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Sniff, Sniff

Chapter Text

Pran never really forgot this best friend was a werewolf, but it just wasn’t something he thought about very often.

“Wai,” Pran said, exasperatedly smacking Wai—who was clinging to him like a koala. “You’re sweaty and gross!”

“I haven’t seen you all month!” Wai whined. “We’re finally going to the same school and I had to go to rugby camp for the last month before.”

“You love rugby,” Pran snapped back, but gave up on getting his friend off and just continued to sketch his project. It wasn’t due for another month—school had just started—but architecture was a demanding major and Pran didn’t want to fall behind…

Pran felt an odd sensation on his neck and shrieked, “Wai!”

Though he would deny the shriek under pain of torture if anyone asked.

Whaaaaat,” Wai whined again, pressing his face into his struggling friend’s neck. Luckily, the design lab was empty but for them, so Pran could preserve his dignity. “You don’t smell… familiar anymore. It’s freaking me out.”

Pran huffed, settling back in his seat and crossing his arms. Wai took it for the submission it was. “Right, I forgot. Wolf stuff.”

Wai huffed a hot, humid laugh right against his friend’s neck, which set Pran squirming again and finally, successfully shoving Wai away. “That’s disgusting,” he groaned. “Shower first next time.” Pran accepted he wouldn’t get any more work done in the design lab, so he began packing his things.

Wai pouted. “But then you won’t smell as much like me…”

“I’m just a human,” Pran insisted. “I don’t need to smell like you.”

Werewolves existed. It was a thing. For centuries they’d had to live in hiding, but for the past few hundred years they’d integrated into society. They faced their own problems, but they could attend university, play on sports teams, and live completely normal lives. Besides the whole furry other half, thing.

Wai kept saying there was more to it than that—something about subgenders?—but he kept wanting to talk about knots and slick which were both words Pran knew, but probably not in this context. And he didn’t want to know.

“But you’re in my pack,” Wai said, walking alongside Pran as they left the lab. “That means we have to smell like each other.”

Pran knew this—Wai had explained a million times since Pran had joined his little “pack” of two—at the time—when they were children. Since then, their little group expanded to include Louis and Safe. Packs could expand or lose members frequently in the modern age—mostly forming out of convenience and comfort. But Pran and Wai had been together for over a decade, and Pran doubted that would ever change.

But he reserved the right to tease Wai about it at every opportunity.

“So, I should start rubbing myself all over you when I get sweaty?”

“Woah!” a loud, grating voice interrupted. “Do all architecture students swing that way?”

Pran and Wai stumbled to a halt as three boys rounded the corner. In engineering uniforms.

Wai took a half-step forward, arms already crossing and jaw clenched. “What are engineering students doing here?” he asked. “You’re far from where you belong.”

Something else was going on. Pran narrowed his eyes, looking between the ringleader—a guy with super dark, thick eyebrows—and Wai. Something about the way they were standing, maybe…?

“Wai,” Pran said, low with warning. A quick glance around confirmed his worry. “There’s security cameras.” Despite trying to settle his Wai’s temper, he still crossed his arms and widened his stance. Pran didn’t enjoy violence for its own sake, but if these blockheads attacked his best friend, he’d jump into the fray, too.

His parents would be disappointed, obviously. Their golden son caught up in a fight on his first day at a new university. But it wouldn’t be the first time Pran had failed to be perfect in their eyes.

“What’s this?” a new voice cut through the tension. A fourth person rounded the corner, stopping once he was alongside the engineers.

Pran’s eyes widened, and he turned to the newcomer, his face slack with disbelief. “Pat?”

The other boy’s face mirrored his shock, taking a half-step forward. “Pran?”

Several things happened at once.

Pran took a step back, not wanting a fight with his old… enemy? Friend? Cr… No, he couldn’t even think that. And what else would Pat want but a fight?

The other engineers grabbed for their friend, yelling questions.

And Wai launched forward, throwing himself into Pat’s space and snarling so loud it sent instinctive shivers of fear down Pran’s spine.

Pran wanted to snatch Wai back, both to get him away from the engineers but also to try to get him to walk away. The school didn’t approve of any students fighting, but especially not werewolves.

But Pat’s eyes flashed bright vermillion and he just snarled back, squaring his shoulders and meeting Wai’s challenge head on.

Right… Pran had forgotten Pat was also a werewolf.

Dammit, Wai!” Pran strode forward, ignoring the fact that he definitely shouldn’t be getting between two angry, posturing werewolves. He grabbed his friend’s shoulder and hauled back. It only moved his friend a half-step, frustratingly strong in his wolf haze, but it let Pran get into his line of sight.

Between two snarling wolves. Awesome.

Pran—” Pat tried to get Pran’s attention, a warm hand on his arm as if to try and pull him away from Wai.

Wai growled again, pushing forward to practically squish Pran between them. Pran shook off Pat’s hold, firmly integrating himself between the two. He wasn’t going to let Pat move him to attack Wai.

“Wai, we’ll all get in trouble if you start a fight. Probably get stuck in detention with these idiots from engineering—”

“Hey!”

Rude—”

Pran ignored their protests. “We can’t just fight them with no reason, Wai. And definitely not somewhere we’ll get caught.”

It was a blessing no one else had come this way, yet.

Wai was still looking past Pran, face lit with rage. But his eyes weren’t glowing red like Pat’s… Now wasn’t the time. “He was coming at you, I could tell! Then he grabbed you—”

Thunk!

Wai blinked several times, shocked expression draining almost all his anger as he finally looked at Pran. Whose arms were crossed angrily, his face stony. “Don’t put this fang-measuring contest on me. I can fight my own battles, as you well know. Now, if you have a good reason, we can fight them later. Somewhere without security cameras or a thousand students with cellphones. Okay?”

Wai clenched his jaw, but sighed and nodded. “Fine.”

It wasn’t a never on the fight. Just not yet.

“Wait a second!” Block Brows shouted. “You can’t just—”

But he decided Pran was the safest object of his aggression, taking a quick step into his space—

Pran was jerked back just as Pat stepped forward, intercepting his friend’s hand and putting himself in front of Pran. “Korn, let’s chill out. You heard him, right? Too many cameras.” He started walking down the hall, his three friends following his lead. “Why did we come this way, anyway? Is freshman orientation through this building now?”

“The usual path has some construction or something—”

Their voices faded, only occasionally glancing behind at Pran and Wai to be head-slapped into submission by Pat.

Pran blinked several times and shook his head, trying to physically dismantle the weirdness of the moment.

“What was that?” Wai asked, staring at Pran like he’d never seen him before.

Pran glared at his friend and started walking. He wasn’t a freshman, technically. He had transferred in as a second-year. But the architecture faculty would probably expect him to make an appearance at orientation.

“We used to go to school together.” Pran and Wai had met as children, but didn’t go to the same school. Pran had hated that growing up, especially when he got shipped off to boarding school alone. But it was perfect right now, when Pran couldn’t let anyone know that he and Pat knew each other. It would be way too complicated.

Also, it might make it harder to… Well, better not to think about that.

“You used to go to school with an alpha prime and you never told me?” Wai demanded.

Pran furrowed his brows. “I know he’s a wolf or whatever, but literally what are you talking about?”

Wai groaned and turned around, walking backwards now to make eye contact with Pran. “An alpha prime is—”

“You’re going to trip and bust your head open doing that.”

“An alpha prime is.” Pran rolled his eyes but didn’t interrupt again. It was on Wai if he needed to go to the emergency room. “Basically one of the rarest dynamics we have. Like, they’re the super alphas. Super senses, super instincts, super strength and speed.”

“Aren’t you guys already all those things?” Pran indulged Wai by asking, only half paying attention as he also checked the group Line chat to see where Louis and Safe were.

“Sure.” Wai preened for a moment. “But not like that. Didn’t you see his eyes? Mine don’t do that.”

“You’re not an alpha prime?”

Wai rolled his eyes and turned back around, falling into step with Pran and slinging an arm over his shoulder. “How many times have I told you I’m a beta? Like, a pretty dominant beta, but still.”

“In all honesty, you’ll probably have to tell me again at some point after this.”

Wai swiftly put a hand in Pran’s hair to ruffle it a bit roughly, Pran dodging away after a moment. “To be fair, it doesn’t come up that often! When has that literally ever mattered? What about Louis and Safe?”

“Betas, too. We’re the most common subgender.”

“I swear, if you start talking about knots and all that bullshit again—”

“I learned my lesson last time,” Wai grumbled. “But if you’re going to be seeing this guy again, you’ll need to study up. Alpha primes are their own breed.”

Pran huffed. “Yeah, as if that’ll happen. We didn’t get along in school.”

“That’s weird… He didn’t seem like he hated you before. He seemed—”

Anyway.” Pran didn’t care whatever Pat was feeling. Their faculties were sworn enemies, on top of the family drama. “It really doesn’t matter. He’s in engineering, I’m in architecture. I literally can’t imagine why I’d ever see him again.” Desperate to change the subject, Pran scoured his mind until he remembered the good news he’d gotten this morning. “Oh, I got my new apartment keys this morning. Once I’m settled in, we can have a pack party.”

It still felt weird to call himself “pack,” even after all this time. He was just a human. But Wai insisted, and it made him happy. And secretly, Pran didn’t mind so much.

“Hell, yeah,” Wai declared. “Can’t wait to see it.”

“Yeah.” Pran grinned. Finally, a fresh start. Not locked away at boarding school. His own apartment, his good friends, and an architecture degree ahead of him. And on such a huge campus, he doubted he’d ever see Pat again. “Me neither.”

Chapter Text

Avoiding Pat lasted all of two seconds.

 

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry!” a disembodied voice called from above Pran, who was laying sprawled on the ground with a box of clothes spilled all around—and on—him.

 

“It’s okay!” Pran called, waving his one free arm above the mess. Since when did he own so many clothes?! He never thought of himself as a hoarder, but the veritable mountain of clothes on top of him said otherwise. “Sorry, do you mind…?”

 

A warm hand grasped his own and easily hauled him up, clothes falling off his body like a waterfall as he put on a thankful smile, coming face to face with—

 

“Pat.” The smile fell. “What are you doing here?”

 

Pat’s scowl matched his own. “I could ask the same. And what’s with the wholesale inventory you’re moving in? Opening an Insta shop?”

 

It’s a weak jab, but Pran still bristled. “I seriously don’t have time for this. Are you stalking me or something?”

 

“Stalking you ?” Pat asked indignantly, rolling his golden brown eyes… No, his brown eyes. His plain, ugly brown eyes. “If anything, you’re obviously the one stalking me.”

 

“I live here!”

 

“I live here, too!”

 

They both fell silent. Could it be possible? What are the odds that of all the apartments near campus they have to live in the same one?

 

“Who's the stalker now?” Pat asked. “Always have to copy me, copy my family—”

 

“I didn’t even know you went to this school!” Pran shouted. Had he seen a flash of fang when Pat shouted? Should he be scared? Nah, he was way too pissed to be scared of Pat , of all people. “And let’s remember whose family was already living in their house when a new one moved in next door ?”

 

“Yeah, and whose store still trumped their sales—”

 

“Oh, please —”

 

“Um, excuse me?”

 

Pran and Pat fall silent, whipping around to face a girl with a big moving box in her arms, brows scrunched at them in annoyance. “Sorry if you’re having a lover's quarrel or whatever, but can you move? You’re blocking the elevator.”

 

Only then did they come out of their angry haze to remember where they were. In front of the elevator doors, apparently. And…

 

Pran and Pat scoffed in unison as they forcibly threw each other’s hands out of their own. How long had they been holding hands ? No wonder this random girl thought they were together. Ô o hŏo, how long had they been holding hands?

 

“Whatever,” Pat said. “It’s a huge building. Just stay out of my way.”

 

“You stay out of my way and I’ll stay out of yours. No problem.”

 

They were silent for a moment, rarely used to agreeing on anything. Even staying out of each other’s way. Except that one time, in high school, with the music festival but…

 

Well, see how that had all ended.

 

“Let’s just… Stay apart,” Pran suggested. “I didn’t tell Wai anything about you, except we had a class together in school. Said I barely remembered you. And I don’t want to start a fight that could get me kicked out when I just got here.”

 

Pat snorted. “As if I’d come out of a fight between worse for wear.”

 

“Listen, furry—”

 

“I am not a furry!”

 

“By definition—”

 

“Ahem.”

 

Another person trying to reach the elevator. Which they were still blocking.

 

Pat threw his hands into the air. “Whatever! Agreed. Stay apart, our friends don’t need to know. I told mine basically the same thing about you. It’s not like we can pretend we don’t know anything about each other after we said our names. But we can do damage control from here.”

 

Pran nodded. “Exactly.”

 

They nodded, then started toward the stairs. Which they definitely didn’t race up. And Pran definitely didn’t just say that because he lost the race. Barely! He barely lost. If it had been a race, which it wasn’t.

 

And… What? “What, are you following me to my door now?” Pran said accusingly when Pat followed him to the exit door to his floor.

 

“Do we really want to start this again?” Pat asked. “Aren’t you the one following me?”

 

Pran rolled his eyes, definitely not trying to muscle his way in front of Pat down the hall. “Are we just having the same fights over and over? Are you a parrot? Can’t you say anything new?”

 

Their squabbling continued in that fashion until Pran stopped at his door. And… Pat stopped at… The door across the hall.

 

“No!” they both shouted, pointing at each other.

 

“You can’t live here!” Pat shouted.

 

Pran’s jaw dropped. “Do you own the building now? I can live wherever I want! Aren’t werewolves supposed to have like… special scent blocking housing or something?”

 

“Oh don’t be speciesist—”

 

“How dare you—”

 

“It’s 2021, asshole.”

 

That didn’t answer Pran’s question—hadn’t Wai mentioned something about some kind of cycle?—but he couldn’t ask now .

 

He did feel a little like an asshole. Wai didn’t live in any kind of special housing, as far as Pran knew. It wasn’t right to assume those things of Pat.

 

But just as he opened his mouth to apologize, Pat rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Let’s just… Avoid each other, I guess. We never have to talk.”


Perfect .”

Chapter Text

Yeah, that didn’t last long. Pran should’ve known Wai and his short temper wouldn’t be able to just let it go .

 

Pran was in the design lab again, just trying to be a good, dutiful student. Finish his projects early. Stay out of fights. Like the universe had a vendetta against him getting good grades, his phone rang.

 

Normally, that wasn’t strange. But Pran specifically set his phone to Do Not Disturb , unless someone called him three times in a row. Barring a house fire, unexpected windfall of inheritance, or a police investigation, that had to mean…

 

“Dammit, Wai,” Pran grumbled as he answered the call from Louis. “What is it?”

 

Dammit, Wai is right. He picked a fight with those engineering assholes again. Some of us are already here, but you’ve gotta come quick.”

 

Pran was already packing his things quickly, though he did take an extra few seconds to pack his Faber-Castell Polychromos Artists' Color Pencils so they wouldn’t shatter into a heap of wood and wasted money. Then, he got the location and started running.

 

And made it to the scene just in time to hear Block Brows taunt Wai. “You can’t expect us to just leave after what you said, Architecture. Engineering has its pride, you know? We’re gonna have to settle this the old-fashioned way.”

 

Pran never stopped to consider if he was brave or stupid when he did things like run right into the middle of a fight to stand by his friend. He definitely saw some fangs. And he didn’t have any.

 

But as an architecture student, he’d studied the floor plans of the university extensively as part of the curriculum for public buildings. They were technically still on campus .

 

“What’s going on?” Pran asked.

 

Block Brows scoffed. “Your little beta friend came sniffing around to pick a fight! We decided to bring him one.”

 

Pran rolled his eyes. Did everything have to involve dynamics when wolves were involved? Couldn’t they argue over normal things?

 

Maybe Pran really should’ve listened when Wai tried to explain everything. “Okay,” he called, projecting his voice to the group. “Do we really want to do this here? We’re too close to the school, and I know half of architecture and engineering has gotten suspended before for fighting.”

 

“What, are you scared?” Block Brows asked, stepping closer into Pran’s space.

 

Without thinking, Pran reached behind him to keep Wai back, holding his friend at bay when he tried to surge forward. Block Brows might be a wolf, but Pran could take care of himself. Pran cleared his throat—not out of nerves, but to command attention. “No one from architecture is afraid of you. If you want to fight, name any other time and place. Just preferably somewhere without security nearby and where anyone with a cellphone could send a video to the dean . You know we’re on campus—”

 

Pussy .”

 

Pran clenched his jaw, already making a fist to swing.

 

But Wai beat him to it, sprinting past Pran to slam Block Brows on the chin with a right hook.

 

“Shit!” Pran yelled, surrounded by a surge of architecture and engineering students as he joined the fray. He’d been in scraps his whole childhood, but it had been a few years. Boarding school was a totally different atmosphere from growing up next to Pat’s family. Lonelier and harder, but also way less prone to fights.

 

Pran’s distraction caught him a blow to the gut, and he almost gagged. Damn , some of the engineering kids hit hard .

 

Maybe it was the werewolf thing?

 

Pran dodged another punch and shoved someone into someone else, creating a gap in the melee just long enough for Pran to see him . Pat. They stood mere feet apart, eyes locked. Pat was barely even breathing hard, the asshole.

 

Where had he even come from? It didn’t really matter. Pran squared up, ready.

 

“I’m not gonna fight you,” Pat announced, but just quiet enough to stay between the two of them.

 

Pran scowled. “And why not? We fought all the time before I got shipped off to boarding school.” He took a swing at Pat, who dodged way too easily for Pran’s pride. Were they really about to have a full-on conversation in the middle of a brawl?

 

“It’s… I… We…” Pat’s face twisted. “I shouldn’t have done that, back then. You’re human. It wasn't—”

 

“Fuck off .”

 

Pran swung high, only suppressing a smirk when Pat went low to meet his waiting fist sinking into his gut. That got Pat’s attention, and before he knew it they were fighting like before.

 

The fight continued only until someone shouted, “The dean is coming!”

 

+++

 

For some reason, having clear video evidence of an architecture/engineering MMA fight that close to campus but stopping before the dean arrived wasn’t enough to get anyone out of trouble.

 

Pran and Pat stood before the architecture and engineering deans, heads low and hands linked behind their backs in twin shows of contrition.

 

“Pran,” the architecture dean said, arms crossed and voice laced with disappointment. “You’ve made such a good impact at our school so far. You just transferred in this year and already got voted architecture class president for your year. I don’t want your good reputation to be tarnished by this ridiculous feud.”

 

The engineering dean grunted in agreement. “You as well, Pat. You’re an excellent student, and you’re well on your way to making the school rugby team. I’d hate to see your chances ruined by a negative school record. I’m sure your father would, as well.”

 

Pat’s head jerked up. “Wait, please don’t tell my dad. I promise I’ll do everything to make the rugby team and won’t fight any more. I swear, it means so much to my dad—”

 

Pran spoke at the same time. “I promise we won’t fight anymore! I can’t have this going on my permanent record, my parents would freak out—”

 

The architecture dean held up his hands. “Quiet, boys. Nothing is irreparable. Yet . Both of your good reputations have saved your faculties.” The boys relaxed. “ For now .” They tensed again.

 

The engineering dean nodded. “This silly rivalry between architecture and engineering is damaging both to the school and our departments. Our faculties are meant to work in harmony. After graduation, you’ll work with each other all the time. You should practice now so you don’t start a cage match in your future offices.”

 

Pran and Pat glanced at each other, brows furrowed. What were their deans saying?

 

“Do you know the bus stop between our faculties?” the architecture dean asked.

 

The boys nodded.

 

The engineering dean grinned. “Everyone involved in the fight in both faculties is officially charged to clean it up. It’s been a battleground between your groups too many times, and needs to be fixed. While you’re there, you can also clean up all the trash and pick the weeds. When the architecture faculty returns from the zero waste trip next week, you’ll get started.”

 

Pran’s stomach dropped, and Pat’s face reflected a similar feeling. But the deans were already nodding, dismissing them both with sharp warnings to behave, or face more serious consequences.

 

Pran and Pat both stumbled into the hall, eyes meeting with dread.

 

“This isn’t gonna end well,” Pat said.

 

Pran snorted. “Tell me about it. Architecture and engineering are enemies. I just transferred in and I know that. There’s no way we’ll be able to work together.”

 

Pat sighed, crossing his arms and tapping his foot. “But we have to.”

 

Pran nodded. The deans had spoken, and it would be hell to pay if their faculties didn’t listen. “We have to make a plan. Something to make them work together. But we also need to keep our secrets.”

 

“Right,” Pat nodded. “If the guys knew I lived next to an architecture student, I’d never hear the end of it.”

 

“Same,” Pran agreed.

 

Students made a commotion at the other end of the hall, and the boys jumped apart. When had they moved so close together?

 

“Okay, we can’t talk here,” Pran said, rubbing his hands up and down his arms. “Someone might see us.”

 

“Yeah,” Pat sighed, running a hand through his hair. That fell disgustingly charmingly into his face after his hand dropped. Pran sneered. “Well… We live next door to each other. How about we just plan at my place?”

 

Pran’s immediate instinct was to say no, but he let himself work through the problem logically. They couldn’t plan anywhere at school. The odds were too high that anyone could walk in on them. But he didn’t want to go to Pat’s apartment… But he also didn’t want Pat in his apartment.

 

“Okay,” Pran agreed. “Let’s go. But you first! Someone might see us.”

 

“How hard did you have to think your way to realizing I had the right idea?”

 

Pran rolled his eyes, ignoring Pat’s immediate grin. Why was his smile so bright ? Didn’t he know how annoying that was?

 

Pat sidled closer with a croon when Pran didn’t have a smart response. “What, realizing how backed into a corner we are?” His face was close, so close Pran should’ve moved away.

 

He didn’t.

 

“We can’t not work together,” Pat continued. “But neither of us want to.”

 

Pran sighed. “Let’s not make this any harder than it is, okay?”

 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Pat leaned in closer. Pran could feel Pat’s nose on his cheek . And he sniffed .

 

“What the fuck ?!” Pran exclaimed, leaping back only to see Pat’s insufferable smile.

 

“You smell good,” Pat whined, walking after Pran as he kept stepping back, not wanting the other boy in his space. “Well, underneath all that stench your beta friend left behind.”

 

Pran held up his hands and planted his feet, trying to get Pat to stop. He didn’t anticipate Pat walking right into his hold, so Pran’s hands were on his… chest. His very firm chest.

 

“None of that weird wolf stuff,” Pran said. “Wai is my best friend and I’ve never cared a day that he’s a wolf. Or even that you’re a wolf. We have enough problems without bringing all that stuff into it.”

 

Pat just grinned wider and the only way Pran could describe it was… wolfish .

 

“Sure, for now,” Pat said. Then, he turned and walked away. He called over his shoulder, “But I am what I am, Ai Pran .”


The way his name slithered over the space between them and curled around Pran like a blanket made him shiver. He just shook his head and sighed, murmuring to himself, “What does that even mean ?”

 

Chapter Text

Pat’s apartment was… totally normal. There was nothing especially wolf-ish about it. When Pran thought about it, though, Wai’s apartment was also totally normal.

 

Pran slid his backpack to the floor, trying to pretend this whole situation was totally normal. The apartment had the kitchen, seating area and bathroom more in the front, with the bedroom area in an alcove further back. If Pran had to think about it, he might’ve said the room resembled a den. But no more than anyone else’s would have with the same apartment layout.

 

My apartment is nicer , he thought to himself. Which was rude, but there was a reason he didn’t say it out loud.

 

Pat stood in the space with his arms crossed but a proud smirk on his face. Pran couldn’t resist asking, “Do you wake up at 3am to relentlessly hunt down mosquitoes until you catch them?”

 

Wai did it—he’d even done it a few times sleeping over at Pran’s. But Pat flushed from his cheeks to his hairline, all the way down his neck. Which led Pran to believe he’d hit the nail on the head.

 

“They’re infiltrating my territory,” Pat explained, bordering on a whine. “You wouldn’t understand. You’re just a—”

 

Pat paused, but Pran finished for him, “A human, I know.”

 

Honestly, at times like this, he didn’t mind. Mosquitoes were annoying, but he was happy to use room sprays and a net in the worst of the season. He couldn’t imagine losing out on precious sleep just because a bug dared to enter his domain.

 

Buzz, buzz, ” Pran said, sauntering up to Pat. “I’m invading your territory.”

 

Pat met him step for step, refusing to back down. Pran blinked once, refusing to give Pat any more than that. He’d forgotten the other had three centimeters on him. Suddenly, it felt like a meter.

 

But it wasn’t. Because Pat’s face was still unbearably close. “That’s different,” he said, leaning into Pat’s space, “because I invited you. And you came right in.”

 

Some primal kind of… awareness slithered down Pran’s spine, but he refused to be cowed and only stood up straighter. Which shrunk those three centimeters between them even more.

 

Was this something about being an alpha prime, like Wai said? He’d certainly never felt this way around him, Louis or Safe. Maybe he finally needed to listen when Wai tried to explain this kind of stuff to him. With Pat around, ignorance didn’t seem like an option anymore.

 

“Yeah,” Pran blustered, walking past Pat further into the apartment. It was technically conceding defeat, but he couldn’t just stand there and look into Pat’s challenging, teasing eyes anymore. “And I’m starting to regret it. Five minutes in and you haven’t offered me a drink or snack or anything.” He turned around and sat unceremoniously on the ground, arms crossed. He hated giving Pat the upper hand—literally—by sitting down while he was standing, but he wanted to act unbothered even more.

 

Pat had turned to follow Pat’s movements, his eyes almost glowing in the light when Pran took a proprietary seat. “You want me to feed you?” he asked slowly, tilting his head.

 

Pran swallowed, throat suddenly dry. Pat’s voice suddenly took on a… tone . Pran couldn’t describe it.

 

“Yeah,” Pran said, charging forward anyway. Suddenly, he felt like a mouse in the sights of a hawk. “You offered to host, right? You’re not being very hospitable.”

 

Pat just grinned, slow and wide. “Sure. I’ll feed you.”

 

Why did he have to say it like that? Pran was almost certain he was missing something, but he couldn’t just ask.

 

Pat gathered a few things on a tray and brought them to his low table, sitting them between him and Pran. Even the table between them didn’t feel like enough. Pat held out a glass of water, bringing his other hand around like he was going to help Pran drink. “Anything else, Ai Khun Chai ?”

 

Pran grabbed a handful of popcorn and threw it at Pat. The other boy fell back with a laugh, catching a few pieces in his mouth. “What is it, little prince?” he asked around the food, making Pran gag. Talking with your mouth open was disgusting. “You wanted me to be a good host, right?”

 

Pran rolled his eyes and stuffed jelly candy into his mouth. “Let’s just get this over with. What’s our plan?”

 

After an hour with only minimal headbutting, they had a decent plan. They’d text to coordinate their groups, keeping them working together with a good amount of healthy competition but avoiding each other at every other time to prevent a fight. Between the two of them, they also demolished the snacks.

 

When they finalized their plans, Pat sat back and took a deep breath, head tilted back to display the long line of his neck. Pran suddenly needed a drink of his water—totally unrelated to the neck thing.

 

“What do I smell like?” Pran asked suddenly, unable to keep the question from springing out of his mouth. Maybe the snacks had made him weak.

 

The room was silent as the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. Pat slowly lowered his head, fixing Pran with a penetrating look. “Has Wai not told you anything about our kind?” His voice was deep, like dark chocolate.

 

Pran sputtered. “I… I mean, it’s never been an issue. He’s my best friend, and I’m his. He tells me we’re a pack, or whatever. I’ve never needed to know.”

 

Pat tilted his head. It was an almost animalistic gesture, though Pran couldn’t pinpoint why it was different from any normal head tilt. “Do you know the English story, Little Red Riding Hood ?”

 

“Of course… What, should I say oh Pat, what big teeth you have ?”

 

“I wouldn’t mind.”

 

“Fuck off.”

 

Pat grinned but shook his head. “No, that’s not it. But you’re reminding me a lot of Little Red right now.”

 

“I’m 183 centimeters tall you ass —”

 

“Walking right into the wolf’s trap without a worry in the world.”

 

That shut Pran’s mouth immediately. Pat smoothly got to his feet like someone pouring spilled water back into a glass. He prowled slowly around the table and sat back down in front of Pran, leaning into his space. Pran refused to lean back, holding his ground until he and Pat were almost sharing breath.

 

Pat took a deep breath, his eyelids fluttering. “Scent is intimate for us. Talking about it, even. Asking what you smell like from me is like… asking what I think your cum tastes like.”

 

Pat —!”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” he said, but grabbed Pran’s arms to keep him from retreating. “But since you asked .” Pat leaned in and took another deep breath from right by Pran’s cheek, turning in just slightly to rub his nose on Pran’s skin. “You smell… It’s hard to describe. Fresh, like laundry or spa soap, earthy but clean. But also like a human man. A little musky. Weaker than a wolf scent, but…” Another deep breath. “ Intoxicating .”

 

Blood flooded Pran’s cheeks. “Sorry I fucking asked ,” he snapped, scooting back as far as his long legs would let him. As soon as he had space, he shot to his feet and grabbed his bag. “This was a bad idea. I mean, we have a good plan. But I should’ve known better than to…” He paused, but shook his head. “No, it’s better this way. I’m sick of us constantly at odds. We’ll talk to keep our friends from fighting, but aside from that… No more.”

 

Pat tilted his head, still sprawled inelegantly on the ground. “I don’t know… I thought that before, but don’t we get along pretty well?”

 

Pran huffed. “How can you say that?”

 

“We just spent a whole hour together without fighting. Until now, that is. I think you like me.”

 

Pran gaped, gripping his bag like a lifeline. “I… I have never … If anything, you like me! You keep talking about my scent and… And…!”

 

“Your cum?”

 

“Oh my god ,” Pran groaned, dragging a hand down his face. “You’re disgusting.”

 

“You brought it up!”

 

“I did not !”

 

Pat just grinned. “I bet you like me. I bet you’ll tell me soon, too.”

 

A bet ? Oh, Pran couldn’t back down from that . Especially not coming from Pat, of all people. “No way. You’ll tell me ages before I tell you. You’re so obsessed with me, I wouldn’t be surprised if you broke into my room to steal my laundry.”

 

“Don’t tempt me.”

 

Beast .”

 

“And don’t you forget it.”

 

Pran grit his teeth. “Bet fucking on , asshole. Whoever confesses first loses.” He held out a hand.

 

Pat jumped to his feet and instantly grabbed Pran’s hand, shaking it firmly. Pran gripped back, the perfect mix of firm but yielding, just like his father taught him.

 

“Deal,” Pat said.

 

Deal .”

 

+++

 

Pat laid on his floor even hours later, unable to leave the spot where Pran had been sitting. It still smelled like that gorgeous mix of fresh earth, herbs, and linen… It drove Pat wild .

 

Pran had come into his den . It wasn’t often Pat let his baser instincts rule him, but he was a werewolf. One entity, combined of man and beast. There weren't two separate sets of thoughts and instincts. It was just Pat. And Pat couldn’t deny what he wanted anymore: Pran .

 

But he had to play it right. Pran was a worthy mate… boyfriend , he mentally corrected. Mate usually sounded weird to people. He was smart, kind (to people other than Pat) and so stupidly, incredibly brave. Pat had been terrified when Pran jumped into the middle of the architecture and engineering fight, but also couldn’t deny his admiration and pride. Pran saw no disadvantage, only an opportunity to protect his friend.

 

The beta would probably be a problem… Pat grinned, imagining Wai smelling Pat’s stronger, superior alpha prime scent on Pran. Unless he showered—vigorously—it would be unmistakable. Pran would surely be able to think of some excuse to explain it away, but it would lay the groundwork. Pat was stronger, faster, and had stronger instincts than Wai. A beta was no competition.

 

Maybe he should’ve warned Pran about his scent, but… Where was the fun in that?

Chapter Text

Pran couldn’t ignore what was happening anymore. He needed more information on wolves, but… How could he ask Wai without spilling everything that was going on?

 

Well… He did, technically, have an excuse. Architecture and engineering had to work together for the foreseeable future. It would be easy to explain away as having to coordinate with Pat and the engineering crew. In the past, Pran might have let Wai handle it all, but… It was about time he took control of his own life and got the information he should’ve gotten ages ago.

 

He stood stock-still in his room and took a deep breath. Before he could chicken out, he pulled out his phone and shot a text to Wai, What’s up?

 

The response came quickly. With Safe and Louis, trying to decide what to eat. You done with the deans?

 

Yeah… Got some bad news.

 

The messaging bubbles appeared, disappeared, appeared, disappeared… Shit . Pran laughed. Wai was eloquent as always. Meet us for lunch. Nasty Noodles.

 

Be there in 10.

 

Pran locked his phone, grabbed his bag, and left. He paused for a moment outside Pat’s door… For some reason. “Control yourself, bitch,” Pran murmured to himself, striding out of the building.

 

+++

 

Nasty Noodles was the best, cheapest noodle shop near campus. Obviously, it was super popular with students. Pran saw Louis, Safe and Wai sitting at a table for four by the window, and easily ran in and took the empty seat for himself.

 

“You won’t believe—”

 

Woah ,” Louis, sitting next to him, almost yelled. He brought a hand to his face and covered his nose and mouth, eyes narrowed as he glared at Pran. “What the fuck, dude?”

 

Pran furrowed his eyebrows, looking between his three friends as they all adopted a similar pose to Louis, Wai even coughing a few times, eyes watering .

 

“What?!” Pran asked, crossing his arms and glaring between his three friends. “Are you guys fucking with me? I really don’t need it after—”

 

“Why do you smell like that?” Wai asked, coughing behind his hand.

 

Pran sniffed his arm, then his opposite shoulder. He smelled… like himself. Normal. His shampoo and lotion faded from a long day. Maybe a little like sweat from the fight. “I can’t stress enough that I literally have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

Safe gagged. “You smell like someone pissed on you.”

 

Excuse me ?”

 

Wai smacked the back of Safe’s head. “Not quite like that ,” Wai explained, picking up his bowl of noodles—they’d ordered without him, assholes—and taking a deep breath. He kept the bowl near his face to say, “You smell like… God, I don’t know how to describe this in a way you’ll understand, since you refuse to learn about wolf stuff.”

 

Pran groaned, dragging a hand through his hair. Next to him, Louis gagged. “Just tell me. I’m thinking it’s way past time I learn how all this works, anyway.”

 

Wai sighed. “Finally. First, Louis? Can you, like… fix him?”

 

“I don’t know,” Louis said doubtfully. “Whoever did that to him might bite my dick off.”

 

Wai rolled his eyes and stood up, leaning over the table to wipe his wrist across Pran’s neck. Pran made exaggerated faces in protest, but didn’t say anything or try to pull away. He was more than used to this by now, but he’d never been scented so… Publicly. And thoroughly. Once Wai had swiped both sides of his neck, Louis and Safe joined in until Pran felt like an old blanket constantly worried between an angry baby’s fingers.

 

“Okay, okay!” Pran waved his friends away, taking a big serving of the yom wun sen and khanom chin nam ya everyone was sharing. He shoved a bite of the spicy, curry-topped khanom chin nam ya into his mouth. “Explain, please.”

 

“Uh oh,” Safe said. “He’s talking with his mouth full. You know he’s stressed and serious.”

 

Wai nodded and leaned forward. “Okay, so. Everything in the world has a scent. Even humans can smell a lot of things. But werewolves have much stronger senses. With me so far?” Pran nodded. He knew that, at least. “So, werewolves scent members of their pack and their family. We do that with you, and each other. Scent glands are in the neck, wrist, and the… Um…”

 

Pran sighed. “Just say it.”

 

Louis leaned forward. “Your dick and ass!”

 

Pran rolled his eyes. “Of course. Continue, please.” He was going to have to get less awkward about talking about these kinds of things in public to have these conversations.

 

“So, scent is a way we communicate. It tells other wolves who're in a pack, who you’ve seen that day, or… Who you’ve fucked, basically.”

 

Of course .

 

“It’s called scent marking someone. And to scent mark someone on purpose who isn’t in your pack is…”

 

“Basically,” Safe explained. “Like throwing a molotov cocktail into someone’s house. Or… maybe walking into someone’s house and saying it’s your house now and kicking them out?”

 

Wai shrugged. “There isn’t a perfect analogy. But packs are territory, basically. Not that we’re each other’s territory, but… We are? But not in a bad way! It’s like a family and safety thing, since we’ve all left home. It’s a belonging thing. So, scent marking someone in someone else’s pack is like declaring your intent to… Steal them away?”

 

Pran contemplatively chewed a big bite of noodles. “Can you scent someone by accident? Like, if you have to be in a room with them for a while?”

 

“Uhhhhhh.” Wai tilted his head. “Maybe? If their scent was like, crazy strong. Not a standard scent. It’s not really probable, though.”

 

Pran hummed. Wai had said Pat was something called an alpha prime. His scent was probably super strong, which could explain the scent mark thing. No way he’d done it on purpose.

 

“Okay, but spill,” Safe said. “Who have you been around? You didn’t smell this way this morning.”

 

Pran put his noodles down, took a deep breath, and wove his story. Most of it was true! He told his friends about the punishment from the deans, and how they’d have to work with engineering. And how he’d had to spend a lot of time around Pat, both being scolded then coordinating their groups. Which he implied was in a school-sanctioned location, and not Pat’s apartment. “And you said he was an alpha prime, right?” Pran asked Wai rhetorically. “So, I’m sure it was just being around his scent a lot. He must’ve been upset about the punishment.”

 

The other three looked skeptical, but Louis nodded. “I guess, if he was upset enough. And if he was near his rut. Did either of you smell anything today?”

 

Wai and Safe shook their heads. “We didn’t have much time, considering the fighting.”

 

“Wait,” Pran said. “What’s a rut? I’ve heard the word, but…”

 

Wai sighed. “You never wanted to know, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. All wolves have cycles, but it’s stronger in alphas and omegas. You feel sick, your emotions are super heightened, and you can want to fuck or get fucked. Betas also have them, but less strong. It depends on how dominant you are, which way you lean during your cycle. It can last three days to a week. These days, there’s plenty of medicine and therapies so wolves can participate in society during their cycle like normal, but… It’s like a girl being on her period, basically. You might have headaches, or be more irritable. But imagine if you had to miss that much school or work? No way, it’s the modern day. It’s not a picnic, but it’s really not as bad as wolves used to have it.”

 

A cycle… Like a girl’s period? Pran let the instinctive urge to reject any thought of a woman’s menstrual cycle roll through him before he examined that information logically.

 

Had Pat seemed unusually emotional? Yeah, that explained why he’d been acting the way he did. Maybe it was mood swings.

 

Should he bring Pat something, maybe to make him feel better? To keep him off Pran’s back, of course. He didn’t want to deal with the whole scenting thing again, and whatever had been up with Pat.

 

And if Pat died and someone figured out they were neighbors, Pran would definitely get blamed. The rift between their families would last ten generations, at least. Pran couldn’t let that happen, as annoying as Pat and his family were. He didn’t want to doom his descendants to this feud.

 

A sudden thought had Pran almost choking on his noodles. “Can these cycles be… I don’t know, dangerous? For the wolf, or people around them?”

 

Wai shrugged. “Not really. Not unless you’re scared of a little irritability. A long time ago, before all the medicine and stuff, alphas could be super dangerous and omegas were kidnapped a lot. But also, since werewolves are born and not made, everyone is pretty clear on what to expect by the time they get to the age where their cycle starts.”

 

Pran hummed. Everyone knew you had to be born a werewolf. It was one of the main reasons they’d been so easily accepted into society—even if they went wild and bit a bunch of people, there was no way to turn a human into a werewolf. They could still have children with humans, of course, but the percent chance of a kid being born a werewolf kept their population hovering at around the same fifteen percent it always had been.

 

“But seriously,” Wai continued. “Be careful with Pat. Alpha primes have crazy strong instincts, and they can be unpredictable.”

 

“Should I be… worried?”

 

Wai shrugged. “Depends on what you’re worried about. He won’t hurt you or anything, unless he wants some serious legal repercussions. And as annoying as he is, no wolf is the type to hurt someone just for the sake of it, unless they’ve got way bigger issues going on. Just like anyone. But… You’re a human, so you’ll miss a lot of the cues.” Wai scowled. “Honestly, he’s probably just trying to fuck with me. Asshole.”

 

Pran wasn’t sure, but Wai was right. As a human, there was a lot of wolf stuff that was outside his understanding.

 

“I may have other questions, but thanks for the crash course,” Pran said. “But now we should probably plan how to break the news of working with engineering to our faculty.”

 

+++

 

Pran felt ridiculous, but he just couldn’t stop himself. He debated the whole way to Pat’s door if he was being stupid or not, but he couldn’t make himself return the things he’d bought or take them to his own place.

 

He hovered in the space between his and Pat’s apartments, biting his lip red with indecision.

 

Finally, Pran took a deep breath and knocked on Pat’s door. Before he could run into his own apartment and hide, the door slowly—almost ominously—opened.

 

Pat’s room was dark, and most of him was obscured in shadow. His face emerged from the inky blackness like water, and Pran locked his jaw to pretend he wasn’t slightly intimidated.

 

Pat’s eyes dragged up Pran’s body, finally settling on his face. Pran frowned and asked, “Are you sick? You look feverish.”

 

Pat laughed, short and breathy. His brown eyes, usually bright with mischief or humor, were almost glazed. “I’m definitely feverish, but I’m not sick. Don’t worry about it. What’s wrong?”

 

“Why does something have to be wrong?” Pran asked, crossing his arms defensively.

 

Pat tilted his head, face strangely expressionless compared to his usual playful behavior. Pran was getting more worried. “Why else would you be here?” Pat took a deep breath, eyes fluttering shut for a moment. “Does it have something to do with why your pack’s scent is smothered all over you?”

 

“I…” Pran shook his head. “I talked to Wai, but that’s not important. I just…” Pran held out the plastic bag. “This is for you.”

 

Pat took it slowly, confusing furrowing his brow. Pran was already walking back when Pat’s hand shot out, holding his wrist. “Wait a second.” When it became clear Pran wouldn’t run, he opened the bag and pulled out the contents one by one, looking both happy and confused. “Pain killers—the werewolf kind, good on you—a hot water bottle, a cold compress for my eyes, and… chocolate. I don’t… Why did you get me these?”

 

Pran’s face was bright red, but he stuttered his way through an explanation. “I met with Wai, Safe and Louis earlier—I didn’t tell them anything, so don’t worry—and they mentioned you’re probably near some… Like… Cycle thing, based on your scent. I didn’t… I don’t want you to die or whatever when I’m right across the hall, so I just… You’re irresponsible, so I assumed you wouldn’t have anything to take care of yourself. Pa would be distraught if something happened to you.”

 

That’s right, blame the sister. Safe bet.

 

Pat’s grin only got bigger as Pran talked, until he finally couldn’t hold back a laugh. “You were worried about me, so you… What, you’re treating me like a girl on her period?”

 

Asshole ,” Pran said reflexively against the accusation, but only shrugged in the end. “Listen, Wai didn’t go into heavy detail, so I don’t really know what’s going on—”

 

“Do you want to know?” Pat asked.

 

Pran froze. There was a weight to Pat’s question. Like the meaning went beyond the order of words Pran could understand.

 

Pat tilted his head, eyes gleaming with a predatory light. He let the bag drop to the ground and grabbed Pran’s unresisting hand, reeling him closer and closer to the door frame. Pran desperately looked around, but the hall was abandoned.

 

Once he was close enough, Pat… dropped his head on Pran’s shoulder, taking several deep, deep breaths. “I’ve been laying in the spot you sat in all afternoon,” Pat said. “Your scent in my territory is driving me crazy… But not as crazy as you standing here, right now, no idea what you did by knocking on my door…”

 

Pran felt a thrill up his spine, but not of fear. Of something… he wasn’t ready to name.

 

Pat turned his head, lips and nose dangerously close to Pran’s skin. He exhaled, the warmth of his breath tickling over Pran’s skin and making him jerk. Pat’s other hand—the one not holding his—snapped to Pran’s back and fisted in his shirt, holding him in place.

 

“What are you doing?” Pran asked, hating how quiet he sounded. Something about the moment was holding him in thrall. He wouldn’t have moved even if he could, the iron of Pat’s arms holding him in place.

 

Pat took another deep breath, his face pressing closer like he wanted to crawl under Pran’s skin. “You should come inside,” he crooned, his voice deep and dark. “We can have fun. I promise you’ll like it…”

 

Pran could easily imagine what Pat was talking about, and that was the slap of reality—and spark of heat, low and deep—that sent him reeling back. Pat easily let him go, burning eyes following him as he stumbled across the hall to his door.

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Pran said. “I should’ve just… left. Wai said you’re sick or something—?”

 

A deep, vicious noise tore out of Pat’s throat, and Pran went silent at the shocking flash of fang. “Don’t talk about him right now. I’m right here. Shouldn’t you be talking about me ?”

 

Pran was just more confused. What did Wai have to do with anything? He just shook his head and held up his hands, surrendering to the craziness of the moment. He was still breathing hard from that little moment, heat coiling low in his stomach. “Whatever.” Without turning around, he fumbled with his door key. It felt wrong to turn his back on Pat right now. Some deep instinct kept the werewolf in his sights. “Anyway, if you need anything, call Pa. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t die, or whatever. Hope you feel better.” The door opened and Pran almost fell back into his apartment. “Bye!” He slammed the door shut between them.

 

The last thing he saw was Pat’s hungry face, twisted into a smirk. His dark eyes were bright as a bonfire, gleaming with flashes of red.

 

Pran dragged his hands down his face now that he was alone. “He had red eyes when Wai and I first saw him,” Pran mumbled, robotically going to the kitchen and getting a cold glass of water. “Does he want to fight me or something?”

 

Pran drank the cool water, trying to calm the burn in his body. His phone chirped, and Pran checked it without thinking.

 

It was from Wai. What shoes are you bringing on the zero waste trip?

 

Pran took a deep breath and nodded to himself, marching to his room. He had bigger things to worry about than Pat. The trip was in a few days, and he’d be able to get away from the weirdness that happened whenever they were together.

 

Yeah, that’s what they needed. Some time apart.

Chapter Text

Why did Pran even try to make plans? Normally, his life was orderly and fate bent to his will. He went to school, made good grades, and had a regular life.

 

Then, Pat. It was always Pat. Like him showing up on the morning of the zero waste trip with a backpack and an easy grin.

 

Pran hadn’t seen him since their… showdown in the hallway. They didn’t share any classes and the deans hadn’t made them meet again, so aside from living across the hall, there wasn’t really  a reason they should’ve met again. But it just seemed odd, after the way they left things.

 

But Pat seemed back to normal, trotting up to the group just as they were about to get on the buses.

 

Wai was already puffing up, standing taller like he would shoulder Pat away from the area with just his pecs. Pran rolled his eyes, but thankfully the architecture dean stepped in. “Oh, I forgot to mention! Pat from the engineering faculty also wanted to join our trip, and the dean and I decided it would be an excellent idea.” He narrowed his eyes specifically at Wai. “Our faculties are under a truce, correct? Pran told everyone about working with engineering?”

 

Everyone nodded, glum and grumbling.

 

“Then we should all get started early on teamwork and welcome Pat on to our trip. Okay, let’s load the buses!”

 

Pat ran up to Pran and grinned, ignoring Wai glaring daggers at him and grumbling to Louis and Safe. “I wanted to talk about after the trip,” Pat said, eyes on Pran but clearly announcing it to Wai, Safe and Louis, also. “If your guard dogs find that acceptable.”

 

Pran held out a hand to Wai as his friend surged forward, and he looked over his shoulder. “I’m fine, I swear. Don’t let him get to you. How about you three get on the bus?”

 

Safe and Louis wrestled Wai away, and Pran turned back to Pat with his arms crossed. “What are you doing here? Do your parents know you’re lowering yourself to come on an architecture trip?”

 

“You said it, not me.”

 

Pran rolled his eyes, held up a hand in Pat’s face, and turned to walk away. He was done engaging with Pat if that was how he was going to act—

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Pat said, grabbing Pran’s head and spinning him around. His grip was warm and strong—Pran didn’t think he’d be able to pull away if he tried—but still shockingly gentle. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Please just…”

 

Pran took a deep breath and clenched his jaw, pointedly extricating his hand from Pat’s grip. “No bullshit. This is supposed to be an architecture trip. Why are you here?”

 

“The official reason?” Pat asked with a smile. “Inter-faculty bonding to facilitate our bonding to expedite the punishment we have to start when we come back.

 

“And unofficially?” Pran asked, raising his eyebrows. “Because it sounds like you just threw up the engineering dean’s thesaurus.”

 

Pat scrunched his nose and tilted his head. There was a mischief in his eyes that made Pran want to run. “Well, we made a deal, didn’t we? I can’t just let you go off for days without me when I’ve got something to prove.”

 

“What—?” Realization slammed into Pran and set his cheeks on fire.

 

I bet you like me. I bet you’ll tell me soon, too.

 

Bet fucking on , asshole. Whoever confesses first loses.

 

And to make matters worse, it was Pran who’d sealed the bet. What had he been thinking ? Their entire childhood had been petty fights and bets and arguments, and neither of them ever gave in until it was fulfilled. Pran had forgotten about it in the wake of everything he’d learned, but Pat clearly hadn’t. And if their history was anything to go by, he wouldn’t let it go.

 

Then again, Pran would be offended if he did. He wasn’t in any danger of actually falling for Pat, childhood whatever they’d had notwithstanding.

 

What would be the point, anyway? Considering their families, they’d never be able to do anything about it…

 

Pran shook his head, trying to physically disengage from those thoughts.

 

Pat’s grin widened, misinterpreting Pran’s actions. “Forget about it already, Pran?”

 

“Whatever,” Pran snapped. “Do what you want. If the deans approved it, we can’t stop you anyway. But you should probably be careful, but half the people here want to kick your ass.”

 

Pat adjusted the duffle bag on his shoulder and stood up tall. “I’d like to see them try.”

 

They got on the bus and Pran quickly slipped into the empty seat by Safe. Louis was by Wai, keeping him distracted and in his seat. Pran ignored Pat’s wounded pout as he walked to his own seat.

 

Pran wanted to think he’d just avoid Pat on the trip, easy peasy. But every single one of his plans concerning the other had been laid to waste either by circumstance or Pat himself. As he sat back and shared an earbud with Safe, he instead took the time on the trip to prepare for dealing with Pat.

 

The trip was only a few days, but Pran had the sinking feeling he was about to enter the gauntlet.

 

+++

 

Tong was a nice guy and seemed like a good dad, but Pran wanted to kill him when he shouted, “Everyone partner up!”

 

Louis kept to Wai, trying to make sure he stayed calm during the trip and didn’t try to fight Pat and ruin the whole thing for everyone. Pran couldn’t be mad at him for that.

 

But Safe? He was on Pran’s shit list the second he partnered up with some cute girl standing fifteen feet away. Seriously, weren’t they a pack? Wasn’t Safe supposed to be watching out for him, especially knowing—

 

Hello ,” Pat’s voice made Pran roll his eyes and turn around with a glare at the ready. Pat pretended to shiver. “Ooo, the ice prince is freezing my heart with his glare… Have pity on this humble wolf—”

 

“Why would I pity a stray mutt scratching at my door?”

 

“Maybe because you secretly like the mutt and it makes you smile and laugh…?”

 

Pran bit his lips flat to prevent a smile. “Ridiculous. I would never.”

 

They stepped closer. Something about a game where they had to stand on increasingly smaller squares, maybe? Pran had suddenly forgotten everything Tong explained.

 

“Really?” Pat asked with a wide, white grin that definitely didn’t tug at Pran’s chest. Maybe he’d eaten something bad for lunch? Or he’d been sitting too long on the bus? Pat took a deep breath, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment. “Because you don’t smell particularly annoyed or upset…”

 

Pran shoved Pat, annoyed when the other only wobbled and didn’t fall. They had to step closer together then, barely a flat handsworth between them now. “Fuck off, there’s no way you can smell that.”

 

“On the contrary. Just ask your little pack. Besides, as far as wolves go, I’m pretty special in that department.”

 

Pran rolled his eyes. “You’re special, alright.”

 

“But since we officially started courting, I definitely can smell—”

 

Courting ? The fuck?”

 

They had to step closer. Pat’s smile never wavered and he tilted his head like a curious puppy. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll talk about it later.”

 

“I’ll just ask Wai.”

 

They stepped closer again, touching from chest to knees with their feet between each other. Pran only just realized their predicament, thankful the cool sea breeze kept his cheeks from burning red. Their faces were so close , Pran’s fierce eyes boring into Pran’s. 

 

Pat scowled, hands gripping Pran’s forearms abruptly and dragging him just a little closer. His hands were warm and firm, not letting Pran wiggle away. “Why would you ask him? Just ask me.”

 

“I can’t trust what you have to say,” Pran insisted. “We have a bet, right?”

 

Pat scrunched his nose and opened his mouth, but Pran purposefully shifted his weight forward to send them both sprawling into the sand, quickly flopping off of Pat. “Oh no, we lost,” Pran said, jumping to his feet. Bye!”

 

And Pran did not run away. He just went back to his friends, who got out of the game much sooner.

 

That’s it.

 

+++

 

“Time to draw lots for who is staying together!” Tong announced at dinner after the group had a nice meal and relaxed by the beach.

 

Pran instantly tensed. Draw lots? Why?

 

“This trip is all about learning to thrive in new situations and teamwork. Picking your bunkmate goes against the spirit of the community. Except boys and girls won’t be staying together, so don’t get any ideas!”

 

The boys good-naturedly groaned, accompanying the girls’ trilling laughter. Pran just felt sick. The odds of him ending up with Pat were low, but when had luck ever been on his side where the other was concerned?

 

Safe, Louis and Wai surrounded him, shoving each other and teasing about rooming with the cute girls in their faculty or each other. Pat sat a ways off, talking easily with some of the architecture faculty that weren’t as obsessed with the feud. Pran narrowed his eyes. How had he made friends so fast? What was he saying to them? Was he smiling at them like—?

 

Pran clenched his fist, focusing on the feeling of his nails digging into his delicate palms. It doesn’t matter.

 

Everyone drew lots, and Tong had everyone hold up their card and match up. He gestured to Pran, who held up his mango card.

 

“Who has the other mango?” Tong asked.

 

And, of course, because fate hated Pran, Pat held up his card with a megawatt smile. “Me!”

 

Pran’s stomach sank. Fuck .

 

Later that night, as everyone was preparing to go to their respective homes to sleep, Pran knew something was wrong. Wai, Louis and Safe were acting suspicious as hell, shooting each other loaded glances and whispering when Pran was just out of earshot.

 

Pran slammed his drink on the wooden picnic table, summoning Safe, Louis and Wai’s attention. “Please tell me you three aren’t about to do something stupid and ruin this trip for our entire faculty,” he said, tone indicating that’s exactly what he expected his friends to do.

 

They glanced between each other again and Wai finally said, “We’re just gonna go show that engineering brat who’s boss. He’s rooming with you! Who knows what he’ll do—?”

 

Pran was already shaking his head. “P’Tong opened his home to our faculty and is trusting us to stay with people in the town. Do you want to be responsible for burning this bridge for the university? And guess who’ll get in trouble if you fight? Probably me .”

 

“You don’t get it,” Safe insisted. “It’s a wolf thing. He messed with you, and you're ours .”

 

The possessiveness of his friends had bothered Pran at first, especially when they were kids. Pran had always been pretty independent, easily able to get along on his own. Maybe because he was an only child, who knew? But over time he’d been able to accept that the wolves’ instincts didn’t really have anything to do with him . Wolves were just protective of their pack. Though Pran often suspected his human status ramped that up a few notches in his friends’ eyes, he’d never been able to get them to admit it.

 

Pran took a deep breath and scraped through his mind for anything that would keep his friends with him. “I was really hoping you’d stay with me tonight,” Pran said, letting some distress leak into his voice and forcing his eyes to mist. He wasn’t the best actor, but he could usually get a starter tear forming. “I didn’t want to say anything before we left but…”

 

His friends immediately surrounded him, asking probing questions and laying gentle hands on his back. Pran tried not to grin in premature victory.

 

“My… My mom found out about everything going on at school, and she destroyed my guitar in the driveway. Right when I was about to come here.”

 

“Wait, she gave it back?” Safe asked. “I thought she got rid of it ages ago.

 

Pran shook his head, biting his lip and digging his fingernails into his palm to force more tears. “No, I found it a few weeks ago. But she… She was so mad, and she just destroyed it right in front of me. All those years of memories, all the music I played on it…”

 

“Fuck, bro,” Louis said gently. “Let’s drink it off, man. That’s a surefire way to heal all wounds.”

 

Before the clock struck the next hour, Wai, Safe and Louis were slurring drunk. Werewolves could normally metabolize alcohol faster than humans, which was why they’d made sure to get LunarBomb—made for werewolves with just a touch of wolfsbane to inhibit their natural healing factor. Worked like a charm.

 

“Your mom is cool most of the time, but she’s gotta lay off,” Wai slurred, leaning into Pran. “So what if you have hobbies? You can’t just be an architecture robot all the time. And you’re so not the type to run off and like, join a band and live in an abandoned cafe and play gigs to get discovered .”

 

Pran blinked a few times, throwing back his next shot into the sand behind him. “That was…” Shocking? Insightful? Random as fuck? “... so true.” He dramatically covered his eyes with a hand. “I don’t know why she’s like this. It just hurt so much to see my guitar like that…”

 

“Another shot for the fallen hero!” Safe called, pouring another round for the table.

 

That went on for a while longer until they all stumbled, clearly blacked out, to their respective housing. Pran did his best to help. In the end, he finally tip-toed into Tong’s house—which he didn’t think about the fact that he was also sharing with Pat—and crept up to the bedroom.

 

The second he opened the door, an arm snaked out of the darkness and reeled him in. He opened his mouth to yell in some manly and definitely not high-pitched way, but he was quickly pressed against the closed door and a hand locked over his mouth.

 

“Shh…” Pat murmured, his voice surrounding Pran in the black room. “Don’t wake the house.”

 

Pran huffed, going to cross his arms before realizing Pat was much, much too close. He lowered his arms slowly back to his side. He tried to mumble that it wasn’t his fault Pat snatched him like some thief in the night, but Pat just squeezed his face a little tighter and…  Heat shot through Pran’s stomach and settled between his legs, setting his whole body on fire.

 

What the fuck?

 

“Don’t fuss,” Pat murmured, his voice coming closer until his mouth was right beside Pran’s neck. “I know, I know. I’m a terrible beast, but… I didn’t know where you were, and you came in reeking of your little beta friends… Can I just…?”

 

Pran froze, locked in a dichotomy of ice and fire, freezing and singing him in equal measure. Their bodies were pressed against each other closer than anything Pran had ever experienced. From his neck, chest, their hips — Every breath was like inhaling smoke, scorching and dizzying.

 

Pat leaned even closer. Pran gasped when Pat’s nose skimmed his neck from his collarbone slowly, meandering up to the hinge of his jaw.

 

Pat ,” Pran murmured through the other’s hand, but whatever else he would’ve said died with a gasp when something warm and wet dragged across his skin.

 

The spell was broken, and Pran threw his arms between them and threw Pat off. “What the fuck?!” Pran whisper-shouted. “Did… Did you just lick me?”

 

A lamp clicked on, casting a dim glow through the room. Pran’s blood was already boiling—and not in a fun way—at Pat’s shit-eating grin. “Sorry, but remember our bet? How are you supposed to confess to me if you’re always hanging around your friends and smelling like them?”

 

Pran rolled his eyes and jerked out his bedroll, laying it on the ground as far from Pat’s as possible. “Seriously, go investigate a garbage disposal with your dick.”

 

Pat pouted and whined, but eventually settled down on his own cot and turned off the lamp.

 

Laying in the dark room, Pran’s neck still burned like he’d been branded. Tentatively, his hand gently investigated the skin. It still felt the same to touch, but also like nothing was the same.

 

What was he supposed to do now?

Chapter Text

The next day, Pran didn’t know what to do with himself. They were leaving the zero waste village in a few days, and he felt like he was suffocating. Wai, Safe and Louis had calmed down enough to recognize that attacking Pat was a bad idea, so Pran was able to actually focus on the point of the trip and whatever was going on with him and Pat.

 

There was no use pretending it was nothing. Pat had licked Pran’s neck . And Pran may have objected, but…

 

Was it safe to admit, even in his own head, that he’d liked it?

 

Pran had woken up with the sun due to a mix of anxiety, the sun in his face, and a primal need to escape the bedroom before Pat woke up. It didn’t have anything to do with the dream he’d been having, where a figure that looked suspiciously like Pat was on top of him, so hot and heavy and—

 

Pran dug his hands into the sand, focusing on the grit digging into his palms and under his nails. It was a gross feeling that made him want to wash his hands immediately, but at least it distracted him from his current thoughts.

 

At least, until an infuriatingly familiar person plopped next to him in the sand. “I woke up and you were gone,” Pat whined, leaning into Pran’s space.

 

Pran tilted away, trying to put distance between himself and Pat without falling over. “Did you not take the hint? I thought werewolves had good instincts.”

 

Pat whined when he couldn’t get any closer without moving, instead just flopping sideways to land on Pran’s lap. Thankfully, Pran was blessed with momentary werewolf reflexes and jerked to the side so Pat’s head landed directly in the sand.

 

“Seriously, stop! Why are you acting like this all of a sudden?” Pran demanded.

 

Pat fluttered his eyelashes at Pran from his new repose in the sand. “All of a sudden ? Did last night mean so little to you?”

 

Hush .”

 

“Nooooo,” Pat whined with a mischievous grin. “You wound me. You came home so late last night, leaving me worries—”

 

Pran scrambled to try and cover Pat’s mouth, chasing the other rolling and crawling across the sand. “We aren’t at home! And shut up ! You never know who’s listening!”

 

Pat squealed a laugh, batting Pran’s hands away but not getting too far. “We felt each others bodies, unencumbered by—”

 

“We weren’t naked !”

 

“I never said we were, you pervert! But you let me smell your delicious scent, even under your smelly friends. And then the taste of you on my tongue —”

 

Pran screeched and launched himself with the last of his strength at Pat, rolling the two of them through the sand, only to finally land on top of the other boy with his hand clenched over Pat’s mouth.

 

They were both gasping, chests heaving against each other. Pran glared at Pat. Time slowed down, dragging around them like the ocean waves lapping at their toes.

 

Pran suddenly realized he was laying on top of Pat , the other’s fierce eyes piercing him like an arrow, straight through from his gaze to his dick

 

Pran threw himself off Pat, collapsed in the sand, and dragged air into his lungs. Fluffy white clouds fluttered in the sky, lazily going by with no regard for Pran’s internal struggles.

 

“Aww, come back,” Pat moaned. Pran looked over, only to see Pat already looking at him. “Hasn’t this gone on long enough? You came into my house, ate my food, brought me gifts during my rut, let me scent you twice now…”

 

“That is not what has been going on,” Pran sputtered, despite the fact that Pat hadn’t told a single lie.

 

Pat rolled his eyes. “Don’t be stupid. You’re too smart for that. Didn’t Wai tell you about courting?”

 

“Of course, not!”

 

“Well, you asked him everything else!”

 

Pran sat up and threw sand at Pat. “We are not courting so it doesn’t matter . Why are you being like this? We’ve been successfully out of each other’s lives for years. Can’t we go back to that?”

 

Pat suddenly lunged forward, taking Pran’s prior position on top. But he propped himself up on his arms, creating space between their faces so he could make the intense eye contact he was clearly craving. Pat’s heavy waist, hips and legs still pinned Pran to the sand, an uncaring weight when Pran struggled to rise.

 

Don’t think about your dick, don’t think about your dick…

“No,” Pat said, suddenly intense and serious. “We can’t go back to that.”

 

“Why not ?” Pran didn’t pout. He didn’t .

 

Silence unfurled between them, thick and heady with the background of crashing waves and bright, burning sun that heated Pran’s skin where Pat didn’t smother him. But Pat’s skin was almost as warm.

 

Pat tilted his head. “You’re not ready to hear it yet, I think. Maybe learn more about werewolves first, so you know when you’re courting one.”

 

Pran shoved at Pat’s shoulders, and the other let him push him off. Pran hated how that rankled, knowing a focused, determined Pat wouldn’t have been moved by Pran’s shove if he hadn’t wanted to be.

 

“I’m not talking to you anymore,” Pran declared, lurching to his feet and brushing as much sand off as he could.

 

Pat snorted. “That’s gonna make our bet a little harder, but not impossible.”

 

Pran scoffed. “Of course, the bet. How could I forget that’s all this is?” He stormed up the beach. He had to get out of this place, even just for a few hours. Maybe Tong could help him out.

 

“Wait, Pran!” Pat called over the rushing sea breeze. But Pran was determined, and didn’t stop.

 

+++

 

“Junior,” Pat asked, sitting on the other side of the young boy in the flatbed of the truck. At this point, Pran thought Pat was a weretick instead of a werewolf—he was way too stuck on Pran. “What would you do if you had a friend you really liked who kept ignoring you?”

 

Pran rolled his eyes. It had been less than an hour since Pran spoke to Pat, angry and more than a little hurt at the reminder of their bet.

 

“Hmm…” Junior hummed. Then, he shrugged. “I probably wouldn’t be their friend anymore. It isn’t nice to ignore people, and friends should be nice to each other.”

 

Pat nodded sagely, all his attention on the younger boy while Pran scoffed on his other side. “I see. Maybe I shouldn’t ask you for advice, then. I still really want to be this person’s friend, and I know they want to be mine, too. We’re just having a few problems.”

 

Of course , Pat thought he knew better. Pran huffed and rolled his eyes. Heaven forbid Pran know his own mind.

 

Junior furrowed his brows and tilted his head. After a moment, he nodded like he’d come to a solid conclusion. “You’re weird,” Junior decided. Pat frowned and Pran threw a hand over his mouth, trying desperately not to laugh so loud he called all the donkeys in the area.

 

“You’re just a kid,” Pat whined. “What do you know?”

 

Junior just shrugged, happily back to telling a story about fishing with his dad. Pran wanted to say, Takes one to know one , but he held back to keep the upper hand of silence.

 

Pran refused to acknowledge he was also being childish.

 

Their time in town went as Pran expected. Pran and Junior followed Tong’s orders of what to buy and where to go, and Pat whined at their heels like a puppy being ignored. But he held bags and did as Junior commanded, so Pran couldn’t be too upset.

 

Tong clearly knew something was up between Pran and Pat, and kept forcing them to do things together while trying to separate Junior from them. Pran managed to keep the younger boy around as a buffer, and Junior seemed to like them enough that he didn’t make it easy on his dad.

 

Pran did a great job ignoring Pat, but it couldn’t last forever. Tong had called Junior over to breach the fish market, and Pran was in charge of mangoes. Pat had been by Tong, so Pran assumed the father and son would take the werewolf to haul the heavy fish around with his superior alpha prime strength. But of course, Pran couldn’t be that lucky.

 

Once Tong and Junior were out of sight, Pran felt a familiar presence immediately attach to his back like a barnacle.

 

Pat !” Pran shouted, trying to shake the other boy off without success. “What are you— Get off!”

 

Pat passed some money to the mango vendor and dragged Pran—bag of fruit and all—to a quieter side of the market under a tree. It wasn’t totally hidden from prying eyes, but it was as private as they’d get here.

 

“Now that you’re done ignoring me,” Pat grumbled. “What’s wrong? Did I say something this morning?”

 

Pran crossed his arms. “What do you mean? Who said I’m done ignoring you?”

 

“You’ve already spoken to me again. Twice. No point in going back.”

 

Pran sneered. “I could still ignore you if I wanted.”

 

Pat huffed. “Trust me, I know. But let's just skip to the part where we’re talking again.”

 

Pran wanted to be indignant, but there was really no point. They were both relentlessly stubborn, and Pran wasn’t sure if he had the energy to go head-to-head with Pat today.

 

“Whatever,” Pran said grudgingly, still unable to admit defeat.

 

He turned to walk back to the market, but Pat grabbed his arm and swung him back around. “Wait, wait,” Pat said, grip tight. “You can’t just say that and walk away. I need… I need to know. What I did wrong.”

 

Pran paused. Pat sounded… sincere . He took a moment to really look at the other boy, and Pran almost thought he could see drooping puppy ears and a tucked tail. Pran didn’t see it often, but contrite was a cute look on Pat.

 

“Just…” Pran burst, not wanting to admit the mortification of his own feelings, but not wanting Pat to stew in uncertainty, either. “This morning. You said not talking would make the bet harder and… I…” Pran wasn’t sure how to finish.

 

But it seemed he didn’t need to. Realization dawned across Pat’s face with a sly little smile. He tilted his head and stepped closer to Pran, their bodies connecting at several points. “You were sad thinking I’m only doing this because of the bet? You want it to be more?”

 

Pran’s face flamed. “I—No, that’s not—”

 

Pat leaned his face into Pran’s, coming closer slowly enough for Pran to move. But he didn’t. All he could think about was trying not to spontaneously combust at the impossible heat surging inside him.

 

At the last moment, their lips a breath apart, Pat tilted his head and brushed his across Pran’s cheek, setting a trail of goosebumps down Pran’s body as Pat stopped a moment from his ear. “Don’t worry,” he purred, his warm breath leaving a trail of fire. “I wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t like each other at least a little. And my wolf…”

 

Pran’s heart jerked at the mention of Pat’s other self. He’d said they weren’t separate, but were like one being with two sets of instincts. What did Pat’s furrier parts think?

 

“Let’s just say I can’t get enough,” he finished. Pran was weak at the knees. At that moment, if Pat had asked, who knows what he might have done?

 

But Pat had to ruin it.

 

Something wet touched Pran’s cheek, and he shoved Pat back with a shout, one hand going to his face as he took in Pat’s smug grin. “Did you just lick me?”

 

Pat just shrugged. “I’m a werewolf, Pran. And I thought you smelled… delicious .”

 

Pran’s traitorous dick just had to stir at that comment, but his higher brain function won. “That’s disgusting. I’m officially never talking to you again, again . Enjoy this courting shit alone .”

 

Pran picked up his things and stormed off, ignoring Pat whining behind him, “Wait, wait, I didn’t mean it! I mean, I did , but…”