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"Why didn't you tell me?" Seungcheol asked quietly as he stared at the girl who laid motionless in her bed. "Ara, please...." His voice cracked slightly, desperation laced in his tone as he awaited an answer from her.

Araceli continued to silently lay in bed, unsure on how to answer or if should answer at all. She wanted to avoid this conversation but she knew she couldn't. She had avoided it for too long and it was only a matter of time before everyone would find out what's been happening.

"Ara, I know you're awake. Please answer me...."

"I couldn't...." She quietly answered, not moving from her position.

Seungcheol took a timid step forward towards her bed, swallowing the lump he felt in his throat. "What do you me you couldn't?...."

"I couldn't," Araceli said a bit more firmly, slowly moving to sit up so that her legs were hanging off her bed. "I couldn't tell anybody about what was happening. They told me that I'd be taken out of the group if I said anything to anybody about what they were doing..."

Seungcheol was stuck in his spot, unsure of what to say or do. He wanted so badly to just take her and whisk her away from everything that was hurting her at the moment, but he couldn't do that, even thought he wanted to.

"H-How..." He started, biting his lower lip before continuing his sentence. "How long has this... been going on?" He was scared of the answer he would receive. He hoped that it hasn't been going on for too long.

"Before we debuted...." Araceli answered after a long pause. Not once did she lift her gaze to see Seungcheol's horrid reaction to the response she gave him. She didn't see how he looked like he had just been shot with a bullet, almost collapsing onto her bed in shock. She did feel though, how he reached for her had and grasped it tightly in his own. She felt how he brought it close to his chest, and then soon after felt drops of his tears fall onto her hand.

"I-I'm sorry," Seungcheol croaked out, his voice shaky. "I'm sorry, It's my fault..."

This caused Araceli to whip her head around to look at the older male. "What? No! No, Seungcheol it's not your fault-"

"Yes it is, it's my fault because I let this happened," Seungcheol cut her off, shaking his head. "As leader, I'm suppose to make sure my members are all okay and well... I-I'm suppose to tell whether or not any of them are in need of help or aren't okay without them telling me anything.... But I couldn't with you, and look at where that ended up."

"My member, best friend, my other half.... has been hurt severely and if only I-I had noticed it earlier... Some sign or something that you were in pain, I could've prevented-"

"Cheol, stop," Araceli said firmly, trying to keep her own self from breaking down into tears. "None of this is your fault, it's nobody's fault.... there's nothing anyone could have done... Please don't beat yourself up over this."

"Just promise me you'll tell the boys too?..." Seungcheol let out weakly after a moment, looking up at Araceli with teary eyes. "And let us help you do something about this, because you don't deserve any of this...."

Araceli couldn't verbally promise him anything, not trusting her voice or her words as she felt tears begin to steadily roll down her cheeks. Instead, she just gave him a meek nod, to with Seungcheol responded by pulling her towards him into a tight hug. He held her as if letting her go would mean that she'd leave and disappear, something he didn't think he could cope with if that happened.

The two stayed like that for a good moment, silent as they found comfort in each other's arms. Neither of them broke the silence that enveloped the two of them until Araceli slowly pulled back in Seungcheol's arms, turning her gaze to look at the door that was shut. 

"You guys can come in now," She yelled out, her voice still soft and hoarse but still loud enough. 

Soon, the door opened, revealing the 12 boys that had been near the door, listening in the entire time. One by one, they all solemnly trailed into the small bedroom, positioning themselves so that they were all in front of the bed that Araceli and Seungcheol were on.

"I'm assuming you all heard everything?" She asked them, giving them a small amused smile.

"How'd you know?..." Wonwoo asked, to which Araceli forced out a chuckle.

"Mother's intuition~...."

"The next time they lay a finger on you I'm going to-" Minghao's small rant was caught off by Jun placing a hand on his shoulder, signaling him not to finish that sentence.

"Noona.... everything's going to be fine, right?" Chan asked.

"More importantly, will you be okay?" Vernon added, frowning slightly.

"I'll be fine," Araceli reassured the boys, not wanting them to worry too much. "Don't worry about me..."

"What are you gonna do about this? You can't just let this keep going," Jihoon stated, crossing his arms.

"Yeah! Let us say something to boss, we'll stop it!" Seungkwan suggested loudly, but Araceli quickly shushed him and shook her head. "No. No one is to go to anyone about anything relating to what is happening. It'll just cause more trouble and can get you guys in trouble too. I'll be okay, I'll-" She was cut off after feeling a small squeeze on her hand. She sighed, glancing over at Seungcheol before turning back to the boys.

"Seungcheol and I... Will figure something out, so please don't worry too much about me. Understand?" 

All the boys nodded silently, showing that they understood her words. Araceli sighed and gave them a small, but genuine, smile. "I love you all so much..."



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