“Renjun, don’t forget to face forward,” A man Renjun had never met called as he and the members of NCT 2018 were led up to the stage. He gave a thumbs-up as the man retreated, speaking quickly into his mouthpiece. He looked down at his oversized black shirt, sighing at the way it still showed off the curve of his belly despite being almost three sizes too big for him.
Mark made his way back from the front of the line, poking Renjun once on the shoulder to get his attention.
“Don’t do anything big, okay? Take every move easy. You’ve done really well so far,” Mark yelled over the sound of their fans screaming. Renjun nodded and smiled awkwardly at the eldest Dream member. “Are you okay? Does anything hurt?” He asked, catching the attention of Jaemin from a few feet in front of them.
“No, I’m okay,” Renjun said, giving Jaemin an okay symbol to try and soothe the other man. Jaemin’s lips curled in as he bit at them, but he managed a strained smile anyway. Renjun knew how against him performing Jaemin was. Not only was Renjun tired and aching, but the stage was wet and their shoes had no grip. One wrong move and he’d be flat on his back just like the majority of the men surrounding him.
By the time the intro finished and they were guided out onto the stage, Renjun’s body had already begun to sag with exhaustion. He’d never wanted to use the fact he was pregnant as an excuse to lack in his performances, but it was catching up to him. His back ached furiously, his ankles were swollen and made his boots feel a size too small, and not to mention the twinges in his abdomen every time his baby kicked.
“You good?” Jeno asked as they walked together into formation.
“Yeah, Jaemin’s son is using my organs as punching bags,” Renjun said, giving the man a small smile. He couldn’t pull his lips up any more, even the muscles in his face weighed down.
“So he’s Jaemin’s son now?” Jeno teased.
“Only when he kicks me like this,” Renjun said as they separated to stand in their spots.
The music started, the cheers from their fans loud over the sound of his own beating heart. His breathing was muffled through his in-ears, but the glance from Jeno was enough to know that it was loud enough to be concerning. Even Yukhei gave him a passing glance as they began the intro to the dance.
As Taeyong and his group began the first segment, Renjun used the break to catch his breath. He had never felt so out of it, even during recent concerts. It may have been the lack of a proper break, or maybe it was stress, but his body wasn’t cooperating with him. All he wanted to do was go back to the waiting room and lay down for a few minutes. He hadn’t even gotten that with filming in between performances.
Mark’s group was up next, and immediately the slipping began. It started with Mark himself, his feet unable to grip the floor as he shot to the front of the formation. Renjun eyed Jaemin as he jumped, relief flooding through him as he slipped but stayed on his feet. The rest of their group’s dance went by with few slips, but the moves seemed lacking -- too careful for their normal fire when performing.
The sound of bodies smacking the floor was muffled but still loud as they all got down into a press-ups position, Renjun using all his arm strength to keep his belly from touching the ground. The front of his shirt had ridden up, the water soaking the fabric and making it stick uncomfortably as he and the back row got back up onto their hunches. It made the bump seemingly more obvious, but the crowd was more focused on Mark’s groups’ bodies hitting the floor rather than him, all the way in the back.
He stood shakily, legs feeling more and more like jelly the longer they went on. As he and Jeno went to switch places in the formation, the younger’s eyes widened as he took in Renjun’s state. He must have looked a mess.
He got through the next few dances with more finesse than he’d expected out of himself. It was only after Jeno slipped going into the change in formation that he began to feel nervous again. Even Donghyuck, who had never fallen out of the jump he performed after the formation changed, slipped out of the landing.
He felt almost too lucky. He was the only one in Dream other than Chenle that had yet to slip as far as he knew. Chenle was on the other side of the formation, and even if he’d fallen headfirst Renjun likely wouldn’t know.
Then came his favorite part, the one he couldn’t face forward for.
Jeno moved easily toward the center, leading all of the others as they turned their bodies toward him. Renjun’s shirt was sticking to his belly, creating an almost perfect outline of the top before it fell messily over the rest. His only hope was that the stage would disguise it, or that the member behind him would block enough light that it wasn’t noticeable.
His manager would be furious if someone caught on. He could only imagine the scolding he’d get as if he had any control over his shirt getting soaked. The thought only made his stomach ache, his baby kicking hard as the stress overwhelmed him.
Renjun positioned his arm a little higher than necessary, trying to block the harsh line of his upper abdomen to make it harder to spot. As quick as it started the part was over, Renjun finally back to facing forward. He let out a breath and tried to suck another one in.
He was so tired.
Renjun prepared himself for the jumping spin midway through their dance. He reminded himself to go slow and not go too high.
He spun his upper body once it was his turn to perform, but he lost his grip on the floor before he’d even left the ground. His right foot left the ground too late, making it harder for him to pull himself around and land correctly. In the end, his left toes only scuffed the ground before he slipped forward.
He tried to pull his hands forward to break his fall, but his right hand slid underneath him. His elbow slammed hard into the ground, his face meeting the same fate. His belly hit hard on the right side, but someone grabbed him and rolled him over onto his bottom before he could do any more damage.
Some of the crowd gasped, some screamed, but all of them showed some form of major shock at the nasty fall. It may have seemed rough when Ten grabbed him, their lack of knowledge turning a desperate attempt to help into something else.
He stood back up with Ten’s help and continued, biting back the tears that pushed behind his eyes. His elbow was on fire, and he tasted blood from where he’d bitten his cheek when he fell. His belly ached, and his baby was oddly quiet. It was unusual for him to kick as much as he had that day, but all Renjun wanted was to feel him.
Renjun walked forward, his hand aching to rub his belly. Everyone’s eyes were on him as he knelt down in front of the formation, the lack of attention making more members slip as they all came together. Jisung laid his hand on Renjun’s shoulder, squeezing tightly. He wanted to do something in return to tell Jisung he was fine, or that he wasn’t, but he had to keep his hand down or he would fall.
Jaemin was behind him, one person back, as Taeyong clambered up to the top of their messy formation. Renjun could feel his panic; the feeling tangible and thick. It spread through the whole group, everyone was suddenly tense and fluttery eyed. No one could focus.
When they broke up again, Renjun backed up and took his position on the floor easily. He’d always been upset by the lack of center parts he had, but he was beyond grateful in that moment. He laser-focused on his stomach, trying his best to feel even the smallest flutter.
It wasn’t until halfway through Ten’s solo part that he felt it; his baby rubbing up against his belly.
Renjun wanted to sob. He knew that it was unlikely for his baby to be hurt by a fall, but the sudden lack of movement had scared him. He’d felt him to some degree constantly since the concert started. His stress, lack of eating and rest, and wild movement kept the baby up and moving.
Knowing that his son was okay let Renjun finish out the rest of the dance in relative comfort. By the time they finished the dance and fell into their final end pose, his elbow was swollen and bruised and his face was hot and burning.
The lights went out and a pair of arms were around him, leading him back behind the stage. It was Mark, but Jaemin was next to him soon after.
“Careful!” Donghyuck shouted from behind them. Jaemin had slid his entire way over.
“Did you fall?” Jaemin asked, still unsure as he had been unable to see what had caused the great commotion halfway through the dance.
“Yeah,” Renjun cried, finally able to let out a little of the panic he’d felt on stage. Jaemin wrapped his arm tighter around Renjun, pulling him close as they rushed him off the stage.
“Are you hurt?” Mark asked as they were rushed by medical, all of them motioning for them to hurry forward into one of the dressing rooms.
“Yeah,” Renjun responded. Jaemin cooed as the medical team motioned for them to lay Renjun down on one of the couches. The younger hissed at the sight of the other’s swollen elbow.
“Oh, Injunnie,” Jaemin said, grabbing Renjun’s uninjured arm to hold his hand.
Renjun tried not to cry. He could feel his baby, his elbow and face weren’t as important as that.
But they hurt, and he was exhausted, and before he could stop them the tears were flowing silently down his face. Renjun sniffled quietly, pulling his free hand up to cover his eyes.
“Oh, baby. You must be in so much pain,” Jaemin whispered, leaning down and pressing light kisses all over his face. He paid careful attention to the red spot on Renjun’s right cheek, his nose nuzzling lightly on the injury.
“I couldn’t feel the baby,” Renjun cried, a sob escaping his lips.
“Did you hit your belly?” Jaemin asked, suddenly very serious. Renjun nodded, refusing to look Jaemin in the eyes. “He hit his belly. Can you have someone check the baby is okay, please?” Jaemin asked someone behind him. A quiet confirmation was given before Jaemin was lifting his soaked shirt up.
“Here’s a towel,” Chenle’s voice said, and Renjun could feel the prickly fabric on his belly as Jaemin wiped the water off. It had felt fine when he started, but the closer he got to the right side the more the pressure ached.
“Ow,” Renjun cried as Jaemin swiped the towel over a particularly sensitive spot.
“I’m sorry, are you okay?” Jaemin was quick to apologize, pressing kisses over Renjun’s hand covering his eyes.
“Yeah, I’m okay. That just hurt,” Renjun said, finally removing the hand from his eyes. He stared down at his belly, trying to see if there was a physical mark from the fall. He had trouble seeing, but Jaemin reassured him that there was only a bit of red from where he’d hit the stage.
A few minutes passed before one of the men in medical came by, a small device in his hands. He turned it on quickly and settled down beside Renjun, pulling the wand from its clip. Renjun squeezed Jaemin’s hand as the man pressed the wand down onto his belly, moving it around a little before settling over his left abdomen.
The whole room seemed to let out a collective sigh of relief as a loud, strong heartbeat sounded through the device.
“Sounds good. Have you felt him move at all since coming off stage?” The man asked, turning the device off and handing it over to be put away.
“Flutters. He hasn’t kicked yet.” Renjun responded. “I’ve felt him roll around.”
“Good. Everything seems fine, but if you’re worried you can always schedule an appointment. Your body is made to take large amounts of stress. He was probably just a bit shocked.” The man soothed, and both Renjun and Jaemin thanked him as he stalked away.
“Let’s take a look at that elbow,” A woman said, looking it over with a critical eye. “I’m going to wrap it up and ice it. You moved it well in the dance so I’ll say give it a night, and if it doesn’t get better, go to the hospital and have it checked out.” She said, pulling out bandages and working to wrap his elbow.
“If the swelling doesn’t go down or you have trouble moving it, I’d go in,” The man from earlier said.
“Okay, thank you,” Renjun responded. He tried to push his sweaty bangs back with the hand still connected to Jaemin’s, but his boyfriend used his free hand to do it for him.
“You’re so warm, love.” Jaemin sighed. “Do you feel sick?”
“Just tired,” Renjun responded. He was so tired he could hardly feel anything else.
“I’m sorry, could you take his temperature too?” Jaemin asked, and the man left and returned with a temple thermometer. He placed the tool close to his head but didn’t touch it, the device letting out a beep once it finished. Renjun could see the orange color on the screen from where he lay.
“100.9.” The man read off. “Probably coming down with something.”
“Baby, are you sure you haven’t been feeling sick? Even if it's just a little off?” Jaemin prodded, and Renjun sighed but gave in. He told him about his headache, aching back, jelly legs, and swollen ankles. He mentioned the overwhelming exhaustion and stress, and the baby’s increased movement in response to it.
“Nausea or dizziness?” The woman asked as she finished wrapping his elbow.
“I’m always nauseous or dizzy,” Renjun smiled with a shrug. The woman hummed and nodded in sympathy.
“I remember those days,” She said. “It’s possible you might be coming down with a flu. Go home and get some rest.” The woman packed up all her stuff once she was finished, and with her and the man gone, his manager had space to replace them.
“We’ve canceled your schedules for the next few weeks,” The woman said. “We will let you know if you need to do lives.” That was all the woman said. She turned away and left Jaemin and Renjun alone, the two of them barely shocked at the clipped tone from the woman. She had never been his biggest fan.
“You scared the shit out of me,” Jeno said once medical and management left. “I had no idea what to do. I kept thinking that I should stop you but you seemed fine, and I fell like that earlier and I’m okay. But you’re pregnant, and--are you okay?” Jeno stopped his panicked rambling to ask. Renjun smiled lovingly at his friend and nodded.
“I want a shirt that’s not wet, and I’ll be perfect,” Renjun lied. Jeno was quick to go grab one anyway. He returned with Renjun’s own shirt and one of Jaemin’s hoodies, and it took all of Renjun’s strength to hold himself up while Jaemin changed him into the clothes.
By the time the hoodie was pulled over his head, his eyes had begun to droop, the aching in his body and stress luring him into a fitful sleep. Jaemin caught him as his body went limp, the younger looking up at Mark and Jeno who stood worriedly over them.
“He’s sick, right?” Jaemin asked, finally able to voice his concerns with Renjun asleep in his arms.
“That’s all. Just a cold or the flu,” Mark soothed, running his hand through Jaemin’s damaged hair. “He’s okay. Your baby is okay.”
“That was so scary. I had no idea what happened,” Jaemin said. “I just heard the fans and by the time I looked over, he was up. I watched him the whole time, I knew something was wrong. I should’ve stopped him.”
“And he would’ve gotten eaten out by our manager,” Donghyuck added unhelpfully. “He’s okay, Min. They’re both okay.” Jaemin wiped at his watery eyes and nodded.
“Jisung and Chenle are ready,” Johnny butt in guiltily. “They seem really shaken. I think you’d better get going.”
“Do you want us to stay behind?” Mark asked, pointing at him and Donghyuck. Johnny waved him off.
“You go. Your team needs you,” Johnny said, and Mark bowed gratefully.
Renjun was gathered up in Jaemin’s arms, still fast asleep as they walked out of the dressing room toward their waiting car. They were aware that there would be fans waiting outside, ready to take photos and videos and plaster them all over the internet with speculations. Was Renjun sick? Injured? Not to mention how obvious the man’s bump was in Jaemin’s white hoodie.
“Nana?” Renjun asked from Jaemin’s arms just as they were about to head outside. The younger thanked whatever deity heard his prayers as he settled Renjun onto his feet.
“Just a little walk, and then you can go back to sleep,” Jaemin said, but Renjun whined as his legs wobbled beneath him. Jaemin fluffed out the hoodie and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s back, guiding him outside as they all walked quickly to their car.
Chenle and Jisung were the first to hop in, the latter mindful of his shoulder where he’d fallen earlier in the day. Then was Jeno, Donghyuck, and Mark, all three helping Renjun up and into the van before Jaemin joined them.
They closed the door on the shouting fans and set off for home.