NCT Seoul Japan Tour a Smashing Success
www.koreaboo.com/news/nct-seoul-japan-tour-a-smashing-success - 11:09 a.m. January 27, 2019
Popular boy group NCT Seoul make headlines with their wildly successful Japan tour, their first official venture into the international scene. Stadiums and arenas were filled with neon green lights at their concert in Saitama, the first of seven stops in their tour. Their exciting and breathtaking stages captivated their Japanese fanbase, which is sure to bode well for the upcoming release of their much-awaited Japanese album, NE0N .
Do you wish NCT Seoul could come to your city, too? Tweet us your thoughts @koreaboo!
me and dating are now Taeju @taekwonju listen im going to straightup yeet myself to tokyo if it means i get to see han taeju dance to boss live
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nct SOUL @un_knees we stan legends,,,,,,, selling out stadiums on their 1st tour,,,,, literally when will ur faves ever,,,,,,
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mintae au (check pinned!) @minoruouji whatevr u do do NOT think abt minoru being back in saitama for the first time since he became a trainee do NOT
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“You don't know what you're saying, hyung," Donghyuck says, his hand flying up to grip Mark's wrist. His voice sounds oddly choked. "I - why would you even say that?"
"It's crazy, I know. Stupid," Mark says, swallowing nervously. "But it's a possibility. My… my boss is going to offer me a couple of weeks of paid vacation time, because I recently closed a huge job for the company. That, and I'm almost done with a current project. If you could get your boss's approval, there isn't anything stopping me from accompanying you."
"But why?" Donghyuck asks. "Why would you even offer in the first place? We've known each other for all of two weeks, hyung - even if you've been a fan of mine for longer, that's too much to ask of you, too much for you to offer."
What can Mark say? Donghyuck's right - it's a big thing that he's offering, bordering on presumptuous and definitely crossing several boundaries. Mark can't explain the deep feeling rooted in him that wants to give this to Donghyuck - wants to do something good for the boy that's made him so happy for three years.
No, Mark realizes. That's wrong . He doesn't want to do this for Haechan, the idol he's admired for three years. He doesn't want to do this for the boy he sees onstage, the boy he sees onscreen, the boy he used to see through the lens of his camera.
He wants to do this for the boy he's holding right now, sitting in front of him with his bare face and messy hair. He wants to do it for the boy who adores yellow, who sings everywhere he goes and who clings onto the people he loves with all his might. He wants to do it for the boy he's gotten to know and care for over the course of two weeks - for Donghyuck.
"I want to do this for you," Mark says quietly, sincerely. "If you'd let me. I - it may be presumptuous of me to say this, but I care about you, Donghyuck-ah. You're important to me, and not just because I'm a fan of yours or whatever. I think we're past that, aren't we?"
Donghyuck looks at him uncertainly, eyes searching his face. He still hasn't let go of Mark's wrist, but he hasn't pushed him away, either, and Mark's willing to take that as a good sign.
"Guanheng, Xiaojun, heck, even Sicheng and Yangyang would probably do the same if they were in my position," Mark continues. "But you've never thought of asking them, because you… you think it would be a burden. Is that right?"
Donghyuck closes his eyes and inhales deeply, trembling. "It's never been an option," is what he says, almost too softly for Mark to hear.
"But it is, now," Mark says. "I'm not saying you should go for it. I will never, ever make you do something you don't want to. But… I want you to know that it's a possibility now. That it can actually happen. And I can and want to do this for you, Donghyuck. Just know that."
Donghyuck opens his eyes to look at him, and it tears Mark apart to see the tears pooling at the corners of his eyes, no doubt having been pushed down since earlier, since he started talking about NCT Seoul. "I think… I think that you should go for now," Donghyuck says carefully. "I think that we both have a lot of things to think about."
Mark tries not to let his face fall when he hears those words, but he can't deny them. "Alright," he says, pulling away reluctantly. "But please, think it over for real, okay? Don't dismiss it just because you think it's a bother to me."
"I've got that," Donghyuck says a little sharply, but his face is immediately flooded with guilt. "Sorry, I - "
"Donghyuck, it's okay," Mark cuts him off. "I just dropped something really big on you. I'll leave. Just…" He pauses, unsure of what to say in the face of Donghyuck's conflict, and decides there’s really nothing he can say. "Never mind. I'll be going now.”
He’s at the door when he’s stopped by Donghyuck softly calling out, “Hyung.” Mark turns around, not daring to hope.
“Whatever happens… thank you for offering,” Donghyuck says, voice small. “I know you mean well.”
Mark smiles. “You’re welcome,” he says, and means it. You’re welcome to ask anything of me, he thinks, and I’m afraid of what that means .
NCT Seoul @khc_nctseoul #MINORU #SAITAMA #NE0CITY
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mintae au (check pinned!) @minoruouji THE PRINCE OF SAITAMA HIMSELF IS SERVING US THE *LOOKS* THANK YOU NE0CITY FOR BLESSING US WITH THIS BEAUTY
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arisa @jinsooloist I’M SCREAMING WHO ALLOWED SHIROTA MINORU TO GO OUT LOOKING LIKE A GREEK GOD I DEMAND ANSWERS
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taeho’s side ho @mintaeking no offense but minoru and taeho taking a selfie together this tour would actually suck sksksksksksksk
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In a rare display of fortitude, Mark does not avoid going to the cafe. No, instead of trying to distance himself from Donghyuck after their less-than-ideal conversation, Mark makes an effort to maintain a sense of normality, as if nothing has happened. The thing is, it seems like he’s the only one trying.
“He’s avoiding you,” Guanheng says bluntly, when Mark dares to ask where Donghyuck is. It’s the third night since their talk, and it’s the third night in a row that he’s sat in the cafe without the idol ever making an appearance. “I know you meant well with what you said, and you’re absolutely right, if I were in your spot, I would do the exact same thing, but… you kind of rattled him, you know? He’s unsettled by the fact that visiting Jeju is a possibility now, and I’m pretty sure he’s trying to think it over as rationally as he can.”
“He’ll probably crack any day now,” Xiaojun pipes up from where he’s cleaning the glass of the cake display. Guanheng shoots him a suspicious look when he catches the other man staring at a piece of strawberry shortcake, and Xiaojun sheepishly leans away. “He had a really long phone call with someone last night - it’s just a wild guess, but I’m betting it was Heechul-ssi.”
“He told you guys about our conversation?” Mark asks, surprised that Xiaojun and Guanheng know about it at all.
“He tells us everything,” Xiaojun says proudly, at the same time that Guanheng says “We had to wheedle it out of him.” They look at each other, pointedly raising an eyebrow at the other.
“Well, he tells me everything, anyway,” Xiaojun says loftily. “Bet he wouldn’t have told you if I hadn’t shown up and helped you convince him.”
“This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen you get competitive over,” Guanheng remarks, looking at him with amusement. “Anyway, Mark, don’t be too torn up about this. It’s normal for Hyuckie to shut himself away if he wants to think something over really carefully. At worst, he’ll decline your offer and… well, no one’s going to end up happy if he never visits, but I guess you’ll have at least tried.”
Mark frowns, tracing the rim of his coffee cup. “Has Donghyuck ever told you guys anything about his life in Jeju?” he asks them, curious. Donghyuck had only mentioned his three best friends and his brother to Mark - it’s highly likely the two of them would know more.
Xiaojun and Guanheng look at each other. “He told us some things,” Guanheng says, shrugging. “He’s told us about his family at some point, including his little brother, and sometimes he’d share a funny story about something his one of his best friends did. Oh, and he’s definitely told us about his dance and voice lessons - he started practicing as soon as Heechul-ssi went back to Seoul.”
“His dance teacher is a man named Ten,” Xiaojun offers. “And he’s the one who’s friends with Kun-ge. He hasn’t really told us much, beyond that.”
“I see,” Mark says, somewhat discomfited. “Have you guys ever… I don’t know, tried to persuade Donghyuck to go back to Jeju at some point?”
Xiaojun’s face darkens unexpectedly. “Only once,” he says, and nothing more. There’s no need for him to explain. Guanheng sighs heavily, standing up to go to the back room.
Mark nods once, allowing silence to take over. He wonders now, if he did the right thing in offering to accompany Donghyuck to Jeju. In the heat of the moment, it seemed like the logical thing to do, but thinking back on it now, he can’t help but feel that he was definitely crossing some boundaries. Why would Donghyuck go to his hometown with someone he just met two weeks ago? Why would he listen to him, when he’s clearly refused point-blank when Xiaojun and Guanheng tried to convince him?
“Hey, Mark,” Xiaojun eventually says, snapping him out of his daze. “Whatever happens… thank you for offering that to Donghyuck,” he says, not unkindly, and Mark gets goosebumps as he remembers Donghyuck saying almost those exact words. “I know you’re worried about the effect this is having on him, but it's honestly been a long time coming. Even if he doesn’t accept now, it’s at least been put into his head - I’m sure it’s just another step in the right direction.”
Mark swallows, nodding once. He doesn’t want to show how much relief Xiaojun’s words had given him - he’d been worrying the whole time that maybe he’d just ruined things with Donghyuck instead of improving anything.
He closes his eyes and inhales, the familiar scent of coffee overpowering his senses pleasantly. The ball is in Donghyuck’s court now, as they say, and Mark will wait for his move for as long as he needs to.
He looks at his watch and sighs. Donghyuck’s probably not showing up tonight, either. He shakes his head, trying to snap out of his disappointment. Yukhei’s been looking at him with worried eyes the past couple of days, probably noticing how something’s been weighing on his mind. Still, even if Yukhei knows Donghyuck now, it’s not something he can share with him.
He’s just about to put away his things and leave when the sudden muffled sound of commotion sounds out behind the back door, drawing both his and Xiaojun’s attention. There’s the sound of people talking over each other, rapidly approaching, getting clearer and clearer the closer the people get.
Guanheng throws the door open and marches in, massaging his temples and looking absolutely exhausted. Donghyuck limps in after him, looking annoyed, and behind them is a man that Mark doesn't know, dressed in all black with a face mask hanging loosely from one ear.
Donghyuck glances in Mark's direction, meeting his gaze, and the older freezes. Before he can open his mouth and say something stupid, though, Donghyuck looks away, storming off to a booth in the corner and crossing his arms.
"Yah, Donghyuck-ah, stop acting like this," the strange man says, leaning on the counter. He looks incredibly familiar, and Mark knows he should know him, but his mind is coming up blank. "I thought we've already passed your rebellious teenage years!"
"When was I ever a rebellious teen?" Donghyuck demands, sounding more irritated than Mark has ever seen him. "You're the one who keeps doing whatever you want without thinking!"
The man gasps dramatically, clutching at his chest as if Donghyuck has just physically wounded him. "Did you just talk back to me? Where did my cute sunshine Haechannie go? You used to listen so well to me when you were - "
"Heechul-ssi," Guanheng interrupts, looking and sounding dead inside, and Mark freezes when he hears the name. "With all due respect, can you just do what you came here for? Mark's here, and he probably needs to leave soon."
Heechul, Kim motherfucking Heechul, founder and CEO of KHC Ent, the man behind the meteoric rise of Haechan's solo career, turns to Mark with a pout on his face, the face mask dangling precariously from his ear. "Are you Lee Mark?" he asks, moving closer.
Mark involuntarily leans back as he approaches. "Um, yes?" he answers, terrified.
" Fullsundial , right?" Heechul follows up, and Mark nods frantically. "Incredible work! I follow you on my private account. You've got real talent with photography, sometimes you honestly capture Hyuckie’s best angles better than our actual staff - "
"Heenim," Donghyick interrupts, a warning in his voice. "Just - please let's get this over with."
Distantly, Mark wishes he'd listened to his gut instinct and stayed home tonight.
fullsundial Which Haechan album has your favorite album cover?
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@sunshinesun IRIDESCENT!!!!!1!! [359 likes]
@ldhyuck IRIDESCENT BABEYYY!!!! [299 likes]
@hyuuu_ck IRIDESCENT HAD THE RAINBOW MAKEUP OF COURSE IT WINS!!!!!!!! [283 likes]
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"So, Mark," Heechul says, lacing his fingers together around a cup of earl gray tea with lemon. Guanheng had given it to him with a dubious look on his face, but said nothing, giving Donghyuck his hot chocolate and refilling Mark's cup. "What are your intentions with my Donghyuckie?"
Mark chokes on his coffee, just barely missing spitting everything out on Heechul's face, which would surely have meant instant death. Beside Heechul, Donghyuck turns to look at his boss with murderous intent, hissing out " Heenim ," through gritted teeth.
"What? This young and healthy man who's been a fan of yours for three years is suddenly offering to take time off his big and fancy job to take you to Jeju. As your father, I have every right to be nosy," Heechul says, taking a sip of his tea. He grimaces, putting it down. "God, I hate earl gray."
Guanheng wordlessly comes by their booth and plucks the cup from Heechul's hands, replacing it with what seems to be a latte. "Thank you," Heechul says, without missing a beat, and the barista leaves as silently as he came, rolling his eyes.
Mark manages to get over his coughing fit, nervously wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Um, I - I don't really have any intentions with Donghyuck, w-whatever that means?" he starts, and Donghyuck's face flushes bright red, looking at him incredulously as if wondering why he's even entertaining the older man's question. "I just… it was clearly important to him, and I was in the position to help, so I thought… I thought I should at the very least offer."
"Ah, but why?" Heechul asks, pointing a teaspoon at Mark. "The way Hyuckie tells me the story, you've known about each other for several years, but only really met each other a couple of weeks ago. Even if your boss were giving you the time off, you have to realize that not everyone would offer something as big as this to just anyone."
Mark looks down, watching wisps of steam rise off his coffee. "I won't lie and say that being his fan has nothing to do with it," he says. "There's no denying that Haechan's become a big part of my life, especially as a fansite. As someone who's admired him for almost three years, I kind of want to give him the world."
Donghyuck gapes at him, turning redder if that were even possible. Mark knows because he looks up for a second, promptly returning his gaze to his coffee, ears burning. He'll never be able to continue if he sees Donghyuck's expression. "Um, I - well, um - the thing is, even if I knew him as Haechan first, I don't think I'm doing it for Haechan, per se."
He dares to hazard a glance at Heechul, but the man looks surprisingly serious. "What exactly do you mean?"
"I mean that - I'm not doing this for Haechan, the idol, if that makes sense," Mark continues, swallowing. "I'm doing this for Donghyuck. I'm - well, it may sound presumptuous of me, but I consider him an important friend and dongsaeng, even if I've only known him for such a short time. I - I care about him, and if there's something that he wants, something incredibly important to him that I can help him with, then - I want to do it for him."
He fixes his gaze on his coffee, still untouched, heart threatening to beat out of his chest. This is it. This is how he dies. It's not a particularly illustrious way to go, but Mark supposes there are worse things than spontaneously combusting in your favorite cafe in front of your favorite person.
"Hm - " he hears, then sees a hand tapping in front of him to catch his attention. "If it's any consolation to you, I understand what you're saying," Heechul tells him, flashing him an overly enthusiastic thumbs up. "That being said, do you mind waiting outside for a bit? I'm gonna have to talk very quickly with Hyuckie here, but I still have a few more things to discuss with you."
"Heenim, we can't impose on him like that - "
"This man is literally offering to fly to Jeju with you, Hyuckie, I think he'll be okay with waiting until we finish talking," Heechul cuts him off cheerfully. "Right, Mark?"
"Hyung, you don't have to," Donghyuck insists, but Mark shakes his head. "I don't mind. I'll wait outside."
"Come up to our apartment," Xiaojun suggests. "Hyuckie can call me when they're done."
"Perfect!" Heechul says, clapping his hands together. "This shouldn't take too long. See you in a bit, Mark."
"O-okay." Donghyuck shoots him a look that's a mixture of annoyance and disbelief, but he eventually relents and turns his ire in its full force towards Heechul, who Mark is quickly growing terrified of. He voices as much to Xiaojun as they walk up the stairs to the apartment upstairs, causing the other man to snort.
"You're afraid of Heechul-ssi? That manchild?" Xiaojun says, laughing. "Well, I can understand - Heechul-ssi intentionally puts on a tough appearance when he's in front of strangers or people he doesn't like, but you got only his good side today."
To be fair, Heechul hadn't been hostile or cold with him at all - what Mark means is that he's terrified of how chaotic the man seems to be. Within minutes of meeting him, Mark had been completely bowled over by the man's personality, his absolute command of the room, rivaled only by Donghyuck. The fact that that had been his good side is nothing short of horrifying.
"Anyway, if he was that friendly to you, that's a good sign," Xiaojun continues, entering the apartment. Mark follows in after him. "Heechul-ssi can be genuinely scary, especially on matters regarding Hyuckie. He's not joking when he refers to himself as his father - after six years, he definitely sees Donghyuck as a son at this point."
He laughs suddenly, as if recalling something. "Donghyuck told us a funny story once, about Heechul-ssi and Doyoung-ssi, his nephew. You remember Hyuckie's manager, right?"
Mark nods, and Xiaojun continues. "Well, Donghyuck was sixteen when he met Doyoung-ssi. This was even before Donghyuck had been chosen to be a soloist, mind you, before Doyoung-ssi would be assigned as his manager. Heechul-ssi introduced the two of them and told Doyoung-ssi to protect Hyuckie with his life at all costs."
Mark bursts out laughing, surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah! And apparently when Doyoung-ssi reminded Heechul-ssi that he was literally his own nephew, Heechul-ssi just looked at him and said, 'Yes, and? You vomited on my suit when you were two, plus Hyuckie's a thousand times cuter than you were at this age.'" Xiaojun being able to almost perfectly mimic Heechul's voice makes the whole thing exponentially funnier, causing Mark to double over with laughter. “According to Donghyuck, Heechul even pulled out a whole album of Donghyuck’s baby pictures that he’d somehow wheedled from his mom, just to prove his point. I don’t know who was more shocked between Donghyuck and Doyoung-ssi, but Hyuckie was definitely the angry one.”
“Ah, so their relationship is like that, then? Heechul-ssi really does seem like a doting father instead of a boss,” Mark remarks, his giggles dying down.
“Oh, he’s the worst,” Xiaojun says, grinning. “I know we’ve talked about how it made Donghyuck seem favored among the other trainees, but Heechul-ssi truly adores him. They constantly kept in contact during the three years that Hyuckie was still in Jeju, and when his mother finally let him go to Seoul, Heechul-ssi came back to pick him up personally. There’s probably no other person that Heechul-ssi would dote on like that.”
"I'm sure Heechul-ssi loves him a lot," Mark says fondly. “You did tell me that that’s why he chose Doyoung-ssi as Donghyuck’s manager, after all.” He doesn't know what Doyoung looks like, or what his personality is like, but he can't imagine anyone not being taken with Donghyuck minutes after meeting him. "Have you guys met Doyoung-ssi, as well?"
"Yeah, he and Heechul-ssi came to personally accompany Hyuckie when he first moved in here," Xiaojun says, recalling the memory with a fond smile. "Nothing beats having Doyoung-ssi knock on your door at 1 in the morning and ask if we knew how to assemble an IKEA shelf. Heechul-ssi was right behind him, ready to empty out his wallet and pay Guanheng to build it for them, and I think Donghyuck was just about ready to die of embarrassment.”
“Ah, so Doyoung-ssi’s the grown-up between him and Heechul-ssi, then?” Mark says, just as the door to their apartment opens.
“I resent that,” Heechul says, fake hurt lacing his tone as he marches in dramatically. “I thought you would be better than that, Mark.”
Mark leaps up from his perch on the couch, face flushing up to the roots of his hair. “Heechul-ssi! No, I - sorry, I didn’t mean to - ”
“No worries!” Heechul interrupts him cheerfully. “No offense taken. You are however going on my list of people to watch. Who knows what other things you and Xiaojun are talking about behind my back?”
Xiaojun rolls his eyes, unfazed. “So, are you and Hyuckie done talking? Where is he?” he asks, placing a hand on his hip.
“Hyuckie’s downstairs - I thought I’d run up here and deliver the news myself, since he’s still acting like a cranky child,” Heechul informs them. He looks at Mark, pointing at him. “How soon can you get time off from your job?” he demands.
Mark blinks. It’s Wednesday now, and although these kind of things would usually take some time to process, Mr. Choi’s been dangling and discussing the offer for some time now, so it shouldn’t take the same amount of time to get his leave approved. “I could probably get approved to leave by this Friday.”
Heechul claps his hands together. “Fantastic news! You and Donghyuck will be flying out to Jeju on Sunday, on the first flight that I can get you first class tickets on.”
Mark’s mouth falls open. “Sunday? So soon?” His brain skips over the detail of first class in favor of focusing on the abruptly narrow timeframe. “But - why? Why the rush?”
“Because, Mark,” Heechul says, grinning. “We need to get you guys there in time for Jisung’s birthday on Tuesday.”
BOSS HEECHUL @kimheenim donghyuck-yahhhh (ᗒᗩᗕ) he’s all grown-up noww (╥﹏╥) he doesn’t want to listen to me anymore (╥_╥)
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Full Sun☀ @official_haechan you’re embarrassing me
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haechan's left leg @hyuckster06 HELP THIS IS SO FUCKING FUNNY LITERALLY WHY ARE THEY LIKE THIS
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loving haechan hours [open] @hyucksflower ladies and gentlemen the nations father and son,,,, sksksksks khc ent proving once again y its superior
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“You’re going on vacation? Next week?” Mina says, dropping by Mark’s desk to bring him his usual coffee. He’s just come from Mr. Choi’s office, wrapping up the details for his paid leave. “Damn. I thought you’d be the type of guy never to take a break and have all his vacation days pile up or something.”
“I literally just finished talking with Mr. Choi, how do you already know about this?” Mark asks, taking the coffee. “Also, hey, rude! I like having time off!”
“Literally every reason you have for not showing up to the office is Haechan-related,” Mina says, raising an eyebrow. “And even when you don’t come in, you always manage to submit your quota, even more sometimes, especially when the intern messes up. And now you’re telling me you’re just going to suddenly take time off out of the blue? And right after New Year, of all times?”
It’s not like Mark can tell Mina that he’s technically taking time off for Haechan this time as well, that his little brother’s birthday just so happens to fall on the Lunar New Year this time around. It’s not like Mark can tell her anything about Haechan, period. Even Yukhei can’t be told about the trip, as per Heechul’s extremely emphatic instructions.
(“If you tell anyone about this trip, I will find you and steal your bones,” Heechul warned him, as Mark gathered his stuff and prepared to leave.
He’d been very glad that Donghyuck was still downstairs in the cafe, because it meant that he wasn’t present to witness the way all the blood drained from Mark’s face, leaving him standing on shaking knees. “Steal… my bones?”
“I will steal your bones,” Heechul repeats, voice dropping menacingly. “And make bone quiche out of them.”)
Mark supposes it’s lucky that this year, his parents had decided to spend New Year’s in Canada with the rest of their extended family, instead of flying down like they do every other year. They don’t typically make him fly out on his own to spend the holiday with them, either, because if they did, this trip to Jeju wouldn’t be happening at all. Well, he supposes it’s lucky, depending on what perspective he’s taking. Mark is completely terrified at the prospect of meeting Donghyuck’s family during such an important family holiday, let alone during the first birthday of Jisung’s that Donghyuck would be present for.
Speaking of Jisung’s birthday, Mark has just begged off a night of drinking with Yukhei to help Donghyuck pick out a gift for his brother. Heechul had been appalled at the fact that he and Donghyuck didn’t have each other’s contact numbers and promptly demanded that Mark give him his. Hours after Mark had returned home, he’d received two texts from an unknown number: help me pick something out for jisungie please , followed shortly by a sun emoji.
It was more than enough to know.
“Hello? Earth to Mark?” Mina says, waving her hand in front of his face. “Jesus, you’re even more distracted than usual, aren’t you? Are you that excited about your little vacation?”
Little wasn’t quite the right word; Mr. Choi would be giving him two full weeks of vacation time. Of course, it would already overlap with New Year’s, but Mark isn’t complaining. He isn’t sure if he’s meant to spend all that time in Jeju with Donghyuck, but it would all depend on Heechul and when - if - he decided to get their return tickets. “Sorry, I kinda zoned out there for a bit,” Mark apologizes. “Since I’m not spending New Year’s with my parents this year, I was wondering what I should do for the two weeks. I was just thinking that it’d be nice to take a trip somewhere.”
“Oh, definitely,” Mina says, nodding thoughtfully. “That’s a good idea. Then you can bring me back something from wherever you’re going.”
“Sure, I’ll bring something back for the whole office,” Mark says, agreeing easily.
“You better bring me back one gift for every time you declined a hangout!” Yukhei says loudly, passing by their work area. A few seconds pass, and he walks by again, not carrying anything new. “My feelings are very hurt and require material compensation!”
“Yes, yes,” Mark says, rolling his eyes. Truth be told, Yukhei had given him a knowing look when he’d declined earlier, no doubt meaning that he already knew Mark was refusing due to a Haechan-related reason. Mark isn’t sure how he feels about both Mina and Yukhei knowing how whipped he is for Haechan - well, Donghyuck. He supposes he gave up any right to pretend otherwise the minute he invested in a high-end camera just to become a fansite master.
Later, as Mark walks towards the cafe, the path well-ingrained into his mind by now, he allows himself to wonder. He’s not exactly sure how choosing a gift for Jisung would go - on the one hand, they definitely couldn’t just walk around in public, especially with Donghyuck’s injury. On the other hand, if they ordered something online, it probably wouldn’t arrive in time for them to receive it, wrap it, and pack it for their trip to Jeju.
Mark pauses mid-step, face abruptly flushing bright red as he stands in front of the entrance to the apartment building. They, their . Them shopping together, them trying to order something, their trip to Jeju. It’s discomfiting how comfortable Mark has become, thinking of the two of them as a pair, but he supposes it just comes with the territory of indulging Lee Donghyuck and his affection.
When he finally arrives in front of Donghyuck’s apartment, he steels himself, trying to will away the sudden jitters. It’s just Donghyuck, he tells himself - he’s hung out with him a million times (a grand total of maybe ten times). He realizes then that, more than anything, he’s nervous about Donghyuck’s mood right now. The idol had been irritable the whole time with Heechul, and Mark hasn’t seen any indication that his mood has improved aside from his use of the sun emoji. He psychs himself up one more time and forces himself to knock. “Donghyuck-ah?”
The door immediately swings open to reveal Donghyuck, his bare face obscured by a mask. “Hyung, you’re late,” he says, and through the tone of his voice alone, Mark just knows he’s pouting underneath the cover.
Mark can’t stop the laughter that bubbles out of his chest at his whining. “Sorry, I came from work,” he says fondly, all his tension dissipating. It’s just Donghyuck, he tells himself again, and this time the thought reassures him.
Donghyuck’s aegyo is truly something else, what with the way he somehow manages to convey his pout through his eyes. “Come on - Kun-hyung’s gonna take us to a store, that’s where we’re gonna pick out the gift.”
“Oh, Kun-ssi will be taking us?” So Mark will finally be able to meet the elusive Kun, the owner of the cafe and the apartment buildings. He’s never met the man - he only has a vague image of him that he’s cobbled together from what he’s heard from Donghyuck and the four employees at the cafe. Based on what he’s gathered, Kun’s some rich, well-to-do man with multiple income generating projects, and probably pretty friendly with Donghyuck, considering they have a mutual friend.
The sleek Mercedes sedan that awaits at the other end of the alley opposite the side that Mark usually enters immediately confirms the rich aspect of Kun’s image. However, the man standing beside it is all friendly smiles and pleasantries, immediately offering his hand for Mark to shake. “Hi, Mark, right? Guanheng and the others have told me about you,” he says brightly.
“Nice to meet you, Kun-ssi. They’ve told me about you as well,” Mark says politely.
“Ah, just call me hyung,” Kun insists, smiling fondly as he extends an arm to wrap around Donghyuck’s shoulders. “I’ve been looking after this one since he moved in, so he feels like a little brother. You’re not that much older than him, right?”
“Mark-hyung is three years older,” Donghyuck says, nuzzling into Kun’s side. “Where are you taking us?”
“To my friend Yuta’s store,” Kun says, remotely unlocking the car so that they all can get it. He gestures for Mark to take the front seat, while Donghyuck busies himself with putting his crutches in the backseat before entering himself. “He owns a department store in Apgujeong, and he promises it’s totally discreet. Tons of idols and actors shop there all the time when they want to blend in with the crowd and not get approached in public.”
“Is this the same Yuta-hyung who keeps sending all those gifts to Sicheng-hyung at the cafe?” Donghyuck asks, leaning forward in between the front seats to poke his head through as Kun pulls away smoothly from the curb. Mark’s never been in a car as fancy as this one, that’s for sure. “Sicheng-hyungie just keeps dumping the gifts at my apartment.”
“The very same,” Kun says, laughing. “I keep telling him that he should just approach Sicheng in person, but he won’t listen to me. He’s too used to communicating with expensive gifts. I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks down and buys Sicheng a whole car out of desperation.”
Donghyuck laughs softly, returning to his spot in the backseat. “So, Mark,” Kun says, eyes still focused on the road. The buildings around them slowly morph into sleek high-rises, the glitz and sophistication of the Gangnam district incredibly prominent. Mark’s just glad he’s dressed somewhat decently, still in his semi-formal work clothes. “What do you do for a living?”
“Uh, I’m a software designer. I work for Suju Corp.,” Mark says quickly, surprised by the sudden question.
“Ah, Suju! I’m a stockholder there,” Kun says, brightening. “Since you’re a software designer, you’re under Choi Siwon-ssi, right? He and I are good friends.”
“O-oh, really?” Mark tries his best to imagine that - Mr. Choi, though nowhere near old, must be at least two decades older than Kun. He wonders how many other “friends” of similar caliber Kun has, and how many companies he’s got shares in. “Is that where your income comes from? Guanheng mentioned once that you only opened the cafe to use the building, not really to earn any money back.”
“Did he, now?” Kun says, musing. He rounds a corner, driving into the discreet entrance to the parking lot of a rather large department store. A stern-looking guard leans into the driver’s window, but waves them past when Kun pulls out what looks like an ID and shows it to him. “Well, yes, most of my income does come from many strategic investments. Guanheng’s right when he says it doesn’t matter if the cafe earns anything or not, because I really opened it just because I didn’t want the property to go to waste.”
A sharply dressed valet waits outside as they exit, even assisting Donghyuck out of the car. If he recognizes the idol at all, he says nothing of it. "Wow, do all department stores have fancy parking like this?" Donghyuck asks, smiling gratefully at the valet. The man takes the car key from Kun, bowing deeply before driving off.
"Probably not," Kun says, shrugging. "I think Yuta just wanted to be ostentatious."
They enter the department store through a ridiculously secure entrance, and suddenly the scene is more familiar. Mark blinks at the posh interior of the shopping mall, filled with equally posh mall-goers.
"Oh, God - " Donghyuck abruptly hisses, quickly hobbling his way behind Kun. "Stay still and don't move."
"What's wrong?" Kun asks, amused.
Donghyuck doesn't move or say anything for a few moments, even pulling Mark closer to hide himself better from view. "I saw a girl group member pass by," he explains eventually. "You know that meme about Inkigayo sandwiches? She actually got someone to put her phone number in my unwrapped sandwich. I almost choked on the paper! It was so embarrassing!"
Mark does choke on his own laughter. "Wait, the Inkigayo sandwich thing is real?" he asks in disbelief.
"Only rookie idols do it, and it's usually just a joke, unless they don't know any better," Donghyuck says, grimacing. "Trust me, idols have plenty of better ways to get each other's numbers."
"Oh? And why would you have any need for those?" Kun teases.
Donghyuck only frowns, face coloring. "None of your business, hyung," he mutters, leading Mark to wonder. KHC Ent isn't one of the companies known for having a dating ban; in fact, a Chinese member of NCT Seoul, Wang Sen, is publicly known to have a long time girlfriend in his hometown.
He looks at Donghyuck, at his pretty face and charming demeanor. Could he have…?
Mark colors in embarrassment, shaking his head. It's definitely none of his business, and definitely not something he should be thinking about. Donghyuck's dating life, if he even has one, is his own business.
"Hyung," Donghyuck says, waving his hand in front of Mark's face. The older man jumps in surprise, focusing on the idol, who's moved closer. "Did you hear what I said?"
"Ah, sorry, I zoned out for a bit," Mark apologizes, embarrassed. "I've been kind of spacey lately."
Donghyuck frowns. "Are you overworking yourself? Sorry, you should probably be resting now," he says, looking guilty.
"No, it's okay, I don't mind coming with you," Mark says quickly, reassuring him with a pat on the head. "I wouldn't have come if I didn't want to."
"Cute," Kun cuts in, smiling at both of them. They both jump apart, only then noticing their close proximity. "Hyuckie's got even you doting on him, huh, Mark?"
Mark forces out a laugh, hoping it doesn't come out as shaky as he feels. "He sure does," he says instead, watching Donghyuck inch away from the corner of his eye.
Whatever this mall is, it's truly host to a number of high profile shoppers. No one bats an eye at Donghyuck, even though he sticks out like a sore spot because of his cast and crutches. Kun even tells him to take his mask off, but the idol refuses, on the grounds that he may run into other people he's met at award shows, like that girl group member.
Mark tries not to read into it.
They spend some time wandering around aimlessly, until Kun prods Donghyuck and asks if he even has anything in mind for Jisung. "I don't know," Donghyuck says, frowning as he looks at a random window display. "I was thinking of walking around until I see something he'd like, but I… don't know what he's into these days. I guess I can't even get him clothes since I don't know what size he wears now, or what kind of fashion he likes."
He looks so morose that Mark has to interject and alleviate the situation. "What about a game console, then?" he suggests. "Yukhei got his cousin a Nintendo Switch for Christmas. Your brother's gonna be turning, what, fifteen?"
"Eighteen," Donghyuck says quietly. “Turning nineteen next week.”
"Oh, right, eighteen," Mark says, swallowing. For some reason, he still pictured Donghyuck's brother as a little kid. It's weird to imagine Donghyuck having a brother already nearing adulthood. "I think he'd still appreciate it. It's a safer bet than clothes, anyway."
"That's a good idea," Kun jumps in, smiling placatingly. "There's an electronics shop on the fourth floor. I'm completely out of the loop on popular games though, so you'll have to fill the gap, Mark."
Despite Kun and Mark's best efforts, Donghyuck remains withdrawn for the rest of the trip, not speaking much except during the actual purchase. He remains silent even on the drive back to the apartment, and the other two attempt to fill the tense silence with small talk. When Kun drops them off, he quietly offers Mark a drive to his own home, shoulders relaxing in relief when Mark declines.
"I think I'll stay with him for a bit more," Mark says, watching as Donghyuck goes to the cafe, leaving the console in the car. Despite it being after working hours, the lights in the cafe are on, meaning Guanheng's probably gone down to make use of the espresso machine.
Kun picks up the box and hands it to Mark, closing the car door. "You're good for him, you know that?" he says suddenly, tilting his head. Mark almost drops the console in his surprise. "Fuck - sorry, uh, what - what do you mean by that?"
"I mean that you… well, you're pretty attuned to Hyuckie and his moods, aren't you? And you aren't fazed by his displays of affection. More than that, he actually trusts you enough to act close with you," Kun explains. "Guanheng and Xiaojun have told me a lot about you, you know?"
He smiles kindly, leaving Mark feeling strangely apprehensive. "Take care of him, Mark, okay? When you guys go to Jeju, you're going to be his pillar of strength. His support. He might be going home to the place he grew up in, but he hasn't been there in six years. You're going to be the most familiar thing there with him."
His gaze drifts off toward the cafe window, obscured by a lacy curtain. Inside, two shadowy silhouettes are visible, the taller one wrapping itself behind the smaller one. “Thank you, though, for what you’re doing, and what you’re about to do,” Kun says quietly. “
"I… I'll do well, I promise," Mark says, quietly amazed at the number of people who care for Donghyuck this deeply. "Thank you for accompanying us tonight, Kun-ssi."
"I told you to call me hyung," Kun jokes, but he smiles and waves at Mark as he gets in his car and drives off.
When Mark enters the cafe, still carrying the box, Donghyuck is nowhere to be found. "He went upstairs already," Guanheng tells him, his laptop and several cups of coffee spread out on one of the booths. He looks exhausted, dressed in sweatpants and a large black hoodie. "You might want to go after him."
"Thanks," Mark says, turning to leave. "Take care of yourself, yeah?"
Guanheng frowns, and it's like his exhaustion has taken physical form, threading itself through every fiber in his body. "I'll be fine. This week's been rough, but it's almost over," he says, turning back to his laptop. "Go ahead."
Mark can't knock with his hands full, but he only has to call out for Donghyuck to open the door. "Sorry, I went ahead," Donghyuck says, stepping aside to let him in. "Just put the box down wherever."
Mark can feel Donghyuck watching him as he puts the console down in the living room. "Kun-hyung didn't offer to drive you home?" Donghyuck eventually asks.
"He did," Mark says evenly. "But I thought I'd hang out with you more. Besides, we should probably test out the Switch. You haven't played with one yet, have you? You should brush up on the games, especially if you're gonna be playing with Jisung."
"Do you think he'll like it?" Donghyuck asks quietly. Mark looks up from the box to find the boy seated on the couch, chewing his lip. "I mean… I've been sending gifts to him every year. Or, I tried to, at least. When I was a trainee, I couldn't afford to buy him anything or even have it delivered to Jeju. After I debuted, I started sending him dance shoes because I know he started dance lessons after I left. When Mom told me about shows or cartoons he liked, I'd try to get him stuff from those. Some little things that reminded me of him."
"Well, did he like them?"
"He would always say thank you," Donghyuck says doubtfully. "And Mom would tell me that he used the shoes all the time, or that he'd put a keychain I sent him on his backpack. Jisung is… I think he's just indifferent to me, at this point. And that's what I'm afraid of, to be honest. He's gotten used to me being gone, but we used to be so close when we were younger. I don't know if I can handle showing up there and getting - nothing."
He smiles softly, lacing his hands together. “He used to look up to me a lot. When we were kids, he always tried to tag along when I played with my friends. I always let him - and if my friends didn’t want to play with him, I’d whine until they gave him and let him come along. He’s... really precious to me, even now, when I haven’t seen him in six years.”
“Does he know that you’re coming back to Jeju?” Mark wonders. Obviously, he and Donghyuck couldn’t just show up to his childhood home unannounced; even if it was a surprise, it would be prudent to inform them of their arrival beforehand.
“No,” Donghyuck shakes his head. “I called Mom last night, after you and Heenim left. To tell her that I was going to visit for New Year’s, and Jisung’s birthday. It was... one whole mess I don’t need to get into - just know it involved a lot of crying on both ends.”
He chuckles, and it sounds just genuine enough that it offers Mark some relief. “I don’t know if it’s the best idea, but Mom seems really set on keeping it a secret from Jisung. I think she’s under the assumption that Jisung’s actually going to be excited to see me.”
Mark frowns at Donghyuck’s self-deprecation. “Well,” he begins. “Considering she’s the one who’s been with him for the past six years, she might have a better idea of how Jisung will react to seeing you than you do, Donghyuck-ah.”
Donghyuck laughs at that, and this time it’s tinged with sadness. “Do you really think Jisung would be excited to see me? After all the birthdays I missed?” It’s not just the birthdays, Mark knows. It’s all the time between them that was lost, time spent growing apart and growing, apart.
“Well, I don’t know,” Mark says honestly, coming to sit beside him. “I don’t know enough about Jisung to say. In fact, I don’t know anything about him, or your mom, or your dad, or your friends. I’m about to meet them on Sunday, and I think it’s a little risky if I don’t know anything about them, don’t you think?”
Donghyuck snorts. “If someone heard you, you’d think I was bringing you to introduce as my fiance or something,” he says, shaking his head in amusement, thankfully missing the way Mark’s face blooms bright red. “Well, Jisungie is the cutest kid you’ll ever meet…”
The console lies forgotten on the floor as Mark listens to Donghyuck talk, time seeming to slow down and wrap itself gently around the scene. Slowly, as the night progresses, they sink deeper into the couch, unconsciously gravitating towards each other as Donghyuck’s soft voice fills the silence. When Donghyuck tells him about Taeil, his voice teacher, his hand, slightly smaller than Mark’s own, brushes against him in the lightest of touches. When Donghyuck giggles until he’s coughing after telling him about the time he locked Youngho, his older cousin in the bathroom of a restaurant, he links his pinky through Mark’s. And by the time Donghyuck finishes telling him about his three best friends, Jeno, Renjun, and Jaemin, his voice is hoarse and quiet, only audible to Mark because he’s resting his head on on the older man’s shoulder.
“You guys sound so close,” Mark comments, after Donghyuck shares the stories of how he met each of his friends. “You keep in touch right?”
“We try to,” Donghyuck says, fiddling with Mark’s fingers. “I’m - well, I was busy with my job, and all three of them are in university. Jeno and Renjun are both studying in Jeju, but Jaemin…” here, he trails off, spending a good ten seconds just tracing lines into Mark’s palm. “Jaemin is here. He’s studying at SNU.”
“Oh, really? Then maybe you could’ve met up with him?” Mark says. He snatches his hand out of Donghyuck’s hold when he starts running his fingers back and forth his palm. “That tickles.”
“Sorry,” Donghyuck says, a small smile coming unbidden to his lips. “We - Jaemin and I… well, when I debuted, he was still busy with college applications. My career really kind of started taking off around the same time that he came to Seoul for university. I was busy with comebacks while he was struggling with freshman year, so any plans for meeting just kept getting put off until it wasn’t a priority anymore.”
“Still,” Mark says, frowning contemplatively as he looks up at the ceiling. He feels Donghyuck’s weight shift, and he lowers his shoulder to make the younger boy for comfortable. “You guys have been in the same city all this time - you could have even called him over to the cafe.”
“It’s okay,” Donghyuck says, somewhat sharply. “It’s complicated but… I think it was for the best that Jaemin and I didn’t really see each other, even after he came from Seoul. It’s weird and hard to explain, but I - I needed that distance, even if I missed him.”
“But… he was your best friend, wasn’t he?” Mark presses.
“Yes,” Donghyuck answers immediately, assured. “But… just, trust me when I say that we both needed space from each other. Nana and I have always been different within our friend group, and we didn’t really - well, to put it simply, I didn’t leave Jeju on the best terms with him.”
“Did you guys fight or something?”
“You could say that,” Donghyuck says vaguely, feeling around for the hand that Mark had withdrawn earlier. When he finds it, he pulls it back into his grasp, loosely lifting it up and down. Mark senses that this is the end of this conversation, and he supposes he can’t blame Donghyuck - if he could, he’d prefer not to think of any regrets that he might have over things he’s done in the past.
“Well, who knows? He might go back to Jeju for New Year’s, too.” Mark misses the imperceptible way that Donghyuck stiffens when he says this, grip tightening just a touch more. “If he goes back, you guys can meet up, and then you can solve whatever emotional baggage you’re carrying around for him.”
Donghyuck snorts, turning his face away from Mark. “If only,” he whispers, so quietly that Mark is almost sure that he just imagined it.
fullsundial sunkissed #haechan #jeju
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It turns out that by “first flight that I can get you first class tickets on,” Heechul seems to have actually meant the first, earliest flight. Mark finds himself dragging his feet along the reflective flooring at Incheon Airport at five on a Sunday morning, listlessly dragging two needlessly heavy suitcases. Beside him, Donghyuck is faring noticeably better, having managed to sneak off at some point to buy a latte from some overpriced airport kiosk. Also, he isn’t carrying any of their luggage.
“Why didn’t you get me any coffee?” Mark whines, arms getting tired from pulling both of their suitcases. To be fair, he isn’t in crutches like Donghyuck is, but the least the other boy could’ve done was to get him some coffee too.
“Should I have?” Donghyuck asks, amused. Mark can see the twinkle in his eyes, the only part of his face not obscured by a face mask. Aside from dressing inconspicuously in a black hoodie and baggy jogging pants (although Mark quickly sees that the hoodie is Balenciaga, and probably insanely expensive), Donghyuck’s rose gold hair has been dyed a soft, ash brown, although most of it is hidden underneath a black (Balenciaga, again) cap. “Poor little hyungie. Are you tired?”
“Yah,” Mark protests, without any real heat. He’s just glad that Donghyuck seems to be in a relatively good mood. Granted, he’d been quiet and distracted in the car earlier, a staff member from KHC Ent coming to pick them both up. Then again, it could simply have been a product of the early time of their departure.
“How are we getting to your house, by the way?” Mark asks later, once they’ve settled in the boarding area. There’s a special, lounge-like place for them to wait in as first-class passengers, and they’re making full use of it for Donghyuck’s privacy. “Are we going to commute?”
“Youngho-hyung is going to pick us up,” Donghyuck says, a small smile on his face. He’s taken off the mask, and just like with the valet at the department store, all the staff in the lounge hadn’t made a fuss over being in the same space as Haechan. Mark had caught the youngest woman’s eyes lingering over Donghyuck at some point, but she quickly turned away and nothing came of it.
“Youngho… your cousin, right? The one you locked in the bathroom?” Mark says, recalling the story of how an eight year-old Donghyuck managed to lock a towering nineteen year-old in with nothing but his wits and a chair propped against the door.
“Yep! As far as I know, he’s the only one aside from Dad that Mom has told. He called me last night to ask what time our flight was, so he could pick us up.” The excitement glittering in Donghyuck’s eyes right now, in Mark’s opinion, makes this entire trip worth it, even if nothing else happens. “He sounded excited, so I… I don’t know, but hearing him sound happy about seeing me just made me happy, too.”
Mark gently flicks him on the forehead. “Of course it did, Donghyuck-ah,” he says fondly. “Didn’t I tell you? Everyone there loves you, so of course they’re excited to see you.”
“I’m excited to see them too,” Donghyuck says, finally grinning. “I just… it still doesn’t feel real, you know? Even in the car ride earlier, I couldn’t process that I was going to the airport to go home, and not for a schedule. I’m really going to be back in Jeju. I’m really going home, hyung.”
The expression of pure happiness on Donghyuck’s face causes Mark’s heart to swell about three sizes. This, he realizes, is the radiance that Heechul, Doyoung, Guanheng, Xiaojun, and so many others had seen in him, and have come to cherish. The sheer amount of love and joy crammed into one lean body is just amazing to Mark, who never wants to see that smile dim.
He smiles, looking away. Even if it makes him happy by proxy, Donghyuck’s smile is a little too bright for him to look at for too long. Something tells him that he’d probably spend the whole time smiling helplessly back at him if he kept looking, and his cheeks already hurt from smiling this wide for just a short time.
“Hey, hyung?” Donghyuck murmurs, tapping the back of his hand to get his attention. So much for looking away, Mark thinks, turning back to catch Donghyuck with a soft expression on his face. “Thank you again, so much. I know I freaked out on you when you first offered, and I acted like a complete brat while you and Heenim were talking, but… I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Whatever happens, I’m glad you pushed me to go home and see them.”
Mark swallows, finding the tender expression on Donghyuck’s face strangely heavy. “You’re welcome, Donghyuck-ah,” he says, ruffling his hair, and he does his best to return Donghyuck’s answering grin.
The flight is short, just over an hour, and it’s made practically instantaneous by the fact that both of them fall asleep before the plane has even fully taken off. Mark is jolted awake by the landing, and he realizes blearily that they’d slept through the complimentary breakfast.
“Damn it,” Mark mutters, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He’d really been looking forward to getting some free coffee, but it looks like they passed out before he could get some. Donghyuck, who drank a full latte before getting on the plane, is still sleeping soundly, unbothered by the plane landing.
“Donghyuck, wake up,” Mark murmurs, gently jostling him awake.
“Noooo,” Donghyuck whines, half-asleep, turning away from Mark as best he can with the seatbelt holding him in place. “Tell Heenim I’ll be late to practice. He won’t mind.”
Mark laughs in surprise. Donghyuck must be mistaking him for Doyoung, his manager. “Yah, I’m not your manager, silly, I’m Mark,” he says, amused. “We just landed.”
Donghyuck blinks his eyes open slowly, peering at him blearily. “We’ve landed? We’re in Jeju?”
Mark smiles, gently steering him towards the window. “See for yourself.”
Donghyuck turns to look outside the window, and although the landing strip of Jeju International Airport isn’t anything too striking (even to Mark, who’s seeing it for the first time), what matters is the bright blue sky that stretches out for miles and miles, flaunting its color as if it’s summer, not winter. Mark sees the bright beam of sunlight through the window, landing squarely on Donghyuck’s face, and he can’t help but feel that the island is celebrating his return, giving him the warmest welcome it can muster even against the chilly February air.
Donghyuck looks back at him, face a mixture of several indecipherable emotions. “Let’s go?” he asks, voice small. Mark smiles reassuringly at him, choosing not to say anything about his shiny eyes. “Come on, then - you don’t want to keep Youngho-ssi waiting, do you?”
Donghyuck is distracted, Mark can tell, spacing out beside him as he waits for their luggage. Even under the cap and the mask, Mark feels like he can hear his brain racing, thoughts rushing through his mind at a hundred miles per hour. By the time they’re exiting the airport, accompanied by one of the airport staff (Heechul had apparently called ahead to the airport to inform them of Donghyuck’s arrival and the need for absolute discretion), he’s a little more grounded, taking slower and smaller steps until he comes to a standstill just outside the arrival area.
“Donghyuck? What’s wrong?” Mark asks, concerned. Beside them, the staff member also pauses, looking politely worried.
Donghyuck stares at the ground for a bit, seemingly lost in thought, before shaking his head and looking up. “Sorry, I’m just… I’m nervous,” he says, laughing slightly. Before Mark can say anything, though, he strides forward decisively, or about as well as he can on his crutches. “Let’s just go before I lose my nerve completely.”
The staff member accompanies them to the pick-up area, waiting unobtrusively beside them. Mark places his hand reassuringly on Donghyuck’s shoulder as the younger boy looks around, scanning the crowds of people for Youngho. A few moments later, he freezes in place, eyes widening, and Mark follows his gaze to find an incredibly tall man, possibly taller than even Yukhei, muscling his way through the crowd with a huge smile on his face, clearly looking at Donghyuck. The idol looks like a deer caught in the headlights, and the tension of his frame under Mark’s hand makes it feel like he’s torn between standing frozen in place, or hobbling away on his crutches and escaping the scene forever.
“Hyuckie?” the man calls out hopefully, the smile on his face widening when he seemingly confirms that it is Donghyuck. “Hyuckie!”
Mark only has enough time to pull his hand away before the man, Youngho, runs straight to Donghyuck, carefully encircling him and his crutches in a tight embrace. “Lee Donghyuck, you little bastard,” he says, swinging the both of them from side to side. “I can’t believe you managed to skip out on New Year’s for six straight years! I’m surprised Auntie hasn’t dragged you back down here before this!”
Another man, this time much shorter than Youngho, shorter than even Donghyuck, comes up behind them, unable to push through the crowds the way Youngho had. “Yah, be more careful with him, Youngho,” he chides, his words softened by the fond look on his face. “You have to get him back to Mrs. Lee in one piece, or she’ll never forgive you.”
Youngho waves him off, nuzzling his chin on top of Donghyuck’s head. Mark takes the opportunity to bow the staff member out, giving them leave to go and assuring them that they’d be fine from here. “Hyuckie’s all grown-up now, he can take a little more loving than he used to when he was younger,” he says, beaming. He looks down to where Donghyuck’s face is pressed into his chest, just under his chin. “See? He’s all grown up now - remember, when he left, he only came up to, like, the middle of my chest? Man, I can’t wait until Auntie sees you, you’re probably two whole feet taller than her by now - Hyuckie?”
Mark steps forward just as Donghyuck steps away from Youngho’s arms, and he’s quick to hold the crutches before they hit the ground, as Donghyuck releases them to swipe hastily at his eyes. “Hyung,” he chokes out, sounding like a strange mixture of a sob and a laugh. “We’re in public and you’re being so fucking loud .”
There’s a brief pause during which Youngho’s eyes get suspiciously misty, and the shorter man beside him comes up to stroke his back gently. Then, Youngho’s reaching out to gently pull Donghyuck’s hands away from his face, laughing at his cousin’s tear-streaked face. “Yah, did you just swear at me, you little brat?” Youngho demands, smile brighter than ever despite the tears pooling at the corners of his eyes. “I knew you’d lose all your manners when Auntie decided to let you go off to Seoul on your own!”
Donghyuck laughs loudly at that, and that’s all it takes for him to return Youngho’s embrace, tucking himself securely into the warm hold of his cousin. The shorter man smiles at the two of them, before turning to Mark. “Hi, you must be Mark-ssi, right?” he says, bowing slightly. Mark mirrors the action. “Yes - and you are…?”
“I’m Taeil, Hyuckie’s old voice teacher,” the man says.
“Emphasis on old ,” Donghyuck quips from where he’s buried in Youngho’s chest, erupting into muffled giggles when Youngho pinches him in the side. “Yah, don’t insult my fiance right in front of me like that! Don’t think I’m going to let it slide just because you happened to make me emotional!”
“Taeil-hyungie loves me more than he loves you, and you know it,” Donghyuck retorts, but Mark can hear the laughter in his voice. “I still can’t believe you managed to propose to him. I thought Mom was pulling my leg when she called to tell me last year.”
“Trust me, we were all shocked,” Taeil says dryly, earning a “Hey!” from Youngho. “I honestly thought it would take another ten years, and that I’d have to get married in a wheelchair.”
“Quit it with the wheelchair jokes, you’re just encouraging Hyuckie,” Youngho complains, finally releasing his cousin. He turns to Mark, who literally has to look up to see his face. “Hey there, Mark! I can’t say I know much about you, since I didn’t know you existed before Hyuckie told me you were coming with him, but you must be a good guy. Thanks for kicking his ass into gear and making him come home.”
Mark laughs. “Well, you may not know much about me, but Donghyuck’s already told me about the time he locked you in a bathroom,” he says, prompting Donghyuck to look at him with a betrayed expression on his face.
“Yah, Lee Donghyuck!” Youngho says, resting his hands on his hips like an angry mother. “I thought we agreed never to talk about the bathroom incident ever again!”
“In my defense, I didn’t think Mark-hyung would rat me out, but I guess I should’ve seen it coming,” Donghyuck says, narrowing his eyes at Mark in mock offense. Mark simply laughs it off and hands him his crutches, ruffling his hair to appease him.
They’re beginning to attract some cursory attraction, talking loudly in the pick-up area like this, so Taeil suggests that they get back to the car to get home as soon as possible, especially considering that Donghyuck and Mark are still exhausted from flying so early. Youngho insists on taking both the suitcases from Mark, and Taeil falls into step between the two of them, arm slung loosely over Donghyuck’s shoulders.
“Jisungie’s been sleeping over at Chenle’s since yesterday, because apparently Jisung wanted one last hangout before he’d be stuck around the house for New Year’s,” Youngho informs them, loading their luggage into his car. “He won’t be back until tomorrow. Auntie’s been talking my ear off about you surprising Jisung for his birthday, she’s so excited.”
Donghyuck settles comfortably in the back seat with Mark, having been assisted into the car. “Do you really think Jisung will be excited to see me, hyung?” he asks, worrying his lip. Taeil climbs into the front seat and they drive off, the interior of the car pleasantly warm after the biting chill of the early Jeju breeze.
“Jisung? Are you kidding me?” Youngho snorts. “Donghyuck, I can personally attest to the fact that Jisung’s never grown out of his idol worship for you. Oh - I guess that’s pretty literal now, considering you’re actually an idol.” He snickers at his own joke, not caring that nobody else is finding it funny. “He hasn’t gotten any less awkward while you were gone, though, so cut the kid some slack if he doesn’t jump for joy the minute he sees you. He’s probably gonna hide in his room like the angst-ridden teen that he is.”
Donghyuck laughs, a note of surprise evident in his voice. “Are you serious, hyung?”
“Did Ten ever tell you about Jisung’s dance showcase last year, at his high school?” Taeil interjects, turning around in his seat to look at Donghyuck. When the idol shakes his head, he smiles. “He entered the school talent show with a dance solo to Chrysanthemum . He won second place - Chenle won first - and I don’t think he’s ever been prouder of anything he choreographed.”
Donghyuck opens his mouth but says nothing at first, eyes blinking rapidly. “I’m going to cry if you guys don’t stop saying stuff like that,” he warns jokingly, half-heartedly raising a crutch to point at Taeil, but Mark can see the slight glimmer in his still red-rimmed eyes. “Mom never told me that he chose Chrysanthemum for his dance showcase.”
“Because even she didn’t know he’d chosen that song until she watched him perform,” Taeil says, chuckling. “Jisung wouldn’t tell people which song he was using until the day of the performance itself. If what Ten told me is true, Jisung begged your mom not to tell you that he used your song. For some strange, very teenaged reason, I think he’s a bit embarrassed to show how much admires you.”
“So go easy on him, yeah, Donghyuck?” Youngho says, smoothly turning into a curve. Mark’s been staring at the passing scenery this whole time, listening to the conversation idly. He pictures Jisung, even if he doesn’t know what he looks like, and imagines a boy dancing alone in a studio, listening to the notes of Donghyuck’s voice washing over his ears. He wonders what the song means to Jisung, as Donghyuck’s brother, what he felt as he created the choreography and performed it on stage. “Jisung misses you a whole lot, but he’s also gotten accustomed to you not being around. Give him time to adjust, and don’t be upset if you guys don’t click right away. It’s been six years, after all. He’s not the same little kid as he was when you left.”
“Yeah,” Donghyuck says quietly. Mark instinctively offers his hand in silent assurance, and Donghyuck takes it almost instantly. Despite the lingering doubts that Mark knows he still has, he also knows that Youngho and Taeil’s words have comforted him immensely. Any reassurance at all that Jisung still considers him an important figure in his life is a buoy that Donghyuck can cling to, a godsend in the sea of his insecurity and worry. “Yeah, I’m… I’m just glad I have the chance to try again with him.”
“Good,” Youngho says approvingly, before looking up at the rear-view mirror to catch Mark’s eye. “Anyway, Mark, tell me about yourself. Who are you and how did you manage to wrangle Hyuckie into visiting us here? How did you guys meet?”
“So many questions, hyung.” Donghyuck says, prodding Youngho’s shoulder. The man swipes at his hand. “Yah, it’s better that he goes through a trial run with me first before he meets with Auntie. You know she’s going to question him within an inch of his life.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Mark says, suddenly blanching.
Youngho lets out a short bark of laughter. “Mark, you’re going to be meeting the woman who almost chased Kim Heechul away from her house with nothing but a pair of slippers,” he says, grinning. “Auntie has always been protective and nosy about Donghyuck and Jisung’s lives. In fact, I’m surprised she hasn’t tried to wheedle any info about you from Donghyuck - or wait, don’t tell me, she has, hasn’t she?”
Mark turns to Donghyuck, horrified, but the younger boy just smiles and apologetically flashes him a v-sign. “I tried to tell her enough so that she’d be appeased, but she’s probably still going to grill you when we arrive,” he says, holding up his other hand to add a second v-sign, as if that makes things better. “Don’t worry though, you’ll get to nap and have a good meal before she starts interrogating you.”
“Don’t lie, she’ll know,” Youngho says seriously, while Donghyuck nods his head emphatically. “For real, though? She’s got a sixth sense for lies. I have no idea how she figured out that I was the one who lost her hoop earrings when I was ten.”
“That doesn’t count because you tried to pin it on Jeno,” Taeil says, chuckling. “Of course your mom didn’t believe you.”
“Oh, yeah - did Mom tell Jeno or Renjun about me coming back?” Donghyuck asks casually.
“No, I don’t think so,” Youngho says. “Auntie might get them to go over to your house today, though. She really loves surprises.”
“And I love being used as a prop in her schemes,” Donghyuck sighs, leaning back in the chair. “So it’s just gonna be Mom and Dad there, right?”
“Basically, yes,” Taeil says. “Also, your mom told me that she would text me as soon as I had permission to bring over Ten to your house. She hasn’t told him about this either, and it’s been killing me not to tell him that you’re back in Jeju.”
Donghyuck beams, pure joy suffusing his face. “Oh my god, yes, please bring Ten-hyung over later. I don’t care if I’m too tired to do anything but lie down on him, I just want to see him.”
“I know I told you to go easy on Jisung, but you should go easy on Ten, too, okay?” Youngho says, a small smile on his face. “If he starts ripping into you, just let him. I think he’ll cry if he has to see you without an alternative outlet for his emotions.”
“Good, I hope he does cry,” Donghyuck retorts, prompting everyone to laugh. “What? He laughed at me when I cried while I was saying goodbye to him! Besides, I’m probably going to cry when I see him. It’s only fair that he gets ugly red eyes too.”
“So petty,” Youngho says, shaking his head fondly. The conversation naturally dies out when he pulls up in front of a cozy-looking house. The windows are covered up with heavy-looking beige curtains, matching the foundation and panelling of the house. The stone-gray roof stands out starkly against the bright blue sky, but the first thing that catches the eye are the walls, their color contrasting beautifully with the cool environment.
Donghyuck swallows, eyes roaming over the scene as he stares quietly at his home. No one else in the car speaks, letting him have his moment to compose himself. Youngho turns slightly in his seat, sharing a tender, wordless look with Taeil before turning to look at Donghyuck. Mark himself remains silent, unobtrusive - it’s as if the rest of the world has faded away for Donghyuck.
“The house is yellow now,” he says quietly.
“Yeah,” Youngho says, smiling. “They let Jisung pick the color when they repainted it.”
They all pile out of the car, Mark coming around to help Donghyuck get down on his side. Youngho is just taking out their suitcases from the back when the door of the house opens, revealing a petite, middle-aged woman still in her sleeping clothes, a coat thrown over her shoulders.
Donghyuck freezes when he sees her, hand automatically going up to clutch Mark’s shoulder. He covers it reassuringly with his own for just a moment, before gently placing it on the small of his back and pushing him forward. “Donghyuck-ah,” they hear her call out, and that’s all they get before she’s striding over to them as quickly as her legs will allow, her arms spread out in an invitation of love.
The chilly early-morning air whips around them, biting at their exposed skin, but they feel nothing but warmth as they watch Mrs. Lee pull her son down for a hug. Donghyuck’s mother barely comes up to his chin, but that doesn’t really matter, because it allows him to envelop her in an all-encompassing embrace, letting his crutches fall to the ground as he hugs his mother back for all he’s worth. “Hi, mom,” he breathes out, voice tiny, and his mother, despite being so much smaller, sways the both of them from side to side the way Youngho had done at the airport.
Mrs. Lee pulls back, only to grasp her son’s face with both hands to pull him down and start peppering his face with kisses. “Donghyuck-ah, my son,” she exclaims in between kisses, and Donghyuck laughs out loud, bending at the knees to make it easier for her to reach him. “I missed you, I missed you, I missed you!”
“I missed you too, Mom,” Donghyuck says thickly, voice choked up. His mother lands a small peck on his nose before pulling back to look at his face, eyes shining with sheer emotion and joy. Her smile, Mark notices, is the exact same heart shape as Donghyuck’s. “I missed you so, so, so much.”
“Is that Donghyuck?” they hear another voice call out, and Mark looks up to see a tall man come out of the house, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. His whole face lights up when he sees his son, the sudden happiness on his face seeming to shave off years from his appearance. He jogs out in the cold wearing nothing but his pajamas, and in a second he’s wrapping up his wife and son in a tight bear hug, managing to lift both of them clear off the ground. “Yah, you’ve grown so much, Lee Donghyuck!” he declares, swinging his family around. Donghyuck yells in delight, hands coming up to wrap around his parents. “What do they feed you over there in Seoul?”
“Dad, put me down!” Donghyuck says half-heartedly, laughter cutting through the serenity of the morning.
“No way,” Mr. Lee refuses, turning a full three hundred and sixty degrees on the spot, still manhandling his wife and son. “We just got you back, and you’re already trying to get away? Don’t expect us to let you out of our sight the whole time you’re here!”
Mark laughs at that, prompting Donghyuck’s parents to look at him. “Ah, you must be Mark!” Mrs. Lee says. “Honey, put us down - be careful with Hyuckie’s leg! - Lee Mark, yes?”
“Yes, I am,” Mark says hastily, sinking into a low, respectful bow. “It’s nice to meet you, Eommoni, Abeoji.”
“Yah, so polite,” Mrs. Lee says fondly, reaching out to pet Mark’s head as if praising a child. He flushes, feeling like a little kid. “Are you tired? How was the flight? Donghyuck didn’t make things difficult for you, did he?”
“Mom, stop that,” Donghyuck whines, trapped in place by his father’s arms over his shoulders. “Don’t embarrass me in front of Mark-hyung, I literally just got back here.”
“This isn’t embarrassing you, this is basic good manners,” Mrs. Lee says, turning to her son with her hands on her hips. “Knowing you, you probably made him carry both of your suitcases, didn’t you? Mark here probably couldn’t refuse because you keep complaining about your injury.”
Donghyuck pouts. “But I am injured!”
“You are, and I’m going to have a talk with you about overworking yourself,” Mrs. Lee says severely. “You think I don’t know? I make Heechul-ah tell me everything about what you do when you’re practicing.” Donghyuck blanches at that, throat bobbing as he swallows nervously. “He makes me promise not to interfere with you in exchange for him giving me updates on what you’re doing, but we are definitely going to have a talk about you staying overnight at the studio to practice, young man.”
“Donghyuck-ah overworking himself? What a novel concept,” Youngho says dryly, coming up with their luggage. “Anyway, Auntie, you should probably set them up in their rooms for now. They were at the airport since before five a.m., so I’m sure they’re exhausted, especially Mark.”
“I’m okay, really - ” Mark tries to say, but he’s cut off by a pointed look from Donghyuck.
“Yes, absolutely!” Mrs. Lee says, clapping her hands together. “Thank you so much for picking them up, Youngho. You and Taeil should go get some sleep, too. You can bring Ten over later in the afternoon.”
“Oh, Ten is absolutely going to flip when he finds out,” Youngho says, a grin crossing his face. “He was listening to Donghyuck’s album all day yesterday for some reason - indulging in catharsis or something, whatever he calls it.”
“Ten-hyung listens to my albums?” Donghyuck says, sounding pleasantly surprised.
“I don’t know why that’s so surprising to you,” Taeil says, sighing fondly at him. “Not only are they objectively good songs, they’re your songs. Which reminds me - when you’re feeling up to it, come down to my studio for a little music session. I’ve wanted to write a piano arrangement for Chrysanthemum ever since I first heard it, and I want you there with me. I think your fans will love it if you play a piano cover for it, don’t you?”
“Yes, please, absolutely,” Donghyuck says enthusiastically, bouncing in place. His father chuckles affectionately, still embracing him from behind. “Thanks, hyung, for coming to pick us up. I - it’s so great to see you guys again.”
“Look at that - looks like Seoul didn’t strip you of all your manners,” Youngho says dramatically, looking up at the sky as if in reverence. Donghyuck bares his teeth at him, sticking his tongue out right after. Youngho mirrors his expression, his face breaking into a grin right after. “Get some rest, kiddo. And you too, Mark. It’s nice to meet you - I hope we can talk more later after you guys have slept.”
“Same here,” Mark says, raising his hand in farewell as Youngho and Taeil go back to their car. The couple wave and call out one last time before getting in and driving off. Mark watches the car fade into the Jeju horizon before the weather makes itself known, chilly air biting at his skin and causing him to shudder.
“My goodness, it’s so cold outside,” Mrs. Lee says, shivering. “Honey, can you grab their luggage - no, Mark, it’s quite alright, let him take it for you! Let’s get inside before we all catch a cold.”
Mr. Lee takes the suitcases from Mark with an insistent tug, and he’s left to walk beside Donghyuck as they make their way back to the house. Donghyuck’s holding his mother’s hand with his right, but his left hand lingers and touches against Mark’s, eventually linking their pinkies together. Mark looks at him and is met by a dazzling smile, one that he returns with equal enthusiasm.
The inside of the house is just as cozy as the outside suggests, the warmth from the central heating engulfing them all and making them sigh as they step inside. Mark takes his first look around Donghyuck’s childhood home - the polished, dark brown wood; the clutter of coats and jackets tossed haphazardly across the living area; the countless framed pictures that hang on the wall, littering the surface with precious memories.
Mark lets go of Donghyuck’s hand to walk slowly over to the wall and examine some of the photos, much to the idol’s chagrin. “Ah, hyung, no,” he whines, wobbling over to him. “Don’t look, it’s embarrassing!”
Mark grins, ignoring Donghyuck’s protests and eventually his half-hearted pushes, eyes roaming over the wall. The surface is covered with them - pictures of Donghyuck in his school uniform, singing on stage as a child, pictures of him as a baby, swaddled in yellow onesies and half-buried in stuffed toys. There are pictures of him with other people, too - Mark spots Taeil and Youngho in some, and he can only assume that the little boy that Donghyuck is hugging in nearly every picture he’s in with him is Jisung.
“He was a cute kid, wasn’t he?” Mrs. Lee asks, breaking Mark out of his stupor as she comes over, a fond smile on her face.
“I’m still cute,” Donghyuck pouts, earning a laugh from his mother and Mark, the former reaching up to pinch him on the cheek. “Yes, you are,” Mrs. Lee agrees easily. “And you’re very, very tired right now, too. You should get some sleep before the visitors start coming. Oh, and Mark - ” she turns to him, a slight frown on her face. “I’m sorry, we were very busy with New Year’s preparations, and I wasn’t able to make up the guest room for you in time. If it’s alright with you, can you sleep in Hyuckie’s room for now? We’ve set up some beddings on the floor for you, but when you wake up, the guest room will be ready for you to move in to.”
“Oh, you don’t have to go through all that trouble - ” Mark begins, but Donghyuck cuts him off. “Mark-hyung can just stay in my room with me the whole visit,” he says. “He won’t mind.”
“Need I remind you that there’s only one bed in your room, and it’s a twin-size at that,” Mrs. Lee says severely, and Mark just barely avoids choking on his spit, mind immediately jumping to the implications of the statement. “Are you proposing to make Mark sleep on the floor this whole visit? After he went out of his way to come with you here?”
“We’ll both sleep on the floor then,” Donghyuck says stubbornly. “Besides, I might not fit on my bed anymore, either. I’ve grown taller since the last time I was here!”
“Aish, this kid,” Mrs. Lee sighs, but her exasperated expression doesn’t last very long, giving way to a grudging, fond smile. “Well, Mark, you heard the boss. Are you okay with that?”
“That’s okay with me,” Mark says, forcing himself to chuckle casually. It’ll just be like the time you and Yukhei slept over at his apartment , he tells himself, before his brain helpfully supplies, yeah, but like, for two whole weeks this time. Good luck!
When they go up to Donghyuck’s bedroom, the first room adjacent to the stairs on the second floor, Mark is hit with a mild sense of deja vu. The walls are the same shades of cream and beige as Donghyuck’s apartment in Seoul, with the same dark wooden bookshelves and nearly the same types and number of Michael Jackson posters covering the walls. The only thing missing is the sunflower decor, but Mark notes, with a hint of amusement, that there’s a wall clock in the shape of a yellow sun, a direct parallel to the sunflower clock that he has in Seoul.
Donghyuck watches him as he looks around, face unreadable. “It’s similar, huh?” he asks quietly, and Mark laughs. “It really is,” he says in wonder, a smile coming unbidden to his face.
There’s a pile of soft beddings and a thick fleece blanket laid out on the floor beside a twin-size bed covered in a warm duvet and several comforters. Donghyuck hobbles over to the bed immediately, sitting down carefully on the edge and sighing in bliss as he slowly lies down, allowing his crutches to thump soundlessly onto the carpeted floor. “This is the best feeling ever,” he says happily, eyes closing as he snuggles deeply into the mattress.
“And to think. I’ll be sleeping on the floor for two weeks while you get to have a comfortable bed,” Mark jokingly complains, making his way to the cozy space set up for him on the floor.
“Let me have this for now, hyung,” Donghyuck says, eyes still closed as his mother chuckles while she fusses over Mark. “I promise after this, I’ll sleep with you on the floor in solidarity.”
Mark laughs. “You better,” he says. The plush bedding and blanket feel like heaven to his body, the soft fabrics engulfing him in warmth. “You guys are fine?” Mrs. Lee asks, voice lowered to a whisper.
“Yes, Eommoni, thank you very much,” Mark murmurs, unable to keep his eyes open any longer. He just manages to stay conscious for long enough to register the feeling of Mrs. Lee ruffling his hair, and to hear the door closing before he drifts off.
BOSS HEECHUL @kimheenim this was donghyuck-ah when he first came to seoul
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Full Sun☀ @official_haechan stop
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juliet @sunjulie THANK YOU HEENIM FOR THIS WONDERFUL FOOD
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hello hyuck! @sunnies AHHHH CUTE CUTE CUTE CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!!!
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“I swear, if Auntie’s pulling our leg - ”
“Come on, do you really think she would joke about this?”
“You expect me to believe he’s just gonna show up now? After six years?”
“Auntie looked so happy though, I really don’t think she’s - oh.”
Mark turns around in his half-asleep state, eyebrows unconsciously furrowing at the sound of voices. He’s blissfully warm, and the blankets feel so soft and nice against his skin. He burrows deeper into them, trying to ignore the sudden voices that are interrupting his rest.
“I don’t know who he is,” one of the voice begins, sounding closer and closer. Mark hugs his pillow tighter, turning away from the noise. “But that’s Hyuckie, Injunnie.”
“Five more minutes,” Mark hears someone drowsily say, and this time he recognizes it as Donghyuck’s sleepy voice. He gives up on trying to go back to sleep, instead choosing to keep his eyes closed and his body still as he registers the presence of people in the room.
“Hyuckie?” Mark hears the other voice say, then feels the air in the room shift as two people step over him and his beddings to make their way to Donghyuck’s bed. He blearily blinks his eyes open, quietly turning around to see two men kneel beside Donghyuck’s awakening form.
One of them, the shorter one based on their heights just kneeling down, gently cards his hands through Donghyuck’s hair. “Hey, Hyuckie,” he breathes out softly, and even though Mark has never heard his voice in his life, he knows instinctively that the man is smiling at Donghyuck as he speaks, voice saturated with affection. “Wake up, you dumbass.”
“Nooo, I don’t wanna,” Donghyuck whines, but Mark watches as he slowly blinks the sleep away from his eyes and focuses on the two faces in front of him. Mark waits with bated breath, waiting for recognition and maybe even surprise to register on Donghyuck’s face, but the boy’s face simply melts into the sweetest expression he’s ever seen, a gentle, wide smile gracing his features.
“Good morning, Jeno-yah, Injunnie-yah,” he says softly, smiling with hazy eyes. Mark, and probably the two other men, Jeno and Renjun, realize with a start that Donghyuck must think he’s dreaming. “Where’s Nana? I thought we were gonna meet up at his place?”
“Hyuckie - ” one of them starts, but they’re cut off when Donghyuck inches forward and wraps his arms around them, pulling them closer and snuggling in between them. “Five more minutes,” Donghyuck demands cutely, eyes falling shut. Mark’s heart clenches as one of the boys’ hand hovers above Donghyuck’s body, unsure whether to hug him back or not. “Five more minutes. It’s too cold outside, and you’re really warm.”
“Okay, Hyuckie,” the other, taller one agrees, leaning in to oblige Donghyuck. He’s got blonde hair styled in an undercut, from what Mark can see from his position on the floor. His voice is shaky, sounding like it’s caught between a laugh and a sob. “Just five more minutes, okay?”
Donghyuck makes a small noise of contentment and leans in, seemingly falling asleep again between the pair’s embrace. True to their word, the three of them stay silent for around five minutes, as best as Mark can estimate. Mark very nearly falls back asleep himself, watching them breathe quietly and almost in sync through hooded eyes, barely peeking.
He shuts them fully when he hears one of them say, “We should wake him up, Jeno,” and sinks back into his pillows, pretending to still be asleep.
“Hyuckie, wake up, it’s us,” one of them says. Mark hears Donghyuck shuffling around in his bed and groaning, mumbling complaints until his voice abruptly fades out.
“Oh,” Donghyuck says, and his voice is the smallest that Mark has ever heard it.
“Hi, Hyuckie,” one of the boys say, and Mark dares to peek through his eyelids to see the shorter one stroking Donghyuck’s hair again, like he had while he was still asleep. “Do you remember us?”
There’s a short beat of silence, in which Mark feels his heart rate spiking due to some strange, sudden nervousness, and then Donghyuck laughs in surprise. The sound sends all the apprehension flying away from Mark’s body, his body relaxing back into the floor. “Why are you acting like I was a toddler when I last saw you, Renjun?” Donghyuck asks, and his voice sounds impossibly fond. “Did you think I could ever forget your ugly face?”
The shorter of the two, apparently Renjun, laughs in response, immediately giving Donghyuck a violent noogie. “As if you look any better than me!” he exclaims, doubling down on his efforts when Donghyuck yells and tries to get away, giggling helplessly. “Yah, you think you’re all that now that you’re an idol, huh?”
“Well, which one of us got a solo cover shoot for Elle Korea?” Donghyuck manages to retort in between his giggling, but any further attempts to talk are hampered by the taller male, presumably Jeno, joining in on Renjun’s attack. “Okay, I’m sorry, stop, stop, stop!”
“Never,” Jeno declares, and Mark would’ve happily pretended he didn’t exist for as long as this happy bubble would never be penetrated. As it is, Jeno accidentally kicks Mark in his excitement, and he looks around in confusion to see what he had hit.
“Oh my god!” Jeno gasps, hand flying up to cover his mouth. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
Mark groans, feeling superficial pain in the spot where Jeno had hit him. “I’m okay,” he says hazily, still feeling the leftover effects of his nap, but it seems his assurance goes unheard by Jeno. From the bed, Donghyuck rolls over onto his back, laughing.
“I’m sorry!” Jeno exclaims, bowing to Mark and not ceasing at all in his apologies. “I’m sorry, oh my god, I haven’t even gotten your name, I’m so, so, so, sorry - ”
“Relax, Jeno,” Donghyuck cuts in, still laughing. “That’s just Mark-hyung. He doesn’t mind, right, hyung?”
“I don’t mind,” Mark agrees easily, waving Jeno off as he slowly pushes himself up. He tries to smile in a reassuring way as he insists, “Seriously, dude, it’s alright. You didn’t hurt me or anything.”
“Jeno thinks he’s a lot stronger than he is,” Renjun says seriously, earning a pinch from a pouting Jeno that only makes him laugh and flinch away. “Sorry to disturb you guys - Donghyuck’s mom just sent us up to see that Hyuckie was here for ourselves. I’m Huang Renjun - the guy who just kicked you in your sleep is Lee Jeno.”
“I’m so sorry,” Jeno says again, bowing one last time. Now that Mark’s getting a good look at their features, he’s struck by how different they look. Jeno’s sharp, sculpted features are softened by the apologetic and remorseful expression on his face, while Renjun’s almost elfin face is transformed by his biting tone and mischievous smile.
“My name’s Mark.” He smiles in return, feeling strangely at ease in their company. “Lee Mark. I’m a friend of Donghyuck’s.”
“Yeah, we figured,” Renjun says, laughing. “Otherwise Auntie wouldn’t have let you stay here. She neglected to inform us that you would be here when she sent us upstairs.”
“She neglected to tell us that Hyuckie was coming back for New Year’s in the first place!” Jeno adds, finally seeming to relax. “We both didn’t believe her until she told us to check for ourselves.”
“Same old Mom, alright,” Donghyuck says, smiling fondly. “Of course she kept me a secret from everyone. Youngho-hyung and Taeil-hyung told me that she hadn’t even told Ten-hyung.”
“Oh, I would pay to see Ten-hyung’s face when he finds out you’re back,” Renjun says gleefully. He’s silent for a beat, as if belatedly realizing something, and then his face breaks into a huge grin. “Speaking of which, you’re back! It took you six fucking years, but you finally came back down here, Lee Donghyuck.”
Donghyuck smiles, and Mark notices that it’s a little tinged with apprehension. “Yeah, I’m back now,” he says, voice a little lower. “Took six years and a whole fractured leg, but I eventually came back.”
“We always knew you’d come back,” Jeno says, seemingly oblivious to Donghyuck’s sudden melancholy, or maybe he isn’t. These are Donghyuck’s childhood best friends, after all, and Mark could never claim to know Donghyuck as well as they do. Maybe Jeno and Renjun see through Donghyuck’s facade as if looking through clear glass, and maybe that’s why they lean in, Renjun resting his head near Donghyuck’s stomach, and Jeno linking his fingers through his friend’s.
“As if you could stay away forever,” Renjun scoffs, a small smile coming onto his face as he looks up at the ceiling. “You’d miss your mom’s cooking too much.”
“You’d miss the beaches,” Jeno adds.
“And Jisung, of course,” Renjun follows up. “Whenever you chose to came back, we knew there would be no way in hell that you’d miss Jisung’s graduation.”
Mark watches Donghyuck’s eyes get just the slightest bit shiny, and it seems that Renjun and Jeno are aware. Similar, knowing smiles cross their faces in the same instant, gone almost the next moment. For a few minutes, nothing more needs to be said, and they all sit in comfortable silence as the bright sun sneaks through the curtains, casting the room in its warm, radiant glow.
fullsundial haechan: you can’t make me do aegyo! also haechan: *is the cutest idol to ever exist*
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@heyhaechan literally all he has to do is breathe and all of south korea Melts [922 likes]
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The enigmatic “Ten-hyung” that Youngho had mentioned comes right before dinner, accompanied by the tall man himself and his fiance, both seemingly holding their laughter in. Mrs. Lee silently lets him in with a knowing smile, watching him as he stomps his way up the stairs.
Mark, who’s lounging around at the foot of Donghyuck’s bed while the idol stretches out lazily on top of it (both Jeno and Renjun having left in the afternoon, promising to come back for dinner), hears the loud footsteps first, and looks at Donghyuck questioningly, mildly worried. He’s met with a bright, catlike grin that only adds to his confusion.
“Oh boy,” is all that Donghyuck says, before his door is flung open, and Mark is greeted by the incredible sight of a short man with messy, ash blonde hair, dressed only in a crop top and sweatpants despite the frigid weather.
“Lee Donghyuck!” the man yells, pointing an accusing finger at the boy in question. “How dare you come into my place, into my town, into my territory without notifying me first?”
“Please sir, don’t throw me out!” Donghyuck wails without missing a beat. “I’m just a poor, injured soul seeking asylum in your good state!”
“I am infuriated by the fact that I’m too emotional to come up with a comeback right now,” the man replies, shaking a fist at Donghyuck. “Come here, you little bastard!”
Despite his statement, the man charges at Donghyuck himself, leaping onto the bed and causing Donghyuck to erupt into raucous laughter when they topple over onto the mattress. Mark briefly experiences a spike of abject fear when he thinks that they might jostle Donghyuck’s leg the wrong way somehow, but he calms down after seeing how carefully the man avoids Donghyuck’s cast, leaning on every other part of him except for his injured leg.
“I can’t believe I had to find out from Taeil-hyung!” the man yells, crushing Donghyuck in his hold. “Do you know how humiliating that is? For Moon Taeil of all people to have info that I didn’t?”
“Oh, the shame,” Donghyuck says dramatically, pressing his cheek against the man’s own. “Whatever will you do now, Ten-hyung? You’re a social outcast. A pariah. Taemin will never be your friend now.”
“You take that back!” Ten demands, pulling back to squish Donghyuck’s face between his hands. “I will become Taemin’s friend, damn it, and he’s going to collab with me and I’ll meet Minho and charm the eyebrows right off of him, just you wait.”
The two of them dissolve into laughter as Ten contorts Donghyuck’s face into increasingly hilarious expressions, until the older man seems to realize that Mark is still in the room. “You!” Ten suddenly says, addressing Mark. He jumps to attention, suddenly terrified again. “I don’t know who you are, but if you ever tell anyone that I gave Hyuckie unironic affection, I will find you and make you wish your father spared you the grief of existence and pulled out instead.”
“Ten-hyung!” Donghyuck gasps, clearly trying to make a scandalized expression and only succeeding in laughing harder. “You can’t say those kinds of things to Mark-hyung!”
“And why not, hmm?” Ten asks, leaning forward up in Donghyuck’s personal space and comically raising and lowering his eyebrows. “Is he special? I can’t be mean to him?”
Donghyuck laughs, pushing Ten’s face away. “He’s special, alright,” he says fondly, shockingly honest. Mark is caught off guard, blessedly turning away in time before either of them catch sight of his burning face. “Besides, if Mark-hyung hadn’t offered to accompany me back here, this trip probably would never have happened.”
“Huh, really?” Ten says. Mark hears shuffling, his only warning before he’s abruptly pulled back by his shoulder and facing Ten, who’s looking at him with hypercritical appraisal. “Let’s start over, shall we? Who are you and what are your intentions with Hyuckie?” he all but demands, and suddenly Mark feels like he’s back in the cafe again, being interrogated by Kim Heechul.
Donghyuck falls over on his bed from the force of his laughter, shaking with mirth as he clutches his stomach. “I hate you,” he gasps in between fits of laughter. “I hate you, so, so, much.”
“Yah, you guys are so loud!” someone says, and they all look up to see Youngho stepping into the room, placing his hands on his hips in faux chastisement. “Settle down before Auntie gets a noise complaint because of you guys!”
“Oh, like you’re the epitome of a quiet and law-abiding citizen,” Ten says, rolling his eyes, but he does release Mark, and gets up from Donghyuck’s bed. “Don’t think that I’ll forget about this, Lee Donghyuck. You do not pull one over me. I will make you regret ever catching me off guard, mentally and emotionally.”
“Yes, yes,” Donghyuck says, amused.
“Are the theatrics over?” Youngho says, his expression somehow suffused with the air of a long-suffering man. “Come on down for dinner, then - Auntie says Jeno and Renjun are coming back, too.”
“They are!” Donghyuck confirms happily, and he scrambles to get up from his bed. Mark quietly gets up to help him, supporting him and handing him his crutches. Donghyuck smiles at him gratefully, and they miss the inquisitive eyebrow that Ten shoots at Youngho, who makes an equally curious face.
A delicious smell greets them as they go downstairs, the sound of something sizzling on a frying pan cutting through the air. Mr. Lee smiles at them from where he’s wiping the dusty side of one of the bookshelves in the living area.
“Finally decide to come down and join the living, huh?” he says teasingly to his son. “Was the reunion with Ten as explosive as you made it sound? I swear I could hear you boys wilding it up from down here.”
“Ten-hyung started it,” Donghyuck says automatically, laughing when he gets a pinch on the side from the man. He’s since stolen one of the sweaters in Donghyuck’s closet, covering up his body against the chill that’s trying to creep inside the house. “He started being loud first!”
Mr. Lee rolls his eyes affectionately. “Go help your mother in the kitchen,” he says in reply, returning to cleaning the bookshelf. Over by the stove, Mrs. Lee is busily cooking up a storm, with Taeil helping quietly beside her.
“Donghyuck, I’m useless in the kitchen,” Mark whispers urgently, making Donghyuck laugh.
“Don’t worry, Mom wouldn’t make you help out, you’re a guest,” he reassures him, pinching Mark’s cheek. “Be prepared for the inevitable interrogation later at dinner, though. I’ll try my best to protect you, but between Mom, Dad, Youngho-hyung, Taeil-hyung, and Ten-hyung, don’t expect to be getting much reprieve while we’re eating.”
Mark groans, pushing Donghyuck’s face gently. “I’m going to die,” he moans, resigned to his fate.
There’s the sudden sound of a car pulling up outside, faint but unmistakable. Mr. Lee lowers his cloth to look back at his son. “Now who could that be?” he wonders. He makes his way to the front window, followed closely by Donghyuck and Ten.
Mark leisurely comes up behind them to peek over their shoulders - his jaw falls open when he sees a shiny Tesla, the side doors lifting up instead of the normal way that cars do. Two boys, one much taller than the other, get out of the backseat, too far away for Mark to make out their features.
“That’s Chenle’s family’s car,” Ten says, and Mark can see the way that Donghyuck stiffens ever so slightly.
“Jisung,” Mr. Lee says, before scratching at his head. “He wasn’t supposed to come back until tomorrow!”
“Jisung?” Mrs. Lee repeats, hurriedly coming up behind him. “What is he doing here? He’s not supposed to come home yet!”
The taller figure runs up to the front door, the other just barely trying to keep up with a casual jog. In no time at all, he’s knocking on the door. “Mom! It’s me! I’m home!”
The voice is surprisingly deep, and Donghyuck pulls away shakily from the rest of the group as Mrs. Lee goes to open the door. In an instant, Mark reaches out to pull Donghyuck’s trembling hand into his own, squeezing tightly and trying his utmost to convey his reassurance and support.
Mrs. Lee opens the door to reveal two boys, both dressed in casual clothing for lounging around at home. The taller one looks breathless, probably from the way he almost sprinted to the house, his eyes roaming around until his gaze lands on Donghyuck.
“Lee Jisung, I thought you weren’t coming back until tomorrow - ” Mrs. Lee begins, but she’s cut off by her own son.
“Chenle said that one of his cousins overheard Jeno-hyung saying that Donghyuck-hyung was back.” Jisung blurts. Hearing his name fall from his younger brother’s lips does something to Donghyuck, whose breath hitches as he leans back slightly into Mark’s chest.
The other boy, presumably Chenle, peeks over Jisung’s shoulder and gasps when he sees Donghyuck. “It is him!” he says, practically in a stage whisper. “Meimei was right!”
Mrs. Lee sighs in disbelief. “Of all the people to spoil the surprise, I never would’ve guessed that it would be Jeno…” She turns back to Donghyuck and makes a pointed gesture, motioning her head towards Jisung as if nudging him to say something.
Mark squeezes his hand, prompting him to speak. “Hi, Jisung,” Donghyuck manages to say, sounding like he’d swallowed something odd. He spreads his free hand out lamely, unsure of what to do. “Long time no see?”
Everyone visibly winces when he says this, including himself and even Chenle, who’s still standing outside in the cold behind Jisung. Jisung, for his part, says and does nothing, not giving any indication that he’s feeling the sharp breeze cutting in behind him at all. His mouth opens and closes several times, the half-baked sentences getting aborted in his throat.
They all stand there like that until Chenle, obviously getting fed up, clears his throat pointedly. “Jisung-ah, I know you’re emotionally constipated and all, but it’s freezing outside and I really want to go in. Also, not to ruin your moment or anything, but if you don’t go over there and hug Donghyuck-hyung right now then I’m going to.”
This seems to jolt Jisung back into reality, and he hastily scrambles inside as Chenle follows, closing the door behind them. Appeased, the frown on Chenle’s face is instantly replaced with a wide, enthusiastic smile, clearly itching to run over and hug Donghyuck like he’d said. “Jisung, say something,” he whispers, poking Jisung in the side.
“Chenle, it’s okay, he’s probably - ” Donghyuck starts, but he’s cut off by Jisung, just like his mother had been.
“Are you staying for my birthday?” Jisung asks, and it’s fearful and hopeful and heartbreaking all at once.
“I - ” Donghyuck breaks off, the syllable getting caught in his throat. He inhales, then exhales, before looking at Jisung with a small smile and a glimmer of hope in his eye. “I’m staying for two weeks.”
“Oh,” Jisung says, blinking. “That’s - that’s nice. I’m - glad.”
There’s another beat of silence for a moment or two, before both Chenle and Ten let out twin groans of frustration. “Oh my god, just hug each other already,” Ten says, at the same time that Chenle groans, “Can you please hug Donghyuck-hyung already so I can, too? I’m trying really hard to let you have your moment right now.”
Everyone chuckles, a low rumbling sound, and that’s all it takes for Donghyuck to release Mark’s hand and spread his arms out in an invitation, apprehension and hope warring for dominance on his face. Jisung hesitates for a second, then two, then three, but when he finally walks over to Donghyuck, there’s nothing but certainty in his pace, running the last few steps and slamming gently into his older brother.
“Yah, when did you get so tall?” Donghyuck asks, having to reach up to cradle Jisung’s head. Seemingly overcome, Jisung bends his knees and leans down to tuck his face into his brother’s neck, not saying anything as he clings tightly onto Donghyuck.
“Camera, camera!” Mrs. Lee whisper-yells, and suddenly everyone is scrambling to pull out their phones and document Donghyuck and Jisung’s extended hug.
“Hey, don’t take pictures of me while I’m emotionally vulnerable!” Donghyuck complains, causing Jisung to laugh into his shoulder. Youngho circles them, taking pictures in rapid succession from multiple angles. Unable to resist any longer, Mrs. Lee moves forward to wrap her two sons in an embrace, followed shortly by her husband, who wraps his arms around his family.
“Welcome home, Donghyuck-ah,” Mrs. Lee whispers, and Mark swears he’ll never see a lovelier sight than Donghyuck’s answering smile.
BOSS HEECHUL @kimheenim missing my son
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Full Sun☀ @official_haechan i’m not your son go away
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BOSS HEECHUL @kimheenim @official_haechan :(
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secret haechan stan @1vyPrincess what kdrama is this
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He arrives at ten in the evening, long after dinner had finished.
Mark supposes Donghyuck’s peace really couldn’t have lasted long.
He should’ve known something was up when Donghyuck stiffens on the couch, Chenle and Jisung leaning on either side of him as a random cartoon plays on the television. They’re basically just waiting for him to finish setting up the Switch, which Chenle had somehow found in its hiding place and subsequently yelled out for Jisung to see. Mark supposes they can blame their own lack of foresight for not wrapping the gift or hiding it better, but the smile on Donghyuck’s face after seeing Jisung and Chenle yell excitedly over the gift is indication enough that it’s worth having the surprises spoiled early.
Mark looks up from where he’s figuring out how to connect the Switch to the television set (he’s a software designer. damn it, it literally shouldn’t be taking him this long) to see Donghyuck looking at his phone, face carefully blank as he scrolls through the screen.
“Donghyuck?” Mark calls out, prompting the other to look up. Chenle and Jisung are half-asleep on either side of him, nestled cozily against him. “Is something wrong? What’s the matter?”
Some of the tension bleeds from Donghyuck’s face at Mark’s concern. “Jeno just texted me. He’s - they’re coming over,” he explains vaguely, causing Mark to frown. Their reunion had gone over so well, earlier - he doesn’t understand why Donghyuck would suddenly look so conflicted about Jeno and Renjun coming back, especially when they’d promised to be back by today in the first place.
As if to punctuate his statement, there’s a sudden knock on the door, waking both Chenle and Jisung up. “Coming!” Mrs. Lee says, appearing from seemingly nowhere to answer the door. “Oh, hello, Jeno, Renjun, you missed dinner, I thought you would - ” Here, she breaks off in a delighted gasp. “Oh, Jaemin! You’re back! Did you just fly in?”
There’s a soft, melodious laugh after her question. “Yes, Auntie, I got the last flight in from Seoul. Jeno and Injun picked me up from the airport, so they couldn’t come back for dinner, I’m afraid.” The owner of the voice is silent for a beat, before continuing: “Is Donghyuck really here?”
“Yes, he’s inside! Come in, come in, you must be starving. Airplane food is no substitute for a good meal.” Mrs. Lee makes her way over to the couch, smiling widely. “Donghyuck, Jaemin’s here to see you! He just got back from Seoul today, too!”
Before Donghyuck has a chance to reply, Jeno and Renjun walk in, followed closely by another boy who looks around the same age as them. Dressed in a stylish cashmere sweater and a smart tweed coat, he looks less like a student and more like a model who’s stepped straight off a catalogue, his dark brown hair falling attractively over his eyes. His gaze falls on Donghyuck, charged with more feeling than Mark can interpret for the brief moment he sees his expression.“Hi, Hyuckie,” he breathes out, a sweet smile crossing his face, and he walks forward, stopping abruptly just a few steps from the couch.
Mark watches as Donghyuck regards him, almost warily, a multitude of emotions crossing his face as he looks at his friend’s face. Eventually, he smiles back, the motion delayed as though he tried to stop it but in the end couldn’t help it. “Hi, Nana,” he says, and as Jaemin beams, closing the gap between them, wrapping him in an embrace too tight and too tender to be less than intimate, Mark suddenly feels as though he’s watching from the outside.
For the first time since meeting Donghyuck at the cafe, Mark truly feels the distance between them, a gaping chasm that he’d childishly, foolishly ignored.