"Wen..." Garth stared wide-eyed at his older brother who was behind the door. For a moment, he questioned whether he really was seeing things right.
"Yo, my little brother Garth. It's been a while." Wen looked almost exactly like the last time Garth saw him. He still had his well-toned physique and carried his guns the same way. He was an assassin, but had a unique gunslinger build.
Garth sighed. "You've been missing for a long time and you just waltz here with a casual greeting. I had a hard time telling mom and dad where you were, you know."
"Forgive me. I had my reasons."
"You have a lot of explaining to do."
"I'll tell you everything when the time is right."
"Garth!" Astrid was happy to see him.
Garth's attention immediately switched to Astrid. "Thank goodness, you're alright." He smiled in relief.
"Is this your girlfriend?" Wen asked curiously.
Garth blushed as he replied, "She's a close friend."
"Oh?" Wen smirked. "You have some explaining to do yourself."
Tank and Luna rushed to the front door.
"Astrid!" Luna was happy to see her friend. Then, she noticed Ileanna and Li Yuan. "Woah! Ileanna is here too?" Alice tried to wave but Luna didn't notice her.
"Hey!" Ileanna waved.
Luna neck locked Ileanna. "Girl, where have you been? You disappeared on us for months!"
"Sorry! I just needed some time alone to figure things out."
Li Yuan was alert. "Should I repel her?" He drew his sword.
"No, she's a friend." Ileanna spoke while being choked a little.
"Since when did you have an ambiguous bodyguard boyfriend?" Luna was surprised.
"Hush!" Ileanna covered Luna's mouth and neck choked her back.
"I see. So we appear that way in the eyes of other people." Li Yuan smirked and nodded with understanding.
"Luna!" Alice tried again to be noticed.
"Alice!" Luna happily shouted her name while being choked by Ileanna. She saw Wen standing close to Alice. "You have an ambiguous boyfriend as well?"
"Noo!" Alice covered her tomato red face. "He's my boss!"
"I will never understand the friendship of women," Tank said as he poured himself another mug of beer.
Garth nodded in reply.
"Let's hurry up and go back," Wen said.
"Where am I?" Lyngvi asked himself.
Lyngvi found himself at his grandmother's house. He was sitting at the dining table with a view of the garden right in front of him. Spring had come. The flowers were in full bloom, and the birds were loudly proclaiming their tune. His surroundings were as clear as day.
How long had it been since he went there? Even if he wanted to return, he couldn't. She was no longer there. It would never be the same.
The kitchen door opened and the familiar smell of homemade curry filled the room. His grandmother entered the room with a freshly cooked pot of curry. She slowly made it to the table and served it.
"You're a growing boy, Vi. You should eat up. The audition is tomorrow, isn't it?" his grandmother said with a warm smile. "You've been working very hard these days. Don't forget to rest."
Lyngvi realized it was an old memory of before he became a famous celebrity. Back then, he was just an ordinary person. Nobody took notice of him. Except, of course, his grandmother. She always believed that he had what it took to reach the top. She was the only one who supported his ambitions. His parents had always been against it. It was only when he was at his grandmother's house when he could freely practice his skit for the auditions.
She sat down in front of him. "When you get famous, never forget what's important, Vi. People will expect many things from you and you will feel pressured to change yourself to please them. You might feel that you never have enough money or that you need to acquire more things to be happy."
She met his eyes. "But you don't have to change for others unless it's really good for you. You will never be able to please everyone. Be satisfied with your current self. Be grateful for what you currently have. People and material things don't determine your happiness." She pointed at his heart. "You decide that for yourself."
"Yes, grandmother," he replied.
"It's okay not to reach the top. It's okay to fail. You'll always be my beloved grandson."
Somehow, her words reached him. He found himself crying.
She laughed and hugged him. "There, there. Don't you cry now. Not before the auditions. When you get famous, you're going to be very popular with girls, you know? Remember to choose someone who can cook and take care of you. When you find that person, be sure to introduce her to me."
Gradually, the memory began to get hazy as if he was getting pulled away from it. He reached out his hand to try and grasp it, but it was futile. He knew deep down that it was now only a distant past.
His heart was aching. He badly missed the past. He missed being an ordinary schoolboy who spent his free time playing sports with his friends and visiting his grandmother on the weekends. The young boy who had big dreams about being a star. The boy who knew nothing about the real face of the entertainment industry.
"Well, this is me now," he said to himself, the product of the choices he made long ago.
Lyngvi slowly opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was a young lady with a wet towel sitting and bending down next to him. When his vision was clearer, he realized it was Lyria. She was looking a little worried.
"What are you doing here?" he asked with a sleepy voice.
"You looked like you were having a painful dream," she said.
"Where am I?" He examined his surroundings. He couldn't remember how he ended up chained to the wall.
Lyria didn't answer.
Being chained was no problem. He could just break himself out then return to headquarters. He tried to pull his leg free. Nothing happened. He made a second attempt. Nothing.
"What did you do to me?" He began to panic.
"The exact same thing you did to me," she replied. "Now you know how it feels to have no skills."
Lyngvi cursed. He was at the mercy of his old allies.
"Don't be a grump. I made you some curry." She left a plate of curry rice by his side. "You can feed yourself, right?"
His eyes widened. Curry?
"I'll be back later to serve you dinner. See you." Lyria left the room.
Lyngvi stared at the plate for about a minute before taking a bite. The delicious aroma and flavor filled his mouth. It was nostalgic.
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