Only, it wasn’t Sophie staring back at me anymore. Gone were the long locks that I spent a small fortune on maintaining every month. Instead, I had a bowl cut on my head.
OK, ‘bowl cut’ was slightly melodramatic, seeing as though the stylist (not my usual one because I couldn’t bring myself to ask her to cut my hair off), hadn’t put a bowl on top of my head to get my hair to sit like it did without the gel in it. But it was short, the bottom of my hair barely touched the neck of the Supreme hoodie I was wearing, and the front of it hung just below my eyebrows. The person staring back at me in the airplane bathroom mirror was Justin.
God, to add insult to injury, I looked like my damn brother. At least I had the excuse of being a twin, but it was depressing. He might have found the square jawline a blessing, for all the screaming fangirls he had, but I didn’t, and the short hair was simply accentuating that. Worse still, I looked like I had stepped back in time to high school.
I rubbed at my eyes, still mercifully dry, and leaned my forehead against the mirror. I was doing this to help my brother and hair would grow back. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are beginning our final descent into Incheon. Please return to your seats…”
I glanced up at the speaker before blowing out a breath and fixing myself a stern look. “Suck it up, Sophie. It’s one month.”
I ran my hand through my short hair and then returned to my seat. One bonus to the whole thing was that I had been able to travel direct from LA to Incheon in First Class. I’d never traveled in First Class before – it was almost like having your own room with all the space.
Justin had tried to get me to use his passport, but it was the one thing I had flat out refused to do. We were both US citizens with US passports, and because of that, it meant security scans. I was not about to risk getting my ass thrown into a Korean prison, or deported, of any other consequence that came with that. Plus, as I’d pointed out to Justin, did he plan on becoming me to get back to Seoul? Because one security pat-down was going to ruin that for him.
“Keep your passport hidden then,” Justin had stressed. “Manager Choi will ask for it back; you’ll have to tell him you’ve misplaced it and hope he forgets to ask again for a few weeks.” Hope he forgets…
It was a good thing they were on a downtime because the success of this was all hanging on little more than luck.
It had been a long flight, and I was exhausted. Because I had flown as “Sophie Kang”, there was no cutting through Immigration. Which was why I nearly fell over in shock when a large group of fans started screaming the moment that I walked through the glass doors into the Arrivals lounge.
My mind went blank, and I just stood there, staring in astonishment at them. I hadn’t been expecting a welcome committee of fans. That was a stupid underestimation; the company published travel plans, and it wouldn’t have been updated because everyone expected Justin back on this flight. I hadn’t had chance to pull my hood up or put Justin’s designer sunglasses on. Less than ten seconds out in the wild and I was about to be discovered.
Instead, a man stepped in front of me, handing me a facemask. “Don’t just stand there, Justin. The car is this way.”
Thankfully, I’d seen enough pictures of Drako’s manager in the background at fan meetings and such, that I recognized Choi Daehoon. “Yes, sir,” I said, remembering to bob my head at him. Manager Choi took my case and started wheeling it away while I put the mask on. As we got close to the fans, airport security stepped in, making sure the fans kept a respectful distance.
My heart was pounding in my chest so hard that I was sure it was going to burst out. I didn’t want to let my brother down, especially with all of the cameras in my face, but at the same time, being surrounded by at least thirty girls screaming Justin’s name was honestly kind of terrifying.
The mask was like my personal shield and I hid behind it, and Manager Choi, until I got into the car. It was only when I was inside, hidden behind the darkened glass that I remembered the fan sites; every time Justin got in a car, he would lean out of the window – even if it meant leaning over other members – and give his fans finger hearts.
“You are Justin Kang,” I whispered to myself, my fingers shaking as they hovered over the window switch. Not doing this would cause more of an issue.
I pulled my hood up, pressed the switch, and to the chorus of screams, used my finger and thumb to flash a heart at Justin’s fans. I counted to ten, and then slipped back inside. Yes, Justin would hang out of car, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for any longer in case I threw up.
It took a few more minutes for Manager Choi to get in the front passenger seat. It was only as we were leaving the airport that he turned around and looked at me. “Passport?”
“Oh,” I said, then coughed. I had a naturally low toned voice, but Justin was still lower than that. I cleared my throat again. “Sorry; I put it in my suitcase.”
Manager Choi turned back around, shaking his head, but said nothing more.
I breathed out a sigh of relief and pulled my hood back down. It wasn’t the right weather to be wearing a hoodie. Seoul was gloriously warm and the sun was shining. It was also a lot more humid than I was expecting. Thankfully, the car had air conditioning, because this hoodie wasn’t coming off until I was safely inside Justin’s room.
The drive from Incheon Airport was a little over an hour as I had landed just for us to hit the tail end of rush-hour traffic. While a part of me wanted to get to my new home for the next month, I was also glad. I wasn’t going to be able to see much of Seoul, and I was soaking up as much of it as possible, even if it was through a car window. If it wasn’t for Justin stressing how important it was for me to act ‘normal’, I would have had my phone out, and taken as many photographs as I could.
We arrived in Apgujeong-dong just after the sun had set. KSTARZ Entertainment had one group, and that was Drako. I knew that their office wasn’t near – it was in Cheongdam-dong, the next ward over in the Gangnam district.
What I wasn’t expecting was how spacious Drako’s dorm was: it was a small duplex. The room opened up into a very spacious living area with a large table for six. Right by the front door were stairs curving upwards.
The place was immaculate. Having spent eighteen years living with Justin, I knew it wasn’t him who was responsible for that, so either they had a maid-service, or the other members cleaned. I’d read an interview which said the maknae, Chan, was a cleaning machine. If it was just him doing it, I was impressed because the place was spotless.
It was also quiet.
Given that it was barely seven, I was expecting the others to be in, but short of the hum of the refrigerator in the corner of the kitchen, there was no sound at all. I was grateful. I was exhausted from the travelling, and after getting something to eat, my plan was to go to bed.
Despite being here for a month, I had packed light. There were a few toiletries, some makeup, and a handful of my clothes – all of which would remain in my case with my passport, locked securely. Just in case… I wasn’t going to be able to go out as ‘Sophie’ for the next month, and I’d brought the clothes so that in a month’s time, when Justin was back, I would be able to return to being Sophie without raising suspicion. Otherwise, I had my iPad which had Justin’s protective case on it, my laptop, and my phone. I had been studying, and I had plenty of Netflix shows to catch up on.
That was the plan, at least.
I carried the suitcase up the stairs and then stopped, looking at the row of doors in front of me. All of them were closed. All of them were identical.
And there were four of them.
There were five members of Drako.
Four doors, five members.
Justin had not warned me about this.
If it wasn’t for the fact that he was now in a rehab center, where he had surrendered his phone for the next 30 days, I would have called him there and then, and cussed him out.
I was going to murder him in a month.
I sucked in a deep breath and rapped on the first door. With nothing but silence greeting me, I pushed the door open. It was the bathroom.
Great. So there were three bedrooms and five members… and one bathroom.
I closed the door and turned around, facing the door opposite. Once again, I knocked gently. Once again, there was no answer. I opened the door and stuck my head in. This room had two single beds pushed up against opposite sides of the room, and enough space to fit another four beds in with it. Above one bed was a picture of Chan, and above the other was a picture of Yeonwoo.
“Not this room,” I muttered. I stood in the doorway and stared. Despite everything, this was a really surreal experience. I was in the dorm of Drako. I was in the bedroom of Chan and Yeonwoo. Literally thousands of girls – and guys – would have sold their souls for this opportunity.
The longer I stood there, the more of an absolutely batshit crazy, what the ever-loving fuck was I doing, thing I realized this was. I should have checked myself into a hospital instead of a plane, because only someone who’d had a mental break would pretend to be her celebrity idol brother.
I enjoyed K-pop, and I had kept up to date with a lot of the news and gossip, but I’d never fully submerged myself in the world. Truth be told, I was fan of R&B and hip hop – the American kind. Jason Derulo was a god. My music collection was dominated by the likes of Jay Z, Kanye, Snoop, Nas, Future, Post Malone, A$AP Rocky. Most of my K-pop was hip hop: Jay Park, Dok2, Dean, Crush, BewhY, Swings… With the exception of Kard (BM was beautiful), the K-pop on my phone was limited to NCT 127, iKON and Stray Kids. The closest thing to a rock group was Drako, and that was because I supported my brother.
I knew the names of the other members, and a few useless facts that I’d remembered when I had been reading articles to find out what Justin was up to, but I didn’t know enough to do this.
I didn’t know enough to pretend to be Justin and have a roommate.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. I was screwed.
I backed out of the room and closed the door behind me.
If Yeonwoo and Chan were sharing a room, that left the leader, Sungjae, JJ, and Justin. There was no way I was going to luck out and have Justin with the room to himself.
Or was I?
Maybe the reason Justin hadn’t mentioned the sharing of rooms was because he wasn’t sharing a room…?
“Don’t be stupid,” I muttered, dragging my case to the room next to Yeonwoo and Chan’s. Sungjae was the leader. I was willing to bet another inch off my hair that he had the solo room. I knocked on the door.
This time there was a response. “Yes?”
I pushed the door open. Instantly, my prayers were dashed. This room had one bed. One bed, with Sungjae on it. Called it.
Sungjae was busy restringing his guitar, but the look he gave me was of cold annoyance, not friendly welcome. “What do you want?”
I stood there, staring at him. Sungjae was beautiful. His black hair was pushed back from his face by a bandana; his favorite accessory, seeing as he always seemed to be wearing one. There wasn’t a single drop of makeup on his face, and his skin, a slightly darker tone than mine, was flawless.
Sungjae let out an irritated sigh. “Justin, what the fuck do you want?”
His beauty was forgotten about as I was hit with hostility. Had I – had Justin – done something to upset him? “I, um…” I shrugged. “I just wanted to let you know I was back.” Sungjae’s eyes were like black ice, glowering at me. “I was going to make something to eat before I went to bed. Did you want me to make you something?”
“Me?” Sungjae asked, incredulously. “You are offering to make me something to eat?”
Unsure if there was a correct answer, I just shrugged.
“Fuck off, Justin,” Sungjae said, wearily. “I don’t have time for your bullshit.”
I didn’t respond. I just got the hell out of his room and closed the door behind me. With only one option of room left, I hurried over and entered.
I didn’t need a giant print of Justin’s face above a bed to know which side was his. His half of the room was a dump. Clothing that could have been clean or dirty was strewn all over the floor and bed. There were balled up pieces of paper all around his desk, burying music composition books. There was even a pile of dirty Kleenex which I was doing my best to ignore. If I’d have been JJ, I would have smothered him in his sleep.
It had been my intention to try to keep things as they were, as much as possible, but there was no way I could sleep in this room for one night, never mind thirty. I could barely see the damn bed!
I abandoned my case and returned downstairs to seek out the cleaning supplies. I wasn’t surprised when I found a well-stocked cupboard… I gathered up what I needed, grabbing a laundry basket from the cupboard which housed the washing machine, and returned to Justin’s bedroom. Only when my hands were safely protected by cleaning gloves did I start tidying the room. I even opened the window hoping the air conditioning would blow the unappealing smell out of it.
It took me two hours to clean the room. Once I had started, I was polishing and wiping down surfaces, and I took a broom to the floor. I had managed to get one load of washing into the dryer, a second on an airer, and a third in the washing machine by the time I had finished.
And then I was exhausted. I returned the cleaning products and made myself a pot of ramyun. I took it up to the bedroom, not caring that I had just spent ages cleaning.
I sat at the desk, leafing through some of the composition books. Ever since we had been small, our mom had made us take music lessons. I’d enjoyed my piano and singing lessons, but a musician was never what I wanted to be. I’d brought my keyboard to college with me, but I’d only played it on a rare occasion.
Justin had never seemed interested in the theory and composition, but looking at the music in front of me, it looked like that had changed. I had copies of their albums back home, and I knew he hadn’t been credited with writing any of the songs; was he trying to change that?
I was too tired to care. I abandoned the books and instead pulled out a fresh pair of Justin’s pajamas. I didn’t have the biggest boobs, but I’d made sure they were strapped down, bound with lengths of fabric. It gave me a flat chest, but it was also more uncomfortable than wearing a bra. I had been looking forward to taking it off.
My hands hovered over the fabric as I glanced over at JJ’s bed. I let out a long sigh and pulled the pajamas on, keeping the binding in place; it just wasn’t worth the risk.
Dressed in Justin’s pajamas, I left the safety of his bedroom, taking my empty ramyun pot with me. I paused outside of Sungjae’s door, toying with the idea of knocking, but I was tired, and I had no idea what to say. Instead, I went downstairs, tossed the empty ramyun pot into the trash, and pulled the last of the laundry out of the washer. The load in the dryer was still going, so I started adding them to the airer.
“Where is Justin and what the hell did you do with him?”
The loud voice had me dropping the t-shirt I was holding onto. It landed on the tile flooring with a wet slap. I whirled around and found Yeonwoo and Chan watching me.
I could feel the blood rushing from my head. I’d lasted only a few hours before being caught out? Fuck!
“It’s not what it looks like,” I said, trying to keep the panic out of the voice.
“It can’t possibly be, hyung,” Chan agreed. “Because I think this is the first time that I’ve seen you do laundry since we moved into this dorm.”
“Of course you’d deny it,” Yeonwoo scoffed. “You deny everything else, so why would this be any different.” With no further explanation, he stalked off up the stairs.
I watched him go, my eyes wide, and my heart still pounding in my chest. When I turned back to Chan, he was sniffing the air suspiciously. “Did you clean?” he asked.
“My room was a mess,” I said, making sure to keep my voice low.
Chan squinted at me. “Are you ill? Did you catch something on the plane?” He walked over to me, placing the back of his hand on my forehead. “Illness would explain the spontaneous cleaning.” He removed his hand and squinted at me again. “Are you going to explain at any point why you went to America?”
“Family,” I said, briefly. Justin hadn’t said anything at all?
Chan’s expression changed. He opened his mouth to say something, but Yeonwoo suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs. “Stop wasting your time, Channie. This is just some bullshit gesture. He’s going to be the same disappointing asshole in the morning.”
Yeonwoo disappeared back up the few stairs, and I was left with Chan. He scratched awkwardly at the back of neck, and then he walked off, grabbing two bottles of water from the fridge before heading upstairs.
I bent over and picked the t-shirt from the floor. What the hell was going on in this house? Justin had said he needed to make things up to them all. He hadn’t given me any explanation to that, so I knew nothing of what had happened. Whatever it was hadn’t made it to fan sites or news sites either.
But whatever it was, Justin wasn’t exaggerating. It was bad.
At least I wasn’t going to be asked to come out of my room and be sociable for the next four weeks.