theme: oo8. Locket.
“Bathroom’s free,” Heechul called out as he padded out of it, dressed for an evening out.
Shindong, who had been waiting for the bathroom so he could shower and then him and Sungmin could go catch a movie with some of the other Super Junior members.
“Hey Min,” Heechul greeted casually as he walked into the kitchen.
Sungmin, who was waiting on the couch while watching television, replied absent-mindedly, “Big date?”
“Are any of them ever big?” Heechul asked nonchalantly as he opened the fridge to grab a can of pop,
“Is it MinAh?” Sungmin asked as he picked up the remote and changed the channel,
“Again?” Heechul scoffed before taking a hearty sip from the can, “No, no… tonight it’s…” he paused a moment as he pulled his cell phone out of his pants’ pocket. He opened it and then read off the screen, “EunHwa.”
Sungmin rolled his eyes, “Hyung, it would help for you to remember her name for the date.”
Heechul slipped his phone back in his pocket as he downed the rest of his drink and tossed the can into the garbage, “I think I can manage three hours without saying her name.”
Sungmin gave him a slanted look,
“I’ve managed before,” Heechul threw him a smirk before crossing the living room to the balcony doors.
Sungmin watched him silently as he slipped onto the balcony, the door sliding close behind him. He wasn’t there every time his hyung went on a date, but whenever he happened to be in that dorm, he always saw this ritual.
Before leaving on a date, Heechul would always slip out onto the balcony. Out there, he would pull out a gold-plated locket out of his pocket. Leaning his elbows on the railing he would just stare at the locket. Once or twice, Sungmin had caught Heechul opening the locket before pocketing it once more.
He watched now as Heechul opened the small golden locket. Suddenly, Heechul jerked, grabbing his phone from his pocket. However, as he did so, he lost his grasp on the thin chain of the necklace and it slipped from his fingers.
“I said I’ll call you back!” Heechul growled into the phone as he snapped it close and threw it towards the computer chair.
Sungmin knew the locket must mean something to Heechul, so when his hyung left the dorm, he followed in an attempt to help him.
“What does it look like?” Sungmin asked as they scourged the front steps of the apartment building where one of the Super Junior dorms was located.
“It’s a small heart-shaped locket,” Heechul replied as he began to examine the cracks in the sidewalk, “It’s on a thin chain… oh, and the locket opens.”
After searching for nearly half an hour, Heechul finally plopped down on the front steps and sighed heavily, running his fingers through his short, black hair, “I can’t believe I lost it… all these years and I lost it.”
“What’s so important about that locket?” Sungmin asked tentatively as he plopped down on the steps beside him,
“Back in my home town, there was this girl and she was the first girl I ever truly liked,” Heechul explained with a soft sigh, “Her name was RaeMi and that locket was for her.”
Sungmin, with wide eyes gaped at his hyung, “What happened? How come you never gave it to her?”
Heechul said nothing for a moment then cleared his throat and replied, “She liked someone else… So, why bother, right?”
“Is that why you never get serious in a relationship anymore?” Sungmin asked, the words out of his mouth before he could stop them.
“What are you talking about?” Heechul shot him a suspicious look,
Sungmin hadn’t meant to say anything. However, he did say his thoughts and knew there was no turning back. He sighed heavily to steady himself then trudged on, “C’mon hyung, how many dates have you gone on in the past month alone? You never stay in a relationship longer than a week-”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Heechul looked away, crossing his arms atop his knees,
“Hyung - the number of your dates must rival the numbers of Cassiopeia and Elves put together,” Sungmin stated. Heechul said nothing, ignoring him; “Heck, I could even add VIP and Triple S while I’m at it.”
Heechul stood to leave but Sungmin stood with him. He placed a hand on Heechul’s arm to stop him. He sighed softly, “Hyung, just talk to me. You were hurt, weren’t you? You liked RaeMi but she hurt you. Now you won’t let anyone else get close to you because that means they’d get the chance to hurt you too.”
Heechul shook off Sungmin’s hand and threw a dark look his way, “You know NOTHING.” Heechul hissed before heading towards the street and flagging down a taxicab.
Sungmin watched silently as Heechul hopped into a taxi, pulling out his phone as the car pulled away from the curb.
That evening, Sungmin returned to the other dorm, Hankyung promising to teach him the secret to his famous Beijing fried rice. As Hankyung stirred the rice in his wok, Sungmin leaned against the counter adjacent to him, watching intently.
“Heechul not home from his date?” Sungmin asked casually,
“No, he called earlier and said after his date he was going to go have a drink with some of his friends,” Hankyung replied, “Can you grab me the butter and pepper?”
When Sungmin placed both requests on the counter beside the stove, he leaned back against his piece of counter, “Hyung, have you ever noticed Heechul-sshi’s… ritual before his dates?”
“You mean the locket?” Hankyung asked as he quickly crossed the kitchen to grab a spoon then returned to the stove, “What of it?”
“Today Heechul was out on the balcony and then dropped the locket,” Sungmin explained, crossing his arms loosely about his torso,
Hankyung sighed heavily, “Then I hope for Heechul’s sake, he finds the locket.”
Sungmin raised a curious eyebrow, confused, “Why? He’s just keeping it to remind himself of a past wounded heart…” He chewed on his bottom lip a moment before adding tentatively, “Isn’t he?”
Hankyung turned his head enough to look at Sungmin directly, “That’s not why he keeps it.”
“But he told me about RaeMi… and how the locket was for her,” Sungmin stammered,
“It was, but he doesn’t keep it because he was hurt; he keeps it because he’s guilty,” Hankyung replied as he motioned towards the butter.
Sungmin picked up the spoon Hankyung had gotten earlier and threw some butter into the wok, “What do you mean… guilty?”
Hankyung stirred the rice for a few, quite moments before finally replying, “RaeMi died.”
Sungmin felt his jaw drop immediately and was so startled that he had to fall back against the counter, “But… when?”
“When he was going to give her the locket,” Hankyung answered, “The reason Heechul never gave the locket to RaeMi was because she died before he could.”
“You mean… you mean it wasn’t because she liked someone else? Because he was heart broken?”
“Oh… he was heart broken,” Hankyung sighed as he grabbed the pepper and sprinkled some amongst his rice, “But not because of that. He and RaeMi were going to meet up after school one day so he could give her the locket, but on the way to their meeting place, RaeMi was involved in a hit and run… she… she died on the way to the hospital.”
Instinctively, Sungmin hand went up to his mouth, holding in the gasp that wanted to escape.
“Heechul never got to give the locket to RaeMi and more importantly, never forgave himself because RaeMi was going to meet him,” Hankyung explained as he crossed the kitchen for more spices, setting them on the counter beside the stove, “He still thinks it’s his fault.”
“Why did Heechul lie to me?” Sungmin asked quietly as he went and grabbed a serving bowl for the rice,
“He never told anyone,” Hankyung answered simply as he turned off the stove’s flame but continued to stir the rice, “He doesn’t like talking about it, let alone remembering it… And yet he lets himself remember it just before he goes out on one of his dates.”
“Then how do you know all of this if he didn’t tell you?” Sungmin asked as he brought the bowl over to Hankyung,
“I went with him to his hometown once and one morning he had disappeared. His sister, Heejin brought me to the cemetery and at that point, he had no other choice but to tell me the truth,” Hankyung said as he began to pour the contents of his wok into the serving bowl. Once all the rice was in the bowl, he placed the wok back on the stove to cool and then crossed his arms casually, “What do you think of the locket now?”
Sungmin chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. He had been wrong, terribly so, about his hyung. He had thought Heechul selfish and scared, but he was opposite of either of those things. Sungmin’s arms tightened around himself, “I was wrong, hyung… so, so wrong.”
“Yes,” Hankyung nodded simply, “But you’re saying it to the wrong person.”
The next morning, Heechul felt himself drifting out of sleep. He lay in bed a few moments, rubbing his eyes. He drank often enough - not to rival Kangin, of course - but he hadn’t gotten drunk in some time. However, considering the circumstances, he thought it reason enough to down more than just a few beers.
Legs feeling like lead, he swung them over the edge of his bed and slowly rose to his full height, stretching out his limbs as he did so. He glanced towards his alarm clock on his bedside table to check the time and was startled to find something catching the light on his table. There beside his alarm clock was the locket.
He snatched it from the table and bolted from his room. He walked out to the living room in an attempt to find someone - anyone - who could answer his questions. He found Sungmin fast asleep on the couch. His hand tightened around the locket - if that brat had found the locket earlier and just said nothing to get the story of RaeMi out of him he would…
“Don’t wake him up,”
Heechul swung around from the couch in time to see Hankyung walking out of the kitchen with a cup of coffee. He plopped down at the dining table and yawned deeply,
“Sungmin kept the locket from me,” Heechul hissed quietly,
Hankyung shook his head as he took a swig of his coffee, “Sungmin stayed up all night looking for the locket,” Hankyung corrected as he put the mug back on the table, “I was with him all night holding a flashlight for him… oddly enough, Sungmin wouldn’t help me look, though.”
Stunned, Heechul walked over to the dining table and slipped onto a chair, dropping the locket onto the table before him. He stared at the little gold heart as it caught rays of morning light, “Do you think it’s time I throw away the locket, Hankyung? It’s been years and… it caused so much trouble for Sungmin and you…”
“If you’re ready to get rid of the locket, then I’m glad that you’re ready to let go of the guilt you associate with that necklace,” Hankyung said. He paused to drink more coffee, his body aching for his bed; “But I think because Sungmin went through so much for something you’ve held so close all these years… I think you should keep it, so long as it no longer symbolize your guilt, but the love you had for a girl years ago.”
“And the love of a dongsaeng,” Heechul added softly, glancing over his shoulder at the sleeping Sungmin.
He sighed heavily as he tucked the locket into his pyjama pants’ pocket and padded over to the couch. He raised his foot to the couch, prodding Sungmin with his toes, “Sungmin-sshi, wake up.” He wiggled his toes against Sungmin’s ribs, “Go sleep in my room.”
Sungmin stirred from the insistent poking in his ribs, “Whyyyyyy?” He yawned as he slowly sat up, his hands swatting away Heechul’s foot,
“Because I’m awake now and don’t need my bed. And maybe once in awhile I like to bestow such a rare chance on the simpletons of my life,” Heechul said with more hauteur than a queen, “So go.”
“Just do it,” Heechul snapped as he turned on his heel and returned to the dining table, standing beside Hankyung, who had laid his head down on the tabletop. One hand on the back of Hankyung’s chair, the other hand stuffed in his pocket,
Sungmin blinked confusedly as Heechul took a slow sip from Hankyung’s coffee mug. Slowly, Sungmin got up from the couch and trudged on to his hyung’s vacated room, “Thanks hyung,” he called sleepily behind him as he disappeared into the room.
Heechul’s fingers clasped around the cool metal of the locket within his pocket as he whispered his own word of thanks.