It wasn’t often that Soonyoung actually felt like he was going to pass out.
Usually, he took pretty good care of himself. When he didn’t - when he was too caught up in his own head to recognize when he needed a break - his members were always there to look out for him, to make sure that he didn’t overdo anything. Otherwise, he wouldn’t see the signs, and he would dig himself a hole he couldn’t climb out of on his own.
Right now, he was alone in their practice room, a hand pressed against the mirror to keep himself from falling over. His vision was blocked with white spots and his head was spinning, and he wasn’t exactly sure why. He had been drinking his water, so there shouldn’t have been an issue. Maybe he had been practicing for too long, but it didn’t feel like that long. He hadn’t checked the time since everyone left.
It had been a really hard day. Soonyoung had a lot of work to do, but nevertheless, he was kind of annoyed with himself for not leaving with the rest of them. Half of their members were pretty much down for the count. Wonwoo threw up sometime in the middle of their scheduled practice, Seungkwan dislocated his shoulder, Joshua hurt his knee pretty bad, and Seokmin was getting too dizzy to stand, so Seungcheol decided they all should go back to the dorms and get some rest.
Soonyoung was starting to suspect that he was going to be down for the count soon as well if his head wouldn’t stop spinning like it was.
That would be really bad, though. Soonyoung was the one in charge of making and presenting their choreography to the company, and if it wasn’t good, they weren’t going to debut on time.
He didn’t even know if that was still happening. They had lost so many members, some of them so quickly that Soonyoung didn’t even get to say goodbye. Samuel was gone because his mother decided he was too young to debut. Doyoon and Dongjin, Soonyoung still didn’t understand why they left. Mingming only left a few days ago, and according to Junhui, it had something to do with the company, but Junhui wouldn’t go into the details.
It was frustrating, yeah, but it hurt his heart more than anything else. They were all people who Soonyoung thought they were going to be idols with together, and at this rate, Soonyoung didn’t know who they were going to lose next.
He felt his eyes start to burn with tears.
"Hyung? What are you doing?"
Soonyoung nearly jumped out of his skin as soon as he heard the voice coming from the other end of the practice room. He turned around so quickly that he almost fell over - god, his head was pounding so horribly - but he didn’t actually fall, so maybe that was a good sign. He was fine.
Soonyoung sighed. It was Chan.
Soonyoung was almost tempted to turn back around and keep working - Chan knew he was busy, he knew that they had a deadline and that Soonyoung was nowhere near finished with their choreography ideas. For a second he found himself angry with the younger for not even offering to help, but he had to slap his cheek for that. Chan was just a kid. He needed to rest. They all did.
"Just working on choreography," Soonyoung murmured softly, sadly. He was kind of tempted to just go back home with him. He was so tired.
"At six in the morning?" Chan puffed as he walked a little closer. Soonyoung chewed his lip. Okay, that kind of erased going back to the dorms to sleep as an option. "Even Jihoon came back to the dorms with us. Have you been here since we left?”
Soonyoung nodded. He could feel how worried Chan was just from where he was standing, and it made Soonyoung angry with himself - but he couldn’t even get himself to look Chan in the eyes.
“We have our meeting with the CEO in an hour, hyung,” Chan said following a tiny sigh.
Soonyoung felt his stomach clench as soon as his brain was able to comprehend what Chan had just said to him.
"It's - wait - what? That's today? I thought - I - " Soonyoung didn't even know what he thought. He wasn't keeping track of time at all. He didn't know what time the others left. He didn’t even understand how it could possibly be six in the morning already. He knew that he was working hard for their final presentation for the CEO but he didn't know when that was. Why hadn't he checked earlier? "Okay. I have to - I have to go through everything. I'm not done."
Chan took a few steps closer, and Soonyoung tried to back up before realizing he was already leaned against the mirror. It was cold. It felt nice. "Hyung, if you're not done now, you're not gonna be done by the time - "
"Shut up, Chan!” Soonyoung snarled, not even bothering to look any higher than Chan’s shoes, but he noted how the kid backed up as soon as Soonyoung opened his mouth. Soonyoung’s chest was starting to hurt. He felt like he couldn’t breathe right. “I have - I have so much to do and, and - you wouldn’t even understand, you don’t do anything! Go away!”
Soonyoung immediately regretted what he said.
He saw at least twenty different emotions in Chan’s wide-eyed expression when Soonyoung finally looked up at him, as if Chan couldn’t even really comprehend what Soonyoung had just said to him. Soonyoung had never spoken to the kid like that. He knew how hard Chan was on himself, and he’d gone out of his way to cause him more pain.
Chan disappeared from the practice room before Soonyoung could even open his mouth again, and as soon as Soonyoung realized what he had done, the burning in his eyes gave way to thick, hot tears that streamed down his face within seconds. He slid down to the mirror to sit on the floor, his head in his hands, finally breaking down completely.
Soonyoung was still wiping at his eyes when he dragged himself to the office where the meeting was being held.
He sobbed alone in the practice room for an entire hour before finally heading over - his eyes still burned, his throat was sore and his chest hurt a lot . Everything had crashed down on him at once, and he didn’t know how to stop. He didn’t know how to comfort himself, and he couldn’t bring himself to call any of his members or head back to the dorms, because they were all dealing with their own issues.
He wanted to apologize to Chan as soon as he saw him, but once he entered the room, he saw that most of their members were already there, and that wouldn’t even give Soonyoung a chance to say a thing. Especially if Chan had already told them about what happened.
Soonyoung took a seat farthest away from where Chan was, realizing he didn’t have the strength to even think about apologizing to him.
When he looked around at their team, he started to realize how much of a mess they really were.
Wonwoo was definitely sick - Soonyoung could see it just by looking at him, his arms crossed on the table and his head lying in them. He was surprised the latter even made it to the meeting - Soonyoung wished he would have noticed that the latter was sick before he got to his worst point. Maybe he could be resting, maybe he wouldn’t feel as bad.
Joshua looked fine, but Soonyoung saw him limping on his way in - Soonyoung felt guilty about it. Joshua was a great singer and amazing guitarist but wasn't too used to dancing, all of the moves they were doing must have really been hurting his knees. He should have been looking out for him more.
Seokmin and Seungkwan were whispering to each other. Seokmin looked a little better, and Seungkwan was absentmindedly rubbing at his shoulder, but it was back in place, so that was good. He smiled a little, but it faded as soon as his eyes saw Chan, who he skipped over as he observed everyone.
Hansol seemed okay. He had his headphones in most of the time, so it was hard to tell what he was thinking, but he never worried Soonyoung too much. He wasn’t as naive as Seungkwan or Chan.
Minghao - Soonyoung didn't know what to think of Minghao. He had only been with them for about two weeks and Soonyoung didn't know a thing about him, other than the fact that he didn't know Korean and he didn't hold up very long in practice.
Junhui wasn’t okay, Soonyoung knew that for sure. Mingming had been his best friend ever since the two met each other - they got along so well, they were really close, and they understood each other - but now, Mingming wasn’t there anymore, and in Mingming’s place was Minghao, a kid who seemed too nervous to even think about interacting with any of them, let alone with Junhui.
Soonyoung really hoped that they would become friends. He didn’t know how hard it was to be as far away from their homes as they were in a country that wasn’t familiar to them, but he knew that they needed each other.
Something was going on with Jeonghan. Soonyoung wasn't very close with him, but he heard him crying a few nights ago, and ever since then, Joshua had stuck really close by him. They both had such somber expressions on their faces since then, it made Soonyoung wonder if they were planning on leaving.
Mingyu looked torn. He was sitting in between Jeonghan and Wonwoo, and he looked like he wanted to say something - to speak to either of them, but he looked like he didn’t trust himself to. Mingyu didn’t like silence, and Soonyoung understood that more than anyone. Maybe he should have gone to sit with him.
Jihoon was expressionless as usual - he was probably overwhelmed as always, considering he was the one in charge of all of their music, but he kept it together well. Soonyoung wouldn’t be able to tell that he was overwhelmed just by looking at him - he knew because he had seen him at his worst.
Seungcheol was at the end of the table, near where their CEO would sit. He looked like he was giving up. That was the worst part.
"Are you okay?"
Soonyoung spun his head a little to fast to face the accented voice that spoke to him, and the white spots in his vision had him blinking at the latter for a few seconds before he answered.
"Oh - yeah. I'm okay."
He didn't even realize it was Minghao before he finally responded to him, which was kind of ridiculous, considering Minghao was the only one out of the fourteen - thirteen? - of them that had bleached hair.
Soonyoung really needed to sleep.
Minghao looked like he wanted to say something else, but his head turned when the door shut, and their CEO was suddenly in the room.
Soonyoung felt the tension rise. He felt his stomach churn. He wanted to go home.
Some of them eyed the CEO as he set his papers down and prepared himself, while the others eyed each other - Joshua had to signal Hansol to take his headphones off, because apparently, the kid hadn’t noticed that the CEO has entered the room, and Mingyu had to gently wake a very sleepy Wonwoo so his head wasn’t on the table.
In the midst of all of that, Soonyoung and Chan briefly made eye contact, and Soonyoung wanted to burst into tears again.
"We're pushing back the debut date,” their CEO said without missing a beat as he crossed his arms in front of them. “They’re thinking sometime May next year.”
Soonyoung blinked. What?
"Wait, why?" he blurted out, standing up from his seat as soon as he realized the rest of them were too afraid to speak up - even Seungcheol, who was just staring at the table.
"You know why. We didn't have a final lineup until a couple of days ago, and everything is off. There was supposed to be seventeen of you, and now there's only thirteen and we can't seem to keep any more than that. I don't know if you kids are scaring them away or what, but we have to change everything. The name goes too."
"But - our name is Seventeen . We decided that already,” Jihoon defended, sounding a little angry if Soonyoung had heard him right.
"You're Seventeen and there's only thirteen of you?" he spat back. “We can’t make that work at all. And thirteen just sounds ridiculous.”
"We'll work something out," Seungcheol spoke up, sternly. "We aren't changing the name. It's final."
"Fine. But that doesn’t change anything else. We can't finalize anything because the contracts aren't finished, and that still leaves room for more of you to drop out," he said bitterly, and Soonyoung felt the sting. He felt the tension build in the room following their CEO's statement. “I also know that you aren’t anywhere near ready to produce music. I haven’t heard anything from our producers or choreographer that you have presented anything to them, and it doesn’t make sense to debut you with rushed or unfinished work.”
The room fell silent again. Soonyoung knew that he was right. They had so much to do, it wouldn’t make sense to debut in less than two months like they wanted to, but that didn’t make it feel any better.
“There’s nothing else to discuss. You can have a rest day today, but starting tomorrow, it’s getting serious,” their CEO told them with a heavy sigh, and without another word, their CEO disappeared from the room.
It was silent for a while before a few of them started to chatter and get up out of the seats. Junhui was speaking Mandarin to Minghao, most likely translating what had just happened - Soonyoung didn’t even realize that Minghao probably didn’t understand a word of that. Jeonghan was helping Joshua out of the chair. Jihoon was whispering something to Seungcheol, and the rest of them were getting ready to leave.
As soon as Soonyoung stood up, he felt as if his entire world has turned upside down - his head was pounding in his ears and spinning so bad that he didn’t know which way was up anymore.
Soonyoung found himself halfway leaned against the wall as soon as he stepped foot out of the conference room, realizing that he probably wouldn’t be able to get very far on his own.
He felt someone grab his arm and say something to him, but they might as well have been speaking another language - Soonyoung wasn’t even able to tell at this point. He was trying so hard to keep himself upright, but at a certain point, he realized that he was definitely going to blackout.
He mumbled something back to whoever was fretting over him before his eyes rolled into the back of his head.
Soonyoung groaned as soon as he woke up.
It felt as if one of the kids had replaced his bones with lead to prank him. Of course he knew that wasn't the case - it was the hours upon hours upon hours of practicing dance and overworking his body that did this - but he was still tempted to ask the kids for his bones back.
Oh, god. They had all just seen him pass out, hadn't they?
The first thing Soonyoung did was turn himself over, his ears burning, heat pooling in his stomach. He didn't even really remember it happening, but god, he felt the embarrassment now. He hoped the CEO didn't see. He hoped that nothing embarrassing happened while he was unconscious - his stomach definitely didn't feel good, but he didn't know if throwing up while unconscious was even a thing. He hoped it wasn't. He hoped they didn't have to change him while he was unconscious, but his clothes felt different than before - they probably changed him into pajamas.
He really hoped that they would at least pretend like it didn't happen.
He was starting to realize that he must have been alone in the room, or at least, everyone that was there was sleeping - but the sun was definitely up, so it couldn't have been bedtime already.
It took him a few minutes to force himself out of bed - he really felt awful, his body hadn't hurt so much in such a long time. He was half tempted to just lie back down once he was finally sitting up, but his curiosity was too strong to just lie back down.
He checked around the bunk beds in their semi overcrowded bedroom - finding only Wonwoo sleeping in his bed. Normally their bedroom wasn't this empty, even in the middle of the day, but he figured the rest of them found other things to do to let the two of them sleep.
Soonyoung murmured a little sleep well to the already sleeping Wonwoo before tiptoeing out of the room, carefully shutting the door behind him.
He had to gather himself for a moment again, leaning against the wall - his vision was starting to spot. He probably hadn't had any water in a while, maybe grabbing a glass would be a good idea.
"Hyung, you're awake? Are you okay?" It was Hansol's voice, Soonyoung realized, but he couldn't focus on his face until Hansol grabbed his arm. His eyes were wide, curious, not too worried, thankfully.
"I'm okay. I think. Need water," Soonyoung mumbled, sliding back down against the wall, pressing a hand to his head. He really had some headache.
Hansol was kneeling in front of him soon enough with a glass of water that Soonyoung took with both hands, downing it within seconds, fast enough to make Hansol stare in awe. "Another?" Hansol asked, but Soonyoung shook his head.
"Where is everyone?" Soonyoung asked, eyeing Seungkwan, who cautiously approached him. Soonyoung decided to stay where he was on the floor for a few more minutes. The water already had him feeling a little better, but he wanted to give himself a little more time to adjust.
"Around. Wonwoo hyung is sleeping. Some of them went to eat, some went to the arcade. Some in the practice rooms. Seungkwan and I were watching TV," he explained, "since we got a day off today."
Soonyoung gave a little sigh of relief. That was good, so he wasn't missing anything too important.
He was going to ask something else, but the question died on his tongue when he remembered what had happened with Chan. His heart sank, and he chewed at his lip. He needed to go find him as soon as he could.
"Where's Channie?" Soonyoung asked after a handful of seconds of silence, lifting his head back up to look at Hansol.
"He's in the practice rooms, I think. I can go check," Hansol offered, already getting up to go look, but Soonyoung tugged at his hand to stop him.
"No, I can go. I needa talk to him," Soonyoung murmured, reaching his arms up for some help standing, and Hansol and Seungkwan each took a hand to help him up. He was a little wobbly at first, but the vision spots weren’t as bad as before, so that was something.
"Why do you need to talk to him?" Seungkwan asked, tilting his head with a hint of worry in his eyes.
"I yelled at him," Soonyoung admitted quietly, embarrassed as soon as the words left his mouth. Sure, they all bickered and argued from time to time, but he hoped that Hansol and Seungkwan knew that it was more than that. And if they didn’t, Soonyoung wasn’t really in the mood to explain it. "He didn't say anything?"
"No, he didn't. He was acting a little weird, though..." Seungkwan answered, his words trailing off a little. "Do you need help getting down there?"
"No, I'm okay. Thanks, guys," Soonyoung murmured, lifting his head to smile before heading off to the practice rooms.
They weren't far, thankfully. About a block down the street in the company building. If it was any further, he would've probably asked one of the kids to carry him there.
Soonyoung was angry with himself. He knew how Chan could get. He knew how tough he could be on himself, he knew how personally he took things, regardless of the situation. He had always been bad about overthinking himself into a hole, and no matter how many times Soonyoung managed to talk him down, that habit never quite went away.
Soonyoung didn’t expect it to. Chan was just a kid.
Once he opened the door to the main room, his heart dropped when he found Chan kneeled down on the floor of the practice room, a pencil in his hand, papers sprawled out all in front of him. Completely alone. So immersed in what he was doing that he didn’t even notice Soonyoung walk in. Too distracted by the Michael Jackson playlist booming from the speaker to hear the door open.
This felt awfully familiar.
Chan’s head shot up as soon as he heard his name through the music. He looked confused at first, then worried, then scrambling over to the speaker to turn the music down.
“Hyung, are you okay? Seungcheol hyung said you were really sick, shouldn’t you be sleeping? Why are you here?” Chan started, shuffling the papers on the floor around to get them into one stack. Soonyoung quickly realized that Chan didn’t want the older to see what he was doing.
“What are you doing?” Soonyoung asked him, carefully approaching and kneeling down across from him, his head tilted at the stack of papers that Chan was now holding to his chest. Chan sheepishly put down the papers again, separating two or three of them so that Soonyoung could see, and it didn’t take him too long to realize that Chan was drawing out choreography sketches.
Because Soonyoung told him that he doesn’t do anything.
“I just thought I could help a little. I’m not done, but, I don’t know. I had some ideas I wanted to show you, if you were interested,” Chan explained meekly, gathering his papers again, turning them over so Soonyoung couldn’t see, “not now, though. Cause I’m not done.”
Soonyoung just started crying.
Chan’s eyes went wide as soon as he realized what was happening, and Soonyoung rubbed at his eyes, trying to make himself stop. “Hyung, I…” Chan murmured, wasting no time in crawling over to wrap his arms around Soonyoung. He felt so stupid. Why on earth was he crying? He was the one who had yelled at Chan. He was the one who had bullied him into doing this. He was a horrible friend.
“I’m so sorry, Channie, I - ” he murmured, choking on his words halfway through, “I didn’t mean what I said. That was so stupid, I just - I was just frustrated, I didn’t mean...you don’t have to do this. I don’t want you to feel like you have to do any of this.”
Chan squeezed him a little harder, quiet for a few seconds before he said anything. “I know you didn’t mean it, hyung, but I wanna help you. I wanna be useful, too.”
“You are useful, Chan - ”
“No, hyung. I don’t do anything. I know you didn’t mean what you said in a mean way, but you were right. I’m a kid that no one trusts anything with,” Chan said - he sounded sad, but his words were honest. He wasn’t putting himself down, he wasn’t looking for sympathy, he was just trying to explain himself. “And...I don’t wanna see you like that again, hyung, it was really scary. I wanna help you so that doesn’t happen again.”
Soonyoung sobbed again, and Chan hugged him tighter, comfortingly rubbing his back. That kid was so damn sweet.
“Thank you, Channie,” Soonyoung mumbled, squeezing him back a little, too - and after a few minutes of sitting there with him, he realized that Chan had started crying, too.
Of course, at that point, Soonyoung went into hyung mode immediately. He wiped at Chan’s eyes, cupped his cheeks, patted his hair and told him that he loved him - the kid wasn’t sobbing like Soonyoung just had, but the tears were still there.
Soonyoung didn’t know what he would do without Chan. If he didn’t have him, he couldn’t do this.
“Can you show me? Maybe we can go to one of the small rooms and work on these together,” Soonyoung suggested, giving him a little half-smile - probably looking ridiculous, with his disheveled hair and tear-stained face. But he knew Chan didn’t care.
“Hyung, you still feel warm. You should rest,” Chan insisted with a worried little sigh.
“Come on, just for a little? I won’t do anything. I just want you to show me,” Soonyoung told him kindly, “you can’t expect me to go back to sleep after finding out you’re making choreography. I won’t be able to sleep.”
The smile that grew on Chan’s face warmed Soonyoung’s heart so much that he felt as if he would start crying again. Chan just wanted to feel useful and appreciated, just like Soonyoung did. That was all. “Really?” he asked as if he wasn’t sure if Soonyoung was joking or not.
“Why would I be joking? Come on,” Soonyoung said, standing with Chan’s hand in his, stumbling back a little from the dizziness before Chan steadied him.
“Okay. But you’ll rest more after, okay? No working today,” Chan clarified, purposefully dropping the ‘hyung’ as if to sound more authoritative.
“Okay, hyung.” Soonyoung teased, getting that sweet little smile out of Chan one more time.
He really needed to see that more often.