Come Monday morning they were back to doing sit-and-squats while the hazers looked on in disdain. Kongpob might have partially redeemed himself in Arthit's eyes, but as the head hazer, Kongpob was still just a junior to him. And the hazers found reason after reason to punish their juniors.
Until, the fourth years walked into the room. They stood in front of them, obscuring the third year hazers from their view and Kongpob knew that everything was about to get a lot more complicated.
Deer punished the third years in front of them, whilst they sat there and watched. His peers were probably having the time of their lives, watching as there oppressors got given the same treatment that they had been given. But Kongpob saw every time Arthit flinched at one of Deer's words. Arthit bore the brunt of the punishments as the head hazer and looked about to collapse as they did.
It was the moment when Kongpob finally thought it was over that Arthit declared that he would do the 54 laps that he had ordered for the first years to do the week before. Of course, none of the first years actually did the 54 laps, most of them stopping at 4 laps at most. But as Arthit left the room, and they were excused from the hazing meeting, Kongpob worried that the stubborn hazer might actually try.
And after four hours, Aim called him to tell him he was still running. The idiot was still running, in the pouring rain.
Kongpob knew his help wouldn't be appreciated but Arthit was going to kill himself if he didn't stop. And although Arthit wouldn't stop running, and he got yelled at by him and P'Knot, Kongpob felt better knowing that Arthit had gotten a break because of his interruption.
Towards the final laps, Kongpob was worried the third-year would keel over. Kongpob's heart sank as he took the final steps and collapsed into the arms of his friends. He wanted to help him but the third-years wouldn't let him. Arthit wouldn't let him. Arthit told him to mind his own business and he kept wanting to scream out 'You are my business! We're soulmates!'. But that was unfair. Arthit wanted Kongpob to leave him alone, so he would... for now.
Arthit felt like shit.
And yeah, maybe it was his idea to have the fourth years punish them in front of their juniors so they would respect them more, so they'd see that they had once gone through the exact same thing. It was Arthit's idea to run 54 laps so everyone would finally stop calling him weak. But he hadn't expected it to go this badly. Arthit would of been able to run the laps no problem if it didn't start raining on his 46th lap. Not only was he not willingly to move his legs for the next month at least , but he also had a cold. And he probably looked so pathetic in front of all the first years that were all there to laugh at him as he ran around and around in the rain miserably.
He hadn't wanted Kongpob to see him. He told him so many times to go away, to mind his business so he wouldn't look at him. He didn't want to look pathetic in front of his friends and much less in front of a junior, one that already had fun teasing him for every slip up he made.
But Kongpob had looked genuinely upset that he couldn't help. Maybe it was because he felt guilty on behalf of the first years, He was the hero type after all. Maybe he just unnecessarily cared about everyone that much. Either way, Arthit didn't want Kongpob's attention on him at that moment.
Arthit passed out before they got to the hospital, which was a relief for him but very worrying to his friends trying to carry an unconscious Arthit into the emergency room.
When he woke up, he was scolded by the doctors, and then scolded by his friends, and then his phone rang and he was scolded by his parents. Arthit couldn't catch a break. They informed him that he had a cold, that he had sprained his foot and ankle and that he should try not to move for the next couple of days.
They sent him home with medicine for the cold and a babysitter, Ai'Prem. As soon as Prem had held him onto his bed, he passed out again having no energy left to keep him awake.
The next morning, Prem was sitting on his bed, loudly chewing. Arthit would have kicked him if his foot wasn't currently sprained.
It was only then that Arthit noticed. He wasn't wearing his wristband anymore. Instinctively, he closed his hand around his left wrist, hiding it from sight. Under his hand he felt the bandage and saw that it completely covered any potential mark he had there.
"Prem..." he asked, voice hoarse from being sick.
"Oh, you're awake..." Prem said, turning around to face him.
"Did you look at my wrist?" Arthit said. He was mortified at the thought. Fuck, if they saw...
"Arthit, chill," Prem said, casually, "None of us looked, promise. You were damn near hypothermic when we got you to the hospital. They took everything off, including the wristband. Knot told them that you cover your wrist so they bandaged it before they took the wristband off. No one saw anything."
Arthit let out the biggest sigh of relief since, well, since he stopped running last night.
"We respect you, man. If you say you want your wrist covered, then it's covered. Did you think that we wouldn't give a shit about something so important to you?" Prem asked, and Arthit just looked away guiltily.
"Look, we don't know why you do it, but if that's how you live your life then we don't really have a say in it do we?" Prem said.
"You don't want to know why? You don't want to find out who?" Arthit asked, scared of the outcomes of even talking about his soulmark.
Prem just scoffed, “Do you?” He sighed, "Look, none of us want to know who your soulmate might be more than we want you to be happy, okay?"
And Arthit didn't know how to respond to even slight affection from his friend, so he just looked down.
Prem had conveniently been pulled away from retrieving Arthit’s precious congee so Kongpob jumped on the opportunity to spend time with him. He busied himself with chores in P'Arthit's apartment so as to not give Arthit a reason to kick him out.
They talked, more casually and calmly than they ever had before. Arthit let him know things about himself, like his interest in robots. Kongpob was doting and considerate and kind, but he didn't expect anything. Not when he saw the bandage still wrapped around Arthit's left wrist, covering what he could only assume was his name marked on Arthit's skin.
What bothered him was not knowing why Arthit would cover his wrist. At first he thought maybe it was to hide it from other people, but as the weeks went on, it was clear that Arthit didn't know Kongpob was his soulmate at all, so he had to be hiding it from himself. But why? Kongpob couldn't think of a situation where he wouldn't want to know, he wouldn't be able to stop his curiousity. How could Arthit not look at it?
Kongpob cheered himself up by seeing Arthit's reluctance to know his soulmate as more time for him to make Arthit like him. Arthit was already his, the universe said so. He just had to convince him, soulmark or not.