Author: Sabrina, bffimagine
Summary: It all boils down to something simple and a little bit silly.
Warnings: Angsty fluff-ishness ahead!
Also found at: My Journal and lt_library
Disclaimer: I fail at life, okay?! I don't own them ='[
No one notices at first (because the offhand comments of "Do you have any idea how fattening that is?" and "There's no way that's healthy" don't really register at all) and everyone brushes it off on something or another--oh, Hae's feeling ill, he's homesick, tired... But Hankyung watches with increasing worry as clothes that used to fit start hanging loosely off prominent bones and it hurts to see him like this.
He approaches him one day, all soft tone and caring fingers.
"You alright, Hae?"
The other boy smiles (it's still as bright as ever, even with sunken cheeks and too-shiny eyes) and nods, his hair looking duller.
Hankyung frowns because it's a lie and he can tell and it hurts that Donghae would still lie to him.
Donghae turns to leave but Hankyung grabs a too-thin, fragile wrist that seems so delicate the slightest pressure would snap it in two.
"You're hurting." It's not a question, but not quite a statement, either. It's some odd sort of mixture of sadness and worry mangled and twisted into words that spill from Hankyung's lips like the blood from his broken heart.
"I'm fine," Donghae grinds out shortly, tearing himself out of Hankyung's grasp. His gaze is flat and even and defiant and Hankyung's stomach falls to the floor.
"Eat something, please, Hae?"
His eyes are begging and he knows it but he doesn't care (he does care, but not about how stupid he looks---he cares about how much weight Donghae has lost and how sullen his countenance has become, and the depression emanating off the younger boy in torrents). He grabs the wrist again, presses a swift, desperate kiss to the cusp of Donghae's wrist to his palm, then drops it and swivels to walk away.
"Don't do this to yourself. Don't do this to us."
Donghae doesn't reply and Hankyung chokes on the dismay that creates stormclouds in his ribcage.
"Please, don't do this to me."
He walks away and the tears fall indignantly, emotions spilling from his eyes and making wet "splish" noises on the ground.
They're about to go on stage when it happens. No one is really focusing on what they should be, the pre-performance hype keeping them all on their toes as they rush off to do one thing or another. Nerves and adrenaline are high-strung like Henry's violin, and they try to put finishing touches on hair, last mic adjustments, getting their breathing at some sort of normal pace.
And that's when Donghae collapses.
At first, everything just freezes and the air feels stagnant and heavy on their chests. Their lungs fill with lead, and, as if in slow motion, the first person moves.
Hankyung is kneeling at Donghae's head in a flash, Eunhyuk looks like he's about to pass out himself, and Kibum is holding Donghae's face in his hands, shouting at him to open his eyes, wake up, and tell them this is all a joke in bad taste.
Donghae's eyelids flutter, dark butterfly wing eyelashes brushing against his cheekbones, but he does not open them. Panic tastes like vomit as the bile burns up their throats.
"Donghae-hyung," Kyuhyun whispers, face whiter than his shaking hands, "please, please be okay..."
Then, in a flurry of indefinite minutes (maybe hours, but none of them keep track), they're sitting at the hospital watching an IV drip into Donghae's wasted arm.
"He's suffering malnutrition and severe dehydration," the doctor explains matter-of-factly (because all doctors must speak in that way, regardless of how condescending it sounds sometimes).
"Would it be possible that Donghae-sshi has an eating disorder?"
Twelve solemn faces gaze back evenly, expressions level but not quite cold--more like they were shocked to the point of a mild catatonic state.
"Yes," hisses Hankyung flatly, staring glassily at the boy on the bed.
The other members look at him in a mild sort of surprise, but they're not really surprised because they could see the singer grow slimmer and slimmer by the day.
They hadn't given it too much thought other than the occasional "You should remember to eat breakfast" or "You're beginning to look a little gaunt, Hae". But everything was there, staring them in the face and they watched him lose touch with himself.
"Why?" Ryeowook finally breathes out, tearful eyes set unwavering upon Donghae's spidery fingers, "I thought he was happy."
Leeteuk shakes his head and gives Ryeowook's shoulder a gentle squeeze. His heart wrenches painfully as he notices Ryeowook biting his lip to hold back the sobs that have already caused his chin to tremble.
Kibum stares straight ahead to avoid seeing his beloved bandmate in such a state, murmuring, "We'll just have to ask him when he wakes up, won't we?"
Hankyung is there when Donghae finally opens his eyes, two and a half days later. The younger doesn't slowly drag himself into consciousness---he just wakes up and is suddenly aware.
Hankyung doesn't acknowledge Donghae's voice (scratchy from lack of use), but his hands grip a bit tighter around Donghae's left. His head is bowed, elbows resting on the edge of Donghae's bed as he sits in a low chair.
"I thought it was over," he says suddenly, voice barely above a whisper, "I thought I'd lost you."
Donghae uses his free hand to gently stroke a stray strand of hair from Hankyung's eyes.
"I'm sorry for worrying you."
Hankyung looks up, hurt and anger blazing in the depths of his soul.
"You're sorry?" he says, tone chilled to a deadly frost, "You nearly killed yourself and you're sorry?!"
Donghae hangs his head and Hankyung feels the sharp edge of his anger melted away by the sorrow engulfing the other's frail being.
"Can you... at least... do we--do I deserve to know why?"
He hasn't let go of Donghae's hand once throughout the entire exchange and Donghae tries to draw strength from that fact.
"At first," Donghae begins slowly, "I was just homesick. When we were in China, I couldn't eat because it was too unfamiliar. With only seven of us, there were more times where I was all alone and I just couldn't do anything normally."
Hankyung remains silent, following Donghae's fixated eyes to the hand clenched in the younger's lap, the clutched sheet wrinkling in his fist.
"Then... then you started to notice and it was nice because you'd spend mealtimes with me and it felt good, even if I still felt weird not being in a noisy dorm full of crazy members."
Donghae looks away, hiding his face from the other man sitting beside him. Hankyung's gaze hovers on the small hand completely smothered by his fingers.
"I craved it, really. Your presence. It's all I wanted. So I tried to seek you out all the time, but I knew you were busy and I didn't want to pester you.
"Eventually I guess it started to show because some of the Chinese managers were commenting on it, saying I'd lost a few pounds and could afford to lose a few more. That kind of thing usually doesn't get to me, especially at home, but--I don't know, it bothered me. So I figured it wouldn't hurt, you know?"
A sheepish smile slides in place and this time Hankyung has to avert his sight because he can't stand to see Donghae look so self-pitying. Donghae's voice changes slightly--it sounds like he's eaten something incredibly sour as he continues.
"And I just wanted to help Super Junior M be a success in China, even if that meant I had to adjust my image a bit. I wanted you to be proud of me, proud of all of us. I'd do whatever it takes for you, hyung. Absolutely anything."
He lapsed into a short-lived silence (just enough to make Hankyung a bit unsettled) before he gathers his words to keep going.
"I guess... i-it kind of boils down to something simple and a little silly."
Hankyung's ears perk up at that.
"It doesn't even make sense when I really think about it, but... I love you, hyung."
A terse standstill follows and Hankyung doesn't know what to make of that. He searches Donghae's face for some sign that what he just said doesn't mean what Hankyung thinks it means, but he finds nothing other than the younger's lips set in a sombre line and his eyes nearly spilling over with tears.
Donghae laughs, sounding imperfect and cracked but to Hankyung it's flawless.
"People do crazy things for love all the time, don't they?"
Hankyung pulls Donghae into his arms, crushing them together tightly.
"Please just don't ever do anything like that ever again. Do you have even the slightest inkling about how that made me feel? You're beautiful, Hae, so, so beautiful."
Donghae rests his chin on Hankyung's shoulder, loosely winding his arms around the Chinese man's back. He feels the tremors and the slight heaves of suppressed hiccups as Hankyung clings to him.
The older dancer repeats "I love you" into Donghae's hair until they both drift off into sleep.
Hankyung wakes up the next morning with Donghae in his arms and the world feels right, for once in a very long time. Donghae is discharged in the afternoon--he wasn't really anorexic to begin with, and now he just needs to regain his normal eating habits.
When they get home, the other members have prepared a welcome back party and Donghae looks like he's about to cry again. He hugs each member for a long time, and when everyone begins to celebrate the emotions overcome him and he's quietly bawling into Hankyung's shoulder. The other members understand and that's all Donghae needs. He takes a few bites of whatever's on his plate but finds he can't keep anything more down, and Leeteuk doesn't look satisfied but he can't do anything.
Sungmin huddles against Donghae's side the entire day, and Hankyung tells himself (authoritatively) that he is not jealous and it has nothing to do with the fact that his heart beats a little faster when Donghae's face lights up and he smiles at him.
The evening rolls in and the activity settles down. Hankyung holds Donghae close, soft hair tucked under his chin and the slightest whisper of breath across the skin of his neck and collarbone. He smiles as he litters kisses in a crown on Donghae's head, scattering love in silky strands like stardust.
"What do you want to do tomorrow?" he askes against his lover's cheek, and a warmth spreads within him, radiating from his core (his heart, where Donghae is) when he realizes the way he referred to Donghae in his head (my lover, he repeats mentally with a somewhat goofy smile on his face).
"Just me and you?" Donghae mutters drowsily into his neck.
"Yeah. Just us."
He feels those perfect lips curve upward into a smile and his insides melt into a liquidy mess.
"Take me out to dinner."
It's suddenly very quiet and Hankyung is afraid the joyous tears in his eyes will ruin the moment.
"Anything for you," he whispers, proud his voice isn't as watery as he feels, "Anything."
Whatever you want, I will give it to you.
"Dinner it is, then," a sleepy Donghae says with finality, and Hankyung has a nagging suspicion that their happily ever after is on its way.