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Stargazing

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Performing was exhilarating, shockwaves that started in his toes and sizzled their way up to the top of his head. The loud shouts of the fans, the silence of the stage, and the harsh, nervous breathing of his members made the adrenaline spike and explode through his being. There was no movement save for the excitement of the crowd, and yet Chenle still felt as if he’d just finished a marathon.

The music began with the harsh beats of drums, and he moved to stand in formation in sync with his members. Jeno took center stage, with Chenle just to the left as they began the opening sequence. Some say that the difference in style was the most evident at that moment, with Jeno’s commanding and fierce body roll contrasting the younger’s flowy, graceful one. 

Chenle moved off to the side, watching as Donghyuck moved to take the center from Jeno. The mint-haired boy was still amazed by the way Donghyuck’s voice resounded so clearly through the stadium. It was flawless, layering over the original recording with a harmony that made Chenle’s ears tingle. Even as he moved to continue the dance, he was in awe of his voice, and Renjun’s taking over was just as mesmerizing. 

Chenle couldn’t deny that his favorite part of performing, was actually getting to perform. He took his place with a smile and allowed the energy to guide his movements. Renjun and Jeno moved in sync with him, their dance highlighted by Chenle’s stable voice harmonizing with the original recording. He felt satisfied as the focus shifted from him to Donghyuck, and he allowed himself to fall back into the neverending awe of his members. 

Jaemin commanded the stage well, Chenle knew. His captivating smile and new pink hair left everyone with weak legs, and his voice was solid and boomed through the stadium. The fanatic screams in the crowd left the boy with a broad smile, and Chenle noticed that his dancing was a bit more fierce than it had begun. 

When it was Jisung’s turn to stand center, Chenle had to retract his previous thought. His favorite part of performing had to be watching Jisung dance as if he had been born for no other purpose. 

Jisung was powerful and strong, but graceful and elegant in a way Chenle had yet to see in another dancer. The young Taemin, but all he could see was the uniqueness of Park Jisung. His feet hit the ground with enough force to shake the room. Still, he made no sound. His movements were sharp yet somehow fluid, and everything came together so beautifully that it was a wonder anyone could look away.

Even when Chenle and Jisung had their special duet together, he wondered if anyone spared him a glance. 

The rest of the performance went by in a similar state of observation and performing. Up until Jisung’s hand was laid shoulder, and they were marching their way toward the end of the song. Chenle finished out his last line and settled down in his final pose, smile settled proudly on his face. They’d done it. Another performance in the bag, more screaming fans happy, and hopefully satisfied managers waiting for them off stage.  

Mark was ushered off immediately after Dream exited the stage, a video of their performance for him to critique awaiting him in one of the staff waiting rooms. Their leader had skipped off behind a tight-lipped, but smiling, manager, and Chenle could feel the positive energy buzzing through the air. 

“You look pleased,” Jisung plopped down on the couch with a huff, sweat trickling down his face to splotch the white of his shirt. Chenle beamed, his shoulders shrugging up as he settled back into the soft, expensive material behind him. 

“I am. We did really well today,” Chenle responded. Jisung gave him a grin that dulled in comparison to any outside observer, but to Chenle, that small upturned lip meant more than all the teeth a more massive smile would’ve shown off. 

“I feel like I messed up on--”

“Nope, you did great. Don’t start knocking yourself,” Chenle shot up out of his seat to cover Jisung’s mouth. The younger glared at him, his tongue snaking out to leave a wet stripe up Chenle’s palm. The mint-haired boy shrieked and wiped the defiled appendage on Jisung’s nice jacket, not caring what the stylists would think. 

“I don’t know how you can feel so confident,” It was strange to hear the awe in Jisung’s voice. Usually, it was Chenle amazed by Jisung. 

“I don’t know if I am. I just know to always smile,” Chenle answered honestly. Brown eyes looked deep into brown, and for a few minutes, the chaos of dressing, makeup, and last-minute practices died out. Everything became quiet, soothingly so. It was just Chenle and Jisung; Chenji, the single entity made from quiet nights and stressful days. 


 

Chenle caught himself watching Jisung as they tried on their outfits for their upcoming music video shoot. 

His hair, freshly styled, curled elegantly in a middle part. Chenle always favored Jisung’s natural hair, but the sunkissed blonde, just a shade lighter, accentuated the boy’s features beautifully. His eyes wandered to the dark, sapphire blue turtleneck that hugged Jisung’s slender neck and fell messily over his torso. It looked aesthetic when paired with the even deeper blue uniform jacket, emblazoned with the face of a roaring lion just under the right upper pocket. His lithe, tall body was accentuated by the tasteful use of tight black pants, and the black Chelsea’s added another inch that the boy didn’t need but worked exquisitely with the rest of the look. 

He looked stunning, and Chenle was struck dumb. He didn’t realize that Jisung had been watching him back until he returned his gaze to the taller boy’s face. 

“Does it look nice?” Jisung scuffed his Chelsea’s on the tiled floor, and Chenle was lost for words. There were so many things he could say, you’re gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, but none of them wanted to come out in the open. 

“You look--” Chenle waved his hands around as if he would find the words hidden in the air. “Perfect.” Jisung looked down bashfully, pink-tinted cheeks pulled up in an embarrassed smile. 

“You too,” Jisung’s voice cracked, but neither of them paid it any mind. Renjun would say later that they had smiled the dopiest smiles, before finally pointing in opposite directions and leaving the other flushed and giddy. 

It was -- apparently -- the most disgusting display of PDA Renjun had ever seen. Chenle thought that nothing was worse than Mark and Donghyuck when given more than five minutes alone.


It was during an impromptu game of karaoke at the dorm that Chenle caught Jisung staring at him. 

He and Renjun had been belting out the lines to Boss, the dance flowing smoothly thanks to their countless hours of obsession. They moved in sync, their voices were on pitch and easy on the ears despite their out of breath excitement. Mark, Donghyuck, and Jeno were all whooping and bopping to the beat, encouraging them with periodic shouts and fan chants that they’d picked up from concerts. 

Jisung and Jaemin, however, were sitting on their worn, tattered couch. They bopped their heads to the beat, but they didn’t join the wild moshpit their three friends had created. Chenle’s eyes lingered a bit too long on Jisung’s relaxed frame, and that’s when it hit him.

Jisung was watching him, and not in the same way his three friends jumping around in front of him were. 

His brown eyes were gentle but piercing, his irises visibly moving with each change in position Chenle made. It must have been evident that Chenle noticed; he’d faltered on a simple move and almost missed his cue to sing, but Jisung didn’t try to hide it. He quirked his lips at the embarrassed flush on Chenle’s cheeks and kept staring. 

Renjun and Chenle finished the dance, one with more finesse than the other. Renjun joined in with the three still standing, a conversation picking up as they filtered off toward Jeno and Jaemin’s shared room. Eventually, Jaemin bid Jisung a goodnight and followed, a sideways glance at Chenle leaving him feeling exposed and a bit nervous. 

Jisung sat still on the couch, and Chenle stayed rooted to the ground where he’d been dancing beside Renjun. Socked feet scuffed the carpeted floor as a thick tension settled over them. Chenle didn’t know where the strain had come from, but it felt as if he could drag his fingers through the air, and they’d come up dirty. He could taste it when he opened his mouth to inhale, the sweet taste of honey with the heaviness of molasses. 

“Can I talk to you?” Jisung coughed, his gaze falling to the loose string in his pants. There was a pause before Chenle worked up the courage to plant himself next to his friend -- his best friend -- on the couch.

“I was wondering--” Jisung bit his lip, looking everywhere but at the boy sitting directly beside him. Chenle wanted to reach out a hand to soothe him, but his nerves kept them still in his lap. “--if you wanted to go on a date. With me.” Jisung added the last part as if it were an afterthought.

Chenle felt his mouth drop. A date with his best friend. 

It didn’t sound too bad.

“Yeah, I’d like that,” Chenle answered quickly. It had taken years to get to the point he was comfortable admitting his to his crush on Jisung, and half that time to feel comfortable with the fact that nothing would ever come out of it. 

Hopefully, it took no time at all to get used to the fact that something good may just take nothing’s place. 


 A week later, it was back to practicing for their next comeback, their first without Mark.

Chenle would’ve loved to be fully immersed in the dance, but there was something more pressing commanding his attention. 

His chest hurt.

It had only been half an hour, long enough to run through the dance three times all the way through, and he felt as if he’d run ten miles without a break. He was out of breath, his throat aching and dry when it was time to go again. They got into position, and it became painfully apparent that Chenle was the only one struggling. 

Usually, Chenle used his idle standing time in performances to sneak glances at his members. Jisung had a center part early on in the song, but air refused to reach his lungs, and that drowned out everything else. His chest was tight; someone could settle a fifty-pound weight on top of him, and he could argue that it would feel no different. 

Chenle moved to the front as his solo part came up, the rest of the members falling into step behind him. Even if Chenle didn’t have the chance to look at his members, they had all the opportunity to look at him. 

The usually easy, fluid moves of the lead up to the chorus became a challenge. Chenle couldn’t pretend to sing through his gasping, the words in the recording drowned underneath the forced exhales. Every part of him was shaking like a hummingbird’s wings, uncoordinated and useless.

It was Donghyuck who called the break, and it took only a moment’s thought before Chenle was running as fast as his legs could manage toward the bathroom. He could hear feet pounding after him, but his only cohesive thought was to find a toilet before he threw up that morning’s breakfast all over the freshly cleaned floors. 

Chenle ran into the bathroom before falling to his knees. A small heave was all his body needed before all he’d eaten splattered on the white porcelain before him. A hand was carding through his hair, deep whispers of comfort brushing against his ears. 

He couldn’t breathe, his stomach barely giving him enough time to pull in a small exhale before he was throwing up again. Once, twice, three times, his body convulsed, before it stopped as suddenly as it started. No clear bile, no smaller amount of fluid, just finished like someone put a cap back on an exploding soda. 

He gasped and lifted himself, shakily, away from the toilet. Jisung was beside him with a wet towel to pat his face clean, and a hand around his shoulder to keep him steady. 

He still couldn’t breathe. 

“Are you alright, baby?” Jisung put his hand to Chenle’s heaving chest, rubbing soothing circles over the aching muscles. 

“Can’t breathe,” Chenle choked out, pulling a desperate inhale through his nose. 

“I’m going to go get Renjun-hyung, okay?” Jisung stood up and ran, his voice echoing down the hallway as he shouted for help. Chenle had wanted to grab onto him, but his arms wouldn’t move from where they were still propped against the toilet. 

Chenle tried to lift his head to stare at the door, but all that greeted him was the fuzzy outline of the cubicle. He blinked slowly, his eyelids staying glued together. His head hit the toilet seat as his body crumbled to the ground, the sound of the door opening muffled and far away. 


 “Breathe in.”

Chenle inhaled for the fiftieth time in the last five minutes, his brain already foggy and dizzy. The doctor moved the stethoscope to another part of his back and repeated the same line. Chenle inhaled and exhaled as he watched the clock tick. It was getting close to lunch, and Renjun had promised to take him out for something delicious. 

“Let’s get something good for lunch, yeah? Everything will be alright,” Chenle thought back to the ride from the studio to the hospital. They’d had to place something -- he couldn’t pronounce it in Korean no matter how hard he tried -- in his nose to help him breathe, and he’d only just managed to feel comfortable as they arrived. 

“One more time,” The doctor instructed, and Chenle inhaled with new vigor. The man removed the instrument off his back and stalked away, leaving the now orange-haired boy enough freedom to settle back on the bed as he waited. Jaemin and Renjun were settled in chairs against the wall, their eyes trained on the doctor.

Renjun looked like he wanted to say something, perhaps something about making the boy dizzy after he’d just fainted. He was settled back in the chair with his right leg crossed on top of his left, pointer finger pressed to his lips as he glared at the back of the man’s balding head. Jaemin, however, was puckering his lips and sending the boy finger hearts to try and get him to laugh. Chenle rolled his eyes but smiled despite himself.

“I’ll be back in five minutes,” The man exited the room with no other words. Renjun scoffed and unfolded himself.

“We’re fine, we don’t need to know what you’re doing. He only fainted after not being able to breathe for half an hour,” Renjun grumbled, throwing his hands up. Jaemin smiled sadly at the smaller man, his arm snaking around lithe shoulders to try and soothe him. 

“It’s okay, Ge,” Chenle said in Chinese. Renjun’s face stayed parallel to the floor, but his eyes looked up to catch the other boy’s. Always so worried, Chenle thought. “I’m sure he has a lot of patients. It must be hard to handle it all.” 

“Then he shouldn’t be a doctor,” Renjun bit. “I want to know what’s going on.” 

“We will,” Chenle tried to appease. “Can you hold my hand?” If there was anything that would make Renjun break out of his shell, it was Chenle’s vulnerability act. The smaller was up almost instantly, Jaemin’s hand dropping dramatically. 

“I’m sorry, Lele. I’m just--”

“Worried. I know, you’re a good older brother,” Chenle smiled sweetly. Renjun looked down bashfully, but it was clear that he had broken through another of Renjun’s walls. 

Fifteen minutes later, the doctor returned with a white box and several sheets of paper. He placed the documents on the gleaming counter and opened the box, a small, blue inhaler in his hands. 

“This is an albuterol inhaler. Use it before any strenuous exercise,” The doctor explained, holding it up for everyone to see. “I’m going to stress the strenuous part. I don’t advise using this daily. You can become tolerant to it. Do about ten to fifteen minutes of varied warm-ups before exercise. I’d like to see you get and use a humidifier as well. It’ll help your respiratory system. Try to wear a mask if it’s cold or dry out. Warm, humid air will be the best for you,” The man explained. Chenle was struggling, his lack of Korean skills striking him. 

“I’m sorry, you’re speaking to fast,” Chenle said, holding his head down sheepishly. He didn’t want to see the annoyed look he knew the man would be wearing.

“It’s okay, I got everything,” Jaemin said, rubbing his hand soothingly up Chenle’s back. “I’ll explain it to him.”

“Okay,” The man shrugged and grabbed the papers. “These are your check-out papers. Hand these to the woman at window two, and you should be all set.” The man looked right past Chenle to hand the paperwork to Jaemin. All three of them bowed as he exited, but none of them immediately made to leave.

“Did he say what’s wrong with me?” Chenle asked. He was still unsure about the instrument the man had passed to him at some point during his clipped sentenced speech. 

“No, but the paper says Exercise-Induced Asthma,” Renjun explained in Chinese, reading over the check-out papers with furrowed brows.

“Do you not agree?” Chenle’s voice was small and weak. He didn’t like the way Renjun was looking at the papers with something akin to distrust. It was like everything he was reading was preposterous, the information given by someone incompetent. 

“He doesn’t have that you threw up on here, or that you couldn’t breathe properly for half an hour. Far before we began anything strenuous,” Renjun complained. Jaemin placed a hand on the elder’s shoulder and shook his head. Chenle could read the body language. Not here. 

Jaemin helped Chenle hop off the paper-covered bed, the crinkles piercing through the thick worry seeping off Renjun. They made their way out of the room in silence, Jaemin only saying a few words to the receptionist before they were hopping in their car and driving home.

They should be happy. Exercise-induced asthma was something easy to handle. As long as Chenle always had his inhaler on him and followed the rest of the advice, there should be no problems. He didn’t think their managers would be concerned or angry; there were plenty of idols with asthma that continued to perform well. 

Chenle couldn’t get passed Renjun’s reaction easy enough to feel relief. He couldn’t read the detailed report very well, but the thought that certain things had been omitted felt strange. He couldn’t imagine a reason why his throwing up would be throw away information, but Chenle wasn’t a doctor, and he didn’t know how the process worked. 

Jisung had run to him before the car had a chance to come to a complete stop. He pulled the door open and crashed his body onto Chenle’s, his long arms wrapped impossibly tight around smaller shoulders.

“You’re shaking, baby,” Jisung whispered thickly, his tears running in rivulets down Chenle’s neck. 

“It’s been a scary day,” Chenle said, using the lull in conversation to bury his face in Jisung’s neck. The younger didn’t flinch when the other’s hands found their way inside his hoodie, cold and shaking. 

“Go cuddle him,” Jaemin whispered into Jisung’s ear just loud enough for Chenle to hear.

His day ended wrapped up in his boyfriend’s arms, tears left in the backseat of their car.


 Chenle wheezed his way through their fourth run-through of Boom. 

Their choreographer was watching him with slitted eyes, finger hovering dangerously over the pause button. Chenle stared back, willing him to just allow them to finish despite his apparent struggling. They would never end at the rate they were going, and he refused to be the cause.

He pulled out his inhaler on one of his idle parts, puffing the medicine into his lungs and hoping that that one would be the one that works. He’d already used it three times within the past hour and a half, and it had only given him minor relief. He was back dancing when his part came up, but he still couldn’t pretend to sing. His airway felt so tight a ramen noodle couldn’t fit through. 

“Chenle,” The choreographer said, pushing pause. None of the members showed annoyance, but he could feel it in the air. He could see it in the way they scraped the ground with the toes of their shoes, the way their eyes met each other’s as they broke formation. Chenle looked down and clasped his hands together. “I’d like you to sit down until you can take your next dose.”

Their manager found him in the breakroom, desperately trying to pull air into his lungs twenty minutes later. He sat down heavily, but Chenle didn’t look up. His vision began to blur, and his head was far too heavy. 

“Are you taking it correctly?” The manager asked.

“Yes, exactly as the doctor told me,” Chenle was exasperated. It wasn’t the first time he’d been asked that question, and likely not the last. No matter how many times their manager read the instructions and observed Chenle himself, he still couldn’t accept that it wasn’t user error. 

“You’ve been keeping up with your diet?” 

“Yes,” Chenle wheezed and bent in on himself. 

“This needs to get better soon. If it doesn’t, you’ll be watching your friends from the audience,” The sound of the door opening and closing felt like a strange sense of finality. They were done accommodating him. He was a nuisance, nothing more than a lump of a body that couldn’t even breathe right.

They would kick him out, no doubt. If he couldn’t get his asthma under control, all that he’d worked for would be taken from him. He’d be sent home to China with nothing but the knowledge that he hadn’t been enough, and it was all his fault. His parents would be so disappointed. They’d always been so proud of him, and he was letting them down.

All because his lungs didn’t want to work with him.


 Mark was with him the second time he visited the doctor.

It was less dramatic that time; his manager had scheduled the appointment after the fifth consecutive practice he was forced to sit out, and Mark drove him. They sat in the waiting room for fifteen minutes and were seen in thirty. 

The same doctor from the first visit entered the room with a tray of instruments and vials. Chenle looked at them wide-eyed, his hands grasping at the paper underneath him. Mark gave him a warm smile and took his hand.

“We’re going to run a blood test today,” The doctor looked at Mark. He must have remembered the last time when Chenle couldn’t understand him. How embarrassing. 

Chenle squeezed Mark’s hand tight as he wrapped the rubber just above his elbow, the feeling of that alone enough to induce panic. He hated needles, especially ones that had to stay for long periods. 

“You’re alright, Lele,” Mark whispered to him as the doctor placed the needle. Chenle flinched, gripping Mark’s hand tight enough to ache. He bit back the tears pushing behind his eyes, and before long, the man had two vials of blood and was removing the tourniquet from his arm. 

“If I’m having trouble breathing, what will blood tell you?” Chenle asked curiously, but the man didn’t respond. He placed the vials in their respective spots and removed his gloves, tossing them in the trash. 

“He’s busy, Lele,” Mark tried to explain the hurt away, but it still stung. Chenle didn’t like being ignored, especially when it was something to do with his health. He wanted to know. 

“I’ll be back with your check-out paperwork,” The man said, turning toward the door. 

Chenle didn’t look up until something circular and colorful was placed in front of his face. He smiled at the doctor and took the grape lollipop out of his hand. 


 Jisung always looked stunning.

It was Saturday night, eight pm. The sky was dark blue with splotches of dark grey clouds, and a few blinking stars fighting to be seen. There was a sliver of pink and orange from where the sun had dipped below the horizon. Any other day, Chenle would boast about the beauty of such a sight. 

That night, however, Jisung stole the spotlight from all of the skyward wonders. 

The boy’s freshly dyed blue hair stood out amongst the dark blues of the sky, illuminated by the porchlight just outside the dorm’s front entrance. His makeup, done by Jaemin, made his face sparkle brighter than any star he’d ever seen in Seoul or Shanghai. He was wearing a blue and red floral bandana tied around his neck like a choker, and his white shirt fell just far enough to show off a bit of collarbone. The look was finished off with his black pants that hugged his legs and a pair of black converse. 

Chenle knew he had a problem with staring, but something was endearing about the way Jisung would always wring his hands and blush madly whenever he stared just a bit too long. 

“You look beautiful,” Chenle smiled wide, taking in the outfit once more. Jisung’s body was worthy of all the stares, but for one night, Chenle allowed himself to think the other boy was his to admire. 

“You too,” Jisung whispered awkwardly. Chenle giggled and came to stand next to the taller boy, only taking a moment before he was on his tippy toes. He pressed a chaste kiss to Jisung’s cheek, reveling in the heat he’d caused. Jisung was so cute. 

“Where are we going then?” Chenle asked, fiddling with the sleeves of his blue, fuzzy sweater. Jisung was staring at him, openly and unabashedly. It made his cheeks warm, and he wondered if he looked more like tomatoes or strawberries. Jisung was, for sure, a strawberry, the ripe ones that taste the sweetest. 

“I thought we could go get ice cream,” Jisung said, pulling his eyes away from Chenle’s outfit. The two stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment, before both of them were giggling awkwardly, hands pulled up to their faces. 

“Sounds nice,” Chenle smiled, fixing his white turtleneck. Jisung moved to help him, the tips of his fingers leaving burning tracks all along Chenle’s neck. His face had to be deep red by then, probably enough to rival the coldest star in the sky. 

They walked hand in hand to the ice cream shop five minutes from their dorm. They talked about work, school, and a few times they stopped long enough to admire a puppy racing down the street. It was the same one each time, fluffy and white, with its tongue sticking out. It reminded them of Shanghai when Jisung had jumped, and Chenle had laughed at him because who’s afraid of a puppy?

The doorbell tinkled as they opened the door into the chilly shop. There were few people there, so it was nice and quiet with plenty of seats open. They ordered their ice cream, and Jisung whipped out his card to pay for both at the last second. Chenle slapped him in the chest but smiled graciously anyway. 

“By the window?” Jisung asked, taking both of their cups to carry. Chenle nodded and lead them over to a nice booth looking out over the park outside. Jisung settled himself directly across from the other boy, sliding him the ice cream dramatically. Chenle didn’t think he’d ever giggled like a schoolgirl more in his life. 

“It’s a nice night,” Chenle said, taking a spoonful of his ice cream. Jisung stared at him before shaking his head. “What?”

“We’ve known each other for years. You don’t need to small talk me,” Jisung said, wiping a bit of cream off of Chenle’s bottom lip. The burning in his cheeks was back tenfold.

“Okay, did you ever break your losing streak on Arena of Valor?” That led to an easy hour of exclamations about bad teammates, overpowered champions, and explaining that it was far easier to play AoV than League of Legends on Chenle’s side. 

They had gotten to the bottom of their bowls when Chenle felt it. That tightening in his chest. He tried to cough through it, breathing in through his nose and out his mouth to try and stave it off. Jisung trailed off after a while, noticing the struggled inhales and exhales.

“Are you okay?” Jisung asked worriedly, already moving to stand. 

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Chenle said, reaching into his back pocket for his inhaler.

It wasn’t there. He’d left it on his bed, all the way back at the dorm.

“Did you forget it?” Jisung stood up from his seat and rounded the table, supporting hands under Chenle’s armpits.

“It’s on my bed,” Chenle gasped, hand pressed to his sternum. It hurt so bad already. The walls were turning from a nicely colored pastel green and pink to a blurry mix of the two. The lights felt ten times brighter, fluorescent instead of how they were made to be. Relaxing, perfect for a night out. 

“Let’s go--Chenle!” Jisung shouted as Chenle’s legs gave out, his body hitting the ground with a loud thud. He could hear the patrons screaming, asking for an ambulance. The last thing he held onto was the sound of Jisung telling him everything was going to be okay, that they’d get help.

His chest gave one final lurch before everything went black.


 Chenle woke up in a bleak, dull hospital room. The room lights had been turned off, so the only visibility came from the rays of the hallway. His door was cracked open, but he couldn’t see anything outside of it. He felt dizzy and nauseous. He wanted Kun or Mark. Renjun and Jisung. He wanted his mom.

He laid still for a moment, and before long, he saw a man in a flappy white coat stop just outside his room. Chenle stared as Taeyong, Mark, and his manager came into view. They were being told something terrible, he could tell by the way Mark crumbled in on himself, sobs loud enough to be heard from his bed escaping from his mouth. 

He started crying long before Mark ran to him, his arms wrapped so tightly around Chenle he thought he might suffocate. Taeyong held his hand, and their manager stood a few paces back to give them space. 

“We’ll figure this out, everything will be okay,” Mark sobbed, brushing his hands through the boy’s dyed hair. Chenle didn’t know what would be okay, or what they’d figure out, but he’d already begun wondering if he was right or wrong.

It was only when Mark calmed enough that Taeyong could pull him away from that their manager stepped forward. He settled on Chenle’s bed, one foot hanging off, and took the young boy’s hand in his own. He took a long, deep breath, and looked into Chenle’s red eyes.

“The CT scan they gave you when you arrived showed a tumor in your trachea,” Their manager said, and Mark was crying again. Chenle’s lip wobbled, and his hands shook as they came up to cover his face. “I’m sorry, Chenle.” 

Who would’ve thought that Renjun’s distrust could have been right?