His mouth is the one coming up with the idea. And he doesn't mean anything by it: just an excuse he blurts out, without thinking it through — something that'll let him off the hook, and allow him easy access to a well-deserved shower and rest.
Really: he means for it to be a one time thing. Nothing less — definitely not more.
'Where were you?' Dongyoung asks. Bathing in the pastel orange of the night light, Mark briefly thinks he looks heavenly.
(His mind shuts down, and doesn't know what to reply. Obviously, I was trying to stop Demonyac from robbing a bank will not do.)
He opens his mouth. Shuts it. Frowns. He's about to be in trouble.
'I…' he starts. 'The boxing club.'
Dongyoung lifts an eyebrow — tilts his head, and his lips become a thin line.
The rest is history.
The gondeure-bap Dongyoung made is heavenly, and Mark feels guiltier with each bite he takes — he lets YoungWave take the remaining third shame won't allow him to eat, twirls the pink post-it Dongyoung added to the meal while loud chews break the silence.
(Good luck on today's lesson! Kick everyone's asses ^___^)
'You know, you're kind of really hecking lucky.'
YoungWave swallows his bite, pats his stomach lovingly. Continues,
'Your roommate makes the best food on Earth. I'm envious, man.'
All I get is burnt chicken and take-out, he mumbles to himself — and to their left, Pome hisses.
(An argument follows, and Mark pays no attention to it. Dongyoung's handwriting is clean, pretty — his words are gentle, and they tug at his heart, embrace a lie he did not mean.)
'YoungWave's right.' Pome fetches Mark from the spiral of his thoughts, gives him a smile when their gazes meet. 'You're really lucky. Your roommate's neat.'
And it's true, Pome is right: Dongyoung is the greatest. He's kind, considerate, and understanding. He respects boundaries, and never crosses them. He's…
'He's cool, yeah.' (The admission hurts, just a little, and Mark leans back, curls up against the chimney of the roof they're sitting on.) 'I don't deserve him at all.'
I breach his trust every day, he thinks to himself, feels stupid for not being able to admit it out loud. Does, then — but he's not sure the words being out in the open does anything for him.
'Aw, come on.' YoungWave gives his leg a slap, pulls him to his side. He's tall, lanky; warm and caring — very alike Dongyoung, and yet not at all like him, an entirely different world. Mark rests his head on his shoulder, pouts.
'I just feel bad. He doesn't deserve to be living a lie.'
'But he isn't.' Pome pats his other leg, and shoves a mini-muffin in his mouth. Continues, mouth full, 'He jujt doejn't kmow about your jicret identity. And what awout it! Not everyowe haj to kmow. It'j cool. Don’t schwea' it.'
But that's the thing: Dongyoung deserves to know. To Mark, two years spent by one's side does not mean nothing — especially when you're a vigilante, and the one by your side is patching you up without any question. (Especially when he makes food for you when you leave for missions he knows nothing about, and even takes the time to add an uplifting note to each meal. When he makes sure not to wake you on Saturdays, because they’re your only day off. When he helps you out with homework, even though he has his own mountain waiting for him in his room, and brushes it off with a it ' s normal, you were struggling. When he’s here to welcome you home, at ass o’clock in the morning, because he was worried, and wanted to make sure you made it okay.)
(Mark winces at the much-too-recent memory, shakes his head.) (He wishes he had some courage, weren’t so pathetic.)
I have to tell him, he opens his mouth to say — but suddenly YoungWave leans forward, gazing at the horizon. Mark follows his gaze — recognises a familiar combo of red and black
and Pome follows, snickers.
'Well, well, well,' he whispers, putting his gloves back on, unzipping a bit of the sky (giving Mark a terrifying glimpse of Hell, making him turn back to 2Y before he gets sick). 'Look who showed up.’
Break's over, he announces — swiftly getting to his feet, stepping into a portal he just created — leaving Mark and YoungWave hanging, staring as 2Y fixes his newest bomb to the door of the library.
'Well,' YoungWave finally snaps back — heads to the fire escape. 'The goal is to arrest him before he blows things up, isn't it?'
And Mark sighs — shoves the pink post-it in his pocket, and puts his mask on — kicks the asphalt beneath his feet, and forgets about his worries for the time being.
The door shuts behind him with a loud BEEP, and he rests his head against the wall — inhales, exhales, takes in the scent of home, and closes his eyes — believes he might just fall asleep there, and it wouldn't matter much if he did.
A door opening; rustling — footsteps stopping before him; his backpack being moved around; his shoes put in their usual spot.
'Tough round at the club?'
Mark opens his eyes. Tonight, Dongyoung is even more angelic than he usually is — he's drowning in his pajamas, and he looks at Mark as if he were a fragile animal: ready to care for him, to listen to him (to lies, and nothing else).
Mark sighs. Almost wants to cry. There is no way he can be honest tonight.
'Awful,' he finally croaks out. Doesn't have the strength to say more — his fight with Dolph1n has left him faint, and he only seeks solace
(Dongyoung extends a hand.)
'Come. I'll patch you up.'
(He takes it, without hesitation.)
Of course, he finds it here.
Dongyoung is kind, impossibly so. Kinder than any upperclassman one could ever dream of — placing others first, never once backing down when he has to protect them — putting himself last, probably (definitely) forgetting he's the center of his own world.
He's angelic, Mark believes — gentle with people who struggle, tender with the ones who hurt — warm with anyone who comes for help, and forgiving with the ones who do not, who are ashamed of their mistakes. He is firm, but gentle — sometimes pushy, but only so that people learn to acknowledge their worth. He respects others, even if it comes at his own detriment — once again, puts himself last, and has Mark wondering if anyone has ever put him first.
'You look like shit,' Dongyoung smiles as Mark comes out of his room — curled up on his side of the couch, watching a drama whose name Mark cannot remember — khaki tee-shirt embracing his skin tone and tenderly making it stand out; round glasses making him look… cheekier, cuter.
Mark runs a hand through his hair, feels the few bumps his fight against Champion earned him — knows he looks awful, has seen his bruised reflection in the mirror.
'Sorry for the sight,' he says — means it, really.
'What are you talking about,' Dongyoung pauses his drama, pats the seat next to him — silently requesting Mark to join him, probably planning to hug him until he feels better. Heaven — hell: it will never rid Mark of his growing guilt.
(But he still obeys.)
'And you didn't tell him?'
TY-Cat neatly folds the paper bag containing his cookies — places it on his lap, and turns to Mark. His eyes are a dark brown, this time — they watch him intently, give Mark the sensation he's being listened to, understood.
(Naturally: the words come out much more easily.)
'I can't find the right moment, or the right way to say it. It's… I try, I really do, but when the time is perfect, it's like the words get stuck, and I… I…'
'You get scared of his reaction? Of ruining the moment?'
TY-Cat hums in understanding — stays silent, for a while; has Mark believing opening up wasn't worth it — but then he speaks, quietly, gentle,
'I get what you mean. I was the same with my first flatmate. He was… very sweet whenever I came home late, and he never once asked me why I was beaten up. The only times he'd probe, I'd lie, and it felt… awful. I never did well if it happened before a fight.'
Mark smiles bitterly at the words, understands them all too well. Though he's learnt to do his very best at any time, there are moments during which he thinks of Dongyoung — during which he can think of nothing but the guilt slowly devouring him — during which his mind and heart fail him, and he can do nothing but hang his head low.
Failures, not on the job but in real life — things that cut deeper, and last longer.
'What did you do?' Mark asks.
TY-Cat gives him a smile, and Mark Knows, without even being told.
'What do you think I did? Nothing.' TY-Cat rubs his half-masked face — suddenly looks very, Very tired. 'I never got the guts to tell him, and we went our separate ways. I regret it, deeply.'
Mark reaches out, gives his shoulder a squeeze — cannot do anything else but smile sadly, hope his empathy is enough to comfort TY-Cat.
(It is: TY-Cat lays his hand on his, smiles back — whispers,)
'I won't advise you to tell him, because that would be pure wish-fulfillment. And though I believe it is the right thing to do, only you can truly know that. Can you trust him? Do you believe being with him matters more than your secret identity? Ask yourself these. Give them objective answers. Then take a decision. Sometimes the 'right' decision stands out amongst everything else. Sometimes it does not. But however it may go, the choice is up to you. And it is what you do with this ability that defines what follows.'
(A siren echoes in the background, and TY-Cat perks up — he rises,
and Mark pictures Dongyoung on the couch, napping a boring drama away - pictures him in his bed, relaxing before studying - by the fridge, looking for something to add to the meal he's preparing - by his desk, or their shelf, or in the bathroom, looking for something he Really needs - everywhere in the apartment, in Mark's surroundings — in every corner of the place they've been sharing, nearby or around, at his side no matter what — asking him how his fights went; caring about him, always.)
(He follows TY-Cat.)
He'll tell him tonight.
'You're really funny, sometimes, you know,' Dongyoung mutters. Sitting next to Mark on the couch, he leans against him, stifles what remains of his laughter in his hand.
Mark smiles, thinks of the million things he should say — opts for a cocky I know, and closes his eyes.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow sounds better.
It has never been this bad. Sure, they've had their fair share of trouble (a circus on fire; citizens taken hostage on a restaurant's opening; 02Guy attempting to mind-control an entire camping), but it has never been -
'Rite! Wave! Fight him off for a few more minutes!!'
(Mark is thrown to the ground, and believes he feels every bone in his body break — he gets up slowly, too slowly, and watches YoungWave receive the same treatment.)
(It has truly never been this bad.)
'Is this all you kids can do?'
SoundMax laughs — loud, ugly, vaudevillesque. He destroys the force field YoungWave throws at him as if it were nothing — has Mark wondering if they can even make it. If even YoungWave's strongest force fields do not work, how will they take SoundMax down?
'Rite! Rite, I see you. Rite, get up!'
Mark knows Pome means well — knows, without looking, that the strength he's allowing Hell to lend him will leave him bedridden for days —
But still, he can't help thinking, how unfair is it that he has to take all the blows, and fight so Pome and Granate can finish SoundMax off? How unfair is it,
'Take that!' (YoungWave is back on the floor in a mere snap of fingers, and he does not budge. At all.)
that they're risking their lives, hoping that the messiah will come before they eventually lose it all?
'Wave,' Mark calls, rising from the ground. 'Wave, can you hear me?'
YoungWave… shifts, slightly. Coughs — and even from afar, Mark can tell - he's bleeding.
'Pome!' he yells, and he starts seeing red, starts losing it. 'Pome, he's- he's dying!'
'Then help him out!' Pome yells right back. 'Do something!'
How dare you, Mark turns to roar, shaking — briefly forgetting all about SoundMax, blinded by the rage the situation is sowing in his chest —
but then he sees them, and he freezes — understands.
Small Pome, bent over the floor, bleeding from his nose, his fingertips — embraced by the void, and a dozen decaying bodies. Granate, hands on each side of his skull, black liquid leaking from his eyes, his mouth — dripping from the gaping hole in his stomach, from which a black beast is emerging.
'It's a matter of seconds, now,' Pome begs, 'Rite, please. We'll be ready soon.'
I'm not letting any of you die, he whispers, but the wind picks it up, and Mark hears it — gorges himself on how awful Pome sounds, and lets it fuel him — turns back to face SoundMax, and summons all he knows, all he's been doing — makes fists of his hands, and
'Really? I don't think so.'
In a flash, SoundMax is before him, covering the sun entirely. Throwing him to the ground, at his feet — allowing him to stare up at Death, as she reaches out for him.
And isn't it heavenly? The shadows, welcoming him home — the ground, opening its arms to his carcass. The sun, peeking through a hole in SoundMax's armour and granting his chest warmth, granting his eyes one last light before he dies.
'Rite! Pome, no!'
His friends' screams, and SoundMax's laughter — the thought that he's failed his mission, and that if Dongyoung knew, he would be utterly disappointed.
'Let me, let me! Rite, for the love of fucking god! Coward! This is where you give up kicking asses?'
SoundMax moving, and handing Mark back to the void — filling his vision with bright pink, and a neat, careful handwriting. A face painted with worry, and fresh hands, carefully fixing wounds, holding him as if he were porcelain.
(This club is really bad for you, you know that?)
Unaware speeches, and unaware preparations for a pile of lies — unaware comfort after heavy days, and unaware reassurance, warmth, granted selflessly.
(Mark, are you okay?)
Death isn't heavenly: it is cursing Mark to a lie he never unraveled, a promise he could never keep — it is shadows covering the small patch of sunlight, and swallowing it whole. It is letting Dongyoung down, and leaving him on his own, alone, confused until his own time comes. It is allowing regrets in, when from the very start, he knew -
Dongyoung is to be told.
Far ahead, far down, kilometres around — a growl shakes the earth, and triggers fear in Mark's heart.
It triggers comfort, and Mark opens eyes he'd closed — he Sees, and suggests to SoundMax, moments before he's done, to go fuck himself.
The rest is history.
He doesn't mean to fall in Dongyoung's arms. He doesn't mean to stumble into the apartment, or crash into his room. And he'll blame it on the ride through Hell's portals, later on, and Dongyoung, of course, will never once remember this with a sour heart —
But Mark doesn't mean it, at all.
(And yet: he does it. He slams the door of Dongyoung's room open, and runs to him — pulls him into a hug before Dongyoung can even speak, and -
'Mark, Mark. Mark, are you okay? Did something happen?'
It's then, that it occurs to Mark he's still wearing his suit — that he's dirty, and hugging him is probably the last thing Dongyoung deserves. He did not mean it. And yet: Dongyoung does not pull back.
(So he cries harder.)
'I'm so sorry,' he sobs, 'I'm so fucking sorry.'
All Dongyoung does is hug him harder, and whisper why?
(And his embrace is nice — briefly, Mark thinks he doesn't want to ruin the moment.)
(But the moment itself is him revealing his identity, isn't it?)
He breathes in, as much air as he can.
'I've been lying to you,' he says. 'I've been lying to you all this time. There's no… no boxing club. It's all a cover.'
I've been, he starts, but the sentence is stupid, and his voice breaks — Dongyoung hugs him tighter.
(Strokes the back of his head, then, and laughs, gently, a puff of air against Mark's neck.)
'You've been saving the world? Yeah, don't worry. I know. It's okay.'
And he repeats it a thousand times, a million it's okay as he holds Mark in his arms, as he lets him go — as he hugs him again, and comforts him, erases all glimpse Mark has had of death.
'It's okay,' he says, for the nth time.
And drowning in a familiar scent, in a familiar embrace — in a place he wished to truly call home — Mark believes him.
('But wait, how did you…?'
Dongyoung smiles, and tenderly ruffles his hair.
'Oh, you know...'
It turns out his tale is history, too.)