TM Chapter 99

Chapter 99: Splashing while Riding a Sudden Current (3)

TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir

Sponsors: Anonymous, Ryan, Agnishwar, PR, and YL


 

The girls seemed to be asking me with their eyes.

‘Is that real?’

I also wanted to confirm it if there was someone beside me. Focusing my eyes, I examined the totals again. While the difference was small, Neptune’s points were undoubtedly higher.

When I checked the fan seating area, that place had already broken out into celebration, rampant with cheers.

{Neptune, Congratulations!}

With a bang, gold confetti poured down onto the stage.

The LED screen was filled with their faces. Gold confetti stuck in their hair, they blinked with their widened eyes. If there was a mirror, I would probably be making the same expression.

The male MC handed Im Seoyoung the trophy. That might have been the switch as tears began to drop from her teary eyes. While Im Seoyoung was flustered and calming her tears, Lee Taehee held the mic first.

While smoothly thanking the W&U employees as well as CEO Baek Hansung, she paused for a moment. After taking a breath, she opened her mouth once again.

{… Also, to Sunwoo oppa, who has always been by our side, we can’t express how thankful we are for everything you do for us. I am truly happy that I joined such a great team. I hope that we can continue to working as a team for a long, long time.}

There was a closeup of Lee Taehee’s face on the screen. Seeing this, I felt like I was listening to her face-to-face.

Below the blinding lights, Lee Taehee’s eyes curved.

The camera pulled back to show all four of the girls on the screen. They were all smiling brightly. Im Seoyoung was smiling while crying.

Finally, I let out the breath I had been holding in.

Something heavy made its way up from my chest as though it would overflow at any moment. Damn. I hoped my eyes wouldn’t tear up.

Rubbing my face, I looked back at the stage.

The memories of nervously running around and pushing Lee Taehee’s song as a title track and tearing my hair out because the song didn’t rank as high as I had expected when it was released flashed in my mind.

I felt like I was getting rewarded for that right now. The edges of my lips curled upwards slightly.

I suddenly recalled the words Kim Hyunjo said a long time ago.

The pleasant feeling from taking care of rookies. The increase of shows they appeared regularly on, the increase in fans who recognized them, and their rise in popularity – the pleasant feeling that I created all these with my own efforts. How he said that, once I got addicted to this feeling, I wouldn’t be able to quit this line of work.

I finally completely understood those words.

I would never be able to quit this job in my life since I had already become addicted to it a long time ago.

While I was immersed in the wave of emotions, the MC urged Im Seoyoung to say something. He was obviously hoping to get a sobbing interview. Also, the probability he would get one was 100%.

While hiccuping, Im Seoyoung held the mic.

{I, I also, I… What do I do? Euaah!}

I told you it was 100%.

She sobbed while speaking an alien language. It seemed like all the hardships she had endured was flashing in her mind like a panorama. She was quite the sight as the gold confetti stuck to her tear-soaked cheeks.

Beside her, LJ grinned as if she knew this would happen.

{Euaah, Sunwoo oppppppaaa…!}

Was she calling out my name? The moment I thought this, Im Seoyoung was staring directly at me.

What was she doing looking at me during a live broadcast?

When I quickly gestured her to look at the camera, Im Seoyoung ran about while holding the trophy in one hand and the mic in the other like a lost duckling. The MCs and other celebrities laughed noisily when they saw her like this.

Just then, Im Seoyoung suddenly handed LJ the trophy. Then she said to LJ, who seemed dumbfounded.

{You said if we get first, yo-you’re going to tap dance…!}

{Did Neptune have a pledge if they were first? Then we need to see it even though we are low on time!}

Immediately, LJ appeared on the LED screen. During the six months I knew her, I had never seen LJ make an expression like that as she held the trophy.

It seemed that her absent mind had returned when she saw this, Im Seoyoung staggered back. Her tears had already disappeared. She looked like she wanted to take back her words immediately, but it was too late.

In the end, LJ’s staggering high heels stomped on the gold confetti that had fallen on the stage.

It was the scariest tap dance I had ever seen.

 

“They say that that wasn’t a normal tap dance, but a warrior dance Spartans did before a battle? Apparently, they never knew that they would get a girl crush{1} from watching someone tap dance.”

When I told her the social media reactions, LJ stopped packing her stuff and looked at me.

“Should I lie oppa down and do it on top of your body?”

“No, I don’t have a hobby of being stepped on. I don’t want one in the future either.”

I said while smiling when Im Seoyoung, who was carefully reading LJ’s mood, approached her.

“Umm, hey…”

“What?”

When LJ answered her, her eyes, which were swollen from sobbing, shined.

“I’m re-really sorry! I think I went crazy on top of the stage! A-are you okay?”

“Do you think you’d be fine if you did that the first time we placed first on a music broadcast, which we’ll celebrate for a long time, dummy? You will regret what you did a million times while crying tears of blood.”

Im Seoyoung’s face became as white as paper when she heard those grim words.

I left the waiting room with the girls a few minutes later. The hall was quiet. Since we were late due to their closing performance, the majority of other people had already left, only a few teams remaining.

Fortunately for us, the Sugar Cats were one of them.

The moment we discovered the Sugar Cats on our way to the parking lot, our footsteps became lighter. Not only did they become lighter, they seemed to bounce off the floor.

The Sugar Cats were tapping their tears with tissues.

“Girls, don’t do this here. Let’s go to the van first.”

When the chief in charge of the Sugar Cats urged them, the members lashed out while sniffing.

“How can we go out like this when there are so many people outside? So embarrassing!”

“We can’t control our expression because of how pissed we are! What will we do if our pictures get taken by those camera addicts?!”

“Oppa, can’t you just bring the van here?”

The chief disappeared into the darkness while clicking his tongue.

They seemed to have heard our footsteps as the Sugar Cats members turned their gazes towards our direction. Their eyeliner and mascara were smeared black, and their fake lashes were dangling off. I was scared their appearances would appear in my dreams.

As if she wanted to let out her anger from tap dancing, LJ made a highly taunting remark.

“Why are you worried about the camera addicts? It’s too late. Didn’t you check the broadcast? Your inability to control your expressions has already been captured and is spreading on social media.”

It seemed that the Sugar Cats were confident that they would be first without a sliver of doubt. Right after the final totals were displayed, their brightly smiling faces crumbled in 0.1 seconds.

Their changes in expression were so obvious that their ‘before and after’ expressions were edited next to each other and were being ridiculed as they spread on social media and community sites.

People commented sarcastically, saying how it should have been BYG who should have been more disappointed than the Sugar Cats and wondering why the Sugar Cats looked like they had lost their nation when all they did was put their spoon on the table{2}. Their insides would ache quite a bit when monitoring it later.

Han Saetbyeol looked at us as though she was going to throw her high heels at us.

“And your weird tap dance isn’t?”

LJ frowned, but suddenly Lee Songha stretched her hand out to Im Seoyoung.

“Unni, that thing, give me the trophy.”

“This? Why?”

Im Seoyoung took out the trophy she had carefully placed in her bag. The looks that fixated on the trophy were in extreme contrast with each other. Our side was happy while the other side was clenching their jaws so tightly that it felt like we should at least let them bite the edges of our clothes.

“I’ll be going to the parking first, oppa.”

Lee Songha said while looking at me before walking.

Still reluctant gazes followed the trophy. The next moment, the trophy began to wobble a lot. No, it wasn’t only the trophy, Lee Songha was waving it around.

She wasn’t just walking quickly, Wait, was she… tap dancing?

She was clearly expressing that she was happy regardless of who was looking.

Our gazes alternated between Lee Songha, who was already a few meters ahead of us, and the Sugar Cats. Then we erupted into laughter at the same time.

Han Saetbyeol screamed,

“She’s out of her mind!”

 

After that heated yet refreshing discussion, we went downtown. Since today was the monumental day when they got first in a music broadcast, we had to eat some beef. The girls cheered when they heard Kim Hyunjo was waiting for us with the company card.

As soon as we entered the reserved restaurant, Kim Hyunjo stood up to meet us.

“Did our first places arrive? Let’s see that trophy!”

Im Seoyoung raised the trophy and laughed,

“Oppa, you’ve already seen a ton of them because of Blackout!”

“Hey, this and that are completely different! If I knew you were going to be first, I would have canceled my other schedules and went. It’s a shame I couldn’t witness Neptune’s historic moment.”

While the girls were chatting loudly, Kim Hyunjo turned to me and asked,

“But why isn’t Gunyoung coming? Is he parking the van far away?”

Ah, I was wondering why there wasn’t a comfortable feeling, so the traitor hadn’t arrived yet.

Did he say he would arrive at around the same time as us?

“There were still a lot of available parking spaces. I guess he didn’t arrive yet.”

“What are you talking about? Didn’t you come together?”

“No?”

Kim Hyunjo’s expression became more confused. I also wanted to know what was going on.

“You didn’t leave the broadcasting company together?”

“No, I didn’t see him all day today. Didn’t he have something else to do?”

“He said he would join up with you guys after finishing up before the live broadcast… One second.”

It seemed Kim Hyunjo thought of something as he frowned and got up. Then he left the room after telling us that he would come back after a call and to go on and eat without him.

The girls, who were excitedly cooking the beef, blinked.

“Oppa, what is it? Did something happen to Gunyoung oppa?”

“I don’t know.”

I shrugged my shoulders at Im Seoyoung’s question. On the other side, LJ, while twirling her chopsticks, said,

“Well, his expression did seem a bit worse recently.”

“Huh? No. He seems normal?”

“That’s because your eyes are for decoration, dummy. He was different for the past few days.”

And I thought his friendly expression only dimmed in front of me.

There was only one reason for the crack in the traitor’s perfect façade. It was probably because Lee Taehee’s song took first place on the music charts and even first place in today’s music broadcast, jumping past Simon Lee’s song.

Well, did this mean that I completely won our bet?

I slowly tapped on my glass while thinking about the traitor.

He was someone who set up roots in a corner of my mind and constantly made me feel uneasy. He was also someone who made me suffer from being unable to trust others.

Since it had been half a year, I really did endure him for a long time. I only realized how great my patience was because of him.

However, I felt that it was time for my awkward relationship with him to come to an end.

While I was calmly letting my thoughts sink in, Kim Hyunjo returned after making his call. His expression was complicated, and I couldn’t tell what kind of conversation they had.

He simply shook his head when the girls asked if there was anything wrong.

“He said that he couldn’t come today because a small problem came up. He’s fine so don’t worry about it and eat. It’s a happy day.”

Waving his hand, Kim Hyunjo sat next to me. While flipping the slices of beef that were cooking deliciously on the grill, I asked,

“What kind of problem was it?”

“It’s not a big problem so don’t worry about it. Also, I have something to tell you.”

Brushing off his uncomfortable expression, Kim Hyunjo changed the subject.

“The girls’ schedules are going to be more packed and their personal schedules will get busier from now on, right? Songha will be busy promoting Cat Guardian Ghost in China for a while, and we’re going to have to take care of that.”

It seemed she heard her name as Lee Songha glanced in our direction before concentrating on the beef once again with an incredibly satisfied expression.

“So we decided to hire another manager.”

“Ah, yes.”

I had somewhat expected this since, as the girls’ personal schedules became busier, there would be overlapping schedules. We needed at least three people to properl… Ah, but once I settle the traitor problem, wouldn’t there be another missing spot?

While I was stuck in realistic concerns-

“Since the recruit will be starting work next week, teach him well.”

“Me?”

“Of course, or do you think I’ll deal with that again? Also, you… Well, there’s going to be some good news for you before the recruit comes to work so wait for that.”

Good news?

When I asked what it was, he simply grinned, indicating he had no thoughts of telling me now. What other good news was there for me besides a bonus or promotion?

While I was wracking my brains, Kim Hyunjo asked in a serious voice,

“Also, did you read all the projects that came in for Songha?”

“Of course.”

Of course, I read them all. I read them countless times.

I read the projects that were handed over from Son Chaeyoung and even the scenarios and synopses that came directly for Lee Songha. I carried those that especially caught my eye amongst them and regularly read them.

It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t hoping to see the future during this time.

However, I didn’t see any future regarding Lee Songha’s next project. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of what project would be a success and what would fail.

To be honest, there were a few projects I had hopes for. Scenarios and synopses that most rookie actors hoped that they would get. However, my heart hadn’t yet decided on a single project.

Since I wasn’t certain it would succeed.

Even PBS’s Mermaid out of Water and IBC’s Time Slip, just from looking at their synopses, no one would have thought that they would be historical failures. There were also countless movies that failed despite receiving tens of billions of won as investment and having a cast of top actors.

These cases were a frequent occurrence in this industry.

I inwardly clicked my tongue when Kim Hyunjo continued to speak.

“We need to decide on Songha’s next project soon. I was going to pick out a few and bring them up during tomorrow’s meeting, but which one do you like the best?”

“… Me?”

“Yeah, you. There’s nothing more to say about Cat Guardian Ghost, and the same goes for how you pushed Lee Taehee’s song, saying that you thought it would be a hit. I want to believe your discerning eye blindly now. Even the director told me to ask you first.”

Kim Hyunjo leaned towards me and asked,

“Which project do you think will do well?”

“That is…”

Kim Hyunjo urged me with a strong look in his eyes as if telling me to quickly say it.

Damn it. I felt like I had suddenly been hit on the back of my head. After hesitating for a moment, I licked my dry lips and said,

“I’m still undecided so I’ll think about it a bit more before tomorrow’s meeting.”

 


{1} A woman admiring another woman.

{2} Giving themselves a lot of undeserved credit.

 

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Comments 12

  1. I’m more worried that his power is on the fritz after his near-death experience. Maybe now he has to rely solely on his own personal judgment, which means the potential for failure goes way up. Just at the same time Gunyoung is preparing a counterstrike.

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