Chapter 95: From Now On, We’re (4)
TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir
I looked around at my noisy surroundings.
I recalled the horrifying accident that I had seen. The scene that would only remain in my memory was completely different from the scene in front of me right now. The commotion died down, and the scale of the accident had been glossed over as ‘an unpleasant instance’.
The police took the drunk man who wasn’t in his right mind away. The injured were treated at pharmacies or sent to the university hospital nearby. Since the majority of the injured people had been hit by the traffic cones or fallen over while fleeing, there was no need to call an ambulance.
While the mood was a bit uneasy, this changed soon as well.
“Ah damn, I was really freaking out. What kind of instance is this after going out in public?”
“Still, the ‘Now, We’ members are going to talk on stage because of it! I could only see them from afar because it was too crowded. Quick! Let’s get seats at the front!”
As soon as the news that the ‘Now, We’ team and their guests, including Neptune, were going on stage, people began gathering around the small stage. The jib camera that had been set up was moving in the air as it filmed this sight.
I gave the USB drive containing the instrumentals to the audio staff and went to find Neptune when Producer Bae Junghwan approached me with quick steps. After fixing his hat twice, he said,
“Mr. Sunwoo, about the current situation. Since the news is already spreading through social media, I think it’ll be quite the hot topic if we issue a promotional press release. Is it okay for my team to freeload off of it?”
When I tilted my head, Producer Bae scratched his head and added,
“I was thinking about how it would be if we packaged the scenes where we gathered the people’s attention, who were originally at the scene of the incident, and where we go up on the stage to calm the mood. Like a moving tale during a recording. Though it is a bit too dynamic to call it a moving tale.”
“I think it’ll be fine. If there’s a problem with the press release on my side, then the PR team-”
“No, we gathered the people’s attention by your request. I was wondering if it was okay for us to freeload off this when you settled the problem on your own…”
“I’m completely okay with it.”
Rather, I had a ton to thank Producer Bae and the staff since they listened to my absurd words and readily agreed to my request asking if Neptune could perform a song.
This incident would have been a bolt out of the blue for the filming team as well.
“I am sorry that the recording has been delayed. You’re even letting Neptune perform.”
“People’s safety takes priority over delays. Since our members are going to go up and greet people on the stage as well, we were going to get some airtime from that anyways. You’re obviously going to go up as well, right?”
“Yes, well, if I have to.”
“Ah, right. Also-”
I was nodding when Producer Bae said something completely unexpected.
“About the incident. I think it might be on the news later, is that okay? The newsroom asked me to ask for your understanding.”
That would go on the news? Not on internet articles or the entertainment show, but the news?
It seemed my flustered expression was clearly revealed as Producer Bae stressed that it would quickly pass since it would be in a news brief and that I shouldn’t be too troubled by it.
I rigidly nodded my head. If it would quickly pass, then… there probably wouldn’t be a problem. It wasn’t like there were only one or two incidents on the news. Even cases where someone rescued a person who had fallen down onto the subway tracks or had captured a heinous criminal with his bare hands would quickly die down so this shouldn’t matter much.
Just then, my phone in my pocket rang. It was Team Leader Park.
I answered the phone while separating from Producer Bae.
“Yes, team leader.”
-I know that you are in the middle of recording, but there are weird posts popping up on social media. I’ve even been receiving an outpour of calls from reporters. So I felt like I had to ask you personally, are you in Sinchon?
“… Yes. I’m in Sinchon. What kind of posts did you see?”
-‘Now, We’ team and Neptune are filming in Sinchon, but a drunk driver suddenly charged down a street filled with people. Everyone was at a loss due to the shock, but Neptune’s manager, which I think they are talking about you, dragged the driver out and ended the incident?
Her voice was filled with disbelief.
-Also, I heard that ‘the ‘Now, We’ team is going on stage to greet people because of the uneasy mood’ and that ‘people nearby should go and watch since Neptune is going to perform as well.’ How much of this is the truth and how much is made up?
“Hmm. I think it’s all true. From the beginning to the end.”
As if she didn’t know what to say, Team Leader was silent for a moment before asked in a bewildered voice.
-… Just what did you do during the entertainment show recording?
“I don’t know. Something newsworthy?”
Even as those words came out of my mouth, they felt surreal. I also suddenly thought that I should tell my parents and my brother ahead of time. While I didn’t know if I would be in the news or not, there would be a huge fuss at home if they saw it without knowing.
-My word, are you hurt?
-Okay. Either way, you’re saying it’s all true? While I don’t know how big this incident will become, I’ll talk to the reporters so don’t worry and focus on the recording. Let’s talk after.
After hanging up, I called my brother and my parents. I told them that I would explain in detail later about thirty times. Only then did I go find the girls. They were preparing for their performance in an event tent.
“Are you ready? I think they are done setting up the cameras, we’ll going to go up soon.”
When I said this while going in, the girls all turned to look at me. Their eyes were alarming.
LJ clicked her tongue as she said,
“Do you like experiencing dangerous things or seeking thrills? If you do, then tell me instead of going against a truck. I’ll try to work something out.”
“Because you seem too calm for someone who returned from the scene of an accident.”
What did she mean ‘calm’? I explained that my appearance wasn’t everything, but Im Seoyoung rushed to me and slapped my arm.
“Oppa! Oppa, you are seriously unbelievable! Why do you do this?”
“Oppa, a while ago, no, you were almost in an accident just now! We took deep breaths to calm our beating hearts, yet oppa is talking about the performance like nothing…! You were almost in a car accident! A car accident!”
Her small palm hit my arm multiple times.
“I know. I know, but I suddenly thought it was an opportunity. Since they said this incident was spreading on social media and if you perform your title track here, it might become a huge topic if we’re lucky…”
The more I talked, the more chilly the atmosphere became. LJ was glaring at me, and Lee Taehee was blankly staring at me with her arms crossed. I didn’t know what Lee Songha was doing as she had her back towards me and wasn’t looking in my direction.
Im Seoyoung stomped her feet hard. Then she tilted her head up and looked at me mercilessly. Her fierce eyes were wet with tears.
“An opportunity? If, if, if you were hurt, do you think we’ll be happy if we used this opportunity to perform and gain popularity? Do-don’t tell me… you were thinking this as you jumped in?”
“Of course not.”
No matter how much I wanted to increase Neptune’s popularity, would I really do something that crazy? I was firmly shaking my head and comforting them when Lee Taehee came up to us. Then she tapped Im Seoyoung’s shoulder.
“Stop for now and get ready for the performance. Oppa… Either way, he created this opportunity by risking his life so we need to do well.”
While she looked calm compared to Im Seoyoung and LJ, her gaze was a bit chilly as she looked at me. After calming Im Seoyoung down, she stood in front of me. With a sigh, she said,
“Don’t do anything dangerous from now on.”
“Taehee, it’s you who should-“
Damn. I began confusing the future that didn’t happen and the changed present. While clicking my tongue, I looked at Lee Taehee’s arms. They were thin and so white that they looked pale. With those arms that looked like they would break if I gripped them too hard, she had pushed my back.
“You should be careful too. Don’t jump into an incident and avoid it.”
“I don’t have the ability to jump in. My athletic ability is garbage.”
She said while shrugging her shoulders.
I suddenly became curious about what she thought when she did that. What was she thinking when she rushed in front of the truck and pushed my back? Well… Since it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be able to hear an answer in the future.
“We’re okay, but talk with Songha.”
I was worried because she kept her back turned towards me. When I came close, her state was a bit, no, very odd.
She was holding her phone with her fingers that were so pale they were like a mannequin’s. On the screen were the lyrics of their title track ‘Satellite’ that they were going to sing on the stage.
“Why the lyrics all of a sudden?”
“… I can’t remember the lyrics.”
She said with a stiff face. Her black eyes trembled as though they had lost their way. For her to not remember the lyrics… She looked more scared than when she was in front of the truck, holding the baby, in the future I saw.
I bent my knees and stared directly at her face.
“Were you that surprised? It really wasn’t much. You saw it too. I’m not hurt anywhere.”
“You could have been hurt really bad. You could have even died. In a place I couldn’t see you, without me knowing…”
Her white face almost looked blue. It seemed that her mind was filled with thoughts of me getting carried away in an ambulance as a bloody mess or with all my bones broken.
“Hey, why would I die? It’s not like I jumped in front of an oncoming truck or did some stunt in the air. All I did was open the door and dragged the driver out when the truck stopped. I value my life too so don’t be so worried…”
I said while smiling gently, but Lee Songha suddenly grabbed my arm.
Her eyes, which were trembling like a stormy sea, gradually calmed down. Calmer than ever, her eyes stared directly at me for a long time. Only when my legs started to go numb did she say in a small voice,
“Don’t do it again.”
“Okay, I got it.”
She let go only after hearing my reply.
At a sudden thought, I slowly looked around at Lee Songha and the other girls.
If, in the future I saw, the truck didn’t charge at Lee Songha and Lee Taehee and if that last moment wasn’t embedded in my mind, then I might not have jumped into this incident this much.
I realized that Neptune had become a significant part of my life.
“Oppas, you’re so cool! You look better than on TV!”
“Euah! Their looks are amazing in real life! How could they be so unbelievably pretty?”
“Can’t they just film here instead of going somewhere else?”
The power of celebrities was incredible.
People were crowded around the stage, even so far back that it made you wonder if they could even see them. There were also a lot of people looking down from two or three-story buildings nearby. It seemed like the truck incident had already thrown back into a corner of their minds as everyone’s face was filled with excitement.
The ‘Now, We’ members skillfully heated the mood. Entertainment show veterans were on another level. Even in such a sudden situation, their back-and-forth was natural like flowing water.
Neptune and even the child actors were waving their hands with a smile.
It felt like I was the only one here who was stiff. Fortunately, I didn’t show it.
Of course, I had seen a lot of stages while going around with Neptune, and there were countless times when the number of spectators exceeded this. However, I was always below or behind the stage.
It was my first time being on stage, sharing the attention.
The gazes on me were very uncomfortable. There were even some people who murmured my name, but whenever I heard my name, it felt like another wrinkle appeared on my face. As expected, this wasn’t my preference.
While I was clicking my tongue, Hwang Jaehyun approached me, holding a mic.
“Everyone, this is Neptune’s manager, Mr. Jung Sunwoo. You were all surprised before, right? We were very surprised as well when we heard that the person who went off to the bathroom had caught a drunken driver on the scene.”
Laughter erupted from below the stage. The people who had been looking at other celebrities were turning to look at me one after another. I greeted the people who waved their hands as they faced their phone cameras towards me when I saw a familiar face in the crowd.
Kim Taejong. He was standing next to his girlfriend and looking at me with a stupid expression. He looked the same as in my memory. When I greeted him by gesturing with my eyes, he became surprised. Seeing this, I felt like my slightly stiff shoulders relax.
“Now, say something to the crowd.”
Hwang Jaehyung handed me the mic.
“Umm. It’s fortunate that not many people were hurt.”
I added a few simple words after that before handing the mic back. After hearing people cheer in front of me, I felt like I was going deaf.
Hwang Jaehyun spoke to the crowd again,
“Since we can’t just end it like this, Neptune here will perform a song. Please give them a lou… It seems you will. Ow, my ears. Then we’ll start Neptune’s special performance!”
Soon, Neptune’s performance began, accompanied by a violin melody.
The other celebrities and I came down from the stage and watched their performance like the other spectators. The scenes of the celebrities following the girls’ choreography was clearly captured by the ENG and jib cameras.
At first, the people’s attention was divided into two. There were many people who were looking at the ‘Now, We’ team rather than Neptune’s performance. However, a few seconds after the intro, their gazes were directed at the stage as though their eyes were dragged by the collar to look in that direction.
I looked at each of the girls who were buried under the cheers.
Their performance was perfect, which meant I was worried for nothing. Even Lee Songha, who I was the most worried about, looked completely fine on stage.
It was an unfamiliar stage. It was an unexpected, sudden performance. Yet, this performance made those watching more excited than any of their other performances, even their music broadcast comeback performance which they had reduced their sleep to prepare for.
It didn’t seem I was the only one who felt this way as cheers loud enough to shake Sinchon rang out. During Lee Taehee’s part, people slapped the backs of the person next to them and admired her, they went wild during LJ’s rap, and they waved their hands friendlily at Im Seoyoung. They also crazily pressed their shutters at Lee Songha.
At some point, voices popped up, telling them that one song wasn’t enough and to perform another, asking for an encore, and even asking they hold a guerrilla concert right here. In fact, the celebrity members, including Hwang Jaehyun, sloppily followed the choreography as they sang the encore.
I took a step back and captured this scene with my two eyes.
Without me realizing, a satisfied smile hung on my lips.