Genre: Realistic Fiction; Angst; Friendship.
Summary: Four times in which Seunghoon cries. The first time, Seungyoon notices.
Author's Note: I've had intense 2seung feels ever since Winner TV episode 9. This was the result of me trying to figure out how their stories are intertwined. The meaning of the number four refers to how Seunghoon and Seungyoon both placed fourth on their respective audition programs (Super Star K2 and KpopStar). So I thought it would be fitting to post this story in four parts. This is Part I.
April 4, 2004. Korean National Youth Talent Competition, Regional Finals.
“Hyung…” Minjoon timidly broke the silence. “When do you think he’ll stop crying?”
Standing by the far left corner of the gymnasium, the three other dancers of the dance crew had already watched him cry for about ten minutes straight.
(Standing by the far right corner of the gymnasium, another boy did the same.)
Lee Seunghoon’s mind was numb and his body felt completely paralyzed. He kept his head down, focusing all of his sight on the surface of the dilapidated wooden floors of the gymnasium, examining every last crack and splinter, engraining these images – these images of imperfection, of inadequacy, into his head. Tears brimmed in his eyes, but he held them back. He couldn’t let anybody see him cry.
He wanted to avoid it – he wanted to avoid facing the crestfallen expressions of the dance crew hyungs, the jeering faces of the classmates who had come to support him , only to see him fail…even the comfort of his parents.
Seunghoon had tripped. It didn’t seem like a big mistake – all he did was accidentally step on the edges of his long, baggy jeans – one wrong move, and the entire human pyramid fell.
(How he wished his mother could have afforded to buy him a new pair of jeans, instead of making him settle for his father’s old ones.)
It wasn’t supposed to end like this. They were supposed to win. He, Minjoon, Sunghyuk and Howon. They were supposed to move forward, advance to bigger dreams, step foot on even bigger stages.
They could have won. They were so close to provincials. They could have become Korea’s next child superstars. But for now, they were the Busan losers, and it was all his fault.
"Shouldn’t we go there and…well, comfort him?” Minjoon continued quietly. "I mean he rarely screws up-"
“Fourth. Minjoon, we got fourth.” said Sunghyuk in his sharply enunciated tone, evidently unfazed by Seunghoon’s tears.
“To be honest, I’m surprised we didn’t place last, hyung. I mean, our entire pyramid collapsed.” said Howon casually, as he licked the tips of his fingers, each of them covered in potato chip grease. “It’s not like this one competition is going to cost us our entire dancing career, hyung. Don’t you think you’re being too harsh on him? He’s the maknae. He’s only thirteen. In fact, we’re all young. We can all improve, but you’re not going to give him a chance? We’ve been a crew for a whole year, and you're going to cut him from the crew just because of one mistake?”
Sunghyuk immediately snatched the bag of chips out of Howon’s hand. “You shut your mouth, kid,” he spat, as he crushed the bag and threw it into the nearby garbage bin. “You almost messed up your steps today too, I saw you.”
“Hyung, calm down.”
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if that link is Lee Seunghoon, then why should we keep him? His mistake screwed up our whole damn routine, Howon. And also, do you want to know who we tied with?”
“Who?” Howon said absently, as his eyes reverted back to Seunghoon, whose entire body was now trembling and whose head was now completely buried into his arms, on the table. “Which poor, tortured soul has also been doomed to the fate of fourth place?”
“That kid." Sunghyuk whispered petulantly, as he turned around and motioned with his gaze toward the opposite side of the room, toward the boy in question. "That kid who sang the English ballad song and cracked his voice.”
Kang Seungyoon quickly looked away, pretending he hadn’t listened.