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apples and coffee

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Lee Donghyuck is defined by his pride. His dignity is everything to him. It definitely means more to him than some senior tutor who’s been assigned to raise his chemistry grades. This is why he stays resolutely silent, even as Mark demands an answer to why the paper on the library table between them sports a bright, cheerful C.

“I just.” Mark sighs, scrubbing his face with the back of his hand. Donghyuck’s gaze wanders the length of Mark’s jaw, drinking in day old stubble. It's attractive. Donghyuck is a fool. “Hyuck. Hyuck, are you even listeni- oh jeez.”

“I’m listening!” Donghyuck insists, hating how defensive he sounds. That’s exactly what someone who wasn’t listening would say. “Look, having a conversation about how terrible I clearly am at chemistry isn’t my ideal evening, is it that hard to believe?”

Mark sighs again. He drums his fingers on the edge of the marked paper, adjusts his glasses, then looks directly at Donghyuck, who squirms under his gaze. “That’s just it, Hyuck,” he says, quietly. “You’re not bad at Chem. Believe me, you’re great at grasping concepts, and even better at bolstering your answer with all the examples they’re looking for. I’ve seen it.” There’s a silence that Donghyuck doesn’t quite know how to fill. “Didn’t you care about your midterms? Help me out here,” adds Mark, defeatedly, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

Donghyuck squeezes his eyes shut. “You’re not!” he blurts, at a volume entirely too loud for a library. He didn’t plan on placating Mark’s tutor skills, but apparently that’s the path we’re taking, he thinks, as he curses his faulty brain-to-mouth hotline.

The thing, it’s that Donghyuck may be egotistical, but he’s not an asshole. “I just,” he says, subdued, apologetic, “don’t want you to think you’re wasting your time. You’re a good tutor, it’s all on me. I was- yeah.”

Mark doesn’t seem the confrontational type. Donghyuck expected him to point out something on the paper, given how intently he’d been looking at it, but he zeroes in on Donghyuck’s face, even leaning forward on his palm. “You were? You were what?”

Oh god, we’re really doing this, thinks Donghyuck, not loving where this was going to have to go. “I was, dist- just a sec-” and then he pretends to sneeze, loudly. That ought to do it. He resurfaces, wiping at his nose with his sleeve. “So, yeah.”

Mark’s eyes are unreadable, scrutinizing. “Bless you. But, uh, I didn’t catch that. You were what?”

Donghyuck’s gut is swirling uncomfortably. “I was a little distracted.”

Mark raises an eyebrow at him questioningly, usually transparent face strangely opaque. “By what.” It’s not a question. He doesn’t sound pleased, or surprised, or much of anything. Donghyuck really doesn’t know the thickness of the ice he’s treading on here. Mark Lee has friends, a life outside this library, a million things Donghyuck has no way of finding out. How dare he be undeniably attracted to this senior he meets for a maximum of four hours a week. Goddamn it, Hyuckster, he thinks.

He's really going to have to let this one go. This is probably going to be their last class together, since you know, he turned out stupid, and Mark probably has better things to do on Mondays and Thursdays at 4pm. “By, you know. By you,” manages Donghyuck, looking anywhere but at Mark. He takes to intensely scrutinizing his jumper. It’s mustard, long sleeved, and fraying at the ends. He has never been more aware of someone’s presence in his vicinity in his life. He won’t look at Mark. He won’t do it.

There is deafening silence. Donghyuck wishes his heart would stop beating so loudly, it’s a library, goddamn it.

Mark lets out a puff of air. Donghyuck chances a glance at him, to find that Mark seems to be laughing at him through a facepalm. One eye looks back at him through Mark’s fingers. “By me,” repeats Mark, sounding faintly amused.

“You heard me,” said Donghyuck, in a tone that suggested he didn’t know if he was allowed to be annoyed. The chair scraped the floor as Mark stood up, and approached Donghyuck with his hands folded over his chest. He didn’t look very intimidating, in his faded navy hoodie and wire rimmed glasses, so Donghyuck’s throat must’ve gone dry for completely different reasons.

“Hyuck,” said Mark. Donghyuck stood up like invisible strings were pulling him to. He couldn’t have stopped if he tried. Mark leaned one hand on the table, head inches from the swinging yellow light, less than two feet in front of Donghyuck. “I think I deserve a little more explanation.”

“Don’t patronize me,” warns Donghyuck, in his traitorous bitch of a wavering voice. It just prompts Mark to shuffle slightly closer. “You’ve come close enough,” Donghyuck informs him, earning a laugh out of him. Donghyuck really didn’t need this, didn’t need a close up of Mark’s face that wasn’t helping his imagination, didn’t need to see the moles on his face and the bags under his eyes and his stubble and the smirk dancing on his lips. “My eyes are up here,” Mark smiles, and he has no right to sound this delighted.

Donghyuck’s eyes narrow. “I just accused you of distracting me. You should take responsibility or something, you know.” Mark simply will not stop moving toward him, eyes cast downward so Donghyuck cannot guess what he’s thinking, and just like that Mark has him against the table. Donghyuck is not about to make this easy for him. He sits back on the table, and makes to swing his legs nonchalantly, except Mark is already there and has made his way between his knees.

“Hi,” he says from up close, and Donghyuck refuses to lean backwards to accommodate a looming Mark. This results in their faces being way closer than Donghyuck was ready for. This isn’t the Mark Donghyuck was anticipating, no awkwardness or sharp, embarrassed laugh or evasive eye contact in sight.

Donghyuck swallows hard, not one to be bested. He taps the underside of Mark’s chin, raising his face, calling his attention. “So?” he says, a lot more bravely than he feels. “Make it up to me, Mark Lee.”

“I’ve never met anyone like you, you know?” says Mark, shaking his head with a disbelieving, quiet laugh. “I’ll buy you coffee, how about that?” He pauses. “Spend the evening with me.” Donghyuck gives him a smile. “You’re a dork. I hate you. It’s a date.” His head falls forward, neck limp, and rests on Mark’s shoulder. One of Mark’s palms makes its way down Hyuck’s hand, their fingers interlocking with no effort.

Mark smells like apples and coffee. There are also traces of some musty cologne there, and Donghyuck gets so lost in trying to work out what it smells like that he doesn’t realise Mark has rolled up his C paper and simply whacked him on the head with it. Reflexes as fast as ever, Donghyuck gasps, offended, and grabs Mark’s hoodie neckline quick as lightning. “You’ll pay for that- mmf-” because suddenly a pair of soft, chapped lips are on his.

“We’re in public,” hisses Donghyuck, when they finally break apart after the better half of a minute. He's ignoring how his cheeks are probably the colour of a fire hydrant now. He's also ignoring how Mark was the one to draw back, and he chased after Mark's lips with lidded eyes and a whine, pulling him close again. Mark smiles against his lips.

“Time to get out of here, then.” It’s not a question.