“Free. It feels free, like there’s nothing that can stop me, nothing can hold me down.
It feels as if I can do anything because of love and I’m free of the fear of failure because,
even if I can’t do everything, at least at the end of the day,
there’s still me and him. When all else fails, love won’t.”
Reign on Me series
Saturday, April 21, 2012
words: 13 351
(12th Cycle of the Mourning Song series.)
12th Cycle: Fragments of Glass
Your heart encased in ice
You let no one in and I
just barely slipped past
You were always alone,
I wouldn't let you stay that way.
Sunday Night; Beginning of the fourth week of November 20XX
After slamming the door, he had barely walked five steps before a very small woman flew towards him. Instinctively, he caught her against his body, an arm wrapped beneath her bottom to hold her up as she wrapped her arm around his shoulder to prop herself up as her hand came up and slapped over his mouth. He found himself staring up at his fiancee and, for a moment, forgot why he had rushed home in the middle of the night. She was staring down at him, her hair carelessly and loosely pulled back from her face, wisps of hair falling and framing her face, and her dark eyes intense in the dim light of the apartment.
"If I remove my hand, will you stop yelling?" She hissed and he realized her eyes were narrowed at him.
He was silent a moment before nodding his head.
Taeyeon hesitated a moment before she slowly removed her hand from his lips; "Why are you here so late at night, Sungmin?"
He slowly raised a brow at her, "I live here. What? You're hiding another guy here?"
Taeyeon pursed her lips, eyes still narrowed, "Well, he's definitely younger than you."
Sungmin tightened the arm that held her up, his fox-like eyes narrowing, "Taeyeon, there are some things you cannot joke about with me," he said quietly, darkly,
Taeyeon sighed heavily as she wrapped both arms around his shoulders, closed her eyes and touched her forehead to his, "I'm talking about my nephew, Min."
Sungmin inhaled slowly, deeply, "I'm sorry, sweetheart, I just..." He sighed as he turned his head and laid his cheek just above her chest, "God, I've missed you."
"Yes, well, that doesn't change the fact that you just joked about me cheating on you," Taeyeon muttered, "You know what I meant when I asked you why you were here. I knew you were busy with preparing for finals, so I wasn't visiting this weekend."
"Heechul suggested I go home to you," Sungmin explained as he raised his head to look at her,
"Is that all he told you?" Taeyeon asked, her voice suddenly very quiet,
Sungmin shook his head, "No, he told me pretty much everything that's happened; Zhou Mi called him early this morning... Heechul also told me of the new plan."
She blinked at him, "New plan? There's a new plan?"
Sungmin swallowed hard before stating quietly, "To tell Kyuhyun the truth... about everything."
"Excuse me?" Taeyeon blinked again.
"The new plan is to tell Kyuhyun everything... in one go... and weather the storm," Sungmin explained slowly, hesitantly,
"Put me down," Taeyeon said,
"What?" Sungmin eyed her before narrowing his eyes, "No."
"Put me down," Taeyeon swatted his shoulders,
Sungmin's gaze was hard and unwavering as he slowly lowered her until her feet were on the ground. His arm slipped away as he straightened, "Taeyeon..."
"The reason we didn't just throw the truth at him for the past three years was because we weren't sure how he'd react," Taeyeon stated, "And, now, we're suddenly just going to do exactly what we've been avoiding all this time?"
"It's the only option they have right now to save Kibum's and Kyuri's baby," Sungmin said as he watched her pace away towards the couches of their living room, "A blood transfusion will help Kyuri heal faster and the blood could save the baby's life. But because Kyuhyun thinks he's terminally ill, he would never give his blood to his sister let alone a premature baby. Tell him the truth is the only way to get a blood transfusion."
"I went along with the first plan because I truly believed it would overwhelm Kyuhyun or, worse, drive him away," Taeyeon said as she wrapped her arms about her torso, "Suddenly doing it now isn't any better and I know the plan will happen soon because of the baby."
"I know it seems like we're pitting the baby against Kyuhyun, but if it'll save the baby..." Sungmin shrugged even though Taeyeon wasn't looking at him,
"I... I'm not being selfish," Taeyeon stated as she paced between the longer couch and the coffee table, "And I'm not being biased... it's just... it's just... it's just a bad deal."
"Taeyeon... you need to stop... you just need to stop," Sungmin said quietly as he walked over and stood behind the smaller couch, pulling off his jacket and throwing it across the back of the loveseat;
Taeyeon paused, turning to look at him, "Stop what?"
Sungmin stared at her in the dim light before shaking his head, "Nothing... nothing... I'm just tired."
"No... Sungmin, what were you talking about?" Taeyeon questioned,
Sungmin said nothing for a pregnant pause, his gaze avoiding hers as he sorted his thoughts and decided upon what to say. His hands gripping the back of the couch, "You need to stop protecting Kyuhyun."
"I'm not saying you're the only one, because we all have and I'm not saying it's a bad thing... of course it's not," Sungmin glanced at her, saw her narrowed gaze then turned his back to her, leaning his hips against the back of the couch and crossing his arms over his chest; "But, when it comes to Kyuhyun, you take it to the next level than anyone else... you always do."
Taeyeon's eyes ran along the lines of Sungmin's shoulders and back, the way they tensed and the way she could feel his emotions just pouring off him in waves. It had been so long since she felt such emotions from him; over three years, actually. She had thought they had moved past such things, but perhaps it had only seemed that way because Kyuhyun hadn't been part of their lives. Now that he was, or soon would be, they had to deal with their problems.
"I know I do," Taeyeon admitted, "I've always known how much stronger my reactions have been when concerning my cousin. Even if all of our efforts are the same, I know my emotions are more volatile." She paused and, when Sungmin's body remained tense, she added softly, "But that doesn't mean I feel any less for you."
"It certainly feels like there's less room for me," Sungmin said quietly, "Again."
Taeyeon walked over to the loveseat, knelt on it and slipped her arms around him from behind, hugging him; "Sungmin, I know how I appear to be... I know how I act... but you are not second to Kyuhyun."
Sungmin's hands covered her hands and, when he began prying her hands off, she only held tighter. She didn't relax until he raised her hands and pressed kisses to her palms. "Taeyeon..." he sighed as he held bother of her hands against his heart. Abruptly, he released her hands and stepped out of her embrace, "I need to go change."
Taeyeon tried to grab his shirt, but he walked away too fast. She scrambled around the couch after him and finally got close to him in front of the spare room where the twins were fast asleep. She jumped his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and holding on tightly.
He sighed as he hooked her knees over his forearms, keeping her steady; "You'd never make a good ninja. You run too loud."
"Well, you walk too fast," Taeyeon huffed. She hefted herself higher so she could rest her forearms on his shoulders. She pressed a kiss to the top of his head, "Sungmin, I love you with all of my heart."
"I know -"
"No, just listen," she interruped. She leaned down so her lips were by his ear and she wrapped her arms loosely around his neck. "It's true that for so long Kyuhyun was my entire world, that everything I did revolved around him. Kyuhyun was not only my cousin, my first friend, but also my best friend." She held on tighter, afraid he would let her go and walk away again; "But that was before you came into my life, Min -"
"I was in your life from the moment you met Kyuhyun," he argued,
"No you weren't!" She countered, "Not like how you are now... you weren't in my life until almost four years ago when you became a teacher at SJU." She grew quiet as she closed her eyes, burying her face against her bicep as she held him securely; "Things have changed, Min... we have changed. You are first in my heart. You are where my priorities lie first."
"It shouldn't be like that... there shouldn't be first or second places," Sungmin sighed, "I'm just being jealous... I'm sorry."
"No, Min..."Taeyeon replied, "I'm sorry. You will be my husband. Do you know what that means, Min? That means it's you and me - nothing breaks us apart, nothing comes between us. It's you and me together and, then, there's everyone else. You and me, Sungmin, and I don't want it any other way."
"We have to tell Kyuhyun the truth, sweetheart," Sungmin said quietly, "We need to do everything we can to help Kyuri and save her baby."
"I know," she replied quietly,
Sungmin said nothing as he continued walking down the hall, to the door at the end which led to their bedroom. Softly kicking the door close, he walked over to their bed, turned his back to it and dropped Taeyeon on the bed. he moved to the side and sitting on the bed beside her. Sighing, he dropped back onto the mattress. He reached toward her hand, his fingers tangling with hers.
"I'll be the one to tell him," he admitted,
Taeyeon turned to look down on him, "Why you?" She questioned, her eyes narrowed and shining with fresh tears,
He smiled sadly up at her, "You'd prefer to be the one?"
"No, damn it, that's not why I'm crying," she hissed, swiping at her tears angrily, "It's because you have to be the one to tell him. Because you will experience what it's like to recall memories and it isn't reciprocated. It'll be like the memories never happened, like they were all fake. You'll be drowning in an ocean of emotions and the other person will feel... nothing."
She wiped at the tears but they wouldn't stop, "I barely scratched the surface when I told Kyuhyun a bit of the past, but you'll be telling him everything and... I don't want you to have to suffer as I had during that moment, Min."
"Someone has to, sweetheart," Sungmin said sadly as he tugged on her hand until she lay down beside him. He released her hand to stretch out his arm and pull her into his side, her head pillowed on her shoulder. "Zhou Mi certainly can't and the only other people who could tell him everything, knew him well enough are you and me. And, since you just put a good argument on why this will be a difficult task, it falls to me to do it."
"Remember when Zhou Mi told us about Kyuhyun's assistant?" Taeyeon reminded quietly, "Well... he was with Kyuhyun at the hospital tonight."
"And?" Sungmin prompted,
"I don't like this assistant," Taeyeon said quietly, "I don't..." She briefly closed her eyes, remembering the moment she had seen the assistant for the first time. Almost immediately, she was filled with cold, suspicious dread. She shook her head, "We can talk about it later."
"Unfortunately, you're right," Sungmin sighed, "I really did come in here to change. I should be leaving."
Taeyeon sat up and stared down at him, "Why? Where are you going?"
"Time isn't on our side... I need to talk to Kyuhyun," Sungmin explained as he slowly sat up, "If he's still at the hospital, then it's my chance to talk to him. The faster the blood transfusion can take place, the better chances are for saving the baby."
“If this was what it would come down to, we should’ve just told him the truth three years ago,” Taeyeon sighed as she pulled up her feet to the mattress, curling her knees to her chest as she leaned her chin on them; “We shouldn’t have let him go back with my Aunt and just… just told him everything.”
“Well, we certainly can’t just sit around regretting the past – it won’t change it,” Sungmin reminded lightly as he disappeared into their closet.
“I know, I’m just saying we could’ve saved all these years,” Taeyeon replied, “And we’d definitely be married by now.”
“If it makes you feel any better, we can get married the moment I’m done telling Kyuhyun the truth,” Sungmin joked as he changed within the depths of the walk-in closet.
“Ha, ha, very funny,” Taeyeon rolled her eyes even though he couldn’t see; “Really, Sungmin, I know how hard this must’ve been for you,” she slipped from the bed and softly padded to the closet door just in time to see Sungmin tug his shirt over his exposed abdomen.
“You don’t make things easy, either, sweetheart,” Sungmin stated bluntly, “And all those times at SJA when you were in my bed after I had a shower. Really, you could’ve played hard-to-get at least a little, I would’ve understood.”
“I played hard-to-get for years before you came to work at SJA,” Taeyeon replied as she stepped aside to allow him space to leave the closet. The moment he was abreast with her, she caught his hand, tangled her fingers with his and kept him in his place. Her gaze locked with his, “Seriously, Min, few guys would agree to years of celibacy.”
He took her chin between the thumb and forefinger of his free hand and leaned in close until their joined hands were sandwiched between their bodies. He leaned his head down until their lips grazed, until every time he breathed, it was all Taeyeon.
“Few guys appreciate what they have in their lives,” Sungmin murmured. He pressed his lips lightly on hers and then another time on her forehead before pulling away, “But you can’t call me a saint, sweetheart. You are pregnant, after all.”
“One night of weakness after a few years isn’t such a big blunder,” Taeyeon said as she walked after him into the hallway, “You tried very hard to keep your hands off me.”
“Me?” Sungmin stopped abruptly to stare at her, “I believe you’ve forgotten many important facts about that night this past summer, sweetheart.”
“I never forgot a single second of it,” Taeyeon replied as she stepped closer,
“Hmm,” He regarded her thoughtfully before grinning, “Then you’ll remember how it was you who jumped me.”
“I did not!” She exclaimed,
“Shh!” He hushed her as he opened a door and peered into the guest room.
In the twin-sized bed were two little plumps of children beneath the thick blanket, stars and moons cast onto the wall from the soft night-light. Kyuki and Kyumi were turned inward so that they faced one another in their sleep. At some point, they had moved or rolled, because a pillow was on the ground and they now shared the last pillow.
Sungmin quietly shut the door, leaving just an inch of space before retreating towards the living room and entrance way. He grabbed his sneakers from the front closet and pulled them on, sitting on the ground to tighten the laces properly. As he began to reach for the laces of the last shoe, Taeyeon plopped on the carpeted ground beside him, pulling his shoe into her lap and working the laces herself.
“Seriously, Sungmin, if you have need of me, just tell me,” Taeyeon said softly,
Sungmin nearly choked on his breath, “What?”
Taeyeon shot him a glare, “Not like that. I mean tonight when you’re telling Kyuhyun the truth. Is this tight enough?”
“Mhmm,” he murmured,
“I just mean if it gets too tough, just call me and I’ll come or I’ll stay on the phone with you… something,” she said as she tied the laces together. Once tied, she looked up and caught his gaze.
“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Sungmin asked as he came up on his knees, bringing their bodies closer, his towering over hers as he tilted her face up to his,
“Not this evening, no,” she answered quietly,
“Well, I do,” Sungmin grinned as he stood up and pulled her up to her feet, “Who knows how long I’ll be, so don’t wait up.”
“But what if you call and I’m asleep?” She asked as she walked the short distance to the loveseat to grab his jacket where he had left it.
“I won’t call,” Sungmin assured as he took his jacket from her, “I’ll be fine.”
Taeyeon gazed at him for a silent moment before nodding as if confirming with herself that he would be fine. “Then I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”
“Go to sleep,” Sungmin said as he pulled on his jacket, “It’s already late enough as it is.”
Taeyeon shook her head, “I won’t be able to sleep until I know you’re okay.”
Sungmin took her hand and brushed a kiss against her fingers, “I’ll be okay. Go to sleep, sweetheart.”
Taeyeon watched as Sungmin slipped out the door.
I told you about sunshine,
about brighter days.
I told you I'd never
leave you behind.
And you gave me your heart,
gave me your trust,
you took my hand
helped me understand
why you were so cold.
You were made of crystal glass.
The constant sound of soft beeps started out soothing, letting him know that his sister was still alive, that her heart still beat. As the hours stretched on, the sound tugged at him, stretching him taught until he was on the edge, scared that there would come a time when the sound would be replaced with silence and then a beep that didn’t end; a flat line on the monitor.
In a few hours it would be almost twenty-four hours since he had first gotten the call about his sister. He hadn't left the room at all and the nurses generously gave him a food tray during meals. At one point he wondered why his mysterious brother-in-law hadn't appeared. However, after a few quick texts to Taeyeon, he was reassured that Kyuri's husband could only stay away because Kyuhyun was there. He was worried about the baby. If his brother-in-law didn't even dare leave the baby's side, it attested to how critical the situation had gotten.
The chair at her bedside was hardly comfortable and the cot one of the nurses had laid out for him wasn’t any better. He spent most of his time in the dark, quiet room pacing. He would sit in the chair, stare at his sister, will her to open her eyes and nothing would happen. He would get up, run his hands through his hair and pace to the cot. He would sit down, lay stretched out and stare up at the dark ceiling. He would imagine that the monitor had stopped beeping and would sit up straight, his eyes frantically searching for the soft red glow of the monitor. His heart would slow down from its marathon when he saw the little green line continue to zig and zag. Then, he would stand up and pace and the cycle would begin again.
In all his years – or what he could remember of them – he never once thought he would have a sister. He never once thought he would find this connection with another human being, even his parents. It was an odd bond and he wasn’t even sure how it had been forged after such a short time and after only meeting her briefly twice. It was different from the attachment he had with his assistant, Mijoon. It was different from the love he had for his parents. As fantastical as it sounded even to himself, it felt as if half of his soul lay in the hospital bed.
“I never thought I’d see Kyuri like this,”
Startled, Kyuhyun whirled around towards the voice where he saw the sad stranger from the park standing in the doorway. What was his name again?
“What are you doing here?” Kyuhyun questioned, eyes narrowing as he stepped closer to the bed, breaking the stranger’s direct line of vision from his sister.
“I came to talk to you Kyuhyun,” Sungmin said tentatively, stepping into the dark room and closing the door firmly behind him,
“I never gave you leave to call me by just my first name,” Kyuhyun said quietly, unaware that his words slashed at the sad stranger’s heart.
Sungmin clutched the door tightly, whether to stop himself from running to Kyuhyun and hugging him or from running away, he wasn’t sure. The words were like cruel knives twisting into his heart and, now, he wanted nothing more than to have Taeyeon with him, to have her support and love enveloping him like a protective blanket. He silently prayed he hadn’t lied and that he would be fine during and after his conversation with Kyuhyun.
“You did, before,” Sungmin insisted as he crossed the room to a large window, leaning back against the sill so his face was half in moonlight, half in shadow;
“You didn’t, I would’ve remembered,” Kyuhyun said, stepping around the end of the bed to continue to be a buffer between his sister and the stranger,
“No, you wouldn’t, not after what happened to you,” Sungmin said quietly,
“What are you talking about? What happened to me?” Kyuhyun demanded.
The way the stranger talked, it seemed as if he knew about Kyuhyun’s past and he hated how much it seemed everyone knew more about him than he did. What did the stranger know? What was he talking about? Again and again he seemed to be coming across people who knew him before his amnesia had set in. Why now? Why after all these years? More importantly, could he trust them?
He eyed the stranger warily, his hands fisted at his sides and silently wishing he had learned how to fight.
“I’m going to give you a choice, Kyuhyun,” Sungmin said, deliberately using just his given name again; “The others wouldn’t want me to give you a choice because this is a desperate time… but I’m going to give you a choice because for the past four years people have been taking away your choices.”
Kyuhyun said nothing; he couldn’t remember four years ago. His amnesia had settled in three years prior.
“Do you want the honest to God truth? I want you to think on it. If I tell you the truth, I’m telling you everything and that means your entire life, from that moment on, will change. You will not be able to return to being just Jo Kyuhyun, heir to the Jo Shipping Company,” Sungmin warned, “Or…” He swallowed hard, he crossed his arms over his chest as a means to stop his entire body from shaking; “I can leave right now and you can continue on as you have been these past three years.”
Kyuhyun stared at the stranger. He knew about the amnesia. He knew that for the past three years, he hadn’t been able to remember anything prior to when he was nineteen. However, the stranger had mentioned four years of his choices being taken away. What had happened during the one year interval of when he was eighteen?
Tentatively, he quickly glanced over his shoulder at his sleeping sister, his eyes snapping back towards the stranger. He had already stepped towards learning the truth, hadn’t he? He had met and confronted his sister. He had even met Taeyeon and she had alluded to their past as well. His foot was already wedged into the door of his past and he found he couldn’t step away now and pretend it had never been opened for him.
He swallowed hard, tightening his fists as he felt his hands begin to subtly shake; “The truth, then.”
“I suggest you sit down,” Sungmin said quietly,
“I’m fine standing,” he said stubbornly, not caring how much he sounded like a petulant child.
Sungmin shrugged his shoulder as he turned his face towards the window, his gaze to the sky as the moon and stars were covered by a thick blanket of clouds. “I honestly wondered how this would go. Hundreds – no, thousands of times I imagined how this conversation would play out and, honestly, now that we’re actually having it, I find my words have escaped me.”
“Start… start at the beginning,” Kyuhyun suggested,
Sungmin shook his head, “No, that would take too long… I guess I should start where the problems first began… when your supposed illness first began.”
“I was born…” Kyuhyun paused and then corrected himself, “I wasn’t born sick… was I?”
Sungmin laughed softly, “If you list an aversion for wearing suits as being sick, then perhaps. No, no… what you consider an illness began over four years ago.”
Kyuhyun held his breath. Not only did the stranger – what was his name again? – know about his dislike for wearing suits, but he knew that what would be said next would truly change his world. It would take everything he knew and shatter it. So, he held his breath and waited.
“You were in your final year at Shim Jang Academy and you lived on campus during the school year, even on weekends. For reasons of your own, you were running away from the school. You had made it outside of the campus into the surrounding forests when you were… attacked,” Sungmin recalled, his voice dropping several decibels.
The heavens opened up, not with snow as expected of a winter evening, but with rain, the temperature having risen slightly. The rain pattered against the windowpane as if emphasizing Sungmin’s words.
“Attacked? By who?” Kyuhyun questioned, tensing at the sign of rain,
Sungmin hesitated, “By what is more accurate.”
“I don’t –”
“A vampire,” Sungmin interrupted just as thunder cracked through the silent night.
Kyuhyun was silent, not sure if he had heard correctly. He couldn’t, could he? Vampires weren’t real; they were the things of myths and stories. They were make-believe, not reality and, yet, he had clearly heard the stranger say ‘vampire’. He was half tempted to tell the stranger to leave, accusing him of not telling the truth as he had promised. Something deep within Kyuhyun, something he didn’t recognize, couldn’t name, made him hesitate. It made him silent, made him listen to the stranger’s farfetched words.
“A pureblood, to be correct. Before he could drink you dry, another vampire came by – a turned one. A turned vampire is one who was once human and then was turned vampire by a pureblood,” Sungmin explained, “He fought off the pureblood and, essentially saved you from being killed. However, that meant you would turn into a vampire yourself. Your cousin found you and got you back to SJA to be treated by the school nurse. You hated what you had become and struggled with living as a vampire. You missed the remainder of your senior year because of this.
“The next year, after you had turned eighteen, you returned to SJA to repeat your final year. By then, I had become a teacher at the academy,” Sungmin recalled, his tone taking on a wistful note; “It was a constant struggle for you to continue on as a normal teenager with the curses of a vampire. However it happened, you managed to get through the school year… almost. You were forced to leave SJA a month prior to graduation.”
Slowly, Kyuhyun sank to the edge of the bed, his gaze still glued to the sad stranger, his last words similar to that of Taeyeon’s.
“The week before the winter break, a pureblood came to SJA and, not just any pureblood vampire, but the same one that had turned you,” Sungmin said, “A battled ensued between the vampire and Hunters. Hunters are like the police for a secret government sector that deals with vampires. At the end of the battle before the vampire was killed, he had erased your memory. However, over the past three years, we’ve believed that they were just concealed, not completely removed, but that’s a story for another time.”
“So, you expect me to believe you? To believe that I’m a vampire?” Kyuhyun questioned incredulously, hands fisted atop of the mattress,
Sungmin sighed heavily as he slowly turned to look at him, “I’m not expecting anything of you, Kyuhyun. After three years, I’ve learned not to expect anything. Instead, all I’ve been left with is hope. I hope you’ll believe me, but I know there’s not a very big chance of that happening.”
“Why?” Kyuhyun asked quietly, “Why are you telling me this and after all these years?”
“We didn’t know how to tell you… in truth, we were scared we’d drive you away by telling you the truth right from the beginning,” Sungmin admitted,
Kyuhyun didn’t argue. He probably would’ve run for the hills had someone told him that when the amnesia was still fresh. Indeed, he was still contemplating how fast he could run away from the room and the stranger. However, he realized it was not the first time he had said ‘we’. The stranger had come on behalf of more than just himself; who were the other people and what did they mean to his life before the amnesia?
“But now…” Sungmin’s gaze wandered to Kyuri’s sleeping face, “Your sister is in critical condition and her baby is in an even worse state. At this point, the doctors and nurses are trying to figure out a plan of care, but none of them will work fast enough to save your sister’s new baby.”
“What does this have to do with my past?” Kyuhyun asked, suddenly very afraid of what the stranger would say next,
“They need a blood transfusion from you,” Sungmin said, and, as if the weather was perfectly timed, another crash of thunder echoed in the room;
“A blood … no… no – absolutely no!” Kyuhyun exclaimed, jumping to his feet, needing to move, suddenly feeling restless; “If I do a blood transfusion, then whatever is killing me will kill them both, too!”
“It won’t,” Sungmin calmly insisted, “Nothing is killing you. Your vampirism is not killing you. If you do a blood transfusion, your vampirism will not transfer to the others.”
“Even… Even if I were to believe you’re not crazy and that I’m… that I’m…” Kyuhyun swallowed hard, unable to get the words off his tongue, “Why don’t they give them a blood transfusion from the blood bank?”
“As a vampire, you have healing agents in your blood,” Sungmin explained, “Kyuri’s probably gotten a blood transfusion the moment she got to the hospital, but if one was done with your blood, it would heal her faster than anything else. And, if the baby received a transfusion of your blood, well… there’s a hope that the healing agents in your blood will help the baby live… will give the baby a chance to live.”
Sungmin waited with bated breath. He was scared to say more, scared to speak, as if another word might push Kyuhyun away completely or push him over some edge, shattering what was left of the younger man’s life. He knew from the moment he stepped into the hospital room that he was playing with dangerous fire. He held Kyuhyun’s future in his hands with the words he was saying.
Kyuhyun could have continued in ignorant bliss, but ignorant nonetheless, believing that he could die any day. Kyuhyun could leave the hospital room shattered, his belief in everything he knew completely destroyed and refusing to believe the truth of his past. He knew that the result of their conversation could either make or break Kyuhyun and the longer the younger man remained silent, Sungmin was growing more afraid that he had broken the man who had once been his best friend, his brother.
He silently urged Kyuhyun to believe him. Had it been three years prior, he knew without a doubt that Kyuhyun would have believed him. Kyuhyun would have accepted whatever wild story he told him. Kyuhyun would have greeted him with a smile, would have called him ‘Sungmin’, ‘Min’ or even, ‘hyung’. Kyuhyun would have run up to him instead of insisting upon distance. Kyuhyun would have joked, made a snarky remark. Sungmin felt the wounds in his heart as if they were fresh and raw, much like how it had felt to be in the park with Kyuhyun that night so many weeks before.
“Crazy…” Kyuhyun murmured finally, “Anyone hearing what you’ve just said would call you crazy.”
‘Not if you had been the old you…’ Sungmin thought, deciding it best to keep his words to himself,
“I don’t… I can’t… how do I know you’re not making this all up? I need… something,” Kyuhyun shook his head as he slowly stood up, “I’m not saying I believe you but… but in a weird and twisted way, your story fits with what’s been going on with me but it’s… it’s not enough.”
‘There was a time when it would’ve been more than enough between us…’ Sungmin thought,
“What do you need?” Sungmin asked,
“I… I don’t know… something to prove you really know me… something to prove that you’re not just a crazy stalker of a million-dollar company’s heir,” Kyuhyun challenged,
Sungmin stared at him silently for a moment. The air in the room seemed to grow thick with tension, the only sounds being the soft beeps of the monitor and the torrent of rain outside. Inside his head, Sungmin laughed ruefully at himself. ‘Of course.’
“You fear thunderstorms,” Sungmin stated simply,
Kyuhyun’s eyes widened fractionally, “I do not! I’m twenty-one for goodness sake!”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t fear them,” Sungmin said, “A single boom of thunder can reduce you to a child, striking fear, causing every muscle to tense up. It causes your heart to constrict, your lungs suddenly depraved of air. You want nothing more than to escape, to hide from the screams of thunder as if they could physically hurt you. Fears don’t have to make sense and they are not defined but what age we are, Kyuhyun. You fear thunderstorms and have since the age of seven.”
Kyuhyun swallowed hard. The stranger had described to a tee what he felt during a thunderstorm. From his earliest memories of leaving SJA with his mother, he remembered that a thunderclap had occurred as they drove away from the school and his body had reacted just as the stranger said. He didn’t understand the reaction just that it had happened and continued to happen every time there was a thunderstorm.
Sungmin stared at Kyuhyun, his gaze sad, “We were playing in a park or playground when you were seven and I was nine. It started to rain hard and we decided to cut through a forest to get home faster. The rain got harder and it got ridiculously dark, as if it night had fallen. We got lost in the forest and it thundered so loudly I remember I had to yell whenever I said something to you. By the time we got home, we were both soaked to the bone and the fear of thunderstorms had embedded itself deeply into you. Ever since then, you couldn’t handle being alone during a thunderstorm.”
Sungmin felt his throat closing as he remembered that day so many years ago. He didn’t remember it clearly, just flashes, but he remembered how small Kyuhyun’s hands felt in his even though he had only been nine. He remembered how he yelled until his throat hurt just to talk to Kyuhyun, just to keep him calm during the storm. He remembered the twists and turns they had taken in the forest and, now that he reflected upon it, was sure he had only been guessing at the direction of home.
Kyuhyun had clutched his hand so tightly, scared to let go, scared to be left alone. Kyuhyun had trusted him completely, unreservedly and, eventually, Sungmin had gotten them home. And, now? Where was that trust? Where was the Kyuhyun who deferred to him, who relied upon him? They were older now, supposedly smarter now, but in that moment, they weren’t in the hospital room, but in the forest once more. Kyuhyun was lost and frightened and, this time, Sungmin had no idea which way to go or how to bring Kyuhyun home.
“I…” Kyuhyun swallowed hard, trying his darnedest to ignore the thunder outside; “How… how do I know that my blood will help? Will heal?”
Sungmin took a step towards Kyuhyun, pausing when the younger man tensed despite the absence of thunder; “I’m just coming closer to show you something.” He walked slowly towards Kyuhyun, taking out his cellular phone to use as a light source in the dark room. He tilted his chin up, holding his phone close to his neck, “Your blood healed this.”
Kyuhyun focused his gaze where the glow of the cellular kissed the stranger’s neck. He could see faint ridges on the front and one side of the stranger’s neck, as if something with very sharp nails had grabbed him. He tried to picture what could have done such damage, how sharp the nails must have been and immediately looked away, squinting with the stab of pain in his head.
Sungmin pocketed his phone and took a step away from Kyuhyun, knowing the younger man preferred his distance; “After this happened, you used your blood to heal it,” Sungmin explained, “There was too much going on for a complete healing, so, my vocal chords have had a beating and I still have faint scars… but you did this… you healed me. If not for you, Kyuhyun, I would’ve have easily died because of where the wounds are on my neck.”
“I… I can’t believe you,” Kyuhyun said, his tone sad as if he regretted the words.
Every fibre of his being wanted to believe the stranger, but it was too insane, to wild of an idea. Him a vampire? It was just too crazy. How had he not encountered stories before? How had he not heard of other people being attacked by vampires? His thoughts froze in that moment, suspended as he suddenly recalled something. Slowly, he glanced at his sister.
“A monster was going to hurt Umma,”
“A monster? … Why would he think it’s a monster?”
“… I’ll explain later.”
Is that what his nephew was talking about? Had his nephew been talking about a vampire when he said monster? He pulled his gaze towards the stranger who was watching him carefully.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t believe you,” he repeated, this time, his tone even more reluctant,
“It’s not that you can’t… it’s that you don’t want to,” Sungmin replied simply, without judgement, without question, simply stating the facts as if they were talking about the weather. He turned and headed for the door,
“You… you mentioned my cousin earlier,” Kyuhyun recalled, “I have just found out I have a sister… a twin sister. Now, I have a cousin… may I know their name?”
Sungmin gripped the door handle, “Kim Taeyeon.”
Kyuhyun felt as if his heart had shrivelled up at that moment. He felt it clench painfully as he remembered talking with the singer. She had spoken of a long friendship, but she hadn’t once referred to their closer connection, to their blood relation. His sister, his cousin… he was finding relatives that his parents never saw fit to tell him about, to remind him existed. If he had a cousin, then, surely, that meant he at least had an aunt and uncle, did it not? At least, at some point he would’ve had an aunt and uncle. Who else had his parents hidden from him?
His gaze flew towards the stranger who stood frozen at the door, his back to Kyuhyun. Was this stranger, the sad stranger from the park, more to him than he first believe? If, indeed, the story of their childhood was true, then that meant they had a closer relationship, too, did it not?
Kyuhyun swallowed hard again, feeling as if his heart had lodged itself in his throat in an attempt to escape, in an attempt to suffocate him. He recalled then the photograph of himself and Taeyeon when they were small children. There had been another boy in that photograph. Had that boy been this stranger? He tried to remember and another stab of pain laced through his head, wiping away his thoughts.
“Before you leave… at least give me the courtesy of tell me your name,” Kyuhyun said quietly, hoping that the stranger’s name would arouse some kind of emotion, even though it had not when they were in the park so many weeks before.
“I told you when we met in the park that one night,” Sungmin said quietly, his hand gripping the handle so tightly he was causing his own pain, his heart thudding loudly in his chest as if trying to break through his ribs.
“I know… but I’ve forgotten it,” Kyuhyun admitted tentatively.
In that moment, Sungmin knew nothing except pain. His heart felt ice cold, as if it had broken and died on the spot leaving nothing but a dark, endless void. He felt his stomach churn as if he would be sick, throwing up his contents. It felt as if his entire life, his childhood with Kyuhyun had not existed, had never mattered. It felt as if everything that had been important to him related to Kyuhyun was inconsequential and easily turned into trash. As rapidly as the dark sadness rose up within him, Sungmin felt the cold burn of anger crash through him like a tsunami.
How dare he? How dare he forget everything? How dare he forgot something that had happened just weeks ago? How dare he reduce everything between them, everything that had been, to nothing? How dare he throw away everything as if it was not important, as if they had meant nothing to one another? He had always regarded Kyuhyun as more than just his first friend, his best friend; Kyuhyun had been – indeed, still was his brother and, yet, Kyuhyun couldn’t even remember his name.
“It’s Lee Sungmin,” He said quietly, darkly as he whipped the door open, “Be sure to remember it this time,” he practically growled as he left the room, somehow managing to close the door quietly after himself.
Sungmin made it to the empty waiting room before crumpling into a chair and pulling out his cellular. He hunched over, his forearms on his knees as he held up his phone to his ear as his other hand covered his face,
“Sungmin?” Taeyeon’s voice was both sleepy and anxious,
“I… I…” He stammered, hot tears slipping past the guard of his hand over his face,
“Min, talk to me, what is it? Do you want me to come there?” Taeyeon asked,
Sungmin clearly heard the warm love in her voice despite the anxiety of her tone; it made him hurt all the more. “No, no… it’s just…” The words formed painfully in his mind and his vocal chords struggled to produce them as if they were ripped open again, as if the wounds on his neck were still fresh and raw, the vampire clawing at him just seconds ago; “When I met him in the park I told him my name and… he didn’t remember it… I wasn’t important enough to…”
Sungmin choked on his words, horrified that a sob threatened to rise up. He clamped his jaw shut until it hurt, not allowing the cry to escape even as the tears poured from his eyes.
“Shh… it’s okay… it’s okay, I know,” she said soothingly, quietly, “Just come home to me, Min… Just come home to me.”
Sungmin somehow managed to murmur an affirmative before ending the call. Still holding the phone, he covered his face with both hands, the tears unrelenting. He couldn’t bring Kyuhyun home this time and, now, it was up to Taeyeon to guide him home, to make him whole. He stayed a bit longer in the empty waiting room, however, feeling the need to remain lost just a little bit longer. After all, Kyuhyun had been lost for three years, a few minutes more wouldn’t kill Sungmin.
You were so quiet,
You stayed far behind,
refusing to leave the shadows.
You were always cold,
I had to warm you up somehow.
I told you about sunshine,
about brighter days.
I told you I'd never
leave you behind.
Another stranger entered the room. Kyuhyun sat up straighter in his chair before jumping to his feet, a barrier between the strange man and his sister's bed. He felt mentally drained from withstanding his reaction to the thunderstorm and emotionally exhausted from the conversation he had just had with Lee Sungmin. He stood there, hardening his expression, fisting his hands even though he was weary to the bone. Despite the past and the future and even all that had just happened and what he had heard from the sad stranger of the park, he would protect his sister with everything he had. He would not do her wrong as their parents supposedly had.
“Kyuri’s probably gotten a blood transfusion the moment she got to the hospital, but if one was done with your blood, it would heal her faster than anything else. And, if the baby received a transfusion of your blood, well… there’s a hope that the healing agents in your blood will help the baby live… will give the baby a chance to live.”
"Kyuhyun..." the new stranger said, his tone monotonous even as his young face was lined and his eyes weary.
He slowly walked towards the cot which was placed on the other side of Kyuri's bed. As he walked passed Kyuhyun, he held up his hand, "Don't even think about trying to fight me, Kyuhyun. I know you don't remember me and Kyuri would probably kill me for saying this, but I don't have the energy to waste fighting with you and convincing you I'm not a threat," he said simply as he moved the cot closer to the bed, plopped down and gingerly took Kyuri's hand, careful of the probe taped onto her forefinger.
Kyuhyun quickly searched his memory, trying to remember his sister's husband's name. He recalled Taeyeon had said it. Tentatively, he said, "You're... Kibum?"
"The one and only," he said simply, pressing his lips against Kyuri's hand and closing his eyes.
"A... A Lee Sungmin was here," Kyuhyun said as he returned to the chair, hesitant to speak to his brother-in-law who was obviously just as exhausted as he, probably even more so.
"Yeah, I saw him on my way here," Kibum murmured, his lips still pressed against his wife's hand and eyes still closed,
Kyuhyun blinked through the darkness; Lee Sungmin had left at least ten minutes ago. "He talked about a blood transfusion," Kyuhyun admitted, "That it would help Kyuri and the baby."
"They already gave a blood transfusion to Kyuri and it wouldn't help the baby," Kibum replied, his voice flat, his body unmoving,
"No... a blood transfusion," Kyuhyun swallowed hard, "Involving me."
Kibum didn't move, seemed to cease breathing altogether and, yet, Kyuhyun was sure that every line of the other man's body had stiffened. Apparently Lee Sungmin was not the only one who believed the fantastical tales of his supposed healing, vampiric blood. He wondered why he had even mentioned. He didn't believe it, did he? He had sent Lee Sungmin away because he didn't believe, hadn't he?
"I hadn't... I never even once..." Slowly, Kibum sat up, staring directly at Kyuhyun across the dark room even as he retained his dormant wife's hand; "What did Sungmin say?"
"He said that... that my blood had healing agents," Kyuhyun said slowly, stumbling over his words,
"Did he tell you why?" Kibum asked softly. When Kyuhyun nodded, he said, "So, he told you that you were turned?"
"Vampire?" Kyuhyun confirmed what neither of them wanted to say outloud. He heard his brother-in-law sigh softly with relief; "Is it true? Do they really exist? Am I really...?"
"Kyuri is here because of one," Kibum said simply,
"Kyuki... earlier... earlier he said that Kyuri had been... that a monster had tried to attack Kyuri," Kyuhyun revealed,
"He saw it?" Kibum was sitting up straighter, his voice suddenly hollow. He stood up, gently laying Kyuri's hand on the bed. He paced away, running his hands through his hair; "You know... we started in this job because it was all we had."
He reached the windows, leaning his palms on the sill; "We had a roof over our heads, three meals a day and the best education the Japanese government could afford. Some people would say that our childhoods were taken away because we were trained from such young ages, but we didn't think it that way. I had nothing else... I had nothing else to live for. Your sister she... she had been abandoned and, even though she'll deny it until her last breath, I know she trained to prove something to your parents.
"As we got older, we realized we were good - really good. I was considered the best and your sister rose in the ranks faster than anyone else in history," he laughed, but the sound was sad; "We never said it, but we were arrogance incarnated. Even if we had the skill to back it up, we were still arrogant." Kibum felt his hands trembling, so he fisted them atop the sill. He felt his throat closing painfully and tried to force the words out, keep his tone as monotonous as always as he felt his eyes burn and saw his vision blur.
"When your sister got pregnant with the twins, she was out. Not completely, but she wasn't in the field anymore," Kibum said; "It was still all I knew how to be and, so, I continued on as I always had, accepting the promotion I had refused for years." He shifted, leaning a shoulder against the side of the window, folding his arms about his torso; "We moved from Japan to Korea because we had found friends here... we had found family here. Even if you weren't... completely there... we preferred to be in the same country as you, even when you and your parents moved from Seoul two years ago."
Kyuhyun felt his heart constrict, painfully. The more he heard of what had been happening while he lived in amnesiac bliss, the more pain he felt. He had felt so alone in the world, so secluded from everyone because of his illness, because of his status as his father's heir. He had craved a family like the ones he would see walking in the park together. He was starting to realize that all that time, he had friends, he had family. He gripped the armrests fiercely, feeling the tears clog his throat. The past three years... what had his parents done?
"We came here and found a life. We raised our family, our kids... Kyuri had become reverred by all... sought out by all and I worked two jobs because I didn't find my job fulfilling any more and, yet, it had been the focal point of my life for so long, I didn't know how else to live," Kibum confessed,
"I... I don't understand," Kyuhyun admitted, "What did you and Kyuri do?"
"You asked me if vampires existed. Kyuri and I were responsible for huting and... eliminating them," Kibum answered,
"Lee Sungmin called them... Hunters?" Kyuhyun offered, the word odd yet familiar on his lips,
"Yes, that's what we were called. Your sister had been promoted to Head Hunter when we were still teenagers, the youngest in all of the Council's history," Kibum answered, adding, "The Council is the government sector for handling vampires."
"And now? You said she was partially out and that you have two jobs," Kyuhyun said,
"After the twins were born, we briefly returned to Japan, requesting transfers to Korea. Your sister became Head Tactician. The Councils in China, Japan and Korea have teams of tacticians, but only Korea has a Head Tactician," Kibum explained, "All tacticians defer to her and some Head Hunters just go to her directly on bigger, more complex missions.
"And, after years of refusing the Head Hunter position, I accepted it when we were transfered here," Kibum said, "I had been your sister's partner even when we were still trainees and refused to be parted from her when we were both offered Head Hunter positions in Japan. However, over the past few years, I've been a substitute teacher at Shim Jang Academy."
He sighed heavily, "I took less missions and your sister hadn't been in the field for years and, yet... somehow... somehow it's still affected our family, got to our kids. We did everything we could to protect them except for completely leaving the Council," Kibum sighed, "We were arrogant in believing we didn't have to quit completely and, yet..."
"It's still so... unbelievable," Kyuhyun said quietly,
"I'm sure you went through this when you first turned," Kibum said as he turned to face Kyuhyun, "But of course, you don't remember that." He sighed heavily, walked back to the bed and picked up Kyuri's hand again. "Kyuhyun, I can't force you to believe what I and Sungmin have said. I can't force you to do anything you don't want to do. Sungmin could have told you so many things to convince you to believe him, to do the transfusion, but he didn't and, I can sympathize why.
"You've lived so many years with things being taken from you and I can understand his hesitance... he's your best friend, he's practically your brother," Kibum revealed, "But Kyuri's been without so much since she was born and she's never asked anything of you and certainly not of your parents. She had one moment of selfishness, but she eventually caved. And, now, she's not even conscious enough to be selfish."
"You want me to do the transfusion," Kyuhyun said quietly, "I... I know what you're saying and even sympathize with my sister, but I want to be sure that what I have won't hurt her and your baby. I... I'm holding back partly because this all sounds so... insane and because I don't want to hurt my sister. You're right, she's had to suffer more than me and I don't want to cause her more pain or problems."
Kibum reached above Kyuri's bed and turned on one of the lights, the bulb aimed towards the ceiling, the glow soft in the dark room. He glanced at his wife to assure himself she was still asleep, although he had no doubt she would remain sleeping. He locked gazes with Kyuhyun for the first time after three years. Kyuri's hand held firmly in his right, he held up his left hand for Kyuhyun to see. Silver scars and ridges ran all along Kibum's hand.
"I didn't get these scars from my job, Kyuhyun. I got these scars from you," Kibum confessed; "You were going insane because you need blood, a pureblood vampire was influencing you and I had to stop you." He ran his left hand through his hair, "I can give you proof over and over again, but I don't have enough time, Kyuhyun and, frankly, I think you owe it to your sister to do this.
"When we visited SJU and met you for the first time, you needed a blood transfusion and she gave it to you. Her one moment of weakness was withholding the transfusion, but it didn't take longer than a few days before she gave it," Kibum revealed, "Considering everything else that she's been through, you owe her at least this... at least this. So... I'm not going to try to convince you anymore, Kyuhyun. I'm going to ask - no... no, I'm begging you to do the transfusion."
Kyuhyun swallowed hard, suddenly feeling as if his shoulders had gotten heavy with the sudden burden. His chest hurt and his head pounded with all the information being thrown at him. He scrambled to his feet, "I... I need a little time..."
"Damn it, Kyuhyun, we don't have time! They don't have time!" Kibum bellowed, not caring that he was crying in front of the younger man,
"I... I'm sorry," Kyuhyun muttered and he bolted out of the room, the door slamming behind him.
Kibum's eyes widened as he whipped his gaze down to Kyuri's. Her eyes were barely open, fluttering, fluttering, almost as if even the effort of opening her eyes was too much. He moved to sit on the edge of her bed, her hand clapsed between both of his.
"Kibum, you're crying," she breathed, her fingers giving a weak squeeze of his,
"Because you're so hurt, my love," he brought her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles; "Because our baby is so hurt and I can't do a single thing."
"You didn't... cry... twins born," she murmured, attempting a small, weak smile,
"Because nothing went wrong... but this... this is all wrong," Kibum said, his voice trembling.
Even though she was sure she was drowned in medication, Kyuri still felt sore and achy. She felt weak and more vulnerable than she had ever felt, except, perhaps when she realized she had fallen in love with her best friend.
Now, looking up at her beloved husband, trying to make her eyes focus, she felt a new pain, a different pain that shot in her chest and right to her heart. She had never seen Kibum cry, and rarely witnessed any kind of emotion from him but, now, he was crying, streams of tears coursing down his face. Her heart constricted with so much love and so much empathy for Kibum.
"Shouldn't... guilting... Kyuhyun," she murmured,
"I shouldn't have to in the first place!" Kibum practically growled, "He should be doing everything he can to bring you and our baby back but he can't get past himself to think about anyone else! So many years you've been punished because of him! You deserve to be selfish, Kyuri! You deserve this from him! You deserve more from him!"
"Kyuhyun... confused..." She managed, struggling with her words, frustrated she couldn't explain herself better.
Her mind felt clouded, but she knew what she wanted to say, knew she wanted to defend her brother, that she understood his hesitance, that he was scared of so many new things being thrown at him all at once. Scared of not understanding what he was all over again. Scared of hurting more people. Regardless of what had happened to her over the years because of being her brother's twin, regardless of whatever cold hatred had once burned within her, she had come to truly care and love her brother.
"Baby... alive?" Kyuri asked quietly, her eyes filling with tears,
"Yes, yes!" Kibum said as he leaned into her, pressing gentle kisses to her forehead, down her nose to her dried, crackled lips, "Yes, my love, and she's so beautiful but so small."
"A girl," she tried to smile as a sob escaped her lips, her heart pounding wildly from happiness.
"Yes, we have another daughter," Kibum murmured as he slipped a hand from his grasp on hers, bringing it to gently clasp the back of her neck, "Kyuri, I know you'll probably beat me up later, but I need to be selfish right now... I need to be selfish for you and for our daughter."
Kyuri wanted to be selfish, wanted to save her baby. However, she found herself at a crossroads once again when she had to choose which life was more important. Her baby was probably dying and her brother was probably descending into insanity. Her heart constricted, remembering how she had chosen to help the Hunter instead of staying safe inside the lobby. She couldn't do it a second time, she couldn't choose which was more important to her.
She clenched her eyes tightly to fight away the hot tears. She had to be selfish this time. She had to save her baby. She would say her apologies later, but she would not place her baby's life below her brother's fragile mind. She would beg her brother with everything she had, until her last breath, for the transfusion.
She was growing so tired, so weak. Breathing was becoming too difficult. She felt as if she were floating, but not from the medication, but from sheer fatigue, exhaustion. She felt numb everywhere, felt cold in her extremities. Her eyes remained shut because it was too much effort to keep them even a fraction open. Her grip on Kibum's hand slackened because even a slight grip was too strenuous. Her breathing became shallow because her lungs were too tired. Slowly, even thinking became too much; she was just too tired.
"Kyuri, please... please don't go against a vampire again, ever... please, I'm begging you," Kibum whispered desperately, as he saw her eyes flutter close and remain shut. "Please, we need out... we need to leave it all behind... I... I can become a full-time teacher, I can leave the field, I swear I can... just... just promise me we won't go against a vampire again... never... please."
He felt her hand go limp in his, "Stay with me, Kyuri, do you hear me? Stay with me, baby, please... just stay awake a little bit longer. I know you're tired... I know you're hurting, but just a little longer, I need to hear your voice just a little longer, even if it's just a whisper. But if you need to sleep, you need to wake up again, do you heart me? You need to wake up again!"
Her breathing became shallow, but not as if she were sleeping, as if she were going to an even deeper, permanent sleep, "I can't... I can't go through this again... I won't be able to handle losing you... the children need you, love... I need you."
"You were always the strong one between us. I know you thought I was, but you were wrong... you kept me anchored when I was so lost for so many years. You kept me human when I could've easily become a machine on the field. You were everything to me, Kyuri... you are everything to me," His lips against her forehead, his tears splashing on her skin, he cried, "I don't... I can't go on without you. I won't know how to raise the kids... I don't know what it's like to have a family without you."
His lips trembled as he moved them to hers, their breaths mingling, "Please, Kyuri, fight this... stay alive, baby... stay alive for me, whatever it takes, just, please, don't leave me alone... don't leave me alone again."
"Kibum," she somehow managed, her voice soft, impossibly quiet, riding on the smallest puff of air,
"I love you, Kyuri," he said reverently, both of his hands holding her face now, his fingers firm but shaking, "From the moment you first stopped by my window, from the moment you first argued with me, danced with me, laughed with me, loved me... Through everything we've lived... Through it all, all the ups and downs."
"Kibum," Her voice was so quiet that Kibum was scared she really wasn't falling asleep again,
"If I had to go through it all again... if I had to go through losing everything, the years of endless loneliness... I would, Kyuri," he promised, "I would go through all of those years of being alone if it meant I could be meet you, be with you... have you in my life." He shut his eyes tightly against the constant onslaught of tears, "So, please, suffer a little longer and stay with me."
"I love you," Kyuri breathed, and, then, she breathed no more.
The only sound in the hospital room was Kibum sobbing and the endless tone of the flat-lined monitor.
Then one day you broke
and were scared to try
to be whole once again.
So I'masking you now...
Give me your heart,
give me your trust.
Just take my hand
and I'll help you understand
that you'll never be alone.
I'll never leave you
as shattered glass.
Early Monday morning; Fourth week of November 20XX
Not for the first time, he was glad that his office had no windows. The last he had seen a window, it still had been dark outside, but it had been hours since he found refuge in the safe haven of his office. He sat sideways in his leather office chair, his shoulder against the back of the chair, his knees hooked over one of the arm rests and his arms folded loosely in his lap.
He knew he was being selfish, knew that everything his brother-in-law had said was right: he owed his sister. Not just the transfusion, but everything, his entire life. For one reason or another, he could no longer ignore the fact that his parents had sent his sister away and made sure he never knew about her or, if he had known about her, then they made sure he never remembered her. How had her life been away from Korea? Had she been cared for? Spoiled? Had she been given every necessity and excess as he had? A sick feeling in his stomach made him answer 'no' to those questions.
He had met his sister two times, both meetings brief. Despite that, he knew that she wasn't selfish. She hadn't asked for a penny when she had been at the house talking to their mother. And, when it was just the two of them in the car, she hadn't begrudged the difference in how they were raised, how unbalanced their treatment had been. She lashed out about their parents, but not him; never him, not once.
He owed her. And, even if he didn't, he should be doing everything he can for his sister anyway because she was family, she was his sister.
She was his twin.
He looked down at the worn photograph in his lap. After unknown hours of staring at the dark wall, his desk lamp the only light in his office, he had finally felt fine enough to look at the photograph. The little boy to the left had a name now. Beneath the slightly sideways bill of his hat, his fox-like eyes were bright with laughter.
The little girl had had a name for a few weeks now. Dressed in pink and ribbons, he had a feeling she didn't appreciate it when she was young. In fact, knowing her a little now made him feel she still wouldn't appreciate it.
He swallowed hard as he slipped his cellular phone from his pocket. He stared at it for several long minutes until he finally used it.
'You're my cousin... aren't you?'
He held his breath as he waited and his lungs felt as if they would explode as he waited longer after his phone had vibrated.
He never realized one word could shake him so effectively, so wholly. He swallowed hard, breathing slowly, deeply, so as to steady himself. He had learned so much in such a short amount of time. Perhaps, even, too much. He understood the desperation of the situation, but it still didn't stop him from being overwhelmed, his head pounding as if it would explode at any second.
'Then, you must know my past.'
Kyuhyun shut his eyes for a moment. Everything was happening so fast and he couldn't keep up. He felt as if everything, every piece of information were like drops of water and he was afloat, drifting out to sea. He needed an anchor, a safety to pull him back to shore. He needed some kind of stability, solid ground beneath his feet, but the more he learned, the farther adrift he felt. He was more scared than he ever thought possible and, the worst part was that he wasn't scared of someone or something tangible; he was scared of his past, of what he didn't know, of what he would learn. He was scared of himself.
'Do vampires exist?'
'Am I one of them?'
His phone vibrated, but he avoided looking at it for a few minutes. He needed to hear it one more time. He had seen proof, he had been told stories, but he needed just a little more, needed just one more confirmation. He had heard it from Lee Sungmin who he had apparently known since childhood, was apparently his best friend and they were supposedly almost brothers. He had heard it from his brother-in-law who seemed rational, logical and obviously was fiercely loyal to his sister. However, he didn't know these men anymore. He needed to hear it one more time from someone he did know, even just a little bit.
'A turned-vampire... yes.'
Kyuhyun put his phone, screen-down on his lap again. He leaned his head sideways against the back of the chair and closed his eyes. The pieces in his mind shifted painfully, sending jolts of blinding pain as they fell into place and, all that once seemed bizarre and unfamiliar somehow felt... right. He pushed his thoughts away, pushed away the temptation to try to remember, knowing it would only cause more pain, more migraines so powerful they would bring him to his knees.
He heard the soft clicks and sliding of a key in his office door's lock. The almost silent shushing of the door opening and then closing. He heard all the familiar noises of his assistant checking to see if there was hot tea in the pot and, when there wasn't, the soft clinks and clangs of him preparing some tea. The sounds, so familiar, so routine that Kyuhyun could predict them easily, could picture the motions in his mind. Routine was comfortable.
He heard the clink of a mug on his desk.
"I know it's already the end of November, but, knowing you, you'll probably be running a fever after leaving your house last night in nothing more than a sweater," Mijoon's voice was light, the cadence simple, peaceful, soothing his headaches easily, "So the tea is cold."
"Thanks," Kyuhyun murmured,
"You came here straight from the hospital didn't you?" Mijoon asked, eyes sweeping over Kyuhyun's attire,
"I don't recall getting a call to drive you," Mijoon stated, an edge to his voice,
"Mijoon... do you believe in vampires?" He asked tentatively, hardly believing the words were coming from his lips.
Hesitance and, then, "Yes."
The admission startled Kyuhyun and, even though he didn't move, he stiffened, he held his breath and waited for more.
"You forget sometimes, Young Master, that I have been your assistant for only a year. You do not know the things I know, the things I've seen," Mijoon said simply,
"When it's just the two of us... when we're talking about important things, can't you call me by my name?" Kyuhyun asked quietly, "I hate it when you call me as everyone else does."
"Kyuhyun, then. Why are you asking me of such things?" Mijoon inquired calmly, standing near Kyuhyun's head. He leaned his hips against the desk, hands shoved in his pants' pockets.
"I... might be one," Kyuhyun confessed softly.
In his world where he had been alone, he finally had someone, even though he was hired as an assistant. He had a constant companion who was able to read him so easily, who seemed to know his thoughts before he thought them, who seemed to always know when he was needed. It had been so easy to trust Mijoon, to tell him everything, to rely on him for everything. It had been so easy.
“How did you know I was going out?”
“I got a phone call,”
It had been almost too easy.
"You knew, didn't you?" Kyuhyun asked, slowly opening his eyes, fighting the sudden onslaught of burning in his eyes. "About me? You know what I was... am."
"Yes," Mijoon replied simply. It seemed it was past the time for lies.
Kyuhyun thought back to all his time with Mijoon. He thought about all the times Mijoon had ensured that not even an inch of skin had been exposed to sunlight, even when going from a door to the car. He recalled the way Mijoon always knew when he was too exhausted, when he would interrupt the meetings with his father if they stretched for too long. He remembered the way that Mijoon safeguarded his health, refusing to let him remain at work whenever he was close to collapsing.
"I could never hold anything down, could never eat or drink anything; even water made me sick," Kyuhyun said, "Yet, from the first day you started working for me, I was always able to drink the tea... How?"
"You never actually looked at your tea," Mijoon said, staring sightlessly at the back wall of the office; "It was always either in a thermos, cup or any other opaque container. I was the only person to ever give it to you, you never saw me brew it and no one else could touch it."
"Blood? Partly," he answered, "If it was purely blood, you would've known. Regardless of how sweet blood would taste to you, it still has a distinct coppery taste."
"That time when I was burned, you used a cream," Kyuhyun recalled,
"Infused with blood. It was the only way the cream would have worked on your burns and it sped up the healing process," Mijoon said simply,
"Medicine... medicine doesn't work on me, does it?" Kyuhyun asked, "That's why all the pills from he doctors never made me feel better, but made me feel worse instead."
"That's why I never gave you your medicine, regardless of how sick you got in my presence. Instead," He shrugged even though he knew the younger man wasn't looking at him, "I gave you -"
"Tea," Kyuhyun laughed quietly, ruefully; "All this time... There were so many signs that you knew more, understood me better. You treated me differently from everyone else. I thought it was because... well... I was wrong."
Firm fingers grabbed his jaw, forcing him to look up. Mijoon towered over him, his image upside-down. The assistant's eyes were narrowed dangerously.
"How many times do we have to go over this, Kyuhyun? Regardless of everything else, everyone else, what is between you and me is just that - between you and me," Mijoon said quietly, sternly; "Yes, I did hide what I knew about you and, yes, it did make me take care of you differently, but why should I treat you like everyone else when I know how to take care of you properly? Vampire or not, I would have treated you with even more care than others, would have treated you differently than others did because my feelings for you are real, Kyuhyun.
"You can say whatever you want, believe whatever you want, but I'm not going anywhere. I am committed to you, not just as my boss, but as a man and I will not let your fears come between us," Mijoon stated easily, steel running through his tone; "I will be here for you Kyuhyun. I will stay with you during all of your good times and bad, so you need to stop thinking that I have an ulterior motive or that I'm going to leave you at the smallest notice.
"I didn't tell you because you would've thought I was crazy and had me fired. I couldn't let that happen because no one could've protected you like I could," Mijoon explained, "I couldn't let anyone replace me."
"Why?" Kyuhyun asked as he gazed up at him,
"You have to ask? After everything? After everything I've ever said to you, after everything I just said, you still have to ask me why?" Mijoon questioned,
"At the beginning, though, before you knew me well," Kyuhyun said, "You couldn't have known in the beginning that you could protect me properly, that... that you wouldn't want anyone to replace you."
"Since the moment I was hired, I have loved you, Kyuhyun," Mijoon stated, leaning closer, their eyes just centimetres apart, "I knew even then that you were mine and nothing and no one would take you from me. Do you remember what we said to each other, Kyuhyun? Do you remember how I told you forever?"
Slowly, Kyuhyun nodded.
"I said forever, Kyuhyun. I said I would follow you into death. I did not say these words lightly, I meant every word," Mijoon stated.
Kyuhyun blinked, startled and a little scared. He had seen Mijoon take charge before, had seen the fire flash in his eyes, heard the cold steel in his voice. Slowly, Mijoon's hand slipped away from Kyuhyun's chin. He brushed his lips against Kyuhyun's forehead before moving away. Mijoon slid the mug of tea closer,
"Drink your tea," Mijoon said - no, commanded. "I have a meeting with your father. I'll return within the hour."
Kyuhyun watched as Mijoon strode away. He paused at the door,
"Drink the damn tea, Kyuhyun!" Mijoon practically growled before leaving, the door closing softly after him.
Kyuhyun swung his legs off of the arm rest, sitting properly at his desk and putting his phone and the photograph on the tabletop. He picked up his mug and brought it to his lips. He hesitated, the aroma of the drink filling his nostrils. The smell was a mix of green tea and something sweet, something that made his stomach clench with need. Hands shaking, he put the mug back down on the desk, his gaze on it.
Many things made sense for Kyuhyun. Aspects of his particular illness were no longer a mystery. His critical sensitivity to the sun, his inability to eat anything, how the doctors struggled to diagnose and treat him, the way he was able to read minds when he...
His gaze flew towards the door, the last place he had seen Mijoon. From the moment Mijoon had been hired, Kyuhyun had never had to worry about touching him. He had never read Mijoon's thoughts, saw inside his head. And, the one time it did happen, one month ago in his office, he had seen blood and death. He had forgotten that moment, forgotten why he had suddenly feared Mijoon, why he wanted as much distance as possible from the assistant.
How could he have forgotten? Now that he remembered, he remembered it all. He had felt coldness sweep through him, fear had frozen him completely. In that moment, Mijoon wasn't the person he knew, wasn't the man he l...
Why was it Mijoon could hide his thoughts from him? More importantly, why would Mijoon need to hide his thoughts from him? Was Mijoon hiding something? And, why had his head been full of death and violence?
A shudder ran down his spine as he turned his attention to the photograph again. There would be plenty of time to address his problems and the new mystery that was his assistant.
His sister needed him and he wouldn't fail her.
He prayed he hadn't wasted too much time.
No, I'll never leave you
as shattered glass.
I'll never leave you
(13th Cycle: Reciprocated)
A/N #1- Yay! Back from hiatus! Thank you to my lovely readers for staying with me all this time (and through all these years!!)
A/N #2- Any spelling/grammar errors are my fault because I didn't want to bother my dear Sarah for editing. Wanted to get this chapter up ASAP for the readers ;)