“Will you go on a date with me?”
Mark stares up at Jackson from his seat in the almost empty lecture hall, and Jackson stares back, and then Mark finishes gathering up his papers and takes off out of the room. Jackson scrambles to catch up with him down the hall.
“Your jokes are getting less and less funny,” Mark says.
“I’m not kidding!” Jackson exclaims. “Please go on a date with me.”
“I’m not gay,” Mark reminds him.
“Neither am I,” Jackson says as he follows Mark out the front doors of the math building. “But I need you to go on a date with me.”
“Why?” Mark turns into the bike racks, thrusting his hand blindly into the front pocket of his bag to fish out his bike lock key.
“I’m failing my sociology class and they’re threatening to suspend me from the fencing team!” Jackson pouts. “And right before the tournament too!”
“…Okay?” Mark says.
“So I need you to date me,” Jackson says, like it explains everything.
Mark turns to face him, fingers finally locking around his keys. “I don’t get it.”
“Prof Kim said that she’d give me extra credit in social studies if I did a project, and I chose the easiest one, obviously.”
“Obviously,” Mark mutters.
“I have to go on a date with another guy,” Jackson says airily. “And then do a paper on the heteronormative society we live in. So obviously, I want to go on a date with you. It’ll be a piece of cake.”
Mark rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and reaches for his bike lock. This is not what he signed up for when Jackson decided that they were best friends within five minutes of knowing Mark.
Jackson snatches the keys from his hands.
“Mark, please,” Jackson looks a bit more serious. “I really need to go to the fencing tournament! National team scouts are going to be there!”
“Look, I don’t-” Mark shifts his feet. “I don’t know.”
“Do you want to be the reason that I don’t get a chance at and international championship for fencing?” Jackson asks, voice sad. He looks like a kicked puppy, and Mark really has a weakness for puppies.
“Then go on a date with me,” Jackson wheedles. “It’ll be fun, I promise. And besides, it’s my treat.”
“Really?” Mark turns to glance at his bike so Jackson won’t see his smile. “Your treat?”
“Yeah, we can get pizza,” Jackson says. “And I’ll get you ice cream after. And we can go see a movie.”
Mark pretends to think about it, but really, he’s already made up his mind. It’s Jackson, and despite calling it A Date, it’ll just be another day of hanging out with his best friend. It’s not the first time Jackson’s paid for him. It’s also not the first time they’ve been on a date together. Or the first time they’ve acted like a couple.
Mark heaves a sigh. “Fine. But if you start treating me like a girl, I’m leaving.”
“I won’t, I promise,” Jackson’s grinning broadly. “Thank you Markie-poo, I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Probably still not passing fifth grade math,” Mark mutters, and snatches his keys back from Jackson’s hands. It doesn’t matter anyway, because Jackson hops onto the back of Mark’s back and Mark’s forced to ride them both back to his house, sweaty and hot under the afternoon sun but not really minding Jackson’s chin on his shoulder.
Jackson and Mark have been on a date before, back in their first year of high school. It was a double date, though, that had unintentionally become a Mark-and-Jackson date, when the girl Jackson was with stormed out after complaining that Mark had ruined everything. Jackson had run out after her, and Mark had sat in his seat, confused, because he had done nothing except sit quietly and try not to draw attention to himself. He hadn’t even wanted to go on the date, but Jackson’s date was the most popular girl in their grade and wanted a date with Jackson so bad, but then said that her friend had to come too. It confused Mark, who to this day still couldn’t figure out how a girl’s mind worked.
Jackson had come back inside five minutes later, to Mark’s lone figure at a table set for four, and smiled past the bright red mark on his cheek.
“I’m sorry,” Mark said mournfully as he held an ice packed wrapped in a cloth up to Jackson’s cheek.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jackson waves a hand nonchalantly, still grinning. “We’re better off as is. Want to go skateboarding when we get home?”
“But…” Mark furrows his brow. “She’s the most popular girl in our grade.”
“So?” Jackson asks.
“So she was right! I ruined everything! I don’t even know how, but I didn’t mean to mess up your date.”
Jackson lowers the ice pack to the table. “You didn’t do anything wrong, don’t worry. She shouldn’t have said that to you, I told her it wasn’t your fault.”
Mark points to the bruise on Jackson’s face. “Is that how you…?”
Jackson’s lips quirk into a grin. “Yeah, but don’t tell anyone, I want to say I got it from fencing.”
Mark rolls his eyes. “Who would I even tell?” Jackson’s his only friend. They’ve known each other since they were nine, and Mark hasn’t felt the need for another friend since.
To this day, Mark still didn’t know how he had ruined the date, when he had sat there quietly and only talked when spoken to. Jackson was the only one who had spoken to him, because Mark’s date wasn’t interested in him and Mark wasn’t interested in her. But the rejection had left an impression on him, and the few dates Mark had gone on in his years of high school were not even worth mentioning, and then he stopped dating all together because what had he done wrong?
Jackson, on the other hand, had an arsenal of experience, because he was outgoing, because he was popular, because everyone liked Jackson. And even though nothing had ever come from all the dates Jackson had been on, except for one girlfriend in their second year of high school, everyone still liked Jackson. All of his dates were still friends with Jackson.
Mark, dressed lazily in sweatpants and a loose tank top, opens the door and is almost blinded by Jackson.
“You’re so shiny,” Mark holds a hand up as if to block his eyes from the light. “Why are you wearing so many necklaces?”
“It’s a date,” Jackson sounds a bit offended. “I dressed up.”
“Is that the ‘WANG’ necklace I told you to never wear ever again?” Mark reaches for it, laughing when he finds a second ‘WANG’ necklace beneath it. “You wear these on dates?”
“No,” Jackson slaps Mark’s hands away from his neck so he can fix the way the necklaces hang. “But it’s you, so I don’t care about wearing them.”
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or offended,” Mark says as he climbs back up the stairs to his room. Jackson follows, after putting on the slippers that are exclusively his own at Mark’s house.
“Where’s the rest of your family?” He asks, looking around.
“At some overnight golf thing for my dad’s work,” Mark pushes the door to his room open, and Jackson immediately flops onto the bed, legs dangling off the side and looking every bit the picture of belonging in Mark’s room. He does, Mark thinks, more than anyone because half the things in his room belong to Jackson. He even has one of Jackson’s fencing trophies.
Mark slips his shirt off and tosses it the general direction of the hamper, while running his hands over the ones hanging in his closet. “I don’t have to be like, super fancy, do I?” He asks, glancing back over his shoulder.
Jackson’s eyes flicker up to his face from somewhere lower down, and he blinks. “Hmm?”
“Yeah, never mind,” Mark mutters, turning back around. He shouldn’t be taking fashion advice from Jackson anyways. He pulls out a long-sleeved shirt and throws it on, steps out of his sweatpants and into some skinny jeans. Jackson clears his throat.
He’s still leaned back on Mark’s bed, but he’s looking away, out the window in front of Mark’s desk, so Mark reaches to flick him on the forehead.
“Ow! What was that for?” Jackson asks, finally looking back at him.
“Don’t be weird because we’re going on a date,” Mark says. “We’ve changed in front of each other a million times, don’t let this mess up our friendship.”
Jackson shakes his head. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Of course I am, I’m older,” Mark says cheekily, turning back to the mirror to check his hair. He recently dyed it a pastel pink, one night at Jackson’s house while Jackson was in the tub bleaching the life out of his own. Jackson’s mom had freaked out but his dad had shaken his head fondly, saying it had probably been Mark’s idea (it was).
“Hey, Jackson,” Mark turns back around, and Jackson’s more relaxed this time, back to normal, and it settles Mark down too. “Should we match?” Mark puts on the ‘WANG’ hat that Jackson left behind so many months ago, and then Jackson’s chasing him down the stairs, trying to get it back while Mark laughs and laughs and laughs.
(Jackson catches him in the living room and won’t let Mark up from the couch until Mark says that his necklaces are cool).
When Jackson reaches for his hand when they’re walking, Mark doesn’t flinch. He does blink though, glancing down at their linked hands and then back up at Jackson questioningly.
“We’re on a date,” Jackson reminds him. “We know each other so well already, I figure we can skip all the awkward parts.”
“Okay,” Mark agrees easily, because, like the date, it’s not the first time they’ve held hands either.
And Jackson has nice hands, Mark thinks, so they’re nice to hold. Big, warm, and rough and calloused from fencing. His fingers are thicker than Mark’s skinnier ones.
“Man, this is so easy,” Jackson says, swinging their linked hands. It forces Mark to walk closer to Jackson, but neither of them notice. “I can’t believe this is the extra credit project, I’m totally going to get an A!”
“You wouldn’t even need to do this project if you had done your work in the first place,” Mark reminds him, but he’s not actually nit-picky. He just likes teasing Jackson to get a reaction.
Jackson turns and makes a face at Mark, and Mark can’t help but laugh, leaning into Jackson’s side a little bit. Jackson’s steady and warm beside him.
A little bit down the road, Mark notices the looks they’re getting, some surprised and some curious, but some are disgusted, and Mark can feel the smile slowly slip from his face. Jackson doesn’t seem to notice, carries on talking, and Mark subtly steps closer to him, his other hand reaching around to get a grip on the sleeve of Jackson’s sweater.
Maybe Jackson does notice because he tugs Mark closer and throws him a reassuring smile, thumb tracing soothing circles into Mark’s skin. Mark relaxes. Jackson’s here, and Jackson would never let anything hurt him.
Jackson takes him to a pizza place, but it’s in a fancier area, with large windows and white décor. The lighting is dim, each table has a candle, and all the servers are dressed in black and white.
Jackson holds the door open for Mark, and the hostess smiles when Mark walks in.
“Hello, how may I help you?”
“A table for two?” Mark asks as Jackson catches up and slides a loose arm around Mark’s waist. Mark doesn’t even notice it until the girl’s eyes flicker downwards and her smile falters.
“Is there a table?” Jackson presses, impatient.
“Um, yes!” The girl says quickly, flushed, grabbing two menus. “This way.”
They follow her passed crowded tables, one man not bothering to keep his ‘disgusting’ quiet. Jackson tenses up but Mark tugs on his hand to make him keep walking.
The girl leads them to their table, and once they’ve sat down, she lingers.
“You – you should find another restaurant,” the girls says quickly, quietly, leaning towards them.
“I’m sorry?” Jackson asks. Mark’s stunned into silence, hands uselessly numb in his lap.
“It’s just – the owner of this place, he’s not the most accepting person,” the girl tells them.
Jackson rolls his eyes. “We’re paying customers, what does it matter who we are?”
“Okay, just…” the girl bites her lip. “Maybe just – you could pretend not to be boyfriends, so then, he wouldn’t notice.”
Mark feels something ice cold slide into his stomach and settle, and sure, they’ve been mistaken for boyfriends before, it’s never been a problem, but the way the girl is warning them, asking them to accommodate to some guy he doesn’t even know, sits really badly with Mark.
Apparently, it does with Jackson too.
“I’m not going to pretend to be anything besides what I am,” Jackson tells her flatly. His eyes are narrowed and his gaze hard, and Mark leans across the table to tangle his fingers with Jackson’s, a subtle tug on his hand to calm Jackson down. “If he has a problem with two paying customers being boyfriends, than he can talk to me. But thanks,” he finishes, sarcastically.
The girl leaves them then, throwing one last sympathetic look over her shoulder, but Jackson’s done with her by then. He picks up his menu and nudges Mark’s foot with his own. “See anything you like?” He blinks when he finally takes note of Mark’s depressed features. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Jackson, maybe she’s right,” Mark says worriedly. “I don’t want to be here, especially if the guy who owns this place hates gays or something.”
Mostly Mark just doesn’t want to be put in the spotlight. He hates confrontation, but he hates attention even more, if he’s getting it from anyone other than Jackson.
“Don’t worry,” Jackson says, quieter, and he’s giving Mark a reassuring look and a softer smile. “I won’t let anyone say anything bad to you. They can’t do anything to you when I’m around.”
Mark’s cheeks heat up, and it’s a reminder of when they were in the seventh grade and in different classes for the first time. While Jackson was excelling in his class, Mark was the victim of the bullies’ torment in his own. His homework stolen and he was laughed at every time he spoke, and he avoided Jackson for weeks until Jackson found out and put a stop to it.
Jackson had said the same thing back then, and Mark’s trust in Jackson is one of the few things that’s never been shaken.
So he takes up his menu, delighted at all the different options, and he’s about to suggest they split something (Jackson’s on a diet for fencing, and Mark, for some weird reason, is suddenly feeling a little flushed and shy, like he wants to do something stupidly romantic on their ‘date’).
He never gets the chance, because a large man sidles up to their table, eyes hard and lips set in a scowl.
“Are you the faggots who thought you could dirty my restaurant?”
Mark’s mouth drops open in shock, never having been spoken to with this much hatred. His eyes immediately start to water, because he’s always been the emotional one, because his stupid body always reacts by crying to everything no matter if it’s in happiness or sadness or anger, because he feels suddenly completely and utterly helpless.
Except he’s not.
Jackson looks more furious than any time Mark’s ever seen before. Mark’s throat feels tight and closed off, stopping him from speaking or trying to defend himself. He wants to say something, anything, but oddly, telling the owner that neither of them are gay isn’t anything close to what he wishes he could say.
Jackson, unlike Mark, can’t hold his tongue when he’s mad. He starts spitting out every curse word the older boys on their street taught them when they were nine.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Jackson demands, standing abruptly and hands curling into fists. Mark’s still sitting, and he feels glued to his seat. He wishes he was the type of person who could stand too, who would back Jackson up at a time like this, but Mark’s not. He’s the type of person who would rather be sitting behind Jackson, protected by his larger frame.
“You fucking piece of shit,” Jackson’s still cussing the owner out, making a speech about freedom, and about prejudice, and about their relationship being nobody’s business except their own. Mark can barely hear it over the buzzing sound of panic in his ears.
The manager’s nearly shaking in rage, and so is Jackson, and Mark finally works up enough strength to leave his seat and tug on Jackson’s sleeve, pulling him back so they’re on the opposite side of the table from the owner.
“Jackson, let’s just go,” he says quietly, voice wavering a little bit, and Jackson relents then, ignoring the smattering of applause for his speech. He finally seems to realize Mark, and Mark’s watery eyes, and Mark’s trembling form. Jackson doesn’t look back when they walk out.
Mark’s still shaking when they walk away from the restaurant, like he’s coming down from the adrenaline coursing through him when he genuinely thought Jackson was going to fight the owner. He can barely see in front of him, the tears in his eyes threatening to spill over, and he tries to bite his lower lip to keep it from trembling, but he needs to cry, he can’t hold it back-
Jackson pulls them into an alley way, behind a jut in the building, and wraps Mark up in a tight hug. Mark immediately bursts into tears, sobs wracking his slighter form as he curls into Jackson, winding skinny arms around Jackson’s neck and burying his face into where Jackson’s shoulder meets his neck.
“I’m sorry,” Jackson says, voice low and apologetic and sad. He’s pressing his cheek against Mark’s hair. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t think anything like this would happen. I never wanted you to go through something like that.”
Mark can’t stop crying, and he muffles his sobs into Jackson’s shirt, stepping closer until his feet are between Jackson’s.
“It’s all my fault,” Jackson says miserably, one hands running soothingly up and down Mark’s back. The other one has a firm grip around Mark’s waist. “I never should have made you do this, I fucked up.”
Mark shakes his head when his tears subside, and he hiccups as he pulls away from Jackson’s shoulder. He knows he looks really ugly with puffy eyes and a runny nose and flushed cheeks, but Jackson’s seen him in every way imaginable, and Mark’s not self-conscious about it. He feels bad about the wet spot on Jackson’s shoulder though.
“It’s not your fault,” Mark reassures him, hiccupping a little. “It’s that asshole owner’s fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.” He takes one arm back from around Jackson’s neck but leaves the other one there, fisted in Jackson’s shirt because it grounds him. He roughly wipes at his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, and Jackson frowns, taking one arm from around Mark’s waist so that he can gently pat the tears from Mark’s cheeks with his own sleeve.
Mark lets him, returning his hand to Jackson’s shoulder, and he can’t meet Jackson’s eyes suddenly, feeling ashamed. “I’m just glad I was with you. That you were there. I’m sorry I froze up and didn’t do anything.”
Jackson nudges the side of Mark’s downturned head with his chin until Mark looks up. “Don’t ever say that.” Jackson looks serious. “I never expected you to say anything, Mark.” He smiles a little bit. “I know how you are with confrontation, and you know how I am. We work, and don’t ever feel ashamed for not being able to stand up for yourself in that kind of situation. He was an asshole, and you didn’t deserve that.”
Mark nods, and lets out a shaky breath. “Okay,” he says decisively. “Let’s not let this date end on a bad note! We can still have a lot of fun.”
“You still want to continue the date?” Jackson asks in disbelief.
“Yeah…” Mark blinks at him. “Why? You don’t want to?”
“No, I want to,” Jackson says, grins at Mark. “Okay, let’s go on a date.”
They head to a less fancy part of town, and find a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place, which must be amazing because it’s packed to the brim, but they get seated pretty fast. Mark really likes it, despite how cramped the space is. Their table is almost touching the one beside it.
“Order whatever you want,” Jackson tells him.
“You’re just saying that because the food’s cheap and you want to look like a good date, paying for it all,” Mark complains, but he’s grinning broadly and Jackson sticks out his tongue and makes a face.
“Are you complaining?” Jackson says. “Do you want to pay for yourself?”
“But you promised you would pay for me, remember?” Mark whines cutely, bringing out his secret weapon of aegyo because he knows that it’s Jackson’s biggest weakness when it comes to Mark.
Jackson curses under his breath. “Stop using that against me.”
“Jaaaaackson,” Mark whines again, lower lip jutting out, and Jackson groans.
“Yes, yes, I’m paying.”
Mark grins broadly, laughter almost turning into giggles, and Jackson rolls his eyes fondly. “Pick what you want.”
“Okay,” Mark agrees happily. His eyes zero in on the tacos.
“And you’re not getting extra spicy tacos.”
“What? Why not?” Mark asks.
“Because last time you ordered something like that, you didn’t finish it and you made me eat it because you ‘felt bad about wasting food and someone went through all the trouble of preparing it’.” Jackson deadpans. “I’m not letting you do that to me again. I couldn’t feel my tongue for a week.”
Mark laughs, reaches across the table to tangle his fingers with Jackson’s. “Oh yeah I forgot about that. Forgive me?”
“I forgive you,” Jackson says. “But we’re still not ordering them.”
“Fine, fine,” Mark relents, but doesn’t let go of Jackson’s hand. “I’ll just get mild then, so you can finish what I don’t eat.”
“We can just order two dishes and split them,” Jackson offers.
“Yeah, okay,” Mark agrees easily.
Jackson sets down his menu and glances around. “How do we order in this place?”
“You have to go up to the cashier in front,” the lone boy at the table next to them says. He’s sitting on the bench next to Mark and idly playing with his phone.
“They take your order there and then you wait and bring it back with you.”
“Oh,” Jackson says, and he almost reluctantly releases Mark’s hand as he stands up. “I’ll be back soon, okay?”
“M’kay,” Mark says happily, keeping his eyes on Jackson’s back as he works his way through the maze of tables.
“You guys are really cute,” the boys says. “How long have you been together?”
Mark almost says that they’re not actually together, that they’re only friends, but he suddenly doesn’t like the sound of that, doesn’t like the sound of ‘best’ in front of ‘friend’, when ‘boyfriend’ sounds so much nicer.
“We’ve been best friends since we were nine,” Mark says. “But we only recently got together.”
“Aw, that’s so cute!” The boy practically squeals, eyes crinkling as he smiles. “I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost a year now, and we only knew each other for a few months before that. You’re lucky you’ve gotten to spend so much time together!”
“Yeah,” Mark says, his own smile wide and happy. “We are.”
“I’m Jinyoung, by the way,” the boy says.
“I honestly couldn’t even tell that you guys only got together recently,” Jinyoung tells him. “You guys are so comfortable with each other, but I guess that comes from being best friends for so long.”
“Yeah,” Mark laughs. “I mean, I’ve seen Jackson at all his gross moments, so there’s nothing that would make me uncomfortable now.”
Jinyoung leans forward, resting his chin on one hand in a ‘tell me more’ kind of way, and Mark, who’s never felt close to anyone besides Jackson, embraces the feeling of friendship coming off in heaps from Jinyoung.
“The first time Jackson ever got drunk,” Mark starts, turning in the seat of the bench that connects him to Jinyoung. “He was like fourteen, and with his fencing seniors. And he called me at like two in the morning saying his face felt weird. So I snuck out of my house and went to his place, and I found him taking a shower with all his clothes on.” Marks giggles, remembering fourteen year old Jackson, drunk in the shower. “So I had to get him out of his wet clothes, and when he was only in his boxers, he started flexing to himself in front of the mirror, and trying to use conditioner as like oil or something. And he had zero muscle at fourteen too.”
Jinyoung laughs, hand coming up to smother his giggles, and he slides closer to Mark. “He’s muscular now, though, right?”
Mark’s cheeks heat up. Jackson is muscular now, something Mark’s always admired about him, in the back of his mind.
“My boyfriend Jaebum is just as embarrassing,” Jinyoung tells him. “Before we started dating, I thought he would never ask me out. And then I was out with my hyung who came home from university, and we went to the movies. And Jaebum happened to be there with his friends, and he thought my hyung was some guy I was seeing or something. He got so jealous! He dragged me out after telling my hyung ‘this is mine’.” Jinyoung laughs. “He spent weeks trying to get back into my hyung’s good books.”
“At least he finally made a move,” Mark says.
“Yeah,” Jinyoung agrees, and he leans towards Mark conspiratorially. “And he’s super hot when he’s jealous. Just, trust me. You should try it once, with Jackson. The sex is amazing.”
Both boys turn and look up, and Jinyoung lights up. “Jaebummie!”
Mark gulps, more than a little intimidated by the frown he’s getting and the dislike radiating from Jaebum.
Jaebum is big and tall, lean muscles under his tank top, and wide shouldered. His dark hair is swept away from his forehead and his ears are pierced. He’s not quite glaring at Mark, but it’s like he’s blaming Mark for the fact that Jinyoung is practically in Mark’s seat.
“This is Mark,” Jinyoung introduces, and he’s either oblivious to Jaebum’s dark aura or he has no problem with it. Mark guesses the second. “My new friend.”
“Hello,” Mark says nervously. He wishes Jackson were here, because Jackson’s great at meeting new people. Mark…not so much.
Jaebum only nods, setting down the food in his hands, but he doesn’t sit down yet. “You’re here alone?”
“Uh,” Mark shakes his head mutely, and Jinyoung’s already busying himself with taking apart the nachos in front of him. Mark swallows back the anxious lump in his throat, but then Jackson’s voice saves him.
“What’s up?” Jackson asks mildly, as he walks up next to Jaebum.
“Jackson,” is the only thing Mark says, smiling in relief.
Jackson sets the tacos down. “Everything alright?”
“Yep!” Jinyoung gives him a thumbs up. “Mark was telling me how you guys starting dating! Super cute.”
“Oh,” Jackson nods, sliding into his seat, and Jaebum does the same silently beside him. “Yeah, it’s only recently.”
“But you’re lucky you’ve been friends for so long,” Jinyoung says. “Jaebum probably would have never asked me out if it wasn’t for my hyung.”
“I would have asked you out,” Jaebum protests, loosening up now that he knows Mark isn’t making a move on his boyfriend.
“Yeah, okay,” Jinyoung rolls his eyes and turns to Mark like they’re best friends. “I have to give him hints about everything.”
Jinyoung then turns to Jackson. “Pay attention to Mark when he says he wants you to fuck him, and actually fuck him.”
“Jinyoung!” Mark buries his red face into his hands, Jackson’s warm laughter making his heart skip a few beats.
Jackson and Jaebum suddenly become best friends, and they need to outdo each other in some manly way after finding out that they’re both athletes.
Jinyoung rolls his eyes as he turns to Mark. “I hate working out, I am not breaking out in a sweat.” He pauses. “No wait, I’ll make an exception if it’s because I’m being fucked really good.”
Mark blushes so hard he swears the tips of his hair turn red.
He’s standing with Jinyoung in a park as they watch Jackson and Jaebum try to outdo each other in the amount of pullups they can do at the monkey bars. It’s later in the evening, so the sun is setting, lending a pinkish glow to the sky.
“This is so dumb,” Marks grumbles. He’s in a mood where he wants to be the sole object of Jackson’s attention, but he also hates expressing that neediness, so it turns into a moody pout that only Jackson really understands.
And now Jinyoung too, who stamps his foot when Jaebum doesn’t even glance his way.
“He better not waste all his energy on this,” Jinyoung’s voice holds a threat in it. “He better have enough energy to fuck me up against the wall tonight.”
Mark hardly blushes now, half because he’s used to Jinyoung’s vulgarity, and half because a voice in the back of his head whispers in agreement with Jinyoung.
“Why don’t we just tell them to stop?” Mark suggests.
“No, that’s too simple,” Jinyoung’s lips curl into a smirk. “I have a better idea.”
So Mark finds himself sitting on a bench with Jinyoung, his legs splayed across Jinyong’s lap and Jinyoung feeding him vanilla ice cream, forcing out giggles whenever Jinyoung whispers ‘now!’.
He actually does start giggling for real, because Jinyoung’s making dumb faces every time it fails to get the attention of their respective boyfriends, but then suddenly Jinyoung’s face changes and he scoops a giant dollop of ice cream into his mouth, and Mark knows both Jackson and Jaebum have finally noticed their missing counterparts.
“What is this?”
It’s Jackson who reaches them first, voice a little too hard for the unconcerned tone he was going for, and Mark tilts his head back to look up at Jackson. He grins, untangling himself from Jinyoung, who’s almost immediately yanked to Jaebum’s chest, and he stands to face Jackson.
“Want some ice cream?”
Jackson lets out a breath, shoulders relaxing and an arm comes up to wind around Mark’s waist. “You’re really something, you know that?”
He lets Mark feed him a scoop of ice cream, and when he isn’t looking, Jinyoung mouths a ‘jealousy means great sex!’ to Mark with a thumbs up.
They spend a little more time together, and exchange numbers before heading their separate ways. Jinyoung hugs Mark tight and makes him promise to hang out soon.
“I usually scare away a lot of people, but you like me!” Jinyoung says happily, eyes crinkling cutely. “Let’s be best friends.”
“Okay,” Mark agrees, and Jackson smiles to him later, when they’re back at Mark’s house.
He goes inside and leaves the door open for Jackson too, hears Jackson turn the lock and kick his own shoes off, and pads after Mark into the darkened house. Mark doesn’t say anything, and he feels hyper-aware of Jackson suddenly, the warmth of his body behind Mark, the way his hair has loosened from the gel and falls into Jackson’s eyes, the way Jackson’s muscles shift when he flops down onto Mark’s bed and leans up on one elbow.
“I’m happy,” he says, features soft in the dim light of Mark’s room, only illuminated by his lamp. “You sometimes have this loneliness about you. It was something I never knew how to fix.” Jackson’s eyes don’t waver from Mark’s form as Mark pads around his room, his nerves causing his stomach to turn over every time he meets Jackson’s gaze. “I’m glad it’s going away.”
“Well, you’re the one who basically fixed it,” Mark tells him. “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be out here tonight. I wouldn’t have met Jinyoung.”
“It was because I’m failing my sociology class,” Jackson makes a face, but smiles at Mark afterwards. “This is nice, though. Really nice. I think this is the first date I’ve ever been on that I could actually be myself.”
Mark bites his lip. “Hey, Jackson?”
“Do you think, even if you weren’t failing that class, do you think we would’ve eventually gotten here?”
Jackson blinks. “What do you mean?”
“Like…” Mark picks at a fingernail, not confident enough to look Jackson in the eye. “Do you think we would have starting dating?”
It’s silent for a second, and then Jackson straightens up and gives Mark a questioning look.
“I like you,” Mark blurts out, when he meets Jackson’s steady gaze. “I think, I don’t know, but tonight, after everything, it made me realize that there could never be another person on earth that I trust as much as you. And that I’m comfortable enough with. That I would share everything with. And even if there was…I don’t want to meet someone else. I like how it is. With you. Only with you.” He bites his lip, abruptly feels like he might cry because his emotions are all over the place. “I don’t want someone to be more important than you. And – and I don’t want someone to be more important to you than me.”
“Mark…” Jackson says softly, so softly, moving to stand and takes the two steps it takes to reach Mark’s trembling form. And then his lips are on Mark’s.
Jackson’s gentle and a little hesitant at first, like he expects Mark to pull away, and when he doesn’t, Jackson gets a little rougher, sinking his teeth into Mark’s bottom lip. And Mark suddenly remembers that Jackson was Mark’s first kiss too, back when they were twelve and Mark didn’t want his first kiss to be anyone other than Jackson because Jackson would never laugh at him if Mark didn’t know what he was doing.
It’s the same thing now, Mark trusting Jackson so completely, knowing that he can put himself in Jackson’s hands and Jackson would never break him, would handle him so carefully and attentively and delicately. It’s why he melts completely into Jackson when Jackson tugs at his lower lip, and why he whines and tries to chase Jackson’s lips when he pulls away for air.
“Shit- Mark,” Jackson’s breathless, and Mark lazily cracks his eyes open, knows his face is just as flushed as Jackson’s, knows his lips are just as full too. Jackson’s eyes are darker now, zeroed in on Mark’s reddened lips and he grips at Mark’s hips a little tighter.
Mark, who’s never had confidence in anything besides what he has with Jackson, nudges Jackson backwards until Jackson sits back on the bed, and Mark climbs into his lap. Jackson’s hands are steady and strong on his waist, holding Mark close, and Marks feels his heart beat faster for something besides lust.
He leans down to kiss Jackson, taller than him in this position, his hands coming up to grip at the collar of Jackson’s shirt. One of Jackson’s hands moves under his shirt and he thumbs the soft skin of Mark’s side, and the other one moves down to grip at Mark’s ass, and Mark shivers in Jackson’s hold, suddenly grinding down into Jackson’s lap.
“Fuck,” Jackson groans, low and deep, and then Mark’s rolled sideways and his head lands on one of his pillows and Jackson’s bigger frame is above him, cradled in the space between Mark’s thighs.
Jackson looks hotter than anything Mark’s ever seen before, eyes dark and gaze heavy, loose blond hair falling into his eyes, and hints of a flush high on his cheeks.
Mark reaches out with a hand to pull Jackson down, and leans up to meet him in a kiss, something wet and dirty, and Jackson moves down to Mark’s neck, nipping and biting at the soft skin. Mark shudders at the feeling, suddenly feeling very hot when he thinks about the bruises Jackson will leave behind, almost like a warning of ‘mine’. He tightens his legs around Jackson’s hips, letting out the softest of whimpers. But Jackson hears it, and leans back to tug his own shirt off, and if Mark was turned on before he’s definitely hard now. Jackson’s muscles shift and tense under the skin as he moves to push Mark’s shirt up, and Mark just really wants a taste of the tan skin in front of him.
So when he sits up to take off his own shirt, Jackson’s hands helping, he drops his head forward to lick at Jackson’s nipple. Jackson freezes for a second, and then lets out a low “Mark”, and Mark does it again, moving upwards to leave his own mark on Jackson’s skin, just below his collar bone.
When he’s done he tilts his head back to give Jackson a bright smile, and Jackson kisses him again, leaning down over Mark until Mark’s pressed back into the bed.
“What do you want?” Jackson whispers against Mark’s lips, one hand coming up to brush pink hair away from Mark’s face. “Tell me what you’re comfortable with, what you want to do tonight.”
Mark blushes. He knows that Jackson knows that Mark’s never had sex before, but, just like everything else in Mark’s life, he wants Jackson to be his first. He wants Jackson to be his only.
“I want you to fuck me,” Mark tells him, face red and voice shy but it doesn’t crack, and heat scorches through him when he sees Jackson’s eyes darken. Jackson grinds downwards suddenly, and Mark throws his head back, eyes closed and he tightens his grip on Jackson’s shoulders.
“Okay,” Jackson teases, mouth attaching to the exposed skin of Mark’s neck. “I can do that.”
He works his way downwards, until he reaches Mark’s jeans and works them off, and Jackson shrugs his own off too, until they’re both naked and all Mark can feel is warm skin against him.
He feels a little self-conscious, and nervous too, because despite trusting Jackson completely, he’s totally new to this, and he has no idea what he’s supposed to be doing. And not to mention that where Jackson’s big and strong and wrapped in lean muscle, Mark’s form is skinny and slight and soft, pink on his nipples and between his legs.
He almost draws his legs back and his knees together, as if to hide, but Jackson’s faster and wraps one hand around Mark’s length, and Mark forgets about his nerves completely when he’s touched for the first time by something other than his own hand.
He’s a moaning mess pretty quickly, writhing beneath Jackson and feet locking behind the stronger boy’s back, and Jackson leans forward to kiss Mark’s open mouth.
“Mark,” he says, voice calm and unhurried. “I’ve never fingered a boy before. I don’t want to hurt you.”
It takes Mark a moment to understand what Jackson’s saying, and it doesn’t help that Jackson keeps tugging on his length, and then Mark wiggles to grab at the lube he keeps in his drawer. He tried fingering himself once, back in high school, when he was curious about it, and found out that he really liked it, liked having something up his ass, and it’s probably the only thing he’s never told Jackson.
Jackson looks a little surprised at the lube, like the Mark in his head had never done anything sexual before, so Mark scoots backwards until he can lean against the headboard and watch Jackson’s eyes on him. He warms up the lube with his fingers and then reaches down, pressing one against the pink rim.
He moans then, head falling back against the headboard and he hears Jackson’s awed “fuck”, and the bed shifts a little. Mark cracks his eyes open to see Jackson’s heated gaze locked on Mark’s fingers moving between his legs. Mark adds another.
Jackson’s not bothering to hide how hard he is, palming at his own cock, but that’s not fair to Mark, who’s doing all the work and getting no reward.
“Jackson,” he whines cutely, pouting for extra effect, using his aegyo against Jackson.
“Aren’t you going to finger me?” Mark asks, and cocks his head cutely. He usually uses three fingers on himself and has only worked gotten to two so far.
“Yeah, fuck, yeah I am,” Jackson says, reaching for the lube and almost spilling it on the sheets.
He sits on his knees between Mark’s legs and digs the fingers of one hand into Mark’s thigh, and he reaches down with the other one, sliding one finger in next to Mark’s two.
They both moan, and Mark loves it, loves the feeling of Jackson’s thicker and rougher fingers pressing deep inside of him. Jackson’s able to get at an angle Mark’s never been able to hit before, and Mark swiftly withdraws his own fingers, wrapping his legs around Jackson to beg for more. He likes Jackson’s fingers better than his own, he thinks.
“Jackson,” he whimpers again, pushing his hips down and towards Jackson’s fingers. “More.”
Jackson nods, his hair sticking to his forehead, and he adds another finger, twisting and scissoring, and Mark feels completely blissed out at the deep stretch. He know he can take more, and he wants to take more, wants Jackson to be balls deep inside him.
“Jackson,” he tries to sound as demanding as he can, tugging on Jackson’s blond hair for attention. “I can take more.”
“Fuck, yeah you can,” Jackson agrees, not hesitating to slide in a third finger, and this is the biggest stretch Mark’s ever had and he loves it. He blindly fucks himself down on Jackson’s fingers, his hard cock bobbing between them, and Jackson’s in complete awe above him.
“Shit, Mark you’re so fucking hot,” Jackson fists Mark’s cock again, tugging until Mark’s toes curl. “The hottest thing I’ve ever-”
Jackson doesn’t seem to know where to look, eyes always drawn back to Mark’s red rim. “I want to fuck you so bad.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Mark demands, pushing himself up and Jackson lets him, his hands slipping out of Mark’s body as Mark climbs into his lap. He reaches for the lube, and coats Jackson’s length.
“Fuck, Mark, you’re not-” Jackson starts, and then Mark reaches behind him and guides Jackson’s cock into his body, sinking down and fingers digging into Jackson’s shoulders.
Mark has to stop when he takes Jackson in completely, eyes a little wet from the painful stretch, and Jackson reaches to brush the tears from his eyelashes, despite being tense and breathless. “Hey, take the time you need.”
“I know,” Mark says, leaning forward to bump his nose against Jackson’s. He likes this, the small moment of complete intimacy between them, and Jackson knowing things without Mark having to tell him.
Mark pushes himself up and drops himself back down, almost sobbing at how good it feels, to be filled so completely by someone he loves with his whole entire being, and Jackson wraps strong hands around Mark’s hips, leaving bruises in their wake.
“Fuck, you’re so fucking tight.”
They continue like that, breathing the same air and Mark fucking himself down on Jackson’s cock until Mark’s too tired to continue, turning pleading eyes to Jackson.
Jackson plants his feet down and fucks up, hard.
Mark can’t help but fall forward, but catches himself on Jackson’s chest, mouth dropping open at how good it feels. He faintly realizes he’s letting out breathless whimpers into Jackson’s ear, and he’s thankful for Jackson’s grip on his hips because Mark loves the feeling of Jackson fucking up into him, of getting them both off.
Jackson suddenly rolls them over and pushes Mark’s legs up to his chest, and really starts to fuck into Mark’s body, each thrust hitting Mark’s prostate and he’s not going to last long it’s so good, it’s so good-
He comes, untouched, between them, moaning Jackson’s name like a prayer, and Jackson’s thrusts speed up and then he comes too, hips stuttering but the thrusts are relentless in their power.
Jackson drops forward, above Mark’s paler body, but catches himself on his elbow before he lands on top of Mark. He doesn’t move away though, and still hasn’t withdrawn from Mark’s body.
Mark doesn’t mind though, pushing Jackson’s loose hair away from his face, and smiles at him when Jackson looks up.
“Hey,” Mark says happily, grinning widely, feeling completely and utterly in love with the boy on top of him.
“Hey yourself,” Jackson replies, leaning forward to press their lips together again, finally sliding out of Mark’s body and lifting himself from the bed. He walks to Mark’s adjoining bathroom to grab a wet cloth, and Mark watches happily. When Jackson sits back down, Mark reaches one hand up to trace the faint red bite marks he left behind on Jackson’s chest.
Jackson throws the cloth away when he’s done, climbing back into bed beside Mark and pulling the covers up, drawing Mark closer to his chest.
“Does that mean you like me too?” Mark asks, wants to tease Jackson to get a rise out of him, and Jackson leans in to press another kiss to Mark’s forehead, brushing the pink hair away fondly.
“It means you’re my boyfriend now.”
Yeah, Mark thinks. He definitely prefers the sound of ‘boyfriend’ instead of ‘best friend’.