Looking for a short and bittersweet tale of love, loss, and recovery with a hint of fantasy from a pair of contemporary dancers? Then I encourage you to take a look at ‘And I You.’ It is a fanfiction piece featuring Sungmin from Super Junior and Sunny from Girls’ Generation but in this story, they have no relation to their respective groups. I do adore this pairing though. haha They’re called SunSun! Come on! XD
I did write this a while back and was going to submit it to Glimmer Train as well but that never ended up happening. This time around, I made some notable changes and it might have a better shot if I ever do opt to send it in. I probably won’t but it’s nice to see when you feel you’ve improved over the years. ^_^
*The header image is a rough approximation of what they would look like in this story.
In the quiet of the resting dance studio, dust motes floated lazily, reveling in the shimmering rays of early sunshine that streamed through the relatively clean windows. Smudges from tired fingers and weary faces marred the glass panes, leaving imprints of memories behind. Similarly marked mirrors lined the majority of the quiescent space, a silent admonishment to the previous occupants who failed to clean as meticulously as they should have. Dim in the absence of overhead lighting, the polished wooden floor gleamed wanly, pale beams mutely telling the tale of an unknown number of feet passing over the well-worn surface. Against the only wall free of any mirrors, accessories for a myriad of classes decorated the white space, spilling outward in clustered piles just beyond the path of the door.
Standing in front of the now closed portal, Sungmin reviewed the interior with a critical eye, toned arms crossed over his covered chest. Messy dyed blonde hair paired with dark oval eyes and pale skin painted a conflicting picture of his Korean heritage. His trim physique under fitted attire bespoke hours of practice in the very studio he stood in, homage to an intense workout regimen. Slowly, he took a deep breath and eased across the wooden floor on bare feet, trailing his fingers along the mirrors just shy of touching the smooth surface. By the time he made a full circle, he paused in front of the analog clock ticking inexorably above the door, indicating it was almost time.
At just before dawn, when most sane persons would still be sleeping, that was when she liked to dance the most. In the quiet before the world began to stir in full, she would come and pretend no one else existed, save the occupants of this isolated space.
Mocha eyes watched the needle continue to rotate, lips turning up in a preemptive smile. Joy highlighted his visage, crinkling his eyes and tugging at the corners of his mouth. Through the glass rectangular pane, light flickered on beyond the barrier of the door, heralding her approach. “Sunny,” he whispered with a nod to himself. Then he took a step back, gaze trained on the closed entrance, and waited. Today would be the day.
A young woman paused in front of the door, ebony waterfall of hair obscuring half of her shadowed complexion. Stifling a yawn, she pushed the barrier open and shuffled inside on quiet, sneakered feet, her diminutive frame draped in overly large gray sweatpants and a light hoodie of the same color. Sleepy, coffee-colored eyes peered through naturally long lashes, squinting to locate the light switch before she got very far. A groan escaped her when the overhead lights flickered on, making her almond shaped eyes narrow with a wince.
“Morning,” Sungmin hummed as he stepped off the wall on the other side of the door to ease into the middle of the room. He watched her when she dropped the small duffel bag she was carrying beside the closed door and stretched her arms above her head, humming in the back of her throat.
“It’s too early,” she exhaled softly, bending forward with her arms straight above her back, sending her unbound hair cascading over her shoulders to brush the floor in messy coils where it pooled beneath her.
“That’s what you always say,” Sungmin smiled, the expression warm and amused while he paused beside her, mirroring her pose. She didn’t respond to his reminder and simply focused on continuing her stretch, easing lower to the ground with each passing second. Out of the corner of his eyes, Sungmin tracked her movements, letting her lead though he knew the routine by heart anyway.
“Three, two, one,” Sunny whispered to herself before rising smoothly. Upright, she arched her back into a graceful curve with her arms above her head, earning a plaintive pop from her spine.
“Every time,” Sungmin snorted, his mouth pulled sideways in a wry grin.
Sunny laughed in chagrin and shook her head while she shook her hands out. “Okay,” she gustily exhaled before finally looking into the mirror with a bright smile that was matched by Sungmin’s expression. “Let’s do this,” she added, pumping her fist in front of her and nodding once.
For just a moment, Sungmin held her gaze, looking her in the eyes with all the confidence and support he could muster before he murmured, “You’ve got this, Sunny.” The moment shifted slightly when she moved to continue stretching, peeling out of her over clothes to reveal the form fitting leggings and tank top beneath. Shamelessly, he admired her sleek physique beneath the thin layers of cloth, comprised of wiry strength and compressed softness.
Bare faced, Sunny was not one that could be considered conventionally beautiful, but even with no makeup, her presence was striking. From experience, Sungmin knew she really came to life when she was on the dance floor. There… her prominent cheeks and full lips added curved planes to her visage, allowing the overhead lights a perfect canvas to draw their contouring shadows on. He watched as she drew the fingers of her right hand along her forearm, catching the plain white hair tie around her wrist and tugging it free in a smooth motion so she could capture the loose strands of her hair into a semblance of order.
“Good call,” he conceded, rubbing the back of his short locks in reaction. “It’s no fun when you get smacked in the face by a ponytail you know,” he winked as he stepped closer to her, watching the way she wrinkled her nose and exhaled, catching flyaways and threading them behind her ears.
“I need to get a haircut,” she explained, tidying up the loose strands on the top of her head before she caught the end of her hair between her fingertips, glaring at the tips. Split ends were beginning to appear, giving the normally sleek strands a fuzzier than usual appearance.
Sungmin shrugged his shoulders with his arms half spread on either side of him. “I won’t argue. Then again, I don’t really have room to talk, do I?” His constantly chemically treated hair was always in need of some sort of care.
Annoyed, Sunny huffed and tossed the strand behind her shoulder before she glanced in the mirror. Her eyes darted up to the clock in the reverse image and she licked her lips slowly, fingers twining together before her. Blinking in a controlled measure, coffee orbs drifted to the smudged window, one thin brow rising as she watched the sunlight continue to stream in through the transparent panes. Motes of golden dust danced where natural illumination streamed in, mirroring languid fairies that sparkled once, twice, and then disappeared before another took its place.
“Just take your time,” Sungmin murmured, angling his body to face her with his arms lax at his sides and feet in the ready position. He turned his head to follow her line of sight, watching the motes as she did. “There’s no rush.” He caught his bottom lip between his teeth when he noticed her gaze fall to the floor, following an invisible trail to her feet before she closed her eyes, long lashes shuttering in the reflection.
“It’s not so hard,” she whispered as if to herself, lips pursing in mute worry with a tiny wrinkle appearing between her brows.
“You know it’s not,” Sungmin encouraged in response, coming close to rest his hands oh so lightly against her waist, long fingertips curling around to frame her abdomen.
Sunny inhaled slightly and loosed her hands, shaking them quickly with her eyes still closed. She flexed her hands in quick succession, the final motion ending with her eyes snapping open to glare at the reflection in the mirror. “I’ve done this hundreds of times already,” she forced a laugh, clenching her jaw as she took a slow, deep breath through her nose.
“And you’ll do it hundreds of times more,” he assured her with a smile over the top of her head, internally laughing as he always did because of their height difference. Though he barely measured in at just over five and a half feet tall, he could easily see over her when they were standing like so. Not that it mattered when they danced together. In those moments… everything was just right. “Let’s just take it slow. Whenever you’re ready,” he coached, shifting his weight to the balls of his feet, tensely poised to follow her initial lead.
Once more, Sunny’s eyes closed and she pursed her lips, but Sungmin could see that she was mentally preparing herself. They’d practiced the routine often enough that they could probably perform it blindfolded, but since the accident, she hadn’t been able to make it all the way through yet. Not the way they used to. Not the way they should.
“That’s right, baby,” he encouraged in her ear, willing what strength he could to her. It was Sunny’s part they needed to get through and he couldn’t do it for her. He noticed the way her head began to nod along to a beat he couldn’t hear, but he knew it immediately, following the notes in his mind while he mouthed the count to himself.
“One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two-” Sunny cut herself off mid-count to step right into the beginning of the dance sequence, moving seamlessly across the floor as her sneakers squeaked a quiet symphony.
Imminently ready, Sungmin bounded after her, shadowing his partner with the ease of practice and hard-earned comfort from hours of shared companionship. “Just like that,” he smiled with pride, following and leading as the unheard music dictated. His hold was gentle and supportive, lacking the power to physically correct her steps or pacing, but he wasn’t meant to. In this, he was little more than her shadow.
Fiercely determined, Sunny wore a mask of concentration while she whispered the steps to herself. Her gaze was focused on her form and process, checking her figure in the mirror only fleetingly. “One, two, spin!” she exhaled, twirling away from Sungmin. He followed after, reaching his hand across her abdomen to catch her about the waist as she came to a firm stop, jerking just a bit more than usual when her body tensed in reaction to the overstep. “Shit,” she hissed between clenched teeth, drawing in on herself as she placed her hands over her abdomen and closed her eyes, trembling slightly.
“Shh. Shh,” Sungmin soothed automatically, coming close to run his free hand down her back while he left his other where it was. “It’s alright. You’ve got this. Just breathe, love,” he forced a smile for her and watched as she managed to get ahold of herself. She had no trouble with the parts where he was only her shadow, but when they were supposed to actually dance together, to trust each other, he could not give her the support she appeared to need.
“I know you don’t have to be here for these parts, but it’s still so hard,” Sunny admitted with her eyes on the floor and the palm of her right hand rubbing over the backs of her left fingers, obscuring the slender gold band on her ring finger. When Sungmin glanced down, the companion ring on his finger was hidden beneath her hands.
There was nothing about the dance that required a partner’s presence, but that was also why they loved performing it. There was an exceptional amount of freedom for them, which allowed the duo to really show off both their strengths individually, complimenting their skills when they came together fleetingly. “Only because it’s still in your head, love.” Sungmin looped his right arm around her shoulder to give her a careful embrace as he looked down at her conflicted face. “Every time I let you go, it’s always to see you shine,” he reminded her in a tight voice while he searched her profile intently, noting the mostly healed scar at the edge of her hairline where slightly puckered skin refused to be covered by the thin sheen of concealer she wore.
His brows dipped and Sungmin was glad she couldn’t see the remorse and guilt in his troubled eyes. Looking at the mirror, he sighed with a frown. He should have been able to do something to protect her or keep her safe. It didn’t matter that she had been the one driving that night. Neither of them could have predicted it, but that didn’t stop him from silently cursing the damned drunk driver that had put her in the hospital and shaken her to the core when it came to dancing.
He was pulled from his dark thoughts when Sunny relaxed at last and stirred again. “I just need to get through a dry run. I know it,” she murmured, shaking her head while uncertain eyes peered through tense lids.
“You could always try the music,” he supplied with his hands still resting against her in a supportive gesture.
“I could try the music, but it gets in the way,” she spoke, rubbing at her face with both hands while she stepped out of his embrace to walk around in a quick, agitated circle. “I can’t focus right when it’s playing,” she added, drawing circles at her temples as she continued to walk her tension out. They’d been listening to music when it happened. Before, she couldn’t stand the sound of silence and now it was her constant companion.
“Okay. Whatever you need, Sunny. I’m here for you,” Sungmin smiled instead, remaining where he was to watch her, head tilting to the side slightly in his observation. There was a very slight hitch in her step where she favored her right ankle. Not surprising since it was the one broken in the accident, but it was healed now. They both knew it, even if she hadn’t quite given up on the pretense of needing to be careful with it.
As if to spite his silent assessment, Sunny paused and bounced on the balls of her feet, flexing her ankles and calves fluidly so that the muscles tensed noticeably under the fabric. “Right. Let’s try again,” she exhaled, psyching herself up even as she returned to their starting position in the center of the room.
“Whatever you say,” Sungmin grinned while his hands fell automatically back into place. Again, he took note of her nodding head and waited for Sunny to count down, letting her set the pace. When she moved, so did he, eyes trained on her figure even as hers watched the steps in the mirror. Even now, she was beautiful to him despite the determined grimace on her face that made her look more severe than usual.
Like before, Sungmin saw how Sunny tensed up preceding the same part and he held his breath as he followed along, hand snaking in front of her as per the choreography. She stuttered, hesitated just a fraction – debating whether to try again or push through… In an instant, she growled under her breath and rushed into the next segment.
Sungmin grinned wordlessly, becoming her shadow once more while his hands ghosted over her body in a semblance of leading. “You’re doing it, Sunny,” he whispered, praying her concentration would hold.
“One, two, three. Get ready for it, Sunny,” she told herself with tightly pursed lips and tensing up noticeably as they approached another sticking point. “One,” step, step, “three!” she hissed, lunging into a spectacularly spread out pose that resembled a bird in flight; she was poised on one leg as her other extended straight and stiff behind her, leaving all the weight on her weak ankle. It was sublimely perfect for a fraction of a second. But with the sound of a sharp gasp, Sunny crumpled to the floor, curling into an embarrassed heap on the hard surface.
“Sunny!” Sungmin cried in alarm as he threw himself beside her, placing his hands against her waist and under her arm. “You had it, baby,” he tried to console her, keeping his palms where they were so he could assist her if she decided to try again. He wasn’t sure she would. This was usually where she gave up.
Sunny balled her hands into fists and ducked her head against her chest. “I can’t do it,” she sniffed through clenched teeth. Even as she spoke though, she absently rotated her ankle, quietly testing to see if it was injured.
“Yes you can, love. You just have to believe in yourself,” he encouraged, allowing his eyes to inspect her form, making sure she hadn’t hurt anything in the process. Under his hands, her body trembled slightly and he wasn’t sure if she was fighting tears or simply that frustrated with herself. Both were possible.
For a long moment, they remained where they were. Sungmin didn’t press her to try again and Sunny held still, tense and frustrated. He could tell by the frown on her face and the glisten in her eyes when she glanced at the mirror that she was trying to decide if she would give it another go. Oh so slowly, she straightened her fingers out and laid them flat against the worn polished surface. Her right hand drifted down her leg to rub her fingertips against her ankle but her eyes remained riveted on the left hand and the ring on her finger. “I can do it. I know I can,” she told herself in a voice that trembled.
“Of course you can,” Sungmin agreed while he moved to place his left hand atop hers, making hers disappear under his palm. “Come on. I’m still here, love,” he promised, sliding his hand up her arm to ease under her shoulder, waiting for her to act accordingly.
Sunny sat upright then but Sungmin tilted his head in confusion when she grumbled under her breath, reaching for her feet instead. “Stupid shoes,” she muttered, yanking the worn sneakers off and tossing them aside irritably. Her socks followed suit just as quickly, leaving her feet bare and pale against the shiny, yellowish-tan color. “Dammit! I will do this!” she practically snarled as she pushed herself into an upright position to stand determinedly in front of the mirror, hands balled into fists once more.
Just as quickly, Sungmin followed her progress and chuckled at her enthusiasm. “There’s my girl.”
Still muttering under her breath, Sunny went back to her position, pausing just long enough for Sungmin to stand behind her before she wasted no time and launched into the routine. Sungmin’s heart ached for her as he matched pace, feeling the hint of desperate determination in her form at every step. He couldn’t miss the mute pain hidden behind her eyes, masked by her strong will, but he felt nothing less than pride and joy in watching her, shadowing her, mutely following her every step while she danced.
This time, her feet whispered over the floor while her body responded like the fine-tuned instrument that it was. It told a story of love and loss, recovery and reinvention, despair and the indomitable nature of her spirit. Sungmin felt the song as much as he heard it in his head, and he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, she danced for him as much as she danced for herself this time. And when she finally stopped, perfectly poised and undeniably steady, he could only step back and stare, enraptured by the triumphant woman he called his wife.
As if bespelled, Sunny twitched, the statuesque mold fracturing while she blinked and looked around, almost like she was searching for something. “I did it?” she murmured with a confused lilt to her voice.
“You did it, love,” Sungmin whispered from where he stood a couple feet from her.
“I did it,” Sunny echoed his words in a breathless, disbelieving rush, her face breaking into a watery smile as she clasped her hands to her chest and clenched her eyes shut tight, trying to keep her tears at bay.
“I knew you could,” he exhaled with his hands hanging at his side, a sad but proud expression on his face. The door behind him clicked open softly and Sungmin made no move to look back, though Sunny’s head rose and turned to see who it was.
“Sunny?” another woman called curiously, pausing just inside the room while the door swung shut behind her.
“I did it, momma!” Sunny gasped, beaming at her mother with a sparkling expression, accented by the light glinting off the crystalline droplets lining her lashes.
“You did?” the older woman asked automatically, just as surprised and excited as her daughter.
“I did!” Sunny squealed in frantic excitement, bounding over to her. Sungmin closed his eyes and looked down when Sunny moved straight through him like he wasn’t even there. Because he wasn’t. Not to her. Opening his eyes, he turned to regard his wife and the woman that looked like an older, more distinguished version of her. Sunny’s mother had darker eyes, more wrinkles around her mouth and near her temples, and short, chin length hair, but in every other way, they were similar.
“That’s wonderful, darling!” Sunny’s mother laughed in delight. “I knew you could do it,” she murmured with pride, smoothing her palm over her daughter’s frazzled hair in a maternal gesture.
“He was here,” Sunny whispered intently, her voice filled with such love and joy that it hurt for Sungmin to hear.
“Who was?” her mother asked, briefly confused.
“Sungmin,” Sunny urged. “I felt him with me this time,” she added, clenching the fingers of her right hand around her wedding ring tightly.
“Oh, Sunny,” her mother murmured with a sad smile, cupping her daughter’s cheek with her hand instead. For a second, she struggled with what to say before adding, “You know he always did have a hard time leaving you alone.”
“But he didn’t,” Sunny breathed in a shaky voice as she looked over her shoulder, teary eyes searching the room. “Even after the accident, there were times I could still feel him with me.”
Sungmin stepped close enough to reach a hand out and rest it against her cheek, careful not to blur their boundaries. He wished he could use his thumb to wipe away the tear that stained it. “I couldn’t leave you alone, love,” he explained, swallowing as she looked right through him. Though his lifeless corpse had been hauled away in a body bag after the accident, his spirit was inexplicably bound to her. “Not when you still needed me.” She’d been in such pain then, broken in body and heart.
Sunny’s mother followed her daughter’s gaze as if she could see something too but shook her head slightly and turned the younger woman back to face her. “I know he loved you very much.”
“I do,” Sungmin mouthed quietly, leaving his hand poised in the air between them when she shifted away from his touch. That much had not changed.
“I know,” Sunny nodded quickly, wiping at the tears that continued to trail down her face.
“Come on, dear,” Sunny’s mother laughed after a briefly uncomfortable pause, giving her a hand. “Where are your shoes? Oh. There. Have you had breakfast yet?” she asked, shifting to retrieve the discarded footwear and moving on adeptly.
“Not yet,” Sunny shook her head, reluctantly accepting the shoes. “But if you want to wait for me in the car, I’ll be out in a minute,” she nodded, chewing on her bottom lip.
“You sure?” her mother asked, torn about leaving her daughter alone again or not.
“Yeah,” Sunny nodded, already slipping into her rumpled clothes.
“Okay then. I’ll be just outside,” Sunny’s mother smiled, patting her daughter’s head gently before she slipped out and left her by herself.
Silently, Sungmin stepped in front of Sunny as she clasped her hands and regarded the empty room with unblinking, rapidly shifting eyes. “Thank you, Sungmin. I’ll always love you, baby,” she sniffed, raising her fingers to her lips in a one-sided kiss.
“And I you,” Sungmin whispered, closing the distance so he could place a ghostly kiss upon her forehead, grateful only that she didn’t move away before him.
Without another word, she gave a partial bow with her fingers still pressed against her lips, grabbed her bag with her free hand, and turned around to leave. Sungmin watched her go, standing still until the lights went out and the door shut behind her, leaving nothing more than an empty dancing studio full of bittersweet memories in her wake.
~ The End ~
At the risk of dating myself, the inspiration for this story came at least in part from the movie Ghost. With Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, it’s also a really bittersweet but good movie. I’d recommend you check it out if you’re so inclined. I had to write this at the bottom in case you made it this far and do know the movie Ghost. I figured that might be a dead giveaway for the ending. lol