An incessant ringing drags Wooseok out of his already restless sleep. His phone screen lit up beside his pillow almost blinding him as his eyes struggle to adjust to the absence of natural light.
grasping hold of his phone, Wooseok clambers down the ladder briefly scanning the other bunks making sure Seungwoo and Yohan are still sleeping soundly; god knows they need their sleep and Wooseok couldn't bare the thought of carelessly taking it from them.
gently closing the door behind him and relocating to the sofa in the living room. Wooseok picked up his phone that had been taunting him from his hand, placing his hyung on speaker phone.
"hyung what the fuck are you playing at calling me at the asscrack of dawn, you almost woke up Yohan and Seungwoo hyung." Wooseok hissed down the line.
"Yah Wooseok-ah i thought you would've been happier to hear from your favourite hyung." And Wooseok can practically see the smirk on Sooil's face.
"dont get me wrong hyung I'm always happy to hear from you but maybe next time you could call you know like a normal person? During the day instead of at 2 in the morning like a loony, what do you even want anyway?" Wooseok probes, struggling to keep his eyes open.
"Jinwook is sending rockhyun hyung off to the military, won't be back for a while so asked me to check up on you in his place." Sooil explains, his tone void of any tiredness. Wooseok envies him, so easily able to keep his façade up infront of others, appear strong when no sane man could be truly strong. While Wooseok is breaking, his hyung is thriving. He longs to be like Sooil and his other hyungs; to be strong and resilient, but that's just not Wooseok. Pathetic, weak and vulnerable Wooseok.
Wooseok lets out a monotone hum before they fall into an uncomfortable silence. The only sound, the familiarity of the breeze coming through a latched window in the kitchen. The air had become heavy and awkward, it was as if it had put a seal on their mouths, keeping them from conversing with each other.
"You make it sound like a chore hyung." Wooseok whispers as if it was never really meant to he heard but it sliced through the tension like a knife.
"Shut up Seok, you know we'd never see it as a chore. We love you, you know that and we just want to make sure you're doing okay. Your wellbeing is always our priority remember that Seok-ah." Sooil gushed down the line.
Wooseok felt fuzzy, unable to tell whether it was from hunger taking it's toll on his already frail body or the warmth that came with having a support network who would literally help Wooseok bury a body without question if it meant he would smile.
Wooseok can't find his words, overwhelmed with emotions, fatigue and hunger he simply resorts to another hum. Sooil however does not appear satisfied with that response, Wooseok tenses already sensing the direction this conversation is going in.
"Seok-ah we watched you're debut showcase." Sooil broke the silence that was ready to embrace them both again, "you're getting skinny again, really skinny. I haven't seen it this bad since-"
Sooil didn't need to finish his sentance for Wooseok to know exactly what he was talking about. Sooil heard Wooseok take a shaky intake of breath through the phone and that's when he was certain he was onto something.
Wooseok hesitated but eventually answered, "I'm taking care of myself hyung, I'm eating well I promise." It would've come off stone cold if not for that one little voice crack; and it didn't go unnoticed by Sooil.
"Seok-" Sooil can barely bring himself to continue but he knows he doesn't have a choice, he has to be strong for Wooseok. Calling him out, they've come to learn is the only way to get Wooseok to open up to them. He'd hidden it from them for over a year before and Sooil still wasn't convinced that Wooseok would have ever said a word about it if not for all the other stuff he was dealing with.
"You've been purging again haven't you."
Wooseok choked up, the words were on his tongue but he found himself incapable of letting them out. That alone was answer enough for Sooil.
"Seok-ah, you promised! You promised you'd talk to one of us if you started getting urges again, how long has it been?" His voice is soft, getting mad is the last thing Wooseok needs but Sooil is unable to conceal the hurt and concern that laced his tone.
Wooseok pauses, unsure whether to apologise or just say nothing. His hyung's tone makes his guilt seethe, he'd never meant to make them worry about him. They all had their own problems and Wooseok didn't want his pathetic ass adding to their existing stress.
"A couple of months ago, during produce. I freaked, I only had Jinhyuk with me and there were so many new people and everyone expected so much from me and then there was the rankings too. The longer it went on, the louder the voices in my head were getting and i just couldn't cope." Wooseok rambled, only pausing when he choked on his own tears that he could no longer keep at bay.
Sooil ached at the sound of his younger friend crying over the phone, he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms tightly around wooseok and whisper sweet nothings into his ear like they'd always used to do. But of course life was cruel; Wooseok was so dangerously close to another full blown breakdown and Sooil was unable to be there for him in the way the younger needed.
"Aish- we told them sending you to that programme was a dumb idea." Sooil muttered under his breath but made no move to disguise his anger towards his company for blatantly disregarding his friends wellbeing.
"At least tell me you talked to Jinhyuk-ah." Sooil tries not to sound hurt but the thought of his dongsaeng flushing his breakfast down the toilet again without anyone to help him through it breaks his heart.
Wooseok opens his mouth to speak, shaky voice resonating across the room. "I didn't want anyone to find out, I didn't want you to think I was weak. When it got really bad I was going to talk to hyung but he was so busy with his own team, I didn't want to burden him any further." Wooseok's voice cracks a little, wiping his cheek on his sleeve and sniffling. The dull light of his dorms living room highlighting the tear tracks that decorated his hollow cheeks.
"You are not weak Kim Wooseok. Never, ever say something like that about yourself." Sooil began, leaving no room for argument as he continued, "We could never be disappointed in you, do you understand? Relapsing and messing up is all part of healing, we just want you to be happy. You've come so far you know that Seok?"
Sooil softened his tone ever so slightly so not to overwhelm Wooseok any further."You should've come to one of us, if we'd have known, it might not have gotten this bad again. We will never see you as a burden Wooseok please remember that. I know I'm not Jinwook or Yein but you can always come to me about anything, don't hide your problems away from us again Woo."
Sooil patted down his eyes, attempting to remove any trace of the unshed tears that had threatened to spill any moment.
"I'm sorry hyung i didn't mean-" Wooseok sobbed into his hand.
"hey, hey Seok." Sooil hushed, "I'm not mad baby, no need for tears. I just want to make sure that you're safe yeah."
Wooseok's quick and shallow breaths began to even out as he wiped away his tears with the back of his hand.
"You have been taking your meds haven't you Wooseok?" Sooil asked.
"Yeah, it's just they're doing less and less to help nowadays. The voices in my head have been getting louder and i still feel like ass." Wooseok whispered down the line, almost afraid of admitting what he'd spent so long trying to ignore.
"I'll be honest with you Seok, I think you need to talk to your doctor about increasing your meds again." Sooil began.
"We've just debuted hyung I can't be walking around like a zombie all the time again." Wooseok countered. Although he wouldn't admit it, he was well aware that he couldn't keep on much longer with his current dose but it had been so awful changing meds last time, he wasn't sure it was worth doing it again. Not yet at least.
"And you can't keep throwing up your breakfast every morning woo, you've got to do something." Sooil's words stung Wooseok but his hyung was right, of course he was.
"I don't have the time or the energy." Wooseok insisted.
"At least talk to your doctor Seok." Sooil begged, he knew how much of a toll changing meds took on the youger but he couldn't keep watching at a distance as Wooseok spiralled further into his old habits.
"I'll ask about it." Wooseok relented.
"Promise?" Sooil needed his word, he trusted the younger with his life but this time he needed to certain sure Wooseok would stick to it.
As a familiar silence embraces the pair once again, fatigue began to get the better of Wooseok, "I should probably be trying to get back to sleep hyung, we have to be up for schedules in an hour." He took a moment before continuing, "I really missed talking to you hyung."
"Ah of course. You need your sleep Seok, I won't keep you from that." Sooil mentally chided himself for calling Wooseok so late and keeping him from what precious sleep he was able to get.
"m sorry hyung." Wooseok's voice cracking a little as he continued, "I just want you to know how greatful i am for you. I love you hyung."
"i love you too Seok, don't forget that. We all love you even if we can't be with you in person right now." Sooil comments softly and it warms Wooseok's heart knowing that no matter how difficult it gets for him his members, his brothers, will always be there for him.
Wooseok smiles, a genuine smile that reached his eyes and lit up his puffy and swollen face for the first time in god knows how long. For the first time in a long while Wooseok was sure there would be better days to come, even if it was all too much for him right now; things would get better.
With a lack of response, Sooil continues, "don't be a stranger Seok, you know my number. Whenever you need me, i mean it. Sleep well Woo."
"Thanks hyung, really." Wooseok whispers moments before Sooil hangs up the line, wishing Wooseok well once more.
Placing his phone down on the coffee table, Wooseok became acutely aware of the rare silence that had fallen upon the dorm. The early traces of dawn beginning to penetrate through the blinds accompanied by a light breeze through the latched windows behind him. The stillness caused unease to overcome Wooseok as he curled into himself on the sofa, the low hum of traffic from outside the dorm was all that kept wooseok from being entirely overwhelmed by his thoughts once more.
"Wooseok-ah?" a tired voice came from behind him, tone laced with concern, becoming increasingly more alarmed upon hearing sniffles and uneven breathing from the small figure curled up in the corner of their sofa.
'Seungwoo hyung, shit shit shit'.
Was all Wooseok could think, that same thought swarming his mind. The last thing he'd wanted was to wake Seungwoo and he'd been trying so hard not to burden the elder with even more issues but alas here the pair were; Wooseok on the brink of another breakdown and Seungwoo privy to what he had worked so hard to keep from his new members. The mess that is Kim Wooseok. No sugarcoating or false pretences, just the broken little boy who can't keep down his food and struggles to get through the day even with a heavy prescription of his meds.
Seungwoo gently padded towards the sofa so not to freak Wooseok out any further. Meeting Wooseok's eyes, Seungwoo instantly noticed they were swollen; red from the tears that escaped moments before. A far cry from the boy's shining doe eyes they had all become accustomed to. It broke Seungwoo's heart to see his dongsaeng in such a state.
"Are you okay?" Seungwoo asked, carefully placing his hand on Wooseok's trembling shoulder. It was a stupid question really and Seungwoo knew it; any idiot could see Wooseok was in pain.
The oldest of the group wraps his arm comfortingly around Wooseok's waist, the younger immediately sinking into his side. Wooseok turns his head slightly to rest it in the crook of Seungwoo's neck as the aforementioned starts to card his fingers through Wooseok's soft hair.
"how long have you been there." Wooseok's soft and pained voice pierced the silence inside their dorm.
A few beats of silence passed.
"Long enough." he settled with these words. He felt Wooseok stiffen against him before releasing a deep sigh which was accompanied by tears if the forming wet stain on his shoulders were of any indication. Seungwoo held him closer, drawing light circles around his back as the tears soaked through his shirt.
"Aish Seok-ah, it must have been so hard keeping all of this to yourself." Seungwoo comments, letting Wooseok's tears soak through his shirt as he pulls the younger tighter into his embrace.
Wooseok took a deep breath, giving himself a few seconds to try to calm down more. He began to synchronise his breathing with Seungwoo's, a trick Minsoo had taught him a few years ago to help Wooseok gravitate himself during a panic attack.
When Wooseok's sobs had been reduced to sniffles, Seungwoo continued, "We've got an hour or so before we have to wake the kids up, how about I make us some tea and you and me can have a chat, just us yeah?"
Wooseok opened his mouth to speak, shaky voice resonating across the room,"That sounds nice hyung."