Music could be heard all the way from the dining hall, echoing loudly in the woods. Spotting the soft glow of colored lights from a distance, Mitch used them as a guide while he wandered through the dark. Less than several feet into the trek, he cursed about wearing heels on soft ground and the flimsy fabric which did nothing to protect against the cold.
“Hey little girl,” came a try-hard husky voice from nearby, which Mitch instantly recognized. “You lost?”
“Ha ha,” Mitch deadpanned and squinted, making out Nate’s form. “I should’ve brought normal shoes and changed when I got there. Can’t run in heels, never developed that skill.”
“Want a lift?” offered Nate, already crouched down in front of Mitch before being given an answer.
“Fuck it. Yes, please,” laughed Mitch. He approached Nate’s back and grabbed onto his shoulders, then went pliant as arms hooked under his legs. Upon closer inspection, he could see that Nate wore a disheveled wig with pointed ears poking out from underneath it, and thick sideburns attached to the side of his face. He huffed in disbelief. “Are you really a werewolf?”
“Teen Wolf. The Michael J. Fox version, not the show. Hence the letterman jacket?” Nate stood up straight again, and craned his neck enough to see Mitch from the corner of his eye. “In hindsight, I realize how funny of a coincidence this is.”
“Oh, is it a coincidence?” teased Mitch.
“You’re right, you caught me. My elaborate scheme was to workshop the idea that we do the couple thing next year. You be Little Red Riding Hood, and I’ll be the Big Bad Wolf?”
“It’s adorable that you think Jodie would let me be anyone else’s girl,” Mitch snorted.
“Worth a shot,” was all Nate said as he walked forward. Relaxing against the wide expanse his back, Mitch swore that the silence which fell over them was supposed to be awkward, but he didn’t possess the bandwidth to dissect it. Instead, he focused on absorbing as much of Nate’s body heat that bled through the jacket.
Maybe someday, this wack energy would be clarified once and for all. If Nate could be anything beyond a potential hookup in the future, Mitch had no idea, but he could be swayed. He committed himself in the past for less, and after the many free rugelach pastries that Nate supplied him from his family’s bakery, Mitch knew that he should probably put out at some point.
The walk to the dining hall took no time thanks to Nate’s freakishly long legs, and once they reached the doorway, Mitch slid off oh his back. “Thanks for the ride,” he quietly remarked.
“Yeah, of course,” Nate responded, voice distant as though it’d been thrown from a summit of a mountain whose layers were made of things that went unsaid. It’d always been like that. The urge to speak up swelled: to suggest that they not go in at all and take off, to see what trouble they could get into. But Mitch said nothing and continued to not breach the tension, because then the thrill of it all would vanish. Besides, Nate had three years now to make his move, or at least throw out feelers, and Mitch considered himself done with pursuing anyone for the immediate future. So, no dice.
“Well,” he broke the silence, “I’m heading inside. Thanks for the ride.” The insinuation hung heavy, but he didn’t care.
“You’re welcome,” Nate eventually responded after some bottom lip worrying. “You uh,” he started once MItch’s back was turned to him. “You look great, by the way.”
Mitch turned his head enough to look behind, flashed a grin and replied with, “Yeah, I know.” If that was supposed to be the pickup line, it wasn’t enough. Nate’s smile had gone from playful to small and unsure, clearly processing that his comment wasn’t quite a slam dunk. But before anything else could be said, a retcon or further elaboration or any other method to smooth it over, Mitch slipped away.