Joonmyun lent his head down on the table. The production director’s words washed over him like a gust of wind, cold and easily forgotten. His nose was stuffy and he was beyond exhausted. Comeback promotions, concert dates, tv shows, performance premiers, fan meetings, plane rides, car drives, longs days, restless nights, early mornings, and late evenings. It felt like it all was a blur, and perhaps it was. It seemed like the last two years were just that, and only that. One day, one moment, one second bleeding into the next until he couldn’t tell before from now. Sometimes it felt like he was being consumed by it all. There were days when he felt like he couldn’t think because he had to focus on the next thing. There wasn’t time to sit or relax, no time to consider what he was doing or why he was doing it. He had the responsibility of thousands of fans to satisfy. He couldn’t be tired, couldn’t be overwhelmed, he had a job to do. He was exo’s leader. He had to be strong.
“Now does everyone understand what the next year’s going to look like? I want to make sure everyone’s on board and ready. American Tour is going to be a big deal for us. It’s going to take everyone being on their A game okay?” The production director looked around the room and made eye contact with everyone before dismissing the group and packing up his stuff. The members proceeded to leave one by one, chatting to each other animatedly. Joonmyun followed behind the group, albeit a bit dejectedly.
With the looming of yet another American tour over his head, Joonmyun couldn't muster up his usual pep. He just wasn’t feeling it lately, or for the last couple months apparently. He should be ecstatic. They’ve won so many awards with their latest album release and comeback. He should feel like he’s on top of the world. But instead, he just felt like crawling under a blanket and never waking up.
Yixing turned away, laughing with Chanyeol about their twitter feed, when he noticed Joonmyun’s lowered head. A bought of warmth and a small feeling concern creep up his back at the sight. Something seemed wrong with their usually peaceful and focused leader. Yixing squeezed Chanyeol’s arm to tell him that he was leaving and slowed his pace to match Joonmyun’s. Said leader didn’t notice the new presence beside him till a warm hand pressed against the back of his neck. Joonmyun flung his head up in surprise and snapped to the side to look into Yixing’s concerned eyes. He blinked.
“Something wrong?” Joonmyun questioned. Yixing raised an eyebrow.
“I should be asking you that. What’s the matter?” Joonmyun laughed and shook his head, nudging Yixing in the arm while giving him his trademark cheeky smirk.
“You are too nosy lately, go bother the other hyung.” Yixing scoffed in shock and insult.
“Well fine then meanie . I’ll go to Minseok.” Yixing laughed and shook his head as he left, somehow satisfied with the response. When he was a comfortable distance away, Joonmyun sighed in relief. That had been a close one. He was starting to slip up. Joonmyun made sure to pinch his cheeks and push his hair back, letting that familiar face paint his features. Bemused smile, crinkled eyes, and straight-lined lips were his most common facial expressions, and he wore them like a mask. He followed his bandmates into the large SUV, taking his spot in the front seat with the driver. Joonmyun reached into his back pocket and pulled out his earbuds. He slipped the prong into his phone and played his favorite playlist of melodic R&B before letting the soft pops of the drum and long drawn out chords of the guitar lull him to a shallow sleep.
“Hyung?...Hyung?...Hyuuuuunnnggggg...hyuuuuuunnnggggg-” Joonmyun jumped up as if scared by a ghost. Baekhyun’s bright and warm brown eyes peered down at him with relief.
“Thank God! I thought for a second you’d gone into a coma or something. We’ve been calling for you for a good minute. Are you sick?” Baekhyun went to press his palm across Joonmyun’s forehead, but Joonmyun slapped it away. He retracted his hand almost immediately in shock, then replaced his startled face for a smiling and serene one. He patted Baekhyun’s shoulder as he stood up and got out of the car.
“I’m fine Byunnie. Go on ahead with the others okay?” After he recovered from the rather forceful hit he received, Baekhyun scrutinized him. After a minute, he shook his head and turned away with a frown. When he was out of earshot, Joonmyun sighed. He was being uncharacteristically melancholic. Whatever funk he was in, he needed to get over it. s were starting to bear the brunt of it. First Yixing and now Baekhyun. Joonmyun stopped just before the door to their hotel, and let himself take three long, deep breaths. Whatever happiness he needed to show, he needed to feel first. So, he conjured up in his mind the one thing that made him happy.
It was also the same thing that made him the saddest.
“Come on Hunnie. It’s time to wake up. We have a fan meeting this morning.” Joonmyun’s voice was soft, but coaxing. Sehun grumbled some incoherent response and nestled deeper into the covers of his bed. Joonmyun laughed lightly and pulled the covers till Sehun’s eyes peeled open.
“Hey...stop that.” Sehun said with a blank expression. Joonmyun laughed again and this time tugged the blankets fully off of him. Sehun groaned again, laying his body across the bed diagonally. Part of his chest, arm, and head off the edge in a precarious way, bringing a small smile to Joonmyun’s face.
“...No.” Sehun’s one-word response. Joonmyun shook his head and sighed. He leaned over and grabbed him by the ankles, and began pulling his entire body off of the bed. Sehun dragged about like a dead body, never putting up much of a fight. Had Joonmyun not been so strong, the difference in size would have made it nearly impossible to lug Sehun’s body all the way bathroom. Joonmyun deposited his body next to a surprised and partially baffled Jongin.
“H-hyung?” Jongin questioned, toothbrush slowing to a halt mid brush. Joonmyun placed his hands on his hips and gestured to the unmoving body.
“He needs to be ready in a half hour. See to it or else you’ll both deal with Kyungsoo.” Joonmyun warned just as he left. He heard slaps on the bathroom floor and an exchange of panicked whispers. Joonmyun snickered. The most powerful threat he could ever give anyone was getting Kyungsoo involved, because for whatever reason that sweet and quiet man was feared amongst the majority of the group. Even Minseok didn’t mess with him, and Minseok wasn’t afraid of anything. Perhaps a side of him had yet to be discovered by Joonmyun, but nonetheless, he remained a good and doting bandmate. One of which, had helped him in getting all of the members up and ready this morning. Thank you Kyungsoo.
“How’s the breakfast coming in there?” Joonmyun shouted as he exited the bedrooms and entered into the main room. Yixing turned from the stove and gave him a nod before turning back to scrambling eggs in a skillet. Kyungsoo actually stopped mixing the batter in his bowl and set it down to respond.
“Making pancakes for twelve is really something. It’s going to take me weeks to get all of this flour out from under my nails.” Kyungsoo mentioned while scraping said nails. Joonmyun laughed and leaned against the fridge, crossing his arms over his chest.
“The managers and I said you didn’t have to go out of your way to make breakfast for all of us. Stopping somewhere to pick something up would have been much easier...” Kyungsoo waved him off and resumed his mixing.
“Nonsense. If I have one more store-bought soup and kimchi bowl, I’m going to vomit. Profusely. No, this is much better. Besides, Yixing is giving me a hand.” Kyungsoo turned and smiled at Yixing, who did not look but merely waved a hand in the air as his response. Joonmyun laughed again and started to leave to check in on the other members in the other end of the room. He grabbed an apple on his way out, but made a pass at Kyungsoo before going.
“Yes but Yixing is indifferent and would be just as content sleeping on that couch over there as he’d be slaving over that hot stove. He doesn’t qualify as a voluntary participant.” Joonmyun joked. His back was turned so he couldn’t see the terror inducing glare shot at him, but Yixing felt the chill from it on his side. He shivered, hoping the dreadful thing would end soon. Joonmyun may have been right about the “involuntary participation”, but with an evil like the ‘Kyungsoo Glare’ to fear, anyone wouldn’t be stupid enough to refuse.
Now in the other end of the suite, Joonmyun began on his other members. He entered Minseok and Jongdae’s room first, leaning over Jongdae’s bed to shake him awake. The member’s large eyes blinked softly, then fluttered open. He gleamed at Joonmyun’s broad chest and patted it with his hand.
“Good to see you’re up and about.” Jongdae yawned, stretching his arms into the air. Joonmyun walked around to the other bed that Minseok was sleeping in and rubbed his back.
“Hyung, time to get up.” Minseok groaned, lifting his hand to push Joonmyun away. Joonmyun laughed and grabbed the outstretched hand, shaking it.
“Na-ah-ah, not today hyung. You know we have a big day today. Fan meeting then broadcast and promotional showcase? Performing on KBS is no joke.” Joonmyun whispered. Minseok mumbled something in response but it was hard to hear. Joonmyun wasn’t sure whether he was cursing him or confirming he heard. Either way, Joonmyun patted his back one more time before exiting.
Next he went to check that Baekhyun and Chanyeol were up, and deeply hoped they were. Chanyeol was the hardest to wake. He could sleep through a hurricane, tornado, and an earthquake before it was even one in the afternoon. Joonmyun walked down the bedroom right next to Jongdae and Minseok’s and banged open the door. And what he saw when he did, surprised him.
Chanyeol was sleeping on the floor right next to the heater with a handcuff attaching him to one of the rings, and marker drawn all over his face. Baekhyun meanwhile was sleeping on what was supposed to be Chanyeol’s bed, bundled up inside his blankets. They both were still fast asleep. Joonmyun sighed and marched over to Baekhyun’s bed, grabbing the covers and flinging them up into the air, effectively unfolding Baekhyun and flipping him across the bed. His bedraggled appearance looked around in fear and confusion.
“Wahhh! Aish! Why would you do that!?! Is this funny to you! I almost had a heart attack!” Joonmyun frowned and pointed to Chanyeol’s body.
“Explanations. Now.” Baekhyun huffed and looked around Joonmyun to see Chanyeol still fast asleep next to the heater. He raised an eyebrow and turned back.
“What?” He squawked. Joonmyun glared.
“Why Baekhyun? Just, why?” Baekhyun scratched his armpit and yawned, stretching his arms over his head.
“The giant was snoring so freaking loud, I couldn’t sleep right. I figured if I could suffocate him then maybe rest would come to us both.” Joonmyun cocked his head in disbelief, gawking at Baekhyun.
“What!” Joonmyun shouted. Baekhyun laughed and patted his arm.
“Nah, I got bored around one and found that this was the best way to entertain myself. I was serious about the snoring though. We might want to invest in a muzzle for that one.” Joonmyun pinched the bridge of his nose, restraining himself because it was still relatively early in the morning.
“Handcuffs? That’s what you do when your bored? Where did you even get handcuffs?” Baekhyun wiggled his brow.
“Just at your neighborhood novelty store of course.”
“Why would you-nope, nevermind. I don’t want to know. Uncuff him, and get him up and dressed. We now have, what is it, twenty minutes till we need to be packing up our stuff? Hurry up, or I’ll get Kyungsoo.” Joonmyun threatened. Baekhyun jumped up immediately.
“Yes Mom! Right away!” While Baekhyun set to uncuffing his roommate, Joonmyun left to check on breakfast again. Kyungsoo and Yixing had already made four plates, with only five more to go. They’d be ready on time for once at this rate. Joonmyun smiled gratefully at them as he went back to Sehun and Jongin’s room. He pushed open the door and spied Sehun just leaving the shower. Jongin was already in the process of getting dressed. Joonmyun smiled at them.
“Those are my good little dongsaengs.” Jongin pulled his shirt on just as Joonmyun was about to leave.
“Hyung?” He asked. Joonmyun stopped and turned back into the room.
“Yes?” Joonmyun responded.
“Is breakfast ready?” He asked. He looked adorable with his bed head and sleepy eyes.
“Your hyungs have the first few plates ready if you want to go ahead and eat first.” Jongin frowned and shook his head.
“No, I’ll just wait till you start. That’s fine.” Joonmyun laughed.
“Ah, you don’t need to do that. I’ll probably still be running around for awhile.” Sehun pulled on his jeans, hopping from one leg to the other when the constricting fabric didn’t want to cooperate. His skin was still moist from the shower, making sliding down-right impossible.
“Nah, I’m eating. I’m hungry.” Sehun interrupted, tucking in his shirt just as he passed by them in the doorway. Joonmyun rolled his eyes, but gave Jongin a sweet smile and mouthed a ‘thank-you’ in return. He left to go to his own room and grab his phone to check the time. They had fifteen minutes, which was plenty of time for them to be up and running. They just need to be eating in fifteen minutes. Joonmyun left his room and returned to the kitchen. He was pleased to find a tired Minseok with his head on the bar table, and a phone surfing Jongdae next to him. He also spied Baekhyun coming out of his room down the hall, and Jongin walking with Sehun out of theirs. He beamed as Kyungsoo and Yixing passed out plates like a factory line, each person taking their share.
“Eat up, this was made with lots of love for members.” Joonmyun said, coming up behind Jongdae and massaging his shoulders. Jongdae groaned in pleasure and leaned into the touch.your
“Hyuuunnnnggggg. Don’t stop…” Jongdae sighed, eyes closed in bliss. Kyungsoo glared at him from across the counter.
“Aish! Don’t make sounds like that. Someone might get the wrong idea.” Yixing laughed and patted him on the shoulder. Jongdae let out another pleased groan as Chanyeol entered the room half dressed. He heard the sounds and stopped immediately.
“Yah! What are you two doing!?” He cried. Joonmyun turned around and huffed, showing what was supposed to be his nice gesture.
“See. Exactly what I was talking about.” Kyungsoo pointed to Chanyeol with his spatula. Jongin grinned sheepishly.
“It’s hard to take you seriously when you’re wearing a soft pink apron with little puppies on it.” Instead of responding, Kyungsoo fixed his glare upon Jongin’s head. As if sensing the danger, Jongin picked up his plate and escaped to the couch in the center of the room. Sehun grabbed his plate and followed, nodding to Chanyeol as he claimed his seat. Chanyeol stared distrustfully at Jongdae, while Jongdae merely smirked and made kissy faces at him.
“Come on everyone, calm down and eat. Mother Joonmyun has a busy day for us planned. We need not give him more gray hairs.” Minseok said to the table, placating everyone with his low and soothing voice. Nothing but utensils scraping against plastic plates and bowls was heard for the remainder of the breakfast. After urging Kyungsoo that they could handle the dishes, Joonmyun and- with much protest -Yixing finished early and went to pack up the things from their rooms while everyone else kept eating.
When the rest of them had finished, Joonmyun sent them off to go back up their belongings. Joonmyun and Yixing stayed behind to clean up the kitchenette and put away the dishes. Minseok was first to emerge from his room with all of his things, carrying his suitcase and duffle bag out into the living area. Baekhyun followed with his own things and opted to sit on the back of the couch and play with his phone. Sehun and Jongin materialized at the same time, dragging their things out and tossing them on top of everyone elses. When Kyungsoo returned with his things, he scoffed and lectured the two about keeping their stuff organized. Joonmyun smirked overhearing them and snorted a little as he handed the last pot to Yixing to dry. Yixing smiled too and watched him out of the corner of his eye. Joonmyun caught this, and after a moment began to heat up. He cleared his throat, hoping that deflection would be the best course of action.
“What?” Yixing asked. Joonmyun turned around, crossed his arms, and leaned against the sink.
“The kids are lively today.” Yixing set the pot along with all of the other items in a cooler case.
“Well they’ve had a full breakfast and for once a good night’s sleep. We aren’t usually so lucky to get home early. Especially considering us exo-m members got back from china just the day before. Jet lag is no joke. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.” Yixing chuckled as he dried his hands on the hand towel. Joonmyun did the same, turning over his words with careful thought.
“I really appreciate you guys being here. It’s good to be together again, especially with all of the drama going on at the moment. We’re not one without exo-m here too.” Joonmyun almost choked on his own words, a painful reminder sitting deep in his belly. Not wanting Yixing to see his expression, he turned away. Joonmyun ran his fingers through his hair and attempted to right himself, but the action only mussed his hair up and made him appear even more haggard. Yixing pursed his lips and downturned his brows, worry present in his tight mouth and pinched eyes. He reached out and pulled the other- much to Joonmyun’s surprise -into a tender back hug. His arms wrapped neatly around the other’s tiny waist and comfortably over the skin.
“If there is something bothering you, I am always here to talk. You know I care about you don’t you?” The words were murmured far to intimately into his ears to be received by Joonmyun. The action unnerved him and resulted in anxious glances to the other members- who thankfully had not noticed them yet. Quickly, he pulled the arms away and stepped forward, putting a proper amount of space between them. So not to further alarm the other, Joonmyun threw on his trademark smile.
“I’m fine. Just great. I better make sure everything is ready to go. The manager will be calling any minute now.” Yixing frowned at the hurried response and stepped towards him. It resulted in an immediate step back.
“Joon-” Before the words were out of his mouth, Joonmyun’s playful red velvet ring tone sounded through the air, cutting off whatever it was Yixing had been about to say. Grateful for the distraction, Joonmyun answered and walked away. Yixing let his hand fall to his side and stared dejectedly after ’s back. Shaking his head, he joined the other members waiting on the couch of their hotel living room.
Joonmyun nodded at each instruction his manager told him. He was briefing him over their schedule for the day and where he needed each member when. Joonmyun nodded emphatically even though he could not be seen. Just as he was finishing up the call, he felt his phone vibrate. Joonmyun dismissed the manager, and ended the call. When he saw what the notification was for, he huffed. Yixing was entirely too nurturing. Joonmyun sent him a quick reassuring text that he was fine and proceeded to drag the member’s bags from the couch to the front door. Their manager would be arriving with the vans in ten minutes and they needed to be checked out and waiting in the lobby by then.
“You want some help or do you plan to do everything by yourself again?” A medium-toned voice called behind him. Joonmyun twisted around from his crouched position and found Jongdae grinning down at him. The vocalist leaned over and picked up two other suitcases before moving to set them by the door. Joonmyun shook his head and snorted as he did the same. Just then, the other members caught on and rushed to help.
“Geez Joonmyun! You wanna key the rest of us in so you don’t have to do everything by yourself?” Baekhyun squawked in his naturally loud and higher pitched voice. Chanyeol, Sehun, and Jongin followed him by grabbing the last of the bags. Minseok stepped past them to exit out the front door of their hotel room.
“I’ll go ahead and grab a trolley.” With that, the eldest stepped out of the room. Joonmyun felt a warm sensation spread across his chest. He was touched everytime the members jumped to his aid. The little things they did for him really meant so much. They would never know just how much they were each individually appreciated. Joonmyun soon found himself pushed into a stool by his wide-eyed member.
“Just sit and relax. We’ve got this. Do you want me to help you check out?” Kyungsoo offered. Joonmyun shook his head and smiled.
“That’s quite alright thank you. I can handle it.” Kyungsoo nodded and turned away. Almost immediately one giant settled on both sides of him. Kyungsoo huffed in annoyance.
“Stop dwarfing me. I don’t like being towered over.” Kyungsoo said. Chanyeol chuckled and wrapped an arm around his neck while Sehun grabbed his hand and pulled it into his coat pocket.
“But you’re so convenient to lean on. Can’t you be nice for once? We have Music Bank today afterall.” Kyungsoo rolled his eyes and tugged unsuccessfully at the hand in Sehun’s pocket. It moved barely an inch.
“You have the warmest hands and mine are cold. Help me hyung please?” Sehun asked with his characteristic blank face. Kyungsoo rolled his eyes again, but allowed the necessary skinship to continue. He didn’t have the energy to fight it anyway.
“More fuel for the fangirls I suppose.” Chanyeol snickered. He earned a jab in the side from the smaller but didn’t release either. Joonmyun looked at the interaction with fondness. He was glad they were in good spirits. They would need it. They had a fan meet in Olympic Park, and it was cold this morning so they would probably suffer through a runny nose-Joonmyun at least. That would be at least two or three hours. They were serving hot tea and warm soup from a set of food trucks, performing fours songs from their new album, holding a Q&A session in between each, followed by two games, and finishing off with handing out goodie bags to the fans. They prepared five hundred, but even against Joonmyun’s forewarning that there would be a severely larger number than that, they stuck with this number.
Following the end of the meet, they were to be rushed off to KBS television station for the filming of the newest showing of Music Bank. They weren’t expecting to win in K-Chart, and not because their song wasn’t popular, but their Sunbaes from another company had just had a comeback of their own. Combined with their also-very-popular hoobaes, the polls would be very close. Last time he had checked, Exo was down by five percentage points. The department heads didn’t seem concerned though. They wanted the members to simply play nice, look good, and leave once their portion of the filming was completed. All that left for their plans for the night was a short practice back at their studio. Then, they could finally head back to the dorms.
Joonmyun was looking forward to just being back in his own bed. It wouldn’t last long of course, soon they’d be discussing concerts dates and performances alike, but for now it was just eighteen hours till his body reunited with his bed. And in light of his recent funk, he was in desperate need of it. Joonmyun felt a light pat on his back and turned around. Minseok was there, pointing to the double doors of the hotel.
“Manager’s waiting outside. Jongdae and I alr