1

June kept sighing as he gazed at his phone. Jay glanced at him through the rearview mirror and wondered what had caused his demise.

Was he having trouble with his girlfriend?

But he shouldn't have a girlfriend!

Or maybe he was reading hateful comments?

Jay's expression softened as he continued to stare at June.

Even if he acts nonchalantly most of the time, he still must be hurting from all the hate he's receiving.

As the center of EVE, June definitely received the most hate out of all the members.

"Hey," Jay said, breaking the silence. "Are you alright?"

"Huh?" June raised his head, looking lost. "Ah, yeah. I'm alright."

Jay was once again saddened. June appeared to be out of it!

Meanwhile, June was taking down notes on the roasts he had received on his personal account.

- Sleep on a highway.

- Yo, this guy's actually pretty handsome.

- Yeah, because he's using June's face and combining it with his real face.

- You will never beat the original!

- June would spit on you in real life.

People were very creative these days, and June would have found it funny if it weren't for the decrease in his follower count.

At this point, he wasn't going to finish his mission!

"You can tell me anything, June," Jay said. "I'm your confidant now."

June scoffed as he turned off his phone.

"You're being too sweet. I don't like it," he deadpanned.

Jay chuckled. "I'm just doing my job as a manager. Come on, tell Papa Jay what's bugging your mind."

June shook his head. "Never refer to yourself as 'Papa' again."

"Alright," Jay chuckled. "I won't. Can you tell me what's on your mind now?"

June sighed before opening up to his manager.

"How many followers do you have on Navel?" he asked.

"Weird question," Jay pointed out. "But around 80,000."

"What?" June exclaimed loudly, surprising Jay.

"Why?" he asked, holding onto his chest. "Is it that surprising?"

"Where did you get those followers?" June asked.

"During Rising Stars," Jay said. "I was pretty active then."

"And your username is?" June asked.

"BigDaddyJay," he nonchalantly responded. "But I changed it to 'JustJay' now."

June pursed his lips since he couldn't believe Jay had more followers than him, even with his equally atrocious, if not more atrocious, username.

"In a hypothetical situation," June continued. "How will you increase your follower count?"

"Hmm," Jay hummed. "Well, at first, I posted my raps on there. Nobody really paid attention to them, but when I joined Rising Stars, more people started tuning in."

"Most of it was hate comments," Jay chuckled. "But they also continued tuning in to my content, so I wasn't too mad. I stopped uploading after the show, though, so my follower count has been sluggish ever since."

"But if I would give you some advice, I say start posting content that you enjoy putting out," he advised.

Then, he glanced back at June.

"I don't think you would have any trouble increasing your follower count, though. Just post your picture, and people will automatically follow you."

'I already did that,' June thought.

"Or if you're having a hard time growing it on your own, just ask the company or your members to help you," Jay continued.

'I also can't ask for help because of the stupid conditions Fu had set,' June sighed.

"Making your username catchy yet simple also helps. Sometimes changing it does all the work."

June pursed his lips in frustration.

That was three for three!

He couldn't do any of those!

***

It was already late in the afternoon when EVE finished with their practice.

June got permission from Jay to get supplementary lessons from a vocal coach, and fortunately, he was also able to convince the company to let him go.

So, now, June was standing outside a suspicious-looking house with vines all over its walls and gates.

Jay looked at the house from inside the car, peeking his head out to inspect the strange infrastructure.

"Are you sure we're in the right place?" Jay asked. "This looks straight out of a murder documentary."

"Yeah, this is the place," June said, looking at the photo Lee Sik had sent and comparing it with the house before him.

"Alright then. I have to go. Sehun has a photo shoot for an underwear company," Jay said. "I'll pick you up at 6 PM."

June waved his hand goodbye as Jay sped through the rocky road.

June stared at the house before him and let out a deep breath before raising his hand and hovering it above the doorbell.

He was about to press it when the gate suddenly opened, causing him to take a step back in surprise.

A short woman with long hair pushed into a tight bun stood before him. Her head was significantly bigger than the rest of her body, and a frown graced her face. Her eyes were donned with vivid dark blue eye shadow, and two different large gemstones dangled from her ears.

For some reason, she reminded June of Yubaba from 'Spirited Away.'

"June, right?" she asked, her voice sounding deeper than he thought.

June wordlessly nodded.

She then looked him up and down as if scrutinizing his appearance—judging every fiber of his being.

"Pink," she said in a bitter tone. "I hate that color."

June pursed his lips and didn't bother responding.

"I don't usually take students this late, but my best student highly recommended you, so I decided to break my rules," she continued.

"Make sure you're worth my time," she pointed a finger at him before slowly widening the gate's gap, making him enter the eccentric-looking house.

June meekly entered the house with Magic Mama trailing behind him. He could feel her gaze burning holes in his back, causing him to feel even more scared.

Yes, June was scared.

The old woman was so overwhelmingly powerful that June felt like a little kid in her presence.

"Stop there," the old woman said when they reached what seemed to be a musical room.

It was filled with musical instruments of different sorts—piano, violins, guitars, drum sets, and taxidermied lizards made into flutes?

June stood frozen in the same spot as Magic Mama made her way before him.

She then sat in front of the piano and started playing without any warning.

"Do you know this song?" she asked.

June recognized it to be one of Lee Sik's songs, so he nodded.

"You have a voice box. Speak," she commanded. "Unless you want me to rip your throat open. Now, let me repeat myself—do you recognize this song?"

"Yes, ma'am," June subconsciously answered.

"Good. Sing it," Magic Mama said.

June was once again compelled to follow the old woman's orders.

He started singing the song, sometimes stumbling on his words because of the unexpected test.

June was just about to sing the chorus when she suddenly stopped playing, the piano creating a dissonant sound.

June pursed his lips and placed his hands behind his back as the room was engulfed in silence.

He looked at the ground as he felt Magic Mama's gaze on his face.

She scoffed.

"Your voice is shit."