Hankyung looked at Kyuhyun. He had a shy look on his face, as if it was embarrassing to ask such a question. Yet Hankyung was able to spot a bit of anticipation in his eyes. Kangin was a little reluctant to allow Kyuhyun to have dinner with the rest as he knew how tiring it could be with so many people. He didn’t want Kyuhyun to tire himself when he was still recovering from his illness.
"Are you sure you want to have dinner together? Do you feel well enough?" Kangin asked, not wanting Kyuhyun to strain himself unnecessarily.
Kyuhyun nodded. He really wanted to have dinner with his hyungs. It had been a long time since he had dinner with anyone at all. He was tired of sitting at the table facing the food and having no one to share with, of feeling lonely as he stared at the food. It didn’t matter to him that he was still not at his best, didn’t matter that he might be really exhausted after the dinner. All that mattered was being together with his hyungs again.
Kangin looked at the longing in Kyuhyun's eyes, and caved in. "Alright, but you'll have to rest first."
Kyuhyun smiled at them and nodded. Hankyung and Kangin felt their faces imitating Kyuhyun's, both glad to see a trace of happiness on their youngest magnae after all the stress in the past few days.
"Kyu, remember what I said to you that day at the hospital?"
Kyuhyun tilted his head at Hankyung. What words?
"That I'll cook whatever you want?" Hankyung reminded Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun actually did not forget those words. They were just floating around somewhere in his head because he didn’t really think that Hankyung meant it when he said that.
"Anything I want?"
"Anything." Hankyung replied.
Kyuhyun thought about it and listed out several dishes. "Fried rice, kimchi pancake, sushi, mushroom soup."
Hankyung nodded at the suggestions, they were relatively simple to make.
"Hyung, can I have chocolate cake for dessert?" Kyuhyun added softly. "It's okay if it's too troublesome. I can do away without it. Rea…"
"Nothing is too troublesome for you. Hannie will make it all for you." Kangin cut in, stopping Kyuhyun from going on about how they really did not have to listen to his requests.
Hankyung punched Kangin slightly on the shoulder. "That's easy for you to say. You're not the one cooking."
Kangin's exclamation was ignored as Hankyung turned to Kyuhyun.
"But really, what Kangin said is true. I'll make them all for you tonight."
"Then why did you hit me?" Kangin mumbled under his breath, rubbing his shoulder.
Hankyung pretended that Kangin didn’t say a word.
"Thank you Hyung." Kyuhyun thanked Hankyung, bowing his head.
"There's no need to thank me. I'm doing this willingly for you." Hankyung ruffled Kyuhyun's hair. "Now, what did you promise Kangin-Appa?"
Kyuhyun looked at Kangin, trying to spot some reaction from Kangin with regards to Hankyung calling him Appa. Kangin just smiled at him and walked up to him to help him lie back down on the bed. Kangin felt Kyuhyun still trembling a little when he touched him, but Kyuhyun no longer shied away from his contact. Kangin mentally sighed, wondering how long it would take for them to repair the broken bridge between them. As Kyuhyun lied on the bed, Hankyung pulled the blanket over him, whispering a "Sweet dreams" into Kyuhyun's ears. Kyuhyun nodded.
"Kangin, stay here with Kyuhyunnie. I'll go and prepare for dinner." Hankyung instructed. Kangin was about to take a seat when Kyuhyun spoke up.
"Kangin-hyung, there's no need to stay here with me. I'll be okay. You should go help Hankyung-hyung with the preparation. Don't worry about me. I'm jus going to be sleeping here."
Kangin looked at Kyuhyun then at Hankyung. There was truth in Kyuhyun's words. If left to Hankyung by himself, Kangin doubted that Hankyung would be done in time for dinner. Or before they come back. Kangin thought of those members who would cause a disaster in the kitchen, being over-enthusiastic about helping. Apparently Hankyung felt the same way and accepted Kyuhyun's request.
"Okay, Kangin can help me. Just remember if you need anything, anything at all just call out for us. I'll leave the door open so that we will be able to hear you."
Kangin stood up and walked out of the room with Hankyung.
As they were out of Kyuhyun's hearing, Kangin stopped back facing Hankyung. Hankyung nearly crashed into him. He was about to ask why Kangin stopped suddenly when Kangin spoke up.
"Hyung, do you think we'll be the same again? Do you think me and Kyuhyun will have the same relationship anymore?" Kangin asked, his insecurities hitting Hankyung hard.
Hankyung knew then that Kangin was vulnerable as well. He took one step forward, hugging Kangin from the back.
"Things will not be the same anymore. We've been through too much for things to return to before. You and Kyuhyun will definitely not have the same relationship anymore."
Kangin's tears began to flow.
"It will not be the same because this incident will change you, change him, and change all of us. At the start, it may be awkward between you two, but don't give up. Give him some time. Give yourself some time to come to grips with what happened. Slowly, you'll rebuild your relationship with a stronger foundation, and you will be closer than before, because you know simply just how vulnerable relationships are, just how easily they can be broken simply through a dream or someone's words. Because we know that despite how mature, how strong Kyuhyun may portray himself to be – even if he really is independent and strong, he is a child who grew up too fast in a treacherous world."
Hankyung voiced out the words that he had been saying over and over again to himself when they faced setbacks after setbacks with Kyuhyun, when everything seemed bleak and the future unknown. Kangin nodded, his hyung's words bringing hope to his heart. His tears turned from tears of sadness and despair to tears of hope and determination. He would take things step by step, slowly showing Kyuhyun that there was nothing to be scared of, that none of them would ever leave him. They stood there for a while, letting out the rollercoaster of emotions they had felt in that day.
"Alright, let's get down to preparing the best dinner for Kyuhyun!" Kangin pulled out of the hug, wiping the tears off his face.
Hankyung nodded and both headed for the kitchen, intent on created the best dinner for Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun waited till his hyungs were out of his sight before letting the pain appear on his face. His back had been hurting a little from sitting in one position for too long, but he didn’t want to let his hyungs know about it as they were already worried enough about his illness. Lying down on the bed, Kyuhyun tried to stretch a little to loosen the muscles in his back so that they were not so tight. He moaned softly as the muscles stretched. The pain was not intense, it was more of a pain that was constantly there even when not moving, and hurt when moved. Kyuhyun lied on the bed, waiting for the pain to subside a little so that he could sleep. He did want to keep his promise to his hyungs and did not want to let his pain ruin his plans of having dinner with his hyungs. Kyuhyun shut his eyes, almost willing the pain to disappear. Don't think about it. Kyuhyun told himself. Think about the dinner that you will be having. Think about how long you've been waiting for it. Kyuhyun tried to focus his thoughts on the impending dinner and it seemed to work. Slowly, but surely, the pain lessened until a manageable level. Kyuhyun began to fall asleep. I can’t wait for dinner.
Kangin gave all the members a text message asking them to come back early for dinner. He didn’t say why, so the members were all puzzled as they read the message. Is there any occasion that we're celebrating? Was the thought that ran through most of their minds. Nonetheless, everyone tried their best to get home as early as possible. Time flew by as Hankyung and Kangin prepared the food. Or rather, Hankyung was cooking while Kangin was just in charge of occasionally cutting the ingredients but mostly, he was in charge of setting up the table. They had decided to have dinner in the living room so that Kyuhyun could be seated at the sofa which would not be too strenuous on his back. One by one the members came home.
"We're back!" Sungmin and Eunhyuk shouted as they entered the dorm, announcing their presence to everyone. Kangin turned around from his position at the sofa.
"Shhh! Not so loud. Kyuhyun is resting."
The two immediately covered their mouths with their hands and tiptoed into the dorm. Eeteuk and Siwon who followed after them could only shake their heads at the two.
"Why did you ask us to come back early?" Eeteuk asked Kangin.
"Kyuhyun wants to have dinner with all of us."
Four of them stopped in their motions.
"Kyuhyun. Dinner. All of us." Kangin spoke word by word.
Then it clicked in their minds. Sungmin let out a squeal pulling Siwon into a hug before bouncing over to Eunhyuk to do the same thing. Eeteuk felt the pricks of tears coming.
"Hyung, you're supposed to be happy. Not crying." Kangin said, knowing what was going to come.
"I'm not crying. Who said I was?" Eeteuk retorted, tuning away from them, his hand rising suspiciously to his face to wipe the tears from his eyes. Kangin shook his head knowingly.
Then the four all went to put their things down first before going to help out with the preparation.
"Hannie, do you need help?" Eeteuk asked as he walked into the kitchen.
Hankyung froze. He could still remember what happened the previous time when Eeteuk helped him.
"Er, why not you go wake Kyuhyun and help him to the shower, Hyung?" Hankyung attempted to divert Eeteuk's attention. No, not divert. Just getting him to do something that he is better at.
Eeteuk thought about it for a while and nodded, pulling Sungmin with him. Eeteuk didn’t think that leaving two troublemakers with Hankyung would be a good thing. Hankyung gave a mental sigh of relief before instructing Eunhyuk and Siwon what to do.
Eeteuk and Sungmin walked quietly into Kyuhyun's room. Kyuhyun was sleeping soundly in bed, with the blanket covering half his face. Eeteuk touched his forehead, happy to know that the fever had completely subsided. He looked so peaceful that Eeteuk almost didn’t have the heart to wake him.
"Kyuhyunnie." Sungmin shook Kyuhyun gently.
Kyuhyun's eyes opened slowly. Normally Kyuhyun would have jerked awake, being a light sleeper, but his body just needed to rest too much that he slept soundly. Kyuhyun blinked a few times.
"It's time to wake up. You want to have dinner right?" Eeteuk asked from his side.
Sleep disappeared immediately from Kyuhyun's eyes as they lit up at the thought of dinner. Kyuhyun nodded, pushing himself up. Sungmin helped him up, knowing that he should not be straining himself yet.
Eeteuk laughed softly at the enthusiasm Kyuhyun was showing, knowing how Kyuhyun felt. It was exactly what he felt when he was discharged to finally be able to have dinner together as one family. It was surprising that the things one missed were all the little things that everyone took for granted. It is only when you no longer experience it that you realise how important those little things were.
But Eeteuk didn’t know that Kyuhyun had never treated having dinner with them as something trivial. Instead he always treasured all the dinners they had together because he never had memories of those before he stayed with them.
"Do you want to bathe?" Eeteuk asked Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun looked up at Eeteuk. "Yes, Hyung."
Kyuhyun felt a little dirty having not showered for the past few days when he was too sick to do so. Instead he only changed his clothes and had sponge baths.
"Sungmin, would you help Kyuhyun to the bathroom while I grab his clothes?" Sungmin nodded, helping Kyuhyun up to walk to the bathroom.
Kyuhyun had trouble keeping his balance after staying in bed for so long. Sungmin waited for Kyuhyun to stabilise before proceeding. Kyuhyun walked slowly, holding on tightly to Sungmin's arm. Kyuhyun did his best to keep the pain off his face, even if his grip gave it up to Sungmin. It was as if he had deteriorated to the point when he had just started the physiotherapy when he had just progressed from balancing to walking. None of the two spoke as they made their way to the bathroom. Eeteuk handed the clothes to Kyuhyun.
"If you're inside for more than 20 minutes we'll bang the door down."
Kyuhyun looked at Eeteuk's face and nodded. Sungmin walked out of the bathroom as Kyuhyun made to close the door.
"Remember, 20 minutes." Eeteuk said again as the door closed on him.
Kyuhyun sighed as he heard Eeteuk. He quickly stripped and stepped under the shower, wanting to make full use of the 20 minutes to shower.
As he stood under the hot shower, letting the hot water beat on his back, soothing the sore muscles, Kyuhyun closed his eyes. When he was walking to the bathroom, he had a sudden fear that all the progress that he had made in physiotherapy were all for naught. He seemed to be back to one and a half months ago when he had just learned how to walk. Kyuhyun didn’t want that to happen. He wanted to be back with Super Junior as soon as possible. Okay. Don't fret over it now. You'll know when you return to physiotherapy in two days. Don't fret over it right now. Tonight you're going to enjoy the time with your hyungs. Kyuhyun reasoned with himself.
He quickly washed himself though careful not to get his injured hand wet and turned off the water. He hung on to the wall as he made his way out of the shower cubicle not wanting to fall. As he dried his body, Kyuhyun looked into the mirror. It was the first time he was standing in front of his reflection since the day he punched it. The shadow under his eyes had lessened. He no longer looked so pale and tired. He reached out a hand to touch his reflection in the mirror. My hyungs did not leave me. Jong-hyung did not leave me. They are still here. There was no urge to punch the mirror today. Instead Kyuhyun smiled at himself in the mirror. I'm glad to be here.
"Kyuhyun, you have one minute more!" Eeteuk's shout came through the door.
Kyuhyun quickly grabbed his clothes and put them on. He had no doubt that Eeteuk would break into the bathroom. He didn’t want to appear naked in front of Eeteuk and Sungmin, or anyone for that matter. Kyuhyun draped the towel around his neck and opened the door. Eeteuk's fist stopped just in front of his face.
"Ah, you're out. I was about to knock again." Eeteuk said, lowering his hand.
He looked at Kyuhyun, stepping closer to arrange his clothes neatly. Sungmin was laughing behind him, knowing that Kyuhyun had haphazardly put on his clothes to prevent Eeteuk from banging down the door. Kyuhyun blushed at the state of his clothes. Eeteuk then pulled his towel over his head and proceeded to dry his hair.
"Hyung, I can do that myself." Kyuhyun weakly protested while still lowering his head for Eeteuk.
Eeteuk merely 'hmmmed' as he continued.
"Sungmin-ah, can you grab a brush?" Eeteuk turned to Sungmin, who quickly stifled his laughter and nodded.
Eeteuk took the towel off Kyuhyun's head after making sure that Kyuhyun's hair was relatively dry. He didn’t want Kyuhyun to worsen his illness due to a wet head. He threw the towel into the basket in the bathroom just as Sungmin came back. Sungmin stood on his toes in front of Kyuhyun, brushing through his hair. Kyuhyun thought about saying that he could do that just fine by himself, but he couldn’t deny that it felt really wonderful to have his hyungs take care of him.
"There. All good." Sungmin exclaimed as he stood back to admire his work.
Eeteuk nodded next to him. Kyuhyun had no idea what Sungmin did to his hair, but it must not have been something awful since Eeteuk-hyung had agreed as well.
"Thank you, Eeteuk-hyung, Min-hyung."
Sungmin flashed a brilliant smile at Kyuhyun while Eeteuk just shook his head.
"It was nothing. No need to thank us."
He held Kyuhyun by the arm and guided him to the wall along the corridor for Kyuhyun to hold onto it.
"Let's head to the living room. I hear dinner calling for us." Kyuhyun nodded and prepared himself for the journey to the living room. I just hope that I don't fall on the way there.
As Kyuhyun settled onto the sofa, the rest of the members came home. Shindong, Heechul, Donghae, Yesung, Kibum and Ryeowook walked in one by one. As Donghae walked past the sofa, he noticed something.
His word caught the attention of the rest.
Kyuhyun waved shyly from his position at the sofa. He was made to stay put as Eeteuk and Sungmin went to help out in the kitchen. So he had spent the time staring at the door, waiting for the rest of his hyungs come back. He knew straight away that his hyungs were back when he heard the key inserted into the doorknob. Kyuhyun sat up straighter. When Donghae noticed him, Kyuhyun managed to wave to them. They all rushed and crowded around him.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Why are you alone in the living room?"
They bombarded him with questions, though each of them was really happy to see Kyuhyun sitting up in the living room, instead of being stuck in his room.
"No crowding around Kyuhyunnie!"
Eeteuk came out of the kitchen carrying a huge bowl of fried rice. "Go put your bags, wash your hands and come and have dinner."
They nodded to Eeteuk, resigned to not get any answer from Kyuhyun at the moment. Eeteuk watched as they walked off before placing the bowl onto the table.
"Stay seated Kyu. You're not allowed to help." Eeteuk spoke without looking up, having guessed what Kyuhyun would attempt to do.
Kyuhyun was about to stand but sat down when he heard Eeteuk. Eeteuk took a seat next to Kyuhyun and waited for the rest to come out. Siwon, Eunhyuk, Sungmin, Kangin and Hankyung carried the rest of the food out. The utensils were already set out on the table. The rest came back to the living room to see a spread of food on the table.
"Fried rice!" That came from Yesung.
"Kimchi pancake. Wow!" Ryeowook exclaimed.
"Sushi!" Donghae clapped his hands.
"Oh Kyungie, you know me so well. You cooked mushroom soup." Heechul reached out for the soup straight away.
Hankyung and Kangin stared at each other. So all the food he asked for were not for him? They turned to Kyuhyun, who was not paying attention to them. Instead Kyuhyun was smiling to himself observing the happy expressions on his hyungs' faces. The two shook their heads. It was so like Kyuhyun to do something like that.
They all settled down around the table with Eeteuk and Kibum claiming the space beside Kyuhyun, Heechul on the other sofa with Siwon, Hankyung next to Kibum, Kangin next to Eeteuk, Ryeowook, Yesung, Donghae, Sungmin, Shindong and Eunhyuk on the floor.
"What's the occasion Hyung?" Kibum asked Hankyung.
"To celebrate that Kyuhyun is back."
Kyuhyun looked at Hankyung shocked as if he didn’t expect that. Kibum nodded, accepting the reason. Eeteuk picked up his glass of water and passed another to Kyuhyun. He raised it.
The rest all raised their glasses. Kyuhyun looked around at all of them, blushing. Kibum nudged Kyuhyun gently, telling him to raise his glass as well. When all their glasses were up, they shouted with the exception of Kyuhyun.
"To Kyuhyun!" They drank the water and quickly began to eat. Kyuhyun was still blushing from the attention – though he was sincerely touched by his hyungs – when Kibum placed a plate of food in his hands.
"Don’t just look. Eat."
Kyuhyun nodded and brought the spoon to his mouth.
"Wait!" Ryeowook suddenly said, standing up and dashing off to the kitchen. Huh?
As Ryeowook came back again, Kibum stood up as well walking to Ryeowook.
"Before we continue, Hyung, we have a little something for you all." Kibum said causing all of them to lean forward in anticipation.
"Since we are all going to take care of Kyu, we should all eat the vitamins every day."
Ryeowook flashed the bottle of vitamins at all of them.
"What?" Donghae, Sungmin and Eunhyuk shouted.
"That's unfair!" Kibum shook his head.
"It's not unfair. We should all eat. If not we might fall sick then we won't be able to take care of Kyu."
"That's true. Okay everyone. All of you have to eat vitamins from now on. We don’t want anyone getting sick."
Eeteuk agreed to his dongsaengs' logic. Everyone groaned when Eeteuk agreed. Now they had no way of getting out of the situation. Grudgingly accepting the pills from Kibum and Ryeowook who were happily giving them out, they all swallowed the medicine. Kyuhyun laughed softly behind his hands at all the faces his hyungs made while swallowing the pills. When they noticed that Kyuhyun was laughing, they began to exaggerate their motions and expressions. It had been a long time since Kyuhyun had laughed so free. The members all smiled at each other and at Kyuhyun. Kibum and Ryeowook exchanged a small high-five behind them glad to have exacted their revenge and in the meantime made Kyuhyun happy.
As dinner progressed, they all started to discuss the various things that occurred. Kyuhyun simply sat there, slowly clearing his plate of food, watching his hyungs interact with each other. He didn’t say anything, just like a silent observer sitting there.
Hankyung looked at Kyuhyun when he noticed that Kyuhyun had not said a single word the whole night. He noticed the contented look, the slight smile, the way Kyuhyun looked lovingly at the scene. Hankyung decided not to say anything, allowing Kyuhyun to bask in the presence of his hyungs.
When the food was almost finished, Hankyung stood up, excusing himself to the kitchen. He came out with a chocolate cake that looked exactly like one that came from the cake shops or even better. Kangin cleared a space on the table for Hankyung to put the cake. On top of the cake there was a message. 'Welcome back, Kyuhyun!'
Hankyung handed a plastic knife to Kyuhyun.
"Make a wish and cut your cake Kyu."
Kyuhyun looked at his hyungs receiving nods from all of them. He had not expected such a cake when he had asked Hankyung to make it for him. He held the knife with two hands about the cake. He made the wish in his heart.
I wish that we will be one family.
He pushed the knife into the cake, catching a flash just in time as Donghae took a picture. All of them clapped and cheered, happy that Kyuhyun was back.
"Let's take a picture! Everyone try and squeeze!" Donghae said as he arranged the camera properly. "Okay. Ready?" Donghae did not wait for a reply as he pressed the timer.
Donghae dashed over and found himself a spot before the timer went off.
"Can we eat the cake hyung?" Shindong asked as they settled back down. Hankyung nodded and proceeded to slice the cake. When each of them had a piece they began eating. Kyuhyun ate about half his slice before placing the plate on his lap. He had already been leaning on the sofa as everyone talked around him. He was contented to just listen to them. As he let the voices washed over his head, Kyuhyun felt himself drifting off to sleep, his hand losing the grip on the plate which sat on his lap.
"Kyuhyunnie! Do you…"
Sungmin looked up at Kyuhyun as he spoke when he noticed that Kyuhyun was asleep. The rest were puzzled as to why Sungmin stopped midway of his question. They all followed his gaze. Kyuhyun was sleeping with a contented look on his face. They smiled.
"Alright, it's time to clear up. Siwon-ah, carry Kyuhyun to his bed late with Kibummie. The rest go clean up." Eeteuk instructed.
Kibum nodded, removing the plate from Kyuhyun's lap. Siwon stood up and walked towards Kyuhyun. He carried Kyuhyun on his back and walked to Kyuhyun's room with Kibum.
Eeteuk sat by his seat at the sofa watching Siwon carry Kyuhyun and watching as the rest cleaned up with happy looks on their faces even if they didn’t like to clean at all. He let a smile grace his lips.
Things will be better.
"Teukie! Why are you sitting? You should be clearing as well!"
Eeteuk nodded at Heechul and joined in.
Life will be better.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Yesung yawned as he nursed a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Even though it was not that early, he still felt like sleeping. But Eeteuk-hyung had woken him up, telling him that they were all leaving the dorm now and that he was leaving Kyuhyun in his hands. Yesung nodded, sitting up on his bed. He shuffled his way to the kitchen as he always do every morning after brushing his teeth and started the coffee machine. He couldn’t possibly take care of Kyuhyun when his brain was half asleep.
As the aroma of the hot coffee filled the kitchen, Yesung felt his brain wake a little. Pouring a generous cup for himself, Yesung sat down at the table savouring his coffee. He was so engrossed in his coffee that he did not notice someone walking into the kitchen until he heard the chair scratched the floor. That’s weird. Who could it be? No one is at home except me and Kyuhyun. Yesung lifted his eyes to the side, glancing at the person next to him.
Oh. It’s Kyuhyun. Yesung stared at Kyuhyun. I forgot that Kyuhyun is not restricted to bed anymore. Wake up brain. Yesung took another gulp of his coffee.
“Good morning Yesung-hyung.” Kyuhyun said as he sat down gingerly on the chair.
Yesung mumbled something incomprehensive into his cup as he took another mouth of the black hot coffee. Kyuhyun hid a smile behind his hand. It was obvious that Yesung was not fully awake yet. It was always fun to see his hyung look so grouchy in the morning. It was always fun to observe Yesung’s reactions early in the morning before he was fully awake as long as one did not come between Yesung and his coffee. Pray that no one ever does. Kyuhyun would never think of getting in between a sleepy Yesung and his coffee.
Kyuhyun turned his thoughts to food. He looked around the kitchen, searching for something to eat. His appetite was slowly returning as the illness began to lose its hold on him. He spotted a cereal box on the table near the sink. He was about to push himself up to get it when Yesung placed a hand on his.
“Let me get it for you.”
Before Kyuhyun could say anything, Yesung had stood up and walked towards the sink to put his cup. Yesung, though he was still sleepy, was still observant to Kyuhyun’s needs. Kyuhyun simply sat down on the chair again and waited, seeing that by the time he made a protest Yesung would have already prepared the cereal. Yesung walked back to the table holding two bowls of cereal. He placed it in front of Kyuhyun as he sat down.
“Eat. You need to eat more.”
He looked at Kyuhyun until Kyuhyun picked up the spoon to eat. He is still too thin. I should ask Hankyung-hyung to cook more for him. Then Yesung turned back to his bowl and began eating. As he ate, he wondered what he and Kyuhyun could do for the day with just the two of them in the dorm.
When he was eating halfway, Yesung asked Kyuhyun. “What do you feel like doing today?”
Kyuhyun held his spoon in halfway into his mouth as he paused at that question. Kyuhyun closed his mouth around his spoon, chewing and swallowing the cereal before answering.
“Today? Don’t you have anything on?”
Kyuhyun was curious. How come there was someone with him every day. It was not that he did not appreciate having his hyungs with him – in fact Kyuhyun was truly delighted that his hyungs were there; it was just that it was unusual for them to have an empty schedule the whole day. He really didn’t expect to have someone with him all the time, especially since Kyuhyun was used to spending his time alone. Kyuhyun did not ask why he was back at the dorm or how he got back here as he vaguely remembered hearing voices speaking around him about bringing him back to the dorm no matter what.
To be honest, Kyuhyun was really happy to be back with his hyungs. He didn’t like staying in the house with no one but four walls. It was a residual fear from young. His father had chased him out of the room where his parents were quarrelling and locked him in his room alone. Kyuhyun had wanted to scream and shout for his father to let him out, but he did not dare to anger his father even more. He stayed closed to the door the whole night in the darkness for the lights in his room had fused the day before, staring at nothing but the walls around him. By the time he was let out of the room – by the housekeeper then, his father had already packed up and left. The previous night was the last time he saw his father. Since then, Kyuhyun hated being surrounded by four walls with no one else. He associated it with people leaving him. Kyuhyun knew that it was irrational, but he could not help it.
Kyuhyun turned to Yesung with a puzzled look.
“You didn’t answer my question. What had you so engrossed in?” Yesung asked, a little worried at the expressions on Kyuhyun’s face – sadness and fear.
Kyuhyun shook his head.
“Nothing, I was just thinking about what we could do.”
Yesung did not really believe his words, but he decided to let it be this time.
“So, have you thought of something?”
“Can we go out for a walk?”
Kyuhyun stared at his half-eaten cereal, a little bashful about his request. Yesung stared at the simple request. They had all forgotten Kyuhyun had been trapped inside the house for at least one whole week. Yesung looked out to the sky. It was bright with not a single dark cloud in sight.
“We can go for a walk in the afternoon if the weather holds.”
“Are you sure you want to go out with just you and me? We might be mobbed by fans. Ryeowook and Shindong will be back just after lunch. We can go with them then k?”
Yesung didn’t want to bring Kyuhyun out on his own. He would not be able to protect Kyuhyun from over-enthusiastic fans alone. Kyuhyun looked at Yesung, conceding the point about the fans.
“Wookie-hyung and Shindong-hyung are coming back later?”
“Will they want to accompany us? What if they’re tired?”
Kyuhyun didn’t want to force his hyungs to go out if they wanted to rest.
“Don’t worry about that. We’ll ask them later. I promise even if they don’t want to go, I’ll bring you out on my own later.”
Yesung tried to assure Kyuhyun, even though he knew that Ryeowook and Shindong would definitely be glad to go out with Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun nodded and proceeded to finish his cereal.
“What shall we do in the meantime?” Yesung said as he brought the bowls to the wash basin.
Kyuhyun leaned on the chair, thinking. He could not really think of what to do because his mind was just filled with the outing and the impending physiotherapy session the next day.
“Kyuhyunnie, do you want to practice some singing? We can always play on the keyboard in my room.” Yesung suggested, thinking that Kyuhyun would love to sing.
He was right.
“Really? We can do that, Hyung?”
Yesung dried his hands with a cloth and turned to Kyuhyun.
“Yes we can. In fact we can start right now.”
Yesung walked to Kyuhyun, offering his help. Kyuhyun smiled as he stood up. He held on to Yesung’s hand as they walked to the room. Walking was not as strenuous as yesterday though his speed was still very slow as compared to the day they went to the park. Yesung led Kyuhyun to the bed, letting him sit on the edge first before helping Kyuhyun move further into the bed to lean against the wall. Yesung made sure Kyuhyun was comfortable before he went to find his scores.
Kyuhyun was secretly happy for the chance to sing. With his mother’s illness and him falling sick subsequently, Kyuhyun had missed singing. He had missed singing especially with his hyungs. Yesung sneaked a peak at Kyuhyun, smiling at the happiness emitting from his dongsaeng. He was really glad to see Kyuhyun happy. Yesung looked at the scores and started playing. They started singing.
Kyuhyun let himself be lost in the music, searching for the reasons that made him endure the physiotherapy sessions in the past, the reasons that would help him through the sessions in the future. Kyuhyun was delighted that his lungs were not giving him any problems; that he was able to sing without a problem that the doctor had feared before hand with his flu. He was one step closer to joining his hyungs again. If only he could join them right away. Kyuhyun was not sure if he found the reasons, but Kyuhyun knew that this moment would be one he remembered when he faced difficulties during the physiotherapy. He knew that it would become one of the reasons to endure the physiotherapy – to be able to sing with his hyungs.
After an hour plus of practicing, Yesung called a stop to it.
“Okay, we should stop here. You shouldn’t suddenly practice too much.”
Yesung turned towards Kyuhyun, who was still absorbed in the music.
“Kyuhyunnie, I’ve stopped playing.”
Kyuhyun opened his eyes and looked at Yesung. He blushed when he saw that Yesung’s hands were not on the keyboard. Yesung laughed heartily at Kyuhyun walking over to sit by Kyuhyun on the bed.
“You’ve really missed singing right?”
Kyuhyun nodded, leaning his head on the wall. Yesung looked at Kyuhyun, who still had a blissful look on his face. He contemplated whether he should say it, or simply echo the in his heart.
“We’ve missed you.”
Yesung stared at Kyuhyun as he said that. Yesung wanted to say that to Kyuhyun for a long time ever since the accident. He had the feeling that few or none had ever said that to Kyuhyun before, not even from Super Junior. But Yesung really wanted to just tell Kyuhyun his feelings.
Kyuhyun looked at Yesung in astonishment, proving Yesung right with his thoughts. Kyuhyun did not think that his presence was sorely missed in a group of thirteen. He might have felt their love through their actions, but he had never had it said out loud to him before. Yesung knew how powerful words could be – whoever that said that words did not hurt was an idiot. The proof was right in front of him. Kyuhyun continued to look at Yesung with astonishment and happiness etched on his face. Yesung just did not expect those three words to mean that much to Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun leaned forward to hug his hyung, whispering into his ear.
“I’ve missed you all.”
Yesung smiled, feeling the prick in his eyes. It was the first time Kyuhyun had voiced out his feelings for them in words. Usually, one had to guess Kyuhyun’s true feelings as he never told anyone how he felt towards them. Yesung patted Kyuhyun gently on the head, before gently breaking out of the hug.
“You should get some sleep if you want to go out later. You’re still not at your best yet.”
Kyuhyun nodded, even if he didn’t feel like sleeping then. Yesung got off the bed and was about to help Kyuhyun when he remembered.
“Oh! Kyu, stay there. I’m supposed to change your bandage.”
Yesung ran out of the room to get the first aid box, leaving Kyuhyun on the bed. Kyuhyun stared at his hand. He had almost forgotten about the wound on his hand. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t disturb him in anyway, unlike his other injury, and hence the hand injury was not at the forefront of his mind. Yesung came back into the room holding the first aid kit. He took out a scissors and cut the bandage. Gently and slowly, Yesung peeled the bandage off Kyuhyun’s hand, exposing the cuts-filled hand to Kyuhyun.
It was the first time Kyuhyun was seeing his injury. He really didn’t think that it looked so severe. It did not seem to hurt enough for an injury with so many cuts. Yesung dabbed the antiseptic onto the wound, ready to stop anytime he sensed that Kyuhyun was in pain. But Kyuhyun simply just observed his actions, not showing any reaction to his motions. He has a very high pain tolerance. Yesung concluded in his mind. He took up a roll of bandage and began wrapping the wound. Throughout the whole thing, Kyuhyun simply stared at his hand, not making a single sound. It was not the prettiest thing in the world on display. He stared with a morbid fascination at the wounds, his eyes going through them, marking each on as a reminder to himself that his hyungs would be there no matter what happens. Or at least I hope they would. Kyuhyun wondered if it hurt as much as it looked when he first punched the mirror. He could not really remember.
“There, all done.” Yesung declared as he tied up the bandage. Kyuhyun lifted his hand, saying thank you to Yesung. Yesung stood up to stop Kyuhyun when he was trying to stand.
“There’s no need to go back to your room to rest. Just sleep on my bed. I don’t mind. Besides you can keep me company till Ryeowook and Shindong come back.”
Yesung pushed Kyuhyun gently onto the bed in a lying position before Kyuhyun could protest.
“Sleep. I’ll wake you when they come back.”
Kyuhyun nodded. And despite his thoughts that he was not tired, Kyuhyun drifted off quickly to the lullaby Yesung was humming by his side.
Kyuhyun woke up just after one, too excited about the walk to fall back asleep. He sat up on the bed, swinging his legs towards the floor and looked around. Yesung was not in the room, although Kyuhyun was sure that Yesung was there just a while ago, seeing how the scores were scattered all over the keyboard showing that Yesung was trying to compose a song.
Kyuhyun used the bed as support to push himself up. He walked towards the door, intending to find Yesung to ask if Ryeowook and Shindong were back already. As he opened the door, Yesung was walking towards him with a bowl.
“Kyu! You’re awake! Just in time. Come, go to the living room and have lunch.”
Yesung turned and quickly walked to the living room to put down the bowl of soup. He rushed back to Kyuhyun’s side to aid him. They took small steps to the living room. Kyuhyun was slowly regaining his strength which the illness had drained him off, although Kyuhyun doubted that he would be able to cover the distance by himself which he could before his illness.
When Kyuhyun sat down on the sofa, Yesung carried the soup to him.
“Here. I didn’t cook it. Don’t worry. You won’t get food poisoning.”
Yesung reassured Kyuhyun that the soup was bought.
As Kyuhyun drank the soup, Yesung continued. “Ryeowook and Shindong should be back soon. Finish your soup and we’ll go change. By then, they should be back. Or we’ll just leave by ourselves.”
Although I really hope that they would be back by then. I don’t want to face Teukie or anyone else if they learned that I brought Kyu for a walk by myself. Yesung prayed that his two dongsaeng came back soon.
Kyuhyun finished the soup, a first in days, and set it down on the table.
“Are you sure hyung? We’re really going for the walk?” Kyuhyun asked to clarify once again.
Yesung nodded and took the bowl.
“Yup. Go change.”
Kyuhyun stood up and slowly went to his room to change. Yesung washed up and went to change as well.
Yesung stared at the door to their dorm as he walked past it, praying that it would open soon. He really didn’t want to face the wreath of Teukie-Umma, Kangin-Appa, Heechullie, Hannie, Siwonnie, Minnie, Hae, Hyukkie, Bummie, Wookie and Shindongie if they find out that Yesung had brought Kyuhyun out alone. He shuddered.
Please come back quickly.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Ryeowook and Shindong entered their dorm, noticing the quietness of the house.
The exclamation made Ryeowook and Shindong swivel towards the voice. Kyuhyun was sitting on at the sofa, all dressed for a walk.
“Kyu! Where are you going?” Ryeowook asked as he dropped his bag and plonked himself on the sofa next to Kyuhyun.
“Yesung-hyung said that we could go for a walk. Oh, Wookie-hyung do you two want to join us? Yesung-hyung said something about potentially being mobbed by fans.”
Kyuhyun rambled off in his excitement. He really wanted to go for a walk, to see the scenery around him, to see the people just leading their lives. He wanted to do it before he went for physiotherapy tomorrow. He wanted to enjoy one last day before plunging himself into the road to recovery that would be filled with stones, rocks and potholes.
Ryeowook was actually going to agree to the walk when Kyuhyun asked them to join. However Kyuhyun rambled on, not allowing Ryeowook to have a word edgewise. When he heard the part about being mobbed, he looked at Shindong. Now they were even surer that they would be going with Kyuhyun and Yesung. There was no way that the two were going alone.
“Kyu, we’ll both go with you two.” Shindong answered for Ryeowook.
“By the way, where’s Yesungie?” Shindong asked, having looked all over for Yesung’s presence.
“Hyung is changing.” Kyuhyun answered.
He would be bouncing on his feet if he thought that his body could take it. Kyuhyun was simply really excited to get out of the house. He loved being with his hyungs, but being stuck inside for too long took its toll on Kyuhyun. He wanted to experience the wind, smell the grass, enjoy the sunshine, and even listen to the sounds of people rushing about getting through the day.
Shindong chuckled at the sight of Kyuhyun trying to stop himself from getting too excited, but failing terribly. Kyuhyun was shifting from foot to foot, trying to contain his excitement, but one look at his face, Shindong knew just how much Kyuhyun was looking forward to the walk.
“Yesung-hyung, if you’re not ready in ten seconds, we’ll be leaving without you!” Shindong shouted, drawing laughter from Ryeowook and Kyuhyun.
“What? No, wait for me!”
Yesung scrambled frantically in his room to gather his things as he rushed out. Yesung came out of the room with a bag slung over his shoulder and a cap in his hand. Then he stopped.
“Hey, when did you two come back?”
Ryeowook and Shindong stared at him.
“What? I didn’t hear you two coming in.”
Ryeowook shook his head as he rummaged his bag for a beanie. He took it out. As Yesung placed his cap on, Ryeowook fixed the beanie on Kyuhyun.
“To disguise a little, and to protect from the wind. It’s a bit windy outside today.” Ryeowook explained when he saw the puzzled look on Kyuhyun’s face. Kyuhyun nodded.
“Ok. Let’s go! We need to be back in time for dinner.” Yesung said, opening the door.
The other three happily walked out.
It was a slow long walk at Kyuhyun’s pace. He was enjoying the sun shining down upon him, feeling the warmth. He really enjoyed the sunshine after being deprived of it since the day they had a picnic. Kyuhyun listened to the hustle and bustle around him as people rushed about around him. It told him that time went on, people carried on with their days no matter what. It gave Kyuhyun a little strength, a little hope that he too would be able to get through and be there with his hyungs again. Shindong walked behind Kyuhyun while Ryeowook and Yesung walked by Kyuhyun’s sides to prevent people from bumping into him. Lucky for them, there were not many people walking around at this time and so far, no one had paid any special attention to them, despite their slow pace. Ryeowook kept an arm on Kyuhyun, guiding him as his dongsaeng marvelled at the sights around him.
“Let’s head towards here. There’s a playground that is quite secluded where we can stay at.” Ryeowook said, pointing to the road on the left.
Shindong and Yesung agreed, turning left. They were not going to travel too far from their dorm as they did not want Kyuhyun to tire himself before his physiotherapy session the next day. As they walked down the road, the scenery changed from the rush of the city filled with cars to a quiet peaceful place surrounded by trees and birds. Kyuhyun watched in amazement as the birds flew around them. As they walked on, a playground came into sight. There were slides, swings, see-saws and a round-about where a few young children were playing. Ryeowook brought them towards the swings which were empty. Kyuhyun sat down, keeping the sigh from escaping. He still was not used to taking walks, although he was really happy that he got to come out from the house. His hips were a little sore, but it didn’t matter because he was with his hyungs. He smiled as he looked at the little kids running around the playground.
“Kyuhyunnie, do you want some water?” Yesung asked as he took out a bottle from his bag.
Kyuhyun mumbled a “Thanks” as he took the bottle. He drank a little before passing the bottle back to Yesung. Shindong pushed Kyuhyun gently on the swing while Yesung did the same with Ryeowook.
It was the first time Kyuhyun was swinging with friends. The playground was never a destination when he was out with Jong Ki and he had no friends who would play with him on the swing when he was younger. It was simply relaxing to just sit there swinging, as if nothing was happening around the world, simply just him and his hyungs enjoying a simple outing.
Ryeowook studied Kyuhyun, noting the thin outline of his silhouette and the slight tension that was present on Kyuhyun ever since the accident. But Ryeowook didn’t miss – couldn’t miss – the smile that brightened up Kyuhyun’s face that seemed to have chased all of Ryeowook’s worries away. He was glad that they came for the outing. Being cropped up indoors for too long would not help in Kyuhyun’s recovery. Seeing Kyuhyun act like his age, like the dongsaeng he was supposed to be, Ryeowook felt thankful to be part of Super Junior which allowed him to meet so many hyungs and two absolutely adorable dongsaengs.
“Kyuhyun, do you want to swing higher?” Yesung asked Kyuhyun, as he stopped pushing Ryeowook on the swing.
Shindong had been pushing gently throughout the whole time, just basking in the happiness of Kyuhyun. He was just happy to see that they were all well on their way to recovery, be it Kyuhyun, or him, or even those not directing involved in the accident. They all faced their own problems and ways of dealing with them. Slowly they were all starting to recover, and in the process they all had gotten closer to each other.
Kyuhyun turned to Yesung with a questioning look on his face. Yesung walked towards him, asking him to stand up in the process. Kyuhyun did so, wondering exactly what Yesung was trying to attempt. Yesung sat down and patted his legs, indicating to Kyuhyun to sit on him. Kyuhyun obeyed although he had no idea what was going on, especially since Ryeowook and Shindong were simply looking on with smiles on their faces. Kyuhyun sat down, leaning on Yesung with his hands holding on to the metal ropes. The swing was large enough and strong enough to cater to two of them. Yesung nodded and Shindong began to push them, harder than he did previously. Ryeowook swung by himself, propelling himself high up. Yesung and Kyuhyun started to swing higher and higher with Kyuhyun leaning his weight on Yesung. He would not have been able to hold on by himself to go so high or keep his balance. With Yesung behind him, Kyuhyun was able to enjoy himself and enjoy the breeze that swept past him as they swung. Huge smiles came upon all their faces as they infected each other with the happiness they felt.
“Hyung, can we do this again someday? With everyone else?” Kyuhyun asked when they were back on the ground, preparing to head home.
He had a lot of fun on the swing, especially when Shindong and Yesung helped him to swing so high. Although it hurt a bit to keep his balance, Kyuhyun enjoyed it thoroughly. He never knew that simply swinging with his hyungs was such a joyous thing to do. The breeze that passed through his hair seemed to chase all his troubles away, leaving behind just a kid with nothing to worry about in the world. Shindong looked at Kyuhyun, whose face was flushed from all the swinging, and nodded.
“We’ll bring everyone here next time.”
He patted Kyuhyun on the head, pulling him towards the road. Yesung picked up the bag he had abandoned when he sat on the swing. He slung his bag to the side as they all started the walk home. Yesung lagged behind as he searched his bag for his handphone. It was vibrating. He had forgotten to turn it to non-silent mode when he left the house. Puzzled as to who could be calling him, he turned the screen to him. Yesung halted suddenly behind the rest. They continued to walk, not noticing that Yesung was missing from their ranks. Yesung took a deep breath before pressing the green button.
“Jongwoon! Where are you? Where is Kyuhyun? Do you know how many times I’ve called you and Kyuhyun? Aren’t you supposed to be home taking care of Kyuhyun? Where is he? Are you two together?”
Yesung could not inject a single word into the conversation.
“Calm down Eeteuk-hyung. Yesung, are you with Kyuhyun?” Hankyung’s voice drifted through the phone, replacing Eeteuk’s.
“Kyuhyun’s with me, together with Ryeowook and Shindong.”
“They’re together. Ryeowook and Shindong as well. Where are you?”
“We went for a walk. We’re on our way home now.”
“Hello? Hankyung-hyung? Hello?”
Yesung looked at his phone. It was dead. Oh no. Why did it choose to die on me now? Yesung threw his phone back into his bag. He ran to catch up with the rest who had stopped in front.
When Yesung was talking on the phone, Kyuhyun had noticed that Yesung was missing and turned around to look for his hyung.
“Anything wrong, Hyung?” Ryeowook asked when Yesung reached them, noting the panicked look on Yesung’s face.
“Any of you brought your phone?” The three looked at each other before shaking their heads. Yesung ran a hand through his hair.
“Hyung?” Ryeowook asked again.
“We forgot to tell them that we went out for a walk. Now Eeteuk-hyung is panicking in the dorm. He called me just now, but before I could tell Hankyung-hyung where we are, my phone died.”
The same thought echoed in their minds. They could all predict how Eeteuk was panicking in the dorm at the moment. Ryeowook, Shindong and Yesung knew that Eeteuk would definitely want to go out to find them straight away, especially since Kyuhyun was with them. Now they had to figure out a way to get home fast, since the sun was setting and it would be dark soon. They had so much fun swinging and observing Kyuhyun that they had forgotten about the time. There was no way they were going to run home with Kyuhyun.
“Never mind, let’s continue walking first. Maybe we’ll come across a payphone to call them.” Shindong suggested, figuring that standing still was not going to help the situation.
“Why not let’s take a taxi back?” Kyuhyun suggested from his position next to Ryeowook. Shindong and Yesung looked at Kyuhyun. Why didn’t they think of that?
“I forgot that we could do that. Let’s walk to the main road and flag for a taxi.” Yesung said, telling them to carry on walking towards the main road.
They walked on and managed to flag a taxi when they reached the main road. They piled into the taxi with Shindong sitting in front telling the driver where to go. Kyuhyun leaned onto Ryeowook, contented to have spent the half the day singing with his hyung, and the other half outside with his hyungs.
“Kyu, sleep. I’ll wake you up later.” Ryeowook said, knowing that Kyuhyun would be tired after the walking.
It was the first time Kyuhyun was up and about since his illness. Kyuhyun shook his head, just wanting to lean on his hyung. Kyuhyun was tired, but he did not dare to sleep. The last time he had fallen asleep in a moving vehicle, he had ended up in a hospital. He didn’t want to wake up in a hospital again.
Hankyung, Kangin, Eeteuk and Siwon returned home together, being the second group to finish their schedule for the day. They were talking as they entered the dorm, discussing about their schedules. The conversation drifted off when they noticed that the dorm was eerily quiet. They all knew that Yesung was supposed to be home with Kyuhyun, and that Ryeowook and Shindong had the afternoon off. At first, they didn’t think much about it. Ryeowook and Shindong might have gone out, and Yesung could be in Kyuhyun’s room, looking after a sleeping Kyuhyun.
At least that was how Eeteuk tried to reason in his head, suppressing the instinct to panic. He walked towards Kyuhyun’s room, not noticing Ryeowook’s and Shindong’s bags sitting near the sofa. The door was opened and Eeteuk could see that no one was inside.
“Kyuhyunnie? Yesungie?” Eeteuk called out gently, wondering if they could be hiding somewhere.
He headed to all the rooms, feeling the panic rising in him as more and more rooms he searched were empty. When he checked the last room and there was still no Kyuhyun or Yesung, the panic exploded. Eeteuk ran out to the living room shouting for Kyuhyun and Yesung.
Kangin and Siwon had settled on the sofa figuring that Eeteuk had found the two when they had not heard any exclamation from him. They jumped up when they heard Eeteuk shout. Hankyung who was heading to the kitchen to cook food for dinner stopped in his steps.
“They’re not in the house!” Eeteuk cut Hankyung off. “I can’t find them anywhere!”
Worry appeared on all their faces as they heard Eeteuk. Where could the two have gone to? Kyuhyun was still recovering from his illness.
“Hyung, calm down. Maybe we should try calling them.” Kangin reasoned, refusing to panic just yet.
Eeteuk immediately reached for his phone in his bag, taking it out to call Yesung. His hands were trembling so much that Siwon took the phone away from him, dialling the number for him. As Siwon held the phone to his ear, everyone’s eyes were on him. Siwon shook his head after a while.
“He’s not answering.”
“Try Kyu’s phone.” Hankyung said. “I’ll call Wookie.” Hankyung took out his phone and dialled.
Kangin also searched for his to call Shindong. Siwon was the first to shake his head.
“Kyu’s phone is not switched on.”
Siwon returned the phone to Eeteuk, who started pacing around the room. Two tones simultaneously rang through the room, coming from the same corner. All four heads turned towards the ringing, finally spotting the bags on the floor, recognising them as Ryeowook’s and Shindong’s. Hankyung and Kangin both hung up, worry becoming more evident on their faces. Just then, the door opened. All four heads swerved towards the door, hoping.
Donghae’s voice went from loud to timid when he saw four pairs of eyes staring at him as he opened the door. He backed away, closing the door as well.
“What are you doing, Hae? Why aren’t you entering the dorm?” Eunhyuk asked Donghae, getting nods from Heechul, Sungmin and Kibum.
“Hyung and Siwon were all staring at me.” Donghae said with fear in his voice, pointing towards the door.
“Why are they staring at you?” Sungmin asked, not getting the reason.
Donghae shook his head, bewildered as well. Kibum took a look at Donghae and at the door, reaching out to open it.
“No, Bummie.” Donghae cried.
“Standing here won’t solve why they were staring at you, Hae-hyung.” Kibum answered, turning back to the door. He opened the door and entered.
The rest followed him in with Donghae seeking refuge behind Eunhyuk. The four had stared at the door again when Kibum opened it, shocking Kibum though he continued to enter the dorm.
Kibum noticed the crestfallen expressions and the worry that was written all over their faces. Eeteuk resumed his pacing, mumbling to himself.
“What’s wrong?” Kibum asked.
Hearing the question, Donghae poked his head from his position, taking a closer look at the other four. Siwon seeing that none of his hyungs were planning to answer spoke up.
“We can’t find Yesung-hyung and Kyuhyunnie.”
That caught Donghae’s attention as he stepped out from his hiding place instantaneously.
The inevitable exclamation came from the rest. Eeteuk brought the phone to ear again as he tried calling Yesung again. Siwon explained how they could not find them when they came home and that they didn’t know where Ryeowook and Shindong were as well. As the information registered in their heads, a shout brought them back to the present.
All heads turned towards Eeteuk. Hankyung walked close to Eeteuk.
“Where are you? Where is Kyuhyun? Do you know how many times I’ve called you and Kyuhyun? Aren’t you supposed to be home taking care of Kyuhyun? Where is he? Are you two together?” Eeteuk rattled on.
Hankyung covered his mouth, muffling his voice. Hankyung gently took the phone from Eeteuk, knowing that Eeteuk would continue without stopping.
“Calm down Eeteuk-hyung.” Hankyung said to Eeteuk before turning his attention back to Yesung.
“Yesung, are you with Kyuhyun?”
“Kyuhyun’s with me, together with Ryeowook and Shindong.”
Hankyung let out a sigh of relief.
“They’re together. Ryeowook and Shindong as well.” Hankyung told the rest, causing them to be relieved as well. “Where are you?”
“We went for a …”
Yesung’s voice was suddenly cut off.
“Yesung! Jongwoon! Hello?” Hankyung said loudly into the phone.
He looked at the screen and saw that the call had ended. Pressing the redial button, Hankyung brought the phone to his ear again.
“The number you’ve just called is not available. Please try again later.”
“I can’t get through. I think his battery is flat.” Hankyung dejectedly ended the call.
“Did you find out where they are?”
Hankyung shook his head at Heechul’s question. Eeteuk resumed his pacing.
“Should we go and find them?” Sungmin asked, all prepared to go out.
“But we don’t know where they are.” Kibum pointed out, even though he too wanted to find them straight away.
“Why not we wait for another fifteen or twenty minutes before heading out to find them?” Eunhyuk suggested.
“We know that the four of them are together. With Yesung and Shindong, they shouldn’t be in trouble right?”
Although none of them loved the suggestion, it was all they could do then. As they settled around in the living room, Eeteuk continued to pace. No one made any attempt to stop him as they all knew it was a lost cause. The next fifteen minutes passed in agony as they all fiddled and looked at the clock.
As the end of fifteen minutes approached, they all stared at the door, waiting. Kibum stood up and walked towards the door. He had heard a key being inserted into the keyhole. He opened the door, shocking Yesung who was about to turn the key.
It was a short journey back and before long, they reached their dorm. They got off the taxi, thanking the driver who was willing to drive that short distance and boarded the lift. When they reached the door, Yesung took a deep breath before inserting his key and opening the door.
“Hyung!” Kibum’s cry made everyone stand up and Eeteuk stop in his pacing. Kibum ushered them in, closing the door after them. Before Eeteuk could say anything, Yesung walked up to him and whispered to his ears.
“Hyung, could you save the scolding for later? Kyuhyun’s tired. Let’s settle him first.”
Eeteuk closed his mouth, looking at Kyuhyun. He was leaning on Ryeowook, looking happy but tired. Kyuhyun said a soft ‘Hello, Hyung’ to everyone when he saw the rest. He stood a little straighter, removing his weight from Ryeowook. Eeteuk nodded, conceding the point.
“Kyu, go take a bath while Hankyung makes dinner.” Eeteuk instructed Ryeowook to help Kyuhyun.
Dinner was ready by the time Kyuhyun was done showering. They all settled around the living room again, eating. Kyuhyun managed to finish all the food that was given to him, receiving pleased smiles from around the table. They were all glad to see Kyuhyun eating more to regain the weight he should not have lost. Kyuhyun swallowed his medicine, giving in to the tiredness that was trying to grab him.
“So Kyu, where did you go just now?” Kyuhyun brought his drooping eyes to Sungmin, his eyes brightening a little as he thought back to his walk.
“We went for a walk. And we were playing at the swing. It was really fun to swing so high with Yesung-hyung.”
Kyuhyun yawned, ending his explanation. Though his explanation was short, Sungmin could tell that Kyuhyun truly enjoyed the outing. It was good for Kyuhyun to relax himself after all the stress from the accident.
Seeing the yawn, Eeteuk said. “Why not you go to bed Kyuhyunnie? You look sleepy.”
Kyuhyun tilted his head at Eeteuk.
Eeteuk gently guided Kyuhyun to stand and led him to his room together with Kibum. Before Kyuhyun left the living room, he said.
“Thank you Yesung-hyung, Wookie-hyung and Shindong-hyung for bringing me out today.”
This brought bright smiles from Yesung and Shindong, and a slight blush from Ryeowook.
Eeteuk tucked Kyuhyun into bed with the blue blanket, handing him his elephant.
“Sweet dreams Kyuhyun.” Kibum said, watching as Kyuhyun’s eyes closed.
“Teukie-hyung, don’t scold Yesung-hyung. It was me who wanted to go out.”
Kyuhyun mumbled before drifting off. Eeteuk shook his head at Kyuhyun’s words.
Don’t you ever change Kyu. Don’t ever change.
Eeteuk and Kibum gently shut the door as they left.
The living room was silent as Eeteuk walked back in. They had cleared the dishes away when Eeteuk and Kibum were with Kyuhyun. Yesung sat up straighter, bracing himself for the inevitable scolding. Eeteuk sat down and looked at Yesung.
“I’m sorry Umma.” Yesung apologised.
Shindong and Ryeowook also added their apologies refusing to let Yesung carry the blame by himself before Eeteuk could say anything.
“Did you know how worried I was – we were – when we couldn’t find the two of you in the house? You could have at least left a message.”
Surprisingly it was Kangin who exploded and not Eeteuk. Yesung’s head bowed even lower.
“We could not even find any of you on your phones! What if something happened while you were out?”
Eeteuk placed a hand on Kangin’s arm. Kangin calmed down slightly, huffing and passing the stage back to Eeteuk.
“Now that you know what you’ve done wrong, don’t do it again. Next time leave a message or call one of us if you planned to leave the house. This applies to all of you.”
Eeteuk looked at the rest, making sure that all of them got the message.
“As punishment, you three will wash the dishes tonight. The rest of you, go and shower then rest.”
They all stared at Eeteuk. That’s all? Yesung had expected a much longer scolding from Eeteuk about taking care of your dongsaengs.
Eeteuk asked the rest when none of them seemed to be moving. Only Kibum hid a smile behind his hand.
“Er, that’s all Umma? Nothing else?” Shindong timidly voiced out.
Eeteuk nodded. “That’s all. What else do you want?”
Shindong did not answer him.
“I’m not that evil. Besides, I could tell how happy Kyuhyunnie was from the outing. If none of you are going to bathe, I shall claim the bathroom.”
Eeteuk stood up and left behind a group of ten shocked people. Kangin blinked at Eeteuk’s reaction. He thought that Eeteuk was going to have an even larger reaction than him. Instead Eeteuk just told them off lightly and left. Heechul noticed Kibum giggling to himself.
“Bummie! Do you know something that we don’t?” Kibum looked at Heechul, as the rest turned towards him.
“Eeteuk-Umma didn’t scold you ‘cos Kyuhyun asked him not to. But he didn’t want you all to know that.”
“He listened to Kyu?” Eunhyuk asked unbelievably.
“Just think about the incident when I dragged Kyuhyun out to play in the snow.” Ryeowook spoke up.
They smiled as they remembered the incident. Ryeowook and Kyuhyun had escaped a scolding as well due to Kyuhyun’s pleading.
“Umma simply has a soft spot for Kyuhyunnie.”
Donghae summed up all their thoughts. Nods came from everyone, agreeing with Donghae.
“So the next time we want to prank anybody, we shall include Kyu in our plans as the ultimate escape route. He will be able to get us out of any fixes.”
Eunhyuk spoke up excitedly. Donghae turned to him, nodding enthusiastically.
“No corrupting Kyuhyunnie with your pranks!”
Sungmin hit the two on the head with a pillow. The two gave cries of pain as their hands immediately covered their heads to protect from any further hitting.
Kangin took a pillow and threw at the two of them. The two dodged. The pillow hit Shindong who was behind them. Shindong grabbed the pillow and threw it back to Kangin, but it hit Sungmin instead. Sungmin retaliated. Soon it escalated into a full scale pillow fight with all eleven of them throwing and dodging the flying pillows. Laughter came from all of them as they gave in to their inner child.
“Shhh! Kyuhyun’s sleeping!”
Eeteuk came out of the bathroom, standing at the corridor with his arms on his hips. They stilled.
“Oops.” One by one they dropped the pillows from their hands.
“I’ll go wash the dishes right now.” Yesung said running off.
“Me too!” Shindong and Ryeowook exclaimed after Yesung, chasing after him.
Eeteuk shook his head, smiling at them as they ran past him. The smile remained as he looked at the rest.
“I’m glad you’re all having fun. Now, go change or shower and rest.”
Eeteuk shooed the rest out, wanting them to rest properly before their busy schedule tomorrow. The rest rushed out of the room, not wanting to risk being the one Eeteuk would be nagging at about disturbing Kyuhyun. Eeteuk shook his head and sat on the sofa. He thought about tomorrow. Tomorrow, he and Sungmin were going to bring Kyuhyun to the hospital for his physiotherapy and a check-up. He hoped that all would go well tomorrow.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Kyuhyun woke up early the next day, happy yet anxious about the day before him. It had been a long time since he had been to the hospital to visit the children, and he was looking forward to seeing some of them again. He did wished that perhaps this time some of the children would have recovered well enough to go home but he also wanted to see them again. Despite this anticipation, it could not over-ride the anxiousness he felt with regards to the impending physiotherapy session. Kyuhyun knew that he had not been following the regime set by his physiotherapist and he had also done things – such as carrying heavy items and squatting – that were forbidden by his physiotherapist. He didn’t want to imagine his physiotherapist’s reaction when he learned about it. Kyuhyun took his time to dress himself and to pack his bag, making sure that he brought the presents he had prepared for the children. He didn’t want to rush around later to find his things. Satisfied, Kyuhyun stood slowly and walked out of the room.
“Good morning, Eeteuk-hyung.”
Kyuhyun met Eeteuk as they both headed towards the kitchen.
“Ah, Kyuhyunnie, why are you up so early? I thought your session is at 10 am.”
Eeteuk looked at Kyuhyun, puzzled since it was only slightly past eight in the morning.
“I woke up early.”
Kyuhyun continued his search for food inside the kitchen. Eeteuk was left standing at the door, staring at his dongsaeng’s back, thinking whether there was a double meaning to his statement.
“Hyung, why are you standing by the door?”
Sungmin rubbed his eyes as he tapped Eeteuk on the back. Sungmin was carrying his stuffed bunny in his hand, looking blearily at Eeteuk. Eeteuk shook his head and walked in to help Kyuhyun with breakfast.
“Min-ah, you shouldn’t bring your toy into the kitchen. It’ll be dirty.”
Sungmin looked at his bunny, then at Eeteuk.
“But Umma, I’m not in the kitchen. I’m just standing by the door.”
Kyuhyun chuckled. Only Min-hyung can come up with such a statement.
Eeteuk was left staring at the empty space where Sungmin previously stood as Sungmin went back to the room to wash up.
Kyuhyun’s chuckles brought Eeteuk back to reality. Eeteuk turned to Kyuhyun who was making oatmeal by the stove.
“Kyuhyunnie, let me help you.”
Without giving Kyuhyun a chance to react, Eeteuk took the spoon from Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun wanted to protest, but upon seeing his hyung’s determined look, Kyuhyun gave in. He settled for preparing the bowls that would be used later, placing the bowls next to the stove. Eeteuk smiled at that gesture before turning back to the oatmeal with a serious expression. Kyuhyun wondered for a moment if oatmeal was that hard to cook, before deciding to ignore it. He set the spoons on the table and poured two glasses of orange juice and a glass of milk. If Eeteuk knew that he did those things, perhaps Eeteuk would have concluded that stirring a pot of oatmeal would be easier for Kyuhyun.
As Kyuhyun sat down on the chair, he spotted Sungmin.
“Min-hyung, breakfast is almost ready. Do you want to eat?”
Sungmin nodded from his position at the door, having changed out of his sleeping clothes and left his bunny on the bed. Sungmin froze when he saw Eeteuk at the stove.
Sungmin didn’t finish his statement.
“Hyung?” Kyuhyun asked puzzled from his position at the table. Why is Sungmin-hyung staring at Eeteuk-sshi as if he’s an alien?
Sungmin hurriedly made his way to Kyuhyun, taking a seat next to him. He whispered to Kyuhyun as if setting up a conspiracy.
“Why is Umma cooking?”
“’Cos he volunteered…?” Kyuhyun answered with a question, not understanding Sungmin’s secrecy even as he whispered back.
The reason he gave seemed perfectly logical in Kyuhyun’s head even if he wanted to make breakfast by himself once. Kyuhyun wanted things to return to normal, not necessarily the way it had been before the accident. He knew in his heart that there was no way for things to stay the same, but being an independent person for nearly his whole life, Kyuhyun did not feel comfortable with people taking care of him, of his every needs twenty four seven. But Kyuhyun was still thankful for the attention showered on him. It made him feel loved for the few times in his life.
Sungmin stared at Eeteuk before turning back to Kyuhyun.
“But he can’t cook!” Sungmin murmured to Kyuhyun.
“Really?” Kyuhyun peeked at Eeteuk from the corner of his eyes. “But he seems perfectly at ease.”
“Looks are deceiving Kyu.”
Sungmin and Kyuhyun scouted closer to each other, observing Eeteuk. Eeteuk did not hear any of the whispering behind him as he happily stirred the oatmeal, waiting for it to be ready.
“The last time Teukie-Umma tried to cook, Hannie-hyung chased him out of the kitchen.”
Kyuhyun gave Sungmin an incredulous look, not really believing the statement.
“It’s true. Hannie forbid Eeteuk to touch anything on the stove.”
“But he’s only making oatmeal. And not from scratch. I was already halfway through cooking it when he took over. Nothing can go wrong right?”
Sungmin shook his head. “Hopefully.”
“Alright. Breakfast’s ready.”
Eeteuk turned to face them holding two bowls in his hand. The two shared a look before they looked at the bowls placed in front of them. It looked normal, like oatmeal. Kyuhyun picked up a spoon and scooped up some oatmeal. Sungmin watched on anxiously as Kyuhyun placed the spoon into his mouth. Kyuhyun swallowed the oatmeal.
“It tastes alright Hyung. Nothing is burnt.”
Sungmin, believing his dongsaeng’s words though a little doubt remained, ate a mouthful as well.
“It actually tastes like oatmeal!”
Eeteuk coughed from his position across Kyuhyun, having choked on his oatmeal.
“What do you mean it actually tastes like oatmeal?” Eeteuk pouted at Sungmin.
“Min-hyung means that it’s really delicious, right Hyung?”
Kyuhyun nudged Sungmin. Sungmin nodded immediately, agreeing with Kyuhyun.
“Really? But all I did was stirring the oatmeal.”
Eeteuk, although he denied the effort of making the oatmeal taste good, was pleased with the words. It was the first time he was praised for his cooking, though Eeteuk knew that he really didn’t do much.
“Are you all done?”
Eeteuk asked, standing up. He received nods from the other two and he reached over to collect the two bowls.
“Hyung, I’ll wash it.”
Sungmin stood up, gently taking the bowls and spoons from Eeteuk. Having handed the bowls to Sungmin, Eeteuk turned to Kyuhyun only to find Kyuhyun standing already.
“Shall we get ready to leave?”
Kyuhyun nodded, heading to his room to pick up his bag. Eeteuk went to his room to prepare as well.
Kyuhyun sat down on the sofa, trying to wear his socks. It had been a while since he had to wear socks that he had forgotten how to wear them with his injuries. He was not allowed to bend his leg close to himself on the side with the hip injury, while he also could not bend down all the way to reach his foot. Kyuhyun sighed. He needed to re-master the technique of wearing his socks again. I can’t even wear my own socks. He was so frustrated that he almost threw his socks towards the wall when they were gently removed from his hands as his hands were tenderly lowered.
“It’s okay. We’ll take it one step at a time, Kyu. You have not worn your socks for the past few weeks. It’s natural that you are not used to wearing it with your injury.”
Eeteuk’s soft, soothing voice travelled to Kyuhyun’s ears, calming Kyuhyun down.
Kyuhyun knew that, he truly knew everything that Eeteuk had said. But knowing it in his head was different from knowing it in his heart. Kyuhyun kept his head lowered as Eeteuk helped him to put on his socks. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but feel embarrassed that he could not even do a simple thing such as wearing his own socks. At this rate, when will I return to stage?
Eeteuk looked up at Kyuhyun from his kneeling position after helping Kyuhyun put on his socks. He knew that for someone with a strong independent streak like Kyuhyun; it was hard for him to accept help for something as simple as wearing socks. And knowing Kyuhyun, Eeteuk was sure that Kyuhyun was berating himself right now.
“Kyu, look at me.” Eeteuk said in a serious tone.
“I know that you’re feeling dumb because you cannot even wear your socks by yourself, that you can’t do such a simple thing. But being able to do it was before the accident, right now, you’re recovering. You’re different from before the accident. That is something you have to accept. You have to accept that you will have to seek help for the mundane things that you used to do easily before, that you will have to adapt your life with your injury.”
During Eeteuk’s speech, Kyuhyun had slowly lifted his head. It was the first time someone had forced that statement on him. Kyuhyun had known in his heart that he was different, that they had all changed a little since the accident. It was not that he did not accept the fact that he was different. It was precisely because he knew he was different that made him afraid to show his vulnerabilities even more to his hyungs. Kyuhyun believed that being different was never good, that stepping out of the box that people had placed you in was never good. He was fearful of his hyungs’ reactions when they learned that he was actually not as strong as they thought he was; that his independence streak was just something to keep people away from him. With Eeteuk stating so determinedly that he knew that Kyuhyun was different, that Kyuhyun was to accept that, Kyuhyun felt the fear abandon his heart a little.
Eeteuk could tell that Kyuhyun understood what he said, even if there was a little bit of doubt in Kyuhyun’s eyes. What concerned Eeteuk more however was the fleeting tinge of fear he caught in Kyuhyun’s eyes. Eeteuk wanted to know where the fear came from, he wanted to erase any trace of it from his dongsaeng’s eyes.
“Hyung, it’s time to go.”
Sungmin said solemnly next to them. He had walked in on the conversation after washing the dishes. With the seldom seen serious look on Eeteuk’s face when he spoke to Kyuhyun, Sungmin understood the importance of the message Eeteuk was trying to send and kept his silence. Sungmin on the other hand had missed the fear in Kyuhyun’s eyes. That was why he spoke up, thinking that the conversation had ended. Eeteuk looked at his watch and nodded. He would have to pursue the topic with Kyuhyun another day.
Silently, the three made the way to the door with Sungmin picking up Kyuhyun’s bag. Kyuhyun looked at his bag and at Sungmin, knowing that there was no use protesting. He slipped on his shoes and the three left the house.
Upon reaching the hospital, they headed to the doctor first for Kyuhyun’s check-up. It didn’t take long as the doctor just wanted to check on the speed of recovery of Kyuhyun’s hip injury and whether he was having any breathing problems.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, no carrying of heavy items. You’re recovering relatively well, but you strained your back and hip a little for bending down and carrying heavy items. You shouldn’t be doing that. Get help from your family or friends if there is a need to carry heavy items. If you strain your back or hip even more, it will take a longer time for you to recover and it may affect your recovery rate.”
Kyuhyun nodded at the doctor. He had known and had taken the risk willingly when he picked up his mother from the floor that day. But his hyungs did not know that. Eeteuk and Sungmin were staring at Kyuhyun, wondering exactly what their dongsaeng did. Why would Kyuhyun endanger himself like that? They didn’t know the reason and thus they couldn’t understand his actions. They felt strangely disappointed at Kyuhyun for not taking care of his body.
As they stood to leave the office, the doctor asked Eeteuk to stay behind. Eeteuk indicated for them to head towards the physiotherapy room first and he would meet up with them later. Eeteuk turned back towards the doctor.
“Jungsu-sshi, I understand that Kyuhyun-sshi stays with you at the dorm right?”
Eeteuk nodded, not knowing where this conversation was going.
“I would like to ask you to pay close attention to him, but not so much as to overwhelm him. I know that he is a very eager student at his physiotherapy session, always surpassing all the targets his physiotherapist set for him. But I’m worried about his mental self. I’m not saying that he’s crazy”
– The doctor immediately clarified seeing Eeteuk’s raised eyebrows –
“It’s just that I think he hides a lot of things from others. There is a need to slowly get him to reveal bit by bit, so that he can heal. From his stay at the hospital, I suspect that his family is not very close to him, perhaps even to the point of neglect”
– At that Eeteuk openly stared at the doctor. How did he know that? –
“I have thought of assigning a psychiatrist for Kyuhyun-sshi, but I decided that perhaps you all would be a better choice for him. He needs people around him to constantly remind him that he had not been forgotten, that no matter what he does, he would not be abandoned. He needs a family around him. I know he doesn’t talk much, but it doesn’t mean that he is not affected by the things around him. Emotional support is the important thing right now. To simply be there for Kyuhyun-sshi. I hope that you all would be able to be that family for him.”
Eeteuk nodded, absorbing and slowly digesting the doctor’s words. The disappointment he felt at Kyuhyun melted away. Instead it was filled with another worry for Kyuhyun. To Eeteuk, the doctor sounded as if he knew Kyuhyun from somewhere.
“Sir, did you know Kyuhyun-sshi?”
The doctor took off his glasses to wipe, hiding his face from Eeteuk.
“I knew him when he was in Grade 1. I was the school doctor. At first, he was simply shy and afraid to approach others. As the school year progressed, he was constantly at the infirmary with minor injuries like bruises from the other students. He began to fade into the background and became even quieter. But he was still the compassionate child who would always help others even if no one appreciated it. I couldn’t do anything to help him as I had no power. I had no proof that he was neglected at home. Neglect is the hardest to catch as it left no physical mark on the child. I could not afford to get close to him as I was only assigned to the school for six months. I feared that it would be worse for him when I left if I was close to him. It was only when I left the school that I realised that the reason for the extreme quietness was his parents’ divorce.”
Eeteuk stared at the doctor. What? He couldn’t believe it.
“Why are you telling me now?”
Eeteuk wanted to know the motivation for telling him that.
“It’s because I never forgot about the little boy who tried so hard to be strong, waving goodbye to a doctor whom he only saw for short periods of time and refusing to cry over it. Seeing him again brought back those memories. I’m telling you this because I want to see that little kid who, though shy, was always there to play a song or sing a song when I’m sad or frustrated, to see the little kid who wasn’t afraid of asking questions or other people’s reactions. Because I know I can’t do it, but you all can. You all can bring out the child that should never have been suppressed for so long. The bond you share with Kyuhyun-sshi is unique. Nothing can replace that. And that is the most important thing that you have to convince Kyuhyun-sshi of.”
The doctor looked at Eeteuk straight in the eyes, showing Eeteuk that he had been truthful in every one of his statements. Eeteuk nodded slowly, still not comprehending everything he had just heard. But one thing he knew – they were going to somehow convince Kyuhyun that none of them would leave him. Eeteuk left the room, thanking the doctor. He sat down on one of the hard plastic chairs nearby, burying his head in his hands, trying to make sense of everything. The reason for Kyuhyun straining his back was already forgotten.
Kyuhyun and Sungmin walked in silence towards the room. Kyuhyun was thinking about his mother for the first time in days. He was thinking if she had fully recovered from her illness and whether someone was taking care of her. Kyuhyun was trying hard not to think of what the doctor had said of his recovery rate. He was trying to lock that out of his mind. Somewhere in his mind, there was a thought of whether it was worth it to risk his dream for his mother, to risk being with all his hyungs for his mother. Kyuhyun shook his head. She’s your mother. Whatever you do will be worth it. Kyuhyun tried to convince himself, feeling guilty for thinking bad about his mother. But his mother had never reciprocated all his feelings and hard work. Instead all he got were cold shoulders and even the occasional slap. He doubted that his mother even knew what he had almost sacrificed for her.
Kyuhyun was willing to risk it all for his mother, but after so many years of pure neglect, Kyuhyun was tired of making any efforts anymore. He was tired of always being the one to initiate any contact between the two. He was tired of feeling the cold shower wash over him when nothing he did pleased his mother. Why can’t Mother look at me in the eyes for once? Why? All he ever wanted was for his mother to praise him once for something he did.
Sungmin was looking at Kyuhyun with a little disappointment written on his face. He couldn’t understand how Kyuhyun had strained his back. He knew how much Kyuhyun wanted to rejoin them again, having heard from Kibum. But if he wanted to join us as soon as possible, he would not have done anything that might strain his back.
“Kyuhyun.” Sungmin called out, snapping Kyuhyun out of his spiralling thoughts into darkness.
“Why did you carry heavy things?” There was a little bit of reproach that could be heard from Sungmin’s voice.
Kyuhyun shifted subtly away from Sungmin. He had learned from experience that bad things occurred with such tone especially when coupled with a disappointed look. But Kyuhyun didn’t feel like telling Sungmin the reason. He didn’t want to appear like a child in front of Sungmin. He felt stupid that the reason he strained his back and hips was because he carried his mother. The reason sounded lame even in his heart. Kyuhyun shook his head.
“Kyu.” Sungmin’s voice became serious.
Kyuhyun almost gave in but he held on. “Nothing, Hyung.”
Kyuhyun saw that they were reaching the physiotherapy room.
“Kyuhyun, I thought that you wanted to return to us as soon as possible. But why did you strain your back and hip? It almost seems as if you don’t want to join us again.”
As the words left Sungmin’s mouth, Sungmin immediately wanted to eat them up. Sungmin knew Kyuhyun did not feel that way. It came out of his mouth in his frustration at Kyuhyun’s refusal to answer. Seeing the shock look – even for just a millisecond – confirmed Sungmin’s guilt.
“Hyung, I would like to go in myself. You don’t have to accompany me. I’ll be fine.”
Sungmin tried to inject an apology but Kyuhyun continued to talk, pretending that Sungmin did not say anything.
“Could you help me pass the gifts to the children at the paediatric ward? Bring Eeteuk-hyung with you.”
Kyuhyun pointed to the bag on Sungmin’s shoulder.
“I have some presents for the kids. Could you help me bring it there for them? I’ll head there after my session. I just want to get through it on my own.”
Kyuhyun repeated his statement, hoping that it was enough distraction from Sungmin’s questioning and to stop Sungmin from apologising.
“I’ll find Eeteuk-hyung and bring the presents there for you. Kyu…”
“Thanks, Hyung. I’m going in now.”
Kyuhyun mustered a small smile and turned to enter the room.
“I want to be back. I really want to.”
Sungmin heard the two sentences being whispered under Kyuhyun’s breathe, knowing that Kyuhyun had not wanted him to hear it. Sungmin stared at Kyuhyun’s back suddenly noticing just how small his dongsaeng looked. Kyuhyun used to look tall and slim. But now, Sungmin felt that Kyuhyun was truly smaller than him. It made Sungmin know truly that he might have irreparably destroyed their relationship with his words.
Kyuhyun composed himself before walking towards his physiotherapist. Kyuhyun had originally wanted to ask his hyungs to pass the presents to the kids as he did not want them there to see him at his weakest. The physiotherapy sessions were always draining and Kyuhyun came out of almost every lesson demoralised. He didn’t want to lose his last string of dignity to his hyungs. If not, he would no longer have anything to protect him anymore. But Kyuhyun felt the distinct sting in his heart when he heard Sungmin’s words. There was never any doubt before that Kyuhyun wanted to join them, wanted to be part of them. For Sungmin to doubt his presence, it made Kyuhyun feel as though he had went back to the time when he first debuted as the thirteenth member of Super Junior. Do I really belong there?
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
Kibum messaged Eeteuk as he entered the hospital, informing Eeteuk that he had finished with his schedule and was going to meet up with them after Kyuhyun’s physiotherapy session. Stopping to ask the nurse where the physiotherapy session was held, Kibum carried his bag and headed to the room. Kibum didn’t ask where they were as he assumed that they would be waiting for Kyuhyun outside of the room. This would be the first time any of them was accompanying Kyuhyun to the physiotherapy session as none of them were willing to let Kyuhyun travel by himself to the hospital. If I could, I’ll keep him in my sight forever.
Kibum felt as though every time Kyuhyun was out of his sights, something bad would happen to him. It had been two close calls that had left all of them shaken out of their wits. But now, they were making some progress, even if it was slow. Kibum knew that Kyuhyun was feeling better and more reassured of his relationship with the rest of them in the past few days especially with the outing he took with Yesung, Ryeowook and Shindong. It was the first time that all of them had spent so much time with Kyuhyun and Kibum was sure that it played a part in improving their relationship with each other.
Kibum arrived in front of the room, but he didn’t spot Eeteuk or Sungmin anywhere near. Kibum looked about trying to see if he could find his hyungs but there was no one in sight. Kibum shrugged and looked into the room. Maybe they’re inside. Kibum only saw Kyuhyun and the therapist in the room, but what he saw made Kibum pushed open the door immediately.
Kyuhyun had begun the physiotherapy lesson slowly. His physiotherapist had wanted him to take it slow and steady as he had not gone for a lesson for about two weeks. The therapist wanted to track his progress before deciding on anything. Kyuhyun was progressing well on the light weights, feeling only a little stretched on his back and leg. It was normal to feel a bit stretched as it meant that he was doing it correctly. Kyuhyun was sweating from the exercises that he was doing and he was trying very hard to concentrate on the exercises he was doing instead of the words that Sungmin had said.
Then they progressed to the walking. The physiotherapist was impressed with Kyuhyun’s progress. Despite not making it for the lessons, Kyuhyun still kept up his progress and even improved a little. Kyuhyun was able to walk the whole distance without once reaching out to hold the poles next to him. It was an achievement by itself. Hence the therapist decided to progress to the next stage of the physiotherapy – the treadmill. Having regained enough strength and balance in his legs, Kyuhyun was on task to recover well.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, we’re going to try the treadmill today. I know it’s your first time on it so we’ll be taking it slow. You’re going to try a slight jog on the treadmill. I’ll set it at the slowest speed. Just try your best to jog. But at any point if you feel that you can’t keep up with the pace or if your back or leg hurt, tell me.”
Kyuhyun nodded at the words, composing himself as he stood on the treadmill. He would do his best. He would show it to Sungmin-hyung and the rest of his hyungs that he wanted to be back on stage with them, that he didn’t want to be left behind again. He would prove his worth and his dedication to the group.
Kyuhyun nodded to his therapist indicating that he was ready to start anytime. The machine started. Kyuhyun began to jog slowly, trying to get used to the movements. He had been so used to taking things slow that his body seemed to have forgotten how to move faster. So focused on urging his limbs and body to move faster, Kyuhyun didn’t notice the ten minutes passing quickly.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, I’m going to stop the treadmill now.” The physiotherapist informed Kyuhyun, telling him to start slowing down as well.
Kyuhyun snapped his head to the therapist. He really didn’t notice the passing of time. As the treadmill began to slow down, Kyuhyun slowed down, allowing him to feel the strain in his legs and his back. The physiotherapist helped Kyuhyun off the treadmill leading him to the bench to stretch and rest. After stretching, Kyuhyun sat down, wiping the sweat off his face.
The physiotherapist sat down next to Kyuhyun, pleased with his progress. The only thing that the physiotherapist was concerned about was that Kyuhyun was straining himself a little too much, putting too much effort into his recovery almost to the stage where he was going to do more harm than good to himself.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, I know that you want to recover faster. I can see it through the efforts that you put in. But there has to be a limit on how much you can push yourself to achieve. You are progressing well, excellently as compared to many others.” The physiotherapist said to Kyuhyun, praising Kyuhyun but also trying to warn Kyuhyun about straining himself.
Kyuhyun shook his head. “But it’s still not fast enough.” Sungmin’s doubt still lingered in his head.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, physiotherapy is not about forcing yourself to do more than you can harder or to challenge your limits. It is about knowing how to pace yourself to get the optimal recovery speed. Straining yourself would only serve to do more harm than good. You’ve already put in a lot of effort. And if you continue to progress like this, I’m sure you’ll be able to join your team again.”
Kyuhyun listened but found it hard to believe the words. His mind kept wondering to Sungmin’s words.
“It almost seems as if you don’t want to join us again.”
He had always felt insecure about his place within Super Junior, especially since he had joined them late and unlike most of them, Kyuhyun had not been part of the SM training team with them. It was hard to fit in. Kyuhyun was never one to talk much and he didn’t really interact much with others. He was like the ugly duckling which stood out from the rest. Kyuhyun didn’t know how to fit in. He saw the twelve of them as a family, complete with the roles of father and mother. He craved to be part of that family, but Kyuhyun held back. Being rejected once was enough. Kyuhyun didn’t want to put himself up for another rejection. With all the controversy surrounding his status as the thirteenth member of Super Junior, Kyuhyun was unwilling to believe that he would be a permanent part of the group. The anti-fans had done nothing to boost his confidence or belief. Even after so many months, the small seed of doubt still remained. The accident became nutrients for the seed, allowing it to blossom and grow into a sprout, laying roots in his heart.
To think that even his hyung doubt his dedication to the group, Kyuhyun wondered if the rest of them thought the same as well. He needed to do better at the lessons, he needed to recover better. He did not want to lose his place within Super Junior. He didn’t want to be replaced just as how his father did with him and his mother. He didn’t want to lose the second group of people who made him feel loved. He wanted to be back with them so much that Kyuhyun was frustrated with his progress even if his physiotherapist praised him. Kyuhyun didn’t notice but tears began to flow down his face as he remembered the feeling of being left alone in the world, first by his father, next by his best friend, then by his hyungs in his dream. The dream was like a ghost haunting him, scaring him at full force whenever he thought that things were progressing well.
His therapist did nothing to comfort him, knowing that Kyuhyun had to give way to his emotions. His therapist knew that something was not quite right with Kyuhyun when Kyuhyun had entered the room with a pensive look on his face and confirmed the feeling when Kyuhyun did not blush at his praise. Kyuhyun had always been glad to receive any sort of statement that told him that he had progressed, but today, instead of being happy, Kyuhyun had been upset about it. Knowing that any attempts to comfort Kyuhyun would be rejected, the therapist settled to be a quiet comforter, silently lending his presence to Kyuhyun. He spied Kibum from the corner of his eyes, looking up when the door was pushed opened. He stopped Kibum from reaching Kyuhyun, who gave no indication that he noticed Kibum.
“Who are you?”
Kibum looked worriedly at Kyuhyun. “I’m his friend, Kibum.”
The therapist needed to check first as no one had visited Kyuhyun at a session before. The therapist had wondered briefly about it as he heard from the nurses that Kyuhyun did have friends who visited him rather often. Kibum turned to the therapist.
“Why is Kyuhyun crying? Is he not doing well in the session?”
The therapist shook his head.
“No, he’s progressing well. Today he even progressed onto the treadmill despite his absence in the past two weeks. The only thing he needs to take care of is not to overdo things. He cannot afford to strain his muscles when he is still recovering or he would not be able to regain all his abilities.”
Kibum nodded, promising himself to keep an eye on Kyuhyun.
“Is there anything we can do for him at home?”
“He knows his routine and has been diligently practising it at home as it shows in his progress. It’ll be good for him not to stay at home all day. Bring him out on walks for about half an hour to slowly ease him back to normal life. It would also be good to let do the things he used to do by himself, like preparing his own food. Don’t hover around him too much. Let him regain back his independence. Let him know that he can do certain things by himself. That is important. He needs to know and feel that he can do it.”
Kibum nodded, printing everything the therapist in his head. He would let his hyungs know as well.
“I’ll leave you with him. He seemed upset throughout the whole session today.” The therapist patted Kibum on the shoulder and left the room, giving the two some privacy.
Kibum walked to Kyuhyun, kneeling down in front of him.
Kyuhyun looked up in shock. He had missed Kibum’s entrance totally. He hastily lifted his hands to wipe away the tears, not wanting Kibum to see them, although Kibum already did.
“Kibum-hyung, when did you come?”
“Just. Why are you crying?”
Kyuhyun shook his head.
“Kyuhyun, it’s not nothing if it made you cry.”
Kibum refused to accept the common answer Kyuhyun always gave. Kibum was about to ask again when Kyuhyun spoke.
“Hyung, do you think that I’m not putting enough effort in my recovery?”
“Do I think what?” Kibum was not sure if he caught the whispered question correctly.
“Do you think that I don’t want to be back in Super Junior?”
“What? Why would I think so?” Kibum asked incredulously.
Kyuhyun shrugged his shoulders.
“Kyu, I know you want to be back. I never doubted your efforts. Why are you asking this?”
Kyuhyun kept his silence. He could feel a little flutter in his heart as Kibum acknowledged his efforts. Having his hyung telling him that his efforts were visible was worth much more than his therapist telling him about his progress. Kyuhyun knew that it was partially his fault for not telling Sungmin how he strained his back, but Kyuhyun didn’t want be scolded for his efforts. Jong Ki had never understood his need for his mother’s approval. In fact Jong Ki had frowned at his efforts to seek for his mother’s attention. Kyuhyun didn’t try to convince Jong Ki of his reasons, knowing that Jong Ki would not understand, having came from such a loving family. And though Jong Ki was there every time his efforts had gone unnoticed, it still hurt that his best friend could not understand his actions.
Kibum needed Kyuhyun to speak. He needed to understand what Kyuhyun was thinking about.
“Kyuhyun, you will recover, but the process is hard. Ask Heechul-hyung. He has been through it. He would know how you feel. You are not alone. You don’t have to face everything yourself. We are here for you. We will get through every step with you. Please, don’t keep everything to yourself.”
Kibum held on to Kyuhyun’s hand, speaking empathetically, hoping to get through to Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun, though there was no outward reaction, was touched by Kibum’s words. He had been so focused on himself that he had neglected to look around him, to see that his hyungs were all there for him. Kyuhyun had forgotten that he was no longer in school, that he was no longer alone where he had no one to talk to. It was a reflex action to keep everything to himself as he never had anyone to share his feelings with.
“The doctor said to me not to strain myself anymore during my recovery even if I was recovering well.” Kyuhyun spoke up, still in his soft voice.
“Sungmin-hyung took it that I didn’t want to join you all again on stage when I refused to tell him how I strained it.”
Kibum felt a little anger at Sungmin for questioning Kyuhyun’s resolve. But Kibum understood why Sungmin thought that way as none of them besides Kibum had seen the effort that Kyuhyun had placed into his physiotherapy.
Kibum had come to visit Kyuhyun once, stumbling onto Kyuhyun after his physiotherapy lesson. Kyuhyun had been exhausted and had fallen asleep on his bed. The nurse who had brought Kyuhyun back had told Kibum about Kyuhyun’s session. That was when Kibum found out just how much Kyuhyun had progressed in such a short time.
“How did you strain it?”
Kibum could not deny that he was curious as well. Kyuhyun looked at Kibum, wondering about his hyung’s reaction when he learned the reason.
“I carried my mother to her bed.”
Kibum didn’t think that Kyuhyun could go softer than before, but Kyuhyun proved him wrong. Kibum strained to catch the words. As the words registered in Kibum’s head, Kyuhyun thought that Kibum was like Jong Ki as well.
“You carried her when she was sick?” Kibum asked, receiving a slight nod.
“Ki-hyung must think that I’m dumb right? Straining myself for someone who doesn’t care about me?”
Kyuhyun gave a harsh laugh that Kibum never want to hear from Kyuhyun again.
“I don’t think you’re dumb. You never are. Stubborn, yes. Dumb, no. She is your mother no matter what we think about her. You will always feel something for her. Even if we do not agree that she deserves to be your mother, to you, she will forever be your mother. It doesn’t matter if she cared for you or not, somewhere in your heart you will be looking for her approval for the things you do. I may not like that but I can understand. I will convince you. We will convince you that you don’t need any approval or acceptance from your parents. What you need is simply our – as your family – love and acceptance.”
Kyuhyun looked at Kibum, shock on his face. He never expected anyone to understand his motives, and yet here there was one person who sat right in front of him who could almost echo exactly how he felt towards his mother. It truly made him consider about not looking forward for any reaction besides a cold stare or a physical slap from his mother. Kyuhyun felt a little reassured about his position in Super Junior – as a family. He could almost understand what Kibum was saying. Kibum was telling Kyuhyun that he only needed love and support from his family, and his family may not be the people who created him. Kyuhyun was that close to letting his heart be convinced of that statement, that belief. For now, Kyuhyun could not echo the sentiment felt by Kibum. He could only muster a smile at Kibum’s words, feeling his sight blurring a little. Kibum stood up and ruffled Kyuhyun’s hair, successfully getting rid of the previous sombre atmosphere. Kibum reached out to pull Kyuhyun up. He waited for Kyuhyun to stabilise before asking Kyuhyun.
“Do you know where Eeteuk-hyung and Sungmin-hyung are?”
Kyuhyun nodded as the two walked out of the room.
“I sent them to the paediatric ward to help me give out presents for the children.”
“Let’s head there now then. You’ll have to direct me. I have no idea where that is.” Kibum said, following the therapist’s advice to let Kyuhyun have some responsibility, even though Kibum really had no idea where the ward was.
Kyuhyun simply smiled at Kibum, signalling that he would lead the way. It was the indication to Kibum that he had done the correct thing.
Kibum was absorbed in his thoughts as the two slowly made their way to the paediatric ward. Kibum understood that his conversation with Kyuhyun was far from over but he could not hold the conversation alone with Kyuhyun. He needed someone else with him. Kibum knew that Sungmin’s words must have caused the doubt in Kyuhyun’s mind. Kibum knew that Kyuhyun always carried the small doubt in him that he could be easily replaced by someone else since he was so easily added into the group, that he did not belong to the group. The accident that sidelined him and the subsequent anti-fans that popped up again did nothing to ease Kyuhyun’s doubt.
Kibum was going to set Hankyung on Kyuhyun, knowing that his hyung was the best to talk to with all the doubts. If he could, Kibum would set Heechul and Hankyung both on Kyuhyun. With both combined, they would be able to understand best what Kyuhyun was going through. And before he did that, Kibum had something to clarify with Sungmin.
Sungmin walked down the corridor to the lift to wait for Eeteuk there. He needed to sort out his feelings. Sungmin still could not figure out why he had said that to Kyuhyun. He was disappointed, but not to the point that he felt that Kyuhyun was not committed enough to Super Junior. Sungmin knew how hard Kyuhyun had worked since joining Super Junior with his vocal training and dance training, especially since the incident that had scared all of them. Sungmin could not understand how he could have doubted Kyuhyun’s dedication towards them. He was so disappointed that he could not think straight. I’ll be just like his mother if I don’t do anything about it.
Sungmin knew that he had to apologise and he had to try; no he had to convince Kyuhyun that he did not mean it. Sungmin was so absorbed in his self-reproaching that he did not notice Eeteuk walking up towards him from the bench outside the doctor’s room.
Eeteuk sat on the chair, wondering about what he was going to do next with Kyuhyun. He had suspected – they all had – that Kyuhyun was seriously neglected at home. It was just that Eeteuk had not suspected that it began at such a young age. To learn that his parents divorced when he was seven was also startling. Hearing from the doctor about some of the things Kyuhyun did when he was younger made Eeteuk really mad at his parents and those who had bullied Kyuhyun.
It made Kyuhyun who he was today – a brilliant and polite singer who was totally in need of love from his family; someone who doubted his ability, who doubted his place with anyone, who was always cautious about others’ reaction which made him such an empathetic person, who did not place his trust in others, protecting himself at a distance from everyone.
Eeteuk wanted to rectify all that, he wanted Kyuhyun to know his own value, to know that he was appreciated and that he belonged. Eeteuk agreed with the doctor. It was time to make a move, instead of waiting for Kyuhyun to open up to them. That was their job as Kyuhyun’s hyungs. And they were going to do a brilliant job at it. Eeteuk stood up and nodded to himself. He needed to involve others in his plan and he would explain to everyone later tonight.
Eeteuk headed to the physiotherapy room to find Sungmin and Kyuhyun. Spotting Sungmin by the lifts, Eeteuk walked up to him.
“Minnie ah, what are you doing here?” Eeteuk asked when he was next to Sungmin.
When he received no answer, Eeteuk asked again, this time waving a hand across Sungmin’s face.
“Huh?” Recognition appeared in Sungmin’s eyes. “Oh Eeteuk-hyung, you’re here.”
“What had you so absorbed in?”
“Nothing, I was just thinking. Oh, Kyuhyun asked us to bring these gifts to the paediatric ward to give out to the children there.”
Sungmin quickly denied anything, instead turning the attention to the gifts in the bag.
Eeteuk didn’t look like he believed Sungmin but let it go for the moment.
“Paediatric ward? How did Kyu know the children there?”
Sungmin shook his head. “I don’t know. He just told me to bring them there and wait for him there.”
Eeteuk nodded. “Let’s go then.”
Eeteuk and Sungmin entered the lift. Arriving at the paediatric ward, Eeteuk approached one of the nurses.
“Excuse me Miss.”
The nurse paused from her game with a child.
“Yes? How can I help you?”
“Erm, we have a bag of gifts here that our friend asked us to give to the children.”
“Yes, his name is Kyuhyun. Cho Kyuhyun. Do you know him?”
“Oh, Kyuhyun-sshi. I know him.” The nurse’s eyes lit up with recognition at Kyuhyun’s name.
“May I ask how you know him?”
“Kyuhyun-sshi visited the children often during his stay in the hospital. He played with the children and sang for them. They all loved him. He really brightened up the kids’ stay at the hospital. Hold down for a moment while I gather the children.”
Eeteuk and Sungmin nodded.
“Children, listen up. These two nice hyungs here have brought you presents. Can you guess who they’re from?”
The children all looked up from their respective spots. The nurses who were playing with the children did as well.
“Kyu-hyung gave them to you.”
Immediately, almost all the children rushed towards Eeteuk and Sungmin, almost creating a stampede. Only a few children remained behind not understanding what the whole excitement was about. Eeteuk and Sungmin had no clue what to do when they saw all the children rushing towards them. The nurse stood in front of the two, raising her hand.
“Hold on, let the hyungs give them out to you okay?”
The kids halted in front of them, listening to the nurse. Eeteuk shook himself and bent down. Sungmin followed.
“Hi. I’m Eeteuk. You are?”
That simple sentence began the enjoyable afternoon for the two in the hospital. The children lifted their spirits, causing them to push their worries to the back of their minds. Eeteuk was just upset for not knowing what Kyuhyun did at the hospital.
Soon, Eeteuk and Sungmin were in the middle of a circle which was made up by the children, singing and dancing, thoroughly entertaining the children. That was the scene Kyuhyun and Kibum saw when they entered the room. The nurse spotted the two and was about to exclaim when Kyuhyun indicated to her to stay quiet. The nurse nodded, letting the two through. Kibum tried to sneak towards the back of Eeteuk, wanting to surprise him but they were two conspicuous. The children spotted both of them straight away. Or rather, they spotted Kyuhyun.
The exclamation caused the two performers to stop in their actions. The children surrounded Kyuhyun in a split second, each babbling about the days they had and the presents they had received from him. Kyuhyun smiled at all of them, trying his best to keep his balance with everyone fighting to hug his legs and trying to figure out exactly what each of them was saying. Luckily, Kibum was there to act as a pole for Kyuhyun to grab hold of. He was not very stable in the first place since the accident and coupled with fatigue from his physiotherapy session, Kyuhyun struggled to keep his balance. Kibum placed a hand around Kyuhyun’s waist, supporting some of his weight.
“Okay kids, move away from your Kyu-hyung. Give him some space.” Eeteuk spoke up from his position seeing how Kyuhyun wobbled with the kids around his legs.
The children nodded, all taking a couple of steps back and sitting down on the floor. Kyuhyun sent an appreciative look at Eeteuk before turning back to the children. There were a couple of new faces, but mostly old ones.
“So how have you all been?”
That question ignited a loud conversation as they all fought for Kyuhyun’s attention.
“One by one. One by one. I can’t hear all of you at the same time.” Kyuhyun laughed a little as he spoke, calming the children down.
As the three watch Kyuhyun interact with the kids from the chair, all found a side of Kyuhyun they had never known about. Being such a quiet person when he was with them, Kyuhyun did not strike any of them as being good with children. But surprisingly, Kyuhyun handled the kids very well, even if Kyuhyun still did not speak much. Kibum was glad to see the smile on Kyuhyun’s face, knowing that the children held special spots in Kyuhyun’s heart.
“Where’s Jyung Yi-sshi?” Kyuhyun asked spotting a missing person who was not mentioned by the rest.
The children immediately fell silent. A cold shiver went through Kyuhyun.
“Kyuhyun-sshi…” Kyuhyun turned to the nurse.
“Kyuhyun-sshi, Jyung Yi-sshi is in the isolation ward.”
Kyuhyun turned back to the children.
“I’m going to visit Jyung Yi-sshi now. I have a gift for him. I’ll come and visit you all again another day. Be good. And I’ll bring more hyungs next time to play with you.” Kyuhyun said, standing up with a little help from Kibum.
The children nodded.
The atmosphere was a little subdued as the children all knew that Jyung Yi was most likely not coming back.
Kyuhyun knew that something truly bad had occurred to Jyung Yi. They waved farewell to the children as they walked out with the nurse. Outside the ward, Kyuhyun turned back to the nurse. The nurse, knowing what Kyuhyun wanted, spoke.
“His leukaemia came back. This time even harder than before. The prospect of a recovery is not looking very good now. Maybe you could visit him. It’ll definitely brighten his day.”
Kyuhyun nodded, his face scrunched with worry. The nurse bowed at them before taking her leave.
The four headed to the isolation ward to see the child. There were two people standing outside the glass, staring into the room. The man had his arms around the woman, who was sniffling a little.
“Erm, sir? I’m Cho Kyuhyun. Is it possible for me to visit your son?”
The man looked up at Kyuhyun’s question, wondering what relation Kyuhyun had with his son.
The woman too turned to Kyuhyun when she heard her husband repeat the name.
“Are you the Kyu-hyung that my son talks about?”
“May I see him?”
The two looked at each other, torn. One part of them wanted to let their son see the hyung he had been talking about for the past month. But another part of them was not willing to expose the young man in front of them to the despair that they had felt when they saw their son lying so pale and sickly on the bed. The mother could sense that the young man – or young boy to her – in front of her was dealing with a lot of problems himself. One could call it a motherly instinct, but something about Kyuhyun simply screamed ‘Protect me!’ to the mother. But the love for her child won out instead. She wanted to let her son have his wish of seeing his hyung again. She knew that her son was dying, and she wanted her son to go peacefully without regrets. She nodded at Kyuhyun’s request, who shot a grateful look to her.
The four walked towards the door and entered the room. A nurse stopped them, telling that only one of them could enter the isolation ward at a time and that the one entering had to suit up. Kyuhyun nodded and went to suit up. The rest did not say anything even though they wanted someone to accompany Kyuhyun into the room. It had took a while for them to reach the isolation ward as Kyuhyun was tired from the physiotherapy session and his legs were not going to hold his weight for much longer. The three stood from the nurse’s station and watched as Kyuhyun walked slowly to the bed.
Kyuhyun took a seat on the chair next to the bed.
“Jyung Yi ah, guess who’s here?”
The little boy, who was giving the blanket a fight of who was whiter, turned towards Kyuhyun.
“It’s me, Kyuhyun.”
A smile lit up the boy’s face.
“You’ve came Kyu-hyung. Do you know that I’ve been waiting for you to come?”
Kyuhyun nodded. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come. Here I have something for you as an apology.”
Kyuhyun kept his smile despite being shocked by Jyung Yi’s appearance. He took out the toy car from his bag and handed it to Jyung Yi. The boy was so weak that he was unable to support the weight of the car. Kyuhyun wrapped the boy’s hands around the car, helping him support it.
“It’s the car I saw on the magazine that day. Kyu-hyung, you didn’t forget about it.”
Kyuhyun shook his head at that.
“But I won’t be able to play with it for long.”
“Don’t say that. You’ll recover soon and be back with the rest. Then you’ll be able to play with the car.”
“Kyu-hyung, I’m eleven, not four. I know what is happening. I know I’m going to die soon. There’s no need to bluff me.” Jyung Yi said matter-of-factly to Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun didn’t know what to say to that, except hold the hands even tighter.
“Umma says that when people die, they’ll go to heaven. And there are angels up there. Umma says that the angels are all very beautiful and kind. Kyu-hyung, have you seen any? Do you think they’ll be kind to me as well?”
Jyung Yi turned the subject, not allowing Kyuhyun to dwell much on his death.
“Have I seen angels?” Kyuhyun asked, wanting some time to compose himself at an eleven-year-old kid’s question.
Jyung Yi nodded, looking expectantly at Kyuhyun.
“I’ve seen angels. They come in all shapes and sizes, and many different personalities as well. Some are brilliant at cooking, while others are like children always mischievous and throwing pranks. There are those who act like Ummas and Appas and others like Oppas. But they all have one thing in common. And that is, they are all very kind and caring.”
“Do you know any?”
“I do. I know twelve of them. In fact, there are three standing outside right now. See?”
Kyuhyun pointed to the glass where Eeteuk, Sungmin and Kibum were standing at.
“Wave to them, Jyung Yi.”
With Kyuhyun’s help, Jyung Yi was able to wave to the three, getting a wave back from them as well.
“Are they really angels, Kyu-hyung?”
“They are my angels.” Kyuhyun truly believed that his hyungs were heaven-sent gifts to him.
Jyung Yi turned back to Kyuhyun with twinkling eyes.
“They are really pretty and handsome.”
Kyuhyun smiled at Jyung Yi.
“Do you think I’ll see kind angels in heaven?” Jyung Yi repeated his unanswered question.
Kyuhyun was puzzled. He did not see the significance of the question.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I’m bad.”
Kyuhyun didn’t get it.
“Because I’m going to leave my Appa and Umma behind. That makes me bad ‘cos they would not have people to take care of them next time. ‘Cos I’m leaving them behind for a new life.”
Kyuhyun felt tears forming in his eyes. It was such a mature and yet innocent thought that simply screamed at Kyuhyun that Jyung Yi was just an eleven-year-old child whose life was tragically shortened by cancer. He took the toy car from Jyung Yi’s hands, placing it on the table. He held on to Jyung Yi’s hands again, rubbing them together.
“They will be kind to you. Because you’re leaving for a new life not because you chose to, not because you wanted to. But because your life is simply taken away from you. They will be kind because they know how much you care for your Appa and Umma, because they know that you don’t want to leave them. And they will be kind to you, if not, Kyu-hyung will go up there personally to make sure they do.”
Kyuhyun’s tears fell silently as he spoke, his voice hitching at times. He smiled a little at the end, trying to inject some humour, but failing terribly. Jyung Yi smiled at Kyuhyun’s words.
“Kyu-hyung, don’t cry. Angels aren’t supposed to cry. Umma says that it’ll rain when an angel cries. I don’t like rain. So don’t cry. Kyu-hyung, you’re not allowed to go up there to do that. You’re to stay here. Although I say you’re an angel, you don’t belong there. You belong to your twelve angels who are down here with you. You don’t belong to me. I’ll find my own angels when I’m in heaven.”
Jyung Yi spoke with innocence and wisdom that he should not possess. It only made Kyuhyun cry even harder.
“Thank you Kyu-hyung for coming. I’m a little tired now. Could you send my parents in? I want to see them one last time.”
Kyuhyun wanted to say no, he wanted Jyung Yi to continue fighting that one more bit. But no words came to his mouth. Kyuhyun turned to the glass, waving to Jyung Yi’s parents to come in. The two immediately rushed to suit up. Jyung Yi had his eyes closed while facing the door. Kyuhyun watched as tears continued to flow. Eeteuk, Sungmin and Kibum looked on from outside, all wishing that they could be inside with Kyuhyun right now. They all saw the little child’s strength as he had not cried a single moment since Kyuhyun entered, a smile permanently on his face, despite the fact that death was staring at his face. As the parents rushed in, Kyuhyun stood up from his seat, backing away from the two parents. Kyuhyun could not stand watching the scene and heading out of the room.
Eeteuk and Sungmin helped him to take off the cap, gown and mask as Kyuhyun leaned a little on Kibum. They were about to leave the room when the mother screamed. Kyuhyun spun back, losing his balance but was caught by Sungmin’s quick reflexes. They saw the mother screaming hysterically at her son while the father tried to shake his son awake. Kyuhyun knew as the doctor arrived that Jyung Yi had succumbed to leukaemia. Kyuhyun gave no notice of the tears that flowed relentlessly down his face. Eeteuk, Sungmin and Kibum all had tears in their eyes.
By the time the doctor announced the time of death, the parents had calmed down. They had already accepted the knowledge that their son was dying and that it was a miracle that he had held on for so long. As they left the room, silently supporting each other, Eeteuk, Sungmin, Kibum and Kyuhyun bowed, offering their condolences.
Kyuhyun was not really in shock as he anticipated it from Jyung Yi’s words. But the death was still shocking, considering he had just spoken with the child.
“Thank you for visiting him. He’s been waiting for your visit. And I was almost afraid that he could not hold on till he met you again.”
The father thanked Kyuhyun for not letting his son leave with regrets.
Kyuhyun shook his head. His visit was not worth that much.
Eeteuk saw Kyuhyun’s pale face which was a combination of the physiotherapy and the shock of Jyung Yi’s death in addition to something that happened between Kyuhyun, Sungmin and Kibum. It was time for them to head home. They bid their farewell to Jyung Yi’s parents, Kyuhyun with tears still falling.
Kyuhyun leaned heavily on Kibum as his energy was sapped from the emotionally draining farewell with Jyung Yi. Sungmin walked on the other side of Kyuhyun, helping Kibum support Kyuhyun. Eeteuk bowed again to the parents and turned to leave.
The mother’s voice stopped him.
“Please take care of Kyuhyun-sshi. I can tell that he’s been through a lot. He’s special to my son. Thus he’s special to us. Please help us take care of him for Jyung Yi.”
Eeteuk nodded, bowing once again. As he turned to follow the three, Eeteuk wiped the tears away from his face. Tears were for another day. Today he needed to be strong to support Kyuhyun. Eeteuk easily caught up with rest.
They headed for the taxi stand which luckily had no queue. They boarded the taxi and headed home. On the taxi, all three kept shooting Kyuhyun concerned looks as the tears did not seem to stop, but Kyuhyun was not making any noise.
“He asked me if the angels in heaven would be kind to him.” Kyuhyun suddenly spoke, causing all three to focus more intently on him.
“I said that they would be kind to him, if not, I’ll go up there personally to make sure that they are.”
The words shocked the rest. Is he…?
“He told me that angels aren’t supposed to cry. That his mother told him that it’ll rain when an angel cries. That he doesn’t like rain. So I shouldn’t cry.”
Kyuhyun paused a little as he reached up to wipe away the tears, which continued to fall non-stop.
“He told me that I’m not allowed to go up there to help him. That I don’t belong there. That I don’t belong to him.”
Kibum was about to say something when Kyuhyun continued.
“He said that I belong to my twelve angels who are with me.”
Kyuhyun turned to the window.
The car was silent, except for the sound of water beating down on the car.
It was raining.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.