“Mark! Thank God you’re here!” Jackson says, eyes frantic and hair out of place as he paces the hall. “This is a disaster!”
Mark blinks, still recovering from his once a week night class plus the walk over from that lecture, across campus. He’s barely entered the shared house he, Jackson, and they’re five other friends rent out when Jackson had pulled him aside, away from the people and the crowd growing steadily larger. Jackson tosses out a few grins and several greeting “hey’s!” back as he drags Mark behind. When they reach the emptier kitchen, Jackson’s face drops.
“I don’t know what to do! I was supposed to get Luna and Amber together tonight but now it looks like Amber is just paying attention to Jimin? Like when did that happen? And I know we could spin this in a jealousy angle but what if that actually doesn’t work? What if Luna or Amber or even Jimin go too far and-okay, we can still salvage this. They’re open to being poly right? I’m sure if I mention a few things and get some thoughts into everyone’s heads it really could work out-”
During the time Jackson was rambling, Mark had enough time to get open, and drain a can of soda. After his finishes his drink, he wipes his mouth on the back of his hand, dumps the can and stops Jackson’s pacing with a hand on his chest, halting his momentum.
“Jacks, everything will work out okay. Even if no one gets together tonight it’s fine-”
Jackson gasps dramatically and grips the kitchen counter beside himself. “Markie-pooh how could you say that? How could you say that to me?!”
Mark rolls his eyes and tosses his bag higher over his shoulder. “I’m gonna go put my stuff away and maybe change. Do you need anything from the room?”
Jackson’s face relaxes and he straightens up. He smiles softly, naturally. “No, I’m okay. Thank you though.”
Jackson pulls Mark forward by hem of his shirt to kiss him, chaste.
“Go on up, I’ll see you soon.” Jackson smiles at him once more before he heads out into the fray of people in their living room.
Mark has one foot on the stairs and can already hear Jackson hollering at Bambam and Yugyeom for their “uninspired, clearly lack of care, unromantic snack placement.” Mark rolls his eyes and takes the stairs up two at a time.
“Ugh! That was a disaster! Luna didn’t even show up, Jimin switched from Amber to hang out with Kevin the rest of the night, and then don’t even get me started on those painful, longing glances between Daehyun and Youngjae? God, I thought that last round of drunk jenga would have gotten them back together for sure!”
Jackson sighs, frustrated as he chucks his shirt in the direction of the hamper.
“I think we should take a break from the parties Jackson,” Mark says, gently, closing the door behind him. It’s late, or early really and there’s a few more things to clean up tomorrow and Mark isn’t sure this is sustainable, and he’s not talking about the house.
“What? How could you say that to me? This is my calling Mark!” Jackson grins as he gestures around the room. The smile reaches his eyes but all Mark can see are the eyebags darkening underneath them.
“Don’t you know that all lasting, loving, and long relationships start at a party?” Jackson says, hands on his hips and lecturing like an elementary school teacher.
“Jackson, we didn’t even meet at a party.”
“Um...We did actually.”
Mark blinks. “What?”
Jackson smiles, sheepish, rubbing the back of his neck.
“That’s-that’s kinda why I know my parties work -one of them got me you.”
Jackson fidgets under Mark’s gaze, not uncomfortable, just vulnerable. “I figured you didn’t remember, you were pretty drunk. Okay to be fair, a lot of us were, but I just remember seeing you perched on that crappy kitchen counter tossing swigs of vodka and fireball and whatever weird jungle juice Jae made in the bathroom back like it was water and hearing you giggle when no one around you could take it back like that and still win at beer pong.
“That stuck with me for a long time and then we had that class together and well, that was my chance, you know?
And then we met the rest of the guys and we all got along and now we have this house -and remember that house warming party we had? The one where Jae finally realized he had feelings for Brian? I think that’s how it started...” Jackson trails off, lost in a memory.
He shakes himself a little and looks back up at Mark. “I was just...always so thankful I threw that party where I first saw you and then realized that stuff like that was happening for other people too and-”
Jackson’s brow furrows, unsure of how to articulate, of how to get Mark to understand. “Mark, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me -is it so bad that I want other people to find someone to them like how you are to me?”
“Jackson...” Mark whispers, stunned, eyes wide in wonderment.
Jackson ducks his head in embarrassment and forcefully releases air through his nose, making a noise in his throat that makes Mark want to coo at him.
“I know you’re worried about me and all these parties that aren’t just parties anymore -and you’re right, I should probably slow down a bit, but...” Jackson shrugs and smiles up at Mark.
Mark’s ears turn red and in retaliation for all the feelings he’s feeling, he comes up and pokes Jackson’s forehead with his finger hard enough he falls back onto the bed, staring up at Mark, surprised. Mark runs his hand through Jackson’s hair before he can say anything.
“I get it,” he starts. “I understand a little more now, but please take a rest for a little while.” Mark starts to frown as his thumbs the dark circles under Jackson’s eyes.
“Okay,” Jackson agrees.
“Unless I see someone that’s really having-”
Mark places his hand on Jackson’s mouth. “No.”
Mark’s hands move to pinch at Jackson’s cheeks. “You’re spending all this energy trying to set people up,” Mark leans closer to him, “let me keep you busy for a little while, yeah?”
Jackson’s throat dries. “Y-yeah.”