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The Chaser

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Man loves his soulmate mark. It’s in the neatest handwriting he has ever seen, so tidy and precise that it looks like it’s been typed out. His owner must be a reliable responsible person, which is exactly what Man thinks he needs in his life, because he’s the opposite. He doesn’t mean to get into trouble as much as he does, really, but he always ends up saying or doing the wrong thing in every situation. He’s lucky enough to have friends that don’t judge him for it and are willing to help out when he needs it, but in the back of his mind there’s always the thought of the person that will finally complete him and love him despite everything that’s wrong with him. Because of everything wrong with him.


That doesn’t stop him from going on dates, though. Man firmly believes that he needs to be as experienced and prepared as possible so that when his soulmate comes around, he’ll know how to treat her right. He never misses the opportunity to flirt with any pretty girl he sees, for purely scientific purposes of course. He needs to test his pick up lines and dad jokes to check their effectiveness. The few times girls actually agree to go out with him he treats them like princesses, bringing them to the best food trucks in the area and offering to pay for their snacks. 


The circle of female acquaintances that are willing to go out with him is getting smaller and smaller, though, so Man ends up following a girl he had drunkenly made out with the night before to some sort of self help seminar. It’s one of the most boring half hours of Man’s life, and he feels like a hero for managing to stay awake that long. When the speaker encourages the crowd to unleash their hidden power , he decides it’s time to bounce. He feels bad about the girl, he doesn’t even remember her name nor does he remember kissing her the night before, but if he has to listen to another word of this thing he’ll start screaming.


He excuses himself to go to the bathroom, planning to escape from some backdoor or window if necessary, and he gets up from his seat.


The moment he sees him, Man knows he has found him . He wasn’t expecting a guy, and he starts to panic because he hasn’t rehearsed for that kind of scenario. He has never gone on any dates with another man, he has never kissed a guy, never even jokingly flirts with one. His bros are off limits.


But this guy. He is breathtaking, Man thinks. There’s something vaguely cute about his facial features, but his shoulders are wide and he looks well built. He’s still shorter than Man, though. 


He doesn’t understand how he knows it’s him. It’s like a sixth sense has activated in him and now there’s a siren blaring in his head, screaming at him to just do anything to get the guy’s attention.


“Excuse me…” the guy says.


Man doesn’t need to keep listening to know what the next words will be. They’ve been on his wrist since, he now realizes, that very same day of three years ago when the mark had suddenly appeared on his skin.


“Is this seat taken?”


Despite all of his preparation, despite knowing about that question for three years, it still takes Man a few seconds to reply. He has to focus really hard to think of the right words to say. Is the seat taken?


“No, krub.” He even gestures vaguely towards the seat in question, trying to look as polite and well mannered as possible.


He is very proud of himself when the other guy, his soulmate , nods and sits down. Man sits back down as well, and only then he realizes that something is missing. He steals a glance to the side, and he sees the guy pull out a tablet and start taking notes.


He doesn’t know it’s me .


Type doesn’t like his soulmate mark. It’s messy and it looks weird scribbled on his right hip. Worst of all, it’s so generic. No, krub ? He has already heard it thousands of times in his life, and he’ll probably have to hear it as many times before he actually finds the one. When he finally runs into his soulmate, they’ll need to have a talk on vocabulary.


The first few months after getting it had been torture. Every time someone had said those words to him, Type’s heart would start beating uncontrollably and his breathing would get labored. Years of hoping and being let down had desensitized him, though. He is now able to hear no, krub without even noticing. It should worry him, because he might not recognize his soulmate, but he tells himself it will be okay. He could never miss him.


He does, though. He sits next to a random stranger at a seminar after asking him if a seat is taken, and it takes him two weeks to realize what the guy had replied. No, krub . He has no idea how to find him again. He doesn’t know his name, if he’s still a student, he doesn’t remember seeing him at other seminaries. All he remembers are his smile and his voice.


Type wants to look for him, he really does, but he doesn’t know where to start. There’s also a part of his brain that keeps telling him that he’s wrong, that it was just another random person saying those words and it didn’t mean anything. It’s hard not to listen to it after years of broken hopes. He decides to wait. If it’s destiny they’ll meet each other again.


Man hates himself for not saying anything during the seminar. As soon as it’s over, his soulmate disappears and Man is left with nothing but memories. He is determined to find him again, though, so he ropes his friends into helping him track down the guy. It turns out to be almost impossible without a name or age to follow, but Man is determined. He’s proud to say it’s the project he has dedicated the most effort and time to in his whole life. His soulmate better be grateful, once he explains to him why he didn’t recognize him.


He has stopped flirting with other people now that he has put a face to the soulmate mark. It would feel like cheating on him, in a way. He has even tried drawing a sketch of what his face looks like, but he’s never been good at art. His friends tease him endlessly after they see it, but he doesn’t let it get to him. What he lacks in artistic talent, he makes up for in enthusiasm. 


It takes him a month of attending every single self help seminar in town until he sees him again. It’s just for a brief second before he disappears behind the doors of a private event and all Man can do is stare at the wooden panels separating him from his soulmate. He manages to get some information on him, at least.


That’s how he minds himself attending a meditation retreat, of all things. They even confiscate his phone at the start of it, and he’s supposed to remain silent for a whole weekend. Past him could have never lived through it, but he’s a new Man. He is in serious mode now.


He desperately tries to make contact with his soulmate, but it all seems in vain. The other guy looks very into the whole meditation thing and doesn’t spare Man a glance. It’s hard to remain hopeful, but at the end of the retreat he receives a blessing. His name.


As he goes to sign the list to get his phone back, his soulmate is right before him in line. His signature matches his handwriting, neat and regular. Type Teepakorn .


Turns out, it was destiny after all. Type spots him again during an event, but he is rushed to his seat and when he finally gets to leave there’s nobody there waiting for him. He convinces himself that he must have hallucinated it, and he scolds himself for still being hung up on him. It was just another false alarm, he tells himself.


He can’t brush it off as a trick of his mind anymore when the guy appears at his meditation camp. He looks so out of place there that Type wonders if he’s there just for him. Surely if he is he’ll give him a sign. Anything. He tries his best to remain focused on his breathing and mindfulness exercises while also keeping an eye on him, but nothing happens. The guy doesn’t try to talk to him at all. Type would have expected something bolder for someone with such a messy looking handwriting and stubble.


But again, maybe it’s not him. Maybe it’s all just a coincidence, even though his heart seems to beat faster when they’re close to each other. He considers making the first move, but he’s terrified of being wrong. He remembers being younger and stopping everyone who said those words to him. He’d beg them to show him their soulmate marks and his heart would break every time. It was never his handwriting and his words on their skin. His past has taught him to be skeptical and patient. 


Now that he knows his name, Man manages to learn a lot more about Type. He knows his age, his major and the company he’s interning for, but most importantly he knows his brother. It’s hard to believe that all this time the one person he had been searching for had been so close. Type and Tine are brothers, and Tine and Sarawat are soulmates. Perhaps, if he had managed to draw him better, Sarawat would have recognized him. 


Things don’t get much easier despite all the newly acquired information. There is still the fact that Type doesn’t seem to pay attention to him at all, which is not a soulmate-typical behavior. From what Man has observed from Type’s social media habits, the other guy isn’t very outgoing. He seems to be a very reserved and private individual, and Man is aware that he can be a little too loud and enthusiastic at times. He doesn’t want to scare Type off when he finally decides to approach him.


He’s still trying to come up with a good plan when fate decides that he’s had enough time to think about it. Tine has brought his brother along for a campus tour and Man can’t hold it in anymore. He has to say something. He goes through his mental list of pick up lines, trying to find one that could work on a guy that spends his free time going to self help seminars and meditation retreats.


“”What are you looking at?” 


Oops. He must have zoned out while concentrating too hard. Type’s voice sounds a lot less kind now than it did the first time they met. His brain goes into autopilot and spews out the first response he can think of.


“Looking at a cute guy like you,” he replies.


He knows he has screwed up from the look of terror on Tine’s face and the exasperated sigh that leaves his friends’ mouths. Why do they all have to be there to witness this?


“I have been looking for you everywhere,” he adds. It’s time to drop the flirting and get straight to the point. “What a surprise my soulmate is Tine’s brother.”


Type can’t believe his ears. This guy has tried flirting with him in front of his brother, and now he’s loudly telling everyone that they’re soulmates! After all, he’s just as cheeky and impudent as Type had expected. Relief washes over him when he hears him say he’s his soulmate, but he can’t let it show. He’s had to wait so long for him that he wants a little revenge now.


He pretends to get mad, he lets his soulmate, Man , tease him some more while his friends laugh at him, and then he’s done. He grabs him by the arm and drags him away from everyone, to finally talk. He needs to see his mark and know that he won’t have to ask anyone else again. Man follows him without a word, finally quiet after all the banter.


“Show me your mark,” he demands. Type knows he’s not being very polite, but he has to shut up that voice inside his head once and for all.


Man rolls up his sleeve on his left wrist and there it is. It’s Type’s handwriting, the one his teachers always complimented him on. 


Excuse me, is this seat taken?


Type smiles. He didn’t mean to, he was planning on playing hard to get for a while longer, but he can’t help it. It’s really him this time.


Man is grinning back at him, and he looks a bit hesitant before finally deciding to speak.


“May I see yours as well?’” he asks.


Type’s innocent smile turns into a smirk. He gets close enough to Man to whisper in his ear.


“You don’t want me to show you in public,” he says with a wink.