The small velvet box has been tucked discreetly in Arthit’s back pocket for several weeks now.
He just needs to find the right time to give it to Kongpob.
Arthit can’t believe that he’s the one doing it, either. While he would have scoffed at the idea of doing anything so grossly cliche in their early days, the past few years has seen Arthit become gradually less apprehensive and allergic to allowing himself to openly love his extremely charming boyfriend. Of course, he does still pretend to cringe and roll his eyes when Kongpob is being particularly corny or childish. He wouldn’t have it any other way, though.
He knows deep down and so strongly in the pits of his stomach that he wants to spend the rest of his life being on the receiving end of Kongpob’s constant, unwavering love. Even almost nine years later, he still feels the faint flutter of his heart every time his annoying pest of lover does such small, simple things like kiss him goodnight on the forehead or leave a bottle of pink milk in the fridge on the mornings he has to leave for a business trip.
His friends had been somewhat in awe of how their cool, aloof, and verbally aggressive ex-hazer had slowly morphed into a giant puddle of goo around his boyfriend. Tootah calls it his ‘pregnancy glow’, which usually earns him a coaster being thrown at his head. Knot and Prem had exchanged raised eyebrows when they’d all hung out at Bright’s bar one night, and Arthit had allowed himself to be pulled into Kongpob’s lap without protest, even sneaking a few tiny kisses throughout the evening. Maybe it had been the alcohol, but one thing remains true.
Arthit is a total sucker when it came to Kongpob Sutthiluck.
But Arthit surprises even himself when, one afternoon, he’s on the outskirts of Bangkok for a meeting, and finds himself stopping in front of the window of a jewellery store on the way home, gazing at the hundreds of twinkling gems sparkling like neon lights reflected on the river. He further surprises himself by going in for a further look.
“Welcome, sir, how may I help you?”
The saleswoman approaches him shortly after she spots him pondering over the large glass display case of rings.
Arthit looks up and rubs the the back of his neck, a shy smile forming on his lips. He catches a glance of her name pin: Ploy. A tall, slender woman, probably in her forties, with kind eyes like his mother’s.
How does one explain that they’re buying an engagement ring for another man? Surely he wouldn’t be the first to do so. Even though he isn’t exactly scared anymore of acknowledging the love of his life in social contexts, he’d not exactly been in a position where he’d had to come out to a complete stranger simply for the purpose of buying something.
Aunty, can I get a half-pound of lean pork ribs? They’re for my boyfriend.
No, no. The entire thing would be ridiculous in any other context.
“Are you buying for yourself or is it a gift? Perhaps an earring and necklace set? We have some great new collections this season.”
It’s late November, and Arthit has had their anniversary marked in his phone calendar for several weeks from now. Naturally, this would be the most opportune day for Arthit to ask Kongpob to be his forever.
He could take him to dinner, somewhere classy and sophisticated, and discreetly pop the question before dessert. He’d buy him roses and dress up a little, and they’d take a quiet stroll through the park where they’d first kissed, hands laced together under the twinkling lights of the bridge.
Arthit is a simple man who would honestly prefer to do it in the privacy of their humble apartment, but he knows his Kongpob loves the sappy, romantic elements of being in love, so if that’s what it took then Arthit would willingly oblige.
“I’m…looking to buy a ring,” he finally settles on these words.
“Popping the big question, then?” Ploy grins. “How exciting!”
Arthit flushes and nodded slightly, not necessarily embarrassed, but pleasantly shy at the thought of Kongpob’s brilliant smile when he potentially says yes.
Would he say yes? Arthit certainly hopes so, but there’s a reason the question has to be asked in the first place.
“Do you have any particular styles or a budget in mind? We have an excellent selection of princess cuts on this side.”
She gestures to a row of dainty silver rings, each with varying shapes and sizes of diamonds perched on the top by a tiny claw. Some of the glimmering rocks are as big as almonds, worth more than his car, apartment, and life savings collectively. They’re stunning, but certainly not what Arthit is been looking for.
“Um…those are nice. But I was looking for something maybe…a little less…flashy?”
He’d vaguely eyed the other end of the glass case, his attention caught by a corner of decidedly more masculine-looking pieces.
“Oh, well we do have some more affordable options, if that’s a concern.”
Ploy visually scans the display, automatically searching for something she could recommend, like she’d done many times before, until she catches his gaze focusing on a particular section. Realisation dawns upon her and she steps away from the other end of the display. She unlocks the case and slowly pulls out the velvet ring holder tray he’s studying, placing it on top of the glass.
Arthit just looks at her in surprise. He’d been caught staring.
“Do you know his ring size?” she says, her voice low and her smile kind.
The pinkish hue in his cheeks gives him away and he mentally slaps himself. God, why couldn’t he have just said what he meant to begin with?
“Size 7,” he murmurs, eyes darting along the tray of rings.
He knows this only because on the night of M and May’s wedding, when Kongpob had had one too many drinks and passed out in bed, he’d slyly wrapped a piece of string around the circumference of his boyfriend’s ring finger, and measured it. Arthit knows it seems like a completely insane thing to do when he could easily have just taken one of Kongpob’s existing rings and measured the size, but he knows that his boyfriend likes to wear them on different fingers sometimes, so Arthit wants to be extremely sure that the ring he buys will fit that exact finger.
There are a few rings in the tray that have a thick silver band with one large diamond held in place at the tip of a mountain-like peak, but they look more like something a bulky mafia boss would wear to complement his gold tooth rather than a promise of eternal love for his sweet, gentle wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly boyfriend.
He takes his time pondering over each and every ring, occasionally picking one up and holding it to the light and trying to picture what it would look like on Kongpob’s tan, slim fingers.
“How long have you been together?”
Ploy adjusts each ring in the tray so that they’re perfectly aligned with each other. She knows it’s probably a bit nosy, but listening to customers’ heart-warming stories behind their gifts is the most satisfying part of her job.
“About eight years,” Arthit replies, smiling fondly. “We met in university.”
“Wow! Eight years is no small feat. He must be one hell of a guy for someone as adorable as you to want to marry him.”
Arthit blushes at her remark, but lets out a chuckle, shaking his head.
“Actually, he’s insanely annoying. He’s an outrageous flirt and never leaves me alone; he keeps texting me a load of cheesy nonsense when I’m supposed to be at work. Oh, and he’s so picky, especially about food. I’ve never met anyone who alphabetises their spice rack in the kitchen. Honestly, and he treats me like I’m a child sometimes. Like, I can fix my own tie, you know? And -“
He looks up when he hears Ploy giggling slightly, and mashes his lips together to stop himself. Again with the verbal diarrhoea.
“Sorry, I’m just rambling. He’s okay, I guess.”
“It just sounds like you two love each other a lot.”
Arthit just gives a small smile in response, and draws his attention back to the rings. Ploy picks one up and observes the details before handing it to Arthit.
“I get the feeling you might like this one.”
It’s not at all flashy – a narrow, flat, white gold band with a short line of five tiny, round-cut diamonds embedded in a leaf-shaped gap along one side. The delicate gems catch the light just enough to give an air of finesse, but they’re not so blinding that the piece draws too much attention.
Arthit’s wide smile is all the answer that Ploy needs as confirmation.
“I’ll wrap it up for you.”
He sucks at his teeth and his wallet winces when she hurriedly talks him through the total cost – 52,000 THB! – warranty, and refund policies, and places the ring with a gloved hand carefully in the box and in a tiny red shopping bag.
It’s not that Arthit is hard pressed for money, as he is generally quite frugal and has plenty of savings, but it’s still definitely more than he’d expected.
“Oh, I hope it goes well!” Ploy says as he’s about to leave, practically gushing with her hands placed flat on her chest.
“Thanks, I hope so, too,” he fiddles with the handle of the bag as he leaves the store.
The idiot had better say yes, or Arthit isn’t above asking for a refund.
There you have it. Our cutie shy boy Arthit is gonna ask Kong to marry him :3
I’ve based their anniversary off of the night of Tum and Fon’s wedding in the original series, which is December 17th, 2016, according to the date on Kongpob’s phone when Ple texts him to say she’ll pick him up later.
Also, 52,000 THB is roughly 1670 USD. It’s not actually that much for a diamond ring, but it’s still worth about 2 months rent for a small apartment in Bangkok (from what I Googled).