Kang Ichae and Lim Hyeonsu exchanged flashy high-five like those seen in the so-called hip scene, and then they began to talk about something I didn’t know.
“When did you two become so close?”
“Wow, look at that!”
“Oh no, we’re late, we’re late.”
They threw jokes at each other and giggled… They were inseparable, inseparable indeed.
Lim Hyeonsu clicked her tongue.
“During Shining Star, I took Kang Ichae as my first disciple.”
I wasn’t interested.
As I nodded with a bored face, Kang Ichae shyly covered his blushing cheeks with both hands.
“Are you jealous?”
Of course, I ignored him.
I led the remaining members, who were still huddled together, to the sofa and brought up the main topic.
“We need to revise our title track.”
“What about the money?”
“How about a talent donation?”
“Do you want to die?”
After scolding him once, Lim Hyeonsu trembled as if memories of being bullied in the past came flooding back.
I shrugged my shoulders and handed her a piece of paper.
“This is the contract.
Write your bank account number here.
Please write your desired amount in the memo section.”
Lim Hyeonsu’s eyes widened in surprise.
Then she gasped and touched her forehead as if she was shocked.
Did I just get surprised because Seo Hoyun said he’d give me money?”
“Even a blue toad has turned over….”
Yeah, just hurry up and sign the contract.
As I silently crossed my arms and stared at her, Lim Hyeonsu continuously muttered curses while slowly writing the contract.
Jeong Dajun, next to her, looked puzzled.
“Huh? Money? I thought it was a given….”
“Let’s get started.”
I handed him some candy in a flash and told him to be quiet.
“Alright, let’s listen to it again.”
This album was another single.
It was only natural.
There’s no time to make a full album with multiple tracks.
Lim Hyeonsu played the song that was scheduled to be the next title track.
Jeong Dajun hummed the same tune he had hummed on the V-Live.
It was good as it is, but…
It has to be better.
The next song must be amazing.
After Shining Star reached number one, our group received numerous requests to appear on various entertainment shows thanks to our increased popularity and recognition.
Honestly, we wanted to participate in all of them, but there was no time to accept every request.
Even though we had to choose from our schedule, the priority was still our comeback.
Since we had to reject so many entertainment shows, our song had to be even better.
“How about mixing just the chorus part of the second verse like this… What do you think?”
“…Oh, it’s good?”
In this regard, Kang Ichae was excellent.
He had a natural talent for creating addictive melodies.
Ah! Kang Ichae…
This useful kid.
As I looked at him fondly, Lim Hyeonsu, who was quietly watching Kang Ichae, suddenly asked,
“When is the deadline?”
“It’s in a week.
We’re making a comeback in three weeks.”
“Wow, that’s really fast.”
“Can’t you see the company’s intention to take advantage of the timing and suck up all the benefits?”
“You’re always the same, which is great.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Kang Ichae and Lim Hyeonsu effortlessly progressed through the song revision process on their own.
Now, what I had to do…
“Why are you staring so intently?”
My mission was to win over the remaining members.
Feeling my gaze, Kim Seonghyeon tilted his head and smiled.
The system window was still lingering at the edge of my vision.
[Main Scenario in progress…]
“…Is there something bothering you?”
Kim Seonghyeon is done.
During the last Shining Star broadcast, Kim Seonghyeon had already spilled everything to me.
In other words, his character was completely conquered.
At the same time, the main scenario had progressed by 15%.
Last time, Jeong Dajun and Seong Jiwon were also mysterious.
They seemed to remember me.
This was a simple deduction.
Excluding Kang Ichae, who hasn’t given any hints, it meant Jeong Dajun and Seong Jiwon were the ones to focus on.
The members of The Dawn had some kind of connection to each other, and the purpose of this game was to listen to each member’s past and help them overcome their grudges.
So, I’m going to finish this fucking fast.
[Seo Hoyun, what are you thinking so hard about again~?]
I ignored the slightly mocking words of the system window that appeared again.
If that’s the case, I might be able to return to my original world after finishing this task.
My original world.
The place where I lived as a PD, where all my career achievements were.
It could’ve been a trick of the light.
I cracked my neck from side to side and stretched out.
Now, all that was left was to speak.
“Hoyun, let’s practice together for a bit.”
“Can I eat this??”
“Dajun, pass mine too.”
So, who’s the next batter among the remaining guys? A system window appeared as if it knew what I was thinking without me saying anything.
[Not telling you.]
“Uh, I didn’t ask.”
I had to do all three anyway.
It would just naturally flow if I did the quest.
Otherwise, the scenario would somehow be broken.
First, let’s put out the urgent fire.
I opened the item shop.
There was one item floating above it.
[“Dance” – Flashing eyes, flashing physical vision!
– Dance absorption speed is 3 times faster.
– Experience points accumulate 3 times faster.
Validity period: 2 weeks]
I must buy this.
It’s good to be prepared in advance.
“Seo Hoyun, are you not focusing?”
“I have to.”
Lim Hyeonsu, who was concentrating on composing, asked while fiddling with something.
I shrugged my shoulders and closed the item window.
It’s good to buy things.
Buying was a decision, but…
The problem was where to gather the points.
“What time do we have to leave tomorrow?”
“Around 3 in the morning…?”
“Are you crazy…”
Everyone was exhausted from the continuous schedules, performances, and practicing for our new song.
I wasn’t sure if we even slept two or three hours a day.
“Guys, sleep! I’m going to play games!”
“Are you crazy?”
Kang Ichae, who had been flying around, was excited to play games after being forcibly banned for a week.
“Ah, young guys really are different.”
“There’s only a two-year age difference between you and me.”
I laid down, brushing off the slip of the tongue.
I’d rather sleep an extra hour than play games.
I was familiar with staying up all night working since my PD days, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t tough.
Why am I suffering here, trying to enjoy wealth and honor…
But there was nothing a slave could do.
I collapsed on the bed, set the alarm on my phone, and immediately closed my eyes.
If I sleep now… I can sleep for exactly 2 hours and 14 minutes.
I was instantly drowsy as soon as I lay down.
Just when I was about to fall asleep, the bell rang.
I ignored it and stayed in bed.
…It rang persistently.
“Who the hell is….”
I couldn’t help but let out a rude remark.
I finally took the call, fumbling for my phone with my eyes squinted.
“Yes, this is Seo Hoyun.”
– “Yeah, my very precious and closest little brother, Hoyun.”
I recognized that voice.
I suddenly heard a dog barking, and my sleepiness vanished instantly.
I looked at my phone with a still-frowning face.
– “…Seo Hoyun?”
It was Joo Woosung.
… Why was he doing this?
“…What’s the matter…?”
I tried to ask about the matter but quickly stopped myself.
– “Seo Hoyun! You didn’t hang up, right?!”
His voice sounded hurried and anxious, so it was obvious.
It was 2 A.M., a time when he could be in the middle of filming.
The sudden call.
The contrived, annoying voice.
My sleep-deprived brain quickly came to a conclusion.
This guy was filming a variety show.
“Yes, hyung… I mean, sunbae.”
I pretended to fumble with the honorific, remembering our last concept.
If there was any noise during filming, I’d definitely get scolded, but it was worth a try acting friendly.
It might seem like I’d throw up at the thought of sticking to Joo Woosung, but it didn’t matter.
If he gets annoyed, I’ll just have to become more popular than him.
Woosung laughed as if relieved.
In that greeting, he understood my hidden message that I knew he was filming a variety show.
I had a sour face as I waited for him to finish laughing.
Woosung then cleared his throat.
– “Hmm hmm, were you sleeping…?”
What’s with this mushy sentiment?
– “Hey Hoyun, I enjoyed watching you on Shining Star.”
– “Congratulations on getting 1st place.
As expected, you were great since I gave you my support.”
– “Ah! Woosung, really… (Shh! Quiet!)”
As Joo Woosung rambled on, the sound of people nearby trying to hold back their laughter reached my ears.
Hmm, I think I got it.
It’s a phone mission.
How were phone missions usually carried out?
I racked my brain.
About 30 seconds had passed since I answered the call.
Typically, you pass if you say the designated keyword within 1 minute or 100 seconds of being called.
So, what was the keyword?
“Thank you for calling as well.”
– “Yeah, yeah.
Bro, I don’t really want to hear that you respect me so much…”
He deliberately emphasized the word “respect.” This seemed like a hint.
A Korean word starting with respect… respectful?
My mind isn’t working too well.
– “And I don’t really want to hear that I’m handsome either….”
What kind of nonsense was this?
As I racked my brain trying to figure out the mission’s keyword, I suddenly realized what it was through the whispers of the participants in the brief silence while Woosung waited for my response.
– “Don’t panic!”
– “You’re doing great.
– “…I already know that.”
Was that the mission? I hesitated for a moment.
I could just comply and get it over with quickly, but…
Woosung had unexpectedly been good to me, so maybe I should help him.
Let’s see, it’s been 60 seconds now, and since they haven’t hung up, it seems like a 100-second mission….
I intentionally kept silent during that time.
I could feel the participants getting impatient through the phone.
I counted the time slowly in my mind and called out to him.
– “Uh, uh.”
After taking my time with about 10 seconds left until the 100-second mark, I asked with a serious face.
“Why are you suddenly acting like this?”
“You shouldn’t ask others about how you look.
At the same time, I heard an angry voice coming from the receiver.
– “Time’s up! Failed!”
The familiar voices from the TV show were loudly transmitted.
As expected, they were filming a variety show…
I yawned, connected my earphones, and left the room.
– “Seo Hoyun! You little—!”
– “Ah, Joo Woosung! It’s a failure, no more ramen for you!”
– “You knew it! You knew it from the beginning! You were pretending not to know, right?”
Yes, Woosung, you should live independently~
– “Are you close with Hoyun?”
– “I heard you have no one to call except the members?”
I heard laughter coming from my cell phone for a while.
– “Seo Hoyun, I’m greeting you late! Let’s eat, play, and not work!”
“Hello, it’s my first time greeting you.
I’m Seo Hoyun.”
I knew it.
“It’s a shame… If I had known, I would have been more prepared.”
– “What were you doing!”
“I was in my dorm.”
– “Weren’t you sleeping?”
“No, I wasn’t sleeping.”
I was sleeping.
– “I told you, just go back to sleep!”
Joo Woosung’s angry, resentful voice came through.
He must have really believed that I would catch on.
Woosung… Once again, let me tell you, it’s all because I took special care of you.
Why couldn’t you notice that?
– “It’s a shame to hang up like this, so we’ll give you a second chance! How about a speed trivia quiz? If Seo Hoyun gets five out of ten questions right, we’ll provide ramen to Joo Woosung~.”
“A trivia quiz?”
“Um, I’m not good at trivia quizzes….”
– “Haha, it’s okay! Do it without any pressure.
We’ll go easy on you.”
Do you know who you’re talking to?
 An expression that implies something very unlikely or unexpected has happened.
 This was a bit difficult to translate since it involved Korean wordplay.
The designated keyword was “존잘,” a Korean slang for a respectfully handsome guy.
In other words, they’re very handsome.
The term is a combination of two words: “존경,” which means respect, and “잘생기다,” which means to be good-looking.
Woosung used the word “존,” which is the shortened form of “존경.”
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