The smell of sweet pastries wafted over to them the moment Runway, Guide, and Yim walked into the store. They had been hanging around the mall for a while when they finally decided to get something sweet, and Yim in particular had a craving.
As they were walking past the counter to the back of the line, a voice called out.
“Hey! You’re not even going to greet your senior?”
Yim’s head snapped around. “P'Asawin!” A smile spread on his face at the surprise. He did a wai, which Asawin returned. He had on his ever-present smile as he looked over the trio.
“What were you guys doing here?”
“The movie we wanted to see was full, so we had to wait for a later time,” Runway answered.
“Excuse me,” the cashier interrupted. “But can you pay for the food?”
“Sorry,” Asawin said, turning away from them. There was a moment right after he took his wallet when he paused. He looked at the cashier and ordered another cake. He didn’t put it in with the bag with the rest of his things, but instead, he turned around and handed it to Yim.
Yim was too confused to do anything but accept it. “Here. A treat from your senior.” Yim’s mouth went dry as Asawin gave him a look that was a little bit longer than necessary.
“Then what about us, P’?” Guide quipped.
“Maybe next time. This time, it’s just Yim.” Guide quirked an eyebrow. “I already paid,” Asawin added lightly.
Guide nodded along casually but the moment Asawin turned back to look at Yim, he grinned at Runway.
“I’ll see you all later. Enjoy the movie.” He offered a final wave. Yim’s eyes followed him as he retreated from the store. The sound of the door clanging shut brought his attention back to the cake.
It was a small, round thing. Not even bigger than his palm, it was topped with icing and a light smattering of sprinkles. Warmth crept up his chest, even as this didn’t feel real.
“Yim.” Runway jostled him. “Do you want to get that thing you were craving anyway?”
Yim slowly looked up at Runway. “This was it.” Runway tilted his head. “I’m serious,” he said, before anyone could even ask.
Guide furrowed his brows in mock disgust but he still had his grin. “That’s so cute, I’m gonna vomit.”
Yim looked in the mirror. He tugged his shirt again. Adjusted his pants. Fixed his tie. But he just couldn’t get used to his suit tonight, and he wanted out.
Guide never looked like he had an issue with formal wear. But Yim had been staring in the mirror for the past half hour, and was going to have to accept that his uneasiness might be permanent. After all, if he didn’t leave in the next 10 minutes, his mother was going to kill him for being late.
After one final glance at the mirror, he grabbed his jacket from the chair and walked out of his dorm room. He let his thoughts go around in circles as he walked to the entrance.
It’s not like he’s never been in formal wear before. He didn’t know what it was that made him feel so off but he wanted to go back to his loose clothing asap and he was going to the moment he got bac-
He bumped into someone. Stumbling backwards, he took a moment to regain his balance. An apology was already halfway out his mouth when he looked up and recognized the person.
“We always bump into each other,” Asawin remarked.
“I’m sorry,” Yim said with a sigh. Asawin tilted his head.
“Is something wrong?”
“Just something I have to do tonight.”
“You’re dressed for a party. You can’t bring that energy with you.”
“How do I look?” Yim took a step back and gestured at his outfit before he realized he just exposed himself to the chance of being embarrassed. Asawin’s eyebrows lifted in amusement but this was the hill Yim had put himself on and it was better to die on it than back out.
“You look good, N'Yim.” Before Yim could say thank you, Asawin took a few steps forward. His hand reached towards Yim’s collar. He leaned in, fixing a part of his collar that got stuck under the tie. He smelled so good that Yim forced himself not to take another inhale. “Even better,” he added. He shot a smile at Yim that made all his nerves yell in alarm.
Before Yim could completely lose his mind, Asawin took a step back with the smile still on his face. “Have fun at the party. Take care of yourself.”
Yim’s throat was so dry he couldn’t even say anything. He just nodded awkwardly before turning around and forcing himself to walk much slower than he wanted to. His nerves were running a million miles a minute and he could feel his heart in his ears.
He put on his jacket. The humidity was going to punish him for that, but he had never felt more attractive in his goddamn life.
Yim beamed at the pin on his shirt. All around him students were doing the same, mingling easily with each other and pointing at their own pins. They were finally done with their hazing and he had the pin to show it. It was an airplane that was tiny and glossy and it was his.
He looked up and saw P'Asawin making his way around the room to congratulate the juniors. Yim waited patiently as he slowly but surely headed towards Yim, and Yim begged that Guide and Runway would take just a little bit longer to get their drinks.
Maybe it was the alcohol or the shiny pin was getting to his head, but when Asawin turned to the next junior to find it was Yim, Yim thought the way he smiled looked different.
It was the wishful thinking, Yim decided.
“You look so happy. I remember when that was me.”
“Thank you. You guided us a lot during this period.”
“Yeah, you’ve definitely come a long way from that first week when you had to dance for being late.” Asawin and Yim laughed together at the memory. Yim found himself fighting a frown as he thought about everything that happened that day.
“I still feel bad whenever I think about that blindfold game.”
“Don’t be. It’s a funny memory to me.”
Yim’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. Not that it was shocking that P'Asawin would graciously reject his embarrassment, but he did it with such genuine fondness that something in Yim gave out.
“I like you,” he blurted out. The words dropped a silence into the air. Next to Asawin’s shellshocked expression, Yim saw Runway and Guide behind him making a hasty u-turn. “As more than a senior.”
Yim messed it up for sure. He was already regretting it, but he didn’t pull away and after a moment, Asawin snickered in amusement.
“Is that how you flirt?”
“I’m confessing,” Yim corrected. His heart was beating like crazy but he forced himself to stay calm enough to say the next words. “But if you want flirting so much, I can show you this Saturday at the cinema.”
Asawin’s jaw went slack in surprise. Even Yim didn’t know where he was getting all this courage but damn it if he didn’t enjoy putting that look on Asawin’s face after all the times he rattled Yim.
A smile slowly spread on Asawin’s face, even as his eyes stayed wide in surprise. “Sounds like a date.”
Yim was so relieved that he laughed a little bit and he had to stop himself from laughing even harder when Guide lifted his drink in silent salute and Runway gave a thumbs up.