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seasons change...

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Minho always loved the fall season.

 

It meant that his birthday was right around the corner, and who doesn't love getting free things just because they were born?

 

Not only that, he also loved the color palette that came along will fall, the warm crisp tones that contrasted beautifully with winter's cooler palette. He loved the themed drinks that came out around this time-not that he'd admit it to anyone else-and the wonderful feeling of coziness that seemed to linger everywhere.

 

Fall also meant winter, which meant breaks from school, delicious food, and even more presents.

 

So, Minho always loved these seasons.

 

Until he didn't.

 

---

 

Minho was currently in his junior year of high school, had an amazing group of friends, was doing fairly well in his classes, and seemed to have nothing to complain about.

 

So why was he feeling this way?

 

If he had to guess, the feeling started somewhere at the start of October. Rather than the usual excitement, it was almost as though there was something gnawing at him, never going away no matter how much he slept or what he did.

 

It caused him to be slightly out of it at Chan's birthday party (which really was more like a hangout between their group of 9 friends, not that anyone was complaining though), but with all the attention on the birthday boy Minho's out of character behavior went unnoticed. Even when he made no move to smash Chan's face into the cake as he did every year, Jisung simply took his place, a heart-shaped grin on his face.

 

As he laid in the cuddle puddle the boys had created and attempted to sleep like those around him, he wondered where all the joy he felt for fall had gone.

 

---

 

The changes were tiny, yet they were there.

 

Minho found himself turning in more assignments late and half-assed, which caused his grades to slowly but surely decline. He even began writing more with his right hand which typically only happened when his left hand was incredibly tired. He was finding it hard to concentrate in class and wanted nothing more to curl up in his bed and sleep for a hundred years or so.

 

His friends seemed to slightly catch on to their 4D-friend's mood and asked him about it when they saw how spaced out he was during some of their conversations. They tried to subtly support him, resorting to small nudges and whispering "Are you okay?" when he seemed spacey.

 

Yet Minho refused to let his friends worry over something so small. You're just being lazy, he told himself, no need to worry them. So he made sure to smile at them and to act happy, and soon enough the questions stopped as the other 8 believed their friend was back to normal.

 

---

 

He didn't know when it had gotten so bad.

 

Getting out of bed was a chore, he was on the cusp of a C or B- in most of his classes, snacks seemed more frequent, and he was just tired.

 

It was a week after the time change and with the darkness creeping in earlier, not only was Minho disoriented (much like everyone else),  but it was almost like he felt worse.

 

He didn't think much of it when he turned off his alarm and simply went back to sleep.

 

---

 

He woke up to the sound of muffled voices downstairs and sat up rubbing his eyes.

 

One quick look around the room left Minho in awe.

 

In his crestfallen mood, his room had slowly but surely gotten messier, yet he never had the motivation to clean it up. Now, however, the room was freshly cleaned, everything in its place. Someone had even strung up some fairy lights among his curtains and placed a fuzzy blanket on the bean bag he had in one corner.

 

He felt his eyes water, touched by the action that was clearly the doing of his friends. It was then that Minho remembered that he heard someone-probably them-downstairs, so with a sigh, he wiped his eyes, pushed away the blankets and got up.

 

As he was about to exit the room, something caught his eye.

 

Draped across his desk chair was a light blue hoodie-the same one he had seen Woojin wear countless times. Without a second thought, Minho reached over to grab the hoodie and pulled it over his head.

 

Minho was, in all honesty, pretty petite. He was used to the constant teasing for his "smol baby hands" although those jokes were now directed at Felix. Now, wearing Woojin's hoodie he felt like he was drowning in the fabric. Woojin had broad shoulders and was a bit taller than Minho, effectively giving the hoodie an oversized feel, with it hanging off of Minho's frame and covering his hands. It also smelled like fall, Minho noted, warm and crisp.

 

He felt the tears form in his eyes once again but was quick to wipe them off, take a deep breath, and open the door.

 

He walked down the stairs, stopping on the 2nd to last step to peer into the kitchen.

 

Jisung and Felix were setting up the dining table, with Felix chastising Jisung for not folding the napkin correctly. Seungmin and Jeongin were serving what seemed to be pasta onto the plates, while Hyunjin and Changbin went around serving salad. Woojin and Chan were washing pots and pans side by side, and it all felt so domestic, Minho felt his eyes fill with tears yet again.

 

A few seconds later, Jisung saw Minho and flashed him a gummy smile.

 

"Hey, look who's awake! We made dinner for you!"

 

Everyone turned and smiled at Minho. He didn't even have time to wipe his eyes before he burst into tears.

 

As everyone went into panic mode, because oh my god Minho was crying, Jisung quickly set down the remaining forks in his hand and rushed to Minho.

 

Minho didn't think twice as he wrapped his arms around Jisung, and just let it all out. The rest of the group joined them on the stairs, yet gave Minho some space. The chubby-cheeked teen was running his hands through Minho's hair, whispering soft reassurances to him. Minho hadn't even noticed they were sitting, but once he managed to calm down some he turned to Woojin, and made grabby hands.

 

The oldest couldn't hold back from cooing at his actions and quickly sat the crying boy on his lap. Minho snuggled into the warmth and sighed contently into Woojin's neck. He felt a hand rubbing his back, and nearly started crying again when he heard Woojin whisper softly, "You're alright, I got you".

 

Before the waterworks could start again, he looked up bleary eyed at the others.

 

"Can we all cuddle?"

 

They all seemed to let out a sigh of relief at the soft voice, and made quick work of moving to the couch. Minho melted back into Woojin as the older picked him up and led them toward the living room.

 

For a few minutes there was nothing but the soft reassurances whispered here and there. Changbin had his hands in Minho's hair, lightly scratching his scalp, when he spoke, "You wanna tell us what's wrong?"

 

And Minho just broke, letting everything come out of him. How everything felt wrong, how he couldn't bring himself to do anything, how he was just tired. He ended his rant with a soft "I-I don't know" and looked up at the others.

 

They all seemed to wear similar sad smiles, before he felt someone hug him from behind.

 

"You'll be okay~", came Chan's voice and Minho couldn't help but let out a soft laugh. Everyone let out a chuckle and engulfed Minho in a hug.

 

He'll be okay.