[Onho] The Blame Game
Okay, so before you read this: It's an Onho, and it's not. There's some romance at the end, yes, but I honestly don't consider this oneshot to have a pairing. Anyway, read on.
"What happened to me last night, Minho-hyung?" Taemin asked in a quiet voice.
In some ways, that was worse than yelling. It made Minho feel guilty. Entirely too guilty. And he hadn't done anything wrong. He opened his mouth to try to explain, knowing it was useless. Taemin, when it came to their arguments, had a way of hearing what he wanted to hear. Then, usually, he turned and twisted those words until they weren't even the truth anymore. It frustrated and hurt Minho to the point of tears. He started believing that the lies were the truth. And if they were the truth, then wow. He was a real screw up.
He began blaming himself for things he didn't even do, like the broken vase in the hallway. He owned up to it, even though he hadn't done it. Key screeched at him for nearly 10 minutes before Jonghyun dragged him away. When the DVD player broke of it's own accord, Minho said that he'd accidentally spilled Coca-Cola on it. When the couch started wearing out, Minho said it was because he plopped on it too much.
One by one, the members began to believe him as well. They snapped at him for things that weren't really his fault, such as a cracked bowl or scratch on a DVD. Minho thought he deserved it. After all, it was his fault, so shouldn't he be punished? In addition to Key sometimes not bothering to make enough food for Minho, he started punishing himself. Sometimes he would make himself go without sleep. Sometimes, he would push past his limits when exercising and pass out. Sometimes, he would purposely skip a whole day of meals.
Soon enough, his self-punishments began to take a toll on him. He grew frail, sickly, and tired easily. His skin was an unhealthy shade of yellow-ish grey, and he'd lost too much weight. His hair sometimes fell out, and when it did, he noticed that some of the hairs were grey. He had bags under his eyes. His breathing rattled in his chest. His body was breaking down around him, and he could feel it with agonzing slowness.
Onew was the one who finally noticed something wasn't right. It wasn't anything unusual for Minho to skip meals now, but he would sit at the table anyway out of politeness. Onew noticed his eyes drooping, and how all of his concentration seemed to be focused on not touching anything that could possibly cause a mishap.
Minho managed until over halfway through the meal, when he let his head fall far enough forward to bang against the table. His head knocked his cup over and the cup chipped part of Key's bowl. Key was instantly screaming something about that the bowl was part of his grandmother's favorite china set. Minho muttered apologies for the rest of the evening, trying hard to make it up to Key by bringing him things to drink and offering to let Key drive his car for the next week.
Onew noticed that almost as soon as Minho's head was back up, the tell-tale signs of a monstrous bruise were appearing on his forehead. He frowned. Minho hadn't hit his head that hard, had he?
That night, Minho exercised harshly, pushing his body past its limits. He could feel muscle fibers tearing in various places in his body, and the pain screamed for him to stop. But he couldn't. And he didn't have the relief of knowing he could pass out either, because he'd managed to drop Jonghyun's toothbrush in the trashcan yesterday, and he wasn't allowed to sleep. So after he felt like he was about to pass out from exhaustion, Minho staggered up and walked over to the couch. His legs and arms and stomach muscles were throbbing with pain. He sat there, intermittenly gasping and gritting his teeth. He struggled to stay awake until people started appearing downstairs.
He got up and went to start getting ready for his schedules, because, though his body had started breaking down, his voice remained as strong as ever. He was constantly covered in heavy make-up to mask his quickly worsening appearance. He stepped into the shower, the hot water soothing his aching muscles. He didn't realize he was propping over half of his weight on the shower wall. He stepped out of the shower, instantly losing that soothing warmth from the shower.
His vision was fuzzy, but that was nothing new. He'd been experiencing it for the past few months but it seemed worse today. He shook his head, but knew instantly that that had been a bad idea, since the room started spinning. He grabbed his toothbrush (making sure to grab it delicately, so he didn't knock anyone else's toothbrush in the trashcan) and got some toothpaste before starting to brush his teeth.
It felt strange today, and when Minho spat out the foam, he knew why. The foam was almost entirely red, and he noticed the taste of copper and salt on his tongue, signalling that his mouth was still bleeding. It was all too much for him. His vision darkened and he wheezed and gasped for breath. He tried hard not to faint, but he finally lost the battle, and his last thought was about how he hoped he didn't hit anything important. He hated having people disappointed in him.
Key was fuming when he looked at the clock and realized that Minho had been in the bathroom for over 30 minutes. Other people had to take showers, too. He banged on the door, yelling as loud as he possibly could for Minho to get out of the bathroom right that instant. He pressed his ear against the door and noticed it was as silent as the grave. He frowned because silence in the bathroom was unnatural. It was slightly eerie. He tried the handle, letting out a string of swears when he found it locked.
He called Onew who came to see what everything was about and when he pressed his ear against the door and heard no sign of life behind the door, his instincts told him something wasn't right. Before Key could say anything else, he kicked the door open. Minho lie there on the floor, facedown. Onew let out a choked sound, something between a sob and a cry. He glanced at the sink and noticed a red foamy substance. He quickly glanced down at Minho and sure enough, there was blood trickling out of his mouth in a small puddle.
Key slid to his knees not making any sound. He couldn't hear a single thing, and for once in his life, he had nothing to say. He didn't hear or see the other 2 members show up. He didn't hear Onew calling 119 for an ambulance. He wondered what had happened to Minho. He closed his eyes, and the image of Minho was there, like his eyelids were suddenly invisible. He rubbed his palms across his eyes, hoping to rub away the image. It didn't fade. He felt a weight settle itself on his shoulders.
At the hospital, the four members waited anxiously to hear any news at all from the doctor. After a period of time, they noticed people staring at them curiously and self-consciously huddled closer together. When the doctor appeared, there was a sense of relief but that immediately vanished when they saw his face. He looked grave, and his eyes were narrowed.
"What news do you bring us, Doctor?" Onew asked calmly. Inside, he was a whirlwind of guilt and hurt. He should have noticed sooner. The doctor cleared his throat.
" Minho's extremely fragile right now, but stable. He'll live, but there will be lasting effects. I'm surprised and, quite frankly, disgusted that no one brought him in sooner. Most people ask 'what's wrong?' In Minho's case, it's a matter of what's right. He was suffering from the effects of a severe case of dehydration and malnutrition."
"He was also suffering from sleep deprivation. His bones have weakened enough that he has multiple fractures. He has acute anemia. He appears to have been overworking himself as well, because I noticed inflamed areas, probably caused from torn muscle fibers. All of that strain on his body caused his organs to begin shutting down," the doctor stood, his face a mask of calm, but his eyes were intense.
Key let out a sob and held on to Jonghyun, who stood there blinking, trying to wrap his mind around what the doctor had just said. Taemin stood, calmly poker-faced, but inside he was blanching and blaming himself and yelling at himself for every harsh word he'd ever said to Minho. Onew swallowed and tried hard not to cry. He needed to be strong for the rest of the members. He cleared his throat, and looked the doctor in the eye.
"May we see him?" he asked, his voice rough from the effort of not crying. The doctor gave them all a sharp look.
"You may. However, as I said before, Minho is in an extremely fragile state. He's in a medically-induced coma to help speed the healing process. He'll be in the induced coma for a number of days, if not weeks. His body is ravaged, and it will take time to heal," the doctor rubbed his eyes and sighed.
"I'm no psychologist, but I'd be willing to bet that Minho was severely depressed. He shows nearly all the biological symptoms for the diagnosis. Both professionally and personally, I would advise you to get Minho to a psychotherapist." the doctor bowed and told them what room Minho was in before turning and returning to his other patients. The four boys stood looking at each other with guilty looks on their faces. They knew exactly what had driven Minho to such an extreme and it was unpleasant to think that they were the ones who'd caused it.
Out of the four boys, Onew felt the most responsible. He was the leader and the oldest, for God's sake, he should've done something. But it was easy enough to take his frustrations out on Minho who, in turn, took his frustrations out on himself. He remained dry-eyed as they visited Minho's hospital room. Minho looked ghastly against the stark white of his hospital gown and bed. He was covered in bruises and he had numerous splints for broken bones. His skin was seemingly stretched over his bones, and had that hideous yellow-ish grey tint. He had tubes running in and out of him. Onew noticed that clumps of his hair seemed to be missing as well, and that Minho had started to go prematurely grey. His heart broke further and the guilt burned him inside and out.
They joked and laughed like before, hopefully subconsciously cheering Minho up. But soon, visiting hours were over and they were forced to leave. Onew asked the others to wait outside while he said something to Minho.
"Minho-ah, I'm so sorry. I'm so so so sorry," Onew fell to his knees and clasped Minho's hand. "I don't deserve to be the leader of SHINee if this is how my members wind up. I promise you, when you wake up, I'm going to make it up to you. Just wait." Onew kissed Minho's forehead gently. He then turned and walked out the door, meeting the other members in the car and going back to the dorm.
When Onew got to his own room, he finally let everything go and sobbed into his pillow. He was heartbroken and angry and upset over what had happened because of his own actions. The sight of Minho's body on the bathroom floor was a constant image in his head. A constant reminder that he'd failed as a leader. He couldn't erase the past, and he knew that. But he could try to atone for his mistakes in the future.
Minho wound up being in the hospital for over a month. For the 2 weeks he was in the induced coma, he needed 2 more weeks before the doctor reluctantly said he could go home. The other members were overjoyed. Finally, they could bring their missing boy home. They had felt his absense for the month he was gone. It was a very uncomfortable, palpable absense. It was even worse when, the first night he was really gone, Key had made enough to eat for Minho and set his place. With a start, the other members realized he wasn't coming down for dinner and Jonghyun quickly took his plate back in the kitchen.
When Minho walked back into the dorm, he didn't feel a sense of relief. He didn't feel... anything. He frowned. Wasn't he supposed to at least be happy he was back? He was confused. He wasn't sure how he felt about being back. He was so lost in his own thoughts that he didn't notice until it was too late that he was close to the stairs. He tried to walk forward, and instead met with resistance. He knew instantly that he was about to fall and he relaxed in an effort to not get hurt too bad. He never fell. He felt an arm wrap around his stomach and he looked back to see Onew there. He was suprised before stand back up and bowing.
"Thank you," he said and walked upstairs to his own room.
Despite all the other members' efforts to make Minho feel better, he slipped deeper and deeper into a depression. He didn't know how he really felt most of the time. He felt numb and empty. He lost more weight, and the other members had to force him to eat. He didn't understand why. Not 3 months ago, everyone blamed him for everything that went wrong, and would punish him for it. Now they treated him like a china doll. Onew was the worst one. He was always with Minho, talking to him trying to cheer him up.
One day, Minho was just sitting on the couch staring blankly at the TV screen when Onew stepped in front of the screen. Minho looked up and met a determined gaze.
"Get up and get dressed. We're going somewhere," Onew demanded. Minho just shrugged and decided he wasn't in the mood to argue with anyone.
When the car stopped, Minho eyed the restaurant with confusion and an apparent disdain. He looked over at Onew who stared steadily back.
"What? It's chicken, and chicken always helps me," Minho just shook his head and got out of the car. They were there enjoying lunch when a group of girls squealed and asked for their autographs. After they were done, Onew threw his plate away.
"Lost my appetite after that," Onew said, chuckling at Minho's questioning glance. After lunch, Onew and Minho drove to the middle of nowhere. Minho, by this point, didn't care where they were going at all. He was more relaxed and at ease than he had been in months. He turned his face up to the sun and gave a small smile at the beauty of the day. For the first time in months, he felt okay.
Onew watched Minho with a satisfied smile. He didn't exactly know that it would work, but he'd hoped that taking Minho away from the dorm for a while would help improve his mental health. And it seemed that it had at least relaxed him. Onew got a blanket out of the backseat and set it on the ground next to Minho, and patted the spot next to him. They say in a comfortable silence until Minho spoke.
"I don't feel anything anymore. I'm not happy, not sad, not anything. I don't enjoy anything anymore. It scares the hell out of me Onew-hyung," Onew realized, startled, that Minho was crying. "It's so hard to go through this by myself." Onew grabbed Minho and hugged him. He laid down and tugged Minho down with him.
"Why didn't you ever say anything, Minho-ah? All of us... we're trying hard to make up for what we did those months, but it's difficult when you won't let us. You've got to trust us, Minho-ah. We'll take care of you," Onew's eyes watered.
"I'm sorry, Onew-hyung," Minho whispered. Onew tightened his grip briefly.
"Don't ever be sorry. If anything, Minho-ah, we're the ones who should be sorry for eternity," Onew looked at Minho. "You don't have to be alone. There are people who genuinely want to help you. Especially me." Onew muttered the last part, embarrassed it had even come out of his mouth. Minho turned with a surprised expression, apparently he'd heard that last part.
"What exactly do you mean, hyung?" Minho asked curiously. Onew blushed, a sure sign of his embarrassment.
"I mean that I especially want to help you. Because you mean a lot to me, Minho-ah," Onew ran a hand over his face. He didn't see the smirk on Minho's face.
"Aww, hyung, you sound like you're back in grade school," Minho cooed. "How cute." Onew smacked Minho's shoulder lightly, ever aware of his now-fragile bones. Minho chuckled and Onew thought it was the most welcoming, beautiful thing he'd ever heard. "It's okay, though. I like you back, hyung." Onew quickly took back his other thought. That was the most beautiful thing he'd ever heard.
I honestly missed writing angst like this. It's therapeutic because this is personal.
Thanks for reading. Funnily enough, it helps knowing that people sympathize. XD
Til next time, fair readers. ^o~ ♥♥
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