Donghyuck has yet to enter his dorm room, has not even tapped the keycard yet, just holding it an inch from the sensor like a tease, but his face has already reddened. The door handle winks with the hallway's intense lighting. Donghyuck wishes its rays are strong enough to pierce holes through the door so he can peep at what's going on behind it.
"Okay!" Donghyuck whispers.
He hops in place, his backpack bouncing along, and shakes his arms. Then a boxer shuffle, punching the butterflies away in the air. Finally, with a swift motion of his hand, Donghyuck runs the keycard. The sensor blinks red with a beep. He grips the door lever, pushes down, and immediately, the click of the door unlocking resounds. Now that has alerted Mark of his arrival. Mark's in there right now, for sure.
Donghyuck hasn't seen him since the night before yesterday. The morning after, Donghyuck woke up alone, heated the kimchi fried rice left overnight in the mini fridge between their desks, went to uni, blah blah. He got home earlier than Mark, then lay motionless under the comforter as soon as the door unlocked. He remained still while listening to Mark's movements, anticipating the snap of the light switch. Even in the dark, he stayed frozen, wide awake, wondering if Mark was asleep or watching another YouTube video. Today, Donghyuck awakened at noon, ate a sunny side-up with rice on his desk, and for the first time felt a desire to never leave the campus.
But he's here, arriving much later than Mark.
Donghyuck thrusts the door, but only manages to open it a little, when he hesitates. Bright and crisp plucking of an acoustic guitar shudders from inside. Mark's playing. Of course he is. Donghyuck pulls up his hoodie. Conceal don't feel!
Donghyuck enters. Almost halted. He pays attention as he removes his classic Converse, slips his socked feet into his slippers, and places his shoes next to another pair of classic Converse—Mark's. Mark is supposed to drift into the chorus by now, instead he sweeps back to the intro. He's playing fingerstyle. Honesty by Pink Sweats. Not Donghyuck's jam at first, though.
Funny. That's how he described Mark when his friends asked about his roommate three years ago.
"Not my jam?" Jeno repeated from the other end of the line, voice crunchy on speakerphone.
"Wow," Jaemin exclaimed.
It was the first week of classes and Donghyuck had arrived earlier than Mark. He took advantage of his alone time by organizing his side of the room while on a conference call with his friends, phone left on his desk as he moved around.
"Why!" Renjun said.
Donghyuck studied Mark's bed. Dorm-provided pillow, askew. Acoustic guitar in the middle of the ruffle. He remembered their first meeting: Mark was testing the bed, pressing his palms on it when Donghyuck came in. Mark faced him with a smile resembling a smirk. "What's up, man," he said, holding out a hand. "Um. You must be my roommate. My name's Mark Lee."
"What did the poor guy do to you," Renjun was saying.
Donghyuck whined, "He's competing against my handsomeness!"
"Eh?" That was Jeno.
Jaemin said, "Oh. So you think he's handsome." To which Renjun and Jeno reacted with much amusement.
A black t-shirt was hanging on the backrest of Mark's desk chair. Donghyuck had simply called it The T-shirt. "Handsome and kind," Donghyuck said, picking up his phone from his desk. He recalled how that black t-shirt had outlined Mark's torso, then added, "And hot. What the fuck!"
During their first year as roommates, Donghyuck often heard Honesty from Mark, humming or mumbling. When Mark was on his chair, legs bouncing and spread apart, deep in thought. When Mark was bent over his drawer, digging for a shirt. When Mark was on his bed, phone over his face, t-shirt exposing a peek of skin. When they were stealing furtive glances from their own beds, doing whatever while pretending they didn't just caught each other's eyes for a heart-fluttering second.
Then Donghyuck heard Mark murmuring snips of Honesty's pre-chorus, Would you come in after me, before taking in a spoonful of kimchi fried rice Donghyuck had made himself. He had noticed Mark's usual dinner: a single instant cup of ramen. So one evening he offered to share his meal.
"I can't even fry an egg, man," Mark sheepishly told him as they emptied the bowl they shared, cross-legged on the floor.
"Want me to teach you?" Donghyuck licked his spoon clean.
Mark stared at him, then said, "Dude, really? You'd do that?"
On an arranged date, they met at the dormitory kitchen. Donghyuck hovered behind Mark most of the time. Once or twice, Donghyuck held the back of Mark's hand to assist him. It was sweltering in the kitchen, and so was Donghyuck, from the fumes and from Mark's body heat.
Donghyuck stumbled upon Mark days later in the kitchen, frying eggs as he sang: I want you, I want you.
Eventually Donghyuck listened to the song of his own accord. Put it on repeat, but only with his earphones on, an intimate whisper he'd rather keep to himself. Stuck in his mind, until he began unconsciously humming and singing traces of it like a slow reveal of a flustering secret.
Mark caught Donghyuck's breathy What if I dive deep in front of the bathroom once as they brushed past each other.
"Yo," Mark said.
Donghyuck blinked at him, then groaned. "It's because of you!"
Donghyuck has dived deep into the song. Plopped and sent ripples.
Even deeper that day almost two years ago, when Donghyuck was perched on his bed, hugging his bolster where his chin had rested upon, mindlessly scrolling through his phone, attentively taking in the sharp, but gentle trembling of guitar strings. Mark was sitting on his bed, face concealed under his hoodie, plucking to Honesty's intro. He sang.
The bulb's yellow glow overhead warmed them like the sunshine during the hottest time of the day. Donghyuck sank into the bolster, nuzzled his face against it. Warm, warm, warm. Mark dropped an octave lower at the pre-chorus. Donghyuck lifted his head, gaze down, and sang in unison, an octave higher—Would you share your flaws with me? Let me know. He sensed Mark's surprise, but they kept going, until Mark stopped. Donghyuck looked up to see if something was wrong, only to find Mark gaping at him, astonished. They watched each other's lips form a smile. Then they theatrically climbed into a falsetto to the chorus. After which, they laughed, and Mark, with the headstock of his guitar, pointed at the space beside him. So they sat side by side on Mark's bed, and sang together.
Donghyuck straightens up upon realizing he has been staring at Mark's converse. Amazing. He swiftly scuffs past the bathroom to his left, and instantly reaches his single-door closet to his right where the room begins to brighten and to mirror itself: closets across each other, beds, wall-mounted shelves above their beds, desks.
Donghyuck falters, attempting a smooth turn to the direction of his bed. Mark's chair is facing the rest of the room, back against the window draped in basic white curtains. Sitting on it is Mark, shirtless.
Nothing new. He's like that most times. Playing his guitar barechested. Donghyuck blushes. He has caught a glimpse of the usual: Mark's head lowered, bobbing; Mark tapping a heel against his slipper, causing his leg and the hem of his favorite basketball shorts to jiggle. Donghyuck need not take another glance. He has memorized the wide expanse of Mark's shoulders over his guitar. Mark's not ripped, but toned enough. Donghyuck knows what that guitar is blocking.
Mark intimates an unvoiced acknowledgement of Donghyuck's presence by pausing for a second, before resuming. Surely he did not stop to recall the following chord. Donghyuck's sure.
Okay! Donghyuck drops his backpack on his bed and removes his hoodie. He brushes his hair, and does it again, raking his fingers through it. Is Mark looking? One sleeve of Donghyuck's t-shirt has rolled up, exposing an arm, which he squeezes first before unrolling the sleeve. He flings his hoodie across his bed.
Mark stops. Knuckles rap against the guitar's wood. One, two, three. Mark starts playing again. Same song. From the top. Fingerstyle still.
Donghyuck grabs a towel from the closet. From the drawer beneath, he yanks the first thing he sees: a red and white striped shirt and red boxer shorts. Ah. Mark likes this one the most. It grasps the upper half of Donghyuck's ass relatively nicely, and its somewhat flowy hem opens sweepingly for his legs. He has caught Mark's gaze glued on and gliding along the length of his lower body many times.
"Pretty, long legs," he has been told.
But Mark's ass. Two basketballs in basketball shorts, is what Donghyuck calls them.
Mark hums to the melody.
Yup. Time to go to the bathroom. As he does so, which requires five steps, more or less, he ruffles his hair and attempts a cool, nonchalant gait. Then he struggles with his socks. Not cool. At least the flick of his wrist as he throws his socks into the laundry basket might have appeared cool enough.
Donghyuck opens the bathroom door a bit, and extends his arm inside to hook the towel and hang his clothes. He awkwardly undresses, backing out from what he typically does: deliberately stretching his upper body and slowly swaying out of his jeans, because now is not the time for those. He has given up the cool act.
Now Donghyuck's only in his boxer briefs. Mark has flowed into the pre-chorus. A chill crawls all over Donghyuck's skin, goosebumps overtaking. He steps out of his slippers and sets foot into the bathroom. Congratulations. As soon as he has locked the door, he rubs his flushed face against his palms. God.
He should not take a lot of time. Of course, Mark's aware of his quick shower routine. The longest shower session he has had was—now is not the time to recall that.
The shower drowns out Mark's solo busking. Donghyuck rivets his attention on the cutting coldness of the water against his skin. When he's done, as he twists the shower knob, as the spatter weakens into drip, drip, drip, Donghyuck listens.
Silence. He's not studying, is he? Or contemplating on how to start an essay? Nothing's due for him tomorrow and the following day. He can't be asleep.
Donghyuck rushes to clothe himself then exits the bathroom. A blur of an empty chair at the corner of his eye. Then legs. Mark's sitting on his bed. What is he doing?
Donghyuck spots his bolster on his desk chair looking like an ignored plushie. With the towel over his shoulder catching water droplets, Donghyuck ambles towards his desk, taking note of the light-colored wood of the guitar and a black t-shirt in his peripheral vision. Mark has covered up. Thank you.
As Donghyuck dries his hair and hangs the towel on his chair's backrest, three soft knocks against a guitar's surface resound, and then Mark's playing again. Honesty. Ah. Two years and its tranquil pattern remains enthralling. Feathery skips against stones, echoing. A leap, plop, then a dive back home. That's how it sounds.
Donghyuck takes his bolster, crushing it in his arms. He misses it. Hasn't slept beside it for two nights. He wonders if Mark has eaten dinner yet, if his class presentation went well.
"Guess it's all a game of patience."
Donghyuck drops his bolster, then turns around. Mark's eyes has been on him all this time. They avert their gazes, but in just a second they return to each other again. Can't help it. Mark wavers, but keeps singing, eyes hooked on Donghyuck. Is that a smirk? Donghyuck sucks his lips into his mouth, blocking a brimming laughter. He leans against his desk, matching Mark's stare. This cheesy ass.
Then he notices: Mark's broad shoulders, arms, toned pecs and abs, waist, sharply traced by his t-shirt's grip. The T-shirt. Wow. Donghyuck almost huffed, but Mark is singing to him. Donghyuck's weak for the ass and the abs, but he's weaker for this.
"Love will happen when it wants, so don't let it go."
Donghyuck's swooning. He is a cheesy ass.
Mark hushes down. With his guitar's headstock, he points at the space beside him. Donghyuck makes a face. But he shuffles toward Mark, who chuckles and follows his movements until they're side by side. Mark utters a countdown, and then they waft into the chorus—I want you, I want you again and again.
They laugh. Didn't continue the rest of the song because Mark's already discarding his guitar. Donghyuck automatically knows what to do. He gets up, positions himself in front of Mark, and sits on his lap. He encircles his arm around Mark's shoulder and basks in the comfort of the slope of Mark's neck. Mark, Mark, Mark. Bodies pressed together.
Mark kisses his temple. Donghyuck nuzzles against his neck, jaw, cheek, until they're nose to nose. Donghyuck grimaces. Mark only giggles at him.
With their gazes flitting from their eyes to their lips, Mark's palms travel along Donghyuck's legs, and Donghyuck travels himself: across the breadth of Mark's shoulders, along the length of the nape of his neck. Mark latches onto Donghyuck's waist, pulling him closer. Donghyuck's fingers waltzes through the strands of Mark's hair.
And then Donghyuck's phone rings.
"Damn," Mark whispers.
Donghyuck tips his head back with a groan. Perfect timing!
Mark kisses his throat. "It might be urgent."
"I left my phone in my jean pocket." Donghyuck removes himself from Mark. "Forgot about it. Too busy trying to act cool."
Donghyuck scuffles to the laundry basket and draws his phone out of his pants. Conference call. Donghyuck answers, and out of habit, activates speakerphone.
"Why didn't you answer the first time!" Renjun's voice booms.
"I'm busy!" Donghyuck walks back, and Mark watches him with mirth.
"The hell are you doing?"
"Secret. Bye!" Donghyuck hastily grazes his thumb against the end call button and drops his phone on the bed. But as he's straddling Mark, Renjun's voice thunders again. "Shut up. Do you still wanna change roommates?"
Donghyuck falls on Mark's lap. Uh-oh. Mark is gaping at him.
"What?" Jeno mutters.
"Nah. He was just being dramatic. They had an argument. Haven't seen nor talked to each other for almost 48 hours now. He just whined about missing Mark hyung."
Head dipped sideways, Donghyuck presents a fake smile at Mark, whose face has thankfully softened. Mark pinches his cheek.
"We never sleep without resolving an issue my ass!" Renjun mocks. Donghyuck frowns and pushes his tongue against the inside of his cheek. Mark suffers with silent laughter, nose scrunched, mouth wide.
"Donghyuck! Hello?" Renjun calls.
Before Donghyuck can say anything, Jaemin speaks. "Oh. It's their second anniversary next week!"
Yup. Donghyuck's forehead drops on Mark's shoulder.
"I remember the story. How they confessed," Jaemin starts in his high-pitched, gushing voice. Donghyuck swivels his eyes down to the phone. "So sweet. They were singing that Pink Sweats song. Then! Concluded it with a kiss. Wow. Fantastic."
Mark strokes Donghyuck's head. Donghyuck sits upright, sticking his tongue out at him.
"You know what I remember?" Renjun says. "When Donghyuck wasn't answering my call. So I went to their dorm. Nobody answered. Turns out, they were at the shower together for about two hours—"
"Okay!" Donghyuck shouts, yanking the phone.
"Where have you been!" Renjun asks.
"All over Mark hyung." Donghyuck winks at Mark, who only shakes his head.
Jeno and Renjun utter their disgust.
"Aww, they've made up," says Jaemin.
Donghyuck holds the phone to Mark. "Wassup guys," Mark says.
As the others simultaneously greet back, Donghyuck yells, "Yeah, yeah! Talk to you guys later!"
Donghyuck taps end call properly this time, chuckling. The second he tosses his phone away, Mark tackles him, both of them falling sideways into the softness of the bed. Donghyuck's head on Mark's arm, face against Mark's collarbone.
"I'm sorry," Donghyuck mumbles. "It's not an excuse that I was sleep deprived for days. I should've just calmly said, no thank you, hyung, I'll eat that tomorrow instead!"
Mark tightens his embrace, chin on the crown of Donghyuck's head. "Nah. Like I shouldn't have forced what I thought you need over what you really need, you know? Like, you just wanna sleep. You didn't wanna eat. Sorry I raised my voice."
"You always raise your voice when you're trying to make a point."
"Yeah! But it's different!"
"'Kay! Your kimchi fried rice is good, by the way. Ate them the next morning. And! You're getting better at frying eggs. A round of applause!" Donghyuck gives Mark's butt four smacks.
He looks up. "Hey. Did you do it on purpose? Playing guitar topless. Wearing The T-shirt. Singing to me. You suck!"
"Oh. I didn't, though?"
"Ugh, liar! You know I'm weak."
"Nah. You're just in love with me, man."
"No...I'm in love with basketball."
Mark shrieks when Donghyuck squeezes his buttcheek.
Donghyuck hooks a leg over Mark's hip and hides into the warmth of Mark's neck.
Then Mark wanders his palm all over Donghyuck's legs. He knows Donghyuck's flustered. Opportunist! "Pretty, long legs," Mark whispers.
Donghyuck fakes a snore.
"Yo!" Mark slaps his thigh.
They burst into laughter, finding each other's eyes as they do. Chests vibrating. Bodies shaking. When their laughter fades, Donghyuck winks. "Love you," he says.
Mark takes a moment, staring. Then he responds, "I love you too."
Two years, and butterflies remain fluttering.
They lean in. Lips an inch from each other like a tease, faces reddened like a lingering afterglow of their first confession. They lean closer. Closer, closer, closer. Then, with a smooth motion, they finally kiss.