Slowly, the group untangled themselves from the impromptu group hug when Hankyung noticed that Kyuhyun was nodding off. Heechul and Kangin looked embarrassed that they allowed themselves to do something so unlike themselves and left the room, one claiming to go tidy up his gorgeous self, the other claiming to go get some food for the rest. Eunhyuk, Shindong and Ryeowook went with Kangin to get food for the rest since it had been a while since they had eaten. After all, one person couldn’t possibly carry food for twelve hungry people even if it was Kangin.
Kibum, Yesung, Siwon, Donghae and Sungmin got off the bed, allowing Hankyung to help Eeteuk easing the dozing Kyuhyun onto the bed. However, that was impossible. Kyuhyun kept a tight grip on Eeteuk’s shirt despite dozing off. It was as if letting go meant that he would be left alone. Eeteuk looked at Hankyung, unsure of what he should do. Eeteuk was not about to let Kyuhyun sleep in that position for long. Kyuhyun would wake up with a stiff neck, and a stiff back.
“Kyuhyunnie.” Hankyung said softly.
Kyuhyun nodded slowly, indicating that he heard, but still refusing to relinquish his hold on Eeteuk.
“Kyu, you don’t want to fall asleep like that. You’re going to wake up al stiff later.”
Kyuhyun continued to shake his head, unwilling to let go. Hankyung sighed. Kyuhyun chose this time to be stubborn. Kibum signalled to let him try. Hankyung backed off, allowing Kibum to take his place.
“Kyuhyun ah, you really don’t want to sleep like that. How about this? You let us set you comfortably then you can continue to hold on to Eeteuk-hyung.” Kibum tried to make a compromise.
Kyuhyun seemed to consider that suggestion for a while. Kibum held his breath, waiting.
Kyuhyun shook his head, and snuggled more into Eeteuk’s chest.
“Kyuhyunnie. How about this? You let Kibum hold you for a while, while I climb onto the bed, then you can lie on my lap. It would be better than sleeping like that right?” Eeteuk spoke up.
This time there was a longer pause as Kyuhyun seriously thought about the suggestion.
Finally, Kyuhyun nodded, seemingly satisfied with the suggestion. He released his grip on Eeteuk’s shirt. Kibum reached over to take Kyuhyun into his arms, as Eeteuk climbed onto the bed. Kyuhyun immediately transferred his grip from Eeteuk to Kibum. He snuggled in, savouring the warmth. Kibum could only smile at that action. He never associated Kyuhyun’s behaviour to a cat. But right now, it seemed like Kyuhyun was a little kitten.
Once Eeteuk was settled on the bed, with his legs spread out in front and his back leaning against the wall, Kibum proceeded to place Kyuhyun’s head on Eeteuk’s lap with help from Donghae on the other side. Eeteuk smiled at the concern everyone was showing for Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun instantly curled up against Eeteuk’s lap, with one hand holding Eeteuk’s hand. Donghae placed the stuffed elephant on Kyuhyun’s free hand, which grabbed it and pulled it to his chest. The members smiled at the adorable actions. Sungmin pulled the blue blanket over Kyuhyun, stopping at his waist. Eeteuk stroked Kyuhyun’s hair tenderly. Kyuhyun quickly drifted off to sleep with a contented look on his face.
Kibum had sat down on the other side of the bed, with the rest scattered around the edge of the bed. They lapsed into silence, each pondering about Kyuhyun’s reaction just now. They were all shocked by the fact that Kyuhyun could walk by himself. And yes, they were certainly ecstatic about it. But none expected the reaction from Kyuhyun.
“He doesn’t look as if he has been sleeping well, does he?” Sungmin asked, staring at the slight darkness beneath Kyuhyun’s eyes.
“The doctor said that he has had a couple of nightmares the past few days, although Kyuhyun refused to tell them what they were about.” Hankyung said, sad that he was not able to help Kyuhyun when needed.
“Nightmares? Was it like the one we saw that day?” Donghae asked, shuddering as he thought back.
Sungmin and Siwon looked at each other from across the bed. What nightmare?
Hankyung shook his head. “Nothing like that happened again.”
Donghae sighed, relieved that Kyuhyun didn’t have a nightmare like that again. But he was still concerned about the many other nightmares that Kyuhyun had. He knew that everyone had their nightmares, but in the dorm, it could not escape everyone’s attention. At least one person would realise that another had a nightmare. It meant that none had to face their nightmares alone. But here in the hospital, no one was there to comfort Kyuhyun after each nightmare. Donghae wouldn’t have been able to deal with it, after getting used to having people around him after a nightmare. Even Kyuhyun had been there when he woke up from dreams regarding his father. Donghae would have been lost in his memories if not for the next question.
“Hyung, what nightmare are you all talking about?” Siwon voiced out the question in both his and Sungmin’s mind. The others froze and turned towards the two at the edge of the bed. They had forgotten that not everyone knew about Kyuhyun’s episode. Kibum, Yesung and Donghae looked at the eldest two, giving the decision to tell or not to Eeteuk and Hankyung. Eeteuk and Hankyung glanced at each other, seemingly holding a conversation through their eyes. Finally Eeteuk nodded, his hand never stopping in stroking Kyuhyun’s hair. Hankyung took a deep breath before explaining about what the five of them witness the other day.
Yesung was still shocked by the nightmare, despite the fact that it was his second time hearing it. It was just so horrifying to know. Yesung still could not wrap his mind around how Kyuhyun’s parents could be like that. He wondered how much Kyuhyun had suppressed in him to have such a reaction to the nightmare.
Kibum remembered the scene distinctly in his head. It was as if it had just occurred. Kibum really wished he could do something for Kyuhyun. Kibum was still shock over what he heard today. He didn’t expect Kyuhyun to feel that way. They had been so engrossed in their busy work schedule that none stopped to consider about Kyuhyun. No one knew that Kyuhyun was so insecure about his return to Super Junior. We have let him down.
Eeteuk distracted himself with Kyuhyun. He never wanted to witness that again. Eeteuk could still distinctly hear Kyuhyun’s scream in his head.
It was the first time Kyuhyun had called him, or anyone, by their real name. Eeteuk had never paid attention to it before, but he started to notice that Kyuhyun called all of them hyung and none by their real names. Eeteuk thought that it was weird, as if calling them by real names meant a closer association to them. Eeteuk was thoroughly puzzled by that. He couldn’t figure out the reason, but he knew that it stemmed from Kyuhyun’s childhood. I really wondered what happened.
Hankyung didn’t want to remember the episode, but it remained etched in his mind: Kyuhyun’s scream, Kyuhyun’s crying and Kyuhyun’s hanging onto Eeteuk as if Eeteuk would disappear just like just now. Hankyung regretted not pursuing the event when Kyuhyun told him about his friend. At that time, Hankyung was only glad that Kyuhyun felt comfortable in confiding in him. Now, Hankyung realised that that was only the surface, Kyuhyun had so much more buried in him, which Hankyung suspected would take a very long time to unravel.
Sungmin was shaken by what Hankyung told him. Although he did not witness it, he was still traumatised. Like the rest, Sungmin wondered exactly what Kyuhyun dreamt about to make him so scared, so unlike his usual self. Or it had always been a mask? Sungmin knew that most of them wore a mask at some point, but they shed it for a while when they were in the dorms. But Kyuhyun was always the same: aloof and independent. However he still possesses a tinge of shyness that makes him adorable.
Siwon grasped the bed sheet tightly when he heard Hankyung’s words. He didn’t expect to hear that. He looked over at Kyuhyun, who was sleeping soundly. He looked as if he had been hurt badly in the past. Siwon was shocked by that thought. This was the first time he had noticed that about Kyuhyun. Perhaps it was because Kyuhyun had never looked as if he was in need of comfort from Siwon. It is time I paid more attention to others.
“Did he tell you what the dream was about?” Siwon asked, after regaining his senses.
Kibum shook his head. “He avoided the topic. We weren’t able to get him to talk about it.” Or about his mother. Kibum’s eyes flashed at that thought.
Sungmin nodded, focusing his eyes on Kyuhyun.
“I just realised that he keeps a lot to himself.” The rest nodded their consent. It was something that they had all recently realised in light of the accident. It was saddening to know that it took such a terrifying incident to realise that.
“Hyung, we won’t let him keep everything in himself anymore right?”
Eeteuk looked up at Sungmin and nodded.
“Because that’s what families do right? Be there for everyone at anytime?” Sungmin asked rhetorically.
Eeteuk answered Sungmin.
“Yes. That’s what we’ll do. Because we are family.”
The same thought echoed in everyone’s mind.
Yes. We are family.
Shindong, Ryeowook, Eunhyuk and Kangin walked silently out of the hospital to get food. None of them spoke for a long time, each absorbed in their own thoughts.
Shindong felt like he saw a different part of Kyuhyun today, a vulnerable part of Kyuhyun. Shindong had always admired Kyuhyun for his strength. It was not the same strength that Kangin possessed, but a subtle strength that allowed Kyuhyun to get through almost anything. Shindong had never seen Kyuhyun cry or break down from the stress of their work – which Shindong had several times – or get frustrated at anything. Shindong had wondered how Kyuhyun coped with all the anti-fans when he joined Super Junior as the thirteenth member and also with settling in with twelve other members who had trained and been together for a year, with several knowing each other for more. Shindong knew he would have given up early. When he witnessed Kyuhyun cry just now, Shindong finally saw Kyuhyun as the boy his age dictated he was – a boy in need of comfort.
Eunhyuk followed quietly, his mind still replaying the scene that occurred a few moments ago. He was very happy that Kyuhyun walked but at the same time he was troubled by what Kyuhyun felt. Eunhyuk believed that he would never understand how Kyuhyun coped. It took so long for him to be accepted as part of Super Junior, and now this happens. I’m surprised he didn’t break down earlier. Eunhyuk promised himself that it didn’t matter if he understood how Kyuhyun felt. He would always be there for Kyuhyun.
Kangin attempted to focus his attention on getting to the shop, but his mind kept drifting back to Kyuhyun. Kangin realised that he really didn’t know Kyuhyun well. He could not understand why he felt so protective of Kyuhyun when Kyuhyun was so independent, even more than Kibum. Ryeowook seemed more like the one needing protection. Seeing Kyuhyun so vulnerable made Kangin understand slightly better why he felt that way. It’s probably ‘cos he hides a lot behind his independence.
Ryeowook was just following blindly, with Shindong directing him whenever he was about to bang into any obstacles. Having been roommates with Kyuhyun for a while, Ryeowook knew that Kyuhyun sometimes felt insecure about his place in Super Junior. Ryeowook had caught the sadness in Kyuhyun’s eyes when Kyuhyun read mail from anti-fans. Kyuhyun always hid his reactions, unless he thought Ryeowook was asleep. Kyuhyun never voiced out his insecurities, and Ryeowook never found the chance to confront Kyuhyun about it. I should have confronted him.
“Hyung, will Kyuhyun be alright?” Ryeowook asked. Eunhyuk and Shindong also turned to Kangin for reassurance.
“He will be. Because we will be there with him for every step because we are a family.” Kangin said, promising that he would do his best to fulfil his words.
Yes. We are family.
Heechul stared at the mirror. How could I have missed it? He wondered to himself. The tap was turned on. Heechul splashed his face and slammed his hands on the washbasin. He stared at his reflection, with water dripping from his face.
Heechul kept replaying Kyuhyun’s words in his mind. How could I have forgotten about it? Heechul was angry with himself. Heechul knew distinctly how Kyuhyun felt about being left behind. He too had the same feelings when he was trapped in the hospital after his accident. But Heechul knew it was worse for Kyuhyun because of his family. From what he could discern, Kyuhyun had always been insecure about himself. Who wouldn’t be with such parents?
Heechul could not even begin to fathom how Kyuhyun made it through the days alone. Heechul at least have his parents and siblings to talk to on the phone. Heechul doubted Kyuhyun had that. Seeing Kyuhyun cry out just now brought back all the insecurities that Heechul had felt. Heechul was very angry. He knew that in order for Kyuhyun to walk by himself Kyuhyun must have accomplished a lot in such a short time. Heechul had announced to the world when he was able to stand on his own after the accident. But none of them had any inkling that Kyuhyun had progressed that far in such a short time. He had totally forgotten his promise to be there for Kyuhyun, whether it was happiness or sadness. He had forgotten that Kyuhyun had been there for him during his recovery, helping him in his physiotherapy. Kyuhyun had noticed that Heechul wanted someone to be with him even if Heechul didn’t acknowledge it. However, no one – none of them – had noticed Kyuhyun’s needs, despite learning about Kyuhyun’s past.
No. That will not happen again. I will not allow myself, or the rest, be so absorbed that we forget one of our family member.
Heechul stared straight into his own eyes reflected in the mirror.
“Because we are family.”
The same thought echoed in all twelve members despite being in different places.
We are family.
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.