"Have you noticed," Hankyung says, concerned, to Donghae one evening at the hotel, "that Ryeowook looks sort of sad lately?"
Donghae's lips quirk to the side in a frown, contemplating, thinking back to Ryeowook's behavior lately. "Yeah, you know, he has looked a little depressed these past few days." Donghae clucks a bit to himself, obviously worried, but--he's Donghae, and he finds chocolate in his suitcase and suddenly all of his attention is focused on unwrapping it and eating it and seeing how much he can stuff into his mouth in one bite.
"I wonder what's wrong." Hankyung frowns at his suitcase. He's leader now, and it's his responsibility to keep his members happy and worry-free. He has to find out what's going on with Ryeowook.
"Ryeowook," Hankyung begins. It's the first night he's managed to find Ryeowook on his own since his discussion with Donghae. "Ryeowook, are you sure you're alright?"
"What?" he asks--Hankyung would almost say he looks frightened, worried. Scared. This isn't the Ryeowook he's used to. This isn't the cute, shy Ryeowook. And come to think of it, when was the last time he heard Ryeowook laugh when they weren't on stage? Granted, Hankyung hasn't been around Ryeowook much lately--he's been very busy, after all--but still, Hankyung is sure he would notice if Ryeowook were troubled or not, and Hankyung is certain something is weighing on Ryeowook's mind.
"You just seem kind of down lately, that's all," Hankyung says, not thinking much aside from 'I'm worried about Ryeowook'--and then he realizes that maybe that was the wrong thing to say, maybe Ryeowook will freeze up on him now and not say anything at all--
"Oh, it's um," he says. "It's just that Henry-- well, Henry, he..." Ryeowook pauses, takes a deep breath, and then smiles. "It's nothing. Please don't worry about it, hyung. I'm fine. It's fine."
Hankyung is more worried than ever.
He watches Ryeowook, that afternoon, trying to see just how much his behavior has changed. He's always known that Ryeowook had something of a crush on Henry, but he'd thought it was mutual.
Now he watches their interactions, and thinks perhaps Henry is being a little too forceful. Maybe Ryeowook is just pretending to like his advances because they're in front of a camera. Maybe Ryeowook can't defend himself--after all, Henry is bigger than Ryeowook. Maybe Ryeowook can't fight back--
And just why, exactly, is Henry making Ryeowook feed him? Hankyung thinks, glowering as he sees the two smile and laugh while the audience coos at them. Does he think Ryeowook is his slave? Some sort of woman to do his bow to his every whim?
(He ignores the fact that this is all a part of the TV show; Henry doesn't have to make Ryeowook feed him, and Ryeowook shouldn't be forced into doing something so degrading. Ryeowook is his own person, after all. Not someone to be forced into doing Henry's bidding all day long.)
Hankyung's eyes narrow, and he vows to enlist the rest of Super Junior M to protect him.
Hankyung corners Kyuhyun first, in a hallway at the studio. "Don't you think that Ryeowook has been looking rather down lately?"
"I'm sure he's just stressed," Kyuhyun says, quirking one eyebrow curiously. "It happens to the best of us."
"Well, actually, I think that--" Hankyung clears his throat, and pulls at the (suspiciously low) neckline of his shirt nervously. (No, seriously, it's like the costume designers want him to be completely naked or something.)
That's when they hear slightly raised voices, and the practice room door swings open violently and there's Henry and Ryeowook--Ryeowook's face is lowered, and he avoids eye contact as he leaves for another part of the studio; Henry just stands there, obviously following Ryeowook's every move as he heads out of the room--following his every move much too closely for Hankyung to be comfortable.
Hankyung swallows nervously, more frightened for Ryeowook than before. He leans in close to Kyuhyun, and whispers, "I think Henry is beating Ryeowook."
Within a day, the fact that Henry is beating Ryeowook has been whispered to all of the SJM members (excluding, of course, Henry and Ryeowook themselves). Each member has witnessed a suspicious scene--shouting, or Ryeowook looking particularly down after talking to Henry, or Ryeowook looking afraid of Henry, or--
No one is quite sure how to interfere at the moment, especially since no one is sure whether or not Ryeowook is ready to admit he's being abused.
"He tried mentioning something about it to me a while ago," Hankyung had told them, "but he stopped himself. I think he's still afraid of what Henry will do to him if he tells."
Thus, the strategy is to try and earn back Ryeowook's trust, and convince him that they can protect him from Henry.
"The minute I see a bruise anywhere on Ryeowook's body," Siwon says angrily, "I will break Henry's neck." He pounds his fist into the palm of his hand for added effect.
Zhou Mi runs into Ryeowook sitting outside a practice room, hunched over, sitting cross-legged on the floor. "Hey, what's up?" he asks, kneeling down beside him. He's not sure he believes all the rubbish about Henry abusing Ryeowook, because 1) Ryeowook is older than Henry and he's not exactly an idiot, and 2) Henry just doesn't seem like that sort of guy.
But when Ryeowook looks up, tears in his eyes, wiping at them furiously with his hand while he stammers, "I-it's nothing, just s-sometimes Henry's violin makes me want to cry. It's so beautiful, you know?" Zhou Mi starts to wonder.
"You know I'm always here for you, right," Donghae says one afternoon, licking his lips nervously.
Ryeowook looks surprised. "Er, thanks, Donghae. That's uh, very kind of you?"
"I just wanted to make sure you knew that you could... trust me. With anything, you know?"
"Erm. Yes. Thank you very much, Donghae. I'll keep that in mind." Ryeowook looks confused, and about to say something else, but instead he just leaves the room.
"Henry-ah? Are you still practicing your violin?" he shouts as he walks away.
Donghae nearly jumps out of his seat in rage. "I CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S GOING BACK TO THAT ABUSER," he shouts angrily.
"You know, if you ever need someone to protect you," Siwon says, "I'm here for you. I can keep you safe."
"Uh," Ryeowook says, eyebrows knitted in confusion. "Thanks?"
"I mean, if someone ever threatens you, just tell me, and I'll make sure they never trouble you again." He pounds a fist into his other hand. "You get my meaning?"
Ryeowook gulps. "I'll keep that in mind," he laughs nervously. "I uh, should go now, I have lunch plans with Henry."
Siwon glares at the mention of Henry's name, and Ryeowook squeaks and scurries away.
Hankyung tries to get Ryeowook to open up again a few days later.
"Are you sure nothing's bothering you?" He lays a hand on Ryeowook's leg, trying to be comforting.
Ryeowook winces, and Hankyung notices that there's a purple bruise peaking out from under his exercise shorts.
"Ryeowook," Hankyung begins, slowly, purposely. "Where did you get those bruises."
"HENRY'S ABUSING YOU, ISN'T HE," Donghae says, bursting in from the other room, dragging Kyuhyun along with him. "WE'LL PROTECT YOU, RYEOWOOK, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE HIS PUNCHING BAG! WE'LL KEEP YOU SAFE, I PROMISE."
Ryeowook leans back slightly in his chair, shocked, and then overbalances and falls to the floor. "He isn't abusing me," Ryeowook says, offended. "He's my friend! And your friend too!"
"YEAH, UNTIL HE STARTED BEATING YOU," Donghae shouts.
Kyuhyun, shaking his head and realizing that someone has to voice their concerns in a sensible manner, says, "Look, I realize that sometimes people identify with their abusers, but Ryeowook, you don't have to be treated like this. We love you. We don't want to see you hurt. We're on your side--"
"I'M NOT BEING ABUSED," Ryeowook shouts angrily.
Henry walks in, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, muttering, "What's going on in here?" just as Ryeowook continues, shouting, "I JUST CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TELL HENRY I LIKE HIM."
Henry freezes. "Oh," he says, eloquently. "Um. I think I'll go back to my room now."
There's silence. Ryeowook looks angry enough to attack everyone in the room at the moment.
Kyuhyun clears his throat. "If he isn't abusing you, then why do you shrink away from his touch lately?"
Ryeowook glares at him. "Because I'm nervous."
"Oh," Kyuhyun says, and Hankyung realizes it makes sense. But that doesn't explain-- "Well, then why do I keep hearing you and Henry arguing?" Kyuhyun continues.
Ryeowook looks confused. "We don't argue."
"What about the other day when you two were practicing together?"
Ryeowook still looks confused. "He was just showing me some pictures of him from high school. I guess we were a bit loud?"
"Oh. But then how do you explain the bruise?"
Ryeowook lets out a frustrated almost-scream and says, "YOU WERE THERE WHEN THAT HAPPENED. I FELL DURING REHEARSAL YESTERDAY."
"Oh," Donghae says, finally rational enough to speak. "Oh, that's right. I remember that now. You hit the chair."
They all stand around the room, awkardly trying to not look at each other, before Ryeowook says, "I'm going to see if Henry is still awake. Don't try to follow me or protect me or whatever you think you need to do. I am a grown man, you know."
Ryeowook knocks on Henry's door. "Henry, I--"
"I LIKE YOU TOO PLEASE HELP KEEP SIWON FROM KILLING ME--"
"YOU'VE BEEN ABUSING RYEOWOOK, I CAN'T LET YOU LIVE--"
"OH MY GOD SIWON STOP STOP YOU'RE GOING TO KILL HIM--"
(The next few rehearsals are interesting, to say the least.)