when mark wakes up and sees the bright white of the sterile hospital lights shining above him, he knows he’d be better off dead.
now, this isn’t because he’s in pain, or because he’d rather not be alive, but because he knows that once his mom hears he’s at the hospital again, she’s going to drive down to kill him herself. and no matter what mark’s mom likes to think, he does like living, thank you very much.
he sighs hard enough that his matted bangs fly up in the air before flopping back down on his forehead, he doesn’t know how long he’s been in here but he settles back into the bed with the easy acceptance of someone who’s been in this exact situation before, many times.
he takes stock of what he feels, but knows to wait until a nurse checks in on him because he might be on pain medication. so far he can wiggle his fingers and toes and all his limbs seem to be out of casts so everything is looking up. he’s not wearing a neck brace or has a catheter inserted so all in all, mark thinks he’s in a better condition than he thought considering he’s not in pain. in fact, he can barely feel anything at all except for the muted sensations of the sheets rubbed against his exposed skin and the barely there weight of his head on the pillow.
he stares at the ceiling tiles like they have all the answers of the universe, attempting to remember what happened and how he got here. if mark is expecting to freeze-frame-record-scratch recollect, it’s clearly not working. admittedly, while mark isn’t sure how exactly he ended up back in the hospital, he knows for sure it was because of a wrong landing. knowing him, he probably saw a cool trick and wanted to see if he could do it himself. it’s not the first time he’s tried things like that and very clearly not stuck the landing.
mark’s startled from his reverie when the door to his room opens and a nurse walks in. well, mark thinks it’s a nurse. the man that walks in is in the scrubs that all the nurses at this hospital wear (mark’s been admitted enough times to know) and is making his way over to mark, chart in hand.
the edges of his vision are a little blurry but mark can still make out the way the nurse’s arm bulge in his scrubs when the nurse takes a look at his vitals and flexes his arm when he reaches to check the IV in mark’s arm.
mark has met a lot of men who look like this nurse and still has about 90% of the Fight left without an outlet within him, so of course the first thing that comes out of mark’s mouth is:
“fight me,” mark demands, words slurred as his mouth feels like it’s filled with cotton, glaring at the what he thinks is the nurse but is just the movable monitor.
the nurse doesn’t even blink an eye before he’s lowering mark’s hospital bed incline down a few centimeters and fluffing the pillows mark is laying on.
“sure, maybe later,” the nurse says, smiling down at mark as he pulls mark’s blankets over him to tuck him in. “get some rest first.”
the next time mark is awake, he’s ready. he feels the familiar restless energy collecting in his limbs, body on the precipice of activity. the only thing holding him down is the blanket over his legs and his doctors glare reminding him that he has to take better care of himself and stop putting himself into these situations, blah blah blah -
mark’s attention is only piqued when the doctor’s last words before leaving his room is “oh and take your pills please, i’ll send in the nurse to check in with you-“
mark gulps the pills down dry, despite the scratchiness of his throat. mark’s pride is on the line here, okay. he’s already embarrassed himself in front of his assigned nurse, he can’t back down from his challenge now -mark can’t have this (kind and kind-on-the-eyes) nurse thinking he’s all bark and no bite.
(“hyung,” jaebum starts, pinching the bridge of his nose. “i’m usually right along with you doing stupid shit, but i’ve had to take your ass to and from this hospital five times already this year can you please not-“
“im jaebum,” mark says in his most serious of Serious voices. “my street cred is on the line here-“
“what street cred?!”)
there’s really nothing else that mark can do. he knows he looks pathetic with his unwashed hair and not properly cleansed face, dark bags under his eyes. the dry, stagnant hospital air makes mark’s throat itch and his lips chap. he’s dressed in the standard, unflattering hospital gown and is surrounded on all sides by sterile white sheets, making his skin look too pale and translucent.
there is truly nothing else mark can do but back up his fighting words, so the next time his door opens, mark doesn’t hesitate to point at the nurse from yesterday, index finger pointing at him in a way that holds all of mark’s hypermasculine spartan challenge in the tip of his finger, thrust forward like it’s issuing a divine command.
“fight me-,” he says before his throat closes up and he wheezes through the longest coughing fit of his life.
the nurse sets the styrofoam cup he brought with him on mark’s side table as he helps mark sit up and pats his back to help him through his coughing fit. his hand is warm where it rests on mark’s back.
“well, i don’t really like to fight people who i don’t know, so my name is jackson,” jackson the nurse says as he hands mark mark’s water bottle.
“mark,” mark says between swallowing mouthfuls of water and trying not to hack it back up.
“it’s nice to meet you mark.” jackson smiles at him, eyes pinching at the corners. he fluffs mark’s pillow and glances at mark’s monitor.
“to be honest, i don’t really want to fight you.”
“scared?” mark croaks from where he’s lying tiredly on the sheets. who knew coughing could take a lot out of you?
jackson huffs a surprised laugh as he straightens out mark’s blanket - mark has been shivering since his fit had ended. he pulls the blanket up underneath mark’s chin and smoothes out the corners, a smile tugging at his lips. “nah, it’d be too easy a win for you, i think.”
mark swears he had a comeback ready at the tip if his tongue, but the smell of jackson’s cologne lingers a little after the nurse leaves and by the time mark realizes he never said anything to answer jackson, he’s already forgotten what he was going to say.
over the course of the next few days of mark’s admission, mark takes every opportunity to try to get jackson to fight him. when outright challenges don’t seem to work, mark decides to change tactics. he makes it especially difficult for jackson when the nurse has to change mark’s IV, fidgeting every so often jackson misses reconnecting the tube a few times. he pouts and whines and complains about the hospital food and how jackson is torturing him when be confiscates all caffeine from the immediate area. keeps poking and prodding and asks inane questions when jackson is checking his vitals or taking in his chart in hopes of annoying a response not a smile out of him.
jaebum calls him a boy with a schoolyard crush. mark replies that he’s just strategically wearing down a rival.
eventually, mark’s bruising starts to heal into colors that aren’t as dark as night and mark’s doctor tries to futilely guilt him into stop martial art tricking. mark keeps his eyes on the door as he lets the doctor’s speech flow in one ear and flow out the other.
mark tries not to feel a little disappointed when a nurse who is decidedly not jackson walks into his room and tells him all his paper and payments have been processed and that he’s free to leave.
he takes way too long to collect his stuff and manually types in jaebum’s number in his phone before calling him to get picked up. he cleans his table, throwing away trash and collecting cups. he strips the bed, folding the sheets and blanket before laying the pillow on top of the pile. he sits on the bed for a few long moments, staring almost aimlessly at the threshold, before he sighs and takes his clothes to the room’s bathroom to change.
he comes out in fresh clothes that bambam brought for him the day before and pauses when he sees a steaming cup of coffee placed on the table beside mark’s bed. he folds his hospital gown and places it next to the sheets before he slowly reaches to grab the paper cup, frowning in confusion. he’s one hundred percent sure he hadn’t ordered anything and starbucks doesn’t deliver so he turns the cup to check the name on the label.
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Tl Pike Roast
what makes mark laugh and smile wider than he has in days though, is the little note he finds on the cardboard sleeve.
fight me? ;)