It’s the best day of their lives.
They celebrate under the Californian sun with their families and closest friends, and it all feels so perfect Mark wants to pinch himself to make sure he isn’t imagining it all. Because this is what he’s been wanting deep down for years already.
“What are you thinking?” Jinyoung asks when walking up to him and offers him a new glass of wine.
“That I’m the happiest person on earth right now,” Mark says and leans in to kiss his husband.
Mark has been in Korea for about 36 hours when he goes to the trainees’ dorm for the first time. He’s completely drained after the long day and nervous since his Korean skills are still limited to only a greeting and short self-introduction. Mark has heard there are other foreign trainees as well but he’s still prepared for the worst when pushing the front door open and stepping in.
Mark knows he’s supposed to be in a room number three but even before he’s managed to drag his backpack and suitcase to the corridor, a door near the entrance flies open and out steps a boy with messy hair and a towel around his shoulders. When he notices Mark, his face lights up instantly and he walks over to him, smiling widely.
“Yo, wassup! You Mark? I’m JYP!”
Mark blinks at the boy and his broken (but cute) English. He bows his head slightly before he finds his voice.
“I’m Mark,” he says, and adds in Korean just in case: “nice to meet you.”
The boy smiles even wider and helps Mark to take his stuff to his room. The boy’s English is about as poor as Mark’s Korean but they manage with gestures and friendly smiles. When they’re done, the boy takes Mark to the kitchen and makes him ramyeon. It’s super simple but tastes like the most delicious thing Mark’s ever eaten and he thanks the boy shyly in Korean. The boy (Jinyoung, he’s introduced himself, and Mark can’t quite believe this boy actually shares a name with the company CEO) smiles and looks as shy as Mark feels. It’s been about ten minutes but Mark realizes he likes the smile and its owner.
Their debut time finally comes and suddenly they’re so busy they barely have time to sleep, a lot busier than during the trainee time, which Mark didn’t think could be possible. They’re busy but everything’s great and exciting and nerve wrecking in Mark’s opinion, all the music shows and photoshoots and interviews. He suddenly feels like his Korean skills aren’t enough, so if he has spare time in the middle of their schedules, he tries to study new vocabulary and expressions secretly. Secretly, because he’s sure other members would make fun of him if they found out.
One day, Jinyoung does find out. He happens to see Mark going through some flashcards on his phone during a break and it’s all too late when Mark hurriedly stuffs his phone away and tries to pretend doing something completely else.
Jinyoung doesn’t laugh at him though. He just looks puzzled.
“But your Korean’s totally fine, hyung.”
“I sometimes don’t understand the words the interviewers use…”
“Oh, really? Then you must tell me, I’ll help you with them! And I’ll help you otherwise, too, if you want.”
Mark looks up at the other, surprised but thankful.
“On one condition, though,” Jinyoung smiles. “You must teach me English in turn.” And Mark promises to teach him all the English in the world.
After moving out of his and Jackson’s room to Yugyeom and Bambam’s, Mark has found himself lying on Jinyoung’s bed while the other’s not at home. He likes Jinyoung’s bed more than his own trek bed on the floor of the maknaes’ room. He tries to make sure to move away before Jinyoung comes home, and actually manages to do that quite long. Until.
One evening, Mark wakes up to steps and someone moving around the dark room, and realizes that he’s not on his own bed. Before he can even makes his sleep-heavy body to move, he suddenly feels the mattress dip when Jinyoung lies down next to him.
“Jinyoungie? I’m sorry, I can get off, I–“
“It’s fine,” he hears Jinyoung’s voice right next to his ear and it sends weird shivers down his spine. “Just sleep.”
Mark huddles a bit closer to the other and does as told.
It becomes kind of a habit, for Mark to occasionally sleep beside Jinyoung, and if they happen to wake up all cuddled up in the morning, neither of them says anything about it. Sometimes Jinyoung even allows Coco to sleep on the bed with them, which Mark thinks is super weird.
“But,” Jinyoung sleepily mumbles one night, “if she pees on the bed, you’re dead.”
That spring Mark starts tentatively dating a girl from other agency. He isn’t sure how serious he is with it, one thing has just lead to another and Mark decides to see what comes out of it.
That spring Jinyoung also gets his first leading role in a drama, and suddenly becomes so busy with filming and promotion activities that they barely see him for weeks. Mark still sometimes goes to sit on his bed out of the old habit but if the schedule is tight, Jinyoung doesn’t even come back to the dorm to sleep so Mark waits in vain.
They finally see him after the filming’s finished and go out for a meal with all the members and managers to celebrate and talk about the upcoming comeback plans. Mark tries to stay off of his phone and enjoy the get-together but the girl keeps texting him. He can see Jinyoung’s knowing smile from beside him, and eventually the other leans closer over the half-empty glasses and beer bottles.
“So I heard about something~” he smirks. “You need to tell me about her later.”
Mark lets out a laugh and nudges Jinyoung’s shoulder, telling him to shut it. When Jinyoung turns around to talk with Jaebum, Mark wonders why there is a sinking feeling down in his stomach. He puts down his phone even though he hasn’t finished writing his earlier message.
Two nights before Jinyoung’s 26th birthday, Mark’s at the dorm thinking if he could do some sort of birthday surprise for the other a bit beforehand. They will leave for Japan for a concert tour the following day, so Mark supposes Jinyoung’s real birthday party will be done on camera for dvds and stuff. He would like to do something small before that though, like a cake or taking the other out for a meal.
It’s just that Jinyoung’s out right then and Mark has no idea when he will be coming back, if at all. The other’s been going out a lot lately, which would be weird if Mark hadn’t overheard Jinyoung and Jackson’s conversation a while ago. It sounded like Jinyoung was seeing someone. Mark had walked past them and into his room, trying to ignore the unpleasant feeling in the pit of stomach. But if Mark was being honest with himself, he’d suspected something like this ever since Jinyoung’s drama last spring. He’d been talking about and going out with this one actor hyung a lot.
Mark sits down on the couch in the living room and tries not to think how Jinyoung must be with this hyung right then as well. He feels awful, he should be happy for the other, like how Jinyoung had been happy for him and his girlfriend. Mark really tries but doesn’t quite succeed.
Mark wakes up on the couch after an undefined time, and when he looks around he sees none other than Jinyoung sitting on the couch beside him. The other’s still wearing his jacket and he’s swaying a bit on his spot, his cheeks red, and from that Mark can tell that he’s been drinking.
“When did you get here?”
“Just now. Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“It’s fine,” Mark says and sits up. Jinyoung’s hair is a bit ruffled in the back and Mark can’t help holding out his hand and gently combing his fingers through the hair. Jinyoung leans into the touch and when Mark pulls his hand away, he drops his head on Mark’s shoulder.
“I’m so sleepy.”
Mark snorts. “Let’s get you to bed, then. We’ll need to travel tomorrow.”
He helps Jinyoung up and to his room, birthday surprises all forgotten but the turmoil inside him just getting worse. And when Mark’s about to leave and Jinyoung grabs his wrist, pulling him down on the bed next to him, Mark momentarily pushes all his earlier thoughts and doubts away. He knows he shouldn’t, for their both sakes, but Jinyoung nuzzles his neck sleepily and wraps an arm around him and Mark has missed this and him so much that he just caves, breathing in Jinyoung’s scent (which is mixed with a foreign perfume) and holding him close.
“Happy birthday, Jinyoungie,” he whispers to darkness.
Mark didn’t think he would really be crying because of his members enlisting, but there he is, standing in the restroom corridor and furiously wiping his eyes, willing the tears to stop right now so he can go back to the table with the rest. It’s their last dinner together for a while.
After a minute or two the tears have finally dried and he’s ready to go back and pretend that nothing ever happened, when Jinyoung appears from the table area and looks both surprised and relieved to see Mark there.
“Where did you disappear?”
“Toilet,” Mark says and tries to walk past Jinyoung, his eyes down but the younger firmly grabs his arm to stop him.
“Are you crying?”
“Am not,” Mark mutters but knows that it’s no use. He gazes up at Jinyoung and sees him biting his lip, clearly trying to suppress a laugh. His face is not mocking but it still makes Mark embarrassed. Jinyoung gently strokes his hand down Mark’s arm. His hair is already chopped short for the army, and the style reminds Mark of their debut time and barely 20-years-old Jinyoung.
“Will you miss me, hyung?” Jinyoung asks carefully, a small smile playing on his lips and Mark would hate him if he didn’t… Well.
“Of course I will,” he says and feels his eyes getting watery again. I miss you every day.
Jinyoung smiles, looking a bit sad, and pulls him into a tight hug.
“Wait for me.”
Guess who’s free~??
Mark smiles at the message and asks when Jinyoung would be free to meet. He doesn’t expect much because the other must want to go visit his family and other friends now when he’s finally done with his service, but the upcoming message surprises him.
I’m free right now! The manager picked me up and is giving me a ride. Come to jyp? I want to eat meat!
So Mark meets him only 30 minutes later, and is still having a hard time believing that the long wait is finally over. When Jinyoung walks through the door, Mark sprints to him and hugs him long and good, hearing the other’s laugh in his ears. Jinyoung looks almost the same he did when enlisting, maybe a bit bulkier. His smile is as shiny as ever and Mark suddenly feels butterflies in his stomach, which he hasn’t in a long while.
“I missed you,” Jinyoung says, smiling, and the way he looks at Mark is so piercing and intensive that Mark has to look away.
“Let’s go, I’ll buy you some meat!” Mark says instead and takes Jinyoung’s hand like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Later, when they’ve eaten and drunk enough (or maybe a bit too much), Mark takes Jinyoung to his apartment to spend a night, because they don’t have a dorm anymore. The apartment’s kind of small, and Mark realizes he doesn’t even have a spare mattress or anything so he offers Jinyoung his bed and prepares to sleep on the couch himself, but Jinyoung laughs and shakes his head, pulling Mark closer by his arm.
“We used to sleep on the same bed before, have you forgotten? I don’t mind.”
Mark swallows. He hasn’t forgotten (how could he?) and he doesn’t mind either but. But. There’s always a but. During these years, he’s always restrained, always stopped himself from doing or saying too much. He kind of regrets it all now but it’s the past he can’t change anymore. The only thing he can change is the present and future.
So he sits down on the bed beside Jinyoung, so close that their thighs brush and breaths mingle, and again tries to take in the fact that the other really is back. His hair is still super short and makes Mark think of debut-Jinyoung, and he already has light stubble and Mark thinks he looks absolutely beautiful.
“I missed you,” Mark says.
“I love you,” Jinyoung answers.
In summer before his 33rd birthday, Mark goes back to the US after 17 years. He doesn’t have any special plans, but tells everyone who’s asking that he’s just taking some time off, maybe working on some music if he feels like it. It’s not like he needs to be in Korea right then; GOT7 is on a hiatus and every member is busy with their individual schedules: Jackson is in China most of the time now, Jaebum is composing and writing songs for himself and other artists, Bambam is working hard for his variety career, Youngjae is enlisting soon and Yugyeom has been working as a choreographer lately. And Jinyoung is finally a nationwide recognized actor, and busy as hell all the time. Mark hadn’t seen him for weeks before leaving, and had finally stopped trying. He reckoned it didn’t matter whether he was in Seoul or in Los Angeles; it would be as impossible to try to meet the other.
Mark had thought that the change of environment would be welcomed but after a couple of weeks back home, he starts wondering about that. America would always be his home deep down, but he has to admit that he doesn’t quite fit in anymore. He’s been away for too long.
He still tries to enjoy and relax, and makes sure to smile to his parents and help them as much as he can. Sometimes he thinks he sees his mother sending worrying glances his way but he acts like he doesn’t notice.
Mark would probably have stayed in LA for quite a while, hadn’t it been for one afternoon. One afternoon, when his parents are out and Mark is sleepily making coffee in the kitchen, when Jinyoung suddenly appears on the doorstep of his parents’ house, looking tired and nervous, and totally pushing Mark off his tracks yet again.
Mark ends up making coffee for both of them, and they drink out on the veranda, a small coffee table and an invisible, deep gap between them. Mark steals glances at Jinyoung and notices that he looks older and thinner than he remembers, and again feels resentment towards the acting jobs that make the other so drained.
Later on Mark learns that Jinyoung had just finished filming his drama the earlier day and had rushed to the airport right after he was free. That Jinyoung had worried over and missed him for months already, and that he had turned down a couple of new acting jobs in order to come back to JYP and make music again. That he had finally realized there was something he couldn’t possibly live without, and had come all the way to Los Angeles to get it back.
He looks so tired and nervous and sad when apologizing, and Mark feels a lump in his throat and just shakes his head because he’s got so many things to apologize for as well, and shyly reaches for Jinyoung’s hand over the table. It’s warm and familiar and when they smile at each other, Mark feels his heart bursting from happiness and wonders why he had to run away so long and so far.
When Jinyoung then pulls out a small box and holds it out for him, Mark lets out a shriek and flails and spills his coffee all over the table. He says yes.
troubleseason, you're up!