Author: Sabrina, bffimagine
Genre: AU, angst
Summary: Some people drink to forget. He drinks to remember.
Warnings: Mild-ish mentions of sex and character death
A/N: This is based on the challenge that svtstarlight held not too long ago (but obviously, I missed). The summary for this fic was provided as per the challenge, and I just couldn't help but write something for it... so, I dedicate this to svtstarlight for being so generous with her prompts and to my beautiful dongsaeng hyuukie because it's her
Also found at: My Journal or lt_library
Disclaimer: I don't own Super Junior because they're the property of SM Entertainment and not Sabrina the hopeless fangirl.
It all started with a few drinks, which lead to a one-night stand, which lead to the catalyst that completely and utterly changed his life.
Which also lead to some other pitfalls along the way, but most importantly, to the downward spiral his situation was currently taking, turning each corner with relish and obviously malicious intent.
Leeteuk watched as Hankyung nursed his beer, which was preceded by two other beers and exactly seven-and-a-half shots of tequila. It was no business of his why this man came in every night, drinking very methodically and following an exact pattern--he was a bartender, meaning it was his job to mix the drinks, serve them, collect his fees, cut people off when they had too much, and make sure they all got some sort of safe way home.
He was known to pay bus fare out of his own pocket when patrons were stranded.
Sometimes, Hankyung made small talk (which was how Leeteuk even knew the Chinese man's name). The first night, Leeteuk noticed the vast amount of alcohol the man consumed and commented offhandedly in his gentle-sweet tone. Hankyung looked as if he expected a more snide remark, his semi-sober eyes widening in surprise. Then he laughed, his deep, dark eyes crinkling warmly at the corners, and said (in Chinese-coated, slurred syllables) that there was quite a long story behind his nightly visits to this particular bar. He never elaborated and Leeteuk never pressed.
There were fleeting moments when Leeteuk saw something flash in those eyes that were undoubtedly blurred at the edges by alcohol--something akin to nostalgia, with a generous dollop of melancholy and a touch of bittersweet, shaken, not stirred.
But then again, everything seemed to hold more meaning through a beer glass at two o'clock in the morning.
Heechul sighed. He gently held Hankyung's elbow as he led his best friend into the passenger side of the car. Siwon sat behind the wheel, watching with worried eyes as always.
"Seriously, Geng-ge," Siwon murmured softly in Chinese, "This has got to stop."
But then again, Siwon said that every night in exactly the same way and Hankyung responded with a sad half-smile every night in exactly the same way.
"Just drive," Heechul ordered, hangul clipped and short. He clambered into the back seat, sitting right in the middle so he could watch the expressions of his friends in the rearview mirror.
"Why do you do it?" Siwon asked, staring straight ahead (but taking note of Hankyung's every move through the older man's reflection in the windshield), as per routine.
As always, that was all the explanation he got.
She had waited for him, Hankyung noticed guiltily as he walked through the door. She had waited for him in the kitchen and had fallen asleep with her head pillowed in the crook of her arm, slumped forward and resting on top of the table.
She stirred, only slightly. Her long black hair ripped like water as it fell from her shoulder.
"Xiang Hua, you should get to bed."
He frowned when she did not wake up. If she was so exhausted she should have just gone to bed. He carefully lifted her, cautious not to disturb her peaceful slumber. Shifting her weight, he flicked off the light and crept up the stairs.
He tucked her into the bed, pulling the covers over her. He changed his clothes and brushed his teeth and told his heart to stop hurting, then he crawled under the blankets on the other side of the bed and fell asleep facing the ceiling and wondering why the world was so unfair.
It all started with a few drinks.
He knew Kyuhyun could definitely hold his liquor, and he also knew that he was not exactly a formidable opponent in that area.
Kyuhyun was beautiful and stunning and he loved him, but of course no matter how much Hankyung wanted the younger man, he could not have him.
He was engaged, after all. He had a fiancee. There was a ring on her finger that he paid for with the money he earned from working long, hard hours as a surgeon and Kyuhyun was his co-worker. Kyuhyun had been his intern, a brilliant med-student at the time, and it was not long before he was hired at the hospital and quickly became one of the most respected doctors in Seoul. Kyuhyun was his co-worker, his friend, his... well, his.
Kyuhyun was the love of his life, always had been, and always would be.
But it all started (and ironically, ended) with a few drinks.
They were unwinding after a particularly trying day in the ER. A young man by the name of Lee Donghae had been brought in, heart-wrenchingly broken and so young--probably only a year or so older than Kyuhyun. They worked tirelessly on the unfortunate victim of a hit-and-run, trying to save him, trying to keep him there, trying to prevent him from just sprouting feathery-white wings and flying off the operating table. There was so much blood Hankyung wasn't sure if he'd ever see his own skin again through all the red.
Nothing could be done for the poor boy, and Lee Donghae passed away. Time of death: eleven fifty-nine PM.
Both Hankyung and Kyuhyun sat in shock for a few moments, staring at hands covered in gloves covered in blood. The boy's heart had been going so strong before, it was amazing--truly that boy was a fighter--then suddenly, without warning, it stopped. Kyuhyun had tried to administer manual resuscitation, plunging his hand into the open chest cavity and carefully attempting to probe the organ back to life. It was to no avail and ten minutes later, Kyuhyun was outside in the waiting room, blankly sympathetic 'I'm so sorry for your loss' face firmly sliding in place as he broke the news to the four ghost-faced people in the waiting room; the boy's parents, the boy's older brother and Lee Hyukjae, the young man's lover.
Kyuhyun watched detatchedly as they all broke down, Hyukjae keeling into the ground, sobbing so hard Hankyung swore his agony was echoing off the blindingly sterile walls.
Once the paperwork was done and they'd gotten out of their scrubs, Hankyung was the one who made the offer.
Let's go. Get our minds off things. You need it.
Usually Kyuhyun told Hankyung to go with him for a coffee to unwind, or just reminded Hankyung to eat and sleep and drink a sufficient amount of water.
Usually Kyuhyun was the one who told families the worst, the words coming mechanically out of his mouth but the deadness in his eyes not showing until after the family had succuumbed to their grief, bled it out onto the tiles of the waiting room, and left.
Usually Kyuhyun did not degrade into a crying mess in Hankyung's car, trying to stifle his choked gasps for air by biting down on the sleeve of his heavy sweater.
So Hankyung kept driving with his eyes on the road but his heart beating alongside the broken one of his colleague, whispers of sweet, soothing words tangling in the younger's hair until nothing made sense anymore and they'd arrived at the bar.
"Rough night?" the bartender asked. His name was Sungmin and he looked far too young to be standing in a bar, much less behind one.
"You could say that," Kyuhyun responded wryly, dry, chapped lips curling up into the skeleton of a smile that died at the corners of his mouth.
It had taken seven shots of tequila for the tense rigidity of Kyuhyun's shoulders to relax a fraction, and Hankyung matched him glass-for-glass. Kyuhyun ordered an eighth shot but changed his mind, abandoning half of the drink sitting placidly in the small cup. Hankyung drained the remaining liquid without a word, Kyuhyun smiled at him, a tired but genuine smile, then proceeded to order them both a beer.
Two more beers later, Kyuhyun was staring into his empty glass meditatively with a serene expression on his beautiful face and Hankyung's breath caught in his throat (only a little, he told himself but knew it was a lie) when the dark-haired man looked up at him.
"Hyung," he had said, voice so seductively husky and velvety-smooth like gunmetal coated in chocolate, "Do you ever wonder if there's a greater scheme of things? If all things really do happen for a reason?"
Hankyung was so swept up in his friend's eyes, so expressive and open he thought he was going to drown in all that was Kyuhyun and enjoy every single moment of it--but no, he couldn't think that way, he had a fiancee, his wedding was in less than half a year, his life was planned out to be perfect.
"I'm not sure, Kyu."
But his life couldn't be perfect without Kyuhyun because Kyuhyun was perfection and everything that he needed and all the things he wanted all wrapped up into one impossibly beautiful not-quite boy that he wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his days with.
A soft, wistful look overcame Kyuhyun's eyes as he whispered, "Does everyone die for a reason?"
They sat in a companionable silence, both mulling over the question in their heads. When Kyuhyun next spoke up, it was to ask for two apple martinis and the bill.
Sungmin smiled brightly, his cheer somewhat infectious as Hankyung couldn't help but offer a tiny grin back. The two brightly coloured drinks appeared in front of them and but the bill did not, as Kyuhyun was already handing it back to Sungmin before Hankyung could even see what their tab had rung up to.
"Don't worry about it, hyung."
Some corner of his mind shouted "Kui Xian!" exasperatedly in his head, because when he was tipsy he did tend to think Mandarin thoughts and more often than not his thoughts were on Kyuhyun anyway.
When the drinks were finished, they both thanked Sungmin and left, standing perhaps a hairsbreadth too close since their shoulders brushed every other step.
It all started with a few drinks, which lead to walking back to Hankyung's car in a pleasant quiet while the alcohol buzzed warmly in their systems. That lead to their half-aware realization that no, neither of them should be driving and instead Hankyung called Heechul and told him to pick up his car from this bar because yes, Heechul had the keys somewhere and no, Hankyung was not too drunk to stand up without tripping over himself but he was definitely too inebriated to drive.
So they walked back to Kyuhyun's small but cozy apartment that really didn't have much in it besides some sparse furniture and lots and lots of books.
Hankyung called Xiang Hua, told her he wouldn't be coming home tonight, he'd be fine, and he'd see her in the morning.
They walked through the door, Kyuhyun locked it behind them and took off his coat, which lead to an intense locking of gazes and before they knew it they were standing much too close and Hankyung found that he couldn't care less. Their hearts were beating in tandem as their lips brushed just so, and when they pulled away they were instantly more sober than before and at the same time much, much more intoxicated. There was a standstill moment where neither moved, they just breathed the same air and watched their respective reflections in each other's eyes, before suddenly they were attacking each other's lips with a renewed fervor and neither really noticed as they stumbled around the apartment and into the bedroom. Neither paid attention to what they were tripping over, where the other's hands were, or who's mouth was latched on what--the primary thought in both their minds was "Bed. Now."
For about half a second Hankyung pondered the consequences and possible outcomes of this situation but Kyuhyun's insistent, apple-flavoured lips were soft and smooth and warm and pliable against his own, which really assuaged any doubts or fears he harbored in his lust-but-actually-love-hazed mind.
It was not really an unexpected turn of events as clothes were shed and fingers explored and sweat-slicked skin was pressed needily to sweat-slicked skin. Mouths memorized lines, curves, dips and angles as tongues traced gossamer trails that glimmered in the faint glow of the moonlight through the window. Lips and teeth decorated hard, toned muscle and delectably soft, yielding flesh with loving caresses and angry red marks.
When it was all said and done (the lickingsuckingkissingnippingtastingloving), Hankyung smiled in satisfaction as he ran his tongue over his lips and could still taste Kyuhyun on them, all hints of the apple and alcohol lost sometime during the course of the night. He tipped Kyuhyun's chin up and kissed him deeply, mind reeling at the taste of himself inside the other's mouth, on the other's lips, smelling traces of his claim in Kyuhyun's hair and on every inch of Kyuhyun's skin. He smiled wider, knowing that he had undeniably been inside Kyuhyun and that meant (to him, at least) that he would forever be a part of the beautiful man that writhed and moaned, bucked and arched beneath him and around him, long slim legs squeezing his hips, encouraging him onward, and that tight, hot body spasming around him as he reached his release buried deep within.
They lay in wordless bliss until Kyuhyun pressed one kiss to Hankyung's left collarbone and another to the side of Hankyung's neck, right underneath the defined line of the older man's jaw, and said without hesitation, "I love you, Hankyung."
That was when the Hankyung's entire life shattered around him, but he didn't know it yet. Instead, he replied those same three forbidden words, kissing Kyuhyun's forehead and the hollow of the younger's throat.
The next days at work passed uneventfully and like they always had, but somehow the smiles they exchanged across the lobby and the words they exchanged unsaid held that much more meaning, that much more significance, and Hankyung wished it would never end.
Then he was standing at the altar on July 25th, his wedding day, with Xiang Hua crying on the steps and tears running relentlessly down his face.
"Hankyung? Are you there? You need to... you need to get here as soon as possible. He... he might not last much longer."
The perfect wedding was quite effectively ruined by the phonecall from Hankyung's boss telling him Kyuhyun was hanging on to life by less than a thread and to get down to the damn hospital before it was too late.
Xiang Hua watched him go and he apologized quickly, wasting no time with stupid profuse "I'm sorry"s because who knew how long Kyuhyun would stay with him for?
He drove and it was a misty mess in his head, he had no idea what he was doing and for heaven's sake he was still in his wedding tux!
He parked in his employee parking spot and he ran into the hospital, the building more familiar to him than the sway in his mother's footsteps when she bustled about the kitchen or the smell of the ink his father used to teach him to write the characters of his name in strong, fluid strokes. He followed his heart and after what felt like an eternity, he had found Kyuhyun, as he knew he would.
The doctors on call that day rushed around the ER and adrenaline was high. They barked out stats and instructions and 'We're losing him!'s but it all sounded distant and far away to Hankyung, who could only watch in horror as the people he worked with desperately tried to save the life of the one person he loved more than anything or anyone. He watched in a vague sense of fright as one of the doctors began to shout out the failing vitals and the heart monitor began to whimper slowly, as if it were an animal in distress.
Hankyung had never been so crushed by a flatline in his life.
"Kyuhyun," he whispered as he approached the bed. All the doctors backed away, disappointment and grief scrawled clearly on their faces. One doctor announced the time of death and Hankyung didn't think he'd ever be able to stop two forty-three AM from resonating within the hollow emptiness of his chest, vibrating against his ribs like piano keys and making him feel like his lungs were trying to claw their way out from his throat.
"You can't do this, Kyu," he said, voice no stronger than it was before. He clutched Kyuhyun's pale fingers in his own, the long slender digits cold and not at all how be remembered them--skillful, strong, stitching rapid and precise, scrabbling hotly on smooth silken skin...
Once the tears began, it felt like they would never stop.
"Kyuhyun! Kyuhyun!" he sank to his knees beside the operating table, the other doctors looking on with mournful eyes and sad souls.
Hankyung knelt there and cried for nearly an hour and a half before someone scraped him off the blood-flecked ground and gave him a gentle push into action. He pulled away from gentle guiding hands and held Kyuhyun's face, cold and white against his clammy palms, and kissed those full lips one last time before they lost all of their rosy life.
He couldn't breathe but somehow forced out a final "I love you" before he was dragged away and drugged into sleep.
After the whole ordeal, Hankyung was given the details of Kyuhyun's death--he'd been on his way to Hankyung's midnight wedding (no matter how much it hurt because he loved Hankyung and was about to watch the only person he'd ever love marry someone else) when he'd been jumped by some clearly drunk street kids that probably belonged to a gang. The teens noticed Kyuhyun walking hurriedly, purposefully (the ceremony had begun five minutes prior) in his suit and they decided to rob him of whatever they could get. Unfortunately for Kyuhyun, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and when he told the kids he was sorry but all he had on him was about a hundred won, they decided to try and find more.
Kyuhyun, not wanting to be further delayed, patiently told the kids that there was nothing else and if they really wanted, they could take his watch because that's the only other thing he had and he just wanted to be on his way. This didn't satisfy them--in misplaced anger (drunken fury) they stabbed Kyuhyun a total of twelve times and left him bleeding on the pavement, not even bothering to take his offered watch or money.
Then Cho Kyuhyun had died on the operating table and Hankyung had been broken beyond repair in the ER.
Every night since July 25th, Hankyung went to that same bar and ordered what he and Kyuhyun had ordered on that one fateful night before everything was turned upside down and shaken a little sideways until there wasn't anything even remotely recognizable in the carnage. He downed his seven and a half shots of tequila, three beers, and ordered the single apple martini, waiting until exactly two forty-three in the morning to swallow the fruity green drink.
Sungmin had wondered when he saw Hankyung return night after night, alone but ordering the same as the first night he'd seen him. He didn't ask, though, judging by the haunted look in Hankyung's eyes and the pain radiating from the man's body. About two weeks later, Sungmin moved away to continue his studies to be a paediatrician and Hankyung wished him all the best.
Leeteuk took over Sungmin's position and before the sunny young man left Korea, he gave Leeteuk one warning and that was to never mention the name Kyuhyun to Hankyung ever, unless he wanted to see a grown man fall to pieces in front of his very eyes.
Hankyung's wedding to Xiang Hua was postponed (to when, no one really had any idea).
On the off days, the really bad ones, Heechul and Siwon took Hankyung back to their apartment instead of the house that Hankyung shared with his fiancee. Hankyung couldn't help but feel guilty for putting the girl through all the turmoil, but he couldn't help that he didn't love her the way he should and that the one he did love was gone and was never coming back.
Hankyung lay spread out on the sofa, his head in Heechul's lap while elegant, feminine hands smoothed his hair and stroked his face in long, tender caresses and Siwon's comforting presence made him feel safe enough to break down and cry into Heechul's knee.
On one such occasion, Heechul calmly whispered, "It's been almost three months now, Kyungie. I think you need to let go."
Hankyung's taciturn tears painted gleaming streaks on his face, even as his lips twitched into a strange sort of smile.
"I can't let him go."
"He loved you, you know?" Siwon gently gave Hankyung's knee a squeeze.
"You need to stop the drinking," Heechul continued.
Another strange half-smile.
"I know. He... he tells me so."
Siwon gave Heechul an inquisitive look that Hankyung did not miss. He chuckled, an empty, cracked sound.
"After the apple martini at two forty-three, I can feel him and taste him and smell him and it's like he's here all over again. I can hear him, Chullie, and he speaks to me. Tells me to eat and drink water and get out of the house, like he always does--like he always did. He smiles that beautiful smile and I think my mind stops working and I re-live every moment I ever shared with him over the span of a minute... I can't give that up. Please, try to understand."
The imploring in his eyes forced Siwon to look away.
A bitterness entered Hankyung's tone as he whispered, "And, if I get the timing exactly right, I hear him tell me he loves me before the minute is up."