King and Queen, Episode 13


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!


***

“Nobody is here?”

“Where Nobody sees you.”

Rap Monster can’t believe what he’s seeing onstage. Is he dreaming? Did he fall asleep somewhere in their waiting? Somehow he doubts it. Even his deepest subconscious couldn’t come up with this mess. IU whispers, “Shhhhh,” as if she expects them to scream. But this is too bizarre to be frightening. He can barely see Ailee but he holds onto her hand and doesn’t let go. As long as they stay quiet on the balcony, they should be safe.

There’s very little movement at first. The twelve hooded figures form a circle onstage, holding candles, like they’re trying to create some horrific tableau.

One member steps forward, his face hidden from view. Even though Rap Monster can’t see who it is, his stance is familiar. Give him a few minutes and he can name him in a lineup, he’s sure. As if she can read his mind, IU whispers, “I know who most of them are. Except for him.”

“Is he the leader?”

“Shhhh,” IU says, because somehow she is the only one who is allowed to speak.

The hooded figure answers for them. “As acting Grandmaster, I call to order the 47th gathering of the Order of the Nameless. Are all our members accounted for?”

“Present,” the others say in unison.

“Welcome to this historic gathering.”

Whoever these people are, they take themselves seriously. Shhh, he scolds himself. The Grandmaster’s talking.

“Blood has been spilled,” this Grandmaster says. “The rules have changed. For years we have flourished in the shadows. But now, together, we can control our destinies. In a single envelope, we hold the future in our hands. Fellow members of the Order of the Nameless, the time has come.”

Time for what? Were they about to witness some freaky sacrifice? A burning of a JYP effigy?

“Members of the Nameless, extinguish your flames.”

All extinguish their candles and remove their hoods but the Grandmaster, who sets his candle on the floor and keeps his hood over his head. Can he see them? Rap Monster tries to take a closer look and IU smacks him in the back of the head. “Stay down,” she says.

“I want to see them.” Who put her in charge anyway?

“Who’s there?” Ailee whispers. “Is that Suzy?”

“Yes,” IU answers. “She’s how I know about this.”

“She told you?” Ailee asks.

“She told me I was the winner. She saw the envelope. But no one should be a winner.”

“Is that what this is all about?”

“Shhhh,” IU whispers, as if she’s revealed too much.

Rap Monster would be annoyed right now, but he’s more interested in Bora, who is holding an envelope in the air, at the center of the circle now. “I’m ready,” she says.

He can make out some other figures. Is that 4Minute without HyunA? Hanni? Jessica and Krystal? Taeyang, looking forlorn. Wait - what the hell is Taeyang doing there?

“The forger will begin the rewriting,” says the Grandmaster. “We are rewriting history!” he exclaims. The others nod. Bora smiles, opens the envelope, crouches to the floor. She must be the forger. He never thought much of Bora before, always seeing her as a dim opportunist. Even seeing her here, he can’t imagine her involved in some devious cabal. Who else has he judged wrong? Does he know anyone, really?

That’s when Rap Monster sees him. And immediately, a part of him wants to say, “I told you so.” But what good would that do now?

“Zico,” Ailee whispers. He’s right there, one of the Nameless. Rap Monster wants to see Ailee’s face. What’s she feeling right now? Is this some type of confirmation for her? Or is this the final heartbreak?

Whatever she’s feeling, he wants to squeeze her hand, tell her it’s okay, but then IU says, “It’s Jonghyun,” and the Grandmaster is revealed, his hood removed, and the bastard is smiling. Ailee gasps. She’s the one that squeezes his hand. IU says, “I need to get that envelope. Stay here,” and she’s gone, leaving the both of them in the dark.

***

Zico clears his throat, but miscalculates its effectiveness in the near pitch-black of the stage.

“Excuse me, Grandmaster,” he says, stepping forward into the circle of eyes. Closer to the dim candlelight now, he knows they can see him. Anonymity is but a pretense.

Jonghyun looks up from the envelope, but says nothing, waiting, perhaps, for Zico to say more.

“Grandmaster,” he says, his heart pounding in his chest. “This envelope is a fake.”

He hears the murmurs rise up around him, ten voices of disbelief. He didn’t expect any different. Everything they have done, everything the Nameless has worked for, rests in Bora’s hand, and now Zico is telling them it’s all a lie.

Jonghyun calls for silence, but it is several seconds before he speaks. “Explain yourself,” he says, taking himself too seriously, like always. And not for the first time Zico wonders how he got involved in this group.

“It’s a fake envelope,” Zico says, turning to the other members. “JYP beat us to the punch. He was probably forging these things for years.”

The Acolytes, the people he knows, or thinks he knows, as friends, look away when he tries to meet their eyes. It is Jonghyun again who responds, behind him now.

“Acolyte Zico, this envelope was taken from the very clutches of JYP’s dying body.”

“Exactly,” Zico says, not able to control his frustration any further. “It was a fake to begin with.”

“Acolyte Zico, you would do well to remind yourself--”

But Jonghyun never finishes. He is interrupted by the panicked voices around him, full of fear, doubting, asking questions.

“Acolytes, please.” Jonghyun gains control for long enough to ask the question on everyone’s mind. “How do you know this envelope is a fraud?”

“Detective Gary,” Zico says, by way of answer.

“He showed you an alternate envelope?”

“No. He told me.”

“And you believe him?”

Zico takes his time before answering. He’s aware, suddenly, of the possible consequences for being wrong about this. Expulsion from the Nameless, certainly, but what else? They couldn’t afford to have him around, knowing what he does. Would they be willing to kill to hide their secret? He felt he already knew the answer to that. “I spend a lot of time lying to people,” he says. “I believe Detective Gary has the original envelope.”

“And we’re supposed to trust the word of a cop?” Jonghyun wears the same smug look on his face as the day he was voted Grandmaster, a smug look although the votes were barely in Jonghyun’s favor.

Zico hears the titters of his peers, the nervous giggles that begin turn into real laughter. It’s the beginning of the end.

Until one small voice speaks up, then repeats itself, louder. “I believe him.”

The look on Jonghyun’s face is priceless. The face of Caesar being stabbed by Brutus.

“Suzy?”

“I believe him,” she says. And with all eyes on her, Suzy steps forward, joining Zico in the center of the circle. Two voices against ten.

The noise on stage grows to a fevered pitch, arguments blending into one another in an indecipherable cacophony. Jonghyun calls for order once more, only for the nameless voices to drown him out.

“Who’s on our envelope?” a voice calls from the circle.

And suddenly, there are eleven voices calling for more light. The forgotten candles are taken up once again, and the members crowd together, jostling one another to reach the flame in the center.

“If there’s more than one envelope, we can’t forge anything,” says Bora.

“We need to control every copy, or we’re wasting our time,” Hanni agrees.

Still, Jonghyun begs for control.

“Who’s on our envelope?” they say, as one.

Jonghyun sighs, knowing he has lost the room. He holds the envelope before him and reads two names, whether in resignation or a desperate hope, Zico cannot tell. “Ailee and Taeyang,” Grandmaster Jonghyun says.

“Who me?” Taeyang says, surprised to the last.

***

Ailee isn’t sure if she heard it right. Her name. No. Why would her name be on the winner’s envelope? Even a fake one? What was JYP thinking? Too much is happening right now. She would be surprised enough that Zico was involved with this. But Jonghyun too? She trusted him. Everyone did. Jonghyun is the fixer. But what methods had he really used to get things done? And to what end? To benefit himself?

Ailee could go down there right now and smack him across the face. Zico too. It would be so easy. She squeezes Rap Monster’s hand, as hard as she can to be sure that he’s still there. She regrets dragging him along for this. She regrets trying to follow IU as if they could do anything to help her. Now they’re involved with something beyond their understanding. Way out of their element.

Now what? Do they just wait for this ceremony to end? And where’s IU?

Jonghyun tells the others to be quiet. “We can control this,” he says. Has he been controlling this from the start? Did he shoot JYP? Or did he get one of his lackeys to get it done? Someone like Zico? Maybe Rap Monster was right after all.

She looks like an apparition at first - falling between light and darkness, running and then skidding on the stage. Then Ailee realizes who it is. “IU,” she says to Rap Monster, and he lifts his head and she can finally see his eyes in the darkness. She turns back to the stage.

IU pushes over Bora while grabbing the envelope with a grace that would elicit applause in just about any ameatuer talent show. The Nameless gasp. Jonghyun screams. Is Zico laughing? IU skids past Jessica, just misses Krystals arms, causing her to trip over her own long legs. The stage is in complete mayhem and IU is just out of everyone’s grasps.

“Get her!” Jonghyun screams, to no avail. It’s like IU has been waiting her whole life for just this moment. She jumps past 4Minute, and, while in midair, splits the envelope in two, then crumples and shreds the rest, throwing the bits of paper in the air behind her. Ailee finally sees it: IU’s smile. She’s found that exhilaration that has long eluded her. Rap Monster would call it her “fire.” Ailee sees it more like the soul.

IU makes her way off the stage, her mission complete, but Suzy gets in her way. “How could you?” she says. And IU clocks her in the face. Suzy falls, landing on her back.

Ailee wants to cheer for her. It’s like hitting a homerun or scoring that winning touchdown.

“Follow her!” Jonghyun whines, and Suzy and 4Minute run out the door. Jonghyun helps Bora up, calms down Jessica and Tiffany. Taeyang is standing in a corner, looking at his nails. “Don’t worry,” Jonghyun says to the rest. “That wasn’t the real envelope anyway.”

“We have plenty to worry about,” snarls Zico.

“No,” Jonghyun says, already trying to fix this mess. “The winner’s envelope must still be in the school. We shut IU up and we find Detective Gary.”

“And then what?” asks Zico. He looks like he’s afraid of the answer. Now Ailee is afraid too. For IU, for herself and Rap Monster, for Detective Gary. For all of Kpop High.

“Then we fix this,” Jonghyun says.



To Be Continued...






-C

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