Blinking from time to time, the female student only observed with quiet curiousness while the other steadily executed the said work on the musical framework. Being one that did not associate with grand instruments such as the grand piano that was being dissembled in front of her, Junhee would preferably refrain from sounding like a dolt by asking unnecessary questions. The twenty year old was surely one that did not often go out of her way to tame her innocent inquisitiveness, but an important time such as this required her part. Or so she strongly believed, that is. Of course, one could never deny the brunette’s undying want to know and perceive of matters supposedly strange to her reality that would perpetually subsist for many years more.
With the impeccable and seemingly infallible use of the screwdriver, the amiable professor had appeared to undo a few screws that were holding the apparent key onto a hidden contraption. It was something she would imagine, at the very least, and perhaps it would have brought hidden comfort if she had known that the notion she held inwardly chanced to not stray too far from the fundamental truth when it pertained to suchlike makings. By and by, the young man had watched most astutely — or so she assumed it to be — upon the progress that he had embarked on. Noting his subtle expression, it was likely that he wasn’t doing badly so far or else one like her would realize that something was amiss. Eventually, Professor Kyungsoo settled before the musical object and resumed his initial task of kindly, although inevitably terribly, pulling the fine structure apart.
Why, surely it was such a valiant effort invested to merely shed light on a supposedly obsolete mystery that was shrouded in time. It was almost an impertinent thought, strung together by one like her. Yet again, the last thing the frosh could do was to refute that kind of statement.
It was not long, nevertheless, in which the rather peaceable mien that the professor adopted had been quick to dissolve beneath fictitious waters. Though he had once begun at a constant pace, his movements had increased most astonishingly with each passing discovery; a particular subject he decided to voice out. The man spoke with a dangerously endearing wonderment that he believed the instrument to be custom made, since it was capable of functioning so beautifully. And to that assumption, Choi Junhee would agree with alacrity. In spite of the fact that she had disallowed her own being to linger close to the work at hand, the freshman was able to descry the carvings embedded marvelously on their respective sides. The enumerating of fervent expressions fixated on the white keys were absolutely captivating, and it threatened to make her feel foolishly swooned. Now then, that was surely an indirect achievement for the one whom the female student couldn’t even place a face for.
The alumnus, despite relating his thoughts selectively, were ringing with indispensable clarity. The feeling of slight regret enveloped her for a moment or two as she noted the fate that awaited the piano afterwards, but they were shaken off as easily as they came. Now, at least they would be able to savour the delight of unmasking the riddle. Finally, the man beckoned her to take a closer look at a particular marking that was residing on the last piano key on the right. Her chocolate eyes stared for an abnormal amount of time at the queer sort of numbering that was situated there until his words broke the girl out of her disarrayed thoughts. The end product of the mental arithmetic in which the professor suddenly proposed sent her mind in a birl almost instantaneously. Her fleeting attention, first it was gifted temporarily to him before they returned to the key in the corner.
With the apostrophe that mockingly took its place before the given number, it was likely that it did denote its creation to be in that particular year. Perhaps the maker wanted it to serve as a memory, as a firm foundation to remember by when the supposed he had grown old with the implied loved one. However, if that truly was the case — it was both worrisome and perplexing as to how a personal property ended up in this university. Whatever the reason was, be it for monetary needs or anything else similar, the frosh knew what she had in mind already. “I do agree with your idea, prof,” asserted Junhee with a small smile. “Oh, and I don’t mean to be crass now but… if it’s possible, I hope that we would be able to return this private property to its original owner.” She paused, allowing her eyes to flicker in the general direction of the dismantled keys. Eventually, her hands took up an arbitrary piece that professed incomparable admiration and a quiet utter finally escaped her lips.
"… I just don’t think it’d be right if we do otherwise."
Although the professor certainly didn’t appear to be one who cared for such frivolous and abstract situations, preferring instead for the more serpentine and awfully mind boggling situations than the thought of gentle warmth and living caresses, this one intrigued him so. The acute meaning that surrounded this discovery gently touched a part of him that he rarely revealed. He felt a tinge of sadness, because its owners were not present. The magnificent instrument was not where it should be, and it made him wonder; after so many years, was this profound gift meant to be abandoned? Where did its beloved go?
An intense mystery it was, and the professor thirsted for it to find its rightful place in this material world humans call theirs. He readily agreed to his lovely companion’s gentle suggestion. It seemed only correct to do so. He touched the keys almost longingly. This reminded him so much of a person he held so close, yet so far. He suddenly felt deep affection for the aged wood on his lap. He felt that the dust collected upon this instrument represented the loneliness it must have experienced before he claimed it as his for this short time. He felt his own lingering remorse for something through the thoughts he entertained about this mystery even when he had already won the battle against it. He glanced at his exquisite companion; and his obsidian eyes remained closed off.
He felt, and he desired so, as well, that this bittersweet story shouldn’t end like his did, once upon a time. And although his tale still lived, and was prone to be reborn into something else from time to time again and again; this lovely tale of whispered confessions and unyielding affection stood no chance against the ticking clock that never paused, never stopped, without any help. He decided.
"I can imagine how delightful it must be to recover something that has been lost for so long." he commented as a sighed escaped through his lips. Then he recovered, and a smile decorated his features once again. "We simply must do it, Ms. Choi. I honestly cannot think of anything more appropriate than that."
With quick and graceful movements, Kyungsoo then hurriedly assembled the instrument once again, leaving it more or less as it was before it was dismounted. His mind reeled all the while. If it was possible to return this token back to its rightful owners, then how? They only had the year, and some sort of initials and nothing more. And he thought that there must be some sort of clue. He could inspect the rest of the piano, but something told him that he search would be fruitless. Everything they could possibly discover was carved in the keys and nowhere else.
He then let his eyes rake over the grand expanse of the unused room. It could have been a lovely room, when it was in its prime. The windows were vast and tremendous amounts of sunlight spilled forth because of it. The form of the corner on which this instrument stood and remained, was slightly elliptical; as if they stood on a tiny stage with a wave of cement looming over them.Or more like standing on the edge of a conch shell, so to speak. These types of construction were generally made to increase the overall acoustic of an instrument by ricocheting the sound outwards. Which explains why the melody he played could be heard outside the room with more intensity than when he plays in his own classroom.
For a while, he observed. And he remembered that he was in a classroom, within a university. A university of lengthy history. And with history, came archives. Archives that were probably stowed away in some office in the main building; and archives that were possibly dated the very beginning of the institution. More than enough for the time they both needed.
"I think that I have know where to start looking, Ms. Choi." Playfully, his mood brightening because the mystery was delicious and unique, Kyungsoo’s eyes shimmered with lackadaisical mirth,
"You wouldn’t mind a quick trip through history, would you?"
The latter’s voice was steadfast; but otherwise, silence made the conversing cease. The one-worded reply was tediously ambivalent - to the point where he assumed that he may have misheard his question. Another moment passed, accentuating the foreboding silence. He articulated a gulp at the sound of a muffled tapping - he had always felt a certain unease when shared words unexpectedly turned into silence (despite his failure to show it). Kyuhyun was almost in a state of assumption - that perhaps the line may have cut off, or he merely called as a joke; but the heavy breathing and continuous tapping proved to be otherwise. He heaved an inaudible sigh.
Is this how people usually are? What do I even say to him?
He heard the voice speak again, only to lapse into another pause. A smile made its way onto the man’s face once he decided to conclude his sentence with such a stimulating beckoning. His baritone ensued the tone of the latter in reply, “Very well, I’ll come and visit you right away”
To his surprise, he needn’t travel far to reach the caller; a bitter chuckle escaped him as he entered the familiar foyer of the apartment buildings. He would often come there for social reasons, either to visit Zhou Mi or to see Victoria - he knew straight away that the unidentified voice must have been associated with the campus… as were the other 95 per cent which resided in the revoltingly extravagant abode.
Difficult to fathom that his future was to manage and repair computers for money. If it were really Cho Kyuhyun, wouldn’t he still be studying with the most credible scholarship in Seoul university? Wouldn’t he have maids come and attend to his every whim? Apparently not. Jeonjin must have meant a lot to the ‘not-as-young’ student - as it was the tangible reminder of how much change can manipulate the fate of an individual… even a spoiled, much too fortunate heir.
He looked up onto the shiny ‘309’ of the man’s room. With a small sigh, he gave the ebony door a rather pathetic tap with the back of his knuckles. It was only after a minute the student heard footsteps, then finally the swoop and creak of the sturdy threshold. In reality, his clean and youthful face deceived him to be younger than Cho Kyuhyun. It wasn’t unusual for Jeonjin to have such underage, novice-quality staff members (he himself being a maths teacher at one point); alas he maintained his wary gaze. His eyes closed briefly, visualising the beautifully defined profile of the man he believed to be Do Kyungsoo.
Did the vocal coach know of him? Oh how he hoped he didn’t. Kyuhyun jest, peering through his glasses to the statuesque figure in front of him:
"You said you had something that crashed?"
It was not long ago when the professor had received an affirmative from the tenor voice that heeded is his average call. Moments after he had laid his telephone upon the wooden table in front of him, the professor had then proceeded to lean against it; analytic eyes glued to the contraption that was currently the bane of his existence. Perplexity was an understatement for the emotion the professor was currently experiencing.
A frown now marred his countenance at the peculiar situation. This damned contraption had it against him, didn’t it? If weren’t for its utility, the professor would have gladly trashed it a long time ago! But now wasn’t the time to think of pushing this mechanical helper down the nearest body of water—he was against electrocuting the wildlife that lived in it, you see. Now was the time to get it fixed. Have it fixed, finish his work, then, perhaps, he could consider this thought yet again.,
"Ah, what am I to do? Might as well not tinker with it anymore." He uttered to himself. He then walked towards his couch, and was about to sit on it, but the the subtle tapping on his door had stopped him. Hm, that was quick. Soon enough, the professor opened the door to reveal a rather young face hiding behind it. They were crisp, clean, and undeniably handsome with all their blessed features. For a moment, the professor did nothing but take in their appearance. He wondered, was this person from the telephone? Was this the one who would fix his stupid contraption? Oddly enough, the more he analyzed the male before him, the more familiar he became .
A sense of subtle wariness washed over the professor for a meager second. The feeling persisted once the confusing familiarity grew even more. His mind must be playing tricks, surely. Never in his short life had Kyungsoo seen this male before, and so the feeling was rendered almost useless and unimportant. Still, that didn’t erase the fact that he felt it, and, as always, Kyungsoo craved for a careful explanation for it.
But now wasn’t the time for such trivial work, and once he heard the same tenor voice coming from his mouth in the same way he heard it through the phone, Kyungsoo wore a patient smile. “Yes,” he had replied almost immediately.
With this, he invited the curiously handsome male in, briefly explaining him the situation of his crashing computer. “I don’t know what happened to it, exactly, but all I know is that it’s gone.” he sighed. He showed him his computer, and, finally, he silently hoped that it wouldn’t take as long as he feared it would.
(/he narrows his eyes slightly) …What do you want, Chanyeol?
The first thing the professor did was to uncharacteristically squint his eyes at the flimsy paper in his hands, baffled beyond comprehension at the text printed upon it. It was not long ago when the professor found the curiously colored lantern taped upon his door. He should have expected it, since the male had not hesitated in signing up to participate in the recently announced festival the University was holding.
He wouldn’t deny that he was a tad delighted at the idea of witnessing the sight of hundreds of sparkling lights wafting ever so slowly towards the night sky…
However, he had not planned to receive such an indirect challenge. And with a partner, no less.
"Ah," he exhaled slowly, exasperated.
As wise as the professor was… he was horrible at solving riddles.
It was not uncommon for the students who roamed the innermost parts of the Music Edifice to find themselves enjoying the melodies that were strewn throughout the atmosphere. Voices, instruments, anything capable of following simple notes. There was a large variety withing the daily cacophony of this location. It could be from a guitarist sitting in tranquility in a corner or it could be the never ending lists of songs tumbling out from a singer-in-the-making walking down the hallways.
Or, perhaps, it could be coming from a simple grand piano within the confines of a renowned classroom. Melodies crafted by none other than the infallible Professor Kyungsoo.
One would wonder what overcomes the stoic professor during his times of solitude in his classroom. In the presence of no one even when he knows that he was still being heard, still being acknowledged. The professor never minded the audience, as long as no one laid eyes on him, that is. It was a custom long ingrained by his father long ago, after years of silently watching the man give his heart and soul to the gentle embrace of white wood and airy symphonies. It was true the fact that children learn from what they see, and Kyungsoo had long since traded his childhood to become something akin to his predecessor. And alike they were, in so many ways.
Flicking hands and passionate fluttering of fingers over seemingly endless oceans of black and white was what beguiles others into thinking that the male was ruthless when it came to synthesizing harmonies. Perhaps they were right. The melodies effect depended, at most, upon the professor’s current state of mind. The more turmoil remains bottled up, the faster his tempos are. Melodies that could incite power and anger, with only slightly more powerful pushes of the keys. It could be borderline gentle, as to not maltreat his beloved instrument. Now when the wilder of this grand instrument was at peace, then its symphony would be endearing, kind. The same applied to the more jovial moments, where its harmonies were all full of mirth and euphoria.
It was his haven, his stress reliever. Today, it was a gentle, but accelerated tune that wafted from his hands. Uncharacteristically, and from cautious remarks, Kyungsoo was playing brighter tunes as of late. Even when he brought along the occasional bowl of fruit to quell his sporadic cravings. He was still a person, and there was nothing wrong with his habits. Plucking fruits in his mouth every while as he keeps going with his personal concerto.
However, so engulfed was he with his hands, that he had failed to notice that he was no longer alone, but accompanied by the person he would least expect. Oblivious he remained until at last, his ears caught a subtle noise that was definitely not produced by his piano. This made the professor stop and turn.
"Oh," he let out a belated breath, carefully disguising his slight surprise when his eyes caught the intruder, "Class starts in thirty minutes," he stated automatically, even when he had a lingering feeling that this person was not his pupil in particular. Oh well.
Hoya stood still, his eyes blinking several times at a fast rate before it gradually slows down and mouth aghast the whole time ever since this, you could say ‘chaos’ took place. Before he knew, he was the only one in the court. He then snapped out from his position, now realizing and mentally slapped himself in the face, thinking how dumb he must have seemed. He looked around and saw that everyone left, leaving him there and the perpetually ringing bell.
"Let’s get away from here." Hoya heard one of the basketball members saying to another when he saw them getting out. The aforementioned member then took a glance at Hoya, as if he was giving out the message of ‘you’ll pay’ or something before leaving the court, and also leaving Hoya to shake his head at this whole seemingly stupid thing that was happening.
"It’s not like I did it on purpose." Hoya said briefly to himself softly along with a ‘tch’ sound for he could not help but to be slightly annoyed at their attitudes and kicked an invisible pebble that was on the floor. But he knew that there was no point to it, so he headed out to find for someone to report to, be it a teacher or a professor. He knew that he would get punished at any rate. Better to own up than run away like a coward right?
But he could not find anyone. In fact, there was no one to be seen. Hoya looked around, at the same time stayed near the court so that he would know when someone comes to the source of the whole chaos and he would be here to attend to them. Still, even after a while, there was not a single human in sight. He sighed to himself, somewhat not surprised. Of course there would not be anyone anymore, considering the fact that the alarm rang and the supposed right thing to do was to get out of the building, was not it? So in a way, only Lee Howon here was not obeying the rules.
Well, he knew that he could not do anything else and decided to head back to the basketball court, figuring someone would come by anyway. It would take awhile, but it was sure to come. So Hoya opened the door again and closed it back as he waited for someone to come. After doing so, he then drew his attention back to the alarm that was now irritating him. He looked at it with squinted eyes as he walked forward to see on how to actually shut it. But he did not dare to do anything about it, so he decided to just let it be for the mean time till someone comes in.
And someone really did. The person caught Hoya by surprise as he turned around to face the-now-he-could-identify male that seemed pretty pissed according to what Hoya’s eyes told him, and he was not at all surprised by that fact. It also did not help that the male shouted at Hoya which really now caused him to jump in shock conspicuously. Professor Kyungsoo, he told himself in his heart, noting who it was. Staring at the professor, he was waiting for him to come towards him but he did not. Instead, he went to switch off the alarm.
Ah, Hoya thought to himself, half-admiring his ways. That should be done first. How very likely of a professor. His thought then went off when the male was now approaching him. Cowardly, Hoya averted his eyes from the professor at first but then brought himself to look at him. He then sighed slightly to the person’s inquiry. Well, it was true, was not it? But it was not on purpose and Hoya knew that. Still, he thought it was best to just take the blame.
"Uhh," Hoya started talking, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly, unsure of how to explain things. "Yeah, I did it but it wasn’t on purpose — I can guarantee you that fact." He then let his tensed shoulders loose as he continued on. "Though I know that doesn’t mean it’s not my fault. And I’m sorry, professor. I’ll take the blame."
"Hm." Kyungsoo made a noncommittal in sound apprehension, slowly taking in this students words and weighing them true or false. Upon closer inspection, however, the recently collected professor took notice of who exactly was this particular student:
Would it be odd if the professor found it slightly bizarre to have this student - and this student alone, take the blame for something he would normally peg on some aleatory, bored jock? Not that Kyungsoo generalized the lot, mind you. If rumors between the staff were indeed as true as they were claimed to be, then Lee Howon, “Also known as Hoya,” a colleague once clarified, was far from being the usual troublemaker. High marks, pleasant demeanor, and the lighthearted jokester. A student of example, caught red-handed with no one else in the vicinity.
Kyungsoo was no saint and had to admit than even he had pulled off a few stunts of his own in his younger years. The austere professor had experienced many transitions in his life, and developing an extreme sense of humour in the time where simply growing was the only importance was of no exception. However, never have they involved a University’s overall alumni and faculty. "If I listened correctly," murmured the professor suddenly, "then this entire ordeal was a simple accident on your part?"
Kyungsoo considered the possibility. It was probable, but the professor was far from easy to convince without the proper evidence. Speaking of which, the professor had casually glanced towards the side during that particular train of thought, and had caught sight of the circular object otherwise known as a basketball. Along the many diminutive shards of glass scattered around the floor, but no companions. Kyungsoo then assumed that the ball was involved in the ordeal and the probability of it being accident increased ten-fold. No one would purposefully throw the solid object against the aforementioned emergency indicator.
With only lingering doubt still coursing through his assumptions, the professor then calmly assessed the situation at hand. There were so many courses of action the professor could take, but only one could be chosen. He could take the culprit to the main office for detention?
No, that sounds rather childish.
The professor could appoint the student as a helper for the custodian worker, but he did not know if this was permitted or not. Neither was the sudden thought of having a helper of his own. Intimes long forgotten, some ten years or so, Kyungsoo had done a peculiar action that lead him to become a "slave" of sorts. It was only to help his previous educators with the organization of documents or simply become a messenger between the many faculty members, but this alone had taught him to correct his mischievous ways.
Coming back to situation at hand, the professor would still have to leave the premises to inform about his newest discovery. Perhaps then the students could quell their confusion and permit the faculty to take measures concerning to the time lost because of this.
"I suppose you would have repent for your mistake, Mr. Lee." murmured the professor as he returned his attention towards the student. It was a statement. "Were there others with you?" he finally inquired as he began to retrace his steps towards the exist after he waved his hand, bidding the student to follow him towards the crowds that awaited outside.
If Kyungsoo planned it correctly, then he could find himself with a pair of helping hands for his work…
And by his sneezing alone, it was enough to make her feel bad. How she wanted so badly to apologize over and over again for her thoughtless action, one that brought significant discomfort for the other. Nevertheless, such intentions weren’t executed for the meaning was likely to be lost completely in constant repetition. After all, some words had a way of deteriorating from its original definition when said countless of times. Most unfortunately, it appeared to be the main side effect of the many phrases used to express inner emotions, things that ran along words of affection and regret. It was terribly ironic too, that words of hate and malice only seemed to grow stronger and vicious with each outcry. Detestation proved to be the lethal poison of the mind too.
If such expressions ran in reverse — that would be quite the difference in a dying world like this. Oh well. The peculiarities of life and the human mind, really.
His quiet reassurance managed to frame a smile upon her countenance, something she had not expected whilst she felt guilty for his uncomfortable condition. The brunette did find it a little amusing, since he would speak in a laconic mien which would inadvertently be accompanied by supposedly unrefined sneezes. The gathered specks of dust must have really tickled his olfactory organs since his physique had conveyed such sentiments not once, but actually thrice. The alumnus mentioned that it was alright, that it was not of any trouble and that he really didn’t mind. Moments later, it looked like he was no longer bothered by the minuscule dust, and so he disallowed himself from pinching his nose in such a demeanor. The professor now had a temporal oddity, the slight redness on his visage which Junhee found to be almost endearing. Almost. It reminded her that people like the said professor were still very much human, and likable as well in spite of their apparent fronts.
Upon their return to the music room with the useful screwdriver in her hands, the man had spoken that the sneezing incident would have happened sooner or later anyway. His thoughts, they were expressed aloud for her to either acknowledge or agree in the inner parts of her mind. With the tiny tilt of his mouth which indicated his small yet evident grin, he asserted that mere dust was just a petty sacrifice when it concerned the mystery of the piano. The short pause by the doorway which accompanied his blunt, affirming statement made it feel all the more possible for the enigma to be decoded. At least, that was how she felt afterwards. The student couldn’t help but to throw a diminutive grin at the determined professor. “We’ll be ready for anything that comes hurling at us,” declared Junhee lightly, silently noting the subtle familiarity she used in her sentence. Looks like times were changing, since she applied the word we instead of something that hinted at singularity.
Later on, the company of two do enter the room once more, with him tinkering the inanimate instrument. The frosh observed it with great care and inquisitiveness, noting that the man was definitely someone who had managed such a thing before. It was rather remarkable, in a sense, because not every single individual who was able to play would capable of mending a said musical instrument as well. The twenty year old figured that it would be quite sad if this grand piano ended up biting the dust at the expense of the mystery. Was the embedded puzzle within worth the loss of the vessel itself? Only time would tell, really — and it was something they as humans could never possess. They were living beings at the mercy of many, many things that could perform thievery within milliseconds. As his deft fingers worked their way along the ivory keys with the aid of the screwdriver, her eyes could only widen when she descried something unexpected.
Following the shameless uprooting of a piano key, the truth revealed that its neighbour was the bearer of a prominent carving as well.
It was only for a few moments where the silence permeated the ambiance in comfortable commodity. Small things such as groans and tiny cracking sounds came from the archaic wood as the professor worked on the piano with diligence. Sneaking beneath the area where the key remained suspended, he loosened four screws; two from each side. Straightening himself from his position, he then stood before the grand instrument. Curiously enough, for those who held little to no knowledge of its inner workings, then the task of removing a key from its rightful place would sound simple. When, in reality, it wasn’t.
If one asked for the definition of teamwork, the young professor would’ve immediately recommended to look at a piano. Although its outer appearance instills grandeur for those who gaze upon it, a grand piano would be reduced to nothing if it misses even one diminutive piece.The piano’s key were all paced on top of a wooden plank. It had to be sturdy, resilient, for it held not only the keys, but the many strings and the tiny hammers that produced the sound. By itself, it was the actual contraption - a system of sorts, that was to be considered the heart of the piano. The keys were no simple pieces of white wood. In fact, they were only a part of a very long piece of wood that ran until about half of the inner body of this grand instrument. It was highly complex, and he would gladly spare his companion the interminable ruckus of words that would be his explanation.
Sitting before the aforementioned musical object, Kyungsoo then carefully gripped the sides of the wooden board, pulling it outwards to reveal the contraption, and with certain ease, he loosened the key neighboring the space that its missing sister left behind. And to his infrequent delight, there was yet another carving hidden beside the white. He then removed another, and then another, and another. The messages simply kept coming. Words of adoration, of love, and of care were all carved beautifully on the wood. "It must have been custom made," he voiced in wonder, "It’s the only logical explanation I can think of, since the piano was in functioning condition."
The keys were never removed before. The carvings were simply made before the piano was created. And the simple thought that someone would gift their loved one - as he concluded by the romantic vocabulary - filled the aloof male with an inexplicable feeling of warmth. Although it was a pity that it would never be able to conjure a melody again, the professor could always restore its appearance, and leave the piano with its whispered secrets in peace.
But not before he finds the creator of this entire ordeal.
Looking ever so closely, “Miss Choi, come closer for a moment,” he called as he eyes a particular carving on the last key to the right:
" ‘50 "
Kyungsoo’s mind reeled, instantly composing an equation in his mind, "Are my eyes mistaken, Miss Choi" the professor furrowed his brows, "or is this instrument truly dated to 63 years ago?"