The proposal came two and a half years later in unusually dry and warm weather in late October. It was years after they bought their dream house, traveled to Yunnan to celebrate Donghyuck’s birthday, went to Mongolia again to celebrate Mark’s birthday, spent two weeks in Quebec to celebrate their anniversary, and decided not to adopt another dog because Star and Hope were miraculously inseparable now and getting new member would cause chaos and they didn’t have time for that.
They’ve checked all the activities they wanted to do on their bucket list except the proposal and the wedding which was on the bottom list. Surprisingly, it didn’t come from Mark, who had been randomly asking Donghyuck to marry him. He asked at least thrice every year but it always came out as a joke. This year, he hadn’t asked Donghyuck yet. Not even once. So, Donghyuck took it as an opportunity to ask first because he’d never done it before, not even jokingly like Mark did.
It was Sunday and it was rare for the two of them to have the same day off. Luckily, they didn’t have to work today so they didn’t bother to set an alarm. They would wake up whenever they felt like it. The sun was up and it was past lunchtime. Donghyuck woke up first, blinking rapidly to adjust his vision. He stretched out on the bed like a kitten and groaned as his joints creaked in protest. He became aware of the dull ache that crept through his body; the sight of getting old.
“That happened because you didn’t hit the gym for a month now,” Mark said without opening his eyes, his voice deep and raspy.
Donghyuck rolled his eyes though Mark couldn’t see it.
“Good morning to you too, asshole.”
Mark laughed and the rumble in his chest causing Donghyuck to suddenly feel nervous, painfully aware of what he was about to do. He didn’t plan to ask him when they were in bed, barely awake, morning breath and all. But he didn't want to make it a big deal either. He wasn’t the type who would go down on one knee and traditionally ask his partner to marry him while he held out the ring.
Wait, fuck. He didn’t have a ring.
Donghyuck forgot about it. He’d been so busy with work that it completely slipped his mind. He’s so screwed now.
“You think so loud . I can practically hear your mind reeling.”
Donghyuck blinked and found Mark was already staring back at him, his eyes warm and clear. It had been years and the way he looked at him was still the same; the feeling was still the same. Nothing much changed. Their relationship grew so did they and it was a good thing. What they had right now was near damn perfect; it would never be completely perfect because there was always room for mistakes and improvements.
The words were already at the tip of Donghyuck’s tongue and he didn’t have time to think about formality or such before he finally asked.
“Mark, marry me?”
Mark blinked, completely dumbfounded. He did not see this coming nor did he expect the sudden proposal.
Another moment passed.
“ What ?”
Donghyuck didn’t miss a beat to repeat his question and he sounded more confident than before.
“Marry me.” it sounded more like a statement, a demand, but Donghyuck thought he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mark stared at him in utter shock and disbelief, completely caught off guard. He opened his mouth as if to say something but closed it again. He couldn’t come up with anything, not even a simple yes or no.
Donghyuck laughed at Mark’s stupid face.
“Oh god, you should’ve seen your face.”
It was only a moment after that when Donghyuck realized that Mark wasn’t laughing with him and it turned on the alarm button on his head. He stopped laughing, ready to apologize, but then his breath got stuck on his throat when he found Mark looking at him as if he was the sun, his everything . He’d spent years with this man to understand the unspoken words by heart.
Mark’s eyes were glassy and sparkled like fireworks and Donghyuck felt so right .
“Yes,” Mark said as he slowly closed the gap between them. It was as if he was in pain not to have Donghyuck in his arms. “Let’s get married and adopt a bunch of babies like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.”
Donghyuck laughed heartily because Mark sounded so lame, so Mark and Mark didn’t waste time leaning forward and kissed him on the mouth. He shoved his hands into his hair and kissed him fiercely. Mark managed to coax Donghyuck to open his mouth and sucked on his tongue, drawing a loud moan from him. His hands slid over his back and gripped his waist, squeezing and rubbing the warm skin.
Donghyuck shifted, moving to straddle Mark. He could feel his hard erection sat perfectly between his ass cheeks and he rolled his hips, making both of them moaned in delight.
“ Fuck ,” Mark threw his head back when Donghyuck rolled his hips again, harder this time. “Pup, fuck. That feels so good.”
Mark squeezed Donghyuck’s ass and slapped them, making him let out a loud whine as he felt the sting. It hurt as hell but he liked it rough sometimes. Donghyuck stared at Mark with half-lidded eyes and flushed face and Mark’s cock twitched at the ethereal sight.
The sun was beating down on them through the glass windows as Mark finally slid into Donghyuck, so deep and so raw that Donghyuck could feel every inch of him. They held each other as they fell apart together; blissful, so in love, and so complete.
It was spring when they finally held a wedding ceremony in the backyard of their house. The air smelled so much like a new beginning. It was a small and intimate wedding, only friends and family were there to witness the sacred ceremony. Donghyuck clutched branches of lilacs against his chest as he walked down the aisle, looking so breathtakingly beautiful with a blinding smile and glowing face. Mark was already on the verge of tears as he took Donghyuck’s hand in his but his face split into a wide, silly smile, his eyes turning into a crescent.
The minister said his part and they said the binding words.
Mark cradled Donghyuck’s face gently as if it was as delicate as the white petals swaying above them. And then they kissed, slow and tender, and the crowd erupted into applause.
After the ceremony, they slow-dancing to Put Your Hand On My Shoulder. Mark held Donghyuck with both hands on the small of his back and Donghyuck wrapped his arms around Mark’s neck, swaying from side to side, forehead to forehead. It was at that moment when they got all choked up when they realized that they were married now. That day, that moment, it was real.
Mark gently kissed Donghyuck’s nose.
Donghyuck giggled. “Hey,”
“Can I say something?”
Donghyuck let out a small groan. “Please don’t throw another lame pick-up line on our wedding. It’s too fast to get divorced.”
Mark pouted. Donghyuck knew his husband— oh, wow . that sounded so weirdly wonderful—didn't take that to heart but still, he gave in.
He huffed. “Okay, fine. Hit me.”
Mark’s smile instantly widened.
“Is your name perhaps Google? Because you have everything I’ve been searching for.”
Donghyuck burst out laughing and Mark laughed with him. At that time, as they continued slow-dancing while stealing some kisses, their wish was simple.
They wished they were able to be like this for the rest of their life because this was good.
This was everything.
It was three in the morning when Mark found Donghyuck sitting inside the empty bathtub, completely motionless. Mark let out a deep breath before he approached his husband and sat down on the floor facing him.
“Hey,” Mark whispered, smiling fondly at him as he tried to ease the tension.
Donghyuck blinked at him. “Hey,”
“Mind sharing your thoughts with me?”
Donghyuck didn’t answer right away. He stared at the wall, seemingly in a daze. Mark patiently waited for him. He didn’t rush him because he knew that his husband had his moments sometimes.
“I’ve been thinking lately,” Donghyuck talked after a moment of silence. “Should we adopt a kid now? Do you think we can do this?”
It’s been two years since their marriage and it was the very first time Donghyuck brought up the topic of kids. Mark knew this was such a sensitive topic and he was more than willing to wait because this was a big decision. It took commitment and responsibility to be a parent and they weren’t ready then.
Now that Donghyuck talked about it, this might be the right time to finally take a step forward in their relationship.
“I always believe we can do anything as long as we have each other.”
Donghyuck smiled. “That’s true.”
Mark reached out for Donghyuck’s hand and intertwined their fingers. When they looked at each other’s eyes, they knew everything was going to be okay as long as they were together.
“We’re gonna be a cool parent,” Donghyuck said. “We’re gonna let them be whatever they want and support them in everything they do.”
“Absolutely,” Mark agreed, scooting closer but didn’t let go of their intertwined hands. “We’re gonna watch movies together every Friday and we’re gonna have a family day every Sunday.”
They laughed together, their voice deep and resonant in the absolute stillness.
“I love you, papa,” Donghyuck whispered, his eyes prickled with tears and his heart clenched for the only man he loved. “I love you so much. Thank you for always being here with me.”
Mark kissed the back of his hand, his eyes never losing their sparks when he looked at Donghyuck. It was always the same.
“I love you too, pup. So much I feel like I’m about to burst sometimes.”
“Kiss me if I’m wrong but dinosaurs still exist, right?”
There was a beat of silence before they burst into laughter together. Mark impatiently pulled Donghyuck out of the bathtub and settled him into his laps, the latter straddling his hips and wrapping his arms around his neck. They kissed, slow and languid, then hard and deep. Mark accidentally bit Donghyuck’s lower lips and they ended up laughing into each other’s mouth, their breath mingling.
They ended up making love on the floor, passionate yet gentle, unhurried as if they were slow-dancing, just be in the moment. Before daybreak, Mark carried Donghyuck to the bed and they laid facing each other, feeling the world settled between them. He brought his hand to his lips and pressed small kisses to his knuckles and for a long time, they just looked at one another.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,” Mark whispered, reciting Donghyuck’s favorite poem. His husband’s eyes slowly fluttered close, feeling the words. “I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride. So I love you because I know no other way than this; where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”
They fell asleep when the sun rose from the horizon, their arms wrapped around each other.
Xavier Lee, a ten-year-old boy, came into Mark and Donghyuck’s life like a shooting star. The boy was half Korean and half French and had been in the orphanage for four years before he was finally being adopted by them. It took almost a year to legalize everything and when Xavier finally became theirs, it was truly a game-changer. The three of them fit perfectly as if they were meant to be together.
Donghyuck and Xavier bonded through the French language. The boy hadn’t gone back to Bordeaux, France for years, and talking in his mother-tongue made him feel like he was home. Mark and Donghyuck promised him that they would go on a trip to France to celebrate New Year there as a new family. Meanwhile, Mark and Xavier bonded through sports and their love for historical subjects. Mark spent at least once a week playing basketball with the boy, taking him to his workplace after he picked him up from school, and showing him his works.
Their family was perfect; two dads, two dogs, and one teenage boy who physically didn’t look like Mark and Donghyuck but as he spent more time living with them, his personalities were a mix of his two dads. Xavier was calm and collected and he threw dad jokes from time to time just like Mark. He’s outspoken and confident like Donghyuck and he’s very smart like both of his dads.
Mark and Donghyuck still had petty fights; it was always about trivial things such as not closing the cupboard after opening it, not scraping the food off the plate before dumping it into the sink, and forgetting to buy dog food. But now, their talk and argument were mostly about Xavier and his future. They were still learning to be a parent. There was always something new to discover. Sometimes they still made mistakes but they made sure to learn from them. They only wanted the best for their child and they would do anything for him.
“Are you two badmouthing me right now?” Mark suspiciously looked back and forth between Donghyuck and Xavier who were making dinner in the kitchen. The two of them always talked in French and sometimes it made Mark feel excluded because he couldn’t keep up with them. He understood some of their conversations because he’s been taking online french courses but his level was still intermediate.
“No, dad,” Xavier almost rolled his eyes at Mark but managed to hold himself back. Mark still noticed it anyway. That brat. “Appa and I are talking about Mongolia. He told me about the trips you guys went on during university days.”
Mark’s eyes sparkled at the topic. “Let’s go there this year! We can stay in nomad camp and stargazing at night.”
“Sure, but can I stay in a different tent? I don’t want to be there when you and appa do something .”
Mark almost choked on his diet coke when he heard that.
“You told our son about that ?” Mark asked, looking at his husband incredulously. His face blushed from embarrassment.
Donghyuck feigned an innocent face but his eyes were dancing with mirth. He tried not to smirk. That big brat.
“I just wanted our son to know about our stories.”
Donghyuck snorted. “You told our son about what happened in Ningxia too.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t tell him I fucked you in a cheap hotel after our fight.” Mark’s eyes widened comically when he realized that he just accidentally slipped the detail off and used foul language in front of their son. “ Shit .”
Donghyuck rolled his eyes at his husband’s antics meanwhile Xavier burst out laughing.
“Come on, dad. Even if you didn’t go into details, I can easily guess what happened after the fight.”
“See? Our son is smart.”
Donghyuck ruffled Xavier’s hair gently and the boy beamed at him; it was one of the things Mark and Donghyuck loved about their son. Unlike boys his age, he didn’t shy away from physical affection. Instead, he basked into it. He loved it when his parents gave him affection.
“Please don’t say bad words in front of your grandparents or else they’re gonna have my head.”
Xavier let out a chuckle. “Relax, dad. You know I always behave.”
“That’s right. You’re truly the best.”
“Papa, stop worrying about nothing and set the table, please. Dinner’s ready.”
“He’s only sixteen!” Mark cried out as he bit his odeng , munching it aggressively as steams came out of his mouth. It was two in the morning and after picking Donghyuck up from the hospital, they decided to go to Gangnam to enjoy some street food.
Donghyuck let out a sigh. Mark was getting more emotional as he got older, especially when it came to Xavier. He never admitted it out loud nor did he show this side of him in front of their son, but Donghyuck knew that Xavier knew about this side of his father. His son never said anything or brought up the topic because he didn’t want to hurt Mark's ego.
“Relax, papa. It’s just a date. It’s not like he’s going to get married tomorrow.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Did it work?”
Mark let out a groan. “I just can’t believe the fact that he’s a big boy now.”
Donghyuck scooted closer to Mark and wrapped his arms around his waist, leaning his head on his shoulder.
“He grew up so well,” Donghyuck said in a dreamy voice. “We did a pretty good job so far, right?”
Mark found Donghyuck’s hand underneath the table and held it in his, giving it a gentle squeeze as he leaned his head against Donghyuck’s.
“We did,” Mark assured him. “I rate us 7 out of 10. It’s not perfect yet, and I think it will never be perfect because we’re only human and we make mistakes from time to time but I think that’s fine because there’s always room for improvement.”
“7 sounds pretty good to me,” Donghyuck let out a satisfied hum. “He’s happy with us, right?”
Mark wrapped his arms around Donghyuck’s shoulder and pressed his lips against his temple.
“I’m pretty sure he is,” Mark tightened his hold around Donghyuck, wanting to always have him in his arms like this for as long as he lived. “I feel like he’s the combination of you and me. Sometimes I’m still surprised to see us in him even though we’re not biologically related. I mean, he speaks in fluent sarcasm just like his appa and a romantic in the heart like his dad. He picked up some of our habits, the bad and good ones. He’s perfect."
Donghyuck let out a small laugh with a tender smile on his face. “His face is more like Asian and people say that he resembles us in a way. Gosh, I love him so much.”
“I love him so much too,” Mark blew a kiss to Donghyuck’s cheek. “I love you so much, too.”
“Gosh, you’re such a sap.”
“You love me.”
“That,” Donghyuck leaned forward to press his lips against Mark and purposely made a smacking sound when he pulled away. “is the fact. I do love you.”
Mark giggled, his heart fluttered at the simple yet affectionate action. “You love me even when I make bad, lame dad jokes?”
“ Especially because you make bad, lame dad jokes.”
They giggled, their forehead pressed against each other. They have been through so many things together; from friends with benefits to lovers to married to have kids together. Bad days, good days, birthdays, anniversaries, christmas, new years, small fights, big fights, every milestone they’ve achieved in life, they were always there for each other. When things went rough, they tightened their hold on each other, and when things were good, they were happy for each other and celebrated it together. It wasn’t easy to maintain a good, healthy relationship but they worked on it every single day because they knew that it was worth it and they couldn’t ask for more.
“Wait, our son is calling,” Donghyuck informed as his phone rang inside his jacket. My little Xavier-ie ♡ flashed on the screen and he immediately swiped it up.
“Why are you awake at this hour, love?” Donghyuck asked after turning on the speaker mode so Mark could hear it too.
Xavier whined on the other side. “ What took you guys so long? Wait, I think I know it. You guys are in Gangnam, right? ”
“Sorry, buddy,” Mark sincerely apologized. “Were you feeling lonely?”
Xavier grumbled, saying something incomprehensible.
“What was that, love?” Donghyuck asked. He couldn’t make out what his son was saying.
“ The house is too empty without dad and appa. ”
Mark let out a cooing sound, pressing his hand over his chest as if trying to keep it from spilling out.
“See? This is why I’m not ready to see him dating someone.”
Donghyuck shushed him. “We’re going home now, love. Do you want something?”
“ Extra spicy tteokbokki and odeng, please. ”
Mark smiled in fondness. “He’s just like you.”
Donghyuck winked at his husband at the remark.
“Alright. Be right back. Love you.”
Xavier hummed. Mark pouted, pretending to sound upset.
“You’re not going to say it back?”
“ Gosh. I love you too, dad, appa. ”
Mark and Donghyuck laughed in unison. “See you later. Bye.”
“ Bye, drive safe .”
They left the vendor after getting Xavier’s orders, walking hand in hand to their car, their shoulders pressed together. The chill autumn breeze blew their faces and made the strands of their hair sway, the weather was getting a little bit colder than usual.
They drove home while sharing laughs and stories and continued their perfectly imperfect life together.