Arthit’s phone lit up with a small ping in the darkness, as a little notification from LINE came through. Picking up his phone, he peered at it. Who on earth would be texting him in the middle of the night! His friends knew better than to do that.
Who the fvck?
Tossing his phone aside, Arthit rolled over and buried his face into his pillow. Whoever that was, they could wait till tomorrow.
The day flew by so quickly that Arthit barely had the time to even take a look at his phone. Even though it was their summer break, hazing practices were intense and he had forgotten about the stranger that had texted him. Arthit grumbled daily, becoming a hazer was not his choice.
As he finally laid in bed to rest for the day, he scrolled through his many missed messages, replying to each of them till he reached the last one on the list, from the unknown number. The profile picture seemed familiar but yet gave away no hint at who this person might be. Arthit contemplated just deleting the message but his curiosity got the better of him.
Who is this? Do I know you?
Almost instantaneously, a reply came.
Does getting punched in the face by you count?
Punched? When the hell did he pu-
Oh. Okay nevermind. There had only ever been one person ever that Arthit had punched. When he was fourteen.
Kongpob? Is that you?
Hello P’Arthit. *waves*
How did you get my number?
Friend recommendation list
I’m finally in Bangkok Phi, I’ve missed you.
You’re in Bangkok? Why?
Aw P’Arthit can’t you talk nicely? :(
Don’t you miss me?
I’m going to be studying at your university too Phi.
Arthit groaned, throwing his phone aside. The little menace was his junior, again. Wait a minute. If he was in a different faculty, he would be someone else’s problem. Not his. He couldn’t do this again. Scrambling to pick up his phone, he sent a reply and prayed for the best.
We haven’t talked in years, Kong.
Why would I miss you?
Engineering Phi ^^
It’s okay, I’ve missed you enough for both of us.
This time, Arthit stuffed his phone under his pillow and growled into it. So much for being someone else’s problem. Why did he decide to contact him after so long? And even decided to study at his university? It had been a good 6 years since they last spoke. Why now?
It was as though the world decided he didn’t have enough on his plate, it decided to hand him Kongpob on a platter.
“YOUR WIFE KONG? YOUR WIFE? ARE YOU ACHING TO BE PUNCHED AGAIN AFTER 6 YEARS?” Arthit yelled, his voice echoing throughout the now empty hall, save for the person in front of him. And this was exactly why he didn’t want this boy as his junior again as all his latent feelings threatened to bubble to the surface.
“Hello P’Arthit. No, I like my face just the way it is. I like yours too.”
The little shit had the nerve to smile. Just great.
Arthit glared at him, eyes ablaze. This was basically how things had ended the last time, never to meet again in the next 6 years. He had walked away then, so here was, walking away once more.
Massaging his temple as he walked away, he sighed deeply to himself. This just felt like some weird deja vu. Someone up there must have a really sick idea of a joke to want to put him through this all over again. He couldn’t even stop the flashes of his memories with the other surfacing.
Arthit stared quizzically at the younger boy who had marched up to them huffing. What’s gotten into this boy’s pants now? Nothing good ever came out of his mouth when they were at school.
“P’Arthit, P’Namtarn.” Kongpob wai-ed, still glaring at them.
“What do you want?” Arthit asked.
Turning away from Arthit to face Namtarn instead, Kongpob gritted out, pointing at their linked arms. “P’Namtarn, could you not hold onto P’Arthit like that?”
“Kongpob! You can’t tell us what or what not to do!” Arthit barked, now positively peeved although his cheeks burned red.
“But P’Arthit is going to be my wife, so she can’t touch you like that,” Kongpob readily replied, staring at Arthit dead in the eye without an ounce of fear.
“What the hell! Kongpob!” Arthit roared, grabbing onto the other’s collar.
“Kongpob, you can’t go around saying shit like that!” Arthit grumbled as he threw his bag down and plopped himself down next to the other who was already seated under their wishing tree. This was their spot, no one else in school knew that they spent time together - every day in fact, after school.
“But I meant every word of it.” The younger boy whined, dropping his head upon the other’s shoulder as soon as he had settled down.
“You can’t marry me. No one even knows we hang out.” Arthit whispered, cheeks flushing as he too leaned his head upon Kongpob’s head.
“Watch me. I’ll show the world you’re mine.” Kongpob grinned, grabbing Arthit’s hand in his own.
“You are insane.” Arthit mumbled, but never made a move to pull his hand back.
Shaking his head to stop himself reminiscing, Arthit straightened his hazer jacket and stepped out of the hall, leaving Kongpob behind, staring longingly at his back.
“Why do you keep challenging me?” Arthit spat at Kongpob, once again irritated by his junior’s actions.
“Isn’t that our thing at school Phi? We fight, we argue and we let no one know we’re close.”
Arthit sighed. “We were, Kong. We were close. That’s not our thing now.”
“Why Phi?” Kongpob stepped closer to Arthit, invading his personal space. “I still feel the same.”
Arthit panicked, retreating as the other advanced, causing him to miss a step as he nearly fell backwards from the step. Kongpob however, reached out with his ever quick reflexes, wrapping an arm around his waist to prevent him from hitting the ground and pulling them practically nose to nose.
“Phi.. I still..” Kongpob whispered, inching his face closer to Arthit’s. Flustered, Arthit hurriedly pushed the younger boy away as he made his escape, letting Kongpob’s sentence remain incomplete.
“Ahh!” Arthit yelled as his last step slipped off the tree, causing him to hang awkwardly from the branch. “Kongpob!”
“Phi! Let go, I’ll catch you!” The younger boy yelled, stretching his arms upwards, ready to catch hold of the other.
“Are you crazy! You’re smaller than me!” Arthit screamed, fingers slowly losing his grip.
“Trust me Phi!”
Arthit closed his eyes and let himself fall, it wasn’t as if he had any other choice anyway. He half expected himself to land excruciatingly painfully against the grassy floor but instead found himself cushioned against something soft. A small groan under him made his eyes flutter open and he found himself nose to nose with the younger boy.
Kongpob grinned, arching his neck forward to land a small peck against Arthit’s lips. He soon found himself groaning again though, as Arthit pushed him away in shock, causing him to hit his head hard on the ground.
Arthit shook his head. He knew Kongpob appearing before him again was not going to be good for his heart. He massaged his chest, trying to will his palpitating heart to calm down.
“P’Arthtit, are you crying?” Kongpob asked softly, closing in the distance between them.
“Wh-what no? I’m er.. just tired. Yes, I yawned so my tears came out!” Arthit stammered, flushing red as usual. He quickly tried to wipe away his tears with the back of his hand but Kongpob’s hand grabbed hold of his, stopping him.
Behind the dimly lit bleachers, he looked even more angelic to Kongpob. Leaning in and planting a small kiss upon the tear drop that Arthit had failed to wipe away before he stopped him, he whispered. “I keep my promises Phi, I will kiss your tears away.”
Arthit inhaled sharply, feeling a small stab of pain in his chest and responded before he could process what he was saying. “You weren’t there for the last 6 years.” He was feeling incredibly vulnerable, with so many different emotions swimming around. The flag capturing ceremony, his juniors thanking him and now, Kongpob. There was only so much one could handle.
In the last few weeks Kongpob had managed to rile him up, making all the feelings he had carefully put away surface one by one. and he was tired of fighting them now. He wanted to go back to where they were. He had always wanted that.
He leaned his head on Kongpob’s shoulder, lightly gripping onto the bottom of the younger’s t-shirt. He was tired of being on guard and he was tired of pretending that Kongpob didn’t affect him. Anyone with eyes could tell that his relationship was different with his ‘special junior 0062’ as his friends have so endearingly nicknamed him.
As Kongpob’s arms gently wound around him, Arthit could feel the tension in his body leaving him, as he sighed in content, his fingers gripping on tighter ever so slightly.
“You left me behind Phi. You didn’t even give me a chance. You just punched me.. And left the very next day. Did you know how devastated I was when I found your house completely empty?” Kongpob murmured, softly rubbing circles onto the other’s trembling back.
“You brought Aim over to our tree. Our tree. And you said all that.. What was I supposed to think? I got mad. I was supposed to tell you we were leaving the next day but..” Arthit’s voice trailed off, remembering what had happened.
“There. You happy now? This is where I come every day after school. I’m not going to the arcade behind your back, Aim.” Kongpob gestured around the area, rolling his eyes at his best friend.
“Here? Why? It’s so.. Lame.” Aim finished off, shrugging as he frowned, scrunching his nose and sniffing the air. This was not what he expected at all.
“It helps me think. It’s not a big deal, there’s nothing particularly special about it.” Kongpob said, playing it cool. He wasn’t about to tell Aim that he spent every afternoon with Arthit. He didn’t want to share the time that he had with his senior with anyone else.
Little did he know that Arthit was just a small distance away and heard everything he had said. The elder felt hurt, hearing that Kongpob said that the time they had spent was ‘nothing particularly special about it’. He had cherished every single moment he had together with the younger boy. But it seemed like it was a one way street and everything Kongpob had said to him was just a pretty little lie.
Here he was, wrecking his brain over how to tell Kongpob he was leaving tomorrow. His family had to move to Bangkok urgently to join his sickly grandparents and well, right now, it seemed like the younger one wouldn't even care. He had even wanted to ask Kongpob to come with him - guess the joke's on him now. Storming away, he wiped away his tears on his sleeves.
“Phi, why didn’t you come to the tree in the afternoon? I spent the whole time waiting for you to appear.” Kongpob whined, trying to cling onto Arthit’s arm. He had waited the whole afternoon for Arthit but the elder never showed.
“I figured it wasn’t important whether or not I showed up. It’s not a big deal after all, nothing special about it right Nong?” Arthit shrugged, never actually facing Kongpob.
Kongpob winced, Arthit always called him Kong. He hated that he was calling him Nong now. Reaching out once again, he pleaded. “P’Arthit, please. You know that’s not-”
“DON’T TOUCH ME.” Arthit yelled, punching the younger in the face, causing Kongpob to stagger backwards.
Kongpob stared at him, stunned by the outburst while a small patch of blood started oozing from his lower lip. Arthit himself glared hard at the other, a little guilty that he had caused pain to the younger but his anger still got the better of him as he turned on his heels and stormed away.
And that was the last time Kongpob saw Arthit. To his dismay, Arthit’s house was empty the very next afternoon he went over. He had even brought an iced pink milk in hopes of pacifying the elder but was met with the neighbours informing him that the Rojnapats had moved out bright and early in the morning.
“I went over to your house the very next day Phi. I wanted to explain.” Kongpob said, voice cracking a little. “I only said that to Aim to get him off my back. I didn’t want him to join us.” He tightened his arms around Arthit. “You’re mine and mine alone.”
Arthit gasped softly, of all the things he had imagined, he had never thought that Kongpob saying all that was simply because of his possessiveness. Over the years he had let go of his anger, admitting to himself that he was being childish and obviously jealous. But he had genuinely thought that Kongpob could have possibly grown bored of their little wishing tree nonsense. Or that Kongpob was more interested in looking cool in front of his best friend.
“I’ve missed you Phi, so much.” Kongpob sniffled, tucking his nose into the nape of Arthit’s neck. “Every day I wished for you to come back to me. There isn’t any more space left on the branches to tie wishing ribbons anymore. But you never came.”
“So I came instead.” His arms tightened around the other. “Please don’t leave me behind again,” he begged, “I don’t think I could survive another 6 years without you.”
Guilt panged throughout Arthit, as he brought his own arms around Kongpob. He had wanted to reach out to the other through the years, but each time, his courage faltered and he never made the call.
“I’m sorry, Kong. I was jealous then.” He admitted begrudgingly, trying to nuzzle himself further into the other’s embrace.
Kongpob smirked, pulling back to push Arthit’s fringe out of the way and chuckling a little when the elder one tried to follow his shoulder with his forehead. Cupping his cheeks, he landed a series of small kisses on his blushing senior, first on his lips, then his eyes and forehead.
Pulling out the thread he got from Fang earlier, Kongpob held it out for Arthit. “Phi, could you tie this on for me?”
His senior rolled his eyes, mumbling to himself. "Feels like I'm tying this on the tree now. When did you get so tall?"
Kongpob beamed, planting a small kiss to the top of Arthit's head. He had missed this, being close to the other.
"Take care of the flag for me," Arthit said. Taking a deep breath, he continued in a much softer voice. "And I wish for you to never leave my side again."
Kongpob felt like his heart was about to burst as he gathered Arthit once again into his arms who returned his hug almost immediately and swayed their bodies gently side to side. The 2,312 ribbons he had tied finally paid off, but who was counting right?