King and Queen, Episode 17


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!

***

“Tony, over here!”

Hyori calls to her colleague before her brain can process what is in front of her. Slumped over on the auditorium stage floor, is Detective Gary, motionless.

“Help!” she calls out. “Find the lights!”

Hyori rushes to Gary’s side, cradling his head in her arms. She sees no blood, no visible sign of what might be wrong. She frantically pushes two fingers to his carotid artery, searching for a pulse. Before she can find it Gary coughs. He twitches two times then opens his eyes, slowly.

“Detective Gary,” she says. “Can you hear me?” The stage lights come on but his pupils stay dilated, unfocused.

Tony An rushes to her side. “Is he okay?”

“I think he has a concussion.” Hyori lifts his head and checks his scalp like a mother searching her son for scrapes. Gary groans. A singular sound of pain. “We need to get him to a doctor.”

“Who did this to him?” Tony asks, but there’s no answer.

“Come on, help me get him out of here.”

Gary groans again, but this time it sounds like speech, like words attempted and failed.

“Gary?” Tony An asks again. “Who did this to you?”

“Tony, stop,” Hyori says.

“What?”

“He needs medical attention.”

“I’m all right,” Gary says, slowly coming to. He pushes himself up into a sitting position, only for Tony An to grab his arm.

“Tony!”

“You want to fix this, don’t you?”

Hyori pauses, unsure if what he says makes sense. Fix this? Is there any fixing when it comes to something that has already happened? The best they could hope for at this point is that no one else gets hurt.

“Who did this?” Tony repeats. “Tell me who it was and I’ll find him.”

“What makes you think it was a him?” Gary says.

And then they hear it, a noise that snaps through the air with a pop.

“Was that a--?”

“Time to go,” Gary finishes for her. “Help me up.”

***

A sound like the crack of a whip. Ailee freezes. “What was that?”

She’s halfway to checking on Jonghyun, not out of care or concern, but a different instinct, one she’s only recently recognized in herself. A survival instinct. Now she senses a new danger, but she doesn’t see it in Zico or Rap Monster.

Zico looks down at her, his eyes wide and full of fear. “I just…”

“You knocked him out,” Rap Monster finishes for him, clearly impressed.

“Stop! You didn’t hear that?” Ailee listens, waiting to hear the sound again.

Zico shakes his head, then looks down to see he’s still holding the heavy trophy, the instrument of his attack against the Grand Master of The Nameless. “Are you okay?” he says.

Okay? Ailee stops and thinks about it. She looks around her, at Jonghyun breathing softly on the floor, all of them scared, witnesses to JYP’s attempted murder, then attacked themselves. The hours spent in fear, unsure, helpless. Were any of them okay?

“Thank you,” she says, is all she can think to say to Zico for saving her life. “But I think we need to get out of here.”

“You’re right,” Rap Monster says, nudging Jonghyun with his toe. “The sooner the better.”

“We should go to the police,” she says.

“And say what?” Zico asks, setting the trophy down nervously.

“Tell them what we know.”

“I don’t know who shot JYP,” Zico admits.

“It wasn’t Jonghyun?” Rap Monster asks.

Zico shakes his head. “Not his style.”

“You really don’t know who did it?”

“I wish I did, but I don’t. I can’t tell you what I don’t know.”

“We know enough.” Ailee says.

But Zico corrects her. “No,” he says. “We’re missing the most important piece.”

“He’s right,” Rap Monster chimes in. “It’s not the police we need right now.”

And then Ailee understands. “The 9:00am meeting.”

“Exactly.”

“On stage in front of everyone.”

The three of them lock eyes over Jonghyun’s collapsed body, making a silent pact to see it through, to make sure it was all worth it. They will draw out JYP’s shooter in front of the entire student body of Kpop High.

“Where everybody sees you,” Rap Monster finishes.

There’s a chill in the air, and it’s far too quiet.

“Let’s get out of here,” Ailee says, and they scatter.

***

“Stop!” HyunA hears. Before the crack, the boom, there’s a scream, a command, one that is so deep and so penetrating, that both Amber and IU stop in their tracks. They’re so close to the doors that she can almost touch the handles. HyunA knows that this night can be over if she just goes through the doors. Then she can forget all this. All this drama, this backstabbing. This farce.

What is she even doing here? Not just here tonight. What on earth is she doing at Kpop High? She doesn’t belong here. Krystal made that clear. Her supposed friends made that clear by leaving her out. Maybe girls like her never would fit in here. The doors. They’re right there. And she can be gone from here forever.

But she has to know. She has to know who else is here. Call it an innate curiosity. And what did curiosity bring that cat again?

Before the boom, she sees Amber’s reaction first. She looks furious. Like she can punch whoever called out to them. Why not? She already took down Krystal and 4minute. She probably feels like she can take on the world. She had taken HyunA’s side, trusted her. HyunA can’t trust her own friends, but she knows she can trust Amber.

And then she sees IU. There’s a hooded figure before her. They’ve entered some horror movie, but IU looks calm. Expecting. HyunA doesn’t always understand this girl, but she respects her. She’s a fighter. If they hadn’t stumbled on her being ambushed by 4Minute in the girl’s bathroom, maybe she would have still beat them back.

HyunA remembers the first time she met IU. She had heard about IU even before she had gotten to Kpop High. JYP had put her on all of the brochures. The girl with the three high notes. The inevitable idol. The one who would be Queen. HyunA assumed that she would hate her from the start. But when she spotted her on her first day. At the lunchroom. What did she see? People like Jiyeon and Suzy surrounding IU, talking at her. But in every other possible way, IU was alone. IU caught HyunA looking. They had eye contact. HyunA found that she couldn’t look away. Because she thought it was funny how uninterested IU looked, HyunA winked at her. She’s never forgotten IU’s expression. She didn’t wink back but IU nodded at her. She was in on the joke. What was worse was that she was entrapped by the joke. A prisoner by something more than her success. Something as scary as her destiny. HyunA hasn’t forgotten that look. She sees that look now. IU nods at this hooded figure. So close. The door’s right there. They’re so close. They don’t have to stop.

The hooded figure is cloaked by the night. Before the boom that cracks open the world, IU looks hypnotized but then says, “I knew it.”

And then the hooded figure takes out a gun. Even in the dark, it shines. Amber tries to scream but is in shock. She’s right next to IU. They’re both frozen. The door is right there. HyunA doesn’t think, she jumps. She tries to knock both Amber and IU down, but the bullet is faster. She only gets to Amber. The boom. The boom seems to shatter the air. The bullet seems like it’s breaking through the atmosphere. It smells like sulfur and fire and when it hits IU in the stomach it knocks her on top of HyunA and Amber smashing into them like a bundle of bricks.

“No no no -” Amber says, clutching her own body on the ground. But HyunA has the wherewithal to check on IU, as the hooded figure slinks into the black. She grabs her, holds her on the floor, IU’s blood getting all over her lap, her legs.

It’s HyunA who says, “Who was that? What’s going on?”

And IU says, “HyunA.” She smiles, then coughs. “Find Chanhyuk.” And then she winks. And then she dies in HyunA’s arms.



To Be Continued...



-C

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