words: 12 775
The story of Kibum and Kyuri
Scarlet Night & Mourning Song
11 & 12
We were strangers starting out on a journey
Never dreaming what we’d have to go through
Now here we are and I’m suddenly standing
At the beginning with you
The music was haunting.
It was slow, heart wrenching in its melody and, yet, comforting in the raw emotion each note seemed to vocalize the emptiness, and the loneliness she felt. Despite the fact that she had every right to be sad, to be self-pitying, she couldn’t help but feel the need to seek out the music, see the face of who played such beautiful sorrow. She wanted to comfort that person, wanted to save them from the turmoil that was raging within her. Like a ruminating, quiet storm, the cold darkness within didn’t get stronger, but it didn’t weaken and the damage it caused only piled up.
Almost drawn by instinct, she neared a window that was low enough that she could peer in, the pane pushed up half-way to allow the soft spring breeze into the room. Just a few feet away, she saw the boy sitting at a piano parallel to the window. His fingers attacked the keys, commanding them to play the notes as if he were telling a story. Although his music was passionate, invoking emotions, his expression was like a blank slate, his eyes closed as if the music were second nature, simply an extension of his being.
Suddenly, the music stopped and she felt unbearably empty as if the music had made her forget, just for a moment, the gaping abyss threatening to consume her. Before she could continue on her way, the boy turned his head to look at her, his eyes dark, seeming to see through her even as his face remained expressionless.
“Who are you?” He asked simply.
Who was she? She barely stifled a bitter laugh. She didn’t even know anymore. For as long as she could remember, she was given a name that was foreign to the country in which she grew up. She was shown pictures of parents who were not the adults who raised her – if, tolerating her presence could be considered raising her. And, as of a few months ago, she no longer had a place to call home.
Remembering the beginning of the end, the day when she came home from school to find the house empty, she pulled the sides of her sweater closer together, hugging her arms to herself. She didn’t want to answer this boy’s question. She didn’t want to admit that she was no one.
And, so, she asked, “Your music… why are you lonely?”
Was that emotion she saw? The briefest, smallest flash – of what? Sadness? Pain? – in those dark eyes. As quick as it had come, the emotion had left the boy’s eyes and they became as dark and hard as obsidian.
“Why are you rude?” His tone before had been even, not even curious as he asked a question. Now, there was almost a sharp edge, as if the emotion she swore she saw in his eyes were trying to escape, this time through his tone.
She tilted her head, ever so slightly. Had it been any other day, she perhaps would have yelled at the boy. Perhaps a normal girl would have cried. She would have relished the fire of anger, hugged it close and relished in it; it had been months since she last felt warm. However, to react meant having to care. And, after the past few months, nothing could come close to touching her, to hurting her worse than coming home on her birthday to find herself abandoned in an empty house.
She turned and walked away.
A few weeks later...
After the first day she walked by his window, she walked by every day to the point where he could recognize her nearing, soft footsteps. He could feel all of her attention on him as he played. He knew almost immediately the moment she was standing at the window. Something shifted in his surroundings as if everything in his life moved to make space for her. Which was ridiculous, of course. He didn’t have room for people. He didn’t have the will to let people in his life, to get close to them. But that’s what had happened with that girl.
Last night, curiosity – he had called it annoyance at the time – got the best of him and he asked her why she had so much free time to come listen to him play. Why wasn’t she at school? And, just like the first day they met, she tilted her head, her gaze was unwavering and she answered that she had no school. And, just like the first day they met, she turned and left abruptly.
Curiosity – once again, he labeled it annoyance of having been snubbed – coursed within him and he raced through the building to the outside, managing to gain the sidewalk just as she turned the corner of that block. He had followed her all day, dodging behind trees, mailboxes and buildings just to avoid being caught stalking her. He didn’t even completely comprehend why he followed, but, once the sun had set, he finally had another piece to the puzzle. She approached the front steps of a shelter and a worker who had just approached the door, too, held it open for her, giving a smile and greeting her familiarly.
‘She’s a regular, then?’
Once she disappeared into the shelter, he shook his head as if to dispel his curious thoughts and ruthlessly tried to ignore the worry rising within him. Sleep hadn’t come easy to him last night and, when it was finally a decent hour to drag his tired body from bed, he had sought out those who had taken him in when he had no one.
She had no one, he had told them that morning.
So, now, as she reached the window, there was the slightest hesitance in his playing, something that had never happened despite how much her presence pressed on his senses. He waited, but there was just silence beyond his music. So, he stopped and looked over to the window. He half-expected some kind of betrayal on her face, but she was merely confused and she wasn’t looking at him.
“Kibum was worried about you,” the middle-aged woman who stood by the door stated.
He knew why she stood there: so as not to scare the girl.
Now, the girl’s curious eyes turned to him and, this time, mixed with a bit of surprise.
“We can offer you a place to stay, all the food you could want,” the woman continued, speaking as if before her were a scared animal ready to bolt; “You can even go to school, if you wish.”
Now, the girl’s eyes narrowed, suspicion lighting them as she turned back to look at the woman; “Why?”
The woman blinked, obviously never thinking to be questioned.
“No one does anything for free, selflessly. So, why would you offer me all of that?” The girl questioned and, when her gaze briefly flashed towards him, he saw betrayal now.
The woman nodded, as if deciding something and approving of it; “This building belongs to the Council and I am one of the Council Members. It is our job to protect the people of Japan. If you came to board here, you would be trained to, eventually, work for the Council also. Whether you want to do field or paper work is up to you, but either way, you will have a roof over your head, your belly will be full and you’ll be doing something good and worthwhile.”
Kibum didn’t even bat an eyelash. That had been the same speech he had been told a few years ago when he had been old enough to understand his life was not considered a normal boy’s life. Apparently, he had been boarding there since he was five, orphaned after a plane crash. He remembered nothing of his family and, yet, there were moments when he saw flashes of things he desperately wanted to be memories.
He broke from his reverie when he realized she was staring at him again, as if trying to pull his thoughts from his mind. He raised a brow at her in silent questioning and she gave a small, curt nod as if they had truly spoken to one another. Before she turned to the woman and accepted the offer, he saw something in her eyes he never thought to see in another person: Trust.
“My name is Jo Kyuri.”
He silenced the gasp that rose to his lips.
Korean? Like him?
12 & 13
No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope, you were there to remind me
This is the start
He heard the muffled yelling and increased the pace in his steps down the corridor, trying to drown her out with distance. Escaping into the music room, he briefly pressed his back against the door, letting out a soft sigh of relief. Practically lunging for his haven, for the comfort of the piano, he settled onto the bench, closed his eyes and gently touched his fingertips to the keys. Without pressing them down, he sat, breathing deeply to relax his entire body, knowing the music flowed better, allowed his emotions to leave him easier if his tension didn’t keep it locked up. He picked a random piece from his memory and his fingers began to dance along the keys, plucking the music from the instrument, filling the room with the warm comfort.
His life used to be easy and simple before she walked past his window.
He had gotten her into the Council. He had gotten her safe and sound. That should have been the end of their association. That should have been the last of the responsibility he felt towards her. And, yet, he saw her every day for the past year and a half. Indeed, not a day went by when they didn’t speak at least once to one another. And, even though he would never admit it out loud, whenever he entered a room with others about, he instinctively sought her out, just needing the sight of her to ease his discomfort around other people. It was annoying having to rely on someone. It was even more annoying having to feel like he had to watch out for her.
He got her into the Council, but she had decided to become a field agent. That meant whenever he did see her, he was subtly checking for any signs of injuries. That meant whenever he heard that a ranking match was being held and she was participating, he had to be there to make sure she survived. Later, when he began to realize she could hold her own against the other newer trainees, he began to attend ranking matches to make sure she won. He had learned early on in their association how proud she secretly was and he knew a loss would cut through her as it did no one else. He felt his lips curling into a scowl. Whether it was from the anxiety he felt over her or from the fact that she could entice anxiety in him, he wasn’t sure.
The door opened and closed as fiercely as if a whirlwind had entered. In truth, he could call her that.
Despite her loud disturbance, there wasn’t a single hitch or hesitance in his playing. He heard her soft footsteps as she crossed the room. Even though his eyes were closed, he knew where she was every time she was near. She plopped down on the ground against the wall beneath the window where she used to walk by every day. He could even picture her poster, her legs stretched out before her, crossed at the ankle as her arms were crossed tightly over her chest as her face was scrunched up in anger.
He recalled the calm, cool indifference she had shown in the beginning. He had been surprised – he would never admit being pleasantly surprised – at how quick her temper actually was and how volatile her emotions could be. He associated her earlier control with being homeless and hungry. So, despite the noise and raucous she brought to his environment, he was… content? Happy? … He was fine if it meant she was no longer worried about where she would sleep that night or where she’d find her next meal.
It was a few moments before he realized he had finished playing the song, so deeply entrenched in his thoughts that he hadn’t even begun another song. He quickly scanned his memory for another song, and, yet, that annoyance – that he still refused to name curious – was eating away at him.
Slowly, he loosely folded his arms about his torso. Opening his eyes, but looking straight ahead instead of looking at her, he asked, simply, “What happened this time?”
“Apparently after the ranking match yesterday, the trainers decided to up my level as a trainee,” Kyuri spat the words bitterly.
Now, he couldn’t help himself, wanting to see the emotions play on her face. He turned to look down at her and was startled to see that, although her words were hostile and resentful, her expression was worried and tense.
“That’s a good thing,” Kibum reminded gently, “For a trainee, going up a level is a good thing. Or have you forgotten that?”
She shook her head.
When she divulged nothing else, Kibum barely had time to even contemplate whether or not to question her further before his mouth got ahead of his brain; “Then, why are you upset?”
He watched as her fingers dug into the opposite arm and he knew that if her lip wasn’t already raw and red, she’d be chewing on her lower lip; the reason her lips were in their current state. He waited, unprepared for the building concern that increased with ever silent second that passed. When she spoke again, he silently released the breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding.
“I’ve been raised more than just one level… I’ve been raised up to the same level as yours,” she said, her voice suddenly very quiet,
“I still don’t understand how this is an ordeal for you,” Kibum replied, his tone even, “I may be only a year older than you, but I’m a very advanced level for my age.”
“But, that means we’ll be training in the same group every day,” she stated, looking up to lock gazes with him.
He raised a brow in a silent question.
“You hate me,” her words sounded like a challenge and her expression said the same. Her eyes, however, told a different story.
‘No, Kibum!’ He scolded, ‘Don’t care! Don’t you dare give a damn!’
And, yet, even as he tried to convince himself she was nothing more than another one of the many trainees at the Council, he couldn’t help but notice the vulnerability and hurt in her dark eyes.
‘Why should I care? I’ve known her a year and a half and yet I don’t even know a damn thing about her!’
And, yet, he knew plenty about her. He knew that she had been born in Korea, but had moved to Japan shortly after. He knew that she was raised by foster parents even though her real parents were hale and whole in Korea. He knew that the reason she had been living in a shelter was because her foster parents had abandoned her on her eleventh birthday and, when she had gone to Korea to try and talk to her parents, they had sent her back to Japan without even listening to her.
‘She knows nothing of me!’
He struggled with his thoughts as he forgot himself in her eyes.
‘I… I can’t abandon her like everyone else…’
“I don’t hate you,” Kibum said finally, quietly, as he looked away from the loneliness immediately dispelling from her unwavering gaze,
“But… they say you hate everyone,” Kyuri stammered,
“To hate someone means they can affect my life, can influence my emotions. So, no, I don’t hate everyone. They’re barely even in my radar to acknowledge their presence,” Kibum said.
When she remained silent, he suddenly realized what his admission sounded like to her. He looked over at her immediately and tensed when he saw that her gaze had dropped to the floor, her chin practically touching her chest. Something ached in his chest and he had the urge to rub his palm against his sternum to alleviate it.
“When I say I don’t hate you, I don’t mean it in the same way I don’t have everyone else,” Kibum said, surprised that he had managed to keep his tone monotonous as always.
When she looked up at him, her gaze confused, he found himself wondering if her eyes were shinning because of the reflection of the ceiling lights or from unshed tears.
“I talk to you, don’t I?” He questioned, not meaning to sound as challenging as he did. He cleared his throat before speaking again, trying for an easier tone, “You don’t have to worry about being in my training group.”
The churning of the emotions he saw in her bright gaze made Kibum worry. She looked as if she understood what he said, as if she heard the words he didn’t say. It worried him more because even he didn’t know what he truly wanted to say to her.
He cleared his throat again as he hastily pulled his gaze away from hers. “Now, can I keep playing or do you have more pointless things to worry about?” Again, he silently cursed himself for snapping at her.
“Please, keep playing,” her voice was soft and warm.
When he began playing another song and she grew silence once more, Kibum was startled to realize the music didn’t comfort him as much as Kyuri’s voice had.
‘I’ll never let her be lonely again.’
14 & 15
And life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever, wonderful journey
I’ll be there when the world stops turning
I’ll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you
She had lost sight of him almost immediately after they were given the command to narrow in on the target. Just as she ran with a burst of speed, before the voice from her earpiece even stopped speaking, she had turned her head just enough to see him, but he was no longer where he had been. It was a just past midnight and the cloud cover would make any thief high on euphoria. It was fitting, considering their target was a thief. After all, what was a vampire if not a thief of life and blood?
She barely registered the cold that had penetrated her skin hours ago, barely registered as her fingers felt like ice now seeped into the marrow of her bones. Her boots had kept her warm since she and the other Hunters had left Headquarters several hours ago to begin the mission; her first mission. As she was now running through a forest, the ground covered in several inches of snow, she wished she had worn warmer socks even though her boots kept her dry.
When she saw movement ahead, she immediately ducked to the side, halting and pressing her shoulder against the trunk of a tree. She swiftly, silently moved her hand to the holster at her hip to grip her gun at the ready. When she realized the pain it caused her to bend her fingers, she silently scolded herself for not wearing gloves.
‘Kibum always said my arrogance would make me pay one day,’ Kyuri thought bitterly, deciding almost immediately that when they returned from the mission she wouldn’t let him know how right he had been about her regretting having no gloves.
She usually relished whenever Kibum had brief flashes of emotion, but smugness was not one of her favourites.
Once she was sure she had a firm grip on her gun – ‘Damn it! Don’t tell me my skin is sticking to the cold metal!’ – she shifted her weight ever so slightly to peer around the tree.
She saw her – ‘It! It! It’s no longer a human! It’s a vampire!’ – then, dressed in a long pea-coat and a thick scarf wrapped several times around its neck and lower face. It stood almost still, except its face was titled towards the sky, slowly moving back and forth as if sniffing the air.
Kyuri swallowed hard. It couldn’t smell her, could it? She slowly raised her free hand to press her palm firmly against her breast, as if she worried that it could hear her heart beating.
She shifted just a little more to get a better visual on the vampire and she barely stifled a gasp when she realized it was no longer there. She turned back to lean fully against the tree again, confused when something was suddenly jammed against her neck beneath her jaw, crushing her wind pipe.
She tried to raise her gun, but the vampire had her arm sealed between their bodies. As she stared into its eyes, Kyuri had to remind herself over and over again that what she was facing was a vampire, not a person. When it snarled, its lips pulling back to reveal its fangs, she suddenly thrashed even harder against its hold, adrenaline shooting through her system like a drug.
She blinked several times as her vision blurred and her lids grew heavy. Her free hand, which was still against her chest, was now pressing painfully against her sternum and she knew that if she lived, she would wake up to a purpled chest.
‘No! I will live!’
Black dots appearing in her vision as the vampire pressed even harder against her throat, Kyuri used the last of her strength to pull the trigger of her gun, hopping to hit something even though it was aimed at the ground.
It was getting hard to keep fighting.
A second shot.
The vampire finally drew back in a howl of pain. As Kyuri gasped gulps of air, she saw blood staining the pristine snow as the vampire stumbled backwards at the unexpected wound. Using her free arm to steady herself against the tree trunk, she weakly raised her gun to point at the vampire’s chest. Her vision hadn’t completely recovered yet and her arm was shaking from the cold, from the need of oxygen.
A third shot, but it had not been from her.
The vampire dropped to the ground almost at the same time that Kyuri did, collapsing against the tree trunk. She looked up to see a dark shadow closing in on the vampire and two more shots were heard, the vampire’s limp body jolting with each impact of human metal. When the shadow then came towards hers, she felt instant relief.
“I…” she began, her voice still unsteady as she tried to calm her once-starved lungs. Finally, she said with a slight, helpless shrug, “Kibum,” she offered a rueful smile.
He squatted down before her, drawing off his gloves, “The moment we get back to Headquarters and you can feel all your body parts and can breathe again, you better have enough breath to tell me I was right,” his tone was even, his words softly scolding.
Even though she knew he was upset with her, she couldn’t help but feel happy when he gently pulled his gloves onto her numb hands. She couldn’t help the giddiness when he carefully peeled her fingers from her gun, the soft swear of reprimand leaving his lips when he realized her once-warm skin had become like glue to the cold metal. Even though he continued muttering and swearing and, even though she could’ve died just moments ago, she felt contentment sweep through her from the care and gentleness in which he handled her.
When he stood to help her up, he swore again and Kyuri just barely stifled the laughter that bubbled up. When she was suddenly hauled up in his arms and she had to wrap an arm around his shoulders to steady herself, she looked at him, startled,
“Do you not even know when you’re injured?” He scowled at her, his expression subtly detailed as the clouds began to shift and allow silvery moonlight to greet the frozen earth.
Kyuri blinked and then looked along her body to take stock. In the darkness, however, she only realized what was happening when she saw dark liquid sliding along her boot and drops falling to the ground, staining it. She swallowed hard.
“I shot my foot, didn’t I?” She asked, finally,
“Yes, and I’ll shoot the other one if it keeps you at Headquarters long enough to learn something!” He hissed angrily, his face finally contorting with emotion.
Kyuri wasn’t sure if she should be happy that he was showing emotion or angry that he was lashing out at her. Again.
Almost immediately, she settled on the latter, “It was my first mission. I think I’m allowed some mistakes –”
“Mistakes that could’ve cost you your life!” He snapped, “How many times have I told you that your arrogance would get your hurt? Well, tonight, it could have very well gotten you killed!”
Kyuri stared, perplexed as he suddenly looked away, taking several deep breaths as if to calm himself. Before he had looked away, she was sure she had seen pain cross his expression, wiping away the anger. But, why would he be in pain? Surely he hadn’t gotten hurt. He certainly didn’t move like he was injured.
Before she could contemplate further, the other Hunters reached them.
“Ah, we’ve been showed up by the rookies,” one of the Hunters said good-naturedly, “But this old dog isn’t ready to roll over just yet! So, who bagged the beast?”
Kyuri opened her mouth to answer, but Kibum was faster, “We both did. I shot it, but Kyuri distracted it long enough for me to do so. Team effort.”
“Team effort?” Another Hunter repeated, “I like the sound of that. Always makes my job easier when rookies are team players right from the start.”
Kyuri watched as another Hunter carelessly picked up the vampire, throwing it over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes to carry away for disposal.
“The only thing worse than an unseasoned Hunter is an arrogant one,” the other Hunter continued as if what they did was a normal thing.
The first Hunter fell into step with Kyuri and Kibum as they all slowly trudged through the wintry forest, “What happened to you, Taiyou?”
It took Kyuri a moment to registered it was her code name the Hunter had said, “A… just a gunshot wound,” she shrugged with nonchalance. She knew once she regained feeling in her cold extremities, she would be ready to kill for pain medication.
“Don’t tell me Tsuki shot you!” One of the Hunters ahead of them called back,
“Accidents are bound to happen. What matters is one learns from them,” Kibum replied evenly, neither confirming nor denying the charge and, yet, Kyuri knew he had purposefully been elusive; wanted to allude to what they both knew was a lie.
“Ah, making sure you don’t shoot your partner is another part of team effort, Tsuki,” the Hunter chuckled,
Kyuri looked at Kibum then. Slowly, his gaze slid to lock with hers. She gave him a small, curt nod, hoping he understood. She realized why he lied for her, startled to find out that he knew how much her pride meant to her. He protected her pride, knowing that any attack against it would send her back into the dark, lonely abyss she crawled out of just over three years ago.
Tentatively, she leaned against his chest, bringing her cheek to rest against his shoulder. She felt him tense for a moment, but he remained silent and tightened his arms beneath her body.
‘Partner? Yeah… I’ll never be able to trust anyone else in a mission.’
She closed her eyes, lulled by the movement of his gait.
‘He’ll protect me and, hopefully, one day I can protect him, too.’
15 & 16
We were strangers on a crazy adventure
Never dreaming how our dreams would come true
Now here we stand, unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you
He walked into the music room and forced himself not to run back out.
Kibum had searched for her since training ended and the last place he thought to come was the music room. She was only there when he was and, he had not been. He had been subtly running around looking for her. Yet, there she was. Kyuri sat on the bench, hunched over. The cover was down over the piano keys and, from what he could see, she had her arms crossed over top, her cheek against her arms and had fallen asleep. As he silently closed the door behind him, he had to stop and lean his back against the door for strength.
That wasn’t an even good enough word. The afternoon sunlight streamed into the room, hitting her at just an angle, the rays probably warm against her cheek but not touching high enough on her face to rouse her closed eyes. The urge to just lean against the door and watch her sleep was battling with the urge to walk over to her and brush the stray hairs that fell across her forehead.
She had teased his curiosity and grabbed his attention from the first time they met. It was just before his 13th birthday when he finally acknowledged that ‘annoyance’ as curiosity. With her temper and emotions, she still managed to be private and secretive. With her easy smile and quick wit, she still seemed as sad and lonely as that fateful day four years ago. She had different sides to her that differed greatly from himself and, yet, her quiet side, her calm side, her lonely and sad side reflected his own. Instead of intensifying his own dark demons, however, Kyuri made him forget about them whenever she was near.
He had thought of her as thus for so long. Years, he could easily admit to himself. She had come into his life like an unexpected whirlwind and, when he anticipated chaos and destruction, he found her presence disruptive and, yet, steadying. She was a constant in his life. The events of the day could be unpredictable, but he knew that, whenever he escaped to the music room for solace, it wouldn’t be long before she joined him, a calming presence sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall beneath her window. He had long thought it as thus; her window. She was the constant in his life.
She was so beautiful it hurt his heart and made him blind with jealousy when others took notice. She made him want to take her into his arms and protect her from all the darkness in the world. She gave him peace when he hadn’t thought it ever possible. He was able to look back at his sordid past, his lonely childhood and not feel the need to escape to the music room. She made it possible for him to survive outside of training and the music. Lately, the only reason he still went to the music room once a day was because he knew they would be alone there and because he knew she liked to hear him play. He watched her furtively as he played and knew she found solace in the music as he once did. He had begun to hope that one day she wouldn’t need the music anymore because, instead, she would need him.
Suddenly, the need to be near her, to hear her voice, see her smile and feel her eyes on him grew too great. He pushed away from the door and strode across the polished, wooden floor to the piano, purposefully making his steps heavy so that they made noise. He saw the little muscles around her nose twitch as if her consciousness was being teased. Then, the rapid succession of her lashes fluttering as she fought against the seductive pull of sleep. By the time he was standing before her, she had stretched out her back, her hands reaching to the ceiling in a long, almost feline-like stretch. He almost stumbled when the sight caused his heart to forget to beat and his lungs to forget to breathe.
“You’re early,” he drawled, thrilled he had managed to keep his tone casual even as his heart was beating a rapid tattoo.
“You’re just late,” she replied with hauteur even as a small smile played on her lips and her eyes danced with sleepy amusement.
He stared down at her, suddenly at a loss for words.
He had known after the first few weeks of their acquaintance that he’d never be rid of her unless she was the one to leave him. He had begun to regard her as a sort of friend at that point. He had never had one before, so why not her? After he realized he wasn’t actually annoyed by her, he knew he had come to care for her – as a friend, of course. After their first mission together – her first mission as a Hunter – he realized that his regard towards her was a little more than platonic. Lately, he was beginning to acknowledge that he was falling for his friend; his best friend.
At that moment, however, he realized he had been wrong all those years.
Staring down at her, drinking up the expression she bestowed upon him, he gladly, silently, admitted he had been wrong for the past four years.
He loved her and had loved her ever since he could call her a friend.
“Go on a date with me,” He drawled, his emotions bursting so much that they got caught in his throat and his usual monotonous tone and schooled expression prevailed. He felt so exposed with the revelation he had been in love with his friend for the past four years and, instinctively, he had to shield some part of him.
“I…” Kyuri’s expression was immediately wiped clean as she blinked up at him, startled and confused; “Wait… what did you just say?”
“Go on a date with me,” he repeated and, then, hastily cleared his throat to repeat, “Will you go on a date with me?”
“You want to go on a date with me?” Her tone was pure disbelief and her expression reflected as much,
Kibum tried to form the words, but, eventually, he just nodded, his tongue feeling swollen and clumsy in his mouth.
“But… I thought you hated me,” she said,
He scowled then, “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t hate you?”
“Sorry, I don’t mean it like that… I mean… I know you don’t hate me, but… you really don’t hate me?” She gaped,
Kibum swallowed again. Why was his mouth so dry? “I…” he cleared his throat, his voice sounding like a frog’s, “I… really, really… really don’t hate you.”
Her eyes widened even more, “I never… I don’t under… but… since when?”
He tried to look away, but he was far gone in her enchanting, dark eyes; “Um… awhile, now…”
“Awhile being, what? A few days? Months? Weeks?” She questioned, her voice panicked, her eyes startled; “What does ‘awhile’ mean?”
He could tell by her expression and voice that she was getting scared. Because of her childhood, he knew it was almost impossible for her to trust. He had a feeling it was still impossible for her to believe in others, in herself… in happiness. He had a feeling that she would run for the door if she could make it there before him. Kibum had the distinct feeling of moving to block the window, too.
“Awhile meaning… since day one,” he somehow managed to say, tensing to get ready to chase if she bolted from his admission.
Kibum swallowed hard, hoping his face remained expressionless. Was that sweat he felt on his forehead? Surely his hands weren’t shaking? As subtly as he could, he slipped both hands into his pant pockets just to be safe.
She was silent for so long, her gaze unwavering as always and he felt as if she was reading right through his defences, seeing his soul and understanding it as he never did. Could she tell how much he loved her? Surely she could hear his heart hammering against his ribs? Has she noticed that I’ve stopped breathing?
“Yes,” she nodded as if to emphasize her answer. Then, emotion slowly swept over her face as her lips curved into the soft, small smile he came to crave and her dark eyes lit in a way that made him want to drown in them.
He knew then that he would love Kyuri until the day he died and into eternity.
16 & 17
I knew there was somebody somewhere
Like a light in the dark
Now I know that dreams will live on
I’ve been waiting so long
Nothing’s gonna tear us apart
She was pissed off.
No, no. Correction. She was furious.
She sat in the infirmary, arms crossed over her chest, one knee crossed over the other and the foot that was firmly on the ground was bouncing in equal intervals on the ball of her foot. She was still dressed in the black clothes she had worn for the mission: leggings that disappeared into her running shoes; a fitted tank top and leather, fingerless gloves. The sweater she had worn was now draped over the back of her chair. Her hair was still messily but firmly pulled back into a ponytail high on her head and the perspiration that had once coated her skin had finally dried.
The mission had been a success – barely. But, still, she was furious and very ready to kill the sleeping person in the bed by which she sat.
“Damn it, Kibum,” she hissed in the dim room, regretting in the back of her mind of having not shut the door when she entered. She didn’t want the infirmary staff – all employees of the Council – to hear what she had to say and she certainly didn’t want word getting back to the other Hunters.
“When I tell you to run, you fucking run!” Her voice was a low growl now, her nails of one hand biting into the bare skin of her other bicep; “You don’t stand there protecting me. If I was one of those girls who needed protection, I’d let you know!”
She jumped to her feet then, too antsy to remain sitting. She glared down at him, his face relaxed as if sleeping, yet she knew it was the pain medication that had sedated him. The sheets were loosely drawn up to just below his shoulders, but she knew beneath his torso was clad in only bandages that hugged his abdomen, keeping him in one piece after the surgeons extricated several bullets. She also knew that, once the medications wore off, he’d want to rip off his leg, having taken another two bullets to the side of his knee. All from an effort to keep her safe as she reloaded their guns.
They had been ambushed; the first time vampires had teamed up against the Hunters. When they had cornered their target, having gotten there before their other team mates, they had been unprepared for the two more vampires who had appeared behind them. Just in time, Kibum had whirled around so his back was to hers. She heard a body drop behind her, knowing Kibum had killed one vampire with one bullet. She had finished the target with one bullet, too.
However, in that time, she had heard more gunshots. Vampires with guns; another new discovery of the night. If she had counted right, a maximum of two had hit Kibum before the first of his vampires had fallen. The third vampire fired more bullets into Kibum. She turned to get a visual, quickly reloading her gun. She heard, rather than saw one bullet had managed to hit the barrel of Kibum’s gun. She was sure that combined with the pain he surely must be feeling from getting hit had allowed for the gun to fly from his slackened grip.
Kibum stretched out his arms to become a shield for Kyuri, knowing her one shot had been her last. More fire and she felt the slight jerks of his body as he strained against them. She could practically hear him gritting his teeth together, fighting back a scream as he fell to his knees. He struggled to stand, and Kyuri cocked her gun just as two more shots were fired and he fell to the ground.
Without any more thought or reason, running on adrenaline and instinct, she fired all of the rounds into the vampire, knowing her aim was true and all bullets had pierced its black heart.
She had dropped to Kibum’s side then, calling into her mouth piece the coordinates of their location for their team mates to join them. She informed them that Kibum was done and they needed medical help immediately. Her tirade of commands was suddenly halted when a trembling, cold hand touched her cheek. When it pulled away glistening in the moon light, she realized she was crying.
Kyuri, whirled around to face Kibum, having been pacing furiously as she recalled how he had obtained all of his injuries.
“You don’t get to die protecting me, Kibum,” she stated, stomping to his bedside and glaring down at him.
She paused, her heavy breathing the only sound aside from the soft beeping of the heart monitor.
“You don’t get to be a hero and then fucking become a martyr and accept death!” She yelled, suddenly not caring who heard her.
“You don’t get to tell me you love…” She choked down a sob, hissing a breath through her teeth as she pushed the cry away, “You don’t get to tell me you love me and then die. You just… you just don’t!.” She furiously wiped at her tears with her forearm before pointing an angry finger down at him, “I hope you know it doesn’t count when you say those words when you’re dying. I swear, Kibum, if you die thinking those words count, I’ll hate you forever! Dying-induced “I love you’s” don’t count!”
She slowly crumbled, just catching the edge of the chair so she didn’t fall to the ground. Her hands fisted into the sheets, her face burying against them as the burning tears refused to stop, casting trails down her cheeks that threatened for permanence.
“You better fucking live to say those words again, Kibum,” she whispered, her growl become a plea.
She gingerly picked up his hand, watching his expression for any signs she may be causing him pain. His hand wasn’t as cold as it had been before, but it still felt cool against her cheek as she pressed it there as if wanted him to know she cried at his bedside. She turned to press her lips against his palm before leaning her cheek against it once more.
“I didn’t even get to tell you that I love you,” she murmured, her words wavering under the power of her sobs.
She bit down on her lower lip, tasting her own blood as she tried desperately to swallow the cries that violently shook through her body. She clenched her eyes shut, unable to keep them open as her tears burned like fire. She relished in the feel of his hand against her cheek, needing some part of him touching her as if he held the side of her face. She needed the physical connection to convince herself he wasn’t dying; convince herself he was still there.
She choked on a sob and a gasp as she felt the baby hairs by her temple move. She struggled to remain still as she felt his fingers move against her temple again, threading through her tied hair as if meaning to bury themselves there.
She swiped at her eyes again as she opened them, her heart stammering as she found him watching her. His eye lids were partly open and they seemed heavy for him, but she saw the recognition, the consciousness in his gaze.
“You’re… alive,” she somehow managed before her torso fell forward, her face burying against the mattress beside his bare chest.
She felt his fingers thread determinedly, albeit weakly, through her hair and the gentle tugging. She raised her head, tugging her chair closer to his bed as she looked at him, silently asking him what he wanted. With the soft press of his hand, she allowed him to guide her head down until she laid her cheek against his chest, her face tilted towards his,
“You… told me… not to die,” he muttered weakly, “Actually… you commanded it.”
“Thank you for listening to me,” she said as she turned her head just enough to nuzzle against his chest,
“And when I said that I… when I said…”
She raised her head enough to catch his eyes, staring at him in the dimness of the room, patiently waiting.
“When I said… those words,” she saw frustration flash through his eyes, “They… most certainly… counted.”
Now that he was conscious, her overwhelming fear was spilling into her anger, needing to channel her emotions somehow. Her eyes narrowed, “They do not!”
“Knew… wasn’t… dying,” he managed, his voice getting softer and softer,
“Really? Because it certainly sounded like a goodbye to me!” She growled softly,
His thumb slowly, weakly wiped at the stream of tears on her cheek. Then she felt that gentle tugging of his fingers in her hair again. Understanding what he intended, she shifted her body over him to help him, leaning over as their lips met.
When she settled against him, laid on her side carefully on the upper part of the bed, her knee which was on the mattress was curled mindful of not going near his wrapped abdomen. Her other leg had managed to tug the chair closer so her other leg could rest against the armrests. She had her lower arm curled around his, her hand holding his since his grip was still weak. Her upper arm was draped protectively across his chest. Her neck was bowed, her head beside his on the pillow.
She closed her eyes, feeling peace and contentment for the first time since they were ambushed. She felt the pillow shift slightly as he turned his head and she felt the warm puffs of air from his lips against her brow.
“I know… I’m difficult… t’understand,” he whispered, his words slowly beginning to slur as he was enticed back to sleep; “But… meant when… say… love you.”
Kyuri opened her eyes then, startled to find that, while he was growing drowsy again, he stared at her clearly, his gaze unwavering and intense.
Kibum shifted his head slightly, brushing the tip of his nose against her brow in what she knew to be a sign of affection. When he stopped, he locked eyes with her once more.
“I… love you… Kyuri.”
Because of their positions, she couldn’t move her head closer to his. So, she pressed a kiss to his shoulder before looking into his eyes once more.
Never again would she let him suffer in her place. She had to become stronger, faster, better.
“I love you, Kibum.”
No. She had to become the strongest.
17 & 18
And life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever, wonderful journey
She had slept in. She didn’t even just sleep in, she had slept all day to the point where she had thought it was the early morning instead of the evening when she saw it was dark outside. She had slept in a ridiculous amount which meant she was now running through Headquarters to get to the meeting room at once. Her narrowed eyes and determined expression ensured that no one got in her way and, if they did, they quickly moved. She was a blur of black, the soles of her running shoes barely kissing the ground with each furious step. Somehow, the rubber still made enough traction to keep her going, allowing her to continue running, each kick off the ground accompanied with a burst of speed.
She had rounded a corner, her instincts immediately causing her to swivel on the ball of her foot to manoeuver around the other person who she would have otherwise collided into. Her eyes quickly swept upwards in subtle assessment.
‘A Chinese Hunter? Here?’
Before she could ponder on it more, she turned and continued on her mad dash.
She reached the meeting room, slamming the door closed behind her. Although she had been running, she had almost immediately regained her composure even as she willed her heart to slow down and her lungs to breath normally. Acknowledging the other team mates with a curt nod, her gaze narrowed on the one Hunter who wasn’t sitting at the table in the meeting room. Dressed in black slacks and a fitted shirt, he had his arms folded loosely about his torso.
Kibum was here, but she had slept in which meant he had let her sleep. He had snuck out without her.
“Have you all read over tonight’s mission?” She asked, scowling at Kibum once more before schooling her expression and addressing the other Hunters, approaching the table but remaining on her feet.
“Okay, we’ll leave in one hour.” She gave them a sharp look when the other Hunters had chimed in at the same time she had said ‘one hour’.
“Don’t look at us like that, Commander,” one of the Hunters, Kinomoto – code name Kin – leaned back in his leather chair, lacing his fingers behind his head; “Just because you were promoted a few months ago, doesn’t mean everything’s changed.”
Kyuri huffed as she adjusted the strap of her bag that crossed from her shoulder to her opposite hip horizontally; having struggled with it as she had ran from home to the Headquarters.
“After training together all those years, we know all your little quirks,” another Hunter, Kazemori – code name Kaze – reminded, “Although, you did level up faster than us and now that you’re a Head Hunter we’ve only just become Hunters.”
Kyuri rolled her eyes at his mock-resentful tone.
“Right, Kiito?” Kaze prompted, amusement in his tone as he addressed the Hunter seated across the table from him,
Hunter Kiito – code name Ki – glared at Hunter Kazemori before looking away, his fingers tapping out an irritated rhythm on the tabletop.
Kyuri blinked, “Am I forgetting something?” She looked at Kibum before remembering she was supposed to be mad at him. Throwing him another scowl, she looked back at the other Hunters.
“It was your match again Kiito that led to you being moved up from our level up to Kibum’s,” the only other female Hunter in the team said from her seat beside Hunter Kiito.
Kyuri ran her fingers through her hair as she neatly, tightly pulled her long locks back and tied her hair securely; “I completely forgot. That was so long ago… I was what? 13?”
“12,” Kibum’s monotone cut through the air,
Hunter Kiito immediately dropped his head, his forehead hitting the table top with a loud thud.
The female Hunter, Mizushima – code name Mizu – grinned as she patted Hunter Kiito’s head; “His male ego is just bruised. Don’t mind him.”
“Bruised? For the past five years?” Kyuri raised a brow as she turned slightly, leaning her waist against the edge of the table.
Hunter Kiito began to repeatedly hit his forehead against the table.
Kibum finally pushed away from the wall, shaking his head, “Okay, enough with the dramatics. You know how she likes to start a mission – leave in one hour. Meet at the garage.”
“Ah, this is our cue to leave the love birds alone,” Kinomoto grinned as he stood from his chair, slinging a bag over his shoulders.
Kazemori gently chucked Kyuri beneath the chin on his way to the door, “Don’t look so surprised, Commander,” he chuckled, using the nickname they affectionately gave Kyuri after she was promoted; “We knew for years and it was hard to ignore when you two moved in together.”
Kyuri blinked, “You know we moved in together?”
“The guys helped Kibum move his stuff to your apartment,” Mizushima explained as she picked up the black backpack where she kept her mission gear.
Kyuri turned and stared at her apartment-mate, “How come I never knew this?”
Kibum raised a single brow, “Did you really believe all these years that they never knew?”
“This is our big cue to leave,” Kinomoto gestured for the others to precede him as he held the door open for them.
Kinomoto winked at the two before leaving, closing the door softly behind him.
“For someone so damn smart, you can be pretty oblivious sometimes,” Kibum drawled as he drew closer, turning so he faced her, his back to the table as he leaned his hips back against the edge.
“How long have they known?” Kyuri questioned, eyes narrowed on him,
“Do you remember when I asked you to go on a date with me?” Kibum asked,
“Yeah, that was over two years ago,” Kyuri replied,
“January 17,” he confirmed
“You remember the actual date?” She blinked
“And you remember when we officially became a couple?” He ignored her question,
“Of course. March 17. Two years as of yesterday,” Kyuri answered, watching him confusedly,
“Yeah, well, at some point between those two dates – two years ago – is when they found out,” Kibum shrugged nonchalantly,
Kyuri’s eyes widened, “They’ve known for that long!?”
Kibum rolled his eyes, “I don’t even know why you’ve wanted to keep this relationship a secret all these years. By now, the entire Council knows.”
“I’m a very private person,” Kyuri defended, “No one realizes that you’re the one who does all the talking in this relationship.”
“I recall you being more vocal last night,” Kibum murmured,
Kyuri scowled even as she blushed and allowed him to pull her close. It had been their anniversary and they had both taken the day off.
“You really need to stop freaking out every time someone even hints or looks like they know we’re together,” Kibum stated, his hands slowly slipping from her hips to rest against the small of her back.
“I did not freak out,” she crossed her arms in an effort to keep some space between their bodies,
“The last time I saw you that scared it was your first mission and the vampire had you pinned to a tree,” Kibum raised a single brow, his gaze challenging as his face remained schooled. When she remained silent, he prompted, “Is there a reason why you’ve wanted to keep our relationship under wraps for so long?” When she said nothing again, he asked, “Is it because of me?”
Kyuri’s eyes widened before she blinked at him, “Of course, not!”
“Well, we’re not leaving this room until you talk,” Kibum said,
“But, I want to reread the mission! And, I want to re-confirm our co-ordinates! And –”
“And touch base with the lead Council Member for our mission. And take stock of your pack. And –”
“I know I can be anal about missions, but it’s only been a few months that I’ve been a Head Hunter and I don’t want anything to go wrong and –”
“Well, then you better talk quickly or we won’t be able to leave in,” Kibum glanced at his watch, “Forty-one minutes. And, then you’ll be in a bad mood.”
“I’ve been a bad mood since I realized it was night time when I woke up,” she snapped,
“You’re not allowed to be in a bad mood. You have bad moods when you wake up and it’s too early,” Kibum stated,
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” She demanded,
“Because the sun had already risen by the time we finally decided to sleep last night… well, this morning,” Kibum replied, the briefest hint of amusement in his dark eyes; “I wanted you to get enough rest for the mission.”
She scowled, “You make it hard to stay mad at you.”
“Why don’t you like people knowing we’re together?” Kibum asked, not deterred even as she finally leaned in closer to him, pressing her cheek against his shoulder.
“I’m scared,” she murmured, turning her head, pressing her closed eyes against the side of his neck.
“Scared of what?”
“Scared that this will end… that I’ll lose you,” she admitted,
“If I was easily moved to emotion, I’m sure I would be angry at that admission,” Kibum drawled, “Lose me? Where did you get that idea?”
“All of the people who should have been there for me… who should have been important to me… they all left me. My mother, my father, my b… everyone,” Kyuri explained,
“And I would leave you because?”
“Why did any of them leave me?” Kyuri countered, “I wasn’t good enough for –”
Kibum pressed his hand to her lips, silencing her before dropping his hand to hug her again, “No, Kyuri. They left because they weren’t good enough foryou.”
Kyuri uncrossed her arms to slip them around him, hugging him back, “If you ever leave me, I’m going to hunt you down and drag you back… after beating you up for leaving me.”
“I know,” Kibum replied solemnly. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, “You could always chain me to the bed. Then you’d never have to be scared again.”
“Don’t tempt me,” she muttered, hugging him even tighter.
“We now have thirty-four minutes until we meet the others to leave.”
Kyuri suddenly pushed away, scowling at Kibum and ran out of the meeting room, muttering that he was insatiable and just took away twenty-six minutes of her pre-mission planning time. Kibum was chuckling softly when Kyuri ran back in to give him a swift kiss on his chin before running off again.
18 & 19
I’ll be there when the world stops turning
I’ll be there when the storm is through
“Why didn’t you tell me you were offered a promotion?”
Kibum turned off the stove as he moved the contents of his pan onto a serving dish. He put the pan back onto the stove to cool and picked up the dish. He raised a brow at Kyuri as he walked around her to the dining table to put the dish down.
“Kibum? Are you ignoring me?”
“Not at all,” he replied as walked around her again, brushing a kiss to her cheek as he went, “I just didn’t think that the angry voice couldn’t possibly coming from my heart’s mouth and couldn’t possibly be directed towards me.”
“Well it was and – wait, your heart?” She blinked,
“That is what you are to me,” Kibum said, his voice as monotonous as always as he scooped steaming rice into two small bowls;
“I… stop distracting me with your endearments!” She snapped, putting her hands on her hips; “Why didn’t you tell me the Council wanted to make you a Head Hunter? And that you turned them down!?”
He slanted a look at her as he sidled past her again to put the rice on the table, “You never asked?”
“Kibum! Please, be serious!” She exclaimed, “This is big! You could’ve been a Head Hunter!”
“Love, if I’m offered a promotion, I assure you, I know what it’s for before turning it down,” Kibum replied as he came back to her, pressing a kiss to her lips and gently moving her out of the archway before continuing back to the kitchen, “I am listening to you, but I’m trying to get dinner set.”
“Well, then why did you – another endearment?” She shook her head, “Why did you turn it down?”
“I didn’t want to accept it,” Kibum replied with a slight shrug of his shoulders as he took out utensils, closing the drawer by hitting it with his hip before walking back to the dining table.
“But, why not?” She questioned, finally slipping off her bag and letting it fall to the ground. “You could be more than just another Hunter! You could have your own team! Plan your own strategies around missions!”
“I never said I wanted those things,” Kibum said as he went back to the kitchen, this time for drinking glasses,
“But… then why did you train so hard? Why did you level up faster than anyone else?” Kyuri asked, “I may have reached your level when I was 12, but you still leveled faster than me. If you didn’t aim for being a Head Hunter, then, why?”
Kibum sighed heavily as he walked over to her, turned to face her and leaned back against the side of the archway. He folded his arms loosely about his torso.
“Do you want the answer? Do you think you can handle the truth?”
Kyuri blinked. She moved to lean back against the other side of the archway, mirroring his posture by crossing her arms; “Yeah.”
“Are you sure? It’s going to be real intense and make you want to run away because you don’t want to chance being hurt again,” Kibum said, his tone even as always,
Kyuri narrowed her eyes, “Yes, I’m sure. I’m not going anywhere.”
“At first, I trained because I had nothing else in my life. I knew nothing else,” Kibum began,
“What changed?” She asked quietly, although she was sure she knew the answer, her heart beginning to race in anticipation,
The smallest hint of a smile tugged at his lips and, for the barest moment, Kyuri forgot what they were talking about, losing herself in one of Kibum’s rare shows of emotion.
“You, Kyuri,” he said softly, even his tone was warm; “You came into my life and, suddenly, training wasn’t anything.”
“But, you trained even harder,” Kyuri replied,
“I had to stay at least one step ahead of you,” Kibum admitted, “I had to make sure that I could protect you. I had to make sure that I could clear the way for you. Your life had already been so hard and, from the moment I found out you were living in a shelter, I knew I wanted to make your life easier.”
Kyuri felt as if her heart had lodged itself in her throat, could feel the hot sting of tears as she fought the urge to cry. When she spoke, her voice was hoarse, “What… what if I chose not to be a field agent. What if had I taken the desk-route in the Council? You had already been training for two years by the time I came into the Council.”
“I would have switched paths,” Kibum replied. When Kyuri raised a brow, he amended, “Not immediately. I didn’t realize what you meant to me immediately. But, as soon as I realized it, I would have switched paths.”
“Really?” Kyuri asked, clearing her throat when her voice was still hoarse,
His lip curled just a fraction more, slowly drawing closer to a smile, “Really.”
“But, that still doesn’t answer why you turned down the promotion,” Kyuri said, feeling some relief when the threat of tears retreated and her heart seemed to no longer be choking her,
“Tell me again what would happen if I became a Head Hunter,” Kibum said, the small hint of a smile still on his lips,
Kyuri blinked, confused as she repeated, “You’d have your own team and you’d be able to plan the strategies for all your missions.”
“And if I had my own team, then I wouldn’t be able to be on yours anymore,” Kibum replied.
Kyuri’s lips parted on a silent gasp. When Kibum reached out and pulled her across the archway to him, she looked up at him, “Kibum?”
“When you finally became a Hunter – just a few months after me – I requested to be on the same team when you were picked for your first mission,” Kibum confessed, wrapping one arm around her waist to pull her firmly and securely against him as his other hand rose to cup the side of her face, his thumb affectionately brushing back and forth over her bottom lip; “I wanted to be on every one of your missions.”
“To protect me? Because I need protecting?” She raised a brow. She still didn’t handle her emotions well. She found it easier and less vulnerable to deal with anger.
“Yes, to protect you. And, no, you don’t need protecting. You can protect yourself,” Kibum answered. His thumb stilled on her lip; “But, I happen to have this caveman-like, overwhelming desire to protect you. Always. At all times. And, whenever you’re not with me, I can’t help but constantly think about you. Where are you? Are you okay? Are you safe? Have you eaten? Did you get enough sleep?”
“Yup… I think I’m the reincarnation of a knight in shining armor and a caveman,” Kibum said, his words seeming sarcastic since his tone had been flat, but his eyes shone with emotion. “I wanted to stay a step ahead, but when you became a Head Hunter first, I knew the only way for me to stay with you was to deny the offers.”
Kyuri blinked, “Offers? Plural?”
Kibum’s gaze slid away, “Yes, more than one… over the past few months.”
“I only became a Head Hunter first because when you got hurt, I decided I had to get better in every way so I could protect you,” Kyuri admitted,
“Which time? I’ve gotten hurt more than once,” Kibum reminded drily,
“When you took several bullets protecting me…” Kyuri reached up, framing his face with both of her hands; “When I thought for sure you were going to die.”
“Ah, but then you ordered me to live and, by then, I had known for years that I would always do whatever it took to make you happy,” Kibum reminded,
“I vowed to become number one… vowed that I would protect you the way you had always protected me,” Kyuri said, her voice impossibly soft; “But, if you want to be a Head Hunter, I will gladly step down so you can take the lead. Then, we can stay on the same team.”
Kibum shook his head, “I’d rather protect you from behind. You can take the lead and take care of what’s in front of you. I’ll protect your back and be there to catch you if you fall.”
Kyuri leaned up and brushed a kiss to his lips; “Are you sure you don’t want the promotion?”
“I’m sure that I just want to be with you on every mission. I don’t need a promotion to do that,” Kibum replied. “I told you, love, that I would do whatever it takes to make you happy. Keep you happy.”
“Would you cook for me?” Kyuri asked,
“Darling, I already do that,” Kibum said,
“Humbly take orders from me but challenge me when the need arises?” Kyuri asked,
“I already do the former and I’ve done the latter since the day we met,” Kibum answered, his lips curling into even more of a smile,
“Fly on an airplane?” She inquired, her tone innocent,
Kibum sighed heavily, looking up at the ceiling as if seeking divine guidance, “If your happiness meant I’d have to fly on a plane, then, I would.” His gaze snapped back to hers, “But only a limited amount of times a year!”
“How about buying a dog?” She prompted,
Kibum scowled for the briefest of moments before his face was wiped of emotion, “Don’t. Even. Joke.”
“But, yes for the airplane?” She asked again,
“Yes… what are you getting at?” Kibum asked simply,
“I got a request to go to Korea,” Kyuri explained, “It came to my private correspondence rather than through the Council, but a Head Hunter from the Korean branch requested my help.”
“And you want to accept?” Kibum asked, a peculiar light entering his eyes.
“It’s an intriguing request; even more so that it didn’t come through the Council,” Kyuri replied, “My curiosity is piqued,”
“And it has nothing to do with the fact that your parents are in Korea? That you haven’t been back since you were 11?” Kibum prompted gently,
Kyuri shook her head, “I don’t need them. But, I feel like I should accept the request. It must be important. Why did they request a Head Hunter from our branch? Why not their own? Why did it come to me directly?”
“It could be dangerous,” Kibum said, “We’ll be in a setting we know nothing about. It seems like there are a lot of variables we don’t know.” He raised a brow, “You sure it has nothing to do with the potential to see your parents?”
“They mean nothing to me,” she insisted; “I have everything I could ever want right here… With you… In you.”
“Well, as it so happens, my curiosity has been enticed, too,” Kibum said. “When do we pack our bags?”
Kyuri grinned up at him, pressing another kiss to his lips, “Right now?”
Kibum rolled his eyes, “And if I had refused to get on a plane?”
“I would have gone and you would’ve followed anyway,” Kyuri said smugly as she gently pulled away from his embrace; “So, you might as well just come with me from the get-go.” She grinned then, plucking some pieces of food from the dish on the dining table and popping them into her mouth; “To think that the great Kim Kibum is scared of riding on an airplane.”
“No, no – I’m not scared of riding the plane. I’m scared of when the plane decides to stop being in the air and we go plummeting to the ground,” Kibum defended as he grabbed her hand, bringing her fingers to his lips to lick the tips clean.
“Well, then, I love you all the more for facing your fears to make me happy,” Kyuri said as she retrieved her fingers from his mouth. She touched her forefinger to his chin; “I love you, Kim Kibum.”
He grabbed her hand again, but only to keep her still as he leaned down and kissed her full on the lips; “And you, Jo Kyuri, are the love of my life.”
Kyuri forgot to breathe at his words and the love she saw in his eyes. “You always know just what to say.” She leaned up and brushed her lips against his jaw and then pulled away to go to their bedroom and begin packing.
“But, my timing seems to be very bad,” Kibum said quietly to himself as he watched her disappear into their room.
He slipped his hand into his pocket and withdrew a small, velvet box. He regarded it thoughtfully, his gaze sliding to the special dinner he had planned and cooked. He opened the lid, a small sapphire and two diamonds winking at him from the silver band in which they were embedded.
“Kibum?” She called out from the bedroom.
He hastily closed the box and slipped it back into his pocket. He would give it to her, eventually. Just not tonight.
“Yes, my dear soul?”
“I feel like you have a list of endearments and the more you want to soften me up, the more names on the list you’ll use,” Kyuri said as she came to the bedroom doorway at the sound of his approaching footsteps.
She leaned against the doorframe, tilted her head to the side to rest against the frame as she regarded him, slowly reaching her.
“I don’t need help softening you up,” Kibum scoffed and, then, added in a soft growl, “Keeper of my heart.”
Kyuri was leaning against the doorframe now to keep herself upright. His words weakened her like nothing else, her heart beating painfully from the overwhelming wave of emotions that crashed through her.
“Dearest heart,” Kibum’s voice was soft, warm as he stopped directly before her.
“We need to pack,” Kyuri tried to say firmly, but there was no conviction and she was staring at him like a woman starved,
“I know,” Kibum said as he reached out and drew her flush against him, pressing kisses along her brow; “But, if I’m going to be riding a plane, then I want some compensation. Indeed, I’m demanding compensation.”
Kyuri smiled up at him teasingly even as her eyes fluttered close, “I thought my happiness would be compensation enough.”
“Not enough for a plane ride,” Kibum murmured as he reached down and picked her up, his arms crossed securely beneath her bottom,
“How about for a dog?” Kyuri laughed, staring down at him as she propped her forearms on his shoulders to steady herself,
“That will take at least one week’s worth of compensation,” Kibum said as he moved until her back pressed against the doorframe,
“I wasn’t kidding when I said we need to pack,” Kyuri said seriously, but her pupils were dilating as she dug her knees over his hips, locking him to her,
“I just cooked you dinner and you’re not even thinking about eating it. After slaving in the kitchen, I believe I should get compensation before I get on the plane… then, compensation after the plane since I actually rode the plane,” Kibum murmured against her lips,
Kyuri wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling back to look clearly at him, “Kibum… I might want to see my b… my family just a little bit.”
“I thought as much,” he shrugged, his tone lightly smug. He leaned in to kiss the tip of her nose; “Then, we’ll try to see them.”
“My parents are really good at not seeing me,” Kyuri stated, “The only time they see me is to make sure I come back to Japan.”
“Then, we’ll make sure every customs officer we meet knows your name, raise some red flags and, maybe we can draw your parents to us,” Kibum insisted,
Kyuri tightened her arms, to draw him close. She turned her head to press her lips against his ear, “I’m scared,” she whispered, her voice wavering as her body began to subtly shake.
Kibum stepped back away from the doorframe, but he kept her in place, his arms tightening against the backs of her thighs, “I’ll be with you ever step of the way. Whatever happens, I’ll be there.”
“Am I wrong? Am I stupid to want to see my b… parents?” She whispered into his ear,
“No. Never,” he insisted,
Kyuri raised her head then, swiping away her tears, “Kibum…”
“I want alcohol for the flight,” Kibum said as he carried her to their bed, “Let’s get packing.”
Kyuri stared up at him as he dropped her on the bed, “You tease… I want compensation, now!”
Kibum laid down alongside her, “And I want you. Now… Tomorrow… Forever.”
“Since the day we met?” Kyuri smiled softly up at him as he leaned over her.
“Yes,” he admitted easily; “Did you know on that day, too?”
“Nope,” Kyuri teased quietly as she reached up to brush the strands of his hair from his forehead, “But almost immediately after that.” Her hand slid to curl behind his neck, pulling his head closer, “We’re starting a new adventure tomorrow.”
“As long as we do it together.”
They kissed and a few hours later, they packed their suitcases. The next day, they boarded a plane and left Japan. They found more than just a new adventure in Korea. But, they were always together.
In the end, I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you
“Who are you?”
‘I’ll never let her be lonely again.’
“Your music… why are you lonely?”
‘Hopefully, one day I can protect him, too.’
A/N#1: I'm so glad I finally got to write their story! Usually in SN/MS, the focus is on Kyuhyun/ZhouMi or Sungmin/Taeyeon, and, in SN, the focus was on Kyuhyun and Kyuri reuniting. So, yay! Kibum is emotionally stilted and Kyuri is socially inept = perfect couple!
A/N#2: Did you recognize some of the other hunters? =) I miss them.. perhaps I'll bring them back into MSong.
A/N#3: Why, yes, that song IS "At the Beginning" from Anastasia.