"So at the audition," Mr. Kim broke through the shroud of thoughts that clogged my mind, "are you just going to dance, or are you going to sing, too?"
"I was just planning on dancing," I said hesitantly, biting my bottom lip. "Wouldn't that be enough? If I'm as good as you say I am, won't just dancing be fine?"
"I don't know," his mouth was pulled into a straight line, eyebrows furrowed down in thought. "These auditions are designed to analyze your potential and overall ability. You need to exhibit everything you're capable of. From what I remember, you're one hell of a singer, not to mention dancer. If you can manage to work your voice into your routine, I'm fairly positive they'll take interest in you."
I trailed my right index finger along the holes and scratches which were indented into the studio's rough, wooden floor. My thoughts escaped my grasp, straying away to the day when I had accidentally walked in on Kyungsoo when he had been rehearsing alone. The halls of the school had been deserted, no sign of the usual student life milling around. I had just finished making up a test which I had missed due to my determination to rehearse when I should have been in class. The sound of a voice - the voice of an angel - had made its way into the hallway from within the confines of a lone classroom. The voice seemed to pierce my heart and melt it with every progressing note that flew melodically through the air. Something in my subconscious forced my feet to walk slowly but steadily to where the source of the voice resided. I remembered pausing before peeking around the door, which was ajar about two inches. My jaw had dropped at the sight of Kyungsoo, sitting at a piano stationed in the middle of the classroom, face suffused in an expression of pure joy and passion.
"I'm not sure if that will do anything for me," I muttered, forcing myself to return to reality. "If I end up singing, I need to be able to impress them. I know one person who's auditioning," I once again pictured Kyungsoo's face in my mind, "that would definitely be able to out-sing me."
Luhan's voice is pretty amazing, too, though...Dammit, Lu, call me back!
"This person must be pretty good," Mr. Kim said thoughtfully. "Do I know the kid?"
"No," I said immediately, "but he's Chanyeol's best friend."
"My stepbrother," I tried not to let too much sarcasm leak into my voice. I hid my face from him to discreetly roll my eyes.
"Wait, Chanyeol? Park Chanyeol?" I looked up to see Mr. Kim's eyes widen in surprise. There was something hidden behind the expression on his face; something similar to...wariness?
"Do you know him?" My voice was free of emotion; completely stoic. The panic that filled me was unprecedented. I didn't know why it was such a big deal that he knew who Chanyeol was.
"Chanyeol...I didn't realize he was Park Taekyung's son. That kid...has some serious talent. Don't tell me he's doing the audition, too." His eyes were wide. I didn't want to meet his gaze, afraid of what I would find. Those eyes practically screaming, You have no chance against Chanyeol!
"He is," I said gloomily, leaving my sitting positioning and sprawling out dejectedly across the floor. Staring up at the ceiling, I considered the likelihood of my acceptance to SM. "And yeah, I walked in on him practicing. It made me realize...that I don't have much of a chance." I turned my head to look up into his face. I was just starting to realize how different he looked. Wrinkles were starting to appear around his eyes; his hair was starting to wilt; the light that had filled his pupils so long ago was starting to fade, replaced with a tired weariness that affected the entirety of his face. It was nice to see him after so long, but now, he looked so lifeless.
"What are you talking about? You have more of a chance than most of the kids in South Korea! Kai, what have I always told you? Don't you remember, or is your memory that bad? Your talent, your gift is what makes you special and what makes you stand out. Use that gift to-"
"-to spread your talent and passion to the world. Yeah, I know. But that isn't relevant." I sat up to meet his comforting stare. "I can't fail this audition. I have to win this."
"Kai, there's no winning or failing. You either get in or you don't. If you don't get in, it won't be the end of the world. There are auditions more than once a year. You're bound to make at least one of them. There are plenty of things you can do with your talent. Who says you have to go into entertainment? Look at me. I teach, and I'm pretty happy where I am right now."
"You don't understand," I said, slamming my closed fist onto the floor in frustration. "If I don't make this, that's it. I have nothing to go back to. I left school, my dad's dead, my mom's a different person, I don't have a real home," my voice cracked as tears flooded my vision. "I have no other choice."
"You will always have a choice. No one is forcing you to do this." He placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, which I shook off. I felt guilty refusing to accept his condolences, but he really had no idea what it was like for me. This audition would dictate my future.
"I'm forcing myself," I was yelling now, hot tears lining my face and falling into my open lap. I didn't know what triggered the tears, but whatever it was, it refused to stop. The flow didn't cease.
"Kai. Hey, Kai, listen to me. Listen."
I shook my head and buried my face in my hands, shoulders shaking violently with silent sobs. I didn't want to face the more-than-likely possibility of my rejection from SM. I'd been working most of my life to get to this point, and if I failed, I wouldn't just be a failure. I'd be a loser; an outcast; just another one of those kids that tried and failed to pursue their utmost goal in life - to stand on stage and do what they love most. For me, that was to dance, and without my dancing, I was nothing.
"Kai, get a hold of yourself," Mr. Kim took my shoulders in his hands and shook me, jostling my head. His voice was stern; fierce; not the understanding, soft voice that he usually adopted. "I never told you this, but when I was your age, I audition for an entertainment company."
I froze, my sobs instantly coming to a halt. This was the first time hearing that he, too, had attempted to go into show business. I never imagined that he would be one to try and do something like that. It had never occurred to me, either, that before being a dance teacher, he probably had goals in life as well.
"Actually, I auditioned more than once. I tried twelve times."
I cleared my throat and wiped my face on my sleeves before replying, "Twelve?"
"Yup," he laughed breathlessly, leaning back on his hands and staring at something that existed in his far-off memory. "Twelve times. I gave up after that. I told myself that it was no use. I didn't have what they were looking for. You have no idea how much I trained and practiced, just wishing and hoping that they would somehow find it within themselves to choose me. For ten years, starting from when I was only eight years old, I auditioned again and again. I put my heart and soul into my dancing. That wasn't enough for them, though. The people they choose...they have something that your average person lacks."
I was shocked into silence. Everything he was telling me...it was so impossible to register. I was barely able to comprehend his next words. Listening to his story, rather than giving me hope, left me feeling helpless and alone. Mr. Kim had been my idol for the amount of time I had been his student. Knowing that he hadn't made it...it simply reinforced what I had already convinced myself of - I wasn't nearly good enough.
"And I can assure you, Kai, that you have that something. You have what they're looking for. So don't give up yet. You may not be as crazy as me and audition twelve times," he laughed quietly, "but don't lose faith. No matter what, keep counting your lucky stars and pray that they'll bestow on you what you've been praying for."
I smiled through my stiff expression, trying to let the warmth reach my eyes. His words gave me little comfort, as much as I wished otherwise. It didn't matter what he thought he saw in me; it didn't matter whether or not he thought I could make it. His opinions didn't affect the final verdict of SM.
"Mr. Kim? Sir? Are you here?"
A figure emerged from the doorway. I looked around to find the source of the voice. My eyes fell upon a tall, lanky guy who walked in through the entrance with a small bag slung over his shoulder. He looked about my age, his large, round eyes searching the room hopefully. He reminded me of Luhan, in terms of his lost puppy-dog features. His dark brown hair fell carelessly into his wide eyes. A crooked smile existed on his lips, accenting the cheerful light that illuminated his face. I smile from just looking at the kid. He looked so...hopelessly happy.
Mr. Kim got to his feet and I followed suit, trailing his footsteps as he walked over to the guy.
"Oh, you're here? This early?"
"It's one o'clock, sir," he said with a polite smile, pointing to the clock that hung just next to the speakers.
"Wow, it's been an hour already?" He looked at me incredulously. I simply shrugged, my eyes straying curiously over to the kid that eyed me with an identical expression of curiosity. Something about him seemed familiar.
"Sorry, Kai-I mean, Jongin. We can talk after I coach this guy." I nodded, smiling stiffly.
"Wait," the kid said hurriedly, right as I was about to turn and grab my bag. "You're Kim Jongin?" His tone was excited, his eyes lighting up.
I paused, glancing at Mr. Kim, who's puzzles expression only mirrored my thoughts. I wasn't under the impression that anyone in Seoul knew me anymore.
"You went to Incheon Academy, right?" I could almost picture this guy's tail wagging.
"That's right," I said cautiously, studying his face. "Do I know you?"
"Yes!" he announced triumphantly, running forward and pulling me into a hug, which I narrowly avoided by twisting my torso smoothly out of the way.
"Sorry, but...who are you?" My mind was blank. I had never seen this kid in my entire life. I wasn't about to go let him hug me. I never even let Luhan do that when I wasn't in the mood.
"It's me," he yelled, jumping up and down on the spot. "Baekhyun!"
"Baekhyun..." As the name rolled off my tongue, countless memories flooded into my mind.
Both of us as little kids, running around the school lot, singing Shinhwa songs at the top of our lungs.
My eighth birthday party, where he stayed for a sleepover afterward and we promised each other to always remain best friends.
My father's funeral, our small hands clasped tightly together in support.
The day I left Seoul, his face growing smaller and smaller out the car's back window as we drove away.
"Do you guys know each other?" Mr. Kim asked, trying to decipher the expression that unfolded on my face.
"Yeah," we said together. I looked at him in awe, not caring that my mouth was gaping wide open. He had been my best friend. The first friend I had ever made before moving to Incheon with my uncle and meeting Luhan.
"We were-" he began.
"-best friends," I finished.
Finally, I thought as I accepted his second attempt at hugging me, I'm starting to feel at home again.
aww this is too cute...
hard to believe that this is going
to be angst, right? oh god, i really don't
want to write the angsty stuff...this chapter
was actually heart-warming lol so here's bacon!!
aw he's so adorable!!! my second bias in exo /cough/
anyway, please comment and critique! don't be
afraid to talk to me!! i love talking to people
so please do ^.^ hope you enjoyed!