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spinning it faster is not always the best choice

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Donghyuck doesn’t know what is worse: the fact that Yuta always plays loud rock music in the living room whenever he’s trying to study, or that he can’t take refuge in Jeno’s room because the latter spends ninety-percent of his time going down on Jaemin. Seriously, Donghyuck hates his friends so much sometimes. Sometimes, as in, most of the time.

After ten minutes full of groaning and violent head scratching, he decides he just can’t do this anymore. His patience has already been stretched so thin, because goddamnit, why does Yuta always choose to do this when it’s finals week? Donghyuck wouldn’t mind if he wants to blast the speakers until they burst any other day, just not now, because he has a really, really important exam tomorrow that he can’t afford to fail. Does Yuta know that? Yes. Does he care? Absolutely fucking not.

“Hyung, are you gonna turn that off or do I have to kick you out?” Donghyuck yells from the bedroom.

“Try me, kid,” Yuta shouts back from the living room, and Donghyuck groans again, because that just now really was an empty threat and Yuta knows that. There’s no way in hell he can collect enough strength to even move Yuta from his seat, moreover trying to throttle the older boy out of their room.

Donghyuck allows himself some time to think for a couple of minutes, in which he’s seriously considering the best ways to murder his roommate and make it look like an accident. Should he poison Yuta’s toast in the morning? No, that’s too intricate. Yuta will probably get wind of his plans before he can carry it out. Or maybe he should electrocute him while he’s in the shower? But Donghyuck knows zero shit about electrocution methods and he can’t risk getting an accomplice. Executing Yuta is probably going to be harder than enduring him alive.

After a few more minutes with no change in the volume outside whatsoever, Donghyuck finally gives up. He knows that in the end he will have to drag his ass from the room instead of kicking Yuta out, because honestly, that’s how it has always been. Yuta is too stubborn, while Donghyuck is impatient. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put Yuta and Donghyuck together in one single room?

“Where are you going?” Yuta asks, when Donghyuck passes by him slouching on the floor in front of the TV, print-outs scattered beneath his arms. He has the nerve to look quizzical, that insensitive dipshit. Donghyuck wants to thwack him with his bag, really, he’s extremely tempted, but holds himself back out of spite. So he opts to giving Yuta a very dirty glare instead.

“Out studying somewhere quiet,” Donghyuck snaps. “Theatrical Theory is on tomorrow and I can’t fucking concentrate with you here.”

“Don’t come back too late,” Yuta calls out, like he actually cares, when Donghyuck slams the door closed behind him. He exhales a deep breath, resting his back on the wall for awhile to clear his head. He can’t. He’s still able to hear Yuta’s music even when there are walls between them, and it just fuels his irritation even more.

God, what an asshole.

He bangs on Jeno’s door noisily for good measure when he passes by his room. It’s 8 PM, and he doesn’t expect Jeno’s room to be available for him to study in, either, but he has to check. When the black-haired boy opens it a few seconds later, Donghyuck’s eyes are immediately locked on his friend’s lopsided T-shirt and the messy hair. He doesn’t need to be a genius to put in the pieces together.

“God fucking dammit,” he cries, and he grabs at his own hair in frustration. “Who the fuck put you guys together? I can’t fucking believe this.”

Jeno listens through to Donghyuck’s unremitting rambling, crosses his arm, and then leans his body on the doorway. Oh, how Donghyuck hates him. How he especially hates the fact that Jeno just looks even more fetching when he’s obviously wrecked. Other than associating with assholes like Yuta, Donghyuck really needs to stop befriending pretty boys like Jeno. His life is hard enough as it is.

“What’s your problem, man?” Jeno asks when Donghyuck has finally ceased his grumbling, heaving a sigh that just makes Donghyuck loathe him even more. “You came here hammering on my door and then continued to curse at me. Is this your new way to deal with stress? Is this what it is?”

“I’m not cursing at you, I’m cursing at whatever inappropriate activity you and Jaemin were involved in before I got here.”

Jeno’s eyes narrow into perfect crescents as he smiles broadly. Has Donghyuck mentioned that Jeno’s smile can ruin worlds? It melts hearts, man. Also, Donghyuck wonders why is he even here when he knows this will just end up the same way like his tragedy with Yuta earlier.

“Well, if you knew we were involved in an, um, inappropriate activity, why did you even bother to check on us?” Jeno inquires, flicking Donghyuck’s cheek with his long fingers and grins at him. Jesus. He’s just two months ahead of him and he’s already acting like Donghyuck is a ten years old. “Are you worried that we’ll cross the distinct line you’ve preached about before? Don’t worry, we were just—“

“Making out, I know,” Donghyuck cuts him off, smacking Jeno’s arm so hard until he winces. “You guys are always making out, I don’t fucking need a restatement. I was actually going to borrow like, a tiny bit of space to, I don’t know? Friggin’ study in? But as I thought, you two are still all over each other, so thanks for your time, bye.”

Jeno breathes a chortle through his nose. “Huh. You actually study?”

“I feel the need to point out that the disrespectful, surprised tone you just used is really rude, but I’ll let this pass. Yes, I study. Yes, I’m a good, dutiful student. No, I don’t spend my time making out like you two hormonal teenagers.”

Jeno laughs out loud, throwing his head back. At least Jeno doesn’t get offended easily.

“Hormonal teenagers, holy crap. Good one, Hyuck. But insults aside, you know I won’t mind if you want to study here. Neither is Jaemin. He’s not always monopolizing me, contrary to popular beliefs. Contrary to your belief.”

“Well, I mind. And you really do need to hold back on the lips smacking. Like have some restraints, man, don’t you care for your grades?”

“Believe me, we are studying. Or at least we were. I just got a little… sidetracked,” Jeno says, and seeing from the way his eyebrows are both raised mischievously, it dawns on Donghyuck that he doesn’t want to know any further. He puts one hand up so Jeno doesn’t elaborate, scowling.

“This conversation is kaput,” he declares, and he spares Jeno one last glare before shooing him back inside. “I’ll find somewhere else to study. You go back inside to whatever shit you were doing.”

“Don’t go too far, it’s already dark outside,” Jeno reminds him as Donghyuck furiously treads down the stairs to the lobby, mind muddled.

 

If there’s somewhere quiet and bright enough at nighttime where Donghyuck can actually get his ass to concentrate, without minding Yuta and Jeno and Jaemin’s whole existences, it’s the Laundromat next door. It’s usually only packed in the afternoon, so Donghyuck heads there, because he is so not going to the uni library at this time. As he has said to Jeno earlier, he might be a good, dutiful student, but he’s not that dutiful.

As he has expected, the coin wash looks fairly empty from the outside. Not that it matters. Who has enough spare times to do their laundry after 6 PM when it’s finals week, anyway? Certainly not Donghyuck.

He pushes the glass door and strolls inside, dropping his bag down on the nearest metal chair, and is just about to sigh in satisfaction when a very nervous voice calls out, “Um, excuse me. Hey there. The only person here besides me.”

Donghyuck’s head whips around so fast it hurts because fuck, wasn’t he alone just now? But apparently he’s not, because there’s a boy bending over farthest washing machine in there with him, and he’s somehow elbow deep in the tub. He’s looking at Donghyuck expectantly, eyes wide like a puppy’s, and Donghyuck’s heart is immediately snatched.

“Uh, yeah?” he says very intelligently, because oh shit, he’s cute. Not just cute, but really cute. The boy’s hair is dyed dark blond and looks real soft, and he has this awkward expression on his face that just makes him look even more lovely, somehow, if that makes sense. Donghyuck thinks his whole body screams, hi there, I’m adorable as hell! He will go further into details if the boy doesn’t wave his free hand on him then, gesturing him to come closer.

“I’m sorry but can you help me?” the boy asks, his tone both polite and restless that it’s making Donghyuck nervous, too. “My hand is stuck. Like stuck stuck.”

For a second there, Donghyuck is flabbergasted. Oh. My hand is stuck. His hand is stuck. Then a hundred of how the fucks starts circling around inside of his brain, as his feet move forward closer to the blond-haired boy. He smiles apologetically at Donghyuck when he’s close, and then he points inside of the washing machine. Donghyuck cranes his neck in to check; indeed, the boy’s hand is stuck in between the inner and outer tub of the washing machine.

Sweet Jesus, how could this even happen? How hopeless could you be to get your hand stuck in a fucking washing machine, Donghyuck wants to cry out, but he doesn’t, because the blond-haired boy is too cute for him to slander on their first meeting. Instead he questions, “How long have you been here?”

“Not long. I think fifteen minutes before you came? Or is it twenty?” the boy replies, and Donghyuck watches from the corner of his eyes as the boy fumbles with his answers. Really, cute.

“Your hand’s been stuck for twenty minutes?” Donghyuck says in disbelief. “How did you get stuck, even?”

Unless Donghyuck’s eyes are deceiving him, he sees the boy blushing a little. “Well, I…” he begins sheepishly. “I dropped a coin inside by accident. So of course, I tried to take it out. I got the coin out, see,” the boy says, patting his pocket. “But my hand, uh, not so much.”

“Dude, that looks super bad,” Donghyuck says, and he’s surprised that he actually feels worried for the boy. He doesn’t even know him, for God’s sake, but if this boy is clumsy enough to get his fucking hand stuck in a washing machine just to get a single coin out, then by all means, Donghyuck has all the rights to worry about him.

He slips three fingers in between the inner and outer tub. Good, he can move it a bit to create more space, but it won’t help much. The blond-haired boy’s hand is ensnared around the wrist, his elbow bent in an awkward angle. Donghyuck almost can’t believe he’s stuck in that uncomfortable stance for a full twenty minutes and not looked the slightest of panicked. Well, he looks slightly freaked out now that Donghyuck’s around and has adjudicated the situation as ‘super bad’.

Donghyuck bites his lower lip. Obviously, he has to help this boy. He wraps his fingers around the boy’s wrist, and then stops suddenly to spit out a tense, “Excuse me.”

What is he doing? He’s saying ‘excuse me’ before he touches the boy, like it’s so wrong of him to do that and he needs permission first. What even, he thinks, suddenly embarrassed. Donghyuck has never said excuse me even once in his life before.

But the boy, bless him, doesn’t seem to notice Donghyuck’s sudden rise in apprehension, because he just smiles at Donghyuck and says, “Sure, go on. Please help me, actually, I’m quite desperate.”

“Okay, um…”

“I’m Mark.”

“Hi, Mark.” Donghyuck tries not to look too much at the boy’s smile, because oh, no, Jeno has just gotten himself a brand new competition. Mark’s smile is just as, if not more, unbearably stunning as Jeno’s. He clears his throat and focuses back on Mark’s trapped hand. “I’m Donghyuck,” he says again, guessing Mark needs to know his name too.

“Hi, Donghyuck. How’re you?”

“Good. How exciting, now we’re friends,” he says. He wonders how should he do this? Well, first he has to try the most practical choice present. So he tugs on Mark’s hand, trying to pull it out in one go, but then Mark yelps so loudly in pain, his left hand grabbing Donghyuck’s sleeve by reflex and Donghyuck almost jumps out of his skin. “Shit! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Mark, did it hurt? It hurt, didn’t it? God, I’m so sorry—“

Mark’s string of swearwords diminishes before he can finally muster an equally overwrought, “No, it’s okay. It’s okay, really! Well, it did hurt, but I’ve accepted that I probably can’t get it out without too much suffering.” Donghyuck curses himself for not thinking his actions through, but then Mark squeezes his arm encouragingly. “It’s okay, dude, let’s try this again, I promise I won’t scream.”

“No, we are not trying anything again! It hurt you, what if you end up losing a finger or something? You’ll sue me.”

“Jesus, calm down,” Mark says, but he’s grinning now. “You’re a funny guy, aren’t you? Besides, if I do end up losing a finger, I promise I won’t sue you. You’re trying to help me here.”

“That’s what you say now, but later when you’re only left with three fingers intact who knows what’ll happen?” Donghyuck grumbles. He tries to ignore the fact that Mark has just called him funny. He’s used to that, he knows damn well that he’s funny. Wit is his best quality. So why does it feel different to him now that this cute, yet dumb, guy is the one who’s said it?

“Okay, but seriously, I’m prepared for the pain. Just help me pull through,” Mark says. He gives Donghyuck a thumbs up and another smile that, frankly speaking, is just as shaky as Donghyuck’s resolve, but he thinks that maybe Mark believes it’s better to get scratches on his hand rather than losing it completely. Donghyuck commends that thought, even if it means he is the one who has to suffer the guilt of pulling Mark’s hand out from the washing machine when he knows for a fact that it hurts Mark.

“Fine, just don’t sue me,” Donghyuck says, giving up. It’s okay, he can hurt Mark a little. He’ll buy him Band-Aids later or something. Even though technically, if this works out okay, it’s Mark who has to treat him something since he’s the one that Donghyuck is helping. “Take deep breath, Mark. This is going to hurt. I think.”

Mark’s lower lip is caught between his teeth, probably to stifle an imminent scream, and Donghyuck pulls on Mark’s hand while pushing the inner tub outward. Mark doesn’t yell again, but he makes this muffled, whine of immense agony as Donghyuck yanks hard, and then Mark’s hand plops out from between the tubes. They both lose balance and stagger backward, Donghyuck’s good reflex allowing him to grab on the back of Mark’s shirt and steadying the both of them. They still end up on their asses on the floor, anyway, but at least they didn’t land head first and get themselves in another regrettably absurd situation.

Donghyuck’s initial relief is quick to be obliterated by Mark’s loud voice as the taller boy starts to swear again.

Fucking shit, that hurt like a bitch!” Mark howls, clutching his previously stuck hand to his chest, and Donghyuck swears he sees tears threatening to spill on Mark’s eyes. Christ, Donghyuck doesn’t know what to do, not when Mark is still disgorging blasphemies like the world is ending in that exact minute. “I am never going to save another coin again, goddamnit, God, it still stings.”

“Dude!” Donghyuck exclaims, and he instinctively wraps his arm around Mark’s shoulder to soothe him. He tells himself, no, this is not a terribly made excuse to touch Mark, I’m just being a good guy. When they’re both crouched on the floor, they’re easily the same height. “I’m really, really sorry, Mark, you did good, you did real good. Here, let me see your hand, is it bleeding?”

Mark hesitantly gives Donghyuck his hand. No, this is also not a terribly made excuse to hold Mark’s hand, seriously, he just needs to see if Mark’s fingers are still in one piece.

“Oh no,” Donghyuck says in a small voice. There’s an open scrape on the back of Mark’s hand; it’s small and the blood is not dripping down, but it’s bright red in color and Mark is grimacing, so it must still hurt to some extent, at least. He looks up at Mark. “I know this is not the right time, but Mark, I think your hand is marked.”

Mark chokes, and then cough the air out. “Don’t add to my suffering,” he says, but Donghyuck notices that he’s laughing in between his rasping. “And it’s not so bad, I guess.”

“What isn’t so bad? The pun? I know. Thanks.”

“Hell no. I meant my hand, silly. I refuse to acknowledge your pun just now, it’s just that horrible.”

“Damn,” Donghyuck mutters, holding back a smile, but then he notices that Mark’s lips are still taut in a scowl. “Why are you still wincing, then?”

Mark blinks. “Um, because it hurts?”

“Then it’s bad,” Donghyuck states. He lets go of Mark and stands up, offering Mark his hand as he does so. Mark accepts it and lets Donghyuck pulls him up. “At least let’s go to patch that up.”

 

Donghyuck ends up buying Band-Aids for Mark, anyway. When he comes out from the nearest convenience store, Mark still sitting on the sidewalk holding his hand, he has a strip of Band-Aids on his hand. Mark starts fumbling with his words again when Donghyuck settles down next to him and starts opening one to patch Mark’s scratch, saying something about how Donghyuck is being too kind to him (he is), but Donghyuck shushes him.

“There,” Donghyuck says, after he has carefully attached the Band-Aid to Mark’s hand. Then in a split second of horror, Donghyuck lifts Mark’s hand to kiss the now plastered scratch. The moment his lips press against the softness that is Mark’s skin, Donghyuck’s heart stops.

Fuck. Donghyuck freezes, the back of Mark’s hand inches from his mouth, suddenly realizing that this boy in front of him is neither Jeno nor Jaemin nor Yuta. He’s used to kissing the Band-Aid daubed on their skin whenever he’s done placing it for them, for ‘good luck’ he always says, and they most always respond with a shrewd smirk (Jeno), an appreciative smile (Jaemin), or an ‘ew get the fuck away from me’ (Yuta), but now he has just fucking kissed Mark’s hand, someone he doesn’t even know.

Oh, he’s fucked.

“Jesus!” Donghyuck cries, and he lets go of Mark’s hand immediately. He wants to smack his head against the nearest pole and die from concussion. “Jesus, Mark, bad habit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to kiss—fuck, forget it, forget me, I’m the worst.”

“What?” Mark asks, and much to Donghyuck’s surprise (and further embarrassment), Mark doesn’t look weirded out. He just looks plain curious. “What? What bad habit?”

Donghyuck feels his face heating up, and no, Lee Donghyuck does not blush, ever, but this boy… He swears, there’s something really off about Mark. Like how his presence affects Donghyuck’s bodily function, for one.

“It’s this—just now, I—ah, I swear to God, this is so embarrassing but I have to explain so you don’t misunderstand!” Donghyuck struggles with his words, and he grabs at his own hair in frustration. “I just have this weird habit to kiss my friends’ Band-Aid right after I put it on them, okay? Like, I don’t know, I always say it’s for good luck, so they’ll heal faster or some shit. Not like I actually believe it. So I absolutely—I really got carried away just now, so I hope you don’t think I’m screwed in the head or something.”

There’s a long pause between them and Donghyuck thinks, this is it, he’s going to say I’m disgusting. Or at least weird. Maybe even creepy.

But noooo, Mark doesn’t say anything like that. Instead, his lips widen into a happy smile and his eyes light up, like a child. “Dude, that’s really sweet! You care for your friends so much!”

Ouch, this is straying too far off Donghyuck’s expectation, but he’s not complaining.

“Uh, thanks, I guess?” Donghyuck says, and hell, he’s really blushing now, he can’t take it back. Mark is still looking at him, amazed, as Donghyuck’s weird habit is something so fascinating that he’s never heard of before (it is).

“Oh, anyway,” Mark says, breaking out of his starry eyes. “I have to pay you back, Hyuck, I feel really bad. I mean, you came there to study and you ended up helping my ass instead. Plus, you bought me this—“ Mark pointed at his Band-Aid, “—and kissed me back to health.”

“Don’t mention the kissing part, I beg you, that’s just so embarrassing,” Donghyuck pleads, wincing in more mortification. “And don’t mind it. I just happened to come by. Anyone would help.”

“Still… I don’t know, I gotta pay you back. Hang with me sometimes. I’ll treat you to lunch or something.”

Oh, Donghyuck’s luck is just so good. He did one good deed and this cute blond boy right here is already asking him out. No, not exactly, he just asked Donghyuck to hang together, totally amicable, one hundred percent platonic, but Donghyuck can’t help but to feel a little pleased, okay?

“Sure, I can hang,” he says.

“Awesome!” Mark says, happy, and Donghyuck realizes that maybe he’s in for a long ride when Mark wraps his arm around Donghyuck’s neck and pulls him closer. “I have a feeling we’re gonna get along great.”

I have a feeling I’m going to fall in love, Donghyuck thinks, but of course, he doesn’t say it out loud.

 

One does not help another whose hand is stuck in a washing machine and not become great friends with them. Like Mark has predicted, they do get along great.

Mark studies Music Production, which is like a friend major of Donghyuck’s Theatre Study. Donghyuck finds a few classes that he actually shares with Mark—he’s never noticed him there before now, but suddenly, after that incident in the Laundromat where they’re forced by chance to know each other (again, he’s not complaining), Mark’s presence is now profound to him, always sticking out like a sore thumb that Donghyuck just can’t not notice him. There are changes in seat currently that they’ve become friends, Mark most always sits next to him in class.

Befriending Mark also means befriending Mark’s friends, and Donghyuck gets to know this super tall guy who stumbled across them in front of Mark’s room one sunny afternoon. The super tall guy, who names himself Youngho, seems pretty chill, and Donghyuck wouldn’t mind hanging with him if not for the extremely evident age differences between them. Youngho looks like he’s Yuta’s age, and although Donghyuck tolerates Yuta more than he deserves, their conversations don’t clip very much (unless they are fighting, by then they clip very much). There’s also Mark’s roommate that he hasn’t met yet, Jaehyun, who according to the blond boy is “handsome and friendly overall but kind of nasty”. The description piques Donghyuck’s interest more than ever because nasty, now that’s something he can work with.

But what makes Donghyuck think that maybe Mark is really destined by some cruel fate to meet him, is the fact that Mark actually knows Jaemin. And not just as an acquaintance, but turns out he knows Jaemin really well.

This is bad for Jeno, who’s already used to Jaemin clinging onto him the whole time like it’s Jaemin’s sole duty to attach himself to Jeno. Donghyuck would laugh at Jeno’s face when he first saw Jaemin crushing Mark in an extremely unneeded bear hug if he wasn’t mirroring Jeno’s expression on his own face.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Mark yells out, when Jaemin plants a very wet kiss on Mark’s cheek, much to Jeno’s horror. “It has only been four hours since we last met, what is your problem.”

Jaemin laughs, loud and clear as he lets go of Mark. “I miss people easily.”

“That was still uncalled for.”

“You don’t like it when I hug you?” Jaemin asks in a scowl.

Jeno and Donghyuck exclaim along with Mark, “No.”

All jealousy and continuous squabbling aside, Mark fits right in between Jeno and Donghyuck on the couch as they watch a movie that Mark has brought. Jeno mutters an exasperated, “You’re crashing my date.” Donghyuck, who hears this atrocity, flips him off and says, “You’re always on a date, suck it up.”

“Date?” Mark asks, a few moments later after Donghyuck’s attempt to elbow Jeno from behind Mark’s head doesn’t go unnoticed. “Whose date are we crashing?”

“Jeno’s date,” Donghyuck says, while Jeno leans back to avoid his hand. “With Jaemin? They’re kinda a thing, Mark.”

“A thing,” Mark repeats, resting his chin on his hand as he moves forward so Donghyuck has more space to throttle Jeno. “You mean as in dating thing? Jeno and Jaemin?”

“Yeah, how can you not figure that out?”

“That would actually explain why Jaemin won’t stop talking about you in class,” Mark comments, and he looks pensive as he spares Jaemin a glance. The boy is sitting on his own on the small dining table, earphones plugged in as he reads. “A thing, huh.”

“Why do you sound so… I don’t know, wistful?” Donghyuck asks, raising an eyebrow at Mark. “Don’t tell me you have a crush on Jaemin all this time? Because if you do, this will turn into a love triangle disaster.” Don’t tell me you have a crush on Jaemin all this time because that would make me a disaster, Donghyuck’s true feelings say, but Mark just chortles.

“Nah. I knew him far too long to fall for him. I don’t associate myself with ‘childhood friends turn love’ thing, it’s just far too cliché for my taste, you know?”

“We just graduated from the same high school, we are not childhood friends,” Jaemin calls from the table, and Donghyuck notices that one of his earphones has been pulled out. “That means I’m never too cliché for you to date.”

“Jeno’s right fucking here, what the hell are you saying,” Donghyuck yells, can’t believe his own ears, but Jaemin just grins at them with his distinctive teethy smile. He blows a kiss at Jeno, to which the black-haired replies with a (wobbly) smile.

Donghyuck knows Jaemin’s not serious, never when he’s just spewing shit to mess with Jeno. He knows Jaemin’s preferred kind of jokes way too well, but Jeno doesn’t, so Donghyuck has to say it for the greater good of Lee Jeno, “You know he’s too into you to even look at Mark. Mark’s too boring for his taste.”

“I’m sorry?” Mark says, offended.

“Can’t argue with that,” Jaemin says.

“That’s one burden off my mind,” Jeno says, shrugging, but his usual knowing smile soon grows and he blows Jaemin a kiss back. Jesus. Donghyuck regrets ever saying anything.

Things go smoothly after that, albeit that maybe Mark takes Donghyuck’s unnecessary words to the heart, because when the both of them leave Jeno’s room for the night Mark immediately asks, “Am I boring?”

“What?” Donghyuck asks blankly. Then he remembers the thing he’s said and he snaps his fingers, cursing himself for forgetting it. “Oh, that. No, Mark, I was just saying it for Jeno’s sake. Don’t tell me you actually believe me? I say shit like that a lot.”

Mark murmurs a small oh and turns his head away, looking very much like a dejected puppy. Holy shit, Donghyuck wants to smack him and hug him at the same time. He does feel guilty but he just can’t help it but to think, wow, Mark is a kid at heart, too.

“Dude,” Donghyuck begins, and he throws an arm around Mark. “Seriously, if you were boring we wouldn’t have been friends for this long. Trust me.”

There’s a small quirk on the corner of Mark’s lips. “Riiight,” he says, and he turns to look at Donghyuck. “Trust you.”

Donghyuck’s eyes zoom in on Mark’s face, the way his smile presses on his skin and the scrunched nose as he does so, the upraised seagull brows—he needs to get away, it’s bad for his heart when Mark’s face is way too close to his. He tries to play off his tension with a laugh and lets go of his arm.

“Thanks, I’m flattered,” Donghyuck says, but he looks away so Mark won’t notice the heat on his cheeks. “We shouldn’t crash his date so much, though. Jeno’s confidence is more instable than you’d expect.”

“Really?” Mark asks, and he seems to be lost in wonder. “Even though he’s that handsome already?”

“The good-looking ones are more insecure than you think,” Donghyuck says, as his mind flees back to Taeyong, a friend he’s met in a dance society meeting, that one neat freak who lives on the second floor. Taeyong is awfully gorgeous, the kind of pretty you never thought would look good on a guy but it does. Taeyong has let slip a couple of times to Donghyuck that he always gets better grades than dates, which is kind of sad. If Taeyong wasn’t a few years older than he is, Donghyuck would’ve patted him on the head like a puppy whenever he comes by his room to rant about his shitty dates.

Mark looks over at Donghyuck. “You know a lot for a nineteen years old.”

“Yeah, don’t ask too much.”

“We can hang in my room,” Mark says, shrugging. “I mean, Jaehyun hyung isn’t around much lately. I think he’s wooing someone, that’s why he’s rarely home.”

“Really. Your roommate has his game on and you don’t?”

The temperature seems to rise a few notch as Mark looks at Donghyuck. He’s really looking at him so solemnly that he has Donghyuck wondering if he’s stepped on another nerve.

“I am,” Mark says slowly, “Getting my game on.”

Donghyuck pauses. “Okay?”

He seriously doesn’t know what Mark is saying, but the boy looks so fucking serious it’s making him nervous for some reason. If he hopes Mark will elaborate, he’s disappointed; Mark just smiles and flicks his head with his hand.

“It’s settled then,” Mark says. “We can still watch movies and save Jeno’s confidence at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.”

 

So it kinda becomes a thing; Donghyuck spending his time in Mark’s room or vice versa. They just do whatever together now because, according to Mark, “I have no friend other than Jaemin”, to which Donghyuck answers, “I also have no friend other than Jeno”, so maybe that’s why. Movies, monopoly, cards, lunch, dinner, takeouts, it’s all done with Mark.

Donghyuck hasn’t had the chance to meet Jaehyun yet, because as Mark’s said before, the guy rarely comes home lately. Yuta has, however, met Mark, and as soon as he’s done introducing himself to the boy, he says, “So tell me is Donghyuck good or not.”

Mark scrunches his eyebrows together as Donghyuck stares at Yuta, equally as bewildered.

“Yeah, he’s good, I think,” Mark says, unsure, as he passes Donghyuck a glance that can only mean, what is he saying? Donghyuck shrugs. “Wait. Good at what?”

Donghyuck almost dies of mortal humiliation when Yuta starts to put his hand up and make this flapping gesture with his fingers, because he knows exactly what that means; Yuta has done it so many times to tease Donghyuck’s boyfriendless state. He throws himself at the taller boy and hisses, “You’re gonna make me lose a friend!”

Yuta just screeches a laugh in response, Donghyuck bouncing off him harmlessly. “Calm the fuck down, I was just joking, geez,” he says, and much to Donghyuck’s relief, he leaves the room soon after. The only good thing about Yuta is that he also doesn’t spend much time in their room when it’s still bright outside; damn sporty kids and their club activities.

Donghyuck still has half a mind to yell out, “Yuta’s a fucking bottom!” before the guy goes out from the door, though. He hears the older boy hollers back a muffled, “Like you aren’t, loser,” which leaves him utterly speechless and irritated, because Yuta might be a little bit right.

Mark stares in awe as Donghyuck wipes a sweat from his cheek. “Are you two always like this?” he asks, when Yuta has long since gone. “I mean going at each other’s throat?”

“Yeah, we’re always like this,” Donghyuck says dismissively, waving his hand off. “Yuta’s an asshole, I am too, so I guess we have no choice but to coexist.”

“Huh,” Mark says, thoughtful, as he turns his attention to open the bag of cookies Donghyuck has thrown him earlier. “You’re not that much of an asshole to me.”

“Yeah, to you, Mark,” Donghyuck says, earnestly emphasizing on the word you. It’s the truth; he never, ever wants to be an asshole to Mark. Yuta? Unquestionably. Jeno? Sometimes. Jaemin? When he asks for it. But Mark? Never in the last few weeks of being friends that he wanted to be an ass to Mark.

“You still sass me from time to time, though.”

“That’s like, my default duty. I can’t change that.”

“Fair enough,” Mark says, and he throws Donghyuck a small smile, which makes Donghyuck feel lightheaded. “Anyway, what are we watching today?”

“Yuta’s got a lot of movies, you pick,” Donghyuck says, prodding Yuta’s harddisk that he’s stolen from their room just now with his foot.

“Oooh, boy, you’re right. He has a lot.”

Donghyuck watches as Mark scrolls through Yuta’s list of movies, mumbling to himself as he does so. He’s half sitting, half kneeling, which makes Donghyuck feel uncomfortable just by looking at him, but then again, maybe Mark does have a knack to do things in uncomfortable positions. Like enduring twenty minutes of pain when he was elbow deep in a fucking washing machine, for example.

“Listen,” Donghyuck suddenly says. “Pray to whatever God you believe in, like, right now.”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it.”

Mark scrunches his nose, but he closes his eyes and stays silent for a few seconds. Then he opens his eyes again, “I don’t know what I’m praying for?”

“You should say your gratitude for that one blessed night, when you were so stupid that you got your hand stuck in the washing machine in Laundromat.”

Why,” Mark gasps, and Donghyuck pauses.

“Because, if you weren’t so stupid, Mark Lee, you wouldn’t have gotten your fucking hand stuck and we wouldn’t have met!” Donghyuck says, very tempted to kick Mark in the shin and also kiss him right after. “All I’m saying is be grateful because we actually met, you oblivious nerd.”

“Is that supposed to be an insult?” Mark says, but he’s smiling, and so is Donghyuck.

“Yeah,” Donghyuck says. That just now wasn’t a confession at all, nope. “Yeah, that’s an insult.”

 

“Shit,” Donghyuck says, looking at Mark as he presses his ear harder on the door to his own room with Yuta. “He’s home. And not alone.”

“He’s with someone?”

“Yeah, I know this voice. It’s Dongyoung, from the singing club. He’s like, this super scary mentor of mine. I’d like to avoid seeing him outside of club activity if I could.”

Mark’s eyebrows are raised. “So, Yuta’s fucking your mentor?”

Donghyuck gawps at Mark, totally not expecting Mark to say ‘fuck’ just as easily as Donghyuck does. But it’s been almost two months now, maybe Mark has picked up a few bad habits of his. That can’t be good. Donghyuck can’t have Mark paddling around campus cursing, it’ll hurt his good looks.

“Yuta’s not fucking anyone, he’s too shit at love to even kiss someone. He probably can’t even tell the difference of all four bases,” Donghyuck says, and he pulls himself back to stop eavesdropping on whatever shit Yuta and his singing mentor are doing, in a closed room, alone. “But anyway, this means my room isn’t available for our Natsume Yuujinchou marathon today. Make me a sad face.”

Mark laughs, but he does that endearing half smiling, half grimacing thing for Donghyuck’s sake. “Let’s try my room then. Jaehyun hyung’s probably out again.”

They turn around and climb the stairs toward the third floor, where Mark’s room is.

“You won’t believe what Jeno did in my class today,” Mark begins again, as he makes way to his room, Donghyuck following along.

“Do you and Jeno even share class?” Donghyuck asks. “Oh wait. Music and Dance are also friend majors. Continue, what shit did he pull this time?”

“Well,” Mark says, as he stops on the door numbered 17, hand ready on the handle. “For starters, this morning he came storming in and—holy shit!” Mark finishes with a loud curse, stepping back and accidentally crushing Donghyuck’s foot under his shoes.

Donghyuck yelps, hands landing on the back of Mark’s shirt, but then his eyes go dark… Wait, no, his eyes are covered by Mark’s hand. The taller boy has smacked his palm above of his nose, entirely blocking his vision.

“Holy shit, what the hell are you guys doing?” Donghyuck hears Mark demands, and his heart jumps up inside of his chest. What’s happening? Is there something exciting out there that he can’t see right now?

There are shuffles and hushed voices, before someone says nervously, “We were, uh, kissing.”

Holy shit, Donghyuck mouths too, but Mark doesn’t seem to notice. He’s apparently still too busy staring down at whatever catastrophe he’s looking at right now. At this point in time, Donghyuck’s sense of curious mischief kicks in and he yells, “Are they naked or do they have their clothes on? Because if they’re naked, I swear to God, Mark Lee—“

“At least lock the goddamn door,” Mark grumbles, and Donghyuck feels himself being pushed back, not unkindly, as Mark closes the door with a loud bang. His hand finally leaving Donghyuck’s face, he looks distraught and flushed as he says, “Seems like we have to crash Jeno’s date again, Hyuck.”

“What?” Donghyuck protests. “But we already hung with Jeno yesterday, Jaemin will kill me.”

“Nah, he won’t,” Mark says, and he turns toward the stairs without any other helpful explanation. Donghyuck follows along, his eyes fixed on Mark’s glowing cheeks.

“What’s with you?” Donghyuck inquires, bravely prodding Mark’s face. The older grimaces but doesn’t swat his hand away. “Was it Jaehyun earlier? Your roommate?”

“Yeah, with his boyfriend, Taeyong hyung, they were… I don’t know, it looked like they were just about to go further than simply kissing and it’s just so disastrous seeing them like they’re—God, why am I explaining this to a minor?”

Donghyuck scoffs. “I’m nineteen. And what’s so weird about them kissing? It’s not like you’ve never kissed someone in your life before?”

This is simply a question asked out of pure curiousity, but then there’s a long pause in which Mark refuses to look at Donghyuck in the eye.

Something clicks inside of his mind. Donghyuck grins, but he also feels his heart pounding faster that it hurts, because this can’t be happening right now.

“Mark, don’t tell me I was right?”

“Well…”

“You’ve never kissed anyone before?”

Mark breathes loudly through his nose. He looks like he can’t decide whether to laugh miserably or to cry, which is really cute in Donghyuck’s eyes. Everything Mark does is cute in Donghyuck’s eyes.

“No, uh… never,” he finally says, pinching the bridge of his nose nervously. “But how is this relevant to that adversity I just saw—“

“Okay, so, do you want to change that?”

Mark stops talking, Donghyuck’s mind stops working; everything just seems to stop in time. There’s only Mark in Donghyuck’s line of vision; the ground they stand on, the closed doors of student rooms on their sides, the cracked ceilings, even the air they breathe, those things all vanish somewhere in between Donghyuck and Mark’s small space. Here it’s just them, inches away, stuck in a friendship that Donghyuck desperately wants to escape from. Here (not so) cruel fate meets Donghyuck once again, dangling a wide white paper with the word CHANCE written in bold right in front of his fucking face.

Right. This is indeed a chance.

“Change what, Donghyuck?” Mark asks softly.

This is difficult, obviously more so than any exams he’s ever faced, but Donghyuck refuses to go back down. Not when he’s already this far. He’s said the worst thing at the worst possible time, ever, but somehow Mark isn’t angry, Mark isn’t pulling away from him. And it goes like that; Donghyuck’s hand moves to hold on Mark’s shoulder as he stands a little bit taller on his toes, just so he can kiss Mark. Just a soft, faint brushing of lips, a little bit unsure, but still as fond, because that’s exactly what Donghyuck is: he’s very, very, very fond of Mark. Mark’s warm breath smells like mint, tickling his cheeks, making his face feel hot.

Oh, Donghyuck thinks, I’ve done it now. This is it. If Mark doesn’t kiss him back, he’s ruined.

But then Mark kisses him back, and he’s still fucking ruined.

So that’s that.

 

“You and Mark a thing now?” Jeno asks.

This is the third time Donghyuck has had that question aimed at him this week. First, it was obviously Yuta, who always knows how to read Donghyuck like an open book even if he’s a screwed shut book deadlocked with chains. His exact question was, “Screwed Mark yet?” and an equally livid and flustered Donghyuck flung a butter knife and yelled at him, “How about you, lover boy? Has Dongyoung rammed the bottom out of you yet?”

Afterwards they managed to do it pretty civil. When Yuta was done laughing his ass off on the floor (“Doyoung? Rammed the bottom out of me? You’re out of your fucking mind!”) and Donghyuck was done seething, Yuta threw an arm around his neck and kissed his ear, which was unexpected but still disgusting.

“Fucking sh—what are you playing at?” Donghyuck cursed, but he let Yuta ruffled his hair and shoved him out of the way right afterward, much like how an asshole older brother would do it.

“Congratufuckinglations, my boy,” Yuta said, and unless Donghyuck was helplessly hopeful for affection or his ears were in the wrong, Yuta’s voice sounded genuine for once. “You finally land yourself a man! Good job! Gold star for you! Except of course, since you’re basically still a minor, I have to say as a responsible roommate and an adult, you are absolutely not allowed to have sex wi—“

“Shut up, shut up, shut up, I know that! Don’t finish, God, I swear you’re the worst,” Donghyuck wailed, shoving Yuta away further from him in disgust. Yuta seemed to be satisfied of seeing the redness and annoyance visible on Donghyuck’s face, because he just grinned and helped him with breakfast without saying anything else.

The second to ask that question was Mark’s own roommate, Jaehyun. Well, he didn’t exactly ask, either. While Donghyuck was casually waiting for Mark outside of the cafeteria door, a super handsome guy in grey sweater walked past him and stopped suddenly upon meeting his eyes, saying, “Oh, Donghyuck!”

Donghyuck was utterly flabbergasted because who the fuck is this breathing piece of art and why does he even know my name, but then the guy grinned widely and tapped on his shoulder. “I’m Jaehyun. You know, Mark’s roommate? We’ve never met, but I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Ah,” Donghyuck said very cleverly. This was the guy who made out with his Taeyong hyung the last time they visited Mark’s room. He must be cool if he’s gotten Taeyong so worked up over every single thing he does. (“Hyuck, you have to know, today Jaehyun wore a fucking tanktop at practice. God does he has guns, I’m fucking blessed, I really am.” “Hyung, shut up and get away from me, you’re whipped.”) “Jaehyun. Mark’s roommate. Taeyong hyung’s latest date?”

There was a slight flush of red on Jaehyun’s dimpled cheeks, but he simply shrugged it off with a laugh. “Well, you could say that, I guess,” he says. “But don’t you two start ganging up on me now when you’re basically married, too.”

There’s a short-lived pause as Donghyuck tried to process Jaehyun’s words.

“We’re not basically married,” Donghyuck gasped, horrified, but Jaehyun just waved and walked right off, like he hadn’t just dropped the biggest bomb in the history of Lee Donghyuck. “Wait! Shit, he’s fast.”

And now it’s this hormonal hazard in human form Lee Jeno’s turn. Donghyuck doesn’t answer for awhile, too busy trying to save his cookie from drowning in his glass of milk (he fails miserably). Then he looks up and says, “You got a problem with that?”

Jeno grins, his eyes forming perfect crescents, but Donghyuck isn’t as impressed with his smile now that he’s seen Mark’s for God knows how many times, meant solely just for him. Jeno has just lost a battle he doesn’t even know the existence of.

“No. No, just… it took you so long, man,” Jeno says, running his fingers through his soft black locks. “Like, a little too long.”

“What long? Just three months tops, I don’t rush things like you did with Jaemin.”

“First of all, three months of crushing on a seemingly oblivious guy, who is actually whipped from the very start, is pretty long to me. Oh boy the pain of waiting. And second, I didn’t rush things with my own relationship, it was all Jaemin. I did like, ten percent flirting and he was the one who glued himself to me from day one. Not that I’m complaining.”

Jaemin’s voice immediately reverberates from the bathroom. “I heard someone mentioned my name just now! If you guys are talking shit about me you’re all dead.”

“Hyuck’s dating Mark!” Jeno yells, and Jaemin makes a half whining, half screaming sort of a sound from the bathroom, and then there’s a loud crashing noise. Jeno cackles.

“Are you serious,” Jaemin finally shouts back after a series of cursing and painful howlings. “How dare my best friend go down on my boyfriend’s best friend without telling me anything! He’s dead, too.”

“Spare me a few limbs, I still want to get a goodnight kiss later,” Donghyuck says for good measure, not minding Jaemin’s muffled curses that continue until he leaves their room minutes later. “And nobody’s going down on anyone, for fuck’s sake, I still have my manners!”

 

There’s a loud knock on Donghyuck’s door, right when the latter is just about to do his power nap. If it wasn’t Mark Lee who’s standing in front of his room right now, all puppy eyes and stroppy smile, with a basket of dirty clothes in hand, Donghyuck would’ve had throttled him.

“It’s like 4 PM, I just spent two fucking hours with Dongyoung in choir, and I’m not at the best of my mood. Now be quick and tell me what the hell do you want.”

Mark doesn’t seem thrown off by Donghyuck’s violent approach. Probably because he knows Donghyuck better than he knows himself.

“I’m about to do laundry,” Mark says. “Can you watch me so I don’t get my hand stuck again?”

Donghyuck stares at him, tired, but he’s so damn in love with Mark that even his fatigued eyes are still able to see the seemingly palpable warmth that’s coming off of Mark’s smile.

God, Donghyuck is so screwed. He’s already screwed from that first one moment where he’d agreed to help Mark in the Laundromat next door, though, so he can’t complain now. Not when Mark presses a kiss on the bridge of his nose, coaxing him further to accompany him downstairs. Not when the affection in Mark’s brown eyes is obviously reflected on his own.

“Oh, Mark Lee, you’re fucking hopeless,” Donghyuck finally says, but he’s already grabbing his jacket and keys, turning to lock the door as Mark bumps their shoulders together lovingly. “Remind me why do I love you again?”