I stretched out my arms above my head as Yong-guk lead the way to the elevator down the hall. It felt so good that I couldn't help but sigh in delight.
"Oh, ya," I muttered to myself after dropping my arms. "That's the stuff."
"We overworked ourselves back there, didn't we?" Christine asked, walking behind me.
"We did. But we managed to come up with really good lyrics for the song."
"And it's all thanks to you," said Yong-guk as he stopped to turn and look at me.
"Nah," I waved him off when I stood right beside him. "It was all a team effort. I just did what anybody else would've done."
"Which is?" Yong-guk had his eyebrow raised.
"Helping out," Christine answered. I turned to smile at her and she did the same.
"Let's just hope we get to do the same with your piece."
"I'm not worried since we've the two of you around." Christine looked at Yong-guk and I.
"Just because we're songwriters doesn't mean you have to leave us doing all the hard work," I said.
"Ya, I know." Christine had her hands on her waist. "But that doesn't leave out the fact that you two are good at what you do."
"Let's not start comparing ourselves here or else some of us will point out things that aren't necessary."
"Like what?" Christine asked as Yong-guk continued to lead the way while she and I followed.
"I won't say," I said as I stared at the ceiling, avoiding Christine's eyes.
"You want to say something concerning me, don't you?" Christine was walking beside me this time.
"No." I could tell we were approaching the elevator, but I still stared at the ceiling.
"I know you do. It's written all over your face."
I turned to look at her and smiled.
"Okay," said Yong-guk as he stopped a few feet away from the elevator. "Christine, the ladies room is right at the end of this hall." He pointed down the other hall to his left.
"Thank you, Yong-guk," said Christine as she smiled at him, then turned to me and the smile completely disappeared. "Our conversation ain't done."
I shrugged my shoulders and she walked past me to the hall down the left. It's now only Yong-guk and I.
"I see Zoey and Mike aren't the only ones who love to have a go at each other," said Yong-guk.
"Christine and I only like to joke around," I said, "Zoey and Mike are the ones who really get suicidal with their arguments."
"I've noticed." Yong-guk turned towards the elevator and pressed the down button to summon it. "Looks like you've got your hands full with those two."
"Tell me about it." The elevator doors slide open in front of us.
The elevator was empty and we got in. The doors closed and Yong-guk pressed the button to where we had to go.
"Well, I think you handle them nicely," said Yong-guk.
"The one you should be praising is your brother." My eyes flew to him.
"Oh..., really?" Yong-guk looked a little puzzled.
"Did you see how he handled them when they were about to argue? Even I've a hard time trying to get them to calm down. But he did it in an instant."
"He is that way sometimes. I'm glad you also noticed."
"He is?" I'm surprised I guessed right.
"He has a way with people and at the same time, controls the situation when he feels like it."
"Come to think of it, when I escorted Lee and came back, he said you guys were about to argue, but he handled it."
The elevator soon stopped and the doors flew open. Both Yong-guk and I stepped out.
The floor looked similar to the one where the studio rooms were. But this one had a straight hall leading all the way to the end where there stood double wooden doors. I followed Yong-guk towards it.
"That's true," said Yong-guk continuing our conversation. "It's surprising how he does that."
"I'll admit, I'm curious too. I wish I had that. Sometimes it's hard to control my team, especially when they get out of control."
"If you ask me, I feel you've done quiet well with them. Yes, they may seem hard to handle, but you can tell how discipline you all seem to be."
I laughed. "You've no idea what you're talking about. When we want to create chaos, we create total pandemonium."
"Wow." He turned to look at me. "That's dangerous."
"Ya, if we aren't a handful, then I don't know what we are." I shrugged my shoulders. We were a few feet away from the door. "Collins does say we give him a hard time."
"I can imagine."
We were almost close to the door when it flew open and two young men came walking out with water bottles in their hands. When they saw Yong-guk, they stopped in their tracks and I could see in their eyes that they had just come face to face with their idol.
"Hello," Yong-guk said to them in Korean. Just saying that sent the two into some kind of frenzy.
They quickly bowed to him. Even with all the excitement, they at least managed to show their respect. I couldn't help but smile at their awkward yet humble gesture towards Yong-guk. Just by looking at them, I could tell they were young trainees.
After bowing and straightening themselves up, I noticed their eyes fly towards me since I stood right behind Yong-guk. For a moment, I thought they wouldn't recognise me. Not everyone can know you, unless you're super famous. But I was quickly mistaken. I noticed their eyes bulge out and I thought they might drop out of their sockets.
"Ahhh..., it's her," one of them with black hair said, his eyes fixed on me while absentmindley tapping his friend's shoulder with his free hand. "It's her!"
"You're Samantha Glasson - I mean you're Black Kitty, right?" the other asked, looking at me with so much admiration.
"Both are my names," I said with a smile.
"I can't believe you're really here," said the black haired trainee as he started to fan his face with his hand like he couldn't breathe. I noticed beads of precipitation appear on his forehead. "I'm your biggest fan."
"Me too, me too," the other said.
I chuckled. "That's nice to know."
"Wait until the others hear that you're here. They would freak."
"Let's not try to draw so much attention," said Yong-guk. "We don't want any commotion."
"Oh..., okay," said the red haired trainee. He didn't seem disappointed by that, though.
"By the way," said Yong-guk, "is the cafeteria full of people, right now?"
"No," the black haired trainee replied. "There aren't many people. If you're worried about other trainees, most of them left the place minutes ago."
"Thanks," I said. "It will be nice not to cause trouble wherever I went."
"Can we get a selfie with you, BK? Pleaseeee!" He pleaded, clapping his hands together.
I giggled. "Okay, if you insist. You wouldn't mind, would you, Yong-guk?"
"No. In fact, you three can take your selfies while I get the refreshments."
"Sounds okay. Hopefully, we won't run into people coming to the cafeteria."
"Not at this time," said the red head. "It's way past lunch hour, so the others are probably busy now."
"You two stay with her here," Yong-guk told the two trainees. "Don't let her wander off on her own."
"And where would I go?" I asked, confused that Yong-guk would say that.
"Who knows? You're a Toxin, aren't you?" Yong-guk gave me a cocky smile before pushing the door in front of him and entering the cafeteria.
The three of us started taking pictures. The two trainees both had their phones with them so they took enough pics with me. I also took some with my own. We did really weird poses in the end before Yong-guk appeared behind us. I was taking selfies with my phone, so I ended up taking one where Yong-guk was looking at us with a weird, confused look on his face.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
The three of us laughed as we turned to look at him.
"Sorry, we kind of got carried away," I said.
"But it was fun though," said the black haired trainee.
"It really was," said the other.
"Well, we better be heading back now," said Yong-guk.
"Were you only visiting, BK?" the red head asked.
"Not really," I answered. "We're actually helping each other out with something."
"Is it a new song?"
"You can say that," said Yong-guk. "We really need to go."
"I guess our fun ends here," I said. "It was nice meeting you both."
"Same here," said the red haired trainee, and along with his friend, they bowed to us and quickly made their way down the hall.
"I hope you had your fun," said Yong-guk as he turned to look at me.
"Of course I did," I said, also turning to look at him. "It's always nice to interact closely with fans."
"I get what you mean. Come on, we better get going before other fans find their way here."
We both made our way to the elevator and lucky enough, we found it empty like before. Looks like people really were busy at this time. We went inside and Yong-guk did the courtesy of pressing the button to the floor to the studios.
"I hope you like nuts," said Yong-guk as he looked at me before turning to look at the carrier bag where there weren't just bottles of water, but small packs of salted nuts.
"As long as they are salted, it's fine with me," I said.
"I think we had too many doughnuts."
"But they did help us think, didn't they?"
"You're right. Though it took a lot longer than I had hoped."
"We're talking about song writing here. It can't always work out as you want. If the world had it's way, Einstein would've relied on sweet stuff to help him come up with all those brilliant ideas."
"I guess so."
The elevator soon came to a stop and the doors flew open. We stepped out into the hall.
"I hope Christine found her way back to the studio," said Yong-guk.
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Well, if you aren't too careful, you might find yourself in the wrong room since you guys are new to the place."
"I hope so. But I didn't get lost."
We reached the door to the studio and Yong-guk opened it, letting me go in first.
"Good, you guys are here," said Yong-nam, who sat alone on the couch.
I turned towards the recording booth. Jongup, Zoey and Daniel were inside it while Mike, Himchan, Zelo and Daehyun were seated by the console.
"Oh, you guys are back," said Zoey who looked over at us through the window of the booth. She was removing the headphones from her ears.
"I don't want to know what you guys tried to sing this time," I said.
"They were actually doing a cover," said Young-jae who had stayed with Yong-nam at the table.
"Really? Which one?" Yong-guk asked as he passed me to put the refreshments on the table.
"Hello by Adele."
"Thank goodness it wasn't a rock song," said Yong-nam. "But it was pretty loud."
I looked around the room and noticed that someone isn't here.
"Where's Christine?" I asked.
"I thought she was with you," said Yong-nam.
"No, she went to the ladies' room," said Yong-guk. "We thought she would be back by now."
"No, she hasn't turned up yet," said Young-jae.
"Do you think she could be lost?" I asked turning to look at Yong-guk.
"I hope not," he said.
"Stop worrying," said Zoey as she approached me. "She'll show up."
"I think I should call her," I said. "Just to be sure."
"But isn't that her purse?" Yong-nam asked as he looked towards the blue chain strap purse on the couch a few inches away from him. "Her phone might be in there."
"Oh." I looked at the purse. It's hers, alright. I'm surprised she forgot to carry it.
"Come on, Sam," said Zoey as she put her arm around my shoulder. "She'll be here. Maybe she has to take her time in there, you know."
"Well, okay," I said, agreeing that I might be worrying for no reason. "I sure hope you're right, Zoey."
"Since when have I ever been wrong?"
"Always," Mike answered as he stood up from the console to approach us.
"You really need to be punched in the face, you know," said Zoey as she gave Mike a deadly look.
"You're no match for me, Zoey," Mike shook his head. "And you're a lady, so it would be wrong for me to retaliate, right?"
"Oh, please, don't try to make yourself look high and noble."
"This really isn't the time to be fighting, you two," I said.
"He started it." Zoey looked at me as she pointed her thumb towards Mike.
"How many minutes do we have until our break is over, Yong-nam?" Daehyun asked.
"You've ten minutes left," Yong-nam answered.
"Mmmm....," I murmured to myself.
"What is it, Sam?" Zoey asked as she removed her arm around my shoulders.
"I don't know, but I think I should go look for her," I answered. "Just to make sure she's okay."
"Are you sure?" Zelo asked.
"I won't take long."
"Then I'll escort you," Yong-guk offered.
"May I come?" Daniel asked as he came out of the booth. "I think I need to use the men's room."
"I'm coming too," said Mike.
"Ya, you should go," said Zoey as she turned to look at Mike. "Hopefully, you won't get lost too."
Daniel, Mike and I knew Zoey meant the exact opposite. We all looked at her, keeping our thoughts to ourselves.
"Let's go," I said. "We need to get back here within ten minutes."
The three of us soon left the room, heading towards the elevator.
"I hope Christine's alright," I said.
"She probably is," said Daniel who walked behind me. "But just to be sure, we better check. Maybe she got lost or something."
"That would be funny," said Mike as he snickered a bit.
At the end of the hall where the elevator stood, we turned down to the left towards the ladies and men's rooms. We soon found ourselves standing outside the two rooms.
Mike and Daniel quickly went inside the men's and I had to go to the ladies. Yong-guk said he would wait right outside.
When I entered the room, I was greeted by the white tiled floor and walls, with tiny light bulbs above, making the place look brighter than usual. I couldn't help but notice how spotless the place is. On one side were five toilet cubicles, and on the other, five white marble wash basins with one huge mirror above them on the wall. At the far end of the room near the last cubicle was a black waste bin.
I slowly made my way towards the cubicles and I couldn't help but notice that the place is quiet. Is there really anyone in here? Only one way to find out.
I approached the first toilet cubicle and the door's wide open. There's no one inside. I moved onto the next one and I noticed that the door's closed. Usually I would look through the tiny space underneath the door to see if there's someone inside, but I had the mirror by the sinks that helped me to see underneath the door. There's nobody in there either.
Now I'm starting to worry. But I told myself that there were three more cubicles to go and that I shouldn't lose hope. But the empty atmosphere in the room already made me feel let down.
I approached the third cubicle and the door's slightly ajar. I could still see that there's no one inside. I moved on to the next one and the door's open. No one in it, either.
There's one more cubicle left. And the door's closed. I looked at the mirror and noticed a pair of shoes through the space beneath the door. I blew out a sigh of relief when I noticed Christine's brown boots. Thank goodness she's alright. But what's taking her so long in there?
"Christine," I called out to her.
I heard her fidget and I knew I had startled her. "Sam?"
"I came to check on you," I said. "I grew worried when I didn't find you back in the studio."
I soon heard her move around quickly in the cubicle and the sound of the toilet flushing. The door to the cubicle flew open and she stepped out. Our eyes met.
"Are you okay?" I asked, I couldn't help but feel concerned. "Do you feel sick? Is it that time of the month?"
"Oh, no, it's not that," said Christine as I noticed her blush. "I-huh-" she looked down at the floor, while she scratched the back of her head. Then she shook her head and looked at me. "It's nothing. Just needed some time alone, that's all. I'm sorry if I worried you."
"Okay." I didn't take her word for it, but whatever it is, now isn't the time to get it out of her. We had things to do and time is of the essence.
"Come on, time is almost up and we've a song to work on," I said.
I turned around to head out of the room, but I stopped halfway when I noticed that she hadn't moved. I first looked into the mirror and saw her stare at the floor again. I turned to look at her. Now I'm really worried.
"Christine..., hey, what's wrong?" I asked as I approached her.
I noticed her bite her lower lip and she had her hands cupped together on her chest. She looked really nervous. What could be bothering her that she found it so hard to tell me? She and I might be cousins, but we've grown up together like sisters our entire lives. And she always confided in me even over the littlest of things. I can't understand why she isn't telling me what's up with her now.
"Hey," I held Christine's shoulder. She slowly looked up at me. "You look nervous. Is anything wrong? You can tell me."
"I don't know if I should," she said as she bit her lower lip again.
"Don't worry. Whatever it is, I know we'll work it through."
Christine nodded her head and blew out a breath. "Okay, I'm going to tell you, but you shouldn't tell anyone. Not Mike nor Daniel, not Lee nor Collins. And definitely not Zoey."
I raised an eyebrow. "Okay, I'm guessing it's serious. Tell me. What is it?"
"Okay." Christine rubbed her palms together and I knew whatever she wanted to tell me is coming.
"Jinwoo just told me how much he really likes me," she blurted out quickly.
"Huhhh!" My ears couldn't believe it. My jaw dropped and my eyes felt like they would pop out of their sockets.
"Sssh!" she warned me as she put her hand over my mouth and the index finger of her other hand was on her lips.
"What the-" I removed Christine's hand over my mouth. "What are you doing? There's no one in here but us."
"Well, except that there's Yong-guk outside..., probably Mike and Daniel too."
"Yeee!" she squealed. "Could they've heard?"
"What you said earlier? Nah," I assured her. "They must have heard me when I sounded surprised. I think I was a little too loud there."
"Oh, thank goodness," she sighed as she leaned her back against the wall behind her.
"Did Jinwoo really tell you that he likes you?" I asked, getting back to the topic.
Christine pulled out her phone from the back pocket of her jeans. She had her phone all along. She unlocked it and viewed the screen to me, showing her messages. I realised that she had quite a conversation with all the chat bubbles on the screen. But my eyes quickly focused on what I'm actually supposed to be looking at. After they had exchanged greetings, their conversation went on like:
Jinwoo: "I know you must be pretty busy right now and we're really sorry for not showing up today, but there's something I really need to tell you."
Christine: "Oh, it's nothing. What is it you want to talk about?"
Jinwoo: "I realized that I've been finding it hard to get you out of my head for some reason."
Christine: "🤨 huh? What do you mean?"
Jinwoo: "What I mean is..., I think I like you. Like really like you."
I ended reading there, fighting the urge to grab Christine's phone and scroll all the way down to see what she had said next. I looked at her and imagined how she must have felt when Jinwoo texted her that.
"He told you this when we were still in the studio, did he?" I asked when she powered off her phone and put it back in her pocket.
"Ya," she nervously answered. I could see she's blushing. "That's why I thought I should come here, to be alone."
Makes perfect sense. She couldn't text in front of everyone back at the studio. When it came to such things, hiding your emotions could be difficult. Everyone in the studio would simply have noticed it in an instant, especially Zoey.
"I really want to know how your conversation went, but right now the others are waiting for us outside. It will be fishy if we stay in here too long," I said as I smiled at her.
"You're right, we can talk about this later," she agreed. "I'm just glad I told you. I couldn't handle all this on my own, you know."
"I understand. Let's go."
Christine nodded and the two of us were making our way out of the room when I turned to her and said:
"I bet you told him that you like him too."
"What!" Christine exclaimed and I saw her face flush in embarrassment.
I didn't say any more as I reached the door first and swung it open. I found Yong-guk and my two brothers standing a few feet away from the ladies' room down the hall.
"Hey, guys," I said as Christine and I joined them. "Hope we didn't take too long."
"Not really," said Yong-guk. "We better head back before Yong-nam starts to complain about us being late."
"Ya, we really should," said Christine.
"What took you so long, Christine?" Daniel asked. "We thought you had gotten lost or something had happened to you."
"Less talking, more walking," I suggested as I held Daniel's shoulders and started to push him down the hall. The others followed and I heard Yong-guk chuckle to himself.
"Hey! Christine hasn't answered my question," Daniel complained as he turned his head to look at me.
"Some people just need their privacy," I said. "Does that answer your question?" I soon stopped pushing him as I dropped my hands from his shoulders.
"If you put it that way, then yes," said Daniel as he smiled. We continued walking down the hall.
"We really thought you had gotten lost, Christine," said Mike.
"Well, I lost track of time in there," said Christine. "Sorry for worrying you all."
"It's aright," said Yong-guk. "As long as you're okay, it's cool."
We soon found ourselves back in the studio, and we got there just in time.
"Good, you've found Christine," said Yong-nam. "You only had a minute left till we got started."
I looked at Yong-guk and we both shared a look. He wasn't kidding about his brother.
"Sorry everyone," said Christine as she went over to sit on the couch next to Zoey.
"No worries," said Zoey who soon gave her a hug, wrapping her arms around Christine's neck and drawing her close. "We're just glad you're okay."
"You're hugging me too tight, Zoey," said Christine, almost out of breath. Zoey let go.
"Let's get this thing on the road," said Zelo who was back to sitting on the floor. "Zoey said we can't work on the song since Sam knows the lyrics by heart."
I turned to look at Zoey. I wasn't surprised she said that when she herself was also there when we were working on the lyrics yesterday. But again, she wasn't wrong there. I wrote it, so I know it by heart.
The rest of us still standing went back to where we sat before. I prepared a pencil and pen in front of me on the table to write down the lyrics. The others were having mini meetings amongst themselves.
Before I started to write, I looked up at Christine who was talking to Zoey and thought about her conversation with Jinwoo. She probably didn't know how to deal with it, not when there's Collins' golden rule hanging above us like an axe ready to drop at anytime. She can't deny that she likes Jinwoo too. That has been pretty evident for some time now.
I smiled at the thought that Jongup beside me asked:
"Hey, what are you smiling at?"
"Nothing," I said not looking at him. I continued to smile and soon started to write on the paper.ns 18.104.22.168da2