(Phase 22 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Twenty-Two: Death of a Fairytale
Fourth week of October 20XX
“Your blood pressure is down,” Heechul stated as he looped his stethoscope around his neck. He stepped back, pulling his hair back into a ponytail; “And that’s with me avoiding the fact that you’re pale, your temperature control is horrible and you came to me this time.”
“Stop scolding,” Kyuhyun replied as he buttoned his shirt up, “You know Mi left. I’m not going to feed from anyone else.”
“Because you’ve never fed from anyone else before?” Heechul scoffed as he folded his arms across his torso,
Kyuhyun paused and the raised an eyebrow in silent questioning.
“Sungmin came in at the beginning of the term asking me to examine his neck,” Heechul said with a slight shrug,
Kyuhyun scowled, “I’m not contagious.”
“Don’t get so upset, he doesn’t know or understand anything about vampirism. He hasn’t researched anything like you did,” Heechul defended before adding, “So, why don’t you just feed from Sungmin? He’s your best friend, isn’t he?”
“He’s my oldest friend,” Kyuhyun corrected bitterly as he pulled on his school sweater vest, “The term ‘best friend’ would go to Taeyeon, but seeing as she’s dating the blighter, I think I’ll just call her my cousin.”
“He was worried, Kyuhyun,” Heechul rolled his eyes,
“Yes, but I trust him not to tell anyone what happened,” Kyuhyun snapped. He tugged on his tie vigorously and then sighed heavily, plopping down onto the edge of the bed, “Sorry… I’m being quite the bastard, huh?”
“Just a jerk,” Heechul corrected with a slight smirk, “You didn’t reach the ‘bastard’ level.” He cocked his head, “But everything else aside, you won’t consider feeding from someone else? You can’t still pretend you’re adverse to it.”
“I still don’t like the thought of feeding, but I know I have to. That’s not why I don’t feed though,” Kyuhyun shook his head as he began knotting his school tie, “Feeding for me isn’t… isn’t like eating for you. Feeding for me is more physical because there’s another person involved. So when I have to feed it’s… different.”
Heechul nodded as a slight flush tinged the younger man’s cheeks, “Okay. I get it. I never thought of it like that before,” he admitted, “I wish you told me that before, Kyuhyun. I’ll leave you be about feeding.”
“Really?” Kyuhyun raised an eyebrow as he pushed his sleeves up to his elbows,
“For now,” Heechul shrugged, “I can’t force you to feed and… I understand your reasons this time. But you know you can’t go on like this. Before you were fine, but your body’s been used to regular feedings. To stop feeding will be like stopping an addiction cold turkey.”
“I know,” Kyuhyun sighed as he picked up his satchel bag and slung the strap over his shoulder, “Trust me, the bloodlust is even worse than before.”
Heechul raised an eyebrow, “How bad?”
Kyuhyun stood up from the bed, adjusting his bag to rest against his back rather than his hip, “I won’t even go to Sungmin’s room when it happens.”
“Would you considering going to Zhou Mi’s room?” When Kyuhyun slanted him a look he amended, “Okay, okay… You know you’re welcome to come here if you need to. I’m pretty sure I’m close to making a plaque with your name on it and putting it on that private room’s door.”
Kyuhyun laughed bitterly, “Ha! Just what I need: my own personal room in the nurse’s office.”
“Hey! It’s a very nice room. It served you well last term,” Heechul reminded, “Some people would love their own private room in the nurse’s office.”
“Like the mathematics teacher Han Seonsaeng-nim?” Kyuhyun asked, his lips quirking,
Heechul narrowed his eyes, “What are you saying Jo-sshi?”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” Kyuhyun insisted as he headed towards the door, “And really, I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for my telepathy.”
“Brat,” Heechul glared, “And after all the times I saved your ass.”
Kyuhyun came up short then. He paused and turned back to the nurse who blinked at him confused, “Heechul-sshi.”
“I’m not really mad,” Heechul stated, “Okay, a little, but you can’t control your telepathy.”
“No I… I was wondering. The night I transformed, did anything seem odd to you?” Kyuhyun inquired,
Heechul slanted him a look, “Odd? The entire occurrence was odd, Kyuhyun. You’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
“My injuries, my body… have you ever wondered how I survived that night?” Kyuhyun asked, his fingers curling over the strap of his bag. The memories flashed in his mind, finding it hard not to flinch at the thought of the pain that scoured his body. There were still times when he could feel the hot breath on his neck, the iron grip on his body and the eyes that seemed to flash red in the dark night.
“I wonder a lot, Kyuhyun. I honestly don’t know what happened that night, don’t know how you were saved,” Heechul answered, “Your injuries were extensive, you lost so much blood and yet… within hours of you being brought here, you began to heal. Then you began to turn…
“What happened that night terrified me, Kyuhyun. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen and yet… it was the most miraculous thing, too. You have been through so much and every time, you survived and come back,” He shook his head, baby hairs falling free to frame his face, “I don’t understand what happened that night, but I don’t question it because it worked Kyuhyun.”
“I just… I think maybe someone else helped me out that night other than you and Taeyeon,” Kyuhyun admitted, knowing he couldn’t say that he actually knew without revealing he had been meeting with a vampire.
Heechul blinked, “Someone else? Taeyeon said she found you alone.”
“I know but… before she found me,” Kyuhyun shrugged, trying to act casual, as if it were a mere thought that had passed through his mind, “How else do we explain the vampire not killing me right then and there?”
Heechul stared at him for a few silent heartbeats. Finally, he shook his head, “If there was, then I want to thank whoever it was that was there for you that night.”
“I guess we’ll never know, will we?” Kyuhyun murmured as he turned and left. In his mind was a silent apology for the nurse who helped save him that night over a year ago.
Sungmin wiped the condensation from the mirror with his hand. With his towel slung around his hips, he ran both hands through his wet hair. He raised his arms to the ceiling, feeling the content stretch along his torso. Then, he turned to his bedroom door and opened it. He blinked before moving over to his dresser,
“You have this bad habit of showing up after I have a shower,” Sungmin stated as he began to sift through his clothes, “And didn’t we talk about the ‘not at school’ rule?”
“Several times,” Taeyeon agreed from her seat on his bed, “But I needed to talk to you.”
Sungmin pulled out his desired clothes and closed the drawer with his hip. He turned to face her, his face softened with concern, “Is everything okay?”
“It’s Kyuhyun,” Taeyeon said, “I’m worried about him. It’s been a week since Seonsaeng-nim left and he hasn’t said anything about it.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Sungmin asked as he pulled on a sleeveless shirt, thinking if they were going to continue the conversation, it best he at least cover up as much as possible despite having nothing below-waist except for a towel.
Taeyeon shook her head as she shrugged, “I don’t know he seems… not affected? But I know he is, he just won’t say anything.”
“If he won’t say anything, we cannot pry, Taeyeon,” Sungmin replied as he slipped into the bathroom, keeping the door open so they could talk, but making sure he was out of her vision field; “We have to give Kyuhyun his space in some things. His separation from Zhou Mi must be affecting him, I give you that, but this is also their business. If we were to separate, would you want others to pry into your feelings?”
Taeyeon sighed, “I suppose you’re right… but I wouldn’t want to be alone all the time.”
“He’s not alone all the time. I’m with him every other day during class –”
“And I’m hardly with him at all during the week,” Taeyeon stated. She pulled her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around them, “We hardly get to see each other or talk… I’m scared he’ll start putting up walls and shutting everyone out.”
“Why do I have this feeling this is more about you missing Kyuhyun than him needing someone?” Sungmin asked tentatively as he stepped out of the bathroom, dressed in slacks and his sleeveless shirt,
“Maybe because it is? And your zipper’s not done up,” Taeyeon said casually,
Sungmin turned around and did up his zipper before facing her again, fully aware that his face was burning; “Is it so bad not to see Kyuhyun everyday.”
“It’s just… odd,” Taeyeon shrugged, “Which in itself is odd because all the previous school years here I rarely saw him.” She shrugged again, “I guess I just got used to seeing him everyday.” After a moment she added, “I don’t even have you for a teacher again and he does. Lucky bastard.”
“Ah, but you seem to find your way into my bedroom more often than I’d like considering we are student and teacher,” Sungmin stated as he approached her, reaching down for her chin and tilting her face up towards him, “Just three more months until you graduate.”
“We could just go back home for one weekend,” Taeyeon suggested, “We’d be away from school –”
“But someone might still see us. That’s why we never went out during summer break without Kyuhyun,” Sungmin stated, “You know we can’t really be free until you graduate Taeyeon.”
She sighed as she pulled his hand from her and just inspected it as if it were more interesting than it was; “Let’s just run away, Sungmin…”
“If no one else mattered, then I would’ve done that the moment I saw you again,” Sungmin admitted, “But we have our families to think about.”
Taeyeon sighed again as she dropped his hand and slipped from the bed, “Alright, I better get going before I’m late for first period.”
She turned to leave when Sungmin grabbed her arm and pulled her back to face him, “A kiss? Before you leave me?”
Taeyeon stretched on her tip toes as she complied, pressing her lips against his in a small, sweet and chaste kiss. She landed back on the balls of her feet as she smiled up at him, “Can I come to study in your classroom after fourth period?”
“Of course,” Sungmin answered as he walked her to the door. He held her arm a little longer as he opened the door, “Be careful not to be seen as you’re leaving.”
She threw him a grin, “I’m always careful.” And then left, disappearing around the corner.
A knock at the door had him turning after fourth period ended. He looked over his shoulder as he called for the person to enter. The student entered and he turned back to the boards to finish cleaning them.
“How’s Mi doing?” Hankyung asked as he wiped the boards clean,
“I… I don’t know,” Kyuhyun admitted, “He hasn’t called since he left.
Hankyung paused in his ministrations, “He hasn’t called me either.”
“I didn’t come to talk about… That… I… I wanted to ask you something about Mi… Zhou Mi,” Kyuhyun said as he approached the front of the classroom, keeping his back pressed against the wall as sunlight streamed into the room from one wall of windows.
“What about him?” Hankyung inquired as he finished cleaning and turned to face him. He realized why Kyuhyun was so far from him and walked over into the dimmer part of the room to join him, leaning a shoulder against the wall, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“Zhou Mi’s a Head Hunter… isn’t he?” Kyuhyun looked the mathematics teacher straight in the ey.
Hankyung blinked a moment, his mind quickly assessing whether or not what he should reveal. However, considering the student had come to him, had questioned him outright and had never lied what he was thinking, decided to give him the truth. He sighed heavily, “Yes.” He cocked his head as he regarded the younger man, “How did you find out? Not even the headmaster has figured out he’s a Hunter… let alone a Head Hunter.”
“He told me himself that he’s a Hunter… and… I saw one of his memories of a mission he went on with Kibum a few months ago,” Kyuhyun said, his dark eyes glassing over as he remembered what he saw, “There was only three of them in total and… it looked like he was commanding the others… as if he was leading them.”
“He has an assistant. A Hunter wouldn’t have an assistant… the lowest level with one would be a Head Hunter,” Kyuhyun explained, “And… and he also revealed that himself… although I don’t think he realized that I saw the oddity of it.”
Hankyung sighed, running a hand through his dark hair, “Well… there you have it. Zhou Mi is a Head Hunter and he let the slip himself.”
“How… how long as he been a Head Hunter?” Kyuhyun asked, his voice growing thick as he forced it from his throat, else his words choke him.
Hankyung blinked, “Um… two years now?”
“So… he was a Head Hunter when I got attacked last year.” At Hankyung’s nod, he added, “Was… was his region to command always Seoul?”
Hankyung nodded again, “Seoul and the surrounding villages. Why?”
“I just… wanted… needed to know,” Kyuhyun muttered as he turned to leave. Before he completely escaped the classroom, he heard the mathematics teacher call his name. He stopped his progression, but refused to turn around, to look back. “Yes?”
“Mi being a Head Hunter… does it change anything?” Hankyung inquired, “He was always worried it would but… I don’t understand how it could. Does it change anything? I mean, he’s still the same person, he still cares about you… his sudden elevated status in the Council doesn’t change any of that.”
“No… it doesn’t change who he is… but it changes what happened to me… and it changes why he first came here,” Kyuhyun replied, his heart clenching painfully. Before any more could be said, he slipped out of the classroom, the door closing silently and firmly behind him.
Hankyung stared at the spot where the younger man had stood for a little bit longer. Then, he turned and walked over to his desk, pulling out his cellular phone. He dialled a number and held the device to his ear, “C’mon Zhou Mi… answer you’re phone…”
After the fifteenth ring, he snapped the phone closed and just barely suppressed his urge to slam it onto the desk. Why wasn’t Zhou Mi answering his phone? More importantly, why had Zhou Mi not contacted either him or the brat? He swore before picking up the phone and desperately dialling his best friend’s number once more.
Kibum entered the room and closed the door firmly behind him. He approached the piano, a small smile tugging at his lips as he heard the stilted, sad attempts at making a melody out of single notes. He sat down on the piano bench beside Kyuri who pressed random keys with one finger.
“How did teaching go?” Kyuri asked as she continued to press piano keys,
Kibum shrugged, “Not very difficult since Zhou Mi left lesson plans. How was your day? Learn anything from Heechul?”
“Many things,” Kyuri replied. She paused, one key held down, “I got another mission today.”
Kibum blinked and then narrowed his eyes, “What are you going to do?”
“I have to take it,” Kyuri sighed as she finally raised her gaze to his, “You know I can’t do anything else.”
“I’ll be with you this time when you’re doing the mission,” Kibum stated firmly, his tone allowing for no arguments. “No more sneaking off to the roof.”
“I… I have to take the mission, but I don’t want to,” Kyuri admitted, her voice more quiet and more scared than he had ever heard it.
Kibum’s eyes widened, “It can’t be… a turned vampire?” She nodded and he swore. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her against his chest, “Kyuri, you don’t have to take it.”
“I do, Kibum. As a Head Hunter, I cannot not take a mission. It’s my prefecture, if I don’t take the mission, there’ll be questions and… what if they found out about Ki? Or… what if they found out about Kyuhyun?” Kyuri asked as she straightened, pulling away from his warm, comforting hold, “No… I can’t draw any attention to me… to us… or to why we’re back in Korea.”
“But it’s a turned vampire, Kyuri,” Kibum said, “Will you even be able to handle doing a mission against a turned vampire?”
“Yes,” she turned on the bench so her back was to the piano, sitting anti-parallel beside Kibum, “There’s no other way… I have to be okay, don’t I?”
“I used to be so cool… so confident. I used to execute missions without any holes in my plans, without panicking… Do you know what happened with the last mission, Kibum? I started to panic. When Ki was turning on the others, I even threw away my headset… I abandoned them for a few precious moments,” Kyuri cupped her hands over her stomach, “I was revered as a Hunter… and then a Head Hunter… I was respected for my medical knowledge in the field… I never hesitated, never doubted…”
“You didn’t have a family before –”
“I had you –”
“You didn’t have a twin… A twin who’s a vampire…” Kibum stared at her a moment before raising his hands to the piano keys. His eyes closed and his fingers began to move of their own accord as he plucked music from the piano and formed a sweet, slow melody.
Kyuri swayed slightly at the music before leaning her head against his shoulder, her arms wrapping around her stomach, “I never used to be like this, Kibum… I used to be stronger. How…? How can I change so much in just six months?”
“I could say it’s because you became pregnant six months ago… but I think we both know it’s because of the family you’ve found here,” Kibum said quietly, monotonously, “Everything you knew has been challenged by your brother’s own experiences with being a vampire.”
“I used to think vampires were horrible beings… used to believe them to be monsters but Kyuhyun… he’s far from that,” Kyuri admitted, “He’s still living his life despite his vampirism… he’s been cursed horribly by this and yet…” She swallowed hard, “I still haven’t told him all that it entails to be a turned vampire.”
Kibum’s hands froze immediately, “What do you mean you haven’t told him all? I thought he did some research before.”
“He did, but it’s severely limited to the myths and stories that the public knows about vampires. He doesn’t know some of the differences between purebloods and turned,” Kyuri sighed, “I don’t think he’s aware that he is living an existence that is doubly cursed… cursed by the sacrifices of being a vampire and by the weaknesses of being a human.”
“But they called us here in April because he was dying,” Kibum stated,
“No… they said that… talked about it like that… but in their hearts, they all believed Kyuhyun would go on… that he would live his life as a weak shell, continuing life and being unable to die,” Kyuri said quietly, “I don’t think Kyuhyun was even aware of how close he was to truly dying back then… the only person who seemed to grasp the whole situation… was Zhou Mi.”
“But his cousin… Sungmin… Heechul –”
“They reacted and acted the way they did, because that’s natural human instinct. But they could’ve been more fierce, more strong with him in April. They could have forced him to feed, but they didn’t,” Kyuri closed her eyes, turning her face into his arm, “They didn’t because they believed that even if he didn’t feed, he would live on as an immortal.”
Kibum was silent for a five-count. Then, his fingers began to move again in smooth, slow waltzes over the black and white keys, “A vampire’s mortality to the sun… a vampire’s ability to only feed of blood… a vampire’s loss of colour… He attained all the weaknesses of vampires.”
“Half the strength of a pureblood… half the telepathy of a pureblood… He attained only half the strengths of vampires,” Kyuri added, her voice quiet,
“A human’s need for other humans… A human’s need for emotions… A human’s short lifespan… He kept all of the attributes of humanity that vampires consider weak,” Kibum stated. His fingers finished off the song, his hands stilling and the remnants of the melody slowly dissipating into the silence; “You need to tell him about his mortality… before he does something stupid, thinking he’ll live forever.”
Kyuri stood up from the bench, “I’m taking the mission.” She placed a hand on his shoulder, looking down at him, “Do you think I am a monster?”
He turned on the bench to face her, pulling her hand from his shoulder to hold it to his lips, “Never,” he said. He looked up at her, her fingers still pressed to his kiss, “I told you when this all began, Kyuri… and I’ll tell you again: whatever you decide, I will remain by your side - on your side – and walk the same path as you.”
Kyuri stepped closer to Kibum, the top of his head reaching her shoulder despite still sitting. She bent her head to his, pressing her cheek against the crown of his head as she hugged him to her, “I won’t do this mission alone… but you cannot be there.”
“Because I want Kyuhyun to be there,” she explained quietly, her voice hesitant, “I… I want him to know what he has in me… I want him to know this side of me… the side that hated vampires for years… the side that was.”
“Okay… I will be waiting for you when it is all over,” Kibum stated swiftly, sternly.
“Kibum,” she said then, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Hello Zhou Mi? I’m calling… to say goodbye.”
He stood in the woods, his companion just a few feet away, leaning his back against a tree and arms crossed over his chest.
“I have so many questions for you… I need so many answers and yet… and yet I don’t think I can ask them… I don’t think I can ask them,” Kyuhyun said, holding the phone to his ear as he began to pace, autumn leaves crunching beneath his feet. “I know about you being a Head Hunter. You slipped up Mi; you slipped up bad and I caught it. Then Han Seonsaeng-nim confirmed it… I just… I can’t believe you’re a Head Hunter.
“When I learned about the Council and that you were a member, I was okay. I was okay because it meant you were some pencil-pusher and not actually doing the killing,” Kyuhyun stated, “When you told me you’re a Hunter, I was okay. I was okay because it meant you were only following orders. That you were just doing a job someone with higher power was giving you. But a Head Hunter?
“No… No… No, that means you have power. That means you order the Hunters and plan the missions and decide how to kill vampires,” He paused in his monologue and in his pacing. He glanced at the other vampire present who was respectfully averting his gaze. He swallowed hard and continued, “That means you’re in charge when vampires are being killed… and if you’re here, that means your region is this one. It means you’re the Head Hunter that messed up one year ago.
“You made a mistake and a pureblood got away. You made a mistake and that pureblood attacked the previous literature teacher… who knows who else… and me. Because of a mistake you made as a Head Hunter, I was attacked and… and…” Kyuhyun could feel his body trembling, could feel his hand coating with perspiration as he gripped the phone tightly against his ear,
“You said you came here to right the wrongs a Head Hunter made… that you made… You said you came here to correct mistakes… your mistakes. Was… was I a part of the plan too?” Kyuhyun asked, his voice getting smaller as he faced the trunk of a large tree. He slammed a fist against the rough bark, “Was I a part of your ‘correction’? Because… because I had been a part of the mistake, so I had to be a part of the correction? You said you wanted me from the beginning but… but is that because I was affected by your mistakes as a Head Hunter last year? What… what else are you hiding?”
The vampire took a tentative step towards him, but Kyuhyun slashed a hand through the air, signalling he stop his progress. Kyuhyun tried to remain calm, tried to keep standing as he clutched the phone so tightly he was afraid he might break it, ending the conversation prematurely.
He swallowed hard as he slowly, slowly, slowly sank down to his knees, the leaves scrunching beneath his weight and one fist still planted against the tree, the skin ravaged by the ruthless bark. He pressed his forehead against the tree, shutting his eyes tightly as he held the phone securely to his ear, “You tell me something new about yourself and yet… there’s always more that you’re hiding. I was… I was okay with other things but this… but this… How am I supposed to be okay while I now know that I am what I am because… of you?”
The phone slipped from his hand and he fisted his fingers and slammed that hand against the tree. He heard the footsteps of the other man approach him slowly, tentatively, could see in the tear-filled peripheries that the other vampire knelt down beside him, hesitantly reaching out a hand to his shoulder.
“I can’t… I can’t…”
The hand was warm on his shoulder, rubbing small, soothing circles, “It’s okay Kyuhyun.”
“But I need to… I can’t… because of him… because of…” Kyuhyun fought hard against the rising cold in his chest, fought against the urge to just curl into a ball and make himself as small as possible, make the pain as small as possible.
Kyuhyun shut his eyes tightly to hold back the tears that threatened to spill. He would not cry. He would not cry for that… that… Head Hunter… but the Head Hunter was Zhou Mi. No, he would not cry for him. He would not.
Moments of their time together flashed through his mind, clashing with his newfound knowledge. Did they still mean the same thing? Did his words still mean the same thing? Were they supposed to meet and be together? Or had it all been planned and fabricated by Zhou Mi? If it were the latter, it was the worse deception… the worse manipulation.
“But I l –… I l –…” His words fell silent as the pain strangled him and his heart. He struggled to fight against the tears and the memories that were burning away from his mind, tinged with ulterior motives that took away their golden light.
The vampire said nothing as Kyuhyun continued to fight against his raging emotions, huddled against the tree. He spotted the cellular phone on the forest’s leaf-covered floor and picked it up with his free hand. He raised it to his ear and heard a dial tone. Kyuhyun didn’t even have the heart to dial Zhou Mi’s phone number.
A few nights later; Fourth week of October 20XX
The days had been dark and dreary, casting an ominous atmosphere over Shim Jang Academy. The autumn wind had picked up considerably, keeping the weather crisp and biting to anyone who dared to step outside and bear the elements. The nights, without moonlight or the stars twinkling, had become a blanket of darkness over their secluded land, the surrounding forestry like silent, threatening sentinels watching the school, waiting.
That night, the darkness was as thick as ink. A jagged thread of pearly sapphire sewed through the black, velvet sky before the silence boomed with thunder and the earth itself seemed to quiver in response. Then, the heavens opened up and a downpour was unleashed. Torrents of rain smashed down to the earth as every few minutes the sky would, momentarily, light up with sinister sapphire and the silence of the night was disrupted by roars.
In the west wing of the sleeping school, in a single room on the fourth floor, a young man sat on the floor of his private bathroom. With the door at his back and his knees curled to his chest, he lowered his head, covering his ears with trembling, wet and sticky hands. He shut his eyes despite the bathroom light being off. He wished desperately that he could somehow shut his ears to the sound outside.
He had been lying in bed, attempting some semblance of sleep when the barest of light appeared around the edges of all the curtains in his room. The thunder jolted him from the bed and the pounding rain on his windowpanes had him scrambling, desperately for the bathroom, for some kind of safe haven. That was nearly a quarter of an hour ago and he had calmed down, somewhat.
He thought he was over this. He knew the fear still lay dormant in him, waiting, waiting… but he thought it would wait forever. He was wrong.
The fear rose in him so quickly, immediately, that it had enveloped him before he even realized it was there. It coursed through his veins and wrapped around his heart, his mind, his entire being. It left him cold despite the school’s heating. It left him weak despite his half-vampiric strength. It left him shaking despite sitting on the floor. He had endured a handful of thunderstorms over the past few months, but without too much drama. This time, however, it was as if all the defences he had built and solidified, quickly melted, dissipating into a mere memory.
That was it, wasn’t it? That was the key, the answer to his defences against his fear. The fear was irrational, he knew, but he was always vulnerable to it. In the past few months, however, he hadn’t been vulnerable because of Zhou Mi. Zhou Mi, who held him during the thunderstorms. Zhou Mi, who talked to him over the thunder. Zhou Mi, who focused his attention from the wicked lightning. Zhou Mi had built and solidified his defences… Zhou Mi had been his defences.
A banging on the door at his back had him seizing, freezing and his mind reeling. The voice that accompanied it, had him calming, relaxing, his mind acknowledging. He inched sideways from the door, allowing entrance to the short, slender silhouette that slipped in.
Taeyeon knelt down before her cousin, feeling his presence in the darkness immediately. “The storm woke me and I knew if it woke me…” her words trailed off, as she raised her hands to his, pulling them from his ears. They were shaking horribly in her hands and she absently realized they were damp, probably from water or sweat.
“I can’t go out there,” Kyuhyun managed, hating how weak his voice sounded, hating how he couldn’t fight his fear. “It’s too… loud.”
“I know, I know,” Taeyeon insisted, “I’ll stay in here with you, okay?” At Kyuhyun’s nod, she looked around. The bathroom in all its dark glory was not the setting to calming her cousin’s nerves. “Can I at least turn on the light?” At his second nod, she stood up and gingerly walked along the wall, her hands feeling for the light switch. Something cracked and crunched beneath her sneakers and she froze, “Kyuhyun?”
When he said nothing, she quickly found the light and was blinded for a moment as the bathroom was illuminated. She froze then, taking in the scene before her. The mirrors had been smashed, glass missing in large chunks. The shower curtain had been half-ripped from its rings. The ground was littered with toiletries and shattered glass. What caught her attention the most was the red.
Red stained what little glass was still above the counter. Red stained the shower curtain and the white porcelain of the bathtub. Red stained the once-pristine white walls and was splattered amongst the chaos on the once-white tiles of the floor. Red highlighted everything in the bathroom, emphasizing the wreckage.
As if thoughts suddenly slid into place in her mind, Taeyeon slowly lowered her gaze to her hands, slightly damp after holding her cousin’s hands. Scarlet remnants stained her skin, the walls her hands had just glided over as a guide and the light switch she had just flicked. Her gaze flew to her cousin who hadn’t said anything, hadn’t moved an inch.
Haphazardly, she dropped to her knees beside her cousin, barely glancing to ensure she didn’t land in anything (pyjama bottoms held little defences against jagged glass shards). She cradled Kyuhyun’s face, forced him to look at her and was momentarily startled into silence at the sight of his tear-filled eyes.
“Kyuhyun… Oppa… What happened? What’s going on?” She asked, her voice soft, tentative and fearful. Not for herself, never – she knew she was in no danger from him. No, she feared for him, her cousin, her best friend. She feared for what was happening to him, to what had obviously occurred in the bathroom before she found him. She feared for what it meant, could mean.
Suddenly, he surged towards her, clutching her tiny frame to him as he buried his face into her shoulder as he allowed him to cry. What else could he do? He was beyond strength, beyond control. He had been so close to breaking for days now and he could no longer stop the inevitable. He cried as much as it rained and shook as much as the earth with each boom of thunder.
Taeyeon settled more securely on the ground before wrapping her arms more tightly around him, pulling him against her, trying to give him all her warmth, all her strength and all her love. With one hand, she held him protectively in her embrace. With her other hand, she absentmindedly stroked his thick locks soothingly, silently willing him to calm, to be comforted.
She took one last look around them before closing her eyes to the bathroom’s bright lights that revealed too much of what had occurred. She closed her eyes to the debris around her, momentarily forcing herself to push aside the violence that was strewn around them. She forced herself to forget it so that he could forget it, so he could ignore it. She needed to be his reprieve. He needed her to be his reprieve.
She hugged her cousin tightly, securely as thoughts slowly seeped into her mind from the past. She could count on one hand the times she had held her cousin like this; that he had allowed her to hold him like this. One time had been a few short months ago when he had been living in the hospital wing. The first time, however, had been just over a year ago when his parents had abandoned him. He had been left shattered, devastated by their apathy. She had held him, trying to hold together the pieces that desperately wanted to fall apart. This time, however, the pieces had already fallen apart, long before she had entered the bathroom.
She held onto him even tighter as another memory, another lighter, warmer thought slipped into her mind. Softly she began to hum a slow, soothing tune. The notes were not permanent and had no significance. But their effort was what she aimed for. She hummed a melody she created from her own imagination, her own thoughts and her own feelings. She hummed softly and felt him easing in her embrace, just as he had done when she first hummed to him over a year ago.
Kyuhyun’s body stopped shaking, but the tears continued to flow and his cries had softened in their intensity and volume. He clung to Taeyeon as if loosening his grip even a fraction meant loosening his grip on everything, on life, on his own sanity. He clung to Taeyeon as if she were his own solid piece of life, of the present and if he lost his hold on her, he would lose his last hold on the control she was weaving for him.
He shut his eyes tightly against his river of hot, stinging tears and tried to forget everything. He tried to forget what had just happened, what had happened over the past week. He tried to forget the storm that was only getting stronger. He tried to forget everything and focus on the warmth and solid comfort of his cousin. He tried to focus on Taeyeon even as his body, his mind and his heart yearned for a different warmth, a different comfort. But he knew what he wanted wasn’t possible, wasn’t there anymore.
So, he focused on Taeyeon and the soothing song he distantly acknowledged as a comfort from the beginning of the end of his life. He grasped onto her song and held onto it dearly, desperately, even as it was drowned out by the thunderstorm.
(Phase 23: A Losing Battle)
A/N: So... before anyone starts pondering and questioning the vampiric traits I listed in the scene between Kibum and Kyuri... I stated this before and I'll state it again now. So, there are many different myths and legends pertaining to vampires. So much so that there's only a few consistancies between stories. (Heck, even Twilight defied the whole self-combustion-via-sun deal... which, I am not pleased with. Anyway...) Basically, to have some consistancy within my own series. Just known that any vampiric knowledge/facts/traits that is stated in the Scarlet Night series is TRUE. True for any vampire in my story, despite not being true for any other vampire stories I may write, or any one else's stories.