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Bloom

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“Yo, nerd, wanna go to the pool?”

To Mark, Donghyuk was like an ice pop; refreshing, sweet, but still had the ability to give you a massive headache.

“First of all, rude, second of all i can’t. I have homework.”

Donghyuk groaned as he plopped himself down on the desk next to Mark, watching him pack away the last of his school supplies.

“Fuck the homework dude. Come. To. the. Pool.” He punctuated every word with a smack on the desk. “Come on, when’s the last time we actually had enough free time to go somewhere together?”

Mark looked up to see Donghyuk staring at him through big, pleading eyes.

 

The boys’ first ever interaction had been when Donghyuks parents decided to invite Marks family, who had just moved to the neighborhood, over to their home 14 years ago. Mark and Donghyuk weren’t much more than toddlers at the time, so all it took was for Donghyuk to reach out and take Marks tiny hand for their friendship to blossom. Their childhood consisted of hours spent babbling incoherent nonsense to each other, making mud pies and sharing soggy soft toys, their connection only getting stronger as the years went by.

“Dude, i’m this close to failing, i’m really not trying to take any risks. Mom said she’s taking away my gaming system if i bring back another F.” Donghyuk rolled his eyes at Marks whining.

“I will literally do your homework for you if you come with me.” Donghyuk deadpanned, but Mark couldn’t help but laugh, because he knew for a damn fact that Donghyuk barely even managed to do his own assignments, let alone someone else’s.

“Stop laughing, i’m so serious right now dude, come to the pool with me.”

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The public pool was disgustingly full, everywhere you looked there were kids screaming and old people wearing swimwear that left way too little to the imagination, the smell of sunscreen and chlorine surrounding them along with the light that reflected off the cement that covered the area.

Mark readjusted the bag on his shoulder, eyes squinting against the sunlight, before glancing over at his friend. One look at Donghyuk was enough to see that he was just as unenthused about the scene in front of them as Mark was. They made their way over to the grassy corner that had been wordlessly declared theirs whenever it was finally hot enough to actually enjoy being outside, three of their friends already sitting in the shade of one of the trees.

“Whaddup losers.” Donghyuk yelled across the leftover space between them, as Mark apologised to anyone sitting nearby.

“Took you long enough. I was getting tired of hearing Renjun’s bitching about the ‘harmful UV rays’.” Jaemin barely finished his sentence before Renjun pounced onto his back, Jeno laughing in the background.

Mark, being the only one who had any sense of responsibility in the group, smiled as he threw a half empty bottle of sunscreen in his friends general direction before setting a blanket down for him and Donghyuk, who was already in the process of taking off his shirt.

“You coming swimming or what?” He asked, looking back at Mark.

Everything about Donghyuk was made for summer, whether it was his naturally tan skin, his fluffy brown hair, or the fact that even in the middle of winter he looked like he exuded the suns rays themselves. He had this quality about him that just drew people in. Similar to when he and Mark had first met, all he had to do was reach out his hand for people to never want to leave his side.
Mark had always been a little envious of Donghyuk. Where the other was soft and inviting, oozing confidence and charm, Mark was awkward and gangly, always undergoing an internal battle between the part of him that wants to open up and reach out to people and the part that thinks that, even if they did accept him, he would have nothing to offer. Even now, most of Marks friends were thanks to Donghyuk. Every time he had met someone new, he always brought them back to Mark. He introduced them as a packaged deal, making clear from the beginning that it was both or nothing. Mark appreciated this part of Donghyuk; it gave him a sense of pride knowing that this beautiful person who could have anyone in the world had chosen to have him, but a small piece of his brain would always whisper to him that he’s being selfish; that he’s holding Donghyuk back from making connections to people that could be better for him, more suited.

“Come on! It’s hot! Getcha clothes off!” Donghyuk suddenly ran over to Mark, yanking his shirt up over his head, ignoring Marks shrieks when he got caught in one of the sleeves.

 

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“Fuck, dude, be careful!” Jaemin screamed when Renjun accidentally smacked him on his sunburnt shoulder.

“I told you to watch out for those rays, man!”

The five boys had decided to stop by the convenience store on their way back from the pool to get some ice cream, Jeno, Jaemin and Renjun with their bikes, Donghyuk and Mark on foot.
It was a sort of tradition to have one last treat before they would part ways to go to their respective houses and neighborhoods.

Mark and Donghyuk made their way outside and sat down on the curb, opening up their little tubs so they could start their usual little ritual. Ever since they were little, Mark would get cookies and cream while Donghyuk got strawberry so they could mix the two.

“You guys are so weird.” The two looked up to see Renjun shaking his head while looking at their mushy concoctions in disgust.

“Silence. If ya haven’t tried it, you have no right to bash it.” Donghyuk threw back, waving his little plastic spoon in Renjun’s general direction. It wasn’t long before all of them were sitting on the curb with their respective treats.

They sat there in silence for a little while, Jeno softly rubbing the patch of Jaemins shoulder that Renjun had assaulted while the others quietly ate away at their ice creams. They had all known each other for so long that there was nothing more natural than just being in each others presence, they didn’t need to fill every second with conversation.

Renjun was the first one to decide to get up, saying he had a project he had to finish, Jaemin and Jeno following shortly after until it was only Mark and Donghyuk, both sitting together and watching the sky slowly darken with their empty cups in their hands.

“You wanna come over for a bit?” Mark suddenly asked, breaking the silence and looking over at Donghyuk who was facing the sky with his eyes closed. He turned his head to look at Mark through one eye, a cheeky grin on his face.

“What about your homework?”

Mark couldn't help but smile.

“Fuck the homework.”