The smell of gasoline and fire assaulted his senses. Blurred images of people running away played in his mind. No. Come back. Help us. A hand reaching towards him, pulling him from the crushed pile of metal. Pain, beyond belief.
Jaehwan woke with a start, his muscles tense, sweat beading in his brow. His breathing came in rapid, harsh huffs. For a moment he laid there, his unfocused eyes sliding across the window in front of him to the darkness beyond.
He shook his head and raised his hand to scrub the sleepiness from his eyes. The door crept open, and Hakyeon stuck his head in. Light from the hallway shone through, blinding Jaehwan temporarily.
“Jaehwan-ah,” Hakyeon whispered, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. He stood still for a moment, allowing his eyes to adapt to the darkness of the room. After a few seconds, Jaehwan saw the elder turn towards the bed and walk towards him.
He didn’t need to see to know that Hakyeon had crawled into bed next to him. He scooted over, giving the older room.
“It’s okay, Jaehwan-ah,” the leader said, lying down and wrapping his arm around the main vocal’s waist. “You’re safe now.”
The next time he woke up, Hakyeon was gone.
He cast a sideways glance at the alarm clock on his bedside table. He would never be able to get back to sleep now, and everyone would be up in an hour anyway. Maybe a run would help to clear his head.
Sighing, he forced himself out of bed and headed to the bathroom to wash his face. Dressing quickly, he walked quietly down the hall, stopping in front of the door to get his running shoes on.
He jumped when Wonshik sat down next to him, grabbing his own pair of sneakers.
“I was planning on going for a run too,” he said, focusing on tying his shoes.
They ran in silence, both keeping a nice, comfortable and steady pace with each other. When they returned to the dorm, Wonshik smiled and patted him on the back before heading back into his own room.
Jaehwan found himself smiling back at the rapper, even if he didn’t see him.
Jaehwan sagged down onto the ground in the corner of the practice room. He was exhausted, as always. He was always tired nowadays.
The others had already left. He had heard them chatting about what food they were going to eat for dinner that day. He looked up in surprise when he heard footsteps approaching him.
“Aren’t you coming, hyung?” Hongbin asked reluctantly. “We’re all waiting for you.”
Jaehwan debated whether or not he could find the energy to get off the floor by himself. In the end, he shoot out an arm, silently asking Hongbin for help.
Hongbin smiled, grabbing his hand and pulling him up and into a hug. He then put his hands on Jaehwan’s back and pushed him towards the door.
“Let’s go, Ken-jumma,” the younger teased. “I’m starving.”
At the restaurant, he sat between Hyuk and Hongbin. Everyone was engrossed in the conversation, but he barely paid attention to what was being said. He broke away from his trance when he felt a hand on his arm.
“Hyung, your jjajangmyeon is getting cold,” the maknae whispered, eying him carefully.
He nodded, picking up his chopsticks and making a scene of mixing his noodles. He could still feel the youngest’s gaze on him when he brought the first bite of food to his mouth.
“Eat, Hyukkie,” he said, urging the boy to continue eating. He forced a smile to let the maknae know he was okay.
Hyuk grabbed the plate of dumplings on the table and brought it closer to Jaehwan. “You like these, right Hyung?” He then focused his attention on his own food and the conversation at the table.
Jaehwan smiled unconsciously at the maknae’s action. He picked up a dumpling and took a bite of it, allowing himself to enjoy the taste. He was startled when Hyuk suddenly yelled beside him.
“Yah! These are for Jaehwannie hyung!” he said, hitting Wonshik’s chopsticks away from the dumplings.
Wonshik pouted, and Jaehwan found himself laughing along with the rest of the members.
He woke up once again too early for his liking, once again from the smell of gas and blood.
After yesterday morning’s run and a full day of practice, he had slept marginally better last night than he had the night before. But he still couldn’t rid himself of the lingering images of his nightmares.
His door opened, and he thought Hakyeon had heard the consequence of his nightmare again. This time, however, it was the quiet main vocal that stepped into his room and sat down on his bed.
Taekwoon settled himself against the headboard and wrapped one arm around Jaehwan’s shoulder. His other hand reached for Jaehwan’s own, rubbing small circles on the back of the younger’s hand.
The older never said a word. He never asked him for any kind of explanation. His unobtrusive comforting was something Jaehwan appreciated, and he let his body relax as his head leaned against Taekwoon’s shoulder.
He closed his eyes, and before he knew it, he had fallen asleep.
It was peaceful the next time he woke up. Sunlight shone through his window, laminating his room in its warm rays. He almost panicked, thinking he had woken up late, but then remembered that it was their day off today.
Jaehwan pulled a hoodie over his head and opened the door of his bedroom. He could hear the members’ voices down the hallway. He stopped when he reached the entrance to the kitchen-dining room, taking in the scene before him. The three youngest were sitting at the table, happily chatting. Taekwoon was standing by the stove, while their leader was going back and forth between the kitchen and the table with bowls and utensils.
A smile crept onto his face as he observed his members, his family, interacting with each other. He had lost his family in the accident, but at least he still had them.
“Oh, Jaehwan-ah,” Hakyeon’s cheerful voice broke through his thoughts. “You’re awake. Come over and have breakfast,” the leader said, placing the chopsticks on the table.
Taekwoon walked over with a steaming pot, placing it on the stand in the middle of the table. “Food’s ready,” he said quietly, taking his seat at the table.
“Yah!” Hakyeon yelled at the three youngest. “What did I say before? Go help grab the cups! Aish, these kids…”
Jaehwan smiled as he watched Hongbin and Wonshik get up from the table. He walked towards the dining room, thankful for having such crazy and caring people in his life.
They were his family, and they were the only thing he needed.