“Orange~ You know, you should drink some orange juice to help you with that cold of yours!”
A sniff, a cough, and a wide smile, Jongdae could only blink at the male looking expectantly at him with a cat-like grin settled across his youthful face. “Ah hyung, I’m okay! It’s nothing. I’ll get better in a few days, just you wait, I’ll be good as new! This is just an ordinary cold!” he replied, keeping his voice at a soft volume to contain the sandpaper quality that had recently appeared within it before the last few days of getting ready for their comeback.
His group member could only sigh quietly at his response and shake his head at him, a bit exasperated by how Jongdae never felt the need to tell others how he really felt about things, especially when he was sick. Moving closer the younger boy to place a gentle hand on his shoulder, he stated softly, “I just hope that you get better soon, Jongdae. Just lip-sync your part for the concert, okay? Don’t try to strain your throat on our comeback stage and afterwards... We need you to be healthy, so please take care of yourself this time. Remember, orange juice. Drink it.”
The sternness in his voice was soothed by the nearly goofy smile the male was sporting, while Jongdae could only answer with a grin and an eager nod, his smile just reaching his eyes. After hearing Minseok say such caring words for him, it really did give him this determined fire that ignited deep within his guts and a hope that he would soon regain his voice back in no time. “I know, I know, Baozi-hyung! You too, we’re all going to pig out after the concert so you can get those cheeks back~”
A quick poke to those said cheeks only got a playful pout from their owner in return before the rest of the group filed into the room, the nervous and excited atmosphere between them almost palpable as they all surrounded Jongdae, each of them giving their own type of encouragement to the shorter boy.
“Ah, Jongdae-yah~ Don’t sing today, okay?” Chanyeol cheerfully piped in with a small grin, while Baekhyun, situated right next to the tall rapper, went on with a gentle “Chen-Chen~! You don’t have to really sing, you know? Take care of yourself, okay.”
“Jongdae-hyung! You’re feeling okay, right? You alright to go on?” Sehun quietly asked, eyes filled with worry for the older boy. The look immediately caused Jongdae to nod in response before being bombarded by even more words of concern and encouragement from the other members in their usual boisterous ways, determined to continue crowding even more around him, almost suffocating him with how close they were getting to his person. He almost jumped when someone something in his direction.
“Here, drink this, Jongdae.” Suddenly, a bottle of what looked to be some suspicious green laboratory fluid was pushed into Jongdae’s hands, causing him to blink for a moment in confusion, only to raise his eyes up to try and spot who had given this to him.
It wasn’t hard exactly, seeing that said person towered over the others in front of him and had this look on his face that would scare most, but to Jongdae, it was just one of intense concern―concern for him.
It was a relief, another moment that sparked a warm flame in him, as Jongdae gratefully flashed his leader a smile before taking a few sips from the drink―no matter how odd or suspicious it might look, he knew it wouldn’t hurt him. That drink came out to be a refreshing splash of cold tea that easily soothed his throat a bit... But sadly, the effects only lasted for a few seconds before the pain steadily flared up again, making his sickness known in the worst ways, especially so close to their comeback. However, he couldn’t exactly tell Kris that it didn’t help, so he simply swallowed it down with some difficulty instead, flashing the tall male a reassuring smile when he was finished.
Being taken up in the whirlwind of concern and care from his group mates, he couldn’t help but feel touched, smiling like an idiot at all of them and doing his best to placate them as they crowded around him as if they were like a mosh pit at a concert. This was what he loved the most―feeling the warm and cheerful energies off his group mates, even if they could be a bit stifling at times. Therefore, with a quiet chuckle, the male made a playful motion of parting the waves as he attempted to push through his taller friends. “Hey~ I’m perfectly fine! I think having all of you squish me in like this is making me feel even worse than before.”
Realizing that boxing the boy into a corner wasn’t the best way to go about showing their concern, they silently backed away a bit to stop the needless crowding, giving the boy some room to finally breathe in relief. While the maknaes of each subgroup and a few of the older members weren’t exactly deterred by the singer’s usual bravado, but the warmth in Jongdae’s smile and joking attitude made the worry lines disappear from their faces a bit. Tao and Sehun especially were lavished with attention as Jongdae made sure to smile at them a bit more than he did the others.
He extremely disliked making people worry, and surprisingly, those two worried a bit too much about him and the others, them trying to be the best brothers they could be. It was sweet of them to be so caring, but it was just a simple cold, so they didn’t really have too much to worry about. It felt ridiculous to Jongdae to think that it could be something worse; it wasn’t as if he was going to die or something. That outcome had to be impossible, he was barely in his twenties and for him to have been a relatively healthy person throughout the years, dying didn’t seem plausible in the least.
So giving a small laugh and whipping out a well executed knock-knock joke from his arsenal of humorous wit , Jongdae was effectively able to make a few of them laugh and get rid of their nerves, while Yixing was quick to follow suit with his slightly eccentric, deadpan commentary to keep them laughing. Luhan tried to follow up with his own special brand of humor, not realizing how lame his jokes were until he unknowingly gave away the punchline of a joke and caused the other members to stare at him as if he was crazy. With that, he was quick to stop himself from continuing on, while Yixing and Jongin immediately picked up the slack to cover for their awkward group member and Minseok could only console the second oldest as he pouted ― it hurt not being as naturally gifted as the others to make jokes, even Joonmyun was funnier than him on most occasions.
Through all of these silly and familiar antics thrown around the group, Jongdae gave him a small smile and a pat on the shoulder, only to turn his attention back to the group, grinning and laughing when appropriate, doing his best to ignore the pain in his throat. He found that listening to the other members joke, laugh with each other, and get rid of their nerves before their concert was something that soothed his entire being, especially that throbbing ache in his throat. That and the fact that it was getting closer until the time they were supposed to go on stage helped start the adrenaline run through his veins and effectively cloud his mind a bit from the pain. He couldn’t have felt any better than if he was actually plugged into an outlet and was taking in an insurmountable amount of energy, as if his body was being true to his debut power’s namesake.
He felt as if he was literally running on electricity or at least something akin to it as his body thrummed in excitement. So letting himself feel this unmistakable energy, power, Jongdae felt himself bouncing on the balls of his feet as he waited the last couple of minutes before the director was ushering them out of the room and to the stage, telling them to ‘break a leg’ as theater members would put it. Silently walking out onstage with the rest of his group mates after a silent cheer amongst them, the lights dim enough to shield themselves from the audience, but light enough for them to find their places, Jongdae situated himself near the front, ready to sing.
Hearing the countdown through his earpiece and then the start of ‘MAMA’ in the background, he took a deep breath to calm his racing heart before he felt a sudden blinding, brightness envelop his form. Song quickly erupted from deep within his chest, his voice hoarse and pained sounding to his ears, but masqueraded by the demo track, the track he thought he was finally able to get rid of.
Hiding the negative feelings behind a smile, he tried not to think about how he was cheating the audience somehow, how he was cheating them by not letting them hear his best performance, his hard work, as his voice continued to sound as if it was in tatters, while his throat started to feel even worse than it had before.
Singing as much as he could, doing what needed to be done for the concert, he could only feel grateful when they sang the last note for their last song, his throat on fire and the need to sleep starting to eat away at the back of his mind. Breathing heavily away from the microphone, he was thankful when the lights were finally cut, enshrouding the group in darkness, effectively hiding his ill state from the other members and the audience, their screams barely heard by the sudden onslaught of his thoughts. He hadn’t been able to give his best and knowing how much the audience had paid and wanted to see them, to see him sing, Jongdae could only feel terrible at how awful his performance was.
Feeling someone - Chanyeol, wrap their arm around his shoulders and chatter away at how awesome they were, Jongdae could only slink his way to the backroom, feeling horrible inside, but smiling like an idiot to keep the others from knowing how sick he felt. He let them cart him away to a nearby restaurant, forcing him to drink juice and tea, while making sure he ate something, even though it felt like he was eating glass. Then, after an hour or so passed before they found themselves back at the dorm, all of them tired to the bones and more than ready to pass out in their beds.
Jongdae felt absolutely abhorrent.
the writers' words
XiuMini: Our first chapter! We can only hope you enjoyed this one, as we're very excited for the rest of the story. :)
conchobar: Yay! Chapter one is finally done. I hope you find this chapter to be to your liking. Thank you for all the support so far, you lovely commenters and subscribers you, you're really making our days.
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< a tori creation >