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At first Third was too cautious about being with Khai to pay attention to his words. He had heard him say them the night he got him from the train station, but he was too caught up in his own head with guilt to realize how Khai talked about himself. Khai seemed genuine, but Third was too hurt for too long to trust him. He wanted to be his best friend again. But then that big, stupidly romantic idiot gave that huge proposal in front of everybody, and he couldn’t help but give in.

Khai was the love of his life and he finally trusted him with his heart.

After they got together, Khai showed him off like he was the hottest girl in the world and Khai was the lucky man who got to be with her. Third was embarrassed, but at the same time, it felt good to have Khai look at girls who approached him and go, “Oh, no thank you, I’m the luckiest man on earth already, I don’t need your number,” and sling his arms around Third and beam at him like he hung the moon.

Aun was the one who pointed it out, however, that Third had missed something really important.

“THIRD!” They turned to see Khai all but running from a girl at the counter, sliding into the bench beside him. “I’m so sorry, she wrote a number on my coffee cup, but I swear, I didn’t ask. See? I’ll make it out right now!” he said, pulling out a marker to scribble over it. “See? All gone. I promise, I didn’t hit on her or anything.”

Third smiled and shook his head in amusement. “I know you didn’t dumbass,” he said, taking the other cup from him. “I’m prettier, right?” he asked playfully and Khai lit up like a stop light.

“The prettiest,” he said, leaning over to peck Third’s cheek. “I swear, I have to stop putting myself in that position,” he said, facing the others as he opened his laptop. “I wish girls wouldn’t just walk up to a guy who doesn’t want their attention. Even when I was a playboy, I at least took no for an answer when a girl rejected me.”

“Because none of them ever did,” Bone said flatly.

“Still, it’s so hard to stop getting into situations where I’m alone around a girl that’s really forward,” Khai said, frowning as he opened the file. “I wish I could just wear a sign that says ‘I’m not single’.” He shook his head. “One girl the other night actually touched my butt and pretended it was her shopping bag. But I know what a hand feels like on my ass.”

Third snorted. “You built up a reputation, Khai. You just have to live with it.”

They kept working after that, but he noticed once or twice that Aun was looking at him kind of with a pinched face. It was only after they finished that Aun asked him to stay back and told the others to go ahead without them. “What’s up, Phi?” he asked innocently.

Aun put his hands together, laced on the table, and hesitated. “Third. I think some of the things you say to Khai aren’t okay.”

Third frowned. “What? What the fuck? Why do you have opinions about my relationship?” he asked. “You don’t even like Khai as a friend, you tolerate him for me.”

“I didn’t like how he treated you before,” Aun countered. “But he’s clearly a changed person. But even if he was someone I hated, you said some really wrong things to him, and I think you’ve been doing it for a while.”

Third crossed his arms and sat back. “Okay. I’ll bite. What did I say that was wrong?”

Aun scoffed. “Well the biggest one is how you snorted and said it’s his fault a woman sexually assaulted him,” he said, and Third froze.

“W-what do you mean?”

“You think it’s different because a girl did it?” Aun asked. “Third, a woman groped him and you said ‘you just have to live with the reputation you built’. That’s sexual assault. And you acted like there’s nothing but him having a past that’s wrong with it.”

Third’s blood ran cold. “I didn’t- I didn’t mean that- I didn’t think-“

“Exactly, you don’t think,” Aun said. “Listen to how he talked about constantly putting himself in situations for girls to flirt. He’s blaming himself for existing around girls where they might hit on him. That’s fucked up,” he blurted out. “If he was a girl, would you say it’s her fault for ordering coffee while pretty and it’s just normal for a guy to give her his number without asking if she wanted it?”

Third felt like a dick. He also felt ill. “Oh God.” He put his head in his hands. “P’Aun, when- when Ching Ching kissed him, he told me afterwards the reason he didn’t even try to tell me he didn’t kiss her was because he knew I wouldn’t believe him after he got drunk and let a girl sit beside him that close instead of getting up and coming back to me.”

“Oh God, that’s bad,” Aun said, groaning. “He got sexually assaulted while drunk and didn’t even think it was worth trying to tell the truth because it was his fault for being there? Jesus. Khai, you poor son of a bitch.” He sat back. “Shit. Third. You’re just making the self-blaming worse joking about his reputation.”

Third nodded, fighting the pain in his chest at what he had been doing to his boyfriend. “Shit. I need to- to talk to him. And apologize. Oh my God, Khai,” he said, his voice breaking as he looked over at the door, only to see Khai light up and wave from where he was waiting for him. “Fuck.”

“Yeah. Fuck,” Aun said, and Third thanked him quietly before standing up to go to his amazing boyfriend that he was an asshole to.

~

Third didn’t know how to bring it up until, while he was sitting on the couch at Khai’s place, he heard Khai telling the delivery man, “Oh I’m very flattered, but please don’t say that, okay? My boyfriend is right here. I don’t want him to get the idea I flirted first. Have a nice night.”

Third’s heart broke when he saw the shaken look on Khai’s face as he walked over with their food delivery. “The nerve of some people. Why would you touch a guy on the arm and offer a blowjob as a delivery tip? Right in the doorway? I kind of hate being good looking at this point,” he said, sitting down. “I promise, I pushed his hand off right away, Third. You know that, right?”

Third didn’t realize he was about to cry until his vision blurred. “Khai,” he croaked, his throat tight with emotions.

“Third? Oh shit, Third, what’s wrong?!” Khai immediately reached out, wiping at his cheek. “I promise, I didn’t let him touch me. He just did it. But I won’t answer the door alone again, okay? I’ll let you stand with me-“

Third let out a sob and threw his arms around Khai’s neck, holding him close. “Shut up, please,” he said, kissing Khai’s shoulder. He closed his eyes and stroked his head with one hand and held him close with the other arm. “I’m such a terrible boyfriend.”

“What?! No!” Khai pulled back, looking horrified. “What’s wrong? Why do you think you did anything wrong? You never do anything wrong-“

“Yes I do!” he argued through his tears. “Listen to yourself! You’re promising you won’t answer the door – something everybody should be able to do without fear – in case someone hits on you!”

“But…” Khai frowned. “I don’t want you to get upset. I know how much I’ve hurt you before.”

Third reached up, taking Khai’s face in his hands. “Khai. You shouldn’t feel the need to blame yourself for people hitting on you. You shouldn’t think you have to apologize to me for it. I reacted so badly before and I haven’t done anything to make you believe that I trust you now.” He stroked Khai’s beautiful cheekbones and smiled weakly. “Aun told me I spoke to you badly, and he’s right.”

“He what?!” Khai glared. “That asshole, who does he think he is-“

“I said it’s your fault you have a reputation when you told us someone groped you,” Third said slowly, looking into Khai’s eyes. “Nobody in the checkout line wants to be touched without their consent. If it was the other way around, you would get kicked out for being a pervert. But because you’re a handsome man, a woman can touch you and I just said it’s your fault.” He whimpered. “Khai, I’m so sorry. It’s not your fault. P’Aun was right. Both that groping and the time Ching Ching forced a kiss on you, that’s sexual assault. And I’m blaming you for being a victim.” He let out a shaking breath. “When Ching Ching kissed you, you said you didn’t try to defend yourself because it’s your fault for putting yourself in that position.”

“But… it was?” Khai asked, though now he sounded less certain. “I could have not kept drinking. I could have got up and left. I could have sat somewhere else-“

“And the women that get drugged at bars could have done all those things, to, but you wouldn’t say it’s her fault, would you?” he asked and Khai looked appalled.

“Fuck no, that’s those dirty rapist bastards!” He growled. “If someone ever did that to someone I know, I’d kill them. Sick piece of shit.”

Third leaned their foreheads together, taking a calming breath. “Someone kissed you without you wanting it or agreeing to it and it almost destroyed your relationship with your friends, Khai. It almost broke us up as best friends, not even boyfriends.” He looked into Khai’s eyes. “I’m so sorry for making you think it wasn’t even safe to talk to me. I’m sorry for saying your reputation is why you get hit on without making passes at them. You deserve the same reaction as anybody else. I know you are aware how many times you broke my trust in the past, but you’re different now. You’re not him. That Khai was a bad friend. You’re my Khai, though. The one that loves me and looks at me like I am the only person in a room.” He smiled weakly. “I trust you, Khai. You don’t have to blame yourself for what people do to you that you don’t want. That’s not healthy. And I’m sorry I didn’t realize I was only making it easier for you to do that.”

Khai looked scared and somewhat ill. “But Third… if what happened to me is sexual assault, I did it to you. Twice,” he said, looking like he might throw up. “Fuck. Holy shit, I- I did something so terrible to you.”

Third grimaced. “You did. And I don’t forgive you for either time,” he said honestly. “You broke my heart and you broke my trust. But you aren’t like them,” he stressed. “You were trying to make me hate you, you weren’t trying to take advantage of me. And the second time I don’t know what you were trying to do, but we were fighting so much already.”

Khai sighed, dropping his head. “I did it because I- I wanted to know what it felt like to kiss someone I loved. It isn’t an excuse, I did something terrible to you. But I just- I was not okay then. That doesn’t make it any less wrong, but I would have never hurt you. Not the way I did in the bathroom.”

Third winced. “Again, I’m not able to forgive you for kissing me without my consent, but still, it’s different. Ching Ching wanted to nail the hottest guy in the faculty. That woman at the check out line wanted to cop a feel. You did a lot of bad things, but now you shouldn’t keep blaming yourself for being a victim. It’s so much worse than blaming yourself for hurting someone you love.” He squeezed his hands. “I trust you, I love you, and I know that you have never once tried to get something from me without knowing I want it since we got together.”

“Of course not. I’m not a monster,” Khai said. “Well, not anymore,” he said sadly.

Third smiled and pushed Khai back until he could crawl into his lap, hugging him tight and kissing his neck, leaving his head tucked into Khai’s shoulder. “Sometimes it actually gets a little annoying when you won’t touch me without me giving verbal consent.” He huffed out a laugh. “See? I just sat on your lap and kissed you without asking. You can trust that if I don’t want something, I’ll say no.”

Khai hesitated before holding him tightly around the waist. “Actually, I kind of really like asking you and hearing you say, ‘Khai, kiss me harder’ or ‘Khai, play with my chest,’” he said, and Third snorted, pulling back to glare playfully at him.

“You’re so dirty,” he accused, pointing a finger in his face. Khai, to his relief, just turned and kissed his fingertip, then licked it. “Ewwww, you’re not a dog, don’t do that,” he said, wiping his finger on Khai’s shirt.

Khai hummed, holding him closely, bumping their noses together. “I’m really happy we had this talk. I didn’t even realize I was holding so much anxiety about it. I just… got used to it.”

Third pecked his lips sweetly, smiling against them. “I’ll be New Third to your New Khai, okay? From now on, I won’t be as harsh to you. I’ll pay better attention. And in exchange, you don’t be such a doormat to me, okay? I want my Khai, not an obedient little wife always on eggshells.”

“Wife who? I’m the husband,” Khai joked, and Third pulled back, raising an eyebrow as he scraped his nails against the back of Khai’s scalp, making him shiver and gasp.

“Oh? Who’s legs were over my shoulders last night, taking it nice and deep?” he flirted, and Khai’s eyes darkened.

“The one that’s going to bend you over the couch if you keep playing with my hair like that,” he threatened, though it was so far from an unwelcome one.

Third kissed him with just enough passion to have that heat simmer below the surface before he pulled back. “After dinner, okay? You’ll need the energy.”

“After dinner,” Khai agreed, and then turned Third to sit sideways across his lap instead. “But we’re eating like this okay? I need cuddles.”

Third sighed and kissed his forehead, letting his lips linger. “I love you, Khai. You’re my best friend.”

“I love you and you’re my best friend, too,” Khai said, pecking his chin before reaching out for their bag of food they had abandoned to have their talk.

As Khai fed him from his own fork, Third made a mental reminder to text Aun to thank him later. Hopefully, given the bulge growing under his ass, it would be much, much later though.