When Youngjae was in elementary school, he was a bright, bubbly, and cute child. He was full of happiness, and people naturally gravitated towards him. He wanted to make friends with everyone, and that he did. During recess, he overheard a conversation between his friends, speaking about a boy he's never heard about.
"He's so scary! I don't want to be friends with him!"
"Did you see how he looked at you? Tell the teacher on him!"
Curious, he asked them who they're talking about.
"Mark Tuan. He's over there, but don't
go over there, Youngjae! He's creepy. He never talks, it like he's just looking at us weird." They pointed to a lone boy, who was around their age. Youngjae didn't see the problem. He looked like a regular kid (although older). He walked over towards him, despite his friends telling him not to, and introduced himself to him.
"Hi, I'm Choi Youngjae, it's nice to meet you!" Youngjae laid his hand out for a handshake, and Mark shook his hand, also telling him his name.
"Mark Tuan," and that was all he replied. Youngjae smiled at him, and Mark looked at him expectantly.
"You aren't gonna say anything mean?" Mark asked, slightly surprised. Youngjae stared at Mark with wide eyes, saying, "No, of course not! Why would I wanna say something mean to you?" Mark seemed confused by his response.
"I wanna know why you don't talk, not that there's anything wrong with it." Youngjae attempted to word it as polite as possible, and Mark didn’t seem to take offense in what Youngjae was saying.
"There's no reason to." Youngjae raised an eyebrow questionably, baffled by his response.
"What do you mean? You have to talk to your friends!" Mark looked at Youngjae in disbelief, not believing what he just said.
"I don't have any friends to talk to," Mark muttered sadly. Youngjae met eyes with Mark and grinned.
"I'll be your friend so that you have someone to talk with!" Mark's eyes widened in astonishment, but he smiled back at Youngjae.
And thus began the start of their friendship.
In middle school, people were making fun of Mark, constantly terrorizing him. Youngjae always tried to defend him, but there were too many people who were trying to go against Mark that Youngjae couldn't keep up. He was filled up guilt that he couldn't defend Mark at all times. Especially because he was younger, so he rarely has any time to be with him. He wanted what was best for Mark, and wanted him to be happy. Mark, however, didn't seem to really mind the bullies. He thought that as long as he was with Youngjae, he would be content. Yeah, there were people who bullied him, but the only person who mattered to him was Youngjae.
"I swear Mark, I will fight them for you!" Youngjae angrily threw his hands up in frustration and paced around the room. Mark enjoyed seeing Youngjae's small tantrum, but he reassured him that he's not worried about them.
"Youngjae, I don't care what they say. By the end of the day I'm still with you. I don't need anyone else." Youngjae blushed hearing those words from Mark, and lightly hit his chest, teasing him with a, "Oh stop it, you." The look on Youngjae's face made Mark's day, his bubbly smile and the brightness in his face when he said that caused Mark's chest to warm. He wanted Youngjae to keep that smile on his face forever.
High school was a turning point for Mark. He went through puberty, and Youngjae noticed the change in Mark's appearance. The first thing that came to his mind was, "How did I not notice how attractive he was?" Of course, Mark was always an appealing individual, but Youngjae felt that something seemed different about him. They were quietly laying in Mark's bed together, enjoying the comfortable silence, when the moment was interrupted by Youngjae's curiosity.
Wanting an answer from the unknowing male, Youngjae poked Mark's face, "Hey, did you do something to your face, or anything...?" His eyebrows furrowed in concentration, wondering what the difference of his face was. Mark laughed at his strange fascination of his changes in style. "Hey don't laugh! I'm seriously confused!" Youngjae's cheeks tinted light pink.
"I'm just wearing clothes I borrowed from Jaebum and Jinyoung taught me how to style my hair. And I almost forgot! Jackson started showing me how to apply makeup." Youngjae knew those names. They were people Mark befriended in the beginning of high school. They were the only ones that approached them and seemed to genuinely care about Mark. Youngjae is glad for Mark to have friends who are amazing people who don't harass Mark and accepts his silence. Even though Youngjae wasn't there for him at the beginning of high school, he was grateful for Jackson, Jaebum, and Jinyoung to be there for Mark when he wasn't.
"That's so cool, I should ask Jackson to teach me also!" Youngjae looked at his bland face in the mirror next to him, imagining what look he should go for.
Mark seemed offended, or even jealous, of what he had just heard. "You're not going to ask me to teach you?" Teasing Youngjae, he held his heart painfully, acting as if he were actually heartbroken by the other male's statement.
"Oh hush, I wouldn't ask a beginner who can't even blend their eyeshadow to help me with makeup," Youngjae stuck out his tongue at Mark. What's even worse is that he couldn't even retaliate because Youngjae was right. Instead he just lightly smacked his shoulder, feigning anger.
As high school progressed for Mark, and the start of Youngjae's high school life, he's noticed that more and more people flocked to Mark. It was understandable, since he's a handsome, smart, and talented guy, but what made Youngjae irritated was that the people who kissed Mark's ass were the same people who didn’t like him back in elementary and middle school. Mark didn't seem to remember their faces, however, Youngjae remembered everything. He wanted to protect Mark from all the fake people out to get him, and he wanted them to know that he isn't just someone who you could mess with. It's go time, he thought, declaring war on the students.
Youngjae decided to discuss the topic with Jackson, Jaebum, and Jinyoung. Jackson almost jumped out of his seat hearing the news.
"What?! They have been getting at Mark since freshmen year, how could they?" He angrily slammed his hands against the table. Jinyoung looked lost in thought, and Jaebum could literally hear his thinking.
"Ugh, Jinyoung just spit it out." Jinyoung jumped at the suddenness, but he smiled because he knew that Jaebum knew what he was thinking.
"Okay, so I was thinking that maybe we should make Mark look less... Appealing, and see what their reaction will be." Jinyoung looked around the room, trying to see the reactions of the other males.
Youngjae's mouth was wide open. He thought it was such a smart idea, he hi-fived Jinyoung and from there, commenced Plan Get Mark to Glow Down.
"Hey, Mark, can I sleep over your house?" Youngjae looked at Mark expectantly, giving him a look that he couldn't say no to. Mark stared at him incredulously, "You realize there's school tomorrow, right?" He smiled sheepishly, and Mark sighed before agreeing.
"Youngjae wake up! School starts in ten minutes!" Youngjae slowly opened his eyes and saw Mark running around his house, looking for clothes to wear. He quickly got up, and tried to calm Mark down.
"Hey, take it easy, you look fine how you are now, and it's hot so its understandable." Mark looked down at what he was wearing, sweats and a loose t-shirt. Fuck it, he thought before putting on his shoes, and ready to leave the house. He looked at himself in the mirror on his door, and he had slightly messy hair, his glasses on, and a lazy outfit. He's never been late, so he usually dresses better and puts on makeup, but he's completely bare-faced.
Youngjae, however, was always late, so everyone at school was used to him looking like he just woke up, and they were okay with it. Youngjae isn't sure how they would react to Mark's appearance, though. All of the students expected higher of him, seeing him dress nice everyday with amazing makeup on and his hair up. He stared at Mark, and he thought he looked better like that. It's actually kind of hot, he thought. Surprised, Youngjae immediately disregarded that thought, and left it in the back of his mind.
Finally arriving at school, the hallways were silent as they were passing through to get to their classes. Mark entered his classroom with Youngjae because they both have dance together (along with Jackson, Jaebum, and Jinyoung). All eyes were on the two, especially Mark. Jinyoung smirked at his appearance and elbowed Jaebum, and Jackson didn't notice anything in the way he looked.
Youngjae could hear the murmurs almost clearly.
"Look at Mark, why is he dressed like that?"
"Yeah... He looks like a bum."
"I thought differently of him..."
The four could clearly hear what they were saying, and they all made an effort to not fight everyone in the room. They didn't understand what was so different about Mark, but it seems that it was a big deal.
Damn near the whole school was talking about how badly Mark was dressed, and Youngjae was trying hard not to say anything about it. Mark seemed indifferent from all of this, and Youngjae could not comprehend how he could feel unfazed by it. I feel like this is middle school all over again, he thought, remembering the same anger he felt when people first started talking about Mark badly.
After school, Youngjae stayed over at Mark's place again, and they were sitting next to each other on his bed. Youngjae clasped his hands together with Mark's and stared into his eyes. Mark saw that the other's eyes were filled with determination, and looked down.
"Mark, why don't you ever do anything to stop them? It's been five years, and you still hesitate to fire back at them. I know you're strong enough to handle them, but-"
"Don't worry, Youngjae. By the end of the day-" Youngjae already knows what he's going to say next.
"I'm still with you. I don't need anyone else." They finished together. Surprised, Mark looked into Youngjae's eyes, and Youngjae could feel the intensity in his gaze. His heart began beating faster, and he tried to look away, but his eyes were locked onto Mark's. He slowly slipped his gaze lower, onto his lips. He's never noticed how pink his lips were. Already knowing what was going to happen, Mark leaned closer to Youngjae, and he could hear the small breaths the other was taking. Slightly tipping his head, he closed his eyes and his lips met with Youngjae's. Mark felt the softness of his lips, and as the kiss got deeper, he tasted the sweetness of his mouth, and he didn't want to pull away. He pulled Youngjae closer to him, and they broke apart to breathe. Realizing their positions was different, and he was on top of Youngjae, who was laid flat on his bed he held Youngjae in his arms, he laid his head on his shoulder. He turned his head so that his lips were near his ear and whispered, "You know, I've always wanted to do that."
Youngjae couldn't help it. He started giggling, and it intensified to a laugh, until he couldn't stop laughing. Mark was confused, but he forgot that Youngjae was ticklish around his neck.
"I was trying to be romantic, but you kind of ruined the mood." Mark rolled onto his side so that he was laying next to Youngjae, and lightly stabbed his side.
Yelping in surprise, Youngjae tried to defend himself, "Sorry, but you should've known that was my weak spot!"
"Oh God, why don't you guys date already?" Jackson called to them, with his phone out.
Youngjae and Mark both screamed in shock.
"How did you get in and how long were you there?" Mark could not believe that he entered his room and recording him and Youngjae.
"Your fault for not noticing Jinyoung, Jaebum, and me not come in your room while you guys are getting hot and heavy." Jackson held his arms up in defense.
"Wait... Jinyoung and Jaebum?!" Mark ignored Jackson using the words "hot" and "heavy" and looked around his room. Jinyoung poked his head out, and laughed nervously, with Jaebum next to him.
"I cannot believe you guys!" Mark exasperatedly raised his arms up in disbelief.
"You guys are gross." Jaebum stated, watching the video Jackson just recorded of them.
"Your fault for watching," Youngjae fired back.
In high school, Youngjae was smart, always smiling, and a bubbly student. He was liked by many people because of that, and made friends from there. During lunch, he overheard a conversation between a group.
"Mark is so handsome, is he single?"
"I wish I was his friend, he seems like such a cool dude."
"Did he see how he looked at you? I wish he could look at me like that."
Youngjae rolled his eyes at their conversation, and continued to eat his food. He waited for Mark and the others to sit with him, and moments later came Mark.
"I hope I didn't make you wait long," he said apologetically.
"No, it's fine. Besides it's funny hearing other people talk about you so highly when they were the same ones who bullied you in middle school." Youngjae wryly looked over to those people and scowled.
"Yeah, it's pretty ironic, but I couldn't care less about them." He looked over to them, and looked at Youngjae.
"I guess you're right."
High school changes everyone. The people who treated Mark wrongly changed, but they come and go. Youngjae and Mark may have changed, but they will always remain the same together.