Full Story Summary: When Yuri's almost-idol of a brother gets hurt going above and beyond the line of duty, he needs his twin sister to fix everything. And by fix, he means forge. Yuri has to take her brother's place in a band she's never met, and successfully trick them, and the watching public, into thinking that she is her brother on stage, at home, and in practice. Things get a little crazy, but a little chaos is good for you, right? Maybe not. Yuri's nerves and patience are tried repeatedly as she is sucked deeper into the world of idols. Just how long will she be able to keep up this charade? And how long will she want to when she starts to fall hard for one of her brother's new band-mates?
A/N: The plot basis for this story is the only thing that comes from YB, but it comes directly enough from the kdrama that I still think of it as a fan-fic. I wrote this a few years ago when I was just getting into kpop, and it was my way of starting to dig into the whole korean-idol world.
Getting off the plane, Kim Yuri stretched her muscles tenderly. Sitting for twelve hours straight, even in first class, was killer. Her limbs were tingling horribly as she stiffly waddled through the airport terminal. By the time she'd gotten her bag, the feeling had mostly dissipated, but sitting in a cab was not by any means an appealing prospect. Instead, Yuri took her suitcase and set off into the beautiful morning cityscape Seoul provided.
Korea was beautiful; she had to admit it after only a few minutes of exploration. Until her brother had insisted she come visit, the appeal of the Asiatic country had never occurred to her. Yuri liked her cozy little home in Maryland. She'd never been one to seek international travels. To get her to fly all the way out to Korea, Jay'd had to arrange her travels, send a plane ticket and backstage concert passes to her doorstep, and pay for nearly all of what her five star luxury hotel room cost. But now that she was here . . . she understood her brother's wanderlust a little better.
Still, it would have been nice if Jay had come home once or twice in the five years since he'd decided to go out and become a pop star. Why Korea, of all places, had struck Jay's fancy in that endeavor Yuri still didn't understand, but the capital city certainly was gorgeous enough to warrant an extended stay. And at least he'd kept in touch; a phone call every day or so, and an email with some pictures and a video at least every week.
Besides, though he'd left his baby sister all alone in the States, he'd actually accomplished what he set out to do. Jay had become an international Idol in a Korean band called QuaszauR. It was the weirdest name Yuri had ever heard of for a band, but the way they did the logo, in such a nearly magical way that the word could be read backwards, forwards, upside-down, and in a mirror . . . she'd settled with the decision that it was pretty cool. And at least it wasn't an acronym; Yuri had seen bands that had acronymic names . . . QuaszauR was just fine the way it was.
Working her way around the city center, Yuri wandered through a pretty park, a cute shopping district, and a delightfully rambling residential area. Then, after buying some lunch and thanking her lucky stars that the Washington DC area had such a high population of Korean immigrants that the native language had been offered for all of her school mandated eight years of linguistic studies, Yuri checked into her hotel.
It was a nice hotel; marble floors and counters, chandeliers, legit bellboys, and complimentary chocolates and bubble-bath. The bubble-bath was a most welcome find for Yuri, whose muscles were still quite stiff. It was a quick five minutes of stowing her stuff, filling her ice-bucket, and setting up her iPod's speaker-set before she slipped into the hot water to while away the afternoon. She refused to give into her drooping eyelids until after she'd had a dinner of cup noodles from the room's microwave and eight pm had rolled around.
Though the adjustment was torturous, it would be better in the long run to get rid of the jet lag as quickly as possible. Once food and other touristy purchases were mixed into the equation, Yuri's small salary from working on various University projects could only afford this hotel for a few days, even when combined with the money Jay had for spending as provided by the JYG talent agency he worked for. She was not about to waste any of her time here with sleeping in.
Yuri allowed herself some leniency, however, setting her alarm for 9:30 am rather than the early morning of four hours before that she was used to from her busy school schedule. The morning saw her refreshed and starving; and after dressing up in the most touristy outfit she had packed herself, complete with knee high socks, over-sized shorts, and a fanny pack, Yuri trotted through the elegant halls to the dining room were a five star breakfast buffet awaited her.
Of course she took pictures of the spread.
She only had three full days in the city, which meant she had to be very thorough in her every endeavor. Today she was a camera-happy uber-tourist. Tonight was her brother's debut concert with QuaszauR; though he'd participated in smaller concerts he'd called fan-meetings, this was his first actual concert. To suit the situation, by tonight the uber-tourist would transform herself into super-chic popstar's-sister material. Tomorrow she hoped to be a normal teenager enjoying a day off with her brother as she toured Seoul like a local. Which left her last day here open for whatever situation arose.
For now, uber-tourist it was.
Within forty feet of leaving the hotel she found a life-size cut-out of Jay inside a smoothie shop. She couldn't resist the temptation. She took a picture of herself using her cell phone, all geeked up for the camera, beside the overly dramatic photo-face of her goof of a brother, and texted it to the boy in question. She got more than a few weird looks from the people in the shop; as expected, it was all part of the experience. To make up for her weirdness, Yuri bought a large strawberry smoothie.
She sipped it as she waited for Jay to reply to her text, talking at the image of him as if the photograph could answer in Jay's place. "You look ridiculous in that get-up, you know. If anyone believes you're ever that serious for more than forty seconds, I'll eat your next CD."
When Jay still hadn't replied by the time she finished her drink, she left the shop and tried calling him. Apparently, his phone wasn't even on. "Thanks a lot, Jay. You spring this concert on me so suddenly I had to let my professors know I wouldn't be able to help out at the psychology convention from my plane, and now you won't pick up your phone! You're such a great big brother."
She supposed being an international idol sensation didn't leave him with much spare time, especially with his first full-scale concert coming up. "Ah well, I'll chew your ears out later for leaving me hanging like this. But first up: The 63 Building!"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, someone else was lamenting the status of Jay's cell phone. Well, actually, it was several some ones, and they weren't lamenting so much as outright panicking. They were the members of QuaszauR, the band Jay was supposed to be debuting with in less than six hours. And Jay was nowhere in sight. Kim YoungJae, the band's leader, was quiet and controlled, but anyone with eyes could see through the facade as he paced in circles backstage.
Everyone in the band, every one of the fourteen members, was worried.
By this time, Kim Jaebeom had been training with JYG Entertainment for four and a half years. To have been slotted into a band in that short a time was remarkable, but then again, Jaebeom himself was quite the remarkable singer. He'd been allocated to a band that already had an established fan-base and the reception he was receiving on the net wasn't the best. No one had ever seen him perform his solo, and that was a clincher for QuaszauR fans. Plenty of people could sing and dance and look nice on camera, the sign of a real artist was how well they did in real life. How well they did without having their bandmates there to cover up their mistakes was equally important, and that would be Jay's test tonight.
If Jay didn't show up for this concert, he would have to be cut from the QuaszauR line up in order to keep the fans from outright defaming him before he even got started. It was even possible that he'd have to transfer entertainment companies to prevent facing the ire of jilted fans if he managed to make it in another band. Either way, missing this concert was not an option that left his future shining.
YoungJae continued to pace. They couldn't put off the rehearsal any longer. He gave the order to warm up. His band complied reluctantly. Jaebeom had only been a part of their family for just over six months, but in that time they had all grown attached to him. No one wanted to see him face all of the bad press that would undoubtedly result from his absence.
"But where could he have gone?" Song Jinki spoke up as the group, waiting for the female contingent of their company to join them, took to the stage in the empty arena. It wouldn't remain empty for long, as fans would be flooding through the doors in four hours. The time the missing popstar had to get unmissing was running out fast.
Responding to Jinki's question, one that had been going through everyone's mind since early this morning, Kang Kihun said, "He was supposed to have gotten back from the promotions last night, but maybe something happened."
"No," YoungJae said with certainty. "We planned that too well; we knew about the tight schedule and made allowances. Something else has happened."
"I think I prefer thinking that his train is late," Hwan Donghae responded.
Agreeing completely, Park Chansung added, "That way it's okay that we can't do anything about it. He's still not answering his phone?"
Choi JongHyun nodded. "It's still turned off."
Lee SooHyun's face was grim as she overheard JongHyun's comment. Leading the five girls that were a part of QuaszauR onstage she tried to give a confident declaration, but even to her ears the words sounded flat, "Don't worry, I'm sure every thing's fine."
"Regardless," YoungJae said, "We have to rehearse. We'll plan for Jay being here, and if he for some reason isn't we'll move Donghae's solo to the end, just in case he comes in late; he'll need Beautiful as a lead-in for his solo. That means YeongSaeng's will replace his in the beginning."
Park YeongSaeng nodded. Such a change up wouldn't impact the group dance rehearsal and it would give Jaebeom the highest chance of a successful debut.
SooHyun gave him a supporting smile. "Places then?" she asked, motioning to the rest of the band as YoungJae nodded. "And cue music," she added with a large gesture off stage.
Since the band's entrances were going to be through the special platforms littering the stage the positions they were to begin and end at were crucial. However as the crew was working below to ensure that the platforms would raise and lower properly during the real thing, they simply pretended to sink dramatically through the floor at the end of each of their parts. When they were all onstage together it wasn't a problem, but they had to get a little creative as they practiced strutting alone down the long runway of the stage when the crouching figures of their bandmates littered the path.
They managed however, and in two hours they wrapped up a successful rushed-rehearsal and made their way backstage again to get dressed. Then off to hair and make-up they filed. Fixing up the fifteen, currently fourteen, member band took a long time and was done assembly-line-style to move the process along as quickly as possible. As each member went through they were subject to watching their manager, a man not known for remaining calm in dire situations, gnawing at his fingernails like a chainsaw chewing through tree bark. It was not an image that instilled confidence within the viewers.
The concert was due to start in half an hour by now. The dull roar of the fans could be heard in every corner of the backstage area. And then it was time for final stretching and the short but nerve racking trek to the under-stage area where a sturdy platform was waiting to lift them to meet their fans. Manager Ma was practically in tears because of the tension.
Fifteen minutes to show time.
Last minute primping and tweaking of appearances as the oldest ones helped their dongsaengs.
Suddenly a shout was raised from the security staff and a stylishly dressed young person was ushered in. Jaebeom. Several hearts nearly stopped with relief. Then after a second of quiet revelry, the band sunk into heavy focus. This was a performance and they had to give the fans their best.
As they fell into their customary pre-concert Zen mode, Manager Ma's heart was still in high gear. He thanked the security staff and hauled the youngster into the now empty make-up room.
"I'm going to call the police!" Yuri shrieked the moment the door closed behind her and she pulled oxygen into her lungs. All she'd done was leave her seat for a quick trip to the refreshment stand, she'd still had ten minutes and a slush-puppy and nachos seemed called for. But as she'd harmlessly been walking along singing the solo she knew her brother was debuting tonight, these two massive security guards had jumped her; she'd never actually thought an Asian could be massive, so much for that American stereotype cliché. They had dragged her who knows where, down at least three separate staircases, and now she was trapped in some low-lit room with a creeper who was probably some mafia boss or something.
He was certainly rubbing his hands together menacingly enough.
Actually, what was making Manager Ma wring his hands together was pure panic.
"Miss Kim?" He asked, "Kim Yuri? You must be her; you really do look just like your brother."
"What?" Yuri wasn't comprehending this at all.
"And you sound just like him too."
Yuri was too busy fishing through the pockets of the cargo pants she'd borrowed from her brother as her cell phone eluded her fingertips to understand anything the man was talking about. A button that automatically dialed 911 would be really useful right now she thought. Then her mind, as it was known to do in stressful situations, wandered to consider if 911 was even the emergency number in Korea.
Manager Ma merely continued rubbing his hands together and babbling aimlessly. Some of what he said formed into proper sentences, even if they didn't make much sense to Yuri. "Jay said you knew all of his songs backwards and forwards, the dances too. He said you're probably better at them than he is. He wasn't exaggerating, right? You know it all, you can do this, right?"
"Perform of course! Didn't Jay explain things to you?"
Yuri's mind utterly blanked for a third of a second. "Perform?"
This got the already panicking manager into an absolute frenzy. He slipped some sort of wire around Yuri's neck and slid what looked like an old walkie-talkie into one of her pockets. As he struggled to quickly explain, he nervously rearranged the short, spiky locks of hair she'd styled into an edgy swirl around her face, "Jaebeom's been injured. He can't perform tonight. I'll explain it all later, but right now you have to go!"
Manager Ma hauled on Yuri's arm, dragging her around for the umpteenth time that night. She was pushed into a crowd of dramatically posed people. She recognized them vaguely from the pictures Jay had emailed her over the past few months.
And then the floor began to move.
Yuri nearly collapsed as the vibrations rocked through her knees and realization jolted through her brain. In less than five seconds of heart pounding terror, Yuri was onstage.
The roaring crowd, the blinding lights, and the deep pounding of a beat rocking through her made the entire thing feel very dream-like. No, it was more like she was underwater, watching the action of people on the surface from within her own little world.
Around her, QuaszauR was feeding off the energy of the screaming crowd. The beat in the background wasn't particularly fast, but the excitement behind it increased the frenzy of the event of the band's arrival.
"Yo! Are you ready for this?" YoungJae shouted as the solitary beat began to blur with an overlay of melody.
"Come on, Lemme hear ya scream!" SooHyun added, waving her arms to encourage the fans. As if they needed any more provocation.
Arms were flung around Yuri's waist. On one side she could discern the face of Song Jinki, framed by gelled tendrils of bleach-blonde hair. On her other side was Heo KyuJeon, his hair made almost orange by the bleach that made his bandmate blonde and with portions teased out dramatically so as to look fuzzy and soften his angular features. They were bouncing along to the beat, filled with energy. On the other hand Yuri was amazed that she was still standing, so overwhelmed was she by the mass of people screaming at her, watching her every move as highlighted by the precise beams of the glaring spotlights.
It wasn't hard for the rest of QuaszauR to spot that the person they had taken for Jaebeom was panicking. They however couldn't tell a thing about Yuri's true identity, under the lights it was remarkable that they could recognize each other at all.
In addition to the supportive arms of Jinki and KyuJeon, Yuri received pats on the back and reassuring smiles from Park YeongSaeng, Kang Kihun, and Choi JongHyun. And then the real worrisome part began. The group split off in a well choreographed routine that left Yuri standing alone and obviously lost in the center of the stage.
The only good news was that she recognized this song. It was the first one Jay had shown her when he had first joined up with this band. Trying to remember to breathe, Yuri melded into the dance. Her moves were stiff and awkward with panic, but at least she wasn't just standing there anymore. Actually joining in to sing along was out of the question, she could hardly focus enough to keep enough air moving through her to stave off a fainting spell.
When the song ended, Yuri hoped that she could somehow find a way to escape, that they would go back down through that platform thing and she could get out and hide under the stage. She had no such luck as the band moved towards the back of the stage during the song's ending notes. With thirteen people gathered in a vaguely straight line at the end of the stage furthest from the bulk of the crowd, YoungJae and SooHyun stepped forward to make the customary thank you for coming, we hope you enjoy the concert speech. As they spoke the rest of the band covered their mics and tried to calm Yuri down.
They gave her little reassurances that did absolutely nothing to settle the hornet's nest writhing within her stomach. She felt like she was going to throw up.
And then the young man she recognized as one of her brother's most admired hyungs came up to her. "What did you do to your hair?" Hwan Donghae said nonchalantly, with a hand over his mic. "You look like a wet dog."
Something about the way he said it, or the way he was so at ease with the situation, or maybe just that he wore this smile that was sweet and silly at the same time, made Yuri go still. Her breathing almost returned to an acceptably regular level and a bit of the dizziness abated. Donghae ruffled her hair, flicking bits of it to and fro as he tried to salvage the style.
When he decided that nothing could be done, he pulled off his hat and set it down on her head at an angle. He stood back to admire his work for a moment, but then he turned back to the stage with a confident spin as YoungJae announced the premiere of his solo. The leader gave Donghae a pat on the shoulder as he headed back to join the group, and Donghae blew SooHyun a kiss as she followed along.
And then he posed with one hand outstretched and the other at his hip as he bowed his head. When the tinkling sound of a piano filtered through the speakers, Donghae didn't move. The mass of fans however recognized the sound and they erupted in a new bout of screaming that surpassed any volume of sound Yuri had ever before heard.
The celebration was for very good reason, Yuri soon discovered as a quick beat began to thunder under the piano's elegant melody. Donghae launched into a flurry of movement, an arrangement of precise movements that displayed perfect body control. If that wasn't enough to sustain the fans' frenzy, his voice was easily the best instrument Yuri had ever heard. " 'Cause you, you are my beautiful, my beautiful, oh~oh~ yeah . . . saranghanda miinah . . . "
Yuri knew this song, Jay had sung it for her. The combination of English and Korean, while not a new technique in songwriting, had become a perfected art in this song. It had been Yuri's favorite of the songs Jay had shown her, well favorite after her bias tied her heart to her brother's solo song. Jay however, hadn't been able to capture even half of the grandeur Donghae imparted on the melody.
It was sappy and cliché, but the only word Yuri could think of to explain how Donghae's voice moved effortlessly through the notes was magical. He sang through the lyrics, which though arranged in a particularly sweet manner were nothing revolutionary, impressing a deeper meaning into them. And something about his constant movement and the silly grin he wore made it feel like he really meant what he was saying. But the most magical thing about Donghae's performance was how he managed to make it seem like he was speaking directly to her; which clearly he wasn't, but regardless the thought that he could be made Yuri's heart race in a way much more pleasant than it had been only moments ago.
For his part, Donghae was simply enjoying the spotlight. He was a performer through and through and there was nothing he liked better than to give his fans a show they would scream about, even as they looked back on it weeks later. It was due to that reason that Donghae found his stunt with giving Jay his hat surprising. Normally, at the end of whatever solo piece he performed he flipped the ornament off and spun it around in a series of tricks that the audience never failed to appreciate. Now that Jaebeom had his hat however, he finished off with only a bow; the crowd didn't seem to mind very much.
As the music's end, Donghae straightened and began a speech. "Hey everyone; all you fans out there! Thank you for supporting us, you've taken us from JYG trainees to becoming the world's largest and most successful super-group! As you know, we have fourteen members and the voices of both ladies and gents contributing to our sound. And as you've been hearing for the past few weeks, we have one more member to introduce you to. Please show Kim Jaebeom as much support and kindness as you have the rest of us."
Donghae's formality ended there. "And don't be too harsh on him. Remember it's his first time singing in front of so many pretty girls."
With a wink he spun around to walk with an unhurried pace back to the group gathered at the far end of the stage. They were staying there purely for Jaebeom's benefit, it was a scary thing to stand alone in front of such a crowd, and Jay could use all of the moral support he could get.
Yuri didn't understand what was happening as Jinki and KyuJeon let go of her and someone, probably Park Chansung judging from his height, pushed her forward. Whoever had propelled her forward had pushed hard enough to send her stumbling out to meet Donghae as he strolled along the stage. He grabbed Yuri by the shoulders, made her stand up straight, and adjusted the angle of his hat on Jay's head. Something about the new singer made Donghae wants to take pains to show the fans that he was supported by established members, though he hadn't been particularly close to Jay during the past few months of his training.
He snapped a few times in front of Yuri's face, jolting her out of the daze created by his singing and by the sudden movement she'd taken onto center stage. "Yah!" bending down a bit to make his eyes level with hers, he threatened, "If you screw this up you're gonna be honorary maknae for a month. Jaebi could use the break." He grinned at her as the fans laughed behind him, and then in another moment he was gone, strolling the rest of the way down the stage with his thumbs hooked on his pockets.
And then the music started.
Jay's solo was an energetic and dramatic song. It fed perfectly off the mellow tone of Donghae's song. Whereas Donghae's was a whimsical tale of this-is-why-I-love-you, Jay's solo played out the details of his courtship, the sweetly extreme lengths he went to in order to gain the girl's favor. Pairing the songs for the concert like this not only went well in terms of musical aesthetics, but also for giving Jay the credit of having the universally loved Donghae as his opening act of sorts.
It would have been perfect, if indeed it had been Jay on the stage.
As it was, Yuri stared mutely and wide-eyed at the rolling mass of people in front of her, hidden just enough by the blinding lights to make them seem in even larger numbers than they really were. They were waiting with bated breath, which actually creeped Yuri out more than the screaming. She wasn't a popstar! She was a shower-singer! The only singing lessons she'd ever taken were in the fourth grade school chorus or when Jay had wanted a practice buddy.
She couldn't just stand there though!
Without another option presenting itself before her, Yuri squeaked out the first lines of Jay's song as the cue came up. During the short pause between the opening and the first verse Yuri took a deep breath. She was onstage now, and there was nothing she could do about it, save stop the show. That however would not give her brother a good reputation in the music world, even if the misunderstanding was cleared up eventually. The best thing she could do was to calm down and sing.
She thought about the calm excitement she'd felt during Donghae's solo, and remembered his words of encouragement and that goofy grin, she filled her lungs with enough air to adequately fuel her voice for the next series of lines. "Hey girl, come on, Listen up! Nae miinah, nae miinah, naege matchwo boringol non jal aljani ah~ . . ."
As she sang, Yuri gained a bit of confidence in herself. She wasn't any kind of professional, but at least she could be certain she wasn't completely screwing this up. Well, sorta. There was a dance that went with this song; she remembered right before the chorus . . . Jay had taught it to her through his webcam, along with the other dances he'd been learning with QuaszauR. It was a part of the show that she'd been utterly neglecting, which could not be good for her not-screwing-up quota.
To fix this, Yuri waited for the chorus to break out and right on her internally assigned cue she jumped into action. It was significantly harder to sing as she worked to remember the dance's choreography, both because of her split concentration and the sudden demand for her lungs to take in even more air. She tossed out a few of the most demanding moves, like the series of back-flips towards the end, that she could do only on good days even when she wasn't singing, so that at least the show sounded nice. And seriously, how many acrobatic maneuvers did one song call for?
It wasn't until the song had ended and the entire group of singers behind her had suddenly popped up around her that Yuri realized sometime during her performance, the audience had broken back into raucous cheering. She received at least a dozen quiet, 'good work,' comments and so many pats on the back it began to hurt as she was shuffled within the coalescing group to the center platform they had all risen up on what felt like hours ago.
Up on stage as the rest sunk below, Choi JiEun asked, "So what do you guys think of our newest member? Pretty cool?"
Yuri couldn't see how they reacted, but she did hear a rise in the volume of screaming. Hopefully, that was good news . . .
Waiting for the band below stage, Manager Ma was in tears. Yuri had only seen the man twice in her life and both times he'd had watery eyes. Judging by the nonchalant reaction of the band at this display of relief, she assumed he was simply a very emotional person.
"How did it go?" he asked, taking Yuri's arm and towing her back into the empty make-up room they'd held their first conversation in. "Jay was right that you could sing, and you sounded just like him, sorta, but how did the fans take it?"
"Well . . . I think," Yuri said, her head buzzing with the sudden release of stress that had flooded out of her system when she'd sunk out of sight of the audience.
She took another second to recover, but then she demanded, "Where's Jay?"
With a hurried glace around them, Manager Ma shushed Yuri quickly and whispered in a heavy torrent of pleading words, "He was there for a promotional, and I asked him to do an extra show, as a favor to me because I'm getting married and needed some extra money and he fell and hurt his leg a few days ago. There was no way he could perform tonight and since it was during a non-scheduled activity I was going to be fired if I tried to stop the concert, but Jay wouldn't let me tell the President, he said you could do the show for him . . . "
Yuri sighed heavily. Jay was dead meat walking . . . oh when she got her hands on him . . .
That's when it hit her. "My brother thinks I look like a guy?"
"It's not that, it's just your faces look so much the same that the camera images won't tip anyone off, and since the band was so desperate to find Jay that just about anyone could have passed for him . . . It was the best thing we could think of . . ." Manager Ma trailed off lamely.
Yuri was so furious for a minute that she felt her face turn purple. That Jay had planned to use her as a stand in was one thing, but that he hadn't told her about it first was another. And even though she did have short hair at the moment, and was wearing the dark cargo pants and leather jacket Jay had sent her so she could 'fit in' at the concert, she did NOT look anything like a guy! Heck, she didn't even think her face remotely resembled Jay's, but that was a different issue.
Also to be considered separately was Jay's current state.
To the great relief of Manager Ma, who had been watching her fury boil over inside her, Yuri softened dramatically and asked, "How hurt is Jay?"
"We're not really sure right now. His leg was causing him a lot of pain, and he stayed in Japan for tests, but this morning when I talked to him he seemed much better."
"His phone was off this morning," Yuri commented, perplexed.
Manager Ma nodded. "He didn't want any of his bandmates to be able to use the GPS to find him, or something crazy like that. He's staying in a hospital in Harajuku, Tokyo. I can give you the number to his room."
"Please do," Yuri said stiffly, thinking about what she was going to say to him.
"But first, you must get back onstage. Love Story is up in a moment or two, and Jay has a solo verse in that song," Manager Ma stated.
Yuri paled. "I have to go back up there?"
"Of course, you have to finish the concert!"
"Jay!" Yuri yelled to the wind, back to being furious.
Manager Ma began to wonder if the charade would hold for the rest of the show. Yuri had a much more volatile temper than her brother, and even people who were looking to see Jay might notice that he'd suddenly become bipolar.
"Love Story is the one where um . . . Lee SeungMi had that really high note in the bridge right? La-da-da-da-daaa-La-da-da-da-dum, for the opening to the chorus?"
"That's the one, you know it right? Jay said you knew all of them, and the dances."
"It doesn't have any back flips in it, right? I know them but there are just some things I can't do," Yuri explained. She had better get a baby-sister-of-the-year award for doing this, she wasn't one to take kindly to the spotlight, unlike Jay.
"You'll be fine," Manager Ma said, adding, "After Love Story, Jay doesn't have another song for twenty minutes, some of the solos are going, so I'll give you Jay's number when you get back down here."
"Yes, now go!"
Manager Ma pushed her out the door and once again Yuri was swept up by the tide of the band. Only half of the band sang for Love Story, four of the girls and four of the boys, when Jay had been added in. As the platform rose, Yuri's mind blanked as to what she was expected to do. Seeing the huge crowd and hearing the endless roar brought all of her fear up all again.
Donghae appeared beside her, an arm slung loosely about her shoulder. "You're not quite cool enough for my hat," he said, flipping it off of Yuri's head and neatly onto his own. "You can have YeongSaeng's," he added, stealing the hat off of his friend and plopping it down with a uniquely Donghae flair.
As the fans laughed, YoungJae grumbled with a hand over his mic, "This is a concert Donghae, not a game of musical hats."
Once the music had started, and Donghae had given her a wink in response to the leader's discontent, all of Yuri's fear of having forgotten the song vanished. Though enjoyable was a word ill-applied to the situation, at least Yuri wasn't as terrified as she'd been during Jay's solo. And she was pleasantly surprised at her upper-body strength as she managed to catch, and not drop, Ahn MinJi when the choreography demanded the action. The honorary maknae was as light as her reputation led fans to believe, but Yuri was even less arm-strong than stage-brave.
The song finished without major mishap, Yuri even managed to belt out Jay's solo in a reasonably well performed way. And though her ears were ringing and her arms felt like lead weights, Yuri found herself moderately pleased as she walked off the platform to meet Manager Ma with her brother's contact information.
As she trotted off, QuaszauR's members, save for Kang Kihun and Lee SeungMi who were onstage performing their duet, mused at his oddness.
Jinki was most vocal, bored as he was without his fellow goof to amuse him while he wasn't needed. "Why does he keep running off like that? What could he possibly be doing?"
Park Chansung added, "He's being really weird. How many of you noticed how many steps he's missed tonight?"
"Oh, shove it," Donghae said scoffed, lounging on a collection of unused amps. "He's just nervous. He nearly forgot the words to his own song earlier!"
YeongSaeng was instantly suspicious. "Do you know something we don't?"
KyuJeon caught what his hyung meant instantly. "You have been really nice to him tonight, you must admit that."
This piqued Jinki's interest, as he ran through the concert in his mind, he too saw the strange attachment. "You have been exceptionally friendly."
"It's not that unusual," JongHyun commented. "Donghae's a sucker for the shy ones, remember how he was with little SeungMi when she was first attached to QuaszauR?"
"And MinJi, and Jaebi, and even Dara, Jinki, and JiEun," YoungJae added.
Choi Jaejin, the group's true maknae who was subject to being called Jaebi by bandmates and fans alike, protested to this announcement, "Donghae-hyungnim never let me wear his hat."
"I didn't know Donghae-ah ever let anyone wear one of his hats," Lee SooHyun chided at the young man in question. "He's so protective of those things."
Donghae gave no indication of having heard. He'd pulled his hat down over his face after telling the band to drop the subject of Jay's strangeness and was proceeding to take, or at least was pretending to take, a catnap.
The subject turned from Donghae's strangeness back to Jaebeom's. More considerings on where he'd been loitering before the concert came up, and more on his strange behavior on stage and below, were voiced. No one could make any sense of it. As Kihun and SeungMi came below, and Dara, who hadn't joined in the conversation because she'd been preparing for her solo, went up, it was decided that someone ought to go interrogate the wandering popstar.
The band momentarily mourned the loss of Dara from their ranks, she was one of the boldest among them and she was close enough to Jay to make her concern for his behavior more than the nosey curiosity of his other bandmates. Their next choice was Jinki, but he was already sobering up for his solo, which immediately followed Dara's. Their next option was MinJi, who was about as cunning as a wet kitten, but could act the part better than SeungMi, who would easily have lost a fight against the poor besodden feline. All of the other options would have resulted in Jay clamming up real quick, knowing that it wasn't simple concern that motivated their actions.
Besides, MinJi's next song wasn't for half an hour, more than enough time to use the last ten minutes of Jay's break to absorb information with time to spare so that she could relay what she learned to the rest of the band.
When MinJi arrived, walking as slow as she was to buy time to figure out what she would say to Jay to get him to talk, she discovered that she hadn't needed to bother. Jay was involved in a shouting match that could be heard easily from ten paces outside the door. It must have been on a cell phone or something because she could only hear half of the conversation.
"If you ever get out of the hospital I'm going to break every bone in your body," Jay was yelling. "No, this is not being violent. I'm very calm. You! You should be worried. Look at what you've done here! I'm missing an amazing summer project for this you know. And my friends, they must think I've fallen off the planet! You can't just drag someone around, invite them places, and then not even be in the same country! Yes, I did think it was a bit weird, but I missed you. I thought we could hang out, have dinner or something. I still have the concert tickets, the passes are good for backstage at the next few too, aren't they? I've been waiting to see you, so you'd better show up, got it? This isn't funny! Fine, just get better and get back here; I hate thinking that you're cooped up in some Japanese hospital. Are the rooms like their hotels? So you do have some space, that's good. Oh, yeah, your favorite song is coming up, so I gotta go. Of course, I'm at the concert, where did you think I'd be? Hmmm, Thanks. I love you, too. Bye."
The eavesdropping SeungMi heard the beep of a cell phone disconnecting and jumped to think of an explanation for her presence outside the door as she heard Jay's heavy footsteps approaching.
"Jay-oppa!" MinJi called as innocently as possible just before the door swung open. She pretended to look surprised that he answered so quickly. He was certainly extremely surprised to see her there. For a moment, MinJi thought her ruse would fail, but as she continued, Jay appeared to relax and accept her explanation. "You need to get ready to go onstage."
"Yeah, I was just heading that way, thanks."
"No problem," MinJi said cutely, watching her bandmate go. She was waiting nervously for him to turn around and question her, Jay was usually very suspicious of everything, but he never paused in his stroll towards the rest of the group.
MinJi followed a cautious distance behind. She marveled at how small he seemed as compared to Chansung and JongHyun. Donghae looked nearly a head taller than him and even YeongSaeng was a hand-span higher. It must be a weird illusion cause by the hat, MinJi decided. It was the only explanation, because Jaebeom had definitely been the same height as Donghae during their last practice session. Hadn't he?
As the five ascended to perform their song, MinJi was assaulted with questions. Dara, who'd been unable to participate in the earlier musings, was especially interested. MinJi relayed every detail she could remember of the conversation. She couldn't make heads or tails of it, but SooHyun was nodding like all the puzzle pieces were falling into place. Most of the others were in the same straights as MinJi and after a bit of bowing down to the great wisdom of the female half of their dual leadership, they got SooHyun to explain herself.
"He has a girlfriend," she said simply. "It's obvious. That's why security found him just waiting around outside, he was waiting for her. And no wonder he's a bit off tonight, he must be worried sick about her, laid up in the hospital! Poor Guy."
Jealous, Jinki grumbled, "When on earth did that guy find time to get a girlfriend?"
JiEun shrugged. "I dunno, but SooHyun's right, that does make sense."
The rest of the break was spent in quiet contemplation. Whispers were spread between the members that had been onstage with Jay when SeungMi's information had been divulged as soon as they came down from the stage, well after Jay had gotten out of earshot that is. Nods of understanding made the rounds, but a few people, particularly Dara, were unconvinced.
Yuri was far too tired by this point to notice the way the band was talking about her, many members staring openly. And there was still another hour left in the concert, the latter half of which she was expected to spend the entire duration onstage, actively singing and dancing to the songs the entire group of fifteen were involved with. She was a zombie already, and that state of mind only got worse as the night wore on.
One benefit of this seeping tiredness, Yuri noted in an amused and very detached way, was that because she was so exhausted, she didn't have the energy to spare being nervous. The crowd screaming her name, along with those of the other members, didn't bother her at all anymore.
When at last the concert ended, Yuri blindly followed the band as they piled into waiting vans and were carted to the dormitory they called home. It wasn't a mansion of any sort, but in comparison to many of the dormitories allotted to other idols it was massive and very high end. Yuri noticed all of this, but she didn't process any of the information. She somehow managed to stumble over to a couch and crash down into relative comfort before blacking out completely.
The rest of the members briefly contemplated moving Jay to his bed, but decided against it on account of their own exhaustion.
It wasn't for several long hours that Yuri surfaced into awareness again. Her neck ached from being pinched at a weird angle against the arm of the couch, her every muscle throbbed with over-use, and worst of all she smelled to high heaven of sweat. She needed a nice, hot shower.
It took a few minutes of quiet exploring for Yuri to locate the bathroom she thought best to use. Of the three within the massive dormitory, this one was the furthest away from the bedrooms, on the far side of the kitchen from them. And the bedrooms themselves were helpfully labeled with their owner's names. Better yet, as Jay had previously mentioned to Yuri, each member had a room, small as it was, to him or herself. It meant that Yuri could fish though Jay's clothes for some pajamas without having to worry about waking anyone.
Even with the odds on her side, she wasn't quite successful in ensuring that she didn't wake anyone. Donghae, whose room was closest to the kitchen partitioning the bathroom from the sleeping area, heard the shower start up. Since he was awake and thirsty anyway he slipped out of bed and made his way into the kitchen, dimly lit by a series of nightlights put in place to facilitate just such night-time outings.
He wasn't alone in his midnight craving for tea. Dara was already there, cradling a steaming mug close to her as it steeped. "Why are you up?" Donghae asked quietly. Dara was one of the heaviest sleepers in the group; she probably hadn't been woken by the shower.
"No reason, you?"
"Mr. squeaky clean couch potato there woke me up," Donghae replied ignoring her obvious perturbance for the moment as he poured himself some of the water Dara had heated up already.
Leaning back against the counter so that he was directly across the small room from Dara, Donghae waited. He knew what was bothering her, and that if he tired to bring it up in any way she would deny everything. He blew gently on his tea to help hasten its cooling process.
"It's just weird," Dara said eventually. "That Jay has a girlfriend."
"You're telling me! That guy is really some piece of work."
"I never thought he'd want one, you know?"
"I suppose it's natural that he would, but . . .
"But . . . ?" Dara prodded as Donghae paused to test the temperature of his tea.
Donghae drew out the tension just a bit longer, trying to make Dara squirm. "I just don't think that's what's going on. Jay's acting odd, but only tonight. I mean, don't you think we would have noticed something was up if he'd gotten a girlfriend? Jinki was right, when do any of us actually have time to date? Unless it's another JYG artist, we really don't actually meet anyone, you know? If Jay was seeing someone, we'd be able to figure it out."
After a quiet moment Dara asked, "But then who's in the hospital that he's so worried about?"
"I dunno," Donghae replied with a shrug. "But I'm sure it's not his girlfriend."
Dara sipped her tea. Her tolerance for heat was about the same as Donghae's, so he cautiously followed suit. Neither of them spoke until nearly half of their tea had been drained. Adjusting her grip on her mug, Dara said, "You're probably right."
"I usually am," Donghae said, satisfied. "See you in the morning, then," he told her, raising his mug in her direction before heading down the hall to his room. He leaned on his wall, just inside with the door slightly ajar, for another five minutes until Dara padded quietly to her room.
He was about to get back in bed when Jay came tiptoeing by from his late night shower. There was definitely something very strange about him tonight, Donghae thought. After a show, Jay was usually the bounciest of the lot, riding the high of the crowd and converting it directly into energy. But tonight, he was more exhausted than Donghae had ever seen him. Sure, this concert had been bigger and a lot longer than any of the others Jay had participated in, but that should have made him all the more hyper.
It was all very strange Donghae mused as he finished his tea and slipped into bed. Between the tea and his satisfaction at helping Dara get some rest, Donghae was able to fall asleep quickly and get up at his bright and early usual.
I hope you enjoyed this part! The rest is already written and will be going up in sections over the next week or so!