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OffGun September Short Stories Collection

Chapter Text

 

When Off walked into the teacher’s room that morning, he knew immediately that he would have problems.

Tay was sitting in one of the corners, whispering something to the art's teacher. The shorty was flushed and laughed a lot while Tay wiggled his eyebrows.

' Too early for this shit ' Off thought, sighing and heading straight for the coffee pot, deciding that he didn't want to get involved in whatever Tay and the new kid were up to.

Okay, the shorty wasn't exactly 'the new kid' anymore, he'd been there for almost a year - and it's also been nearly a year since Off was ignoring his presence. Not on purpose, of course, Off wasn't a bad person, it's just that he and the art teacher were the complete opposite.

There was something about the shorty that just caused a lot of anxiety in Off. He was too happy, too considerate, too smiling, too much! The students loved him, he barely started his classes and was already the beloved teacher of everyone.

The other teachers loved him too, because he was a kind and fun coworker. The school principal… Well, she calls him son, so... There's no need to say more.

And Off… Well, Off was nice.

Just nice.

He spent most of his time in the lab, preparing practical classes, reading articles, cleaning microscopes, preparing lists of materials he needed - which would not be purchased anytime soon - and being alone most of the time.

Anyone with eyes could see that he and the art teacher had absolutely nothing in common. Nothing. So no, he hasn't made any effort to interact with the shorty since he started teaching at school. He was polite, of course, but he would never voluntarily go to him to talk or ask for anything - in fact, he would rather splash water on acid than ask anything to him.

Anyway, the shorty seemed to don't think the same as him, because he would always go to Off to start some kind of conversation that would lead to the two of them not knowing what to say in an extremely awkward situation.

That was why, seeing Tay whispering something to him that morning was definitely something Off wasn't willing to get involved in, thank you very much.

Which was not what Tay thought, of course, - he will always find a reason to involve Off in that kind of conversation. So when Off walked straight to the coffee pot and Tay called, he pretended he hadn't heard.

And of course Tay didn't buy that shit.

"Awu, Peng why are you ignoring me?" Tay spoke up even louder, drawing the attention of other teachers and forcing Off to look at him.

Off sighed.

"What's it?" He approached, defeated, trying not to care too much about the shorty's gaze on him, but it didn't matter much because he would always talk to Off first anyway.

"Good morning, P'Off!" There it was, the excited tone, wide smile and bright eyes of Gun Atthaphan, the art's teacher.

"Uh good morning, Nong." He responded quickly, feeling stupid - he felt stupid most of the time around Gun, that was one of the reasons he didn't like talking to him. "What do you need Tay?" He just wanted to get it over with and go to his lab - some microscope slides needed to be made, and it wasn't easy to make good cuts of mini flower stalks!

"Nothing, but Nong Gun needed to talk to you.” Tay cleared his throat. “In private.” He smirked.

"P'Tay!" Gun yelled, blushing and Off felt awkward. "It's no big deal P'Off, it's just that Mae...I mean P'Godji needs to talk to you today. Before classes start."

Off frowned. Why did the director ask Gun to tell him about this? The shorty noticed his confusion and quickly clarified.

"It's just that I just talked to her and…uhh…she kind of has a project for us."

"Us?" Gun nodded shyly. "When you say 'us' you mean you and me together, in a project?" 

Gun chuckled and Tay laughed loud - drawing the attention of other teachers once again!

"Peng, I thought you were the smart guy here."

"Shut up." Off rolled his eyes. 

"Yes P'Off, I mean you and me together." Gun said smiling.

"But I'm the biology teacher." Gun nodded. "And you is the art teacher." Gun nodded again. "It's doesn't makes sense."

And then, Gun looked away, bited his lip and asked in a soft tone.

"P'Off doesn't like working with Gun?"

And there was another reason he didn't like interacting with Gun. His heart fluttered for some strange and unknown reason, and he felt his own face heat up a little as he couldn't find the strength to say no to that cute face.

"I didn't mean it, Nong." He ignored Tay smirking beside them. "I'll err... I'll talk to the principal."

Gun smiled brightly at him, making him feel all awkward again.

"Okay!" The shorty agreed eagerly. "You'll go to your lab right after, right? I'll wait for you there then, see you P'Off!" And then he dashed out of the teacher's room.

"Wait, I didn't say you could... Oh fuck." Gun had already gone. "I'm feeling like I'm going to hate this project."

Tay put a hand on his shoulder, both of them looking in the direction Gun had gone, and said.

"I feel like I'm going to love this project."

Chapter Text

Off took a deep breath, stopping just before opening the lab door.

He was nervous - and a little offended, if he could be honest. The principal explained to him about the project, to offer an elective together with the art teacher. Every semester, each professor offered an elective course to the students, and Off had the habit of always giving practical classes on DNA in his subject 'The genetics of plants', which the principal called 'failure' with no remorse.

Of course he knew that his course had fewer and fewer students enrolled recently, but calling it a failure was just too cruel!

Anyway, Godji said the art teacher had this idea of creating decorative flower pots or something like that - she just threw at him a document with the written project and sent him out of her office.

In short, Gun wanted to do a garden and apparently Off couldn't say 'no' because the other teachers were overloaded on their subjects because no one wanted to apply for 'The genetics of plants' anymore - with the exception of two or three enthusiastic dream students to pursue a scientific career.

The weirdest thing, though, was that when he asked why they hadn't chosen another teacher to work with Gun, she said “my son asked for you” – and then she wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, leaving Off even more confused.

And now, instead of the peace in his lab, he would have a meeting with the art teacher - he knew that day would be troublesome!

When he opened the door, however, the place was empty. Off frowned, looking around, but there was no one, so he just walked in - thanking that he could have some time alone to think about how he would handle this new work system - and closed the door behind him, walking over to one of the benches and sitting down, opening the document the principal gave him.

There were more than ten pages - which was a lot, considering he was going to have to help make a simple garden - so he decided he would clean the microscopes first. He left the paper on the counter, took the bottle of alcohol, the cotton and began to clean the microscope lens.

"P'Off!"

Off startled, jumping to his feet, knocking the bottle of isopropyl alcohol all over the counter, soaking the project sheets and wetting the microscope base.

"Shit!" he yelled, looking at the door and finding Gun.

"Sorry to scare you!" The shorty approached, his expression worried. "Let me help."

“It's okay, you don't have to…” Off waved his hand and bumped into a box of slides on the counter, causing all the little glass rectangles to fall to the floor and shatter, mixed with the mess of alcohol. “Fuck…” He muttered, defeated.

“Oh my god P’Off, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to…” Gun bent down to try to help clean up the mess.

"Don't!" Off yelled again, pulling Gun by the hand. "You're going to get hurt, idiot!" Gun stumbled and nearly fell on top of Off, looking at him with wide eyes.

“Err…” He jumped away and Off coughed, embarrassed and upset.

Why every time he interacted with the art teacher had to be an event?

"I'll get the proper material to clean this later." He huffed. "Don't pick up things from the lab like that, you could cut your hand and get contaminated with some dangerous bacteria or virus."

"Do we have this kind of thing at school?" Gun frowned.

"Maybe." Off shrugged.

"Oh." Gun made a sad face. "Sorry P’Off, I shouldn't have come in yelling like that."

"It's all right Nong."

Gun sighed and they were silent for a few seconds, looking at each other. Off cleared his throat.

"Did you want to talk to me?"

"It was about the project." His entire face lit up again.

"I haven't read it yet and I don't even think I can do it anymore." Off picked up the sheets from the counter, which were soaked with alcohol. Most of the words were blurry - there were some weird drawings on the edges too, he supposed Gun had made them.

“What a pity…” Gun took a step forward, reaching out to grab the papers, but ended up stepping into the alcohol and glass mess and slipped.

Off reflexively dropped the papers, holding the shorty by the waist with one hand, but the two ended up falling anyway.

"Oh my God." Gun muttered, embarrassed, getting up as quickly as possible off Off. "P’Off..."

Off had used his other hand to balance himself on the ground and ended up slicing it on one of the broken slides.

"We should get out of this lab, it's not safe." Off said, getting up with Gun's help.

"Sorry." Gun was really sad at that point. "I just wanted to talk about the project."

He opened his bag silently, taking a tissue and wrapping it in Off's hand.

"Gun is sorry."

"It's okay Nong, it was an accident."

"But…"

"I'm fine." Off smiled to assure him. "But maybe we should have this meeting somewhere else."

"P’Off want to come to my house?" Gun looked at him, still holding his hand, and then he blushed and his eyes widened. "I mean, if P’Off wants, of course, it will be more comfortable, and..."

"All right." Off nodded, amused by the shorty's overreaction.

"All right." Gun smiled shyly. "Alright, I, uh... I'll text you my address."

"Okay."

"See you later then." Gun released his hand slowly. "You should take care of that cut."

"I will." Off nodded.

"Want me to help?" The shorty offered.

"No, you can leave." He said, adding right away. "I mean, you don't have to go, but if you want to go you can, I didn't mean..."

Gun giggled.

"P’Off is so cute." Off felt his face heat up. “Err, I…” Gun blushed hard, realizing what he had just said. "Here." He took something else out of his bag.

Off just watched as Gun took his hand again, removing the tissue and putting on a band-aid with drawings of cute puppies.

"Uh, I don't think I want to use this." Off frowned, looking at the childish band-aid.

"I think it's cute, puppy." Gun giggled, teasing him.

"Oii Nong!" Off complained, but ended up smiling too.

"Now I'm really going." 

"Alright, thank you Nong."

"It was nothing, puppy." Gun said, giggling, walking slowly towards the door.

"Nong, don't call me that!"

"See you later, puppy." Gun waved, leaving the lab.

Off sighed and shook his head.

"So naughty."

Chapter Text

Another day, another failure.

It had been a week since he had started avoiding Rome and things only got worse. He got anxious and nervous every time the shorty approached him, with those big hopeful eyes and those shiny red lips - he sure was wearing lip balm - that kept reminding Pick that he had kissed him.

Pick just wanted peace and a little time to think - at least think about something other than Rome - but he felt judged even in his room, as he opened the door and came face to face with the damn unicorn plushie thrown on his bed.

Yes, he had bought it for Rome, but after what Porsche said Pick started freaking out and decided he better not. If he gave the gift, Rome would probably think a bunch of bullshit, like Pick being his boyfriend and something, and he definitely wasn't!

He sighed, lying down on the bed and tossing the unicorn aside. Porsche scolded him all the time, but he just didn't understand Pick! Every day he got up determined to talk to Rome normally, as they always did, but when the shorty approached, Pick would only realize that they couldn't talk normally anymore, so he'd find a way out quickly.

It was like that episode where SpongeBob had a mini SpongeBob inside his head, who took care of his actions and answers. Well, the mini Pick inside his mind just threw all the papers in the air and started to run in circles every time Rome got close to him.

It wasn't like he didn't see the sad expression on Rome's face or his eyes watering every time he walked away. It's not like he doesn't feel his own heart ache in response. He wasn't stupid – well, he was stupid, but not in that way – he kind of knew what that means, he was almost fifteen!

But that didn't make it any easier.

It was exactly the opposite.

 

 

 

Another morning and Pick was determined not to fail this time. He just wanted to talk and restore his friendship with Rome, without any complicated feelings or awkward conversations. Maybe they could even forget the whole birthday story. They kissed, all right, but they were friends and they could get through this.

That was it, Pick was determined as he walked through the school gates, ready to face the shorty at any moment.

He waited and waited, but Rome didn't show up. He went to his classes, still determined, until is lunchtime and Rome was nowhere to be seen.

"What is it, Pick?" Porsche asked when Pick didn't stop looking around.

"Nothing." He gave his usual answer.

"Of course" Porsche rolled his eyes, already tired of Pick's shit.

"Uh, have you seen Rome?" he asked reluctantly.

"Yes."

Porsche continued to eat his lunch.

"AND...?"

"And what?"

"Don't play dumb." Pick huffed.

"If you've finally decided to stop being an asshole and want to talk to Nong Rome, at least ask it properly." Porsche scolded.

"Fine." Pick sighed. "Where's Rome?"

“He’s with Din.” Porsche shrugged.

“Din? Who the fuck is Din?” 

"You should see for yourself." He sighed. "He's been helping Nong Rome since yesterday." 

"Helping? In what?"

"Who knows?" Porsche shrugged again, smirking. "If you want to talk to him, they're probably in the library."

Pick got up quickly, ignoring Porsche's smug look and marched towards the library.

 

 

 

 

 

It took just one second for Pick hate Din. He was sitting too close to Rome, pointing to something in his notebook and grinning like an idiot. 

Pick put on his best disgusted face before approaching the two of them, clearing his throat.

"P'Pick!" Rome's face lit up for a moment, and then he was sad. "I mean, hi phi."

"Come with me, shorty." 

Pick grabbed Rome's bag from the table and Din glared at him.

"Rome is studying with me, he can't…" Din started to said, but Pick cut him off.

"And who the hell are you to tell him what he can and can't do?" Pick huffed, feeling anger welling up inside him.

"P'Pick!" Rome stood up, talking a little too loudly and getting glares from the other students. "Don't be rude." He whispered.

Pick ignored them both, deciding he should get out of there before punching that guy in the face.

He started walking toward the exit, holding Rome's bag, hearing the shorty say "Sorry P'Din, I have to go, thanks for the help." and then he was next to Pick, outside the library.

"Phi, why did you take my bag?" He asked, cheeks flushed from running to Pick.

"Porsche said you wanted help so I came to finish this already."

Rome made a sad face.

"I didn't ask P'Porsche to call you, sorry phi." He reached out for his bag. "Give me back my bag, phi, I want to go home."

"Awu, are you going to refuse my help?" Pick frowned and Rome took a step back, taking a deep breath as his eyes watered.

"I thought P'Pick didn't want to talk to Rome anymore." He muttered sadly.

Pick's heart ached, but he didn't return the bag, instead slinging it over his shoulder.

"Come on, I'll help you with…whatever that guy was helping you." He started to walk but Rome grabbed the hem of his shirt, shaking his head.

"No, I want to go home, give it back."

"Rome..."

"I don't understand why P'Pick is doing this now." He crossed his arms, upset. "It was P'Pick who had been ignoring Rome all week."

"I wasn't ignoring you!"

"You were!" Rome pointed at him. "You stole my first kiss and then started to pretend I didn't exist, you're an asshole phi!"

Pick gasped, looking around and feeling his face heat up.

"What the fuck you're saying!?"

Rome used his moment of shock to pull his bag back and stomped off towards the school gates.

"You're the worst, P'Pick!" He yelled, before leaving.

All the mini Picks started running around inside his mind, desperate, throwing papers into the air and frantically pushing the big red button in the center.

'I will not fail again!' He thought, finally stopping freaking out and running towards Rome.

The shorty hadn't gone very far.

"Rome!" Pick yelled. "Rome!"

Rome turned back, eyes widening as Pick approached.

"Phi...?" He frowned in confusion.

"I didn't want to ignore you." Pick swallowed hard. Why was a word as simple as 'sorry' so hard to say? "I..."

"You...?" Rome wouldn't make it easy for him either. "Want to tell me something?"

"Ugh, you little..."

"If P'Pick doesn't have anything to say to Rome..." He looked down at his feet and Pick felt bad.

He sighed and finally said the right words.

"Sorry Rome, I didn't mean to ignore you." Rome looked at him. "I was just confused." 

"Confused?" Pick nodded and Rome took a step closer to him. "And phi isn't confused anymore?"

He almost started to freak out again, but managed to handle his anxiety somehow. 

"I'm not." 

Rome smiled widely and hugged him tightly. 

"I missed you P'Pick!" Pick's heart fluttered. "Promise you'll never ignore Rome again."

"Uh..."

"Promise!" Rome tightened the hug.

"I promise, I promise!"

Rome breathed a sigh of relief and pulled away, smiling. Pick smiled back and huffed his hair. 

"Do you want my help now?" 

"Yes!" Rome nodded eagerly. "I have a math test tomorrow."

"Al right, let's go to my house to study."

Rome grabbed his hand and started pulling him toward his house. Pick felt the anxiety rising again, but he couldn't take his hand away from the shorty.

Chapter Text

To complete the amount of hours he needed to graduate that year, Maetee needed to take an elective course that semester, so he signed up for “the psychology of fictional characters”. As an arts and communication student, Maetee found the subject fit well into his curriculum and, on top of that, he was a writer, so he could certainly learn something that could help him improve his scripts.

He noticed, however, that there weren't many people from his course in that class, which wasn't a big problem, because he met a nice person on the very first day.

As soon as he entered the room, he sat in the middle, close to the wall, and as he opened his bag and got his things, someone sat down beside him. He looked at the boy sitting next to him, who smiled sympathetically and then Maetee smiled back. He was smaller than him, wore glasses and had a cute face.

The teacher explained how the discipline would be and said that throughout the semester they would probably have some work in pairs, which made Maetee look at the boy beside him, who surprisingly was already looking at him.

"I'm T-Rex." He smiled again and Maetee smiled back again too.

"Maetee." The teacher had finished and the students started to get up to leave.

“If Maetee doesn't have anyone in mind to do the homework for this class…”

"I don't!" He answered eagerly, making T-Rex look at him happily. "Actually I was going to ask the same thing."

"Really?" Maetee nodded. "Well, we're a pair now."

"We are a pair."

They left the classroom together, exchanging some basic information and then going their separate ways. Maetee found out that T-Rex was a psychology student and that he also needed that elective to graduate, so the two were in a similar situation.

It only took two weeks of seeing each other every Tuesday and Wednesday for Maetee to feel completely at ease with T-Rex. He couldn't describe it in words - which was funny because he was a writer after all - but there was something about the shorty, maybe it was the smile he gave every time he noticed Maetee staring at him during class, or maybe it was the smart comments about the professor's speech, or maybe it was just his presence in general that conveyed this feeling of belonging to Maetee, as if they were already friends or something. Every time T-Rex laughed happily, Maetee felt happy too.

And with all that, it didn't take long for Maetee to feel comfortable enough to reveal some aspects of his personal life to him. T-Rex always listened intently, looking directly at Maetee. Sometimes he would put a hand on Maetee's arm, as if to reassure him or encourage him to keep talking.

'Must be a psychology student thing' Maetee thought. And then, after hearing his story, T-Rex would also tell something about him.

And with that, the two became closer and closer.

Maetee already considered T-Rex a great friend.

 

 

 

 

They were talking after Maetee's class on a Thursday night - T-Rex had stopped by his room to say 'hi'. He was telling him about the plot of his new romance, still in progress, and he needed to know what T-Rex thought about it.

"So he saves her on the train, and because of that she falls in love with him?" T-Rex frowns.

"Not exactly. She liked him before, the feeling was already there. His heroic act on the train just made the feeling awaken and grow even more.”

"Hmm." T-Rex put a hand to his chin thoughtfully.

"She wouldn't have called him for help if he wasn't the person she trusted the most." Maetee explained.

"Makes sense." T-Rex nodded. "The fact that he was the first person that crossed her mind." Maetee smiled and nodded.

T-Rex would always understand him.

"And you Maetee?"

"Hm?" Maetee looked at him and found a unreadable look on the shorty's face.

"Who would you call?"

'You' the answer blinked through his mind suddenly, making Maetee frown and shake his head. He had known T-Rex for less than two months, there was no way he was the person Maetee trusted the most. Or there is? No, he was probably confusing things because they became too close and too fast.

“I…” He didn't get a chance to finish or think about it anymore, however, because the classroom lights went out, startling him.

He shifted, looking around frantically, hands shaking as his breathing began to become erratic. Maetee was panicking.

"Maetee." T-Rex's voice called him back to reality. "I'm here."

T-Rex took his hand, intertwining their fingers, making Maetee look in his direction. It was dark, but the light from the windows illuminated the room well enough that he could see T-Rex's smile, trying to soothe him.

“Uh, I…” Maetee felt his heart slow down and his hands stop shaking.

"Let's go?"

"Yes."

They grabbed their things, and headed to the classroom door. T-Rex led the way, pulling him by the hand, and Maetee blushed at the situation.

“The power must have gone out, or the security must have turned it off. It's pretty late.” T-Rex explained, reaching with his other hand for the knob, but the door wouldn't open. "Uh…" He tried again, but the door was stuck.

"Oh my God." Maetee whimpered.

Were they going to be stuck in the classroom at night and in the dark? He started to get nervous, because of all things, this one hadn't been shared with T-Rex yet - mainly because when people found out about it from Maetee, they tended to think less of him, and he didn't want T-Rex to think less of him.

A tree branch scraped the window from the outside and Maetee jumped, almost yelling again.

"Maetee?" T-Rex turned to him. "Are you afraid of the dark?"

"Not exactly." Maetee looked away.

"What's it?" He took his other hand too, moving even closer to Maetee, making him feel safe.

"It's not exactly for the dark, I'm just, uh, scared of ghosts."

"Oh."

"A lot."

"It's okay, I'm here with you." T-Rex said, smiling and squeezing his hands, making Maetee's heart flutter.

' Oh ' Maetee thought, 'it's like a romance story, where the two characters get stuck at school, and then they find out they're in love with each other, and then... ' T-Rex took another step closer to him and Maetee blushed 'that's really it, my life is really becoming one of the romant…'

The door opened, causing the two to jump, T-Rex looking at the door in surprise and Maetee letting out a startled yell.

“Uh, I'm s-sorry…” Maetee stammered.

"What are you two still doing here?" The security guard asked, frowning at them both.

"Sorry phi, we were studying and we didn't notice the time." T-Rex explained.

"You guys were lucky I heard you talking as I walked by to do the last check before closing the building." He shook his head. "Or else you'd be stuck here, this door has a problem and sometimes, when it gets stuck, it just opens from the outside."

"Sorry again, phi, and thanks." The two greeted the security guard and left the classroom.

T-Rex stopped in the middle of the hallway, reaching out to Maetee.

"So you don't get scared." He smiled as Maetee reached for his hand.

"Thank you, shorty."

 

 

 

 

On Friday, the two were having lunch together. T-Rex had left his class early and waited for Maetee, even though they didn't have class together that day.

"How are you?" He asked as they sat at the table with the food.

"I'm fine. Sorry for yesterday." Maetee scratched the back of his neck, embarrassed.

"Sorry for what?" T-Rex frowned.

"For getting so scared." Maetee shrugged. “I don't know, uh, I'm really scared of ghosts and most people think I'm stupid for that. Just like my roommate. We don't get along very well, mainly because he can't take it when I'm chanting or something, but I can't get out of there because I'm too scared to sleep in a room alone.” He sighed.

That was it, he opened up and now T-Rex knew about his greatest fear and greatest shame.

"Maetee." T-Rex reaches out on the table, slipping his fingers through his. “Everyone has some weird fear. Plus, we're very similar.” Maetee looked at him. "I don't like being alone either."

"Really?"

"Yes. Well, I'm not afraid of ghosts, but I'm afraid of being alone.”

"Oh." Maetee didn't expect for this.

"Do you think less of me now that you know that?" Maetee widened his eyes, shaking his head immediately.

"Of course not."

"Me neither." T-Rex smiled. "Then it's okay."

Maetee smiled, happy and relieved, and at the same time feeling a little silly for having been afraid to tell T-Rex about it. Of course he would understand Maetee!

"It seems like we've matched in a lot of things." He said, starting to eat his food.

"Yes." T-Rex nodded happily. "I bet we matched in many others things too." He squeezed Maetee's hand once more before slowly pulling away, running his fingers gently through Maetee's.

Maetee blushed, a little confused by what he was trying to say but agreeing to whatever it was.

"I guess..."

 

 

 

 

On the Wednesday of the following week, Maetee had his chin in his hand, trying to hold back his yawns as the teacher spoke, until T-Rex pushed a piece of paper in his direction.

'Are you alright?'

Maetee smiled and wrote back 'I'm fine, just a little tired'.

As soon as class was over, T-Rex turned to him, worried.

"What happened? You were tired yesterday too...”

"It's my roommate." Maetee yawned. “He packed up his stuff and left earlier in the week, and I don't know if he'll come back. And since then I haven't slept well, you know, because of the ghosts.”

"Did you two fight?"

"Not really." Maetee shrugged. "He just said he didn't want to share a room with a lunatic like me."

"Maetee, I'm sorry." T-Rex suddenly hugged him, making Maetee feel wide awake as his heart fluttered. "And you are not a lunatic."

"You still haven't seen me chanting to chase away the ghosts."

"I bet you're cute doing that too."

Maetee blushed, not knowing what to say in response.

"Maetee." T-Rex pulled away, looking straight into his eyes. Maetee swallowed. “If you need help, you can call me. For anything."

"Uh...."

"For anything at all."

"Are you offering to sleep with me? I mean... In my room?"

T-Rex's determined gaze didn't waver, but a soft shade of red colored his cheeks.

"Yes."

"All right." Maetee nodded, his mind racing, searching for meaning behind T-Rex's words.

"Just call me."

"Okay." He nodded shyly.

 

 

 

 

They ate lunch together, as usual, and then went to their classes separately. Maetee returned to his dorm late at night, wondering whether or not he should call T-Rex. The shorty had made it clear that he could, but what if he was just being nice? What if he thought Maetee was an idiot after seeing him say his prayers or when he woke up screaming in the middle of the night after a nightmare?

'No, T-Rex isn't like that' he sighed, sitting up in bed and looking at his phone, but it was too late and he probably should have called the shorty early. 'I'll call him tomorrow' he decided, looking around, making sure everything was in the right place and trying to stay calm.

He didn't sleep, of course, and the other day he could barely stand up during his classes. T-Rex texted him that he couldn't have lunch with him and Maetee just decided to go to his afternoon class, too depressed and tired to eat.

He sat at a table in the back, laying his head on his bag as he tried to keep his eyes open during class. The teacher's voice was deep and it made Maetee even more sleepy.

And then, between blinks, Maetee fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

Maetee whimpered in discomfort, massaging the back of his neck as he lifted his head from the table, feeling his entire body ache from sleeping in a bad position. He yawned, oblivious for a moment, until he realized that everything was dark and that he was alone in the classroom.

Again.

He widened his eyes, getting up immediately and running to the door, his heart racing with fear.

But then, of course, the door was stuck once more.

“Is anyone there!?” He yelled, knocking on the door, terror consuming him by the second.

“Fuck,” he despaired, feeling tears form as he thought he heard the noise of a chair scraping across the room.

Maybe his life wasn't a romance movie, as he had thought the other day, and instead it was a horror movie! A scary movie where the guy gets stuck at college after hours and some murderous spirit who lives there shows up saying he would kill everyone who is in his place after midnight.

Matee glanced briefly at the clock on the wall and realized that it was only three minutes to midnight. Noooooo!

"Help! Somebody!" He knocked on the door, pulling the handle several times but it wouldn't open at all. The security had already warned that when this happens, someone needs to open the door from the outside.

Maetee was shaking with fear, imagining all sorts of things, and then when he turned back there was a huge dark shadow in the center of the classroom.

"Ah!" He screamed, until he realized it was just the tree outside.

'It's always a tree and then the shadow turns into a spirit that seeks the person's soul and takes it to…' He shook his head, taking a deep breath and trying to think straight.

'This isn't like a horror movie' he said to himself, 'and if this isn't a horror movie then I can just…' he opened his bag and took out his phone which, of course, had battery and signal.

Because he wasn't in a horror movie.

He was just a guy who overslept and, through bad luck, got stuck in the classroom.

Maetee then called the first person who came to his mind.

"Maetee?" T-Rex's sleepy voice answered on the other end of the line.

"I'm stuck."

"Huh?"

“In the classroom, again. The door is stuck and..."

"I'm going there."

"Okay." Maetee breathed a sigh of relief.

"I'll be there in ten minutes."

“Uhh…” Maetee whimpered. Ten minutes was a short time, but still…

"I'll stay with you on the line." T-Rex said, as if he had just read his mind.

"All right."

 

 

 

 

When the classroom door finally opened, Maetee came face to face with T-Rex wearing pajamas.

"Are you okay?" T-Rex asked, pulling him into a hug.

"Yes." He sighed, hugging T-Rex back. "Sorry."

"It's all right." T-Rex assured him.

"I fell asleep, and..."

"I know, everything is fine, I'm here."

Matee sobed and T-Rex tightened the hug.

"You're safe." He caressed Maetee's back.

"Sorry to call you so late."

"I'm glad you called me."

The security cleared his throat, interrupting their moment. 

"Alright, time to go now." They broke the hug. "I can't believe you got stuck here again, kid"

"Sorry, phi." Maetee made a sad face. "I swear it won't happen again."

"If it wasn't for your boyfriend calling me at the watch station I wouldn't have heard you here." He huffed and they both blushed.

“Oh, he's not…”

"I'm not…"

"These kids." He rolled his eyes and walked away.

They walked in silence to the exit, T-Rex pulling Maetee by the hand, and then thanking the security once more before heading towards T-Rex's bike.

"All right." T-Rex turned to him. "I'm going to sleep with you today." Maetee just nodded. "And we're going on my bike."

Maetee just nodded again, climbing onto the bike and hugging T-Rex around the waist.

"You should have called me yesterday." T-Rex said as he pedaled.

"I know."

"Don't do that again."

"I won't."

Maetee leaned his head against T-Rex's back, feeling butterflies in his stomach the entire way home. His heart was pounding and his cheeks were red, especially when they arrived in his room and T-Rex opened his arms for Maetee to snuggle with him on the bed.

He didn't think twice, hugging the shorty and wondering what feeling it was that made him feel safe and excited at the same time.

Chapter Text

They were sitting at the kitchen table. Pick explained one of the questions, but he didn't bother to finish because he just noticed that Rome wasn't paying attention.

"Rome." Pick sighed.

"Yes, P’Pick?" Rome said, a hand resting on his chin as he smiled at Pick.

"Why are you looking at me instead of looking at the book?"

"I wasn't!" Rome looked away, lying, and Pick almost smiled at this.

"I thought you wanted help."

"I want to." Rome looked at him again, pouting. "But I'm too tired to study math right now."

'Cute' Pick suddenly thought, shaking his head quickly to push the thought away.

"Oh!" Rome's expression brightened. "I want to take a nap in your bed, phi."

"No."

“But…” Rome pouted again and Pick had to focus his attention on something else, otherwise he'd end up giving in too quickly. "But it's been so long since I visited P’Pick's room..."

"It's only been a week."

"Besides, P’Pick was so mean to me, and now I can't even go to your room anymore?"

Oh, Rome just reminded him of what an asshole he'd been, and besides, he'd used that tone of voice. 'That's not fair' Pick thought, grunting in defeat.

"Fine..." He mutters.

"Really!?" Rome smiles widely, standing up as Pick nodded and headed straight to the stairs.

Pick rolled his eyes and grabbed their things from the table, following the boy upstairs.

It was only when Rome had his hand on the bedroom doorknob that Pick remembered what was lying on his bed.

“Shorty, wait…” He tried, but Rome had already entered the room.

Pick sighed again, knowing another headache was coming.

“P’Pick…?” He walked into the room, closing the door behind him and turning to Rome, who was standing in front of his bed.

"Yes?"

"Is this that… is this that unicorn plushie we saw that day at the mall?" Rome looked shyly at Pick.

“Yes…” Rome approached the bed slowly, reaching out toward the plushie. "But I didn't buy it for you."

And then Rome turned to him, the plushie already in his arms, hugging him to his chest.

"P’Pick didn't buy it for me?" he asked softly.

“I…” Pick tried to deny it, but he just couldn't. Not when Rome was being so cute like that. "I bought it for you."

He snorted,  preparing himself for the mess to come, but to his surprise Rome just remained silent as his cheeks turned red. Really red.

"What's it?" Pick took a step towards him.

"P’Pick really bought this for Rome?"

“Uh yes…”

"Does that mean… Does that mean phi likes Rome too?"

Rome looked at him, eyes gleaming hopefully and cheeks more flushed than Pick had ever seen.

Pick's heart fluttered.

“I…” Rome squeezed the plushie in his arms as he waited for Pick's answer. "Yes." The word just slipped as his heart pounded. Pick felt his own cheeks heat up.

Rome smiled and approached Pick, who didn't dare move a muscle. The shorty stood on his tiptoes and pressed a soft kiss into his cheek.

"Thank you, phi." Rome said shyly. "I'm really happy."

Even nervous and embarrassed, Pick couldn't help smiling back at the boy.

Chapter Text

It was only a week to the end of the school year and also just a week to Pick's graduation ceremony.

He was going to high school and he should probably be focusing on that right now, but no. Because Rome was sad and quiet, which was really weird because the shorty was usually the most excited about this sort of thing.

Pick was waiting for him at the school gates and if it were any other day, Rome would have already jumped on Pick's neck, being clingy as he always was - he'd been even clingier with Pick since months ago, when Pick gave him the stuffed unicorn - but instead of that, the boy approached with his head down, walking slowly.

"Shorty?" Pick asked, frowning.

"Huh?"

Rome didn't even look at him as they started walking home.

"Why that face?"

"It's nothing, phi."

They continued walking for a while longer, until Pick heard a sob.

"Are you crying?" Pick asked, startled.

Had he fucked up again without even realizing it?

Possibly, but that didn't seem to be the case.

"No." Rome lied blatantly, quickening his pace so Pick wouldn't look at his face.

Pick huffed, pulling the boy by the hand to turn to him.

"Why are you crying?"

“I'm not…” Another sob. "Crying."

"What is it then?" Pick brought his hand to his cheek, gently wiping away a tear.

Rome looked him in the eyes and bit his lip, trying to keep more tears from falling.

Pick started to get worried.

"What happened?"

“P’Pick…” Rome threw himself into Pick's arms, burying his face in his chest and crying copiously.

Pick sighed, hugging him back.

"Talk to me."

Rome shook his head.

"Rome." Pick pulled him away from the hug. "Tell me what happened."

Rome pouted, looking away.

"Oii, tell me already!" He shook Rome by the shoulders a little.

"P’Pick is going to another school." He muttered.

"Huh, yes?"

"And P’Pick is going to make new friends at this new school." Rome looked at him, new tears forming. "And P’Pick will forget about Rome."

"Don't be stupid."

"Rome isn't stupid!" He complained, getting angry, and then getting sad again. "Don't call Rome stupid."

"Alright, uh, sorry, Rome isn't stupid."

Rome sniffled, wiping his face with his shirt sleeve childishly. Pick smiled and said softly.

"I won't forget about you."

"Liar." Rome muttered. "P’Pick won't have time for me anymore."

"Don't say…"

“And Rome doesn't want his time with Pick to decrease, because Rome always wants to spend more time with phi, because…” And then, his cheeks flushed. “Because Rome is in love with P’Pick.”

'Oh' Pick's heart fluttered as he felt butterflies in his stomach.

“Rome…” Pick pulled Rome's hand gently.

“Hm…” Rome was red and didn't dare look at Pick.

'So cute'.

"Look at me." He looked. "I won't forget you and nothing will change, I promise."

"Nothing is going to change?"

"Well, maybe some things, but they're going to change for the best."

"For the best?" Rome frowned. "How?"

Pick pulled Rome closer, making the shorty blush even more. He brought his other hand to Rome's cheek.

"P’Pick?"

He brought their lips together in a soft, sweet kiss. Rome grabbed the hem of his shirt, sighing against Pick's lips and shyly kissing him back.

"Does that mean… Does that mean P’Pick loves Rome too?" He whispered, eyes closed, then Pick kissed him again before answering.

"Yes." Rome opened his eyes. "I love you too."

Chapter Text

Pick's class was over and everyone got up to leave but him. He had already noticed Rome, his freshman, waiting outside and, honestly, Pick didn't want people to comment further about the two of them.

He was good with their friendship and hadn't noticed any problem in the time he spent with the shorty. They became friends because of Emma and Porsche, and without realizing it Pick was already spending more time with him than anyone else.

But then, a week ago, as he walked out the school gates, he heard a classmate say "Ai'Pick won't wait for your cute boyfriend today?"

Pick froze.

"What did you just say?" He asked the girl, who smiled and wiggled her eyebrows at him.

"Nong Rome! You two are so cute together, I swear I wanted to take a picture, can I?" She said excitedly.

Pick felt his whole face heat up and his heart sink. His hands shook with anxiety and fear as he replied:

"He's not my boyfriend, what the fuck are you saying?" He bristled like a stray cat that had been threatened.

"Oh, aren't you? But I thought…"

"I'm not gay." He said harshly. "Stop saying those things."

"Sorry Pick, I didn't mean to intrude."

Pick took a deep breath, uncomfortable.

"I didn't mean to insinuate… It's just that you two are really cute, and you know there's nothing wrong with liking another boy, right?" She smiled, as if she was trying to calm him down.

"I don't have a problem with that either, but that's not the case, Rome and I are just friends."

And so they dropped the subject, but Pick went home freaking out that day. Did everyone think that? Did everyone think he was gay? That he was… in love with Rome or something?

'We're just friends, what's wrong with being friends?' he wondered, lying in his room, rolling around on the bed.

He didn't think of Rome that way, he wasn't in love with Rome. It was just…he and Rome got along really well, and there was something about Rome that made it easy to talk and spend time with him. As if Pick were someone else with Rome.

And then, at the same time, there were things Rome did that made him anxious, waiting for something he didn't understand and he didn't want to understand now.

Because Pick wasn't gay.

He had no problem with that, of course, Pick wasn't homophobic! But it's just that Pick, in all his seventeen-year-olds, has never felt attraction or thought of another guy like that! He never wanted or questioned whether he liked guys or not.

'Because I don't like!' so he couldn't be gay of course, and this was all just a misunderstanding, people were getting too into his life and seeing things that didn't exist.

Because Pick and Rome were just good friends.

It's just that.

But still, he felt uncomfortable now, and so when Rome stood waiting outside his class, Pick just thought that was why people were talking about them. Why did Rome have to be clingy to Pick all the time like this? He didn't realize that people could misinterpret…?

Pick put his book in his bag, still sitting in his chair, when someone stopped beside him and he didn't have to look up to know who it was.

"P'Pick is leaving already?" Rome asked in that soft voice that, seriously, was starting to annoy Pick.

Why did he have to speak so softly to him?

"Yes."

And why the hell did Pick respond the same way?

"That's good!" Pick still hadn't looked at him, but he knew Rome was smiling. "I wanted to ask you something, phi."

"What's it?" Pick closed his bag and Rome sat in the chair in front of him.

Pick took a deep breath and looked at Rome, feeling a weird feeling in his stomach and swallowing hard. Rome was the same as always, but now it seemed that nothing else was the same because of those nonsensical comments.

Pick was now noticing Rome's face, things like his lips looking soft. Pick, deep down, knew that this wasn't the kind of thing that a friend should notice, but it wasn't his fault it was that girl's fault! She's the one who put that idea that he and Rome were more than friends, so now he was noticing those things, but it was just because he was nervous and confused.

Just because of it.

"I hear your class needs to do that history homework too…" Rome began, looking away.

"History homework? "

"Yeah, the one about the festival." Rome bit his lip and Pick was distracted for a few moments until he remembered the teacher explaining about the local temple history report.

"Oh yes, we have a report to do, why?"

"Really?" Rome's face lit up. "My class too!"

"Um, good for you then." Pick chuckled.

"That means we can go together!" Rome smiled.

Pick smiled back, ready to say 'Of course, let's go', but then he just remembered what his classmate had said and started to wonder if he really should go with Rome. 

"Why don't you go with your classmates?" he asked instead.

"Because I want to go with P’Pick." Rome pouted.

'Cute…' Pick frowned. What kind of sudden thought was that? Rome wasn't cute, Rome wasn't…

"P’Pick doesn't want to go with Rome?" He asked softly and Pick's heart fluttered.

Okay, Pick could say Rome was cute, right? That didn't mean anything. It didn't mean that Pick liked him that way.

Pick was just stating a fact.

"Alright, we can go together."

Chapter Text

The sun was setting as Pick was waiting at the staircase to the mountain, typing on his phone the points he was supposed to take notes for his history class report. There were other people from his school coming up the staircase too, apparently because everyone has to research and learn about the local history.

It didn't take long for him to see Rome arriving, smiling and his cheeks flushed as he waved at Pick.

"Hi phi." He said, looking Pick from his toes to his head and Pick just realized that Rome was checking him out.

He blushed, but he couldn't do anything but check on Rome too, unable to help but think about how handsome he looked in his casual clothes.

"Uh, hi."

They stared at each other for a few seconds and Pick cleared his throat.

"Shall we go?" Rome nodded, silent, and they started up the staircase.

The temple was on a mountain and took a few minutes to get up there, where the annual festival of thanksgiving to the goddess was taking place. By the time they arrived at the festival entrance, the sun had fully set and only fairy lights illuminated the partially filled venue.

Pick started walking through the food and game stalls when he felt a soft, warm hand wrap around his own. He looked back, but Rome was looking down at his feet when he said,

"I don't want to get lost from you, phi."

Pick's heart sped up and he didn't have the strength to pull his hand away, instead he just intertwined his fingers through Rome's, not thinking about what he was doing and just acting.

"Okay."

And with that the whole atmosphere changed and it looked like they're on a date instead of doing their homework. Pick swallowed, very aware of their closeness. ‘This is nothing’ he thought ‘we’re just friends helping each other with homework’ . There’s nothing wrong with holding Rome’s hand, right? That doesn’t mean anything. If he held Rome’s hand all the way through the fairy lights, it was just because he didn’t want the shorty to get lost. 

Because he was too shorty.

"P’Pick, I wanna go there!" Rome pulled him by the hand to a food stall.

Pick opened his mouth to say that they should concentrate on gathering information for the report, but Rome's giggling voice filled his senses and he felt happiness all over his chest and he knew he wanted to hear the shorty laughing more. 'Maybe we can just walk a little'. It was nice when Rome was happy and carefree, because it made Pick feel happy too.

So he just let Rome drag him down the path, the half light from the yellow lanterns that decorated the courtyard illuminating the shorty's wide smile and flushed cheeks. Pick was mesmerized.

"I want that candy." Rome said to the vendor, who nodded and smiled at them, handing them the candy he asked for. "P’Pick don't want one too?"

"Oh no, I'm not hungry."

Rome began to eat while Pick looked around.

"Did you come for a walk or make a wish to the goddess?" the old man of the candy stall asked.

"We're doing our homework." Pick explained. "A report about the festival."

"Oh I see. And what are you thinking of the festival?"

"It's pretty cool." Pick smiled politely at him.

"Phi, can I ask a question?" Rome said.

"Of course, young man."

"What are these draws on the lanterns?" He pointed to the big yellow lanterns farther down the center of the courtyard, which had shapes that looked like they were hand-drawn in red paint. "Why do they look like…cats?"

"That's right Nong." The old man nodded. “The goddess is known for providing good luck and fortune to our land. For those who work in the temple, tending to the altar of the goddess, she is a cunning, intelligent and very proud divinity, so that's why we usually represent her as the form of a cat.”

"Oh, that's really cool." Rome nodded excitedly.

"Yes, it is."

Well, it was really interesting and Pick took the opportunity to type this into his phone to include in the history report.

“People usually write their most important wishes on amulets and deposit them on the goddess's altar. If you do this with all your faith and heart, the goddess will bless you with good luck and determination to reach your dream.”

"Really?" He turned to Pick. “P’Pick, can we…?”

“Shorty, we…” Rome's eyes sparkled with excitement, in a way Pick couldn't say no. "...we can."

"Thank you, phi."

‘Why you’re so fucking cute?’ Pick shook his head to push the thought away, while the store owner pointed to the stall where they could buy the paper amulets.

They thanked and said goodbye, heading towards the tent on the other side of the festival, near the trees at the edge of the forest. Rome led the way, excited like a child, pulling Pick by the hand. Pick looked at their tightly entwined fingers 'this isn't a date'.

Rome had to let go of his hand to pick up an amulet and write on it, and for a moment Pick missed the soft warmth and comfort of the shorty's closeness.

"P’Pick won't make a wish too?" Rome asked, as he handed the pen back to the vendor and folded the amulet paper.

"No, I'm fine." Pick shrugged.

“Okay phi. I think we have to go there now, to deposit my amulet.”

"And what did you wished for?" Pick asked, curious.

What would Rome want with all his heart?

"N-nothing!" Rome stuttered, looking away and blushing.

“Awu, what do you mean by nothing? I saw you writing something there…” Pick took the paper out of Rome's hand, who widened his eyes and tried to take it back immediately.

“P’Pick, no!” Rome tried to reach out, but Pick raised the paper in the air and he was too short to take it back. Pick chuckled at Rome's angry face, who was on his tiptoes trying to get it back. "P’Pick, please don't do this!"

"Is this a secret?" He raised an eyebrow.

"Yes, it's a secret, now give it back to me." Rome stopped, crossing his arms.

"And why can't I know?" Pick teased more.

He wasn't really going to push Rome too hard, he just found it funny to tease him. There was something exciting about making Rome angry.

"Because I don't want to tell you right now!" Rome yells. "Don't be a dumbass, phi!"

“Why are you like that? Did you wish for someone's love or something?" Pick teased further.

"Yes!" Rome said, his cheeks red and his eyes angry.

Pick was speechless for a moment. Had Rome really wished for someone's love?

"Are you… in love with someone?"

"I am! I'm in love with such a dumbass!” Rome yelled, still very angry.

Pick's heart sped up.

"Who?" The words left his mouth as the question came to his mind.

"P’Pick really wants to know?" Rome gave him a meaningful look.

Pick swallowed, locked in Rome's gaze for a moment. The two stared at each other in silence, the gentle breeze passing between them. Rome took a step closer to Pick and his gaze softened, as if he saw something in Pick's eyes.

"Do you really want to know, P’Pick?" He asked in that soft tone that made Pick's heart flutter. "I can tell you if you want."

Pick opened his mouth to respond, but nothing came. What did Rome mean to say? Deep down, it was as if Pick already knew the answer. The affectionate tone of voice in which they spoke to each other, the need to be close…

“P’Pick…”

Suddenly, a very strong gust of wind hit them both, making Rome stumble forward and Pick caught him reflexively, dropping the paper.

"My amulet!" Rome gasped, straightening and running after the paper, which was flying toward the trees.

"Shit!" He cursed, running right after him.

The amulet flew and Pick was afraid it would disappear into the forest. 'Rome will be so upset,' he thought, as he hurried after the paper.

Whether there was a goddess or not, Pick didn't know, but he sighed in relief when the amulet got stuck in one of the branches of one of the trees. Rome stood on tiptoe to reach, but obviously couldn't, so Pick reached behind him and grabbed the amulet.

"Here."

Rome turned and suddenly they were too close. Rome startled, nervous, and nearly stumbled backward, so Pick grabbed him around the waist to keep him upright.

“P’Pick…” Rome sighed, looking intensely into Pick's eyes.

They were so close that if Pick leaned just a little their lips would touch. The thought didn't scare him as much as the urge he felt to actually do it, and he almost started to freak out when he realized he was actually thinking about kissing Rome, when Rome's hands cupped his face, holding him gently.

Pick's attention returned to the shorty's fondly gaze, who was caressing his cheeks with his thumb.

“P’Pick…” He didn't finish his sentence, instead leaning in, pulling Pick's face close to him and pressing their lips together.

Pick sighed, closing his eyes, feeling like the whole world had disappeared when he felt the heat of Rome's lips against his. He began to shyly return the kiss, tasting the candy Rome had eaten earlier. 'They're really soft,' he thought.

They kissed slowly and sweetly, and Pick felt his heart might stop. Rome's hand caressing his cheeks, Rome's mouth against his, Rome's tongue sliding over his… Rome.

He was kissing Rome.

Kissing.

Pick's eyes widened suddenly, becoming very aware of what he was doing. 'What I…?' Anxiety and fear gripped his head as he realized what had just happened and then, without thinking, he pushed Rome with all his might.

Rome fell to the ground, caught off guard, and widened his eyes at Pick.

“Phi, I…”

"What the fuck was that?" Pick asked, freaking out at the situation.

What the hell had just happened? Why the hell had Rome kissed him? Was Rome… in love with Pick?

His breath hitched as he began to think of a million things at once, as his mind began to point out all the reasons why he shouldn't have kissed Rome.

“Phi, I'm sorry I…” Rome said, getting up from the ground, and Pick saw how scared and hurted Rome was of Pick's reaction.

Pick's heart broke. 'I pushed him,' his mind accused and he felt like crap. How could he do that?

"Rome…" Pick looked at his arms, trying to see if he was hurt, but he couldn't see anything in the half light.

Pick wanted to scream, wanted to tell Rome it wasn't his fault. But he couldn't handle it now, he had to get away because he could hurt Rome even more.

Rome took a hesitant step towards him and Pick turned quickly, walking away as fast as he could, almost running. Heart pounding and breathing erratic. He ran through the trees, unable to focus on just one thought at a time. He stopped when he realized he was alone and tried to calm down.

He looked at the amulet that was still in his hand and felt angry. 'It's all that stupid amulet's fault!'. Of course he knew it wasn't the amulet's fault, but Pick was confused and so fucking angry with himself, so he just crumpled up the paper with all his anger and threw it as far as he could into the forest.

'I'm so fucking stupid!' he thought, running a hand nervously through his hair.

The air around him suddenly felt heavy, and Pick felt that someone was approaching. And then, a voice said behind him.

"How dare you?"

Chapter Text

Pick turned immediately, but saw nothing. He frowned, wondering if he was hearing things, but then the voice spoke again.

"How dare you vandalize my sanctuary, human?"

Pick's eyes widened when he saw the bushes move, and then a brown fur black-eared cat came out from behind the tree trunk.

Pick let out an incredulous laugh.

"How funny, I thought I heard someone talking but it's just a cat." He muttered, shaking his head.

The cat jumped up and stopped right in front of Pick, his big sharp yellow eyes looking straight into his. Pick took a step back.

"You disrespected my sanctuary, child, and now I want to know how you're going to make up for it."

"Shit, the cat really spoke!" Pick exclaimed, shocked.

The cat took another step towards Pick, who tripped and fell in a sitting position, still very impressed with what was just happening.

'Okay, there's a cat talking to me,' he swallowed 'there are only two options, either I'm crazy or this cat is…'

"Yes, I am the goddess of this temple."

"Did you just read my mind?" Pick frowned.

“I can't read minds, but I just know that humans have a tendency to doubt when they talk to me.”

"Do you talk to humans often?" Pick arched an eyebrow.

"That's not the point." The goddess - now he knew what the talking cat was - approached Pick with a disapproving look. "The big question here, boy, is that you just disrespected my sanctuary."

"Huh?" Pick was confused for a moment, but then he remembered the paper amulet he'd crumpled and tossed into the woods. "Oh, the amulet."

"Exactly. How are you going to fix this?” she questioned, walking around him.

Pick looked in the direction he had thrown the paper, where was only the vast expanse of forest now, as the wind had probably carried it away.

"Er... I think the paper flew away."

"That is terrible." She sighed, lowering her head.

“But it was just a paper…”

And then, the goddess looked into Pick's eyes again, and as she walked towards him, she got bigger and bigger, leaving Pick a little bit scared.

“It wasn't just a simple paper, it was a prayer, a sincere wish from a sincere heart, and when you have a sincere wish, there is magic. And with that magic, I work blessing those who trust it to me, boy. Now tell me, how are you going to restore that poor boy's wish? You don't take other people's feelings seriously or your own feelings, so it's my job to teach you a lesson.”

Pick held his breath,  startled that the cat goddess had increased in size out of nowhere and her voice had deepened, as if she were speaking inside Pick's head.

“You have two days to bring that boy's wish back to my altar, as it should be. If you do, I'll understand that you've learned a little bit about valuing other people's feelings, otherwise you'll stay that way for... a long time.”

Pick was confused, not understanding what the goddess meant by 'this way', but then a very strong wind hit him, making him close his eyes and raise his hand to protect himself…except he didn't have a hand.

The wind passed and Pick widened his eyes, looking at a paw. He raised his other hand and now he was seeing two paws. He ran his 'hands' over his face, feeling fur instead of skin and when he got to his head he felt his ears were very different.

Because they were cat ears.

And then he understood that it wasn't the goddess who had increased in size, it was he who had shrunk because she had turned him into a cat!

Pick's breath hitched as he began to freak out, looking around, looking for the direction of the festival. He saw the yellow lanterns in the distance and ran in that direction, until he reached the courtyard and was startled by how huge the people looked next to him.

"Fuck!" He yelled when a girl tripped over his tail, but she probably only heard a very loud meow as she soon smiled and tried to get closer to Pick.

"Aww what a cute kitty…?" She pulled away quickly when Pick hissed and jumped back.

He wasn't going to let a random girl harass him just because he had suddenly become a cat!

Pick ran away, trying to find the cat goddess to try to undo it - for obvious reasons, of course, because Pick couldn't just become a cat.

He ran around the festival yard for a few minutes but found nothing. After running for a while, the agitation and shock at realizing he was now a cat had subsided, so he started to think about the possibilities.

'She said I have to return the amulet to the altar…' He remembered.

If Pick could find the amulet where Rome wrote his wish and manage to bring it back to the altar, the goddess would turn him back to human.

It was very simple, actually, and he almost cursed himself for wasting so much time running randomly across the courtyard, since he could have been looking for the amulet from the beginning.

 

 

 

 

He had managed to get back to the side of the forest where he had run after the 'incident' with Rome and started looking from there. He didn't run too far, however, for fear of getting lost in the forest. He kept close to the outskirts of the temple and the staircase, but after what seemed like hours, Pick just realized that he wasn't going to find the amulet at all.

The wind was very strong, and the piece of paper had probably flown too far. Maybe it wasn't even on the mountain anymore!

How would Pick find it?

He sighed, stopping sadly under a tree and accepting that he wouldn't find the paper amulet.

'This is my punishment for being a dumbass,' he thought. Maybe he deserved it, maybe the goddess was right and he was too selfish to think about the others feelings.

The entire time he had been thinking about just how scared he was instead of thinking about Rome's feelings. Pick curled up on the floor, feeling like the worst person in the entire world.

Well, not a person, because now he wasn't a person anymore.

He would have stayed there, in the middle of the forest, feeling pity for himself for the rest of his life, if he hadn't started noticing the noise of other animals around him.

There were too many and too close, and the fear of finding some dangerous animal overcame the sadness for a few minutes, making him get up and run towards the stairs, where he knew there would be fewer animals.

Pick ran and ran, until he reached the safety of the staircase and sighed in relief.

Aimless and hopeless, he started down the stairs slowly. There was no one there - most likely because it had been a long time and it must have been very late at night.

After almost reaching the street, however, he saw a human sitting on one of the steps. Pick approached carefully and his heart started to race as he realized that he recognized that little human even from afar.

"Rome!" He yelled, but Rome didn't turn around.

Because Pick couldn't speak.

Because he was a cat.

He ran toward Rome, slowing down when he was close enough to hear his sobs.

Rome was crying.

Pick walked around him, facing the boy, who had his head resting on his knees.

"Rome..." Pick's heart ached to see the boy like that.

Rome lifted his head from his arms and looked at Pick. His eyes were puffy and his face was red, wet with tears, but still, when he looked at Pick and smiled, he looked like the most beautiful thing Pick had ever seen in his life.

"Oh, what a cute kitty." Rome said, reaching out to touch him.

Pick stood there, looking sadly at Rome, until he felt the boy's warm hand caressing his head.

It felt really good.

"What do you do here? Are you lost?" Rome asked, not waiting for an answer, obviously.

Pick approached Rome, leaning his forehead against the boy's knee and closing his eyes.

'What a mess,' he thought, as Rome's hand continued to stroke his ear, ‘what madness have I gotten myself into?’

He heard Rome sniffle and pulled back to look into the boy's face. Rome wiped his face with both hands, taking a few deep breaths before looking at Pick again.

"Time to go, P’Pick is not coming back." He gave a sad smile and got up from the step, stroking Pick's head once more. "See you cute kitty, thanks for keeping me company."

Rome then started walking down the street, leaving.

Pick didn't think twice about jumping down the stairs and following Rome.

He might be a cat now, but at least he could still be close to Rome.

Chapter Text

Pick followed Rome all the way home, and the shorty hadn't noticed him around until they entered the backyard.

"Oh, did you follow me here?" Rome reached down, stroking his head again. "Don't you have a house?"

Pick just stared at him, not knowing what to do. He was a cat now, so he couldn't just talk. And if he couldn't speak, how could he communicate with Rome?

Rome sighed and Pick was startled when he felt the boy's hands envelop him and take him into the air.

Rome was carrying him.

"I think I need company today too." He mutters, closing the gate and entering the house, carrying the cat.

If Pick could, he would blush.

It felt weird being carried by Rome like that, but at the same time it felt good. Being close to him felt good.

They entered the house and everything was dark. Rome didn't bother to turn on the light, he just kicked off his shoes and locked the door, going straight to his room and then gently placing him on the floor.

"You can stay here." He smiled and stroked Pick's ear before going to the bed.

Pick stood in the middle of the room, watching as Rome typed something on his phone and then put it to his ear. Pick could hear the call noise until it hit voicemail.

“Hi P’Pick, it's me again… Sorry about before, I just… It doesn't matter, nothing happened, right? We still have to do that history report…” Pick's heart ached as Rome forced a laugh as his eyes watered. "So you could call me when... No, you don't have to, just text me when you can..."

He turned off the phone and tossed it aside, lying down on the bed and covering himself with the blanket. Pick knew he was crying even before he heard the sobs.

He jumped onto Rome's bed, walking around the boy and getting close to his face. The shorty - if Pick could still call him that now that he was ten times smaller than Rome - had his face completely wet with tears again.

“Rome…” Pick tried to say, but what came out to the boy was just a meow.

Still, Rome opened his eyes and reached a hand to Pick, who closed his eyes and leaned his head immediately at the touch.

'It's all my fault.' Pick would cry if he could.

“I'm so dumb, how could I think…” Pick looked at him again. “I shouldn't have kissed him but…but I love P’Pick so much…” He sobbed and Pick moved closer, sniffing Rome's cheek. "I'm so scared that P’Pick will never speak to me again..."

“Rome, I'm sorry…” Pick meowed and Rome began to cry copiously.

His body shook as he sobbed and Pick didn't know what to do. He had never, in his entire life, wished he could hug Rome so much. If he had his arms now, he would hug Rome to his chest tightly, until the boy stopped crying.

Pick walked around, agitated and desperate.

"Rome, I… Fuck." He couldn't speak, he couldn't apologize.

He couldn't hug Rome.

Pick truly wanted to cry.

'Why'd I have to break what I love so much?' he meowed again, but Rome didn't look at him.

Pick got as close as he could, nuzzling under Rome's chin. The boy just reached out and hugged Pick closer.

"Poor kitten, you have no idea what's going on right?" The boy sniffled and muttered, hearing another meow in response. "I will take care of you."

'I wish I could take care of you,' Pick thought.

His heart was broken. He never wanted to see Rome like that, ever. He acted without thinking, he was stupid and selfish. It was all his fault and he didn't know how to fix this mess yet, but he was sure of one thing: he would learn how to take care of Rome.

Chapter Text

Pick heard a giggle.

There’s a hand on his stomach and the warmth surrounding him was so comfortable that he just sighed, stretching for a moment, hearing that giggle again and opening his eyes.

"Oh, sorry to wake you up." Rome's face was close and Pick could see every detail of him. He was so pretty and Pick never really stopped to appreciate that before because he was always scared of what he would feel if he did. "You are so cute and you were purring so loud." Rome chuckled again.

'Purring?' Pick tilted his head, remembering 'oh, right, I'm a cat now…' The smiling boy's hand caressed his stomach and Pick didn't know if he was more embarrassed by it or by purring to Rome.

He looked at the boy's face and brought one of his paws to his cheek. ’You're the only cute one here…’ Rome smiled, leaning in and nuzzling Pick's head.

He still was a little embarrassed, but being around Rome felt really good, so they just spent some time lying in bed that saturday morning.

Rome didn't look excited to do anything else and his eyes were still puffy from crying so hard the day before, but at least now he was smiling and laughing a little.

The boy poked his nose with a finger, then he leaned in and licked Rome's nose in return.

"Oi." Rome laughed. "I thought you were a cat, not a dog." Pick huffed and nearly rolled his eyes. “I should give you a name…” He frowned thoughtfully. "Actually, are you a boy or a girl?"

And then Rome reached up to his legs, ready to get him up and 'check', so of course Pick jumped back as fast as he could, landing on his feet on the other side of the bed. He'd let Rome rub his belly and play with his ears all day if he had to - he liked it a lot, after all - but that was off limits.

Even if he was a cat now, he wouldn't let Rome look… It was too embarrassing!

"Sorry, sorry!" Rome chuckled, getting up from the bed. "I won't do this anymore, I swear, come here."

Pick looked at him suspiciously, but approached anyway. The boy's arms went around him once more, carrying him in the air and crushing him against his chest.

“You're so cute and so shy, just like P’Pi-…” He stopped the sentence midway, sighing. "You're probably hungry, right?" Rome set him down again and went to the closet. Pick sat comfortably, watching what he was doing, until Rome started to take off his shirt and Pick's eyes widened, turning away at once.

'This is wrong, so wrong, because he thinks I'm a cat… But actually, I really am a cat now, so how wrong would it be if I…?' The sound of the door opening brought him back to reality and he turned around, seeing that the boy had already changed and was looking at him amused.

"A really strange cat." Rome muttered and they went down the stairs, heading towards the kitchen.

Now that he couldn't speak and there was no one to judge how much he looked at the boy, Pick just jumped up onto the counter and lay down, just watching him.

“I don't have cat food here, so I should probably go buy something…” Rome crossed his arms thoughtfully. “Oh, I should probably buy a cat litter box too…”

‘No way’ Pick flinched. That would never happen, not even if he had to go to the woods every day to do his needs, he would never use the litter box for Rome to clean up after!

The boy made a sandwich and sat at the counter to eat. He took a piece of bread and held it out towards Pick.

"Do you want some?" Pick ate the piece of bread. "I promise I'll buy your food soon after." He patted his head again.

‘You're so kind…’ Pick watched him finish eating and pick up his phone, looking for something and soon his face turned sad.

He brought the phone to his ear and Pick listened to the call sound until the call dropped, this time Rome didn't leave any messages.

The whole calm, peaceful atmosphere turned to sadness again, and he couldn't bear the boy's sad, lost look.

‘I can't just stay like this forever,’ what would happen to his father? Would he look for Pick? Had he already noticed that he disappeared? And what would happen to Rome? Would he be sad forever, thinking that Pick had abandoned him?

He needed to find a way, needed to find a solution.

The goddess said he would have to take Rome's wish back to the altar, but it would be impossible to find that amulet… Unless he could make the boy re-wish…

'That's it!' Pick thought, agitated, 'if I make him rewrite the wish, then…'

He hadn't noticed that, with all the inner turmoil, he'd started to wag his tail from side to side, and when Rome reached out to touch it, Pick got scared and jumped to the side, hitting juice glass and dropping it on the floor.

"Shit!" Rome got up, grabbing a napkin to wipe the floor and picking up the pieces of glass.

Pick jumped to his side, dipping his paws in the juice.

"Careful!" The boy pushed him to the side, so he wouldn't cut himself with the glass and Pick took a few steps back, noticing that his paws' marks had been left on the ground.

He stared at the marks for a few seconds and then his eyes widened.

‘I'm so fucking dumb!’

He started dragging his paw frantically on the floor, trying to form something.

‘Why didn't I think of this before?

He couldn't speak, of course, but he could try to communicate in another way! He tried to form some word on the floor, but it wouldn't work with his juice-smeared paw, it would have to be something more 'colorful', so he started looking around the kitchen, trying to find something.

He spotted a pack of ketchup on top of one of the cupboards 'That's it!'. Without thinking twice, Pick jumped up onto the counter again and from there he took his best leap up into the cupboard.

"Oh, what are you doing?" Rome asked and Pick pushed the ketchup, which fell to the floor, making more mess. "Oh no, why are you doing this?"

Pick jumped to the ground before Rome could get closer and wet his paw in ketchup. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, but it would do.

With his heart racing and his body shaking, Pick tried his best to write on the floor.

“What… p… i… c…?” And then Rome looked scared at him. “Pick? What? How…?”

Rome was confused and scared, probably thinking it was crazy, because cats aren’t supposed to write things.

"So you’re not a common cat.." Pick jumped and shook his head, excited to finally be communicating with Rome. “Alright, alright…”

The boy took a deep breath, trying to make sense of it.

“And what about P’Pick? You wrote his name… Did something happen to him?” he asked, worried.

Pick tried to write again on the floor, but it wasn't easy to do that with ketchup, he still managed to write “It’s me”.

"It’s you? What do you mean by…” Rome's eyes widened. "P’Pick?"

Pick nodded frantically.

"Shit! Are you really P’Pick?" He confirmed it again. "Like really?"

"Rome…" Pick meowed, walking around in circles, excited that he was making some progress and was able to actually communicate with the boy.

“Oh, I have a better idea!”

And then, the two of them climbed the stairs back to Rome's room.

Chapter Text

Rome was simply shocked.

The spelling was a little difficult to understand, but still he could read the words the cat - well, now he knew it wasn't really a cat - was writing on the paper.

His bedroom floor was a mess, littered with stained papers and paw prints in black paint on the floor.

"So, uh…" He held up one of the stained papers. "So P'Pick was turned into a cat by the goddess?"

The cat meowed and jumped around him, making more mess on the floor.

"Because she was mad at P'Pick because he threw Rome's amulet away?" He picked up another of the papers. There were a total of fifteen - it was rather difficult to write things with a cat's paw, Rome noticed. "And now P'Pick has to return the amulet to the altar?"

"Meow!" Pick exclaimed excitedly.

His tail wiggled frantically from side to side and Rome could bet he wasn't aware of it. 

'Cute'.

"And P'Pick needs help?" Pick nodded frantically. "Got it. I'll help you P'Pick, don't worry!" Rome smiled assuring him and Pick sighed in relief. "We can go right now, where's the amulet?"

Pick's ears dropped and he looked at the ground.

"Need more paper?" He nodded and Rome placed another in front of him, along with the pot of black ink.

Lost it. He wrote.

"Oh."

Rewrite.

"Do I have to rewrite my wish then? Just this?" Pick nodded. "It's easy, we can do it today, as soon as the festival stalls open."

Pick still looked sad as he stared at the floor and Rome reached out to pat his head.

"Don't worry, we'll fix this." Rome smiled and Pick stirred. "Oh sorry." He pulled his hand away, thinking it made the other feel uncomfortable.

In fact, he had done so much more. Now that he'd calmed down a bit and accepted the fact that the cat was his phi, Rome started thinking about the things he'd done in front of him.

'Oh god, I carried him and stroked his belly… and even tried to check if he was…' Rome grunted, ashamed of his actions, but then he felt something soft on his knee. It was Pick, who had approached and rested his head on Rome's leg.

"P'Pick?" The cat just flickered its ear, signaling that it was listening to him. "Is P'Pick okay with that?" He touched his fur gently and Pick just nodded.

Rome smiled and continued petting him until he felt Pick was purring. 'That means he's happy, right? I can't believe P'Pick…' he sighed, relieved and content, knowing that Pick didn't feel disgust for him after the kiss.

'Maybe we can still continue as friends after all.'

And Rome was happy about that, because he didn't want to lose him, even though he could only be close to him as a friend.

Chapter Text

Rome was lying on his bed, dozing off after lunch, with Pick lying on top of his belly. He had tried to offer him cat food, but Pick bristled and ran away, so Rome took that as a clear sign that he didn't want it.

He was still a little embarrassed and confused, not understanding his behavior changing, but enjoying it while he could.

'P’Pick is purring at me again,' he thought, giggling.

He didn't know how long this was going to last or if Pick would talk about it after he got back to normal, but Rome would keep those sweet moments in his mind forever.





It's finally afternoon and they were walking through the festival stalls again. Rome was nervous, because even though he was helping Pick now, the last time they actually talked face to face was when he kissed him, and it all turned out really bad - Pick had pushed him to the ground, after all, and he couldn't deny that it hurted his heart deeply.

He didn't know what to expect or how to act, but this wasn't the time to think about it, so he just walked silently towards the amulets seller, with the cat right beside him.





Pick watched as Rome bought another amulet and wrote on it. He was still curious to know what the boy had written, but he could find that out later.

Rome thanked the vendor and looked at him, waving to the end of the courtyard. The two walked in silence until they reached the altar. The shorty closed his eyes, made a prayer, and then placed the folded paper amulet there.

"It's done, P’Pick." He said and the two stared at each other for a few seconds. "Do you feel something different?"

Pick shook his head.

"I wrote exactly the same thing." Rome frowned. “Maybe it will take a while…”

But it wasn't supposed to be long. Something was wrong.

Pick started walking and looking around until he saw the same brown cat with black ears from the day before.

"It's her!" He meowed and Rome was confused - of course.

Pick ran towards the forest as fast as he could, hearing only Rome's voice yell in the distance, 'P'Pick wait!' .

He didn't go far into the forest until he met the cat goddess.

"I thought I said you should retrieve the lost amulet, boy." She looked at him with her sharp eyes.

“I brought him to wish again, you didn't specify how I was supposed to bring it back…” Pick muttered. "Besides, I was able to communicate with him even though I was a cat, that should count for something."

"And what are you going to do if I make you human again?" She walked around him.

"I don't know, but…but I'm sure I need to make it up to Rome, and apologize." He looked at the ground. "And sorry to disrespect your sanctuary."

"And you swear you won't make mistakes like that anymore?"

"I can't swear this, because I'm kind of a dumbass... But I'll try my best and... And I'll always try to fix my mistakes."

"Guess you're right." She nodded. "Okay boy, you passed."

Pick's vision blurred for a few seconds as he felt a weird feeling and things around him got smaller.

"Wow!" He almost fell to the ground, feeling dizzy and looking at his human hands again.

He ran a hand over his face, down his arms, relieved to be back and to be wearing his clothes from the day before - that was a concern, because people who transform in movies and cartoons always revert back to their normal form naked and , well, Pick didn't want to appear naked in the middle of the forest.

"Why would I have enough power to turn you into a human but not to give you back your clothes?" the goddess asked, rolling her eyes.

“Did you just…?”

"No, but that's another common human question." She approached him, pushing a crumpled piece of paper towards him.

"What is that?" Pick bent down and picked up the paper.

"So you don't forget the things that matter and your promise to always try to fix your mistakes."

Pick looked at the paper, recognizing it as the amulet he had crumpled and thrown away the day before, and then looking at the ground again, but the goddess was gone.

He opened the paper carefully.

 

'I wish I could be with P’Pick forever.'

 

Pick smiled, feeling his heart flutter.

"P’Pick?"

He stuffed the paper into his pocket and turned around, finding Rome looking at him uncertainly.

"You're human again." Rome smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. “It's a relief, I thought you were gone again, uh…” He scratched the back of his neck. "I'm glad I found you..." His eyes were watery and Pick felt a tightening in his heart.

Rome probably thought he'd leave without him when he took off running, just like last time.

“Rome…” Pick walked towards him.

“That's crazy, this cat thing…” He chuckled a little. “I thought I was going crazy, but it really was P’Pick and then…” He stopped when Pick took his hand. "P’Pick?"

Pick didn't say anything, just pulled him close, hugging him tight and sighing.

"P’Pick?"

"I can finally hug you back." He muttered against Rome's hair. "Sorry for pushing you."

"I-it's fine." He stuttered, gripping Pick's shirt tightly and sniffling. "Rome is fine now."

They stayed like that for a moment, until Rome muttered against his chest again.

"Sorry about the kiss."

"Don't apologize."

“But…” And then Pick gave him a quick peck. "P’Pick!"

"We're even now."

Pick felt his own face heat up.

“This kiss isn't the same as the one I gave you before, so if phi wants to be even with me…” Rome said, looking away.

Pick sighed, pulling away from the embrace and pulling Rome toward the staircase. He wouldn't kiss Rome like that right in the place where the cat goddess scolded him before.

The shorty was confused, not knowing if he had made him angry again or not. 

They were halfway down the staircase with only the yellow lanterns illuminating the empty spot.

"P’Pick?" Rome asked, trying to follow his hurried footsteps. “I didn’t mean to…”

He couldn't finish the sentence because Pick's lips were on his again. Rome sighed in surprise, kissing him back.

This time, it was a full kiss, and Pick released his wrist to pull him closer by the waist while Rome wrapped his arms around his neck.

"We’re even now?" Pick asked, lips touching Rome's on each word.

"Definitely." Rome nodded frantically, leaning in for another kiss, but Pick just kissed his cheek and buried his face in Rome's neck.

"I love you too, sorry for being stupid." He felt Rome tremble in his arms. "Rome?"

"Uh…" He sobbed and Pick pulled away to look at his face. "Sorry." He tried to quickly wipe the tears away.

"Why are you crying?" Pick surprised himself with how soft he sounded.

"It's just... Yesterday I thought P’Pick would never speak to me again and now... And now P’Pick says he loves me." He blushed and giggled. "It's crazy."

"Yeah, it's crazy, but stop crying." He cupped Rome's cheeks in both hands.

"Only if phi gives me another kiss."

Pick rolled his eyes but leaned in and pressed his lips to Rome's again.





The next day, they were in Pick's room, with Rome lying on top of him, his head resting on his chest as Pick stroked his hair.

"I think I'm going to miss P’Pick purring at me though."

"Oi shorty!" Pick pinched his belly and Rome laughed. "Stop with this."

"It's nice to hear the sounds that P’Pick made."

"Stop it or I'll make you make some sounds."

Rome shifted to look at his face.

"Please P’Pick, make me." He said shamelessly.

“You’re so…” Pick pulled him up. "Come here."

Rome leaned eagerly, pressing lips together again. He didn't know how many times they had kissed since the day before, but even though his lips were swollen from it, he couldn't help but plunge into another kiss whenever he could.

“So…” He panted. "Pick is Rome's now?"

"Uh, you know the answer." Pick mumbled.

"But Rome would love to hear phi say it."

Pick sighed, defenseless against those bright eyes and rosy cheeks.

"I'm yours." He said, blushing.

"I'm yours too, phi." Rome smiled widely, giving him a peck. "And Rome can call P’Pick his boyfriend now?" Pick nodded. “And Rome can kiss P’Pick whenever he wants now?” Pick nodded again and Rome giggled happily, snuggling closer to him. "What else can Rome do then?"

"Anything you want." Pick hugged him tight, smelling his scent and feeling his heart flutter.

Is always like that with Rome.

"Uii phi, so bold."

He pinched the boy's belly again, smiling, feeling all happy and cozy inside.

 

Chapter Text

It was nighttime and only two hours before the library closes, but he needed to finish that list that day, so Off hurried into the building as fast as he could and took the stairs two at a time.

The place was pretty empty so his hurried footsteps made a funny noise through the halls, but he wasn't caring about anything right now, all he needed was to find the damn calculus book right away and sit down at any table to make that math list that the teacher asked and fast!

When he finally found the book he breathed a sigh of relief, calming down a bit and looking around, seeing where he would sit.

Off didn't often go to the university library, he preferred to study in his dorm instead, mainly because he felt more comfortable studying alone and the library used to get crowded, but at that time there were only a few people for his luck.

He sat at an empty table by the window and opened the book, taking out his notebook and starting to do his assignment. At one point, someone sat down in front of him, but he was so focused he couldn't care less.

He got confused with the numbers several times - more because it was really hard to study calmly when he had such a short deadline - and had to erase almost everything he'd written in his notebook more than once.

It wasn't until he was correcting the last number that he finally realized that the blue square in his hand certainly didn't belong to him.

Off frowned, looking down at the blue eraser in his hand and then looking up at the stranger sitting in front of him.

The boy was smaller than him, wearing glasses and an oversized shirt. He was lazily scratching something in his notebook and Off felt his whole face heat up.

How could he be using a stranger's stuff like that out of nowhere?

'Maybe he didn't see it, ' he thought, pushing the eraser carefully towards the boy, but he wasn't so lucky, because the shorty noticed right away.

"Oh, are you done?" he asked, looking at the eraser.

"Huh?"

"Your assignment."

The boy smiled cutely and took the eraser from Off's hand, putting it in his bag right away.

"Errr... Uh, sorry to use your stuff like that?" Off scratched the back of his neck, embarrassed.

"It's fine." The boy giggled. "I thought it was cute how you just reached across the table without realizing it and picked up the eraser. You were so focused that I didn't want to disturb you."

"I really, uh..." Off sighed, feeling awkward and not knowing what to say.

"Don't feel bad, phi...?"

"Off."

"Don't feel bad P'Off, I'm glad I helped you in some way." The boy finished putting things in his bag. "I'm Gun, by the way."

"Thanks for letting me borrow your eraser, Nong Gun." Off thanked him and smiled at the boy, because if it wasn't for him, he probably wouldn't have finished his assignment yet.

Gun stared at his smiling face for a moment and a soft shade of red colored his cheeks.

"I-it's n-nothing, phi." He stuttered, looking away.

'How cute' the thought hit Off before he could even realize he was staring at the boy.

"I'll be going then." Off cleared his throat.

"Okay." Gun nodded shyly.

"Good night, Nong."

"Good night, P'Off."

Gun started to leave first, but before he was far away he turned to Off again and said:

"I'll be here again tomorrow if phi needs to borrow the eraser one more time. Bye!"

And then he almost ran out of the library while Off just stood there processing what had happened.

Chapter Text

Third never thought he could be so frustrated in his life at that point.

Sexually frustrated, to be precise.

But there he was again, early in the morning with his hard cock on his hand and biting his lips to hold back a moan.

Because he was secretly jerking off in the shower.

Again.

Not that there was any problem with that, of course not, but Third didn't want to be jerking off in the bathroom while his handsome boyfriend was working on a script on the couch. Instead, Third would  prefer to be sitting on said boyfriend's lap, making out and then being fucked by him until he forgets his own name.

He almost moaned at the thought, because Khai was really good at fucking him. 

Like, really good.

And Third would love every second of it.

And of course he would never say that out loud to his boyfriend - even if Khai knew it without him having to say, anyway - because his ego and confidence was too much to handle without Third admitting how much he loved the moments of their intimacy.

And then there was Third's own personality problem, which didn't allow him to just walk up to his boyfriend - his handsome and super hot boyfriend - and say: 'I'm horny, take care of it' .

He just couldn't!

Third could actually die of shame.

Like, really.

So the only solution would be to wait for Khai to look for him and they could finally make love, but that's where Third's other problem was.

Since his first time was really hard - not just in the good way as he even got sick after that - Khai would always wait a few days before he could jump on Third and make him cry again, and now that they had a big project, his horny boyfriend became a hardworking boyfriend, who hasn't touched him for more than a week!

And since Third was also very stressed, Khai would try to not push him too much with anything - which was actually sweet, but Third didn't need him to be sweet now, he needed, you know, to be fucked!

And he was very aware that if not for Khai's irritating and pushy personality, they wouldn't have shared so many happy moments of intimacy they'd had since they started dating - which Third was secretly grateful, because he couldn't give the first step.

He just couldn’t.

And for so many reasons: he was too shy, too inexperienced, too traumatized by all the years of unrequited love and all that... So yeah, Third wasn't going to jump on his lap right now, but he could find a way to make Khai jump on him instead.

It shouldn't be so hard, since Third was a smart guy - at least, smarter than Khai - and his boyfriend was a dumbass who was always thinking about dirty things.

He could do that. It didn't make sense to be whining in the bathroom if he had a very attractive boyfriend just waiting for him on the couch! 

That’s it. 

No more lonely jerking off in the shower!

He would find a way to make Khai touch him tonight!

Wouldn't be hard to make him realize that Third was needy, right? Seducing him would be easy.

So thought Third.

 

 

 

 

Khai was wrong for thinking that Third wasn't into sex that much, because he really was now. He started to feel more and more comfortable and liked it more throughout the time, as he shared and learned things with him. He loved being so close with Khai in those moments and if he could be more honest with him and himself, he would like to do it more often.

Anyway, there's one thing that Khai was right about Third and it was that he doesn't have any experience or ability on seducing someone. He never needed to! Khai was always there, ready to jump on the bed with him without Third having to move a finger!

So now that he was needy his lack of ability was another obstacle, but Third wouldn't be shaken by it. He sat on the bed with the laptop on his lap and googled stuff.

But then, after spending half an hour reading a ton of useless articles, he simply realized that most of the tips written there were more embarrassing than actually going and asking Khai directly, so there was no reason to keep reading. Besides, all of the texts that he found ended up saying 'tell him what you want' and Third felt more frustrated because what's the point of researching 'how to seduce my boyfriend' if they would say 'tell him what you want'?

Third can't say what he wants, that's why he was googling it! 

Well, with that, he  abandoned his laptop and started thinking about all the times he and Khai had sex and what might have made Khai want to do it with him - which made him even more horny, but he was determined - but there wasn't nothing in particular he could remember doing to make Khai want him.

Still, Third was able to come up with a plan - what a smart guy he was - to make Khai want to sleep with him without him actually needing to say it. They had been together and had been doing sex for a while now, so he don't need the google because Third probably knew some things that Khai liked that could turning him on.

 

 

 

 

It wasn't easy, but Third was able to remember three things he did that, since their first time, had always made Khai try to get into his pants, and the first of them was sucking things - not his thing though.

Anyone with eyes could see how Khai stared at his lips with lust every time Third ate a popsicle or a lollipop - he was barely able to do those things at home anymore without being attacked by his boyfriend - so he'd start there.

They had lunch and Khai was sitting on the couch again, working on his script just as he had been for over a week, when Third sat down next to him with a popsicle in hand.

He started to suck, but Khai was resolute in his work, so Third decided to break even more barriers that day and struggled to make some noises and get his attention.

"Hmm." He let it out, softly. "This is really good."

Third tried his best to not blush and lose his cool.

"Really?" Khai tilted his head at him. "Can I have some, Tee rak?"

'There is!' He thought excitedly. 'That's how it always starts.'

Khai moved closer to him on the couch, putting his computer aside and smiling at Third. He reached out and took his wrist gently, bringing the popsicle to his lips.

Third swallowed, feeling his heart pounding and his cheeks heat up.

Khai opened his mouth, bit into the popsicle and then said.

"Oh, it's really good. Thanks, Tee rak."

And that it was.

Third was a little shocked and almost let the popsicle melt in his lap as Khai went back to typing frantically on his computer.

"Uh..." Third groaned, stuffing the rest of the popsicle in his mouth and eating it at once, frustrated.

"What's it, baby?" Khai asked, without even looking at him.

"Nothing." He replied harshly, seeing his boyfriend frown, but before he could ask more, Third had already left the living room.

 

 

 

 

The first attempt had certainly failed, but Third wasn't giving up yet.

There were still two things he could try - even if he could be even more embarrassed for them - but this was no time to be embarrassed or overthink things, so after almost an hour he came back into the living room and sat down next to his boyfriend again.

He subtly laid his head on Khai's shoulder, looking at the computer and biting his lip. The plan was to sit on Khai's lap - which always led him to try to grope Third’s ass - but the problem was that Third didn't usually do that sort of thing.

Again, he was still very embarrassed about being intimate - he was struggling with it though - and it didn't help that Khai was such a jerk that will always tease him about it. 

However, Third sighed, gathering confidence and standing up again, facing Khai and taking the laptop from his hands.

"Aren't you working too hard? You should take a break."

"Oh." Khai looked at him confused for a few seconds and then smiled. "You're right, I should probably-" He stopped suddenly as Third sat on his lap, burying his face in his neck.

Khai's hands automatically went to his waist and Third felt his heart flutter.  

'Now, yes!'

He could do that.

He could start intimate things with his boyfriend, no big deal!

With the sudden surge of confidence, he even managed to say:

"I think I'll take a break with you then."

Khai's hands went to his cheeks, bringing Third to face him.

Third bit his lip to stop a smile from forming, thinking he had finally managed to get over his shyness and make his boyfriend understand that he wanted him.

"Third." Khai smiled.

"Hm?"

"You're being so sweet today that I really wanna squeeze your cheeks!" 

And then Khai squeezed his cheeks, just as he said, making Third's lips form a pout and giving him a peck.

Third flushed hard - from shame and frustration at the same time - and became defensive automatically.

"I-I'm not, y-you jerk!"

'Fuck!' He shouldn't curse at him, that's not how he was supposed to take Khai to the bed!

"My baby is so cuuuuute!" Khai pecked him again and hugged him tightly.

Third groaned in frustration but couldn't find the strength to leave this time, so he just snuggled into Khai and at one point the two of them lay down more comfortably and ended up dozing on the couch.

He almost cried when he woke up hours later and it was already getting dark.

 

 

 

 

It was almost ten at night and he still hadn't managed himself to make his last move. 

He took another shower, brushed his teeth and put on his underwear - a nice one - and even put on some lip balm, knowing his lips would be more shiny and attractive.

He was embarrassed, because it wasn't common for him to just walk around in his underwear out of nowhere and it would probably make his intentions a lot more obvious than he would have liked, but this was a night of changes and Third was still determined to make things on his own, so he took a deep breath and walked out of the bathroom, shivering a little from the cold.

He found his boyfriend in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water, his hair still a little wet from the shower he'd taken right before Third.

Third held his breath for a moment, calming himself down. Khai was really handsome and attractive, even more standing in the middle of the kitchen in short shorts and messy hair.

Third wanted to forget all his fears and just grab him by the neck and start making out!

When Khai finally turned to his direction, Third didn't miss the way he looked him up and down before walking right up to him.

'Oh god' Third thought, almost getting hard at the thought of Khai walking, grabbing him and throwing him on the bed to make love once and for all.

He took Third's trembling hand and pulled him into the bedroom.

Third swallowed, following without question.

They stopped in the middle of the room.

"Third."

"Hm?" He managed to answer.

"Come here."

Khai pulled him onto the bed, but it didn't end the way he'd imagined, because his caring boyfriend grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around him in a single movement.

"It's cold, I don't want you to get sick." He said softly before placing a sweet kiss on his cheek.

Third's mind went blank for a moment as he just processed what had just happened.

Had his boyfriend lost interest in sex or was it just Third who sucked at seducing him?

"What’s it, Tee rak? What do you want?" Khai asked, probably noticing the shocked expression on Third's face.

"Huh? Nothing..."

"Are you sure?"

"O-of course, w-what could I be wanting?" He stuttered nervously.

And then, Khai smirked. 

And when Khai smirked, Third knew immediately that he had been fooled. 

"Really? Because I thought my cute boyfriend was trying to get something today." He waggled his eyebrows just like the dumbass he was.

"Get what?" Third's voice squeaked and he wanted to punch himself because of it.

"Some good sex with his hot boyfriend." He took a step towards him and Third gasped, embarrassed as hell.

"As if!"

"You don't?" Khai wrapped his arms around him. "That's not what your disappointed face told me when I covered you in the blanket."

And with that Third's shame turned to anger and he slapped Khai's chest.

"Are you making fun of me? You asshole!"

Khai chuckled and grabbed his hand, pulling him closer.

"No, I just found it very cute and I wanted to see what you'll do next."

"What the fuck, are you serious?" Third pushed him away.

"Come on Tee rak, I can teach you if you want me to." Khai tried to get close again, but Third pushed him with all his strength.

He was ashamed that Khai was punctuating his lack of ability so straightforwardly and also angry that he knew what Third was doing all along but kept pretending not to.

"Fuck off, I'm gonna sleep." He pulled away and lay down on his side of the bed.

"Third, I..."

“Shut up."

"I didn't mean to offend you."

"Khai..."

"Tee rak, I just..."

"Just shut up and let me sleep Khai!" He yelled and Khai became quiet.

After a few seconds, he felt the other side of the bed sink.

When a few more seconds passed and Third finally felt calmer, he thought that maybe he could have overreacted a bit.

Khai was an idiot for pretending he hadn't noticed his movements, but that was the way he always was and Third already knew that. What moved his actions basically was the shame of being found out and that left him more frustrated than the lack of sex, because Third didn't want to be ashamed of it anymore.

He and Khai were in a relationship and they trusted each other, so there was no reason to be all fuss over something simple. He thought about all his silly attitudes throughout the day and felt worse. His eyes almost filled with tears when he felt an arm wrap around his waist.

"Tee rak." Khai spoke softly. "Don't be mad, na? I wasn't trying to embarrass you, I just thought it was really cute how much you tried to get close to me today, because it's always me who pushes things between us." He snuggled closer and Third bited his lips. "Sorry, don't be mad, na."

"I'm not mad at you."  

"So come here and let me make you feel good, will you?" He kissed Third's neck.

"No, I'm sleepy."

"I know you're horny."

"I'm not." Third denied it without thinking, the way he always did.

Khai sighed but didn't pull away from him, he started to whisper in his ear instead.

"I was really happy when I noticed that you wanted me too, because sometimes I'm afraid I'm pushing you too much and today I just felt like you want this as much as I do, so I got carried away, sorry." He said in a very soft tone, making Third feel stupid for thinking so much bullshit.

Third didn't say anything, but he knew that Khai expected him to do something.

He felt Khai sigh again and then his teasing tone of voice was back.

"Come here, I know what you want." He kissed his earlobe and Third

knew what he was doing.

Khai knew that Third wanted to make love that day, so he would push him until Third gave up and let him do what he wanted so Third wouldn't have to admit how much he liked it.

But Third didn't want it to be that way, because he was struggling to be more open about the things he liked. Plus, he trusted Khai, he was a great, caring boyfriend, and after all those years of unrequited love Third finally had him in his arms so why would he be holding back?

That would really be a night of changes after all, because Third finally took the courage to turn and face Khai.

His cheeks were still burning with embarrassment, but he looked directly into his boyfriend's eyes.

"Khai..." He called shyly and Khai smiled fondly at him.

"Yes, Tee rak?"

Third gulped before say:

"Teach me?" Khai looked stunned for a few seconds and Third could also see a soft shade of red on his cheek, but he didn't lose his cool for too long.

"Do you want me to teach you how to seduce?" He brought his face close to Third's, making their noses touch and Third nodded. "So you can seduce me later?"

Third nodded again, biting his lips, unable to say it out loud yet.

"Hmmm since my baby was so good and tried so hard to get my attention today I'm gonna teach you."

"Asshol-" Third opened his mouth to curse him - just because he was too used to it - but Khai took advantage of the situation to slip his tongue inside his mouth and start kissing him hard, moving to get on top of him without parting their lips.

All the horny he was feeling from the morning came back at once and he let out a soft moan.

"First, you have to look me in the eyes... Yeah, just like that, baby." He leaned and kissed him again. "And that's it."

Third blinked a few times and Khai chuckled at his confused face.

"What do you mean?" 

"I mean that you only have to do this." He caressed his cheek, smiling.

"That makes no sense." Third frowned.

"If you just look at me like you're looking now and say my name with those cute lips of yours, I'll be hard in seconds."

"Y-you're lying!" Third blushed hard.

"I'm crazy about you and I'm always wanting you, I thought you already knew that, Third." Khai dived to another kiss. "You can have me anytime you want, I'm all yours."

Third swallowed, heart pounding.

"So why you..." He struggled to ask. "Why didn't you try to do anything today when you noticed that I..." 

"You were too cute and I couldn't help it. I wanted to see how far you would go." 

"Jerk." Third tried to slap his shoulder, but Khai grabbed his wrist and kissed his hand, licking from the palm to the tip of his finger, and then sucking. "Uh..." 

"I'm turning you on?" He bited the tip of Third's finger.

"N-no."

Khai leaned even more on top of him, making sure that every part of their bodies were touching and Third could feel how hard Khai already is.

"Third."

"Hm?"

"Since I couldn't teach you how to seduce, can I teach you other things today?" He brushed their lips together.

Third flushed even more.

"Why? Our sex is boring for you?" He asked, overthinking again, but Khai kissed his lips softly before answering.

"No, baby, I could come just rubbing myself on you." He grinded their hips and Third held back a moan. "But I want to enjoy everything with you. Don't you want to enjoy everything with me too?"

It was hard to be so honest with these things, but Third would try his best.

“I-I want.”

"I just want you to trust me."

They kissed again.

"I trust you." 

And as soon as he said that, Khai flipped them over, making Third stay on top of him.

“Khai!” He sighed in surprise.

Khai's hands went straight to his ass, squeezing.

"Take it off, I want you naked." Khai tugged at the elastic of his underwear and Third helped him out, his hands already shaking with excitement.

They started kissing and Third became more and more at ease, grinding against Khai of his own, until he couldn't stand the fact that Khai was still in his underwear.

"You too." He muttered, panting, pulling at Khai's underwear, who just smiled and helped him to take it off.

Now they were both completely naked and Third couldn't be more pleased.

Khai pulls him by the neck with one hand, crushing their lips again, while his other hand moves down Third's spine to grip his ass, squeezing and massaging. Third moves his hips instinctively. 

"Take the lube for me baby?" Khai whispers and Third's face gets hot, but he doesn't say anything and just reaches for the nightstand drawer, taking the lube and handing it to him. "Good boy."

“Khai…” He wished he could complain more, but he just couldn't right now.

Khai let go of his ass for a moment and Third watched as he placed the gel on his fingers, his heart pounding for what was to come next.

He was already used to sex and quite enjoyed everything he and Khai did together, but he was still embarrassed to show how much.

Khai put the lube aside on the bed and brought his hand up to Third's ass again, parting his cheeks and rubbing his fingers at his entrance. Third was so needy that just that was enough to make him gasp and bite his lip to hold back a moan.

He bent down, burying his face in Khai's neck to avoid his intense gaze.

"Spread your legs more for me." Khai said in his ear and Third obeyed without complaint. "That's it baby." He hugged his waist with his other arm as he slowly slid a finger inside. Third was shaking. "You're so needy, aren't you?"

“Khai…” Third panted into his neck.

"I'll take care of you."

He started to slide a finger in and out easily, trying not to grind too much against his groin, but the sounds Third made in his ear made him hotter and hotter. Without warning, he slipped a second finger inside, making Third moan hotly in his neck.

"You love it, don't you?" Khai said, feeling bolder with how loosened Third was, wondering if he'd been fingering himself in the the shower during the days they didn't have sex.

“I-” Third gasped, feeling so fucking good that it was unfair. Why do Khai's fingers inside him feel so good? It shouldn't feel so good, but having Khai close to him, stroking him, arousing him, making him feel loved and wanted was so good. And he loved it so much. Third loved it so much. "I love it." He sighed, starting to kiss Khai's neck senselessly.

Khai moaned loudly, stopping his movements for a moment to pull Third into a lewd kiss.

“Khai-…” Third gasped as Khai began to move his fingers precisely inside him, giving him no time to adjust to the feeling before hitting his sensitive spot successively. "Ahh ahh."

"That's it baby, I want to hear you." Khai pulled his hip, making their dicks rub as he kept hitting that sweet spot with his fingers.

"Khai-ahh." Third's voice was so needy but he couldn't care less because he was already close to the edge. But then, Khai held his hip firmly, stopping his movements and slowing down his fingers. "Hmmm..." Third groaned, frustrated.

"What's it, baby?" Khai teased.

"A-asshole." He stuttered and Khai chuckled.

"What do you want? Tell me and I'll do it." He increased the speed just a little, making Third whimper. "Do you wanna come?" Third nodded, trying to move his hips back, but Khai's firm grip didn't let him. "Tell me how you want."

“F-fast.” Khai brought him in for another kiss, starting to move his fingers quickly, even though his wrist ached from their position. Third couldn't return the kiss, overwhelmed by the sensation, but just when he was reaching his release again, Khai stopped his hand. "Khai!" He sobs, tears running down his face in frustration. 

"You're crying, just like our first time." He leaned in and kissed the tears from his face. "You're so cute."

"I hate you so much." He cried more, resting his forehead on Khai's shoulder, laying his body completely on top of his, shivering as Khai pulled off his fingers completely, hugging him and kissing his head.

"Come here baby."

"No." 

"I want you to come on my dick." He kissed him once more, moving so that he was sitting on the bed, his back against the headboard, and pulled Third to straddle his lap. "I want you to ride me."

Even in that state Third was still able to blush with embarrassment.

"B-but we never did it like this." He bited his lips.

"I'll teach you." He squeezed his thighs.

Third watched him grab the lube again and put some gel on his cock. He was equally nervous and turned on because they had never done it that way before and he knew what it would be like in theory but still...

"Khai…" He sighed as he felt Khai's hands on his waist again, helping him lift his hips. He gripped his cock with one hand and pulled Third with the other, pushing the tip on his entrance. 

Third bited his lip, sinking slowly, breathing heavily, until Khai is completely inside him. 

His entire body shook as Khai moaned, hugging him close, resting his forehead on Third's shoulder.

"You did good, love." He said, kissing his shoulders, his collarbone, his throat and up his jaw until touch his lips. "Kiss Me."

Third immediately obeyed, wrapping his arms around his neck and kissing him passionately.

They just kissed for a while, giving him time to adjust while Khai caressed his body, teasing his nipples, arousing him even more. Third sighed into the kiss.

"So tight." Khai's hands went back to his ass, pulling him along and Third started to get up clumsily.

"Khai, I don't know..." He mumbled against his cheek.

"Slowly, yes, like this..." He sank again, already panting, and then began to move up and down, building up a slow pace. "You feel so good." 

Third was very hot, on edge with all the previous teasing and all the horny he'd been feeling throughout the day, so he soon started moving faster and faster, panting, feeling bold in having Khai under him, knowing that he was controlling the pace, making him moan his name shamelessly.

"Yes Third, just like that, as fast as you want."

Third felt amazing, moving his hips as fast as he could, ready to cum because he was waiting all the fucking day. He stuck his tongue in Khai's mouth, taking what he wanted, kissing him the way he wanted, feeling pleased by swallowing the sounds that he made because of him.

"K-khai-" He cried, breathless, moaning in his mouth as that hot feeling grew in his belly. 

"Yes baby, yes..." Khai groaned, pushing his hips frantically, helping him to reach his release. 

They kept moaning in each other's mouths as Third reached his climax, spilling between them, shivering in Khai's arms, squeezing his dick inside him so much that he couldn't help but come too.

"Third... Third..." Khai keeps pulling him to his cock, riding his own climax as Third starts to whimper by oversensitive. 

"Hmmm."

Khai hugged him, pulling his head to rest on his chest, snuggling together as the two caught their breath.

"Ugh..." Third mumbled, starting to feel uncomfortable with the mess of cum between them. He tried to get up but couldn't because his legs were shaking so much. "My legs..."

Khai kissed his cheeks, giggling and helped him to get up and lay on the bed. He grabbed one of the blankets and began cleaning Third as best he could.

"Khai!" Third tried to complain, but his voice came out softly.

"We can clean this up tomorrow, now I want to lie down and sleep with you."

"Hmmm." Third smiled lazily.

Khai tossed the dirty blanket aside and snuggled with Third on the bed, pulling his head to rest on his chest again, kissing his cheeks fondly.

"I'm happy." He whispered against his hair.

"Me too." Third didn't hesitate to respond, closing his eyes, pleased.

He felt so fucking happy, he almost could melt into Khai's arms, feeling that their intimacy had taken a step forward.

 

 

 

 

The other day, in the middle of the afternoon, Khai was drinking a glass of juice in the kitchen when he felt something pull the hem of his shirt.

He turned to find his cute boyfriend with flushed cheeks looking right at him.

"Khai." He spoke softly.

"What's it, Tee rak?"

Third bit his lip, looking away, blushing even more.

"Oh." Khai smirked, pulling him by the waist. "I'll take care of you."

Chapter Text

Off finally lay down on his bed, his head aching and his body weak. He was feeling really bad and after such an exhausting day he just needed to close his eyes and sleep, but before he could rest he still had to make a phone call.

A very important call.

He took his cell phone, reading the last message Gun had sent half an hour ago.

'Call me as soon as you get home'

Off pressed the button to make a video call.

"Papii..." Gun answered so quickly that Off wondered if he was just staring at his phone and waiting for him this entire time. "You're at home?" He asked, looking through the camera and trying to see where he was.

"Yeah, sorry, I was taking a shower."

Off pulled the camera back a little so Gun could see he was in his room. He saw the relief in the boy's expression for a moment, and then Gun was really very sad and very fast, his eyes already filled with tears.

"Gun? Are you okay?" Off frowned, worried.

"Papii, don't ask me that! I'm the one who should be asking if Papii is alright." He pouted. "I heard about your test."

"Oh, I was going to tell you when I got back from the hospital. Who told you?"

"P'Kwang." He muttered.

"Hm." Off nodded, grimacing as he felt his head aching.

"Papii?" Gun's eyes widened.

"I'm fine, my head hurts a little, that's all." Off assured him, but Gun still looked on the verge of tears.

"But Papii is sick."

"Gun..."

"I hate that." His lips trembled and Off wanted to hug him.

"I'll be fine."

"You don't know that! What if… what if Papii…" Tears ran freely down his face. "I don't want anything to happen to Papii."

"Gun, I promise I'll be fine, don't cry, I can't hug you right now and that sucks."

"I'm going to your condo." Gun's camera moved as if he got up too fast.

"Gun, you can't."

"Fuck!" Off widened his eyes because it was very rare to see Gun swearing. "I'm so upset!"

He lay back down, his face wet with tears and a huge pout. Off smiled at the scene, because Gun was just too cute.

"I won't risk you getting sick too, so we'll just have to wait."

"I know."

"You can sleep over as soon as my isolation ends."

"Really?" Off nodded and Gun smiled a little. "I'll send you food then. Healthy food, so you'll get better soon."

"Ui Nong will cook for me every day?" He teased.

"Yes, so better prepare yourself." 

"Okay. I'll wait then."

"And then I'll go to your house as soon as I can." Off nodded. "And we're gonna cuddle." Off opened his mouth to speak but Gun cut him off. "We can, can't we?"

"Uh, we can."

"And I wanna kiss too."

Off blushed.

"Nong Gun!"

"What?" Gun was also blushing, but acting like he wasn't.

"What kind of kiss?" Off asked, feeling butterflies in his stomach.

"You'll find out when we meet."

Chapter Text

Several days had passed since the classroom incident and Maetee's roommate never came back, so he and T-Rex fell into a comfortable routine.

Everything was so good and Maetee felt so safe that his mind was completely at peace, just enjoying and living the happiness of the present moment of his life. He hadn't stopped to question their relationship until one friday night where he and T-Rex were lying in his dorm bed - there were still two beds there, but they only used one anyway - watching that movie.

It was a romance movie - because Maetee loved romance and T-Rex loved to see Maetee happy - where the boy was in love with his best friend, and she had no idea how he felt, even though all her other friends around kept saying that he treated her differently, she didn't realize it, because even if she have always loved him, she just didn't know that their love was more than friendship.

In the end, she found out and the two started dating.

Maetee sighed, snuggling into bed.

“How did she not know? It was pretty obvious.” He commented as T-Rex put away the laptop and lay down on the bed, facing him.

"I don't know, some people need time to figure out this kind of thing." T-Rex covered them with Maetee's blanket.

"But he was too obvious, who wouldn't notice?" Maetee frowned.

"Would you notice?" T-Rex asked, reaching under the blanket for Maetee's hand, smiling in a way that Maetee didn't understand but that did something weird to his heart.

“I guess…” T-Rex finally found his hand and entwined their fingers, bringing them to his lips and placing a soft kiss on Maetee's fingertips.

"Good." Maetee's heart flutter and his face heated as T-Rex moved even closer to snuggle into his embrace. The shorty released his hand to lay his head on his chest, sighing contentedly when Maetee automatically hugged him back.

His heart was pounding really hard and T-Rex was probably able to feel it.

"It's okay. No need to be nervous."

"I'm not." Maetee muttered against his head.

"I'm making your heart flutter then?" He could hear the smile in T-Rex's voice. "I like this."

"Uh."

Maetee didn't know how to respond and T-Rex didn't speak anymore. Silence fell over them and it wasn't long before the shorty fell asleep in his arms - just as it had been for weeks now - but Maetee, however, was another story.

His mind was stuck on the movie and he began to wonder if the same wasn't happening to him. Somewhere in his mind he was well aware that friends didn't sleep like that or do a lot of the things that he and T-Rex did together, but then they really got along and maybe that was just the way their friendship was - and he loved it.

But maybe all those friendly touches weren't just friendly but something more, and maybe T-Rex was secretly in love with him and maybe his bold moves were to make Maetee realize he wanted to be his boyfriend and maybe…

‘Oh.’

Maetee found himself thinking that he wouldn't mind if that were the case, in fact he was quite happy imagining this scenario and his heart started beating really fast at the possibility.

T-Rex sighed in his sleep, bringing Maetee's attention back to the present. He looked at the boy's face, admiring his features for a moment.

‘He's handsome.’

Maetee had never thought about whether he likes boys or not, but he was starting to think about it a lot now.

Like, really.

 

 

 

 

It was the morning of the other day and after eating the breakfast that T-Rex had gone out to buy, Maetee was sitting quietly on the bed. The shorty finished brushing his teeth and sat down beside him.

"What happened?"

"Hm?" Maetee looked at him.

"You are so quiet."

"Nothing."

Maetee slept confused and woke up confused, wondering about their proximity, wondering if there was anything else. He knew it was better to talk to T-Rex about it, because he would always understand him - as well as the situation with his fear of ghosts - but he didn't know how to start the subject.

"Is something bothering you?" T-Rex frowned, worried.

"No, nothing is bothering me, don't worry!" He was quick to assure the shorty, afraid to make him feel bad in some way. “I was just wondering something…”

“Oh. Want to talk about it?”

Maetee bit his lip, uncertainly.

"It's okay if you don't want to, but maybe I can help you figure out the answer." T-Rex smiled at him, placing a hand on his arm, conveying confidence.

"Shorty?"

"Yes?"

"Don't you think… don't you think we're too close?"

T-Rex looked at him with an amused look.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean…I've never had a friend as close as you."

"Me neither." The shorty smiled even more, moving closer to Maetee. "You say close like that?" Maetee gulped as T-Rex got even closer, because his faces were so close together and their noses were almost touching. "Or close like that?"

"T-this."

He was a little nervous, but he didn't dare look away from T-Rex.

"And does this proximity make you uncomfortable?" T-Rex asked.

"No!" Maetee responded quickly. "It's not uncomfortable."

"So do you like this?"

"I guess."

"So is it okay if we get even closer?" T-Rex asked boldly, but Maetee could see the soft tinge of red spread across his cheeks. "What do you think?"

"I think…I think friends don't do that kind of thing."

T-Rex giggled.

"You think?"

"I don't know." They were still too close and T-Rex's breath hit his face. “Maybe it's just the way you are, but I can't explain it either, but at the same time it might be more than just that, and also…” T-Rex cut him off with a peck.

"Sorry but you're just too cute Maetee." He giggled again, wrapping his arms around Maetee's neck and sniffing on his cheek.

"This is definitely something friends don't do." Maetee muttered embarrassed.

"Are you okay with that?" Maetee nodded. "Can I kiss you again then?"

He was nervous and his heart was beating really fast, but he didn't hesitate to agree and as soon as he nodded again, T-Rex's lips were on his. He kissed him gently, nibbling and sucking on his bottom lip slowly. Maetee sighed into the kiss, hugging T-Rex around the waist, feeling butterflies in his stomach and incredibly happy.

"I was right then?" Maetee asked.

"Hmm about what?" T-Rex rested his chin on Maetee's shoulder.

"We're like that movie? From yesterday."

"Kind of." T-Rex kissed his neck softly. "Except that I never tried to hide that I was in love with you."

"Oi Shorty!" T-Rex looked up and Maetee's face was completely red.

"Are you shy?" He smiled widely.

"No." He muttered cutely.

"Don't be, it's just me." Maetee stared at him for a few seconds before leaning in to press their lips together again. T-Rex cupped his cheek with one hand during the kiss, stroking gently.

"So you..."

"Yeah, I'm in love with you too, shorty."

Chapter Text

He'd already been standing at his condo door for over a minute with Gun evaluating him. Off wanted to say something to maybe get the boy in already so he could go back to bed. It was two in the morning and he still hadn't slept because Gun's schedule was full that day, but since it was the day they could finally get together after Off had recovered, Gun didn't want to wait any longer than necessary to go to his house.

"Papii." He muttered, before taking two steps and throwing himself into Off's arms, who was ready to hold him. "You lost weight."

"Yeah? I didn't notice." He hugged the boy tight and sighed, sniffing the familiar scent of the shampoo he was using.

"Didn't you eat the meals I sent you?"

“Of course I ate. The food was very good, thank you.” He wasn't going to mention that, on bad days, he was too sick that he only ate the meals Gun ordered - just because he didn't really want to throw them away - which was why maybe he'd lost some weight. "Let's go in? Is cold."

Gun pulled away immediately.

"Of course! Sorry."

The two walked in and Off closed the door, but before he could turn around Gun's arms were around him and the boy rested his head on his back.

"Gun missed Papii."

Off smiled, feeling his cheeks heat up.

"I missed you too." Gun loosened his grip just enough so that Off could turn and look at him. "Let's go to sleep?"

"Okay." His cheeks were flushed and he looked away from Off.

"Aren't you going to let me go so we can walk to the bedroom?" Gun shook his head and Off chuckled. "How should I go then?"

"Dunno." He replied quietly.

"Come on GunGun, you need to sleep too."

Gun bit his lip and looked at him again.

"Only if Papii gives me something."

"What's is?" Off felt his heart in his throat, recalling their conversation from days ago.

"A kiss."

Off's face heated under the boy's determined gaze. He sighed, but he wasn't going to freak out, because he'd thought about it a lot since the day Gun asked on the phone, so he was kind of expecting it.

With his heart pounding and his hands shaking a little, Off leaned in and pressed his lips gently against Gun's.

"Okay, now let's sleep?" He cleared his throat as Gun stared at him with shining eyes and flushed face.

The shorty just nodded, letting go of him, and walking into the bedroom.

They lay quietly on the bed and Off wondered if he had done something wrong.

"Papii." Gun said softly and Off just turned to him, waiting, but Gun didn't continue.

"What's it?"

"You kissed me." He said shyly.

"You were the one who asked."

“I know, but…” Gun moved closer to him on the bed. "But I didn't really expect you to…I thought Papii would take it as a joke and try to avoid it."

"Oh."

Off blushed again as he realized that at no point had he considered 'not kissing' Gun.

"Papii." Gun held his hand. "I want to kiss again."

"W-why?" Off stuttered.

"Because I like your kisses."

Gun looked at him, waiting and Off knew he didn't stand a chance against the boy's sweetness and cuteness, so he just hugged him around the waist and muttered 'come here' before pressing their lips together again.

They kissed slowly, enjoying and getting to know each other's mouths in a way they hadn't been able to do for the cameras before. Gun sighed into the kiss and Off bit his bottom lip, sucking and dipping in for another kiss. They kissed until their lips were swollen, until Gun lay his head on his chest tiredly, barely able to keep his eyes open.

"Love you." Gun muttered, already half asleep.

"Love you too." Off didn't hesitate to respond.

Chapter Text

They were walking around the school cafeteria. Rome's classes were over, and for the first time, it was Pick who waited for him outside the classroom.

"What stupid smile is that on your face?" Pick said and Rome couldn't help but smile even more - his cheeks hurt from how much he had smiled that day.

"It's because P’Pick is my boyfriend now, I can't help it."

Pick huffed to hide his embarrassment.

"And can't you make it less obvious?"

"But phi, you've been holding my hand since we left the classroom, I don't think anything can be more obvious than that." Rome lifted their joined hands for emphasis and Pick blushed - his hand didn't left Rome's though.

"Uh."

"P’Pick is so cute."

"Shut up."

"If I kiss you right now I'll be the one making things more obvious, what do you think phi?"

"Oii Shorty!"

Chapter Text

It's funny how an accident, a different decision, a wrong step - or a right step - can change the course of a life.

That morning, Khai wouldn't go that way - because he knew it wasn't safe - and he stopped for a long minute to ponder it. He shouldn't, it wasn't common for him to take that road, especially on a rainy day, but for some reason he did.

It was as if a force had driven him to choose that road and he had no idea why, but he was very calm all the way until he crashed into that car.

He doesn't remember much of what happened during the accident.

He remembers some people screaming, the sound of the ambulance, someone saying there was too much blood. He remembers the smell of blood, the ether, the cold of the operating room.

He remembers the warmth of Third's hand - it didn't leave him while he was unconscious in the hospital - but he also remembers the chuckles, the tears, the fight, the confession, him fucking things up, Third walking away, another accident , his friends leaving him alone at the station...

It was like a movie he had been watching in his sleep, and the first thing he would think the moment he woke up was that his imagination really was wild and that he was definitely in the right career.

He woke up a few days later, in the middle of the night, with an excruciating headache.

A nurse came and gave him a painkiller and he finally managed to take a deep breath and gradually regain consciousness.

"Khai." He turned his head to the side, following the sound of Third's voice. This was probably not the first time he had called him, but it was the first Khai had been able to hear. "How are you feeling?"

Khai stared at him for a few seconds. Puffy eyes and pale face – just like in the weird dream – and Khai hated seeing his best friend like this. He tried to move his hand, the sudden urge to touch the boy's face – and he didn't even know why – but realized that his fingers were already entwined with his.

Khai frowned, because there was a red string through their fingers.

"Sorry." Third pulled his hand away, looking away from Khai.

The boy thought that Khai was questioning the contact and that he didn't want to hold his hand - it wasn't common for them to do that - but that wasn't the truth, because Khai was just too focused on the red string between them.

"What's that?" he asked, his voice hoarse and low.

"What?" Third asked.

"That." Khai held up his hand, trying to show Third the red string that ran from his finger to Third's.

"Your... hand?" Third frowned.

"Can't you see? It's in your hand too." Khai brought his hand back to examine it more closely, not seeing the moment when a soft shade of red colored Third's cheeks.

"Khai?"

"You really don't see it?" Khai sighed. "Maybe I hit my head too hard."

"You're just confused."

He snuggled into the pillow again, giving up on questioning the red string for a moment - maybe his mind was still tied to the weird dreams and he just needed a little more time to recover.

"How are you feeling?" Third repeated the question, drawing Khai's attention back to the present.

"Like a crap."

Third chuckled and something eased at Khai's chest, making him smile.

"Yeah, you should." Third sighed. "You're so fucking irresponsible... Going down that road in the rain! You could have died, you asshole." Third's eyes glistened again and Khai felt his own heart ache.

He remembered the dream, how Third had cried because of him, and even though it was just a dream and it was a completely different situation, he hated to see him about to cry because of him again.

"Sorry."

"Don't ever do that again."

"I promise."

Third breathed a sigh of relief and Khai just rested his head on the pillow, staring at him, mixing the dream memories with the vision of now. 

His mind is full of Third and the red string.

He should probably find out about it later.

Chapter Text

It was the natural order of things, after all.

Things arise, grow, live - some longer than others - and then die. This happened to everything around him and would even happen to him one day.

It was the inevitable fate.

It was basic biology.

Sometimes, however, Pick would hate how much he knew about the things. Sometimes, he wished he was still that stupid kid who believed his dead puppy would still look out for him from dog heaven.

Science was like a lamp in the dark, lighting your path well enough that you didn't trip over your next step and, at the same time, revealing monsters hiding in the shadows. Monsters you didn't know were there before, but now that you knew there was no going back.

Knowledge was a path of no return.

He stared at the dead little kitten's body for a few moments, feeling something choke inside him.

It wasn't the first time he had seen an animal die, of course not, he was a veterinarian and unfortunately he has witnessed many deaths. He still didn't understand why the death of that particular kitten had upset him so much.

Maybe it was because he was just a baby.

Maybe it was because he had struggled so hard to be alive - Pick's fingers still had some scratches from the day he rescued him. He had struggled so hard and now... nothing.

His life has returned to the emptiness of nonexistence.

Pick didn't understand why he felt like crying - he couldn't cry yet - and he probably would have stood there for another half hour if Porsche hadn't arrived and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Poor kitten." Porsche sighed. "We did everything we could."

"Yeah."

But that wasn't what Pick felt, because now all he could do was think of all the things he could have done differently. Maybe if he had given the antibiotic injection before, maybe if he had noticed something was wrong earlier, maybe if he…

"Hey." Porsche drew his attention back to the present. "It's okay, you did everything."

"Hm?" Pick frowned, confused for a moment. "Of course, I'm just thinking about how tired I am."

"Me too." Porsche took a deep breath. "You should go home, I'll take care of it." He tilted his head toward the lifeless body.

"No, I can take care of this, it was my case after all."

Pick picked up the kitten's body gently, bringing it to his chest as if it were still alive.

Porsche looked at him sadly, but Pick looked away.

“I was thinking…” Porsche said. "After cremating him, we could bury him in the clinic's garden."

Pick looked at him confused once more.

"And so, if we plant a few flowers there... I mean, the cycle continues, right?"

Pick nodded slowly.

"The cycle continues."

 

 

 

 

Hours later, Pick finally went inside his house, leaving his things on the floor and heading straight to his bedroom.

He didn't even take off his shoe before lying down and hugging Rome.

"P’Pick?" Rome muttered sleepily, but Pick said nothing. "Uh, you should take a shower because you kind of stink right now..."

When no response came, Rome opened his eyes worried, wide awake and blinked a few times, trying to see Pick's face in the darkness.

“P’Pick? What happened?" He brought his hand up to caress Pick's cheek and noticed there was something wet there. "Why are you crying?"

Pick just shook his head and Rome didn't push anymore, just hugging him tight for a few minutes.

When he felt Pick's breathing steady, he slowly got up and walked to the end of the bed, removing his shoes as gently as possible.

"Rome?"

"I'm here, P’Pick."

He quickly went back to bed, slipping under the blanket and bringing Pick to lie down on his chest.

"How was your day?"

"Tiring." He muttered. "That baby kitten died."

"Oh." Rome hugged him tighter to his chest. "I'm so sorry..."

"It's okay, it happens all the time."

But Rome knew it wasn't okay, because he remembered all too well how much Pick had been talking about that kitten for days. 'He's a fighter,' he said, recounting how he survived on the streets even though he was just a baby. 

Rome felt his heart clench.

"How was your day?" Pick asked back.

Rome took a deep breath, running his fingers through Pick's hair and began to tell the stupid stories of the customers who frequented the coffee shop.

“Remember that woman who was that day saying she wanted one…”

He continued blabbering about a lot of things until he felt Pick fall asleep in his arms.

Rome kissed his forehead, snuggling even closer, thinking about what he would do the next day to cheer up his boyfriend.

Chapter Text

If Gun was going to the library again at that hour, it was only because he cared about his education. He had some assignments to do and what better place than the library anyway?

This had nothing to do with the handsome senior from the day before, of course not!

Still, there was Gun, cheeks flushing and heart racing when he saw P’Off sitting at the same table. He felt like screaming in excitement and shyness at the same time.

He approached slowly, biting his lip to keep from smiling so much as he sat down in front of him.

"Good night, phi." He greeted, drawing Off's attention.

"Nong Gun." He smiled. "Good night."

"So… P’Off came to borrow my stuff again?" He teased.

"Uh... If you don't mind." Off looked away, blushing.

"Of course not, I was the only one who said it was okay, right?" Off nodded. "Plus, I also have an assignment to finish so we can share the eraser."

"Thanks."

They fell into a comfortable silence for a few minutes, until Gun realized that Off was just staring at his papers and sighing.

"What's the problem, phi?" Off looked at him sadly. "If you don't mind me asking."

"I do not mind. It's just that I have this test in a few days and my teacher is an idiot.” He snorted. "The test usually has just one question and it's always one of those impossible questions to resolve."

"Oh, that must suck." Gun felt bad for him. "But I'm sure P’Off will do fine, you seem smart."

"Not really."

"Well, smarter than me, I guess, because I look at your list of math questions and my mind goes blank." Gun chuckled and Off too.

"And what are you doing there?" Off pointed to Gun's notebook.

"A sketch, for my painting class." He held out the notebook so Off could see the shape of the flower pot he was trying to reproduce.

"You're really good, Nong Gun." Gun blushed at the compliment. "Can I see when it's done?"

"Of course." He replied shyly, taking the notebook back.

"So are you an art student?" Gun nodded. "Nice."

The two entered into an interminable conversation that was only interrupted when the monitor from that session of the library appeared saying that they were about to close.

"I can't believe it's so late."

"Me neither." They walked side by side down the hall. "And I couldn't even finish my assignment."

"I'm sorry, phi."

"Well, you should, it was your fault anyway."

"P'Off!" Gun gasped.

"So see you tomorrow, Nong Gun?"

“Uh…” Gun wanted to say that this wasn't a good time for him to go to the library, but he didn't want to miss meeting P’Off and missing the chance to get to know him more. Besides, he didn't have the courage to ask for his number yet.

"If you can't…"

"I can!" He responded quickly. "See you tomorrow, phi."

Chapter Text

After a week of going to the library every day to study with Gun, Off was completely at ease with the shorty. It was like Gun understood him and made his days better, even if he didn't necessarily help him with his assignments - well, he helped by cheering him up, which was even better.

"P’Off?" Gun called. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I'm just stressed out." Off huffed. "Tomorrow is my final calculus test and I'm not very confident."

“I'm sure you'll make it.” Gun smiled, trying to cheer him up.

"I hope so."

He huffed again, looking helplessly at his notebook, until Gun pushed the blue eraser towards him.

"I want you to keep this." He said shyly, his cheeks flushed.

Off took the blue eraser that now had a post it glueded on one side, where the boy drew a smiley face and a 'you can do it' underneath.

Off couldn't help the smile that spread across his face.

"Thank you, Nong Gun."

Chapter Text

It doesn't happen right after the accident, but gradually.

Initially Third thinks it's because he took care of Khai throughout his recovery - Khai's parents had asked him - and that's why they were spending more time together than usual, and the amount of time they spent together didn't decrease, quite the contrary, it seemed like he was always willing to do whatever Third was going to do.

"I'm going to the library." Third announced, grabbing his bag and waving at Two and Bone, because Khai was already on his side. "Are you coming too?"

"If you're going then I'm going too."

"Why? You never really cared about your grades before." He muttered.

"I care about a lot of things I didn't care about before." He shrugged and Third started to get a little nervous.

To say that his hopes didn't rise even a little was a lie, because every time Khai was single Third always had this stupid idea that he could win his heart the next time.

But things were really different now, because Khai was looking at him and talking to him in a way that Third was trying very hard not to misinterpret. After all, he had raised hopes dozens of times before and had his heart broken in all of them.

"Actually, I changed my mind, I'm going to study in my room today." Third could say anything about not wanting to raise false hopes, but he was hoping Khai would want to go with him to his room.

He yearned to spend more time alone with him, no matter how hard he tried not to feel that way.

"Can I go too?" He asked and Third felt butterflies in his stomach.

"That girl didn't ask you out today?" He looked at Khai, waiting.

"Yeah, but I'd rather be with you." Third blushed, feeling his heart speed up.

"Uh, okay." Third looked away and Khai chuckled.

"You know why?" Khai took a step forward, entering his personal space. Third grabbed his bag to keep his hands from shaking.

"Hm?" He managed to respond.

"Because you're the cutest." Khai said, too close for Third to think straight.

"Stop with this." 

"With what?" 

"Messing with me."

"I'm not." Khai said in a serious tone of voice now. "Third." 

"What?" He looked at Khai again.

"You're the most important person in my life." He didn't know what to say, but Khai just smiled and pulled him toward Chawee.

Third really didn't want to get his hopes up, but this time it was being really hard.

Chapter Text

For Khai, everything changed naturally.

When he left the hospital, the red string was still there, but he ignored it, thinking that maybe it would disappear after he was fully recovered from the accident.

But then, while Third helped him during his recovery, whether holding a tablespoon on the worst days, when Khai barely had the strength to move because of the pain, or holding his waist to help him get out of bed, Khai always found himself looking at the other end of the string, tied tightly to Third's finger.

"Why are you looking at my hand like that?" Third frowned.

“Hm? Nothing." Khai shook his head, trying to pay attention to what his friend was saying, but his gaze would eventually return to the strange red thread.

It always made his mind go back to the hospital, to the weird dreams he'd had, and at one point he wondered if this was some kind of 'vision' or something.

The idea made him sad and frustrated. 

He didn't want to hurt Third like in that dream. 

He didn't want to be left behind either. 

He didn't know what any of it meant, but he didn't want things to go that way.

He started looking at Third as if he had lost him, even though nothing really happened, he felt hurt all the same.

As the weeks passed and he couldn't do much more than lie down, he began researching about the red string on the internet, after understanding that it wouldn't disappear. He found several articles and folk tales about how soulmates are connected by this invisible string. There was also a tale about it, saying that if a person came too close to death and survived, they would be able to see it.

Well, Khai didn't know if he could believe any of that, but the point was, whether he believed it or not, the string was still there, bright and strong, between him and Third.

'Does this mean Third is my soul mate?'

He gulped at the thought.

'Do I want him to be?'

Another question that made him nervous.

He didn't have the answer for any of these questions yet, but even so, his ambitions started to change little by little until he saw himself as a different person. Suddenly, he didn't feel like going out like he used to, fooling around, or doing anything else. Instead, he had that weird urge to talk to Third, to make Third laugh, to be with him.

He wanted to see him all the time.

So Khai just let things be, just enjoying his closeness with him as he never enjoyed before.

He liked to hear Third's laugh, so he would do all the silly things to make him to.

He liked to talk with Third, so he would call him every time he felt like, and Third would always respond to him.

He liked to be with Third, so he would spend his time with him as much as he wanted, as long as Third wanted too.

He didn't want to see Third cry like in his weird dreams, so he would do everything he could to not hurt him. He became more and more protective with his shorty friend and even Two and Bone noticed. 

Everyone could notice at that point.

Third was cute, funny, sweet and so kind, and Khai loved to see him like that. Khai loved everything about Third. 

And with all the attention he paid to him now he started to realize how pleased the boy was, how he would always unconsciously lean towards Khai and, at same time, how he would get all nervous and flustered when he realize that they were too close, especially when they were alone, and Khai began to wonder if that dream was really real, if it meant Third was in love with him.

"Khai?" Third's voice brought him back to reality.

"Hm?"

"You were spacing out again." Third sighed. "And you was also looking at my hand in that weird way again."

Khai smiled at him, taking his hand - the one with the red thread tied to his finger - and intertwining their fingers.

Third blushed furiously but didn't avoid his gaze, instead he had that dreamy look, as if he was about to say something. 

As if he wanted to say something.

"It's nothing." He said and Third kept staring at him. "And you?"

"Me what?" 

"Do you want to say something to me?"

"I..." He bited his lips, blushing even more.

Khai's heart began to race at the sight.

Was Third going to confess to him? He looked like he was about to do it. His cheeks flushed, his gaze intent on Khai's, his hand trembling under his.

"I was thinking..." Khai swallowed, surprising himself with how much he wanted to hear the words come out of his friend's mouth.

"About what?" He never spoke so softly with Third as now.

‘That’s it.’ Khai thought. 'Me and Third, together. That's it.'

But then, Third looked away and said,

"I was wondering if you wanted to sleep over."

"Sleep over?" Khai was so stuck  in the moment that he was confused by the question. "Oh, right, sleep over, of course." 

They prepare for bed and, the entire time, Khai was shocked at how strongly he reacted to the idea of him and Third becoming something more. It was obvious, even to an idiot like him, how he felt about Third now.

He thought about it until he fell asleep.

He thought about how he would be the one to take the first step next time.

He didn't get the chance, however, because two days later Third knocked on his apartment door holding a white board with a "Hi" written on it. 

Chapter Text

Third remembers the first day he met Khai. He remembers the feeling, how it felt like fate had brought them together.

He also remembers the first time he got his heart broken, the first time he saw Khai go out with a girl without looking back.

Without looking at him.

Third remembered all the times he had hoped, only to have his heart broken all over again. And then he would believe it again, as if he had never been hurt before.

Even so, this would be the first time he would do something about his feelings. That would be the first day since they'd met that Third would have the courage to confess to Khai.

How could he not?

Third knew very well that when you're in love, your mind makes excuses and always gives more meaning to the actions of the person you love, just because you want to believe there's a chance.

He knew that, he went through this movie more times than he should.

But the way Khai was looking at him now was something else, and Third could swear he'd already caught him looking at his lips more than once. The way he treated him had changed and now Khai gave him all the attention Third had always dreamed for. Besides, it had been a long time since he'd seen him with a girl, so who could blame Third for getting his hopes up yet again?

But he not only created hope, he created courage. And even though he was so fucking nervous in that morning, he knocked on Khai's door, holding up a dozen whiteboards.

When Khai opened the door, Third gestured for him to be silent and showed him the boards, where he had written how special he was and that he liked him. His heart pounding, his hands trembling as he showed him the last whiteboard where 'I like you' was written.

"Do you know what I'm feeling towards you now?" Third managed to ask.

Khai didn't say anything, instead he smiled and approached Third, taking the whiteboards from his hands and placing them on the floor of his apartment, and then he pulled Third into a hug.

"Yeah, it's the same as I feel for you."

Third's heart sped up as he felt his eyes water. 'Is this really happening?' Even though Khai had been being sweet to him for a while, it was still hard to believe.

“Khai, you really understand what I…” He couldn't finish the sentence because Khai's lips were on his.

"I think you're the one who doesn't understand, Third." He cupped Third's cheeks with both hands, leaning in for another kiss, sweeter and slower. "I like you too." Third was shaking into his arms. "Third, I know I lost so much time before, but I'm not planning on letting you go ever. I love you, you're everything to me."

"Khai." Third was crying, but none of them could care less as they leaned in and their lips met midway.

He had no idea what had made Khai change his behavior and started to see him differently. He'd always thought that confessing to his best friend would bring a lot more drama, so Third felt like his heart might burst with happiness.

That was the beginning of another day.

The first day that Third and Khai would be a couple.

Chapter Text

"I'm starting to regret taking this job." Off said, crossing his arms and leaning his shoulder against the doorframe.

Tay rolled his eyes.

“I'm serious, what am I going to tell them? I have no idea how to be a teacher!” He complained, not caring about how loud his voice was, because the hallway was empty.

"I don't know, some science stuff." Tay shrugged. "Don't be dramatic, it's just your first day, take it easy."

"Dramatic my ass."

"See you at lunch, Peng."

Tay nodded and went on his way.

Off sighed, totally regretting taking that job as a temporary teacher. It was an impulsive decision and now there were only twenty minutes before the students started to enter the classroom and he still didn't know what he was going to say that day.

"Fuck." He muttered, turning to go inside and put his things on the teacher's desk, but then he heard a giggle.

Off widened his eyes and looked to the back of the room, coming face to face with a smiling boy.

"Sorry, it's just that you looked so lost now." The boy took a deep breath, trying to stop laughing. "Like a lost puppy."

"What are you doing here?" Off asked, feeling his face flush with embarrassment as he realized the boy had overheard his entire conversation with Tay.

'Great' he thought 'the class hasn't even started yet and my student already knows that I'm a disaster'.

"This is the classroom, puppy." He replied, propping his chin on his hand as he kept staring at Off. 

"What did you just call me?" Off crossed his arms defensively.

"Puppy, like a lost puppy." He smiled widely.

"You can't."

"But I don't know your name." The boy explained.

"It's Off, but you could have just called me teacher."

"Hm." The boy pouted. "But I liked puppy."

"Well I don't." Off sat at the teacher's desk. “Stop calling me that. If you continue, I will consider it disrespectful."

"I didn't mean to be disrespectful P’Off, I just thought it was a cute name." The boy got up from his desk at the back of the room and went to sit at one closer to him. "Besides, if you have no idea what to do as a teacher, I could help you, puppy."

“You…” Off snorted. “Aren't you being too cheeky? I should send you to detention.”

"Well, I'm not going to detention."

They were silent facing each other for a few seconds. What is a teacher supposed to do when he sends a student to detention and he says 'no'? 

Off was definitely lost.

"I shouldn't be arguing with a kid."

"First, I'm not a kid, and we're not arguing, P’Off, I'm just offering to help like a good student." He smiled cutely.

"You are annoying."

"A teacher shouldn't call a student annoying." He chuckled.

"What's your name?"

"Gun." The boy jumped up, pulling up a chair to sit next to Off. "Nice to meet you, phi."

"Nice to meet you, Nong Gun." He mumbled, defeated. "So how can you help me?"

“Well…” The boy pulled his notebook out of his bag and handed it into Off's hand. "I have the notes from all of the old teacher's classes, and our last assignment was a list of questions about genetics that she didn't get a chance to explain."

"Oh." Off took the notebook and analyzed the questions.

“You can explain the questions for today. It's a good start, right?”

"Really is." Off smiled at the boy. "Thank you, Nong Gun."

"I said I could help, phi." He pouted.

'He's kind of cute,' Off thought, ruffling Gun's hair.

"P'Off!" Gun slapped his hand. "What kind of teacher messes up students' hair?" He grimaced, but his cheeks were flushed.

"That was for calling me puppy."

"Well I won't stop then." He pouted again.

Off laughed and continued reading the questions. A few minutes later the other students started arriving and Gun returned to his seat - which was near the teacher's desk - but left his notebook so Off could read the questions during class.

"P’Nong Gun, were you harassing the new teacher?" Off heard a girl ask.

"I was just greeting him." Gun replied.

The class went better than expected - if Off could ignore Gun's gaze, of course, because the boy always seemed about to laugh when their gazes met.

The students slowly left and Gun continued to sit at his desk, just waiting to go talk to Off again.

"You did very well, P’Off." He complimented and Off rolled his eyes.

“Uh, right. Thank you Nong Gun.”

"You're welcome, Papii." He took the notebook back, putting it in his bag.

"Papii?" Off gasped and Gun blushed.

"Puppy, I mean puppy." He quickly corrected it.

Off huffed but decided not to complain anymore - it was useless after all.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course, phi."

"Why do your colleagues call you P’Nong Gun?"

"It's because I'm older than them."

"Really?" Off raised an eyebrow.

“I just turned nineteen. This month, by the way.”

"Oh." Off didn't know what to say.

"Yeah, I'm repeating my final year." He smiled but it didn't reach his eyes.

Off opened his mouth to ask more, but Tay appeared at the classroom door calling out to him.

"Awu, Peng and Pet together?" Tay frowned.

"Good morning P’Tay!" Gun greeted happily.

"Good morning pet, don't you have another class now?"

Gun's eyes widened.

"Oh my god, you're right." He ran to the door, but before leaving he waved Off. "See you Papii!"

"Papii?" Tay asked.

"It's just a stupid nickname he gave me." Off shook his head, embarrassed that Tay had heard Gun call him 'Papii'. "This boy… I almost sent him to detention."

"What?" Tay gasped. "I can't believe you tried to send Nong Gun to detention."

"Well, 'try' is the right word, because he just shrugged and said no." Off explained, exasperated, and Tay burst out laughing.

“Nong Gun is awesome.”

"He's cheeky."

"He's our baby." Tay shrugged. "He's repeating his final year, but he's the best student here."

"Yeah, he just told me about it."

"Did he talk about his mother?" Tay asked and Off frowned.

"No, what about his mother?"

"I don't know if I should be telling you, but Nong Gun's mom died last year."

"Oh."

“He was really shaken and missed almost all his classes. That's why he's repeating.”

Off didn't expect that.

“Don't pity him, he's doing great and everyone loves him. His classmates got together to buy a cake for his birthday earlier in the month. Just, you know, be nice to him.”

"I'm nice to everyone."

"Right."

“And what are you doing here? Don't you have classes to teach?”

"Awu, I just came to check on you since you kept complaining that you were lost."

"I'm fine, go back to your class."

"Okay, See you at lunch then."

"See you."

Tay left as the students entered the classroom. Off sighed, his mind turning to the smiling, cheeky boy he had just met that morning.

Maybe being a temporary teacher wasn't so bad after all.

Chapter Text

It was all that bastard professor's fault!

He was late to apply the test, which meant that Off stayed late trying to solve the never-ending calculus question. Lucky for him - or maybe it was Gun's lucky blue eraser - he managed to solve the question.

The bad part, however, was that he couldn't meet Gun that day, and the next day Gun wasn't in the library.

Off cursed the fact that he hadn't gotten his number yet and now that all the stress of his finals had passed, this would be the first thing he would do when he found the cute boy.

That was the plan, however, but for the next three days Gun didn't show up at the library and Off began to worry if he was okay - or if he didn't want to talk to Off for some reason.

The idea of not finding Gun anymore made him really sad.

Sad enough that he ventured into the arts center the following week.

There was a central square and several people sitting around a tree where there were several notes hanging. There were also potted plants with all kinds of designs and some background music that Off couldn't identify. It was like the place wasn't part of the campus.

Off walked for over half an hour before finding the shorty sitting with a group of friends under a tree.

“Nong Gun?” He called hesitantly.

"P’Off?" Gun looked at him in surprise and then blushed. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh, I came looking for you." He looked at Gun's friends, who were looking at him curiously.

"Looking for me?" Gun frowned.

"Yes, you never came to the library again." He muttered, uncomfortable with the amount of looks on him.

Gun excused himself from his friends and went with Off into one of the empty classrooms around there.

"What happened?" Off asked as soon as he closed the door.

"Phi didn't show up that day or call me later, so I thought you didn't want to see me anymore." Gun explained, pouting.

"That day I had to stay late to finish the test, so I couldn't go to the library."

"Oh."

"Besides, I don't have your number, how could I call you?"

"But I gave you my number, phi." Gun looked at him confused. "In the eraser."

"In the eraser?" Off frowned, opening his bag and reaching for the blue eraser that Gun had given to him.

"P’Off didn't read the post it?"

"I've read." He found the rubber.

"The other side?"

Then Off took the post-it out of the eraser and read the back side where it had written 'come to dinner with me after your test tomorrow?' and underneath was a phone number.

"Uh, so you hadn't read it." Gun bit his lip nervously.

"Nong was asking me on a date?" Off smiled at the shorty, who blushed.

"No!” And then he looked away, blushing even more. "But if phi wants to go on a date with me I wouldn't mind..."

Off gasped.

"I was just asking." 

"So P’Off doesn't want to go out on a date with me?" Gun looked up at him with bright eyes and flushed cheeks.

“I…” Off swallowed. "I want."

 

Chapter Text

He opened the classroom door and the first thing he heard was 'Papii' and then a pair of arms wrapped around his shoulders. Off turned to the boy, who stood on tiptoe to lean over and place a soft kiss on his neck.

This was the way he started his working days at school for over a month now.

"Nong Gun." He warned, but the boy just looked at him, smiling cutely.

"What?" Gun asked, as if he hadn't just done something that was considered totally inappropriate in the school environment.

The two became very close and very fast. Off saw him walking home alone at the end of his first day and, after talking to Tay about Gun's mother, he decided to offer the boy a ride as a thank you for helping him with the class and to show that he could be nice with people.

But then, what was supposed to be just a one-day thing became routine and soon Off was waiting for Gun every day before heading home. Plus, the boy always made time to meet Off at school, as if he couldn't wait until it was time to leave to go see him.

Just like that morning, where he didn't have class with Off, but waited in his classroom anyway.

"You know what I'm talking about, Nong." Off gently pushed him away.

"I just wanted to hug you a little bit." He pouted. "Papii doesn't like my hugs?"

"I don't mind, but you shouldn't do this at school."

"Why not?" Gun tilted his head in confusion.

Off sighed and then smiled.

"Nothing, just get to your class soon."

"Okay." He pouted again.

"Don't make that face, otherwise I won't give you a ride after class."

"You'll give me a ride anyway." Gun smiled and jumped on Off's arms once more, catching him off guard and kissing his cheek. “Because you think I'm cute and can't say no. See you later, Papii.”

And then he left the classroom almost running, without Off having a chance to respond.

"This boy." He huffed, flustered, and went to his desk.

Gun was right, actually Off couldn't deny many things to the boy and that was a problem. Initially, he came closer to him out of pity, even though he said it wasn't that. He felt bad that he had lost his mother so early, and that first day while they were in the car, Gun told him that he lived alone in an apartment near the school, and that his father and sister lived in another town. Even though he was of legal age, Off still imagined that Gun was a very lonely person.

But then, he realized that Gun was much more than he could ever imagine. He was sweet, fun, very smart and really kind. Off practically melted for him and soon he started to enjoy spending time with Gun a lot.

Which was why he couldn't stop the boy's displays of affection, even though it might not be appropriate for a teacher and a student to have such a close relationship.

Off sometimes feared that their relationship was becoming too close. He wasn't so blind that he didn't notice the way Gun looked at him sometimes and what scared him the most was realizing that he himself looked at Gun the same way.

 

 

 

 

They were sitting inside an empty room at lunchtime. Off was playing a game on his phone and Gun was sitting beside him, his head resting on Off's shoulder.

"Aren't you supposed to be with your friends?" he asked, not looking away from the screen.

“They asked me to go have lunch with them, but I'd rather have lunch with Papii today. Plus, we're friends too.” He muttered.

"Hm."

They were silent for a few seconds.

"Aren't you bored here with me?"

"No way, Papii is so bad at this game that it's funny." He giggled.

"Hey you brat!" Off elbowed him and ended up dying in the game because of it. "Fuck!" He cursed without thinking.

"Papii!" Gun started to laugh out loud. "You shouldn't have elbowed me!"

Off put away his cell phone and turned to look at the boy's smiling face. They were very close, but he didn't pull away.

The two stared at each other for a moment, until Gun leaned in, still laughing a little, and pressing their lips together.

Off widened his eyes and pulled away at once.

"Gun?"

"Papii." Gun looked at him with flushed cheeks and a determined look. "I like you."

Off stood up, taking a few steps away from him.

"Gun, I'm your teacher." He said. "You shouldn't have done this, we're at school!" He ran a hand through his hair in exasperation.

“I didn't mean to kiss you at school, it just happened and…”

"But that can't happen!" He interrupted nervously. "What if someone sees and thinks I'm harassing you?"

"No one would think that, everyone knows how much I like Papii!" Gun responded, getting up as well and trying to get closer to Off, but Off took another step back.

"You should go."

"Papii."

"Please."

Gun took a deep breath, biting his lower lip to hold back tears, but nodded.

“If you don't return my feelings, that's fine. But don't say it's because you're my teacher. I'm already an adult and it's only a month to finish school.” Gun looked at him, hurted. "If you don't want me close, just say with no excuses."

“Gun, this is not what I…” He tried to say, but Gun had already left the room.

Off felt his own heart ache. He didn't want to hurt Gun, and maybe he was right to say that Off was looking for excuses.

But what was he supposed to say? That he was in love with him?

He didn't know if he was or not, he just knew that he liked the boy a lot and that he felt like he'd just hurt them both.

 

 

 

 

Three days passed without Gun speaking to him, and Off was missing the boy like crazy. During his class, Gun barely looked his way and looked really depressed, which made Off even sadder.

He wanted to talk to the boy and he tried, after his class was over he called for Gun, but the boy left the room without looking back and Off felt even worse when he looked out the window and realized that it had started to rain really hard. He tried to text him but got no response, so he packed his things and decided he'd go after him, wondering if Gun was walking in that rain, his heart heavy with worry.

The reality was even worse, because he found the boy a few blocks from school without an umbrella. He was walking in the rain like he was part of a drama movie.

Off stopped the car and got out into the rain.

"Gun!" he called, causing Gun to turn and widen his eyes in surprise. “What the fuck are you doing in the rain? You're going to get sick!" He scolded. "Come with me."

Gun made a sad expression before answering.

"No, Papii doesn't want to see me, so I'm going alone."

"Gun, seriously, get in the car, I'll drive you."

"Stop this." He yelled. “You don't have to offer me a ride out of pity. Also, it is not your obligation as a teacher to do anything for me outside of school.”

“Gun…”

"I am going." He turned to continue, but Off grabbed his arm, pulling him closer.

"Gun, I'm sorry."

“Papii…”

"I'm doing this because I like you, so please let me give you a ride."

Gun looked at him sadly, but nodded and followed him to the car.

"Sorry." He said as he sat down and wet the car seat.

"It's all right."

He started to drive and they were silent for a few minutes.

"This is not the way to my apartment." Gun said.

“We're going to mine. I'll make us dinner and then we'll talk.”

Gun shifted nervously on the seat.

"But Papii can't cook."

Off huffed a laugh.

"Fine, I'll buy dinner and then we'll talk."

"Okay." He replied quietly.

Chapter Text

They walked into the apartment and Gun was shivering from the cold, so the first thing Off did was grab a towel and hand it to him.

"Go take a shower while I buy the food."

“But…” 

"I'll leave you clothes at the bathroom door."

"Okay."

Half an hour later, the two of them were sitting on the couch, with Gun wearing Off's clothes and looking even smaller.

"Cute." Off said without thinking and Gun blushed.

"You shouldn't tell me that when you don't even like me." He pouted.

"I never said I don't like you." Gun looked at him in surprise. "I panicked because you kissed me at school and even if you're of legal age, it could still bring a lot of trouble for both of us."

"Papii, I'm sorry." Gun made a sad face.

"It's okay, sorry to make you cry, I never wanted this to happen." Off smiled and Gun nodded, approaching him hesitantly on the couch.

“Papii…” Gun stared at him before wrapping his arms around his neck. "I missed you."

Off hugged him back.

"Me too."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Gun pressed a soft kiss to his neck and pulled back to look him in the eye again.

"I like you so much." Off blushed at the confession. "Just don't push me away, please."

"I won't." He assured and Gun smiled.

"Papii."

"Hm?"

"We're not at school."

"I can see it."

"Can I kiss you then?"

“Nong Gun!” Off gasped.

"What? You said the problem was that we were at school.” He pouted.

Off sighed, thinking that he had no chance against the boy's cuteness.

"Okay, if you score high on your exams, I promise I'll do whatever you want."

Gun smiled widely.

"Everything?" Off nodded. "So I want you to be my boyfriend."

"Uh, you're supposed to ask after your exams." Off said with flushed cheeks.

"Is that a yes?"

"Hm... yes..."

Gun leaned in and kissed him.

"Oii, I'm not your boyfriend yet." Off complained but pulled the boy closer anyway.

"I just need some motivation." And then he leaned in for another kiss.