theme: o82. Evening.
He had been hiding something; he had always been hiding something.
These thoughts ran through Shiwon’s mind as he watched him practice in the dance studio. They had been friends since their days as trainees and when they were placed in Super junior, it only gave them the opportunity to become even closer. Now, in a group of thirteen, one was closer to more people than others while a little less close to the rest. The latter could be said about Shiwon and the person he was watching.
When he was done practicing, he walked over to the side near where Shiwon was resting and picked up his towel and water bottle and plopped down on the floor, leaning back against the wall. As Shiwon kept his face and body directed straight ahead as another member got up to practice with Shindong and Eunhyuk who were choreographing the dance, his mind was on the person just a few feet away. Furtively, he’d occasionally glance and the more he glanced, the more Shiwon realized that he had lost a considerable amount of weight. No one had noticed because it had been gradual, but inspecting him so thoroughly after never doing so before, he saw the difference.
“Is something wrong hyung?” He asked as he took a swig of water from his bottle,
Shiwon looked over, his eyebrows raised in question, “No, why you ask Kibum-sshi?”
Kibum lidded his bottle and shrugged as he leaned his head back, face tilted to the ceiling, “I don’t know… you keep looking at me from the corner of your eye though.” With that, he turned his head just enough to look at Shiwon,
“Ah… it’s nothing,” Shiwon insisted, putting his hands up in a flourishing gesture.
Kibum stared at him a moment before turning his head back to the ceiling and closing his eyes.
A few days later, Shiwon was over at the other dorm having dinner with Hankyung when Kibum came home from filming his latest drama. He chucked his bag inside his bedroom before coming into the living room and practically collapsing on the couch. Sprawled there, he raised his head enough to look at the dining table where Shiwon and Hankyung sat,
“What are you eating?” Kibum asked,
“Beijing fried rice,” Hankyung answered simply, “Do you want some or are you going to sleep?”
Kibum thought it over longer than thought necessary before getting up and joining them at the table. Shiwon, without being asked, got up and got another plate and utensils for Kibum, who thanked him when given the objects. As Hankyung and Shiwon engaged in their usual conversation during dinner, Kibum ate in silence and - Shiwon noted - quite slowly and hesitant.
“I find myself respecting Eeteuk-sshi more and more every time we have schedules with SJ-M,” Hankyung said before eating his last spoonful of rice and reaching for his glass of soda, “Being the leader is hard enough with just seven… but Eeteuk-sshi is leader for thirteen!”
Shiwon nodded as he swallowed, “It’s good he has such responsibilities, he’s setting his ways.”
Hankyung laughed as he picked up his dishes and walked into the adjoining kitchen, “Well, you guys finish your dinners, I told Henry I’d meet him in the studio to go over more choreography for next week’s performance on M-net.” With that, he grabbed his jacket and left.
“You’ve been quiet,” Shiwon said finally,
“I’m just tired…” Kibum paused, a hand going to his mouth. Shiwon stood up but Kibum raised his other hand to stop him. Before Shiwon could even say anything, Kibum jumped from his chair and bolted to the bathroom. He barely made it to the toilet bowl before what little he had eaten, ended up in the toilet. As he coughed up the last of his so-called dinner, he fell back on his backside, slumping against the side of the bathtub.
“Kibum-sshi… are you sick?” Shiwon asked worriedly as he stood hesitantly in the doorway, filling the frame with his lean body,
Kibum shook his head, “I… lately I haven’t been able to keep any food down. The best I can do is water and sometimes bread.”
“That’s called being sick,” Shiwon said as he walked in, pushing the lever on the toilet, closing the lid and sitting down upon it, “If you can’t eat… maybe you have a digestive problem or the stomach flu-”
“I’m not sick, Shiwon,” Kibum repeated quietly, steadily, “I’m awakening.”
Shiwon blinked, “… you’re awake right now.”
Kibum kept his gaze to the tiled ground before asking hesitantly, “I know I’m not as close to you as Donghae or Hyukjae… but I also know I can trust you, right hyung?”
“Of course,” Shiwon insisted, nodding even though Kibum couldn’t see.
Kibum raised his head, but looked straight ahead. Shiwon stared at his profile as Kibum bit lightly on his bottom lip, revealing his top row of teeth. Silently, he was shocked to see Kibum’s fangs lengthen and sharpen. Instinctively, Shiwon’s hand flew to his mouth, stifling the gasp he was sure to escape. Kibum shut his mouth and dropped his gaze again,
“I’m not complete… my mother’s side is the only affected ones so… so that’s why I’ve been able to live a normal life… but now that I’m reaching the end of my twenty-first year, I’m awakening and some of the traits are starting to appear,” Kibum confessed quietly.
“I’m fine in the sun… but if I stay out in the light for too long, I start to burn and I’m considerably weaker in daylight. And, as you can see, I can’t eat normal food anymore. My body’s rejecting it,” Kibum answered, “It’s even rejecting the stimulated pills my family’s been taking for generations.”
“Stimulated…pills?” Shiwon repeated in askance,
“It’s been centuries since the last attack was ever reported, that’s because pills were created that stimulated being fed blood. It was the perfect solution for my kind to continue living amongst the normal humans,” Kibum sighed heavily as he reached into his pocket and held out three small, red capsules, “Three times a day for meals, that’s all it takes to stop the craving-”
“You crave blood?” Shiwon exclaimed, his hands instinctively going to his own neck.
Kibum glanced at him, “Yes, and no, I’m not going to jump you for your blood, hyung. Three pills, three times a day and it stops all cravings…”
“But your body doesn’t accept them either,” Shiwon finished.
Kibum nodded, “I think it’s because of my half blood or something… all I know is since I started implementing them into my diet in replace of food, I haven’t been able to take them at all. Not being able to eat normally and not even able to satisfy my blood cravings…”
“You’ve been starving yourself,” Shiwon concluded. Kibum could do no more than nod. “That’s why you’ve lost so much weight.”
“That’s why you keep looking at me in the dance studio, right?” It was Shiwon’s turn to nod, “I’ve been able to hide it pretty well… it’s gradual enough that no one really notices unless they compare me now to the me a few months ago… and I’ve been exercising more so that my muscles are more pronounced so that it seems the weight is being replaced by muscle.”
Shiwon listened in absorbed interest. Kibum had hidden this secret from them since day one, and now that he was even beginning to suffer from his secret birth, he still kept quiet. Whether Kibum said nothing due to protection or due to distrust, Shiwon didn’t care. All he cared about was helping his dongsaeng.
“Kibum…” Shiwon began as he began unbuttoning his collar.
Kibum looked up, seeing what Shiwon was doing. Kibum jumped to his feet and covered Shiwon’s hands with his, “No hyung. I didn’t tell you just so I could feed off you. I told you because I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t keep it all to myself anymore.”
“You’ve been suffering in more ways than I thought,” Shiwon noted, “Is this why you’re so quiet?”
Kibum dropped his hands from Shiwon, “If I talk too much, I’m scared that the words will just flow out… if the words come out, who knows what the consequences are. Some might accept me, some might not… but the worse thing that could happen is that I ruin Super Junior, or break us apart. So, I kept quiet.”
Shiwon stood up this time, “Kibum - you have to trust the others to stay loyal to you. All these years and you’re still worried of being accepted? Kibum - we’re all family, how can you think that there are those in Super Junior who won’t-”
“Seventeen,” Kibum interjected, “That’s how many friends and family members have walked away from me after learning my secret, and they’re the only ones I’ve ever told. Fourteen of those are friends who I’ve grown up with, friends from when I lived in America… three are family members from my father’s family - one of them being my paternal grandfather.”
Shiwon was shocked into silence as, one after another, Kibum named one of those seventeen people, said their age, their birthday, when he first met them, what they meant to him and when he last saw them.
“Grandfather died last year. Twelve years later and he still never spoke to me again, acknowledged me… even on his death bed he never even breathed a word of my existence as he said his goodbyes to the others. My dad was even beside him his last moments and my grandfather acted as if my dad was still without a wife and without a son,” Kibum finished, his fists clenched in an attempt to stop his body from shaking as his eyes filled with tears unshed over the years. “Now… ask me how I can still worry about acceptance from the members.”
Kibum sighed and turned away, leaning over the sink, “Please… go.” Shiwon moved to him, but Kibum waved him off. So, out of respect of Kibum, he made to leave. Just as he opened the front door, Shiwon heard Kibum call him from the bathroom. Shiwon stood there with his hand on the doorknob and called back. “Eighteen… you won’t… you won’t make it eighteen right?”
“I’ll be the first of many to accept you Kibum,” Shiwon vowed before leaving, the door shutting quietly behind him.
Over the next few weeks, Shiwon paid closer attention to Kibum. Out of curiosity of his ‘awakening’ and out of pure concern, Shiwon monitored Kibum like a hawk. Shiwon knew that his observations were known to his dongsaeng, but Kibum didn’t seem to mind. If anything, he seemed just happy finally having someone else know and having that someone accept him.
Shiwon watched painfully quietly as Kibum’s health deteriorated before him. Watched as the dongsaeng who had always been exceptionally strong for his small build, lose that strength. On the evening of Kibum’s twenty-first birthday - the day signalling the last day of his twenty-first year - Shiwon watched as Kibum became fully awakened.
They were all together in the dorm where majority of the members lived for a private party. They had celebrated with their staff and managers earlier that day at the studio, but now was just celebration between the members. Once the clock struck eight o’clock, they brought out plates and forks and the cake.
They sang to him and Kibum blew out his candles. Despite the childishness behind the tradition, he still made a wish and only Shiwon could have come close to guessing it: acceptance. Thirteen minutes past eight o’clock while everyone was talking and laughing and eating cake, Kibum quietly excused himself, claiming he was getting a call from his parents. Shiwon, however, was unconvinced. He knew Kibum had already talked to his parents earlier that day and knew that Kibum’s phone didn’t ring. So, as everyone else continued the celebrations, he slipped out of the dorm and followed after Kibum.
Shiwon found Kibum on the rooftop, on all fours. Shiwon approached him carefully,
Kibum held up a hand, “No don’t… don’t come any closer,” his voice came out forced and hoarse, “I was born… at this time,” he grabbed his chest with both hands as he felt it tighten and suddenly hard to breath, “Twenty-one years have past and I don’t think… I can control it.” Shiwon took a step closer and Kibum scrambled to his feet, “Don’t Shiwon - please!”
However, Shiwon continued to walk closer, and so, Kibum kept taking steps back until he felt the fence that surrounded the roof’s edge behind him. Still clutching his shirt above his heart, Kibum watched Shiwon with widened eyes, “DON’T!” he exclaimed as he tilted his face to the night sky. The next time he looked at Shiwon, his fangs were bared, “PLEASE!”
He lowered his head as his body began to tremble as he began the internal battle against himself. He let out a gasp when he felt Shiwon’s strong arms surround him in a tight embrace, “Hyung - please get away! I don’t know-”
“I’ll help you fight it then… at least let me try to help you Kibum-sshi,” Shiwon pleaded, “You’ve kept this a secret all these years… you won’t let anyone know so they can’t help you; at least let me - the one person you did tell - help you!”
Kibum suddenly felt something beginning to unravel within his body and mind. He let go of his chest and hugged Shiwon back, holding him fiercely as if letting go meant losing the battle. He buried his face into Shiwon’s shoulder as he fought his body from shaking as violently as it wanted. Shiwon was startled to feel his shoulder getting wet. He turned enough to see and, sure enough, tears were streaming down Kibum’s face as he fought against his natural instincts.
“Please go now hyung… I can’t fight it anymore… I can’t,” Kibum begged, his voice barely a whisper, so different from the usual steady and solid tone it usually was.
“Then don’t fight it,” Shiwon suggested quietly, “I said I would help you.”
“No, I can’t, please I can’t,” Kibum cried as he felt the hunger begin in his mind, spread to his stomach and slowly course through his veins. “I can’t…”
Kibum began to crumble to his knees and Shiwon followed suit, falling to his knees but keeping a tight hold on his dongsaeng. “Kibum…” he murmured quietly, “You’ve been silent long enough. You’ve been fighting by yourself long enough. Let me stay by your side and help you. I will gladly give you all the blood in my body if it means you could live another day. You asked for my acceptance before and I gladly gave it. Now I’m asking you to accept what help I can give, so take it.”
After a silent pause between them, Kibum raised his head, trembling, “Thank…you…” he whispered through a veil of tears. Hesitantly, he bared his fangs and bit into the left side of Shiwon’s neck.
Shiwon shut his eyes tightly, shocked at the sudden stab of pain. He held Kibum tighter, trying to forget of the pain. As he felt the rhythmic undulation of Kibum feeding from him, Shiwon felt the pain slowly dissipate and be replaced by the formation of an unfamiliar and unique thread tying him to Kibum in a way no one else had been before.
Kibum fed hungrily, almost in a mania. He had always hated the coppery taste of blood whenever he bit his lip or tongue, but now - now it tasted deliciously sweet and completely satisfying, sating the hunger that had encompassed him the past months since his awakening began. He felt the strength slowly seep back into his body as he felt warmth enter from his mouth and spread to his limbs. That’s when he felt it, the sudden loosen in his hyung’s hold, the slight slump in Shiwon’s kneeling posture. Immediately, Kibum retracted his fangs and pulled back just in time to catch Shiwon from falling backwards.
“Hyung - I’m sorry, I lost myself… I didn’t,” a flood of apologies flowed from Kibum’s reddened lips, “I’m so sorry, I -”
Shiwon held up a hand to quiet him, “It’s fine. If it means you’re okay, then it’s fine.”
“I meant what I said, Kibum,” Shiwon said, looking up at him as Kibum held him protectively, tenderly, “If you need blood to live, I will give you my blood whole-heartedly. So take it when you need it, as much as you need.” He insisted as he reached up and wiped away Kibum’s tears, “I’ll be fine.”
“Hyung, I should get someone or help or something,” Kibum offered.
Shiwon shook his head in argument, “I said I’ll be fine. I just need to rest a few minutes longer,” his eyes fluttering close, “Just a few minutes of peace… of rest and we can go back down again.”
“Anything… anything you want, Shiwon,” Kibum promised quietly,
“One more thing before… I completely doze off,” Shiwon murmured, “I know you’ve been hurt before Kibum, but the people thought closer to you than anyone… but have faith in the other members. If… if you can’t learn to trust them too, you’ll go through life living lonely. So, think about it… try to trust them.”
With that, Shiwon grew silent, his breath steadying and - Kibum was sure - fell into a light sleep. As Kibum stayed there a while longer just holding him in the night with nothing but the stars and moon giving them light, he didn’t look up at the beautiful sight the heavens provided that evening. Instead, Kibum kept his eyes on a hyung he had never been particularly close with and yet, placed his whole life in his care. So, before Shiwon awoken and before they left to return to the others, Kibum promised him: “I’ll try.”