TM Chapter 98

Chapter 98: Splashing while Riding a Sudden Current (2)

TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir


 

Neptune’s waiting room was in the middle of the hallway. When I opened the door, it was like a completely new world.

“It’s so big! It’s bigger than my room!”

“Is this really our waiting room? Did they put the wrong name on the door?”

Im Seoyoung chattered, saying how they could practice their choreography here to their hearts’ content, while Lee Taehee and Lee Songha looked satisfied as they sat down on the plush sofa. Without doubtful eyes, LJ went out to check if this really was our waiting room and returned.

Compared to the chicken coop we used last year, this was a 5-star hotel. Even the waiting room we used during their comeback was only half the size of this room.

I always felt this, but in this damn entertainment industry, popularity was everything.

“Oppa, are we really using this room all on our own? Has our level really increased this much?”

“Well, while that might be part of it, it’s also probably because you girls are first place candidates today.”

Immediately, the mood in the waiting room became strange. Im Seoyoung, who was reading everyone’s mood, fiddled with her flare skirt as she said,

“I, I really came here with no expectations. After being nervous that we might be disbanded during the two years we’ve debuted, just being one of the first place candidates already feels like I’ve been hit with luck! We even placed first on the music charts! My heart is peace itself right now, oppa!”

No, you seemed very agitated right now.

Im Seoyoung, who had been chatting on her own without being asked, suddenly turned her head.

“Taehee unni, you don’t expect to place first too, right?”

“Yeah.”

Lee Taehee replied with half-closed eyes.

“Lee Songha, you don’t expect to place first either, right?”

“Nope.”

Lee Songha, who had been rummaging through the snack basket, nodded her head. I occasionally thought this, but, overall, the members of this team were calm and composed, yet it felt balanced since Im Seoyoung made enough fuss for four people.

Lastly, Im Seoyoung stared at LJ, who was sitting on the chair in front of the dressing table and shaking her crossed leg. Before Im Seoyoung could open her mouth, LJ said,

“The only one who’s holding expectations here is you.”

“N-no.”

“Ha! I heard you calling your parents and relatives to vote by text last night. You were even memorizing your speech if we place first. I could hear it all because the walls are thin, dummy.”

Im Seoyoung’s cheeks instantly reddened.

“Hey! If we really do place first, I won’t be able to think of anything! It’s a live broadcast! If you don’t want to look foolish, you have to memorize everything you want to say!”

“See, you are hoping for first.”

LJ’s lips curled up into a smile. Im Seoyoung, who opened and closed her mouth while flushed with anger, slumped down below the sofa and clung to my leg with an expression of holding onto a lifeline.

It seemed her emotional anxiety had flared up. She did endure for a long while.

“Euaaah, oppa, what do I do? I, I really tried not to be so hopeful!”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“I already know that we have no hope with the text voting since it’s a fight between fandoms, and I also know that if I get my hopes up for the hopeless, I’ll be even more disappointed. But I keep thinking of the first place trophy! To be honest, last night, I dreamed of decorating our living room with the trophy!”

She buried her face in her hands and slammed her head against the sofa.

“If oppa wasn’t next to me, I might have already lost it by now!”

More than now?

Worried that she might call herself a ‘stupid dummy’ again, I patted her round shoulders.

“What’s wrong with getting your hopes up? I’m hopeful too.”

“… You are, oppa?”

“I’m not saying this to pressure you, I’m saying it because there is a small possibility.”

I quickly added in case they felt more pressure from reading my mood like they did during the music chart ranking incident.

“I also told my brother and sister-in-law to vote. I even thought about buying the quadruplets phones so that we could get four more votes.”

Seriously.

“If you get your hopes up and we don’t place first, then…”

“Then I’ll have a drink tonight.”

I said nonchalantly. Im Seoyoung, who had been slumped over like a half-melted jelly, returned to her original state. Im Seoyoung crawled over to the seat next to the sofa when Lee Songha added as though it was no big deal,

“Honestly, I’m also a bit hopeful. You never know.”

“You too?”

Im Seoyoung quickly turned to look at her.

“Really? When your face seems like it’ll be fine if we don’t place first?”

“My face is always like this.”

“That’s true. So you got your hopes up too. It wasn’t just me.”

She blinked while glancing at Lee Taehee. Lee Taehee, who had been leaning back and massaging her long neck, said,

“Me too… A little.”

“You did too?”

“Since it’s a song I created, it’s a lie if I say I had no expectations. If we drop from the first place candidates, then I’ll have a bottle of alcohol too.”

After saying this, Lee Taehee subtly smiled in my direction. I clearly said one drink.

Now that she had heard the other girls’ inner thoughts, Im Seoyoung recovered her calm. While smiling, she looked at LJ. With her legs still crossed, LJ said,

“Do you also have your hope-“

“Nope.”

“Yeah, thought so.”

Im Seoyoung grumbled with narrowed eyes. LJ looked back at us with her arms crossed and clicked her tongue.

“So? I’m the only one in this room who hasn’t gotten ahead of herself? The mood tonight will be fantastic.”

 

 

“Congratulations on being one of the first place candidates! Isn’t this your first time in three years?”

“Truly great talents mature late. Congrats, Neptune!”

“Congratulations, Mr. Manager.”

People kept congratulating us in every waiting room we went to greet.

Singers and cast members no longer treated Neptune as old rookies, and entertainment reporters asked us questions regarding the Sugar Cats like hyenas targeting their prey.

If I let the girls answer every question, then their names would be plastered on the entertainment columns in a few hours with the added bonus of provocative headlines to increase their site traffic.

“Since the girls are too nervous today from being one of the first place candidates, I don’t think they will be able to hold any interviews. Let us do it next time.”

When I said this while guiding the girls back, a reporter now asked me for comments. It seemed I also looked like a celebrity to reporters who were thirsty for anything newsworthy.

We were on our way back to the waiting room after getting away from the reporters.

“Uh, Neptune! And their manager. Do you have a bit of time?”

A producer with a headset on his head waded through the crowd and approached us.

“The two first place candidates will be having a back-and-forth in the MC seats. I think we’ll have to rehearse it because it’s live and not a recording.”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

Though I wasn’t fine seeing the faces of the Sugar Cats.

“Sugar-BYG team has more members so we’ll go to their waiting room.”

The producer smiled gently while guiding us there.

When we opened the door with ‘Sugar Cats’ and ‘BYG’ written on it together, we entered a waiting room that was twice the size of our own waiting room.

We also saw the Sugar Cats members, who sitting in front of the dressing tables and looking at their phones.

“Uh, where are the BYG members?”

When the producer asked while looking around, the chief of the Sugar Cats scratched the back of his head.

“Sorry, producer. They said that they were going to have an interview with a reporter for a bit…”

“I told you that I’ll be bringing Neptune and to wait… Where did they go?”

When the Sugar Cats’ chief and the producer went out to look for them, only the Sugar Cats and us remaining in this large room. Out of habit, I checked for any cameras. Fortunately, there were none.

Since we weren’t in a relationship where we would greet each other when nobody was around, I sat on the empty sofa with the girls. As though she had some sort of terminal illness if she didn’t lash out at Neptune, no, Im Seoyoung, Han Saetbyeol snorted as she said,

“Seoyoung, I can’t tell if you have good or bad luck, right?”

“Me? I think this is the luckiest I’ve been in the 22 years I’ve lived, why?”

Im Seoyoung shrugged her shoulders.

What was interesting was that her atmosphere was quite different in front of the Sugar Cats. If she was like a fragile bowl in front of us, she was currently a strong stone pot.

Han Saetbyeol blinked as she continued,

“No, what I mean is, you were really lucky to reach first place on the music charts, but you just had to have us as your competitor so you won’t get first place on the music broadcast. So I can’t tell whether you have good or bad-“

“Even if your tongue is short, you need to speak properly.”

Leisurely leaning against the sofa, LJ joined in.

“Did I not tell you last time? Our competitor is BYG. Even on your door, BYG’s name was above yours.”

“That’s because they are our seniors! But why do you constantly cut into our conversation?”

“Oh, that was conversing? I thought you were just speaking nonsense.”

After saying that, LJ glanced between Im Seoyoung and me before adding,

“There are no people or cameras here.”

“Yeah, I know.”

I nodded my head while opening a chocolate Lee Songha handed me.

If a uselessly famous manager said something, it could become an issue, but I wasn’t worried about words exchanged between girl group members leaking out.

LJ looked at each of the Sugar Cats members and said,

“Let me use this opportunity to ask you something. Why do you hate her so much? I’ve been with her for more than three years, but she’s not the type to receive such resentment?”

Hearing her words, even Im Seoyoung looked like she was slightly interested.

Breaking the silence, a member of the Sugar Cats with a provocative expression said,

“The way she acts is a bit, you know. So full of herself, doesn’t pay attention to the mood. While we were nervous because our debut kept falling through, she alone was easygoing, as though she was confident in debuting at any time because she was different from us.”

Her words weren’t simply thorny, her tongue was like a sword. I was about to stop this conversation because I didn’t think this would end in a simple exchange of words, but Im Seoyoung shook her head. Then she asked the Sugar Cats members,

“When was I like that? Since everyone was so anxious, I thought that I at least shou-“

“That’s being full of yourself. You’ve always looked down at us because you were the center and better at singing and dancing than us. Ah, but now that I think about it, you’re sort of in the same situation now? They say what comes around, goes around.”

The Sugar Cats member glanced at the girls as she said,

“There, the visual center is someone else, they have a lead vocalist who can write and compose her own songs, and a, well, slightly talented rapper. They are all members that are talented enough to succeed on their own, but, since you’re in the middle, besides dancing, you don’t have any-“

“There’s nothing more to hear from them, Seoyoung. It’ll only tire our ears.”

I clicked my tongue and got up since Im Seoyoung’s face became stiff. The Sugar Cats members, who had been chatting, flinched in surprise and shrunk away with expressions asking what I was going to do. While I had thought that they were hateful all this time, I really wanted to pour filthy water on them.

“Why are you all so interested in others?”

“… We were only saying that because we were worried for Seoyoung.”

“You don’t have to. We are already looking after her here.”

Lee Taehee, who had been silent, said while frowning.

Then she clicked her tongue and patted Im Seoyoung’s shoulder.

“You must have had it tough while you were on that team.”

I sincerely agreed with her. If I were amidst those girls, my heart might have become rotten and collapsed. It was so fortunate that Im Seoyoung didn’t debut with them and became a member of Neptune.

Next to me, Lee Songha also added,

“If it were me, I might have thrown something at them.”

With their eyes narrowed, the Sugar Cats members were about to speak noisily again when LJ kicked the table leg and said,

“You talk a lot about how you were jealous.”

“What? No, that’s not it. She-!”

After shooting a glance at Im Seoyoung, Han Saetbyeol looked back at LJ and shot back,

“But people might think you’re very close with Im Seoyoung, huh? Don’t you understand what we’re saying? You also don’t like her much.”

“Me?”

LJ, who had been composed, widened her eyes at her words.

“Yeah, it’s noticeable, you know? I can tell you don’t like her at a glance.”

“I’m hearing all sorts of nonsense today. Why don’t you just screw on a new pair of eyes?”

“You-!”

Just then, it seemed the BYG members arrived as a loud, muffled commotion could be heard from outside the door. Before people could enter the waiting room, Han Saetbyeol changed into a smiling expression and said,

“Either way, since we are going to be first today, why don’t you target IBC’s music broadcast that doesn’t have text voting? Oh, right. Don’t they hold a vote beforehand? If you want to place first, it’ll be better if you wait until we end our performances on music broadcasts.”

 

Ear-shattering screams erupted from the audience.

Neptune, the Sugar Cats, and BYG members were standing between the two MCs in the MC seating area to the left of the stage as they greeted the audience and said their predetermined speech. Damn, I couldn’t even hear the girls’ voices because the BYG fans’ screams were too loud.

I approached the Neptune fans gathered at the edge of the fan seating area below the stage. While, in terms of scale, they were smaller than other boy group fans, they were still fans who had come all this way to support Neptune.

“Manager! Did you vote?”

The fans who discovered me murmured in surprise. I nodded at the words of the few whom I was quite familiar with.

“Of course, I did. How about you guys?”

“We already did it before. Since it’s their first time being a first place candidate, we are doing all that we can!”

“We are encouraging others to vote on fan sites and the review sections on music chart sites! Just! Why! Don’t male fans understand the importance of text voting?! Whether they become first or not hands on that!”

The woman who I had seen so often that I even remembered the nickname she used, ‘Songha-Eating’, shouted while stomping her feet. Anyways, I gave her a thumbs-up for doing well.

My phone, which was in my pocket, rang. When I took it out, I was constantly getting text messages. They were messages from company employees, including Kim Hyunjo and the PR Team, saying that they all voted. Even though they said they didn’t get their hopes up, it seemed they were all watching the live broadcast.

After a short remark from the MC seating area, Neptune’s performance began.

Because of the incident before, everyone’s mood was serious, but it seemed they poured all their energy into their performance. They were especially passionate today. It wasn’t just the fans in Neptune’s fan seating area, other spectators cheered while waving their cheering items.

By the time they came down from the stage, the girls all looked slightly refreshed.

After peacefully waiting in our waiting for about twenty minutes, we returned to the stage while awaiting the first place announcement.

The Sugar Cats and BYG were already on stage next to the MCs. Other solo artists and idol groups that performed today gathered behind them.

Before they got up on stage, Lee Songha said in a quiet voice,

“I wish we were first today.”

“I know, right?”

Lee Taehee nodded her head. In a quiet voice, so others couldn’t hear, I said that, since the Sugar Cats would probably be sick in bed if we became first, we should give them our kind regards through a video call.

Lastly, LJ, who said that she didn’t hold any expectations, said passingly,

“If we’re first, then I’m going to tap dance with the trophy in my hand in front of those jerks.”

The girls went up on stage.

I stood amongst other related people and staff members and looked at the stage being shined on by the lights. A jib camera that was set up very high circled above the girls’ heads. A closeup of the girls appeared on the LED screen behind the stage.

It seemed they were low on time as the MC began reading his cue card without delay.

{Only the announcement for the first place on the live broadcast Kpop concert chart remains! Neptune and the Sugar Cats, please present the points to determine which team will return with the glory of being first place!}

The LED screen displaying the various singers changed into a computer graphic tallying up the points.

 

It displayed rows for digital sales, album, broadcast, and live broadcast text voting points as well as the totals, displayed largely on the bottom row. Amidst the echoing cheers in the open hall, the row of points appeared one after another.

I had planned to quickly add it up in my head, but I couldn’t. The four-digit numbers scattered and wandered in my mind. In the end, I gave up and stared at the computer graphic.

A few suffocating seconds later, the moment the final totals were displayed, the girls turned to look at me with widened eyes.

 

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Comments 15

  1. Right? I click even though I KNOW there’s nothing there. If there’s even a slight chance I’ll blow up the site as many times as it takes. XD

  2. Thanks. Every time I read the latest TM, I click the next button and get slightly disappointed, because I just want to read more

  3. There’s still a possibility that their conversation was recorded with hidden camera.
    Either its the show’s gimmick or one of the girls did that. Thanks for the update! O(≧▽≦)O

  4. If I were there, I will record what sugar cats bitches were saying and spread them to the media, so people will know that they are shitty people.

  5. Hey what the this is definitely the smallest chapter of all. Except for the cat fight there was nothing there. Do i have to wait a whole week just to see the results. I can’t say wheather its cliffhanger or something else.

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