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A encouragement

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Dongmin stood beside Minhyuk. They’d taken several selcas that wouldn’t be uploaded to SNS until after Minhyuk got eliminated, whenever that was.

“Are you nervous?” Dongmin asked.

Minhyuk cast him a look. “Of course I’m nervous.”

Dongmin squeezed his shoulder. “You’ll do great. You’re a great singer.” He leaned and lowered his voice. “And while your competitor has a lovely voice, I have heard him sing, and I promise you’re better than him. You’ll make it through this round, and you’ll represent Astro and yourself well. And no matter what happens, I’ll be proud of you.”

Minhyuk ducked his head. “Thanks, hyung.”

Dongmin cast a look around. Plenty of people in the green room were casting him odd looks. Some people recognized him; others were curious about why he was there when he was too overdressed to be staff but he wasn’t dressed like a competitor either.

“Here, let me help you with your costume.” Dongmin tugged Minhyuk into one of the small cordoned-off spaces used as a dressing room - and drew him into a kiss.

It was brief, but it was firm and warm.

“Hyung!” Minhyuk hissed when he pulled back. Though he was blushing, he looked pleased.

Dongmin straightened Minhyuk’s uniform shirt, checked the buttons and creases. Minhyuk was dressed as a pilot; his competitor for the first round was dressed as a sailor.

“You’ve got this,” Dongmin said, just as firmly as the kiss had been. “Remember how much the fans loved your OST?”

“They’ll know it’s me immediately.”

“And they’ll be so proud and excited for you.” Dongmin reached up and brushed a lock of hair out of Minhyuk’s eyes. “You did so well on Dance War. The judges loved you the most. The judges here will be blown away. What have you picked as your talents here?”

“Dancing, obviously, for the first round. Taekwondo board breaking for the second round. Brick-breaking might be a bit risky if they don’t set it up right,” Minhyuk said.

“If you do your turns, one of the judges will guess who you are,” Dongmin said.

“Maybe,” Minhyuk said. “Most people outside of our fans don’t know I can sing. Keeping them guessing is half the fun.”

Dongmin smiled. “True.”

A staff member arrived to help Minhyuk get his microphone and mask set up, and Dongmin stepped back, let her work. She was startled when Minhyuk did a test spin to make sure he wouldn’t lose the battery pack for the microphone while he danced.

Then Dongmin reached out and caught Minhyuk’s hand in his, smoothed his thumb over the ring Minhyuk wore; Dongmin wore a matching one. It was the gesture they shared in lieu of a kiss, when cameras and strangers were around.

“Fighting!” Dongmin said.

Minhyuk flashed him a heart sign, and then he followed his competitor out to the stage. They’d practiced their number together several times, and Dongmin was confident Minhyuk would win, but a kiss for luck and encouragement never hurt.

Dongmin turned to the monitor and smiled when he heard the applause that greeted Minhyuk. He knew Minhyuk would win.