(10th Cycle of the Mourning Song series.)
10th Cycle: Shattered Remains
It was a winter night
and I knew that this was goodbye.
But I refused to say those words.
I held you tight
and begged you "please don't go"
But you still walked away.
Kyuhyun wasn’t sure how long he had waited in the town car. He was too anxious to sleep against the soft leather seats, and he had cursed himself several times for not bringing his sketchbook. On the other hand, he wondered if he’d even have enough concentration to sketch properly. He had replayed the conversation he had had with Lee Yeon over and over again in his mind. It was too dark to look at the photograph any longer, but he had looked at it so many times that all he had to do was close his eyes and he could picture it in his mind. All that was missing from the photograph were colours.
He had so many questions for the singer. It was clear that she had pretended not to know him when they met after her concert that fateful night long ago. What he didn’t understand was why she had pretended. Why had she acted as if the boy in her past and he were two different people?
Furthermore, why was he dead to her? Regardless of his memories, why hadn’t she stayed friends with him? Shouldn’t she have tried even harder to keep the association? Tried to help him remember? If she knew him, then she knew about his illness. Surely, she would have tried to keep a normalcy to their friendship despite his debilitating health?
What if she was playing on the fact that he couldn't remember anything? What if there was a very good reason that they were no longer friends?
At some point, Kyuhyun went from wondering about his childhood with Lee Yeon to wondering if he should leave the town car immediately. He was sure Mijoon would pick him up if he called. However, he realized if he did the latter, he'd be running away and he refused to do that. He refused to turn down the chance at learning more about what he couldn't remember. He refused to continue not knowing his past.
So, when Lee Yeon returned to the town car an hour and a half later, his mood had mellowed. Unfortunately, the moment she slipped into the car with her make-up and done-up hair, his temper soared. Sure, they had only been friends for three weeks, but apparently they had been friends since they were children. Regardless of any rational thought that had calmed him earlier, he barely waited for the door to close after her before he burst.
"I may be sick and dying, but I'm not dead yet!" Kyuhyun exclaimed,
Taeyeon blinked at him before settling in the seat and putting on her seatbelt. She told the driver to begin driving to Kyuhyun's house before closing the window between the front and back seats. Remaining facing perfectly forward, Taeyeon lightly clasped her hands on her lap, her right over the left, absent-mindedly playing with the ring now in its rightful place on her finger.
"You know what I meant by that, Kyuhyun," Taeyeon said quietly, staring straight ahead as her thoughts from the interview completely gave way to the current situation and all the turbulent thoughts and emotions it brought her.
"Yes, I know. I don't remember you, I don't remember my sister - I don't remember anyone beyond three years ago!" Kyuhyun stated, unknowingly further crinkling the photograph in his fisted hand, "Even if I have forgotten everything, you have not! Why is it in three years, it's only recently that we have come face-to-face, hmm? I may have been dead in many meanings of the word, Lee Yeon, but you most certainly were not!"
Taeyeon's right hand gripped her left tightly, trying to ignore the way her heart clenched when he had called her by her stage name. Quickly, she flipped through several scenarios, several things she could say, and yet, she didn't feel like the time was right. He was too tense, too angry for the emotions boiling up within her. She could say so many things to him. She could talk about how she even struggled to get past the gates of his house the first year after high school. She could describe the innate sense of loss and hollowness she had felt when he had moved away and they couldn't trace where the owner and head of Jo Shipping Company had moved his family.
Finally, pushing down the growing sadness at remembrance, she asked simply, "Think about it: why don't you remember?"
"My sickness, because surely you know of it, degenerates my memory," Kyuhyun answered, eyes narrowed at her,
"That's what they told you?" Taeyeon laughed softly, sadly, "I knew they had devised some story to tell you but I never imagined..." She shook her head slightly, "But, of course, they could explain away anything using your supposed illness, can't they? Because they cannot give you any other answers, no diagnosis, no prognosis, no cure... and, so, they use it to explain everything else that doesn't make sense to them."
"What are you talking about?" Kyuhyun demanded, "I have answers! I have diagnoses, among them being XP! I have a prognosis and it doesn't look good. Cure?" He sighed heavily, running his free hand through his hair, "There is none..."
Taeyeon contemplated telling him the truth, and, yet, she knew that their conversation would be overwhelming enough for her beloved cousin. She couldn't go overboard and tell him about his vampirism. She turned, finally to look at him. She reached over and gently pried his locked fingers from the old picture. Instead of drawing back, she held it up between them and turned on the backseat's, pale, ceiling light.
"Kyuhyun, regardless of what you believe right now, at this moment, I want you, for a moment, forget it... just, make your mind a clean slate," Taeyeon requested tentatively, "Look at this photo and ask yourself why you were never told about the people in this photo. Ask yourself why you were never told about your own sister."
"My parents made a mistake and they're trying to make up for it," Kyuhyun muttered, his defence lacking conviction,
"After twenty-one years, Kyuhyun?" Taeyeon prompted, "They did not even tell you once about her in the three years that you have left high school."
Kyuhyun swallowed hard, unable to deny the truth that rang in her argument. He thought about all the times he had strained to remember, only to come up blank or to be pained by a horrible migraine. He thought about the quiet moments in which he would think about the "what's" and "what if's" of his unknown past.
What was he forgetting? What was he leaving behind? What if he was losing something important? Something grand? If, he could not remember his past, who he had been, where he had been, then could he truly know himself?
Such questions plagued him often.
Such questions scared him and shook his very soul.
"Why... why have I not seen you in person before?" Kyuhyun managed, feeling that the building fear of not knowing himself was bursting within him like a gaping, black hole, the threat of tears very much real.
Taeyeon lowered the photograph to the seat between them, returning her hands to her lap, wary of having physical contact with him, of exposing him to all the truth running through her mind. She inhaled slowly, steadily, trying to keep her emotions in check. Kyuhyun was on the precipice of rediscovering his past and she couldn't take away from that by bursting into tears. After three years, she was given the rare chance to, once again, be strong for him.
"You left Shim Jang Academy a month prior to graduation. After graduation, I went to your house, the one just south of Seoul, everyday trying to see you," Taeyeon revealed quietly, tentatively; "I argued with your gate guards day after day, just to send word to you that you had a visitor."
"Who's the crazy stalker now?" Kyuhyun chuckled, turning his gaze out the window, suddenly afraid of what this conversation would mean for him. When the singer remained silent, he asked hesitantly, "You're serious... aren't you?"
Kyuhyun was startled when he felt slender fingers lay over his hand, fisted on the seat between them. He whipped his gaze to her, eyes wide as his mind burst with colour-filled memories. He stood before a large, iron gate, a familiar house in the middleground. His mittened hands shook the metal bars, as he yelled, but a higher voice was heard. A large, bulky man in a security guard's uniform approached, a big, puffy jacket pulled over his broad shoulders. He didn't hear what he spoke, but his face was sympathetic before he turned and walked away. Dejected, he - or, rather, Lee Yeon, turned from the gates to the black sedan parked at the curb. He walked up to the car and opened the front, passenger door. Before he could slip in and see who the driver was, he was brought back to the present as she pulled her hand away.
He stared at her, the memory lingering, repeating in a cycle, but never going before or beyond what he had already seen. No, she hadn't lied, and yet, even as she had spoken, he knew that she didn't lie to him; wouldn't lie to him. Suddenly, the feeling of connection and comfortableness he had always felt with the singer made sense, as if a piece of a puzzle had shifted in his life, making it smooth, making it a little bit closer to being complete.
"My parents... they wouldn't be this cruel... they wouldn't isolate me like this," Kyuhyun stammered, grasping at threads in his mind, trying to form some defence, some excuse for his parents' behaviour.
"I cannot speak on behalf of your parents, but I can speak for myself and I promise you that everything I have done in the past three years has been to reunite with you, Kyuhyun," Taeyeon confessed, her voice quiet but firm as she held out the photograph to him,
Kyuhyun hesitantly took the photograph, bringing it closer for his inspection.
He had wondered for so long what his memories had lost for him. He had wondered what had happened before the day he had awoken in that small, windowless room. He remembered names, but no faces. He wondered, then, if one of the names he had encountered during that period in his life belonged to the singer. However, he didn't remember a 'Lee Yeon' among the list of names. Everything was so confusing at that time, those conversations, voices, all slipped from his consciousness, but not names. Names, he had promised to remember. If only, he could have promised to remember whatever occurred before that point in time.
Kyuhyun was jolted from his reverie when the car pulled to a stop. He glanced out his window to confirm that they were just outside the gates, which led to his house, similar to the gates in the singer's memory. He opened the door, had a foot on the pavement, when he twisted back to face her,
"I... I don't want to question you because, for some reason, I know you're not lying," Kyuhyun admitted, "But I need solid proof, beyond this photograph. I'm not saying it is, but it could have easily been manufactured. I need something that cannot be argued against." He swallowed hard, "Something even my parents cannot deny."
Taeyeon's eyes widened before her expression softened. She reached out to and gestured to the right side of his head, "You have a scar on your temple. You got it from a biking accident."
Kyuhyun reached up with his hand, realizing that his hair covered his right temple. He knew he had a scar there, had discovered it shortly after he had left school. However, he didn't think of it and, indeed, had quite forgotten its existence, especially since it was easily hidden by his hair. He brushed the soft skin beneath his hair, feeling the faint ridge in his skin, denoting the scar.
He turned to leave, when she grabbed his hand, the one that still clasped the photograph. She let go almost immediately so as to shield her thoughts from his telepathy. When he looked over his shoulder at her, she was reaching up to turn off the backseat's light.
"My real name is Kim Taeyeon."
And I waited for you
waited to see you walk
back through the door.
And I waited for you
waited to see you smile
once more for me.
I waited for you.
Then the time passed by
and went so very slow.
But I refused to give up hope.
I prayed to God above
"please let him come back".
One week later; Friday; Second week of November 20XX
It had been a long day. He walked into the house as he tugged at his tie, slipping his shoes off at the door. He put down his briefcase by the foot of the stairs as he headed over to the living room, hearing the soft noise of the television. He stood in the doorway of the living room, a shoulder against the frame as he shoved one hand into his pocket, the other still tugging away at his tie.
"I didn't think you'd be home tonight," the person in the living room spoke,
"Why not? It's the end of the day. I've had a long day at work," he replied as his eyes were drawn to the news reports on the television screen.
"I thought you'd be staying with Heechul," the other replied simply,
"I decided to come home instead," he countered,
"Geng," the other sighed, "We've talked about this time and time again. I can take care of myself. You don't have to keep rushing home just to make sure I'm still alive."
"Eeteuk came home to find Kangin gone, Zhou Mi," Hankyung reminded, a slight edge to his tone.
His dark eyes narrowed at his best friend who lounged on the couch. Zhou Mi had been right. He had always rushed home after work just to see that he was still alive. He would be at work and, constantly, he would worry whether or not Zhou Mi was surviving in the house alone during the day. When Zhou Mi had returned to Seoul with him and Heechul two years ago, he had insisted that Zhou Mi stay with him. Indeed, he brooked no argument. He had given the entire basement to Zhou Mi. It was easy to black-out the small windows and it was spacious enough to be considered its own apartment. It gave both men enough space while, at the same time, Hankyung could keep an eye on his dear friend.
Zhou Mi sighed heavily as he slowly stood to his full height, staring at the other man from across the room, "I know that, but it's been three years since Head Hunter Zhou Mi died! They don't know I'm still alive. They've probably forgotten me by now."
It had been a constant fear for the first year after leaving SJA that the Council would follow; that they would find out he hadn't truly died that fateful night with the pureblood vampire. Kangin had managed to smuggle him out of the country back to China where he recuperated. After a year of living in the village in which he had been born, in which his family had died, he had returned to South Korea, confident that the heat surrounding his supposed-death had died down long ago.
However, with Hankyung working for the Council, Zhou Mi was constantly reminded that there were people who had known him. People who would be startled to see him walking down the street. If even just one person recognized him, he would become an immediate target for the Council. It had been reported he had died after being fed from by the vampire. If he proved to be alive still, the Council would immediately know he had been transformed.
"But I couldn't protect you then!" Hankyung exclaimed, standing straighter, his hand dropping to his side, clenched so tightly that his knuckles whitened; "I couldn't even protect you when you were supposed to be alive, so how the hell can I even expect to protect you now that you're supposed to be dead!?"
"It's not your job to protect me, Geng," Zhou Mi stated, "I was a Hunter - a Head Hunter, even. My job was always dangerous. From the moment I began training in China, we knew that."
"You once talked to me about loyalty and protecting Kyuhyun," Zhou Mi reminded, his own hands fisted at his sides, he nails digging into his palms as the thought of the younger man brought about a wave of deepening despair within him; "My job is to protect Kyuhyun just as yours is to be with and protect Heechul."
"It's not that easy," Hankyung grounded out,
"And it's not supposed to be. Life isn't easy," Zhou Mi said, "I know you're scared that one day I'll just disappear like Kangin did. I know you're scared that one day I'll be found out, but I can take care of myself. Just because I've become a vampire, doesn't mean I've lost everything that I once was. Just because I'm no longer a Hunter, doesn't mean I've lost my instincts, my training. I've been careful for three years, Geng. Trust me to take care of myself."
For years, he had allowed Hankyung to coddle him somewhat. He had allowed Hankyung's protectiveness, understanding its origins. Had his best friend almost died, he would have been just as protective of the older man. However, he was still his own man. He was one of the best Hunters in the Korean Council; the Head Hunter who's district was the country's capital. Regardless of the past, regardless of his sensitivities towards his best friend, he still had his pride. He knew he could take care of himself, now, he needed to prove it to the others; starting with Hankyung.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you… that I’m undermining your abilities,” Hankyung insisted as he leaned against the doorframe again, shoving his hands into his pockets, “It just… scares me, you know? Before the threat came from vampires, but you always did missions as a team. Even when we were still at SJA and you went on a mission with just Kibum and another Hunter, I couldn’t sleep that night. Now, the threat is bigger because just one person has to see you, recognize you and… and it’s all over.”
“We always knew that would be a problem the moment we started faking my death,” Zhou Mi said with a slight shrug, smiling ruefully at his friend, “I can’t stay locked up like a china doll, Geng.”
“You know I don’t like this mission you’re doing… that you have been doing,” Hankyung said quietly, his eyes flashing with silent warning,
“I know you don’t, but at least I told you, right?” Zhou Mi attempted a light laugh. He sighed as he ran a hand through his hair, “You can’t expect me to remain idle, especially since I’m in Seoul again. I had to find him… I just… I needed to know he was okay, that he was still…” He inhaled slowly, deeply, so as to steady himself, calm himself; “When I found him again, I couldn’t just leave him be. Surely, you understand, Geng. Now that he’s back in Seoul… I can’t let him go.”
“And as you keep your eye on him, someone’s going to recognize you for a dead man!” Hankyung explained,
“They won’t, Mijoon –”
“Ah, yes, of course… Choi Mijoon,” Hankyung threw his arms into the air exasperated, “The answer to all of our problems,” he said sarcastically. His eyes narrowed, “Zhou Mi, you need to end this now. Not later, not soon – now. This Choi Mijoon is just a bigger liability than if you stalked Kyuhyun from the shadows!”
“It’s worked for a year,” Zhou Mi defended,
“Then it’s due for a screw up!” Hankyung countered. “For a year you have relied on Choi Mijoon. You have relied upon him to protect Kyuhyun, to keep an eye on him. I didn’t say anything at first because I knew you would do whatever you pleased regardless of what rational sense I tried to knock into you… but it’s been a year, Zhou Mi. Kyuhyun is fine. He’s still alive. He’s proved himself as a competent heir to his father’s company. Let the matter go until we can cure his amnesia.”
“And how long will that take? It’s been three years without any success!” Zhou Mi exclaimed, “Am I to wait another year? Another three? Even if I could walk away from him, I cannot, Geng! I cannot willingly walk away from the man I love! I cannot go into a state of just waiting until I can see him again, waiting until he remembers me. Having Mijoon as his assistant is the closest semblance to sanity I have left!”
Hankyung remained silent, knowing how hard it had been for Zhou Mi when he had gone through the transition. Initially, Kibum had been bringing Kyuhyun to the nurse’s office. Hankyung had saw him and notified the others of his return. Upon hearing about Zhou Mi’s condition and how Kibum had been forced to shoot him, close to his heart, Hankyung and Heechul had raced to gather Zhou Mi’s body from the snow while Taeyeon and Sungmin had continued to the nurse’s office with Kibum.
They immediately brought Zhou Mi’s body to Heechul’s bedroom where he underwent the transition. It had been a painful experience from what Hankyung had witnessed. Heechul had to leave after helping him bring Zhou Mi to the bedroom, warning Hankyung that it would seem like the transition practically tortured the person affected. Bloodlust, he had warned, would set in fast and hard as if starved for a year. Hankyung had forced his forearm into his mouth when Zhou Mi had shoved him against the wall, fiercely violent in his bloodlust. Zhou Mi had fed before he collapsed into unconsciousness, fatigued mentally and physically.
Before bringing Zhou Mi to the nurse's office, they decided their course of action. Hankyung had snuck Zhou Mi in and explained the plan to Heechul. The nurse had put Zhou Mi into a corner bed and hid him behind a wall of curtains. Kangin was the one who had arranged to take Zhou Mi out of South Korea. Hankyung had envied that Kangin had been the one to be with Zhou Mi during that time. He had heard, afterwards, how hard it had been for Zhou Mi to leave. Kangin had stayed in Korea a week at a time, going back and forth to China ever other week.
"If you couldn't be with Heechul, wouldn't you try everything to keep at least some kind of connection with him?" Zhou Mi asked quietly as he loosely folded his arms about his torso.
Hankyung sighed heavily, leaning his head sideways against the doorframe, "Yeah... you know I would."
"Well, having Mijoon be his assistant is that for me," Zhou Mi explained,
"I just... I just can't help but think this will end badly," Hankyung said, "Reports say that Kyuhyun is close to his assistant."
"It's true... they're more or less together," Zhou Mi confirmed, turning his gaze away, "It was bound to happen... I... I knew it was a possibility..."
Hankyung stared sadly at his best friend, knowing the conflicting emotions within him, "And?"
"I didn't think it would hurt so much," Zhou Mi said quietly. He turned away and walked over to the sliding doors that led to the backyard. He leaned his forehead against the cold glass; "Go back to Heechul, Geng. He should be your number one concern, not me."
"I know that, but you -"
"Cannot properly be with the person I love," Zhou Mi interjected. He sighed softly, "Go. Be. With. Heechul."
Hankyung saw the dejection, the resignation in the set of his best friend's shoulders. In his firm voice that hinted of strain, hinted at the threat of breaking. Zhou Mi had planned a way to protect Kyuhyun and, although he had accomplished that, things hadn't turned out quite as he had hoped. He knew having Mijoon as Kyuhyun's assistant was a comfort to Zhou Mi, however, the relationship between heir and assistant still managed to hurt his best friend deeply. After all, Kyuhyun was falling for someone who wasn't Zhou Mi.
"Thank you," Hankyung murmured tentatively.
He turned and left, grabbing his briefcase on his way out.
Zhou Mi heard the sound of the front door closing. His eyelids slid close as he thought about when he had first planned for a way to get close to Kyuhyun somehow, just to know his state of mind, how his life was without his memory. Through his investigations of locating Kyuhyun outside of Seoul, he had learned the younger man's parents were looking to hire him an assistant. Then, it hit him: the perfect way to infiltrate his personal life. All he needed was the right person to do it.
He raised his hand to the glass door by his head. He fisted it and slammed it just hard enough to make the door jolt. He knew something could happen between the two if they spent enough time, but, he had hoped, prayed, that something in Kyuhyun, some innate feeling, some soul-connection, some...
'Your punishment is to spend forever with a vampire.'
He sighed heavily as he turned so his back slouched against the door. He pounded his fist against the glass in steady intervals. He was being poetic, avoiding saying aloud and straight-forward what he had relied on for the past three years. He had wanted Kyuhyun to wait for him. He had wanted their love to surpass his amnesia. He didn't want Kyuhyun to fall in love with someone who wasn't him. He knew he was being selfish since it was clear that Kyuhyun was happy with the assistant. But, no, he didn't care. Kyuhyun was his and he would find a way to make Kyuhyun fall in love with him again. He would find a way for Kyuhyun to forget his new love and remember his old one.
‘I... I love you… I should have said it before now… should have said it so many times… but you already knew… you always knew.’
He would find a way for Kyuhyun to remember him.
Zhou Mi pushed away from the glass doors and headed for the front door. The sun was setting and he needed to feed.
And I waited for you
waited to see you walk
back through the door.
And I waited for you
waited to see you smile
once more for me.
I waited for you.
And after all this time
I still remember that night,
still remember when you
Saturday; End of the third week of November 20XX
Kyuri stood by the queen-sized bed in her room. She picked up clothes from the basket at her feet, folded them and then stacked them on the mattress. She watched, from across the room, as the twins ran in and out of the room in some kind of car race; minus the cars. She picked up another piece of clothing, glancing at it when the material didn't feel like cotton.
"Ah... Too late to wear this," she sighed as she found herself looking down at a short gown made completely of soft lace. "Argh," she muttered as she rolled the gown in a ball and threw it to the other side of the bed. She put her hands on her hip and stared down at her stomach, "I suppose you wouldn't be here, my dear, if it hadn't been for that gown. Well, now I can't wear it, sweetie, happy?"
Kyuri watched as the twins zipped out of the room again. She shook her head at them affectionately, "Should we teach you a different language, too? Then, when you're old enough to run around with your brother and sister, you can shout out, too." She picked up another piece of clothing, "Eh, never mind. That requires I learn another language, too," she began folding a t-shirt, "Your father could learn?" She put the folded shirt on another stack of shirts, "No, then he could say things and I wouldn't understand."
She picked up another piece of clothing, shaking it out so both sides of the shirt were aligned before beginning to fold it. She heard her cellular ring, but promptly ignored it. She had forgotten to turn it off after she left work earlier that day and she and Kibum had a strict no-work-at-home rule. It gave them time to relax and be with the twins. After a few rings, her phone grew silent and she smiled, pleased with herself that she didn’t give in and just answer the phone.
It was barely a breath before the home phone rang. She blinked, staring at the cordless phone lying on the bedside table beside her. If it was work calling, then it would be serious that they call either her or Kibum at home. She picked up the phone after the second ring and just stared at it, wondering if she should answer. Kibum was at SJA and, if they wanted him, they wouldn’t even bother calling their home number.
Finally, she answered, “Hello?”
“Yes?” She replied,
“It’s Hankyung. A new case has just been opened and needs immediate attention,” The other replied, “It’s for a vampire in a district for the Jeolanam province. I received it on my desk just now and I want you specifically to help me handle this case.”
“Not tactics?” Kyuri asked as she sandwiched the phone between her ear and shoulder as she continued folding clothes,
“That, too. The vampire apparently fled from Japan and the Japanese Council notified us once it was known,” Hankyung explained, “I need you to plan a mission to capture the pureblood and then we’ll work out the details after of how to handle the case alongside the Japanese Council.”
“How immediate is immediate?” Kyuri asked warily as she watched the twins continue to race up and down the hallway to the master bedroom.
“I have a Hunter delivering you the profile. They should be there right now,” Hankyung informed, “He’ll serve as a physical liaison between us and the Head Hunter in Jeolanam. This will help ensure that whatever plan you devise is followed to the tee.”
Kyuri sighed as she tossed another folded shirt on top of the stack, “Very well. What if I had said no, Hankyung?”
“I would have crossed that bridge if it came to it,” Hankyung replied, “This would be so much easier if you kept a computer at home.”
“We don’t like bringing work with us home,” Kyuri defended lightly, “Okay, are you staying much later at the office?”
“Yes, I still have to finish correspondence with the Japanese Council. I expect to be here until midnight, but I have my personal phone on me just in case,” Hankyung explained,
“Okay, I’ll call you once I’ve had a read-through of the profile,” Kyuri stated before ending the call. She tossed the phone onto the mattress as she headed over to the door. She whistled loudly, calling the twins to her.
“Where are we going?” Kyumi asked excited, slipping on her ballet slippers all on her own.
“Just downstairs,” Kyuri replied as she helped Kyuki with his little sneakers.
She opened the door and herded the twins out into the hallway, locking the door behind her. They raced ahead of her towards the elevators, taking turns pushing the ‘down’ button. She rode the elevator in silence as the twins chattered excitedly about taking a trip “downstairs” which meant more space to run around in the building’s large lobby.
Once in the lobby, Kyuri took the twins’ hands in her own and led them to the security guard’s desk right beside concierge.
“Hey, Joon!” Kyuri called a security guard over.
He towered over her as he walked over. Broad-shouldered, thickly muscled and light shining off his bald head, Joon made a very impressive security guard for the apartment building. “Yes, Kyuri-sshi?”
“Can you watch the twins for a second? I just have to step outside to receive a file from work,” Kyuri explained,
“Ah, no problem. The little sprites don’t do any damage by running around,” Joon answered, having watched the twins for short intervals every once in awhile since Kyuri and Kibum had moved into the building over two years ago.
“Thanks, Joon,” Kyuri turned to her little minions, “Kyuki, Kyumi – you listen to whatever Joon tells you, okay? Umma’s just going outside for a little bit and I’ll be right back, okay?”
“Yay! Joon!” Kyumi exclaimed happily,
“Umma!” Kyuki chirped in what Kyuri assumed was a goodbye of sorts.
Patting their little heads, she turned and strode out of the lobby. Once on the sidewalk, she stood with her back against the building wall, looking around for the Hunter. She pulled the ends of her sweater closer together, forgetting how cold the nights were becoming.
Kyuri swung her gaze down to her side, startled at finding her son standing there with a big grin on his face, "Kyuki... you need to stop following Umma everywhere. Especially when I say not to follow me."
“Ma’am!” A man approached,
Kyuri swept up Kyuki into her arms, realizing she didn't have time to bring him back to the lobby. As the man reached them, Kyuri saw the irony immediately because it was clear the Hunter was older than her and, yet, she was his superior. She gestured for him to follow her as she walked around to the side of the building. Standing in the dimly lit alleyway, she took the large, manila envelope he held out to her.
“Is this all of the profile?” She inquired as she shifted Kyuki to her hip so she could hold him with one arm.
“Down to her supposed shoe-size,” the Hunter confirmed. He handed her a small calling card also, “I’m sure Council Member Han has informed you that I’ll be liaison for this case. This is all my contact information. Once you have a mission planned, then you’ll have to go over it with me so that I can insure the team in Jeolanam follows it accordingly.”
“Okay, great,” Kyuri pocketed the card, “I’ll just…”
She froze and began to look deeper into the alley, past the boundaries of light coming from the street into the darkness. She strained her eyes, peering into the shadows. She didn’t move, barely breathed, as she waited for her eyes to adjust to staring into the dark. She inhaled sharply when there was movement and a figure stepped close enough that details of its face was highlighted from the diffused light of the street. The Hunter beside her tensed and followed her line of vision.
Kyuri blinked, gripping the envelope over her obvious, pregnant stomach as she shifted her body ever so slightly to block Kyuki from view. She identified the face almost immediately. Even if parts of it were shrouded in shadow, she knew the face. Stepping into the alleyway so as to keep her conversation private with the Hunter, she had never anticipated meeting the pureblood vampire who had gotten away and escaped out of Seoul just two weeks prior.
She knew he would come back and, even estimated his targeted area. When she had realized her home was just within the predicted area, she had forcibly pushed the negative thoughts rising within her. She had requested an increase in security and, while she knew the Council had agreed to it, she had hoped it would be enough. However, now, face-to-face with that pureblood in the alley beside her building and with just another Hunter, she knew that the security didn’t matter.
“What great timing… I was getting hungry,” the snarl echoed softly against the surrounding buildings.
“Ma’am, please, let me handle this alone,” the Hunter said quietly,
“I can't,” Kyuri grounded out.
She wanted more than anything to get away and protect her children. However, she knew that this pureblood was formidable and, if she left the Hunter, his fate was confirmed. When the Hunter failed, the vampire would be loose in the city. She felt the rising fear within her, the clenching in her heart as she found herself having to debate which life was more important: her children or the Hunter and the rest of Seoul.
She heard footsteps and immediately turned just in time to see the pureblood take a step closer. Suddenly, he was before them. She immediately flung around to shield her son, doing the one thing she would never do under normal circumstances: give her back to a threat. She heard the Hunter intercept the vampire.
“Get…. Out… of here,” the Hunter grounded out as he struggled with the vampire,
Kyuri clutched her son in her arms and ran back into the lobby. “Joon!” She exclaimed as she ran over to him where Kyumi sat on his lap. She handed her son over to the large security guard as she put the large envelope on the desk. She grabbed a pen and immediately scribbled two numbers down on the folder, “Call the first number and tell the man who answers the phone that Jo Kyuri needs back up A-S-A-P. Call the second number, it’ll be Kibum’s cellular. Tell him it’s back.”
“What? What’s back?” Joon questioned as he put both children on the ground behind the security desk, “What do you mean back-up? I can help –”
“No!” Kyuri slammed the pen down on the desk, “I need you to watch over the kids.” She glanced at Joon's hip, "Let me have your gun."
"What? No, tell me what's going on!" Joon demanded,
"I... It's better if you don't know. Look, I work for the government," Kyuri said, "And I need your gun." When Joon remained hesitant, she exclaimed, "I don't have time! Please!"
Joon handed over his gun to her. Kyuri checked it for bullets and then tucked it into her pants at the small of her back. She turned to leave, when she paused. She hurried around the desk and pressed a kiss to Kyuki and then Kyumi’s foreheads, “Umma loves you both very much.”
“Umma!” They both cried.
Kyuri shoved her emotions behind her as she turned and ran out of the lobby. She had to keep herself calm and collected if she was to go head-to-head with a pureblood vampire. She had safeguarded her children, now she had to help the Hunter, regardless of the cost to herself. She couldn’t afford to be selfish when another’s life was also in the equation.
The wind hit her like a cold wall when she stepped into the night again. The cars rushing by were noisy; easily covering up what she knew was occurring in the alley. She hurried over, steeling herself as she stepped into the mouth of the alley.
Touching her stomach affectionately, she whispered “I’m sorry.”
Then, she fisted her hands and ran straight into the fray.
That if I wait for you,
you'd walk back through that door.
That if I wait for you,
you'd smile again for me.
But I waited for you.
Yeah, I waited for you.
We never should have said goodbye.
(11th Cycle - To See the Sun)