Kyuhyun can hear them, chattering in their language, which he can't understand. They remind him a little of monkeys, inquisitive faces peering through the potted plants, peeking around corners. He should sleep in these few, spare minutes, but he can't, not while being watched from all sides by dozens of eyes. His head tips forward before he can stop it, and he jerks, trying to keep upright, but instead his head lolls backward, as if being pulled down by a weight, like one of those drinking bird toys. There was a time when Kyuhyun could've explained how those stupid things worked, but it's hard to even think about how heat engines function when you've had less than an hour of sleep in the past 24.
Kangin doesn't seem to be having any problem with being stared at like a zoo animal, Kyuhyun notices, but maybe that’s because he's in a place where you'd expect to find him -- on a couch, even though this couch is hideous vinyl and looks like it was made out of a pair of Sungmin's pants. Just as you wouldn't be surprised to find Heechul wearing slippers instead of real shoes or Sungmin carrying a pink man-purse, it's no big shock to see Kangin sleeping on a couch, his head sunk down onto his chest.
Asleep, Kangin looks both older and younger. His dark brows are scrunched up like he's pissed off at someone even in his sleep, though this too is no surprise. Kyuhyun isn't that close to Kangin; they room on different floors, and Kyuhyun finds it a bit unnerving that you can never be sure if Kangin is going to bear-hug you or punch you in the nuts. The only real guarantee is that that he will probably ask you to change the channel on the TV for him and then bitch when you click through them too quickly. Or at least that's what Kyuhyun has seen. Being the magnae has more benefits that he would've thought.
Kangin's lower lip pokes out a bit, like he's doing aegyo. Other than the furrowed eyebrows, his face is completely relaxed. Kyuhyun wonders if any of the others ever get sick of the constant shuffling, the battle for attention. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but Leeteuk will always be the leader, Heechul will always be the loudest, he will always be the magnae. He remembers being told once that the dogs in a pack under the most stress aren't the lowest, who seem to know that the only way they can go is up, or the highest, who seem confident in their position, but the ones in the middle who chase after a better rank while living with the threat of sliding backward. Does Kangin ever feel that way? Like he's scrabbling to maintain his place in the group?
If he does, he hides it when awake by being loud or playfully violent or by sucking down beers and soju until he's even more loud and playfully violent. He likes to brag about being the strongest, and Kyuhyun knows it's all bluster, but watching Kangin sleep now, he realizes there is strength there, that the confidence to shut out everything else is a type of strength instead of just laziness or exhaustion. After all, Kyuhyun is as tired as Kangin, and yet he still can't let himself sleep.
He props his head up with his hand and lets his eyes close behind the shelter of his palm, half-hoping that he'll look like he's just thinking about something instead of sleeping, and stretches out his legs. The toe of his shoe meets Kangin's, forming a right angle. He doesn't move it away. It doesn't mean anything. It's just geometry.