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What's Japanese for 'This Can Only End in Tears?'

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Minhyun would like to say he doesn't know how these things keep happening to him, because it's not like knowing makes them happen less often. It's a downside of genius like his; he's self-aware, but he's still a total sucker.

At least for the kids.

"It's nice to meet you," Eunjin says painstakingly slowly. "Please take care of me."

"That's not how you pronounce it," Saejun says before Minhyun can make any corrections. "Do you want them to think you're illiterate?"

"That's for reading," Hyeonmin snaps, then seems to remember there are actually people in the room and shuts up. Minhyun may be a sucker for the kids, but he thinks he actually likes Hyeonmin.

"How would you know?" Saejun asks, but before they can really get into it, the door slams open and Kyungri practically skips in.

"Sorry I'm late, Minhyun-sshi!" he sings, not sounding very sorry at all. "Chinsung-hyung hugged me when I told him he got boxes!"

"That's--" Minhyun begins indulgently, then registers what Kyungri said. "Wait, boxes?" He has a bad feeling about this.

"In the mail!" Kyungri elaborates helpfully. "He seemed really happy!"

A very bad feeling.

"Do you think they're from 5*STAR?" Kyungri asks the room in general. "I didn't see the return addresses."

"Maybe." Minhyun's not about to share his speculations with the young and impressionable. If it was something innocent, Chinsung would have had it delivered at home. Actually, if it was something innocent, Chinsung would never have ordered it. Sometimes, Minhyun thinks he's known his bandmates too long. "Are you ready to greet 5*STAR when they get here?"

"It's nice to meet you, Goto-san, Adachi-san, Rin-san, Sakurai-san, and Tsukioka-san," Kyungri recites with a certain amount of triumph. Minhyun sees Saejun mouth "show-off" at his back, but doesn't have time to say anything before Yeonsu's elbowed Saejun in the ribs and scowled at him.

"You should help me with my pronunciation, Kyungie," Eunjin says, scooping his bandmate in close, and Kyungri beams.

"It's because I watch Pantheon on Ichiband Weekly." The sad thing is, the kid's not even brown-nosing. He really, really means it. Probably because Jeongsook's been scrupulous about not leaving him alone with Myungja and Daewoong, so he doesn't know their true natures yet.

Minhyun just wishes everybody knew that Myungja is fluent in Japanese, so he wouldn't have to do shit like this alone. "That was good, dongsaeng." Though he's totally not going to be surprised if they all forget the honorifics and go with "-sshi." They might do it on purpose, just because Jeongsook did and he's their idol. "How about we all try it again together?"

The door swings open again, and Minhyun's actually a little relieved for the break, right up until Myungja peeks into the room and grins. "Oh, good, class is still in session."

"Were you looking for me, hyung?" Minhyun asks pointedly, and tries to herd Myungja back into the hallway, but it's too late. Myungja's in the room and closing the door, grinning even wider.

"All of you, actually. Chinsung has this plan, see." Myungja doesn't say anything else, just holds up a small, fake plant with white berries. Minhyun squints at it, trying to work out why it looks familiar, but Saejun beats him to it.

"Mistletoe! The kissing kind. I'm so in."

Sometimes Minhyun thinks Saejun was grown in a vat in PSE's basement, cultivated from clippings of Chinsung and Myungja's hair. Mostly, he tries not to think about it. The nightmares about showing up on stage naked are terrifying enough.

"You should practice," he says sternly. "5*STAR's going to be here--"

"In about half an hour. We're kind of on a schedule." Myungja crooks his finger, and Minhyun tries to be surprised when all of SPARKLee follow. He also tries to resist when Myungja doesn't move, obviously waiting for him. "Come on, baby."

"That's Chinsung's line."

Myungja's smile turns into something that shouldn't be accessible by minors. Minhyun kind of wants to hide Kyungri's eyes, at the least. "It looks better on me."

"You--"

"This way, you'll know where they all are."

Minhyun really can't argue with that one. He stomps up to Myungja with ill grace. "Fine, but if anybody tries to kiss me--"

"You'll one-touch them into next week, yeah, yeah." Myungja pulls the sprig away when Minhyun reaches for it. "Not yet."

"What did I just say?"

"I don't know, I was watching your--"

Minhyun snatches the sprig away, then holds it over Myungja's head and kisses him. There's a five-part chorus of, "Oooh," but he does his best to ignore it. Somebody's got to teach the kids how to do it right, especially Saejun, who seems determined to work his way through the industry before he hits twenty.

"Let's do this," he says when he pulls away, then points sternly at SPARKLee. "I want to hear you practicing when I'm in earshot."

"Pleased to meet you," Kyungri and Eunjin chirp, with the other three raggedly echoing them. Minhyun thinks Hyeonmin might have the best pronunciation, if they can get him to stop mumbling.

It'll be something to work on if Park-sshi and Sun-sshi decide to suspend them all for this stunt. And at least he'll get the satisfaction of seeing Rin's face when the kids greet him and then attack him with a mistletoe-bedecked headband. He may be a sucker, but it's always for a good cause.