theme: 100. Regrets.
pair: WC [Eeteuk/Kangin]
(Sequel to My Love, Remains, and With You.)
It had been two years since Super Junior did anything. Their subgroup, Super Junior-M continued their promotions in order to help boost Zhoumi and Henry’s popularity, but the other members no longer participated in any performances; at best, Kibum and Heechul continued their acting roles and some of the others continued on with their radio shows and occasional variety show appearances. When Kangin had dropped into the background to enter the army for the mandatory two years, the rest of Super Junior decided to put all group activities on hold until he returned.
It was early January when whispers began to be spread. Suddenly, one or two photos were being published in entertainment newspapers and magazines - capturing a blurred face or an elbow; all claiming to be of Kangin back from the army. What no one knew was that Kangin had returned in mid-December, and S.M. Entertainment had decided on a comeback concert in the Seoul Olympic Stadium.
For the first time in two years, the thirteen members of Super Junior were once again reunited in a board room in S.M. Entertainment’s main building. Before the meeting with their managers began, Kangin greeted the members one by one, each more joyous than the last to see him again; all but one. Eeteuk entered the board room with the others and went straight to the large desk in the middle of the room, taking a seat.
When the managers entered, greeting Kangin for his return, the meeting began to be set into motion, planning their comeback performance.
“You must be happy he’s back,” Shindong muttered quietly as he sat on one side of Eeteuk, Kyuhyun on the other side of him.
“Happy is not the word I’d choose… what about you? Are you telling me you’re not mad that he left?” Eeteuk challenged quietly, his arms crossed loosely about his torso a he casually glanced at the notes the managers had given them all.
“I was- we all were, that can’t be denied,” Shindong answered after a moment, “and he’ll answer to us when the time comes, but we couldn’t blame him.” He paused again to glance furtively at Eeteuk, “Anyone of us can’t deny the strength it took him to endure your wedding while standing beside you as you said your vows; so how can we condemn him for running away afterwards? I’m sure… if you asked the others that had we been in the same situation, we would have enlisted the moment you announced your engagement.”
Eeteuk glanced across and up the table where Kangin sat between Sungmin and Kibum, “Do… do you guys hate me for chasing Kangin away?” He asked quietly just as he realized he was staring directly into Kangin’s eyes. Drawn immediately into the other’s gaze, Eeteuk couldn’t look away until suddenly Kangin looked away and began talking to Kibum. Eeteuk looked back down to his notes and sighed, “For getting married?”
“Why would you even ask that?” Kyuhyun interjected as he leaned an elbow on the table and held his chin in his hand, keeping his back to Eeteuk as he spoke from the corner of his mouth; “Hyung, whatever makes you happy will make us happy. Sure, the circumstances could’ve been WAY better… but none of us can deny how happy you looked on your wedding day.”
“Shindong…Kyuhyun… I. I want to talk to Kangin,” Eeteuk said quietly, “I have to talk to him.”
“Then talk to him,” Shindong stated simply,
“I can’t,” Eeteuk grounded out, clenching his fists until his knuckles whitened, “I’m still angry.”
The conversation amongst the three stopped as the managers began to go into depth of the comeback performance. Occasionally, Kyuhyun would casually look over his shoulder past Eeteuk and Shindong. In return, Shindong would merely nod his head as if reading Kyuhyun’s thoughts.
Finally, Kyuhyun broke the silence, leaning back in his chair and saying quietly, “No offence hyung… but you’re the last person with the right to be angry.”
Eeteuk blinked, staring at Kyuhyun. He looked over at Shindong who stared at him hard, nodding his head in silent agreement. He stammered, “I’m… I’m sorry.”
“We’re not the ones you should be saying that to,” Shindong replied simply.
When the meeting was over and the managers all left, the members turned in their chairs to talk to Kangin again, but he was staring at Eeteuk. Eeteuk could tell what Kangin was trying to say with his eyes - for him to stay - but Eeteuk couldn’t. So, he broke eye contact with his dongsaeng, excused himself and slipped out of the board room before anyone - Kangin included - could do anything. The moment he closed the door behind him, Eeteuk leaned back against it, sighing heavily. With Super Junior making a comeback performance, he couldn’t avoid Kangin anymore, but he’d allow himself one more time. Just once more.
That evening, Eeteuk visited the dorm he used to live in with some of the other members. After Hankyung had fed them his infamous Beijing fried rice, and after the others had gone to sleep, Eeteuk sat at the dining table with Shindong, a pot of tea between them.
Shindong took a long sip of his cup of tea, before putting it down on the table, crossing his arms over his chest; “Something’s been bothering you all night.”
“Remember when you said how no one can deny how happy I looked on my wedding day?” Eeteuk asked quietly, his cup cradled between his hands on the table top.
“Yes,” Shindong replied as he reached out and drank more of his tea,
“That had nothing to do with the girl I was about to marry,” Eeteuk confessed as he idly began to turn the cup between his hands with his thumbs,
“What?” Shindong sat up straighter, nearly choking on his tea,
“But… but it had everything to do with the man who was my best man,” Eeteuk finished, his voice barely above a whisper at the end,
“Eeteuk-sshi that’s not right! If you realized on your wedding day that you weren’t happy because of LiYa but because of Kangin, you shouldn’t have gotten married!” Shindong exclaimed,
“I know that!” Eeteuk argued,
“I don’t think you do because you still married LiYa!” Shindong countered, jumping to his feet;
“I made a mistake,” Eeteuk grounded out, gripping his cup until his fingers were white from the exertion, “I know that now… and for two years I’ve been paying for my mistakes.”
Shindong walked over to the balcony doors and stared out at the night sky. After a few moments, he walked back, arms crossed, “What are you going to do?”
“I need to talk to Kangin,” Eeteuk said simply, “It’s been two years - damn it, even two seconds away from him is more than I can handle.”
“Why didn’t you say any of this before?” Eeteuk and Shindong jumped at the third voice. They were startled to find Donghae, Heechul and Hankyung standing in the archway that connected the living room to the hallway.
Heechul, who had spoken, padded over to the table and taken Shindong’s empty seat. He pulled his frilly pink bathrobe tighter around him as he explained, “Next time, yell quieter… So, why didn’t you say any of this before? Perhaps… oh I don’t know - the time around your wedding?”
“It’s… not easy admitting to yourself that you’re wrong,” Eeteuk replied quietly as Hankyung and Donghae came to sit at the table too. “It’s not easy facing the mistakes you’ve made.”
“So… we can assume you regret getting married?” Donghae asked sleepily as he sat beside Eeteuk. He crossed his arms on the table and leaned his cheek atop his arms,
“Don’t get me wrong… I did love LiYa,” Eeteuk defended,
“Not enough, though,” Hankyung interjected,
Eeteuk nodded sadly, “Not nearly enough. I loved her, but not as much as I could have considering I asked her to marry me…” He sighed, taking a small sip of his tea; “And not as much as I should have considering I married her.”
“Had we known you weren’t completely happy about getting married, we wouldn’t have let you gone through with it,” Shindong stated, leaning a hip against the table as he face Eeteuk,
Eeteuk stared at his cup, not having the strength to look at his members, his friends… his family; “I have regretted… every day since the day Kangin and I broke up,”
“That’s almost three years ago,” Hankyung stated,
“And those three years have been hell,” Eeteuk added dully, no words ever being close to explaining the void that had become a permanent fixture in his chest for the past three years.
“Then tell him that!” Heechul exclaimed suddenly, “Do you know how lucky you are to have not one, but two people love you? You leave one then lead the other one on.”
“I didn’t lead her-” Heechul gave him a slanted look and Eeteuk conceded, “So I did…”
“Don’t come to us telling us all your confessions and all your regrets, Eeteuk,” Heechul replied sternly, “The one person who you SHOULD be telling this to is finally back after two years!” Heechul got to his feet, exasperated with the leader,
“I’m… I’m scared to,” Eeteuk’s words came out, barely over a whisper and cracking at the end,
“You’re going to have to stop being scared,” Donghae said simply as he sat up straight, crossing his arms loosely about his torso, “If you ever want to get Kangin back-”
“Which you do,” Hankyung interjected,
“Even as just a friend-”
“Which is possible,” Hankyung added,
“Then you’re going to have to stop being scared, hyung, and talk to Kangin,” Donghae finished, Hankyung nodded in silent agreement.
“What… what do I say?” Eeteuk stammered, chewing on his bottom lip,
“Everything you’ve told us,” Shindong said easily, “It seems you’ve been holding onto the truth for the past three years… no time like the present to let it all out now.”
When Eeteuk grew silent, Heechul nodded his head, “Now that it’s all been settled, I’m going back to sleep.”
“What… what if he doesn’t love me anymore?” Eeteuk’s question floated through the quiet dorm, even reaching Heechul as he stood outside his bedroom door.
Hankyung, Donghae and Shindong looked at one another at a loss for words. Heechul, his hand gripping the doorknob tightly, took a steadying breath before stating his thoughts, “Then you have nothing left to lose from your confession,” he said simply, his words free of false hopes.
As silence descended upon the five Super Junior members once more, Heechul escaped to his room. Slowly, Hankyung and Donghae also followed suit, retreating to their own respective rooms. Finally, Shindong and Eeteuk were alone once more.
“Shindong…” Eeteuk stared up at his dongsaeng.
Shindong offered him a small smile, placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it comfortingly. Then, he too, disappeared to his room.
The next morning, Eeteuk woke up to the sounds of everyone getting ready for the day.
“If you’re going to sleep over, at least sleep somewhere comfortable,” Heechul scolded gently as he walked into the kitchen,
“Yeah hyung, your bed’s still in my room,” Donghae called from the bathroom, his toothbrush in his mouth.
Eeteuk rubbed the sleepiness from his eyes as the others hustled about him, showering, getting changed and eating quick bites of the breakfast Hankyung prepared. He groggily stood up from his chair where he had fallen asleep and stretched out his limbs,
“Do you have a schedule today?” Shindong asked as he came out of his room,
“No, but it’s Wednesday and I always take JaeIn with me in the mornings,” Eeteuk explained as he checked his cell phone for missed calls or messages, “Like, for bonding time since she’s always with her mother.” He pocketed his phone and said his goodbyes, leaving the dorm.
It was mid-morning when Eeteuk found himself walking through the winter-laden park, a little toddler walking precariously just a few steps ahead of him, a red ball in her mitten-clad hands. He watched her affectionately when she dropped her ball and accidentally kicked it further away. Before he realized it, the little tyke was off after the ball in a haphazard dash.
“JaeIn! JaeIn!” He began running after her, “Goodness when did you learn to run so fast!” He was relieved when she came to a stop before someone who had stopped the ball for her. He slumped forward, hands on his knees as he caught his breath, “Thanks for stopping her. She just learned to walk a month ago and already she’s running and chasing balls…” Eeteuk looked towards the person who was kneeling before JaeIn. Just like that, his breath was gone again as he found himself face-to-face with Kangin. He straightened immediately, gasping, “Youngwoon…”
Eeteuk stared at Kangin for a moment, all thoughts gone from his mind besides the one that reminded him that Kangin was back. His Youngwoon was back.
Suddenly, Kangin smiled and Eeteuk felt his heart melt, “Your daughter is beautiful,” he said as he got to his feet,
Eeteuk, suddenly remembering there was more in the world than just him and Kangin, looked down to find JaeIn hugging the ball to her chest, “Yeah she is…”
Kangin pulled up the hood of his sweater as a cold wind blew past them. He patted JaeIn’s small head, “I’ll see you later, hyung.”
“Wait!” Eeteuk called after him as he started running off, but Kangin continued on.
Eeteuk called after him with a strength he didn’t feel, with an urgency he had lost so long ago. He had felt his heart beat again when he saw Kangin, felt the weight in his chest be relieved when Kangin smiled and spoke. However, it was for a minute only before an ice cold grip surrounded his heart. So, he called after Kangin, but didn’t run after him, because that’s all he ever knew how to do. Because he was scared that he was being left behind again.
“Wait…” Eeteuk muttered, his lips trembling from more than just the cold wintry day. He watched Kangin’s retreating back. Suddenly, he felt a small bit of warmth clasp about his hand, tugging on him. Pulled from his reverie, he gazed down at the little toddler at his side. In one smooth swoop, he picked her up in his arms as he looked back to where Kangin was, continuing on down the path.
Holding JaeIn in his arms, he watched as Kangin run off, all the while muttering, “She is beautiful, but she’s not my daughter. She’s my niece.”
(For the sequel & final part: Of Forever)