Vernon has always been a special child. He was the youngest in the family which naturally resulted in being the most adored. He was usually ill as a baby and his parents did everything to find out what was wrong. They knew something was not right, especially when the other two kids didn't go through such constant sickness. Growing up, he was very weak and could barely keep up with something for more than 30 minutes. He also had frequent fevers that went as high as 103 and when the fevers used to break he always had to take shots of glucose because of fatigue.
Seugcheol and Jeonghan knew something was wrong with their baby, but they didn't imagine even in their wildest dreams that it would be cancer. Vernon was three when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
The couple still remembers how the two had taken the hit very badly, crying in each other's arms as they felt their heartache at the thought of the pain that their child was going through. Wonwoo and Mingyu, being only 3 and 2 years older had come to realize that their brother needs them, and they have always been there for him, being his pillars.
Vernon was a small child, his height was less than average, and he was always chilly. His parents tried to do everything they could to offer him as much comfort as they could. It was a plus point that the Choi family was rich and could afford the treatment.
The family was through it all. They were together inside the doctor's room when the doctor let out the cursed words. They were there beside him when he went through his first chemo. They were there when Vernon started losing all his hair. They were there when he would wake up in the middle of the night, crying his heart out as his tiny body was wracked with shivers. They were there to catch their baby when he first fainted from exhaustion. They were there when the pain got so much that he would cry all night, his loud wails breaking the hearts of his parents. The Choi family has been through it all, but all of that didn't even account for 1% of the pain that Vernon went through. Being a toddler, he was accustomed to being in and out of hospitals. Fevers were now normalcy, and pain, despite being as harsh as the first time was also a usual thing.
Jeonghan still remembers how his two kids looked in tears as his youngest was hooked to different wires as his crying form was held by Seugcheol.
"Baby," He had called, opening his arms wide, trying to control his own tears as he cradled the shaking form of his two children.
"Papa, why is Sollie crying so much," It was Mingyu who sniffled out the question as tears and snot covered his face.
"Sollie is not well, baby," Jeonghan had whispered as he wiped the younger's face and gave him a sad smile.
"Why papa, what is wrong with him" Wonwoo had asked softly, voice barely heard over the noise in the corridor of the hospital.
Jeonghan's heart cracked, but he kept up the facade and smiled at the oldest child, "He has ca...cancer, Wonu" He wasn't able to say it without getting his voice cracked. He would never be able to fully accept the fact that his child was not fine. The adorable newborn that the couple had first put their eyes on as the tiny human giggled with bunched-up cheeks and stars in his eyes was not fine.
"He will be fine again, right papa," Wonwoo had taken hold of his hands as his shining eyes stared into those of Jeonghan's.
And he didn't have the heart to tell that he didn't know. He himself wasn't ready to accept that this will be his baby's life. He wanted him to get better. He couldn't bear to see him in pain.
"He will be fine Wonu, he will be fine one day. If we take care of him properly, he will slowly get well." He finally let the tears escape his eyes as he stared at the two.
It was then that Jeonghan realized he had nothing to worry about. Hansol would always have his hyungs to protect him. "Then we will take care of him, papa." 6-year-old Mingyu had spoken in the brightly lit corridor amidst the chaos of the hospital as everyone went through their own difficulties.
But despite all the pain that life threw him with, Hansol grew up to be a kind and sweet soul. His life was filled with warmth and love, surrounded by friends and family who always had his back.
Vernon had many episodes that always scared everyone.
It was at Christmas when he was 4 that he had an attack of horrible pain. He was sitting on Jihoon's lap, watching over all the kids who were running around the colorfully lit and decorated tree as the older held him close. Everything was going so well that when the loud wail broke out of the baby it came out as a shock.
Everyone was frozen with fear as Hansol thrashed in Jihoon's arms, his body shaking with sobs to the point where he was having difficulty breathing. Tears flowed down his scrunched-up face as his mouth wobbled with screams of pain.
Seugcheol and Jeonghan had jumped towards the toddler as they themselves were in a state of mind where they were anxious to think about anything. But what they knew was that they had to hold him. Jeonghan had taken the crying baby as he cradled the child in his arms, shushing and humming to the younger as tears escaped his own eyes.
It was Joshua who took all the kids outside as the adults watched with helplessness as the couple held their child in agony. Jeonghan had completely freaked out when Hansol passed out in his arms. They immediately rushed to the hospital, running to the emergency. Hansol was then hooked for another Chemo, IV attached to his chest at the night of Christmas as they stayed overnight at the hospital, doing everything that they can to comfort the fussy child throughout the night.
Wonwoo and Mingyu had tears in their eyes when they woke up the next day and found their baby brother with plasters wrapped around his chest and arm. They knew what that plaster meant, all the kids did. They have all seen Hansol going through Chemo.
Jun being the eldest among the children had taken Hansol into his arms as all the kids sat around him, playing and speaking softly so that it doesn't trouble the baby. The adults melted at the scene, but they were glad that Hansol will always have such a support system.
Vernon was 5 when he enrolled in kindergarten along with Seugkwan and Chan. He grew up attached to the hip with Seugkwan and Chan. The three have been best friends since they were in diapers. They were the three musketeers. Seugkwan and Chan were ever so protective of Hansol. They would make sure no one messes with him, or that he wouldn't be bullied for being smaller and weaker.
His chemo sessions had gradually decreased as he turned 5 as the doctors suggested that the younger showed immense improvement and might finally get rid of this disease. It was the happiest the family had been to know that their baby wouldn't suffer anymore. It might still take time for him to be fine but the fact that there is a higher chance he might recover was a huge relief.
It was during lunch break when one of the kids playing in the room pushed Hansol as they fought for a toy and his weak body tumbled back and crashed his elbow at the edge of the plastic table. Immediately a loud wail broke out in the room, and Seugkwan and Chan had quickly rushed towards the crying boy. It was then that they noticed the discolored skin covered with purple and red streaks and freaked out. Seugkwan bought the younger in his arms as he tried to soothe the younger.
The two kids remembered the words of their uncles when they told them that Vernon should be absolutely safe. He shouldn't get hurt even a little, so when they noticed the purple that colored the younger's arm, they couldn't help crying and freaking out because they failed at protecting the younger.
Seokmin's heart was beating rapidly as he saw the scene in front of him. He had immediately rushed towards them and took the younger in his arms. It was a relief that he worked at the kindergarten otherwise the teachers knew Seugkwan and Chan wouldn't have let anyone touch the younger. Seokmin had cradled the younger and carried him to his office as the two kids followed him.
"You're gonna be fine Sollie," He murmured as he started singing softly, trying to calm the child, "You're gonna be fine baby, see Kwannie and Channie is here now and so is Uncle Minnie right?"
The younger looked at him with shining eyes as he took in the presence of three familiar faces.
"See, baby, you're fine," He cooed as he bought the younger back in his arms and kissed his forehead and sat down as Seugkwan and Chan stood before him with bated breath.
Seokmin smiled softly at the two, "He's fine, Kwannie, Channie. Don't cry sweethearts,"
Seugkwan suddenly burst into tears alarming Seokmin, "We're...We're sorry daddy, We didn't take care of Sol...Sollie," He stuttered as his breath hitched.
"Oh baby," Seokmin said softly as the toddler in his arms quieted down and looked at his friends. Seokimn pulled the two closer and wrapped one of his arms around them, "It's not your fault. You took care of him. You did so well, baby," He whispered, trying to ease their sadness as he rubbed his palm up and down their back.
"I'm fine," Hansol murmured as his little hand came forward and grasped Chan's hand, "I'm okay,"
Their lives weren't normal, far from it actually. But they would always be there for Hansol, all 12 of them will be there. And as Seokmin held the frames of three children in his arms, he realized how he would die for them and do anything to keep them safe.