(Chapter 5 of the Beyond Words series.)
Chapter Five: There's A Hope
In a ballroom there is dancing,
in a forest there are trees,
in a child there's a hope
that keeps him in belief.
The first thing Kyuhyun saw was his cousin the Prince - the supposed beloved Princess of the people - unconscious in the arms of, well, him. He shoved the tray of food he had gone in search for to the nearest person and broke out into a full-out dash towards Donghae. The moment he got there, he managed to bury his fingers into the other man’s collar,
“What the hell did you do!?” Kyuhyun’s eyes narrowed dangerously,
“I did nothing,” Donghae grounded out. He glanced around at the few people who were in the hallway and had now turned their not-so-subtle stares towards them. “She fainted the moment she walked out of your sister’s room. What I’m trying to figure out is how to get her help when those who know your cousin are yourself, myself and the King.”
The situation finally sinking in, Kyuhyun slowly released Donghae’s collar as he took half a step back and peered down at his cousin. Finally, he looked around and saw the curious gazes around them, “Let’s go back into Taeyeon’s room.”
Donghae nodded but froze. Kyuhyun looked at him curiously. Donghae glanced away, “I… I can’t lift her.”
Kyuhyun blinked at him when realization dawned upon him, “You’re still injured?” Donghae nodded stiffly, still refusing to meet his eyes. Kyuhyun stepped back to him and gingerly lifted his cousin into his arms. Donghae opened the door for him and they slipped back into Taeyeon’s room.
Kyuhyun barely stopped himself from dropping Eunhyuk at the sight before him. Barely. Junsu was hunched over, his hands cradling Taeyeon’s face as their mouths were joined in a chaste but sweet kiss. Chaste and sweet were the last words in Kyuhyun’s mind as he glowered at them and Donghae loudly closed the door to separate the two.
Taeyeon pulled away quickly, flinching as the pain in her torso bolted through her body. Junsu merely lowered his hands and slowly stood up straight. He met Kyuhyun’s eyes defiantly before he finally realized what - or rather, who - Kyuhyun was carrying.
“Unni!” Taeyeon cried, her eyes still red and shining with tears, “What happened!?”
“She fainted when she came out,” Donghae explained before turning suspicious eyes on his friend. Junsu merely stared back, defiant as ever.
“She… she was cold to the touch,” Taeyeon murmured. She shot her brother a look, “We need to call a doctor, unni needs help -”
“No,” Kyuhyun almost growled, “We need to call Father-”
“Father? But he’s working and why do we need to call him when we’re already at the hospital?” Taeyeon demanded, “It’ll take just a moment to call someone in here to attend-”
“NO!” Kyuhyun exclaimed this time, throwing his sister a frustrated glare, “Just do as you’re told Taeyeon!”
She slammed her fists into the mattress, “Stop acting like you’re the only one who knows, Kyuhyun!”
It was the oddest thing Kyuhyun ever felt. In an instant, his sister’s words left him breathless, made him feel as if he had been punched and the wind had been knocked out of him. A thick silence fell upon those present and Donghae noted that Junsu was the only one confused. Curiously, he glanced at the only princess in the room who was now glaring angrily at her older brother.
Donghae took a step forward towards the bed, “Princess, what do you suggest we do?”
Hesitantly, Taeyeon looked between Donghae and Kyuhyun. Finally, she sighed and leaned back against her pillows, “Oppa?”
“We need to call the doctor we used last time,” Kyuhyun said finally, his voice tight and quiet.
Taeyeon, slowly understanding what her brother was referring to, nodded, “Yes… But,” she shot him a sharp glance, “We call her first, and then we call Father. Unni needs help first and foremost.”
“Considering the only bed in here is taken, I suggest you call her Taeyeon,” Kyuhyun said as he slowly made his way to the only chair in the room. Junsu immediately pulled it away from the bed’s edge to give Kyuhyun freer access to the chair,
“I can just take the chair and unni can take the-”
“NO!” Three voices interjected, their voices loud and firm, immediately silencing the princess.
Raising her chin with all the hauteur she never used, Taeyeon asked Junsu to grab her the phone so she could make some important phone calls.
When Eunhyuk awoke, he was staring up at the canopy of his bed. His entire body felt as if it were filled with lead and he had no motivation at all to move. Slowly, he turned his head on the pillow. He could see his room washed with orange and magenta light and he knew without checking the time, that it was the late afternoon. He turned his head to get a good look at the light streaming through the balcony doors when something blocked his view. Sitting in the wicker chair that was usually on his balcony, was Donghae. Sitting back, sweater sleeves pushed to his elbows and arms crossed, he stared at Eunhyuk hard as their gazes locked.
“Donghae? What happened?” Eunhyuk asked sluggishly, apparently even talking was tiring him out.
“You fainted,” Donghae stated,
“Fainted? I’m not hardly the wilting flower everyone assumes I-”
“Well you did,” Donghae grounded out. Somehow, his gaze got darker, “Your temperature was thirty-three degrees when the doctor attended to you. When you first fainted you were as cold as ice. In the time waiting to get in contact with the doctor, your body remained so cold that Kyuhyun had to start wrapping you in blankets at the hospital!”
“A doctor attended to me!?” Eunhyuk questioned, his voice hoarse but panicked at the same time, “But how!?”
“Apparently it’s a doctor who’s attended to you before,” Donghae said, “Once we got a hold of her, Kyuhyun and I raced you home so she could attend you here, rather than at the hospital.”
Eunhyuk physically sighed as he turned his face back to the canopy and allowed his eyes to shut; he was too tired to keep them open any longer.
“That’s good,” he murmured.
“No, it’s not,” Donghae stated as he pushed from the chair and stood by his bedside, “How the hell did you end up with a temperature of thirty-three!? The doctor said you didn’t have a cold or the flu but hypothermia!” His eyes narrowed, “How the hell did you get hypothermia!? You were inside all morning except for when you were on your bike but the distance isn’t that great from here to the store and the store to the hospital.”
“Hmm… it must’ve been during the night… I was out on the balcony thinking and before…” He yawned before finishing, “Before I realized it, it was morning. I guess I should‘ve worn more than my boxers and a robe.”
“I thought this whole ‘princess-is-a-prince’ was the most idiotic thing for you to go along with… but apparently you proved me wrong!” Donghae exclaimed,
Sleepily, Eunhyuk opened his eyes and looked up at Donghae’s towering presence, “Why are you so angry?” He murmured,
“Because you could’ve bloody well killed yourself!” Donghae stated, slamming his palms on the mattress, bringing his face within two feet of the Prince’s, “How stupid can you be to stay out all night half-naked!? I know we’re getting close to spring, but Seoul is still a damn ice box at night!”
“Are you done now?” Eunhyuk asked quietly, more from fatigue than from tentativeness.
Donghae blinked, then narrowed his eyes suspiciously, “Yes.”
“Good. Now listen carefully because you’ll hear it once and never again: I’m sorry,” Eunhyuk said. He took a deep breath just to fill his lungs, feeling as if they had been empty for a very long time; “It was foolish, but like I said, before I realized it, it was morning and I had things - rather, people - to take care of rather than myself.”
“Take care of yourself, damn it,” Donghae breathed through gritted teeth.
Eunhyuk slowly reached an arm from beneath his thick blanket and raised his hand to Donghae’s face, holding his chin between thumb and forefinger, “Ah, but if I did that, I’d never have gotten to see your adorable pout.”
“Eunhyuk, I’m being serious-”
“Then help me warm up, I’m damn cold underneath here,” he murmured as he slowly, oh so slowly, pushed himself up and leaned his back against the headboard. Dressed in simple flannel pyjamas, Eunhyuk found it tiring just to keep his head upright.
“A sweater?” Donghae suggested as he straightened, crossing his arms loosely,
“Or you come and sit beside me,” Eunhyuk yawned, “Since it seems I’ve slept the day away, you can talk to me about all that’s happened since I don’t like talking up to you and I’m too tired to sit up on my own.”
Startled, Donghae could feel his cheeks heat with embarrassment. Sliding down his sleeves, he lifted the blanket and slipped onto the bed beside Eunhyuk. He watched, curious and silent, as Eunhyuk snuggled to his side, leaning his cheek on Donghae’s shoulder, his arm winding around Donghae’s until their hands were clasped.
“You’re not talking,” Eunhyuk murmured.
Donghae almost jumped at Eunhyuk’s voice. The moment he had sidled beside him, all he could think of was how relieved he was - Eunhyuk’s body wasn’t as cold as when they first laid him in the bed. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he leaned his head back and forced a light tone into his voice.
“Well, Kyuhyun and I walked in on Taeyeon and Junsu kissing,” Donghae stated,
“Oh?” Eunhyuk’s voice was interested, but quickly he added, “I saw it coming. What else?”
“Umm… your cousin, Princess Sooyoung, well, she definitely riled at Kyuhyun and I for a half hour while the doctor was attending to you,” Donghae couldn’t help but smile as he recalled what had happened, “She said how Kyuhyun is the only one to attend on you, not even maids do, and when she realized you were unconscious, she realized that he and I had changed your clothes for you. She was appalled to say the least.” Hearing Eunhyuk’s weak chuckle, he added, “And mind you, she was harsher to the prince than I since he’s your cousin and should know better than to allow me - a stranger - to see your… what were her words? ‘Innocent and pure body’, I believe are the right words.”
Eunhyuk laughed, but for a short moment, for it seemed to rattle his lungs against his ribs and made his lungs and throat ignite into painful flames. Tentatively, Donghae reached across with his free hand and pressed the back against Eunhyuk’s forehead.
“You’re warmer than before,” Donghae stated as he lowered his hand,
“Hmm,” he murmured in agreement. “How did you convince Kyuhyun to leave you alone here with me?”
“I told him I wasn’t leaving until you woke up, but the most curious thing was when the King appeared,” Donghae said, “Kyuhyun’s attitude towards me almost did a one-eighty.”
“Yes, he went from hostile to… well, a stiff acceptance,” Donghae chuckled lightly,
“Kyuhyun’s slowly turning to the idea of you being not such a bad guy,” Eunhyuk said quietly.
“You should be lying down,” Donghae said, a slight scold in his tone,
“Fine, just don’t leave me,” Eunhyuk murmured.
Knowing he was blushing to his ears, Donghae helped Eunhyuk back down to the mattress and tentatively laid down alongside him, wrapping an arm behind his shoulders to pull Eunhyuk against him. Eunhyuk nestled into his side, an arm draped over Donghae’s chest,
“Tell me if I hurt you,” Eunhyuk murmured,
“Don’t start lying to me now,” Eunhyuk said as he allowed one leg to twine with one of Donghae’s, “You feel so warm,” he whispered sleepily.
Donghae’s hand drifted to the small of Eunhyuk’s back when he suddenly slid it higher on his back, “Eunhyuk, I wanted to ask you something.”
“Your… your back… what happened to it?” Donghae asked quietly.
He recalled when he saw it for the first time. Kyuhyun had gingerly laid Eunhyuk down on the bed and instructed him to start undressing Eunhyuk as he looked for pyjamas so he’d be more comfortable. When he had pulled the t-shirt from Eunhyuk’s cold body, he had almost jumped back from surprised. He had rolled Eunhyuk onto his side and held him there as his eyes had swept over what should’ve been a smooth, pale-skinned back. Instead, it was heavily scarred, the skin tight and pulled all over. The skin was braised and pinched and it was hard for him not to cringe or feel a tightness in his chest when he looked at it. However, by then, Kyuhyun had returned and before Donghae could question him, a butler had knocked at the door, announcing the arrival of the doctor.
Remembering what he saw, Donghae felt a cool feeling sweep through his body. He tightened his arm around the Prince, turning his head until his lips brushed his forehead. He closed his eyes as he waited for Eunhyuk. He could hear Eunhyuk’s breathing and just knew that Eunhyuk was collecting his strength. When finally he spoke, Donghae could barely breathe.
“When I turned eighteen, all I wanted was a motorcycle,” Eunhyuk said quietly, “Uncle doesn’t seem like it, but he’s an attentive parent.”
“Sooyoung mentioned in her scolding that the King spoils you,” Donghae interjected,
“Yes. I think it has something to do with Uncle feeling guilty. In all essence, what you accused of my uncle was true; he did take the throne from me. I think he feels guilty for that - he even visits my parents’ grave regularly just to find some kind of peace,” Eunhyuk explained; “Anyway, he relented quite quickly about the motorcycle and bought me one. For two years I rode that bike almost everyday - it was one of the only times I left the grounds on my own… just in case, I would go in the early mornings.”
“For two years… that was three years ago,” Donghae said.
Eunhyuk nodded his head slightly before continuing, “One morning I was out riding and as I was going through an intersection, a car hit my bike instead of stopping since it was a red light for him. I was thrown from the bike - oh, I don’t remember, something like thirty feet? - and the police record says the guy was drunk. My right leg had been crushed and when I fell, I had skidded or something, because my entire back was all torn up.”
“The doctor who attended you, I’m guessing it was the same who attended you today,” Donghae stated,
“Probably,” Eunhyuk said, “Uncle’s only let one doctor come near me and they think of me as a distant cousin of the family’s who had been visiting from America; they never realized that I was in fact, the Princess. Anyway, I have a ridiculously strong immune system because, aside from a few colds and sore throats, I never really needed a doctor.”
“Is perfectly fine now. It took a few months for it to heal, but I can’t even tell it was ever crushed and, if I really wanted to, I know a plastic surgeon could fix my back. However, I don’t really care,” Eunhyuk said with a slight shrug, “It’s my back; it’s not a big deal. Uncle, however, went on a rampage… he forbade me from ever riding my bike again and wouldn’t let me leave the house without Kyuhyun with me. Of course, after a week I was walking the grounds on my own again, but my bike has been collecting dust up until today.”
“Your uncle is a smart person,” Donghae said, his voice laced with a fierce protectiveness.
Eunhyuk finally opened his eyes and tried to look at Donghae, the room dim now that the sun had set. He inquired, “Does this mean you won’t go after my uncle anymore?”
“Eunhyuk, I was out of that the moment I turned away that first night,” Donghae insisted as he peered down at the Prince through the dimness, “I still want your uncle out of the picture - but not like that… I just want you to have what you were born to, Eunhyuk… I swear it!”
“I believe you,” Eunhyuk murmured, closing his eyes again; he was so very tired.
“Good,” Donghae murmured, “Now… now, go to sleep. You need your rest.”
“Fine,” Eunhyuk sighed, his body relaxing against Donghae’s, “Promise me you won’t leave me, though… I’d rather you stay and sleep here than freeze in your apartment while you’re still healing.”
Donghae said nothing as he listened to Eunhyuk’s breathing. He heard it grow steady and even, signalling his slumber. He felt Eunhyuk become slack beside him and knew that the Prince had fallen asleep again. He lay there, silently for a few hours, as he watched as the room was slowly thrown into darkness, the night overcast with thick clouds. Assuring himself that Eunhyuk was asleep, Donghae slowly and gingerly extracted himself from Eunhyuk’s body and bed. As he stood, he adjusted the blankets accordingly so that the Prince wouldn’t get cold.
He leaned over and pressed his lips against Eunhyuk’s cheek, “I’m sorry,” he murmured, “this is something I have to do if we’re ever to be happy.”
Straightening, he crossed the room quickly to the door. Slowly, ever so slowly, he opened the door and peered out into the dark hallway. He glanced over his shoulder and reassured himself that Eunhyuk was still sleeping. Then, he slipped out of the room, closing the door silently but firmly behind him as he disappeared down the hall and into the quieting royal house.
Crashes and alarms shook Eunhyuk from the peaceful sleep he had slipped into. He weakly pushed himself into a sitting position as the footman who had kicked open his bedroom door, stormed into the room. He rushed over to the bed as Eunhyuk rubbed the sleep from his eyes,
“What’s going on?”
“Your Highness, are you alright!?” The footman questioned, his voice rushed and frantic,
“Yes of course, what’s going on?” Eunhyuk repeated,
“There was an outsider in the house,” The footman explained,
“What?” Eunhyuk felt his mouth go dry and what little strength he had was wiped from his body instantly, “What do you mean?”
“An alarm was raised from the King’s room, Princess,” the footman stated,
Suddenly, it was hard for Eunhyuk to breath. He felt his body shiver and knew it had nothing to do with his earlier hypothermia. His whole body felt still and frozen; the only reason he knew his heart still beat was because he could hear his blood thundering in his ears as he asked weakly, “What happened to him?”
“He’s been shot, Princess,” the footman bowed his head, “The King’s been shot. All the footmen are seeing to the family and the staff, while the guards are combing the grounds and an ambulance has been called for.”
“I… I see,” Eunhyuk managed.
However, he didn’t. Life in the royal house had been peaceful for years. Why now? Why all this strife? First, there was the first attempt at the King which landed Donghae in his room. Then, Taeyeon getting bullied beyond repair. Now, a second attempt at the King…
Eunhyuk felt his blood run cold, his heart slowing but now pounding painfully in his chest as his lungs rattled on either side. He barely heard the footman swear to his safety as they retreated to the hall, barely noticed as the footman kept the door open but stood sentry in the doorway, barely registered as the footman yelled to others that the Princess was safe.
No, he acknowledged none of what was going on. All Eunhyuk could think about was the fact that he asked for a promise to not be left alone in the night and now the mattress beside him was empty. The space beside him cold, Eunhyuk wondered for how long it had been empty.
There was an outsider in the house he knew of and he went by the name of Lim Donghae.
(Chapter 6: With Any Love Song)