Mark didn't consider his life as special. Not in a depressed sort of way, he just kinda knew that there were people out there leading far more interesting lives than he was, and he was okay with that. Not everyone was born to be in a history book.
His life wasn't boring either. He had enough friends who got up to dumb shit when they were bored, that he could confidently say that his life wasn't boring. It just wasn't amazingly extraordinary.
That is until one fateful night in late autumn.
That's when his life became a little more extraordinary.
It was around half past one in the morning, on a chilly late autumn night when Mark was rudely awakened by a loud knock on his bedroom window. Now, Mark's bedroom was on the second floor and the only way to get up there was by climbing up a precarious old drain pipe. His window had the fascinating view of the next door's wall and a bit of the street.
Mark sat bolt upright in his bed, eyes fixed on the curtained window and his heart thumping loudly in his ears. His first thought was that it was a robber, but he lived in a good part of town and robberies were about as common as tropical birds.
So naturally, his still half asleep brain convinced him that it was some paranormal-American-horror-story shit, which sounded much more sensible and which led him to where he was now, standing in the middle of his room halfway to the door, but too afraid to turn his back on the humanoid shadow on his windowsill.
The shadow shifted slightly and then knocked again, a little more impatient than the first time. Mark flinched and let out an undignified shriek, immediately slapping a hand over his mouth. He hoped frantically that his death would be quick and his parents would use a good picture of him for when the news his brutal murder would be broadcasted on Tv.
The shadowy figure shifted again and then spoke, "Listen, I know you're awake, open the fucking window."
Mark, still frozen in the middle of his room, stared in shock at the accusing window. The voice that had spoken was a bit higher than his own, but unmistakably a boy, a very human sounding boy.
He tried to answer, but his voice wasn't cooperating and he just sounded like a constipated frog.
The boy sighed loudly, "Open the fucking window. I'm not going to murder you."
Mark didn't find that very convincing, but he had a distinct feeling that this person wasn't going to give up too easily, and anyway if he did die at least he wouldn't have to do maths anymore. Always look on the bright side and all that.
Slowly he moved towards the window and he heard a muffled 'fucking finally' as he pulled the curtains aside.
The boy was backlit by the faint light coming from the street and Mark could only see a mop of unruly reddish-brown hair and a pair of dark eyes glaring at him from the other side of the glass. He reached for the latch and opened the window.
Almost immediately the boy put his whole weight against the window and forced it open wider. Mark stumbled back and watched in muted shock as the boy climbed down from the windowsill and into his room.
They stood like that for a while, the boy glaring at Mark as if he was daring him to yell for help.
He didn't. Instead, he moved past the boy and closed the window before all the warmth could leave, then he walked to his desk and turned on his desk lamp so the room was illuminated in a soft yellow glow.
In the soft light of the lamp, the boy looked a lot less intimidating.
His clothes (a ratty pullover, a pair of equally ratty jeans and sneakers that looked they were falling apart) stood in stark contrast to the general cleanliness of Mark's room. He was just a bit shorter than Mark and he looked maybe a year younger. There was a residue of a summer tan on his face and hands, and his mouth was pulled into a pout.
Mark looked away, focusing instead on the dirt the boy was already getting all over the carpet.
"You're making the carpet dirty," he said, silently thanking his voice for not breaking.
The boy looked down and then back up at Mark. "Don't you know how to hoover?" He asked.
Mark floundered slightly, "I do know how to hoover, it's just my mom will freak out."
The boy shrugged, turning his attention to Mark's desk. He walked over and picked up the nearest textbook and started leafing through it, his eyebrows raised in bored disinterest. Mark hastily yanked it out of his hands and winced slightly as he saw all the grubby fingerprints left on the cover and the pages.
"What do you want?" He asked helplessly as the boy started going through his notebook.
The boy dropped the notebook and turned to look at Mark, an impish smile on his face. Mark looked away. It was safer like that.
"Finally he asks," the boy crowed loudly and Mark shushed him. "Food. I want food," he continued in a hushed whisper.
Mark blinked. "Food?"
"Did I stutter?"
Mark shot him a glare but the boy seemed unimpressed.
"What kind of food?"
"I don't really care. No cereal though, I can't stand cereal."
Mark was silent for a second before he nodded. "Okay."
Now it was the boy's turn to look surprised. "Seriously?"
"Yeah," Mark shrugged. "It's cool I guess."
The boy composed himself quickly and the impish smile was back. "I'm Donghyuck."
They stared at each other, Mark was the first to look away hoping the bad lighting would conceal the colour rising in his cheeks.
"Just stay here and don't make any noise. I'll be back in a minute. Try not to get dirt everywhere."
Donghyuck nodded, eyes already on Mark's sleep rumpled bed.
"Okay." Mark took a deep breath and stepped out into the hallway, he caught Donghyuck's eye and managed something resembling a smile, before closing the door.
When he finally made it into the kitchen after the agonising trek down the very creaky staircase he allowed himself a short breather, leaning against the fridge and letting the entire weirdness of his situation wash over him.
A strange boy named Donghyuck was currently just hanging out in his room after having climbed up a drain pipe to get into his room. It was like some Peter Pan shit, just minus the fairies and the magic dust. The only dust he got was gritty and gross and literally all over his carpet. It's like the boy rolled in it.
With that Mark jerked back to reality and realised that he was a shit cook.
Even something as simple as a sandwich was a challenge for him.
He ended up with a cup of ramen, a ham sandwich and a piece of toffee cake. Easy enough.
He made it up the stairs without any incidents and managed to open the door with his elbow (without dropping/spilling anything).
Donghyuck was curled up on Mark's bed, his breathing slow and steady and his hands clutching the tangled comforter like a lifeline. His tanned face and ruddy brown hair contrasted starkly with the pale blue of Mark's pillow and comforter. Mark noted absentmindedly how long Donghyuck's lashes were and how his mouth was pulled into a cute little pout, and how his cheek looked all squished against the pillow.
He also noted the smudges of grime on his jaw and the old scabs on his knuckles, the dirt, and bits of gravel and grit in his hair and how ratty and worn his clothes looked. But he did apparently have something resembling manners because he had taken off his shoes before getting into Mark's bed, not there was much of a difference. He was barefoot and Mark didn't want to say that he smelled but he did.
When a little crease appeared between his brows and his hands tightened on the comforter, Mark realised he'd been creepily watching a strange boy sleep and hurriedly put the tray on the floor and slowly edged closer to the bed.
He wanted to ask why Donghyuck's clothes looked so worn and dirty and why he had bruises and scabs on his hands, and why he looked malnourished and tired. He wanted to ask if he had a place to stay and when he'd last had a warm meal. He wanted to ask about his parents, about everything really.
But he didn't. It wasn't the right time nor was it any of his business.
He figured Donghyuck would tell him if he wanted to and if he didn't, he shouldn't pry.
Carefully perching himself on the edge of the bed, he poked Donghyuck's arm. The boy didn't react and Mark poked him a little more vigorously, only to get slapped on the cheek by a very sleepy and very annoyed Donghyuck.
"What?" He mumbled as he squinted up at Mark.
"I made you food don't be a dick."
Donghyuck looked confused for a few seconds until his eyes found the tray on the floor and he immediately started to get up.
Sitting down on the floor, he shot Mark a suspicious look and said, "What is this?" He pointed at the piece of toffee cake.
He rolled his eyes. "I know dumbass, I mean what kind."
"It's toffee cake."
Donghyuck's face lit up and Mark fought down the urge to squish his cheeks.
And then Donghyuck started eating, and Mark watched in a quiet sort of satisfaction as he gobbled down the food like it was the last meal he was ever gonna eat. That thought made him sad and worried and he told Donghyuck to eat slowly or he'd make himself sick. Surprisingly, he did try and slow down.
"Do you want anything to drink?" He asked as he watched Donghyuck swallow his last bite of cake. He got an affirmative nod and he tossed him a half-full bottle of water that was on his bedside table.
There was a couple of minutes of silence as both just sat there. Mark was fighting sleep and Donghyuck looked like he was in an internal war with himself.
"I'll go then-"
"You can stay if you want-"
They both started at the same and stopped abruptly. Mark could feel his cheeks heating up and Donghyuck was staring at the floor.
"It's fine, I'll go. I just- thanks for the food."
"It's the least I could do."
Donghyuck nodded. "Sorry about the dirt."
There was a stretch of silence.
"I can let you out the front door, y'know," Mark offered, but Donghyuck shook his head. He was already putting his shoes back on.
"It's fine. I'm good at climbing."
"That pipe is literally the worst thing for climbing, but okay."
"Don't doubt my abilities noodle boy."
Mark was about to ask him what the fuck noodle boy was supposed to mean, but Donghyuck was already climbing onto the windowsill, carefully shifting his weight on the way too fucking old pipe. Mark looked away, it was making him feel dizzy.
"Please don't die, I want to go to bed."
"I'm gonna fall just to piss you off," he heard Donghyuck mutter, then he heard a soft thump and he stuck his head out the window.
Donghyuck, safe and sound on the ground, gave him a smile and a wave and said, "See ya around Mark," before turning on his heel and running out onto the street and out of sight.
Mark was left half hanging out of his window with his mouth slightly open, breathing in the cold late autumn air at quarter past two in the morning, wondering what the actual fuck had just happened.