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i'm suspended in the air (won't you come be in the sky with me)

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This was the first time Pat’s head had stopped in days.

His eyes were on Pran, methodically scooping water from the tub up over Pran’s torso. He was between Pat’s legs and laying against him, his head tucked into Pat’s neck and his body contorted a little bit to avoid laying on his stitches. It was a little blurry how they got here exactly, but it was the first taste of peace and he wasn’t going to give it up. Pran was close and calm and finally not one step away from shutting down again and that was all that mattered.

Sort of.

The elephant was still in the room, still painted bright in bright colors and still blaring a siren. It wasn’t something to ignore. Eventually, they’d have to face it. They’d have to discuss what happens next, what to say to their parents, what this meant for them. Pat didn’t really want to go back. As much as he loved his friends, his parents were too much pressure and this whole revelation only added to it. He wanted to just stay away forever with nothing but freedom and Pran.

That was the only thing that wasn’t up in the air or scary. Pran. He was the only sure thing.

But that sure thing was a lot less sure with guilt in the way.

“You need to go out shirtless more, you’ve got weird tan lines,” Pat said. His voice didn’t come out as playful as he wanted it to, but it was his first time being outright playful in a couple days so maybe he had to work back up to it.

Pran shifted, but the warmth of him never left.

“You’ve never complained before,” Pran said. His voice wasn’t all the way back to normal either, still showing how much this whole situation has affected him, but he was playing. That was enough to get Pat to smile just a bit.

“Point made,” Pat said, his fingers grazing up and down stomach.

If there was one good thing to come from this, it was how clear their comfortability with each other was now. As much as he liked playing and teasing Pran, Pat also loved and craved the moments where they could just be sweet without it feeling like it needed to be a game or a joke. He rarely got it when Pran wasn’t half asleep. Granted, he was just as much of a culprit. It was hard sometimes to do things like this seriously. He’d spent so many years being taught to hate Pran and be his rival and old habits die hard even when all he wanted to do was bury himself in everything Pran.

Adoration swelled in his stomach and he squeezed Pran a little bit just to get it out of his system. Pran grunted quietly and Pat pressed a kiss to the side of his face, his jaw, his shoulder.

"You're so cute," Pat said, earnest as ever, "I like you so much." 

"I didn't do anything," Pran said, his voice soft. Pat craned his head a little bit to look at his face without having Pran move at all.

He still looked out of it, even with the bath and little touches and attempt at playing. It was hard to reconcile with. Even when they were brutally outed to the school, Pran's freak out was short lived and most of his negative feelings tied back to Wai. This was different and Pat didn't know how to fix it.

It became very, very obvious very, very quickly that Pran's reaction wasn't just because of their parents finding out. It wasn't just because they discovered the true origin of their rivalry, it wasn't just because he had been pushed and slapped around by their parents. No, it didn't take long for Pat to understand that, after years of repressing every feeling and only letting them out in tiny, emoticon-shaped doses, his dam had broken. There was no magical fix to this as much as Pat wanted there to be. Pran had to feel his feelings and Pat just had to be there with him and make sure he didn't drown in them. As useless as it made him feel, it was all he could do. 

And after what his dad had caused, he was going to do the best damn job at it that he could.

"Yeah, you didn't. But I like you just like you are," Pat said, his hand scooping more water over his Pran's chest and then settling firmly over his heart as casually as he could make it.

"Even though I'm weird and friendless and overly competitive?" Pran asked. It was too seriously said, too obviously coming from a place that hadn't been healed since he was small. 

Pat thought about that stupid report card that had said he wasn't good at making friends and tried to think back at little Pran. He never seemed that way to him. He always seemed too good, too perfect, too charming and smart and talented. He didn't have a single memory that didn't seem to have all eyes on Pran. 

Though, he was beginning to think that was on him and not how it felt to Pran himself. 

"Especially because you're weird and over competitive. Where would the fun be if you didn't challenge me? That's what makes us so great," Pat said. Pran made a face and Pat smiled, dragging his hand up to touch his jaw. "But you're not friendless. You have so many people who love you and care about you, I don't give a shit what anyone says. Even Korn would throw down for you, that's gotta say something."

"Because of you," Pran said, turning his head away from Pat's hand just a bit. It would've hurt if he didn't turn away in favor of settling against his neck. 

"No. Well, yes, originally, but the guys really do like you now. Honestly, I think they like you more than me," Pat said. Pran huffed a disbelieving breath. "I'm serious! He's messaged me so many times to ask who he needs to beat and if we need anything. He always includes you."

"Okay."

"Do I need to release him on you? I don't think you can handle Korn in his full friend mode," Pat said. Pran rolled his eyes with his whole body in that way he does, melting Pat down with it as he cuddled closer. 

It was quiet again for a moment and Pat went back to staring at him, went back to dragging water over his skin. Pran's skin was soft, enticing in a way that was overwhelming. But it was even more so when he got to his hands, artist and guitarist calluses decorating them. His nails were long and well taken care of both for his craft and for who he was as a person. It was even more addictive. It was healing to think of those hands on him. Reviving to actually experience it.

Pat grabbed Pran's hand and pulled it up to his lips, kissing his palm and inhaling his scent. Pran didn't even pull away. 

"Pran," Pat said into his palm, not willing to move. 

"Yeah?"

"You're okay, right?" he asked, quietly. Pran shifted and tilted his head up towards Pat's. He could see him beyond his hand, the tired bags beneath his eyes, the sad tint of his forced smile, the way he was trying so hard to make Pat's guilt disappear.

"What are you talking about? I'm okay. I'm here with you, aren't I?" Pran asked. He twisted his hand out of Pat's grip but Pat could barely make a noise of protest before the hand went to the back of his neck. "I'd never thought I'd say this to you since you never think, but stop thinking." 

"Hey, I–" Pat started, but it had no weight as he was slowly being pulled towards the lips of the naked man lying on his chest.

"Kiss me," Pran said and Pat nodded, barely a moment of hesitation before Pran pulled him down all the way and pushed himself up to meet him.

Pran's mouth was as soft as the rest of him and he kissed like he had majored in it. It was strange, almost, to think that Pat had gone so long in his life without trying to kiss him. Especially now that he knew how good it was. He'd wasted so much time in high school. So much time in their first year of university. And even now, in this town with him, he felt like he was wasting time. It was like there was an hourglass taunting them.

He hated time more than he'd ever hated anything.

Pran turned until the front of him was pressed against Pat and Pat was unable to resist turning into him as well. It was a little uncomfortable in the cramped tub for them to both be on their sides like that, but wrapping himself up in Pran and vice versa made up for it. They slid down into the water a little more, their bodies making a loud noise as they did so and Pran laughed against his lips. Really laughed, as soft as it was.

Pat put his hand on his back and tugged him closer, breathing in his laughter like a drug he couldn't give up.

"We're too big for this tub, you know that, right?" Pran said into his mouth. He'd said it when Pat suggested the bath in the first place. Pat opened his eyes, nothing else in sight other than Pran's eyes. It looked like he had two sets, he was that close.

"Yeah," Pat agreed, rubbing his thumb against Pran's skin. It really was uncomfortable. One leg was out of the tub and his other was tangled in with Pran's, all of them cramped in to fit. He still didn't want to move. "When we get our own house, we'll make sure to get a bigger tub."

Pran let out a breath through his smile and Pat didn't have to move back to know he was blushing. 

"Ah, don't think you'll get this a lot. Baths are so gross, honestly, and worse with two people. Especially with someone like you, you sweat so much," Pran teased. 

"It saves water," Pat said, "I'm very environmentally conscious."

"Oh, you are? Okay," Pran said, "So we'll recycle too?"

"Of course."

"And you'll turn all the lights off without me having to tell you anything?" 

"Yes, Sir."

"Yes, Sir," Pran mocked through his teeth, smiling. It sounded so good. "Why are you like this?" His nails dug a bit into Pat's shoulder for emphasis, squeezing his thighs a bit around Pat's leg. He was teasing and Pat knew it, knew he was trying to cheer him up the way Pat had tried previously, but he couldn't keep up with it. He couldn't think about anything else other than having this closeness with him forever in their own house where no one could say shit.

They could just be. Like it was at the dorm, like it was here. But not temporary.

"And you know what the best part will be?" Pat asked. He could feel the way Pran's body changed at the serious tone of his voice. He wanted to be able to feel something that small forever. "I'll never have to sleep alone again."

Pran breathed out, his fingers sliding up and grazing over Pat's ear.

"Yeah," Pran said. And it was so sweet he said it like it was true when they both knew it wasn't. "Me neither."

And Pran kissed him again, more urgent than before, more like he was trying to convince him it was true. Touched him and grabbed him like he was enforcing it. Searing it into his skin that they were in this together.

And if Pat started crying again, at least they were in the water where no one could see.