(Phase 6 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Six: Silent Chaose
What had he done?
His room was shrouded in darkness, the curtains still drawn over all the windows in his room. Usually he liked his curtains open during the night, allowing the pale moonlight to enter and fill the dark spaces. This time, however, he avoided it, didn’t want the light to enter his room. He was afraid that if he opened the curtains, then he would begin to see things clearly – too clearly – and he was afraid that what he saw was something he would hate.
He had made a decision. He believed it was the right one and yet, at what cost? His heart was still hammering at the memory of it, even though he was left alone in his room hours ago. Slowly, trance-like, he raised a hand to the left side of his neck and ran the tip of a finger along the smooth, unbroken skin where he was sure he could still feel pain. It was there that he was bitten, from where his blood was drunk.
After it had happened, after he regained his composure, he had run to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He looked the same, but something felt different; something essential. He had examined his neck thoroughly, but the skin looked untouched except for a smudge of crimson on his pale skin. He had scrubbed it away with a face towel and when the water had run dry, he had scrubbed more until his skin felt rubbed raw and tender.
There were no bite marks, he should’ve known. After he had calmed down, he recalled all that had happened. The younger man had bit his own thumb and used his own healing blood to close the punctures. The idiot wasn’t healing properly as it was and yet he was still willing to spare his own blood for another?
Blood. That’s where it all began.
The other man had needed blood, desperately, and so, he had given it. After years of hunting vampires, he had gone against everything he believed in and fed a vampire his own blood. He felt as if he should feel dirty or tainted somehow, and yet, he couldn’t; didn’t. He felt as if he should feel guilty or ashamed for some reason, and yet, he didn’t; wouldn’t ever.
Even after it happened, after the realization that he had to go against his own principles, he still felt he did the right thing. His mind was a tornado of thoughts and his heart was being pulled in two different directions of the past and the present. Up until that evening, he knew what he believed: vampires were evil and must be eliminated. But then Jo Kyuhyun came into his life and suddenly, all his beliefs and morals were challenged, tested and proved wrong. Suddenly, the basic foundation of his life had shattered and he felt disoriented, confused and lost. So, so lost.
He no longer knew what to believe anymore. He no longer knew what to trust anymore. All his experiences, his instincts had all been concentrated and honed on the belief that vampires needed to die. But now…
Abruptly, he stood from his seat at the desk and turned on the light. The room was illuminated by the yellow light as he returned to his desk and began opening drawers, pulling out papers and folders. In the bottom drawer of his desk, he found the most important thing he would need: his passport.
He inhaled deeply the cold, crisp air of the spring night as he stood on the school’s roof. It was mid-April, but the snow on the campus refused to acknowledge the change in season. He stood away from the edge of the roof since it had no fence or guards around it. Students were not allowed on the roof, but during his second year at SJA, he had figured out a way to unlock the door and escape to the roof. It gave him a place to escape to when he wanted to avoid the loud bustle of the school’s population. He tilted his face towards the bright moon in the sky and allowed his eyes to close; it was the only natural light he’d be able to feel on his face again.
A wind embraced him and he wrapped his arms around his torso. It had been so long since he was last up there, especially since he could no longer escape to the roof during the day. He had a single room this year and he could now also talk to Sungmin if he needed a friend. But this night, he needed to escape everything and everyone. This night, against all better judgement, he had taken the final step in becoming a vampire: he drank human blood.
His entire body shivered at the thought.
Opening his eyes, he slowly raised one hand to his lips. He remembered what it tasted like when the first drop touched his tongue. It was warm, coppery and at first, he rejected the taste. But then slowly, ever so slowly, something changed. Whether it was the taste or himself, something changed and his body began to crave more and more. At first, he drank tentatively but then, as his body realized it was finally getting what it wanted, he began to grow greedy, his body warming and practically thrumming from delight. When he finally stopped and licked his lips, it was the first time in so long since he felt completely satisfied.
His body was satiated and happy; he, however, was not. For so long he fought against having to drink human blood. He had hoped that, in time, his body would succumb to his will but, in the end, he was the one to surrender to his body’s will. His body had reacted to having human blood and he had to acknowledge bitterly that it was nice to have his body calmed. He had long forgotten what it was like to have his body not constantly feeling starved, depraved and agitated. He had forgotten what physical serenity was.
But now, his mind was torn. Yes, his body was happy, but what of himself? He hated what he had become, hated that he was the one to be bitten and transformed. He hated how he couldn’t walk outside when the sun was out. He hated how he had to avoid physical contact because the moment he touched someone, their thoughts bombarded his mind. He hated how once the sun set, more of his vampiric attributes appeared and he couldn’t look in the mirror or find his own shadow. He hated how, from the moment he was bitten, he had lost all ability to see…
He looked around him, but in the night with bare trees and snow covering everything, the world was still a combination of greys and white. Even the night sky looked an endless expanse of jet black. He turned his hand to face him, his eyes searching his thumb. The skin had already healed, but the memory was still there.
He knew from research that a vampire’s recuperative abilities could be found in their own blood. Minor scrapes and scratches could be healed almost instantly, but larger injuries, fatal injuries were more complicated. After he had… fed… he had used his own blood to seal the bite on the older man’s neck. He remembered the slight pinch as he punctured his own skin. He remembered as a fat drop of blood accumulated. He remembered the contrast of the blood’s bright red against his pale skin.
Red; he had seen colour.
When he realized that his world had been turned to shades of grey, it had been a dark day for him. But now, he could see colours again. Now, after he had drunken human blood.
His heart contracted painfully. Turning his back to the moon, he slipped back into the school and sought out the darkness of his room. He didn’t want any more moonlight to illuminate what he had become.
Three days later; Third week of April 20XX
It was Monday. He hated Mondays.
His students trudged into the room, apparently not too pleased with it being Monday either. As the seats filled, he noticed that the desk in the back near the door remained empty along with the desk just in front of it. He casually swept his gaze across the classroom, taking special notice of the back corner. It wasn’t until the very last second when a familiar figure ran into the room and plopped down in her desk. The desk behind hers remained empty.
She looked, out of sorts, which wasn’t right at all. He had known her for almost thirteen years and never was she disoriented or disorganized in any way. However, when she bustled into the room at the last minute, he saw immediately that her uniform wasn’t as neat as it usually was, the tail end of her button-up sticking out from beneath her school sweater, and her hair, although pulled back in a pony-tail, looked a tad bit tangled at the end.
Something was bothering Taeyeon and that, in turn, bothered him. How he got through that class’s lesson, he’ll never know because the bell signalling the end of first period rang before he even realized it. As the class began to pack their things, Sungmin called out,
“Kim Taeyeon-sshi, a word please,” He said formally, flippantly as if she were just another student. His problem, however, was that she wasn’t just another student. She was always Taeyeon to him and, if anyone came close to beating Kyuhyun in his life, it was her.
As the class emptied, Taeyeon, slipping her backpack on, made her way to the front of the classroom. Glancing over her shoulder to ensure that no one else was there, she looked back at him, “Something wrong?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Sungmin said simply as he sat at his desk. He leaned back in his wooden chair, crossing his arms loosely about his torso, “Is something wrong with Kyuhyun?”
“Ah… no. I went to meet him for breakfast, but he never showed up. I waited up until the last minute, but still, he didn’t show up,” Taeyeon said lightly, but the dullness in her eyes belied her true feelings of worry; “He’s probably just sleeping in all day again like last time.”
Sungmin glanced towards the windows, “It is bright out today. At least the snow’s melting now.”
Taeyeon nodded, “Yeah.” She turned to leave, but then looked back at him, “Um… have you noticed anything different with Kyuhyun lately?”
Sungmin shook his head, “Other than the fact that he hasn’t stopped by my room over the past three days, no, not really.”
“He… he hasn’t?” Taeyeon blinked, obviously confused, “Not once?”
Sungmin shook his head again, “Usually I can tell when he’s been in my room. Rumpled sheets, the curtains closed, my desk chair not where I left it –”
“He really isn’t one for subtlety,” Taeyeon interjected,
“ –and for the last three days, my room’s been kept particularly neat,” Sungmin said, “That’s a good thing, right? It means his blood lust isn’t affecting him so much when he’s out and about in the school.”
Taeyeon raised her hand to her face, beginning to chew on the tip of her thumb, “I don’t know… If his blood lust isn’t affecting him, it could mean he doesn’t need to lust for blood anymore.”
“Like… you mean he’s… feeding?” Sungmin asked quietly,
“But that’s so impossible,” Taeyeon sighed, “Kyuhyun would never… and he hasn’t said anything to me… he would’ve said something to me,” she declared, more of an assurance to herself than anything, “He… He hasn’t said a lot to me lately.”
“When was the last time you spoke to him?” Sungmin inquired,
“Last night, before I went down to dinner,” Taeyeon said. She raised her hand and began to run her slender fingers through her dark hair, intending to pull out the hair tie. However, half-way down her ponytail, the tie refused to continue on and she cried out. “Damn tangled hair.”
Sungmin blinked, “Why is it even tangled to begin with?” He asked as he stood from his chair and came around the desk to her side,
“If you must know, when I said I was waiting for Kyuhyun, what I really meant was that I’ve been waiting for him since last night, after dinner, and at some point I fell asleep,” Taeyeon murmured, “I’m pretty sure some of the Monitors saw me, too.”
Sungmin chuckled softly as he watched her trying to pull her hair into view and trying to untangle the offending elastic from her long locks. He watched as her brows furrowed in concentration and her delicate fingers tugged and twisted the tie and strands of hair. Slowly, she began chewing on her bottom lip as she was wont to do during times of great concentration or great frustration. Finally having pity on her, he swatted her hands away and took over the task of detangling her hair,
“I have never seen you, Kim Taeyeon, so flustered before,” Sungmin said quietly, amusement colouring his tone,
“Yes well, I don’t usually make it a habit to fall asleep in corridors,” she defended, crossing her arms again, “I completely blame my cousin.”
As she watched Sungmin work on her hair, she noticed how she didn’t feel even the slightest pull on her hair. She furtively examined him; soft, fox-like eyes which always seemed to understand. Nimble fingers which looked as delicate as her own, but held so much more strength. Her eyes subtly dropped to his lips which had always been quick to smile and slow to scowl.
She wasn’t sure what it was, but something about Sungmin had always lured her into a confidence she never found with her cousin. Granted, she and Kyuhyun had no secrets between them – none from her side, at least – but her cousin wasn’t always around when she needed someone the most. And when Kyuhyun wasn’t around, that was when she found Sungmin.
Sungmin laughed lightly, slightly, “You know, that’s the first time I heard you refer to Kyuhyun in that way since I started here. I bet from a third-party perspective, they’d think you two were dating.”
“That’s the point,” Taeyeon admitted simply, easily, “It’s hard to keep up my studies while having to dodge, dismiss and deter boys, too.”
“That many, huh?” Sungmin asked casually, keeping his eyes concentrated on untangling the hair tie. He knew that if she saw directly into his eyes, she’d know instantly that he was dead serious about his statement and didn’t like the prospects at all.
When he first met her, she was a nuisance, a pest disrupting the perfect harmony of his and Kyuhyun’s budding friendship. He became jealous of her almost immediately because of the easy way Kyuhyun spoke to her and the way he knew – always knew – that she was first in his confidences. He had always suppressed an exasperated groan when she appeared at his side when they were children and had always tried all he could to convince Kyuhyun to do things that a girl wouldn’t like doing. Unfortunate for him, Taeyeon didn’t know what girls were supposed to like doing, Kyuhyun being her constant companion.
Growing up, Sungmin always had a grudging approval that she seemed to make Kyuhyun more comfortable and, surprisingly, made Kyuhyun’s parents seem less… distant; his mother, at least. This like-hate relationship he had for Taeyeon continued on through their childhood until one day, it changed.
He remembered it so clearly. She was ten and he was thirteen when –
“There,” Sungmin said, presenting her with the freed hair tie. After he dropped it into her open hand, he swiftly moved away from her, trying to calm himself quickly. He hadn’t meant to reminisce so much, hadn’t meant for his body to respond to those memories. For a moment, he could remember the initial grudge and growing jealous. For a moment, he could remember the feel of her smaller hand in his…
“Thank you,” Taeyeon said as she tried to comb her fingers through the ends of her hair, trying to detangle it herself,
“You know, if you keep acting like you’re with Kyuhyun, you’ll never get the chance to meet anyone; what if you miss out on meeting ‘the one’ because of your charade?” Sungmin inquired matter-of-factly, forcing himself to move away and lean his hips back against the edge of his desk.
“Who says I haven’t met ‘the one’?” Taeyeon challenged lightly, raising a single, perfectly shaped eyebrow to emphasize her question.
Sungmin felt a peculiar, but distinct stabbing sensation on the left side of his heart. He was unaware that she had a similar reaction to his apparent obliviousness to who she wanted and thus, caused her to lash out, hoping to get some kind of reaction from him.
“Well, if you have, then he must be a great guy,” Sungmin offered, forcing an easy smile to his lips and hoping his eyes responded in kind,
Taeyeon felt her heart trying to beat again, but it couldn’t – wouldn’t – as Sungmin’s flippant, encouraging words echoed over and over in her mind.
Sungmin saw her emotions play on her face clearly, almost as if she vocalized them herself; she was never good at hiding her feelings. He had hurt her, insulted her in some way, but how? He hadn’t seen Kyuhyun for two years; he hadn’t seen her for even longer. In that time, had she found someone, fallen in love and had her heart broken? Had his light comment awakened painful memories for her?
His heart began to twist and contort painfully as he tried to understand how he had clearly hurt her. His heart hurt at the thought of her loving someone else. His heart hurt even more at the thought of her being left heartbroken.
He needed to distract her, pull her away from whatever painful thoughts he had invoked. Silently apologizing, he grasped the first thought that came to mind, “You said Kyuhyun hasn’t been speaking to you a lot lately?”
Taeyeon nodded distractedly, trying to piece back her resolve, her composure, her heart…
“Maybe he’s just weaker than we thought?” Sungmin suggested, “He’s getting thinner and after what Zhou Mi said last Friday –”
“Zhou Mi?” Taeyeon looked at him, her pain momentarily forgotten,
“The literature teacher,” Sungmin elaborated, “He came to me last Friday talking about Kyuhyun’s growing weakness and how he needs to feed.”
“He talked to me, too,” Taeyeon admitted, beginning to chew on the tip of her thumb again, “Maybe he knows what’s going on with Kyuhyun. Since starting SJA he’s become more quiet and withdrawn, but never when he was around me. But now, I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall and it started the day Seonsaeng-nim talked to me. Maybe I should talk to him? He might know something?”
Sungmin shrugged, “You’ll have to wait until Friday at the earliest.”
Taeyeon blinked, “What? Why?”
“I thought he’s your teacher,” Sungmin stated,
“Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Taeyeon explained, “Why would I have to wait until Friday to talk to him?”
“He’s gone,” Sungmin explained, “All of his classes for this week are cancelled, didn’t you hear the announcement during breakfast?”
“Did you not hear me say that I fell asleep in a corridor?” Taeyeon countered as she pulled her hair – now free from tangles – back into a neat ponytail, “Well, where did he go?”
“I’m hardly in his confidences,” Sungmin scoffed, “All the teachers were told was that he had some personal business to take care of and that he wouldn’t be back until Friday at the latest.”
“When did he leave?” Taeyeon inquired,
“Well, Eeteuk… I mean, the headmaster, only told us before breakfast, but Zhou Mi’s and my room are quite close to each other. The last time I saw him was Friday, so he could’ve left then,” Sungmin replied,
Taeyeon chewed on her bottom lip as she crossed her arms, “Do you think Kyuhyun’s become withdrawn because he left? Could they have formed a sort of… attachment? No, no… Kyuhyun would have told me. Besides, if Kyuhyun felt anything for Seonsaeng-nim, I would’ve known.”
“Because you’re so good at detecting feelings,” Sungmin mocked bluntly.
Taeyeon locked her gaze on him, startled, “What?”
Sungmin sighed, knowing he couldn’t – wouldn’t – lie to her, “I’m just saying that sometimes, you’re pretty dense when it comes to other people’s emotions.”
Taeyeon could feel her heart stopping again, feeling as if a cold hand was squeezing it until it shattered. This time, when she bit her bottom lip, it was to stop herself from crying out. Sungmin watched with horror as her big, bright eyes dulled immediately and glassed over with unshed tears. He said nothing – could say nothing with his heart painfully lodged in his throat – as she turned and ran out of the classroom.
He turned his gaze away from the bright, hot sun, shutting his eyes tightly. His body was practically curled into a ball; his back pressed against the solidity of the wall, his knees bent to his chest and his arms wrapped around his legs. He turned his face to the side, allowing the wall to cool the warm skin of his temple.
He felt warm, hot – burning – and he tried to push away his thoughts, tried to concentrate on just conserving his energy and moving when need be. He tightened his arms around his legs and clenched his eyes close even tighter. He felt weak, ridiculously so, and found it even hard to just breathe normally. He pressed his back firmly against the wall, turning his face as far away from the sunlight as possible.
For once, his thoughts moved away from a particular, older man and focused on wondering when the sun would set.
He stood there silently, posture ramrod straight and hands clasped behind his back. His gaze was unwavering and completely dry. He read the words over and over again, almost like a chant, a silent prayer of sorts. The wind around him was cool, tousling his hair, caressing his face and embracing him completely.
His thoughts and emotions were a mess. They were tangled, braided and every time he tried to unwind them, detach them and separate them, they would tighten their hold on each other, twisting more, becoming more complicated.
The sound of someone clearing their voice broke his concentration and pulled him out of his reverie. He heard the shuffle of a pair of feet, but still he did not move, waiting to see if it was imperative he do so. Until then, he would remain still and keep his sorrowful vigil.
“Sir, it’s a phone call.”
He said nothing. He heard soft, tentative footsteps until, finally, in his periphery, he saw the appearance of a young man who had worked for him since his last promotion. He saw the shape of a cellular phone being held up,
“He said he’s from the Japanese branch.”
Sighing heavily, he bowed and then turned to the young man, “Let’s go. This is the last place where I want to talk business.”
As he took the phone and led the way, the young man looked back over his shoulder, “What is this place, Sir? I mean… who are they?”
He paused for half a breath before he continued on his way, relishing in the cold comfort of the wind. He barely whispered his words, allowing them to float and follow whatever path they wished on the swirling, dancing and bitterly cold wind; “My family.”
“You. Are. An. Idiot.”
“It’s so obvious he cares about him; I thought it was a good risk to take.”
Heechul slanted him a gaze. He moved his feet, which had been propped up on a corner of his desk in the nurse’s office, to the floor and crossed his arms, “Did you forget for one sentimental moment, that he is from the Council? For all you know, he could be tricking you just so he can find out secrets like Kyuhyun’s!”
“I was hoping – in my so-called sentimental moment – to appeal to his humanistic side,” Eeteuk defended, crossing his arms.
“What if he doesn’t have one?” He challenged, “I know you saw the good in Kangin, even after he transformed, but that was after knowing the good before he did. You don’t know Zhou Mi all that well and you sure as hell shouldn’t be looking for the good in him.”
“There’s good in everyone, Heechul,” Eeteuk sighed, “Why do you think I let those brats come back to this school year after year?”
“Because this school runs on tuition,” Heechul replied flatly; “And if there’s good in everyone, why don’t you make friends with the Council?”
“I’m friends with Hankyung,” Eeteuk defended,
“He’s not even part of the Council. He’s just the grandson of the founder of Korea’s branch,” Heechul scoffed. He shook his head as he looked away, “Has anything untoward happened since you told Zhou Mi the truth?”
Eeteuk shook his head, “It’s been three weeks and nothing’s happened. If I was wrong to tell him, the Council would’ve been here so fast long ago.”
“Has Hankyung said anything?” Heechul inquired,
Eeteuk shook his head again, “No and why should he? He doesn’t know about Kyuhyun and if Zhou Mi won’t tell the Council, I don’t think he’ll tell Hankyung either.” He sighed as he began to pace before Heechul’s desk, “I didn’t really think about it until he requested this week off… but… but I still feel like I did the right thing. All Zhou Mi had to do was request for a Hunter to be sent down and that’d be the end of that. But, it’s been three weeks and nothing happened which is a good sign.”
“Until he requested this week off,” Heechul remarked,
“Until he requested this week off,” Eeteuk repeated in resigned reaffirmation.
“Well, you said that he said personal business, so couldn’t it just be that?” Heechul reasoned,
“And if it isn’t just that?” Eeteuk challenged.
Heechul sighed and then simply repeated, “You. Are. An. Idiot.”
The sun was setting, that had to be a good sign. However, he wasn’t sure how much he had moved as the day progressed. He felt hot all over and the temptation to just throw off his clothes had grown as the heat intensified, but he fought the lure. The shadows were longer now, colder now and he wished they could’ve been like that all day. He wished he could have blocked out the sun all day.
He was exhausted and he could feel his body raging for blood. He knew he would be agitated, frustrated and in a pure rage if it wasn’t for the simple fact that he was too weak to move. The sun had threatened him since it rose in the morning and he was unable to shutter it away as he usually was able to.
He slowly slumped against the cool floor, his side relishing in the feel of it as he pressed his back against the cool wall behind him. Legs loosely curled to his stomach, his arms weakly wrapped around his torso, he wanted to sleep so badly. He wanted to just let go of the last of his strength and just fall asleep. However, he knew he couldn’t, not with the sun still above the horizon.
Just a few more hours, he thought over and over again in a silent prayer.
He was tired – oh, so tired – and, as the day continued, he had lost his focus on avoiding the sunlight as thoughts of the older man slipped into his mind and crept on the fringes of his awareness. As he fought a battle with avoiding the sunlight, he fought another battle in his mind between needing to concentrate at the situation at hand and wanting to think of him.
The floor beneath him felt so cool, so soothing against his heated cheek. His eyelids felt heavier and heavier. He shivered in the coolness, darkness of the shadows; was thankful for them.
He blinked. Just a few more hours until the sun was gone. He blinked again. Just a few more hours and then, he could rest. He blinked again. Why hadn’t he seen him since that night? He blinked again. Just a few more… why did he keep thinking about him? He blinked again. Then, he blinked no more.
He hadn’t been sleeping.
In fact, since he retreated to his room after dinner, he had lain awake in the darkness, hands laced behind his head and his eyes staring at the ceiling. He wanted to sleep; the day had been uneventful and seemed longer than any other day. However, his thoughts kept returning to the exchange he had with Taeyeon.
He repeated all she said, all the emotions he read on her face and he just didn’t understand. Something had hurt her, obviously, and it was emotional, it usually was in concern with her, but what was it? Had there been some idiotic schoolboy that took her heart and broke it? He felt his hands twitch behind his skull, barely suppressing the need to fist and clench in anger. Or perhaps worse – an unrequited love?
He inhaled slowly, deeply; it hit too close to home. If that had been the case, then he understood her words, her emotions perfectly. After all, hadn’t he been living with unrequited love since he was thirteen? Seven years was a long time to love and not be loved back.
He thought back to when his feelings for her had a dramatic change. He remembered how startled he was to find her on his doorstep. He remembered the first idiotic – jealous – words out of his mouth was “Kyuhyun’s not here”. He remembered the first time he saw pain slash through her usually bright, shining eyes. He remembered the first time his heart reacted to her.
Slowly, Sungmin rolled onto his side, pillowing his cheek on his folded hands. What would’ve happened if she walked away that day? What would’ve happened if he let her leave that day? He could still remember the heart-stopping moment when she almost left him. Instinctively, he had reached out and grabbed her hand, stopping her.
He felt his heart begin to pound hard, mirroring its beat from that day seven years ago. His heart pounded to the point where he could physically hear it crashing over and over again against his ribs…
Sungmin sat up with a jolt; that wasn’t his heart he was hearing. Startled, confused, he rolled off the bed and padded over to the door. He opened it and was startled anew to find Taeyeon there.
“Taeyeon? What are you doing here?” Sungmin asked,
“It’s Kyuhyun,” she explained, gasping for air.
He noticed then the way her whole body shook with each breath and the way she was leaning against the doorframe as if that were the only thing keeping her up. Hearing Kyuhyun’s name on her lips caused two simultaneous reactions that occurred constantly where she was concerned and which only began when he was thirteen and she was ten.
Ruthlessly, he pushed away his emotions and asked, alarmed, “What is it? Is he okay?”
“That’s the thing, I don’t know,” Taeyeon cried, pushing both hands into her hair, the tie sliding off and her hair falling down her back from her agitated movement. “I… I… I don’t know.”
“What? What do you mean?” He took a hold of her shoulders, gently squeezing to focus her attention, to make her concentrate; “What’s going on, Taeyeon?”
“I went to Kyuhyun’s room after dinner and… and it was unlocked… I… I…”
Sungmin slightly shook her, silently begging her to concentrate, to make sense, “What is it, Taeyeon?”
“He’s gone. Kyuhyun’s left Shim Jang Academy!”
(Phase 7: To Bring Him Back)