Approaching the girl silently, Jeno lowered his posture, his nose scrunching after seeing the ill expression that his best friend was sporting.
“You okay, bestie?” Jeno softly asked.
Shuhua looked up, pouting and close to tears, “no, I feel like .” She immediately clung onto Jeno, sniffling, not because she was already crying, but because her nose was clogged with so much snot.
“Shu, ew, you’re gonna get me sick too.” Jeno playfully grimaced, only for Shuhua to whine, landing a punch onto his chest.
“Kidding. I’m only kidding.” Jeno snickered, wrapping his arms around Shuhua’s shoulders, rubbing comforting circles with his thumb.
“You should’ve skipped your classes today if you were feeling sick.” Jeno said, clicking his tongue, laying his cheek flat against the top of Shuhua’s head.
Shuhua shook her head, “I had an exam, and this Psychology teacher is a real pain in the . He docked off professionalism points from me because I accidentally dropped my water bottle and interrupted his class. Who even does that?”
Jeno chuckled, “Professor Smith? Yeah, I heard he was a racist and a ist, so I’m not surprised that he did that to you. I honestly don’t know why he’s not fired yet.”
Shuhua frowned, tightening her arms around Jeno’s waist, eyes closing tiredly. “Can you stay with me? I’m scared to be alone when I’m sick.” Shuhua mumbled, raising her head to face Jeno, but refusing to open her eyes, as they slightly swayed in the middle of their school campus.
Jeno chuckled, poking Shuhua on the cheek, and keeping his finger there. “Shu, I have dance practice that starts in an hour.”
Shuhua softly groaned, no power in her body to throw a fit, “take me with you.”
Jeno grinned, finding his best friend all too adorable the way she acted very clingy and babyish when she was sick. “And where would you stay? I can’t take you inside the practice room, Shu.”
Shuhua opened her eyes, frown growing, “I don’t know, I guess I can wait for you in one of those seating areas they have on every floor.”
Jeno titled his head, “wouldn’t it be more comfortable to go home and rest in bed, Shu? I promise I’ll come right after I finish practice and take care of you.” Jeno assured, but Shuhua shook her head, closing her eyes again.
“No, you’ll forget about me, and I’ll be all alone.” Shuhua slightly whimpered, head throbbing painfully.
Jeno furrowed his eyebrows, “I won’t forget about you, Shu.”
Shuhua hummed, “yes, you will. It’s easy to forget about me.”
Jeno only grew more confused at Shuhua’s words. He was confused as to why Shuhua would say such a thing. It sounded scarring from how much pain and desperation came out of Shuhua’s voice when she said it, and Jeno wonders if it’s because Shuhua felt super ill, or if it sprung deep from Shuhua’s heart. Jeno could only assume that the route of how Shuhua’s parents had brought her into this world, filled with neglect, had something to do with it.
“I won’t.” Jeno assured again, voice firm.
Shuhua’s frown deepened, “just take me with you, Jeno. Please? Be a good best friend and give your sick bestie what she wants.” Shuhua poked Jeno’s chest twice, a scolding tone in her voice.
Jeno rolled his eyes, “okay, you big baby.”
Shuhua smiled triumphantly, satisfied that she had managed to persuade Jeno. They started to walk towards the direction they were supposed to go, Shuhua still clinging very much onto him, and letting him lead her body wherever they were going.
“Maybe you can lighten Soojin’s mood and get her to stop being such a hard . She’s so scary when she’s teaching, Shu.” Jeno said, and Shuhua softly giggled.
“How am I supposed to do that?” Shuhua questioned.
Jeno shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe seduce her. Ooh! Give her a quickie in the bathroom like you did that one time.” Shuhua groaned, regretting once again, and asking herself why she had to tell Jeno everything about her life.
“Jeno! I swear to god, you make me want to stop telling you things.” Shuhua facepalmed herself.
Jeno wagged his finger in front of the both of them, “ah ah, what title do I hold again? That’s right, best of the best friends, but most importantly, Yeh Shuhua’s best friend. You are obligated, Shu. You hear? Obligated, to tell me everything juicy going on in your life.”
“I’m not going to give Soojin a quickie just so she can stop being a hard . She’s naturally like that, if you didn’t already know. Besides, maybe she’s being hard on you for a reason.” Shuhua says, and Jeno scoffed, laying his hand dramatically onto his chest, offense clear on his face.
“Excuse me, but I think for those implications, I have the right to revoke your title as my bestie.” Jeno turned his head the other way, and Shuhua rolled her eyes at his dramatic .
“You said this is forever. Ball and chain, Jeno, you can’t revoke it.” Shuhua teased, tapping the hand that loosely slung over her shoulder.
“Forever? Wow, you must be special then, huh, Shu? Forever’s quite a long time.” Jeno teased, leaning his forehead onto Shuhua’s temple, and nuzzling their heads together adoringly.
“Ball and chain.” Shuhua repeated, letting out a fit of giggles with a big grin, which then turned into a series of coughing and hacking.
“Shu, I still think you should go home and rest.” Jeno rubbed her back comfortingly, a frown on his lips.
Shuhua shook her head, “no, I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?” Jeno questioned.
Shuhua shook her head again, not bothering to answer his question, as another set of coughs escaped , throat painfully dry and scratchy.
“Okay, okay. Let’s get you some water first.” Jeno sighed, wrapping his arms around Shuhua again, and entering the building that his dance practice was being held at.
Jeno bought a bottle of water from one of the vending machines that every floor had, bringing it to the table that Shuhua was slumped over, eyes already closed.
“Practice is almost three hours long, Shu.” Jeno said, biting his lip worriedly.
Shuhua sat up, and took the bottle from Jeno, sipping from it slowly. “I’ll be okay. I’ll wait right here.” Shuhua stubbornly assured.
“H-How about I call Lucas or Chan? Or maybe the other girls will stay with you, Shu?” Jeno said, scratching his head.
Shuhua shook her head, “they’re all in class right now.”
Jeno clicked his tongue, “stubborn brat.” He lightly knocked Shuhua’s head, to which the Taiwanese girl let out a whine.
“I’ll be done in three hours. I’ll check up on you whenever I can till then, okay?” Jeno said, bending towards Shuhua’s slumped position to lay a kiss on the top of her head.
Soojin watched with blank eyes, her hand holding the iPad that the speaker was wirelessly connected to, as the music blasted throughout the practice room.
Without changing her expression, Soojin paused the music, shaking her head. “Right leg first, then left, Jeno. Get it right. I don’t want to tell you again.” Jeno could only nod, very out of breath, sweat dripping from his soaked hair.
“Again.” Soojin said, watching the members get back into the beginning formation.
“Don’t slouch.” Soojin pointed to Hyunjin, who automatically fixed his posture. Taeyong laughed from his sitting position on the floor, shaking his head, only amused at Soojin’s strictness.
The music started playing again, but stopping not even ten seconds later. “You were early, Jeno.” Soojin sighed, a disappointed look on her face.
“Okay, why don’t we take five?” Chungha interrupted, laying a hand on Soojin’s shoulder before she could play the music again.
“Take it easy on them, will ya?” Chungha gave Soojin a look.
“Soojin is usually ier, I think she is being a little nicer today.” Taeyong teasingly grinned, earning an eye roll from Soojin.
Chungha chuckled, “I guess you’re right.”
Soojin huffed, “I am not y. I prefer to be called a perfectionist.”
“Jeno, your friend, Shuhua, sounds like she’s dying out there. You should probably send her home.” Hyunjin walked back into the room, a water bottle from the vending machine in his hands.
Jeno sighed, “I tried to.”
Soojin’s eyebrows met in the middle, eavesdropping on their conversation. “What’s Shuhua doing here, Jeno? And what does he mean by that?” She asked, walking towards him.
Jeno was surprised at how Soojin’s tone sounded like she was actually worried. With all the stories that Shuhua has told him, and how she would describe Soojin’s personality, it didn’t seem like Soojin would care.
“O-Oh, she’s super sick. She’s waiting in the seating area just outside.” Jeno pointed to the door, blinking in surprise.
Soojin frowned, “call Lucas to come and take her home?” She suggested, as if it was the most obvious thing ever.
“I tried. She’s being stubborn. She’s scared to be alone when she’s sick.” Jeno explained and a snicker could be heard behind them.
“That’s a bit childish.” Ten snorted.
Soojin’s head snapped towards him, glaring, and Ten gave her a confused look, “what?”
“You’re scared to eat fruit, Ten. Shut up.” Soojin said, a bite to her tone. Jeno’s mouth slightly opened into an amused smile, eyebrows raised in surprise once again.
Taeyong laughed, a bit too obnoxiously, hitting Ten on his leg. “She told you.” Ten rolled his eyes, only sticking his tongue at Soojin.
“The irony that you just proved.” Lisa shook her head at Ten.
“Um, I’ll just check on Shuhua really quickly, and I’ll be back by the time we start.” Jeno said, already standing up, and heading for the door.
“No, wait. I’ll do it. I’m not going to let you take away practice time from the rest of the members. Ten, lead without me. I’ll be right back.” Soojin said, and Jeno could only watch in confusion, as Soojin walked passed him and out the door.
Soojin spotted Shuhua quickly, rolling her eyes at the way the younger girl was slumped over the table, almost seeming lifeless. She quietly took a seat in front of Shuhua, only staring. Soojin pushed forward, leaning to the right to see that the girl had her eyes closed, eyebrows furrowed in discomfort.
“Hey, stray girl.” Soojin nudged the arm that was outstretched onto the table. Shuhua only let out a groan, trying to swat at the hand that had touched her.
“If you’re sick, you should be at home trying to get better. Not waiting for your boyfriend to finish practice.” Soojin whispered.
Shuhua frowned, raising her body into a sitting position, but not opening her eyes because any sort of light would only make her head throb more.
“Soojin? What do you want? No for you, unless you find snotty coughing and hacking, y.”