Title: Where Rabbits and Turtles cross the finishing line together
Length: Chaptered One Shots (2)
Pairing: SungMin/Yesung, Sungmin/Kyuhyun, Kyuhyun/Ryeowook
Summary: We all have a race to run in life. This is a story about 4 people, with life and its interferences, cross paths to crossing the finishing line together.
Author’s note: I cannot believe I’m done with this. This took forever to write itself. Yes it wrote itself. I started this like, 2 years ago maybe? The original story was so much simpler, shorter and maybe a lot less substantial (which I forgot over the two year span of abandoning this fic actually), and by my standards, I would have made this a two-shot given the word count. But since this is my personal Sungmin pairing one-shot challenge so, a one-shot it shall be. Forgive geographical errors, medical errors, grammatical errors and the not very coherent writing. Comments and critiques are welcomed~
"And the tortoise crossed the finishing line before the hare."
He was standing directly opposite the story telling room for the younger kids. It would be weird for him to join in, so he listened from the sidelines.
"I don't like the story. Do you Hyung?"
The person in question was surrounded by a few turtles. He only waved a gesture to show some kind of response. As to whether he agreed to the above statement or otherwise, we'll leave that for you to decipher.
The scenario is not as simple as it seems. Yesung is a helper at a children centre where it is home to disease-stricken children. The centre specializes in providing palliative care to these children; its biggest role is to help imprint the last happy memories of their lives.
"Seeing Smiles Soar away into Salvation" was their motto.
So in this case, Sungmin, is the patient and Yesung, is the helper. Due to the fate of circumstances however, somehow those very roles seem to have been reversed since Yesung is the quiet one keeping to himself (and his turtles), much to the dismay of Sungmin.
"Hyung..." he whines.
Yesung simply gives him the cold shoulder. It's not that he just doesn't want to associate himself with Sungmin, but rather, he just doesn't know how to. So much for being a helper.
The simple matter of the fact is that Yesung is an introvert. To help out at a children center was never his dream (and definitely not something he was inclined towards). It was one of those things he signed up for on an impulse because he needed something to pass time, and maybe jolt him on the way to his future dream.
And similarly, it was definitely not Sungmin's dream to be trapped and confined within four walls, or rather the building itself. Although Sungmin was given the liberty to play around with the colours in his room (he decidedly chose pink. Baby Pink-washed walls, hot pink bed sheets), he'd much rather spend his time elsewhere like many of the other kids his age.
However, unlike many people who resent themselves in such a state as he was in - 3rd stage throat cancer at such a young age, he look everything in his stride. In fact, unlike many others he had a rather cheerful outlook on his situation at hand. Sure the doctors have presented a less than positive review of his situation, which was the reason why he was referred to this centre. Sure it was probably impossible to recover, given the current situation, but he felt any chance was a chance that he had and HAD to take it. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he gave up just like that. He told himself if chemotherapy had once improved some other person's situation, his situation too, could have a turn for the better. He'd take that chance, he'd make it work. He after all still had his dream.
And hence we are presented with the situation as such.
So just like usual, Sungmin and Yesung would be cooped up in the same room.
But unlike usual, Sungmin decided to finally ask a question. Not a burning question, but one that rendered enough curiosity to be asked, and hopefully be answered.
"Why do you like turtles so much, Hyung?"
For once Yesung halted. He looked up and stopped midway for dramatic effect.
"Why do you like pink so much, Sungmin?"
"Hey! No fair, I asked first!"
"And I asked second. But that doesn't determine the answer’s sequence, no?"
And neither got their answer. Sungmin was more baffled than anything else that Yesung is actually even talking, and joking with him.
It was another one of those usual days, only that something small happens to dawn significance on that day.
"Since you like turtles so much, and have yet to tell me the reason, I shall introduce you to my rabbit first."
He immediately made a dash for his bed and pulled out the fluffy, furry, and slightly battered down rabbit from beneath the covers. After rescuing it from the pool of pink, Sungmin proceeded to pinch it, fluff it, dust it, and eventually kiss it.
Yesung watched all this in mild amusement. He's seen it before. It was Sungmin's routine basically.
Twirling his way back towards Yesung, he held the pink possession right in front of Yesung with outstretched arms.
"Here you go! The name's Kyuhyun. Kyu, say hi to Yesung Hyung...yes with the honorific you rude brat."
Yesung remained silent and kept his poker face. His curiosity was pricked. Never in the 4 months he has spent watching over Sungmin (or was it the other way round) has he heard Sungmin mentioned the name of someone else. Kyuhyun couldn't have been just a random name plucked out from a strawberry tree...
"Are you wondering about the origin of the name?"
Yesung snapped out of his train of thoughts.
"Ah... I suppose I could tell you."
Sungmin paused, shrugged, looked up straight into Yesung's eyes with a forlorn look.
He quietly began.
"He was the only person I couldn't get rid of."
Yesung was obviously startled. And his face made no attempt in hiding it.
Sungmin laughed inwardly at how comical Yesung had looked with that bemused expression, but carried on all the same.
"When I found out I had cancer, my parents were obviously devastated and hurt. It was probably the only time in my memory that I've seen them hurt, or cry. They tried hiding that sorrow from me, but it was pretty evident that they ached each time we went to the doctors, each time I went for therapy. I couldn't see them that way. I couldn't stand to hurt another like that. My parents were as bad as it could get."
Yesung took all this in quietly. Not once interrupting. His usual stoic expression had now replaced his earlier shock.
"So I began distancing myself from people. It was pretty easy at first since I wasn't that close to many in my school anyway, and no one questioned much. But this guy here," Sungmin said poking the rabbit affectionately, "simply wouldn't leave me alone. He suspected something when I excused myself out of music lessons on many occasions when we were singing. And from then on he kept on clinging to me, practically throwing himself on me."
Sungmin stopped and laughed to himself. Oh the times.
"He refuse to budge even when I gave him the silent treatment and kept on probing at me asking what was wrong. I never did tell him though, but we pretty much came to some kind of consensus that I wasn't actually ever going to tell him and he wasn't actually going to ever leave me alone."
Yesung smiled. Such innocent friendship, he thought to himself. He secretly admired what Sungmin and Kyuhyun had shared although it had been described in less than a few minutes.
"Kyuhyun, is an acquaintance I had in Junior High. The only person who was willing to stick with me despite how I'm like this. Or rather, despite how much I tried to push him away. Rabbit was a gift from him."
Yesung immersed himself in deep thought. He was careful to note that Sungmin had used the word acquaintance rather than friend. Sungmin wasn't one for details so when he took the effort to differentiate Yesung knew something was different.
"What happened then?"
"Oh I moved back to my home town – here for treatment. Well if you call staying in this place treatment. What's the word they used? Oh yeah, palliative care. I've never met him again since I came here."
It was Sungmin's turn to have an unreadable face. His expression then betrayed no emotions and Yesung was finding it hard to gather if Sungmin felt anything about leaving.
Questions flooded Yesung's mind; what relationship did the two have? Was it really necessary for Sungmin to distance himself like that? Would things have been any different? Why would the said friend want to befriend Sungmin? Why would the said friend stay with Sungmin despite how much the latter was pushing him away? Was he ever sad that Sungmin never told him the truth? More importantly, was he sad when Sungmin left without a word, uncontactable?
Yesung and Sungmin were encased in silence. Not the uncomfortable or awkward kind, but just pure silence in which both were just in their own world of thoughts.
Then Sungmin snapped out of his reverie first. A grin began to take shape on his face.
"An eye for an eye."
"I told you the origin of the name along with a lot of my history. Payback time. Why do you like turtles?"
"Well you still haven't told me why you like pink?"
"Well you can save that question for another day. Hurry up and introduce your turtles to me. That's the least you should do if you still refuse to tell me the reason for your love for them."
Yesung sighed, unable to find a way of wriggling out of this. He stood up and went to retrieve the turtles he had in a rather large tank, or cardboard box rather, at the far end of Sungmin's room.
"Okay I don't know how self-introductions with terrapins work but here's Ddangkoma”.
Sungmin laughed, "Wonderful naming sense."
"And I supposed you're wondering about the origin now?"
"Well it wouldn't hurt to share, no? I spluttered a lot, your turn."
Yesung sighed, not a weary one, but one that had a tinge of happiness that you could almost make out a smile just by hearing it.
"What do you want to do in life Hyung?"
The person in question halted cleaning his terrapin box.
"I mean you can't possibly spend your whole life here can you? I'm going to die soon, your attachment here would then be terminated, no?"
"I don't actually know."
Sungmin stared at him in disbelief. "How can you not know? You're the one who has a life to live! You are young, you should have big plans for the future!"
Sungmin gesticulated frantically in an attempt to stress the point he was trying to make.
Yesung shrugged a little too nonchalantly for Sungmin's taste. The latter burst. Like a broken Three Gorges Dam.
"Leave this place right now. I don't need you as my caretaker."
It was a hundred and eighty degree turn in Sungmin's change of tone. A change that anyone would have been scared stiff. It's not every day that someone cheery like an energetic bunny goes berserk and suddenly has a change in attitude.
"Did you not hear me? I said go and hand in your resignation letter now. I don't need you here. Or rather I don't want you to be here."
All cordialness, formalities from the younger to the older were rejected; what left was simply curt rudeness and disrespect. Sungmin's way of speaking to Yesung at that moment would be heavily frowned upon in Korean society and anyone else who heard it would most definitely shocked.
Yesung was however the calmest he has ever been, as though he was in a hot spring of tranquillity. He smiled as he popped the question.
“Why do you like pink?”
“Are you kidding me? I’m firing you and you want to ask about my love for pink?”
“Turtles are a symbol of patience and wisdom.”
“They also know how to take things slow and learn along the way. I guess as the story goes, slow and steady wins the race.”
“Well sadly, life and its opportunities does not wait for you. And if you’re going to be slow as a turtle, you will never find your happiness in life before you die.”
Just like me Sungmin added in a hushed voice, as if that statement was more for himself rather than the person he was chiding.
Resuming his composure, he barked out in his harshest tone he could muster, “leave. Now.”
“But I’m happy now.”
“You know, sometimes you don’t need to search for happiness when happiness has always been beside you.”
Sungmin gave up. He retreated to his bed, and pulled the sheets above his head and snuggled with Kyuhyun, the bunny. And maybe, just maybe, Sungmin had in actual fact pushed away his own happiness.
Sungmin recovered from his temper quite easily, and the day after, he trotted over to Yesung, Ddangkoma and friends with a spring in his step.
“Let's act out the story!”
And when all Sungmin got in return for his joyous proclamation was Yesung’s dumbfounded expression, Sungmin just took the box of turtles and swiftly carried it to the side of the room where a stretch of masking tape had been laid on the floor.
Upon realizing his precious friends had been moved, Yesung snapped out of his daze and scrambled over to the other end of the room.
“Hang on, what are you doing?” Yesung asked, trying to grapple with the situation at hand, fearing for the lives of his turtles.
“Kyuhyun and Ddangkoma are going to have a race!”
“But the rabbit will just stay at the start line, how can it—I mean he, complete the race?”
Sungmin beamed his perfectly straight and white teeth at Yesung.
“Well we never outlined the race track did we? If it were in a circle...it would come back to the start point and Kyuhyun has reached it.”
“But the rabbit can’t even move to begin with!”
“And he doesn’t need to move if he has already reached his goal, no?”
It was Yesung’s turn to beam. The younger had understood the point he was trying to make the day before that in life, slow and steady does wins the race like the turtle. But sometimes without realizing it, we have already attained success or happiness, we just don't know it yet.
"Do you miss him?"
"Who? Kyu? Why would I, he's right here."
"No I mean the person."
Silence. Followed by a sigh. A sigh that carried multitudes of emotions indecipherable by Yesung at that point of time.
"I do not have a say on that. I was the one who left him. So it's not right of me to say I do."
"But do you miss him?" Yesung continued probing. "Why should morality of right and wrong come into play when it comes to missing someone else?"
"Why shouldn't morality of right and wrong come into play when it comes to missing someone else?"
Answering a question with more questions; such familiar ground for both. And yet, they are threading on unknown territories of Sungmin's past, his memories. Yesung knew uncovering this very hidden feeling might change many things. Little did he know how much it would really change.
That was all Yesung needed. He smiled an understanding smile. That day, he made a decision.
Yesung was sitting in a bar. It was late that night and after Sungmin had fallen asleep, he left the centre and decided to pay this bar a visit. Located down south of Goyang where the palliative care centre was, the bar radiated a cozy atmosphere and it was rather serene to be in despite being in the bustling city of Seoul.
He was waiting, hoping that he’d strike the jackpot today.
And then the lights in the bar dimmed and the spotlight was turned to the stage where two men were standing. They proceeded to serenade those present that night with stripped down versions of popular pop songs, giving them a ballad twist.
It was soothing and Yesung found himself actually indulging in the presence of the music, taking solace in their harmonizing voices and the perfectly played keyboard. But there was something missing that he couldn’t quite put a finger on.
Well at least he managed to find what he was looking for that night. He hit jackpot. Except, he wasn’t quite sure how to claim the jackpot.
After the duo had finished their repertoire prepared for the night, Yesung was still wondering how to approach the two. Being a self-labelled introvert and not possessing the skill to approach others first, he just resorted to exerting his eye-power, which was surprisingly effective in bringing the said two people towards him.
And in an almost mocking tone, one greeted him.
“Erm, hi. Why were you staring so intently at us during the performance? And even now?”
“Kyu, where are your manners! Sorry sir, I apologize on behalf of him. We hope you enjoyed the performance and please do come by again!”
Target locked. That was easier than he thought. He didn’t need to ask for introductions.
“Ryeowook, he’s still staring…”
And Yesung finally snapped out of it.
“Sorry…I was finding someone. And now I’ve found him. Hi Cho Kyuhyun, I’m Yesung, Sungmin’s—“
It was Kyuhyun’s turn to stare, and hard.
“Did you say Sungmin? What is your relationship with him? How do you know him? Where is he? How has he been? Damn that idiot who left without ever saying good bye. And how do you know my full name? Are you some stalker? Wait, did Sungmin mention me?”
Kyuhyun’s eyes were practically fixated onto Yesung’s as if trying to extract every single bit of information about Sungmin he could get from looking into his eyes. After all, people do say that the eyes are the windows to one’s soul. Okay maybe Kyuhyun didn’t really want to see Yesung’s soul. He wanted to know about Sungmin.
Yesung wasn’t prepared for that outburst he received, so while he was still recovering from the shock, a small voice came to break the silence.
“Oh…an acquaintance from Junior High.”
Acquaintance. Both used the same word to describe their relationship.
“How about we sit down and talk about this over some drinks?” Yesung shyly proffered.
Yes, with the honorific you rude brat.
Yesung smiled recalling that exchange with the rabbit. It was going to be a long night.
Entering the room of pink, Yesung was faced with a Sungmin crossing his arms sitting in the centre of the room.
“Why are you late today? Did you go back to Seoul? But don’t you only go back to Seoul on weekends? Today is a Wednesday!”
Yesung didn’t say anything other than ruffle the younger’s hair and proceeded to play aloud on speakers the singing of Kyuhyun and Ryeowook. Unlike the previous day where there was a keyboard to accompany the two harmonizing voices, this was an acapella version of the only original song they sang yesterday from their set list.
“What song is this?”
“It’s an original song written by a duo I went to listen to yesterday. It’s titled “The One I Love”.
A stirring feeling overcame Sungmin. The lyrics. One of the voices…but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“So how is it?” Yesung quipped when the song had ended.
“…I can tell the lyrics mean something to the two of them and their voices convey the emotions through. However, there seems to be something missing. Not in the song, but in them as a duo…”
“Yeah, we get that a lot,” a seemingly foreign voice fills the room. But Sungmin realized, it is one of the voices he has just heard in the recording.
Only that it wasn’t a recording. It was a live phone call and the voice was coming through the hand phone.
And standing at the front door of the fortress of pink were two men – one shorter in height than Sungmin was, and one much taller, holding the said phone, still on call mode.
Sungmin was about to thank the two for the lovely song and their kind visitation when he realized who was actually standing at the door holding on to the hand phone.
The voice, the lyrics.
Where are you? What are you doing? Because I only think of one person…
He wrote the lyrics.
It all made sense now.
Yesung’s visit to Seoul, the song, the voice, the presence.
But Sungmin wasn’t quite sure how to react anymore. He wanted to run; like he had been doing all his time with Kyuhyun. He wanted to hide, like how he had hidden back in his hometown away from Seoul. Away from Kyuhyun. It wasn’t entirely intentional then, but now he had every intention to.
“Don’t you ever think of playing this game of hide and seek again,” the foreign voice resounded.
Only that the voice was no longer foreign. It was the most familiar it has ever been, even after breaking his voice. He still managed to see right through his thoughts, even after three years.
“There’s nothing to hide because if I’m here, it probably means I know everything. Everything you refused to tell me three years ago.”
Sungmin sighed. Maybe some things just don’t change. He really couldn’t ever get rid of him. And maybe, he never wanted to in the first place.
After awkward introductions were through, Sungmin found out that Kyuhyun and Ryeowook are two high school students that go around Korea to sing, scouting for various bars to perform at as a means of making themselves known. They also post videos on Cyworld and Youtube as another avenue of publicity. After two years however, they haven’t managed to sign themselves on because every time they auditioned to be accepted as a singing duo, the company would always tell them something is missing in the group.
Sungmin nodded. Indeed there was something missing. But what was it? Both were musically talented, both could play a variety of instruments, both could write and compose their own songs, Ryeowook had an amazing high register and Kyuhyun a great solid mid-range.
And then it dawned upon him.
“Hey, would you two consider Yesung-Hyung as an additional member of your duo? Well it wouldn’t be a duo anymore, but it would be a trio!”
“What on earth are you spluttering Lee Sungmin! I can’t sing! And these two people are serious about their music—“
“And I’m serious about you being able to sing and all three of your voices being able to blend! I’ve heard you sing to your turtles sometimes when I’m having my afternoon naps and you are good. Why don’t you give it shot Hyung?”
“Wait, Sungmin-ssi, you mean to say that Yesung-Hyung might actually be that missing piece that everyone has been telling us about?”
The hope that was encased in the question that Ryeowook voiced was the hope that practically everyone in the room (sans Yesung) was clinging on to.
Followed by Ryeowook’s excited squeal of excitement and joy of “I’ll be back soon!”
And he proceeded to drag Yesung out of Sungmin’s room, down the hallways to the Music Room in the corner.
Kyuhyun and Sungmin were simply left in the room laughing at the ineffective resistance Yesung was putting up against the strength of Ryeowook’s excitement, only to eventually relent and be dragged away.
And after about a minute or so of stomach-ache-inducing laughter, the pair finally subdued and an air of nostalgic silence fell upon the room.
The taller one broke it.
“Like how you would always try and make me laugh, and fail but in the end you would start laughing halfway at your own joke, making me laugh in the end.”
“Well, that simply means I succeeded right?”
Sungmin simply smiled. Because a smile conveyed more than words could ever say.
“I’m glad you’re living your dream.”
“Min, it was our dream. I’m sorry I didn’t wait—“
Sungmin shook his head.
“Not was. It is. Thank you for living our dream.”
And without further words, they understood each other.
Eventually, they all did come to a conclusion that Yesung was the final missing piece to their voices. Not only did he blend and harmonize well with the duo, he added an additional range and a different texture to their voices, giving their sound a raw and emotional feel that manages to tug at all heart strings possible. Perfect for the genre of ballad songs they were doing.
A few weeks later, they decided to go audition. Not as a duo anymore, but as a trio. As for their group name, well that will have to wait. Passing the audition and being signed on was the key priority now.
“No, no, no,” Sungmin protested. “You guys need to have a name.”
“Sungmin-ssi is right. Maybe going around simply being called Kyuhyun and Ryeowook might have been a reason for us not being taken seriously,” reasons Ryeowook.
“But that’s our names, what’s wrong with that?” Kyuhyun retorted indignantly.
“Nothing’s wrong with your names, except that it makes you individual people rather than being a group, especially now that we have three people, Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, Yesung…” Yesung mused to no one in particular.
“Hey! Why don’t you call yourselves K.R.Y?” Sungmin chirped, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“Wonderful naming sense,” Kyuhyun sarcastically responded.
“Yes it is wonderful, because not only is it your names, it’s similar to the English spelling of “cry” and it sounds similar! It will be memorable! And you guys sing heart-wrenching ballads which makes people cry! Or at least your first original song is. I’m a genius.”
After a minute of silence or so and Sungmin eagerly flailing his hands about trying to make a point, Ryeowook made the deciding vote. “I like it. Thank you Sungmin-ssi!”
Now that they have their name, it was time to go. Unfortunately, Sungmin had to stay behind and couldn’t accompany them given his chemotherapy schedule for the day.
“Sungmin, I’ll—we’ll be back soon, and in the mean time you must undergo your chemotherapy, be cooperative and not trouble the other caretakers around, okay? You must eat your meals and medication on time, take your afternoon nap and not eavesdrop on other people like you eavesdropped on my singing and—”
“Yes, yes...do you think I am a baby or something?””
Yesung ruffled Sungmin’s hair and with that, the three set off from Goyang to Seoul.
Unfortunately, Sungmin was indeed a baby. He refused to undergo chemotherapy for that day as he knew that would make him too tired to even stay up and wait for the good news he knew Yesung was going to bring when he came back later in the evening. He refused to take his afternoon nap as he was too anxious and didn’t want to fall into deep sleep and not wake up later in the evening. He was exceptionally picky with his food that day and troubled all the other caretakers into making a rabbit shaped bento, only to just stare at it and barely eat some of the rice and seaweed. And because he didn’t eat, he couldn’t take his medication as he had promised.
Of course all this took a toll on his body, especially with his already weak immune system. He started to develop a fever without even realizing it. Given how Sungmin had refused to let anyone else into his room the whole day, by the time the caretakers had realized his condition, his body temperature was already so high that it had knocked him out cold and he had to be sent to a hospital.
So much for waiting for Yesung to be back.
“Sungmin…Sungmin, are you okay? Can you hear me?”
Sungmin opened his eyes to a room that was decidedly not pink. The ceiling was a bright white, the sheets were white, Kyu—the rabbit was nowhere to be seen, and he wasn’t in his pink pajamas. He wasn’t used to this. And then it hit him that he wasn’t in his room in the centre. He hurried up, and attempted to leave his bed, but only to find that fatigue and muscle aches had overcome his body and he couldn’t move as much as a limb.
“Come, let me help you up.”
And in front of him was Yesung, fulfilling his duties as a caretaker, preparing Sungmin’s food and helping Sungmin sit up straight. Sungmin wanted to lunge forward and give the elder a huge hug and ask how the audition went, but he simply didn’t have the strength to. Instead he just slumped back into bed lifelessly.
Yesung sighed. He wanted to chide Sungmin for being so childish, for not heeding his advice and for hurting himself like that, but he knew more than anything else that Sungmin was the one feeling sad and being in the hospital only made things worse, so he bit back his tongue.
“So…how did the…”
Yesung just nodded, knowing that Sungmin couldn’t really say much in the condition he was in.
In the past, Sungmin would squeal and hug Yesung upon such great news, but now all he could muster was a thumbs up with his stronger hand.
Deciding that silence was an opportunity, Yesung decided to say the words he had always wanted to say.
“Thank you for giving me the courage to pursue something I had long given up hope on. I didn’t know what to do with my life, which was why I decided to sign up at the centre. And it has been the best decision of my life, until you made me make another, to follow my dreams. So thank you Sungmin.”
Sungmin wanted to thank Yesung too. For so many things really. For making him realize that he had always been happy, for being the best caretaker he could ever have, for finding Kyuhyun, and letting him know the things Sungmin never had the courage to say to him directly. Perhaps he could finally die without regrets.
But he didn’t have the strength to say anything. So they just basked in comforting silence until Yesung broke it.
“The company wants to debut us next month.”
And then Sungmin realized, he needed to have this last wish.
One more month.
Would he be able to make it?
Would the gods permit it?
Would he be able to see their dreams come true?
One day before their debut, they were all crowding around Sungmin’s bed. It was an off-day that didn’t come easy and the three had to beg their manager for hours on end to free themselves of rehearsals and interviews about their upcoming debut. And so they were all back where they were one month ago, in Sungmin’s pink room. Sungmin had requested, with much effort, to be transferred back to the centre, back to his paradise of pink instead of simply staying in the whitewashed, antiseptic and cold hospital.
“Why do you like pink?”
Sungmin laughed a feeble laugh, not actually having enough energy to laugh really.
“Is…that really important?”
“It’s the first question I ever asked you…” And hopefully not the last…
"A man shouldn't be afraid to like pink." Came a voice that was way too low, and contained more energy than Sungmin had even managed to muster up for the past week.
Three heads turned towards the source of the voice, which came from the tallest of the three, shrugging as he said the answer for Sungmin who was way too tired to respond.
“Although I do not share his love for pink, I guess it is a pretty valid reason. Hence that pink bunny I gave him…that is slowly turning grey.”
Sungmin used the said pink bunny to whack Kyuhyun on his head with as much energy as he could muster. Needless to say he missed and only landed a hit on his upper arm.
“Let’s wear pink on our debut stage on Music Bank then!” Ryeowook excitedly chirped.
And without anyone having to utter another word, it was decided. Perhaps it was the least they could do for their dying friend. The only hurdle was to convince their stylists that debuting in pink was indeed a manly colour befitting of whatever image they were going to try and portray.
“And we are live on Music Bank! Introducing the next act who will be having their debut performance on this very stage, the group that will have you crying at their amazing voices. Please welcome K.R.Y with “Promise You”!”
Sungmin inwardly chuckled. So the emcees did end up using that as a pun to introduce his friends. He knew his genius would come in handy.
And there they were on the television screen, standing on top of three pedestals looking like angels descending from above. The dry ice, or was in liquid nitrogen, that the company had invested in for their debut stage was really creating the atmosphere of mystic and grandeur. Sungmin could almost cry at the beauty of their debut stage. But what topped it all off was that they were really in pink. Kyuhyun in a pastel pink blazer, Ryeowook in a hot pink vest, and Yesung in a baby pink trench coat. And they looked perhaps the manliest and most handsome Sungmin has ever seen them.
The song started with the clear notes from the piano that Ryeowook was playing on. So this is what it sounds like to hear Ryeowook play the piano, Sungmin thought to himself. A while later though he realized, that sadly, it wasn’t live and it was Ryeowook playing with a back-track although the piano was mic-ed. The woes of live music programmes. But he decided he would only ingrain in his memory the good and so he fixated on the angelic portrait Ryeowook was when he was playing the piano and his skilful fingers, knowing that it would sound just as great live.
And then the first two words of the song resounded from Yesung, that raw emotional voice that was singing the words.
It was as though he was singing to Sungmin directly a promise that would be told in the song. And Sungmin promised himself he would hang on for his dear life to hear every last word of it.
Kyuhyun then opened the first verse in his smooth, mellow voice. Although it sounded different three years ago when they were still in Junior High having music lessons, there was something about the texture and execution of his singing that still makes it uniquely Kyuhyun, and that was something that never changed.
Sungmin smiled at the memories of them singing together, in music class, during breaks in the corner of the school yard where it would just be the two of them with their voices and Sungmin’s pink guitar. He smiled at his most fond memory when the two of them made a promise, to pursue music together when they grew up. And he was happy, happy that Kyuhyun was indeed pursuing music, even if it wasn’t with him, it was enough for him.
When it came to the chorus and the three of them sang in perfect harmony, it was like pieces of a puzzle coming together, fitting so unanimously that no one could disagree otherwise. Hearing their voices together almost felt like they were meant for each other and Sungmin was so amazed. He hadn’t had the opportunity to properly hear them all three together till this very day and he was glad that at least he had this day. He was going to remember this for life. Or death.
These were the 4 minutes he was always going to hold on dearly to into after life, into eternity.
Promise you, I will live thinking of you.
We are the one from heart to heart.
Promise You, what I want to tell is just “I love you”.
And his eyelids closed for the very last time, holding on to the promise he had received.
In the end, the rabbit and the turtle crossed the finish line together. But that finish line was far from the end. It was a new beginning. For Sungmin, for Yesung, for Kyuhyun and for Ryeowook.