The lively whispers and excited chatter were music to Changkyun’s ears, the smile on his face refused to leave.
He’s used to these fan meetings by now, at this point it’s practically routine; the lines, the signings, the high touches, the screaming and squealing that left his ears ringing just a little afterwards.
He loved it.
On the outside he was calm, relaxed even, but inside he was just as giddy as the first time they had a fan meeting half a year ago after their debut, just as giddy as the fans were. There was a kind of rush (no pun intended) to being there, not the same adrenaline-fueled, sensory overload a stage performance gave him. But a calmer and warmer feeling that came from smiling faces and a sense of pride and accomplishment for working hard enough to gain this number of fans.
Also, it was awesome seeing the other members struggle trying to communicate in English.
“Hi! How you doin today?” Changkyun greeted a younger girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen who owned a pair of the lightest brown eyes he’d ever seen; they were big and doe-like but soft. She stuttered and blushed when he took her hands, only able to force out a few words as he spoke then signed her look book. He waved goodbye to her while she stepped down off the stage, with that same starstruck expression lingering on her face.
Changkyun tried not to laugh as a girl was skipping in excitement when she found herself in front of Wonho, three seats away from Changkyun who sat at the end. Hoseok looked lost as to how to react and Changkyun had to fight harder to focus on the fact that Kihyun had leaned in and asked a question.
“Were her eyes really gray?” He meant the girl who was staring at Wonho like he’d hung the stars in the sky and Changkyun didn’t need to look again to remember the real color of her eyes.
He shook his head. “They were orange hyung, more like amber really.” He explained and Kihyun nodded, frowning briefly as if to ponder or think of what orange might look like but Changkyun would never be able to describe it in perfection.
At the start of the table where Hyungwon sat, a girl had brought her sister, a sweet little angel with curly brown pigtails who couldn’t have been more than a toddler. Both girls shared a pair of big rosy pink eyes staring at all seven of them with adoration. Shownu let the older sister put the younger on the table so she could get the hug she wanted and Changkyun decided to step it up by letting her kiss his cheek, basking in squeals and the cooing that came as a reaction.
’That’s zero to one, Hyung what you got?’
“You realize it’s not a competition, right?” Jooheon was amused, taking advantage of the time they’d gotten when there was no one in front of them because of disorganization in the line.
Changkyun just smiled. “Of course I know that. It’s for them not us.”
The fansign continued. Several girls passed Changkyun, all with enchanting eyes, such were the genes the Prismaic people were blessed with; they could have the brightest blues, reds, purples, warm ambers, oranges and striking golds, or so people told him. He didn’t really know what gold looked like. The others always just described it as eye-catching; they said it was kind of a deeper yellow so it must have been as loud and expressive as yellow could be.
For a fleeting second he wished he would meet his soulmate just to get it over with, even if he never saw them again.
But he forced such thoughts out of his mind when a fan with shocking red eyes caught Changkyun’s attention not only because his hair was dyed a bright red to match but because he was in fact, a he.
Holy shit, fanboys exist.
All of them were taken back, surprised and delighted.
“Hey man! How’s it going?” Changkyun actually stood to shake the guy’s hand and pull him into a guy hug.
The fan was surprised, he smiled at Changkyun when they pulled away. “Good. I’m good. But I’m guessing you’re surprised to see me here?” He asked in perfect english as he handed over a copy of Monsta X’s Tresspass.
“Am I ever.” Changkyun smiles, taking the cover and signing it where the others hadn’t yet. “You’re a rare species dude.”
The fan laughs at that. “Don’t I know it. But really, you’d be surprised the number of male fans you have in Prismae. Sonora city especially.”
“Yeah, well you’re about to become an endangered species if you keep holding up the line.”
Changkyun looks to the next girl in the line who was in front of an equally surprised Kihyun. They were both ready to tell her to please just be patient when the guy with the red eyes laughed. “Please. If any of them got something to say, they can say it to my face.”
The girl looked behind her at the line then back to him. “I’m telling you they just might Van, and I’m not willing to carry your filthy corpse all the way back to your place.” She shoves his shoulder lightly, playfully, like a friend would. “Go dude!”
The guy, Vann, gets down off the stage but not before turning back one last time. “Go on bitch, get it done.” He says back to the girl who just flips him off.
“Sorry about that.” She tell Changkyun and he gets over his confusion and surprise enough to register her English was just as good as Vann’s but still accented by her Prismaic tongue and her were eyes deep, piercing, the kind that lesser people would shy away from because of the intensity of her gaze. Changkyun found himself at war between ducking his head and staring back when she kept looking at him. “Just didn’t want to cause a riot.”
He takes note of the Rush album she’s slid across the table. “Nah, I get it, don’t worry.“ He smiled at her, signing with the white pen he brought along just for situations like this. While he does he waits for the girl to say something; declare how long she’s been following them or how much she admires them but she doesn’t. She just stands there, hands shoved in the pocket of her ripped jeans, waiting for him to finish. At some point he couldn’t take the silence anymore.
"You’re not a fan are you?”
She smiles. “What gave it away?”
“You’re too detached. Not like, I don’t want to be here, detached but just like I could be doing something else and would be okay, kind of detached.” He hoped that made sense to more than just him but she seemed smart, there was a glint in those eyes hinting at a wit he’d love to test. “You just seem too calm.”
She raised an eyebrow at him in response, almost like she was challenging him to go on. “What if I’m just a chill fan? Surely you’ve met fans like us before.”
“No.” He shakes his head, grinning because he’s figured it out. “Even chill fans at the very least want a hug or ask questions. If I had to say, you’re here for him aren’t you? For Van?”
Her grin confirmed it even before she did. “It’s actually Avan and yeah. I’m here because he wanted to get more than one album signed and called me up when he found out there was a one item limit, which kind of sucks by the way.”
“Yeah, it does. Sorry, it wasn’t our idea.” He frowns, sharing her thoughts on the rules; it was pretty lame but it was there at certain fansigns for arguably good reasons like giving everyone in line enough time to get something signed and making sure the boys had time afterwards for whatever their management had scheduled for them which happened to be a interview with Prismaculture, to be followed by a photoshoot.
“But hey.” He switched topic, acting like he was signing the cd again to fool the staff. Under the table he taps Kihyun’s thigh, who would do the same to Hyungwon at the start and signal them to slow down the process of their signing and conversation. “Do you at least know some of our music? Heard it from your friend?”
She shakes her head. “Unfortunately I haven’t had much time for things like that these past few years. School and work take up too much of it, I’m afraid.”
For some reason that disappoints him. He could picture this girl in his head singing along to their songs or maybe rapping to his parts and found that he liked the imagery. It didn’t hurt that she was pretty cute and her eyes were enchanting, an odd mix between yellow and brown he didn’t quite know the name for. He was no expert on color names after all.
“Hey, you done yet? I don’t want any of these girls to maul me for hogging you for too long.”
He was not done, he’d just been idly hovering the tip of the white marker above the album and never actually touched it. He just liked talking to her. “Oh yeah, sorry.” He quickly scribbled his signature across the cover maybe a little too largely and handed it back. “Here ya go.”
“Thanks.” She says before she follows Van’s path off the stage and even though Changkyun’s already got another fan in front of him, his eyes linger on her. So he doesn’t miss how she stops dead in her tracks and snaps her fingers like she’s forgotten something.
She quickly turns back around and climbs up to the stage again then pulls out an old camera from a sling bag he hadn’t seen her wearing before.
He shakes his head and waves his hand back and forth to stop her before security is forced to. “Wait! You can’t take our pictures.”
“It’s not your picture I’m taking.” She scoffs before she turns around and faces the crowd of girls waiting. She yells something in Prismaic he doesn’t understand save for one word; idol.
“MONSTA X!!” All of the girls shout back.
“Serecinde!” She yells, raising the camera to her eye and Changkyun does recognize the word this time. It was Prismaic for “Cheer” or “Make some noise!”
All the fans smile and cheer just as as the camera flashes.
“Atsaiya!” The girl called out, thanking them all as the picture slides out of the top of her camera. She pulled it free and shook it a bit before turning back to a bewildered Changkyun. “Here.” She held it out for him.
It was still developing when he took it but he could already see the faint outline of the crowd, their smiling faces, happy and excited to see them. He loved it. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” She nods, giving him a salute and a small knowing smile “See you later.” She walked away and didn’t come back this time and he’s a little disappointed that she didn’t. He hadn’t even gotten her name.
She is still on his mind when they return to their hotel room and the rest of the guys are sorting through the things fans had given them throughout the day. He sat on the edge of his bed, staring at the photo she’d given him even as Minhyuk and Wonho were rolling on the floor in front of him, fighting for their lives over a teddy bear.
“SHE GAVE IT TO ME!”
“I JUST WANNA SEE IT!”
“Oh my god, hyung just let him borrow it!” Hyungwon lifted his head up from his pillow just to tell them off, only to let it fall back down. Not a minute later he was snoring again.
While Minyuk was left pouting by his bed, and Wonho manhandling the teddy like a child, Kihyun, Jooheon and Shownu were the only ones making progress through the pile of gifts.
“Yah! Hyung take a look this!” Jooheon pulled a small square canvas from the cache and presented it. On it was a oil painting of Shownu, depicting him standing under a tree, while rain fell around him. It was mesmerizing, so life-like; it had the others going “ooh” and “ah” but Changkyun just couldn’t find it in him to focus on it.
“Wow, this is so cool,” Shownu handled the canvas with care, as if he would somehow destroy if he didn’t. He turned it over and read the message from the fan who’d given it, his smile widening as he did. “Monbebe are so talented!”
Kihyun nodded. “And so generous.” He pulled out a little black box from the gifts and opened it up; his expression turned into one of astonishment a moment later. “Woah!”
“What?! What is it!?” Shownu leaned forward and pulled at Kihyun’s wrist, placing the box between them. “Oh! Are those real?”
They had almost everyone’s attention then; Changkyun was still off in his own world. The others gathered around, staring down in wonder at the expensive-looking watch and necklace in the box. They all recognized the label and saw the craftsmanship of both items. If anything it only made them wonder more.
“Who had this kind of money!?”
“Are they really just giving this to us?”
“And if they are, who gets it?”
“Changkyun take a look at this!”
Even in the faint light they glinted; and he could have just ignored it and them if, out of the corner of Changkyun’s eye, he hadn’t seen it glitter the same color that had been haunting him all day. His eyes widened, he lunged for the box.
“Hey! Watch it!”
The others backed off and allowing him to hold it.
Changkyun stared at it, scrutinized it, trying to figure out what it was he was looking at but he came up with about as much as he started with. It didn’t make sense.
He didn’t answer.
“Um..” Jooheon reached out to touch his shoulder. “Changkyun?”
His looked up so fast, it made Jooheon recoil like he’d just been burnt.
“What the hell?” Changkyun held the necklace up to the light, as if he saw it in an all new way; he tugged at the links, twisted the pendant over in his hand. “What is this?”
Jooheon exchanged looks of concern with the other, if not concern there was curiosity. “It’s a necklace.” He didn’t know what else to answer.
“I know that!” Changkyun rolled his eyes, he held the necklace out, asking them to look again. “I meant what’s it made of?”
Someone knocks on the door of their hotel room. It could only be their manager, telling them their four hours of rest were over and it was time for them to get to Prismaculture for their interview and photoshoot.
Shownu went to answer the door while Kihyun was the one to take the necklace from him, pulling it closer to look for the engraved number on the clasp. “Gold. It’s real gold.”
Changkyun felt his heart stop in his chest.
Gold. Like the color he couldn’t quite place. The color he’d never known. Gold, like that girl’s eyes. He could see it.
“Time to go boys!”
Phyierra Thissel does not cry.
This was the girl everyone in Prismaculture knew as “The Machine”; it wasn’t because she was unfeeling or cold but because she was known to be able to keep working for hours on end and still be ready when you handed her another assignment. Technically she was an intern, a student working there for experience but everyone, even the most senior of producers and editors, knew she was in charge and if not, she would most definitely be in the future. Do not get in her way, do not try to question her authority or her vision, you’re wrong, period. Those piercing golden eyes of hers were always clear and resolute, unwavering against any adversity, they did not crack under pressure or tear up.
Which was why Avan had no idea what to do when they did.
“Did something happen to your mom? To Riya or Teya?”
She shook her head, buried in her hands. Her tears spilled through her fingers.
“Did you lose a camera?”
She shook her head, offended by the very idea.
“Did you finally find your camera?”
Again, she shook her head, this time with sadness and guilt weighing her head down further.
Phyierra looked up. She recognized his expression; it was a mix of concern, frustration and fear. He had never seen her like this, she knew that because she made sure no one ever would. Still she had seen that expression before, seen it the same way for years but something changed this time.
Avan had his hands splayed into his red hair, pleading with her for an explanation with his red eyes that contrasted with his beautiful tan skin. The room they had been prepping for the interview was plain brown, the floors linoleum gray. The sky outside was blue, the clouds were white, the strands of hair that fell in her face were soft, muted orange.
“I can see…”
Avan followed her line of sight to the window then looked back to her. “See?” He knelt in front of her, putting a hand on her shoulder. “See what? What are you talking about Phy?” He made her look at him though he hadn’t needed to.
“Your eyes…they’re beautiful.” She gazed deep into them, memorizing the exact shade, the value, hue and intensity and finding herself enchanted. “You lied to me. Red isn’t scary at all.”
His eyes widened in realization.
The doors of the break room burst open and Mitry comes in grinning only for that grin to be replaced with alarm at seeing Phyierra in a crumple on the floor, her eyes sore and puffy as she stared at him in wonder, like he was alien or magical creature she’d never encountered before. “Uh, what happened?!”
“She can see…” Avan trailed off, as awe struck as Phyierra, maybe even more so.
Mitry just looked confused. “See?”
“Color!” Phyierra exclaimed in utter delight, rising to her feet. She grinned at him like a Cheshire cat who planned to steal a madman’s hat. “I can see color, Mit! I see it all! Your eyes! What color is that?!”
Mitry’s jaw fell slack. For as long as he’d known Phyierra (and that was a long-ass time) he’d known her to have total colorblindness. Not just blind to her soulmate’s color, blind to it all; she’d been the most unfortunate person he’d known, being born with monochromatic vision; something so rare that only 1 person in 33,000 could have it. She’d told him before it was something like watching an old television show; everything was in varying shades of gray. So for her to come up to him to say she could see color, all of it, made his brain short circuit and he was unable to respond.
Avan did so for him. “They’re green, Phy. But not like grass or trees, more like the ocean.”
“That’s what the ocean looks like?” Phyierra’s voice broke, imagining it. She’d been by the ocean hundreds of times, travelled by sea, done photoshoots on the beach and had found it enrapturing even when it was just a plain gray but to think the ocean could be a color as beautiful as Mitry’s eyes made her tear up all over again. “I want to see it! I want to see it all!”
“What does a rainbow look like? Is it as pretty as they say?”
“What about Lawris park?!”
“When’s it going to rain next?!”
She wasn’t listening. She ran to the window, opening it up and sticking her head through it; she gazed out at the Sonora City in wonder, a thrill she hadn’t felt since she was a child just learning about the world ran through her. Everything was different, yet the same. The city looked gray but had dabbled spots of color everywhere. “Wow…” her breath was taken away, watching a Prismaic pigeon with it’s multicolored feathers fly by. She reached out for it.
Two pairs of hands pulled her back before she could tip and yet as she fell to the floor on top of Mitry and Avan her grin hadn’t faded. She stood up and made a bee-line for the door.
“Where is she going?!” Avan rose to his feet, offering Mitry a hand. “We can’t leave her alone like that.”
Mitry flinched at the soreness in his tailbone. “No kidding.” Phy had fallen right on top of him and used him as a springboard to get up, shoving him to the floor a second time. “I haven’t seen her act like this since we were kids and she discovered photography.” He recalled those time, all those years ago and having to pull her back off the edges of balconies, sidewalks, tree branches and a many other things to keep her from hurting herself while she tried to get the perfect shot, disregarding her safety and giving Mitry early hypertension.
“What exactly happened this morning?” Mitry walked as he talked, more like they ran really, knowing that Phyierra was quick on her feet. “I thought you guys were just going to some fan meeting with that idol group you like.”
Avan nodded, he scanned the office as they came down to it, looking for the telltale orange hair and gold eyes. “We were there.” He confirmed, pushing open the door to the stairwell as they didn’t have the time to wait for the elevator. “She came with to help me get two albums signed. She seemed fine then!”
“Then what could’ve-“ Mitry froze right as he set his foot down on the next step.
Avan stopped too. “What? What is it?”
“Did…did she talk to anybody there? Meet someone new?” Mitry’s brain was going at a mile a minute through all the possibilities, eliminating one after the other until he came down to the only one that made sense. “Did Phy meet her soulmate?”
Avan’s eyes widened in alarm. “No! I was with her the whole time and I don’t remember her talking to anyone in particular except me and…”
“And?” Mitry pressed.
“And the boys. Monsta X.”
Their original interviewer had apparently run out of the Prismaculture building grinning like a lunatic and mumbling the names of colors as she went and hadn’t return yet so they were instead interviewed by a Dok, a Korean speaking, young man Changkyun was delighted to see because his eyes were gold. They were bright and intelligent but they paled in comparison to the eyes of that girl.
To his soulmate’s.
As the interview was wrapped up, him having spaced out through most of it and the members covering for him out of understadning, he wanted to slap himself for thinking earlier that day at the fanmeet he’d be fine with meeting his soulmate just to get the last color he’d been missing in his life and then never seeing them again. He had been an idiot. His mother, older friends, sunbaes at Starship told him there was an undeniable spark between soulmates demanding they find each other and stay together and he’d dismissed it all as lovesick bullshit.
Again, an idiot.
He had to find her again. To see her, talk to her; he had to. But he didn’t have much to go on other than her eyes, her being a photographer and her friend. It wasn’t hard to remember his name as he was one of the few male fans at that meeting. Still, he muttered it over and over again to himself to make sure he knew it.
“Oh, you know Avan?”
Changkyun head snapped up. “What?”
“Yeah, Avan.” Dok nodded, oblivious to what he just said and what it meant to Changkyun. “Red hair, red eyes. You know he’s actually a fan of you guys and he was supposed to be one of your interviewers but he had to go chase after Phyierra when she ran out to-“
Changkyun stopped caring at red hair and eyes. He lunged forward, grabbing Dok by the shoulders and ignoring the others protests and exclamations. “Where is he?!”
Dok is frozen is shock. If he’d known this was how his day was gonna go…
“I-I don’t know!” He stuttered, not quite out of fear; that wasn’t what Chankgyun made him feel, it was more like he was just caught off guard. “He’s probably still chasing Phyierra!”
Changkyun felt his spirits drop a little but he refused to let that deter him. “What’s his number?! What time will he get back?”
“After your photoshoot in Lawris! He’s part of the crew!”
Chankgyun kissed the top of his head with a loud smack. “Thanks Dok!”
He ran in the direction of the elevator, once again ignoring the others calling for him and almost closing the door on them until Wonho forced an arm in between the doors.
“Wait for us you dumbass!”
They had found Phyierra in the most obvious place; she was in Damu, the second section of Lawris park running across up the orange hills.
Mitry had to tackle her to the ground.
“Oooooh the sky is pretty! So blue!” She exclaimed as Mitry pinned her down in the grass.
Avan ran up to them panting, regretting the dozens of boxes of pizza and kebobs he’d devoured during the last exam week. “Finally! Jesus Phy, if I wanted a work out I’d go to the gym or get laid!”
“I didn’t tell you to chase after me.” Phyierra smiled at them, continuing to stare up at the sky with dreamy eyes. When it was clear she wouldn’t try to go “exploring” again, Mitry rolled off of her, collapsing onto the green, his chest heaving up and down.
He groaned. “Next time, I’m leaving you to get run over.”
He flipped her off.
“At least you had the sense to come here.” Avan got his words out in between gasps for breath; he allowed himself to fall back on the green (orange?) across from the two of them. “We’ll be able to make it to the photoshoot.”
Phyierra laughed. “Of course I came here. I do have to thank the bastard that literally gave color to my life.”
“Wait what?” Mitry lifted his head up to frown at her. “You mean you know you met your soulmate?”
Phyierra scoffs. “Duh, I talked to one new person all morning and after that I suddenly knew what the world really looks like.” She looked at them like it was the most obvious and easy to understand thing in the world and they stared back like she was crazy and maybe she was. “What other conclusion was I supposed to come to? A miracle?”
“So you knew what you were doing the whole time and weren’t going on some manic, euphoric galavant?!” Mitry’s voice was a mixture of frustration and disbelief, his expression a perfect match to it.
I’m permanently banned from Karaoke World because I once decided to drunkenly… ahhh, maul a girl I’d just met outside on the floor of one of the private booths. My photo is literally pinned above the ticket booth for committing a gay crime on the carpet. Now I spend Saturday nights watching Paranormal Witness. Needless to say, things have taken a slide in recent years.
Anything Boys Can Do… Ethan Minsker 1996 Music Documentary 71 min The underground music world has been characteristically male dominated, both the bands and the audiences. With the upsurge of women involvement in the scene, female bands and musicians are all too often regarded as novelty acts, regularly shrugged off as militant feminist or cutely entertaining. Overwhelmed by the numbers of male bands, female bands of the scene are lumped together in one category, “girl group”, regardless of style, talent or musical content. Anything Boys Can Do… investigates and reveals the issues affecting women in general and as individual performers.
Featuring: Tribe 8 Sexpod Thrust The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Vitapup The Wives Maul Girls and many more