(Phase 17 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Seventeen: Cold Summer
Last week of June 20XX; Day before the first day of Summer Break
Something had changed.
He couldn’t be completely sure and he couldn’t say it out loud, but he was sure. Over the past month and half, something fundamentally had changed. There were times when he still slept beside him, an arm around his waist. There were times when he would steal kisses, but only after the other had fed. He couldn’t remember the last time when the other kissed him first.
As he sat at his desk at the front of the room as the students silently did their work, he leaned back in his chair, presumably looking over the class when, truly, all his senses, all of his attention, was centred on the man in the back corner at the desk closest to the door and farthest from the windows.
Kyuhyun never denied his attention, never turned away from him or stopped him. At the same time, however, he never came to him except to feed and even then, he knew the feedings were fewer than before. It could be that Kyuhyun was still wary about feeding, or that Kyuhyun had gotten busy with finals the past two weeks. He would have attributed the sudden distance to Kyuhyun’s nightmare, but that was a month and half ago, surely, Kyuhyun was no longer having that nightmare.
When the bell rang, the students immediately packed up their things and sped out of the room. As always, Zhou Mi noted, Kyuhyun and Taeyeon took their time; Kyuhyun because he avoided bumping shoulders with the crowds and Taeyeon because she stayed by Kyuhyun’s side.
Zhou Mi stood from his chair and slowly made his way across the room just as Kyuhyun and Taeyeon stood from their desks and began packing their bags. He leaned his hips against the desk beside Taeyeon’s as his gaze casually swept over them,
“So, three more classes until summer break,” Zhou Mi said nonchalantly,
“I bet most of the students won’t attend those classes,” Taeyeon said as she closed her bag and slipped the straps over her shoulders. At Zhou Mi’s raised eyebrows, she explained, “Most of the teachers don’t do anything the last day, especially since we’ve already had exams. Actually, I’m surprised most students didn’t leave after the last exam yesterday. They only came to this class because they knew they’d need extra credit to pass your test.”
“Oh. What about you two? You two aren’t in danger of failing,” Zhou Mi admitted simply,
“The car doesn’t come to pick us up until tonight,” Kyuhyun answered bluntly as he slung his satchel strap diagonally over a shoulder and locked gazes with him, “Taeyeon’s mom wants to ensure we finish all our classes before we get picked up.”
Taeyeon glanced between the two and unknowingly took a step back. She wasn’t sure what she saw but what she felt was a thick tension that put her on edge.
“Um… Kyuhyun, I have to use the washroom, so I’ll meet you in our next class,” Taeyeon said as she shifted away and escaped. She didn’t like abandoning Kyuhyun, but she knew that if something was wrong between him and the literature teacher, it was best she not come between them.
“What are your plans during the break?” Zhou Mi asked tentatively, fully aware that he didn’t have to teach a class next and knowing they wouldn’t be interrupted.
“I would say spend my days with Taeyeon, but considering Sungmin is probably expecting to spend time with her, I’ll probably just stay in the house and avoid the sun,” Kyuhyun shrugged. He paused and then glanced at Zhou Mi, “Are you going back to the Council during the break?”
Zhou Mi nodded, “That was always the plan when this all started.”
A brief silence fell between them before Kyuhyun asked tentatively, “How many missions will you receive?”
“I… I don’t know,” Zhou Mi answered and then added lightly with a slight quirk of his lips, “It’s not like I have a quota of vampires to hunt each year.”
Kyuhyun offered a small smile before looking away. Zhou Mi observed him for a moment. He was still sure that something had changed, but just now, for a brief moment, it felt as if nothing had changed. He closed the distance between them, took Kyuhyun’s chin between thumb and forefinger and made him look at him.
“I won’t let the Council know about you, Kyuhyun,” Zhou Mi promised, “I won’t let any threat come to you.”
Kyuhyun looked at him, his eyes searching and searching. Finally, his entire body relaxed as he nodded his silent understanding. After a moment, he stepped away from Zhou Mi, “I have to go to class.”
Zhou Mi slowly dropped his hand away from the other, his dark eyes sweeping over the younger man’s face, “Will you come and see me before you leave today?”
He wanted to say ‘no’, Zhou Mi could tell. He could see it in the sudden stiffening of the limbs he loved in his arms. He could see it in the peculiar light in the eyes he stared into so many times. He could see the thoughts forming in the mind he thought he knew. Zhou Mi was half tempted to take back his words and yet, he didn’t dare, couldn’t dare to not at least try.
He saw the moment Kyuhyun decided to agree. His limbs had relaxed slightly and his eyes had dulled of their usual light. Zhou Mi almost flinched, almost turned away and yet, was scared that if he turned away, when he turned back, Kyuhyun wouldn’t be there anymore. And so, he waited. He waited for the ‘yes’ that would hurt him more than an honest ‘no’.
“Of course,” Kyuhyun said quietly and simply. He threw him one more smile and then left the room.
Zhou Mi watched him leave, watched the door close after him. He didn’t say ‘no’ as he knew he wouldn’t. But he didn’t say ‘yes’ either. He had said ‘of course’ as if there was no other answer, as if he hadn’t considered any other answer.
Zhou Mi had been wrong, that answer hurt the most.
Later that day, Zhou Mi sat at his desk once more. Leaning back in his chair, his face tilted towards the wall of windows. At that time of day, the sun wasn’t shining directly into the classroom as it did in the mornings, but the day was still bright and he enjoyed forgetting himself in the pale blue of the clear sky. He had passed the rest of the day in a set of motions, not truly thinking of what he was doing. His students would come in to see a set of questions already set on their desks. They would work for the whole period and he wouldn’t even so much as say a word before they left his classroom.
His mind kept replaying the last time he saw Kyuhyun. His mind kept analyzing every moment since Kyuhyun left the nurse’s office in an attempt to understand what was going on. Could it still be about that damned nightmare?
The door opening pulled Zhou Mi out of his inner thoughts, but he moved not an inch, barely breathed as he continued his air of distraction. Soft footsteps slowly approached until, in his periphery, he saw Kyuhyun coming to form. The younger man stepped into his field of vision and then came closer, truly believing that Zhou Mi was so deep in thought, he was oblivious to all else.
Zhou Mi blinked once. Twice. A third time for good measure before slowly tilting his face up to the towering student, “Kyuhyun,” he said simply, softly, his voice a verbal caress.
“My family’s car will be here soon,” Kyuhyun gave no more, leaving that to explain his presence there.
“We never talked about this… but how will you feed during the break? You’d only be free to move during the night and I doubt your aunt and uncle would like that… I could always come to you, but I’ll be busy at the Council and who knows how your family will appreciate me frequenting your house,” Zhou Mi stated,
“I’ll be fine,” Kyuhyun insisted, “And… if ever I really need you, I can always have Sungmin contact you.”
Zhou Mi blinked, “If you ever really need me?”
“To feed,” Kyuhyun clarified, not realizing the slight emphasis the other had used,
“But why can’t you just contact me directly?” Zhou Mi asked, recovering slowly, but refusing to show any reaction,
“If my aunt and uncle get protective… or if someone finds out I contacted you,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “There’s less risk if Sungmin contacts you.”
Silence fell between them, but it was different somehow. It was thick, tense and something Zhou Mi wasn’t accustomed to when around Kyuhyun. He tried to read Kyuhyun’s face, knowing that most – if not all – of his emotions would be in the dark depths of his eyes. However, Kyuhyun kept his face tilted away.
Finally, Kyuhyun looked at him, “I should get going now –”
Kyuhyun turned to leave, indeed, took a step away when Zhou Mi had grabbed his hand, the exertion bringing him to his feet. He stood now, an arm outstretched and fingers clasped around the other’s hand. Kyuhyun turned back to look at him, silently waiting for an explanation for the sudden gesture.
Zhou Mi resisted the urge, instinct, to grip his hand tighter and never let it go. Slowly, his fingers fell from the other’s as he straightened. His gaze locked with Kyuhyun’s, he began to talk slowly, tentatively, “Before I said that I hope I’m more than just a meal to you. I’ve realized lately… recently… that you never confirmed my belief… or dissuaded my doubts.”
Kyuhyun’s eyes widened slightly. Zhou Mi had always presented himself as a confident, strong person. He had a light, easy disposition and that only changed when he was upset. Indeed, he perpetually had a smile on his face. When he was upset, he was still confident, still strong, in his dark emotions. But before him now was different from the other sides he had seen. This Zhou Mi was neither confident nor strong. This Zhou Mi was vulnerable and Kyuhyun realized then that it was he who had brought forth this Zhou Mi. He hated himself for it. Granted, he didn’t know what to expect when he began acting…
He knew what he had to do then. One more time, one brief moment, he knew what he had to do.
Kyuhyun took the hand Zhou Mi had lowered. He raised it and pressed it flat over his heart as he stepped closer. Eyes locked with the other, he said simply, “If you were just a meal, do you think my heart would be beating this fast?” He raised his hands to Zhou Mi’s face, framing it carefully, “When I see you, I don’t see a meal, Mi,” Kyuhyun stated simply, seriously before smirking slightly, “Nor do I see pork buns.”
“Good, because pork buns scare the hell out of me,” Zhou Mi muttered, stilled. He knew something had changed, but now, just like that morning, things had reverted. He didn’t know if this was permanent or another relapse, but he wanted to hang onto the moment and keep it, force it to forever. But as he gazed at the younger man, he knew instantly, whole-heartedly, that he wanted – needed – that the moment be given for forever.
Kyuhyun stepped closer to Zhou Mi and then tilted his face slightly upwards to the other’s and kissed him. Zhou Mi kept his hand sandwiched between them, flat against Kyuhyun’s chest. He wanted to wrap his arm around him, wanted to pull him closer, keep him there. He wanted to never let go and yet, felt that if he moved, he’d be forcing something that Kyuhyun may not want anymore. So, he stood still, kept still, allowed the other to play out the kiss, lead him this time.
He allowed his eyes to flutter close as he prayed for forever.
They were the last to leave SJA for the summer break. As Taeyeon had predicted, the entire SJA student population had left campus well before the final bell rang. So, at 6 in the evening, the campus was practically bare, most teachers already long-gone as well.
Taeyeon stood in the entrance hall with Kyuri as Sungmin, Kyuhyun and Kibum approached, each carrying a suitcase with them, Kibum carrying two. Sungmin placed the suitcase he had near Taeyeon as Kibum did the same with Kyuri. Kyuhyun placed his own suitcase before him.
“Car still not here?” Kyuhyun asked,
“I think I saw it at the gates… but really, it’s not like our car is the only black town car in Korea,” Taeyeon shrugged as she eyed her cousin’s suitcases, “Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us during the break? It saves the effort of flying back to Japan and then back here at the end of August.”
“I told you,” Kibum muttered as he loosely crossed his arms about his torso,
Kyuri shot him a glare before looking back at her cousin and shaking her head, “I don’t want to impose on your parents. Besides… I don’t think it’s wise considering the animosity between my parents and myself.”
Taeyeon blinked, “So?”
“Have you forgotten that our mothers are sisters?” Kyuri questioned,
“No… but why would that mean anything?” Taeyeon countered, “Your mother hasn’t spoken to my mother for a year now.”
“Our parents were quite thorough with eradicating me from their lives,” Kyuhyun confirmed lightly, “Once Auntie and Uncle took me in, Mother became quite insistent in acting like an only child.”
Kyuri blinked, startled for a moment before rushing to add, “Still… It’s fine, I have some business to take care of in Japan anyway.”
Kibum eyed her suspiciously, each tone nuance in her words registering in his mind. However, he kept silent as he was wont to do.
Taeyeon sighed, “Well, I guess that’s okay. It’s not like I’ve told my parents you’re back… I didn’t know if you wanted to see them and I knew they’d rush over if they knew.”
“Thank you,” Kyuri said sincerely,
“I don’t. I want to see Auntie barge in here and fuss and pander and just… take over your life,” Kyuhyun said baldly.
Taeyeon, lips twitching, muttered, “She’s not that bad.”
Kyuhyun glanced at his cousin, “If Kyuri’s around, Auntie will spend less time focusing on us.”
Sungmin, seeing the mischievous light entering his friend’s eyes, rolled his own before stating, “Okay, quit taunting Kyuri. Last I remember your mother is just doing her job as a parent.”
“Ever the teacher,” Taeyeon rolled her eyes as she glanced out a window, “The car’s here,” she glanced at Sungmin, “Come with me to the car?”
Sungmin nodded as he picked up the suitcase and followed her outside.
Kyuhyun turned to his sister and Kibum, “I’ll see you both after the break?”
“If you don’t get yourself killed before then,” Kyuri stated bluntly,
“I’m pretty sure that job is reserved for you,” Kyuhyun returned easily as he picked up his suitcase, “Do you think I can make it to the car before the afternoon sun gets me?” He threw his sister a cheeky grin before escaping.
Kyuri adjusted her stance so she could see through one of the long, thin windows on either side of the front doors. She saw a slightly-rotund, middle-aged woman exit the car and practically shove her twin into the backseat of the black town car. She watched as her twin stuck his head out of the car only to get scolded by the familiar woman once more. When that woman turned her gaze towards her, Kyuri stiffened.
She turned to leave, but Kibum placed his hands on her shoulders and stood behind her, “No running away.”
“Sadistic bastard, let me go!” Kyuri hissed at him,
“No. If that’s your family, you are no longer allowed to run away,” Kibum argued simply, steadily, his tone never varying.
“Why the hell not!?” Kyuri struggled against his surprising iron-like grip,
“Because I do not have a family I can run from. Therefore, I will not let you run from a family you do have,” Kibum stated with a finality which Kyuri recognized. Over the years she had learned to understand the slight nuances in Kibum’s tone, even when there never seemed to be any.
The heavy, front doors opened and the round woman entered, her dark, sharp gaze on Kyuri. She immediately strode over to the young pair and, before anything could occur, Kibum gently pushed Kyuri. She stumbled into the plump arms of her aunt. Kyuri moved her head to glare back at Kibum, but she stopped, froze when she began to hear the soft cries and whispered apologies of her aunt.
Two months later; end of August 20XX
She barely batted an eyelash when the door opened and her cousin entered the room. Then again, he barely spared her a glance as he continued to his bed and fell back on the mattress. Folding his hands beneath his head, he closed his eyes. Silence fell between them for a five-count before he broke the silence,
“What are you doing?”
“Packing,” she answered simply, swiftly, “You haven’t started yet and we go back to SJA in the morning.”
“If you tell me one more time that you’re not going back to SJA, I swear I’ll strangle you, Kyuhyun,” Taeyeon warned in a light, airy tone, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you this summer, because apparently, you’ve decided to start keeping secrets, but I refuse to return to SJA without you. So,” she paused only long enough to close the lid on the suitcase, which lay on the floor. She sat on the lid to close it tightly (she was not a neat folder) before continuing, “You’re coming back with me because if I don’t go back to school, my mother will kill me and then you would lose your favourite cousin.”
“My only cousin,” he interjected,
Taeyeon managed to manoeuvre the lock on the suitcase before she stood up, arms akimbo and glared down at her cousin, “When are you going to tell me what’s going on? You never hide things from me!”
“You’ve been busy this break,” Kyuhyun said, opening his eyes and locking gazes,
Taeyeon rolled her eyes, “I’ve spent maybe a quarter of this summer with just Sungmin. The other three-quarters was with both of you. So you can’t use that as an excuse!”
Kyuhyun sighed as he turned his eyes up to the ceiling, “Can I just hide it for a little bit longer?”
Taeyeon’s expression softened, “Kyuhyun… how serious is this?”
“I met someone earlier this evening,” Kyuhyun changed the subject swiftly, obviously,
“You said that a few weeks ago… you’ve said that every time I try to talk to you,” Taeyeon stated. She sat on the edge of the bed, “Who is this person? Seonsaeng-nim? No… are you… cheating on Seonsaeng-nim?”
“We just talk… or rather, he talks,” Kyuhyun said, moving his arms to cross over his stomach, “I sit there and he talks to me… he’s… a vampire. I think.”
Taeyeon snapped her attention to her cousin, immediately alert; “Kyuhyun, what if he –”
“If he wanted to kill me, he could have done so several times by now,” Kyuhyun interrupted; “No… he won’t kill me… he’s a turned vampire like me. I don’t know how I know, but… I can sense the human in him… he won’t kill me.”
“But why… why do you keep meeting him? It’s dangerous Kyuhyun. You may have controlled your bloodlust, but you have no control over the bloodlust of other vampires,” Taeyeon admonished immediately, eyes narrowed, “Kyuhyun, you can’t go off with other vampires –”
“He saved me that night,” Kyuhyun stated.
Taeyeon stilled immediately, her body stiffening completely. “W… W… What do you mean?”
“Do you remember when you found me that night?” Kyuhyun asked, his voice low and soft as if in a trance.
“Like it was yesterday,” Taeyeon murmured,
“The vampire who fed from me tore my body apart. My blood watered the grounds and fed the grass. My body was broken and my temperature had already dropped dangerously low,” Kyuhyun recalled, “There was no possible way I would have survived… even when you found me, Taeyeon, there was no way I would have been able to survive…”
“What are you saying, Kyuhyun?” Taeyeon asked tentatively,
“Someone gave me blood that night, Taeyeon… after the vampire left, but before you found me,” Kyuhyun said, turning his head enough to lock gazes with his cousin; “I’m almost completely certain that the vampire I’ve been meeting was the one to do so.”
“How can you tell? You said you passed out when you were being attacked and you woke up in the nurse’s office,” Taeyeon stated,
“When I drink blood, it… it creates a type of bond between me and the other person… I’m not sure what kind of bond, but…” Kyuhyun looked back at the ceiling, “I don’t even know if it’s true… if what I sense is even there… but with Zhou Mi, there was always a bond between us –”
“But that’s because you lo –”
“It’s more than that… different from that,” Kyuhyun replied.
Taeyeon noted that he didn’t deny her claim.
“It’s a different kind of bond,” Kyuhyun reiterated, “And… I sensed it in the turned vampire I keep meeting… I drank his blood… I must have.” He allowed his eyes to close again, “I think… I think he’s the reason the vampire didn’t kill me. And if that’s true, I can repay him by continuing to meet him.”
“Is this why you won’t come back to SJA, because you’re meeting this turned vampire?” Taeyeon asked and then, added hesitantly, “What about Seonsaeng-nim? What about –”
“I have my own reservations about returning… but I will return to SJA simply if it means that I can protect you. That vampire warned me that the one who bit me… the one who turned me… they are still out there,” Kyuhyun revealed quietly, gravely, “For this turned vampire to seek me out… to find me here of all places… the threat must be real.”
“I worry about you,” she stated seriously, softly… sternly.
He uncrossed his arms, instinctively reaching for her hand, clasping her fingers in his own, “I know… I’m sorry for making you worry so much about me.”
“You can help me worry a little less,” Taeyeon suggested quietly. When Kyuhyun said nothing, she knew it was a silent invitation for her to make her request. She knew that he knew what she wanted to ask; “What’s going on with you?”
Kyuhyun’s hand shook slightly, so subtle that Taeyeon barely believed it had happened.
Finally, he whispered, “There’s no other way… I’m going to kill Zhou Mi.”
It was still dark outside when they left the house. Kyuhyun had attempted nonchalance as he walked down the gravel driveway to the town car awaiting him and his cousin. He attempted to slip in and leave without fuss. He was not so lucky.
He had taken three steps away from the three-storey house before he was wrapped in a warm, soft embrace. He sighed, out of resignation and relief as he allowed himself to relax in his aunt’s hug. She softly scolded him for trying to escape without a goodbye,
“Please try to not get hurt this term,” his aunt said teasingly, a subtle plea in her voice, “Your uncle’s getting busy at work and we won’t be able to visit you if you do like last term.”
“I healed perfectly fine without you having to visit me,” Kyuhyun said as his aunt released him,
“Yes, well… I’ll not have people think I cannot care for my nephew!” She exclaimed, “Already there’s talk of why your parents moved away and how you’re never seen anymore… well, I’ll show them that you’re not alone and that I do not condone what my sister or brother-in-law did to you, Kyuhyun.”
His expression softened in the dark morning, the moon’s pale light reflecting off his face, “Thank you, Auntie.”
“And you tell your sister that if I don’t see her once school’s done that I’ll come to Japan myself just to give her a lecture!” His aunt warned, “We finally have her back, I won’t let her slip away again.” She sighed heavily before raising a thick hand to her nephew’s face, patting it affectionately, “Kyuhyun, if I had known what was happening all these years… if I had listened to Taeyeon all those years ago.”
Kyuhyun raised his hand to his aunt’s, meaning to pry it from his face, but then squeezed it comfortingly before lowering it, “The past is the past.” He glanced at his cousin in a silent plea.
She responded immediately, taking her mother’s hand from Kyuhyun’s and pressing a kiss to her mother’s cheek, “Me and Kyu have to leave if we want to get to school before the sun rises.”
Her mother nodded and the two of them slipped into the back of the town car as the last of their luggage was placed into the trunk. The driver turned on the engine and drove off.
The sky was considerably lighter when they arrived at the school. There, where the school was surrounded by acres of forestry, it created a thick barrier between them and the rising sun, the campus seemingly surrounded by a dark ring. Kyuhyun exited the car first, holding out a hand for his cousin. They got their luggage and said their goodbyes to the driver.
As they turned towards the front doors of the vast school, they came face to face with an old friend.
“I thought you weren’t going to be here until classes begin… tomorrow,” Taeyeon said as they reached the doors, Sungmin immediately taking her luggage from Kyuhyun,
“Yes, well, I thought perhaps to see that you two made it here myself,” Sungmin shrugged, casting a furtive glance at his friend,
“After two months, I’ve finally been able to tell when you look at me,” Kyuhyun stated dryly as they entered the school, “And I have to say, your glances are unneeded, although appreciated.”
“Hmm… well, since no one’s around, I’ll say this out loud. If a certain someone sees you and realizes you’ve lost at least fifteen pounds over the summer, he’ll kill me,” Sungmin replied, “And I have a feeling he’s the type of person to notice immediately.”
“Oh, he would,” Kyuhyun muttered, recalling immediately Zhou Mi’s other profession… true profession. “But don’t worry, he won’t get a chance to see me.”
“Okay, I need to know: what the hell –” Sungmin was cut off momentarily, “No, Taeyeon, I’m going to ask him. Summer’s over and we’re all back to reality. So answer me this Kyuhyun: what the hell is going on with you? You refused to let me contact Zhou Mi on your behalf, you refused to let me answer any of his messages. I don’t understand; before the break you two were practically inseparable… despite being teacher and student.”
Kyuhyun shot his cousin a look before simply saying, “I don’t care how empty the school looks right now, I refuse to answer that question out in the open… We can talk when we reach my room. Tae… I’ll speak with him alone.”
Taeyeon was surprised and, besides, it wasn’t as if she didn’t already know everything. However, she kept her silence. She knew what Kyuhyun would tell him and she was still reeling from when he told her the previous evening. How could Kyuhyun think that? No, it was beyond mere thought; Kyuhyun truly believed that he would kill Zhou Mi. As Sungmin and Kyuhyun fell into common place talk, she glanced at her cousin with concern. She could tell how much Kyuhyun cared about Zhou Mi and for him to believe that he was going to kill Zhou Mi was probably killing him.
When Kyuhyun was alone with Sungmin, he meticulously went to unpacking his luggage into his set of drawers. Sungmin leaned his hips back against the desk, arms crossed loosely about his torso as he patiently waited for Kyuhyun to begin speaking.
“You know about my telepathy. Despite needing touch, I can read a person’s mind, see their memories,” Kyuhyun said simply, steadily, almost as if he were reading a script, keeping his voice detached; “I was with Zhou Mi one night and… my telepathy went beyond its previous ability… I saw the future.”
Sungmin stiffened, but didn’t move.
“It was… horrible. I had killed Zhou Mi… blood was everywhere… he lay… he lay in the middle of it all…” Kyuhyun’s fists trembled as he clutched a shirt before settling it in a drawer; “If I stay away, I can stop that future from happening.”
Sungmin pushed away from the desk, “You can’t seriously believe that, Kyuhyun! You can’t seriously believe that you’ll kill Zhou Mi… You can’t believe that you have the capability to kill Zhou Mi. You love him too much for that!”
“YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT!?” Kyuhyun slammed his fists against a drawer door, “I’ve thought it over a hundred – no, a thousand times, Min. I’ve gone over it over and over again… I’ve… I’ve remembered it over and over again. But it’s too real, the emotions too fresh… there’s no other way!”
“Damn it, Kyuhyun, there’s no way!” Sungmin closed the distance between them, a hand wrapping around Kyuhyun’s wrist; “I won’t believe it – I can’t believe it! Kyuhyun you would never –”
“Don’t you see!? Don’t you understand?” Kyuhyun dropped his shirt to the ground, turning to Sungmin, his fists curling into the other’s shirt; “THIS IS ALL A LIE!”
He sat casually in his chair, one knee crossed over the other. Arms crossed loosely about his torso, a book lay open on the desk before him, but his eyes were focused on a nearby window as the pale sky was streaked with light yellow.
Distantly, he heard a door open. Footsteps approached and then there was a light thud on the table. The rich aroma of coffee wafted over to him, filling his nostrils and giving him a taste of the alertness it offered. The desk shifted slightly as a weight precariously dropped on the desk.
“At least drink one cup of coffee…”
The smell of coffee grew stronger and in his periphery he saw the coffee cup be placed closer, right beside the book. However, he kept his face tilted towards the window, despite that the mention of coffee reminded him of the weakness in his body, the heaviness of his limbs and the thick blanket of fatigue cloaking him.
“It’s been days. At least sleep one hour…”
He sighed heavily, uncrossing his legs and then crossing the knee, which had been on the bottom over the other. He uncrossed his arms and crossed them again, switching the position of his arms. He sat there in silence as the sky grew lighter and lighter, the sun slowly rising beyond the circle of trees surrounding the school campus.
“He’s finally returned.”
At that, his attention was suddenly grabbed. Finally, he leaned his head back against his chair, relaxed his body and closed his eyes. Within seconds, his breathing eased and evened out. His companion sighed with relief, slipping off the desk and straightening.
“If that’s all it took for you to sleep, I would have lied days ago,” he murmured. Casting his friend one last glance, he escaped from the classroom.
“What do you mean it’s all a lie?” Sungmin questioned, placing his hands over Kyuhyun’s, which were still gripping the front of his shirt.
“Everything, all of this,” Kyuhyun repeated, “Everything I’ve been attempting, fighting for… all of it has been a lie – a façade! Fight my bloodlust? Who have I been kidding? No one has ever achieved such a thing so how could I even believe that I would succeed? It’s all been worthless –”
“How can you say that?” Sungmin demanded, “You’ve fought for months against your bloodlust – you nearly killed yourself because you refused to feed! Up until now, you’ve still been fighting! You can’t possibly believe that you’ll ever let your blood lust overtake you!”
“Not now… but one day my blood lust will overtake me,” Kyuhyun shook his head, pulling away from Sungmin, walking towards the bed,
“But that won’t happen with Zhou Mi. He lets you feed whenever you want, doesn’t he?” Sungmin asked,
“That won’t matter… that won’t matter because I’ll become overwhelmed… I’ll bleed him dry… bleed him to death,” Kyuhyun stated, shaking his head, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides, his body completely tense.
“It won’t happen, Kyuhyun,” Sungmin insisted, closing the distance between them, “How could it when you can’t even stand the thought of feeding from someone other than Zhou Mi?”
“I’ll be pushed to the limit,” Kyuhyun replied, “I’ll grow to the point where I need blood no matter what.” He shot Sungmin a sharp glare, “Like. Now.” He grabbed Sungmin and pulled him down onto the bed. He came on top of him, hovering over him on all fours. “Forgive me, Sungmin.”
“It’s ‘Min’ when it is just you and me,” Sungmin reminded quietly, barely able to get the words out. His heart was beating a hundred miles a minute, his breathing growing heavy, deep and ragged. Tentatively, he reached up and pulled Kyuhyun down against him. He swallowed hard and closed his eyes, “There’s nothing to forgive. Take what you need, Kyuhyun.”
Kyuhyun hesitated for a moment before lowering his lips to his best friend’s skin. In the back of his mind, he hated himself for what he was doing, for what he was pulling Sungmin into. However, it had been two months since he last fed and he had gotten used to, spoiled to, the taste of blood everyday. Also, he knew if he could get some blood, then perhaps he could disguise for a little bit longer how much he had thinned over the break.
He bared his fangs and pierced the skin before any doubts could stop him.
The hot liquid spilt into his mouth, his taste buds thriving and tingling. He allowed his eyes to close as he began to drink up the nourishment, finding it easy to keep himself emotionally detached from the act. Usually, he couldn’t. Usually, he wasn’t able to separate himself. With Zhou Mi – he pushed that thought away immediately, concentrating on feeding, taking only enough to satisfy his hunger rather than filling it completely, sating it.
However, deep within Kyuhyun, in a part where the blood couldn’t reach, he began to reject the blood, reject what he was doing. He practically threw himself away from Sungmin, sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. Sungmin slowly sat up, covering his neck with his hand,
“What’s wrong? Am I not tasty enough?” Sungmin attempted lightly,
Kyuhyun raised his head, bit down on his thumb until it bled and then reached over to his friend. He pulled away Sungmin’s hand and then brushed his reddened thumb over the bite. “My blood will heal the bite… I’m sorry for doing that to you, Min.”
He shook his head, looking down at the red remnants on his hand from when he covered his neck, “There’s no need. I’m glad you fed, Kyuhyun; you’ve lost so much weight over the past two months.”
“I can’t do it again,” Kyuhyun said as he leaned his elbows on his thighs, clasping his hands together. He tilted his head down, pressing his lips against his hands, “My body relished in the blood… but something else rebelled…”
“Your heart?” Sungmin asked quietly, “Because you love Zhou Mi and he’s the only one you can feed from?” When Kyuhyun didn’t say anything, he prompted tentatively, “Kyuhyun… do you truly believe you’ll kill Zhou Mi?”
“I don’t know,” he said quietly, “But I can’t take the chance.”
“Then why did you return to Shim Jang Academy?” Sungmin inquired,
“Because I need to protect Taeyeon,” Kyuhyun replied simply, softly; “At this school, you two have reverted to your true roles of student and teacher. Therefore, you cannot protect her. I came back so I can protect her since you cannot.”
Sungmin stared at his friend until, finally, Kyuhyun looked back at him. He inhaled slowly, deeply and then, “Thank you.” He looked away, looking down at his hands idly; “I honestly do not know what to make of your… vision; if it’s even true.”
Kyuhyun suddenly stood, stumbling backwards. He raised his arm, “Damn, the time.”
Sungmin bolted towards the windows immediately, pulling the curtains tightly, the threatening light outlining the edges. “The sun rose pretty fast.”
“And you wonder why I was never around during the break,” Kyuhyun said lightly as he unconsciously began checking his hands,
“Were you exposed?”
“No… I thought I had because I felt heat, but it might have just been from the light coming in rather than direct exposure,” Kyuhyun explained, breathing steadier. He paused and then looked at his best friend, “Life was so much easier when we were children.”
“That’s why you have friends… and family, Kyuhyun.” When Kyuhyun looked at him in silent question, he continued, “To help life be easier as we grow older.”
Kyuhyun swallowed hard as his friend smiled brightly at him. He clenched his fists at his sides as he narrowed his eyes at Sungmin, “If my vision proves true, I want you to stop me, Min.”
Sungmin almost took a step back. He tried to swallow the lump forming in his throat. He breathed slowly; “Is that what you want?”
“I would never ask you to do something you didn’t want to do… but I want you to help me put into motion steps so that when the time comes, that I will be stopped,” Kyuhyun explained slowly, sternly,
“So that’s why you really didn’t want Taeyeon to come here. Most assuredly she knows what’s going on with you… You didn’t want her here because you didn’t want her to hear this request,” Sungmin realized, closing the distance between them. He stopped when he was standing anti-parallel with Kyuhyun, shoulder to shoulder. He raised a hand, clasping his shoulder, “Shall I talk to Kibum?”
“No… there is someone else,” Kyuhyun said quietly.
When Kyuhyun said a name, Sungmin walked away in silence, his emotions churning unbearably.
(Phase 18: Isolation)