The first time Mark saw Donghyuck, it was at a party. They were both very young, Mark was just a freshman and he was very lucky to have been deemed cool enough to be invited to a senior's party. It was Jaehyun's party, and both had become quick friends when they realized both had stayed in the US for a while. Mark was from Canada, moving here recently, but had lived briefly in New York, while Jaehyun had gone to middle school there, for four years.
It was February, and while the party was supposedly a Valentine's one, most people were celebrating Jaehyun's birthday. Mark was worried about asking his parents for permission for the party, but they were happy he was integrating well, even driving him there. Either way, while he hardly knew anybody except Jaehyun, it was a good way to relax a bit before the exam’s session came.
How his first year had gone by so fast was honestly a mystery. he still had a couple of months left, but a lot of his initial worries about high school were resolved now.
He was staying over at the place tonight, but as the night went on, people got drunker and Mark felt himself be the only one sober. While he had been offered alcohol, he didn't feel comfortable drinking by himself and was also not in the habit of doing so.
Somehow, he found himself in a room that was possibly a home office. It was furnished well with white bookshelves on the wall, and he was checking a few of the titles. The light was dim, and Mark was sure he did not want the harsh white light after the kaleidoscopic lights from the living room, emitting from a disco ball-like bulb, which someone had changed with the original.
He sat down in the corner, enjoying a game on his phone when someone else also entered. They looked a bit surprised to see Mark but seemed to know their way around, as the pressed a switch behind some books and a small light turned on. Mark looked at the person in appreciation. It was a kid, probably younger than him. Mark had also never seen him at school, and he was dressed in simple clothes as if attending a party was not on his agenda. Mark looked at him, and the boy stared back. They didn't speak, but both gave a nod, going back to their own phones.
The silence was comfortable for the most part, something that surprised Mark, as he always considered himself to be on the awkward side of things.
He spoke a weird mix of Korean and English, and somehow, both overlapped each other so much that Mark would express his verbs in English and emotions in Korean. While his Korean grade could be better, being bi-lingual allowed him to not pay much attention to English in school.
They both stayed in the room for possibly an hour, when Mark's phone battery reached an alarming red. He had no option but to keep it in his pocket. The other boy was still on his phone. After five minutes of doing nothing, Mark started feeling a bit fidgety, and the boy looked up at him, taking a long deep look, and Mark felt himself being evaluated. He turned his face to the side, staring at the floor from the sheer embarrassment, and saw through his side that the boy smiled a bit.
He then heard in a whisper like tone, "Look up."
Mark was too shocked at first, for it felt like glass surrounding them suddenly broke. The boy smiled a bit, a tiny stretch on one side of his lips while biting the other side. The boy looked gorgeous, the yellow light giving his honey skin a glow, and he appeared warm, even wearing a black t-shirt, he seemed to draw Mark in. The boy had said look, and Mark did. His left side of the face had moles arranged as if his skin was the night sky and them, stars. He could even see one on his Adam's apple. His skin was tanned in a way he hadn't seen anyone since he had arrived in Korea.
Mark continued to look, and it seemed the boy's earlier confidence wavered a bit, as he self-consciously shifted his eyes, taking a gulp, and Mark felt guilt, for troubling the fine specimen in front of him. Because that is what it felt like, a specimen of a human, not ordinary like the rest.
By the time his brain notified him to say something, his tummy let out a sound, and the boy suddenly relaxed, giggling, and Mark could only rub the back of his neck, a flush on his neck.
The boy then stood up, in that characteristic awkwardness, those around his age seemed to have, as if they had yet to adjust to their limbs, which had grown. Mark stood up; a bit surprised at the height difference as the boy barely reached his chin. It seemed that the boy was perturbed at this, as he pouted just a bit, his heart-shaped lips doing most of the work, as he tilted his face to a side and Mark noticed another mole on his collarbones as well.
"McDonald's?" the boy asked, and Mark fervently nodded, to the extent that it brought a smile to his face.
They left the house where some seniors were competing about who could do most chicken turns. There were a few loud noises and the boy seemed to be surprised it at a bit, so Mark took the opportunity to put himself between the boy and the crowd. He thought of putting his hand on the back of the boy, and lifted it to do so, but something told him not to, and he let his hand fall. the boy, it seemed had noticed it. He walked close to the wall, avoiding the random drunk people around, and Mark stayed close, close by to act as a barrier, but not enough to be overbearing. The boy led him out through a back gate, and then down some streets. They didn't speak at all, the only noise being when some drunk passer-by’s celebrating the day came to close, and the younger let out a small sound of surprise. It wasn't a long walk and within fifteen minutes, they were at the go through. Unfortunately, they were about to close, and both only got coffee. They sat on some plastic chairs and sipped their coffees, and against the mixture of streetlamp and moonlight, the boy still shone.
The silence was comfortable, and it seemed that the employees took pity over them, giving them, some fires free, as the shutters came down. It was in this comfortable silence that Mark spoke up, rambling about the moon, for when he was in New York, it could hardly be seen. The boy paid rapt attention and told his own tales.
They both reached Jaehyun's house quite late, and by that time, it was only those that were staying overnight. Jaehyun was drunk but he came and hugged the boy. He seemed a bit uncomfortable at first, but Jaehyun pulled him against his chest, mumbling about the cutest younger brother and the boy allowed himself to relax, making a joke about how the younger were taking care of the elders, as both he and Mark then navigated him to the makeover bed in the living room.
The blankets and mattresses had been strewn around, and most people who were staying, some close five people, were on the couches which had been pushed back. Mark and Donghyuck, as he had come to know the boy was, shifted things around until they were an organized mess and then, guided all their seniors to it. Somebody put in an English movie without subtitles, but it seemed that most who were staying over spoke English.
Donghyuck and Mark sat down on one of the couches and Mark would occasionally translate some of the harder dialogues. Somehow, they had ended up sharing a blanket, shoulders almost touching, which made Mark conscious. In the past four hours that he had been around him, Mark had come to know that the younger was a bit wary of touch, so he made a little effort of shifting to his side, so that while they were both in the blanket, they weren't actually touching.
Mark had hope that Donghyuck would not notice but, after a while, the boy turned to look at him, the screen's light brightening a side of his face, saying a small thanks with a tiny smile, that warmed Mark's heart more than any blanket ever could.
They both became a contact on each other's phone. Mark enjoyed the younger's company but soon,after the next day, life and its pace picked up. While Mark could never forget about Donghyuck, he was too shy to initiate anything and too embarrassed to even mention his name or question who exactly he was.
Somehow, he found himself eating at a diner with Jaehyun, when the older mentioned that he had a middle school graduation to attend, just then, and Mark having nothing else to do, went along.
It was Donghyuck's, and when the younger was called, apart from the students, it seemed no guardian stood up to clap, so Mark took the initiative, and Jaehyun smoothly followed. Donghyuck's look of surprise was something he would take a very long time to forget.
The younger came to them, and while others had bouquets in their hands, Mark somehow procured some leftover fries, and the younger two laughed, over their shared joke.
Donghyuck's two buttons had been taken away by some younger students, while they were in the parking lot, waiting for Jaehyun to emerge from the chaos as all parents started leaving, the same who had clapped, and he had one left. Mark joked about how he should get it, and Donghyuck made a joke about it, how Mark should come and break it. Suddenly, Mark reached towards him, and buttoned the coat, the last button in its place.
"I'd rather sew them, than break," he said as he felt a flush coming on his cheek. The younger took a long look on his face, and then gave him one of his broad smiles, that warmed him more than the summer sun.
Somehow, it so happened that Donghyuck and Mark met repeatedly over the summer. they younger was going to the same school as him, and before he knew it, time passed by.
Donghyuck had stayed over at his place enough to have his own small drawer and jokingly even called his mom, mom.
Donghyuck however never invited Mark to his house, at least never to the inside, and they touched more than the occasional brush of shoulders.
Despite this the both understood each other in ways they themselves seemed slow to catch up to, or at least Donghyuck did.
When Mark in the middle of his junior year had a semi-crisis propelled by a form for future plans, Donghyuck sat by him, talking to him until Mark realized what he wanted to do.
The two of them had expanded to become a small group of seven. The two juniors that Donghyuck had in middle school had followed him, along with some friends that Donghyuck had made. He was good at that, meeting people, entrancing them, and yet remained elusive.
Donghyuck would sometimes speak of his older brother, Johnny, who had been a year older than Jaehyun. The two were inseparable, and that is how Jaehyun had adopted Donghyuck.
He really had, the younger, if not at Mark's own house and his, was at Jaehyun’s place, even though the latter had moved to uni. Jaehyun went to a nearby college, close enough to drop his laundry by at home, and Donghyuck took advantage of him fully.
Jaemin, Jeno and Renjun often bugged Donghyuck about his home situation, and after all he wouldn't blame them, it were just the way they were. Jaemin especially was a nagging mother, and Renjun would sit with Jisung, the youngest and plot prophecies. They would question about aliens, moon landing, and had actually signed up to go to the Area 51 raid.
When Mark's own graduation came by, the maknaes, wanted his buttons, as he was the first in their group to graduate. His coat had 5 buttons, and they took them all, before he could even try to save one for Donghyuck. He complained about the same later that evening, when he was still in his graduation outfit, dropping Donghyuck off. He had gotten a car last year, and Donghyuck had gotten a chauffeur.
Donghyuck, instead of making a joke or getting out of the car, twisted his body back, and Mark took a moment to appreciate how much he had grown from that first night he had seen him. Mark had grown a head taller, and Donghyuck was barely an inch shorter. His limbs, that had been awkward then, were graceful. Renjun, the shortest had once joked about how Donghyuck was 70% legs, and Mark had to agree. He had these plush thighs, that Mark itched to touch. Most of Mark's mind wondered about Donghyuck, probably more than it did for him.
Donghyuck produced a small envelope, and then, unbuckling his seatbelt, leant forward, allowing the contents of the package to fall in his hand. It was a thread with a needle.
It took a while for Mark to figure out, and by then, Donghyuck was holding a part of Mark’s court, his long fingers delicately sewing a button on it.
Donghyuck played the piano well, Mark had often heard him play for school events, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that his fingers were adept, but Mark was still mesmerised by their movements. Donghyuck finished sewing the button, and then reached for the other lapel, buttoning his court.
Suddenly Mark remembered his own words, that he had said to Donghyuck, and Mark seemed to be filled with an emotion he couldn't describe.
" I know I can't call you any time to pick me up for school and what-not. I will miss being around you, hyung." Donghyuck said sincerely, and Mark felt something wrong, very wrong.
Donghyuck had opened the door and had gotten out.
Mark hurriedly got out as well, going behind the younger, and tapping at his arm.
The younger turned in surprise, and before Mark could think of any reason to convince himself of otherwise, he went and hugged the boy, well no longer a boy, just Donghyuck.
Donghyuck seemed to be in surprise, as Mark’s arms were around his neck, but then, he took a breather and leaned in, resting his head on the other's shoulder. Mark reached for his back pocket, feeling a metal he had placed this morning.
He used both his hands to put the chain across Donghyuck, murmuring into his ear, about how he also had a surprise for him.
Donghyuck lifted his head up, and looked down to see the gold chain, with two suns made across a Full Sun, written in English.
Donghyuck may have had tears in his eyes, looking at it, and he gave a look conveying so much emotion to Mark, that it reminded him for the night they had met.
Suddenly, a light turned on from Donghyuck's house, and the boy froze up, nodding at something Mark couldn't see, as he made his way in, giving one last look of longing to Mark.
Mark called the younger the next day, but he hadn't picked up, and for his graduation, his parents were planning on taking a family trip nearby.
his graduation had happened mid-May and he was gone for three weeks, as his parents had managed to get an extension, and they visited Canada again.
Mark's phone could only work on the Wi-Fi, and that too, he couldn't make calls, so he would only send some irregular texts and pictures in their chats.
He had gotten gifts for all of his younger friends, but try as hard, he couldn't find the perfect gift for Donghyuck.
When Mark returned to Korea, all his friends came by to meet him, all except Donghyuck.
Mark asked about him, and they all mentioned that they hadn't heard anything from him since the year ended. The junior's activities had ended after Mark’s graduation, so it hadn't been that much of a time. Jisung mentioned something about his brother visiting from the US finally, and Mark was excited. He sent multiple messages to Donghyuck but got no reply. It had been three days now and Donghyuck’s birthday was approaching, it was infact the next day, and so far, Mark had worried himself into whether giving Donghyuck the hug was too much.
He decided it wasn't and then had proceeded to get angry at the younger. He saw the time, it was 11:59, in a minute, Donghyuck’s birthday would arrive, and Mark was feeling petty enough to not call him.
he saw the clock turn to 12:00 and felt the itch. He stared at it, counting in his head, he got as far as 45, before he picked it up, it was at 48 when, while he was just typing in the last digit on the younger's number, that the screen lit up.
It was Donghyuck, and in all this excitement, he dropped the phone. He picked it up, a second later, and then answered the call, It was almost 57, so he screamed a sudden Happy birthday.
There was silence on the other side, and Mark wondered what was happening, when the younger spoke through, in a tone Mark had never heard.
"Hyung can you pick me up. I am at the McDonald's," the younger said.
It was the very same McDonald's where they had spoken the first time, between Jaehyun's and Donghyuck’s house.
He ran out, grabbing his car keys, not even bothering to put on his shoes. He was wearing some fuzzy home slippers, but he really couldn't find himself to care.
He reached the place in record time, very glad for all the green lights at the intersections.
The shutter was down, only the yellow of the giant M indicating a figure sitting on the bench.
Mark parked his car and ran towards him, stopping when he was within a foot.
"Donghyuck?" he said, as the younger seemed wary of looking at him.
"Look up." Mark said again, repeating the first words between them.
This time the younger did, and Mark swallowed a sudden lump. Donghyuck beautiful face was bruised, his lip busted. It wasn't even the type of bruise one got from an accidental fight. Someone had repeatedly beaten Donghyuck, again and again, giving him no time to heal.
The younger had tears running down his face, some mixing with blood, and Mark worried about the tears stinging his wounds.
"what happened, Donghyuck-ah?" Mark asked, his voice comparatively lower. He wanted to either hold the younger and cry or kill whoever had done this.
"The sun isn't shining anymore, hyung." Donghyuck said, fiddling with the chain, which had somehow bended at an angle, a ruse to all the many times Mark had called him the sun.
Mark saw a big suitcase and some bags near the bench, identifying one of them as Donghyuck's satchel.
"Let's go home Donghyuck-ah." Mark said to the younger, crouching down, to get a better look at the younger.
"I don't have any, hyung" the younger said, suddenly sobbing. In all years Mark had known the younger, he had never seen him cry, and as far as he recalled from a conversation with Jaehyun, neither had the older.
He cradled the younger's face, being very careful of the open wounds, and the younger pushed himself backwards, as if burnt by the touch.
While, it did cause a tear in Mark’s chest, there were more important things to do presently.
He put all of Hyuck's luggage in his car, and then, took the younger by his sleeve, which was completely unnecessary for the weather, guiding him in his car. He drove back home, and it was quite late. His parents would ask too many questions, so he just grabbed the satchel, and asked the younger to follow behind him, motioning him to be silent. The younger had no issue with it. His parent's bedroom was on the ground flow, while his own was on the first, above the garage, and the walls were soundproof. Mark asked the younger to sit on his bed, and then grabbed a first aid kit. The younger said nothing as Mark started wiping his face, only occasionally hissing. Mark was very careful to not actually touch him, the cotton buds being the only contact.
"Hyuck are you hurt elsewhere?" Mark asked after a while. even this silence between them was not stifling. The younger turned to look at him, and there was so much pain in his eyes, that Mark was ready to wage war against whoever had hurt his Full Sun like this.
He nodded slowly, as if the act caused him a greater pain, than one on his body. Hyuck then, surprising him, put his good cheek, that is the one no bleeding on Mark’s shoulder, pressing his nose against Mark’s neck, arching his back, and despite no words spoken, Mark understood. He leaned back, lifting the younger's hoodie, seeing some more bruises. They were painful, but thankfully, not as much as the ones on his face.
The Hooddie was causing the younger to sweat as well. Mark grabbed it and lifted with both of his hands, being careful, of his bruised face.
He has had some of these thoughts, of seeing the younger like this, shirtless, not even thoughts, just ideation, as he could never allow himself to actually think that far, not when the younger was vary of his touch.
He grabbed a wet wipe and started rubbing at his back, while his arms came around his neck, as if tethering him to Mark. Mark cleaned the younger, and then declaring him to be fine enough, lent him a comfortable pair of clothes for sleepwear, going to his own washroom, as he needed a quick shower, just to sort himself out. He came back to see Hyuck lying on his bed. While they had multiple sleepovers here, they all involved zipped sleeping bags. Donghyuck was lying on his bed, albeit a bit in pain, and Mark rummaged through to find a general pain medicine. He gave it to the younger with a cracker, who without any words, took it. It was almost 2 AM right now, and Mark was wondering what to do. His own sleeping bag was downstairs and getting it would wake his parents up. It was a Saturday night; he was sure they would not be happy waking up in the middle of the night on a weekend. He was sitting on the edge, turning his alarm off, wondering what to do, when he felt the bed behind him shift.
The younger placed a hand on his shoulder, and then put his face at his back, Forehead against his neck. Mark’s skin stood up, as he could feel each breath that the younger was emitting against his own skin.
He felt the warm lips across the threadbare sleep shirt, between his shoulder blades, and heard the word, as clear as a drop of water falling in a still tub, a single word, stay.
he let the younger sleep near the wall and put up a pillow between them. he did however hold his fingers, running the pad of his thumb across the knuckles, reassuring the younger that he would indeed, stay.
The next day, Mark woke up before Donghyuck, late enough for his parents to go for an early brunch with some friends. He went down and decided to make breakfast, for the both of them. Breakfast, however, wasn't his strong suit, or any form of cooking. When Donghyuck came down, looking a bit better than he had last night, wearing Mark’s clothes, he found the elder trying to put tinder off a slice of bread.
He sheepishly smiled at the younger and let him make breakfast for both of them. Donghyuck knew his way around his kitchen better than he did.
Fifteen minutes later, they were both eating toast, though Donghyuck was having some trouble due to the busted lip. Mark got him some cereal and watched as the younger slurped it from the spoon.
After they were done, and dishes washed for good measure, they both headed to the room upstairs, and Mark put in a video game to play.
It was not the afternoon, and they were done doing everything they could, Mark had grabbed his other stuff and even made some space in the closest for the younger. He had taken the chain off, promising to get it mended.
in the lull of a Sunday afternoon, Donghyuck spoke up, "Hyung, aren't you going to ask what happened?" he turned to look at the elder, wondering what the reply would be.
Mark took a moment to phrase his words well, and then replied, "No. I will not force you to tell me something you may not be ready to share. I am curious, but I also worry, that I may end up beating whoever did it, or at least trying, haven't really beaten anyone before, except Renjun maybe." Mark said, and was glad when Hyuck let out a laugh, the words melody he had longed to hear.
then, he took a deep breath, and turned, so they were facing each other.
He put his palms out, and Mark held them, feeling, learning everything about his hands, the bumps in his finger, the occasional mole, and the design of the wrinkles, focusing on everything.
Donghyuck then told him of his childhood, of growing up with his mom, and then with a stepfather. Johnny had come from USA for 4 years, he lived with his mom after his parents divorced, but returned to stay with his dad, when she had a new job that required travel. Donghyuck’s own mother had been in an accident, and had died when he was started middle school, and Mark just held his fingers, remembering all the time he called his own mother, mom.
This was probably another reason Johnny stayed for so long, as initially it was only supposed to be a year. But he and his father had started fighting, regarding a lot of issues, including Donghyuck. His stepfather had to provide him shelter until he turned 18, and as soon as he did, he kicked him out, but not before going on a drunken stupor about how much he had wasted on him. That Donghyuck said this with very little emotion scared Mark, but a second, when Mark took his hands away, the younger got scared. He then told him how he was forbidden from touching people, being affectionate by his stepfather.
Mark put two and two together and asked if he was beaten because he was seen hugging him that night, to which Donghyuck said nothing, and Mark could only feel guilt, coursing through him as deeply as blood.
But then, the younger added, that it was also because he wanted to get married, and drop Donghyuck off at an orphanage, but Johnny was threatening to cut all contacts, and so he had relented, targeting Donghyuck instead.
When midnight, stuck, he already had his bags packed, and his stepfather only shoved him out, leading to the busted lip.
Mark moved out of his own house two month later when college stated, as his room went to Donghyuck, who wanted to be called HAechan now, as Donghyuck had too many memories he would rather not visit.
Mark’s own parents had been extremely kind, and Johnny had flown down, after hearing of the situation, volunteering to take the younger with him, though he had a year of college left, at which, to nobody, but Mark’s surprise, Hyuck help onto him, crying about how he didn't wish to be separated.
Mark had been trying his best in the past weeks to let the other get use to physical touches and affection, and it seemed to be working.
Johnny started giving a small portion of his money to the younger as a monthly expense, promising him, that he would always be his family, something he cemented by playing 11 rounds of overwatch together, until they had defeated every other team in their locality.
Mark’s college wasn't far, basically a half an hour drive from his home and his roommate was also cool, a very loud Chinese/Thai who had three names but preferred Lucas.
Freshman year in Music Production was a bit easier than being a high school senior. when September ended, they hadn't somehow seen each other since Mark's birthday, so Mark found his schedule from Jaemin, and decided to surprise him.
he picked him up at the car, and Donghyuck hugged him for a whole three minutes. His parents had gone to visit a relative over the weekend, and they were hesitant about leaving home alone, which is why Mark had decided to take up the opportunity and spend as much time possible with him.
The weekend was great, it almost felt like a date, and feelings that Mark had previously ignored, began to rise, as the younger was now extremely touchy. Indeed, Mark had woken up with him wrapped around him, not that he had any complaints.
Mark held himself back, and went back to the campus, with some small misgivings. Another weekend, his campus was having a fest, and the younger had come over, Lucas granting him permission to stay the night as long as he could get to eat his cooking. They were walking around the sidewalk, talking about the different stalls, when a group of girls approached Mark, starting to flirt with him, touch his arm, rub their faces against his shoulder, that Donghyuck felt the need to be a reckless. Growing up, he had always been very good at controlling himself, so it was an unknown feeling when he found himself, entering the flock of females, taking Mark by the chin, and dropping a light kiss on his lips. The females soon disappeared, and Mark took the younger by his hand to the dorm, asking him if it was worth it. it was the first time he had seen the older look so angry, so HAechan just told his emotions, how he couldn't digest those girls over his hyung, and Mark just repeated, two words, "your hyung", unsure if it was even a question or not, to which Donghyuck boldly nodded repeating, "My hyung"
they didn't know who moved first, but they were kissing when Lucas found then. Later, the two lieder down side by side to talk again, about everything and nothing.
They hadn't confirmed anything, what they were, what they weren’t, but they didn't need to, they just knew.
Then, senior year picked up and HAechan hardly came over, and Mark also threw himself in his course work. One day, he got a call from Lucas, and ran to his dorm to find HAechan on the door, crying.
He had seen his stepfather, and it hadn't been pretty. he had heard some mean words, and Mark just held him. Mark had woken up early, so was half asleep, when Donghyuck thanked him for always caring for him, to which, Mark abruptly woke up.
"you are my best friend." Mark said, seemingly channelling all his emotions through
HAechan just smiled, the same one that melted everything for Mark.
They had moved after that, as Donghyuck went to a university in US, to live with Johnny. At Mark's graduation, his parents had the flight tickets ready, discussing how they were planning to move back to CANADA as well, to be closer to their children.
Time flew by, and Mark was finally producing songs in the US. He had one of those glass corners office, a token of success, and all those who came in, could see a smiling picture of them both, smiling at Hyuck's high school graduation.
Haechan had gone to become a child welfare officer, caring for orphans, and in his office, which was at their home, one could see the snow globe Johnny had gotten made for them, which consisted of them both, dressed in suits at Johnny's own wedding.
It was Jeyhun, who was visiting them one day, who asked, who had said "I love you" first, and the both realized neither had ever.
For Mark, he could feel it in the comfortable silence they shared, doing their own things, their silences conveyed more love than any words could.
For Haechan, it was always in the way, he would feel when he would come Home, He had felt it for a long time, because home was not a place but Mark, had been from the time they were in school.
They both joked about meeting for the first time in the dark room, and how you could just feel it when the lights were, love, true love.