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and yet, you’re the only one

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The red box. 

 

The red square box, adorned with pink hearts, white stripes, and cute little words written in cursive. 

 

Love.

 

Dearest.

 

Mine.

 

Mine.

 

If that doesn’t scream confession Sarawat doesn’t know what does. 

 

He takes note of the disgustingly sweet chocolates and pink snacks inside and a letter attached to the top. The handwriting is not too neat either but he admits it’s neater than his own.

 

Someone calls his name from across the hall. Sarawat, still half glaring at the box in his hand while simultaneously reading the paper inked in red, doesn't notice the boy come behind him until it's snatched away.

 

“Another confession?” Tine asks, amused. “Don’t you get one of these, like, every other class?” Even while that’s horribly true, Sarawat doesn’t relent. Maybe had he been less suspicious Tine would’ve brushed it off. No, definitely not. He’s too nosy.

 

He reaches for the offending paper but Tine and his grossly long arms push him away and takes off with a small laugh. 

 

The halls are filled with idle chatter and the occasional swarm of girls gossiping near the bathroom in hushed whispers. He jogs past them in an effort to catch Tine who had already managed to find a way on the landing of the stairs.

 

He sits on the ledge of the window, grinning at Sarawat’s dismay and looking grossly satisfied with himself. Sarawat climbs the stairs faster. 

 

“Is it dirty?” He smirks, eyes full with mischief.

 

“Can you just,” Sarawat says almost desperately, reaching for the paper again and this time almost succeeding. 

 

Tine puts a finger on his lip, hushing his friend before opening the wrinkled red paper. 

 

Sarawat huffs in defeat. 

 

“To my dearest…Tine.” He squints his eyes and looks at Sarawat. 

 

He nods grudgingly and Tine’s eyes grow wider. 

 

It wasn’t like Tine didn’t get confession letters because of course he did, he was Tine chic of school. A boy with the fluffy brown hair that everyone adored, a little too much in Sarawat’s opinion. 

 

It was just rare. 

 

Tine holds up the paper to the ceiling akin to inspecting a fake bill, face scrunched up. Once he notes that it indeed is for him and not another ploy from The Sarawat’s Wife chat he opens the folded paper. 

 

To my dearest, Tine.

 

Thanks for the jacket you gave me when you noticed I was shaking. You smell of pines but it’s sweet. 

I love it. 

I told myself I’d take this risk to see If we could be more than acquaintances, so here I am.

Here’s a box of sweets that reminds me of you! Don’t eat too much, haha.

 

Xoxo, a member of the art club.

 

Sarawat had read one line over again. 

 

You smell of pines

 

There's something tantalizing about the way Tine looks. The way he clutches the note tighter the more he reads, the unusual hint of red hues spotting his cheeks, and the corner of his lip curving upward. 

 

It almost makes Sarawat sick. 

 

Scratch that, it does make him sick, a hammering in his chest that won’t go away, not since he’d stop running, not when he’s standing still.  

 

Maybe it’s the blissed look on his face that screams at Sarawat to grab and maybe kiss senselessly. The way he chews on the flesh on his bottom lip as his eyes scan the paper in a sense of jubilant impatience. Sarawat imagines that face in someone else’s hands, being touched, kissed, godforsaken loved even. 

 

A component of sentiment and a lasp of inertia halts Sarawat from shredding the note and taking away the love sick look in Tine’s eyes. He wants nothing more than to know who the girl is and why she thought confessing her love to Tine over a jacket would be a reasonable ‘thank you’. It’s stupid. Who does that? No one with their head screwed on right, that’s for sure. 

 

Tine clears his throat again and stuffs the already crinkled paper in his back pocket. He loosens the tie of his uniform and looks down at his shoes. 

 

Sarawat might have imagined it as they walked back to the locker. Tine devoids the whole love letter fiasco and babbles about his failing math grade, how he got the cutie from calculus to give him extra help after school, and how Fong got his finger stuck in a jar during lunch.  

 

Even ignores why Sarawat was snooping around in his—well, their things since they did share a locker voluntarily. 

 

Tine takes the red box home that night and something ugly swells in Sarawat’s chest. 

 

***

 

There’s another letter in their locker the next day and it’s even sappier. It falls out of one of his textbooks, this time accommodated with a small plastic bag. Thankfully, there was no array of chocolates and flowers or anything like that. 

 

Sarawat also got one.

 

Sarawat,

 

You are very handsome! Please never get a girlfriend or I will be so sad and cry!!

 

lots of love, Toy.

 

Sarawat sighs and crumbles the paper.

 

“And here I thought you liked being threatened by ten girls a day,” Tine snorts. The act tickles the side of Sarawat’s neck as he leans over his shoulder to inspect the now ball of paper. 

 

“Ai’Wat,” he scolds and grabs the paper, trying his best to straighten it out again. “What if she's watching?” Tine asks.

 

A warm chest presses against his back and he scuffs, rummaging through their disorganized locker to stop his brain from emphasizing the causal action.

 

“So, what about yesterday?” Sarawat inquires instead.

 

Tine steps back and leans on the locker beside them. “What about yesterday?”

 

“You know the whole ‘Tine you saved me from freezing to death at school and, oh yeah here’s a box of cavities,” Sarawat states monotonously.

 

He looks a bit taken back but hides it with a smile. “You get those all the time?”

 

Sarawat squints. 

 

“Remember last week when that girl from the medical faculty gave you all that random supplies and shit? Oh, Sarawat I hope you never get sick, here’s a bottle of antibiotics and vitamins for the fall season.” The octave of his voice rises the more he goes on. 

 

Sarawat clears his throat and shuts the locker with more force than intended “Right. Anyways, who did you give your jacket to?” 

 

Tine crosses his arms over his chest. “Why?” 

 

He shrugs. “I just want to know, can I not know?”

 

Nice one Sarawat.

 

“Not know what?” A heavy arm wraps around Sarawat’s shoulder and Man, the epitome of good timing, smiles between the two. 

 

“Nothing.” Tine shakes his head, an unamused look on his face. 

 

“He’s been getting confession letters,” Sarawat tells him truthfully and is faced with a look of betrayal.

 

“No way.” Man takes the red note out of Tine’s hand. 

 

To my dearest, P’Tine.

 

I hope you’re able to eat breakfast this morning, if not

Here’s a bright and shining apple akin to your pretty smile. :))))

 

See you at the football game?

 

“That’s so—ehm,” Man clears his throat. “I mean, gosh this is so creepy you should definitely throw it away, like right now.”

 

Tine squints his eyes and looks between the two, Sarawat who stares vigorously at the apple, and Man, who stares vigorously at Sarawat like some helpless communication between the two (three?). 

 

Tine looks at Sarawat again and sighs, plucking the apple out of his hand. “I'm heading to class.” 



***

 

Sarawat rocks the ball aimlessly between his heel and the grass.

 

The game doesn’t start for another hour but he still feels tense. Maybe it’s the field that gives him anxiety. It’s nearly empty, save for the cheerleaders practicing and occasional people in the stands socializing loudly. 

 

He mainly focuses on the cheerleaders.

 

Mainly on the cheer captain. 

 

Tine smiles happily next to Green, clipboard in hand. His white shirt sticks obscenely to his body, molding out his biceps and chest quite perfectly. Sarawat watches the muscles in their supple movements, flexing in the sun as they go over a routine for the umpteenth time. He licks his lips. It’s out of habit he has to reassure himself the more parched his mouth becomes. 

 

There’s no lie that Tine doesn't look extremely good. 

 

“I feel like you’re seconds away from taking out a camera,” Boss says out of fucking nowhere. 

 

Sarawat flinches but feels slightly more comforted that he was the only one that caught him in the act. 

 

“Piss off.”

 

Suddenly two hands grab his shoulders. 

 

“Listen man, if you would just go with our plan you would have already been together!” He exclaims, matter of fact. Sarawat doesn't know what their plan is exactly and has no intention of finding out. Two heads are better than one but in this case, it ensures destruction and chaos. 

 

He remembers the last time his friend had a plan, which was oddly illegal. He can’t remember much because for half of it his eyes were red and he couldn’t properly recite the national anthem, but the other half he felt warm, extremely warm everywhere. He remembers their laced hands, Tine lazily snuggling close to Sarawat ( he doesn’t remember how he got Tine to agree to the ministrations either.)

 

Then remembers everyone leaving, just the two of them—and maybe another friend who passed out a while ago.

 

The warmth wasn’t too suffocating either.

 

Instead of shrugging Boss off like he should have done (he really should have). He turns his head to the side and almost regrets his next words. 

 

“What plan?”

 

Boss smirks. 

 

The game ends with a victory, everyone’s tired but extremely exhilarated. 

 

Thankfully Sarawat hadn’t seen any unknown girl come up next to Tine throughout it. It’s not that he was watching the whole time because of course he had to play, that would be weird.

 

Very weird. 

 

“You guys had a good game,” Tine praises, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and more energetic than Sarawat could ever be. 

 

Sarawat turns and ruffles his hair, the action eliciting a puzzled look on Tine’s face. 

 

“Because the cheer captain was watching.” 

 

Step One of BossMan’s Plan to Boo-up Sarawat: Flirting

 

Even on the dully lit sidewalk, Tine’s cheeks tint red. “Shut up,” he pushes him away. “I didn't even perform in the game?”

 

“So?” Sarawat questions. “You cheered for me didn’t you?” 

 

He nudges Sarawat’s side with a small smile. “Don’t be an ass about it. Shouldn’t you be celebrating anyway?”

 

They did in fact. Man had already somehow manifested their crushing defeat and planned ahead of time. They all knew it was somehow going to end up at Mil’s house ‘borrowing’ his parents' expensive alcohol.

 

Sarawat on the other hand was actually tired and wanted nothing more than to wash up and crash on Tine’s bed with the unhealthy amount of pillows. 

 

Besides, he’d rather not be alone tonight.

 

“I’m tired,” He yawns and grips his bag tighter. “and cold.”

 

As if on cue, a soft breeze brushes against his bare arms and through the seams of his jersey. Sarawat sniffs as his body racks with another shiver, now solemnly regretting pouring half a water bottle on his head before leaving.

 

At the same time a warmth wraps around his shoulders. Tine mutters something under his breath with a familiar insult as he smooths out the wrinkles and fixes the collar of his jacket. 

 

Sarawat watches the way his eyebrows furrow in concentration and pauses their walk momentarily to push his arms through the sleeves. 

 

He smoothes the front before zipping it up. The girl is right, he thinks as the sharp smell of a woody mint hits all his senses at once. 

 

“I guess that’s two fewer jackets in your closet.” Sarawat snorts and swings his bag back over his shoulders. 

 

Tine groans as they fall back into pace. “We’re still on this?”

 

“Nope.” He confirms. “I don’t care.”

 

Tine squints his eyes. “You don’t?”

 

“That’s what I just said.”

 

Tine rolls his eyes and asks, “Whatever, coming to mine?” 

 

Sarawat nods. He’d already stayed last weekend and the weekend before too. 

 

“Cool, mom  bought a new game. We could try it together.” He thinks out loud. 

 

“Yeah okay.” Sarawat nods again. 

 

He knew if he walked back home no one would be there. He didn’t have siblings to keep him company, no family dinners to attend. Just him. He’d distract himself with homework on the weekdays, it wasn't hard being his last year of high school. 

 

The fridge was always full, so were the cabinets, and yet it still felt empty, quiet. He’d play his guitar sometimes, those were the only times he’d allowed Tine to come over.

 

Tine was the only one allowed to hear him play.

 

Sometimes he’d sing an original song or another Scrubb song he’d already played that night. And Tine? Tine would sprawl across Sarawat’s bed like he owned it, not that he minded the scent of his cologne still alive and tangled in his sheet. 

 

And Sarawat would play those songs for him. 

 

Once every blue moon he’d get a glimpse of his dad in the morning. He’d make him coffee: black no sugar, try a shitty attempt at breakfast, and Tine would come over and make conversation, have the old man rolling in laughter at times. Dad did love Tine and his parents a lot. 

 

Then when the inevitable would happen, he’d disappear again for another week or two and Sarawat would hate him again until he returned. 

 

Tine doesn’t protrude when he stops engaging in conversation and he’s grateful for it.

 

“Hey,” He says suddenly after a few minutes of silence. Sarawat lifts his head from the uneven sidewalk and a grin spreads across Tine’s face almost instantly, for a second Sarawat thinks he’s staring at the sun. 

 

“What? ”He looks at him weirdly but can’t help lifting the corner of his mouth, caught from the contagious smile. 

 

There’s a pause and then a whoosh of air. “I call the red controller!” Tine takes off into a run. 

 

But he knows, knows Sarawat hates being alone. 

 

Sarawat huffs but hurriedly follows him to the front door. 

***

How to ask a boy out? 

 

Results: Be forward and straight to the point. Don’t hold back when you express your love and adoration. Kisses, hugs, anything! Just get your hands on him! 

 

Cringe.

 

How to ask out a boy as a boy? 

 

Results: Mention his smile and the way he makes you feel. Ask if he'd be interested in hanging out or going to get a drink, mention activities that aren't necessarily romantic but can be with a little spark.

 

Too forward.

 

Kittens in sombreros

 

Results: Cuteness.png

 

Cute but off-topic, next.

 

Why do I want to kiss him so badly like my life depends on it and I'm dying from too much love?

 

Results: Five signs you’ve caught Hanahaki.

 

Is Hanahaki disease real??? 

 

Sarawat deletes the last of his search history before grabbing a random pillow and holding it against his chest. 

 

He was nervous, extremely nervous. Tine was going to come back from the bathroom any minute now with freshly blown-out hair, skin still warm from the water, and smell ten times more intoxicating. He closes his eyes but the image only gets more picturesque.

 

The feeling was all so new to him and he had no idea how to handle it. He knew he couldn’t exactly ask any of his friends because they were for the most part straight, except Man who ‘secretly’ had a crush on Tine’s older brother at one point, it was sad to watch.

 

But now he has bigger problems which in other words his current dilemma: to be the subject of Tine and his stupidly good-looking features. 

 

He survives the night at the very edge of the bed. 



****



The last game of the season ended with another win and Sarawat was being hauled up by the team. 

 

There was cheering and bodies colliding as the cheerleaders ran to the field in triumph from yet another victory. 

 

And Tine had hugged Sarawat so tightly that Sarawat could still feel it as they sat on the bench, teasing one another and clueless to all the eyes on them. He could still feel it when everyone stood up to take pictures for the yearbook, and he could still feel it as everyone moved away, talking amongst themselves.

 

Sarawat had too much to drink, he knows it because he can’t erase the thought of pushing his best friend in one of the rooms upstairs and kissing him until he loses it. 

 

The thought lingers in his head as a group of them sit on a friend’s couch. Their arms brush together as Tine shows him all the pictures he took during the game, accidentally swiping too far to a selfie he had taken with Pear.

 

“Cute.” Sarawat says over the loud music and proceeds to send it to himself. 

 

“Wat!” Tine tries to steal his phone back but Sarawat leans away. “I need a new contact picture.” 

 

“You’re lying,” he complains.

 

“What, you don’t like it?” Sarawat frowns. 

 

He sips on his red solo cup, “My face looks bloated.” 

 

Sarawat smiles lightly. “I think you look pretty.” 

 

He feels his own face start to heat up and a new found confidence building up in the pit of his stomach. There’s a room full of people but Sarawat feels like it’s just them. 

 

Step Two of BossMan’s Plan to Boo-up Sarawat: Touch

 

He reaches over and tugs one of his cheeks softly.  “I like your apple cheeks.”

 

Tine’s mouth moves to say something, probably another snarky comeback. 

 

It’s a boy who interrupts them standing shyly with his hands behind his back and adverts eye contact with the both of them.  

 

“P’Tine.” He says holding out a oh-so familiar gift

 

Red box.

 

The red box.

 

Sarawat hears his heart in his ears.

 

Love.

 

Dearest.

 

Mine.

 

“P’Tine will you go out with me?” He asks. 

 

Sarawat doesn’t know where to look and a heavy pressure wraps around his neck and squeezes tight. This was the same person that sent the gifts, wrote Tine letters, and confessed to him . A boy. He did everything Sarawat couldn’t because he couldn’t . He couldn’t lose Tine. No. The thought was stomach-wrenching. 

 

“Me?” Tine points to himself with an astonished expression. 

 

Tay, Sarawat recalls, nods his head and pushes the box into his empty hands. Tine looks at Sarawat one last time before hesitantly steadying it in his lap. An uncomfortable blush makes its way to his face and works down neck. 

 

There’s an array of ‘Ooo’ ‘s from around the room but he doesn’t respond, and Sarawat excuses himself— couldn't bear the loudness anymore. He hears voices behind him congratulating him on their win and a few pats. He thinks it might be Dim and his friends but his ears are too clogged to hear properly. 

 

When he steps into the bathroom his chest feels tight. 

 

He doesn’t understand why he feels this way. Maybe it’s the aspect of having an absent figure in his life crashing down in tandem with his heartbreak. 

 

Why couldn’t he take defeat like a normal person? A normal friend supports their best friend and tells them words of encouragement. A normal son would be proud that his father works his ass off to keep them alive and healthy, but Sarawat… God .

 

Sarawat’s selfish. 

 

Sarawat’s exhausted. 

 

Sarawat’s so, so, so smitten.

 

Today was a good day, he has to tell himself. He had fun.

 

But God does it hurt.

 

“Sarawat!” The door abruptly opens.

 

He looks at Tine, sweaty and who seems to be out of breath as he stumbles in the bathroom and closes the door. 

 

“What do you—“

 

Tine grabs both sides of his face and kisses him. 

 

His lips are warm and slightly chapped and every coherent thought vanishes. The smell of his cologne and the clean scent of conditioner are all too dizzying to handle. Tine kisses in a tentative manner, slow and full of trepidation and Sarawat’s whole body stills in shock.

 

He grabs the counter tightly as Tine pulls away just as quickly. 

 

“Oh shit.” he mutters, a disbelieving laugh following. “I actually did it.”

 

It takes Sarawat a few seconds to register exactly what was happening.

 

His crush just kissed him. Tine just kissed him. 

 

Sarawat skips to the last step of the mischief plan. 

 

He doesn’t hear what he says next because in an instant he’s reclaiming Tine’s lips. 

 

Step Seven of BossMan’s Plan to Boo-up Sarawat: Kiss 

 

Sarawat’s kissing his best friend, kissing him with the conviction of a man whose life is on the line, kissing him in the random bathroom of a house party that smells of booze and bad decisions, and it’s all too good. Tine’s hands tangle in Sarawat’s hair in an instant, pulling them closer than they’ve ever been. The music sounds to a stop as the pounding in his ears grow louder only allowing him to hear the soft sound of their lips sliding against each other in intense fervor.

 

Years of built up repression released with one final tug. He hears sounds he’s never heard elicit from Tine’s mouth and realizes the sensitivity. Tine's never kissed anyone before—neither has Sarawat so the feeling is new to the both of them but knowing the kiss pleasures Tine just as much makes the absurdity of his doubts vanish completely.

 

Sarawat swipes his tongue along his bottom lip and tastes the tang of alcohol, likes the way Tine reacts to the sudden attention, soft and quietly like he’s afraid they’ll get caught. It only adds to the fuel. 

 

They’re both drunk but they know this would be a night to remember. They finally pull apart, lips both bruised red and breathing heavy. Tine looks beatific, has this glow that makes Sarawat stare. 

 

He opens his eyes slowly. “I like you, Sarawat. I like you a lot.” Tine whispers meekly, voice uneven and deep from the kiss and eyes lashes shining under the fluorescent light. 

 

And then Sarawat kisses him again, and again, and again, and again until Tine is laughing and pushing away from the attack. 

 

At this moment Sarawat doesn’t care about the stares they’ll get in the hallways, or the painful talk he’ll have with his dad. He thinks of Tine. The Tine that gives him butterflies like some cliché coming to age, the Tine that can’t probably play a C Minor on his guitar, and the Tine who probably loves him just as much. 

 

To think it all started with the red box.