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Sweet Pink Love

Chapter Text

“I’m telling you Kong, he would be the best candidate!” Aim repeated himself for the umpteenth time as he watched his stubborn best friend stir up a new batch of pancake mix.

“Everyone knows that he’s the fastest in the district. I don’t know what you have against the guy.”

Kongpob rolled his eyes as he set the bowl down. Leaning forward over the kitchen counter, he stared at Aim.

“I don’t have anything against him. I just want to make sure I get the right delivery guy for my products.” Picking up his batter, he lovingly stared at the mixture as he continued, “everyone knows pancakes are time sensitive.”

“Which is why I’m telling you, he is the best!” Aim groaned. “He has a proven track record and my cousin highly recommended him!” 

Kong seemed to have not heard a thing as he hummed happily, picking up a pan and placing it upon the stove. 

“Kong, I’ve already asked him to drop by today at 2 in the afternoon so please be nice.” Aim called out as he was leaving the cafe.

“I will be nice if he meets my standards.” Kongpob hollered after him.

He continued busying around the kitchen, humming along as he whipped up batch after batch of pancakes. Kongpob was experimenting with various flavours and jotting down notes in his notebook as he went along, deciding which were the new flavours to add to his new menu. He had prided himself in the cafe’s constant ability to surprise their customers and refreshing their menu every quarterly was key. 

However, with the current pandemic situation, Kongpob was finding it harder to keep his fanbase. Even though he had insisted on doing a limited area for delivery, the delivery services weren’t up to his speed standards and he had been through 5 different services to date. It had gotten to a point where he had to cease the cafe’s operations, at least until he had found a service that could safely and perfectly deliver his pancakes within 15 minutes so that they maintained their structural integrity. 

Aim had called him insane for a week but Kongpob was adamant. He had refused to let any of his loyal customers down. So here he was, interviewing the 5th delivery rider in 2 days. It was almost impossible to find a decent delivery guy to work with in this period of time when delivery was rampant and every food business was turning to them for services.  

At exactly 2 in the afternoon, a pale, handsome guy walked into the cafe. Just as Kongpob was about to call out that they were closed out of reflex, he stopped himself in time. Glancing at the clock, that had just struck 2 at the point the guy stepped in, he checked off the first box in his mind. 

Punctuality. He liked that.

“Hello! Are you Kongpob?” The pale man offered a courteous wai. 

“Yes, you must be Arthit.” Kongpob wai-ed back.

“That’s actually P’Arthit for you if you’re Aim’s friend. Didn't he tell you?” The older guy answered, removing his mask while slowly turning in a circle and taking in the decor and atmosphere of the cafe.

Kongpob frowned, Aim had not mentioned a thing about Arthit being older. It would have been something he would have remembered. Kongpob was always respectful of his seniors. 

“I’m sorry Phi, it must have slipped his mind,” Kongpob quickly apologised, wiping his hands on his apron and stepping out from the kitchen.

He could see Arthit assessing him from head to toe and he smirked, while doing the exact same thing to the man he could now see clearly in front of him.

For someone who was a delivery rider, Arthit was surprisingly fair. Kongpob wondered mindlessly if he had a skin care routine to maintain this pale. He also neither held nor wore a helmet like the rest of the delivery guys who had come by the last two days.

“It’s okay,” Arthit waved his hand around. “This is a nice place you have here. I like the industrial look.”

“Thanks,” Kongpob smiled, checking off the second box in his head. Maybe working with Arthit was not going to be a bad thing. He had been the only person to comment about the cafe’s style - it meant that he cared about details and that was something Kongpob appreciated.

Attention to detail, checked.

“So Aim said you needed someone fast, like really fast.” Arthit said, settling himself down at the table nearest to him and patting the chair next to him.

Kongpob nodded, taking the seat beside him. “I sell pancakes, see. Without speed, they’ll just,” he made a flattening hand gesture, “collapse. Kind of like a sandcastle in a tide.”

“Oh oh! Are they those fluffy, jiggly ones?” Arthit asked excitedly, clapping his hands. He had always been a fan of desserts but never quite had the time to indulge himself in between working to pay the bills and his part-time courses.

Chuckling, Kongpob nodded again. “Yeah, they’re called souffle pancakes P’Arthit. And because of the way they are made, if my customers don’t get them in 15 minutes, they’re basically a flattened pancake. Which neither tastes nor look good.” 

“So why don’t you just sell the normal pancakes?” Arthit asked thoughtfully. It seemed to him that there was an easy way out of this but yet this strange cafe owner didn’t seem interested in taking it. 

“Sure I could, but that is not what my customers know me for. I would like to still be able to offer them the same experience they would get if they were dining in. This pandemic has made everyone depressed enough. I’d like my food to bring some joy to people.” Kongpob explained. 

Then suddenly, as the timer went off, Kongpob shot up from his seat. 

“P’Arthit, do you have anything on after this? Would you like to try my pancakes? I just made a fresh batch.”

The older of the two nodded excitedly as he trailed after Kongpob to the open kitchen. Watching Kongpob lift the lid, he low key squealed when he saw the jiggly goodness underneath being revealed. 

Kongpob smiled, plating up the pancakes with utmost care and dropping a few different garnishes on it. Arthit’s eye were sparkling with excitement when Kongpob served up his plate of sweet, delectable goodness.

Before Kongpob could actually explain what he had presented the older guy with, Arthit had already stabbed his fork into one of them and was already shoveling it into his mouth. He let out a small moan as the pancake melted into his mouth.

“I can see why you have a fanbase now. This is so good. ” Arthit groaned with a half full mouth, as he stuffed a chunk of strawberry in again.

“You like it?” Kongpob asked, his eyes twinkling. “I was wondering if it would be too sweet.”

“No, definitely not! It is just nice! This is pink milk flavoured isn't it? Arthit rambled on while continuously eating. “I love anything that’s pink milk. I’d totally order this!”

Kongpob grinned, a little dazed by the adorable sight in front of him. It had been so long since he had seen the face of someone enjoying his pancakes, let alone such a handsome man with the cutest dimple ever. 

“I’ll do it.” Arthit nodded approvingly, as he devoured the last bits of his pancake. He stared longingly at the plate, wondering if he should lick it clean. 

“Hmm?” Kongpob responded, a little confused.

“Delivery!” Arthit said. “That’s what I’m here for, right?”

“Oh. Yes. Right.” Kongpob mumbled. He had been so distracted by Arthit that he had forgotten he was here for an interview.

“Do you ride a bike? I didn’t see one up front.”

“Yes, and no. It’s not the bike you’re thinking of. It’s a bicycle.” Arthit supplied, rubbing his tummy. 

Kongpob frowned. A bicycle? The other riders could barely make his standards even on a regular motorbike. How was Arthit going to ensure that his deliveries were made in 15 minutes?

“Oh don’t worry. It’s precisely because I’m on my bike, I can go places the normal bikes can’t. You’ll see.” Arthit clicked his tongue, throwing a confident chin jerk Kongpob’s way. 

Kongpob nodded, even though he wasn’t quite sure what Arthit meant. 

“Look, if you don’t trust me, we could try this out for a month first.” Arthit offered, patting his shoulder. “I’m sure Aim’s already told you my rates right? You good with that?”

Kongpob nodded again, amazed at the guy’s confidence. He was the first person to have said that he would be able to manage Kongpob’s expectations. Without any protests too. He figured it couldn’t hurt to try out the arrangement. He had nothing to lose anyway, it wasn’t like he had a better option right now.

So they shook hands on it and parted ways for the day, agreeing that their little arrangement would begin in a week, after Kongpob had made the necessary preparations for the reopening of his cafe - or his kitchen at least.

Chapter Text

“Kong, I’m so hungry right now I’ll collapse on your kitchen floor if you don’t feed me soon.” Arthit whined as he flopped himself dramatically down upon the open kitchen’s counter and pulled up a chair to plonk himself on.

Kongpob chuckled, shaking his head as he checked his timer. Picking up the quiche he had popped into the oven earlier, he brought their plates over as Arthit picked himself off the counter and eyed the food greedily. 

In the month that they had worked together, they had fallen into a comfortable routine, with Arthit picking up his deliveries throughout the day and crashing Kongpob’s cafe in the nights after his last delivery or night classes. The peace of Kongpob’s cafe was conducive for his studying and the younger man had a guinea pig to test out the various flavours of pancakes he loved to experiment with. It was a win-win for both of them.

Kongpob had no idea how he ended up feeding this man child every night who would whine petulantly at him till he had food in his stomach. And somehow, he found it cute - not that he would ever admit it to the older guy. While spending time with Arthit, he had learnt that the older was a cat under the disguise of a lion. Arthit was always quick to anger, but refused to ever share what was on his mind. Not till Kongpob pried it out of his mouth that was. 

Just like the time Arthit had come back in a mad huff and Kongpob had received a complaint call about his extremely rude delivery guy. It took Kongpob many rounds of convincing and a special pink milk bribe before Arthit relented and told him the truth. Turned out that the customer had said to his face that Kongpob’s pancakes were merely ‘mediocre’ and he had to ‘settle’ for these terrible tasting pancakes simply because no other cafes were doing deliveries. This resulted in a highly defensive Arthit and a very nasty exchange of words.

“He doesn’t deserve your pancakes,” the elder grumbled after he related the story. “Don’t you ever take another order from him, I’m never going to deliver it.” He added on menacingly, glaring at Kongpob and prodding him in the chest to prove his point. This whole encounter warmed Kongpob’s heart greatly and his hands had itched to drag Arthit securely into his arms to pacify him but he resisted. So he settled for agreeing and ruffling the soft head of hair as the other guy continued to grumble under his breath. 

Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he watched contentedly as the elder guy stuffed himself with the quiche, blowing out the heat from the mouthful he had shovelled into his mouth while exclaiming ‘hot hot’.

Kongpob shook his head, as he thought to himself, ‘what a child’. He picked up the pink milk he had prepared earlier beforehand and placed it in front of the other, much to Arthit’s delight. He busily fanned the bite of quiche that was still sitting in his mouth with one hand and made to grab his favourite drink with the other. 

“Ah,” Arthit let out, as he finally managed to swallow his food and immediately flushed it down with a large gulp of pink milk. “That was too hot!” He grumbled, eyeing the still amused other guy in front of him.

“It isn’t my fault you eat like a baby dinosaur.” He chortled as he grabbed a napkin and wiped the crusty bits off the left side of Arthit’s mouth. Picking up his own quiche and drinks, he rounded over the kitchen counter and settled himself beside Arthit. 

“What baby dinosaur!” The older guy exclaimed indignantly. “It’s not my fault your food tastes that good and I’ve been riding around in the heat out there making deliveries. Have you even stepped out the last few hours? I’ve been literally melting out there.”

“Yes yes,” Kongpob laughed. He scooped a spoonful of his own quiche and blew on it lightly, bringing it to Arthit’s mouth when he deemed it cool enough. 

“Stop patronizing me.” Arthit grumbled all while still opening his mouth wide to allow the other to feed him. “Oh I like yours better!” He nodded excitedly. 

Shaking his head, Kongpob swiftly swapped their plates over. “It’s a new flavour I’ve been testing out. Kind of like a fusion flavour.”

“It’s soooooo good.” Arthit declared, happily stuffing his mouth once again. “I know you like to keep things exciting but I really think you should keep some things permanently on the menu!”

He thought for a while, seriously trying to recall his favourites this last month. “Damn there are too many good ones. But pink milk souffles really should stay. They’re the best!”

“You’re only saying that because you’re biased to pink milk. You spit my coffee souffles out that day. They’re a hot favourite right now you know?” Kongpob reasoned, rolling his eyes slightly. Arthit really could be such a child sometimes. 

It had also surprised him greatly when Arthit had actually spat the pancake out the last time he tried it. The man had been his most ardent fan but the rejection of coffee flavoured items was real. Which was a great pity because coffee was Kongpob’s own favourite flavour. 

But nevertheless, the young cafe owner was more than happy to pamper his delivery man, often making only things that he knew would suit the other’s tastes. He’d never quite felt this comfortable with anyone in a long time and he never wanted it to end. He had secretly been hoping for the lockdown to be extended but he knew it wasn’t going to happen as the cases lessened day by day. 

He wondered if he should speak to Arthit about this. He had intended to continue the delivery service for the cafe but between running the actual cafe and preparing food for the deliveries too, he wasn’t sure he could manage on his own. Arthit was also absolutely no help in the kitchen having zero patience in waiting for things to actually cook. 

They’d tried one day, when Arthit was nagging him about learning how to make souffle pancakes for himself. But the older man kept opening the covers early despite the timer being in his face and over whisking the batter so that all the egg whites basically fell apart, leaving them with lumpy pancakes. Arthit was not too pleased that day but Kongpob laughed so much he felt like he had developed abs. 

“Kong,” Arthit started after spooning the last mouthful of quiche into his mouth. “Lockdown’s ending soon. Do you have any plans?” 

To be honest, Arthit was dreading the answer. He had gotten used to being around Kongpob, and it really did help that the food was good. He had better focus during his part time classes too since he had started working with Kongpob, the timing of work and studies now hardly clashing with each other. 

But most of all, he liked spending time with Kongpob. The guy was easy to be with, never asking him too many personal questions - not that he needed to. Arthit trusted him more than anyone else he knew at the moment and that meant a lot. He didn’t let people into his heart often.

Kongpob wasn’t like those other snobby rich people he knew. He never once judged him for the fact that he was older and yet still having to work part time and take night classes. In fact, Kongpob had expressly said that he admired Arthit’s determination to complete his masters.

The younger guy had also accidentally let out about the fact that he had a family business that his father was expecting him to take over but of course, Kongpob being Kongpob, had decided to take his life into his own hands. Which was why this prince who had never cooked a meal in his life was now running a tiny little cafe that was hiding in a far corner of the street. 

With the oncoming end of the lockdown, Arthit was now potentially faced with the fact that Kongpob may no longer require his delivery services, since the cafe would be fully functional once again.

"I don't know yet, I haven't thought through the manpower issues and who knows what business would be like when we resume. I mean it could possibly be completely quiet." Kongpob mused, thinking out loud.

Arthit shook his head. Seemed like the younger guy had no idea what the situation was like out there. Arthit had made more deliveries in this past month in such a small neighbourhood radius than compared to his previous place. A lot more. The number of repeat customers was also uncountable. If this was any indication of how popular Kongpob's pancakes were, business would surely pick up once the cafe reopened. Arthit was sure of it.

"What are you laughing at?" Kongpob asked, staring hard at Arthit. Truth be told, he just wanted to continue seeing that face light up like that all the time. The appearance of those dimples were so rare he could probably count them with his two hands. Arthit had always kept up his grouchy front which was actually nowhere near his warm personality. And Kongpob was getting increasingly attracted towards him, much more than he’d admit to himself.

"The cafe will be fine, Kong. You need to have more faith in yourself." Arthit continued chuckling while shaking his head, clapping the other in the back.

Feeling a strange tingling jolt from where Arthit had patted him in the back, Kongpop cleared his throat awkwardly before gathering up the used utensils. 

"I guess we'll see how it goes."

Chapter Text

“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.