Written for Haengbok Clock.
"What is this?" Heechul hissed.
"What's what?" Eeteuk asked, and then turned to see Heechul fingering the sleeve of his photoshoot outfit. His long, black sleeve. And they were on location in Bora Bora in January. "Oh."
Heechul nodded grimly.
"It'll look good with your hair," Eeteuk said in an attempt at consolation.
"That's not going to matter much if I collapse from heat exhaustion and all of my photos are of me sprawled facedown in the sand."
"Don't worry, hyung," Eunhyuk said, popping up suddenly next to them. "I'm sure the photographers would flip you over before they took any pictures."
Heechul bared his teeth at him, and Eunhyuk giggled and dashed away before Heechul could attack.
"I can talk to the photographers, see if they could take your individual shots towards the end, when the sun's lower in the sky," Eeteuk offered.
"You should see if they could just give me an outfit suited to summer on a tropical island," Heechul said, but Eeteuk knew he didn't really expect anything of the sort.
In the end, Heechul didn't faint, and he distracted himself sufficiently by mocking Sungmin's beribboned peach and lavender tanktop that he didn't even complain about the heat and his own wildly inappropriate outfit more than twice every hour. The instant they finished shooting, though, he yanked the shirt off with a flourish and an atypical disregard for his hair.
Ryeowook laughed--hopefully not in response to Heechul's dramatic gesture--and Eeteuk kept his head turned in the other direction so that he wouldn't feel compelled to step in and stop the potential bloodshed if Ryeowook's amusement had been at Heechul's expense. The laughter wasn't followed by screams or tears or any commotion other than what was inevitable when thirteen boys all had to change clothes together, however. Eeteuk's ears picked out a quick squabble over exactly whose shirt Donghae had just put on, even as the general clamor began to fade as the other members finished dressing and left the small changing area in twos and threes.
Eeteuk fell in step beside one of their managers en route to the bus stop, confirming a few important details in an undertone, and then he stopped to survey the rest of Super Junior. Most of the boys were filing onto the island's bus, with a smaller group traveling back in the photographers' rental car. Kyuhyun was hovering in the border between the two groups, and it was easy for Eeteuk to take his hand and pull him aside without attracting the others' notice.
"What is it?" Kyuhyun asked.
Eeteuk shook his head. "Quietly, come on. Manager-sshi knows where we're going." He tugged Kyuhyun back down the path towards the sea, veering left slightly so that they could avoid the kicked-up sand by the photoshoot location and instead find their own piece of untrammeled beach.
"It seemed a shame to only see the ocean while we were working," he explained, sitting on the sand, Kyuhyun dropping down beside him a moment later. "So I told Manager-sshi we'd rather relax here a bit than go shopping with the others, and he said it was all right as long as I promised to bring you back undrowned."
Kyuhyun nodded. "How long do we have?" he asked, staring at the boundary of aquamarine sea and darker blue sky.
"Maybe a little less, since we have to get to the bus stop."
"Still. Two hours," Kyuhyun said, a bit dreamily, and Eeteuk sighed, releasing the day's--the past several months'--tension on a long exhale and agreed.
A moment later, he took a bottle of sunblock out of his bag and reapplied it to his face, then stripped off his shirt, conscious of Kyuhyun's eyes turning towards him in interest and perhaps faint surprise, and spread it over his arms and chest.
"Do my back?" he asked, holding out the sunblock.
Kyuhyun took the bottle, and Eeteuk turned around so that he could reach. There was a faint clacking sound as Kyuhyun shook the bottle, and then he smeared a handful of sun-warmed lotion on Eeteuk's back and began to work it in, his hands sliding without hesitation over healed scars.
Eeteuk suppressed a shiver. Kyuhyun was far from the only person to touch his back since the accident: there had been the countless, countless doctors and nurses, and then, when he was released from the hospital, several of the members, as well.
Heechul, who had dragged him into his bedroom the day he returned and stripped the shirt off an unprotesting Eeteuk, then run a surprisingly gentle hand over the torn skin and said, "Well, that's not so bad, is it?" in a choked voice. Kangin, who had walked in on him changing sometime in the first week and--rather than averting his eyes the way most of them did--stepped closer and given him a strong hug, his large hands warm and steady on Eeteuk's bare skin. Donghae, who had asked to see, and who had cried a little, his arms wrapped around Eeteuk's waist from behind and his face pressed between Eeteuk's shoulderblades.
None of them touched him like this, as though they were touching Eeteuk and not his scars. Their touch was clinical or sympathetic or comforting...but only Kyuhyun's made him feel whole.
"Me now?" Kyuhyun said after a bit, pulling his own shirt off, and let Eeteuk sunblock him from head to waist, offering no assistance but to close his eyes while Eeteuk applied the lotion to his face. Eeteuk was willing enough to admit that it wasn't any great hardship to touch Kyuhyun, who was warm and sweetly pliant under his hands.
"Want to go in the ocean?" Kyuhyun asked when he'd finished.
"Not yet. Let the sunblock soak in a bit, first," Eeteuk said, and Kyuhyun nodded and lay down beside him, his head in Eeteuk's lap.
They should have brought a blanket to lay on the ground; the sand wasn't too hot anymore, but Eeteuk could feel little prickles of pressure against his ankles and thighs. It was softer than Korean sand, but a blanket would be softer still. Eeteuk shook his head inwardly. He might as well wish for a picnic basket and a beach umbrella and a full day off to play with Kyuhyun rather than their hastily snatched two hours. No wonder he always seemed to dream big: it was his largest dreams that kept falling into his lap, and the smaller ones that continued to evade him. He reached to the side for his sun hat, which had spent more time that day on the ground or in his hand than on his head, and put it on. It cut the late afternoon glare nicely, and he gazed out at the moving water, brushing Kyuhyun's hair absently with his fingers.
"Do you want to swim now?" he asked softly after twenty or so minutes, stroking Kyuhyun's shoulder.
Kyuhyun's eyes blinked open and he sat up, looking far more awake than Eeteuk had supposed him to be. "Yes. You coming?"
Eeteuk shook his head. "I'll play lifeguard if I have to," he said. "But try not to make that necessary."
"I can swim, you know," Kyuhyun said, rolling his eyes.
"I know. I'm just saying, swim closer to shore rather than farther, okay?"
"Okay," Kyuhyun said. He slipped off his white cotton trousers several meters up from the waterline and splashed into the water wearing only his underwear. Eeteuk had a brief stab of regret at forgetting to sunblock Kyuhyun's legs, and then shrugged the thought away. It was late enough in the day that he wasn't likely to burn, especially in the limited time they had before their return to town.
As promised, Kyuhyun confined his play and his brief bouts of swimming to the first few meters of ocean. He was too far away for Eeteuk to clearly see the expression on his face, but he could see Kyuhyun's fierce joy in the turn of his head and the movement of his hands and shoulders.
Before Eeteuk had to call time, Kyuhyun emerged from the water, one hand at his waist to hold up his waterlogged boxers. He grabbed his trousers on his way but didn't put them on while he was still dripping seawater. Instead, he sat beside Eeteuk--who was pretending not to notice how Kyuhyun's wet boxers had gone almost translucent--and smiled at him.
"Thank you," he said, and leaned forward for a kiss.
Eeteuk let himself kiss back for a long moment, tasting salt and sweet in equal measure on Kyuhyun's lips, before he pulled away reluctantly. "It's a private beach, but maybe not this private," he said.
"The hotel room could be, though?" Kyuhyun said hopefully.
"Sure," Eeteuk said. It would mean kicking out Yesung and Sungmin and having the two of them grumble at him all day tomorrow for making them sleep on the floor, but it would be worth it.