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our secrets lay bare

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          “How are you suddenly so close to Taeil Hyung?” Mark asks offhandedly, albeit a bit bitterly.

“How are you suddenly so close to Jungwoo Hyung?” Donghyuck shoots back, less out of the same bitter emotion Mark could taste on his tongue and more out of pure spite. He always has to have his way in the end. Always has to have the last word.

Mark drops the topic then, fearing he would go overboard and his true emotions would seep through for Donghyuck to notice. He may not look like it but Donghyuck is pretty smart at observing people’s feelings. Though, he doesn’t talk about it much, that’s not because he doesn’t know how to but because he doesn’t want to.

It goes silent in the room. Mark thinks of leaving, but what could he say if Donghyuck asks why he’d leave his own room? He has never been a good liar, especially not in the face of a certain boy who’s known him for years on end.

“Are you jealous of me?” Donghyuck mumbles from on the bed. When Mark looks back right after schooling his expression into impassiveness, all he sees is Donghyuck still focused on the game he’s playing on his phone. Mark turns back to his computer. And then, Donghyuck says, “You are.”

“Why would I be?” Mark asks with a scoff.

He would be for many reasons. He’s off working for Super M and all he wants is to come back home, have some time for himself, have some time to talk to his best friend, joke around and banter a little. He wants to be able to play some games with his best friend, and write a song together. He just misses home, he misses his Mom. He misses home and his best friend is the closest he gets to feeling like home.

Mark abandons his computer, springing up from his chair to make his way to his bed where Donghyuck is laying in comfort. He first puts a knee on the bed to climb on it, then he slides closer, and then he circles his arms around Donghyuck. He lays there, pressed up against Donghyuck, head resting on his best friend’s shoulder.

The sound of gunshots from Donghyuck’s game suddenly cuts off. Silence rings about in the room, only filled with Mark’s soft breathing, and a second later, Donghyuck’s heavy sigh. Mark’s heart does a flip, and there are butterflies fluttering around in him, but all he does is pull Donghyuck closer. He misses home, he misses this, he misses his best friend, and he doesn’t want anyone taking his best friend away.

“I’m not jealous of you, Donghyuck, I’m jealous of him.”

Mark isn’t worried Donghyuck would figure out he’s in love. He’s always been like this. When schedules are hard, when there’s barely time for himself in between, Mark tends to soften up drastically. The first time it happened, the first time Mark had wanted a hug from specifically Donghyuck, the latter was surprised.

They’ve been best friends for years but Mark has never been that clingy and touchy to him. Mark loves hugs and he loves being babied or babying someone, but it’s always different when it comes to Donghyuck.

“What is this? A confession?” Donghyuck mocks a shocked gasp.

Despite his words, he shifts a little on his side to be able to face Mark. The latter feels relieved when Donghyuck reciprocates the action, cuddling him back. Mark feels Donghyuck’s breath on the top of his head, the heat undeniably a source of comfort that Mark seeks.

Donghyuck lives for physical touch. He needs validation, he needs reassurance, and he needs it through physical touch. He’s not afraid to admit it, he’s never afraid to openly hug the rest, land kisses on them, never afraid to hold their hands. They all let him but not Mark.

Mark has a secret.

Meanwhile, Mark likes physical touch. He’s not opposed to it. He even initiates it sometimes. He’s afraid to admit it, however, because that's an invitation for Donghyuck to do whatever he wants when the cameras are still rolling. He can’t let that happen, or he’d touch back. He’d reach back, expose himself, and that’s a can of worms he could not afford to spill.

Mark has a secret. And his secret consists of a beautiful boy who smiles like the universe owes him a favour, of his best friend who laughs so openly, never afraid of expressing himself. His secret is that he likes to watch the beauty that is his best friend on days where he’s feeling down, only to cheer up when his best friend catches him staring and makes him the next target to tease.

Mark’s secret is that he dreams of eyes that sparkle as they watch a crowd of fans cheer for them. His secret is that it hurts to be away from Donghyuck, but it pains him even more when he’s right next to Donghyuck. When his best friend is just one tug away from being in his arms, and Mark is one kiss away from relenting to the unnatural skips in his heartbeat.

“Do you want to know a secret?” Donghyuck asks, tone suddenly cheerful.

“What?” Mark entertains him, a small smile making its way up to his lips without him even realising.

“I missed you.” Donghyuck pinches Mark’s cheeks, cooing.

Mark considers swatting Donghyuck’s hands away, but when he sees how happy his best friend is, Mark leaves him alone. Donghyuck is always happy to receive his cuddles, although they’re rare.

Through a handful of his cheek bunched up on both sides, Mark murmurs a soft, “I… I missed you, too.”

Donghyuck chokes on laughter, trying to breathe right as he teases Mark’s bashfulness. He mistakes Mark’s hesitance as a sign of unwillingness.

For a second there, Mark considers telling Donghyuck a secret. For a brief moment there, Mark considers leaning in. He considers if confessing to Donghyuck is worth jeopardizing his career, his life, and he realises that yes, Donghyuck is worth that and more. But confessing to Donghyuck isn’t worth the risk of losing his friendship with Donghyuck, of losing Donghyuck altogether.

 

 

          Mark knows how much Donghyuck has done, is doing, and will do for him. He returns home after a recording session for Super M one day and somehow, just somehow, he’d gotten a slight cough. Only Yuta was awake, so Mark greeted him with a low grunt. Mark enters his bedroom only to see Donghyuck lounging around his bed.

Mark doesn’t say anything. He drops his bag, takes off his cap, his shirt and pulls on his pajamas. Donghyuck scoots further into the bed to make space for him but freezes when Mark spasms as a result of a fit of cough.

“Sorry.” Mark takes Donghyuck’s peculiar gaze as one of disgust. That would be the usual reaction.

Donghyuck doesn’t respond. He climbs off the bed and disappears out the door. Mark doesn’t mind, knowing just how fragile their bodies as idols are. They can’t afford to get sick ever. It’s a rule engraved into their bones. He wouldn’t want Donghyuck to fall sick because of him either.

Mark wraps himself with his blanket, getting cozy under the covers, assuming that Donghyuck is gone for good. He finds out just how wrong he is when Donghyuck pushes his bedroom door open once again, this time emerging with a cup of tea.

“Markery, it’s honey tea.” Donghyuck calls out in a sweet tone.

“For me?” Mark sits up in bed, blinking in surprise. “I thought you left.”

“What kind of best friend would I be if I left you like this?”

Mine. No matter what kind of best friend Donghyuck is, he’ll always be his best friend. That single thought cheers Mark up, has him smiling from ear to ear as he takes a sip of the piping hot honey tea.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Donghyuck suddenly whispers, as if his secret is one that would jeopardize the safety of the world. “I used Jaehyun Hyung’s last teabag.”

Mark laughs out loud, the cup of tea in his hand shaking around, getting close to spilling. Donghyuck takes the cup and sets it down on his bedside table. With a proud smile, Donghyuck pinches Mark’s cheeks. He coos, telling him how proud he is that Mark was chosen as one of the faces of a super group meant to take over the world.

“Hey, Donghyuck, can I tell you a secret?” Mark fiddles with his own fingers, looking down at them as if he’s even afraid of meeting eyes with his best friend.

A million I-love-you’s immediately pushes through from the back of his brain to the very front. Mark pauses for a moment, looking right into Donghyuck’s impatient gaze. Mark loves him so much. Too much.

“Spit it out,” Donghyuck blurts out.

But even with that, Mark fears the thought of losing his best friend.

“You just made my day.” Mark smiles wide, watching Donghyuck’s reaction to his words.

To his surprise, Donghyuck doesn’t tease him or retort back with something witty. What Donghyuck does is he brushes Mark’s long bangs back with a small smile and leaves it at that.

Only after Donghyuck leaves—not forgetting to promise to kick Mark’s ass if he’s still sick the next day—does Mark realise that his best friend had waited the whole day and even stayed up this late for Mark to come home.

Mark has a secret, and it’s getting extremely difficult for him to hold it back. It’s getting extremely difficult for him to ignore the way he wants to blurt out the confession and deal with the aftermath later on. He loves Donghyuck so much and he wants Donghyuck to know.

 

 

 

          It’s easy to forget just how much he actually loves his best friend when they’re having one of their usual movie nights together, because Donghyuck always shows the same amount of love he has for Mark back.

Mark had been late because the company called him back for something regarding Super M again, and it turned out to be about a tour around America. That set Mark off.

He’d be performing with his Hyungs and his idols, he should be excited. Something about that tour, however, made him feel uneasy. He caught the look Baekhyun and Kai shared, the indifferent look of acknowledgement from Taemin and Ten, the excited beam from Lucas, and even the attempts of a meaningful look to be shared with him by Taeyong. Mark doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

He gets into the van driving both him and Taeyong back home, sighing as he takes a seat. Mark pretends to go to sleep, pretends that he can’t hear anything over the music in his earpieces. Luckily, Taeyong doesn’t bother him at all, leaving him to wallow in self-angst alone.

Once at home, Mark makes his way into his room almost immediately and is taken aback to see Donghyuck on his bed, a computer balanced on his lap while packets of different snacks surround him. Then he remembers it’s movie night and that it was supposed to be four hours ago. Guilt worms its way up his throat.

“Finally! You said you wanted to watch an action movie, right? But I think we should watch this movie I picked out. It’s really chill and poetic.” Donghyuck scoots over to make space for Mark, patting the space next to him with a bright smile on his face. He doesn’t seem mad at all.

“Yeah, I wasn’t in the mood for action anyway.” Mark combs his hair back with his fingers, laying down next to Donghyuck before propping his back up to lean against the headboard. “Sorry I’m late.”

“It’s fine,” Donghyuck waves Mark’s apology away right as he presses the play button. “At least you’re here.”

The movie starts off quiet, mellow, and Mark could already see where the chill and poetic part of it comes to play. At some point, Donghyuck scoots closer to the warmth Mark radiates, a delighted sigh escaping him when Mark doesn’t push him away. The movie continues to be quiet and mellow, and something about it comforts him. It’s almost as if there’s a secret somewhere lying deep within the narration of the main character’s voiceover, beyond the beautiful unrealistic artwork hidden in a movie based on realism.

“Isn’t this our first animated film we’ve watched together?” Donghyuck asks, his voice, although normally loud, blends in perfectly with the benign atmosphere.

“Yeah,” Mark responds. Belatedly, he realises he’s whispering.

“It’s good, isn’t it?” Another whisper.

The door is closed, the other members are minding their own business, and they know better than to interrupt Donghyuck and Mark’s movie nights, but they still whisper amongst each other as if they’re talking about their deepest secrets. Mark likes the silence they share after every small talk, he enjoys it.

It’s the type of silence that’s so loud you can’t even say anything. It’s as if Mark can hear Donghyuck’s racing thoughts, and Donghyuck can hear his. And maybe Donghyuck can. Maybe he can hear Mark screaming all the secrets he’s forcefully shoved down to the deepest, darkest corner of his mind, all the confessions, the times he found Donghyuck inexplicably beautiful. Maybe that is what pushes Donghyuck to take Mark’s hand and holds it in his.

Mark pays attention to the movie, to the flowing cherry blossoms filling the screen with pink and green, and white and tears. As he does so, as he appreciates the beauty in the animation, Donghyuck intertwines their fingers together, knowing that Mark lets him do as much as he wants when the cameras aren’t rolling.

He caresses the back of Mark’s palm with his thumb, making the older one feel all sorts of things. Mark lifts their joined hands closer to his face before landing a sweet kiss on the back of Donghyuck’s hands.

It’s not normal, but it’s not abnormal. There’s an unspoken sentence there, a whisper of an “I love you” ringing about in the silence, a thought Mark has whenever Donghyuck makes him laugh, whenever Donghyuck smiles his way. And it’s a secret Mark vowed to never tell Donghyuck, but it’s also a secret Mark knows Donghyuck would willingly accept.

A secret that their friendship stands on because Mark knows, somewhere in between cuddles and hand-holding, in between movie nights and soft whispers, that they’re more than that. They're more than just a pair of best friends, but that's a secret Mark knows he and Donghyuck could never afford to admit.