Mark lies on the couch with his little boy, Jisung, tucked under his chin in the late afternoon sun while the TV plays. It’s on mute, some kids show that Mark decides in less than in a minute does not hold a candle to any of the programs he and Haechan used to watch, but it had seemed to amuse Jisung before he’d fallen asleep.
His hand cards gently through Jisung’s hair. Honestly, his arm is cramping and his ass went numb about ten minutes ago, but his son is sleeping against his chest, soft warm weight keeping Mark afloat on happiness, and he can’t find it in himself to care. Mark shifts the tiniest bit, trying to find the remote control - last time he saw, it was under his leg - careful not to disturb Jisung. The little boy shuffles, head burrowing further into Mark’s shoulder, and his heart swells.
Lying here, just the two of them, Jisung’s snuffled snores are the only sound in the room. It’s so nice. Peaceful.
So obviously someone chooses that moment to knock on the door, loud enough that it bursts their little bubble of domestic tranquility. Mark sighs and gathers Jisung in his arms, then stands and deposits the little boy on the couch. He takes a step forward and finds the remote control - right under his foot, that’s great.
Hobbling a little and swearing under his breath, he opens the door.
Mark could have imagined a thousand things that might greet him on the other side of the threshold, but a man like the one in front of him was not one of them. Wearing a royal blue tunic and light wash skinny jeans, the man is looking at Mark with a hopeful expression on his face. He lifts his hand to wave, and Mark is so distracted by the sparkly polish on the man’s fingernails and the various rings he wears, and that eyesmiles- he forgets he’s probably supposed to wave back.
“Hi, new neighbour,” the man greets, smiling. “I realise that this is a bit of a long shot, but I just wondered if you’d seen my cat?”
Mark’s brain stopped. God, the man’s voice is so melodious, even wrapped around such a mundane sentence.
“Um,” he manages, blinking a few times to clear his head. “Your cat?”
“Yeah,” the man says. “Big ball of fluff - about this big.” His hands rise, settling a few centimetres apart from each other.
Mark shakes his head. “Uh, no, sorry.” The man’s face falls, and Mark’s heart stutters. “I’ll keep an eye out, though. Does it have a name tag or anything?”
“Glittery collar and he's fat,” says the man. “His name is Bongshik.” Mark’s eyebrow raises, biting his bottom lip holding back a laugh and the man’s smile comes back. Cute, Mark thought silently.
“Okay,” accepts Mark. He's dealt with weirder things than a punny name. “I - well. Um. Where do you live?” He hopes it’s not a rude question to ask. The second floor of the costly apartment has been home for about a year now, but he’s not once seen the guy before. He’s not that great with names, but he would have remembered a man like the one talking to him.
“The floor above you,” the man tells him. “I only moved in a few days ago. I think Bongshik is having trouble adjusting.”
Mark doesn’t know much about cats, but that seems like a sensible conclusion, so he nods. “Sure. Um. Well, I’ll let you know if I come across your (fat) Bongshik.”
The man smiles brightly. “Great,” he says emphatically. “Thank you…” he trails off, those eyesmiles appearing once again and Mark trying very hard to keep a straight face.
“Mark Lee,” he supplies coolly.
“Thank you, Mark. It was lovely to meet you.”
Mark feels himself smiling at the man and he nods. “Yeah, you too. I hope you find your cat.”
The man gives Mark one last look and then turns. Mark watches as he walks down the stairs, presumably to the ground floor apartment to ask them to keep an eye out for the cat too. He closes the door and leans his head back against it.
Jisung sleeps soundly on. Mark’s heart is racing.
Two days later, Jisung toddles into the kitchen with a piece of paper clutched in his chubby fist and he waves it at Mark.
“Daddy, letter,” he says, accidentally splodging it into the maple syrup on the edge of his plate.
“Thanks, buddy,” says Mark, taking the sheet from his son and glancing over it.
Bongshik has returned home safely, so don’t go troubling yourself to look for him any longer. He appears to have enjoyed himself immensely, that fat cat. Anyway, thank you again for your help.
Jeno Lee (third floor)
“Jeno, huh…” he mumbles. Mark can’t stop his smile as he reads. The man - his hot neighbour Jeno - seems overly grateful considering the sum total of Mark’s efforts to help find the cat consisted of answering the door to its owner, but the note was still very thoughtful. He sticks it up on the fridge with one of Jisung’s magnets before deciding that’s a little creepy, and drops it on the kitchen counter to be dealt with later.
Mark doesn’t see anyone around the apartment for another week or so, but that’s hardly unusual. The couple in the apartment below him both took early retirement, and Mark’s fairly sure only parents and city commuters are up and about at the godawful time he calls morning. The couple are sometimes around when he gets back from work in the evenings, more so in the summer months, but oftentimes he'll go days without seeing his neighbours. The third floor flat has been empty for a while, so it's sometimes strange to hear footsteps coming from above. Somewhat disappointingly, Jeno has yet to make another appearance, though Mark is fairly sure he's caught a glimpse of the infamous Bongshik on their balcony once or twice.
It's Thursday afternoon when he finds someone at home to talk to, blinking back at him with a wide smile. Yukhei's sitting in the foyer, and Mark manages to smile at the tall guy even though Mark's trying to wrestle a protesting Jisung through the door on their way home from nursery.
“Hey, Mark,” says Yukhei, rising from his seat and crouching down in front of his nephew. “Hey, handsome boy.” The little boy immediately stops trying to pull his hand away from his father’s and throws his arms around his uncle, fingers stroking gingerly at the brownish hair that have escaped from his cap.
"Lucas-hyung!" Yukhei stands up, still holding Jisung, and looks at Mark. He nods up the stairs, gesturing for Yukhei to follow him.
“What’re you doing here?” Mark asks his little brother-in-law, fondly. Once he would have been hostile towards Yukhei for any and all impositions he made on his life, but over the years he’s got to know his brother’s boyfriend, and now Yukhei’s almost like a little brother to him. Actually, Haechan is lucky to have Yukhei in his life - Mark thinks wistfully.
“Visiting a friend, but he's not back yet,” Yukhei says, adjusting Jisung to his other hip. “He’s just moved in, so I wanted to check he got settled okay.”
“Uh, is that - Jeno?” Mark asks tentatively, and Yukhei’s face lights up.
“You guys met already?” he asks. They’ve reached Mark and Jisung’s front door and he puts Jisung down.
“Upstairs neighbour, yeah,” Mark says, rubbing the back of his neck. He opens the door for them, then bends down and helps Jisung out of his coat and shoes. “He lost his cat.”
Yukhei laughs, probably getting a flashback or something - Mark stares at him curiously. Jisung takes Yukhei’s hand and pulls him over to the kitchen table, and Mark finds them their notepads and crayons.
“Bongshik’s always going missing, but he always comes home. Jeno’ll probably be throwing a party to celebrate.” He wiggles her eyebrows at Jisung, who giggles, and Mark frowns.
“Does he have a lot of parties?”
Yukhei looks up, features schooled in reassurance. “Oh, no. Well, kind of. But he’s cool, he really is, and if he ever disturbs you or Jisung then you can just ask him to tone it down. It won’t be an issue,” Yukhei grins, “Swear he's nice.”
“If you say so,” is all Mark says, wondering if an anonymous phone call would be less embarrassing than having to knock on a very attractive man's door and ask him to quit partying. “Hopefully it won’t be a problem.”
Thankfully, Jisung is one of the heaviest sleepers Mark’s ever known. He’d dropped off before the music from Jeno’ apartment had started and is still snoring soundly in his cot. While Mark is loathe to go and be the killjoy neighbour that ruins Jeno's fun, he's been trying to sleep for the past hour and is just about sick of the noise.
He's going to have to say something. Hopefully his hot neighbour won't hate him forever.
Mark throws back the covers and pulls a t-shirt on, then pads out into the hallway of his apartment. He really doesn’t want to leave Jisung alone, but what can you do as a single parent? He settles for taking one half of the baby monitor with him, so at least he can hear if his baby wakes while he’s gone. He shoves his keys into the pocket of his sweatpants (he’s not risking getting locked out of his apartment while his son’s inside, alone) and leaves the apartment quietly. Mark jogs up the stairs and god , the music is even louder up here. Which shouldn’t really be a surprise, but it is, and Mark’s tired.
Mark knocks on Jeno’s door to no answer, so after a couple of minutes he knocks again. This time it's yanked it open. A boy stands there, with dark brown eyes and an angelic-looking face, and he’s scowling before he’s even finished appraising Mark.
“Jen,” he says over his shoulder, “it’s for you.”
Jeno appears behind the boy, looking more glamorous than the last - only - time Mark had seen him. His hair is now silver - Mark gasps internally- and dark makeup lines his eyes. Mark is too tired to pretend his breath doesn’t hitch momentarily, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less annoyed.
“Mark!” cries Jeno. He opens his arms, brushing past the angelic boy, who disappears into the apartment without a backwards glance. “Don’t mind Renjun, he’s always cranky. What brings you here?”
Mark takes a long breath and hopes whatever falls out of his mouth won't irreparably damage his short relationship with Jeno.
“No offence, but your music is making me crazy.” He winces. Not his finest moment. It’s too late to take it back, but to his relief, Jeno just grins and Mark went breathless seeing the eyesmiles appeared on that gorgeous face.
“Some taken,” Jeno says playfully.
“Sorry - um, I didn't mean to be rude." He lifts his gaze to the top of the doorframe looking everywhere but his hot neighbour, because even through heavy eyelids, Jeno’s collarbones are distractingly delicious. "I just wanted to ask if you could you turn it down? Please?” he asks, miraculously managing not to trip over his words.
Jeno looks over him for a moment, then nods. “Of course. My apologies, I didn’t realise it was disturbing you. Perhaps I could get your number, and then next time - though of course, there won’t be a next time, because I will endeavour to be a far more considerate neighbour - you won’t have to come all the way up here.”
Mark blinks, sleepily trying to follow Jeno’s rambling. “Okay.” Jeno’s cell appears from nowhere and he hands it to Mark. “Thanks. In advance.”
Jeno smiles. “No problem.”
yukheikong [1503 PM]
omg mork don’t hate me
morklee [1504 PM]
wat did u do lee yukhei???
yukheikong [1504 PM]
I may have accidentally invited Jeno over to your apartment lol
morklee [1504 PM]
how do u accidentally invite someone to an apartment that isn't urs???!
yukheikong [1506 PM]
i juz said that i was babysitting for someone in the block and he was like i didn’t realise anyone had kids in here and i was like oh yeah mark does and he was like aw that’s cute
morklee [1507 PM]
still doesn’t explain why hes in my apartment???
yukheikong [1509 PM]
we were supposed to be meeting up after u got home cause i was like - well i’ll be over near yours anyway and he came lol?
morklee [1510 PM]
youre the literal worst
yukheikong [1510 PM]
luv u too, bro
yukheikong [1522 PM]
this might not make things better but jisung really likes him
“Oh my god.” Mark chokes.
Mark takes a moment to remember how to breathe before he twists his key in the lock. It's fine, everything is fine. Jisung and Yukhei are on the other side, and he can deal with that.
He pushes the door open, catches the line of Jeno's throat, head tilted back as he laughs melodically, and Mark's insides turn to jelly. He can't deal with this.
"Daddy!" Jisung bullets himself towards Mark, who wraps him up in a hug.
"Hey, little guy," he says, then leans back and checks his son. "Let me guess -" he swipes his thumb gently across Jisung's cheek "- you've been painting?"
Jisung nods solemnly at his father. "I drawed a picture."
Mark smiles at him. "Can I see?"
Jisung squirms a little, signalling he wants to be put down, and Mark lowers him to the floor. Jisung wanders into the kitchen, where Yukhei and Jeno are sitting, and pulls a sheet off the table. Mark realises he can't put off greeting the two adults any longer, but still he lingers as he slips out of his jacket.
Making his way to the table, Mark avoids Jeno's eyes and looks around.
God, the apartment is a mess.
"Hey," Mark says, to no-one in particular.
Yukhei has the decency to look at least a little guilty when Mark catches his gaze. "Hey," he says, too bright. "How was work?"
Mark half-nods, ruffling Jisung's hair. "Okay. Has he been alright?"
"Fine," Yukhei smiles. "You're an angel, aren't you, Sungie?"
Jisung just blinks at him, streaks of colour painting his skin (and, Mark notices with a groan, his white t-shirt).
"He's delightful, Mark," Jeno comments, and Mark can't ignore him any longer, not now he's spoken to him directly. Not that he wants to ignore Jeno, exactly, but this definitely wasn't how he'd planned their next meeting going. And - OKAY. Jisung is Mark's world, but maybe he'd hoped to get to know Jeno a little more before dropping the single parent bomb on their relationship. "You should be proud."
Mark smiles at Jeno, then down at his son. "Yeah, he's a good kid."
Yukhei glances between the two of them and cocks an eyebrow at Mark, who stares back at him. If Jeno notices the exchange, he doesn't comment on it. Jisung tugs on Jeno’s arm and whispers something to him, and Jeno begins mixing a colour in the palette for him. Yukhei jerks his head pointedly at Jeno, eyes on Mark, and splutters a laugh when Mark rolls his eyes at him. Yukhei smiles and excuses himself to go to the bathroom, and Mark is starting to regret rushing back home early.
Mark sighs, then takes Yukhei's recently vacated seat. He's trying to think of something interesting to say to the silver-haired guy when the other speaks.
"I wanted to apologise again," Jeno says softly, watching Jisung, who's painting happily with his new colour and singing to himself, "for the other night. I didn't think to ask before I invited people over - I should have been more considerate. Especially now I know about Jisung."
"It's fine," Mark says automatically, then breathes out. "It's fine, honestly. It wasn't even - he'd sleep through a hurricane. I was the one who couldn't sleep."
Jeno looks at him then, a little sheepish. How can a man looking so hot and cute at the same time- Mark holds up a hand, "If you're going to apologise again, I'll poke you in the eye with the paint brush." he warns jokingly, prominent cheekbones appeared.
Jeno cracks a smile, and looks at Mark for a moment, gazes unreadable. Mark feels his face heat up under the scrutiny. Jeno opens his mouth, about to say something, when Yukhei reappears, and he clearly changes his mind. Mark definitely isn't disappointed.
It becomes a regular thing, after that.
Yukhei's round at Mark's every other Friday afternoon to take care of Jisung anyway, and now when Mark gets back from work he often opens the door to both Jeno and Yukhei. Ostensibly it's so Jeno doesn't have to fork out for coffee and cakes when he and Yukhei get together, instead munching their way through Mark's cupboards, but even the most dedicated liar would probably have given that up after being thrown up on by a sick child.
A few times Jeno stays late into the evening, after Yukhei's gone, after Jisung is in bed, and he and Mark share a bottle of wine and talk about nothing. The simplicity of it makes Mark want to die from happiness. Jeno leaves his jacket behind once, so Mark texts him to let him know, and after that they seem to message almost every day. Jisung has even started checking Mark's phone when it ping! to see if another picture of fat Bongshik has come through, and sometimes the texts are flirty enough that Mark is infinitely grateful Jisung can't read yet.
One day Mark gets home to find Jisung being read to by Jeno while curled into his side in the comfort of a blanket fort, and Mark's heart almost bursts out of his chest. He shuts the door as quietly as he can, trying not to disturb the pair, but Jeno looks up at the sound anyway.
He smiles when he catches sight of Mark.
"Look, Daddy's home," he tells Jisung, and the little boy waves at Mark but doesn't move from Jeno’s side. If anything, he burrows in further. Mark feels like he should be offended, but he really, really isn't. Not when the view in front of him is so adorable. "Yukhei's making dinner," Jeno explains. "He hasn't left me alone with Jisung."
Mark nods, smiling. “Thanks anyway." He wanders to his bedroom to get changed out of his work clothes and returns a few minutes later, settling on the floor opposite Jisung and Jeno.
"Have you had a good day?" he asks Jisung and the little boy nods.
"Jeno-hyung bringed cookies," he tells Mark excitedly, and Jeno gasps, mock-scandalised.
"That was supposed to be a secret!" he stage-whispers, and Jisung giggles. Mark felt his heart flutters over the strangely domestic view in front of him. This isn't good for my heart really, and looking away.
But all thoughts fled as soon as Jisung looks at his father. "Read please?" Mark nods and gestures for Jisung to come and sit on his lap, but Jisung shakes his head resolutely.
"Here," says Jisung, pointing to the blanket fort. Mark eyes the space. The cushions comfortably seat one grown man and one almost-three-year-old, but trying to squeeze Jeno and Mark in there will be a bit of a tight fit. Jeno budges up and tilts his head towards the new space. Mark wonders if he's imagining the mischief in Jeno's eyes. He sighs and crawls into the fort.
"Okay?" he asks Jisung, who smiles blindingly at him and tucks his feet under Mark's leg. Mark puts his arm around Jisung to hold the book, and in doing so the back of his hand touches Jeno's. Their eyes meet, and he knows he's blushing, but Jeno just smiles at him. There's warmth in his gaze and Mark can't stop his eyes from dipping down to Jeno's lips. Jeno's head is tilting just the tiniest bit, and they're too close under the blankets but somehow not close enough, and Mark trying hard not to lean closer but maybe he shoul-
"Daddy!" Jisung says, patting Mark on the arm. "Read me?"
Mark jerks back, face hot. He clears his throat, pulse racing like a freight train clearly avoiding Jeno’s heavy stares on him, "Yeah, sorry, buddy. Right. Here we go."
If he hears Jeno chuckles beside him, Mark pretends nothing.
“Hey, neighbour,” Jeno says when Mark opens the door.
It’s too damn early for such a bright smile.
Mark’s still half-asleep, and by some stroke of luck Jisung hasn’t woken up yet, so he’s incredibly annoyed at being woken up so early. Especially since the little boy has been having nightmares recently, so they’re both getting broken sleep most nights.
“Jeno, it’s half six in the morning,” he grumbles, rubbing a hand over his face. Jeno doesn’t respond for a moment, so Mark pulls his hand away, and sees Jeno’s eyes flitting back quickly to Mark’s face -
Mark just realise that he's not wearing a shirt. He suddenly feels a lot more awake, and with that comes self-consciousness, so he tries to shuffle somewhat behind the door.
“Sorry, darling,” says Jeno playfully, and Mark's stomach swoops pleasantly at the name. “I know it’s early, but I was just coming to say goodbye.”
Mark has to swallow a couple of times before he can speak, trying not to sound too devastated. “You’re leaving?”
Jeno nods. “Just for a week. The renovation, remember?" Mark wonders if he should be worried about how relieved he is. "Normally I love a dirty lair, but at the moment?” Jeno jerks his head upwards. “That one’s just sloppy.”
Mark tries to ignore the innuendo, but he doesn’t know what to say. For all the times Jeno has been to his, he’s never actually set foot inside Jeno’s apartment - never seen it, beyond a cursory glance that time he had to go and ask for the music to be turned down. He feels like it would be rude to agree with Jeno and inadvertently insult the apartment, but he doesn't want to disagree either.
“Um,” is what he settles on, and then briefly considers whacking his head against the door. He scrabbles for actual eloquence - or even words, at this point. “Where are you going to stay?”
Jeno fiddles with one of his rings absentmindedly. “I’ve made a reservation at a hotel,” he says. At Mark’s frown, he smiles. “None of my friends would have me. To be fair, there would probably be at least one murder if Renjun, Jaemin and myself had to live under one roof for an extended period of time. Chenle’s only got a one bedroom apartment, so I don’t want to burden him.”
Mark knows none of those except Renjun so he doesn't know what to say. He likes to think he’s a sensible, rational person who does sensible, rational things, and later when he tells Haechan about his offer he’ll blame it on bone-deep exhaustion, but now all he can say is,
“Stay with me.”
Jeno’s eyes go wide and he seems to shake himself. Mark swallows. “I mean," he continues, "because - um, then you won’t have to move your stuff very far. You’ll be close to the work that's going on, and um ...yeah.”
Jeno appraises Mark for a moment, and Mark abruptly remembers his shirtlessness, but he can’t find it in himself to be embarrassed about that when there are far more pressing things to be embarrassed about, like the fact that he just asked Jeno to stay with him though everything makes him feels so hot all of a sudden.
“I suppose that does make sense,” Jeno says, still fiddling with his ring.
Mark nods, then the words catch up with him. “What?” Neither of them mention that Mark’s reasoning is flimsy at best.
Jeno glances down. “I don’t want to be any trouble. But that is a very kind offer.” He seems to be waiting for Mark to respond, but all that Mark can do is stare incredulously at Jeno. “If you’re having second thoughts, that’s fine. I mean, I’ve already got the hotel room, and -”
“No,” Mark interrupts. “I mean, I'm not having second thoughts. It’s fine. You can stay .”
Jeno smiles, and Mark thinks it might not have been such a bad decision to offer after all.
It's a terrible decision.
Mark stands with his head resting against the bathroom door, mentally preparing to go into his bedroom. Where Jeno is in bed.
Jeno is in his bed .
Even though Jeno had told him outright that his friend, Chenle, wasn't an option because he didn't have a spare room in his apartment, the thought did not cross Mark's mind. In their apartment, Jisung has one room (and Mark'll be damned if he gets Jisung out of his routine of sleeping in his own bed) and Mark's, only leaving the couch for Jeno to sleep on. And that - that's not an option.
“Last night I can't sleep at all because he was so close like I-”
"And you didn't lean closer?" Haechan had said teasingly when Mark called him in a panic.
"Shut up," he'd told his little brother half-heartedly.
“Just enjoy it, bro!” Mark flustered hearing Yukhei yelled from the other end, probably stealing the phone away from his husband and Haechan grunting in irritation. More childish fight and a moan from Haechan and Mark finally hang up the call, clearly disgusted and pushing away any dirty thoughts from his mind.
All he has to do is go into his room and act like a perfectly unaffected human being, and everything will be fine. Taking a deep breath, Mark opens the bathroom door. He crosses the hallway to his room; the door is open a couple of inches and he can see Jeno standing at the mirror fixing his silver hair. It feels wrong to intrude, so Mark waits a moment or two before knocking.
"Come in," Jeno says immediately. When he turns Mark sees he's wearing a pair of loose sweatpants and a tank top reading bi, fly and ready to try that shows off his well-defined arms. This man is going to kill him. "Mark, it's your room. You don't have to knock." Jeno smiles softly.
Mark glances away. "I- yeah. You might have wanted privacy."
"Well, thank you, darling," Jeno says, and Mark swallows hard. It feels so intimate , Jeno makes himself at home and the terms of endearment, them sharing a bed, and it's only the second night of this. He's screwed.
Mark gets into bed for something to do, and Jeno turns off the light and settles beside him. He feels warmth radiating off Jeno and this close he can smell his shampoo. He might not actually last the night because maybe, his heart beats are louder than anything. Honestly, he doesn't know how he made it through the last one.
Jeno's arm brushes his and Mark tenses.
"Sorry," Jeno whispers, and Mark makes a small noise in the dark. "Goodnight, Mark. " voice dangerously low in sleepiness making Mark stilled.
Mark is going to die.
Cold jerks Mark's open, and he bolts upright, searching for what had disturbed him. His hammering heart slows only when he sees it’s just Jeno; he’d obviously pulled back the covers as he got out of bed and the chill had hit Mark’s skin on doing so.
“Jisung,” Jeno slurs, voice still heavy with sleep. “I’ll go.”
Mark twists his head on hearing his son’s name, and sure enough, he can hear muffled crying coming from the room next door.
“Jeno, I -”
Jeno meanders across the bedroom on his way to the door. The early morning sunrays filtering through the blinds paint his face, a canvas of shadows and planes of light. His cheekbones are highlighted; his usually dark brown eyes glow more gold. To Mark's sleepy eyes, he's never looked more beautiful.
“It's alright. Sleep,” is all Jeno says before he’s gone, and Mark shifts guiltily back under the covers. He sighs into the pillow and cocoons himself with blankets, listening out for when Jeno’s soft footsteps return.
Mark waits. The only thing he can hear is the murmur of Jeno’s voice through the wall, not clear enough to make out words. The realisation filters through to Mark that Jeno isn’t talking, he’s humming. Jisung’s cries have quieted now, and soon there’s silence. Eventually Jeno comes back into the bedroom.
“Thanks,” mumbles Mark, not moving from where he’s buried under the duvet.
“I said sleep,” Jeno chides gently, voice low. He slips into bed beside Mark, and Mark turns his face towards Jeno. Their eyes meet in the half-light and Mark’s fingers finds Jeno’s under the covers. He’s not sure if that’s okay, but after a moment Jeno squeezes his hand, and Mark drifts back to sleep with a smile.
He wakes again a few hours later, blinking sleepily into the muted colours of another bland work day. He shuffles, rearranging the covers on top of himself, and something jumps on him. Mark darts backwards and cracks his head on the headboard, then lets out a pained groan and curses.
“Mark?” Jeno mumbles beside him. Mark rubs at his head with one hand and swats away the monster that had attacked him with the other. Fat Bongshik just knocks his head against Mark’s palm and treads up the covers until he’s sitting on Mark’s chest, then curls up.
“It’s your fat cat,” Mark says, already petting Bongshik. “I should've realised the two of you were moving in.”
Jeno’s eyes stay closed but a small smile settles on his face, and Mark is so grateful he gets to see this side of Jeno, peaceful and soft. Jeno’s hand reaches out and taps along the mattress until it hits Mark’s arm, fingers trailing on skin and lower-
“That’s not Bongshik,” Mark says lowly after a moment, and Jeno opens one eye.
“ Oh, my mistake,” he says and his hand moves further over Mark’s body to actually stroke the cat. Jeno’s lips are twitching and Mark can’t help but scoff.
“Such a tease,” he says playfully.
“Only if you want me to be,” comes Jeno's reply, and Mark suddenly feels warm all over. He clears his throat and reaches for his phone on the bedside table, checking the time. He can have five more minutes.
“You don’t have to get up to Jisung in the night, you know,” he says quietly.
Jeno appears to be properly awake now and he stretches. “Did I overstep?” he asks, a little cautious, and Mark’s eyes widen.
“No, no! I -” Mark bites his lip, looks down at the cat cuddled on his chest. “It was nice, actually. I’m grateful. I just don’t want you to feel obliged - you don’t have to do it because you’re staying here.”
Jeno arranges the pillows and when he’s satisfied, slumps back on them, scratching Bongshik’s head.
“I don’t feel obliged. Jisung was upset and I wanted to comfort him. That’s all.” He looks at Mark. “Plus I thought you could probably use a break.”
Mark huffs a laugh. “I don’t mind. It’s my job, you know? Not my job - it’s - I mean, it’s what I do. Look after Jisung.”
“And who's gonna look after you?”
If anyone else had asked it would have been a cliché, but there’s nothing but sincerity when Mark’s meets Jeno’s eyes.
“I’m fine,” he says honestly.
Jeno’s smile returns. “Yes, you are,” he says, glancing appreciatively at Mark’s torso, exposed by the covers. The heavy moment from before is gone. Mark rolls his eyes but smiles all the same, feeling a little pleased with himself.
“I should get Jisung ready,” he says, swinging his legs out of bed, and Jeno fixes him with a look.
“If you need any help getting dressed, darling, just let me know.” he smirks.
Mark throws a pillow at him.
By their fifth night, they’ve settled into quite a routine.
Jeno works from home most days, so he gives Jisung his tea, and then Mark gets home and reads to his son before bedtime. Jisung appears to be enjoying the extra attention immensely, and refuses to settle down for sleep without a kiss from his father and a lullaby from Jeno.
Mark pulls Jisung’s bedroom door to once he’s said goodnight. He undoes his top button and loosens his tie on his way to the kitchen. Jeno is there, making dinner - Mark had refused to take any money from Jeno for the duration of his stay, so the younger had insisted on cooking every night. He leans around Jeno to pluck the bottle opener from the counter, and his hand only brushes the small of Jeno’s back for a moment but Mark feels a rush anyway.
These small, innocent touches have been happening more and more as the week has progressed, and Mark can’t say he minds at all.
“How was work?” Jeno asks as he plates up the food.
Mark shrugs, then realises Jeno can’t see him. “Fine, I guess. Stressful. I'm very happy it’s the weekend.” He rolls his sleeves up to the elbow and catches Jeno eyeing his arms when the dishes are set down on the table. Something fizzes pleasantly in his tummy.
Jeno regales him with one of his travel tales while they eat. His fingers dance in the air as he talks, and Mark can’t tear his eyes away, suddenly realising that it's the weekend, Jeno has been here for five days, and he's going to be leaving soon. This - whatever this is - will stop and everything will go back to normal. Mark’s still blinking at Jeno when the man stops talking and looks at him.
Mark startles, guilty, but Jeno is smiling tenderly.
“Sorry,” Mark says.
“Something on your mind?” Jeno enquiries, taking a sip of wine. Mark glances down at his plate. Fiddling with his fork, knowing his face is red, he says,
“I’m gonna miss this.”
Jeno is gazing fondly at him when Mark finally meets his eye. He reaches across the table to take Mark’s hand.
“I'm gonna miss this.” Jeno says softly. Mark clutches Jeno’s hand - doesn't care if his face flushes because this moment not going to happen easily and Mark wanted to look into those addictive eyes staring attentively back at him.
“Jisung is gonna miss you,” he adds, though he doesn’t know why. It’s true - Jisung will miss Jeno being around, but he’s three years old, and in a few weeks that time Jeno stayed around will probably be forgotten.
It just... it just feels so nice. So right. The three of them.
Mark’s not quite sure when his thoughts started veering off that way, but he’s allowed to entertain perfect domestic fantasies in the safety of his own head, right?
Jeno’s thumb strokes a burning line down Mark’s hand. “I'll only be just upstairs,” he reminds Mark. “You’re welcome any time.”
Mark smiles at Jeno. “Yeah. Yeah, I- okay.”
He’s not sure what he’s agreeing to - not sure that there’s even anything being offered that he can agree to, but Jeno doesn’t seem to mind. They finish eating in silence, the atmosphere a little more strained than it was before. Mark wants to say something, anything, because the desperation is visible.
Jeno gets up to clear the plates, but Mark stops him.
“Jeno, I -”
Jeno glances up at him. They’re both on the same side of the table, barely a step between them, and Mark closes the gap. His fingers brush Jeno’s forearm. Jeno looks at him, open, unguarded, and leans in towards Mark.
“I can't stop thinking about kissing you.” Mark whispers breathlessly and he leans forward and press their lips together. Jeno is still for the barest moment before he grips Mark’s shirtfront and pulls him closer. He tilts his head and Mark follows, kissing Jeno like he never wants to stop. Jeno’s hands circling Mark's waist and closing the gap between them intimately and Mark's fingers tangle in Jeno’s hair, curling through the strands at the nape of his neck. Jeno tugs Mark flush against him and licks into his mouth making Mark moaning at the touch of his tongue.
Slowly they come back to themselves, switching the hot, heavy kisses for slower, lazier ones. Jeno mouths his lips along the curve of Mark’s jaw; Mark’s fingers trail gently up Jeno’s arms. Jeno is the one to pull away first, and Mark chases him unthinkingly, kissing him again before he can say anything. Jeno smiles between kisses, soft and slow, and Mark sighs into the kiss and a few seconds later, Jeno pulls back and holds Mark firmly by the shoulders.
“Maybe I should renovate my apartment more often?” he teases, and Mark laughs. Jeno puts his arms around Mark’s waist and Mark buries his face in the taller man’s shoulder, breathing him in.
“Definitely,” Mark agrees, speaking into Jeno’s skin. He presses his lips against Jeno’s neck and feels him shivers. “If you need somewhere to stay, I might know a place.”
Jeno leans back from Mark, fond eyesmiles noticeable making Mark's cupping Jeno’s cheek in awe. How can one looking so perfect-
“Thank you, angel,” he says, and he kisses Mark once more. “But where I am right now is perfect.” They cleaned the dishes and both had a night talk before they went to bed.
Suddenly everything falls like puzzle pieces. Mark knows he doesn't care when Jeno leans closer and slings his around Mark's waist and Mark hides his face at the crook of Jeno’s neck.
Mark hums in return.
“Be my boyfriend.” Jeno whispers huskily making a chuckle escapes from Mark's throat as he looks up and gazes landed on each other in the dark.
“Is that a question?” Mark smiles.
“It's an order. ” Jeno muses sleepily and both cuddle each other both, safe and sound.
Mark rolled out of bed feeling wholly reluctant; it was cosy in there, under the covers, and he had his warm, sleepy boyfriend to cuddle with. But, damn it, he's really hungry so he untangled himself and climbed out. Jeno moaned, annoyed, and Mark caught sight of his boyfriend pouting adorably before Jeno smashed his face into Mark's recently vacated pillow.
"You're mean," Jeno mumbled. "I was sleeping on you."
Mark pressed a kiss to Jeno’s forehead in apology and walked through to the ensuite. He quickly cleaned his teeth and was rinsing his brush when he heard the bedroom door opening.
Feeling like he'd swallowed an iron rod, Mark tried to calm himself. Jeno wasn't leaving. Jeno wouldn't be leaving. His Jeno was kind, and lovely, and he cared so much, and he wouldn't be leaving - at least not without a note.
He took a couple of breaths. A moment of silence, and then Mark heard a familiar voice pipe up from the bedroom.
“Hey, Jeno-hyung,” Jisung said. “Are you awake?”
Mark rushed into the bedroom and saw Jisung pulling himself up onto the bed, one hand grasping the covers and one holding Jeno’s arm, the usual, familiar wave of failure didn’t wash over Mark. Instead, his heart leapt a couple of feet in the air and did a somersault on the way down.
Jeno offered Mark a small, slightly sheepish grin from the bed.
“Hey, Daddy,” Jisung said, settling himself under the covers. “They're here.” There wasn’t much room for Mark to get into bed now, but he slid in anyway, resting on his side with his head in his palm so he could look at Jisung.
“Hey, buddy,” he says, kissing Jisung on the nose. “Your uncle is here?” and Jisung nods adorably.
“In the kitchen along with Lucas-hyung,” he answers. He wriggles about a bit on the bed, heel colliding with Mark’s stomach. Finally finding a comfortable position, Jisung breaths out and closed his eyes. Over his tiny body, Mark and Jeno share a glance. Jeno was still looking a little unsure, fingers twisting together over the covers, and Mark reached out to hold Jeno’s hand in his.
“Did you have fun?” Mark asks Jisung, though his eyes were still on Jeno. He doesn't want Jeno to feel like he isn't with them, overstepped- just because a week had passed. Mark thinks right about now everything seems pretty damn perfect.
Jisung nods, but whatever he was about to say next got lost in the knock on the bedroom door.
“Mark-hyung?” Haechan asked from the other side of the door. “Did Jisung find you?”
Mark looks at Jeno, who was staring right back at him. Jeno raises an eyebrow.
“I don’t mind if he knows,” he whispers, “but it’s up to you.”
“Yeah, hang on -” Mark pushes himself out of bed and pulled on a T-shirt, before opening the door to Haechan. “Hey,” he smiles. He wasn’t trying to block the view from the doorway but maybe Mark does - Haechan ended up peeking around him with a slight frown.
“Is he inside?” he murmurs.
Mark licked his lips. “No,” he said, and then glanced back into the room. Jeno smiles at him.
“Your face can't lie, though.” Heachan mutters teasingly and the next moment his eyes widened a fraction, and winces. “And I sent Jisung in which -” he lowered his voice “-ruined everything?”
“No, no!” Mark assures him. “It was a…surprise. But a good one.”
“Sorry,” he said anyway, and then: “Hello, Jeno!”
“Hello, my dear,” Jeno calls from the bed, and when Mark turned to look at him- he was grinning.
“Anyway, thanks for coming,” Mark said to Haechan and the boy rested his hand on Mark's arm and smiled. “Oh, okay, you’re trying to get rid of me.”
“No, I -” he shook his head, blushing slightly. “We’ll have to get up now anyway. I’m gonna make breakfast.”
“It’s fine, Yukhei is making breakfast, anyways.” Haechan mutters worriedly, afraid if his husband accidently burning the kitchen. He shivers remembering once their house nearly on fire.
“Can we have pancakes, Daddy?” Jisung asked from the bed.
Haechan acquiesced. “Alright, if you gonna make your famous pancakes, you better tell Yukhei right now. He said he wanted to make special omelette or something.” he might talk flatly but Mark could see the lingering fond smile on his face - probably thinking about Yukhei.
Mark felt a light pressure on his lower back, the mere brush of fingertips, but an echo of the intimacy of the night before. He glances back and gasps feeling Jeno hugging him from behind.
“How come I’ve never had these famous pancakes before?” Jeno mock-complained and he gone the next.
Mark turns around and looking at Jeno and saw that he was wearing one of Mark’s own shirts, an old grey tee that had once been black. His heart skipped and he could only blink at Jeno, overcome with emotion.
He cleared his throat a couple of times. “Well, it's not anything special but nobody ever deny it before.” Mark smirks confidently, and he didn’t mean it to come out in a suggestive way, but Jeno’s eyes twinkle anyway.
“Well, I am hungry. ” Jeno said lightly and went closer, pecking Mark's on the lips and grinning.
Haechan snorted. “Still here, guys.”
Mark raised a hand to the back of his head. “Sorry,” he said, blushing, but he couldn’t help smiling.
“Daddy?” Jisung pushed himself through the non-existent gap between Mark and Jeno, tugging at the hem of father’s T-shirt. “Are you and Jeno gonna get married?"
Mark chokes on his own tongue. When he tried to answer, all he could do was splutter for a bit, but thankfully Jeno was much better at functioning than Mark and stepped in.
"Why do you ask?" he said.
"Well," said Jisung, putting on his serious voice, "when people are married, they have grown up sleepovers and do kissing and stuff, and that's what you two did yesterday when I -" Jisung stopped abruptly, hand slapping over his mouth.
Mark raised an eyebrow. "When what?" he asked, determinedly ignoring how hot his face was.
"Um. When I was meant to be in bed?" Jisung said, smiling innocently at the end of the sentence.
Haechan laughs loudly and ruffled Jisung's hair. "Come on, Sungie," he said, and tugged on Jisung's hand. "Why don't we let Daddy and Jeno have a talk about it?"
Once the pair had left to go to the kitchen, Mark put an arm around Jeno’s shoulder and tugged him close. "Sorry," he mumbled, though he was sure Jeno found the whole thing amusing.
"Nothing to apologise for," Jeno said, kissing the corner of Mark's mouth. Mark made a sound of protest and kisses Jeno properly. "I want to work this out properly, and slow down and maybe, we both could stand on the Isle together," he teased.
Mark rolled his eyes fondly and buried his face in Jeno’s shoulder. "Sorry about him," he said again, for lack of knowing what to say. Jeno smirks and pressed gentle kisses to Mark's collarbone and up his neck.
"Okay," said Mark hand against Jeno’s chest, "we're definitely going to have to slow things down. They're outside and if you keep doing that -" he broke off on a moan as Jeno bit lightly on the juncture of his neck and jawline.
“Darling, when I said I was hungry, I wanna taste you.” Jeno growls huskily and Mark pecks his lips eagerly.
“Breakfast first.” Mark grins. He fingers the collar of the t-shirt Jeno was wearing. "I like this on you," he whispers.
Jeno entwines their fingers and pulled him out of the bedroom. "You know what else I like on me?" he asked, and Mark nearly combusted at the wink it was paired with.
“Shut up.” he says quickly and whimpers when Jeno laughs out loud but both decided to drop the topic, playing glares on each other.
They found Haechan, Yukhei and Jisung in the kitchen tipping chocolate chips into the pancake batter, Jisung stirring while Haechan licked a blob off her finger. Surprisingly, Bongshik was at the corner licking his paw in contentment.
Yukhei stares at both of them knowingly, “Welcome to the family, man.” he winks at Jeno and both grinning at each other.
Mark smiles at the sight, and Jeno, presses against Mark's body, squeezing his hand tenderly. His eyes sting and Mark just stares at each one of them with a big wide smile one his face, and lastly, his eyes landed on Bongshik.
The fat cat looks back at him.
“Thank you, Bongshik-ah.” he whispers and when the lazy cat meows back at him, a deep voice reaches his ear.
“I want your attention too,
Jeno smiles teasingly and kisses Mark's forehead. Mark sighs contentedly and leans to his boyfriend's chest.
Mark could get used to this.