King and Queen, Episode 19


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!

***

Amber looks again at the boy in glasses. The boy with the memory stick that’s supposed to provide them, and IU, with justice. She can tell that HyunA doesn’t quite believe it either. He’s not the hero type, but he’s the person IU told them to find.

“How did you know IU again?” Amber asks, hoping there is a piece to the puzzle they are missing still.

“The Dungeon.”

“The what?” HyunA says.

“The Dungeon. You know, the production studio in the basement?”

Amber and HyunA shake their heads.

“Whatever. I met IU down there. She was nice to me. She was the only one at this school who seemed to care how messed up everything was. How the whole system is corrupt. I’m sure the two of you wouldn’t understand.”

Amber puts a hand to HyunA’s wrist. She’s worried about what she might say. But HyunA surprises her, as she always does.

“So how does this all work?” HyunA asks evenly.

“I just plug this in and hit play. IU did all the hard work.”

The three of them stare at a room full of knobs and levers, controls for every piece of electronics imaginable. And a window looking out onto the stage of the auditorium. The seats are nearly filled with students.

“Almost showtime,” HyunA says.

Chanhyuk cracks his knuckles and checks the equipment again.

It had taken Amber and HyunA forever even to find him. Chanhyuk was no one, a nobody. But they hadn’t given up. Because what would have been left? If they had given up, all they would have had is the memory of IU’s face as she died, the memory of their failure to save her, their failure to follow her last wish.

Amber swallows her emotion. “You’re sure this will work?” she growls.

“It’ll work,” he says.

“Whatever is on this memory stick will play in front of the whole auditorium? Everyone will see it?”

“That’s right.”

“But you haven’t seen it yet?”

He shakes his head.

They were putting a lot of faith in an unknown quantity.

Even after they had figured out who Chanhyuk was, it hadn’t been easy earning his trust. Sweeping him away in the middle of the night, telling him IU was dead and asking for his help. He hadn’t believed them at first. Hadn’t wanted to, Amber guessed.

But they had done their part. They had found Chanhyuk and convinced him of IU’s death. They had sat him down and explained it to him, how it happened and who was responsible. And Amber had thought, either this kid would accept what had happened and come out the other side, or he’d sink to the bottom of a very deep ocean.

Chanhyuk looks Amber in the eyes and reassures her. “It’s going to work,” he says. “We’ll find IU justice.”

Amber looks out at the auditorium, where Detective Gary commands the attention of the students. “Play it,” she says.

***

Hyori has a chance to stop it. She sees the light from the AV room above, even before the video plays. She sees Chanhyuk’s glasses shine under the projector’s bright beam. She has a chance to signal Gary, who would in turn send his officers to stop the interruption. If she were a better principal maybe she would have done this. But instead, a voice stops her. It’s IU. And when a ghost speaks to you, you don’t think about your administrative duties. You listen.

“Chanhyuk?” IU says. “Is the camera on?” He must nod, yes, on the other end, because IU begins. She starts with, “Kpop High is not what it seems.”

Hyori realizes that IU’s face has been projected onto the stage and the students stand, perplexed, just minutes ago hearing that IU had been killed. If Hyori were a better principal, she would perhaps tell them that there was nothing to see here. But because she’s a human first, and because she saw IU’s lifeless body in HyunA’s arms, she motions for Ailee and Rap Monster to help lower the curtain. Rap Monster nods, prepared for the solemn task, pulling the rope forcefully, the curtain on stage closing shut. Ailee, in tears, follows suit. Of course, she does, Hyori thinks. This was IU’s final message to the school. Her last will and testament.

IU’s face looks pale, as if she knew the future that lay before her. But Hyori sees something she hadn’t seen in so long.

IU is smiling.

“I know it sounds like I’m being dramatic. But this is important to me.” The smile fades. “I love Kpop. I love this school. I believe in this school. In all of us.” She looks away from the camera. “I came into this school, wanting nothing except to become the Queen of Kpop High. If anyone bought into the system, it was me. But then I met a strange young genius named Chanhyuk.” IU laughs. The camera jiggles, as the person on the other end laughs too.

“I was developing a song. I don’t remember what it was. Something about marshmallows. You can tell where my head was at. Chanhyuk was there, in the computer lab. I had heard it was called the Dungeon. But I didn’t know why, not then.” IU is remembering who she was. She’s not smiling. She’s dreading this. “I thought that Chanhyuk was a weirdo. Not worth my time. That’s what Kpop High can do to you, if you’re on top. It can breed cruelty.

“But when my computer crashed. And I could have lost everything? Chanhyuk was the only one who helped me. He helped wanting nothing in return.” IU pauses. She waves her bangs out of her face. She’s tired. “We became friends. I started spending more time at the Dungeon, and slowly, too slowly, I realized what it was all about. How JYP kept our very best and brightest down there. Their very best years robbed from them. How, by wanting to become queen, I was culpable in this system. Kpop shouldn’t be about winners and losers. Kpop should be about music, passion. Fire.

“You’ve heard the rumors. Every year, there’s a vote for King and Queen. But no one really knows the tally. No one except JYP. I thought that if we could find out what was behind King and Queen we could begin to fight against it. Chanhyuk provided the cameras. Since JYP trusted me, I was given the access. We found the winner’s envelopes. There were three.”

The video cuts. The audience sees IU reflected from JYP’s mirror. The video camera is peeking out of her bookbag. JYP sighs. “We’ve been through this.”

“All I’m asking is that you consider it.”

“King and Queen is an essential part of Kpop High! Don’t you see? Come on!”

“But the Dungeon -”

“I don’t want to hear about the damn Dungeon! I get to choose when you you’re ready to be stars. Do you understand? It’s all on me!”

“Even King and Queen?”

“This is all I’m talking to you about today. Get some sleep. Maybe that will straighten you out. And what’s she doing here?”

She? Hyori searches every corner of the screen. The camera doesn’t catch the third person in the room. Who would it be?

“She’s supporting me.”

“Ha!” JYP laughs.

IU leaves, but another view of JYP is shown. There was another camera in the room. Alone to his thoughts, JYP takes out an envelope. The mirror reflects the King and Queen logo at its front. And then he pulls out another. And then another. “It’s on me,” JYP says. The video cuts out and returns to IU.

“I didn’t want to stoop to these levels, but we had no alternative. And now. I feel like I’m in danger. That I shouldn’t have trusted everyone that I trusted. I trust Chanhyuk. But our friend, I wouldn’t call her a friend. She may have another agenda now. Maybe she always did. If you’re seeing this, something has happened to me. I’m not going to incriminate someone without proof, but please follow the signs. I’m not afraid of what lays before me. But I fear for this school, for Kpop, if the truth isn’t revealed. The truth. That’s all that matters.”

The video stops and Hyori’s head and heart are pounding. Who was the third idol? She scans the room. That third idol may have shot JYP. May have killed IU. Who could it be? And then, all of a sudden, Hyori knows. A friend that wasn’t IU’s friend. She has a black eye and is standing in the front row. There is no doubt. Hyori knows.

***

And Ailee knows too. She doesn’t have the same realization that Hyori does. That IU had been accompanied by Suzy and sometimes Jiyeon at every turn. She doesn’t even remember when she asked IU about her friends, just last night, and how IU answered with, “What friends?”

But she does remember how IU told her, that night that feels like ages ago, that anyone that wins King and Queen really is getting a bullseye. She remembers that IU was trying to tell her something and how, caught in her own misery, she couldn’t even begin to understand. She remembers letting her down. Not even thinking that she was in danger after capturing Jonghyun, the evil mastermind. But there was someone that was far more evil. IU knew that, which was why she made sure to punch her in the face. Suzy. The future idol who could have it all, but her deepest desires were always just out of reach. Because of girls like IU. That’s when Ailee knows. It was Suzy from the start. She manipulated all sides to get what she wanted. And was getting away with it too, because she was the girl next door.

But what if the girl next door was a psychopath?

Ailee sees a sliver of silver peeking out of Suzy’s jacket. She knows that she doesn’t have a lot of time. She runs over to Rap Monster and tells him what she should have told him the moment he told her to come back to the prom. The moment he told her that everyone was waiting for her. “I love you,” she says, and she hops off of the stage before he has a chance to respond with anything except, “Ailee!” but she’s already on the floor, racing to Suzy, before she has a chance to kill anyone else.

“Suzy!” she screams, and the whole school seems to erupt in gasps. Ailee can only hear them. She only makes out Suzy and then there’s just red encircling her.

And then the gun. Ailee jumps at Suzy, knocking her to the ground. She hears a loud pop. And then the red goes to black, then there’s nothing, just peace.



To Be Continued...




-C

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