- - - - -
He did not know how long he stood there stiffly, staring at the boy in front of him like paralyzed, his mind wiped out completely blank. Then, after something that could have been an eternity or just a mere heartbeat, the body on the floor moved. Bare, bruised arms meekly struggled against the trashed debris of the chair in order to try and lift the body up, eyelids fluttering.
Donghae felt cold, frozen and unable to move, heart beating as if it wanted to escape the unsatisfactory cage of his chest. His mouth was dry and he could not tell the awe apart from the fear that was cascading through his inner.
A small groan escaped the figure on the ground, chest heaving heavily as he stilled, seemingly powerless. His head rolled to the side without any strength, and the eyelids, that caught bluish and blackish shades in the night’s scarce light, fluttered again, this time to look up at the unmoving man that stood in the doorframe. For one heartbeat, they looked at each other, and Donghae could see the night sky playfully draw its own reflection in the two brownish abysses, almost sickly in contrast to the moonlight-touched milky white skin. Then they closed again. Donghae felt like he’d just leaped out into space, weightless in an never-ending fall.
Suddenly, the thud of the door to his apartment was heard behind him, and he felt like his heart stopped for the second time this night.
“Donghae? Hae-oppa? Are you here? Oppa!”
He stood frozen for yet another moment, terrified, staring at the figure on the ground in sudden horror.
Donghae shook himself back to reality and managed to collect himself to a degree where he could stumble back into his living room, fumbling the door shut behind him and all but throwing himself across the room, his legs just barely obeying his brain’s command, just to meet Hyoyeon in the door way. She looked him up and down, confusion and worry drawing in her face.
“Donghae? Are you okay?”
Donghae opened his mouth, found his own speaking-ability had suddenly abandoned him and closed it again, barely managing a meek nod and a low, unintelligent and incoherent murmur.
The short blonde blinked and raised her eyebrows. “What? Are you sure?”
He opened his mouth again, but had yet to find his own words, and just nodded again. She frowned.
“You look like you just saw a ghost. Did you have a nightmare?”
He shook his head slowly managed to find his own voice again. “There’s - uh - there is - uhm - the - I - uh, balcony …” he ended weakly.
“… Balcony," he mumbled again, even vaguer.
Hyoyeon looked from the seemingly confused brown-hairy in front of her, to the door behind him and back again. “Balcony?" she repeated. “What’s with the balcony, oppa?”
“There is … it’s - that’s … there …” he mumbled unconnectedly, running a hand through his hair.
Bewildered, Hyoyeon looked at the door again, then she walked past Donghae towards it. The man blinked, but before he had had time to react, the lively girl had reached the door and pulled it open. Helplessly, he watched her stop her quick pace as if she’d walked straight into a wall, her hand flying up to her mouth as he eyes widened and a high-pitched, half-choked shout escaped her.
She stood very still for a short while, Donghae watching her from behind without knowing what to do, staring at the unbelievable scenery with wide eyes, then her hand lowered slowly. “Oh my god," she breathed in awe. “Donghae …”
She looked up, gazing at the empty sky above the roof. Then she turned back to him slightly, but still staring at the shape on the floor, as if unable to tear her eyes away from it. Slowly, still dazed, Donghae walked half-way towards her. She gave him a glance, big eyes full of awe.
Carefully, she crouched, stretching one hand out. Not even knowing why, Donghae opened his mouth as if in warning, and took a step towards her, but no sound came over his lips, and her fingertips had already touched the whitish shoulder.
“It’s alive," she whispered. Donghae stood silent. She rose again, slowly walked across the room and carefully sat on the edge of the sofa, watching the unmoving boy from distance, seeming slightly dazed.
“What will you do with him? … it?”
Donghae just shrugged helplessly. It was silent for a moment, both staring at the opened balcony door.
“Why did you come, by the way?" Donghae said a bit weakly after a while.
“Just checking in, on my way to work," she replied slowly, in the same kind of dazed, absent and slightly low tone. He just nodded slowly. “You’re on the top
floor," she whispered after another while. He nodded again.
After another while of dead silence, she seemed to snap back to reality, clearing her throat slightly as she stood up. She walked hurriedly back to the balcony, looked up at the sky again, then at the body on the floor, before she returned to the motionless Donghae.
“I’ve gotta go. Good luck," she said, a wee bit amusedly, and patted him on the shoulder before continuing towards the hall again. “See you soon, oppa," she called over her shoulder.
“See you," he said half-loudly into the again quiet room. Then he slowly walked back to the still figure, crouching beside it like Hyoyeon had a while ago. Slightly hesitant, he reached out to touch the milky white skin on the bare shoulder. It was soft, cool against his own hand, but real - alive.
Slowly he reached over the heaving chest towards the almost glowingly white feathery shape. It felt amazingly silky, like pure velvet, but in a way airy, too light and soft to be real, yet still very real enough for him to briefly trace his fingertips over it. He realized, with yet more awe, that a small, rueful smile had played its way up to his lips.
A sigh escaped him. Carefully, he grabbed the shoulder farthest away from him, softly pulling it towards himself in order to get the boy laying on his side.
A wet and fleshy, ripping sound was to hear, and the two huge dove-wings detached from the well-built back. Once again, Donghae’s heart seemed to travel up into his throat too-quickly, and a choked cry escaped him in horror as he jumped back up on his feet in shock. Panting, heart fluttering madly, he stared horrified from the boy’s face, back to the wings, and under his unbelieving gaze, the airy, feathery surface seemed to crumple. The pure white faded to a dull, darker and darker gray until they fell apart into tiny, silky flakes, that looked like nothing but ash.
A broken sound that could have been a pant or a sob, escaped the full, slightly parted lips. Heart still thumping heavily and eyes wide and filled with horror-mixed amazement, Donghae kneeled down again. Two thick slits were left on the soft, smooth back, dangerously night-red against the whiteness of the skin; a few, slight trails of liquid ruby trailing from them. Donghae swallowed.
Then suddenly, as if on command, he ducked, managed to slide one arm under the boy’s shoulders, carefully avoiding the wounds, and the other under lean thighs, before he rose with the unmoving body in his arms. It was light, a little too light, and the blonde head fell back without any strength whatsoever.
Biting his lower lip, Donghae hurried to the bathroom, all but panicky rummaging through the white cabinets and drawers there to find the Band-Aid Kit, that he for a moment could only hope should be there somewhere. As he found it, he moved on to filling a bowl with warm water, grabbing a clean towel and then rushing back into the bedroom with the three items.
The boy on the right side of the bed hadn’t moved an inch. There was no lamps alight in the room, merely the ungraceful mix of the cool moonlight and the city lights shone through the big windows, drawing sharp shadows all over the room and pulling all color and life out of the boy’s image.
Donghae switched the lamp on the right bedside table on and carefully sat down on the side of the bed, next to the pale figure, that lay perfectly still, merely the chest heaving slightly in pretty short breaths. He dipped the cloth in the water and started to, as carefully as ever, to wipe the blood and dust away from the edges of the gaping cuts.
Before, he’d noticed that the boy looked as if he’d just escaped a burning building, and now he realized that apart from a number of slight burn-wounds, remarkably far away from being either deep or severe, the lifeless body next to him seemed to be covered by a thin layer of light grayish powder, looking a lot like the fine ash the … wings had turned into.
While he finished with the wounds, covered them up with two big, square white sticking plasters and then swiftly moved on to carefully wiping the powder off the parts of the boy’s bare upper body, arms and face, that he easily could reach; he tried to collect his revolting mind.
Donghae was a very rational young man. His life was structured; he had a good and acknowledged job, a plain but trendy apartment on the top floor, a nice car; he was a successful man with routine and standards. He was calm and rational and independent. He was not superstitious and not religious.
He could only think of the giant amount of impossibility and plain absurdity attached to every little detail of the situation, and he was sure that if anyone else would have told him about something like this, he would have sent them off straight to a mental care hospital. But he had been there, and because Hyoyeon had seen the winged boy, while he was still very winged, obviously with all possible clearness and realness, he could not even blame his mind for playing tricks on him.
As he was done with the cleaning of the perfectly motionless body, he sat back for a while, watching she pale shape on the marine blue sheets. He cocked his head a little to side. It might have been the light, or the weirdness of the evening’s happenings playing around with his dazed mind; but it seemed, as if there was a dim, oh-so-slight but steady and kind of cold glow radiating from the pale skin. As if the skin had been pulled over a still-burning star to amaze and confuse the plain mind of every human that came to gaze upon it with its untouchable and almost-disguised beauty and fascination. Like a body-less ghost in a dream, it was almost only visible - noticeable - if he looked at it slightly turned away.
Donghae blinked and looked away, his heart uncertain whether to run or stay. He went to dispose of the bowl and Aid Kit, and settled down in the armchair, across the room next to the big windows, watching the unmoving, fascinating shape on his bed from distance.
<‘’~. , .~’’>
For a while, he drifted off into sleep, woke again with a start, but found the scenery just as he’d left it, and relaxed again. Morning light started to softly caress Seoul’s never-resting spirit, giving it new energy for another day, and he kept on drifting into and out of sleep for another few hours.
At nine, he shook himself back to life, rose from his slightly limbs-stiffening position in the chair, but stood for a moment unmoving, watching the still figure on the bed. That slight, slight, source-less, impossible glow was still there, but only if he didn’t look straight at it; almost like it was playing hide-and-seek with him, fluttering in and out of the very edges of his vision.
He went to the kitchen, made a cup of coffee, and somehow his feet then brought him back to the armchair, as if a magnetic bond had been established between him and the identity-lacking being in his unprepared care. He spent his entire day there in the chair, keeping one eye on the bed. He read a few magazines, news papers, a few chapters in a book that he’d read once already, drank several cups of coffee and ordered Chinese because it wasn‘t attention-consuming.
As the day stretched into afternoon, he touched onto the thought of calling someone - a hospital or the police - in order of perhaps getting some information and clearness of the absurd and mind-itching situation. But he backtracked from the idea again, as he doubted that dove-winged people falling from the night sky was a matter that was taken lightly or was being highly appreciated by the authorities.
He took a shower, spending considerably less time than usually, and returned to his watching position. The shape on the bed was still an unmoving picture. He found himself strangely calm about the matter; well aware that if it had been anyone other than the very identity-less, formerly winged, fallen boy laying wounded and unmoving on his bed, he would most certainly not have been ruefully reading his office’s last magazine. Yet he was just as fully aware, that there was nothing much more that he could possibly do.
He spent the night as the latter; alternating between sleeping and watching the bed from afar. As morning returned, he carefully changed the boy’s bandage, not being certain if it was just wishful thinking, or if the wounds actually had increased the slightest bit. After another while, he finally got restless and went to jog for two hours.
In spite of his locked door accompanied by an electric security system, though, his nerves were stirring under his skin until he finally could burst into the bedroom, to find the same scenery that he’d left. Considerably relieved, he went to shower again, and allowed himself to take a little longer this time. As he half an hour later walked back into the bedroom while still rubbing his chestnut-brown strands, he stopped dead in his tracks in the doorway.
The blonde boy was standing in the middle of the room.
Donghae realized that much more than a boy, he was looking at a young man, seemingly his own age and height. He was muscular yet lean and slender, with strong shoulders and neck above the toned abdomen. His face was strangely pretty; innocent in a way, with a sharp jaw line and full lips. The eyes were big, doe-alike and dark, looking even darker and bigger under the edge of fair hair.
The blonde was staring at the man in the doorway, seemingly panicking; hushed breaths, almost pants, heaving the bare chest, eyes wide and shining with fear.
Donghae faltered. “It’s -” he spluttered and took a quick step towards the other - who backtracked just as quickly. He stopped, collected himself and tried again. “It’s okay," he said, softer. “I wont hurt you, I promise. It’s okay, you’re safe.”
The other didn’t shift, still looking like a deer frozen in terror in the headlights of a car. “Where am I?" he breathed after a short hesitation.
The dark eyes left his face to give the room a ever so brief look. “Who are you?”
“I’m, uhm, Donghae, Lee Dongae," he mumbled. “I, uh, found you. It’s okay, you don’t need to be afraid," he added as soothingly as possible.
The blonde seemed to calm the slightest bit. He kept looking at the man in front of him, however the looked shifted from merely frightened to trying, measuring but guarded. “Did you do this?" his voice was almost soft as he motioned to his own back.
Donghae faltered again. “I didn’t mean to," he almost stuttered. “They, uh, fell off … Detached … And, uh, turned to ash," his voice died away, helplessly.
The other shook his head slightly, expression still guarded but not unkind, almost soft, gaze sinking slowly. “I know," he said, moving his shoulders slightly, as if trying to operate the missing limbs. “They are supposed to, I guess," he added lower, so low hat Donghae barely could catch his words.
“You’re healing well," Donghae tried carefully.
The other nodded. “Thank you," he murmured lowly. “For your help," he almost whispered.
It hit Donghae how terribly lost and helpless he seemed. Carefully he stepped closer to the blonde, and this time his motion wasn’t replied with flight; instead the leaner man stood still, slouching slightly as if he was bent to carry an invisible burden on his shoulder.
“You …” Donghae hesitated a bit. “You can stay here as long as you need to," he then offered lowly. He didn’t even think about for how long a period that might turn into. He just found himself feeling strangely protective about the creature that suddenly had been put under his watch.
The other nodded slowly, looking at the brunette with a gaze Donghae simply could not read. It might have been guarded gratefulness. Donghae hesitated yet again, feeling more than just a little helpless and out-of-place. “Do you, uh, have a name?”
“Eunhyuk," came the careful response, and Donghae found, for no reason at all, a small smile play on his lips.
“Okay, then. Are you hungry?" he asked, feeling a little calmer as his refugee now had a little more of an identity. The rest would show up to, he assumed, fully ready to wait the time that was needed. He had time.
He got another nod in reply, and nodded too in understanding. “Then how about you wash off a bit, I’ll get you something clean to wear and we’ll get some Chinese home.”
For a moment, he faltered internally, caught up on his own bluntness and the huge issue of whether his guest - because even internally, he could not bear to mention the A-word - appreciated Chinese food, not to mention if he even was familiar with such a thing.
But the blonde nodded again in somber agreement, and considerably relieved, Donghae motioned for him to follow along to the bathroom. For another moment of panicking uncertainty, he wondered if the other knew what a shower was; but he found no wonder in Eunhyuk’s face as the blonde looked around the whitely tiled bathroom, so he left him alone to go find some clothes.
As he returned with a pair of his own jeans, underwear and a gray jumper, he found the blonde having removed the white bandage on his own back and standing with his backside against the mirror, inspecting his wounds over his shoulder. As the brunette entered, he briefly looked at him in the mirror, but then shifted his glance back to the red cuts.
“They’ll be gone soon," he said lowly, as if to himself. Donghae just put the clothes on the toilette, and closed the door behind him, partly because he had no response to offer, partly because he felt a bit like intruding in the other’s emotional privacy. After a short while, he heard the shower turn on, and slightly relieved, he picked up the phone to call the Chinese restaurant and order his usual, only twice this time.
He was sitting on one of the high chairs at the kitchen island, chin resting in one hand, while the other’s fingertips were drumming against the steely surface, as Eunhyuk walked into the kitchen, dressed in Donghae’s pants, that fit almost perfectly, but still shirtless, and stopped in the doorway.
“Would you mind to …?" he let the question die away while gesturing slightly to his back.
“Of course.” Donghae hurriedly rushed away to get two clean plasters, and a small towel to dry off a bit of left over water-drops on the milky white back.
"There", he said as he’d finished covering the wounds up, and helped the blonde lift the rim of the sweater he pulled over his head to avoid it from peeling the bandages back off.
At the same moment, the doorbell rung droned to announce the arrival of the food, and Donghae mumbled a brief “Stay here” as he went to get it. He then brought both the two paper buckets and the waiting blonde with him to the living room, watching as the other without any fuss or hesitation started eating.
He needed a few minutes to gain the mental strength he needed, then he began hesitantly: “Are you really … an … I mean, are you an -," he broke himself off, feeling helpless. The blonde looked up at him and paused his chewing, without swallowing, cocking his head to the side a bit, gaze questioning.
Eunhyuk seemed to study him while he swiftly continued his chewing. Donghae was strangely taken aback by the look he got. It was unwavering; still guarded like before but now calmer, and it seemed to Donghae as though it held an unending amount of knowledge; though he wasn’t sure about what. There was only one way he could describe it; it wasn’t from this world.
Then the blonde swallowed his morsel, and a smile seemed to grow onto his face; starting far behind the surface and slowly coming nearer until it reached his lips. Donghae felt a wee bit dizzy, and without knowing why, he smiled too. “I guess so.”
“Uhm," was all that the brunette could come up with. Something that might have been an ever so tiny chuckle left Eunhyuk as he kept on eating. Donghae felt oddly ungrounded as he sat back, alternating between carefully watching the blonde from the side as he engrossed in his food, and staring out into thin air in front of him, having all but forgotten about his own bucket of noodles.
“Are you planning on eating that?”
His attention was abruptly called back to the hesitant looking male next to him, and he shook his head absently, waving vaguely with one hand. “Nah, go ahead.”
“Thanks," Eunhyuk replied gently and moved on with the second portion, and they fell silent again. It was an almost unreasonably comfortable silence, Donghae noticed, as if they’d known each other for their entire lives.
As the blonde finished, he switched the TV on, and they watched silently for yet a while. Eunhyuk was sitting slightly curled up and with his side against the back of the sofa. If the half meter of space between them hadn’t been there, he would have been resting against the slightly taller brunette. Donghae blinked and wondered where the hell that thought came from.
“Can I ask you something?" he finally dared after another while.
“If someone from, uh, from here, someone like me, dies, would they end up …?" again, he couldn’t quite bring himself to say the word.
“End up like me, you mean?" Eunhyuk finished calmly for him. Donghae nodded wordlessly. “Well … it happens, it does. But it’s rare. Very rare.”
that not-from-this-world look again.
“Who did you loose?” Eunhyuk asked, gently.
The brunette was silent for a while, looking unwavering at the bright screen. The other didn’t press on, he just waited equally silently. “My girlfriend," he then said with a slight sigh. “Jessica.“ It was still hard to bring her name over his lips. “She died in a flight accident a few months ago. She was a stewardess.”
It felt weird talking about it like this, to someone who was new in the picture, someone who didn’t know. Not as painful as he’d thought, but numb in a way. He might have felt like he was falling out in that horrible eternity again; weightless and helpless, unable to move on his own or escape or breath, as if he’d leaped out into space. But he didn’t, almost as if something was holding him on the ground. Or maybe someone, a soft, kind voice wanted to encourage him from a distant corner of his mind.
“She was too young to go," the blonde said softly. Donghae blinked slightly at the unusual reply, and turned to look at the one next to him. Eunhyuk looked back steadily, not concerned or sad like the way people would look at him lately.
“Yes," he said lowly. “Yes, she was.” There was another stretched out silence. “How is … that place?” he then asked, letting his sudden curiosity shine through.
Eunhyuk was quiet for a while, the doe-ish eyes not leaving the screen. “The place, that you call Heaven," he then said slowly, almost as if he wasn’t sure how to put his words. “Is a lot like here, but still different.”
“Well, what’s the difference?" Donghae asked, looking from the TV to the blonde.
He looked back, a bit measuring again. “The people in it," he then said, and again, his small smile seemed to travel onto his face from somewhere far behind.
Donghae had to smile, too.
<‘’~. , .~’’>
(A/N: Second part, yaay! :D and, yeah, for me, this is moving at warp's speed,