ever thought he could be and Pran wished he could find some way of telling him how much he meant to Pran. Words didn't seem to be enough but Pat seemed to understand anyway. Maybe it was because he felt the same way about Pran.

"It's okay, when they're ganging up on us, we'll just sneak away." Pat leaned in closer, obviously teasing Pran with kissing him in public. Pran didn't lean away, rising up to meet the tease in a competitive way he was sure they would never really lose. Pat gave him a sniff kiss and Pran laughed, embarrassed and so, so fond.

"I guess there are worse ideas in the world," he managed to say, not being able to let Pat get the last word in. "Want to sneak away now?" Pran didn't care about the food or the people watching. Pat had all his attention and that was exactly where it was supposed to be.