Every time I turned to look at Baekhyun, his wide, bright eyes were always ready to meet my own. I would divert my eyes toward the banana milk that was clutched in my hand, but whenever I looked back up, his stare would always be there to receive mine. It was great to see him after so long, but his excitement made me uncomfortable. Juggling Baekhyun's eagerness and Mr. Kim's curiosity was what kept me from relaxing completely.
"You look so different," I began, letting my mouth talk without any assistance from my common sense. "I still don't completely recognize you." In an attempt to escape the awkwardness of my words, I turned to look at some far-off object in the distance and took another swig of banana milk.
It was true. When I was able to stare at his face without him catching me, I tried searching for those subtly familiar features which were etched into my memory. I was able to properly identify exactly one trait that had stuck with him while we had been apart - his usual goofy, lopsided grin. He was, without a doubt, the same Baekhyun with whom I had grown up with.
In celebration of our reunion, Mr. Kim had taken us to some hole-in-the-wall cafe. We now sat at a lone, outdoor table, surrounded by hordes of loud, oblivious tourists.
"You look exactly the same," he replied, laughing. "Super handsome. Loads of good looks. A dancing prodigy. Man, you got all the girls back in elementary school just because you were cute and talented. I don't understand why they weren't interested in me...I'm completely adorable! They had no taste in guys..."
"What?" Mr. Kim's voice was amused as I raised my hands indignantly. "this is the first time I'm hearing this. So, Kai...you were a stud?"
"Wait, what? No, I-"
"Yup, he was," Baekhyun confirmed, nodding knowingly. "I don't get it though. I'm just as handsome and talented as him." His confirmation morphed into bitter, playful grumbling, his already lopsided mouth turning down slightly while a flicker of laughter danced in his eyes.
"No, you don't get it. I wasn't-"
"He's probably just being modest," Mr. Kim said, shaking his head in false resignation.
"Jong, you need to open up more and embrace your inner and outer potential. You may not be as amazing as me yet, but you're pretty close."
"Don't kid yourself," I muttered, rolling my eyes. In terms of personality, he hadn't changed one bit.
At that moment, a cluster of girls made their way into my line of sight. They were giggling, blushing, and annoying. Trying to ignore their presence, I turned to Mr. Kim.
"I need more tips on what to do for the aud-"
I stopped, the shadow of four figures overtaking our trio. I looked up, squinting against the backdrop of the sun that hung overhead. My view was immediately blocked by the faces of four teenage girls, lids heavy with makeup, bodies reeking of perfume. I simply stared up at them, wondering to myself why they bothered to come over when they obviously held no physical appeal to any sane male. I looked around at Mr. Kim, who smirked amusedly at me.
"Hey," the shortest girl giggled, leaning in towards me. I consciously scooted to the left to avoid the incapacitating sweetness that practically followed her around . My nose wrinkled at the smell. "My friends and I were thinking...maybe you want to come with us and have some fun? You don't need to hang around with," she gave both Mr. Kim and Baekhyun disparaging looks and completed her sentence in a whisper, "people like them."
"I'm sorry," I said with mock politeness, smiling pleasantly up at the four of them. "I prefer to have fun with people who are more to my liking. I think I'll stick with hanging out with 'people like them.'" I punctuated my last three words, emphasizing them as though there were literal quotations around them.
The other three girls gasped dramatically, mouths round in horror at the venom that bubbled up from behind my words. I continued to stare at them, my expression passive; emotionless; cold. I could see the one girl's confident expression waver ever-so-slightly as my eyes bore into hers. She straightened up and backed away slowly, her ego obviously reconciling with itself.
"Your loss," she said as she flipped her hair and motioned for the rest of her friends to follow her lead as she twitched away. Her voice, saturated with painfully sweet sugar moments before, turned into a low, falsely sympathetic purr in an attempt to maintain her remaining pride. I glared at their retreating backs, not bothering to block out the profanities aimed towards me which met my ears.
"Jeez, Jong, you could've been a little nicer about that."
I rounded on Baekhyun, eyebrows raised.
"In case you weren't listening, they pretty much said that you two," I gestured at him and Mr. Kim in turn, "aren't worth hanging out with. I'm not going to be nice to y-assed whor-"
"Kai, how else are they supposed to muster up the courage to talk to you? Even if they weren't particular polite about it, they were singling you out and giving you a generous offer." Sarcasm and amusement laced the last portion of his retort. I shot him a disbelieving look, annoyance and irritation sprinkling my already sour mood.
"Baekhyun was right, though," he continued. "You really are a stud."
I made no attempt to argue in the fear that yet another gaggle of obnoxious girls would decide to come and ruin the rest of my day. I simply downed the last drops of banana milk from its pale plastic bottle and shot it into the nearest trash can. It hit the rim and fell to the ground at the foot of the garbage. I swore quietly to myself as I stood up. Straightening my wrinkled shirt, I walked over my empty bottle and bent over to pick it up. A vibration from deep within my pocket found my fingers inches away from the bottle. I stood erect once again as I pulled out my phone, swiped the unlock screen, and pressed it to my ear.
Mr. Kim and Baekhyun's chatter ceased. Though my back was still turned, I heard them both turn in their chairs to look at me.
"Jongin? Jongin?" My mom's voice pierced my ear drum. It seemed she was still under the impression that she had to shout in order to be heard over the phone.
"Jeez, Ma, don't yell so loudly. I can hear you fine."
"Oh, okay," she continued, her tone softer than before, but still not quite close enough to her normal speaking voice. "Where are you?"
"Yes, I established that on my own, funnily enough. Where, out?"
"With Mr. Kim and Baekhyun."
"Mr. who? Baek who?"
"Mr. Kim, my dance coach. You don't remember him? The guy that practically helped you raise me after dad died? Kim Hyejoon? "
"Oh. Of course I remember him, but there are a lot of Kim's in Korea, Jongin. How was I supposed to know you were talking about him?"
That motherly, instinctive inkling that you're supposed to get when you talk with your kid. I was aware of the bitterness that infected my own voice.
"Then who's this Baekhoon or whomever?"
"Baekhyun, my best friend from middle school. Remember? He and I took lessons from Mr. Kim."
"Byun Baekhyun? Oh, that boy was adorable. I'm glad you're making new friends, Jongin."
"He's not new, Ma," I sighed, running my hand through my wind-ruffled hair. I noted the fact that it was beginning to get cold. "I've known him for more than half of my life."
"That's nice, dear," she replied hastily. "Anyway, there's a boy here at the house. He says he went to Incheon Academy with you."
The only person I could possibly think of that would come all the way to Seoul was Kyungsoo, to beat me up. Luhan would never come on his own. His overprotective, Chinese parents would probably murder or disown him.
"He brought these two important-looking people in suits with him. They say they're from...um...SM Entertainment?"
My heart seemed to stop, my breath getting caught in my throat. What were SM officials doing at my house? I wasn't possibly about to get automatically recruited...right? My hopes shot straight up against my better judgment.
"Wait, who's the guy that says he went to Incheon with me?"
"Um...here I'll let you talk with him. His Korean is confusing. I think he might be foreign."
"Okay, give him the phone."
As faint voices and muffled thumps filled the speaker of the phone, I turned and headed back toward the table, where Baekhyun and Mr. Kim were waiting with expectant expressions. I shook my head slightly as I sat back down, leaning back in my chair, my heart thumping rapidly.
"Jong?" Luhan's familiar voice met my ear. Hearing his soft, hesitant tone made me smile, though frustration bubbled up within me. He doesn't call me back when I call, yet decides to go to my house when I'm not even there and interrupt my nostalgic reunion with my old best friend. I kicked the ground angrily, the rough concrete scuffing the bottom of my shoe.
"Why the are you at my house?" are the first words that leave my mouth. I ignored the puzzled looks of my companions and bent over the top of the table, picking at the peeling wood of its underside.
"I...I needed to talk to you in person. That's why I didn't answer any of your calls. I didn't think I'd be able to keep myself from telling you..."
"Telling me what?" My voice was hard, almost accusatory.
"That...that I can't do the audition with you anymore."
"What are you talking about?" I laughed humorlessly. "Of course you can."
His response sounded tearful, as though he were on the verge of crying.
"Well, after you left, some of my friends from China came to visit me. I had no idea they were coming. They just...showed up. It's been a while, so I was really excited. I-I took them out to that mall where we always hang-I mean, where we used to hang out. Some guys stopped me when we were shopping and...said they were from SM."
"And...they told me they were scouts for SM Entertainment. I don't really remember all the details. It all seems like a huge blur. They asked me if I was interested in the Korean entertainment industry, and I told them that I was planning on auditioning for the company. They made me sing for them...and then...they offered me a contract."
The feeling that took root in my gut was complicated. It was a mixture of sadness, excitement, humiliation, and jealousy. First Sehun, now Luhan. It seemed as though everyone was getting a free ride to their dreams except for me.
"Did you sign it?" I already knew what his answer was going to be before he replied.
finally, a new chapter update!!
sorry i haven't added a new one lately
schools been a massive thorn in my side...
not to mention violin and /cough/tumblr/cough/
the number of distractions in my life is unhealthy
someone save me!! /dies/ lol well i hope you
all liked this!! i mentioned this before, but im trying
to make this as realistic as possible, and as some
of you already know, Luhan was scouted by SM when
he was shopping with friends in Korea....so that's
where this came from. thank you to my new subbers!
comment, as always!! MWAH <333