Fifteen, he has freckles scattered over his nose like fallen deities and his blush reaches his ears. His hair is as black as the blooming bruise on his back that's hiding under his school uniform, struck by lightning and he doesn't know how to not be as loud as thunder. When Jeno introduces the boy (Mark, he says in a way that only spells trouble), the laughter-loving, young god of a boy, his smile is lopsided and his fingers twitch. He's all bones and wires, connected to static and the top of the roof, storms love him. When he kneels, it's easy, years of falling to his knees on pews and praying to be drowned in forgiveness comes easy to him, too.
Fifteen, hand marks are seen easily on his pale, so easy to bruise skin, so he asks for Donghyuck to hold somewhere else, farther, a little further down. He kisses delicately, like a prey to a predator, but when he pulls back and grins, lust-drunk, eyes purple and half-lidded, he looks more like the wolf than the poor deer.
Fifteen, Donghyuck is absolutely mad for him.
Sixteen, he's begging for the world, arms spread, either waiting for death or someone to coddle him, it doesn't matter to him. More people stare after him now that he's filled himself in, sharp bones, hips, clavicles, and mouth. The kind of attractive that mixes leather jackets holding flowers by your front porch. Trouble. He's still young, the kind that makes the planets wait for him so they can align, the universe was built in his image, afterall. He looks for Donghyuck in any room, knows when he's there, has the seventh sense for him. "What's the sixth sense?" Donghyuck would ask him, breath ghosting his ear. His bunk is cramped but he loves the feeling of fitting in the empty places Mark has ripped open for them. The loudness of him curls around Donghyuck's syllables and breaths, curls over his silence. "You and me," Mark would answer back impatiently and bring their lips to meet in a way that the universe stops, in a way that the very fabric of time has no chance against Mark Lee and his impatient hands.
Sixteen, there are calluses on the pads of his stark fingers, knuckles red and purple like the young organs in him, like the bites Donghyuck leaves in between his thighs. If Jeno notices, he doesn't show it. Donghyuck runs his battered hands over the pale column of Mark's neck, like when Rome was still alive, when they were younger than dead kings.
Sixteen, Donghyuck is never leaving him.
Seventeen, the age where he's atomic. Donghyuck tastes the bomb on his tongue, hears the ticking in his heartbeat. A part of Mark is still stuck back home, to mundane afternoons and picket fences, to the cool croon of Elvis on the teal radio left in the kitchen, to his mother's hair flying, to the ocean drowning around him. He rolls his sleeves up and shows firmer bones, tougher skin. When Mark looks at Donghyuck, he looks like the world is ending. When he looks at Donghyuck, it's like Donghyuck never ruined him, almost like he forgives him. They smoke together quietly, but he's as bright and loud as a supernova so Jeno points -- points to the porch, the back of the venue, says, "There. You can see the smoke rising from his mouth." Poison comes from the cigarette hanging loosely between his fingers. Donghyuck trades death between their mouths.
Seventeen, university sweaters, beads on a leather cord around his Adam's apple. His voice is as deep as the bass he plays. When he's distracted, his atoms are as scattered as his freckles, spread out all across his face now. Jawline hard like that of a marble statue, immortal. Ruined. Lift his shirt up, glass windows with light spilling through. Rib cage clean, like he's licked off the bone marrow and the hurt.
Seventeen, Donghyuck can't imagine him living long enough to see the world burn for them.
Eighteen, James Dean on a swing set. He holds his hands on his lap carefully, positions himself carefully, like he's trying to make himself small. Imagines Donghyuck's eyelashes fluttering against his chest. He blends in with the stillness and dark of the night, long limbs and short years. His fingernails are raw, his voice is scratched. He still loves like he's fifteen. He can't look at Donghyuck until they're in whoever's bed, taking off their clothes and he pretends, for a while, that everything is still good, like he's looking up at the wine-red of the virgin mary's robes at church, and prays, like he still believes. He never owns matching socks, one will always be someone else's. He starts biting the knuckle of his thumb nowadays, brown eyes glacier cold, skin molten dreams. Donghyuck looks at him and it's like everything they had is no longer there. Mark looks back at Donghyuck and it's like lightning striking the middle of field, the highway to hell.
Eighteen, a rebel playing for the home team. The world spins. Vertigo. Donghyuck kisses his eyelid. The Day the Earth Stood Still. Mark's grown his hair out, like Samson before he crumbled. He's grown his limbs out, ivy twirling like DNA strands. Sore shoulders and cracking knees. When Donghyuck looks at him he thinks young, he thinks eternal, he thinks fucked. They walk in the morning dew, and if Mark were any younger he'd take Donghyuck's hand in his, fingers intertwined like vineyards, the longevity of wine. He can't wait that long.
Eighteen, Donghyuck kisses him like it's going to be the last time.
Nineteen, "Do you regret the midnight you kissed me and took everything I had?"
Twenty, Donghyuck's breath tastes sober. It's a perfect match for the apocalypse on the edge of his tongue.
Twenty-one, history boys and honey eyes.
Twenty-two, he's still so young, the spoilage of war written on the knobs of his spine. He chases the taste of his youth in Donghyuck's gums.
Twenty-three, Icarus loving Apollo. It's summer. It's suicide.
Twenty-four, pills, pills, neon signs that scream once you enter, you won't ever leave. He wishes clairvoyants would stop looking at him like they're sorry. He wishes Donghyuck would stop looking at him like he's the one who left.
Twenty-five, "Didn't you promise me, Hyuckie? We're going to rule the world together, baby."
Twenty-six, he's on Donghyuck's front porch. He looks fifteen. When Donghyuck kisses him softly like a car crash, his blush reaches his ears and all the way down to his neck. Rain pours and he goes easily into Donghyuck's hands like nothing has ever happened between them. When he inhales the chemicals, he says a prayer into Donghyuck's skin. He has the kind of hands that either hold a rosary or a handful of pills. Like skinny dipping in the moonlight. Like porcelain and marble and boys who were meant to be gods. He's twenty-six and it's like Donghyuck had never left. Not at all.
Twenty-seven, and Donghyuck gets the call that gods die, oh god they die and don't breathe and bleed ichor, Hyuckie. And Donghyuck asks Jeno to make sense but it doesn't make sense at all when Jeno tells him that Mark isn't going to be waiting on his front porch anymore, waiting by his old bunk, waiting for him at all. That he's somewhere -- a bathtub, a shower, his car, his bed, with a bottle of pills in one hand, a rosary on the other. But it's bullshit. He has Donghyuck's heart and time in both of his hands but now he's all run out.
Twenty-seven, and Mark doesn't wake up.
(Once, Donghyuck loved a boy as long as he lived. A young god. When he was fifteen, his freckles scattered over his nose like fallen deities and his blush reached his ears.)