“I don’t care, I need to speak with him NOW! The four of you continue to get ready and don’t dare to disturb us!” He roared while opening Jiyong’s door and smashed it close a second later. The remaining four members looked at each other in fear.
‘For the boss to be this angry and Ji… this never happened before, even during the scandal a few years back he stayed supportive. Tis isn’t good!’ Youngbae toughed.
Jiyong started doing his make-up although it felt like he was trying to save whatever he could save. He looked worn down, tired beyond believe. He put the translucent lipstick on in a way that made him look like he was smiling… at least, from afar. He wasn’t sure who he was trying to fool, himself, the rest of the members or the fans, but he wasn’t going to risk his job or having to explain himself on talk shows by looking like he hasn’t slept in over a week.
He picked up the eyeliner lying in front of him, when the door slammed close behind him. He jumped at the sound and looked in the mirror to see who it was, although he already knew. A seething CEO appeared in the mirror, walking towards him. His feelings of sadness and anger made place for fright. The boss was almost never mad at him, why should he, Jiyong was his star, his masterpiece, number one on the list of people he respected. But now it looked like he was at the bottom of that list. Jiyong turned around and put his hands up in defense.
“Sir, I-“ But he got rufly interrupted by his boss grabbing his arms and yelling at him.
“Shut up and listen!” His grip hurt and Jiyong was sure his arms were going to bruise.
“You’re a piece of shit, you know that? Look at what you have, is this the thanks I get for giving you all of this, huh?! You’re risking it all just, for what, a warm body next to you at night?” Jiyong was shaking, hearth pounding in his ears.
“Sir, I never-“ His started in a small voice, but got interrupted once again.
“Good… keep it that way, if you want to keep your job!” His voice got low but not less angry. He released Jiyong’s arms and pushed him away. Jiyong wasn’t prepared for this however, he figured the boss would slap him at some point, not push him. He tripped on the chair behind him and landed hard on his right knee with his back towards the CEO and the door. He managed to stay quiet, biting his lower lip. It really hurt, but he couldn’t show it to his boss. It would only make matters worse.
“If you screw up anything or make even the smallest mistake, in public, on a talk show, during a concert or whatever, you’re out! And I’ll make sure nobody hires you. If I were you, I’d never tell a soul… unless you want to live your pathetic life alone.” And with that he left, slamming the door again.
The moment he heard the door slam shut, he let out a sob and started crying. ‘Shit, shit, SHIT! You stupid idiot! Why did you send that movie, why?!’ he mentally slapped himself. ‘Okay, stop crying, the concert will start soon. You can’t let them see you like this. They’ll want an explanation.’ He managed to snap out of it and get up off the floor.
He changed his clothes first. His knee wasn’t looking too bad, sure it might be a bit sore tomorrow, but that was it. His arms would bruise as well, but for now, he didn’t have to worry about that. The clothes for the concert all covered his arms completely. After changing, he continued fixing his make-up and hair. His eyes were still red, but he hoped the rest of the members couldn’t tell. ‘Just, keep it together. Finish the concert and go to the new hotel and sleep, tomorrow will be better…’ he told himself.
When the CEO left Jiyong’s changing room in a rush, the rest of the members tried to look as unsuspicious as possible. They’ve all been trying to listen to what was happening inside, but couldn’t. Youngbae heard some shuffling, like something moved or fell, but that was about it.
Now everyone was looking anywhere but their leader’s room or the CEO. That was, until he stopped walking he started speaking.
“Listen all, make sure he doesn’t screw up!” And with that, he left. The other members looked at each other, confusion clearly written on their faces. Seungri was the first to talk.
“Screw up? Screw up what?” He asked, voice barely above a whisper.
“I… I don’t know, I think he was talking about the concert.” Daesung answered.
“Hyung screwing up at a concert, that can’t be right…” Seungri voiced what everyone in the room was thinking.
“He’s a perfectionist, especially when it comes to performances…” He added and the rest nodded in agreement. They stayed quiet for the rest of time. When they were all finished and ready to get up on stage, Seunghyun got up from his chair.
“Okay, time to shine… Perhaps it’s better that Youngbae gets Jiyong and the rest of us already takes off. We don’t want to pressure him any further, I’m sure he’s not in a very good state of mind right now…” Daesung agreed with his hyung and they both got out of the room. Seungri however stayed behind. Youngbae knew exactly why. They were close, him and Jiyong. Perhaps closer than he originally thought… even if they both couldn’t see it. Youngbae suspected this had something to do with Jiyong’s behavior today. But he couldn’t be sure. The CEO being so angry made him doubt himself. ‘That is, if the CEO doesn’t know…’ He shook his head, now is not the time to think about this. He went over towards Jiyong’s door and knocked.
“Ji, it’s ti-“ But he didn’t need to finish because the door was already opening slowly, revealing a ready Jiyong. He cleaned up rather nice. You could barely tell something was off, that is, if you didn’t know him. Normally Jiyong gets all hyped up before a concert, smiling, dancing and goofing around in their dressing rooms. This Jiyong looked beat down, vulnerable and ashamed of himself for some reason. He tried to avoid any eye contact, but Youngbae could see the redness of his eyes all too well. The make-up tried to hide any flaw, but unless Jiyong started smiling, the fans knew something would be wrong.
Jiyong cleared his throat, trying to break the hold up. But Youngbae was worried, more so than an hour ago. Jiyong wasn’t having any of it and walked away towards the exit when Youngbae tried to stop him with his hands. Jiyong flinched when his friend’s hand came in contact with his pre-bruised arm.
“Ji” Youngbae whispered, looking at Jiyong, clearly worried. But he didn’t look back or responded. He pulled himself loose and walked away while ignoring the next person he encountered, Seungri. Seungri didn’t find the courage to stop him. It wasn’t the time to do so neither. But when Jiyong disappeared from their vision, Seungri voiced his worries.
“He’s been crying…” Seungri sighed while looking at Youngbae.
“Yeah… I know…” Youngbae replied.
“I wonder what happened? This is anything but normal…” But when Youngbae didn’t answer, Seungri looked at his hyung and saw something besides worry: realization.
“Wait, do you know what happened, hyung?! Please, tell me!” Seungri nearly shouted.
“I… No, it’s just a hunch, probably not what’s happening… Besides, if I’m right, you’re gonna have to ask him yourself…” Youngbae explained. Seungri wanted to say something, but was cut off.
“Really, now’s not the time. Ask him later, when he calms down… whenever that is… Come on, the fans are waiting.” And with that, they both left as well.
The concert went surprisingly well. Jiyong gave his all, just like he always did. Even during the MC moments, all went better than the four of them expected. Jiyong participated to a certain level and smiled and acted cute towards the fans. They couldn’t see that his smile was fake and forced, luckily.
Towards the ending, Jiyong slipped on stage and landed on his knee while standing next to Seungri. It was just a minor fall, nothing that normally would hurt, but Seungri could clearly see that his hyung was in pain. Jiyong decided to ignore the worried looks he got and carried on with the song. He wasn’t having any pity… He couldn’t without breaking down.
At the end, he made sure to leave the stage first so he wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. The fans were calling his name, but he decided that returning wasn’t an option. He could hear Seungri saying something in the line of “hyung really needs to go to the bathroom” which made the fans laugh. He was thankful for his maknae. He realize a while ago that when things go south, Seungri’s always there for him. He might be a handful sometimes, but he’s a really good friend as well. ‘Friend?...’ perhaps it would be better that Seungri was mad at him instead of concerned. He had a way of getting people to open up when asked… and Jiyong wasn’t planning on doing that.
Once in his private room, he sat down on his chair, trying to calm down. He had to get out of here. He changed rather quickly after that and left, or at least he tried to. Youngbae was already in the other room, intentionally blocking the exit.
“You’re going to run away again?” Youngbae demanded, his voice no longer leaving room to argue.
“Because I’m not letting you.” For the first time this day, Jiyong looked at his friend.
“I’m just going to take a cab to our new hotel, if you don’t mind. I’m tired.” Jiyong spat, voice filled with venom. He felt cornered once again. But that didn’t stop Youngbae from grabbing his arm again, stopping him right before he could walk out of the room.
“What, I’m not allowed to leave when I want to? Get off!” Youngbae just sighed in response.
“I know…” He stated quietly. Jiyong looked up, not sure what he meant.
“Ji… I know…” Youngbae pressed, making sure his friend understood what he was implying. When Jiyong got the message, he went pale, shivers running over his body. ‘Oh shit, shit, fuck!! This can’t be happening! Why?!’ He was sure that his friend wouldn’t drop it now. But he couldn’t talk about this. His friend would abandon him for sure. So he responded the only way he could think off, with anger.
“No, you don’t, leave me ALONE!!” he pushed his friend hard so he had to let go. Youngbae backed off, clearly not looking for a fight. He used this moment to get away, out of the room and out of the building.
Youngbae would do anything to avoid getting in an actual fight, especially with his friend. Fortunately, his bold move confirmed his suspicion from earlier. He was certain Jiyong was only ashamed before, but now he just looked plain angry and scared. ‘The boss must have figured it out as well. I didn’t think he would react this way, however…’ he grabbed his cellphone from his pocket, entered a few numbers and held it to his ear.
“Hey,… yeah, I was right, he tried to leave before us… No, I couldn’t hold him any longer, but he’s coming your way…. Yeah… his arm seems painful also, so make sure you take a look at that as well… I know, but leaving him alone right now won’t work either. He got quite aggressive… Just, I don’t know, try to get him to talk, it’s the best thing for both him and us… Okay, see you later.”
The cab ride cooled him down a bit. He tried to keep his mind from going back to what just happened. He almost attacked his best friend. He had a feeling before all this that Youngbae knew, but now he’s sure. His friend knew and still tried to help him. ‘So, he wasn’t really upset then? That’s the first good thing that happened today… wait, that’s not true…’ It wasn’t. All the band members were worried and cared… and he acted like a total ass. But he still wouldn’t tell anyone. He planned not to talk about it, not even with Youngbae.
He distracted himself from his thoughts by looking at the letter confirming their booking at the new hotel. They got suite for 5 persons, 3 bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room and kitchen. He’d have to share the bedroom with Seungri, Seunghyun and Daesung got a room and Youngbae got a room for him alone. It’s been like this forever. Youngbae snores and Seungri together with either Seunghyun or Daesung would end up in a fight. Jiyong chuckled at the mental pictures. He normally didn’t mind sharing with Seungri, they actually had very nice conversations and seem to get along great. They’ve gotten closer over the past few months and he really appreciated his company. ‘I’ve treated them all like shit today.’ He told himself he’d go straight to bed and apologize tomorrow. The cab suddenly stopped, which pulled him from his thoughts. He arrived at the hotel. He paid the driver and walked into the hotel.
With no adrenaline left in his system, he could feel how painful his knee and arms have gotten. He didn’t take a look at his knee when he changed earlier. His jeans scrubbing against the wound certainly wasn’t helping either, but he managed to get up the stairs rather fine, thank god the luggage would arrive later… but now, he was slightly limping. He opened the door to their suite, turned on the light and looked around. They’ve stayed here before.
He was quite hungry, but he figured the others would be here soon, so he better just go to sleep. He went straight to his bedroom, yawning in the process. But when he opened the door, the lights were already on.
“Hyung…” Seungri was standing in the middle of the bedroom, in between their beds, with his arms crossed. He had and unreadable expression on his face. Jiyong’s thoughts of apologizing and staying calm from before flew right out his head.
“How… how did you get here before me?!” Jiyong demanded. Seungri could tell his hyung was not only shocked, but his defenses got up again in an instant, leaving an angry expression on his face.
“Youngbae hyung had a feeling you’d try to get away again and guessed you’d come here… I’d hurried while he stalled you. He decided I’d get here instead of him. Seeing that you almost attacked him, he made a good call, don’t you think?” he said matter-of-fact, voice tight. He’d normally never speaks this way towards a hyung, and definitely not Jiyong hyung. But he was getting desperate for answers and tired of being ignored.
“So yeah, we’re going to talk, but first sit down so I can take a look at those injuries. I saw you limping. Youngbae hyung told me your arm seemed sore as well…” Seungri demanded this time which got an angry reaction out of Jiyong.
“You dare tell me what to do, I’m-” But this time, Seungri snapped.
“YES, I DARE TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO, BECAUSE I’M WORRIED SICK ABOUT YOU, ALRIGHT?! FOR SOME REASON YOU’RE NOT TALKING TO ANY OF US WHILE WE’RE ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU. YOU WON’T TELL THEM, TELL ME THEN! I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS! YOU THINK I DON’T CARE? I CAN ASSURE YOU I DO!” In all his rage Seungri didn’t immediately saw his hyung freeze. He was looking at the ground, fingers fiddling with his vest. Seungri took a deep breath once he noticed and calmed down.
“I care. I have been for years. For some reason you don’t want to tell us or can’t. You should know by now that there’s nothing hyung can say or do that make me hate you. Apparently Youngbae knows what’s going on and I guess our boss does too. If you’re afraid that I, or the rest of the team, will react the same way he did, you’re wrong.
“You don’t know that…” Jiyong mumbled, still looking at the floor.
“Yes, I do hyung! Youngbae hyung sure as hell doesn’t seem to mind whatever it is, so I can’t see why I should. That’s why you should tell us, or at least me. But first, we need to take care of your wounds so Sit. Down.” To Seungri’s surprise, his hyung did what he was told to.
Seungri got enough time to prepare so the first aid kit was already on the bed. While his hyung sat down, he rolled up his pants to look at the damage on the knee. The knee didn’t look too bad. There was an actual wound, but it wasn’t very deep. The area around it started bruising already.
“Hmm… it shouldn’t look like this though, you merely slipped. Did you fall earlier today?” Seungri asked but didn’t get an answer. He wasn’t expecting one. Jiyong was known for shutting down when he wasn’t in control of the situation.
“Okay, hyung I’m going to put a bandage on your knee, just to be sure. But I need you to stand up, sorry.” Seungri helped him up but forgot about his arm. Jiyong hissed slightly.
“Sorry about that, I’ll take a look at that after th-“ But Seungri stopped once he saw a dark blue color coming from underneath his hyung’s sleeve. He rolled it up without any warning, which startled Jiyong. He grabbed his maknae’s shirt to keep him from falling. The rest of his arm had the same color.
“What happened here?... Is… is the other arm the same?” Silence, which means yes.
“Hyung, who did this?...” But soon, Seungri’s mind did the math.
“Did… Did boss do this?...” He asked, voice barely over a whisper. The grip on his shirt got tighter and he had his answer. He wasn’t sure what to do with the information, but he had to make sure his hyung’s arms were in a worse condition than he thought. When he tried to roll the sleeve further up, he noticed drops of water were falling on his hand.
He looked up and saw tears leaving his hyung’s eyes. He had his free hand in front of his mouth, trying to keep the sobs inside.
“Seu- s-s-so-“ He tried to talk, but he couldn’t. Seungri was surprised by his next action. Jiyong practically fell into his arms and put his head in-between Seungri’s neck and shoulder, hands grabbing at the back of his shirt while silent sobs left Jiyong’s body.
- Keeping the closet door closed [Chapter 2]