SOTUS S: The Third Year and the Office Worker
SOTUS S, Lover’s Rule No. 13: Review your feelings
Arthit returned to the Purchasing Department with the envelope with the documents in it. In order not to become the focus of attention, he tried to calm down his emotions and show a relaxed look, trying his best to act as usual. What he didn’t expect was that as soon as he came back, Kongpop would catch up with him in the elevator and suddenly appear in front of him, grabbing him by the wrist.
“Phii Arthit, let’s talk.”
The gesture drew the attention of all the staff in the office, which converged and hit them like a spotlight.
Then, from somewhere, there was a murmur: “The two gay lovers are making love scenes again.”
“I’ve been wondering, why does Kong, the son of a big company owner, come to this company for an internship, so he’s here to follow his boyfriend. If you don’t like women, you should’ve said so earlier.” Somoo tone was sorry when she said that.
“Haven’t we been together since college and you’re so glued to each other, you can’t tell what’s ‘business’ and what’s ‘personal’?!!”
Earth joined in the accusations and the displeasure was palpable.
“If my son had been like these two, I wouldn’t have been able to accept it.” Manager Danai cast a silent look of disgust at them.
“Mr. Sun!” Oh no, it’s ‘Mr. Sunshine’ now.” And Todd was teasing him, giving him a nickname.
“Well, who’s gonna attack and who’s gonna take it? Or do you want to take turns at a set time?”
Everyone was laughing, very happy. But the laughter struck him again and again, stabbing at the depths of his soul and he closed his eyes tightly. No! Enough! That’s enough!
“Arthit… Arthit”, his name was repeated between the jeers. He opened his eyes and all the faces that had surrounded him disappeared since they were all his imagination playing on him, leaving only the face of Earth, looking at him worriedly.
“Arthit, what happened to you? I’ve been calling you so many times I can hear you.”
He replied frantically, looking around the office as everyone did their work at their desks and Kongpop didn’t catch up with him, as if what he’d just seen was a nightmare.
“Give me the information the courier just delivered.”
He handed over the envelope with the information in it and in his haste, his hand accidentally swept the carton off the table and onto the floor.
“Ah! Phii Earth, sorry!”
“Here, let me help you pick it up.” Phii was about to bend down to pick it up but her brother immediately grabbed it in a hurry.
“Never mind, I’ll pick them up later.” Arthit hurriedly saved everything together, hoping that the feelings that had been shattered in his heart would be reassembled like these cartons. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t reassemble the disintegrating pieces. On the other hand, Kongpop was putting together all the data and sending it to the production engineers.
“Phii Yong, it’s done.” Yong took the list of smokeless grills he gave to the intern to print out half an hour ago. Although Kongpop is usually fast and accurate, today it seemed faster than usual, only took fifteen minutes and no mistakes at all.
“All right, thanks.”
“Then I’d like to go first.” It’s five minutes before the end of the day but since Kongpop’s work is done, it wouldn’t hurt to let him go home a little earlier than usual.
“Well, have a safe trip.” Kongpop raised his hand in salute, then he put on his backpack and walked out of the factory. But who’d have thought, shortly after leaving, a man would come looking for him with a white face.
“Phii Yong! Where’s Kongpop?”
Naai came straight at me, asking questions and looking anxiously left and right.
“Oh, he went back, just now.” Seeing Samadhi’s restlessness, Yong couldn’t help but ask,” What’s the matter?”
“Doesn’t Phii Yong know?”
The young man who was absorbed in his work looked astonished, completely different from the intern who looked extremely worried. Whoever passed by the office building of Ocean Electric at the end of the day would see a handsome, tall young man standing at the wall waiting anxiously. Soon, a white-collar guy came out of the office in a hurry.
It was a loud shout but the owner of the name didn’t turn around, he stopped a taxi, opened the door and got in, seemingly leaving him there on purpose. What’s going on? Kongpop stood bewildered, watching the taxi leave without a trace. He knew that Phii Arthit was angry with him but this time it seemed to be more serious than ever. Beep!
Then a horn sounded, a dainty Japanese bus pulled up beside him, the glass rolled down and Earth, sitting behind the wheel, invited him: “Kong, I’ll take you home.”
“Looking at you for a long, long time, I still don’t dare but keep avoiding your eyes, afraid that one day you’ll find out a secret I’ve kept from you, a secret I’ve kept from you. The secrets I’ve kept, I’ve told no one, I can’t help it” An old love song played on the radio in the car, as if it was the opening of a program on emotional problems and Earth turned into an expert on emotions, offering advice and counsel.
“I think anyway, you and Arthit should have a talk.”
“I tried to talk but Arthit wouldn’t listen, probably still angry that I didn’t tell him that Siam Polymers was my father’s company.” Kongpop sighed in desperation but the other party didn’t think so.
“I don’t think that’s the only reason.”
Earth picked up her phone and handed it over to this unsuspecting person. The phone’s screen stopped at the Ocean Electric LINE group. Since Kongpop was only an intern and couldn’t join the group, he didn’t know that a photo had been leaked.
It’s a photo of him and Arthit kissing on the beach on the night of the hike. There were a lot of comments on it, making fun of them, or joking about the umbilical cord but most of them weren’t malicious or disgusting, they were just funny. But those who spoke did not mean to but those who listened meant to. It was like throwing a small stone into the water and no one knew how big the” stone” would be in the listener’s mind. That’s why Phii Arthit tried to run away from him.
“I think that sometimes in a relationship, there are difficulties and obstacles but the key is to hold each other’s hands tightly enough to overcome them.” As someone who’s been in a failed relationship before, Earth knows all about these things and doesn’t want her brothers to make the same mistakes she did. Kongpop thought quietly, while the song he had once sung to someone was still playing.
“He wanted to know what Phii Arthit had in mind for the future, when their secret was no longer a secret. Arthit stepped out of the elevator and went straight to his room. The news of the company’s LINE group and the ridicule of others filled his mind and couldn’t be shaken. He wanted to get home as fast as possible, alone. But as he turned the key, a force grabbed him by the wrist. This time it wasn’t a nightmare. Kongpop was standing in front of him, looking tired, as if he had run a long way just to catch up with him. And then Kongpop’s words, stabbed him in the heart once again.
“Phii Arthit, I already know about the photograph.” What didn’t want to happen has already happened, the fear is overwhelming and the person being held tries hard to get his hands free.
“Let go of me, Kongpop!”
The big tall man still squeezed his wrist tightly and in a more serious and earnest tone than he had every time in the past, he blurted out all his feelings in a single breath.
“You once told me that I didn’t ask for your advice before doing something but Arthit himself also did it first and then did it later. Facing problems, Arthit only wanted to escape from reality but not to overcome them together.”
The words that had come out of his own mouth, were now being used against him, yet Arthit still stubbornly ignored them.
“I told you to let go! Don’t come near me!”
Kongpop froze. Every time he was pushed away, he was chasing so hard to close the gap between them that he didn’t know how much distance to keep between them to be” just right” for Phii Arthit. He was a marathon runner with no end in sight and although he had the strength to keep on running, deep inside he had begun to shrink.
“He loved Phii Arthit unconditionally, even if they were of the same gender. He was sure that no matter how hard it was, if they loved each other enough, they would be able to get through it. But he had forgotten… completely forgotten that if they are not the same, if they do not love each other equally, if one tries to hold on to the other and the other tries to run away, then no matter how much they love each other, they are doomed.
“For the past two years, has there been any meaning for seniors? And me, what am I to you? A lover? A younger brother? Or just ‘someone you know’?”
What place should he put himself in the heart of Phii Arthit? Kongpop wanted to hear the answer once more, to get his heart clear but all he got was a repetition of what he had said before.
Is this the answer? Kongpop let go at last, without the strength to hold back. As soon as freedom came again, Arthit turned backwards into the room and closed the door, the panic he had been suppressing spread throughout his body and he fell on his ass on the floor. Let go of him, they should keep their distance.
Because this is the only way to protect Kongpop’s reputation and to live up to Mr. Krirkkai’s expectations of him. Arthit didn’t want to see Kongpop get into trouble because of him. Kongpop would not only have to face the eyes of the people around him but also those of his own family in the future and the mere thought of it was too much to bear.
Was it really worth it to trade the pain for the happiness of being together? Arthit closed his eyes and leaned his head weakly against the door. The next day, the information from the online world came to life so quickly that even the men and women who were not part of the group at the Ocean Electric factory heard about it.
“What a pity, it’s such a shock.”
“What a shame I am all single there! I don’t know why all guys these days like to get together.”
“It’s all the rage nowadays, the maleCP trend is huge!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“Ow! Don’t just talk, production work requires concentration, no distractions, or you’ll be in danger, got it?”
The production engineer, who was a stickler for the rules, came over and gave them a lecture, which immediately calmed the two chatty girls down and allowed them to focus on their work. The hardest thing in the world to ban is gossip. Yong sighed, defeated by the” truth of the world”.
He had been worried about Arthit and Kongpop ever since Naai had heard the news. Despite all the gossip, the trainee worked hard without a hitch. If you always pile up the criticism of others, you can’t move forward. After all, life goes on. Arthit went on with his life as an engineer in the purchasing department, or rather, he went on with his work without distracting himself with anything else.
“Oh, the order form, huh? Just a second, just a second.” He immediately pulled the documents from the printer and all that was left was for him to sign off on them.
“Don’t worry. I’m not here to rush an order, I’m here to talk to you about the LINE group thing, so don’t worry about it.” Arthit’s fingers stopped at that point, because Todd had seen through his attempts to use his job to mask his anxiety.
“Before, I’d been told I was in it for the connections, the belittling, that I wasn’t capable, so I tried to prove myself to people. But in the end, I don’t care about those people anymore, because I know who I really am.” Gossip will come and go and if we don’t take it to heart, no one can hurt us.
“Thanks.” Arthit sensed his friend’s concern for him, Todd patted him on the shoulder, gave him encouragement and went back to his desk. So he focused on his work again, picked up his favorite silver pen and was about to sign the order form. But before he finished writing his name, the pen was too stiff to write the ink. In spite of all his efforts, the ink became fainter and fainter. Arthit’s heart grew anxious.
He went to the pantry, grabbed a cup of coffee and a cup of hot water, tried to soak the pen in the same way it had worked in the past but no ink came out. The fountain pen was broken and he himself had wilted under the criticism of others. If he wanted to regain the feeling, there was only one way to fix it and that was to go back to the past, to find the starting point.
After work, Arthit didn’t go back to his hostel but took a bus to the university campus to return to his lost roots. Since it was still a holiday, there was not much activity in the engineering school, except for the workers hired by the university to repaint the buildings. Although the exterior of the building had been changed, the warm atmosphere inside was the same as it had been four years ago when he was a freshman.
University life was the happiest time of his life, full of laughter and friendships that make you smile every time you think about it. As Arthit strolled around the campus, rekindling memories, his feet eventually led him to a place where he stopped. The assembly room where he had once played the role of “The Godfather”.
Arthit raised his hand and pushed open the door to enter, when he was surprised to find someone already standing inside.
“What are you doing here?”
Kongpop, who was standing in the back of the assembly room, also turned to the visitor with an unexpected look.
“I should ask Phii Arthit what he’s doing here.”
“I just miss my time as a head hazer”, Arthit replied honestly, then asked rhetorically, “What about you?”
“I miss my freshman year, too.”
Maybe Kongpop also wanted to find his original self, to come back to the starting point where they met each other. Arthit moved his feet towards each other. Yesterday he was desperately trying to escape but today, his heart was free of anxiety and confusion, so calm that it almost seemed not to be beating. He stopped, stood beside the other, took a look at the empty assembly room.
“I can’t believe how far we’ve come together.”
Who would have guessed that the rivalry between freshmen and hazers would become more than a brotherhood. It’s like a dream come true, a dream full of sweetness and happiness. They’ve come a long way. Very, very far.
“Does Phii Arthit want me to keep walking with you, or just stop?”
Kongpop’s words hid a conversation they’d had a long time ago” Aren’t you tired of following me like this, not knowing where I’ll go, not knowing when I’ll stop?”
“No matter what happens in the future, no matter how far we can go, I always want to go with Arthit.” But this time Arthit was silent. A long time passed. Kongpop took off an object tied around his wrist, which he always wore and which never left his body.
“If you still can’t give me an answer, then I’ll give the gear back to you. When the Phii has settled down, then we will talk.”
A brown gear was placed in Arthit’s palm and its weight pressed against the feeling in his chest. The heart that had been entrusted to it, was returned to its rightful owner. Kongpop turned away and only the lonely figure of the former godfather remained in the large assembly room.
Their hands were now completely untied.