When Given Coal
by Rana Eros

This is my brain on drugs, kids. Take note. Anyway, Mousapi started writing her j-pop extravaganza, and she mentioned some k-pop rivals, and I of course was all over that like white on rice. Then there was some stuff with an international baby name book and perving on Akai Ito, then Eliza got involved and it all went downhill from there. And will continue to do so, like a freight train.

"We're moving up your Japanese debut," their manager announces, and Jeongsook really feels they all should be here for this, but he's the only one management pulled out of practice, which means it'll be his job to break it to the others. "There's an unexpected opening, and we want to take advantage of it."

"Okay," he says, working to project an aura of calm responsibility. Three months was already pretty tight, and they've only been taking Japanese lessons for a week. But catastrophic popularity changes things. As do rumors of upsets in the Japanese music industry (he doesn't ask Minhyun's sources, but they've never been wrong). "When?"

"Two weeks."

He's a professional. He only screams on the inside. "That's a little soon."

"We have every confidence in Pantheon," Manager-sshi declares, using the English word, and Jeongsook manages not to flinch by picturing Chinsung's reaction to learning they're going with English for their Japanese debut. "You'll spend this weekend in language lessons, then here's your new schedule."

Jeongsook stares at the little color-coded printout. Looks like whoever worked it up either forgot or had never been told that Minhyun gets mulish without regular meals, and Daewoong is rather terrifyingly strange on so little sleep. He'll have to lay bets with Myungja as to when Chinsung will just lie down in the middle of a photoshoot and start napping, but that'll be after Jaja quits bitching about the language lessons.

"We're spectacularly pretty and spectacularly talented," Myungja had said after this week's lesson. "Well, except Chinsung, but the rest of us don't need to speak the language. We smile, dance, sing, and they'll love us. Hey, do you think we'll get to meet Akai Ito? They are so hot."

That, of course, had devolved into a fake wrestling match with Chinsung, during which he insulted Akai Ito and Myungja with admirable even-handedness, in between Myungja's shrieks and giggles.

Jeongsook doesn't think this is going to end that well.

"Go and break the good news to your bandmates!" Manager-sshi says with forced good cheer, urging him up and out of the seat and out the door, then closing it in his face.

Abandoning him to his fate.

He stares at the closed door for a long moment, then takes a deep breath and straightens up. Right. I can do this. I'm Pantheon's Han Jeongsook, and I can do this.

And he can. Just as soon as he spends a little time hyperventilating in the bathroom.


Apply Extreme Pressure
Dong Bang Shin Ki
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