“What? What do you mean he went home?”
“He agreed to spend the next month or so recuperating at home.”
Kyuhyun sat on the hospital bed, quietly packing his things. He was getting discharged today after staying in the hospital for more than two months. He was happy that he was finally getting discharged. Staying in a room with too much white for so long would make anyone detest the hospital. Kyuhyun smiled as he packed in the blue blanket and the grey elephant that had been there with him through the lonely days and nights at the hospital. The rest of the members tried their best to be there with him everyday, with at least one member with him, however, their schedule did not permit it. Kyuhyun appreciated all the effort his hyungs put in to be with him, although Kyuhyun still had not told them about his nightmares, or that he continued to have them especially when he was alone.
Kyuhyun had blushed when he woke up on Eeteuk’s lap the other day. It was not the first time he had woken up on someone’s lap, but it was the first time he had woken up on Eeteuk’s lap. Kyuhyun tried to get off, but Eeteuk kept him on his lap. Eeteuk smiled at Kyuhyun, indicating that it was alright. Kyuhyun laid his head back down timidly, watching Eeteuk’s face for any indication of any sorts. Eeteuk just continued to smile at Kyuhyun, until Kyuhyun relaxed a little more on his lap.
Kyuhyun smiled at that memory. He could still remember the warmth, which kept the nightmares away. A knock on the door brought him away from his memories.
“Young Master, it’s time to go.”
Kyuhyun looked up to see his mother’s butler-cum-driver at the door with a wheelchair. Kyuhyun nodded and gingerly climbed onto the wheelchair. The butler carried Kyuhyun’s bag and proceeded to push him out the door.
“Can we go by the paediatrics ward, Mr Lee?” Kyuhyun asked quietly from his position.
“Of course, Young Master.”
They went to the paediatrics ward in silence. The nurse spotted Kyuhyun and gestured for him to enter the ward.
“Hey everyone! Look who’s here?” The nurse exclaimed into the ward.
The kids all looked up and their faces all lit up.
Kyuhyun smiled at them, waving from his wheelchair. The kids tumbled towards him in excitement.
“Hold on kids. Don’t you have something for Kyu-hyung?” The nurse stopped them.
The children halted and one ran back to his bed to take something.
“Hyung, we know that you’re leaving the hospital today, so we made this for you.”
One representative inched forward to place a handmade card on Kyuhyun’s lap. It wasn’t the prettiest card in the world, but to Kyuhyun, it was the best thing he had received – besides the blanket and the elephant.
The children beamed, happy that their hyung liked it.
“Kyu-hyung, will you come back and visit us? We love your singing!”
The other children bopped their heads up and down, indicating their love for Kyuhyun.
“I will still be coming to the hospital. I promise to visit whenever I come.”
Kyuhyun nodded at the girl who said that.
“Yay!” The children bounced around, some twirling in circles.
“Okay kids settle down. Let’s say goodbye to Kyuhyun.”
“Bye, Kyu-hyung! We’ll miss you!”
Kyuhyun waved goodbye to the children with a quiet “I’ll miss you too.”
Mr Lee pushed Kyuhyun out of the ward towards the exit of the hospital. Kyuhyun said nothing the whole journey home, just fiddling with the card on his lap.
“Young Master we’re here.”
Mr Lee’s words shook Kyuhyun out of his day-dreaming. He looked out the window to see the two storey house that he had stayed in for most of his life. It was a typical house that looked nothing out of the ordinary. But unlike most houses, to Kyuhyun this house gave no warmth at all.
Mr Lee pushed Kyuhyun into the house. The house was deserted, after all only Kyuhyun and his mother stayed there. The only other person who was in the house was the housekeeper, but she did not stay for the night. She happened to be cleaning the living room when Kyuhyun entered.
“Young Master! Welcome back! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you!”
The housekeeper, Mdm Kim, was an elderly lady who treated Kyuhyun like her grandson. She would have fussed over Kyuhyun if she was allowed to, but she only entered the household when Kyuhyun was fifteen. By then Kyuhyun would not allow himself to get close to anyone, not even people he saw everyday.
A small smile graced Kyuhyun’s face for a split second before it disappeared. He caught sight of his mother coming down the stairs.
“Auntie. Don’t forget to change my bed sheet later. Moohyuk, let’s go. I’m going to be late.” She walked straight passed Kyuhyun, without even a glance at him when he greeted her. Moohyuk looked as if he wanted to protest as he wanted to help his young master to his room first, but he kept silent when his mistress glared at him. He hurriedly left to drive the car.
Kyuhyun’s face fell, crestfallen. I should have expected it.
Mdm Kim wanted to say something but she didn’t know what. Kyuhyun pushed himself to the stairs and stood gingerly, using the railings. Mdm Kim rushed over wanting to help, but she knew he would not allow. Kyuhyun climbed slowly up the stairs, with Mdm Kim following behind him every step. By the time Kyuhyun reached his bedroom he was exhausted. He climbed onto the bed, not bothered with his shoes. He fell asleep within seconds.
After a long practice, Super Junior all piled on the dance floor, tired. Hankyung leaned against the wall, with his legs stretched out. A towel covered his head. Heechul leaned against him, panting from the dance practice. Kibum sat cross-legged on the floor, wiping his sweat off his face. Siwon sat near the door, leaning on the wall next to it, drinking water. Eeteuk sat on a chair near the mirror. He was not as tired as he was ordered to rest when they were doing more vigorous dance routines. Yesung and Ryeowook leaned on each other, clearly tired from the practice. Ryeowook felt like he could fall asleep at that moment. Even the most energetic of them were tired. Donghae, Eunhyuk, Sungmin and Shindong all lied spread out on the floor, panting hard from the practice.
Eeteuk was about to speak when the door opened. Siwon jerked slightly since he was dozing slightly. It was their manager.
“Hyung?” Eeteuk asked, puzzled.
Their manager looked around the room before speaking.
“Kyuhyun is being discharged from the hospital right now.” This sentence got everyone’s attention. They all sat up right from their positions and turned towards the door.
“He’s being discharged right now.” Super Junior all looked at each other questioning. None of them knew that Kyuhyun was discharged today.
“How come we didn’t know about it?” Eeteuk voiced the question.
“He told me to keep it from you.”
“He didn’t give me a reason. Anyway he should have reached his home by now.”
“What? What do you mean he went home?”
By this time, Heechul, Hankyung, Yesung, Donghae, Ryeowook and Kibum were wide awake. The tiredness from their practice had vanished into thin air.
“He agreed to spend the next month or so recuperating at home.”
“What?” The exclamation came from seven of them, giving the rest a shock. They too snapped to attention as they sensed something was wrong.
Their manager also looked taken aback by their reactions.
“What’s wrong with recuperating at home? He wouldn’t be able to recuperate with you all in your dorm. None of you can be around him all the time to take care of him.” It was a reasonable answer which did not satisfy the seven of them. Eeteuk looked around and stood up.
“Hyung, can I speak to you?” Eeteuk asked, indicating that he wanted to speak to their manager alone.
The manager nodded, his curiosity now peaked and the two left together. Before Eeteuk closed the door, he eyed Hankyung and Heechul, giving them permission to tell the rest.
Eunhyuk looked at Donghae, wondering what the exclamation was about. Donghae averted his eyes, not wanting to be the one to say it. Eunhyuk knew then that it was something serious.
“What was that about?” Kangin spoke up.
Hankyung was about to speak when Heechul’s hand covered his mouth. Heechul nodded to himself, stating that this time, he would take the burden for Hankyung.
Heechul took a deep breath before starting, “Kyungie called Kyuhyunnie’s parents after the accident…”
As Heechul explained, Hankyung held on tight to Heechul’s hand. He still saw red every time he thought about it. He was upset at the situation. Why would Kyuhyun want to return there? He was upset that Kyuhyun chose his parents over them and that Kyuhyun kept quiet about his discharge. Hankyung just didn’t understand. He thought they had made some progress, but apparently it was still not enough.
Kibum heard the words repeating. “He agreed to spend the next month or so recuperating at home.” He was upset that Kyuhyun still craved for his mother’s care and concern. Although Kyuhyun never asked for his mother again, Kibum caught Kyuhyun’s glances at the mothers walking past his room with their children. He could see the longing in his eyes. Are we not enough? He knew it was unreasonable to think so, but he could not help it. Kibum wanted so much to just gather Kyuhyun in his arms and say to Kyuhyun that they were all he needed.
Ryeowook like Kibum knew that Kyuhyun craved for some sort of acceptance or attention from his parents. Perhaps because they were the closest in age, Kyuhyun sometimes let his mask fall for a few seconds. It was during those few seconds that Ryeowook caught a glimpse of what Kyuhyun hid behind his mask. That was why he strived to make Kyuhyun smile more, always trying to drag Kyuhyun into all sorts of weird antics. Kyuhyun would not do it with others. Maybe there’s something good about being the eternal magnae.
I should have brought my mother to Kyuhyun. Donghae thought to himself. Donghae wondered why none of them knew that Kyuhyun was discharged today. Why did he keep silent about it? Donghae couldn’t understand. They promised to be there for him and yet no one knew about his discharge. Donghae marvelled at Kyuhyun’s ability to keep secrets. He must have kept them all his life.
Yesung wrapped his hand around Ryeowook’s. I should have noticed. Yesung understood how it felt like to feel unwanted. He was shunned when he was younger but Yesung knew he didn’t have it as bad as Kyuhyun. I’ve found my friends for life now. Yesung knew to a certain extent the need to be accepted by people who rejected them. He couldn’t say that he was shocked by Kyuhyun’s decision to return home, but he was still slightly upset that Kyuhyun chose not to tell them.
Sungmin was horrified. He had thought that the nightmare was bad, but this was worse. He had heard of such stories but never expected it to happen to one from his family. How come we never notice it before? Sungmin seldom had violent thoughts in his mind, although he knew martial arts, but right now, all he wanted to do was to team up with Hankyung-hyung and Kangin-hyung to do something that he most probably wouldn’t regret.
Shindong was flabbergasted. He was getting his impression of Kyuhyun shattered in the past few days. Shindong now realised that there was really a lot that he had to learn about Kyuhyun. What else has he hidden?
Eunhyuk looked from Donghae to Heechul and back to Donghae, as if to clarify whether what he heard was true. Donghae nodded at Eunhyuk. Eunhyuk stared at his feet. Why? He couldn’t understand how Kyuhyun’s parents didn’t see the wonder they had in front of them. Eunhyuk was also a little upset at Donghae for keeping this from him. Eunhyuk promised to find out the reason from Donghae later.
Siwon gripped the cross by his neck, seeking comfort from his belief. He was sure that every one of them here would dash down to Kyuhyun’s house at this moment if they were permitted. And if we knew the address. Siwon was upset. This was something that not even his belief gave him comfort.
Kangin punched the floor. He finally understood why he felt that way. Because he truly needs protection. Kangin was upset. He was angry. He always thought himself to be an observant person. Apparently not. They had all missed the past about Kyuhyun. They knew a lot of things about each other but Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun had joined them late, and they never found the time to sit down as a group for a heart to heart talk like they did when they were still trainees. When Kyuhyun joined them, they had already debuted as Super Junior 05 and were busy. None of them found the time to understand more about their new member.
Heechul was glad for Hankyung’s support. He could not have told them everything, from the phone call to the episode to Kyuhyun’s asking for his mother without the silent support. He could not forget the fact that they were that close to getting Kyuhyun to let everything go. We should have done more. Their manager’s reason was true and Heechul bet that that was the reason Kyuhyun agreed to go home. Kyuhyun was never one to trouble others. He always carried the burdens upon himself. That was the reason why Heechul tended to forget that Kyuhyun was younger than him.
Silence fell on the room, until Eeteuk walked back into the room, slamming the door.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Eeteuk stormed into the room and sat down heavily on the floor. Ryeowook and Kibum stared at Eeteuk, a little scared as they had never seen Eeteuk so mad before. Ryeowook hid a little behind Yesung.
Eeteuk showed no indication that he heard Donghae, who was now near him. Kangin walked up and kneeled beside Eeteuk.
Eeteuk looked up with frustration still on his face.
“I told Hyung about the phone call, and that I suspect that Kyuhyun’s mother would not be around to take care of him. Hyung said he believed me, but he can’t do anything since Kyuhyun didn’t say anything. He says that we can’t just break into Kyuhyun’s house and drag him away. Hyung says that Kyuhyun would not be alone in the house as Kyuhyun had assured him that there’s an old housekeeper who will take care of him. He says that we would not have the time to take care of him.”
Eeteuk rattled off, his voice getting louder towards the end. By then he had stood up to pace around the room.
“I know everything Hyung said. I understand everything. I really do. It makes sense for Kyuhyun to have someone around him all the time since he is still not very mobile. It all makes sense. I know it does. But having a housekeeper take care of you is not the same as a family to take care of you. It’s not the same. It’s not the same. It’s not the same…”
Eeteuk tried to reason with himself, his voice getting softer and softer, until he had buried his face in his hands, kneeling on the ground. Eeteuk cried. He cried for them, for Kyuhyun, for not being able to do anything, for Kyuhyun who chose not to burden them and most importantly, Eeteuk cried for failing Kyuhyun time and time again.
Everyone was shocked, first by Eeteuk’s words – or rather by their manager’s words – then next, by Eeteuk’s collapse in the middle of the room. Hearing Eeteuk’s sobs however snapped them into action.
Siwon grabbed the tissue box on the table before running to Eeteuk. He wasn’t sure if the tissue was going to come into use. But it has to be of some use right? Hankyung panicked, he didn’t know what to do. He never dealt well with people crying. He hovered around Eeteuk, not sure whether to touch him or not. Kangin kneeled in front of Eeteuk, gently lifting Eeteuk’s shoulders straight and pulling Eeteuk into his arms. Eeteuk cried even louder into Kangin’s shoulder. The rest of the members crowded around them, kneeling, not knowing what to do.
Sungmin held onto Shindong’s arm, feeling sad that their leader was crying. He was never happy when anyone was crying. He liked it better when everyone was smiling. That was why Sungmin smiled all the time. He believed in the sentence that a smile could brighten up anyone’s day. But right now, even Sungmin could not find it in himself to smile. Shindong held onto Sungmin’s hand on his arm, a distressed look on his face. He had never felt so helpless until the accident. He hated the feeling. I don’t want to feel helpless anymore.
Ryeowook had moved closer, pulling Yesung with him, although there was no need to do so as Yesung was also concerned. Ryeowook’s tears rolled down as well, from seeing their leader cry so badly and also from the words Eeteuk had uttered. Ryeowook understood how Eeteuk felt. He understood the reasons behind the crying. He wished he could say something to comfort Eeteuk, but nothing formed in his head. Yesung’s arm draped around Ryeowook and he felt slight tremors going through Ryeowook’s shoulders. Yesung hugged Ryeowook from the back; giving a little comfort that Yesung knew it was not enough.
Eunhyuk kneeled behind Kangin, facing Eeteuk. He wanted to say something, but he couldn’t. Who could when they themselves felt like crying? Eunhyuk held on to Donghae’s hand. They were used to Eeteuk’s Umma-like actions and fussing. But he certainly was not used to Eeteuk’s crying. Vaguely he wondered if Eeteuk ever broke down from the stress of being the leader of Super Junior.
Donghae was beside Eunhyuk. He wanted to panic like Hankyung but figured that one panicking member was enough. Donghae was seriously considering just kidnapping Kyuhyun from his house and bring him to his mother despite what Eeteuk said previously. He knew that everything their manager had said made sense but, like Eeteuk, he wanted to give in to his heart and not listen to the logic in his mind.
Heechul was trying to calm Hankyung down. All the fretting was not doing any good to the situation. They did not need another break down. Heechul didn’t think he could deal with another one.
“Kyungie, calm down. You’re not helping.”
Hankyung looked at Heechul, who had let concern filter through his mask. Hankyung nodded and took a few deep breaths. Heechul kept his hands on Hankyung’s shoulders, watching as Hankyung tried to compose himself. Heechul was not exactly surprised by Eeteuk’s breakdown. Judging by how upset Heechul was over the news, it was all too possible that Eeteuk would cry. But Heechul didn’t expect the hurt he felt when he saw Eeteuk crying. After Hankyung calmed down, Heechul was about to leave his side to comfort Eeteuk, seeing that Eeteuk was still crying badly, despite Kangin’s best attempts to soothe him. But Heechul did not. He saw Kibum kneeling in front of Eeteuk, with Siwon beside him. Heechul knew that Kibum would be able to comfort Eeteuk.
Kibum was observing Eeteuk from the time he slammed the door. Although Kibum was a little frightened by the way Eeteuk had entered, he had recognised the slight pain in Eeteuk’s eyes. It was the same one Kibum saw in his eyes almost every night when he could not visit Kyuhyun at the hospital. When Eeteuk ended his rant by bursting into tears in the middle of the room, Kibum made to move towards Eeteuk when he paused. Will I be able to comfort him? Kibum doubted himself as he was not the most expressive person. As Eeteuk’s crying drifted to Kibum’s ears, Kibum’s resolve hardened. Yes. I can do it. Kibum pulled Siwon with him to kneel in front of Eeteuk. He reached into the tissue box to take out a piece of tissue. He lifted Eeteuk’s head to face him instead of being buried in Kangin’s shoulder blade. Gently, he dabbed the tissue on the tears on Eeteuk’s face. Eeteuk quietened down, his crying turning silent with occasional sobs coming still. Kibum continued to dry the tears as he spoke.
“Jungsu-hyung, don’t cry. We know how you feel. We all feel the same. I know that in our minds, we all know logically that we can’t just barge into the house to bring Kyuhyun home. But our hearts refuse to accept it. At least my heart refuses to. It is not the same when your family is taking care of you. But we cannot do anything now. Kyuhyun made the decision to return home. I know that we know we are family, but does Kyuhyun know? I doubt it. Hyung. We need you to help us convince Kyuhyun. We will go straight down to his house to visit him k? If we see anything amiss, we would all drag Kyuhyunnie out of the house, wouldn’t we?” Kibum paused looking at the rest. He received affirmative nods from everyone else.
“See, Hyung? We all want Kyuhyun back with us. But we can’t drag him out unless we convince him that he would not burden us if he stays with us. Jungsu-hyung. Please, don’t cry anymore. You’re making me cry, you’ve made Wookie cry. Hae is tearing up as well. Even Heechul-hyung has tears rolling down his face” – “I do not!” Heechul exclaimed righteously, although his hand went up to weep away the tears – “Hyung.”
Kibum never stopped in his drying of the tears on Eeteuk’s face despite the fact that he started crying in the middle of his speech. Siwon reached up with a piece of tissue, weeping off the tears on Kibum’s face when Kibum stopped crying. He marvelled at the strength his dongsaeng held in him as well as the intellect.
Eeteuk looked at Kibum, listening to every word Kibum had said. Eeteuk smiled slightly at the suggestion of dragging Kyuhyun away. He looked around and saw that indeed Ryeowook and Donghae both had tear tracks on his face. Slowly but surely, Eeteuk’s crying stopped. He pushed himself off Kangin and looked around.
“Let’s go visit Kyuhyunnie.” Eeteuk said softly.
It got a resonating answer.
“Yes, Umma!” Everyone said that sentence unanimously.
The day was late when they packed up and left the studio. The general consensus was to visit Kyuhyun the next day. Eeteuk managed to clear their schedule with their manager to visit Kyuhyun. No one, not even the manager, would deny Eeteuk of his requests when he was in Umma-mode and when he was angry. Hence Super Junior got a break for a day to visit their youngest.
Now, however, they were faced with another problem.
They woke up early the next morning. Everyone was too anxious to sleep in. Hankyung was making breakfast with a slight frown on his face. He didn’t know what to expect when they visit Kyuhyun. The rest sat around the table, some rubbing their eyes, some yawning, but all nursing a cup of coffee. None of them slept well that night.
Donghae and Eunhyuk did not get much sleep that night. Both were up late talking which resulted in them staring blankly at their food during breakfast, not registering any conversation that was flying across the table – not that there was a lot of talking. Eunhyuk was replaying the conversation he had with Donghae the previous night as he mindlessly placed food into his mouth.
Eunhyuk had dragged Donghae into his room when they had all finished bathing. The rest had all retreated to their own rooms, each claiming to be tired but all knew that none of them would be sleeping much that night. All of them were staying in one dorm so that they could all go together the next morning. Kangin pulled Eeteuk to their room, knowing that Eeteuk would not want to be alone that night. Actually none of them wanted to be alone after learning the news.
Yesung followed Ryeowook into his room, knowing that he would feel the missing presence of Kyuhyun even more in there, but in some parts of his mind, it was the only way of getting close to Kyuhyun when it was not possible physically. Though part of the reason was not to let Ryeowook alone.
Kibum walked towards his room and was about to enter when Hankyung reached over. Hankyung pulled Kibum towards Heechul and Siwon.
“There’s no need to be alone tonight.”
Kibum looked as if he was about to protest, but let himself be dragged away for the night. Kibum let himself to be his age and accepted the comfort from his hyung.
Siwon held on to Heechul’s hand. He too wanted to feel the comfort of his hyungs for the night. He didn’t want to be strong now. He didn’t want to rely on his belief for strength. He just wanted to depend on his hyung for one night before he rebuilt his strength to be there for Kyuhyun.
Sungmin and Shindong looked at each other before trooping to Ryeowook’s room. They didn’t want to be alone in their room. Perhaps they could get Yesung to sing a song for them to make them feel slightly better. After all, there’s a saying that songs can heal.
Eunhyuk did not pay attention to any of those. He immediately dragged Donghae to his room, determined to find out the reason from Donghae.
“Hyukkie! Why are you dragging me?” Donghae asked, confused.
Eunhyuk pushed Donghae onto the bed and stood in front of him.
“Hyukjae?” Donghae was now officially confused.
“Hae, why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“Tell you about what?” Donghae’s mind could not process the question.
“About Kyuhyun. About his parents. About his nightmare. About everything!” Eunhyuk’s voice steadily got louder until he threw his hand in the air.
Donghae kept silent. He realised why Eunhyuk was upset. Usually Donghae told Eunhyuk everything. But this time, Eunhyuk had to find out from another person something so big. If it was Donghae, he would be mad as well.
“Well?” Eunhyuk still wanted an answer.
“Don’t you ‘Hyukkie’ me, Lee Donghae.”
“Hyukjae, come sit here.” Donghae patted the space next to him on the bed.
“I’m not going to sit anywhere until you give me an answer.” Eunhyuk refused to budge from his position.
Eunhyuk ignored Donghae, hands crossed still waiting for an answer.
Donghae exploded from the frustrations that had been piling up on him since the day he found out about Kyuhyun’s parents.
“Fine! You want to know why! Because I was afraid that you wouldn’t be able to take it! Because I knew you still carried the guilt in you! Because I didn’t know how to tell you!”
Donghae grabbed Eunhyuk’s collar and started out deadly soft before ending loudly like Eunhyuk. He let go of Eunhyuk and turned to face the wall, clenching his fist to prevent the tears from overflowing.
Eunhyuk stumbled back a few steps, shocked. He didn’t know that. He really didn’t. He only thought about how upset he was when he had to find out from another person. Never did he once consider Donghae’s feelings.
“Donghae..” This time it was Donghae who ignored Eunhyuk.
“Donghae-ah, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Eunhyuk hesitantly reached out to touch Donghae’s arm. When Donghae gave no reaction, Eunhyuk pulled Donghae to face him. Eunhyuk was not surprised by the tears that rolled down Donghae’s face. He wept away the tears with his hand and gently pulled Donghae to the floor to sit with him. Eunhyuk placed an arm around Donghae’s shoulder, causing Donghae’s head to lean on his. No other words were exchanged between the two. They drifted off to sleep in that position.
Eunhyuk looked from his food to Donghae, who still looked a little dazed, but gave him a small smile when he noticed Eunhyuk staring. Eunhyuk did the same, and he knew they were best friends again. Then Siwon asked a question.
“Do we know where Kyuhyun lives?”
Which brought them to the problem they had now. No one knew where Kyuhyun lived. Then Kibum spoke up.
“I think I know.”
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
They all piled into a van, squeezing slightly but none minded. Besides they only had one person who vaguely knew the way to Kyuhyun’s house. They couldn’t afford to drive both vans and let the other get lost. Kibum was in the front seat, since he was acting like the navigator – a navigator who was not very clear about where they were heading.
“Kibummie, are you sure this is the area?” Sungmin asked looking around.
Kibum nodded. “Kyuhyun once mentioned that he studied at the private school around this area and that he lived near the school.”
The rest looked around at the scene their van was passing by. Siwon was now driving slowly.
“But I don’t know the exact address.” Kibum admitted sheepishly. He didn’t actually think that much when he said he knew the address.
Heechul groaned. “So we’re just going to drive about aimlessly?”
“No hyung. I’ve checked and found out that there was only one private school in this area and thought that perhaps we could ask the school for the address. From what I know Kyuhyun had never moved house before.”
“What’s the school called?” Eunhyuk asked, searching his map for any clue.
“St John’s High School.”
“St John’s. St John’s. St John’s. Ah! Here it is. Turn left at the next junction and we should be able to see it, Siwonnie.” Eunhyuk directed, pointing to his left.
After the left turn, they all looked out the window. Ryeowook couldn’t help but let up a gasp as the school came into view. One look at it and everyone could tell that it was a rich man’s school. Ryeowook was puzzled. He never knew Kyuhyun’s family was rich. Kyuhyun had never acted like a rich man’s son. None of them had any inkling, perhaps except Kibum who knew that he studied here. They were all still in awe of the school when they reached the gate.
“What is your purpose here?” The security officer asked.
“Er…” Would they let us in if we said we were looking for someone? Kibum wondered whether to tell the truth.
“We are looking for an ex-student from this school. Is it possible to direct us to the office?” Eeteuk solved the problem for Kibum.
The security guard stared into their van and then waved them through.
“Just go straight to that building.”
“Thank you Sir.” Kibum thanked the guard, while mentally giving a sigh of relieve.
Siwon drove the car towards the building. They all got out of the car and walked into the office.
“Excuse me?” Kibum asked looking around for someone to speak with.
“Yes?” A lady walked towards them, not before stopping at the sight of twelve handsome guys standing in front of her. Too bad I’m married.
“Er…” Kibum could not get the question out. Donghae decided to help him.
“We’re friends of an ex-student of this school. We were wondering if you could give us his home address. His name is Cho Kyuhyun.”
The lady hesitated. “It’s against the school policy to give out any details of our students.”
Ryeowook and Sungmin walked up to the lady and gave their puppy eyes.
“Please Mdm. We really want to look for him.” Heechul could see her resolve wavering as she looked at the two. He walked up and gave the smile that made all swoon over him. No one could resist that.
“We want to give him a surprise. We’ll really appreciate it.”
The lady blushed and nodded. She turned to the computer then asked, “What year did he graduate?”
“Should be about one to two years ago.”
“Hmmm. Ah. Found it. Let me print it out.” They waited impatiently for the printout.
“Here. Is this who you’re looking for?”
Heechul took the printout from her. Kibum leaned in and scanned it through. The name was the same. So was the birthday. They looked at each other and nodded.
“This is it. Thank you.” Kibum gave a bow to the lady while the rest all gave her a smile before leaving the office. They didn’t notice the chaos they left behind as they left in a hurry to visit Kyuhyun.
The lady felt like she was in heaven. Today is my lucky day! As she thought that, a swarm of ladies crowded round her, all demanding to know those adorable guys.
Kibum held on to the map directing Siwon to the address. The rest sat at the back, all anxious about the impending meeting. Eeteuk was running through all the possibilities in his mind about the things he would see at Kyuhyun’s house. Not surprisingly, the thoughts were beginning to lean towards the negative. Luckily for him, the ride was not long. They arrived at the house. Eeteuk shuddered as he looked at the house. Although it didn’t look out of the ordinary, the house gave Eeteuk bad feelings. Kangin noticed the shudder.
“Hyung, are you okay?”
Eeteuk nodded. “Let’s go in.”
Shindong rang the doorbell.
“We’re here to see Kyuhyun.”
“Oh. Please come in.”
The gate opened.
Upon entering the house, they were welcomed by an old lady who introduced herself as Mdm Kim.
“Just call me auntie.” She said when Siwon greeted her.
“Come in. Young Master should be down soon.”
She bustled into the kitchen, leaving them to settle on the sofa. Donghae and Kibum looked around the house, curious as to how their youngest grew up. What they saw disappointed them. There was not a single picture of anyone in the house. Nothing that seemed to bring any happiness in the house. By looking at the decorations, one could never guess who lived here. They paused in their inspection when they heard a shout on the stairs.
Kyuhyun didn’t sleep well the first night home. It was even worse than sleeping in the hospital. As compared to the hospital, his house – Kyuhyun didn’t consider it his home – held more terrifying memories. Even his room held few good memories. Being back in the house made Kyuhyun feel like a child again. He flinched at every sound that passed by his room and was always tense as if prepared for someone to enter his room. Kyuhyun sat up on his bed and reached for his bag. He had not bothered to unpack. He began rummaging through his bag. Kyuhyun was not sure what he was looking for but somewhere in his heart, he knew that there were things in his bag that comforted him. His hand grabbed something soft and he pulled it out. It was the elephant. As he pulled out the elephant, something else dropped out of his bag. It was his handphone.
Kyuhyun bent down to pick it up. He stared at it with the elephant close to his body. Kyuhyun flipped the phone open and pressed a button. As the screen changed to indicate who he was calling, Kyuhyun closed the phone. He stared at it for a long time. Then, Kyuhyun slowly flipped his phone open again. He stared at the screen, with his finger hovering above the same button, as if deciding to press or not. Every time his finger touched the keypad, Kyuhyun quickly lifted it. Should I? Or should I not? The two questions kept repeating themselves in Kyuhyun’s mind. Kyuhyun wanted to hear his hyung’s voice – Eeteuk-hyung, Hankyung-hyung, Kibum-hyung, or anyone. Kyuhyun just didn’t want to be left in this silence. He wanted to give in to his selfish wants, but something held him back. He closed the phone and placed it on his table. Kyuhyun hugged the elephant close to his chest, wishing that it was not an inanimate object that he was hugging at the moment. He reached into the bag to pull the blanket out, but stopped mid-way. He retracted his hand and zipped the bag, before placing it back on the floor. No. I’m not going to expose the blanket to this house. The elephant will be enough. To Kyuhyun, it was as if he didn’t want the gift from his hyung to be tainted by the memories in the house.
Kyuhyun lied down on the bed, covering himself with his blanket which did not give the same comfort as his blue blanket. Kyuhyun stared at his phone again before burying his face into the elephant. You don’t want to disturb them. You’re only going to worry them if you call.
Kyuhyun only managed to doze off at about 4 in the morning despite feeling tired the whole night. He had fallen asleep after climbing to his room but not for long. That led to him even more tired when he woke up from his few hours of sleep the next day. Kyuhyun washed up. He patted his elephant on the head before placing the elephant back into his bag and headed downstairs. He had left his crutches downstairs as it was not possible for him to carry it up when he climbed the stairs. So Kyuhyun walked slowly towards the stairs.
When he reached the stairs he heard some noises. He did not bother with it as he was concentrating on getting down the stairs until he heard Hankyung’s voice. He grasped the railing tightly. Am I dreaming? Kyuhyun looked towards the living room.
“Hyung!” Kyuhyun exclaimed, shocked but happy that his hyungs were there, though he was not really sure why they were there. Hearing Kyuhyun’s voice, all their heads snapped to that direction.
“Kyuhyun!” The shout came from Eeteuk, Eunhyuk and Kangin. All of them were shock to see Kyuhyun walking down the stairs by himself. Should he be doing that so soon after being released?
Donghae and Kibum, being the two standing around looking at the house, rushed to help Kyuhyun. They met him when there was still half a flight of stairs left.
“Kyuhyunnie, let me carry you down.” Donghae said, afraid that Kyuhyun might fall halfway.
Kyuhyun shook his head as he paused. “I’m fine Hyung. I can do it.”
Kibum saw the determination in Kyuhyun’s eyes and shook his head at Donghae who was about to protest. Donghae closed his mouth. He turned to his next best option.
“Fine. I’ll just stay in front of you as you walk.” Donghae walked in front of Kyuhyun, prepared to catch Kyuhyun if he fell. Kibum went behind Kyuhyun to help.
Everyone held their breaths as they watched. Kyuhyun made his way down the stairs slowly but surely. It was harder that climbing up the stairs. As Kyuhyun was nearing the bottom, he tripped. Kyuhyun fell straight into Donghae’s arms.
“Kyu, are you okay?” Kibum asked from the side of Donghae.
Kyuhyun nodded, with a slight smile on his face. “I told you I could do it.”
Kibum ruffled Kyuhyun’s hair. “Yes you did.”
Donghae placed an arm around Kyuhyun’s waist as Kyuhyun placed his arms on Donghae’s and Kibum’s shoulder. Donghae supported Kyuhyun’s weight as they made their way to the sofa.
Sungmin and Eunhyuk immediately cleared a space for Kyuhyun to sit. Kyuhyun settled down on the single sofa before asking.
“Hyung, why are you all here?”
They all looked at Kyuhyun with a wide-eyed look. Is he asking what I think he’s asking?
Hankyung said from across the table. “To visit you, of course.”
“Really?” It was déjà vu.
Heechul spoke up again, with slight exasperation in his voice.
“Hyunnie, how many times must I repeat? Just say, “Thank you Hyung for coming.” It’s only five words.”
Kyuhyun ducked his head and blushed.
“Yes Heechul-hyung. Thank you Hyung for coming.” Kyuhyun mumbled to himself, still blushing from the fact that his hyungs came to visit him.
Sungmin looked at Kyuhyun and he really wanted to use his skills on Kyuhyun’s parents. It was as if Kyuhyun didn’t expect anyone to come! Sungmin fumed quietly.
Hankyung was observing Kyuhyun. He noticed that his eye bags seemed a little worse than the last time they saw Kyuhyun and that he seemed a bit thinner than before. He was about to ask Kyuhyun about his sleep when Kyuhyun spoke up.
“Since we are all here, can we have a picnic? I haven’t been outside for so long. There’s a park near here. It’s just down the street.” Kyuhyun’s face was full of excitement at the thought of spending the day with his hyungs. And I’m not going to spend it here.
Shindong, Eunhyuk, Ryeowook and Donghae all brightened at Kyuhyun’s suggestion – Shindong because picnic meant food, Eunhyuk because it meant play time, Ryeowook because Kyuhyun rarely suggested anything relaxing to do (Ryeowook suggested them most of the time), and Donghae because park meant pond meant fish. We might even see aliens!
All four turned to look at Eeteuk and Kangin. Eeteuk briefly wondered if Kyuhyun should be outside, but caved when he saw how excited Kyuhyun was about the idea. Besides, he deserves to be out after being trapped indoors for so many days. Eeteuk nodded, which sparked a series of “Yay!” from the other four.
“Well, I don’t really like picnics. But since it was Hyunnie who suggested it, then its okay.” That came from Heechul. Hankyung stared at Heechul, knowing that Heechul was just acting. Heechul would have agreed to any requests Kyuhyun made. Well unless it was something outrageous, which I think wouldn’t come from Kyuhyun anyway.
Kyuhyun giggled at Heechul. His hyung was still the same. Heechul smiled; glad that he could make Kyuhyun happy.
Actually all of them were happy at that. One because Kyuhyun was happy and two because they had not had a picnic in ages.
“Can we go now?” Eunhyuk asked eagerly.
Eeteuk nodded and they all stood. Just then Mdm Kim walked out of the kitchen.
“Young Master, where are you going?”
Kyuhyun looked at her with a smile. “We’re going to the park for a picnic.”
“Really? Hold on for a while, while I pack some snacks for you to bring there. As well as a mat.” Mdm Kim hurriedly went back to the kitchen.
Kyuhyun was about to say that she did not need to do that but she had left already.
“Kyuhyunnie, do you have a jacket? You should not go out just like that. You’re still recovering. Kibum go to his room to get a jacket.” Eeteuk fussed over Kyuhyun. It was his way of reassuring himself that Kyuhyun was fine though it was obvious that he was not sleeping well.
Kibum headed towards the stairs.
“Hyung, it’s okay. I can go like this.”
“I’m just following our Umma’s orders. You can argue with Umma about it.”
Kyuhyun thought about it and decided that it was not worth the effort.
“My room’s the one on the left. You should find a jacket in the cupboard.”
Kibum nodded and ran up the stairs. Kangin smiled beside Eeteuk. Few people would dare to argue with Eeteuk when he was in Umma mode. He stared at Kyuhyun who was now engaged in a conversation with Ryeowook and Yesung. He looks tired. Is he still having nightmares? Kangin was wondering how they were going to breach the question about Kyuhyun going back to the dorm with them.
Kibum came down with a jacket in his hand just nice as Mdm Kim handed the basket of food and two mats to them.
“Have a nice picnic!” Mdm Kim said by the door as she waved them goodbye. They’re good for Young Master. I haven’t seen his smile in a long time.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Thirteen of them made their way towards the park, which according to Kyuhyun was just the straight road down. They decided to walk to the park since it was not that far. Hankyung and Kangin were carrying the two mats while Yesung volunteered to carry the basket of food. Sungmin and Ryeowook held hands as they walked in front of the group discussing about what they would do at the park. Sungmin was thinking about going around picking fruits or feed the ducks and swans in the pond. Ryeowook nodded beside him, excited about the idea of feeding the ducks. Siwon looked at Ryeowook, wondering if he believed Sungmin’s words about picking fruits. Shindong shook his head behind them. I don’t think there are fruits in a park to pick. But Shindong didn’t say it out, as Sungmin was absorbed in his thoughts of picking fruits.
Eunhyuk and Donghae were playing behind Shindong, joking and pushing each other as if their fight in the early morning did not exist. Eunhyuk knew it was not so. The fact that they fought remained, though they would not forget the fight, they would remember the concern they had for each other. The fight served to solidify their relationship instead of breaking it. Eunhyuk grabbed Donghae’s cap off his head and threw it backwards.
“Hyukkie!” Donghae proclaimed at the loss of his hat.
Eunhyuk just whistled pretending that he did not do it.
“Hey, who threw the cap at me?” Kangin’s voice rang out from behind them.
Eunhyuk and Donghae stopped in their antics and turned to look at Kangin who was clenching Donghae’s cap in his hand. They looked at each other before shouting, “Run! A monster is coming!”
They sprinted off immediately before Kangin could react to that statement. Kangin stood still for a moment before the words registered.
“Monster? Did they just call me a monster? Hyung, take this.” Dumping the mat onto Hankyung, Kangin chased after the other two, shouting, “How dare you call me a monster?”
Eunhyuk and Donghae had dragged Sungmin and Ryeowook along as they felt that no one would be safe in the path of an enraged monster. Shindong and Siwon followed as well, unsure exactly why they were running for their life.
“Hyung! Why are we running so fast?”
“Look behind you!”
Sungmin, Ryeowook, Siwon and Shindong all turned their heads and saw Kangin chasing them with his fist waving in the air.
“Yikes!” Sungmin exclaimed, increasing his speed of running.
“Hey! Wait for us!”
The seven of them dashed off, leaving the rest laughing at their antics while still strolling casually behind.
Hankyung had stumbled a little when the sudden weight of another mat was dumped on his arms.
“What? Wait!” Hankyung called out only to see Kangin far, far ahead of him. Hankyung sighed, adjusting the mat so that it balanced well on his arms.
“Hyung, do you need help?” Kyuhyun asked from behind Hankyung where he was walking using his crutches. He did not want to bring the wheelchair to the park. Eeteuk was beside him, following his every step. Eeteuk was telling Kyuhyun about their practice and what was going on in the dorms. He wanted to breach the question about Kyuhyun coming to the dorm to stay with them, but he did not know how to go about asking. Thus he settled for reciting their days to Kyuhyun. Heechul walked on the other side, often adding more details to Eeteuk’s story. Heechul complained that Eeteuk was not a good story telling, and Kyuhyun should listen to him instead.
“I’m much more interesting.”
Eeteuk pouted, but gave in and let Heechul continue with the story. Heechul smirked.
Yesung was walking next to Hankyung with a slight bounce in his step. He can’t wait till the reached the park. The park would be a great time to relax and just lie there. He laughed when he saw Donghae dragging Ryeowook into a run. Ryeowook looked so confused.
“No, I’m okay.” Hankyung replied.
“Are you sure? I can help you to carry the mat.” This came from Eeteuk.
“Hyung, I’m fine. These aren’t heavy at all.”
“Hyah, leave it to Kyungie. He can do it. We just enjoy our walk to the park.” Heechul cut in, shooing Hankyung and Yesung further front. Eeteuk wanted to say more, but Hankyung and Yesung sped up, leaving the three to walk at a more casual pace.
“We’ll catch up with the rest at the park first and find a place to sit at.” Yesung called back.
The three continued their way to the park.
By the time Eeteuk, Heechul and Kyuhyun reached the park; the rest had already spread out the mats and laid out all the food. Sungmin waved at them.
“Here! We’re here!” It was as if spotting nine guys was something very hard, especially when the park was almost empty. The three headed towards the rest. The spot was under a huge tree which provided shade for them. Eeteuk guided Kyuhyun to an empty space near the tree where Kyuhyun could lean on it if he wanted to. Heechul found a place beside Hankyung. They sat in a circle on the mat with the food placed in the centre.
“What took you so long? Shindong nearly died of hunger.” Eunhyuk asked, placing the blame on Shindong, although he was hungry as well.
Kyuhyun was about to apologise because he knew that the speed they walked at was to accommodate him, but Heechul cut in.
“Walking too fast means that I’ll sweat and I don’t like to sweat.”
Heechul glared at everyone, daring them to say anything about it. Eunhyuk ducked his head and focused on eating. After making sure that no one was going to say anything else, Heechul turned to Kyuhyun preparing to tell him that he need not apologise for anything when Kyuhyun smiled thanks to him. Heechul turned away, hiding his embarrassment at being caught on his real motive.
“Kyungie! I want the potato chips!”
They all dug in to the food prepared by Mdm Kim. It was really delicious. Eeteuk focused on getting food onto Kyuhyun’s plate, saying that Kyuhyun should eat more since he was already thin and he had lost weight in the hospital.
“You have to eat more so that you can recover. Here. Have some of this. And this. And this. And this.” Eeteuk would have gone on non-stop at piling food onto Kyuhyun’s plate if not for Kibum’s interception.
“Hyung, his plate is overflowing.”
Eeteuk stopped and looked. Indeed, food was nearly dropping off Kyuhyun’s plate. Eeteuk smiled sheepishly before saying to Kyuhyun.
“Eat. Don’t stare at it.”
Eeteuk and Kibum stared as Kyuhyun ate. Donghae had actually wanted to start a food fight, but he considered that Kyuhyun wouldn’t be able to duck or hide from the food. It was not really a good game to play. Soon they were all full and satisfied.
Hankyung began clearing the leftover food from the mat and placing them back into the basket while the rest went to walk near the pond. Kyuhyun decided to remain in the shade, claiming that he would rather watch them. Eeteuk shooed the rest to play, saying that they should enjoy themselves and let their inner child out for the day. Hearing that, Donghae’s and Sungmin’s faces lit up. They immediately dragged Eunhyuk and Ryeowook respectively to the pond. Ryeowook in turn grabbed Yesung who grabbed Siwon.
“Shindong-hyung, can you get some bread?” Sungmin called out.
Shindong dutifully took some bread from Hankyung before following them towards the pond.
Kibum looked as if he wanted to stay with Kyuhyun, but he was not able resist Eeteuk’s puppy eyes and Kyuhyun’s as well. Hankyung dragged him and Heechul towards the rest leaving Eeteuk alone with Kyuhyun. Kangin had already gone to the pond. He didn’t want to think what would happen if he left them alone.
Donghae immediately dragged Eunhyuk to squat by the pond.
“Hyukkie look! That’s a big fish! Can I feed it?”
Eunhyuk had taken some bread from Shindong. He passed a piece to Donghae. Donghae gleefully took it and proceeded to shred the bread into tiny bits before throwing them into the pond.
“Look! They’re all coming here!” Donghae pointed to the school of fishes that started to swim towards the bread. Eunhyuk looked on fascinated as well.
“Hyukkie, do you think aliens would visit us today?”
“I mean it’s such a beautiful day – bright sunshine, a big empty piece of grassland with thirteen of us and also fishies. It’ll be the perfect time for them to come don’t you think?”
Eunhyuk wanted to say something, but Donghae didn’t allow him.
“Let’s go look for their presence now. I’m sure they’ll be attracted to this place.” Donghae stood up and proceeded to poke around the bushes looking for aliens. Eunhyuk stood up as well, preparing to indulge him in his alien’s fantasy as an apology for their fight last night although Eunhyuk was also slightly intrigued by the aliens in Donghae’s fantasy.
Sungmin and Ryeowook squatted by the pond as well with bread in their hands. They held it out, allowing the ducks to eat out of their hands. Ryeowook was fascinated. He liked animals and watching them feed from his hand fascinated him. Yesung smiled behind him, thinking that naming Ryeowook their eternal magnae fitted Ryeowook perfectly. Then an idea popped into Yesung’s mind. He squatted down beside Sungmin and whispered into his ears. Sungmin giggled and nodded his agreement. Ryeowook was so focused on the duck in front of him that he did not notice the other two’s whispering. Suddenly the two splashed water from the pond towards the land. Ryeowook got a shock and dropped all the bread crumbs into the pond. Hearing the shriek behind him, Ryeowook could guess who the two sprayed the water at. Ryeowook quickly moved away choosing to go to Donghae-hyung and join him in his search for aliens instead of staying there.
Sungmin and Yesung gave each other high-fives before splashing more water.
“Siwonnie! Stop them from splashing me!”
Heechul ran for cover behind Siwon who had not figure out what was going on. Then he felt water splash on him. Oh. So that’s what Hyung meant. Siwon grabbed Heechul’s hand and ran for cover. He figured that if they got far enough they would not be splashed at. Sungmin and Yesung collapsed on the grass laughing. Heechul vowed to take revenge. He stalked towards the pond and filled a plastic bag with water.
One. Two. Three!
Siwon followed behind Heechul, also wanting revenge as he didn’t know why he was splashed at. He almost gave out the revenge when he saw what Heechul was doing.
One. Two. Three!
The two held their breaths as the water balloon flew through the air and hit the target. Heechul and Siwon gave each other high-fives as they heard the splat. But when they heard the next thing, they knew they did not hit their target.
“Ahh! Who threw a water balloon at me?” Kangin shouted. Today was not his day.
Sungmin and Yesung had already stopped in their laughing and sat up when they saw the balloon fly slightly off target to hit Kangin. They fell down laughing hysterically again. The three searching for aliens looked up briefly at the laughter and saw Kangin chasing Heechul and Siwon which ended up being a game of tag between Heechul, Hankyung, Yesung, Kangin, Shindong, Sungmin and Siwon.
“Ahhh! They’re playing tag! Let’s join in, Hyukkie, Wookie!” Donghae said as he ran towards the rest. Eunhyuk and Ryeowook looked at each other before running behind Donghae. That was Donghae, whose attention span did not last for long.
All happily chased each other around, not exactly following the rule of tag, but they were happy. Finally after a long time, they collapsed onto the grass and stayed there, panting.
Eeteuk and Kyuhyun stayed in the shade, leaning against the tree. They watched as the rest progressed from feeding the fish and the ducks to splashing water and finally to playing tag. They couldn’t help but laugh at some of their antics. They’re really kids at heart. Eeteuk thought. How he wished he could see Kyuhyun there playing with them like kids as well. But instead, Kyuhyun was here sitting beside him in the shade watching the rest have fun. At least he is happy that they’re having so much fun.
“Kyu, do you want to lie on my lap?”
Kyuhyun looked at Eeteuk before nodding shyly. Eeteuk helped ease Kyuhyun’s head onto his lap. Kyuhyun lie down with his legs stretched out and hands by his side. Eeteuk began stroking his hair. This action was soothing to both of them. Kyuhyun was tired, both from the lack of sleep and the energy he used to walk to the park. He refused to be pushed to the park or let his hyungs carry him there. Kyuhyun could feel the Sandman coming for him when Eeteuk asked a question.
“Kyu, why didn’t you tell us that you were released yesterday?”
Kyuhyun was instantly awake. He turned his head away from Eeteuk.
“’Cos I know you’ll want to bring me to the dorm.”
Eeteuk was surprised that Kyuhyun could predict what they would do even when he didn’t know that they knew about his parents.
“And I didn’t want to go back to the dorm.”
This puzzled Eeteuk.
“I’ll be a burden.” Kyuhyun whispered to himself.
“Huh?” Eeteuk actually heard what Kyuhyun said, but he wanted Kyuhyun to repeat.
“Nothing. I just thought that I should return home since it would be easier for me to recover at home with someone to take care of me.”
I was right.
“Kyuhyun, you’re not a burden. You never were, and never will be. We will be able to take care of you at the dorm as well.”
Kyuhyun’s eyes glistened with tears which he refused to let fall. He was told his whole life that he was a burden. Hearing that from Eeteuk made his resolve to stay at home crack even more. Kyuhyun shook his head.
“It’s okay. I’m fine at home as well.”
“Kyuhyun. I know you only want to see your mother right? You want to know why she did not visit you in the hospital right?”
Kyuhyun was taken aback. How did Eeteuk-hyung know that? It was part of the reason why Kyuhyun chose to return home. He wanted to know if his mother worried about him during those months he was hospitalised. This hope was crushed yesterday when his mother ignored his presence. Kyuhyun could only nod at the questions.
“Kyuhyun. You know that we are here for you. That we will be here no matter what.”
Kyuhyun knew that, but his heart refused to believe in that fully. The only other person who said that to him still left him.
“But Hyung, I just want her to care about me for once.”
Kyuhyun told Eeteuk, letting another know his feelings about his mother for the first time in many years. Eeteuk was only the second person Kyuhyun had told about it. None had managed to peel off all the layers Kyuhyun had wrapped himself in. The closest had been his hyung who died at eighteen, while the next closest were Kibum and Hankyung.
Kyuhyun’s voice sounded so childlike, speaking of a hope for a mother’s love which was his right and not a privilege. Eeteuk clenched his fist. He couldn’t ask Kyuhyun to return to the dorm now when he knew that at this moment, none of them could be with Kyuhyun all the time. He wanted to listen to his heart.
“Kyuhyun, promise me that you’ll call at least one of us every night. Even if it was just to say one sentence.”
Kyuhyun looked shocked at the sentence before he nodded. This would give him an excuse to call his hyungs and listen to their voices. Eeteuk continued to stroke Kyuhyun’s hair as Kyuhyun slowly drifted off.
“Kyu, have you been sleeping well?”
Eeteuk looked down. Kyuhyun had fallen asleep.
“I take that as a no.”
Eeteuk picked up Kibum’s jacket and placed in over Kyuhyun’s chest. Eeteuk leaned against the tree, wondering how he should get Kyuhyun to their dorm. I can bring him back to the dorm right now and no one would know better. Eeteuk shook his head. No. That’s not a good idea. They also could not say it outright to Kyuhyun what they thought about his mother. That would most probably drive him away from them. Eeteuk sighed. All this thinking was not doing him any good. Maybe we should decide when we meet her. When we see how she interacts with Kyuhyun. I swear at any signs of mistreatment, I’ll be the first one to drag Kyuhyun away. I promise. I’ll even let Heechul think of revenge.
When the rest got up from their rest on the grass and got back to the shade, they saw Eeteuk leaning against the tree with Kyuhyun on his lap, both asleep. Donghae reached into his pocket to take out his handphone. Snap. It would be a great picture to add to his collection. He had yet to give Kyuhyun the photographs for Eeteuk’s surprise party in all the problems that arose after the party. Donghae promised to get it done soon. Besides, it’ll give me a reason to visit Kyuhyun. Not that we need one.
It was getting late so they decided to go home. First they woke Eeteuk.
“Hyung. Eeteuk-hyung. Umma. Wake up.” Eeteuk opened his eyes blearily, staring at the figure in front of him. “Kibum?”
The figure nodded. Eeteuk blinked a few more times before Kibum’s face became clear.
“We’re going back now.”
“Hyung did you ask Kyuhyun?” Everyone paused.
Eeteuk nodded. “He wants to stay at home. I think we should respect his wishes for now.” At any signs of trouble, I’ll be the first to kidnap him.
Kibum nodded, not looking very happy with that. None of them were. But they respected Kyuhyun’s wish. Kibum proceeded to wake Kyuhyun.
“Kyuhyunnie. Wake up.” Kyuhyun was not in a deep sleep. He woke up almost instantly.
“It’s time to go home.”
Kyuhyun nodded, though a little upset that time passed so fast. Kibum helped him sit up as Eeteuk stood up stretching his arms and legs. Kyuhyun stood up slowly. His legs wobbled. He was exhausted from his walk down the stairs and to the park. His legs were still not strong enough to support his weight for long. Kibum caught him and held him by the waist to help him stand.
“Kyu, I don’t think you should walk back.” Donghae said next to Kibum, concerned.
Kyuhyun shook his head. “I’m okay.”
Hankyung kneeled down in front of Kyuhyun, with his back facing Kyuhyun.
“Climb on, I’ll carry you back.”
“Hyung! There’s no need.”
“Kyuhyunnie. Listen to me. You’re not going to stress your leg even more, if not you will just worsen it.” Heechul said, walking up to Kyuhyun. He looked into Kyuhyun’s eyes showing that he understood what Kyuhyun felt. He had a broken leg before after all.
Kyuhyun nodded, giving in. He did not think he had the energy to walk all the way back either.
Kibum and Donghae helped Kyuhyun climb onto the back of Hankyung. They held on to Kyuhyun as Hankyung slowly stood up. Kyuhyun whispered a soft, “Thanks Hyung” into Hankyung’s ear. Hankyung shook his head, indicating that there was no need for thanks. Slowly they made their way back to Kyuhyun’s house.
The walk home was subdued compared to the excitement when they walked to the park.
Kyuhyun was lured to sleep by the rhythmic walking and soon his head leaned on Hankyung’s shoulder with his eyes closed.
Thank you all for spending the day with me.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
It was dusk when they reached Kyuhyun’s house. Reluctantly, Donghae rang the door bell. Mdm Kim opened the door it and let them in, smiling at the sight of thirteen tired but happy young men. They all smiled at her as they walked past her to enter the house with Kyuhyun still asleep on Hankyung’s back. Closing the door behind her, Mdm Kim was about to lead Hankyung to Kyuhyun’s room when Kibum said, “It’s alright Auntie. We’ll be able to take him to his room ourselves. You don’t have to lead us.”
Mdm Kim smiled and headed towards the kitchen, trusting her young master’s friends. She could tell with her instincts that they were a close-knit group, something her young master needed in his life. Yesung, Kangin and Shindong followed her into the kitchen to return the basket and the mats. Kibum, Sungmin and Hankyung went upstairs to put Kyuhyun to bed while the rest stayed downstairs. They didn’t think that Kyuhyun’s room would be able to fit all of them and there was no need for all of them to go upstairs, although Donghae was puzzled as to why Eeteuk made no action to follow the other three. Usually Eeteuk would be the first to tuck any of them into their bed.
Ryeowook and Eunhyuk leaned on Siwon on the sofa, all exhausted from all the running and chasing they did in the park. Donghae sat across Heechul and Eeteuk, observing. He was tired but still awake. Heechul was dozing slightly on Eeteuk’s shoulder, having exhausted himself chasing Sungmin and Yesung and running from an enraged Kangin. Eeteuk gave no indication that he felt Heechul’s head on his shoulder. Donghae wondered briefly if Heechul’s leg hurt from all the running. However looking at Heechul’s face, Donghae could only see contentment. Eeteuk on the other hand looked deep in thought. Donghae was curious what Eeteuk and Kyuhyun had talked about during the picnic.
Eeteuk did not notice Donghae’s staring at all. He was absorbed in his thinking about the conversation he had with Kyuhyun. It was not a heart-pouring session where Kyuhyun told him a lot, but it was enough for Eeteuk to understand more about Kyuhyun. The reason Kyuhyun chose to go back without telling them and the yearning for his mother’s concern all screamed towards neglect when Kyuhyun was young. He must have been lonely when he grew up, especially being an only child living in such a big house. He wondered why no one noticed the signs of neglect before. Because he was always so independent and portrayed confidence all the time. Eeteuk wanted to follow Hankyung upstairs, but he knew that if he did, he would not be able to honour Kyuhyun’s wishes. Eeteuk would not be able to leave Kyuhyun in such a cold house if he went upstairs.
Kibum directed Hankyung towards Kyuhyun’s room, opening the door for Hankyung. Sungmin followed and looked around the room. There weren’t many things in the room which was painted light blue – just a wardrobe, a queen’s size bed, a study desk with a computer, a fan at one corner, a bookshelf filled with various books and a small lamp on the bedside table. Like the living room, this room did not show who lived in it. Everything seemed to be perfectly in place. There was nothing remotely recreational – Not even his games – let alone sentimental. Perhaps it’s because most of his things are in the dorm? Sungmin tried to find a reason for it, but he realised that back at the dorm, Kyuhyun also did not personalise his table and room. Why does he not add his presence to the rooms? Even his room in his home? Sungmin seriously wondered about Kyuhyun’s past. He continued to examine the room as Kibum help Hankyung place Kyuhyun onto his bed.
Kibum pulled up the blanket to allow Hankyung to place Kyuhyun directly on the bed. He thought about asking Kyuhyun to change his clothes first but looking at Kyuhyun, Kibum changed his mind. He needs the sleep more.
Hankyung, with Kibum’s help, gently allowed Kyuhyun slide off his back and onto the bed. Kyuhyun was acting on auto-pilot. He let Hankyung arrange his legs properly before placing the cover over him. Kyuhyun slid further down into the blanket, almost covering his whole head. Hankyung smiled and gently pecked Kyuhyun on his forehead. He wondered if Kyuhyun ate well because he felt much lighter than before.
“He is still having nightmares. I wonder if he takes naps during the day to make up for it.” Kibum spoke up worried. He had noticed the dark circles under Kyuhyun’s eyes. They seemed to be more pronounced than before. Hankyung did not reply. He just continued to stare at Kyuhyun’s face. Indeed, the dark circles were more obvious. Even during their hectic schedules, Kyuhyun’s face never looked that tired. Will he recover well at this rate? I really wish that we could bring him home.
Kibum looked around the room, looking for something. He could not find either the elephant or the blanket they had given Kyuhyun. Then he noticed the bag on the floor. He opened it and saw the elephant on top. Kibum pulled it out, wondering why it was in the bag and not on the bed with Kyuhyun. When Kyuhyun was hospitalised, the elephant never left his bed. What is it doing in the bag? Kibum placed the elephant in Kyuhyun’s hand and watched as Kyuhyun subconsciously hugged it tighter to him. Kibum wondered if Kyuhyun ever wished that it was not an elephant he was hugging but actually one of them.
“Sungmin ah, what are you looking for?” Hankyung’s voice travelled to Kibum’s ears. Kibum looked from Kyuhyun to Sungmin, puzzled. Sungmin had opened one of the drawers and was looking through it.
“I’m looking for pen and paper to leave a message for Kyu.”
Hankyung walked over to help Sungmin. He opened the drawer on the other side of the table.
“Here. Found it.”
Kibum brought the paper and pen he found in the bedside table to Sungmin and Hankyung. Sungmin showed no sign that he heard Kibum.
“Huh?” Sungmin was startled.
“The paper and pen.”
“Oh! Oh. Thanks.” Sungmin said, as if he forgot that he was looking for something. Kibum was puzzled. Sungmin gave no explanation as he began to scribble a message. Hankyung shrugged his shoulders when Kibum looked at him questioning. He too did not know what caused that. Sungmin left the note by Kyuhyun’s bed before the three quietly left the room, each bidding Kyuhyun good night.
As the three walked down the stairs, they heard another woman’s voice. It didn’t sound like Mdm Kim. It sounded younger.
“…those people. Well pardon me if I cannot entertain you.”
The voice said. Slowly a face came into view as the three walked down the stairs while she walked up the stairs. The woman was not stunningly beautiful, but there was something that would make people look twice. Her face was sharp and it was easy to tell that she was a career woman by looking at the way she dressed. This must be the mother. The thought echoed in Hankyung’s, Sungmin’s and Kibum’s mind. As they passed each other, Kyuhyun’s mother just gave them a side glance before looking straight. The three stared at her back, wondering if that was the way she treated her son. If it is, I don’t care what Eeteuk-hyung said about following Kyuhyun’s wish. I’ll drag Kyu home myself. Kibum was displeased.
As they reached the ground floor, they saw the rest of them standing. Eeteuk caught sight of the three.
“Kyuhyun’s in bed?” Hankyung nodded, wondering why Kangin’s fists were clenched.
Eeteuk turned to Mdm Kim who was standing by the door. “I think we should be going. It’s late. We should not be imposing.”
Mdm Kim nodded, knowing that no one would stay after that meeting. She opened the door for them. One by one, they walked out of the house towards their van. Hankyung hung back, until he was the last one.
“Mdm Kim, this is my contact. Call me if there’s anything regarding Kyuhyun. Don’t worry. My phone will be switched on most of the time.” Hankyung passed a piece of paper which he wrote in Kyuhyun’s room just now.
Mdm Kim nodded, accepting the slip, inwardly hoping that she would not have to use it. However, her instincts warned her that it would be of use.
Sungmin was sitting in front of the computer late at night when everyone was asleep. He was not able to sleep. He could not get the picture out of his mind. The trip home was silent with some members sleeping and others absorbed in their thoughts. No one had the energy to discuss anything at the moment, and silently they agreed to leave it till the next day. Sungmin was glad for that as he needed to sort out why he was so disturbed by the picture. I know I’ve seen the face somewhere. Sungmin had opened a drawer where there was a picture in it. It was a photo of Kyuhyun and another guy. Kyuhyun looked about fourteen and had a shy timid smile on his face, though his eyes were filled with happiness. It was the other guy in the photo that filled Sungmin’s mind. There was a subtitle written at a corner of the photo.
Jong Ki & Kyuhyun.
Sungmin was sure that he saw that name before somewhere, which was the reason why he was sitting in front of the computer. He had typed ‘Jong Ki’ into Google and searched for anything that might trigger his memory. He scrolled and scanned through the words. He was about to label it as a lost cause when something caught his eye.
‘Student from Prestigious Private School Died Protecting His Friend’
Sungmin clicked on the link. The page loaded slowly. First the picture and next the story. It was about a car accident which killed a student who studied at the same school as Kyuhyun. According to the report, the student, Kang Jong Ki, 18, was out with his best friend and both were crossing the road when a car skidded into their path. The student managed to push the friend out of harm’s way, but could not avoid being hit head on by the car. Kang Jong Ki was flung off the road and onto the pavement. He was critically injured and was bleeding tremendously through his wound on his chest. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on the surgery table. The doctors said that it was unexpected that he lasted all the way to the hospital with the injuries he sustained. The statement given by his parents was: “He will be happy in heaven knowing that he died protecting his best friend. We’re proud of him.” No details regarding the friend Kang Jong Ki saved were released as the friend was still a minor.
Sungmin realised why it looked familiar. He had gone to the funeral with his parents as his mother was a good friend of Kang Jong Ki’s mother. Come to think of it, there was a rather tall boy who stood at a corner the whole time, staring at the family with sad eyes. Sungmin tried to remember the face, but it was all a blur. He turned his attention to the picture in the news article. It was a picture that showed the student being lifted up the ambulance, but that was not what caught Sungmin’s attention. It was the boy in the background that was restrained by a police officer. It looked exactly like the boy in the photo Sungmin saw in Kyuhyun’s room.
It looked like Kyuhyun.
Sungmin rubbed his eyes, hoping that it was just his imagination. He stared again. It still looked like Kyuhyun, but Sungmin could not be sure. Then something caught his attention.
The date of the article was February 2nd.
Hankyung had cornered Heechul after everyone had settled in for the night. He wanted to find out what Kyuhyun’s mother said before the three had gone down. At first, Heechul pretended to sleep, not wanting to think about that irritating woman. But Hankyung refused to stop bugging him unless Heechul told him. Finally Heechul sat up on his bed and faced Hankyung.
“You’re too persistent, you know that?”
“Just tell me already, Hyung.”
Heechul sighed and started speaking.
“I was dozing on Teukie’s shoulder when I heard a car drive up the drive way. I wondered briefly whether it was the mother. Mdm Kim came rushing out to open the door as Ryeowook, Eunhyuk and Siwon rubbed their eyes, puzzled. They fell asleep by the way. In came a woman. She was wearing a business suit and spectacles. At first she sounded rather nice, asking us politely with a bit of warmth in her voice who we are and why are we in her house. Whether we were there for her. As if we would be there for her. Why would we? Since we didn’t even know who she was. Well technically, we do because Mdm Kim called her mistress. But that’s beside the point.”
Hankyung was about to interrupt Heechul’s ranting as he knew Heechul had the ability to go on forever when Heechul continued the story.
“When Donghae answered her question, saying that we were friends of Kyuhyun and that we were all in the same boy band, her attitude changed hundred and eighty degrees. She said “Oh you’re those friends. Well pardon me if I cannot entertain you.” She left immediately after saying that! What does she mean by those friends? What else of friends are there? I would really like to know. She doesn’t even know who her son works with! I mean we are famous, at least she would have known who her son was staying with right? I can’t stand it.”
Heechul threw his hands into the air and collapsed back onto the bed. He stared at the ceiling, running his fingers through his hair. What kind of mother doesn’t know who his son worked with for more than a year?
Hankyung could not say he was totally surprised by that. Now he understood why Kangin’s fists were clenched. Even he felt like kicking the woman. If it was not for Kyuhyun’s wish and Eeteuk-hyung taking Kyuhyun’s side, we would have kidnap Kyuhyun right there and then.
Both remained absorbed in their thoughts and didn’t notice when they drifted off to sleep on the same bed.
Sungmin had only slept for two hours before he woke up at about 7 am. His mind remained on the article. Sungmin seriously hoped that what he thought was not true. It was going to be devastating if he was proved correct. He reached for his phone to call his mother. At least I wouldn’t be bothering her at this time. She’s usually awake.
“Umma, it’s me Sungmin.”
“Min-ah? How come you called? Is there something wrong?”
“No Umma, nothing’s wrong with me. I just called to ask you about your friend. You know, the one whose son died about four years ago. The son is called Kang Jong Ki.”
“Hmmm. Oh I remember. What about her?”
“Can you give me her home address? I would like to find her.”
“Sure, but why are you looking for her? Are you in trouble? You know Umma will always be there for you.”
Sungmin felt tears reaching his eyes. They rolled down slightly as he answered.
“Nothing’s wrong with me. I just need to find her about something. I can’t tell you right now. But I promise that I’ll do it when I go home.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
Sungmin nodded, before realising that his mother would not be able to see him.
“Good. Here’s the address.”
Sungmin didn't need to assure his mother he was fine. His mother always knew how he was doing. His mother called it ‘A Mother’s Instinct”.
Sungmin took down the address, promising his mother that he would call more often. He thanked his mother after the help before going to wash up. Sungmin wanted to visit the parents to find out more about the accident and also to confirm if the boy in the picture was Kyuhyun.
Sungmin left a small note and pasted it on the fridge, telling them that he went out for a while. Sungmin quietly left the house alone. In his hurried state, he did not notice the figure standing near the door, wondering where Sungmin was going.
I will find out the truth. Sungmin promised.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.