THE ENDING STAR
Two years ago, Wonyoung wasn’t only upset because she didn't get to debut with the team that she had been training with for a year, but because she had seen a fellow trainee, a best friend, changed after her debut and cut off contact with her was the main reason why Wonyoung didn't believe in Yujin anymore.
When Yujin’s name was called as the debut member of the agency's upcoming girl group but not Wonyoung, that's when she felt the gap between them.
“Wonyoung-ah, I can't believe you're not in the line up!”
The other trainees that had been picked were shocked for her and even comforted her, but Yujin remained static behind them and didn't come close to Wonyoung like the others.
“Wonyoung-ah...I'm sad we're not debuting together!”
“It's okay Wonyoung. This is only for the beginning. The CEO said he will add you later on once your training has completed, and I believe in him.”
“It's okay guys,” Wonyoung sniffled as she wiped her tears. “You all deserve this more than me anyway. Just do your best for the debut. I’ll be supporting you all no matter what, so fighting!”
Yujin found her best friend at the rooftop of the company's two-storey building effortlessly. She knew it's Wonyoung's favourite spot, despite the place being everyone else's favourite spot as well.
“So what if it's cliché!” Wonyoung rolled her eyes once at Yujin when the latter had belittled the former for fun before.
“Congratulations on your debut!” Wonyoung said first before Yujin could speak a word. The former turned around and leaned her back against the railing as the latter arrived in front of her.
“Don't be too sad, Wonyoungie. We will definitely be together again someday, on stage!” Yujin said confidently.
“I'm just worried if I'll ever be able to debut and perform on stage.”
“Don't worry,” Yujin held Wonyoung's hand squeezed the girl's finger. “I’m sure you will. Even if not as our additional member, then maybe our group's junior.”
“I'll never forget you, Wonyoung. I'll always keep in touch with you, either you stay or out from this agency.”
Their pinky fingers were entangled to each other.
Guess promises are meant to be broken…
Not long after the group's debut, Wonyoung left the company because of certain pressure.
She wasn't good enough.
Her skills and talents were far left behind compared to her friends.
She had to forget about her hope of the company adding her in the group later than the rest because she should be training longer than them for the better.
The company didn't have any plan of adding anyone in the group, including you.
We won't be producing another new group any sooner either.
That’s what they said. The moment Wonyoung stepped out after packing her stuffs, ready to return home sadly, she received a text message from Yujin.
Yujinie: don't ever forget about me. Always keep me updated about yourself.
Wonyoung smiled at the message, imagining Yujin hiding behind the window as she watched Wonyoung slowly left from afar.
Wonyoungie: roger that! I'll be supporting you always, Yujinie! Hwaiting!
A few months after leaving the agency and had had a break from training since then, Wonyoung was scouted by another, more establishing company than the previous one, at her sister's graduation.
She was given false hope, got rejected and pulled out from the debut team at the last minute, and when she quitted from the company at last, she was offered for another effortlessly. Talk about good fortune.
Wonyoung updated Yujin about her new life. After studying her off throughout the span of joblessness, she would finally start on training to become an idol again soon.
Although Yujin never replied to any of her messages again for the past weeks, Wonyoung still sent her news anyway, for the sake of her promise to the other girl. Either Yujin read her messages or not, as long as Wonyoung fulfilled the girl’s wish then it was enough for her.
When the news about Yujin’s group's comeback came to light, Wonyoung was the most excited for her friends that she watched every show the group was featured on.
But none of them were updated by Yujin herself. Wonyoung had to dig everything about the group's activity on her own.
“Maybe their phones were confiscated since they're rookies. Don’t think too negative about it, Wonyoung!”
A fellow trainee Wonyoung had recently acquainted with tried to make her feel better.
But the trainee's words were proven wrong when Yujin revealed in the radio show she and her group members were the guests, that they had their own phones with them and the company never really restricted them about the usage of the devices.
“What happened to you Yujinie…”
Wonyoung sat on the floor by the corner of the practice room when she was left alone, and hugged her knees. Tears started streaming down on her face as she mumbled the five words above.
Nobody could understand how she was feeling at the moment.
Things couldn't be worse for Wonyoung when her former agency announced that Yujin's group would be having an additional member following comeback news.
The new member's profile was released to the public for the first time, but Wonyoung didn't remember her anywhere from before.
There wasn't any trainee with the name Kim Minjoo before, so where did this girl come from, so out of nowhere?
Furiously, Wonyoung grabbed her phone and started bombarding Yujin with text messages.
Yujin, what's with the news?? Why are you all suddenly having a new member??? [Sent 12:34]
Yujin, don't ignore me anymore!! Please answer me!!! [Sent 15:57]
YA AHN YUJIN!!! I KNOW YOU READ MY MESSAGES SO STOP IGNORING ME!!! [Sent 21:41]
Yujin-ah...I'm sorry if I stress you with my rants when you could have been busy. I should've understood you better. I'm sorry I couldn't be a better friend for you. [Sent 00:22]
I don't think I can stay friends with you anymore. I will not contact you again as of now. Sincerely, Jang Wonyoung. [Sent 03:09]
Wonyoung sobbed on the bed of the dormitory. Cho Gahyeon, her fellow trainee knew what the younger girl was going through so she lied down beside her that night, comforting her all day long.
I feel so betrayed…
I understand. Just cry all you want now, Wonyoung.
The famous idol survival show had announced its return with a new season; Super Idol 48. Upon seeing the news, Wonyoung was eager to join, even asked Gahyeon to go to the audition with her. Luckily the company that she had been trained under was very supportive of the trainees joining the program.
It had been a year since Wonyoung broke her friendship with Yujin, and the latter had never tried contacting her back. She hadn't been following her former best friend's group's activities so well since then, but it had been quite a while since Yujin or the other members last appeared on news or television. Perhaps, the group had been in a hiatus after their last comeback (with the addition of the new member).
Wonyoung and Gahyeon both applied for and passed the audition. They had been interviewed by the producer and writer on cameras, and they had been answering them earnestly, no sugar-coating nor scripted by the company or the show itself.
She was nervous on their first evaluation, because not only she would be performing in front of a line of intimidating judges, but also 96 other participants, with half of them were from Japan.
But what appalled her the most was, when she saw Yujin coming; in a white outfit; with Kim Minjoo (her new group member); holding hands. As Yujin and her labelmate came up the stairs to the participants’ seats, that's only when she started seeing and recognizing Wonyoung.
However, Wonyoung tore her gaze away the moment her eyes met with Yujin's; coldly.
She was ranked B by the judges, which separated her from Gahyeon, with the older girl was given A on the first evaluation.
Wonyoung was scared when she entered the B class. She had known no one yet in the very class, and it made her think if she’d ever be able to practice the theme song properly out of fear.
Wait– maybe not all, because Yujin was in B class too. But did they know each other? Wonyoung would consider no.
She saw her former best friend tried to approach her, but Wonyoung became stiff and awkward, almost running away even, until a Japanese participant in the same class caught her on the wrist.
“Hi, uh...can we practice together? My body’s not following the choreography too well.”
Wonyoung recognized Shiroma Miru, a quite famous debuted idol from Japan, and it’s cute how the Japanese participant tried to talk to her for a joint practice in a broken Korean mixed with body language.
“I’d like it!” she replied in fluent Japanese, which surprised the idol.
“I want to join you guys too!” Yujin suddenly announced, joining them shamelessly. Wonyoung was speechless by her actions, but she did not wish to cause a scene by picking a fight with Yujin now so she just let her be awkwardly.
“That’s good! More people, the merrier!” Miru answered ecstatically and pulled Yujin to practice with them.
While practicing together, Wonyoung suddenly remembered Yujin’s words during the agency evaluation, a sentence that not only tugged the judges and audiences’ hearts, but also made Wonyoung weak.
“We have debuted, but unfortunately it didn’t do as well as we expected it to be. We are here to save not only our company but also to boost our idol career.”
“Ah, the choreography is harder and more complicated than I expected,” she heard Yujin sighed and Wonyoung finally snapped out of her dazed. Miru tried to learn it from the video shown on the tab as well, but their bodies didn’t follow too well.
Some other trainees had started to learn the next steps of the choreography in advanced and Yujin lowered her head down in shame.
‘An experienced debuted idol fell behind in choreography lesson compared to less-than-a-year trainee. What an embarrassment.’
Wonyoung wanted to comfort the girl, but she was also reminded of that time when Yujin left her in the dark in the past. It got her on revenge mode somehow, so she feigned ignorance and stayed silenced.
Wonyoung practiced hard for the re-evaluation but still fell behind (a little). When their classes were reassigned, Yujin advanced to class A while Wonyoung had to stay in the same class. Miru had unfortunately fallen down in rank, which separated all three of them.
Wonyoung was back to square one, having no friend to practice with. The recording for the theme song was incoming, but Wonyoung was too shy to practice with the other trainees in the same class.
When she thought she had no one, someone came up to her, appearing like an angel except she was wearing and orange shirt and without the wings.
“Wonyoung, come join practice with me!”
The tall girl hesitated but the other girl offered her a very kind smile. She’s Kim Chaewon, and Wonyoung was sure she heard everyone had called the trainee an angel.
“Come, don’t be shy. We’re all friends here!”
Soundlessly, Wonyoung started practicing with Chaewon and some other girls. They were nice and all treated her like they had been friends for a while. Wonyoung was elated she had them.
She glanced up when she felt a pair of eyes staring at her. Chaewon’s beautiful eyes just melted her heart.
God was really testing her when fate put her and Yujin in one team together for the first group evaluation.
But the good part was, Miru was in the team as well, so that’s a win-win for Wonyoung.
As the time passed and reached late night, the group cut short the practice so they could finally go back to the dorm and rest, while training could be continued tomorrow.
They were all about to head to bed immediately, included Wonyoung but she felt a strong hand had grasped and caught her wrist.
“Wonyoung, can we talk?”
It was Yujin, and her adorable puppy eyes, her sad face, gentle touch, charming voice.
The girl knew well they were all Wonyoung’s weaknesses.
“S-Sure,” she agreed. But she wasn’t very sure. She blamed and mentally slapped herself for being so whipped for her former best friend to resist the request.
Yujin locked themselves in a vacant practice room while everyone else had left to rest. Wonyoung stood frozen in front of her, and her heartbeat was beating really fast. She knew Yujin was now looking at her intensely.
“Congratulations for being the center,” Yujin said, soft and full of sincerity, yet Wonyoung was too panicked to respond properly.
“S-Sureㅡ I-I mean, t-thanks, I guess.”
Yujin chuckled as the poor girl stuttered, because it was too adorable for her heart.
“You have changed a lot. You have become a really good performer and shine so brightly. Your individual cam for the theme song gained so much views from local viewers.”
“I'm really proud of you,” she added.
Wonyoung internally snorted, but she also didn't want to look too cold to the former.
“Thanks,” she simply replied.
“And I'm sorry.”
Wonyoung raised her head and stared at Yujin in surprise.
“For not responding to you, for not being honest with you, for breaking my promises to you.”
“I feel so guilty and too ashamed to tell you everything. The company really had no plan on debuting you at that time, and when you left, our group faced with failure.
“We agreed to add Minjoo in the group to boost the popularity, since she gained a lot of fame with her beauty, and it did capture the public's attention, but it still didn't work very well.
“So to see you again like this, because of our failure, MY failure, I feel so ashamed. Yet I feel so glad for being able to meet you here.”
Yujin held her hands and squeezed her fingers gently.
“Because to be honest, I really, REALLY miss you. And I really want to debut with you again, this time!”
Her words were nothing but meaningful and touching. Wonyoung was so moved by Yujin's smooth speeches that she could feel her eyes were tearing up.
Seeing her glassy eyes, Yujin held her hand up and wiped the crystal clear away from her face.
Wonyoung giggled softly and Yujin felt light-hearted to see the girl smiled again, for her, because of her.
“Yes Yujinie, let's debut together this time, we MUST debut together!”
The both of them had been inseparable since, included Minjoo in the picture. Yujin had introduced Wonyoung and Minjoo to each other, and the both of them got along very well.
And in the process of all three of them staying and spending too many times together, Wonyoung had felt herself falling in love with Yujin.
But Yujin didn’t seem to feel the same.
Whenever Wonyoung had a chance to steal a glance at the former, Yujin’s eyes were staring at Minjoo instead.
Wonyoung knew the look; saw the heart eyes; Yujin was not in love with her but Minjoo.
“Can I ask you something, Yujinie?”
“Do you like Minjoo? As more than friends?”
“U-Uh? Hahaha, what are you talking about?”
“N-No, I don’t like Minjoo that way.”
With Yujin’s denial, it gave Wonyoung hope. Maybe, Yujin really didn’t feel like that. So she was expecting.
Expecting that maybe, the heart eyes from Yujin weren’t for Minjoo, but her.
Passing the second group evaluation successfully, Wonyoung took it with a pride when she won number 1 in the ranking announcement, earning herself a chance to win the center spot in the final, although they still have a few more evaluations and ranking announcement to go before she'd reach that.
Unfortunately coming with her success was Gahyeon's elimination. Although competition must go on, she was still sad her only same-company trainee was gone and cried for the older girl.
“I will miss you so much unnie,,,I would be so lonely without you...”
Wonyoung sniffled and wiped her tears as Gahyeon broke the hug.
“Hey Wonyoung, don't ever say the L word! You still have Yujin back now, remember?!” Gahyeon reprimanded her with overflowing tears. She then started the top of Wonyoung's hair as she turned to look at Yujin.
“Please take care of Wonyoung for me, Yujin.”
Yujin smiled sadly and poked the lone tear that fell from her eye. “I will.”
“Please don’t cry anymore, Wonyoungie…”
The girl had been hugging her knees and crying over Gahyeon’s elimination still that got Yujin so worried. She was practically sitting on the floor and frowning next to Wonyoung.
“She’s just out from this show, not the world. You will still be able to see her when you go back to your company.”
“B-But she deserves to debut more than me. She’s more skilled and talented than me. Why can’t she be the number one instead of me? I’m lacking and useless compared to her.”
Yujin got a little worked up by her words that she turned to her angrily.
“Yah!” she huffed and blew the air to her bang. “Don’t you dare saying that again or I’ll be really angry, for real.”
Wonyoung continued to sob while Yujin calmed down.
“Hey,” she cupped the girl’s shoulder. “You shine so bright when you’re on stage. You’re a perfect star in my eyes.”
When Wonyoung raised her head, Yujin side-cupped her cheek and touched like it’s the most fragile thing in the world.
“You’re not lacking nor useless in any way. I’m ready to raise my hand if someone dares to slander you like that!”
Wonyoung giggled at Yujin’s last words and upon seeing the girl’s bright smile again, was enough to make Yujin’s heart delighted and happy.
“There you go,” she said.
Yujin raised her eyebrows in anticipation.
“…s-sleep with me, tonight?”
She smiled at Wonyoung and softly her hair.
The both of them cuddled to sleep that night.
The most twisted-feeling moment was when you found out the best friend that you trusted had betrayed you, twice at that, though it happened unintentionally.
Once the stages for the third group evaluation ended, Wonyoung tried to search for Yujin backstage but the girl was nowhere to be found.
The latter’s group got the least amount of votes in the evaluation, making them the last-placed winner. As the center of the group, Yujin must have felt terrible about the loss, knowing how easily self-conscious she could get. Wonyoung was worried over the girl that she had been searching for her frantically.
“Have you seen Yujin?”
“Did you see Yujin anywhere?”
“Excuse me, do you know where Yujin have gone to?”
She asked everyone she had passed by but to no avail, no one provided a useful answer for her.
“Could it be she returned to the empty practice room by herself and cried while hugging her knees?”
Yujin's heart was fragile and it wasn’t least likely she would do that. Wonyoung headed to the elevator and dropped by the floor where the practice rooms were located.
‘I AM TEAM’ notice was patched in front of the door but when Wonyoung went in, Yujin wasn't inside it. She then looked around more and took noticed how the practice room that read ‘1000% TEAM’ in the front door was lights on.
“Could it be…”
She paced slowly to the 1000% TEAM’s practice room and twisted the doorknob soundlessly.
What she saw inside made her wanted to puke.
Yujin was kissing Minjoo, on the lips, while her hand was on the latter’s cheek affectionately.
Leaving the door opened, Wonyoung ran away from the heartbreaking scene and she could careless about how her heels were stomping on the floor, the sound echoing through the hallway.
When she reached near the elevator, someone bumped into her but luckily she was caught before she could fall on the ground.
“Wonyoung-ah, why are you crying?”
Before Chaewon could interrogate her right then, Wonyoung dragged her inside the elevator and quickly closed the door.
Wonyoung squatted down out of shock and cried her eyes out instantly. Chaewon was internally panicking, but it's admirable how she still managed to feign calmness on her outer appearance.
“Here, cry on me all you want!”
She took Wonyoung by the head and embraced her neck, letting the younger girl soaked her shirt on the shoulder because of her tears.
“Seeing how you're so silenced while crying your eyes out, I’ll assume you won't tell me anything. I won't be bothering you to talk then.”
Wonyoung had calmed down as Chaewon continuously stared at her with soft and gentle gazes.
“Do you want me to call Yujin?”
“No! Please don't tell her anything…” Wonyoung pleaded with teary eyes.
Chaewon flashed her angelic smile before softly patting Wonyoung's head.
“I got it. I'll take you to Miru unnie then.”
Despite being shorter, Chaewon still held onto Wonyoung's shoulders protectively as they walked back to the taller's team's dorm. She knocked on the door and waited until someone opened it, revealing Hitomi's face.
“H-Hi Hitomi-ssi...I'm here to return Wonyoung back to her dorm safely.”
With the girl's teammates fussing over Wonyoung's dishevelled appearance, Chaewon excused herself though she managed to lock a few seconds of shy eye contacts with Hitomi before completely leaving the room.
Wonyoung briefly her back and watched Chaewon's fading steps silently.
‘Thank you for tonight, angel unnie.’
Wonyoung was practicing her line for the final, live stage by herself when Yujin approached her.
She half-ignored the short-haired trainee but still glanced at her in acknowledgement of her presence nonetheless.
“I don't know what happened the past week because you've been a little cold to me nowadays but…”
Wonyoung anticipated for her next words anxiously.
“...I really hope you'll debut this time. You deserve it, with how bright you shine on stage which had captivated viewers’ hearts.”
There was a brief moment of silence between them, which felt like a dramatic slow-motion effect was applied on the scene of the two lead actors staring into each others’ eyes in a movie.
“You too, Yujin. I wish you'll be successful this time as well. Forget about your fallen rank. Who knows, maybe you could rise again tonight.”
Yujin eyed Wonyoung's back as the latter disappeared into the distance.
‘It's not even Yujinie or any other affectionate name, but just Yujin. And there's no wish of debuting together anymore from her.’
With the final ranking announcement coming, every trainee was nervous for the end result and could only silently pray and patiently wait for their names to be called or it would be none at all.
Wonyoung waited in the middle row while Yujin was a little farther away at the back from her. She had no expectation, because this season had the most shocking and unexpected result announcement throughout all seasons of Super Idol so far. So it could be only one of them that could make it, while another spot would be reserved for another trainee.
Unknown to Wonyoung, Yujin had been watching her from the back, silently, and with a little hint of sadness from her expression. She could feel the tension between them, yet she had no idea why Wonyoung would tense up whenever they stood or sat near each other, why Wonyoung drew an invisible line between them.
When the MC began to announce the debuting members one by one, Wonyoung resigned to her fate as she had not that much of an expectation.
Minjoo got to debut, and she was slightly envious of it, but said nothing other than congratulate the older girl. She noticed how Yujin was beyond happy for her labelmate trainee slash her original group’s member's successful debut. She saw them hugging and witnessed how Yujin aimed to kiss Minjoo's head.
It was too painful for her to watch that Wonyoung had to quickly looked away.
And the most unexpected trainee’s name was called next, breaking record and making history out of herself. Kim Chaewon, Wonyoung's secret angelic unnie, finally got a taste of sitting on the comfortable top 12's seats, at the final at that.
Honestly, although shocking her fellow trainees as Chaewon barely survived and was never ranked between the debut line before, Wonyoung was beyond glad the older girl could make it. She might have pretty much acquainted with everyone already and had close relationships with each other, but nobody came to the Chaewon's level of angelic unnie in her life. She was just super happy for Chaewon.
But when Yujin also successfully made it into the final top 12 trainees, Wonyoung began to lose her composure and cried for her favourite person's debut.
Yujin could see nobody else when her own name was announced and straight up reached for her favourite best friend for a hug.
“Wonyoung...I made it!” she whispered when they embraced each other.
“Congratulations Yujinie...I’m so happy and proud for you!”
“Let's debut together. I really hope you'll be called after me!”
It didn't happen too soon, but the wait was worth it for Yujin when Wonyoung and another potential final center, Miyawaki Sakura were shown in the big screen, confirming their debut with one of them being placed the 1st and another as the 2nd winner.
Yujin was losing her breath as she waited for the announcement. The wait was killing her, and she had been really edgy because she wanted to know the end result already.
“You shine so bright when you're on stage. You're the perfect star in my eyes.”
The phrases she had said to Wonyoung before were repeated inside her mind over and over again.
‘That's right. Wonyoung is a perfect star!’
‘Come on Wonyoung, let's shine on stage together!’
“First place is…”
Dramatic drum roll was . Everyone was edgy on their spots, especially more for the two number 1 candidates.
“TRAINEE JANG WONYOUNG!!!”
Wonyoung screamed in shock, while Yujin jumped on the pyramid stage in overexcitement.
The best friend that she wished to debut with for the longest time, not only got to debut (finally) but also won herself the final center position!
After the first and second place winners shared a hug of joy, they moved up the steps together, heading to their seats at the top.
On her way up, Yujin was already waiting for her, ready to celebrate the joyful and victorious moment together.
Yujin embraced her dearly, crying and burying her face on the side of Wonyoung's neck.
“The hard part is ending now. You are the final star, Wonyoung-ah!” Yujin pulled away and showed her tear-stained face to Wonyoung.
Wonyoung sobbed as she held on Yujin's hands dearly.
“Congratulations, Wonyoungie! And happiest birthday to you!”
Yujin closed the gap once again and proceeded to kiss Wonyoung's forehead.
It was the best birthday gift she had ever received in her life.