The figure stared at the door for a while after Sungmin left. He seemed to be contemplating whether to follow Sungmin or not. He wondered over to the computer which Sungmin was sitting at before leaving the house. He had lied awake the previous night, thinking about Kyuhyun. He heard someone using the computer, but had just categorised it as another person who couldn’t sleep like him. It was only when he gave up the pretence of sleeping that he found out that the person was Sungmin. What is Sungmin-hyung doing up so late? He wondered, but concluded that perhaps Sungmin was just like him and did not disturb Sungmin, although he wanted to find out about Sungmin’s uncharacteristic actions at Kyuhyun’s place.
It was only in the morning that Kibum decided to confront Sungmin. However, when Kibum went to the door, Sungmin was already heading out of the dorm. Kibum was now officially curious. Why is he going so early? Kibum wandered to the computer which he knew Sungmin was using during the early morning. He would have followed Sungmin out, but he had a shooting later today. There was nothing out of the ordinary at the computer desk. Kibum wondered what Sungmin did in front of the computer the whole night. Kibum was already puzzled with Sungmin’s behaviour at Kyuhyun’s room. What did he see in the drawer that made him freeze? Kibum did not need to be the most observant to realise that Sungmin was acting weird. I will find out when he gets back.
Sungmin rushed out of the house, knowing that it would take him some time to reach the address his mother gave him. Sitting in a cab, Sungmin was nervous. He did not know what he wanted to get out of the meeting. All he knew was that he wanted to know who the other boy featured in the news article was. Please don’t let it be who I think it is. He fiddled with his fingers the whole ride, anxious. When he finally arrived in front of the house, Sungmin was afraid to press the door bell. He was afraid that he might be opening a Pandora’s Box that would make matters worse, which none of them needed at this time. He paced up and down the front door, trying to gather the courage to press the door bell. The decision was taken from him.
The door opened, and a lady walked out. She was shocked to see someone pacing up and down her door.
“Erm, excuse me?”
Sungmin paused, turning to the lady. He gulped before answering the lady. Sungmin explained to the lady, Mrs Kang that he was her friend’s son and that he had a few questions to ask her. Sungmin took out his wallet from his pocket, fishing out a photo of all thirteen of them.
“Do you know any of them?” Sungmin passed the photo to Mrs Kang.
She studied the photo, staring at the faces carefully. Sungmin was studying her reaction. He noticed her eyes flickered to him when she saw him in the photo, before continuing in her scan. Sungmin knew the moment she recognised another person.
“That’s Kyuhyun!” She exclaimed pointing at the picture.
Sungmin felt his heart sink.
“Do you know him?”
“Yes, I do. Who could forget that boy?”
“Mrs Kang, would it be possible to tell me about him?”
“Erm, why do you want to know?”
“I’m his team mate in Super Junior.” It was obvious from her stare that she didn’t quite know who Super Junior was. “We’re in the same band.”
“Oh. Okay. Why not you come in and have a seat? Sorry about the mess though, as we’re preparing to move house.” Mrs Kang invited Sungmin in.
As they sat down around the coffee table, Mrs Kang asked Sungmin.
“How is he doing these days?”
“Erm, he’s recovering from injuries he received in a car accident two months ago.”
“Car accident?” Mrs Kang’s eyes widened.
Sungmin just nodded. Mrs Kang took a few moments to control her emotions before speaking.
“Kyuhyun’s my son’s best friend, although he’s younger. He had always been quiet, unlike my son who was so outspoken. It’s a wonder they were such good friends. He never talked much when he came over. But it was hard to forget his presence. Although he tried to hide behind my son, there was this aura about him that makes you notice him. He’s like a little boy who needs protection. He never stayed for dinner. Every time when I asked him to stay for dinner, he would always decline, saying that his mother was waiting for him at home.”
Mrs Kang drifted off, remembering the times Kyuhyun said that.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, do you want to stay for dinner?” Mrs Kang asked.
Kyuhyun was observing her children setting the table. There was a look of yearning in his eyes as he stared.
Kyuhyun snapped his attention back to her.
“Oh, it’s okay. I’ll be going home for dinner. My mother is waiting for me.”
Kyuhyun gently rejected, heading towards the door.
“Thank you for your hospitality.”
Kyuhyun said as he left.
Mrs Kang shook herself out of her memories when Sungmin asked tentatively.
“Is it possible to tell me about the accident?”
Mrs Kang stared, not expecting this question.
“We want to know him more. Ever since the accident, we discovered that we really don’t know him well. We want to help him. But we have no basis to start with. Please.”
Mrs Kang stared at Sungmin, scrutinising him to discern his actual purpose. After a long while, she seemed to be convinced that Sungmin was truly concerned.
“They went out to celebrate Kyuhyun’s birthday, though it was one day early…”
Jong Ki ran out of the house shouting goodbye to Mrs Kang. She hoped that they had a happy celebration. The poor boy looked like he needed it. Kyuhyun was always so serious and she thought that it was the day for him to relax. She never suspected that it was going to be a day she would never forget.
The whole family rushed to the hospital. They were directed to the Emergency Department surgery room. They caught sight of Kyuhyun sitting on the bench. He was hunched on the chair, staring at his hands.
Jong Ki’s brother immediately asked what happened. All he got from Kyuhyun was “I’m sorry.” Kyuhyun kept repeating it, never looking up once. Mrs Kang kneeled down in front of him and reached forward to hold his hands. What she didn’t expect was for Kyuhyun to snatch his hands out of her grip, as if there was something dirty in his hands.
“Kyuhyun-sshi?” Mrs Kang retracted her hands, not wanting to add to his fear.
“Can you tell me what happened?”
“He saved me from the car that headed towards us.” Kyuhyun’s eyes remained down, refusing to look up at Mrs Kang.
The family was shocked. Before any of them could react, the light went off at the surgery door. The family rushed to the doctor. Seeing the doctor’s face, they could almost guess.
“I’m sorry. We did our best. You should go in to see him.”
Mrs Kang collapsed onto her husband, not willing to believe it. Mr Kang whispered to her.
“Let’s go see him.” The three went into the room, leaving Kyuhyun alone outside.
“My son couldn’t take the fact his younger brother died and pushed the blame onto Kyuhyun-sshi. He screamed at him when we got out of the room. My husband stopped my son, saying that it was not Kyuhyun-sshi’s fault. Just then, a woman came and called for Kyuhyun. I suspect it was Kyuhyun’s mother. They left together. The woman seemed to be berating him. Throughout the whole thing, Kyuhyun never spoke once. It was only then that I noticed the blood on his shirt. That was the last time I saw him.”
Mrs Kang’s tears rolled silently down her face as she recalled that day. She regretted not chasing after Kyuhyun. The woman did not make any attempt to comfort Kyuhyun or even look remotely concern for him. Any parent would after learning their child was involved in an accident. But that woman looked angry in fact. She always wondered what happened to Kyuhyun after the accident.
Sungmin was absorbed in his thoughts after listening to the tale. It was him in the picture. Sungmin hated his instinct. Why did it have to be true? He could not fathom how Kyuhyun coped with the death of his best friend on top of his problems at home. And no one knew. Kyuhyun did not cry when he was sitting on the bench. He did not cry when his best friend’s brother accused him. He did not cry when he learned that his best friend was dead. He did not let anyone know about his hurt and pain. Sungmin’s tears glistened in his eyes, refusing to fall. How much had Kyuhyun hidden from the world?
“Oh. Hold on a second. Let me get something.” Mrs Kang stood up suddenly, wiping her tears away. She hurried away and disappeared up the stairs.
Sungmin took the time to compose himself. It was horrifying to know that such a thing happened. Somehow, he could understand Kyuhyun’s clinging onto Eeteuk after his nightmare. The accident must have brought back the memories. He wondered if any of the members knew about it, however vaguely. To think it happened after his birthday celebration.
Mrs Kang walked down, holding a box in her hands. Sungmin looked at it puzzled.
“Here. Could you pass it to Kyuhyun-sshi for me?”
Sungmin took the box, staring at it.
“It belonged to Jong Ki. I think Kyuhyun needs it more than we do. There’s also a letter which Jong Ki had wrote for Kyuhyun but never had the chance to give him.”
Sungmin nodded, standing to thank Mrs Kang for her hospitality. She walked him to the door, saying, “I’m glad he has such good friends. Tell him that I’ve missed him.”
Sungmin promised to relay the message. As he was wearing his shoes, a voice stopped him.
“Erm, do you know where I can find him?” It was a man’s voice.
Sungmin looked up to see a rather tall and handsome guy looking at him.
“Hi, I’m Jong Ki’s brother.”
Sungmin was taken aback. This was the guy who accused Kyuhyun? But he looks so gentle! At the thought that here was a guy who blamed Kyuhyun when it was obviously not his fault, Sungmin could feel anger bubbling up in him. Seemingly noticing that the guy in front of him was angry, Jong Ki’s brother continued.
“I just want to apologise to him my actions those years ago. I never saw him again after that day. I knew that it was not his fault.” Sungmin stared, realising that the guy was truly sorry. He gave in, writing down Kyuhyun’s address, but not without a warning.
“If you ever dare to hurt him again, I will not let you off. I promise you that.”
With that Sungmin bowed to Mrs Kang and left.
Sungmin thought about what he found on his way home. Okay. First I found out that Kyuhyun’s best friend was Kang Jong Ki, who was my mother’s friend’s son. Second, Kang Jong Ki died about four years ago in a car accident, saving Kyuhyun. Third, it was after his birthday celebration. Four, his best friend’s brother accused him of causing Jong Ki’s death. Five, I never knew all that.
Sungmin’s mind was swirling with all the facts he learned today. Perhaps it was the reason he never volunteered his birth date to us until we asked. Kyuhyun had joined them in their training only after his birthday and earlier in the year they had missed his birthday. It was only when Eeteuk asked that they found out. How come we never noticed something was wrong?
Kibum was waiting at the living room for Sungmin. He had rushed back from his filming, wanting to catch Sungmin. But it turned out that Sungmin was still not back yet. It was a good thing that the rest had work to do, especially Eeteuk. If not, Eeteuk would most probably be pacing around the room, wondering where Sungmin had disappeared to. Not that Kibum was not wondering where Sungmin went. As he was about to reach for his phone to call Sungmin, the door opened. In came the person Kibum was looking for.
Kibum called out. As Sungmin looked up, surprised that anyone was home, Kibum was shocked to see the sadness on Sungmin’s face.
“Hyung! What happened?” Kibum rushed up to Sungmin, guiding him to the sofa.
Sungmin just gave Kibum an exhausted smile. His mind was tired from all that he had learned that day. Kibum looked even more worried at that smile. What had made the usual cheery Sungminnie smile like that? Kibum went to the kitchen and came out with a cup of hot chocolate during which Sungmin had placed the box Mrs Kang gave on the table. He placed it into Sungmin’s hand. Sungmin savoured the warmth from the cup, hoping to be engulfed by it.
“Hyung, do you want to tell me what happened?”
Sungmin stared at his cup, not wanting to answer the question. Kibum understood his need for keeping silent and changed the topic.
“Hyung, what did you see in Kyuhyun’s drawer?” Kibum asked, not knowing that it was linked to what Sungmin had not wanted to say.
Sungmin drank from the cup before speaking. He needed to share the news he learned with someone and Kibum was sitting right here next to him.
“I found a picture of Kyuhyun and his best friend. The friend looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember where I saw him before. So last night, I searched the internet for information. You see, there was a caption on the picture that said “Jong Ki & Kyuhyun”.”
Kibum nodded. “What did you find?”
Sungmin stood up, still holding to the cup, and walked to the computer. He switched it on.
“Let me show you.”
Sungmin sat on the chair while Kibum stood behind him. The two waited in silence, one wondering whether he should be telling the other, and the other almost dreading what he would be shown. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity for both, the computer was ready for use. Sungmin quickly loaded the page he was reading and turned the seat over to Kibum. Kibum looked curiously at Sungmin before taking the place in front of the computer. He began reading the article. His eyes widened as he read more and more. He turned disbelieving to Sungmin when he was done with the article.
“Is he the same person in that photo you saw in Kyuhyun’s room?”
“Does that mean the friend saved was Kyuhyun?” Nod.
Kibum’s mouth dropped open. “But, but, but…”
“It turned out that Kang Jong Ki was my mother’s friend’s son. I went out in the morning after I got the address from my mother. I wanted to check if my suspicions were true. Kang Jong Ki died saving Kyuhyun after they went out for a birthday celebration for Kyuhyun.”
“What? But I thought he’s birthday was on February 3rd.”
“They celebrated it a day early.”
Kibum was now in total shock. His mind had stopped functioning.
Just then, the door opened.
“I’m back!” Heechul exclaimed to the world that he was home. Behind him were the rest of the members. They had decided to congregate at this dorm for dinner.
Sungmin quickly kicked Kibum’s chair, turning him to face the computer. Kibum snapped out of his daze and quickly exited the page. They did not wait the rest finding out yet. Especially Eeteuk-hyung. Sungmin suddenly remembered the box and turned to the table. Thankfully, some of the members went to their rooms to change while others went to bug Hankyung about dinner. Sungmin quickly took the box and hid it in his room. Sungmin gave Kibum a stare that said that they would continue the talk later tonight. Kibum nodded, showing that he got the message. But their talk would come only much later.
After dinner, they all settled in the living room, each finding a comfortable spot. Eeteuk sat on the sofa next to Kangin. Heechul was next to Siwon on the other sofa. The rest all sat on the floor hugging a pillow, or in Sungmin’s case his rabbit, and in a circle. Eeteuk looked around to check if everyone was comfortable before starting.
“Kyuhyun said that he didn’t tell us his release from hospital because he knew we would bring him back. He didn’t want to burden us.”
“What?” This incited a whole lot of protest from the rest.
“But he’s not a burden!”
“I know. When I asked him to repeat, he told me that he thought he would recover better at home.”
“As if.” That came from Heechul. Siwon shushed Heechul, letting Eeteuk continue.
“I told him that he was never and will never be a burden. And that we will be able to take care of him.”
Eeteuk paused, remembering Kyuhyun’s reaction.
“I could tell that he refused to believe my words fully, despite wanting to. I told him that the only reason why he went home was to see his mother. He nodded. I tried to reassure him that we will be there for him no matter what, but he didn’t trust me. He said, ‘I just want her to care about me for once.’”
Everyone stewed over the sentence. It spoke of Kyuhyun’s wish for his mother’s love. It spoke of the neglect Kyuhyun had grown up with. It spoke of the little child that was still present in Kyuhyun. A child that had always been hidden from view.
“That was why I let him stay. I made him promised that he would call at least one of us every night. Even if it was just to say good night. So, make sure that all your phones are switched on all the time and to charge your phone.”
Eeteuk said the last sentence looking at everyone’s eyes, making sure that everyone understood. They all nodded.
Kangin shook his head mentally. They really had a lot of things to clear with Kyuhyun. It was a wonder how Kyuhyun managed to turn out like who he was. Kangin had trusted Eeteuk’s decision to let Kyuhyun returned home, and now he knew that he would have done the same as well, however reluctantly.
Heechul wanted to throttle the mother. He wanted to throttle Kyuhyun as well, then hug him and tell him to never say or think that he was a burden. We will always be there for you. Do not doubt us. Heechul wanted to say that to Kyuhyun right now and then. Heechul vowed to repeat for as many times as it took to drill it into Kyuhyun’s head.
Hankyung reminded himself to charge his phone. It was low on battery. Now he understood why Eeteuk gave in to Kyuhyun’s wish. Hearing the usually strong and independent boy wish for a mother’s love, no one would be able to reject him. But I’m going to make sure that he is fine and getting better the whole time he is there. If not, I’m going to remove him from the house. I don’t care about his mother’s love. Not that it’s worth anything.
Siwon promised that he would spend more time with Kyuhyun, as well as the rest of them. Never would Kyuhyun feel neglected again.
Yesung unconsciously clenched the pillow tighter. Yesung promised to discuss his feelings with Kyuhyun. Although his neglect was on a different level as compared to Kyuhyun, it might help to know that Kyuhyun was not alone. Sometimes, that was all one needed to heal.
Shindong stared blankly. He even doubts Eeteuk-hyung’s words. He wondered what he could do for Kyuhyun when Kyuhyun doubted Eeteuk’s words. No one doubts Eeteuk.
Donghae leaned on Eunhyuk’s shoulder. He didn’t know that that was what Kyuhyun thought of himself – a burden. It must been his mother who said it to him. Donghae officially hated the mother. He had never felt such a strong negative emotion for anyone before. Father, please tell me what I should do. I really don’t know.
Eunhyuk sat still as Donghae leaned on him. On some level, Eunhyuk was thankful for the accident. It brought to light issues that they had never noticed before. Were we not observant enough? Did we also neglect him? Or are his acting skills that great? We never did anything to reassure him even after we promised to. We are horrible.
Ryeowook stared at his pillow on his lap. He couldn’t say that he understood why Kyuhyun felt the way he did. But he understood one thing – that no matter how much they loved him, it would not stop Kyuhyun’s hope for his mother’s love. Unless we could convince him that we really love him.
Sungmin clenched his rabbit tightly. If he wanted his mother to care for him once, does it mean that no one comforted him after his best friend’s death? How did he cope? Sungmin could not imagine. After hearing about the accident, Sungmin already needed to confide in someone. How could a fifteen-year-old cope with the grief and the guilt that I’m sure he has?
Kibum could almost hear Kyuhyun’s voice saying that he only wanted his mother to care for him once, with a child-like tone in it. Sometimes when Kyuhyun was with Kibum alone, Kyuhyun would ask him about his family in America, and whether he missed them. At first, Kibum thought that the new kid was weird. But slowly Kibum realised that speaking of his yearning for his parents to Kyuhyun helped ease him missing them. Kyuhyun simply sat by his side, listening quietly, never judging. Kibum would also tell Kyuhyun some stories of his life in America, and Kyuhyun would soak up all his words, although it was not the most exciting life one could have led. But now Kibum realised it was because Kyuhyun had never experienced those before. That will change. I promise.
They were all absorbed in their thoughts, when a ring cut through the silence.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
In an instant, everyone was scrambling for their phones. It didn’t matter that the ring tone was unique and probably belonged to only one of them.
Everyone turned to stare at the person.
“Why are you hanging out with that weird guy?”
“What weird guy?”
“You know, that one with the mother who is as old as your sister.”
“Oh. That weird guy. ‘Cos my parents told me to. Apparently his father is some rich diplomat. Whatever that is. I really don’t like him. It’s hard pretending to.”
“He’s so quiet that you wonder if he was mute.”
The other boy shrugged. “Wouldn’t know. He never spoke in class at all. Even the teachers don’t call on him. Talk about special treatment.”
Their voices became softer as they walked further away from the classroom Kyuhyun was hiding in.
Kyuhyun walked out into the hallway wanting to confirm what he heard. But he was left standing in the middle of the hallway alone. It was the way it was in the prestigious private elementary school. Even at the young age of seven, the children were already playing politics. Kyuhyun had always been smart. He knew that everyone had their hidden agenda. But this was the first time it was said out loud to Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun went home crying that night, hoping that his mother or father would comfort him. But he was met with screams and shouts at each other from his parents.
“What did you just say?”
“I said I’m going to move out of the house tomorrow.”
“I can’t stand living with you and that boy. One is always shouting at god-knows-what, and the other is always crying!” His father turned to him.
“See! He’s crying again! Are you sure he’s my son?”
“What do you mean ‘are you sure he’s my son?’”
“Whatever. I don’t care right now. I’m leaving. I’ll be back tomorrow to take my things. You can have the house.” His father turned to leave.
“What? You can’t just leave your wife and kid!”
“For your information, you’re not my wife. I’m not even sure that that’s my kid. So yes. I can just leave. I’m already nice enough to leave you the house.” With that, his father left. That was the last time Kyuhyun had saw his father face-to-face. His mother screamed at him.
“Stop crying this instant! Why are you such a cry baby? You’re seven for god’s sake. Argh! Get out! I said get out! This is all your fault.!”
Kyuhyun sat up suddenly on his bed, panting. He raised a hand to wipe off the sweat from his forehead. This was the incident that triggered Kyuhyun’s distrust in anyone who made friends with him readily. From then on, Kyuhyun never introduced his father to his so-called friends. Kyuhyun wanted to expose the fact that he knew, but because he craved for some human interaction, instead of the cold dreary house he faced every day, Kyuhyun willingly let him be a victim of the politics. He could not help but hope with every new friendship that they became friends with him because he was him, only to have in thrown and stomped on time and time again. It was only when he met Jong Ki that he experienced true friendship. But it was not to last. That time, his heart was totally crushed.
For days he had been having these recurrent nightmares of memories he thought he had long forgotten – the times he spent with Jong Ki and his family, the times at school, the time when his father was still around. He had wanted to start a new life without his past, without all the bad experience. That was why he jumped at the chance offered by SM Entertainment. He really had no idea what he was joining until he was introduced to the rest. Kyuhyun promised himself to be a new ‘Kyuhyun’, but upon seeing twelve older guys – in spite of some who seemed to act younger – Kyuhyun was frightened back into his mask. He could still remember the times when he was ganged up by boys who were older.
Kyuhyun thought that he had left them all behind when he was thrown out of the house. Then why am I back now? Kyuhyun questioned himself. Why did he come back to his mother after being through out. It had just been slightly over a year since the day he was thrown out. It was the day he told his mother that he was going to be a singer. She was right once again. I did come back to her. Kyuhyun stared at his lap. He was confused. On one hand, he wanted to prove to his mother that he could do it without her help, but on the other hand, he wanted his mother to care for him. But aren’t they contradicting? Kyuhyun really didn’t know what he wanted. Or rather he knew what he want, but felt that he had to give up one for the other. It was a choice he did not want to make.
The elephant on Kyuhyun’s lap seemed to stare back at him. He reached over to pull it to his chest. Kyuhyun leaned against the head rest, hugging the elephant. It was at these times that his desire to be back at the dorm amplified. At the dorm, there were people around for him to stare at, to remind him that he was living in a different time from before. Here, there was nothing but silence and more silence. He wondered what it would be like to be comforted after a nightmare.
He looked at the clock. 3.14 am. He had slept for about ten hours. It was a record for him. Normally, even before the accident, he managed an average of six or seven hours of sleep every day. It decreased after the accident. Kyuhyun was slightly amazed, though he didn’t know why he was able to sleep for so long. But he knew that he was not about to fall back to sleep soon. He didn’t want to remember anymore things. Kyuhyun got up and washed up. He decided to spend his day downstairs, so that he was able to be in the garden.
Night came too soon for Kyuhyun. He didn’t want to go back to his room. Although it was the room he grew up in, Kyuhyun felt that it was the dorm that gave him warmth. He settled in his bed, reaching to the bag to take out the elephant. Kyuhyun stared at the blue blanket, his hand hovering over it as if to take out the blanket. He wanted to, but somewhere in his heart, he wanted to keep the blanket free from all the bad things that occurred in the house. He wanted the blanket to represent warmth, just like his hyungs. He wanted it to belong to Super Junior, and it only belonged in the Super Junior Dorm, not in his house. Kyuhyun settled for holding the elephant.
Kyuhyun sat on the bed, refusing to close his eyes. He knew what was waiting for him the moment he closed his eyes. He looked around his room, hoping to find something to occupy his time. His laptop was still at the dorm, so he could not play games the way he did at the dorm when he could not sleep. Then his eyes fell on the phone. Eeteuk-hyung told me to call them every night. Kyuhyun suddenly remembered the promise. He grabbed the phone from the bedside table and flipped it open.
Kyuhyun stared at it for a while. It was the same thing. Kyuhyun wondered if he should call them. Technically it still was not too late to call them as most of them would still be awake. Even though Eeteuk had made Kyuhyun call – meaning that none of them minded – Kyuhyun still wondered if Eeteuk meant the promise. Other people’s promises did not mean much to Kyuhyun. But Kyuhyun gave a lot of effort to make sure that he kept all his promises. He didn’t want anyone to feel the pain when another person broke the promise. Okay. So I’m going to call. Kyuhyun plucked up his courage and made to dial. Then Kyuhyun faced another dilemma. Who should I call? Once again, Kyuhyun shut his phone. He thought hard about who he should call. Kyuhyun really didn’t know. He didn’t know their schedule so he was not sure when they would be free. He did not want to interrupt them if they were at work. After a long self-debate, Kyuhyun flipped his phone open again. He stared at it, his finger moving slowly to press the speed dial. Kyuhyun watched as the call connected.
“Hello? Kyuhyun, is that you?”
“Oh. Okay. No its fine. Yes. Goodbye.”
Shindong hung up the phone and looked up to see everyone staring at him.
Everyone nearly fell to the ground. Wrong number?
Just then another phone rang. This time, since everyone was holding on to their phone, the call was picked up immediately.
“Erm, hi Hankyung-hyung. Did I disturb you?”
Hankyung shook his head. Everyone sighed and sat down thinking that Hankyung was telling them that the call was from someone else. It was a false alarm again.
“No you’re not. How are you?”
“I’m fine hyung. I’m just keeping my promise to Eeteuk-hyung.”
“You do know that you can call anytime even without the promise.”
There was a pause before Kyuhyun replied.
Hankyung sighed. It was hard to convince Kyuhyun face-to-face. It was even harder to do it over the phone.
“Do you want to talk to Teukie?” Eeteuk’s head snapped to Hankyung. Huh?
“Hold on.” Hankyung handed his phone to Eeteuk.
“Kyuhyun!” Eeteuk shouted into the phone, attracting everyone’s attention.
It was then they realised that it was not a false alarm. It really was Kyuhyun. Immediately everyone rushed to surround Eeteuk and Hankyung, all eager to talk to Kyuhyun. Eeteuk was trying hard to keep the phone to himself when someone whistled. That stopped everyone’s actions.
“I think since Kyu asked for Eeteuk-hyung, we should just let Eeteuk-hyung speak first.” This suggestion came from the ever sensible Siwon.
The rest looked at Siwon then back to Eeteuk before nodding and returning to their seats, some pouting.
“Oh. Sorry Kyuhyun. They were fighting over the chance to talk to you.”
Eeteuk could hear a little surprise in Kyuhyun’s voice.
“You should see them. They’re like barbarians!” Eeteuk said it exaggerating.
“What? Don’t you believe your hyung?”
“Hmph. Fine. Be that way.”
Kyuhyun smiled slightly. He could almost picture Eeteuk pouting into the phone. Kyuhyun yawned. Hearing his hyungs’ voices made him feel sleepy. They emitted warmth and comfort that took away his fears of the nightmares, though some remained.
“Kyu? Are you tired?” Eeteuk heard the yawn over the phone.
“Then go to sleep. I’ll tell the rest for you.” Eeteuk knew that Kyuhyun must be really tired as usually he would be the last one to admit it.
The rest looked as if they wanted to protest as they all wanted to speak to Kyuhyun. But Eeteuk ignored them.
“K hyung. Could you tell everyone that I’ll call them? Good night.”
“Yes I will. Good night Kyu.”
Eeteuk waited till Kyuhyun hung up the phone before doing the same. He passed the phone back to Hankyung.
“Well. What did he say?” Kangin asked impatiently.
“He said he was tired.”
Tired? But he never admits that he’s tired! That was the thought that ran through Kibum’s head. Kyuhyun was one who gave his all, sometimes even more, to all his work be it practice or performances. But not once did Kyuhyun admit he was tired.
“He also said that he will call each of you some other time. So please make sure that your phones are switched on all the time.”
Everyone nodded; delighted that Kyuhyun would be calling them, although technically they could call Kyuhyun as well.
“Okay. That’s enough for the night. It’s time for bed. We still have to work tomorrow.” Eeteuk clapped his hands and stood up, chasing everyone to bed. Those who belonged to the other dorm bid the rest good night before leaving. Throughout all these, Kibum and Sungmin forgot about the conversation they were supposed to continue.
Kyuhyun stared at his phone after ending the call. The yawns came more frequently. Placing the phone on the table, Kyuhyun buried himself into the blanket, hugging the elephant.
I hope I can sleep longer tonight.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Kyuhyun sat on the sofa with a book in his hand. He wasn’t paying attention to the book. His mind kept drifting. For the past few days, Kyuhyun spent his time reading, watching Super Junior’s performances, doing physiotherapy and training his vocals. He gave his best to the latter two, not wanting to be left behind by the rest. It was only when he was at home that he realised how much he had gotten used to the noise around him such that he could not stand the silence in the house. It was almost oppressing. To some extend, the noise meant that Kyuhyun was not alone. Kyuhyun disliked being alone. His mind always wandered when he was alone. And usually not in a good direction.
However, that was not the case today. Kyuhyun found his mind travelling to the calls he had with his hyungs. He found himself looking forward to calling his hyungs every day, even if some weren’t all that pleasant. He was never sure what he would say, but Kyuhyun just wanted to listen to his hyungs’ voices. They blocked the nightmares. At least for a while. There was still some part of his mind that believed that he was being a nuisance, calling them every day. Kyuhyun had requested a copy of their schedule from his manager. One was to keep track of their performances such that he could watch it, and two was to make sure that he never called them when they were busy. Kyuhyun did not want to disturb them at all. Kyuhyun lied down on the sofa, giving up the pretence of reading, as he remembered the calls.
“Kyuhyunnie!” Eunhyuk shouted into the phone, excited.
“I need you here! Donghae’s been winning on the games too often! He’s getting big-headed!”
Kyuhyun chuckled into the phone. He could almost picture Eunhyuk sulking at one corner after losing.
“I’m even losing to Kibum! And he never plays the game!” Eunhyuk whined into the phone.
Kyuhyun laughed. “Hyung. Kibum-hyung is brilliant at the games.”
“Why not you ask Hae-hyung to challenge Kibum-hyung?”
“Hmmm. Maybe I’ll do that. Thanks Kyu! You’re the best!”
“Kyuhyun! I’m glad you called! Have you eaten?”
“Let me tell you about the most heavenly thing I ate today. It was chocolate. But not the normal chocolate. It had dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate …”
“Siwon-hyung, are you busy?”
“Nope. I always have time for you Kyuhyun.”
Kyuhyun blushed on the other side of the phone.
“How was your day Hyung?” Kyuhyun wanted to know. He wanted to feel included in their lives and not just be a spectator. He did not want to watch only.
Siwon conceded to Kyuhyun’s request. “We went on a show today …”
“Hyung. I’m not disturbing you right?” Kyuhyun asked, hearing the tiredness in his hyung’s voice.
“Hyah. Of course. If you were, would I still be talking to you?” Heechul sat up on his bed, shaking the sleepiness out of his head.
Kyuhyun shook his head, not answering the question.
“Did you sleep well last night? Any nightmares?” Heechul decided to be direct. He had left the questions unanswered for too long.
“Hyung, I didn’t have any nightmares.” Technically Kyuhyun was not lying. He didn’t believe those to be nightmares. They were his memories.
“Kyu, I can tell when you’re lying.”
“Kyu, we can’t help you if you don’t let us.”
“Hyung. I’m not lying.” Kyuhyun protested weakly. He was not ready to share his memories with the rest.
“Kyu, we will always be there for you. Do not doubt us.”
Kyuhyun fell silent on the other side of the phone. He had no reply to that statement.
“Kyuhyunnie…” Heechul was getting frustrated. There was no progress if Kyuhyun refused to say anything.
“You must be tired Hyung. I’ll let you sleep. Good night.” Kyuhyun hung up the phone. Why am I running away from it? Kyuhyun stared at his phone.
Kyuhyun was shaken from his memory by Mdm Kim. He slowly sat up, giving a questioning look to Mdm Kim.
“Young Master, there’s a man outside looking for you. He claims he is your best friend’s brother.”
Kyuhyun snapped his head up. What? My best friend’s brother? But the only one who might come is…
“Young Master? Do you want to see him? If not I can chase him away.” Mdm Kim asked again.
Kyuhyun shook his head, indicating that he would go and see the person. Mdm Kim nodded and went to do her own things. Kyuhyun picked up one of his clutches and walked to the door.
It is Jong Ki’s brother.
The man looked up.
“Kyuhyun-sshi. Do you remember me?”
Kyuhyun was a little wary as their last meeting was still fresh in his mind. He nodded.
Jong Ki’s brother actually did come to apologise, but when he saw Kyuhyun at nearly the same age as his brother, his anger took over. He was reminded of the fact that Jong Ki would never grow old. He would forever remain eighteen. And yet, this boy in front of him did not seem to be suffering at all.
“I haven’t seen in for four years. How have you been? You must have been doing fine, seeing that you’re living at such a posh residence.”
Kyuhyun started to back away from him, sensing that something was wrong. Jong Ki’s brother grabbed him on the upper arm tightly.
“I hear you’re a singer. You must have a bright future. A future that my brother never had. A future that you took from him. If it weren’t for you, he would have been a brilliant doctor right now. He would be renowned throughout the world. It was you who ended his shine, his brilliance. And you don’t look the least bit remorseful.”
He had knocked away Kyuhyun’s clutches and pushed Kyuhyun up against the wall of his house. Kyuhyun gasped in pain as his back hit the wall. The pain was excruciating. Jong Ki’s brother hissed everything into Kyuhyun’s face, growing angry at the tears that rolled down Kyuhyun’s face.
“Why are you crying now? You didn’t cry when he died at the hospital. You didn’t cry at his funeral. You didn’t even attend his funeral. Some sort of best friend you are. You don’t even have the dignity to attend the funeral of the person whose death you caused. You don’t deserve to cry now. You don’t deserve to be called his best friend. Most importantly, you don’t deserve his friendship. You don’t deserve anything.”
Jong Ki’s brother said everything in a low tone staring directly into Kyuhyun’s eyes. Kyuhyun shuddered at the hatred that bored down on him. His mind kept repeating those words. It was a repeat of the accident again. The scenes flashed through his head.
“Hey! What are you doing?” A voice rang out from Kyuhyun’s left.
Jong Ki’s brother looked towards the voice before turning back to Kyuhyun.
“Remember what I said. You destroyed my brother’s life. No matter what you do, it will never be enough. Do you think your so-called friends will still be your friends when they know about what happened?”
He let go of Kyuhyun, who fell to the ground, his legs unable to support him. He turned and walked away, but not before leaving a few more words.
“Don’t ever come and find my family again. You’re not welcome.”
By then, the person who shouted had already reached them. Another person was behind him.
“Kyuhyun!” The person ignored Jong Ki’s brother and headed straight for the boy on the floor.
“Kyuhyun. Look at me. Kyuhyun.” Kyuhyun refused to look up.
“What did you do to him?”
“Just something he deserved.”
A punch hit him hard on the face. He fell to the pavement, his hand holding his split lips.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“I told you that if you ever dare to hurt Kyuhyun again, I will not let you off. Now do you want another taste of it? If not, scram.”
Jong Ki’s brother wiped the blood off his lips as he stood up. He glared before walking off.
Donghae had finally finished compiling the photos from Eeteuk’s surprised party. He had actually developed the photographs early, but did not have the time to compile them nicely. Now he had finally finished the photo album. Donghae had painstakingly labelled all the photos, writing tiny captions under every single one of them. He wanted to capture the moment as it was, and he wanted to share it with Kyuhyun. We should throw one too when he gets back. He placed the album into his backpack and left the room. He planned to use his break this afternoon to drop by Kyuhyun’s house. It had been a few days since they had seen him. And though Kyuhyun kept his promise to Eeteuk-hyung to call every night, it was not the same as spending time with him.
Donghae walked into the living room.
“Sungminnie, I’m going to visit Kyuhyunnie. Do you want to come as well?”
Sungmin was lounging on the sofa. He too had a break that afternoon. Immediately he sat up and nodded.
“I wanna go!” Sungmin rushed into his room, getting his bag with the box Mrs Kang gave him placed inside.
The two left the dormitory happy that they were going to see Kyuhyun.
As they were at the start of the street where Kyuhyun’s house was located, they saw two guys pinned against the wall. They looked at each other, wondering why two people were making out at a wall in the middle of the day when the sun was shining down so brightly. Their thoughts changed as they neared the pair.
It was Kyuhyun being pinned to the wall by another guy. And Kyuhyun looked scared.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Donghae shouted across, running towards the pair. Sungmin followed as well, eyes narrowing at the other man. They saw the man leaned into Kyuhyun, whispering some more words as Kyuhyun’s face twisted even more in fear. They sped up as Kyuhyun fell limply to the ground.
Donghae reached there first, opting to go to Kyuhyun instead of confronting the unknown guy.
“Kyuhyun. Look at me Kyuhyun.” Donghae reached out to touch Kyuhyun, but he flinched away at the contact.
“What did you do to him?” Donghae asked furiously, wondering who in the world this guy was standing in front of him.
“Just something he deserved.”
A punch caused that guy to fall to the pavement. Donghae was a little shock, but overall very pleased. A tight smile formed on his face before turning his attention back to Kyuhyun.
“Kyuhyunnie? I’m Donghae. Can you look at me?”
Sungmin was right behind Donghae. He however chose to stop in front of Jong Ki’s brother. He glanced worriedly at Kyuhyun when he saw Kyuhyun shied away from Donghae’s touch. He felt fury boiling in him.
“What did you do to him?” That was the exact question Sungmin wanted to ask.
“Just something he deserved.” He said it so righteously that Sungmin immediately saw red.
Sungmin threw a punch at him, hitting him directly on the face, causing the guy’s lips to crack. It calmed his rage a little when the guy fell to the ground.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” How dare he ask?
“I told you that if you ever dare to hurt Kyuhyun again, I will not let you off. Now do you want another taste of it? If not, scram.” Sungmin said in a dangerously low tone. It set a shiver down Jong Ki’s brother’s back. He gave one last attempt to intimidate Sungmin before leaving.
Good riddance. If it was not for the fact that Sungmin was more worried about Kyuhyun, he would have continued in his revenge. I will get it another day.
For now, Sungmin focused his attention on their youngest. Donghae had managed to touch Kyuhyun, but Kyuhyun did not allow Donghae to hug him. Sungmin kneeled down on the other side of Kyuhyun.
“Kyuhyunnie. Shall we go into the house?”
Kyuhyun nodded without looking up. He tried to get up but couldn’t. Pain shot through his lower back, which hit the wall just now. Kyuhyun let out a pained gasp. Donghae and Sungmin heard it and were immediately worried.
“Kyu. Where does it hurt? Is it your back?”
Kyuhyun nodded, eyes glistening with tears – both in pain and in fear.
“Kyuhyunnie, I’ll carry you back in okay? Then we can check what’s wrong.” Donghae wanted to ask for permission from Kyuhyun to carry him. He didn’t want to make Kyuhyun more fearful, especially seeing how he flinched away from a mere touch.
Kyuhyun nodded, wanting to get back to the comforts of the sofa and take his medicine. Donghae gently slid his arms around Kyuhyun, one going under Kyuhyun’s shoulder and the other under his knees. Donghae stood up slowly. Even so, Kyuhyun still let out a pained moan. Donghae and Sungmin were really worried now.
Donghae walked hurriedly but steadily into the house as Sungmin grabbed the clutches and closed the door behind him. They wanted to settle Kyuhyun down and find out what was wrong.
Please be alright.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Donghae walked quickly into the house, mindful not to jostle Kyuhyun. Sungmin had picked up Donghae’s bag which fell to the floor when Donghae rushed to Kyuhyun. It was obvious to both of them that Kyuhyun was in pain, despite his attempts to show a poker face. It didn’t help that the tear tracks were distinctly visible on Kyuhyun’s face, or that tears still escaped from his eyes. Sungmin ran into the house first, opening the door for Donghae to walk through with no obstruction. Sungmin knew it was rude to enter someone’s house without permission, but right now, Sungmin could not be bothered with etiquette. Mdm Kim came out of the kitchen, shock to see her young master being carried in by his friends.
“Young Master! What happened?”
“Should we carry him to the bed or sofa?” Sungmin asked Donghae, not answering Mdm Kim’s question.
Donghae looked at Kyuhyun, then at the stairs, and back to Kyuhyun. He was considering whether it would hurt more to carry Kyuhyun up the stairs. Mdm Kim took the decision out of their hands.
“Follow me. Bring him to the spare bedroom downstairs. It’ll be more comfortable than the sofa.”
Mdm Kim led them to the spare bedroom, opening the door for Donghae. The room was sparsely decorated, with a queen sized bed placed in the centre of the room. It was obvious that it was a guest room that was not often in use. However, it didn’t matter to them at the moment. Even if the room was decorated elaborately, none of them would have noticed anything. Donghae walked to the bed, gently placing Kyuhyun in the centre of the bed. Kyuhyun’s eyes were shut tight as he was transferred from Donghae to the bed.
“Mdm Kim, do you know where his medicine is?” Donghae turned towards Mdm Kim.
She nodded and immediately left the room. Donghae then turned to Sungmin who was hovering behind him.
“Hyung, should we call a doctor?”
Sungmin looked with worried eyes at Donghae. “I don’t know. Maybe we should. I’ll go call now.”
Sungmin began digging through his bag, looking for his phone.
A weak voice laced with pain came from the bed. Kyuhyun had opened his eyes halfway and was looking at Sungmin.
“Hyung. It’s okay. I don’t need a doctor. The pain just caught me unsuspectingly.” Kyuhyun tried to reassure his hyungs with a smile. But it was apparent that the smile was forced.
“Kyuhyun…” Donghae started, but was interrupted by Mdm Kim’s entrance.
“Here. The medicine. And water.”
Sungmin thanked her as he took the medicine from her. He looked through it, knowing that there should be pain killers somewhere.
“Kyuhyun, you should see a doctor. You’re still recovering.” Donghae continued his unfinished sentence. He reached out to hold Kyuhyun’s hand, only to grab air as Kyuhyun snatched his hand back.
“Kyu?” Donghae was shaken.
Kyuhyun shook his head slightly, refusing to see a doctor. Sungmin sighed at his stubbornness.
“Can you sit up a little to eat the pain killers?”
Kyuhyun nodded glad that he didn’t need to see a doctor. Donghae and Sungmin moved to help him sit, pausing when Kyuhyun flinched as they touched him. Slowly, their hands touched Kyuhyun. They could feel him trembling as they helped him up. Donghae shot a worried look at Sungmin over Kyuhyun’s head. He didn’t know whether Kyuhyun was trembling due to the pain – which was bad – or he was trembling with fear – of what? Donghae was not sure and was equally terrible. They let Kyuhyun lean against the head rest with a pillow placed behind his back. Donghae would have preferred that he be the head rest, but upon seeing how Kyuhyun had reacted to his touch outside, Donghae decided against it. Sungmin silently handed Kyuhyun two pills and the glass of water.
The room was filled with an uncomfortable silence as Donghae and Sungmin didn’t know how to approach the topic and Kyuhyun refusing to say anything. Kyuhyun began to relax against the pillow as the pain killers took effect, but he was still tense. He was afraid what his hyungs would say. He wanted to forget that the incident occurred. He wanted to dig a hole and throw everything in. That was the way Kyuhyun dealt with his problems – by ignoring them. He knew in his mind that it was not the way to do it. He knew that one day the memories would hit him all at the same time. But it was the only way Kyuhyun knew how to deal with all the problems. There was no one for him when he was a child, no one for him to lean on, to count upon. In order to survive, Kyuhyun began to hide his problems. Because he had no one to lean on, Kyuhyun depended on himself from a young age. All these led to who he was today. However, no matter how he pretended that everything was perfectly fine in his life, Kyuhyun never once forgot the events that occurred.
Finally Donghae could not stand the silence and spoke up.
“Who was that guy?”
Donghae got a surprise when it was Sungmin who answered.
“It’s Jong Ki’s brother.”
Kyuhyun looked up sharply at Sungmin. How did he know?
“Who’s Jong Ki?” Donghae was totally confused.
“He was my best friend.” Kyuhyun spoke up.
Sungmin stared at Kyuhyun. He did not expect Kyuhyun to speak up, considering how he refused to tell them about his nightmares.
“Was?” Donghae asked, wondering what happened. I seem to be the only one confused around here.
“He died four years ago.”
Donghae didn’t know how to react to that. He thought that they had lost touch or something, but never that.
Kyuhyun felt the memories of that fateful day wash over him. He could still distinctly remember falling to the pavement and watching Jong Ki’s body hitting the pavement. He could remember the sound of the hit, the gasping, and his own crying.
“Hyung, don’t leave me.”
“Kyu, what did he want with you?” Sungmin’s voice interrupted his trip down the memory lane. Kyuhyun’s mind was blurry. The pain medicine made him drowsy.
“He just wanted to tell me that it was my fault that Jong Ki died.” Kyuhyun said, emotionlessly as if he was talking about someone else.
“What?” Donghae and Sungmin exclaimed unbelievably.
“He told me that I stole Jong Ki’s future from him, that I deserved nothing I’ve gotten. That I should have been the one who died. Not Jong Ki who had a caring family and a bright future. That it should have been me instead, me who have no one.” Kyuhyun continued tonelessly. Kyuhyun was shocked by what he revealed. He had not intended to say all that. He wanted to just say that nothing happened. But the pain medicine made him lose the tight control he had over his words.
Donghae and Sungmin could not believe what they heard. What? How could that guy say that? Donghae thought.
I should have done more than just punched him. I should have tied him and brought him back to Jungsu-hyung, Heechul-hyung, Youngwoon-hyung and Hankyung-hyung. Sungmin silently fumed.
Both did not know that only the first sentence was what Jong Ki’s brother had said. The rest was what Kyuhyun believed in. Kyuhyun still carried the blame on him and the guilt.
Kyuhyun was slowly losing his battle to consciousness.
“Hyung, can I go to my bed? I don’t like this bed.” Kyuhyun asked, pouting like a little kid deprived of his toy.
The medicine was really making Kyuhyun lose the tight lease on his emotions.
Kyuhyun yawned, waiting for an answer. Donghae wanted to question him more but Sungmin shook his head. Now was not the time to do it.
“Sure Kyuhyunnie. Hae will carry you to your room. You don’t hurt anymore, do you?”
Kyuhyun smiled a little and shook his head. He raised his arms, like a baby asking to be carried. Donghae chuckled, indulging him. Kyuhyun snuggled into Donghae, seeking the warmth.
Once again, Donghae carried Kyuhyun slowly up the stairs to his room. Sungmin grabbed their bags before following. Sungmin pulled the blanket off Kyuhyun’s bed, wondering slightly where the blanket he gave and the elephant was. It was always around at the hospital. Donghae gently place Kyuhyun down on the bed, giving him a kiss on the forehead as he did. Sungmin pulled the blanket up, tucking Kyuhyun in. Kyuhyun yawned again.
Sungmin and Donghae both smiled at that request. It was unusual to see Kyuhyun so child-like, although it was probably due to the pain medicine. But they wanted to see more of this side of Kyuhyun. Sungmin spotted the bag from the previous time and took out the elephant from it. Kyuhyun took it from Sungmin and buried it in his chest.
“Thank you Hyung. You’re the best.” Kyuhyun’s soft voice whispered before he fell asleep.
Happiness blossomed in their hearts. It was the first time Kyuhyun had said that to them. Perhaps it was the first step towards healing. They watched as Kyuhyun’s breathing slowed and stabilised. Donghae smoothed Kyuhyun’s hair, comforted by the fact that Kyuhyun was sleeping with a contented smile on his face.
“Shall we go? It’s getting late.” Sungmin said, although he wanted to stay. However, they both had things scheduled tomorrow. Donghae nodded reluctantly. He reached into his bag and took out the album. Pulling out a piece of paper from his bag, he wrote a note and placed it on top of the album which he left on the desk. Sungmin did the same with the box Mrs Kang gave him. It was after all meant for Kyuhyun, not matter how much he disliked the brother. Donghae tilted his head at the box with Sungmin mouthing the words “Not here”. They took one last look at Kyuhyun before leaving the room.
Donghae asked Sungmin what the box was on their way home. Seeing that Donghae had witnessed the incident with the brother – who still made Sungmin mad, Sungmin told him about the visit to Jong Ki’s house.
Donghae stared at Sungmin with his mouth open, almost willing Sungmin to suddenly laugh and say that it was all a joke. But Sungmin only reached to close his mouth with a serious expression. Donghae slowly digested the information in his head. He could understand the brother’s reaction for looking for something to blame at the sudden loss. Donghae had felt the same when his father died. However, he did not leash out at anyone. He didn’t believe that he would feel better after doing that. It would only make more people hurt. Even though Donghae could understand the reaction, it did not mean that he empathised with it. He too wished that he could have thrown a punch at that idiotic guy.
“What I want to know is that if anyone was around to support him then.” Sungmin spoke up, deciding that Donghae had enough time to digest the information.
Donghae nodded. “I wonder if he told anyone about the incident. Anyone at all. ‘Cos his mother does not seem like one who would sit down and listen to him, especially considering what Mrs Kang said about her reaction.” Donghae found himself growing frustrated at the conditions Kyuhyun grew up in. Though many might have considered growing up in a well-to-do family a good thing, Donghae believed that growing up surrounded by love was the best thing that overrode any others.
Sungmin nodded at Donghae’s words.
Suddenly Donghae remembered something.
“Hankyung-hyung knows. Ask him.”
It was something Kyuhyun had said when they were in the hospital after the horrifying episode.
“Hankyung-hyung might know something. Kyuhyun had said something about Hannie knowing something after the episode.”
Sungmin turned and looked at Donghae. There was no need to describe what happened. The narration of the incident was still fresh on his mind.
“We’ll ask him later today.”
“Oh. And bring Kibum into the conversation as well.”
“He was the first one I saw when I came home from Mrs Kang’s home.”
Donghae understood without Sungmin speaking. He understood the need to say it to someone after learning about such news. Donghae thought for a while.
“Are we going to tell anyone?”
“About Jong Ki. About the incident just now.”
Sungmin shrugged. He didn’t know as well. But he could imagine the chaos the dorm would be in if they learned about Jong Ki’s brother.
“Let’s talk to Hannie and decide later tonight. I don’t want to face Teukie-Umma’s wrath if he was to find out about it.” Donghae concluded.
They fell silent after that.
As they walked towards the building of their dormitory, Sungmin turned to Donghae wanting to say something. But the words flew out of his head when he saw the tears flowing down Donghae’s face.
“Hae? What’s wrong?”
Sungmin stopped Donghae in his steps, gently turning Donghae to face him.
Donghae looked up from the ground, sniffing a little.
Donghae took one step forward and hugged Sungmin. He hid his face into Sungmin’s hair.
“Why did such things happen to Kyuhyun? How come we never knew about it? How come he could grow up so strong and independent? Why did he not tell us anything before? How could that idiot blame him? Why does he keep everything in his heart? Are we not to be trusted? Why?”
Donghae cried out, crying for the past that he could not change, crying for the silent suffering Kyuhyun had endured.
Sungmin could feel the tears stinging in his eyes as he gently patted Donghae on the back. He too didn’t know the answer to the questions. All he could do was to let Donghae cry out all his frustration and pain. They stood in the middle of the path for a while, just hugging each other.
Soon Donghae’s cries dwindled to sniffles.
“Here, here. Don’t cry anymore.” Sungmin wiped the tears off Donghae’s face.
“Smile. You look best when you smile. And I’m sure you’ll make Kyuhyun smile with yours.”
Donghae gave a small smile at Sungmin’s words, sending his gratitude through the smile. Sungmin raised out his hand. Donghae grabbed onto it.
And they both walk hand in hand towards the dormitory, determined to create a better future together for them all.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Sungmin and Donghae stopped outside the door to their dorm. They looked at each other to make sure that all evidence that they cried before had been destroyed. Sungmin nodded, satisfied. They took a deep breath before entering the dorm.
Everyone was already in the dorm, waiting for them to be home.
“Where have you two been?” Eeteuk asked with a worried look on his face. “We tried calling your hand phones but none of you answered.”
Sungmin took out his hand phone from his pocket. The screen was blank.
“Sorry Hyung, my phone is flat.” Sungmin raised his phone sheepishly.
Donghae dug for his phone in his bag. It was buried all the way in such that he did not feel the vibrations at all. 4 missed calls. Oops.
Eeteuk sighed, already knowing the answer. “As long as you’re home. Come, let’s eat.”
Eeteuk ushered the two to the dining table.
It was a rather unusual dinner. Two of the usually noisy people were quietly having dinner, not joining into the conversation. It caught the attention of some of the more observant members. They wondered what had occurred that led to such silence. Sungmin and Donghae tried to act normally, but could not summon the energy to engage in any talk. They could not wait for dinner to end. They didn’t want to be under Eeteuk’s observation any longer. Donghae knew that Eeteuk would most probably be able to spot something wrong with them. They weren’t the best at hiding their emotions. Finally, after what seemed like eternity to Donghae and Sungmin, dinner was finally finished.
Sungmin wondered how they were going to get Hankyung and Kibum to a room to have their conversation.
“Bummie! Can you teach me how to play the new game?” Donghae dragged Kibum into his room, claiming to play a game with Kibum. It was a brilliant idea since Donghae loved to play the games. Donghae left Sungmin alone to think about how to get Hankyung into the room. Sungmin glared at Donghae for leaving him to deal with it. Sungmin fidgeted. He was not good at coming up with excuses. They tended to be nonsensical. Luckily for Sungmin, he was able to catch Hankyung alone in the kitchen washing up.
“Hyung, can you come to Donghae’s room later?”
Hankyung looked at Sungmin with questions in his eyes, but nodded. He wanted to know what the two was up to. They certainly weren’t acting like themselves during dinner. He hurried to finish washing the dishes.
Sungmin quickly went into Donghae’s room, not wanting to run into any of the other members. He shut the door so fast, causing the two who were sitting on the floor to look up sharply at him.
“He’s coming.” Sungmin said to Donghae, before claiming a seat next to Donghae.
Kibum looked curiously at his hyungs. “Who’s coming? And Hae-hyung, I thought you wanted to play a game?”
“Hannie is coming. And no. I bluffed you. Sorry.” Donghae explained to Kibum.
Now Kibum was a little worried. This was not customary behaviour from his hyungs. Normally they were always hyper and happy, though Kibum knew that they had their serious sides. But when they were serious, it meant that something important had occurred. Then there was a knock on the door. Hankyung walked in as all three focused their eyes on him. Hankyung gave a puzzled look at Kibum, wondering why Kibum was here as well. Both exchanged questioning glances as Hankyung sat down facing the door.
Silence reigned. Donghae and Sungmin didn’t know how to begin while Hankyung and Kibum didn’t know what was going on. They all waited for someone to break the silence.
“Hankyung-hyung, I’m going to tell you what the three of us already know.”
Kibum had a vague idea of where the conversation was heading. How did Donghae-hyung know about it?
Hankyung stared at Sungmin, knowing that it was a serious conversation.
“Did you know about Kyuhyun’s best friend?”
“Kyu’s? Are you talking about his friend who had died in a car accident?” Hankyung clarified.
Sungmin and Donghae exchanged a look. So he did know about it.
“What do you know about it?”
Hankyung was wondering where the conversation was leading to. “Only that his friend died in a car accident. I don’t know anything else.”
So Kyuhyun never did tell any of us. Donghae concluded. He wondered how Kyuhyun kept everything to himself, how he survived through the horror. Donghae could not have coped with his father’s death if not for the support of Super Junior and his family. And yet, Kyuhyun had no one at all.
Sungmin took a deep breath and started, “I found a picture of Kyuhyun and his best friend, Jong Ki, at his house. Jong Ki looked familiar to me, but I could not place where. So I search the internet. I found an article…”
Hankyung listened with his eyes opening wider and wider. Does it mean that he was there when Jong Ki had died?
“Come to think of it. It was near his birthday when he was so sad.” Hankyung suddenly realised. At that time, they had not known that Kyuhyun’s birthday was in February.
“It was February 2. And they had just celebrated his birthday.” Kibum added, feeling upset.
Hankyung’s mouth dropped open. What? Hankyung could not even begin to fathom what Kyuhyun felt then. He did not even know what he was feeling now. There was only numbness in him, as if his mind was trying to reject the information.
Kibum caught on to the fact that there was more to the story.
“Hyung, there’s more right?”
Donghae nodded slowly, remembering the scene he arrived in earlier that day. Both looked expectantly at him.
“We went to visit Kyuhyun. I wanted to give him an album while Minnie wanted to pass something Mrs Kang gave to Kyuhyun –” “What did Mrs Kang give Kyuhyun?” Hankyung cut in.
Sungmin shrugged. “I don’t know. It didn’t feel right to look at it.”
Hankyung nodded, allowing Donghae to continue.
“We saw Jong Ki’s brother holding Kyuhyun against the wall. I shouted out. That guy let Kyuhyun go. Kyu slid down onto the floor. We didn’t know what had happened between the two of them, at least not the actual conversation. I went to Kyuhyun, worried that he did not seem to have reacted to our presence. He flinched when I was about to touch him. That guy actually said that he was giving what Kyuhyun deserved! Can you believe him? Sungmin punched him. It must have felt good.” Donghae got increasingly angry as he related what happened to Hankyung and Kibum, igniting gasps from both of them as he spoke. Before they could react, Sungmin took up the narration.
“I punched him once and told him to scram, or else. I should have punched him at least another time, or tied him up. That was too easy on him.” Sungmin clenched his fist, wishing that he had done more damage.
Hankyung was shocked. It was rare that Sungmin got angry and punched someone. Not that he didn’t want to punch that idiot as well.
“For the whole time, Kyuhyun refused to look at Donghae. He stared blankly with tears flowing down his face. I didn’t want to ask about what happen at that place so I suggested that we talk in the house. Kyu tried to get up, but he was in pain.”
“I carried him into the house. It was obvious that he was in great pain despite trying to look as if everything was fine. He refused to let us call for a doctor. Sungmin-hyung gave him pain killers. As we were helping him up, he was trembling. I think it was a combination of pain and fear. I don’t know. We wanted to ask Kyu about what happened. But none of us knew how to start.”
“I think the pain killer made him lose the tight control he had over his emotions and thoughts. He told us that the brother accused him of killing Jong Ki and destroying Jong Ki’s future. That it should be Kyu who…”
Sungmin felt the words choke in his mouth.
“That it should have been Kyu who died instead of Jong Ki, because Kyu had no one.” Donghae completed the explanation.
Kibum stood up immediately, wrenching the door open. He stormed towards the main door as Donghae and Sungmin scrabbled behind him. Hankyung also stood up, with a pissed off look on his face.
“Bummie! Where are you going?” Donghae grabbed on to Kibum’s hand, stopping him in his motion.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m going to find that bastard.” Kibum hissed back, twisting his hand out of Donghae’s grip.
His hand was already turning the door knob when a voice stopped him.
“Do you even know where to find him?” Donghae pushed the door shut with his hand.
Kibum paused. “Hyung. Tell me.” Kibum turned to Sungmin, demanding an address.
Sungmin shook his head. He was not about to let Kibum do something he would regret later.
“Sungmin, tell us.” Hankyung spoke up from behind Sungmin, fury burning in his eyes. How dare he hurt Kyuhyun? How dare he accuse Kyuhyun of that?
Sungmin shook his head determined. Although he wanted to just storm to the house and create hell there, he could not risk hurting Kyuhyun with their actions. If Kyuhyun learned that they had done it for him, Kyuhyun, with his character, would believe that it was his fault.
“Sungmin.” Hankyung said in a low voice, sending shudders down Donghae’s back. He didn’t know Hankyung could be so frightening when enraged.
Sungmin stood his ground and stared back at Hankyung, hoping that his trembling was hidden properly. It was a battle of mental strength from then on.
“What are you four doing at the door?” A voice came from one of the rooms.
Kyuhyun woke up in sweat on his bed, twisted in his blanket. His hands were clenched tightly on the blanket, with the elephant on the floor. He could still distinctly hear the words Jong Ki’s brother had shouted at him.
Kyuhyun’s collar was grabbed with two hands by Jong Ki’s brother. Kyuhyun knew then that his best friend had left him.
“He’s dead. He’s dead. And it’s all because of you. Why did he have to save you? Why couldn’t he just stare at the car instead of reacting? Why did he die because of a boy whose father does not even acknowledge him? Why didn’t you react? It’s all your fault. He should never have made friends with you. With all the things being said about you, I knew that something was going to happen. Give Jong Ki back to me. Give him back. Give him back! Give him back!”
Jong Ki’s brother screamed out, lashing out as Mr Kang pulled him away from Kyuhyun, giving Kyuhyun an apologetic look. Kyuhyun did not see that. Only the words echoed in his head. The tears refused to fall from his eyes, no matter what. He had learned from young that he should only cry when he was alone, to never show any kind of emotion to anybody as they would always be used against him.
All Kyuhyun could do was to repeat ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again like a broken record.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…”
With his head facing the ground, one lone tear fell to the ground.
Kyuhyun wanted to get rid of the voice that kept echoing in his head. He covered his ears with his hands. But it didn’t help at all. The voice continued to accuse him of being a murderer. No I’m not. I’m not. I’m not. Or am I? Am I? I caused his death after all. No. Stop saying that! No I don’t want to believe you. No!
In his panic, Kyuhyun grabbed his phone and dialled, not caring that it was 3 am in the morning. His mind was not thinking clearly. All he wanted to was to silence the voice.
Ryeowook sleepily reached out to the sound. He patted around the table, trying to find his phone.
“Hello?” Ryeowook’s voice was muffled as he spoke into his pillow.
“Hello?” No reply.
“If you’re not going to speak, I’m going to hang up. Do you know that it’s 3 in the morning?”
Ryeowook was about to shift the phone away from his ears when he heard a soft, “Wookie-hyung?”
Instantly, Ryeowook’s eyes snapped open. Only one person called him that.
“Kyuhyunnie? Is that you?”
Ryeowook could hear a bit of fear in the voice. What happened?
Ryeowook waited patiently for Kyuhyun to speak. Ryeowook knew that if they force something on Kyuhyun, Kyuhyun would clam up with immediate effect.
“…Can you sing a song for me?” His answer was a slight whisper, as if Kyuhyun was ashamed of the request.
Ryeowook was taken aback. Of all things, Kyuhyun chose to ask him to sing to him.”
“It’s okay hyung if you can’t.” Kyuhyun added after hearing no answer from Ryeowook.
It was then that the singing started.
hey, do you remember?do you, do you remember?that day in spring when we first metcherry blossoms coloured the passing time pinkeverything was filled with a brand new scentlooking at each other’s eyes, we said a shy helloour gaze shifted, looking at the skythere was an aeroplane track leading to the futurehey, do you remember?do you, do you remember?that summer that we all fought hardthe burning sun, the deepening green of treesrewriting our limits daily, competing with each otherconnecting hearts, souls becoming onesmiling to conceal the sweat on our foreheadsyour sparkling smile, shining so brightlymany, many things happen in lifeevery day becomes a page of yesterdayI’d welcom the new tomorrow together with yougrowing little by littlegathering experiencethrough hardships, our bonds get strongerthe words I want to tell you noware words that you’d surely knowthey are…hey, do you remember?do you, do you remember?the day in fall we quarrelled over opinionsthe breeze that cooled our warm bodiesa lonely leaf that dances in the wind, painting a canvas browndigusted feelings, uncomfortable atmospherebecause we’re too innocent, we can’t help itlet’s have a fight, ‘cos we are friendshey, do you remember?do you, do you remember?that winter day when I was depressed and giving upwe walked quietly down the freezing street, side by sidenext to me, only your presence provided me warmthit is so tough, and yet tears cannot fallat times like this, just say nothing,connect our hearts, everything will be okaymany, many things happen in lifeevery day becomes a page of yesterdayI’d welcom the new tomorrow together with yougrowing little by littlegathering experiencethrough hardships, our bonds get strongerthe words I want to tell you noware words that you’d surely knowthey are…spring arrives againthe seasons keep changingla la la la la……
Kyuhyun listened intently to Ryeowook’s voice. It drowned out the voice in his mind, engulfing him in warmth. Kyuhyun could feel his eyes closing, slowly drifting off to sleep. As the song drew to an end, Kyuhyun mumbled a thank you and ended the call, sleeping with the song still resonating in his head.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.