(Chapter 7 of the Beyond Words series.)
Chapter Seven: Beyond Words
Well if you only knew the pain that I’ve been through.
Since when did it become all about you?
As you can see from the start I’ve said the truth,
but if the truth means nothing to you,
then what am I supposed to do?
In his life to this point, Eunhyuk had never anticipated such a small thing meaning so much to him. In different circumstances, different contexts, it meant something different, something less significant. But in the hospital, amidst the chaos within one hospital room as he looked in from a hallway filled of silence, it meant everything and more. Standing just outside of the doorway, one arm wrapped around Taeyeon’s shoulder, the other hand clasped in hers, they watched as the line on the King’s heart monitor showed a break and became jagged.
Just inside the room, Kyuhyun still held Sooyoung’s arm as she grew silent, fallen on her knees on the ground. As the monitor began to softly beep in time with the King’s newly regained heartbeat, all the chaos, all the noise died away, emphasizing that steady beeping sound and the soft hum of the machines monitoring the King’s life. The doctor and her two nurses sighed with collective relief. She handed the paddles of the AED to the nurse who had gotten it,
“I want at least one of you to monitor the King for the next half hour and check in every half hour afterwards. I want blood drawn, see how the transfusion went and if he needs more blood or not.” The doctor instructed as she came around the bed towards Kyuhyun and Sooyoung, “I know after what happened that I’m asking a lot, but please leave the room at least for the next half hour.” The doctor came towards the doorway and Eunhyuk immediately pulled Taeyeon to the side, “Your highness, for this brief time, I ask that you rest in your room. I know you don’t want to leave your father, but I have a feeling if I allowed your health to decline as well, I’ll have to answer to the King.”
“Doctor… thank you,” Taeyeon barely managed, her voice breaking and barely above a whisper.
The doctor offered a small smile, a tentative bow of her head and walked away.
“The doctor’s right,” Eunhyuk said softly, his voice quiet.
He led her to her wheelchair just a few feet away, and helped her sit down. He looked back just in time to see Kyuhyun half-lead, half-carry Sooyoung out of the room, closing the door behind them. They caught each other’s gazes and slowly, the four of them made their way to Taeyeon’s room until they would be readmitted to the King’s room.
After Taeyeon settled into her bed with Eunhyuk’s assistance, the four of them fell into a tense silence. Kyuhyun had pushed Sooyoung down into the chair where Junsu usually resided and then stepped back and leaned against a wall, alongside Eunhyuk. Taeyeon swept her gaze over her siblings and cousin before her eyes rested on the wall clock. Clenching her fists in her lap, she anxiously looked to her cousin.
She trusted easily, she knew that, but she had also placed a lot of faith in Junsu in the short amount of time they’d known one another. He said he’d return before an hour after he left, but when she realized he had been gone for over an hour and a half, she grew nervous. If he said he would return within sixty minutes, she believed him completely. If he didn’t return by then, she knew something must have happened, must have deterred him from returning on time.
Feeling her gaze, Eunhyuk looked up and read her emotions and thoughts easily. He took a step forward towards her, intending to whisper his support when the door burst open. Junsu had one hand on the door, one on his hip as he was bent over, breathing heavily. Eunhyuk looked at Taeyeon, but her attention was completely absorbed with the other man.
After a second, Junsu straightened, but it was obvious he was still catching his breath as he gasped between sentences, “I ran… fast as I… they told me about your dad… flat-lined” Disregarding the other three people in the room, Junsu crossed over to Taeyeon immediately, his hands cradling her face, “Okay; are you… are you okay?”
Taeyeon covered his hands with her own and although she nodded silently, he felt the tremble in her delicate fingers. Junsu brushed his lips against her forehead, “I would’ve been here soon,” he insisted when suddenly his hands dropped from her face and he turned to Eunhyuk. With one hand idly searching for one of Taeyeon’s, he gripped it firmly as he took a deep breath and stated, “But I had to help Donghae.”
Eunhyuk, who had busied himself with holding back Kyuhyun from attacking Junsu’s blatant actions towards Taeyeon, suddenly spun around to face Junsu, eyes wide, “What? What do you mean?”
“He went after the King‘s attacker,” Junsu explained and only then did Taeyeon notice the subtle shaking of his body, “I had just gotten home and before I could even greet my parents, the doorbell rang, and Donghae’s brother was there-”
Junsu nodded, suddenly finding it hard to continue his story, “He… He said Donghae told him that something happened, that they had to leave their apartment. He said Donghae told him that he was safer without Donghae and that his brother was protecting him from something or someone.”
He took a deep steadying breath, but it was only after Taeyeon comfortingly squeezed his hand did he continue, “After what happened to the King I realized what Donghae was thinking… After he met you, Donghae cut off all his connections to the syndicate. The syndicate believed your bedroom belonged to the King and that’s how you first met him… although I was also part of the syndicate, I was Donghae’s friend first and foremost and he explained to me his mistake. That meant the King’s bedroom could be located in only one place: the third floor.
“I swear I have never repeated that information to anyone, even outside of the syndicate. When Taeyeon and I were told the King was in the hospital, I didn’t think of it before… not until Changmin told me what happened but outside of the Royal House, only three people knew the syndicate was wrong in their mapping of the house,” Junsu continued, “Donghae, myself and our friend Shiwon… I realized what Donghae had and went after him with Changmin.”
Suddenly, Eunhyuk was before Junsu and was gripping his collar tightly, eyes narrowed dangerously, “What happened? Why isn’t Donghae with you?”
“When we got there, Donghae had just fallen to the ground,” Junsu had to force his words through his teeth, had to force away the tears stinging his eyes, “Shiwon had shot him in the abdomen-”
“HE STILL HASN’T HEALED FROM HIS PAST INJURIES!”
“They’re operating on him right now,” Junsu finished, “They… they just began.”
Eunhyuk felt coldness sweep over his body. He felt as if all his strength had left him. Kyuhyun put a hand on his wrist and Eunhyuk let go of Junsu’s collar. His hand still on Eunhyuk’s wrist, he led him out of the room and into the hallway. He faced his cousin, “You don’t have to act so strong when I’m around,” Kyuhyun repeated the words Eunhyuk had first said to him.
Eunhyuk looked away as tears filled his eyes, “I… I want to go see him.”
“Then go,” Kyuhyun insisted, “Even if I wasn’t here, I… I know Taeyeon’s safe with Junsu. And the doctors and nurses are keeping a watch on Father… Go to Donghae.”
“I don’t have any right to go see him,” Eunhyuk muttered quietly.
Before Kyuhyun could question him on it, a nurse approached them. “Your Highnesses,” he bowed, “The King has awoken and asked to see you.”
“Which one?” Kyuhyun asked as Eunhyuk subtly wiped away his tears,
“He just asked for his children,” the nurse explained. He looked over at Eunhyuk, “He made me promise to emphasize he wants to see all of his children.”
Kyuhyun thanked the nurse then peeked his head back into the room to tell his sisters the news.
“They’ve been in there for a long time,” Taeyeon stated quietly. She, her siblings and Eunhyuk all were in the hallway outside of the King’s room. For the past ten minutes, Junsu had been closeted in the room with the King. She looked over at Kyuhyun, “What do you think is going on in there?”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “You know Father already approves.”
“Yes but-” she trailed off when Junsu quietly exited,
“Princess,” Junsu looked at Eunhyuk, “The King wants to speak to you next.” As Eunhyuk tentatively disappeared into the room, Junsu went to Taeyeon’s side. He saw the concern in her eyes and offered a small smile, “I know your father’s going to be just fine when he starts lecturing me about treating his daughter well.”
Taeyeon took his hand and squeezed it, “He wasn’t too hard on you?”
Junsu shook his head. Then, he looked through the open door, “What do you think they’re talking about?”
“I don’t know, but I hope oppa hurries it up, I want to talk to my father,” Sooyoung muttered resentfully, arms crossed.
Junsu turned his eyes to Sooyoung, “What do you mean by ‘oppa’?”
And I’ll still love you,
beyond what words will say.
I’ll take your every suffering moment
and bring a better day.
I’ll still love you
more then what I hope to be.
Let me wrap my arms around you,
let me take your breath away.
“How are you feeling Uncle?” Eunhyuk asked as he slowly sank into the chair at his bedside,
“Like I’ve just been stabbed. Oh wait, I have just been stabbed,” the King smiled. When Eunhyuk shot him a slanted look, he laughed softly, “Too early to joke about that, huh?”
“There’ll never be a time when you can joke about that,” Eunhyuk muttered, “Especially if Sooyoung’s around; if she hears you joke about that…”
“I heard her call me ‘daddy’,” the King admitted quietly. Eunhyuk saw a peculiar happiness infuse his uncle’s face. He had seen his uncle be happy before and it wasn’t as if his uncle was a cold man. However, after his aunt had died and he began to distance himself, his uncle had never shown this particular happiness in a long time. It was the kind of happiness intertwined with serenity. Then, he asked, “Are you feeling better? Hypothermia of all things.”
Eunhyuk sighed, “I’m fine. But… there are some things I wanted to talk to you about Uncle.”
“Go right ahead, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon,” he chuckled softly.
“When you were shot, it caused a lot of anxiety for people in our family and those of the public,” Eunhyuk explained, “The government is on edge because to this day you still haven’t named your successor. Even though we all know it’s Kyuhyun, there still hasn’t been an official announcement.”
“Planning my funeral before I’m dead?” his uncle immediately added, “Yes, yes I know… too soon to joke.”
“I know you’re fine now Uncle, and I’m not trying to be morbid, but I think you’re healthy enough to leave this hospital you should go make it official,” Eunhyuk said, “I think it’s time that you give the government and the people the peace of mind they’ve been waiting for and just confirm their beliefs of Kyuhyun succeeding you. If you don’t and… and something were to happen… Kyuhyun would still succeed you, but it would look as if he didn’t have your support and if the country saw it like that…”
Eunhyuk sighed as he pulled back his long hair and tied it into a high pony-tail, “We always saw you as invincible. When we were growing up, you always seemed as if you were invincible. After you getting stabbed last night… Uncle, you need to make it official that Kyuhyun is your successor so that when he does succeed the throne, then no one can have any doubts about him.”
“Who says Kyuhyun is my successor?” The King challenged.
Eunhyuk blinked, “What? But he’s the only prince-”
“If there’s one thing I learned about getting stabbed, it is that life is shorter than we realize, Eunhyuk,” the King stated, “That no matter how hard we try, there will always be someone better than us, bigger than us that can take what we have.” He locked eyes with his nephew, “I had no right to take the throne from you Eunhyuk.”
“You were just protecting me,” Eunhyuk stated, fists clenched on the armrests of his chair,
“True, I was protecting you from a fate no one could protect me from,” the King admitted, “But I still shouldn’t have done it. Your aunt was right and I never could admit that to her, so I’m admitting it to you. I wanted to protect you with all my heart because my brother and sister-in-law had died; because the moment they put you in my arms you became my child. I wanted to protect you so badly, Eunhyuk, that I broke the law and I lied to the entire country; the entire world. I lied to the people who trust me to protect them and lead them. I should have given you the chance to choose the throne or not, but instead, I took that choice away from you.”
“I hated you for taking away my being a prince. That I couldn’t act like the other boys, that I couldn’t dress like other boys,” Eunhyuk said simply, honestly, “But I have never begrudged you for taking the throne.”
“I can’t protect you anymore, Eunhyuk,” the King said with an almost palpable sadness, “I don’t care what the law says about a princess succeeding the throne. You are my successor.”
And every time I ask
you assure you’re doing fine,
but your heart looks good by smiling,
you couldn’t fool mine.
And by the end of the night your pilliow sits to dry,
in a crowded room your singing,
but on the inside you sigh.
As his cousins filtered in, Eunhyuk stepped back and leaned against the wall near the doorway, Junsu standing sentry near him. As he watched his cousins talked with his uncle, Eunhyuk finally turned his head to face Junsu, “Yes?”
“I should’ve known,” Junsu sighed, as he looked away,
Eunhyuk blinked, “Should’ve known what?”
“Even if you were with Donghae I should’ve felt something towards you. I’ve always been like that with the girls,” Junsu shook his head lightly, “It’s like I’m drawn to them or something. But with you, there was never any of that and I never questioned it simply because you were with Donghae. Now it makes so much sense.”
Eunhyuk blinked some more before managing a weak, “How?”
“Princess Sooyoung called you ‘oppa’,” Junsu explained,
Eunhyuk sighed, “I knew there was a reason why we don’t tell her stuff.” After a moment, he looked back at Junsu, “You don’t… hate me now do you?”
Junsu looked at him, slightly confused, “Well… are you still the same person you were before I found out?” Eunhyuk nodded; “Then I have no reason to hate you.”
“But… but I lied to you,” Eunhyuk stated,
“If you lying meant anything about your character, then maybe I’d hate you. But from what Donghae’s told me and from how I’ve seen you treat him… from how you take care of Taeyeon and how much she loves you… I know you’re a good person your highness,” Junsu said simply, “If you lied, I would like to believe there was a reason. Was there?”
“Then I have no reason to hate you,” Junsu repeated. He offered a smile, “Those who know you, Princess, know what kind of person you truly are. Have a little faith in them.”
“No, Daddy, it is NOT funny to joke about dying!” Sooyoung exclaimed, jumping from her chair with her hands on her hip, “Do not make me go to the cemetery and tell Mother!”
“Calm down Sooyoung, I was just joking,” the King said then quickly added, “And I won’t do it again.”
“You better not,” she muttered, crossing her arms and plopping back down into her seat.
“And Taeyeon, I heard you’ll be discharged today,” the King stated.
Taeyeon nodded, “They said for broken ribs all they can really do is give me some pain medication and advise me on to how to avoid furthering the injuries as my ribs heal on their own.” As her father opened his mouth to say something, Taeyeon caught a peculiar light in his eyes, “I am not quitting university!”
“I am the King and I am your father and if I say you are leaving that school, you are leaving that school!” The King practically yelled before falling into a fit of coughing and wheezing. Kyuhyun, who had been standing by the head of the bed, reached and rubbed his father’s back as he turned on his side to ease the pain as he coughed. When he was done, he looked back at his eldest daughter, “You can stay at the Royal House and learn just like how your brother and cousin do.”
“I’ve survived two years, I’ll survive another two,” Taeyeon argued,
“Broken ribs, Taeyeon. This isn’t just someone stealing your lunch money on the playground! They hurt you! They could have killed you!” The King stated, his voice laced with anger, “You are going to tell me who did this and we are going to-”
“Father,” Taeyeon said sternly. She had risen from her wheelchair and now slowly came beside him. She placed a hand over his, “Calm down. We’ll deal with this once you’re better, okay?”
“But we ARE going to deal with this, right?” her father demanded,
Taeyeon looked over her shoulder at Junsu and then, finally, at Eunhyuk, “Yes,” she answered, “I can’t keep running away just because I’m scared.”
The King followed her gaze to his nephew and suddenly prompted, “Where’s your friend Donghae? I want to thank him.”
“Thank him for what?” Eunhyuk asked,
“When I was first brought to the hospital, I needed a blood transfusion,” his uncle explained, “Donghae was the only one with ‘A’ negative.”
“He… He did what?” Eunhyuk stammered.
“Taeyeon, Sooyoung, stay with Father, I’ll be right back,” Kyuhyun said as he immediately gestured for Eunhyuk to leave the room, Junsu following right behind him. The moment he closed the door, Eunhyuk turned to him,
“Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t you tell me this!?” Eunhyuk demanded,
“I was going to and then Father went into cardiac arrest and I forgot,” Kyuhyun said, “Even earlier this morning before I left to go home with Sooyoung. I was going to tell you but with everything happening… I forgot and I’m sorry.”
“Donghae was the blood donor you told me about?” Junsu asked, “How did he… how was he even here when the King needed the blood transfusion?”
“When it was found out Father had been attacked, Donghae had been with me,” Kyuhyun explained, “I wasn’t sure why, but he felt at fault for it and insisted he come to the hospital with us. When the doctors told me about the blood transfusion, Donghae was with me. When they mentioned Father’s blood type, Donghae immediately stepped up… After the transfusion he went home. I asked him not to… asked him to stay in the hospital because he’d be weak and he was still recovering from his past injuries…” Kyuhyun sighed heavily, “Eunhyuk… you should go find out what’s going on with Donghae. You… You need to go and be with him.”
“I-I can’t,” Eunhyuk replied,
“The night Father was stabbed, Donghae came to me,” Kyuhyun said, “He came to me because he wanted to make sure I was okay with him being with you. He said that he needed to know I was okay with it. He came to my room and said: You are his best friend and if you don’t like me being with him, then he will never be truly happy. He wanted to make sure that everything would be okay between us if he stayed in the picture. Then, when we found out Father had been attacked, he begged me to let him come to the hospital. He gave Father blood; he is a reason why Father is still alive!
“Now… Now, he’s in surgery because he went after the person who hurt Father. He respected our friendship so much and yet he was willing to go against his own friend. He has done so much for you, the least you can do is be there for him when he’s out of surgery!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,
“That’s why I can’t!” Eunhyuk defended, “I just… I just can’t.”
Eunhyuk turned and left. Kyuhyun saw him step onto an elevator before looking back at Junsu. “Are you going to Donghae?”
“Changmin’s there and I’m going to check up on him,” Junsu confirmed, “If Taeyeon needs me-”
“Don’t worry,” Kyuhyun insisted, “Taeyeon’s fine. It’s Donghae who needs you.” He looked back towards where the elevators were located, “Donghae needs someone to be there for him.”
And I’ll still love you,
beyond what words will say.
I’ll take your every suffering moment
and bring a better day.
I’ll still love you
more then what I hope to be.
Let me wrap my arms around you,
let me take your breath away.
It wasn’t until the next morning that Kyuhyun saw his cousin again. He was helping Taeyeon into a chair at the table when Eunhyuk came in. Taeyeon swatted at her brother’s hand,
“I don’t need your help sitting down,” She muttered,
“What she really means is that she’d rather have Junsu’s help,” Eunhyuk said simply as he came into the family dining room.
“That’s not what I mean and you- Oh dear God,” Taeyeon covered her mouth with a hand.
Kyuhyun, who had turned to his cousin, also froze. Eunhyuk sat down in his usual chair and looked at them from across the table. He blinked at the two, “Yes?”
“Hyung you look…” Kyuhyun grabbed the closest chair and collapsed into it, “You look like… a hyung.”
Eunhyuk ran his hand through his black hair, now just a few inches long, his front fringe sweeping across his forehead; “So long as I still look good.” Dressed in black dress pants and a white button-up shirt with the sleeves pushed up, he began eating the moment a plate of food was laid before him.
“Is… is this why you weren’t down here for dinner?” Taeyeon asked,
“Ah, no. I took some medicine and I passed out,” Eunhyuk explained between bites, “I’m starving.”
“Is there… a reason as to why you look… as you do?” Kyuhyun asked tentatively as a plate was placed before him and Taeyeon. “And why is it that only me and Taeyeon are shocked? We’re the ones who knew.”
“So did everyone else in the house,” Eunhyuk replied as he stopped to drink, “One of the footmen told me. All the secrecy, having a wing to myself… bits and pieces clued them in, they just never said anything.”
“And his period.”
Kyuhyun nearly spat out his food at his sister’s words, “What!?”
Taeyeon barely batted an eyelash as she continued to eat, “Oppa never went through puberty, never menstruated. It’s one of the reasons I noticed, especially when I was doubled over with pain once a month and oppa was always quite healthy.”
Kyuhyun looked at Eunhyuk, “I can’t believe she’s talking to us about this!”
Eunhyuk looked up and smirked, “You forget, Kyuhyun. I’ve been a girl for the past twenty-three years.”
“So, why are you doing this… erm… did this?” Kyuhyun asked, trying to change the subject to anything that wasn’t about…
“I’m holding a press conference in a week,” Eunhyuk explained as he sat back in his chair, crossing his arms loosely, “But first, I want to talk to Uncle to get his approval. When all of this happened to Uncle I didn’t know how to react or what to think. Taeyeon,” he looked at his cousin, “made me think about what would happen should Uncle… should he… Well, anyway, all I did know at the time was that I had to protect the three of you, take responsibility. When I talked to Uncle yesterday, he said he wanted to announce me being his successor.”
“Don’t give me that look,” Kyuhyun said the moment Eunhyuk looked to him, “I’ve never wanted to be king and I sure as hell am not the right person for it. Despite having the same education and training, in the end, you have qualities and the character to lead the country, Eunhyuk.” He shrugged simply, “Besides, how could I ever be king while knowing the entire time that it should be you on the throne?”
Eunhyuk visibly sighed before continuing, “Well, I figure if Uncle’s going to name me successor, then I should do it right and under my terms. Lying to the country as a princess is fine; I stayed out of the public eye. If I’m going to be king one day, I can’t lie to the country anymore. The past few weeks have been chaotic and it seemed that from the moment Donghae came into my life I could no longer hold onto this secret. With Donghae in my life I realized I can’t continue living my life as I always had. I couldn’t wear the clothes I wanted to wear or leave the grounds whenever I wanted. I couldn’t look at a person straight in the eye or raise my head out of fear that someone would notice my Adam’s apple. I couldn’t even go out and protect my cousin.”
Taeyeon looked up then, her eyes wide with shock, “Oppa, this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of me-”
“But I couldn’t even protect you. I couldn’t protect you because I was too busy protecting myself, protecting this damn secret,” Eunhyuk sighed heavily, “The people might hate me… but at least they’ll be hating the real me. I’d rather have them hating Prince Eunhyuk than have them liking Princess Eunhyuk.”
“Have you told Donghae about that yet?” Kyuhyun asked casually as he continued eating. When Eunhyuk remained silent, he looked up, “You haven’t seen him yet have you? He’s been in recovery since yesterday afternoon and you still haven’t even tried to call him.”
“Don’t talk about something you don’t understand,” Eunhyuk warned, placing his chopsticks down,
“All I understand is that Donghae has done nothing but try and make you happy and you won’t even take a few minutes out of your damn day to go see him!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,
“I KNOW THAT!” Eunhyuk jumped to his feet, his palms slamming on the table top, “You think I don’t know all that!? You want to know why I can’t see him? Why I can’t even bear to talk to him? While Donghae was doing all of that - talking to you, giving Uncle his own blood, going after the attacker - do you know what I was doing? I was doubting him! He was doing everything he could to keep me happy and I repay him by believing him to be a traitor!
“How do you think I feel, Kyuhyun? Donghae has gone to great lengths for not just me, but our family. He has been nothing but kind and generous and caring… he has never done anything to warrant my anger or my distrust. He has never done anything wrong and somehow… and somehow still,” Eunhyuk sucked in a slow, deep breath, trying to calm himself down. “I did him the greatest insult by loving him and then not trusting him!” He stated, his voice a low growl as he glared at his cousin, “I turned my back on him when he did nothing to deserve it, so how can I waltz right in there and be by his side again? I have no right to see him, no right to be with him when I have betrayed him! So no, Kyuhyun, I won’t go see him.”
Shoving his chair back, he quietly stormed out of the family dining room.
“Oppa looks good as a prince,” Taeyeon stated as she continued eating.
Kyuhyun turned in his chair to look at her, “Did you miss what just happened!?”
Taeyeon put down her chopsticks and looked over at her brother, “No. But it’s his mistake and he needs to learn how to rectify it. Despite Eunhyuk being the oldest and despite him taking charge when Father was admitted into the hospital… despite all of that, you forget he’s finally being his true self. It’s taken him twenty-three years to step into that role. In the end, Eunhyuk is the most sheltered out of all of us.”
In a ball room there is dancing,
in a forest there are trees,
in a child there’s a hope
that keeps him in belief.
“Come in,” he said as there was a knock at the door. He blinked a moment before saying, “Donghae? What are you doing here?”
Donghae sat in a wheelchair pushed by Junsu. They remained in the doorway, silent, for what seemed like an eternity before Shiwon broke the silence.
“I’m handcuffed to the bed, I can’t attack you even if I wanted to,” Shiwon said with a small smile, his cheeks dimpling. As he was met with silence, his smile was slowly swept with a shade of sadness, “Why are you two here?”
“Because despite everything, we wanted to make sure you were okay,” Junsu said, “Isn’t that right Donghae?”
“He’s lying. He never told me we were coming to see you,” Donghae said simply, his eyes narrowed slightly as they locked onto Shiwon.
“I deserve that,” Shiwon replied. “They said in a few days I’ll be released… not that it matters. I’ll go from the hospital bed to the court house.”
“Why did you do it Shiwon?” Junsu asked finally, fully pushing Donghae into the room just enough so he could close the door and give them privacy from the hospital staff and the guard that stood sentry in the hallway. “I thought when Donghae told us about the Princess… when it was obvious he was getting attached to her, I thought we agreed to stop all this business with the syndicate.”
“We agreed to nothing!” Shiwon defended,
“IT WAS ASSUMED!” Junsu exclaimed, his hands clenching the handlebars of the wheelchair so tightly that his knuckles whitened; “The three of us have been best friends since high school. You should’ve known. You should’ve known it was assumed.”
“Junsu, let’s just go,” Donghae said, his voice low, his face expressionless now.
As Junsu began to turn the wheelchair, Shiwon spoke up, “We all had our reasons for joining the syndicate. I wanted the economy to get better so that I could go back to school again. You both know that once she lost her job, my mom got sick and… I had to get a part-time job just so we could pay for her medication. Even that wasn’t good enough. I wanted… I wanted so badly to quit school just so I could put in more hours and get more money, but she wouldn’t let me. Before we finished our first year, I got fired because my boss couldn’t pay me anymore. I couldn’t find another job. By the time we had to drop out of school, it was too late because Mom had already died…
“All she ever wanted was for me to stay in school. So… when the syndicate gave me money to help them, I saved it for school. When you failed Donghae, they were looking for others to finish the job…” Shiwon looked away, leaning his head back and staring up at the ceiling. “They offered double of what they gave to you and I knew… I knew that if I took the job, it’d be enough to do one year at school. I decided I would work hard to get a scholarship so I wouldn’t need to pay for school anymore.”
“You were willing to take a man’s life just for money,” Junsu stated,
“Hypocrites!” Shiwon barked, “You two were right there with me when we joined the syndicate! You know what it was like! Damn it, Donghae was the one given the mission in the first place! If the Princess didn’t have her hand on his balls he would’ve done the same thing, so don’t you dare start to fucking judge me when-”
“HE DIDN’T DO IT!” Junsu exclaimed, eyes narrowed, his voice a fierce growl as its raspy tone took a dangerous edge, “The difference between you and Donghae is that he didn’t go through with it. So don’t you dare start to fucking point the finger at anyone else because you and I both know that he stopped before he even met the Princess. And you sure as hell didn’t have to tell the syndicate where Donghae lived! They could have killed him Shiwon! They could have gone and killed your best friend! Why don’t you say anything!?”
“WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO SAY!?” Shiwon screamed at the ceiling, “What do you expect me to say? I can’t defend myself because it’s true. I sold Donghae out for money and I tried to kill the King for the same reason. I… I…I know what I did and I don’t need you remind me about it! You think I don’t care? That I don’t regret every fucking thing I did!? Well I do! There, are you happy? I do! You two were the only people I had left in my life and I threw it all away for… for what? Money?” He laughed bitterly, “You two wasted your time here.”
Junsu turned Donghae towards the door and was reaching for the handle to open it when he stopped and looked back at Shiwon who was still staring up at the ceiling, “And he wasn’t doing it for himself! He was doing it to support Changmin!”
He practically ripped the door open, but then Shiwon stopped them by asking, “Why did you two even bother coming? Just to rail at me while I’m down? Or is it because this is your last chance before I go to jail?”
Before Junsu could say anything, Donghae replied, “Because despite it all, we wanted to make sure you were okay. And for the record, you didn’t mean to shoot me. It was an accident… so no, we didn’t waste our time here.” Donghae looked at Junsu and nodded.
They were out the door when Shiwon called out to them, “Donghae, I am… I… I’m sorry… for everything.”
Donghae clasped his hands tightly in his lap, trying to form the right words, trying to express his feelings clearly. He recalled when the thugs had come and beat him up and remembered how all he could think of afterwards was how he was glad that Changmin had not been there. He tried to recall Shiwon from before. Tried to remember Shiwon before the money, before the desperation. He tried to remember his friend with the biggest smile in the world. He wanted to hate him, wanted to be so angry with him but he could never completely hate him or completely be angry with him. After everything that happened, a part of him could never forget the best friend he once had.
Finally, he sighed heavily and replied simply, “Sometimes, Shiwon, sorry is not enough.”
When Junsu began to push him away, Donghae relaxed and although he did sigh again, he did not look back.
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....
The conference hall in Seoul’s city hall was packed. The rows and rows of seat were filled with news reporters, cameramen and, most importantly, government officials. There was a murmur amongst the audience as speculations were created about the sudden press conference. The government was notified by the royal advisors that the Princess had requested a press conference in a week’s time and, so now, everyone was awaiting for the arrival of the Princess.
“How do I look?” Eunhyuk asked behind the doors that would lead to the platform.
“Like your father,” the King said from his wheelchair.
“You do look a lot like the late king,” one of the elderly advisors replies, “I don’t know why we didn’t see it before.”
“I blame the Hanbok,” Eunhyuk offered a small smile and was rewarded by warm smiles by all three of the King’s advisors. “This could be a mistake.”
“Being honest is never a mistake,” an advisor stated as she adjusted her glasses on the tip of her nose,
“The public may hate you or they may love you, Your Highness,” another added, “But they cannot deny the courage it is taking to admit the truth.”
Eunhyuk sighed heavily as he straightened the blazer for his suit. Dressed in a black suit with white pin-stripes, he adjusted his cuffs once more, “Maybe Kyuhyun should just be your successor.”
“Don’t listen to him,” Kyuhyun stated as he entered the anteroom followed by his sisters, all dressed in business wear. “He’s stated that at least a hundred times over the past seven days.” He approached his cousin, “The suit looks good on you.”
“You never heard this from me… but the Hanbok is more comfortable,” Eunhyuk said as he looked to his other two cousins. He muttered to Kyuhyun, “How’d you convince Sooyoung to not wear the skirt?”
“I didn’t, Taeyeon did,” Kyuhyun replied.
Both dressed in pant suits, Taeyeon and Sooyoung presented their seriousness in their royal station. Taeyeon’s white suit was starkly contrasted with Sooyoung’s dark blue suit. Taeyeon took Eunhyuk’s hands,
“You look so handsome, Oppa,” Taeyeon smiled up at him.
“So long as you never wear another Hanbok again,” Sooyoung added, flashing him a winning smile, “It’s pathetic that you look better in a Hanbok than we do.”
“Don’t worry,” Eunhyuk took her hand and squeezed it comfortingly, “I don’t plan to go back to that life.”
“Good,” she grinned, reaching and fixing his bangs, smoothing them across his forehead, “And it helps that you have great hair.”
“I still can’t believe you were the one to cut his hair,” Taeyeon stated proudly, gingerly hugging her arms against her still-tender chest.
Sooyoung stepped back and swept her gaze over her cousin’s hair before nodding approvingly, “Well if I didn’t, he was going to be all dramatic and slice it off with one of the fencing swords.”
A knock came at the door leading from the conference hall. A moment later a young man slipped in, dressed in a black suit, “Your Highness,” he bowed to the king and turned to the others, “Princes, Princesses.” He walked over to Taeyeon, and took her hand, bringing it to his lips, “Taeyeon.”
“Is it time, Junsu?” Eunhyuk asked as Kyuhyun rolled his eyes,
Junsu lowered their hands, but didn’t let go of Taeyeon’s hand, “Yes. One o’clock on the dot. They’re getting restless out there.”
One of the three advisors immediately left to announce them. Kyuhyun took his place behind his father’s wheelchair as Junsu went ahead to open the door for them. First the King and Kyuhyun went out to the platform in the conference hall. Then, Taeyeon and Sooyoung exited into the conference hall as well. Eunhyuk stepped towards the door, the King’s other two advisors behind him. He took a deep, steadying breath.
“This is the right thing to do, right Junsu? I didn’t just have a moment of insanity brought on by my hypothermia and my uncle being stabbed?” Eunhyuk looked at him, his fists clenched at his sides to keep the rest of his body from shaking.
“Remember: those who know you, know what kind of person you truly are,” Junsu offered a comforting smile, “Have a little faith.”
“You say that now, but when you have to reveal a national secret, we’ll see how faithful you’re feeling then,” Eunhyuk scoffed.
“Donghae has a lot of faith in you,” Junsu said quietly.
Eunhyuk stiffened immediately, “Junsu, please. You know how I feel.”
“Yeah, I do, which only makes me think you two are even more perfect for each other. You two and your misguided thoughts,” Junsu sighed.
Eunhyuk opened his mouth to question him when one of the advisors spoke up, “Your Highness? It’s time.”
Taking one last deep breath, Eunhyuk stepped out into the conference hall. He stepped fully away from the doorway, the two advisors behind him. He could hear the door quietly close behind him, could hear Junsu shift to stand sentry at the doors as planned.
“It gives me great honour to present to you ladies and gentlemen, finally, Prince Eunhyuk,” the advisor said at the podium.
A collective gasp swept through the crowd as Eunhyuk made his way to the podium and the advisor stepped aside for him. Eunhyuk gripped the edges of the podium as he concentrated on his breathing. His eyes moved over the crowd as the murmurs in the crowd grew louder when the initial shock faded away. Eunhyuk looked down at the speech he had written, but the words didn’t seem to make sense to him any longer. He looked behind him and the door looked temptingly close. Then, he caught sight of his uncle and his cousins who stood along the podium, watching him, supporting him. He looked back at the door where Junsu smiled his way.
He looked back down at his speech as the crowd quieted, waiting for him to speak. He could feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest and took more breaths, trying to calm himself. As he looked out at the crowd, he could only think of one thing.
I just want you to have what you were born to, Eunhyuk.
He heard Donghae’s words and that’s all he could think about. Soon, his heart wasn’t beating so fast anymore. Instead, it was twisting and clenching painfully in his chest. He felt the hot sting of tears in his eyes and viciously fought them back. When he looked down at his speech, the words made sense again, but they still didn’t feel right.
With everyone else you can fake your smiles and lie through your teeth, but not with me. Not with me, Eunhyuk.
Eunhyuk picked up his speech, folded the paper and slipped into his pant’s pocket. Looking back at the crowd, he began.
“I know you all came today anticipating a speech from Princess Eunhyuk. I’m sorry to disappoint you that she won’t be coming… she won’t ever be coming. As you can all see I am not female as you’ve all been led to believe.” A few hands began to rise and Eunhyuk held up a hand, “I ask that you first let me finish before you ask any questions. After years of lying to you all, I really don’t have any right to ask this of any of you, but I just ask that you all at least let me explain myself.”
When the hands that had risen, slowly lowered, Eunhyuk continued, “The day… well, the night, really… that I was born, several things happened which led to this lie being created.” He held up his hand, one finger straightened with the rest curled into a fist, “The first was the car crash that killed my father. Upon his death, my uncle became the King. This event led to the second.”
He straightened another finger, “My uncle told me how devastated my mother was upon hearing of my father’s death. She was so distraught she went into an early labour. She still had two months left to go in her pregnancy.”
He straightened a third finger, “I was born, but afterwards, my mother wouldn’t stop bleeding. She began to haemorrhage and, eventually, she died. I was now an orphan.” He lowered his hand as his eyes swept over the crowd, “In the span of mere hours my uncle was made king and I was born. He had never wanted the crown; he had relished being simply the second son of my grandparents. In the few hours before I was born, he already felt the pressure of being king. When I was born, he knew that pressure was now transferred to me.
“I want to emphasize the point that my uncle never wanted to be king and always fretted whenever my father got sick during their childhood. I want to emphasize this point so that when I explain how the lie came to be you cannot call him an usurper,” Eunhyuk gripped the podium edges tightly; “The pressures of being king burdened him so greatly, but when I was born and that pressure moved on to me, he realized that I was too young to feel that. As much as he hated to ascend to the throne, he didn’t want me to face the burdens and challenges of being king. He wanted to protect me as best he could. He knew what the country would face in the future and wanted to protect me even if it meant submitting to the crown.
He looked over his shoulder at his wheelchair-ridden uncle, “Regardless of what you all may think, my uncle has sacrificed himself time and time again for my sake.” He looked back at the crowd, “I know one of my uncle’s regrets is that he couldn’t protect his own son, my cousin Kyuhyun, as well.” He offered a small smile, “But I know Kyuhyun doesn’t mind because he wasn’t subjected to wearing a Hanbok as I have been.”
When he heard a few stifled laughs, Eunhyuk felt his heart lighten somewhat. He took a slow breath and continued on, “I use to resent my uncle because even though the lie of my gender protected me, it still took away being a boy for me. However, as Korea’s economy began to fall like other countries in the world, I grew grateful. Stressing over the country and working to make the country better; it all took a toll on my uncle and I saw his daily struggles. Regardless of what petty resentments I held against my uncle as I grew up, I will be eternally grateful for these twenty-three years. In creating this lie, my uncle gave me freedom, he gave me a reprieve.
“If I could do it again… I wouldn’t change a single thing of my childhood,” Eunhyuk stated and then, quickly added, “Well, except for the Hanbok thing. I cannot deny the comfort of simple jeans and a t-shirt.”
A few more stifled laughter. When Eunhyuk grew silent, the hands began to rise again. The advisor who had stepped away from the podium designated those who would ask their questions. He called upon one of the news reporters in the first seat.
“If you’re so grateful for this lie all your life, why did you decide to tell the truth now?”
“I could grow up with my cousins without worrying one day I’d have to go through the struggles of running the country. At the same time, however, there were other things I couldn’t do,” Eunhyuk explained. He looked over to his cousins, his eyes sweeping over them from youngest to eldest, “I couldn’t hug them out of fear they’d realize I had a… erm… very flat chest. I couldn’t go out and protect them from bullies, I couldn’t fight for them. I couldn’t go out and just have a good time. If I did I either wore a Hanbok or dressed to hide the fact that I was very much a man.”
Finally, Eunhyuk looked back at the reporter who had asked the question, “My uncle gave me twenty-three years to grow up as normal as possible as a prince can. Because of those years he has given me, I can now cast off this lie and be who I truly am. He gave me all he could for as long as possible, but I can no longer be selfish and I must fulfil my duty to the crown and to the country.”
Another reporter was called upon to ask their question, “After admitting to lying to the country – even the world – for years, how can you expect the country to now readily agree to your rule?”
“I can’t,” Eunhyuk replied simply, “Quite honestly, I don’t expect anyone to accept me as I am now. It’s true: I have lied to the nation for years. Despite what good intentions led to this lie, in the end a lie is still a lie. The reason I’m holding this press conference isn’t to ask the country to agree to my taking the throne. That press conference will happen once my uncle is well enough to walk again. This press conference is to ask the country to allow me to – finally – live my life honestly in the public eye. This press conference isn’t to ask for the country’s acceptance of what I have done. This press conference is to ask for the country’s understanding of why I did what I did.”
The next question came from one of the government officials: “As the Princess, you were seen several times in the presence of a young, unknown male; once at yours and Princess Taeyeon’s birthday ball, and other times at the hospital attending to your cousin. After years of pretending to be a female have you taken on a male lover?”
Eunhyuk felt the bile rose within him. The question was innocent enough, but the tone implied something worse, something degrading. He gripped the podium tighter to stop himself from jumping towards the official and strangling him. He bit down hard to stop himself from screaming and to stop his heart from jumping out of his chest and through his throat.
He closed his eyes for the briefest of moments and in that moment he remembered two definite moments. The first moment was a cool evening, a quiet moment outside a lively ballroom as a tender kiss was pressed to the top of his head. The second moment was in the darkness of his room. His entire body felt frozen, but all he could remember was the warm body beside him that held him until he fell asleep.
He felt his body and heart calm down immediately before looking the official straight in the eye and answering; “No, I have not. He was the first person outside of the family to know my secret. He showed me a boundless acceptance and confidentiality. He gave me the opportunity to be myself away from my family. He gave me the opportunity to live outside the lie while still being in the public eye.”
Eunhyuk felt his body begin to shake the longer he stared at the official. He gripped the podium even harder, “He was the one to give me the courage to stand here before you all. He was the one to give me the courage to be who I truly am. He gave me a limitless friendship and I won’t have that be tarnished.” He turned his eyes to the rest of the audience, “In the short amount of time that I have known him – this young, unknown male you describe – I have learned so much about the human heart and I have grown so much as a person that what I owe him is simply beyond words. Because of his impact on my life, that is why I am not asking for acceptance but understanding. I don’t need acceptance because I have his. He is my first friend.”
He stepped away from the podium and bowed to the audience, “Now if you excuse me, my uncle and cousin are still healing from injuries they sustained a week ago. Any more questions you may have can be directed towards the royal advisors. I will answer any questions I deem relevant to this press conference, releasing those answers to the parties whom I deem worthy to receive them.”
As he turned to leave, the crowd began to shout questions, hoping he might answer more. Junsu opened the door immediately and Eunhyuk exited, his family following close behind him. The moment he escaped into the anteroom, he began unbuttoning his blazer and tugging at his necktie to loosen it.
“Eunhyuk-oppa?” Sooyoung called, the first to enter after him.
“It’s… it’s just too tight,” he said as he pulled at his tie. When he began to struggle with his blazer, he said, “Get it off. Get it off!”
Sooyoung immediately grabbed his blazer and began pulling it off of him, “Oppa, what’s wrong?”
“I… I need to leave… Everything’s too tight… too warm… too… too,” he began to unbutton the dress shirt he wore beneath his blazer.
“Restricting?” Sooyoung offered as she stood before him, her hands on his shoulders. He looked at her and she offered him a brilliant smile, “Let’s go get some air, okay?” She reached over and fixed his bangs once more, “Before you start ruining your hair, hmm?”
He looked back at his other cousins and uncle. “We’ll be fine getting home,” Taeyeon insisted as Junsu joined her side, “Go have some time for yourself;” she looked back at the door that led back to the city hall’s conference hall, “At least, before the vultures start swooping in.”
Eunhyuk smiled gratefully before Sooyoung grabbed his wrist and began leading him away, a bright, infectious smile on her face.
And I’ll still love you,
beyond what words will say.
I’ll take your every suffering moment
and bring a better day.
I’ll still love you
more then what I hope to be.
Eunhyuk spent the day with Sooyoung. It felt good to finally be with his cousins without worrying. It felt good to be out in the world as himself. They had walked in the park as he regained his calm. Something about the final question, about how it slashed through him shattered his composure. Somehow, the question that concerned Donghae judged him and hurt him more than the other questions given to him.
Eventually, they had gone to the royal cemetery. First, they had visited his aunt, Sooyoung’s mother. Then, Sooyoung had watched from afar as Eunhyuk went over to his parents’ graves. He stood before their graves, his eyes sweeping over their names chiselled into the cement. The country – the entire world – would know soon enough of his deception, but that meant he was free; he could finally be Eunhyuk, the Prince of the late king and queen. He knew he should feel the lightest he had ever felt and yet, a heavy weight in his chest made him feel otherwise.
By the time he and Sooyoung had finally made their way home, the sun was setting on Seoul, the sky streaked with pink and orange. Upon entering the main hall, a butler appeared to inform them that dinner would be served within half an hour. So, Eunhyuk and Sooyoung had gone up the stairs to change, separating to continue on to their respective wings of the second floor.
As Eunhyuk entered his room, the sun had set considerably lower, just the barest tips of sunlight piercing into the darkness. He froze immediately, one hand still on the doorway as the silhouette by his balcony doors turned to face him.
“I heard why you didn’t visit me in the hospital.”
Eunhyuk felt as if his heart couldn’t beat, but he knew that if it could, it would be beating insanely fast. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe, but if he could, he would smell something that was essentially Donghae intertwined with his own essence that drenched his bedroom. He felt as if he couldn’t move, but if he could, he didn’t know if he would run to Donghae or simply run back out the door.
He wasn’t sure how, but he managed to move, managed to strip off his blazer and neck tie, tossing them onto the chair by his vanity as he drew closer to the other man. As he came closer to Donghae, he could see just pieces of Donghae’s face and body highlighted by the warm glow of the setting sun. By the time he stood directly before Donghae, the top button of his shirt had been ripped off when he pulled off his neck tie and his sleeves had been pushed half-way up his forearms. By the time he stood directly before Donghae, he knew that there was no more running, that he could be no where else but before this man; with this man.
Eunhyuk looked at him, locked their gazes as he fell to his knees before Donghae. He looked up at him and saw the confusion in those eyes he loved so much. He took Donghae’s hands into his own; “I failed you.” He breathed, clutching Donghae’s hands firmly, “When you have shown me and my family nothing but kindness and friendship, I thought the worse of you.”
“Yes, you did,” Donghae said simply, his words ripping Eunhyuk’s heart raw. “I told you time and time again that I was no longer of the same mind as the syndicate. I showed you time and time again how much you mean to me, how much I’ve fallen for you. I didn’t deserve your distrust.”
“If I could go back and redo everything, I would. You have no idea how much I regret doubting you so quickly, how much it hurts knowing that I insulted you so badly,” Eunhyuk stated, “But I can’t go back and redo everything. So I am kneeling before you, begging you to forgive me; begging you to give me a second chance that I don’t deserve.”
“I can’t forgive you,” Donghae replied quietly, slipping his hands from Eunhyuk’s and unknowingly taking away the Prince’s heart in the process. However, his breath was taken away when Donghae dropped to his knees as well and raising his hands to cradle his face. “I can’t forgive you when I’m not innocent either.”
Eunhyuk wanted to ask him, wanted to say something, but his voice had been lost with his breath as he felt a warm fill his chest and overflow to the rest of his limbs. He covered Donghae’s hands with his own and realized he didn’t care how much his body was shaking at that moment as Donghae stared directly into his eyes.
“We first met each other because it was my job to kill your uncle. I unknowingly gave crucial information about your house’s layout. Time and time again, I put you into danger. I thought if we became friends that you would understand my initial reasons for joining the syndicate. What I never anticipated was that your association with me would not only increase the threat against your family, but would lead to your uncle being almost killed,” Donghae said, his voice trembling with emotion as his hands remained still and firm against Eunhyuk’s jaw.
“I wanted to see you so badly Eunhyuk. I… I wanted… but I couldn’t… I knew that it was because of me that Shiwon was able to successfully attack your uncle… Knowing that, I couldn’t… I just…” He sucked in a harsh breath, trying to recompose himself but not succeeding; “I wanted to be by your side because the moment you caught me in your room, my heart was enticed. I wanted to stay by your side because the more I began to know you and understand you, my heart was captured.”
Eunhyuk felt the tears blurring his vision, fat tears rolling down his face as he tried to blink them away. Donghae brushed them away with his thumbs as he croaked, “I can’t forgive you because if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have had the need to distrust me in the first place. I can’t forgive you because I hurt you first and… and… I don’t have the right to have the power to forgive you.”
Suddenly, Eunhyuk could feel his heart beating strongly and quickly. He could breathe again, each inhaled air swirling with the essence of the man before him. His hands continued to shake over Donghae’s, but he didn’t even try to stop them. He wanted Donghae to know how much he was shaking, how nervous he was and how much this moment shook him so completely; body, mind and soul.
“Please… please say something,” Donghae croaked,
“I can’t,” Eunhyuk replied as his unsteady hands pulled Donghae’s hands from his face. With trembling hands, he cupped Donghae’s face, “There are no words I can use to describe how I’m feeling. The only words I can use are that I forgive you and you forgive me and I never want to be separated from you like I have been this past week.”
“Eunhyuk?” He managed, his voice and his eyes filled with a warm hope,
“I’m beyond words with how much I love you,” Eunhyuk stated softly, firmly. He leaned forward into Donghae’s body, into his warmth, “I love you so much, so please, never leave me again.”
Donghae felt his eyelids slide close automatically as Eunhyuk’s lips brushed against his own, “I love you too, Eunhyuk. I’ll never leave you. I’ll never leave you again… I love you so damn much.”
Their lips met in a kiss, silencing any more words, but they were both beyond words. They didn’t need words; they just needed their love for one another.
Let me wrap my arms around you.
Let me take your breath away.
(The Beyond Words Epilogue)