It’s Been (Eighty) Seven Years
“Can’t we just get mangoes?” Everyone’s head in the room turns to Sungyeol.
“Mangoes? What are you talking about?” Sunggyu says, looking at him incredulously. Dongwoo immediately starts laughing, and whether it’s out of nervousness or just because Sungyeol blurted out something random, he doesn’t know. It’s been tense the past few days, and Sunggyu’s normally the first to snap. Sungyeol just wants everyone in the room to calm down for a while until the contract issue clears up and each of the members come to a settlement.
“I mean,” Sungyeol starts, shifting a bit in his seat, “if we get a win on a music show or something, we can get a crate of mangoes or something. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Woohyun starts humming the tune of the song by the Beach Boys, but when Sunggyu’s lazer eyes land on him, he stops abruptly, clearing his throat and looking somewhere else.
Howon and Myungsoo aren’t present, but that’s because Sungyeol knows they’ve got different schedules. They’re just as down as the others since they can’t do their anniversary celebration. It’s been seven years. Everyone’s been waiting for news of the contract renewal. But it’s not easy. It’s taking the members a lot longer to get exactly what they want and how they want it.
Sungjong lets out a sigh. “Hyung, instead of getting mangoes for every win, how about we just name each floor in the building after ourselves? I want mine to be exactly in the middle. The Sungjong Floor.”
“Wait, are you gonna name everything on that floor after yourself? ‘Take a left at the Sungjong Hallway, go around the Sungjong Corner and the Sungjong Bathroom is on your right’? Is that what you want?” Woohyun scoffs lightly. He seems interested though, leaning forward to hear the maknae’s response,
“If the Sungjong Bathroom is made of pure gold, then yeah, why not?”
“I thought you’d go for a jewel encrusted one? You don’t seem like the type to go for gold,” Woohyun smirks, folding his arms across his chest. Sungjong just glares at him. Before he can say a word, though, Dongwoo pipes up.
“How about every month, we tell the company to send something to our families? Or the stylists? Like flowers, or stuffed toy bears.”
“Or puppies,” Sungyeol joins in. “Or, hyung! HYUNG! What if we get a company pet? We could have a mascot sort of thing. A pet that comes in to the company every day for stress relief. Hmm?”
Sunggyu’s staring at them with knotted brows, but then soon smooth out and he bites back a smile.
“I can’t believe you guys,” he says, chuckling softly. “Puppies seem like a good idea.”
Dongwoo gasps. “What if we bring the whole zoo?”
“How about whenever someone gets in a musical, the others all get a month off for vacation?” Woohyun suggests.
“Even better, what if we all just got a month off every year and got to do whatever we wanted?” Sungjong’s eyes sparkle when Sungyeol mentions vacay time.
“Go bike riding with ferrets, obviously.” It’s been one of Sungyeol’s dreams, and if it could actually happen, he’d be set for life.
“How about we change the Woollim logo to something like… a restaurant logo. We could pretend Woollim is a eatery,” Woohyun says.
“Let’s make a garden and name it after our first born,” Dongwoo says.
“Why don’t we just buy a ton of fireworks and set them off on our birthdays?” Sungjong says.
The door on the left opens and one of the managers pokes their head inside the room, glancing at everyone.
“Has anyone decided they want to speak with the CEO? He’s here now,” he says.
The members look at each other, knowing they got carried away with their ideas, but they stifle their laughs instead. Sunggyu shakes his head and looks back at the manager.
“I think we still need to discuss a few things,” he smiles.
The door closes and the others stare at each other for a few seconds before they burst out laughing.
After their giggling subsides, Sunggyu says, “So… who’s gonna tell Myungsoo and Howon about this?”
“Huh. Yeah?” Sungyeol looks up from the game he’s playing on his phone and looks at Myungsoo. He has a frown on his face and it doesn’t look good on him. Sungyeol thinks Myungsoo might have aged a few years because of the drama he’s been in, but he doesn’t say anything.
“You know I don’t like ferrets,” he says in a choked up voice. He sniffs. “Not after that incident.”
Sungyeol makes a face. “What incident? It was just a dream.”
“It was a NIGHTMARE, okay?” Myungsoo says, his voice cracking a bit. “I still remember it so vividly, I-” He places a hand across his face and Sungyeol doesn’t know what to do.
“I’m- I’m sorry, I was just joking about it.”
Myungsoo sighs, blinking away whatever tears were forming in his eyes. “Thank goodness. I don’t ever want to look at a ferret ever again.”
“Are you okay now?”
“Yeah, I’m okay. Thank you,” Myungsoo replies. He flops next to Sungyeol and lays his head on Sungyeol’s shoulder. The older of the two pouts.
“Was it a rough day?” Sungyeol asks. Myungsoo hums in response.
A few minutes later, Myungsoo’s breathing slows down and he starts snoring softly. Sungyeol makes a mental note to tell the CEO that he should lighten up on Myungsoo’s schedule. Maybe he should say in the contracts that there should be an equal amount of work for everyone. Losing sleep from intense schedules was just as bad as lying awake in bed with no schedules.
Howon holds his phone in front of Dongwoo’s face and asks, “What is this.”
Dongwoo blinks, craning his head away from the screen. “Lower the brightness, it’s hurting my eyes,” he says softly. It’s really dark out and Howon always insists to keep his brightness on the highest level it can be. This time though, he brings the brightness to the lowest level and shows Dongwoo his phone again.
All Dongwoo sees is the group chat they’re both in with the other members, something Woohyun made because he wanted to roast everyone (but Sunggyu ends up roasting him instead).
“It’s the group chat,” Dongwoo says, confused.
“Yeah, I know. But why does the title keep changing from ‘Gold Plated’ to ‘Jewel Encrusted’?” Howon says, frowning at Dongwoo. The older of the two lets out a short laugh.
“It’s just something we came up during our little meeting with each other,” he says, his face glowing. “Sungjong wanted his own floor with everything named after him, including the bathroom, but only if it was made of gold.”
“So what about ‘Jewel Encrusted’?”
“Woohyun thought Sungjong would be the type to have that instead of gold,” Dongwoo explains.
“That… actually makes a lot more sense.” Howon lies down next to Dongwoo on the floor.
A beat of silence passes. Howon doesn’t realize Dongwoo’s staring at him until he looks up from his phone.
“You didn’t post anything for the anniversary.”
“I know,” Howon says softly. He’s been busy, Dongwoo knows that. He’s been stressed, Dongwoo knows that too. A lot of pressure is on the members, and there’s so much stress…
“Inspirits are worried,” Howon murmurs. “It’s hard on them too.”
“Everything will be okay, though,” Dongwoo says, closing his eyes. Howon hums in agreement.
“Whatever happens, we’ll be okay.”