Mark was studying in the library alone when the bell went. He groaned - he was so dead. Exams, exams, and more goddamned exams. He could barely concentrate with the workload that they'd been given. He started packing his books away as the rest of the students started clearing out, chatting away.
Mark noticed him as he straightened up and had already started walking out. One boy, sitting alone, with their head in one hand and twirling a pen around the fingers of the other hand, and his foot tapping quickly against the ground - sure signs of stress. Mark wondered why he wasn't leaving, before noticing that he had earphones in. He also faintly recognised him, but it was hard to tell who it was.
Mark walked over to him and tapped him on the shoulder, and he jumped as he turned around. Mark instantly knew who it was - Jack McLoughlin, the Irish exchange student that had started at his school at the beginning of the year. He and Mark had gotten along easily from the beginning, even though they had slightly different friend circles. They occasionally sat together during the classes they had together, and Mark really liked the guy - he was funny, charming, cute, everything that Mark had always adored in people. As an out bisexual, he was allowed to think these things.
Jack grinned faintly and shook his head, resting it in his fingers. "Fockin' hell, Mark," he said exasperatedly. "You scared the shit outta me." He reached into his pocket and turned off his music.
Mark smiled apologetically. "Sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to."
Jack's grin grew. "Sure you didn't," he teased, and Mark laughed, Jack joining in. Mark loved the sound of Jack's laugh, of his voice in general. He had always been a sucker for Irish accents. “So what’s up?” Jack asked as their laughter died down.
Mark raised his eyebrows. “The bell just went, you realise?”
Jack’s eyes widened and he looked at his watch. “Fuck!” he said loudly, making the librarian look over in distaste. “Sorry,” Jack apologised, and Mark could tell he was trying not to roll his eyes. Jack had always blamed his swearing on his Irish-ness (“I was raised with it, it’s in me blood!”) and while Mark never minded, the teachers always berated him for it.
But now Jack was furiously packing his stuff away, chucking stuff in his pencilcase and shoving papers in books and books in folders.
“Thanks for tellin’ me, Mark,” Jack said. “I would’ve been shot where I stood if I was late.”
Mark grinned – they had the same class next, and their teacher was as strict as strict could possibly get. When Jack said that she’d shoot him, well, he probably wasn’t that far off.
“No worries,” Mark said, “now let’s go before we get detention.”
They walked out of the library (Mark mentally grumbling at how Jack was still taller than him) down the hall and towards their class, Mark realising that in Jack’s presence he’d forgotten that they would be doing an exam. He groaned again, and Jack looked over at him.
“What’s up?” Jack asked. “Exam stress?”
Mark nodded. “I am going to die if I fail this.” His ADHD didn’t really help his case, either.
Jack chuckled. “Calm down, ye silly,” he said. “If I can do it, anyone can, trust me.”
Mark sighed, and Jack laughed.
Mark noticed that Jack looked up and down the hallway, and Mark did the same – there wasn’t another person in sight. Then Jack did something Mark wasn’t expecting at all: he grabbed Mark’s arm, twisting him around, before leaning down and gently pulling their lips together.
Mark froze in shock for a moment, before leaning into the kiss – it was wonderful, even if it was only a few seconds before Jack pulled away.
Mark raised his eyebrows, and Jack winked. “For good luck,” he said, and Mark rolled his eyes.
“Thanks,” he said. “But now I’m not going to be able to concentrate at all.” He could still feel it, and his lips tingled slightly.
Jack laughed. “I’ll take that as a compliment. Now come on, ye goof, before we’re too late.”
So Mark allowed Jack to take his hand and pull him along to class.
Mark didn’t see Jack after class, and assumed that he’d just lost him in the crowd. So, as per usual, he packed his bag for the end of the day and started to walk home. But he saw someone leaning up against a tree outside the grounds, listening to music, and he grinned. He knew immediately that that was his favourite Irishman.
So, once again, he went up to him, and tapped him on the shoulder. Jack jumped again and when he saw who it was, he swore loudly.
“For fuck’s sake, Mark, would you stop doing that?” he said exasperatedly, running a hand through his hair and turning off his music.
Mark laughed. “Well, it’s not my fault you’re always facing the other way,” he shot back and Jack cracked a crooked grin, which was another thing that Mark liked about him. Once their laughter had settled, Mark asked, “So, what are you doing out here, Jack? You don’t usually walk out this way.”
Jack’s face reddened (adorably) and he looked away, suddenly seeming quite interested in the tree across the road. “Well,” he started uncertainly. “I was waiting for you. Am I allowed to do that?”
Mark smiled gently, his mind set. He reached up and turned Jack’s face towards him, put his hand on the back of Jack’s neck and pulled him into a kiss again. This time it was Jack’s turn to freeze, before responding in kind, gently brushing his fingertips over Mark’s cheek.
When the finally broke apart, Mark just stared into the blue of Jack’s eyes, admiring them.
Then he smiled. “If anyone can, you can,” he mumbled, and Jack touched their foreheads together.
The exam didn’t go too badly after all.