(5th Cycle of the Mourning Song series.)
5th Cycle: Distant Closeness
I looked into your eyes today
and gone was the light,
gone was the spark
I loved so much.
And I wish for words to say,
wish for things to do
to bring it all back.
Sunday; Third week of October 20XX; After midnight
They had no warning at all when both double doors opened into a brightly lit office. Despite the late hour, all the lights in the large office were on, proudly displaying the books covering the walls and reflecting off the floor-to-ceiling windows. Behind a large desk, sitting in a large chair was the Headmaster of Shim Jang Academy. His slacks, waistcoat and shirt were all pristine-white; even his jacket which hung on the back of his chair was as white as snow. His dark brown hair was cut to just a few inches long, but his bangs were swept back by the placement of his glasses atop his head.
“A knock would go a long way to preventing a heart attack,” he said, just the slightest of admonishes in his tone as the left corner of his mouth dimpled.
“And I would appreciate it if you didn’t give the Headmaster a heart attack,” a second man, younger but more solid, more muscular and filled-out than the Headmaster. He sat in one of the chairs before the Headmaster’s desk dressed in black slacks and white button-up. With his dark, cold gaze and shaved head, none would suspect that the man was the Deputy Headmaster of Shim Jang Academy.
“Sorry, sorry,” Taeyeon waved their teasing words away as she strode across the office towards them, turning her wide eyes to the third man present in the office, “Were you the one who got a concert ticket and backstage pass to Kyuhyun?”
The third man, sitting in the other chair before the Headmaster’s desk, slowly, gracefully stood from his seat in a silent offer for her to sit down. When she waved his offer away in an impatient sign to get him to answer faster, he slightly nodded his head, “Yes, it was me.”
“Why?” Taeyeon charged at him, gripping the front of his shirt tightly as she glared up at him.
“Sweetheart,” Sungmin said quietly as he tried to pull her back,
“No, I want to know why after all these years the plans have changed suddenly!” Taeyeon exclaimed angrily,
“Because, it’s all we have,” he replied simply, quietly, not affected at all at her sudden pounce, “We can’t keep putting the entire burden on Sungmin and Heechul. We have to try other things. As you’ve noted, it’s already been years with no progress.”
Slowly, Taeyeon released her grip on his shirt, allowing Sungmin to pull her back. She turned her back on them as she paced away to recollect her thoughts, to regain control of her feelings. Hands fisted at her side, she chewed on her bottom lip furiously in an attempt to stop from crying out. In the calm, slow way he had answered her had shook her like no other. Why was she being so affected after three years?
She could still remember the dark days following Kyuhyun’s amnesia. He looked at her as if she was a stranger and she couldn’t help but feel he was a stranger, too. In those moments when she reconciled to the thought that he really didn’t know who she was, she felt her entire universe shift center and begin to crumble upon itself. She felt the pain of years of memories suddenly disintegrating into dust as if they never happened. She felt as if every smile, every tear, every word had all been in vain.
But that had been three years ago. That had been when she was younger, naïve and innocent. Surely now that she was an adult in the world she would be stronger? Whatever resolve she had built over the years had disappeared the moment she saw Kyuhyun’s face and heard his voice. Whatever strength she had gained had seeped away the moment she held him in her arms again. If she was so affected, why weren’t the rest of them?
She turned into Sungmin’s embrace and allowed him to simply hold her as she recomposed herself.
“So what’s this new plan?” The Deputy Headmaster inquired from his chair,
“Nothing has worked to this point,” the man said as he turned to face them, leaning his hips back against the Headmaster’s desk, “For three years we have kept away, scared we would chase him away with such fantastical truths. Sungmin and Heechul have worked so hard for too long and it isn’t fair. The new plan is that we stop hiding from Kyuhyun.”
“So we’re going to approach him?” Sungmin questioned,
He nodded, “More or less, yes. One at a time so as not to overwhelm him but, also, in a way where we’re not giving him the truth flat out. We present him bits and pieces of ourselves in an attempt to jar his memory.”
“It’s so simple and we were always scared of having him think we’re crazy… but in such a subtle way, could it work?” The Deputy Headmaster glanced at Sungmin,
“Quite possible… It’s hard to say considering his amnesia isn’t caused by normal occurrences but, at this point, I’m willing to try anything,” Sungmin sighed, running both hands through his hair, “So, who’s next? Kyuri?”
“She’s already seen him,” The other man explained, “Kibum was the one who brought this idea to me. Apparently, Kyuhyun met their son also.”
“Wait, how did you get a concert ticket and pass for Taeyeon’s concert to Kyuhyun?” The Deputy Headmaster questioned, “It’s not like you could walk up to him and say ‘Hey, have a free ticket and backstage pass to this sold out concert, but forget you ever saw me’.”
“You thought about that too much,” Sungmin muttered causing the Deputy Headmaster to grin and shrug.
Suddenly, Taeyeon spun back around to face them. Eyes wide, she stared at the other man. She wasn’t the only one – knew she couldn’t be, but now knew for sure. He was affect also, just as he should be, just as they all would be, secretly. She took a few steps towards him, pausing until he noticed her approach and looked at her, gazes locked. For a pregnant moment, she just stared at him, trying to read his expression, trying to glean anything from his dark eyes.
“He said he got the ticket from a friend –”
“You actually walked up to him!?” The Deputy Headmaster gaped,
He rolled his eyes, “No, but it’s not like I spend my time at home watching the clock and keeping house. I do my own research and what not. The Jo family relocated to Seoul one year ago – yes, I know,” he glanced at Sungmin and Taeyeon, “Almost immediately, Kyuhyun’s father hired a new company employee with a specific job and one specific requirement. They were to be Kyuhyun’s personal assistant and they had to be completely available for on-call work at night.”
“How does he know all this?” The Deputy Headmaster whispered to Sungmin,
“Shh! I want to know what he knows,” Sungmin waved him away, taking the seat the man had vacated,
“This assistant, Choi Mijoon, has become Kyuhyun’s constant companion at work. It is a common remark that the Young Master of Jo Shipping Company – as Kyuhyun is formally known – is rarely seen without Choi-sshi acting as his shadow,” the man continued, “It was a simple thing to hand over such things to the assistant, knowing he would pass it on to Kyuhyun because he would not want it for himself.”
“Oh, my God,” Taeyeon gasped quietly, her hand flying to her mouth, trying to physically hold in any more exclamations. The four men looked at her in silent question, but her eyes stayed on the other man, eyes wide and burning, “This… this assistant, is he Kyuhyun’s only know associate?”
“He has no other,” the man inclined his head slightly,
“He told me… he told me that…” Taeyeon looked at the others and turned away, refusing to say more, refusing to bring more pain to anyone.
“It’s okay,” he said quietly, “I know already.”
“Know what?” Sungmin questioned,
“This assistant may mean more to Kyuhyun than just another employee,” he answered, his voice soft, low and horribly, horribly empty.
“I’m… I’m so sorry,” Taeyeon managed, turning to look at him again, barely able to contain the empathetic pain from just imagining what would happen if Sungmin loved another. Her heart turned over and clenched painfully at just the thought. Suddenly, all her previous animosity towards the man melted away, empathetic towards what he surely must be feeling at that moment.
“I’m not,” he said with his lips pulled in a smile despite his tone still cool and hollow as a dark cave. Slowly, the smile reached his eyes, “If he is able to fall in love again then not all was lost when his memory was taken.”
He said it with as much honesty as possible, but it hurt him more than they could know. His heart felt as if it had turned over and withered. He had felt empty for so long, but saying the words, acknowledging it made it seem too much, too real, too final. He heard his name and only wished it was a different person, a different voice saying it.
He looked up at Taeyeon in silent questioning.
“But if the person he falls in love with isn’t you… it’s just… it’s not –”
“It’s okay. When he gets his memory back, he’ll remember me and what we had,” Zhou Mi said simply, his words flimsy, not even attempting to add false hope to his tone. He shook his head, pushing away from the Headmaster’s desk, “I can’t be selfish and think about myself.”
“You spent three years separated from him, you’re allowed to be selfish,” Taeyeon insisted, taking a step towards him, “You had to pretend you were dead so the Council wouldn’t hunt you. You had to pretend you were dead so the Council could leave Kyuhyun alone. You had to pretend you were dead and because of that Kyuhyun left without you being able to –”
“Taeyeon!” Sungmin reprimanded,
Taeyeon blinked at him as if pulled from a trance, a dark, downward spiral that was pulling her into her darker, sadder emotions. She looked back at Zhou Mi who had been too quiet, too still during her tirade, “I… I’m so –”
“His memory comes first,” Zhou Mi said quietly as he began to walk away from them.
He said the words like a mantra, like a reminder to either the others or himself, he was no longer sure. He was positive that he was still trying to convince himself of such a thing, but always – always – he put Kyuhyun first. When he recovered from the transition the first thing he wanted to do was be with Kyuhyun. However, that was impossible with the Council around Shim Jang Academy. That first year after the incident had been dedicated to convincing the Council he was dead and that Kyuhyun was no longer a threat now that his memory was gone. The next year was dedicated to finding Kyuhyun again. When he finally did, he was overcome with a selfish need to tell Kyuhyun all and keep him close. However, he couldn’t.
His memory comes first.
Zhou Mi paused when he was anti-parallel to Taeyeon, shoulder to shoulder; “I apologize for any pain you felt having met Kyuhyun like that but for the moment to be right, you couldn’t know… your reaction had to be real.”
“Zhou Mi –” Taeyeon stammered,
“Excuse me, it’s late and I still haven’t eaten yet,” Zhou Mi continued on to the doors.
He knew that was an affective way to have them leave him alone. No one questioned him on his nightly activities, no one questioned him on how he found nourishment. Despite knowing one another for years, he knew they would rather not know where and from whom he fed. Not even the Deputy Headmaster, who had been there with him during the transition, helping him the first year, crossed the boundaries of their formed bond by asking him where he found each meal. They all knew he lost his colours years ago.
“I didn’t… I… I didn’t mean to,” Taeyeon stuttered, looking at the others helplessly as she began to fumble with the chain around her neck, “I just… he’s allowed to be selfish! He’s allowed to want the person he loves!”
Sungmin stood fluidly and immediately pulled Taeyeon into his arms, “We know, Sweetheart, we know… it’s been three years and we all still have problems mentioning Kyuhyun around Zhou Mi.”
“You’re not the only one thinking that,” the Deputy Headmaster insisted.
“We’re going to go home,” Sungmin announced as he began to lead Taeyeon away, “She just finished a concert and she has another one tomorrow.”
“I… I’m sorry for bursting in here on you, Headmaster,” Taeyeon murmured, calling over Sungmin’s shoulder,
“It’s fine,” the Headmaster insisted, “And Taeyeon, I’m not your headmaster anymore.”
The Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster were silent as the pair left, the double doors closing quietly and firmly after them.
“That’s the first thing you’ve said in almost twenty minutes,” the Deputy stated, leaning back in his seat and staring across the desk at the older man, light bouncing off the polished wood surface. “Why, Eeteuk?”
“It’s taken three years for Zhou Mi and the others to realize the answer to the entire situation was to just be honest with Kyuhyun,” the Headmaster stated, a hard edge to his voice as he stood from the chair and busied himself with picking up his jacket from the back of the chair and putting it on; “Something I have been ruminating over for years and years and it has taken this long for people to understand that the truth is the only way to make things right.”
“Kyuhyun completely believes whatever lie his parents have been telling him,” the Deputy argued, his tone even, his expression calm; “It doesn’t help that you went along with it when he left here.”
“Regardless of what everyone thinks, I did what was right. Regardless of what he thought or what Kyuri thought or what everyone thought – his parents were still there for him,” Eeteuk stated angrily, finally looking up at the Deputy, “Regardless of how much the others hate me for it, I did what was right and I hate myself everyday for lying to him those first few days! I hate myself for it because he – above all others – does not deserve to live a lie!”
Eeteuk watched as understanding lit the other’s eyes. He swallowed hard and dropped his gaze, suddenly too preoccupied with buttoning the front of his white blazer and pulling his glasses from his head and placing them on his nose. He was trying so hard to regain his self-control, so perfectly practiced and used day after day, year after year. He refused to lose control of his emotions, to show more beyond his surface. He refused to show anyone that he cared about anything.
He was so preoccupied, he didn’t hear the heavy footsteps that came around the desk and stopped beside him. He had no awareness whatsoever until a strong hand captured his face, fingers cupping the right side of his jaw and a thumb along the left. He found himself forced to look into the dark eyes of the Deputy,
“I had a feeling you weren’t just talking about Kyuhyun, but that pretty much confirmed it,” he said smoothly, eyes narrowing ever so slightly – in concentration, consideration or anger, Eeteuk didn’t know. “I’m here, Eeteuk. I have been here for three years. Even when you thought I wasn’t, I was still here watching over you.”
“That’s not the same and you know it,” Eeteuk hissed angrily,
“I do know it and I apologized. I have apologized and apologized over and over again,” Kangin stated evenly, his hold on Eeteuk’s jaw increasing ever so slightly, “You know I love you, Eeteuk and you tell me that you love me, but –”
“I do!” Eeteuk exclaimed, both hands grabbing Kangin’s arm that was raised towards him, his fingers digging deep, anchoring.
“But you can’t have love without trust,” Kangin finished as if Eeteuk hadn’t interrupted him.
His gaze swept over Eeteuk’s face as he sighed heavily, his thumb stroking the spot where Eeteuk’s dimple was located. He leaned forward and brushed his lips against the Headmaster’s forehead. Releasing Eeteuk’s jaw, he easily shook off the older man’s hold on him, turned and headed towards the double doors rather than the single door at the side of the office, which led to the rooms they shared.
“W-Where are you going!?” Eeteuk demanded, palms slamming on the desk’s surface, “You haven’t fed today yet!”
Kangin shook his head as he continued to the doors, “And still you don’t trust me… after everything I just said, do you really think I have an appetite at all?”
“Please, Kangin… stay.”
Kangin whirled around. It wasn’t the words, but the tone, so sad, so hoarse, so… desperate. Had it truly gotten to that point? Had he truly pushed Eeteuk to that state? He wanted to prove something, wanted Eeteuk to stop distrusting him, wanted the ability to change the past. Somewhere in his anger, he had hurt Eeteuk. He didn’t mean it, but he had spent three years repenting for his actions, had spent three years playing the perfect, doting lover. He was tired of doing penance, of constantly returning to purgatory, of being perfect. He knew he wasn’t perfect and he wished Eeteuk would love him despite his flaws.
He sighed heavily, leaning his back against one of the doors, “Go to the room, Eeteuk.”
“Where… where are you… no, please, Kangin –”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Kangin stated slowly, his words controlled, even, soothing, “Go to the room and I’ll follow you afterwards.”
Eeteuk looked at him in alarm and, despite being metres apart, Kangin could see the tears streaking down the Headmaster’s face.
“You need time to get a hold of yourself and I need time to cool off. We need time apart but this is as far apart as we’re going to get,” Kangin continued in that same, slow, walking-on-eggshell voice; “So go to the room and I’ll follow you afterwards.”
“Kangin… I… I’m trying,” Eeteuk insisted, his voice strangled, “I’ve been trying all these years and… and I’ll keep trying. I’m trying, I swear I am.”
“I know,” he replied simply, not allowing any of his more passionate emotions to colour his tone.
“I love you, Kangin, I do!” Eeteuk exclaimed across the large office,
“Maybe you will again,” Kangin said softly. He leaned his head back against the door, tilted his face to the ceiling and closed his eyes, “Go to the room, Eeteuk.”
Kangin’s tone was final. Eeteuk was dismissed.
Kangin slept in the office. Eeteuk slept in their bed.
Neither slept at all the entire night.
Today I lost you,
lost the laugh that made me smile,
and the hand that held on tight,
and the words that were always just right.
Can today just begin again?
I tried to hold your hand today,
but your hand, your eyes, your voice
was all too cold.
And I wish for words to say,
wish for things to do
to bring it all back.
Third week of October 20XX
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!” She slammed a firm, flat palm onto the desk. She ripped the headset from her head and tossed it haphazardly, “I deliberately stated to cease! I TOLD YOU AT NO COST WERE YOU TO ATTACK TO KILL!”
“She was a vampire and I am a Hunter. Ergo, it is my job to kill the vampire,” the young man who entered the room full of computers and people in suits shrugged. He ran a hand through his hair as a rag-tag group of young Hunters followed him into the command room.
“No, you are a Hunter and I am the Head Tactician. And when I am requested by a Council Member to lead a mission you not only follow my tactics, but you listen to every damn word I say!” Kyuri grounded out, eyes narrowed as her hand fisted atop the desk,
The other Hunters had stopped in their tracks at Kyuri’s cold, slightly raised voice. Since they had entered the Council, they hadn’t once heard the Head Tactician’s voice rise above a monotone, never seen her facial expression grow more than a flat affect. She was known for her iron fist and calm and collected attitude. The others in the command room who were stationed at the different computers around the room also seemed to still. The Council Member who had requested that Kyuri head the mission was sitting at a central desk near the back of the room in view of all the large screens on the walls. He sat in his chair, leaning back, arms crossed and eyes silently observing; waiting to see what the Head Tactician would do.
“We have a code, we kill vampires,” the Hunter defended,
“You listen to my orders,” Kyuri countered. When the Hunter opened his mouth again to argue, Kyuri closed the distance between them in record time, her fingers curling into his collar, “You go on a handful of missions and you suddenly think you’re some hot-shot? You think you’re tough shit all of a sudden?” Her grip tightened on her hold, eyes glinted dangerously, “You don’t know anything until you’ve had your entire body covered in blood, until you’ve broken every bone in your body at least once, until you’ve gotten close to dying a hundred times.”
“I have –”
“Not even begun,” she finished, her voice lowering to a deathly tone, “The amount of vampires you have killed in one month I have done so in one week when I was fifteen.”
“You’re a tactician –”
“I was a Hunter from the age of fourteen. The age you were when you were applying to be a Hunter, I was already a Head Hunter,” Kyuri hissed, “You underestimate the enemy and you could end up dead. You underestimate me and no one will know what happened to you.”
The door to the command room opened. A Hunter dressed in dark blue jeans and a black fitted t-shirt entered with a kid in each arm, disregarding all the silence and the tense situation before him. He walked up until he was a metre away from the Tactician and Hunter, “You know I don’t mind watching your kids from time to time, but they’re asleep and I have a mission to go on.”
Not moving an inch, Kyuri questioned, “Head Hunter Lee, remind me why I shouldn’t cure this Council of this incompetent, ignorant, arrogant fool.”
“Because I have my arms full and am unable to physically restrain you and that means you wouldn’t be challenged at all?” Head Hunter Lee Eunhyuk offered,
“How about you’d be fired so fast –”
“They’d never fire her,” Head Hunter Lee rolled his eyes exasperatedly, “Do you not understand the title Head Tactician? Are you aware that in China, Japan and Korea, we’re the only ones who have such a title? Aish, just kill him if you’re going to, I have a mission to start!”
“Your mission should only take thirty-seven minutes if you and your team do it right. That means you have more than enough time to take a break and talk with me,” Kyuri said simply, her tone and expression easing even as her grip did not.
“What are you getting so worked up for? It was a vampire!” The Hunter exclaimed as if he had a right to be frustrated,
“That vampire was a boy of eight-years-old!” Kyuri snapped, her hand easily shifting from collar to neck, her thumb and middle finger pressing knowingly on both carotid arteries in the Hunter’s neck, “With one small twitch of my hand I can kill you as effectively as cutting someone’s throat. With one clench of my hand I can make your trachea collapse on itself and I promise you, no one will be able to save you in time.”
The Head Hunter glanced around at all the scared faces in the room, both the other council workers and Hunters. He glanced at the Council Member who merely watched on with an amused expression. He rolled his eyes as he shifted his weight, accommodating the two children in both arms, “Kyuri, are you done with your fun?”
“Who says I’m kidding?” Kyuri asked coolly, raising a single brow at the Hunter rather than the Head Hunter.
“Because if that idiot’s trachea collapses because he annoyed you to it, you, me, and Council Member Han all know you’d be the first one to do a tracheotomy, albeit reluctantly,” He sighed heavily, “Seriously, I want to go home early today!”
“Trache…trache… tracheotomy!?” The Hunter exclaimed, his voice escalating to high-pitched tones, “You can’t be serious! She can’t be serious!”
Kyuri smacked the Hunter upside the side of his head as she released his neck and walked over to the Head Hunter, “Be quiet before you wake up my children.”
“What kind of person brings their kids –”
“Now you’re worried about children?” Kyuri questioned, spinning on her heel and glaring at the Hunter who was rubbing the front of his sore neck, “I want a ten page report on what happened on the field tonight, an additional ten page report on why you thought it necessary to kill that child and another fifteen pages on why I shouldn’t have you removed from the Council.” She easily took one of the children from the Head Hunter to ease his load, “Please help me bring them back to my office, Head Hunter Lee.”
Shifting her sleeping daughter to her hip, Kyuri headed to the door out of the command room, the rookie Hunters parting like the red sea for her. She paused at the door, turning back to sweep her gaze over the young Hunters, “What? You think that idiot’s the only one who has this assignment? I didn’t hear any of you trying to stop him or dissuade him. I didn’t hear any of you to take the initiative to think for yourselves. That’s thirty-five pages from all of you.” She turned back to the door and opened it. She paused once more, looking over her shoulder at them, “One more thing, I want to get home in time to cook dinner for my husband. I suggest if you want a chance to remain in the Council you have those reports done to me before I leave.”
“But… but ma’am,” one of the Hunters stammered, “It’s… it’s four in the afternoon already. What time will you be leaving!?”
“Hmm…” Kyuri slowly regained her schooled expression and cold, flat tone, “Four already? Well, dinner is usually at six and I do like to give myself at least an hour to prepare and cook it. Also, I have the children with me so I don’t want to rush home since we’ll be walking. It seems you have thirty minutes.” She blinked darkly glinting eyes at them, “And, no, I’m not kidding.”
She turned and left, Head Hunter Lee dutifully following her.
“Sir!” All the Hunters suddenly turned to the Council Member still sitting at the central desks. Even the other workers stalled in continuing their work just to see the rest of the scene play out before them.
Council Member Han raised a curious brow at them, “Yes?”
“Thirty minutes to do a thirty-five page report! You have to do something, please!” One Hunter begged,
“Thirty-five pages in thirty minutes is difficult,” Hankyung conceded thoughtfully. He saw the light of relief enter their eyes before saying simply, “I guess you’ll have to start now to get it in by four-thirty, hmm?”
“SIR!” They all begged,
Hankyung suddenly stood from his chair, eyes narrowed dangerously at the rookie group, “That turned vampire was a child! A child! You know what my teachings and policies are, you knew what the objectives of this mission were and yet you all disregarded it. Why? Did you want another knot in your belt for killing another vampire?” His face contorted into undisguised anger, “You didn’t kill a vampire tonight – you murdered a child!”
He crossed his arms over his chest, glaring down at the suddenly-pale faces, “You’re lucky you’re even getting a chance to save your sorry jobs because if it were up to me none of you would be able to see the light of day.” He shoved his chair in so forcefully they thought the wooden chair would splinter and break immediately. He turned his eyes to the workers, “There are no cameras, and this isn’t some day-time drama, get back to your jobs.” He turned sharply and head to the door, ripping it open, “And you sorry lot should try to keep your jobs. Or perhaps it’s better for humanity that you all lose it.”
With that, the door slammed loudly behind Council Member Han and the command room was doused in silence.
When Kyuri reached her office, she paused for half a heartbeat before continuing in and laying her daughter on the couch in her office, directing the Head Hunter to do the same.
“Is this how you work out? Carrying my children around the Council Headquarters?”
The Head Hunter bowed slightly to the man sitting at Kyuri’s desk, “No, no, Kibum-sshi,” he insisted, “But I saved Kyuri-sshi from killing a stupid rookie Hunter.” Head Hunter Lee ignored the direct glare from Kyuri and waved a hand as he walked out the door, “I have a mission to finish in thirty-seven minutes, bye!”
“Wife of mine…” Kibum called from the desk,
“He deserved it!” Kyuri defended as she turned towards him, staring at him from across the office, “And why are you here?”
“I didn’t want to spend my afternoon marking exams, so after lunch I came here to pick you up,” Kibum explained. He held out a hand to her and waited patiently as she slowly, grudgingly crossed the office floor to his side, allowing him to pull her onto his knee, “You, my love, are still angry. Do I have to get rid of a rookie?”
Kyuri laughed softly as she turned towards him, leaning her cheek against his shoulder, “No, I think I scared them enough.”
“More than one? I should have come earlier to protect my wife,” Kibum stated monotonously even as he took her hand into his,
Kyuri laughed even more as she sat up straight and looked at him, “It seems strange when you’re like this and your voice and expression don’t change!”
“Love, I honestly am worried,” Kibum stated,
“I can handle rookie Hunters no problem,” Kyuri insisted with a wave her hand,
“Not that,” Kibum glanced towards the sleeping twins before looking back at her, “You think I didn’t notice? After all these years you think I wouldn’t know?”
“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” Kyuri sighed, immediately understanding him, “It just… happens and by then I… I can’t just switch because it’s like… it’s like admitting how horrible of a mother I am.”
“I wish you told me,” Kibum stated quietly, as he slid his arms around her and pulled her closer, more firmly against him, “We could have resolved this years ago.”
“I don’t… I don’t know if it can be,” Kyuri murmured quietly, sinking against his warm strength, “He just… he looks like Kyuhyun so much and… and sometimes it just hurts when I look at him and he smiles at me and…” She turned her face into Kibum’s neck as she began to cry.
Kibum held her more securely in the circle of his arms, turning his head slightly until his cheek kissed her forehead, “Darling…”
“I… I can’t… what kind of mother am I?” Kyuri cried into his neck, “What kind when I have problems holding my own son? When I hesitate to pick him up and… and I’m scared that we’ll have another son and… and I’ll still be this horrible mother and –”
“Shh… it’s okay,” Kibum whispered quietly, soothingly as he gently, slightly rocked her in his embrace. “We’ll work through this together.”
“I should have been there, Kibum… That night, I should have been there helping him, protecting him,” Kyuri sobbed, clinging to him tightly, “I should have been there… I could have saved him… I could have saved him.”
Kibum said nothing, simply held her tighter, more securely. He could say nothing because if he did, it would have been a lie. Between the two of them, even if he was stronger, Kyuri was faster and her mind worked out tactics quicker. If she had been there that night, Kyuhyun wouldn’t have lost his memory and Zhou Mi wouldn’t have had to fake his death.
Today I lost you,
lost the warmth from my life
and all the could and would be's
for you and me.
Can today just begin again?
We used to smile together,
embrace when we were sad together.
What can I do
to bring it all back?
Today I lost you,
lost the laugh that made me smile
and the hand that held on tight
and the words that were always just right.
Can today just begin again?
A few days later; a different part of Seoul
Dressed in charcoal-coloured slacks and a pristine, white button-up, Kyuhyun pushed away from the table, dropping his napkin onto his empty plate. Sometimes he wondered why he even came down to breakfast and sat with his mother as if he could eat with her. He would get as far as a bite of toast before his stomach would rebel. That morning, he had refused all food altogether and simply sat and sipped his glass of water. The meal was quiet, as usual, but he sensed something different in his mother. She was silent, slowly making her way through her breakfast. Her posture was straight and stiff, her expression was calm, serene.
Before he realized it, Kyuhyun made his way to his mother’s place at the table, leaned down and brushed a kiss to her cheek. When he straightened, his mother grabbed his hand, stopping him from leaving. He looked down at her eyes, at the wonder, the confusion passing through the dark orbs. At the touch of her hand, Kyuhyun saw flashes of his childhood that he didn’t remember. One memory stood out to him, however.
He stood in the doorway of what looked to be a classroom. Across from him, standing at a window was another man. Subdued and reserved in appearance, the man had his hands clasped behind him as he gazed out the window. Words were exchanged, but Kyuhyun couldn’t hear them, could only feel his lips moving. He turned to leave far too early, wanting to see the man’s face, feeling as if he had stepped into a memory half-way. His hand on the doorframe, Kyuhyun saw it then, a hand not his own. Smaller, slender and slightly shaking against the wood. When he slipped into the hallway, he caught sight of his reflection in the window and his suspicions were confirmed.
Subtly pulling his hand away from his mother’s grasp, he slightly bowed his head, “I should leave before I’m late for work,” he murmured, slowly slipping back into the present. He glanced at his mother’s hand, slowly returning to her lap, the same hand he had seen in the memory.
As he walked towards the door, he contemplated what has passed through his mind. He remembered the first time he realized he could read others’ thoughts; see what they saw at just the touch of a hand. He felt an intruder, invasive and avoided physical contact at all costs. It had been so long since he had touched his mother that he was sure this was the first time he had ever seen into her mind, her memories. Before, when he had felt nothing, after being in her mind for a brief moment, he felt sadness – her sadness.
She was far more pensive than he had ever thought, far sadder than he ever thought. He wasn’t sure why, but through his own frustrations, irritations and temperament, he had never thought to consider how his mother felt as his abrupt and distant attitude towards her. He paused before the door and looked around the large dining room, brightly lit by two chandeliers as all the tall windows were completely covered, not a single ray of sunlight allowed to penetrate into the room.
Why hadn’t he noticed it before? Why hadn’t he noticed the slight change in lighting whenever he deigned to join his mother? He would see the servants scrambling about in his peripheries, but he never stopped to contemplate that they were closing the curtains for his benefit and turning on the lights. He never stopped to contemplate that he had forsaken his mother her natural sunlight every meal they ate together. What else had he taken from her during their brief moments together? When all was said and done, she was still his mother.
“Mother,” Kyuhyun called tentatively, not looking back, not allowing his thoughts to be revealed by tone,
“Yes?” She answered calmly, and yet, Kyuhyun knew the air changed, knew she had tensed again, waiting, nervous.
“Are you happy?” Kyuhyun asked simply, his tone even, causal, lacking all sarcasm.
“Of… of course I am,” she stammered, the sound of her shifting telling him she had turned in her seat to look at his back, “Why ever would you ask such a thing?”
“Because…” Your eyes are sad, he thought, never daring to say the words aloud; “You have a sick son who is at death’s door every day.” He chuckled softly, “I cannot even go a few minutes in the sun without having an allergic reaction.”
“Regardless if you are healthy or sick, Kyuhyun, you are my son and that makes me happy – having you,” She stated, her voice quiet yet strong.
Had he imagined the slight quiver in her words? Had he imagined hearing the regret saturating each tone? Why would she say something but feel another? Damn, he wished he was still holding her hand so he could have some insight into his mother’s thoughts.
“Do you… ever wish you had another child, though?” Kyuhyun pressed tentatively; “A daughter perhaps to turn into your own little princess?”
His mother often drifted into bouts of silence and, usually, he didn’t think anything of it. Indeed, he often took it as his chance to escape her company. This time, however, he found it peculiar, interesting. She was thinking it over and, for once, Kyuhyun had a suspicion as to what she was thinking over.
He recalled that day three weeks ago perfectly. He remembered the words he had heard through the parlour door, remembered seeing the little boy who reminded him so much of someone and remembered the young lady who was the mother of the boy, who looked at him so peculiarly, so expectantly. He had gone over the event in his mind time and time again. Finally, he had his chance to address it.
“Whatever I may wish, my chances of having a daughter were destroyed years ago by your father’s idiocy and my foolishness,” his mother said finally.
Kyuhyun slowly looked back over his shoulder at her. Whatever words, excuses, he expected from his mother, those weren’t them. A confession of sorts? What happened? What had his parents done and, was that young lady who he thought she was? Truly?
“What do you mean?” Kyuhyun questioned bluntly,
“We didn’t take proper care of K…” His mother cleared her throat and turned properly in her chair, seemingly continuing her breakfast, “Your father and I have much to atone for and now we’re both too old to even consider having another child.”
“That’s all?” Kyuhyun gently prompted, wanting his mother to open up again as she momentarily had,
“That’s all,” she said simply, a quiet finality in her tone.
She had shut down, gathered all her defences around her and Kyuhyun knew there was getting no answers from her at that moment.
Kyuhyun moved through the house in almost a trance, contemplating over the moment he just had with his mother. He was heading over to the front door, absent-mindedly taking his coat from the butler. He had his hand on the doorknob when he paused and leaned his forehead on the door.
“Young Master?” The butler quietly inquired, silently dismissing nearby servants with the barest of a wave of his hand.
He had been with the family since they first moved to that house over twenty years ago and Kyuhyun was just a baby. Four years ago when the family had switched residences, what he missed most was watching over the boy who became the young man. When they finally moved back to the house a year ago, he was secretly overjoyed again to be serving the Young Master, devastated to learn how sick he now was.
“I’m fine,” Kyuhyun straightened, “Is the car outside?”
“Waiting and ready,” the head butler answered, “Perhaps taking some medication will strengthen your constitution prior to working?”
“It’s okay. Once I get working and drink some tea, I’ll feel better,” Kyuhyun insisted as he opened the door.
He stepped onto the front porch and, from the shadows, wearily eyed the sun and the passively drifting clouds. He glanced to the car, which was parked at the bottom of the steps and was distantly surprised when Mijoon stepped out from the back seat and stood by the open door, waiting for him. Kyuhyun walked briskly to limit his exposure to the cruel sun. His heart beat frantically, his face felt warm and he wasn’t sure if it was because of the man before him or of the threatening sun.
He was at the top of the stairs before his world shook, rocked and tipped over. His eyes fluttered shut as he felt the feeling of falling. He could hear his name, distantly anticipated the hard impact of cement stairs and cold ground but all he felt were solid, warm arms around him and a strong body catching his own.
For reasons unbeknownst to him, he began to try to remember vainly the words carved into his bracelet. The worlds eluded him, teasing the tip of his tongue, brushing warmly against his memory. Before he could grab them, hold them to him and remember, they slipped away like imaginary wisps of smoke.
His last thought before he completely drifted into unconsciousness was “Mijoon”.
Can today just begin again?
Can today just begin again?
Let's go back to yesterday.
(6th Cycle: Forgotten Reflection)