Words: 11, 062
(Chapter 6 of the Beyond Words series.)
Chapter Six: With Any Love Song
With any star there is a sky,
with any beach there is a sea,
with any love song there's a lover
and in your heart I hope it's...
Eunhyuk wasn’t sure how long he had sat there. He felt frozen, could barely think, let alone move. He briefly remembered the footman telling him that Kyuhyun was going to the hospital with the King. Eventually, Eunhyuk jumped from the bed and bolted towards the door. The footman silently followed him down the hall when suddenly Eunhyuk stumbled.
“Your Highness! Perhaps you’re still sick!” The footman exclaimed, grabbing his arm to stable him,
“I’m fine,” he gritted as he yanked his arms from the footman and continued on down the hall, keeping a hand on the wall just in case.
“Your Highness… Where… Where are you going?” The footman asked tentatively as he kept a few feet behind the Princess,
“I am going to Sooyoung’s room. I bet you my inheritance that she doesn’t know what’s going on-”
“She wouldn’t wake up if the house was burning down,” the footman added in agreement,
“-so I’m going to wake her up, tell her and then drag her to the hospital with me,” Eunhyuk explained, “If it wasn’t for my damn hypothermia, Kyuhyun would’ve told me where he was going. If I bring Sooyoung with me, he can’t complain of me risking my health again.”
“You do have a point, Princess,” the footman agreed as they passed the main staircase, “But, but… Your Highness, perhaps you should slow down a bit, you’re walking-“
Eunhyuk shot him a glare over his shoulder and the footman silenced immediately. They were making quick time from one end of the royal house to the other. When he approached Sooyoung’s door, the footman stepped back and Eunhyuk immediately burst through, the footmen remaining by the door. He approached the bed.
“SOOYOUNG!” He yelled.
She muttered something incomprehensible and burrowed her head beneath her pillow. He reached over and yanked off her pillow. She reached up with hands for the pillow and when she reached nothing, she flipped onto her back and pushed back her hair from her eyes,
“We’re going to the hospital. NOW,” Eunhyuk said as he threw the pillow down on her face.
Sooyoung shoved the pillow aside and sat up, “What? Why? Are you still sick!?” She ripped her blankets away and jumped from her bed, a hand rising to Eunhyuk’s forehead.
He caught her hand in his, “No, it’s not me. It’s Uncle.”
It was dark in Sooyoung’s room, her curtains always drawn at night. But somehow Eunhyuk knew – he just knew - that all blood had drained from her face. He felt her hand begin to slightly tremble in his hand as she opened her mouth several times to speak and after a moment, only managed a hoarse whisper,
“He was shot and-”
“HE WAS WHAT!?” Sooyoung exclaimed as she pulled her hand from her cousin’s grasp and twisted away.
Eunhyuk grabbed her shoulders, holding them firmly, “Kyuhyun went with him to the hospital-”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me!?” She exclaimed as she flung out of Eunhyuk’s hold and stormed towards her closet.
“I’m telling you now and you know how hard it is to wake you up-”
“Oh, for goodness sake! This is exactly what everyone else says,” she swung around to face her cousin, “Every time something important happens I’m the last one to know. Little Sooyoung’s not old enough to know… or – or – or it’s not imperative for Sooyoung to know,” her eyes were narrowed and – now that Eunhyuk had adjusted to the dark – he could see tears running down her cheeks, “even if that something deals with my father!”
“Sooyoung-” Eunhyuk reached for her, but she leaned against the doorframe of her closet,
“Father… Father could’ve… and I would have never known… I would have never gotten to say-”
Eunhyuk grabbed Sooyoung and pulled her into his arms. He embraced her tightly, “We are going to the hospital. Uncle is not dying and we are going to see him, okay?” He tightened his hold when he felt her shaking, “Everything’s going to be okay.” He took a deep, steadying breath, “I’m going to let go now. You are going to get dressed; I am going back to my room to get dressed. In fifteen minutes we’ll meet at the front door. We’ll take my bike-”
“Princess, your bike is still at the hospital,” a footman called out,
“We’ll take one of the town cars,” he amended, “And we are going to see Uncle. Okay?”
When he dropped his arms from his cousin, Sooyoung was rubbing her eyes with the heel of her palms. She nodded, but before Eunhyuk could leave, she grabbed his hand.
“Unni… that was the first time you hugged me,” Sooyoung said quietly.
“It was the first time,” she hissed quietly, her hand tightening on his hand,
Eunhyuk took deep, steadying breath, “There’s more we have to talk about.”
“Apparently,” Sooyoung stated, the hurt evident in her tone. She dropped his hand and disappeared into her closet; the light turning on and the door shutting behind her.
Taeyeon was almost to the door when she was suddenly swept off her feet. When she finally got her bearings down, she realized she was in Junsu’s arms and, in the dim light of the hospital room, he was glaring at her angrily,
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Junsu demanded as he turned back towards the bed, “You know damn well you’re-”
“I thought you were asleep. And besides, you heard as well as I did when I got my medication that my father is here!” Taeyeon exclaimed, not bothering to struggle in Junsu’s arms knowing it would do nothing but cause her more pain.
“Yes, and you can see him when-”
“Junsu, I swear if you don’t let me go see my father-”
“Good God, woman, let me finish,” Junsu exclaimed as he sat her back down on the bed, “I’m going to get a wheelchair for you.”
“Yes, ‘oh’, I’m not so unfeeling that I was going to stop you from seeing your own father. Whatever misgivings I have against the King I wasn’t-,” he stopped when Taeyeon grabbed his hand. He turned back to face her, “What?”
“I’m sorry… I just… I just want to see my father,” Taeyeon said quietly.
Junsu sighed as he turned completely back to her and hugged her, “I know. I’ll just go grab a wheelchair and I’ll take you to see him.”
He took a step away then looked back at her. She sat on the edge of her bed, her hands in her lap as she looked down at her hands as if they were strange or something she hadn’t seen before. He returned to her and took her face in both his hands. He tipped her face up to look at him and he brushed his lips against hers,
“Everything’s going to be alright,” he murmured as he pulled back. He looked down at her, “Okay?”
She nodded hesitantly, placing her hands over his which still cradled her face, “Just… you won’t… leave me?”
“Of course not,” he said quietly, kissing her forehead before he pulled away completely, “I’ll be back soon.”
When he returned, he helped her into the chair and they left the room.
Since it was the middle of the night, and he still felt feverish, Eunhyuk didn’t even think about wearing a Hanbok as usual. Dressed in jeans, the pea coat he received from his cousin for Christmas and a scarf wrapped around his neck, Eunhyuk descended the main stairs. He began to tie his long hair back just as Sooyoung appeared, similarly dressed in casual clothes.
One of the black town cars was already waiting for them, pulled up to the front steps. A footman rushed ahead to open the back door for them; Eunhyuk climbed in and Sooyoung slid in after him. The hospital wasn’t that far from the royal house and, at the late hour with little to no traffic, it would take them a quarter of an hour to reach their destination. The car was silent as they drove through the night, street lamps providing brief glimpses of light as the city slept.
Eunhyuk was aware of the thick tension that surrounded and settled between himself and his youngest cousin. She hadn’t spoken to him since she had disappeared to change clothes and, in all honesty, he wasn’t sure where to begin a conversation with her. After what she said in her room, he had no doubts that their embrace had revealed his secret to her. He knew she would be hurt and betrayed.
With that thought in mind, he glanced at her. Hands clasped lightly in her lap, she kept her face tilted towards her window, her teeth chewing on her bottom lip. Despite the sad circumstances surrounding her birth, Sooyoung had always been happy, always smiling with a bubbly personality. He had watched her grow up with her big, wide eyes that were curious about everything and her generous smile that could melt ice. He had always kept a certain amount of distance between them, scared that the intuitive little girl he knew had grown into a highly insightful young woman and she would figure out his secret instantly. However, despite that, he always had a special place in his heart for his youngest cousin. With one smile, she often made him forget how lonely his secret made him.
Now, as he watched her in the silence of the car, he saw the other side of her. He saw the pensive side, the quiet and serious side of Sooyoung. When he saw a single, fat tear trace her bottom eyelid before finally sliding down her cheek, he felt his heart turn over painfully. Before he even realized it, he had reached out and covered her hands with one of his own, gripping it firmly, comfortingly.
As if suddenly remember he was there, she jerked her gaze to him. In the dimness of the car, Eunhyuk peered at her, watched her. Light passed over her eyes in steady intervals for the briefest of moments, but Eunhyuk caught those moments, took the time to read her eyes. They were slightly squinted in confusion, her eyes sweeping over his face as if trying to recognize him, trying to decide something. He knew she was hurting because of the King and because of the secret he kept for so long. However, he had hoped that with the King in the hospital, she would have pushed away any hostility, at least for tonight.
Finally, Eunhyuk removed his hand from hers and sat back, turning his gaze to look away. The silence seemed to thicken, almost suffocating them when finally, the hospital filled their view. It came to a stop before the main entrance and Eunhyuk had opened the door and jumped out before the chauffeur could even unbuckle his seat belt to open the door for them.
He was almost at the automatic sliding doors when he felt slender fingers wrap around his own. He looked back. Sooyoung stood just a metre away, her hand grasping his firmly. His eyes swept from their hands to her face and when their gazes locked, her fingers shaking, he understood. He hadn’t been wrong; for tonight, she would forget the pain he caused so they could be together for a different pain they both shared.
Nodding his acknowledgement, Eunhyuk clasped her hand back and led her into the main lobby. Everyday, he may dress and look like a girl. Everyday, others may see him as the Princess. However, tonight, for Sooyoung’s sake – for Kyuhyun’s and Taeyeon’s sakes – he will be the hyung and oppa he was born to be. He will be responsible for them, take the reins from Kyuhyun’s hands and protect them. He may not be the King as was his birthright, and he may have given Kyuhyun rule over all of them since they were children, but tonight, he would be Eunhyuk. Just Eunhyuk.
Kyuhyun was pacing in the hallway when Taeyeon came rolling her wheelchair, Junsu pushing her along. Deep in his thoughts, hands shoved into his pockets, Kyuhyun didn’t even realize they were there until they were beside him. He looked up, blinking. Slowly, he looked from his sister to Junsu to his sister again and his eyes narrowed.
“What the hell are you doing out of bed!?” Kyuhyun demanded,
“I heard the nurses talking about Father – you weren’t even going to tell me, were you!?” Taeyeon demanded, her own eyes narrowed dangerously as her hands gripped the armrests tightly. When Kyuhyun remained silent, she prompted, “Were you!?”
“Eventually!” Kyuhyun grounded out. Seeing he wouldn’t get anywhere against his sister, he turned his angry gaze to Junsu, “Why the hell did you let her come? You know she needs rest if her ribs are going to heal!”
Junsu slanted him with a challenging gaze, “It was either I bring her here or she sneaks off on her own.”
Cornered, Kyuhyun swung away from them and continued his pacing. Taeyeon watched him for a moment before asking – no, demanding, “Where’s Father?”
“He’s in the emergency room. They’ll bring him to this room when they’re done,” Kyuhyun explained, gesturing to the open doorway he had been pacing in front of the entire time. He paused in his pacing, looked at his sister as he ran a hand through his black locks,
“I’ll go back to my room the moment I know Father’s okay,” she replied fiercely, her knuckles whitening from her tight grip on the armrests.
He blinked before shaking his head, “I wasn’t going to say anything… just…”
“What?” She questioned,
His eyes turned to Junsu, who looked at him in surprise, “What’s your blood type?”
“B,” Junsu answered, slightly confused,
“Damn,” Kyuhyun muttered,
“Why?” Junsu asked,
“F-F… The King lost a lot of blood… when he was found the… his bed sheets were practically soaked,” Kyuhyun swallowed hard. He had stopped pacing, but was turned against a wall, his palms lying against it, his forehead pressed against the wall as he closed his eyes, remembering. “In the ambulance they stilled the bleeding but… when they rolled him away…” He took a deep, steadying breath as his hands curled into tight fists, “Fifteen minutes ago they had come up to me, saying that he’s lost… he’s lost too much blood… T-they said he needed more.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Taeyeon exclaimed, “I’m ‘O’, Father can use my blood! Even Sooyoung is ‘O’!”
“He’s ‘A’ negative,” Kyuhyun’s voice came out harsh, but Taeyeon knew it wasn’t directed at her.
She slumped back into her wheelchair, “We’re both ‘O’ positive…”
“And I’m ‘A’ positive,” Kyuhyun grounded out, his teeth grinding together in an attempt to stop the scream forming in his throat from being voiced;
“What about unni?”
Kyuhyun caught the light in his eyes, remembering what Taeyeon had revealed to him just the other day. After a moment, he shook his head, “She’s also ‘O’ positive. I remember the doctor saying so back when Eunhyuk had the motorcycle accident; that she was fortunate it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been… and had it been, there were two family members with her blood type.”
“There must be someone who has ‘A’ negative and… there are tons of people who donate blood,” Junsu stammered at the sight of the fallen expression on the princess’s face,
“Fortunately, they found a donor type,” Kyuhyun answered, his voice quiet, “But I’m scared it’s not enough…”
“Oppa?” Kyuhyun looked up to see Sooyoung walking towards him from the elevators, Eunhyuk at her side. Her hand slipping from Eunhyuk’s grip, she ran towards her brother who immediately enveloped her in his arms. She beat a weak fist against his chest, “Why didn’t you wake me!? Why didn’t you tell me!?”
Eunhyuk joined them, lightly touching Taeyeon’s shoulder, “Are you okay to be out of bed?” He asked lightly as they averted their eyes from the silent Kyuhyun and Sooyoung who had now begun to cry.
Taeyeon looked up at him and nodded, “Even if I wasn’t, I couldn’t just… Not with Father…”
Eunhyuk nodded sadly, “I know, that’s why I’m here too.”
When they finally brought the King to the room, he was lying motionless in his bed. As two nurses and a respiratory therapist attended the king, Kyuhyun stepped out into the hallway with a doctor. The doctor explained to Kyuhyun that the blood transfusion was successful and they didn’t believe the King would need more, but that they would monitor him nonetheless.
In the emergency room, the King had gone into cardiac arrest due to shock. They had restarted his heart twice and was now hooked up to a heart monitor. Due to his unconscious state and, should his body go into shock once more, the King was also given a ventilator. An IV was set up as well. The soft hums of these machines pierced the silence in the room once the nurses and respiratory therapist left. The clear liquid in the IV dripped; its sound was startling clear in the silence.
After a moment, Kyuhyun re-entered the room, but stood back by the door. Sooyoung had fallen to her knees at the King’s bedside, one hand gripping the side rail as her other hand clasped the King’s. Her tall but thin frame shook, her face buried into the mattress, her cries muffled. Taeyeon’s hands shook as she gripped the armrests. Her jaw trembled as she bit down hard, trying to swallow her cries as her vision blurred.
Junsu took one look at her and turned to leave, wanting to give the family their privacy. He got as far as the door when Kyuhyun’s voice reached him, quiet but firm, “You stayed with her all this time… don’t leave her when she needs you the most.”
Junsu turned his head to look at the prince, but Kyuhyun didn’t look at him, his gaze glued to his father. “I’m not family, I don’t belong here at time like this…” His voice lowered considerably, his tone harsh with self-loathing, “Damn it, not too long ago I wanted this to happen to the King! I don’t have any right to be here!”
“At least wait in the hall… she’ll want you to be here when she’s done,” Kyuhyun stated, “She’ll want you.”
“She has you,” Junsu countered,
Kyuhyun finally met his gaze, “She needs you.”
Junsu felt a tight contraction in his chest. He found it hard to breathe as he swallowed hard. After a moment, he nodded once and stepped into the hallway, closing the door silently behind him.
It was some time before Taeyeon finally looked back for Junsu. She caught her brother’s eye and he walked over immediately. Without saying anything, he pushed her chair, opened the door and led her out into the hallway. Junsu stood against the opposite wall, hands shoved into his pockets, his gaze to the ground. At the sound of the rubber wheels against the floor’s tiles, he looked up.
Taeyeon had locked eyes with him for barely a second before she inhaled sharply and bit down on her lip until she tasted blood. Hearing her, Kyuhyun looked down in time to see the first tear of many slip down her paled face. With just a look between him and Kyuhyun, Junsu took hold of the wheelchair’s handles and began to push Taeyeon down the hall. She had been holding back her feelings this entire time; he knew she didn’t want to be in an open hallway when her restraint broke.
They were silent as they got onto the elevator and rode it one floor below. They were silent as they slowly made their way down the hall and around two corners. They were silent as they entered her private room. Junsu closed the door behind him and pushed the chair closer to her bed. He knelt and gently lifted Taeyeon, straightening and lifting her into his arms. Then – and only then – did she finally allow herself to cry.
He held her against his chest as she clasped both hands over her mouth to dull the volume of her cries. Her body began to tremble and he wanted nothing more than to hold her. He carried her over to his chair. He sat down and slowly sat her on his lap. One arm wrapped behind her, supporting her, the other arm reached over, his hand cradling the side of her face against his heart. Finally, her hands lowered from her mouth as she turned her face into his shirt, hugging her arms around her aching torso.
Junsu said nothing, his mind filled with thoughts surrounding the King. For so long he had truly believed that removing the King would bring Seoul and South Korea back to its former glory. However, just the other day he had seen the King differently, seen him as just a man. He saw the King as a father to Taeyeon, loving and caring just as his own father treated him back home. He saw the King as a father to Kyuhyun, Sooyoung and even Eunhyuk. He saw their emotions, felt the sadness and worry envelope that quiet room on the floor above. He now saw the King as more than just the ruler of South Korea and saw that the King was more than just a crown to his family. He had been naïve and stupid to believe for one moment that assassinating the King would solve all of the country’s problems.
His thoughts and senses slowly escaping his reverie, they became saturated with the princess in his arms. Her sobs were shaking her body and her tears were soaking his shirt. In a very short time, his attraction to the princess had surpassed that of the physical sense. In an even shorter time, she had become very dear to him, very important to him. Knowing what caused her tears and pain now; knowing that he once had slanderous thoughts against the King – no… against her father – burdened his heart like no other. He knew the pain he felt in his chest was not just for her alone, but braided with his guilt.
“It hurts… Junsu, it hurts so much,” she croaked, her voice breaking and shaking as she clutched a fist against her heart.
“I know,” he murmured softly. He pressed his lips against the crown of her head, “I know.”
Eunhyuk walked with Kyuhyun to the elevators, leaving Sooyoung in the room to say goodbye to the still unconscious King before she returned to the royal house. They stopped before the elevator and Eunhyuk pressed the ‘down’ button.
“Are you sure you’re okay to stay here overnight?” Kyuhyun looked at him hesitantly,
Eunhyuk nodded, his eyes searching Kyuhyun’s face; he had seem distracted all evening. “I’ve been sleeping all day and it’s not like I’ll be running a marathon. Just get some rest and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Kyuhyun nodded silently as Sooyoung appeared out of the room and slowly made her way towards them, a certain spring missing from her step. By the time she reached them, the elevator doors slid open. She gave Eunhyuk a quick hug and saying nothing, she walked past them both and entered the elevator. Kyuhyun followed her, but before the doors could slide close, Eunhyuk waved a hand between the doors, catching the sensor.
Kyuhyun, who hadn’t walked far into the elevator, looked at him quizzically, “H-H-… Noona?”
Keeping one hand by the sensor, Eunhyuk stepped towards Kyuhyun, clasping his free hand on his shoulder, “You don’t have to act so strong when I’m around,” he said quietly, loud enough for just Kyuhyun to hear. He gave a small, supportive smile before stepping out and removing his hand from the sensor.
The doors began to shut again, when Kyuhyun caught the sensor, stepping between the elevator carriage and the floor. Eunhyuk looked at him, silently questioning. Suddenly, Kyuhyun pulled Eunhyuk to him, wrapping his arms around his waist as he buried his face against his shoulder. Startled at first, Eunhyuk finally sighed with relief, wrapping his arms around Kyuhyun’s shoulders.
Looking past Kyuhyun, Eunhyuk caught Sooyoung staring, just as astonished as he. Her eyes brimming with tears, she dropped her gaze in an attempt to give them privacy, but reached out to press a button to keep the doors open. Kyuhyun hugged him with a strength Eunhyuk never realized he possessed, with a desperation he had never sensed in his cousin. Since Kyuhyun had been born, Kyuhyun had never depended on him like this, let alone hug him as such. Oh, Kyuhyun would go to him for advice and other things along that line, but the closest Kyuhyun ever came to seeking comfort from him was when the Queen died just weeks after Sooyoung had been born. They were at the cemetery and Kyuhyun, just over two years old, had slipped his little hand into his and that was all. That’s all there ever was.
Eunhyuk always knew what a burden it was for Kyuhyun to assume the alpha male role amongst the children in the royal house. However, the degree of it was never quite clear to him until now. Eunhyuk realized – as he held his cousin who was still silencing his cries, but visibly shaking in his arms, and who was probably fighting back his tears, but still soaking through the thick material of his pea coat – that he had been so caught up in his own problems, of hiding the secret, of the secret’s burden on him, that he had failed to see past himself. He never thought himself a selfish person and, in truth, if he were purposefully so, Sooyoung would have told him. Now, however, he was sure the only one aware of his unintended selfishness was Kyuhyun.
Slowly, Kyuhyun straightened, turning his face away as he quickly swiped at traitorous tears. When he finally looked at Eunhyuk, his eyes were dry but remarkably red. Taking a deep breath, he offered a sheepish smile as if apologizing for his momentary weakness; as if the occasion called for an apology. If it did, Eunhyuk thought, it should not come from you of all people.
As Kyuhyun stepped back into the elevator and Sooyoung released the button, Eunhyuk watched silently. Kyuhyun threw him a bigger smile, as if he had recollected his calm, his mask of strength sliding into place as the elevator doors began to slide close. After the doors shut, Kyuhyun’s smile flashed in his mind and tortured Eunhyuk’s heart.
After all these years - after everything they’ve been through, after everything Kyuhyun’s had to deal with because of Eunhyuk’s secret – Kyuhyun did not begrudge Eunhyuk a single bit. And that hurt more than the thought of Donghae’s betrayal and continued absence.
Sighing heavily, his heart aching and his mind deep in thought, Eunhyuk turned on his heel and walked back to his uncle’s room. It would be hours yet before the sun decided to rise and maybe then he’d be able to break free of the dark thoughts embracing him.
It was just after the breakfast trays were served that a knock came to the door. With the door an inch or so open, Eunhyuk called out and Junsu pushed open the door, then turning to guide Taeyeon’s wheelchair into the room. Spearing his fingers through his hair, he glanced towards Eunhyuk uneasily. Eunhyuk caught his gaze and noted that Junsu watch Taeyeon with concern. As if knowing the thoughts in his mind, Eunhyuk gestured for him to speak.
“I just wanted to go home for a bit. Change and stuff,” Junsu explained, “I’ll be back soon – an hour at the very latest.”
“Taeyeon can remain with me and when she feels the need to rest, I’ll stay with her in her room,” Eunhyuk said easily, “It’s not like Uncle knows we’re here anyway.”
Junsu nodded gratefully and after exchanging a meaningful look with the other princess, turned and left, quietly shutting the door behind him. Taeyeon, whose chair had been pushed to be just a foot away from the chair where Eunhyuk sat, kept her eyes on her father.
“He’s never looked so weak before,” Taeyeon said, almost as if Eunhyuk weren’t in the room and she were merely voicing her thoughts to herself; “I never truly thought about it until last night, but Father was never more sick than just a cold. He was always so healthy and strong. All four of us could be bedridden with the flu and he would still be the epitome of health; if not because of his ridiculously healthy constitution, then just so he could remain healthy and strong for our benefit.”
After a moment’s silence, she finally turned her head enough to look at Eunhyuk and queried, “Don’t you think so?”
Eunhyuk may have only been older than her by three years, but that was still three years more of consciousness in childhood, of understanding situations while she was still blissfully unaware of the world outside of her crib. He had seen the King’s decline after the Queen died. He had seen his withdrawal from the world in the months following his aunt’s death. Taeyeon and Sooyoung may not have known this and perhaps not even Kyuhyun recalled it, but the King had been ridiculously doting on them in the year following the Queen’s death.
As his gaze traveled back to his dormant uncle, Eunhyuk pondered Taeyeon’s words more. He even remembered to the event she referred to. She had been five and he had been eight when all four of them had caught the flu. For a month all four of them had been bedridden, it was so bad. Being oldest, Eunhyuk had recovered first and while on his way to the family dining room one day when he accidentally happened upon a conversation. One of the butlers was pleading with the King to see a doctor; he, too, had the flu. However, his uncle had refused saying the children needed him and were not to know he was also sick.
Finally looking back at his cousin, Eunhyuk locked gazes with her. Indeed, the King remained healthy and strong for their benefit, but it had all been a façade. Throughout their lives, he had remained strong for all of them. However, Taeyeon had been five and her words were a supposition; she wasn’t aware that her thoughts were the fringes of true memories.
“Yes,” Eunhyuk said, hoping she didn’t find his delay suspicious; he wouldn’t tell the King’s secrets.
A silence fell upon them as they watched the King. He seemed almost sleeping, just lying there in the bed. However, the lines that ran from him to the various machines and contraptions hooked up by the head of his bed ruthlessly kept them in the reality. A half hour must have passed, for a nurse entered to attend to the King. Eunhyuk easily left the room, pushing Taeyeon along with him. They returned to her room and Eunhyuk carefully helped her back into bed. When he sat down in the chair presumably Junsu usually occupied, Taeyeon broke the silence,
“If… If Father dies-” She began, leaning back against the half raised head of her bed.
Eunhyuk looked at her, alarmed, eyes wide, “He won’t-”
“If,” Taeyeon repeated; her voice stern as her eyes gazed out the window by her bed. The blinds had been raised and – with her view facing west – the pale streaks of morning lightly flowed into the room. “If Father dies, what will you do?”
“Me? Don’t you mean Kyuhyun?” Eunhyuk blinked, confused.
Slowly, she turned her head towards him, meeting his eyes, “Oppa,” she said, her voice soft yet warningly.
“How long?” Eunhyuk barely got out,
“Years,” she answered simply, calmly, not hint of any anger or hurt in her tone.
For a moment, Eunhyuk said nothing. For her to answer so easily, for her to confront him so readily – how long had she known? More yet, how long did it take for her to come to terms with his secret? Suddenly, his mind turned to more painful thoughts: Had she ever hated him for keeping such a secret, for betraying her trust? Had she ever thought him mean or selfish for letting the world believe the lie, for letting her believe the lie? As he stared into her eyes, the ones he knew so well, knew would show all her emotions, give away all of her deepest thoughts, he got answers to his latter questions.
“I should have told you,” Eunhyuk said quietly, tentatively, his voice slipping into its natural, deeper tone. He felt a vice over his chest.
She nodded her head, but said, “You would’ve told me eventually.”
“As the years went on, it got more and more difficult to approach the subject to you. As we were growing up, I kept telling myself I’d wait until you were older. After you turned 18, I contemplated it and yet… that’s when you began coming to me about being bullied. You trusted me when you trusted no other and I got scared that if I told you the truth about me… that I would break your trust. I knew at that point how fragile your trust was, that you readily gave it, but pulled away the moment even a hint of betrayal came your way…”
He swallowed hard. His voice had started out strong and steady, but had slowly progressed to something just above a whisper; far from the image of the Princess the world saw him as and most definitely far from the Prince he actually was.
“If I lost your trust, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to ever get it back,” Eunhyuk choked. He felt the hot sting of tears in his eyes and fought against them valiantly, his hands fisted on the armrests of his chair; “You think me better than I am if you truly believe that I would’ve told you eventually, Taeyeon… I honestly don’t even know what I would have done.”
Her gaze remained steadfastly with his, her hands lightly clasped in her lap, “I know what you would have done. You are my cousin Eunhyuk… Un...Oppa… and I love you. You’re right, I do trust easily simply because I want the happiness one gets from companionship outside of family. And you’re right, while it’s easy for me to trust someone, I do not forgive them should they hurt or betray me. But after I found out, I continued to trust you, unni – sorry, oppa, because I know you are worth trusting, that you are worth forgiving.”
Her words made it harder to keep the tears at bay. The vice over his chest seemed to tighten as years of guilt seemed to cascade upon him in those few moments. Eunhyuk had to ground his teeth together just to stop himself from crying out, from telling her to stop and that he didn’t deserve such words, such trust, such forgiveness… such love.
Her eyes crinkled and brightened as she smiled at him, “I think your secret has even deluded you to the real Eunhyuk, oppa… But at least one of us knows who he truly is.”
Her words destroyed the last of his control and for the first time in his life, showed his true weakness to her. He cried.
“Where the hell have you been!?”
If he hadn’t recognized the voice, Changmin probably would have reacted violently and defensively. However, he did recognize it and knew it to be his one and only brother. Barely batting an eyelash at Donghae who stood in the doorway to their bathroom, he crossed over to their bedroom and paused immediately. He turned back to his brother,
“What’s with the bags?” Changmin demanded, slanting a gaze at him,
“We need to leave for a bit,” Donghae explained,
“What? Why? And where do you expect us to leave to? If you’ve forgotten, we have very little money and we’re all we have left family-wise!” Changmin exclaimed,
“For once Changmin, can you just do as I say without questioning every single thing?” Donghae demanded as he turned back into the bathroom.
From the sounds echoing through the empty apartment to him, Changmin knew Donghae was packing up their few toiletries. “I wouldn’t question you if you would just stop and talk to me!”
“I am talking to you and I’m telling you to finish packing-”
“Damn it, you’re not talking to me, you’re talking at me!” Changmin argued, slamming a fist against the doorframe, “Ever since mom and dad died, that’s all you do! You just go and act without talking to me. You decide things without telling me or asking me-”
Donghae returned to the bathroom’s doorway to look at him, “I’m your hyung! I don’t need to ask you-”
“I’m not a little kid!” Changmin practically growled, his eyes narrowed dangerously, “You act as if I won’t understand things you decide to do, or as if you need to protect me-”
“I do need to protect you!”
“No you don’t-”
“YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I HAVE LEFT WHO I CAN PROTECT!”
Donghae’s words echoed in the worn-down apartment. As he turned back into the bathroom, he leaned over the sink, his hands gripping the sink to steady himself. Across the way in the bedroom doorway, Changmin stood silent. His brother’s words slowly slipped past his frustration and anger, sinking into his mind. Never before had his brother voiced such words, such sentiments. It pushed him off balance and he gripped the doorframe as his world seemed to tip.
“Mom and Dad are gone. You’re all I had left, Changmin… just you. Since then, it’s still you who I can protect. I can’t control what happens in the world, what happens to us… but I can control what happens to you… I can still protect you,” Donghae stated, his voice low but firm and, in the quiet and empty apartment, they reached his dongsaeng’s ears.
“What’s going on?” Changmin asked quietly.
He was still frustrated with his brother for constantly leaving him in ignorance, but he couldn’t stay angry at him after his declaration. Also, by his tone, Changmin knew he wouldn’t win in an argument with him, not now. Not yet. In time, hopefully soon, he’d be able to show his brother that he didn’t have to struggle so much, that they could share the burdens together.
Soon, but still, not yet.
“We need to leave… something… something’s happened and we need to leave,” Donghae said, his words reminding him of his task. He zipped close the case where he had tossed their toiletries into, “It’s not safe for us to remain here,” he said as he came out of the bathroom and headed to the bedroom.
Changmin stepped aside to let him in, instinctively putting a hand on his elbow when Donghae stumbled on his way to the mattress where two duffle bags laid open. He strode over to the closet which was already almost empty, “At least let me finish packing… you’re still healing.”
“You look like you’ve been up all night. So just sit there or lie there – I don’t care, just let me finish this,” Changmin said firmly, “If I don’t make you rest, the Princess will have my head.”
Donghae said nothing, but sat down on the mattress anyway.
As Changmin finished packing their clothes, he zipped up the duffle bags.
“Where have you been?” Donghae repeated, finally.
“I found a job washing dishes at a night club,” Changmin shrugged easily. He straightened and locked gazes with his brother, “Anything else we need to pack?”
Donghae shook his head as he stood, “There’re a few knick-knacks, but we can always come back for those when it’s…” He let his words trail off as he reached for a bag.
Changmin swooped down and picked up both, “Just lead the way,” he said briskly before his brother could begin an argument.
Donghae gestured for Changmin to precede him out the door, locking it behind him. He locked the store’s front door before meeting Changmin in the backroom which led to a back door to the alley behind the building. They walked in silence and eventually got on a bus. It was still early morning and those who could still afford to commute to work, did so by bus. Somehow, they managed to cram themselves into the packed bus, but as they rode on, it slowly got emptier as weary workers stepped off the bus to earn what little money they could during the recession.
Changmin wasn’t sure how long they had been riding. His mind had been locked on his brother who sat beside him, equally quiet and equally deep in thought. Something wasn’t right, he knew that for sure. Even before Donghae mentioned their safety, he had known, instinctively known that something was wrong. Finally, Donghae pressed the button to signal for the next stop. After departing from the bus, they walked for even longer. Through a relatively empty park, down quiet, suburban streets until, finally, Donghae led him up a small walkway to a small but well-kept house.
On the porch, Changmin raised an eyebrow at Donghae, “We’re staying at Junsu-hyung’s house?”
“Not ‘we’… You. Just you,” Donghae stated.
“I didn’t lie when I said it wasn’t safe for us to remain in our apartment… but it’s even safer for you if you don’t remain with me,” Donghae explained. “If Junsu’s still at the hospital, his mom will let you stay, just tell her I had to leave.”
Donghae turned to leave when Changmin dropped one of the bags to grab his arm, “Why do you have to leave?”
“I told you, it’s better for you to stay away from me,” Donghae grounded out, refused to look at his brother, not daring to meet his eyes and let him see the guilt he knew would be there. It encompassed all of him, how could it not also be revealed in his eyes?
“Stop protecting me like I’m still five years old, hyung!” Changmin hissed, a painful lump forming in his throat. He swallowed hard, trying to push away the fingers of dread that were clawing away at him, “Hyung-”
“Just one more time,” Donghae said. This time, his tone was quiet, almost pleading. Startled, Changmin’s grip slackened, his fingers wrapped limply around his brother’s arm. However, Donghae didn’t pull away. Not yet. “One. Last. Time.”
Changmin couldn’t stop the cold from sweeping through his body. Something was going on and, as always, he had no power to stop it. Since their parents’ death, he had always gotten annoyed at his brother’s over-protectiveness, his presumptuous attitude of self-scarification. However, now as he felt a worry for his brother unlike all other – a worry for Donghae’s very wellbeing – Changmin suddenly understood. He understood the grip of protectiveness that stole over one’s heart, the consuming thought that he had to do everything and anything to protect what he could because – as Donghae had confessed earlier – it was the last thing he had control over.
Once again, though, Donghae refused to give Changmin that control. Donghae wanted to protect Changmin from such emotions, such responsibilities and burdens. With three words whispered so desperately, Changmin felt his very soul quake at the thought of letting Donghae face this – whatever it was - alone. With those three words, he also knew, he couldn’t stop him. Changmin hesitantly dropped his hand away. For a moment, Donghae was still, almost as if he would turn around.
Instead, he left. Changmin watched as Donghae ran off, sweeping away with him all of their burdens.
Once again, without any regard for himself.
After the nurse assured both Eunhyuk and Taeyeon that the King still hadn’t woken up, and after the nurse had attended to Taeyeon’s injuries, they were once again left to themselves. Taeyeon had turned on the television in the room, some drama or another playing, the volume just loud enough for her to hear. Eunhyuk sat in the chair, slightly angled to face the television as if he truly gave a damn about what was playing. Idly, he sat there, playing with his long hair, pulling it over one shoulder and aimlessly braiding the dark tresses.
Taeyeon glanced at him, “It really is ridiculous how pretty your hair is and, being how you are, can’t even appreciate it.”
“I appreciate it… just not as much as girls do,” Eunhyuk shrugged easily.
Taeyeon shook her head lightly before glancing at the clock before reverting her gaze to the television. Eunhyuk caught her. After he had composed himself – not an easy feat with Taeyeon comforting him which only made him feel worse – they had talked comfortably, quietly as Taeyeon inquired of how he had kept the façade going for so long. That had been for almost an hour and the nurse had been in the room for another quarter hour. Taeyeon had been furtively glancing at the clock in steady, frequent intervals and Eunhyuk didn’t blame her; Junsu had been gone for over an hour.
“Taeyeon…” Eunhyuk began, not truly sure how to continue.
He knew what he wanted to say, indeed, he knew what he wanted to do and, now that Taeyeon knew, he was able to say and do what he wanted: be the protective oppa. He wasn’t sure how it felt different, trying to protect and defend her as a guy. While they were growing up, he had protected her and defended her just fine as a girl. However, something felt different. Even though he was still acting the way he usually was with Taeyeon, something fundamental was different.
At his silence, she turned her gaze from the television, “Yes?”
“You’ve known Junsu… what, two days? Yesterday, you knew him for barely twelve hours and already you were accepting his hugs, seeking out his comfort,” Eunhyuk said, his words stilted as he tried to feel his way through his thoughts,
“You mean instead of your comfort,” Taeyeon prompted,
“Yes,” Eunhyuk almost growled. That affected him on another level. It wasn’t just that she sought out comfort from a guy, it was also that she sought out from a comfort from a guy while turning down his. After years of being a sort of knight for her – albeit, one in a Hanbok – he wasn’t too happy of letting the role go to someone else. “But I’m your cousin, and you’ve known me all your life. You’ve known him-“
“For only two days,” Taeyeon finished. “I know it seems crazy, but Junsu-sshi hasn’t given me a reason not to trust him. He’s comforted me and stayed by me… this is the first time he’s left my side since the night of our birthday ball.”
“But what do you truly know about him? Do you even know if he has a job? What he does?” Eunhyuk questioned, his voice sounding almost desperate.
Taeyeon blinked, tilting her head slightly, “Honestly, I know quite a bit… I feel as if I’ve known him for two decades, not two years. All this time, when it’s just Junsu-sshi and me, we talk.”
“What do you talk about?” Eunhyuk asked.
“Him,” Taeyeon said simply. At Eunhyuk’s confused expression, she continued, “For all the trust I freely give… I don’t… I don’t like talking about myself. Until I’m sure – if it ever happened – that I needed to give someone my trust a second time, then and only then am I willing to let them know me. Not just the princess, but me – Taeyeon.”
“So you talked about him and he was okay with just that?”
“He knew almost instantly that I didn’t want to talk about myself,” Taeyeon explained, “So, I guess as a way to break the ice… to coax me out of my shell, he told me about when he first met Donghae and how he had been scared to make a new friend.” She smiled ruefully at her cousin, “That backfired though, because then I kept asking him about himself and he answered all my questions – freely and without hesitance.”
Taeyeon nodded loyally, “Even if we touched on something deep like when he almost lost his brother in a car accident… he still told me about it.” Seeing the scepticism in Eunhyuk’s eyes, she said, “I know… I was startled too. I thought he spoke freely – too freely. So-”
“You called him on it,”
Taeyeon nodded, a small smile on her lips; Eunhyuk knew her too well. “Yes. If I feel for an instant someone is being fake with me, I need to know – especially before their being fake can hurt me. He explained that while there have been hard and sad times in his past, that’s what it is – the past. He will still feel sadness when he remembers, but it is the past and he won’t shy away from it. He said not talking about something makes it even more difficult to be happy again.”
The silence fell between them again as Eunhyuk formulated his thoughts. Taeyeon had the same childhood he did: sheltered. When she went off to university, she was met with harsh reality; he was surprised that hadn’t changed the innocent way she trusted a person upon first meeting them. However, as she continued in university and continued to be bullied, he saw that while she still had a generous heart, she had gained a bit of steel in her spine and a better understanding of people. He knew she was a loner at school, but it wasn’t from people not trying to make friends with her; it was from her knowing they wouldn’t turn out to be real friends. Somehow, over the past two years, Taeyeon remained innocent without being naïve.
Knowing the accuracy of her perceptiveness of other people – of their character, their hearts, their minds – he knew that if she trusted someone, if she called them a friend, then they were truly worthy of it. Unfortunately, he also couldn’t deny that when she decided to open her heart to someone – as he was sure she was doing with Junsu – then that person would never betray her. He ran both hands through his hair, pulling the silky strands from its loose braid. When he looked up, Taeyeon was watching him, her head slightly tilted in consideration.
“Unni… sorry, this is going to take getting used to…Oppa… what is this really about? You know me… You know me… So why are you asking about what I know about Junsu-sshi?” She asked.
Eunhyuk had the urge to laugh at himself. He did know Taeyeon. One of the upsides of pretending to be a girl meant he got closer to Taeyeon than Kyuhyun ever did. On the other hand, it meant she knew him, too. He assumed the reason they both displayed their emotions in their eyes was because they were so close, developing the same habits.
“Did he ever tell you how I met Donghae?” Eunhyuk asked quietly.
She blinked a moment before her expression softened, “Yes, Junsu told me about the syndicate.” She looked away, seemingly staring at the wall as her eyes crinkled in thought, “It’s… a difficult thing to accept. In all actuality… if I didn’t know Junsu was honest about his regret and how adamant he was about his changed opinion of Father… I wouldn’t have been able to accept it… or him.” She shook her head gently before looking back at Eunhyuk, “Honestly, it’ll be some time before I can see Father without thinking how Junsu used to think… without thinking ‘What if Junsu had been the one sent after Father?’…”
“So Junsu’s already gained your forgiveness and trust a second time,” Eunhyuk stated,
She shook her head, “He never lost it the first time.”
“Knowing what you know… your father laying in a room a floor above us… doesn’t it make you wonder?” Eunhyuk asked, looking away as if he didn’t dare meet her eyes,
“When I saw Father lying there, it wasn’t the first thought that came to mind. After, when I was going back to my room, all I thought was ‘What if it had been Junsu?’ and then… I did wonder. Even though he had been with me for two days straight, I wondered…” She leaned back against her pillows, crossing her arms loosely about her torso. Her gaze had dropped, but Eunhyuk caught a glance at a small smile on her lips, “But then he went to help me back into my bed… and he handled me so gently and carefully… I knew I was wrong to have doubted him and I started crying. Father was in the hospital and when I realized I had doubted the first friend I’ve ever made… that pushed me over the edge.”
Eunhyuk felt that vice over his chest again, this time for a different reason. He knew how much Taeyeon struggled with other people, how much she had longed for a friend outside of the royal house. Somehow, despite all that, he still managed to be jealous of her. She had made a friend – perhaps more – and had such a steadfast loyalty to him, unwavering faith while he…
The tightness in his chest increased, but this time it was centred on a specific spot on the left side of his chest. Donghae had come to mean a lot to him in a short amount of time. Donghae had kept his secret from even Junsu, who, seemed to be his best friend. Donghae had comforted him, been there for him. From the moment that they forged their unconventional friendship, Donghae had done nothing to warrant his distrust and yet he still…
He finally met his cousin’s eyes, “Taeyeon, how did you know you were wrong?”
“The way he acted spoke a lot to me.” She tilted her head again as she regarded Eunhyuk, “The way he acted towards me made me look deeper into what I know for sure about Junsu. We haven’t known each other for long, but if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have stayed here. If he helped put Father in the hospital, he didn’t have to stay with me afterwards. Reflecting on all of this… I knew.”
“I’m scared,” Eunhyuk choked,
“Of what?” Taeyeon asked tentatively,
“Being wrong,” he admitted as he stood up, pacing towards a window. “In the beginning I was so sure – so damn sure – that Donghae wasn’t the assassin he was sent to be… when I was told that Uncle had been attacked, my first thought – the very first – was Donghae’s name… what if I had been fooled? What if he had been waiting until all guards against him were down to strike again? I trusted him and if he had been playing me this entire time… what does that say of me?”
“It says you’re human,” Taeyeon said simply, “I think what we get in our heads… as the royal family… I think we believe ourselves above the normal faults that affect other people. I’m not saying we’re bad people. Rather, I think it’s a combination of the vanity of being royalty and the pedestal we’re forced upon. As royalty, as the leaders of this country, we have to be perfect. We have to project this perfect image, this flawless character. We cannot make mistakes. We cannot be stupid or foolish because if we were, the people would stop believing in us. What makes us royalty isn’t our blood; it’s the people’s support.”
When Eunhyuk turned to look at his cousin, she had gotten out of bed and stood by the wheelchair, her back straight and one arm loosely wrapped around her torso. Her eyes were bright as usual, a small, sad, understanding smile on her lips. Slowly, he approached her, patting the top of her head affectionately,
“How’d you get to be so wise?” He asked with a light chuckle,
She took his hand from her head, but when she lowered their hands, she didn’t let go. She squeezed it before slowly lowering herself into the wheelchair, “Let’s go back to Father.”
When they returned to the King’s room, both Sooyoung and Kyuhyun had returned. Rolling the wheelchair in, Sooyoung was sitting on a chair at the bedside, while Kyuhyun stood leaning against a wall, arms loosely crossed. Eunhyuk pushed Taeyeon’s wheelchair to park beside Sooyoung’s chair, and then walked over to Kyuhyun.
“You told Sooyoung,” Kyuhyun stated,
“No, she found out,” Eunhyuk corrected, “She talked to you about it?”
“More like… attacked me on the ride here this morning,” Kyuhyun rolled his eyes.
“What did she say?” Eunhyuk asked as he glanced at his youngest cousin. She had reached out and grabbed her sister’s hand, holding it firmly. The two conversed quietly, reservedly as they kept their eyes on their father.
“Well, I’ll relay it to you in a shorter and quieter version: You should’ve told me,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “That’s the gist of it. I think, anyway. After the first five or so minutes of her yelling I started to block her out – at least, tried to… she’s very loud.”
“She really is,” Eunhyuk laughed softly, “But she’s right, we should have told her. I don’t know why we ever thought it best we keep it from both Sooyoung and Taeyeon.”
“She told you she knows, huh?” Eunhyuk nodded at the question. Kyuhyun glanced at the oldest of his younger sisters, “I was surprised when she told me. After all this time I thought we were so careful, but she’s known for years apparently.”
Eunhyuk nodded again and added, “I can’t say I’m too surprised, she’s very perceptive and never fails to read me.”
“Where’s that Junsu guy?” Kyuhyun asked,
“Went home to change; understandable considering he’s been here since the ball,” Eunhyuk answered. He sighed heavily, “At least he hasn’t gone and disappeared.”
Kyuhyun blinked and then turned to Eunhyuk, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you, but I’ve been so tired and worried about Father I keep forgetting. About Donghae-”
Suddenly, a loud siren emitted from the heart monitor. Four pairs of eyes swung towards the machine by the head of the King’s bed. Across the black screen, the green line was horizontal, not a single jagged edge. The door burst open as two nurses came running in. Sooyoung had jumped from her chair, pulling back Taeyeon’s wheelchair just in time before the nurses trampled over them.
A doctor ran in then, “What’s going on?”
“The King’s gone into cardiac arrest,” one of the nurses stated, his eyes on the heart monitor,
“Go grab the AED!” The doctor exclaimed to one of the nurses as she approached the head of the bed. “Grab that side rail,” she told the male nurse, “We need to start to attempt to resuscitate.”
The nurse nodded as he lowered the railing at his side, the doctor doing the same on her side. From a nearby cabinet, she grabbed a bag-valve-mask and tossed it to the nurse who stood at the right side of the King’s bed. He covered the King’s nose and mouth with it and waited for the doctor’s signal. She clasped her hands over the centre of the King’s chest and began to do compressions. Just after the nurse was signalled to squeeze the bag, inflating the King’s lungs, the other nurse returned with the AED.
Immediately, the nurse and doctor who had begun resuscitation began to untie the King’s hospital gown. Pulling the gown down to his waist, the nurse handed the doctor the paddles. She placed them in the appropriate spot,
“Clear!” Her voice rang loud.
The King’s torso jolted from the bed before dropping back down with a soft thud. The line on the heart monitor remained unfazed,
“Clear!” The doctor called again.
Still the line remained straight.
“Why isn’t it working!?” Sooyoung demanded, her bright eyes wild.
“Get them all out of here,” The doctor ordered to one of the nurses.
Immediately, one of the nurses walked over and began to hurriedly escort them out of the room. Eunhyuk had begun to roll Taeyeon out of the room right after the doctor’s words, but he saw the stiff way she held herself. Sooyoung, however, began arguing with the nurse, demanding she stay in the room with her father.
“Ma’am, I understand this is difficult for you, but we need to do our job and we can’t have any distractions,” the nurse stated calmly, gesturing towards the open door where Eunhyuk and Taeyeon had already disappeared through.
Kyuhyun grabbed his sister’s upper arms, “C’mon Sooyoung, we can wait in the hallway.”
He had dragged her almost to the door as she fought against him, pulling back towards her father’s bed, “No!” She argued, one arm slipping from Kyuhyun’s grasp, the force of her movements causing her to stumble and fall to her knees,
“DADDY!” She exclaimed, tears pouring down the sides of her cheeks.
The line remained straight.
The man looked over his shoulder at the door. It had slammed open and now his friend stood in the doorway, his body heaving from his heavy breathing.
“Donghae,” he slowly rose to his full height,
“It was you, wasn’t it? It couldn’t have been anyone else but you! I trusted you!” Donghae exclaimed, “You were supposed to be my friend, Shiwon!”
“I AM YOUR FRIEND!” He argued as Donghae closed the distance between them, “WHAT I DID WAS FOR YOU! FOR SEOUL! FOR KOREA!”
“I told you because I thought I could trust you!” Donghae accused, “When I told you and Junsu I had failed my mission… when I told you two how we had gotten the bedroom wrong and that’s how I met the Princess – I told you all of that as a friend!”
“I did what you couldn’t do!” Shiwon stated, eyes narrowed dangerously before turning back to his desk where a backpack sat open. A stack of clothes beside it, he began shoving them into the backpack, “I did what was planned! What had to be done!”
Donghae grabbed his shoulder, forcing him back to face him, “WHY!? Why couldn’t you just let it be!?” He demanded, “I had given up on the mission! Damn it – I GAVE UP ON THE SYNDICATE!”
“You owed them Donghae! You can’t just give up on the syndicate after they’ve given you money! Just because you lost sight of what we’re working for, doesn’t mean I did too,” Shiwon said,
“You son of a… You’re the one who told the syndicate where I was, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU!?” Donghae demanded before taking a step back, “Of course you did… they didn’t know where I lived… I always went to them or they sent you or Junsu to me… How could you Shiwon? After how many years of friendship – HOW COULD YOU BETRAY ME!?”
“What I did – it’s greater than the both of us Donghae,” Shiwon declared, “It’s for all of Korea that I killed the King! Once Korea returns to its former glory I’ll be remembered as a hero!”
“You’ll be remembered as a fool!” Donghae argued, “You didn’t even kill the King!”
“What?” Shiwon’s expression suddenly dropped, his face going pale in seconds, “W-what are you talking about!?”
“The King’s still alive,” Donghae practically growled, “I should kill you Shiwon. For betraying me, for sending those syndicate thugs to me – damn it, what if I hadn’t been there!? WHAT IF THEY HAD ATTACKED CHANGMIN!?” He had suddenly lunged towards Shiwon, grasping his collar firmly in his hands, “You were supposed to be my friend and not only do you put me in danger, but you put my little brother in danger too! I should kill you right now, Shiwon. I should damn our friendship to hell like you’ve obviously done and just kill you right now.”
“Then do it,” Shiwon spat, dark eyes glinting, not a single light of remorse in them.
“I should… but I won’t,” Donghae released him, pushing him back against the desk, “Because no matter what you did… you were still my friend and in honour of that memory, I’m not going to kill you,” he turned to leave, “I’ll leave that to the authorities.”
He made it to the door when he heard a distinctive click behind him. He froze immediately, didn’t even dare breathe as Shiwon called to him, “Then I can’t let you leave this room alive, Donghae.”
“Your gun would’ve been more affective against the King,” Donghae mocked as he fought the urge to shake.
“A gun would have alerted my presence much sooner than a knife, as you know considering it was your mission to begin with,” Shiwon said as he slowly crossed the room, his gun never wavering.
Donghae fought the urge to flinch when he felt the barrel’s rim against his back between his shoulder blades. He swallowed hard and managed to laugh bitterly, “When I heard the King had been attacked, I knew only two other people knew that his room wasn’t on the second floor as we assumed. Considering Junsu was at the hospital, that left just you. You know what I thought when your name came to my mind, Shiwon?”
“No, what?” Shiwon replied, his flat tone holding a hint of curiosity,
“That it had to be someone else. That one of my two best friends couldn’t have done it…” Donghae shut his eyes, trying to collect his thoughts and calm his nerves, “But then I saw the knife and I knew.”
“What knife? I didn’t leave it behind!” Shiwon defended firmly,
“This one!” Donghae suddenly ducked away from the gun,
He turned around; slashing towards Shiwon with a knife he had hidden in his sleeve. Shiwon tried to follow Donghae with his gun, crying out as he felt pain rip across his chest. He jerked backwards, his finger slipping on the trigger of the gun. Aimed haphazardly at Donghae, he shot before stumbling backwards and falling to the ground.
The sound of the fire echoed in the room. The sound of Donghae’s body dropping to the floor followed immediately afterwards.
(Chapter 7: Beyond Words)