Jessica.

Red lights, smoke and the drop of the bass. Jessica turned around to the darkness of the stadium but was aware that she was not alone as the screams reverberated off of her chest. A slight smile tugged at the edges of her lips as she walked forward, hands on her hips and feeling powerful as the cheers grew louder as she entered the spotlight.

I want you to breathe me.” The lyrics flowed freely from her lips, the proud result of strenuous practice to prepare for the performance, one of many that she would have to perform alone. The choreography was seamless too, and she was thankful that it was energetic enough to fit the song but not too much that it inhibited her singing. Line after line she sang, but with each line the faint crackle in her ear grew louder and started to irk her, not just hurt her. She cast a hard glance to her right, knowing exactly where the control room was situated within that large and dark stadium, the stage lights blinding her momentarily before she looked back at the large mass of lights in front of her, obstructing her view of her fans but their voices, that was something she could not miss and she fought to smile despite the pain beginning to nag at her ear.

How deep is your love?” She fought to recoil when her voice fed back into her ear as a sharp whine and crinkled her nose slightly instead. She continued singing, not wanting to do some sort of disservice to the fans that waited long and hard to see her, spending God knows how much for merchandise and the ticket to attend. She knew her facial expressions were going to be captured by phone cameras and cameras alike but couldn’t be bothered to let that get to her. Her fans knew what she was like, if she looked pissed it was most likely because something deeply irked her enough to let it show and after spending years in the business, she was a seasoned professional and was accustomed to this kind of issue but it didn’t mean that when it did happen she wasn’t going to be displeased with it. Any performer can relate and her fans would understand it, it wasn’t like it didn’t happen to everyone on stage. If anything at this precise moment, she was glad that the music was still playing instead of cutting off like it did many times before and she remembered to count her blessings as she continued singing.

She had finally reached the bridge after shooting the sound crew multiple glares; each growing in intensity each time the earpiece malfunctioned. If they don’t fix this by the next song, we’re going to have a problem, she thought with frustration. As she retreated to the back of the stage, she grimaced to herself before putting on a face for the audience as the backing track continued playing in the background and as usual, she went through the choreography as she had practised.

How deep is your love?” There it was again. Scrrrtchh. Such an ugly sound; she cast a glance to her right again. She sung the line again but as the scratching sound returned she attempted to adjust the earpiece, pursing her lips briefly before proceeding with the song. This time she shot a grin at the crowd, moving around and across the stage with practised movements as the cheers grew louder. With this, they would surely understand her situation and so, when she checked the fancams the next night, she was right, with a large number of her fans grasping the issue instantaneously. It wasn’t as though she wasn’t clear as watched a video of the performance, nodding at the instances when she shot a look at the crew in the control room, the last one with her openly showing her disappointment before ending the performance like she should; the practised smoulder.

The lights dimmed and she stepped off the stage as a video appeared on the screens, something she shot specifically for the fans and she smiled as she heard audience cheer louder. This smile didn’t last very long as she ripped off the earpiece and shoved it into the arms of a stagehand beside her as she stormed into her changing room, casting a rough glance to the cowering crew standing dumbly on the side, discussing amongst themselves. She was hardly angry, in fact she kept herself strictly professional as possible but this problem had affected her performance and her fans were precious to her; it was disappointing to say the least. Grabbing her next stage outfit, she rushed into the changing utility and was helped by her assistant, the process taking less than a minute – she was well versed in this, it was almost natural to her. As she slumped in the chair in front of the mirror, she released a groan, folding her arms.

“If they haven’t fixed it by the time I step back on that stage, they better be praying that I’m merciful by the end of the next interval because I am not happy, Gabby.” Her sharp and hardened tone surprised her assistant, and she saw her quickly try to cover up her recoil.

“Sorry.” She muttered lowly, and Gabby nodded.

“No, I get it. I’ll make sure they know.” The girl turned towards the door, making several hand movements at the man by the door who in turn made some back before retreating.

“What the hell was that? Were you practising a mime?” She said it in jest but her frustration made it sound insinuating and she grimaced, shaking her head. She was lucky that Gabby had been her friend and assistant for years now and despite getting shocked on occasion, she understood what she felt without Jessica even having to utter a word of explanation.

She smiled, placing a hand on Jess’s shoulder; squeezing it upon contact. “OK, little Miss Spiteful, should I go and buy you those dumplings you love so much?”

“If you do can you buy pizza too?”

“That is a terrible combination, Jess.” She made a disgusted face at the mirror, knowing full well that Jess would see it.

“It is only because you have bad taste.”

At this Gabby scoffed and pat her shoulder, “Sure, sure. Now get up, you have to perform now.”

She pouted but did as she was told, motioning to hug her friend until she was intercepted by the man by the door, who she later found out was a part of the sound crew.

“The stage is ready, Miss Jung. We apologise for the earlier complication but are happy to inform you that it has been promptly fixed and shouldn’t affect the rest of the concert.” He bowed his head in embarrassment and hesitation, afraid she might lash out at him. She didn’t and smiled at him instead – better for co-operation later, and nodded, dismissing him and returned to face Gabby.

“Well, that was a turn.”

“What?” She looked at her quizzically. “The fact that I smiled at him?”

“No, your quick forgiveness, I swear you were in that chair sulking to yourself.” Slapping her arm playfully, Jessica laughed and walked to the door, placing a hand on the handle before turning around one last time.

“Gabby, you better get me those dumplings and the pizza otherwise we’re going to have a problem.”

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