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Tharn Thara Kirigun

That was a boy’s name curling on his left shoulder blade. He could only see it from the corner of his eye. His mum had taken a photo for him so that he could see clearly without twisting around or using a mirror.

Kohm also had a boy’s name on his arm. Their parents had joked they were destined to be friends as much as they were destined to meet Tharn and Som.

Type was so happy. His soulmate was another boy. They’ll play football together all day long. When they’ll be tired, they’ll go back home and stay up till late to try the latest video games. Type wouldn’t have to care about the latest hot music band or who the prettiest actors were, which seemed to be the hottest topics with the girls at school. Other boys in his class were so envious.

Even though his soulmate was a man, he was still going to treat him nicely. His dad was always kind with his mum. They’ve been together for the past 13 years, but his dad still prepared the shellfish nicely for her, removing all the hard bits and bitter parts, leaving her only the best. Type had asked why once, trying to explain patiently to his father that his mother was a grown lady that could take care of her own food. He’d laughed and ruffled his hair. He explained that he didn’t want the smell of fish to linger on her fingers. He said he loved her so much he didn’t want her to have to take care of herself, he wanted to do it instead. And his mum was just kind enough to let him. He said that he’d better treat Tharn nicely, and maybe his soulmate would let him help with his food.

So Type learned. After a couple of years, he could handle pretty much anything: shrimps, sea urchins, clams, mussels, crabs, scallops. He could remove fish bones in record time. Tharn will be so impressed with him.

He wondered if they’ll meet on the island. That’s how his parents had met. She had come with friends during a school trip from the mainland. They met on the beach. He bended over backward to impress her and show her all the best authentic spots around. She fell in love with the island along with the island boy. As soon as she graduated university, she moved her whole life here. ‘For the view’ she had said when he’d come to pick her up at the airport. To which he’d replied ‘It’s not the island, the view is wherever you’re standing’. That made Type laugh each time they were retelling the story. It was such a silly thing to say. His mum had laughed as well. It really was silly. She was destined to spend her life with a silly man. She spent so many years laughing with him.

Was Tharn a silly boy? Was he going to make him laugh? Was he serious? Kohm’s mother was a very serious lady. Very smart. She took them out regularly during the summer to go and see the stars high up in the dark sky. Will Tharn show him the stars too?

Type spent hours trying to imagine what Tharn would look like. The name was Thai, so surely a man with dark hair and dark eyes. Probably smaller than him. His Nan kept on saying how tall he was for his age, so surely he’ll be the big and tall one. Tharn could be the cute one. Type would protect him.

During the summer, when his parents forced him to help out at the resort, he demanded to work at the register, religiously asking for everybody’s name, pouting a little bit each time ‘Tharn’ wasn’t the answer. He’d asked Kohm to do the same at his parent’s ressort in exchange for some of his mother’s sweets. Same for Song’s little family hotel.

Summer after summer, Tharn didn’t come to visit him. Did the other boy think of Type as much as Type thought of him? Did he want to meet? What if he didn’t? Type cried so hard his parents were convinced he broke a bone.

For his tenth birthday, his Nan had given him the official governmental paperwork to register at the Soulmate databank.

“It’s a bit early, but here for you. When you’re 16, you can bring this to city hall. If Tharn registered, they will match you and tell you where he is.”

Type had never claimed to be a patient boy. That night, he completed the form as best he could -what was a social security number even supposed to be?-. The following day, he ditched football practice and took the bus to the city center of the island. The employees of city hall gave him curious looks as he entered the large glass building. He walked up to the reception and wai-ed at the man behind the desk.

“Hello uncle.”

“If it isn’t the little Phawattakun boy! How are your parents, son?”

“They’re busy but fine, thank you.”

“What are you doing here anyway, you’re far from home.”

“I would just like to give this,” he explained, sliding the paper over to the man. He took it and raised an eyebrow upon reading it.

He looked him up and asked:

“Tell me son, how old are you?”

Type was prepared for the trick question.

“16.”

The man laughed out loud.

“Is that so?”

Type nodded.

“Yes, my birthday was yesterday,” he explained, pointing at the paper. The civil servant looked once again at the paper and nodded.

“Ah I see! Well, I”ll need some ID. Maybe your motorcycle licence?”

An ID? He wasn’t prepared for that. He didn’t even know if he had an ID. He couldn’t let that spoil his plans.

“I don’t have it. I… I forgot it in my other jacket. I have my library card if you want, uncle.”

The man laughed again, louder this time. Type offered his best pout, the one that was sure to guarantee him some desert even when his mum shouted after him all day.

“Come on boy, let’s bring you back home.”

The man excused himself toward his colleagues, assuring them he’ll be back soon. The ride back wasn’t too long, the city hall employee greeted his parents, explained the situation and gave them back his form.

They scolded him, for lying, and laughed at him, for having so much nerves.

“You need to be patient, Type,” they said. “It’ll happen when you least expect it.”

Which was not a satisfactory answer.

He wanted to meet Tharn. He wanted to show him the island, to bring him swimming in the sea. He wanted to build sand castles together. He wanted to build some forts in his room. He wanted to introduce him to Kohm. He wanted to bring him in the forest and climb trees so high their parents wouldn’t catch them.

But then he met a man. A boogie man with the face of a person that promised him a field full of footballs to replace his old one.

Attached to that chair, body stripped of his clothes, the man had touched his shoulder, tracing the name written there with the tip of a finger.

“That’s the name of a man. You’re lucky. I’ll show you how to please one. You’re going to like it.”

He would never forget that day, no matter how much he wanted, no matter how much he prayed for it.

The spot on his shoulder scratched him, he could still feel a phantom touch that made him sick to the stomach. He had a man’s name on his body. One day, that man would want to do to him what that other man already did. He’ll touch him, he’ll hurt him.

If that’s what being with a man was like, he never wanted to meet Tharn. He wouldn’t prepare seafood for him. He wouldn’t show him around the island. He wouldn’t play football with him. He wouldn’t introduce him to Kohm.

Kohm, who also had a man’s name on his body.

Type didn’t know how to protect his friend. He didn’t know how to protect himself from him either. So he stopped talking to Kohm. And after some weeks, Kohm finally stopped trying to talk to him. It wasn’t hard to ignore the boy, it’s not like Type went out much anymore.

In the months it took Type to finally leave the house, the boy grew angry and bitter. He stopped talking about Tharn. Stopped talking of soulmates altogether, so his parents did too. He threw the registration papers in the trash.

For his 16th birthday, he didn’t register himself at city hall. Instead, he boarded a boat to go and live with his aunt in the city.

In the city, he could pretend everything was fine. No one knew him as that kid. School was easy, as always, and there he met Techno, who seemed one of the rare people that actually managed to handle him. They played football together, which was the only way Type could somewhat keep his temper in check.

There were girls as well, who had the amazing advantage of not being men. So he dated some, never allowing anyone to look at his bare shoulder.

Type and Techno graduated, already planning to join the faculty of sports together. Type could pretend all was fine, all was normal.

Until he received his dorm welcome package. Whatever illusion of normality he had managed to build shattered and reality came back to kick him in the teeth.

Welcome, we’re very proud you decided to join our University… blahblahblah... All students must be back before… blahblahblah... shared dorm… blahblahblah… assigned roommate: Tharn Kirigun.

He didn’t need a soulmate to survive, he had managed just fine -anger issues, homophobia, PTSD- by himself. He didn’t need Tharn Thara Kirigun.

“Hey No. I thought about it. I think we should get that condo in the city together. I just need to chat with my mum, she’ll change my dad’s mind about the dorm.”

Chapter Text

Type Thiwat Phawattakun

That was a boy’s name etched onto his chest. He’s always looked at it upside down, following the curves and loops of each letter with his eyes or a finger. His heartbeat was the strongest just under that patch of skin.

As a child, when he had yet to learn how to read, he’d asked his parents or P’Thorn to read it to him slowly, helping him trace each character as it was pronounced. Type’s name was the first thing he learned how to write and how to read. He knew that name before his own even though, comparatively, Kirigun was way easier to remember.

He used to think Type’s name was actually his. He introduced himself as Type to his teachers at school, signed that name on his homework and tests. Tharn didn’t remember that, his dad liked to remind him whenever he got into one of these nostalgic moods about his children being grown now. What he does remember is naming his childhood plushy ‘Type’. He refused to go anywhere without it, sleeping with it every night, playing with it every day. He still had it on a shelf in his room, unable to throw it away despite its old age.

Tharn liked to listen to people’s stories about their soulmates. Even the simplest ones had something comforting woven into each detail. It made him feel safe, knowing there was someone out there that was just for him to have. That someone was Type.

“Have you ever thought of being with someone that wasn’t your soulmate?”

Tharn raised his eyes from his homework, blinking slowly at Lhong as the question registered in his mind. He hummed pensively, considering carefully.

“I guess… maybe? I’m not too sure...”

He hadn’t ever felt strong feelings for anyone yet, he was barely 14 and so far the only thing that really got his attention was music and his drums. He had started to notice that some boys were… very nice looking. Sometimes, P’San looks at him in a certain way. He used to look at him the same way P’Thorn does. Not so much anymore. Tharn wasn’t too sure what to do with that.

“Well,” Lhong voice startled him out of his reverie. “What if you don’t meet your soulmate till you’re like, 30?”

“That’s far away,” he conceded. Hopefully Type wouldn’t make him wait that long.

“It is! You’re not going to stay alone all this time, right? And when you meet them, you need to know what you’re doing, right?”

Maybe it could be cute to learn with them. Maybe they could be awkward together. Maybe he’ll kiss Type and it’s going to be weird, but they’ll get the hang of it more and more with each new kiss. Maybe Type could be the first and last person to kiss his name. He’ll feel Tharn’s heartbeat against his lips. Maybe he’ll ask Type to retrace the letters, to read it out loud slowly just for him.

“Maybe…”

He ends up in a classroom alone with P’San who takes his first kiss and first time. He can’t say he regrets that Type hadn’t been the one to make him realise bottoming wasn’t for him. It had been strange. He’d rather not dwell on it too much. P’San hadn’t touched his name though, just like he hadn’t dared look too much at the character’s on the boy’s thigh.

Under the shower, he briefly wondered if Type had had sex with someone else too.

He didn’t dwell on that either, it was strange and unpleasant.

“Hey Tharn!”

Tharn turned toward a big group of his classmates, all huddled around a magazine, seemingly fascinated by whatever they were looking at.

“What are you guys reading?”

As he approached, he could only focus on the giant hearts on the pink glossed pages.

“I stole my sister’s magazine. It’s about the position of soulmate name.”

Tharn laughed, resting against Lhong to try to get a good look.

“That’s very romantic of you Jay, I didn’t know you cared.”

Jay tutted, brandishing the magazine like a coveted prize despite everyone else's protests.

“This is junk, but girls read it. It’s a great ice breaker.”

“Shut up and tell us what it says already!”

“Okay, okay! What an ungrateful crowd! So… what do you guys want to know?”

“Is there anything about soulmarks on the back?”

Tharn looked down at Lhong. He knew Lhong’s name ran all along his spine, remembers Lhong confessing he’ll never be able to see the name with his own two eyes, that sometimes it felt like the writing wasn’t there at all. Tharn had felt sad for him, he couldn’t imagine not being able to look down and just see, as surely as he could feel his heartbeat.

“In the back… In the back… In the back they say ‘People with a soulmark on their back are secretive. They want to protect themselves from the world and are afraid of being open with others. These people tend to stay stuck in the past, unable to let go of their hardships and the things that hurt them. They can hold grudges for years, so try to not piss them off too much, or you’ll be faced with a terrible enemy!’ That’s so rough man! And that’s so not you Lhong. What a piece of trash!” many laughed at the harsh profiling, some even clapping the young man in the back playfully. “Ah wait, there’s also about relationship for people with a back placement. ‘Being in a relationship with them can be a challenge as you’ll probably have to do a lot of emotional heavy lifting. Their distrustful nature implies a lot of hard work will be necessary to get into their good grace. However, once they open their hearts to you, they’re the ride or die crowd. Loyal to a fault, they’ll believe in you no matter what and will always be there to catch you if you fall. Back placement people are the embodiment of ‘high risk, high reward’. Their best matches are: chest, thigh, and belly placement'.”

That, Tharn could agree with. Lhong was his best friend and had been for years. He knew for a fact that the other boy would be there for him no matter what.

“What about the chest placement,” Tharn asked, curious to see how accurate the prediction would be for him.

“Of course you’re a chest placement,” observed Jay as he looked for the right section.

“So dreamy,” said one.

“So romantic,” replied the other.

“For the chest.. ‘The chest placement, called Lover’s placement because of its overuse in romantic movies, is often found on passionate people. They tend to let their emotions guide them and would rather listen to the impulse of their hearts than the voice of reason inside their head. Brave and secure of who they are, chest placements tend to be great leaders as their caring nature pushes them to try and look out for the majority’. Well, this one is more accurate at least! For your relationship… ‘If thigh placement are considered the champions of physical relationships, chest placement are known everywhere as the pros of romance. They’ll bring out the best in their partners and will always give their whole heart to their relationship. Be careful though, as their passionate nature can make them impulsive, and sometimes jealous. Their best matches are: face, thigh, arm, and back placement’.”

Tharn wondered. Was he really all these things?

What could Type possibly be? Each placement had their own clichés. Thigh people were sensual but fickle. Chest, passionate but temperamental. Face, straightforward but angry. Shin, adventurous but irresponsible. Ribs, soft but pushovers. Back, distrustful but loyal.

His mum had a chest placement, just like him. His dad’s was on his forearm. Thorn and Tanya had theirs just hugging their hip.

He wondered where Tharn Thara Kirigun was written.

For his 16th birthday, just before their traditional family dinner, the whole family goes to city hall together. Tharn feels jittery as he completes his paperwork. The beat of his own heart is deafening, and for a second he stops breathing. The employee seems to take an eternity to input his information into their software.

No match. They would notify him by mail as soon as Type would register.

His disappointment must be clear as day on his face, Thorn gripped him into a side hug, offering him a comforting smile.

“Don’t worry N’Tharn. I didn’t get my match either at first. It’ll happen.”

On their way back home, they all gave him a wide breadth, talking among themselves while Tharn was slowly getting lost in thoughts.

Was Type younger than him? Did he not register? If not, why wouldn’t he? Didn’t he want to meet Tharn? Did he not want to be found? He had tried so hard to rein in his enthusiasm and bring down his expectations. He still crashed down hard that night.

At least Type wasn’t dead, they would have told him otherwise.

There’s nothing he could do. He just had to be patient.

After his 16th birthday, Tharn started to date more. A first boy, then a second when the first one matched. He’d even tried to go out with a girl, but that really hadn’t done it for him. Then there was Tar.

Tar wasn’t Type. But Tar definitely had his heart. Tar who had a French name written on his lower ribs.

It was almost easy to overlook, he could hide the name with his arms during hugs, could bury his nose in Tar’s neck when they made love.

Type’s name was harder to ignore.

At the end of high school, as he was looking for a condo he could share with his boyfriend not too far from their university, Tar announced he’d received an art scholarship. For a Parisian’s school.

Not only was it a great opportunity, it was destiny calling for him.

He couldn’t refuse, he told Tharn. He had to go, he explained, crying as he was breaking up with his boyfriend of a year. He had to meet the owner of his name, is what he didn’t say. It’s all Tharn heard, though.

His last summer before university was spent mourning his relationship, mending his broken heart by beating the pain away on the drums.

“Tharn! A letter from university is here, come and get it.”

He thanked his mum and she urged him to open it. It was about his dorm.

Welcome, we’re very proud you decided to join our University.... All students are allowed to get their keys from…shared dorm… assigned roommate: Type Phawattakun.

It was time. It was his turn. He had been waiting for it for years. He didn’t have his first kiss to give, nor his first time, or even his first ‘I love you’. He still wanted to feel someone tracing over that name and whisper it against his lips though.

Chapter Text

Type was an expert at denial. He wore it like a second skin.

As he moved his boxes in the condo he’ll share with Techno, no one could have imagined his brain was torturing him. He almost met Tharn.

The first thing he’ll do as soon as class started was to find out in which university his soulmate was exactly as to stay the fuck away from it forever. Maybe he should consider changing university. His parents would definitely not be on board with that. It took him almost 3 weeks to convince his father to let him ditch the dorms.

Frankly, his dad didn’t want him in a condo for his first year, but Type had little choice in the matter. He simply couldn’t be in the same room with Tharn. The man would find out. Maybe not the first week, maybe not even the first month if he lied about his name. But he would eventually. And Type refused to deal with the potential fallout. So he had to use an argument he wasn’t proud of.

‘Dad, I’m not feeling safe in a room with another random guy.’

He had felt guilty and uncomfortable using that against his dad. But the result was instant, and the following week he was already signing the lease of his new condo.

“Type! Here’s your last one,” called Techno, sliding a cardboard box on the floor.

All was fine, he could handle this.

----------

Maybe Tharn had been overeager.

When he had read the letter, he’d stared at it unblinkingly for what felt like an eternity. His mother, worried, had read over his shoulder. Before he knew it, his face got crushed in a suffocating hug as she was part laughing part crying for him.

His dad had soon barged into the kitchen, concerned about the noise.

The rest of the evening had been very loud as his parents swinged between congratulations and hugs. And then he had to explain everything for a third time when Thorn came back home later in the evening.

Saying he was excited was the understatement of his life. So as soon as the first day of moving into the dorm rolled around, Tharn brought all his boxes and started to put his things away.

He wanted to be there to welcome Type in what would be their first home together. Tharn wanted to smile at him, see in his eyes a reflexion of his thoughts. Would he be nervous? Giddy? Composed?

Type would already know who he was.

Were they supposed to hug? Was that too forward? But at the same time, he couldn’t just… not. That would be too strange. Maybe they could go out and eat together to chat, starting to get to know each other. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to bring themselves to leave the room.

Tharn had so many questions for him. But probably the first one would be why hadn’t Type registered himself? If his soulmate was in Uni, he had to at least be his own age. Was Type one of these people that wanted the meeting to be organic? Was Type a romantic?

His heart was beating too fast, he was feeling light headed.

Tharn was going to be fine, he just had to handle himself until Type arrived. That’s what he had to keep repeating at least.

Tharn looked up at the dorm’s door with each item he was putting away.

After emptying his first box, he only raised his head whenever he heard movement in the hall.

After the third box, he stopped altogether, massaging his neck slowly.

As the night rolled around, he had to accept today wasn’t the day. Maybe he really had been too eager. They still had quite some time until the start of the semester.

However, on the first day of class, as he woke up yet again facing an empty bed, Tharn’s enthusiasm vanished like smoke in the wind.

Type must have known, he must have received the same letter as him, clearly stating who his roommate would be. Suddenly, Type not being registered sounded less like romance and more like avoidance.

But why? Why would Type not want to meet? Even if he didn’t want a romantic relationship, which did happen sometimes, why not meet with him and tell him?

What if something bad had happened?

As soon as his first day of classes ended, Tharn excused himself from the group of freshmen that wanted to go out for celebratory drinks, claiming he had some administrative issues. Lhong had thrown him a look, but didn’t stop him.

Technically, Tharn wasn’t lying. It just wasn’t his own administrative problem. He approached a woman reading behind her desk.

“Hello, I’m sorry to bother, but I think there’s a problem with my roommate.”

She looked at him with the sort of weariness born out of dealing with stupid requests from days on end.

“Unless the issue is actually very serious, there’s nothing I can do to help. All the rooms are jam packed, so we can’t transfer the freshmen left and right.”

“Ah, no that’s not why I’m here. I’m worried for my roommate, he never moved him. Since classes started already, I was wondering if everything was alright. His name is Type Thiwat Phawattakun.”

She hummed, turning toward her computer and checking some files. It took a couple of minutes of silent scrolling before she turned toward him again.

“He cancelled his spot in the dorms. Very last minute actually. Freshmen are more and more irresponsible each year…”

Tharn felt a pang in his heart at the news. Type has cancelled. He’d backed out of their meeting.

“Where is he now? Did he drop out of University?”

“I don’t think so, it does happen that freshmen give up the dorm for their own private accommodations. It’s more expensive, but also more comfortable.”

So Type was definitely avoiding him.

“Could you tell me which University he’s enrolled in please?”

At that, the woman looked at him with narrowed eyes.

“These are private information that I cannot share with just anyone, sorry Nong. You should just enjoy your big room for yourself, you’re the only one lucky enough for that.”

Tharn felt anything but lucky.

-------------

Turns out, finding one guy within an entire University complex could be quite the challenge. The first thing people said when he asked if they knew Tharn was:

“Tharn? From which Uni?”

So far, he’d only managed to confirm Tharn wasn’t enrolled into the faculty of sports. Only a million more people to ask.

Despite the stress of having to look over his shoulder all the time and making a point of asking people their names before they could even think of asking his first -which had already put him in hot waters with some seniors- University life wasn’t half bad.

Living with Techno was fun. In the evenings they played games together and chilled. Sometimes Techno invited some of their classmates to hang out and drink. They had met some very cool people, particularly a guy called Champ who seemed to know all the best restaurants around. Friday or Saturday nights, they even managed to motivate each other enough to actually go to a proper bar.

Classes are as easy as they ever were and as long as Type listened to the lecture, he barely had any efforts to put into his homeworks. Still drove Techno up the wall in frustration. The coach liked him, even though he always said that Type had to keep his temper in check or he’ll be benched. Type knows he’s good enough to not have to worry too much about the threat. Again, that drove Techno completely crazy since he’d already started his recruitment campaign to convince everyone to elect him as team captain. For his senior year. What was wrong with that boy, Type wasn’t too sure sometimes. In any case, sucking up to the coaches was part of his strategy. Techno did try to deny that last point, but there was an overwhelming amount of evidence against him. For instance, the way he almost tripped on his own feet to play delivery boy.

“Bring this to the music faculty office, it’s the selection of songs we want them to play during the matches.”

“No problem coach! I’ll go right away.”

His bunch of papers under the arm, Techno came back to his group of friends.

“Guys! Come with me, we need to deliver some papers.”

“This is in no way a ‘we’ situation No,” said Champ, stretching out his legs.

“Sorry, we’re kind of in the middle of our stretches,” tried Team, offering a small smile to the other boy.

“Type is on his phone! He’s not even pretending to stretch!”

They all turned to the accused who was indeed lounging on his side, scrolling lazily.

“Type does whatever he wants…”

That was true and it made him very happy to know they already realised it after only a couple of short weeks.

“Tyyyyyype.”

“I would rather die than come with you No,” came the deadpan answer.

“You could at least look up from your phone!”

His plea went unanswered. Knowing better than to annoy the young man to the point of aggression, Techno cursed them all and started his solo adventure.

Techno had to actually ask his way a couple of times as the music and sports department weren’t close at all. He even had to take a Uni shuttle, receiving plenty of curious looks since he hadn’t taken the time to change out of his sports outfit.

Despite being quite a trek away from their faculty, the music building looked pretty similar to their own. Maybe there were more windows. Was light important for musicians? Did they share with the art department?

His adventure wasn’t over quite yet though, the entrance office wouldn’t take the papers, complaining about messing the systems up and Techno got redirected once again.

“So… third floor, and then at the back of the building…”

Every single room, every corridor looked the same and nothing appeared as being the back of anything.

“Shit!”

“Hey, are you alright?”

Techno turned around, coming face to face with-

“Handsome boy!”

The man raised both eyebrows in surprise, readjusting the straps of his bag on his shoulders.

“What?”

“You’re so pretty, are you an angel sent from the sky to help me?”

The man was adorable with a very cute face and pouty lips, a single long earring catching the light on the side of his face and despite his clear confusion, he still offered Techno a large smile.

“I can definitely try.”

“I need to find the faculty office of the music department. It’s about music for our matches,” he explained, flapping around the brown envelope he’d brought all the way there.

“Ah I see, I’ll walk you there. You’re very close, but it can be tricky to find the room.”

“Lhong, is everything fine?”

Techno turned toward the man that seemed to have called his saviour.

“Damn! Is it a requirement to be handsome to get into the faculty of music?”

If Lhong was cute, the newcomer was definitely handsome, and that despite the dark circles under his eyes.

“All good, I’ll just show this guy the way to the office. Save me a spot in the canteen?”

The man nodded and left without further ado.

“Let’s go!”

“Thanks man, I’m Techno by the way. I’m in the faculty of sports.”

Lhong laughed, checking him out from head to toe.

“Yeah I could have guessed that. I’m Lhong. Isn’t the faculty of sports super far away from here?”

Techno groaned loudly.

“So far away! I had to take the Uni shuttle to come!”

“Sounds like a pain, you should stay to eat with us so you wouldn’t have travelled all the way for nothing.”

After one last corridor turn, they finally arrived in front of the teachers’ office. Techno would never have found it, even the door tag was scratched out and faded.

“I wish, I lost too much time already, I’ll have to hurry back and pray my friends didn’t ditch me. But give me your Line ID! I’ll send you a message and we can go grab a drink, I’ll treat you as a thank you.”

“Ah, that’s not necessary, it was nothing.”

Techno shushed him, already fishing out his phone and pushing it in Lhong’s hands.

“Nonsense! It’s gonna be fun. I’ll bring my friends, bring the hot one you were with before. I’m sure music students know the best bars.”

Lhong shared his number and after a last goodbye, they parted in front of the office.

Maybe his adventure hadn’t all been in vain.

Chapter Text

“I’m not sure I’m in the mood to go out.”

“What? But we already told P’Jeed we were going to play tonight!”

“I know, we’ll be playing, but I’m not in the mood to stay after we finish.”

Lhong sighed deeply, clearly having expected to hear that complain at one point during the evening.

“You haven’t been in the mood to do anything since the start of term Tharn. You have to go out every once in a while and enjoy life. Are you going to stay in your dorm for 4 years without ever leaving?”

To be fair, Tharn did go out sometimes. For classes. But even in his sour mood the man realised that would be a terrible argument to use during this conversation.

Since the discovery that Type must have been avoiding him -it was truly the only explanation he could make sense of- Tharn had been feeling miserable for himself. He had become one of these people rejected by their soulmate. But not only that, he’d been rejected before he had even met them. Talk about bringing bad luck to the next level.

Lhong had let him be at first, occasionally bringing him some food and offering his company to fill the too big room. Forcing him to join the rehearsal of their band. But the man seemed to now think going out was their next big objective to make him go back to normal and had asked P’Jeed to book them some stage time.

Frankly, had it been anyone but P’Jeed, who had treated him with so much kindness throughout the years, he would have called the gig off.

Tharn hadn’t shared the reason for his moodiness and Lhong must actually think it linked to the breakup with Tar, still. Tharn couldn’t bring himself to share his current situation, it would make it… too real. Like he had officially admitted his soulmate didn’t want to be associated with him.

“Come on, let’s go, you can brood in the car.”

--------------------

“So where are we going tonight?”

Type, Techno, and Champ were all gathered at the condo, getting ready to go out for a relaxing evening of fun, alcohol and music apparently.

“It’s a super cool bar, this guy I know is performing there tonight.”

Type frowned at that.

“You don’t know anyone that performs anywhere Techno, who’s that guy.”

Techno huffs, throwing them both a look over his shoulder.

“Certainly not any of you guys! You have the artistic soul of a fork.”

Type raised his hand to hit his friend, but the later dodged at the last second, laughing placatantly.

“I was joking, I was joking. It’s that guy from the music faculty I met last time. Cool dude, I owe him a beer.”

“You need to stop talking to strangers, you’ll get kidnapped one day,” warned Champ, tilting his pack of crisps to get the last crumbs stuck to the bottom.

“Nonsense, the guy is smaller than me.”

“What’s his name,” asked Type, going for casual while his whole body tensed.

“Lhong.”

Type could have sighed out loud in relief if not for Techno legendary nosiness. He’d managed to keep his friend out of his soulmate business for years now by some miracle. He fully intended to keep it that way.

“It better be good, that bar is so far away. We’ll have to taxi if you plan on drinking.”

The three put their shoes on and were out of the door the next minute. The evening was hot and humid as per usual. Many partygoers were already drunk and singing in the streets. Most of them were young looking and probably fellow students.

They didn’t have too much trouble finding a taxi and splitting the fare in three made it quite reasonable. The ride to the bar was definitely longer than usual. Normally, their criteria for picking a bar were: is the alcohol cheap? Can we crawl back home at the end of the evening?

This time, the bar looked more refined, the type of place that could easily become their ‘usual place’. The rumble of the music was audible from the outside, but not to the point of already being deafening.

At the entrance, they were welcomed by a beautiful smiling woman.

“Hello young men. I am Jeed, the owner of the bar. It’s the first time I see you around here.”

“Hello! Lhong recommended this place, he’s playing here tonight, we want to enjoy the live music.”

“That cute boy… Well, make yourself comfortable, there should still be some free tables next to the stage, the boys should start playing soon.”

They all bid her goodbye and made their way inside the bar. It was populated but not crowded and they indeed managed to find a comfortable table not too far away from the front. There were quite a few women all around them focused on the yet empty stage.

“Many pretty women here. It’s really a great recommendation.”

“So thirsty No. If only you could actually manage to get some I’ll be impressed,” replied Type, browsing the menu to see if there were any special drinks.

“The night is long, you can never know what will happen!”

“You mean apart from the usual: you get too drunk to stand and I have to bring you home carrying you?”

Techno was a lightweight and never knew when to stop until it was too late. Type wasn’t a big drinker, he had never actually gotten blackout drunk, which meant he often ended up playing babysitter for his other friends.

“Ah Techno! You managed to come!”

A young man, pretty much the textbook definition of adorable, approached their table as the women around them followed him with their eyes, whispering to their friends.

‘Hey man! Guys, this is Lhong, my saviour. These guys are my friends, we’re all in the sports department together.”

They all nodded to each other in acknowledgement.

“Thanks for coming, hope you’ll enjoy the music. If anything, the alcohol is good, you should try the Lao Khao, it’s very nice.”

“I’ll go order,” said Type, sliding off the chair, patting his pockets to make sure he had some money with him.

“Get me some snacks as well,” requested Champ.

Type rolled his eyes at the predictable request, but nodded nonetheless.

Jeed was behind the bar, and when she spotted him, she immediately approached with a large smile.

“What can I do for you handsome?”

Type put his usual snark on the backsit and offered her a smile in return, she had that mum energy that made it hard to rebuke or be bitter toward her.

“P’Jeed, I’d like to order some Lao Khao for the table. Also some rice crackers and fried eggs if we can.”

“Anything for you, let me give you the drinks, I’ll bring the food over as soon as it’s ready.”

Propping an elbow against the bar, Type gave another look around. The lights were dimmed and colourful, giving a very lively atmosphere to the whole place. As he scanned the room, he noticed his table had been invaded by yet another guy, currently using Lhong as an arm rest.

Even from the distance, Type could see the man was quite tall and well built, much more imposing than Lhong. His dark hair put in a fashionable cut were hiding his eyes just so.

“Here for you, Nong.”

He blinked in surprise at the voice calling for him before grabbing all the glasses and thanking the woman.

Slowly, he made his way back across the room and almost tripped when he made eye contact with the stranger at their table. He’d never seen a man with such large and deep eyes, catching his attention and refusing to let go. The dark circles under his eyes didn’t take anything away from how handsome his face was, angular and sharp, on the contrary. The man stared back, unintimidated by Type’s direct inspection.

Unfortunately, just as Type arrived at the table, Lhong and the stranger walked away and jumped on the stage, followed shortly by two other men.

“Here,” said Type, carefully putting their glasses down.

On stage, Lhong was getting everyone’s attention as the musicians were taking place behind their instruments. The stranger sat behind the set of drums, playing with the drumsticks as he waits for the singer to finish his introduction.

Type never cared much for music. He’d listen to the radio, put a playlist as background noise during his studying, but he never actively got into it. Never cared much for the various bands or artists. Certainly never spared a shed of attention for the drummers.

But here he was, unable to look at anyone else than that guy.

If Type had ever thought the man was handsome before, it was nothing compared to the moment he started playing. His features and his posture immediately relaxed as his eyes closed. He hadn’t even noticed how tense the guy was up until that moment.

“Whoa, they’re super cool!” Techno was swaying from one side to the other, enjoying the song.

“Lhong has a very nice voice,” agreed Champ, nodding along to the rhythm.

Type hummed his agreement, drinking slowly. And then their eyes meet again.

Who in the fucks was this guy.

Only Techno’s joy at the arrival of the food managed to get him to look away.

As talkative and sociable as ever, Techno drew Champ into conversations in between enjoying the music that was being played. Type made a special effort to listen to his best friend, trying his hardest to not stare at the drummer to the point of ogling.

“Who do you think is most popular, musicians or sportsmen?” wondered Techno, staring at the women cheering for the band.

“Musicians. It makes them look more sensitive or some shit like that,” replied Type.

“But, we have hot bodies!”

“Yeah cause these guys are so ugly,” retorted Champ, pointing to the band with his chin.

They all instinctively turned toward them and fuck, Type was an idiot, why did he look again.

The drummer had an impressive build, just like Type had imagined from the other side of the bar. The muscles in his forearms kept on flexing and relaxing with each movement. And where these… veins he could see from here?

“What the fuck…”

Thankfully, Techno seemed to interpret it as a general statement more than a targeted one.

“They are handsome.”

“Here you go,” concluded Champ around a mouthful of salted eggs.

The band played for a while, doing some covers while including a couple of original songs in the mix. They were really good and Type actually managed to enjoy the music despite finding himself uncontrollably going back to the drummer. As much as he never really cared for music, he cared even less for musicians. He never got the whole frenesy around celebrities and concerts and ‘you must see it live’. But looking at the man, maybe he could start to make sense of it.

He didn’t seem focused on the audience at all, the only thing that mattered was the music and his drums. Type couldn’t explain the expression on the man’s face, it was intense and passionate and pleased. And entirely too hypnotic.

Type got up to get himself another drink, put some distance and put clear his head. The music came to an end as he waited, Lhong thanks getting drowned by the clapping of the patrons.

Beer in hand, he got out of the bar and rested against the wall. The air outside was barely fresher than inside, but at least there was some silence. Type sighed deeply, rubbing his eyes.

What was that guy’s deal?

And what was his own deal?

As if summoned by too loud thoughts, the drummer came out of the bar, bag under the arm, rummaging through it thoughtfully, ready to leave.

“Hey!”

Type wasn’t sure which of them was most surprised. He hadn’t called out to him consciously at least. The silence started to stretch as Type was too busy getting lost in the other’s man features to come up with something clever to share.

“Yes?” tried to prompt the man, looking him up and down. Type felt strangely self conscious, trying to relax his stance.

“Mmh… great job tonight in there.”

The drummer offered a half smile, pulling his car keys out of the bag.

“Thanks, if you liked it you should come back again, we play next week too.”

The man walked away, not hearing Type’s ‘I will’.

Chapter Text

“Aahh, the handsome young man is back. What a lucky girl I am.”

Type smiled kindly at Jeed. One week had gone by and he was indeed back in her bar. Mostly to relax and enjoy the end of a long week of Uni. Maybe a little bit because he wanted to hear Lhong’s band again.

“Hello P’Jeed, you look great tonight.”

“Handsome and charming, what a great mix. Where are your little friends?”

“At home, they’re finishing some assignments.”

Techno and Champ had slacked off on their anatomy’s paper all week, preferring lounging around and playing games with the other guys to the point of forgetting entirely about the paper. The only thing that saved them was when they actually saw Type submit his own assignment in. Anatomy and sports injury was a bitch of a subject, Type didn’t know why these two morons thought they could just wing it 10 minutes before the deadline. The result was them sacrificing their first night of freedom of the weekend to graphs and thick textbooks, whining and pouting all along. Well, Techno whined and pouted, Champ pretty much just grumbled and started to work right away.

In a burst of generosity, Type had thrown his notes on the table for them, reminding them kindly they would now be in his debt and they better remember it when he’ll need to collect it.

“Damn Type, signing a pact with the devil sounds less scary than this!”

Techno had still snatched the papers from the table and started to scan through them.

So here Type was, alone, in Jeed’s bar, ready to… relax. He ordered his usual drink, asked for some snacks and went to a small table in a corner, further away from the female consumers that were once again near the stage.

Just as he was looking around wondering where the band was, Type saw Lhong coming out of the bathroom. He raised his glass to catch the man’s attention, successfully making him stop by his corner.

“Hey dude, good to see you, where are the other guys?”

“Trying not to fail a paper.”

The singer snickered and grabbed some of the still untouched snacks.

“Glad at least one of you managed to come. Stay here and we’ll join you at the end of our set.”

Lhong jumped on stage, soon joined by the guitarist and bassist. But no trace of the drummer. Type glanced left and right, trying to catch sight of the man, unsuccessfully. The band didn’t seem to be waiting for him either and started to play at once.

Type eyebrows were furrowed during the whole set as he knocked down a first drink, soon followed by a second.

Why the fuck did that guy tell him to come back today if he wasn’t going to be here? Who does that? He could have just said ‘thank you’ and move on? If Type had come only for that guy, he’d be quite pissed right about now. But all is fine, he was here to enjoy the alcohol and atmosphere first, the band was just a part of the atmosphere. And the band sounded just a little bit less good without the drummer, just a little bit more boring. Whatever, he just needed more alcohol.

As soon as the band was finished and the clapping subdued, the three musicians joined his little table, pushing another one closer to bring more drinks for everyone, graciously bought by their fans of the evening.

“Did you enjoy it?” asked Song with a bright smile, the youngest and definitely most cheerful of their group.

“Mh, you guys are talented. Is the other guy not here tonight?”

“The other guy?” said Song, tilting his head at the question.

“You know, the drummer.”

“Aah! Phi was quite busy, he stayed at home.”

“Why?” came Lhong’s question, his eyes focusing razor sharp on him. “Interested?”

Type sneered and pushed one of the fuller glasses in the man’s face.

“Just drink, it’ll keep you from talking shit.”

It’s like he couldn’t be curious anymore.

-----------------------

What a week, and it was only Tuesday.

Classes had really picked up the pace and everyone was starting to slowly drown under the amount of work that, as if enchanted, kept piling up without ever disappearing.

Tharn needed all the boba Thailand had to offer. He knew his study group was already waiting for him at the library, but he needed something to wake up. He’d been sleeping poorly for weeks now and he was starting to feel the effect of it.

Saying he had made peace with the idea of Type not wanting to have anything to do with him would be an overstatement. Numb would probably be closer to the truth.

Even if he did manage to track him down, what would he say? Something like-

“Hey! Here you are, you quitter!”

Tharn almost choked on his sip in surprise. He turned around, uncertain if the voice was really calling out to him.

A man was walking toward him in swift strides, expression set in the most offended look Tharn had ever seen on another person. Tharn placed him easily enough as the man he’d briefly met at Jeed’s bar some 2 weeks ago. The guy was too pretty to be easily forgotten, he had had the fluffiest hair and the most expressive eyes.

He remembers how the man had watched him the whole time the band had been on stage, how intense his scrutiny had been.

Tharn had been just as surprised he’d taken notice. Usually, when he plays, he gets lost in his own world where everything feels better, a little less heavy. But he couldn’t have shaken the weight of that stare off his shoulder even if he’d wanted to.

Frankly, if circumstances had been different, if he wasn’t still trying to come to term with his soulmate situation, he would have definitely picked him up. Tharn was quite sure he would have been successful as well.

He was definitely too pretty for someone that scowled that hard.

However, at this specific moment, Tharn really wasn’t sure of what was going on.

“Pardon?”

The man was as attractive as he’d been at the bar, but had swapped his casual slacks for a blue football shirt and shorts exposing wide patches of tanned skin.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know. You told me to come back last Saturday to hear you play and then you didn’t even show up.”

Tharn had to search back to try and remember what he could have possibly said to deserve such anger. He’d said the guy should come back for their next performance.

“Mmh… the band did perform Saturday.”

“I know! But you wouldn’t, you weren’t there!”

Tharn raised both eyebrows, understanding slowly settling in. He would have definitely managed to pick the guy up.

“Was Nong sad because he missed me?”

Tharn would wish for a long time he’d filmed the footballer’s reaction. The next moments were full of sputtering and indignant looks, cheeks reddening and scowls deepening.

“Shut up! Who are you calling ‘Nong’, we’re the same age! And who missed you?!”

Tharn smiled around his straw.

“You look very angry for someone who didn’t miss me.”

“I’m not angry,” he hissed between his teeth. “I’m annoyed because you’re talking nonsense! And you didn’t respect your engagement the other night!”

That guy was a terrible liar. Tharn wondered if he at least believed in what he was saying or even he knew it was in vain. In any case, his reaction only made Tharn want to push his buttons some more.

“If I had known you were waiting for me, you could be sure I would have come.”

“Who said anything about waiting for you! If you give your word you should follow through, that’s all!”

Tharn hummed, sipping some more of his drink, staring at the man who was in turn looking down at his mouth at the mouvement. Pushing it, he liked his lips for good mesure, grinning as the other only seemed to frown harder.

“Well… You should come next time again. I promise I’ll be there.”

The man scoffed, crossing his arms on his chest. He had an air of someone that wasn’t really used to being pushed around. Which Tharn could imagine without too much problems. He was very good looking, that was a fact, but he was also tall and clearly in very good shape. There was an edge of aggression in his posture, daring anyone to just try and come after him to see what would happen.

“Ah! Fat chance! I’m not going to waste my time for you.”

“But how will you know if I keep my word this time around.”

“Why do I care?”

Tharn raised a single eyebrow, tilting his head slightly.

“Because… you just shouted at me for it right now.”

“... Whatever,” was the only answer he received, the man turning around swiftly to leave.

Tharn laughed, calling after him.

“See you soon! I’ll be waiting for you at P’Jeed’s!”

Tharn hurried back to the library, laughing to himself as he replayed the conversation in his head. He apologised to the other members of his group as soon as he arrived at their table and sat down on his seat next to Lhong.

“What took you so long, I started to worry.”

Tharn hummed while taking his laptop out of his bag.

“Nothing bad, just saw a guy on the way over here and stopped to talk for a minute.”

“A guy? Do I know him?” wondered the other man.

“Yeah, the hot one, he’s friends with Techno.”

Lhong seemed to think about it, looking at the ceiling until understanding dawned on him.

“Ah! You mean Type?”

And in an instant, Tharn’s whole world tilted from its axe.