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a poetic way to say i love you

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minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
i have so much to say, but i don’t know what words to use

It was cold, and Mark couldn’t sleep. He’d already tried to write, hoping to quiet his mind, but no words came when he put pen to paper. He’d tried to meditate, he’d tried drinking warm milk, he’d even tried opening the window to let the cold air flow into his room while he curled up underneath the blankets, hoping the warmth would lull him to sleep. 

Instead, the curtains swayed in the breeze, the moonlight falling, slanted, across the room, and Mark stayed wide awake despite his best efforts. He turned over onto his other side, the sheets rustling — it didn’t seem like sleep would be coming tonight. He sat up with a sigh, swinging his legs off the bed. 

The hardwood floor was cold against his feet as he stood, crossing the room to his closet. He pulled out a coat, tugged a pair of socks on, and slipped on a pair of tennis shoes. As he made his way to the door, he saw his guitar where it lay abandoned in the living room, and on a whim, grabbed it on his way out.

Outside, the air was cool and crisp, stinging Mark’s cheeks. He zipped up his coat, trying his best to snuggle down inside the collar against the wind as he hiked his guitar in its case over his shoulder. 

At night, his neighborhood felt nearly abandoned, the streets empty. Mark turned into the park, the streetlights overhead casting an orange-yellow glow on his skin as he walked. After walking a ways into the park, he came to a bench placed between two trees just off the path. Yes, he thought. This will do nicely.

He sat down on the bench, carefully pulling his guitar from its case. He looked up towards the night sky as he adjusted the guitar across his lap, looking past the streetlights to the stars. Of course, he knew there would be too much light pollution here in the heart of Seoul for him to catch a glimpse of them, but somehow, he had still hoped to see them up there, twinkling. 

Sure enough, the stars were nowhere to be seen. Disappointed despite himself, Mark sighed, looking down to where his fingertips rested on the fretboard, and began to play.

He strummed absentmindedly, calling to mind the songs he’d learned to play as a kid from his dad — James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Billy Joel. The praise songs they’d played at church on Sundays. 

Part of him longed to try to create something new, but the other part of him resisted. He was tired of the frustration that came when he failed — and these days, he was always failing.

You see, Mark was a songwriter. A damn good one, too. Ever since he was young he’d had thousands of words on the tip of his tongue just waiting to be written down, a thousand melodies in his head just waiting to be sung. He’d written and written and written, and eventually, he’d made a name for himself.

To make some money in college he’d sold a few of his songs.  After all, music degrees aren’t cheap. The songs he couldn’t sell, or the ones that he loved too much to give away, he recorded and released on Soundcloud. From there, things snowballed, and eventually some entertainment company put together that the newest hotshot producer on the scene and the kid making a solid name for himself as one of the few legitimate Soundcloud rappers in the game were the same person, and suddenly Mark had himself a record deal, if he wanted one. 

Of course he wanted one. 

So Mark signed, and pretty quickly released an EP, and suddenly his Twitter account was verified and his mom was calling him to say she’d seen his album art on a billboard in Canada, and Mark might have had a mild mental breakdown. 

You see, Mark loved music. He loved music a lot. But he wasn’t so sure that he’d made the right call signing that record deal. Minhyung Lee, stylized as “minhyung.” on all of the artist’s social media accounts and releases, was a Korean-Canadian rapper, singer, and songwriter signed to SM Entertainment. Born in 1999, not much else was known about the rising star, as he was notoriously private, making no public appearances and releasing no pictures of himself. In an interview, Minhyung once stated that he “wanted the public to focus on my music, not my appearance, you know?”

In reality, Mark was just really fucking shy, and anxious as all hell, and the idea of a bunch of strangers listening to his music — which was basically just a reflection of the contents of his soul —  and then being able to recognize him on the street was horrifying.

The mortifying ordeal of being known was not something Mark felt inclined to deal with, and at the beginning, Minhyung had been a sufficient mask. 

But then his numbers began to grow, and with them, the number of people invested in finding out what Minhyung looked like. In fact, it was such a hot topic of conversation that after the release of his EP, Mark’s newly-minted manager told him that Minhyung’s fanbase on Twitter was practically dying to know what he looked like, and did he think he would ever be interested in doing a face reveal?

Mark had stared at the man blankly for a full minute and then politely excused himself to the restroom so that he could have a panic attack in peace. 

Needless to say, the topic of a face reveal was never raised again, and shortly after, Mark requested a new manager.

But Mark could have dealt with all of that, as uncomfortable as it made him, if not for the fact that ever since his EP had been released, he hadn’t been able to write a single song. 

The desire to write hadn’t left him. Mark still felt the itch in his fingers to pluck out melodies, to write down lyrics, to press down the piano keys. It was just that whenever he tried, he was met with silence. His seemingly unending well of inspiration had dried up, and without it, Mark felt lost.

If he had to choose between music and his music career, Mark would gladly go back to working in an office from nine to five and selling his songs on the side. He missed songwriting more than anything, but the songs refused to come, so here he was, in an empty public park at midnight, strumming melodies that weren’t his own for nobody to hear except him — and the stars, assuming they were listening.

“Hey, man, you’re really good.”

Oh, and this guy, apparently. 

Mark jumped at the sound of his voice, fingers stilling mid-chord. “Oh. Thanks.”

“No problem.” The guy paused, tilting his head to the side. “Mind if I join you?”

“What?” The guy gestured to the bench. Mark shook himself out of his surprise. “Oh, uh, yeah, sure thing.” He moved his guitar case to the ground, making space for the guy to sit beside him. “Do you play?”

“Guitar?” The guy asked, and Mark registered that he was wearing a mask. He shook his head. “Nah. Piano. But I’m a musician. I can recognize a great player when I see one.”

“Oh, I’m a musician too!” Mark brightened up, smiling at the guy. “I’m a songwriter. Not just out here playing guitar for fun, you know.” He laughed awkwardly, bringing a hand up to rub at the nape of his neck. “Though I guess it is for fun too, on occasion.”

“What’s it for tonight?” The guy sounded genuinely curious. Mark sighed, letting himself absentmindedly strum a few random chords.

“I couldn’t sleep and I’m having some writer’s block. I was hoping that a change of scenery might help.” Mark shifted, turning towards the stranger. “Sorry, I’m Mark, by the way.”

“That’s a cool name. Foreigner?”

“Kind of. I’m Korean, but I mostly grew up in Canada. Came back here for University and since then I’ve just stuck around. What about you?”

“What, my name?” The guy hesitated, but eventually he pulled down his mask and stuck his hand out for Mark to shake. “I’m Jaemin.”

Mark took the offered hand with a smile. “Nice to meet you, Jaemin. Pretty name.” He let go of Jaemin’s hand in order to return to strumming the guitar, and he saw some kind of unidentified tension drain from Jaemin’s shoulders. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Mark was curious about why he seemed so nervous sharing his name, but he shrugged it off. It wasn’t really any of his business.

“So what brings you to this park at midnight, Jaemin?” Mark asked. Jaemin hummed, leaning back on the bench and closing his eyes. His hood fell off his head, and oh wow, he had pink hair. It really suits him, Mark thought. In fact, now that Mark could see his whole face, Jaemin’s beauty was inescapable.

God, get a hold of yourself, Mark chastised himself. He focused all his attention on listening to Jaemin’s reply, his fingers still absentmindedly plucking a few notes on the guitar. 

“I don’t really know, to be honest,” Jaemin mused. He opened his eyes, and though logically, Mark knew that it was just the lamplight, he couldn’t help but note the way that Jaemin’s eyes seemed like they were full of stars. “Objectively, my life is going great. But at the same time, I feel super stifled. Does that make any sense?”

Mark hummed an affirmative, fingers shifting to a new chord. Jaemin sighed, continuing on. “I know objectively that I’m doing really well, but I still somehow feel stagnant, like I’m not really doing anything impactful. Or that my career is going well, but I, myself as a person, am getting left behind.” He shook his head. “It’s weird.”

“Life is weird,” Mark said. “I kind of get where you’re coming from. And even if I didn’t, whatever you’re feeling about your own life is valid. It is your life, after all.”

“Thanks, Mark,” Jaemin said, turning his head to the side to meet Mark’s eyes. “God, sorry, you’re just a really nice stranger in a park. I didn’t mean to dump all of this on you.”

“It’s all good,” Mark said. “Really. Sometimes you just need a stranger to vent to.” He smiled to himself, tilting his head slightly to the side. “That must be why therapy is so popular with the teens these days.”

Jaemin laughed, and god, it was such a pretty sound. Mark’s heart stopped in his chest, and his fingers stuttered on the fretboard. He turned to see Jaemin’s smile, and that was when it was really over. 

Mark could write a thousand songs about Jaemin’s smile, and none of them could dream of getting close to the real thing. He felt butterflies erupt in the pit of his stomach.

Mark’s had unrealistic romantic fantasies before, but seriously? This was ridiculous. He met this guy like five minutes ago and if not for social norms and Mark’s own fear of rejection, he would be fully prepared to ask for his hand in marriage. Mark was getting secondhand embarrassment from himself. 

Mark swallowed down a blush, and then Jaemin was looking at his wristwatch in surprise. “Oh, wow, it’s later than I thought. I should probably be heading back.”

Mark blinked, and checked his phone. The 1:27 am shone up at him, condemning. “Oh gosh, yeah. Same here.” 

“It was really nice to meet you,” Jaemin said as they stood, Mark hastily slipping his guitar back into its case. He smiled. “Thanks for being there for a stranger in a park at midnight, I know I was a bit weird.”

“You weren’t weird at all! It was my pleasure,” Mark said, barely managing to not stutter in the face of Jaemin’s smile up close. “Really. I hope things work out for you.” He smiled at Jaemin, hoping that it didn’t seem awkward. “Be sure to get home safe, Jaemin.”

“Thank you for being so kind,” Jaemin said with the smallest of smiles. “I know you’ll get through that writer’s block of yours.” The smile widened. “Hopefully sooner rather than later. You get home safe too, Mark.”

He waved goodbye, and then he was turning around and leaving the park, melting into the darkness like he’d never even been there in the first place. It almost made Mark wonder if he’d imagined the whole encounter. Jaemin, with his pink hair and ethereal smile, had a dreamlike quality to him — he certainly seemed like he could have been a product of Mark’s wild imagination.

When Mark arrived home, he thought of the smile of a man he met in a park at midnight and furiously wrote three songs before his eyes grew heavy with exhaustion and he fell asleep at his desk — halfway through writing the lyrics for a fourth.

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
your smile is like sunshine in the dead of night

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
i love midnight walks... (@^◡^)

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
the only thing that could make them better would be if you all could come with me! ♡( ◡‿◡ )

Mark woke up disoriented, his eyes crusty with sleep and mouth dry. His phone was ringing from across the room, the sound piercing, and Mark groaned. Dragging himself upright off of his desk, he winced at the feeling of the early morning sunlight shining in his eyes as he snatched the phone from his bedside table, collapsing onto his bed as he accepted the call. 

“Hello, Mark Lee speaking.”

“Mark!” Chenle’s voice was shrill, and Mark winced further, pulling the phone away from his ear. “What the hell was that cryptic tweet about?”

“Good morning to you too, Chenle,” Mark groaned, letting his eyes fall shut and throwing an arm across his face to shield himself from the sunlight. “Couldn’t this have waited? It’s too early for this.”

“It’s nine am, Mark,” Chenle said, unimpressed. “People with normal schedules have been up for at least an hour.” Mark was tempted to remind Chenle that thankfully, he was not one of those people, so again, why was he calling this early, but Chenle was already continuing. “Besides, don’t change the subject! Explain!”

“You’re way too invested in my life,” Mark grumbled. “Try getting a hobby?”

“This is friendship, Mark Lee,” Chenle said, sounding far too amused for Mark’s liking. “Sorry, but I’m not going to stop being invested in your life. Spill.”

Mark sighed. “It’s really not all that interesting. I went for a walk last night because I couldn’t sleep and I met a guy in the park. We talked for a while, he was nice.”

“And he had a great smile, I assume,” Chenle said, smug. Mark rolled his eyes. 

“Yes, Chenle, he had a great smile.”

“And?” Chenle prompted.

“And nothing,” Mark said with a sigh. “I went home and fell asleep at my desk.”

“Mark! I thought I told you to stop doing that!” Chenle sounded like Mark’s sleeping on his desk was a personal affront to him. “I know writer’s block is sucky, especially considering it hasn’t really been a problem for you before, but you have to take care of yourself.”

“I am, Chenle, don’t worry,” Mark said. He sighed, rolling onto his side and adjusting the phone against his ear. “Besides, believe it or not, I was actually at my desk because I was inspired.”

“Really?” Chenle’s tone turned from worry to a mix of curiosity and excitement. “Damn, please tell me you got park guy’s number. If one encounter with him has you writing like that for the first time in months…”

“No, no number,” Mark said with a wistful sigh. “I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, because I literally only had one ten minute conversation with the guy, but there was something about him…” Mark trailed off, shaking his head. “I don’t know. He just really inspired me.”

“Don’t give up so easily, Mark!” Mark could practically hear Chenle’s excitement across the line as he became more and more invested. “If you have his name, I bet we could find him. Who doesn’t have social media these days? Tell me everything you remember about him!”

“Uh, well…” Mark wracked his brain. “His name is Jaemin, and he had pink hair. I don’t remember much else, to be honest. We weren’t exactly sharing life stories.” He paused, suddenly remembering. “Oh, right. He mentioned he was a musician, too.”

There was a long silence. 

“Chenle?” Mark frowned, sitting up. “Chenle, are you still there?”

“Jaemin, a musician with pink hair. You’re sure?” Chenle asked, urgently.

“Um, pretty sure, yeah.”

There was a moment of silence. “Well, shit.” 

“What?” Mark was thoroughly confused now. 

“I’m about ninety-nine percent sure you went on a walk with Na Jaemin last night,” Chenle said, sounding slightly hysterical. “Na freaking Jaemin. And you didn’t recognize him! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

“Sorry?” Mark was baffled. “Can we back up for a moment? Who is Na Jaemin?”

“He’s in Millennium, you dumbass,” Chenle said, and it seemed like the hysteria was giving way for hilarity, because he sounded half-choked with laughter. “You know, the biggest idol boy group in the country right now?”

Mark blinked. “Uh.”

“They’re from your label?” Chenle was really laughing at Mark now, and Mark was tempted to bury his head in his hands. “There’s a massive billboard of them on the front of the building where you go to work every day, you can’t tell me you have no idea who they are.”

“Yes, I know Millennium,” Mark said, face burning. “I’ve even written some songs that got picked up by the company as b-sides for them a few years back. I just don’t know them well.”

“Well, just so you know, half the nation would kill to be you right now,” Chenle remarked after his laughter had faded into amusement. 

“He’s really that famous?”

“Search him up on Naver, Mark,” Chenle advised. “You’ll see what I mean. But hey, the good news here is that since you guys are under the same company, it’ll be easy to find him again. I’m pretty sure Jisung’s danced backup for them before.”

“No thanks,” Mark said. “I don’t want him thinking I stalked him or something. He probably gets enough of that as it is. It was a nice encounter, but I think it would be best to just leave it at that.” He glanced over at the clock on his bedside table, and before Chenle could protest, he continued. “Since I’m already up, I think I might head into work earlier than usual.”

“Alright, then,” Chenle said, and Mark could imagine him shrugging. “I still think you should consider reaching out, but if you don’t want to, I can’t make you. See you soon?”

“Definitely,” Mark said, grinning as he stood to get ready for the day. “Let’s get lunch sometime this week or next.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Chenle said. “Now head to work and shock Johnny with your weirdly normal work hours today.”

“Ha, ha. Bye, Chenle.”

After the call disconnected, Mark got ready to head to work. It wasn’t until he was settled on the subway that he pulled out his phone and tapped Na Jaemin into the Naver search bar, following Chenle’s advice.

Millennium’s Na Jaemin Spotted Downtown

Millennium Turns Heads at MAMA; Na Jaemin Showcases His New Look

Fans of Idol Boy Group Millennium are Excited by the Opening of Na Jaemin’s Official Instagram Account

Na Jaemin Dyes Hair Pink for the Second Time in Two Years; A Reprise of a Fan Favorite

Na Jaemin Seen Visiting Restaurant with fellow Millennium Member Liu Yangyang

Na Jaemin to Make his Acting Debut in a Web Series Set to Air Early Next Year

Ranking Na Jaemin of Millennium’s Best Eras 

Millennium's Na Jaemin and Lee Haechan Spotted Going to Newly-Opened Movie Theatre

Fans Celebrate the Birthday of Millennium’s Na Jaemin with Birthday Advertisements to be Displayed all over Seoul

Candylab Selects Na Jaemin as Newest Brand Ambassador

Na Jaemin’s Sweet Behavior Towards Fans Earns Him the Nickname ‘Fansign Boyfriend’

Mark’s eyes widened as he scrolled past several pages of such articles, slightly overwhelmed. Chenle hadn’t been kidding. Jaemin was an A list celebrity, and he clearly had millions of fans. Their comments overwhelmed every article about him, as lengthy threads speculated about everything in his personal life from his favorite food to whether or not he had a girlfriend. 

Mark winced at all the invasive comments. They seemed determined to pick Jaemin’s life apart, and Mark was really starting to feel bad for the guy. Maybe this is what he meant when he said he felt conflicted, Mark thought. He seemed like he really enjoyed music, but this much scrutiny would get to anyone…

Mark was shaken from his thoughts by the sound of the subway arriving at his station. The doors hissed open, and Mark was one of the first people out the door. 

From the subway station, it was a short walk to the company building, and to Mark’s horror, Chenle was right. The front of the building was plastered with a massive poster of Millenium, the six members of the band towering over him with million-watt smiles and skin that looked too good to be true — and sure enough, standing right in the center of them was Jaemin.

Mark felt like an idiot. He’d been working here for six months at least, he definitely should have recognized Jaemin last night. He sighed, shaking it off. Forget it — what was done was done, and he had to get to work.

After a quick trek through the atrium past the staff turnstiles, Mark was in an elevator on the way up to his studio. He pulled out his phone once again to shoot Johnny a message letting him know he was here, and then he was getting out on his floor.

His studio was untouched from yesterday, most of the room fairly tidy apart from the small mountain of crumpled up paper scattered around the wastepaper basket. Mark crossed the room and put his bag down on the small sofa he had in the corner. He rummaged through it for a moment and extracted the papers he’d used to write down the lyrics from the three and a half songs he’d cobbled together the night before along with the small, portable audio recorder he used to record his ideas for songs when he wrote at home.

He was arranging the papers on his desk when he heard a voice from the doorway. “Knock, knock!”

He turned, and Johnny was standing in the doorway, eyebrows raised in surprise. “Well, would you look at that! You really are here. Not gonna to lie, I sort of thought you were kidding, especially after the hell of a day you had yesterday.”

Mark sighed. Yesterday had been rough. He’d gotten so sick of his writer’s block, sick of sitting in the studio and creating nothing. The walls felt like they were closing in on him, and after seeing Mark in such a state, Johnny had suggested that maybe he should take a couple days off.

“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to come in today either. But Chenle woke me up early and I was actually a bit productive last night, so why not, you know?”

“Really? That’s great!” Johnny grinned, finally coming inside the office fully and sitting down on his couch beside Mark’s bag. “Any idea what got you so inspired?”

“I went for a late night walk,” Mark said, purposefully leaving out the part where he met Na Jaemin. “I came home and wrote some lyrics, even some chord progressions. I was thinking about refining what I’ve got today, then maybe trying to write a bit more tomorrow.”

“That sounds like a solid plan,” Johnny said, smiling. “I’m glad that you’re feeling better.”

“Thanks, Johnny.” Mark spun around in his office chair and readjusted the papers on his desk to hide his smile. Johnny, despite being his manager, had always been kind and accommodating. “I’m just hoping I can keep it up.”

“I’m sure you can,” Johnny said encouragingly. “The company is planning on really pushing your first full album since your sound is a nice contrast to Millennium’s. I think they want to show versatility, or something.” He shrugged. “Never know with the execs. Have you met Millennium? They’re the company’s big money-maker right now; they’ve got their own billboard outside and everything.”

“Oh, yeah, I’ve definitely heard of them. Can’t really miss them, considering.” Mark gestured to the wall facing the street, and Johnny snorted. “But I haven't had the chance to meet them yet.” Except Jaemin, who I met by accident in a park at midnight, Mark thought to himself, but he wasn’t about to tell Johnny that.

“They’re nice kids!” Johnny said, smiling. “Hopefully you’ll get the chance to officially meet them one of these days.” Mark nodded absentmindedly, fiddling with a pen as Johnny continued. “Speaking of meeting people, feel free to say no to this, but I have to ask.” Johnny pulled a face, already looking apologetic, and Mark frowned.

“What’s that face for? What is it?”

“Someone internal, pretty high up, is a huge fan of yours,” Johnny said. “Enough of a fan that they figured out I was your manager and tracked me down specifically to ask if you would be willing to meet them.” Johnny hadn’t even half finished before Mark was shaking his head.

“No. No way. My anonymity is promised in my contract, Johnny.”

“I know, kid. I would never tell anyone without your express permission.” Johnny held up his hands in half-surrender, half-assurance. “They wanted me to assure you there was no pressure and that they didn’t want you to come if it would make you uncomfortable. They’re just such a big fan they thought it was worth a shot.” He shrugged, lowering his arms and shooting Mark a disarming smile. “If I thought they were up to something, I wouldn’t have even told you about it. They seemed genuine.”

“That’s really nice of them,” Mark said, “but I still won’t meet with them. Please tell them I’m sorry, but I can’t risk my identity for anyone. I enjoy being able to walk around without getting recognized.”

“I’ll let them know. I’m very sure that they’ll understand.” Johnny snorted to himself as if there was some kind of joke only he was privy to. “Well, I had better get going. Unfortunately, I actually have work to do, and so do you, from the look of it.”

Mark, whose gaze had been drifting back towards his half-finished lyrics, blinked, looked back at Johnny, and laughed. “Ah, sorry. I know I’ve been a bit distracted this morning.”

“It’s all good,” Johnny said, waving off his apology with a smile. “I’m glad to see that you’re getting back in the swing of things.” He clapped his hands together with a grin. “Now, I’ll be off. Good luck with your writing!”

Mark waved goodbye to Johnny as he went, then turned back to his lyrics, the outside world falling away. He lost himself in writing, relishing in the feeling of pen on paper. Once the lyrics were polished, he started constructing a backing track, and got ready to record some demo vocals. 

The hours slipped by easily, like sand through an hourglass, and Mark was utterly absorbed in his music. He was on his third listen through of the first song he’d written the night before when his focus was shattered by the sound of his phone ringing.

Mark stared at it for a moment, debating whether he should just hit decline and go back to his work, but then the name Jisung flashed across the screen, and Mark found himself reaching for the phone. 

“Hey, Jisungie.”

“Hey, hyung. I just got out of rehearsal! Chenle told me you were actually here before noon today,” Jisung seemed to be in a good mood, voice cheerful on the other end of the line. “He also said something about not being sure if you’d had breakfast? On a completely unrelated note, do you wanna get lunch?”

“Chenle is a snitch.” Mark sighed, shaking his head with fond exasperation, and Jisung snorted. He checked the time. It was already nearly one. “Yeah, I probably should eat. I’ll come meet you, where are you?”

“I’m in the third floor practice room. You know where that is?”

“Uh, yeah, I think so.” Mark stood, holding his phone with his ear and grabbing his bag from the sofa. “I’ll call you back if I get lost. See you in a few.”

The practice room was fairly easy to find. It was the biggest room in the building, and Mark had met Jisung there a number of times in the past. It seemed that whatever Jisung had been doing in there had involved a lot of dancers, as Mark passed several in the hallway, presumably on their way to lunch just like them.

He found Jisung leaning up against the wall just outside the door, playing some kind of mobile game on his phone as he waited. “Hey.”

“Hey!” Jisung looked up from his game with a smile, slipping his phone into his pocket as Mark approached. “You ready to go?”

Mark opened his mouth to answer in the affirmative, but then the practice room door swung open, and Mark’s voice died in his throat.

“Hey, Jisung, you forgot your — Mark?” Na Jaemin froze in the doorway, slack-jawed, Jisung’s water bottle hanging loosely in his hands, utterly forgotten.

“Jaemin?”

Jisung looked between the two of them, visibly confused. “You two know each other?”

“I…” Jaemin looked like he was scrambling for an answer, but he’d obviously been rattled. Mark could understand that, he felt the same way. “Well, yeah, I guess we do. We met in a park last night.” He looked at Mark, his smile slowly returning as he recovered from his shock. “I guess you weren’t kidding about being a songwriter, huh?”

“Yeah,” Mark said, throat dry. “Well, clearly you weren’t kidding about being a musician, either.” Jaemin smiled.

“Wait, you didn’t recognize Jaemin?” Jisung sounded highly amused. “Mark, his face is plastered across the building you work in every day.”

“Yeah, I figured that out this morning,” Mark said, heat rising in his cheeks. He turned to Jaemin. “Sorry about that, by the way. You know, not recognizing you. And for showing up here. I swear I wasn’t trying to track you down, or anything!”

Jaemin laughed, bright and airy, and Mark nearly fell over at the beauty of the sound. “Don’t be sorry about not recognizing me, goodness. It was refreshing! And don’t worry, I didn’t think you were. But you should purposefully track me down sometime.” Jaemin smiled reassuringly, and Jesus, Mark was lightheaded. “You’re great company.”

“Thanks for bringing me my water bottle, hyung,” Jisung said appreciatively, taking it from Jaemin’s outstretched hand. “I’m sorry to interrupt this little reunion, but we were about to head to lunch, so we should really get going.”

“Of course!” Jaemin smiled. “I wouldn’t want to keep you guys. It’s a small world, I’m sure we’ll see each other again.” He waved, already retreating back inside the practice room. “See you around, Mark!”

“Yeah, see you,” Mark said, still a bit weak with shock. Jaemin smiled one last time, and then the door closed and Mark and Jisung were alone again. 

As soon as they turned the corner, Jisung turned to Mark with wide eyes. In a voice somewhere between whisper and a shout, he said, “Jaemin hyung is the one whose smile is like sunshine in the dead of night?”

“I should never have told you and Chenle who I really am,” Mark lamented, slapping a hand across his forehead in regret. “Besides, why were you practicing with Jaemin?”

“Millennium’s end of year stages are coming up and they’ve got a lot of backup dancers this year. I’m just one of them.” He shrugged, but then grinned. “Don’t try to change the subject, Mark Lee! You’re not getting out of this one. You’re going to tell me everything.”

Mark sighed, and braced himself for a lunch full of questions.

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
it’s such a vast city, but i’ll always find my way back to you

Lee Haechan ✓ @millenniumhyuck
why did jaemin just come back into the practice room with heart eyes…?

Retweeted by Huang Renjun, Osaki Shotaro
Liu Yangyang ✓ @millenniumyang
don’t listen to donghyuck, guys! he just likes to start drama for fun!

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
hyuck is right, i do have a crush… it’s on all of you, our fans! please don’t reject me (╥﹏╥)

Mark was leaving a meeting about his upcoming album a few days later when he quite literally ran into Jaemin on the way back to his studio.

“Oh my god!” Mark instinctively reached out and steadied Jaemin. “I’m so sorry, shit — I mean, whoops? I…”

“Hey, Mark,” Jaemin said, smiling wryly.

“Uh, right.” Mark cleared his throat. “Hi, Jaemin. Sorry about that.” He realized that his hands were still holding onto Jaemin’s shoulders, and he hurriedly dropped them. Jaemin stifled a laugh, and Mark mentally facepalmed, wondering how he always managed to make a fool of himself in front of Jaemin.

“So, where were you headed in such a hurry?” Jaemin asked, curious.

“Ah…” Mark scratched the back of his neck. “Just back to my studio. I have to see what songs I have in reserve that could be approved by the management and sent to groups and solo artists for further production. Pretty standard stuff, really.” 

He wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t being fully honest either. Yeah, Mark was meant to sort through his songs, but it wasn’t to see which ones could be used for other artists — it was to start to finalize the tracklist for his own album. His writer’s block wasn’t fully gone like he’d hoped — he was still having a bit of an issue  with inspiration — but the four songs that Jaemin had unwittingly inspired were a great start. 

“Ooh, that sounds cool,” Jaemin said, eyes sparkling. “Can I come and see? I mostly sing and dance, I don’t think I’ve ever really been in a producer’s studio.”

“Um, sure?” Mark bit his lip, hesitant. “Fair warning, though, I’m going to be working so I might not be the best company.”

“That’s okay, I just want to see,” Jaemin said reassuringly. “Honestly, I’m pretty tired, so I could use the break from socializing anyway.” Mark looked closer and noticed that despite how hard Jaemin was clearly trying to hide it, there was still a hint of fatigue beneath his smile. He softened. 

“Yeah, alright. It’s this way, follow me.”

The halls were strangely busy, but inside Mark’s studio everything was dark and quiet. He flipped the lightswitch and headed over to sit at his desk as Jaemin glanced around at everything, eyes wide and curious. 

“Feel free to sit on the sofa, the extra chair, wherever,” Mark said, gesturing around. “I’ll probably stick to my desk. I might play music out loud sometimes, because I have to make sure it sounds good both out loud and in the headphones. Don’t feel obligated to stay if things get too boring for you, I know I get super in the zone while I work.” 

“Okay,” Jaemin smiled, settling in on the couch. “I’ll probably just be on my phone if I’m not listening. Thanks for letting me come hang out.”

“Anytime,” Mark said, and he found that he really meant it. 

They slipped into an easy rhythm, Jaemin sitting quietly on Mark’s couch, eyes closed as he listened to the music, while Mark sat at his desk and worked twice as fast as when he was alone. Something about Jaemin’s presence spurred him on, his smile fueling a thousand new melodies and chords.

Jaemin eventually shifted so that he was lying down, messing with his phone while Mark continued to work. After three hours, Jaemin finally stood, an apologetic smile on his face as he said he had a schedule. 

“This was really fun,” Jaemin said, eyes soft as he smiled at Mark. “Seriously, thank you for letting me intrude for so long.”

“You weren’t intruding,” Mark said. “Really. If you’re ever feeling tired and want to hide out, my studio is open for you.”

Jaemin beamed. “I might take you up on that.”

“Please do,” Mark said shyly. “It’s why I offered.”

A few days later, Jaemin poked his head in the door, a question on his lips, and Mark spun around in his chair to welcome him, already saying yes.

So it became a regular thing — Jaemin would retreat to Mark’s studio whenever he was tired and needed a break, and Mark accepted his presence with no questions asked.

At the rate his work was going whenever Jaemin was around — which was more often than not, these days — Mark was going to have enough songs for three studio albums by next month.

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
if only you knew the way you have written a thousand melodies through me. you spark creation in me with your very being. maybe, one day, i will tell you about it.

“Millennium wants a song from you.”

“Huh?” Mark looked up from his desk at Johnny in surprise. “What, really?”

“Yep. Apparently one of the members lobbied hard for you to be the one to produce their next title track, and the others backed him up on it.” Johnny looked at Mark, a sparkle in his eye. “When did you get so close with Na Jaemin, huh?”

“Oh, god,” Mark said, and Johnny cackled. 

“You never tell me anything. I’m hurt!” Johnny’s words might have been more convincing if he wasn’t beaming from ear to ear. “In any case, Jaemin said he’s spent quite a bit of time in your studio, and that he loves the music you make. He was wondering if it was possible for you to produce the title track, since you’re an in-house producer, and at that point, what was I going to say? I couldn’t exactly be like, no, sorry, Mark is actually Minhyung.”

Mark snorted. “Thanks.”

“It’s literally the bare minimum,” Johnny said, rolling his eyes. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — I won’t ever tell anyone without your permission. Anyway, I made it sound like you might be too busy, so if you want, I can still get you out of it. Just say the word.”

“Nah, no need,” Mark said, waving Johnny’s concerns away. “I’ve been extra inspired lately, so I’ve got plenty of songs in reserve. I’ll just pick out a few of the songs the execs have already approved but I don’t want to use myself that I think could match their style, and they can pick one out of the group. It’ll be relatively simple considering how productive I’ve been recently.” 

“How fast do you think you can get it done?” Johnny asked.

“Um. Probably by today, to be honest. Let me check.” Mark spun back to face his computer, clicking through a couple of files. “Yeah, I’ve already got some songs in mind out of this bunch. If the company really wants to rush it, I could have them recording as early as next week.” 

“Wow, you really have been writing a lot,” Johnny said, eyes wide. He cleared his throat and straightened, becoming more businesslike. “How’s your own album coming along?”

Mark grinned. “Amazing. I was actually going to request a meeting to discuss comeback dates.”

“Mark! That’s great!” Johnny beamed, ecstatic.  “I’ll talk to the higher ups and get you a date. You’re ready to start recording?”

“Just about. I just have one song to finish up, but it’ll be no problem. I could start recording some of the other songs.”

“You’re serious! It’s really almost done?” Johnny looked so proud of him, and something in Mark’s chest grew warm at the excitement on Johnny’s face. “Well, I’ll start booking those midnight recording sessions, then. If I had to guess, I would say the release will probably happen in the month after Millennium’s comeback.”

“Perfect. Gives me time to focus on helping with their song and recording in the meantime. Thank you for everything, Johnny.”

“Anytime kiddo.” Johnny grinned at Mark again, obviously thrilled. “I'm so excited for your album. It’s going to be fire!”

Mark laughed, Johnny’s excitement contagious. “It’s so weird to hear you use slang. You’re like my dad or something —” Johnny made a sound of protest.

“Hey! I’ll have you know that I am extremely youthful.” 

“— but hell yeah, it’ll be fire. I love what I’ve written for it, seriously.”

“I’m glad,” Johnny said, smiling softly. “I was a bit worried for you for a moment there, not going to lie, but it seems like you definitely got your mojo back. Did the writer’s block just pass, or did you force your way through it?” 

He couldn’t lie to Johnny; he knew Mark too well. He’d see right through it and then be sad that Mark didn’t think he could trust him. So Mark told him the truth.

“Honestly, I found a muse,” he said, shy, and Johnny’s eyebrows rose, eyes sparkling with curiosity. 

“Really? Who?”

“Don’t laugh.” Johnny mimed zipping his lips, nodding seriously. “Jaemin.” 

Johnny’s eyes widened. “Oh, Mark, that’s precious.”

“It’s not precious , it’s an unmitigated disaster,” Mark muttered. He could feel his face burning red. “It’s almost funny how unattainable he is.” Johnny looked like he wanted to protest, but before he got the chance, there was a knock on the door, and Jaemin was poking his head in. 

“Mark? Are you busy?”

“He’s not!” Johnny chirped. Mark rolled his eyes. “I’ve got a meeting, so I’m out of here! See you two later!” He shot Mark one more highly amused look and then he was out the door with a wave, leaving Mark and Jaemin alone in the studio.

“What was he here for?” Jaemin asked curiously.

“Well, uh…” Mark floundered for a moment. “He’s my direct supervisor? Yeah, he’s my direct supervisor.” Jaemin was giving him a weird look, and Mark wanted to slam his head into his desk. You idiot! “He was just telling me that I’m going to be the one to produce your next title track.”

Jaemin’s eyes lit up at Mark’s words, and thankfully, the awkwardness passed. “Yeah! Oh my god, I’m so excited,” Jaemin gushed. “They asked us if there were any producers we wanted to work with, and obviously you came to mind. It was weird though, at first they didn’t seem to know who I was talking about. Do you have some kind of secret producer name or something?”

“Uh, something like that,” Mark said, smiling placidly. On the inside, he was screaming. “I’m credited as M.LEE on most of the tracks I work on, and some of the higher ups only know me by that name.” The M stands for Minhyung, not Mark, but of course, you don’t know that.

“That explains it then,” Jaemin said cheerfully, thankfully accepting the explanation at face value.

“You know, I was just about to start looking through my song reserves for options for your title track. Since you’re here, do you want to help?”

“Oh!” Jaemin brightened for a moment, but quickly deflated. “Ah, it’s a really good idea, and I would, but I can’t without my members here too. We agreed to never make decisions about our music alone.”

“Oh, yeah, I totally understand.” For a moment there was silence as Jaemin settled in on the couch, and Mark started to pull his headphones on. Mark opened up his files, then paused, furrowing his brow in thought. He took off his headphones, turning to face Jaemin. “Hey, are your members free right now?”

“What?” Jaemin looked up from his phone in surprise. “Uh, yeah, we just got out of practice, so they should be? I think Renjun and Donghyuck went to go get a second lunch, Shotaro and Jeno were doing some extra dancing… I have no idea what Yangyang was getting up to, but I doubt it was anything too urgent. Why?”

“Well, if they’re all free, and the only thing stopping you from helping me pick some options for your title track is them not being here, why don’t you invite them to come over?” Jaemin stared at him and Mark bit his lip anxiously. “Of course, no pressure! I get it if they’re busy or you want a break or whatever.”

Jaemin blinked, snapping out of his stupor with a smile. “Oh, Mark, it’s not that! I’m just surprised I didn’t think of it myself. You’re a genius!” Mark spluttered in denial, face burning, but thankfully Jaemin was already focused on his phone, fingers flying across the keyboard. “There, I’ve texted them,” he said, tapping his phone one last time with a flourish.

The moment he put his phone down, it started buzzing. Jaemin snorted and answered the call, putting it on speakerphone.

“Hey! Na Jaemin! What do you mean, come to room six on the fourth floor?” A voice barked across the line. “Donghyuck and I are having lunch, we’re busy.”

“Hey, Renjun,” Jaemin said casually, leaning his head back against the sofa and crossing his legs, the absolute picture of relaxation despite the aggression in the voice’s — no, Renjun’s — tone. “How are you today?”

“Don’t try to distract me,” Renjun said, obviously exasperated. “Not even gonna tell us why you’re inviting us to a room we’ve never set foot in before?”

“What if I just missed you all and want to see you again?”

“You saw us twenty minutes ago,” Renjun said, deadpan. “Try again.”

Jaemin laughed, making eye contact with Mark from across the room. “Alright, fine. I thought you guys wanted to meet Mark, but if you don’t, that’s fine by me.”

“Wait, Mark Lee? Your new producer friend?” A new voice came on the line, sounding extremely curious, and Mark blinked in surprise as Jaemin laughed. 

“That’s right. So are you going to show up?”

“Absolutely,” the new voice said, sounding smug. “See you soon, Jaem.”

“See you, Donghyuck.” Jaemin hung up with a roll of his eyes. “So dramatic, I swear.”

“You talk about me to your friends?” Mark said, surprised. Jaemin looked at him, equally as surprised. 

“Well… yeah. I gush about your music all the time. They’re excited to meet you. What, you don’t tell all your friends about me?” Jaemin teased. He put a hand over his heart, pouting at Mark. “I’m hurt, Mark.”

“Wh — I mean, I do, but —”  Mark stumbled over his words, and Jaemin’s eyes grew wide with surprise. Was that a tinge of pink in his cheeks? Mark shook himself. “I mean —” Thankfully, before Mark could embarrass himself any further, Jaemin’s phone rang again.

“Hello?” 

“Yo, yo, yo. What’s this about coming to the fourth floor?” This voice was laid back, and Jaemin smiled immediately at the sound.

“Hey, Yangyang. It’s about our title track. Are you available?” 

“Yeah, totally, I was just messing around with my Switch. Diana may be my favorite villager, but she can wait.” Jaemin snickered, and Yangyang said brightly, “I’ll be right there!” before hanging up.

Jaemin turned back to Mark and opened his mouth to say something, but then there was a knock at the door. Mark and Jaemin looked at one another in surprise, and Mark stood to answer it.

He was greeted by two of the members of Millennium, vaguely recognizable from the billboard on the front of the building. “Hey, man,” one of the guys said. “Uh, is Jaemin here?”

“Jeno!” Suddenly, Jaemin was beside him, grinning at the pair of them. “And Shotaro! This is Mark Lee.”

“The producer for our upcoming title track?” The guy who had spoken originally — Jeno, Mark was pretty sure — raised his eyebrows in surprise. 

“Yep, that’s me,” Mark said, smiling nervously. He stepped aside. “Uh, come on in.” 

“I came to visit and Mark was actually going to start picking out some options for us!” Jaemin said as Jeno and Shotaro made their way inside. “He suggested I invite you guys to help. Thanks for coming without asking questions, by the way, Renjun and Hyuck needed some convincing.” 

Jeno snorted, and Shotaro hid a laugh behind his hand. “Of course they did.” 

The four of them shared a few minutes of small talk as they waited for the others, and Mark was relieved by how nice Jeno and Shotaro were to him, despite just meeting him. Eventually, Yangyang showed up with a laidback smile, and a few minutes after that Donghyuck practically broke down the door to get to Mark, Renjun entering behind him with an eye roll. Donghyuck vigorously shook Mark’s hand, telling him how glad he was to meet Jaemin’s new best friend.

“He’s abandoning us for you,” Donghyuck told him seriously. 

“I am not, you drama queen,” Jaemin called over from the couch. “I literally spend all day with you losers.”

Donghyuck promptly dropped Mark’s hand so he could turn and argue with Jaemin. Renjun sighed and as he sidled up to Mark. “There they go again.”

“Are they always like this?” Mark asked, amused. 

Renjun nodded, rolling his eyes. “Pretty much. Anyway,” He turned to Mark with a friendly smile, sticking out a hand. “It’s really nice to meet you. We’ve all heard a lot about you from Jaemin.”

“All good things, I hope,” Mark said, grabbing his outstretched hand. 

“Of course.” Renjun looked around Mark’s shoulder to his desk, visibly curious. “So, we’re here to listen to some options for our title track?” 

“Oh, yeah.” Mark turned to his computer, sitting down at his desk. “I’ve got plenty of songs to choose from, but I have a couple in mind already that we can start with whenever you guys are ready.”

“Hey!” Renjun turned to the rest of the room, raising his voice. “Guys, shut up so we can get started. Mark’s gonna play us some of his songs.” 

Thankfully, they seemed to listen to him, even Donghyuck, who dropped his fabricated argument with Jaemin and settled in on the couch beside him instead, ready to listen. 

“Uh, okay,” Mark started, spinning around in his chair to face them. “So here’s how this’ll go. I’ve actually written a few songs that were chosen as b-sides for you guys before, so I think I’ve got a good handle on the style we’re going for here.”

“You’re written some b-sides for use before?” Jaemin looked surprised. “I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, right. Well, it was a while ago…” Mark scratched the back of his neck, awkward.

“What songs?” Renjun asked, curious.

“I’ve only written two for you guys that I can remember off the top of my head,” Mark said, thinking. “Uh, I think you guys picked up My First and Last and Bye My First —” He was cut off by the band exploding into sounds of excitement. “Um. What?”

“Sorry, it’s just that we have an ongoing debate,” Yangyang explained, beaming at Mark. “We can’t decide whether My First and Last or Bye My First is our best b-side.” He laughed a bit to himself. “And you wrote both of them!”

“My First and Last should have been our title track that era, and you all know it,” Donghyuck said with a scoff. “My voice sounded so good on that track.” The band immediately erupted into debate, with Jeno arguing loudly that nothing could compare to Shotaro’s speaking lines in Bye My First.

“Well, I’m — I’m glad you like them?” Mark said, slightly overwhelmed. 

“Wow, you wrote both of our favorite b-sides, and now you’re writing our title track,” Shotaro said, smiling at Mark. Mark was obviously biased, but wow, Shotaro had a great smile too. “This album is going to be really great.” 

“Oh. Thank you,” Mark said, smiling back. “You know, I wrote My First and Last and Bye My First as part of a three-part series. How about we start off our listening party with the third part?” The group seemed to be in agreement, and Jaemin nodded vigorously. “All right, I’ll take that as a yes,” Mark said, smiling and spinning around in his chair to face his computer again. “Here’s Love Again."

For the next few hours, the studio was full of excited chatter, the band enthusing over Mark’s songs. It was astonishing how bright Jaemin was with his members, shining like the star he was in their presence, cracking jokes loudly, pinching their cheeks, and hanging off Donghyuck and Yangyang’s shoulders whenever he got the chance. 

They managed to make it through most of Mark’s songs — from Love Again to We Go Up, 7 Days, My Page, Dunk Shot, Dream Run, and 1,2,3 — all of them upbeat songs he’d made that didn’t match his own style, but that he loved nonetheless. Millennium seemed to share this sentiment, with them all gushing over the songs. 

“How are we supposed to pick just one,” Yangyang groaned after they were finished listening. “Like seriously, Mark. Save some talent for the rest of us.” The band members were slouched across the couch, with Renjun and Shotaro having slipped onto the floor. Donghyuck had migrated over to the spare chair beside Mark, and Jaemin’s head was resting on Yangyang’s shoulder, his legs draped across Jeno’s lap. 

Mark spluttered at the compliment, but before he could thank Yangyang, Shotaro was sitting up, a curious look on his face.

“Well, who said we only have to pick one? We have to make a full EP, so we’ll have to pick b-sides anyway. Why not use Mark’s?” He stole a glance Mark’s way, eyes widening. “I mean, if that’s fine with you, of course! If you have something else planned for the songs we don’t pick —”

“No, no, you’re fine,” Mark said, smiling. “Take them all, if you want. I don’t have any plans for them. Heck, some of them have been sitting on my computer for a few years, like Love Again.” He shook his head with a smile, then crossed one leg over the other, getting down to business. “Just let me know which ones you want, plus which one you want as the title, and I’ll pass them along to management with your instructions. They’ll ask for confirmation from you all, and then they’ll reach out to me again to talk about recording times.” He smiled at them. “While I have you here, when do you want to record?”

“Isn’t that kinda up to you?” Jeno asked. “Producers generally have more regular work hours than us, right? Wouldn’t it be better to work around your schedule?”

“Ah, well, I’m a bit different,” Mark said, scratching the back of his neck. “I’m not strictly an in-house producer —” Careful, he thought to himself. This is getting dangerously close to Minhyung territory. “Um, I’m kind of contracted in? It’s complicated.” Mark could feel himself getting red, and Renjun was looking at him shrewdly, a hint of curiosity in his eyes and oh, god, Mark, move on now. “Anyway, to make a long story short, my hours are pretty flexible, and definitely less busy than yours, considering you all have such busy schedules. Jaemin has my number, so once you all decide when you want to record, let me know. Preferably soon, so I have an answer when the execs ask.”

“Sure thing,” Jeno said, smiling as he stood, pushing Jaemin’s legs off his lap unceremoniously. Jaemin let out a sound of protest that Jeno promptly ignored, holding out his hand for Mark to shake. “Thanks for doing this, Mark. We get some creative input, but this is definitely the most we’ve gotten from a producer in a while.”

“Anytime,” Mark said, taking Jeno’s outstretched hand. “I understand how personal music can be. Let me know if you guys want to change any lyrics before we record, or if any parts are too difficult or you don’t like them. I’m a phone call away, and you guys are my only big project right now.” 

Kind of a lie, seeing that he had a full album coming out, but that wasn’t for several months. He had the time to invest in Millennium’s comeback first. He could feel himself getting excited — it would be the first time he was involved in every track on another artist’s album, not to mention that he’d have to keep more regular working hours while he was acting as Millennium’s producer. Hey, turns out that in this case, I really am just a producer, he thought to himself, amused. Always good to try something new.

“Will do,” Jeno said, smiling. “Jaemin, Renjun and I write lyrics sometimes, and Yangyang will definitely take you up on that offer. Right, Yang?”

“Sure thing,” Yangyang said with a grin. “I like to write my own raps, you feel?”

“A hundred percent,” Mark said, smiling at him. “My door is always open. Once we’ve decided on the tracklist, we can set aside a few days for you to come write. Writing’s a hell of a lot easier with a studio, trust me.”

“Sick,” Yangyang said. “I’ll get your number from Jaemin.”

After assuring Jeno that the studio was always open if he, Renjun, and Jaemin wanted a writing session, all their business was concluded, and the members of Millennium got ready to return to their various activities. 

They said goodbye with waves and bright smiles, clearly as giddy as Mark was about the upcoming EP, and then they slowly filed out, leaving Mark alone with Jaemin once again.

“I had no idea you could be so animated,” Mark said with a grin shot Jaemin’s way. Jaemin laughed, bashful.

“Ah, yeah, I’m like that in certain groups. When I’m alone with one of them, it’s the same as when I’m alone with you.” Jaemin gestured to himself. “Just me. No extra embellishment needed.”

Internally, Mark thought, You, just as you are, are wonderful. Externally, he could feel his cheeks heating up yet again as he said, “I’m glad you feel like you can be yourself with me, Jaemin.”

Jaemin visibly melted, smile going soft. “Of course, Mark,” he said, voice so quiet and warm that Mark’s heart skipped a beat in his chest. He smiled wider, flopping back down on the couch. “Now show me some more of your songs, producer man.”

Mark laughed, turning back to his computer. “Your wish is my command.”

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
exciting things just around the corner

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
you and me don’t need anything more than one another

mei @strdusting
whats up with all minhyung’s cryptic tweets… not to be me but…. minhyung full album soon????

cony @starlight_jaem
Replying to @strdusting
seriously… he has to be having SOME kind of release soon with all the teasing he's been doing

mei @strdusting
Replying to @starlight_jaem
prayer circle: minhyung full album 

robin @r0binisms
OKAY BUT HEAR ME OUT: all of minhyung’s cryptic tweets these past few months have been song lyrics from his upcoming album

mei @strdusting
Replying to @r0binisms
minhyung comeback is definitely coming!!!! im so excited for it!!

robin @r0binisms
Replying to @strdusting
definitely!!! probably not for a while though since millennium’s about to have a comeback and we know how SM likes to stagger their artist’s comebacks ...

mei @strdusting
Replying to @r0binisms
but still!! minhyung music soon!!!!!!! 

robin @r0binisms
Replying to @strdusting
yes!!!!! im so hyped its been way too long!!!!! sm stop keeping minhyung in the basement...

On the day of the recording, Mark showed up to work bright and early. The air outside was brisk, and woke him right up as he made his way inside. He ran into Renjun in the atrium, clutching a warm drink in his hands.

“Good morning,” Mark said with a smile.

“Good morning.” Renjun still seemed barely awake, managing a nod to Mark as he tried to conceal a yawn. “So, where are we headed?”

“I’ve booked one of the recording studios on the fifth floor,” Mark said, leading the way as they headed for the elevator. “I’ve sent all the information to your manager, so hopefully the others won’t get lost when it’s their turn to record."

They stepped out of the elevator together and were greeted by Kim Doyoung, no expression on his face as he handed Mark a stack of papers. “Here you go, Mark.”

“Thanks, Doyoung,” Mark said, grinning back. “Renjun, meet Doyoung, if you haven’t already. He’s the scheduling manager for the recording studios, he makes sure everything runs smoothly.”  

“Good to meet you,” Renjun said. Doyoung nodded at him in acknowledgement before turning back to Mark.

“I’ll be around for most of the day,” Doyoung said, businesslike. “I know you guys have a lot to get through, so I’ve booked a studio for you for the next three days. No harm, no foul if you don’t get around to using it all three days, I just thought it would be better to be safe than be sorry.” He shrugged, and straightened. “In terms of sound engineers, Chenle wasn’t available today, so I booked you in with Sungchan. All good with you?”

“Of course, Sungchan’s great,” Mark said, smiling. “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him, it’ll be good to catch up.”

“Good,” Doyoung said, finally letting a hint of a smile creep across his features. “Don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything else.”

“Sure thing, Doyoung,” Mark said, already moving past him to the studio. “Have a good day!”

Doyoung waved, and then he was gone, no doubt off to attend some meeting or fill out paperwork. 

“Interesting guy,” Renjun said, eyebrows raised as he took a sip of his drink. “Is he always that… to the point?”

“At work, yeah,” Mark said, pulling open the door to the studio and flicking on the lights. “Efficiency is really important to him. According to Johnny —  my uh, direct supervisor — he’s much more relaxed when he’s off the clock.”

The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Sungchan, bursting through the door with his own warm drink and a veritable mountain of papers. 

“Sorry, sorry!” Sungchan laughed as he swerved to avoid Renjun and Mark, letting the papers fall onto one of the tables off to the side. He straightened, brushing off his coat, and then stuck his hand out to Renjun. 

“Hey, there, you must be Renjun?” He turned to Mark, smiling. “Hey, Mark! Good to see you, it’s been an age.”

“Uh, yeah, that’s me,” Renjun said, taking Sungchan’s outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too!” Sungchan said, smiling widely, energy levels far too high for so early in the morning. Mark laughed to himself, shaking his head. No wonder Sungchan and Chenle were such good friends. Sungchan clapped his hands together, visibly excited. “So, you guys ready to get this show on the road?”

“Absolutely,” Mark said, slipping into his work mindset with ease. “Is that coffee?” He asked, gesturing to Renjun’s drink.

“Sadly, no, I know better than that,” Renjun said. “No milk before recording, and I’m not sadistic enough to go for americanos with like, three shots of espresso like Jaemin does.” He shook the cup. “It’s tea.”

“He drinks what?” Mark’s eyes widened, focus breaking for a moment in shock. Renjun looked exceedingly amused. Mark shook himself. “Never mind. Let’s start with Love Again whenever you’re ready.”

Sungchan and Mark settled into their seats outside the booth as Renjun situated himself behind the microphone, and the recording session began. 

About halfway through Renjun’s allotted time, Jaemin showed up with two cups of coffee in hand — one for himself, and one for Mark. Mark’s weak heart stumbled over itself and melted into nothingness at the gesture. 

He watched with a mix of horror and awe as Jaemin drank his own coffee without even a hint of a wince. That coffee must taste like battery acid if Renjun was telling me the truth, Mark thought to himself. I don’t know whether to respect him or fear for his life.

Hours passed, and Mark realized that Jaemin hadn’t needed to come so early. After Renjun was Yangyang, then Shotaro, and it was only after him that it would be Jaemin’s turn to get behind the mic. But Jaemin sat quietly in the room with Mark and Sungchan, apparently happy to watch Mark work and his members record as he waited, reading and rereading his lines to pass the time.

Finally, Jaemin got up to record, and Mark found himself vaguely in awe of what a natural he was. The tone of Jaemin’s voice was incredibly unique, perfect for creating impact exactly where the song needed it, and Jaemin was extremely professional, recording his lines several times without any complaint. He smiled when he finished recording, high-fiving Donghyuck, who was up next, as he left the booth. 

“I have to go now,” Jaemin told Mark with a pout. “I wanted to stay all day and see the process, but I have a schedule.”

“Oh my god, don’t worry about it!” Mark said, hurrying to reassure him. “I’ve really enjoyed your company, but you’ve already been here way longer than you have to. Don’t feel like you’re missing anything, either, you’ve pretty much seen everything there is to see.”

Jaemin pouted again, but then he smiled, pulling Mark into a hug. “Don’t tire yourself out by working all day,” he chided. “Take a break to eat, at least.”

“Alright, alright, you mother hen.” Mark waved him off. “I’ll eat lunch with Sungchan soon. Now go, you don’t want to be late for your schedule.”

They shared a smile, and then Jaemin was off with one last wave and grin. Sungchan leaned against the wall, arms crossed, and shared a knowing look with Donghyuck. 

“He really likes you, you know,” Donghyuck told him, one eyebrow raised. Donghyuck has always been lighthearted, but now his words carried a weight that Mark wasn’t used to hearing from him. 

“Well, I would hope so,” Mark said with a frown. “We’ve been friends for several months and I really like him too.”

Donghyuck sighed, seeming relieved. “Good,” he said, smiling at Mark. He grinned, picking up the headphones and sliding them over his ear. “Now let’s record this banging EP.”

Mark laughed, Sungchan joining in. 

“Heck yeah,” Sungchan said, settling back into his chair and grinning ear-to-ear. “Whenever you’re ready, Donghyuck.”

That was kind of weird, Mark thought to himself. Donghyuck knows Jaemin and I are friends, why would he be worried about me not liking him?  

Thankfully, the day ended a few hours after lunch when Jeno, the last member to record that day, hung the headphones back up with a smile. Mark bade goodbye to Jeno and Sungchan, promising to see them tomorrow, and headed back home to take a nap.

He woke in the evening to the sound of his phone ringing, an he squinted over at his clock on his bedside table, looking for the time. 8:12 PM. He picked up.

“What’s up?”

“Hey Mark!” Chenle’s voice was bright. “We still on for tonight?”

“Totally,” Mark said, voice still a bit thick with sleep. “Thanks for the call, I was taking a nap after the Millennium recording.”

“Sure thing,” Chenle said, warm. “See you in about an hour, then?”

“Yep,” Mark said. “I think Johnny agreed to bring takeout. Chicken and beer alright with you?”

“Of course,” Chenle said. “It’s tradition! Will he be sticking around?”

“Not sure. He, Jaehyun, and Doyoung might have plans, I didn’t ask,” Mark said, finally dragging himself out of bed. “I have to wake up, but I’ll see you over there soon.”

“Nine on the dot,” Chenle confirmed. “See you!”

By the time Mark arrived at the company, almost everyone had gone home. The atrium, usually so bright and busy, was dark and silent — eerie in the way that only usually crowded places could be when they were empty. Johnny was waiting by the reception, swinging his keys from his hand. 

“Hey, Mark!” Johnny greeted him with a smile. “Chenle’s already in the studio waiting for you — he grabbed the takeout on his way up.”

“Thanks Johnny, you’re a legend,” Mark said, beaming. “Are you hanging out tonight?”

“It’s date night, so I have to bounce,” Johnny said, looking slightly apologetic. “But don’t worry, I’ll be here Friday. Good luck recording!”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mark said, waving Johnny’s concerns away. “You three have fun. See you tomorrow, and on Friday, then!”

“Of course,” Johnny said, and then he was gone, leaving Mark to take the elevator up to the fifth floor to meet Chenle in the recording studio.

Chenle greeted Mark with a smile, and then the session began. It was a flurry of recording, and re-recording, and re-writing lyrics on the fly that didn’t flow quite right to begin with. They ate the chicken and drank the beer between songs, bantering casually as they went along, and it was as wonderful as recording sessions with Chenle always were. 

By the time they were done for the day, it was already about 2:00 am. As they walked out of the building together, Chenle stopped, hanging back by the entrance. Mark turned around, question already on the tip of his tongue, when Chenle said, “Mark, be honest with me.”

“Always,” Mark said, heart practically running a marathon in his chest.

“I know you too well to be fooled, so don’t lie, I’ll know,” Chenle said. He frowned, taking a deep breath in contemplation before letting the air out in a whoosh. “Are you in love with the guy that these songs are about? Because the album feels like a progression from meeting, to infatuation, to friendship with a longing for something more.”

“I —” For once, Mark had no words. He simply blinked at Chenle, in shock. 

“This whole album feels like it’s been made in appreciation for this boy and who he is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still your style, but it’s different from your other stuff. You’re pining, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

Mark swallowed. “Maybe.”

“You’re in love with Na Jaemin,” Chenle said. Again, it wasn’t a question.

“It’s not — I’m not,” Mark said, stumbling over his words. “I just like his smile. How quiet he can be, and how loud he can be, too. The peace I feel when he’s around. I like his humor, I relate to how conflicted he feels about his work, I enjoy that he’s an introvert, but that he’s so lively with his friends. I like the way he’s a mass of contradictions yet he still manages to be the only thing that makes sense in my life sometimes. I like the way he’s so unattainable and yet so human, and above all, so, so beautiful.”

Silence fell between them, and Chenle just looked at Mark. 

“You know,” Chenle said at last. “That was an awfully poetic way to say ‘I love you’.”

The realization crashed over Mark. All these feelings for Jaemin, the dozens of songs he’d written for and about him, the way just being in the same room with Jaemin made warmth bloom in his chest. God, it was so obvious. How hadn’t he seen just how deep he’d been all along?

“Fuck,” Mark breathed. “I love him.”

“Yep,” Chenle said, shaking his head and clapping Mark on the shoulder. “Good luck, Mark Lee.”

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
Tell me, how do you get someone to love you back?

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
Because I think I’m in love with all of you! I don’t want to be rejected!!! (。•́︿•̀。)

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
baby, you didn’t even have to try to get me to fall in love with you

When Millennium’s newest EP, Love Again, dropped, their fanbase exploded with excitement, and within three hours, they hit number one on Melon. Jaemin called Mark at 3:01 am from his dorm, screaming in excitement along with the rest of his members. 

The next morning, Mark ran into Millennium in the hallway on their way to a schedule and Jaemin threw his arms around Mark, thrilled. Mark laughed and hugged back. “Congratulations! You got number one!”

“We got number one,” Jaemin corrected, beaming. “It was your song that got us there.”

“It was your voices,” Mark insisted.

“Let’s just call it a collaborative effort,” Yangyang interjected, grinning. “Thank you, Mark, for such wonderful songs.”

“Yeah!” Shotaro said. “Be careful, or we might request that you produce all our music for the rest of time.”

Mark laughed, an arm slung around Jaemin’s waist. “Well, I probably wouldn’t mind. Seriously, you guys did my songs justice.”

“Not to be that guy, but we have practice basically right now,” Jeno said, looking apologetic. “We have to go.”

They all groaned, and pouting, Jaemin disentangled himself from Mark. “Bye, Mark. See you later?”

“Of course,” Mark said, smiling softly. “Good luck with your practice, you guys!”

They left for the practice room and Mark headed off to his studio. Now that his work for Millennium’s comeback was finished, he was ready to start mixing what he, Chenle, and Johnny had recorded during their midnight recording sessions.

He was right in the thick of it when Johnny popped his head in. “Hey, they’re asking for the final album title for the promotions. Got any ideas yet?”

Mark thought back to his conversation with Chenle outside the building that night. 

“Yeah,” he said, smiling to himself. “I know exactly what I want to call it.”

Retweeted by minhyung., Na Jaemin, Lee Haechan, and four more:
SM Entertainment ✓ @SMTOWNGLOBAL
minhyung. first full album: a poetic way to say i love you.

ALBUM RELEASE → 3.15.2021, 6PM KST.
M/V RELEASE → 3.16.2021, 12AM KST.

#MINHYUNG. #POETIC_WAY_TO_SAY_I_LOVE_YOU #THEFIRSTALBUM

Osaki Shotaro ✓ @millenniumtaro
Oh my god, a minhyung comeback! Be sure to support our newest labelmate ~

Retweeted by Lee Haechan, Huang Renjun:
Liu Yangyang ✓ @millenniumyang
haha i think jaemin stopped breathing in excitement for the minhyung comeback

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
that’s right, everyone! My first studio length album, a poetic way to say i love you., is out next week! You can pre-save on all music streaming platforms!

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
minhyung, tell me who you are !! i won’t tell anyone, i promise !!

mei @strdusting
all of millennium retweeting minhyung’s album announcement on their personal twitters… minhyung and millennium besties!

cony @starlight_jaem
me knowing millennium are probably only tweeting about minhyung bc the company asked them to drum up support for their labelmate since jaemin said they don’t know each other personally vs me ignoring that because millennium x minhyung friendship is such a good concept

[BREAKING]: Singer-Songwriter “minhyung.” Announces the Release of his First Studio Album!

[+128, -13] Excited to see minhyung’s next release! He and Millennium must be friends, since he produced their latest EP. Plus, they’re all talking about the album on Twitter.

[+42, -3] Wait, what do you mean minhyung produced Millennium’s latest EP?

[+138, -23] Well, everyone knows minhyung writes his own music, and the only producer credited on his tracks is M.LEE, presumably Minhyung Lee. M.LEE is credited for all the tracks on Love Again! 

[+65, -15] Wow! Love Again is my favorite Millennium album… Maybe I should check out minhyung's other music.

[+15, -2] You definitely should! He’s a smaller artist that recently signed with SM, and he’s incredible. Hopefully he’ll start getting more attention now that he has a label.

[+356, -17] Wow, Millennium and minhyung friendship!

[+142, -79] But Jaemin said on Twitter that he doesn’t know who minhyung really is?

[+177, -36] Ah, so maybe they are not friends then… How disappointing.

The day Mark’s first full album dropped, it was weird. Since he didn’t promote or do anything in person, it was mostly just him alone at home with Jisung, Chenle, Johnny, Doyoung, and Jaehyun, drinking champagne and celebrating while reading reviews and watching the album rise on the charts.

He was in the middle of opening a bottle of apple cider for Jisung, who hated champagne, when the doorbell rang. Strange, he thought. I wasn’t expecting anyone.

He put the bottle down carefully and went to go answer the door. It was Jaemin, who looked mildly shell-shocked. 

“Jaemin?” He blinked, surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“Mark,” Jaemin said breathlessly, eyes wide. “You’re Minhyung?”

Mark was glad that he’d left the bottle in the kitchen, because if he’d had it in his hands, he would have dropped it. “What? I’m… What? No, I’m —” Jaemin looked wholly unimpressed, so Mark gave up, letting his shoulders slump in defeat. “Yeah, I am. How did you find out? Come on in, by the way,” he said, stepping aside to let Jaemin in.

Jaemin walked inside, thanking him with a smile. “Mark, whenever I’m at work and I’m not practicing, I’m in your studio with you. The fact that I’d already heard half the songs on the album kind of gave it away.” 

“Oh,” Mark said, sheepish. 

“Yeah, oh,” Jaemin said, hiding a laugh behind his hand. “Honestly, I’m mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner — it was your voice on the demos, I even wondered why your voice sounded so familiar. Not to mention that the name listed on the production credits, M.LEE, is exactly the same as the person listed on the production credits of Minhyung’s first EP.”

Mark blinked, still at a loss for words. “That’s some good detective work.”

“I had help from the internet,” Jaemin admitted.

“I hope you don’t take it personally,” Mark said after a short silence, finally recovering. “I just… I  don’t really tell anybody besides the people that help me mix and record, and of course, my manager. I love music, but I really value my privacy, and I don’t want it violated, you know?”

“Don’t worry, I get it,” Jaemin said comfortingly. “As someone whose privacy is invaded all the time…” He grimaced. “Yeah, let’s just say I would appreciate a bit more anonymity than I currently have.” He followed Mark into the kitchen, hopping up onto the counter while Mark picked up where he left off opening the apple cider. “So… who’s the album about?”

Mark fumbled with the bottle, nearly dropping it. “Um.”

“Hey, Mark, who was it?” Chenle called from the other room.

“Jaemin,” Mark called back. “He figured it out.”

“Which part, the part about you being Minhyung, or you being in love with him?” Johnny joked.

Mark really did drop the bottle this time. Jaemin, from his perch on the counter, froze. “Wait, it’s about me?” 

“Shit,” Mark scrambled for a dishtowel, throwing it over the mess of shattered glass and apple cider. “Johnny, I’m going to kill you!”

“He’s still here?” Johnny yelped, guilt already seeping into his voice. “Shit. Sorry, Mark.”

“Mark.” Jaemin’s voice was soft, eyes wide. “Is it really about me?”

Mark met his eyes and looked away quickly, embarrassed. He could feel the heat in his cheeks. “It might be, a tiny bit, possibly, maybe about you,” he mumbled.

Jaemin smiled impossibly wide and hopped off the counter. He stepped gracefully around the shattered glass and wrapped his arms around Mark’s neck, kissing him soundly.

“Not such a poetic way to say I love you back,” Jaemin said, breathless, forehead pressed against Mark’s. “But I think it does the trick.”

“Holy fuck,” Mark whispered, heart racing in his chest. Jaemin laughed, still out of breath. “God, it sure does.” He smiled. “Now do it again.”

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
I figured out who minhyung is!!!! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
Replying to @millenniumjaem
you got lucky

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
Replying to @minhyungofficial
There was no luck involved whatsoever you are extremely obvious!!!!

Lee Haechan ✓ @millenniumhyuck
Replying to @millenniumjaem, @minhyungoggicial
don’t listen to him minhyung, he’s been trying to figure out who you are since last september with no luck… also who are u why does jaemin know but i don’t

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
Replying to @millenniumhyuck, @millenniumjaem
Idk maybe i’ll tell u. jaemin probably can’t keep it a secret from you guys anyway

minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
to everyone commenting asking for a face reveal because millennium know who i am now: no ♡

Mark jolted awake to the sound of his phone ringing. He flung his hand out and fumbled for the phone, bringing it to his ear with his eyes still sealed shut.

“H’lo?”

“Hey Mark.” Jaemin’s voice was warm on the other end of the line. “Sorry for waking you, honey.”

“S’alright,” Mark hummed, shuffling around so that he was sitting upright against the wall. He cleared his throat. “I’m awake now. What’s up?”

“I was just wondering if you would be up for a midnight walk,” Jaemin said. “Like the first time we met?”

Mark smiled softly to himself. “Sure. I’ll grab my guitar and meet you there.”

The night air was crisp and cool against Mark’s skin, comfortingly familiar as he made his way to the park. When he arrived, it was the same, but different. 

For one, it was warmer than the first night they met, and Jaemin’s hair was black, not pink. But Jaemin was still Jaemin, and he still inspired Mark as much as he did on that very first night.

He approached the bench, sitting down beside Jaemin and settling his guitar across his lap, starting to pluck at the strings of his guitar. They sat in silence, the two of them watching the invisible stars as Jaemin leaned his head on Mark’s shoulder, fingers fiddling with the sleeves of his hoodie.

“Any particular reason you wanted a midnight walk?” Mark asked softly, hesitant to break the comfortable silence that settled between them.

“No,” Jaemin said with a quiet smile. “I just wanted to see you. And I like midnight walks.”

Mark hummed, understanding, and they slipped back into comfortable silence. Mark continued to strum the guitar, humming under his breath as the evening breeze ruffled his hair and made Jaemin curl in closer.

“Thank you for coming,” Jaemin said after a moment, so quiet that Mark nearly missed it.

“I’ll always come if you ask me to,” Mark told him honestly, and Jaemin sat up to pull him in for a quick kiss.

“I know you will,” he said fondly. “Love you.”

Mark smiled, melting. “Love you, too.”

They made their way home a few hours later, Jaemin following Mark back to his place with tired eyes. Mark’s heart was warm as they curled up together in his bed, and he drifted off to sleep like that — Jaemin’s arms wrapped around his waist, nose buried in Jaemin’s hair.

[BREAKING]: Millennium’s Na Jaemin Caught Kissing Mystery Man in Park at Midnight!

[+285, -456] At night…? I expected better from him. Isn’t this against his job description? Aren't idols are supposed to remain available for their fans? Correct me if I'm wrong but that was my impression.

[+437,  -165] They are adorable! It’s not our business, let them be. Jaemin doesn’t owe us anything. 

[+198, -201] It’s literally his job, don’t say he owes us nothing. We gave that group their success, and this is what he does? 

[+645, -455] All of you are bitter about Na Jaemin dating someone as if he cheated on you… he was never going to date you. Delusional fans give me such a terrible headache… 

[+342, -112] I feel bad for him. All he did was fall in love and he’s getting this much backlash. Not to mention the poor guy he’s with, I wonder how long it will take for the media to find out who he is. He’ll probably get death threats… 

[+99, -12] Please leave Jaemin’s boyfriend out of this! He’s just a normal person, he doesn’t deserve all the hate he’ll inevitably get from you all. 

[+132, -56] I don’t care what anyone else says, these two are cute! I wish them happiness!

Mark woke up to muffled cursing.

He blinked open eyes still crusted with sleep to see Jaemin pacing at the foot of the bed, phone pressed to his ear. Mark struggled to sit up, and Jaemin, seeing him stirring, shot him a look full of apprehension. Mark felt his stomach sink.

What’s wrong, he mouthed. Jaemin shot him a helpless look. 

“Just hold on a minute,” he said, sighing. “He’s awake.” Jaemin walked over and rejoined Mark on the bed, wrapping an arm around his waist and holding on tight. With the other hand he pulled his phone away from his ear and put it on speakerphone.

“Mark Lee?” The voice on the other end of the line was tight with concern. “This is Lee Taeyong, from Public Relations.”

“Good morning,” Mark said, frowning. “What’s happened?”

“Long story short, you and Jaemin were caught. The public hasn’t managed to identify you yet, but the moment they do, they’ll swarm your apartment. You guys need to get out of there before the situation becomes unsafe.”

“I don’t think that will be an issue,” Mark said, as calmly as he could muster. “My apartment isn’t listed under my name.”

“What?” Lee Taeyong from Public Relations sounded caught off guard, which was impressive, considering his job description. “Why not?” 

“I’m Lee Minhyung,” Mark said, and Taeyong fell silent. 

“Well,” Taeyong said after a long pause. “That certainly changes things. You and Jaemin should stay inside for the next day or two while we figure things out on our end. The fans aren’t pleased, so we need to find a way to spin this.”

“A way to spin this?” Jaemin interjected, incensed. “Mark is my boyfriend. He’s part of my personal life. There’s nothing to spin here — it’s not their business.”

“I’m afraid, Mr. Na,” Taeyong said, sounding, if possible, even more stressed, “that your fans don’t see things quite the same way. The reputation of your group is at stake here, and…”

Mark tried his best to tune them out. He focused on taking deep, calming breaths, his chest tightening with anxiety. The media, fans potentially finding out who he was. No more privacy.

For a moment, the fear overwhelmed him. He stood abruptly, startling Jaemin, who looked up at him in concern. Taeyong was still speaking rapidly on the other end of the line.

“I’ll be in the living room,” Mark heard himself say, distantly. “Just… Give me a moment.”

He scrambled out of the bedroom and into his living room. He curled up on the couch, clutching a pillow to his chest, and let his eyes flutter shut, focusing on the sunlight barely visible through his eyelids, the warmth of the sun on his skin, and the sound of traffic below his apartment. The streets of Seoul were already busy, despite the early hour.

Being in the public eye was his greatest fear, but he couldn’t see a way out of this situation where he remained anonymous. If he and Jaemin decided to be honest about their relationship, how would they explain how they met without giving his identity away? They could try, but as long as Mark Lee was dating Na Jaemin, he would be in the public eye anyway, which kind of defeated the purpose of remaining anonymous as Minhyung.

The other option, of course, was to lie. To say that he didn’t know Jaemin, and most definitely wasn’t dating him. To say they had just run across each other at a park and impulsively shared a kiss. Mark considered it, but the idea of lying about how much Jaemin meant to him turned his stomach. He knew Jaemin would agree, would do whatever would make Mark the most comfortable, but no. He wouldn’t lie about this.

He opened his eyes slowly, looking out across the city through his living room window as he came to a striking realization.

He was scared of fame. But he was more scared of losing Jaemin.

He heard Jaemin’s footsteps down the hall, and felt him settle on the couch beside him, carefully draping an arm across Mark’s shoulders. “Hey, honey. Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I am now,” Mark said, turning to face him with a small smile. “How do you feel about making our relationship public?”

“What?” Jaemin blinked and sat back, surprised. “I thought you wouldn’t want that. What about your anonymity? Your career?”

“Let’s just say I’m feeling a little reckless,” Mark said, smiling wider to crush the last of his apprehension. 

“Well.” Jaemin considered it, tilting his head to the side in thought. “I’m alright with it. We’ve been dating a while, and if you’re really comfortable with it…” 

“I am,” Mark said, and found that he was telling the truth. “God, Jaemin, I actually am. I can barely believe it.” He laughed, reaching over and planting a kiss on Jaemin’s cheek. “Fuck whatever the fans and the company say, I love you, and I’m happy to tell the world all about it.”

Jaemin beamed, holding Mark’s hands in his. “Well, then go for it.”

Mark grinned and reached for his phone.

Retweeted by Na Jaemin, Millenium Official, and five more:
minhyung. ✓ @officialminhyung
i only say all my poetic ‘i love yous’ to him ♡ pic.twitter.com/2836920

Na Jaemin ✓ @millenniumjaem
Replying to @officialminhyung
(´。• ᵕ •。`)♡

Retweeted by cony, robin:
mei @strdusting
minhyung face reveal AND boyfriend reveal in one day?!? AND HIS BOYFRIEND IS NA JAEMIN?!? if i see any of you saying anything bad about their relationship, it’s on SIGHT !!!!!!