A/N I've been bitten by the Mark/Jackson bug. Holy crap I just CAN'T get enough of these two. This picks up during Jackson's boards but he does not sleep with April and Mark is not in love with Lexie. Nor is he with Julia.
It was bad enough that his mother was testing someone in the next room, but these oral boards felt much more like an interrogation than an actual exam. Jackson was exhausted and all he wanted to do was run. Just run out of this room and never look back, but he couldn't. He couldn't let Mark down. The two of them were…well they were something. Jackson didn't want to label it. All he knew was that they really liked each other. The best part of any day was seeing Mark. Even if he couldn't see him, just a quick text was all he needed.
He couldn't wait to get out of there. He needed to speak to Mark or he was going to lose his mind. He needed to know that Mark wasn't going to stop liking him if he failed his boards. When he was finally excused, Jackson practically fled the room. He planned on going straight to the hotel room and calling Mark. He couldn't remember if Mark had a surgery today and if he did, Jackson would only get his voicemail. Jackson guessed that was better than nothing at all.
The second he got to his room, he closed and locked the door. He didn't need any of his fellow residents finding out that he was seeing Mark. Neither man was ready to go public with their relationship yet. His heart was racing as he held the phone up to his ear. He was desperate to talk to Mark. His heart sank when Mark's voicemail picked up. After he heard Mark's voice on the voicemail system and the beep sounded, Jackson struggled to put into words how he was feeling.
It's me. It was a disaster and all I wanted after this hellish day is to hear your voice and you aren't even picking up. I miss you. Dammit Mark I need you. Please call me when you get out of that surgery.
This weekend being away from Mark was torture. He missed Mark more than he ever thought possible. He missed being on his cases. He missed his kisses and his gentleness. Jackson decided to send him a quick text. Maybe he was being a bit stalkerish but he really didn't care right now. He needed Mark in much more than an intimate way.
Today was hell on me and I miss you.
Meanwhile in Seattle Mark was doing some skin grafts on a patient who had been burned in a house fire eighteen months ago. His thoughts were on Jackson though. He missed Jackson more than he had ever missed anyone before. Jackson had wormed his way into Mark's heart and Mark was happiest when he was around Jackson. He wished he had been able to go with Jackson this weekend, but he knew that he wouldn't have been able to do that without arousing suspicion.
As soon as Mark got out of surgery he grabbed his phone. There was a text and a voicemail from Jackson. Thank God he called Mark. Mark was going nuts with not hearing his voice. As soon as Mark told the family that things had gone well with their daughter's surgery, he went into his office. He didn't remember his boards that well but he could sense the panic in Jackson's voice and he couldn't press the number 2 fast enough. Jackson was number 2 on his speed dial.
Jackson had been pacing back and forth all over his room for the past thirty minutes. He needed to hear that slightly husky voice on the other side of the phone. Finally his phone rang and he nearly tripped over himself to get to his phone.
"Hi babe." Mark 's voice greeted him.
"Mark, I don't think I can do this." Jackson told him. He was close to tears now. Both from relief and frustration.
"Yes you can. Just two more rounds and then you'll be back here with me." Mark told him gently. He hated hearing that tone in Jackson's voice. More than anything Mark wished he could pull Jackson in his arms and hold him.
"Would you still care about me if I failed?" Jackson asked softly.
"You know I would. Is it really that bad?" Mark felt awful for his boyfriend. Jackson was miserable and he wished he could be holding Jackson's hand right now.
"My mother is testing someone in the next room and every time I hear her I lose me train of thought." Jackson admitted quietly.
"Think of me then. Think of me kissing you, holding you and loving you." Mark told him quietly. Up until then they hadn't said the L word to each other yet.
"You love me." Jackson stated. It was all so unexpected and truthfully Mark's confession scared him.
"God, is it too early to say that? I'm sorry babe." Mark quickly apologized. He was totally embarrassed at how soon he had confessed his deepening feelings for his resident.
"No it's not. I love you too." Jackson murmured. He was embarrassed now. Jackson had never expected to feel this way about Mark. When he had realized he was in love with Mark, it had taken nearly a week for him to be really okay with that.
"I miss you." Mark told Jackson, his voice low and husky. Damn, Jackson wondered how the hell did Mark always know what voice to use with him. That low husky voice of his was enough to turn Jackson on and unfortunately Mark wasn't even here with him tonight.
"I miss you too." Jackson whispered. God being away from Mark was much harder than Jackson had ever expected it to be.
"Just a few more days." Mark reminded him gently.
"I wish you were here." Jackson murmured. He had never showed anyone so much vulnerability before. Showing it to Mark was scary.
"I know. Me too." Mark finally choked out. He didn't understand how it was possible to miss Jackson so desperately after such a short time away.
"I should go. The residents are meeting at a bar." Jackson told Mark sadly. He didn't want to go but he knew that if he didn't go it would arouse suspicion.
"Go." Mark told him softly.
"Goodbye." Jackson replied. Just the thought of not being with Mark again tonight was gut wrenching. Not being able to tell anyone only made it worse.
"Goodbye babe." Mark told him before he hung up the phone. He needed to keep himself busy for the next few days. He needed to get ready to tell people too. He didn't want to keep hiding how much he loved Jackson. He knew that there would be some people who wouldn't understand but love was love and Mark was done hiding.
The next morning all the residents had to be ready for their second round of exams. The first day had been hell but they had no doubt that things would get so much worse today. Just before Jackson went into the testing room he pulled out his phone one last time. There was a text waiting. Jackson beamed, knowing exactly who it was from.
Knock 'em dead.
Jackson walked into the room having more confidence in himself. The man he loved believed in him and that was all Jackson needed. Yes it was distracting to have his mother testing someone in the next room, but this time Jackson had something else to focus on. He had his future with Mark to focus on. He had to believe that he and Mark would make it. Thinking anything else would only make his concentration harder.
Back in Seattle Mark was wondering how he would get through the day without hearing from Jackson. He knew they got a lunch but he also knew that Jackson would do lunch with his friends and would likely be unable to escape to give him a call. Today was promising to be both the longest and most boring shift he had ever experienced as a doctor. He found himself actually hoping for a trauma. Maybe then he could get Jackson off of his mind.
Jackson was glad that it was lunch break, but he wished he could get away for a few minutes to call Mark and check in. Instead he had April, Alex, Cristina and Meredith insisting he eat something even though Meredith could barely keep anything down because of the damn stomach flu. Stupidly he left his phone on the table when he put his wallet away and before he could grab his phone off the table, Cristina grabbed it. Jackson's pulse was racing. He was convinced that Cristina was about to discover his secret. The minute she read his last text message from Mark aloud, Jackson froze.
"Who's the girl?" Cristina asked.
"Is she hot?" Alex demanded.
"When do you have time to meet girls? Let alone fall in love with them?" April demanded.
"Is it someone at the hospital?" Meredith demanded.
"It's no one. Just someone I've been seeing for awhile." Jackson lied. He wanted nothing more than to come clean with his fellow residents but he didn't want to do it without first talking to Mark.
"Whatever, come on we have to head back now." Cristina told them, shoveling the rest of her sandwich down and standing up.
The afternoon exam session was every bit as hard and lengthy as the morning was. Jackson was relieved to get out of there when he was done for the day. He couldn't wait to hear Mark's voice on the phone. He smiled when he turned his phone back on and he had a waiting voicemail and text from his boyfriend. Mark had this power to make Jackson feel a hundred times better just by seeing his code name on the screen. They were doing code names until they decided to let the rest of the hospital know that they were seeing each other. Jackson read the text first, knowing that Mark had sent this probably after he had gone back in for the afternoon session.
Thinking about you babe and wishing I could be with you.
Then Jackson turned to the voicemail. He realized that Mark had left this voicemail only ten minutes earlier.
Babe, I miss you. I hope you are knocking these boards out of the park. Call me when you can. Love you.
Like the previous night the only thing that was on Jackson's mind was getting to his room so he could call Mark. This time he wouldn't be interrupted because the residents had all decided that they needed to go to sleep early tonight to prepare for what was likely to be the hardest oral exam of the entire weekend. Jackson barely remembered hurrying down the hall to his hotel room. He got in the room in a matter of minutes and locked the door. He pulled out his phone and hit the number was number one on his speed dial. His mother had been demoted to number 2 when Jackson had started seeing Mark.
The phone seemed to ring forever before Mark picked up the phone. Jackson sighed a huge sigh of relief that he would not have to leave a message. He didn't think he could stand playing phone tag all day with Mark.
"Hi." Jackson said into the phone.
"How is my soon to be board certified boyfriend?" Mark asked. Jackson could swear he could hear Mark smirking into the phone.
"Tired and missing his incredibly sexy boyfriend." Jackson admitted as he leaned against the pillows of his bed.
"You are coming home after the final day of exams tomorrow, right?" Mark asked. God he hoped that Jackson was returning tomorrow.
"My plane gets in at ten pm." Jackson told Mark. Jackson had made sure to get on a later flight than the other residents so that Mark could come pick him up. There was no way Jackson could wait until he got to Mark's apartment to see him.
"I'll be there." Mark promised.
"Today was hard. Oh and then Cristina happened to read your text at lunch." Jackson told Mark. Mark froze in place when Jackson spoke. He didn't think he had broken their code in that last text that he had sent Jackson this morning.
"She didn't figure anything out." Jackson rushed to add. He could almost heart Mark's relieved exhale on the other end.
"I miss you." Mark told him. Mark couldn't wait until this weekend was over. It was truly the hardest weekend of his personal life.
"Tomorrow I'll be home." Jackson reminded him.
"And then you'll stay over tomorrow night, right?" Mark asked. He didn't think he could be separated from Jackson tomorrow night.
"I think I could be persuaded." Jackson teased playfully. There was no way in hell he was staying anywhere but at Mark's tomorrow night.
"I've been told I'm awful good at persuasion." Mark teased back.
"You are. Oh yes you are." Jackson confirmed.
"Any plans with the residents tonight?" Mark asked.
"No we decided that it was probably best if we went to sleep early because tomorrow is going to be absolute hell." Jackson told Mark.
"You know that I'll still love you even if you fail, but you won't fail." Mark reminded Jackson.
"I don't want to let you down." Jackson's voice was low as he muttered this truth.
"You won't. Now I have a date with my daughter while Callie and Arizona go on a date." Mark told Jackson. Of course he didn't want to get off the phone with Jackson but he also didn't want Callie and Arizona to overhear what he was saying and to who.
"I love you." Jackson whispered.
"I love you too. See you tomorrow." Mark told Jackson. Jackson could swear that he heard Mark grinning through the telephone. He had just one more night without Mark. This time tomorrow night, Jackson would be on a plane back to Seattle.
Jackson slept fitfully that night. He kept waking up and then falling back asleep. All in all he guessed he had gotten about two hours of sleep that night. He was used to sleepless nights, but he knew that having one just before the hardest part of his boards was probably not a great idea. Instead of joining the others for breakfast before the exams, he stayed in his room eating a banana and texting Mark. Jackson guessed that he didn't have a surgery this morning or maybe it just wasn't a really early one.
You've got this. Just breathe.
Jackson wasn't used to anyone having so much confidence in him. His mother sure never did. He knew that coming out to his mother would not go well. He was secretly thinking that he just never would tell her that he was in to guys. Well into one guy in particular.
I'm scared. I don't want to let you down.
Mark felt bad for his boyfriend. He had already told Jackson that he would never let Mark down. Mark sensed Jackson's fear and panic and he wished he could be there to reassure him and comfort him.
You won't. Now go knock 'em dead.
Jackson loved knowing that Mark had so much confidence in him. Yes it scared him. Yes he was even more afraid of letting Mark down. No matter what he had Mark. Mark had reassured him countless times that his feelings for Jackson wouldn't go away if he failed the boards.
Jackson took a deep breath and headed into day 3 of oral exams. His only thought was that tonight he would be back in Mark's strong arms. When he stepped out of the room for lunch he was bombarded by Cristina, Meredith, Alex and April. They all looked unbelievably exhausted, but that didn't stop the questions from flying.
"So who is she?" April demanded.
"When were you going to tell us you were seeing someone?" Meredith asked.
"It's no one's business." Jackson explained curtly.
"Dude are you a flamer?" Alex asked. Yes Alex could always be counted on to be crass. Jackson bit his tongue to keep from snapping at him.
"I thought you were still in to Lexie." Meredith asked. She sure as hell didn't want her sister to deal with another broken heart.
"Just shut up already." Jackson snapped. He turned his back to them and walked off in the direction of the bathrooms.
"Going to call your girlfriend?" April called after him. She was highly annoyed that Jackson hadn't told her he was seeing someone. She had thought they were best friends.
"Or boyfriend." Alex muttered under his breath. Jackson had heard him and he nearly turned around and punched Alex, but he kept walking. He doubted he would have enough time to call Mark, but he could text him before he went back in for the final portion of his boards.
I miss you. Oh and Alex Karev is a douchebag.
See you soon,
Mark was just coming out of surgery when his phone chimed. He checked it and read Jackson's message and his heart ached. He guessed Alex had figured something out or said something homophobic. He wished he could have been there to punch Alex's head in. He had to go into a staff meeting so he shot off a quick text to Jackson before he went in to the meeting.
Don't worry about Alex or anyone else. Just focus on your boards and on us.
Jackson was actually glad to go back into the testing room. He needed to get his mind off Alex's offhand comment. He had to keep reminding himself that there was no way that Alex could know anything about what was going on between Mark and Jackson. Mark and Jackson had worked very hard to cover their tracks. Of course that meant no flirting at work which Jackson suspected was harder for Mark than it was for him.
He needed to focus on medicine. He could do that for the next few hours. By the time that the testing was over, Jackson was completely exhausted. He had kept hearing Mark's voice in the back of his head as he answered the questions. Mark had helped him a lot with the preparations over the past three months. He had drilled Jackson in all sorts of surgical options and complications that pertained to Plastic Surgery.
When he was done, Jackson left the room at almost the same time Meredith walked out of her testing room. Jackson noticed that Meredith looked as worn out as he felt. He guessed that it had to do with the fact that she was still dealing with the stomach flu.
"I already know Jackson. He's my husband's best friend for God's sake." Meredith told him, her voice low so as not to attract attention. Jackson froze and then swallowed hard. He had forgotten that Mark had a long history with Derek.
"How long have you known?" Jackson asked, making sure he kept his voice low.
"Since we started our interviews at other hospitals." Meredith informed him. She hadn't told Derek only because she thought Mark should be the one to tell Derek.
"Don't…Just don't say anything to anyone yet." Jackson told her. He was pleading with her to keep her mouth shut until he and Mark could make the decision together.
"I won't. The reason you're taking a later flight is because of him isn't it?" Meredith guessed. He had told the other residents that he would be catching a later flight so he could have dinner with his mother. Even he knew that was a weak excuse.
"Yes, he wanted to meet my plane." Jackson told Meredith. Meredith smiled. She knew how it felt to be away from someone you cared about.
"You two are good for each other." Meredith told him with a smile. She didn't care that Mark and Jackson were gay. They were still her friends and she knew that Derek would feel the exact same way.
"Thank you. Now go call that husband of yours." Jackson told her. Meredith smiled again. She knew that he was desperate to talk to Mark and that he didn't want her hearing whatever he had to say to Mark. She stood up and headed down the hallway in the direction of a bar. She needed a drink after this weekend.
As soon as Meredith was gone, Jackson pulled out his cell phone and true to form there was a text and a voicemail waiting for him.
Just six more hours babe,
I love you and miss you
Jackson was still smiling as he checked his voicemails next. He had one from his mother which he skipped and then he had one from Mark.
Hey, it's just me. Call me or text me when you finish. We need to talk.
Jackson froze in the hallways when he heard Mark's voice tell him that they needed to talk, He knew that nothing good could come out of that. When he got to his room, he pressed the number one on his phone. Thankfully Mark picked it up after the second ring.
"I can't keep this a secret anymore babe. I don't want to hide how I feel about you from anyone." Mark told Jackson. Keeping this secret from everyone was really starting to wear on him.
"Meredith knows. I didn't tell her. She just said that she knows and that she won't tell anyone." Jackson told Mark.
"Tomorrow we'll come clean with everyone." Mark told Jackson. Jackson smiled nervously into the phone. He knew it was going to be a good thing, but he couldn't help but be a little anxious about it.
"I have to go pack and then head to the airport." Jackson murmured.
"Just five more hours and then you'll be in Seattle." Mark reminded him.
"Thank God." Jackson murmured. He was desperate to get back to Seattle. He needed Mark. Not in just an intimate way. Jackson just needed him.
It seemed like days had passed between the time Mark and Jackson had hung up and the time the plane finally touched down in Seattle. Jackson was so anxious to see him. He couldn't wait to feel Mark's lips on his, Mark's arms wrapped around him lovingly. When he disembarked the plane, his heart was pounding so loudly, Jackson was sure that every other person could hear it. He weaved his way through the crowds and suddenly the crowds parted. Mark was standing there, his hands in his jean pockets. Jackson noted that Mark was wearing the black t-shirt that he had worn on their first actual date.
"Jackson." Mark called. Jackson dropped his duffle bag and ran straight to Mark. Mark took his hands out of his pockets and pulled Jackson into his arms. Both men let out a shuddering breath. They were here together. The weekend from hell was over. Mark pressed his lips to Jackson's forehead and breathed a sigh of relief that Jackson was back in Seattle and in his arms where he belonged.
"Mark." Jackson whispered against the other man's neck.
"Yeah?" Mark murmured.
"I love you." Jackson murmured back.
"I love you too." Mark reassured Jackson. Never in a million years did Mark ever think he would fall in love with a man. Jackson had stolen his heart so completely and Mark wanted forever with this man. Finally Jackson lifted his face and brushed his lips across Mark's lips. Yes, this is what he had needed all weekend. Mark's arms around him and his kisses. Finally Mark pulled away. He needed to do something else. Something to prove that Jackson was the one for him no matter the results of the boards.
He got down on one knee and took Jackson's hand in his. Jackson was still standing and he was dumbfounded. Was Mark really doing what he thought he was doing? After three months was Mark Sloan actually proposing to him?
"I never thought I'd fall in love, but I did. I fell in love with you. You make me a better man every single day and all I want is to spend the rest of our lives together. Will you marry me?" Mark asked Jackson as he pulled out a box with a simple white gold band in it.
Jackson had had no idea that Mark was even planning this surprise for when he got home from the boards. He looked down at Mark and at the ring. He could feel his hands shaking as he nodded his head.
"Yes. Yes I will marry you." Jackson whispered. He swore he could feel tears on the tips of his eyelashes, but they didn't fall. He noticed that when Mark put on the ring, Mark's hand was shaking so bad and he had to stop for a few seconds. Mark stood up and pulled Jackson back into his arms and he lowered his lips slightly to meet Jackson's. He kissed Jackson long and hard.
"Let's go home." Mark murmured against his fiancee's lips.
"Yes." Jackson whispered. When they parted, Mark took Jackson's duffle bag and he wrapped his other arm around his fiancee's waist. It wasn't until they reached the car that Mark kissed him again. His lips locked onto Jackson's as he pushed him gently against the car door.
"Let's go home." Jackson murmured against Mark's lips. It was obvious that Jackson would be moving into Mark's apartment. Neither of them wanted to start their life together living in Meredith's house.
"Yeah." Mark murmured against Jackson's lips. He sure didn't feel like stopping kissing Jackson right now. Jackson was still smiling as he pulled away from Mark's lips. He didn't want to stop kissing him either but he didn't want to do it here.
"Mark." Jackson warned. Mark sighed and let Jackson go around to the passenger side of the car. Tonight Mark had every plan to kiss Jackson until his lips were numb. He couldn't wait to get back to his apartment with Jackson. They would be able to be alone for the first time in three days. Neither of them could wait until they could start their lives together. They knew they wouldn't be able to get legally married, but neither cared about that. They wanted to be together for a lifetime.