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Return of the Smack

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It’s almost too easy to find Mark Lee.

Honestly, Donghyuck doesn't really expect much from someone who clearly lacked enough brain cells to recognize a good thing when he had it, but had Donghyuck been the one to cheat on Johnny Suh while Johnny’s pet hamster was watching, forever traumatized on its wheel, Donghyuck would have at least decided to lay low for a couple of days and avoid being seen at school.

But no, Mark Lee had decided that not only did he need a venti Watermelon Shake, which had enough sugar to kill a small horse, he had also needed to get said drink from the campus café.

Donghyuck watches Mark order the pink monstrosity with a wrinkled nose before he turns to Jisung, eyes narrowed.

“Are you sure that’s Mark?”

He doesn’t quite manage to hide the skepticism from his tone.

Mark was attractive, the type that naturally drew people in if the blush staining the barista’s cheeks was anything to go by, but he looked nothing like the boys Johnny had dated before. First there had been Sehun, tall and handsome with a sharp jawline and even sharper eyebrows, and then there had been Anton, who was equally as tall and handsome, his lack of a sharp jawline compensated by his fashion sense.

Mark, to begin with, was not particularly tall.

He was handsome, but in more of an understated way than in a model type of way, the type of handsome that crept up on you slowly, until one day you were left wondering if his eyes had always been that large, his nose always that cute. Even his clothing style was suspiciously plain, his only accessory being a black Yankee cap, the pair of faded Adidas on his feet almost as sad as his taste buds.

Yes,” Jisung sulks, upset by his obvious mistrust. “Why are you even asking, though?”

“Just curious,” Donghyuck responds, and almost as if the universe senses his hesitance, the barista calls out Mark’s name, efficiently ending all of his doubt.

Donghyuck gets out of his chair, brushing nonexistent dust off of his pants.

“Meet me outside?” He asks Jisung, scooping up his bag. “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Jisung grumbles to himself but nods, and it’s only once he’s out the door that Donghyuck drops his act. For all that Jisung claimed that he was good at keeping secrets, the truth was that he was incapable of keeping anything from Chenle, and if Chenle knew something then Jaemin was bound to sniff it out, and after that it was only a matter of hours until Jeno would hear about it.

And Donghyuck had promised Jeno that he wouldn’t do something stupid.

He didn't want it getting out that he was, after all, doing something a little bit stupid.

Donghyuck fixes his gaze on Mark’s drink and pretends to fiddle with his phone while he waits for Mark to pass him, in the middle of raising his drink to his lips when Donghyuck sticks his foot out and kicks him right in the shin.

Mark yelps, and while he doesn't fall straight on his face, which had been Donghyuck's goal, he does stumble. It sends half of his drink swooshing out over his shirt and jeans, staining them in dark pink liquid, the air fragrant with the scent of artificial watermelon.

Mark looks at him with wide eyes, mouth open in shock at the unexpected assault, and Donghyuck really thinks it's a shame that he is such an asshole, because he's arguably one of the most adorable people he's ever seen.

Donghyuck clasps his hands together.

Oops,” he says, lips curled in mock remorse. “Muscle spasm. You know how it is.”

Mark gawks at him for another second, a flush creeping up his neck, his skin a bright red.

“What?” he croaks, and then clears his throat, tries to gather himself. “I mean, um. I guess?”

To Donghyuck's surprise, Mark looks more like he wants to disappear than he looks like he wants to punch him, and Donghyuck watches in bewilderment as he glances at Donghyuck another time, cheeks pink, and then does an aborted motion with his hand, a cross between a wave and something else, and then stumbles out of the café with whatever beverage that is still left in his cup, not even stopping to grab tissues.

Donghyuck blinks, thinking that he's definitely gotten rusty if the person he is trying to take revenge on doesn't even seem to know that they are getting targeted.

Jisung gazes at him with furrowed brows when he exits the café a minute later, head tilted as if he's trying to figure something out, but Donghyuck doesn't pay him any attention, already pondering what his next move should be, his first one having been an obvious failure.

As it happens, the opportunity to make Mark Lee's life a little bit more difficult falls into his lap by pure chance Tuesday night.

He's helping Taeil through an evening shift in the campus library, trying his best to make time move faster by doodling in his notebook when he catches sight of a familiar figure sitting far into the library, one hand in his hair, bent over a book.

Donghyuck pauses, wondering how long Mark had been sitting in the library without him having noticed. He was one of the few people still lingering in the building despite it being past midnight, the only other students being a group of girls that had entered the library clutching energy drinks, but Donghyuck knew that they were sitting in the silent room on the second floor.

Mark was the only one still sitting in the common area.

Donghyuck puts his notebook to the side.

It’s only the knowledge that Taeil is sleeping soundly that has him reaching for the cord connected to the speakers, disregarding the possibility that Taeil will murder him if he finds out that he is even as much as thinking about disturbing the peace of his precious library.

Donghyuck makes sure that the cord isn't connected to any speaker on the second floor before he scrolls through his playlist and presses play on the first Doja Cat song he finds, making sure that the volume is as high as possible.

“I KEEP IT JUICY, JUICY,” roars out over the silent library, and Mark jumps out of his chair in shock, his pen going sprawling to the ground, his hands flying up to cover his ears.

Donghyuck leans back in his seat and props his feet up against his counter, watching Mark flounder about before he finally spots the counter and approaches hesitantly.

He stops in his tracks once he recognizes Donghyuck, eyes wide, and licks his lips.

“Um, sorry,” he begins and raises his voice slightly to be heard over the booming speakers, “but could you please turn that down?”

“Turn what down?” Donghyuck asks, eyebrows furrowed.

In the background Doja Cat raps about liking it thick and fat.

“The song?” Mark elaborates, and then scrunches his face up. “I have an essay due tomorrow and I could really use some peace and quiet. I would be at home but my roommate kicked me out.”

“Ugh, that sucks.” Donghyuck says, pouting. “But no. Good luck, though!”

Mark gapes at him, and Donghyuck closes his eyes, humming along to the song, and signals that it's the end of the conversation. When he sneaks one of his eyes open a few seconds later, Mark is biting his lips, frustration clear as day on his face.

Mark stalks back to his seat, and Donghyuck finally understands why Johnny had probably been drawn to Mark despite his short height. Johnny had always liked teasing people, and Mark seemed like the type to make it easy, the type of person that had a smile on his face more often than a scowl.

Mark packs up his things and leaves the library, shoulders tense, and it's only when his shift has ended that he finds Mark sitting in the dark hallway outside of the library, lighting up the book he is reading with the light from his cellphone.

Donghyuck sings Juicy under his breath and doesn't feel guilty.

If Mark Lee didn’t want to struggle then he shouldn't have cheated on his favorite hyung, cute eyes and all.

 

 


 

 

It’s a week later that Donghyuck remembers that Jaehyun is about as good at keeping time as Jisung is at keeping secrets.

They’d had plans to go shopping after Donghyuck’s last lecture, Jaehyun telling him to meet him outside of the gym, but when he gets there Jaehyun is still in the shower, texting him that he’ll be out in five minutes. The five minutes turn to ten, and then Donghyuck decides that he might as well wait inside of the gym and amuse himself by looking at people flexing their muscles in the mirror.

He is sitting on the bench by the entrance when he spots a pair of faded Adidas shoes sitting pristinely on the shoe rack. They're one of the rare few still left on the rack, the rest probably sealed away in different lockers, but Mark must have clearly imagined that no one would want to steal his ratty sneakers because they are smack in the middle, not even a little bit hidden from view.

Donghyuck considers his options for a minute before he decides that he might as well go out with a bang. He knows that he won't be able to continue exacting his revenge on Mark for too long without someone catching on, without Mark calling the campus police, and honestly, at the end of the day he is doing Mark a favor by making him get a new pair of shoes.

It’s just his luck that Mark makes it out of the gym before Jaehyun.

Like before, his eyes go round when he sees him, startled by his appearance, but for the first time ever he decides to ignore him, instead turning to grab his shoes quickly.

He already has his arm outstretched when he notices that they're missing.

His eyebrows furrow, and then he spends the next minute searching for them on the rack, turning the two other shoes over to see if they’re hidden before slowly, slowly turning around.

“Have you seen a pair of white sneakers anywhere?”

Donghyuck tilts his head.

“You mean the Stan Smiths with a yellow sole?”

Mark straightens out, the set of his shoulders relaxing, and looks unfairly handsome in his blue hoodie. Definitely not Johnny’s type, Donghyuck thinks.

If he were to be anyone's, he would probably be Donghyuck’s.

“Yeah,” he says, the beginning of a relieved smile on his face. “Do you know where they are?”

Donghyuck shakes his head.

“Sorry,” he shrugs. “Have no idea.”

Mark narrows his eyes, looking at him with a wrinkled nose, like Donghyuck is a puzzle he can’t really seem to figure out.

How he is still confused whether or not Donghyuck is being sarcastic is a wonder.

“I’m sorry, have I done something to offend you?”

Donghyuck crosses his arms over his chest.

“I don’t know, have you?”

Mark pauses, looks even more confused.

“I don’t know, have I?” he asks. “I don’t remember meeting you before we ran into each other at the café.”

Donghyuck sighs and figures that he should at least warn Mark, that punishing him otherwise would be like spraying a cat with water hours after it had broken a vase. It wouldn't discourage him from being an asshole in the future, it would simply confuse him.

He doesn't want Mark running around thinking that he could break hearts left and right.

“You messed with one of my friends,” Donghyuck explains.

Mark frowns.

“Who?”

“You must be much ruder than you look if you don’t even know that.”

Mark contemplates his words for a few long seconds before he seems to reach a conclusion, gazing at him warily.

“I...Did Jungwoo set you up for this? Because I forgot what his favorite pizza was?”

“What the—No?”

Donghyuck gets up, deciding that he might as well go look for Jaehyun and escape this absolute mess of a conversation, see what was taking him so long. Then he hesitates and turns around to look at Mark once more, Mark's socks white against the black floor.

“Not that I did, but if I were to have taken your shoes they’d probably be in the bushes outside.”

Mark gawks at him, and when Donghyuck finally manages to drag Jaehyun out of the shower and out of the gym, the shoes are gone from the place he’d hid them.

The sight makes something inside of him relax, and that worries him.

He isn’t even sure why he'd told Mark where his shoes were hidden in the first place, because while his vengeance hadn't necessarily been bad, it had also been nowhere near what he usually would have done. His attempt at tormenting Mark had been splashing some juice on his shirt, playing some loud music and then hiding his shoes, practically ruining the move by telling him about it.

For once he considers himself lucky that none of his friends knew about his sad attempts to get revenge, knowing that they would accuse him of losing his touch if they did.

Mark Lee and his stupid smile and stupid face stays in his mind for the rest of the day, but Donghyuck doesn't actually see him again until he's sitting outside on the grass a few days later, soaking up the sun in between their lessons.

Mark is walking on the campus grounds, a backpack slung across his shoulder, the Yankee cap back on his head, soft hair peeking out underneath it. He must feel Donghyuck’s gaze on him because he looks up, meets his gaze.

Donghyuck raises his hand and flips him off, and Mark blanches and scurries away hurriedly, running away in the direction he came from.

When he lowers his hand, shifting his attention back to Jaemin, Jaemin’s mouth is wide open.

“Excuse me, am I going crazy or did you just gesture for Mark to go fuck himself?”

“Well, I sincerely hope so,” Donghyuck chirps, popping a grape into his mouth. “Didn’t you hear that he cheated on Johnny?”

Jaemin gapes at him.

Then he gapes some more.

“That was Mark Tuan, you asshole!” Jaemin sputters when he finally recovers. “The boy you just flipped off was Mark Lee, Renjun’s lab partner! The nicest person I’ve ever met!”

The grape drops to the floor.

Oh, fuck, Donghyuck thinks.

“Oh, fuck,” Donghyuck says.

 

 


 

 

Finding Mark Lee is surprisingly difficult.

Maybe it’s because Donghyuck has been terrorizing him for the better part of a week, but he seems to have disappeared. Donghyuck heads by the library, goes to the campus café, even wanders around the cafeteria, only to not even as much as catch a glimpse of him.

Eventually, with no other option, he turns to Renjun.

“So,” he says, clearing his throat. “Your lab partner.”

Renjun glances at him out of the corner of his eyes.

“Wow, your conversational skills have really deteriorated.”

Donghyuck ignores him.

“So like. Say that your lab partner was bullied by someone who technically didn't know that they were bullying him? And like, maybe I don't know, purely hypothetically, maybe stole his shoes? What would he want that person to do? Like, according to you?”

Renjun turns his head, gives him his full attention.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing!” Donghyuck responds, hiding a grimace behind his hand. Then he thinks better of it, knowing that Renjun is never going to buy his lie either way. “Actually, never mind, just tell me where I can find him.”

Renjun narrows his eyes for a second before he sighs, seems to decide that he’d rather not know.

“I’m not sure where he is right now, but he told me to meet him in front of the west wing a few days ago. There’s a small library on the second floor. Maybe he’s there.”

Donghyuck heads there right away, making his way up the stairs quickly, and finds Mark sitting alone by one of the small tables. He has his earphones plugged in and is humming a song to himself. He glances up when he feels someone approaching, his expression hardening when he sees that it's Donghyuck.

He stands up and makes a move to grab his things, but Donghyuck stops him before he has the chance to bolt.

“Wait!” Donghyuck says, putting his hands into the air. “I won’t do anything, promise! I’m here to apologize.”

Mark gazes at him warily but then leaves his books on the table, deciding to give him a chance.

“I owe you an explanation,” Donghyuck says, and while Mark doesn't disagree, something about him softens.

“I mean, kinda?” He says.

Donghyuck winces.

“One of my friends got cheated on and I thought you were the one he’d been dating. I only found out yesterday that I had accidentally gotten my Marks mixed up, that the person who cheated on him was Mark Tuan, not you.”

Once his words register Mark looks at him in surprise.

“Wait, Mark Tuan cheated on someone?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh,” he says, frowning. “What an asshole.”

Right?

Then Donghyuck backtracks.

“I mean, I’m really sorry for hiding your shoes and everything. I would really like making it up to you, somehow. I could buy you a drink, maybe?”

Mark contemplates his words for a moment before he nods, a small smile crossing his face.

“Alright.”

 

 


 

 

It goes like this.

Donghyuck goes to buy Mark a Watermelon Shake from the campus café, politely hiding his contempt for the drink behind a very fake smile, and thinks that things are going well until Mark chokes on his shake.

When he raises an eyebrow, Mark points a finger at something outside of the café.

“Mark Tuan.”

Donghyuck turns his head and sees a boy with bleached hair, piercings in both of his ears, a pair of Gucci loafers on his feet.

“Oh, yeah, okay,” Donghyuck says. “That definitely makes more sense.”

Mark makes a questioning noise, but Donghyuck only smiles, snorts out a laugh.

“God, I can’t believe I took revenge on someone who wasn’t even him. Johnny would kill me.”

Mark lowers his drink from his mouth.

“Johnny Suh?” He asks, his eyebrows raised. “Nice, tall, likes coffee?”

“That's the one.”

Mark gets something contemplative in his eyes.

“You know...I kind of have an idea.”

They end up dialing a pizza delivery service, Mark's horrible imitation of a much deeper voice leaving Donghyuck struggling not to burst into laughter. Then they wait fifteen minutes, exiting the small café and stopping a calculated distance away from Mark Tuan and his friends, witnessing first-hand how the pizza man pulls up, loudly requesting for a Mark Tuan to step forward.

They see the frown, the confusion that crosses Mark Tuan's face, the way the pizza man's demeanor quickly sours. There are a lot of angry gestures, what sounds like a threat to call the police, and then the pizza man digs out his phone, raises it to his ears. A second later Mark's phone starts ringing, the piercing noise of the ringtone audible to Mark Tuan and the rest of his friends because they all look their way.

“Oh, shit,” Mark swears, and it's the very same second Donghyuck realizes that it's the pizza man calling, that they'd forgotten to hide Mark's number. They look at each other in panic, and then they are grabbing onto each other's arms, stumbling away from a Mark Tuan yelling at them in outrage.

They run and run and somewhere between dodging baffled students and annoyed professors alike, they both begin to laugh, the sort of laughter that leaves Donghyuck's stomach with a pleasant sort of ache, leaves his cheeks sore.

Mark pulls him behind a building, his eyes bright, the laughter spilling from his lips as pretty as his smile. It leaves Donghyuck breathless for a reason that doesn't entirely have to do with the lack of oxygen in his lungs, his heart racing a mile a minute inside of his chest.

“Looks like I’m going to have to get you another drink,” Donghyuck says, the cup Mark is still clutching in his hands glaringly empty.

Mark laughs, his eyes twinkling.

“How about we make it dinner?” He asks, and Donghyuck tries and fails to stop a blush from creeping up his neck.

“Sounds like a plan.”