Canadian boy

Haechan is popular soccer captain, who is in love with Hana for nearly all his life. But when a new transfer student came and wins Hana's heart... Haechan decides that Mark is his new enemy. But, Haechan's heart doesn't seem to get that...

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5. Chapter 5

After practice people usually left the change rooms quickly. Exhausted, starving, and impatient for the weekend to begin, Haechan just stripped everything and changed into his school clothes, oblivious to Mark's presence. He said a vague bye to everyone, grabbed his bag, and left first. Mika was waiting outside in the hallway, either for her brother or for Renjun – probably the latter – and they exchanged nods, but that was it.

At home he showered and joined his family half-way through dinner, ate the green beans his little sister picked out, finished another lesson of his online English course, then crashed into bed.

Despite being exhausted, it took Haechan a while to fall asleep. Every time he closed his eyes he saw Mark – damn, that body – so he stared at the ceiling for a while, concentrating on the glow-in-the-dark stars he'd stuck up there when he was little. His eyelids started getting heavy, and he was about to pass out when his phone rang.

"Oh you've got to be kidding me." Sluggish, Haechan flung an arm over the side of his bed and groped the carpet for his cell phone, finding it and pulling it from the charger. He swore, looked at the caller ID – and all his anger dissipated. Sighing heavily, he resigned himself to a night of little sleep and accepted the call.

"Hey, Hana."

"Sorry, were you asleep?" Hana's voice was faint through the phone and he frowned, unable to tell if she was just calling to bother him or if something was up.

"Almost."

"Oh, sorry." There was a long pause, and eventually, Haechan sighed.

"It's okay. What's up?"

"Um… I don't want to bother you."

Haechan raised an eyebrow at his stars. "A little too late saying that, isn't it?"

"…I'm really sorry."

"I'm just kidding." Haechan rolled over and looked out the window. Across the street, the light in Hana's room was on. "Tell me what's up."

"Okay… did you talk to Jeno today?"

"Yeah, we had long block together." Haechan felt his brows knit together. "Why? He's still bothering you?"

"I wouldn't call it bothering anymore." Across the street, the light turned off, then flickered back on.

Haechan chuckled. "What are you doing with those lights, Hana?" He heard a giggle on the other side and smiled, wrapping himself in the bed sheets. "I'm afraid I don't understand morse code." He whispered.

Hana giggled. "It's an SOS."

"Really?"

"No dummy, I just dropped something. Had to turn on the lights to see it." There was a pause, then an audible sigh. "I ran into Jeno today at the supermarket."

"Uh-huh?" Haechan said, letting her know he was listening.

"He was following me around the whole time. I mean, we talked and that was nice, but he started saying weird stuff."

"Define 'weird'," Haechan said warily.

"…He said stuff about you…" There was a long pause, and Haechan waited with his breath held. Eventually, Hana said quietly, "He said you told him that you like me."

Shit, shit, shit.   Haechan sucked in a breath, then forced himself to laugh. "Really? When did that happen?"

"I… I don't know, Haechan, I mean, now that I think about it, everybody's been saying it…" Hana said hesitantly.

Damn him, damn…   Haechan sat up, wide awake now. "Look –"

"We're really good friends, right?" Hana interrupted.

Haechan swallowed, feeling a painful lump go down. "Yeah. Of course, we are."

"Is this why you don't like Mark?"

"What are you talking about? We're good friends, aren't we?" Haechan stammered. "You aren't seriously going to believe Jeno, are you? Come on, if it were true I would have told you myself. I tell you everything!"

There was a long, long pause. Haechan felt the urge to go to the bathroom, and he willed Hana to hurry up.

"Yeah, you're right. I'm sorry, it was just bothering me, and…"

"No problem." Haechan sighed in relief. "So we're all good?"

There was another hesitant pause.

"Okay Hana, because I made you worry, I'll give you a present." Haechan said, heart racing as he looked at his stars for ideas. "Uh, I'll set you and Mark up on a date. Okay?"

"Really?" Hana's response was immediate – she sounded ecstatic, and for a moment Haechan was happy too. But then he realized what he'd just said and punched himself inside.

"Yeah, I'll see what I can do." He forced himself to say. "Look Hana, I'm tired…"

"Oh, yeah, of course." Hana's voice hushed. "Sorry for waking you, Haechan."

"It's okay."

"Good night."

"Good night, Hana. Sweet dreams."

There was a beep as Hana hung up and Haechan dropped his phone on the ground with a sigh. He slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom – then returned and collapsed face-first on the mattress. All at once the day's exhaustion washed over him, and in a matter of seconds he was asleep.

..................................

 

The first thing he became aware of Saturday morning was the bright light shining into his face. Groaning, Haechan rolled away from the window and grimaced as he felt stickiness – then he realized he was covered in sweat, and that it was burning hot in his cotton pajamas. Grumbling irritably, he reached a hand into his shirt and lifted it up, struggling to sluggishly pull it over his head. He ended up stuck in an awkward elbow-lock with his clothes, and by the time he freed himself he was totally awake.

Ugh.   Haechan sat up and gazed half-lidded at the sheets. Dazed, he felt his stomach growl and realized that the warm air smelled sweet and buttery. His stomach growled again.

Okay, okay…

Haechan sat in bed for another minute, tempted to just fall back onto his pillow. He scratched his head and rubbed his face, then sighed and slid off, promptly stepping on his cell phone.

"Ow…"

He stumbled his way to the bathroom, where he used the toilet and brushed his teeth and washed his face. A little more awake, Haechan went back to his room and looked through the window, peering up at the cloudless blue sky. After a moment's thought, he went and changed into white shorts and his favorite navy-blue short-sleeve hoodie. He grabbed his cell phone and keys, took a deep breath, and walked out into the hallway.

"Mommy I want some cookies too!"

Wincing as his little sister's yelling immediately pierced his ears, Haechan jogged down the stairs and was overcome with a huge yawn as he walked into the kitchen.

"Morning Haechan." His mother said breathlessly as she ran around retrieving her keys from the countertop, then her bag from the sofa.

"Morning Mom." Haechan peered behind him and saw daylight streaming into the laundry room – the garage door was open, and judging by his mother's shorts and her untied, curled brown hair, his parents were probably out on a date.

"You can have one cookie, Haneul."

"Why can't I eat all the cookies?!" His sister stomped on the hardwood floor, tears bubbling up in her eyes as she crossed her clenched fists across her chest.

"They're for the neighbors, honey. Oh, Haechan, we have new neighbors, could you go and deliver the cookies to them?" His mother grabbed his arm and kissed him on the cheek.

"Sure, Mom."

"And make sure you don't leave Haneul alone, got it?" His mom knelt down and gave the angry girl a squeeze, then kissed her on the forehead and rushed out the garage door. "We'll be back by nine, call us if there's any trouble!"

Haechan sighed. "Yes, Mom." He said dryly. He waited until the garage door closed, then turned and gave Haneul a glare.

Haneul glared back, lower lip jutted out in a pout. "I want a cookie."

Haechan gave her a stern look, then smiled and looked at the tray of freshly baked chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies. "Actually, me too."

Haneul burst out into a giggle. "Mommy makes good cookies!"

"Shh," Haechan held a hand up to his lips and looked around exaggeratedly. "Let's sneak two cookies for ourselves for breakfast, then bring the rest to the neighbors, okay?"

Haneul grinned. "Okey dokies!"

"Go wash your hands first," Haechan said, shooing her off. She ran in the direction of the bathroom, little feet thumping against the floorboards, and he leaned back against the counter in relief.

Man, this is gonna be a long day…

The cookies were delicious, and though he was guilty for wanting to take five more for himself, he and Haneul had one each. Then he packed the cookies in a plastic container, checked that Haneul wasn't in her pajamas, and headed out the front door.

Tat which point he realized that his mom hadn't bothered mentioning where the neighbors lived. Annoyed, Haechan was just about to go inside and eat the cookies himself when he remembered that the house on their right had just been sold – must be it. He held the warm container of cookies in one hand and reached down with the other hand.

"Hold my hand."

"I'm not a baby!" Haneul snapped, slapping his hand with a giggle and shying away.

"Fine, but stay off the streets," Haechan said, not in the mood to be anal about the rules. He followed his sister to the house next door, calling for her to wait for him before ringing the doorbell because he had the cookies.

The house was similar to his. It was average sized, with a nice lawn and a nice shady green exterior that Haechan had always been jealous of (theirs was an ugly peach…) He looked at the window above the garage, which was where he and Hana had their rooms, and saw several ornaments hanging from the curtains. Pausing, he squinted and realized they were dream-catchers.

Huh. Sounds like a weird bunch.

Realizing that his sister was shouting his name, Haechan jogged up to the door and told her to be quiet or they'd ruin the surprise. She shushed, and he rang the doorbell after reminding himself to smile.

They could hear the deep chiming of the bell even from outside. It was silent for a while, then there was a smatter of quick footsteps and Haechan took a step back, pulling Haneul with him as the door was flung back.

"Who's there?!" A young girl with short fluffy reddish-brown hair hollered. Her skin was pale and made her baggy brown shorts and t-shirt look dark. Haechan stared at her in alarm, wondering why she looked so familiar as she stood back and gave them a big grin. "Who are you?"

Haechan struggled to find his voice. "Uh…"

"We brought cookies!" Haneul said excitedly, pulling away from him. "We're neighbors, can I come play?"

The girl's eyes lit up. "Cookies –"

"Timmy, you're not supposed to open the door for strangers!" A voice called. Haechan's blinked, shocked – that's not a girl? – but then he recognized the voice, and felt himself freeze over as a familiar figure ran down the stairs and came into view.

"Oh." Mark halted at the base of the staircase, surprise lighting his eyes. They stared incredulously at each other, and Haechan couldn't help but marvel at how utterly hot Mark looked in his brown tank top and camouflage shorts.

"Why not? They brought cookies." Timmy pointed at the box in Haechan's hands, and Mark's eyes flickered down to look.

"We're neighbors." Haneul piped up.

"Oh… yeah." Haechan stammered, regaining his voice first. "Uh, welcome." He smiled sheepishly and held out the cookies. "My mom baked some cookies for you guys."

"T…Thanks…" Mark said, sounding equally as speechless as he came forward and accepted them. He gazed at Haechan for a while and Haechan felt his face heat up.

"Uh, we should go –" Haechan said dodgedly, looking away.

"I want to play!" Haneul whined. "I want to play!"

"Ah – haha." Mark choked out a laugh and opened the door wider. "You guys can come in."

Oh, please, no.   "I wouldn't want to be a hassle." Haechan said with a tight smile, grabbing his sister. But she pulled away and ran right inside, to his extreme annoyance. "Haneul, get back here right now!" He yelled, about to run after her when he remembered he'd have to step inside the house to do that. Sighing, he gave Mark a helpless look.

Mark shrugged and smiled. "Might as well." He said, jerking his head in a come gesture.

"Alright… sorry for the trouble." Resignedly, Haechan stepped inside, and as Mark closed the door, his stomach growled.

Laughing, Mark led him into the kitchen. "How about helping us finish those cookies, huh Haechan?"

Flushing, Haechan rubbed his stomach. "Yes please." He said, reminding himself there was nothing to be anxious about. He was just visiting a classmate's house. No big deal. No big deal at all… hell. Haechan blinked and turned his eyes away from Mark's lean, muscular shoulders, landing instead on a pile of half-filled boxes in the dining room.

"Sorry about the mess, we aren't finished packing," Mark said apologetically, grabbing a couple cookies and taking a bite out of one. "Oh, these are good." He sighed contently and closed his eyes in bliss, and Haechan felt a shiver run down his spine.

He looked around for a possible excuse to leave, but his mind was racing and before he could think of something, Mark called their siblings in. They came running with squealing laughter, grabbing at the cookies in delight, and as Haneul offered him a cookie in a rare gesture of kindness, Haechan forgot about his nervousness in the buttery goodness of the dough.

"Anybody want milk?" Mark asked as they crowded around the kitchen counter.

"I do!" Haneul and Timmy chimed, and Haechan shrugged.

"Sure, I guess."

"Food is the only thing we have organized right now." Mark laughed as he brought out the milk and hunted through several boxes for cups.

"I can help you unpack." Haechan offered, watching Mark unwrap several glass cups. He washed them, then brought them to the counter.

"Would you?" Mark asked enthusiastically.

"Well, it looks like I'm going to be here for a while anyway," Haechan said dryly, as the two little kids drained their cups and ran off yelling like pirates.

"That'd be great. Honestly." Mark grinned, took all the empty cups to the sink, and rinsed them quickly. Then he turned and lifted a box from the kitchen floor, placing it onto the counter with a huff. "Let's do the kitchen stuff first since it's kind-of important."

"Sure," Haechan said, peering into the box curiously. "You'll have to tell me where everything goes, though."

"It's no big deal." Mark chuckled. "I don't really know, either."

"Well…" Haechan watched Mark pull out a package of what looked like plates wrapped in newspaper, and reached in for a similar package. "How about plates in those shelves?" He suggested.

"I don't see why not." Mark shrugged.

"Cause that's where we put ours," Haechan admitted with a laugh.

"Oh, yeah, our houses look similar don't they?" Mark said.

"Same company, that's why." Haechan contented himself to unwrapping the individual plates while Mark moved them to the cupboards. "Hana lives across the street, too." He added.

"Oh." A small frown came over Mark's face. "Childhood friends, huh?" He said, a little wistfully.

Haechan gave him a side-ways glance. "Was there someone you left behind in Canada? A girlfriend or something?" He said casually.

Mark's laugh was short and choppy. "I wish. No, my girlfriend broke up when she left for university in U.S.A."

Haechan raised an eyebrow. "How old is she?"

"Now?" Mark shifted the plates over a little, avoiding his gaze. "She'll be turning twenty this year."

"Right, you're a year older than us," Haechan remembered, shaking off his surprise. Well if he's this good-looking, he's bound to have had a couple girlfriends.

"Yeah, I was held back a year in grade three because my parents went on a world tour. I'm seventeen." Mark shrugged. "Where do you guys put your bowls?"

"Beside the dishes." Haechan reached for the wrapped round things as Mark did the same thing. Their hands brushed again and he felt a tingle, but he shook it off and pulled them out of the box, unwrapping them. It was silent for a while and he looked up to see Mark gazing at him a little hazily. Unnerved, Haechan slid the unwrapped bowls across the counter to him. "A world tour, huh? That's pretty awesome. Where did you guys go?"

Mark seemed to start as the bowls collided into him. "Oh, everywhere." He said vaguely as he turned to put them away. "England, France, Germany, Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, Australia… We stopped by a couple other places along the way."

Haechan shook his head in awe. "That's crazy. And you said your parents were in the U.S.A, right? Even after they just moved?"

Mark laughed. "I know, right. They can't get enough of traveling. They'll be gone for another week and a half, they're staying in a couple different resorts. They didn't want me and Timmy to miss school."

"Timmy's your… brother, right?" Haechan said, sheepish as Mark gave him a knowing grin.

"Yeah, I know, he has a girly face and his hair's getting long. He takes after my mom."

"You guys look alike, though."

Mark raised an eyebrow. "Really? I'm more of a mix between my dad and mom."

"Well, yeah…" Haechan trailed off, thinking it wouldn't be necessary to say that Mark didn't look like a girl.

"Let me guess, you take after your mom?"

"Are you saying I look like a girl?" Haechan said in mock anger.

Mark turned away with a curious little smile. "No, you're just cute."

"Hey now," Haechan said, pretending to be bothered. "Yeah, I've heard that before." He admitted with a laugh.

"Do you think it's a bad thing?" Mark's voice was suddenly serious.

"Well… no." Haechan said, looking down as he unwrapped the paper around a square object. "Now this is cute." He grinned as Mark turned around, looking surprised.

"What? Oh, that." Mark's face turned a little red. "That was a long time ago, in New Zealand." He reached for it but Haechan jerked his hand away, smirking. Mark frowned. "What are you doing? Give it back."

"Why can't I look at it a little longer?" Haechan teased.

"Cause!" Mark growled, clambering around the counter. Haechan laughed delightedly as he dodged and ran down the hall with Mark close behind. He skidded around a corner and circled back to the kitchen, then turned to see how close Mark was and was promptly knocked flat into the wall.

"Gotcha." Mark huffed with a grin, pressing his forehead against Haechan's as he wrestled the picture from the boy's hands. But before Haechan could freak out about their proximity, Mark backed off and placed the picture on the counter. "You're pretty fast, despite your looks."

Recovering, Haechan released a breath and ruffled his hair. "Well, I am captain for a reason. You're fast too." He added, a little grudgingly.

"I have to be." Mark shrugged, and without elaborating he turned and gave Haechan a smile. "Hey, tell me about yourself."

"Huh?" Haechan looked around, half-expecting someone else to be behind him, but of course, there was nobody there. "Me?"

"Well, yeah. I told you lots already." Mark said. "It's your turn."

"You didn't tell me lots," Haechan objected.

Mark laughed. "Okay, let's unpack the rest of the boxes and we can play a game while we're at it."

"A game?" Haechan said suspiciously, settling back to their routine as he took out another bulky parcel from the box on the counter.

"A question game." Mark said. "Don't worry, I won't ask anything sketchy." He chuckled when he saw Haechan's guarded expression. "It's just to get to know each other better. I mean, we're teammates and neighbors, we might as well become good friends, right?"

"Yeah, good friends." Haechan echoed, wondering why he repeated what Mark had said.

"I'll go first." Mark declared. "Where are your parents?"

"Oh, they went out," Haechan said an exercised response that slipped out without him even needing to think. "They like to go out a lot, kinda like your parents but not as extreme I guess."

"So they aren't home," Mark observed as he pushed some ornamental plates onto the topmost shelf. Haechan stared at his back, eyes unconsciously wandering to his stretched, muscular arm.

"Do you work out?" He blurted out.

Mark turned around, raising an eyebrow. "A little, last year… why?" He smiled, a little smugly, and Haechan quickly put on an unperturbed façade.

"You look like you work out." He said simply. "I mean, all I have is soccer, so I'm pretty thin."

"I helped my uncle with work since I was little. I guess that's how I ended up like this." Mark rubbed his arm and shrugged. "But you're lithe, Haechan. I like that."

Haechan felt his eyebrows shoot up and ducked behind the box in case he was blushing. He patted his face, reassured himself he was fine and resurfaced. "Okay, your turn."

Mark gave him an odd look, then his eyes lit up and he laughed. "Oh yeah, I forgot we were playing. See? – it becomes a normal conversation after a while."

"Yeah," Haechan realized. Upstairs, there was a loud thump and burst of high-pitched laughter. They paused, listening, then grinned at each other and chuckled.

"Thanks for your help, Haechan." Mark said softly, his gaze suddenly serious.

Haechan felt his smile freeze a little and he glanced away. "Uh, yeah, no problem." He said brightly. "Oh hey, this is the last package…"

"Really?" Mark said, letting him change the topic easily. "Great, let's do the living room next!"

Haechan groaned, and Mark laughed.

"That is, if you want to…"

"Yeah, no problem. I mean, my sister sounds like she's having a blast." Haechan sighed as more laughter sounded from above. "Doesn't seem like I'll be leaving anytime soon…"

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