In This Life, The Greatest Star In The Universe - C.68:

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Translator: MarcTempest

Editor: Rxel

Chapter 68

The Fan Signing Event That Finally Began

The members of New Black started to greet their fans in a frenzy.

Since they arranged the seats by age from youngest to oldest, the first one to meet the fans was the maknae.

Wang Jiho smiled awkwardly and swallowed his saliva.

“Hyungs, trust me!”

…That was what he boasted before going up to the fan signing event.

But when Bijoo Hyung offered to switch seats with him, saying he might not be okay, he waved his hand in refusal.

He regretted his own arrogance.

Wang Jiho had faith in his sociability.

He had easily befriended anyone he met at school, so he thought he could do the same with the fans.

But…

“Uh, hi, I’m. Nice to meet you. I’m Wang Jiho.”

As soon as the first fan appeared, he blurted out a weird self-introduction.

Laughter erupted from the fans behind him.

This was not a blind date, what kind of greeting was that?

He felt embarrassed, ashamed, and almost tearful.

He briefly apologized to the fan.

“Sorry, can you wait a moment? I’m so nervous…”

Don’t cry, someone said from the line behind him.

Wang Jiho took a deep breath and calmed his trembling heart.

But he couldn’t help the tears welling up in his eyes.

These were the fans who came to the showcase, watched the music shows, and left supportive messages on the fan cafe.

He wanted to talk to them properly, thank them, chat with them, and show them his best side…

But he couldn’t say a word.

He froze when he faced the fan.

His mind went blank.

He felt grateful, but also so nervous that he couldn’t think straight.

He couldn’t remember any of the words he had prepared, and his mouth wouldn’t move.

He felt sorry and sad, and tears started to roll down his cheeks without him knowing.

The fan standing across from him asked, “Are you okay?”

“I.”

Everyone was listening.

“Do you have a tissue…?”

A loud laughter broke out.

Someone handed him a tissue from the line, saying here you go.

Some fans whispered, remembering the Music Cafe incident.

“I’m okay now!”

After the laughter subsided, Wang Jiho returned to his normal self.

He was more talkative than usual because of the nervousness, but still.

“Oh, hello. Oh, wow! Oh, the doll is so pretty. Oh, did you bring it for me? Is it for the other members too? Oh, you have them. But still… This lion you gave me has the longest fur, and oh, its eyes are like buttons.”

He rambled on like a broken doll, spilling his thoughts to the fan.

The fans covered their mouths and laughed.

He was just adorable.

Of course, not everyone was laughing.

Sitting right next to him, Rihyuk had his head bowed down like a person waiting for the apocalypse.

‘I’m doomed.’

Wang Jiho’s situation didn’t seem like someone else’s problem.

No, if Wang Jiho was like that, how bad would he be?

He was already anxious about showing a ridiculous side of himself to the fans.

The more he thought about it, the more he tried to keep a calm expression and clenched his jaw.

“Rihyuk, are you okay?”

“Yes. No problem.”

“Your hand is shaking a lot.”

“It’s dehydration.”

His hand that was signing was shaking like crazy.

He had practiced signing hundreds of times last night, but the result was like a jagged saw blade that needed to be cut out with scissors.

“I’m sorry, I practiced a lot.”

“It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not. Let me write your name again.”

The fan just smiled at his serious words.

But he tried three times and each time the name ‘Soojin’ looked like ‘hangover’.

Thanks to that, the fan joked that she felt like drinking, and rain fell in Seo Rihyuk’s heart.

‘I write well.’

He had imagined it last night, lying on the upper bunk and pulling up the blanket.

He thought that if he wrote a nice signature and a neat comment below, every fan who passed by would compliment him on his handwriting.

…That was bullshit.

Another victim whose name ‘Sangeun’ became ‘shark’ laughed out loud.

“It’s okay, Rihyuk. It’s the thought that counts.”

“I, I usually write very nicely.”

“Sure, sure. I know.”

“Really. Ask the other members.”

But she didn’t look convinced at all.

She just found him cute.

He decided to take a picture of his handwriting and ask them to post it on the company’s SNS when he got back to the dorm.

‘By the way, why does she find me cute?’

He used to have no one approach him because of his prickly appearance, but somehow the fans had no hesitation.

He wondered why, but soon he realized the reason.

“I cried so hard when I listened to Night Sea live. It reminded me of my late grandmother, and the lyrics really resonated with me. It was so good. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it when I saw your face. Thank you for singing so beautifully… Rihyuk?”

“…Yes?”

“Are you okay? Your ears are very red.”

“No, it’s just a habit of mine. My ears turn red when I get the spotlight.”

“Wow, it’s just like I saw on the radio.”

It was because of the radio.

The screenshots of Rihyuk on the visible radio had spread, and it seemed like his image had become that of a neighborhood fool who looked prickly but was actually soft.

The fans smiled kindly at him as he danced and sang.

Feeling wronged, Rihyuk thought he would never let the youngest go when he got back to the dorm.

Meanwhile.

Unlike the younger line who was too nervous to calm down, the older line was relatively calm.

“Hello.”

Kim Junghyun greeted the fans indifferently.

But the fans who received his greeting flinched.

‘I’m not a scary person.’

Kim Junghyun tried to reassure the fans by saying various things.

He was not good at talking, but his sincerity got through, and the fans soon became comfortable with him.

He looked calm compared to the younger line who was too tense.

At least on the outside.

But under the calm surface, a whirlwind was stirring.

-Hyung, please think before you speak.

-Yeah, don’t say anything weird.

-Junghyun, don’t forget to smile at the fans. You look scary when you’re still.

He was doing his best because of the members’ earnest requests.

He tried hard to smile at the fans.

He desperately searched for the right words to say whenever he spoke.

“Wow. You’re so slim!”

“Me?”

“Yes! You look so sharp. You looked huge on the video, but you’re actually very slim in person.”

“Oh.”

What should he say to her?

Kim Junghyun’s brain went into full throttle.

He finally found a suitable comment.

“I actually weigh only 66 kilograms.”

“Wow, at that height?”

The reaction was not bad.

The conversation sometimes went off on a tangent, but the fans seemed to enjoy it with constant laughter.

He was relieved.

Junghyun brushed his chest and glanced at the next ones.

‘Those two don’t have to worry.’

Bijoo and Woojoo, who were always calm and good at everything, had nothing to worry about.

And they didn’t look nervous at all.

Of course, that was also Junghyun’s misconception.

‘Oh… it’s a fan.’

Bijoo’s mind was spinning more than usual as he smiled brightly.

What should he say to greet them?

Would it be rude to call them Noona right away?

Then what about the honorifics?

What if he said the wrong thing and hurt their feelings?

While he was thinking of all sorts of things, Bijoo kept a calm smile.

“Hello.”

The fans seemed to marvel at him as they saw him.

Unlike Junghyun, who looked a bit nervous, he appeared calm and composed.

Of course, his mind was complicated.

He was just used to managing his expression and gauging the mood of the house, because his younger brother had been sick since he was young.

The fans thought he was mature for a moment, but that was only temporary.

He also showed his age-appropriate side from time to time.

“Wow. This is the post-it.”

“Isn’t it amazing?”

“Yes, I’m amazed. So I just have to answer what you wrote here?”

“Yup, yup.”

The fans smiled at the sight of Bijoo, who checked the answers to the multiple-choice questions and wrote the reasons in a descriptive form, ending with a period.

His personality shone through.

He was the member who practiced the most in the practice videos, and he acted as diligently and seriously as the youngest, who was always teased by the others for being a serious bug.

And.

When he made a mistake, his calm face disappeared and he made the same expression as the other members.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I think I gave you a wrong signature.”

He was talking about the secret recipe of the kimchi fried rice that the members devoured like crazy in their self-produced reality show.

He was talking and signing at the same time, and he accidentally wrote ‘from. Kim Chiju’ instead of ‘from. Kim Bijoo’.

“Just a second, let me ask if I have a white-”

“It’s okay.”

The fan waved their hand and stopped him.

“Don’t worry about it. This is also pretty and nice.”

“No, no. The signature is messed up.”

The fans laughed at his sullen face.

A cheerful atmosphere.

The members, who were initially tense as if they were in a photo book, gradually regained their composure as they saw the reactions coming back.

‘As Woojoo Hyung said, let’s relax.’

They loosened their shoulders a little and the members regained their natural appearance.

At the same time, they checked on the one on the far left whenever they had a chance.

-Forget everything I’ve said so far, and just remember one thing. If you feel stuck, just look at how I do it. I’ve been watching him since I was a trainee, and if you roughly follow him, you can get by.

Of course, Woojoo was also busy, so he couldn’t help them much.

But it was important that he was in the same place.

They felt mentally stable just by having someone they could rely on nearby.

Like looking at a talisman when things didn’t work out.

Whenever they had a chance, the members glanced at the leader.

To get some peace of mind, and to see how he did it and follow him.

“Hoo…”

Jiho, who had been speaking hastily, took a deep breath before the fan came over, as Woojoo did.

Rihyuk held his wrist with his other hand when his hand shook, and followed the one who signed like that.

Junghyun gave up because he didn’t think he could follow him.

Bijoo watched how long he made eye contact and followed him right away.

And.

When they felt that it was getting better, they couldn’t help but stick out their tongues at him.

He was the one who made the same mistakes at first, but he became proficient in no time.

Of course, they couldn’t follow everything he did.

“Woojoo, I love Night Sea so much that I listened to it on my way here.”

“Oh, really?”

The members flinched at that.

-‘Oh, really?’ or ‘Oh, I see?’ are absolutely forbidden. The fans prepare what they say in advance. They choose and come with a hundred things they want to say. If you say ‘Oh, I see’, wouldn’t the mood go flat?

But he handled the mistake differently from the members.

Woojoo lifted his head and looked at the fan.

And then he smiled.

It was a familiar expression. It was similar to the one that caused a stir in the album pictorial.

“What did you like about Night Sea?”

…and he naturally continued the previous conversation.

And the fan’s reaction to that smile was very good.

A warm finish.

But the members’ eyes on the leader became a bit bleak.

‘He’s using his face, Woojoo Hyung.’

‘Hmph…’

‘He’s covering it with his face. That old man.’

‘Wow, look at his face. He’s so serious.’

They loved and cherished their leader, but sometimes he seemed too uptight.

***

It was because of what Han Taehyun said…

Woojoo adjusted his posture as he felt the members’ eyes on him.

It wasn’t just a simple, ‘Do your best!’ It was more like, ‘If I falter, our kids will falter too.’ That made him more alert than usual.

As he was gathering his courage, an album was placed next to him.

A black cover that looked like a luxurious hardcover book, with ‘First Chapter’ written in silver.

The fans and Bijoo started to chat.

His heart raced like crazy.

His mouth was dry, and his palms were sweaty.

His mind went blank as each fan came.

What should he say?

He thought of various things to say, but then shook his head.

Right. He should be sincere.

Sincere.

He calmed down his trembling chin and waited for the next fan to come.

Finally, when someone sat in front of him, he remembered Han Taehyun’s advice.

-When you meet the fans for the first time, you might be tongue-tied. Because you don’t know how to address them. In that case, just call them ‘Noona’ in a friendly way. If they look young, just use polite language.

So Woojoo smiled and greeted them.

“Hello, Noona.”

But the fan’s reaction was strange.

She hesitated for a moment, then spoke cautiously.

“Oppa…”

Oppa?

“I’m sixteen.”

Oops.

The fan manager behind him chuckled.

“Uh… I mean.”

“Yes.”

“How old are you…?”

“I was born in '99.”

“Oh, you’re born in '99. I’m born in '93.”

Woojoo was confused.

He didn’t even know what he was saying.

“Um, well, you must have watched the 2002 World Cup, right?”

“When I was four…?”

Laughter erupted around him.

Somehow, he was the singer and she was the fan, but she was calm and he was flustered.

Woojoo smiled awkwardly and scratched his cheek, when she handed him the album.

“Please sign this.”

Woojoo gladly nodded and took the album.

Then he said, as if to explain himself, “Please understand. It’s my first time doing a fan signing. I’m so nervous. You can see, right? I’m still very tense.”

“Yes, I can see.”

She answered.

“That’s why I like you.”

Woojoo smiled back at her sparkling eyes and lifted the name pen over the album.

“What’s your name?”

***

At the same time,

The fans were having the happiest time of their lives.

Their hearts were warm and they couldn’t stop smiling.

It was already a blissful thing to face their idols, but they were more than satisfied with the unexpected experience.

‘Wow, their faces are amazing…’

Was it because they were from an actor agency?

The boy group launched by Lemon Entertainment was composed of members who could be called visuals in any group.

They were so pleasing to the eye.

It felt like their brain cells were rejuvenating by five years every time they got a signature.

“Please move on.”

When the fan manager gestured them to move on, they felt so cruel.

They wanted to see those faces more.

If the singers sitting across from them were paintings in a museum, they would have wanted to stare at them blankly for half a day, go for lunch, and come back to look at them until the doors closed.

But time was limited.

The fans did their best to engrave the appearance of their idols in their minds during the given time.

Their fluttering eyelashes.

Their shy and embarrassed expressions.

And even their breathing.

Of course, they had no idea that the members of New Black were making sad faces inside every time.

‘Why are they looking at me right now? Did I make a mistake again?’

‘Wow. Look at their eyes. They’re so beautiful…’

It was a constant misunderstanding between the singers and the fans throughout the signing event.

But the affection in the eyes of the fans who looked at the members was not just because of their looks.

‘This is why some people only stan rookies.’

Those who had stanned veteran groups felt amazed by the sight they had never seen before.

Was it freshness?

It was a sensibility that could only be felt in the rookie days.

They made mistakes, felt embarrassed when they saw the fans, and their sincere feelings came out every time they said a word.

Those feelings were mostly heartwarming emotions.

Of course, they knew that this was not forever.

Just like every idol, New Black would also become skilled professional entertainers as time passed.

They were the stars that would someday become distant.

But while they were here, they didn’t think about that at all.

It was like giving water to a growing tree.

Every time they showed a little interest, the fans smiled happily at the sight of the earnest and sincere leaves sprouting.

It was a precious time that they didn’t want to exchange for anything.

And then.

When those fans reached the end of the table.

They reached out their hands to those who were regretting the words they wanted to say but couldn’t, or the questions they wanted to ask but swallowed.

“Thank you so much for coming today.”

Jiho gave them a gift as he held their hands as they left.

It was an eco-bag with a picture of animals resting under a tree and ‘From The New Black’ written below it.

A gift made by their singers.

As the feeling of regret disappeared, the fans who received the gift had a relieved smile on their faces.

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