eeteuk-centric, friendship eeteuk/donghae, eeteuk/sungmin
gen; 1831 words
eeteuk ponders deep meanings of existence while donghae, sungmin and eunhyuk try to help.
inspired by this ranking and an exchange of messages with the lovely ununoriginal.
When Eeteuk is quieter than usual that night during Sukira, Eunhyuk goes to the toilet during a song break and phones Shindong.
"Teukie hyung is quiet," he says.
"Uh oh," says Shindong. "One of those quiets?"
Eunhyuk 'mmm's in affirmation.
"What happened?" Shindong wonders. "Is he missing Donghae? Has Heechul hyung lost more weight? Has Youngwoon hyung called recently?"
"Donghae called him last night, Heechul hyung has put on 1kg, and Youngwoon hyung hasn't called in three days," Eunhyuk says.
"That means it's not us-related?"
"Doesn't seem like it."
"I'll let Sungmin know," Shindong says, and hangs up because the manager's voice in the background is getting loud in the give me your attention now sense.
Eunhyuk returns to the studio and the strangely quiet Eeteuk. He knows better than to ask what's the matter. When Eeteuk's quiets are non-us-related, they mean that deep soul searching is in progress, Eeteuk does not want to talk to anyone, not even his favourite dongsaeng (for so Eunhyuk confidently proclaims himself; never mind that Teukie hyung's birthday entry for Donghae numbered more characters than the one for him), and everything will eventually culminate in a depressive cyworld entry about loneliness and after that things will torque back to normal.
That's the way it has always been and it should be routine by now, only seeing Eeteuk so down still makes Eunhyuk sad.
Contrary to popular belief (or maybe just logical deductive reasoning), Eeteuk does not enjoy being depressed.
He doesn't like seeing Eunhyuk's face drop by association, nor does he like Eunhyuk making emergency calls to Shindong in the toilet (and possibly to Sungmin?), nor does he like the fans seeing him staring drearily into space. He really doesn't like it and he tries hard to smile and flail his hands about, but something's just not doing it for him today. An elusive something. Pale, miserable, blue something of silhouettes by the beach and blurred grey hands holding and sad-sounding English words and – no, actually, he knows exactly what that something is and it has nothing to do with vague romantic images. It's something much harder and harsher altogether.
Earlier that day, a friend had sent him a link to a recent K-pop idol ranking based on the Daum and Naver fancafes membership numbers. He'd been pleased to see all the DBSK boys in the top five; it was nice to know that their popularity was still riding high despite the current frustrating situation that they were in. Heechul was at No.9 and that was nice too, at least one member in Super Junior made it into the top ten, and it was also very nice that Eunhyuk made it to No.11, that boy's popularity was deservedly increasing, and of course Donghae at No.12, where Eunhyuk went Donghae followed, and where the hell was he? – No.18. Behind Sungmin and Kangin. Of course, that was nice. No.6 in the group was great. No, really, damn it.
He doesn't want to feel bad about it. It's just ridiculously selfish to be upset about it, especially since he's ranked in the upper half (no matter that he made it by the skin of his teeth; no matter at all). He doesn't begrudge Heechul, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Sungmin or Kangin their positions; what they've got now, they've worked for. He's seen them working, held them when they cried from overwork, listened to their troubles, hated the world at large that wouldn't wake up to the fact that there were amazing members in Super Junior.
It's just this niggling problem at the back of his head that he's worked just as hard as any of them, doubly so, even, because taking care of twelve members is really not something that you can work at two hours a day and slack off twenty-two. He has appeared on more shows than he can count, has guest MC roles and a regular radio show, has become the de facto leader of Boom Academy, has fallen sick so often that sickness seems more normal than health, has been hospitalized, has given his all and a couple of legs in this dirty and soul-sucking industry and yet, yet, he's only mid-way.
It's just a little discouraging when he thinks of it in that way, though right now he's not sure whether there is another way of looking at things.
He wonders what he's lacking; what, actually, he's here for, if he has given his all and legs and kidneys and health and still ended up less popular than his members. He doesn't like that he's feeling this way, because he shouldn't, come on, no.6 isn't all that bad and why is he even bothered about a ranking based on fancafe numbers, but in the meanwhile he's quiet and Eunhyuk is sad and in the dorms, Sungmin checks the chicken soup he's boiling for his quiet leader.
Sungmin is cute and his soup usually tastes good, so Eeteuk forces a medium-sized bowl of it down his digestive system though he's not in the mood for eating. "It's delicious," he says to Sungmin's eager eyes.
Eunhyuk and Shindong sneak off for a second helping and Sungmin smiles. "You know, hyung…"
"Yeah?" Eeteuk says, preparing to get out of the chair and back to the 12th floor dorm where he'll lie beside an empty Donghae bed and try not to wallow.
"You're really important to us." Sungmin bites his bottom lip thinking of the right words to say and Eeteuk is occupied in cooing mentally at how cute he is. "Just…" Sungmin looks at him with bright eyes. "Remember that? You're really important and we wouldn't exchange you for anybody."
Eeteuk pats his hand affectionately. "Thank you, Sungminnie."
Sungmin lets him go.
Twenty minutes later, he diagnoses the empty feeling. It's not that he doesn't appreciate Sungmin's words, or that he isn't touched by it; it's that he knows half the reason why he's here is because of the members but that half doesn't make a whole and he's still wondering what the other half is.
He sighs, turns over, and wishes Donghae was here. Donghae is a nice thing to cuddle when one is pondering deep meanings of existence.
Donghae calls the next day during a Strong Heart filming. Eeteuk doesn't have time to return his call until it's one in the morning and they're in the company van heading back to the dorm, Eunhyuk's head lolling on the headrest next to him and Shindong snoring softly behind. Gwarrrrk, gwarrrrk goes Shindong's snoring and Eeteuk, thanks to years of immunity training, successfully blocks it out as he dials Donghae's number.
"Hyuuuunng," Donghae whines the minute the line connects, "it's been six hours since I called you!"
"I didn't have the time to return your call," Eeteuk says. "Stop whining."
"Anyway," Donghae says, "Hyukkie said you've been down lately so I thought I'd call and cheer you up."
Eeteuk shoots the sleeping (and apparently CNN-inspired) Eunhyuk a sympathetic look. "I don't think you were supposed to divulge that."
"What? Divulge what?" Donghae asks. "What's wrong, hyung?"
There's no point in keeping secrets from Donghae or telling him alternative secrets; he has an uncanny way of knowing when you're telling the truth. Eeteuk gives up and tells him briefly about the fancafe ranking, joking a little about being mid-way because he doesn't…really doesn't…want to let his favourite dongsaeng see how pathetic he can be.
"How can you be below me?" Donghae says indignantly. "Don't worry! Hyung, lots of people like you. You're getting so famous for Teukigayo and Boom Academy. People are saying that you're going to be the next big MC. Figures like that don't matter."
"You're right," Eeteuk says, but there's something off about his voice and Donghae catches it.
"Do you remember that night we were talking about being idols?" he says after a minute. Eeteuk doesn't remember and Donghae sends a disapproving roll of the eyes down the communication line. "It was about five years ago. We hadn't debuted yet. I said that I didn't know if I could achieve my dad's dream for me and you said the important thing was to try."
He remembers now. Late night dance practice, Sungmin and Eunhyuk had wandered off for a snack and he'd been sitting on the floor with Donghae, listening to Donghae talk about his father and how he wanted to become a singer for his dad's sake. Eeteuk just doesn't remember what he himself had said.
"You said that trying to achieve a dream was as important as having it achieved," Donghae says.
"It's more fun, too," Eeteuk says. "When you've achieved your dream, you either stagnate in it or you have to find something else."
"You remember!" Donghae exclaims happily. "And you're achieving your dream, aren't you, hyung? To make your name in the entertainment industry? That's what you're doing now."
"You're right," says Eeteuk, and he means it this time. He has a dream and he's working towards it. He's making good progress. Five years ago hardly anybody knew who he was and five years later he's well-known, his fancafe has more than 50,000 members, he has teammates who care about him, he's going back home from the filming of a popular TV show. He remembers the exhilaration of standing on stage, the flood of emotion when fans call out to him that they love him, the bright lights and the heat and the realization that he's here for the members but more importantly, he's here for himself and the attempt at his dream.
"I think I've just said wise things," Donghae comments.
Eeteuk laughs. He feels the warmth of affection for his members; no, more than affection, there isn't really a word for what he feels for them, love is too worn out, and what he feels for them isn't worn out. He feels that nebulous something for Donghae in China and Eunhyuk drooling beside him and Shindong going gwarrrk and Sungmin with his soup and bright eyes; all of them forming the half reason and himself the other half and it is nice to have the whole. "You have," he says. "Who would have imagined that Lee Donghae could say wise things?"
"I'm growing up," says Donghae confidently. "Is that Shindong in the background? I miss his snoring."
Eeteuk holds the phone to Shindong's mouth and, as Donghae gets over missing Shindong's snoring, he lifts a finger and presses away a tear.
"It was my soup," Sungmin says. "That, and I said wise things to him."
"Yah! It was me, I said wise things," Donghae argues on speaker phone.
"I knew it had to be a group effort to get Teukie hyung back to normal," Eunhyuk says, cheerful now by association. "And we were so subtle too. We're growing up!"
Shindong doesn't want to get involved in the self-praising. Randomly, he wonders if there are anymore leftovers of the chicken soup.
Note: This was written really quickly and I apologise for any weirdness. I shouldn't even be here but ahsdlkjh. Thank you for reading <3