King and Queen, Episode 16


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!


***

Her footsteps echo much too loudly through the empty hallways of Kpop High, but Ailee cannot stop. She’s aware of the police who would lock her in her dorm room, aware of the Nameless who would kill her for what she knows, but her only concern is putting space between herself and Zico. That she began the night as his date is a thought that sickens her now. Even Rap Monster, sweet boy, can only remind her of the eventual betrayal of all men. The promises that collapse when you most need to hold them tight.

Ailee storms down one hallway and the next, with Rap Monster tip-toeing behind her, urging caution. She’s not even sure what she’s looking for at this point. Something broken, she thinks. Something burning. Something she can fix. What she finds is Jonghyun, standing at the end of the next hallway as if he were waiting for her this whole time. A flame waiting patiently for a moth to come along.

“Ailee,” Rap Monster whispers his warning, “He’s dangerous. We should go.”

She walks forward anyways, and the click of her heels announce her approach like drums before a king. They are surrounded on either side by glass cases of trophies and placards announcing Kpop High’s illustrious past. Jonghyun makes her walk the full length of the hall before deigning to greet her.

“Ailee,” he says, with an angled nod of his head.

“Jonghyun,” Rap Monster answers, now standing beside her, his previous timidity gone, or at least hidden.

“Going on a late-night walk?” Jonghyun asks, mockery in his tone.

“Not quite, Grand Master,” she says. Jonghyun’s smile falters, but not for long.

“So you know my proper title. Very well, let us call a spade, a spade.”

“And a snake, a snake.” Ailee narrows her eyes at the man-who-might-be-murderer. She threatens without knowing what danger awaits her.

“Hardly complimentary. And what would you know of snakes, Ailee?” Though perfectly still, Jonghyun seems to slither back and forth ever so slightly.

“I know them when I see them.”

“And yet you did not complain when I helped you escape Tony An’s watch. You didn’t accuse me of anything when I helped you find your little pet.”

Ailee grabs Rap Monster’s shoulder to keep him from charging.

“We know what you’ve done,” he says through bared teeth.

“And what is that?”

“You shot JYP.”

“Goodness, is that what you think?” Jonghyun says, still mirthful. “That I had something to do with that tragic event? Tell me, do my hands look unclean? Do I look like the sort of person that would shoot a man in cold blood?”

“No,” Ailee says. “You look like someone who would do whatever it takes to get what you wan

“At last, we’re getting somewhere.” Jonghyun takes two steps forward. “And tell me, what is it that you want, Ailee?”

The question surprises her.

“Do you have a great desire to be an outcast? A social pariah? Is the thing you want most in this life for everyone to smile politely to your face and then gossip when you turn your back?” Another step forward. “And you, Rap Monster. You came to Kpop High hoping that you wouldn’t fit in? You came just for the opportunity to reject being an idol at every turn? I doubt that very much.” Another step and now Jonghyun is only an arm’s length away. “I think that what you want, what both of you want, is the same thing that drives all of us. Fame and glory,” he says, then drops to a whisper. “Look where we are, surrounded by trophies and medallions, golden discs and platinum records. Aren’t we all here to be King and Queen of Kpop High?”

“I don’t want that,” Ailee says.

“And yet your name was written in the winners’ envelope. Curious. Did you put it there?” As he speaks, Jonghyun removes a switchblade from the pocket of his suit coat. He opens it with a flick and waves it gracefully in front of Rap Monster. “Tell me honestly, Ailee. I won’t be mad.”

Her heart is racing. She can see the fear in Rap Monster’s eyes reflected off the smooth metal of the knife.

“Did you try to cheat your way to winning?”

“Of course not,” she says.

“Do you admit it’s curious, though?”

When Ailee does not answer, Jonghyun forces the knife below Rap Monster’s throat. “Yes,” she says.

“Who would vote for me?”

“But you maintain you had nothing to do with it.” Jonghyun looks directly in Rap Monster’s eyes, but his question is still for her.

“Yes.” Yes, she says, and hopes she is not condemning Rap Monster with her honestly.

“A pity,” Jonghyun says, turning the knife towards her. “We’re always looking for ambitious new recruits. It seems I have no need for you.”

Ailee’s voice is trapped inside her as Jonghyun grabs her in a headlock. He points the knife first at Rap Monster, then, at her. The point of the blade dimples her cheek, and Rap Monster can only watch, frozen and helpless. She sees the promise of all men collapse in his eyes.

Ailee waits for her life to flash before her. She waits for images of her lonely childhood, of her mother and father’s coldness, of the joy she found in singing. She waits to relive the day of her audition, the happiness she felt when she got in. She waits to feel the cold settle in, as she passes from this world to the next.

Instead she feels a jolt, and then Jonghyun slides to the floor beside her like a ragdoll.

She spins around.

“Zico?”

He’s standing there, holding an old trophy, upside down, the base having just connected with Jonghyun’s skull.

***

Krystal screams, “Don’t just stand there! Help!” as she tries to hold IU down against one of the bathroom stall doors with the rest of 4Minute. The rest of 4Minute, Amber notices, except for HyunA. She knows she should help. Krystal is her friend. Her fellow member. Part of her team. But then why does she keep looking to HyunA? Why does she expect her to be her guide?

Even HyunA seems to be annoyed by Amber’s indecision. She snorts, looks away. Gayoon, her cheek bleeding, has joined the fray, slapping IU across her face, out for blood. Blood is what she gets, as IU spits some in her face.

Everything is pointing to IU being some crazed killer here. The way IU laughs as Gayoon screams. The way she pushes away Krystal and 4Minute, desperate to flee. Logic is pointing towards IU’s guilt. But there’s something tugging at Amber, making her doubt her friend, this scene, everything that made her sneak out tonight to begin with.

Years later, she’ll think that her doubt set in the moment Krystal argued with HyunA, how she saw her friend’s true colors then and there. Or perhaps it was when she saw the look on IU’s face, and could see in her eyes that not all was as it seems.

But the real reason Amber pushes down 4Minute, tripping Krystal to the ground, screaming at HyunA to help IU as they rush out the doors, is because Amber’s intuition, often subconscious, was so finely tuned that it would often lead her to these conclusions. Her intuition had led her to sneaking out with HyunA, because her subconscious knew that HyunA had her best interests in mind. Her intuition told her that Krystal could not be trusted. Her intuition, her gut, her sense of right and wrong, told her that no matter what she did, she had to save IU and get the hell out of there.

She can hear Krystal wailing behind, HyunA laughing, carrying IU with her. She can see the front door, to freedom.

Years later she’ll wonder why they didn’t keep running. How different things would have ended up for all of them. But most of all she’ll remember when they heard the voice scream, “Stop!” And she’ll wonder, why oh why on earth did they listen?



To Be Continued...



-C

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