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come on, baby (tell me your story)

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(zero)

Yukhei’s on the pitch with his teammates after a quick practice when one of the Chasers nudges him, whispers, “Hey, there’s this guy who keeps watching us play. You know him?”

Yukhei looks up to the stands, watches as the guy standing at the railing turns and pretends like he hasn’t been watching their entire practice. Of course Yukhei knows him. Everyone knows the boy who’d been introduced as Muggle-born Lee during the celebratory dinner a few weeks ago for the first class of Muggle-borns to be accepted to Durmstrang as exchange students. He’d clearly been mortified, but he’d stood his ground, face burning but his stance solid. Yukhei can respect that. He’s been a teeny-tiny bit interested in him ever since then, but his attempts at tracking the guy down to learn more about him have been moot.

“Nah,” Yukhei says, easy. As if he’s going to tell her that. “But I think I’d like to. He’s kinda cute.”

Yoojung snorts. “I’m thinking I should warn him away from you. Give him a few tips on how to do well at Durmstrang, like maybe ‘Yukhei Wong is a smarmy bastard.’ That sounds pretty good, actually? How about I go fly up there and let him know?”

“You and what, all two centimeters of you? Maybe if you’re lucky, he’ll actually see you before he hears you.” Okay, Yukhei supposes he probably deserves the slap on the back he gets from Yoojung at that, but. It’s just so hard not to, especially when she comes up to his chest, and when she Accios her broom over to bring it back to the locker room, he pats her on the head. He can’t resist.

“Fuck off, I’m telling Doyeon you’re being an asshole and she’ll beat your ass if I don’t get to you first,” Yoojung hisses. Doyeon’s still hovering in the air above them and batting some Bludgers around, so Yukhei knows it’s an empty threat, at least for that moment. Besides, Doyeon says the best part about Yukhei is his pretty face, and she’d never do anything to compromise their turnout at scrimmages. Hopefully. Maybe. “Sohye! Yeonjung! Let’s go!”

The other Chasers land, heckling each other about Sohye’s mid-air stumble during practice and Yeonjung’s earlier crash into their Seeker. Sohye runs up to them, nearly tripping over her own feet. She’s surprisingly agile in the air, but on the ground? That’s a different story. “Yoojung, did you finish the Arithmancy problem set that we got assigned last week? I’m confused about one of them, and it’s just not making sense.”

Yukhei tunes out their conversation as he walks back to their locker room, and sometime along the way, Woojin and their Keeper Jihoon come up behind him, Woojin with the Snitch grasped firmly in his hands and Jihoon with his broomstick floating by his side. Then, as they round the corner of the hallway that leads to their locker rooms, Yukhei sees him: Muggle-born Lee, leaning against the wall, and he looks up when he hears their approaching footsteps.

“Hey, Yukhei Wong, right?” When Yukhei nods, the guy continues, shifting his weight from one foot to his other. “I’m Mark Lee, can I talk to you for a bit?”

Yukhei follows Mark— his name is Mark! Not Muggle-born!— to a secluded alleyway, and when Mark turns to look up at him, Yukhei’s mind starts to race. He’s heard about things like this, about how in movies guys get asked out with a letter and a shyly confessed declaration of love. Is he living a romantic comedy right now? Is this going to be his springtime of youth? He doesn’t even have to worry about the potential language barrier; they’ve all been given translation charms to pin onto their lapels to help them out with the exchange students.

“You have very good form,” Mark says, and this is the weirdest confession of love Yukhei’s ever heard, but he’s rolling with it.

“Thanks. I’ve seen you watching me, is there something you want from me?” A date?

“I’d like to observe you during your matches, if that’s okay with you.” A date!

Yukhei grins down at Mark. He’s shorter than Yukhei’s expected and pretty to boot, wide eyes and slightly curled hair, and the way the Durmstrang robes fit just loosely enough on his frame is nothing but adorable. Yukhei likes people who can resist running away from embarrassing situations, mostly because he’s the one to cause said embarrassing situations, and being announced by your magical status in front of an entire school is nothing but embarrassing. “You’re cute enough, if you wanted a date, you could’ve just said so. And the answer is yes.”

“Oh, uh. I’m actually trying to become a Healer and do something with sports medicine. Um. That wasn’t. A date.” Mark blinks up at Yukhei, and realization slowly dawns on him.

Oh.

Time to save face, then.

“I mean. Let’s set a date. For when you can observe. My time is kind of valuable. Yes.” Yukhei pats himself on the back. Mentally, of course. He doesn’t want to look weird or anything.

“Sure,” Mark says, pulling out a small black journal from a pocket somewhere and jotting down a quick note before showing it to Yukhei. “Is next Monday’s practice alright with you? I have some classes on the other days.”

“Yeah, that’s fine with me. It’s a date,” Yukhei says, hoping that if he says the word enough, Mark’s going to react to it, and sure enough, he does, the tips of his ears pinking slightly. He says, again for added emphasis and to see how far he can push it, “It’s a date.”

 

 

(one)

Yukhei can feel Mark’s gaze on him the entire practice. They’ve just gathered with the reserve players and split up randomly into teams, but by the way some of the others are playing, they’re treating it like a real match. So, obviously, he shows off a little bit, soaring just a bit higher than he normally does, beating the Bludgers at the opposing team just a bit harder than he normally does, and he hopes that Mark notices.

“Quit it,” Yoojung says during a timeout, flying close to him. Yukhei notices, with no small amount of glee, that she has to hover so much higher in the air than he does for them to be at eye level. “Can you, for one second, stop thinking with your dick and with the brain in your head you supposedly have?”

“Ouch. I’m hurt, Yoojung, I carried you through Linguistics last term, where’s my love at,” Yukhei simpers, and Yoojung rolls her eyes.

“I carried you through Linguistics, your ass would’ve gotten a zero on the final without me. Seriously though, with the way you’ve been playing today, the others are going to absolutely fuck you up once the game starts again.”

“I’d like to see them try.”

Yoojung does a lazy figure eight in the air before darting off just as the signal calling for time in sounds out. “Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!”

Five minutes later, Yukhei’s sprawled out on the ground, his vision hazy and everything in his body but especially his head aching, and he stares up at the sky and the concerned faces of his teammates around him and wonders just what he’s done to deserve this kind of treatment.

“Dumbass, I told you to watch out for the Bludger, but Yoojung says you were too busy staring at the guy from last time to move,” Doyeon sighs, cocking her head to the side and leaning her weight against her hovering broomstick. She’s actually kind of pretty like this. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Oops, did he say that out loud?

“Yeah, you did. Come on, up.”

Yukhei probably blacks out for a bit, because the next time he opens his eyes, he’s staring up at the ceiling of the infirmary, a familiar sight by now. What isn’t a familiar sight is the boy sitting by his bed, nursing a lunchbox and flipping through a book. It’s Mark, and when Yukhei turns his head and opens his mouth to ask him what’s going on and why he’s here and why does he look so cute whenever he pushes his glasses up his nose, Mark speaks up first.

“You got a concussion when the stray Bludger knocked you off your broom and onto the ground. The Healer here says you should be fine as long as you rest up for a few days and don’t go on the pitch until you come back in for a check up. She also said that she was getting tired of waiting for you to wake up, so she put me on what she called Yukhei Watch. Now that you’re awake, I guess I can go study for Charms.”

Mark stands up and Yukhei’s hand shoots out to grab the hem of his robe, but when Mark turns and fixes Yukhei with an inquiring stare, all of Yukhei’s thoughts decide it’s a good time to take a vacation.

“What’s that in your hand?” Yukhei asks, lamely, after Mark stares at him for what feels like a decade.

“Oh, right. Thanks for reminding me.” Mark sits back down, and Yukhei retracts his hand, momentarily relieved. He takes the lid off of the lunchbox, revealing two sandwiches, and Yukhei’s suddenly very acutely aware that he hasn’t eaten since breakfast. “I made some food earlier since I figured you might be hungry after practice. Sorry, it’s just bread with egg, but the student kitchens hadn’t been stocked when I went this morning.”

“Why?”

“Because you said it was a date,” Mark says, matter-of-fact, and it’s almost as if he speaks before his brain processes the words on the tip of his tongue, because in the very next second, he’s picking up a slice of the sandwich and pressing it to Yukhei’s lips and resolutely looking away from Yukhei. Too late, though, Yukhei can see the flush creeping up his neck.

“Sorry,” Yukhei mumbles after he finishes the first slice of the sandwich. “This was the worst first date ever.”

“That’s okay,” Mark says absently, picking up another slice and holding it up to Yukhei’s mouth. “You can make it up to me next time.”

Yukhei’s heart soars. Next time, Mark says, and even though he’s pretty sure there’s a remnant of an eggshell in there somewhere, Yukhei eats the entire sandwich.

 

 

(two)

Yukhei has a great idea. Durmstrang’s surrounded on all sides by lakes and mountains, and students are allowed to venture anywhere they want to as long as they don’t go past the barrier that keeps the school Unplottable. There are rowboats available for students to bring out onto the lakes, and Yukhei signs one out for the day before he goes to accost Mark outside the exchange students’ rooms.

“Come with me,” Yukhei says, nearly bouncing with excitement, and he waits for Mark as he goes back to his room to grab his coat. He leads Mark outside the castle, and he takes the longest and most winding path down to the lake, the one that has the best views of the fjords in the distance.

“We’re kayaking?” Mark asks, dubiously staring at the rowboat, and he taps it lightly with his foot. It sways.

“No, what’s kayaking? We’re rowing a boat,” Yukhei says before kneeling down to pull the rowboat closer to shore. “Here, hop in.”

Yukhei gets them to the middle of the lake, and Mark looks around, putting his hands out to steady himself. Yukhei watches the way Mark turns this way and that, staring at the glint of the sun off of the snow caps and looking down below into the lake, before he looks at Yukhei again. “It’s really nice here, Yukhei. It reminds me a lot of home.”

“Home? Where’s home for you? The States?”

Mark shakes his head. “I’m from Vancouver. It’s in Canada. I guess if you travel a bit out of the city and drive to one of the national parks, you can see nature and stuff like this, but where I grew up in the city? No way. There are some dinky little parks, but nothing quite like this. What about you? Where are you from? Guess you already know my answer for this next question, but are both your parents— um. You know, magical?”

“Ah, I’m from Hong Kong. My dad’s a wizard, but my mom’s a Muggle. We grew up around magic, though, and my mom tried to make things like phones and computers work with my dad’s magic. Didn’t work,” Yukhei says, rueful. “Once, my dad tried to make macaroni and egg soup by enchanting the fridge to open on its own and then to send an egg flying into a boiling pot. It ended up exactly how you’re probably thinking it did. A mess, everywhere.”

Mark laughs at that, loud and infectious, and the sound of it alone makes a smile creep across Yukhei’s lips. When Mark looks back at him, the sun shines on his hair just right and makes it glow a golden brown, and Yukhei wants to kiss him.

He leans forward, but he moves too quickly and it feels like something’s tipping the boat from the bottom because he’s pitching forward way too fast and he’s lost his balance and the next thing he knows, he’s treading water, spluttering and gasping for breath. Yukhei looks around wildly for Mark, expecting to see him above water, but all he can see is a hand flailing around, and he swims for him as fast as he can. He gets his hands underneath Mark’s arms, and when he tries to pull him up, it feels like there’s some resistance, so he pulls harder until the tension’s released, and Mark collapses, chest heaving, into Yukhei’s arms.

Yukhei Accios the rowboat over, and once he’s gotten Mark into it, he clambers up into it as well. They sit there for a few minutes to catch their breath, and Mark is the first one to raise his wand and cast a quick Drying Spell on the two of them before he opens his mouth and says, “I think I was just nearly abducted by merpeople?”

Yukhei looks over the edge of the rowboat in shock, and sure enough, some merfolk are waving merrily up at them. He whirls back around, heart beating in triple-time now. He’s never even seen one before, and today of all days, when he’s trying to impress a boy he might like, is when they have to appear. “I’m so sorry,” Yukhei says, miserable and gloomy and his ears still filled with water.

“It’s okay, at least you fell in with me,” Mark says, too cheerful for the occasion. “But hey, chin up! We’ll get it next time.”

 

 

(three)

Yukhei doesn’t like to think about the third date. It involves an attempt to show Mark a secret passageway up to the Astronomy Tower, and it also involves a gross misinterpretation of the distances on the old map of the school he’d consulted earlier. There are things he’s seen that he wishes he could forget he’s ever had to look at with his own two eyes, and if he’s being completely honest with himself, he’s just lucky that Mark is even willing to give him the time of day after this.

“Sorry,” Yukhei whispers to Mark the next day when he passes him in the dining hall, and Mark only looks up at him, a blank look on his face and the tips of his hair lightly singed.

“Next time,” Mark says, quiet, and Yukhei gulps.

 

 

(four)

Yukhei waits until the next full moon to make his move. It’s an entire two weeks between the Incident and the full moon, so Yukhei spends his time practicing Quidditch and doing his absolute best not to fail Arithmancy and Wizarding War Tactics. It turns out Mark’s glasses aren’t just for show, so when Yukhei mentions that he’s dangerously close to having to repeat his final year, Mark herds him into the library and studies with him until Yukhei’s certain he can recite the timeline of the Second Wizarding War in his sleep.

One night, while they’re studying together, Mark teaches him a handy mnemonic for remembering the major battles of the Second Wizarding War in chronological order (DALGH, for the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, the Battle over Little Whinging, the Attack at Godric’s Hollow, and the Battle of Hogwarts), so Yukhei’s busy listing down the casualties and results of each battle and skirmish for the next hour or so.

Yukhei scribbles down “Result: Victory for the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army, yay! Voldemort dead, his own fault. Fenrir Greyback and Bellatrix Lestrange also dead. Lucius Malfoy: pardoned?” and looks over at Mark, intent on asking him to review his notes. His breath catches when he sees that Mark’s fallen asleep, his cheek smushed up against his Charms notes. Yukhei can already see the creases forming on his cheek, and he reaches over to shake Mark awake.

“I want to show you something,” Yukhei whispers, and it takes a few seconds for the fog in Mark’s eyes to clear before he nods and starts packing his books and papers into his bag. Yukhei does the same, mentally promising himself that he’ll study for real later tonight, and he leads Mark through Durmstrang’s winding and chilly hallways and out through the back entrance. There’s a trail there, one that winds through the mountains, and Yukhei stops in a clearing.

Mark looks around before turning to face Yukhei. There’s a lopsided grin on his face, one that clearly means he has no idea what’s going on and is only smiling to cover his nerves. “Uh, you’re not bringing me here to murder me right? Because if that’s it, that’s not really nice, and I never would’ve agreed to come out with you in the first place. What’s going on, Yukhei?”

Yukhei presses a finger to his lips, staring up at the mountains and the trees around them. Clearly, Mark has no idea what shut up means, because he keeps running his mouth. Under any other circumstance, Yukhei would find Mark’s inability to keep his mouth shut endearing, but not tonight, not when it could completely mess up what he has planned.

“— I’m cold, and I think I hear something rustling. What if we die? Oh my god, what if you led me here to be murdered by Dark wizards and my organs are going to be taken to be sold on the black market? Okay, I know I joke about wanting to die, like, every other day, but I don’t want to go out before I have the chance to have watermelon again, it’s been so long since I’ve had it. Wait, what the fuck is that?”

Yukhei’s gaze follows to where Mark’s pointing, and there they are, the reason he’d dragged Mark out here into the forest just a little bit after sunset. The Mooncalves step out of the shadows, their eyes reflecting the full moon above.

“I didn’t think they were real,” Mark breathes out, reaching out a tentative hand to touch one on the neck. They come up to about Yukhei’s waist, but when they walk up to Mark, their heads come up a bit higher for him, to around his stomach. Yukhei wordlessly pulls out a bag of treats he’d pilfered from the kitchens for tonight, and when he hands it to Mark, all of the Mooncalves cluster around him, braying and nudging at the bag with their heads. “Oh my god, they’re so cute. How’d you know they’d be here?”

“Used to come here sometimes in first year when I was lonely and missing home.” Yukhei shrugs.

It’s easy for him to talk about it now, but he’d been just eleven, a stranger in a new and foreign land, and it had taken him forever to find other students who looked like him, who ate the same things he did growing up, who could understand him even if he took off the translation charm. One of his upperclassmen, a half-blood like him named Kahei, took him here on a night when he’d been missing Hong Kong terribly, and she’d been the first one to pour a bag of treats out into his hand and tell him to feed them. He hasn’t had to come here in a while, but he’s thought that maybe it could help Mark out a bit, too.

Mark’s staring at him, an indecipherable expression on his face. “Yeah, I know what you mean,” he finally says, turning back to feed some treats to a smaller Mooncalf. “I mean, Vancouver isn’t as far from Ilvermorny as Hong Kong is from Durmstrang, but it’s just shitty when you want to see your family and your old friends and you can’t. I feel that.”

Mark pours about half of the treats into his own hands before giving it back to Yukhei, and as soon as he does, half of the Mooncalves saunter over to Yukhei and start nudging him. “Here, you too, Yukhei.”

They feed the Mooncalves until they’re out of treats, at which point the Mooncalves decide that it’s not worth hanging around them anymore and disappear back into their burrows. On the way back to the castle, Yukhei feels Mark’s hand slip into his, a silent gesture of comfort.

“Thanks for tonight,” Mark says when they’re at the exchange students’ dorms. He bites his lower lip, and Yukhei can see the gears in his head spinning, before he darts forward to give Yukhei a quick hug. Yukhei’s heart stops. “I’ll take care of it next time.”

 

 

(five)

Yukhei doesn’t like to think about how this— whatever this is, whatever it is that he and Mark have between them— has an expiration date. He’s accepted that he likes Mark as much more than just a friend and that Mark is leaving at the end of the fall semester, whether he likes it or not. It’s why, when Mark comes to find him one night, knocking on his room in the seventh years’ dormitory, Yukhei fears the worst.

“Can I talk to you? Outside?” Mark asks, and Yukhei nods, grabbing his robes and throwing them on over his sleep shirt and sweatpants. He takes another look at the way Mark’s dressed, like he’s going somewhere absurdly cold, and he takes his scarf and loops it around his neck, takes his fur cloak from its hanger and drapes it over an arm, before following Mark out of the castle. “Can you Apparate and Disapparate?”

“Uh, yeah?” They’d learned it just this year, but Yukhei isn’t really the best at it. He prefers safer, less splinchy forms of transportation, like brooms or flying cars or even his own two legs. “Why?”

Mark leans forward, takes Yukhei’s hand in his. He has a focused, intent look on his face. “Do you trust me?”

“Yes?” Yukhei’s not sure if he likes the sound of where this is going, so he tries to lighten the mood a bit. “I mean, I did almost get you abducted by merfolk and nearly burned off all your hair during that time we won’t mention, so I think you have a bit of leeway here.”

Mark’s still not laughing. He brushes his thumb over Yukhei’s knuckles, soft and gentle, and Yukhei feels like a prisoner heading to his execution. It’s maddening, not knowing what’s going on, and he wants Mark to just let him in already.

“Okay so I’ve never been here with another person before but I stared at a picture of it for a long long time trying to get it right and I’m so sorry if it doesn’t work but hopefully this is gonna be okay,” Mark gets out in one short breath, and Yukhei stares at him, struggling to make sense of what Mark’s just said, when Mark raises his wand and tightens his grip on Yukhei’s hand and then his vision goes dark and they’re being pulled in every direction imaginable before his vision clears and he sees the sky again and realizes they’re not in Durmstrang anymore.

They’re standing in a snowfield, and Yukhei can see snow-tipped mountains rising all around them. The stars above them are just pinpricks of white in the midnight darkness spread out across the sky, and Yukhei has never, ever seen anything quite like this. “Where are we?”

Mark’s response is hushed as he looks around, like he can’t believe what he’s seeing, either. “An island called Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. I looked it up and found a picture online so I could take you here. I tried it once on my own and it worked, so I knew I could get here. But I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to bring you along.”

“Why?”

Mark, Yukhei realizes suddenly, is shivering. Even though he’s from Vancouver, he’s clearly not as accustomed to the highest latitudes as Yukhei is after six and a half years at Durmstrang, so Yukhei unfolds his cloak, drapes it over Mark’s shoulders, and he watches as the trembling subsides. Mark then turns to face him, the fur cloak large on him, and Yukhei thinks this is it, this is where he’s going to thank me for a fun four dates, and we’ll go back together and once he leaves, all of this will just be memories.

“I like you a lot, Yukhei. I was only supposed to observe you as part of one of my Kinesiology courses back home, but somehow, along the way, I started liking you. Even though you nearly drowned me and set me on fire, those weren’t really your fault. You still took me to feed the Mooncalves, too. I—” And Mark runs a hand through his hair, tousling it. “This was really, really nice, Yukhei. And I think what I’m trying to say is that I don’t. Even though I’m going back soon, I don’t want this to end.”

Yukhei can’t breathe. This is so much more than what he’d expected, so much better, and the only thing he can say is, “Go out with me.”

Mark blinks, and a small frown, tinged with something sad, crosses his face. “I’m leaving, though. We can’t.”

“No, we can, it’s okay,” Yukhei says, his mind racing. “We can still talk, we can send each other letters or I can steal my mom’s phone and send you texts or we can talk to each other via Floo. This doesn’t have to end. And once we graduate, we’ll meet again. Come to London with me. I want to go there after I’m done, and some teams have reached out to scout me. The Cannons, the Bats, Puddlemere— listen, I can go to any of them, and you can— you can get a job there, too. Isn’t St. Mungo’s good?”

“Yeah,” Mark breathes out, a wide smile spreading across his face. “You’re right. What was I thinking? Where else would I find someone else crazy enough to stop paying attention during a Quidditch game to look at me? You’re so right. God, I can’t believe I almost gave you up. I’ll look at St. Mungo’s programs when we get back, I’ll start applying as soon as they open up positions, and you better make damn sure you find us a place. Will you wait for me?”

“Always,” Yukhei promises. “For you, always.”

Mark laughs, high and breathless, his exhales clouding in the frosty air, and Yukhei’s done for, overwhelmed by how much he feels for Mark, how much he’s willing to do, to give up, for him. Mark steps closer, curling his fingers into Yukhei’s scarf and pulls him down, and Yukhei can almost swear that the entire sky explodes with light when Mark kisses him, sweet and chaste, and when Mark pulls away, his eyes widening, Yukhei realizes that he wasn’t imagining things.

Light is streaming across the sky, the blues and greens and purples of the aurora borealis mixing with one another and dancing among the stars.

“This was what I wanted you to see,” Mark murmurs, astonishment and wonder evident in his voice and in his eyes. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Yes, Yukhei wants to say, but it can’t compare to what I have in front of me.

He kisses Mark instead, an answer and a confession and a promise all at once, and he feels Mark smile against his lips.

They’ll meet again in London. Next time.

 

 

 

(and one more, for the road)

Heathrow is loud and crowded. Normally, Yukhei would feel right at home in an environment like this, but today, he’s had to get up too early to be a properly functioning adult. It’s 8:45, and Yukhei doesn’t want to ever grow up if adult working life means that he has to get up at seven every day. He stares up at the board announcing the international arrivals, looks for the flight coming in from Logan at 8:30. Delayed, it reads, and Yukhei wants to bang his head against the nearest wall.

Yukhei checks the phone he’d gotten to keep in contact with his mom for the fiftieth time this minute. No unread messages, just an empty inbox.

Thirty minutes later, he’s still waiting, standing around the arrival area and playing some stupid puzzle games on his phone. These are one of the few things he misses about Muggle technology when he’s in the Wizarding world— there’s nothing better for wasting time than never-ending puzzle games. He’s cranky and he’s tired and he’s bored, and when someone bumps him and says, low and husky, “Hey, hot stuff,” Yukhei almost loses it, whirling around to confront them.

“Listen, I already have a—”

“Boyfriend?” Mark stares up at Yukhei before his face breaks out in a wide grin. His voice is back to its normal register, and Yukhei’s stunned, his feet very firmly planted on the ground, and it’s almost as if time has completely stopped for everyone but the two of them. “Hi, Yukhei. It’s been a while.”

Time starts to flow again, and Yukhei grabs Mark, picks him up, spins him around a few times for good measure. This doesn’t feel real— nothing in the past eight months he’s had to spend without Mark has— but Mark is solid and warm in his arms, and that’s all the proof Yukhei needs. Mark stumbles when Yukhei puts him back down again, but he finds his footing quickly enough to tug Yukhei down to him for a kiss.

“Missed you a lot,” Mark whispers against Yukhei’s lips before he pulls back. “Let’s get out of here, I’m hungry.”

Their flat is in a Muggle neighborhood, which means that Yukhei’s responsible for dragging Mark’s two suitcases behind him while Mark, his duffel bag and backpack still safe on his shoulders, takes a hundred touristy photos of the buildings around them every other minute.

“I’m sending these all to my mom,” Mark mutters once they get onto the Tube and Yukhei gets the chance to rest his arms. Yukhei looks over at the pictures Mark’s selected, and they’re all the same boring pictures of the same boring buildings.

“Do you not have any buildings in Vancouver?” Yukhei asks mildly. “Is this the first time you’ve experienced human civilization?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Mark mutters, and Yukhei has a vague feeling he’s going to be hearing that particular phrase often. He scoots closer to Yukhei, their thighs pressing against one another, and Yukhei puts a hand on Mark’s knee. “Come here, let’s take one.”

It’s a good picture. Mark sends it to his mom and deletes the ones of all the buildings.

They stop by a fish and chips place, one that’s just a block away from their flat, and Mark practically inhales the food, only stopping to drink some water every so often. Yukhei watches with no small amount of fascination, and when Mark finishes up, he dabs daintily at the corner of his mouth with a napkin.

“I’m sleepy now. Food coma and jet lag, I’m about to fall asleep right fucking here on the street,” he announces when they’re walking back to their place, and Yukhei rolls his eyes.

“At least wait until we get through the door,” Yukhei says, hefting Mark’s suitcases up the stairs, and Mark drags his feet, complaining the entire time. “Why are you complaining? What did you even put in here? Rocks? I thought you said you were only going to bring clothes and necessities.”

“Rocks are necessities,” Mark says, and when Yukhei fixes him with a disbelieving stare, Mark scoffs. “You believed me? Dumbass. Nah, I just brought back a little bit of soil. The rest is just some clothes and some books I’ll need for training. That’s it, I swear.”

Yukhei groans.

It feels like an eternity before they make it up to the third floor, as heavy as Mark’s suitcases are, and when Yukhei turns the key in the lock of Number 308 and pushes the door open, he can hear Mark’s breath hitch. It’s a small place with one bedroom and a living room just large enough for the couch Yukhei’s been sleeping on and the boxes of his own belongings he hasn’t unpacked yet. He’s been waiting for Mark to get here to start furniture shopping, but he’d needed somewhere to sleep on, and one of his new Puddlemere teammates had graciously offered him a couch.

(Yukhei’s used about forty different deep cleaning charms on it, and sometimes, he hits it with a new one just to be safe. He can never be sure what kinds of things people do on couches.)

Yukhei leaves Mark’s suitcases by his own boxes of stuff, and he collapses onto the couch, a hundred percent ready for a nap. He watches as Mark throws his duffel bag and backpack onto the ground, and he walks straight to the room where the plans said the bedroom would be. Mark comes back out, looking thoroughly disappointed. “Where the fuck’s the bed?”

“Don’t have one. Was waiting for you to come before buying one since you said you’re picky about the kinds of beds you like,” Yukhei yawns.

“Then where do I sleep?”

Yukhei stares at Mark before he opens his arms wide, plastering the most suggestive look he can on his face. “Sleep on me.”

To his immense surprise, Mark stumbles over to the couch and drops himself directly onto Yukhei, slotting his legs in between Yukhei’s and burying his face into Yukhei’s neck. Oh no. Yukhei’s probably bitten off more than he can chew, because the more Mark shifts around to try to find a more comfortable position to lay down in, the more Yukhei realizes that they might have a bigger problem than just the lack of a bed, and the more Yukhei prays to any forgiving deity that Mark is too sleepy to notice.

Yukhei’s probably sinned more than he can remember in the past few days, because Mark lifts himself up onto his elbows, staring down at Yukhei, and Yukhei gulps.

“Yukhei Wong, are you really this happy to see me?” Mark starts, and he grinds his hips experimentally down onto Yukhei’s, and Yukhei would really, really rather die, because his problem is only getting bigger and bigger. “Oh my god, seriously?”

“Shut up, go to sleep, I’ll deal with this myself,” Yukhei mutters, trying to roll away from under Mark, but Mark shifts so that he’s straddling Yukhei’s hips, his hands planted firmly on Yukhei’s chest. “Oh no, what are you doing. Mark Lee, what the fuck are you doing, go to sleep.”

“Stop talking, Yukhei, you’re sexier when you don’t open your mouth.” Mark says, and he rolls his hips back against Yukhei’s, and Yukhei bites back a moan. “Aw, I didn’t mean it like that. You can make noises if you want, it’s been a long time since we’ve done this anyway.”

Mark leans forward again, catching Yukhei’s lower lip and sucking on it, and he reaches down, presses the flat of his palm against the front of Yukhei’s jeans. “Oh, you’re really eager today.”

“Shut up,” Yukhei groans, his hips jerking, an action that very nearly sends Mark toppling off of him and onto the ground. Mark holds on, his thighs tightening around Yukhei’s hips, his hands coming forward to cup Yukhei’s face as he kisses him harder, deeper, and that, combined with the added friction of Mark’s hips rutting against his, is enough to make him shudder, his hips stuttering to a halt. “I— Mark—”

“Oh my god, Yukhei, you just came in your pants,” Mark says, pulling away and staring down at Yukhei, his eyes wide and bright with excitement. “You just came in your pants.”

Yukhei really does shove Mark off of him and onto the ground, walking shamefully to the bathroom to slide out of his jeans and boxers and toss them into the same hamper he’s tossed all of his soiled underwear that were byproducts of thinking too much about Mark these past few days. He comes back with a fresh set of boxers on, and Mark is still on the ground, staring up at Yukhei with sheer and unadulterated glee when he comes closer.

“You really came in your pants,” Mark whispers even as Yukhei pulls him onto his chest, even as he curls his fingers into Yukhei’s Puddlemere hoodie, and when Yukhei reaches upwards to card his fingers through Mark’s hair, that’s when Yukhei can feel the jet lag start to take over. He looks at Yukhei with drowsy, half-lidded eyes, and Yukhei can’t help the way his heart does a backflip at that. Mark presses a kiss onto Yukhei’s jaw, mumbles, “Can’t believe you came in your pants, Yukhei, mm, I love you.”

“Shut up already, I love you too,” Yukhei murmurs, still running his fingers through Mark’s hair, and he drops a kiss onto Mark’s forehead.

Mark’s finally here, finally home, and now, they don’t have to make dates to see each other, to be with each other. It’s not just next time? next time? for them anymore— it’s any time.