(14th Cycle of the Mourning Song series).
14th Cycle: Forced Remembrance
There are times when
I look at you and
I wish you'd call my name.
There are times when
I think of us and
I wish it could be again.
But I know that's just
that I'm just avoiding
Kyuhyun felt the moment his fangs pierced the skin of his assistant's neck. Resistance and, then, the sense of rightness as he tasted blood gushing forward into his mouth. The nectar was coppery yet sweet, it filled his sense completely until all he could taste was blood in his mouth, Mijoon's skin on his lips and all he smelled was the intoxicating scent of blood mixed with the scent that was essentially Mijoon.
His weak arms, still wrapped around Mijoon, suddenly became stronger and he tightened his embrace, holding his assistant closer to him until their torsos were tightly pressed together, until he was sandwiched to the point of suffocation. However, he didn't feel smothered and he didn't panic. Instead, he felt protected.
Kyuhyun felt his heart beating rapidly, rejoicing at the taste of blood, at the sudden refreshness that swept over his entire being. Then, his heart slowed to a soothing pace as if becoming content. He could feel every inch of his body becoming renewed with strength, revitalized, as if his cells had been shrunken and were now full to the point of bursting.
With his new-found strength came a sunburst of scarlet streaking through Kyuhyun's mind. His eyes had been tightly shut and now he saw red as if someone had taken a brush and painted his thoughts. It had been far too long since he had last seen the colour and, now, it was almost blinding in its vibrance. He clutched Mijoon even tighter like an anchor that kept him steady, kept him safe as he felt his mind soaring. The red faded but, then, flashes shot through his mind. Thoughts, feelings, memories.
His heart sped up again at an almost dizzying pace when he was thrown back to a time when he was lying on the ground, his life flowing out of him and all he knew was fear. Darkness surrounded him and night cloaked the sky. His vision blurred as he was acutely aware of blood flowing from him. A silhouette appeared above him and the moment was gone as fast as it had come.
He distantly heard his name being called and found himself in the backseat of a car. He looked across the seat from him and there was a familiar young girl sitting there looking out the window. He caught sight of snow gently drifting down outside the window. She looked over at him and caught the briefest flash of excitement, of a smile before she sighed and annoyance took its place. The girl, the car and even the snow faded away.
Then, he was looking at a young man standing before him, just before a door, a suitcase close to him. The young man shoved his hands into his jeans' pockets and smiled at him. Kyuhyun was aware of a tightening around his heart, a feeling of longing, a feeling of remembrance as if he hadn't seen the young man for so long. The young man's eyes danced with amusement, his eyes peculiar, fox-like and Kyuhyun knew he had seen him quite recently.
It was bright suddenly, sunlight all around him and Kyuhyun felt nothing but fear. It gripped him like icy fingers biting into his body, his soul and mind. He felt a cold, solid foundation at his back and he pressed against it, suddenly glad to realize he was sitting in a shadow, but the sunlight was drawing closer, inching nearer. He was aware of being incredibly hot as if he hadn't had anything to drink for so long. He was aware of being completely exhausted but fearing if he closed his eyes, even for a second, that the sun would then swallow him up in his moment of vulnerability. Time seemed to pass quickly and, yet, Kyuhyun knew it had been endless hours. Night settled and, still, he feared sleeping should morning come. He lay on his side and was sure he had heard his name being called. Then, he was picked up, almost effortlessly and he was only aware of strong arms holding him close, keeping him safe.
He was burdened, then, by guilt, by need as he hovered above that young man again, the one with the peculiar eyes. Without having to look around, Kyuhyun knew they were on a bed and he knew he had been the one to put them there, to force the young man beneath him. He stared down at the young man, challenging the young man to hate him, to fear him, to resent him. All the while, he was aware of a loud pounding in his ears as if he could hear the young man's heart beat. He could feel his fangs lengthening as if the enticement of blood was too much, too chaotic. But all he ever saw in the young man's eyes was acceptance. He felt arms wrap around him and pull him down until their bodies were against one another. His guilt soared and all he felt in that embrace was love.
And, then, he had the feeling of floating. He looked down at the young girl before him, the playful smile on her lips as she stared up at him and laughed softly. He felt the weight of her hand on his shoulder, felt the relaxed hand in his. Distantly, he was aware of lights that shone like white stars around them and music that floated around them, embracing them. His heart felt light and happy and he could do nothing but smile down at her.
He walked into a room and stopped dead in his tracks, realizing the room wasn't empty. Desks and chairs were placed in perfect rows like in a classroom and, at the front, behind a larger desk sat another young man. Dark, short hair and thick-rimmed glasses perched precariously on his pronounced nose. The man looked up and their gazes locked and his heart promptly stopped.
Light poured into a dim room through an open door and it was all the warning he had. The setting had changed again and, now, he was surrounded by strong warmth. He realized then he was being securely embraced, his ears covered and a hand soothingly rubbing his back. Thunder crashed but was muffled to his ears. All the same, he felt his entire body and soul seize at the sound. He was scared and, yet, knew he was safe. In those arms, with that person, he was safe.
Then, he was filled with adrenaline, filled with a need he had never known before. He was pushing himself firmly against another body, and his lips were pressed firmly against impossibly soft lips. Slender yet strong fingers firmed against his jaw as the other person kissed back. The other person slanted their lips and the kiss deepened considerable. He felt an intrusion slip through his lips, tasted and felt the other's probing tongue. His heart accelerated, his desire escalated and, then, there was nothing.
“Please tell me this isn’t a dream, Kyuhyun. Please tell me you’re real… that what is happening is real. Please tell me everything up until now has been real… Please tell me that I… that I… haven’t lost… you. Please…”
Kyuhyun suddenly pulled his fangs away. Instinctively, he bit into his lip and swiped his own blood over the bite marks, healing them instantaneously. He leaned his head in to clean off the blood himself, his tongue already getting ready to lick off the delicious remnants when he suddenly whipped his head the other way. He shoved at the body on top of his and then scrambled into a sitting position.
His assistant looked at him in the dimness of the room, his face shadowed with the lamp's light shining behind him.
"Kyuhyun? What's wrong?" He asked, his voice filled with concern,
“If you so much as look at another person – male or female, I would go after them, Kyuhyun. Then I would take you and make love to you. I would kiss you so much that just the thought of me has your lips throbbing. I would caress you, touch you until you wept, until you begged, until every time your sense of touch is evoked, all you can think about is my hands on you. You’re the only one I want, Kyuhyun; the only one I ever will want.”
Mijoon reached out to him but Kyuhyun held up a hand, stopping him. He had thought learning so much of his past had been overwhelming. But what had just transpired in his mind was much, much worse. He felt as if he had been standing on the edge of some precipice and each time he had spoken to someone about his past, he had moved closer and closer to falling over. Now, he felt as if he was already tumbling forward into the abyss, not knowing when he would reach the bottom and what would happen when he got there. His head pounded with pain as if his mind was overloaded with memories, as if it was bursting at the seams and he couldn't take any more remembrance.
“I’m scared because I don’t know what’s happening, because I don’t have the answers for once. Because I’m scared what will happen to you… that I may lose you and… and that makes me scared even more... Kyuhyun, I... I love you.”
Kyuhyun stared at the man now sitting on the edge of his bed. He stared at the man who had been hired by his parents a year ago to be his assistant. The man who had become more than his assistant. The man who had become his constant companion, his confidante, his... friend. What did that all mean, now?
“I found so much more. Everything that has happened to this point has only made me want you more, need you more, love you more. Everything we have gone through has brought us to this point when I can finally fulfil my purpose here at SJA and move on – with you. After this is done, after the vampire is gone then there’ll be nothing else between us.”
He finally knew, finally remembered all that had happened up until that point in his life. His childhood, his life at Shim Jang Academy. He remembered all that transpired during that final year at Shim Jang Academy. All that had happened, all that had been said and done. He remembered more than just names, he remembered faces and what they meant to him. He remembered kindness, protection and friendship. He remembered the bonds he had made that final year, only to lose them on that fateful winter night.
“I have a choice to make… I can either choose you, Kyuhyun… or I can choose the lives of everyone else. Love or life, Kyuhyun... I have to choose now.”
He had been dealt a heavy choice that night. He had finally found someone who completed him, who made him feel whole – mind, body and soul. He had started that school year seeking respite and solace. He had found friendship and acceptance. More importantly, he had found love. On that last night, he had found himself staring down the end of a barrel with a choice. He had to choose if he should live while others die or die while others lived. He had been given love and had chosen to die at the hands of the one he loved.
When the choice ended up not having to be made, when his life was spared during that battle, he had felt relief. He only wished that their luck hadn't ended after that moment.
"Kyuhyun, are you okay? Talk to me, please," Mijoon asked, his tone almost pleading,
Kyuhyun stared at him with wide eyes. What was he to say? What could he say?
“I have always loved you, Kyuhyun. But you already knew that.”
Kyuhyun remembered that last smile. It had been small, soft and shaky, but he had felt all the love in the world in that one smile. He had tried to commit it to memory, burning it into his mind because he knew it would be the last.
He had felt the body become limp in his arms, had felt the last puff of air leave and he had collapsed under the suffocation of guilt, despair and the unrelenting feeling of being alone. Pain had filled his heart, killing it from the inside out until it flowed to the rest of his body, coursed through his veins and encompassed his entire being. He remembered feeling as if the only sunlight left in his life had been extinguished, ripped away and knowing he would never see any sun in his life ever again.
“Love you… forever.”
"Leave..." Kyuhyun's order was softly given but his tone was firm,
"What? No, Kyuhyun, talk to me," Mijoon said, eyes narrowing, "You were perfectly fine before, what happened? What's wrong?" He reached out for him but Kyuhyun scrambled backwards until his back hit the wall. "Damn it, Kyuhyun, just tell me! Tell me what I did wrong!"
"Why didn't you ever tell me!?" Kyuhyun demanded, "When you told me you knew about me being a vampire, why didn't you tell me the rest of it?"
"The rest of it...?"
"I always wondered why I rarely was able to read your thoughts when you touched me, but now I understand... I understand that you purposefully blocked your thoughts from me, hiding everything from me!" Kyuhyun accused,
"I was protecting you!" Mijoon defended, jumping to his feet, "I knew what a burden your telepathy would have been on you, so I protect you from my thoughts! I wanted to give you at least relief from my intruding thoughts! But how did you... of course... when you tasted my blood, you had access to my mind." His eyes widened at the implications and then they narrowed at the Young Master, "Kyuhyun -"
“It wasn’t just your mind I read. I remember everything!”
“All your memories? But… how?”
"You should have told me everything!" Kyuhyun exclaimed ignoring him, "All this time you've been hiding all these secrets from me, secrets that were mine, also! You had no right!"
"I had every right!" Mijoon retorted, "I had to hide everything I knew because I knew you didn't know a damn thing! I had to hide everything because I knew the truth would make you push me away! And, before when you found out you were a vampire, I had to keep everything else hidden because you were already on the edge of going insane! I had every right to protect you and I would do it again if I had to!"
"I don't recall ever giving you the right to protect me!" Kyuhyun spat,
Mijoon was taken aback. Shock was evident on his face. Then, he lunged across the bed to Kyuhyun until their bodies were a mere centimetre apart and his fingers clutched the Young Master's jaw, holding it still, forcing the younger man to look at him,
"I said forever, Kyuhyun. I told you I loved you... I'm not going to be pushed away now just because you have some petulant need to rebel," Mijoon stated quietly, calmly and firmly, "You know I did nothing wrong."
"Then what of Zhou Mi?" Kyuhyun challenged, his voice soft but angry, his face thrown in half darkness and half light; "I promised him forever... I promised to always be with him..." He was distantly aware of the burning of tears that lined his eyes, the soft caress of tears rolling down the sides of his face, "I had regretted not telling him every day I knew him that I love him... I had to hold him in my arms as he died... Why didn't you ever tell me about him?"
Mijoon felt his heart stutter as the Young Master's voice trembled and broke. His expression softened and all he could say was, "Because you had forgotten about him. Even if I told you, it wouldn't have meant anything to you. I told you what your bracelet said but just that... just that little piece of information meant nothing. I didn't tell you about your past... about Zhou Mi... because I wanted you to love me, now."
"Please... leave," Kyuhyun begged, hating how weak and pathetic he sounded.
His heart ached more than his mind did. He wanted the older man to stay and, at the same time, wanted him to leave. He wanted his past, he wanted his present... he didn't know what either meant for his future.
"Just tell me... before I leave, just tell me this much," Mijoon requested, pleaded, "Do you still love me, Kyuhyun?"
Kyuhyun pulled away from Mijoon's hand, turning his head to look away. He shut his eyes tightly against the pain of his heart. The tears were more prolific now and he couldn't find the strength in him to keep his voice from breaking or to be able to look his assistant in the eye. He could feel heat radiating from the older man's body, but even that small bit of space between them had him feeling cold. After everything, even after all of his memories returning to him and, even after realizing all that Mijoon had hid from him...
"I don't recall ever confessing such feelings to... my assistant," Kyuhyun said quietly. He could barely breathe as he whispered, "But... yes... I do love you."
With his eyes shut, he was only aware of the sudden loss of heat, of the bed shifting as Mijoon left the bed. The silence was only filled with his assistant's retreating footsteps and the soft sound of the bedroom door opening and closing. He waited for five heartbeats to trip through that organ before he slowly, hesitantly, opened his eyes, his vision blurred with tears.
He was alone again.
He collapsed onto the mattress and cried for his lost memories, for the loss of three years.
He cried for Zhou Mi.
song for you,
Hoping you'll hear me
and know I knew
that you never wanted
to leave me behind.
So I'm singing this
song for you.
The next morning, Kyuhyun got ready as he always did. He showered in his private bathroom and dressed in charcoal slacks and suit-vest. His shirt was pristine white and crisp. He stood before a full-length mirror as he buttoned the cuffs at his wrists, his eye on his reflection. He had done that morning routine every day for three years and, not once, had he ever thought something was wrong. He chaffed at wearing business and formal attire, yet he deemed it a necessity for work, deemed it only right that the heir to the Jo Shipping Company dress in such a way. He never once contemplated that there had been a time when jeans and t-shirt were more natural, when he refused to take over the business from his father.
He looked over where his ties all hung, neat and organized. Everything was still in greyscale, but he knew his business clothes were all neutral colours and any of his ties would match. He picked a tie that had an argyle pattern and began to tie it appropriately as he had done every morning for three years. He paused, his hands still just before pulling the wider end to complete the knot. He was able to remember when his cousin had tied his tie for him just before they had gone to the senior ball. He shook his head as if to dispel the memories and finished tying the knot.
He had his memories.
He could hardly believe it. He was finally able to bridge the past three years to the rest of his life. He knew names and faces. He knew places and events. He looked at himself in the mirror again, recalling the previous night. He had been introduced to Heechul and hadn't known him, hadn't remembered what the nurse had done for him since he had become a vampire. He made a mental note to talk to Heechul as soon as he could and to thank him. Heechul had helped him the first night of his vampirism and Kyuhyun repaid him by forgetting everything.
Kyuhyun grabbed the suit jacket from the hanger, knowing it was the match to the rest of his attire because it had been hung on the same hanger. The staff was aware of his colour blindness and were given specific instructions on certain aspects so that Kyuhyun would never need to rely on anyone on his dress. Slipping the jacket on, he grabbed his wallet and cellular phone and pocketed both of them.
He walked over to his desk and glanced at the bottles of medication there. For three years, the doctors could not figure out the chain of illnesses that plagued him. All they had ever offered were pills to stunt the symptoms and transfusions to help him live a little bit longer. The medicines were supposed to help him and he took them as a means to try to keep living. However, he could never keep them down, always vomiting within minutes. He had never told anyone about his issue with the medicine, not wanting them to worry. Now, he knew why the medicines never worked. He grabbed all of the little pill bottles and tossed them into the trash bin. He wouldn't need those anymore.
The hallway from his room to the core of the house always had the curtains drawn over the large windows. He made his way to the dining room, even though he was never able to eat a single morsel of food. He entered and walked directly to his mother, knowing she would be there. He pulled out the seat adjacent to her as she sat at one end of the table and turned to her, looking at her directly.
"Kyuhyun, you look very well this morning," she commented, the hint of a smile on her lips,
"Mother, I remember everything," he admitted. "About Kyuri, about SJA... about what I am."
"Your father mentioned you had talked to him about Kyuri," his mother replied softly as she continued eating.
"Is that all you have to say?" Kyuhyun asked simply,
"What else is there to say, Kyuhyun?" She replied as she gently placed her utensils down, "You remember everything, so that's all that matters."
"No, that isn't all that matters because what I remember of you and Father does not match how we have lived the past three years," Kyuhyun stated,
She looked at him directly, her expression unreadable, "What do you mean?"
"You have been around more the past three years than the previous eighteen years of my life and even came to every appointment, every transfusion," Kyuhyun answered, trying to keep the edge from his tone, "And when we moved away from Seoul... that entire year... Father worked at home and was present for every meal... What had changed, Mother? After I told you and Father about my vampirism you had both abandoned me and, yet... you came back for me... and... and before you had invited Kyuri here. You refused to see her when we were children and, now... I don't understand, Mother; why? Why to everything?"
For the briefest of moments, Kyuhyun was sure his mother had been about to say something, to answer him. Instead, she picked up her cup of coffee and took a long sip.
"You should leave now, Kyuhyun," was all she said when she put the cup back down on the table.
"Why? I know everything and now you're kicking me out?" Kyuhyun questioned,
"I meant you should go visit your sister while she's recovering," his mother replied, her gaze shifting away, her expression unperturbed and nonchalant, "your father also told me she's in the hospital."
Kyuhyun stood from his chair, restraining his instinct to buss her cheek as had become his habit. He looked down at his mother, looking smaller than he remembered. She sat straight and stiff as always, her expression calm and serene and, yet, her eyes told a different story. He had realized it once before when she had grabbed his hand and her thoughts had slipped into his mind. He had felt sadness in his mother, the memory in her head confusing him. Since then, he had always noticed how sad her eyes looked.
"She's been trying to make up for the past..." He realized then.
"Your father also told me she's in the hospital."
Why would his father say such a thing to his mother? They hadn't cared about Kyuri before, so why would he pass on the information? Had his father only done it because his mother had been trying to reconcile with Kyuri? As Kyuhyun continued to observe his mother, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something he didn't know, something he didn't understand.
"Come with me," Kyuhyun said,
His mother looked up at him then, her expression less schooled, less calm, "What?"
"Your daughter is in the hospital. I've been told that her heart stopped twice on the way to the hospital and again yesterday," Kyuhyun revealed and he saw how rigid his mother became, how bright her eyes got as if glassed over with unshed tears; "It is only right that you visit her."
"But she wouldn't want..."
"Every time I was hospitalized, you were with me. Every doctor appointment, every transfusion, you were there," Kyuhyun recalled, "Every time for the past three years. It's only fair you do the same for Kyuri."
Kyuhyun turned to leave when he felt slender, shaking fingers grasp his hand, halting him. He looked back, but his mother's face was bowed. Although he couldn't see her face, he felt her hand trembling as it held his almost desperately.
"K...Kyuhyun," she managed, her voice quiet and more hesitant than he had ever heard it, almost as if she were afraid of his response,
"I do remember everything. However, just because I remember the first 18 years of my life, that doesn't mean I have forgotten the past three years," Kyuhyun replied as her thoughts prodded against his own and he tried to focus on the present; "Let us go together, Mother."
I look at me and
I wonder where I went wrong.
There are times when
I think of you and
wonder if I still belong.
But I know that's just
that I'm just avoiding
Kyuhyun entered the hospital room. Kyuri was sitting against her pillows, the top half of the bed set in a high Fowler's position. She looked a hundred times healthier than she did the previous evening. She was still pale and she had dark smudges beneath her eyes from fatigue, but her eyes were bright and he noticed the monitors were showing strong vitals.
Kibum sat in a chair adjacent to both Kyuri and the incubator. He looked as haggard as ever, his dark hair sticking up at odd angles as if he had run his hands through it many times. However, despite his tendency to be expressionless, Kyuhyun could tell he seemed calmer, more relaxed. Kyuhyun took off his suit jacket and tossed it across the foot of her bed. His gaze went to his sister immediately, his hands shoved in his pockets,
"Kyuri - it's been a long time," he greeted and offered her the barest of smiles.
Kyuri stared at him, confusion evident in her expression. Slowly, it melted into comprehension as she sat just a little bit straighter and her eyes widened, "That's what you first said when we came to SJA... you remember, don't you?"
Kibum remained silent, but his gaze watched him, surprised.
Kyuhyun nodded, "Yes... Everything."
Kyuri's hands flew to her mouth, "I don't... I don't understand. How?"
"I don't understand it either, but last night after I got home," Kyuhyun hesitated for half a heartbeat, "I fed from my assistant and, then, before I even realized what was happening all my memories kept flooding back. It was like a dam breaking."
"That means your memories weren't taken away, they were just sealed," Kibum noted,
Kyuhyun nodded again, "And all that was needed was to find the right key to unlock them."
"I still don't understand what that "right key" is," Kyuri spoke up, feeling much better after last night's transfusion; "Sungmin and Heechul have been trying to find the cure to your amnesia, how can feeding from your assistant be that answer? It doesn't make sense."
"Sungmin and Heechul have?" Kyuhyun almost choked at the guilt building up within him, "All these years..."
"They've been pretty relentless," Kibum said as he stood up and turned to look down at his youngest daughter, still so tiny, but she looked a healthy pink instead of the splotchy, pale colour she had been just the previous evening; "And Taeyeon's been singing for you, hoping you'd hear at least one of her songs."
Kyuhyun swallowed hard, his heart clenching painfully. All these years, his friends had been working hard to bring him back and he had believed himself alone in the world save his parents and, the past year, his assistant. He had accepted his illness, he had been hopeless of a cure, of a future. If he had given up sooner, if he had ended his suffering, he never would have known all that he had lost, all that were working to help him find his way.
"I still don't hear my question being answered," Kyuri muttered, crossing her arms over her chest,
"It seems like you've gotten spoiled while I've been away," Kyuhyun teased as he sat on the edge of her bed,
Kyuri scowled, "The moment I can leave the hospital, I'm going to hit you."
"Maybe it was the act of feeding," Kibum mused, "Maybe that was the key?"
"But the pureblood, he said he was going to take everything away from me," Kyuhyun remembered, "If that was his goal, it couldn't be solved by the act of feeding - he couldn't have been sure that I would never feed again."
"You lose your memory, yet, now, you remember something that happened three years ago?" Kyuri rolled her eyes,
"It feels like this all happened yesterday," Kyuhyun explained with a slight shrug of his shoulders,
"So, not the act of feeding, then that means no to blood either, since those two go hand in hand," Kibum said,
"Definitely not blood," Kyuhyun confirmed, "It seems that... my assistant has been giving me blood for the past year under the guise of tea. If it was drinking blood, then I would've gotten my memory a year ago."
"Your assistant knows?" Kyuri gasped and Kibum looked at him, alarmed,
Kyuhyun nodded, suddenly regretting he mentioned his assistant. With his memory returning, there were some things he wasn't quite ready to address. His assistant was one of them.
"If I come up with a logical answer, I'll get back to -"
"Love," Kibum interjected then.
"What?" Kyuhyun looked at his brother-in-law, startled,
"Maybe it's a combination of things," Kibum suggested as he looked back down at his precious, little daughter, "Maybe it's the act of feeding, but it has to be from someone who you love. The vampire believed he had killed Zhou Mi, so he believed you wouldn't be able to feed from one you love." Kibum stilled then, suddenly realizing what he had said, "Kyuhyun... about Zhou Mi..."
Kyuhyun looked away then, feeling his heart accelerate to a painful pace, "I... I know about Zhou Mi."
Briefly, he closed his eyes, remembering that bitter night, remembering the loss, the emptiness, the void he found himself sinking into. His hands fisted inside his pockets and he forced himself to become calm, forced himself to open his eyes. He looked over to find his sister watching him with sad eyes.
"How?" Kibum asked,
"The assistant," Kyuri guessed, "Zhou Mi talked about knowing your movements and routine... he wouldn't take anything to chance, he probably even has contact with your assistant." Kyuri looked at her brother ruefully, "I'm not saying your assistant has an ulterior motive, Kyuhyun, it just... looks like that. I'm sorry... Taeyeon told me about you and your assistant being... together."
Kyuhyun breathed slowly, steadying himself, "It's okay," He managed, his voice an octave lower, "My assistant does have a connection with Zhou Mi... and they have an ulterior motive... I just... I just don't know if I can't trust them."
Kyuri's eyes widened, "Them? You can't trust Zhou Mi, either? But, Kyuhyun, Zhou Mi-"
"It's complicated," Kyuhyun interrupted, "When I fed from my assistant, I was able to see into his thoughts, that's how I know what Zhou Mi's been up to while I've been an amnesiac."
"If what Kibum says is right, then... you love your assistant?" Kyuri asked tentatively,
Kyuhyun hesitated and, then, nodded.
"But... what about Zhou Mi?" Kyuri inquired,
"Kyuri," Kibum said softly, quietly, "No one is more confused than Kyuhyun, himself. Badgering him with questions won't solve anything."
"I... I'm sorry," Kyuri murmured,
Kyuhyun cleared his throat in an attempt to break up the lump that had been forming painfully in his throat. He shook his head and attempted for lightness, "It's okay. It seems I've missed a lot. I don't remember you ever apologizing to me. I like the new you."
Kyuri scowled immediately, "The moment I can leave the hospital, I'm going to kill you."
"Love, your threats are escalating," Kibum noted dryly,
Kyuhyun chuckled softly, "Even though it feels like SJA was just yesterday, I know what the past three years have been for me... it feels good to have everyone back in my life. Even if it means my sister threatening me every time we speak."
"I did miss thinking up ways to kill you," Kyuri smiled softly at her brother.
It was almost ridiculous how much he had come to mean to her during the few months she was at SJA, and, yet, he was her brother, her twin; they had a connection from before birth. What was ridiculous and unnatural was the way they were raised apart, had been separated for the majority of their lives. To have him again, filled a void Kyuri didn't realize she had in her heart.
Kyuri looked over her shoulder at her husband who was watching their daughter with quiet affection, "Kibum?"
She didn't have to say anything more, he knew exactly what she was asking. He looked up, their gazes locked. For a moment, Kyuri was sure her monitor would flat-line as she felt her heart stop. His face was expressionless, but his eyes were filled with all the love in the world. How Kibum had survived the past few days, she had no idea. If their roles had been reversed and she had been the one to see him die three times... the thought of losing Kibum, her husband, her lover, her best friend... She didn't think it possible to love him more until that moment. He nodded and she felt her heart beat again.
Kyuri looked at her brother who had been watching with silent curiosity, "We've chosen a name for her."
"Oh?" Kyuhyun prompted,
Kyuri nodded, "Hina. It's a diminutive of hopeful one. I... I risked her life in the fight against the vampire, but I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her."
"Shh..." Kibum turned to her, placing his hand on her shoulder, "You did what you had to do... if you hadn't fought, that Hunter would have died and the vampire would have gotten away to kill more people."
"But, our daughter, Kibum!" Kyuri turned towards him, burying her face against his torso,
Kibum wrapped an arm around her shoulder, holding her firmly against him. He looked up at Kyuhyun, "Kyuri was given a difficult choice and she decided on the choice that would help more people... it sounds... heartless towards our daughter, but it was one life against countless more." Kibum sat on the edge of the bed when Kyuri began to cry harder. He pulled her against him so she cried into his shoulder, his arm wrapped around her back and his hand rubbing soothing circles.
"I don't know what I would have done if I had been in your place, Kyuri," Kyuhyun admitted quietly, "Few people could have made the decision you did. The Hunter, what happened to them?"
"They're in another room in this unit," Kibum revealed, "I've checked up on him, Kyuri, and he looks quite good for someone who had neurosurgery." Kibum glanced at Kyuhyun, "Because of damage from the vampire, he had hemorrhaging in his skull... but he's alive and the doctor expects a full recovery."
"How do you know?" Kyuri's question was muffled against his shoulder, "It's illegal for you to get medical information on him... I should know, I probably broke so many laws when I was learning from Heechul at SJA."
"He told me," Kibum stated in a flat tone,
"Oh," she replied sheepishly and, then, "Oh! He's conscious!?"
"Yes," Kibum answered,
"I'm glad," Kyuri admitted.
Silence fell amongst the trio as Kyuri settled back against her pillows, her face still tilted down and Kibum sat down in his chair again.
"I'm glad the both of you are alright," Kyuhyun said, "And, I'm glad my vampirism finally did some good. Seeing you so well... it makes me not want to say what I'm about to say."
Kyuri raised her head just enough to shoot him a suspcious glare as Kibum remained expressionless.
"My - no, our... Our mother is in the waiting room," Kyuhyun revealed as he immediately stood from the bed and took a safe step backwards,
"No," Kyuri said simply, firmly,
"Kyuri," Kibum sighed as he stood from his chair,
"No," Kyuri repeated firmly, staring up at him, silently challenging him,
Kibum rolled his eyes, "Kyuhyun, come sit here, then at least you can see Hina, too." Before Kyuri could protest more, he promptly left the room.
"I know you hate our parents and, frankly, after what they did to me that first year after I turned vampire, I hated them, too," Kyuhyun insisted as he came around the end of the bed and walked over straight to Hina; "I... I know they treated you in a horrible and unforgiveable way." He placed his hand flat against one of the clear panels as if he were somehow touching his niece, "I realized four years ago how selfish I had been in regards to you. I should have fought harder for you... I should have cared more... You're more than my sister, Kyuri, you're my twin... you're supposed to be the one person I grew up with and I did nothing to get you back.
"I know you have hated them for much longer than I and, that, I really don't have a right to say this, but the past three years, they've changed," Kyuhyun confessed, "There was this year when we were so close to being a normal family and, now that I remember everything, that one year is like a miracle. I don't know what happened, but something did happen."
"Kyuhyun, I've already emptied them from my life," Kyuri said quietly, her hands fisted in her lap, bunching the blanket there, "I had gotten to the point where they only had an effect on me when I thought about the twins or you... I no longer held any hatred towards them in what they had done to me. Eighteen years I lived without my parents... without my brother... but I was able to let go of the hatred and they no longer had consequence in my life. After all of that, to bring them back into my life... I don't care what they do to me, but if they hurt my children...
"Kibum wants me to let... let them back into my life. To, at least, let them meet the children... but do you know how hard that is for me?" Kyuri asked quietly, "I grew up with these horrible foster parents who never let me forget that I had been given away, that they were being paid to keep me. The rare times that I did visit, my parents were cold and unfeeling. If they can do that to their own child, what will they do to a grandchild? I trust Kibum with all my heart and I even understand why he wants me to do this, but to take that leap..."
"You say you've let go of your hatred, but I think and I think you know this, is that you've locked away all of your anger and resentment... you've locked them away because you're tired of hating them. You're tired of thinking about them and all you want is to move on with your life," Kyuhyun mused as he finally turned to look at his sister, "And, in all honesty, if I had been in your position, no one would have been able to convince me to meet with our mother... Something changed and mother - no, both of them - are trying to do something right. They know that they've burned the bridge with you years ago, but they don't want to lose the chance to be in your children's lives."
"What if... what if you're right and they still do hold some place in my life... what if I let that bridge be built again only to have it be burned again?" Kyuri asked, her voice now barely above a whisper,
"I don't know," Kyuhyun answered honestly. He walked to her bed, turned and sat down on the mattress so his back was to her, his hands in his pockets once more; "All I know is that for the past three years, Mother has been to every doctor's appointment and hospital visit with me and made sure for the first two years that I took my medication around the clock. Father taught me and trusted me as his heir to the company after disowning me, after knowing he was risking billions of dollars on a dying man."
He hesitated, slowly closing his eyes as he continued, forcing strength into his words to keep them from breaking; "And, one year ago, they hired a man to be my assistant to ensure I was... protected... and watched over whenever I wasn't at home. Their main qualification for that man was that he be able to hold nocturnal hours, that he know and understand my deadly sensitivity to the sun... I don't know what you should do, Kyuri, but that's what I know of our parents."
"Our... your... father... he gave me back my baby when she was so far away and Kibum was torn between where to be every hour," Kyuri reminded, her fists tightening to stop the shaking in her limbs from the cries she withheld, "He made sure that she would be taken care of... that, if I chose it, I wouldn't have any known association with him after the arrangements for Hina were done. And... our... your... mother... for the past three years, has been calling me every week. And, a woman who has always been so refined, so pompous about appearances... so proud that it took her 21 years to aproach me... that woman bowed to me."
Kyuhyun was startled when he felt a hand grip the back of his vest and shirt, a small hand fisting in the expensive material.
"Kyuhyun, I... I don't know what to do," Kyuri confessed, her voice soft and broken, exposing herself as impossibly vulnerable as her hand shook against his back; "I don't know what to do anymore."
song for you,
Hoping you'll hear me
and know I knew
that you never wanted
to leave me behind.
So I'm singing this
song for you.
Taeyeon halted a split-second after she passed the waiting room. She had been on her way to visit her cousins, one small hand in each of her own, despite her manager bemoaning the fact that she had cancelled everything on her schedule for an entire week. She had been on her way to the ICU when she stopped, her arms slightly tugging as the little twins hadn't realized she had stopped walking and had continued on their way. They looked up at her with confused expressions, although she was sure she had her own confused look.
Surely she was hallucinating? She wasn't even on the unit yet; the waiting room having no connection to the ICU except for the fact that it was around the corner from the main doors leading there. She held her breath, listening for some sound that what she had seen in her peripheries had been real. Slowly, she turned back to the open waiting room door, dragging the twins with her.
"Auntie," Taeyeon gaped, finding herself before her aunt for the first time in years.
She had seen her aunt at a distance during her final year at SJA. A few Saturdays of the year, she had attended social functions with her parents, Kyuhyun refusing to go because of his parents' inevitable presence. Despite both of their parents being in the highest echelons of society life in Korea, no one knew that their mothers were sisters. The only connections ever made between herself and Kyuhyun in high society was that their fathers were once best friends before either had made their fortune and, by some coincidence, she and Kyuhyun had met at SJA and became a well-known couple.
Even before Kyuhyun's vampirism, Taeyeon had never been close to her aunt and had never held any particular warm feelings for the woman. Her mother had never said an ill word against her aunt, but Taeyeon had seen how Kyuhyun had grown up and made her own conclusions. Taeyeon was already a teenager before she realized she had never met her uncle and her father had never brought her to Kyuhyun's house to play; it had always been her mother. It wasn't until she was already at SJA, hers and Kyuhyun's rouse as a couple solidly established, that she discovered their fathers' known friendship and its destruction a year after she had met her cousin.
Her aunt's poise was perfect, as always, her back straight, her legs not crossed, but together and slanted at an angle towards one foot of the chair on which she sat. Her aunt was petite and very slender. Her face was heart-shaped and she looked young for her age, the only tell-tale signs were the copious streaks of silver in her hair that was severely pulled back into a tight bun at the nape of her neck and the creases at the corner of her eyes which revealed the only emotion on her face - worry.
Her aunt's eyes had shifted from Taeyeon to the two little children on either side of her. A hand with perfectly manicured nails slowly rose from her lap to cover her full lips. She stood up then, hugging her clutch against her heart as if it was a shield and she needed protection.
"I... should go," her aunt stammered,
"Why? Because I'm here?" Taeyeon questioned, her narrowed eyes challenging,
"Because that little boy looks almost exactly like Kyuhyun when he was a toddler and that little girl has the same look in her eyes that Kyuri did when she was born," her aunt revealed, her voice shaky, "And, even before seeing them, I know you don't have children of your own, which means they could only belong to... Kyuri wouldn't want me to be around her children."
Her aunt took a few steps across the empty waiting room before she halted, realizing Taeyeon hadn't budged a centimetre.
"I'll let you leave if you explain to me how you could treat your own children like you did," Taeyeon stated, pitching her voice low so the twins couldn't hear if they weren't acutely paying attention, "All those years... and then, after you took Kyuhyun from Shim Jang Academy, for a whole year you wouldn't let me see him," she reminded, hating that her eyes burned with tears and she felt a tremor in her throat, warning her that her voice was sure to break, "Why?"
Something shifted in the middle-aged woman then. She seemed to stand straighter, taller despite that she was no taller than Taeyeon. Her arms loosely folded about her torso, her clutch purse in one hand, tucked behind a slender arm. Despite this change in stature and confidence, despite her seemingly emotionless face, Taeyeon could read her eyes as easily as she read Kyuhyun's and, over the past three years, Kyuri's.
"Mistakes were made... unforgiveable ones," Her aunt stated and, then, remained silent, offering no more.
"Why can't you just answer me straight?" Taeyeon questioned, "Why are you even here?"
"I believe I have spent enough time in the presence of Kyuri's children for her to hate me until the end of time," her aunt said evenly, "If you'll excuse me," she walked straight towards Taeyeon, silently challenging her niece to not move out of the way.
Taeyeon moved back. She wouldn't mind colliding with her aunt if it forced the older woman to answer her questions, but she wasn't about to let the twins get mowed down by their estranged grandmother. She opened her mouth to continue, but her aunt was already half-way down the hall.
"Appa!" Kyumi cried and, a split-second later, Kyuki echoed the affectionate greeting.
Taeyeon began to turn her head when Kibum strode right past them, "I'll be right back, children. Taeyeon, please don't let go of their hands," he managed to say before he practically sprinted down the corridor.
The elevator doors were opening just as Kibum caught sight of his so-called mother-in-law.
"You won't even try to see her?" Kibum called out.
The middle-aged woman looked back, curiosity forcing her to see whatever drama was about to be played out before the elevators. When she saw that she and the young man sprinting towards her were the only ones in the vicinity, she realized she was a part of the drama.
"Excuse me?" She questioned with all the hauteur of a queen,
"Kyuri; you won't even try to see her?" Kibum clarified as he stopped just a metre away, not even short of breath despite sprinting after her.
A look of what Kibum could only label as recognition flashed through the woman's eyes before she turned completely to face him, allowing the elevator doors to close behind her.
"You are Kim Kibum," she labelled correctly, "So... you are Kyuri's husband."
"And the only reason she finally agreed to see you back in September," Kibum revealed, his voice a soft drawl, as if they were in a battle of who was had the most disinterest at the conversation at hand, when he knew they both invested quite a lot.
A crack formed in his mother-in-law's facade and her gaze shifted ever so slightly so that she was now looking to the side of his face rather than directly into his eyes, "It'd be cruel to upset her when she's already suffering so much in the hospital."
"Your actions right now, indeed, your actions for the past three years have contradicted to those of the past; greatly so," Kibum recounted, his tone slowly deepening, gaining an edge, "Are you really so repentant or, is it as I have theorized and there is more to the past than either twin has ever known?"
Kibum wasn't sure how long they stood there in silence, a metre apart. Silence reigned for so long that he was sure she would never reply. A half-heartbeat before he was about to turn and just walk away, the older woman shifted her gaze so she was looking at him directly even as she reached back and pressed the elevator button once more.
"When they're ready for the truth, tell my children to visit their father's office," she stated, her voice quiet, her expression somehow softer than before;
"What?" Kibum questioned, feeling as if he was a single piece away from solving the puzzle, only to find the box was empty;
"It should be when he's not there," his mother-in-law instructed, "That shouldn't be too difficult; Kyuhyun will know their father's work schedule."
"I don't understand," Kibum admitted, "Why should they go to his office when he's not there? I'm sure Kyuhyun's been in his office a number of times over the years."
"You don't need to understand... and neither do they," she continued cryptically. Her gaze shifted away as she mused quietly, "Perhaps they'll never understand..."
A soft bell dinged and the elevator doors slid open.
She turned and entered them. Turning back to press the button for the ground floor.
"Wait!" Kibum insisted,
She shook her head, "Tell them about this only when they're ready and not before."
"Ready for what? How am I supposed to know when they're ready!?" Kibum demanded, wanting to get into the elevator to get more answers but, at the same time, not wanting to leave the floor where his wife and youngest child were hospitalized for intensive care.
"They have to be ready for the truth," the older woman stated, the doors beginning to close, "Remember - only when they're ready and not before."
Kibum watched as the doors closed and, just before his mother-in-law completely disappeared behind them, he was sure he saw her brush a hand over her eyes. He stood there, looking at the elevator doors for several minutes, Kyuhyun and Kyuri's mother's words repeating in his mind. Eventually, he stored away the information for the future, turned and walked back to the unit; to his family.
And no matter how much
I know we'll have
I know we'll have
The years stretched out before him as he sat at the back of the town car with its tinted windows, his arm looped with a more slender, feminine arm. He looked down at her profile, her face turned away to look out her window. He remembered a similar time but they had sat much farther apart even though they had been much closer. Could he say they were still close? Could he still say she was one of his best friends? Three years was a long time to be without someone, even if he didn't remember who they were, what they meant to him and that a part of his heart held them.
"Your songs..." Kyuhyun said then, "Were for me?"
Taeyeon jerkily looked towards him as if being pulled from deep thoughts, "Yes," she answered honestly. "I thought maybe you'd hear one of my songs and just magically remember everything," she laughed softly, "It's good to know you heard my songs at least."
"They calmed me," Kyuhyun mused, "Like all the other times, you were able to calm me with your voice, your song."
"I'm so glad you're back," Taeyeon said softly, smiling up at him, "And once Sungmin knows..."
"You should write songs for him now," Kyuhyun stated, "You said you wrote to bring me back. I'm back, so write songs for him."
Taeyeon untwined her arm from his as she turned just enough so her torso was angled towards his, "Why do people keep thinking that Sungmin is second-rate to me?"
"Is that what people still think? Because when we were growing up and in that last year at SJA... that was true," Kyuhyun answered,
"Okay, you're excused because you've been out of the loop. But, everyone else who has been around should know by now that there isn't some unofficial competition between you and Sungmin," Taeyeon stated, crossing her arms over her chest,
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, "You make it sound like we're fighting to be with you."
"No, that's how everyone else makes it sound," Taeyeon defended, "And, they're all wrong!"
"Are they?" Kyuhyun prompted,
"Yes, damn it!" Taeyeon stated, "I love Sungmin and even though you try my patience whether or not your mind is intact, I love you, too. But, they're different kinds of love and, Sungmin comes first – always"
Kyuhyun nodded, "Good. As he should."
"I have notebooks filled with lyrics for Sungmin," Taeyeon continued as she sat back again, "I just figured since you were missing that you'd need a little help getting back. From this moment on, the rest of my songs are all for him."
"I can still have one song for me, right?" Kyuhyun teased,
"Well," Taeyeon replied, "After the next three albums, then I'll consider writing one small song for you. Two-minutes maximum."
"That's all I ask," Kyuhyun chuckled softly. He sighed softly as he leaned his head back against the car seat, "Three years of not know what I had in this world... I didn't think much of it at the time because I didn't know what I had lost, but now... knowing how close I was to living the rest of my life not knowing." He rolled his head against the back of the seat to look at her, "You guys could have told me sooner."
"I couldn't even get past your front gate the first year after SJA," Taeyeon reminded, "You disappeared that second year and none of us knew where you went, even your father did all his work from distance. Although, for the past few months I've begun to feel as if Zhou Mi knew where you were all along. He-"
Taeyeon stopped then, the stiffening of Kyuhyun's body reminding her that, while his memories were back, previously he was physically present without them. There was now understanding when before there was only disconnect. She looked over at him then, alarmed.
"Kyuhyun... about Zhou Mi-"
"That night... when he... when I thought he died..." Kyuhyun's voice was impossibly soft as if speaking any louder would destroy his resolve, his appearance of strength and calm; "I had been devastated... I felt more pain than I ever had in my entire life. I was so broken, so empty that my pain became physical. I wanted to die that night, Tae... I wanted to take the gun I had used and turn it on myself."
Taeyeon's hand clamped over his trembling fist which rested atop his thigh. His hand felt cold and trembled as if the emotions within him were trying to burst free and he couldn't physically contain them. She squeezed his hand comfortingly, trying to will her own strength onto him. She felt her heart cry out for the suffering her cousin had gone through, for what they all thought they had lost that bitter winter night.
"And, then... then there was this moment of sudden respite," Kyuhyun admitted, the words choking him on the way out; "I remember feeling relieved, but I didn't know why... now I do. My memories had been sealed away and, so, I couldn't feel sad for what I couldn't remember... I lost my memories and for one brief moment, I felt relieved because I didn't hurt anymore. What does that say about me, hmm? What does that say about my supposed love for Zhou Mi?"
"What else were you supposed to feel when you stopped suffering?" Taeyeon questioned, "Upset? Mad? Why? Because you stopped feeling pain? That doesn't make sense, Kyuhyun."
"I never should have stopped suffering!" Kyuhyun exclaimed and Taeyeon saw the tears he desperately tried to stop from falling; "He had died in my arms... I should have kept suffering. Even if I lost my memories, something... something should have remembered."
Taeyeon reached over and wiped at his tears with the cuff of her sleeve, "Is that why you wanted me to drop you off at the office instead of your house? You need to prove to yourself that somewhere inside you, something had remembered Zhou Mi even though Choi Mijoon came into your life?"
"I need to know why Mijoon came into my life at all," Kyuhyun said quietly, "If Zhou Mi knew where I was for the past two years, why didn't he come for me? Why did Mijoon have to be the one my parents hired? If he l... If he loves me, then he should have come instead of Mijoon."
"Kyuhyun, remember the night when you first met me as Lee Yeon? You told me you were in a relationship with someone?" Taeyeon prompted,
"Yes, what of it?" Kyuhyun asked,
"That same night, I saw Zhou Mi and I told him that you were with someone. And, even though he admitted to already knowing about your assistant... well, you should have seen him," Taeyeon admitted, "He looked as if you had died."
"I know, but I'm telling you that if you plan on confronting Zhou Mi, Mijoon or whatever else there is that has you out in the sun... that you consider how Zhou Mi might have felt knowing you were falling in love with someone who wasn't Zhou Mi," Taeyeon insisted,
The car pulled to a stop before the company building and Kyuhyun abruptly hugged her,
"Zhou Mi should have known I would have fallen in love with Mijoon," Kyuhyun murmured, pressing a kiss against her forehead, tentatively. Was it really so easy to go back to how things were between him and his cousin?
Before Taeyeon could reply, Kyuhyun was out of the car and running desperately into the protection of the building. Sighing heavily, Taeyeon instructed the driver to return to the hospital where she had left the twins with their parents. She took out her cellular phone and called Sungmin.
Because I'm still singing
this song for you,
So you know that
I'll come through
for you anytime,
I'll never leave
So I'm singing this
song to you.
Because I'm still singing
this song for you,
So you know that
I'll come through
for you anytime,
I'll never leave
So I'm singing this
song to you.
He sat in his dark office, refusing to turn on a light so that those who didn't see him enter the building wouldn't know he was there. He was sure, however, that his father knew the moment he appeared in front of the company building. He sat in his large, leather office chair, turned to face the wall. His hands were clasped over his lap, firmly griping his cellular. He had been sitting in the dark for a few hours, glad he had come during the lunch hour so that there were few people in the building. If his internal clock was working properly, then the work day had ended and people would begin to head home for the day. He distantly wondered if his father ever thought about visiting Kyuri in the hospital.
There was a sharp rap on the door. Kyuhyun knew, instinctively, who it was. He hadn't used his phone, had barely moved a centimetre since settling into his office. And, still, he had come looking; he always came looking. Kyuhyun didn't call out or answer. Knowing now what he did of his assistant, he knew the older man would no longer hesitate to enter the office even without Kyuhyun's permission. He wondered whether or not he wished he had locked the door on his way in.
As if on cue, the door opened and pale, electrical light streamed into the dark office.
"Young Master?" The voice was soft yet strong, the cadence almost melodic, drawing him in, tugging at his stubborn heart.
"I'm here," he replied meaninglessly.
The door closed, followed immediately by the soft click of the lock. Footsteps padded across the room and one of the office lamps was turned on, dispelling most of the immediate darkness. Footsteps again, growing louder, coming closer. When they stopped, Kyuhyun estimated that his assistant now stood at one end of the large office desk.
"You called me 'Young Master' when you opened the door," Kyuhyun stated, the barest hint of an accusatory edge to his tone,
"Of course, I-"
"I want to talk to Zhou Mi," Kyuhyun said firmly, his hands gripping the phone on his lap to the point of pain. He breathed slowly, steadying himself. "Zhou Mi never called me 'Young Master'," he said, hating the odd mix of wistfulness and resentment that now coloured his low voice.
"I understand," his assistant hesitated for a heartbeat before adding softly; "Talk and I will listen."
"For the past year... since you were hired by my parents to be my assistant... why didn't you once tell me that your real name was Zhou Mi?"
Yeah, I'm singing this
song for you.
I'll never stop
singing for you.
(15th Cycle: Scarlet Promise)
A/N: I just want to remind readers to use discretion when commenting in the c-box or any public/social site about this chapter/series. Please don't put any spoilers in the c-box and please use warnings when about to talk about any plot spoilers. Thanks =)