so does the misery.”
Exasperation seethes inside of Rian. The raw sensation blossoms in the center of her chest and it courses through her veins, to the deepest parts of her body. Her petite hands have already balled up into fists before she could even realise, and her nails are digging into her heated flesh. This current conception of her is no secret. Her temper is, indeed, as clear as Sehun’s persona.
So it must be really ing clear.
“Director Oh, I sincerely thank you for the public humiliation.” Rian breaks the inevitable silence Sehun has made, thanks to his power inherited from his respected parents. None of the judges are muttering a word to voice their opinions, because in the end, they’re aware their voice has absolutely no power. That also, is unfair.
Sehun’s features contort into a condescending expression. One thick brow of his is raised upward, either amused or done with her everyday attitude. What’s your problem, Sehun? He should’ve seen this coming the moment he spat fire on her.
“Isn’t it embarrassing to discourage kids with dreams, Director Oh? We’ll accept your feedback, but next time, do consider us and our family as well, and not just your shining pride. Think about how many kids went home crying because of you today.” Rian furrows her brows, releases a sarcastic sigh before mimicking in a dramatic tone, “I didn’t get in, I’m a failure. If the top company said this to me, I have nothing to live for.” She shakes her head vigorously. “I bet their mum and dads would be so happy to see their beloved child cry like that, Director Oh Sehun. You’re doing a spectacular job.”
Finally, one of the judges talks, except it’s to the security guarding the door. Rian doesn’t need them to confront her on what the hell they’re plotting.
“Nobody is dragging me out. I’ll gladly walk out on my own.” Rian smiles innocently. “I wouldn’t want to ruin Miracle Entertainment’s amazing reputation after all.”
“Can I try one more time?” Yerim speaks up in the midst of the tension. Dumbfounded, Rian looks at her, but Yerim’s fiery eyes are elsewhere—they’re set on the devil’s summon, Sehun. “Please give me one more chance.” she pleads calmly but somewhat confidently.
The judges direct themselves to Sehun. Of course, he’s the decision-maker once again.
“Win the judges over then, Kim Yerim.” Sehun instructs. He stands up from the middle, removes his hefty blazer clinging onto his shoulders and loosens the tie strapped around his neck in awfully fluid movements. Never in her wildest dreams did she think a blazer would replace his leather jacket, and a cigarette isn’t in between his fingertips. “And you,” Sehun pressurises her with a mere gaze. “Have a word with me.”
Just like that, Sehun treads off to the back door that’s strictly accessible to staff, leaving the room in utter quietude. She doesn’t have many viable options, so instead of sticking around in this suffocating, deadly solitude where every single eye is glued onto her and her rather peculiar attitude, Rian musters up the energy to follow Sehun. Sure, she’s voiced her frustration already, but she wouldn’t mind repeating herself. It’ll be one-on-one. Perfect chance to punch him too.
Opening the door into some hallway, Rian halts when three hollow pathways to her left, right, and front, greet her dauntingly. Sehun couldn’t get any ing worse. What is she meant to do, find him by scent? By intuition?
With her eyes glued to the three routes, she catches someone, a woman, coming from the left. Even from afar, her visuals are enough to sweep Rian off her feet. Jealousy inevitably blooms too. The world must’ve hit replay, because history is repeating itself. Back when she saw Joohyun in Baekhyun’s apartment, she felt the same way.
Along with the gratifying sound of her heels, the woman ahead draws nearer in a black silk dress, hair beautifully curled and dyed in an alluring shade of hazel brown.
“You,” Joohyun furrows her brows in disdain.
“My name is Rian, not you.” Rian deadpans.
“Rian!” a voice, not Sehun’s, intrudes Joohyun.
“There we go.” Rian grins smugly at the coincidence. “I’ll see you at the apartment.” she quips before brushing past Joohyun.
Surprised by the abrupt uproar, Rian treads over to the door closest to her. Wind seeps and howls through the crevices of the door. She creaks the door open, and as expected, she’s outdoors now. Rian is unsure of where this is, but she can maybe assume it’s the rear of the building that’s exclusively connected to the staff car park. Metal rails with glass panes embedded in them circle the entire green field, and there’s benches, potted plants, just all the pretty yet expensive objects Miracle Entertainment splurged on conclusively for aesthetic purposes.
“Rian? Rian?” a voice calls out, and it’s not Sehun.
Rian scurries over to the voice. She goes right around the corner, approaching the obscure commotion in front of the car park entrance.
“What the is going on here?” Rian stomps forward and scowls at a part of Jeno’s face. The rest of his features are hidden under a cap, fitting with his all-black attire. Suspicious enough, he has an oversized backpack on as well. “You weren’t even at school today. How are you here?”
“Rian,” Jeno softly exhales with a smile. “I was looking for you.”
Rian didn’t even think about it, but her body sends a chill up her spine. “Why?” She frowns. “What’s wrong with you?”
“So about that date we talked about,” Jeno nervously laughs. “Should I save this for later?”
“Date?” Rian’s frown intensifies at the foreign word.
“Remember when I asked you in class?” Jeno sheepishly grins, rubbing the back of his neck. “You said yes, you said you were free on the weekend. We’re going to watch a movie?”
She definitely turned him down.
“What?” she blurts out.
“I should’ve told you beforehand I was coming, but I was too excited.” Jeno goes on, “I even thought of what we can watch. We can also go eat afterward. I researched a bunch of places. You like pasta, don’t you? I browsed Italian restaurants.” Maintaining his eerie smile, he takes a step forward, and inadvertently, she takes a step back. “Or do you prefer burgers? You said you couldn’t adjust to Korea’s food since you lived your whole life in Australia.”
She didn’t say any of that to Jeno.
“Jeno, stop.” Rian warns, now anxious about the possibilities.
“You don’t remember saying all that, do you?” Jeno chuckles, shaking his head. “It’s okay, you said it six months ago. You can forget, and I’ll remember it for you.”
“Just tell me how the you got here, Jeno.”
“You know what I noticed these days, Rian?” Jeno asks softly, but to her, he sounds like a ing danger siren. A red flag. He just dismissed her words as if they don’t matter; like they’re invalid. “As your friend, classmate, someone who loves you, someone who watches you–” he pauses, his expression now hardening. “Ignore the last part, Rian?”
Rian rips Jeno’s cap off his head and throws it onto the ground, beside her feet. “You’re ing disgusting, you know that?” She stomps on his cap, crushing it below her heel. “You’re the sick er who stole my Airpods and hair tie.”
“So what?” Jeno shrugs. “Isn’t it romantic?”
Without any hesitation, Rian slaps Jeno across his cheek. It’s because she didn’t control her strength, all the colour in Jeno’s face accumulates and spreads onto the side of his face. His cheek reddens immediately once she retracts her hand. “Take your romantic to hell.”
Jeno doesn’t even react to her attack. “What I noticed was, Mr. Byun, he seems to know I’ve been around. He’s been searching the whole place for the past few days.” He sighs, “ever since he almost caught me that one time you guys near the car park.” Jeno bites down onto his tongue. “What a ty teacher.”
Baekhyun was searching the place? For her safety?
“It’s okay though, he’s not our permanent teacher anyway.” Jeno takes another step forward. Rian steps away, and her shoulders come in contact with the railing. “How are you feeling? How did your audition go? I’m really sorry I couldn’t watch your performance. The security here is quite strict. I tried to find you through the staff entry, and who knew I’d actually find you here?” He chuckles lightly and places his hands on top of her tensed shoulders. “We’re meant to be, Rian. Fate.”
“ing kids these days.”
Right behind Jeno, she watches Sehun stride towards them. When Sehun nears, he grabs Jeno by the back of the collar and drags him all the way back, Jeno’s feet helplessly skidding across the ground.
“My building’s pest control is usually top-notch.” Sehun says as Jeno struggles under his grip. “I wonder why we have a filthy pest crawling around.”
“Sehun?” Jeno snaps his head back at Sehun and scans his unusual exterior. “Your building? How’s this your building? You encouraged minors to drink, you can get sent to jail for all the you’ve done!”
“You have a lot to learn about society.”
“Sehun, let me ing go!” Jeno growls at Sehun. “Can you ing let go of me? If I lose her, I’ll seriously–” his voice cuts out the moment Sehun tightens his grip against his collar.
“Have you seen yourself?” Sehun snaps. “You seriously think you can do something?”
Suddenly, Jeno frantically shakes off Sehun’s clutch and throws his arms around Rian. Tugging her into his chest the moment she intakes a breath, Rian feels her airway constrict when she tries to force out the breath stuck in . Her arms are stuck to her sides, and Jeno’s arms are like vines tightening against her smaller figure. Rian’s body protests; her body battles the force wrapped around her, however, she fails, over and over.
“Get the off me,” her voice comes out muffled.
“Rian, will you date me?” Jeno coaxes in a whisper. “I’ll be good to you. I’ll devote my life to you, I promise. You won’t have to worry about a guy in your life ever again. I’ll stick by you forever. My family is rich, and I can do all the housework too.” his voice trembles in excitement, “I know you like me, I know we’re a match. I’ll treat you so well, you’ll love me, so much.”
Rian peeks behind Jeno’s shoulder in the midst of Sehun approaching to tear Jeno off again. However, she narrows her eyes at Sehun and barely manages to raise a palm up to prevent Sehun from intervening again.
At that, Sehun stops. Instead, he calls someone, most likely security.
“Yes, Jeno.” she answers softly. “Let’s date.”
“Really? Are you being for real?” Jeno loosens his arms around her to steal a glance of her face. “I didn’t think you’d like me back, well, I did, but not so soon.”
“I mean, look at you, Jeno. And if I include all the things you’ve done for me? Unmatched.” Rian sighs out loud. “God, Jeno, I never thought there would be someone like you.”
Jeno smiles like a ing brainless idiot. “I knew you’d understand me.”
Rian glowers at him. “ing loser.” She pushes out a kick into his crotch out of sheer unsatisfaction. If a slap won’t do the trick, she’ll go for the one that will. “You told me you’d remember every word I say. You disgust me, Lee Jeno.”
Jeno crumbles down at the impact. His blonde head dips down as he groans weakly, showing a clear representation of ing defeat. “I won’t give up.” he forces out his statement with a breath. “Rian, I won’t ever give up on you, not until I make you mine.”
She freezes at that, but luckily at a fortunate timing, two security guards burst through the door. Though they haven’t been prompted to do so, it’s obvious Jeno is the offender in this scene, so without any questions, the two of them take a hold of Jeno’s arms and drags him out the same way Sehun did.
“You hurt?” Sehun asks, and she can’t tell if he’s genuinely concerned or he’s just asking for the sake of the situation. All the trust in him is gone and her anger returns, consuming and extinguishing the ongoing fear inside of her.
“I didn’t think you’d care, Director Oh.” she counters.
“Why did you come to audition anyway?” Sehun questions. The frown on his visage finally somewhat softens, but the tension remains.