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We all live for the day

They’ll be screaming our names

So we keep on keep on keep on

Changkyun never thought that it would be this hard.

He’d heard the horror stories, of course, of idols working unimaginable hours, of idols destroying themselves in order to cultivate the perfect image of themselves, of idols giving up. But he never let those stop him, only using them as motivation to work harder, to be better.

After No.Mercy, Changkyun had thought he had overcome the most difficult hurdle. He had fought his hardest to achieve his goal—getting into a group—but he was wrong to think that that would be the worst part.

No, from there onward, it was a continuous uphill battle.

Somewhere in the back of his brain, he had hoped that he wouldn’t have to go through this battle alone—that for once in his life, it wouldn’t be just him. But of course, it was his life he was living, so he had to continue alone.

It wasn’t as though he had assumed all the tension would dissipate after the ending of No.Mercy, but he hadn’t imagined that everyone would still hate him.

Well… everyone was a slight exaggeration. Kihyun was probably the nicest towards him, though even then, he only tolerated Changkyun more than anything. He mothered all of them. And while Changkyun wasn’t an exception, it never really felt the same.

The rest of the group, however, was a completely different story.

Jooheon was understandably upset that he and Gunhee hadn’t debuted together. Changkyun had ignorantly hoped the tentative friendship he and Jooheon had formed working together during the show would’ve lingered even after. Of course, he couldn’t get that lucky.

Hyunwoo was indifferent towards him, but his lack of interaction hurt just as much. Hyungwon, Minhyuk, and Hoseok were the most hostile towards him, though all for different reasons that Changkyun still couldn’t fully understand.

It had been nearly 7 months since the end of No.Mercy, but it feels as though nothing has changed.

Aside from necessary conversations, Changkyun was ignored by the rest of the group. The more intense hatred that had existed early-on had, thankfully, seemed to dissipate, aside from the occasional glare from Minhyuk or Hoseok when he fumbled a line or spoke out of turn.

With the cold weather outside and the cold attitudes surrounding him, it wasn’t a surprise that Changkyun had been feeling run-down for quite a while.

Hero and Rush had some of the most intense choreography they’d ever done. Just thinking about the practically constant dance practice made him feel his true exhaustion.

Every single day was the same as the last, a painful, never-ending cycle. Wake up at the crack of dawn, choke down breakfast if he had a moment and if there was even any food left, then off to the studio, and then dance practice until late into the night. Despite the amount of effort each day took, sometimes Changkyun didn’t even feel it, his mind numb.

Maybe that was why he ended up here right now: on a bench in the back of the practice room, foot elevated on a stack of sweatshirts, with tension filling the air.

It had just been another run through of Hero, it wasn’t anything different than what they had been doing for months now, but somehow, Changkyun still managed to screw up.

Just like you always do.

When he’d been running to the back of the formation, as normal, a severe pain had shot up his right leg like fire.

He’d stumbled, crashing into Minhyuk. Minhyuk had yelled out, obviously not having expected a whole Changkyun to fall right onto him. Everyone had stopped in their tracks.

With the words to Hero still blaring off the practice room walls, everyone stared at Changkyun. He still hadn’t gotten up, slumped on the sweat-covered floor.

Hyunwoo had taken action first, walking until he was right in front of Changkyun.

“Changkyun, what was that?” he asked, his tone sharp, though if someone were to be listening closely, they could hear the concern underlying in his voice.

Honestly, Changkyun had no idea what happened either. The pain in his leg persisted, though he wasn’t sure where it was exactly. It wasn’t as though a certain part of his leg, like his knee or his ankle, was hurting more than the rest of it.

And he had admitted as much to Hyunwoo, while attempting to hide his discomfort from his voice.

It was obvious that it didn’t work—both Hyunwoo and Kihyun made the executive decision that Changkyun had to sit out for the rest of practice and that afterwards one of the members would escort him to the company’s doctor.

And so here he was, awkwardly sitting on an uncomfortably narrow bench, his right leg still throbbing in pain. He just wanted to sleep. But every time he felt himself nodding off, the music would blare and he would jerk awake.

Kihyun had given him an ice pack, though Changkyun wasn’t really sure it was helping much, considering how it’d melted almost an hour ago.

It was reaching nearly ten in the evening, and Changkyun had been lying there for almost four hours. While he was grateful for the break, he wished he could have at least some form of distraction.

Suddenly, he felt a tentative poke at his shoulder, and Changkyun jolted away from his spot against the wall.

Without him even realizing it, dance practice had ended and the music had been cut. Changkyun stared blankly at Kihyun, whose hand was still hovering near Changkyun’s shoulder, before carefully clearing his throat.

“What’s going on?” Changkyun grimaced at his own voice, raspiness making him sound angrier than he was. Which was to say that he wasn’t angry at all.

Kihyun gently bit at his lip before answering.

“Dance practice is done, but...” Kihyun paused, as if unsure of what to say. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully as he continued. “Hyunwoo-hyung told Manager-hyung that we would be taking you to see the doctor, but Manager-hyung insisted that it wasn't necessary. He also said you had to continue dancing tomorrow, even after we tried to convince him not to make you. I’m sorry.”

Changkyun furrowed his brow, the guilt seeping into Kihyun’s words confusing him.

“Hyung, why are you apologizing? You don’t control Manager-hyung’s decisions. Besides, he’s probably right, I probably just didn’t stretch properly or something,” Changkyun said, hoping to soothe Kihyun’s worries.

But if anything, Kihyun looked even more distressed, since he continued to wring his hands

“Changkyun, I—,” Kihyun stopped himself. He takes a breath and continues, “Well, regardless of what he says, the group decided it would be better if Hoseok-hyung carried you back to the dorm. Just in case,” he added on, seeing Changkyun’s disgruntled expression at being told he would be carried.

As if summoned by Kihyun’s words, Hoseok popped up behind Kihyun, a slight smile on his face.

“Come on, Changkyun, let hyung help you out,” he said softly, shocking Changkyun.

Hoseok had never been this nice to him, ever. He wasn’t sure what had spurred this sudden 180 in attitude, though he suspected Kihyun had a large hand in it.

Regardless, with some help from Kihyun, he was on Hoseok’s back within minutes, his hands wrapped loosely around Hoseok’s neck.

While the two walked out of the room, Changkyun spared a thought towards everything he’d brought with him—but when he looked up from Hoseok’s back, he could see his black bag already slung over Kihyun’s shoulder.

Changkyun relaxed slightly, letting himself gently rest his head against Hoseok’s shoulder. He didn’t mean for his eyes to slip closed, but they did anyway, only opening for a moment when Hoseok helped him into the van before they slipped closed once again.

The gentle lull of the car and the members’ silence were all Changkyun needed to actually fall asleep, his head resting on the cool glass of the car window. He stirred ever-so-slightly when the car stopped, presumably in front of the dorms, but his eyes stayed closed even as he felt himself being lifted out of the car and carried up to their dorm.

He felt himself be gently lowered onto the sofa in the dorm’s living room, but before he could completely fall asleep again, Kihyun’s voice cut through his sleepy haze.

“Changkyun, don’t sleep yet, you still need to shower and eat.”

Changkyun blearily blinked, before nodding. Kihyun, satisfied, left for the kitchen, probably to heat something up for dinner.

Someone cleared his throat besides him, and Changkyun turned his gaze away from Kihyun to focus on the person next to him. Hoseok, again.

He offered a hand to Changkyun, but seeing Changkyun’s obvious confusion, he quickly explained.

“Kihyun said it would take a little bit for the food to be ready, so I’m here to help you get cleaned up in the meantime.”

“But hyungs always go first…?” And this was true, the older members always took the first showers—a senior priority that Changkyun had long since gotten used to.

“Well, yes, but we figured you’d want to sleep before us, so we’re letting you go first. But just this once. Don’t let it go to your head,” Hoseok teased, before quickly grabbing Changkyun around the middle and hoisting him up onto his good leg.

Changkyun was startled by the movement, but he steadied himself and let Hoseok help him. Once again, he questioned the elder’s sudden kindness. He decided against mentioning it, though, because really, he needed the help.

Hoseok just helped him get his sleep clothes ready and thankfully stopped there, letting Changkyun shower by himself. But somehow, the moment Changkyun was done, Hoseok was there to help him to the table where the group ate dinner together.

“How’s your leg doing, Changkyun?” Jooheon asked as soon as he was seated.

It took him a moment. Changkyun hadn’t expected to be acknowledged, much less be asked how he was. To be honest, the warm water from the shower had helped slightly, and while the throbbing was present, it wasn’t as overwhelming as before.

“Better, hyung. I think the shower helped,” he answered softly.

Jooheon smiled at his response, his dimples showing, but before he could say much else, Kihyun showed up with the food. Placing the serving dish in the middle of the table, he picked up Changkyun’s bowl, placed a heap of food in it and handed it back with a smile.

“Why does he get to be served?” Hyungwon complained, making Changkyun’s cheeks heat up.

He was never treated as a maknae, and so the combination of the new experience and being called out for it embarrassed him. Still, it was good to see that not everything was weird tonight, Hyungwon’s normal attitude still in place.

“Because he’s the maknae and his leg hurts. And because I want to take care of him. Is that so wrong?” Kihyun says, irritation bleeding into his words, almost daring Hyungwon to oppose him. And clearly, Hyungwon wasn’t looking for a fight; he quickly shook his head and grabbed himself a serving.

When Changkyun finished with his food, he pushed his chair back, but before he could even stand, Kihyun had taken the empty bowl from him and Jooheon was helping him get up. Changkyun smiled gratefully at Jooheon, who grinned and carefully guided Changkyun to their shared room. Jooheon wasn’t as strong as Hoseok, so it wasn’t as simple as it had been for Hoseok, but thankfully they didn’t encounter any problems.

“Changkyun, you can sleep in my bunk today, since the ladder would be a bit difficult for you to get up right now,” Jooheon said.

Changkyun frowned. “Hyung, you’re afraid of heights, you can’t sleep in my bed. Where would you sleep?”

He didn’t want to put anyone out, and it felt wrong to make Jooheon sleep somewhere like the couch when they weren’t even that close.

“Don’t worry, Minhyuk-hyung agreed to sleep on your bed. I can sleep on his lower bunk. Seriously, stop worrying, it’s fine,” Jooheon emphasized upon seeing Changkyun’s distress.

Still a little apprehensive, Changkyun hesitantly nodded and lied down in Jooheon’s bunk. Jooheon was right; he probably wouldn’t have been able to climb up to his top bunk with his leg as it was.

Changkyun hadn’t said anything, but the throbbing in his right leg had worsened on the way to the bedroom. He wanted to ask Jooheon if he could maybe have some painkillers, but before he could, Jooheon mumbled something about being right back, and he left the room.

However, Changkyun’s eyes had slipped closed, fast asleep by the time Jooheon had come back with painkillers and water.

---

When Changkyun woke up the next morning, the pain in his leg hadn’t reduced. At all. If anything, it was worse than yesterday.

But Changkyun knew that he couldn’t complain. Manager-hyung said that he would have to dance today, which meant he’d have to push through regardless of a little pain.

Plus, end-of-the-year performances were drawing closer. In fact, in less than a week, Monsta X was scheduled to perform Hero at the first of many of these performances.

So Changkyun would suck it up and dance. He couldn’t risk putting more people out. Just as he made to get out of bed, Kihyun walked into the room, a water bottle in hand.

“Oh, you’re up! I was just coming to wake you. How’s your leg feeling?” Kihyun asked, approaching the bed.

He placed the bottle on the nightside table, next to a bottle of painkillers that Changkyun was fairly certain hadn’t been there before. Changkyun shrugged slightly, but plastered a small smile on his face.

“It feels better, hyung. Not nearly as bad as yesterday,” Changkyun said, carefully masking any pain that he was feeling from his voice.

Kihyun relaxed at his words, buying Changkyun’s lie.

“Well, that’s good. I’ll let you get ready now, but just let any of the hyungs know if it gets worse, okay?” Kihyun fussed. “It’s better to take a break now rather than have something serious happen later.”

“Yes, hyung,” Changkyun said dutifully.

And Kihyun looked him over once more before nodding and leaving the room.

Making sure that no one was going to walk in on him, Changkyun carefully shook a handful of the painkillers into his palm and placed them in the pocket of his sweatpants. He was thankful for his oversized hoodie; it was impossible for anyone else to see the pills.

He grabbed the water bottle that Kihyun had left, along with some clothes to change into. The bathroom was empty, so he walked in with his stuff, making sure to lock the door behind him. He took one of the painkillers from his pocket and swallowed it with a large gulp of water. Then, he quickly changed his clothes, clenching his teeth when he had to change his pants. He wrapped the extra pills in a tissue and placed it in his pile of clothes before leaving the bathroom.

Changkyun carefully packed his practice bag for dance later, slipping in the little wrapped bundle of pills and the water bottle. He would just take one whenever it got too bad, and his hyungs would be none the wiser.

It would be fine.

---

It was not fine.

During the day, the pain in his leg was, honestly, not very noticeable. Most of the time he was just sitting, whether it was him recording or spending time in the studio. And walking wasn’t too bad, he just had to be careful to hide his slight limp from anyone nearby.

One perk of being mostly ignored by the group meant that they didn’t pay too much attention to him. Even Kihyun, ever attentive, only spared him a quick, concerned glance before going back to his conversation with Hyunwoo. Either Kihyun’s earlier worry was just temporary, or Changkyun was doing a hell of a good job covering up the pain..

In fact, when dance practice had finally arrived, Changkyun had believed that his leg wouldn’t be a problem. Or at the very least, not one as big as he had imagined.

Oh, how wrong he had been.

During the first run through of Hero, he hadn’t really felt anything different. Yes, it hurt, but it wasn’t anything too different than what had become “normal” for Changkyun at that point. But slowly, as they worked through the second, third, fourth run, the pain got worse and worse and worse.

But he was adamant he wasn’t going to become trouble for the group. These year-end performances were some of the biggest exposure for the group, and Changkyun had to prove he wasn’t the weak link that everyone thought he was.

He had to prove that he deserved to be in Monsta X, despite what everyone, even his own group, said.

So he kept powering through it, kept going through the same exhausting choreography over and over. And if he had to keep clenching his teeth to keep his pain hidden, well then, so be it.

---

They were finally here.

They had made it.

This was Monsta X’s first ever end-of-the-year performance, meaning it was one of the most important performances of their careers so far. And they had been told as much by everyone, management telling them that not even a single slip-up was allowed.

And Changkyun vowed that he would do his absolute best.

The pain in his leg had never gone away. He had downed painkiller after painkiller in hopes of hiding it, and kept dancing on. At some point, he’d become almost numb to the pain; he could always feel its presence, but he was getting better at ignoring it.

At one point, he almost thought he was caught when Minhyuk saw him taking a pill even before dance practice had started. Changkyun had stammered out an excuse—something about a headache, he’s pretty sure— Minhyuk accepted it without further questions, which Changkyun was grateful for.

And because of all the upcoming performances, Kihyun had been incredibly busy with vocal practice, meaning that he wasn’t able to keep a very close eye on Changkyun.

That, or he didn’t care enough to. Either way, better for Changkyun.

With just a few minutes until their performance, Changkyun could feel the nerves in his stomach. He was terrified of messing up in front of everybody; he’d embarrass not only himself, but also bring shame to the entire group. He’d been tempted earlier to write his lyrics on his hand, just in case he screwed up, and now, he was kind of regretting not doing so.

Changkyun knew that out of everyone in the group, he was definitely the least popular member among fans. He didn’t have the visuals that Minhyuk and Hyungwon had, or the physiques of Hyunwoo or Hoseok. He didn’t have the amazing dancing skills of Hyunwoo or Hyungwon. He obviously didn’t have the angelic vocals that Kihyun possessed, or Jooheon’s strong rap. He had a voice that hardly fit in any of their songs, and his dancing was average in his eyes. He had seen the comments from Twitter and Fancafe that said things along similar lines, and he had to agree with all of them.

So, no, Changkyun was not going to be the reason that Monsta X failed. He had to work through the pain in order to make sure that people remembered their name.

Just as he was going through his mental pep talk, he heard someone call for Monsta X to get on standby.

They were next.

Changkyun followed his hyungs out of the dressing room towards backstage, and watched as the sunbaenims that had just performed walked off stage. He made sure to bow politely to all of them, even though it put more pressure on his leg that he really didn’t appreciate.

He had stupidly forgotten all his painkillers back at the dorm that morning, and he couldn’t ask anyone here for one without raising suspicions. The pain had increased from it’s usual, manageable five out of ten to probably a seven—or even higher.

Pasting a grin on his face, he followed the others onstage and got into his place for Hero, their first song of the night. They would perform two songs: Hero and Rush. Changkyun was thankful that they didn’t have to also do Trespass today, since that was scheduled for tomorrow.

He wasn’t sure he could handle that without painkillers.

He heard the music start up, blasting in his in-ear, and all thoughts rushed out his head.

He was performing.

He worked his hardest to dance with power and precision, the motions muscle memory at this point, doing even better than he had done in practice. Hearing the fans scream when he rapped was the most amazing feeling.

But just as soon as he started to enjoy himself, that feeling surrounding him, it disappeared with a sudden surge of pain shooting up his leg.

It happened just like before, funnily enough, except this time, he didn’t hit Minhyuk. In fact, he didn’t hit anyone.

So why was there a thud?

Changkyun couldn’t understand what was happening, the screaming in his ear making it impossible to think. He didn’t realize it was himself screaming until he heard a voice plead:

“Changkyun are you okay?! Oh my god, what’s happening?”

Changkyun tried to make out the voice, but he couldn’t. It sounded vaguely like Hyungwon’s, but why would Hyungwon be crying over him?

And that was when Changkyun made his second realization that he was onstage, lying on the floor, his leg in excruciating pain.

If earlier it had been a 7, this was 20, a 30, fucking infinity. He screamed again as he felt someone touch his leg—he couldn’t help it. Suddenly, he felt the air around him shift as someone lifted him in their arms, bridal style. Changkyun couldn’t find it within him to be embarrassed, burying his face in the person’s shoulder to muffle his yells as the pain persisted.

“Changkyun, please don’t fall asleep!”

He knew that voice. That was Hyunwoo. And normally Changkyun was the obedient maknae, something everyone praised him for.

But he would have to apologize later, because he was just so tired.

---

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Changkyun clumsily tried to lift a hand to silence the annoying alarm, before pausing. That wasn’t his alarm. He didn’t even have an alarm clock.

He tried opening his eyes, but immediately closed them upon being greeted by harsh bright lights. Slowly, he realized that this room wasn’t the dorm. It didn’t smell like the dorm; a mixture of 7 different colognes and the lavender air freshener Kihyun had been liking recently.

Changkyun vaguely recognized the smell around him, something like a doctor’s office.

Or the hospital.

Trying once more, Changkyun slowly opened his eyes, this time blinking a few times to adjust to the light. He carefully turned his head. There was a heart monitor and an IV drip in the crook of his right arm.

It took him a moment, but he noticed that the whole group was there with him.

Everyone seemed asleep, but then Changkyun saw Kihyun sitting at the foot of his bed, absentmindedly rubbing Changkyun’s left foot. It was then that Changkyun realized that he couldn’t really feel the pain in his right leg—the first time in, what, two weeks?—but he couldn’t properly see anything because of the blankets.

“H-hyung?” he said, his voice hoarse from misuse.

Kihyun jumped up at Changkyun’s voice, and quickly got up to stand by Changkyun’s head.

“Oh gosh, Changkyun, how are you doing?” he asked, carefully grasping Changkyun’s left hand within his own. He reached above the bed and pressed a button, probably calling a nurse.

Changkyun squeezed Kihyun’s hand lightly, grateful for his presence. “W-what happened?” he asked, and Kihyun quickly offered him some water, holding the cup so that Changkyun could take a few much-needed sips.

Once he was done, Kihyun placed the cup back and began to explain. “Well, I’ll tell you the basics of it right now, I can explain more later when you’re a bit more alert. Something happened during Hero, and you just…collapsed on us. We realized pretty quickly it was your leg, and so we brought you to the hospital. I wish I could tell you exactly what was wrong, they just let us in. No one has really explained anything to us yet.” He gently rubbed circles on Changkyun’s hand.

“How-how long was I out?”

“Not entirely sure, to be honest,” Kihyun said. “You originally collapsed due to the pain, and the first time you woke up was after being given pain medications and such. It’s been a few hours since then…I think it’s five in the morning right now?”

Before Changkyun could respond to that, a man walked into the room, presumably the doctor given the white coat.

“Changkyun-ssi? I am Dr. Kim, and I was in charge of treating your leg today. I assume your friend filled you in on the situation?” At both Kihyun and Changkyun’s nods, the doctor continued. “Well, we discovered a stress fracture in your leg after doing an MRI. We put a brace on it, and you’ll have to avoid walking on it or doing any physical activity for about 6 weeks.”

The doctor’s explanation kept going, but at this point, Kihyun was the only one listening.

No physical activity for 6 weeks?

That would destroy the group. They would have to redo all the choreography because of him, and then it wouldn’t be as polished for all their upcoming performances, and it would all be Changkyun’s fault.

He couldn’t believe that this was happening. He'd tried so hard to prevent this from happening.

“Changkyun?” came Kihyun’s concerned voice over the screaming of his thoughts.

“Sorry, hyung, what?”

Changkyun realized that the doctor had already left the room. He hoped Kihyun paid attention better than he did. Knowing the older man, he definitely did, and probably took notes, too.

Kihyun pursed his lips, looking a little concerned at Changkyun’s lack of focus. “Well, the doctor said that after they do a couple of checks, they’ll give you crutches, and then we can leave.”

“Oh well that’s good.” Changkyun said. Kihyun’s expression didn’t change, so he added, “...Isn’t it?”

“Well, the doctor said you’d probably been in pain for a while before this happened. And, well, I’m just guilty that I didn’t even realize anything…”

Changkyun was saved from responding by Jooheon’s excited shout of “Changkyun! You’re awake!” and suddenly the rapper was hugging him.

And it seemed like the rapper’s words had woken up everyone else, and before he knew it, Changkyun’s bed was surrounded by all of the members.

Hyungwon was, surprisingly, the second person to hug him, whispering into Changkyun’s ear, “You scared me so much.”

And he pulled away before Changkyun could say anything, allowing the other members to say their piece as well.

But soon, after a few more tests, Changkyun was getting ready to leave the hospital. He changed into a pair of sweats and a hoodie that Kihyun gave him, but when he hobbled out of the bathroom, that’s when he realized the state of everyone else.

Hyunwoo and Hoseok were still completely in their performance clothes, though Hoseok had swapped the shirt for a different one. Hyungwon, Minhyuk, and Jooheon still had random parts of their stage outfits on, mostly having changed out the shirts for more comfortable ones. Jooheon still had all his accessories in, and he could see the patchy makeup most of the members still sported.

The only one who had properly changed was Kihyun, and since he had given Changkyun his clothes, he was probably the only one who had returned to the dorm.

He couldn’t fathom that the rest of the group would remain in such disarray, just to wait for him.

Warmth spread in his chest. He never thought they would actually stay, just for him.

---

Getting up to the dorm was a process, the many stairs making it a struggle for Changkyun. Thankfully, without having to ask, Hoseok lifted him on his back and helped him up, Minhyuk carrying his crutches. He was carefully laid down on the couch, his bad leg propped up on a pillow and his crutches leaning against the coffee table.

It was barely even noon, but Changkyun felt so tired already that all he wanted to do was sleep.

Unfortunately, Kihyun had other plans, and he told Changkyun to stay up so he could get him some food. The other members scattered, Hyunwoo taking the first shower while the rest went to remove their makeup and such.

Changkyun was about to pick up the remote for the TV, to maybe try some random drama to watch to keep him awake, when he felt another weight settle on the couch. He turned to see Hyungwon sitting at the end of the sofa, his outfit replaced with comfortable black sweats.

“Changkyun, can I talk with you for a minute?” he asked, and while normally this question demanded a yes, he sounded like he was genuinely wondering if Changkyun was up to talking.

“Sure, hyung, what’s going on?” he asked, shifting his position slightly so he was facing Hyungwon more.

“Well,” Hyungwon hesitated, and continued slowly, “I wanted to apologize. I feel like I never really stopped being an asshole to you, even when I had no reason to. And I called you out for getting Kihyun’s help because of your leg. And then when you fell, I couldn’t even do anything but sit there and ask you what was happening. I’m supposed to be your hyung. I’m supposed to be there for you as both your group member and your friend, but I couldn’t look past stupid prejudices to do that. I’m sorry.”

Changkyun paused, soaking in Hyungwon’s words. He seemed sincere—not mocking, like so many other apologies he’d heard in his life.

“Hyung—” he stopped, then started again. “Thank you. For saying that, I mean. Yeah, it was hard having everyone seemingly against me, but I guess, this is a step in the right direction.”

And Hyungwon looked relieved with that answer, letting out a breath as he settled back into the couch.

“Alright, then. So, what drama are we watching?” he asked, picking up the remote from the table.

The two sat in comfortable silence as a drama Changkyun didn’t recognize played on the TV, Hyungwon quietly patting his good leg. It felt…weird, to be this close to someone who probably hated him just a few months ago.

But right now, if Hyungwon was willing to change, then Changkyun would be willing to accept that.

Soon, Kihyun called everyone to come eat, and Hyungwon got up from the sofa. He went to help Changkyun but stopped, suddenly looking defeated.

“I... I can’t help you,” he realized, “I won’t be able to lift you up.”

But before Changkyun could explain that he could just use the crutches, a pair of thin but surprisingly strong arms helped him up. He looked to see Minhyuk, the elder busying himself by getting Changkyun’s legs properly off the sofa.

He carefully brought Changkyun’s arm over his shoulder, helping him over to the table, and even pushing in his chair for him.

“I’m sorry too,” he whispered into Changkyun’s ear, before taking his seat on the other side of the table.

At first, Changkyun didn’t understand what he meant, but remembering his conversation with Hyungwon earlier, he figured that this was Minhyuk’s way of apologizing.

Unfortunately, the painkillers Changkyun were on made him a little too nauseous to truly enjoy the food, but he grabbed a few bites here and there. It also helped that Jooheon and Kihyun would feed him small bits from their own plates. The room was alive with quiet chatter, the members’ light joking and gentle conversation filling Changkyun with warmth.

This comfortable feeling, of being surrounded by people who truly cared, this was one that Changkyun never wanted to let go.