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Sweet Pink Love

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“Kong! What’s the next..” Arthit’s voice trailed off as he saw an unfamiliar figure in the usual apron that Kongpob wore, serving the customers that were seated in the now crowded cafe. 

The figure looked up at him and flashed what clearly was a smile behind the mask. She stepped towards the counter and took a paper bag that was already placed there. Arthit’s eyes followed her, his attention quickly diverting to the familiar back that was clearly busy in the kitchen.

The paper bag soon appeared in front of his face, startling him out of his reverie. 

“P’Arthit right?” The girl asked sweetly, handing the bag over to him that he took from her out of reflex. “P’Kong says it’s the last one for the day.” She said politely before wai-ing him and rushing back to the floor to attend to the customers. 

Arthit stood for a few seconds wondering what had just happened. Kongpob had not mentioned that he would be hiring any help. He would have offered his. The amount of deliveries had now significantly decreased and Arthit was considering bringing up switching over to help Kongpob in the cafe instead. He had seen how the younger struggled and he wanted to help, in any way he could.

But as he was watching the young girl flit around the customers with ease, he wondered if he could even be of much help. He didn’t know how to interact with people. Hell, he didn’t even have many friends. How was he going to take care of customers? He most certainly didn’t know how to cook so he was definitely useless in that department. So in the end, there was nothing - absolutely nothing he could do to help Kongpob except make deliveries. 

A pang of jealousy hit him hard as he heard the girl call out ‘P’Kong’ all too familiarly. Who the hell was she to be calling Kongpob so intimately. She had clearly just appeared today so why was she acting as if she knew him so well? He grit his teeth hard as Kongpob spun around to find out what she needed. 

Kongpob turned to see what Khaofang had called him for when he caught a glimpse of his favourite person standing by the door. He flashed a bright smile and was just about to call out to Arthit when the other’s face turned sour and stormed out of the door without a word. Kongpob, baffled by the action, was about to step out of the kitchen when Khaofang handed him a handful of order chits. 

He stared at the papers in his hands and clenched them in his fist. He couldn’t go after Arthit now. He would just have to wait to find out what was wrong with the elder guy after his last delivery and when they were once again alone in the shop. Sighing, he shook his head and turned his focus towards the chits that were now completely crumpled. He couldn’t disappoint his customers. 

Kongpob closed the shop faster than he ever had as he went about anxiously preparing all the older guy’s favourites. He made sure to have all the food and drinks waiting and ready to be served. If Arthit’s reaction in the afternoon was anything to go by, he was going to need all the help he could get to appease the anger of the other - whatever it was that triggered his reaction at least. He sat on his high chair, body angled towards the door, impatiently waiting for it to swing open.

Except there was one problem - Arthit never showed. 

Kongpob had sent a ton of messages and left an excessive, close to stalker amount of missed calls and yet, there was still no reply from the other. Arthit was more than an hour late by then and it really wasn’t like him. It was one of the traits that Kongpob liked about the other. He was always on time.  Desperate, he rang up the only other person he knew could help him.

“Hello? Kong? What’s up?”

“Aim, I need your help. Do you know where P’Arthit is?”

“Isn’t he at yours? P’Bright says he never gets to see his friend anymore because P’Arthit would rather hang out with you. He’s getting jealous, you know.” Aim chuckled through the line.

“No, he’s not here. He didn’t say he wasn’t coming either and I’m worried. He has classes today but he should have been here by 10!” Kongpob answered hurriedly, checking the clock. It was already 11.15pm and the other was still nowhere in sight. 

“Hmm, let me ask P’Bright if he knows anything okay? I’ll call you back.” 

“Thanks Aim.” Kongpob sighed, hanging up. 

Gathering his keys, he shut off the lights in the cafe. He figured that he could at least try going by Arthit’s house while he waited for news from Aim. Locking the shop door, he was about to stride off towards his car when he noticed a crouched figure hidden in the shadows, a small distance away from his store front. A tell tale bicycle was parked not 2 metres away from his car. 

“P’Arthit..” Kongpob called out, approaching cautiously. “Is that you?” 

The person looked up, expression panicked. It was clear that he was deliberating making a run for it as his eyes flicked between his bike and Kongpob. Kongpob could tell exactly what Arthit was thinking so he marched forward and pulled him into a firm hug before he could move. Sighing into the older guy’s neck, he finally felt like he could breathe again after being so antsy for the past hour. 

“Oh my god, you’re okay. I’ve been so worried,” he whispered, hugging the other tighter, completely disregarding the small squirms. “How long have you been out here?”

There was silence for a few minutes before Arthit gave up struggling against him and slumped full force into his embrace, his own hands slowly crawling up to clutch onto the younger guy’s waist.

“An hour and fifteen minutes.” Arthit mumbled.

“What!” Kongpob exclaimed, tearing himself away. “Why didn’t you come in!” He dragged the now surprisingly pliant older guy towards the cafe, quickly unlocking the door and letting them in.

Arthit sat himself down quietly at his usual spot, watching Kongpob as he busied around the kitchen. A pink milk was set in front of him first while the younger guy worked to reheat all the food he had prepared earlier. Arthit wanted to ask Kongpob so many things. He wanted to question him who that girl was and why the other had not told him earlier that he needed help. He wanted to throw a tantrum at Kongpob but he had immediately felt that he was being ridiculous the moment he had felt the younger’s arms around him.

He didn’t know exactly why he was feeling like this. When he had seen the girl in the cafe earlier, he wanted nothing but to rip her away from Kongpob’s side and throw her out of their cafe. She didn’t belong. It was supposed to be just Kongpob and him. He frowned to himself, confused by his own thoughts. 

“P’Arthit?” Kongpob called out, watching the other’s face as multiple expressions flitted across. He didn’t know what was troubling him but he really didn’t like seeing Arthit like this. Reaching over the counter, he gently brushed the older’s fringe out of the way.

Arthit jerked, slightly startled before turning a brilliant shade of mauve. Kongpob was leaning over the counter staring at him intensely with a concerned look. He knew he was being ridiculous but he didn’t even understand why he felt that way after seeing the girl so how was he even going to stop?

“P’Arthit? Are you okay?” Kongpob asked quietly. “Why did you wait outside instead of coming in?” 

“I didn’t know if she was still around.” Arthit confessed, staring down at his fingers and picking at the skin.

“Who?” Kongpob questioned, genuinely confused.

“The girl who was wearing your apron.” Arthit’s voice came out slightly harsher this time around. 

“Khaofang? Why would you not come in just because she was around Phi?” 

“You two looked.. Cozy.” He gritted, plucking harder at his thumb and causing him to hiss as it started bleeding. 

Kongpob grabbed a kitchen towel and rounded over to Arthit’s side, pressing it upon his bleeding thumb. 

“P’Arthit, I’ve known that girl since she was in diapers, of course we’re cozy.” Kongpob chuckled lightly, waiting for the other to understand what he’d just said.

Arthit nodded, now focused on the other pair of hands that cradled his before Kongpob’s words dawned on him. He looked up at the younger guy, blinking furiously. 

“Wh-what do you mean?” He stammered.

“Khaofang’s my little cousin. She’s been looking for a part time job to earn some money and I figured the cafe could use the help. Her mum’s also less worried since she’s working for me.” Kongpob shrugged, his eyes never leaving Arthit’s. 

He watched as the poor older guy started to change all sorts of red, finally settling on the most lovely shade of crimson that decorated both his cheeks and ears. Tugging his hands towards himself, causing Arthit to fall upon his chest, he whispered into his ear.

“Were you jealous P’Arthit?”

“Wh-What! No! I-I just- I!” The flustered reply came almost immediately as Arthit sputtered incoherently. 

Kongpob pecked the flushed cheek lightly before pulling back, “Aw, I was so happy for a moment there.” He said, pouting lightly. 

“No- I- I-,” Arthit continued but panicked further the minute Kongpob released his hands, crestfallen and turned away from him.

“I just didn’t like that there was someone else in our cafe.” He finished hurriedly, holding onto Kongpob’s elbow. 

Kongpob grinned with his back towards Arthit. The older guy was just too cute. Turning around to face him again, he smirked and trapped Arthit who was still seated on the high chair between his arms, forcing his back against the counter. 

“Our?”

Arthit refused to answer him, turning his head to stare at nothing in particular. 

“P’Arthit, you can’t be that dense, can you? I make you your favourite food all the time. I stay in the cafe till wee hours just to keep you company while you study. I’m still engaging your services for delivery even though I can barely deal with what’s going on in the cafe. I think it’s safe to say that even the blind can tell that I like you.” Kongpob said, his face inching closer to Arthit’s with every word. 

Arthit gasped, turning his head around to face the other. But he found his lips pressed lightly against Kongpob’s instead. He blinked furiously again, as Kongpob stared right back at him, neither of them moving. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and pressed harder against Kongpob before withdrawing not two seconds later to bury his head against the younger’s shoulders. 

“I like you too,” he murmured against Kongpob, bringing his hands up to hug him. After a small pause he added, “now can we eat? I'm starving.”

Kongpob let out a loud laugh and gave the other a tight squeeze and a light peck on the forehead. Only Arthit could turn a romantic moment into one about food.

“I thought you’d never ask.” He said, before reluctantly releasing him to go to the kitchen to pull out the food from the warmer for his boyfriend.

As they were finally eating their late dinner, Kongpob pulled out a copy of the new menu he had prepared for their next season’s launch in the upcoming week. 

“Here, tell me what you think.” He said, passing it over to Arthit. 

Scanning the items, Arthit gave an approving nod. 

“It looks good!” He replied, smiling shyly at the other and pointing at a particular menu item named ‘Sweet Pink Love’, “I like that this is here to stay.” 

“Just for you.” Kongpob declared adoringly as he laced their fingers together.