silence / minsu / pg / quix.
"Do you hear that noise, Junsu?" the doctor had asked after treating him for cuts and bruises and a sprained wrist. "That's the sound of your eardrums dying. When you can't hear the noise anymore, you probably won't be able to hear anything else, either."
The ringing in his ears is gone. It has been replaced by a nothingness that makes the world hum one note in monotone forever and ever.
Jaejoong likes to remind Junsu that he was lucky; it could have been worse--he could have died, even. Imagine if that crazy anti-fan hadn't missed, Jaejoong says. If he had thrown it right at you, and you had blown up, instead of the wall. Junsu isn't sure if he's trying to comfort. He can't hear what Jaejoong is saying, anyway; he has to read his lips.
It's dangerous living in a city full of sounds when everything is put on mute. People chatter on their cell phones, and Junsu thinks that he can hear bits of their conversations, but really it's just his mind remembering how a conversation goes:
Hey! Are you free later tonight? Let's do something! We can invite SoungAh and YooJin, too!
So, tonight at eight?
Okay, see you!
Junsu's phone is in the pocket of his jeans on vibrate at all times. Once he answered the phone: "Yeobusaeyo?", and couldn't continue, too shocked at having not heard his own voice.
You can still send text messages, Yoochun writes down on a piece of scrap paper for him.
Junsu doesn't respond.
Changmin comes home to a deafening bass and music so loud that he can hear it from the elevator. He was out buying groceries; the others had gone for their own errands; Junsu stayed home.
He finds Junsu crouched in front of their black stereo in the living room, his fingers on the volume dial, still.
"Junsu!" Changmin tries to call over the noise, forgetting, but of course there is no answer. He sets down his groceries and pads his way over to the other boy, who is staring intently at the dial. It's turned as far as it will go. Changmin winces a bit at the noise-level, tapping Junsu on the shoulder.
When he turns to look at the younger boy, Junsu's eyes look glassy, and his lower lip is trembling. "I can't hear it," he says, his tongue tripping over syllables that cannot be formed properly anymore.
Changmin lets him clench at his shirt and bury his face into his shoulder. He feels a wetness soak through his shirt. Junsu is saying something, but the words can't be heard over the music, and they are malformed--too rounded in some places, too sharp in others. Changmin turns off the volume.
The silence is abrupt and makes his ears hum. "Now I can't hear anything, either," he says softly, gently.
Junsu can only feel the buzz of words and vibrations of low voices, and it comforts him.
They move out of Seoul. Jaejoong and Yunho visit often; Yoochun writes and phones nearly everyday. "Dongbangshinki," SM announced, "is taking a well-deserved, extended break." This really meant, we aren't sure if we can produce them anymore. Replacing Junsu would have been suicide.
In the countryside, Junsu and Changmin have their own field--their house is small but tidy. They have their own rooms, at least; what the house doesn't have in size, it makes up in character. The hinges to everything creak, and the grass outside is nearly as tall as the bay window in the kitchen. Changmin doesn't have the heart to cut it. Sometimes he catches Junsu seated on the front porch, watching the wind make waves in the grass as though he could hear the yellow blades rustle.
Everyone works on learning sign-language, and Junsu hates it. He hates that he is the only reason why. Slowly, Changmin and Junsu learn to communicate again, but sometimes it's easier just to write things down.
And then, Changmin realizes that he hasn't heard Junsu's voice in two months.
Why don't you talk anymore? Changmin signs to him over dinner one evening.
Junsu responds, My throat doesn't remember how. And he smiles that quirky smile of his, and he doesn't seem bothered by it at all.
Their power goes out in the middle of the night and Junsu panics. Changmin stumbles his way to Junsu's room and has to hold the other boy's hand to make his breathing even out. Finally, when there is enough light to see, Changmin mouths to Junsu, What's wrong?
The older boy's eyes are still wide and his knuckles are white from grasping Changmin's hand. With his other hand he manages to sign a few words and phrases, but they come erratically and disjointedly.
Dark--can't see--can't speak--scared--without sight--can't hear--there's nothing--without sight, everything goes away.
Without sight, there is nothing.
I can't communicate at all. You have a voice. You can speak. I have nothing.
When it's dark, it's like I don't exist at all.
That day, Changmin buys a kingsized bed and puts it where his own single bed used to be. He needs to got for groceries again, so he leaves a note on one of the pillows of the new bed.
Junsu, you will never be alone again.
[A/N] Comments appreciated.