“Dajoon is so cute!”

 

“Are… Are they our fans?”

 

Jung Dajoon murmured, bewildered.
No matter how much of a second-hand rookie he was, he would be able to get used to it in a year…

 

I also bowed in greeting next to Jung Dajoon.

 

“Hoyoon! Aaargh!”

 

“…!”

 

When I raised my head in surprise, a fan with a slogan shouted at me.

 

“Hoyoon-ah, fighting today!”

 

“You’re so handsome!”

 

…Me?

 

I murmured stupidly at the reaction I had never had before.
As I pointed my finger at myself and asked, they nodded.

 

“Hoyoon, when you smile, I like it, too!”

 

I couldn’t accept the reality and blinked.
As I was standing there, Kim Sunghyun pressed the back of my neck and said in a laughing tone.

 

“What are you doing? You have to say hi.”

 

“Oh… Uh.”

 

Not knowing what to do, I bowed my head.
There were sounds of clicking among the fans.

 

What is this really… When I entered the live hall in confusion, Kang Yichae teased me.

 

“Hyung, I’ve never seen you flustered before.”

 

“I know.
He’s always been so calm no matter what… The fan’s shouts broke him down at once.”

 

“…”

 

The members around me passed me by, adding a word.
They were flustered too, but I guessed my reaction was the most unexpected.

 

I still couldn’t believe I had a fan.

 

‘Is this  real?’

 

I was only beaten with eggs for being a bad PD.
The endless stream of goodwill was unfamiliar.

 

In my head, I could accept the fact that I had some fans with this kind of popularity, but I still couldn’t understand it realistically.

 

So when I was taken to the waiting room to get my makeup done and change my clothes, I still couldn’t come to my senses.

 

“You look good today, Hoyoon-ah.”

 

The stylist gave me a series of compliments while tidying up my clothes.

 

I could see myself standing in front of the mirror wearing an in-ear microphone.
Since it was my first time, I agreed with the stylist to wear techwear with this momentum, so I put on stage makeup and looked at myself awkwardly.

 

‘…I feel strange.’

 

The cell phone vibrated.
There were texts from Lim Hyunsoo and Joo Woosung.
And Seo Hojin.

 

[Seo Hojin: Hyung]

 

[Seo Hojin: Tear the stage apart]

 

[Seo Hojin: If you can’t, I’ll change the front door password so that hyung can’t enter the house]

 

I laughed.

 

Yeah, let’s think about why I’m here.

 

When I took a deep breath and turned around, I could see the members except Sung Jiwon gathered together and trying to hide their anxiety.
Jung Dajoon spoke with a nervous face.

 


“Hyung, we’re going up soon.
Get ready.”

 

“What about Sung Jiwon?”

 

“He said he’s going to the bathroom.
He’s a little late.”

 

“I’ll bring him.”

 

I think I know what it is.

 

I left the waiting room and headed for the bathroom.
I thought it would be just the right time to take Sung Jiwon to the stage.

 

I bowed my head habitually at the staff passing by, but when no one was in sight, I hid myself next to the vending machine in the hallway and whispered softly.

 

“Item shop.”

 

[Open the item shop.]

 

Various products appeared in front of my eyes, as if asking me to buy them.
As I moved my gaze along the products, the moment I found the one I had my eye on last time, I chose it without hesitation.

 

“Buy Cheongsimhwan.”

 

[Cheongsimhwan is purchased.]

 

[Consumes 300 points.]

 

At the same time, I slightly clenched my hand and opened it, then I found a small cheongsimhwan piled up on a gold leaf in my hand.

 

Wow, it was amazing.

 

After taking a look around, I pulled out a bottle of water from the vending machine and went to Sung Jiwon.

 

‘As expected.’

 

I found him.
On the stairs right next to the bathroom, I found Sung Jiwon whose complexion was pale.

 

“…Uh.”

 

After sighing heavily, Sung Jiwon smiled awkwardly when our eyes met.

 

“Hoyoon, you’re here?”

 

“What are you doing? Are you not coming?”

 

“Ah… I’m just a little nervous.”

 

I don’t think you’re just a little nervous.

 

With his face bleached so white, you’d think it was Sung Jiwon who went to the emergency room, not me.

 

“Sorry… I’ll make sure there’s no damage to the team.”

 

I sat down beside him without a word.
There was still some time left.
Seeing Sung Jiwon muttering helplessly, I thought the showcase would be ruined if we didn’t resolve this.

 

Even his breathing was a little short of breath.
His breathing was unstable, as if he would collapse at any moment.
I looked at him calmly.

 

Ring!

 

[Comfort Sung Jiwon and finish the showcase safely!

 

Sung Jiwon is tired from being a trainee for a long time.

 

He’s very nervous about his sudden luck.

 

Comfort Sung Jiwon 0/1

 

Finishing the showcase safely 0/1

 

If successful: Charm 30, Dance 10, Vocal 10

 

If you fail: Charm -50, Dance -30, Vocal -30]

 

‘Fix the failure balance, you bastard.’

 

“Hey.”

 

I handed out the cheongsimhwan and water to Sung Jiwon.
Sung Jiwon frowned slightly.

 

“Eat it.
It’s cheongshimhwan.”

 

“…How did you know I was nervous?”

 

“Of course I knew, you’ve been making it so obvious.”

 

He was like that during the recording.
A guy who did well during practice was suddenly struggling when it came to the actual match, as if he had trauma.


 

“I don’t need it.”

 

“Just eat.”

 

“No, I am fine–cough!”

 

It was expensive.

 

I threw it into Sung Jiwon’s mouth as he was talking.
It went in properly.
I had experience because I nursed sick Seo Hojin when he was young.

 

When Sung Jiwon couldn’t close his mouth because he was so dumbfounded, I quickly handed him the water.

 

He couldn’t spit out what came into his mouth, so Sung Jiwon glared at me with a slightly unfair expression as I forced him to swallow the water I handed to him.

 

“…You feed me in a very strange way.”

 

“I have a dongsaeng.
If I throw things like this as if feeding a dog, he will eat it.”

 

“You mean I’m a dog?”

 

I looked at Sung Jiwon as I talked about such a trivial story.

 

[Sung Jiwon’s nervousness is gone!]

 

It seemed to be working.
His breathing seemed to have returned to normal.
Sung Jiwon blinked.

 

“This is good.
What’s this? Is it the placebo effect?”

 

“That’s great.”

 

Objectively, Sung Jiwon was the best among us.
We have to keep him together somehow so that our showcase could end safely.
Sung Jiwon showed a weak smile that looked as though it would crumble.

 

“You really don’t get nervous.”

 

“I am nervous, too.”

 

“What? No way.”

 

I brushed the nape of my neck.

 

“Really, I’m trying not to make it obvious.”

 

“Haha, but it’s good that you really don’t look nervous.”

 

“Why are you so nervous?”

 

Sung Jiwon had everything.
As much as he had a long trainee life, Sung Jiwon was the most popular and well-balanced member of our team.

 

Sung Jiwon hesitated whether he should speak or not, then he let out a deep sigh.

 

“This is a first for us… It’s a showcase that can be the last.”

 

“Hn.”

 

“I’m afraid I’ll fail.
It’s not something you want to hear at times like this, but…”

 

I didn’t think so.
I just listened to Sung Jiwon without saying a word.

 

“I’ve been a trainee for a long time.
I have had many opportunities like that… Everything ended badly.
I’m scared that this luck will disappear soon.”

 

I knew what this was about.
Sung Jiwon had only learned failures over and over again rather than success.
Every time he wanted to take a step forward, he was pushed back a hundred steps, and even if he tried to open the door to success, that door was forcibly closed.

 

That’s why Sung Jiwon was afraid to take that step.
He was afraid this last chance would be closed again.

 

I knew that feeling.
A little too well.

 

“….”

 

“… Sorry, um, I said useless things.
Somehow I don’t think you’ve ever failed, so I just told you.”

 

“It wasn’t always smooth for me either.”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you want to see it?”

 

Before Sung Jiwon could respond, I raised my arm.
Sung Jiwon looked at me in bewilderment.

 

“W-What are you doing?”

 

* * *

1. Stretched out your feet while looking for a place to lie down = thinking of the results in advance when doing something.

 

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