Pairing: Ryeowook/Ryeowook, Ryeowook/everyone, eventual Yesung/Ryeowook
Word count: 3,978
Summary: A series of little vignettes exploring Ryeowook’s relationship with each of his bandmates.
A/N: Written for katsudono, who wanted something that shows how Ryeowook interacts with all the members… though this probably didn’t turn out like how she wanted.
Sometimes, on days when he’s alone in the dorm, Ryeowook wanders about it, dusting and cleaning and wiping off thumbprints on the shiny surfaces. People think that he cleans and cooks for the members because he’s a domestic little girl, but the plain and simple truth is that he does it because he likes it, and because he loves his members.
Most of all, he likes that everything that he does or touches reminds him of them, like when he’s rolling up the cords of Kyuhyun’s PlayStation, untangling the wires and pushing them out of the way so Kyuhyun won’t trip over them; or when he’s cleaning the tabletop and finds the smiley face Donghae carved into the wood months ago; or when he’s sorting laundry and Yesung’s scent, a mixture of cologne and musk, rises from his clothes and wraps around him.
This band, Ryeowook thinks, is the centre of his world, and it’s like he’s an axis, standing still while everyone whirls around him.
Ryeowook is secretly frightened of Heechul when he first meets him. Heechul’s brash and outspoken and fearless, all the things that Ryeowook isn’t, and Ryeowook is the newest member of an already-established group. It’s hard enough to find his feet as it is, without needing to worry about treading on the toes of his new members, and so he chooses to stay out of Heechul’s way as much as he can, hiding behind the people who are kind to him – Yesung, Leeteuk, Kangin, Sungmin.
His strategy works, at least for a month. They’re such a big group that Ryeowook can avoid him easily, until the day when Ryeowook’s recording his last song, a mere two weeks before debut, and Heechul wanders into the recording studio and stands in front of the glass window, mouth open, as Ryeowook sings his heart out, his voice clear as glass.
Heechul grabs him when he’s done and about to leave, long fingers closing with surprising strength around Ryeowook’s wrist, made thin and fragile by two months of crash dieting, and says, “Hey, Ryeowook.”
“Y – Yes?” Ryeowook says, his voice barely rising above a squeak.
“You sing so well,” Heechul says, and it’s the awe in his tone, more than anything else, that gives Ryeowook the courage to look up, and when he does, he sees that Heechul’s smiling at him, pride suffusing his face.
“Thank you,” Ryeowook mumbles, fidgeting uncomfortably; Heechul stares at him for a moment, and then snorts.
“Come on,” he says. “Let’s go for dinner. I’ll buy.”
“B- But I can’t – “
“I say you can, before you faint of hunger,” Heechul replies, and lets go of Ryeowook before ruffling his hair and pinching his cheek – hard enough to make Ryeowook wince, but it’s affectionate nonetheless, and Ryeowook manages a tremulous smile at him.
By the end of that first dinner, during which Heechul goes on long monologues about Yunho and Youngwoon and Donghae and Kibum, affection for his younger bandmates written all over his face, Ryeowook’s no longer afraid of Heechul.
Leeteuk may be the oldest of the group and the leader, but he’s also one of the most garrulous and outgoing members, and it doesn’t take him long to put Ryeowook at ease. Ryeowook doesn’t even mind when Leeteuk makes the decision to room with him, and he also doesn’t mind when Leeteuk insists on taking the bed against the wall, even though Ryeowook would have preferred that.
It’s through being Leeteuk’s roommate that Ryeowook discovers something about him: he’s not all that confident after all, not the in-control leader the rest of the country thinks him to be. Leeteuk suffers from stress backaches and migraines and insomnia, and he frequently lies awake at night, tossing and turning, and whenever Ryeowook looks over at him he’s looking up at the ceiling, eyes glassy and wide open.
“What are you scared of, hyung?” Ryeowook asks him one night when he’s massaging Leeteuk’s lower back, where his aches are worst, and Leeteuk smiles at him before burying his face in his pillow, hiding the twinges of pain that show on his face wherever Ryeowook’s fingers press.
“I don’t know,” he says at last. “Failure, maybe.”
“Yeah,” Leeteuk mumbles. “What if we fail? What if I fail? If I make one wrong move, Super Junior fails.”
Ryeowook digs his thumbs hard into Leeteuk’s back, and he yelps and jerks upwards. “What the hell was that for?”
“We are not going to fail,” Ryeowook says firmly. “We’re good. All of us are good. We’re all talented and strong, and we’ll not only make it, we’ll make it big.”
“Do you really think so?” Leeteuk asks, flipping over on his back to stare at Ryeowook.
“Yes of course. Why would I think that my group would fail?”
Leeteuk turns at that and reaches out a hand across the space between their beds, and Ryeowook takes it, feeling Leeteuk give him a grateful little squeeze. “Thank you,” he says quietly, and Ryeowook smiles at him.
That night, and the nights after that, Ryeowook notices that Leeteuk’s sleeping better.
Ryeowook’s fascinated by Kibum from day one. Sure, Kibum’s the real magnae, but Kibum’s also the same age as he is and he feels no age gap with him. Or he wouldn’t, if not for the fact that Kibum is dashing and gorgeous and too utterly perfect, and seems much too confident and sure of himself, even as an 18-year-old.
It makes Ryeowook feel inadequate almost immediately, when he sees Kibum come back from the gym, looking healthy and tanned and all sculpted muscles, and sometimes he locks himself in the bathroom and looks at himself, his pale skin and small bones and delicate frame made smaller by prolonged dieting, and wonders why there’s only a 2 month age gap between Kibum and him when there’s so much difference in everything else.
Beyond all the quiet envy, there’s also something more, because Kibum’s nice to Ryeowook, has always been close to him and was one of the first members to offer him help when he first joined. And maybe if sometimes Ryeowook finds himself pressing a little too close to Kibum in the car if they’re seated together, or liking it a little too much when Kibum flexes his biceps laughingly in front of him and allows him to run an admiring hand over the swell of his muscles, Kibum never seems to mind.
When Kibum begins staying away and away from the dorms more, caught up in his solo acting projects, Ryeowook tells him one night, when he’s back at the dorms for a rare visit, that he misses him and he should come back more often.
Kibum only laughs and dangles his phone in front of him. “I’m just a phone call away, Ryeowook. Friendship doesn’t diminish with distance.”
Ryeowook nods and smiles and wraps his arms around Kibum in a hug. “I know,” he says, and he’s comforted enough by that.
Siwon is someone Ryeowook loves to hug and be hugged by.
Perhaps it’s just because Siwon is tall and big and has a way of hugging that makes Ryeowook feel like he’s almost going to be crushed, all the breath squeezed out of him, but at the same time it makes Ryeowook feel oddly snug and secure, and he clings on to Siwon as much as he can, locking his arms around his waist and burying his face into his chest.
It helps that Siwon is just about as needy as he is in way of skinship, so he never minds it whenever Ryeowook comes to him, arms outstretched and face in a pout, and Siwon knows immediately what he wants, sweeps him up in strong arms, holds him tight and ruffles his hair, until Ryeowook finally pulls away, a broad grin on his face and his day suddenly and magically brighter.
Siwon laughs at him for it sometimes.
“You’re so needy,” he says, pinching Ryeowook’s cheek affectionately, and Ryeowook only smiles and leans in for another hug.
Any friend of Heechul’s is someone Ryeowook can be a friend of, he thinks, and he’s proven right when he’s introduced to Zhou Mi, or Seasoning as Heechul calls him.
Zhou Mi looks embarrassed every time Heechul calls him that in public, so Ryeowook makes it a point not to, referring to him as “Zhou Mi-hyung” – except that his Mandarin pronunciation is, quite frankly, terrible, and it ends up coming out as “Seasoning-hyung” anyway.
Surprisingly though, Zhou Mi never seems to mind when it’s Ryeowook. He’s fond of Ryeowook, like everyone is, and they’re drawn together by their shared love for music and singing.
Sometimes, when they’re in China, Ryeowook finds himself lying on Zhou Mi’s bony shoulder when they’re traveling between places, and Zhou Mi sings softly to him, voice blending with the sound of the car, and Ryeowook falls asleep to it.
He finds it comforting, like something secure for him to clutch in a foreign land.
Shindong is boisterous and funny and follows Ryeowook around like a puppy whenever he’s in the kitchen, dipping his fingers into everything Ryeowook makes, and even though Ryeowook chases everyone else out when he’s cooking, he never does it to Shindong, just for the pleasure of seeing Shindong’s face grow dreamy with bliss and his eyes shine extra bright whenever he tastes one of Ryeowook’s new concoctions.
There’s no one he loves to feed more than Shindong, because no one else is quite as vocal in their appreciation, and like every good cook he likes to make people happy with his food.
“Maybe if I hadn’t been in Super Junior, I’d have opened a little restaurant or something,” he tells Shindong one day while watching him eat a bowl of simple kimchi jjigae with as much gusto as a man starved for days, and Shindong grins.
“I’d be your most regular customer if you ever do,” he says, spitting out bits of cabbage in his haste, and Ryeowook laughs at him and dabs at his mouth with tissue and refills his bowl with more.
People call Ryeowook cute, but personally he thinks Sungmin’s the cutest member, all big innocent eyes and pouty lips, and sometimes he can’t help but pinch Sungmin’s cheeks, squeeze his arms, throw his arms around him and nuzzle into his shoulder, and Sungmin always responds, holding Ryeowook tightly around his waist or his neck, not unlike Siwon but somehow different.
There’s something about Sungmin that makes Ryeowook feel safe and comfortable, and even though he can’t put his finger on it, he doesn’t really care anyway, snuggling up against him when they’re watching TV or going out shopping with him. Sungmin buys accessories that he thinks look good on Ryeowook, and confides in him, and Ryeowook, for his part, is a good listener, and an even better accepter of gifts.
“I wonder if you’re the magnae, or I am,” Sungmin says one day, rubbing his cheeks, red with Ryeowook’s finger marks, and Ryeowook laughs, leaning into him with a plaintive “Hyung”, and Sungmin sighs and puts an arm around him, rubbing his shoulders in the comforting, indulgent way Ryeowook’s grown to love.
When Kyuhyun has his accident, it’s the hardest Ryeowook’s cried in years.
No one can calm him down; not Yesung, not Sungmin, not Leeteuk, and one by one the members stand around him helplessly as he cries until tears refuse to come out anymore and his voice is reduced to hoarse little gasps and his face is almost purple.
He cries himself exhausted until he falls asleep in Yesung’s arms, and for the next few days, even though the members are in and out of the hospital, he refuses to go. Not even when Sungmin calls, crying, to say that Kyuhyun’s prognosis is bleak; not even when Donghae reports that Kyuhyun’s condition has finally stabilized; and not when Leeteuk comes back beaming and announces that Kyuhyun’s finally awake.
“He’s asking for you, you know,” Yesung tells him one night, and Ryeowook tries to blink his tears away as Yesung makes him promise he’ll visit the next day.
When he finally does, the first thing he does is break down at the sight of Kyuhyun, thin and pale, surrounded by tubes and lying weak in that bed, and Kyuhyun reaches out for him, fumbles for his hand, and squeezes it.
“You don’t have to say sorry,” he tells Ryeowook, and Ryeowook sobs harder, because that’s just what he’s been wanting to say to Kyuhyun, that he’s sorry they fought, sorry he yelled at Kyuhyun, sorry that he never even had the chance to say sorry before the accident happened.
“I almost lost you, and I never got to – ” he manages, and Kyuhyun interrupts.
“But you didn’t,” he says, and Ryeowook’s too choked up to speak, but he feels Kyuhyun squeeze his hand again and knows that he understands, knows that he knows Ryeowook’s sorry, and that he’s not going to give Ryeowook a chance to lose him again.
Ryeowook remembers 2009 for two things. Neither of them has to do with Super Junior’s booming popularity and success with Sorry Sorry, or Super Junior-M’s meteoric rise with Super Girl, or the awards that the group sweeps.
The first thing is Kangin.
Kangin stumbles into the dorm in the early hours of the morning, and both Yesung and Ryeowook are woken up by the fuss and wander out into the living room to find Kangin shaking on the couch, smelling of alcohol and covered in cold sweat.
Hit-and-run. The words echo in Ryeowook’s mind, whispered by the members and the managers, breathed out in shocked gasps and staccato syllables. Hit-and-run.
While the managers are discussing among themselves the next step and the best plan of action, and the members are milling about looking alternately disbelieving, or worried, or shocked, or angry, Ryeowook’s the only one who slips off to the kitchen to make a cup of hot tea, strong and sweet the way Kangin likes it, before he brings it back out to the living room, heading towards the couch.
“Here, hyung,” he says quietly, proffering the cup, and Kangin would have reached out to take it but his hands are shaking too hard to, until Ryeowook finally puts it to his lips for him, orders him to sip slowly, makes him drink the whole cup while holding on to his hand, even though Kangin’s unknowingly gripping it so tightly that it’s turning numb.
By the time the managers decide to take Kangin to turn himself in, he’s a lot calmer, and Ryeowook gives him a hug before watching him leave.
He knows Kangin’s in the wrong, but it doesn’t make him worry for him any less.
The second thing is Hankyung.
Ryeowook, Henry, Kyuhyun, and Donghae are the only ones in their dorms in China on that day; Siwon’s out with Zhou Mi and his friends, and Hankyung – well, Hankyung’s told them he’s with his parents, but apparently he isn’t, and they find out when their manager bursts into the dorm and tells them breathlessly to stay put, not to leave the dorm, to speak to no one, and that Hankyung’s just filed a lawsuit.
It’s an uproar for days in both China and Korea, and because the company’s forbidden any contact between the members and Hankyung, there’s no way for them to know if he’s okay, or what’s really going on beyond the wild rumours and possibly inaccurate news reports, and to find out his reasons for this.
Ryeowook doesn’t even think about it. He simply locks himself in his bedroom and, wary of the fact that the company monitors all their calls, signs on to Skype and calls Hankyung’s mobile from there. It’s off, but he tries Hankyung’s mother’s mobile, their dumpling shop, and finally his home.
Hankyung’s father picks up and recognizes Ryeowook, after he identifies himself with the little Mandarin he can manage, and puts Hankyung on the phone.
“I’m sorry,” is the first thing Hankyung says. “I know you all hate me for this, and I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you, I didn’t want to worry you, and I – ”
“Hyung,” Ryeowook interrupts, “I just want to know if you’re okay.”
“I just want to know if this is what you really want.”
“It’s not what I want, it’s what I have to do.”
“I’ll wait for you to come back,” Ryeowook whispers. “We need you.”
There’s a long pause. “I know,” Hankyung says, and Ryeowook trusts Hankyung enough.
Eunhyuk, for all his outward playfulness, is just a child at heart.
He’s trusting and innocent enough to the point of being gullible at times, and sometimes Ryeowook takes advantage of this to weasel free meals out of him, or play tricks on him that gets him into trouble with the managers or other members. No one ever believes him when he indignantly points to Ryeowook as the culprit, until Ryeowook finally steps out and admits it, later wrapping his arms around a stiff and resistant Eunhyuk and burying his face in his shoulder, pleading for forgiveness.
Eunhyuk never stays angry at him for long, though, because even though Ryeowook’s cheeky with him, Ryeowook’s also the one who shields him from other members’ pranks, who volunteers to cook for him when he’s hungry, who cuddles and laughs with him when Donghae or Sungmin aren’t around.
“Don’t do that again,” Eunhyuk will say, attempting to look stern and failing spectacularly, and it always makes Ryeowook laugh.
“I do it only because you’re my favourite hyung,” he says teasingly, and Eunhyuk rolls his eyes and mutters, “Lies”, but he can’t stop himself from smiling anyway.
Ryeowook knows that out of all the members, Henry’s probably the most lonely of them all.
He’s not like Zhou Mi, who, even though he was a new addition to the group as well, is Chinese along with Hankyung and on home ground in China. Henry’s more Canadian than Chinese, and is out of his depth in both Korea and China, far from friends and family and everything he’s familiar with, angry chants ringing in his ears constantly.
“It’ll stop,” Ryeowook tells him whenever he finds Henry curled up on his bed in the dorm, crying silent tears that break his heart. “Keep working hard, and one day it’ll stop, and you’ll get the love and respect you deserve.”
Henry mumbles, “I don’t believe you”, and Ryeowook blinks away his own tears, rubs his palm up and down Henry’s back, and sings to him, or makes him get up and play the violin, because it’s the only thing that truly relaxes Henry.
The day that Ryeowook hears the chanting of Henry’s name grow loud enough to drown out the stray shouts of “Only 13”, he turns to Henry with a huge grin and a shout of, “I told you so!”, and Henry laughs and throws an arm around his shoulders, and together the both of them walk down the stage platform, soaking up the applause that they’ve waited so long for.
It’s no secret that everyone loves Donghae. Donghae is bright and open and has eyes that can charm puppies, and a heart that can love anyone and anything. Ryeowook is not immune to Donghae’s charms either – he makes sure Donghae’s birthdays are always celebrated, that he always has food when he needs it, and he may be younger but more often than not he finds himself giving in to Donghae’s wants.
It raises some grumbling sometimes, with other members, and Ryeowook gets teased for his ‘blatant favouritism’ (as Sungmin puts it), but Donghae always comes bounding up to him and pulls him close, glaring at the dissenter before announcing, “That’s because I’m good to Ryeowook, and I love him more than I love any of you.”
Ryeowook usually shoves him playfully away, laughing and calling him a liar, but he can’t deny that even though he knows it’s not true and there are people Donghae’s closer to, it still warms his heart to hear Donghae say it, just like how it makes him happy to see Donghae’s obvious delight when he does something for him.
And then there’s Yesung.
Yesung’s an enigma to Ryeowook sometimes – dark and possessive and insecure, worried about his looks, deprecating about his talent, unsure about his place in the group; and sometimes he’s as readable to Ryeowook as an open book, loud and cheerful and irrepressibly silly, wrapping Ryeowook in hugs and pressing random kisses to his forehead and cheeks that he claims are ‘accidents’, leaping to it at the first sign of Ryeowook wanting or needing anything.
Despite all these, Ryeowook remains oblivious, almost sweetly so; and nothing might ever have happened if they hadn’t moved dorms and become roommates, and Yesung develops the habit of crawling into Ryeowook’s bed late at night, wrapping himself around Ryeowook like a snug blanket, Ryeowook’s back pressed hot against his chest and their feet tangled together at the ankles.
“Why don’t you ever sleep in your own bed, hyung?” Ryeowook asks sleepily one night when he’s woken up yet again by the familiar feel of Yesung’s arms around his waist and pulling him tight against him, covers tucked in tight around both bodies.
“I can’t sleep without you,” comes the mumbled reply, and Ryeowook would have laughed at Yesung’s absurd cheesiness but drifts off to sleep instead, already comfortable enough to not be surprised or discomfited with these nightly visits.
He realizes what Yesung means, though, when he’s in China for the first time, and for the first week he tosses and turns, unable to sleep no matter how tired he is. He doesn’t figure it out at first though, not until he’s on the phone with Yesung one night and Yesung casually mentions that he hasn’t been sleeping without Ryeowook.
That same night, Ryeowook climbs into Donghae’s bed and tries to sleep curled up next to his warmth; the next night, he tries Henry, then Siwon, then Zhou Mi, and finally Kyuhyun and Hankyung.
He still doesn’t manage to sleep well. He doesn’t until he’s back in Korea and Yesung’s wound around him like a cocoon, whispering things that Ryeowook only half-hears because he’s kissing him, soft and sweet and perfect, and it’s not accidental this time.
It's all too soon before the members come back slowly in ones and twos, loud chattering breaking the peaceful silence as they wander in and fling themselves on the couch, calling cheerful greetings to Ryeowook, and not really noticing that the dorm’s a lot neater and shinier than it was when they first went out.
Ryeowook doesn’t mind, though, because he loves his members, and it doesn’t matter if sometimes they’re a little insensitive, or unmindful of his efforts, because –
“I’m home,” a familiar husky voice calls out, and when Ryeowook turns, a smile already growing on his face, it’s to see Yesung striding towards him and then cupping his face in his hands, running critical eyes over him.
“You’re all sweaty, and you look so tired,” he says, cleaning off a smudge of dirt on Ryeowook’s cheek with his thumb. “You were cleaning up after them again, weren’t you?”
Ryeowook just smiles, and Yesung makes a little noise of disapproval. “You’re spoiling them, and they take you for granted.”
“It’s okay,” Ryeowook says, shrugging. “I had nothing to do anyway, and it’s not like I don’t like it.” He leans in for a hug, and Yesung obliges, dropping a kiss on his forehead as he does so.
– because the most important person notices, and that’s all Ryeowook really needs.