Category: Darkfic, AU
Summary: There is something wrong with Heechul.
A/N: I had to write this literally at the last-minute, so I'm sorry if it reads awkwardly! orz
Hankyung is yelling again. Heechul shakes his head, because that isn’t right, Hankyung never yells. But he’s yelling, and when his hand touches Heechul’s face, it’s not touching, but something else.
Heechul peers into the mirror at the skin purpling just below his right eye, like little violets.
Christmas is everyone’s favorite holiday, because they have an excuse to be together and eat their faces off. Hyukjae orders Japanese sashimi for everyone with money he doesn’t have. “Siwon’s treat,” he explains to the curve of Ryeowook’s eyebrow, and punches numbers he copied from the internet into his cell phone.
Siwon comes late, with Hankyung dangling off his arm. They both glance at Heechul, but Heechul’s busy whispering into Yunho’s ear, and Siwon feels Hankyung’s grip on his arm tighten.
“Hyung,” he says.
Five hours later, Siwon is bleary-eyed and finds Hyukjae taking ten-thousand won notes from his wallet. “Hey, that’s mine.”
Hyukjae shrugs. “If you want to make some easy cash, why don’t you take a photo of Heechul-hyung over there.”
Siwon turns and follows the tip of Hyukjae’s index finger. It’s Heechul, and he’s not alone. It’s Yunho, fingers in Heechul’s hair, mouth trailing down the tilt of his neck. Siwon makes a funny sound in his throat.
“Hey.” Leeteuk is nudging Donghae. “Have you seen Heechul?”
Donghae mumbles and rolls over. Leeteuk pushes him gently.
“Heechul. I haven’t seen him in a week. Does he live here anymore?”
Donghae rolls to the other side, squeezes his head between the sides of the pillow.
Leeteuk tries not to curse, curses anyway, and starts to think If only Kangin were—but that’s as far as he’ll allow that train of thought to go.
“Okay,” he says to no one in particular and leaves the room.
When he reaches the kitchen, Heechul is standing there drinking milk from the carton with one hand perched on his hip. As always. He reminds Leeteuk of a bird suddenly, and he wants to hug him so badly.
“Where’ve you been?” Leeteuk asks casually, maneuvering past him to get started on the pile of dishes in the sink.
Behind him he hears Heechul’s indignance. “What do you mean? I’ve been here this whole time.”
Kibum calls Heechul out on his day off. His fingers are hurting from too much guitar playing. He needs to work on those calluses, get tough. Tough like Heechul-hyung, although in a different sense.
“Where do you want to eat?” He asks, instinctively reaching over to brush a piece of hair away from Heechul’s eyes. His hand dangles in mid-air, muscle memory. Remembering how it had been cast aside and reproached long ago. He isn’t allowed to be so affectionate, not when they both have people they love.
But Heechul doesn’t scold him this time. He smiles at the act of kindness. “Thanks Kibum. Where we always go?”
Kibum drives for two minutes before realizing he turned on the wrong street. His fingers are icy on the steering wheel.
When Heechul dreams, he goes back to that time they were filming Exploration of the Human Body, the episode on tears. They hired this pretty little thing, fresh out of university, with pale freckles on her cheeks and an upturned mouth. She was their acting partner for the day. Kangin, Heechul remembers, had been beside himself with delight. Winking at her, his fingers digging into the couch, Leeteuk’s side. And then when it was Donghae’s turn, she recited that famous line about erasers: they say they found an eraser in my head. Her words settled over the room like a black shroud, smothering out the laughter that had previously filled the air so vibrantly. Hyukjae stopped playing with the bicycle wheel and sat down. Even the look on Donghae’s face was perfect melodrama.
It’s that moment Heechul remembers, not the seconds of manic hilarity that ensued after Donghae’s infamous follow-up.
Hankyung corners Heechul in the bathroom when he returns from a night out. “Have you been avoiding me?” He asks furiously. His teeth are shaking, but it’s out of fear more than anything else.
Heechul’s eyes widen. Hankyung recognizes the look. It’s genuine hurt.
“Why would I be avoiding you? I love you,” Heechul murmurs. Hankyung loosens his hold on Heechul’s shirt and feels himself slide along the tiles to the floor. His eyes are wet and he hears himself saying Sorry, sorry again and again, and Heechul hushing him, it’s okay.
It’s not the same, and Hankyung can’t pinpoint why.
He still gets jealous. His hands still get that itching feeling, like they can’t quite clean themselves. And then Heechul is still pretty and his skin still blooms flowers the next day. The difference is he doesn’t go and make out with Yunho, or fuck Jay in the backseat of his convertible, or spend the night at Kibum’s apartment.
He sits at the edge of the mattress happy and warm waiting for Hankyung to wake up, for Hankyung’s hands to circle the bruise on his lip.
It’s strange being so easily forgiven.
Leeteuk sends Hyukjae, of all people, to talk to Heechul. “He won’t listen to me, because I’m his friend.”
Hyukjae gapes at him. “And I’m not?” But it’s true.
“No. That’s why you’re the only one who can talk some sense into him. This isn’t healthy—as much as I love Hankyung.” But Leeteuk says the last bit through closed teeth.
Hyukjae nods, even if he doesn’t mean it. “Okay.”
He finds Heechul in his room, combing his hair with a thin comb. “Do you think I look better with a center part or—oh, it’s you.”
Hyukjae shivers. Heechul’s look falls plainly on his face. “I came to talk to you about Hankyung,” he starts, straight to the point.
“What about him?” Heechul brightens at the mention of the name.
Hyukjae swallows. His throat forms a small knot. He has never done this before. “It’s not healthy. What he’s doing isn’t right.” He keeps his eyes on Heechul’s and watches Heechul’s lips curve angrily into a scowl.
“What is he doing? Why do you have to be so judgmental? It’s my life—it’s my—h—“ He wheezes the last word and clutches at his chest, and Hyukjae panics, because what if this is a heart attack? Should he call for help?
But Heechul recovers within moments. “I think I hear Ryeowook calling for you,” he says calmly.
It turns out Ryeowook is.
He doesn’t understand. No one told him anything. Leeteuk’s lips pressed into a tight line; Hankyung’s head between his hands, Siwon’s rocking back and forth, slow rhythm like the ocean tide, Shindong’s silence. He had to glean from their actions to figure it out.
One day he woke up and there were only four of them in the apartment.
“He’ll get better, Donghae-hyung.” Kyuhyun holds him until it hurts. The thing is, he’s heard that before.
How to Construct a Paper Heart
1. Fold a piece of paper in half.2. Draw a half heart with the point at the bottom and the point in the center of the curved top touching the fold.3. Cut along the pencil line.4. Unfold the paper to see the heart.5. Smooth out the crease.
“See how easy it is,” Heechul says. The little girl, Misun, the one who can’t speak properly, gurgles in delight. He holds the paper up against the sunlight and it casts a shadow over his face in the shape of love.