Pete was patiently waiting for the football match to begin when he caught a familiar figure from the corner of his eyes. He had to blink once, then twice, before concluding that he wasn’t dreaming this vision.
“Have my eyes deceived me?” Pete spoke in English as he saw the crowd parting hastily to make way for Tin, who walked towards him in a manner that screamed authority.
Tin sat down next to him and stretched his long legs on the bleachers. “Why are you speaking like that?”
Tin said his greetings to Pond and Cha-Aim before replying to Pete.
“Yes. Good observation.”
“In this heat,” Pete pointed out.
Tin nodded in agreement. He quickly undid the buttons on his cuffs and pushed his sleeves all the way up to his elbows, as if he only felt the hot wave of air after Pete brought it up. It felt weird, seeing Tin like this. Not anymore was he proper, or restrained, or tight, or any other adjectives Pete would have used to describe him six months ago.
But now he looked free. Like he was finally allowed to be his age and not twenty years older with a lifetime of emotional trauma weighing him down.
“Another good observation. I brought an electric fan, though,” Tin pulled out a blue miniature fan out of nowhere, “I came prepared.”
As if on cue, Can made an appearance at the edge of the field. He gave Tin an enthusiastic wave that seemed to involved movements from his whole body and not just his arm. Tin laughed, surprising Pete and Pond; the latter looked downright scared of the strange sound coming out of Tin. Cha-Aim was the only one who didn’t visibly react to it. She, on the other hand, was busy pinching Pond’s forearm to get him to stop gawking at Tin.
Tin waved back at Can, a fond smile gracing his face. Can returned the smile and started to jog backward, tripping over his shoes in the first two seconds of doing so.
Pete more felt than saw Tin stood up abruptly, his protective instincts over Can was probably on autopilot. Can recovered almost immediately though, shooting Tin a thumbs-up. Tin sat back down reluctantly. Pete had a feeling that he wanted to make his way down to the field and tie Can’s shoelaces for him properly.
“I’m surprised you don’t have a banner with you.”
“Shut up,” Tin replied through gritted teeth, “that’s more your thing than mine.”
Pete opened his mouth to argue with him, but found himself unable to do so since he was holding up a banner with that said ‘I’m with number 11’ which was Ae’s number on his jersey.