even the stars, they burn (some even fall to the earth)
+kyuhae; ~5K ; pg-13.
donghae is wandering. kyuhyun is his destination.
Tokyo is pretty, Donghae thinks, smiling at the passing crowd of students. Laughing and giggling, they point at different signs on the street and push each other into compliance. Donghae shoves his hands into his pockets and takes out a piece of paper written in somewhat neat hangul, tracing the familiar letters.
Shohokame Street, 43rd.The corner is nearby; on there is a large, bustling member of society. A flashing sign blinds people with it's sporadic blue and pink hiragana; it's a music store, from what Donghae can make out. He slips through the bodies and enters into it's small entrance, a vast difference from the sky-high windows and towering ceilings once he's inside.
There are two main television screens from what he can see; one's occupied by Ayumi Hamasaki, her eyes soulful as she bursts out lyrics of musical poetry. It flickers briefly before showing Sukima Switch instead, while the other is displaying a petite singer whose music videos reminds him of Lady Gaga. Through his basic Japanese reading skills, he makes out the name Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Shelves are stocked high with CDs, DVDs, and other merchandise; posters, shirts of favorite bands, an international section with following sections of music by country, and then different portions belonging to R&B, hip hop, rock, that sort of stuff. Donghae fingers a few brightly patterned albums before making his way toward the cashier.
"Hello," he starts in slightly accented Japanese.
"Hello," the girl behind the counter straightens, her hair a peach-pink. "Can I help you? Are you looking for a specific album?"
Donghae just smiles placidly. He takes out a photo from his pocket, just about the size of an album cover, surprisingly. He traces his fingers over the fold before showing it the woman behind the counter.
"Have you seen him anywhere?"
The girl blinks. "I wouldn't know, sir, I just started working here two weeks ago." She gives him an apologetic glance, but then says, "I can find an older employee if you want?"
Donghae takes a moment to process the words, but then nods. "That - that would be good, thank you."
He waits, taps his feet on the linoleum floor and traces his fingers over the lines of his photo. There's a smiling face plastered on that once mirrored his own, and next to it, another person whose lips pull up in an embarrassed little grin.
Donghae looks up just as the manager comes in, a scrawny guy with half his head dyed blonde. Smiling once more, Donghae holds up the picture and says, "Have you seen him anywhere?"
The manager only blinks one before saying, "Huh." He bends down for a second before popping back up with a white manilla folder. "For you," he prods Donghae to take it, and with a suspicious hand he does, before it fades away at the familiar curl of hangul.
"Anything else you'd like?"
Donghae shakes his head wordlessly.
In the comforts of his own hotel room, Donghae slips open the envelope and takes out a long parchment of paper. It's folded once, and when he opens that, another paper falls out from beneath. Repeat that process for a few more times until Donghae has five identical sheets, slightly crinkled at the edges. On it is curls of familiar hangul.
He picks up the first letter and begins to read.
Me and Donghae went to visit my mother today. She's not faring that much better, but it's something. The days with dad really wore her down - I'm afraid that she's going to leave me just like he did. It's sort of sad, to see my mother - a proud woman - lost in her despair. I want her to be strong, but without my father it's like she just...wilted.
I told Donghae about this yesterday. He had seen the damage my father's death had on my mother. He comforted me for a while; I could see that he felt guilty, though. He didn't like the fact that I was so torn up over the fact that someone else I loved might leave me. I think he feels guilty for accepting that promotion to Barcelona, but I can't fault him - I was the one to push him to take it. For me, he's suffering. He wants to go but he wants to stay; Donghae promises that every day he's in Spain he'll call me, send letters, phone, but I don't think it'll work out. I didn't tell him that, though.
I'll let him go too, eventually. But just for now, I'll be a little bit more selfish.
A block forms itself in Donghae's throat. He fingers the lines and circles, the little squiggles underneath the letters. He always writes this way - and it's a page from his journal, Donghae realizes, not a real letter to anyone.
"Kyuhyun," Donghae murmured, placing his arm around the other's shoulder. Kyuhyun stared wordlessly out into the window, mouth pulled into a frown.
"She wasn't supposed to die, hyung," he mutters. "Mom is - was so strong. She wasn't supposed to go too."
Donghae takes a deep breath and continues on to the next paper. They're little scribbles; slowly, the hangul gets mixed with messes of kanji and hiragana; there are little notes, song lyrics, and even though Donghae can't read most of them as they go on, tears burn the back of his eyes until he has to put them down to gather himself. There's a vast difference of time in between the two documents; the entry is dated back to last year in January while the notes have the shorthanded scrawls of June. Three months unaccounted for.
"Kyuhyunnie," he says, trying the name out loud for taste. It's been so long, Donghae thinks, so long since he last said it. The Korean is easy and familiar and rustic, but it reminds him of what he has left behind. "Kyuhyunnie." His precious, his beautiful Kyuhyun.
Donghae stays up the whole night after ordering a ticket to Spain. In the morning, when he checks in reflection, there are tear marks on his cheeks. He wondered when he ever stopped crying.
Walking through Barcelona is like going back in time. Donghae remembers his weeks here, dancing and moving and generally poking around the artistically relevant sites. He's nowhere near the places he used to be when he was in Barcelona, but most of the area is still familiar. He looks through all the streets from the moment he wakes up from sleep (the night after he landed) to the evening, when his muscles ache and beg him to stop walking.
He complies, throwing away his third water bottle for the day and heading into a pub.
Donghae doesn't know much Spanish or English for that matter, so he grunts at the bartender and points to the nearest drink, implying that he wanted the same. The bartender shrugs and pours him the same.
The color is a liquid amber, which reminds him of Kyuhyun's hair in the summertime; auburn, striking against his smile. Downing his drink in one go, Donghae groans and runs a hand through his hair.
"Something on your mind?" someone barks at him in accented Spanish. Donghae looks up to see a Korean man, of all things, his skin a leathery brown and wrinkled from the days in the sun. He smiles, and more lines appear on the corners of his eyes and smile. Donghae thinks fleetingly that he wants to be like that when he's old; bear the remainder of laughter and happiness on his skin.
"Looking for someone who always runs away," he answers in return, albeit in his native tongue. "How do you keep them close to you?"
"If you let them go, kid," the old man starts, "Then you don't deserve to have 'em in the first place."
Donghae grimaces at the twinge of pain in his chest. Truth always hurt worse than fiction. The kind old man - who was proving to be more wise than just simply kind - have him an understand little grin and patted his back. "But what do I know about deserving someone? Especially after a young man like you is trying to make up for his wrong so well?"
"You think so?"
The old man laughs. He reaches into his blazer pocket and takes out what seems to be a thin, yellow package. He hands it over to Donghae, who makes out the curly English script on the cover: From, Cho Kyuhyun.
He looks up, surprised, open mouthed. The old man pats his jacket and smooths it down before nodding at him. "I do. Seems like he never wanted you to let him go either."
Second envelope contains pictures this time. Pictures of Kyuhyun smiling, that little curl of a smile that pulls his lips up and makes his eyes crinkle, makes the little mole underneath his right eye disappear. Smiles that shows the rows of his teeth, white and hidden behind the pull of his lip. Shy smiles, with his head ducked down or is hidden behind one of his hands. Stilled moments that Donghae wishes he could always have.
That's the first few pictures.
Then it shows Donghae, his own face - younger, jubilant, affectionate - as he hooks an arm around Kyuhyun's neck and kisses him fondly on the cheek before moving on to his mouth. Them at the movies while Kyuhyun is playing with his phone and Donghae is nearly crying at the ending of some romance film. Them in college, posing for their friends and Donghae laughing while Kyuhyun pouts just slightly (not that he would ever admit it afterward).
Them at a restaurant for their third anniversary. At a birthday party. At a concert together. Family dinners with both their parents. Sitting in Donghae's front lawn and letting off firecrackers.
The last one was the most recent that Donghae could remember; them on one of their dates, Donghae's idea. Kyuhyun had just got off the roller coaster and he wasn't feeling too well, even though Donghae felt exhilarated. The week before he left, Donghae remembers this date well.
Both their hair stick up annoyingly. Kyuhyun seems tired, his eyes curved into sad crescent moons even as he smiles, and Donghae's is the same - if not a bit strained when it wasn't forced. A last memory, the last dinner. Kyuhyun was abnormally affectionate that day, preferring to hold his hand a lot and letting him kiss the younger whenever he wanted.
In the picture, they did neither. No holding hands or skinship or kissing. They sat close enough for their arms to touch, but just barely, as if there was now an invisible wall between both of them and they knew it.
The thing about the last picture, though, is that it's creased in the middle, through the space that separated them, as if it had been folded over and over many times. Donghae turns it around, wiping furiously at his eyes and cursing himself for being a mess. On the back, there's just a few scribbled words.
Spend one week here. Remember.
1/15/2011. That day we fell out of love.
Donghae stays a week in Barcelona, drinking and walking through the streets with nothing to do. People talk to him briefly - he is a tourist, after all - and he manages to buy a few things (a hat, a new shirt, a keychain, little incessant things that he doesn't really want to keep.)
He remembers Kyuhyun's surprise visit that one week, his kisses, his laugh of happiness, his fingers and breath against his ear. The last visit Kyuhyun ever gave him. The last happiness that he had ever experienced.
On the seventh day Donghae buys a ticket to Rome, Italy. He leaves in the morning, the last picture tucked safely in his shirt pocket.
He stops at the Trevi Fountain, resting comfortably against its backdrop. He stares at the carefully crafted marble and stone, the sprouts of water flowing gently to the bottom and gurgling like a calm brook. Donghae marvels, amazed at how such a thing survived for hundreds of years in it's antiquity. It's something that doesn't belong here, but still manages to be beautiful in it's uniqueness.
He flings a quarter into the fountain. It settles into the bottom with a quick drop. The offering that will return you to the eternal city, his mind tells him unnecessarily, and Donghae walks away before sitting down on one of the benches nearby, reserved for tourists in their sun hats and cameras.
Donghae pulled Kyuhyun away from the majesty of the fountain, knowing that he would have to deal with the younger's glare. No one took him away from his little world of art and artistic history. Kyuhyun clutched a pamphlet filled with facts from the Roman Empire, all written very conveniently in Italian (not).
"Hyung," he started agitatedly, "I was just going to - "
"Don't care," Donghae replied cheerfully. "We're late."
"Late for what?" Kyuhyun frowned as Donghae took his arm and led him firmly to one of the bus stops.
"Oh," he tried to play it off indifferently. "For something great."
"Are you taking me to another restaurant?" Kyuhyun's eyes lit up. "Because I would really - " At Donghae's look, he faded off. He seemed too happy, into the moment. Kyuhyun sighed and let his hyung drag him around blindfolded (metaphorically) to wherever they were going. It took nearly an hour or so, and they switched buses a few times, but Kyuhyun didn't say anything about it.
Donghae kept their hands tightly enclosed and chattered on amiably about anything and everything; about how he was going to create a collection of Kyuhyun's pictures and paint them in one gallery piece and how he would cite that it was a dedication to one of the greatest things that happened in his life and Kyuhyun would simply smile or glare at the other when it started to be too much.
Kyuhyun too, though, eventually, leaned into Donghae until their foreheads touched and they stayed like that until they got to their destination.
When they got out, they saw many people walking around what seemed to be a large square. There were very few shops but an overflow of people; out in the distance, there was a great dome, covered in colored marble and rising against the sun.
"St. Peter's Basilica," Donghae held on tighter to Kyuhyun's hand when he attempted to let go. "It's beautiful, don't you think?"
"I don't want to visit a church, Donghae," he said tiredly.
"We don't have to go in," the older assured him. "I just wanted you to see it."
Kyuhyun obliged to his wishes and took a good look at one of the greatest architectural projects in mankind, biting his lip. He couldn't get his feet to move away from his spot, and he and Donghae stood there with their hands clasped.
"I always kinda knew ever since I met you that you'd be the one I'd spend my life with," Donghae started conversationally, ignoring when Kyuhyun raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I know that we're young and everyone would probably say we're stupid and childish, but I'm gonna marry you. Maybe not here, maybe not in Seoul, but I'll take you to the Netherlands or Denmark or Spain and we can get married."
"Hyung - "
"So just keep holding on until then, alright?"
Neither stepped forward to return to their bus or get a ticket to go in. People began to stare at them as they passed by, but eventually Kyuhyun looked beside him and saw that Donghae was focusedly not looking at him, worry staining his face.
"I always wanted to get married in Paris," Kyuhyun shoved Donghae to the side with his free hand. "City of romance and all."
Donghae laughed and kissed him right then and there.
"I want to get married in Paris," he repeats the words to himself. "The city of romance."
"Signore, ti piacerebbe un drink?" a good looking Caucasian man smiles at him with pearly whites, a metal tray in his right hand. Donghae jerks back and shook his head. "Grazie."
Still, the Caucasian man continues smiling. He picks up a little fruity drink from his tray, peach pink with tinkling ice cubes clinking around in the class. There was a slice of lemon and a little umbrella there that he picked up slightly with his finger, catching Donghae's attention there. "I insist, signore."
Donghae flipped up the little umbrella, only to see that there was neat French sprawled in a circular fashion. Emmenez-moi à Paris.
He didn't know that much French, and neither did he plan to learn the language. But he had bothered Kyuhyun a lot when he was learning the language for the younger to teach him at least one or two things. And he always remembered that one phrase that Kyuhyun said, staring at magazines and after closing his favorite books.
Take me to Paris.
After his flight lands in the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Donghae immediately pulls out the folded picture that he has been given in Barcelona. Kyuhyun had to be here, he was sure of it. Pulling his sole luggage along, he exits the airport with haste and looks around for any sign of a French taxi. He has a Korean-to-French dictionary in his hands, but he sorely wishes that he had someone else with him at the time.
Annoyed, he looks at the time from his phone, but promptly stops when he notices the date.
February 3rd, 2012.
Donghae presses his lips tightly together and puts his phone back in his pocket. Giving up on the taxi for a while, he goes to a nearby coffee shop for the jetlagged passengers and sits down on one of the tables, staring out at the crowds of people with a lone photo in his hands. He picks at the edges and creases the fold over and over until he doesn't even realize he's doing it anymore.
Any one of those people out there can be Kyuhyun, he realizes. How will he find him?
Donghae supposes that it was all his fault anyway. He was always itching to move, wanting to go places. He knew that Kyuhyun wasn't the type to move around that much, preferring to stay constant in one place. He was the anchor in Donghae's life.
Sure, Donghae used to spoil him. Take him on trips, make him laugh, shower him with compliments. How could he not? From the moment they met, Donghae knew that this was it, this was the last time he was gonna love someone. His body told him to do it fully and so he does, even until today.
I shouldn't have left, he thinks to himself. I should've brought him to Barcelona with me. Donghae tried, he really did, but he couldn't separate Kyuhyun from his sister, the only family he had left. I should've never gone to Spain at all. Maybe then Kyuhyun would still be with him. Maybe then they wouldn't have fallen to the ashes.
In his little self-despondency, he puts his photo back into his breast pocket, closest to his heart. And then he takes out his phone and hesitantly picks a familiar number before texting, Noona, I miss him.
Not nearly five minutes later, Cho Ahra replies back.
I do too, Donghae. But he's lost.
Not gone forever, just lost. And Donghae wants to find him.
He remembers going back to Seoul on a surprise visit, a break from his studies in Barcelona. He had gone up to the Cho sibling's shared apartment and knocked on the door, a handful of roses in hand - Kyuhyun hated when he did sappy things like this, but Donghae hoped that this one time he wouldn't mind.
He was met with Ahra's dead stare and her tired words. "He disappeared, Donghae. Three months after you left, in September. One day, he was here - all smiley and toothy and happy, and then the next day he was just gone. He left his clothes, his memories, possessions...so I wondered if he would come back but he hasn't. Just left out of thin air."
"No, that can't be - "
If it was anything, Donghae had grown depressed and was almost about to give in to the nasty voices in his head when he got a text from Kyuhyun one day. He remembers that day being one of the best in his life. It was his second chance.
Tokyo, Shohokame Street, 43rd.
Catch me if you can.
Unable to help it, Donghae opens the text and stares at the hangul until they make no more sense to him. His smile is hid behind his hand but he can't help it; it was the light to what seemed like would be a terrible rest of his life.
Silently, he presses the reply button and says almost hesitantly, happy birthday, love. He wants to write more, add an emote or two, maybe send him a picture and hope that Kyuhyun would receive it and smile from wherever part of the world he was, but against all instinct, he goes against it. He's send those kind of texts before and has never gotten an answer, not once.
So he makes do with it for now and presses send.
It's horrible, just waiting for an answer, knowing that he probably wouldn't get any, but just simply waiting. Time passes by and Donghae doesn't know if it's been five minutes or five years.
But then to his immediate relief and confusion and happiness, he gets a reply back. Just a simple, ^^, but it's more than he's gotten in - in months, and Donghae's wondering if Kyuhyun really forgave him this time for leaving and - and - he's so happy that he chuckles in the middle of the store and even though people look at him, Donghae's so happy that he wants to cry.
He catches a taxi about thirty minutes later, asking in small, polite French if he could go to the Eiffel tower. The driver chuckles and says something in French, maybe about tourists and their insatiable thirst for the amazing, but complies.
At this time, it's nearly night and the streetlights are little pricks of light in the sky, like stars.
The Eiffel tower is still open for a little while after even when the driver drops him off at the Champ de Mars and waves away the charge for his non-French-speaking self, but Donghae chooses not to go up at first, but instead stares from afar at the beauty of the structure. He knew that this was definitely one of Kyuhyun's favorite sites, from it's lattice-patterned iron structure to the lit ornery of it all.
His feet move before his mind catches up, and soon he's taking the stairs to the Le Jules Verne, with it's classy open doors and -
"Hyung, don't push me, god! Why couldn't we have taken the lift?"
"Can't I be romantic for once?"
"You blindfolded me. That cut out any type of romance that you could possibly give me."
"But Kyuhyun...it's our anniversary."
"I don't...oh, wow. Okay, that's nice."
Donghae had gotten more than a satisfied smile that night. He got to experience Kyuhyun struggling to eat politely in a starred restaurant when really he wanted to shove food in his mouth to taste it all (Donghae could see it on his face) and even though their climb up had been rocky, the ending had been sweet - and spicy, if Donghae had anything to say about the night that they spent in the nearest hotel, champagne near the bedside and the scent of Kyuhyun's hair and skin filling his senses.
He forced himself to rid those thoughts or else he would be very unfortunate indeed. There was a sort of ache, a longing that he couldn't get rid of now, aching at his stomach.
Donghae was about to turn around and leave when the maitre'd spotted him from the side and came up the podium with the guest book and addressed him in polite French. "Nom et numéro, s'il vous plaît."
Out of memory, Donghae smiled slightly and said, "Lee Donghae, table for..." before realizing that he was alone and the maitre'd did not, in fact, speak Korean.
But instead of the scoff and instant 'shoo's that Donghae expected, the man smiled at him, reminding him of the man back in Barcelona that he had spoken to. Both of them had a knowing sort of gleam in their eyes.
Silently, he took out the handkerchief in his pocket and handed it over to him before waving him away silently. Donghae looked behind him and saw that there were two more couples waiting to be seated, so he stepped aside and closed the restaurant door behind him.
On it was an intricate label and a logo he knew vaguely well. It read, La Maison Favart. Underneath, it said, in the curl of hangul that he was used to, hyung, I always loved you.
Donghae almost ran to the hotel.
It's an expensive hotel, Donghae remembers, but he also remembers that it was only the best if it involved Kyuhyun. He goes up to the desk and a little out of breath, holds up the handkerchief only to realize that he needs to get his bilingual dictionary out but the concierge smiles at him and his ruffled state and says something in French that Donghae doesn't catch before the he hands him something. A receipt, a room card, and a one-way ticket to South Korea, of all places.
"Enjoy," is the only word that Donghae understands, and he takes them with shaking hands before he numbly goes up to his room.
Three days later, he flies to his homeland with his heart soaring.
The airport that he lands in is the Muan International Airport, right in Jeollanam-do. It feels so good to be back in Korea, breathing the air and listening to everyone speak Korean. Donghae knows what he has to do at this point; he calls a taxi easily and asked him for a long ride to Mokpo. It would cost him, but it would be worth it.
It's nearly evening after the two hour drive, and Donghae gets out with his limbs and legs aching. He gives the taxi driver his card and waits impatiently as he makes the cash. Donghae's asked to stop right in front of his house, a nice little brownstone where most of his childhood was.
The city is still the same, with it's kind aunts and uncles and salespeople. Donghae, though, goes to a familiar place that he knows by heart; pass by the pharmacy, then the convenience store, and then you would come to a little store by the edge of the street. A little bookstore.
He walks in and the bell rings. Behind the counter, Kyuhyun rings up a book for a customer, and his eyes flicker up as Donghae enters. He does a double take, seemingly surprised, and then finishes the order with fumbling hands as Donghae's face splits in a wide grin and he stands behind the customer.
"Have a nice day," Kyuhyun bows to the customer, who leaves. Donghae steps forward and Kyuhyun looks him easily in the eye.
Donghae breathes. "Who knew that all this time I've been searching the world for you...you were right here, underneath my nose."
Kyuhyun blinks, then smiles in that easy way that Donghae loves, that makes his eyes crinkle and the mole underneath his right eye disappear. "You never get the obvious, hyung. I thought it was a nice lesson for you. You look horrible, by the way - have you gotten any sleep?"
"Three months," Donghae says, "Three months, looking for you, nearly a whole year since you left."
The younger just stares at him with those guileless eyes. "Nearly two since you went to Barcelona."
Donghae takes the other's face in his hands and presses their lips together; he's cold and Kyuhyun's warm, bundled up in the toasty little bookstore that Donghae had completely forgot about, his father's legacy left behind that Kyuhyun still dutifully remembers.
"Lesson learned," Donghae says, running his hands through Kyuhyun's hair while the other presses their foreheads together. "Never wander away from home."
Kyuhyun snorts, because he knows that Donghae's not talking about sleepy little Mokpo, but rather him. Them. Something that they both let go but still gravitated back together.
As Donghae's in the midst of kissing Kyuhyun long and hard like he's wanted to for so many months, he hears the younger murmur against his lips, "I still want to get married. Spain sounds good this time, though."
Donghae laughs. That sounds just about right.
uh...i wrote this....in one day?
IT'S UNBETAED AND IT HAS A HAPPY ENDING I FEEL WARM INSIDE DON'T YOU