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the Story Of True love (already) between US

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The first serious discussion they ever had as a couple was if they should just share a room off-campus for Kongpob’s first year in SSU as an engineering student.

Surprisingly enough, it was Arthit who brought up the idea of them staying together while they were still studying at the University. He attempted to logically explain that it would be cheaper and more cost-efficient to get a larger place together (never mind that Kongpob’s family could easily buy out entire apartment blocks if they were so inclined), Arthit would have more time to help Kongpob out with schoolwork if needed since they were both in the same faculty and, as Arthit finally conceded to P’Tum and P’Deer’s urging to take up their position as this year’s head hazer, it meant that Kongpob would actually learn how to do housework for once and Arthit wouldn’t have to worry about household chores when he comes back to the room.

(For the heir of a multi-million bhat company, Kongpob took to ironing, laundry and vacuuming with surprising enthusiasm, delighting in the simple acts of folding and washing and cleaning. It was just like him to find such joy in simple things, trying his best to be orderly and meticulous in everything he did.

Except dishes. Kongpob didn’t really like doing them, and Arthit figured it was more than fair to take over that duty, considering the younger practically did everything else.)

He tried to explain all of these (very fair, very reasonable) reasons to Kongpob, whose bemused expression slowly turned into amusement the more Arthit talked, the slowly deepening color of his ears and cheeks utterly betraying him the more the younger man continued to stare at him.

Then Kongpob reached forward to grasp his hand that was resting on the study table between them, squeezing his fingers lightly, and thankfully stopping Arthit’s tirade before he could say something stupid and ridiculous like, I just want to spend a lot of time with you.

“P’Arthit, you know you can just tell me you want to be together all the time. I wouldn’t mind.”

Kongpob!

It was maddeningly infuriating, at times, to have a boyfriend that was so open and shameless with his feelings. Arthit would never get used to it, the way his face would flush and his heart would skip a beat, studiously looking away from that (charming, handsome, utterly captivating) smile that seemed to suit Arthit’s name more than he ever did. In the year that Arthit had known him (first as his tutoring student, then later on as a close junior, and a few months later, finally his boyfriend), Kongpob had always been upfront and honest, seeing through him in a way Arthit couldn’t protect himself from.

He was like that when he admitted to Arthit that he wanted to study economics instead of engineering, that he wanted to make his family happy and proud of him and sometimes felt like he would never be able to, that he had feelings for Arthit, but he would give Arthit as much time as he needed, even willing to stop their tutoring sessions because the last thing he wanted was for the older to be uncomfortable with him and their good relationship.

Kongpob Suthiluck, this stubborn, earnest, straightforward young man had managed to slowly, persistently worm his way into Arthit’s mind and heart in a way no other person ever managed to. Even Namtan wasn’t able to do it, and Arthit had loved her, for a very, very long time.

It wasn’t even that Arthit stopped loving Namtan after he met Kongpob. She was a friend, a dear one, had been and always would be. Kongpob wasn’t a rebound for his unrequited feelings, and he deserved more than to be a runner-up, the second place in Arthit’s confused, stormy, adolescent heart.

It was just that he just found someone he managed to love more, deeper and more intense and more all-encompassing, to the point that Arthit couldn’t even remember what it was like to not feel this way for his boyfriend.

It wasn’t a giving in as it was a giving up, and before he knew it, Arthit had slowed his steps, had stopped looking back, and found himself pulled back into a warm, solid embrace.

The moon, after its long chase, finally managing to eclipse the sun.

(He wasn’t telling any of this to Kongpob, though. Arthit would probably die of embarrassment as it was, and the younger didn’t need his ego more inflated than it already was.)

Kongpob was still holding his hand.

“P’,” Kongpob started, finally deciding to stop teasing him and take their conversation seriously. “It’s a great idea. You know I’d like nothing more than to see your face first when I wake up.” His tone was soft, the smile on his lips even more so. “But P’, I think… it would be better if we had separate rooms, at least for now.”

Arthit’s brows furrowed. “Why?”

“Well… Mae and Phorh want me to be more independent, and you being around me all the time wouldn’t really help with that, P’Arthit.” Kongpob’s smile had taken on a more mischievous edge. “I’d be so distracted watching and trying to take care of you all the time that I won’t have the time to learn things on my own.”

Arthit’s expression was completely unimpressed, even as a darker red stained his cheeks. “Yuck. Don’t be sappy, Kong. You don’t have to take care of me.”

“And,” Kongpob continued serenely, as if the older didn’t say a word, “I think we should have some space for ourselves, since I’ll be adjusting to university, and you’ll be busy with your hazing activities. I wouldn’t want us to fight all the time because we’re both stressed about school. Besides, I’m sure that you’d like to have the chance to invite your friends over to your room to have fun sometimes. And you can’t do that if you’re living with me.”

At the mention of his friends, Arthit sobered up immediately.

He wasn’t ashamed of their relationship. While he may have struggled to accept his feelings for Kongpob at first, he wasn’t the type of person to keep on denying something when it was already happening.

He would have preferred to keep their relationship quiet, private, but if your boyfriend was Kongpob Suthiluck, those plans tended to go down the drain real quick.

Their families found out a few short weeks after they started dating, and Arthit had been more terrified of Kongpob’s parent’s reactions than his own. He had watched enough dramas to know that uptown people certainly did not like the downtown people, and with Kongpob’s family being as ridiculously rich as they were, Arthit had been half-expecting to have money thrown at his face in exchange for never seeing his boyfriend again. Thankfully, Khun Mae and Khun Phorh decided that they liked Arthit enough to not tell him to stop seeing their only son and company heir.

(Khun Phorh apparently liked hardworking people, and Arthit’s attempts to bring his son’s grades up to an acceptable standard for SSU apparently was enough to convince him that Arthit would do right by his son. Khun Mae was a little disappointed that she wouldn’t be getting a pretty daughter-in-law like she always dreamed of, but the cute, shy Ai’Oon who took such good care of her son was a perfectly acceptable replacement.

“You can call them Mae and Phorh, P’Arthit, Mae already adores you.”

“Shut up, Kongpob. Don’t make me disrespect your parents.”

He had an open invitation to the formal Suthiluck family dinner that took place every month, with Kongpob’s sisters and their husbands and children present. Arthit had never gone, too intimidated and terrified to meet the entire family in one sitting, but he was slowly getting there.

Someday.)

His own parents were more disapproving of the relationship, which Arthit understood since he was an only child. But Kongpob had once again worked his boyish, gentlemanly charm on Arthit’s parents, and proved that Arthit really was their biological child, because even his parents eventually gave in to his boyfriend's sterling personality, in the end.

(Now his Mae demanded that he bring Kongpob with him every time he visited home, since the younger was apparently too thin and needed some real, home-cooked food. His Phorh had sat down with Kongpob and soon enough they were arguing about their favorite basketball teams and possible plans of restoring an old motorcycle his Phorh had scavenged somewhere.

“I expect a large dowry for my Ai’Oon of course, Ai’Kong. You understand, he’s not the best person to get along with sometimes and he can be very bad-tempered, but he’s our only son and as his mother, I only want the best for him.”

“M-Mae! W-What nonsense are you talking about?! What dowry?!”

“Of course, Mae. P’Arthit will want for nothing with me. I promise to work hard and save up to give P’Ai-Oon everything he could ever need.”

Kongpob, not you too!”)

Arthit’s friends... were an entirely different matter altogether. Arthit would trust them with his life, would do anything and everything for them, but this was the one thing he couldn’t muster the courage to tell them about.

It was laughable, really, that Arthit was able to survive telling his own flesh and blood that he was in a relationship with another man, but instantly froze up when his friends were in the picture. It wasn’t like they were homophobic, they were friends with Tutah of all people, and he was as stereotypically gay as one could get.

Perhaps it was because Arthit had already shown himself in a particular way towards them. In their eyes, he was… well, normal, as in, he was attracted to girls (still did, Kongpob was just… an exception), liked reading comic books and collected robot figurines. He liked drinking pink milk, peppered his food with as much spice as physically possible, couldn’t stand the taste of coffee, and that was how his friends knew him.

His relationship with Kongpob would be something out of the ordinary, an anomaly, and Arthit didn’t know how they would react to it.

They knew of his part-time gig as a tutor. In fact, it was Knot who suggested it to him as a way to earn some extra money, since Arthit didn’t really want to join any clubs or organizations. Figuring it was a good idea as any, Arthit posted an advertisement on the online school board, and was soon enough swamped with calls by desperate students wanting to pass their subjects. It was a steep learning curve, but Arthit had always been patient when times called for it, and soon enough his efforts paid off. Sure, it gave him less time to hang out with his friends, but they had always been wholly supportive, and the multiple rounds of beer Arthit paid for when they went out took the sting out of it a little.

It was through the word of mouth between gossiping mothers that Khun Mae Suthiluck, Kongpob’s mother, would know of Arthit and his services. Hearing from the others how much Arthit helped their children, she would eventually hire him to make sure that her only son, who was about to start his last year of high school, would have the right grades to be able to make it into a good Engineering Faculty when he got to university.

And the rest, as they said, was history.

In other words, it was through his friends that he was even able to meet Kongpob in the first place.

At once, guilt stabbed clean through his chest, the sensation so visceral Arthit physically winced.

“P’?”

Arthit paused, turning his head to look at the younger hesitantly. He started to retract his hand slowly, still in the keeping of the other.

“... Kong, I—”

And all at once, comprehension flitted in Kongpob’s features. He stopped Arthit’s retreat, taking his hand and pressing it in between his own.

“It’s all right, P’Arthit. You don’t need to apologize. Not to me.” His voice was gentle and understanding, and Arthit hated it so, so much. Hated how those words took out the tension from his shoulders, made churning feelings of relief and self-loathing mingle inside him.

“But it’s not fair to you.” Arthit protested, unable to pull away from his boyfriend’s touch no matter how loudly his mind screamed for him to. “I should be more…”

Brave. Confident. Willing to fight for what they had.

But he wasn’t, and the frustration and misery was eating Arthit from the inside.

(Kongpob had always been the braver one between the two of them.)

“I know you don’t want to lose them, P’. They’re important to you.” A pair of thumbs caressed the back of his palm, running over his knuckles again and again in a rhythmic, soothing motion, a devoted man rolling his prayer beads in earnest supplication. “I don’t mind waiting until you’re ready. I know it’s a lot for you.”

“But you’re important to me too.”

The words were the truth, and too honest by half, Arthit biting his lip the moment it escaped his mouth. He immediately looked away, color high on his cheeks, unable to believe what he had just said out loud.

But the smile that bloomed on Kongpob’s face was incandescent, a ray of sunlight piercing through the gloom.

And if something so simple made the younger so happy, it made Arthit reevaluate how he was treating the younger recently.

Was he that terrible of a boyfriend?

But whatever thoughts he had that would probably point out that yes, he was probably a horrible significant other, he was stopped by the feeling of his hand being squeezed again.

Kongpob’s expression was still bright. Arthit was finding it difficult to look at him.

“I’m really happy right now, P’Arthit.”

“Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.”

“Really, really happy.”

Kongpob.

The beam didn’t leave Kongpob’s face, and it made Arthit’s face feel like it was on fire. “But to be honest, please don’t worry about it. I really don’t mind keeping our relationship quiet. I even think we should, for the moment.”

“Why?”

“Well… you’ll be my head hazer soon, wouldn’t you?” Kongpob shrugged. “Besides our families, I haven’t told anyone yet either. I just...”

Arthit’s breath caught in his throat, heart threatening to escape his ribcage, as his hand was slowly lifted up, a pair of lips lightly brushing against his skin, making the hairs of Arthit’s neck rise.

Warm. So warm.

“I feel very selfish right now. I want to keep you to myself a little bit longer, P’Ai-Oon.”

All the monks and gods above. This boy was going to be the death of him.

“E-Enough.” For the innumerous time, Arthit quietly cursed his lighter skin for giving so much away, hot and fevered to the touch, his lips unable to stop their upwards twitch. “Get back to studying. Your finals are coming up, you can’t afford to fail.”

Kongpob’s dark eyes lifted up to meet his own, and for a short moment, Arthit was terrified-hoping-anticipating that the younger wouldn’t listen, that he would drop his pen and bring himself closer into Arthit’s space and Arthit would—

He would—

But Kongpob eventually drew back, finally releasing his hand, ever so respectful and obedient. Arthit felt himself exhaling a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, heartbeat stuttering in his chest.

“Yes, P’.”

Blessed silence enveloped them both, punctuated by the scratches of pen on paper, the rustle of papers as pages were flipped. Arthit was able to absorb a few things from his own studying, glancing at the younger every so often to make sure he was really doing his work and not just doodling on the corners of his books.

“... Look for nearby dorms, then.”

He heard Kongpob pause in his writing. “... Excuse me?”

“I mean…” The embarrassment was starting to creep in once more, but Arthit refused to give in to it, not this time. He scratched the side of his neck with the other end of his pen, refusing to look up from his readings as the other continued to stare at him.

“If you’re going to live by yourself, then look for something around my area. They’re cheap but well-maintained. No sense in making your parents spend more than they should.”

From the corner of his eye, he saw Kongpob grin, perfectly straight teeth gleaming white, the joy in his expression making Arthit soften, just a little bit as well.

“Yes, P’Arthit!”

In a few weeks, after school break, the new semester would start. Kongpob would be in his first year, and Arthit would be his senior in his third. Arthit would start going to SSU earlier than others in his year, to prepare with the others in the hazing team for the activities they would do for the freshman.

He hadn’t told Kongpob any specific details, wanting the younger to experience the SOTUS system for himself personally. The other was naturally curious, and had tried to wheedle more information out of Arthit, but this time, he kept his mouth shut.

It was an experience that he wouldn’t be able to explain completely with just his words. This year, they would be much softer, more lenient, since times were changing, but it didn’t mean they were going to take it easy.

And Kongpob, as usual, was completely correct. Their relationship should be kept as quiet as possible for another, larger, more important, reason.

While there was no rule in SSU that said hazers couldn’t be in a relationship with a freshman, it was something that was implicitly understood, since there was a definite power imbalance during the whole event. It was a teaching experience done in a very tough love kind of way, and as head hazer, Arthit was expected to conduct himself a certain way. He would need to put the fear of god into the poor nongs in the first few weeks of their university life, and it left a distasteful taste in his mouth, even if he knew the reasons for it.

(Which was another complication Arthit should think about, to be honest.

He couldn’t be seen showing preferential treatment towards a younger student, it would undermine the purpose of the SOTUS system and the hard work his seniors had done. While Arthit was reasonably sure he wouldn’t favor Kongpob over anyone else, and would probably be harder on him than anyone else in his batch, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling to yell at your boyfriend and punish him for something he was still learning and had no control over.)

But that was a bridge Arthit would cross when he got to it. Right now, his focus should be to help Kongpob pass his final year of high school, prepare himself mentally for his duties as the head hazer, try his best to have a good relationship with his boyfriend, and to come out to his friends in the near future.

Not exactly an easy list of things to do, but Arthit was willing to do a lot to make it work.

“P’Arthit.” The sound of his name caught his attention and made him look up, only to see Kongpob laying down across the table, head pillowed on one arm, face tilted to the side and glancing up at him. His other arm was stretched out across the study table, fingers absentmindedly playing with his pen, the expression on his face nothing short of complete and utter adoration.

(It was an expression Arthit often saw on him, even before they were dating, not knowing what it meant at first, when Kongpob looked at him that way.

Now he knew perfectly, and he considered himself a complete idiot for not seeing it sooner.)

“Hm?”

Kongpob smiled. “I love you.”

Arthit wasted no time in lightly rapping the younger’s cheek with his pen, both in reprimand and in unintentional affection. “Brat. Don’t distract me.”

There was a pout lingering in Kongpob’s voice, even if the smile remained on his lips. “But I really do love you, though.”

Arthit quickly looked away, glancing around the room, as if expecting someone around the corner seeing and listening in on them.

But there was no one here save the two of them in Kongpob’s large bedroom, with its own automatic locking doors, sitting room, walk-in closet, and its bathroom with a sizable bathtub.

So he allowed himself to reach forward, to run his fingers through the younger’s short, dark hair, to cradle Kongpob’s head with his palm and pinch his cheek lightly with his fingers.

“I know. … Me too. Now sit up and focus on your subjects. I’ll need to go soon.”

“Aww, can’t you stay the night, P’?” Now there was a definite moue shaping Kongpob’s lips and Arthit had to stop the sudden, violent urge to surge forward and remove it with multiple kisses.

“No.” Arthit leveled the younger a flat look, managing to keep his voice level. “Don’t be shameless. Your parents are home.”

“So you’ll stay the night if I’m the only one at home, P’Ai-Oon?”

Arthit just let out a long suffering sigh, pinching the younger’s cheek just a touch harder, making Kongpob wince and finally sit up properly.

“Stop asking ridiculous questions. Focus.

And he really should tell Kongpob that his air conditioning system was broken. He was feeling very hot under hs collar, suddenly.

The grin never left his boyfriend’s face.

“Okay, P’.”


It was a few weeks later, on one of their dates during summer break, that Kongpob showed him around the dorm room he was going to stay in for his studies in SSU, already paid for, cleared out, and cleaned, just waiting for its newest occupant to move in, which will happen in the next few days.

True to Arthit’s suggestion, it was in the same condominium complex where his dorm was also located, his eyebrow climbing higher and higher when they went up the floors.

If he remembered it right, this was also the same floor his dorm room was in, just on a different building directly across from this one.

He had a suspicion that grew the more they walked, but didn’t think much of it as Kongpob led him down the hallway, opening the last door on the right.

Because it was going to be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it? There was no way.

The room was relatively spacious for a first year’s needs, but that was fine, Kongpob would need the space as the years went by anyway. Arthit took it upon himself to inspect every nook and cranny of the empty room, squinting at the non-existent cracks on the walls as the younger looked at him fondly.

“What do you think, P’Arthit?” Arms wrapped themselves around his waist, a chin resting itself on his shoulder as Kongpob’s gentle voice sounded near his ear. “Is this room acceptable to your standards?”

“Kongpob, let go,” Arthit half-heartedly tried to pull away, but the younger only held on tighter, knowing that Arthit wouldn’t really put up too much of a fuss if they were somewhere private. “The windows are right there, you.”

“The neighbor’s windows are covered, P’.” Kongpob laughed, his breath warm and tickling the back of Arthit’s ear. It was enough to make Arthit almost shiver. Almost. “No one is looking out. Is my dorm room okay?”

In the end, Arthit let himself be held, and if his weight was completely resting against the younger, his own arms covering the other’s, well, that was just a happy coincidence that no one around them brought up.

“It’ll do, I guess.” It wasn’t bad. It had a balcony and an air-conditioning unit too, which was more than most dorm students had. “You’ll be all right here, Kong? When are you going to move in?”

“Yes, I think so. I might start the move next weekend, if I manage to pack all my things on time. Mae still wants to buy extra furniture that she thinks I’ll need.”

Arthit stopped himself from snorting on time. “All you need is a bed and a closet, most of the time. A table too, maybe.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve managed to convince her not to go overboard with the spending.” The laughter in Kongpob’s voice sent warmth slithering through Arthit’s veins, thick and as sweet as honey. “And she knows that you live nearby, so that also makes her worry less.” The younger lowered his head, just enough for his lips to move against the bare skin of Arthit’s neck as he continued. “Somehow, I feel like I’ve made the wrong decision.” His arms tightened around Arthit’s middle as he buried his face at the curve of Arthit’s shoulder.

“I take it back, P’Arthit. Let’s live together for the rest of our lives.”

Arthit couldn’t help it; he started chuckling, undeniable fondness rushing through him. This ridiculous nong, always so dramatic. “Too late for that now.” He reached up to pat Kongpob’s hair soothingly, his amused smile hidden by their positions.

“Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to take care of you, N’Koon Chai,” he teased when he felt Kongpob frown against his skin.

“I’m not a Koon Chai. I know how to do things, P’.”

“Because I literally had to teach you so you don’t dye your white shirts pink—” Arthit glanced outside the window and stopped when something caught his eye.

“P’?” Kongpob raised his head. “What’s wrong?”

“That’s… those are the curtains of my room.” Arthit blinked, just to make sure he wasn’t seeing things.

“Really?” Kongpob released him as Arthit moved to open the younger’s balcony door to go outside, trying to see the other building more clearly. Kongpob was right at his heels, but Arthit couldn’t give less of a damn as he clutched at the railing, narrowing his eyes at the direction of his supposed dorm room.

But nope, those were his light cream curtains, covering up the windows that would have allowed them to see into his (messy) bedroom, directly across from Kongpob’s new dorm. His eyes slid to the side immediately, and choked when he saw the familiar shirts and shorts drying on the clothesline he set up on his own balcony.

He thought there was no way, that perhaps they would just be living in the same dormitory complex, perhaps see each other and visit each other’s rooms whenever they would make plans, but Arthit certainly did not expect their rooms to be this close to each other.

Now, they only had to draw the curtains back and open the lights to see each other whenever they wanted.

Arthit didn’t know if this was a good or a bad thing.

Soon enough, he felt, rather than saw, his boyfriend settle on the balcony beside him, resting his arms on the metal railing in a moment of quiet contemplation.

Then Kongpob turned to him, grinning as if he had just won the largest cash prize in the lottery.

“I guess we’ll be close neighbors then, won’t we, P’Ai-Oon?”