theme: o25. Smoke.
Six months had never passed faster for Eeteuk. The end of winter brought with it his break up with Kangin. The beginning of spring was accompanied with Eeteuk meeting LiYa. Summer he spent more time with LiYa and when autumn arrived, he made the decision to get down on one knee before her, a ring in his hand. It was a late September evening when Eeteuk came back to his dorm, calling a member meeting to announce his engagement.
“That’s… that’s quite the commitment,” Heechul said quietly as he leaned a shoulder against the archway between the living room and kitchen.
“I know, but I’m ready to make this decision,” Eeteuk replied,
“You’ve only been together for five months,” Yesung muttered from his seat on the couch,
“It’s fast and sudden but… it feels right,” Eeteuk stated. Eeteuk stared at everyone’s closed expressions, “You guys, come on - it’s something I really want to do, aren’t any of you going to be happy for me?”
Shiwon took a steadying breath as he offered a small smile, “If it makes you happy, then congratulations hyung.” He stood up from his chair at the dining table and gave Eeteuk a hug.
One by one, the others congratulated Eeteuk on his engagement. As the others began to talk around him about getting married and how it’s about time he settled down since he was setting his ways, the balcony door pierced through the noise as it slammed shut. Silence fell upon the Super Junior members as they stared out at the balcony. Kangin stood out there, his hands on the railing and back to them; he was the only one who hadn’t said anything to Eeteuk or offered any kind of congratulatory statement.
Eeteuk waved it off with a smile, “He’s just grumpy that the spotlight isn’t on him,” He insisted as he headed over to the balcony. Eeteuk was greeted by a crisp wind when he slipped onto the balcony, sliding the door shut behind him; “Being best friends, I thought you’d be the first to congratulate me.”
“Congratulations,” Kangin grounded out, his hands tightening on the railing until his knuckles whitened,
Eeteuk came over and stood by the railing with him. He smiled ruefully, “You don’t mean it, but I appreciate the words.”
“Did you ever really expect me to be happy for you?” Kangin demanded quietly,
“It’s been six months since we broke up and we remained friends… you were even supportive of my relationship with LiYa; so yes, I did expect you to be happy for me,” Eeteuk replied as he crossed his arms atop the railing,
“A relationship is different from a marriage,” Kangin said simply, “One is more permanent.”
“Youngwoon, you knew I love LiYa; so how can you claim you only supported me because you didn’t think it’d last?” Eeteuk questioned,
“Because there was a time when you loved me,” Kangin answered, forcing a strength into his voice he didn’t quite feel.
Eeteuk sighed as he turned around and leaned his back against the railing, “Youngwoon, don’t bring up the past.”
“Then don’t act like the past meant nothing to you,” Kangin countered, “I have to bring up the past because it seems I’m the only one who remembers it!”
“Don’t put that on me Youngwoon! I remember the past, I remember EVERY detail of when we were together!” Eeteuk argued,
“I doubt that,” Kangin replied bitterly,
“Don’t you EVER think for one moment that what we had meant nothing to me!” Eeteuk grounded out, hot tears stinging his eyes as he turned his body to fully face his dongsaeng;
“If it didn’t mean nothing to you, then why did you break things up between us?” Kangin challenged, his eyes focused on the night sky,
“You KNOW why,” Eeteuk replied, biting on his bottom lip to stop his voice from wavering,
“I refuse to believe for one moment that the real reason was because you fell out of love with me,” Kangin countered, his words laced with anger,
“Well it’s… it’s the truth,” Eeteuk said unconvincingly, “And I’m sorry, I know you still feel that way for me but -”
“Then don’t fucking come to me and expect me to be happy for you after learning you’re getting married!” Kangin spat,
Eeteuk turned his head sideways to look at Kangin’s profile. He admired it a moment, outlined by the moonlight of the autumn night. He sighed quietly, steadying himself and his emotions, “Youngwoon, please don’t be like this. I want my best man to be happy for me.”
Kangin slowly turned his head to look at Eeteuk. He blinked, “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You want ME to be best man?”
Eeteuk offered him a small smile, “Of course; you’re my best friend.”
“And you have completely lost your mind!” Kangin stated as he turned to fully face Eeteuk, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest,
“Youngwoon, please - just think it over,” Eeteuk pleaded, “It’s a very important day for me and I want my best friend with me.”
“I refuse to stand beside you, smiling like I’m happy. I refuse to stand beside you, pretending like I support your marriage to LiYa,” Kangin grounded out,
“You were happy for me when I started dating LiYa!” Eeteuk exclaimed,
“I LIED!” Kangin countered angrily, “You think I was happy seeing you with someone else!? You actually fucking believed that I was happy that you found someone else? That you loved someone else?” He scoffed bitterly, “You’re either really cruel or really stupid to think that Jungsu; and I don’t think you’re stupid.”
“Fine! Don’t be my best man because you’re happy I’m getting married; or because you’re being supportive - be my best man because it’s what I want, because THAT will make me happy!” Eeteuk pleaded hotly, tightening his crossed arms to stop from trembling,
“You think I give a damn about what you want - about what will make you happy?” Kangin narrowed his eyes, “I refuse to stand by your side as you marry someone else!” With that, he grabbed the door, practically threw it open and stormed past the other members and out the door.
Later that evening after everyone had gone home and his dorm mates had gone to sleep, Eeteuk sat at the dining table eating ice cream straight from its container.
“Eeteuk-sshi?” The voice startled Eeteuk and he almost dropped his spoon,
“Shindong,” he breathed with relief, “You scared me.”
“Really? Because I’m happy to see you,” Shindong grinned seeing the ice cream on the table.
“Get a spoon,” Eeteuk chuckled.
Shindong scurried into the kitchen, grabbed a spoon and took the seat opposite Eeteuk at the dining table, “So, what’s with the midnight snacking? Not regretting the engagement, are you?” Shindong inquired as he took a big spoonful of ice cream,
“No, I just can’t sleep. I keep reliving the moment when I was out on the balcony with Kangin,” Eeteuk sighed as he left his spoon in his mouth and crossed his arms loosely about his torso, “I just wish things had gone better between us.”
“How could it have gone better? I think it went pretty well the way it was!” Shindong commented as he put his spoonful into his mouth,
“But-but he said no and… he got so angry,” Eeteuk argued,
Shindong gave him a slanted look, stabbing his spoon into the ice cream and cross his arms atop the table, “It was cruel of you to ask that of him, hyung! Did you really expect him to agree to being your best man?”
“Well, he IS my best friend-”
“He’s ALSO your ex-boyfriend,” Shindong interjected, “If you care for him at all you wouldn’t have asked him that,”
“I do love him,” Eeteuk defended hotly,
“But it’s not the way he loves you,” Shindong countered, “You KNOW hyung - EVERYONE knows that he still loves you.”
“Well if he loves me so much, shouldn’t he want me happy?” Eeteuk argued,
“It’s because he’s selfish that he won’t be your best man,” Shindong conceded before adding solemnly, “But it’s because he loves you that he didn’t punch you for asking.” Shindong took one last spoonful of ice cream before retreating to his bedroom, the spoon firmly in his mouth.
Eeteuk was left alone once again in the dark with his ice cream, but he pushed it away from him; he had suddenly lost his appetite.
Plans for the wedding suddenly began to be made. It was decided on a winter wedding, taking place at the end of that coming December. Suddenly, it seemed like more cameras were following Eeteuk and more strangers were coming up to him, congratulating him on the upcoming nuptials.
Before he even realized it, Eeteuk was spending every free minute with LiYa. They planned the wedding together with a wedding coordinator; did gift registry together at several shops; wrote up the guest lists - they made sure every detail of the wedding was decided between them to make it as personal as possible.
However, with all the time he was spending with LiYa, Eeteuk also realized he was spending less time just being together with his members; especially Kangin. It seemed ever since the night he announced his engagement, Eeteuk was unable to find a single moment alone with Kangin. At first, he felt it was for the best that they spend time apart, however as the wedding drew closer, he wanted to talk to Kangin more and more.
It was the night before Eeteuk’s wedding when Shindong realized the groom-to-be had disappeared. Startled and, without telling the others, he slipped out of the dorm and called Eeteuk’s cell phone. After demanding to know his whereabouts, Shindong rode the elevator to the roof where he found Eeteuk, sitting amongst the snow.
Sitting against the fenced ledge, Eeteuk had a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and a bottle of soju his hand.
“You don’t smoke,” Shindong stated matter-of-factly as he approached Eeteuk cautiously,
“I really don’t,” Eeteuk agreed, “But I’ve always heard it helps relax you and you know what?” He took out the cigarette from his mouth and stared at the half-finished stick, “They’re right!”
Shindong gave him a slanted look, all of Eeteuk’s words were slurred. He sat down next to Eeteuk, leaning back against the ledge, his shoulders being supported by the fencing, “You’re down right plastered, aren’t you?”
“I always wondered about why they say that… it’s not like I’m drywall or anything just because I down a few sips of alcohol,” Eeteuk wondered,
Shindong pried the soju bottle from his hand, “A few sips? The entire bottle’s gone!”
Eeteuk blinked as he took back the bottle. He peered through the opening as if he could see into it, “So it is! Oh well, helps keep away the cold!” He sighed forlornly as he threw the bottle. His throw turned into a push and the bottle ended up rolling across the roof, away from them, “I use to always drink with Kangin and now, I barely even see him.”
“He’s hurt, Eeteuk,” Shindong said solemnly,
“Well so am I!” Eeteuk exclaimed angrily, standing up; “I’m the one fu-fu-fucking getting married and he s-s-said no!”
“Well what do you expect? You asked him to be your best man!” Shindong countered as he stood up along side Eeteuk, ready to catch his swaying hyung;
“Then fine! I’ll just get married without him!” Eeteuk stammered as he turned to face the view from the roof. He hooked his fingers onto the protective fencing lining the roof’s ledges, “Who says I need… need him to get married?”
“I think you say that you need him to be there,” Shindong stated simply,
“And why the hell would I need that pe-pe-petulant kid?” Eeteuk demanded, his face red from the alcohol and exertion,
“Because despite what happens, you need him. Whether as a boyfriend, or just a friend, or even just him standing beside you - you need Kangin-sshi,” Shindong answered matter-of-factly as he turned to look out at the city; one hand holding onto the crossing wires of the fence, the other hand stuffed into his pocket.
“That’s bullshit!” Eeteuk exclaimed loudly,
Shindong gave him a sidelong glance, “Then why are you crying?”
Eeteuk blinked as he reached up with a gloved hand and was surprised to feel wetness seep through the material on his fingertips, “I… I don’t know.”
Shindong looked back out towards the city lights, “Now that you’re speaking normally again, can I assume you’re already starting to sober up?”
“Soju never effects me for long,” Eeteuk muttered quietly as his hands returned to the fence, “Shindong… I want Kangin there tomorrow.”
“I honestly don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Shindong answered simply, “But maybe it’s for the best he not come.”
“But he’s my best friend!” Eeteuk stated, surprised, “He has to be there!”
“But he’s also your ex-boyfriend,” Shindong repeated his argument from months ago, “It would be awkward for you and LiYa and it would kill him if he came.”
“It wouldn’t be awkward at all,” Eeteuk sighed as he leaned his forehead against the fencing, the metal feeling cool and relaxing against his burning hot forehead,
“How could it not be? What with your past with Kangin and all?” Shindong commented as if it were obvious. When Eeteuk said nothing for a few minutes, Shindong gasped, “You never told LiYa that you and Kangin were together!”
“It’s none of her business,” Eeteuk said simply,
“Are you ever going to tell her?” Shindong questioned,
“Married or not, what I had with Kangin is none of her business,” Eeteuk stated solidly,
“What kind of attitude is that towards your bride-to-be, Eeteuk-sshi?” Shindong asked hesitantly,
“The kind of attitude that is loyal - for once - to Kangin,” Eeteuk answered as he pushed away from the fence and turned his back on the city, leaning back against the fence. “I know I’m asking for a lot Shindong, I’m not stupid… but I want Kangin there.”
“Have you tried talking to him since you got engaged?” Shindong inquired,
Eeteuk nodded, “He’s avoiding me like the plague. I guess I can’t blame him but - AISH it’s just so frustrating! I’ve never gone this long without talking to him and… and just knowing that so much hostility lies between us makes me so mad!”
Shindong sighed as he finally turned away from the Seoul night lights and looked at Eeteuk, “Have you ever wondered if maybe you shouldn’t get married?”
“I’m getting married tomorrow - how can you ask me that!?” Eeteuk questioned,
“Well, because usually during the night before the big day, grooms fret over the person they’re getting married to. You, however, have only been worrying about the person you want as your best man,” Shindong stated matter-of-factly as he crossed his arms as a cold wind embraced them,
“Then doesn’t that mean it’s a good thing? That I don’t have doubts or cold feet about my wedding?” Eeteuk offered as a defence,
Shindong shrugged as they started heading back inside, “Maybe it means that. Or maybe it means that there’s someone other than LiYa who occupies your mind first and foremost.”
“That’s… that’s…” Eeteuk trailed off, not knowing how to argue; not knowing if he was able to argue.
Shindong paused, one hand on the door handle. He looked back at Eeteuk, his eyes serious and sincere, “What are you going to do about tomorrow if Kangin doesn’t show up?”
Eeteuk stared back at Shindong, “If it comes to the point where I’m at the alter, about to get married and Kangin still isn’t there - will you be my best man?”
Shindong regarded Eeteuk for a minute before nodding solemnly, “If that’s what you want, but I’m not standing as a replacement; I’m merely saving his place for him.” He opened the door and, together with Eeteuk, re-entered the warmth of the apartment building.
The next morning could not be described as chaotic; it was beyond chaos. However, as everyone seemed to be moving fast and always busy around him, Eeteuk felt himself drifting through the motions of getting ready for the wedding. All the preparations that morning such as dressing in his suit, getting his hair done - all the way to getting to the church seemed suffocating to Eeteuk. All that he had been planning for, waiting for was finally happening and it surrounded him completely.
As he waited for the ceremony to begin, he continuously stepped out of the church into the cold winter morning to breathe. Just breathe. And as the cold air filled his lungs, he felt his body relax until he retreated back into the church and the realization he was getting married hit him once more.
Pacing in the room set for the groom, Eeteuk walked a circle in the room, some of his members with him, “He’s not here - why isn’t he here!?” Eeteuk demanded as he shook Kyuhyun by the shoulders.
Kyuhyun opened his mouth to answer when Eeteuk threw up his arms into the air out of frustration, “Of course I know why he’s not here!” He replied as he continued his pacing. Suddenly he stopped again, once again grabbing Kyuhyun by the shoulders, “But why isn’t he here?”
Kyuhyun made to answer when Shiwon placed a hand on Eeteuk’s shoulder, “Hyung, it’s time for you to head up to the altar.”
Eeteuk released his hold on Kyuhyun and looked past Shiwon to the door where the rest of his members poked their heads through, smiling at him encouragingly. Taking a deep, steadying breath, Eeteuk nodded as he followed the others out to the lobby of the church. Two double doors were open, giving a preview into the church, up the aisle and all the way to the altar where the priest waited.
Eeteuk looked back at his eleven Super Junior members, “It’s time,” He offered them a smile before turning his back to them, preparing to head to the front of the church.
“Wait, hyung!” Shindong said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Eeteuk looked back over his shoulder to where Shindong and the others were staring. Through the glass front doors of the church, Eeteuk saw the wintered city outside; he also saw a familiar person running up the church steps dressed in a black suit. As he burst through the doors, closing them behind him, Kangin brushed off the snow that had swirled about him as he came from the taxi to the church lobby.
Eeteuk, now turned completely to face him, watched in silent surprise as Kangin walked up to him. Shindong smiled knowingly as his hand dropped from Eeteuk’s shoulder and he stepped back. Eeteuk stammered, “Youngwoon…”
Kangin offered a small smile, “You can’t get married without your best man.”
(For the sequel: Remains)