The moment doesn’t last long.
The barista, unaware of what has just happened in his coffee shop, loudly announces that both Donghyuck’s most-caffeinated-drink-they-have, and Mark’s mocha, are ready for them.
The boys turn to the counter, grabbing their drinks and quietly thanking the barista, who seems to have just realized he’s interrupted something, the atmosphere around them changing into one that is more awkward than anything else.
“Um,” Mark starts, shuffling his feet as he speaks. Donghyuck can’t help but think that it’s adorable. “I’ve got some time, if you do, to sit down?”
Donghyuck wants nothing more than to agree, but his face falls as he replies, “Ah, I can’t, I’m so sorry. I actually have a doctor’s appointment in, like, ten minutes.”
Mark tries (and fails) to hide the disappointment on his face as he nods in understanding. Donghyuck feels worse than bad.
“But,” he offers, “I can give you my number? And I can text you? Or you can text me?”
Mark is pulling out his phone before Donghyuck can even finish his rambling, pushing it into Donghyuck’s only free hand, new contact screen already open. Donghyuck can’t stop the smile from forming at Mark’s sense of urgency as he types his number in.
He hands the phone back to the boy, a belated sense of embarrassment at the sheer number of emojis he had attached to his name. “I really have to go now,” he explains, “But text me, and I’ll text back as soon as I can, okay?”
Mark nods. “Sure, Donghyuck. Talk to you later!”
Donghyuck waves as he makes his way out of the café, back into the brisk air.
He gets a text from Mark as he’s sitting in the waiting room of his doctor’s office. He’s tempted to reply, but the moment he opens the text box, his name is called, and he’s following a friendly nurse down a familiar hallway.
Dr. Moon is a nice man, not too much older than Donghyuck himself, and because of this, Donghyuck feels comfortable talking to him. That’s why, when Dr. Moon asks how Donghyuck’s sleep has been going, he doesn’t need to hold back.
“It’s still been the same,” he begins, “But I actually just met my soulmate this morning. So I guess I’ll see what happens now!”
A smile spreads across Dr. Moon’s face, and he doesn’t hesitate to wrap Donghyuck in a hug. “That’s great, Donghyuck!” He says, “I’m happy for you!”
Donghyuck feels warm. He’s happy for himself, too.
Once he leaves the office, Donghyuck sends a quick reply to Mark, ‘hey sry for leaving u on read i got called in at basically the exact same time i got ur text’
He only gets to walk half a block before the reply comes, ‘don’t worry about it!’
Donghyuck doesn’t quite know how to reply to that, sleep clouding his brain as he drags himself the last couple blocks to his home. His phone buzzes with another text as he’s unlocking his front door, and he waits until he’s inside with his shoes off to read it.
‘ok i admit i’m a really dry texter, lol. anyway, do u have any more plans for today?’
Donghyuck types back a simple reply at first; ‘just sleep tbh’ and then regrets it upon pressing send. He quickly types again, ‘i go to night school and i usually just go to sleep right afterwards but i couldnt today so im like exhausted :/’
The reply from Mark comes quickly, ‘oh thank god. i’m literally laying in bed in my pjs rn and i was worried u would ask me to meet up with u and then i’d have to get ready and everything’
Donghyuck laughs, nearly choking on toothpaste as he does so. ‘lol, no. u dont need to worry about that from me’
He presses send before typing again; ‘but would u like to meet up after school tonight? if ur not busy of course’
He puts his pyjamas on while waiting for the reply, so nervous about being rejected that he accidentally puts his shirt on inside out. When he hears his phone buzz on his bed, he dives to grab it.
‘sure! text me when u wake up and we can figure it out! good night (day?) donghyuck ♥’
To say his heart is doing somersaults would be an understatement.
When Donghyuck wakes up, his parents are both home from work, and he can smell some kind of stew being cooked. He grabs his phone from where it was charging on his nightstand, remembering what he had said to Mark earlier that day. He sends off a quick text, just telling the boy that he’s awake, and when he doesn’t get a response after a minute, assumes he’s still asleep. Donghyuck doesn’t blame him; if he could still be asleep right now, he would be. He got less sleep than he usually does, just because he was up for nearly two hours thinking about seeing Mark again. How cliché.
He gets dressed in his school clothes, which are just his regular clothes because his school doesn’t require a uniform, but he calls them school clothes because when he’s not in school he’s wearing pyjamas. His mother greets him as soon as he steps outside of his room, asking how his doctor’s appointment went. He tells her it went well, no changes and nothing to be worried about, before he steps into the bathroom to calm his historically difficult bedhead.
After about ten minutes of brushing and styling, he emerges from the bathroom to see dinner is served. He sits quietly at the table, his parents having waited for him to begin eating, and compliments his mother on the delicious stew as soon as he digs in. Quite frankly, he doesn’t know how it really tastes. That’s not to say it’s bad, or tasteless, he just can’t focus on anything besides his get together - date? - with Mark after school.
Which reminds him.
“Hey, Mom,” he says, clearing his throat. Both his mother and his father look up at him and he continues, “I’m thinking of going out with a friend for breakfast after school. Is that okay?”
He doesn’t actually need to ask, he knows his parents will allow him, but he always asks just out of respect.
His mother agrees, as expected, and dinner continues in silence.
Donghyuck can’t concentrate in school. Any time that is supposed to be free work time is spent instead texting Mark. His teachers don’t care, Donghyuck is usually a hard worker, especially after Jaemin left school, so one day of slacking off won’t harm his grades. They pretend not to see when he tries to sneak his phone under his desk.
He and Mark agree on a small local restaurant for breakfast, one that Mark swears has the best waffles in town.
At lunch, Donghyuck texts Jaemin. He knows the boy won’t reply until the morning, probably while he’s with Mark, but he doesn’t care. He wants his friend to know the news as soon as possible.
As school comes to an end, Donghyuck feels nervousness bubbling in his stomach. He tries to ignore it as he exits the building, reading a text from Mark saying he’s excited to see him, and he tries to express the same level of excitement as he replies.
Twenty minutes later, he finds himself at a cozy restaurant, in a booth, sitting across from his soulmate. It’s surreal, to say the least.
And it’s awkward.
The boys both have coffees in front of them, their breakfast orders already sent to the kitchen, and now they sit in silence, trying to think of something, anything to fill the air.
“Uh,” Donghyuck begins, “So. Where do you travel to over the summer?”
Mark looks surprised for a moment before he answers, “I go to Canada. Vancouver.”
“Oh,” Donghyuck replies, interested, “Is it pretty? I’ve never left Korea before.”
Mark shrugs, “It’s okay,” he says. “Overrated, in my opinion. But I was born there, so I guess my opinion doesn’t count. I’m too used to it, you know?”
“Is that why you visit every year?”
“Yeah,” Mark nods, “I go to see my parents. They still live there.”
Donghyuck’s eyes widen. Mark can’t be much older than him. “But you’ve been here as long as I can remember! Have your parents stayed in Canada this entire time?”
“Yeah, they have,” Mark confirms, “But don’t worry! I live with my grandparents here. I’m not all by myself.”
Donghyuck sighs in relief, “Oh, good.”
From there, the conversation continues comfortably, until their food arrives. The boys are too busy scarfing down the best waffles in town to really make conversation.
After they finish breakfast, and Mark insists on paying for Donghyuck’s food, the boys are hesitant to head back to their homes. They walk a couple blocks down the street, speaking quietly about nothing in particular, when Donghyuck spots a park. It has a dirt walking path that is lined with trees covered in leaves of varying shades of orange and red. He nudges Mark, pointing to the park ahead. “Wanna walk through there?”
Mark agrees easily, and the two make their way through the gate and over to the walking path.
They walk quietly for a couple minutes, simply enjoying the scenery, before Donghyuck breaks the silence with a whisper. “What do you think is going to happen to our sleeping? Like, if I tried, do you think I could sleep at night now?”
Mark looks over at him, eyebrows scrunched together. “What do you mean?”
Donghyuck shrugs, looking down at his shoes. “I dunno. I just...I kinda like being up at night time instead of during the day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like mornings like this too. But midday, when the town is bustling with people and everything is crowded? It’s not really my thing. It’s stupid, I guess.”
Mark grabs Donghyuck’s hand, and it takes everything in him to hold back a blush. With his friends, Donghyuck is all about skinship, but with Mark it feels different. Must be the soulmate thing.
“I don’t think it’s stupid, Hyuck.” Donghyuck does blush at the nickname. “If you don’t want to be awake during the day time then you don’t have to be. I’ve spent basically my entire life awake at night, I don’t mind continuing that.”
Mark’s words are soothing, exactly what Donghyuck needed to hear.
He sighs. “But...but it feels like I’m missing out. You know? I know you know. We can’t go swimming in the summer because we’re asleep all day long, and the water is too cold to swim at night. We don’t get to sit out and enjoy the sun in the middle of July.”
Mark frowns at this. “Sure we do. I go to the beach every summer when I go to Canada. Don’t you sleep at night when I’m gone?”
Donghyuck looks up at him, confused. “No? I mean, I try. But I usually can’t fall asleep.”
Mark opens his mouth, to continue speaking, but in that moment everything suddenly clicks for Donghyuck. “Oh my God,” he says, “I’m the insomniac! I’ve been the one keeping both of us awake every night! Wow. I’m sorry!”
Mark laughs at this. “You don’t have to apologize, Donghyuck! It’s not your fault! I…” He quiets down, blush forming on his cheeks, “I don’t know if I’ve been the reason we’ve been awake every night, but I know I wasn’t helping anything. It doesn’t bother me. I like the night time.”
Donghyuck nods, leaning his head on Mark’s shoulder, not caring to be embarrassed anymore. It’s his soulmate, for Christ’s sake.
“We’ll figure everything out,” Mark says, voice calming, “Don’t worry.”
By the time the boys finished the loop path through the forest, they were too tired to do anything more than wish each other a good night, and make their way back to their homes.
When Donghyuck arrived home, he noticed a text from Jaemin.
‘congrats hyuckie!!! cant wait to meet him ;)’
‘lmao that can only happen if u actually stay up...hes a nighttime guy like me o:)’ Donghyuck replies, before changing into his pyjamas and slipping into bed.
He’s about to let his eyes slip closed, before his phone starts buzzing on his nightstand and doesn’t stop. He looks at the screen, to see who is phoning him, and is surprised to see Mark’s name.
“Oh my God, Donghyuck, I just realized,” Mark replies in lieu of a greeting.
Donghyuck sits up. “Realized what?”
“I totally forgot to ask you to be my boyfriend!”
Mark speaks as if he’s made an unforgivable mistake, and Donghyuck laughs. “So you had to phone me, instead of waiting until you saw me in person again?”
“Yes!!” Mark replies, tone insistent. “I needed to ask you as soon as I could!”
“Well are you going to do it?”
A pause. “Right.” Mark’s voice is quieter now, softer. “Donghyuck. Would you like to be my boyfriend?”
Donghyuck has to fight to keep his voice composed as he replies, “Of course I would, Mark Lee.”
“Oh thank God,” Mark replies with a sigh of relief, “I was worried you were going to make me ask you in person, and then you would see how badly I’m blushing right now.”
“Hmm, maybe I should,” Donghyuck replies with a giggle.
“Nope! No take backsies! Have a goodnight, Hyuck!” And with that, Mark hangs up.
Donghyuck texts him, ‘i wasnt actually gonna make u ask me in person dork’
‘u have a good night too’
And he falls asleep with love in his heart.
The following months pass pleasantly. Mark and Donghyuck see each other almost daily, even if it’s just when Mark walks him home from school in the mornings.
Winter comes and goes quickly, the boys sharing their first kiss in the first snow. It’s all very cute and very cliché and exactly what Donghyuck has wanted his entire life. Mark and his grandparents visit Donghyuck’s house on Christmas Eve, and the families spend the holiday together.
Spring passes even faster, April showers bring May flowers which Mark then picks from the side of the road to surprise Donghyuck with after school. Donghyuck thinks he couldn’t ask for a sweeter soulmate. Then he voices his feelings, because he’s allowed to do that, and watches happily as a blush spreads on Mark’s face. The older boy shoves him lightly, then pulls him back to press a light kiss on his cheek.
Before he knows it, it’s June, and Donghyuck is graduating. Mark attends his graduation ceremony, of course, and after his mother has taken all her photos of Donghyuck with his diploma, Mark whisks him away from the commotion, face a mix of excitement and nervousness.
“No offense, Mark, but you better not be pulling me away from the crowd just so you can kiss me or something, because that would be really underwhelming.”
Mark laughs, shoving Donghyuck playfully. “You know I wouldn’t. All your classmates have seen me kiss you probably more than they want to.”
Donghyuck nods at this. It’s just a fact. They’re that relationship.
“No,” Mark continues, “I actually have a question for you. About the summer.”
Donghyuck has been avoiding thinking about the summer. He knows that Mark goes to Canada for an entire month, and he hasn’t wanted to think about being alone for the month that Mark is gone.
Mark takes his lack of a reply as a sign to continue, and does just that. “So you know that I go to Canada in the summer.” Donghyuck nods. “Well, I was wondering...uh. Okay wait. I won’t be upset if you say no, okay? You don’t have to! But I wanted to know if you wanted to come with me this year?”
Mark looks the most nervous Donghyuck has ever seen him, feet kicking the dirt around him, hand rubbing his neck, eyes trained to the ground.
Donghyuck grabs his shoulders, looking him in the eyes. “Of course. I would love to come to Canada with you, Mark.”
Mark lets out a sigh of relief, followed by a nervous chuckle. “Oh, thank God.” The entire exchange reminds Donghyuck of when Mark had asked him out, all those months ago, and it makes him smile. “I already asked my parents, and they said they’re okay as long as your parents are okay, so I asked your parents, and they said if you want to then they’re okay with it, but then I got scared that maybe you wouldn’t want to go, and then everything would be a waste of time, and I would have to go tell everyone sorry-”
Donghyuck cuts off Mark’s babbling with a kiss to the boys lips. He hears no complaints, as the older brings his hands up to cup Donghyuck’s face.
Donghyuck slowly pulls away, smile on his face. “C’mon,” he says, taking Mark’s hand in his own and tugging him back to the crowd, “Let’s celebrate the fact that I’m finally finished the hell hole that is public school.”
Canada is amazing.
Donghyuck has no idea how Mark can call Vancouver overrated. There’s so many things to do!
Not to mention, Mark’s parents are wonderful. So welcoming and kind, they hugged Donghyuck as soon as they saw him in the airport with Mark, as if welcoming him to the family.
Donghyuck is able to be awake during the day for the first week or so that he is in Canada, just because of the large time difference, but eventually insomnia catches up with him and he is once again up all night. Mark doesn’t complain when this happens, easily working his schedule around Donghyuck’s, the two boys always sleeping at the same time.
It’s the night before they’re supposed to leave, and the two are at a pier, staring into the dark water. The stars from the night sky reflect on the ripples of the water, and Donghyuck is mesmerised.
“I really love you, you know.” He says, not taking his eyes off the ocean. It’s not the first time he’s told Mark this, nor will it be the last, but it feels different to him, this time. He hopes Mark feels it too. It feels more important.
Mark scoots closer, wrapping his arm around Donghyuck’s waist and pressing a light kiss to the boy’s temple. “I really love you too.” And it feels different coming from Mark this time, too, so he assumes Mark felt the difference in his own words.
They’re silent a few more moments, Donghyuck leaning his head down on to Mark’s shoulder, as he whispers, “Thank you for bringing me here. To Canada with you.”
With the hand that isn’t wrapped around his waist, Mark grabs Donghyuck’s hand. “I wouldn’t have wanted to come if it weren’t with you. I would have missed you too much.”
Donghyuck feels his cheeks warm as he replies, “That’s cheesy.”
Mark laughs. “Yeah, it is. But you love it.”
Donghyuck finally tears his eyes away from the water to look up at Mark. “Yeah. I do.”
It’s been a year since Mark met his soulmate, and he loves him.
He’s never loved someone before Donghyuck, and he can’t dream of a life without Donghyuck, so he doesn’t need to think about loving someone after Donghyuck. He just really, really, loves Donghyuck.
And he finds peace in knowing Donghyuck loves him back, just as much.