Chapter 2: The Inspiration Adorable. Cute. Shorty. Annoying. Pabo. Too quiet. Rude. Baby. Type A showoff. Virgo. Frog Face. Nugu. These were all the words he had heard used by other trainees in his agency to either address or insult him. He didn't really identify with any of them. He didn't understand how he came off as rude or annoying either. Yeah, he came into the agency after most of them, but he worked just as hard. "Handsome. Manly. Talented. Creative. Genius. Prodigy. Why not those words?" He mumbled to himself while tying up his sneakers preparing for dance practice. "But no, they have to be shallow. They only see the surface and the fact I didn't even place in that talent broadcast doesn't help things. Birth of a great star my ass." He gritted out the last few words through his teeth while pushing himself up to stand. He knew he had to prove himself, but he didn't know it would be this painstaking. "Let's just get through this weeks review, Yi Jeong. Then we can think more about the future. Jalhada!" He emphasized the last bit with a pump of his fist. He had already done his vocal exercises for the day, which took longer than expected, but he was feeling confident about choreography practice. Yes dancing wasn't his strongest suit but after the good marks he received in voice practice, he was convinced he would do well. When he entered the studio, the other four were already there. "You're late, Jang Yi Jeong." Kyungil said from the front of the group, and motioned for him to hurry and join them with a flick of his wrist. "This is the last week before review, so we really have to nail this routine. That includes being on time" he said notably eyeing the tardy maknae. Yijeong looked at his watch with scrutiny. He didn't realize he was late. "Only by 5 minutes, hyung. I must've lost track. Sorry about that". He gave a slight bow to the rest of the group "I'll try harder". He didn't feel the need to mention his vocal coach had held him too long. The leader drew a sharp breath in through his teeth and stepped closer to Yijeong, "Try harder? Five minutes could mean life or death for this group. You'll have to do more than just try harder with just one week left. Don't let it happen again." He turned away without letting the maknae respond and yelled out, "Positions!" Yijeong made a face and joined everyone as they scrambled to their spots. They moved in unison to the music like a flock of birds riding the wind currents. Their energy and fighting spirit felt extra strong today. Yijeong thought they looked great, and was proud of himself for not screwing up in the five consecutive times they danced the routine. He was also impressed he hadn't passed out yet, but he knew it was going to happen if they didn't take a break. "Hyung!" He called out raising his empty water bottle. "Let's take a break and refill our bottles." The other boys mumbled their agreement and looked to Kyungil for acknowledgement of the request. He nodded and threw his bottle to one of the members. "Refill mine while you're at it. You have 15 minutes. Stretch it out." Three of them shouted their elation and hurried over to the water fountain on the back wall. "What about you, hyung? You should take a moment too." Yijeong said as he motioned to the others on the far end of the studio. Kyungil just shook his head and kept practicing some of the key points in the choreography. He stopped for a moment, eyed Yijeong briefly, and pulled 5 packets of electrolyte powder from his pocket. "Pass these out to the boys, and you now have 10 minutes." He tossed them to Yijeong and went back to his personal practice. Yijeong sighed and shook his head, but did as he was told. After 10 minutes had gone by, Kyungil motioned to the group to take positions again. They did, and they went through the choreography four times more. Sweat dripped, chests heaved with panting and Yijeong with the other three behind Kyungil collapsed in a heap. They all groaned and complained that they couldn't do another step. Kyungil ignored their pleas and kept moving on his own with a determination that Yijeong had always admired. The boys grumbled and called Kyungil crazy and packed their things before leaving him there to dance alone. Yijeong was the last out, and as he went through the door, looked back and called out, "We're leaving hyung! I'm turning the lights off. You might want to take a break!" He paused for a few heartbeats, realized no one would get through to hyung when he's like this, flicked the switch, and closed the door behind him. The others had already made it to the showers and he could hear their concerns about hyung's well-being. They echoed his own thoughts. He headed to the showers, massaging his shoulder as he walked. "I can't imagine how sore hyung will be in the morning. I hope he doesn't over do it." He thought to himself. He quickly showered and prepared for bed. But he couldn't stop worrying about Kyungil who still hadn't come out of that room. He threw on a gray hoodie over his white tank top and made his way back to the studio to check on him. He quietly opened the door and, like a mouse, snuck over to the far wall to watch. Kyungil moved with the strength of a stallion but the grace of a swan. Yijeong watched as every exposed muscle in hyungs body ripple under his sweat soaked skin. He found himself mesmerized by his determination and stamina. He was jealous. But he was also inspired. He wanted to show the world everything Jang Yijeong could be. A loud cry and a slap to the floor snapped Yijeong out of his thoughts and he instinctively moved as if to help his hyung. He saw him laying on the floor with one arm on his head, one knee up, and his chest heaving with heavy breathing. Yijeong realized that Kyungil still wasn't aware of his presence and froze. "I should probably sneak out while I can. He looks exhausted and pissed." He thought to himself while he quietly pushed himself back up. As he tiptoed to the exit, he noticed a bit of blood on the back of Kyungil's heel. He wrinkled up his nose in thought and after another short pause, quietly exited and quickly made his way back to his bunk. He rummaged around in the bag next to his bed with purpose, using his cell's screen as his only light. "I know it's in here somewhere." He thought, "and there it is." He pulled out what he was searching for, found a sticky note and a pen, wrote a quick message and laid it on Kyungil's pillow. He smiled to himself, removed his hoodie, crawled into bed, made sure his watch alarm was set, and fell right to sleep.
It's coming along slowly. I know where I want it to go - the getting there is the tricky part lol. Hope you enjoy the read. I'm enjoying writing it.