It's inevitable to be bored during mass. You can be the most devout Christian but there will have been at least one time wherein you just didn't care about the priest's homily or what the readings were for that specific Sunday. That's what Donghyuck wants to believe, failing to suppress a yawn as the priest drones on about spreading love and peace and all that crap.
Apparently the yawn did not go unnoticed, because out of the corner of his eye he sees Mark gesture for him to cover his mouth. He rolls his eyes. Of course Mark would care about church etiquette, but maybe Donghyuck would actually put in an effort to be well-mannered if Mark had sat next to him instead of pulling Jaemin in between them, saying that Hyuck would be too disruptive and that he wouldn't be able to focus with him around (which were lies, since (a) Donghyuck always refrains from making snarky comments during mass unless the homily was a load of bullcrap, and (b) Jaemin was just as noisy as he was, constantly spewing opinions on the church's interior and design, the terrible choice of outfit the person in front of them is wearing, how off key the choir was, etc.)
Donghyuck turns behind him to look at Renjun, who is currently sandwiched between Chenle and Jisung. This has become a necessity during solemn events; someone has to separate the two or they'll burst into laughter and be asked to leave.
Renjun's brows are knitted together in a frown while Chenle and Jisung are leaning forward, engrossed in a hushed conversation. He mouths "switch with me" to Hyuck and Hyuck almost does, but Jeno pats his knee to keep him still. It startles Hyuck, considering that Jeno was so quiet that Donghyuck had almost forgotten that he was sitting on his other side.
Hyuck leans in to whisper in Jeno's ear. "Renjun looks like he's suffering."
"He'll be fine, you don't have to save him, Hyuckie. He lost at rock-paper-scissors, let him face the consequences."
"You manipulated him into choosing paper, though."
Jeno squeezes Hyuck's knee. "In this world," Jeno says solemnly, "sometimes you have to play dirty to survive." Which is quite dramatic if you ask Donghyuck, but the way Jeno looks at him tells him that Jeno is very relieved to not be in Renjun's current predicament.
Donghyuck bites his lip but before he can feel too bad for Renjun he hears Chenle let out a little yelp. Chenle has scooted as far from Jisung as the space allows him to but Jisung's arm is Very Long, allowing Jisung to continue poking Chenle's ticklish spots. Donghyuck's eyes stray to Renjun, who was sporting murder in his eyes as he swats Jisung's arm away. Yes he loves Renjun, but he loves peace and quiet too so he gives Renjun a small shake of his head, and Renjun curses Jeno under his breath.
Halfway through the homily, Hyuck lets out a soft groan and conspicuously stretches to ease a bit of tension from his body. He sees Mark's eyes narrow at him and motion for him to behave, but Donghyuck ignores him and lets out another yawn. Hyuck can tell that Mark is itching to facepalm.
During the Lord's Prayer Donghyuck takes both Jaemin and Jeno's hands in his, and he sees a toddler grab hold of Mark's hand (or at least the kid tries, because Mark's hand is huge compared to the baby's widdle fingwers). Mark's eyes widen in surprise but he smiles at the kid, and he whispers something only the child would hear. The toddler starts laughing but Mark shushes him, slipping his other hand out of Jaemin's grip and pressing it to his lips. The child nods vigorously and Mark swings their linked hands gently, reaching for Jaemin's hand again as they prepare to start singing.
But after the Lord's Prayer, when everyone starts letting go of each other's hands, the cute little kid still holds on to Mark's. Admittedly, the child's chubby hand wrapped around one of Mark's fingers is an heartwarming sight, but it's not Donghyuck's hand holding onto Mark's so Hyuck lets out a huff. He's just as cute as the toddler, isn't he? Then why isn't Mark paying attention to him?
Hyuck feels Jeno move his hand from his grip but Hyuck holds on tighter to both Jeno and Jaemin's hands. Jeno eyes him exasperatedly but Donghyuck shoots him his saddest puppy dog eyes with a slight pout to match, and Jeno gives up on extracting his hand from Donghyuck's. Hyuck smiles. If Mark didn't want to hold his hand then that's fine, he'll have Jaemin and Jeno do it instead.
He holds their hands throughout the rest of the mass, occassionally playing with their fingers and rubbing his thumb over their knuckles. Eventually he has to let go since it would be awkward to walk down the aisles hand-in-hand, but when they've returned to their pew after communion Jaemin takes hold of his hand again, his fingers curling around Hyuck's and giving them a slight squeeze. Donghyuck smiles at Jaemin and Jaemin winks and puckers his lips at him.
Donghyuck doesn't pray much but he sincerely thanks the Lord for bringing Na Jaemin into his life, because who else would put up with his tendency to shower people with extra love and affection? Definitely not Mark Lee.
They keep holding hands even when the mass is over, even when they leave the church area, and even when they settle at a nearby McDonald's for a late lunch. Donghyuck and Jaemin still have their hands clasped together as they order, and even as they slide into an empty booth, with Hyuck in the corner and Jaemin right beside him. It's a little hard to eat with only one hand, but Jaemin's hand feels so nice and warm and safe, and Hyuck just can't be bothered to remove it.
Mark sits next to Jaemin and doesn't bother to hide the way he stares at Jaemin and Donghyuck's still intertwined hands. "You guys comfy over there?" He asks them, pushing the tray of fries in their direction.
"Very much, thank you," Jaemin smiles as he picks up a handful of fries and shoves them into his mouth, and then picks up another handful to feed Hyuck.
It feels nice, being doted on like this. Donghyuck definitely likes it, and he thinks that if he and Mark never become a thing, maybe he should pursue Jaemin's affections instead. Solely for the hand holding, of course.
Donghyuck and Jaemin only let go when they're out of McDonald's and ready to go home, since their routes are in opposite directions (Mark and Hyuck east, everyone else west). Though before they bid each other farewell, Jaemin brings Hyuck's hand to his lips and kisses it lightly, causing a soft blush to bloom on Donghyuck's cheeks. He sends Jaemin a heart as he and Mark walk away from the group.
Mark doesn't speak until they're out of earshot. "Why were you holding hands with Jaemin?"
Donghyuck shrugs. "Why not? Jaemin's hands are nice."
"Lots of people's hands are nice. Why'd you hold Jaemin's?"
"Because I wanted to," Hyuck says, skipping ahead of Mark. It was true, Jaemin's hands are soft compared to Mark and Jeno's calloused ones. Renjun has soft hands too, now that he thinks about it. Hopefully he'll let Hyuck hold them next time.
Mark catches up to him. "You were holding hands the entire time."
Donghyuck channels his inner Ariana Grande and raises an eyebrow at Mark. "And what about it?"
Mark looks ahead, ignoring Hyuck's pointed gaze. "It's just weird."
"Why, do you wanna hold hands with Jaemin too?"
"Hell no," Mark's nose scrunches up.
"Do you wanna hold my hand, then?" Donghyuck teases. Mark walks faster, brushing Hyuck's question away, but Hyuck sees the tips of Mark's ears turn red.
"So you do wanna hold my hand!" Hyuck hollers as runs a bit to catch Mark.
Mark snorts. "No, your hands are sweaty and way too small."
"The perfect size to fit in your hand!"
Mark bites the inside of his cheek. "Don't push it, Hyuck."
"Aaaww, Markie wants to hold my hand!" Donghyuck starts cackling but Mark pushes him lightly and he stumbles on a rock. Mark reaches out and tugs on Hyuck's sleeve to steady him but when Mark's hand brushes against his, Mark pulls his hand away immediately.
Donghyuck frowns. He had been joking, but if Mark really doesn't want to hold his hand then he wouldn't force him to.
They walk in relative silence, punctuated by Hyuck humming a few verses of a church hymn that hadn't left his head yet. The atmosphere isn't tense but there's something off, a feeling which intensifies as they stand together by the bus stop. The thought of apologizing for being pushy enters Hyuck's head. Perhaps the hand holding comment bothered Mark more than he let on.
And Donghyuck actually would apologize if it weren't for the fact that in the two minutes they're currently spending waiting for a bus, Mark has glanced at his hand a total of six times. It confuses Hyuck. Decoding mixed signals were never his forte.
Hyuck stretches and cracks his knuckles before letting his arms swing freely. He notices Mark's fingers straighten when his hand gets too close, notices Mark tighten his hand into a fist soon after, and notices how Mark's fingers attempt reach for his hand before he shoves his own deep into his pocket.
And Donghyuck decides to shoot his shot.
"No, but seriously, we can hold hands of you like? Just if you want to, I won't force you or anything. But we've held hands way before this, why would we be ashamed of doing it now, right?"
"It's different now," Mark picks on a fingernail. "We're different now."
"What, did you declare hand holding illegal or something when we graduated from elementary school?" Hyuck tries to joke, albeit nervously.
"No, it's fine, holding hands is cool and all! It's just that...you're you?" Mark says it like it's a question and Donghyuck bristles. "What's wrong with me?"
"Nothing! Just that, you know, it kind of makes me feel a bit weird? I don't know, just forget about it, Hyuck." Mark stuffs both of his hands deeper inside his pockets and clenches them.
"Nooooo, we are not gonna forget about anything! Here, gimme your hand," Donghyuck forces Mark's hand out of his pocket and grabs onto it tightly. "See? Nothing to worry about!"
Mark smiles a bit, his eyes going soft. "Whatever," he grumbles, but he arranges his hand so he's holding Hyuck's comfortably.
They stand there holding hands for a few more minutes before a thought pops into Donghyuck's head. He turns to Mark and asks him, "You don't find this too weird, do you? Like me holding Jaemin's hand?"
Mark looks down. "Truthfully, the only reason why it was weird to me is because it was Jaemin holding your hand."
Donghyuck frowns. "What's wrong with Jaemin?"
"Nothing's wrong with Jaemin!" Mark screeches, and at Hyuck's surprised expression he takes a deep breath to collect himself. He gives Hyuck's hand a squeeze and swings it back and forth, just like what he did to the toddler's hand a few hours ago. "This is nice," Mark mumbles. "Really nice."
Donghyuck hums his agreement. "We should do it more often, then."
Hyuck is surprised to hear a small "we should". He looks at Mark but Mark isn't acting any differently; he's still swinging their arms and is now pointing towards a bus heading their way. In the end, Hyuck decides that he was hearing things.
Surprisingly, Mark doesn't let go of his hand even when they're already seated on the bus. Instead, Mark pulls Hyuck's hand into his lap and caresses it softly. It feels more than just nice. It feels right.
Donghyuck leans his head against Mark's shoulder. Mark stiffens, but he relaxes and shuffles a bit so that Hyuck would be more comfortable. This feels right, so very right.
Hyuck smiles and closes his eyes. Maybe someday he'll tell Mark that he doesn't want just platonic hand holding, but for now, this is enough.