Jack twirled his pen around his fingers as he tried to remember the answer to the exam question in front of him. He felt like he was the last one to finish the exam, even though after a glance around the room, it was obvious that only a few people had finished.
He flipped through the pages, still twirling the pen, to see how much he had left. He tried to supress a sigh, his brain shutting down at the sight of three whole pages of exam to go.
He started to think about the answer to his question when a little piece of paper slid onto his desk, with neat handwriting on it.
Stop it, the note said. You’re driving me crazy.
Jack grinned – he knew that handwriting anywhere. He glanced to his right, down the continuous science desk, to see Mark glaring sideways at him, a book in front of him and his exam upside down at the front of the desk. Of course Mark had finished already.
Mark raised an eyebrow at him and Jack mimicked the action. Mark just shook his head and kept reading, but Jack saw the smile tugging at the boy’s perfect lips.
Not the time to be thinking about that, Jack, he mentally shouted at himself, wanting to stab himself with his pen. Finish yer fucking exam already!
So Jack put his head down and pushed through the test, wanting nothing more than to flip the table (that was, ironically, bolted into the floor) and walk out.
He finished not long before time was up, leaving him just enough time to skim through his answers for the multiple choice questions and then have him pray that his short-answer questions were right. Glancing to the side, he saw Mark calmly and confidently walk up and give the teacher his test, and Jack didn’t doubt that he got a good grade. He did doubt that he himself got a good grade, though. He hoped for a decent one at the very least. As long as he didn’t fail he’d be happy.
Not happier than the wonderful feeling of walking out of class after the bell ringing, though, and walking to his locker to pack his books into his bag and leave. Finally.
“How’d you go?”
Jack looked over to see Mark leaning against the locker beside his own, zipping up his backpack.
Jack rolled his eyes and went back to shoving books into his locker. “Absolutely fantastic,” he drawled out in a sarcastic tone. “100%, definitely.”
“Seriously, Jack,” Mark sighed.
Jack chuckled. “I probably failed, or near enough to it,” he admitted.
“Well, maybe if you spent less time playing with your pens and more time actually doing the exam, you might get somewhere,” Mark suggested.
Jack laughed. “Yeah, you can say that all you want, Mr I’m-so-good-at-everything Fischbach.”
“Yes I can, Mr Leave-all-the-studying-until-the-night-before-and-then-wonder-why-I’m-failing McLoughlin.”
They both cracked up at that, as Jack locked his locker and swung his bag onto his bag. He looked over to see… Mark was still zipping up his backpack?
“Fucking zipper,” Mark was muttering under his breath.
“Give it here,” Jack said, holding out his hand. Mark sighed, and gave it to him. Their fingers briefly touched as Jack took it, and he felt a spark of electricity run up his arm and down his spine. But the sudden weight of Mark’s bag took his mind off it.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ,” Jack said. “What do ye have in here, bricks?”
“No, just a lot of books.”
Jack rolled his eyes again, and managed to tug the zipper closed in a few tugs. He handed it back to Mark, who was glaring at him.
Jack grinned and held up his hands. “Gotta give me credit for somethin’,” he said.
Mark laughed, and they left the school, chatting about the latest video games they’d bought. Jack noticed that they were walking very close to each other, and if he moved just a millimetre to the right they would bump shoulders. His heart started racing at the thought of it, and however much he tried, he couldn’t seem to focus on anything else.
“So what do you think, Jack?” Mark was saying, bringing him back to reality.
“What?” Jack said stupidly. Mark raised his eyebrows, and Jack grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, I wasn’t really listening.”
Mark sighed, but couldn’t stop the grin on his face. “Again, Jack, really?”
Mark laughed, and bumped his shoulder against Jack’s, who suddenly felt heat rising into his face. “What am I to do with you, Jack?” Mark chuckled. “You’re driving me crazy.”
Jack waggled his eyebrows. “In a good way or a bad way?”
Mark grinned mischievously back at him. “Only the best ways.”
They laughed as they made their way back to Mark’s house together. They had exams all week, and it was only Tuesday, so Mark suggested they do some revision together at his house. It would be a lot quieter than Jack’s house, because Mark only had one brother that would be studying, too, as opposed to Jack’s house with four siblings living at home.
Walking through the front gate, they were greeted by a huge golden retriever that came bounding towards them. She jumped on Mark, almost knocking him over in her excitement.
“Hey, Chica!” Mark greeted her, playing with her ears. She barked excitedly. Jack scratched the top of her head, and Mark pushed her off him and they made their way into the house. Chica ran back around the side towards the backyard, barking at some birds that had come to rest on the grass.
Mark held the door open for Jack and mock bowed, making Jack laugh.
“I’m home!” Mark called out as they walked down the corridor towards his room. When nobody answered, he shrugged. “I guess Mom is still working. Tom might not be home for a bit.”
So they dumped their bags in Mark’s room and Jack pulled out the notes he’d need for the next day’s exams.
Mark rolled his eyes. “Mr Leave-all-the-studying-until-the-night-before-and-then-wonder-why-I’m-failing McLoughlin strikes again.” Jack laughed. It was always fun to be around Mark.
Before long, Jack was stressing, and stressing a lot. History was so goddamn complicated!
“You okay?” Mark asked, and Jack wanted to flip the desk they were sitting at.
“I don’t fucking understand any of this shit!” Jack said, tugging at his hair in frustration.
Mark leaned over to see what he was reading. “This is why you don’t leave the studying until the night before, genius,” he muttered sarcastically.
“I heard that,” Jack sighed. “I don’t get it, I’m gonna fail, it’s all gonna go to shit, I know it.”
Mark whacked him gently over the back of the head. “Stop stressing out so much, god,” he said.
Jack just groaned, and couldn’t help lolling his head forward onto Mark’s shoulder. He was surprised when Mark made no move to shove him away like he expected. Instead, Mark just sighed and brought an arm over his shoulders, gently pulling Jack’s hand away from his hair.
“Please stop stressing,” Mark said quietly. “You’re driving me crazy.”
He was driving Jack crazy, with his arm there like that. Jack didn’t dare move, in case Mark took his arm away. But instead, Mark just gently ran his fingers through Jack’s hair, softly and cautiously. Then, in that amazing voice of his, started explaining what Jack didn’t understand.
And Jack understood it all.
The next day after school, they were headed over to Mark’s house again for a mix of study and video games, as they only had one exam after lunch the next day. On the short walk to Mark’s house, Jack ran over the exam they had that day, the one that Mark helped him study for. It went so much better than he thought it would – mainly because Mark’s voice was always in his head, telling him the answers and explaining it to him. In fact, he thought that this exam went better than all the other ones so far, even in the subjects he was stronger in. But maybe that was just wishful thinking.
“How about it, Jack?” Once again, Mark’s voice brought him back to reality.
Jack looked over. “Sorry,” he said, grinning slightly. “I wasn’t on Earth for a moment.”
Mark laughed and shook his head. “I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore, should I?”
Jack waggled his eyebrows, but didn’t answer.
Again, they were greeted by Chica nearly knocking Mark off his feet (which would’ve been absolutely hilarious), and the silence of the house.
But this time, when Mark opened the door to let Jack into his room, Jack slid his bag off his shoulder as he waited for Mark. He turned around as Mark closed the door behind them.
When Mark turned around to face Jack, Jack dropped his bag, closed the distance between the two boys, cupped Mark’s face with both hands and pressed their lips together like he’d been dreaming of doing for years. The momentum pushed Mark back into the door, Mark freezing against Jack, but not pushing him away.
When Jack pulled away after a couple of seconds, Mark was just staring at him, wide-eyed, red under dark Korean skin. But just as Jack started to panic, Mark’s hands were around his waist and he was being pulled in again.
As they kissed, Jack’s hands went back from Mark’s cheeks to run through the thick, soft raven hair, just like Mark had done to him the day before. Mark’s strong arms were finally holding him like he’d wanted them to for as long as he could remember, and he was finally feeling those perfect lips against his.
Mark’s hands left him for a moment as another bag slid to the ground, but then they were back, stronger than ever, pulling Jack’s slim body into his own larger frame. Jack fit perfectly into those arms, and he never wanted to let go.
But eventually Mark pulled away, and Jack just looked at him, desperately trying to ask him if this was okay without speaking a word. Mark just smiled and softly touched his forehead to Jack’s.
“You drive me crazy,” he murmured, making Jack’s heart race and his cheeks heat up. “You always have,” Mark went on.
“In a good way, or a bad way?” Jack couldn’t help asking. Mark rolled his eyes and kissed him again.