(3rd Cycle of the Mourning Song series.)
3rd Cycle: Glimpsing Memories
I met someone new today.
Had to get all dressed up
with pink ribbons in my hair.
My shoes so shiny,
and brushed my teeth
a million times.
Monday; Fourth week of September 20XX
It was mid-autumn; surely, it could be less sunny? Surely, the sun could shine less bright; surely, the clouds could appear more and be denser? Apparently not, since he was completely covered as if stepping out into a winter day when he left the house that morning. He hated a lot of aspects of his disease, but one of the most annoying, by far, was his sensitivity to light. He felt warm just by having sunlight in the room. If sunlight touched his skin, it would begin to burn as if he were a piece of meat in the oven. Sometimes, even just looking at a ray of sunlight gave him a headache. He was sure if he was just a bit more sensitive to light, they’d have to get special light bulbs for each room he inhabited.
Currently, he was standing in his father’s office. He should feel grateful that his father had ensured all the windows in the office were covered before he entered the room. However, considering his father was yelling at him for something completely out of his control, he was feeling less than generous towards his old man.
“You left work early on Friday again!?” His father exclaimed, his voice a level below a roar, eyes narrowed beneath thick, bushy brows and each line in his face carved with little-concealed hostility; “How can you ever hope to gain anyone’s respect when you cannot even sit through an entire day at work!? You are the heir to Jo Shipping Company. You need to be able to handle running the company, handle running the entire staff of every level… YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO HAND AN 8-HOUR DAY AT THE LEAST!”
Kyuhyun waited a few heartbeats to answer, inhaling slowly and deeply to control the constant pounding in his head; he hadn’t slept well the previous night again. “I know you’ve been trying to ignore it all this time, but maybe it’s time you face reality, Father – I’m dying.”
“Do not be insolent with me, Kyuhyun!” His father yelled, fists banging on the desk’s surface;
“Insolent? I’m telling you the truth. I’m sick, Father, have been for years. I’ve been on medication that doesn’t seem to be helping, I have monthly blood transfusions that give me one day of health before I crash again,” Kyuhyun shrugged, arms crossed over his chest; “I don’t know about you, but I’m just waiting for the day when I go to sleep and don’t wake up again.”
“Kyuhyun…” His father’s voice was pure menace,
“Or perhaps they’ll find me in my office after my heart suffered an apoplectic fit!” Kyuhyun exclaimed as his eyes narrowed. He saw immediately the slight shock on his father’s face; it was rare he spoke back, but he was tired of biting back his anger and exhausted of his silent fits of rage.
“Kyuhyun, do NOT say another word,” His father’s words were grounded out like boulders rubbing against each other;
“Why? You don’t say anything and mother sure as hell doesn’t –”
“Do not speak of your mother like that,” His father warned dangerously, slowly rising from his office chair,
“I’m the only one who ever says anything about what’s going on with me!” Kyuhyun yelled, no longer caring how disrespectful he was being nor if others outside of the office could hear him, the heir, yelling at his father; “I’m the only one who doesn’t push away the truth just to make life a little bit easier. Well, I can’t be silent for your sake, Father! I’m dying; it’s a surprise if I live to see tomorrow morning. So, if going home early from work lets me live a little bit longer, then I’ll go home and TO HELL WITH THIS COMPANY!”
Before his father could reply, a swift knock came from the office’s double doors. One door opened and Mijoon slipped in, bowing at his waist immediately, “Pardon, Sir, but the Young Master will be late for a doctor’s appointment.”
Kyuhyun bit down so hard his jaw hurt, simply in an effort to reign in the temper he had just let loose. He watched his father carefully, saw the muscle working in his father’s jaw, the white knuckles and pronounced veins in his fists that proved he was doing the same thing. He watched as his father barely reigned in his temper. When he spoke, his voice was low, thick and gravely,
“Very well. Kyuhyun, you’re excused.”
A thousand retorts, lashed words slipped through Kyuhyun’s mind in that moment. He said none of them. He sketched a bow, a stab in the heart after the words he had just exchanged with his father, turned on his heel and left with Mijoon right behind him. They were a few feet away from the office doors when Mijoon handed Kyuhyun a thermos. Kyuhyun took it and sipped slowly,
“Tea?” Kyuhyun inquired as they walked steadily towards the elevator,
“Indeed,” Mijoon replied.
“I don’t have a doctor’s appointment today,” Kyuhyun said after he gulped more of the tea,
“Indeed,” Mijoon repeated, “But you were in there for ten minutes and then I heard yelling. I decided that a quick escape was in need.”
“Thank you,” Kyuhyun murmured as they stepped into the elevator. When the doors closed and Mijoon pressed the ‘one’ button, he raised a single brow at the assistant,
“You looked ready to drop this morning,” Mijoon said simply, “Besides, after what I could hear from your meeting with your father, the last thing you’ll be able to do is concentrate on work.”
“I’m not some imbecile,” Kyuhyun snapped, “I can do work just fine no matter what mood I’m in –”
Mijoon silenced Kyuhyun by grabbing his chin. Kyuhyun’s chin was planted firmly in Mijoon’s palm, his long fingers curling around his jaw, holding it firmly, securely as he stood towering over Kyuhyun, dark eyes narrowed in a silent threat for the younger man to talk.
“I didn’t call you an imbecile and I know how well you can work. In fact, I know you to be quite brilliant and how dedicated you secretly are to your work here,” Mijoon stated, his words low and sharp; “You’re still riding on your anger from your father and are lashing out at me when I don’t deserve it.”
“Mijoon… I… I’m…” Kyuhyun stammered as he found himself unable to look away from the older man’s eyes, his heart beating slowly, steadily and damn powerfully.
“I have been your assistant for a year, Kyuhyun. I have never done or said anything to warrant such harsh accusations from you, so don’t think to do so now just because you’re throwing a tantrum and I happen to be present,” Mijoon said quietly, his voice a like a soft growl; “Regardless of what you may think, I care about you and I’ll be damned before I let you say otherwise about me.”
Mijoon’s eyes swept over Kyuhyun’s face a moment more before he harshly released his hold and stepped away. The remainder of the elevator ride was silent as Mijoon crossed his arms about his torso and his temper boiled over. Kyuhyun stood silent and still, Mijoon’s words repeating over and over in his mind, causing him to be overly aware of every breath and slight movement the older man made in the enclosed area.
When the elevator doors opened, Mijoon placed his hand over the sensor to keep the doors open, not even looking at Kyuhyun as he waited for the Young Master to get out of the elevator first. They walked out of the front entrance, the driver standing by the car with an umbrella ready. He ran forward and Mijoon took the umbrella, gesturing for the driver to get into the car. Silently, Mijoon walked beside Kyuhyun to the car parked at the curb, the umbrella shielding Kyuhyun from the hot, autumn sun. He opened the door and Kyuhyun slipped inside. Mijoon closed the umbrella and handed it to Kyuhyun, closing the door firmly closed. Before the car’s engine even started, the window rolled down and Mijoon simply raised a questioning brow at the Young Master.
“Mijoon… about earlier…”
“We’re both still upset for our own reasons. Go home and get some rest. I’ll talk to you tomorrow when we’ve both had time to cool down,” Mijoon said simply, turning to leave,
“But, Mijoon –”
“Go now before I say something I’ll regret later,” Mijoon snapped.
Kyuhyun watched as Mijoon walked away without another word. When his assistant disappeared back into the company building, he closed the window and instructed the driver to bring him home. His ride home was silent, his thoughts going over Mijoon’s words, not just what he said in the elevator, but what he said before he walked away. Mijoon was upset with him. Granted, he understood why, he was just lashing out at Mijoon, but he felt like there was more to it. Before he could turn that over again in his mind, they were back at the house, already pulling up to the front door. His ruminations over Mijoon warped his sense of time.
Kyuhyun opened the door, held the umbrella outside and pushed it open. When he was sure that he would be as protected from the sun as possible, he assured the driver he was fine and left the car, closing the door behind him. He glanced at the car parked just in front of the car he had exited. Perhaps his mother had a visitor. Nevertheless, he would sneak to his room and go to sleep. The last thing he needed was his mother to berate him also.
As he walked up to the front door, he got the same confusing mix of emotions he always did when he came home: longing and restlessness. He wasn’t sure why he felt that way, indeed, had felt that way ever since they moved back to Seoul a year prior. However, in that amount of time, he already felt very attached to the house and the staff. He didn’t realize he could grow attached so fast. Their previous house in Seoul didn’t mean much to him and their home after that wasn’t much of a home. But this house in Seoul felt different somehow.
The door opened before he could even reach for the doorknob. A butler took the umbrella from him and Kyuhyun said his thanks. He walked across the tiled floor, at the foot of the main staircase when he heard a noise. He turned and glanced down at the banister to his left. Standing there, barely half the height of the banister was a small boy dressed in dark jeans, a small, hooded sweater and a dark baseball hat in his fisted, little hands. With his black hair sticking up from his round head and big black eyes staring unblinkingly, the little boy couldn’t have been more than three years old.
Kyuhyun squatted down before the boy. The boy tilted his head in a considering manner.
Kyuhyun blinked. The boy blinked back.
“Hi,” Kyuhyun greeted tentatively,
“Kyu,” the boy chirped back.
Who knew one meeting could
mean so much?
Who knew one meeting could
change my life?
He's my best friend,
the one to take my hand and run
the one to turn my world upside down.
He's my best friend.
The parlour room was massive. It wasn’t a homey living room, but, she felt it was probably the closest thing the large house had to a living room. All the furniture in the room was made of waxed wood and upholstered with red and gold silks. The wooden floor was waxed to shine like warm honey and the walls painted a light, bright yellow. The room was bright, posh and the last place she ever expected to be.
Kyuri sat straight as a board in her chair, her back not even against the chair’s back support. Dressed in black, straight-legged slacks and a white, lacy-collared, blouse, she had her hands lay lax in her lap; the appearance of a serene statue. In truth, her heart was beating rapidly and she was scared of fainting from her crazed heart. Her mind was racing, so many thoughts, so many words passing through, wanting to be said, and demanding to be yelled.
And yet, all she said was, “You want to be a part of my children’s lives?”
For the first time in a quarter hour, she relaxed, her lips trembling as an astonished laugh rumbled from deep in her throat. She shook her head, her face tilting down for a moment, her short strands of hair were falling forward to frame her heart-shaped face. She looked back at the middle-aged woman who sat just a few feet away from her, a wooden, polished coffee table between them. The woman had black hair, streaked with silver. She had dark eyes that tilted at the ends, which were met with slight wrinkles. Kyuri wondered if those wrinkles were ever because of manifestations of happiness.
Kyuri’s gaze was sharp, alert as she tucked back strands of hair behind her ears; “You won’t let me even be a part of Kyuhyun’s life.”
“I… I can’t…” the woman stressed, her hands clutched in her lap, knuckles whitened with the effort; “Your Father –”
“After all these years, you still can’t stand up to him, can you?” Kyuri laughed bitterly, crossing her arms beneath her bust; “You expect me to let everything go, forgive everything and allow you a place in my children’s lives?”
“When for most of my life you’ve ignored my very existence!?” She demanded, her words sharp as her tone never rose above evenness. “Mother, indeed,” she added, her tone just tinted with dry sarcasm.
“I know the mistakes I’ve made, Kyuri,” the woman, her mother, insisted, her tone pleading and eyes imploring; “Do not think I have not regretted them, because I have, Kyuri – I have. How could I not? You’re my daughter, my baby girl –”
“Don’t talk like you care!” Kyuri snapped, brows narrowing as she allowed an edge of animosity to enter her tone; “Do not even begin to presume you are permitted to care! You abandoned me when I was a baby! You ignored me for twenty-one years! You do not get to care! You do not get to call me your daughter when I have been treated as nothing!”
“I want to make things better between us, Kyuri!” Her mother exclaimed, tone anxious as her hands began to shake from their effort of clasping one another tightly.
“Then turn back time!” Kyuri hissed, no longer holding onto her control; years of anger returning from its grave, supporting and strengthening her anger of her parents’ continued treatment of Kyuhyun; “Turn back time and take back everything you did!”
“I… I can’t,” her mother stammered, startled at her daughter’s proclamation;
“Then you cannot make things better,” Kyuri replied simply, her voice lowering to a dangerous, threatening tone. Her words were cold like individual icicles sharpened to deadly points; “Let me see Kyuhyun. Let me talk to him.”
“I… I can’t change so much so soon, especially with your father –”
“Stop calling him that!” Kyuri yelled, jumping to her feet as she glared down at the woman who gave birth to her; “I have no father! I haven’t had a father since you put me on a plane to Japan! And you… you let him.” Her arms were tightly hugged against her torso, her hands fisted beneath opposite elbows, her nails digging into her palms.
“Kyuri, please!” Her mother was begging now, inching to the edge of her seat, precariously too close to falling to her knees in a deep bow; “They’re my grandchildren!”
“Kyuhyun doesn’t even know about them! He doesn’t even know he has family outside the two of you!” Kyuri accused; “You want me to allow you access to my children when you won’t even consider affording the same privileges to your own son? I will not expose my children to such harshness, coldness! I will not allow my children to be vulnerable to the pain and hurt you can inflict on children! I will not have their childhoods ruined by the likes of you like you did to me!”
Kyuri was stunned. Her bottom lip fell open, her eyes widened and for one moment, her heart stopped, her lungs seized and all things angry – thoughts, memories, feelings – were dispelled. Her mother knelt on the waxed, wooden floor, her hands clasped together over her knees and her head bowed so low, her forehead almost touched the edge of the coffee table. She didn’t know why, but in that moment, she had the urge to walk over and pull her mother – no, this woman – up. She didn’t know why, but the anger she was reliving was replaced with an overwhelming, suffocating feeling for her m – this woman, pity.
“I decided before they were born that I would give them the choice,” Kyuri said slowly, steadily, her words firm and even; “I decided to never take away their choices, to never stunt their possibilities, to encourage their growth. When they are older, I will tell them about you. I will tell them and they can decide for themselves should they want you in their lives.”
Kyuri made a sharp turn and headed towards the door of the parlour.
“When?” The tremulous word echoed in the large room; “When will that be? How old?”
Kyuri paused, her hand on the curved, gold-plated door handle; “Whenever I feel they have the judgement to make an informed decision on their own. That’s all I’ll say, but even that’s more than either of you deserve from me.”
Kyuri opened the door,
“Kyuri… I… I am sorry,” Her mother’s words floated towards her.
Kyuri breathed slowly, deeply, allowing her body, mind and heart to calm down; to regain control once more. Staring straight ahead at an unremarkable wall, she replied simply, her voice barely reaching back to the woman; “Twenty years too late.”
Kyuri closed the door firmly behind her and began walking towards the front of the house. She passed the main staircase when she paused and looked down. She blinked down at the little boy staring back up at her. She put her hands on her hips as she raised her brows at the little boy, “Kyuki, did you follow me from the car?”
The little boy grinned up at her in reply.
Kyuri laughed softly as she held out her hand, “Come on then, time to go home.”
She walked steadily but slowly so her son could keep up. She nodded towards the butler who opened the door for her and then helped her son walk down the few front steps. They were almost to the car when a voice called out to them. Kyuri paused; it hadn’t sounded like her mother. Slowly, she turned back, Kyuki’s hand firmly in hers.
Kyuhyun ran over, stopping just a metre away. He held out a small, blue cap, “He dropped this.”
Kyuki pulled away from his mother to jump and snatch the hat from Kyuhyun. He tugged the hat on his head and grinned up at Kyuhyun.
The entire time, Kyuri couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even think. Her heart had seized and the only thought she could think was her brother’s name. Her hands were lax at her sides, but they twitched to move, to reach out and grab him, to pull him close and physically knock some memories into him.
Her lip trembled and she was horrified to feel the sting of tears behind her eyes. No, she wouldn’t cry and yet… how could she not? After so long, she was finally reunited with her twin brother. It didn’t matter that they had eighteen years without one another. It didn’t matter that she used to hate him. All that mattered was that he was here with her and that the past three years seemed longer than the previous eighteen.
“T…Thank you,” Kyuri breathed, surprised that she was able to speak at all when so many words wanted to spill from her mouth, wanted to take precedence over all others.
Kyuhyun raised his gaze to the stranger before him. Something about her reminded him of someone else. It was in the line of her nose, apples of her cheeks and the shape of her eyes. Something, some kind of quality reminded him of… someone. But who?
“He said his name is Kyuki,” Kyuhyun said timidly,
“My son followed me into the house,” Kyuri’s eyes widened as she glanced at her son before looking up again. It was then that Kyuhyun realized the little boy had the same eyes as this stranger.
“And what is your name?” Kyuhyun inquired, his heart waiting suddenly, his entire body stopping as if the next words she said would affect him greatly somehow.
“Kyu… Kyuri,” she answered,
“Can… Can I ask you what colour the hat is?” Kyuhyun asked tentatively,
“Dark blue,” Kyuri answered without even having to check; “It’s his favourite colour, same as mine,” she added, her dark eyes sweeping over his face as if looking, searching for something. Perhaps he reminded her of someone, too. Her eyes widened then, but instead of surprise like before, her eyes were filled with fear, “Your skin…”
Kyuhyun’s own eyes widened as he looked down at his hands, a bright red already. He bowed his head quickly, “Sorry and nice to meet you,” he turned and ran as fast as he could back into the house, stopping when he was at the door to look back once before disappearing into the large house.
“Nice to see you again,” Kyuri whispered, desperately trying to fight back the tears that threatened.
“Umma,” Kyuki chirped.
Kyuri blinked back her tears, inhaled deeply, sharply to quickly control herself and looked down, “Yes?”
“Who was that man?” Kyuki asked as he took off his dark blue cap and began waving it around idly,
Kyuri scooped him up into her arms, suddenly needing warmth and suddenly wanting to hold her son tightly. She looked back at the house, “He’s your uncle.”
“Uncle, uncle,” Kyuki said in a sing-song tone. His face scrunched up, “Like Uncle Sungie?”
“Kind of,” Kyuri said as she turned and continued on to the car,
“What’s that mean?” Kyuki asked as he tried to put the too-small-cap on his mother’s head,
“Uncle Sungie is your uncle because he’s with Auntie,” Kyuri explained, “But that man who gave you your hat is your uncle because he’s my brother.”
“Like Mimi and me?” Kyuki asked,
Kyuri felt the tears flood back and ruthlessly shoved away her rising emotions as she forced a smile to curve her lips. “Yes,” she said softly, “Like you and Mimi.”
Kyuri opened the back door and Kyuki climbed into his car seat. Kyuri secured him in his seat before closing the door and slipping into the front seat.
“Mimi! I met Uncle!” Kyuki bragged to his sister who was in her own car seat on the other side of the back seat.
“Uncle Sungie?” Mimi, short for Kyumi, gasped,
“No! Umma’s brother! Like you and me!” Kyuki exclaimed as he began waving his hat around like a fan.
Kyuri stared straight ahead as she secured her own seatbelt. Strong fingers curled around her hand, but she resisted the urge to look over, knowing that one look could break her composure.
“Love?” Kibum asked softly,
“He looks the same,” Kyuri replied quietly; “Please… let’s go home now.”
Kibum said no more, merely turned on the engine and pulled away from the house. The drive home was filled with the twins’ chatter in the back until they fell asleep from the lulling movements of the car. The entire time, Kibum never let go of Kyuri’s hand, knowing she was silent because she was crying.
I met someone amazing that day.
We laughed until we cried
and smiled until it hurt.
It was like that everytime
we were together.
Who knew one meeting could
be so treasured?
Who knew one meeting could
lead to forever?
Placing the baby monitor on top of the dresser, Kibum kicked the door closed behind him. He walked into the walk-in closet, pulling off his shirt as he did so.
“How was your meeting with your mother?” Kibum called out.
Kyuri, who sat at a vanity table in a knee-length, spaghetti-strap night gown, froze in her movements for just a moment before she continued brushing her short locks again; “If she hadn’t given birth to me, I wouldn’t even acknowledge her as such, like with… that man.”
“You mean your father,” Kibum prompted as he came out of the closet in black pyjama pants and a fitted, black wife-beater. “Regardless of how you feel, Kyuri, they’re still your parents.”
Kyuri spun on the bench seat for her vanity. She crossed her arms beneath her bust, eyes narrowed, “You know what they did to me –”
“Yes, but it’s been three years since we lost your brother and ever since then, your mother has been calling here ever week since then,” Kibum interrupted as he walked over to their bed, just a few feet away from her, and plopped onto the edge of the foot of the bed. “Whether you like it or not, Darling, she and your father are family.”
“We’ve gone through this before,” Kyuri huffed, “I don’t know why we keep going over this.”
“Because your mother is trying to reconnect with you and you refuse to let her,” Kibum relied simply, his voice even;
“I won’t risk my children getting hurt because of her!” Kyuri yelled angrily, forgetting that her children’s room was just half-way down the hall.
“Finally,” Kibum sighed as he stood up from the bed. He walked over to the wall switch and turned off the lights. He passed his wife again, brushed a kiss to her cheek and then climbed into the bed.
Kyuri blinked in the darkness of the room, pale moonlight drifting through the windows. She climbed onto the bed and crawled over to Kibum’s side, crossing her legs as best she could while wearing the gown. Arms crossed still, she glared down at her husband’s back. She nudged him with her knee,
“What do you mean ‘finally’? That doesn’t make sense; and our fight isn’t over yet,” Kyuri snapped,
“It makes perfect sense; and we were never fighting,” Kibum murmured sleepily,
“But… yes, we were fighting!” Kyuri exclaimed,
Kibum rolled over so he was on his side, facing her, “My voice didn’t raise – therefore, I wasn’t fighting. So, if you were fighting, then it was with the air.”
“But… but…” Kyuri shook her head, “Your voice never changes!”
“But you said you know when I’m angry,” Kibum reminded sleepily as he moved closer, nuzzling his nose against her closest knee.
“What did you mean by ‘finally’, Kibum?” Kyuri sighed exasperatedly.
“Every time I bring up your mother, you start lashing out that she abandoned you –”
“She did –”
“Let me finish,” Kibum said simply as he laid his cheek on her knee, looking up at her through the darkness; “I knew there was another reason for your resistance, but you never thought to tell me. So, I was just waiting for you to tell me. So, yes: finally.”
“It’s not that I didn’t want to tell you,” Kyuri insisted in a soft voice, reaching down and brushing her fingers along his jaw in a small caress; “But you’ve never had a family and I didn’t want you to feel bad because I felt bad about my family.”
“Kyuri, do you know why I constantly push you about your mother?” Kibum asked then,
“Because you never had a family so you want me to have mine,” Kyuri answered,
“Yes, but more. Love, you are my family. You have been my family for ten years,” Kibum stated simply, his voice holding so much sincerity and conviction that Kyuri was sure she was going to cry. “I want you to have as much in your life as possible. If your horrible parents want to reconcile, then I support it. If something happens again, then at least you know, then at least you’re not left with the unknowns.”
“But this time it’s not just me who would get hurt, Kibum,” Kyuri whispered, her voice trembling as her hand shook by his cheek; “The twins, this new baby… they would get affected, too.”
“Do you trust me?” Kibum asked simply, raising his head from her knee and rising up on an elbow.
“Of course I do,” Kyuri stated immediately, her tone sure but confused,
Kibum raised his free hand to her face, pushing back short locks that had fallen over her eyes. He tucked the stray strands behind her ear as he continued, “Then trust me to protect you and our children. Trust me to know what to do if they get hurt by your parents.”
“This has never been because I don’t trust you!” Kyuri said suddenly, cupping his face with her hands, “I swear, it’s not because of that.”
“I know,” Kibum replied, the barest hint of amusement in his tone, “But this is how I’m telling you to get over your fears. Let things happen because I’ll be there.”
“Thank you,” Kyuri murmured as she leaned down and pressed her lips to his. Slowly, she manoeuvred them until Kibum was on his back and she was sitting on his abdomen. Still cupping his face, she broke the kiss enough to say simply, “I love you, Kibum.”
“And I love you,” Kibum said and then added, “But there’s still more we need to talk about before we… stop talking.”
Kyuri sat up straight, crossing her arms again, “What’s there more to talk about?”
“Kyuhyun,” Kibum answered.
“My brother… You want to talk about my brother?” Kyuri asked; “Kibum, you’ve always been very observant towards me, so I’m sure you know this, but just to emphasize the point, I’ll say it anyway: I don’t wear this nightgown so I can sleep in it.”
“You’re right, I am fully aware of that and I appreciate the sentiment,” Kibum said, his voice monotonous as usual, “I assure you, I am very appreciative. However, I also know that if we don’t talk about this, we never will and you’ll suffer internally. I know you, Kyuri, you’ll keep it in rather than share your emotions. You’re worse than me.”
Kyuri was silent for a long time. At some point, Kibum honestly wondered if she was ever going to speak. However, he had known her for too long, knew her too well to give up so easily. If she was going to stay silent, then he would wait for even longer.
Eventually, fortunately, Kyuri sighed, “What about Kyuhyun?”
“I had left the house with Kyuki – who, by the way, you could have returned to the car rather than allow him to roam a mansion like that by himself – and then I hear someone calling ‘stop’. Kyuki had dropped his hat and Kyuhyun was returning it,” Kyuri’s voice had slowly softened and trembled,
“I thought you knew he was right behind you,” Kibum defended before asking gently, “Did you two talk?”
“He asked what colour the hat was, so his colours are still gone, but I guess I should’ve known that since he can’t feed from Zhou Mi, even if he was feeding,” Kyuri answered thoughtfully; “But before that… before that… he asked me for my name.”
Kibum remained silent and still, hearing a peculiar note in her tone that set off warning bells in his mind. She was inching towards an edge with a precarious hold. His silence would support her and draw her back. When Kyuri slowly lowered her torso to his, her head, which would usually tuck beneath his chin, lay on the pillow beside his head, her bottom still on his abdomen. Immediately, Kibum wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly against him, keeping her in his strong embrace, warm and secure.
“It was just like the last time,” Kyuri whispered through the darkness; “It was just like that evening two years ago when we… and he… nothing happened, again.”
“You should have talked to me sooner, Love,” Kibum said quietly, one hand rubbing small, soothing circles up and down her silk-covered spine.
“I wanted to keep it to myself because it was him. For a little longer, I wanted a little more to myself,” Kyuri admitted, “I sound so selfish but… that’s what I wanted.”
“He’s your twin brother… one that you were only reunited with for a few short months after eighteen years of forced separation. You’re allowed to be selfish,” Kibum insisted.
Kyuri closed her eyes, holding in the tears as she huddled against Kibum’s chest. She allowed his strength and warmth to surround and permeate through her. The emotions that had flowed through her when she came face-to-face with Kyuhyun for the first time in two years returned in ten-fold. She turned her head so her face was just millimetres from the column of his neck.
“Kibum… is it okay if you just hold me tonight?” Kyuri asked quietly, tentatively.
“Of course,” he replied.
“Thank you,” Kyuri murmured as she pressed a kiss to the underside of his jaw. Then, she rolled off him and inched off the bed, “Now I can change out of this damn gown.”
He's my best friend,
the one to carry me when I fall,
the one to protect me from the world,
Now he knows my words before I say them,
knows my actions before I do them,
knows my heart even more than I do.
Night had fallen on Seoul and most business people had already gone home for the day. The same could be said for Jo Shipping Company. The building was purged of its businessmen and women, security guards and cleaning staff inhabiting it now. On the floor just below the top floor, in the centre was a windowless, large office and, inside, was the heir to the entire company.
The lights were off in his office, his head pounding since earlier that day when he was exposed to the sun. His hands were lying limp on the armrests as he leaned back in his leather office chair. Dressed in black slacks and a white wife-beater, the remainder of his suit was in a chair before his desk. Since that strange meeting at noon, he had hidden in his room for hours. The moment the sun went down and he knew he wouldn’t burn again he got into a car and had the driver wait outside of the company building until his father left. When he saw his father’s car pull out of the parking lot, he thanked the driver and slipped into the emptying building.
He had been in his office for hours. The cleaning staff had showed up an hour ago, but he explained he was doing work and that they didn’t have to clean his office. He liked the silence of the floor, the complete darkness of his office. He had gotten used to the dark, able to make out all the furniture in the room. The only sound that penetrated the office was his laboured breathing.
His heart felt like it was beating so fast it would burst and he felt so hot, he wished there was snow outside. His entire body felt on edge, but he felt so tired that if he fell from his chair, he wouldn’t have been able to get up. He kept his eyes closed, feeling dizzy every time he opened them. It had been days since he was able to eat anything, even something as plain as bread made him bedridden. He refused to take the medications, however, knowing that taking them would make him even sicker.
As he sat there, the first few hours were spent mentally pushing away the pain. He had thought of swimming in a cold pool, of rolling around in a pile of snow – anything and everything that dealt with the cold, would make him feel cold. The meeting with that young woman and her son had intrigued him so much that he hadn’t realized that he had run right out into daylight. Unfortunately, not only was it direct sunlight, but it was noon, which meant the sun was at its highest point. He was surprised that he survived so long without going for help.
His thoughts reverted to what he had heard earlier from outside the parlour door. What was going on in that room? He had only heard a few words, but one word he most definitely heard was ‘grandchildren’. And right after that, he was sure he heard his name being said. He had heard his mother’s voice through his bedroom door so many times, he knew who said what and it had been that young lady who had said his name after his mother had said ‘grandchildren’.
All afternoon and evening, he had been going over the few words he had heard. Emotions had flowed through that door in the raised voices. He had been sorely tempted to open the door and just demand to know why he was being talked about. However, something in what he heard in their voices stopped him just centimetres from grabbing the doorknob.
The door opened and Kyuhyun wasn’t surprised to see Mijoon enter, closing the door behind him. If anything, he was surprised it had taken Mijoon this long to find him. For a year, his assistant had become so synchronized with his movements; he was surprised the older man couldn’t read his mind.
“Your mother called me,” Mijoon said simply as he walked over to the desk. He placed three tall, metal thermoses before Kyuhyun before sitting down in the empty chair before his desk. “Since you’ve been missing since early afternoon, I’m guessing you haven’t eaten yet.”
“Is it cold tea?” Kyuhyun asked slowly, his words containing a rough quality,
“It is,” Mijoon confirmed, “I had a feeling you’d want cold tea tonight.” He reached over to the chair beside his own, picking up pieces of what once were a blazer and button-up shirt; “Kyuhyun…”
“The fastest way to get them off me was to cut them up the sleeves,” Kyuhyun explained as he sat forward and pulled the thermos onto his lap, slowly, carefully unscrewing the lid; “This smells delicious, thank you, Mijoon.”
“Drink all three,” Mijoon instructed seriously,
“What? That is a lot of tea!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,
“You’ve been running around all day with those burns and probably haven’t eaten anything,” Mijoon stated, “You’re probably dehydrated and don’t even know it.”
“They weren’t so bad,” Kyuhyun murmured, “At first…”
“But then they kept burning, right? Drink your tea and enjoy it while you can, Young Master,” Mijoon said as he sat back in his chair, “After that I have some medicine for you.”
“If that’s my prescription, you can just throw them into the trash can,” Kyuhyun stated before taking a long, deep swig of his tea.
“No, it’s for your skin,” Mijoon answered; “It’s as dark as black in here and yet I can see your face and hands are like chilli paste.”
“What took you so long to find me?” Kyuhyun asked simply, carefully placing the half-full thermos on his desk, “Were you still so mad at me that you waited to come find me?”
Mijoon’s fingers drummed on the armrest in an agitated melody. It was dark, but he knew Kyuhyun had been there for some time. He raised a brow at the younger man, hearing easily the snarky, cynical tone. He paced himself, not wanting to have another outburst. His silence was Kyuhyun’s cue to continue.
“Well, if you are, then I don’t need someone mad at me right now,” Kyuhyun said as he screwed the lid back on and sat back in his chair, “I appreciate you bringing the tea and whatever medicine you’ve found, but I do not need your anger this evening. So, just take this and leave me be.”
Mijoon’s fingers stilled, slowly coming down to touch the armrest. Still leaning back in his chair, he stared at the Young Master through the darkness; “Your stomach rejects everything, even water. I have managed to find a tea combination that somehow can be taken by you. It took me a few hours, but I managed to find an ointment for your burns that will possibly help them heal while not reacting with your too-sensitive skin.”
He stood and withdrew a small bottle and put it down on the desk beside the thermos so hard, Kyuhyun was surprised it didn’t explode. “So drink the damn tea and when you’re done put this on your burns,” Mijoon instructed, his voice as cold as winter. He turned and walked to the door.
“Mijoon, wait… where… are you going?” Kyuhyun asked.
He wasn’t sure what he was doing. Just moments ago, he was willing the older man away, wanting to be left in peace. But after Mijoon had begun to walk away, something in Kyuhyun had snapped and he realized he didn’t truly want to be left alone. He had called out to his assistant before he even realized he wanted the older man to stay.
“Like you, I don’t need anger directed at me tonight,” Mijoon said simply without even turning around to face the Young Master; “Also, I decided it best I leave before I say something that’ll get me fired.”
“I… I’m sorry, Mijoon,” Kyuhyun said quietly, his words barely making it over to his assistant, “It’s been...” he sighed, “A confusing day at home and you’re right… I have been letting all my anger out on you.”
“I do believe,” Mijoon said as he finally turned back to face Kyuhyun, leaning his back against the door, “That this is the first time I’ve heard those words from you.”
“That I’m sorry?”
“And that I’m right,” Mijoon added, “Now finish your tea before you faint from the burns and then you can put on the medicine.”
“Mijoon… can you… can you put the medicine on for me?” Kyuhyun asked tentatively; “My burns… I’m… I’m scared to touch them.”
“And you want me to do it, knowing I’d cause you pain from my touch?” Mijoon questioned incredulously as he walked back towards him,
“It’s okay,” Kyuhyun insisted as he opened the thermos again; “If it’s you… it’s okay.”
Mijoon had the slightest pause in his steps at Kyuhyun’s words. He continued on, ignoring the way his blood rushed so powerfully through his veins that he could hear his heartbeat in his ears; ignoring the way his hands itched, tingled for touch; ignoring the thoughts that sped through his mind like a cognitive highway. He ignored all of his bodily reactions and instincts as he came around the desk and stopped right beside Kyuhyun’s chair. He hopped onto the edge of the desk as he took the ointment bottle into his hands.
“Where do you want me to put this on first? Your face or your hands?” Mijoon asked as he poured some of the ointment into his palm.
“My… face and neck,” Kyuhyun answered, his voice breathy and he silently scolded himself for it.
Mijoon twisted on the desk so he was facing Kyuhyun at a diagonal angle. He reached out, stopping when his hands were a hair’s breadth away from Kyuhyun’s face; “I won’t lie to you, Kyuhyun, this will hurt the moment I put my hands on you,” Mijoon warned, his voice deep, concerned and yet, warm like the sunshine Kyuhyun couldn’t feel.
Kyuhyun inhaled slowly, deeply. He closed his eyes and slowly leaned his face forward into Mijoon’s strong hands. Almost immediately, the burns on his face ripped through him at the contact. He inhaled a sharp breath, sounding like a hiss.
“I’m so sorry,” Mijoon said quietly, regrettably as he gently, slowly moved his fingers and palms over Kyuhyun’s raw skin.
He felt the tender tissue, the rough burns beneath his palms. He could feel the heat practically radiating from the burns and silently admonished Kyuhyun for letting his burns go on for so long. If they were still giving off heat, then his skin was still burning. He knew one shouldn’t cover burns if they were still hot, but he knew the medicine would help more than harm.
Kyuhyun was surprised when, suddenly, he could feel the ointment. Somehow, through the haze of heat, he could feel the cool sensation of the ointment being spread over his face. It made the burns tingle, but not in a bad way. His breathing became easier as the pain dulled slightly. At the same time, his heart was pounding like a jackhammer against his ribs. After all, Mijoon had his hands on him.
Mijoon’s hands slowly slid over Kyuhyun’s jaw and made their way down and around his neck. His palms made short, slow strokes as his fingertips massaged the ointment gently into the Young Master’s skin. He silently willed the pain to go away, willed the ointment to work faster, stronger – anything to take away Kyuhyun’s pain. He wished he had been with Kyuhyun that day, wished he hadn’t left the Young Master alone. Had he been there, then perhaps the burns could have been prevented.
When Mijoon moved his attention to the backs of Kyuhyun’s hands, he came across a silver bracelet on Kyuhyun’s left wrist. In order to cover the burns completely, he had to nudge the bracelet away from Kyuhyun’s hand, causing the chain to slide slightly, revealing a thin plate in the bracelet. When he was done, he hopped off the desk and walked over to a side table to grab a tissue.
“That’s a nice bracelet,” Mijoon commented lightly as he began to wipe the ointment from his hands; “I’ve never seen you wear it.”
“I always do,” Kyuhyun admitted, “People don’t generally see it because of those damn suits I have to wear, but I’ve never taken it off.”
Mijoon froze in his steps, simply staring at Kyuhyun through the darkness, “Oh? Is it that important to you?”
“No,” Kyuhyun shrugged, “At least… I don’t think so. I don’t really think about it,” he answered then, “It’s simply been… there for the past three years.”
“Is there something on the plate or did you keep it plain?” Mijoon asked,
“There’s an engraving in it, but I can’t read it,” Kyuhyun said, “I think it’s Chinese or something. Do you read?”
“A little,” Mijoon said tentatively as he approached the desk.
He turned the lamp on the corner of Kyuhyun’s desk on its lowest setting. Slipping onto the edge of the desk again, he held out his hands for Kyuhyun’s. The younger man held out his left hand to him and Mijoon carefully manipulated the bracelet so he could see the plate in the dim lamp light without touching the other’s burns.
“Well, from what I can make out in this horrible light,” Mijoon tilted the tiny plate this way and that, trying to get each small groove to catch some of the lamp’s rays; “It says ‘zhou mi’.” He allowed Kyuhyun’s hand to go as he lowered his own hands to his lap, “At least, I think that’s right.”
Kyuhyun held his wrist up so his bracelet was at eye level. He didn’t know why, but hearing those words sent a sensation wash over him. It felt like cool water, refreshing and quenching. It felt like a spring breeze, light and warm. It felt, for one, brief moment, that everything was okay; that life was okay; that he wasn’t dying.
“It is,” Kyuhyun affirmed, his voice barely above a whisper as if speaking any louder would break some kind of spell, destroy whatever it was that had wrapped around him, flowed through him and filled him. He looked up at Mijoon in the pale, yellow light, “It sounds right… It sounds right.”
All sensation and feeling left Kyuhyun then. All he could feel was the warm, firm lips pressed against his own. All he could feel was the intense shock of what was happening and who was doing it. All he could think of was that this was Mijoon. This was his assistant, the man who had been there for a year. The man who had helped him, watched out for him and kept him sane in a world that seemed to be going crazy. The man who helped him feel steady and stable in a life that was precariously tottering on the edge.
In that moment, all he knew was Mijoon and the words on his bracelet were forgotten.
He's my best friend,
the one who is through thick and thin,
the one who is through fire and high water.
He's my best friend,
The best friend.
And I miss him.
(4th Cycle: Scripted Setting)
A/N: Yes, I do write all those lyrics. They can be found under 'Songs' at the top. & cookies to the person who figures out the meaning of those lyrics.