“B-but, we still don’t know if the Nishikawa who will meet Jiwon hyung tomorrow is the same Nishikawa who may have relations with Sunghoon.” said Suwon quickly as he realized the drastic change of expression on Jaejin’s face.
“Indeed,” Jaejin said softly while massaging his temple, “There are many people named Nishikawa.”
They silently looked at each other. There are unfounded concerns that arose which made them speechless.
YG Academy, 1997
Jiwon waited for Jaejin to get the camcorder from his bag, and said, “It’s hard to realize it if you’ve only seen it from a video match with HIGHGRND.”
“Realize?” Sunghoon asked curiously.
“Realize that he’s not as bad as the rumors you’re talking about.” Jiwon said while he got the camcorder from Jaejin, “And I think Danny realizes it, too.”
“Not so bad?” Jaejin asked, “Wait, let me guess.”
Jaejin and Sunghoon watched Jiyong’s movements just before he lost the ball and both shrieked with joy, “Sabotage!”
“Eung~,” Jiwon muttered. He was still busy with Jaejin’s camcorder, “I have to keep an eye on the game until it’s over.”
Sunghoon and Jaejin continuously whispered, “Hyung, you see player number eight? He just elbowed Jiyong!” Jiwon does not care about the game or with Sunghoon or Jaejin’s whispers. He’s only thought is why Jiyong does not feel any weird treatment from his teammate-friends.
“OH! PLAYER NUMBER EIGHT SUCKS!” Sunghoon shouted against the “WOOO” that came behind him, then Jiyong finally fell over because he could not keep his ball.
“You recorded it?” Jaejin asked loudly as he covered his ears with his hands. Jiwon nodded.
Just a few minutes before the whistle sounds and finally Jiyong waved at the basketball team coach, begging for time out.
“It seems so painful,” Jaejin said, “I assume he will be taken to the clinic.”
Jiwon is still watching the basketball game from the corner of the gymnasium and he is not so surprised to see Jiyong already in the stretcher, being taken off of the court.
“This is why I don’t like sports, people can easily be injured.” Sunghoon said suddenly.
“So you’d rather blow up the laboratory every two weeks?” Jiwon asked looking at Sunghoon.
“Good point.” Sunghoon replied with a big smile in his face, “By the way, are we going to keep watching the game until it’s finished? Jiyong has already been taken out of the court.”
“Emm,” Jiwon thought for a moment, “I guess I’ll stay here, watching number 8, Jaejin…”
“May I spy on Jiyong in the clinic?”
Sunghoon stared at Jiwon, an indication that he is uncomfortable with Jaejin’s question, and Jiwon said, “As you please. If you can, please find his weakness too, so we can persuade him tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Jaejin turned back and slipped into the back of the crowd and disappeared. Jiwon turned to Sunghoon who was let out a sigh and asked, “Why?”
“I think he wants to paint Jiyong lying in a school clinic.”
“It’s so scary, even if I’m just imagining it.” Sunghoon said with a shudder, “So, what should I do?”
“Please tell Danny that we need all of basketball match videos and I will cut the sabotage parts tonight.”
“Are you going to cut off all the sabotage parts by yourself?”
“Of course not.”
“Danny will help me tonight.” Jiwon said lightly.
“Jiwon, do you want to kill me?” Danny sighed when he finally finished cutting the sabotage parts from the basketball team match videos at Jiwon’s house.
“Then why did you sleep while I was busy editing videos?”
“You participated in my aunt’s project and made me sleep less.”
“Oh my goodness,” Danny said and slamming his body into the bed, “Are you still angry about that?”
“Not still, but always. Even for a hundred years later.”
“Even though you’ll need my help sometime in the future?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll know, someday.”
“About Nishikawa,” Suwon said slowly, waiting for Jaejin to look away from his computer.
“Somehow I felt that Nishikawa also has a relation with Danny hyung.”
“Danny? Ahn Danny? The former leader of the student council back then?”
“I mean, when Jiwon hyung looked for Sunghoon, he always asked about Sunghoon’s whereabouts from Sunghoon’s classmates, chemistry club members, YG staff and YG school teachers, but has he ever tried to ask Danny hyung?”
Jaejin paused for a long time, trying to remember something, “Looks like Jiwon did not ask Danny. Why?”
“Danny hyung has a strong information network. Don’t you remember how he can have such an accurate information to trap us all to participate in the boyband project?”
“Yes…I remember when he told Sunghoon about my topless painting habit. But I make sure no one is around me when I paint.”
Suwon bit his lower lip, a sign that he was seriously thinking. “I’ll try to call Danny hyung, maybe he has clear and accurate information than what we know about Nishikawa.”
YG Academy, 1997
“Excuse me,” Sunghoon said politely while knocking on the 1-F class door, “Can I talk to Ko Jiyong?”
Jiyong shifted his eyes from the comic and stared at the smiling Sunghoon who waved his hand, “May I talk to you for a minute?”
Jiyong got up from his chair, half dragging his sprained leg, and half reluctantly because Sunghoon walked too fast.
“Oi!” he said loudly as Sunghoon disappeared in the next corridor, “Can you walk more slowly?”
Sunghoon turned around and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m too excited. Do you need my help?”
“No, thanks,” Jiyong said, “Can we just talk here?”
“Well,” Sunghoon said, “If we talk here, Jiwon hyung’s all-night effort will be in vain.”
“Then, where are we going?”
“The student council room.” he said lightly, “Since the student council room is still far away, I think I should help you walk.”
Sunghoon turned around and helped Jiyong walk to the student council room and knocked on the door with his left hand, “Hyung! It’s me!”
There was a squeak of chairs sound from the room and a click sound before the door opened.
Jiyong is a little surprised to see the grumpiest person in second year, smiling at him.
“Hyung, rather than smile, will you help us in?”
“Oh,” Jaejin said slowly and helped Jiyong in. He put Jiyong in the nearest chair to the television, and said, “Please wait a moment, Jiwon is still working on the question”
“Eh? Sunghoon has not said anything to you?”
Jiyong shook his head and said, “He just kept quiet after getting me from classroom.”
“Damn. I’ll punish him in the training session later.”
“Training?” Jiyong asked quickly, “Can hyung explain what kind of training?”
“You can ask Jiwon later.” He smiled and turned away, went back to the corner of the room and began to dance with a certain movement. Sunghoon is nowhere to be seen and Jiyong can only sigh.
“YAH, KANG SUNG HOON!”
“You know that I’m afraid!”
“OH MY GOODNESS!” said the first voice that Jiyong guessed was a boy named Jiwon, “SO YOU ARE MORE BRAVE TO EXPLODE THE LABORATORY RATHER THAN EXPLAINING THE DETAIL SO WE CAN JUST ASK HIM STRAIGHT TO THE POINT?”
It seems they are continuing their talks in silence, because Jiyong cannot hear anything else.
About two minutes later, the small door to the student council data room burst open and Jiyong could see clearly, that Jiwon is still upset. He sat down next to Jiyong, and played a basketball match video on the television.
“So I think I should introduce myself first. I’m Jiwon, one year older than you, and I’m acting as the leader here. The one who picked you up was Sunghoon, and the one who opened the door, Jaejin, is one year older than you too.” Jiwon said smoothly, “Before we go any further, I want you to watch this video until the end.”
Jiyong nodded. It just a video compilation of a basketball match, but it focused on him and…
“Realizing something?” Jiwon asked slowly, “Player number eight sabotages you so it looks like you’re an unlucky captain.”
“Wait, there’s no way Jaewon would cheat like that.”
“But that’s the truth,” Jiwon said, “I’ve checked the video of the match during your middle school year, and it will disprove the rumor that you’re an unlucky captain.”
“Then what do you want?”
“Quit the basketball team and join our project.”
Jiyong stood up suddenly from the chair and stared at Jiwon sharply, “That’s a dirty way to recruit project members.”
M cafe, Seoul
“Well, well, well, for someone who was very private during school, I admit you’ve changed a lot, Jaejin-ah.”
Jaejin tried hard to smile but failed. His face was even stiffer and the person in front of him laughed, “Anyway, I’m sure you still hate me, just like Jiwon.”
“Actually, it’s not like that,” Suwon interrupted, “The reason we met you was not to discuss the boyband project.”
Danny tried to sit properly now and his expression got serious, “What do you mean?”
“We’re looking for Sunghoon.”
Danny lost his words, “What’s wrong with Kang Sunghoon?”
“You don’t know either?” Jaejin asked quickly.
“I only know that Sunghoon is moving directly to Japan, even before the graduation ceremony so…”
“Wait, you just said Sunghoon moved to Japan?” Jaejin asked, “As Jiwon remembers, Sunghoon says he wants to go to France shortly after graduation.”
“It’s impossible. In Sunghoon’s recommendation letter, it was clearly written Tokyo University,” Danny said.
“Wait, wait,” Suwon interrupted as Danny opened his mouth. “So as far as Danny hyung knows, Sunghoon is moving to Japan because he’s got a recommendation letter to Tokyo University, right?”
Danny nodded, “That’s why I wonder why people fussed over Jiwon searching for Sunghoon everywhere and made all YG Academy’s staff crazy. When all he needed to do was fly to Japan to meet Sunghoon.”
“The thing is, Sunghoon never told us about Japan,“ Jaejin explained. “He always said he would go to France after graduation day. The school staff also said Sunghoon went to France.”
Danny paused for a while. He looked confused for a moment and drank his coffee. Suwon bit his lip, looked at Danny and said, “Hyung, this is my guess, but I really hope my guess is wrong,” Suwon sighed, “Does all of this have any relation with Terumi Nishikawa?”
Danny raised his eyebrow, and said, “How much do you know about Terumi Nishikawa?”
“Danny, you’re hiding something aren’t you?” Jaejin asked, “Because you kept silent, Jiwon never slept well from the day Sunghoon graduated until now.”
“It’s true,” Suwon defended, “Jiwon has been treated because he has been dreaming of the same thing for the past 5 years and it drove him crazy. He has also been treated for a week after being deceived by someone who said that Sunghoon is in Guilin.”
Danny sighed, muttering softly, “It’s complicated, I cannot tell it at once.”
“Just say what you need to say then. Suwon and I are running out of the time. Jiwon could be in Saitama anytime now and meet a member of the Nishikawa family, just to go crazy because it turns out Sunghoon is really hidden under the protection of Nishikawa’s.”
“Where is Jiwon now?” Danny asked, “But, I think before I tell you, you have to tell me too.”
“Jiwon hyung is in Sapporo. Since last month, Jaejin hyung and I told Jiwon hyung to go to Japan as soon as possible because my girlfriend and Jaejin’s cousin saw someone similar to Sunghoon at Saitama Station. Fortunately, we have a homestay project plan meeting in some place in Japan. And Saitama is the last place that Jiwon hyung will go to.”
“And Jiwon plans to meet Myeonghoon’s brother, so he can ask about Korean people who live in Saitama through the Korean Embassy.”
“Well, we’re late,” Danny said. He was massaging his temple, “I never knew Jiwon was that depressed.”
“Obviously, we must know the relation between Terumi Nishikawa and the Nishikawa who will meet Jiwon hyung this weekend, and I’m afraid I can’t find any more details than that Nishikawa Terumi has a special relation with Sunghoon’s family.”
They fell silent. Danny sipped his coffee in silence and said, “Actually, I can help you, but I’m not sure this person will help you.”
“I mean, she might be able to help you find information in an unnatural way, but like I said before, I’m not sure she would help.”
“No, of course not. I don’t like the barbarian way.” Danny said, “Do you remember Sunghoon’s sister’s name?”
“Kang Yoonji?” Jaejin asked back.
“Don’t you remember that Yoonji is a former trainee at DSP?”
“You mean, maybe in Japan, Yoonji became a singer?”
Danny nodded, “I’ll get someone to help persuade people I know to find Yoonji’s whereabouts.”
“Are you sure? We don’t have much time.”
“I’m sure. 100%. He is our trump card and I’m sure Jiwon never noticed him.”
L cafe, Sapporo
“I’m sorry, but I’ve checked it many times in the database, there’s no Kang Sunghoon.”
Jiwon can’t say anything. His head is really dizzy now. Suwon and Jaejin insisted Sunghoon is in Japan, but the database said otherwise. He doesn’t know who else he can trust.
“Jiwon-ah, listen, there are still some possibilities.” Myeongsoo said, “There’s a chance Sunghoon changed his name.”
“But if he changed his name, wouldn’t his real name be listed in the database?”
“It’s another story if he is also changing his nationality.”
“Ah. You’re right.”
Myeongsoo looked at Jiwon’s face, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay hyung, really, it’s okay,” Jiwon said, “It’s my fault for not thinking about that possibility,” Jiwon finished the coffee in his cup and stood up, “I must go now. I have to meet our homestay partners soon.”
“Ah, you’re right,” Myeongsoo said then followed Jiwon to stand up.
“Hyung, I’m really grateful. You’ve given up your vacation time to help me, so don’t feel guilty,”
Myeongsoo patted Jiwon on the back, “I’ll ask for my friend’s help, in case they have the data.”
Jiwon nodded and said, “Good afternoon then.”
Jiwon rushes out of the cafe. His feelings were mixed, the more he felt that he was getting closer to Sunghoon, the more the facts proved that he would not be able to find Sunghoon. His work was completed before he met Myeongsoo, so he still had plenty of time before leaving for Osaka. Jiwon lost his appetite for everything, to eat lunch or a leisurely walk around Sapporo.
He chose to go to the airport instead, choosing to spend his time in the waiting room. Jiwon was looking through some magazine in the shelf when someone greeted him.
“Oh hyung!!!” he said hysterically as he hugged Jiwon, “Don’t you know how much I miss you?”
“I could be killed if I went to Japan and met my cousin who turned into an underground rapper.”
“Hey hyung, I just obeyed Aunt Park’s words,” Mino said as he adjusted his hat, ”After all this really fits my dream. So I don’t really mind being a little busy with my part-time job, after our family chose to stop supporting me.”
“Don’t tell me you’re still working on that construction company.”
“Of course not. Because I often go to studios and watch live performances of the bands I like, I was hired as a Lollipop Kiss staff.”
“You don’t know? Aish.” Mino said, stunned in disbelief, “Lollipop Kiss has never debuted under a major label yet, but they’re always in top 10 albums in Rechokoku and Tower Record chart whenever they released an album.”
“Some promoters in Korea had asked Lollipop Kiss to hold a live performance at several music festivals, but Yuki always said it was not a perfect time to hold a live performance outside Japan, although Lollipop Kiss’ popularity surpassed several bands popularity that debuted under major label.”
“Wait. You said Yuki?”
“Yes, Yuki. Yamawaki Yuki, Lollipop Kiss’ bassist.”
M Cafe, Seoul
“So, Mino accidentally met Jiwon hyung just now?”
“YAH! Don’t make me repeat the same sentence for the fifteenth time!” Danny roared in frustration. “Just check my phone if you don’t believe me!”
“Aish, my head hurts! Jiwon hyung still hasn’t told me and Jaejin hyung about the result of his meeting with Myeonghoon hyung’s brother!”
“Never mind, once he arrives in Osaka, I’m sure Jiwon will call us,” Jaejin said, “By the way, I don’t know who the informant was.”
“The one who should be persuaded by Song Mino to help us.”
“Oh. She is the bassist of the most phenomenal rock band in Japan. Her name is Yamawaki Yuki.” “Hyung!” Suwon said suddenly, “Yamawaki Yuki is…”
“Do you know Yuki?”
“Well, we don’t know her personally,” Jaejin said bitterly, “but we know that she is Jiwon’s exgirlfriend when he studied in France.”