King and Queen, Episode 6


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!


Jr. knows he should not feel this way. One of the teachers at Kpop High, beloved by every student, has been shot. He should be screaming, he should be crying, he should be afraid for his safety.

Instead, he is in heaven.

Soohyun has been holding him tight for three minutes and forty-two seconds. He knows because he counted. Her face is pressed tight against his chest, and he prays that this moment, this one among all others, will never end.

But end it must.

When Soohyun raises her head, there are tears in her eyes. Jr. wishes he could wipe them away, always. To be her protector, to keep the bad away. He looks deep into her eyes, those big brown eyes, and sees her love. Then Soohyun asks if her brother is okay.

“Chanhyuk?” The spell is broken.

“You don’t think anything has happened to him, do you?” she says, tears already filling her eyes again.

Jr. takes a small step back. He rubs his hands lightly on Soohyun’s shoulders. A motion devoid of intimacy. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

“We need to find him.”

“How would we find him, Soohyun, we’re in lockdown.” Jr. motions to Gain, one of the vocal instructors at Kpop High, standing sentry at the door of her classroom, room 104.

“He could be with the killer!”

“Okay,” he says. “Okay, I’ll find him.”

Jr. misses his three minutes and forty-two seconds.

He takes stock of the room. He sees Nana and Lizzy. They’re talking with Hanni from EXID. Most of SHINee is here, but he can’t think which one is missing. He sees Eun-ji and Na-eun of A-Pink, Ravi of Vixx, and Rap Monster of BTS. HyunA and Taeyang are on their phones, texting. So is Yenni, or HA:TFELT, now that the rest of Wonder Girls have graduated. And that’s it.

How the hell is he going to find Chanhyuk?

Texting. Of course.

Jr. pulls out his phone and opens a new text message before realizing he doesn’t have Chanhyuk’s number. Why would he? And he doubts Soohyun would have her phone with her, she’s always bothering him to put his phone away and "interact with the world." Her words.

He fires off a quick text to his boys in GOT7, and the replies come almost immediately.

"Chanhyuk? Who’s that?"

"I’m stuck in lockdown with JB’s hair."

"We’re in Choreography B with Sistar, AOA, T-ara. Maybe you’ve heard of them."

"Where are you?"

"Is that Soohyun’s brother or something?"

Typical. Maybe Soohyun is right. Jr. takes a step closer to the others in room 104, close enough to hear their quiet conversations. They’re talking about other rooms, where students are, in other rooms!

SHINee seem to be the hub of this activity, so Jr. takes another tentative step forward. SNSD is in 220 and Exo in 119. Infinite is in the Fitness Center with fitness instructor Kim Jong-kook, along with Girl’s Day and Hello Venus. There’s more, countless names that Jr. can’t even begin to follow. He only cares about one.

“Hey, can you help me find someone?” he says to Onew. Or is it Minho?

“Who are you looking for?” Whoever it is, he says it without looking up from his phone.

“Chanhyuk.” Jr. says it clearly, with confidence.

“Who?”

“Chanhyuk? He’s in Akdong Musician?”

“Oh, right, Soohyun’s brother.”

“Right.”

“Just a sec.”

Jr. isn’t sure how he feels, but he knows that Soohyun will not calm down until her brother is found.

He waits. He thinks of counting the seconds again, but it only reminds him. Three minutes and forty-two seconds. The length of a song. A song about love. Maybe he has something here.

Before he can begin sounding out the lyrics, Jr. is distracted by a raised voice. At the door, Rap Monster is causing a scene. He’s begging Gain to let him out of the room.

Let him go? Go where?

Gain refuses, but Rap Monster keeps up. He’s almost yelling now, and at an instructor!

“Hey, do you know who Rap Monster is?” Onew or Minho is asking Jr. directly.

“Rap Monster?” Jr. looks back to the scene at the door. “Yeah. He’s right over there.” Jr. points him out. “BTS.”

Four members of SHINee dutifully pound their fingers on the tiny electronic keyboards of their phones. Even while texting, their coordination is flawless. They move so fast, so precise, it’s hard to believe it’s possible.

Rap Monster is yelling something about having information. He wants to speak to the police.

“You’re looking for Chanhyuk?”

“What?” Jr. spins around like a cartoon character. “Yeah. Did you find him?”

“He’s in Choreography A.”

“Thanks.”

Just as Jr. says it, the door to room 104 opens. It’s the police. They’re asking for Rap Monster.

***

She’s always hated hospitals, she realizes, just as much as she hates tears. Is it the weakness or the vulnerability that she finds so deplorable? Lee Hyori doesn’t pretend to understand her own own psychology, because she certainly doesn’t understand anyone else’s. Like Detective Gary. She found him idiotic, a simpleton. But underneath that bubblegum there lay something...more. That’s why she could leave Kpop High under his care (along with Vice Principal Tony An, of course), and visit JYP at Seoul National University Hospital.

In a coma after intensive surgery, JYP looks as if he is merely sleeping, even with the wires that crisscross and run through his body. Even like this, he looks dignified. True, he is now in stable condition, though he is stubbornly staying in dreams. The room is bright white and nurses periodically peek in to make sure the great JYP stays in that vague stable condition. Hyori stands, pacing back and forth, anxious in JYP’s calm. Some things never change.

“Who would do this to you?” she asks, noticing her own accusatory tone. Because, of course, it had to be his fault somehow.

But who would shoot JYP? That’s what has bothered her from the moment JYP fell. Who would hate JYP so much as to shoot him in front of the entire student body? Who would risk absolutely everything to exact their revenge?

“Who would want you dead?” she asks, and JYP, with his oxygen mask and everything, he looks like he’s smiling. I won’t tell.

What student would have the nerve to try to shoot JYP? And then it hits her. What if it wasn’t a student that fired that shot?

What was it that Jay Park said to JYP on his way to the stage? Something about crosshairs?

“Son of a bitch,” Hyori says, running out of the hospital, bumping into nurses and patients, hoping against hope that for once she’s not too late.

***

What concerns Gary the most at Kpop High are the facts. Or rather, the lack of. From what he’s gathered, he can’t even confirm if there was one shot or two. One bullet obviously was lodged in JYP’s stomach, but if there were two shots, how come no one from his team can find that magic bullet? Cameras caught nothing except JYP going down and the subsequent chaos. And the school, a school like Kpop High where image is key, has cameras everywhere. It’s as if the killer materialized from thin air, with their magic bullet, and disappeared, with the winners' envelope, just as quickly. Faster than the speed of a camera. More clever than forever.

But facts? There were no facts where facts would obviously hide. So Gary has to go on hunches. His hunch sits right in front of him in room 131, the classroom Gary had deputized, and this time the hunch’s name is Rap Monster. His knuckles are scratched as if he had recently fought a wall and lost. His face is grave and expecting. Expecting a question? Sorry, kid. That’s not how Gary operates.

Instead, Gary blows a bubble and lets the gum pop in his face. He lets his leg kick against his desk in a constant tap tap tap. Less, he found, often happened to be more. Hundreds of cases now, from his infamous takedown of Star Empire to making Dahee spill her blackmailing scheme with only a wink and a shrug. They all fell with enough patience. Everything is ground to dust eventually.

This is how Gary works and how Gary works tells him that Rap Monster, the kid who can never quite fit in, who is chasing some dame, who has bloody knuckles, has something to do with this crime. No facts, just a hunch that ate at him the moment he set foot into Kpop High. Even before he spoke to his first witness, even before Principal Hyori opened her mouth. That hunch: Someone who believes in Kpop would never do this.

Follow your hunches, that’s what he’s always said. Rap Monster is that hunch personified, and Gary has all the time in the world to watch him crumble.

***

It’s been minutes since Rap Monster was brought to room 131 and sat in front of some smug detective who may or may not be completely mute, better yet, blind, deaf, and dumb because he hasn’t said a single word in all this time, hasn’t even looked up and acknowledged his presence, and if this is some special interrogation tactic, Rap Monster isn’t buying it, he’s having none of it, he has nothing to hide, so he might as well say it, say what he does have.

“I only have one thing to say.” Rap Monster looks his interrogator in the eye. “Zico has a gun. I saw it.” Then he sits back in the wooden chair, designed to keep students uncomfortable and awake. And he waits.

And waits.

“Did you hear me? I said Zico has a gun.”

“You are Kim Nam-joon, stage name--” The interrogator pauses. “Rap Monster?”

“Yes. You called me here.”

“You are a Freshman at Kpop High and member of the group, BTS?”

“Yes. Look, Zico has a gun. Zico, of Block B, has a gun, and just now JYP was shot.”

“Mr. Kim, my name is Detective Gary. I’m the lead investigator in this case.”

“Whatever, I don’t care. Zico has a gun!”

“You may address me as Detective Gary.”

“What? Are you serious? Look, all I have to say is that I saw Zico with a gun. He threatened me with it in the men’s bathroom, not thirty minutes before JYP was shot.”

“Mr. Kim, would you say that you are an outgoing person?”

Rap Monster freezes. He can hear the seconds tick by on the clock on the wall.

“What?”

“Would you say that you are an outgoing person? Do you have a lot of close friends at Kpop High?”

“I mean, I guess I’m close with BTS.”

His interrogator clears his throat.

“What? Oh, sorry. Detective Gary.

“Mr. Kim, how many members are there in BTS?”

“Seven. Detective Gary.”

“And how many students are in Kpop High?”

“What? I don’t know, Detective--”

“There are 485 students in Kpop High.”

“Oh.”

“Mr. Kim, would you say that you are a loner?”

“What?”

“A loner. An outcast.”

Rap Monster doesn’t understand what is happening. Why aren’t they talking about Zico? Zico, who has a gun, a gun that may have been used to shoot JYP.

“I don’t--”

“Detective Gary.”

Rap Monster starts again. “Detective Gary, I don’t understand what this has to do with Zico.”

Rap Monster watches the detective scribble something on a notepad.

“What are you writing?”

“Do you have a girlfriend, Mr. Kim?”

“A girlfriend?” Rap Monster nearly smiles in spite of himself. “No.”

“Would you classify yourself, Mr. Kim, as an idol?”

“No, Detective Gary.”

“And why is that, Mr. Kim?”

“Why?”

“Yes. Why.” His interrogator drops the notepad to the desk with a slap. “You are a member of an idol group, BTS, at a high school specially designed to produce idols, Kpop High. And yet. You are not an idol, Mr. Kim?”

“Well, it’s complicated.”

“Thank you, Mr. Kim, you have been most helpful.”

Detective Gary stands and Rap Monster follows suit.

“What? We’re done? Did you even hear what I said about Zico?”

“One of my officers will return you to room 104.”

And then Rap Monster sees his chance. He speaks without thinking.

“Detective Gary. Can you return me to Choreography A, instead.”

His interrogator looks at him, scrutinizing him without so much as a change in his expression.

“The rest of BTS is there, Detective Gary.” Rap Monster says nothing of Ailee. He doesn’t trust the man in front of him.

“Choreography A? Sure,” Gary says. “Sure.”

***

“So, Choreography A,” says a police officer as Rap Monster waits in the hallway. What was the officer’s name again? Gary has worked with him for years and all he gets is a blank. How come he never learns the names of those working below him? What would his mother say to him now?

“Do you want me to take him there? And then get Zico?” the officer asks.

Gary nods, but feels uneasy. It’s that hunch again. That hunch is telling him that nabbing Zico won’t do anything to get those facts that he needs. His hunch is telling him that Rap Monster and Zico might have more to do with each other than it seems. Maybe there is a better way?

Ha. Of course. He stops Officer What’s-his-name. “Hold on,” he says. “Send Rap Monster to 220. Zico’s room.”

“I’m sorry?”

Weren’t they all sorry? Sorry for being wrong, sorry for being right, sorry for being murderers and blackmailers and police officers with forgettable names. Sorry for being sneaky and for being boyish and for being just so damn good at his job.

“Keep them both in 220,” Gary says. “Observe them. Notify me of their activities. Don’t interfere. Do you hear me? I want to see fireworks.”


To Be Continued...


-C

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