(8th Cycle of the Mourning Song series.)
8th Cycle: Replacement
It was a perfect winter night.
The moon was full and we were
surrounded by stars.
In a crowded room,
you were all I saw,
the only one who mattered.
The next day, First Week of November 20XX
It was another early morning at the office. The sky had been a beautiful, pale, clear blue when he had left the house. The sun had still been low in the sky, rays like pale, golden flames slowly stretching and stretching to the heavens. The wind was scarce, but the air was chilled all on its own, hinting that winter was only around the corner. Kyuhyun had taken one look at the sky and knew it could prove to be dangerous once the sun was at its highest point.
In his windowless office, Kyuhyun sat in his chair, the photograph in his hand. His hand lay on his desk, the photo tilted up just enough for him to see clearly. His eyes swept over the three children, taking in every detail, instinct telling him it important he do so. The boy on the very had a small smile, but his fox-like eyes danced with bursting amusement, as if he knew a secret that the photographer didn't know. Perhaps, however, the other children knew the secret. The girl on the very right had a smile as bright as the sun to which Kyuhyun was allergic. He wondered if her smile brought instant happiness to those around her. He knew if someone in his life smiled like that, he would never fear death. The final boy, the one who stood in between the other two children, looked so familiar to Kyuhyun that he was silently scolding himself for not knowing why.
"I feel like I've seen him recently," Kyuhyun murmured as he placed the photo on the desk, close to the edge so he could still look down upon it. Idly, he began to play with the bracelet on his left wrist; "He looks... he looks like Kyuri's son, Kyuki but... no, no... I've seen this kid recently. How can that be? Kyuri gave this to me and said I didn't know the whole truth... About what? About her?"
His thumb swiped over the engravement on his bracelet.
"But how could this photo be about her? I'm sure this isn't Kyuri in the photo," Kyuhyun sighed, "No... no, I'm positive this isn't her in the photo."
The door opened and Mijoon entered dressed in black slacks and a black, long-sleeved button-up.
"The meeting's scheduled to begin soon," Mijoon reminded, "Would you like some tea before the meeting?"
"No, but maybe during. Who knows how long this meeting will last," Kyuhyun instructed as he placed the photograph in his desk drawer and stood from his chair, "Is everyone already in the boardroom?"
"Yes, Young Master," Mijoon said as he opened the door for the younger man, "And I must admit, they all seem nervous."
"They should be. If they can impress me, they could be leading their project for the company," Kyuhyun said as he led the way to the boardroom. "I can't believe Father's letting me do this."
"You did ask to be the one to approve," Mijoon reminded lightly as he followed Kyuhyun, just a few steps behind him,
"I know, but I didn't expect him to agree," Kyuhyun admitted,
"Perhaps he was impressed that you even dared to ask such a thing. This project will be the main one for the company next year as we try to form a partnership with another major company," Mijoon said, "Maybe because it's the first time you've taken the initiative in work that he happily handed over the decision to you."
"Happily?" Kyuhyun raised a brow,
Mijoon chuckled, "Perhaps your father isn't the happy-type."
Kyuhyun paused outside of the boardroom door and glanced back at Mijoon, "Am I ready for this?" He asked quietly,
Mijoon's eyes widened slightly, "Kyuhyun," he murmured softly, "Regardless of what you may think, you have assimilated yourself into the company as the rightful heir. You've defended your title as the heir not just because you're your father's son, but because you can take over the company. You have planned and implemented many decisions which have helped this company thrive."
He glanced around and, when he saw no one else was nearby, Mijoon placed his hand on Kyuhyun's shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly, "If you weren't ready for this, if you couldn't handle this, your father would never have allowed you. He may not say it, but he believes you can do this and make the right choice. The fact that you're having this meeting right now proves that."
Kyuhyun inhaled deeply and nodded, "You're right. I can do this."
"And when all else fails, just know that I believe in you," Mijoon added softly as his hand fell away from the younger man's shoulder.
Kyuhyun's hand tightened around the doorknob for a moment and somehow managed a quiet, "Thank you," before he calmed himself, schooled his expression and strode into the boardroom.
The boardroom was another corner room, two walls made almost completely of glass windows. If he had forgotten this, he remembered instantly because the room was filled with bright, beautiful rays of sunlight. Kyuhyun was a metre into the room before he stopped dead in his tracks, frozen in his place. He had seen the sun before, had watched sunlight creep through a room as the sun moved in the sky. But never before had he seen so much direct sunlight and so brilliant in its shine. He was awed by the beauty before him that he momentarily forgot how to run away from the sun.
Suddenly, a shadow passed over him, wrapping him in a strong embrace, "GET THOSE SHADES CLOSED!" Mijoon barked as he shielded Kyuhyun as best he could with his own body.
Almost immediately, men and women were running around hurrying to get the shades over the windows and the electrical lights turned on. Once Mijoon was sure there was no more sunlight in the room, he released his hold on Kyuhyun and turned on the employees as they tentatively stood by their chairs, watching with concern.
"You all know the rules about when the Young Master is in attendance! None of you have any excuses for this negligence especially when you knew at what time the meeting started !" Mijoon scolded, his voice low but deadly, his words like a rapier slashing at them all.
Kyuhyun briefly touched Mijoon's arm as he walked towards his chair at the end of the table, "And now we're late. We will begin immediately. You all know why you're here. Let's begin."
As the first employee scrambled to get their presentation ready, Mijoon came to Kyuhyun's shoulder, "I'll go get your tea now. Do you require anything else?"
"Tea will be all," Kyuhyun said, not even bothering to look over his shoulder. He knew he had to project a strong facade to all who viewed him as the heir to the Jo Shipping Company. Especially after what had just occurred, he somehow had to show himself unruffled, unaffected and strong despite his weaknesses.
Mijoon gave a slight bow before turning and leaving. Kyuhyun stifled the urge to sigh and roll his eyes as he got comfortable in his chair. The employees would need to be able to impress him to gain his favour with their proposals. However, as past meetings went, he had a feeling this one would prove to be equally boring.
When the meeting drew to a close, Kyuhyun was pleasantly surprised to actually have to make a decision between proposals. Even more so, he was surprised that even one of the employees caught his attention, let alone two of them. He had just concluded the meeting and dismissed them when Mijoon, who had been silent the entire time - as usual - stepped forward to collect Kyuhyun's teacup, but then didn't retreat.
"All of you present here have received an official warning from the Young Master's father," Mijoon announced, his voice calm, even.
In that moment, he exuded a calm confidence that Kyuhyun had never acknowledged to be there. In that moment, he seemed like the competent, strong heir rather than the silent assistant who obediently followed all directives by the actual heir while always following in the shadows. He stood straight and proud even as he gathered the teacup and saucer from the boardroom table.
"You should all be grateful that you were not fired immediately," Mijoon said quietly, his voice like a threat.
"Choi-sshi, that's enough," Kyuhyun said quietly as he stood from his chair. "I will announce my decision in two-day's time."
He turned and left the boardroom, not even waiting to see if Mijoon was behind him. As he retreated to his office, he heard the soft, barely audible footsteps of his assistant close behind him. He entered his office and walked straight to his desk, sitting in the soft leather and slowly swung the chair so his back was to the rest of the room.
"Tea," Kyuhyun said simply, his words a command rather than a question,
He heard barely the sound of the china being laid on the side table or even the shushing of pouring liquid. He did, however, hear when the cup and saucer was placed on his desk. Kyuhyun knew the noise was deliberate. He also knew that the assistant had not walked away after setting his tea down. He could practically feel the heat off Mijoon's body radiating to him, warming him.
"I can't believe you told my father," Kyuhyun said carefully, his tone even,
"You could have died with all that sun exposure," Mijoon replied,
"I didn't even get a first-degree burn," Kyuhyun defended, "Although perhaps I singed a lock of hair."
"You were so shell-shocked that you couldn't even retreat from the sun," Mijoon countered,
"So much sun at once... it was beautiful, cruelly so," Kyuhyun mused as he began to play with the bracelet on his wrist; "But, also, I was scared. I wasn't so shocked that I couldn't move, I truly believed as if I couldn't move. I felt as if even if I moved away from the sun, it would follow me. And so, I thought to myself: why should I run if I cannot escape anyway?"
Kyuhyun closed his eyes as he remembered the moment the sunlight seemed to totally and completely encompass his world. He remembered the startling fear that knifed through him as if he couldn't move, couldn't run away. He felt as if his back were against a cool, solid surface. He felt as if even if he sunk into the shadows, the sun would follow him. It wasn't until Mijoon had stepped between him and the sunlight, had wrapped his arms around him that he felt safe again. He had looked up at Mijoon as he yelled at the employees and for one moment, felt as if he should say something. Felt as if he should call out a name, but as soon as he thought that, the name flitted away before he could know it. He oddly felt the urge in that moment to touch his bracelet as if reassuring himself it were still on his wrist.
"Young Master..." Mijoon's soft prompting pulled him out of his reverie.
"You shouldn't have told my father," Kyuhyun stated, "It was an honest mistake, anyone could have made it."
"No, not anyone. For all you know, Young Master, it could have been purposeful," Mijoon said,
"What?" Kyuhyun opened his eyes and swung the chair around to stare up at the assistant,
"You often forget this, but you are the heir to one of the largest fortunes in all of Korea. You were also, today, the decisior for one of their proposals. It would be the first time they would need to impress you. It would be simple enough to make you sick. Then, they would have to deal with your father. Your father, they know how to impress. You, they are scared of because you are different," Mijoon explained as he leaned his hips back against the desk and folded his arms about his torso.
"That's ridiculous," Kyuhyun stated,
"It's probable," Mijoon countered,
"Mijoon, my father could have fired them all! A dozen people without jobs! A dozen families suddenly without income!" Kyuhyun argued,
Mijoon stared at a moment before his eyes slowly, slowly narrowed, "Be upset with me all you want, bait me into an argument with all your heart's content. But know this, Kyuhyun, I will not tolerate any leniency when it comes to your life."
"You're my assistant, not my bodyguard," Kyuhyun reminded, raising a brow,
"And I strive to be more," Mijoon replied. He stared at the younger man meaningfully before he pushed away from the desk, "I have to collect the reports from this morning. Drink your tea... Young Master."
Kyuhyun watched as his assistant left, the door closing quietly. Instead of picking up his teacup, however, he fished out his cellular phone from his desk drawer. He began to press buttons without hesitance.
'Have you ever gotten hurt or almost-hurt and your bodyguards question if it was innocent?'
He wondered belatedly, after he had pressed 'send', whether or not his message read like a veiled threat. He hoped that the singer would know him a little by now to know he was not a fanatic, that he wasn't someone who would come after her with ill-intent. He had begun to lay his phone on the desk when it shook slightly. He opened the reply immediately, hoping she wouldn't end their association. No, she had said they were friends, hadn't she? Perhaps that would be enough to dismiss his odd message -
'Yes. A number of times. Every time I get a simple paper cut while reading fan mail is deemed a threat to my life. Why? Are you okay?'
'Why do you ask?'
'You're heir to your father's company. You're worth more than I am. Are you okay?'
Kyuhyun understood the responsibilities that came along with being the heir to the company. He also knew what a powerhouse his father was in the industrial world; not just in South Korea, but all over the world. He knew how important the company was with importing and exporting goods to and from South Korea, knew that it was one of the symbols of public relations between South Korea and the other countries.
'A small accident, no harm done.'
'If you're sure. Are you considering the accident wasn't one?'
'My assistant is. Should I?'
'I think your assistant is smart. You'll have to judge for yourself who you can trust.'
Lee Yeon, he knew, was a national celebrity. Her fame came swiftly after her debut and has never faltered. He knew that her, as all other celebrities had their fans along with a fair share of anti-fans. Despite Lee Yeon's and the company's similarities in importance, he never considered that the company would have its own anti-fans. He knew the company had rival companies, but he never considered there would be a risk to himself. Apparently, he was the only one who forgot about his own importance.
'Do you trust me?'
'That's good to read. I was worried I scared you off with my first text.'
'No. Never that.'
Kyuhyun thought her last text peculiar. However, he as soon brushed away the thought and put down his phone. He sat back in his chair and began to sip his tea. Slowly, he took out the photograph and began to examine it once again.
Oh, starry, starry night,
when we danced beneath the heavens,
when the stars revolved around our world.
I want to dance with you again.
It was the perfect little excuse,
to show to the world
all the love you have from me.
In a crowded room,
we waltzed the night away,
didn't care what others said.
After another long afternoon of research with the school nurse, Sungmin headed back to his room in Shim Jang Academy, tired, weary and ready for bed. He entered the room, dimly lit by a bedside lamp, halted for just a split second before continuing on to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, he came out of the bathroom, slick, damp and a towel slung low on his hips.
He glanced at the bed and then continued to his dresser, pulling out boxers and pyjama bottoms. He dressed quietly, sleepily, almost falling over several times from his fatigue. After ensuring his skin was dry with a rub down with his towel, he rubbed his head with his towel before tossing it to his chair. He padded over to the bed, turned off the lamp and slipped between the sheets, pulling the petite, soft woman there into his arms.
"Working late on a school night," Taeyeon murmured as she turned into his arms and huddled closer to his chest.
"I would've been here sooner had I known my fiancee was waiting to surprise me," Sungmin replied sleepily,
"Yes, well, you've hardly spoken to me since I told you I was pregnant last week," Taeyeon stated,
"You waited two months to tell me!" Sungmin defended as he pulled away from her and sat up in the bed,
"I wanted to be completely sure before I said anything," Taeyeon replied as she slowly sat up, "We were only together that one night and you always think 'that'll never happen to me' and, well, it did. It did happen to me and I wanted to be sure before I told you. I didn't want to upset you for no reason."
"Upset me? Why would I be upset?" Sungmin questioned. When Taeyeon said nothing, he moved closer and leaned in to press a kiss to her forehead, "Taeyeon, I would never be upset because you're pregnant. Just the opposite, in fact." When still she said nothing, just stared at him through the shadows of the room now only lit by moonlight, he pulled her into his arms, "Taeyeon, we're going to be parents!"
"Does this mean I can wear my ring now?" Taeyeon asked tentatively,
Sungmin sighed, "It means opening up an avenue for reporters to hound you."
"They'll hound me anyway once I start showing. Better to have the fans' favour by being engaged than being unattached altogether," Taeyeon reasoned,
"We're going to need to find a bigger place. Our apartment was fine when there was only you living there most of the time," Sungmin said after they laid back down in bed; "Two-bedrooms so then once the baby's older we won't need to move again?"
"What if we got a house this time?" Taeyeon suggested sleepily, "It'll be easier to have privacy."
"I'm a highschool teacher. We can't go overboard," Sungmin reminded lightly,
"And I am a famous singer. We can go overboard," Taeyeon replied easily,
"Then we need to find a house near a nice playground," Sungmin stated, "Like the one we used to play in as kids."
"With Kyuhyun," Taeyeon mused softly, "I'll tell him I'm pregnant, but... it won't mean the same to him as it would if he had his memory."
Sungmin said nothing as he held her, idly stroking her hair, still straight from that day's schedule. He often reflected over the night he had reunited with Kyuhyun. He wanted to say everything and nothing at all. He wanted to tell all that was new with his life, what he had been up to all those years, but then he would remember that Kyuhyun wouldn't care about all those things. The Kyuhyun he met that night was not the same Kyuhyun he had known all his life. It was a depressing thought that he often had to push away.
"But he'll be happy for me and... and that's more than I could ask for," Taeyeon said, "Especially since it's been three years since we last saw him... I can't get selfish now that we have him again."
“We’ll get him back, Taeyeon. I… I don’t know when, but we will. We’re so close right now,” Sungmin said as he held her tight, “Then we’ll have him back and our family will be complete again.”
“Then we can get married,” Taeyeon added,
Sungmin chuckled, “Yes, we can finally get married.”
Taeyeon was silent long enough that Sungmin wondered if she had fallen asleep. However, she spoke up again in the darkness, “It’s going to be a media storm once I announce I’m pregnant.”
“What about your ring? People will assume you’re engaged simply because you’re pregnant,” Sungmin stated,
“I’ll wear it around my neck at first, explaining why I hid my engagement for so long,” Taeyeon said, “Eventually I’ll move the ring to my finger and there it will stay.”
“Should I start planning disguises for when I go out in public?” Sungmin lightly joked,
“I won’t talk about you,” Taeyeon decided, “Even if you’re here at the school most of the year, I don’t want your students bothering you. Just because I have to lose a bit of my privacy doesn’t mean you have to, also.”
“Are you sure?” Sungmin asked,
Taeyeon nodded, “Besides, I wonder how long it’ll take for fans to dig up my real name. It’s been a few years, they should’ve figured it out by now.”
“You look very different with make-up on,” Sungmin reminded,
“I know, but before I graduated high school, I went to any number of high-status, social events with my parents. You’d think someone from the upper echelons would have wondered about my identity,” Taeyeon stated,
“Do you want the fans to know? It’ll take away more of your privacy,” Sungmin said,
“I know, but… if they’re going to dig up my past, I’d rather have it on my terms,” Taeyeon explained, “Yes… I’ll reveal myself, but… slowly.”
“How? Give them just your last name?” Sungmin chuckled and added sarcastically, "Kim is a very unique surname in Korea."
Taeyeon playfully swatted at his chest, “No, I’ll go to an event with my parents. They would love that; it’s been years since I’ve last gone.”
Sungmin pressed a kiss to her forehead, “Do as you wish, Sweetheart. Just don’t over tax yourself and the baby.”
Taeyeon hugged him back, “I’m so excited.”
“Have you told your parents yet?” Sungmin inquired,
“No… I’ve only just told you,” Taeyeon answered,
Sungmin sighed, “Your father’s going to hate me even more. First we move in together, then we have the longest engagement in history… now I’ve gone and gotten you pregnant despite an almost-celibate relationship.”
Taeyeon laughed, “You don’t have to be there when I tell them.”
Sungmin sighed with relief, “I knew there was a reason I love you so much, Sweetheart.”
Taeyeon merely laughed in response. She huddled closer in Sungmin's embrace, closer her eyes. Things would be okay, she was sure. She would face the public and survive. She and Sungmin would be parents in May. Hopefully, by then, her son or daughter would have their Uncle Kyuhyun, too.
Oh, starry, starry night,
when we danced beneath the heavens,
when the stars revolved around our world.
I want to dance with you again.
Just take my hand
and dance with me again.
This moon, these stars,
This night, right now.
“It’s almost two in the morning.”
Heechul looked up from the book he had been poring over all night. Sungmin had left earlier, but he had remained at his desk in the nurse’s office to continue reading for just a little longer. Standing in the doorway was Hankyung, dressed as if he had just come from the Council.
“For three years now I’ve been reading. Reading and researching… I could have published a paper by now about amnesia!” Heechul exclaimed before sighing and sitting back in his chair, tipping his head against the back of the seat, “There’s still no progress.”
"Maybe you should take a step back from research," Hankyung suggested hesitantly as he entered the expansive office. He strode over to Heechul and brushed his lips against the other's, "Tastes like tobacco. Still smoking?"
"It keeps me sane," Heechul defended lightly,
“Well, what I'm about to say isn’t what you will want to hear, but there’s progress from my endeavour,” Hankyung said as he walked back around the desk and sat in a chair in front of the desk.
Heechul sat up straight and stared at the other man, “You mean you actually have to do something, now? Now? After three years? What’s the Council planning?”
“More or less what I predicted they would,” Hankyung shrugged, “The Hunters who were there the night the pureblood came haven't said anything about it. The only person I really know is Head Hunter Lee, but he hasn't voiced any concerns. What the Council is working from must be a tip or something. There’s no other explanation why this situation would arise.”
“This Head Hunter…” Heechul murmured,
“Is completely trustworthy. After what happened to his partner that night, the beliefs he once held have changed dramatically, along with his trust in the Council. He’s nothing to worry about, he advocates the same teachings I do, albeit, he does so through his missions,” Hankyung explained, “Besides, with Kibum’s help and the help of Hunters from the Japanese Council, Eunhyuk has been able to help a lot of turned-vampires. No, the Council has another source.”
“What have they done so far?” Heechul inquired,
“They’ve begun investigations,” Hankyung sighed, running a hand through his thick hair, “It’s by sheer dumb luck that the case was brought to me.”
Heechul’s eyes widened, “You’re managing the case?”
Hankyung nodded, “They won’t figure it out until after some thorough investigations about my connection and, by then, I’ll be so deep into the case that they’ll be reluctant to remove me and give it to a different Council Member.”
“Are you sure?” Heechul asked,
He nodded again, “Despite my liberal teachings and policies, my loyalty has never been questioned in the Council. I supposed I have my grandfather to thank for that. Besides, should they try to question me, I have the support of their two best Head Hunters and the Head Tactician.”
“Are there possibilities that the others might be investigated, too?” Heechul suggested, “After all, if they find out your connection, they’ll surely find out the others, especially with Kyuri and Kibum having been here for months.”
“It’s a possibility that I’m not going to rule out just yet, however, we have some grace time until we have to worry about it,” Hankyung replied, “We’ll cross that bridge when we reach it.”
Heechul merely nodded his agreement as he settled back in his chair, folding his arms about his torso. Eventually, he glanced at the pages he had the book opened to, “Are you… staying for the night?”
“Yes,” Hankyung answered just as his cellular phone went off in his pocket. He sighed, “If this is the Council…” He murmured bitterly as he took out his phone and answered it, “Hello? No, not… tonight. Why?”
Heechul blatantly watched as the other man had his conversation, his eyes taking in every facial reaction and expression. He knew almost immediately who was on the other end of the phone. He felt a twinge of resentment, a sprinkle of jealousy and a whole lot of fear that Hankyung would, in fact, not be staying the night.
“What? Are you sure? Do you need anything?” Hankyung asked into the phone as he sat straighter in the chair. He rolled his eyes despite the other half of the conversation being unable to see it; “You say ‘nothing’ and I automatically think you’re lying, why is that?” He stood from the chair and began to pace, “Protect me? I’m the one who should be protecting you – what? Fine. Fine. Yeah, okay. Bye.”
Hankyung replaced his phone in his pocket with a sigh and slight shake of his head. He turned back to Heechul as the nurse stood from his chair, bookmarked his page and closed the book. He picked up the tome and carried it over to a bookcase.
“You can leave,” Heechul said,
“What?” Hankyung stared at him,
“If you have somewhere to be… or want to be somewhere else, then just leave,” Heechul suggested flippantly, his tone even as he shelved the book,
“I don’t want to be anywhere but with you,” Hankyung retorted,
“What is it this time?” He questioned, suddenly turning around to glare at the other man, “A paper cut? A sun burn? Are they dying? It’s okay, Hankyung – You. Can. Go!”
Hankyung immediately closed the distance between them, taking Heechul’s shoulders in his hands, “Your jealousy is clouding your judgement – as always – and making you say things that are beneath you, Heechul.”
Heechul stared up at him a moment, momentarily falling into the other man's dark gaze. They had a shaky beginning when they began seeing each other over three years ago. After the incident with Kyuhyun and Zhou Mi, they had separated momentarily. They came back together after the realization that Kyuhyun and Zhou Mi couldn't be together, then they should cherish that they could.
Every school holiday during the first year after the incident, Heechul had stayed with Hankyung. When Hankyung expressed his decision to return to China, Heechul had gone along with him without a second thought. The Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster had accompanied them, under the guise of visiting Zhou Mi's family cemetery plot.
The years following their return from China had not been ideal. Heechul had thrown himself into researching a cure for Kyuhyun's amnesia and Hankyung had left Shim Jang Academy to work at the Council. After the first year following the incident, Hankyung and Heechul had spent less and less time together. Heechul had realized, then, that Hankyung had been spending his time with someone else.
The second summer after the incident, Heechul had broken up with Hankyung, only to have the foreigner continue to pursue him anyway. As much as Heechul resisted, in the end, he would welcome Hankyung whenever he saw him. Theirs was not a perfect situation and Heechul often resented the third party, even when he knew it was with Hankyung he should be angry. He wanted to put things on hold until Hankyung would finally dedicate everything to him.
“Well, you always knew I was a jealous man,” Heechul stated as he pulled away from Hankyung’s grasp and began heading for the door. He was stopped when a pair of arms wrapped around his shoulders and chest from behind.
“And you, apparently, have forgotten that I’m a possessive man,” Hankyung said, his voice like a low growl.
Heechul said nothing. The other man’s voice so low, so dark, was like a quiet threat in the dark room; like a secret temptation. He suppressed the shiver that ran down his spine, eliciting all his nerves in delicious anticipation. Hankyung’s lips were by his ear, his words mere puffs of air that tickled his skin like butterfly wings.
He had first resisted the foreigner's attentions when Hankyung had come to the school to teach mathematics. He had forced a friendship on the teacher when the other man pushed for more. It had been difficult to keep the teacher at a distance before finally accepting his affections. He had been intrigued by the mysterious foreigner who simply wanted to teach mathematics.
He had been startled to discover that the teacher knew about the night world and vampires. He himself had been introduced to it when his best friend had become a vampire. The teacher knew it from a more sordid past, whereby his best friend's younger brother had killed out of blood lust.
Five years ago, Kyuhyun came to him, torn apart and covered in blood. Heechul spent the night staying with the then-student and watching a transformation rip through his body as bloodlust consumed him. After assuring that the transformation was done and Kyuhyun deep in sleep, Heechul had retreated for a bare hour only to seek the comfort of the mathematics teacher. He had found strength with Hankyung ever since.
“Come, Heechul,” he murmured, his whisper a dark promise, “Let’s go to your room.”
Heechul hesitated. Indeed, he wanted to say no and just walk away from him. However, they rarely saw one another. He hardly got a chance to steal Hankyung away from the other person. Not trusting his voice, scared that it would reveal all his thoughts, all his emotions, all his vulnerability, he nodded.
Slowly, Hankyung’s arms dropped away from him and Heechul led the way.
Oh, starry, starry night,
when we danced beneath the heavens,
when the stars revolved around our world.
I want to dance with you again.
Oh, starry, starry night,
when we danced amongst the stars,
when the music embraced us completely.
I want to dance with you again.
It was a cold night. He had stood there, silent and still for so long that the cold had seeped into his body and settled deep in his bones. Despite the bright moon in the starry sky, he had managed to completely cloak himself within the shadows, immerse himself in the silent night. He heard a noise and his eyes darted to the house across the street.
The front door of the large house, in truth a mansion, opened and a young man stepped out, stopping a moment to banter with an elderly man who was the young man’s butler. The young man, dressed in sweats and a thick jacket then set off down the driveway, a notebook tucked beneath one arm. How many people – employees – would be startled to see the heir to Jo Shipping Company dressed as thus and running about in the middle of the night without protection?
The young man – Young Master, he was called by said employees – began to jog lightly once he was on the street. Just a heartbeat before he was completely out of sight, the shadow moved from its place and follow, keeping such a great distance to hide his pursuit. The Young Master paused and the shadow melted back into the darkness, his eyes never leaving the young man. When the Young Master continued on, so did the shadow.
The Young Master disappeared ahead, but the shadow continued on, crossing the street before passing the entrance of a playground. He glanced at the playground just long enough to assure himself that the young man had entered the playground and, then, continued on into the night.
He rounded a corner and got the car he had parked at the curb there prior to setting up his post outside the Young Master’s house. He started the engine and drove deeper into the capital, heading to where the night life would be.
Parking his car again, he walked down the streets. Even on a Tuesday evening, there would be a night club open somewhere in the city. He smelled the delicious aroma of scarlet elixir. He could feel the need bursting in his chest like a caged bird desperate to be free. His body was tuned to the once-a-day feedings, but, still, whenever he was near blood, he had to clamp down the need to jump the next person to walk by. No, feeding and keeping it secret required finesse.
He knew the Council had become more vigilant in their pursuits of all vampires, especially after the fiasco that occurred in the high school north of Seoul. He had to take care that he wasn’t found out, that his cover wasn’t blown. He had to make sure he wouldn’t become the Council’s next target.
He entered the first club he saw, his ears filled with pounding music and his lungs saturated in smoke the moment he walked through the door. He paid his cover and moved deeper into the building. It was only a matter of finding the right person, making eye contact and quirking an eyebrow before he found himself company.
The woman who sauntered to his side was tall and long-legged, her body moving to the music, the slight sway in her limbs revealing her drunken state. Before she even called a greeting past the loud music, she had draped an arm over his shoulders, bringing her body up against his, trying to tempt him to dance and move against her.
He took her hand and led her away from the dance floor to one of the private booths that lined the club. She practically fell onto the seat slabs as he gracefully sat down beside her. He had barely settled in his seat before she sidled next to him, draping over him again in an attempt to pull him into an amorous embrace. She tried to kiss him, but he moved his head just in time that her lips grazed his cheek. His mouth moved to the pulse in her neck, instinctively knew where it beat powerfully beneath her skin.
She was a stranger, but she was not random choice. Her dark hair had a slight wave to it, whether natural or no, he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t care. The fact her hair looked as it did was enough. Her skin was pale, beautiful in its milky appearance, her cheeks rosy from her intoxication. He didn’t care if it was covered in cosmetics. All he cared about was the skin of her neck and how smooth and pale it looked even in the dimness of the club. No, all that mattered was the feel of her dark, wavy hair against his cheek and her pale, smooth neck beneath his mouth. All that mattered was the face of the young man that flashed in his head.
She may have cried out the moment his fangs bit into her, but it was easily swallowed up by the music. She may have struggled for a moment, but their positions suggested a different physical act and, once he began feeding, she had relaxed against the seat. He knew the feel of being fed from could be intoxicating. He knew that as he took her very life force from her body, she would be too weak to move, to resist. Add to that her obvious drunk state and she would wake up the next morning cursing herself for getting so drunk and allowing herself to be embraced by a strange man.
Once he had his fill, he closed the bite marks and whispered into her ear, “It’s about time you go home, now.”
He pulled away from her and slipped from the booth, knowing that once she regained her strength, she would believe his suggestion to be her own belief and would leave the club. He slipped past the dancing bodies and escaped into the cold, crisp night.
He realized then that his cellular phone had been vibrating in his pocket. He began heading back to his car as he pulled out his phone. Shooting a glance at the caller's name, he held it up to his ear just as he took out his keys for his car,
He answered, “Hello? This is Choi Mijoon.”
Dance with me again.
Come, take my hand.
(Cycle - From the Outside)
A/N: I request you not post any spoilers anywhere in the cbox or even on Twitter. I don't want things being spoiled to those who haven't read this chapter yet.
Things like "OMG MIJOON THAT B!TCH" is fine, because that doesn't give it away. And, really, pretty much everyone hates Mijoon LOL. But yeah, just try to make things non-specific if you chat/tweet about this chapter.
A/N#2: I still strive to make you guys like Mijoon as much as I do.