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Two birds on a wire

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Pran had been balancing himself on his toes and heel, going back and forth again and again, biting his lip and hands running on his phone impatiently. Being back in the university doesn't feel so good. He sees young students walk to their classes and feels out of place. Some of them look so young, like they're barely sixteen, after all not everyone matures in the first year. 

 

It feels uncomfortable, being at a place he's not associated with or practically has nothing to do with. If a teacher walks past him, they wouldn't even recognize him, except his math teacher maybe, he had a perfect score anyway. Not a single classmate of his is gonna be around, not even if they had failed a class or two. 

 

He's twenty seven year old now. Long gone from his days of university, and now stands here to meet with a friend who's studied their way into an assistant professor currently. Only problem left is, they don't seem to be anywhere around. Before he can wonder more, his phone buzzes and he sees a text from his boyfriend. 

 

Wai  

Where are you? 

 

I informed you last night.

I'm meeting Ben. 

 

Whatever 

Where's the food 

 

Pran bites his lip and stops himself from sending a long text, finger hovering over his keyboard before he's interrupted. "Hey, playing hard to get now?" The voice is neither low nor high pitched, manly all the same, wide shoulders and round eyes stare at him with amusement playing on his face. 

 

"I'm sorry.. who are you?" He steps back a little, baffled at the man stepping so close to him like he knows him, does he? No. He has a bag slung over his shoulder. The boy is a college student. There's no way he knows him. "Well, you were staring at me for the pat ten minutes. Don't think I wouldn't notice? Looked away just when I looked back and then pretended to be busy on your phone." 

 

The smug smile and confidence in his voice is almost enough to decieve someone and question their actions back. "Just because i was looking in your common direction doesn't mean I'm interested in you. I'm waiting for someone here, who's not you." He makes it clear to the young man, turning away just when his phone rings. 

 

Shit. It's Wai. 

 

---- 

 

There's no food made. Then just make it yourself. He bites back the urge to say it. Wai makes him act like he's supposed to take care of his boyfriend like a child. It's bad enough he earns for them, cooks for them, cleans for them and does their laundry. 

 

He deserves some credit right? Or at least thankfulness? He thinks he does. It's not easy after all, everyday watching your partner laze around on the couch as you run through your day to make everything perfect. And now on his free day, where his friend has apparently ditched him, he's called back because Wai is mad again. 

 

And there's a college student chasing him. "You'll be lucky I don't press charges on you for following me." He says and then sprints faster. The more time he takes, the worse it will be today. "I told you I'm not! I really need to go here and I'm just lucky you need to move in the same direction. I wasn't kidding that you're cute before, you're super cute and if you want to-" 

 

He stops and sighs, there's no getting out of this any other way. "Listen, and I'll say it just this once. I'm not interested. And furthermore, I have a boyfriend. So no, I'm not available. Please hit on someone your age and find someoen good." He finishes before he sprints away again. The boy keeps standing in his place but Pran's head is full of worries to think about that. 

 

Turning a person down isn't destroying their life anyway, even if it did give him an ego boost he feels more anxious at the thought of someone liking him than anything.



"Wai I'm not a fucking child! You can't keep cutting off everyone in my life because you don't trust them for me. I love you and I appreciate you but your role doesn't decrease just because I talk to two other people besides you, I'm human after all." Their voices get louder and louder as they quarrel and he only fears the lady next door will come knocking on their door again telling them to keep it low. 

 

His partner is red in anger, "Well it IS decreasing, you're fighting me for someone as irrelevant as that. How do I know you're not cheating on me huh? Pran, is that it? One person is giving you attention and you're immediately jumping on the opportunity." 

 

"No that's not it for fuck's sake how could you say that to me." 

 

"And how could you ditch me to go with that douchebag! I'm allowed to be suspicious I'm your boyfriend. You didn't even bother preparing me a meal!" 

 

"Yes because you're literally coming from hanging out with friends. And you can make your own goddamn food." 

 

"So that's what it is about? Me not working?" 

 

Pran only sighs and feels a headache climb in. "How did you even conclude that-" but he's shut up with the expression Wai has, he's terrifying right now. And the next coming minutes are gonna be shouts and screams of curses and mean, hurtful words. He knows it all too well.



----



Pran sits on the floor, back against the bedside as he's curled up in himself, hands around his legs that seem to have given up and head hanging low, resting on his knees for support, trying to block out the noise with his hands but it doesn't go away. He can't ignore it and shut himself out from the present, no, he has to endure it and it almost makes him want to start crying there and then. 

 

"Open the fucking door Pran!" The voice shouts at him again and he collects himself, screws in his head spinning to think if he wants to let the man outside in or not. "I'm gonna count to five nicely.. and this door better be open when I'm done." 

 

There it goes again. That's the final word for him and he moves to open the door, even in his tired state he rushes to unlock it at 'two', stepping back as the door slams open, angry eyes looking in his own. He feels suffocated. He wants to run. Run away from here, anywhere, even on the road or in a park, doesn't matter if he gets chased by a guard being mistakened as a drunkard. 

 

No. He's wrong. He shouldn't be thinking this way, if his boyfriend is angry then he's angry for a reason.. right? He can't find himself to make sense with the way Wai is staring at him, his gaze harsh like a parent, Pran almost feels like a kid again, under the disapproving gaze of his mom and dad after he broke the window with his football. 

 

Except he would forget it back then and continue playing the next day. Now, he's stuck in a loop of a draining cycle that ends up with Wai screaming at him and scolding him like he's a total fuck up. Maybe he is. Maybe that's why nobody wants him. 

 

"You make it so hard for me to love you, you know." his boyfriend says, in a surprisingly calm but disappointed voice. "I don't know how to deal with you, we had a simple rule, a delightful routine that I made in both of our interests and you still can't do even that much?" Pran bites his lip to stop the sob that dares to rise. "What if I left right now huh? Then what are you going to do? Should I?" 

 

It makes him jolt his head up, previously lifeless eyes running on the floor now searching for his boyfriend's. "You wouldn't.. Wai you wouldn't leave me." he doesn't know why he sounds this weak and unsure, he's not really. Come on, speak up, a voice tells him but as he sees the retreating feet he can't do anything but chase after them, hugging the other close. 

 

"Please. I'm sorry, I'm sorry for ruining everything like I always do. Don't leave me Wai.. please." He's barely hanging on, clutching the other man's white shirt when arms wrap around him to pull him closer to the sturdy chest. "We would've never had so much problem if you had just realized before." 

 

Like always, he finds himself apologizing for pointing out his boyfriend's obvious attempts to flirt with a random girl, him dropping jobs because he "doesn't feel it" right now and having Pran at his beck and call to do things for him like he's a child. 



Every month ends like this, he bottles and bottles all the jealousy, pain, exhaustion and just gives and gives all of him to Wai who continues to take every ounce of his energy, love and care only to toss it aside like it has no value. Then he always talks about pulling out of this relationship.



'But who would want you if not me Pran, just.. look at you. You're a mess, heck, you're worse than dating a college student. Stop crying already.' Wai's voice rings in his head, he's right. Even Pran doesn't know how long he's been this way, scattered and lonely and emotionally drained. 

 

As far as he remembers, he's always been like this. Since he realized he likes boys. Since he started dating in high school, since Wai shut everyone out after his first boyfriend left him heartbroken. And then Wai became his whole world. At first, he was like a wall protecting him from all the negativity and hurt of the world. 

 

But then the wall became immovable and he became detached, from everyone. All his life centered around one person that knew everything about him, things he wanted to share and things he didn't want to share. Now it was a room he was trapped in, with no way out. There was nothing inside and yet, the outside felt just as empty, like there was no point in trying to escape. 

 

Did he even want to? And if he did, where would he go? He had no one in this world except Wai, the Wai who loved him and the Wai who hurt him. He doesn't know if he wants to never separate from the man or if he would sell his soul to be away from him forever. His emotions are conflicting, tonight as there's distance between them, both bodies far away on the mattress, he feels the cold and inconsistency in their relationship. 

 

But he knows, just tomorrow as he will wake up to the butterfly kisses on his neck and the handsome face staring down at him with all the love in the world, he will melt and his icy covering will be gone again, falling into his boyfriend's arms. He knows tomorrow they will be on the same mattress again, so close that their will be no space left and he will feel the security and faith in them. 

 

It's a fool's game, Pran doesn't know how long he can take this but he leaves the questions on the future, he falls asleep, eyes heavy. Right before his eyes closed, the handsome college student flashed before his eyes. Would anyone besides Wai really want me? 

 

---- 

 

Unsurprisingly enough, they make up the very next day. He doesn't know how all his strong resolve of not wanting to see Wai's face seem to just vaporise. Maybe because the man had apologised so lovingly, eyes holding so much hurt and pain, he looked like he'd had his worst night. Pran couldn't bring himself to saying he forgives him. He can't stop himself as the "I'm at fault" escapes his mouth as well. 

 

He doesn't know why he feels so relieved when he feels the kiss plant against the side of his head. The day goes slow like always but with Wai showering him with all the attention and love he craves, not letting him go for a single second as they melt into each other. Still, if he's had such a good day, why does he feel so empty. 

 

He groans as his boyfriend slips out of him and collapses on him, Wai isn't too heavy but still, he doesn't like the idea of the man passing out on him with their sticky bodies. The man does roll off him, hugging him from the side and sending a kiss on his shoulder that makes Pran let out a giggly whimper. "Oh fuck, I missed you." 

 

Wai always says that once they're done in bed like this, it's almost like he's drunk even though he isn't. He doesn't know if the man really misses Pran or Pran's body. 

 

Or just a body. 

 

Does he mean anything more than that? He wishes he does.

 

Chapter Text

Pran had barely stepped out, head hanging low and eyes squinting close as he tried to open them. He’s exhausted, doesn’t even know what from. It’s not work in his routine that makes him want to pass out now, it's living here, his own home. Every day here makes him feel tired and never actually comfortable. Or maybe it’s not the house but who he lives with. If he’s really living the fantasy he had imagined as a seventeen year old hopelessly in love with his boyfriend, or not, he can’t answer.

Only a sigh comes to his mouth as a reply, he turns and sees seventeen year old Pran look at him with all the stars in his eyes only for his own hollow eyes to stare back. When his foot makes contact with a box, he doesn’t notice for a solid second, only to shove it more. “Shit.” He curses and then looks down; there are a number of boxes in front of the door right next to theirs, taking up all the space in the hallway.

Does this person not care about the chance of their belonging being stolen? No neighbour would actually take their stuff but there’s never full assurity of what might happen. He crouches down, the weight is heavy for sure but all the boxes are pretty small in size, either they're moving in with no furniture or they moved it all in during the night. He can only shake his head in disapproval before he turns off the hallway lights.

As an early bird, he was always the one to close them, weirdly enough the two other apartments both didn’t have people who woke up early. He has seen little Bright around sometimes but the four year old has a hard time even reaching the switch. The couple thanked him once for it, even though he had been a little too shy to take the compliment. They were living there with home loans so he understood why they would want a lower complex maintenance bill.

He headed back inside, looking around once more only for a head to bury itself between his shoulder and neck. He looks over at Wai leaning on him with his eyes closed. He’s not much of an early riser; Pran’s rushing around the place must’ve woke him up. “You can go back to bed.” He says but the arms around him tighten and he can only smile. “Alright. Let’s go to bed together.”



-----



After his hours end, he stops on his way to drop by at the store, it’s a little odd with his business suit, and he finishes his list fast. In a mess, he manages to bump into one or two people. “Oh, hey! It’s you. The cute guy from college who was staring at me.” His loud voice echoes in the store and the lady beside them gives them a look before she goes past them.

He’s too shocked to process it for a minute or two and when he does, he side glares at the boy. “You are delusional, get out of my sight.” He hisses out and shoves the taller’s hand away that was balancing him. But as he takes one look back, the guy is approaching him with a smile. 

“Listen okay, I’m not a creep I swear. I mean, you are cute, yes...” Before Pran has the chance to open his mouth he’s cut off again, “and also not available yes I got it. I wouldn’t force you to date me or something. But you see my baby right here.” He pats the red car and unlocks it, just to close the door. Pran only looks at him with an unamused expression, climbing into his car and closing the door shut. "Call a taxi" is all he says before he drives off. 

He feels a little uncomfortable and his throat is tight, there's no way he had followed him all the way here since he just came from work. And he was a college student after all. But being in university doesn't really mean that he's not a creep. He parks the car when he sees Wai's motorbike standing in its usual spot, he's home then.

It's not everyday new editions happen in their life. Honestly, they have a monotonous routine that seems to never change and it includes his boyfriend never being home before him, it doesn't matter if he's working in those days or not. He just drops his bag as soon as he enters, his hatred of messing things preventing him from throwing it on the floor as it dances on his fingertips.

 

"Oh, babe. Good timing. I can't find my red tie anywhere. I have an interview tomorrow and I was ironing all the clothes when I couldn't find it." Wai say, running a hand through his hair, pushing them back. He loves being around him. He loves him. Doesn't he? That's why he leans in to tiptoe and places a kiss on the exposed forehead right? 

Pran giggles as his boyfriend starts leaving kisses on his neck, pushing him away only for the other to chase after him and plant more kisses. He's laughing too loudly and it stops after a peck is placed on his lips. "Alright, now let me go or you want to get that tie of yours." He's released and heavy steps drag him to the closet. He sighs when he just pushes a scarf away to find it neatly placed where he keeps all of Wai's ties.

 

"Wai your tie is right here I told you-" He stops midway in his sentence as his hand falls on a dark scarf, unfamiliar to his eyes. Since he's the one who does the laundry, irons them and keeps the clothes in separate columns he knows Wai and his clothes like the back of his hand. He's sure never once has he ever stumbled across it. 

His boyfriend appears behind him, just a few seconds later, notices the scarf in his hand and immediately takes it away from him but his face is neutral as always; all he says is, "thanks babe." It makes Pran uncomfortable though. Something rises in his chest, the same painful feeling he has experienced before and before he can stop it the words just come out of his mouth. "Who's scarf is that?" 

Wai stops in his tracks, looks back at him with a raised eyebrow in question but his posture is.. relaxed surprisingly. "That's not.. it's not yours. I know all your clothes." Pran continues, raising a hand to point at it to emphasise. "It's mine, who else could it be of? I don't remember it well either, but then again I buy too many clothes. Pretty right?" He says with a smile looking at the cloth and then wrapping it again.

"It's not new. Anyone can tell that. You're lying to me Wai, that's not.." Pran takes a deep breath, trying his best not to stutter or stumble on his words. "Are you cheating on me?" There's a long silence that follows but he sees every expression change on his boyfriend's face and it goes from blank to surprised to hurt back to exhausted and now just mad. Mad at him.

He's walking up to him again and Pran feels his brain do that thing all over again. When Wai had first cheated on him with a woman in his office, when he shut himself out in his own world to deal with the fact that he was being lied to. Making scenarios where he's isolated, in a world where he has a faithful partner and he heals himself by licking his own wounds clean like a little prey. It's coming back to him but he doesn't want that that happen.

 

-----

 

He doesn't want to dissociate again. No. But looking front in the angry, hurt eyes he wonders how long he can manage this. "You're accusing me of that? Simply because I own a scarf you don't recognize? Wow Pran, that's the trust we have in this relationship." 

"Well maybe we'd have a stronger connection if you didn't cheat on me and didn't hit on all those people in front of me all the time! And how do I know you're not, this just feels like you're rubbing it in my face!" 

"Oh, so all this time you've been sitting here like a little psycho doing that world building shit you do in your head and thinking about everyone I thought was mildly attractive? Is that it?"

"Now I'm the psycho?! You said you understood me and.. I opened up to you. You're an ass to me Wai, all the time! And I'm sick of you. I'm sick of you treating me this way!" 

"Well I'm sorry for not coddling you for things that are your own fault. And you're not a child Pran, grow the fuck up and be a man. You can't even complete what you want to say half of the fucking time and then you bring the rest weeks later, knowing I hate that."

"Why should I even listen to you.. you think I'm crazy right. Just get out of my house then." 

 

Their voices are loud, loud enough that there's a knock on their door and they both sigh. Except Wai picks up a chair and throws it across the room, he can hear the loud crash but doesn't bother looking his way and goes straight to the door. The old lady is probably here again to give him relationship advice. She should find Wai sometime and explain it to him, he probably won't even care about their age gap and shut the door in her face.

 

He is half in the mood to just say sorry and not listen to her, however, it's a different story when he opens the door. It's the college student from before. "You- did you stalk me all the way to where I live?" He sputters out, forehead creased. "No, excuse me, what? Woah, woah. I get it, I know I called you cute but geez what do I look like to you? I just moved in next door. And well I heard a lot of screams and shouts. Then there was this sound of something falling so I thought I'd check?"

Pran nods his way through half of the conversation and looks back inside again and again. "We're alright. Thanks for your concern and, sorry for accusing you. Uh I'll ask my boyfriend later if he'd like you coming over for dinner later since you moved in." He finishes, trying to end the conversation fast but the man is standing so firmly that he thinks he might have to close the door rudely soon enough.

"Who are you talking to?" Just the thing he fears. Wai stands a couple meters away from the entrance, hands folded, giving them a questioning look. He knows that look too well, and it just makes him more irritated than before each time. "And who are you supposed to be?" He says as he spots the boy, walking up to them but not getting too close, eyes running up and down as if he's judging him before he can even say anything, taking an evaluation by his appearance alone.

"Pat! I just moved into the apartment next to yours." He says casually, waving to his boyfriend who only nods his head, giving him a last look before his eyes meet Pran's and stay for a second before he goes back inside. "You can leave now since you know we're fine." Pran says, trying his best to stay polite but then his name is called out and he looks back in nervously before turning to the college student. "Bye uh.. have a good night." 

The boy is about to say something when a loud voice interrupts them. "Pran close the door!" That's his cue and the door shuts before Pat can say anything or even get his brain to think, only sighing, pondering if he should knock again but then again, he doesn't really have anything left to say so he just walks back hesitantly to his own place, giving a last glance at their door, he notices the smile on their door handle now upside down- it's a frown.

 

------

 

"And what do you conclude from that?" Korn asks him, as they take another shot of alcohol and he shakes his head, smiling. "I concluded that he really has a boyfriend and he's not making it up to get away from me." They start laughing and his friend just patted his back in sympathy. "So he works, you say, he's old? Didn't know you were into older men damn." Chang cracks a corny joke to lighten up his mood but Pat rolls his eyes.

"He barely looks a day above freshman year. I could believe he's a high school senior if he said so, but the way he acts and all, he does seem like those depressed adults. I doubt he's even thirty though." He finishes off, chugging down another drink only to be stopped by his friend who tells him to slow down and not act like a heartbroken drunk. Well, he is a little disappointed but not heartbroken.

The bar is busy as ever, all tables occupied and their own is making a lot of noise, as if everyone is trying to compete with the music playing. Is anyone even listening to the band playing? He's pretty drunk so at least he isn't. Neither are his friends as pink as they've started to turn, all of them drunk as well. He only smiles and orders water for all of them, they're gonna need a lot of that.

Pat looks over to Korn and places a hand on his shoulder. "Hey weren't you.. uh seeing this old dude. How's that going?" The taller just gives him a jab at the ribs and scoffs, "he's still in his twenties, just because he's older than me doesn't mean he's a grandpa. And it's fine I guess. I told you it's nothing serious, we meet around sometimes. I'm not dating anyone right now." He finishes and Pat nods. 

"And Chang.. you? Any new girl you're dating?" He only received a groan and then the man starts complaining about how he can't find the right girl for himself, the others are just laughing at him but they're all too drunk to care. "Man, it's good for you and Korn. You even like guys. Gives you more options." B laughs, taking a drink and leaning in near his ear, like he's whispering but says it loudly.

"All these options and they're still single.. literally nobody wants them." He laughs loudly while finishing it but is grabbed by Korn and then they're just pushing each other across the table and he can only smile at them, too dizzy to join in even if it's fun. It'd be a miracle if he reaches home without passing out on the road, he thinks as they order another round. 



Chapter Text

Pat's head is spinning as he makes his way to the rooftop, he had way more drinks than he thought he can handle for sure. It's not always good to try and look cool in front of college friends. He gripped the steel bar and pushed the door open, revealing a soft wind; something he really needed right now. Closing his eyes he smiled and walked a few steps, feeling like a child again.

 

Naive and stupidly brave, the freedom he had from life back then even with hundreds of restrictions his parents placed on him. Now he's a slave to assignments and simultaneously hanging out with friends and doing everything in his power to not look nerdy whilst also managing a good grade. He might as well be Spiderman right now, living two different lives. 

 

At such an immature thought, a chuckle leaves his lips followed by a sigh, walking forward in the dim light, shutting the door behind him. Nobody really came to the rooftop besides him. Most people in the complex were working or had families or were just old. It might've been because of the price, it was pretty expensive to live here after all for a normal college student even with a job. 

 

He was just lucky money wasn't a problem to his family anytime. But.. his parents did enough to compensate for the money they paid him. It was hard to keep up with their expectations, harder to convince them that he in fact does struggle like all the other students in class. Before his thoughts could run more in the direction of the source of his stress, his eyes met a trembling back, leaning over on the railing. It was a male, short dark hair and-

 

Oh. It was his neighbour. And he was crying. Pat freezed up, not knowing what to do. Should he ask him? Or should he just leave? The man, Pran, wasn't really open as far as he knew and would probably try to run away even if he was willing to help. Is it really worth talking to a man like this.. who wouldn't really appreciate his help?

 

He didn't make up his mind when the man had already turned, eyes wide, they looked almost round right now and tears were still leaving those twinkling eyes. "I.." He tried to speak up, half in mind to just run back to his room and close the door. Pran just turned away from him, wiping his tears in a hurry, drying his face on his sleeve. His black bag was sitting on the side, work clothes still on. 

 

Had he even gone home yet? Pat cleared his throat, trying to find a focus for his eyes, "Hey you.. alright?" He cringed at how he says it, it does not sound comforting and it isn't a surprise when Pran just nods and tries to collect himself. Surprisingly he doesn't leave, and is just standing there. He really doesn't want to go back to his flat, surprisingly, for a homebody looking guy. "What are you doing up here this late?" 

 

Pat is almost taken back by the question, surprised how the man is interested in talking to him when he had just avoided him in all their past meets. He brushes his hair a little, stepping forward to lean against the railing as well, looking down at the road with a few cars going both ways. "I just came back from drinking with friends and then.. just thinking about uni and stuff you know." He stops and turns a little in the direction of the other. "Thought I'd get some fresh air, I'm a bit drunk anyway." 

 

The older man just nods and looks at him with a smile. "It's nice to drink sometimes, it surely gets you to relax more. What's your major?" "Engineering." He receives a nod and then it's back to silence again, a little awkward. It's like staying around with a teacher that holds you back for work, maybe Pran is older than he looks, he does have an independent stressed grown up vibe to himself. 

 

It's pretty, the lights are so bright that they make everything else seem insignificant. But as his head turns to the direction of the man beside him, he's even prettier. The dark eyes are so clear it feels like they're reflecting all the light of the city and he feels his heart skip a beat. What just happened? He has no idea. He quickly looks away and shakes his head. Clearly, he's more drunk than he initially thought he was. 

 

"By the way.." He starts and looks around, a little awkward, "why are you here?" Pran looks down at his shoes and then smiles, looking back up. He looks.. sad. And so.. small? Like an abandoned little pet. Something you'd want to protect naturally and keep under your care. Pat doesn't know how to describe it but looking at the man he has the urge to hide him away from the reason for his tears. 

 

"It's just life, kid. Once you grow up, you can't go out when you want, do what you like, life isn't a fairytale. And there's a lot of restrictions because well. You're an adult. And you're supposed to deal with it. There are no parents to coddle you and sometimes.. We make the wrong decisions because it feels right." He looks into his eyes, he looks tired; completely worn out. "Sometimes we're not just strong enough to take the consequences of what we did when we were young."

 

His words sound serious, and painful. The tone hides a varying amount of emotions that he can't decipher. Pat doesn't know what's going on but he feels like he needs to dig in everything about him, yet the need to not rush strikes his head and he doesn't say anything for a long while, familiar silence taking over between them. 

 

"So you're here just for a break." Pat says, after a few minutes.

 

Pran just looks over at him, this time an actual smile on his face, "Yeah.. I'm just here for a break."

 

The topic changes, the air around them is a little lighter now and he doesn't feel the need to think about doing something every second or worry too much. He knows he may not remember some things tomorrow when he wakes up but the roll of tongue of the man and the voice that follows is enough to keep Pat standing where he is. He wonders what exactly would happen if it was on a normal day, a twenty year old college student and a working man were here without being drunk or exhausted.

 

Somewhere in his heart, he doesn't want to know and Pran's soft lips move hypnotizingly in front of him, he's obliged to stay just a little longer even with a sleepy body and mind. He wishes to find another opportunity like this already; even if the moment has barely ended he wants to find another one. It's not right to have heart eyes for someone who's already someone else's. And it's not good to want a moment like this but logic has never worked with a hopeless romantic like Pat.

 

And if Pat thinks about the smile with the cute dimples and shining eyes that look equally pretty with tears and without them for the next three days of his break instead of catching up on assignments then no one has to know. A boy can have his secrets after all.

 

-----



Korn raises an eyebrow and gives a mischievous smile but Chang leans over the table, trying to gather everyone's attention. "Hey, what if you were dreaming all that? You were pretty drunk last night anyway and well your little crush may have affected you to think that way." He only receives a slap at the back of his neck by everyone and he sits back down rubbing the spot in pain grumbling how he's just trying to help out 

 

"I know Pat thinks he's the hottest guy in the world but he's not that delusional." Korn says, laughing and Pat just rolls his eyes. "If there was a worst friends award in this world, you guys would have a bunch of trophies in your rooms till now." He just laughs along with the silly remarks, they listen to him is enough for him really and he never really tells them anything for advice. When Korn is in a good mood he might actually tell him something useful otherwise they're just his personal diary more than anything.

 

He opens the water bottle in his hand and splashes the water in Chang's face. They're all wrestling each other for a second and then running, escaping from the water launched at them like it's life threatening. He feels light hearted and a lot better than before. 



After their classes end, they don't linger around to waste time anymore. Maybe because of the test. They're all pretty scared after all. Pat has his arm wrapped around his friend's neck as they're stumbling on the way home, pushing each other in between like middle schoolers. "I didn't say this before because well.. It felt weird talking about this with the others.. They can't be serious for once in their life." 

 

Korn pushes the rest of the ice cream in his mouth, nodding his head and keeping his phone in his pocket as a sign that he's listening. "I think, and I may be wrong, but I think that my neighbour's boyfriend isn't treating him right." He raised a hand to stop his friend who's about to pass a comment, an eyebrow raised to judge pat, "No, it's not out of jealousy alright. I moved in like a week or two back but I can hear them shouting almost all the time. And our walls aren't even that thin."

 

"I wasn't gonna say you're wrong man, I mean, mistreating your partner is some serious shit. But if you're really just judging it based on how often they shout.. how do you know that he's not the problem you know? Not saying he is but just because someone is louder doesn't mean they're necessarily the one doing the wrong." 

 

In all honesty that Pat can bring, he's surprised by the reply. He didn't actually expect his friend to be so smart and serious about this topic. Of course they're not bad friends but- outside their group they rarely pay attention to anyone else. He can only nod his head dumbly. "I know, but the day I went in, his boyfriend looked like he would bust a nerve simply because I was talking to him, you know. And then he was crying alone on the roof.. I don't want to overreact but I can't just sit and pretend nothing is wrong right?"

 

He finishes and Korn looks at his friend, sighing and giving him a pat on the back. "I think you may be overthinking this Pat. I mean, it's normal to have fights.. maybe they're just going through a bad phase in their relationship you know. Did you ever see any physical mark on either of them?" Pat looked down, steps slowing as he shook his head in a no. "See. Arguments are natural when you live with someone. I wouldn't ask you to ignore it if you knew them."

 

Then the man stops and Pat brings his own feet to stop just a few steps after, looking defeated. "You don't even know him, practically you're still a stranger. I don't want to hurt your feelings but it's not your business whatever they're doing." His words are direct and the rest of the way is more or less without them talking. He waves Korn goodbye and sighs, slumping against the door as soon as he enters his flat.

 

He ignored the rising voices of the familiar voices ringing in his head and buried himself in his covers. Korn was right. Just because he had found Pran attractive doesn't mean the man has to have a dysfunctional relationship. He's never hurt physically, there are almost no marks on either his or his boyfriend's skin- well except the ones they make on each other that makes him grip the door handle a little tighter as he greets them.

 

Maybe he's wanted Pran to be a damsel in distress simply because he thought that's the only way to get that man? He might be as delusional as Chang assumed he is after all.



-----



"Wai." Pran calls softly as he covers the soup with a lid and sees his boyfriend walk in, pushing his hair back, looking sleepy. "Dinner is almost ready, you should just sit here, you look really sleepy." He adds, previous plans of making the other set the table now gone and shuffles around doing it himself. The man nods and plops down in his chair rubbing his neck, covering his mouth with the back of his hand as another yawn makes its way through.

 

He sets the dinner down and hesitates, taking each bite before he stops halfway to speak. If he keeps stalling it he might never say it. "Wai I was.." The said man looks up, pausing as well. He looks calm. Maybe it's okay to speak right now. "I was talking to the neighbours and they suggested we should have dinner together to celebrate the first day of the new year." His boyfriend nods, continuing his meal. "Technically it should've been tonight but they understood everyone wants to celebrate with their families so, is it.. Alright if we invite everyone here." 

 

Wai's eyes flicker a little, Pran reaches for a glass and looks down in the water. He knows the man has never been very fond of their neighbours or interested in making friends with them, or at least acquaintancy. "Yeah, I guess it's fine. Don't think I've talked to anyone in a long while, so which neighbours again?" He takes a deep breath, as if he was holding one all this time. "Well, all the three. Only me and 489 flat family have talked for now but we'll invite the others too." 

 

His boyfriend nods, a soft smile on his lips as he gets up and leans down to place a peck on his lips. He's in an awfully good mood but Pran can't complain. It's surprising for sure after their argument just a while back but not a bad surprise. He's happy to be disturbed by the kisses on his neck as he does the dishes and is led to their room by a playful support push, soft laughter filling their otherwise gloomy apartment.

Chapter Text

Pran doesn't understand why he feels a little disappointed when the college student next door denies the invitation, explaining how he'll be over his parents' house for a day. It makes sense, after all he's not an independent adult yet. He should be going back to his family. Even so, he looks really sorry as he tells that, promising to join when they neighbours decide to have another dinner next. 

 

"If not, you can come over any time you know, I mean I guess I do owe my neighbours something since I just moved in." He's really polite like this, unlike his impulsive appearance he had nice manners and all. Shit, since when did Pran start thinking about people's manners? He's really growing old isn't he? "No no, I can't make you do that. I'm sure your studies are enough for you, but don't feel shy to drop by if you ever need a meal and don't have time to cook by yourself." 

 

The man has certainly warmed up, Pat notices. For someone who was running away at every opportunity given he had started to  be nicer to Pat. Of course it may be since he feels obliged to help someone younger, still, he takes what he can get. "You seem pretty busy too, I wouldn't want to burden you." He tries to protest but receives the beautiful tired smile in return and his heart flutters. "That's adult life, can't help it. Don't worry about me, I'm serious, I know how much time it wastes." 

 

He can only nod, wagging his tail like an obedient dog at the comment and try to hide how much that means to him and how bad he wants to just break the unfamiliarity between them and hug the man. It's wishful thinking but it doesn't stop him from imagining. He smells really nice after all, his housewarming gift had been covered by that lovely scent as well. It made him even more attractive. Pran however could only see an excited inexperienced puppy. He was cute, despite his intimidating build and his eyes had shine, something that was hard to find in adults.

 

Pran has half a heart to tell him this never happens, that they've never really invited their neighbours over but spares the detail and invites the other in case his plan changes anyway out of courtesy. When they do come over, it's more relaxing than he thought it would be. Pran has never been good with people if he was being honest and his nervousness and closed off nature comes out as rude sometimes but he's surprised how comfortable he is.

 

They've been here for three years after all. He shouldn't be surprised. Nonetheless, both the husband and wife are good cooks and they help pran a lot with the dinner despite him trying to convince them he can manage it alone. "Oh you're inviting us to your lovely house and taking all the expense, this is barely anything compared to it." It's not much to him of course, he's not on rent like them, with his salary he can afford another apartment too but he only smiles. 

 

The old lady just sits on the couch and continues knitting the sweater like always. His boyfriend too, has given him a bit of shock today as he plays with the kids. Wai had always seemed like one of the people that don't enjoy having children around, he had never shown interest in them before but today he was being super sweet with the boys and it made his heart swell a little in love. 

 

Oh, he was still a fool who would fall over for his partner again and again and keep doing that. "You both seem pretty happy together." His neighbour says suddenly and he looks over at her, taking his eyes off the people in the living room to meet her. "Uh.. yeah? I guess we are?" She laughs and looks down as she washed her hands. "Oh don't get me wrong I just.. well we heard a lot of noise form yours and we were quite worried? You know, it's normal to-" 

 

She rambled, trying to put it in the nicest way possible. "It's fine. I understand. I'm sorry for causing you disturbance but we're alright. Everyone has their fair share of fights." The lady nods and gives him a bright smile, a little too artificial but it's caring, he can see. "Ah yes, young people like you clash more. It'll be alright though you'll understand each other." He hums and wonders, will we? He thinks he does everything to understand Wai. But maybe, maybe he is lacking after all.

 

Tsk, be responsible. Are things like these really your concern with everyone over? He shakes his head to get out of his trance and takes the lid off to check the soup once more. "Ah, it's done. Everyone wash your hands; and at the table." He never realised how used to he is living with his boyfriend until the seats were taken. Seven people are barely enough for a get together but it feels like a huge crowd in their always deserted apartment.

 

They join their hands, praying once and the food is about to start before their doorbell rings. "I'll see who it is, you should start." He gets up but Wai taps his wrist. "It'll be a second. We can start with you, I'm sure these two devils can wait a while to devour the chicken." He says making an action like a lion to the kids who giggle and nod. Pran can only flush and leave the table trying not to grin too much. 

 

He opens the door and looks at Pat standing there, in a cut sleeve light blue shirt and jeans, holding something in a plastic bag. "I thought you were.." Pran starts, pointing outside trying to convey the message through his actions. "Yeah I left early, I have a class tomorrow so it's gonna be troublesome if I drive all the way here in the morning." He nodded, opening the door and rubbing the back of his head slightly.

 

"So.. may I join in or is that offer gone now?" The college boy asks and he gasps, eyes going slightly round and stumbling to stand straighter. Pat thinks it's an adorable look really, he thinks it's almost unfair for the man to look this cute, if he doesn't stop being so attractive and so so his type, he might not be able to stop the small crush developing in his heart. "Yeah. Uh sorry, I was. Um- you know- I just-" He rambles and Pat placed a hand on his shoulder making him look up with the same shining eyes, mouth parted. 

 

He nods and lets the other inside, closing the door behind him with a heavy breath. What was that? He asks himself following inside fast to see the boy has already introduced himself to everyone. "Since I was running late already I thought I should bring ice cream along as compensation?" He explained and the kids cheered at the mention of it. So that's what it was in the plastic bag. He sits down as well and they pray once again, starting the meal this time.

 

Pran has barely chewed his first bite fully before lips make contact with his cheek and he almost drops his chopsticks and ducks his head down shyly as Wai passes a comment saying, "the food tastes great." How long has it been since his boyfriend complimented his cooking? He doesn't remember and it feels great. The couple beside them eye each other before the lady frowns at her husband and whines, "why aren't you that sweet?" to tease them more.

 

Pat swallows his food uncomfortably. He should be laughing along, he should think they're cute as well. But he can't. No matter how fake of a laugh he manages to muster and tries to joke around saying "love is in the air." He feels sick looking at them and when Pran quickly responds by placing a peck on his boyfriend's cheek as well, he feels worse. Boyfriend. 

 

The guy he has a miserable crush on has a boyfriend. A boyfriend that seems to love him and who he loves just as much. He doesn't have any place between them and it hurts. It's more selfish of him to want a bad relationship between them though. Just because he finds one of them attractive doesn't mean he should be thinking bad about them. They're obviously so happy, with the way they slightly lean on each other, their small offers to feed each other and hands brushing side by side.

 

Only person in the wrong here is Pat. He wants to steal a committed man. He has a crush on someone way older and mature, a university kid like him can dream on but life isn't a fairytale. He doesn't say anything for the rest of the while, not even when he helps them clean the table and offers to do the dishes, unfortunately they make him sit down saying he doesn't have to. Of course, he's not seen as anything more than their little kids.

 

Because he's not like them. Not like Pran. No he's not even close. And it makes him feel ill. He takes his leave with the old grandma who needs to get back early for her meds. He lays awake in his bed for an hour, shit, he shouldn't be acting heartbroken. Nothing big happened. He always knew the cute neighbour had a boyfriend, he's met him before but the false hope of him not being good enough had kept Pat's ego up. 

 

It is gone now. 



-----



Korn is way too familiar with him, he feels. "You're not okay, you're lying to me you ass." He kicks him under the table and Pat throws a tissue at him. "Fuck off already, I'm alright." The boy only shuffles closer. "Nu-uh, didn't talk about the sugar daddy you find cute living next door." He sends an unimpressed glare at him to which his friend shivers, pulling his hands up in defence. 

 

"Geez fine, you're the sugar daddy then, not him. Then is he your baby gir-" "Korn I swear I will throw you three benches away from here, you know I can." He threatens his friend who shuts up, not testing him further. It's obvious that he is right, it doesn't matter if Pat admits it or not. Yes, he is indeed sad because of the guy next door and no he will not say it even if someone asks him a hundred times, over and over again. 

 

Thankfully, he does take the hint that Pat seriously isn't in a good mood and doesn't say anything more infuriating after that, engaging himself in a nonsense talk with Chang that he doesn't bother listening to. A guy can have his bad days after all. He feels like a school kid again who falls in love with his pretty young teacher but meets her husband later and feels sad as if he had any chance to begin with. The comparison is terrible and it still makes him laugh. His friends don't comment when he smiles sadly to himself, deciding to give him space.

 

Confidently, he can scream he's got the best friend group but he also feels bad that he lets his romantic feelings ruin the mood and cut them off. He shouldn't do that, by all means. Sighing he grabs his forehead, rubbing it over and then stands up, "today's treat at uncle pho from me." It takes some time for the boys to get what he's saying but they start shouting and howling when they process it, only to receive dirty looks from other students in the cafeteria which doesn't stop them from jumping around.

 

"Drinks as well?" Chang asks but he shakes his head in a strict no. When they all sigh in disappointment, Pat remembers how he often feels like their parent at times. They follow his orders too like he's way older than them. Out of all the irresponsible childish friends he is after all the most mature one and has to drag them all to do the right thing. It's not anything burdensome, in fact he likes taking care of them. Pat has a need to feel just and helpful. He doesn't let them be too dependent on him however.



When they pass by a bakery, stopping as Korn receives a call from his mother, he turns to look at the small muffin behind the glass with a smile on it. His mind immediately flashes Pran's smile on it and even as he blinks repeatedly he can't get the image out of his head. It's almost weirdly coincidentally here as if the universe was waiting for him to buy it. His hand itches, reaching his pocket. What excuse will he even make when he buys this? And won't his friends just eat it as soon as he buys it. 

 

There was no way he was explaining his real reason behind it to them and they would never leave a chance to eat anything like pigs, that's just how it is. Who knows how long this will stay here though? If he comes back later and finds it sold out, no one is to guarantee that they'll be stocked again. Then again, this isn't important or necessary so why is he giving it so much thought in the first place? Pat is sure he'll drive himself crazy.

 

Chapter Text

Pran sits at the table, hands crossed and taking in a deep breath as he finishes listening to his boyfriend. "So what I get from this is you don't want to meet my parents because they pointed out your obvious unemployment? I'm not trying to be harsh here but, it's normal for them to worry about you not working.. I mean it's not like you're getting a PhD either!" He says waving his hand and trying to sound as calm as he can.

 

Of course, with his job there's no exact need for Wai to work, nor has he ever had high expectations from the man. Even if he was a primary school teacher, it would've been fine. Or a store manager. Because Pran is making enough. It's not about the money, but the fact that Wai does not do anything which he should be as someone who's hitting thirty soon. His parents too, especially his mom, love him too much to judge his salary but it's not about the money again, it's about him not working at all.

 

The man just huffs and takes a seat, "Look, babe, with you working I honestly don't need to. It's not like any of us spend a lot of money. I seriously tried, didn't I? I just can't find anything right, I hate all the jobs I tried and what's so bad about a stay at home boyfriend?" Oh please, Pran wants to say and roll eyes at him to show how ridiculous he sounds but he just gives a small glance to express that.

 

"Wai I'm not going to repeat this again and again that it has never been about how much money you make. And a stay at home boyfriend? You take that too seriously I guess. You don't help in the work at home eithet, you don't even vacuum the floor on days I don't get the time for staying home, I'm sorry to find it burdensome to see you just not do anything." It's like deja vu, he doesn't remember how many times this same situation has repeated itself over and over and over till he lost count of it.

 

Nothing good comes out of their discussion again. One thing is clear, they're not going back to his parents house for dinner and that Wai isn't going to be home for the next two days. Some string in his heart pulls to check up on where he's headed and who he's meeting yet the other pulls him back and stops him from breaking his own heart again. If he can't even chase the man he supposedly loves, how does he expect to stay together for the next following years? 

 

But then again, does Wai ever chase him when he needs it? Do they even care about each other anymore? He can't tell, neither does he want to figure it out. As he pushes thirty and their mail fills with wedding invitations, he wonders if there's any point in trying to think about a love outside he's already found. He's not that young anymore after all. This year Pran will hit twenty eight soon after his boyfriend who'll be twenty nine. They're far past the age to make mistakes and be immature right?

 

He remembers his mother asking when they plan to settle, get married (unofficially of course, since they can't marry legally) and start looking for a kid to adopt. She's worried Pran is getting old now. She thinks he's happy. He's anything but happy though, right? As he makes his way to his bedroom and then unlocks the door to the balcony, sitting down on the chair, he thinks if he has felt happiness in a while. 

 

He was happy when they had the new year dinner with everyone, he was happy because of his boyfriend as well. Then why is he never happy when it's just them alone? Why does all the warmth melt away in seconds every time? He feels like Wai changes in company and if it's true then is it Pran's company that makes him cold and unapproachable sometimes? Are his problems the reason why he can't seem to find comfort in the man?

 

Is he really the problem between them and refuses to see it? He doesn't want the answer to be yes no matter how much he questions it, he doesn't want to be the failure. The error in a beautiful life. To be honest, Pran is afraid. Afraid that he is as miserable as people think he is and once Wai walks out of his life, he would never be able to build his life back whilst the other would continue to live on because he's not like him..

 

Wai is not a mistake.

 

Pran was born defective. He wasn't right, he wasn't fitting in. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn't change how he was. Since young Pran has had an unhealthy coping mechanism and a scary mind. It has always been like this as far as he remembers but the maximum effects he's felt were when his parents were going through a rough time through their marriage. Where they would scream at each other all day, he'd get constantly told by both of them turn by turn how the other parent is bad for them.

 

He remembers the constant ringing of their evil deeds and complaints always settled on whichever parent was in his room's tongue, a few hisses, gritted teeth and angry eyes. Sometimes a harsh grip on his hand and an almost threat as if it was war and he, a mere child, was a warrior that had to choose sides that would bring victory or loss. It felt that way too, to keep his lips sealed and not spill anything to anyone.

 

As a mama's boy he had almost started hating his father, it subdued of course and he no longer felt it but the long extensive mind alteration they had tried for over the expanse of two years to his fragile mind still left Pran like a helpless child in front of his boyfriend as long as the man played his cards right. He had a bit of bitterness towards them as a high schooler, wondering why they're happy with each other after knowing all the bad things they had done to each other.

 

But there's nothing such as scolding your parents and there's no way to convince them their little boy was probably not born sick and developed an easily disruptive mind. He didn't want this, he never asked for it. He didn't choose to always see the negative but he always received mockery for it as if he enjoyed it or angry glares as if it was intentional. 

 

Pran has always collected things in his heart. He convinces himself he's strong for not needing anyone to talk about his thoughts to. That he's a reliable person people can share their burden with and mature, smart. He feels that, he hears that from people around him but nobody knows the times he can't bottle enough and bursts out, sobbing to himself with no one to hold him as he mourns the feeling of being alone. When he craves support and affection and lets his tears comfort himself and keep him company. 

 

Nobody knows Pran stressing out on every little thing and never feeling enough, the jabs he's passed on every second by a senior, how he works as hard as he can only to be brushed away by his parents considering all they ever see is an immature, little to no thoughts, lively pran. How he truly feels stupid and incompetent. They can't know, not because he's strong enough to keep it in but because he's scared to let them see how flawed he is. He's a coward but no one would ever love him in this world if he was who he's meant to be. 

 

For people like him there's no way out of this vicious cycle that slowly kills them inside. Humans are social animals and to live in the society they've created, you have to adapt to their ways and learn how to be like them. In fact, it doesn't take much to feel alienated and have a desperate bell ring in your head pushing you to be a part of that group. And just like that everyone discards how they are to shape themselves into what they are "destined" to be. You have to keep climbing till you reach the top of fall.

 

Except they aren't unbreakable, same to say, they aren't irreparable either. So which one of the two should be given more focus on? Can that really ever be decided? And if they do reach the limit to be irreparable what of it then? How does one measure an individual's endurance? Or do they just fall blindly hoping they're in the average as well? But can it really be a basis to decide how independent that thought of making decision to start the climb knowing you will fall should be or not.

 

Nothing really makes sense when you think hard enough about the depths of standards of acceptance but if he just pushes everyone farther than he has, can he truly survive? And if he doesn't, can he shorten his comfort circle over time, keeping up with others' speed? As hollow as life makes him, he contributes to the speed of it as well. Pran doesn't know how much he can blame others for how he is today. He can't shift it on their heads because he was born like this.

 

He's scarred, he's known that for a long time. Everyone who knows Pran knows he's a beautiful boy nonetheless, a beautiful defective boy.




Chapter Text

Pat had no idea why they were at the rooftop again- or well he knew. After buying the batch of muffins he had his eyes on, he hesitated on knocking. What if Wai opened the door? The guy glared at him all the time, it was scary, like a father looking disapprovingly at you. Hopefully it wouldn't be him, or at least won't start a rapid answer round with him on the door. To his dismay, even after he gained courage to do so, no one answered. He kept knocking, nothing but silence greeting him.

 

Dejected, his steps left him to the roof, much like previously. What were the chances he would meet Pran again? Oh, a hundred percent by the way the man was sitting at a far corner, head down, in casual wear unlike the last time. He liked to come here way too often. Just as he was getting close, he noticed the cigarette in the man's hand. Of course he smokes, what a cliché. 

 

Pran raised his head and was met with a box right in front of him, startled and looking up at Pat with wide eyes. "Hey" the college student said simply, smiling and sitting down next to him on the ground, a little space between them. "Why are you sulking again here? Is this your place to come and be sad?" He teased and the other scowled, proceeding to smile with his head turned the other way, pat would let it slide because it was adorable. 

 

"What's that?" He asked, raising his eyebrows, eyes on the white box. Pat smiled sweetly at him, "marriage ring, I'm here to steal you from your boyfriend." Well.. he was half serious about it but the older man didn't need to know, Pran couldn't stop the smile on his face either, dimples betraying him as he tried to keep a straight face, rolling his eyes. "Stop being an ass." 

 

The college boy opened the box and slid them over, only for the man to stare at them for a whole minute. Did he not like it? Or he didn't eat sweets? He had honestly not thought of anything at the time he made a lame excuse of taking a gift for Paa to his friends, the cute smiles made him think of the door of his neighbours and his hand itched to buy it. There are people who don't even eat cakes, Chang himself didn't eat cakes as he claimed he didn't like the taste. Maybe he had bought these for nothing, well he'll just act like he bought them for himself then.

 

His little mental breakdown had taken all of his attention that he didn't notice the tears on Pran's face and it almost made him jump up. "Woah- are you okay? Shit, you hate them that much?" Pran just shook his head, wiping his cheeks with a smile, an airy laugh leaving his lips. "I don't know why I'm crying, this is really sweet of you. I love them so much." He blurted out and Pat didn't know what he should feel honestly. Was the guy happy or not? Why would anyone cry at something as little as this?

 

But then again, if he was having a shitty day and someone thought about him enough to bring a comforting thing even accidentally, he would be touched too. "You don't receive gifts often and it shows.." He said with a soft smile. Pran poked his head from the side harshly, "I've received two times more gifts than your current age kid." Pat just pouted and tried taking the rest of the muffins away only for Pran to snatch them and start running. He jumped to his feet chasing after the older and they ran in circles, laughing and screaming.

 

The whole time it looked like Pran would drop the box any moment but neither really cared enough and miraculously he managed to not drop it. When Pat finally caught him, he started wiggling to get out of his grip. It was hard to keep up with someone like him though, he was pretty strong for anyone who didn't exercise regularly because of his frequent visits to the gym. They were locked in that hug and so they started picking the muffins out of the box and eating them. 

 

If anyone walked in on them and saw the scene they would probably be scared to talk to them the second time, crumbs falling on the ground, open mouths trying hard to chew between the loud laughs. "What- if we- what if we choke.. let go of me" Pran was shouting in between his giggle fit and Pat let go of him for the man to slump down against the wall, the muffin in his hand. He could only admire the ruffled hair all messy because of running around in the strong wind.

 

Pran let the college student sit next to him, throwing a loose hand on his shoulder, catching his breath from the laughs.

 

He felt happy again. Just a while back he had been sulking in the corner that was now empty because of his daily monotonous life and the surprising elements Pat often dropped in always stirred his mind and heart. He felt young again; unlike the soulless, tired, frustrated man he was on most days. It may simply be just the younger boy's personality or it may be that he has an extremely different way of living that interests him. He can't quite put a finger on it.

 

Pran likes to figure things out and clear the picture but right now he wants to go with the moment. It doesn't make sense, fighting for muffins on a rooftop and finding trouble to fill the need of air in their lungs because they're laughing so much. Nothing is even funny about it and it just makes him laugh more. 

 

Minutes ago he was crying and now he's laughing like he won't ever stop, the shifts in his emotions make his chest rise and fall with more depth. It's like stepping out in fresh air after being locked in a suffocating room for a long time, he can't describe it any other way. How did Pat manage to do it? He doesn't know, and he doesn't care, the thought of Wai long forgotten as he invites the college boy over for dinner and they race back downstairs like middle schoolers.

 

-----

 

Pran only looked out of his window, staring into space. He didn't feel sad today, unlike all the times he spent worrying and feeling guilty over Wai leaving he felt relaxed and free. Like he had needed this, even if his boyfriend hadn't. The man could be anywhere, he couldn't worry less. Pat had removed the possibility of his general activities like begging his partner to come back home and spamming his call log and texts. 

 

Now he could only smile and try to remember the sweet taste of the muffins melting in his mouth and a bright smile that accompanied him. It felt wrong but in a right way? To think of a college student next door instead of his boyfriend. It was also wrong that he felt happier and safer in the company of Pat than Wai. 

 

How long had he known Pat? For two months? That was nothing compared to how long he has been living with Wai but he felt more familiar and looked more forward to seeing him . It wasn't fair for him to let his heart make a space for this new neighbour but it was involuntary. Even with his protective cold exterior, Pat had managed to dig through. Was there really any saving from this boy? And what would Pran do if he let the younger have too much of his heart till it started affecting his life?

 

He picked up his phone and let his finger hover over the call button. Should he really reach out again? His burnout in the relationship only increased whenever he had to chase after Wai, he was tired of him being the centre of their relationship. Tired of not having the same worth but how long could he really keep this strong resolve. He knew the next day he would be going back to doing what he was stopping himself from right now.

 

Pran threw his phone in the side and sighed, rubbing his hands on his tired eyes. The day had been long, Pran didn't even realise when his eyes closed and when he fell into a dreamland filled with warm smiles and home-like eyes.