(Final Phase of the Scarlet Night series.)
Final Phase: Epilogue; One Year Later
South of Seoul; early afternoon
The winter day was mild, almost ridiculously so for the first day of January. The sun was high in the pale blue sky with wisps of thin, cottony, white clouds stretched out like fingers reaching, seeking for light and warmth. Despite the bright sun, the earth was frozen solid, a thick layer of snow blanketing the grounds and the wind was fierce, howling cruelly and biting sharply.
Just outside the south of Seoul was a large, three-storey house. It seemed to match the weather with its white walls while the shingles, blinds and doors were all charcoal grey. The large, empty lawn was as white as the rest of the city surrounded by large, black-iron gates that stood tall, cold and intimidating. The front windows of the house looked out sadly, no lights within, telling a story of darkness, perhaps even loneliness, sadness.
Outside the front gates was a sleek, black car with dark, tinted windows and shiny, black rims. Standing before the intercom right beside the gates was a short, slender, young lady dressed in dark jeans and a black pea coat that ended at her hips. Her dark, thick locks were pulled back and up in a simple bun, emphasizing her heart-shaped face free of any cosmetics. Her almond-shaped eyes looked up at the solitary, solid house as she listened with growing anger to the crackly voice from the other end of the intercom.
“Do not tell me to not come back here!” She exclaimed, her hands going to her hips as if the other person could see her, “You’ve been telling me that everyday for a damn year, do you expect me to start listening to you now?”
“Miss, Sir specifically instructed to not allow you entrance within the gates, as have been the instructions for a year now.”
“And what of Kyuhyun? Does he know? Does he even know that I come here for him everyday?” She demanded,
“I… We’re not at liberty to tell him,” the other voice replied, a hint of hesitance in the tone,
“Well, then I’ll just have to wait outside these gates until he comes home!” She yelled angrily.
“Miss, there’s no point,” the other voice said tentatively, “You see… He and his parents… well, they’ve all left.”
“They’ve what!? But they only moved here two years ago!” She stated,
“Yes, this is true but last night Sir came home and said their new house was ready for them to move in,” the voice revealed, “They left this morning and their belongings will be following them later this afternoon.”
“WHERE!?” She demanded, “Where the hell did they move to!?”
“I… I don’t know,” the voice stammered, “In all honesty, I think Sir did this on purpose; the only ones who know where they’re going are the movers who are coming to get their things.” There was a pause before the voice added quietly, “I’m sorry, Miss. I really am.”
She inhaled slowly through her nostrils, allow the cold air to slowly permeate through her body, tampering her temper and calming her nerves. When she spoke again, her words forming little white puffs, her voice was quiet, even, “Thank you.”
She turned and retreated to the car, sliding into the passenger seat, pulling on the belt with barely-contained gusto. The car slowly pulled away from the curb and, still, she remained silent. She was slightly turned in her seat, looking out her window, her eyes focusing on nothing in particular as her arms were folded beneath her breasts.
It had been just over a year since she last saw him, since she last saw his face, heard his words. It didn’t matter that his face was more expressive than when they were children or that behind his eyes lurked explicit emptiness. It didn’t matter that his words were flippant, childlike or that his tone lacked certain warmth, certain intimacy that she was used to. It didn’t matter that he didn’t react to her, didn’t reach for her, and didn’t recall her. None of that mattered; all that did was her visual evidence of his health and happiness.
It had been just over a year and still the hole in her heart was present. There were still times when she would stop and think and remember and the tears would come again. There were still times when she would laugh and want to tell someone, want to tell him and she would turn to realize he wasn’t there anymore. There were still times when she needed someone, needed her best friend, but he was no longer that.
A warm hand encased in soft, black leather patted her thigh just above her knee twice before resting atop, gently squeezing. The warmth, the gentle comfort eased her from her reveries as they usually did. Slowly, she uncrossed her arms, her hand reaching out and lying atop the gloved hand, her fingers curling over, seeking purchase within strong fingers. She adjusted in her seat so she was more or less turned towards the driver.
“A won for your thoughts, Sweetheart?”
“Oh, they’re worth more than just a won,” she said quietly, teased lightly,
“I’ll pay a fortune to have them,” he replied, his smile palpable in his tone. He turned his hand beneath hers so their palms were together, “What happened, Taeyeon?”
“Rejected, again,” Taeyeon answered softly. She hesitated for a moment before adding quietly, “Sungmin… he’s gone.”
“Gone? You don’t mean –”
“No… no, nothing so morbid,” Taeyeon shook her head, the motion causing small wisps of hair to fall from its bun; “They’ve moved again but, this time, no one knows to where. Uncle did this so we couldn’t find them… so I couldn’t find them.”
“I know your uncle is a huge jerk, but I doubt he’d move his entire family just to avoid one little woman,” Sungmin insisted,
“One of the security guards told me Uncle did,” Taeyeon replied dryly. She sighed heavily, bringing his hand to her lips, brushing a kiss across the leather-clad knuckles; “For a year I’ve been coming here and not once have I ever gotten past those gates. Father says he’d talk to Uncle, but Mother wouldn’t allow it because she was scared Uncle would somehow influence Father’s job… If Uncle had a little less money, a little less influence…”
“But that’s the whole reason we’re in this mess, isn’t it?” Sungmin asked gently, “He’s the one that denounced Kyuhyun, who sent Kyuri away… so much bullshit because he wanted to protect his fortune, his business.”
“And Auntie went along with it because she loves him,” Taeyeon shook her head, “I don’t like that kind of love, Sungmin, the kind that is so selfish it has no capacity for others, which it allows for harm to come to others.”
“I know,” Sungmin sighed softly as they entered Seoul and he began to drive through the city, intending to continue on to the countryside just north out of the city, but not as far out as the academy’s campus was. “A year and still Heechul and I have no progress on our research. There’s so many studies on amnesia and memory loss but what we’re dealing with… well, it’s not so simple, it’s not a textbook case.
“Because it was caused by the pureblood, we’re wondering if we can cure Kyuhyun’s amnesia with usual therapies, usual techniques. We need to think of alternative medicines, therapies… we need… we need a miracle on our side,” Sungmin said quietly, hesitantly, “We don’t have psychic abilities or magic powers or whatever it is we need. We aren’t the things of legends or myths… we’re just normal humans and…”
Taeyeon squeezed his hand tightly, “I know, Min, I know. You’ve both worked so hard and… and it just breaks my heart to see you running yourself ragged. We’ve all been trying and it’s getting hopeless but we can’t give up hope.”
“We’ll never give up hope,” Sungmin corrected, “Because of Kyuhyun, because it’s Kyuhyun… we’ll never give up hope. We’ll keep researching, keep fighting. We all need to use our strengths to help bring him back.”
Taeyeon leaned over in her seat, clutching their laced fingers against her heart as she buried her face against the side of his bicep, “Min… even if Kyuhyun never gets his memory back, I need to see him at least one more time, talk to him just once more.”
“Sweetheart, we’ll find him –”
“You don’t understand, Min… the last thing I ever told him was that I would hate him,” Taeyeon confessed quietly,
“That was before he ran off to the pureblood. You spoke to him again when Kibum –”
“No, the last time I spoke to him. I tried to talk to him in a way to make him remember. I talked about things I had done with my best friend and… and then I hugged him and nothing…” Taeyeon trembled slightly; “I… I got desperate… I told him if he didn’t remember that I would hate him forever and that’s when you came to get me… I can’t… I can’t let that be the last thing he ever hears from me.”
“Even if he doesn’t remember, I need him to know that I don’t hate him, could never hate him,” Taeyeon’s voice broke, her tears dotting her lashes as she shut her eyes tightly. She chewed on her bottom lip to fight down the cry slowly creeping up her tight throat, “He needs to know… he needs to know.”
Sungmin pulled into a parking lot, empty due to the day’s holiday status. He parked the car as he pulled from Taeyeon’s hold. He unbuckled both of their belts, turned in his seat and pulled her over the shift stick onto his lap and into his embrace. He held her tightly, securely, rocking her gently.
“We’ll find him, Sweetheart. I’m not as powerful as your uncle and I don’t have as many connections as your father, but we’ll find him,” Sungmin promised, his lips pressed against her crown, “We’ll find him and then we’ll get his memory back… We’ll find him.”
Taeyeon huddled against his strength, his warmth, her slender arms slipping beneath his, wrapping around his torso. She hugged him back with a fierce protectiveness. She missed Kyuhyun desperately, but she loved Sungmin more because of it. He had been there when she cried, when she turned to find an empty place and when she needed her best friend. He had been there to pull her from the darkness, talk her from the loneliness and hold her during the emptiness. He had been there through the depressive episodes, the silent hours and restless nights. He had been there for her even though he was mourning just as much as she.
She pressed her cheek against his heart, hugging him as tightly as she could; “I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you as much as you have been there for me.”
“Of course you have,” Sungmin denied immediately, automatically. His fingers slid along her jaw, cupping her cheek and forcing her to look up at him, “When you are sad, I am sad. When you miss him, I miss him. But you make me forget about my sadness. I may have been taking care of you, but it makes me forget about the other person I used to take care of, too. I may have been comforting you, but I have also been mourning with you. When I say things to you to comfort you, to reassure you, I am saying it aloud so I can hear those words, too, so that I can remember, so that I can continue to hope.”
Taeyeon brushed her lips against his before leaning her cheek against his heart again, “I love you, Sungmin.”
“I love you, too, Sweetheart,” Sungmin replied swiftly, softly. He breathed slowly, deeply and then, when he was sure his voice was strong enough, he promised her, “We’ll find him.”
The sky was filled with light, grey, fluffy clouds. The sun peeked out, its beams slipping through the thick layers to touch the earth. The place was silent, still as the cool wind swept over the stone area, swirling and slipping around the cold, silent, small monuments that were erect everywhere. Before four identical monuments stood two men. The older man had a smaller frame, but his posture, the strength perceived from the complete stillness of his body spoke of a deeper strength. The younger man had a bigger frame, obvious strength wrapped in layers of thick clothing, not an inch of skin exposed to the brief periods of sunlight.
They paid their respects to the first three monuments, but now they stood before the fourth and last one, their gazes both glued to the engravings in the face of the monument.
“It’s been one year and one week since Zhou Mi died,” the older man said quietly as the wind took his words and carried them to the other.
“So many times we’ve had to recount what happened to him, so many times we’ve had to relive that night… I think the Council will finally leave us alone,” the younger man added, his voice slightly muffled by the wool scarf wrapped several times around the bottom half of his face; “They’ll finally allow Zhou Mi to rest in peace.”
“We’d be a fool to believe that, Kangin” the older man replied, a slight hard bitterness to his tone; “I wouldn’t put it past them to sweep in after we leave to dig up his bones just so they can do more experiments on another person who may have transformed into a vampire.”
“A year later and you think they’ll still try to get their hands on Zhou Mi’s body? After everything, they’ll still disgrace him like that? I thought he was highly regarded in the Council, Eeteuk?” Kangin asked exasperatedly,
“He was… until he was bitten by the pureblood,” Eeteuk spat; “You of all people know what the Council is capable of.”
Kangin was silent for a bit, allowing the wind to embrace them, come between them. A year later and it was still difficult to get close to the older man. It was still difficult to hold that hand without it clutching back desperately. It was still difficult to get out of bed at night only to return to the other man being awake and panicking. It was still difficult to say goodbye without the other man having a breakdown. It was still difficult and he could only blame himself.
He wanted what they used to have. He wanted the easy trust, the easy acceptance. He had lost it all when he walked away, when he allowed his death to be believed. He allowed the other to be paranoid, to be possessive because he deserved it all, because he caused it all. He allowed the clinging, the non-stop calls, the jealous tendencies. He allowed this monstrous, this ugly side of Eeteuk’s to survive, to thrive, because it was borne because of him. He knew that the only way to banish it, to regain everything he lost was to accept the consequences, to prove himself again and again.
One day, he knew, he would have it all back again.
Kangin sighed heavily, bowing his head towards the monument before turning and heading towards the cemetery’s exit. When Eeteuk was abreast with him, he wondered aloud, “I wonder how that kid is, if he remembers anything yet.”
“Heechul and Sungmin haven’t had any progress yet,” Eeteuk replied, his voice holding a slight edge as he spoke the first name. There was still resentment, distrust and anger, but it was slowly dissipating because, he knew, if in the same position, Eeteuk would have done the same thing. He would have been just as selfish.
“And Hankyung? Has he found anything?” Kangin inquired,
“Not that I know of. Hankyung hasn’t contacted me recently, but if he finds anything he’ll tell Heechul or myself,” Eeteuk answered; “You’d think with the Council’s knowledge at our fingertips we’d find something… but, I guess it’s hard when the Council doesn’t exactly let vampires stay alive.”
“Hankyung left SJA so he could get more information, so that he could protect what’s left of Zhou Mi,” Kangin said, “He’s a Council Member now and because of his grandfather, he has so much influence but still… it’s not enough.”
“No, it’s not everything that we want, but it is enough,” Eeteuk corrected simply, “The campus is as safeguarded as it’ll ever be. We now have a voice in the Council that can start changing things from within. Policies, rules… with Hankyung there, maybe mistakes like what happened to Kyuhyun and Zhou Mi can be prevented. It’s not everything… but it’s enough.”
They exited the cemetery, slowly descending the few steps to the ground. They headed to where they had left the rented car. Kangin opened the door, holding it open for the other man. Eeteuk paused, looking over his shoulder towards the cemetery.
“We’ve done what we came here to do… let’s go back to Seoul tonight, Kangin,” Eeteuk said,
“But we’re supposed to meet back at Hankyung’s former village,” Kangin stated,
Eeteuk’s gaze slowly reverted to the younger man, locking on his face; “Let’s go home.”
Kangin watched as Eeteuk slipped into the passenger seat. He closed the door firmly after him and then walked around the front of the car to the driver’s side. He paused, hand on the handle, his gaze on the roof of the rental car as he replayed the brief moment that had played between them. He breathed slowly, sighed softly before opening the door and getting in.
One day, he would have it all back again. One day soon.
“That was Kangin. He and Eeteuk are returning to Korea tonight,” Heechul stated as he slowly through the front room. He looked around, finding it emptier than when he left it. He noticed the front door open and, slowly, he made his way over, pausing in the doorway and leaning a shoulder on the doorframe.
“Hankyung,” He said softly.
The other man sat on the front steps, his gaze locked on a house just a few meters from his own in the village where he had been born. It was the village where he had made a home with his parents, where his grandfather had taken him away from after the death of Zhou Mi’s family. He barely remembered anything from those times, but he remembered some and, most of all, he remembered Zhou Mi.
He remembered running through the village, scrambling between their houses, the laughs, the adventures; their childhood together. He remembered the screams, the crying, the whispers and stares; their last moments in the village. He remembered when Zhou Mi had laid beside him and cried himself to sleep. He remembered when he had practically locked Zhou Mi in the house to stop him from wandering back to his own house. He remembered when he had snuck over to the other house, to get as much of Zhou Mi’s belongings as possible.
“It looks so normal from the outside,” Heechul said quietly, tentatively.
He had been mourning the loss of a student, of a patient, of someone he had almost seen as a little brother. He had been mourning the loss of innocence, of freedom, of every memory be they dear or terrible. However, he knew he wasn’t the only one. Hankyung had been mourning the loss of a friend, the friend’s future and happiness. Hankyung had been mourning the loss of simplicity, of another life ruined by the secret darkness in the world. They were both mourning and, as selfish as it seemed, sometimes Heechul wondered who suffered more.
Hankyung didn’t have to wonder every day about the health of another person. Hankyung didn’t have to remember the blank expression of another person. Hankyung didn’t have to worry every day about another person he didn’t see. Hankyung didn’t have to constantly think of another person who was a mere shell. Hankyung didn’t have haunting thoughts serving as a daily reminder.
“I’m going for a walk,” Hankyung said, swiftly standing up;
“Will you be back for dinner?” Heechul inquired hesitantly.
Hankyung looked back, the haunted, confused look suddenly displaced from his face; “Of course. Heechul –”
He shook his head, waving the other man away, “It’s fine, go. I’ll see you when you get back.”
Hankyung hesitated, but Heechul had already retreated back into the house, slowly, softly closing the door behind him. He sighed heavily as he leaned his pack against the door, his head drooping. He still felt hesitant around Hankyung, still felt wary whenever he did or said something and couldn’t read Hankyung’s expression or reaction. He felt himself growing scared of getting to know people, of letting them close. He felt himself growing scared of getting to know Hankyung, of letting him close.
He didn’t want to lose another person. He didn’t want to get hurt again.
The door at his back vibrated gently with the knocking from the other side.
“Heechul, I know you’re still there so open the door,” Hankyung’s voice was muffled through the thick, wooden door between them.
“Go on your walk,” Heechul called back, not caring that Hankyung read him so clearly nor that he was admitting to it;
“No, not until I know everything’s okay between us; I know better than to walk away when it’s not,” Hankyung stated dryly. Heechul heard a soft sigh, “Can you at least open the door so I don’t stand here looking like a fool in front of the entire village?”
Reluctantly, Heechul turned, stepped away from the door and opened it. He loosely crossed his arms as he watched Hankyung enter and close the door behind him; “What just happened? It’s not like we fought or anything and yet I still feel like something’s wrong between us.”
“Nothing’s wrong between us,” Heechul insisted even as he sighed heavily and looked away.
Hankyung leaned back against the door, shoving his fists into his pockets, his eyes watching the other man’s every move; “Too much has happened around us, between us, for me to let it go with just that. We both know what it means to cherish each moment… we both know that life is not forever, that it has a limit. We cannot waste a single moment, a single second to meaningless moments, unmeant words or regrettable silences.”
Heechul said nothing, merely stepped the small distance between them and, arms still crossed, leaned his cheek against the former mathematics teacher’s shoulder. Slowly, Hankyung pulled his hands from his pockets and laced his fingers on the small of Heechul’s back. They stood like that, silent, still. In that moment, they understood each other. They didn’t say anything because they didn’t have to.
Seoul, late afternoon
The sun was setting early with the winter season. Even as the sky was streaked with pinks and oranges and threads of darkness began to ravel at the edges where sky met land, the temperature remained mild, the surface of the thick snow melting slightly at the unprecedented warmth. The park had been littered with crowds of people taking strolls in the middle weather. However, as the hour grew late and the sun began to set, the park slowly thinned out.
A couple slowly walked through the park, the brick lane just sparsely covered with snow due to the sun’s rays the entire day. The man, dressed in black slacks and a black, leather jacket, slowly pushed a double stroller which had a plastic curtain hanging around the twin seats which protected against the cold as it insulated the heat. The woman, dressed in a black pencil skirt and thick, black trench coat walked beside him, her black boots tapping on the brick walkway as she twined an arm around his. They walked at a leisurely pace, the mild weather allowing for them to walk out with their children to their apartment building just on the other side of the park.
“I don’t see why we needed to buy him a present when he specifically said he didn’t want any presents,” the man scoffed, his tone monotonous as he rolled his eyes to the sky,
“Sungmin was obviously lying. He’s not used to having more than just a friend or two, he’s very excited for his dinner tonight, Kibum” the woman replied,
“I’m pretty sure Taeyeon can give him a better present than we could ever buy him,” Kibum stated flatly before adding, “Besides, I taught him to dance for our wedding. That’s present enough, Kyuri,”
“We didn’t even have dancing. We just had a small dinner,” Kyuri reminded gently; “You never should have teased him about there being dancing at the wedding. I bet you regret it when he asked you to teach him.”
“I felt so bad I couldn’t say no,” Kibum shrugged, “besides, he should have known I was kidding.”
“How? You speak in monotone!” Kyuri laughed lightly as she touched her temple to his shoulder before straightening again; “Love, we’re going to have dancing at our second wedding.”
“I can only hope that your brother refrains from remembering until you learn to forget I promised two weddings,” Kibum stated lightly.
“Well, you better hope I remember I have a husband after that comment,” Kyuri huffed as she withdrew her arm from his, adding emphasis by crossing her arms as they continued to walk.
Kibum said nothing, merely inhaled slowly and refrained from speaking. They had many conversations – indeed, arguments – over the progress of Kyuhyun’s memory recall. At first, Kibum had been devastatingly honest which Kyuri had not appreciated. Lately, they had avoided the topic all together but, whenever it was brought up, Kibum would talk of it lightly, trying to put a positive side to the situation. Kyuri didn’t appreciate that tactic either.
They walked a bit in silence before the whine of cries pierced the silence around them. Kyuri stopped in synchronization with Kibum. The latter of the two walked around the double stroller and squatted down before the front, peering through the plastic at his children. His daughter was crying like a little siren and his son was fidgeting in his seat, fighting the urge to wake up at his sister’s loud noises.
“Kyumi,” Kibum stated sternly, “Did you want to come out of the stroller?”
“Don’t just give in!” Kyuri insisted, “You always spoil them.”
“Fine,” Kibum stared straight at his daughter’s tear-filled eyes; “No, princess, you’re going to have to stay in there with your brother.”
Kyuri watched as Kibum entered a staring-contest with a one-year-old. She stood sentry, arms still crossed as the few people who walked by couldn’t help by look to see the source of the incessant crying. She sighed heavily as she nudged him aside,
“Okay, don’t spoil them a different time,” Kyuri murmured as she slipped her daughter out from the stroller, pulling on her fur-lined hood as Kyuri settled her on her hip, Kyumi’s cries stopping immediately.
They continued walking, Kibum taking up his stance behind the stroller, their son sleeping once more as Kyumi began to fidget in Kyuri’s arms; “Ap-ap!” Kyumi chirped as she tried to twist out of her mother’s hold,
“No, Kyumi, I’m not your dad,” Kyuri said gently as she put Kyumi down, the little girl a still slightly unsteady on her feet. With her little arms outstretched at her sides, looking like a little pink ball because of her fluffy snow suit, Kyumi began to stagger ahead of them, her little white-mittened hands opening and closing like crab claws. Kyuri glanced at Kibum as they followed their daughter, “I still can’t believe you’re her first word.”
“And Kyuki. Don’t forget I’m his first word, too,” Kibum reminded, a soft teasing note in his tone.
Kyuri paused to glare at her husband, “Keep reminding me and they’ll grow up without a father.”
“You’re so loving,” Kibum said dryly, the hint of a smile on his lips, knowing it would annoy her further.
“Sorry to interrupt, but could you keep walking? I’m trying to draw,” a young man sitting on a bench called out to them.
“Sorry,” Kibum said, swiftly continuing on.
Kyuri, in a means to walk faster, scooped up Kyumi, settling her on her hip once more. She had taken five steps when she stopped, practically froze in her steps. Kibum paused a few steps ahead of her, looking over his shoulder at her in a silent question. Kyuri stared back at him with wide eyes. Slowly, she turned on her heel back towards the young man on the bench.
The young man sat on a bench clear of any snow. Dressed in black slacks and a dark blue pea coat, the young man had one knee crossed over the other, a notebook lying precariously on his thighs. His thick hair fell in soft waves around his face, the bottom half covered with a scarf. Fitted, leather gloves covered his hands and a pair of dark sunglasses were perched on his nose. His face was barely discernable above his scarf which was pulled to just below his glasses, and yet, Kyuri knew.
Kyuri’s lips parted, her breath barely filling her lungs, Kyumi lying her head on Kyuri’s shoulder. Three heartbeats passed. Three heartbeats in which Kyuri’s mind came to a stop, her thoughts mixing and trying to align themselves accordingly, trying to accept this sudden surprise. Three heartbeats in which she lost her ability to speak, to hear, to sense; all she knew was his voice politely calling out to her.
One heartbeat. She had to call out.
Two. How did one speak again?
“Jo-sshi! We must leave before your parents get anxious!”
One of the park’s gates was just a few feet away. At the curb was parked a sleek, black, Lincoln town car and, beside the car, stood an older man in a driver’s black uniform. Kyuri’s attention, however, was aimed towards her twin who flipped his book close and gracefully, fluidly, stood up from the bench. He stared towards the sky visible through the many branches of the park’s trees. He tipped up his sunglasses slightly before blinking several time and replacing his glasses.
“How beautiful the sunset must be when not in greyscale,” He said quietly, his words wistful, mournful, the wind carrying his soft sigh across the small distance to Kyuri.
Kyuhyun turned and headed towards the car, not acknowledging Kyuri and Kibum in any way as he passed them. Kyuri turned to follow him with her eyes. Slowly, she made her way to Kibum’s side as the driver held a back door open for Kyuhyun and her twin slipped inside.
“He… he said greyscale,” Kyuri stammered as she crouched, placing her daughter in the stroller once more; “He’s lost his colours again and he never got to see blue… he never got to see his favourite colour.”
“Because he cannot feed from the one he loves… if he’s feeding at all,” Kibum said quietly, his hands gripping the handles of the stroller tightly, almost painfully.
“He’s lost his memory… he’s lost his colours…” Kyuri swallowed hard, “You promised that one day we’d get him back… Today’s not that day, hmm, Kibum?”
“Will that day every come?” Kyuri asked simply, quietly,
“I don’t know anymore, my love,” Kibum answered honestly, unable to give her false hope when she deserved better. The car began to pull from the curb and Kibum and Kyuri began to walk towards the gate, stopping just outside as the car stopped at a red light. “We’d better get going if we want to change before the dinner.”
“Yes,” Kyuri agreed, her tone distant, “I just… I just want to wait a minute more.”
Kibum said nothing, simply stood beside Kyuri as they both watched the car together. The traffic light turned green and the car continued on its way. They watched in silence as the car became small in the distance. The car turned a corner and completely disappeared from sight. Without being asked, Kibum opened an arm to Kyuri and without being invited, Kyuri stepped into his embrace. They stood for a moment, Kibum embracing Kyuri with one arm before he released her, but she continued to hug his arm as they continued their walk home with their children.
In the warmth of the car, Kyuhyun balanced his notebook on his thighs, taking off his glasses, unfurling his scarf and carefully pulling off his soft-leather gloves. The windows were tinted to diffuse the sunlight as much as possible while still allowing for one to see the car’s interior. He glanced down at his notebook before flipping it open as the car began to pull away from the curb.
The white page before him was covered in charcoal lines, bold and soft, defined and smudged, forming and shaping a defined jaw line, the complicate smooth shadows of a nose and eyes that seemed to know so much, say so much and still be, somehow, unfamiliar to him. Kyuhyun’s dark eyes swept over the portrait he had drawn while in the park and he knew, without flipping through his book, that the pages were filled with more drawings of the same face. Different expressions, different angles, but still, the same face. There was no name to the face, no memories, just a face with expressions, emotions and a smile that seemed to brighten his day, his night, his life, when the sun could not.
The car came to a stop at a traffic light and Kyuhyun pulled out of his slight reverie, the gentle stop of the car nudging at his attention. For a brief, peculiar moment, he felt the urge to look over his shoulder, to stare and search out of the car’s back window. He felt as if he had just missed something, passed by something so vital and yet, he found no reason for his feelings, for his inklings. Like his dreams of the mysterious, smiling man, his curious urge to turn in his seat and look behind the car was baseless, irrational.
His phone began to ring softly in his coat’s pocket. He stared at the drawing for a moment more, a strange clenching in the left side of his chest before he pushed the pain away and closed the notebook. Laying the book on the seat beside him, he took out his phone and held it to his ear. As he answered the phone, he slowly began to turn in his seat, deciding to indulge his body’s strange instincts. He glanced out the tinted window, his eyes immediately going back to the park gates he had just left. Before his eyes could focus, before he could understand, the words from the other side of the phone registered,
“Father, yes I’m in the car already,” Kyuhyun replied, turning back in his seat, pushing away all irrational urges and looking straight ahead in the town car; “Yes, we’re leaving Seoul now. I’ll see you and Mother at the new house. Goodbye.”
He closed his phone and pocketed it once more. The car began to move as the traffic light turned green. Kyuhyun’s attention slowly returned to his notebook. His eyes rested on the cover of his sketchbook, his hand reaching out of its own accord and lying simply, protectively on it.
“A new house… a new home,” Kyuhyun murmured to himself, his thoughts returning to the drawing he had meticulously worked on all afternoon in the park, wrapped up as much as he could, protected from the sun as much as possible. “Will I ever meet you?” He whispered, his drawing coming to life in his mind, but still without colour, his memory of the vibrant shades already fading after months without seeing the final colour he lost: red.
He pulled the notebook back onto his lap and held it loosely there, his hands clasped atop the cover, protectively, possessively. He leaned his head back against the seat, allowing the movement of the car to lull him to sleep. The last image in his head was a man’s face and smile that was both familiar from his dreams and unfamiliar from his life. A small smile curved his lips as he breathed,
“Let’s meet one day. Please.”