(Last story of Control; part of the Brotherhood series)
“I wasn’t able to save you that night,” AhMae said quietly as she paced back and forth in the dimly lit bedroom of her own house. In her arms, she held YooMae against her shoulder, having to put the baby back to sleep after she had abruptly awoken just moments ago, “And if I could save Kangin from any more pain, I would… but… I don’t know if I can do this.”
She walked back and forth, gently rocking the baby. It was late into the night and she had to get up early in the morning to bring YooMae back to the hospital before heading to the university. After Kangin had made his request, he had returned back to the basement without another word. When she was leaving the house, she was startled to find Donghae sitting halfway down the stairs that led to the upper floor. They said nothing to each other, but she could tell by the look in his eyes that he had heard everything.
“You never asked it of me,” She continued, occasionally glancing at the ceiling, “And none of them had asked it of me… until now.” She sighed heavily, “It’s become such a big part of him, I’m scared to take it away from him. I’m scared if I take it away I won’t be able to give it back.”
She paused by a window that looked across the side of the house to the Brotherhood’s home. Her eyes swept over quiet house, not a single light could be seen. Leaning a shoulder against the cool windowpane, she gazed up at the night sky,
“What I would give to have you back,” She sighed heavily, “You and your husband left a big task for me.” She let her eyelids slide close as she gently pressed her lips on the crown of the baby’s head, “I’m scared to take away his last bond to you, unni… He doesn’t know what he’s giving up… but if it stops him from hurting…”
Silently, she turned away from the window and the house where her beloved nephews lived.
Quietly, she retracted her hands from the crown of his head. She crossed her arms loosely as she turned away, “You… you might feel a bit weird for a bit, but that’s no excuse to miss class tomorrow,” Aunt AhMae stated, trying to force a calm into her voice. She cleared her throat, “I’ll… go start dinner.”
With that, she briskly walked up the stairs and disappeared from the basement. Kangin sat on one of the couches in his basement, his gaze glued to the opposite wall. Behind him, Kyuhyun sat on his bed, his back against the head board while Donghae sat on the bottom steps of the staircase. Kangin had demanded they leave when they aunt came to the basement, but they refused. Since the districts ended, Kangin hadn’t spoken to them, not even when Donghae told him he knew of the decision.
They all sat in silence, not sure what to say. Was there anything to say?
Kangin sat back in the couch, his hands loosely clasped in his lap. He felt it almost immediately. It was so complete, so palpable a force, he could almost call the feeling tangible. In ways he couldn’t comprehend, he felt lighter as if a burden had been lifted. However, he also felt something else, something much worse. He felt an emptiness inside him. He felt as if his body had dropped slightly in temperature, as if he had lost some vital organ or limb. It made him feel as if there were some deep abyss within him and nothing could fill it. Nothing, that is, except for what had just been sealed.
Their aunt’s power of control was not to be taken lightly. It did not move in half-measures but moved in all or nothing. It could not partially contain a power, but overtook it completely or not at all. Kangin knew of the ramifications of such power; knew what it meant for his own power.
He leaned his head against the back of the couch and draped an arm over his eyes. He thought back to when his parents were still alive, thought of the last time he felt his mother’s arms around him. He trembled when he couldn’t remember the warmth of those arms. He felt his heart rise into his throat when he couldn’t remember the comfort her hugs would bring him. Panic slowly rising, he thought of his father but could remember everything.
Feeling his sleeve slowly becoming wet, he removed his arm, but kept still. He tried to remember more, tried to regain something - anything - of his mother. He tried to remember the last he saw her alive. She had been sitting at the dining table when she happily announced her water had broke. The memory flashed in his mind, but all he saw was her sitting there, her lips moving in a smile. He heard nothing… he felt nothing.
A sob rose in his throat and he tried to swallow it before it became vocal. He choked on it, letting it suffocate him as tears rolled down the sides of his face. He cupped a hand over his mouth, not trusting his strength in keeping his lips pressed together.
He searched deeper into his memories. He pried into the corners of that October night so long ago. It was Donghae’s eighteenth birthday and the onslaught of his powers had been unleashed. Donghae hadn’t been able to take it when these thoughts slammed into him from every which direction. He hadn’t been prepared for the bombarding of private thoughts.
Kangin remembered the slamming of his brother’s bedroom door and the muffled cries behind it. He remembered his mother taking him aside. He remembered her words clearly as if she had said them just moments ago:
“You must protect your brothers and the secret. Your Brotherhood,” she had said, for their parents knew of the childish oath they had made to one another, the band they had formed; “Your Brotherhood must be guarded. Donghae has been given telepathy and we can only assume that Kyuhyun will receive empathy… they will be more vulnerable to the world in ways you will never be. So, my dear, son; my sweet Kangin… you must protect them.”
He remembered every single word she told him that night and he remembered how readily and firmly he had promised her. However, now when he tried to remember that night, that moment, he couldn’t hear her voice. He couldn’t feel the warmth of her hand as she cradled his face and said ‘my dear, son; my sweet Kangin’… He couldn’t feel anything from the affection in her gaze or the love in her embrace afterwards.
“D-D-Donghae… K-K-Kyuhyun,” he managed, trying to force strength into his words. However, his voice came out broken and hoarse, his voice thick with suppressed cries.
Hearing him, they immediately came over to him. Almost immediately, they were slammed by his thoughts and his outpouring of feelings. Donghae tried to focus on the task at hand and pulled his brother into his arms. He held onto him tightly as silent cries racked Kangin’s body. He clenched his eyes closed, fighting against the thoughts that entered his mind; images raced through, words spoke into his ear when no one said anything. He fought against it all just to be there for his brother.
Kyuhyun had frozen in his steps. The emotions that surrounded his eldest brother crashed against him like waves of a tsunami. So powerful was the sadness and loneliness, he couldn’t fight against the cold that washed over him. Feeling the prick of tears in his eyes from the feelings that fused into him, becoming his own feelings, Kyuhyun clasped both hands over his mouth to stop from crying out. He took a step away, his back bumping into one of the basement’s support beams. As if losing strength in his legs, he slid down the beam until he was sitting, still cupping his hands to his lips. He felt thick, hot tears roll down his cheeks and felt his body tremble by such emptiness, such darkness, such coldness.
Kangin tried to regain control of himself, tried to reign in the hold he had always possessed over his emotions and thoughts. He tried to contain the feelings of his dark revelations from his brothers, continued to try to protect them, this time from himself. However, it was a losing battle especially when he realized he didn’t want to control himself at this moment. He had lost something and he needed to mourn it. His memories had been reduced to shadows and he had been reduced to an empty shell.
The next morning, Kangin brushed off a hand shaking his shoulder. He turned on his side and buried his face into his pillow. The shaking didn’t stop eventually, he rolled onto his back and opened his eyes,
“What?” He grumbled,
“Come on hyung,” Donghae said, straightening. He laced his fingers behind his head as he peered down at his brother. After the previous evening when Kangin had stopped crying, silence fell amongst the brotherhood once more and eventually he asked they leave him to sleep. “It’s five, practice at five-thirty, remember?”
Kangin moved to turn his back on his brother again;
“Oh, no no,” Donghae reached out, grabbing his arm to stop him, “This’ll do you good. The sooner you get back to practicing, the sooner you can move your mind away from this. C’mon, get dressed.”
Kangin knew there was truth in what his brother said. Also, anything that would help him forget about last night was just what he needed. So, quietly grumbling, he got out of bed and got ready.
When they got out to the recreational centre and out to the archery stage, Donghae took up his usual seat against one of the support beams. He hung his headphones around his neck as he folded his hands lightly in his lap.
“You didn’t have to come,” Kangin insisted quietly as he put on his brace, “Auntie didn’t fail last night. Trust me, I know.”
“I know you know,” Donghae replied tentatively. When Kangin glanced at him, he looked away, closing his eyes gently as a soft summer wind embraced them, “I tried my best last night, but I couldn’t block everything out…”
Kangin raised his bow and slowly drew back the arrow, “Donghae…”
“Mom’s voice…” Kangin felt that lump rise in his throat again. He forced it down and tried to think of something else to stop the sting of tears he could feel; “I… I can’t…”
“Remember when Kyuhyun was little? How high his voice got whenever we teased him?” Donghae asked wistfully. He smiled when he saw an image of young Kyuhyun in his older brother’s mind, “He got that tone from Mom.”
Kangin felt his heart lighten and a small smile tug at the corner of his lips, “Thank you,” he breathed. He let go of the arrow and it cut through the air. He felt the wind pick up again, and carry the arrow. Fortunately, he accounted for nature to surprise him and the arrow landed close to bull’s eye.
“Nice shot, hyung,” Donghae whistled appreciatively,
“The wind,” Kangin insisted, although silently he acknowledged he had counted on the wind to blow again.
Donghae rolled his eyes, “If you meant it, then take credit. Don’t just humble accept whatever excuses you might think up.” Kangin said nothing as he drew another arrow. Donghae blinked and glanced towards one of the doorways that entered to the stage. He softly cleared his throat as he continued, “Like at the district tournament.”
“What about it?” Kangin grounded out, unable to still his shaking hands.
“What about it is you got first place,” Donghae reminded lightly, “And you won’t take credit for it… or talk about it.”
“I… I have my reasons,” Kangin stammered as he let go of the arrow. He cursed as it landed a metre short of the target. He picked up another arrow angrily,
“Your reasons being your argument with Eeteuk?” Donghae asked casually, his hands now tightly clasped, “He had a point hyung… it’s hard to believe in someone who doesn’t believe in themselves.”
“You read my mind!?” Kangin swung around to face him, eyes narrowed,
Donghae raised an eyebrow, “Like I said, last night was difficult for all three of us.”
“Kyuhyun…” Kangin muttered, realizing the consequences of his chaotic torment from the other night, “How is he?”
“He’s fine,” Donghae insisted, “He’s more upset that you didn’t have any of his cake, but he’s fine.”
“Oh yeah, he was so upset he couldn’t go to the tournament yesterday that when Auntie called and told him the news of your victory, he made you a cake,” Donghae smiled lightly,
“I made a mess of things yesterday, didn’t I?” Kangin asked, rubbing the back of his neck wearily,
“I didn’t say it was completely your fault,” Donghae insisted; “Hyung, it’s hard to believe in you when you’re reluctant to do so. If someone isn’t confident, their skills are affected… on the other hand, you depended on Eeteuk-sshi and he let you down…” As Kangin turned back to draw another arrow, Donghae glanced towards the same doorway as before and caught sight of a shadow beyond the doorframe, “You needed him to believe in you first before you could have the confidence to believe in yourself…”
“But why am I like that?” Kangin asked angrily as he released the arrow. It caught the edge of the target. He cursed as he got another arrow, “Why do I have to depend on him so much when all my life I’ve been able to depend on myself?”
“Because for once, you wanted to be able to depend on someone else,” Donghae said as the shadow moved and light fell upon Eeteuk’s face. They locked eyes, “For once you didn’t want to have to be the strong one.”
“But why now? Why couldn’t it have been some other time? Someone else? You or Kyuhyun perhaps?” Kangin sighed in frustration as he drew back the arrow, “I wouldn’t mind at all having to depend on you two.”
“Because you’re in love with Eeteuk,” Donghae blinked slowly before pulling his gaze away, “And he hurt you. That’s why.”
Kangin sighed heavily as he lowered the bow and arrow. He heard a noise and instinctively snapped his head in the direction it had come from. However, as his eyes scanned the doorway, he felt his heart drop when he saw nothing… or no one.
“Perhaps… we should change your practice schedule,” Donghae offered lightly.
For a pregnant pause, Kangin’s gaze stayed on the empty doorway. Then slowly, he forced himself to look away. Rising the bow and arrow again, he merely nodded in silent agreement.
It was a warm, mid-June day when Kangin offered to walk to the store to buy more rice. Because it was so nice out, he asked his aunt if he could take YooMae with him. So, strapping his sister securely in a stroller, he set off to the store. The stroller was made so that when the hood was completely pushed to the front, the baby’s bassinette-like car-seat could be locked atop the stroller’s seat for younger babies. Because of the positioning, YooMae faced him and he and no complaint with that.
At the store, he flushed under the gaze of other people in the store. He recognized quite a few from school, but kept to himself. He found where the rice grains were and bought one. Placing it in the basket beneath the stroller, he left promptly from the appreciative watchers. When he was out in the summer day again, he breathed a sigh of relief. It would be even hotter had there not been a refreshingly light wind that day.
Slowly, he made his way back to the house, cutting through the park to save some time. Everything was going fine until he heard a startled cry. He glanced down and found YooMae awake and crying. Walking over to the nearest bench, he put the breaks on the stroller’s wheels then carefully undid the straps that held the baby in. Taking the small body into his arms, he held her against his shoulder and sat on the bench, gently patting her back.
As he sat there, he crossed one knee over the other and hummed a gentle tune as he soothingly rubbed her back. He remembered when he first saw his sister in the hospital after that horrible accident the previous March. She was so small, so tiny. Now that she was three and a half months old, she was bigger and plumper.
“She’s a beautiful baby.”
Kangin felt his heart race immediately at the sound of the voice. He kept his eyes closed, hoping that if he kept one sense unaware of Eeteuk, then he wouldn’t feel as much; wouldn’t hurt as much. “Thank you,” Kangin replied quietly, his hanging foot swinging to the beat of the melody he hummed,
“Can… Can I sit with you?” Eeteuk asked quietly, tentatively. Kangin merely nodded and he hesitantly sat down on the bench. “Is this your sister?”
Kangin nodded again, pleased when he heard YooMae cease her cries and lull back into sleep, “In the accident my parents died in, they were able to save her from my mother’s stomach… my brothers and I named her after Mom.”
“I’ve known you for a few months and I’ve never seen her, let alone seen her with you,” Eeteuk noted casually as he slowly leaned back in the bench, his arms crossed lightly about his torso. He had been walking about when he spotted Kangin and tentatively, followed him here. Ever since the competition two weeks ago, Eeteuk had found himself walking about more often and more to think than as exercise.
“Because I couldn’t control my powers, I was scared to ever be around YooMae,” Kangin admitted, his voice dropping to barely above a whisper, “What if I accidentally hurt her? Caused her pain? … Killed her?” he swallowed hard, “No, I wouldn’t take the risk.”
“But… you’re holding her now,” Eeteuk stated, watching Kangin confusedly.
Kangin finally opened his eyes and slightly turned to look at Eeteuk, “Exactly.” He said simply as he stood up and eased his sister into her bassinette. Without another word, Kangin gripped the handle of the stroller tightly and walked away.
The regionals were scheduled for early July before the schools let out for summer break. A week before the tournament, Kangin was out practicing with Donghae for company. They had moved practicing to late at night when everyone had already left campus. Kangin had asked permission from the coach and had been given a spare key so he could use the range and equipment. He had also asked the coach to keep quiet of his odd practice schedule.
Kangin wiped his brow with the back of his arm as he gently placed the bow in a holder and plopped down on the wooden floor of the stage. He gazed out at the range that was lit up by lights;
“If you don’t at least place during regionals, I’ll call the other archers on using steroids,” Donghae said with a grin as he offered a small towel to his brother, “Is there a vending machine in the building? I’ll go get us some drinks.”
“In the main hallway, near the locker room doors,” Kangin instructed. He watched as his brother walk off. After the districts, Donghae stopped wearing headphones during the practice sessions. If that meant his brother was comfortable enough to be around him again, then he didn’t care what thoughts his brother read.
Donghae whistled a tune as he danced down the hallway to where the vending machines glowed in the dark hallway. He placed a few coins in the machine and pressed the button for bottled water twice. As he waited for the bottles to drop down, he laced his fingers behind his head as he called out, “So you’ve known for awhile that Kangin practices at this time.”
Eeteuk stepped closer until he was visible in the soft glow of the vending machines, “Yeah… the coach doesn’t have a skill of keeping secrets.” Eeteuk crossed his arms loosely, “I’ve always wondered… you have telepathy, don’t you?”
Donghae nodded, “That I do.” He bent and picked up the water bottles, “So, why did you come tonight?”
“A few weeks ago your brother said something to me,” Eeteuk admitted quietly, “And… I’ve been thinking,”
“A lot, it seems,” Donghae noted before adding, “I’m sorry, I can’t-”
“Control it, yeah… Kangin told me,” Eeteuk interrupted, “I keep reliving that day and analyzing what was going through my head that day…” he sighed heavily before he locked eyes with Donghae, “I never wanted to hurt your brother.”
Donghae’s blue-green eyes swept over him briefly, “No, but you allowed his self-doubts to become your own doubts. You saw something in Kangin that was what you always wished you had and that only fed the doubt. In the end, you lashed out at him instead of congratulating him.”
“You’re right of course,” Eeteuk admitted. He wasn’t going to try to hide anything from the one person who could call his bluff.
“I’m not the one you need to say that to,” Donghae tossed one of the bottles to Eeteuk, “Pass that on to my brother will you? Tell him I’ll be napping in the car.”
“But wait! What if he doesn’t want to talk to me?” Eeteuk asked when Donghae turned to leave,
“He does,” Donghae said simply with a shrug of his slender shoulders,
“But… but how do you know? I mean, I know you know, but how do you really know?” Eeteuk stammered, feeling his cheeks pink with heat.
“Well, for one thing you seem to know quite a lot about my brothers and I, specifically our inheritance from our mother,” Donghae stated, his aquamarine eyes taking all of Eeteuk in. He locked eyes with the older man, “And my brother spent his entire life protecting my brother and I… he made an oath two years ago to protect our secret. So, tell me why my brother would divulge so much information to you - who he’s only know for a few paltry months - when hiding such facts was his life’s goal?”
Before Eeteuk could say anything, Donghae was already walking away, occasionally dancing to a song only he could hear. When he was halfway to the entrance, he called back to Eeteuk, “And I also know because whenever he shoots, the only thing he thinks about is you… Still.”
Kangin relished in the cool feeling of the breeze brushing over his skin. Dressed in just shorts and a wife-beater, he slowly laid down on the stage as his calves dangled off the edge. He draped an arm over his eyes as his other arm sprawled to his side. Regionals were a week away and although he had been practicing every day and he felt prepared, in the back of his mind, he wasn’t sure.
Feeling cool plastic on his forehead, he opened his eyes. Taking the offered water bottle, he sat up, keeping his gaze on the target, “Thanks… my brother?”
“He said he was going to nap in the car,” Eeteuk explained as he hesitantly plopped down on the wooden planks beside him.
“Eeteuk, I only have a week left to practice and I don’t have the time to argue,” Kangin sighed,
“I don’t want to fight anymore Kangin… I just want to talk.” He drew up his knees, wrapping his arms around them, “When I first saw you shoot, all I could think was ‘This is the guy to replace me’. You had a lot of potential-”
“With my powers-”
“No… with or without, you had potential… I never lied about that,” Eeteuk admitted. He rested his chin on a knee, “But when I saw you shooting at the district tournament, I truly saw what skill you had… have. In the short amount of time you had been training, you had reached a level I never saw until I was in my third year. I think it’s safe to say that you’re a prodigy in archery as well as tae kwon do.”
Kangin said nothing for a moment as he opened the bottle and took a deep swig of his water. When he recapped it, he took a deep, steadying breath before asking, “Then why did we fight?”
“When I saw you shooting at a level I worked for years to get… I got jealous,” Eeteuk admitted, “You have pure talent and all jealousy aside… I needed to know if your skill was you.” Eeteuk held his legs tighter, “You were something… someone I wish I had been. I wish I had your raw talent, your natural skill… In a way, while I was training you, I was slowly putting you on a pedestal in my mind. I had to know if there was basis for it…”
“So… you did believe in me,” Kangin said quietly,
“I still do, Kangin,” Eeteuk said firmly, “But that’s why we fought… I had to know if I believed in something real, because if it wasn’t… I didn’t want to feel disappointment.” He took a deep, steadying breath, trying to calm his heart as it beat against his ribs, “But I ended up disappointing you instead.”
“I know what you thought,” Eeteuk interrupted gently, “You told me, remember? But I didn’t listen… and I still couldn’t find the courage to talk to you again… I was scared that all I believed in was wrong and considering you quit tae kwon do so early in your senior year of high school, I knew you weren’t a permanent fixture on the team.”
“My brothers tell me I have a habit of running away,” Kangin conceded before taking another sip of his water.
“You do… you did…” Eeteuk replied,
“You won’t have to worry about my skill anymore, it’ll be me every time now,” Kangin said as he downed the rest of his water. He capped the bottle and set it aside.
“I figured after what you said that one day… What happened?” Eeteuk asked hesitantly,
“One of my aunt’s powers is to contain the power we inherited,” Kangin explained, his voice quiet as his eyelids slid shut. “It places a seal over our powers so that we can’t use them and they can’t affect us.”
“You once said that no one in your family history has ever used it,” Eeteuk recalled,
“Yeah… so my aunt’s not exactly sure of the consequences of using it,” Kangin said with a small smile that didn’t reach his eyes at all; “She’s not sure if she can reverse it…”
“Why?” Eeteuk stretched out his legs, letting them hang over the edge of the stage. He glanced at Kangin, “Is this… because of the fight?”
“Yes… and no,” Kangin admitted as he leaned back on his elbows, looking up at the dark, summer night sky. “It’s nice to know that I’m free of my powers… I can shoot without worries,” he smiled ruefully at the sky, “Heck, I can even spend time with my sister without worrying.”
Eeteuk turned to look at him, “But you once said that your powers is what linked you to your mother… your ancestors. With your powers… gone, what happened to all of that?”
Kangin said nothing, but closed his eyes quietly as another summer breeze embraced him. He had been trying to keep busy the past few weeks, kept pushing away the echoes he felt within himself. However, it was the quiet moments when he was alone, the moments when he was lying awake in bed waiting to fall asleep, it was then when he had no strength to fight those empty memories and painful feelings.
As the wind caressed over his heated skin, Kangin felt the painful thudding of his heart and the hot tears behind his eyelids. He felt the lump in his throat and could feel it suffocating him. He remained like that, inclining and still. He felt the tears press through the seams of his eyelids and felt them run hot tracks down his cheeks. When he felt the pad of a cool thumb wipe one of the tears away, he opened his eyes.
Eeteuk gazed down at him, always startled by the colour of his eyes. At that moment, Kangin’s eyes looked like that June night’s sky and his tears were the stars that twinkled above. “What have I done to you?” Eeteuk managed, his voice quiet and cracked as he felt guilt build within and choke him.
“If I can’t remember something of my mother, Donghae or Kyuhyun remind me,” Kangin grounded out, his voice gravely as more tears poured from his deep blue eyes, “So really… it’s like…” he felt a sob rising in his throat and he forcefully tried to swallow it, “So it’s like I’m not… I’m not missing anything at…” He clapped a hand over his lips before a cry could escape.
Immediately, Eeteuk pulled him up into his arms and held him close. Shrouded in his guilt, he pushed those thoughts away and concentrated on the young man in his arms. “I’m so sorry,” Eeteuk croaked into his hair as he felt Kangin tremble weakly,
“Eeteuk…” Kangin cried, “I can’t remember my mom’s voice.”
His silent cries soon became vocalized and echoed into the quiet, still night. Eeteuk held him tightly, protectively all the while sending silent prayers to Kangin’s deceased parents and asking… begging… for their forgiveness.
In the regional tournament, Kangin placed first and was the only one from SM University to move onto the National tournament that would be held in at the end of September. It was summer break and Kangin was at home in the living room with YooMae. He had pushed the coffee table off to one side so his sister had a lot of space to crawl around.
The doorbell rang and Kangin heard one of his brothers attend to it. He had gated off the doorway that led to the main hallway so that YooMae couldn’t crawl off when he wasn’t looking. A few seconds after he heard the door close, he heard footsteps approaching.
“I hate these gates,” Eeteuk muttered as he swung one leg after the other over it. He came and sat beside Kangin on the couch, instinctively sliding his hand into Kangin’s waiting one.
“Yes well, they’re up until YooMae’s old enough to know where she can’t go,” Kangin said matter-of-factly,
“That’ll be years yet,” Eeteuk commented before adding, “You know, Kyuhyun answered the door and I think he’s warming up to me! I almost saw a smile when he greeted me just now.”
“It’s you’re imagination,” Kyuhyun stated from the hallway before he disappeared into the kitchen which was connected to the hallway as well as the dining room.
Kangin chuckled softly before he reached over with his freehand and brought Eeteuk’s lips to his. He still felt the emptiness and the palpable loss of his bond with his mother, but having Eeteuk with him, in his life and by his side, had made it bearable. Eeteuk had learned to believe in him wholeheartedly without limitations after realizing the consequences of his past mistakes. That July evening weeks before, he had made a silent vow to get back what Kangin had loss, what he had indirectly taken from him.
Whenever the sadness came and Eeteuk wasn’t around the Brotherhood was there for Kangin. Somewhere along the way, Kangin had learned how to depend on his brothers, along with supporting and protecting them. Despite the hole he still felt in his heart, it was slowly paling in comparison to the moments when he saw semblances of his brothers as they were before the death of their parents.
The front door opened again and Kangin could hear his other brother kicking off his shoes as he practically bounced towards the living room, almost falling over the gate. He held out a three-foot bear, “Look what I bought YooMae!” He stated with that lop-sided smile of his,
“It’s bigger than her,” Kangin commented dryly as, releasing Eeteuk’s hand, he went and took the bear from his brother so he could go over the gate properly, “It’s almost bigger than you,”
Donghae rolled his eyes when he scanned the floor for his sister. She stood across the room, trying to tug herself onto her feet. She lost her grip and all three men cried out as she fell. Silence fell upon them immediately. Five heartbeats pounded in their chests before the door from the dining room that connected to the living room opened and Kyuhyun stepped in,
“What was all that noise…” He trailed off when his eyes fell upon his sister.
A few inches off the ground, YooMae floated having never hit the ground when she fell. Three pairs of eyes slowly turned towards Kangin who was frozen in his stance. He looked as if he were about to lunge towards YooMae, one arm stretched out as if he had planned to catch her. Slowly, ever so slowly, he straightened and moved his hand carefully. He watched as his baby sister glided through the air until finally, she was before Donghae.
Immediately, Donghae plucked YooMae from the air. She was now laughing, having enjoyed her sudden flight across the room. Kangin fell back against the couch, the giant bear falling to the ground, momentarily forgotten. Silence fell amongst the four young men.
Eeteuk felt Kangin’s hand search for his. He stared at him intently, waiting for him to say something. He squeezed those strong fingers comfortingly. Finally, Kangin looked at him, his royal blue eyes shining with tears. Slowly, he looked at his brothers, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips,
“Mom had a beautiful voice.”
(The Last Story of the Brotherhood)