Hold On

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 Even the loudest members - no, especially the loudest members seemed to have succumbed to the emptiness that edged on to each of their hearts for their short-lived family was broken. Baekhyun was silently sobbing and in those days, one thought Baekhyun didn't do anything silently while Chanyeol was angry and sad : devastated. And the worst thing was that all of them probably knew that by tomorrow they'll go back to practicing, pretending nothing ever happened. This was the only day to weep.

The most painful time had come to life, the last possible image had shattered and their promise had broken, fallen apart. All in the midst of this new, foreign popularity that had come barging into their life out of nowhere, they had still lost. Suho shook his head. Wasn't this what he wanted? Popularity? Wasn't this the point? He sobbed loudly. Inwardly, he knew it wasn't. It was but with the others gone voluntarily, it didn't seem like a great thing anymore. It didn't seem like anything anymore, just a burden. Tomorrow he might be glad he was popular however today, some privacy would do them good. It was hard enough as it was. He didn't need people in between. It was hard enough.

"I am sorry," A voice sounded out of nowhere. Suho looked up through his wet eyelashes and saw the eldest, the baozi, Minseok. Suho didn't know why the apology had come his way however he also felt he couldn't have understood it better. For they were all sorry. One might be thinking, 'If I had hugged Kris longer,' or 'If I had praised Luhan more.' All of them had regrets of things they didn't do and Suho realized that he was probably a figure, as their guardian literally, where they could throw all those apologies, where they could throw the apologies and feel them being delivered, like a shrine.

Suho shook his head, a sign of denial, a sign of wrong. And it was all he was doing recently because everything was always going wrong. EXO - the dream seemed harder to hold onto and easier to let go. Probably they were all just not cut out to be together. However, he knew that was wrong. The memories weren't fake. Kris...he was just confused. And Luhan, well, it wasn't what he exactly wanted. After Kris left, he saw the opportunity to leave and let it slide. Doesn't mean both of them would be smiling right now.

"Suho, forgive me." Minseok said again, stretching the words, tapping in the depth and real meaning of the simple words.

"For what?" Suho asked but he had a feeling he knew. After all, what must be the eldest member of a group whose two members have left feel? Guilt. Uselessness. Pain. Towards the members.

But he was wrong.

"I am sorry for crying right now. And back then when we won the award for Overdose," Minseok's eyes looked bright and yet dull. Suho recognized that look. It appeared when you were trying to live your best even though you were numb with pain. He had often seen it on his face. He had seen it because he was trying hard, extremely hard, to be sufficient for all of his members - remaining members.

"It's but natural that you'll feel agony and cry. Nothing wrong with that." Suho managed to say.

"It's but natural of course. It's also natural that those that had to leave, left. However, what's not natural is suppressing your agony and putting a mask of strength when you don't have any." Minseok said and Suho, he felt the words. Felt the agony, the pain radiating deep into his heart. Minseok didn't necessarily talk a lot however when he put his words out, so bluntly, so truthfully, Suho realized - felt how - how human he was. And tears gathered in his eyes.

Later the EXO members would say, "We kept on going, we overcame the awkward silence because we had a leader." Later Suho would say, "Now our team's atmosphere is good." However right then, they were still victims and they still hurt. In the future, it might not be that hard. Who knows? Maybe in 2019, fans would count what they called OT12 moments. Who knows? But then, who knew that at that one moment in the past, they were the sufferers, they were the warriors against their own silence of misery. It was a fight against the testimony of each other. It was a test - a test until they broke or they continued. Forever intertwined.

And it wasn't a welcomed test. It was a surprise one. One that could break them. Or... or perhaps, as impossible as it seemed, make them, or they would make their legacy. A crown. Achievements. Who knew after all? What would happen in the future? They didn't have the slightest idea though like they didn't know Growl would make their popularity erupt.

There were so many questions but the answers, only time would tell. Suho cried a lot that day, in private - not really, because the eldest was there all along. Crying with him. Crying for him. Patting his back. When they all came back to their dorms back to their un-welcomed but familiar silence, they probably knew. That he cried. And then probably some of them went and cried for him. And then others cried for the ones who cried and some just couldn't cry at all.

Their hearts were empty so was their choreography and song parts. Their head hurt and legs hurt and backs hurt and injuries were caused and they remained awkward, silent, shy, apathetic as if they had lost all their capability to smile. They did smile - just not when they were together, not as EXO. But they did love each other. It wasn't all for show. Nothing was for show. The show couldn't see the extent of their love for each other. And everyday, there were improvements.

Kyungsoo found comfort in his vocal line. Kai in Sehun. Chanyeol and Baekhyun and Sehun were friends and Baekhyun taught Chen and Xiumin to game. And Lay found comfort in his music and all of them in Lay and Tao found comfort and Suho...it was enough for him. The dinner talks came back. Sehun started "praying" again, Baekhyun making sounds while eating, Kgungsoo slapping him, Chen singing, Xiumin drinking coffee, Lay playing songs and Chanyeol drums - and Kai dancing and Sehun being the maknae with Tao and Suho caught up in all this mess. They were okay.

There new comeback helped. New ideas, solo fashion styles, more work and more love. Things looked up. They had survived. Time had answered their questions - EXO would not break down. After all it was time that kept them together, but then, one day, on a normal day, news arrived.

Time had left them.

Silence.

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