Apply Extreme Pressure
by Rana Eros

More Pantheon insanity. Jeongsook gets to break the news to the rest of the band.

"Things in the industry can change very fast," Minhyun's older brother had told him when he was picked up by PS Entertainment after auditioning. "Better use that genius brain of yours to be prepared."

Minhyun's older brother knew whereof he spoke; he'd been a member of PSE's most popular and lucrative band. Well, most popular and lucrative before Pantheon debuted. Still, Minhyun's pretty certain even Chomin would blanche at the announcement Jeongsook's just made.

"It's a joke," Myungja says, after several seconds of desperate silence. "It's a practical joke. We told them we wouldn't do anymore after Minhyun stopped talking to us for a month, but they've pulled one on us anyway, and if we wait long enough, manager-sshi's going to come through the door with cameras--"

"It's not a joke," Jeongsook says, and Myungja points a shaking finger at him.

"You don't know! They wouldn't tell you! Trust me, it's a joke."

Daewoong, who's been studying the schedule he removed silently from Jeongsook's limp hand, finally speaks up. "This is all very elaborate for a joke, and who made this schedule? Did nobody tell them Minhyun turns into a cannibal if he's not fed?"

"I've never eaten anybody, hyung," Minhyun objects mildly, glad of the distraction of an argument.

Chinsung snorts. "No, but you've threatened to. Maybe if we work on your Godzilla imitation, management will decide it's better to call this whole thing off. Scheisse!"

"I think we should work on our Japanese," Daewoong says. His tone is mellow, but it's got that warning note in it that says he's going to start smacking people if they don't do what he thinks they should. He's also got his hand on Jeongsook's shoulder, squeezing tight while Jeongsook sits with his head in his hands. They all know that posture, and what Daewoong's reaction to it means; they don't talk about it, but they all know Jeongsook can present such a collected facade in public in part because he can fall apart in private and Daewoong will patch the pieces back together.

"Right," Chinsung finally says, straightening up from the wall and working the kinks out of his shoulders. "But first, we should work on this dance routine some more. Won't do us much good to speak the language if we keep falling on our faces."

"You mean you keep falling on your face," Myungja shoots back, but he's grinning again. "Not all of us are so clumsy."

"If I fall, I'll make sure to aim in your direction and take you down too," Chinsung threatens, walking up to Myungja and leaning heavily into him. Myungja staggers dramatically under the weight, then straightens up and pulls a face while he keeps Chinsung from sliding to the floor.

"You realize it's not much of a threat when you weigh less than Minhyun's backpack. I say we break for lunch."

"I could eat," Minhyun says, watching the way Jeongsook and Daewoong haven't moved. Chinsung snorts again.

"You could always eat. You guys coming, Daewoongie?"

"In a bit," Daewoong says, still not looking away from Jeongsook. "I want to clarify some things on the schedule."

"We could bring you something," Myungja offers, and that makes Daewoong look up and smile at them all, the brilliant smile that says he knows they're accommodating Jeongsook's ritual, and he's proud of how they always pull together.

"No, it's all right. We'll be down."

Which is how Minhyun ends up at a table in the first floor cafeteria with Chinsung and Myungja, who have apparently reached an unspoken agreement about not discussing the change in their careers. Instead, they trade insults with members of the newly-debuted S.T.A.N.D.U.P., scare a couple of trainees, and nearly start a food fight. It's the last that breaks Minhyun, and he reaches up to snatch a steamed bun out of Chinsung's hand.

"No wonder you're so skinny, you keep throwing away your food!"

"Or you steal it," Chinsung says, sitting down and pouting at him. "Give it back, dongsaeng."

"Only if you promise to eat it, hyung."

"He promises," Daewoong says from behind Minhyun, and Minhyun turns to see both Daewoong and a much less wild-eyed Jeongsook. He passes Chinsung's bun back without looking, then gestures at the seats beside him.

"You sit down and I can get your food."

"Yeah, he needs to pick up his second course anyway," Myungja says. Minhyun turns his head just enough to smile sweetly at Myungja.

"I was going to get you dessert."

"Trying to make him more sweet?" Chinsung asks with his mouth full. "Not going to happen."

"It can't happen," Myungja says in his cutest voice, fluttering his eyelashes and then crowing triumphantly when Chinsung starts to laugh. Of course, laughter turns to choking, and Minhyun rolls his eyes and gets to his feet while Myungja starts pounding Chinsung's back harder than strictly necessary.

Daewoong and Jeongsook are too involved in helping make sure Chinsung doesn't die in the middle of the cafeteria to give Minhyun their orders, but he knows their tastes well enough. He's paid close attention since their unit was formed. It's all part of being prepared.

He thinks--he hopes--it'll be enough.


A Hint of Shine
Dong Bang Shin Ki
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