Jeonghan was up pretty early, making coffee in his kitchen, and setting up an appointment at the campus clinic for Joshua.
He was hardly able to sleep that night. He found himself waking up every half hour to check on Joshua, to make sure he was still asleep, still beside him, and to make sure he was okay. Jeonghan felt a constant heavy weight pressing against his chest, a worry he couldn't just brush off and forget about.
Joshua usually woke up pretty early on the weekends, spending most of his time doing school related things. Jeonghan knew he probably wouldn’t be able to keep Joshua at his apartment the whole weekend - it’d drive Joshua crazy if he was lying in bed all day and not getting anything done, and Jeonghan knew that. But he also knew that he needed rest and a lot of it.
It was almost noon, now, and he was sure Joshua had never slept in that long in his entire life.
Jeonghan wandered back into his room after another half hour, bringing in a glass of water for Joshua.
The latter was awake, although hardly. His eyes were half-lidded and unfocused, his brain clearly elsewhere, not acknowledging that Jeonghan was in the doorway.
“I made the appointment for the clinic, so hopefully there won’t be a lot of waiting,” Jeonghan said softly as he turned the light on, hoping it would wake Joshua up, but he screwed his eyes shut as soon as he registered the light, and covered his face.
Jeonghan immediately regretted that as he shut the lights back off, worry flooding his chest as he approached the bed again, placing the glass of water on the nightstand. He sat at the edge of the bed, patting Joshua’s head. “I’m sorry, Shua, I completely forgot about the migraine. I thought the lights would help wake you, the appointment is at one.”
“It’s okay,” Joshua mumbled a little shakily, lowering his hands from his face once he seemed positive that the lights were off again. “What time is it?”
“It’s twelve, now. So we have an hour, it won’t take long to get there.” Jeonghan told him. He saw the stress start manifesting in Joshua’s brain again in how he tensed up, how his breaths were a little quicker, but only slightly. Jeonghan knew he still wasn’t feeling well and he probably didn’t want to leave the bed. “How are you, compared to yesterday?”
“About the same,” he murmured tiredly, bunching up the blanket in his arms and curling them into his chest. He looked so miserable. “My stomach still hurts,” he told him, and Jeonghan could have guessed that without Joshua telling him. He could see how nauseous he was just by looking at him.
Jeonghan sighed and laid down beside him, a hand sliding under his shirt to rub circles into his tummy. The skin was warm, Jeonghan noticed, and he moved his hand up to press to Joshua’s forehead, just to see if it was the same there - and it was. Jeonghan wasn’t surprised he had a fever, but it seemed low, at least. He knew he would need to keep an eye on it, though.
His hand moved back until Joshua’s shirt, and they stayed like that for a few minutes. Joshua seemed a little calmer, not as visibly stressed and hurting. Jeonghan knew that getting him to the clinic was going to be difficult - not just because it was clear he didn’t want to leave the bed, but also because he was feeling so horribly. He could hardly walk straight the day before. He was nauseous, so the car ride wouldn’t be fun for him. The lights were making his headache worse. Staying in bed was the best option for him, and Jeonghan wondered if most of that would clear up a migraine on its own.
“Mr. Kim emailed me this morning, he asked how you’re doing,” Jeonghan told him, remembering that. It came rather early, about seven or eight in the morning. He said he emailed Joshua as well, but asked if Jeonghan to pass on the message in case Joshua wasn’t near his phone. It was really nice of him to do, but then again, having a student pass out during class was definitely a big deal.
He saw Joshua chewing on his lip, recalling the memories of what had happened the day before. “Did he say anything about the presentation? If I need to redo it…” Joshua murmured nervously, and Jeonghan was tempted to pout at him. Of course he was worried about that.
“He didn’t say, but I can ask,” Jeonghan assured him.
“I don’t want to go back. Everyone saw it, I…” he started, and Jeonghan could almost feel the tension in his voice. His breaths were getting a little faster. “I can’t...I can’t redo it.”
“Don’t think about that right now, Shua. I’ll handle it for you, okay? No worries.” Jeonghan said, his voice more stern, very aware that Joshua was digging himself into a hole with the way he was thinking.
Joshua sat up, and his arms were hardly able to pull himself up to do that. He was looking around the room a little frantically, looking much more awake, but in a way that made him look anxious and alert - certainly not awake in the kind of way that would make it look like he felt better. “Where’s….did I leave my bag at school? - ”
“No, I brought it, it’s in the kitchen,” Jeonghan told him, a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to ground him.
“I have to...I have so much to do, Jeonghan, I can’t stay. I have homework, and this project I need to finish, I haven’t even started on it.” Joshua insisted, talking so fast Jeonghan almost asked him to repeat himself. He watched how his shoulders bunched up and he took a very shaky breath, lips pressed into a line. He looked about ready to cry. “But, I...my head hurts so bad, I can’t focus on all of that stuff, I don’t know what to do - I’ll fail all of it - ”
“Stop that, Shua, you don’t need to worry about that right now, okay? You need to focus on getting better and resting, I’ll take care of your homework.” Jeonghan told him sternly, but Joshua’s eyes were still wild, looking tempted to crawl past him to get out of bed - even though it was clear he couldn’t do that without falling over.
Joshua’s eyes were filled to the brim with tears already and he looked like he wanted to argue but he couldn’t, instead covering his eyes just as his tears started to spill.
Jeonghan held him closely and Joshua buried his face into his shoulder, shaking, sobbing almost. Joshua never cried like this, ever - not in the three years Jeonghan had known him, and he realized that it must be some sort of panic attack that he was having.
Jeonghan didn’t let go of him, patting down his hair and back as he cooed to try to calm him, although it was difficult to get it to work. Joshua never tried to pull away but his tears didn’t stop - he was so frustrated with himself and so worried about his work and it was driving him insane. Jeonghan hated seeing him like that, he hated it more than anything he could imagine.
“You’re doing just fine, angel,” Jeonghan told him softly as Joshua started to calm a bit, still crying but not sobbing. He felt Joshua grip the front of Jeonghan’s shirt, with a little whimper, silently begging him not to go anywhere. As if Jeonghan would ever do that to him.
He had him lie down after a few more minutes of holding him close. Jeonghan laid with him, playing with his hair, a loose but caring grip on his hand, until Joshua finally fell back asleep, clearly exhausted from everything that had just happened.
Jeonghan realized it was already past one, now, and they had missed the appointment. As if Joshua would have even been able to make it to the car without falling apart like he just had.
He had to find a way to get his homework done for him, he realized. The classes Joshua took were much more difficult that Jeonghan’s, so he was almost positive he wouldn’t be able to do it on his own.
He stayed in his bed, using his free hand to scroll through his contacts. He eventually landed on Seokmin’s name - Jeonghan sighed.
Seokmin. They were best friends in high school until Seokmin got scouted for an idol company - and now Jeonghan hardly saw him anymore. They were still friends, just not as close, because Seokmin was always busy, being a trainee.
Seokmin was really smart, though. He could easily help him do Joshua’s homework. Maybe Jeonghan could use it as an excuse to invite him over - if he wasn’t busy.
Jeonghan was very careful as he climbed out of the bed. He kept his movements as minimal as possible because the last thing he wanted was for Joshua to wake up, or notice that Jeonghan was no longer beside him. He hoped with everything that Joshua would stay asleep for a while, at least long enough for Jeonghan to set up and finish his plan.
Jeonghan pressed the little phone icon to call Seokmin as soon as he had the door shut, pressing his phone to his ear as he wandered into the kitchen.
“Jeonghan hyung! I haven’t heard from you in forever. There must be an emergency.” Seokmin said as soon as he answered, his tone one hundred percent joking, but Jeonghan felt a little pang of guilt against his heart. “Can I come over to your dorm, hyung? I miss you. And I also wanna get out of here before they find something else to make me do.”
Jeonghan sighed in relief as soon as Seokmin asked that, without even being prompted to. “Please, please come over. I miss you too.” Jeonghan said meekly. He really did. “I need your help with some homework, too, if you don’t mind.”
“Yeah, no problem! I’ll take an Uber. Should be like, twenty, thirty minutes if I’m lucky and there’s no traffic? Is that okay?”
Seokmin asked. Jeonghan heard him shuffling for a second, and a voice in the background.
“Oh, is it okay if Hoshi hyung comes too? He’s smart, he can help.”
Jeonghan raised a brow. “Hoshi?” he asked. He couldn’t keep up with all of Seokmin’s idol friends.
“Oh, Soonyoung! Sorry. We’re trying to get used to saying each other’s stage names.” Seokmin said the last part so proudly that Jeonghan found himself smiling, even if Seokmin couldn’t see.
“Okay, Soonyoung can come. You haven’t even told me your stage name, Seokmin.” Jeonghan added an audible pout to the end of his sentence, making sure to sound as offended as possible.
“It’s Dokyeom, hyung! I thought I told you.” Seokmin pouted through the phone, too, and Jeonghan laughed. “Okay, we’re gonna grab that Uber. See you soon!”
Jeonghan told him goodbye before Seokmin hung up the phone, and he felt a little guilty for not explaining the entire situation to him. What is it was something that Seokmin didn’t want to do, or get involved in? Seokmin was easy to read, so Jeonghan could just offer him a ride back if that were the case. He hoped it wasn’t, though.
Jeonghan was sitting in front of his bed when he heard the knock on the front door of his apartment. Joshua was still asleep, thankfully, and the knocking didn’t seem to stir him - so Jeonghan closed the door behind him after he stood up to leave, so Joshua could rest in silence.
He already had all of Joshua’s homework laid out on the kitchen table, because thankfully, the latter was organized, and kept his unfinished things in a folder, along with a printed out calendar of when everything was due. It made Jeonghan’s plan a lot easier.
He opened the door to reveal a very smiley Seokmin and Soonyoung, both of which were holding a bag of what was probably Chinese food, but Seokmin with an extra. He’d probably brought some for Jeonghan - which was really thoughtful of him, considering Jeonghan might have forgotten to eat breakfast. Or lunch.
Jeonghan found himself trying to force a smile back, but he couldn’t, and he nearly fell apart on the spot when he saw Seokmin’s smile fade. He walked forward to hug him, and Jeonghan’s chest felt tight. He didn’t want to put any of this on him, but Seokmin always knew when something was wrong. He couldn’t hide anything from him, not even sugarcoat it.
“Hi, Seokmin,” Jeonghan’s voice was a little shaky but his grip around the younger was tight. Seokmin hugged him back even tighter, and they stayed like that for a few long seconds, unfortunately leaving Soonyoung to awkwardly stand off to the side.
“You're really stressed, huh?” Seokmin observed more than asked, taking a step back with a concerned but warm expression. “What’s up? I doubt it’s just about homework.”
“I’ll explain in a minute, come inside,” Jeonghan said with a little sigh, giving Soonyoung a little wave.
Seokmin and Soonyoung placed the bags of Chinese food on the kitchen counter and started taking it all out of the bags. Seokmin grabbed plates and bowls as needed from Jeonghan’s cabinets, and Jeonghan was honestly surprised Seokmin still remembered where everything was. He hadn’t been there in so long.
Jeonghan helped pick up a few things so they could move to the kitchen table, and Seokmin and Soonyoung sorted out the homework between each other - who would be best at doing what, Jeonghan gathered from the conversation as he sat down.
They both started, and Jeonghan did too, on the things he figured he would be best at, going between looking at that and eating the food Seokmin and Soonyoung had brought for him.
“So, I’m pretty sure your name isn’t Joshua Hong.” Seokmin started nonchalantly and Jeonghan had almost forgotten about that part - Joshua’s name was written all over his stuff, of course they would see it. “That’s your friend from America, right?”
“Isn’t he the one that plays guitar, too?” Soonyoung asked, head tilted. “You know, my offer still stands if he ever wants to be an idol. The company’s looking for someone who plays.”
Jeonghan almost laughed at the idea of Joshua being an idol - not because he didn’t think he could do it, just because it seemed out of character for him. The lifestyle really suited Soonyoung and Seokmin - they were really good dancers and singers, and really good at being funny on command, both with very idol-like personalities. He couldn’t see Joshua doing the kind of stuff Soonyoung and Seokmin did. He did have a nice voice, though. And he was good at guitar.
“They’ll find someone,” Jeonghan told him with a little smile and Soonyoung gave a very exaggerated pout. Seokmin was still waiting on an explanation, though, Jeonghan could see it in his eyes. “It’s a long story, kind of. He’s in my room right now, sleeping.”
Soonyoung’s face went sort of red for a second, which Jeonghan found really odd, and he raised a brow - but he jolted, presumably because of something Seokmin did, before the latter continued talking. “I mean, I’m here long enough to hear a long story,” Seokmin said.
“It’s...I’ll give you the short version.” Jeonghan decided with a little sigh, absentmindedly playing with the straw in his drink. “He’s been..off all week, I guess. Sick, for sure, but with a lot on his mind, too. He’s had a headache all week, got sick Thursday, passed out yesterday and had an anxiety attack today.”
“Sounds like he’s perfect for idol life.” Soonyoung joked, but Seokmin shut him up with an elbow to his arm. An interesting exchange, considering that usually that behavior would be reversed for them.
“Has he gone to a doctor?” Seokmin asked, sounding a little worried. Jeonghan wanted to tell him yes.
“I had an appointment for him at the campus clinic this morning, but...he couldn’t. He’s too focused on his school work to even begin thinking about his health. That’s why I called you, I wanted to help get it done for him, so he can rest without that on his mind.” Jeonghan murmured, his eyes at the paper laid out in front of him. “I'm worried about him. I've never seen him like this before, Seokmin.”
“It sounds like it’s a lot for him to handle,” Seokmin told him, clearly just as worried as Jeonghan was - and so was Soonyoung. “You should try taking him to the clinic again, maybe they can help.”
“I want to, but he can’t get out of bed. He can hardly hold his head up on his own.” Jeonghan murmured quietly, his voice on the verge of breaking. He’d thought about the clinic again, of course he had, but Joshua was so physically and emotionally exhausted that even moving would drain all the energy from him.
“Hmm…” Seokmin started, tapping the pencil in his hand on his chin in thought, and both sets of eyes were now on him, waiting for an answer or solution. “I have a friend, he’s a med student? A freshman, but really ahead in all of his classes. He might be able to come over and check him out.” he shrugged.
“I feel like he needs a doctor to check him out, not a freshman med student,” Soonyoung said with a little pout.
“I know, but like, just until he’s able to get to a doctor,” Seokmin explained. “It definitely wouldn’t hurt, is what I’m saying.”
Jeonghan nodded. That was definitely true. Jeonghan had no way of knowing what was really going on with Joshua, and at this point, he’d even take a loose diagnosis from a med student. “You’re right, it couldn’t hurt. Can you contact him?” Jeonghan asked.
“Of course. I’ll do it right now.” Seokmin answered eagerly, pulling out his phone to do as Jeonghan asked.
They continued Joshua’s work as they waited for an answer from Seokmin’s friend, and Jeonghan found his brain drifting away again, of course, worrying about Joshua. He was so torn between dragging him to the doctor or letting him rest and having someone check up on him until he could actually get out of bed. What if it was something really serious? What if rest wasn’t going to help him, and it was only going to get worse as time went on? What would he do then, how could he live with himself?
His hands were shaking so bad he couldn’t hold the pencil anymore, and he knew Seokmin was starting to notice that.
He excused himself from the table, saying he needed to just make sure Joshua was still asleep - which was true, but some irrational part of his brain was telling him that Joshua was dying, and he needed to make sure he was still alive.
He was very careful with opening the door but found that Joshua wasn’t asleep - for the most part, anyway. He seemed one hundred percent exhausted, that hadn’t changed, but his eyes were open and they were looking at Jeonghan.
“Hi,” Jeonghan greeted a little shyly as he closed the door behind him, just to make sure Seokmin and Soonyoung understood not to talk, and to make sure Joshua couldn’t see them.
“Who’s outside?” Joshua asked weakly, hardly moving his mouth when he spoke.
Jeonghan felt a little guilty, realizing that Joshua might have been listening the whole time. He felt something squeeze at his heart. “I’m not sure if you remember them. Seokmin and Soonyoung,” he answered, sitting at the edge of the bed.
Joshua acknowledged it with a nod. “Do they know I’m here?” he asked a little shyly.
“They’re helping me with doing your homework,” Jeonghan admitted, answering Joshua’s question and spilling the secret so Joshua knew that Jeonghan wasn’t hiding anything from him.
He saw Joshua’s expression change pretty much right away, a little confused, offended and a few other things. “Jeonghan-”
“I know, that’s why I didn’t ask you first,” Jeonghan said with a little sigh, but trying for a smile anyway. Joshua huffed, seemingly deciding to give up on the arguing. “I promise they’re smart, they won’t mess anything up. And you can look over it later, of course,” he explained. “It’s just to take some of the stress off of you, okay? I just wanted to do something to help.”
Joshua looked tempted to argue, and for a few seconds, he didn’t make any eye contact. But eventually, he just sighed. “Just tell me next time, please.” he murmured. “Thank you.”
“I will. I’m sorry, I didn’t want to wake you.” Jeonghan said, and maybe it was a little bit of an excuse, but it was true nonetheless.
He brushed the hair from Joshua’s eyes, and realized how much his hands were shaking, and he thought he would be quick enough to pull away so Joshua wouldn’t notice, but he saw Joshua frown, and prayed he wouldn’t say anything about it. Jeonghan really wasn’t good at holding back tears.
“Are you okay?” Joshua asked him carefully, visibly concerned, and Jeonghan felt so suffocated being on the other side of that question. He didn’t want to answer Joshua truthfully, because he didn’t want to think about it, and he didn’t want Joshua to worry - he was trying to make things easier on him today, and he couldn’t do that if he dumped his problems on him when Joshua was clearly suffering the most.
But Jeonghan cracked under the pressure. Tears were spilling from his eyes before he could do anything to stop them, and he felt completely exposed.
He didn’t even register how quickly Joshua sat up to wrap his arms around him, and at that moment, Jeonghan wanted so badly to disappear. He hated how he felt, he hated that he was making Joshua worry when it wasn’t necessary. He felt how his breath started getting caught in his throat like his lungs wanted to force the air out, and he heard Joshua start counting, something Jeonghan hadn’t even thought of trying to do.
He was careful about it, and the first few times it didn’t work, but Joshua didn’t stop in trying to help him - that kind of made Jeonghan want to cry more, but he tried his hardest to get through it. He would be okay.
“I’m thinking about it too much. I’m scared, just, what if it’s something really serious…” Jeonghan murmured once his breaths were somewhat even, feeling that he owed Joshua some kind of explanation, but he felt himself starting to get worked up again just by saying it out loud.
“It’s nothing more serious than a migraine, Hannie, I promise. I’d know if something felt wrong. I’d tell you.” Joshua told him firmly, but Jeonghan’s brain was shouting at him, telling him he was lying. He didn’t know if Joshua would tell the truth, and that was the worst part.
But he had to trust him. And he did.
“I’m sorry,” Jeonghan told him as he pulled away, and Joshua only shook his head in response. “No, it’s...I shouldn’t be putting any kind of extra stress on you.”
“You need to stop worrying so much, Hannie,” Joshua said with a little smile. “I’m gonna come out with you and help. I feel weird that three people are doing my homework and I’m not there.” Joshua said, and his tone was telling Jeonghan it was more of a joke, but also an excuse to come with Jeonghan. And get out of that little room.
“You need to eat something, too.” Jeonghan reminded him, sheepishly wiping at his eyes as Joshua climbed out of the bed. Part of him wanted to force him back into bed and keep him there so he could rest, but Joshua wasn’t the kind of person who would ever do that. He needed to be doing at least something. “Do you think soup is okay?”
“Yeah, that should be fine,” Joshua said, a little wobbly when he finally stood. Jeonghan turned, getting a little worried, but Joshua seemed more determined to get a solid footing because of that. He managed to do it and even offered a hand to pull Jeonghan off of the bed.
Jeonghan kept his hand with Joshua’s even after they were both standing, and there was some insane part of his brain that kept chanting something Jeonghan didn’t even want to fully register. Kiss him. Kiss him.
But he didn’t. Joshua slipped his hand out of Jeonghan’s as he walked out of the room, and Jeonghan was kind of glad that was how it had ended - his heart was racing, for some reason.
Joshua greeted both Seokmin and Soonyoung and Seokmin immediately got up to hug him, despite not knowing him very well. He wondered if Seokmin was a little worried, too - he was squeezing him to the point where Jeonghan had to mouth a little ‘be careful’ at him.
“What took you guys so long?” Soonyoung asked, with a weird hint of nervousness that Jeonghan decided to ignore.
Joshua looked tempted to answer, but Jeonghan did, instead. “It just took me a bit to wake him. I wanted him to come out and eat something.” Jeonghan tried as casually as possible, but he had a feeling that everyone in the room knew that was a flat out lie.
Joshua sat down with the two of them, chatting for a bit while Jeonghan tried to cook something. He decided on ramen after assessing his cooking skills, and deciding he needed a little more than straight soup anyway.
Straight soup. Straight...straight. Was Jeonghan really straight?
He had always put that label on himself, assuming that’s just how things were. But he just had a very strong urge to kiss a person that definitely wasn’t a girl, and he didn’t really know how to comprehend that. He almost contemplated calling Mingyu about it, but he decided to leave that for another time. He wasn’t sure he could admit something like that out loud.
He listened to them talk for a bit. Seokmin asking how Joshua was feeling, Soonyoung asking if Joshua was still sure that he didn’t want to join their idol company, Joshua asking how their training was going. Friendly conversation as they looked over the work, as Jeonghan was pathetically cooking ramen, wondering if he was gay or not. He would prefer to forget about that, but the thoughts got louder every time he looked over at Joshua.
Jeonghan really did need to stop worrying. He needed new things to think about.