We went to out to the living room and found that P'Jane and Bright still hadn't arrived. The other two said that there was something mixed up in their orders and that they were waiting for the next delivery guy.
Kongpob went to the bedroom to retrieve his phone and he still hasn't come back out, so I went to check up on him. I found him sitting on the edge of the bed, talking to someone on the phone. He noticed me and he mouthed the name of his daughter. I nodded in understanding then gestured outside with my thumb. He nodded with a smile and then I was going out.
Just as I stepped foot into the living room, my front door opened up and revealed two guys laden with food. I hurried towards them to help them out. Then we were plating the food and distributing them and the condiments, taking our seats and making ourselves comfortable. Just then, the door to my bedroom opened up, revealing my adorable boyfriend in the black hoodie he had used at the concert (I stole it from him when he went home that time, making him wear one of my hoodies).
He greeted the others that were on the living room with a wai, and then I was pulling him towards me. I introduced him to my manager, and they greeted each other politely. When all formalities had been dealt with, I yanked him down so that he was perched on my lap, seeing as there were no more available seats (I lied, Tutah had made space beside him on the sectional couch, but well...), and he yelped in surprise. I saw his adorable blush, which made me nuzzle him.
We ate in relative silence, occasionally talking and teasing one another (mostly me and my boyfriend). When all the food was gone and the dishes had been cleaned and stored, P'Jane called all of our attention. Then he began talking about our public relations and whatnot.
"N'Kongpob, please don't take this the wrong way. I am conducting a background check on you, and I have read a few interesting articles regarding your past and background. You are of the Suthiluck family, isn't that right?" he asked, to which Kong nodded. He had migrated besides Tutah, insisting to actually be sitting properly as courtesy to the others.
"While Bright's boyfriend is also a Suthiluck, your situation is a lot more different than his. Well first, because you are the Suthiluck heir—"
"Had been. I was considered that years ago. Not anymore. The reins are being held by my very competent sister," Kongpob interjected, his voice cool, portraying himself in a calm and collected way. His face was a mask of seriousness, his eyes calculating and I would've been a bit unnerved if his focus had been on me, but it wasn't, and it was on P'Jane, so I didn't really care. I, instead, took that chance to ogle my sexy dominating boyfriend.
"I-I... okay. Had been the heir. Your family caused quite a stir in the media a few years ago. Well, according to these news clippings. Please explain about this, Nong?" he asked.
My heart began to thump faster with how the conversation was going and seeing P'Jane's serious expression. Somehow, I didn't feel good about it. There was something that P'Jane had discovered that he seemed not to like but he was giving the benefit of the doubt by letting Kong explain his situation. He had been right, this was more complicated than the others' relationship. I looked at the younger when the silence had stretched out, and saw the tells on his body language that clued me in that he was getting tense. One particular clue was his tapping index finger. I stretched my leg so that my foot was touching his. He nudged my limb in acknowledgment.
"Yes, that time when our company nearly declared bankruptcy. That was a media rollercoaster indeed... But all is well now, P'. My sisters are doing a very good job in stabilizing the company," he answered with a fake smile plastered on his face. I turned to look at P'Jane smugly, but... he wasn't happy with his answer. In fact, he was looking disappointed and a little pissed off at my boyfriend. It was as if the latter didn't pass his test or something. What was going on?
"Nong," he uttered warningly.
P'Jane crossed his arms on his chest looking at the younger with squinted eyes.
"Are you playing dumb, Nong? I'm not talking about your company. I'm talking about your family. Have you even told your boyfriend about it? About them?"
I shot a warning glance at P'Jane and he was looking at me, all serious and unrelenting. I scowled, still puzzled at where the conversation was going. And then it clicked. His emphasis on the word 'family', was he was talking about...?
"If this is about his failed marriage, P', then yes, I'm aware of it. I'm also aware of him having a child with his ex-wife. All of us are aware of it," I interjected. The older nodded his head in approval, his posture losing a little bit of their stiffness.
"Good. Good... So what's your stance regarding this, N'Arthit? All of this? Even the grounds of the divorce?" P'Jane asked. I was puzzled with the last question. Why would it matter to me about the grounds of Kongpob's divorce?
"Uh, what does it matter P'? He's legally separated from his wife for a few years now. Technically, he's free."
"Well, yeah he's free. He can date anyone he likes without any legal ramifications. But the circumstances surrounding his divorce... N'Arthit, I can't just set that aside—"
"What's that got to do with me?" I asked, a little harshly. He looked surprised for a moment and then he was whipping his head towards Kongpob.
"Of course you didn't tell him. Well, I'm sorry Nong, but I think he needs to know about this—"
"Kong?" I asked when I saw how the younger had his eyes scrunched shut. I noticed how he was breathing deeply and a ball of anxiety grew in the pit of my stomach. He opened his eyes and looked directly at our manager, his eyes shiny but determined.
"How did you know?" he asked silently. "There was a media blackout for that."
P'Jane's expression was unreadable as he stared back at Kong. Then he tapped his tablet on and was showing him something on it. Kongpob skims through it and then he handed me the device. I took it warily, afraid of what I might find on it. I stared at image. It was a newspaper clipping from four years ago, just a tiny column of a tabloid. He skimmed through the story of how the Suthilucks had lost their company and how the heir was making a stir because of his divorce with his wife of more than two years on the grounds of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse. What?
"I-Is this--?" I couldn't finish the sentence. I was too shocked. My Kong... my sweet, kind, and strong Kong, involved in some kind of abuse? My Kong was...
"Yes," was his clipped answer. I could see that he had closed himself off; but that he was barely pulling himself together with how he was clutching his hands so tightly.
I paled when I remembered his daughter.
"Was your daugh--?"
"No. I made sure of that." Somehow, the tightness in my chest lessened with his answer. I couldn't imagine the scars that that would leave on a child's psychological health. It was already way too much for an adult. I reached out for his clasped hands and laid my hand on in tentatively, not sure if any form of contact was welcomed at the moment. The others were silent, even though I knew they were itching to know what was happening and what was the meaning behind all the unfinished sentences. I didn't want to explain to them though. Not yet, anyway, when my boyfriend needed more reassurance at the moment.
"You did good protecting her," was all I could say. I didn't know what else to say otherwise, except to point out this little bit of achievement to him. He took a peek at me and I was relieved at the vulnerable hope in his eyes. I smiled at him. I saw him take a deep breath, to fortify himself, before he addressed our manager, who had been thankfully silent all this time. I turned to look at him and I think I saw a deepset understanding in his eyes.
"Yes, P'Jane, this has happened to me," Kongpob said, gesturing towards the tablet. "But not in the way that most people assumed. I was the vic—at the receiving end, which is a rare case, but it still happened. Does this make me incompatible with P'Arthit?" he asked with a slight tremor to his voice. His gaze didn't waver though.
"I-I—no. I'm sorry about this Nong, but I had to be sure—"
"I know. You don't have to apologize for this. It's your job to take care of your them after all. I just hoped that I could've been the one to tell this to P'Arthit, though, when I'm ready."
"I'm really sorry Nong..."
Silence permeated the air. I could feel the awkwardness coming in troves from all the people present. Kongpob had opened his palms and were now knuckle-gripping my hands. He must have noticed my wince of pain because he loosened his hold but didn't let go. I gave his hand a gentle squeeze and I was glad when he squeezed back. He was taking this surprisingly better than I had anticipated.
"I... look Nong. Are you serious about this relationship?"
I looked at our manager incredulously.
"Don't look at me like that N'Arthit. Let me finish first," he berated me. "Look, dating N'Arthit would surely put you into the spotlight again, Nong. Are you ready for that? Because I can only imagine the media shitstorm this had created when it happened... And your daughter..."
"P', I am grateful for your concern. I truly am. But I want to take this chance again to have what I want the most in my life. That is having P'Arthit with me, by my side. I have been careful with the media ever since then and I have learned how best to deal with them. I am willing to cooperate with you and your team. Actually, I think it's better to consult with my family's publicist about this, let them coordinate and handle this."
P'Jane scrutinized Kongpob and I was so fucking proud with how my lovely Nong was looking back at him unflinchingly, even though the tremors on his hands betrayed his nerves. After a few whiles, P'Jane smiled genuinely.
"Okay. I won't stop you then. As long as you know what you are getting into and you know what you are doing. I need to make a plan with the PR team then, and I need to contact this publicist of yours Nong."
"Sure P'. I'll give you her contact info and I'll also give her a call."
I joined my boyfriend at the balcony where he retreated after the relationship talks turned into official band talks. He had stayed there for a while and I let him, because I sensed that he needed some time for himself to calm down. When the others had bid their goodbyes, I told them to not disturb him and I'd just inform the latter that they had left.
"Hey," I called out softly, handing him a mug of steaming hot cocoa. He smiled gratefully at me, wrapping his hands around the warm porcelain.
I stared at his profile, enjoying how he looked against the backdrop of twinkling Bangkok lights, tracing his features with my eyes. Tomorrow, I would be leaving this beautiful man again, and my heart was left with a pang. I had to console myself that I would see him again because this time, he was mine and we knew where the other would be. No more unsaid goodbyes, just temporary.
"Sorry," he mumbled after a moment of silence.
"For what?" I asked, puzzled.
"For this. For being weak. For being broken. I-I understand if you don't want all these baggage—"
"Hold it right there. I never said that I wouldn't accept you even with all your past. In fact, I promised you forever, didn't I?" I firmly said. There was no way that I would let go of him, ever.
"But P', your career..."
"Are you having second thoughts?" I asked instead, dreading the answer. I saw him bite his lip and I swear my heart stopped at that moment until he shook his head 'no'.
"Let me tell you something. My career is secondary to you. Every one of us is holding our career only secondary in our lives. All of us treat our partners and families as first and foremost of our priorities. The people who loves us and believes in us unconditionally, you are the ones that we are afraid of losing. We vowed with one another that we will not let our career affect our relationships to the ones who matter the most to us. And now that I finally got you back, you've become one of those people. Do you understand? Don't you want to take the chance with me?"
"I... I-I do, P'. I really do. I want to. But... you will need a lot of patience with me, P'. I was broken, P'. More so than what others think. But I've managed to pick up my pieces if only for the sake of my daughter. But I am not pieced back together perfectly. There are cracks that I have failed to mend— that I couldn't mend— and I am imperfect. As you spend more time with me, you will see them, P'. So if you really want to stay with me, well, take this as your warning. Do not expect me to be the person who I once was because I couldn't be that anymore. Are you still willing to be with me, P'?"
No matter how much I wanted to contradict all of what he said, I couldn't because I know that they were the truth and saying that they weren't would only brush off his struggles. All I could do was accept him, accept all his pains, even though it would hurt me too along the way. But the other choice... not being able to touch him, to hold him, to call him mine... I could endure a little bit of pain if it meant I could spend my time with him.
I stared at his eyes that were displaying his vulnerability, his nervousness. I met those shining eyes with mine and I hoped that my eyes were showing him my determination and not the anxiety that I was feeling.
"Yes," I answered firmly.
'Irrevocably. Indomitably. Yes,' I didn't say.
He nodded after a while of staring at each other and then I was pulling him towards me. We hugged each other tightly, me soothing the last vestiges of his trembling by rubbing circles onto his back. We comforted each other with each other's presence, staying within the warmth that our bodies generated.
"Will you listen? To my story, P'? When I finally gather the courage to talk?" he asked quietly, breaking the stillness of the night.
"I will," I said.
"I... thank you. I'll hold you to that."
I loaded my things grumpily at the van that would take me towards the studio. The PA assigned to me was wary of my scowls and she did everything in her power to not aggravate me further.
My dear Kong had left just a little bit earlier since he had a daughter to take care of and a company to run. Speaking of, I just realized, if his sister was the one running their family business, then what company was my Kong running? I suddenly stilled when I realized this. I groaned at myself when I further realized that there were still a lot about my Kong's life that I didn't know at the moment.
The PA was looking at me weirdly. I gave her the infamous Head Hazer Scowl ™ . She squeaked and hurried over towards the passenger seat, leaving me to trudge slowly towards the sliding door of the car. I settled in at the middle seat, slapping Bright's legs which were opened so wide. He snorted in his sleep, letting out a confused 'Wha?'. It earned me a slap to the back of my head from the second seat and looked back to glare and growl at the culprit. Tutah was looking at me with an unamused look, being immune to my grumpiness.
"Stop being a grinch to everyone so early in the morning. You're not the only who's leaving behind their loved ones. It's just for a few months for goodness sake. You're not going to war."
I huffed and just turned to look forward, sulkily looking outside the passing scenery outside the window. A few minutes later, something cold was pressed to my cheek, making me startle. I looked at the silver metal tumbler curiously.
"Mmm. You forgot this on your countertop," Tutah said. I accepted it, not remembering anything about it. Curious as to what it was, I opened the lid and the most wonderful smell wafted to my nostrils. I took a peek and a smile bloomed on my face. I immediately screwed the lid shut and turned the thing around, looking for any clue. At the bottom of the cannister was a small piece of sticky note, a cartoon doodle of a man saying 'Rock On!' with the hand on the universal rock sign. I plucked the paper and neatly folded it, tucking it safely inside my wallet. I felt instantly better.
(MON 8:39 PM)
(Sk8r Boi sent an image)
A: We've arrived
A: that bed looks too big
(MON 9:14 PM)
K: invite P'Knot over
K: have a sleepover
A: Why are you so heartless
K: I'm practical
K: Take the ass away
K: just smart
A: I'll just take the smart away
A: and leave the ass
A: and what a glorious piece of ass
K: but yeah, I think I do have a cute ass
K: if I do say so myself
A: someone's conceited
K: No, just being honest
K: I also have trusted informants
A: and who might these be?
K: The ladies who always ogle my derriere
K: and the few occasional boys
K: Just messing with you
K: what are you doing now?
A: chatting with you
K: anything else?
K: Are you really alone in that suite?
A: yea, why?
A: are you thinking dirty thoughts???
K: haha what?
K: of course not
K: I'm with Morgan
K: why would I think impure thoughts around her?
K: was just thinking if you'd feel lonely on that big bed...
A: see! You're thinking dirty thoughts!
A: and in the presence of ur daughter too!
A: pervert Kong!
K: ur the one always thinking of dirty thoughts
K: you were the one who always begged me for another round!
K: I still feel sore btw
K: And morgan def noticed I was limping
A: did she ask?
K: yea. She was really worried
K: asked why I wasn't walking properly
K: said I was walking funny like those older kids in our nbhd back in CA
A: huh? Wdym?
A: wait, are there a lot of gay kids in ur nbhd?
K: or I dunno
K: I dunno if those kids are gay.
K: anyway they were too young to be having sex
K: they were walking funny because they just had circumcised.
A: is this where the dick is... uhm...
K: the foreskin is removed.
K: religion and culture
K: so anyway, she asked me if I had went to the doctor to be circumcised actually
A: wanna be circumcised Kongy?
K: nuh uh.
A: circumcised or not, I'd still take you
A: so wat you tell her?
K: told her I got sore playing football
A: good one
A: you don't know how to play football!
K: I went dumb
A: u certainly did
A: got yelled at this morning
A: by head honcho
K: thot u good?
A: I haven't got the chance to talk with him from the concert
A: so he took this opportunity
A: don't worry about it
A: he's our friend
A: he actually supported us even when three of us came out as bi in a pride parade.
A: he just yells at us and then he talks to us and the PR team about our steps
A: as long as we're not doing sumthin illegal
K: tht's good to know, P
A: also, he's really a good senior to us
A: a good friend
A: he had been the one to discover us
A: we were his frist talents
A: so we go really waaaaay bck
K: oh. That's great!
A: but he won't take our shit
A: without tellin his opinion.
A: he scold us then we good to go
K: I'm relieved
K: at least I won't be causing you to lose your job
A: nope don't worry about it
A: and even if i lost this career
A: I'm still an engineer
A: I'd be an engineer if we hadn't joined that battle of the bands back in college
K: you're right
K: ur a brilliant engineer
K: and here's the proof
A: u still have that?
K: of course
K: it's precious to you
K: it's ur heart
A: what r u on about
K: u don't know the meaning of ur gear???
A: uh. Cogwheels of a machine?
A: a representation of being an engineer?
K: the gear is the representation of an engineer's heart!
K: ur the engineer!!!
K: and a head hazer to boot!!!!
K: how come u never knew dis?!
A: there's such a thing???
A: I didn't know...
K: if u didn't know the deeper meaning, then why did u give me dis?
A: it's cause I didn't have anything of more value to give to you on valentines day
A: I gave you that because it's the most precious thing to me since I worked so hard to earn that
A: and tutah gave me the idea...
K: well P'Tutah was the one who told me about the meaning of the gear
A: wait, so he knew about it?
A: I guess I have to thank him then...
K: I was about to return it to you actually
K: when I learned how hard it was for you engineers to get this.
K: but he stopped me when I told him about it
K: he said that I should just cherish it because it represented your heart
K: so u basically gave me ur heart that time
A: he's the best
A: how bout now?
A: dyou still wanna return it?
K: uhm. No
K: unless u want it back
A: keep it.
A: although, can you take a picture of it at the center of ur palm?
A: as a keepsake and reminder that you have my heart
A: great! Send it to me
(nerd boy sent an image)
The image of the gear on a palm of a tanned hand peaked at number one trending in social media accounts all over Thailand the following day. A certain band vocalist was being yelled at by a stressed out manager while the culprit himself smiled goofily at him.
Back in Bangkok, the owner of the tanned hand was oblivious to the media storm brewing around him, blissfully going on about his day and missing a certain mischievous singer, the suspect gear tied securely on a chain around his neck, hidden by his dress shirt.
Back in Bangkok, an owner of a certain music label rubbed his head in frustration at the unprecedented media post. He was itching to call the culprit but he digressed, letting go of his frustration seeing as the post didn't do any harm. Yet. He groaned in defeat.