theme: o38. "I want you to stay forever".
“So it’ll be called SJ-H; Super Junior - Happy,” The Manager hyung said, standing before eight of the Super Junior members (Those who were a part of SJ-M were doing promotions in China).
“Is SJ-T still alive?” Sungmin asked from his spot on the living room floor, a pillow in his arms. He had been quite excited for SJ-T, having an affinity for trot music while growing up.
“Technically…” the manager replied, “But it wasn’t as popular as we had hoped it would be. If in a few months there’s more demand for SJ-T, we’ll revive it, but for now the company’s thought up SJ-H.”
Heechul who was leaning against the wall, arms crossed, rolled his eyes, “I knew SJ-T wouldn’t last; so what is this SJ-Happy supposed to produce? And I refuse to believe it’ll be happy songs.”
“Ah… er… well, technically… more of the bubblegum pop that was more popular during the 90’s,” Manager answered,
“One more year and perhaps there’ll be a subgroup dedicated to music from this decade,” Heechul muttered exasperatedly, “Well, whatever it is, I’m not a part of it this time. I enjoyed SJ-T, I won’t deny that, but I’d rather be known for being a Super Junior member who took part in one subgroup, than a member who was a part of several subgroups.”
“That’s fine, that’s fine,” Manager insisted, at that moment, he’d comply with any of Heechul’s demands; he was never good at handling Heechul, so he wasn’t going to attempt to now.
“So are the rest of us going to be in SJ-H?” Eeteuk finally spoke up for the others, promptly taking up his role as leader.
“Most of you,” Manager answered, “Kibum won’t be,”
“Eh?” Kibum looked up then, startled by the revelation,
“Ah, yes because of your schedule,” Manager explained, pulling out a small planner from his breast pocket,
“What schedule?” Kibum inquired,
“You’re to star in a drama, beginning in May,” Manager said, “So with filming, you’ll be too busy to participate in SJ-H activities and promotions.”
As the manager continued his explanation of the new subgroup, Eeteuk watched Kibum silently. Kibum had reverted to his quiet self at the other end of the couch. Arms crossed loosely, eyes focused on the wooden floor - almost in a world of his own. Eeteuk felt his heart grow heavy as he saw Kibum clench his hands and momentarily bite his lip; he hadn’t seen that in Kibum since when they first debut. He knew that his dongsaeng was holding something back.
After the manager had left and everyone went back to their previous business, Eeteuk asked Kibum to his room. The latter followed the former, closing the door behind them. Eeteuk sat on his bed looking at Kibum,
“Hyung?” Kibum said in askance,
“Are you okay? You didn’t seem too happy in there,” Eeteuk asked, “If anything, you seemed quite upset.”
“You could tell?” Kibum raised his eyebrows in surprise as he walked over to his hyung’s desk where several photos of Super Junior were.
“I’ve known you for years, of course I could tell; I’m your hyung and I care about you,” Eeteuk stated with conviction,
“I was an actor before I debuted again with Super Junior and even though I wasn’t that strong of a singer like Yesung hyung, or that great of a dancer like Eunhyuk hyung - I thought, here’s my chance to improve myself, to become more than what I’ve already become,” Kibum began in his usual drawl tone,
“But you even became one of the leader rappers,” Eeteuk pointed out,
“Yes, I did and that made me so ecstatic because it meant I wouldn’t fade into the background,” Kibum stated, a ghost of a smile tugging at his lips, “But if you ask people about me, the first thing they’ll say is that I’m an actor.”
“But you’re good at acting,” Eeteuk insisted whole heartedly.
Kibum looked over his shoulder at him, giving a bittersweet smile, “Thank you, but that’s not how I feel. I want to continue to sing and to dance - it feels as if most of my life after debut I’ve been acting and… that’s fine and everything, but how am I supposed to grow if all I’m ever seen as is an actor. In the years to come people will think ‘Kim Kibum? Oh, yeah he’s a great actor. He use to do some singing and dancing.”
“So you want to do more singing than acting?” Eeteuk asked, trying to understand Kibum’s position,
“Yes… no… I don’t know,” Kibum stammered as he turned to face his hyung. Leaning his hips back against the desk and crossing his arms loosely, he sighed heavily, “I think what I am most is afraid.”
“Of being forgotten.”
Eeteuk’s eyes widened at his words, “Forgotten? How could you be forgotten? We just discussed how good of an actor you are.”
“But in a few years, will people still remember me as a part of Super Junior?” Kibum asked, his voice suddenly very quiet and very small. Eyes averted to the ground again, he stood still, refusing to look Eeteuk in the eye.
“Of course you’ll still be a part of Super Junior! Nothing will ever change that Kibum, unless you, yourself, walk away from us!” Eeteuk exclaimed,
“I’ll be a part of Super Junior, but will OTHER people remember me as that? Will OTHER people still think of me as part of Super Junior? For all we know they probably think I’m not longer a part of the group,” Kibum said in a low, steady voice,
“Why would they think that?”
“K.R.Y.; Trot; Mandarin; and now Happy. I’m the only one who hasn’t been part of a subgroup. I’m the only one who hasn’t done promotions for the group since Don’t Don… To everyone else, it’ll seem like I’ve walked away from Super Junior to concentrate on myself, to concentrate on acting, when that’s not true at all,” Kibum explained, “I don’t want them thinking that… I don’t… I don’t…” he took a steadying breath, “I don’t like knowing that Super Junior doesn’t need me anymore.”
“That’s not true, Kibum! We need you; Super Junior is not a group if you’re not with us!” Eeteuk stated solidly, getting to his feet. He began to shake slightly from the emotions coursing through him, “At the beginning none of us knew where our futures lay since we were a project group. When Kyuhyun joined us and we became a permanent group we finally had a future. We finally had a meaning of being Super Junior than just some project to send us into different fields - we became a team.”
“There’s thirteen of us, hyung. No one would notice one missing person,” Kibum muttered,
“Yes they would. You’re right, there IS thirteen of us and thirteen might be considered a big number for everyone else, but for us - it works. For us - it’s right. Thirteen members, Kibum - not twelve. If even one of us leaves - if you leave - we’ll cease to be Super Junior. We cannot go on as Super Junior with just twelve people, Kibum,” Eeteuk argued, his voice almost a low growl - so different from his usual gentle timbre.
“I miss singing with everyone,” Kibum confessed then, “I hate being separated from everyone while everyone else is together.”
Eeteuk felt his heart break when he saw a stray tear trickle down Kibum’s cheek. He had held it in up until that point, and despite the proof of his sadness, still refused to let it out. “Why don’t you ask to be part of SJ-H, then?”
Kibum shook his head, “The schedule’s already been approved and confirmed - you heard, it’ll start in May, that’s just a month away… Maybe… maybe the next subgroup,” Kibum suggested lightly, attempting a smile as he looked at Eeteuk finally.
Seeing Kibum’s eyes brimmed with tears, Eeteuk couldn’t stay back anymore. He closed the space between him and Kibum, wrapping his arms about his shoulders and hugging tightly as Kibum remained still, remained strong despite the cracks appearing.
“You don’t need to be in a subgroup to still be a part of Super Junior,” Eeteuk insisted as his hold only increased on the dongsaeng, urging Kibum to just let go before his worries consumed him. Finally, Eeteuk said the words that he felt Kibum needed to hear the most, the words that he believed most wholeheartedly to be true: “I want you to stay forever. With Super Junior. With us… with me.”
Eeteuk felt some relief as Kibum leaned his forehead on his shoulder and uncrossed his arms. With Kibum’s arms lying at his sides, Eeteuk was able to pull him closer and did so, holding him securely, protectively as more cracks appeared in Kibum’s resolve. For the first time in years, Eeteuk felt like Kibum’s hyung and he knew how hard it was for his dongsaeng to let that happen. Kibum had always been mature beyond his years, had always grown up too fast for his hyung’s.
“You heard Heechul, SJ-T didn’t last, who knows if SJ-H will,” Eeteuk reminded gently, trying to lighten the mood. All Kibum could do was nod in silent response, his head still on Eeteuk’s shoulder, “And if we go through the whole alphabet and you weren’t in any of those subgroups, that doesn’t make you any less of a member, understand!?” Kibum nodded again. “You’re staying then, right? You’re not going to give up or leave because of this? Because if you leave, I will personally drag you back Kim Kibum!”
Not trusting his voice, Kibum finally embraced Eeteuk back.
And that was more than enough of an answer.