The autumn leaves are falling, and for the thousandth time, Eunhyuk finds himself in the park as evening sets, a lonely figure contemplating the solemnity of life and death, and the terror of uncertainty.
"I thought I'd find you here." Someone emerges from the shadows and comes to stand beside him. Eunhyuk knows who it is without turning his head.
"I'm ready," Eunhyuk says. He needs to see for himself what they are, what they can be.
The paths fork endless before them, winding through the trees, and Eunhyuk looks down the first one, and sees --
Donghae grows in popularity in China, with Super Junior-M. His trips to China become more and more frequent as he becomes a favourite for being featured in the MVs of female Chinese singers. Donghae's career expands, encompassing acting deals in commercials and guest star positions in television series, and then finally to the silver screen. The Chinese market loves his easy smile and boyish good looks.
Donghae begins to find life in China more attractive than being in Korea.
Eunhyuk, of course, is left behind -- embittered by Donghae's success, and the tatters of their friendship.
So that makes one ending. Eunhyuk wonders if they're all going to be as dismal as this one. Gritting his teeth, he looks down the next path --
Donghae never leaves to join Suju-M. He asks for a transfer to stay with the Super Junior main group, and Eunhyuk knows it's secretly for him, and he feels inordinately touched and pleased.
After a particularly petty row, however, Eunhyuk, in a fit of anger, asks for a transfer to join the sub unit to China. Donghae, when he finds out, is hurt to the point of tears. Eunhyuk ignores him, feeling a vindictive sense of victory.
It's Donghae who's left behind now, but as they allow their lives to revolve around different friends, Donghae with Sungmin, and Eunhyuk with Henry, it seems that the gap left by the other can almost-close, almost-heal around the scar.
After watching that one, Eunhyuk has to swallow a few times before he has the courage to look at the next one. His hands are trembling slightly, and he curls them into loose fists at his side to stop the shaking. The figure at his side is impassive, never flinching or giving any indication that he sees the scenes as well.
In the next one, they drift apart as a factor of time.
Super Junior disbands after ten years of performing and making music together -- "a good run," they all say. Without a reason to stay together, the members drift apart slowly; thirteen members are a lot of people to keep together. Kibum goes into acting full-time, so they see him on the television sometimes, and Heechul is almost a regular host on some of the variety programmes, but most of the others have chosen to pursue quieter lifestyles, and they no longer meet so often. Hangeng has opened a bookstore selling Chinese and Korean books. The other members drop by from time to time, but with different hobbies and interests, it's rare for their paths to cross, and soon, they have their own lives, and their own families, to take care of.
Donghae is married in this one. Eunhyuk can't decide how it makes him feel.
And then there's the next one. The one where Eunhyuk watches Donghae aggressively capture his mouth in a kiss, and he has to look away, startled by the intensity of the emotions in both his and Donghae's faces.
Eunhyuk shoves Donghae away in a mixture of shock and terror, fear that he has given away too much, and wondering wildly if Donghae is teasing him. Donghae misinterprets the expression on Eunhyuk's face as disgust; he flushes, and Eunhyuk, protecting the last shreds of his pride, opts to wait out Donghae's next move. Donghae stays frozen, then abruptly leaves, never explaining or giving him a chance to explain, and something in their friendship is permanently and irrevocably changed.
Eunhyuk doesn't dare to think too long about that one.
The full moon casts shadows and scares more possibilities out of the darkness. Eunhyuk stays through each one. He watches false starts, the twists and turns where their friendship could go wrong, abrupt ends to the road where they push each other too hard too fast, or where they let fame or pride or friends get between them, and wedge a gap too large to navigate.
At last, when morning creeps up on them, Eunhyuk points at the last path in desperation and says determinedly, "I want this one."
Donghae returns after the latest round of Suju-M promotions, after being away for two months. Eunhyuk struggles with being jealous of Donghae's friendship with Henry, and trying not to show it. Donghae notices anyway, and it ends in a fierce row when Donghae tries to get Eunhyuk to admit it, and Eunhyuk refuses. They don't speak to each other for days, until Siwon sits them down and forces them to talk.
They do, sullenly at first, until Donghae cracks a joke, and as they laugh together, Eunhyuk realises how much he's missed his company. The laughter disappears gradually, and Eunhyuk is left staring at Donghae a little too long, wondering how much of his emotions show on his own face. Donghae must have seen something in his expression, because his eyes search Eunhyuk's face, and soften as they find what they were looking for.
It ends with Donghae slowly, tentatively reaching over to grasp the back of Eunhyuk's head, and pull him in for a soft, careful kiss.
Eunyhuk lets out a breath he doesn't realise he's been holding. He can live with this one.
"I came here just a week ago," Eunhyuk says, trying to sound annoyed, but failing because Donghae's side is pressed warmly against his arm, a bundle of puppy-dog softness. They're back in the park again, watching the autumn leaves fall.
"Look at the leaves, you dope," Donghae says, poking Eunhyuk and making him squirm.
They stand there for a minute, silent amongst the falling leaves, but all Eunhyuk can focus on is the whiff of fresh soap from Donghae's jacket, and he wonders what Donghae has brought him here to see.
"Well?" Donghae casts an expectant look at Eunhyuk.
"They're falling for you," Donghae says mischievously, an echo of the cheesy lines they had spontaneously come up with during the filming of their mini-drama.
Eunhyuk unconsciously holds his breath, just the way he did when their arms had been tightly pressed together, but his heart skips a beat all the same when Donghae leans close and whispers into his ear, "So am I."