Just then, June heard a sniff from beside him, causing him to look at Jaeyong with raised eyebrows.

"What are you doing?" he couldn't help but ask.

Jaeyong sniffed once more as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

"That was so beautifully said," he muttered. "She just...encapsulated what it would be like to become an idol. It's a job that a lot of people misunderstand—like, why would anyone want to become an idol with all the restrictions that come with it?"

"But, this is what I want. There's no other reason. It just...is," he said, another tear falling from his eyes.

"Goodness," Akira muttered, patting their leader's back. "I thought you were over your crybaby era, and since when did someone else make you tear up other than June?"

Jaeyong shrugged. "I don't know. She speaks very calmly and philosophically. It's like they're related or something."

June shook his head. It seemed like everybody around them was noticing their similarities. However, Mei was the most oblivious about it.

Jisung pursed his lips. "I think she really wants to become an idol. I feel her passion oozing out from the screen."

June couldn't help but let out a deep breath. "Does she?" he muttered.

After the show ended, three trainees made it into the local trends list—Heemin, Mina, and Mei.

Surprisingly, Mei was the most talked about that night.

While Heemin and Mina mostly received compliments for their talents, Mei got mixed reactions.

- Not going to lie. I quite like her personality.

- She really reminds me of June.

window.pubfuturetag = window.pubfuturetag || [];window.pubfuturetag.push({unit: "64ce79d606107d003c23ea27", id: "pf-5140-1"})- Talent>Personality. Argue with me.

- If she has a great personality, then she should have been a flight attendant instead.

- You know damn well that she would get fired on the first day for her job with her blunt personality. It's not that she appears kind. She just appears passionate. I think that's what most people like about her.

- Be honest. They like her because she's pretty.

- The other girls are pretty, though, so I don't know where your argument is coming from.

- Yeah, but she's the epitome of pretty privilege.

Meanwhile, in Laohu's apartment, the two musty men just finished watching the pilot episode of the fifth season of Rising Stars.

As the credits rolled, the two of them continued to stare at the screen, finding something strange with the entire portion involving Mei.

"She's pretty, isn't she?" Lin Zhi suddenly asked, leaning against the couch. "Jun Hao didn't look like that. It's strange that she looks more like June than her brother."

"Jun Hao was also a good-looking bastard," Laohu said, causing Lin Zhi to purse his lips, feeling bitter.

He couldn't really deny it since Jun Hao was definitely on the more attractive side. He had a gruff look, but underneath the surface, when you scrutinize his features, he looked like a rough model.

Well, he was dead now, so there wasn't any use in dwelling on his looks.

"I'm a hundred percent sure that Mei is Mei Ling," Lin Zhi said. "I didn't see her a lot, but I've seen her enough to confirm the truth. However, why is she denying that she has a brother?"

Laohu also found it strange. However, he also knew that mostly everything they saw in the media was a lie.

"It doesn't matter," Laohu said.

window.pubfuturetag = window.pubfuturetag || [];window.pubfuturetag.push({unit: "64cc9e79c7059f003e4ad4b0", id: "pf-5109-1"})"I'm also sure that it's Mei Ling," he continued. "I've been looking for her everywhere, but it seems like there's an invisible force protecting her as she cannot be found on the face of the earth."

"However, it looks like she fell right into our palms."

Lin Zhi nodded in agreement.

"Any plans?" he asked.

"The briefcase is still our key to success," Laohu said. "And Jun Hao is the only person who knows where the briefcase is."

"Or June," Lin Zhi said, knowing that he was the one sent by the CEO of Phoenix Entertainment to steal the briefcase when he was a trainee.

Laohu frowned. "...or June? However, we aren't sure."

"How come?" Lin Zhi asked. "He's much more powerful than we thought. He must know something."

"He definitely does," Laohu said. "However, if he had known the information inside the briefcase, then he would have been unstoppable. With the way he is being treated by Azure, we could only assume that he wasn't able to steal it."

"Besides, I'm sure that Jun Hao was the last person who had it," he continued.

Lin Zhi nodded as Laohu's words made sense.

Then, Laohu smirked, his eyes fixed on the commercial now playing on the TV.

"However, we might have one more person who knows," Laohu said.

Lin Zhi pursed his lips. "How do we know that Mei Ling knows?" he asked. "As far as I know, Jun Hao didn't like involving her sister in the gang."

"You're right," Laohu said, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

window.pubfuturetag = window.pubfuturetag || [];window.pubfuturetag.push({unit: "663633fa8ebf7442f0652b33", id: "pf-8817-1"})"But Mei Ling does," he smirked. "Mei Ling liked meddling in her brother's business because she always thought she could protect him."

"What a beautiful sibling relationship they have—trying to protect each other," he muttered.

"So," he continued. "Jun Hao might not have divulged the information to Mei Ling, but her sister would have some kind of information—a clue where the briefcase is."

Lin Zhi nodded, his thoughts easily manipulated by the cunning man.

"What do you need me to do?" he asked.

"We'll employ the same thing that Kim Young-do used on Joon-

ho and Haruto when they were trainees in Phoenix. Trainees are the most desperate for a chance to debut. So, we'll offer something she won't be able to decline—a sure chance."

"I already learned my lesson with you," Laohu said, placing his hand on Lin Zhi's shoulder.

"They have a different third-party vote counter this time because of the errors that happened last year, and we could grant Mei Ling a chance to debut..."

"...or a chance to be mine," he muttered.

Lin Zhi pursed his lips, his thoughts suddenly consumed with uncertainty.

"And if we're not able to convince her?"

Laohu's smirk widened as he swirled the glass of whiskey in his hand. There wasn't an ounce of worry on his face, which made Lin Zhi wonder what he had up his sleeve.

"Then, I guess we'll have to go the more...traditional route."

The corner of his lips almost ripped with how wide he was smiling.

"The violent one."