Memories for Tomorrow


You're Average Person :)
ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 Om & bias couple here! Love them! Cant express enough of them! hahahahah....

LMAO...Mario...I would have thought he was gay too...gossiping w/ those girls.....

awwww I loved how Nadech was there when some dude was trying to pressure Yaya into dancing w/ him

Mak oh this line of his

&ldquo;&hellip;No wonder she&rsquo;s always in such a bad mood. Midnight constipation must suck.&rdquo;


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?
Chapter 6

&ldquo;Why do you keep coming to bed so late? Are you working extra hours?&rdquo; Yaya asked one night.

Mai yawned and brushed her hair. &ldquo;Oh no, I was talking to Om.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh? What about?&rdquo; Yaya asked.

&ldquo;Mm&hellip;&rdquo; Mai threw on a pair of sweats, &ldquo;I dunno, stuff. We study a lot too.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh really?

This caused Mai to look up with a questioning brow. &ldquo;What?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh nothing,&rdquo; Yaya smiled knowingly, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure you two are having tons of fun.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Mai shrugged, &ldquo;You should join us. Nadech was there the other night and we laughed our butts off cus he was telling us about how Oh spiked the volleyball right at their professor&rsquo;s head and then said &lsquo;Little help?&rsquo;&rdquo;

Yaya shook her head at Mario&mdash;and Nadech-- for his tactlessness. &ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;m going to be a third wheel.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What&rsquo;re you talking about?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, you know what I&rsquo;m talking about,&rdquo; Yaya gave a suggestive smile.

Mai pursed her lips, &ldquo;M-kay&hellip;?&rdquo;

Yaya bounded down the stairs and paused when she saw Nadech hanging out by the desk area. She thought Mai was probably going to start working soon and Om was on duty so she quickly went down.

&ldquo;Hey Nadech, come here.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What is it?&rdquo; he asked.

She looked around and found Mai about to walk through the front entrance, so she pulled Nadech down the hall and down the stairs to the lower lounge.

&ldquo;Yaya, what&rsquo;s going on?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh&hellip;&rdquo; she peeked up the stairs before facing him. &ldquo;I was just wondering if you knew what pages we had to read for English tonight.&rdquo;

He thought a second. &ldquo;Pages thirty-two to forty-five. But I thought you said you already read it.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh!&rdquo; she smacked her forehead. &ldquo;Duh! Haha, sorry, I totally forgot.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah&hellip;&rdquo; he squinted at her. &ldquo;Okay then.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Wait!&rdquo; She stopped him from going back up.


&ldquo;Uh&hellip;Are you busy tonight?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nnnn&hellip;no. Why?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Wanna go work out with me?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Sure. Let me just put my books away.&rdquo;

&ldquo;&hellip;it&rsquo;s not my fault that you&rsquo;re a bad parker!&rdquo;

&ldquo;If my car is damaged in any way&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;Ugh, I didn&rsquo;t damage your car&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;You ALMOST did!&rdquo;

&ldquo;What&rsquo;s going on?&rdquo; Beau asked from behind the front desk when Mario and Taew reached her.

&ldquo;I need to see Max,&rdquo; Taew demanded.

&ldquo;As do I,&rdquo; Mario said grumpily.

&ldquo;He&rsquo;s not in,&rdquo; Beau replied.

&ldquo;Are you guys at it again?&rdquo; Kim asked when she and Margie came down the stairs.

&ldquo;It was his fault!&rdquo;

&ldquo;She started it!&rdquo; They shouted at once.

&ldquo;You guys, you&rsquo;ve gone through this already.&rdquo; Eight times since the semester started, Beau counted in her head. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t change parking spaces.&rdquo;

Like the rest of the population who could not foresee the future, one of the administrative employees had unfortunately given Mario and Taew side-by-side parking spaces in the lot behind Clark Hall so that every time they were both in need of their cars at the same time, they had to confront each other and neither were giving up the hostility that had started since they&rsquo;d first met. It wouldn&rsquo;t be bad except that coincidentally, Mario&rsquo;s work schedule at Chapter Zero was exactly the same as Taew&rsquo;s volunteer schedule at the Paine Theater&hellip;which also happened to be on the same block downtown. So not only were they trying so hard to ignore each other when they met at their cars that they ended up NOT ignoring each other, but they were basically tail-gating each other over to their respective work places.

&ldquo;He opened his car door right into the side of my car,&rdquo; Taew huffed.

&ldquo;Oh please, it barely touched your car and you wouldn&rsquo;t have to worry if you parked better, I mean you were almost over the yellow line on my side,&rdquo; Mario retorted.

&ldquo;I do NOT park badly!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Tell that to the passenger side of your car that is dangerously close to the driver side of my car. I mean, I know I&rsquo;m irresistible but come on.&rdquo;

Great slipped in with Nadech, Mai and Yaya and they immediately knew what was going on.

&ldquo;There IS a simple solution to this you guys,&rdquo; Beau said primly.

&ldquo;What?&rdquo; Taew asked.

&ldquo;You could just politely say &lsquo;Excuse me&rsquo; next time.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Are you kidding? That would make me the one who did something wrong and I did NOT do anything wrong.&rdquo;

Mario scoffed. &ldquo;Oh no, never would Miss Taew do anything wrong.&rdquo;

She scowled at him. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not apologizing when I shouldn&rsquo;t have to.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nor am I,&rdquo; Mario shot back.

&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t say apologize,&rdquo; Beau explained, &ldquo;I said to say &lsquo;Excuse me.&rsquo;&rdquo;

&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the difference?&rdquo; the two rivals asked.

She sighed in exasperation at the group that was watching like this was their evening prime-time show. Great and Nadech even had bags of popcorn in their hands, snacking all the while. &ldquo;Nevermind. I&rsquo;ll leave Max a note and he&rsquo;ll deal with it when he gets back,&rdquo; though she knew he would only add it to the other pile of complaints received from this pair&mdash;not out of avoiding his duties as hall director, but after the first three times they&rsquo;d gotten into a fight, he figured there was nothing serious going on and Taew and Mario&rsquo;s animosity would continue no matter what he did to try and cool their tempers. He had an inkling suspicion the two didn&rsquo;t even realize that they were actually friends and in fact shared a lot of things in common personality-wise, but thought it wise not to say so in front of them.

Mai quickly pressed the Backspace button, and looked at Om, who was stifling a laugh. &ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t see that!&rdquo;

He chuckled, &ldquo;So you like shooting hoops in the QUART huh?&rdquo; teasing her typo of using &lsquo;quart&rsquo; instead of &lsquo;court.&rsquo;

&ldquo;Oh, but I&rsquo;d really like to upgrade to the gallon, there&rsquo;s just so much more room.&rdquo;

Om glance at her and took a deep breath. &ldquo;So you wanna go get dinner&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;You guys wanna go get dinner in Fury?&rdquo; Mario came in with Margie, Kim and Pope, unaware of interrupting Om&rsquo;s first ever attempt of asking Mai out.

The friends were at a table inside the commons, surrounded by fellow classmates who were fueling up and socializing.

&ldquo;Who&rsquo;s going to the hockey game on Friday?&rdquo;

Om raised his hand to Pope&rsquo;s question, earning a flat stare. &ldquo;We all know you&rsquo;ll be there, duh.&rdquo; The rest of the group raised their hands too.

&ldquo;Lawrence is going to destroy those Beavers!&rdquo; Mario declared, mouth full of mac&rsquo;n&rsquo;cheese.

&ldquo;I believe U of M&rsquo;s mascot is a GOPHER,&rdquo; Kim said.

&ldquo;You would know,&rdquo; Mai commented.

&ldquo;Who would know what?&rdquo; Mark asked when he and Yaya settled their trays on the table; Nadech slid over to make room for Yaya.

&ldquo;How come I didn&rsquo;t see the mac&rsquo;n&rsquo;cheese?&rdquo; Yaya wondered, seeing his tray.

&ldquo;You can have it,&rdquo; Nadech offered and placed the plate in front of her before she could refuse. &ldquo;I just got it because everyone else did,&rdquo; he smiled sheepishly, not quite used to the American food yet.


&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just a friend,&rdquo; Kim said in response to Mai telling the table that one of their high school classmates who attends the University of Minnesota had a crush on Kim and was currently still keeping in touch with her via Facebook.

&ldquo;Girl, get &lsquo;em while you can,&rdquo; Mark said almost incoherently as he stuffed his mouth with pizza. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t let your assets go to waste.&rdquo;

Kim scoffed. &ldquo;Mind your own business.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Just trying to help. You got bags under your eyes. Oh!&rdquo; he snapped his fingers, &ldquo;I got some eye cream, I&rsquo;ll lend to you.&rdquo; He slurped some soda.

&ldquo;Sad that you use eye cream,&rdquo; she said.

&ldquo;Hey, why do girls discriminate when guys take care of their skin, yet they expect the perfect looking guy. Am I right?!&rdquo; Mark raised a chorus of consensus from the guys, giving a nod of triumph in Kim&rsquo;s direction.

&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t discriminate,&rdquo; Yaya refuted.

&ldquo;Yeah, I don&rsquo;t care how much makeup you wear,&rdquo; Mai joked to Nadech, who scrunched his nose back at her. &ldquo;Just as long as you don&rsquo;t take forever getting ready.&rdquo; She and Nadech started attacking each other with rolled up balls of napkins, while Om secretly stole glances of envy.

&ldquo;Will you guys stop it,&rdquo; Kim growled when either one of them sent a napkin at her face.

&ldquo;Ok, sheesh,&rdquo; Mai stuck her straw in her mouth, &ldquo;you really do have constipation huh?&rdquo;

&ldquo;W-WHAT?!&rdquo; Kim&rsquo;s jaw dropped. She rounded on Mark, who was the root of all her agony.

Mai shrugged. &ldquo;I heard you and Mark last night&hellip;&rdquo;

Friday approached with the anticipated opening hockey game between Lawrence and U of M.

&ldquo;Whoooo!&rdquo; the group of classmates and friends cheered in the stands behind the rink&rsquo;s glass wall while their players slid out onto the ice. Number 13 and Number 06, Aum and Om respectively, circled the rink with their team to thunderous applause.

Om scanned the crowd and noticed the bright school colors sported by his friends. He caught Mai&rsquo;s face, smiling with excitement and waving at him. A grin lifted his lips behind his mask.

&ldquo;Holy sh*t!&rdquo; Mario exclaimed in horror and thrill combined when the puck whipped at his head, though he was protected by the glass.

It was after half-time now, and Lawrence was leading by a point.

&ldquo;Augh! Noooo!&rdquo; came a collective groan from Lawrence&rsquo;s side when the Gopher team was able to put in two more goals, putting them in the lead. Then just as fast, #4 crossed and passed the puck to #6 who passed it to #13 who struck the puck with one fluid move so fast that it was in the goal before anyone could react, followed by a cheer.

Om flew past Aum with a quick high five. They all settled to the next match, where Lawrence gained another point from one of their senior players, putting the current score at a tie.

&ldquo;Come on, come on, come on, come on&hellip;&rdquo; Yaya repeated with the suspense of the tied scores and the well-matched skills of both teams. Nadech glanced down at her nervousness with amusement, her scarf wrapped around her neck like a fuzzy layered snake. He nudged her.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not like you&rsquo;re the one playing.&rdquo;

She gave him a pout before focusing back on the game.

&ldquo;This is going to be a close one,&rdquo; Pope muttered, also as anxious about the outcome as the others.

&ldquo;Damn, who knew hockey could be this intense? No wonder people like coming to watch it,&rdquo; Mario said in awe as two opposing players slammed into each other right in front of him. &ldquo;WHOA!&rdquo; he shouted, jumping up in down.

&ldquo;Gawd you&rsquo;re like a crazy monkey!&rdquo; Taew made a face of distaste.

He whipped his head to face her, then lowered his head and reached for hair.

&ldquo;What the hell are you doing?&rdquo; she asked.

&ldquo;Being a monkey like you said.&rdquo;

She scoffed. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re ridic-&ldquo;

&ldquo;Look! You have lice! Let me help you get it.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Eek! I do NOT have lice! Stupid monkey!&rdquo; She slapped his hands from her hair while he continued to bug her by tugging at the locks of her hair. &ldquo;Stop it. Urgh!&rdquo;

They froze and looked up when they heard the crowd go up in a roar of victory, just in time to see Om rip off his protective mask and wave while his teammates skated fast towards him to celebrate the winning shot he&rsquo;d made. The game was over.

Om slipped down the stairs away from the celebratory party in Great&rsquo;s room for him and the hockey team. Once outside he heard footsteps follow him and turned around, expecting one of his friends was out to get him to go back in. But to his relief, it was Mai.

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re not joining the party?&rdquo; she asked.

&ldquo;Nah, they&rsquo;d force to take a shot. But we have to get up early to head for another game out of state tomorrow.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Aaah,&rdquo; she nodded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll keep you hidden then.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What-&ldquo; he felt her tug him away. They walked around Clark hall to the back, past the parking lot and towards the path beside the river. The dim lamps and the stars lit their way.

Mai glanced over at him and smiled sheepishly, &ldquo;I look weird huh? Yaya was playing with her makeup and decided to experiment on me.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You look&hellip;&rdquo; he gave a suppressed smile, trying not to laugh, not because she looked funny with her heavy eye-shadow and pink lips, but because he found her pretty all the time, and didn&rsquo;t want her to think otherwise, &ldquo;You look wonderful tonight.&rdquo;

Secretly pleased, she looked away to the stars. &ldquo;That reminds me of Eric Clapton&rsquo;s song.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ah, yes.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Congrats,&rdquo; she smiled, &ldquo;on the game. You were amazing out there.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Thanks.&rdquo; She had no idea how her words gave him a rush, so that if he wasn&rsquo;t careful his heart might get swept away by the river. &ldquo;And thanks for coming out to watch.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t miss a hockey game. Good thing you didn&rsquo;t make me regret coming to Lawrence. Even though I&rsquo;m not physically playing, I enjoyed it just as much.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Shall we have our own one-to-one match in the future?&rdquo;

She beamed at the idea of a competition. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re on. Don&rsquo;t jump into the river when I beat you.&rdquo;

He chuckled at her proclaimed confidence. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll see who&rsquo;s jumping into rivers when the time comes.&rdquo;

They slowed when sensing that there were people ahead of them. Peering into the semi-darkness, Om and Mai worked out the outline of a couple with their eyes. Om side-glanced in awkwardness. Mai was momentarily speechless, feeling her ears warm up. The couple ahead of them was making out like no tomorrow, unaware of the embarrassed un-couple that had accidentally glimpsed them.

Simultaneously, Mai and Om turned around and started walking back, this time in silence. She peeked up at him, but he was determinedly not looking at her, though his male mind was already conjuring up images of the two of THEM alone in a passionate embrace. He coughed himself into reality.


&ldquo;We should head in now, huh? Getting chilly out here.&rdquo; She cleared her throat and quickened her steps. &ldquo;Night,&rdquo; she bid him stiffly before hurrying up the stairs to her room.

------Author's note

Cheering on the Hockey Champ!

"Daaay-um! I need to re-stock my eye cream"

cr: Mark's IG; DKC and original owners

*Note: These captions are made up by me! I don't own any of the images!


You're Average Person :)
awwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!! :woot2: :woot2: I love Om and Mai...hahahha I say that too much and will probably say it it on every chapter hahahahahah....oh geesh, Om and his imagination.....ooh makes me wonder will he ever share a passionate kiss like the couple hima nd Mai saw with her in the future :cloud9:

:lolyup: :lolyup: oh gosh Taew and Mario are such dorks...they do have so many things in common and yet they dont know hahahah

I love Mai and Nadech's friendship...I can picture Om eyeing them hahahah

Thanks again Jjinx...anticipated for the next chapter!


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?

"You'll miss me in this chapter!"

Chapter 7

&ldquo;Damn! I think I just failed that exam,&rdquo; Pope moaned.

&ldquo;Ready?&rdquo; Laughter echoed through the halls as Om and Pope came in from class.

&ldquo;Careful, you guys might choke,&rdquo; Beau warned.

&ldquo;Ha! Beat that! Nine in a row,&rdquo; Aum declared.

&ldquo;What is this?&rdquo; Pope asked.

&ldquo;The stores have set up their Halloween candies for weeks already so we were being good consumers and bought half the shelves . And now we&rsquo;re competing who can catch the most candy in their mouth in a row. Help yourselves,&rdquo; Beau gestured to the table full of sweets.

&ldquo;Nine&hellip;ten! Whoo!&rdquo; Mai high-fived Nadech as he beat the highest score.

&ldquo;Pfftt, that&rsquo;s nothing.&rdquo; Mark grabbed a handful of M&Ms, but failed after his third toss and conceded to shove the rest in his mouth in defeat.

Om was reaching for a Twix bar and watched Mai throwing skittles up for Nadech to eat.

&ldquo;Wow, teamwork. That could be you right there,&rdquo; Pope whispered mischievously to Om. He and Great were united in teasing Om about his crush for Mai.

&ldquo;Shut up.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Om!&rdquo; Mai bounded over. &ldquo;Guess what this is!&rdquo; She held up a model of three marshmallows stuck on two toothpicks.

He grinned, &ldquo;H2O?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Correct! Your reward!&rdquo; She gave it to him. &ldquo;I was thinking we could use these to study for the next exam.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Good idea!&rdquo;

Mai&rsquo;s eyes fell on their hands that still held her water molecule model, fingers touching, and she slowly lifted her hand away. &ldquo;Um, kay, then, I&rsquo;ll see you in a bit. Mark, let&rsquo;s go philosophize.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Philoso-sss-ff-phil&hellip;what?&rdquo; Mark asked, pocketing some candy bars to eat in the philosophy class that he found rather boring.

Mark yawned, distorting his face and scrunching his eyes.

&ldquo;Arrrgh, are you kidding me?&rdquo; Mario grumbled, surrounded by the rest of Clark Hall&rsquo;s residents who had unfortunately been dragged from their beds&mdash;those who were sleeping anyway, instead of up late with homework or games&mdash;due to the fire alarm.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to kill the that thought it was funny to smoke in the commons,&rdquo; Taecyeon mumbled, and high-fived an agreeing Nadech, who stretched his jaw in a yawn.

He sleepily hip-bumped Mai, who hip-bumped Yaya, who passed both hip-bump and yawn to Kim, who glared at Mark.

Sensing her hostility, he turned with half-closed eyes. &ldquo;What?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Your yawn is infecting the rest of us,&rdquo; she accused.

&ldquo;Why does it have to be one of the nights I&rsquo;m not on duty and able to sleep early?&rdquo; Casey groaned.

&ldquo;Tell me about it,&rdquo; Om tilted his head to crack his neck.

&ldquo;At times like these, I like to close my eyes and just be thankful that at least I&rsquo;m not Om.&rdquo;

Om side-glanced Great. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s that supposed to mean?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ah, let me count the ways I&rsquo;m thankful I&rsquo;m not you.&rdquo; Great looked up at the black sky dotted with tiny specks of light with a drowsy smile, &ldquo;One, you&rsquo;re too afraid to tell the girl you like that you like her. Two, said girl has a crush on another guy. Three, she also has a BFF who&rsquo;s male and spends way more time with him than you could ever hope for with guts like yours. And&hellip;&rdquo; he took a breath, &ldquo;you play a sport where just moving your feet could end you up with broken bones.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Except I can skate,&rdquo; Om reminded him.

&ldquo;Small comfort. You still got like ten guys swinging sticks at you.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So who do you like?&rdquo; Mark asked, as he had overheard.

Great received a kick from Om.

&ldquo;Oh my god, he&rsquo;s not going to tell anyone,&rdquo; Great rolled his eyes. &ldquo;Actually, if you can&rsquo;t tell the obvious already, you don&rsquo;t deserve to know,&rdquo; he told Mark.

Mark wrinkled his nose at the insult.


Om looked over and quickly glanced back to the guys. &ldquo;Hey Mai.&rdquo; God I hope she didn&rsquo;t hear anything, he prayed. &ldquo;Crazy huh?&rdquo;

She smiled. &ldquo;How you holding up?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Hey, what&rsquo;s college without the nightlife?&rdquo; They snickered quietly. She rubbed her arms as the slight chill of the October wind greeted them.

Yaya stretched and fell onto her bottom bunk. Looking over at Mai climbing up to the top, she asked, &ldquo;Whose sweater are you wearing?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Hm? Oh, shoot I forgot to give it back to Om.&rdquo; Too sleepy to worry, she snuggled under the warmth of Om&rsquo;s black fleece sweater, drifting off with a smile.

&ldquo;What are you doing?&rdquo; Mario asked Mark, who was staring intently at Om while the guys were at the gym.


&ldquo;Oh! Are you trying to read their minds?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;What? No,&rdquo; Mark looked at him weird. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m trying to find out who Om likes. Great said it was obvious and I&rsquo;m lame to not see it, so I&rsquo;m going to find out for myself.&rdquo;

Mario looked back to the court where Om, Nadech, Great and Pope were playing basketball. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it pretty obvious?&rdquo;

Mark frowned. &ldquo;Do YOU know who it is?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I have my suspicions. But just in case&hellip;I&rsquo;ll join your mystery solving game too.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I guess.&rdquo;

Mario whipped out his iPad. &ldquo;I bet there are clues in this.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What, you spy on him with your iPad?&rdquo;

&ldquo;No, I&rsquo;m talking about Facebook. There might be pictures that give him away.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ooo, good one.&rdquo;

Before they could log on and creep on Om&rsquo;s photos&hellip;

&ldquo;AUGH! Watch where you&rsquo;re throwing that if you break my baby I&rsquo;ll make you pay!&rdquo; Mario bellowed.

&ldquo;Sorry, geeze,&rdquo; Great said with hands up. &ldquo;Get off that thing and play some ball.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I suck at basketball. I&rsquo;m calling Kim to see if the girls are still joining us for volleyball.&rdquo; From the corner of his eye, Mario noticed Om stop dribbling the ball and look up with interest. This gave him an idea. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s see&hellip;Kim might be busy.&rdquo; He saw Om resume shooting hoops, not looking disappointed or reacting conspicuously much. &ldquo;&hellip;maybe Min&hellip;&rdquo; Om didn&rsquo;t miss a single basket

&ldquo;&hellip;or Yaya&hellip;&rdquo;


&ldquo;&hellip;I&rsquo;ll call Mai&hellip;&rdquo;


Giving a silent evil laugh, Mario suddenly shouted, &ldquo;Is that Mai over there?!&rdquo;

Om&rsquo;s head whipped around.

&ldquo;Oh it&rsquo;s just some white girl.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You wanna go to the gym? I told Mario and Great we&rsquo;d meet them and the other girls there.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah, just let me change first.&rdquo; Kim and Mai waited as Yaya threw on a pair of sweatpants.

&ldquo;Anyone seen Margie?&rdquo; Yaya asked.

&ldquo;Beau said she was over in the Art building.&rdquo;

&ldquo;That girl eats, sleeps, and breathes art,&rdquo; Kim said.

&ldquo;Well if I had her talent, I&rsquo;d be just as dedicated. I bet she&rsquo;ll become a super famous artist in the future,&rdquo; Yaya shivered against the wind.

&ldquo;Brr, it&rsquo;s cold out here.&rdquo; Mai shoved her hands in her pocket.

&ldquo;You weren&rsquo;t complaining when we were at the hockey game watching Om play,&rdquo; Kim said.

&ldquo;Well yeah, we were inside&hellip;&rdquo;

Yaya and Kim exchanged exasperated looks.

&ldquo;Do you really not like him even a little?&rdquo; They waited.

&ldquo;Hello, Mai? Don&rsquo;t try to avoid the question. You haven&rsquo;t learned to turn invisible yet.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh! I thought Kim was asking YOU and I was waiting to hear who you had a crush on and planning a whole scolding for you for not telling me,&rdquo; Mai laughed.

Yaya face-palmed herself. &ldquo;Well she was asking you.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh&hellip;&rdquo; she made a face at them. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t rush me. Om&rsquo;s a really good friend and I haven&rsquo;t gotten any impression from him that he&rsquo;s looking for anything more.&rdquo; Not true, she&rsquo;d caught him looking at her numerous times while they did homework together, which both pleased and stumped her. If he wasn&rsquo;t giving any more clues than that, Mai honestly didn&rsquo;t know how to react. &ldquo;Can&rsquo;t I just kind of like him and just&hellip;be friends?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Case closed.&rdquo; Mario dusted his hands proudly.

&ldquo;What case?&rdquo; Mark asked.

&ldquo;I know who Om likes.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What? How?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Didn&rsquo;t you notice the way he reacted when I was talking about the girls?&rdquo;

Mark thought. &ldquo;Ooooh!&rdquo; He snapped his fingers. &ldquo;When you pointed to the white girl and said &lsquo;Is that Mai&rsquo;&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh huh.&rdquo;

&ldquo;And he looked over&hellip;&rdquo;


&ldquo;So he likes that white girl!&rdquo; Mark scoffed. &ldquo;Man that was easy.&rdquo;

Mario looked at him with pity. &ldquo;Great was right. You&rsquo;re hopeless. HOMYGOSH ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Relax O,&rdquo; Kim laughed, retrieving the volleyball that just missed Mario&rsquo;s head.

&ldquo;You just spiked that thing at me! I&rsquo;m telling you, this nose took God six days to perfect and I refuse to let you mangle it!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Will you stop whining and get over here?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Why do ya&rsquo;ll keep calling me &lsquo;O&rsquo;?&rdquo; he demanded upon reaching them. &ldquo;My name&rsquo;s not even that long and you guys are so lazy you have to shorten it even more?&rdquo; Because of the first few days when Mario kept over-enunciating his name, his friends had gotten exasperated and began addressing him by that third syllable he found so important.

&ldquo;It was Margie&rsquo;s idea.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I know, which makes it even more ridiculous,&rdquo; he rolled his eyes, thinking of his friend who was more like a sister, who was at the moment most likely working in one of the art studios on one of her paintings. &ldquo;By the way, are you going to call that guy back?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I dunno,&rdquo; she said, bumping the volleyball up and down. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not really interested in him.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So Kent still has a chance? Cause he&rsquo;s been bugging me about you.&rdquo;

They arranged themselves into teams and began a volleyball game.

&ldquo;I got your back,&rdquo; Mai waved to Om, who was in front of her on their side of the volleyball net. He smiled back at her. Yaya and Kim shared smug looks, taking note of this &lsquo;friendly&rsquo; interaction.

Mario looked at the other side of the net where Om had his head turned away. His evil genius sparked for a second and shouted, &ldquo;Here we go!&rdquo; He tossed up the ball and served it hard over the net.

Everyone&rsquo;s mouth opened wide in a circle shape when they saw where he&rsquo;d sent the ball.

&ldquo;Oh my gosh, are you ok?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Not again O!&rdquo;

Mario put on a guilty face, &ldquo;Sorry, guess I should practice more.&rdquo;

Om grimaced, both from the sharp pain and from embarrassment. The ball had sailed over the net right at his head while he was, of course, not paying attention due to the young lady in close proximity behind him.

&ldquo;Dude, you ok?&rdquo;

They had surrounded him as Mai helped him up. He laughed meekly, &ldquo;Yeah guys, I&rsquo;m fine. No biggie.&rdquo; Because he was wallowing in embarrassment, making him look distracted, Mai grew concerned.

&ldquo;Are you sure? Here,&rdquo; he led him off the court, &ldquo;You guys keep playing,&rdquo; she called over. Great took a step towards them but was pulled back by Kim.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really fine,&rdquo; he murmured, growing less sheepish but more self-conscious. Mai was sitting quite close, thigh touching his, peering quite close, her hair brushing innocently against his bare arm, and lips also hovering pink and soft quite close; all he had to do was drop his head a mere two inches and they&rsquo;d be&hellip;

She sat up straight. &ldquo;Good then. Our Chemistry homework is due at the end of the week and I need as much help as possible, so I can&rsquo;t have your brain cells getting knocked all over the place.&rdquo;

&ldquo;&hellip;Yeah&hellip;chem&hellip;cells&hellip;&rdquo; he said nonsensically.

She smiled at the noticeable blush creeping up his neck. The two sat there for the remainder of the time at the gym, undisturbed.

&ldquo;Please, I&rsquo;m a volleyball champion,&rdquo; Mario boasted. &ldquo;All of my mistakes are actually on purpose&hellip;&rdquo; He went over to get his water bottle.

&ldquo;Liar, liar, pants on fire,&rdquo; Yaya chanted.

Nadech peered closely at the retreating Mario. &ldquo;Pants on fire?&rdquo;

She giggled. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just an idiom. We learned it as little kids.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ah.&rdquo; He shot at the hoops, the ball rebounded and she caught it. They began playing Around the World when Mario got back.

They were resting while Kim and Great bumped the volleyball back and forth.

&ldquo;Wow, you&rsquo;re pretty good at this,&rdquo; he marveled.

&ldquo;I played for seven years,&rdquo; she informed, accurately sending the ball to him.

He caught it and slid in a dance-step over to her, handing over a water bottle. They seated themselves on the floor. He brought up hearing her talking to Mario about Kent. &ldquo;So. You&rsquo;ve dated before too, right?&rdquo;

She nodded. &ldquo;I had a boyfriend in high school who I was with for three years.&rdquo;

He raised his brow. &ldquo;And what happened? I mean, if you don&rsquo;t mind sharing.&rdquo;

She shook her head. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t mind. Basically&hellip;I broke up with him because I didn&rsquo;t want a long-distance relationship. I&rsquo;m here and he&rsquo;s there and it was just not something I want in my life when I&rsquo;m going through this whole transition of college and adult stuff.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I see. It must have been hard huh? Three years is a long time.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah. It was&hellip;different from all those junior high crushes, you know? And I really really liked him but I decided I didn&rsquo;t want the emotional roller coaster of having someone so far away.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I understand&hellip;&rdquo;

Kim studied his face. He was usually very care-free and handsomely full of laughter. But right now, he appeared brooding and solemn, as if he too had been a part of her decision. &ldquo;What about you? I see you with a few different girls here and there. Any of them serious?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nah. Which might sound bad, but I mostly consider them friends.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So you&rsquo;re not looking for something long-term?&rdquo; she probed a little. Though they were becoming friends, she admitted, she wouldn&rsquo;t mind getting to know him on the level of getting into a relationship.

He took a deep breath. &ldquo;I dunno. Honestly, I feel like sometimes I have no control over this and if it happens&mdash;if I meet the &lsquo;serious one&rsquo; then it will happen without me knowing. So really, at this point, I&rsquo;m not looking for anything. If I feel attracted to someone, I guess I&rsquo;ll just give it a shot.&rdquo;

Their eyes found each other and they smiled.

&ldquo;Hey Great, Jerry and the guys over there are starting a new game. You in?&rdquo; Pope came up and asked.

He glanced at Kim. &ldquo;No, I&rsquo;m good.&rdquo;

Margie smiled, reading her text from Yaya: We&rsquo;re all missing you over here!

She was working on her still-life painting that was due in three days. As an artist, Margie often felt that her work was never complete, or could be worked on more to improve, even though to the eyes of others, the paintings or drawings were already seemingly perfect&mdash;she would prove them wrong by finishing with something even better. At the moment, she was repainting over a section of the canvas where she felt the lighting was off.

Squeezing her paint bottles on the palette, Margie startled when she heard something.

&ldquo;Oh, I&rsquo;m sorry, I didn&rsquo;t mean to scare you.&rdquo; It was Jacob, a hispanic boy with bronze skin and glasses over his eyes, who was in her painting class. They had talked here and there a few times, but mostly in short sentences that didn&rsquo;t stretch out to actual discussions. Margie was still quite shy with the people in her class, especially the guys.

&ldquo;Hi,&rdquo; she said with a muted smile. She wasn&rsquo;t the best when it came to initiating conversations with people she didn&rsquo;t know well, so she simply greeted him and then fell silent, as usual.

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re still working on the still-life?&rdquo; he took a peek. &ldquo;Wow, it&rsquo;s amazing.&rdquo;

Blushing, she replied, &ldquo;Thank you. How&rsquo;s yours coming along?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Alright. I just need to do some touch ups.&rdquo;

The lapsed into silence as they continued to work.

------Author's Note

A happy Om

"God's masterpiece: Mar-to the-Ee-to the-Oh!"


You're Average Person :)
OMG...this whole line just cracks me up! :loool: :loool:

&ldquo;Case closed.&rdquo; Mario dusted his hands proudly.

&ldquo;What case?&rdquo; Mark asked.

&ldquo;I know who Om likes.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What? How?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Didn&rsquo;t you notice the way he reacted when I was talking about the girls?&rdquo;

Mark thought. &ldquo;Ooooh!&rdquo; He snapped his fingers. &ldquo;When you pointed to the white girl and said &lsquo;Is that Mai&rsquo;&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh huh.&rdquo;

&ldquo;And he looked over&hellip;&rdquo;


&ldquo;So he likes that white girl!&rdquo; Mark scoffed. &ldquo;Man that was easy.&rdquo;


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?
Chapter 8

&ldquo;&hellip;cannot wait for the Harry Potter premiere!&rdquo;

Yaya made her way over to the front desk where Nadech and Mai were, and leaped into their conversation. &ldquo;Are you almost off work?&rdquo;

Mai nodded. &ldquo;Ten more minutes.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nadech, want to help me sort out some things for the party?&rdquo; She, Beau and Kim had just gotten back from shopping for some necessities for their dorm&rsquo;s Halloween party to be held tomorrow evening.

&ldquo;Sure, just a sec&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;We better hurry too. If we don&rsquo;t get everything in for O in time, he&rsquo;s going to go crazy on us.&rdquo; Mario was in charge of the committee planning and decorating the downstairs lounge for their party. &ldquo;Come on, hurry.&rdquo; She tugged at his arm to force him away from the desk area and down the stairs.

Once downstairs where all the materials were laid out and already basically in order, Nadech squinted a suspicious eye at her. &ldquo;Why do you keep dragging me down here? Do you&hellip;like me?&rdquo;

Yaya&rsquo;s jaw dropped. &ldquo;W-wha&hellip;&rdquo; she spluttered a half-laugh at his out-of-nowhere interrogation.

He crossed his arms. &ldquo;I mean, I was about to get annoyed but then, I thought maybe you wanted to spend time with me or something.&rdquo; He flashed her a broad grin. &ldquo;So, do you?&rdquo;

She was not in the least pleased by the conclusion he had reached. &ldquo;Are you stupid? The reason I keep dragging you down here is because you keep hanging out with Mai when Om&rsquo;s around.&rdquo;


&ldquo;So!&rdquo; she looked at him with a &lsquo;are you slow&rsquo; expression, &ldquo;They like each other.&rdquo;


&ldquo;Wh-why do you keep getting in their way?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not getting in their way. I&rsquo;m enjoying a decent conversation with them&mdash;at least, until you come and interrupt.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well if you stick around, how are they supposed to have alone time?&rdquo;

He held up a hand. &ldquo;I think you have things wrong. First of all, when they&rsquo;re at the front desk, they&rsquo;re at WORK. What are you expecting, for them to make out like monkeys?&rdquo;

She wrinkled her nose, realizing he was right.

&ldquo;And I only hang out there during the evenings when I know there aren&rsquo;t people coming in and out of the building asking questions at the front desk as much as in the mornings. Second of all, they don&rsquo;t mind having me there because we&rsquo;re all FRIENDS. Third, I happen to be Mai&rsquo;s closest friend and so it doesn&rsquo;t matter if I get in her way with a boy because any fool who wants to date her is going to have to put up with me.&rdquo;

They faced each other, neither giving in, though Yaya knew she&rsquo;d been rather pushy with him about the whole matter.

&ldquo;I&hellip;guess you&rsquo;re right,&rdquo; she reluctantly conceded. &ldquo;But still&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, you still haven&rsquo;t answered my question. Do you like me?&rdquo;

She had completely forgotten this inquiry but now that he brought it back up, for some reason, Yaya found herself unable to give an instant denial, which surprised her. Nadech was obviously a nice guy and she liked being around him from the start. Yet, his question had suddenly posed a whole new realm of feelings she wasn&rsquo;t sure how to deal with. So she resorted to the elementary methods of denial. &ldquo;Puh-leeze, who would like you?&rdquo; she said haughtily.

He seemed taken aback, to her satisfaction. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re definitely not the kind of guy that girls like.&rdquo; That wasn&rsquo;t true, Yaya knew it. Nadech was considerate and mature but she was growing more and more shy as she kept up her argument for not liking him&mdash;why she should be so opposed to a simple &lsquo;No, I don&rsquo;t like you&rsquo; was lost at the moment.

&ldquo;What do you mean?&rdquo; Nadech didn&rsquo;t realize he would have anything wrong with himself to the point that she should be protesting so much.

&ldquo;I mean, you&rsquo;re too&hellip;nice.&rdquo;

They exchanged glances.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m too nice?&rdquo; he repeated wryly.

She nodded. &ldquo;Girls find that overbearing and, um, annoying. You know, we like&hellip;the bad boy type.&rdquo;

He looked at her skeptically.

&ldquo;Yaya! Hurry or we&rsquo;re starting the episode without you and you&rsquo;ll miss out on Prince Pupen!&rdquo;

&ldquo;O-ok!&rdquo; She called back up to Kim. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll&hellip;I&rsquo;ll be right up.&rdquo; She swiftly gathered all her things and skipped up the stairs, leaving a contemplative Nadech by himself.

The next day, Kim was just setting her plate of breakfast scrambled eggs and bagel down when she caught Yaya&rsquo;s eyes widen suddenly. She turned and they both stared openly. What might this shocking sight be? It was Mark and Nadech decked out in identical black leather jackets and with their hair gelled back and aviator sunglasses covering their eyes.

&ldquo;What the heck are they thinking?&rdquo;

The two guys ambled confidently up to their table and gave smirks, obviously aware that they&rsquo;d caught the girls&rsquo; attention.

&ldquo;What&rsquo;s with the get-up?&rdquo; Kim asked. &ldquo;The costume party is TONIGHT, just so you know.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Or is this your new gangster style?&rdquo; Yaya asked, almost finding their appearances too funny to laugh at.

&ldquo;My man Nadech sought my help on the art of womanizing and so I gave him my knowledge.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Of course, you&rsquo;re the one who came up with this ridiculous idea. And you just had to bring Nadech into humiliation with you,&rdquo; Kim shook her head, starting to eat.

Mark sat next to her, leaning on an elbow. &ldquo;As if you and every girl in this room aren&rsquo;t totally digging us right now.&rdquo;

&ldquo;How about I dig you a hole to save you some face&hellip;if there&rsquo;s anything left to salvage,&rdquo; she rolled her eyes, seeing that most of the people weren&rsquo;t even paying attention to Mark&rsquo;s supposedly brilliant womanizing image&mdash;college students had plenty variety of fashion, from the prep, to the jock, to the adventurous souls that sought out bold clothes that could give Lady Gaga a run for her money; so even this dark duo didn&rsquo;t make much of a sensation. Kim caught Mario&rsquo;s eye and waved him over but he held up a hand to hide the side of his face, indicating he was pretending not to know the people at her table due to Mark&rsquo;s and Nadech&rsquo;s off-handed fashion, heading to class with Margie while Mai and Taew laughed heartily at the guys.

&ldquo;Hey!&rdquo; Nadech looked up when his sunglasses were stolen off.

&ldquo;Nadech, you&rsquo;re inside,&rdquo; Mai said, folding the aviators and setting them down. &ldquo;People will think you&rsquo;re weird.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nuh-uh, this is what bad boys wear,&rdquo; he softly argued but she gave a mother-like sharp glance.

Oh my gosh, Yaya thought silently. He must have thought over what she had said yesterday and made the mistake of consulting with Mark! Then she felt the laughter begin to bubble inside her chest and burst out. The others looked at her until she suppressed her giggles. &ldquo;Hem,&rdquo; she cleared her throat and gave Nadech a nod of approval, though he was looking at her suspiciously.

&ldquo;Pope told me about this neighborhood that gives candy to college trick-or-treaters,&rdquo; Mark said, biting into his back slices. &ldquo;You guys wanna go later tonight?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Aren&rsquo;t we too old to trick-or-treat?&rdquo; Taew commented.

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re never too old for free candy,&rdquo; Yaya, Mai, and Mark replied in unity.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m in,&rdquo; Mai said, &ldquo;Besides, Nadech&rsquo;s never gone before so it&rsquo;ll be even more fun.&rdquo;

Mark looked appalled, &ldquo;You&rsquo;ve never trick-or-treated? Man, where you been living?&rdquo;

&ldquo;In Thailand.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, yeah.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But we have a Costume party tonight, remember?&rdquo; Taew pointed out.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be back in time, it doesn&rsquo;t start &lsquo;til nine.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re not even going to help set up?&rdquo;

&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll help before we go&rdquo; Mark waved impatiently. &ldquo;That is, if O will let us. He&rsquo;s such a dictator, I think only Margie has patience for him.&rdquo; It was true; anyone in the Party Committee had experienced first-hand how tyrannical Mario was, so that only the gentle Margie was able to influence his decision.

Mark&rsquo;s eyes gleamed with excitement. &ldquo;At first I was going to be Iron Man, but I had to break the guys&rsquo; group costume idea because I found a cool King costume, so be ready to serve me tonight, my loyal subjects.&rdquo;

&ldquo;King of dorks?&rdquo; Kim said.

He snapped his eyes in her direction. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re just jealous of my hotness.&rdquo;

A split second of silence, then&hellip;


&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; he licked his fingertip and touched it to his forearm with a &ldquo;Sss. Hot.&rdquo;

She gaped, then composed herself and came up with a mischievous idea. &ldquo;Ok, if you&rsquo;re so confident then you should be able to get five girls by the end of the day.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ha, I could get ten,&rdquo; he smirked.

She scoffed, &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll go easy on you and make it five. You win and I&rsquo;ll&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Be my slave for tonight&rsquo;s trick-or-treating.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Deal. If you lose, you&rsquo;re wearing my princess costume.&rdquo;


Nadech and Yaya were walking to their English class together. Just before they reached the entrance, Nadech stopped abruptly and turned to her. &ldquo;Open the door for me,&rdquo; he commanded.
She hid a bemused smile. He was continuing what he perceived to be a &lsquo;bad boy&rsquo; act, apparently.

&ldquo;Oh, from now on, don&rsquo;t ask me about the homework, because I&rsquo;m not going to help or discuss it with you. In fact, I won&rsquo;t be doing my homework at all,&rdquo; Nadech strutted a little ahead of her.


&ldquo;No, are you kidding?&rdquo; he looked over his shoulder at her like she was silly, &ldquo;I happen to want a career and future life.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Even if it means not having girls attracted to you?&rdquo; she teased.

He sighed and ruffled his hair so that it fell out of shape, though the wind-swept look happened to suit his boyish features more. &ldquo;Guess I&rsquo;m not cut out for this kind of bad boy life. But you know what?&rdquo; he eyed her seriously, &ldquo;I know that the girl who I&rsquo;m destined to be with will appreciate me for who I am, even if I&rsquo;m not as cool as everyone else. And no matter what is popular, I will not be mean to her just to be like everyone else, I will always do what she wants and will always put her interests and feelings first. I hope you find your bad boy some day.&rdquo;

Yaya watched him stride away down the hall, struck with a sudden respect for his individuality and self-acceptance, even though she hadn&rsquo;t been serious. She wasn&rsquo;t sure what it was she ate that morning but her stomach felt fluttery all of a sudden.

&ldquo;OMAI? No&hellip;Omm&hellip;Ommmmmm&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Are you meditating up there?&rdquo; Beau asked Mario as he stood on a ladder while taping up balloons.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m trying to create a couple name,&rdquo; he sighed with frustration. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s so hard?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what she said,&rdquo; Casey snickered while helping set up the tables.

&ldquo;A couple name for whom?&rdquo; Beau asked again.

&ldquo;For Mai and Om.&rdquo;

Beau looked up in shock, &ldquo;Are they dating?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Not yet,&rdquo; Mario smirked, &ldquo;But soon&hellip;soon&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Interesting&hellip;I always do see them around each other a lot. But whenever I or the girls ask her, she&rsquo;s always like &lsquo;He&rsquo;s just a friend&rsquo; or &lsquo;He&rsquo;s just a study buddy.&rsquo;&rdquo;

Mario tsked, &ldquo;So many shades of gray in their relationship&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;But if anything, I would have thought she and Nadech might start dating, I mean, childhood friends and everything, you know?&rdquo;

He rubbed his chin, &ldquo;Yes, that was a possibility in my mind too, but now, I&rsquo;m sure Mai and Om will get together.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Did you know she had a crush on Weir?&rdquo; Beau shrugged her shoulders shyly, &ldquo;So did I.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Gosh, even Margie admitted to me that she gets shy around Weir,&rdquo; Mario rolled his eyes, &ldquo;Does every freshman girl have a crush on him?&rdquo;

&ldquo;He&rsquo;s cute and one of those really approachable guys. So who do you think will become a couple next?&rdquo;

He climbed down the ladder. &ldquo;Well, Kim and Great have good chemistry. Their couple name would be&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;GRIM,&rdquo; Beau suggested, then shook her head with him. &ldquo;Sounds too&hellip;grim.&rdquo;

Kim sneezed. Margie&rsquo;s forehead was dented with a gentle frown. &ldquo;Kim, I thought you were going to get ready in your costume.&rdquo;

Kim smirked, &ldquo;That won&rsquo;t be necessary. Mark will be donning the Princess outfit tonight.&rdquo;

Margie gasped, &ldquo;What do you mean?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, you didn&rsquo;t hear our bet?&rdquo; she cackled, &ldquo;he was being all arrogant so I said if he couldn&rsquo;t catch five girls by tonight, he&rsquo;d have to go trick-or-treating in my costume.&rdquo; She looked at her watch. &ldquo;And his time is almost up. Ah, I should go get my camera so I can capture this forever!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Um,&rdquo; Margie tugged on her, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not so sure about that.&rdquo; She pointed over Kim&rsquo;s shoulder at the front of Clark Hall.

Kim turned around and froze in astonishment. There on the steps leading up to their dorm was Mark surrounded by five women, all of whom were very pretty and clad in Wonder Women costumes.

&ldquo;Do you see what I see?&rdquo; Kim asked, just to make sure. But she didn&rsquo;t have to ask, because just then Mark noticed her presence and stood straight with arms crossed and a smirk of triumph aimed at her. He bounded down the steps towards her, quirking a brow.

&ldquo;Ready to be my slave?&rdquo;

&ldquo;How&hellip;how did you get them to come!?&rdquo;

He called over to the ladies. &ldquo;Sun, Yoobin, Yenny, Sohee, Lim!&rdquo; They came down and surrounded him. &ldquo;These are my fellow trick-or-treating friends,&rdquo; Mark said with that incessant smirk.

So that was how he had attracted them. Kim couldn&rsquo;t believe she had lost the bet all due to his childish candy-loving ways.

&ldquo;Fine,&rdquo; she muttered.

The sun was setting behind the trees that framed the bottom of the sky. Margie entered the art building to quickly grab a set of paint brushes in her locker to use for some decorations for the party. Her skin prickled with an intuitive sense. Looking up, there was no one in the work room but her, yet she thought she had distinctively sensed the presence of another person. Hadn&rsquo;t there been footsteps outside the door just now?

Locking up her locker, Margie chided herself for being spooked simply because it was Halloween. She turned off the light and made her way back out of the Art building.

As she left, the door to the work room that she had not closed swung shut, and footsteps followed down the hallway.

Later when Kim and Mai came outside to join the guys, someone leaped out at them.


&ldquo;Augh!&rdquo; Kim kicked the masked person in the shin. The monster grunted in pain and hopped on his uninjured leg.

&ldquo;What the hell!&rdquo; Aum&rsquo;s face surfaced after he&rsquo;d ripped off his mask. &ldquo;That hurt!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Who told you to scare me!?&rdquo; she shouted back while Pope, Great and Om came out from the side of building laughing.

&ldquo;Good thing we let Aum test it out first,&rdquo; Great said. &ldquo;Are we all here?&rdquo; Everyone, including Mark&rsquo;s posse of girls headed off to trick-or-treat.

&ldquo;What are you supposed to be?&rdquo; Om asked Mai. She was dressed all in black, unlike the obvious costumes of Nadech, who was Superman, Aum with his monster mask, Yaya as a cat, Beau as Dorothy, and Pope, Great and Om himself in Three Musketeers outfits.

&ldquo;The girls and I were going to be princesses but all the costumes we found online were either too childish or too slutty.&rdquo; She shrugged, &ldquo;So, I&rsquo;m a shadow.&rdquo;


&ldquo;What? I know I&rsquo;m not that creative but&hellip;Oh, that reminds me,&rdquo; she looked up at him, &ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t returned your sweater yet.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Eh, keep it for now. I&rsquo;m not in a hurry.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Stop sulking. You&rsquo;re lucky I let you wear your costume instead of a paper bag as befitting a slave,&rdquo; Mark told Kim. &ldquo;It should be an honor to you.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ugh, just hurry up.&rdquo; She had planned on staying for the party but was now forced to endure the October chills. And unfortunately, Mark was not one tired of free candy fast. He kept going from one house to the next even when the Wonder Women had bid them good night and the rest of the group said they should head back.

&ldquo;Okay, last house,&rdquo; Mark agreed.

&ldquo;Finally,&rdquo; she rolled her eyes to the dark sky, shifting the bags of candy she was bearing in hand.

&ldquo;Wow, Mario did all this?&rdquo; Great praised at the festive decorations and flashing lights that bounced off the dancing bodies of people in their costumes.

An Alice (of Wonderland) and Queen of Hearts came up to them and they recognized Margie and Taew. &ldquo;How was it?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Never gets old,&rdquo; Great said, holding up his bag of bounty.

&ldquo;Want some?&rdquo; Yaya and Mai offered to the girls. Taew declined, saying she&rsquo;d already had two cupcakes.

&ldquo;O did good huh?&rdquo; Mark said, head bobbing to the music that was dj-ed by a Big Foot. &ldquo;Where is he anyway?&rdquo;

Margie nodded to the middle of the dance floor where a dinosaur was doing slick moves that would have scared off any of its predators back in the pre-historic age.

&ldquo;Slave, put my candy up in my room,&rdquo; Mark ordered Kim, handing over his candy and keys. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t you dare lock my keys inside my room,&rdquo; he warned before hooting and joining in the party.

Kim trudged over to the elevator. Unlocking Mark and Mario&rsquo;s room, she tossed the bags on the bottom bunk, but paused at the door.

Later when Mark came up exhausted from a night of partying, he opened the door. It took him a few steps to realize what he was stepping on. Looking down, he saw that all his Halloween candy was layered on the floor so that there was no trace of the tiles underneath at all. &ldquo;WHAT THE!&rdquo;

------Author's note
Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain...


Mischievous Yaya and innocent Nadech

The one they all have crushes on


You're Average Person :)
pwahahahhahahah...Mak...he never fails to crack me up in every chapter...poor Kim but ha, she got him back

I knew it! After Yaya said girls "prefer" the bad boy type, he was going to dress up as one with the help of Mak! hahahahha

I love what he told Yaya tho, the girl he's destined to be with will appreciate him for who he is and he wont be mean to her and will put her feelings first----awww narak ah!

eeek! I wonder who was that following Margie down the hallway


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?

Chapter 9

Sitting at the computer in the library and finally finishing her essay, Mai reached her hands up for a stretch.

Om adjusted his backpack as he passed the bookshelves and reached the tables of computers. He saw Mai just then, as she was stretching, and he couldn&rsquo;t help stopping to admire her profile, her loose hair flowing down her shoulders to her waist, and the polka-dotted shirt she wore giving her a bubbly character for the day so no one could even tell she had just exhausted her brain cells for the essay in front of her. Plus, she was just really attractive in general to him. Catching himself and swiveling his eyes to the side, Om scooted over to one of the chairs, but a little too late when Mai called out to him in a loud whisper.

&ldquo;Om! Hey Om!&rdquo;

Trying to make it seem like he had just arrived, he looked up and made a surprised face. &ldquo;Hey! What up?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Guess who just completed a four page paper in two hours?&rdquo;


&ldquo;What are you working on?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, some reading assignments. How&rsquo;s philosophy working for you?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ah, I was nervous about taking that class. I heard it really gets in your head and is hard to understand. But&hellip;&rdquo; she raised her shoulders, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually really easy.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Say, Mai&hellip;? Uh, this weekend, they&rsquo;re opening a new skating rink and I was wondering if you wanted to go.&rdquo; He smiled when her face lit up.

&ldquo;Perfect! It&rsquo;s been a while since I&rsquo;ve skated. I can&rsquo;t wait! Who&rsquo;s all going?&rdquo;

Om stuttered for an answer. He had actually intended to ask her to go one on one but since she was waiting expectantly, he chickened out and said, &ldquo;Probably Great and Pope and others?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Great, I&rsquo;ll tell everyone else.&rdquo; She skipped away for lunch while Om sighed.

&ldquo;Wanna go to the skating rink this weekend?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nah, I got a date,&rdquo; Great answered, flipping through a magazine.

&ldquo;With who?&rdquo;


&ldquo;PERFECT! Bring her with too!&rdquo;

&ldquo;How is it a date if she and I are with you?&rdquo;

&ldquo;But you HAVE to!&rdquo;

Great looked at Om weird. &ldquo;Why? You&rsquo;re the hockey player, not me.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I meant Riverview Rink, not the campus rink. I asked Mai if she wanted to go and she said yeah, but then asked who else was coming so I said you and Pope&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;So you were essentially asking her to go with you only, but wimped out? Man, you need to stop being such a wuss and just ask her out.&rdquo;

Om glared at him. &ldquo;It just so happens that she has or had a crush on Weir.&rdquo;

&ldquo;S&rsquo;that so? Even more reason for you to get a move on. She&rsquo;s a pretty girl, she&rsquo;ll get snatched up soon if you&rsquo;re slow.&rdquo; Great shook his head at Om who slumped in his chair. &ldquo;FINE. I&rsquo;ll take Kim to the rink with you guys. But you, my man, need to step up. What&rsquo;ve you been doing during all those homework sessions with Mai anyway?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Homework?&rdquo; Duh.

&ldquo;Well is it working?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well she&rsquo;s such a hard worker that I don&rsquo;t wanna fall behind and look stupid, so yeah.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t you have anything else to talk about?&rdquo;

&ldquo;We talk about lots of stuff!&rdquo; Om replied, eyes sparked in memories of the long conversations he shared with Mai, &ldquo;And dude, she likes, like, almost everything I do. TV shows, food, hockey, dogs, music like Jack Johnson, Harry Potter&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;Correction; everyone likes Harry Potter,&rdquo; Great said, &ldquo;Alright, I&rsquo;ll go. But this weekend, you better start some real chemistry.&rdquo;

An hour later when he was returning from the library, he saw Mai and Weir leaving Yulli Center together with hot chocolates. He sighed, even though he knew that Mai and Weir had long engaged in a simple friendship and that Weir had started dating someone else.

&ldquo;Hey Om!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, Yaya. What are you up to?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Just out of class.&rdquo; She had not missed his wistful glance towards two certain people. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t mind me being straightforward. Are you going to ask Mai out?&rdquo;

He startled, not having been prepared, even with her warning. &ldquo;Uh, I&hellip;what?&rdquo;

She chuckled, crinkling her brown eyes. &ldquo;You know, Mai&rsquo;s a person with a lot of charisma. Before, she had a lot of guy friends and they definitely had crushes on her. But while it&rsquo;s nice to see her be friends with you, I think, if you want to take things further, you shouldn&rsquo;t wait too long. You&rsquo;ll allow shades of gray to get in the way of winning her heart and then it&rsquo;ll be too late and you&rsquo;ll be in the friend zone forever! You have to make these things clear,&rdquo; she ended firmly.

Om was very much inspired by her as they neared Clark Hall.

&ldquo;So you&rsquo;re postponing your date?&rdquo; Min asked.

&ldquo;Not really. I mean, this is our date, but we&rsquo;ll just be hanging out with you all too.&rdquo; Kim pulled a sweater over her head. When her sweater was fixed perfectly she turned to see Taew arrive at their door after knocking.
&ldquo;Are you really going to wear that?&rdquo; Kim asked Taew, who was all dolled up with a short skirt, knee high socks, boots and a coat that all fashionably worked together.

&ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it cute?&rdquo;

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hella cute, but YOU&rsquo;RE not gonna look cute if you slip on the ice in THAT,&rdquo; Kim pointed out.

&ldquo;Then I just won&rsquo;t skate,&rdquo; Taew shrugged.

&ldquo;Damn girl, way to make us all feel lazy,&rdquo; Kim looked down at her jeans.

&ldquo;I just like dressing up.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Haha, yeah, that gets old fast, trust me,&rdquo; Min said, &ldquo;Most people become too busy to care what they look like unless they&rsquo;re doing presentations or something.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re one to talk, I never see you looking anything but your best,&rdquo; Kim argued.

&ldquo;Well of course I have to keep up with the trends. I&rsquo;m shooting to become a fashion designer,&rdquo; Min declared before lifting her chin, &ldquo;That is, unless I become a model before then.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Ready? Mai&rsquo;s texting me in all caps lock to hurry up,&rdquo; Kim said.

&ldquo;Hey, all here?&rdquo; Weir asked as the group dawdled outside of Clark. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s go then.&rdquo; He walked hand in hand with a woman introduced as Noon, as they headed to the cars.

After lacing up his skates, Om was about to get up and join the others, but his eye caught something white and fuzzy on the ground. It was a single knit mitten.

&ldquo;Hurry up Om!&rdquo;

He hurriedly pushed the mitten into his pocket and entered the rink. Looking around, he found Mai and took a deep breath to prepare himself, but stopped when he saw that she was teaching Nadech how to skate.

&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t you dare let go, don&rsquo;t&hellip;&rdquo; Nadech kept saying over and over, as he fought to keep his balance while clinging to Mai&rsquo;s hands.

&ldquo;I won&rsquo;t. You need to just chill.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Chill? I&rsquo;m cold enough already.&rdquo; When she laughed, he huffed and stiffly tried to skate forward, while she slid backwards as easily as if she was walking. &ldquo;Whoa!&rdquo;

A second pair of hands helped him remain steady. He looked up into the flushed and smiling face of Yaya. &ldquo;Mai, I can help him.&rdquo;

Just then, Om skated up to them and tugged Mai&rsquo;s braid. &ldquo;Hey, wanna lose to me in a race?&rdquo; he said, playfully twirling in circles on the ice.

She put on her game face at his challenge. &ldquo;In your dreams. Nadech,&rdquo; she turned to the other two, &ldquo;Yaya will help you for a few minutes, ok?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Go Mai!&rdquo; Yaya cheered for her as they took off.


&ldquo;Ow!&rdquo; Nadech had slipped and dragged her down with him. She sat up rubbing her hip.

&ldquo;I thought you were going to help?&rdquo; he complained, wincing.

&ldquo;Here, get up.&rdquo;

It took him several attempts to finally get back up and balanced on the thin blades. &ldquo;How do people do this?&rdquo; he asked in agony, squeezing Yaya&rsquo;s hands tight. Yaya couldn&rsquo;t suppress a teasing smile at his shaky legs and super concentrated brow, as if he was tiptoeing on the edge of death.

&ldquo;Just hold on to me.&rdquo; And he did just that.

Panting with exhilaration, Mai and Om slowed down, their race having died down somewhere along the way, and they took a break by the side.

Reaching in her coat pocket, Mai frowned and dug deeper.

&ldquo;What are you looking for?&rdquo;

She held up a white mitten. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t find the other side.&rdquo; She checked her pants pockets and then her coat again. &ldquo;Kim! Have you by any chance seen my mitten?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;No!&rdquo; Kim shouted back, not pausing as she furiously whipped past trying to beat Mario to the end of the rink.

Om recognized the knit mitten and realized the one he&rsquo;d found was hers. He opened his mouth to tell her, but then stopped.

&ldquo;...great, now I&rsquo;ll have to buy another pair,&rdquo; she sighed. She then grew quiet when Om took her hands in his.

&ldquo;In the meantime,&rdquo; he said, eyes sparkling warmly, &ldquo;maybe this will do&hellip;?&rdquo;

She hardly noticed the ice underneath her, or the frosty air around them. Om moved backwards, pulling her along fluidly, floating almost, weaving through other skaters. Their eyes didn&rsquo;t leave each other&rsquo;s faces.

&ldquo;What are you looking at?&rdquo; Taew asked when she noticed the dreamy smile on Margie&rsquo;s face. She followed Margie&rsquo;s line of vision and her mouth fell open. &ldquo;Awww!&rdquo;

&ldquo;I went easy on you!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Whatever Mari-OH, I whooped you @ss. Are you guys not going to skate?&rdquo; Kim slid up to where the two girls were leaning on the rink&rsquo;s side.

&ldquo;Look!&rdquo; Taew pointed. They too turned and smiled.

&ldquo;No matter how much that looks like a scene plagiarized from an asian drama, it&rsquo;s still so cute,&rdquo; Mario said semi-critically, pulling his wool hat snug over his ears.

&ldquo;Psh, I wish I had a romantic plagiarized lakorn scene,&rdquo; Taew said. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s go get some food.&rdquo;

Great met them on the way to the food area.

&ldquo;Did you see me beat O?&rdquo; Kim asked him.

He chuckled. &ldquo;You were fierce out there.&rdquo;

She flipped her hair with a victory smile.

&ldquo;Hey, sorry about this. I mean, we were supposed to be on our date,&rdquo; he winced, &ldquo;But Om asked for some help.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh don&rsquo;t worry about it,&rdquo; she grinned, her brown eyes sparkling to match the atmosphere, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m glad we&rsquo;re helping our friends make progress. And this is actually really fun! It&rsquo;s been so long since I got to skate.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well I&rsquo;ll make it up to you on our next REAL date,&rdquo; Great said, &ldquo;And I&rsquo;m buying you lunch.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I have no objection.&rdquo;

Mai took a break from skating to get some snacks. On her way to the food bar, she passed a toy vending machine. Feeling the quarter in her pocket, she couldn&rsquo;t resist stopping to try her luck at the game. She slipped a coin in the slot and readied her hand on the controller. Mai moved the claw over the pile of stuffed animals and aimed for the panda doll&mdash;it was the cutest one.

&ldquo;Whatch&rsquo;a doin?&rdquo;

Mai groaned in disappointment when the toy fell from the loose claw. &ldquo;I knew I&rsquo;d never get it.&rdquo; She looked to her side where Om was smiling at her pout. She couldn&rsquo;t resist the blush that crawled up her face; her steps to the food court had felt light and airy, after skating around with Om.

&ldquo;Let me give it a try.&rdquo;

Mai stepped aside and flourished her previous spot for him. Om repeated her steps, paying and moving the claw with the controller. He made a sound of discontent in the back of his throat as he also failed. Mai laughed, &ldquo;Forget it. These things are rigged anyway. Come on, I wanna get some fries.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve got it!&rdquo;

&ldquo;What?&rdquo; Margie asked.

&ldquo;Their couple name!&rdquo; Mario answered, seeing Om stuff a toy he&rsquo;d bought inside his coat.

The girls glanced at each other. &ldquo;Well&hellip;care to share it with us?&rdquo; Kim asked.

&ldquo;Not until they become official,&rdquo; he said stubbornly.

Kim looked at Mario weird. &ldquo;Why are you eating with your gloves on?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh, did you not hear about the mitten thief yo?&rdquo; He gave her a duh expression and continued eating his chili cheese fries.

&ldquo;Damn, my mittens are all dirty,&rdquo; Mario whined.

&ldquo;What did you expect?&rdquo; Kim said.

&ldquo;Oh well. This just gives me an excuse to go buy new ones,&rdquo; he bounced up the entrance steps with Margie.

&ldquo;So we&rsquo;re still on for shopping tomorrow? I need to pick up some more conditioner, or else my hair will get dry,&rdquo; Taew asked.

Yaya gave a skeptical glance at Taew&rsquo;s perfect and shiny locks that waved down from her head. &ldquo;Yeah, yeah, you and your gorgeous long-ass hair.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Who has long ass-hair?&rdquo; Mario asked.

&ldquo;You&rsquo;re mixing up your hyphens,&rdquo; Yaya said drily. &ldquo;We were just giving Taew a hard time because her hair is so perfect.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Pft. Perfectly insufferable.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Hmph,&rdquo; Taew turned away.

Chuckling, Yaya looked back towards Nadech. &ldquo;Hey, did you have fun?&rdquo;

He gave a thoughtful expression. &ldquo;I think&hellip;I prefer regular un-frozen water that I can just swim in. But,&rdquo; he smiled at her, &ldquo;it was still fun. Thanks for not letting go. I seriously feared for my life.&rdquo;

&ldquo;No problem. Didn&rsquo;t I say at the beginning of the year that we&rsquo;d all be here for each other?&rdquo;

&ldquo;And didn&rsquo;t I say it wouldn&rsquo;t matter if I got in between Mai and any guy?&rdquo; he nodded behind them. Yaya looked back and her eyes widened excitedly, seeing Mai and Om side by side. Without warning, she shoved Nadech into the bushes by Clark Hall&rsquo;s entrance.

&ldquo;Oof! Yaya, is this necessary?&rdquo;


They peeked through the brambles as the couple out there paused by the steps.

Om unzipped his coat and pulled something out from inside. He handed it to Mai.


&ldquo;I bought it,&rdquo; he shrugged, a sheepish smile curving on his lips, &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t have much faith I would win it out of the machine. Hope it&rsquo;s still just as special.&rdquo;

Mai&rsquo;s face showed she was touched by his gift. She cradled the toy panda in her hands, surprised by what she saw. The panda toy was wearing a white mitten on one arm. &ldquo;Is this mine?&rdquo; She quickly took out the mitten she hadn&rsquo;t lost to confirm that they matched.

&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Om averted his eyes with a nervous chuckle, &ldquo;I found that&hellip;Actually, I found it pretty early on but I just&hellip;wanted to hold your hand.&rdquo; He drew his eyes back to her, and was relieved to see the playful mirth on her smile.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m glad you didn&rsquo;t give it back right away&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;This is so cute!&rdquo; Yaya gleefully squealed in whisper.

&ldquo;You got a marker?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Huh?&rdquo; Not paying attention, she dug for a sharpie in her purse and handed it to Nadech, still watching the other two. &ldquo;Is he going to ask her out? Oh, they match! Nadech&hellip;&rdquo; she turned and saw him writing on the building wall. &ldquo;What are you vandalizing?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just leaving my mark.&rdquo; He capped the sharpie.

She looked at his neat Thai writing, but was unable to read all of it. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s it say?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Mm,&rdquo; he glanced at her with an evil smirk, &ldquo;It says, &lsquo;Yaya took advantage of me here&rsquo;.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What!? I did not!&rdquo; She leaped to her feet.


She froze, realizing she&rsquo;d drawn unwanted attention.

Mai and Om looked at her, puzzled. &ldquo;What are you doing over there?&rdquo; Mai blinked in surprise when Nadech&rsquo;s head popped up. &ldquo;And Nadech?&rdquo;

He waved to them. &ldquo;Yaya was the one&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t do anything! Don&rsquo;t believe a single word he says!&rdquo; She pushed her way out of the bushes and dashed inside.

------Author's note

Good going, mitten thief...

cr. pictures to their respective owners


You're Average Person :)
awwwwwwwwwww :blush: :blush: :blush: Om and Mai were just toooo cute! Narak mak! I liked his idea of teh gift! ahhh cant stop cheesing! I loved how the others watched them skate on the rink too

pwahahahah Nadech marking on the wall


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?
Chapter 10

The next evening.

Yaya looked left and right before crawling back behind the bushes where she and Nadech had hid last night. She was determined to scribble over his offensive words. How dare he accuse her of such immoral conduct?! Taking out her thickest black sharpie, she was about black out Nadech&rsquo;s words, but stopped. The curves and letters of his writing were so pretty though! How could something that looked like a picture by itself describe such falsehoods!

&ldquo;Are you vandalizing?&rdquo;

She gasped and looked up. It was Nadech again, hands in his pocket and wearing a knowing look.

She stuttered, &ldquo;I-I was just, uh, just&hellip;going to cover up your scandalous words!&rdquo;

He chuckled at her nervousness. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t worry, I was just kidding.&rdquo;

She didn&rsquo;t believe him. &ldquo;Really?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yes. Would I ever taint a maiden&rsquo;s name like that? I&rsquo;m not your bad boy, remember?&rdquo;

She sat back on her heels as he joined her. &ldquo;You really believe that?&rdquo; When he looked at her in question she said, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t actually like bad boys. I was just&hellip;joking&hellip;?&rdquo; She coughed to clear her throat and the awkward air, &ldquo;So then what does it really say?&rdquo;

&ldquo;It says&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Here says &lsquo;heart&rsquo; right?&rdquo; she pointed where she recognized. She and most of her friends weren't perfectly literate in Thai writing, with the exception of Mai who had lived in Thailand, but she knew enough to read.

He nodded. &ldquo;&rsquo;Home is where your heart is&rsquo;.&rdquo; Looking over at her, his eyes curved with his smile, &ldquo;Thanks to everyone here, my heart is growing fond of this place.

Yaya couldn&rsquo;t help feeling touched. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s so sweet. So&hellip;will you be going home for the holiday break?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah. I miss my parents a lot. Not quite ready to spend so many months without them, y&rsquo;know?&rdquo;

She nodded. &ldquo;Nadech, I think you&rsquo;re very brave. I&rsquo;d be bawling my eyes out every day if I was half way across the world from my family. But I&rsquo;m glad you&rsquo;re doing well here. And&hellip;if you ever need a friend to talk to, I&rsquo;m here. Okay?&rdquo;


&ldquo;Fuuuuuu!&rdquo; Mai released a loud breath as she shut her textbook and pushed it onto the ledge on the wall next to her top bunk. &ldquo;Finally done reading that chapter!&rdquo; she yawned.

&ldquo;Is the club meeting still this Thursday?&rdquo; Yaya asked of the Thai Students Alliance organization that they were a part of.

&ldquo;Yep. Will we have the fundraiser items? Chris said that he&rsquo;s having trouble reaching the production company.&rdquo;

&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll just have to wait and see. Anyway, I really want to do the hospital volunteering for our seminar project.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I know! It&rsquo;d be so cool working with kids there.&rdquo;

&ldquo;We can put together a little party for them for the holidays or something!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Are you guys ready to watch the new episode?&rdquo; Beau poked her head in the doorway. They girls were gathering regularly to watch a new Thai lakorn series.

&ldquo;Be right there,&rdquo; Yaya said, closing the nail polish bottle she&rsquo;d been using. As the girls headed down the hall to Kim&rsquo;s dorm room, Yaya asked curiously, &ldquo;Beau, are you really going to study law?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I dunno,&rdquo; Beau dropped her head back in distress. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m definitely considering the Asian American Studies or International Studies, but after taking that Criminal Justice class, I can&rsquo;t stop thinking about the corrupt world and wanting to kick ass for the innocent people out there.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Wow, and I thought it was because of Natthew that you were so into the class,&rdquo; Yaya slyly commented. Beau glanced at her warningly.

&ldquo;Margie!&rdquo; Mai said, seeing her coming up the stairs. &ldquo;Are you going to watch with us?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I might drop by, but there&rsquo;s this book I want to finish.&rdquo; She held up &lsquo;The Giver,&rsquo; and headed to her room to drop off her backpack.

&ldquo;That&rsquo;s one of my favorites!&rdquo; Yaya yelled.

&ldquo;Mine too!&rdquo; Beau said.

&ldquo;But I hated the ending,&rdquo; Mai made a face. &ldquo;I just wanted there to be another paragraph or SOMETHING that said he had a happily ever after.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t that implied though?&rdquo; Beau said.

&ldquo;Yeah but it was written so NOT in a clear-cut way. I mean, he was starving and tired and freezing almost to death. He could have been just hallucinating all that hope!&rdquo; Mai ranted, very dissatisfied about the main character in the book.

&ldquo;Well I just like to imagine that he made it to the bottom of the hill and found a small village with super nice people and a childless couple welcomed him and Gabriel to be their sons and they all celebrated the new family surrounded by a new world of warmth and cold and colors and music and love!&rdquo; Yaya sighed with satisfaction.

&ldquo;M-hm,&rdquo; Mai and Beau nodded.

&ldquo;Anyways, thank god we live in a world that isn&rsquo;t like in the book.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah, otherwise we wouldn&rsquo;t have all these lakorn to watch, rainy days, and Harry Potter,&rdquo; Mai laughed. Beau shook her head. While she liked the Harry Potter series, it could never be compared to the strong devotion Mai and Yaya had for the series.

&ldquo;If we DID live in the world of The Giver, would that be your comfort object?&rdquo; Beau said, gesturing to the panda toy that Mai had brought along without really thinking. Mai ignored their teasing smirks and just squeezed it under her arm fondly. She had indeed become attached to it and slept hugging it every night since Om had given it to her. Every time she opened her eyes in the morning and looked at it, she was reminded of his flushed face at the skating rink, which brought a smile to her face.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really soft and cuddly&hellip;&rdquo; They went into Kim&rsquo;s room that had a small TV she had connected to her laptop so they could stream the lakorn from the internet.

&ldquo;Well can you have some consideration for the rest of us that don&rsquo;t have a boyfriend to sweetly give toys and stuff to?&rdquo; Kim said, looking up as they entered.

&ldquo;He&rsquo;s not my boyfriend.&rdquo; Mai grumpily looked at her friends who had all said the sentence with her, smugly smirking at each other.

&ldquo;Yeah, Om needs to pick up the pace.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Stop it, this isn&rsquo;t something to rush into.&rdquo; Mai settled back onto Kim&rsquo;s bed.

&ldquo;But it&rsquo;s so obvious how much you like each other,&rdquo; Yaya hugged herself in a chair. &ldquo;Just get on with it already.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh, can we change the subject to someone else, like, ahem, Beau and her singer slash future law enforcer Natthew,&rdquo; to which Beau turned away like she hadn&rsquo;t heard a single thing, so that Mai continued with Kim, &ldquo;or perhaps KIM. You and Great are actually going on dates and stuff. That&rsquo;s way big.&rdquo;

&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t gone on an actual date yet,&rdquo; Kim pointed out.

&ldquo;But still, OMG, he asked you out this weekend. Where are you guys going?&rdquo;

Kim shared the details of their plans, not holding in her own excitement, until they went on to concentrating on the drama showing on the screen.

Two days later, it was Saturday.

&ldquo;&hellip;No, I think the scarf looks weird,&rdquo; Taew said.

&ldquo;But it&rsquo;s going to be cold,&rdquo; Mai pointed out. &ldquo;Just wear it. You can take it off inside the restaurant.&rdquo;

Kim held up the yellow silk scarf, standing in front of the mirror. She was getting ready for her date with Great, and they were all helping her with last-minute preparations with the usual feminine bonding ways. The snow had cleared for the last few days but the cold was biting just as sharply as icicles.

&ldquo;OK, I&rsquo;ll take it with me,&rdquo; she decided. &ldquo;How do I look?&rdquo; She turned to the others.

&ldquo;Stunning,&rdquo; Yaya said.

Mai gave a thumbs up.

&ldquo;Beautiful,&rdquo; Margie smiled with admiration.

&ldquo;Here,&rdquo; Taew helped smooth the front of Kim&rsquo;s hair, &ldquo;Ok, perfect!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Those are some killer heels,&rdquo; Mai observed in awe. She herself didn&rsquo;t wear heels often and so was quite apprehensive just looking at the shoes Kim was strapping on, though she knew Kim was an expert with walking in heels. &ldquo;I dunno how you guys do it.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t wear heels?&rdquo; Taew asked.

She shook her head. &ldquo;Heels were created as a weakness to women so they would twist their ankles and the men would have their chance to &lsquo;rescue&rsquo; us,&rdquo; she made quote marks with her fingers, while the others smiled at her indignation.

&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why P&rsquo;Ploy keeps telling you you should take a Women&rsquo;s Studies class,&rdquo; Taew said, then sighed happily. &ldquo;I love my heels.&rdquo;

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not like you need them anyway,&rdquo; Kim said to Mai, who was pretty tall already. &ldquo;Min let me borrow these. They&rsquo;re gorgeous,&rdquo; Kim said, taking one last look in the mirror.

&ldquo;Ok, off you go.&rdquo; Yaya handed over her trench jacket. &ldquo;Have fun!&rdquo;

Kim took a deep breath and headed down the stairs, feeling her heart speed up at the anticipation. It'd been so long since she had gotten to do something special like this with someone she liked. Her thoughts strayed momentarily to James, her ex-boyfriend, but she pushed the thoughts away. She found Great down by the lobby.

&ldquo;Wow, you look great,&rdquo; he smiled widely.

&ldquo;Thanks. So do you.&rdquo; She took the arm that he extended and they went out towards his car.

&ldquo;I was thinking after dinner we could go over to the garden. It&rsquo;s really late in the season for flowers, but the view is awesome.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Sounds good,&rdquo; she agreed.

Through quiet radio music, they chatted easily together about their day and random observations outside the window while driving.

&ldquo;That grandma sure is gangster,&rdquo; Kim said at the stop light, looking at the old woman beside them who was driving a bright pink car with lit rims and two doors.

Great chuckled while reaching for his phone that had rang. &ldquo;Hello? Hey mom. Yeah I&rsquo;m going out&hellip;Wait, what?&rdquo;

Kim looked over with concern. His voice had grown slightly frantic.

&ldquo;What happened? Well is she ok? God&hellip;They still haven&rsquo;t said anything yet?...&rdquo; Great listened with a deepening frown. &ldquo;Ok&hellip;Ok, see you then.&rdquo;
He sighed, clearly distressed.

&ldquo;What is it?&rdquo; Kim asked.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s my sister. She got hurt during her gymnastics competition and they&rsquo;re at the hospital now.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh my gosh! Well, it must be serious.&rdquo;

He nodded.

&ldquo;Aren&rsquo;t you going to go see her? Wait, you don&rsquo;t live too far right?&rdquo;

&ldquo;About twenty minutes away.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You should go.&rdquo;

He hesitated. He felt bad having to interrupt their plans but he was really worried about his little sister. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry.&rdquo;

Kim shook her head. &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t be stupid. Your sister&rsquo;s hurt, she needs you. Come on, drop me back off at the dorm and grab some clothes and then go home.&rdquo;

He nodded, turning the car around at the first chance and going back.

When Great had gone, Kim took a walk around outside.

She glanced down at the shiny pumps she was wearing. &ldquo;Guess this isn&rsquo;t the night for us.&rdquo; She hoped Great&rsquo;s sister was ok. Her own sister had sustained enough injuries in soccer to make her understand the feeling of worry for siblings.

Rubbing her arms and now glad she had worn the scarf, Kim strolled back through campus to Clark Hall. &ldquo;At least I won&rsquo;t have an excuse to put off that paper,&rdquo; she rolled her eyes.

&ldquo;What party did you come from?&rdquo; It was Mark, hands in pockets, ambling up her way from the library.

&ldquo;I was on a d&hellip;&rdquo; Well it hadn&rsquo;t been a successful date, &ldquo;Great and I were going out but his family had an emergency.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh.&rdquo; Their paces were matched now and Mark noticed her different height. Looking down, he saw the heels she had on. &ldquo;Sheesh, how do you women walk in those? They look like they hurt.&rdquo;

Smilying wryly at his comment that was nearly identical to Mai's, she replied, &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t know how to pick the right ones they hurt. But I&rsquo;m used to them.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Still looks like torture. All that just to look taller?&rdquo;

She made an annoyed face. &ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s fashion and a&hellip;a woman thing.&rdquo; She huffed. &ldquo;Forget it. Guys just don&rsquo;t like feeling short, that&rsquo;s why they complain.&rdquo;

He snorted. &ldquo;I could care less if a woman was taller than me. Or if she was stronger. I mean, then she wouldn&rsquo;t need me taking care of her all the time.&rdquo;

Kim scrutinized him through narrow eyes before reluctantly giving him a little credit for his way of thinking, but stubbornly held her chin high. &ldquo;Whatever. You won&rsquo;t ever know the feeling a woman has when she puts on a pair of heels and steps out into the world,&rdquo; she made big strides to demonstrate, &ldquo;with confidence and&mdash;&ldquo;

Mark&rsquo;s jaw dropped. &ldquo;Are you ok?!&rdquo;

She groaned, reaching for her foot. In her attempt to seem grand and graceful, she had slipped and fell over. He crouched by her foot. &ldquo;Aaahh&hellip;ow.&rdquo; The right shoe was nearly hanging off her toes.

Mark gingerly slipped the heels back on her foot properly. &ldquo;How is it?&rdquo;

She hissed, trying to stand up, but limping badly. &ldquo;&hellip;curse Mai and her pessimism&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Will you be able to walk?&rdquo;

Wincing, she tried to go forward. &ldquo;Yeah. Ow.&rdquo; Kim realized he had fixed her arm over his shoulder. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s ok.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll help you. Come on.&rdquo;

Like that, with Mark supporting some of her weight, they slowly reached the dorm.

Beau looked up from the front desk, mouth agape at the sight of them. &ldquo;Was it that bad?&rdquo;


&ldquo;The date. Was it that bad that you not only came back early but also came back with a different guy?&rdquo;

Kim resisted the urge to roll her eyes. &ldquo;Beau&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Kidding.&rdquo; She came out to the hall. &ldquo;What happened?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I think these shoes are defective for &lsquo;stepping out into the world with confidence,&rsquo;&rdquo; Mark said.

&ldquo;Shut up.&rdquo; After reassuring Beau that she would be fine and with Mark assisting, they climbed their way to her room. Reaching her room, he helped her inside. &ldquo;Min must still be at work.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You gonna be okay?&rdquo; Mark asked.

&ldquo;Yes&hellip;&rdquo; she glanced up at him. &ldquo;Thanks for helping.&rdquo;

He gave a small salute. &ldquo;No problem. See ya.&rdquo; He paused, hearing her hiss of pain. Turning back around, he shrugged off his backpack and jacket and crossed the room back to where Kim sat on her bed.

&ldquo;What are you doing? Whoa!&rdquo; Mark had unwrapped her scarf and dropped it beside her. Next, he reached for her jacket. &ldquo;Whoa whoa whoa! What do you think you&rsquo;re doing?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Getting comfortable.&rdquo;

Her jaw dropped. What in the hell did he think he would be rewarded with by performing a bit of chivalry?! &ldquo;Hey! You can&rsquo;t&mdash;&ldquo; He pulled her coat off her, then sat down on the floor and tossed her high heels away. &ldquo;Be careful with those!&rdquo;

He gave her dull look. She was worried about a pair of killer shoes? &ldquo;Seriously?&rdquo;

&ldquo;They&rsquo;re&hellip;not mine.&rdquo; Kim was surprised when he began gently massaging her injured foot.

&ldquo;Does it hurt?&rdquo; he asked attentively, looking up at her with a quirked brow when she didn't immediately answer.

She pressed her lips together before answering, &ldquo;Only a little.&rdquo; His massaging really soothed and relieved the pain.

&ldquo;There,&rdquo; he set her foot back down after about ten minutes of massaging, which had been slightly awkward on Kim's half. &ldquo;Hope that helped a little.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What was that about?&rdquo;

He shrugged. &ldquo;Just something I learned.&rdquo; He got back up and stretched before leaving.

She looked at the door where Mark had exited nonchalantly with his usual wave and lop-sided grin, as if he made a habit of massaging people's feet every evening, puzzled by what had just occurred but her thoughts were interrupted.

&ldquo;Hey,&rdquo; Min came in. &ldquo;How did it go?&rdquo;




Is your "nom" Fai-approved?
Chapter 11

A week later.

Mai strolled down the hall, reading a text message from her mom, and wondering where Om was. She met Mark along the way.

&ldquo;Sup Mai?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Not much, just got done with the philosophy paper.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh yeah I was gonna ask you about that!&rdquo; he snapped his fingers. &ldquo;I wanted to write about servile conformism but realized I have no idea what that is except it sounded easier than the other topics&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;MAI!&rdquo; Great burst up the stairs, panting frantically. &ldquo;You have to go to the hockey rink right now!&rdquo;


&ldquo;Om&rsquo;s hurt! During practice there was an accident and&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;Oh my gawd, let&rsquo;s go!&rdquo; Mark shouted.

&ldquo;Not you!&rdquo; Great grabbed the back of Mark&rsquo;s collar. &ldquo;Come on Mai, hurry!&rdquo;

Mai had already skipped down two steps at a time and was hurrying away.

Mark watched them leave, rubbing his neck where his collar had nearly choked him, then he hurried up the stairs and announced what had happened to everyone who was around.

&ldquo;Damn it why is the rink so far away?&rdquo; Great complained as he ran through campus after Mai, who was a block ahead of him.

Mai arrived inside the hockey stadium and looked down from the top seats to see a crumpled form on the ice.

Breathing hard by the time she reached the bottom and was on ice, Mai slipped and slid her way over to the lifeless body in the middle.

&ldquo;Om!&rdquo; she yelled, &ldquo;Om what happened? W-wake up! Oh my god, where is everyone?! Help! Great? Where&rsquo;d he&mdash;&ldquo; She gasped when looking down, Om&rsquo;s eyes looked back at her. &ldquo;W-what&hellip;? Oh my gosh are you okay?&rdquo;

He shook his head weakly.

&ldquo;Here, let&rsquo;s&mdash;can you stand? We need to find help. Oh, where is Great? He was right behind me! Are you hurt bad? Did the team leave to get help?&rdquo; Mai looked around and now the weirdness of them being completely alone started to grow. &ldquo;Maybe Great called 911? Om, if you can&rsquo;t stand, I think I should go find someone. Are you&hellip;?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m feeling really bad&hellip;&rdquo;

She winced for his sake.

&ldquo;&hellip;because of you.&rdquo;

That halted her in confusion. His head was in her arms and those deep eyes of his wore every ounce of adoration as they poured into her own eyes. &ldquo;What are you saying?&rdquo; She was beginning to suspect she knew what he meant, but not wanting to get her hopes up, she inspected his head. &ldquo;Did you really get into an accident during practice?&rdquo;

&ldquo;There was no practice.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But&hellip;Then Great&hellip;?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Is doing a surprisingly good job right now,&rdquo; Om answered as the lights overhead shut off one by one until a single halo encircled the two of them, while guitar melody of &lsquo;Wonderful Tonight&rsquo; surrounded them on all sides. The song happened to be a classic that both had talked about before.
Om pushed himself up onto his skates, pulling Mai up with him, holding her two hands.

&ldquo;So&hellip;you&rsquo;re not hurt?&rdquo; she asked.

&ldquo;Not physically. But there&rsquo;s something that's been distracting me more than an injury. I&rsquo;ve had these feelings that I wanted to get out, but I didn&rsquo;t because I was afraid. But then I realized that the risk of hurting myself was worth getting to express these feelings&hellip;that you&rsquo;re worth the anxiety and anticipation of putting these feelings into words. And I&rsquo;m tired of thinking of you silently. So&hellip;&rdquo;

Mai felt acutely his hands that hadn&rsquo;t left hers, the same cozy warmth from the first time he held her hand, and his clear words rang through her heart.
He felt so nervous as he was finally about to voice his feelings.&ldquo;&hellip;can I have your permission to think of you out loud? To think of you with honest, unrestrained feelings?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh my gosh!&rdquo;

Great, who was up in the commentator&rsquo;s box above the stadium, controlling the music, heard someone gasp.

&ldquo;She better say yes!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Or I&rsquo;ll do it for her!&rdquo;

He looked out of the glass window to see Mark, Taew, Yaya, Kim, Beau, Nadech, Mario, Margie, Weir and Pope all watching the scene below, the girls with &ldquo;aww&rdquo; expressions on their faces. Apparently Mark had gathered just about everybody.

&ldquo;Anyone else feeling like this is a little too Wisconsin?&rdquo; Pope smirked.

&ldquo;What?&rdquo; Weir gave him a weird look to indicate he didn&rsquo;t get it.

&ldquo;Cause you know, could he get any cheesier?&rdquo; Pope snickered by himself, while Weir and the others shook their heads. Great tapped on the glass. They turned over to see him make a fierce face, pressing a finger to his lips that told them to shut up.

Om&rsquo;s heart pounded harder than ever before a game, waiting for the response from the girl whom he definitely didn&rsquo;t want to play with but wanted to start a cherishing relationship with. She smiled and he melted, not daring to believe the assumption of that smile.

&ldquo;This is why you skipped our chem study session?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I was going to fail anyway because I was so distracted by thinking of you all the time.&rdquo;

With this, all pretenses dropped and Om found himself in a hug with Mai, feeling like the luckiest person in the world, feeling like all dreams could come true at that moment, but that the best one had already occurred when her voice reached him with a &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; to his earlier question.

&ldquo;Yeah?&rdquo; he repeated dazedly, then snapped to attention and tightened his arms around her waist, &ldquo;Wait! You can&rsquo;t take it back.&rdquo;

She pulled her head back with a laugh. &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t take it back even if you make me.&rdquo;

And despite this not being anywhere near like a trivial hockey game, Om felt the greatest triumph ever, making him let out a &ldquo;Whoo!&rdquo; He squeezed her off her feet, skating forward and swinging her in a circle before their weight unbalanced him and they fell on the ice. Suddenly they could hear shouts of alarm and they looked up. A whole bunch of their friends had rushed down from the seats to them.

Mai laughed, &ldquo;What the heck? They were here the whole time?&rdquo;

Om cast a narrowed look up at the commentator&rsquo;s box where Great gave him a helpless shrug while the friends converged upon them.

&ldquo;Entropy describes the amount of randomness in molecules, for example, the forming of gas or melting of ice. What?&rdquo; Mai asked Kim, who was looking at her pitifully.

Kim burst out, &ldquo;Seriously! You guys went through that whole romantic confession deal and didn&rsquo;t even get further than &lsquo;Whoo?&rsquo;&rdquo; she copied Om, then gave him dull stare. &ldquo;Way to pick an advantageous setting. I mean, the ice could have melted from all the chemistry and hotness of your feelings but it&rsquo;s nothing without ending with a kiss.&rdquo; Kim had just finished watching a very dramatic lakorn earlier and had to vent. With that, she stood up and walked out of the lounge.

Mai blinked widely back to her book. &ldquo;Oh&hellip;kay&hellip;What she just described was similar to entropy, otherwise I would be seriously telling her off for leaving us in such a&hellip;&rdquo; she glanced at Om then back down, &ldquo;awkward atmosphere.&rdquo; She cleared her throat. &ldquo;So yeah, entropy or randomness is delta ess&hellip;&rdquo; She had to stop once more since some magnetism that could not be described by science forced her gaze back up to Om, who sat smiling across from her. He got up and sat next to her on the couch.

&ldquo;I think she had a point. I was kinda clumsy earlier but now that we&rsquo;re in no position to fall or slip, there&rsquo;s something I didn&rsquo;t get to do that I wanted to&hellip;&rdquo;

She knew what he meant and agreed whole-heartedly, tilting her head up to receive his first kiss. Their lips parted momentarily to share a smile before reuniting, the air evaporating all of their doubts and increasing their heartbeats&hellip;and there was no randomness in each kiss at all.

&ldquo;How&rsquo;s your sister doing?&rdquo; Kim asked Great.

&ldquo;She&rsquo;s feeling better. Won&rsquo;t be practicing for a few months though,&rdquo; he shook his head in sympathy. His sister had broken both her arms, which was especially disappointing since she had been on her way to to winning this year&rsquo;s regional championship. &ldquo;But she&rsquo;s stubborn. Won&rsquo;t be kept in bed too long. Anyway, can you believe what just happened?&rdquo; He snickered.

Yaya sighed. &ldquo;Finally, those two are together.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yep,&rdquo; Kim looked up, &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not official until they change their Facebook statuses.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What?&rdquo; Yaya gave her a weird look. &ldquo;Why is it so important these days to update these things on Facebook? It&rsquo;s not like Facebook is their parent that they have to get approval from.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But don&rsquo;t you know that the world has to know they&rsquo;re together now?&rdquo; Mario responded, semi-sarcastically. &ldquo;Anyway, now that they ARE together, I can start calling them by their couple name: PanDa!&rdquo; he looked ecstatic with himself. When he realized they didn&rsquo;t catch on right away, he elaborated, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s from their names AkaPAN and DAvika, and because, like, a panda&rsquo;s black and white so now their relationship won&rsquo;t have any of that questionable gray stuff like &lsquo;just friends.&rsquo;&rdquo;

&ldquo;OOoooooh,&rdquo; they nodded with understanding and approval. The PanDa couple became official.

Om was loitering around the third floor landing when Yaya and Min came down. They exchanged knowing smirks, making him avert his eyes awkwardly. This was why he felt that girls always had a way of reading minds when he&rsquo;d really rather keep his thoughts private.

&ldquo;Er, good morning,&rdquo; he greeted.

&ldquo;Oh I bet it is for you,&rdquo; Min said.

&ldquo;Hm?&rdquo; he raised a questioning brow.

&ldquo;You know what I&rsquo;m talking about.&rdquo; Indeed, having been Min&rsquo;s classmate for the past two years, he was used to her teasing, but this morning, he felt his stomach do flips since this was a matter concerning Mai.

&ldquo;Mai will be out shortly,&rdquo; Yaya informed him, giving him a look of approval and they continued on their way.

A few seconds later, Beau skipped down to go to class. &ldquo;Oh, hey Om! Congratulations!&rdquo;

&ldquo;On what?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh, on you and Mai, DUH!&rdquo; She giggled and clapped her hands as she passed him by.


&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m saying, why did the white people have to pick on the Natives? That&rsquo;s just so wrong, man,&rdquo; Mark said, talking about the ethics class he and Nadech had together. The two gentlemen raised a hand in greeting to Om.

&ldquo;Why are you just standing there?&rdquo; Mark asked, but before Om could reply, Mark pointed, &ldquo;OOoooh, you&rsquo;re waiting for Mai. Ok, gotcha.&rdquo; He held up a hand to pause Nadech. &ldquo;Aren&rsquo;t you going to give him the talk?&rdquo;

Nadech quirked a brow, &ldquo;Talk?&rdquo;

&ldquo;You know, the WARNING talk for Mai? Cause, like, you&rsquo;re the closest thing she has to a brother, so aren&rsquo;t you going to tell Om to take care of her, and never ever hurt her and even though he&rsquo;s a real good guy, he&rsquo;ll never be good enough for her but since she likes him you&rsquo;ll give him this chance and he better not screw it up because otherwise you will make him suffer into his next lifetime and then search his incarnate down and make HIM suffer into the next THREE lifetimes until he&rsquo;s reincarnated into a rock or something and you don&rsquo;t recognize him anymore?&rdquo;

Nadech and Om stared at Mark blankly. Finally, Nadech took a deep breath and clapped a hand on Om&rsquo;s shoulder. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m happy for you.&rdquo; Then he went on down the stairs, giving Mark a second to nod intimidatingly at Om, before following.

After they were gone, Om cracked a smile, shaking his head.

Someone yawned loudly. &ldquo;&hellip;why does class have to be so freaking early!?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Remember in high school when school started at like, seven-thirty, and we had no problem with it? Isn&rsquo;t it weird how nine in the morning is early to us now?&rdquo; Mario said back to Kim, as the two of them along with Margie were coming down the stairs.

&ldquo;Oh, good morning Om,&rdquo; Kim grinned. &ldquo;Are you here to wait for Mai?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah, we have Chem in a bit&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well why are you waiting here?&rdquo; Mario demanded. &ldquo;Her door is just up these ten extra steps.&rdquo;

Suddenly, he and Kim grabbed a hold of Om and forced him up the stairs to Mai and Yaya&rsquo;s room.

Mario pounded his knuckles loudly on the wooden barrier. &ldquo;Mai!&rdquo;

&ldquo;W-what are you&mdash;&ldquo; Om frantically tried to stop him but they skittered away from him, giggling and whispering. Oh geeze, he grimaced when he heard Mai call out, &ldquo;Just a second!&rdquo; The door swung open and both he and Mai froze face to face.

She broke out in a smile. &ldquo;Good morning.&rdquo;

&ldquo;&hellip;Yeah. Um,&rdquo; he coughed, &ldquo;Are you ready? Did you already have breakfast?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, yeah! Let me just get my backpack.&rdquo; When she was ready, they went downstairs together. There was something new about being together, so that though they were still comfortable as before, they were shy too. Small smiles danced on their lips even as they silently started across campus.

&ldquo;Did you sleep well?&rdquo; Om inwardly groaned at his awkward question, while Mai smiled indulgently. She had come to recognize when he was feeling shy, so she tried not to give him too hard of a time about it.

&ldquo;Yes, I did.&rdquo; They walked. &ldquo;Wasn&rsquo;t the Harry Potter movie awesome? I can&rsquo;t wait for the final one to come out.&rdquo;

He grinned at the way her eyes lit up in her spirit of fandom. He still recalled her dressed up in the Hogwarts costume and swinging her wand around with Yaya and Nadech and the others. Om&rsquo;s grin widened when she met his gaze and without a second thought, her hand was in his.

&ldquo;So you&rsquo;ll be going home this weekend for Thanksgiving?&rdquo;
Sorry for the brief hiatus. Not having internet sucks.

"High five man, you finally did it!"

"I am half of PanDa. Kekeke."


You're Average Person :)
:woot: :woot: :woot: :woot: :woot: OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This chapter was toooooo cuuute! I love it! PANDA couple, love that name and the meaning of it hahhahaha...what Om did was cheesy but I was smiling like an idiot!

Jjinx, nice to have u back, I was startin to wonder where u gone off too


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?
@TubbyTinker: lol yes, I've waited so long to reveal their couple name! Thanks for reading!


Chapter 12

&ldquo;Ahhhh! I already miss the home cooking!&rdquo; Mark declared, splayed across a couch in the lounge. &ldquo;Yo, Mario, let&rsquo;s play some Wii.&rdquo;

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend had ended and everyone had returned to campus, with a slight reluctance, which is understandable, after having enjoyed the leisure of delicious food and a break from studying. But campus was ready to welcome everyone, its lawns tinged with a warm brown and the trees painted in beautiful colors that gave off the effect of warmth, despite the chilling wind.

&ldquo;How was your Thanksgiving?&rdquo; Nadech asked Margie.

&ldquo;It was&hellip;normal,&rdquo; she smiled gently, &ldquo;Yours?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I feel like I gained ten pounds! Mai&rsquo;s mom is too good at cooking,&rdquo; he rubbed his stomach with appreciation.

&ldquo;Heh heh, won&rsquo;t your parents be surprised when their little Esan boy returns home craving gravey and burgers,&rdquo; Mai chuckled mischievously.

&ldquo;No way,&rdquo; he puffed up with pride, &ldquo;Nothing could beat my mom&rsquo;s Esan food.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Is it very different?&rdquo; Margie inquired. She had grown up on Thai food too, but wondered if there was any telling difference from having it in the US instead of Thailand.

Mai looked down at her phone, awaiting a text from Om who was not yet back from visiting his family for the holiday.

&ldquo;Mai, do you have markers I can borrow?&rdquo; Kim asked.

&ldquo;Yeah, hold on.&rdquo; She got up out of the lounge and headed upstairs. Reaching the first landing that led to Clark Hall&rsquo;s lobby, Mai stopped short at the same time as Om, who had just entered the building and obviously been about to go searching for her too.

&ldquo;Hey,&rdquo; she said, smiling.

&ldquo;Hey.&rdquo; Their faces mirrored each other. How did one short holiday without her feel so long, he wondered, as she stepped forward into his open arms. Her warmth combated the cold from outside, making him warm to the tips of his fingers instantly. When she lifted her face, he planted a ready kiss on her lips.

Pulling away, she shyly glanced around, but he didn&rsquo;t give her time to feel embarrassed, leading her up the stairs to his room.

&ldquo;Om, don&rsquo;t you have luggage to get?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll take care of that later&hellip;&rdquo;

An hour later, after they had shared their own little family stories along with thoroughly making up for their kissless days, Om and Mai descended the stairs to get some dinner, fingers intertwined in a firm hold. Their eyes sought out and enjoyed each other&rsquo;s smiles. They passed the group of other friends along the way who had already gone to Subway.

&ldquo;PANDA!&rdquo; Mario shouted at them. &ldquo;Meet us in the lounge later for games!&rdquo;

Kim looked up, suddenly realizing something. &ldquo;Where the heck did Mai disappear to when she was supposed to be getting me markers?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well, you forgot about it yourself,&rdquo; Margie pointed out, and Kim nodded in agreement, as she had mostly been enjoying her turkey sandwich and chocolate chip cookie, while complaining about the pranks her brothers had pulled during break.

&ldquo;Thai lakorn is way better than Korean drama,&rdquo; Kim said, and Yaya nodded beside her.

&ldquo;I know,&rdquo; Beau readily agreed, but persisted with her explanation of why she was recently tuning into more Korean dramas, &ldquo;But sometimes I just like the change from the structure of Thai lakorn, you know? Like the whole, rich guy, poor girl, over-the-top nang rai that annoys the hell out of me stuff.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But that&rsquo;s how it is in most Korean drama anyway,&rdquo; Yaya pointed out.

&ldquo;But there&rsquo;s a bit more variation in the Korean ones,&rdquo; Beau insisted; the book she&rsquo;d brought down to read was forgotten beside her as she and the girls debated over asian dramas.

&ldquo;Uuuuh,&rdquo; Mark looked up with annoyance from his video game that he was now playing with Nadech after Mario and Margie left to go study. &ldquo;Why would you watch Korean stuff when you got awesome Thai entertainment?&rdquo;

&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t even watch lakorn so butt out,&rdquo; Kim said. &ldquo;You wouldn&rsquo;t be able to tell the difference between revenge and slap-kiss.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What?&rdquo; he made a weirded out face. &ldquo;Slap-kiss, why would anyone wanna watch that?&rdquo;

&ldquo;See? You just don&rsquo;t get it, so stop jumping into our deep serious conversation.&rdquo; She rolled her eyes, crossing stuff off of her planner that she had accomplished that day. She was very compulsive about making such lists as it always helped her keep her tasks organized so she didn&rsquo;t forget stuff.

Offended, Mark sat up tall. &ldquo;Oh yeah? Well I bet dramas aren&rsquo;t even all that. I&rsquo;ll prove it to you by WATCHING one.&rdquo;

The girls exchanged looks then burst out laughing.

&ldquo;Yeah right,&rdquo; Yaya chuckled. &ldquo;Mark, you would not last one episode before crawling back to your video games.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh it is AWN!&rdquo; Mark thrust his control at Nadech, &ldquo;Give me your cheesiest, sappiest most dramatic lakorn and I will sit through every single minute of it!&rdquo;

Beau quirked a brow. &ldquo;Heh. Which one should we tell him to watch?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Is that even a question?&rdquo; Mai chirped up.

All at once the girls yelled, &ldquo;Four Hearts of the Mountain!&rdquo;

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s perfect. It has a little bit of everything!&rdquo; Yaya said.

&ldquo;Wait, how can we trust your word though?&rdquo; Kim said suspiciously. &ldquo;You could just be fast forwarding through it all and pretend you watched everything.&rdquo;

Beau said, &ldquo;Then someone has to watch it with him.&rdquo; She looked at Kim. &ldquo;You.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What?!&rdquo; Kim objected. &ldquo;Why me?&rdquo;

&ldquo;You said you&rsquo;re behind anyway, so just catch up with him. The rest of us are going to watch Pathapee Leh Rak.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to make Om watch with me too,&rdquo; Mai laughed. Recently during a free day with Om, she had tried getting him into watching a Thai lakorn, which had ended up in a make out session that made her blush to think back to. Thank goodness Om was a CA and had his own room.

Upstairs, Taew joined Margie in Margie&rsquo;s room to work on homework together. Mario was still there, playing on his laptop. She rolled her eyes.

&ldquo;Hey Taew,&rdquo; Margie greeted. &ldquo;Come in.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Is Hayley not here?&rdquo; Taew asked about Margie&rsquo;s roommate.

&ldquo;She&rsquo;s visiting home and will be back tomorrow. Anyway, I wanted to ask you about this&hellip;&rdquo;

Meanwhile, Mario continued to search random music on youtube. He found one of his favorite look thong songs and laughed, body caught in the light-hearted music, and he turned up the volume, raising his hand and bobbing his head. &ldquo;Hale yeah, this is mah jam!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Can you please turn your fobby music down so I can study?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;S&rsquo;cuuuse you?&rdquo; he rounded on Taew, who, even while sitting down, had her hands on her hips with a fierce attitude of authority.

&ldquo;Can&rsquo;t you see we&rsquo;re working?&rdquo;

He gave her a snarly face before reading his text from Aum on his cell phone.

&ldquo;Where&rsquo;d Mark go?&rdquo;

&ldquo;He and Mario said they were quickly going to buy coffee before coming back. Did you hear too? Aum said he was bringing someone to meet us,&rdquo; Yaya told Nadech. They, along with the rest who were previously downstairs, looked up when a young woman walked into the lobby.

Even in her simple jeans, hip-length jacket and knee-high boots, she still walked gracefully like a model, though without doing it consciously. Her cheeks held traces of a blush, as if December had kissed her, and the snowflakes on her coat looked like bits of cloud, so that she seemed to glow even more beautifully.

&ldquo;Aff!&rdquo; Ploy came down the stairs and hugged the beautiful stranger.

Aum approached the group of underclassmen. &ldquo;Hey guys, did you have a good break?&rdquo; He noticed them all staring intently at the woman and chuckled.

Mai&rsquo;s eyes widened. &ldquo;Hey! I think she&rsquo;s the same woman who I met this morning while working!&rdquo;

Aum nodded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve brought my girlfriend over to meet you guys.&rdquo;

&ldquo;That beautiful goddess is your girlfriend?!&rdquo; Nadech exclaimed with disbelief and awe.

&ldquo;Yup!&rdquo; Aum nodded without hiding his pride.

&ldquo;Heh, come on. Admit it. You hired her didn&rsquo;t you?&rdquo; Kim snickered. &ldquo;Just kidding,&rdquo; she added when Aum glared at her. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just unbelievable.&rdquo;

&ldquo;WHAT is so unbelievable about Aff being my girlfriend?&rdquo; he asked in a droll tone of offense. The whole group was shaking their heads in amazement.

&ldquo;Well I mean looking at her,&rdquo; Taew said with admiration, &ldquo;and look at YOU.&rdquo; Aum&rsquo;s proud grin was wiped off.

&ldquo;What are you trying to say?&rdquo;

&ldquo;She is one of the nicest and smartest ladies I&rsquo;ve ever met. You are so lucky,&rdquo; Mai said, to Aum&rsquo;s satisfaction, which went down the drain when she added, &ldquo;I just wonder why she settled for you.&rdquo;

&ldquo;SETTLED?!&rdquo; Were they trying to say that Aum wasn&rsquo;t good enough for Aff?! &ldquo;Are you guys kidding me?! Who else would be good enough for Aff if not me?!&rdquo;

&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t mean that,&rdquo; Yaya said, &ldquo;We&rsquo;re just happy for you, that&rsquo;s all.&rdquo; Aum once again softened with happiness at his little friends&hellip;until Yaya added, &ldquo;I mean, we didn&rsquo;t think you&rsquo;d ever get a girlfriend.&rdquo;

It wasn&rsquo;t that Aum wasn&rsquo;t a good guy. In fact, it could be admitted that he made a great friend, always up for a joke or party, and despite his sometimes cocky remarks, he was as much of a role model as he could be to the underclassmen. And he was good looking, well-rounded and smart. But he was almost too much of an older brother for them to believe easily that he could have a girlfriend.

&ldquo;Who has a girlfriend?&rdquo; Mario asked as he and Mark returned with their coffees.

&ldquo;You&rsquo;ll never guess&mdash;Aum has a girlfriend!&rdquo; Kim announced.

&ldquo;Oh I knew that,&rdquo; Mario shrugged, always one to keep up with his friends&rsquo; relationship statuses.

&ldquo;Hey guys, check out that sexy fox over there. You think I should go talk to her?&rdquo; Mark asked. They looked and found his finger pointing at none other than Aum&rsquo;s surreal lover. Aum&rsquo;s eyes narrowed with danger at the unfortunate Mark.

&ldquo;SHE is MY girlfriend,&rdquo; he growled.

Mario snorted into his cup. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know THAT!&rdquo; His head whipped back and forth between the goddess and the fuming Aum. &ldquo;Are you sure&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;ARGH!&rdquo; Aum stomped off.

&ldquo;She had the semester abroad in England,&rdquo; Ploy explained. &ldquo;Their semesters start and end earlier than ours, and now she&rsquo;s back!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uh, I can explain for my own girlfriend, thank you very much,&rdquo; Aum said, sitting on the other side of Aff, making challenging faces at Ploy, who happened to be best friends with Aff.

Aff chuckled good-naturedly. Apparently she was used to these bickers between her bf and bff. &ldquo;I can explain for myself, thanks.&rdquo;

&ldquo;How was it?&rdquo; Taew asked. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve always wanted to study abroad.&rdquo;

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an amazing and irreplaceable adventure. You all need to do it if you have even the smallest interest!&rdquo; Aff said. Just as everyone had been able to see Ploy as a role model, the freshmen immediately took a strong liking and admiration to Aff as she told them what she&rsquo;d seen and done who she&rsquo;d met.

&ldquo;Aff, are you living on campus?&rdquo; Yaya asked.

&ldquo;No, she&rsquo;s living with me,&rdquo; Aum grinned cheesily. He hugged her hard, not caring about the watching eyes, just so glad to have her back in his arms. She was his favorite person in the world and owed a lot of his happiness to her. Everyone watching felt touched by their affectionate display.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been looking into the semester abroad in England,&rdquo; Yaya said later as they sprawled in her room. &ldquo;We get to study at Oxford there! I really want to do it.&rdquo;

&ldquo;England would be so cool,&rdquo; Mai agreed with a sigh. &ldquo;Argh, I can&rsquo;t decide between England or South Africa. And then there&rsquo;s Germany and South Korea and Australia too! There&rsquo;s too many choices!&rdquo; she wailed, always having had a hard time when deciding between many desirable choices. &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s go to all of them!&rdquo;

Kim snorted. &ldquo;Yeah. If only I was rich enough. You know,&rdquo; she sat up by the desk, &ldquo;why don&rsquo;t we all study abroad at the same time? That way we when we all get back, we&rsquo;ll be together.&rdquo;

Margie sighed. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll all have to tell me about everything you see. My parents would never let me go out of the country.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, but you must convince them!&rdquo; Yaya said. &ldquo;Besides, this is for your education. There can&rsquo;t be any serious objection against THAT.&rdquo; To Yaya, there was never a better reason to do something new or outrageous as long as it was for gaining knowledge. &ldquo;Imagine all the things you&rsquo;d learn.&rdquo;

Margie nodded sadly. She would love to be able to experience new cultures and really be out there in the world, but she was also hesitant to leave the comfort of her home. Being independent was so challenging; but she couldn&rsquo;t deny that since college had began, she had grown more and more used to her freedom and the responsibility of making her decisions. She also had a secret yearning to visit Japan, and Lawrence happened to have a program abroad there.

&ldquo;Well, I&rsquo;m going for sure,&rdquo; Taew declared. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve toured Europe before and have always wanted to get to know the education system there.&rdquo;

Mark tried to keep his mouth shut. He pressed his lips together hard, keeping his eyes on the screen. But in the end&hellip;

&ldquo;AUGH! I can&rsquo;t do this anymore!&rdquo; He stood up, hands holding the sides of his head. &ldquo;How can you take so many hours of watching such overly-dramatic stuff like this!? It&rsquo;s so&hellip;so&hellip;eck!&rdquo; He had endured a week of the Thai lakorn the girls picked out for him and was almost done with Duang Jai Akkanee, but tonight, he needed a break.

Kim leaned back in her chair. &ldquo;Do you give up?&rdquo;

He gave her a pained expression, not wanting to admit defeat but also not wanting to watch any more. &ldquo;J-just a ten minute break. Please!&rdquo; He stomped out. &ldquo;O! Hey, are you here?&rdquo;

&ldquo;He&rsquo;s over in Mai and Yaya&rsquo;s room, watching the new episodes of the third series.&rdquo;

&ldquo;What!&rdquo; To confirm this, Mark ran over and witnessed it for himself. Sure enough, there was his roommate lying on Yaya&rsquo;s bunk and spazzing out about Din and Cha-aim.

&ldquo;You watch lakorn too?&rdquo;

Mario looked up, puzzled. &ldquo;Uh, yeah?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Who do you think was most excited about this new four series lakorn?&rdquo; Kim laughed quietly.

&ldquo;Shhhh!&rdquo; Yaya hushed them so she could hear the screen. Meanwhile, Aff was braiding her hair, as Ploy munched on chips with Mai and Beau.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really snowing a lot!&rdquo; Beau hooted gleefully as she and Yaya pranced under the light flakes drifting down.

&ldquo;Oh man,&rdquo; Kim groaned, &ldquo;great, and I was starting to have false hopes that we wouldn&rsquo;t have heavy snow.&rdquo;

&ldquo;How long have you lived in the Midwest? You should be smarter,&rdquo; Mario said.

&ldquo;How can you guys not like the snow? It&rsquo;s so pretty! And romantic!&rdquo; Taew danced around under the fluttering flakes falling in swirls. &ldquo;See?&rdquo; She nudged her chin where Om and Mai were strolling, as he tucked Mai&rsquo;s coat around her chin before taking her hand again.

&ldquo;Oh, we WILL see,&rdquo; Mario said sarcastically. He knew Taew was from California and never endured the brutal winters of Wisconsin before. &ldquo;Wth!?&rdquo; He whipped around to see Great run off with a laugh after having hit Mario with a snowball. Soon, there was a full out snowball fight that pretty much cleared up the snow on Clark Hall&rsquo;s lawn, since it was the first falling of the season.

Everyone gathered inside for some hot chocolate.

&ldquo;Hey, who started the snowball fight anyway?&rdquo; Mario asked.

&ldquo;Wasn&rsquo;t me,&rdquo; Mark said.

Margie hid a sneaky smile. She had been the one to throw a snowball at Aum while he wasn&rsquo;t looking and then hurried away to the side, so that when he turned around, all he saw was Great. She didn&rsquo;t notice Yaya noting her smile, but Yaya just pleasantly giggled silently. Margie was such a sweetheart, it was funny to think she had initiated the battle.

Om turned back to the front again. &ldquo;Glad we steered clear of that mess,&rdquo; he referred to the snow war going on behind them. But next thing he knew, his neck experienced an iciness sliding down inside his coat. Mai was already several steps in front of him, preparing another snowball, her laughter ringing out in the clear air.

&ldquo;Did you think you could really get away from it?&rdquo; she mischievously packed her snowball firmly.

He eyed her narrowly, scooped up some snow, dodged her attack and ran after her.

&ldquo;I give up!&rdquo; Mai yelled in between her bouts of giggles, while Om held her from behind, arms wrapped tightly around her, also caught up in the giddy atmosphere. They found themselves overlooking the frozen river behind one of the buildings.

Mai sighed in satisfaction at the view before turning around. She found Om had sandwiched her between himself and the railing, his hands on either side of her. It was at times like this, when he was looking at her like he was content to feast his eyes, his lips lifted in that half-smile as if he was enjoying a vivid dream, that made her heart nearly pound its way out of her chest. The cold was brutal, but it had not numbed her cheeks enough to not feel his butterfly kisses as he leaned ever so close to her, caught up in her essence. And just when they could both no longer bear it, he tilted his head and she opened her lips for his kiss.

Margie was still flushed about the snowball fight as she went in early for her drawing class. Surprisingly, her usual stool was occupied&mdash;by a poinsettia flower. She gingerly picked it up. Did someone leave it behind?

&ldquo;Interesting,&rdquo; Mario rubbed his chin, examining the flower.

&ldquo;I wonder who gave it to you,&rdquo; Kim said, looking up from trying to turn a page of her Glamour magazine while her nails were wet with nail polish.

&ldquo;It might have just been left by a student,&rdquo; Margie suggested.

&ldquo;Have you noticed anyone interested in you?&rdquo; Kim asked.

&ldquo;No&hellip;Although,&rdquo; Margie bit her lip in embarrassment, &ldquo;this isn&rsquo;t the first time I got something.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Really?&rdquo; Mario looked up, &ldquo;What happened before.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nothing really. Just&hellip;I ran out of yellow paint and the next time I went to class, there was a new tube with my name on it on my easel. I asked a few of the people but it wasn&rsquo;t theirs.&rdquo;

&ldquo;If it had your name on it, then it must have been given to you,&rdquo; Kim said with a duh. &ldquo;Looks like you&rsquo;ve got a secret admirer.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Interesting&hellip;&rdquo; Mario repeated, but with suspicion this time.

Finals week was looming around the weekend, and everyone was studying hard to complete their first college semester strong.

Once the grueling week was over with, everyone said their temporary farewells as they parted to visit their homes and families.

"I have a girlfriend. Better believe it!"

"Yoohoo! Join us for some 4 Hearts episodes!"

"Who is it that is secretly admiring me? Hmm..."


sarNie Egg
Omg! Loved this update! I loved that Aff was in here and is Aum's girlfriend! Oh my only in ff can we imagine them together! Thank you soooooo much! All my faves are in here! My Ateam fever just kicked in after reading this update......must rewatch Roy Mai now.


You're Average Person :)
ooooh so funny how they're watching 4Huajai when most of them are in it hahahaahh
awww PANDA couple...sweet liek always...hmm I do wonder whos Margie's secret admirer, I think I know but will keep mum to see if im right later on

thanks jjinx for another great chapter!


Is your "nom" Fai-approved?

Nadech and Mark were in Mark&rsquo;s room where Mario had set up a mini Christmas tree complete with lights and candy canes ornamenting it, as it stood beside the frosted window, truly bringing out holiday feel.

&ldquo;Wait, so you&rsquo;re telling me this&hellip;this Christmas ordeal is a holiday celebrating the birth of a god of a different religion?&rdquo; Nadech inquired from Mark as they sipped hot chocolate.

&ldquo;Um, basically, yeah,&rdquo; Mark answered. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually the god&rsquo;s son who was born on that day. Why? Haven&rsquo;t you ever celebrated Christmas before?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve never even heard of Christmas before.&rdquo;

Pfffrrt! Mark spewed his drink. &ldquo;WHAT? How can you not have heard of Christmas? Doesn&rsquo;t everyone know about Christmas? I mean, even people who aren&rsquo;t Christians know about Christmas.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So these Christian people believe in Christmas.&rdquo;

&ldquo;No, well I mean yes, but what they believe in is God. You know?...&rdquo; Mark squinted one eye at Nadech who squinted back uncertainly, &ldquo;&hellip;No? Seriously?" Wow, Mark had never even considered that there were kids who never felt the anticipation of Christmas and snow and gifts and all that stuff before. For a moment, he looked upon Nadech with eyes of pity. Poor guy, his parents must be real strict, though from what he'd heard from Mai, he wouldn't have guessed it.

&ldquo;But what god?&rdquo; Nadech asked seriously. &ldquo;Like, there are thousands of gods out there.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Christians believe in their one and only one god. And his name is just...God.&rdquo; Mark shrugged.

&ldquo;Oooooh. But&hellip;okay getting back to Christmas. I thought you were Buddhist. How come you celebrate a different religion&rsquo;s holiday?&rdquo;

Mark opened his mouth to answer, but paused. &ldquo;Huh.&rdquo; He looked around the room, but discovered that he had no idea why this tradition was seeped so deeply in his life either when he was indeed a Buddhist. &ldquo;Well&hellip;I-I guess because&hellip;it&rsquo;s fun?&rdquo; He blinked in bewilderment. WTH. &ldquo;So you seriously don&rsquo;t know about Christmas dude?&rdquo;

Nadech shook his head. &ldquo;I was raised really strictly in the Buddhist teachings so new ideas sound rather bizarre&mdash;not that I have anything against them &lsquo;cause people have their own beliefs, y&rsquo;know. I know there are other religions out there but I don&rsquo;t know about them in detail or anything. And it&rsquo;s just weird to me, I guess, this whole gift under the tree thing. I mean, why a tree? And why this tree? Although I does look cute.&rdquo;

He tilted his head as he observed the mini pine tree while Mark shook his head in pity. &ldquo;Did they always decorate it with lights?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they had electricity when Christ was born,&rdquo; Mark said. &ldquo;And the actual trees we use are real big ones.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So are the gifts sacrificed to Christ then?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Wha&mdash;huh? Nooo,&rdquo; Mark said, clearly appalled, &ldquo;The guy&rsquo;s dead, what good is giving him gifts? No my friend, those gifts are for us. Santa brings them down the chimney on Christmas Eve when we&rsquo;re all sleeping,&rdquo; he chuckled.

&ldquo;Who&rsquo;s Santa? Why don&rsquo;t the gifts come from their god instead?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uhhhhh&hellip;&rdquo; Mark&rsquo;s mouth hung open, &ldquo;because it&rsquo;s always been Santa who brings them.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Is Santa like, the god&rsquo;s brother or something?&rdquo;

&ldquo;No, they&rsquo;re not related. Santa is a fat guy in a red suit who lives in the North Pole with elves and rides his reindeer around the world giving toys to kids.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So we don&rsquo;t actually get presents since we&rsquo;re not kids.&rdquo;

&ldquo;No, everyone gets presents.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But what if I don&rsquo;t want a toy?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Then he&rsquo;ll bring you what you want.&rdquo;

&ldquo;How will he know what I want? Is he psychic? And is he that rich?&rdquo;

He could tell this was not making sense to Nadech.

&ldquo;Damn, I dunno all these things.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Wait,&rdquo; Nadech eyed Mark with a frown, &ldquo;So in reality, Santa only give gifts to people who know about the Christian god, because I&rsquo;ve never gotten a present on December 25[sup]th[/sup] before. That&rsquo;s not fair, that&rsquo;s favoritism. You don&rsquo;t even believe in the Christian god and you still get a present.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Uhhhh&hellip;but look! Now you know about him, so Santa will definitely bring you a present!&rdquo; Mark enthusiastically encouraged.

Nadech thought about it for a minute, mouth contorted and finger rubbing his chin. &ldquo;Works for me!&rdquo; he said at last, much to Mark&rsquo;s relief. &ldquo;So now what? I&rsquo;ll really get a present? How should I tell Santa? Oh! Should I think real hard about it and my brain waves will travel to the North Pole?&rdquo;


&ldquo;Wait.&rdquo; Nadech looked crestfallen. &ldquo;But we don&rsquo;t have a chimney here at the dorm. How will Santa get in? Oh my gosh, we&rsquo;re not going to get Christmas presents!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Calm down. Not all houses have chimneys. Santa has like, magic I guess,&rdquo; Mark stated uncertainly, though it seemed to make Nadech feel better.

&ldquo;This is great! This is probably the greatest thing ever! Thanks for bringing me into the wonderful, magical world of Santa, Mark! I&rsquo;m going to go make a list of what I want!&rdquo; Nadech skipped out.

&ldquo;Whew.&rdquo; Mark shook his head as if he&rsquo;d been interrogated by the CIA. &ldquo;Whoa, hold on. Shit!&rdquo; he exclaimed, realizing that he had just built up Nadech&rsquo;s dream of Santa&hellip;who didn&rsquo;t exist.

Mark walked down the stairs to hear Nadech and Beau talking.

&ldquo;&hellip;and a high def camera, and a lifetime supply of ice cream!&rdquo; Nadech finished off excitedly after reading his gift list.

&ldquo;I dunno Nadech,&rdquo; Beau said, &ldquo;I mean, that&rsquo;s a rather long list.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Well Santa has about nineteen years of presents to make up for, so it&rsquo;s all good.&rdquo;

&ldquo;But have you been good enough for all those?&rdquo; Beau asked.

Nadech pondered. &ldquo;Well I guess I&rsquo;ll find out huh?&rdquo; he laughed in a jolly manner, rather confidently.

&ldquo;I was actually thinking about us all doing Secret Santa this year, because I definitely don&rsquo;t have enough money for all you guys.&rdquo;

Nadech said, &ldquo;Well you don&rsquo;t have to worry&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;Uh!&rdquo; Mark quickly slipped in between them, &ldquo;Yeah Beau, don&rsquo;t worry. Santa&rsquo;s got this covered.&rdquo;

Beau quirked one brow wryly at him before snickering, &ldquo;Come on Mark, you know Santa doesn&rsquo;t ex&mdash;&ldquo;

&ldquo;Expect us to be disappointed!&rdquo; Mark cut her off. &ldquo;Right?&rdquo;

&ldquo;What&rsquo;s Secret Santa?&rdquo; Nadech asked.


&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a really stupid game, just forget about it.&rdquo;

Beau&rsquo;s jaw dropped, offended, before she turned and marched away.

&ldquo;I mean&hellip;&rdquo; Mark guiltily watched her go.

&ldquo;Anyway, I heard Yaya telling Mai about how she used to set out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve when she was younger. I wonder why she stopped,&rdquo; Nadech said, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure Santa would get hungry after going around the world in one night. That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m going to bake cookies for him and set it out before I go to bed!&rdquo;

Mark looked like he was in agony as he watched Nadech&rsquo;s bright eyes that sparkled with anticipation, just like a child&rsquo;s. He didn&rsquo;t have the courage to disappoint his friend. It was all his fault.

&ldquo;Why do you want to bake cookies all of a sudden?&rdquo; Kim asked.

&ldquo;For Santa, duh,&rdquo; Nadech said, slipping a tray of cookie dough into the oven. &ldquo;I have to perfect my baking so they&rsquo;re worthy of offering to Santa when it&rsquo;s time. And I&rsquo;m going to witness just how much he enjoys my cookies because I&rsquo;m going to stay awake all night on Christmas Eve so I can meet him.&rdquo;

Kim snorted. Mark prayed that she kept her mouth shut and just thought the guys were being pigs and wanting junk food and that she thought Nadech was joking.

Crap, is he really going to stay up? Nadech was such a soft-hearted guy, what if he was so crushed by the disappointment that he became depressed or didn&rsquo;t want to talk to Mark anymore???

&ldquo;What&rsquo;s up with you?&rdquo; she asked sharply, seeing him so restless. &ldquo;Can&rsquo;t you sit still for even a minute?&rdquo;

He didn&rsquo;t even try to retort with an insult or something suggestive like &lsquo;Bet you&rsquo;d love that so you could pounce on me&rsquo; like usual, but was too stressed over what would happen. Then the answer came to him.

&ldquo;Duh!&rdquo; he laughed out loud in relief. &ldquo;Nadech, we&rsquo;re going to the mall!&rdquo;

&ldquo;Okay, meet back here in an hour,&rdquo; Mario said, glancing at his watch. &ldquo;Man, if I wasn&rsquo;t me, it would be freaking hard to find presents that&rsquo;ll please all five of my sisters,&rdquo; he grumbled as he walked away.

&ldquo;Why is O getting his sisters gifts when Santa&rsquo;s going to do it?&rdquo; Nadech asked. &ldquo;Or maybe it&rsquo;s for their birthdays?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Right. Nadech, come on.&rdquo; He dragged Nadech to where the there was a crowd and line.

&ldquo;Where are we going?&rdquo;

&ldquo;To meet Santa.&rdquo; Mark thought himself quite clever. If he got Nadech to meet the mall Santa, then Nadech would stop expecting Santa to appear on Christmas Eve. This should be able to satisfy Nadech&rsquo;s curiosity. Mark looked over to see Nadech grimly crossing his arms. &ldquo;W-what?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Do you really think you can fool me?&rdquo;

Mark gulped. &ldquo;I just&hellip;what do you mean?&rdquo;

&ldquo;THAT&rsquo;s not Santa,&rdquo; Nadech pointed in hushed voice. &ldquo;Taew told me that the Santa&rsquo;s at the malls here are only fake ones so that the little kids will be happy. But I&rsquo;m a big boy,&rdquo; he pointed his thumb at his chest proudly, &ldquo;I can tell that the real Santa would never appear before Christmas.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Oh, since when did you become so knowledgeable about Christmas&hellip;&rdquo; Mark said weakly, before snapping to attention. &ldquo;What else did Taew say?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nothing. She started sharing her own list, but it was full of girl things like dresses and make up. Not like she doesn&rsquo;t have enough of it,&rdquo; Nadech said wonderingly, &ldquo;and the girls could just share that stuff since they all have about a house full of clothes and fifty pounds of makeup each, so Santa can take care of other gifts. Right?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; Mark said miserably, &ldquo;Tell me about it.&rdquo;

&ldquo;Come on. I owe Yaya a box of candy.&rdquo;

Mark sighed as holiday music played softly all around them.

Mark&rsquo;s footsteps weighed a ton as he pondered the task before him. He had to tell Nadech the truth. It was his duty to his friend to let him down gently. For goodness&rsquo; sake, Nadech had been so excited he even sprinkled &ldquo;reindeer food&rdquo; on Clark Hall&rsquo;s front lawn. Om&rsquo;s little elementary-aged sister had visited during a hockey game and shared the secret food with him apparently.

Nadech had claimed with a wide grin, &ldquo;Even though we&rsquo;re not going to be here, some students are staying here for break, so this should attract the reindeer in case Santa forgets to drop by.&rdquo;

Mark face-palmed himself, before straightening up and looking himself in the bathroom mirror. He wore a red fur suit and rubbed at his chin where the fake white beard made it itch before donning the trademark hat.

Mark had left Nadech a message in his room to come down to the lounge at 3am, though he wasn&rsquo;t sure if Nadech would do it, but that was the only time he was sure the lounge would be empty.

Holiday decorations from several different religions had been set up in the lounge to honor every different religion, so a large fir tree had been included in one of the corners with fake present boxes underneath and lights sparkling around the branches.

Mark faced the tree in the semi-darkness, waiting apprehensively for Nadech. This was his last chance, since tomorrow was the last day of the semester, and thankfully Nadech still had one more final to take so he wouldn&rsquo;t be leaving yet. Mark had resorted to this plan in order to maintain Nadech&rsquo;s innocence of Christmas.

He heard footsteps behind him.


Mark braced himself, putting on his best Santa personification. &ldquo;HO HO HO!&rdquo;

&ldquo;But,&rdquo; Nadech looked innocently perplexed in the light reflected from the decorative lights. &ldquo;What are you doing here? It&rsquo;s not Christmas yet.&rdquo;

&ldquo;W-well, you&rsquo;re right sonny. The thing is, I sometimes make visits ahead of time. Christmas is a stressful business and I&rsquo;m a busy man, you understand don&rsquo;t you?&rdquo;

&ldquo;I guess you&rsquo;re right.&rdquo;

&ldquo;You won&rsquo;t reveal my secret will you?&rdquo;

&ldquo;No. Do I get my present now then?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Erm,&rdquo; Mark made his voice lower, &ldquo;I actually came to give you a lesson about the joys of Christmas. I see that you&rsquo;re a good young man who has great faith. But let me tell you, the best part of Christmas is the warmth and love of those around you, and exchanging gifts with your own families.&rdquo;

&ldquo;So&hellip;do I get a gift or not?&rdquo; Nadech asked, frowning.

Mark-Santa coughed gruffly. &ldquo;As&hellip;as you mentioned, it&rsquo;s not quite Christmas yet. B-but I do believe that your wonderful friend Mark&mdash;such a splendid young man&mdash;has a gift for you, if only you wait patiently.&rdquo;

Nadech crossed his arms sternly. &ldquo;Is this because I&rsquo;m a Buddhist?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Huh?&rdquo; Mark quickly reminded himself to be Santa. &ldquo;W-what put that idea in your head son?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Nevermind, I knew it was too good to be true! Santa would never bring me a gift when I&rsquo;ve only known about him for a few short weeks. Mark lied to me! He gave me such high hopes and now you&rsquo;re going to tell me that I don&rsquo;t deserve a Christmas gift because I&rsquo;m Buddhist!&rdquo; Nadech wailed and turned around.

&ldquo;Nadech! Wait!&rdquo; Mark shouted desperately, so filled with dread and guilt that he even ripped off his fake beard. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry! Santa&rsquo;s not even real I&rsquo;m sorry I didn&rsquo;t tell you the truth!&rdquo;

Nadech gasped at the sight of Mark. &ldquo;You really did lie!&rdquo;

&ldquo;I just didn&rsquo;t want to disappoint you. Forgive me, I&rsquo;m such a horrible friend!&rdquo;

Nadech&rsquo;s shaking sobs continued&hellip;except they didn&rsquo;t sound like sobs. Mark had one hand on his friend&rsquo;s shoulders before he realized that Nadech was actually laughing. And then Nadech threw back his head and chuckled loudly.

&ldquo;Man, you should see your face.&rdquo;

&ldquo;He should see all of him,&rdquo; Mario appeared, turning on the light, laughing too.

&ldquo;W&hellip;what&hellip;the&hellip;hell?&rdquo; Mark stumbled at the sight of those two.

&ldquo;Oh, I am so going to use these as the covers for my Christmas cards.&rdquo; Mario looked down at his camera.

Mark grabbed it from him and found his Santa self staring back from the screen of the small digital camera. &ldquo;When did you take this???&rdquo;

&ldquo;A few minutes ago.&rdquo; Mario reclaimed his camera.

&ldquo;You&hellip;you knew all along?!&rdquo; Mark asked Nadech.

&ldquo;How did you actually make him believe that you thought Santa was real?&rdquo; O asked.

Nadech shrugged. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m surprised too.&rdquo;

Mark glared at him. &ldquo;You are such a little&hellip;&rdquo;

&ldquo;It was just for fun,&rdquo; Nadech said, doe-eyed, &ldquo;And really, it&rsquo;s your own fault that you got that worked up over it.&rdquo;

Mark huffed. &ldquo;Whatever. DON&rsquo;T show that picture to anyone.&rdquo;

&ldquo;No? Sure you don&rsquo;t want to send it with an application for a mall Santa?&rdquo; Mario snickered.

&ldquo;I&rsquo;m serious O.&rdquo;

Nadech took a deep breath to fill his lungs after his laughter, &ldquo;Okay, I&rsquo;m sorry. But you were pretty funny when you ripped your beard off. The kids wouldn&rsquo;t have reacted to that as well as I did. Just consider this as your gift to us okay?&rdquo;

&ldquo;Yeah, the gift of laughter,&rdquo; Mario said, &ldquo;What could be better? I&rsquo;ll be laughing &lsquo;til the end of break. My family will think I&rsquo;ve gone crazy. Come on, one picture of this night, before the CA comes questioning why Mark impersonated old St. Nick.&rdquo;

Mark adjusted the hat on his head with all the dignity of a real Santa. &ldquo;Hmph. You should be thankful I went to the trouble.&rdquo;

&ldquo;I know,&rdquo; Nadech replied, &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a true friend.&rdquo;

They snapped one photo in remembrance.

It's nowhere near Christmas, but I'm keeping true to the timeline of the story. Anyway, I still don't have dependable internet--not much of an excuse really--and I apologize for such wide gaps between updates, I understand that readers don't favor it but if you're keeping up, it's much appreciated.