(Phase 11 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Eleven: To Trust Again
Kyuri raised her gaze from her brother’s battered and bruised abdomen to his face, “What?”
Kyuhyun looked away, “I saw… thoughts… memories from your past. I’m sorry they happened to you.”
Kyuri straightened. She had been examining her brother’s bruised body and they had been in silence for the past fifteen minutes. “You can’t control your telepathy yet?”
“I like to work on one aspect of my life at a time,” Kyuhyun defended, “And I thought blood lust was the best place to start.”
“Well, try to control your telepathy,” Kyuri snapped as she continued her assessment, moving on to his arms,
“You make it sound so easy,” Kyuhyun murmured, turning his gaze away,
“You know, this isn’t exactly enjoyable for me either, but it was definitely more pleasant when you were silent,” Kyuri stated hotly,
“Well, no one is forcing you to stay here,” Kyuhyun replied. From the moment he saw his twin sister, he knew she hated him or, at least, held some resentment against him. He did feel guilty for her being shipped away to Japan, but he also felt wronged because he had nothing to do with it. After everything that happened to him since being bitten and even recently, being targeted by bullies, he was tired of just sitting back and letting himself get attacked.
“Well, fine! I’ll just leave since that’ll make you happy and make your life easier!” Kyuri exclaimed. She turned and began heading to the door of the private room when Kibum appeared.
Kibum leaned a shoulder against the doorframe and simply raised an eyebrow.
“He started it,” Kyuri defended,
“I did not!” Kyuhyun retorted; affronted.
“We just got here and I hate flying. Finish your assessments,” Kibum said simply, steadily, as he walked into the room and gracefully plopped – if one could gracefully plop – into the only chair in the room. When Kyuri grudgingly returned to assessing her brother’s limbs, Kibum noticed Kyuhyun’s curious stares and merely inclined his head in acknowledgement.
“So… my dear sister has become a Head Hunter,” Kyuhyun mused,
“That’s right, so keep quiet before I kill you,” Kyuri snapped,
“She won’t hurt you,” Kibum interjected, causing Kyuri to mutter angrily but continue about her assessments.
Kyuhyun glanced at his sister, “Do you like classical music?”
“Stop reading my mind,” she glared at him for a moment before moving towards his legs to assess the damage there,
“I’m trying,” Kyuhyun insisted, “And this time I only got a flash of a memory.”
“How can you even tell the difference between a thought and a memory?” Kyuri rolled her eyes,
“They usually invoke different feelings,” Kyuhyun answered readily, “Memories always hold this… reminiscent feeling, sort of like the solemnity of a reflection.”
“You can do that, but you can’t control it,” Kyuri muttered exasperatedly,
“I told you, I’m –”
“What memory did you see?” Kibum interjected swiftly, seeing another argument before it even began. When Kyuhyun looked at him, he repeated, “What memory of Kyuri’s did you see?”
“Well, interestingly enough, I saw you in the memory,” Kyuhyun said lightly; if his sister was going to be a grouch, he’d be amicable with her companion who was less… prickly. A sudden pain in his calf interrupted his thoughts, “Ouch!” He swung his gaze to his sister, “What the hell was that?”
“I must have touched a tender bruise,” she lied,
“Really? Because it felt like you pinched me,” he grounded out,
“Oh, trust me, if I pinched you, you would –”
“What was I doing in the memory?” Kibum interrupted again, his voice steady and calm.
Kyuhyun looked at him, blinked, as if momentarily forgetting his thought process. Then, he answered, “You were sitting at a piano, playing… well, I don’t know what you were playing, but in the bit I saw, your hand movements were smooth, slow. From the angle of the memory, Kyuri was beside you.”
Kyuri straightened, crossing her arms, “Can you not discuss my own memories!?”
“They’re technically his memories too,” Kyuhyun challenged,
Kyuri glared at Kibum who answered simply, “He has a point. What he’s said is nothing new to me.”
She stalked to the door, “Kibum – a word? Please!”
He slowly rose from his chair and followed her outside of the private room. Standing in the doorway, he leaned a shoulder against the doorframe. Hands in his pockets, he stared down at her, his face expressionless, “Yes?”
“Can you NOT consort with the enemy?” She hissed,
“He’s not the enemy; he’s your brother,” Kibum replied quietly, unfazed by her temper,
“You said you’re on MY side,” She accused,
“I am. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk to him,” Kibum stated, “We’re here for God knows how long. Do you expect me to spend my days in silence?”
“You usually do when we’re at the Council,” she muttered,
“The Council is full of annoyingly arrogant Hunters who do nothing but talk about themselves and their accomplishments,” Kibum said, “I am relieved to find someone – other than you – who seems to be friendly and down-to-earth; someone who has no connections to the Council.”
“Friendly and down-to-earth? This is the first time you’ve talked to him, how the hell can you describe him like that?” She demanded quietly,
Kibum shrugged, “An observant guess.”
“And,” she continued hotly, “If you’ve forgotten, my brother is a vampire!” When Kibum just smiled at her, she scowled, “What!?”
“That’s the first time you called him your brother,” He said lightly, softly,
Kyuri’s eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth to retort when Kyuhyun called to them, “You know, just because you step out of my room, doesn’t mean there’s suddenly this soundproof barrier.”
Kyuri moved to look past Kibum into the room, “You – stay out of this!”
“I’m not the one talking about someone like they can’t hear!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,
“Oh, I can make it so you can’t hear!” Kyuri threatened, but Kibum placed a hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him, “What now?”
“You’re here to save his life; not to further damage him,” Kibum reminded lightly,
“Fine,” she threw a glare at her twin, “But I work in SILENCE!” She turned and went in search of the nurse.
“Is she always this temperamental?” Kyuhyun asked bluntly,
Kibum turned to look at him and shook his head, “Not since she became a Hunter. She’s actually quite controlled and composed.”
“You call her controlled and composed?” Kyuhyun said incredulously,
Kibum’s lips twitched, “She used to be very hot-headed and easy to anger. But you know, she’s never acted like how she just did.”
“You mean like a crazy person?” Kyuhyun offered,
“No,” He laughed softly, “Like she has a brother.”
At the other’s silence, he was amused to find Kyuhyun’s startled expression, the beginnings of a smile on the younger man’s face. Kibum was surprised when he realized he, himself, was smiling at someone who wasn’t Kyuri; rather, it seemed right that the other person was her twin brother.
“So what did she do today?” Taeyeon asked as she sat on the edge of Kyuhyun’s bed, angled so that she was facing him.
“Just looked me over,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “Same thing that Heechul did, I guess… Have you seen her?”
Taeyeon shook her head, “No… but that may be a good thing. Me and Kyuri were never close.”
“Because I was?” Kyuhyun scoffed, “You’re both girls, you should be able to talk to her better than me.”
“I doubt that,” Taeyeon said. When Kyuhyun looked at her, confused, she sighed, “I never told you this but Kyuri and I got into a fight years ago.”
“When? I only remember Kyuri being in Korea three times my entire life,” Kyuhyun stated,
“The last time she was here… you were eleven and I was ten,” Taeyeon explained,
“Why wasn’t I there?” Kyuhyun asked and then paused, something jarring his memory, “After the fight… you wandered around, didn’t you? You kept walking with no direction until you came to a house… why is that house so familiar?”
“How do you know?” Taeyeon’s eyes widened, “I haven’t thought of that fight in years.”
“You were dreaming about it before,” Kyuhyun explained, “And you were beside me at the time so… I saw your dreams. Sorry.”
Taeyeon waved his words away, “It’s not like you can control your telepathy.”
“See, you understand,” he muttered exasperatedly,
Taeyeon blinked, “Who doesn’t understand?”
“Kyuri,” Kyuhyun sighed. He shook his head, dispelling his thoughts, “So, what have I missed in class?”
“Everything,” Taeyeon said simply, “Well, I guess it’s still a repeat of what you already know. Will you be able to take midterms?”
“I better be able to,” Kyuhyun said sternly, “The whole reason I’m repeating senior year is so I can take all the exams I missed… I’m sure I’ll be fine, Kibum says that Kyuri’s actually pretty good at what she does.”
“He’s her… I’m not exactly sure, she doesn’t exactly reveal a lot and I never asked,” Kyuhyun admitted, “He just showed up when she did.”
“Do you think he’s a Head Hunter too?” Taeyeon wondered,
“I don’t – hey, wait! We were talking about your fight with Kyuri,” Kyuhyun narrowed his eyes, “Stop being so evasive.”
Taeyeon rolled her eyes, “Do you remember when Kyuri approached you that time, but you didn’t say anything and then your parents called for you?” Kyuhyun nodded, “After that I tried to explain to Kyuri how you were shy, but she was angry or upset and she said some things and I said some things…” She shook her head, “In summary, there’s no love lost between Kyuri and I.”
“Well, I’m going to try and talk more with her,” Kyuhyun said,
“Really? You hate talking to people you don’t know,” Taeyeon stated, surprised,
“I know but… she shouldn’t be someone I don’t know,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “She’s my twin sister for God’s sake and I know nothing about her… I never even tried… If this thing… if my vampirism beats me –”
“Kyuhyun – it won’t!”
“If it beats me,” he continued on, “I want to have all the wrongs of my past righted. It wasn’t fair that Kyuri was shipped off while I wasn’t… I want to make right by her.”
“And Zhou Seonsaeng-nim?”
“He did wrong by me,” Kyuhyun defended, “So… I’ll wait for him to come and apologize.”
“He’s the one who got Kyuri here,” Taeyeon reasoned,
Kyuhyun sighed, looking away from his cousin’s knowing eyes, “Let’s talk about something else.”
Taeyeon sighed before saying brightly, “So, I my parents called today to make sure you’re okay.”
“He’s asleep, his temperature’s stable,” Heechul said as he stood from his desk and stretched his arms to the ceiling. “You know you don’t have to stay here; I’m perfectly able to stay.”
“I’ve been doing it every night this week, why stop now?” Zhou Mi asked with a smile as he gracefully fell into one of the chairs before Heechul’s desk, “He’s sleeping okay?”
Heechul nodded, “Since he’s still not feeding, he’s very weak… he passed out quite fast,” he explained as he pulled his hair tie off, allowing his long locks to fall free, “Kyuri says she’ll start treatment tomorrow… what kind of treatment, I have no idea, but she’s confident that his body won’t reject it.”
“She still won’t do the blood transfusion?” Zhou Mi asked hopefully,
Heechul shook his head, “I’m half-afraid of even mentioning those words around her. And I’m glad that Kibum-guy is with her,”
“Several times I heard her and Kyuhyun begin to get at each other and then Kibum sweeps in and stops them,” Heechul explained, “Although, I’m curious as to see what would happen if they did fight. A vampire and a Head Hunter… twins, no less.”
Zhou Mi laughed softly, “For a nurse, you’re pretty sadistic, Heechul.”
Heechul shrugged, “It keeps me entertained. I’ll see you in the morning?”
Zhou Mi nodded, “Yeah, I’ll find something to do with my time.”
He watched as Heechul left. Then, he settled into the chair, his eyes slowly moving to one of the windows. Outside, the rain had begun to pour down harder and the wind began to howl fiercer. As day moved into night, the clouds had become pitch-black and Zhou Mi could tell that the storm was only going to get worse. He sighed as he slouched in the chair until his neck could comfortably rest against the back of the chair.
Zhou Mi sat up immediately; when had he fallen asleep? His eyes sought for the wall clock, barely able to make out the hands until another flash of lighting outside briefly illuminated the nurse’s office, followed by another startling thunderclap.
He had slept just over three hours. His body ached from being cramped to the confines of the chair. He slowly stood up, stretching his long limbs. He slowly walked over to the window, his eyes watching the tumultuous sky. It was dark everywhere, all he could hear was the pelting rain and crying wind. Another bolt of lightning pierced the sky and the school seemed to shake with the volume of thunder. He turned away from the window.
He glanced to the open door of Kyuhyun’s room. He hadn’t heard anything, so the younger man was probably still asleep. He slowly approached and then stopped. He didn’t want to wake him up if he was sleeping soundly. Silently arguing with himself, Zhou Mi leaned against the wall beside the open doorway.
Zhou Mi leaned his head back against the wall, shoving his hands into his pants’ pockets and just listened. He wanted to go and see Kyuhyun; hadn’t done so since Kyuri and Kibum first arrived and even then it was just a few moments… He wanted to know what was broken between them, what he had done to hurt the younger man.
Sometimes, it shouldn’t be just about blood.
Sungmin’s words echoed in his mind, repeating itself over and over again until Zhou Mi was almost positive that those words weren’t his alone; someone had said them to Sungmin first. Zhou Mi sighed, turning so his shoulder was against the wall, so he could actually look at the doorway. He could see the soft, dull light of the bedside table, could hear – hear?
Zhou Mi straightened, focusing his trained ears to hear what the storm was muting out. He could hear the restless rustle of sheets; Kyuhyun was not sleeping soundly. He pushed away from the wall, approached the doorway and stopped. Should he just go in? Could he just go in? Even if he did, would Kyuhyun accept his help?
Suddenly, Kyuhyun’s restlessness penetrated him more than the storm outside. His thoughts continued to center around the younger man; it was always about him. He could feel his heart being torn in two different directions as he tried to decide what to do. Should he comply with Kyuhyun’s will and leave him alone? Should he follow his own heart and keep coming back?
Another flash of lightning. Another scream of thunder.
Zhou Mi could feel his heart beating faster, trembling violently as he found himself afraid. He had forgotten what fear felt like until Kyuhyun came into his life. Suddenly, he feared for another, he feared for himself; he feared for his heart. Slowly, he inched closer to the door, trying to steel his shaking nerves, trying to calm his frightened heart. He took a deep, steadying breath and turned into the room to see if he could calm Kyuhyun in his sleep.
However, Kyuhyun was not sleeping.
His mattress lying flat, Kyuhyun was curled up on his left side, his bandaged, left hand hugged to his chest as his right hand was holding his pillow to cover his face. Zhou Mi watched, startled, as he waited, trying to understand what exactly it was that he was watching.
The lightning and thunder came again, faster than before. It was then that Zhou Mi realized what was happening. Kyuhyun’s body seized when the thunder penetrated the silence. Then, after it dissipated, his body began to tremble beneath the blanket draped over him. Zhou Mi slowly slipped into the room, approached the bed and reached out, his hand touching Kyuhyun’s right hand. Immediately, Kyuhyun jerked away from him and then groaned, his right hand dropping to clutch his ribcage as the pillow fell to the ground.
“Jo-sshi, let me help you,” Zhou Mi said quietly, “I won’t hurt you – you know that.”
When Kyuhyun said nothing, Zhou Mi turned to go back to the door. He stopped, feeling a tug on his button-up shirt. He looked back. Kyuhyun was on his knees, his left hand holding him. Gently, Zhou Mi disengaged Kyuhyun’s hand from his shirt, turned around and sat on the edge of the bed,
“Stupid, why would you use your left hand?” He admonished as he gently held the bandaged hand in his own.
“You ask to help and then you were going to leave,” Kyuhyun said quietly, still on his knees as he watched as Zhou Mi slowly turned his hand to examine his throbbing fingers.
“I was just going to close the door, help it silence the thunder,” Zhou Mi explained. When he was assured that no additional damage had occurred to Kyuhyun’s hand, he hesitantly released it. He looked at the younger man’s eyes, level with his own as he sat, “You’re afraid of thunderstorms… aren’t you?”
“It’s stupid, I know,” he muttered as he slowly sat back down, his right hand cradling his left.
“I’m afraid of steamed pork buns,” Zhou Mi shrugged,
Kyuhyun slanted him a look, his lips twitching, “You are not.”
“No,” Zhou Mi agreed, “But I should be – I was almost beaten to death because of pork buns.” When Kyuhyun said nothing, his look complete scepticism, he explained, “Geng – er… the math teacher? – he and I grew up together in China. We went to the same martial arts school. One day we were being punished for doing something stupid and weren’t allowed to have lunch. So, we snuck into Sifu – that’s what we call the teacher – Sifu’s office and stole his lunch, which was pork buns. He saw us and chased us for almost ten minutes.”
In the process of retelling his story, a slow smile began to spread on Zhou Mi’s face, lightening his expression in the dimness of the room; “He caught up to us – naturally – and I swear, he had half a mind to whip our behinds red. By then, Geng and I were laughing so hard and instead of getting mad, Sifu started laughing too. After he made us run about a million laps, but yeah… So you see, I could have potentially been beaten to death because of pork buns.” He smiled at Kyuhyun, “Fear can be irrational, but it doesn’t mean it’s stupid.”
“My reason is a lot less stupid that your story,” Kyuhyun muttered, “Pork buns, ha.”
“Hey, it was scary at the time! Sifu was a very scary man!” Zhou Mi defended before adding softly, “And I bet you didn’t realize that it thundered three times while I was talking.”
Kyuhyun blinked, glancing towards the door; had it?
“So I told you why I think twice before I eat a pork bun… why are you afraid of thunderstorms?” Zhou Mi asked lightly, casually so as not to alert his defences.
“It started when I was younger,” Kyuhyun looked away from the door just in time to see Zhou Mi raising the top half of the bed, “What are you doing?”
“If I’m going to hear a story, I like to be comfortable,” Zhou Mi said simply, “Besides, you need to rest, so you can sit back while you talk.”
Kyuhyun stared at him for a moment. The answer seemed so simple, so sensible, so… him. He waited until the head of the mattress was angled to 45-degrees before he turned to face Zhou Mi, sitting so his left shoulder rested against the mattress.
“I was seven or eight, I can’t remember which, but Min and I were at a playground. It started to rain, so we were going to head home. When it started to really rain, we thought we should cut through this forest,” Kyuhyun began and Zhou Mi forcibly pushed away the irking jealousy whenever Kyuhyun said ‘Min’.
Kyuhyun’s eyes drifted away to a random corner of the room as his mind flashed the memories as if it took place just the other day; “It got ridiculously dark and it was raining so much that there was no point of wiping our faces. We got lost and it started to thunder. I don’t remember the lightning, just the thunder… loud, so loud that I could feel it deep in my body. Min kept talking to me, practically yelling above the thunder. Even though I wasn’t some little kid anymore, he held my hand and led the way even though I know he was just guessing…”
Kyuhyun felt his heart beating heavily, frantically, as if he were that same small boy in the dark forest, constantly tripping over bumpy soil or surfacing tree roots. His eyes, glued to a spot in the room, suddenly began to see things in the shadows that weren’t there. He could feel his body shaking as if it were cold from the rain and wind. He could feel a lump rising in his throat as if his body were preparing itself to run away from invisible dangers. In his mind, he knew he was inside, safe inside SJA and yet, his memories argued that he was in the forest again. His memories won.
For an instant, white-hot light poured into the room. Suddenly, Kyuhyun felt arms around him and he was against a solid human frame. Zhou Mi had one arm wrapped around Kyuhyun’s head, the shoulder and hand of that arm covering Kyuhyun’s ears. His other hand was on Kyuhyun’s back, carefully, gently stroking him. Suddenly, thunder seemed to shake the room and continued on to swallow up Kyuhyun and shake his very soul.
Despite wanting to pull away, fight against the other man’s hold, Kyuhyun shut his eyes tightly as the sound echoed in his mind. He burrowed his face in the hollow of Zhou Mi’s shoulder and held his breath, waiting for silence to come once more.
“At least your fear is something understandable and not… you know, a steamed pork bun,” Zhou Mi said lightly, only too aware of the shaking body in his arms.
“Not. Funny,” Kyuhyun’s quiet, muffled response came.
When the room was silent again, Zhou Mi realized he had been holding the younger man for approximately five minutes; a younger man who had an aversion to physical contact.
Zhou Mi slowly moved his arms, “Sorry, I forgot about your telepathy –”
“It’s… it’s okay,” Kyuhyun murmured.
Startled, Zhou Mi allowed his arm to drop from around Kyuhyun’s head to his back, gently supporting the thin frame. His other hand rose from Kyuhyun’s back to his head, his fingers slowly stroking his dark locks. As he felt Kyuhyun’s body cease its trembling and begin to relax against his own, Zhou Mi realized the warmth spreading in his body being gratefulness; Kyuhyun didn’t want him to leave.
“You’re reading my thoughts, aren’t you?” Zhou Mi mused,
“Not like I can help it,” Kyuhyun whispered as he slowly moved his head so it wasn’t buried against Zhou Mi’s shoulder, his arms loosely crossed about his torso as the older man held him; “And I should sue you.”
“What?” Zhou Mi looked down at the younger man, “Why? I haven’t done anything illegal. Well… I am your teacher, but it’s only a two-year difference!”
“Not this,” Kyuhyun replied as he sat up straight, momentarily breaking Zhou Mi’s embrace so he could look at him directly, “Because of your thoughts. Those should be illegal.”
Zhou Mi blinked and then gently pulled Kyuhyun back against him, abruptly changing the subject, “Shh… you should be resting.”
“My bed is more comfy than you,” Kyuhyun murmured, but relaxed against him anyway.
Once more, they fell into silence. Kyuhyun was half-positive that he was insane for allowing Zhou Mi to hold him but he felt very warm. And, if he was really being honest, Zhou Mi’s body was more comfortable than the mattress. He was half-positive his heart was going to expire; it was beating so fast, so furiously but he felt more alive than he had since he was attacked. And, if he was really being honest, his heart felt happy, not in pain.
Since he was bitten, he hated physical contact, absolutely abhorred crowds and the only reason he tolerated his cousin was simply because she would speak her thoughts or show her emotions. But being in Zhou Mi’s arms didn’t affect him like contact usually did. For one thing, Zhou Mi’s thoughts didn’t intrude on his own.
Kyuhyun blinked; that wasn’t right.
He allowed his eyes to close, allowed himself to concentrate on his thoughts. There was certainly a lot floating in his mind, flashing in his memory, but they were all him – no, wait, he didn’t think that thought. He paused again, opening his eyes. He straightened, causing Zhou Mi’s arms to drop from him again just so he could look directly at him.
Kyuhyun’s eyes swept over Zhou Mi’s face, detecting no deceit, no hidden thoughts or feelings. If what he saw was true, then he should have seen Zhou Mi’s thoughts and yet… No, he did read Zhou Mi’s mind, but all that filled Zhou Mi’s head was… himself.
Zhou Mi tilted his head to the side, regarding him curiously as he smiled softly, “What is it? I wiped all… illegal thoughts from my mind.”
“All your thoughts,” Kyuhyun swallowed hard, “Are about me.”
Zhou Mi laughed softly, “Yeah, that’s how it’s been for awhile now.” When Kyuhyun said nothing, merely stared at him, surprised, Zhou Mi reached over and brushed strands of hair from the younger man’s eyes; “Jo-sshi, my concern for you was always more than just your vampirism; started way before I even knew you were a vampire.”
“Then why is it you’re always talking to me about my vampirism and drinking blood?” Kyuhyun asked, instinctively flinching from the contact. He sighed, “Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Zhou Mi replied, lowering his hand, “And that’s all I talk about because that seems to be the only reason I have to talk to you, to stay near you.” He slanted him a look, “That and the fact you’re still starving yourself.”
“I don’t know if I should trust you,” Kyuhyun admitted simply, quietly; “You have come to know more about me in less than two months than most know about me in all the years I’ve been here at SJA… I’m a private person, I like to keep to myself, keep my business to myself and yet… since the very beginning you’ve forced your way into my world. I try to push you away; try to keep you out and still –”
Neither noticed the warning illumination from the main part of the nurse’s office before thunder drummed into the room.
Kyuhyun forced himself not to jump back into Zhou Mi’s arms. Instead, he curled into a ball and a jolt of pain reverberated through his ribcage. He muffled a groan in response and said nothing when Zhou Mi moved closer, touched his arms and prompted him to straighten his torso and relieve the pressure on his ribs. Another clap of thunder and Kyuhyun’s body moved before he could stop himself.
He huddled in the warmth of Zhou Mi’s body and silently scolded himself as he murmured, “And still you come back and manage to know all my thoughts… all my feelings.”
Zhou Mi sat there, silent. He wanted to defend himself, explain himself and yet, he knew he couldn’t. The last thing he could do was further force himself in Kyuhyun’s world. If he said anything in that moment, it could be seen as forcing himself into Kyuhyun’s trust and that was the last thing he wanted. He didn’t want to force anything on anyone – Kyuhyun, of all people. He wanted it to come natural, wanted it to be… wanted. And yet, he couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, say nothing…
“I don’t know how you were before, but there’s something you’re wrong about,” Zhou Mi said quietly, tentatively as he pulled away from Kyuhyun’s body. He looked at Kyuhyun until the younger man looked up at him, “I don’t know your feelings, Jo-sshi. I don’t know any of them at all.”
“I haven’t told you to leave,” Kyuhyun swallowed hard. The positions had brought their faces a few centimetres apart. He forced his eyes to stay on the other’s; “That should explain my –”
The rest of Kyuhyun’s words were swallowed up by Zhou Mi’s lips. The moment he touched his lips to the younger man’s and his hand slipped to cup the nape of Kyuhyun’s neck, he was cursing himself. But then he felt warmth and electricity from the contact. But then he felt Kyuhyun’s mouth soften beneath his. But then he felt the tentative pressure of Kyuhyun’s right hand on his left shoulder. All regrets left his mind.
Kyuhyun felt warmth in his chest, felt it overwhelm, as if his heart would burst at any second. He found no need to breath, no need for anything else, but to keep this intimate contact with Zhou Mi. Before he could question his sanity, he parted his lips and allowed the other to deepen the kiss. Suddenly, his senses were completely drenched by the older man. He saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted just Zhou Mi; oh, how he tasted just Zhou Mi. It was peculiar, sweet and reminded him of –
No, no… it couldn’t happen now, could it?
It had been some time, but he had lasted months before that, right?
No, why couldn’t this kiss last forever?
Kyuhyun suddenly pulled away from Zhou Mi, regretting it the moment his body felt cold; the moment he saw the hurt in the other’s eyes.
Zhou Mi leaned back against the raised part of the bed, smiling at him ruefully, “I forced myself again, didn’t I?”
“Yes… no… What I mean is… it’s not that,” Kyuhyun stammered as he held himself back, held himself rigid.
He could feel his incisors throb, as if anticipating to lengthen and pierce. He could feel his heart beating fiercely, but he couldn’t tell if it was from the growing blood lust or from the kiss. He knew he was going insane when he could hear his heartbeat, could swear he could hear Zhou Mi’s. Against the pain, he curled his torso, his hands coming up to cover his ears.
Zhou Mi grabbed Kyuhyun’s upper arms to stop him from hurting himself, “Jo-sshi, what is it?” When Kyuhyun said nothing, he gently shook him, “What is it? You can tell me!”
When Kyuhyun looked up, his dark eyes were shining with unshed tears. He gritted his teeth to fight the tears, to fight the blood lust sweeping through his body. “I want… your blood.”
Zhou Mi blinked and then leaned back against the raised mattress, gently pulling Kyuhyun against him, “Then take what you want,” he insisted,
Kyuhyun shook his head violently, his right hand coming between their bodies to keep himself at a distance, “No… No…”
“After the first time you drank my blood, did you change?” Kyuhyun looked at him, confused, so he repeated, “Did you change? Or, were you still the same, Jo-sshi?” When Kyuhyun remained silent, he continued, “Surely you see there’s no danger in you drinking my blood, Jo-sshi?”
“But… but I don’t want that to be the only thing between us,” Kyuhyun admitted, his words quiet, yet forced as if he were ripping them from his very core, purposefully risking himself and leaving his soul vulnerable and raw.
“You know there’s more,” Zhou Mi insisted softly, his hands moving from Kyuhyun’s upper arms to cradle his skull, “You know I care more about you than just your vampirism.” His thumbs wiped at stray tears as he added lightly, “And I hope I’m more than just a meal to you.”
Kyuhyun’s lips twitched and the semblance of a soft chuckle escaped his lips. Zhou Mi leaned his head forward, brushing his lips against Kyuhyun’s before sitting back, his eyes sweeping over the younger man’s. Kyuhyun looked at him, still hesitant, still scared.
Zhou Mi countered Kyuhyun’s fear with a smile and prompted softly, “I probably taste better to you than steamed pork buns.”
Kyuhyun felt the gently pull of Zhou Mi’s arms, felt his body slowly lean against Zhou Mi’s until his head was beside the other’s. His senses relished in the closeness of Zhou Mi’s body and suddenly, he could hear that heart beat again. Kyuhyun felt Zhou Mi’s hands fall from his head, felt those long arms gently, securely wrap around his waist, allowing him to make his decision while knowing that Zhou Mi gave to him freely.
Kyuhyun inhaled slowly, deeply, as he felt the peculiar feeling of his incisors lengthening. His eyelids fluttered close as he brought his head the rest of the way, his breath kissing the smooth expanse of Zhou Mi’s neck. Tentatively, he pressed a small kiss to the skin as he whispered, “I’ve never had pork buns,” and then he pierced the skin.
Zhou Mi inhaled sharply at the pain that jolted in his neck as he managed a, “Really? They’re quite good.”
They fell into silence as Kyuhyun fed. Zhou Mi leaned his head back and stared up at the ceiling. He could felt Kyuhyun feeding, the gentle sucking against his neck. Distantly, he kept pushing away his thoughts that the feeling of Kyuhyun feeding caused; those thoughts should be illegal. He loosely held onto the younger man and knew that soon, he wouldn’t be able to hold him tighter even if he wanted to.
Slowly, he could feel his strength being pulled from his body. Before he could stop himself, before he could hide his growing weakness, his arms dropped from Kyuhyun’s waist. Before he could say a protest, Kyuhyun pulled away. He watched as Kyuhyun raised his own thumb to his mouth and bit it. He showed his neck to the younger man as Kyuhyun swiped a small drop of blood over the bite marks on his neck. He felt another swipe as Kyuhyun wiped off the remnants with a finger. He watched as Kyuhyun licked his finger and thumb clean and found those “illegal” thoughts entering his mind again and with a vengeance.
Before he let those thoughts grow, he pulled Kyuhyun back against him, forcing him to get rid of those thoughts; “You need to rest,” he muttered, as he settled the younger man in the crook of his arm,
“But I just ate,” Kyuhyun argued despite huddling closer against Zhou Mi’s body as thunder intruded once more, this time, quieter than before.
“Fine, I need to rest,” Zhou Mi amended, “I need all the strength I can get if you turn out to have an ambitious appetite.”
“Sorry,” Kyuhyun murmured as his eyes searched around the room, taking in all the yellow-washed colours he could see in the lamp’s dim light.
“It’s fine,” Zhou Mi insisted as his heavy lids shut on their own accord,
“I wish I could try a pork bun,” Kyuhyun mused as he allowed his eyelids to slide close,
“Didn’t you hear everything I said about pork buns?” Zhou Mi admonished lightly,
“You also said they were quite good,” Kyuhyun argued,
“But the main point of all that I said is that eating pork buns can potentially lead to near-death experiences,” Zhou Mi countered, his tone completely serious.
Kyuhyun chuckled softly. He felt fingers of sleep begin to sweep over him. Distantly, his mind was quieting, Zhou Mi’s mind having already calmed when they first settled down to sleep. “One more thing,” he whispered, burying his cheek against the warm hollow of the other’s shoulder,
“You can call me Kyuhyun.”
Dressed in just pyjama bottoms and a black wife-beater, he had found himself pulled from his bed by the storm just minutes ago. He leaned against the wall beside the doorway, a storm outside and warmth within the room he was standing beside. He could hear the voices and knew he didn’t have to interrupt; didn’t have to save his oldest friend. Softly smiling, he pushed away from the wall and quietly made his way out of the nurse’s office.
The hallway was dark, barely lit by tiny lamps on the wall between each doorway. He was in the hall when he saw a shadow moving towards him. Curious, he pressed back into the shadows and waited. As the figure drew near, he got a closer look at who it was,
Dressed in flannel pyjama top and pants, she gasped and jumped away. Sungmin immediately grabbed her hand to steady her. With her free hand at her heart, she threw him an accusatory stare,
“Why are you here?” She questioned as she gently pulled her hand from his fingers;
Sungmin said nothing as the silence was momentarily pierced with the sound of thunder. After it had died, he said simply, “I think we both know why we’re here.”
Taeyeon nodded, “Are you leaving? Is Kyuhyun okay then?”
Sungmin nodded, “I think so. He’s with the literature teacher and… he seemed okay.”
Taeyeon blinked in the dark hallway, startled; “Really? What were they doing?”
“I don’t know, but from what I could hear, Zhou Seonsaeng-nim was saying he wasn’t doing anything illegal,” Sungmin chuckled softly, “I didn’t want to interrupt them, but yeah… Kyuhyun will be just fine.”
“I got to admit,” Taeyeon said as they turned back to head the way she came from, “I’m a little jealous of Seonsaeng-nim. Kyuhyun’s world is opening up and he’s beginning to have more than just me.”
“Then that means you can finally open up your world and have more than just him,” Sungmin said simply, lightly, the words leaving his lips before he even realized he was thinking them. He was already mentally kicking himself when Taeyeon stopped her steps just before they reached the small circle of light cast by one of the lamps.
She turned and looked at him, “What?”
“Just that… for as long as I have known you, you have always only concerned yourself with your cousin,” Sungmin explained,
“Kyuhyun needed me,” Taeyeon stated, “He didn’t let anyone else in, so I had to make sure I was always there for him.”
“I was there for him,” Sungmin corrected,
“You moved away and then you stopped contacting him,” Taeyeon countered,
“And what about the first thirteen years of my relationship with him?” Sungmin defended, “He had me for thirteen years… damn it, he had me for six years before you even first met him. So don’t use Kyuhyun’s exclusivity as your excuse. The truth of the matter is, Taeyeon, is that compared to Kyuhyun, your world is very small; still very small.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Taeyeon retorted, turning to leave.
However, Sungmin grabbed her arm, stopping her and turning her back to face him, “You know what I’m talking about and now you’re trying to run away.”
“Why the hell would I run away from you of all people?” Taeyeon questioned,
“I don’t know, maybe to that boy you foolishly believe is your ‘one’,” Sungmin spat, “Maybe to assure yourself that your world isn’t just Kyuhyun, that you have someone else.”
“Now I know you have no idea what you’re talking about,” Taeyeon stated angrily, pulling her arm from his hold. She could feel her heart pounding fiercely in her chest as she tried to back away, tried to escape.
“You say Kyuhyun needs you, but in reality, you’re the one who needs him. He is your best friend – you’re only friend. He is your shield,” Sungmin stated relentless, firmly. He inhaled deeply, steadying himself before he added, “He is your world and because of that, you never saw me.”
Taeyeon blinked as her heart stopped. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words formed.
“Kyuhyun isn’t the sheltered one; you are,” Sungmin said quietly.
When still she said nothing, he moved around her to leave. However when he was abreast with her, she shifted immediately to block his way. They were inches apart and she was staring up into his eyes. She could see the fatigue in his expression, the hopelessness.
“You say I never saw you, Sungmin, but you never saw me either,” She countered quietly, forcing all of her strength into her words, to keep them steady, to keep them from breaking. “Since I was ten years old, not once did you ever see me.”
“How could I when you were always facing him, your back towards me? How could I when you only spoke to him, only sparing me words when he wasn’t around?” Sungmin asked quietly, his fox-like eyes seeming to stare endlessly into her eyes, piercing her very soul,
“Then how can you accuse me of not seeing you? How was I supposed to know –”
“Kyuhyun knew when we were children. Even the literature teacher figured it out after a few weeks of being here,” Sungmin stated, his words holding a resentful edge, “They knew, Taeyeon; they saw what you did not. I don’t hide my emotions, I can’t. I thought I was succeeding with… this… but apparently not.” He sighed heavily before stating, “That’s how I can accuse you of not seeing me.”
Sungmin tried to move around her, but she grabbed his arm, using her body as a block. She knew she was shaking, but she didn’t care. She had to tell him, had to make him stay. However, she couldn’t look at him again; he saw too much of her when she did. So, she looked away to a place past his shoulder and said quietly,
“I’m seeing you now, Sungmin… I’m seeing you now; isn’t that what matters?” She held her breath and turned her face to look at him.
He locked eyes with her, his heart skipping a beat as he did so. He swallowed hard and slowly backed her against the corridor wall. He leaned one forearm against the wall by her head, his free hand rising to her face, cupping its side gently. He tilted her face to look up at him as his eyes swept over her face. He watched as her bright eyes were lit with worry and then anticipation and then she slowly closed them.
He stared down at her expectant face. He had been wanting this for so long; waiting for this, hoping for this. Slowly, he leaned into her, feeling her warmth brush against the bare skin of his arms. He lowered his face to hers, each centimetre like another glorious expanse finally conquered. He kissed his forehead to hers, could feel her breath tickle his lips. He was so close to pressing his body against hers, so close to mixing his warmth with hers, so close to finally – FINALLY! – touching his lips to hers and yet…
His hand fell away from her soft, smooth cheek as he whispered, “Go back to your room, Taeyeon.”
Her eyes shot open just as he stepped away from her, the loss of body heat like a physical ache. She could feel the questions forming painfully in her mind and yet, once again, she couldn’t form them on her lips, couldn’t vocalize her cries. She tried to catch his eye, but he avoided her as he turned away. She tried to reach out to him, but he began to walk away. He disappeared down the corridor, absorbed by the shadows and then she could hear his footsteps no more.
She slid down the wall until she felt the floor beneath her. Her hands came up and clasped over her lips, but she knew they weren’t holding anything back because she couldn’t talk, couldn’t cry out. Instead, her eyes were stinging from the hot tears that accumulated, slid over her eyelashes and then poured down her face. Her body felt cold, her lungs seemed to be struggling for air.
She tried to call out for him, to call him back to her, but she realized how hard it was to say anything while her heart was breaking.
( Phase 12: Mutual Suffering)