Donghyuck finds himself stomping in front of Renjun’s dormitory, his throat dried out with too much shouting and his fists completely numb as he slams his hands against the door in much urgency.
“RENJUN.” Donghyuck wails.
No one answers.
“HUANG RENJUUUUN.” Donghyuck slams the door louder.
Still no response.
“RENJUN MY BESTFRIEND LET ME IN.”
Muffled sighs of exasperation echoes on the other side of the door.
“HUANG RENJUN THIS IS AT UTMOST IMPORTANCE I NEED YOUUUU.”
The door opens slowly, showcasing an unamused Renjun sleepily rubbing his eye with one hand and loosely clutching a toothbrush with the other.
Donghyuck bats his eyelashes sadly.
“Stop that you ain’t cute.”
“You need to help me,” Donghyuck sobs like a kicked puppy. “I’m in huge trouble and my pride is at stake.”
Renjun exhales deeply before he steps aside, letting the visibly shaken Donghyuck come in. “I’m 100% sure this is all pacified overreaction.”
“No it’s not!” Donghyuck cries as he sprawls onto Renjun’s sofa. “This is a life-turning situation I swear!”
Renjun closes the door. “Just say it and leave please I barely slept last night.”
Donghyuck whimpers upon looking at Renjun, his expression drawn as if he’s going to say the most shocking news in existence.
“I like Mark Lee.”
“Good Lord you really woke up the whole dormitory for this shit.”
Donghyuck met Mark for the first time in his Linear Algebra class.
There’s nothing special on that day. It just happened that when he arrived in his classroom, a black-haired, glasses-wearing individual that he never saw ever in his life is occupying the vacant table next to his seat, unbothered as he skims through the syllabus outline on his desk. Donghyuck scrutinizes him from head to toe, his eyes turning to slits as he lays his bag on his table and sits on his chair in a whip.
An appearance of a new guy shouldn’t be a big deal (it’s expected, they’re in uni), but with the other students giggling and whispering about this new seatmate of him as if like they haven’t seen an above average looking nerd ever in their lives (yes, they came to that conclusion because of his glasses and fully-buttoned polo shirt), Donghyuck is icked unwarrantedly.
“Um,” New guy’s face is visibly puzzled the soonest he noticed Donghyuck staring. “Do you need something?”
Donghyuck narrows his eyes more. “You’re not a nerd, aren’t you?”
His seatmate blinks confusedly. “Huh?”
“You suck at Linear Algebra, aren’t you?”
“I knew it,” Donghyuck crosses his legs as he puts his hands around his mouth. “Our new guy hates Linear Algebra as much as 90% of this class does, he ain’t good at it.”
The ogles and murmurs die down quickly. Donghyuck faces his seatmate with a grin. “Thank me later.”
“It’s okay, we all have weaknesses,” Donghyuck flails his hands dramatically. “You have a very attractive face, but you suck at Linear Algebra. I’m handsome and smart, but I can’t keep my mouth shut.”
“Uhhh..” The new guy repeats.
“Don’t worry,” Donghyuck pats his arms. “You can ask me for help if you need to.”
Donghyuck nods proudly. “You’re very much welcomed.”
Except, his seatmate doesn’t need any help at all.
Take the first instance when Professor Jung hands the result of their surprise pop quiz. Donghyuck accidentally accepted a different paper with a big, fat ‘99%’ emphasized on red ink, the name ‘Mark Lee’ in English alphabet written beside it instead of his own. He chokes on his own spit realizing it’s his seatmate and chokes even harder when he saw he only got 94%.
“Excuse me,” Mark points at his paper. “I think that’s mine?”
“Can you wait for a second, please? I’m contemplating about my shamed pride and incompetency as a Math major and oh crap you want your paper.”
Mark stares plainly at Donghyuck, his expression blank as he leans his arms to his desk. “Uh yes, you can hand it over if you’re done...contemplating your incompetency, was it?”
“Yes, as a Math major.”
“I mean, here’s your paper. You got 99%.”
Mark scratches his head as he scans his paper. “I need to be more careful answering next time.”
Donghyuck almost tears his paper apart. Is this what his classmates feel every time he humblebrags?
“By the way,” Mark looks back at Donghyuck. “You’re not incompetent, 94% is totally impressive for a surprise quiz...” He glances at his paper with an easy smile. “Lee Donghyuck.”
Donghyuck looks at Mark incredulously with the new guy’s sudden praise.
The second instance happened the next day when Donghyuck failed to finish his report presentation. Instead of cramming the shit out of it even if he made it to the classroom a bit early, he chose to dramatically narrate his worries to his newly found acquaintance Mark Lee, talking incessantly about how he wasn’t able to add the last two theorems in his presentation because their electricity went out around evening (he is sure as hell he will not say that he stayed up all night watching Kissing Booth 1 and 2) and how Professor Jung suck balls because there is no way you will let your students explain the six theorems of Linear Algebra as a report.
By the time Professor Jung calls out Donghyuck, Mark raised his hands slowly.
“Mr. Jung, can I present my topic today?” Mark stands up. “Based on our syllabus, it makes sense if we start from my topic before we go on to Donghyuck’s,” He looks at him with a ‘I got you’ grin. “I mean, if it’s okay with Donghyuck too.”
Donghyuck swears his heart drops a little.
His heart faltered more when Mark started his presentation—his unwavering confidence, his eloquent, intelligent-sounding tone, the way he made the technical terms digestible to his dumb classmates—all in just fifteen minutes of the given time frame is highly impressive.
Donghyuck now knows why his classmates are dying to get into his pants.
“Jesus he’s too attractive.”
Renjun clears his throat. “Okay, so your life-altering dilemma is liking that transferee from Canada.”
“Specifically Mark Lee,” Renjun wands his toothbrush. “The school’s newly found national treasure.”
“Am I though?” Renjun sits beside Donghyuck as he strokes his head motherly. “The whole university will kiss his feet if he wants to. And you would too.”
Donghyuck’s eyes went full saucers. “No I won’t!”
“Yes you will.”
“Oh my God.”
“There’s nothing wrong liking the closest thing you can categorize as the perfect man.”
“Oh my God.”
“God. He really looks like some sort of a God isn’t he?”
They ran into each other on a local store on their next encounter with Donghyuck in a fantastic mood due to his wallet full of cash—specifically, his freshly withdrawn allowance courtesy of his loving mom.
I’ve added some extra in case of emergency expenses. I repeat, only for emergencies, Lee Donghyuck.
In his defense, buying the latest volume of the Kaguya-sama manga with the limited edition cover is one hell of an emergency.
And so he enters the book store, grabbing the manga firsthand along with a copy of the first volume of The Princess Diaries (he just can’t move on from Genovia) and The Silver Linings Playbook (he had never related more to Pat calling out Hemingway’s A Call To Arms’ bullshit ending) in undisputed glee. He scans the room promptly alongside, catching nobody in sight.
Donghyuck walks to the check-out counter as he wonders where the hell is his favorite cashier (what’s his name again? Moon Taeil?). As humiliating as his preference for romance books were, Donghyuck had little to worry about. He knows everyone there and they all know him. They were sworn to secrecy and—
“My apologies,” Someone from the counter speaks, his face hidden by a cap. “I didn’t notice a customer came in.”
“Nah it’s fine I just—HOLY SHIT WAIT DON’T LOOK HOLD ON HOLD ON.”
—of course life fucks him up because there was Mark Lee.
“These books are required for my…”
Donghyuck just knows he ain’t slick.
“…Advanced Calculus subject.”
Mark glances at him questionably. “Advanced Calculus.”
“Advanced Calculus yes.”
“Required by your professor.”
“You need romance books for your calculus subject.”
Donghyuck taps the books. “Professor Shim specifically asked for us to grab these.”
Mark nods. “Right.”
Donghyuck grabbing his purchases and leaving the book store at an unimaginable speed is an all-time record for his body, his lungs are practically begging to commit seppuku the soonest he stops to collect a sufficient amount of oxygen for his self-being.
As he pants like a dog, his eyes caught something stamped at the dangling receipt stapled on his paper bag.
12% employee discount.
And at the bottom, something is scribbled in blue ink.
Just read the latest Kaguya-sama volume, it’s awesome. We have the next one in stock next week, just a heads up if you need it…for your calc class of course :)
“He is the one for me.” Donghyuck mutters at himself.
“He reads dumb, romantic books too?!”
“What’s your issue with anything romantically inclined?”
Renjun deadpans. “He’s into fluff and shit.”
“And he has a good taste.”
“What the fuck.”
“Stop cursing with your Mandarin accent Renjun.”
“What the fuck.”
This whole ‘sacrificing sleep for the sake of binge-watching romance movies’ is not exactly working out for Donghyuck. That’s why when he and Mark crossed paths once again, Mark found him in the library face-planted against a textbook, drooling on its pages instead of studying them.
Donghyuck grunts once more as he gets up with his eyes still half-shut and groggy, wanting to stab whoever is waking him up with his pencil on the table. He wipes his face with the back of his hand while he shuts the book he just drooled on (he has no intention of cleaning it or owning up to causing the mess in the first place) before he peers up to the unmistakably familiar face standing at his front.
Suddenly, Donghyuck has a very acute desire to hide under the study table.
“Please tell me I’m dreaming.”
“I’m afraid you’re not.”
“I hope the ground swallows me up.”
“We’re on the second floor, we’re far up the ground.”
Mark pulls the chair in front of Donghyuck lightly. “Would you mind if I sit here and share a table with you?”
Donghyuck glances at his reflection in the screen of his cell phone and fixes his hair placidly. “Did you just wake me up to share a table with me?”
“Yeah,” Mark puts down three psychology books on the table. “You can say that.”
Donghyuck looks around the room, finding the rest of the tables empty aside from three random girls that are obviously looking at Mark. He then peers at Mark that just sat down across from him.
Oh my God.
“Don’t worry, I study in silence,” Mark smiles at him. “Unless you want to talk.”
He wants to sit with me.
“Are you okay?”
“Why are you hiding under the table Donghyuck?”
“You have to understand Renjun,” Donghyuck whines while munching a bag of chips that Renjun threw at him to control his tantrums. “I am an it boy! The brain of the campus, the sunshine of everyone, the wonder boy of the Mathematics Society…”
“A person like me cannot fall that fast for Mark Lee!” Donghyuck shouts, successfully spitting crumbs of chips on Renjun’s face. “I am not a basic bitch!”
“No one’s saying you are a basic b—”
“Lee Donghyuck,” Renjun stresses as he wipes his face with a tissue, upping his authoritative voice for the sake of actually making it through a conversation with Donghyuck without him sounding like a complete dumbass. “Listen to me.“
Donghyuck swallows a handful of chips in a sob.
“As I said, there is no shame liking a man like Mark Lee.”
“But my pride! And reputation!”
“Who the fuck cares Donghyuck,” Renjun crosses his legs. “But if you really insist washing away that little crush you have,” Renjun pulls the bag of chips away from Donghyuck. “Do what you always do.”
“Just find something about Mark Lee that will turn you off.”
Donghyuck blinks in realization.
Renjun rolls his eyes. “You did that with your previous crushes, which is like, just last month.”
“You’re really my best friend, Renjun. I don’t sit with dumbasses.”
“Because you are the dumbass.”
The strategy of getting over his crushes via finding something about them that will turn him off has been tried, tested, and proven working by Donghyuck throughout the years.
Take Wong Yukhei, the engineering student from Hong Kong that caught Donghyuck’s attention when he was a freshman. He is what you can say as the perfectly sculptured human being by God—tall, handsome, and has a great sense of humor. But it’s not enough to conceal his unexplainable habit of speaking like a bonafide pornstar (Donghyuck still shudders with Yukhei’s ‘You’re so cute and destroyable. I want to kiss you and choke you at the same time.’ line when they shared a table once in the cafeteria) that yeets Yukhei out of his hit list (hit, as in someone to bang).
And there’s Na Jaemin, the business administration student he once met in his humanities gen ad class. Overall he’s a charmer and a natural attractor which eventually caught on Donghyuck, but was shortlived with his annoying ability to taLk LiKe tHiS.
Donghyuck is pretty confident Mark Lee’s case isn’t and shouldn’t be different from his previous failures at picking the proper person to star in his marriage-gone-wild fantasy before he goes to sleep. That’s why he makes it a mission to find his most despicable trait the soonest they crossed paths whenever, wherever.
“Hi Mark.” Donghyuck greets—more likely blocks Mark from entering the classroom— as he leans against the doorframe with a notepad and pen in hand.
“Hey.” Mark responds lightheartedly.
Donghyuck flips through his notepad as he glances at his watch. “Alright this won’t take long. I have some questions. For the name of science, please participate.”
“You’re doing a research paper?”
Donghyuck smiles flatly, completely ignoring Mark’s question. “Are you a flat-earther, an anti-vaxxer, or a member of any cult?”
“Do you, or have you ever thrown your trash into the streets ever?”
“Never, that’s gross.”
“Do you, or have you given spoilers to someone while watching a movie together?”
“No that’s completely rude.” Mark tiptoes slightly to peer at Donghyuck’s notepad.
“Nope,” Donghyuck raises his notepad out of Mark’s view. “This is highly confidential, I’m afraid.”
Mark crosses his arms. “You should let your participants know what they’re up to.”
Donghyuck hums in dismissal before he flips to the next page.
“Do you, or have you ever flirted to someone then threw them out of the bus once they’re completely on to you?”
“Well that’s oddly specific.”
“It’s just yes or no Mark.”
Mark smiles. “I don’t flirt with someone unless I’m interested in them.”
Donghyuck scribbles something on his notepad. “That’s neat. And proper. Quite rare these days.“
“I’m still curious about this research paper of yours.”
Donghyuck flips his notepad down with a flick of the wrist. “The survey is done. Thank You for your participation Mr. Lee.“
“You know we can just hang out if you want to know more about me.”
Donghyuck almost dropped his pencil with Mark’s statement.
“I mean, I would like to know you more.”
“Are you flirting with me right now?!” He blurts out.
(Inner Donghyuck strangled Donghyuck’s voice box right then and there.)
Mark smiled wryly as he adjusts his backpack hanging on his left shoulder. “Let’s pace it. We could start as friends, for starters.”
Donghyuck watches in awe as Mark strides inside the classroom.
“That smooth talker son of a bitch.”
Befriending Mark is out of Donghyuck’s agenda. He’s afraid that if their more-than-acquaintance-less-than-friends relationship goes further, it would be harder for him to get over whatever this bothersome attraction he is feeling for Mark. But he still went on it anyway with a very very tiny glimmer of hope that Mark’s personality is too atrocious that his crush will fizzle out on its own.
It turns out, he’s absolutely right with his foreboding prediction.
Donghyuck really just can’t help but feel annoyed whenever Mark pops up in his head, and it’s getting to be a problem because Mark’s name just floats around up there these days and he doesn’t know why or how to get it the fuck out and he can feel his skull cracking physically from all of the pressure. And though no one asks because there’s no way Donghyuck will mention it in any form, it’s not a pretty feeling. It’s the reason why he suddenly groans in the middle of class and clasps his head (and also the reason why everyone’s convinced he’s having sexual fantasies in the middle of class now—thank you pained groans that somehow turned into moans).
That’s why while having their Titanic movie night-out at his dorm, Donghyuck excuses himself to go to the bathroom (Mark lets him without complaint as he digs on a whole slice of pizza) to huddle his disgusting trash can and relieves his concerns on his phone.
“Hi, this is Renjun. I’m not here at the moment but—“
“Cut the bullshit, I totally know you’re there.”
“Okay, hi. Hello Lee Donghyuck. I’m currently with Jeno right now and I don’t have a single second to waste on you if—”
“I WANT TO DIE!”
“Since when you’re not?”
“No no this is different. Mark and I started hanging out—actually we’re watching Titanic right now—and he is his usual self. You know being handsome, smart, affectionate, caring and apparently he can play the guitar too. And at the same time he sleep talks in mixed Korean and English, he doesn’t wash at night, and he doesn’t trust purchasing anything online like a grandpa and—ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING RENJUN.”
“I’m sorry but Jeno is dancing to aegyo song right now and you know where you are on my priorities list.”
“Oh my fucking God.”
There’s shuffling and clapping on the other end, and Donghyuck assumes that Renjun is busying himself with Jeno’s private performance.
He makes a strangled noise. “I want to die,” he repeats, just in case it didn’t process in Renjun’s head the first time. “Mark’s a total turn off but I still want to pinch his cheeks and kiss his lips.”
“Just ask him to kiss you!”
The phone clicks and Donghyuck writhes in metaphorical pain.
After thinking about it for too long and not getting any of his math homework done (he decides to just cram it at the library), he chooses to amuse himself with the potential of the situation.
So he does what a rational, intelligent young man with problems related to their dumb love life plaguing their minds do.
“...hello. Uh, hi Donghyuck. I’m kind of in the middle of—”
“Shut the fuck up, you’ve been ruining my life so I get to talk.”
“Uh, I mean—I’m not against talking, but—”
“Will you kiss me?”
Donghyuck looks like he got his self collected on the outside, but on the inside, his mind screams HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK I SAID IT FINALLY BUT FUCK FUCK FUCK WHY IS HIS FACE LIKE THAT OH MY GOOOOD. He takes a moment to scrutinize Mark’s response, seeing him blink a bit before he gazes at him in curiosity. The oh-so suave and smooth Mark Lee, however, breaks out into a quiet, awkward laugh, rubbing at the side of his neck.
“I definitely would and all but uh, if you may, let me finish changing my clothes and all here in the changing room because…I wouldn’t want my P.E. classmates to walk in on me half-naked while i’m busy making out with mister Math wiz.”
It’s then that he realizes Mark has no shirt on.
And has a towel around his waist.
And is dripping wet.
Donghyuck feels his face redden before turning and fleeing for his dear life, jostling a few of Mark’s P.E. classmates on the way because he simply doesn’t care anymore.
He ends up running on their empty, dead silent Linear Algebra classroom, his face still tinted red with the fact that Mark would definitely kiss him and his head spinning with the horrible conclusion that he’s totally into Mark and there’s no going back no matter how hard he dodges it.
Donghyuck sobs dramatically on the teacher’s table for a good few minutes.
The door opens and Mark is standing there, catching his breath before he takes two steps inside. Donghyuck shrinks on the teacher’s table as he looks at Mark in mortification.
“There you are. Jesus. You should join the athletics team, you run so fast I heard they have a try out this week and…oh wait shit, that’s not what I’m about to say.”
“No no no no I think you have to go…just go oh God what have you done Lee Donghyuck…” He’s muttering more of this to himself than to Mark and he doesn't even dare to look as he approaches him, trying to physically push Mark out of the room so he can reconsider his life choices and where he went wrong.
“Hey.” Mark holds Donghyuck’s hands that are clamping onto his shirt. “Listen to me.”
Donghyuck peers up to Mark like he has never been polite to anyone in his life.
“Here’s what’s going to happen to us. I’ll ask you right now if you want to date me, then if you say yes, I will play some guitar for you whenever you want, and you’ll sing with me. And we can make out on the side if we got bored.”
“You’re forgetting something.”
“The romance movie marathons.”
“I thought that was a given.”
Donghyuck stifles an amused smile in which his eyes curve into those dumb crescents.
“So...would you like to date me?”
“Hell yes I thought we already got that sorted out a while ago.”
“I’m just being polite.”
“Well don’t be polite to me!” Donghyuck’s replies, before his eye twitches the soonest his lips finish his words.
“That’s just disgusting.”
“It’s appealing on my head pardon me.”
“Let me just kiss you please.”
“Jesus fucking Christ Lee Donghyuck.”
“Just kidding, of course you can.”
(They both attended their Linear Algebra class with tousled hair and undone buttons)