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and miles to go before i sleep

Chapter Text

Mark is staring at the mirror again.

Not out of vanity—Yukhei supposes it's morbid fixation, seeing his mismatched eyes. One warm brown, the other slate grey, an artificial but functioning replacement. A remnant of the war that can’t be erased, just like Yukhei’s prosthetic leg; even now, Mark still has difficulty looking at him, all of him, even more when he catches a glimpse of his own reflection. 

When Mark looks into the mirror, he’s not really there. He’s in Black Widow’s cockpit, he’s in the stark white of a hospital room, he’s at the bottom of the ocean. Yukhei can almost hear the dissonant note in his mind, feel grey creeping up his limbs—all his imagination, of course. Another thing the war has robbed them of.

“Need help?” Yukhei finally says at length.

Mark snaps out of his trance, arms hanging limply at his sides. He gestures to the bowtie slung around his neck. “I don’t think we can attend the wedding,” he laments, wide eyes pleading with Yukhei through the mirror. “I can’t figure this thing out.”

Chuckling, Yukhei heaves his legs off the hotel bed, limping over to the vanity. “It’s easy,” he says, projecting an air of flippancy. “You cross one end over the other, tuck it under and…”

Mark grows silent again, but it’s not the catatonic state he was previously in—Yukhei knows he’s tuning out every word, a small smile on his lips as he stares shamelessly at Yukhei’s face. “Here I was teaching you,” he chides, giving the now finished tie one last pull. “And you don’t even bother to listen.”

“You can always tie my bows for me,” Mark reasons, reaching out to take Yukhei’s hands in his. His tone is light, but the crease between his brows hasn’t faded.

“What's wrong?” Yukhei asks softly, brushing an errant strand of hair from Mark’s forehead.

Mark stiffens, caught, but his hands relax in Yukhei’s as he starts to talk. “Jaehyun was supposed to be part of the entourage,” Mark answers quietly. “And Chenle—he would have loved to be here. Run around hopped up on wedding cake.” He shakes his head. “I know it's a happy occasion, but... I can't help thinking.”

Yukhei nods in understanding. Even yesterday, as he laid awake with Mark’s steady breaths on his neck, his mind was elsewhere. Kun would have loved Mark. And even on the slim chance that he didn’t, he would have loved the way Mark made Yukhei happy.

When Yukhei doesn’t answer, Mark barks out a small, self-deprecating laugh. “I'm sorry for being so morbid, today of all days. It's not at all about me.”

Yukhei shakes his head, squeezing Mark’s hands tighter. “It's what could have been. I understand.”

“You always do.” Finally, Mark smiles, giving Yukhei’s own bowtie a light tug. “You look handsome.”

His eyes drag over Mark's face, a slow sweep—brown and grey, and a long, jagged strip of tissue that starts at the edge of his hairline, down to his cheek. The scar itself is ugly, but Mark is beautiful. ”And you look lovely, as always.”

Mark presses close to kiss him, lips moulding against his in a gesture so familiar yet still somehow so new every time. Yukhei melts into the kiss like he always does, winding an arm around Mark’s waist, a hand braced on his cheek. Even with his eyes closed, the colour of rose petals floods his vision.

Pulling away, their smiles are mirror images. “Ready to go?” Yukhei suggests.

“The ceremony won’t be for another hour,” Mark reasons, trailing his fingers up the sleeve of Yukhei’s suit jacket. “Can’t we stay for a bit instead?”

“You’re the devil,” Yukhei mutters, but he bends down to give Mark another lingering kiss. “Satisfied?”

Mark hums. “When's our turn?” he wonders.

“Our turn?” Yukhei questions, lips quirking into a knowing smile. 

“You know…” Brows raised, Mark holds his left hand up, wiggling his fingers as though he can’t believe Yukhei is that dense.

“If you're trying to get me to ask…”

“I'm just curious!” Mark laughs. “It's not as if it was never part of the conversation.”

Yukhei frowns. “What do you mean? I was always planning on leaving you when I got bored.”

“Simply hilarious, Yukhei.” Mark’s eyes soften. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“Absolutely not,” Yukhei counters. “Let’s get your measurements right now.”

Laughing, Mark tiptoes to kiss Yukhei once more. “I was just asking, you know. They’re just rings and a piece of paper.”

“Not if they mean more than that to you,” Yukhei reasons.

Mark is smiling again. “You’re stuck with me regardless, rings and paper or not.”

Yukhei smiles, too, looking into those mismatched eyes, wondering what lies behind them. He had taken it for granted, the privilege of knowing Mark’s every thought, feeling every emotion as they shifted within him. It doesn’t matter—he has the rest of his life to learn again. “Yes, I am.”