Guardian angel

Flesh N Blood
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  Donghae lost track of time in the same library seat, he watched miserably as the hours ticked by. Six hours later would be his first licensing exam, consisting of 240 MCQs,  testing him of professional knowledge from medical ethics, to obstetrics and gynecology.


  Should I just give up? This thought visited his dazed mind, I am a total incapacity for medicine. Who am I, thinking that I can bear the weight of this white coat?


  It was 2 am. At this time, the copying machines took a rest, with no students buzzing around like he was near a hive of bees. Librarians dozing off on their chairs. Until the last screeches of chairs scraping against the floor, even snoring was absent. Donghae was one of the last students here.

  Being inside the studious mass of elites, its cut-throat competition between students was pitiless. Everybody could go to all lengths for their GPAs and excellent profiles, sacrificing youth and at many times, Donghae imagined himself inside a barrack instead of a medical school. He was under so much pressure these months.


  This is too painful...


 Donghae's ears buzzed of days of paper-turning sounds, his aching head swimming in muggy medical jargons.


  I feel so ashamed being called a medical student... Me, a future doctor? 



  Donghae couldn't digest any of the sea-like information down, in no way he could remember thousands of slides all in a night's time.  



  At some point, I used to wish I would disappear from this world.  Donghae felt his hand jerked and twitched unconsciously on the table, set off in great trepidation, Will I feel better if I just disappeared?



  Decided to go for water, Donghae was lightheaded and even bumped into several chairs and tables. His vision went fuzzy and black for a few seconds before his wobbly legs gave in-





  Hyukjae was returning a textbook back on the bookshelf before somebody knocked a chair over nearby. Furrowed in confusion, Hyukjae watched the boy stumped, his convulsive body having difficulty picking up his fallen bottle on the ground. Is he having a seizure? 


  "Sorry- I don't know what's happening to me too..." Even Donghae's voice was spasming in terror.


  -Before Donghae knew it, his falling body was clinched in the other's arms, pressed to his chest, arms pinned to his sides, feet dangling. The other's hold was so tight. 



  ...The last thing Donghae saw before the darkness consumed him completely was his wide-eyed, grave face.

  That person looked like a saving grace to Donghae. 






  Hyukjae cradled the younger's head on his shoulder. Hyukjae froze, he’d never held someone up close like this. But then, he’d never exposed his tenderness before. 

   As Donghae moved, his soft hair swept across Hyukjae's collarbones, feeling slightly itchy.

  Hyukjae brought the younger straight to the school infirmary but nobody was in sight at this hour. Hyukjae had laid the younger on the bed but immediately he could feel the other's shivering, convulsing fingers pressing into the right side of his neck, the other side a feeble tug of his arm. 


  "Do you have an epileptic history?" probed Hyukjae as he briskly dragged an electroencephalogram to the bedside, luckily he had learned how to use it a while ago.

  Hyukjae quickly attached sixteen electrodes to the younger's scalp and began to monitor intently the brainwaves, now appearing frantic spikes and sharp waves. He didn't care whether a student was permitted to use it. 

  Donghae's head pounded, his words shattered, "...just since last month." 


  "Your licensing exam coming?" Hyukjae guessed from the dark circles on the other's pallid dainty face. 

  Donghae felt both icy cold and hot at the same time, and almost like he could feel it rushing in his veins up towards his brain. He couldn't recognize who the other is in this state, "...Yes, it is just six hours later. I...I can't lie here, I need to study!" 


  Exam anxiety then. Hyukjae studied the brainwaves before peeling the electrodes off from the younger's head, "Likely non-epileptic attack disorder." 

  NEAD was characterized by episodic disturbances of normal function and control that superficially resemble epileptic attacks but are not caused by epileptic activity in the brain and are thought to have a psychological basis, possibly triggered by mental pain and depression.


  "I will find a staff to arrange antiepileptic drug therapy and a referral letter to a psychologist," concluded Hyukjae decidedly as he rose from the chair.


  But his fingers were clutched by a trembling hand. 


  "...Please, listen to me-" 

  Hyukjae heard him sobbing in wrenching like a child.

 The younger pulled him back closer. At a split second, a tender expression crossed Hyukjae's usual stony face. An expression others had never seen on him. 



  ...Because you look at me like that.  

  There was something in the younger's watery hazel eyes, not only the comforting browns of the boughs yet also the green of springtime buds. Despite they were obscured behind the large spectacles.

  Have I met you somewhere before?

  All Hyukjae could hear was the pounding of his own heart.


  "...I am not ready to give up yet…please don’t kick me out…” mumbled Donghae with a blank expression, his neck gave a sudden jerk under seizure, and begged in despair, “I have not even set my foot into the hospital area…I really want to be a doctor-” he must have mistaken Hyukjae as his invigilator. 


  With the boy's fragileness, Hyukjae sat back down beside the other. His hand pillowed the younger's trembling head, another securing the other's arm, preventing him from collapsing to the ground. 

 I must have gone mad to think of staying with him through these six hours.


  "How much time is left? I need my textbooks, the lecture slides...where are they?" asked Donghae hastily, still terrified with his situation, "I can't fail this means the world to me! I should have carried them with me..."

  Obviously, still in impaired awareness, Donghae stared deadpanned into Hyukjae's hand and instead of looking for his study materials, he began repeating his mumbles. Continued to rub his hands nervously.


   Alarmed by its severity, Hyukjae leaned over to lay the other down. He learned in psychiatry that non-epileptic attacks happen when the brain couldn't handle particular thoughts, emotions, or sensations.


  "I shall test you on it," suggested Hyukjae quietly, gazing into the other's doe-like eyes behind those bulky glasses.


  "Medications for schizophrenia. Chlorpromazine or celecoxib?" quizzed Hyukjae.

  "...chlorpromazine?" answered Donghae weakly, his lashes trembling.

  Hyukjae nodded, and he began shooting random questions by memory at the other. Concentration upon his questions eliminated unnecessary brain activities. 

  At first, Donghae could respond after some time, but Donghae's eyes gradually grew heavy under the other's soothing baritone narration of exam tips, for which, exhausting all of his energy...


  Babied the other to a peaceful sleep, Hyukjae would not admit that he had sat reading the other's ravishing face for some hours.  


    I still didn't understand what retained me that night.


Hyukjae wrote a note for the staff, adjusted the alarm clock at seven-thirty and carefully he detached from the other. 


  Maybe it was regret that I didn't hear your name.







  Hyukjae was halfway through dissecting out self-closing ductus arteriosus tissues as he felt the pain shooting up his back and across his shoulders like fire. He almost cringed under it.

  What happened? Hyukjae clenched his teeth as he overlooked the cooling performed by the bypass machine.

 This wrong sensation exploded in his head with blinding whiteness. Hyukjae had to contain his convulsion as he set about closing the hole in the heart, "Dacron fabric." 

  Even his hands trembled in the throes. 

  This is not right. Hyukjae took a deeper breath before sewing the patch inside a thimble, carefully connecting the two ends of an interrupted aorta. 


  Donghae, being very observant, caught Hyukjae rolling his shoulder subconsciously, trying to work out the aching stiffness.

  "...You alright?" whispered Donghae worriedly when he pulled the distal end of the aorta forward into view. 

  Hyukjae dropped the needle awkwardly with a twitching left hand on the tray.

  My hands neve

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