Staring down at his screen, Mark thinks deep for a definite answer. He’s doing one of those Mention Parties on Twitter, and someone asked him what his favourite colour was. There was a time in his childhood where he wanted everything to be blue. He wanted his bag in blue, his shirt and pants, his socks. Hell, even his shoes.
“It looks nice! I like it,” he’d say whenever his Mom would ask why.
Then, somewhere in his pre-teen years, he started liking green. It’s during the time when he just met Donghyuck. His would-be best friend hated green so Mark took a liking to it out of spite. It stuck to him till now.
Skipping the question altogether since he couldn’t just pick one, Mark answers other funnier tweets. His answer comes about a week later, when Donghyuck barges through the front door and presents himself in all his preening glory. Phone forgotten, guitar forgotten, Mark stares with mouth agape at his best friend sporting purple hair.
“How do I look?” Donghyuck asks Taeil, spinning on the spot as he fluffs his hair even more with his hands.
“You look great!” Taeil compliments him. “Purple suits you.”
“Yeah, I like this shade of purple on you,” Jungwoo adds on.
“Hey, you don’t look bad at all,” Yuta calls out from behind.
Donghyuck beams from all the attention, happy that his members aren’t teasing him for being so bold with his choice. As if he notices something, Donghyuck swiftly spins to face Mark and grins even wider.
“What do you think, Hyung?” Donghyuck asks with a little chuckle laced in his tone.
Mark, having been caught staring, quickly darts his eyes away. He picks his guitar up as he stands from the couch. He nods and gestures to Donghyuck’s head before giving him a thumbs up.
“That’s it?” Donghyuck deadpans.
“You look nice, Channie,” with a little quiver in his voice, Mark forced out those words as smoothly as he could.
Donghyuck doesn’t just look nice. He looks utterly adorable. His long hair goes a little past his eyebrows, touching the tip of his eyelashes so that whenever he blinks, his hair moves with it. And it’s a sight to behold. Donghyuck runs a hand through his hair, combing it back.
Now that his eyes can clearly be seen and Mark makes eye contact with him, he can see how wrong his words are. His best friend’s not just nice and cute, he’s handsome too. Donghyuck has grown so much and he lost his baby fat quite some time ago. Mark knows, but he’s never really taken it in. Now, though, as his purple hair frames his exquisite features, Mark thinks it’s such a shame he didn’t answer that fan’s question.
“My favourite colour is purple,” Mark blurts out, face blank and eyes wide.
That exact shade of purple sitting atop Donghyuck’s pretty head is his favourite colour. Not the blue he liked at age 9, not the green he grew fond of at age 15, but that specific purple he’s standing face-to-face with now at 21.
“So you like it?” Donghyuck concludes all by himself.
Mark hums, nodding again. In English, he says, “I love it.”
It’s not like he’s doing it intentionally, and it’s not like he wants to do it, but Mark really can’t help avoiding any interactions with Donghyuck as much as he can. In practise rooms, in recording studios, in shooting sites, everywhere. If he can, he’d bolt out of there before Donghyuck comes along.
Just a few days ago he was affectionate to the point where even Johnny had questioned what was up with him. He took five steps forward, and three steps back. There’s still some progress because if he thinks he can handle his emotions well, he’d cling onto Donghyuck, tug on his ears or maybe talk to him. Still, him distancing is noticeable enough that Donghyuck would give him looks from afar.
In the van driving them back home after wrapping up the last scene for the music video, Donghyuck rushes in to sit next to Mark, grinning as he does so. They’re sitting at the very back, with the seat next to Donghyuck left empty because Doyoung who was supposed to sit there didn’t like being squeezed.
Donghyuck worms his way into Mark’s arms, smiling in pride when Mark accepts him without any resistance. One of Mark’s arms is wrapped around his shoulders while the other one lays motionless on his lap. Donghyuck reaches out, traces each of Mark’s fingers just for the sake of it, having nothing else to do.
“Are you tired?” Donghyuck whispers a question.
“Hm?” Mark’s brows twitch into a frown. He darts his eyes up from where their hands are connected and into Donghyuck’s eyes.
“Are you okay?”
Mark nods. “I’m more than okay.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Donghyuck warns. “I’ll know if you are. We’re soulmates, remember?”
Mark titters, his lips reaching far up to his ears as he takes Donghyuck’s words into consideration. Sometimes, he asks himself how Donghyuck could tell whether he’s tired or troubled about something, and comes to the conclusion that it’s merely because they’re soulmates.
“Do you know what soulmates mean, Donghyuck?” Mark quizzes him.
“Subjective. But it’s always someone you love unconditionally, who loves you back just the same. No matter what happens.” His best friend rests his head on Mark’s shoulder, closing his eyes in contentment. “Unless you’re saying that’s not the case.”
“I never said that.” Mark snorts. “Who wouldn’t love you?”
“Some fans don’t even like me,” Donghyuck replies without a second thought.
It’s sad but Mark can’t tell him that’s not true. It is. For some reason he can’t even imagine understanding, some fans dislike Donghyuck. But it goes all ways, really. There are fans who dislike Mark too, and what he does is he swallows the disappointment and focuses on improving himself for the sake of those who stand by him.
“Those fans don’t matter,” Mark states. No room for argument, no time for disagreement. “Let me rephrase; who, out of the people that matters to you, wouldn’t love you?”
“You but a few years ago.” Donghyuck goes sullen, pissed at the mere memory of Mark saying to his face how much he hates him.
He would like to say it’s one of the biggest mistakes he’s made but it’s not. If he hadn’t fought with Donghyuck, it wouldn’t have triggered his crush on Donghyuck. Mark would still be oblivious, he wouldn’t do all that thinking and feel himself grow out of his shell.
Mark takes a deep breath in. Donghyuck looks up expectantly, waiting for Mark’s answer. He freezes, mind going blank when the van drives under a tunnel and the lights shine even brighter through the windows. Donghyuck’s purple hair catches Mark’s attention yet again, and he feels a lump in his throat steadily growing in size.
“What?” Donghyuck notices the way he’s staring and asks.
Mark leans in, not much since they’re already pressed close anyway, and presses a kiss on Donghyuck’s forehead, over his hair. It’s different, more so than any other times Donghyuck has stolen kisses on Mark’s cheek, more so than the recent times where Mark returns the gesture on Donghyuck’s cheeks instead.
This time it’s on the forehead, softer, lingering like the wisps of winter cold seeping through and under the cracks of a door. It lingers in the atmosphere between them like the billow of emotions unmentioned and neglected that hangs over Mark’s head. It’s filled to the brim with a confession Mark wants to voice out, and it’s coated with affection which far exceeds that fitting for just a pair of best friends.
Mark does not worry as much now. Donghyuck himself made him realise that it’s okay. They’re soulmates, and Mark has faith in their friendship. His one-sided love shouldn’t be an obstacle at all because this friendship means more to them than anything else. Even if he’s rejected, he won’t lose Donghyuck.
He’ll never lose Donghyuck.
“If I didn’t hate you then, I wouldn’t love you now,” Mark mumbles with a smile, staring right back into Donghyuck’s twinkling eyes. His best friend’s face shifts and morphs from sulky to something akin to dumbfoundedness.
“Mark, did you know?” Donghyuck gulps, blinking himself back to take control of this situation. He looks for Mark’s confused response before continuing, “I think you’re the most handsome guy ever.”
“Where is this coming from?” Mark tries to act nonchalant about this. His ears heat up, though, but in the cover of the dark, Donghyuck wouldn’t notice anything.
“The director said Taeyong Hyung and Jaehyun Hyung are the best-looking men he’s seen. But you’re clearly the best one.” Donghyuck grins. His tone then lilts into a saccharine sweet one, “You’re the best, Markery. Mark Lee, you’re cute, and you’re handsome, and you’re cool. You dance well, you sing well, you’re so nice, you’re literally the best—”
“Okay, okay, I get it. Thank you.” Mark swallows the lump in his throat back down, turning to look out the window to try to hide his bashful smile.
This is Donghyuck’s way of saying thank you, of showing appreciation towards him. Mark wouldn’t want it any other way.
“No, Hyung, thank you.” Donghyuck intertwines their fingers together, turning to look out the window too. For him to say the words “thank you” aloud, Mark knows he’s thanking him for something else entirely.
Mark wonders what Donghyuck meant.
The manager calls Mark and tells him to come down to the lower floor’s apartment, saying he has something important to announce. He finds himself in Donghyuck and Johnny’s shared room. He spots his best friend’s phone—the one Mark bought him for his birthday—but he doesn’t see Donghyuck anywhere.
The manager comes in then, tone cheerful as he greets Mark first thing. Donghyuck then comes in, hair damp and still purple. Mark can’t help but to reach out for his best friend, taking the small towel from Donghyuck so he could help him dry his hair.
Wordlessly, Donghyuck takes a seat in front of Mark on the bed, trusting him to towel the back of his head dry. Up close with this splotch of purple, Mark remembers just a few weeks ago where they shared that particular moment in the van. He can’t get his mind off of that no matter what. He can’t figure out just why Donghyuck had thanked him. It unsettles him, to say the least, because while Donghyuck can figure out what’s wrong straight away, Mark can’t.
“Alright, so! I just got news that after Punch, you two will straight away be working for Dream’s next comeback!”
The news drops like a bomb in a small confined room. And maybe it is because Mark drops the towel in his hands, Donghyuck springs up on his two feet in shock, and the manager continuously nods his head with a huge smile to show that he’s serious. Mark mimics Donghyuck and stands beside him, waiting for the plan to be briefed to them.
“You’ll really be working as 7 again. Congratulations, boys. I know you love working with the kids.” The manager wraps up the briefing about the dates and etcetera in less than 5 minutes. “I’ll leave you two to celebrate.”
Once the manager leaves, Donghyuck turns to face Mark. His mouth hangs open, expressing disbelief and excitement amongst many other emotions he’s going through right now. Mark sits back down on the bed, head pounding with how hard his heart beats against his ribcage.
He swings his legs up and sits cross-legged there. He makes eye contact with Donghyuck for approximately 3 seconds before his best friend makes a sound akin to a squeal and leaps with joy. He pounces on Mark who already has his arms open for a hug.
They hug each other. Bodies throbbing with how the excitement pumps them alive. All the exhaustion from the day before disappears almost instantly. Mark inhales the refreshing scent of Donghyuck’s body soap and goes lax in his hold.
“I don’t believe it,” Donghyuck mumbles against the fabric of Mark’s shirt. He pulls away just slightly to look at Mark’s face. “Hyung, I don’t believe it. It’s really happening. We’ll actually—”
Mark nods before Donghyuck could finish his sentence. He nods again, and again, and now he’s smiling wide. His arms slide up from being wrapped around Donghyuck’s waist to his face. He cups his best friend’s face and squishes his cheeks.
Mark finds him adorable. It’s been such a long time since Donghyuck has smiled like this, so wide and unrestrained. There’s a difference between the unrestrained smiles on camera, and the unrestrained smiles that Mark sees on Donghyuck.
Only with him could Donghyuck laugh, smile, cry, or shake in anger. Only with Mark could Donghyuck show such a vulnerable side without being afraid.
“Hyung, you know I love you, right?”
“I do,” Mark murmurs.
“I love you, Mark Lee,” Donghyuck says again.
“I know,” Mark acknowledges his words again.
Donghyuck goes silent. He pulls back a few inches and that’s when Mark notices the position they’re in. He’s still sitting with his legs crossed, but half of Donghyuck’s body lays on his lap. He doesn’t let go, doesn’t want to, doesn’t push him away like all the other times he’s shoved Donghyuck off of him.
“Lee Minhyung, I love you,” Donghyuck whispers.
Something is off. His best friend is saying it too many times. If Mark showing physical affection was weird enough, Donghyuck verbally expressing such sacred words is even weirder. On top of that, calling his name like that.
“Donghyuck?” Mark calls out tentatively, his voice a mere level below a whisper.
“Lee Minhyung…” Donghyuck says again, eyes locked on Mark’s. His gaze doesn’t deter even when Mark drops his hands and gives up entirely.
Mark gives up.
“What’s your favourite colour?” Donghyuck asks.
“Who’s your best friend?” Donghyuck circles his arms around Mark’s neck.
“Who do I love?”
It takes a second before Mark, in uncertainty, says, “Me?”
“You.” Donghyuck nods. “My favourite colour is the colour of your hair, black. My best friend is you. And the person you love is me.”
“What… What are you getting at?” Mark’s voice breaks and it would have been extremely humiliating if it wasn’t Donghyuck sitting on his lap right now.
“I’m saying I love you, too, Mark.” Donghyuck plays with the hair on the back of Mark’s neck. “It took me a while to realise, but I love you the same way you love me.”
Mark has to take a deep breath in to compose himself. He scrunches the side of the oversized tee Donghyuck’s currently wearing and ducks his head down. He can’t quite understand.
“If this is a joke, Donghyuck—”
“Mark, what are you afraid of?” Donghyuck cuts in.
“Of them finding out.” Mark’s head shoots back up, meeting face to face with the rare sight of Donghyuck’s concerned gaze. “Among other things.”
“We’re soulmates, remember?” Donghyuck says with a chuckle. “It doesn’t mean we should flaunt our relationship. We don’t even need a relationship. For me, knowing you love me is enough.”
“Knowing you love me is… more than I could ever ask for.” Mark takes another deep breath in. “You make me want to cry.”
And he really does tear up. He tears up as he frames the side of Donghyuck’s face again, thumbs caressing his best friend’s ears. He cries as Donghyuck wipes his tears away.
“Can I kiss you?” Donghyuck asks all of a sudden, catching Mark off guard.
He chortles, one of his usual cheerful laughters slipping out. “Asking me for consent, huh? How 21st century of you.”
Donghyuck laughs too, a dumb giggle emitting from him. “You look so pretty.”
“With snot dripping down my nose? Okay.” Mark’s sarcastic tone only makes Donghyuck laugh harder.
“I saw you throw up on the rug in your room, Mark Lee. I even helped you clean it up. I don’t think you have it in you to be more disgusting than that.”
“Can you kiss me already?”
Donghyuck does. It starts off slow, unsure. It’s the first time Mark’s kissing a guy so he needs a little adjustment. Nothing wrong with it, Mark knows, but he’s never done it before. The scent of Donghyuck’s body soap, and the warmth radiating from him helps Mark relax into the kiss. It’s not magical like what he’d expect kissing Donghyuck would be.
It’s a tad clumsy, inexperience seeping through the lack of technique in the kiss but it’s what makes Mark even happier. It’s not magical because this isn’t a fairytale, it’s not some fantasy in Mark’s mind. This is real. He’s really kissing Donghyuck.
There’s no cliché background music playing in the background, no sparkles, no applause. There’s only Donghyuck mumbling “pretty” and “love you” into the kiss, only the sounds of them giggling together when the angle is wrong in some way, only the weight and heat of Donghyuck enveloping him.
Mark doesn’t feel like he’s going to float like some romance novels would describe it. In fact, he feels grounded. When their teeth clash and it hurts and they’d have to start again, when Donghyuck has to readjust his position so Mark’s knee wouldn’t jab into his rib. Kissing Donghyuck grounds him.
They’re so bad at this it’s romantic. It suits them. The fact that they’d laugh at every mistake made and Donghyuck would dive right back in immediately, it describes them as a pair.
“Prettiest,” Donghyuck mumbles when Mark pulls back to take a breather.
In a mild pant, Mark retorts, “Have you seen you?”
Donghyuck giggles again. It’s not even a chuckle or a snicker, it’s a giggle. The shy one, the one that pushes Mark to pull him closer and go right back to kissing him.
The door swings open then, and Johnny stands at the door with a plate of fruits with wide eyes. Donghyuck slides right off, diving for his phone before he pretends nothing was going on. Mark, even worse, lays back on the bed and pretends he’s asleep.
“Guys, I literally saw you sucking faces. Please, do not pretend that didn’t happen.”
“No comment,” Mark mumbles in his sleep.