Enigma Scandal : Chapter 1
The Incheon International Airport in Seoul, at night, wasn’t as packed as it was in the morning. The departures were waiting for their flight, the arrivals were picking up their suitcases, and the stragglers wandered about.
One of these stragglers looked hopelessly lost in this place. Dressed in a simple outfit of baggy pants, sneakers, and a hoodie he was anything but simple as his dark black cap and surgical mask hid his identity. As he stood by a coffee stand, his eyes scanned the area before him. People were wandering about, dashing to get to their next flight or mingling at the food stands.
Things have not changed much since the last time he was here.
That time, it was an emotional temperamental experience filled with remorse and tears not just for himself but for the others as well. He gazed out farther into the airport and chuckled to himself. These passersby had all forgotten all about the incident. But he won’t. He never would. How could he forget that pain?
“Now what?” He asked out loud, sipping his milkshake like a baby.
The straggler checked his watch every now and then in vain hope that it would move faster. But alas, it did not work and he ended up looking around again in search for some kind of sign. Immediately his eyes focused on a certain sign overly shocking pink sign with black text on it.
His eyes popped open and the straw he was sucking on slipped from his lips. What the…
Moving past the rather blunt but attractive sign of obvious intent, the man holding the sign was in his mid-thirties perhaps with a retro seventies hairdo and horrible fashion sense. It was evident by the funny expression on his face that he was embarrassed by what he was doing. Of course, holding an attention-drawing sign for some stupid accident-prone exiled kid was nothing interesting for he kept checking his watch. With people departing and arriving, passerbyes stopped dead in their tracks to look at his sign and literally laughed at his face. It cracked them up knowing that he was there for some old mango ranch owner who likes pink.
Not knowing that to do, the straggler decided to sneak up behind the man’s back so as to not attract too much attention to him. It won’t do for others to recognize and realize who he is. He poked the man gently, trying to get his attention. Naive as he was, it turned out opposite to what he wanted. The retro middle-aged man jumped in the air and gave a slightly high-pitched squeal with his poke. People looked at them but since he was not so obvious, they didn’t care and turned their focuses to something else.
“Mango Grandpa reporting for duty!” The straggler saluted.
The older man grunted and put down the sign, his eyes intent on studying the newcomer.
“Nice to see you, kid. I’m Seo Dong Chan but you must address me as Secretary Seo. You got it?”
“Mr. Seo?” The kid inquired hopefully.
“Seo.” Seo Dong Chan replied curtly. “Secretary Seo. And you. You’re awfully late, Park Jae Bu—.”
Two hands lashed out and covered the man’s open mouth.
“Shh!” Jae Bum hissed. “Don’t call my name out like that.”
Secretary Seo grumbled and slapped Jae Bum’s hands away.
Jae Bum grinned. Although it couldn’t be seen because of his surgical mask, it can be seen by the way his eyes disappeared.
“Word. The flight was delayed yo and I got lost. Sorry man.”
“I see you didn’t waste time getting your favorite milkshake though.”
“You dig milkshakes too?”
“Though I want to have one, yes, we’re running out of time. You are late and we must all suffer for it!”
With that, Secretary Seo grabbed Jae Bum’s collar like a cat would its kittens and dragged the kid out of the airport to the waiting limousine parked outside. The chauffeur was standing by the car and as he saw the two approach, he opened the back passenger door and the front passenger door.
“We’re late, we’re late, we’re late.”
“For what?” Jae Bum inquired before he was suddenly thrown into the back seat. The door slammed shut behind him. Recovering from the initial push, he readjusted himself into the seat. “Can you at least be a little more gentle man?”
The sliding glass window of the divider smashed open and Secretary Seo’s eyes poked inside. The gleam in those beads sizzled with red madness.
“We’re super late!” He hissed.
“Late for what?” Jay asked again. “Ain’t we going to JYP?”
Secretary Seo did not answer as he slammed the glass window shut. Without the two in the front to explain anything to him since the divider provided sound proof features, Jae Bum decided to make himself a little more comfortable for the ride. He pulled off his dark black cap and surgical mask. The smell of vanilla filled his noise and he breathed in deeply. But… Was the weather in Seoul always this hot? He couldn’t remember. As his eyes roamed around the dark sleek interior of the limousine, he slipped off his hoodie and re-adjusted his muscle shirt.
JYP could never send a limousine to pick him up. There must be something he didn’t know.
Half an hour later, Jae Bum found himself still pondering over the exact reasons why he was back in Seoul and in such an extravagant exotic stretch limousine complete with a cooler filled with drinks and even snacks! Granted he didn’t really bother to think about it much since he was enjoying the food but hey, he was worried!
The limousine gave a lurch and suddenly screeched to a stop. Because of this Jae Bum had clumsily spilled some roasted peanuts on the car’s floor but he was not even focused on that. He was more focused on the being standing outside. When Secretary Seo jumped out of the car to greet the person, Jae Bum’s eyeballs almost popped out of its sockets.
What in the world was going on?
After exchange of pleasantries and favorable greetings, Jae Bum spotted the two of them approaching the car and he unconsciously froze. The door opened and the prettiest woman stepped inside, immediately taking a seat next to him. Dressed prettily in a simple baby blue peasant blouse with careful detailing along the neckline and a black pencil skirt with ruched designs alongside a pair of relatively average 2-inch high heels, Yoon Eun Hye was… Yoon Eun Hye was sitting right next to him and her big eyes were staring him down!
“Anyong, Jae Bum.” She greeted sweetly with a smile that melted his heart. “Nice bod you have there.”
Jae Bum quickly covered himself with the hoodie he had thrown away like a shy girl, greeting her with a nervous weak wave.
“Anyonghaseyo.” Jae Bum bowed his head to his senior. “Um… May I ask where we’re going?”
Eun Hye looked at him with surprise in her big round eyes.
“W… Well, we’re going to pick someone up.” That’s all she could think of as a reply.
“And Sunbae-nim, why are you here?”
“Just call me noona.” She gave him that smile again, evading his questions. When she saw that he was more than a little bit nervous, Eun Hye tilted her head aside. “Do I scare you?”
“A..Ani… Noona is pretty. It makes me nervous.”
Jae Bum chuckled, scratching the back of his head as she giggled.
“I’m flattered, Jae Bum-ah. Thank you.”
“You’re really not going to tell me where we’re going, noona?”
He stared at Eun Hye and nodded in agreement.
“I feel like there’s something I’m missing here. First Park Jin Young sunseng-nim rented me a limousine and now you’re here with me?” Jae Bum shook his head. “There must be something I don’t know.”
Eun Hye kept humming a song as she got herself a canned latte coffee from the cooler. When she turned back Jae Bum was still sitting rigidly as if he was afraid she would jump out and attack him.
“Aigoo, don’t be so tense. I won’t bite you.” Eun Hye winked and sipped some of her coffee. “How was your trip back? You must be tired.” She pulled him up to sit more comfortably.
“Aaah, it was alright. I had some milkshake on the way over so I’m pumped up for whatever you throw at me.” He pounded his chest to signify the ‘pump up’.
“Yaa, are you back in Korea for a battle?” She pouted at him.
“More than a battle, noona. A war.” Jae Bum grinned and looked out the window of the limousine. Although the glass was tinted, he could still see faint lines of buildings and glowing lights of the night outside. “It’s… runny.”
He turned to her and nodded.
“Yeah. You know, coming back here and all. It makes me yearn for the past.”
“Aaah.” Eun Hye laughed. “You mean nostalgic?”
Jae Bum caught on with his mistake and laughed.
“Oh word? Sorry my Korea got rusty when I went back to Seattle.”
“It’s alright. You should teach me with my English every now and then.”
“Are we…” Jae Bum gazed at his noona. “Are we meeting again?”
Eun Hye shrugged before giving him a mysterious smile.
“Who knows? Maybe.”
Once again the limousine halted in its path and parked itself on the side of the road. Eun Hye and Jae Bum looked at each other and went silent as they each gazed outside for any signs of life. Albeit it was late at night, there were many people still roaming about on the streets. Some were catching taxis and others were waiting for a bus.
“Are we out of gas?” Jae Bum asked looking around and knocking on the divider’s glass door. “Secretary Seo! Secretary Seo! Are we out of gas?”
All of a sudden, the door to the limousine slid open and a tall man bended down to the compartment. Dressed casually in only a printed tee and tattered jeans with dark glasses and a cap, he waved a hand at the two inside. Eun Hye and Jae Bum stared at the guest for a moment as he scooted himself in to sit next to Eun Hye. A waft of cold night air entered behind him and Secretary Seo greeted all three with a delusional smile on his face before closing the door.
“Yaaa… It’s really cold at night.” The guest stated.
“Jae Bum-ah,” Eun Hye called while trying lightly to push the guest to the seat opposite of theirs.
“Yes, noona?” The maknae replied.
The newcomer didn’t nudge at Eun Hye’s push.
“You know Jun Jin Junior, right?”
“How many times I told you I hate that nickname?” The guest pulled off his cap and glasses. “I’m U-know Yun Ho, the Senior!”
Park Jae Bum balked at the man.
“Whatever.” Eun Hye said while pushing him harder. “Move to that seat! Why are you crowding with us here when there’s a whole room for you to sit?”
She pushed him again and he’s still impervious.
“I want to sit here. I hate sitting with my back to the front, it makes me dizzy.” And instead he started pushing her over. “Why don’t you go sit over there? Why are you here flocking with us boys?”
Eun Hye grabbed Jae Bum’s arm.
“Yah! I came first! You go sit over there. I wanna sit here with Jae Bummie.” She laced her arms with Jae Bum’s.
“Hey hey hey! A proper lady shouldn’t sit so close with a man like that.” Now Jung Yun Ho is trying to pull Eun Hye away from him.
Jae Bum still couldn’t catch up with it. What the heck is going on in his life? The minute he step on his mother land, he met 2 biggest stars yet. And they are now squabbling besides him!
“So can anyone tell me now what is going on?”
Yoon Eun Hye and Jung Yun Ho made an eyes contact.
“I think we should wait until everybody is here.” The actress finally said.
“Wait, there are more?” Jae Bum’s signature shocking big eyes bulged out; the way that nobody would expect his Asian single eyelid would capable of in typical situation. And that made his sunbaes had a great laugh. Park Jae Bum can’t help but notice the chumminess between the two.
“Ermm… do you guys know each other?”
“No/Yes.” Eunhye refused while Yunho accepted.
“I don’t know this kid.” She said haughtily.
“Hey! I’m 24. Stop calling me kid.”
“Hey! I’m your sunbae-nim. How can you talk to me without honorifics?”
Jae Bum did not understand. Five minutes ago, didn’t she tell him to just call her noona? What was with their bickering?
“I… I’ll sit there—” Jae Bum was getting up.
“No!” Eun Hye pushed the maknae back down in his seat with the force that made Jjit Jae Bum stunned. “Yun-Yun, you man up and go sit over there.” She demanded.
“Aishhh. Don’t you call me Yun-Yun!” Jung Yun Ho seemed to have no sunbae-hoobae respect to her what so ever. This is weird.
“Why? Is the name reserved only for Jae-Jae?” she mocked.
Jae Bum started laughing out loud.
“Oh man! Sunbae you and Kim Jae Joong sunbae-nim are…?”
“What? No! Don’t listen to the witch!”
“Yah! Who are you calling witch, you moron!”
The bickering would have been on and on if the car didn’t screech again. The two Yun were still intimidating each other when a young man opened the door to step inside. Secretary Seo’s accompany and greeting wasn’t called for as the new guest completely ignored him and even shut the door on his face. Granted that they have the sound-proof divider, those in the front had no idea how quiet the back seat has become.
The guest sat exactly opposite to Yoon Eun Hye but it seems like he doesn’t see anybody as he just bowed to them once and stayed silent. The car ride continued on its path. Eun Hye, Yun Ho, and Jae Bum glanced at each other and started playing air bubbles, blowing inquisitive but silent questions to one another.
“Who is he?” Jae Bum made one slowly with his mouth open and moving though there were no sounds.
“Kim Hyun Joong.” Eun Hye replied in the same manner.
“What? Kim Hoo Joo?”
Yun Ho’s jaw dropped in exasperation.
“Kim Hyun Joong.” The man made one extremely slow air bubble. Seem like both of them forgot about the earlier bickering.
A light flashed on top of Jae Bum’s head and he nodded slowly, unable to really accept that this new guest was Kim Hyun Joong. Compared to what was seen on television with his Prince Charming concept, Kim Hyun Joong without his makeup and sweet smile was now only a gothic wanna-be.
Recognizing the awkward atmosphere with everyone so silent, as the sunbae, Eun Hye decided to do something about it.
“Hyun Joong, anyong.” Eun Hye greeted. “Long time no see.”
“Anyonghaseyo.” He replied.
But even so the awkward silence prevailed.
“Ahem.” That was Yun Ho. “Well nice to meet you again. It’s been a real while since X-Man. How have you been?”
Hyun Joong bowed but didn’t say anything nor answered any question.
“Jae Bum, you and Hyun Joong has never met right?” Eun Hye tried again. “I’ll introduce to you two properly.”
“Jae Bum this is SS501′s leader.” Yun Ho butted in. Eun Hye glared at him but he totally ignored it. “The flower boy Kim Hyun Joong is he.”
Somehow after the introduction, Jae Bum could not imagine the man in front of him as being a “flower boy” in any shape or form.
“And Hyun Joong this is Park Jae Bum.” Eun Hye gestured towards Jae Bum who grinned. “He’s our maknae.”
The man nodded, acknowledged Jae Bum’s existence, and shifted in his seat to further get away from the trio.
“Our maknae?” Jae Bum raised an eyebrow and remembered the questions he had asked earlier beginning to pop up again. “So why am I here with a bunch of superstars?”
“Jae Bum-ah, don’t forget. You’re a superstar too.” Eun Hye smiled.
“Ya!” Yun Ho shouted. “You call him Jae Bum-ah and you call me Jun Jin, Junior? Where is the justice in that?”
“Oh so you want me to treat you like a kid but won’t let me call you a kid?” Eun Hye shook her head. “You don’t make sense, Yun-Yun.”
As the car lurched and squealed to a stop, Hyun Joong, Jae Bum, Eun Hye, and Yun Ho juggled around in their seats. A moment later the door to the limousine burst open, bringing in frigid cold air and a very, very disturbed Secretary Seo.
Seeing how his sunbaes had not objected to this very rude request from Secretary Seo and that everyone was quickly putting their disguises back on, Jae Bum gathered his belongings, put on his cap before filing out with everyone else. His eyes skimmed his surroundings, almost at once giving up as he could barely recognize anything but the rough but sleek interior of an underground parking lot. This was not JYPE’s parking lot at all.
“Where are we, Secretary Seo?” Jae Bum asked.
“Here.” Secretary Seo, instead of answering the maknae’s question, shoved a paper bag into the kid’s buff arms.
“Omph!” Jae Bum almost staggered at the impact and had to balance himself as he looked at the paper bag. “What is this?”
“You’re in charge of it for the night.”
Jae Bum glanced at his sunbaes and they all just smiled and laughed. Well, all but Kim Hyun Joong who was just leaning against the limousine with his arms crossed. When Secretary Seo had his back turned to him, Jae Bum peeked inside the paper bag and gasped out loudly. Just as he was curious, now he was impossibly nervous and crumbled the bag up so it was no longer open for prying eyes.
“Secretary Seo, why are you giving me this?”
A distinctive ding! of the elevator echoed around the barren parking lot. All heads turned to the sound and they all watched as a hottie came out from the elevator. With a tired streak in his gait, he walked straight to the group. Yun Ho nodded in acknowledgment, Eun Hye waved cheerfully at him, Hyun Joong just stared, and Jae Bum just ogled. Upon reaching them, the last comer exchanged a hot-man-to-hot-man hug with Yun Ho, nodded to Hyun Joong, before giving Eun Hye a sweet peck on the cheek.
“Yaaa, what about me?” Yun Ho inquired, hinting Eun Hye with his eyes.
She did not get the message.
“Tae Yang, kiss him too. He wants one.” Eun Hye said to the last newcomer.
“What?” She innocently asked.
Yun Ho sighed and pouted while Big Bang’s Tae Yang smirked.
Jae Bum, feeling his head spinning out of control from wonder, gave up thinking then.
“So can any of you guys tell me what in the world is happening to my life right now?” Jae Bum desperately asked his sunbaes.
This made others laugh and Kim Hyun Joong, the gothic emo weirdo, chuckled. That gave Jae Bum the creeps.
“Lady and gentlemen,” Secretary Seo started. “Would you now give your undivided attention to me instead of this twerp right here?”
In saying so, the secretary smacked Jae Bum in the head lightly.
“Would you let me have the honor of being the interpreter for your respective companies?”
“Please, Secretary Seo, go on.” Eun Hye urged.
The secretary nodded his head and let his eyes roam the five individuals in front of him.
“I’m certain that every one of you, with the exception of this twerp, understands the grounds of why you have been gathered here tonight, correct?” The sunbaes calmly nodded at his statement. “SM, YG, DSP, the House, and JYP; all of your companies are customers of my boss, Kang Hye Na, who is one of today’s greatest business strategists. And since all of your companies are in critical state of sinking into shit, Madam Kang had come up with the idea of this project to help save them from harm’s way. The project, as I’ll have you know, is called ‘Enigma’. The concept is a charity project band with five individual stars from their respective companies.”
“Ah!” Jae Bum’s face lightened up at the idea. “So I’m the rep of JYPE?” Secretary Seo nodded impatiently. “But wait! I’m with M-Chrome right now.”
“Jae Bum-ah, M-Chrome is JYPE’s sister company.” Eun Hye kindly pointed out.
“Oh yeah.” Jae Bum replied stupidly.
Secretary Seo stared at the maknae. Whether or not he wanted to smack the twerp again, he did not indicate it.
“Anyhow,” he said. “Under the commands of Madam Kang Hye Na, this special project shall be kept hush-hush until the right moment. Meaning that you all shall not speak about this to anyone and everyone except those who are in on the project, got it?” Jae Bum opened his mouth to speak but Seo cut him off. “And before you interrupt me and ask, Park Jae Bum, I shall give you a list of names of those who are involved. As with the special case of five different companies, you shall be in contact with many different people. I suggest you remember their names and faces so that you wouldn’t offend anyone or expose to anyone unnecessary details. If the media gets word on Enigma ahead of schedule, there shall be consequences.” Secretary Seo lowered his voice. “Oh there will be consequences indeed.”
Taking out an agenda book from his bag, Secretary Seo checked its contents and looked up smiling.
“Park Jae Bum,” He called.
“Yes sir!” The man gave the maknae a glare. “Secretary Seo.”
“As of now your new album with Teddy Riley will have to be postponed until next year. Your Hype Nation project will also be moved to September.” The man turned to the SM member. “Jung Yun Ho, your SM project of Heading to the Ground with Go Ara was a major failure on your part. With DBSK on the verge of breaking, you need to have a stronger base behind you. Therefore for the duration of this project you shall continue advertisement offers only from Evisu and Adidas. That’s it. All other projects are strictly prohibited.”
“Yes, Secretary Seo.”
“Dong Young Bae.” The said man nodded. “You shall postpone all Big Bang projects and when I mean all, I meant it. There shall be no more recordings or studio meetings between you and Big Bang. But given sources have reported to me that you have finished your recordings and are now on the way to finalizing the audio, is that not correct?”
“Therefore your aid shall no longer be needed with them for the moment. You have already completed the task of providing Big Bang with your vocal and for that they are much grateful. But you shall not promote with them, got it? In a couple of weeks we shall specifically announce your hiatus from Big Bang to focus on your solo project. That is not a total lie, now is it?”
“Very well.” Secretary Seo stepped forward and faced the last male in the group. “Kim Hyun Joong.” The gothic man nodded. “Since SS501 is now on hiatus, there is no need for you to announce anything. And please, when you go to public places, please remember that you have an image to uphold. Being moody doesn’t help. Please remember that you must be in line and don’t destroy that princely image of yours.”
“That shall not be a problem, sir.” Kim Hyun Joong said.
“How come I can’t call him Sir and sunbae can?” Jae Bum whispered to Tae Yang who in turn shrugged.
“In addition to the schedule changes, we have also prepared for you boys an apartment away from prying eyes so there should be no problems with the press and paparazzi. Please keep in mind that you all must be civil and friendly to each other despite the fact that you are enemies.”
“All of us?” Jae Bum inquired.
“Park Jae Bum, Tae Yang, Yun Ho, and Hyun Joong.”
Secretary Seo’s words made the other three guys unconsciously shudder with fear for living with Hyun Joong was the last thing they wanted. With all that in order, Secretary Seo turned to the only female in the group.
“Yoon Eun Hye-sshi,” The man greeted with honorifics attached. “You are also on your hiatus, am I correct?”
“We are well aware that you’re currently deciding your new project. But seeing as how Enigma shall get in the way, we have to first hand apologize to you as you have to put those movie and drama scripts on hold.” Eun Hye smiled at him understandingly. “And since you are a girl, we couldn’t let you stay with those hot-blooded beasts over there.”
Jae Bum stiffened.
“Who the hell did he call a beast?” Yun Ho mumbled.
“But we must ask that you move closer to their dorm for transportation and management purposes only. Say, perhaps a floor down.”
“That shall not be a problem, Secretary Seo.” She replied sweetly.
“Now I understand this is unprofessional but can I ask for your autograph?”
And the boys began to gasp, protest, and shout in exasperation.
“You got to be kidding me!”
“Silence.” Secretary Seo hissed before smiling at Eun Hye, handing her his agenda book. “Thank you very much.”
The boys stared on, disgust written all over their faces. Once Eun Hye finished signing, Secretary Seo put the autography back into his bag tenderly as if he shall treasure it always. When he turned back to them, Jae Bum’s hand shot up in the air. Secretary Seo gave a sigh and nodded.
“Yes, Park Jae Bum?”
“Is this my salary?”
“Excuse me?” Jae Bum lifted the paper bag he received earlier from the man. “Oh! Inside holds the keys to something that might help the five of you get along better.”
Jae Bum slowly peered inside again.
“What can keys, money, and a camera have to do with getting along with each other?”
Secretary Seo gave them a devious grin.
“Get in the limo and find out for yourself.”
Eun Hye, Jae Bum, Yun Ho, Tae Yang, and Hyun Joong looked at each other.