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your need grows teeth

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you dangle on the leash

of your own longing;

your need grows teeth.

Margaret Atwood — Speeches for Dr. Frankenstein

 

In hindsight, Donghyuck guesses he should have known things were inevitably destined to come down to this point. 

He’s probably always known, he reasons now, when there is nothing left to lose, that sick want would one day drive him to this very moment in which he’s lost himself—a great part of it, at the very least—to the Moon he’d always dreamed to eclipse. The path had always been clear, that he sees now, bumpy but not obscured, a serpent line that was always headed towards the same fate: Mark Lee and his eyes full of stars, and his lips for Donghyuck to conquer, and his neck for him to cling to in a desperate attempt to stop the fall.

At the end of all things, Donghyuck is left with nothing but this: cold hands to cradle out the wilted pieces of his broken heart, red swollen eyes for him to see himself alone after what he’s done, and an empty room to mirror the inside of his ribcage—pitch black despite the light, no Moon left to guard him during the night. 

 


 

Mark leaves at the crack of dawn, his whole life stashed away into the rectangular vessel of his bag, and Donghyuck is already gone by the time he wakes up. 

Donghyuck hears Mark call out for him, desperate in his quest, uncaring of protests brimming from behind closed doors down the dorm hallway at the sound of his screams—“It’s six in the morning, asshole,” someone yells back, after the strenuous slam of a door against plasterboard wall, “shut the fuck up”. He hears everything, Mark’s cracking words and Mark’s pointless begging and Mark’s silent defeat, “Haechannie, please”, from where he’s curled up in the narrow space in between Renjun’s mattress and his bedside table, knees to the chest creating a cave for him to hide his face. 

It takes bravery to face choice. It takes strength to swallow regret. Donghyuck has none, and so he cries tears of molten greed, slicing sharp across his honey skin. 

“I think you’re making a mistake,” Renjun says, once silence consumes them again, standing in front of him. His shadow casts over Donghyuck’s hunched frame, but he doesn’t manage to find refuge in it, “but I’m here for you, alright?”

“I made it when I wasn’t even aware,” Donghyuck manages to choke out in between broken gasps and heavy sobs, a truth too big to swallow, too sharp to spit, “I made it before I even knew his name.”

Renjun says nothing else; tugs at the blanket laid across his bed until it comes loose and then kneels down to wrap Donghyuck in its warmth, his arms iron steel around Donghyuck’s trembling limbs. He hugs him just like this, a fluffy beige blanket Donghyuck wishes was made out of barbed wire instead draped over his shoulders, and a hand on the back of Donghyuck’s head pressing his face to the crook of his neck, offering him a stage on which to cry without being seen—the performance of a lifetime, final rehearsal behind closed doors.

And deep inside Donghyuck wishes Mark would find him, despite his delirious begging to make Renjun lock the door, words getting caught in the tight knot of his throat and making him choke, despite fear gripping his lungs with its fists and leaving him breathless, at the brink of the precipice; wishes he would barge into the room and cut him down to pieces, just so he could fit inside his suitcase, just so Mark would carry him home.

Being left behind feels too much like exile—for what is left there to do, once it all is gone; and Donghyuck had always dreamed of Mark’s Moon eclipsing his Sun, but he could have never imagined that the darkness resulting from their alignment would feel this cold.

 


 

Spring leaves just as it comes: fast like a glittering comet, sweet-scented, yellow, and pink. Mark dyes his hair blonde and Donghyuck runs his fingers through the frayed strands, as always under the pretense of a joke, and wishes to tangle himself in them until there’s nothing left of his self that Mark doesn’t feel with his every breath.

Summer arrives just as Donghyuck knew it would: dawning upon him quietly, humid heat creeping up his spine at a pace so slow that, by the time he notices, it is already too late to do anything but mourn.

Summer arrives, with its Sun and its long, endless days; and so the college year comes to an end, like all things good and bad always do, and in the frenzy that takes over campus life with preparations for last year students’ graduation, Donghyuck finds himself longing for a cold winter and a snow storm heavy enough to block all the ways out of Seoul.

 

When Mark walks back into their shared room in the college dorms on Graduation Day, after spending the morning choosing ties last-moment with Yukhei, he finds Donghyuck laying on his back on Mark’s bed. His hands are resting behind his head as he stares up at the blank ceiling, almost unblinking, wishing for time to please stop right where it is and let him have one last taste of his everything. 

“Yah, don’t you have a bed of your own?” Mark huffs, throwing a dark green tie across the back of his desk chair unceremoniously.

“I don’t know, do I?” Donghyuck retaliates back, familiarity bleeding out of his every pore, and the smile that crawls its way into his mouth hurts with the fondness it carries on its curve, “What color did Yukhei choose for the tie?”

“Aren’t you going to ask about mine?” Mark pouts, as if he doesn’t know he’s been living inside Donghyuck’s head for years now, occupying every single one of his worries to this day, “Yukhei chose blue, the coward.”

“Green is not that much of a risky choice, you know,” Donghyuck laughs, scooting over to the left when Mark gestures with his hand for him to make room on the single bed, “are you gonna leave your pillow here? I might wanna keep it as a spare.”

By now, all of Mark’s stuff has been torturously slowly removed from their room. Donghyuck has watched the whole process with a heavy heart and cotton stuffing the length of his throat, stealing all his words away—I don’t want you to go, can’t you please stay; a quiet epiphany of what will be left when Mark leaves, marked up walls being held up by mere memories, fading yellow while Donghyuck’s own heart wilts.

Today is Mark’s last day in Seoul before family business in Canada reclaims him as its rightful heir, and the plain white walls feel bare without his array of pictures stuck to them with blu-tack, without his guitar resting on the space between the window and his desk; the right side of their closet empty except for the suit he’s reserved for Graduation Night today and the sweatshirt-joggers pair he’s left behind to wear for the trip, the shroud Donghyuck would love to unweave.

“What’s with you and my pillows?” Mark laughs, too, and the tune they make together sounds heavenly enough for Donghyuck to allow himself to relish in it, three seconds at most, “Hey, have you thought about what to wear tonight?”

“What do you mean?” Donghyuck teases, rolling to lay on his side so he can watch Mark’s profile—the steady rise-and-fall of his chest, the shape of his nose, the cheeks he aches to map with his lips, the mole on his neck he dreams to kiss, “I’ll just wear whatever, it’s not that important.”

“But it’s my graduation!” Mark whines, airy staccato laugh pouring from his parted lips after, “I know for a fact that you are so not staying home when there’s such a huge party going on.”

Staying home, Donghyuck thinks bitterly, no place is home if you’re not in it, Mark Lee

“When do your parents arrive?” Donghyuck asks instead, lips pursed in deep thought, “cause we could go out for lunch with Jaemin, Jeno, Renjun and the rest, if you can. Just to, you know. Say goodbye and everything—”

“Donghyuck,” Mark sighs, turning his head to stare right at him. Donghyuck senses the movement before it comes and lays on his back again, eyes fixed on the blank ceiling, hoping for it to crumble down and leave him trapped in its debris forever—stuck in this moment, Mark’s hand a heartbeat away from his own, “you know this is not goodbye, c’mon. We’ve already—”

“I know,” Donghyuck interrupts, voice teetering over a dangerous edge, chest tight under flesh and bone, “I just thought—”

“Enough thinking, then,” Mark smiles, and he reaches over to gently squeeze Donghyuck’s shoulder over his t-shirt. Through the layer of cloth, it burns. “My parents arrive at three, so we can go have lunch with the others, alright? Only if you promise not to cry.”

It comes out of his mouth teasing and tender all at the same time. Donghyuck smiles at the ceiling and nods his head silently, willing the tears clawing at the back of his eyes to die down before croaking a quiet, “okay”. 

Goodbyes are not often a choice—they are a given for those too beautiful to be trapped, too burdened to be free.

And Donghyuck doesn’t regret meeting Mark Lee three years ago, on the hallway of these dorms that have come to become their home; doesn’t regret asking him to share a room during the two following years, either, despite the fact that they could have chosen to have one of their own, despite the way Donghyuck felt himself falling more and more and more every morning he woke up to see Mark drooling over his pillow on the bed opposite to his own, aching to sneak underneath his covers and hold him close enough to melt against his flesh.

What Donghyuck regrets, maybe, is having gotten used to Mark’s presence—so much that he doesn’t know how he will survive tomorrow, when he’s no longer by his side.

Regret often comes from choices—but it was not Donghyuck who chose to fall so far in love with Mark. The Moon has just always been too beautiful to resist, and Donghyuck has always ached to protect its light, personified in Mark Lee.

Mark smiles at him, as if he understands, and it lights up the room. Donghyuck breathes and returns the gesture—lets himself enjoy the last few moments, for when memories are all that’s left for him to hold.

 


 

When she arrives once he and Mark have returned from lunch with their friends, Mark’s mother hugs Donghyuck as if he were her own son, smothers a hand down his caramel hair and says, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to meet you, Mark is always talking about you,” because three years sharing life together far away from their hometowns have turned them into a single being Donghyuck is afraid he won’t know how to separate.

When Mark’s parents leave their room so Mark can get himself ready for the ceremony, Donghyuck sits down on his desk chair and lets his gaze get lost into the void, the sound of water splashing against the shower’s tiles drowning his senses.

He thinks about the first time he crossed paths with Mark, on his way to the vending machine at four am on his first semester in Seoul University, when insomnia had taken control of Donghyuck’s every night just to make his life a little bit more miserable. Away from home, waiting for a bag of chips to drop from the machine on the communal hallway in the early hours of dawn, Donghyuck had never felt so alone. 

It wasn’t until Donghyuck kicked the bottom of the machine once his chips got stuck in the middle of their route that Mark suddenly rushed out of his room in a frenzy, all messy hair and ruffled clothes, just to tell him, “dude, that machine is evil, lemme show you a trick.”

Donghyuck still doesn’t understand what happened that night. Mark says it’s a coincidence that he was awake and ready to help. Donghyuck calls it fate and clings to it like a lifeline. “It must mean we’re soulmates,” he told Mark once, “destiny had to put you in my way so I could eat those chips and not have a possibly life-threatening breakdown at four am.”

He thinks about how he and Mark became friends by talking during the nights in which neither of them could sleep and then grew into two halves of a same whole, no Donghyuck without his Mark Lee to put up with his drama and no Mark without his Haechan to tease the hell out of his every day, and about how introducing him to Jeno, Renjun and Jaemin and later to their new-found friends felt too much like coming home. 

He thinks about asking Mark to share a room for Donghyuck’s second year in college, despite most of their friends—except Jeno and Jaemin, enamoured since the very first day—choosing a single one, and about Mark being excited enough to immediately agree; about inevitably becoming best friends and leaving pieces of themselves scattered around shared space and never being apart from each other by the time night came, and fondness floods his chest with its viscous warmth and tells him, this is what you had, this is what you’re losing tonight.

He thinks about the first time he wanted to kiss Mark, on a spring morning laying on one of the extensive fields of grass in campus, way before he learnt how to put a name to the feeling gawking at the very bottom of his heart and telling him, in a mocking tone it still carries today, that Mark would never be just a friend to him—that he would stay engraved on the inner walls of Donghyuck’s ribcage like a brand, a leash of longing tightening with every breath he takes, with every laugh they share. He will never be yours, the awful tune sing-songs, but you will never be able to let him go.

He thinks and thinks and thinks, and then Mark comes out of the little ensuite bathroom in his suit pants and fitted shirt and a towel in his hands, and Donghyuck thinks, what I’d do to get to have you, want growing thick beneath his skin and taking control of his pulse, the things I’d do just so I could be yours

“That looks good,” Donghyuck says instead, as disinterested as he can manage to sound. Mark smiles at him and towels at his hair, and Donghyuck engraves the image inside his brain for when he can no longer see Mark in his everyday life, soft enough for Donghyuck to touch, for him to ache to mold him to the shape of his own need.

“Thanks,” Mark chuckles, the beginning of a blush staining high on his cheeks, “you can use the shower now, if you want. I’m done with the bathroom.”

Donghyuck nods silently and makes his way over to the ensuite. In the middle, his hand brushes against Mark’s where he stands in front of the full-body mirror, and the current of electricity that zaps up the length of his arm feels too much like a warning: do not think to touch him, glooming threat over his head, he’s not yours to have; feels too much like a premonition: fate does always find its ways, hopeful where Donghyuck wishes it were not, play your card, you won’t forgive yourself if you don’t.

 

Donghyuck comes out of the shower looking pristine, clad in one of his best shirts and dress pants and with his hair blow-dried until it falls flawlessly parted across his forehead, but his hands tremble and the rope of fear feels suffocating where it sits around his neck. The certainty with which he knows his world to imminently fall out of orbit is heavy where it rests atop his shoulders’ bones, and his chest feels too narrow for his lungs to expand—yearning for the boy that he can’t have taking up too much space, let him go, don’t let him go

The picture that greets him, though, is breathtaking enough to make all the awful, apocalyptic thoughts vanish from Donghyuck’s head. 

Still in front of the mirror, his hair now flawlessly styled where it was messy prior and exactly right where Donghyuck left him before walking into the shower, Mark’s hands are fumbling with his dark green tie—uselessly turning the cloth around over itself, trying and failing at tying it around the hollow of his throat. Endearment feels sweet under the roof of Donghyuck’s mouth, how can you be so cute, what did I do to deserve to know you; desire simmers hot beneath his skin, and Donghyuck finds himself envying the tie, for he too wants to wrap himself around Mark’s neck, wants to be close enough to engrave the rhythm of his pulse on the inside of his heart. 

“Do you need help with that?” He asks, clearing his throat afterwards, for it comes out half-choked with emotion and utter want.

Mark’s heart almost leaps out of his skin, startled at the sudden sound of Donghyuck’s voice, and he turns around to face him with flushed cheeks and his hands awkwardly hovering over his chest, “Uh, if you know how to tie it properly?”

“Course I do, dummy,” Donghyuck smiles, already approaching Mark with sure steps, “it’ll be just a moment.”

Mark’s cheeks do not lose their warm, red flush when Donghyuck’s hands gently grip the silk of the tie and begin to twist it into a neat knot, and Donghyuck feels extracorporeal—sees the scene unfold as if lost in a dream, the way his fingers almost brush the soft, soft skin beneath Mark’s chin when he tilts his head up, eyes casted to the side as an unnameable kind of tension grows thick inside the room.

It’s not until he finishes tying the knot, slipping a finger in between Mark’s collar and the tie to make sure it doesn’t sit too tight, that Mark’s eyes catch his own. Donghyuck feels all the air getting punched out of his chest at the sudden realisation of their proximity—at the way it would be oh-so-easy to lean forward and press his lips to Mark’s, to let him know what he’s always wanted but never told, to let go of the unbearable weight of longing tied tight around his ribcage, squeezing hard, pulling at every loose thread of his sanity and begging him to act. 

Mark smiles, then, small and sincere, and the moment feels private enough for Donghyuck to want to do something—give a clue, maybe, a brush of his lips against Mark’s cheek or a little touch of his hand to where his pulse beats against the inside of his wrist; but Mark’s eyes still shine when Donghyuck lets himself get lost in them, and he doesn’t have it in him to mess up their history—the way they’ve come to this exact moment in time, in which there is nothing but trust between each other, in which remaining best friends after tonight is probably the best thing Donghyuck can hope for when there will be an ocean and hours of difference in between them by the time morning comes. 

“There you go,” Donghyuck breaks the silence, and his voice cracks when it gets caught against a sharp edge on his throat, “all proper.”

“Thanks,” Mark says, gentle as always, and his hand grips Donghyuck’s wrist carefully when he goes to withdraw it from the tie, light as a feather yet heavy as stone, “really, Hyuck. Thank you—for everything, you know. You know, right?”

Donghyuck does—knows about how it would have probably been much harder, if not impossible, to push through college without Mark Lee by his side; knows about how finding each other felt life-changing in a way that none of them would be able to explain, something akin to kismet, soulmates or whatever kind of fate; knows that Mark loves him, maybe not in the way Donghyuck wishes he did, but still grounding and real and everything he’s ever needed him for.

Donghyuck doesn’t—doesn’t know if Mark can see through him and reach the darker corners of his heart, where he aches the most, deep black want that threatens to eat him alive; where he dreams about living inside him forever, carried on his soul as if that’s where he rightfully belongs. He doesn’t know what Mark would think, really, if he knew how badly Donghyuck wants—everything, all at once, no fear of the fall he took too long ago to recall. 

“Don’t,” is what he says in the end, soft and vulnerable, eyes fixed on the way Mark’s fingers easily snake around his bony wrist, “I just did my eyes, do not make me cry.”

Mark laughs; bright and open mouthed, head tilted back in delight. “Don’t cry! I’m still here, you idiot.”

Donghyuck loves him and loves him and loves him again; shakes his head and slaps his shoulder, and turns around to look for his shoes.

 


 

The university’s Graduation ceremony is as boring and uneventful as it has always been. 

Donghyuck remembers Jeno snapping pictures when his brother Doyoung graduated the year in which they themselves started college, incredibly proud of his achievements, a research post-grad scholarship given to him for the excellency of his record. He remembers Ten sneaking out flutes of champagne at the family-awarded reception later, giving them to Mark and their friends before they headed towards the club where nights like those were celebrated—fancier than their usual, still as much fun.

Today, Donghyuck sits between Jeno and Renjun at the back of the auditorium and manages not to cry when Mark Lee’s name gets called out to the stage. He walks up the stairs uncharacteristically elegantly, grabs his diploma and engraves another memory in Donghyuck’s brain—the day you made it, he labels it, and left me behind.

After the ceremony, Mark leaves for dinner with his parents and his brother Johnny, whom he’d been dying to see, and Donghyuck gathers with Renjun, Yangyang, Chenle, Jisung, Jeno and Jaemin in Chenle’s room and they order pizza while starting to pour themselves some drinks.

“Looking forward to later at the club, Hyuck?” Jaemin coos, gummy smile where he rests his head on Jeno’s shoulder, molded to his shape after all this time.

“Why should I?” Donghyuck hums, eyebrows raised as he chews through a slice of pepperoni pizza before reaching over for his wine plastic glass, “it’s just another party, we’ve had plenty by now.”

“Yeah, but it’s Mark’s last night,” Chenle says, sad and teasing at the same time, “we should make the most out of it, shouldn’t we?”

Donghyuck swallows down the remnants of his white wine in one gulp, if only to drown the implications, forget about the words. “We should,” he agrees once he’s placed his glass down, “so let’s get drunk and make it fun, I’ll treat you all to a shot when we get there—the cheapest one, Yangyang!”

They all cheer like it gets the problem fixed—but the departing piece from Donghyuck’s heart, he doesn’t quite know how to stop that.

 


 

The night club is buzzing with energy, the dim lights casting shadows over every corner, illicit affairs hidden from plain view. Donghyuck’s hand is slippery with the condensation dripping down the length of his glass, and his brain feels a little bit sluggish with the amount of alcohol running through his veins.

Next to him on the edge of the dance floor, Mark throws back his head in laughter; Yukhei shows him his middle finger and promptly leaves to keep scheming with Dejun and Kunhang, and Donghyuck’s hand grows a mind of its own when it reaches over to hold Mark’s, drawing his attention back to him. 

“Cheers,” Donghyuck giggles, tilting his gin-and-tonic cocktail glass against Mark’s rum-and-coke one, the clinking sound of them not-so-gently crashing together drowned by the loud music reverberating across the space, “to my favourite Business major out of them all.”

“You’re so silly,” Mark grins, taking a long gulp from his glass before eyeing the crowd of people dancing along to the bass, bodies sliding together with their motion, lips pressing together as if there’s nobody else to watch, “don’t you wanna dance for a while? I see the others over there—”

“No,” Donghyuck simply says, a little shrug of his shoulders accompanying the slightly slurry word, “I wanna stay with you all the time before you go.”

“Oh my God, stop thinking about that!” Mark whines, head falling on Donghyuck’s shoulder as he grunts, “I’ll go dancing with you too, then, just let me order another drink.”

In the haze stemming from all the wine and the gin he’s had so far, Donghyuck nods and obeys. He makes small talk with a few people from his class until Mark comes back, his cheeks tinted pink from the alcohol and the summer heat bleeding into the club’s atmosphere, his eyes starrier than Van Gogh’s own night.

Donghyuck’s heartbeat hammers against his adam apple, want pulsing thick on his wrists, and his need—it grows teeth.

“—dance?” Donghyuck catches the last part of Mark’s question, and he nods his head before even processing what he said, not hesitating to follow him when he leads the way: a ship destined to follow the way of its only captain, the compass of Mark’s fate his only guide.

The middle of the dancefloor is crowded enough with people to make it almost impossible for them to reach Renjun where he’s waving, Jaemin clinging to Jeno’s middle right next to him. Afraid to lose him, Mark reaches back to grip Donghyuck’s hand, and electricity returns its thrum against Donghyuck’s fingertips; begs him to never let go, no matter how much it would hurt to melt against each other until bones are all that’s left, the everlasting reminder of how things once were.

“Finally,” Renjun huffs when they make it there, clinking his glass against Mark’s and then Donghyuck’s as some sort of greeting, “I sent Chenle to look for you two, Jeno and Jaemin here won’t stop sucking face and—”

“Don’t say that!” Jaemin whines right as Jeno’s cheeks tint red, “you’re just jealous.”

“Dude, stop,” Mark cuts their bantering, smile wide on his lips, “this is my favourite song!”, and Donghyuck drinks down Mark’s joy like he would water if he were to find an oasis in the middle of the desert. 

In the end, they are not so different, his drunken brain reasons. Yearning is one arid road, deforestation of the heart, and Mark’s kind smile and bright words; they’ve always been the only ones to quench his thirst for more, to feed his greedy heart with endless bites from the forbidden apple, to light up his darkest nights. 

 

Donghyuck processes the following moments like a broken filming machine—in short sequences, still frames of the world ending cracking around the edges, movements in slow motion that shift mountains with their force.

One moment they’re all dancing together, circle drawn tight among the mass of people, their laughter resonating loud inside Donghyuck’s ribcage like a claim—this is home, not a place but his friends, forever no matter where he goes.

The next, his hands are searching for Mark’s wrist like the needy call of a wolf, skin meeting skin and melting under the flame Donghyuck’s desire lights up, and Mark turns his head to face him until he’s close enough to taste, Donghyuck’s pulse spiking up, the world stopping on its turn.

The next, Donghyuck’s fingers are grabbing ahold of Mark’s dark green tie, slightly skewed from the dancing and the night, and he’s pulling him closer until their noses are brushing and he can say, “please,” the unnameable request; until Mark’s hands are lacing themselves behind Donghyuck’s neck and he’s saying, “come here, kiss me, kiss me,” and then leans forward and kisses Donghyuck himself, lips light like feathers, sentiment heavy like a whale.

On the last moment in this damned collection of picture frames, Mark’s hands have found their way underneath Donghyuck’s shirt, and his skin is soft like silk as Donghyuck’s lips make their way up Mark’s neck, and when Mark voice grows thick against Donghyuck’s ear to whisper, “do you wanna go back to the dorms with me?”, Donghyuck throws the last stone to the crumbling walls of his universe and nods.

And just like that, Donghyuck gets all he’s ever wanted—Mark’s lips and Mark’s skin and Mark’s throbbing heat when he pushes inside him, making home out of Donghyuck in a way he could have never thought of before, the choice he makes tasting of delight at the back of his mouth.

And just like that, Donghyuck loses everything—grabs Mark’s hand with his when they lay together in his bed in the aftermath and tells him, “I love you, I love you, I love you more than anything else, don’t go, please don’t go,” doomed to failure from the start, until he falls asleep with the words dying on his tongue, regret mixing with his blood and taking control of his breathing until that, too, becomes hard to do.

Tell me the story about how the Sun loved the Moon so much that he died every night just to let her breathe.

Donghyuck heard the words once, long ago enough to forget where—but tonight, he dreams of them like an epiphany; the words written on his stone by the time the morning Sun dawns upon him and he realizes just how much it hurts to break your most important promise. 

 


 

Donghyuck doesn’t dare return to their—his, now, he painfully reminds himself—room until Renjun starts packing up his stuff to leave for the summer, the sight of another dear person of his leaving too hard for his ruined heart to stand.

When he opens the door, after sitting at the bottom of the staircase hopelessly wishing for Mark to be waiting for him inside the room, he’s met with nothing and nothing at all. They say there are certain moments in life in which you can hear silence. Today, it screams so loudly at him that Donghyuck fears his ears will explode with its force; emptiness wrapping its arms around him and pulling him into the void, guilt brimming on his throat so thick he can taste its bitterness on the back of his tongue.

Mark is gone—from their room and from Seoul and from Donghyuck’s life most probably, too, because Donghyuck simply didn’t have it in him to stop his hands from reaching over, his lips from wanting so sickly it would’ve been painful to refrain himself from melting into Mark’s touch once he’d had the lightest trace of it on his skin.

Donghyuck never chose to fall so far in love with Mark that it feels like he’s kind of lost control over his own self, the leash of his utter need pulling him closer to Mark until there wasn’t any room left to leave. He doesn’t regret it, either, for the most beautiful things in life are never meant to last—but it hurts and hurts and hurts, bad enough to tear open old scars and new wounds alike, the deep black molten pieces of his broken heart dripping out of them instead of red blood.

Upon collapsing on his bed, no strength left on his soul for it to hold his frame up anymore, Donghyuck belatedly realises that Mark left his pillow buried in between his own; an undeserving reward to his greed for more, always more, his ache to be Mark’s to have, to live inside him and bask in his everything. 

Lost in despair, he buries his face in it, forlorn expression hidden against soft cotton, and breathes in Mark’s scent until he gets tired enough from crying to fall asleep again.

 


 

His family’s house feels less like home than it ever has, and Donghyuck doesn’t even have it in him to pretend like he is alright anymore.

His mother worries, his father tries to get him to get out of the house and fails miserably, and his older brother Taeyong sits him down on the kitchen table on Donghyuck’s third night at home and questions him on so, so many things that he feels himself caged like a wounded bird. Not that he cares—he feels too empty to put up a fight anyways, and his wings were cut so long ago that the scars have healed and he barely remembers what it felt like to fly.

“It’s fine,” he tells Taeyong with a shrug of his shoulders and his eyes downcast, chewing through the bitterness of his lie, “it’s just that Mark is gone, and I guess I won’t get to see him again which, you know. Sucks.”

“Have you talked to him about it, though?” Taeyong asks, as if that was something Donghyuck was allowed to do.

He doesn’t tell Taeyong about kissing Mark, fucking Mark, loving Mark with every single cell making up his being; he just shurgs again, mindlessly tears apart the napkin he was holding in his hands and says, “there’s nothing to say,” words too little of a vessel for how much space Donghyuck’s feelings take, “every single thing ends.”

It’s a lie—there are too, too many things Donghyuck would like to tell Mark; how sorry he is for destroying their friendship, for falling so in love that it became impossible to quiet down the ache to touch him, taste him, have him reach the deepest part of his self and pull apart the pieces until there is nothing inside him but Mark, flooding his senses, drowning his own soul.

It’s the truth—every single thing ends, that Donghyuck has known from the beginning, and so he doesn’t think he’s got any right to reach out to Mark after messing everything up. He thinks of Mark’s lips and of his teeth engraved on his shoulder, and guilt tightens its knot on his stomach and punches the air out of his lungs. 

He never thought loving would hurt this much; the tragic story of the Sun and the Moon, aching to be together yet incapable to do so—eclipses happening so rarely that the aftermath could be nothing but painful, the mourning of a love doomed from the start.

 

It’s been two weeks now since he returned home from the college dorms for the summer—and so it marks two weeks, too, since he blocked Mark’s number on his phone in a desperate attempt to stop himself from ruining things further, to have time to think about a second chance.

Donghyuck wouldn’t know what to tell him, if they were to talk now; doesn’t think he deserves to lay on Mark the weight of his own greed and his own lies, how he pretended not to love him for so long, how he gave in on the last trial simply because he couldn’t stop himself from wanting to indulge in the darkest desires of his soul.

He wouldn’t, and so he decides it’s for the best—keep himself and Mark unable to reach out for each other, hoping that he’ll understand, even if it serves him nothing, for there’s nothing for them to have anymore. Canada and South Korea are too far away, and even if Donghyuck knows the ocean could never be deep enough to drown his love, he doesn’t think Mark has ever given it a thought for him to wonder if they could ever even try.

It’s been two weeks now, since Mark returned to his hometown and took away Donghyuck’s own home; no goodbyes to be had if only because Donghyuck had to be selfish until the very end, hiding from his choices and his own regrets.

That is why, when his phone beeps with the notification of an incoming mail from a Seoul College ID made up of numbers he doesn’t recognise, he expects anything but what he receives:

 

From: 2358964ML@seu.kr

To: leedhaechan@naver.kr

Subject: FWD: Acceptance Letter - Seoul University College Graduate School

wanna share a room again in september? you left me longing for a good morning kiss </3…… i’d like a repeat please !!!!

pd.: please unblock me? there’s something i’d like to tell you… and i swear it’s all good things :)

pd.2: i’m never forgiving renjun for keeping you away from me :(

pd.3: seriously unblock me, i miss you, idiot !!!

mark lee 💙


“To the attention of Mark Lee:

We are glad to welcome you to the Master in Business Administration at Seoul University College, and we hope you will make the most out of the three years ahead of you once you formalize your inscription. 

This programme offers you endless opportunities, which we wish you will enjoy as a forward step into your higher education path.

Find attached below the form you need to fulfill and send back before August 10th.

If you are in need of any help, do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,

Seoul University College Graduate School Welcome Team”

 

It takes bravery to face choice. It takes strength to swallow regret. Mark Lee is brave, and Donghyuck—he’s never been one to back off from a challenge.