King and Queen, Episode 9


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!


The problem with Kpop High, at least one of them, was that everyone had a story. Or at least they thought they did. Or worse, pretended they did. Gary knows the score. If he were a student, maybe he’d be making up rumors to get out of lockdown too. But what worries him the most is how skilled these students are at being liars. They’ll make wonderful idols.

He had just finished talking with Hyoseong, who offered very little in terms of relevant information.

“He was shot,” she told him. He looked down at her as he paced the classroom, tipping his fedora back, annoyed from the start. She looked like a smart girl - not even a girl, a woman. What was she doing there, wasting his time?

“And?” he had said to her.

“In the back,” she said. She smiled in that way that probably helped her squeeze through many of life’s difficulties. She was a femme fatale in training. Her dress was cut low to showcase the full range of her voluptuousness. She was trouble.

“And?” Gary said. He chomped his bubble gum, blew a bubble. Waited.

“And I thought you should know,” she said. “Can I go back now?”

Gary shook his head. “Get out of here,” he said, sharply.

She kept smiling. She’d make a wonderful idol.

When he interviewed Taeyang, he got much of the same: nothing. Except Taeyang’s nothing was a concentrated nothing.

“So you wanted to talk about JYP?” Gary had asked incredulously.

“He’s cool. You know? Just a chill guy.”

“Like you?” Gary looked at him. If there was anyone that could judge someone as chill, it was this guy. He was wearing a tank top but you could tell he wanted to be shirtless, just staring at himself in the mirror for hours.

“Yeah. You know.”

“You can go, Taeyang.”

“What about HyunA? She’s next, right? We’re gonna go back together.”

“Just go.”

“One question,” he asked, flatly.

“What?” Gary said and sighed at the same time.

“The winning envelope? Do you really have it?”

Gary chuckled. “Peace out, Taeyang.”

And now here’s HyunA, and she’s not saying a word, just smiling, devilishly. She makes Gary nervous. Maybe that’s her appeal.

“Can I help you?” he asks after a minute.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” she tells him. “Do you have any extra bubblegum?”

Gary tosses her a stick. “You’re not going to lie to me. You told the police that you had some important information. If you don’t, that makes you a liar, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, I do have information. On the students.” She unwraps the bubblegum, throws it in her mouth, and swallows it whole. “They’re all liars.”

“That’s what you came to tell me.”

“Yes.”

“You don’t think I know that?”

“I think you know that. But I think you’re missing the point,” HyunA says, holding out her hand for another stick, as if it’s collateral.

“Enlighten me.”

“Most of these students are lying to get switched to other classrooms. They’ve found a flaw in the system.”

“I can see that now.”

“But you have to wonder. What about the liars that aren’t switching classrooms? What are they lying for?”

“You mean like you?”

“I don’t lie,” she says. And then she swallows another stick.

There’s a knock on the door. Officer What’s-his-name interrupts right when it’s getting interesting. “I interviewed those EXO kids. They say they have some important information just for you.”

Gary looks at HyunA, who winks. “Liars,” she says.

***

Rap Monster stares at the sheen of the wood floor in Choreography A. “I’m sorry,” he says. He rubs a dark spot with the rubber sole of his shoe.

Cautiously, he raises his head, but Ailee is not even looking at him. What more does she want from him? He tries again.

“I shouldn’t have said those things.” He pauses, long enough for her to say something, to forgive him, but she does neither. “I shouldn’t have accused Zico.” Still nothing. “I shouldn’t--”

“It’s fine.”

“I’m sorry,” he says again. But he can’t leave it at that. He can’t leave her until he has made amends. What was it his dad used to say? Never part on bad terms? Maybe if his father had followed his own advice, things would have turned out different. “What can I do to make it up to you?”

“Nothing.” Ailee keeps her arms crossed, but she doesn’t sound as upset.

“Seriously, I want to do something.”

Ailee looks him straight in the eyes. “I don’t need anything from you. I just need to get out of here.”

“Out of this room?”

“Look, just forget about it.”

Rap Monster looks around Choreography A, evaluating possible escape routes. The problem, of course, is Vice Principal Tony An.

“What you need is a distraction,” he says.

“No, I’m fine. Please don’t worry about me.”

“No, I mean, I’ll create a diversion, and you can sneak out.”

“I don’t think--”

“I got this.”

Rap Monster puts his hands in his pockets and nonchalantly moves to the back of the room, where a window looks out on the courtyard. No time like the present. Rap Monster unlatches the lock and pulls the window up. With one foot on the ledge, he can hear Tony An’s voice booming behind him, but he doesn’t have time to look. He can only hope Ailee is moving as fast in the opposite direction. He might actually escape himself. Half his body is out the window when a firm hand grabs the scruff of his neck, pulling him violently back into the room. Tony An.

“Nobody move. Chanhyuk, get away from that door.” Every student in the room freezes. “Where the hell do you think you were you going, young man?”

Rap Monster winces and tries to shrug the hand from his neck, but it only grips him harder. Tony An walks him back to the door, and resumes his sentry position. “You’re staying right here with me from now on.”

Ailee had not budged from her spot.

***

The rumors came to room 104 carried on the ethereal wings of the cellular network. Detective Gary had the winners’ envelope. The winners’ envelope had been stolen. JYP was dead. JYP had been wearing a bulletproof vest. JYP had lost a limb to amputation, but no one was sure which. The lockdown was lifting. Principal Hyori was the main suspect, after Rap Monster. None of the rumors had a shred of evidence to their credit, but the students in room 104 traded them anyways.

“The police are questioning Hyoseong,” Nana announces to the room, her eyes glued to her phone.

“She was in room 119,” Lizzy confirms, “With Raina.”

Nana pipes in again. “Raina says Hyoseong volunteered information.”

“Wait.” This from Lizzy again. “Raina says Hyoseong told her she didn’t know anything, that she was in the bathroom when it happened.”

Jr.’s own phone buzzes, and he looks down to see a ridiculous rumor from his buddies. He chortles and shakes his head.

“What is it?” Soohyun asks. “Did you hear from “Chanhyuk yet?”

“What? No. Your brother is fine.” Soohyun looks at him with her big brown eyes. Can’t she live for three seconds without her brother? He’d be damned if this wasn’t the longest time they’d ever spent alone, and by alone he meant without the fraternal twin following them around. Trapped in a room with twenty other people made no nevermind to him. He felt free without Chanhyuk there. “Some of the guys in Choreography B just said the police were questioning Taeyang and HyunA. See, I told you these rumors were crazy. They’re both right over there.”

“Over where?” Soohyun cranes her neck to see all around the room.

“Right over…” Damn.

Before he can say another word, Onew is asking the question that’s on his mind. “Hey, where are HyunA and Taeyang?”

Room 104 erupts into panic. How did none of them notice? Were they all so busy with their phones that they hadn’t seen two of their own walk out? And wasn’t Gain guarding the door? Twenty heads turn toward their instructor.

Gain’s arms are crossed. She looks nervous.

“Professor?”

Before Gain can respond, Eun-ji waves her arm, too excited to speak. “You guys, the rest of A-Pink just left the Fitness Center.”

Not to be outdone, Na-eun raises her voice. “They just walked out!”

Gain shakes her head. “No,” she says, but it’s hardly convincing. “HyunA and Taeyang had information about the…shooting.”

But the students are not listening anymore. They are texting their friends in a flurry, sharing half-completed sentences that make no sense.

“Now it’s Exo.”

“I heard U-Kiss. No wait.”

“Raina says Exo. All of them.”

“Room 220 is gone,” Minho reports.

“Choreography B says they’re leaving,” this from Key.

Seconds later, the four members of Shinee are surrounding Gain and speaking in low voices.

Soohyun tugs at his sleeve. “Jr., I want to leave.”

Jr. doesn’t know what to say. Of all the rumors that are circulating, this new information worries him most of all. Wasn’t there still a murderer on the loose? Or attempted murderer? Why would they want to leave? Leave and go where?

But things are happening beyond his control.

Gain is nodding now, agreeing with Shinee, and when she raises her voice it is to tell them all to go straight to their rooms in the dormitory and lock themselves in.

Onew opens the door to the hallway, and Gain exits first without a backward glance, moving fast. The rest of Shinee form a line on either side of the door, directing the students out of room 104 and into a dangerous unknown.

“Let’s go,” Soohyun says, leading the way. Jr. asks where, though he already knows the answer. To find Chanhyuk, of course.

***

“I need your help,” Ailee says, and she’s not sure if she’s doing the right thing. But what choice does she have? She needs to find IU at The Dungeon and figure this shooting out. She needs to look at her straight in the eyes and ask her if she did it. IU was trying to tell her something at the prom and she wasn’t listening. Could this all have been prevented? Is this something else she has to feel guilty over?

Jonghyun smiles. “Anything,” he says. Jonghyun, the fixer. But can he fix this?

“I need to get out of here,” she tells him.

“Don’t we all?”

“I mean. Now. And I can’t tell you why.” Jonghyun evaluates her. What is he considering? What does he see in her that will convince him to help or not? Ailee wonders what IU could have done to make her listen. Were there any words one could really employ to truly convince someone of something? Or was it all biological? Beyond one’s control? A zap of brain synapses at just the right moment. A flutter of eyelashes that reminds someone of their mother. The smell of lavender. Those pesky pheromones. Whatever it is, it makes Jonghyun say yes, makes him say yes by winking at Ailee, and then he goes to his phone, texting away.

“I have my best men working on this,” he tells her. Ailee smiles. Jonghyun. The fixer. Problemsolver. She catches eyes on her. Suzy and Jiyeon are whispering to each other, looking her way. Rap Monster is with Tony An at the head of the class. He might as well be manacled to him. He looks like a lost puppy. Had she been too hard on him? He meant well. He always means well. Even Chanhyuk is looking her way, though he could just be staring into the deep reaches of space. He’s a strange one.

Then: the door opens. The plan comes into fruition. Gain, followed by the rest of Shinee, single file behind her. Gain walks straight to Tony An.

He asks, “Can I help you?”

“I need to talk to you. It’s urgent.”

“We can talk here.”

“It’s about Jay Park. And Principal Hyori.” The look on her face. Like she’s discovered something she can never turn away from. It would convince anyone to leave with her. Even the unflappable Vice Principal Tony An.

“Okay. Let’s go next door.” He looks around the classroom. “Jonghyun,” he says. “Please watch over the class for five minutes. Can I trust you?”

“Always,” he smiles.

Tony An follows Gain out the door, Shinee trailing behind. Onew winks at Jonghyun as they leave.

As the door shuts, Jonghyun turns to Ailee. “Ready?”

“You did that?”

“Just told my boys to spread a rumor about Hyori and Jay Park being suspects.”

“You’re going to get into some trouble when Tony An gets back and I’m not here.”

“I’ll just tell him that I couldn’t stop you. Which is true.”

Jiyeon, who’s been hovering around them speaks up. “I’m going to tell him that you let her leave.”

Not missing a beat, Jonghyun says, “But then you’d have to stay, wouldn’t you?”

This idea suddenly thrills her. She goes to Suzy and they make an escape like desperate fugitives. Were they going to The Dungeon? Wherever that was?

“Thanks,” Ailee tells him. “I owe you one.”

“Yes, you do,” he says, and she’s not sure if he’s flirting with her or it that’s Jonghyun being Jonghyun.

She makes her way to the door, but Rap Monster is there already, waiting. “Where are you going?” he asks.

“Are you going to stop me from leaving?”

“No,” he says. “I want to help.”

“I don’t need help, Rap Monster. You’ve gotten into enough trouble.”

“Where are you going?” he asks again. “Can you just tell me that?”

“I have to find The Dungeon,” she responds, walking past him, opening the door, deciding then that she wouldn’t look back at him, that she wouldn’t get him more mixed up in this than he’s already gotten.

“Do you know how to get there?” he asks. Don’t look back, Ailee tells herself. Don’t let the pheromones or the synapses zap against each other. Don’t look at his caring eyes, smell his musky cologne. Don’t trust him. Meaning well means nothing. Don’t love him because love is dangerous. Rise against biology.

But then he says what will forever tether his life to hers, “I know where the Dungeon is.”




To Be Continued...



-C

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