Kongpob had just finish his last class of the day when the need to see P’Arthit is like a tick under his skin scratching away relentlessly. He still couldn’t believe that just a week ago he had kissed the man of his dreams and he had agreed to be his boyfriend.
Sometimes Kongpob wonders if he is locked inside some type of fairytale dream that he is honestly afraid to wake up from. His friends walks ahead of him and their words just fly pass him as he takes out his phone and shoots his now boyfriend a quick text.
‘I’m hungry. Want to go to the noodle stand?’
“Oi, Kong! You coming?” Em Shouts and Kongpob realizes that everyone is looking at him funny with his phone clutched tightly in his hands.
“Where are we going?” Kongpob asks casually because he has no clue.
“Weren’t you listening to anything we’ve been saying?” Ma-Prang asks, simultaneously rolling her eyes.
“No, I haven’t,” Kongpob answers while walking over to them.
“Figures,” Oak sighs. “We want to go cruising for chicks and you’re lost in your phone.”
“What!?” May cries out and everyone else makes some declaration of indignation at Oak’s statement.
“We are not going to cruise for chicks, we were going to get something to eat. What do you say, Ai’Kong?” Praepailin answers.
Kongpob was about to answer when his phone chimes to indicates he has received a message. He quickly looks at it before smiling at the response on the screen.
‘Sure. I’ll meet you there in 15.’
“Sorry guys, I have other plans,” Kongpob tosses at his friends while he walks away hurriedly.
He doesn’t notice his friends whispering and laughing at him that he’s behaving like a love struck teenager who just got a text from his crush.
They have no idea how right they are.
It takes Kongpob a total of eight minutes to walk to their favorite noodle shop. . He’s so looking forward to seeing his boyfriend (and the thought overly excites him that he even gets the chance to think of P’Arthit that way), that he manages to look through the window as he makes his way towards the front entrance. It takes him a split millisecond of recognition to spot his boyfriend’s outline, his slick back hair and fine profile sitting around a table. His smile is about to split his face until he realizes there is a woman sitting across from his boyfriend with her back to him. He has no idea who it is but from the smile on Arthit’s face he can tell it’s someone he’s close to.
He doesn’t like it at all.
Kongpob takes them in, watching the casual way they are so familiar with each other, a hint of something more than friendship just beneath the surface. He grips the strap of his bag with both hands, wringing the nonexistent life from the fabric. They talk and smile and keep gravitating towards each other like a flower opening up to the sun.
Then she touches Arthit’s arm with a coy smile on her face and Kongpob doesn’t realize he’s thrown the door open and stormed inside.
“Oh, here he is, Kongpob!” Arthit shouts, waving him over while he approaches.
As soon as Kongpob is sitting beside his boyfriend he takes a good look at the girl. She’s pretty, a little too pretty for his liking and for the umpteenth time he wonders who she is.
“Kongpob, this is Namtarn. Namtarn, meet Kongpob,” Arthit greets a little too cheerily for Kongpob’s liking but he bows in greeting to her anyway. His heart sinks when Arthit tells him her name. It is the same girl that had his boyfriend’s heart first. The same girl that he feels still holds a piece of it to this day and he doesn’t like the old crush getting cozy with his boyfriend at their new favorite hangout spot.
Arthit had told him a little bit about his first crush one night and though he knows she calls every now and again Arthit has never answered the phone around him so he did not put too much thought into it. But now seeing how they are together...
“It’s very nice to meet you N’Kong.”
She bows and Kongpob nods in reply.
“So…” Arthit picks up immediately. “Namtarn, did you manage to work things out with Jay?”
It was so abrupt Kongpob looks at his boyfriend when he speaks, it feels like he’s being brushed off all of a sudden and something tightens in his chest painfully. Is he being ignored?
Arthit’s smile melts seamlessly into a concerned frown and Kongpob looks over at Namtarn, who has her eyes downcast and her lips trembling. She takes a deep breath before looking up at Arthit with a forced smile.
“No, Ai-Oon. I didn’t.”
She looks about ready to fall apart at the seams and Arthit grabs her hand across the table, squeezing it tightly in solidarity and Kongpob feels like there is lead weight in his stomach. Watching them, it feels like seeing old lovers reuniting in a romantic drama.
“I’m really sorry,” Arthit manages solemnly and Kongpob feels like he is the third wheel, the odd man out and not her. This should be their moment at their place and he isn’t a part of it. How can he ever think to compete with such an old love like theirs?
“You know…If he hadn’t confessed first…” Namtarn whispers, but Kongpob heard it loud and clear.
“What?” Arthit asks, all innocence and naiveté, like he doesn’t realize she would choose him if given another chance and Kongpob couldn’t hold it in any longer.
They both startle and look at him with wide eyes. Namtarn in confused disbelief and Arthit in fear.
“What? I thought you said you didn’t have a girlfriend?” She directs at his boyfriend, looking to him for clarification.
“He doesn’t,” Kongpob points out knowingly and he sees Arthit’s eyes cut to his in anger. He looks back at Namtarn and spell it out for her without actually saying it. “He doesn’t have a girlfriend but he’s taken.”
“Kongpob!” Arthit’s angry shout have people in the shop looking at the three of them but he doesn’t care. If anybody has any chance of ever taking his boyfriend away from him it’s this girl and he’s not losing his newfound love without a fight.
“What does he mean, Ai’Oon?”
She knows but she wants to hear Arthit say it. Kongpob doesn’t want to anger his boyfriend but Namtarn needs to go.
“H-here is your food.”
The waiter hesitantly comes over with a tray and nobody cares. The tension is up to one hundred when Namtarn calmly asks Arthit, “Who is he to you, Ai’Oon?”
“Nobody,” Arthit answers so calmly and bitterly it washes over Kongpob like a bucket of ice water.
Without realizing it Kongpob pushes his chair back and stands to leave.
“I have something to do, I’ll go back first.”
He directs it at his
boyfriend acquaintance and he totally ignores Namtarn while he turns and stalks away.
Maybe he was right and he is about to wake up from what he thought was his very own fairytale where he gets the guy and lives happily ever after.
He hears Arthit calling after him, regret in his tone but he doesn’t look back, afraid he will turn to salt.
It takes a grand total of thirty minutes for P’Arthit to reach his apartment. Kongpob doesn’t feel insecure and a lot bitter, he really doesn’t. Except for where he really, really does. If he has to go from thinking of P’Arthit as his boyfriend to just his Senior, then there is nothing he can do about it.
He can’t tell P’Arthit who to like, unfortunately. Especially since he’s nobody to him.
The door closes softly and then P’Arthit’s footfalls get steadily closer. He doesn’t stop gazing at the ceiling.
“I was calling you, why did you run away?” Arthit asks softly.
It’s so far from the explosive behavior Kongpob is expecting he does look at his boyf-…senior then. The look on Arthit’s face is unreadable and he doesn’t know what to do except be honest.
“Why do you care what a nobody like me thinks?”
It stings. Cuts like a knife.
Kongpob looks back at the ceiling then, not willing to bear witness to Arthit leaving if he chooses to, throwing in the towel and deciding Namtarn is the better choice. He’s already done all that he can do, he has nothing else to offer this situation.
P’Arthit comes closer, then lies next to him and Kongpob doesn’t take his gaze away from the ceiling even then.
“Do you remember what I said on the Rama 8 Bridge before we kissed for the first time?”
Kongpob remembers. How could he forget?
“I asked you if you would accept me with all my flaws, including me being an idiot and foolish. Do you remember?”
Kongpob tries to stifle his smile. Of course he did.
“I used to love Namtran, a long time ago, but I don’t anymore. Some annoying junior came into my life and made me fall for him and now I can’t seem to like anybody else that way,” Arthit said.
Kongpob doesn’t answer. That isn’t enough to make him somebody, apparently.
“And I’m sorry, for what I said earlier. I didn’t mean it, Kongpob,” Arthit finishes, puppy dog like and pitiful.
“Then why did you say it?”
“I was afraid. I was afraid she would figure us out, like you seem to want her to do. Kongpob, I’m scared of people knowing, don’t you understand that? What if she tells everyone about us?”
Kongpob turns on his side, cradling his head in one hand and looking at his boyfriend seriously. He knows all about Arthit’s fears because they are his too, in a sense. He worries about what his father might think, what his mother and two sisters might say. But the difference is they are the ones that matters, not the engineering faculty and not the rest of the campus. Not their neighbors nor the rest of the world.
“Then if I can’t be somebody to you outside our bedroom walls I don’t think I can be anything to you at all, P’Arthit.”
Kongpob means it, he’s dead serious no matter how much it hurts. He gave his heart when he gave his gear but this isn’t what he wants his first relationship…his first love to be like. He wants to love wholeheartedly, not conveniently and he wants the same in return.
“I don’t want radio broadcasts of marriage or TV declarations of love, P’Arthit. I want you to acknowledge that you’re mine, even if you don’t say my name. I don’t want you to give hope to others, because that’s hope you’re taking away from me.”
A few tear drops slips from P’Arthit’s eyes and Kongpob wants so badly to just hold him and tell him it will all be alright, but he cannot do that. P’Arthit will have to be sure this is what he wants before Kongpob will comfort him.
“I love you, P’Arthit,” Kongpob sighs softly.
“I-I love you too, Kongpob.”
Kongpob doesn’t want to give in but he can’t help himself.
“I’m sorry,” Arthit sniffles and he hugs him close.
“I know,” Kongpob answers, squeezing tight.
Kongpob pulls back and brushes the bangs from Arthit forehead with his fingers. “Never.”
He kisses Arthit’s forehead, down his nose and before he knows it he’s kissing those tears away.
Kongpob knows that for as long as Arthit is worth fighting for, he will fight for him.
His gear and his heart is left in very good hands.