theme: oo2. Christmas.
It was the first week of December and Super Junior was still running high on their 3rd year anniversary from the beginning of November. In commemoration of their anniversary, the management decided to agree on giving them a longer holiday break that Christmas. Usually, the thirteen members of Super Junior were given a three day reprieve for December, the 24th to the 26th. This year, however, they were given an extended holiday from their otherwise, packed and busy schedules: two weeks.
Such a holiday was almost unheard of in the entertainment industry, with radio shows, variety shows, performances, studio time, rehearsals - to name a few. To say the members were ecstatic would be a grave underestimation.
In one of the dorms, it seemed like the phone was never on the hook, each member in the dorm calling their respective families, informing them of the impending two week holiday.
Heechul left his room and headed over to the kitchen, making a quick sandwich as he went.
“Phone’s by the computer,” Eeteuk called out as he entered the dorm.
Heechul glanced towards the living room just as Ryeowook ran towards the computer and picked up the phone, “What’s going on?” Heechul asked, as he put away the ingredients for his sandwich and sat at the dining table, his sandwich on a plate before him,
“Eunhyuk was hogging the phone,” Eeteuk explained as Ryeowook began talking on the dorm phone,
“Why?” Heechul questioned before taking a hearty bite of his sandwich,
“He was making plans with Junsu-sshi to hang out when he comes home from Japan for their holiday,” Ryeowook said as he hung up the phone, “What about you Heechul-sshi? Are you going home for the holiday?”
“My parents are going to a wedding in America,” Heechul answered simply as he quickly devoured his sandwich,
“What about your sister?” Eeteuk asked, sitting on the couch, “Inyoung mentioned hoping to see Heejin this holiday.”
Heechul stood up and brought his plate to the sink, “Heejin wants to get a head-start on exams this holiday, so she’s staying in Seoul, but the most I’ll see her is on Christmas,” as he left the kitchen, he paused, noticing Eeteuk and Ryeowook’s stares, “What?”
“So… you’re spending the holiday alone?” Ryeowook asked hesitantly,
Heechul raised an eyebrow as he ran a hand through his short hair, “Not truly. I have other friends I can contact. And like I said, I’ll be with Heejin on Christmas.”
“Heechul-hyung,” Ryeowook began, standing up slowly from the computer,
“Ah,” Heechul glanced at his wristwatch, “I’m going to be late for rehearsal at the theatre. I’ll see you later,” he ran to the door, slipped on his winter coat and shoes and left swiftly.
As the door closed behind him, Ryeowook looked at the leader of Super Junior, “Hyung…”
“You know how Heechul is,” Eeteuk said as he picked up a remote and started watching the television, “When he’s ready to say something, he will. Until then we shouldn’t assume otherwise.”
“Ryeowook, trust me,” Eeteuk insisted, glancing away from the television and landing a hard gaze at his dongsaeng, “Fretting over Heechul when he doesn’t want you to will only annoy him.”
Ryeowook sighed heavily as he nodded and took a seat on the couch beside his hyung. His mind, however, was on a different hyung who had just left a few moments ago.
The second week of December, Ryeowook and Heechul were appearing on Eeteuk and Eunhyuk’s radio show. Throughout the show, Ryeowook who sat beside Eunhyuk kept glancing at Heechul who sat beside Eeteuk. Finally, during a commercial, Heechul turned his chair until he was completely facing his dongsaeng,
“Okay Ryeowook, what is it?” Heechul asked, almost annoyed.
“Are you still not doing anything for the break?” Ryeowook asked hesitantly,
Heechul raised a suspicious eyebrow, “I told you already, I’ll be with Heejin at some point.”
“But that’s one day out of a two week holiday,” Ryeowook protested.
During their conversation, Eunhyuk and Eeteuk looked up from their notes and laptop respectively, curiously listening to the scene taking place before them,
“I told you it’s fine-”
“But it’s not!” Ryeowook argued firmly, eyes narrowed.
Heechul was taken aback, along with the other two Super Junior members present. Ryeowook was hardly ever extroverted, especially towards his hyungs.
“It’s NOT fine,” Ryeowook repeated with emphasis, “It’s one of the times of the year when a person shouldn’t be alone and you’re alone for 13 out of 14 days during that time and -”
“What do you expect me to do!?” Heechul challenged, crossing his arms loosely about his torso, “Force my sister to NOT study for her exams? Beg my parents to come back to Korea to spend a few days with me? Even better - I should go fly over to America and join then.”
Over the years, Ryeowook learned how to not let Heechul’s sardonic tones affect him too much. But Ryeowook loved Christmas and the winter holiday. He loved spending time with his family during that time and the fact that Heechul was acting so nonchalant about being alone during that holiday season, bothered him beyond reason. So, hearing the sarcasm drip from each word out of Heechul’s mouth, Ryeowook got angry,
“How can you not care?” Ryeowook demanded, jumping to his feet, “How can you be unmoved by the fact you’re spending the holiday alone!?”
Heechul stared at him silently for a moment. Eunhyuk and Eeteuk gaped at Ryeowook, their gazes moving between the two,
“Ryeowook - he’s your hyung!” Eunhyuk reminded almost immediately, hearing the rare disrespect escaping the younger member,
Ryeowook stared - no, glared - at Heechul for a minute longer before dropping back down into his chair, his eyes dropping to the papers before him on the table.
“Ryeowook,” Eunhyuk urged, glancing at Heechul,
“Spend Christmas with me and my family and I’ll apologize for being rude,” Ryeowook said suddenly, locking eyes with Heechul,
“Ryeowook…” Heechul sighed exasperatedly,
“At least Christmas-eve dinner,” Ryeowook said, all hardness gone and an almost pleading tone in his words, “It’s all I ask.”
Before Heechul could answer, they were cued out of commercial. As Eunhyuk and Eeteuk continued the radio show, Ryeowook continued to stare at his hyung expectantly. As Heechul adjusted the headphones over his ears, he gave a curt nod before turning his attention away; but that nod was all Ryeowook had wanted and spent the rest of the time, smiling.
It was the third Monday of December and the last week before Super Junior began their two-week holiday. However, just after noon, the members of Super Junior were called to the S.M. Entertainment main building immediately for an impromptu meeting. As the members slowly filed in, they realized immediately that one of their own had been in the board room long before that call for a meeting was made.
Heechul sat near the head of the table with the manager hyungs. He sat nonchalantly, his arms crossed loosely, his eyes skimming over sheets of paper that sat before him. Upon seeing Heechul’s manner, the others took seats other than the seat right beside him. So, when Ryeowook and Yesung came last, coming from Yesung’s radio show, Ryeowook was the one who sat beside Heechul.
“So, this is your last week of schedule before your break,” One of the managers began, “We wanted to wish you all happy holidays in case we aren’t able to later this week.”
“Also,” another manager began, “We received some information today and after speaking with Heechul-sshi, we’ve called you all here today.”
Ryeowook glanced at Heechul who sat beside him. Although he had his arms crossed, Ryeowook saw his fisted hands, clenched so tight his knuckles were white.
“As you all remember, two years ago, Heechul got in an accident,” the second manager continued, “The doctors have been waiting for a time where Heechul can get the third and final surgery to remove the remaining five roads in his leg and this up-coming holiday seems to be the right time - for the surgeon team and for Heechul, himself.”
As if in disbelief, the other members looked at Heechul, but he merely gave a slight nod before turning his head slightly to look at the snowing sky through a window.
“When does it take place? When we all leave for the holiday?” Eeteuk spoke up, slipping into his role of leader,
“The twenty-fourth,” a third manager answered, checking his papers for reassurance, “Yes, so next Wednesday.”
After a few more words, the manager hyungs excused themselves, leaving the members to talk amongst themselves.
“Look, it’s not that big a deal,” Heechul said finally, turning in his chair to look at the other members. His eyes casually swept over the other twelve, “I’ve had surgeries before because of the accident, and this is just another one. Hopefully after this one, there won’t be any more - but it is NOT a big deal.”
“Then why would the managers call a meeting when you could’ve easily just told us?” Shindong asked from down the table,
“They were going to call this meeting anyways and I saw it as an opportunity to tell you all at the same time,” Heechul shrugged, “I’m telling you guys, it’s not a big-”
“So this means you’re spending the ENTIRE holiday alone,” Ryeowook interjected then, eyes narrowing slightly at his hyung,
Heechul rolled his eyes, “I already talked to my parents and Heejin. My sister will be with me before I go into surgery and she’ll be with me the next day as well. My parents will call as often as possible - really, it’s nothing different than what was going to happen without the surgery.”
“Ryeowook, just stop!” Heechul exclaimed, getting to his feet, his eyes bearing down on the younger member,
Heechul looked across the table to where Hankyung sat. Eyes narrowed, the Chinese member of Super Junior shook his head disapprovingly at his hyung. Heechul sighed heavily, running his fingers through his short black hair. He muttered his excuses and left the board room immediately.
Slowly, the other members left, when Ryeowook moved to leave, Hankyung called out to him, asking him to wait a moment. When they were finally alone, Hankyung approached the younger member,
“You’re upset,” Hankyung stated,
“Of course I am,” Ryeowook sighed, crossing his arms, “The holiday season is a time to spend with your family and the ones you love. Because of circumstances, Heechul can’t and he’s acting as if it’s nothing-”
“But maybe it’s nothing to him?” Hankyung suggested,
“But I don’t understand, why would anyone want to be alone during this time of year? Especially in a dorm alone?’ Ryeowook questioned,
“Ryeowook, you have to remember that Heechul isn’t you and you are not Heechul,” Hankyung said softly, sternly, “If he’s lonely - then he’s lonely. If he’s not, then he’s not. But depending on how he presents himself, if you keep contradicting him based on your beliefs it’s going to not only strain your relationship with Heechul, but it’s going to strain him as well.”
“I just… wanted to be a good dongsaeng,” Ryeowook muttered,
“And you have been,” Hankyung replied, “You have always been a good dongsaeng to us. Heechul knows you’re worried for him and he appreciates it. But if he doesn’t welcome any more than that, then don’t press him.”
Ryeowook nodded reluctantly. With a small smile from his hyung, Ryeowook and Hankyung left together.
That Saturday was approaching fast. The members of Super Junior finished up their schedules, satisfied and eager for their two week reprieve. As they finished up their schedules that Friday, twelve of them began packing and preparing to depart from their respective dorms the next day.
It was just after midnight on Saturday when Heechul left his room to get a dish of milk for Heebum who woke him up from his peaceful sleep. Having someone watch television late at night wasn’t a rare occurrence in the dorm that Heechul lived in. So, he was almost completely in the kitchen before he paused and looked back at the person watching television that evening,
“Ryeowook? What are you doing in our dorm?” Heechul questioned, startled,
“Yesung was packing earlier and in packing he managed to transfer all of his belongings from the closet to my bed,” Ryeowook replied as he lay on the couch, his eyes drooping already from fatigue,
“And the couch in your dorm?” Heechul inquired as he continued into the kitchen, pulling out a small sauce pan and the milk from the fridge,
“Yesung managed to cover his bed AND my bed with his stuff - so he’s on the couch,” Ryeowook yawned, “But, I actually wanted to talk to you hyung,”
Heechul paused in the archway that separated the kitchen from the living room, a small saucepan filled with milk in his hand, “Oh?”
“About the vacation-”
“Ryeowook,” Heechul began exasperatedly,
“Just, hear me out,” Ryeowook persisted, sitting up, “I talked to Hankyung-hyung and he made me realize that just because I think the holiday should be a certain way doesn’t mean you think the same thing. So, I’m going to back off.”
Heechul gave him a peculiar look before offering a small smile, “Thank you. Goodnight, Ryeowook,”
“Night hyung,” Ryeowook called after him as he laid back down on the couch.
Heechul paused outside his single room, his hand clenched around the doorknob, “Ryeowook?” He heard the soft reply from his dongsaeng, “For what it’s worth… our thinking isn’t so different.” And before Ryeowook could reply, Heechul slipped into his room, closing the door firmly behind him.
Heechul ran a hand through his hair as he sat in the hospital bed, dressed in a gown, awaiting for his surgery. It was scheduled for six in the evening on the twenty-fourth of December. Accounting for the anaesthesia, he knew he would wake up the next morning.
Heejin put down the phone in the room as she turned in her chair to face her brother, “Mom and Dad had to leave for the wedding. Are you sure you don’t want to talk to them before the surgery?”
Heechul shook his head, “Mom will just get sentimental and I don’t know how to talk to her when she does get like that. And if I talk to Dad and not Mom, she’ll get even more sentimental.”
Heejin laughed softly, knowingly as she tucked a strand of hair behind her hair, “You’ll be fine.”
“I never thought otherwise,” Heechul replied simply,
“Well, regardless, I’ll be here when you wake up from your surgery,” Heejin assured him, “The doctor said you should be out of it for quite a few hours, so it’ll be morning by then.”
When Heechul came to be collected for the surgery, he stopped the attendants before he was out of the room, “Heejin,”
She looked over at him as she swung her purse strap onto her shoulder, “Yes?”
“Would you… is it okay if you stayed the night with me?” Heechul asked hesitantly, almost awkwardly,
Heejin blinked, startled. She opened her mouth to reply but found her voice gone. So, instead, she nodded, offering an assuring smile to her younger brother. She watched in her shocked silence as her brother left.
Sunlight peaked through the closed blinds in Heechul’s hospital room. His eyes fluttered open as the grogginess slowly cleared from his mind. Lying in his bed, he slowly moved his head from side to side, absorbing his surroundings, remembering where he was and why.
The bathroom door opened and his sister appeared, pulling her hair back into a ponytail as she walked over to him. She sat in one of two chairs that sat by Heechul’s bedside,
“Morning sunshine,” She smiled at him as she crossed one knee over the other, “How do you feel?”
“Unbelievably tired,” Heechul murmured as he found the controller for his bed and slowly raised the upper half so he was almost sitting, “But starving.”
“Ah, that’s good to hear,” she gestured to the bedside table.
There on the table was a plastic bag filled with small plastic containers, “You hate cooking,” Heechul stated, disbelieving,
Heejin laughed, “I didn’t cook it. Ryeowook brought it in.”
“What?” Heechul gaped,
“Just after you left, Ryeowook came running in with that bag of food,” Heejin explained as she then gestured to the second chair beside her, “Then he stayed here all night.”
“But…” Heechul paused as the door opened and Ryeowook entered with two Styrofoam cups of coffee, “I don’t… understand.”
“I’ll let him explain,” Heejin said simply as she accepted the cup Ryeowook offered her, “I’m going to walk a bit and stretch my legs,” She explained as she got up and quickly excused herself.
Heechul watched quietly as Ryeowook placed his own cup on the table then took one of the other chairs. Finally he looked up at Heechul with a smile, “Morning, hyung.”
“Ryeowook, what are you doing here?” Heechul asked bluntly,
“You said you’d have Christmas eve dinner with my family,” Ryeowook answered, “Since I knew you couldn’t come, I thought I’d bring the dinner to you. My parents send their regards.”
“But… you knew I wouldn’t have been able to eat it… and you stayed,” Heechul gaped, still unable to wrap his mind around the situation,
“Still,” Ryeowook shrugged, “And besides, no one should be alone during the holidays. I know you said it wasn’t a big deal that everyone was going away for the holiday except for you, but it was a big deal for me. When we found out that you’d be in the hospital on Christmas, I knew I couldn’t just stay home and my family understands.”
Heechul listened intently and felt an odd clenching around his heart at his dongsaeng’s words. He felt a lump form in his throat and a stinging behind his eyes. He preoccupied himself by reaching over and getting the plastic bag from the bedside table, fighting the tears and hiding them from his dongsaeng. However, his gratefulness only doubled when he looked into the bag and saw the containers within. Atop each container held a taped on piece of paper that held the same greeting from Ryeowook’s parents, greeting Heechul and wishing him the best.
He swallowed hard and composed himself as best he can as he looked up and smiled at his dongsaeng, “Thank… Thank you.”
“Are you feeling well enough to take a ride in your wheelchair?” Ryeowook asked.
Heechul eyed the contraption on the other side of the room. He was to use it for a few weeks as his leg got used to being without the support of the rods. He nodded and Ryeowook brought it over, gingerly helping Heechul into it.
“Where are we going?” Heechul asked curiously, “You’re not kidnapping me, are you?”
Ryeowook let out a melodic laugh, “No, but since you’re only allowed two visitors at a time in your room, the others had to sleep in the waiting room.”
“Others?” Heechul questioned as Ryeowook pushed him out of the room,
“While you were in surgery, I called the others to tell them a status report of your surgery and when it was done and how I planned to stay here,” Ryeowook explained simply as they went down the hall, nearing the waiting room, “Before your surgery was done the others showed up, but the staff wouldn’t allow more than two in your room.”
Heechul felt his heart almost break at hearing of the actions of his members. As Ryeowook rolled him into the waiting room, half of the members still asleep, the others pacing around, he couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at his lips. He felt Ryeowook’s small hand clasp on his shoulder supportively.
Heechul reached for Ryeowook’s hand and as he pried it from his shoulder, held it firmly in his hand. Heechul pulled Ryeowook into a tentative embrace,
“Merry Christmas Ryeowook.”
Ryeowook shook his head as he broke the embrace as the others slowly surrounded them, “No - you, hyung - Merry Christmas.”