(Phase 16 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Sixteen: My Worth to You
It was the first time in weeks when he could sleep peacefully. He acknowledged a sense of calm, of a dreamless sleep and just serene darkness. However, suddenly, the darkness, which blanketed him turned to images, to scenes. He saw red everywhere, sticky, liquid red, spurting forth like a spring from a body. He looked down at his hands, his trembling, small hands covered in blood. He stepped backwards as he took in the sight of the body at his feet, a dark pool of blood beneath him. He acknowledged the darkness of night, the coolness of a breeze.
He sat up, forcing himself from sleep, ruthlessly ripping himself away from the images. They were familiar, and as he sat in the dimness, he realized what had happened, remembered when he saw the images the first time. This time, however, he knew he wasn’t seeing the future; this time, he was merely remembering what he already foresaw.
Across the dark room, the brightness of light crept from beneath the bathroom door. He sat there, still, acknowledging the rapidity of his heartbeat, the pain when he breathed. He shut his eyes tightly, trying to overcome his body and to calm himself down. It was just a dream. This time.
He sat there and remembered when the images first came and he knew it wasn’t a dream. He had been lying beside Zhou Mi, had been sleeping beside him when the images came. He knew immediately when he woke up the first time that what he experienced was because of his telepathy. He waited in the darkness for Zhou Mi to exit the bathroom.
When the door opened and the shaft of light widened and spilt forth into the dark bedroom, he was startled to see a slender silhouette against the bright bathroom light.
“You’re awake?” His sister’s voice floated over to him.
“What are you doing here?” Kyuhyun asked, confused,
“You’re in my room… in the east wing,” Kyuri turned off the bathroom light, but turned on the pale, yellow light of her bedside lamp, “Zhou Mi-sshi left you here because he didn’t want you waking up alone… if you woke up in the middle of the night.”
“And you let him leave me here?” Kyuhyun said suspiciously as his sister climbed onto the bed, leaning back against the headboard,
She slanted him a look, “Kibum made me.”
Kyuhyun merely nodded knowingly. They had become more comfortable in each other’s presence, but there was still many moments when both sought to find some common ground, something to break the barriers that had erected themselves between them over the years of separation and pain.
“So, Zhou Mi-sshi said you were having a bad night… nightmares?” Kyuri asked tentatively, her usually flat, formal voice softening, warming as she pulled a pillow into her arms and just hugging it as she crossed her legs,
“Images… I… I had these visions,” Kyuhyun dropped his gaze from his sister’s, not able to look her in the eye and tell her the truth; it made him too vulnerable. “I think they’re telling me the future… but Mi thinks it’s just a dream.”
“The future?” Kyuri mused, her face slowly scrunching up in thought,
“Vampires have telepathy… who’s to say they cannot tell the future too?” Kyuhyun suggested,
“It’s possible… and you make a point,” Kyuri said, “However, I’ve never heard of a case where a vampire – pureblood or transformed – is able to tell the future. If vampires were able to have visions of the future, then they’d never be… hunted.”
Kyuhyun looked up at her quiet, tentative final word; “I think we’ve already gone past the fact that you’re a Head Hunter.”
Kyuri peered at him through the dimness of the room, “And you’re okay with me being a Head Hunter?”
“I… I understand why you do it – vampires can be dangerous… but from my own experience, transformed vampires should be given a chance,” Kyuhyun said, “So… I’m not that okay with your… occupation… but I understand why you do what you do… and really, a Head Hunter at eighteen? My sister’s kind of cool.”
Kyuri smiled at him indulgently before prompting hesitantly, “So, if someone close to you turned out to be a part of the Council… you wouldn’t hold it against them?”
Kyuhyun tilted his head, narrowing his eyes suspiciously; “Who’s close to me that’s part of the Council? A Council… member – is it?” His eyes widened, “Is Mi part of the Council?”
“No,” Kyuri said immediately, silently apologizing to the other Head Hunter, “I was talking about… that mathematics teacher here… Hankyung was it?”
“Han Seonsaeng-nim,” Kyuhyun prompted, “He’s part of the Council?”
“Not necessarily,” Kyuri said, “But, I believe it’s his grandfather who brought the Council to Korea. I think that’s why he looks familiar… like his grandfather, but I’m not too sure. When I was in training, I focused on combat and health, not history.”
Kyuhyun nodded his understanding and slowly, that awkward silence fell between them again.
Hugging the pillow against her abdomen, Kyuri looked down at the bed sheet, a finger tracing invisible circles on the white surface. Finally, she broke the silence, “So… Kibum basically announced this to Zhou Mi-sshi – but how he knows before I even told him, I have no idea – so, I think that… despite everything, I should tell you before Zhou Mi gets around to telling you.”
Kyuhyun looked at her, raising an eyebrow in silent curiosity.
“You, my dear twin, are going to be an uncle,” Kyuri said nonchalantly, tentatively raising her gaze to his as she finished her quiet announcement,
Kyuhyun’s eyes widened, “When?”
“Um… in six to seven months… give or take a week,” Kyuri explained, “Because of my work I was so busy that I didn’t realize until last week.”
“Are you going to tell our lovely parents?” Kyuhyun inquired lightly,
Kyuri sighed, “I want to say no… and all my life, I thought when this moment came that I would say no… but now…” She shrugged, “I… I hate what our parents did to me… and eventually to you… I don’t care about them now, but… At the end of the day, if my child wants to know their grandparents, I will warn them, but allow them to make their decision.”
“So that’s a yes?” Kyuhyun asked,
“Eventually… perhaps closer to the end,” Kyuri shrugged, “Maybe I’ll have the baby tell them.”
Kyuhyun chuckled, “Can you imagine? A little boy or girl approaching our parents and announcing he or she is their grandchild?”
Kyuri shot him a withering look, “They’ll slam the door in my child’s face.” Kyuhyun chuckled quietly and Kyuri’s face softened, “If I go to sleep will you be okay? I don’t mind if you stay up and keep the light on but… being pregnant makes me need sleep.”
“Oh, of course,” Kyuhyun nodded, “I could sleep too,”
“Are you sure? Zhou Mi-sshi was really concerned about leaving you alone,” Kyuri looked at him unconvinced, “And … I know we only started talking, but I don’t want to go to sleep if you’re not okay.”
“I can’t stop the visions, so I can’t let it stop me from sleeping,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “Besides… I can’t necessarily kill Mi while he’s not here.”
Kyuri’s dark eyes widened considerably, “That’s what your vision was? Of you killing Zhou Mi-sshi?” Kyuhyun nodded simply; “Perhaps I shouldn’t go to sleep. Even if it was just a dream, that’s… quite the dream.”
“I know,” Kyuhyun said quietly; “But it’ll be fine… I… I really believe what I saw was real – will be real… but Mi insists that it’s just a bad dream.” He shook his head as he slowly laid down in the bed, “I’ll be fine… really.”
Kyuri looked at him sceptically even as she turned off the lamp and settled back down on the mattress, “If you say so…”
“I do,” Kyuhyun replied simply, sternly. He appreciated his sister’s concern, but he could only be so weak before he got annoyed.
Even in the darkness, as they lay separated by two feet of mattress, they fell into silence; their conversation floating through their minds. Finally, Kyuri turned her back to her brother, still hugging a pillow as she allowed her eyes to close;
“If you come near me or hug me during the night… I will kill you – brother or not,” Kyuri warned, her tone stern but sleepy.
“We may have only begun acting like siblings lately… but even I have the brotherly repulsion to avoid all physical contact with my sister,” Kyuhyun stated, his voice dry but amused.
Kyuri scoffed before yawning and then they both were overcame with fatigue.
Two days later; Sunday; Third week of May 20XX
The door to his classroom opened and Sungmin looked up from the papers on his desk he was marking. He watched, silent, brows raised as a familiar female entered, closed the door behind her and approached the front of the classroom. She sat in the desk closest to his own, took out a textbook and notebook and began to write notes.
After the slowest minute of his life, Sungmin cleared his throat and spoke up, “Taeyeon… what are you doing?”
“Studying,” Taeyeon said nonchalantly as she continued writing notes, not even looking up from her books.
“Yes, I can see. But why here?” Sungmin asked hesitantly.
Since the time when she confronted him, Taeyeon hadn’t pressed her suit at all. She hadn’t approached him even to talk as a friend, even when Kyuhyun did almost daily. There were times during class and during meals when he would bet his life that she was watching him. However, when he subtly shifted his gaze to wherever she was, she was preoccupied with anything but him.
“Because I am studying biology for the test next week and where better to study than here… with the biology teacher,” she paused in her writing and looked up at him, finally.
“Taeyeon, if someone came in –”
“They would see a student getting extra help from a teacher. Besides,” she sat back in her chair, her gaze unwavering, “I’m at least a metre and half away from you. What could they possibly deduce from how we are?”
“Do you want me to leave and not have any time alone with me until summer break? Or do you want me to stay – you there and me here – and at least have some quiet time with each other?” She raised a single, perfectly shaped brow at him in challenge,
Sungmin bit back the reply he had planned when he heard her proposition. Finally, he ducked his head and continued marking as he grumbled, “Fine… but stay there… don’t come near.”
“What if I have a question?” Taeyeon inquired innocently, her eyes alight with mischief.
Sungmin looked up, immediately read the meaning in her dark eyes. He scowled, “Then you can shout the question to me.”
“What if I need to show you a diagram or a sentence I don’t understand?” Taeyeon asked casually,
Sungmin’s fox-like eyes narrowed, “Then I will walk to you… don’t you dare walk over here.”
Taeyeon blinked, “Now, that doesn’t seem fair to me. I’m not allowed to walk around the classroom, but you are?”
“You can walk around the classroom, just not near me,” Sungmin grounded out,
Taeyeon smirked and then returned to her note taking. Sungmin glared at her crown for a moment more and then returned to his marking. Actually, he tried to, but it was just not happening. It was the strangest thing for Sungmin. He had Taeyeon in his class several times a week and he was able to lecture without even a moment’s thought. Now, however, he couldn’t even remember if the answers on the test were right or not.
Blinking, he looked up. Taeyeon continued with her work. She paused in her writing, bringing her pen to her textbook, using the tip as a guide as she read and then would continuing writing in her notebook. Sungmin felt a moment of blame towards her. How was it that she could sit there as if he weren’t around and yet he couldn’t mark because he was painfully aware of the person a metre and half away from him. He hardened his stare, sweeping over her trying to find some sign that she was ill-affected as he was; she was emotionally easy to read. He bit back a swear when he found no sign.
As if sensing his hard stare, she looked up, slightly confused, “Is something wrong? I haven’t made a sound.”
“Have you been learning from your cousin how to hide your emotions?” Sungmin asked bluntly,
Taeyeon blinked, “I know I’m easy to read, but Kyuhyun’s just the same if you look at his eyes.”
“Not him, Kyuri,” Sungmin amended,
“Oh,” Taeyeon said and then added immediately, “No… why?”
“Never mind,” he muttered and looked down at the tests before him. Great, now the words didn’t make sense.
“So… we’ve finally begun to be honest with one another… I would suggest you not start hiding things again,” Taeyeon commented lightly, absent-mindedly tapping the end of her pencil against her notebook; “Because last time that happened, we lost seven years.”
Sungmin looked up at her, eyes narrowed. However, her gaze was focused, relaxed and yet, in their wide, dark depths, Sungmin knew she was being serious. He knew that if he started hiding things again, she would stop trusting him.
“You accuse me for hiding something when you’re hiding something too,” Sungmin stated. He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest,
Taeyeon blinked and Sungmin suddenly wasn’t so sure of his statement. “What am I hiding?”
“Your emotions!” Sungmin exclaimed, getting to his feet, “I’m sitting here and I can’t even mark a single question, meanwhile you’re sitting there, doing your work as if I were just anyone!”
What happened next was nothing Sungmin expected: she laughed. A melodic, warm, beautiful laugh that washed over him and reminded him of the smiling face and kind heart he fell in love with seven years ago. He stared a moment before narrowing his eyes. He stared at her, waiting.
When she stopped laughing, she tilted her head slightly to the side as her eyes continued laughing when her mouth did not; “You think you don’t affect me? Sungmin, I’ve lived seven years trying to hide how I felt about you. I had to live two months of you being my teacher without letting you figure out my feelings. I work hard for my grades – I’m not Kyuhyun. If I allowed your presence in class to disrupt my concentration, no amount of time in the library would salvage my grade-point average.”
“So… it does bother you when I’m around?” Sungmin inquired, eyes narrowed sceptically, not caring that he was destroying the image and dignity of him being a teacher.
Taeyeon stood up from her desk, walked to his and leaned her hip against the side of his desk, “Sungmin, it thoroughly bothers me when you’re around. I’ve just had more practice of disregarding you when you’re around.”
“You’re still able to push me from your mind,” he accused,
Taeyeon looks wrapped her arms around her torso, “It’s almost automatic that I write what I read. I’ve been writing for the past fifteen minutes and I don’t even know what I’ve written, Sungmin. I’ll go back later when you’re not around and reread what I’ve written.”
“If… if you’re not doing your homework, then why are you staying here? You could get more work done in the library,” Sungmin asked, his stare softening,
Taeyeon smiled and for a moment, he completely forgot what they were talking about; “I’m staying because you’re not in the library; you’re here.”
“Damn it… you came here because you know I can’t wait until summer break,” Sungmin muttered as he closed the distance between them, raising his hands and cupping her face,
“I really just wanted to spend time with you,” Taeyeon insisted, arms still crossed loosely, “But, if you wanted to do more, I’m certainly not complaining.”
“Why are you making this difficult?” Sungmin sighed as he leaned down until his forehead kissed hers,
“I just wanted to spend time with you. You’re the emotionally unstable one,” Taeyeon teased lightly, still refusing to touch him,
“Yes, well, just having you around makes things difficult,” Sungmin stated as he withdrew his head enough to see her clearly,
“Well, you could just kiss me,” Taeyeon shrugged, her tone light as if they spoke of only the weather,
“Damn it, you know if I do that, it’ll be even harder to wait for summer-break,” Sungmin muttered angrily at her,
“I never liked your summer-break rule,” Taeyeon reminded simply, “Therefore, I don’t care if you break it. Therefore –”
“Just kiss you already?” Sungmin mused,
“I knew you were smart,” Taeyeon smiled up at him, uncrossing her arms and reaching for him; “So, can you kiss me now so I can go back to work?”
Sungmin stroked the apple of her cheeks with his thumbs as he leaned in. He felt her warmth, could feel the barest of softness from her lips.
“Is Eeteuk aware that another of his teachers is making moves on another student?”
Sungmin sighed heavily as he straightened, his hands dropping to his side. He stepped back from Taeyeon and stared as the mathematics teacher strode into the room, “You have horrible timing.”
“Apparently, I have rather good timing,” Hankyung argued as he approached the front, “What if another teacher had walked in or – worse – a student?”
Sungmin shot Taeyeon a slanted look, “I told you so.”
Taeyeon rolled her eyes, “As if I care. I told you that those consequences don’t matter to me. If I were expelled, my parents would just send me to another school.”
“And I told you those consequences matter to me,” Sungmin argued,
Hankyung looked between the two before interjecting; “Um… have you two ever realized the danger towards Sungmin’s career? If he were found with a student, not only would he have to leave SJA, but he’d be ostracized wherever he went… he wouldn’t be able to find a job as a teacher anywhere.” When Taeyeon looked at him with wide eyes and Sungmin looked away, he paused, “You never talked about that, did you?”
“Sungmin was always talking about the danger to me that I… I never stopped to think,” Taeyeon turned her gaze to Sungmin, “Why didn’t you remind me? Why didn’t you mention the consequences that pertained to you!?”
Sungmin leaned his hips back against the short bookcases beneath the classroom’s windows and shoved his hands into his pockets; “Because I –” He glanced at the other teacher, “Can you give us some privacy please?”
“I don’t know… you might take advantage of Kim-sshi,” Hankyung mused,
Sungmin rolled his eyes, “Yeah, right. If anything, she’ll take advantage of –”
Taeyeon leapt across the distance between them, her hands clasped over Sungmin’s mouth. She looked over her shoulder at the mathematics teacher; “I’ll be fine, Seonsaeng-nim.”
When Hankyung looked at the other teacher in a silent question, Sungmin turned his mouth away from Taeyeon’s hands and questioned challengingly, “Visited the nurse’s office lately?”
The palest hue of pink tinged the older man’s cheeks. He turned on his heel and immediately left, closing the door securely behind him.
Taeyeon lowered one hand, but grabbed his jaw with her other hand, forcing him to look back at her; “When we talk about waiting to be together, why didn’t you ever mention what would happen to you? Why did you always just mention me?”
“It’s hard to talk when you’re making my lips purse like this,” Sungmin managed, barely comprehensible. Taeyeon sighed as she dropped her hand. Before it completely fell away, he grabbed her hand, holding it over his heart; “I never mentioned what would happen to me because I didn’t think about them… because they didn’t matter to me as much as what would happen to you.” He looked into her wide, almond-shaped eyes, “I never said anything because even I didn’t think about it.”
“I… I should go,” Taeyeon sighed softly as she tugged her hand away,
“At least one kiss before you go,” Sungmin said quietly, wrapping his other arm around her waist, pulling her closer,
“Han Seonsaeng-nim is right… someone might come in,” Taeyeon stated as she dropped her gaze from his.
Sungmin lowered his head, trying to nudge her to look back at him, “Taeyeon…”
“I was being selfish again… I only kept arguing for myself and I never thought about how this could hurt you,” Taeyeon said quietly as she finally looked up at him, “I… I’ll work on not being so selfish.” She slipped away from his hold and began packing up her books, “I’ll go study in the library.”
Sungmin watched silently as Taeyeon dutifully closed her books and slipped them into her backpack. Swinging her arms through the shoulder straps, she shot him one small smile before turning to leave. She made it a desk-length away before Sungmin lunged towards her, grabbing a piece of her bag to stop her. She paused, turning back to look at him,
“What are you doing?”
“You don’t have to leave,” he insisted, “I… I’ll just mark really slow, but you can stay.”
“If someone comes in –”
“We’re just a student getting extra help from a teacher, right? You said so yourself,” Sungmin offered her a quirk of his lips,
“We just have to wait another month and half,” She replied softly, left feeling weak after realizing how arrogant she had been acting.
“Well, that may be soon enough for you, but it isn’t for me,” Sungmin scoffed as he tugged her back to the desk where she sat and gestured for her to sit down again, “I have no problems just sitting here and spending some time together – albeit quietly and not doing anything – but if you can’t handle keeping your hands off me, then by all means, do leave.”
Taeyeon straightened immediately, raising a single brow at him. She crossed her arms over her chest, “Don’t use my own words pretending they’re yours.”
Sungmin smiled at her warning tone, “Does this mean you’ll stay?”
“Does this mean you’ll stop trying to kiss me?”
“Does this mean you’ll stop asking me to kiss you?”
Taeyeon narrowed her eyes but said nothing as she nodded curtly. Sungmin replied with his own nod. He watched silently, smugly, as Taeyeon sighed, slipped off her backpack and began unpacking her books once more.
It was the most peculiar of things he had ever decided to do. The dinner hour came around and he had gone to seek out Taeyeon who most likely was still in the library. When he hadn’t found her there, he had sought out Sungmin to see if he knew. He had barely opened the door a few centimetres when he saw that Taeyeon was seated near the front of the class studying and Sungmin sat at his desk studying, well, her. He had run into Taeyeon just after the lunch hour and she had said she was going to the library to study. As he slowly eased the door closed, he began to wonder how long she had been with Sungmin.
Eventually, he found his way to his sister’s room in the teacher’s dormitory corridor in the east wing. He knocked and Kyuri opened the door, letting him in. She walked past him to the bed, lying perpendicularly across the mattress on her side, clutching a pillow to her stomach.
“Not going to get food for dinner?” Kyuhyun asked as he plopped down on the bed, lying on his stomach,
“No,” Kyuri closed her eyes as if tired, “I don’t think I can eat anything in the dining hall.”
“But it’s evening… you can’t have morning sickness,” Kyuhyun said,
“I don’t think it is… it’s more like… an aversion to everything,” Kyuri answered, “What about you? I know you can’t eat, but don’t you usually go down with Taeyeon?”
“She’s busy and there’s no point in me going down there to sit and stare at food I can’t eat,” Kyuhyun shrugged.
Kyuri opened her eyes, studying him silently before asking bluntly, “Are you hungry? You haven’t fed since… what, Friday when Zhou Mi-sshi was here?”
Kyuhyun stared up at the ceiling, linking his fingers behind his head; “Have you forgotten? I’ve gone months without eating before. I’m fine.” Kyuhyun paused and then turned his head against the mattress to look at his sister, “Why, are you offering?”
Kyuri blinked, startled.
Kyuhyun chuckled softly, “I’m just kidding. I only feed from Mi.”
“Not even from Taeyeon? You said you’ve gone months without eating, but she seems the type to offer her blood in a silver cup if it meant feeding you,” Kyuri noted, not unkindly,
“She is and she did,” Kyuhyun confirmed, “But I didn’t want to feed and – for lack of a better way to describe it – Mi more or less forced me to drink his blood.”
Kyuri’s lips formed an O but said no more. Silence fell between them, Kyuhyun staring up at the ceiling, wondering what to say and Kyuri shutting her eyes again, trying to figure out how to eat without feeling sick or nauseous afterwards.
Finally, Kyuri broke the silence, “What was it like to be transformed?”
“What?” Kyuhyun snapped his gaze back to his sister,
“Well… all I’ve ever known is that vampires must be killed, but you’ve effectively broken that mould. So, I want to know what is it like?” Kyuri explained simply.
Kyuhyun blinked, momentarily startled. If three weeks ago someone had told him that he’d be so calmly situated with his twin sister, he would have called them a liar and potentially mentally unstable. Actually, if someone had told him – after reuniting with said twin sister – that she would come to accept his vampirism, he would have thought them mad.
Finally, inhaling deeply, slowly, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to remember that night almost a year ago; “The first night, it’s painful. It almost feels as if I’m burning from the inside out.” He paused, his body momentarily remembering the pain; his muscles locked in continuous contraction; his head pounding as if the vessels would rupture; his heart as if it would explode; his lungs as if each breath took in sharp shards that cut him, bled him, killed him from the inside.
“I think that first night, my body was deciding whether or not to accept the change,” Kyuhyun mused thoughtfully as the memories swept away and his muscles and joints unlocked, eased back against the mattress; “I remember pain and I remember the first time I needed blood. I saw red – literally. It was as if everything I saw was in a wash of red paint.”
He paused again. He barely remembered that part of the night when his blood lust first came on. It was as if he were thrown into a torrent of rage, of need, of burning desire to find, seize and take and keep taking even if it meant death for the other person. He remembered being in a small room, perhaps the isolation room in the nurse’s office, and he remember thrashing against a bed, being tied down from tight bands around his chest and thighs.
“Heechul was there,” Kyuhyun said quietly, feeling his stomach contract with guilt; “I don’t remember a lot of specifics of that night, but I remember Heechul.”
“What… what was it like after you turned?” Kyuri asked tentatively, never truly realizing how deeply vampirism affected Kyuhyun, hurt him. “You said you saw red…”
“All colours were gone,” Kyuhyun looked up at the white ceiling, remembering when everything was still in greyscale; “All I remember is sitting and trying to force myself to see colours. I tried to remember. As the months passed, I tried to remember colours and what they looked like. I’ll admit, it’s hard to appreciate things when it’s all black, white and grey but, I’ve known better before, I’ve known more before.”
“But you see more colours now right? I remember you only seeing the yellow pigment in skin colour,” Kyuri recalled,
Kyuhyun nodded as he lay supine, “Red was first, then yellow. More recently,” he paused to smile slightly, “I’ve been able to merge the colours to see orange.” He paused again and Kyuri thought he wouldn’t say more, but then, “When I saw colours again… it was better… brighter than my memories.”
“Do you think the more you feed then, eventually, you’ll be able to see more colours?” Kyuri asked curiously, slowly. She and her brother had begun to build a bridge between them. However, it was still new, fresh, precarious. Kibum had been right in saying she needed this, him. It filled a void she thought long forgotten and she didn’t want to lose it now that she was beginning to see all she could have.
“I hope so,” Kyuhyun answered, “It could take weeks, months, years, I may never see anything beyond those three colours… but at least it’s not all grey anymore.”
He turned his head to glance at his sister, startled to see a small, indulgent smile on her lips. When he raised an eyebrow in silent wonder, she realized what her lips had been doing and she straightened them immediately and muttered incoherently her excuses. A silence fell between them again. This time, however, it wasn’t as awkward as before, where both felt that the silence needed to be filled, as if the silence was suffocating. This time, it was comfortable, soothing. This time, no words needed to be said.
The door opened without warning and Kibum entered. He paused when he saw the scene, but then continued to Kyuri’s bathroom, dropping a black backpack by the desk while doing so.
Kyuhyun sat up, “Is that blood!?” He eyed the dark splatters on Kibum’s dark clothing. Kibum blinked, glanced at Kyuri and then disappeared into the bathroom. Kyuhyun looked at his sister, “What’s going on? Where did they go? You’ve been evading that question all weekend.”
Kyuri glanced at the bathroom door, “Um… that’s… that’s not for me to tell,” she stammered, unused to losing her composure, but apparently her brother was able to do that. “If Kibum’s back, that means so is Zhou Mi-sshi… maybe you should –” She broke off as Kyuhyun jumped from the bed and bolted out of the room.
After the door closed after him, Kyuri left the bed and padded over to the bathroom. She opened the door just as Kibum turned on the water for the shower, allowing for it to warm up. Clad in just black slacks now, Kibum just glanced at her as he began to unbuckle his belt, not caring if he was undressing in front of her. He was dirty and he needed to shower. He didn’t even so much as blink as she closed the distance between them, her palms sweeping over every exposed expanse of skin, mentally checking that he was whole. When she was done, her hands came to his face, cradling it and looking up into his eyes.
“I’m all here,” Kibum stated finally, his monotonous voice like a soothing wash running over her.
She sighed with relief as she dropped her arms, wrapping them around his abdomen and then laid her cheek against his clammy skin, “I don’t like you going on a mission without me. I… think things and… feel things.”
“Why do you think I go with you everywhere?” Kibum countered, more to make a statement rather than to defend himself. “I’m guessing Kyuhyun went to Zhou Mi?”
Kyuri nodded, “Do you think he’ll tell my brother the truth?”
Kibum shook his head, “I don’t know… but he’s been silent since the mission ended this morning.”
“What happened?” Kyuri asked,
“Let me shower first and then I’ll tell you,” Kibum said as he disengaged from her. She headed for the door when he called to her, “There’s some crackers in my bag. I know you haven’t eaten yet.” She blinked in surprise, but he said nothing.
Kyuhyun had to be careful and quiet. He was risking a lot being in the east wing’s fourth floor. Even if he was with his sister, he couldn’t easily explain why he was walking away from her room and deeper into the teacher’s area. When he turned right at the end of the hall, he breathed easier, sure that he hadn’t been seen. He walked to the only door in that small side-corridor and knocked. The door opened and he only had a brief glance at Zhou Mi’s face before he was yanked into the room.
Suddenly, he found the door pressed against his back, a solid, warm body against his front and familiar soft but firm lips slanted against his own. Those lips were unrelenting, working against his own until, before he realized it, the sweep of a tongue slipped into his mouth and it thrust over and over against his own at a merciless tempo.
As soon as it started, however, it ended. He was dazed still from the sudden onslaught as Zhou Mi, hands framing his face, just peered at him.
“Is… something wrong?” Kyuhyun asked, trying to read the emotions running in the other’s eyes, but not able to.
“I need to tell you something. I didn’t tell you before because I was scared you’d leave me… but I realized that I need you to know because I need you whenever I return and I need you to understand why I need you.” Zhou Mi stated,
Kyuhyun blinked, “Oh… ‘kay…”
Zhou Mi had taken half a step back, but his hands were braced against the door on either side of Kyuhyun’s head, caging him in, “I left for the weekend and Kibum came with me because I knew he was experienced.”
“Experienced? But… but he’s a Hunter,” Kyuhyun’s eyes widened, “You’re… you’re a Hunter?”
Zhou Mi swallowed hard, wanting to correct him, but deciding against it. One surprise at a time, he thought. “Yes. I’m a Hunter and even Headmaster Park isn’t aware of this; he just thinks I’m a Council Member.” He waited, tensed and barely breathing.
“So… you two went on… a hunt?” Kyuhyun asked tentatively, eyes locked with the other’s,
“They’re called missions, but yes,” Zhou Mi confirmed. He decided being concise, matter-of-factly was his best route.
“Did you… kill… a vampire?”
“Yes,” Zhou Mi answered swiftly and added immediately, “A pureblood.”
Kyuhyun stood there then, silent. He tried to digest the information, tried to sort and understand it properly. His gaze never left Zhou Mi’s, who stared back unwaveringly. He wanted to turn away, wanted to leave this Hunter. At the same time, however, he knew it was Zhou Mi and didn’t want to leave Zhou Mi. However, Zhou Mi and the Hunter were one in the same. The longer he stared into the other’s eyes, he began to see chips within the armour. He began to see glimpses of anxiety, worry, and just a hint of vulnerability. He examined then not his response to Zhou Mi’s secret, but what it meant that Zhou Mi said the secret in the first place.
Finally, he inhaled slowly, deeply and asked slowly, distinctly, “If your… mission… was to go after a turned vampire –”
“I would have refused,” He stated automatically, “Before… I admit, I would have just taken the mission. But after you, I can’t; not after knowing that turned vampires are not like purebloods.” His gaze softened just a fraction, “Surely… you knew that?”
“Why do you need me after coming back from a mission?” Kyuhyun asked, ignoring the other’s question,
“Because all I could think about for the past two days was what if the Council found out about you… what if there was a mission for…” Zhou Mi shook his head, “All I kept thinking about was what if I hadn’t met you, hadn’t known better… All I kept remembering were all the vampires who I did… and they weren’t purebloods…” Zhou Mi swallowed hard, “I see your face and I feel sad because purebloods don’t have the option to control themselves… I feel sad because if I ever receive a mission for a turned vampire and I decline, I know that there’ll be a Hunter elsewhere who will take the mission.”
“When I was attacked last year… was it because someone had declined a mission?” Kyuhyun asked suddenly, his eyes widening as if surprised at his own words. He shook his head, “But no… that has nothing to do with you being a Hunter.”
“I… I’ve often been given missions for this district Kyuhyun,” Zhou Mi prompted gently, knowing he was risking a lot, slowly revealing more and more of his true occupation.
“But you’re just a Hunter. A Head Hunter would be responsible for the missions and insuring that they’re completed,” Kyuhyun defended, “You have nothing to do with me being attacked, Mi. If anything, I’d like to have a good talk with the Head Hunter for this district.”
Zhou Mi swallowed hard before managing, “I… I was sent here to correct last year’s mistake.” At that, Kyuhyun raised surprised brows. So, Zhou Mi elaborated, “You weren’t the only one attacked last year, nor were you the last. In truth, that vampire still hasn’t been caught. I was sent here to overlook and search the area. There haven’t been any attacks lately by that vampire and, in truth, no one has seen anything of that vampire for some time now.”
“You’re here to protect the school and this area, aren’t you?” Zhou Mi nodded. Kyuhyun then asked, “So why don’t you tell the Headmaster? You’re here to protect, do good.”
“Because the Headmaster hates the Council. More so, the Headmaster hates Hunters,” Zhou Mi explained, “If I told him the truth, before I could even explain the basis of my mission, he’d have me booted off campus. I can’t protect the school if I’m not allowed even on the grounds.”
Kyuhyun paused a moment and then hesitantly asked, “I’m assuming you’d have to send word or reports or something about a vampire in this area.” Zhou Mi nodded. “What… what about me?”
Zhou Mi’s stare hardened immediately, “After everything I just told you, you still have to ask me that?”
Kyuhyun blinked and then shook his head in a silent, negative answer. After a moment, Zhou Mi slowly lowered his hands from the door, his body relaxing bit by bit. He cast Kyuhyun a hesitant glance, “So… we’re okay?”
To confirm it, Kyuhyun raised a hand to the other’s cheek, but immediately retracted his hand. All the same, however, he said sincerely, “Yes. We’re okay.”
Zhou Mi stared at him, concerned, “What is it?”
“I… Your thoughts. There was…” Kyuhyun looked past him, his eyes glazing over in memory, “Three people and then… blood…”
“I’m usually in a group of five, but Kibum insisted we only needed one other person,” Zhou Mi explained, “He’s… quiet but… We only needed three people.” He paused, staring at the peculiar look in the younger man’s dark eyes, “Are you okay? I know that missions aren’t pleasant to see, let alone engage in but…”
Kyuhyun shook his head, “I’m fine. Just…”
“Go shower,” Kyuhyun cast him a rueful smile, “You’re dirty.”
Zhou Mi looked down at his own clothing, stained with dirt, grass and dried blood. After looking at Kyuhyun a moment longer, nodded and immediately strode into the bathroom. As the door closed after him, Kyuhyun’s eyes remained on the door. Tentatively, he reflected on the thoughts he saw. There were only three people, but why did it seem like Zhou Mi was the one directing the other two rather than just working together with them?
Kyuhyun leaned a shoulder against the side of the window, arms crossed about his torso. Dressed in pyjama bottoms and a simple t-shirt, he slowly moved his eyes from the clear night sky to the body stretched out on his bed beneath the covers. He and Zhou Mi had done nothing but kiss, but this was the second time he had literally slept with him. After Zhou Mi had showered, Kyuhyun had left, checking on his sister before returning back to his room.
Two hours later, Zhou Mi had slipped into his room. Kyuhyun, who had been reading in bed, his back against the headboard looked up, surprised. He had slowly slipped the book onto the bedside table as Zhou Mi approached, taking off his button-up and dress pants. Clad in just his boxers and under-shirt, Zhou Mi, without asking, climbed onto the bed and just laid beneath the covers on his stomach, his face half buried in a pillow.
Blinking, Kyuhyun slid down in the mattress until he was stretched out along the other, propped on an elbow. He reached with a hand and almost immediately, Zhou Mi pulled Kyuhyun against him. He said nothing, but held the younger man flush against him, his face still turned into the pillow. Kyuhyun slowly, tentatively, wrapped an arm around Zhou Mi’s head, holding it against his chest, his other hand idly rubbing soothing circles on the other’s back. He wasn’t sure how long they lay like that until Zhou Mi’s breathing became shallow and even.
As soon as he was sure Zhou Mi wouldn’t wake up, Kyuhyun slowly slid his arms from around him and carefully slid from the bed. Since then, about an hour now, Kyuhyun had stood by one of the windows in his room. As he had lain with Zhou Mi, the images continued of what he assumed had been Zhou Mi’s mission. However, when Zhou Mi fell asleep and his thoughts had settled, Kyuhyun was bombarded by the memories of his nightmare. The images had been too clear, the emotions too vibrant to just be dismissed for a dream…
He cared for Zhou Mi, he knew that much. He didn’t want to leave Zhou Mi, despite that night’s revelation. He didn’t want to walk away from… whatever it was they had. He didn’t want to lose what they had.
He was scared that his nightmare was more than just that. He was scared that his telepathy was showing him something more. He was scared that if he stayed with Zhou Mi, that eventually, he wouldn’t be able to stop his blood lust. He would lose control, his world would be painted red again and he wouldn’t stop even when he had his fill. If his nightmare told him anything it was this: if he stayed with Zhou Mi, he would end up killing him.
(Phase 17: Cold Summer)