(Phase 14 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Fourteen: My Wish for You
The next morning; Monday; Fourth week of April 20XX
“I have to go teach today,” Zhou Mi sighed from the chair at Kyuhyun’s bedside in the main part of the nurse’s office, the curtains drawn to block out the morning light.
“And I have to take an exam today,” Kyuhyun replied simply, the top part of the mattress raised so he could sit, “But that’s all Heechul will let me do, so I’ll be here until after the lunch hour.”
“Wait, isn’t it my exam you’re taking today?” Zhou Mi asked. Kyuhyun nodded and he continued, “Are you even ready to take my exam?” When Kyuhyun nodded again, he slanted him a look, “You’re failing my class, you haven’t been to class for a week and you believe you’re ready to take the midterm exam?”
“Your classes were cancelled last week, so it doesn’t matter that I was here and yes, I’m ready,” Kyuhyun replied,
“But… you’re failing,” Zhou Mi repeated tentatively,
“Step out of the class during the exam and I won’t fail,” Kyuhyun shrugged. When Zhou Mi silently raised one eyebrow, he sighed as he looked away and explained quietly, “I can’t… concentrate when you’re around. That’s why I fail all the tests you give.”
Zhou Mi stared at him in disbelief, “You expect me to believe that the reason you’re failing my class is because I teach the class?” When Kyuhyun nodded, still avoiding his gaze, Zhou Mi replied, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’m not! Just look at my grades!” Kyuhyun defended, swinging his gaze to the other, forgetting that his face had flushed considerably when he made his confession. He crossed his arms, “But fine, if you don’t believe me, just go teach your class.”
“Kyuhyun…” Zhou Mi began as he gracefully rose from his chair and slipped onto the edge of the bed,
Kyuhyun leaned his head back against his pillows, closing his eyes, “I need to sleep.”
Zhou Mi leaned over Kyuhyun so their torsos were parallel, propping his hands on either side of the other’s hips. He brushed his lips against Kyuhyun’s, “You need an apology.”
Kyuhyun opened his eyes, locking gazes with the other and silently waited.
“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t believe that me being around affected your grades so much,” Zhou Mi apologized sincerely, quietly before the tips of his lips quirked upwards, “I guess that means you like me, huh?”
Kyuhyun tried hard to keep the frown on his face, “Maybe,” he managed before sighing, “You don’t trust me.”
“I trust you more than I have ever trusted anyone who is not Geng,” Zhou Mi stated seriously before adding simply, “You are the one that doesn’t trust me.”
“I trust you,” Kyuhyun insisted and then looked away, “I’ve trusted you this entire time even when I didn’t want to. I don’t even know when or why I began to trust you… I just did.”
“And you hated it,” Zhou Mi said,
“Yes,” Kyuhyun replied simply. “Shouldn’t you be getting to your class?”
“You’ve been getting snarky since you got your transfusion,” Zhou Mi accused as he slowly stood up,
“I have not, this is how I usually am,” Kyuhyun argued,
“Then I liked you better when you were weak and bedridden,” Zhou Mi stated, “You were nicer and at my mercy.”
“You mean mercy to your illegal thoughts,” Kyuhyun corrected,
“Brat,” Zhou Mi muttered before he leaned down and briefly kissed him,
“Seonsaeng-nim,” Kyuhyun countered.
Zhou Mi gaped before narrowing his eyes. However, he turned and walked off muttering about insolent little brats.
He pushed away from the windowsill and headed to the full-length mirror in one corner. He adjusted the collar of his button-up, brushed out any stray wrinkles in his black slacks and ran a hand through his short, thick hair. He headed over to the door of his dorm when he paused, his hand on the doorknob. His hesitance made him feel ridiculous. What made him feel even more foolish was the fact that he had barely left his room since Friday night.
It wasn’t like he was afraid to leave his room, but he knew if he did, he’d eventually wander to the nurse’s office. If he wandered to the second floor of the east wing, there was a high possibility he’d meet her. He wasn’t exactly scared of meeting her, but he felt a deep guilt whenever he thought of her.
Over the past two days, his thoughts had repeated what happened Friday night over and over again. He had misled her, he knew. In truth, he didn’t want to, didn’t mean to, but it happened anyway. Without expecting to, he had confessed. Without expecting it, she had also confessed. In that instant, he remembered the elation he felt, he remembered the way his heart had soared. He was so close to the one thing he could never have, never even dreamed he could have and then…
Reality came crashing down around him and he pulled away, walked away. An image of her flashed in his mind as he gripped the doorknob tighter. He had seen the way she had crumbled to the floor, her hands clasped over her mouth. He had left the corridor and then doubled back, not able to completely able to walk away. He stood in the shadows and had watched her, had keep watching her until, almost an hour later; she had pulled herself up from the ground and began to walk towards him.
He had fought hard to not go back to her, to not pull her into his arms and apologize over and over again. However much guilt encompassed his heart, he knew he had to walk away, he knew what he did was the right thing. Taking a deep breath, he turned the doorknob and opened the door.
“Taeyeon!” Sungmin exclaimed, startled as he stood still in his doorway,
Taeyeon, leaning against the wall opposite his door, dressed in her uniform, she looked up at him. She pushed away from the wall and took a step closer to him, “I want to talk to you.”
Sungmin swallowed hard as he turned towards his door to lock it, trying to gather as much cool confidence as he could manage as he pulled out his keys from his pocket; “Then talk, just make it fast. I have some last-minute things to do for the exam today and I won’t have time once classes begin for the morning.”
“I wanted to talk about… well, I guess you know, but I should…” Taeyeon paused as she watched Sungmin slowly, methodically went through his ring of keys to find the key for his room. She propped her hands on her hips, “Can you look at me when I talk?” And, as if belatedly realizing how hostile her voice sounded, she added a stressed, “Please!?”
Sighing silently, Sungmin pocketed his keys, turned to face her and leaned back against his closed door. He crossed his arms defiantly, as if she were being the rude one. He raised a single brow, “Happy?”
Taeyeon narrowed her big eyes at him, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“What are you going on about now?” Sungmin sighed,
“You’re being a jerk and you know it,” Taeyeon accused, “This isn’t the Sungmin I know.”
“Before this year, we hadn’t seen each other for years; people change,” Sungmin stated ruthlessly, despite his heart pounding painfully in his chest,
“Then how are you aware that I’m still the same person I was before?” Taeyeon challenged,
Sungmin blinked, “What?”
“Friday night… you said… you said that you were watching me all this time… How do you know that I’m still the same?” Taeyeon questioned, forcing every last shred of her courage into her words, praying, hoping, begging, that her words wouldn’t break.
Sungmin’s eyes narrowed, trying to hint some sense of a lie in her words. His eyes swept over her face, knowing that all of her emotions were perpetually etched into her expressions. He couldn’t tell and he could feel his heart pounding harder and tried not to flinch at the pain of it. He fisted his hands to stop himself from shaking as he tried to see the lie in her eyes, but failed again.
Finally, he stated, “Because I know you,” his words almost a low growl, as he tried to call her bluff, hoping he wasn’t wrong; “Because I know you and… and I know that if you changed, then my feelings wouldn’t be the same.” His eyes narrowed dangerously as he took a threatening step towards her, “So don’t you try to pull some bullshit comment that you’ve changed.”
“Then don’t you dare say that you’ve changed,” Taeyeon countered, taking a step towards him, “Because I sure as hell would have known if you changed…” Her voice softened dramatically as she felt her courage slowly seeping away beneath his hardened stare, “I would know.”
Sungmin found his eyes locked with hers; found himself unable to look away. He saw it again, the quiet vulnerability in her big, dark eyes, the same ones he saw Friday night. Her step forward had brought them just a foot apart and he was sure he could smell just the barest of citrus scents and knew, instinctively, since he was a teenager, that it was her.
His heart was pounding again, but this time, although it beat faster and harder, it no longer pained him. Instead, it drove him, caused a rush of anticipation to sweep over his mind and body. He lost the need to breathe, to think, to move. All he could do, all he needed to do was feel.
He swallowed hard, “Why are you here, Taeyeon?”
She stared up into his eyes, hearing the raw words, understanding immediately that he was dropping all pretences, wanting just the bare facts – the raw facts – the truth from her heart. She felt a lump forming in her throat, threatening to suffocate her, mute her.
“Why did you leave me Friday night?” She somehow managed, her voice barely above a whisper. When he didn’t answer immediately, she repeated, “Why did you leave me Friday night?”
The vulnerability grew in her eyes and he saw it immediately. Although her clear eyes remained dry, he could see, sense, the threat of tears. He wanted to reach out to her, wanted to raise his hands to her eyes to stop the first tears before they could even form. He wanted to pull her close, wanted to feel her in his arms, even just hold her hand; a liberty he hadn’t had in years.
He wanted to lie, wanted to give her some excuse to coldly push her away, reject her and, thus, protect her. At the same time, he wanted to tell her the truth, wanted to – finally – open up his heart to draw her closer, accept her and thus, endanger her.
When he failed to answer, she grew restless, scared. She could feel the tips of her fingers and toes begin to tremble and knew that if she didn’t get away – now – that she would either shake and crumble to the floor, or she would cry. She refused to give him the satisfaction of cutting so deeply, of affecting her so completely. So, she tried to move, begged her limbs to turn and walk her away from him and yet, she remained still. She felt tears burning the backs of her eyes, knew that if she didn’t leave soon, she wouldn’t be able to fight them much longer.
To her horror, she couldn’t move, frozen beneath his unwavering, searching, dark gaze and her vision began to blur as the burning slowly spread to the front of her eyes, confirming her tears. Without realizing it, her hands slowly rose to cup over her lips, to mute any sounds that could potentially – surely – arise. She couldn’t move, and she couldn’t stop the tears, but she would fight and hold back all urges to break in front of him if she could. She would not let him know the depth and breadth of her –
Before he could stop himself, before he could look around and check, he had her in his arms. He had one hand at the small of her back, holding her against his body, and the other hand spiked through her hair, holding her head against his shoulder. He held her flush against him, his fingers instinctively stroking, loosening and, finally, pulling her hair free of its tie.
“I had to… I had to leave you,” he heard himself saying, no longer able to lie and deciding to protect her with the truth; “If I didn’t leave you… I’m your teacher here, Taeyeon. I couldn’t… I couldn’t stay with you.”
“You weren’t always my teacher,” Taeyeon managed to say, “You weren’t…”
“That doesn’t matter here… that won’t matter to anyone else,” Sungmin explained firmly, gently, as he fractionally held her tighter; “I had to leave you but I didn’t want to.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Taeyeon asked tentatively, her hands slowly dropping from her mouth, her arms slowly slipping down between their bodies until she wrapped them around his waist and pressing closer. She allowed her eyes to close, the tears still trickling down her face as she relished in the warmth of his embrace.
“I…” Sungmin paused, inhaling slowly, deeply. He found himself anxious, nervous, scared of what she would say to his words. He had known her most of his life and yet, the last and only time he had been so open, so close to her had been seven years ago. “I was hoping that if I could push you away that it would hurt less.” He turned his head, pressing his lips into her loose locks, “But I ended up hurting you… and… and that ended up hurting me even more.” He laughed bitterly, “Even now, all I keep talking about is myself…”
They were silent, then. Standing in each other’s arms, both had their eyes closed, simply breathing, relishing in the moment when, after years, they finally came together. It was Sungmin who broke the sacred silence;
“Taeyeon, even though we can’t be together, I want you to know I have cared for you for so long… that I still care for you,” Sungmin stated sincerely.
Immediately, she stiffened in his arms, drawing back to look at him directly, “What do you mean we can’t be together? I thought –”
“What? That being teacher and student doesn’t mean anything anymore? I care for you, Taeyeon – deeply – but that doesn’t erase that we are here at SJA… it doesn’t erase the potential danger to either of us – you, especially – if anyone were to find out,” Sungmin interrupted sternly, his fox-like eyes narrowing slightly, “My feelings for you, alone, can damage your reputation and hurt your future. If anyone found out that you reciprocated my feelings…” He paused, his gaze softening ever so slightly, “You… you do feel the same, right?”
“Of course I do,” Taeyeon replied immediately, even while she pulled out of his arms, “And because of my feelings for you, I refuse to not be with you because of circumstances! I graduate this year, Sungmin! How does –”
“Your senior year is the most important! I refuse to jeopardize that for you, Taeyeon,” Sungmin argued as he tried to reach for her, “Why can’t you understand that?”
“Why can’t you understand that after seven years, I want to be with you? Why can’t you understand that I’m tired of just watching you? I want to be with you, Sungmin, actually be with you,” Taeyeon stated,
“Taeyeon, please,” Sungmin said, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you care for me. I can’t suddenly start thinking of something that could end up hurting you.” When she didn’t say anything and merely looked away, Sungmin closed the distance between them and cupped her cheek to make her look at him; “I care for you, Taeyeon, I really do. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I do.” When she looked at him sceptically, he continued, “You’re graduating soon, a few more months won’t kill us.”
“I might end up killing you,” Taeyeon muttered darkly,
“In two and a half months it’ll be summer break. We’ll have a month and a half before coming back to SJA,” Sungmin offered lightly. After a moment, he prompted, “Taeyeon?”
“Fine,” Taeyeon murmured, knowing if she didn’t accept what he offered, it would be even longer before she could be with him. She slanted him a look, “But know that I do not like this.”
“And you think I do?”
“You certainly embrace it easier,” Taeyeon accused lightly, her previous hostility lacking from her words,
“I told you, that –”
Sungmin found himself promptly silenced as Taeyeon stretched on her toes and pressed her mouth to his. He was caught off-guard by the unexpected overture, by the realization he was getting a taste of what he wanted for so long, and by the softness of her lips that surpassed any of his dreams. As his wits reassembled themselves, his hand firmed along her jaw, holding her as he kissed her back as his lips firmed and became demanding.
Taeyeon wasn’t sure what pushed her to kiss him, but she knew if she didn’t make him stop talking, he would go on about protecting her again and she didn’t think she could hear, again, his reasons as to why they couldn’t be together. Now, as he was kissing her back, her hands, which had been idle at her sides, slowly slipped up between their bodies and tentatively came to a rest on his shoulders.
Sungmin wrapped his free arm around Taeyeon’s slim waist, pulling her closer to him. He ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of her lips and felt her gasp into her kiss. A slight smugness settled in him as he took her gasp as an opportunity and deepened the kiss further. He tasted her then, truly tasted her, and it was sweet and intoxicating and he wondered how he had gone so long without such a thing in his life. He wanted her, he wanted all of her and –
The sound of approaching footsteps had Sungmin immediately breaking the kiss. As the footsteps drew near, he looked at Taeyeon whose eyes were still glossed over with contentment. Moments before he knew that whoever was coming would appear around the corner, he pulled her into the archway of his door and stood before her, shielding her as best he could.
“Morning, Sungmin,” Zhou Mi greeted as he appeared at the point where the two hallways connected.
“Morning,” Sungmin replied casually.
Zhou Mi turned away to his right, to head down where his room was, when he paused. He turned back to look at Sungmin, “Morning, Kim-sshi.”
“Morning,” Taeyeon replied brightly as she shoved Sungmin away and stepped into sight. “How’s Kyuhyun?”
“Fine. The transfusion seems to be doing a lot of good. He’s even expecting to do my exam today,” Zhou Mi replied, “Even though he hasn’t had a chance to study at all.”
“Kyuhyun’s never had the pleasure of needing to study,” Taeyeon muttered resentfully, “I assure you, I’ve spent the past week living in the library and he’ll still do brilliantly on his exams.”
Zhou Mi sighed, “That’s what he said. Do you think you could not mention this to his sister?”
“To Kyuri? Why?” Taeyeon inquired, instantly curious,
“Over the weekend Kibum approached me with a proposal. He wants Kyuri and Kyuhyun to reconcile their differences… and while they have, they’re still… distant,” Zhou Mi replied, “If Kibum can convince Kyuri to tutor her brother for his exams, it might pull them together.”
“Um… can we continue this discuss somewhere that is not the floor where teachers’ dormitories are?” Sungmin asked as he finally locked his door,
Zhou Mi blinked, looking around and seeing no one, “Why? Hardly anyone lives here to begin with. And you certainly never thought about the risks of students being here when you gave Kyuhyun a key to your room.”
Taeyeon slowly turned to look at Sungmin, a smugness in her smile, “I had forgotten about that. How can you explain yourself?” She taunted lightly,
“I’m going to visit Kyuhyun before classes begin,” Sungmin muttered as he shoved his keys into his pocket, “I’ll see you both later.”
“Not me,” Taeyeon said swiftly, causing Sungmin to pause and look back at her, startled, “You won’t be seeing me until summer break.”
“What?” Sungmin’s eyes narrowed,
“It’s for the best, I think,” Taeyeon replied innocently as she walked up to him and then continued on past him, “Bye, Seonsaeng-nim.”
As Zhou Mi and Sungmin watched her walk off, the literature teacher asked tentatively, “Why do I have a feeling she wasn’t calling me that for once?”
Sungmin scowled at him before stalking off.
It was later that morning when Heechul stood outside the bathroom in the nurse’s office as Kyuhyun showered, just in case the younger man collapsed or anything else untoward (he had just gotten a blood transfusion after all). Heechul stood there, arms crossed as he watched the female twin sitting in a chair and idly flipping through one of his textbooks. Kibum was in the isolation room cleaning up and changing the bed sheets.
“Is it true that you have enough field experience that the Japanese Council would set you up as a doctor if you did your board exams?”
Kyuri laughed shortly as she turned the page, “That’s a loaded lie if I ever heard one. The truth is that the Council believes I can go into medical school without needing an undergraduate degree.”
Kyuri shrugged, “I’ve never really thought about anything past the Council, but it would be good to pursue it. I am interested in the body, after all.”
“You must be very intelligent, Kyuri, I heard that you finished high school at a young age,” Heechul said,
Kyuri nodded absentmindedly, her eyes scanning the page before moving on to the next, “I was done by the time I was 14.”
“Have you ever considered tutoring?” Heechul asked lightly, “While you’re here, you could tutor and you would have access to all of my health texts.”
Kyuri looked up, then, raising a single brow, “Who?”
“Your brother,” Heechul replied casually,
“And why should I waste my time tutoring someone who is repeating a year?” Kyuri challenged before looking down at the text in her lap,
“It’s not like he chose to miss school last year,” Heechul argued,
“True. However, he missed school this year and it his responsibility to keep up with his lessons,” Kyuri replied matter-of-factly,
Heechul looked over as Kibum exited the isolation room, “Is she always this harsh?” He questioned, knowing the younger man heard every word.
“This is her being nice,” Kibum said simply with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
Kyuri flashed him a dark glare before stating, “Look, I understand his need for a tutor, but why do I have to do it? This school has 300 students. I’m sure one of them can tutor him for exams.”
“Did you not hear how he’s here because he was bullied? SJA doesn’t have the nicest of people as its students and there’s no way in hell Kyuhyun would let another student tutor him,” Heechul replied,
“My cousin’s here too. Why can’t Taeyeon do it? They’re still inseparable as ever,” Kyuri stated, not a hint of her usual bitterness towards the relation,
“Taeyeon has her own exams to study for; she won’t have time to help Kyuhyun.” Heechul heard the water stop running in the bathroom shower and pushed away from the wall, closing the distance between them, “Look, I’m not asking for your blood again. I’m asking for a few hours of your time so that Kyuhyun can take his exams. It’ll be for just a week.”
Kyuri sighed as she turned the page, “I’ll think about it.”
As Heechul retreated back to the bathroom door, he caught Kibum’s eye and understood the silent gratefulness he found there.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to,” Kyuri stated as she and Kibum silently walked the halls of SJA. Actually, Kibum stated he wanted to walk around, so Kyuri went with him. Usually the hallways would be packed with students or there would be a few people walking about. However, with the first exam in progress, the hallowed halls were empty.
“What?” Kibum asked as he ambled on, hands shoved in the pockets of his black trousers,
“Heechul may be an eccentric nurse, but he seems like you – he wouldn’t go out of his way to meddle in other people’s lives,” Kyuri stated as she pulled her hair back and secured it into a ponytail,
“What are you going on about now?” Kibum asked as his eyes leisurely swept the doors they past, briefly committing to memory the numbers above each door.
“You put it up to him to get me to stay, specifically to stay around my brother,” Kyuri accused,
“Yes,” Kibum replied easily, simply. He never lied to her before, he certainly wasn’t going to start now.
“Because you have a family; a family that actually wants to talk to you and have you around,” Kibum stated,
“He’s lived 18 years without me, he’ll be fine,” Kyuri stated,
“But will you?” Kibum asked, abruptly stopping before her and turning to look at her, “You’ve found the family you’ve be looking for –”
“I haven’t been looking for –”
“Are you ready to suddenly walk away from him?” Kibum asked,
“I stopped looking for a family seven years ago,” Kyuri reminded through gritted teeth,
“Yes,” Kibum conceded before adding, “But you’ve found it now. You cannot readily pretend like you didn’t. I know you Kyuri – the time we’ve been here has already changed you.”
“Yes… Yes it’s changed me, but –”
“Then see where this can go. See if you can have all that you’ve always wanted,” Kibum stated simply, quietly. When Kyuri remained silently, Kibum opened the door closest to them and walked in. Kyuri followed, surprised to find herself in a music room; unused, if the desks pushed against the walls meant anything. “I knew this school would have a music room and Heechul told me where I could find one that hadn’t been used in years,” Kibum explained as he walked over to one side of the large classroom to the piano there. He pulled out the bench and sat on one side of it, testing out the dust-covered keys, not caring of soiling his fingers.
Kyuri sat beside him anti-parallel as she loosely clasped her hands in her lap. She sat there, silent when he began to extract clear, pure notes from the rusticating instrument. She could tell that the piano was in need of tuning because some notes seemed disjunctive, out of place in the melody he was weaving, but it still sounded sweet and comforting, the tune familiar to her. She remembered when she first heard the song over seven years ago. Slowly, she leaned sideways, her head resting on Kibum’s shoulder as he continued to play. The song – a classical piece, she had been told that day years ago – had led her to him.
“Kibum, I have you, right?”
“Of course. Why are you even asking?” Kibum replied, not missing a beat in the piece he played, his eyes closed as his hands moved of their own accord, pulling each note, each movement from his memory.
“If I have you, then I don’t need anyone else… I don’t need a family,” Kyuri said quietly,
“A family brings a different kind of relationship than what we have,” Kibum countered and then, added firmly, “You need that in your life.”
“You don’t have that and you’re fine,” Kyuri pointed out.
Kibum paused, some keys down, some fingers hovering over other keys; “I don’t have it… but it’s not my choice. You’re choosing to not have it; that’s different.”
She had felt the subtle stiffening in his body and regretted her words the moment she said them. She was silent, held her breath as she waited for him to continue playing. When he did, she whispered, “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to be –”
“I know,” Kibum interrupted swiftly. Realizing how abrupt and harsh his tone was, he repeated in a softer voice, “I know.”
“What if I let him in, let myself get close, and I end up getting hurt?” Kyuri asked uncertainly. She despised being weak and showing it.
“Then I’ll be here to stop the pain and, at least then, you’ll know. If we pack up now and go back to Japan, you’ll constantly be wondering ‘what if’. You won’t show it and you won’t say anything, but I know that’s what you’ll be doing,” Kibum stated simply, softly, knowingly,
Kibum stopped playing again, but this time he turned on the bench to look at her. He raised a hand and cradled the side of her face. She closed her eyes, pressing her cheek against his warm palm and he said steadily, “If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for me.”
She opened her eyes, startled, “How would staying here be for you?”
“Because that’s what I want for you,” Kibum replied simply, offering her a brilliant smile before dropping his hand from her face and turning back to continue playing.
Kyuri said nothing. Instead, she laid her head on his shoulder once more. She closed her eyes when she felt his lips press against her crown. Then, she allowed the song to surround them, calm her, ease her heart as it had so many times since first meeting the person beside her.
Thursday; Fourth week of April 20XX
Kyuhyun sat against his headboard, a pillow on his lap and a textbook propped open atop it. It was his fourth night in his dorm room and still, it seemed odd to be back. After Monday, he had slowly slipped back into the motions of everyday life at SJA. Heechul still advised him against overexerting himself, so he only attended his exams, foregoing the classes that took place every morning.
He glanced across the room and silently observed the other person. They had a soft, heart-shaped face and hair that fell in ebony waves. A person who was definitely all female, but he knew it was his other half. Despite being fraternal twins, it was ridiculous how alike they looked, especially when next to one another. Zhou Mi had stated it a number of times over the past few days.
Kyuri sat at his desk, the chair turned to face him as she poured over a textbook, “I’m actually still surprised how much I remember. It’s been four years since I learned this stuff.”
“I’m actually still surprised you’ve been tutoring me the past four days,” Kyuhyun stated,
“You and I both know that Kibum pushed me to do this,” Kyuri stated as she turned the page. She offered her help to Kyuhyun, but she had been completely honest with him of her pretences.
“I like to pretend you did it because you miss your big brother,” Kyuhyun said lightly,
Kyuri looked up at him, “Are we even sure that you’re older? For all we know, I could be older than you.”
Kyuhyun opened his mouth to talk and then paused. He crossed his arms, “Damn, I never asked Mother or Father.”
Kyuri shook her head as she looked at the book again, “If it’s any consolation, Kibum thinks I’m the older one… but I think he says that to annoy me.”
Kyuhyun observed his sister a moment more before asking bluntly, “So, who exactly is Kibum?”
“He’s a Hunter. Specifically, my partner on missions,” Kyuri answered simply,
“So, what is he to you?”
“I just said he’s my partner.”
“No, what is he to you?”
Kyuri looked up again, “… This has nothing to do with genetics and phenotypes.”
“It could if you answered the question,” Kyuhyun pointed out simply, slanting her a look, “Forget genetics and phenotypes, we could be talking about progeny even.”
Kyuri rolled her eyes to the ceiling, “I recall you never talking when we were younger. What happened to that? I liked the silence.”
Kyuhyun shrugged, “Mi wanted me to try and get to know you better. Frankly, I wanted to make up for the past 18 years.”
Kyuri was silent a moment, not sure what to say. She couldn’t claim the same thing because, just a week ago, she would have done anything and everything to avoid her twin brother. But now? Now, she was scared of the prospects. She was scared that her life, which was finally getting some stability, was being shaken up by her old life. She was scared because Kibum was right: she had been looking for a family and, even though she had left them all behind years ago, had been waiting, wishing and yearning…
“I can’t act like the past was different between us,” Kyuri said simply, seriously, as she locked gazes with her brother,
“You don’t have to;” Kyuhyun replied easily, “Just give me a chance to make up for it.”
Kyuri nodded. Kyuhyun was silent.
“Um…” Kyuhyun began finally, “Just know that I don’t know how to… ‘get to know’ someone.”
“Same here,” Kyuri replied swiftly, suspicious that her brother wanted her to instigate their awkward relationship.
“We should get Mi and Kibum in here and see how well they do… except,” Kyuhyun made a face, “Mi is very social.”
“So is Kibum,” Kyuri quipped.
Kyuhyun blinked before staring at her sceptically, “Really? Kibum? But… he barely talks… or smiles… or shows any emotion.”
“Yes, and once you get past that, he doesn’t shut up,” Kyuri stated dryly.
Silence fell between the twins once more.
“This is going to be hard, isn’t it?” Kyuhyun inquired then,
“Because we can only meet when there’s no daylight?” Kyuri drawled,
“No, because we’re both socially inept,” Kyuhyun said bluntly,
“I know that. I was making a joke,” Kyuri said, her tone conveying the complete opposite. When she saw a slight twitch in her brother’s lips, she added, “And it’s supposed to be hard… isn’t it?”
Kyuhyun leaned back against his headboard and sighed, “I think so… Can I blame some of this on our parents?”
Kyuri scoffed, “I certainly do.”
Kyuhyun laughed aloud immediately. Kyuri watched him and could feel a peculiar warmth sweeping over her. She felt the corners of her lips want to lift and fought the urge to smile valiantly. When she realized her brother was watching, she ducked her head and ordered him to continue studying.
Later that evening
She was confused. It was as simple as that, wasn’t it? All of these changes were happening and she was merely… confused. But no, if that was all that was wrong, why did she feel this way? Why was it whenever he smiled, she felt a little sadder? Why was it when he wasn’t with her, she felt a little lonelier? She didn’t understand it, but she did realize she was becoming familiar with that bitter jealousy that was slowly eating away at her from the inside out. She shouldn’t feel this way, she knew and yet… and yet… But how else could she feel?
After all, her cousin had been the centre of her world.
The night was cold, but she felt like she was suffocating, so she escaped to the roof. Dressed in just her uniform, her sweater a thin shield against the cool breeze, she hugged her arms around her torso. She gazed up at the sky, but even the stars were betraying her, hiding behind a thin layer of clouds. Sighing heavily, she leaned her head forward against the fencing that surrounded the roof’s perimeter. The crossing metal wires felt like ice against her skin, but it soothed her raging thoughts. Damn, she was so confused.
She heard the door open and she straightened, stiffened.
“Sorry,” her cousin’s – the female one – voice drifted towards her, “I saw someone heading up here and I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t get locked out like Kyuhyun had been. But you left a book here to jar the door so…”
Kyuri paused, her eyes sweeping over the rigid way her cousin held herself. She noticed immediately that Taeyeon kept still, kept her face turned away. By instinct, most people would look at a noise that was disturbing them unless…
“You’ve been crying… haven’t you?”
“Don’t be silly. Besides, how can you make such an assumption from ten feet away?” Taeyeon laughed lightly at the words,
“Because, despite the few times I saw you when we were children, you were never able to hide your emotions… and it seems the same can still be said,” Kyuri stated baldly,
Taeyeon curled her nails into her palm, being called out on her emotions always caused them to intensify. She breathed slowly, deeply before she stated quietly, fiercely, “Just leave me the hell alone. We’ve done easily without each other before… there’s no reason we need to pretend amiability simply because of Kyuhyun.”
Kyuri blinked and then turned back towards the door, holding it open as she made sure the book remained in place against the frame. She should leave; Taeyeon was right. They had lived 17 years without each other and really, did they need each other now? She looked over her shoulder at her younger cousin. Despite spending more time with Kyuhyun, that didn’t mean she had to do the same with…
“I know what it’s like to be alone, but you want to be alone?” Kyuri shook her head slightly before stating, “But I’ll leave you if that’s what you want because, truly, I have no right to defy you, no grounds to plead a case to remain here against your will… But if I leave you and you break, I will never forgive you.”
Kyuri had stepped through the doorway before she heard Taeyeon call out, “Unni… Kyuri…”
Kyuri turned back, gently easing the door so that the book kept it partially opened, “Yes?”
“Please… please stay,” Taeyeon forced the words to be louder than a whisper, wincing when she heard how broken she sound. But truly, that’s how she felt. She hugged herself tighter as she slowly dropped to her knees on the floor, pressing her forehead against the fence again as she shut her eyes tightly, withholding the threatening tears, “I don’t want to be alone anymore.”
Kyuri said nothing, but walked over to her cousin. Not sure what to do – not having a right to do anything – she slowly sank down in a squat beside Taeyeon and stood vigil.
(Phase 15: Nightmare)