King and Queen, Episode 5


King & Queen is a Kpop fan fiction drama that is released in an episodic format exclusively at Critical Kpop. Enjoy and keep tuning in for the continuing story! Catch up on previous episodes here!


Taeyeon is crying again.

Detective Gary hands her a kleenex and she refuses, letting the tears fall. She seems accustomed to tears, Hyori thinks, though she herself hasn’t cried in years. Did she cry when JYP was bleeding in her arms? She can’t remember anymore.

They are in an empty classroom and Gary has made himself home already. He’s a drowsy looking young man wearing a long yellow trench coat and a fedora, as if he were playing detective for Halloween or a new tv show. He’s sitting on a desk, his right foot tapping against a chair, bored, sleepy even. Does he even care that he made her future valedictorian cry?

Hyori stands against the classroom door, a first and last defense against nosey students, which doesn’t matter anyway since the school is in lockdown. She feels like both have forgotten she is here, so she says, “You don’t have to answer anything that you don’t want to.” Taeyeon looks up, startled at Hyori’s interjection.

“We’re just talking,” Gary says, giving a boyish smirk that probably charmed dozens of girls in his high school days.

“You made her cry.”

“I was just asking if there were any problems with her friends.”

“I don’t see how this is relevant.”

“Just being friendly.”

“It’s okay,” Taeyeon says, composing herself. “It’s just been a tough year.”

Gary chomps on a stick of bubblegum and quickly blows a bubble, which makes Hyori groan. Didn’t she ask the department for the very best? And they send her this kid?

“We’ve had a falling out,” Taeyeon tells him. “With Jessica.”

“Oh?” he pops the bubble with his pencil and begins writing. “So you’d call her an outcast?”

“An outcast? Jessica?” Taeyeon laughs. “She might be more popular now.”

“Who would you say are the outcasts then? Of the school?”

Hyori can’t take it anymore. “JYP has been shot,” she screams. “And you want to know who’s popular and who’s not?” JYP, rushed to the emergency room. Was he even alive anymore? What was she even doing here?

“Could you just tell me, Taeyeon?” Gary asks, blowing another infuriating bubble.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Taeyeon says.

“You don’t know?”

“Is that weird?”

Gary offers her a stick of bubble gum, and when Taeyeon refuses, he says, “Are you sure?”

Kpop High is under lockdown. No one in, no one out. And they were wasting their time on this.

“She doesn’t want bubblegum,” Hyori says, feeling the need, once again, to defend her.

“What about you, Principal Hyori?”

“Do I want bubblegum?”

“No, do you know who the outcasts are?”

“Are you serious?”

“Don’t I look serious?” Gary says, tipping his fedora back, revealing his sleepy eyes, his bubblegum chomping mouth. “Can you answer the question?”

“I don’t know,” Hyori says, despite herself. How much does she really know about her students? Their cliques and their circles? Was it wrong that she was so out of the loop? Or was it necessary to establish her authority?

“Of course you don’t. You know who would know? The future valedictorian of Kpop High is who.” He flicks Taeyeon’s chin affectionately. “I’m sure you know all about the cliques at this school. This is your life.”

Taeyeon shakes her head. “It’s not like that though. Sometimes it’s cool to be the outcast.”

“How about this, then. Who doesn’t fit in?”

“This feels mean.”

“You’re helping a murder investigation.”

“Attempted,” Hyori adds.

“Yes, sorry. Attempted. And theft.”

“Theft?” Taeyeon asks.

“The winners' envelope. It’s gone, Taeyeon. Who knows who the King and Queen are now?”

Taeyeon suddenly perks with interest.

“Maybe you would have gotten queen this year. That’s what I hear,” Gary says.

What’s his game here?

“Well, there are a few out there. That are...awkward.” Gary nods, begins writing. “There’s IU. She’s popular, but...she’s different. She’s pretentious. Some say. Thinks she’s above it all.”

“Of course.”

“And there’s Rap Monster.”

Gary barely suppresses a laugh. “Rap Monster?”

“He’s a freshman. Thinks he can change the world.”

“One rap at a time?”

“Something like that.”

“Who else?”

“Ailee. She’s...been through some things. A scandal. I’d rather not say. She’s kind of bad news. Is what I hear. I saw Rap Monster with her.”

“At the time of the shooting?”

“No, I didn’t see him then. He’s always easy to miss, you know?”

Hyori didn’t like where this was going. She wanted to be out there finding the son of a bitch that shot JYP. Not throwing names in the dark. As if reading her mind, Gary said, “Thanks, Taeyeon. You can go back to your friends now.”

“I’ll take her,” Hyori says. She helps Taeyeon up, who’s just as confused as she is. Are they any closer to finding the shooter? Or are they being led by a fool? She leads Taeyeon away. Before she shuts the door she hears Gary’s bubble pop.

***

The lights are flickering on and off like a bad horror film. Ailee instinctively wraps her arms around her chest, as if she could shield herself from this. Across from her, a young girl is doing the same, her eyes dead, mouth open in terror. When the screams reach a fever pitch, a hand grabs Ailee’s shoulder, forcing her to turn.

“Have you seen Soohyun?”

“What?” Ailee is too scattered to even respond.

But the boy she knows as Chanhyuk is already moving on. He is yelling at the top of his lungs to be let out, pulling at Vice Principal An’s sweater with tears in his eyes. The lights stop flickering when Tony An grabs hold of Chanhyuk’s shoulders with both hands. Vice Principal An is yelling too, but it feels like forever before his voice can be heard, understood, obeyed. He is telling them to calm down.

And like good pupils they freeze, motionless and expectant. For whole minutes, they stand in silence, but when no further instruction is given, conversation starts in nervous titters.

Ailee takes stock. She is unhurt. She is alone, and confused, but unhurt. Was JYP really just shot on stage? As her thoughts turn outward, she begins to process her surroundings. She searches for the girl who was screaming from before, but cannot find her. This is a lockdown, Ailee understands, and for better or worse she is holed up in Choreography A.

On the other side of the room are several members of BTS. Ailee counts them dutifully, six, but Rap Monster is not among them. She moves closer, close enough to hear them express her own thoughts. Where is Rap Monster?

“Jungkook, are you texting him?” she hears V ask.

“Doubt it, he’s probably texting Hyoseung.”

“What?”

“Rap Monster never carries his phone.”

“Are you sure?”

Ailee feels for her own phone, snug in her clutch bag. She thinks of taking it out, then thinks better. Who would she text?

At the door, Vice Principal An is not budging. Chanhyuk finally gives up and turns to the room. “Does anyone know where my sister is? Has anyone seen Soohyun?”

The room goes quiet, all of them watching Chanhyuk’s singular destruction, until finally, Jonghyun takes a step toward him.

“Soohyun?” he says. “She’s okay. She’s in room 104 with my mates.”

Chanhyuk collapses to his knees, and the conversations start up around the room once more. Ailee and Jonghyun’s eyes meet for a brief moment, the two of them together in their aloneness. The rest of SHINee must be in room 104. Jonghyun smiles, then turns back to his phone.

Everyone is glued to their phones, their thumbs texting like crazy. And the locations of various students start spreading like rumors.

All of SNSD is in room 220.

Bora is right here, but the rest of Sistar is in Choreography B.

Exo is reported to be in 119, and HyunA is in 104 with Taeyang.

Vixx is in the Fitness Center with most of Miss A and all of Girl’s Day.

Determining the physical location of every student in Kpop High becomes a collective effort, and they band together to find those that are missing. Taeyeon, supposedly, is not with Girls’ Generation in 220. Hanni was missing but has since been found, again thanks to Jonghyun. BTS continues to look for Rap Monster. No news yet on IU.

Just then, Jongkook holds up his phone in childish triumph, and all of BTS stand at attention.

“It’s okay! I found her!” Jongkook yells. “Hyoseung is in room 119, talking with Raina.”

The rest of BTS groans.

In a corner of the room, Ailee notices Suzy and Jiyeon whispering together.

Where is IU? Her brows furrow. Which must be why Jonghyun calls to her. They’ve never spoken before.

“Who has you worried, Ailee?”

She looks around, but no one else has noticed this exchange. Everyone else is busy with their own troubles, their own worries. But how can she ask?

“Me? I’m okay,” she assures Jonghyun, before pointing to BTS. “I think that they are still looking for Rap Monster, though.”

Jonghyun looks at her for what feels like a long time before furiously tapping at his phone. Message after message is sent, and Ailee watches him work, electronically navigating the cliques of Kpop High with such ease. It is less than fifteen seconds before he looks up, clearly successful. But he says nothing to her. Instead, Jonghyun walks over to BTS, and in a loud voice, loud enough for the room to hear, he tells them.

“Rap Monster is fine. He’s in room 104.”

When it is safe, Ailee mouths him a silent thank you. But Jonghyun looks at his phone once more, then speaks to the room. “And Taeyeon, apparently, has been brought back to room 220 by Principal Hyori.”

***

Does anyone have any idea what the hell is going on?

A quick scan of room 220 convinces Amber that the entirety of Kpop High has gone crazy. Taeyeon was just returned after having been questioned by the police, but no one has asked a single question about JYP. Is he okay? Is he alive? Do the police have any suspects? Nothing.

Instead, there is only one topic on everyone’s lips. The envelope.

“I’m texting Victoria and Luna. Can you text Sulli?”

“What?”

Krystal looks at her like she’s dense. “You’re the only one Sulli is talking to right now.”

“Text her what?” Amber is certain she has missed something.

“That the envelope is missing, duh!”

Amber takes out her phone, but can’t bring herself to do it. She can’t see the point. So the envelope is missing. It probably got lost in the chaos. And even if someone took it, who cares?

Her thumbs type a short message to Sulli: Hey, are you okay?

While she waits for a response, Amber watches the group surrounding Taeyeon, asking her to repeat again and again what she heard about the missing envelope that held the names of the King and Queen of Kpop High. The members of SNSD have formed a tight circle, and around them are most of Block B and U-Kiss, and Secret, and even the Crayon Pop twins. Somewhere in that mess of bodies is Jessica, probably enjoying the anonymity. Even Jay Park, guarding the door like a bouncer, seems focused on Taeyeon’s revelation. But still, Amber cannot see why it matters.

“I bet Taeyeon won King,” Krystal says.

Amber is saved from having to respond by a buzzing of her phone. It’s Sulli.

Okay? Are any of us okay?

***

Gary is thinking. Chewing bubblegum helps with that, tapping his foot does too. He’s doing both in the classroom, at a desk, reading over his notes. He knows the bubblegum is unorthodox and that it doesn’t help that it accompanies his boyish good looks, but it soothes him, the deliberate chewing. It simplifies the situation to have a singular task in which his body can focus on. His mind on the other hand? It’s thinking.

It’s thinking that it’s strange that IU is unaccounted for. That dames have a thing for murder. But is IU a killer? He’s heard about the girl. How could the possible Queen also be a killer? Regardless if she wants it or not. It just doesn’t add up. This Ailee kid. What’s her story? And how is this Rap Monster connected to her?

An outcast. Loner. Finds the girl of his dreams. Does she love him back? And if she doesn’t? What would that do to a young man with no friends in all the world? How would he lash out at the school that rejected him?

Gary looks at his notepad. He sees a myriad of names. Possible witnesses. Suspects. He’s learned to smell guilt a mile away, but in Kpop High that stench was overpowering. Worse, it was rotten.

He sees Rap Monster’s name on his notepad. He underlines it and circles it, twice.



To Be Continued...


-C

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