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Play Pretend, Till it Ends

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“Hyuck, we’re going to eat at that Chinese place Chenle has been going crazy about, you coming?” Mark hovers next to the light brown-haired vocalist on the floor. NCT Dream had finally wrapped up their practice for the day and everyone is possessed by hunger at this rate.

“Go ahead first, I’ll catch up in a jiff” he mumbled with an exaggerated look of exhaustion, Mark chuckled at him. “Okay, but if you’re late the food will be all gone!” and off the boy runs, leaving Donghyuck alone in the now silent practice room.

“I’m fine…...I’m totally fine…...tired…just tired…” he chants to no one in particular, the male squeezed his eyes and covered his face with the palm of his hands. Cold tears drip down his cheeks, and faint muffled sobs echoes around him.

He’s so freaking tired, the way he had needed to put up that stupid image he has as an idol to his fans and his own bandmates debilitated all his energy, physically and mentally. All the pent-up frustration, sadness, insecurities, fears, all of it came down crashing on him in one fall swoosh. It was his duty to put smiles on other’s faces, even if it meant tearing apart his own happiness.

All the while he joked, sassed and laugh, beneath it all was someone desperately crying for help. No one knew who Lee Donghyuck was, they only knew his parallel self, Haechan. Haechan, Donghyuck thinks of, is the perfect version of himself.

The one who’s never sad, the one who brings sunshine to rainy days, the one who would bite back at any insult thrown at him, the one everyone loves. Not Donghyuck, Donghyuck is a coward, he breaks easily and any insult would slice him to bits, Donghyuck wouldn’t know how to brighten up people’s days, how could he when he couldn’t do that for himself.

Donghyuck is insecure about everything, the imperfections on his skin, the way his body looked in the mirror, the way he looked stupid trying to dance in sync with others who were far more flawless. Donghyuck hurts himself, he starves and sometime purged or cuts. He’s far from what Haechan was.

Haechan was the perfect illusion of perfection that Donghyuck wished he could be.

Donghyuck cries and sobs, no one, no one knows, and he’s all alone. He thought, when he came to train, he’d been a child with hopes and dreams to happily sing and perform on stage, enjoying the feeling of being the reason behind thousands of smiles. But little Donghyuck learnt the world wasn’t created to turn it’s clogs that way.

Everything shattered, rough training, how his confidence and self-esteem crumbled, the nights fearing he’ll be kicked out of the trainees and crying to sleep, seeing people come and go that comes with continuous hellos and goodbyes. If someone ever told him he had it easy, he was going to laugh hysterically and scream in their faces.

But through every bitter moment, there was no one to hold his hand, no one to tell him things will get better. Because of that, an almost indestructible wall was built around him. He couldn’t and wouldn’t let anyone in no more, too scared, too terrified of judgement, hate, and the all too terrifying confrontation and talks he’ll be forced in.

So, when he’s in public and camera’s eyes, he’s Haechan

When he’s with his members, he’s Haechan

But when he’s alone, pitiful self wrapped by silence. He’s the pathetic Lee Donghyuck

Donghyuck moves his arm to cover his mouth, his teeth biting down on flesh. The pain brought him instant relief, it was so easy to just hurt himself and let the pain take away all the ache. After an agonizing 10 minutes, he lets both arms fall to his sides.

The clock shows 2:30p.m and if he doesn’t move now, they’re going to come and find him. He dragged himself up to stand, wipe away any trace of crying from his face. He makes his way to the bathroom, washes the bite marks scattered on his arms.

How sickening of him, to anyone it was a horrid sight but to Donghyuck it was a pretty constellation on his arms. Pulling down his sleeves, he stares into the mirror. “Be the liar you know you are” he mumbled to himself.

He forced out a smile

“Time to be Haechan”

 

_

Haechan hits Mark, a hand covering his mouth to stifle laughter after the elder had told the interviewer some lame joke. The rest of NCT 127 laughed along, Haechan made sure to sound as natural as possible, faking laughter was something he had practiced over time. Smiling and looking ‘fine’ was one thing, but laughter was so much harder to fake.

Now, it’s not that he needs to do it all the time. Mostly the jokes were funny enough to get him to actually laugh, but that day in particular he feels too numb inside to react genuinely to any humours thrown. His face bears a listening facial, paying attention to each person talking, but his mind runs wild.

It thinks of that one time his voice cracked on stage, how ne needed more practice, how he nearly tripped his hyung one time live all because he wasn’t focusing. “And then there’s this...” and there goes the other jokester.

Haechan inhale and lets out his artificial laughter, he was lucky that his laugh always sounded a bit awkward and was easy to imitate, there’s that really short half a second pause between each syllable. “he he he he” and sometimes he adds the pitch to be higher to sound more convincing or throws himself back.

No one can ever tell his real laugh and his fake one

“Haechannie, hyungs going to see a movie. Spiderman: The Homecoming, is it? I heard it’s funny” Dooyoung calls out to him one day. The elder surprised to find said boy, bandana on his head, sweats, sneakers on and a bag slings over his shoulders. “Oh, Sorry hyung. Gotta practice, but thanks for the offer” He sheepishly smiled at his hyung.

“What?! But we just finished practice like….an hour ago? And isn’t Dream’s practice being until way later?” he was really looking forward to spend some time with the unit’s maknae. “Yeah, I just thought of going ahead. There’s a reason I always learn the choreographies faster” he says, adding a cheeky grin hoping Dooyoung would just buy it and leave him be.

“Why you! But I already got us tickets sooo you can’t refuse Haechannie! Go changed and meet us in the van downstairs in 15 minutes! Hyung’s waiting!!” Before the other could protest, the other hyung had already run off. But Donghyuck wasn’t annoyed or mad, he was fear stricken if anything.

A 10-minute interview is nothing but to pretend for a whole 2-hour movie, on top of it in a cinema where he couldn’t just leave and stay as he likes as how he did at the dorms. The thought itself made him shuddered, he could tell he’s going to have fatigue smeared all over his face by the time the movie is over.

He cursed at himself, out of all days, it just happened to land on that one day he feels too empty to feel anything let alone give reactions throughout a movie.

He had planned to use these last ounces of his energy to practice NCT Dream ‘Go’ choreography and maybe a song or two from NCT 127 but that won’t happen now. He puts down his bag, which only had his phone, iPod and two bottles of water also his lyrics and choreography note book.

Changing into some sweater and jeans, he applied makeup because he needs to look ‘alive’ somehow, plus he’s convinced that him without makeup could make Medusa looked like Cinderella. He jogged downstairs after shoving his phone inside his pocket and grabs a facemask.

Mark was waiting at the door along with Jungwoo, Taeil and Johnny. The first thing he noticed was Mark getting ready to tackle him, but he was late to react. The others were laughing, even Mark and his ridiculous loud hiccup-like laugh while still pining the youngest of the unit to the floor. Donghyuck was stunned, but he really just isn’t feeling it today.

“Donghyuck you okay? I didn’t hurt you or anything right?” Mark quickly got up, pulling the other up with him. “What? No, why?” Donghyuck could feel the panic rising from within, what? What could’ve given him away even for just a second?

“You weren’t laughing”

Oh, shit. He forgot he was supposed to laugh in that sort of situation. “Ah nothing, I’m just a bit tired from practice just now” please, please for the sake of his mentality, don’t pester anymore. The car honk from outside signalled it was time for them to go.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m fine Mark, Just tired really”

No, I’m NOT fine. I’m ANYTHING but fine.,

“Let’s go, or we’re gonna miss a good free movie!!”

 *laughs* I can’t feel anything, it’s so empty

“Yah!! You brat!! Is that how you thank your hyung!? Haechannie, you’re lucky I love you!!”

*laughs* Do you though? I’m so meaningless….so tired

“Hyung, quit yapping and go already!!” “Wow you impatient brat!! Haechan we might call you that now!”

*laughs* …. help me…please

 

_

Donghyuck feels the pit of his stomach churn when Taeyong announced they’re going to a restaurant, it was a rare free night and for once he feels like they could take a break from his cooking (Not that it’ll be any different since the hyung’s cooking if anything is far better than whatever any 5-star restaurant has to offer) He can’t help but think of the weight he’ll gain.

Sometimes, he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s hard to swallow down anything when you feel like shit, eating only gave him nausea and all he could feel doing next was getting it all back out right after. Donghyuck however was good in hiding, he was so subtle that no one ever really noticed.

They never noticed him eating only a quarter of what they had

They never noticed his quick trips to the bathroom after meals sometimes

They never noticed he lost weight even though he was there eating with them

Other times, he couldn’t bring himself to eat, treating it as a form of self harm. Letting the hunger claw at him, and using that horrible image he sees in the mirror that reflects himself to fuel this feeling. Donghyuck knows he can be an idiot, but even he knows (and because numbers don’t lie) that he’s clear as the day’s skies that he’s underweight.

But hadn’t he always been an idiot who believed in blatant lies?

How did the leader ever managed to manhandle all 18 of them into one restaurant room peacefully, the young vocalist may never know. It was utter chaos, the Us wilding, Dreamies screeching and shouting with the exception of Jisung who’s only regretting life choices and his own 127 hyungs who are either laughing loudly at stupid jokes thrown around or being awkwardly quiet, no in between.

Taeyong at this point gave up trying to shut them up, it was clearly impossible with Lucas in present with Jungwoo. He sat in between Chenle and Jaemin, mind just looking around. Hoping no one notices his silence, “Haechannie~!” But Lee Donghyuck can only dream.

Renjun had squish him in a hug, dragging a willing Jaemin into it to. “You’re always hanging out with hyungs! I thought we’re a squad” The oldest of the 2000 liner pouted. “Who even uses ‘squad’ these days? What did Kun hyung did to you” he says, “I HEARD THAT” the eldest Chinese exclaims.

“Ah Hyuck, you should come by the Dreams dorms more often” Jaemin intruded, “I’m just tired you know? But I’ll try dropping in once in a while for you hoes, maybe after pissing one of the hyungs first” putting on his famous evil face. The waitresses and waiters came flooding in with their pile of food, it’s convenient when the restaurant has separate rooms.

Donghyuck eyes the spicy kimchi ramyeon that was placed in front of him, he wanted to choose something with less calories like a salad or something but that’s not the Haechan everyone knows, he needs to be Haechan, but it sucks because the dish felt like it was glaring at him.

“Hyung, are you trying to levitate the noodles into your mouth or something?” Chenle asks, laughing as he does. Had he been staring too long? He quickly covers up by putting the chopsticks to his head and make weird whirling sounds. This cause Chenle to burst into his dolphin pitch laugh, even Jisung nearly choked on his food.

The rest of dream turns away trying to keep their food in their mouths as they stifle their laughter.

“Donghyuck! No playing around with food, and you’re gonna caused the others to make a mess” Taeyong calls out to them, he playfully scolds him, maybe his eyes were playing tricks but he was sure he saw something flashed in Donghyuck’s eyes, something unfamiliar.

Fear

He missed the panicky way Donghyuck stopped and turn silent for a moment, before the boy goes back to being Haechan. An amused smile and rolling eyes “Sorry, hyung” he said in a sing song way but it felt off, like there was something in the younger’s voice that he couldn’t quite figure out.

I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to

Dreamies were too busy recovering from nearly choking on their food, the rest are just too focused on eating but Taeyong saw. He saw how Haechan’s movements were stiff, how he looked at his food reluctantly, how there seems to be something bothering him.

‘Probably nothing’ he thought, it’s his first time seeing him acted that way, so he just assumed then younger is going through a phase. Little did he know, the him of a few months in the future regretted ever ignoring those slipups, that future him wished he had suspected something, then maybe they could’ve prevented what had happened.

They return to their dorms a while later, Donghyuck could somehow tell he might be questioned so without wasting a second he grabs some stuff, waves a ‘I’m going to the Dreams Dorm’ to the hyungs and left. His throat ached, he could almost still taste the acid from vomiting just now.

At the Dreams dorm they welcomed him with a cuddle pile, him being at the very bottom. “Let’s all sleep in the living room just this once!” Jaemin suggested, and no one (maybe Jisung did but Chenle did some coaxing) was going to say no to that. Soon their living room is a mess of blankets and pillows because Jeno thought it’ll be fun to build a pillow fort.

“All this and you didn’t invite me?!” Mark stood at the entrance, he too had longed to be with Dream. “You’re here now aren’t you?” Chenle says and throws a pillow at him, “No pillow fights!! I’m not building this fort again for the tenth time!” Renjun shouts at them.

The seven settle down and buried themselves in the white, blue and grey sheets, fluffy pillows and assorted plushies and stuff animals. Donghyuck watches as Chenle and Jisung cuddled together, Norenmin in their own tangled position and Mark who’s passed out on one side.

A tear slides down his face, I don’t deserve this, I shouldn’t be here…. I’m not supposed to be a part of this but a choked sob escaped his lips. It woke the two youngest, “Hyung? Donghyuck hyung…. are you crying?”

He could feel them laying down by his side, their arms embracing him. Jisung’s head rested on his back and Chenle’s head buried in his chest. “Hyung what’s wrong...?” Jisung’s gentle voice asks, “Thank you…….t-thank you so much…. I just feel s-so……happy to have you g-guys here…” he tried to form the sentence as simple as he could so that Chenle could easily understand despite his stuttering and cries.

“It’s okay hyung, we’re all here” Chenle’s sweet voice lulled, it gave him reassurance. Maybe just this once, he doesn’t need to be Haechan for them, just this once, he could just be Donghyuck and put down the heavy mask for a short while. 

He had never slept so peacefully in months if not years, just one night without voices screaming in his head, one night without feeling guilty to feel happiness or have that itch to self-harm bug him. He wishes that moment lasted forever, but Lee Donghyuck doesn’t get his way. 

 

_

Taeyong woke up and shut off his alarm, mind still fuzzy and sleepy, he went room by room waking up his boys, but when he came to the two youngest room and realized no one is there. He went frantic, instead of knocking, he bust open other rooms scanning and searching. “UGH Taeyong STOP!! They’re probably withy the Dreams!” Yuta shouted at the leader.

Oh, he now remembered Haechan telling him about staying with Dream but definitely not Mark. Still, it couldn’t hurt to check? He put on decent clothes and makes a short trip to the U’s dorm to wake Kun first, pulling the Chinese with him to the Dream dorms.

“Why am I dragged?” Kun asks, yawning as he did. “Because you’re the other parent in this group and we need to make sure the children are not kidnapped or anything” Kun looks at Taeyong, trying to process his words. “Fair enough”

They creak open the door, Taeyong frown seeing a pillow on the door step. “These kids-Oh, OH-” he quickly covered his own mouth from letting any sound escape. Kun had stepped out just so he could shake off the giddiness from seeing the sight.

There’s blankets hung everywhere and pillows galore with plushies, but the cutest sight is inside the pillow fort. Mark somehow is sleeping with a huge blue bear cuddle close, Norenmin all tangled with each other near where Mark was and on the other side was Haechan sandwiched in between two maknaes.

It was so adorable, because Jisung doesn’t usually initiate skinship but there he is with one arm as Haechan’s pillow and the other over Haechan’s waist and Chenle just looked like a koala clinging to the other vocalist. Taeyong didn’t even want to disturb them but they do have a schedule, he proceed to wake them up starting with the three, but not until he took a few pics of course. 

“Dreamies~” He cooed, pulling Renjun apart, he boy’s leg had crossed with Jaemin’s and his hands were in Jeno’s firm grip. “How do they sleep like that?” Kun asks, trying to shake Jaemin out. “Wha-hyung?” Renjun mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

“Get up you sleepyheads, we don’t have all day” the leader of 17 says, shaking Mark. Kun walks over to the other trio. “Chenle….” He tried prying Chenle’s hands off Donghyuck but the smaller Chinese just wouldn’t let go.

“Haechan hyung…. don’t cry…...it’s okay…...we’re here” the boy mumbled in his native tongue, Kun was taken back by this. Haechan cried? Did something happen? He quickly grew worried, Haechan’s face twisted, “Please….no….” he muttered.

“Um Taeyong?”

Taeyong was there in seconds, he too grew worried. This was new, he hadn’t thought something was bothering the younger. Almost by sense, Jisung move his arms, tightening his grip on the elder. “Guys…...wake up” he gently shakes Haechan, “Hu-huh? H-hyung?” the boy wakes up causing the other two to stir awake too.

“Oh, morning Kun ge, Taeyong hyung” Chenle chirp, a yawn escaping his lips right after. “Haechan you were mumbling a lot in your sleep…...is everything alright?” Haechan panics, a million thoughts and scenarios ran in his head.

His whole world spinning, why? How? What was he supposed to say? Jisung takes his hand, giving it a squeeze. “Hyung had a nightmare, we help him. That’s all”

Donghyuck could never been happier with Jisung, his mind is racing too fast to come up with a decent lie. Relief wash through both hyungs, “Is that it? Okay then, but if there’s anything at all, you know you can talk to us, right?” Kun says to the vocalist.

“I know”

 _

He drops the already dripping with red silver into the sink, after escaping into the bathroom, everything crashes down on him with full force Oh my god how could I’ve been so reckless?!? What if they find out? I can’t let them know, they can’t know this!! The thought of them hating him, calling him an idiot, they probably would kick him out of NCT if they knew just how fucked up and brokenly pathetic he is.

Idiot idiot IDIOT!! Can you not screw up for once?!?! You’re such a good for nothing!! Stop being such a damn anchor, you think you’re worthy of them?!? You think you deserve them?! Don’t fucking forget glitch, you don’t deserve shit Lee Donghyuck! You’re nothing, NOTHING 

He wanted them to stop, but wasn’t that his own voice? The walls feel like they’re closing in on him, the urge to hurt himself and take away the pain was unbearable. With a mind of their own, his hands search for the innocent looking box of matches hidden well under the sink drawers. He pulls open the lid, multiple shapes and sizes of thin silver blades.

His hand shakily grabs one, another tossing off his shirt and shorts. Without even an ounce of hesitation he drew 6 long lines across his thighs, and simply slash his abdomen as if he’s playing a cello.

He knew better than to do anything to his arms, it was harder to cover up there but Donghyuck was sure he wasn’t even thinking straight any more, all he could think of is the pleasure that’s washing away all the pain.

Once he’s aware of what’s happening, he cries harder. The bleeding cuts that paralleled like barcodes on his skin started to sting.

What had he done? This is so stupid, so freaking pathetic. He eyes the mess of drawings he made, he can’t help but think, they looked so beautiful. They’re meant to be made there, he’s meant to be suffering. So that’s long sleeves for another 3 months or so 

I just wanna die already

_

Donghyuck pants, his laboured breathing echoes in his ear, if Johnny didn’t suggest the five minutes break he’s sure that he’s going to black out. After a 3 hours direct practice with Dream, he’s now continuing another 4 or maybe 5 hours with 127 with only minutes to breathe in between. He sat against the mirror, sweat dripping down his face like shower droplets.

He could see Mark laid on the floor, limbs exhausted and whole body worn out but a satisfied smile plastered on his face. Donghyuck feels ashamed when he thought of how he thinks it was too hard for him to practice for two units when Mark is juggling all three, all the while still enjoying what he does.  

Weak, you’re so damn weak

“Guys, I think that’s enough for today….” Taeyong announced, he knew if he worked Mark any further, there’ll be consequences and it’s useless for the rest of them to practice without someone with a lot of important parts. Donghyuck however had other ideas, Dooyoung grab his bag and was ready to leave but Haechan wasn’t following them. “Hyuckie?”

“Yes hyung?” the youngest of them is setting the music, “Are you still going to stay?” He didn’t understand, the vocalist didn’t need to, he’s perfectly polish and sharp with their ‘Touch’ choreography already. “Yeah, I’ll be back in a bit. Just need to perfect some moves” What is he talking about? Dooyoung was sure Haechan could dance the routine flawlessly in his sleep.

“For real? You did amazing, by amazing I mean really AMAZING! 0 mistakes! You should just chill, you know, get some rest…” but Haechan just laughs, “Yeah sure hyung, but I really just want to go through it a few more times. I’ll rest right after”

“Promise?”

“Promised” Donghyuck you’re such a big fat liar

Dooyoung left him there alone at 2:45p.m, but the clock shows 5:49 and he’s still there covered in his disgusting sweat. Going through the choreography for the 45th? Or was it 56th time? He had no idea but one thing for sure, he couldn’t feel his legs or arms and he really just wants to close his eyes. He hadn’t drunk anything over the past 16 hours and consciousness is failing him.

-gateun gonggan soge itneun geotman gata juwil dulleobomyeon modeun ge da neoya it’s true

*Thud*

His body gave away and slam to the floor, the music rolls on.

“Hyung, you missed lu-Oh god! Lele, help me!”

The two youngest of the group noticed the absence of their unit’s main vocalist during lunch, being such caring Dongsengs they are. They decided to bring food to the elder, but never they thought that they’ll see the day their hyung laid on the floor, unconscious.

Jisung pulls Haechan body so that the vocalist’s head is resting on his lap, on instinct his hand reach to find a pulse on Haechan’s neck.

Dub dub dub dub dub……

He didn’t even realize he stopped breathing until he was sure that his hyung was alive. It scared the life out of him, to see his hyung motionless on the floor, it all looked all too horridly familiar.   

“Jisung? Jisung, calm down…. it’s okay…he’s okay!” Chenle ushered the younger, “huh?” then he realized it, Chenle was holding the palm of his hands, he was shaking, crying, panicking. It only dawned on him that he was crying when he felt a single cold tear trailing down his cheeks.

“Ugh…” Donghyuck stirs but suddenly jolt awake. He stared wide eye at the two maknaes, this is bad, but before any further thoughts could be processed. Jisung throws himself at him, full out sobbing as he does.

“You’re okay! Hyung’s okay! You’re okay…...you’re here…...alive…..hyung….” he was rambling and still shaking.

Chenle couldn’t say which he was more worried of, the fact they found their hyung blacked out in the practice room or Jisung’s very overreacting and concerning reaction towards it. Alive that was one of the things he caught Jisung saying, baffled, did Jisung really thought Haechan was dead?

Whatever could’ve made him think like that? Chenle wasn’t sure he’s ready to know.

“I-I’m gonna call Tae-” he was taken back by Haechan’s sudden outburst.

“NO!! I’m fine, I really am. Just got carried away for a moment, I swear. This is the first time this ever happened, just don’t tell him or anyone”

“But hyung, you fainted! If me and Ji-”

“Taeyong’s already got so much on his mind and so are the other hyungs, I really don’t want them to fuss over me as an extra load over a one-time thing. Le, trust me on this” he begged, throwing out all his best lies, about them being busy of course wasn’t exactly a lie.

“Fine” by now Jisung was calmed down.

“Ji, what was that?” Chenle asks the taller boy, who’s still sitting on the floor. “Seriously Jisung, I thought you’re going through a panic attack!” the eldest of the three says, pulling the maknae into a hug. “It’s r-really nothing, it …. r-reminded me o-of something from y-years ago…that’s all…” and said something was something he wished to forget so badly, but could never.

It reminded him of the time during trainee days, he pays his best friend a visit after so long…….

Only to find a body lying on the floor of the bedroom just as Haechan was, well in his case there was a lot of blood, a bloody knife and a farewell letter involved.

He knew he had seen and known too much at only the age of 12. How can someone even forget something like that anyway?

 

_

Jisung can’t help but be more observant of his hyung, trying to find signs or anything off. Jisung, being the youngest of 18 members at the age of 16 knew his older members are trying to keep him away from finding out lots of things.

They thought they did a good job of hiding, honestly Jisung thinks so too but he’s way better at finding out.

It annoys him, how they wouldn’t let him in, they wouldn’t let him help them. They have good intentions, they wanted to protect him and only let him see the happy things. But that really doesn’t mean he didn’t want to help whenever Renjun has panic attacks or Mark with his Insomnia. Or that he doesn’t know Kun developed an eating disorder or Jungwoo’s anxiety.

They could hide all they want, but he’ll still notice.

“Hyung, is Renjun hyung-” But Jeno would tell Chenle to take him away from the sight of Renjun looking like he couldn’t breathe while in tears.

 “Jisungie hyung isn’t feeling too well…. but hyung is okay really! Just unwell?” He hates seeing that look on Jungwoo hyung’s face, he hates even more when he’s pushed away.

 “Jisung, what are-” but he saw it, sleeping pills. “Hyung…...do you have a hard time sleeping?” but Mark laughs it off nervously. “Ahh it’s no biggie, hyung’s fine”

“Jisung…...hyung’s sorry but please go out, you can’t …. see this” He would tell Chenle, but never him.

There’re always pushing him away, not letting him help them. He wants to help them, they’re a team, a family, he wanted to just scream about it. They think by knowing, it’ll scare him, make him worry more than he needs (He had to admit that the point was proven that day with Haechan passed out and him freaking out, but that’s different).

From what he has seen going on within 18 of them, nothing he noticed was worse than what he had known.

You see, Jisung isn’t like any other 16-year olds, Jisung knows stuff. He learnt things that kids his age aren’t supposed to know, that’s why ever since when he found Haechan passed out in their practice room, he chose to observe his hyung.

At first, he couldn’t catch anything. Nothing looks wrong, Haechan is Haechan. He was about to just close off his thoughts when he actually spots something. Something he didn’t realized was there in the beginning, and he for once was actually scared. Because said something was something he’s familiar with, too familiar with.

Lee Donghyuck’s eyes, they resembled a pair of eyes that belonged to two people he knew.

lifeless     lying       tired       Dead        emptiness

It was when they were watching something together, and Donghyuck was saying something to him was when he notices had those eyes ever looked alive? On camera or stage, they always do, but now just them being themselves, he couldn’t find a time where he looks into those eyes and sees life.

From there, he noticed more signs. They were subtler than he imagined, bathroom after meals, quiet when he thinks no one is watching him, and his smile, never had he ever thought he’ll see their sun’s smile that looked anything but real. How he has a cycle when it comes to clothing, never changes around them and would give slightly late reactions.

How? why did he-No, why did anyone not notice this sooner?

The very base of thought that Haechan has……it made him shiver, he’s been in that place and had a fair share of experience. When Jisung stated he knows stuff, he means it.

He knows what’s it like to see someone you love hurting, he knows what a 14-year-old boy looks like, his arms silted open too big and too deep with blood endlessly gushing out.

Even at 12 years of age,

He knows how it feels to hold your best friend dead corpse, their blood soaking your clothes, you wishing you could’ve prevented it because you knew they took away their own life.

He knew what kind of helplessness that comes with not being able to get rid of that pain.

He knew what’s it like to save someone close from ending their lives.

And most importantly, Jisung knows perfectly how it feels to be in their hell as well.

Jisung knows a lot when it comes to Depression, which is why he noticed

Donghyuck’s in that hell too.

 

_

During Jisung’s trainee days, he had a best friend who encouraged his dream, Choi Minhwang. Before entering SM, although bear a 2 years age gap they were inseparable. Always hanging out together and causing mischief, two peas in a pot.

But once Jisung started training, it was hard for him to find free time, and he treasured every given time he has then to spend with Minhwang.

Minhwang is that amazing friend he felt like he didn’t deserve, all the times they would sometimes meet up and he would cry out all his frustration to the elder boy, Minhwang would give him treats and cheer him up.

But Jisung was too naïve to notice the changes in his best friend, no more short sleeves, darkening eyebags, fatigue movements.

Until one day he receives a message that he couldn’t quite understand.

“I’m sorry, hyung is so sorry Sungie. Forgive me for doing this”

He remembered staring at his phone in confusion, maybe something upset him? So, after begging and pleading, he was allowed off the afternoon to visit him.

Unaware of what’s waiting

He remembered greeting Mrs Choi cheerfully, and running upstairs. Knock knock…but Minhwang didn’t opened the door for him. “Hyung?”

He remembered pushing open the door himself, with a big smile. Only to find the most horrid sight in his life right in front of him. “H-h-hyu-hyung?” he stuttered, dropping the compliment feedback letter he got from the trainers in a recent evaluation.

He remembered seeing pools of blood on the floor, the foul smell overcoming his senses, his hyung’s body sat against the bedframe lifelessly like a ragdoll with arms bleeding out crimson like a waterfall. A knife covered in red and no longer silver is in the palms of his hand.

He remembered running, crying, shouting, begging for him to open his eyes and wake up. But he never did.

He remembered Mrs Choi’s scream, how she had pull her dead son in her arms while Mr Choi takes him into his embrace, stroking his hair while spouting ‘it’s going to be okay’ nonsense that even 12-year-old him would know were lies.

He remembered watching people in black lowering the coffin that held his best friend into the grave hole and sealed it up.

He remembered the tears that he shed when he received a letter written to him by his hyung, apparently Minhwang had a lot to say. And even till this day, he could recite the 2 pages long essay-like letter word by word.

And the nightmare was only starting, he was appointed to attend trauma therapy after breaking down unconditionally at random times. The other trainees however never got the story, they never knew why excellent dancer Park Jisung needs weekly afternoon leaves for a couple months. He was also allowed to go home a bit more often.

Just when he thought he’s healing, another problem arises. Jisung learned a lot from Minhwang’s case, which is why when his brother is showing those signs more obviously even, he could tell right away. He tried to do all he can, compliments, encouragement, subtly checking once in a while for blood stains on his clothes.

His brother always held a smile on his face for him, weak and tired. Jisung felt so helpless, he had to do something and so he did. He tells, he tells his parents what he saw.

13-year-old Jisung thought, things will get better soon, his brother will get all the help he needs. But instead, the day before his brother’s therapy sessions starts, it was such a close call he was scarred. 

His brother had a rope around his neck with its other end tied to the fan, feet ready to jump down from the stool he’s standing on. Had he not thought of bringing breakfast up to him, he would’ve lose another to the same demon.

“HYUNG!!” He drops the tray containing food and picks up a scissors on the desk.

His brother was quick to react and jump but Jisung, a trained dancer was quicker on his feet. His brother’s figure falls onto the floor; their parents rush up to see the commotion. His mother comforts Jisung while in tears as their father tries to restrain his brother who’s madly yelling at him.

“JISUNG YOU NOSY BRAT!! YOU SHOULD’NT HAVE SAID ANYTHING!! YOU KNOW DAMN WELL I’M DONE LIVING!!! I’M DONE!! I WANT TO DIE!! I WANT TO DIE!”

Jisung could only curl into a small ball in his mother’s embrace, all he ever wanted to do was help. But he couldn’t even do that, instead he made things worse.

During his brother’s recovery, he actually got better. But he never thanked or apologized to the younger. Thinking, Jisung had been nosy, and he did tell something that’s a really big matter to their parents. Jisung cries to bed each night when reminded, his brother probably hates him now.

 

_

 

Jisung falls onto his bed, he scanned his wrist and then his entire arm. He squints his eyes, on is skin there were barely visible scars. Scars that reminded him of that hole he slipped into, how he struggled to find his way out. It was a hellhole of a ride, to have a demon raging in your head of things you can’t control.

But then, he’s put in the NCT debut line-up. He met his hyungs, he finds his new hope, his new key to the new lock that caged his free spirit. Thanks to them, he learnt to put down the blade, he learnt that he’s not alone, he learnt that it’s okay to cry and ask for help, he learnt how to see him for himself.

14-year-old Jisung was happy and healed when he debuted, so in what logic sense was he going to let his hyung stay trapped in that hellish maze longer than he ever wants.

He was going to help, and this time, he’ll do it right.

 

_

Haechan all but hobble into the Dream dorms, his joints are aching all over and his head is spinning faster than Mark’s rapping. There’s supposedly no other members in said dorm at the moment, he was so sure he checked their schedules. Kicking off both shoes, he lets himself fall on the couch as he tries to steady his breaths.

After the adrenaline from intense dance practice (and running a few blocks down to get some things from a store and back to dorm) cooled down, he takes out the items in his bag that were tucked neatly in a paper bag.

Colourful pens, glitter, stickers, a bunch of assorted theme letter papers and envelopes

It was irony how cheerful, rainbows and glitz everything was despite the purpose he had bought them. He stared at the items in his hands, they looked so innocent, pure even. Yet, he’ll be using them for such a sad and dark purpose, he felt bad for the animated objects.

He couldn’t keep these at the 127 dorms, Taeyong always clean their rooms from top to bottom, not a corner is excluded. So, finding these things may or may not raise questions but Haechan rather not take chances. He carefully puts them away in a locked drawer.

Grabbing a shirt, he strides to the bathroom, being in a cramped room by yourself really makes you realized how disgusting you looked and smelled. He can’t tell exactly why he bought those stuff, he didn’t want to admit it to himself, he had thought of leaving, quitting, just make it stop once and for all but never did he expect himself to actually be desperate for it. Is he?

I don’t want to die

He wanted to scream at himself but at the same time

This isn’t worth it, you can’t do this anymore, just end it all

When he thinks about it, just how did things get so bad for him? Nothing bad truly happened to him in his life, is he that ungrateful for all he’s blessed with? There’s nothing to justify, to qualify as his reason to be in such a mess.

Is this even a mess? Or he was just that good at hiding?

He never had trouble with unusual sleeping habits, although tired or numb he could still do his idol- daily routine just fine. The only abnormal thing that ever happened to him was his developing incapability to consume food. He feels like shit, but he effortlessly looks fine. Every mistake, as small as they can be can bury him in guilt and regret, yet he could keep a faced and deal them just fine.

He takes a quick shower, with nothing else to do he can’t help but glare in the direction of where he had hidden the objects. Why is he even considering it? But the next few hours of pure solitude are spent by him with writing these special letters. He made sure to use his best words and keep it as simply and short as he could.

Dear Taeil hyung, I’m sorry for doing this……..

Dear Johnny hyung, I’m sorry that I’m leaving so soon….

Dear Taeyong hyung, I’m sorry for causing trouble…..

Dear Yuta hyung, I’m sorry for being and annoyance…..

Dear Kun hyung, I don’t know why they debuted me, you’re more deserving……

Dear Dooyoung hyung, please don’t cry and just forget me…...

Dear Ten hyung, Smile a lot after this for me?......

Dear Jaehyun hyung, I’m sorry I was difficult………

Dear Winwin hyung, you’ll get all my parts after this, you deserve so much hyung….

Dear Jungwoo hyung, forgetting me shouldn’t be hard, please always be happy hyung…...

Dear Lucas hyung, never change who you are, even when I’m gone hyung…...

Dear Mark hyung, thank you for everything, I’m sorry for everything…..

Dear Renjun, thank you for the memories, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep them alive….

Dear Jeno, I’ll never forget your smile, but you’ll have to forget mine……

Dear Jaemin, I’m so sorry for leaving all of you, I know I broke my promise….

Dear Chenle, you’re so amazing my little Lele, sorry that you got me as your hyung…..

Dear Jisung, my precious maknae, I’m sorry I’m doing this to you, to us. But a dead star shouldn’t be allowed to be with magnificently shining stars as yourselves. Shine brighter Sungie, maybe then I could see your light even from above. I wished I was a better hyung for you, hyung’s sorry Sungie…..

He kept writing, soon there’s 17 envelopes neatly sealed laid on his bed. Each of them has the receiver’s name spelled out with alphabet stickers on. Some were a page long, some were half a page but a few certain ones take up almost 3 pages.

He tucks them back in their hiding spot, no one must find them.

He hissed when hot water came in contact with his newer cuts, there’s a red patch on his arm now, great. He didn’t bother changing ion the bathroom and simply step out and returns to his own room. He throws on some pants first, then proceeds to get some ointment for the rash on his arm.

He was still applying the healing cream when the dorm just slam opens, “Haechannie we’re back early!!” Renjun exclaims, Jeno and Jisung in tow, Chenle and Jaemin’s voices can be heard from their living room. But all three figures stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of shirtless Donghyuck, scars littered all over his thin frail frame with red rashes from previously and other wounds and bruises.

Renjun screamed and ran out, it doesn’t take a genius to know who he’s running off to find

Jeno looked away, hands covering his mouth to keep himself from vomiting

Chenle too screams in horror, Jaemin and himself heard Renjun’s scream and sobs as he ran so they went to inspect. Jaemin’s first reaction had been the most sensible out of all the present Dream members, he waste no time yanking both youngest out of the room.

Any other time, he would’ve let it slide. But Jisung was having none of that bullshit today.

He harshly pulls his hand away from Jaemin, “Let me help him hyung-” but he was cut off by the door ton their doors flinging open with so much force. Mark, Taeyong and the rest of parents line stormed in with other members trailing behind. “I want all of you out of here except Mark, Dooyoung, Johnny and I” barks their leader.

Kun embraces a shaking Chenle, trying his hardest to calm the youngest Chinese down. Jaehyun and Taeil pulls Jeno away. Ten and Yuta tries to comfort Jisung but the youngest for once proved to be stubborn.

All the while, Haechan panicked. He’s found out, he’s so done for. It sacred him, he saw how Renjun looked at him, how Jeno was trying to not break down as well.

How Chenle’s hands had his blood on them, when did the cuts reopened? He’s done so much damage already, and worst of all.

He lets Jisung, their precious 16-year-old maknae saw what kind of screw up he was.

Why? It’s so noisy, people were calling his names and arguing? He could hear their leader’s voice, Dooyoung’s…Jisung’s? Alas the swirling storm in his mind is much greater. But he couldn’t or maybe he didn’t want to look up to them, he’s too scared of all the angered and disappointed or disgusted faces he’ll received.

“Jisung we just don’t want you to experience-”

“JUST SHUT UP!!! Stop freaking act like I’m some kid who knows nothing!”

“Jisung, we don’t like this sudden attitude, just go as we told you”

“I want to help”

“We’ll handle this, like I said. You’re still young and you shouldn’t-”

“Know what’s it like to see someone you love and care destroys themselves with their inner demons and you can only helplessly watch because you don’t know what to do? Or have to experience how’s it like to hold their lifeless body with their blood all over you and just wonder to yourself why didn’t you noticed? Well, too bad hyung, I do. Now let me help him”

They didn’t stop him this time

 

_

Donghyuck wants to freaking disappear, they were arguing and he's the factor of it. He clambers himself off the bed, hands reaching for something to cover himself, to cover all the signs of the mistake that he is. How is he going to get himself out of this mess? He's busted.

They'll never see him the same way again, hell! They hate him, how could they not? He's already such a burden, now he's a problematic member within their perfect selves. He's terrified of what's to happen now, "Please.... Don't kick me out.... I'll be better.... just please don't kick me out of NCT!! I swear!! I won't really be as problematic!!" He cried, it feels useless.

His outburst grabbed their attention, "Hyung......we would never do such a thing" his maknae, their maknae, Jisung's deep calming voice silenced his thoughts. The taller male takes Donghyuck hands into his and pulls the elder into an embrace. He grabs a blanket to cover his hyung and continue to sooth him with reassuring words.

Haechan stunned, tried to push him away. Jisung shouldn't see him like this, he's supposed to be a hyung, a person that the younger could depend on. "J-Jisung.....please....." he didn't want to trouble him, he was supposed to protect him from these things in life. "It's okay hyung, you'll be okay....trust me-"

That however made him snapped, it was like a fire combust just because of that particular sentence

"You'll be okay"

He forcefully pushes the maknae in anger, "Shut up!! Who do you think you are to say that!! You can't say that!! Nothing ever was okay!!! People always say that but they're always lying!!! It hurts so much!!! I hate that I can't get better!! Almost 5 fucking years and I'm still the same ugly bitch that can't do anything right!!! I hate myself!!" Taeyong and the rest wanted to interject after hearing the words spilling from the younger's mouth.

But Jisung refrain them from interfering, mouthing that Haechan needs to let all the bottled-up feelings poured out. Donghyuck couldn't even control himself anymore, the strong wall he built for years crumbled down in seconds. "And you know what!?! I want to die, I was planning to kill myself, to end it all but you couldn't wait a few more days!! You just had to find out!! I could've died and everything would've been better!!"

Jisung gripped harder onto his hyungs, he's holding in his tears as hard as he could. He needs to prove to Donghyuck that he isn't hurting or burdening anyone. Taeyong had to leave, he can't possibly hear his baby talk about himself that way and not do anything. 5 years? That long? How could they have been so blind?

"Hyung, you don't want to die" he starts, "Jisung please just go..." he begged, he's said enough. "Hyung, I know, I've seen what it does to people, I lost my best friend to it, I nearly lost myself to it" Jisung murmurs, the memories were painful and no matter how long it has been, they never fail to pierce him.

"I don't want to lose you to the same demon......"

"I can't get better, I never get better, it'll be a waste of everyone's time, energy and effort"

"I felt the same way, but I found you, and the hyungs and more reasons. I'm better now, and you'll be too. Please, let us help you hyung. You're not alone in this, not anymore. Hyung you don't want to die, you just want to stop hurting, and we're going to help you achieve that"

I don't want to die, I'm so scared of death but I don't know how else for this pain to stop

"I don't know Jisung......I really don't know how to believe in those words"

 

_

Cold silence

Jisung and Mark each held his hands as the other hyungs treat every cut and wound littered all over his body frame. He’s slightly shivering because he’s stripped to his boxers. He kept his eyes close the entire treatment, not wanting to see what and who produced the faint sobs and whimpers around him, but Donghyuck knows which sound belongs to which hyung anyway.

“H-hyuckie, I call the manager to inform you’re not feeling well so you could just rest okay?” the latter snaps his head at the sound of his leader, eyes filled with disbelief “What? But I’m fine! I don’t have to skip anything, there’s no reason for me to back out of schedules” he’s clearly upset already, but this is annoying him.

“You’re…not hyuck, you need to rest.” But the vocalist just groans in frustration, “This is why I don’t tell, you don’t understand, nobody does” he mumbles. “Hae-” the boy glared at Dooyoung shutting him up, “No, don’t call me that…that person…...I’m not him, I can’t even be him” Johnny sighs.

“We’re helping you, and now we’re saying the first step is to rest. You’re tired, get some rest if not for yourself than do it for us”

“Hyung, he’s…. right. Yes, he’s tired but not in the way you think” Jisung says as he helps his hyung slip on a shirt. “We know Jisung, he’s mentally tired.” Taeyong answers, rolling his eyes. “I’m still here you know? Fine, I’ll stay out of outside schedules, but I’m still going to Dream’s vocal lessons and dance practices” the older ones are hesitating to give permission, Donghyuck’s previous words are still lingering in their minds.

“I want to die, I was planning to kill myself”

Taeyong truthfully doesn’t want his baby, his sunshine, out of his sight. Too worried, scared, he wouldn’t know what he’ll do if…if they hadn’t known about this. “Let him, I’ll make sure he’s taking it easy” Jisung offered. “Okay that settles it” Mark chimes, “Are you seriously letting Jisung, the maknae out of everyone to babysit me?”

“No, you’re not going anywhere. Mark doesn’t get to decide for you, you’re staying at the dorms and that’s final” Taeyong states, firm in his voice. “Hyung, trust me when I say, that’ll do more harm than good” Jisung speaks up, and Taeyong was so surprise seeing the maknae so serious. “Jisung, listen, I know you want to help but hyung knows what’s best-”

“Hyung, do you even know anything about high-functioning depression?” Donghyuck glared at the maknae. “I don’t have such thing” Taeyong looked stunned at the maknae, mostly because he pulled out a big word and that he doesn’t know what that is but he does know Depression. “Illness hyung, it’s not a choice. It isn’t wrong or weak to have it”

“Taeyong,” Dooyoung started, “Maybe let him explain why we should let Ha-hyuckie go?” the leader thinks about it for a moment. “Fine” Donghyuck stared at them, completely annoyed now “I don’t get a say in this?”

“Excuse me hyung, someone struggling with high-functioning depression experiences many of the symptoms of depression, but less severely. This allows the person to be able to function mostly normally, performing well, keeping up with responsibilities.”

Donghyuck raise an eyebrow at that, did he just pluck that one out of a random website?

“The mind is the main problem and the thing is Donghyuck hyung clearly uses schedules as distractions from his mind, aka the less ugly coping mechanism than what you saw. Keeping him at the dorms will get him to overthink things. And one thing will lead to another…...you get the idea. I’m there, I’ll make sure he doesn’t overdo it”

Johnny pats the maknae’s back, “You grew up too fast” a fond smile on his lips, Taeyong sighs and looks at Dooyoung. The other gives a reluctant nod, “Fine”

Donghyuck stared at them, spite in his eyes because did they really just discussed where and who he’ll be with? He is weak in a lot of aspects but he doesn’t need or want anyone looking after him like he’s some fragile glass, his mind was enough.

He didn’t need anymore reason to feel like a deadweight.

Donghyuck just stomp out the room, he’s so irritated and kind of pissed, they don’t get to make those decisions for him, they shouldn’t even make this such a big deal, he wasn’t worth it and it’s so frustrating to him that they can’t see that! The rest of NCT are scattered in the Dream dorms, all turning their head to the vocalist when he came into view.

Surprisingly, Taeil beats the Dreamies to him, engulfing Haechan in a hug as carefully as he could. He stiffs at the contact, why? Why are they like this?

The other Dreamies join the hug, everyone else just stared at him with…regret? Worry? Guilt? What the hell? First, those few, then Jisung, now them? It so confusing, so freaking confusing.

“Heachan hyung we’re so sorry!! We should’ve noticed!! We should’ve known you’re hurting…” Chenle cries, gripping onto his shirt so tightly, it’ll probably rip a seam if he doesn’t let go. Donghyuck wants to roll his eyes but doesn’t, he’s been dealing it for years, the least he could do was hide it away. “Donghyuck…hyung is so sorry…” Taeil muttered.

This is too much to take in, way too much for him. Donghyuck push them away, causing a few to collectively gasp. “Just…. what is your problem?!?” he snapped,

“Why are you apologizing?! You did nothing wrong!! Why can’t any of you just see!?! SEE that I’m just FINE!! I’m trying so freaking hard to fit in and be this stupidly perfect ‘Haechan’ everyone seems to love. Why do you care?!? You shouldn’t care, I…I don’t deserve this. STOP doing this…whatever this is!! I don’t deserve it!!”

There’s silence when he’s done, Haechan just let his own words sink in, ‘See…. I only hurt you guys….’ He wants to run, run away from everything and maybe go back in time and slap some senses into himself for carelessly not covering up. “Hae-”

“NO, from now on. NO one in this room right now can call me that off-camera. There is no Haechan when there’s no cameras” he glares, yet his heart is breaking, shaking. Why is he doing this. “Leave me alone” he muttered lastly before fleeing outside. “Hyung, just…. how bad did we let it happen?” Renjun asks Taeyong who just emerges from Donghyuck’s room.

“More than I could even imagine, he’s been fighting for 5 years…….and we did nothing to help” Taeyong feels like he’s seeing a stranger, someone he knows nothing about yet it was the dongseng he’s been with for years. Jisung puts an arm on the leader’s shoulder, a gesture for comfort.

“Better late than never, I’ll go get him hyung” he rushes past all of them and out the door. “Hyung, Jisung! He-” 

“Knows what he’s doing, maybe we did him wrong too. He wanted to help, but we always push him away. Trying to protect him from something he knew more than most of us” the members cast around guilty faces, “Why…. what does he know?” Jungwoo pry

“I don’t think it’s our place to tell”

Donghyuck runs, he slams through each door blocking him and pace forward till his legs could no longer carry him. “They shouldn’t care……It’s easier if they don’t…...” a jacket covers him, Jisung sat next to him. “Hyung you love us right?” he asks, not really looking at his hyung. “Of course,” Jisung turns to look at him.

“We love you too hyung, we want you to be happy as much as you want us to be happy. We want you to stop hurting, to help you, like how you would do the same for us. Give us that chance hyung, no matter how much you don’t trust us or yourself, please give us a chance to help you heal”

“I…I don’t…it’s not that…. yeah, I don’t trust you guys or myself, I don’t even know who I am anymore, I always thought if I’m Haechan, everything will just run smoothly. But it gets worse, I’m so tired, its so hard but in the end, I still make it through. So, I thought…I thought I could live with this...”

Haechan cried, all the anger, rage from before dispelled leaving only what’s beneath the mask. “You can’t, but we’ll help you hyung. We’ll help you learn who Lee Donghyuck is just like how hyungs taught me who Park Jisung is” 

“Jisung, maknae-ah…..thank you so much”

“Hyung, thank you for not pushing me away. I promised, you’ll get better”

The road to recovery is filled with bumps and twists, the dorm now has a set of new rules for its occupants to follow. For (at least) the next 3 months, Donghyuck is not allowed to be alone, at any given time or place.

If possible, a member should be with him at all times, if not a staff member or their manager whom he’s comfortable with.

He’s not allowed to be even in a meter distance with sharp objects of any sort, and there’ll be cut checks and weight in every week. It was hell, Donghyuck is so sure he’s going insane with the new rules and is throughout convinced that Taeyong is way too paranoid.

It was hard, he’s not used to be watched all the time, it used to be cameras but now the very eyes of his own hyungs. Every movement is watched and it’s starting to get very suffocating. “Jisung I can’t…..this….this is nuts!!”

Jisung sighs, this isn’t exactly what he had in mind, the poor vocalist is getting worse if anything. Donghyuck trusted Jisung the most, even more than Mark. He always prefers Jisung over everyone else, clinging to the maknae.

With Jisung it was different, Jisung didn’t treat him differently like others. Jisung just be himself around Donghyuck, he doesn’t ask Donghyuck ‘Anything I can help you with?’ every five minutes like Jaemin or he does not freak out when the boy is seen reaching out utensils that were placed near the knife storage like Dooyoung.

Jisung didn’t try prying him to talk like Mark, and he lets Hyuck uses the bathroom without needing the door to be left open like the rest of them. Jisung only gives him a casual, “just tell me when you need me hyung, I’ll listen” and proceeds to do whatever he had to do while staying near the elder.

Haechan could never be more thankful that he had such caring hyungs, but they’re being way overprotective. It makes him feel bad that they’re stressing and worrying their head about him, not knowing it was making him very uncomfortable, but how does he tell that to the people who are trying hard to help him despite all he said and done?

Jisung is a quiet kid around cameras, but he tends to be a little talkative behind screens. He always makes do what he can to be the one accompanying Haechan, but it’s hard when he landed a few solo schedules for himself.

Donghyuck hyung isn’t going to say a thing to them, that’s a definite but what hyung can’t do, he can.

“Please bear with it for a little longer hyung”

 

_

“Taeyong hyung, this isn’t helping” he voiced out his thoughts, even though it’s been weeks, some are still trying to grasp the fact that just happened and they only just found him getting scars treated. Jisung rather not know what aftermath would come if it had been catching Donghyuck doing self-harm instead.

And Jisung understands, with what happened to Jonghyun from Shinee, it’s only logical everyone is scared that they’ll be the one to suffer a leave next. Afraid that once they close their eyes, Donghyuck will leave them, they had to witness their senior carry their fellow brother in a coffin. Nobody is ready to face the same scenario with a much younger and familiar face in the coffin.

“Oh god, Jisung I know!! I know that!!” He hadn’t expected to be snapped at, it scared him seeing Taeyong stress-angry, but he stood firm. “It needs to be tone down, you’re making him feel like a burden” but the leader just looks away gripping his head.

“Hyung he doesn’t need all this, he just needs us. What he needs is reassurance and space and people he could cry onto. He needs to learn to see that he’s beautiful, that he’s an amazing dancer, a wonderful singer. We’ve got to help him to see and accept that hyung, show him that he can and is strong, not treating as if he’s weak and capable-less”

The leader stare at the maknae, Taeyong didn’t know how to describe this feeling. He hugged Jisung tightly as he could. “Thank you so much Jisung”

 

_

Things only started to look better for them, it was like a new era has started. The whole table erupts in applause when Donghyuck succeeds in eating a whole plate of noodles. The young vocalist blush in embarrassment, they were complimenting him for every little thing now and then.

Donghyuck swears he never felt like this before in a very long while, it’s been so long that he’s tuck in the dark tunnel that when he’s actually close to the exit, he didn’t know what the light was. Maybe they still treat him like fine china at times, but it was definitely better than before, no one is breathing down his neck all the time for now.

The letters he wrote were secretly discarded, he makes extra sure no one would find them.

He learns a lot of things, turns out there’s a lot of things about Haechan that wasn’t actually his true self. One of them is he may be witty, but he’s just as gullible. That one time with Jaemin taught him that, the male had told him some fact about toothpaste, saying it could be a substitute for glue.

Donghyuck actually believed it, and made Johnny a card once but using toothpaste instead of glue. He heard Jaemin getting chewed out a little later after. At least the card smelled fresh.

But another thing Donghyuck learn is that Jisung is fucking amazing. Whenever he feels his skin itching, or the thoughts became too loud again, he could always count on Jisung Pwarkk to make it all go away. Mark may or may not be jealous at how he’s running to Jisung for every little thing now.

Jisung always knows what to say, like a knight rescuing him from the dangers lurked in the darkness. He finds himself sleeping with Jisung in either his or the other’s bed every now and then. Jisung would let him burry his sobbing self into his chest, and softly run his hands through Donghyuck’s hair ever so lovingly.

It was like the voice could barely bother him anymore, and even if he did relapse. Jisung wouldn’t panic and starts screaming like anyone else in that group would. He would bend down and hug Donghyuck’s shaking frame, he would softly murmur reassurance to remind Donghyuck that it was okay and that everyone knows Hyuck is trying his best, the blade would slowly be taken away from his fingers and he’ll be hoist up in strong arms.

Jisung would clean away the blood and bandage them ever so neatly, and proceeds to plant kisses all over the bandaged arm. “I’m sorry” Donghyuck would say, knowing he yet again failed his bandmates but Jisung would shush him “Hyung, you’re trying, fighting, if anything I’m proud of you for holding up for so long” Gosh, how did he deserve this maknae of every hyung’s dream?

“But hyung I didn’t get a turn yet!!” Donghyuck whines when Jaehyun toss the controller at Renjun instead of him, “Do something for me then” he says, Donghyuvk pouts and leans to nuzzle himself into Jaehyun and said “Pwease hyungie can Hyuckie get a twurn?” in his aegyo voice. Jeno is on the floor rolling at Jaehyun’s whipped face.

It was nice to see Hyuck happily joking with them, genuinely. The smiles weren’t strained and the laughter had never sounded more real, his body is back to healthy. It was tough, but they made it, they actually made it. And they love this Donghyuck, this Donghyuck who is adorable and sweet and spontaneously sassy at times.

Donghyuck doesn’t need to be Haechan to be loved, they’re glad that they could finally make him see that.

“Hey Sungie?” The younger boy looks at him, “Thanks, for everything. I didn’t know I could……be like this…….is this true happiness? Honestly, I don’t care……I like this” he rants, “It’s nothing hyung, I’m glad you’re getting better”

It happened too fast, Jisung leans and close the few centimetres gap between their lips. He brushes his lips against Donghyuck’s leaving the elder freezing in shock. When he pulled away, he didn’t turn away to hide his blush, the perfectly pink tinted on his cheeks.

“Besides, I like you” Donghyuck blushed deep crimson. “Oh no, hyung itr’s okay if you don’t feel the same!” But Donghyuck laughs, “Oh, I….I…oh gosh Sungie. Of course, I like you too!”

“Keep it PG in there or I swear I’ll whip both of you”

“shawty give me! Whip! Whip-”

 “I swear to god Johnny, I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD”

“That’s Johnny HYUNG to you Dooyoung!”

Just like that, he opened a new chapter to his life, it’ll continue to be filled with challenges but he has a whole ass 21 membered band with one of them as his boyfriend.

He’ll be fine.