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A grief

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No one outside the team knew Bin and Sanha had been together. Given how closely they’d been working during their subunit promotions, none of the team had been all that surprised when they finally admitted that they were together, but because it was so new - and they were working so hard - everyone had agreed to keep it quiet. They’d tell everyone - their family, close friends - after.

But there would be no after.

They’d finished their promotions, they’d been given a day off, they’d decided to go for a drive.

Only Bin had come back.

The fans were in mourning.

Their families were in mourning.

At the funeral, the team and Sanha’s brothers were supposed to have been the pallbearers, but Bin had collapsed and hadn’t been able to get back up, and then Jinwoo had started crying which had started Myungjun crying, and in the end, only Dongmin and Minhyuk had been able to help Sanha’s brothers carry the coffin.

Back at the dorm, Bin lay in his bunk and refused to move.

Myungjun had been unable to bear sleeping in his own bunk and had ended up sharing a bed with Jinwoo.

Minhyuk wasn’t about to sleep alone in the room he’d once shared with Myungjun and Sanha, so he started sleeping in Dongmin’s room. 

For a week, the third bedroom remained empty. But someone had to clean it out eventually. It was Jinwoo who received the text message. One of Sanha’s brothers would come to retrieve his things.

Bin heard the message and pushed himself away from the dinner table, went to curl up in his bunk and pull the blanket over his head and probably cry some more. 

Myungjun nodded. “Okay. Did he say when? I can -” But he burst into tears and fled from the table.

Jinwoo sighed and pushed himself to his feet, went after Myungjun to comfort him.

Minhyuk said, “I’ll take care of it.”

Myungjun had ventured into the bedroom here and there to grab his own things, but these days he was more or less living out of Jinwoo’s wardrobe. 

“Are you sure?” Dongmin asked.

Minhyuk nodded. “I know all the places where Sanha hid some of his stuff. You go look after Jinwoo, all right?”

Dongmin cast Minhyuk another look, but Minhyuk made a shooing gesture, and Dongmin went.

Minhyuk finished his meal slowly, steeling himself. And then he rolled up his sleeves and headed into the bedroom.

It was almost frozen in time from the day Sanha and Bin had gone on their drive - Sanha’s bed only half made, a handful of guitar picks scattered across the desk he shared with Minhyuk (Myungjun, as hyung, got his own desk), Myungjun’s Iron Man figurines engaged in a clone battle, Minhyuk’s stuffed animals piled haphazardly on his bed, clothes scattered across beds and chairs and the floor.

Minhyuk cast about and found Sanha’s suitcase, the one he used whenever they went on tour, and unzipped it, set it on the bed.

Then he knelt and sorted through the clothes. He folded Sanha’s clothes neatly and set them in the suitcase. Then he cleared Sanha’s belongings out of the desk. He didn’t throw away anything, smoothed out crumpled scraps of paper that had Sanha’s handwriting on them and pressed those into Sanha’s notebooks before stacking those on top of the clothes. He knew where Sanha kept his jewelry, and the little stuffed animals fans had given him, and the lucky figurine Bin had won for him at an arcade one time, the nooks and crannies where he’d hidden a photocard of himself that he was particularly proud of, and the album he’d had signed by Busker Busker right after debut.

Minhyuk packed up Sanha’s guitar and his headphones, did his best to pair up all the socks he could find, and tucked Sanha’s laptop into its case.

The suitcase was bulging by the time Minhyuk zipped it shut. He slid it under his own bunk and then headed back into the den, where Dongmin and Jinwoo were cleaning up supper.

Minhyuk went to the door and started easing Sanha’s shoes out of the line-up of shoes by the door. He’d put them in shoeboxes and store them under the bed with the suitcase until -

“Stop! Stop it!”

A hand came down on Minhyuk’s shoulder, spun him around.

Minhyuk caught himself before he hit the ground.

Bin pounced on a pair of sneakers and hugged them to his chest and started to cry.

“Hyung,” Minhyuk protested.

“Let him be,” Dongmin said quietly.

Minhyuk nodded and picked himself up. “Yeah. I just - I got everything else. I can deal with the shoes later.” He started back toward the bedroom, paused.

There was nothing else for him in there.

He started toward the kitchen, but Dongmin and Jinwoo had finished cleaning up. Minhyuk paused again, confused and a little dazed. What should he do now?

Dongmin put an arm around his shoulders. “Hey. You did well. Don’t worry about it anymore. There’s nothing left to do.”

Minhyuk nodded. “Okay. Um. What should I do now?”

“You don’t have to do anything now,” Dongmin said. “Just rest.”

Minhyuk nodded again. Then he looked over at Bin, who had Myungjun and Jinwoo hugging him.

“Sanha’s really gone, isn’t he?”

“He’s gone,” Dongmin said.

“And he’s not coming back?”

“He’s not.”

Minhyuk bowed his head and felt his breath hitch. Dongmin gathered Minhyuk in his arms and held him tightly.

“You’ve been strong this whole time,” he murmured. “You don’t have to be strong anymore. I’m here.” He pressed a kiss to Minhyuk’s hair.

Minhyuk started to cry.