theme: o90. Clean.
He had snuck off for a smoke. Something he had done hundreds of times before, why did this time have to be so different? One minute he was searching his pockets for his lighter, the next he was being dragged into an alley.
A hand covered his mouth as he was shoved to the ground. It gripped painfully around his mouth, firmly pressing his head against the cold, hard cement. He felt someone straddle his hips and heard the spring of a switch knife be released. He struggled with all his strength against his assailant but when he felt the tip of the knife near his navel, he suddenly held still, lest he be cut. He held his breath, heard his heart beating in his ears as the knife was slowly dragged up his torso, cutting his shirt in two. When the blade broke contact, he felt a distinct sting run down his chest and stomach and he could feel the night’s cool breeze caress his skin.
The moment he heard the knife be pocket, he began to squirm again, this time with a newfound ferocity. He bucked his hips to get the person off of him, but to his horror it only stirred the man. He moved to punch the man only to feel the knife at his throat this time,
“Think that’s wise? Scream and I’ll kill you here and now.”
He held his breath again as he felt the metal press threateningly into his skin. With the knife against his throat, the man removed his hand from his mouth. Before he realized it, the man had tied a gag around his head, forcibly silencing any cries. With his other hand, the man grabbed his hands, one by one and tied them to his neck, forcing him to hold the knife against his own neck. If he tried to move his hands at all while they were tied, he could end up killing himself.
Free from having to hold the knife, the man leaned forward, cupping the side of his face,
“What a pretty bird I’ve caught today,” His breath was stale and smelt of hard alcohol.
He closed his eyes tightly, trying to distance himself from what was happening. He fought the urge to cringe as the man’s hands wandered about his body. He fought the scream that was suffocating him as he felt the man kiss his bared chest. He fought the bile that was rising into his mouth as he felt the man rub him through his jeans.
He clenched his eyes tighter when he felt the man fumble with the button and zipper of his jeans. Suddenly the weight of the man on top of him disappeared and his eyes opened to find out why. The man was being dragged away from him by another person who had their arm wrapped around the man’s neck, holding him captive.
“GUARDS!” The person yelled and two security guards from the building where he had escaped from to smoke a cigarette came running around the corner.
Once the man was with the guards, the other person came and knelt down beside him. First he released the cloth that was holding the knife and his hands to his neck.
“Heechul-sshi… I’m sorry I wasn’t with you,” he said quietly as he undid the cloth that was gagging him,
“Shindong,” Heechul breathed a sigh of relief as he wrapped his arms around his dongsaeng.
Immediately noticing Heechul’s ruined shirt, Shindong shrugged off his jacket and draped it around his shoulders, “It’s okay now… I’ve got you,” Shindong murmured as he slowly helped Heechul to his feet.
However, the moment he got up, Heechul turned around and, with a hand bracing him against the side of the alley, he began to cough up the contents of his stomach. When he straightened, wiping his mouth with the back of his arm, he stumbled and then all he saw was black.
When Heechul woke up, it was already morning and he was sitting in a hospital bed. He turned his head to the door opening. Shindong came in with a cup of coffee,
“Oh, you’re awake, do you want coffee?” Shindong offered but Heechul shook his head in silent reply, “The doctors say you’re free to go today. Gave you a clean bill of health and everything,” Shindong said conversationally as he sat down in the chair beside the bed.
Heechul stared at him, perplexed. Shindong was still wearing the clothes he had worn last night, but they weren’t ruffled as if he had been sleeping in them. His hair was still styled as it was yesterday, actually, Shindong looked the same as Heechul had last seen him. That is, except for the bags beneath his eyes; Shindong had not slept.
Heechul looked at him with worried eyes, but Shindong merely returned it with a small smile.
At noon, Heechul returned to the dorm accompanied by Shindong, only to find the other members were there waiting for him. In the hours following his return, Heechul walked about the dorm listlessly, as if in a trance. When the others were eating the lunch Hankyung had prepared, Heechul took a few bites so as to wipe the concern from the cooker’s face. When Donghae insisted that they watch a movie on the television together, Heechul sat with him on the couch just so that Donghae might smile again. And when Eeteuk came into his room and sat down on his bed beside him while reading a book, Heechul leaned his head on his shoulder as a way to hear Eeteuk habitually read his book in a low whisper.
After dinner, the others suggested things they could do, but Heechul excused himself, claiming fatigue. Wanting nothing but his comfort, the others watched as the one who was usually so outspoken, so flamboyant, quietly retreat to his bedroom.
It was close to midnight when Shindong stirred from his sleep. He got out of bed and quietly left the room, sure not to wake up his roommate, Hankyung and started towards the kitchen for a glass of water. However, he had taken a step when he realized that the bathroom light was on and the door just barely open. Swiftly and silently, Shindong padded over to the washroom, startled to find Heechul standing before the sink.
“What did you do to your hair!?” Shindong asked, bursting into the bathroom.
Startled, Heechul jumped away. However, Shindong’s gaze was on his hair. Before Heechul had gone to his room after dinner, his hair was thick and long, just an inch above his shoulders. Now it was short, uneven and - from the scissors that lay on the counter - had been hacked away.
“It was getting too long anyway,” Heechul interrupted as he returned to the sink and continued what he had been doing before being disrupted.
“If you say so… but you could’ve said that to the hair stylist instead of…” Shindong casually grabbed the scissors away from the counter and replaced them in their drawer, “doing it yourself…”
Shindong made to leave when he caught sight of red in the sink. He turned to look in and fought the urge to gasp when he saw it was blood. Heechul ran his hands beneath the stream of water as he scrubbed at his skin with a soap-covered face towel. However, he was scrubbing so hard that his skin was raw and red, bleeding in some parts.
“Heechul! Stop that!” Shindong pushed him away from the sink, grabbing the face towel from him, “What the hell are you doing!?” Shindong demanded as he shut off the faucet,
“I need to wash Shindong!” Heechul argued as he tried to push Shindong away from the sink, “If I don’t I won’t be clean again!”
“What?” Shindong asked, startled,
“I can still smell his breath…” Heechul slowly ran his hands protectively over his torso where, beneath his shirt a line of a scar ran from his collar to his navel. “I can still feel his hands…” Heechul raised his hands, staring at his trembling fingers that were now throbbing from the washing. “I can still hear… his voice…” Heechul slowly covered his hands with his shaking hands. He suddenly looked up at Shindong with wild eyes, “THAT’S WHY I NEED TO WASH!”
“I had… I had to cut my hair… my beautiful… beautiful…” He stood before the mirror, eyes transfixed as his hands went to his chopped hair, “That’s why he came after… it was too beautiful… and now I have to wash… and scrub him from my skin… my memory…” He tilted his head slightly as he regarded his own reflection, “If only I could… get rid…” He reached out gingerly with a hand towards the mirror. He traced his reflection with his fingertips, “That’s why he came…”
Shindong immediately pulled Heechul away from the mirror as the glass shattered and fell. He pulled Heechul to sit on the edge of the tub as he grabbed a small towel and wrapped it around Heechul’s now cut hand.
“Why did you punch the mirror?” Shindong questioned, biting back the scold in his tone,
“I can’t punch myself… so my reflection will have to suffice,” Heechul murmured dully.
Shindong knelt down in front of Heechul, “Hyung, you can’t possibly think that what happened… was your fault?”
“Who else can I blame?” Heechul questioned quietly, his eyes filled with tears as he stared down at Shindong.
Since Shindong had discovered him in the alley, Heechul hadn’t cried or broken down… until now. Shindong grabbed Heechul’s upper arms firmly and stared directly into his eyes, “Hyung, what happened was not your fault. That guy is to blame - not you! Do you hear me!? NOT YOU!”
Heechul’s bottom lip trembled and before anything else could be said or done, a cry escaped from his lips. Shindong pulled him down into his arms gently began to rock him, “It’s not your fault…” The declaration only caused Heechul to cry with a newfound strength. His body wracked with cries, he trembled violently in Shindong’s embrace.
Hearing Heechul’s crying and feeling his body shake only prompted Shindong to hold him tighter, protectively until he cried himself to sleep.
Pale morning sunlight streamed through the bedroom window and it is with the waking sun that Heechul awoke in his bed. Startled to find himself there, he realized immediately that Shindong had brought him there. Weakly, he pushed himself up and once he was sitting up in bed, he had to cover his mouth from screaming out in shock. Sleeping haphazardly on his bedroom floor were Eeteuk, Hankyung and Donghae.
Before Heechul could even smile at his dorm mates, his door slowly opened so as to not make any noise. Shindong slipped in, clad in his pyjamas and holding a cup of coffee. Heechul eyed him worriedly, noting that Shindong had red eyes and bags beneath them; he hadn’t gone back to sleep. However, Shindong merely replied with a small smile.
“They…” Heechul couldn’t even ask about the members sleeping on his floor, so he opted to just gesturing towards them.
“Well, there would be eight more, but your floor got crowded enough with just those three, so the others are sleeping in the living room,” Shindong explained as he gingerly came onto his bed and sat down against the wall, perpendicular to Heechul.
Heechul shifted so he was beside Shindong against the wall, “But…why?”
“Well, those three woke up while we were still in the bathroom. The others because it doesn’t take that long to make a few phone calls,” Shindong answered a smile on his lips.
Heechul let out a small sigh of contentment as he leaned his head on Shindong’s shoulder.
“Oh, I got this for you,” Shindong reached into his pocket and handed over a small bar of soap to Heechul, “In case you ever feel you need it.”
Heechul stared down at the soap in his hand before easily tossing it into the trashcan beside his bed. He leaned his head against his dongsaeng’s shoulder and took his cup of coffee. As Shindong watched his hyung slowly sip the hot coffee, he couldn’t help but smile. It would take time, but he would be okay again.