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[personal profile] kaisooficrec

Title: Love Game
Author: TBA
Genre: Romance, Canon!AU (ish)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Naughty words, OC hell, more Prince of Tennis than any human should have to endure in their lifetime.
Length: ~42,000 words
Summary: Until a little while ago, Kyungsoo would never have put the words 'musical' and 'tennis' next to each other. Now, his whole life is nothing but synchronised racket waving and neon sportswear. He loves his new doubles partner and teammates, but through his journey into musical middle school, Captain Akazawa isn't the only Tall, Dark and Handsome on Kyungsoo's mind.
A/N: As you can probably guess, this is an entirely fictionalised account of the 3rd Season of Musical The Prince of Tennis and none of the characters are based on their real actors. Also this is probably not how the audition process works but until they make these things public artistic license is the only option.

“Welcome aboard. I will be your pilot today…”

Kyungsoo watched out of the window with a sigh as the airport grew smaller and smaller and the plane rose higher in the sky. It would be two hours before reaching his destination and there were butterflies in his stomach already. Normally on a flight like this, he would lean over to say, Jongin, who would probably be beside him, and talk about what the younger boy wanted to dream about as he slept through the journey ahead, or frown at Baekhyun teasing Jongin for his latest experiments in lucid dreaming, or ask Joonmyun for another piece of candy to suck on during takeoff. But today, he couldn’t do any of those things, because today, Kyungsoo flew alone.

It was kind of surreal, really. He had been waiting for this day for a year now, and still wasn’t sure how it had come so quickly. It had started a year ago, when he was called to the group’s manager’s office. Jongin had stood up immediately to go with him, but the trainee messenger said it had been requested that Kyungsoo go alone. For the whole walk there until he sat down in the seat offered to him on the other side of the manager’s desk, he wondered what he had done to be in so much trouble.

“D.O.,” he had said with a smile that Kyungsoo didn’t know how to interpret, “this may be rather sudden, but I believe you are known for being a fan of a certain tennis anime?”

Kyungsoo had only groaned at that and silently vowed to murder Chanyeol for telling the entire world about it. “I do have other hobbies.”

“But you still like The Prince of Tennis, don’t you?”


“Would you call yourself a fan?”

“I-uh, um. I guess?”
His mind immediately jumped to the cosplay jersey in his bottom drawer, to the fanart he retweeted on his secret twitter account, to the figurines he had bookmarked online, knowing full well he would never buy them because unlike Joonmyun, he was actually embarrassed about his...fondness for crappy anime. “I suppose so.”

“Good.” Kyungsoo had been confused then, when the manager’s smile grew wider.

“Were you aware that in its native Japan, this series has its own stage musical?”

Kyungsoo hadn’t known. How could that even work? There were too many characters. What would they even sing about? Most of the moves weren’t physically possible. What about the ball? How did they control the ball? Wouldn’t it go flying into the audience? He kept these questions to himself, and simply shook his head.

“We’ve been doing some research, D.O., and thought you might be interested to see this. I’ve procured a few DVDs for you to look into...ah, they aren’t subtitled, but you know the story well enough, do you not?” Flushing in shame, he nodded. “Excellent. Please, watch these, and come back when I call you next week. There’s something I want to discuss with you.”

That ‘thing’ had been Japanese lessons. Joonmyun was to be taking them as well, in order to begin preparations for EXO’s Japanese debut. But there was more there, a deeper layer that only Kyungsoo had been allowed to know about.

“There have been foreign actors in this musical before, though very few.” He had been told the following week. “This musical...its fans are very dedicated. They will follow their favourite actors onto whatever projects they take on after their role in the show is over, and it has become quite competitive for newer artists, trying to expand their fanbase. Do you understand what we are asking of you? We want you to study your Japanese, do everything the teacher tells you, and then next year, when the auditions open, audition for a role in this musical. There are dozens of them, as I’m sure you know. Any role at all. If this works out, we could open up a whole new market for us when EXO make their debut in Japan. There would be hordes of young fans willing to follow you anywhere, many of them having no prior familiarity with Korean music.” The smile returned, and this was one Kyungsoo did know how to read - soft, with an underlying firmness to it that demanded compliance without making any demands. “Besides, if you love this series as much as I’ve heard, it won’t even feel like work, right?”

It had been a long year. A long, difficult year of stumbling over verb conjugations and untwisting his tongue from awkward pronunciation problems. A year of learning how to read and write all over again like a child, of pretending to quiz Joonmyun over trivial matters like his favourite food or his daily routine as if they didn’t spend every other waking moment together. A year of struggling with casual form, polite form, honorific form, of accidentally cursing instead of saying completely innocuous words.

His Japanese had greatly improved since the beginning, and safely in his carry on was his trusty electronic dictionary to cover any ground he may have missed. There were some things he couldn’t work on with Joonmyun, and had to consult the teacher about on his own - tennis or other sport related words, words commonly used in the audition process, how to answer questions that may not be covered in the standard tabloid interview.

Those DVDs he had been gifted so long ago were now well-used, watched over and over as he began to slowly understand the dialogue, the lyrics, the seemingly meaningless little statements that sent the audience into peals of laughter or excited squeals.

He put his iPod on as soon as electronics were permitted, closing his eyes as the passionate call to (tennis) arms began anew in his ears.

This weekend he wasn’t D.O., Korean idol. This weekend he was Do Kyungsoo, Prince of Tennis fan and musical hopeful. He had to be ready. Everything had to be perfect, or the last year would be essentially wasted.

There was no turbulence for the duration of the flight, but there were butterflies in his stomach anyway.

He was scared.

He saw the sign with his name on it as soon as he stepped into the arrivals area, moments after spotting the young man with bright red hair holding it. Messily written characters that he could, at long last, read without hesitating. He had only brought a small suitcase, just for the weekend, and it quietly trundled along the ground behind him as he ran over to his guide. Kyungsoo took off his sunglasses for a moment, and the boy with the sign grinned in recognition.

His name was Rikuto, and apparently he wasn’t new to SM Entertainment, being one of many coordinators for Japanese activities. He chattered away as the two of them walked to his car, switching between Korean and Japanese effortlessly. Kyungsoo envied him there, tripping over the simplest words to his endless frustration.

“So, what am I calling you? D.O.?” Rikuto tapped on Kyungsoo’s wrist to get his attention before putting on his seatbelt. “You can just call me Rikuto.”

“D.O. or Kyungsoo, either’s fine.”

“Let’s go for Kyungsoo then - after all, I’m your new caretaker and all that, so we may as well start as we mean to go on! So, Kyungsoo, it’s the big day tomorrow - are you ready?” Kyungsoo just looked at his feet, like his shoelaces were suddenly the most fascinating thing in the world. Rikuto seemed to understand. “Don’t worry, just look at it as a nice way to show off what you can do, use that Japanese wizardry of yours, and maybe meet some other fans of that tennis thing! I hear a lot of auditionees are big fans, just like you.”

That would be nice - he’d never met another fan face to face, and he couldn’t see a whole lot of downsides to having more people to discuss the quirks of his favourite characters with. At the same time, though, he was not ready, and rummaged in his bag to get his iPod and avoid any further conversation.


“Oh, nice! Hey, I have some cables in the glove compartment - see if you can plug your iPod into the car! Throw on some tennis tunes for me.”

Kyungsoo spent the entire journey to the hotel cringing at the overly dramatic lyrics that Rikuto definitely understood and resisting the urge to sing along. Rikuto yelled along to the catchier choruses in what Kyungsoo thought might be an attempt to break the ice, but right now, if he dared open his mouth to something TeniMyu related he would probably throw up. He did relent and hum a little bit, though.

The rest of the day was spent panicking. Panicking about what to wear to his audition (was this sportswear too casual? Would it look like he didn’t care? Or should he avoid looking too dressy in case they thought he wasn’t a serious performer?) panicking about his chosen song (they like you to have a Prince of Tennis related song prepared. Do you think you can do that?) panicking about his Japanese failing him (was his dictionary charged??) and most of all, panicking about everything going absolutely fine and not getting a part anyway. Only a select few higher ups in the company knew about this audition; not even the other EXO members knew why Kyungsoo was going away for the weekend, but even one person who knew was one person too many to disappoint now.

He didn’t even have any particular characters he wanted to read for! How could he possibly feel prepared when he couldn’t choose even one or two characters out of at least fifty total that he wanted to audition to play? He was wasting everybody’s time, wasn’t he?

“Stop moping and eat your dinner.” Rikuto kicked him lightly under the table that evening as Kyungsoo sulked into a bowl of soba noodles. “No matter what happens tomorrow, just do your best and show them how much you love those tennis-master high schoolers.”

“Middle schoolers,” Kyungsoo mumbled, picking up his chopsticks but making no motion to actually eat any food, “they’re middle schoolers.”

“See? Tennis trivia champ. Come on, don’t look so sad, it’s making me sad. Be excited! You get to spend all of tomorrow around people who take Prince of Tennis seriously! Come on, tell me about your favourite characters or something, anything to turn that frown upside down and get you eating those noodles before they get cold.”

Kyungsoo paused a moment, chopsticks halfway to his bowl. “Are you serious?”

“Yes! Don’t be scared of the tennis, live the tennis. Love the tennis.”

Kyungsoo’s noodles did cool down quite a lot before he finished eating them, his mouth somewhat occupied as he began telling Rikuto all about every member of Saint Rudolph Academy, but Rikuto was apparently a very good actor and almost seemed interested down to the last little details in the character bios. He was probably just glad to see Kyungsoo eating and not melting down internally for a couple of hours.

‘Jongin: Goodnight! Have fun on your trip - take a photo at the Pokémon Center for me? Sweet dreams <3’

‘Kyungsoo: I will. You’re the only one who messaged me - I don’t suppose everyone else hopes I have nightmares?’

‘Jongin: No!! We’ve been practicing choreo today and Sehun and I got out early. It’s nice to know I’m the first though.’

‘Kyungsoo: Jonginnie, the only other member who loves me.’

‘Jongin: Chanyeol does, but he’s having a bad time controlling his limbs today and the teacher is getting kinda frustrated. He told me tell you goodnight too, but I wanted to do it first.’

‘Kyungsoo: Goodnight Jongin.’

The rest of the night was spent in anxious silence, as the big day drew ever closer and the year of preparation wound down to be tested. Everything rested on tomorrow. He couldn’t put even a foot wrong.

The thoks of tennis balls followed Kyungsoo into fitful sleep.

The audition venue wasn’t very big, or very flashy. A small, out of the way place that Kyungsoo would never have found without Rikuto and his custom GPS that squealed directions like Sailor Moon.

“You’re registered already, so you’ve just got to go in, give your name, and they’ll tell you what to do next.” Rikuto beamed at Kyungsoo as the latter realised in horror that his guide would not be accompanying him inside. “How are you feeling, tiger?”

“I don’t know if the Japanese language has the words to express how bad I am feeling right now.”

But Rikuto just laughed at him. “Speak Japanese as well as you have been so far, and you’ll be just fine. Just flash them a smile, look a little less like you’re walking into your own funeral, show them your stuff, and make sure they all know just how much you adore tennis of both the animated and musical varieties. Send me a LINE message when you get out, okay?” Kyungsoo nodded, biting his lip a little as he glanced between the doorway and his companion. “All right! Korea represent!”

And then Rikuto was gone.

And Kyungsoo was alone.

Determined not to spend another second with only his thoughts for company, Kyungsoo turned and headed into the building before he was really thinking about it. He didn’t want to be in that horrible silence inside his own head anymore.

He got his wish almost immediately, as the second he stepped into the audition building the whole atmosphere changed. Dozens upon dozens of young men - wide-eyed, optimistic, and in many cases obviously nervous - milled around the entrance hall, buying last-minute drinks from the vending machines or chatting with friends (old or new? Kyungsoo couldn’t be sure) or starting their warm up stretches. A small group in matching sweatpants moved away from the desk, where a single female clerk somehow managed to get on with her job without being distracted by the dazzling array of neon sports gear on display. She glanced up, adjusted her glasses, and watched Kyungsoo for a moment.

“Hello,” she called, apparently deciding she hadn’t seen him yet today, “are you here for the Musical The Prince of Tennis auditions? You can sign in over here.” Kyungsoo hurried over to her, self-conscious after the clerk announced his arrival to the entire room. Nobody seemed to mind. “What’s your name?”

Being asked that question was the most amazing novelty. He wondered if it would ever stop being that way. “Do Kyungsoo.”

If she recognised the name, she made no indication of it, simply scanning through the lists pinned onto the walls behind her desk until she stopped at his name. It was written out phonetically, so it probably wasn’t hard to find.

“Ah, you’re in audition group C. This is yours.” She handed Kyungsoo a lanyard with a small card slotted into it. Fifty one. He put it around his neck. “If you go to the vending machines and turn right, you’ll see group A’s room - just keep going down the hall from there and you’ll find your room. Your group will be seen in half an hour. Best of luck today!” She smiled with the practiced politeness that made it clear she had said this to every single auditionee to walk in the door, but Kyungsoo appreciated it anyway and after thanking her, headed down the hall to locate group C’s room.

“Another one!!” Someone yelled excitedly from inside the studio the moment Kyungsoo opened the door. He almost considered turning around and walking out, but there was too much at stake for that. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open a little wider and headed inside.

A small group of men waited for him there, in similarly loud activewear to the ones outside and number cards in lanyards around their necks, numbered from the late forties to early fifties.. One, with hair so…amazingly crimped that Kyungsoo almost wanted to take a photo to preserve the experience, bounced on the balls of his feet, rushing forwards to shake Kyungsoo’s hand. “Hiya! Where are you from?”

What a funny question to start with. “Ko...rea……?”

“Yes! I knew it! I knew we’d get another country in here!” The boy grinned widely. “Sorry, this is like, the foreigner room, and all the other rooms have twenty guys or more, so we had this bet going about whether or not we’d get any more countries represented before the audition starts. I’m Richie by the way - I’m from Hong Kong!” Kyungsoo had thought the boy….Richie’s….Japanese had been somewhat accented, but his limited experience meant he could never be sure if he was faced with a regional Japanese accent or a foreign one. He also spoke really fast, and it was a little hard to keep up with him. “So, Korea, what’s your name?”

He could answer this one by now. “Do Kyungsoo.” It may not have worked very well, but Kyungsoo did try his best to smile a little at the end there, to be nice.

Richie clapped his hands together. “Great! Come on, Kyungsoo! Meet the gang!”

The ‘gang’ despite having only been in a room together for about twenty minutes, were all a fairly friendly bunch. There were eight foreign auditionees in total, including Kyungsoo himself and Richie - another from Hong Kong, three from Taiwan, one from Singapore and one from, impressively, Australia. Kyungsoo didn’t catch everyone’s names, but figured there would be more than enough time to get to know them later if they all got parts in the musical.

The musical they were auditioning for.


Oh god.

“Hey, hey, who’s your favourite character? Or team? If you’re into the show I mean.”

Fortunately most of the room seemed to be, and they passed the time almost comfortably, amiably chattering away about this character and that captain and what occurrences in the series were just dumb luck and which ones constituted total bullshit, with minimal consulting of dictionaries from anyone in the room. Kyungsoo had been very glad to see the others with dictionaries too - they were on relatively even ground in that aspect at least. Occasionally one or two would wander away from the group, stretch, sing a few scales, nervously text a loved one, and then come back. It reminded Kyungsoo a little bit of being a trainee.

And just like his trainee days, the next time the door opened after that all-important half hour had passed, it was as if fear for their very lives had been struck into the hearts of everyone as they scrambled to make an orderly line by the wall. Judges.

Three men and two women entered the room, with one of the men holding a camera, the woman at the rear of the group carrying a large pile of papers and the other three, clipboards. The woman at the front of the group smiled over at the auditionees in such a way that Kyungsoo wondered if their terror was so obvious even the judges were pitying them. “Hello gentlemen,” she began, her pronunciation clear, “thank you for coming along today. Now, as you may have realised, your group are the non-Japanese applicants. Because of this, we will be conducting the audition a little differently to the other groups.” Differently? Kyungsoo wasn’t sure how to feel about that, but before he could overthink it, the woman went on. “In the other groups everyone takes their turn to sing the songs they prepared, then read from some scripts, and finally a short dance section. Your group, however, may need more time to study the scripts before reading them for us. So, you will sing first, then go over your scripts while we take audition groups A and B. After that, we will come back for you. Is everyone clear?” A couple of the men hadn’t been so clear, so she repeated herself, a little bit slower.

As she spoke, Kyungsoo stewed over this strange audition order. Okay, so they were just getting more time to read their scripts and understand them before reading them. Nothing else would be different.

The second woman had by now settled at a piano in the corner of the room, the papers she had been carrying now sat on top of it. They appeared to be musical scores. On the other side of the room stood the man with the camera, setting up a tripod. Oh. They were going to film the auditions. Okay. No pressure. None at all. A lot.

When the first number was called, it was the Australian boy, Michael’s turn. The transformation he underwent from the calm, laid back young man Kyungsoo had been chatting with for the past half an hour to the literally shaking figure before the judges now was almost shocking, like two entirely different people. Kyungsoo couldn’t help but wonder how many of the auditionees - not just in his group, but any of them - had any experience with entertainment, or even auditions at the minimum. Michael didn’t seem to be one of them as he stammered through a basic introduction.

The song he had prepared wasn’t one Kyungsoo knew, but the pianist seemed to have a score ready - ah, so that was what those papers were, TeniMyu scores. It was a pretty respectable performance, if a bit shaky, but he couldn’t help but feel like the nerves had sealed it for Michael already. The judges only smiled and nodded, scribbling on their clipboards while Michael’s eyes flicked between the camera and the three judging him. He lost his time.

Richie, meanwhile, seemed much more confident, grinning ear to ear as he cheerily introduced himself and asked if they had a score for his chosen song. They did, an upbeat little number Kyungsoo had heard before. Richie danced a little bit on the spot as he practically laughed his way through the verses and Kyungsoo wondered if perhaps the singing character’s natural charm was a part of the song itself, or maybe Richie had just chosen very well. He faltered on a few notes here and there, and ran out of breath at one point, but kept on going and kept smiling - the judges were smiling properly now too, and they looked a lot less intimidating that way.

They immediately became terrifying to Kyungsoo again as he realised that Richie had been wearing the number fifty. Shit.

“Number fifty one?”

“That’s me.” Kyungsoo immediately cringed. Of course it was him. The number was right there around his neck. “My name is Do Kyungsoo, from Korea.”

The rest of his introduction was fairly basic patter, but the judges were nodding and smiling politely, encouraging him to go on. A few eyebrows were raised at his own chosen song, but once again the pianist delivered, and he barely had enough time to panic as a few sweeping chords led him into his audition proper.

It was a fairly late song, in the series, a slow solo ballad by one of the main characters that Kyungsoo knew better than to even think of auditioning specifically for. He’d had second thoughts, as well as third and fourth and fifth ones, but in the end it just seemed to be the best fit for him. There was some unusual vocabulary thrown in as well, which he hoped - however naive he knew it to be - would net him some extra points in the eyes of the judges.

They seemed to be smiling, still. He hoped it was for a good reason and not just being polite about their boredom.

Before he knew it, his song was finished, and number fifty two had stepped forward to introduce himself. Beside him, Richie flashed him an encouraging sort of smile. He thought it was, anyway, though he always seemed to be smiling and it might have meant nothing.

When the time came for the scripts to be handed out, everyone was asked if they had a specific character or two in mind. The group was half and half about that.
“I’d like to read for Sengoku, Gakuto or Kikumaru, please!” Richie had once again turned on the charm as he stood before the judges. “Or any characters like them!”
“I...I’m open to read for anyone.” While Richie was heading back to his backpack on the floor, seemingly striking a victory pose as he glanced over his scripts, Kyungsoo put everything he had into not flubbing his Japanese. The judges murmured to each other behind their clipboards, nodding and humming, before the man on the end of the row picked out two scripts from a folder and handed them to Kyungsoo. “Thank you.”

He too returned to his bag and sat down, pulling out his electronic dictionary. He didn’t know how to read the characters at the top of the pages, which were probably the characters’ names, but upon closer inspection, they had tiny phonetic script printed above them.

Oishi. Wow. No way was that happening. Kyungsoo had ruled out any of the main protagonists quite a while ago. He looked at the other one. Kaneda. Interesting.

The judges, cameraman and pianist took their leave, and Richie immediately clapped his hands together in delight. “You guys were all great! Did you get scripts for anyone you wanted?”

The auditionees made a small circle on the floor, checking vocabulary against their electronic dictionaries and reading the same sentences over and over and over with different intonation or emotion behind them. Kyungsoo bit his lip hard enough he worried he may have drawn blood from it.

He was going to have to act angry.

‘Jongin: Are you having fun in Japan?’

Kyungsoo was distracted from rehearsing his scripted furious tirade by the sound of his phone vibrating. As he unlocked the device, the time displayed sent a chill through his bones. The judges were probably going to be back soon, and he didn’t feel ready at all.

‘Kyungsoo: I’m doing great yeah’

Now, Kyungsoo knew he was not a poor actor. He had been in movies. He had taken tons of acting classes in Korea. Nor was he a shy actor - working on set with dozens of strangers does that to you.

But somehow he couldn’t shake his nerves when that dreaded camera came back into the room, the judges with it. Once again he had to sit and wait for the others to take their turns before he could get his own over with and once again, they were fairly tough acts to follow. Kyungsoo did his best, though - the contrast between his assigned scene as Oishi, speaking affectionately to his doubles partner, and his scene as Kaneda ranting at his own, would give him a chance to show off his range of abilities. At least, he told himself that as he pushed down his panic.

It went smoothly enough, even if he had to follow his place on the script with a pencil to make sure he didn’t get lost. Nobody commented on it, and once he was done the judges exchanged a few whispers before telling him he could sit back down.

Dancing came shortly after, but it was nothing like Kyungsoo had feared - just a simple exercise of following a set routine and trying to remember it in ten minutes. He may not have been the most natural dancer, but he was prepared for stuff like this. He thought for a moment how Jongin (and Sehun, and Yixing, but mostly Jongin) would take to the audition. They’d probably be able to pass this section in their sleep.

“Do any of you have any other skills or hobbies that might be useful information for us?” One judge asked when the group had taken a chance to catch their breath against the wall. Not all of them were particularly used to dancing.

Kyungsoo thought for a moment. What were his skills? Acting, singing and dancing - and they’d already been tested on those. He shook his head.

One of the boys from Taiwan was into amateur opera, the Singaporean had previous experience as a contortionist. “Street dance,” Richie had hummed in thought for a moment, “and parkour.” Kyungsoo couldn’t think of anything that cool to talk about, and shook his head again.

With a soft beep, the camera switched off, and it was over.

“Thank you, everyone. If successful, you will be contacted within the month. You may now leave.”

And Kyungsoo did just that, once all obligatory goodbyes and good lucks were said and hands were shaken. Stopping at a convenience store around the corner for some comfort snacks, he messaged Rikuto asking him to come and pick him up, and perched on a wall outside the venue while trying not to freak out in a public place. He just barely succeeded, and Rikuto didn’t arrive a moment too soon.

“Hey champ!” Rikuto wound down the window, turning down the previously incredibly loud radio but not switching it off entirely. Kyungsoo hurried into the car and upon putting on his seatbelt, let out a breath he hadn’t even realised he was holding. “How did it go?”

“Average.” He sighed. “Really, really average. Like, it didn’t go badly…”

“Which means it went well!”

“Just average!”

“Hey now, don’t look so upset! You’ve still got a ton of fun ahead of you tomorrow before your flight home, and we can go for dinner again tonight while you tell me more about Saint Robert Academy.”

Kyungsoo, face hidden in his hands, muttered, “it’s Saint Rudolph…”

“Right!” He turned the radio up again - Kyungsoo couldn’t follow the interview that was playing and felt a good twenty times worse about his Japanese and his audition and his entire life than he had before. “So I obviously need you to tell me again! Come on tiger, let’s go get some tempura or something.”

Kyungsoo took the photos at the Pokémon Center like Jongin asked him to, and picked up some packs of cookies to take back for the members. He had also found himself entirely unable to resist a small, plush Pikachu wearing a kimono despite having no use for it. He gave that to Jongin, too, a gesture which was met with an excited hug that Kyungsoo would have dared class as a cuddle had it been anybody else. “Oh my gosh! Thank you so so much! She’s so cute I’ll treasure her forever!”

“Kyungsoo loves Jongin more than he loves the rest of us.” Baekhyun flopped back on the couch, half on Kyungsoo’s suitcase, whining melodramatically. Kyungsoo threw a cookie at him.

“No, I just don’t love you, Baekhyun.”

“Don’t worry Baek, I love you.” Chanyeol leaned over the back of the couch to loop his arms around Baekhyun’s neck. Jongdae pulled a face at them, making kissy sounds.

“There’s more than enough love for everybody,” Joonmyun tutted, taking a cookie from the box, “though I can’t fault Kyungsoo for having favourites.”

“You just want him to buy you anime figurines.” grumbled Baekhyun. “At least with Jongin hanging off him it frees up the rest of us to babysit Sehun.”

Sehun spluttered, mouth full of cookie. “I’m not a baby!”

Minseok joined them just as Sehun threw the first cushion at Baekhyun. He could only sigh. “You’re all babies.”

It was a long, torturous wait for the end of the month - the deadline by which Kyungsoo had to be contacted if he hoped for a role. There would definitely be a delay in information, as he had been registered with Rikuto’s contact information and the older boy would then have to get in touch with EXO’s manager to let him know, but every day that went by was another day in which he hadn’t heard a thing, and it was starting to get a bit much.

“Are you okay…?” Jongin had whispered sleepily into the darkness when Kyungsoo’s phone lit up his side of the room. It was two in the morning, and he had been almost sure that Jongin would be asleep by now. At first, he didn’t answer, until Jongin whispered again, “hyung?”

“I’m fine, Jongin.”

“You’ve barely slept since you got back from Japan.” Oh. Had Jongin really noticed?? He thought he was being more subtle about that. “Did something happen?”

“No. Everything’s fine. I didn’t sleep very well in Japan either.” It wasn’t a lie.
A soft shuffling of blankets, quiet padding footsteps, a weight at the end of Kyungsoo’s bed. Kyungsoo sat up, just able to see Jongin sitting there in the light of his phone screen. “Are you really okay…?”

Kyungsoo just looked at the blanket, instead of meeting Jongin’s eye. “Yes. I am absolutely fine.”

And then Jongin had shuffled right up to him, pulling him close against his chest. Kyungsoo could hear the younger’s heartbeat - it was steady, relaxing. “It’s...okay to not be fine, you know. It’s okay to be down. I’ll hold you up as best I can in the meantime.”

Kyungsoo wanted to thank him, or say something remotely intelligent to that effect, but Jongin’s arms around him and gentle fingertips running through his hair sent Kyungsoo gently into sleep, breathing softly in time with his heart.

He had auditioned in December. The excitement of Christmas and the new year were sullied somewhat by his ever growing nerves, until new year’s day finally arrived, and with a heavy heart, Kyungsoo obediently made his way to the manager’s office to which he had been summoned. He’d failed, hadn't he? It was January now. It had all been for nothing.

Except, when he got to the office, his manager was smiling widely.

“Good news, D.O.,” he held up a piece of paper with some messily scribbled notes on it, “Rikuto got in touch with us. You’ve had a callback - you’ll be returning to Japan this weekend to the same venue as before to show them a little more of what you can do. This probably means they have a particular character or type in mind for you, though it didn’t sound like they’d be telling you who.”

Taking the paper from him, Kyungsoo’s mind raced to catch up with what he was hearing. He was being called back? They wanted to see him again? “Th-thank you.”

“Remember, the battle is not yet won. You still need them to choose you for whoever it is they’re thinking of, instead of another applicant. Don’t let us down.”

“I won’t.”

“Good. Now, head back to your dorm and start packing - we already have a story to tell the rest of the members…”

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