“I will have both the plane tickets and the concert tickets taken care of, so let’s go.”
Lia was on a plane to South Korea the next morning with a friend from high school, Anja, who was a short slim woman with a yellow blonde bowl cut hairstyle with dark brown roots.
Lia was almost twice her height, standing tall at five foot ten, two inches away from exactly six foot when barefooted, and twice the width of her, holding a food baby that gave her a fine thing called a muffin top with thick thighs and flabby arms lined with pale lines called stretch marks.
Anja was no one particularly close, which was why Lia was quite shocked when last minute she came up to her with the proposal to fly over willy-nilly over to South Korea for a concert. The carefree attitude and excitement she had for this proposal were quite convincing, making it easy for Lia to give an answer.
Although the two of them were not particularly close in person, on Facebook, Lia was one of the very few who were pretty strong Korean pop fans in the area who had attended the same high school. That being the full extent of their friendship.
The one Anja originally planned to go to Korea with, another acquaintance of Lia's on Facebook, had to pull out last minute for last-minute personal reason, so she suggested taking Lia instead without Lia even knowing they were intending on going in the first place.
It was a great plan, Lia was glad to take up the one in a lifetime opportunity, it was just the kind of jump start Lia needed to maybe help her get out more and enjoy life outside of her house.
Only one problem.
Lia had no job. The last time she willingly saw the light of day was when she was in school. High School. As of now, Lia was a no one, growing like a parisite on her parent's couch, digging somewhat of a financial hole in her parent's social security paycheck by eating without paying a cent for it, taking up space, and seemingly taking full advantage of the fact that they were far too loving and kind to their useless, pitiful daughter to kick her out.
She was in a sticky situation with herself, nothing but excuses of uncalled for fear kept her shackled in her home, too scared to leave. It was all in her mind, and it was very hard to deal with, not only herself, but those around her. Her mother had no heart to shove her out and force her to get a job because her father also suffered from the exact thing, which was possibly how Lia let herself fall so far so easily, because she knew that she wasn't the only one in the house with problems, and she knew her parents understood her.
Only the thing was, her father lived his life, finished high school, worked, went to college, went to the military, had stable jobs throughout his years, earning him the retirement he was currently living with his disability checks and retirement money. He lived his life and earned what he had.
However, with Lia as his daughter, she lived with him, knowing of his struggles but he still went on, then there was her, who sunk so far below, that she had not even lived a life outside, nothing was on her rap sheet but high school. She lived as if high school damaged her and made her the way she was, when in reality, she just let her mind take full flight and engrained countless.
She saw the point where his mental health began to win him over, not the point where he survived and lived the most of what he could out of his life.
She saw the handful of pills he had to take three times a day to stay sane, not the passion he once had for art and the jobs he held in his younger years, chasing his dreams.
She saw the horrors of forgetting one of his medications, and how damaging it was to himself with both the withdrawals and the mental break down, and not the days where he once never had to rely on medications before.
She knew that he was still fighting, and still strong despite everything she saw, but she let herself fall into a deep hole that is almost too deep to even see the light anymore. All in her head, all alone, she managed to convince herself she was just as bad, but with no medications, and no real reason for feeling the fears she had. She let the littlest of things stop her from doing things she wanted or needed to do. With four years of degrading herself in her mind, she had hit a point it was very hard to leave the house unless she was dragged out. There was no joy she could find from being outside of her home, nothing but underlined fear that left her frozen at times.
Never underestimate the mind.
Her parents a gracious enough to let her stay in their home and take her time, but that backfired once she started falling to a dark place full of constant anxiety that had gotten bad enough that she would get a migrane from trying to imagine her future that was far too dark and nonexistent.
From the outside she was fine, living her life locked up inside, while inside she was in a constant hurricane of emotions, worries, fears, and pain from knowing she was hitting a point she will never live a normal life and she had long accepted it.
She was able to beg her mother for some cash to go and cover the cost of a one night stay at a hotel for this trip after some heavy persuasion and extream begging, as well as half-assed promises to pay her back. Splitting the cost with Anja really helped her out or she might not have been able to convince her mother to lend some money to her poor and absolutely pathetic daughter who was borderline desperate to go, knowing she may never get an opportunity like this ever again.
The last thing a grown woman should be doing is begging her mother to attend a boy group concert like some lovesick 15 year old, but even Lia knew she was not exactly mentally grown where she was supposed to be at her age, she has not actively been out in the world since high school, four years ago, she even very well knew herself that her mentality had not moved far from her 18 year old high school self, where she once used to take pride in her maturity.
With the world passing her by while she stayed in her house, others quickly passed her up in multiple ways and she had no doubt she was lacking severely in many things, including her maturity level.
Should that be something to accept or settle for? Not at all.
But in Lia's selfish mind, she had no choice.
Never in Lia’s 22 years of her life has she felt so happy to be the second/last option for plans she was never originally invited to.
the fact that she so easily was able to not think of one single bad thing in the heat of the moment and managed to agree to such a ludicrous proposal was truly what showed her that things were not at all as bad as she was making it out to be at all, but what does Lia do? Not even acknowledge that in a single day she can so frivolously agree to go to another country with an old friend whom she had not actually seen since school and had not had a single real conversation with her in years. How can she so easily agree without being scared? Just mention her favorite Korean boy group and she will be all over like a completely different person, specifically like a child bribed by candy.
Even though she was on the plane already, she was still having a very hard time believing it was really happening. Anja had apparently scored this two ticket deal off of an online contest, so that was how the plane tickets and concert tickets were paid for, leaving nothing but the hotel costs to be taken care of out of pocket, and food and any extra costs as well. They also had front row seats, as well as passes to the fan meet and greet directly after the concert. It was like a dream, and she can’t imagine the level of hate other fans are going to portray in the event they find out about their sweet deal and luck.
Anja was nearly bouncing out of her seat whilst Lia was still wondering when and if she was going to wake up from this dream, and when she did, how long it would take her to break down into the biggest panic attack of the century.
It was a seventeen-hour flight, and by the time they landed it was morning in Korea, making it clear that the jet lag from this trip was going to hit them hard when they least expected it.
The schedule was tight, they had to rush to their hotel and hurry to the concert that started at two in the afternoon.
In fact, they had about a couple of hours to spare before heading out, however, now that they were there, her anxiety had her thinking that they had to put a rush on everything to assure they made things on time, she felt far too strung with worry and borderline fear to relax in the lightest. The one thing she should have seriously considered before begging and pleading her mother to lend her some money and let her go.
How easily her mother gave in made her think that now this might have been an opportunity for her as well, to get Lia out of the house and have a taste of the world, something she knew Lia needed. If it was for Lia's well being, her mother was on board, and if a boy band was enough to ask for a trip to another country, then her mother saw to it that Lia go so she can find what she was missing out on and maybe grow motivation to finally get out more and get her life together.
It was selfish of Lia to even think about asking to begin with, but her mother clearly did not quite see it that way. A mothers love is something Lia needs to learn to stop taking for granted before it was gone and she regretted it.
Lia only knew a handful of Korean words and phrases that she learned from music and dramas, so the language barrier panic was real, along with every other possible thing that Lia could come up with to be scared of. Never in her life has she ever been this scared terrified of everything.
She clung to Anja through the entire airport, her luggage being dragged behind her with white knuckles, her carry on bag was hanging by the crooks of her arms, bouncing harshly at her behind from hanging lower than it would have if she wore it correctly on her shoulders. Her eyes kept flickering to everyone and everything, flickering towards all noises around her and any voices she heard clearly enough to know they were very close, she was surprised she was not stopped by security for acting so suspicious, it was suffocating.
Anja did all the communicating and got them somehow to their hotel, even though she did not know Korean at all either. Google translate proved to be all she needed.
Lia was sure that Anja was regretting bringing her at that moment when Lia began shaking like a leaf, her skin pale as a sheet of paper. She could tell Anja wanted to explore a little, but she ended up far too worried about Lia’s well being, she could tell all thought of exploration had left her mind right away and the only thing she wanted to do was get them to the hotel already.
When they finally made it to the room, Lia leaned heavily on the door, sucking in a deep breath, trying desperately to calm herself.
Anja was understandably worried, and Lia felt guilty for it,” yea,” she breathed out before sucking in a big breath of air,” it’s just my anxiety, it never got this bad before. I never left the country like this either. It seemed to have just slapped me at the airport I was terrified to get lost or lose you, sorry,” she said in a breathless, rushed low voice, peeking up at her through her tousled bangs at Anja.
Anja shook her head, pulling her zip up hoodie off, tossing it on one of the two beds available in the room they shared,” it’s fine, this was a last minute trip for you so it’s understandable you weren’t exactly prepared.”
Lia cleared her throat, pulling her hair free from its ponytail, letting it fall down her back, giving her more of a sense of freedom from any restrictions to help calm herself a little more,” well once I get past this episode, I should be alright, as long as we stick together,” she added quietly.
Anja chuckled,” as if I would go anywhere myself, that is scary. Do you have like pills or something for your anxiety? Did you have this in high school?”
Lia nodded slowly with a heavy sigh, finding her strength to push herself from the door to flop back on the other bed in the room, staring at the ceiling above her as she spoke calmly, her breathing and nerves somewhat collected for the most part,” I have always had this anxiety, but it got worse after school, which is why I don’t have a job or go to school, I get too scared to leave the house without my mother at least at my side.”
“So your mom needs to be with you to do anything?”
Lia scoffed under her breath, it sounded so pathetic put like that, it was embarrassing, but it’s the sad truth,” yes, I can’t, it is very difficult for me to go out without someone I know really well with me almost at all time. I hate that part of myself, it sucks. I have not seen a doctor about it yet,” she is too scared to go in fear that there would just be much more than just anxiety wrong with her.
Growing up watching her father take more and more pills as the years passed had her somewhat scarred, she loved her father, but she did not want to resort to pills, especially if they are only going to grow in numbers the older she got. She did not want to live that life. she didn't want to live this life she was living already, but she really did not want to live that life, being so heavily dependant on medications. The thought of it terrified her, like everything did.
“If it is as serious as you are saying, then you really should get that checked out, I can’t relate to you to that degree at all, but if it is keeping you from doing everyday things like you say then that can escalate and create a bigger problem in the future, can’t it?”
Lia sighed, it had already created plenty of problems, but Lia had done nothing to fix it which was how she got to this position she was in, she was blessed that at least she managed to make it to Korea,” I know, I keep putting off something like that because I’m too scared, and in the end, to everyone around me they just see me making up excuses not to do anything and just stay at home like a no-life freeloader.”
She could not even call herself a cave woman, because even people back in that time did what they needed to survive like hunt, cook and build things, all she did was eat frozen meals, sleep for excessive hours, and sit around the house and surf the internet, wishing she had a life she could boast about but has no willpower, no motivation, or any courage to make a life.
It was a constant fight with both herself and outside opinions from those who did not know her. How could she possibly explain that she was simply just too scared when she knew the only responses shed get are 'Face your fears and you will be fine' shrug offs. It was hard on her to not be able to find outer help from those around her when everyone has their own worries far greater than her own in their own lives and there is just no way they could understand her deeply embedded fears that haunted her right down to the bones. Real help called 'Therapy" and "Phycologists" cost money, and it could cost her an arm and leg since she did not have any real health insurance. She was in a pinch with all herself. She could ask her mother to take her, but instead, she avoided it and refuses herself the help she may actually need, and instead asks for a couple day trip to South Korea.
She already accepted her place, knowing she was heartless and rude to her parents who actually cared for her. Being how she was, she did quite hate herself for the priorities she chooses to put above other, probably much more important issues by ignoring the important things and letting fear driver her life.
After graduating high school, it was very easy to fall into this lifestyle of just staying home and staying safe. She did nothing physically, so naturally, she gained weight, and to outsiders, all they see is some lazy kid. She had nothing to combat that, if she had explained herself, she would only get the typical reactions, none of which have yet to actually help her. Then there will be those who won’t sympathize with her since she never went to a doctor and seemingly, from the outside, had done nothing to fix it.
She tied a noose around her own neck, and now she could not get it off. One wrong move could set her off.
“Then why are you here?”
Lia winced, glancing up at Anja’s face, seeing her curious expression helped her realize that she was not trying to be harsh with her question, she was just genuinely curious and had a mighty blunt way of asking about it,” because it was last minute and you made it seem like I was your last choice to get someone to go with you. You know, even if I wasn’t per say your last choice, I still convinced myself that you needed me so you would not be alone on this trip. I imagined that if I had refused then you would have come by yourself and that gave me anxiety thinking about it for you, so I convinced myself I was needed enough that I should do what I can to go with you to help you in this trip.”
She could not believe she admitted that, she probably seemed even more pathetic than before. How lame.
Anja sat on the edge of her own bed, glancing out the open window thoughtfully,” to be completely honest, you and Gianna are literally the only two of my friends that like Korean pop, so in a sense you actually were needed, or I might not have even had the guts to come by myself. I’m like you, only to a much, much lesser scale. The thought of being alone in a foreign country would have turned me off and I would not have come if you had not said yes. So you were needed for this golden chance.”
It was impossible to tell if she was just saying that to make Lia feel better or if she was being serious, but either way, it made her feel better about herself, and she selfishly took it.
“Thanks for considering me then,” she said, in complete control of her anxiety at that moment, she was calm and did not feel scared anymore knowing she was safe in the room with a friend and talking to distract her racing heart.
The two of them talked for the remaining of the time before they had to get ready to head out to the concert catching up with each other since the last they had spoken was at high school. Lia felt them grow closer by just talking, it was like they clicked instantly and it even further eased Lia’s heart to know that Anja was there for her more than ever. Deep down she did feel bad for putting such a heavy burden on Anja's shoulders, basically telling her that she was going to have to be Lia's backbone for her since she could not, however, she did what she was good at and kept that worry pushed down and tried not to think too much about it.
Once again, Lia’s anxiety jacked up on the way out, however, thankfully it was not half as bad as before, because she was with someone she was comfortable with and on top of that, Anja seemed really open to her situation since she was kind enough to take the time to understand her, she did not worry as much or show dislike when tall Lia hung close, nearly breathing down her neck literally.
The two of them took a taxi to where the concert was, she observed in silence as Anja used her map on her phone to show the driver where they needed to be.
The driver’s face immediately lit up,” oh, ah,” snapping his finger,” GBS-su” he said in broken English, repeating the group name. It seemed he was no stranger to where this concert was being held and who was performing. Being it was a GBS exclusive concert for their comeback, she imagined all of Korea knew of this concert considering the high scale of their popularity.
Anja smiled and nodded,” yes, GBS,” she said, putting her thumbs up with a smile, tickled pink that the ecstatic old man knew about them.
The driver shot a goofy grin over at Lia who stiffened and gave him a tight smile with a robotic nod. He seemed slightly disheartened by her uncomfortable reaction, making him clear his throat, looking back at Anja with a smile, passing her phone back nodding, letting them know he knew where they needed to be.
Lia immediately felt guilty, the atmosphere in the cab grew awkward and tense, and all because of her and her stiff reaction at the poor old man who only wanted to make their ride enjoyable and lighthearted. Somehow, all fear of getting kidnapped, stabbed, mugged, in a car accident, all somewhat disappeared when she focused on the poor man who was clearly trying to be kind in a way that did not rub Lia the wrong way, somewhat getting her out of her short anxiety trip.
The cab driver did not give up, however, and in his last attempt to dissolve the bad atmosphere, he plugged in his smartphone to an aux cord plugged into his radio and swiftly put on a GBS track, instantly defusing Lia’s defensive walls, breaking her down into a pathetic jiggling sack of flesh.
Why was she so simple, yet so darn difficult. She did not understand herself! It was highly frustrating.
To avoid stiffening, she avoided eye contact with the driver, but began to dance to 'Set It Ablaze' that the man blasted shamelessly, flailing around in her seat ungracefully. She did not want to ruin the new attitude in the car so she occupied herself with singing with her broken and completely inaccurate Korean, bouncing around in her seat, attempting to dance to it with a bright smile on her face. Her and Anja flailed and wailed in the back of this man’s cab, giving the man plenty of giggles and laughs to last him for the rest of the day.
She was glad she was able to enjoy the cab ride with the man who had nothing but happy vibes, she would have hated to show a bad side of foreigners to a Korean native, much less an elder.
They exited the cab after paying, pink in the face from the exertion of dancing in their seats, they both turned and bowed to the man, knowing that was the way to show respect and their thanks for such kindness that others may not be lucky to run into every day.
The man responded by rolling down the window and scream-singing out the lyrics to another song from GBS, 'You Are In Danger', and being proud of it.
Lia and Anja were laughing so hard they could not breathe as he drove off, not even embarrassed in the slightest about anything he had done, the biggest smile plastered on his softly wrinkled face.
When the two gathered themselves, they made their way over to the lines. There was a line for natives, and a line specifically for foreigners. The foreigner line was shorter than the other, but it was nothing at all that bothered them as they hurried to get in line.
They were escorted by a staff member right by the stage, practically kissing it, a privilege they only seemed to have as winners of one of the official ticket giveaway. Lia was buzzing with excitement, the cab driver had completely defused her anxiety, which made her feel momentarily invincible.
It felt great when her anxiety was not crawling up her back and over her shoulders, she was able to enjoy the experience to it’s fullest.
Anja came prepared with original GBS lights, passing one to Lia with a grin, making Lia grin wildly back.
This was really happening.
Before she knew it, the concert began, and like she has seen recent concerts online start, it started right away with 'Set it Ablaze', an older, yet still golden track, flamethrowers that lined the side of the stage blew out actual fire straight upwards about ten feet, while the back screen showed animated fire as GBS dove right in, starting this whole concert with a strong opening performance.
Her and Anja might have just listened to this song in the cab with the old man, however, it was undoubtedly absolutely nothing compared to the real thing themselves, on stage, right before her eyes.
Lia was so absorbed in the concert, she hardly could react properly, she just stood, staring with mouth agape, her GBS light in her hands down in front of her instead of in the air to pump with the music. Anja went crazy and stayed crazy for the entire concert, if Lia wasn’t so awestruck and completely absorbed in the performance, she might have just been a touch worried about her friend who was screaming and spasming beside her like a madman having withdrawals.
It was a 2 hour long concert. It was loud, it was perfect, it was just amazing. There were many breaks in between for talking to everyone and some small games that they had stuck in to keep things interesting while at the same time gave the boys a breather before their next song so they could give it their all in each and every performance.
The group of seven men were all happy and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves on the stage, whether performing or just talking and laughing together, which just seemed to make her all the more glad she came. Although both her and Anja did not understand a lick of Korean, they were able to follow with what was happening most of the time, none the less, it was that much more enjoyable to watch them being silly and happy.
Emotions and music were both a worldwide language that at least Lia could understand and see clearly, making it all worth it no matter how much she did not know the words or jokes they might have said verbally.
When the concert itself was over, the ones in the front row, who all had the cards for the meet and greet, were all escorted to another part of the large stadium they were in, where the meet was going to take place. It was like the absolute VIP treatment with the kind escorts and patient staff members, despite the loud chaos happening all around them, even the process of making sure there was only people with the pass to be in the group went by pretty smoothly.
It was a tiny room compared to the large performing area they were in before, she wondered just what legs and arms needed to be sold to have the honor of being there besides being lucky winners of an international contest that was hosted by the group themselves.
“I did not think this would be such a small event,” Lia said out loud, catching Anja’s attention as they sat in the seats they were escorted to. Around them were other winners from around the world, she heard a handful of languages she could not even begin to distinguish.
“This is all purely for the winners of the contest I got these tickets from, so these literally are just lucky fans who got picked out of the millions who must have participated, like us.”
There was literally less than one hundred people in the room, well, maybe not even fifty people, and they were all just lucky winners. Since it was entirely organized by them she understood the low number, she still appreciated their gesture. No wonder this group was so widely loved from all around the world.
“This is just so awesome, I did not know they held contests like this with such little numbers of winners,” she mused, glancing behind her occasionally to see the others flood in and take their seats.
“I know right, that just makes it that much more unbelievable that I actually won the couple tickets.”
Lia snorted,” ah, should we be a couple then,” she asked with a goofy smile, intending only for it to be a joke, but her anxiety hooked on and had her on the verge of panicking for absolutely no reason at all.
Anja waved off her worry,” nah, that’s just what they called it, we don’t have to be an actual couple to have them, in fact no one even has to know, so it’s fine,” she said, straightening her back when she noticed people stopped coming into the room, meaning it was about to begin. It was no shock that there was a vast majority of females versus males, which Lia was able to count on one hand how many of them there were, the whole two of them.
Lia cleared her throat, looking down at her hands in her lap. Right, she had no reason to be freaking out, her anxiety really often did pick strange times to emerge, she should just enjoy herself while she was here, the concert was already over, so this was the last part of the trip she had to enjoy, she should savor it instead of unnecessarily over thinking stupid things and triggering her anxiety.
Suddenly an announcer came up and she assumed that she was introducing the seven of them since just moments later they all came out to the small stage and lined up, facing the crowd.
“We are GBS,” they shouted, earning a scream from many of the girls in the back as they went on saying something else in Korean.
Lia only then realized that her and Anja were only in the second row. Only one row of others sat between her and that smaller stage where GBS themselves, in person stood. She was literally breathing the same air as them, she was actually in the grace of their presence!
Total fangirl mode on.
The meet was mostly talking and a lot of fangirling from Anja and everyone else. They were limited to English, mostly spoken by RM, the tall handsome leader, Korean and a touch of Japanese as well as hello's in various other languages.
Lia had a goofy smile on her face the entire time. It worsened when occasionally RM would speak random English for those who might not know much Korean, those moments were almost the best, his deep dimpled smile had her melting in her seat, his voice was as smooth as butter and his accent when he spoke in English was just absolutely mesmerizing and just music to her ears.
Small chit chat was soon cut short as the boys all walked around the table and took their seats behind the long table, everyone in the room was at that moment passed their new album from the end of the rows, instructed in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese even, to only take one and pass the rest to the next person.
She had never bought an actual album before, never had the experience of holding an actual box that held the album snugly, holding various of other items as well, she usually listened to their music on youtube or through Shuffle and occasionally bought a few songs here and there on iTunes. Due to the lack of an actual job, she did not have much of any money to support them properly by buying everything like she really would have liked to do.
Before she could even prepare herself, the first row stood and in a line, all headed towards the stage, where the boys all sat at a table, markers in their hands. Anja gripped Lia’s arm, a squeal at the back of her throat, as she bounced in her seat. Everyone around them had small gifts of different kinds to pass off to the boys on the stage personally. Lia almost felt guilty for coming empty-handed as she eyes the various different gifts, anything ranging from nice, pricy, earphones to cute international snacks and other things.
Lia was in a daze, she was excited, on cloud nine, the air all around her in the entire room was so blissfully joyful and carefree that her anxiety did not kick in just yet, not feeling any kind of threat that would tip her off.
Lia felt her face remain casual, completely calm and in control, yet on the inside, she was screeching like a banshee and slowly but surely dying of too much excitement, her heart probably hammering against her ribs loud enough for everyone around her to hear.
When it was their row’s turn, Lia slowly stood and let her small typhoon of a friend pull her along, needing that small support to even make it to the stage.
Y, which was his stage name, the easiest stage name ever, was the first one who signed their gifted albums, bright smiles all over, making Lia feel welcomed and warm and fuzzy. His wide brown eyes were glittering, it was almost as if she saw them as the sunset, the bottom of his eyes were straight like a wide plane while his eyes were the sun while his lid curved over the plane of his lower lash line, almost like a painting, it was her strange imagination that had her seeing such a thing. His signature wide rectangular smile was what had everyone who approached the stage completely put at ease with giddy pleasure. She loved how he had that kind of face that had features that could both look childish with his genuine smile then go to the manliest and sexiest face when that smile dropped and he got serious. 'Duality' as the fandom describes Idols like him.
Y was the clear definition of someone who can do both, and she knew everyone fell for that beautiful face and natural air of innocence, borderline airheadedness that many found adorable, including Lia.
She gave him a bow as he passed her album down to August, waving his hands in a silly manner with a wide smile before he reached out for a handshake instead, the gestures were clearly him telling her,’ no need to thank me, instead I thank you’.
Lia was floating on the clouds, she could not imagine what she had done in her life to deserve such luck to have not been smashed by her anxiety at such a wondrous moment as she gladly, but slowly, took his warm hand to give it a gentle yet firm shake, smiling like a loon when he looked pleased to get such an outwardly calm reaction, not at all knowing of the crazy storm of fangirling screams and imaginations of fainting that was going through her head at that exact moment.
August, also a stage name, was also all smiles as he signed her album, his otherwise very calm and bored demeanor had her in for a world of bliss when he looked as happy as a puppy with such a pure, sweet looking gummy smile. It was just as Lia had heard online, his pale complexion was shockingly perfect and seemingly baby skin smooth, it put Lia’s own skin to shame, easily having lost to the beauty of a man.
With a smile screaming he was enjoying himself deeply, he reached out to shake her hand after signing her album. Lia was not prepared to shake his hand as she quickly reached out to meet his hand only to accidentally run it right into the open permanent marker he held in his slim hands. His mouth went slack as his brows shot up, a slight look of panic crossed his cute, almost borderline childish features as he looked at the mark that lined the side of her hand from her thumb knuckle to her wrist.
Lia finally cracked her calm soft smiles and laughed as he freaked. He seemed genuinely sorry for marking her on accident with a permanent marker even though it was her fault that she carelessly moved so fast into it without paying attention, but she could not help but laugh, it was too adorable.
Dongwook over from the other side of August noticed what happened and reacted by lightly smacking August’s arm, feigning a scolding parent despite being the youngest in the group.
Lia damn near lost it when August immediately retaliated with a straight face, saying something in Korean, making Dongwook cower in fear, a wide smile plastered on his face as his four years senior returned the scold in tenfold, of course, there was that underline joking in their movements and voices, only showing the deep comfort and compassionate friendship they held with each other.
Suddenly Dongwook passed her a marker and held down August’s hand to the table as if it was a hostage, saying something in Korean, gesturing for her to go ahead and mark him back. Lia could not resist, but she also did not want to upset other fans around her by marking up August’s hand so she did a safe little dot that looked to be like a beauty mark right under his index finger knuckle.
Dongwook seemed displeased and was not at all content and commented something, pouting. August responded flatly, only to thankfully and apologetically smile at Lia as he slid her album to Dongwook with a small bow of his head.
She had no idea what was said, but it was clear they were enjoying themselves no matter what.
Dongwook stuck his tongue out at her before breaking his pouting face and grinned from ear to ear as he signed her album, almost purposefully going over August’s name just to further show the level of teasing they liked to do between each other even in front of fans.
Getting a closer look at the child of the group, who if she remembered correctly was also three years younger than her and in his last year of high school this year, he was far more manly and handsome in person even though he was still a fetus and still growing no doubt. He already had a pretty defined jawline with a perfectly shaped nose. His puppy eyes were wide and seemed to constantly glitter with happiness, she also came to realize that the shade of brown his eyes were was a few shades lighter than, let’s say, August’s, whose were much darker. They were gorgeous. Of course, she could not forget to eye those chubby, baby fat cheeks he still had that portrayed his youth even further.
She could not wipe her smile off her face, it was very hard to not smile around them, impossible more like it.
Anja was a chatterbox at her side, taking all of their ears off as she passed even knowing they most likely did not understand half, or any, of what she was saying smiling and nodding with laughing eyes as they nodded enthusiastically, answering in English with only cute hellos and oks since they had no real answers or responses to whatever she was trying to say.
Her album was then slid over to B-hope, the second to last of the seven of them with a stage name, and of course, she expected no less to see that wide goofy smile. He had that natural light air around him that instantly put her to ease with seemingly glowing high set cheeks that always shone like the sun when he smiled. His face was slightly sharper than the others and had very masculine features. His smile was as wide as Y’s only the ends of his lips turned downwards a little, giving him his own uniqueness to his goofy happiness. She also could not miss the light pink blush of happiness that showed even past the light layer of extra light makeup that may be on his skin, only adding to his sunshine bright smiling face.
Lia returned the wide smile, feeling giddy inside.
Suddenly to her side she saw someone slap the hand of Kinam, it was her nature to be aware of every movement she could sense or see in her peripheral vision, which meant she was one of the first to notice the retaliation from where she was at that was more than obviously tense and displeased.
Lia’s smile fell faster than she ever thought possible as she stiffened as hard as a stone wall, turning to find the girl next to Anja had suddenly lost her temper with Kinam for some reason, not completely unheard of at fan signs, but definitely not a common occurrence, Anja instinctively stepped back, shocked from the outburst that she, as well as everyone else around, did not seem to see coming at all. She was yelling something in what sounded almost like Japanese, though she was not sure entirely, she was just sure it was not Korean by ear.
The girl went on angrily before she then threw her arm back with a full, open bottle of water in her hand, ready to hurl it like it was a weapon at the poor man who seemed to still be trying to catch up with what was even going on, not quite catching the very quick escalation that happened within the snap of a finger.
Lia moved without thinking, somehow reaching over Anja to swiftly smack the bottle out of the girls hands just as it was about to leave her hands, causing it to flip into the air and fall right over Lia’s head the moment she put herself in front of the woman to protect unfortunate Kinam, who jumped to his feet behind her. The bottle tumbled over her shoulders and fell to the floor, water soaking her head and left shoulder, trailing down her arms to drip to the floor.
Staff members were there immediately, pulling the angry little woman back, other fans watching from their spots, all on their feet, mouths slack in disbelief, many had very menacing expressions all pointed to the angry woman who stomped out of the room like a raging bull still spewing out words in another language. it was one thing for a fan to be displeased and a little sour, but for her to get so violent so quickly was something else entirely, and it was the reason she was practically dragged out by security instead of patiently escorted out by different staff.
Lia was frozen in her spot, unable to move as others gathered around to ask if she was ok with various different tones and accents. Her hair and her face were dripping with cold water that began to drip onto the front of her shirt as well. The atmosphere in the room instantly turned angry and heavy, taking effect on her right away, making her skin prick as the anxiety was quick to settle in her core and break free.
Her heart raced, her ears rang, her vision twisted, everyone’s eyes were on her. Questions came in from every direction, asking if she was alright or if she was injured at all. She could not move as she began to tremble, her breath quickening.
A towel came around and began to dab her face dry, patting her head gently, a gesture she should have thanked whoever it was for, but she just could not move, much less speak. She could not even look up to see who it was.
Anja was in front of her trying to talk to her but Lia could not focus on the words that were being said. Her brain function went down the drain, not at all processing anything as all the attention was averted to her uneven panting and hammering heart that began to sound in her ears at the rush of blood pulsing through her body.
Slowly she reached up and grabbed Anja’s arms, being the one and only thing she seemed to be able to do, feeling a surge of desperation to get out of there, but her legs would not work, instead they did the exact opposite and gave out on her, sending her to the floor of the stage.
Once she fell to her knees, there was a ring around her of loud yelling and what not, Lia felt like she could not breathe. The cold hands of anxiety and absolute panic latched down tightly on her, keeping her immobile.
Anja stayed with her, no matter how hard she gripped her poor arms, at her side, she felt someone help her to her feet and quickly move her out of prying eyes, another at her other side as well, wrapping her arm around their shoulder for support. she had no real energy, so she had no doubt she was hauled out by sheer strength of others, whoever it was helping her.
Her breath came out in pants and tears poured down her face. She was brought to some back room where she was pushed into a seat urgently.
Anja stuck close, never stopping her talking trying to get through to her. A hand pushed her down flat to her knees, a deep voice stood over her speaking English fluently,” hug your knees, it makes breathing easier.”
Without letting go of Anja, she did just that, trying to steady her breathing.
It took her well over thirty minutes to calm herself with her face down practically kissing her knees, focusing solely on evening her breathing. She finally was able to straighten herself slowly, Anja sitting next to her, hand on her arm constantly to show she was there.
It was quiet, about five minutes after being pulled to the back, the others left them alone to help her recover, they had the medic that they had on hand for the boys check her out to make sure she was alright before giving her plenty of water and orders to just relax and take her time to calm down.
Anja stayed at her side constantly talking to her to help her snap out of it. She let Lia know that it was RM and Ju, otherwise known as Seokju as his birth name, themselves who helped lead her back to the empty room. Lia just did not have the energy to feel happy about that. Lia was no light woman, in fact, she was well over fifty pounds overweight for a person her height and age. She had no recollection of moving on her own she had to have been heavy to them, she felt ashamed for losing her strength like that and even felt guilty for making them take care of her like that.
Anja also let her know that the woman never apologized for anything and left like a tornado, leaving a mess everywhere she went. Yet another thing Lia could not particularly find a good thing.
“I’m sorry,” Lia found herself saying to Anja, eyes downcasted.
Anja smacked her arm,” what are you apologizing for?”
“I froze up like that and embarrassed both of us in front of a bunch of fans and GBS themselves, you even left your album,” she said, noting that both her and Anja, thankfully, did not have the peace of mind to remember their signed albums left on the table.
Anja shook her head,” wrong, you saved Kinam from an angry woman who damn near lost her mind up there,” she corrected.
Lia’s face was flat as she looked up at Anja,” it was water, I did not have to, I just moved on my own, but it’s not like she pulled a knife or gun on him, you’re exaggerating,” she said, sighing, rubbing her face that seemed stiff from the dried tears of panic she had just previously let out.
Anja shook her head enthusiastically,” no, did you see her? She was about to beat the snot out of him with that bottle if you hadn’t smacked it out of her hand, she was out of control, water or not, she still could have done some damage with that bottle. Kinam is worth more than both of us put together times one hundred, it’s an honor that you saved his face from possible injury.”
She was so serious about it Lia could not help but laugh, this woman was something else,” you are so stupid.”
Anja cracked a smile,” well, you must be better now that you are smiling again, one of the staff women said to wait here until the stadium is cleared out. I kind of ended up explaining your condition and they were totally ok about it and said that they will come and get us when everyone’s gone to avoid unwanted attention to keep yourself from having another attack.”
Lia sagged, groaning,” great, now we are just making it harder for them, we should just go, I don’t know, sneak out the back or something?”
Anja smacked her back, in an attempt at soothing her worry,” oh don’t be so uptight, they offered and since you weren’t even in any condition to respond I went ahead and agreed to their kind offer, it’s nothing if they offer it.”
Lia groaned again,” just because they offer does not always mean they want to, it’s just being nice, but I don’t understand why they felt the need to take responsibility, it’s not like they could control their fans.”
Anja shrugged, sarcasm already lining her features before she even spoke,” I don’t know, maybe because they feel thankful for the small gesture of kindness you showed. Water or not, you still moved to block the boys from it without thinking while everyone else, including me, moved away.”
Lia wanted to argue, but a knock at the door had her stiffening and snapping her mouth shut, eyes glued to the door that opened a moment later.
Anja stiffened a bit as well, not minding when Lia subconsciously slapped her hand on her arm to grip it. The poor woman was going to have bruises on her arm by the time they made it back to the states.
The ones who came in was no staff dressed in black with earpieces, but instead seven boys, still dressed in the same clothes they were in at the signing event. The first face she saw was RM. His face was a bit smaller and rounder than the others and he had very distinctive features like his narrow smiling eyes, thick lips and cute little nose with perfect little circular nostrils. He and Lia stood at about the same height, if not he might have been about an inch or so taller, but that was not much.
Lia shot to her feet, her brain swirling as she just moved without thinking much, bowing to them as they all poured in one at a time.
Anja was biting her lip, trying not to laugh at her stiff movements at her side.
“Ah, be careful, are you ok?”
The English was familiar, the deep voice was none other than RM himself, the first one to walk through the door. B-hope pushed past RM to run over to straighten her out,” you sick, don’t push yourself.”
Lia blinked, nodding as she was pushed back into the chair by B-hope and RM, who was not far behind the entire time. It was strange for them to be treating her nicely. They were the idols, she did not think they got personally involved with fans like this.
There was so much for them as celebrities to consider, scandals spread easily everywhere, involving themselves with female fans could turn into a very sticky situation for them if they were not careful, then there was also the half of this where they would get recognition for helping a person in need. It seemed like a fifty-fifty kind of thing, but it was impossible to tell how things would end up until word gets out, which it most likely has gotten out already by then.
“I’m sorry, I’m fine, I’m sorry.”
Anja smacked her arm again,” I told you to stop apologizing,” she scolded, completely unashamed.
How Anja was able to act so natural and normal in front of all seven of them was something Lia was unsure she was even grasping. How is this woman so calm in the face of seven IDOLS?
Lia winced, looking at her lap,” I can’t help it, I didn’t mean to cause a scene,” she said scratching her temple. She felt so out of place, it was hard to focus when she heard the other boys speaking Korean in the back, naturally, she was curious on what on earth they were saying since they kept trying to show her through body and hand gestures all at the same time what they were trying to say, but nothing was quite translating through to her since they all were going at the same time.
“We came to personally thank you for doing that for our Kinam, that was a very unexpected twist of events, that never happened to us before so we let our guard down.”
RM’s English was so clear and perfect, it was nice to listen to. Lia shook her head, waving him off,” it was nothing really, it was just water.”
Lia was beginning to feel like a broken record.
“Here are your CD’s signed by all of us, as thanks we would also like to offer you two tickets to our next comeback concert,” RM said, passing over two signed albums to Anja, who was the one who reached for them.
Lia stared mouth agape,” isn’t that a little too much for such a little incident? You don’t have to feel responsible for my panic attack, that’s my problem,” she said, unintentionally sounding rude.
Lia bit her lip,” I’m sorry, that was mean,” she said, eyes downcast once again, her brain frantically scraping for things to say.
“You were so cool, can’t we be friends?”
Lia’s head snapped up, shocked to hear Kinam speaking English, accent thick, almost making it impossible to understand what he was saying. His smile was perfectly upturned, his chubby cheeks were a very light shade of pink, his eyes were sharp and clear. As the shortest member of the group, she almost saw him as the kid versus Dongwook, his adorable facial features did nothing to defend his year or two he had over the youngest.
“Friends,” Lia asked, squealing, completely not what she meant to do, making her look down, face blown up in colour.
Dongwook laughed, trying to mimic her high pitch,” Ne, chingu,” he replied in Korean, Lia recognized those words as meaning ‘ yes, friend’, all the years of watching dramas and listening to Korean music paid off, being able to understand those two words.
Suddenly B-hope hopped off to the side saying something in Korean that she recalled roughly meaning ’amazing’ as he suddenly began yelling in a very high pitched voice, reenacting the anger from the woman towards Kinam.
Kinam immediately jumped aboard to play along as B-hope went into slow motion as he raised his hand to ‘throw the bottle’, when suddenly Ju came around dramatically and smacked B-hope’s hand away, letting out a battle cry like he was some wrestler who just won a fight.
Lia could not hold herself back as she snorted at Ju and his extraness,” I did not do that! I was lame compared to that,” she said, nearly crying from the laughter.
She felt the swell of internal exhilaration of having the privilege to see that the boys are just as silly off camera as they were on, she had no doubt they would make great companions, she was mildly jealous of whoever was lucky enough to know any of them personally.
Anja gently smacked Lia’s arm with the back of her hand, laughter in her tone,” oh man, that would have been a golden opportunity to scream like that, I bet you could have outmatched her annoyingly high voice,” she said, jumping out of the way of a smack from Lia who rolled her eyes, a grin wide on Anja’s face, not even ashamed to act herself and show them all this side of her, and Lia. the fact she was playing along easily with the conversation hade Lia wondering how on earth Anja was even the same person. Just before Anja was a screeching ball of fan love and desperation, but now she was just a cool cat now, completely unphased by anything.
If she thought Y had unbelievable duality, she had to take back her own words and say out of all of them in the room, Anja is the one raking in those duality points at this moment with this cool as a crisp autumn breeze attitude Anja was holding on to at that moment.
“Anything would have been better than what I actually did, jeez, how embarrassing,” she said, chuckling under her breath, rubbing her forehead in frustration. She really did not know what to make out of this whole situation, her mind was running endlessly in circles trying to figure out what she was supposed to do other than try and ride the flow and hope it doesn't suddenly get awkward.
“Nah, you were really cool, it makes you all the more cooler doing that even knowing you do not do well in front of people,” RM said, shaking his head at his silly group members who were acting silly in the background, in their own world momentarily, obviously trying to say she was still cool none the less, but it was all in Korean so she did not understand much of anything else that was being said.
Lia gave up, there was no way to get through to them clearly, so she gave up with a sigh, bowing her head,” thanks for the compliment, although I don’t believe you,” she accused, grinning when he feigned hurt.
Suddenly RM pulled out his cell phone,” can we exchange phone numbers so I can contact you later about the next concert, you too,” he asked both Lia and Anja, who both froze stiff.
An idol was casually asking for their number, this was a dream, right? It had to be. Real life world would not give them such an opportunity like this.
Anja went straight in for the kill, no hesitation, grabbing his phone, putting her number in with no shame,” are you sure, would your manager or something get upset,” she asked while she was busy saving her number into his phone already, improvising to send herself a message to her own phone so she can save his number on her end as well.
“It’s fine, as long as you will be kind enough to keep it to yourself,” he said, laughing.
He was insanely carefree when giving his number to a couple of fans,” Don’t ask him if it’s alright if you are going to do it anyways,” she said smacking the back of Anja’s head lightly, rolling her eyes when she played innocent.
Lia snatched his phone out of her hands, turning her attention to point it at RM, a hand on her hip,” and you, don’t be so laid back, this is dangerous, what if we are crazy stalkers or something,” she said, all walls down.
August then came up from the madness from behind, putting an arm on RM’s shoulder,” she has point,” he agreed in English cutely with a straight face.
Dongwook then pointed, saying something, the gestures he made and the expression on his face showed he was freely teasing the Leader, most likely laughing at the fact that Lia had the galls to scold him and he was taking it well.
RM twisted and threatened to kick the youngest of the group, making all of them scatter to laugh freely at their group leader’s embarrassment he finally showed that moment. She never saw RM as one to resort to kicking or just little threats when he got embarrassed, he never showed such a thing on stage or on camera, so she guessed he kept up a perfect face in front of others but as soon as he was alone with his friends, he was more casual and acted the part instead of holding the part of the leader that he showed everywhere else.
“How can we be friends if I can’t contact you,” he suddenly said, making Lia gasp inwardly from his bluntness that could kill her if he didn't watch what he said so freely to her like that.
Why her! This was just far too unbelievable.
Lia buried her hands in her face the moment the members all shamelessly gathered around, oohing and ahhing at RM’s outburst.
These boys, they are too much, too childish. She might get thrown into another panic attack if they did not tone down their teasing, although it was not directed at her, she still felt the secondary embarrassment from RM. She was still having trouble trying to catch up and figure out what the hell was going on, because this could not seriously be real. at that moment, she began to think she was honestly dreaming and she had maybe actually passed out and is just dreaming up all of this.
The phone was then snatched right back out of her hands, Lia snapped up to find Anja typing in Lia’s number for her, saving it.
Lia tried to snatch it back,” hey, what are you doing," she tried saying calmly, but instead screeched from the overflow of too much excitement pulsing through her veins.
Anja shamelessly ran from the charging Lia,” I’m giving him your number, they want to be friends, why refuse them so coldly. So cold.”
Lia tried again but failed when the tiny woman hopped over a chair that sat in the middle of the room, laughing her face off as she sent Lia a text through his phone.
Lia paused, checking to be sure to find it was indeed his phone, with Anja’s nonsense message of randomly typed Korean letters.
Lia narrowed her eyes at Anja who strutted over to RM, who stood in awe the entire time and passed his phone back,” I put her under Tall Lia for ya, and I am Anja. Don’t worry, I’m good at keeping secrets, and so is Lia, we won’t share your number with anyone,” she assured for the both of them.
“How did you even write in English if his keyboard is in Korean,” Lia accused, wondering what the hell that woman did.
“Well, I actually know the Korean alphabet, so I just improvised, I don’t know if anything I wrote makes any sense to them, but to me, it made perfect sense.”
Lia sagged her shoulders,” I truly do not understand you at all,” she muttered as the boys all cheered.
In the end, all the members had her and Anja’s number, and somehow some way, they all hit it off nicely. All the members understood a certain extent of English, definitely a lot more than they ever made her think, and even had RM to help out with the language barrier if things got difficult to follow for either side. Somehow, they all ended up going out to eat, something that just went and happened before Lia could refuse. They had nothing else to do after the concert and fan meet, so they were free to do as they pleased, and Lia was rounded up and dragged along without letting go.
It happened, and there was not a damn thing she could do about it as they all, including Anja, pulled her along for the ride that was to change her entire life.