Chapter 8

Chenle & Mark: Not a Love Story

Everyone in the team was out for lunch except for Mark. He chose to stay in the room and continue with his work, like always, instead of taking his lunch.


“I said I am not going out for lunch,” Mark said when he heard the door open, thinking it was one of his team members. He wasn’t completely wrong. However, the man that entered wasn’t just any team member.


Mark looked up when he saw that a figure was already in front of him. “Mr. Zhong?”


“Why are you here instead of having your lunch?” But before Mark could answer, he grabbed the boy’s arm gently and asked him to have a seat. He placed on the table the bag he was holding and brought out lunchboxes.


“Here. This is your lunch,” he pushed one lunchbox to Mark, “and this is mine.”


“Starting today, we’ll have lunch together.” Before Mark could protest, Chenle added, “Even if that takes using my ‘I-am-your-boss’ card just to make you take your meals on time, then I’ll do it.” Mark can hear the determined voice of his boss. Then he smiled at him with that father-like smile. Mark knows inside him that he can never say no to that.


“Thank you Mr. Zhong. I greatly appreciate your kindness however, if you are doing this because of…” Mark stopped midway to rethink.


“Of what Mark?”


“of your romantic affection towards me then I’m afraid I cannot accept that. I am sorry.” Mark stood and bowed to Chenle.


“Romantic affection? Oh no Mark, you are getting this all wrong. No no.” Chenle found Mark’s concern very funny.




“I don’t think of you romantically. If we’re talking about affection, it’s more of me seeing my son in you.”


“You have a son Mr. Zhong?”


“Unfortunately I don’t. I don’t have any children. How could I when I don't even have a partner?" Chenle chuckled then continued, "but if I were to have one, I have this feeling he’s going to be similar to you.”


Mark returned to his seat curious, “why do you say so, Sir?”


“Well, first and foremost, you love basketball as much as I do. You’re competitive as I am. You’re also pretty introverted, if I may say. I guess, you remind me so much of my younger self which in turn made me realize, someone like you could be a pretty good son.”


Mark shyly thanked Chenle.


“I hope your parents don’t mind you having a ‘father-figure’ at work. I mean, if that’s okay with you?”


Mark breakout a huge smile while saying, “I think my mom wouldn't mind that.”


Chenle’s satisfied smile has never been brighter.





Jisung went to Chenle’s house for dinner. Chenle was pretty happy the whole day especially after gaining Mark’s approval of being his father-figure at work. He was ready to greet Jisung with the latter’s favorite food but Jisung doesn’t seem to be in the same happy vibes as him that day.


“Where were you at lunch Chenle Zhong?”


“Oh ! Jisung called me by my full name. He’s mad.” Chenle thought.


“I was at the project room with Mark. We had lunch together. What’s with the mad aura?”


“You had lunch with one of your employees alone?”


“Yeah. What’s wrong with that? We do that almost all the time and we are employees of NCT, technically speaking.” Chenle is getting more and more confused with how Jisung is acting in the past few days.


“That’s not my point Chenle!” Jisung’s voice is almost shouting. And Chenle hates it when Jisung is like this.


“Then what is?” Chenle’s voice became louder too, “Are you jealous of Mark or something?” He asked jokingly.


“What if I am?”




“Great to have you back Jeno,” the cousins exchanged some brotherly hugs.


Jeno entered the spare room he let Mark borrow. It was his first time going inside the newly occupied room. He was out of the country for the past months to visit his parents abroad. He was surprised to see that what was once an empty space was now filled with robots. But what got his attention the most was the brain-shaped one.


“Is that what you will be launching for your startup soon?” He asked Mark with eyes twinkling in admiration on the said robot brain.


“Yeah. Cool, isn’t it?” Jeno nodded while asking, “so what does it do?”

“It stores memories. So that nobody can forget anything again. Like my mother.” The last part he only thought to himself.


“That’s incredible Mark. So it’s like that uhmm, Pensieve in Harry Potter?”


“Yeah yeah, like that. The difference is that one doesn’t need to manually draw out memories anymore. You just have to connect this robot and this chip with your unique human code and you’re good to go.”


“Like a backup storage but for humans.”




“Man, that’s some big brain you got there Mark. I gotta admit, with this baby, you definitely have a chance to be at the top of the technology industry.”


“Thanks, Jeno. Alright, I gotta go back to making this baby work. We’ll be launching in less than a month.”


“I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for showing me what you do here,” Jeno went out of the room in awe of his own cousin.


“Big brain Mark? Huh. I gotta say, it’s more of big brain Chenle Zhong and Jisung Park. Thanks for hiring me at NCT.” Mark thought with a smirk on his face.

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