Aron doesn’t know when exactly his knee starts to hurt. As the adrenaline fades, it starts to act up, and the coldness of the air conditioning in the airport wasn’t helping. He smiles and thanks the staff that takes his suitcase. He rolls his shoe on the carpeted floor, feels the bone rub and nearly winces. The only reason he doesn’t show it is because he can feel someone staring. Fans, he thinks, coming to send them off.
“Hyung, you alright?”
He looks up to see Minhyun, whose words make Jonghyun jolt up from the conversation he was sharing with Dongho and Mingi. He shakes his head at Jonghyun, he knows the leader was tired and he didn’t think it was that bad that Jonghyun had to worry. He didn’t doubt that Jonghyun would wrestle the seat next to his from whoever got it though. The leader babied him so much it was almost a question who was older. (It was always Aron, especially when Jonghyun needed the day to feel his age, to get back the childhood he lost. But Jonghyun was leader for a reason, even if he hovered.)
In any case, despite popular assumption, he was fine, which is what he tells Minhyun. Minhyun looks back at him unconvinced.
“You’re putting weight more on your other side,” he mumbles, soft enough that Jonghyun and the staff don’t hear. He drapes his arm over Aron’s, looking like he’s leaning on Aron even if Aron can feel him pulling Aron to lean against him. He’s tall, and it makes Aron almost angry if he wasn’t relieved that his leg could relax.
“Thanks,” he whispers, grateful for the mask that hide his lips. “How about you? I heard from Dongho that you didn’t sleep well.”
He feels Minhyun’s shoulders stiffen.
“Yeah, I was, um, thinking about what we could have done better.”
Aron thinks to the night before, how their fans lit up the festival and shouted. His chest tightened, and he tries to lean in further onto Minhyun. “You did great,” he murmurs, and Minhyun’s eyes shoot up to meet his before casting down. “The fact that you think you could do better is already amazing, and something to admire.”
“The next one I’ll do better,” Minhyun says, “and then the one after that, I’ll do even better.”
Aron smiles even when he knows Minhyun can’t catch it. “I don’t doubt it, but don’t push yourself too hard.”
Minhyun scoffed. “You’re saying that?”
“Screw off. I’m telling on you to Jonghyunnie.”
(Aron thinks it’s karma that Minhyun’s the one who gets the seat next to him, and even if Jonghyun is immune to the pleading look Minhyun sends him, it’s not true the other way around. Jonghyun sits himself next to Aron, already armed to hell with the hot towels the flight provides and also Aron’s knee brace, which he thought he left behind at home. Jonghyun’s hands on his leg is therapeutic, but Aron is very much suffering because of the chiding look in Jonghyun’s eyes.
Aron takes it back. Minhyun isn’t the only one who doesn’t feel shame when Jonghyun has that look.)