Thursday, 30 November 2006

Chapter 35: Hug

“Brian…” I stammered. “They can’t hear us, can they?”

“I don’t think so. The room’s soundproofed,” Brian said.

I walked over to the huge glass screen which seperated us from the control room and knocked on it. Jae Joong came over to face me and was mouthing something. It was so frustrating that I couldn’t hear a word he said.

“It’s no use,” Hwan Hee said as he went to sit down in a corner, leaning against the wall.

“It’s getting hot in here,” Brian said as he fanned himself with the papers which had the lyrics on it.

“The air conditioning is out. We’re going to suffocate from the heat if they don’t let us out soon.”

“Isn’t there another way to get out of here?” I asked.

“Sure,” Brian said. “We could knock down the door.”

“Stop giving useless suggestions,” Hwan Hee said to Brian. “They’ll fix this soon.”

It was an hour and half later and we were still stuck in the room. Beads of perspiration have started to form on my forehead. The guys have taken off the shirts because of the heat. The room has started to smell a little musky from the lack of ventilation.

“How long do they need to fix a damn power trip?” Brian said as he tossed his shirt to the far end of the recording booth.

Just then, there was a knock on the door and a piece of paper was slid under the door into the recording booth. I picked it up.



Are you okay? They’re fixing the problem now. If they don’t get you out in another hour, I’ll get them to knock down the door.

Jae Joong


I picked up the pen on the stand near the microphones and wrote him a reply.


It’s really hot in here :( And it’s getting really stuffy. So hard to breathe.


I slid the paper under the door. A few seconds later, the paper came back under the door.


Stay calm. I’ll make sure they get you out. Saranghae…


“What are you doing by the door?” Brian asked.

“It’s Jae Joong. He’s been slipping me messages under the door.”

“How sweet. You can still manage to date through a door,” Hwan Hee laughed.

“The power of love…” Brian sang the line from Celine Dion’s song.

Another hour went by and we were all lying on the carpeted floor. It felt like as if there wasn’t any oxygen left in the room and we were all breathing heavily. Brian picked up his bottle and drank the last of his water.

“Are they ever coming?” I groaned as I sat up.

I could see Jae Joong sitting in the control room. He had a finger in his mouth and he was sort of spinning in the seat, from left to right and back again, as he looked at the floor. I knocked on the glass and he looked up. I signaled for him to come to the glass. When he came close, I pressed the right side of my face on the glass and closed my eyes, savoring the coolness of the glass. I opened one eye and Jae Joong moved forward and planted a kiss on the other side of the glass at the position where my cheek is. I looked at him and smiled weakly as I wiped the sweat away from my forehead.

“Kidariyo…” he mouthed to me and I nodded. Then, I couldn’t take it anymore and collapsed to the floor as my vision began to fade.

I woke up to find myself lying on the sofa in the lobby downstairs, my head on Jae Joong’s lap.

“You’re awake,” he said and as he stroked my hair.

“Hmm… is the power restored?” I asked.

“No, it’s still out.”

“Then how did you get me out of there?

“I knocked down the door with the fire extinguisher.”

“Should’ve done that hours ago,” Hwan Hee said as he walked towards us, holding some paper cups. “Here. Have some water,” he said as he passed Jae Joong one of the cups.

Jae Joong helped me up and brought the cup to my mouth for me to take a sip.

“Where’s Brian?” I asked.

“He’s out there, somewhere,” Hwan Hee replied and then he smiled. “You should’ve seen the look of your yongung’s (hero) face when he crashed through that door.”

“What’s with my face?” Jae Joong asked.

“You looked like you could kill someone,” Hwan Hee laughed.

“I just panicked when she fainted,” Jae Joong said.

“And how did I get down here?”

“Jae Joong carried you down,” Hwan Hee said.

“Down the stairs?” I asked as I stared at Jae Joong.

“Yep… You need to lose some weight,” he smiled and I smacked him. Then I pulled his head down and kissed him.

“Woa… woa… let me get out of the picture first,” Hwan Hee laughed as he walked away.

“Naui yongung,” I smiled as I pulled away.

“Hmm… naui kongju?” he smiled. “Ani… I don’t think you’re a princess at all,” he laughed.

“Why is that?” I asked, pouting.

“You’re too cool to be a princess.”

It was almost 6pm. The power had been restored and hour ago and we were back in the studio trying to salvage our recording from before the power trip. We had to move to another studio since Jae Joong had broken the door of the one we were using. At 7pm it seemed that we were all too tired to continue.

“Let’s call it a day,” Hwan Hee said.

“Yea…” Brian agreed. “All that excitement from earlier has really gotten to me. I just wanna go home and take a shower.”

The producer agreed. We packed up and left the studio.

“Let’s go for dinner,” Hwan Hee said as we descended in the elevator.

“Hwan Hee-yah… Why do you want to be the third wheel?” Brian said as he nudged Hwan Hee.

“Oops! I forgot. We’ll just leave you two love birds alone.”

“It’s alright,” I said. “Let’s have dinner together.”

“Actually, there’s somewhere we need to go,” Jae Joong said.

“You see!” Brian said. “We don’t want to intrude.”

“Where are we going?” I asked Jae Joong.

“You’ll know when you get there,” he replied mysteriously.

“I smell a surprise,” Hwan Hee said as the elevator doors opened. “We’ll see you tomorrow, Sierra.”

“Byeeee…” Brian sang as he followed Hwan Hee.

Jae Joong and I walked out of the elevator and I turned to look at him.

“What’s the big surprise?” I asked him.

“I just wanted some time with you tonight,” he said.

“So there isn’t a surprise?”

“There could be if you wanted one,” he smiled.

“Stop kidding around, Jae Joong. I did want to have dinner with them.”

“I didn’t. I wanted you alone.”

“You can have me alone after dinner,” I reasoned. Jae Joong didn’t answer as we kept walking toward the car park. “Jae Joong…” I said as I grabbed his hand. He shrugged my hand off as he turned around to face me.

“Do you know how worried I was today?” he said, gritting his teeth.


“Do you know the agony I was in while you were stuck it that room? And when I finally got you out, all I wanted was some time with you. Can’t you understand that?”

I was a little stumped. I didn’t know what to make of his outburst. Sure, Jae Joong was a passionate guy, but he rarely burst with anger. “Mian,” I said as I took his hand again. He pulled me toward him sharply and enveloped me in a hug.

“I never want to lose you,” he whispered into my hair.

Sometimes I wonder. Was it because I didn’t understand him? Or was it because I didn’t understand men in general? I used to think it was I who expected the most out of any relationship I had. I now realize that this was no longer the case. What Jae Joong expects from me is beyond what I’ve ever encountered in all my relationships. I just hope I live up to it.

We bought our takeaway dinner from McDonald’s and drove up to the hillside we’d always go to and we ate our dinner as we sat in the faint glow of the city lights. Jae Joong wasn’t a big fan of fast food, but I was. In any case, he’d always eat whatever I chose to eat and I compromised by going wherever he wanted to go. We climbed to the backseat and listened to the radio as we munched on our burgers and fries.

“You’d better cut down on fast food,” he said. “If you put on any weight, the management is going to go berserk.”

“I’ll burn this off in the gym,” I said as I sipped my Coke.

“And when was the last time you had the opportunity to go to the gym?”

“Erm… last week?”

“Once a week is not going to be enough. You’re gonna gain faster than you can burn it off.”

“Nae, sonbaenim,” I smiled. “Besides, next week, we start rehearsing for the concert in New York. Plenty of time to burn off my fats and I’ll probably turn into a human toothpick by the end of it.”

“Michoso…” he laughed and reached over the wipe the mayonnaise stuck at the corner of my mouth with his thumb. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but Jae Joong makes me feel like I’m at least 3 years younger than he is. With Yun Ho, I always felt like the older one. He may be a leader in his band, but when he was with me, his inner child just explodes out of him. With Jae Joong, it was passionate, but controlled. He seldom allowed himself to overreact or do crazy stuff like Yun Ho did.

When we’d finished eating, we sat there in the backseat; my arms around Jae Joong’s waist and his arm around me as he stroked my arm. The song ‘Tattoo’ by Clazziquai was playing on the radio. I hate to admit this, but it made me think of Yun Ho. It made me think of our first time. I felt like I was betraying Jae Joong when I thought about it, but I can’t stop the memories from flooding me. I tightened my arms around his waist and lay my head against his chest to listen to his heartbeat.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“Ani,” I said.

“You must be tired. Shall I send you home now?”

“I’m fine, let’s stay here for awhile.”

“Okay…” he said as his hands came up to massage my neck gently.

I tilted my head up and our lips met in a kiss. As we kissed, we shifted our positions and he slowly guided me so that I leaned against the door with him on top. We broke away, breathless, and then we started kissing again. We repeated this pattern, each time feeling more urgent than the last. When we finally stopped, Jae Joong rested his head gently against my shoulder and I could feel his breath against my ear. I put my arms around him and pulled him tightly towards me so that I could feel his weight on me.

“Sierra,” he said as he tried to get up, “I’m going to crush you.”

“I’m fine,” I said. “Stay like this. I like the way you feel against me.”

“Sierra… you can’t imagine how that sentence affects me,” he laughed.

“How?” I whispered.

“Never say that to anyone else,” he said as he kissed my neck.

“Why would I? I only want to feel you against me, no one else,” I said. He lifted his head up and looked at me for awhile. His eyes were so intense, they were melting me inside. Then, he pushed my hair away from my face and kissed me.

Suddenly, we heard a tapping on the window. We looked up and a man wearing a helmet and goggles was peering down at us.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Chapter 34: Trust

“Are you sure, Skye?” I said.

“Remember back in Kwangju when you saw Hae Rin slapping me?” Skye said, and I nodded. “She slapped me because I told her Jae Joong hyung will never leave you for her.”

“She did?” I was pretty shocked. I didn’t expect Hae Rin to get so violent over something like this.

“Just be careful when you’re around her,” he said.

“She came to see me yesterday and she got pretty upset when she saw the necklace Jae Joong had given me.”

“I think she’s really serious about her feelings, almost obsessive. I tried to talk her out of it. I even confessed that I liked her and she just ignored me.”

“Skye… I’m so sorry,” I said as I put my hand on his knee.

“It’s not your fault, nuna. And don’t you worry about me. I’m Skye of S-Cube. Chicks dig me,” he smiled. The old Skye was starting to show himself.

“I just feel sorry that you had to burden yourself with the secret all these weeks.”

“I’m okay. I’ll bounce back.”

“It’s late and you waited for me to come home?” I asked and he nodded.

“I just had to get it off my chest,” he said. “And now that I have, I think I can finally sleep in peace.”

“Then let’s go to bed,” I said as I got up. “I have another recording session tomorrow.”

We went to our rooms and I started to get ready for bed. After showering, I saw that it was only 11pm. I could squeeze in half an hour of Internet before bed. I turned on my laptop and packed my bag for tomorrow while it was starting up. My Yahoo! Messenger logged in automatically and several messages popped up.

Kat: Yoo hoo! You awake?

Elaine: You there? Let’s conference!

I replied the both of them and was immediately invited to join their conference.

Sierra: Hey guys…

Kat: What ru doing?

Sierra: Going to bed soon?

Elaine: So early?

Sierra: It’s almost 12am here.

Elaine: Ooo… okie dokie.

Sierra: Guess what?

Kat: What?

Sierra: I may have a rival.

Elaine: Rival??!!!

Sierra: Actually, she isn’t exactly a rival if Jae Joong doesn’t have feelings for her. Right?

Kat: Right. Assuming she doesn’t have the power to change how he feels.

Sierra: She’s kinda ruthless.

Elaine: Who is she?

Sierra: Some trainee.

Kat: A trainee? Come on… ur Sierra of S-Cube. Have a little faith in urself.

Sierra: Right…

Elaine: Kat is right. I’m sure Jae Joong loves u to death. Don’t u worry about that girl.

Sierra: That brings me to another issue.

Elaine: What?

Sierra: Jae Joong sort of proposed…

Kat: He what???!!!

Elaine: That’s great!!!

Sierra: Elaine… he’s only 22. It is not great.

Elaine: Erm… if he’s older than 21 yrs, it’s legal and I don’t see any problem with that.

Kat: You forget that they’re at the peaks of their careers.

Elaine: Oops… long engagement then.

Sierra: He said that too. I turned him down.

Kat: Good thinking.

Elaine: But it’s Hero Jae Joong!!! There will only be one Hero Jae Joong in your lifetime.

Sierra: If it’s meant to be, we will be together in this lifetime. For now, I’m not ready.

Kat: You did the right thing.

Sierra: Thanks…

Elaine: Hai… hope you don’t regret it.

Sierra: I won’t. If he loves me, it will be worth the wait.

Elaine: I guess…

Sierra: I’m going to bed. I have a recording session tomorrow.

Kat: Ok… Bye!! Don’t stress out.

Elaine: Yea… take care…

Sierra: You too…

And I logged off. I went to bed that night, still thinking of Hae Rin. How much does she want Jae Joong and what will she do to get him? Should I tell Jae Joong about this? How would he react? I shouldn’t doubt his feelings for me. After all we’ve been through together; Hae Rin won’t be able to break us apart so easily. I’d better be on my guard from now on.

I woke up next morning with a horrible headache; must have been all that worrying. I got up and made myself a drink and took some painkillers, and then I sent Brian a message to tell him I would be late today. I definitely can’t sing with this pounding in my head. All I can hear was this thumping sound in my ears. I crawled back into bed and went to sleep. Sometime later, I woke up and saw Jae Joong covering me with my blanket.

“You’re awake?” he said. He was wearing his glasses. He looked so cute and innocent whenever he wore glasses. I always feel like hugging him whenever he looked so cute.

“Mmm…” I said as I closed my eyes again and he came to lie down beside me.

“Do you feel better?” he asked as he pushed my hair back away from my face.

“The headache’s gone,” I said as I held his hand to my forehead.

“Why don’t you just call in sick?”

“I already sent Brian a message to tell him I’ll be a little late,” I said as I put my arms around him and rested my head on his chest. He put his arm around me and stroked my back.

“If you’re sure,” he said.

“Jae Joong-ah…” I said as I rubbed my face against his shirt. “If there was a girl who likes you and she’s younger and prettier than me, would you leave me?”

“What’s this about?” he said as he started to sit up.

“It’s just a hypothetical question.”

“Sierra, what did I ask you for the other day?”

“Erm… a kiss?”

“I’m serious.”

“Marriage,” I sighed.

“So why would I want someone who isn’t you?”

“I just feel insecure sometimes. Every other season, there’d be a fresh new face. Won’t you get tired of me?”

“If I ever thought that I’ll tire of you, I would never have asked you to meet my parents,” he said as he lay back down and pulled me down with him.

“I just feel so old sometimes,” I laughed.

“You’re not old,” he said and he kissed my head. “You don’t even look mature to me,” he laughed.

“Mwo?” I said and smacked him lightly on the chest. He grabbed my hand and held it there.

“You’re always vibrant and full of energy. You light up my day whenever I see you; that’s why I insist on picking you up each morning. Whenever you’re the first person I see, the day will somehow feel more promising.”

“Chintcha?” I said as I hugged him.

“Chintcha…” he said and mussed my hair affectionately.

“Jae Joong-ah,” I said as I traced the outline of the graphics on his t-shirt with my finger.



“Na tto saranghae,” he said and he pulled me closer for a hug. After staying in that position for about a minute, I pulled away.

“I’d better get dressed. I need to get to the studios.”

“They’ve probably gone out for lunch now. Let’s go for lunch before I send you there.”

“Okay,” I said as I walked out of my room.

I showered and got dressed in 15 minutes and we left the apartment. Skye and Shoei had gone for their training this morning while I was sleeping.

“How did you get in this morning?” I asked him.

“I know the code,” he smiled.


“Skye gave it to me.”

“He did?”

“What? You thought I was psychic or something? You guys have some weird code.”

“It’s Skye’s uncle’s birth date,” I laughed.

“No wonder. I was wondering what it meant. It wasn’t any of your birth dates, or even mine.”

“Now why would I use your birth date? Anyone would guess it.”


“Hey… why don’t you have anything on today?”

“I’m playing hooky,” he smiled.

“You’re gonna get me in trouble if you keep this up,” I said.

“Don’t worry. They’re not doing anything big today. Some of them are involved in some television program today.”

“You’d better be telling the truth,” I warned him.

“Ne, oma…” he laughed.

We arrived at the studios and he decided to come up and watch us record. I wasn’t really comfortable with him watching as I worked.

“Do you have to come? You’ll only be a distraction.”

“I’m there to make sure Brian doesn’t put the moves on you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I know how you idolize those two. I just want to make sure no one takes advantage of you.”

“The only one who takes advantage of me is you,” I said as we walked into the studio.

“Finally!” Brian exclaimed. “We were wondering if you were coming at all.”

“I had a headache this morning,” I explained.

“Are you sure it was a headache? Or was it Jae Joong who stopped you from coming?” Hwan Hee teased.

“She really wasn’t feeling well,” Jae Joong said, a little too defensively.

“It’s okay, Jae Joong. They’re just teasing me. That’s what I always get for being the only girl around here,” I said as I made a face at Brian.

After reviewing the work Brian and Hwan Hee had done without me this morning and the problems from yesterday, we went into the recording booth and started recording. Jae Joong sat with the producer and sound engineer in the control room. Every time I looked up, I’d find him watching me intently.

“Sierra, you were a little off back there. Let’s try it again, the producer said through the talkback which was connected to my headphones.”

While we were in the middle of the song, the entire room was suddenly engulfed with darkness and an emergency light came on.

“What happened?” Hwan Hee said. “Where did the electricity go?”

“It must be a power trip,” Brian said.

“Let’s get back to the control room,” I said as I walked to the door. It was locked. “Brian, Hwan Hee. I can’t unlock the door,” I said in panic.

“It can only be unlocked from the control room or with an access card outside of this room. With the power out, we’re stuck here,” Hwan Hee said.

And it hit me; they can’t hear us or communicate with us through this soundproofed room.

Monday, 27 November 2006

Chapter 33: Forever

Brian and Hwan Hee arrived 10 minutes after I’d settled down in the studio.

“Yo, Sierra…” Brian drawled as he walked in.

“Brian oppa…” I replied and turned to Hwan Hee, “Hwan Hee oppa.”

“Ya… Sierra. How is it that you get prettier each time we see you?” Hwan Hee smiled.

“Keumanhaseyo,” I said shyly. “I’ve not changed a bit since the last time you saw me.” Brian and Hwan Hee loved to tease me. Brian did it more often, though. Sometimes I feel that the conflicts they had as a duo in the early years made Brian crave for attention, hence, his current attitude.

“So are we ready to start?” Brian asked the producer.

“Just a few more minutes to set up. Why don’t you guys get in the recording booth and warm up?” the producer replied.

We walked into the recording booth and started to do our vocal warm ups. 5 minutes later the producer signaled from the control room that they were ready and we started recording. The song was for a special single to be released during Christmas and true to our musical leanings, it was an R&B love song entitled ‘Crystals of Love’.

Sierra: Remember last winter as we sat in front of the fire
You had your arms around me as we fed our desires
Brian: Remember last winter we’d went out for a walk
As the snow flakes fell you twirled round like a little girl

Sierra: It warms my heart and soul each time I see you
Brian: You have a hold on me, and I can’t fathom it

All: As the crystals of love, they form in our hearts
Glittering, sparkling, bright…
And these crystals of love, will forever be
A testament of you and me

Sierra: Remember last Christmas as we were about to part
You held my hand and told me that you’d never forget
Hwan Hee: I’ll never forget the way you felt as we danced
Your softness, your gracefulness, forever burned in my mind

Sierra: I burn up inside each time you touch me
Hwan Hee: You’re best thing that has ever happened to me

All: As the crystals of love, they form in our hearts
Glittering, sparkling, bright…
And these crystals of love, will forever be
A testament of you and me

Hwan Hee: There isn’t a moment that would I regret
Sierra: If there were the possibility we’d never met
Brian: I’d search for you till the ends of the world, ooh
Hwan Hee & Brian: I would find you baby, and kept you close
Sierra: Forever…

All: As the crystals of love, they form in our hearts
Glittering, sparkling, bright…
And these crystals of love, will forever be
A testament of you and me

Hwan Hee: A testament of you and… me…
Brian: I love you, baby
Merry Christmas

“Good take,” the producer said as soon as we’d ended our recording for the morning. And since it was a success, we got to go for an early lunch. During lunch at a nearby restaurant, Hwan Hee pointed to the television.

“Sierra, it’s your boyfriend,” he smiled.

“Ajumma!” Brian yelled. “Can you turn up the volume?” And the owner of the restaurant obliged.

The TVXQ guys were seated in the usual arrangement. From left to right; Jun Su, Yoo Chun, Jae Joong, Chang Min and Yun Ho. Jae Joong was wearing a white leather jacket with a high collar. He looked like a white knight, in a biker sort of way.


Reporter1: Jae Joong-shi. Is it true that you have made a public announcement that you’re in a relationship fellow label mate, Sierra?

Jae Joong: Yes, it’s true.

Reporter1: Sierra used to date your band mate, Yun Ho. Don’t you feel awkward whenever the three of you are together?

Yun Ho: First of all, I’d like to make it clear that Sierra and I parted on good terms and we are still close friends. As for Jae Joong, we are like brothers after so many years of working and learning together. Having said all that, my answer would be that there are definitely no awkward feelings between us since we are mature adults.

Jae Joong: That’s right. All’s fair in love and war. If we can be mature about it, there would be no issues or conflicts between us.

Reporter2: Tell us about your upcoming concert in New York.


“Ya… you’re not even there and you’re one of the hottest topics,” Brian teased.

“Come on, Brian oppa. Stop teasing me,” I pleaded.

“I think it’s great that you and Yun Ho sorted things out. But if I were Yun Ho, I don’t think I can handle seeing my band mate date my ex-girlfriend,” Hwan Hee said.

“You’re lucky I don’t,” Brian laughed. “The girls he dates just aren’t my style,” he said in a stage whisper as he leaned closer to me with one hand covering the side of his face.

“So what’s your style?” I asked him

“That’s for me to know and for you to find out,” he winked.

“Eat up… We still have another 5 hours to go before we’re done for the day,” Hwan Hee said as he pushed some of the dishes towards me.

We were back in the studio half an hour later and we listened through this morning’s recording with the producer and sound engineer. After pin pointing the errors and discussing the course of improvements we need to make, we started the 2nd session of recording. At about 7pm, Jae Joong called.

“Are you ready to leave?” he said as soon as I answered the phone.

“I need another 15 minutes to wrap things up.”

“I’ll be up in a minute to walk with you,” he said and he hung up.

“Do you need to go now?” Brian asked me.

“No, Jae Joong will meet me here, let’s continue our discussion.”

“So this portion, we’re going to tweak it a little and we will need you guys to rerecord tomorrow,” the producer continued where he’d left off.

“I think we need to amp it up at the bridge,” Hwan Hee said. “It sounded a little flat on our last recording.”

“We’ll fix that tomorrow,” the producer said as he made a note on his laptop.

We continued for another 10 minutes and there was a knock on the door as it opened.

“Jae Joong… You’re here,” Hwan Hee greeted him. Jae Joong was still wearing the jacket he wore during the press conference.

“Hyung, great to see you,” Jae Joong replied. “Sierra, you ready?”

“I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” I said as I stood up and picked up my bag and some files.

“See ya…” the guys chorused as I walked out.

We walked down the corridor to the elevator in silence. The moment the elevator door closed, he pulled me into his arms.

“Jae Joong… there is a camera!!” I laughed.

“Then we’ll have our scandal on tape all over the internet. Won’t that be great for publicity?” he said as he kissed my neck.

“I don’t need that sort of publicity,” I said, but did not push him away. Instead I put my arms under his jacket and wrapped them around his waist. Just then, the elevator doors opened and the person who’d been waiting stood there aghast when he saw us wrapped up in each others’ arms.

“Choesonghamnida,” Jae Joong laughed as he hit the button to close the elevator doors. We laughed hysterically as the elevator descended all the way to the ground floor.

“That was so embarrassing,” I smacked his arm as we walked out into the lobby.

“How was I to know we’d get caught?” he said.

“We’re always sitting ducks,” I said. “There’s always a chance of getting caught.”

We met up with the rest of TVXQ at a nearby ramen shop. We ordered what we wanted at the counter before walking to the table where the guys were. The guys made room for me and Jae Joong at the small table they huddled around.

“I saw your press conference this afternoon,” I said as the waitress put down our bowls of ramen in front of us.

“You did? Did I look okay?” Chang Min asked. Up till now, Chang Min still cared a lot about his appearance. He was always nervous and worried that he didn’t look good on camera.

“You looked fine,” I smiled and started to pick at my noodles with my chopsticks.

“Were you still watching when they asked about our relationship?” Jae Joong said with his mouth full.

“I saw that. You and Yun Ho gave the perfect answer.”

“All in a day’s work,” Yun Ho smiled.

“Sierra, aren’t you excited about our concert next month?” Jun Su said.

“It’s gonna be great traveling with you guys. I can’t wait to see New York!!” I replied Jun Su.

“You’ve never been to New York?” Yoo Chun said in disbelief.

“I’ve never been to the USA.”

“Gosh… that must suck,” Yoo Chun said.

“Kinda, but thanks to you guys, I’ll finally get a chance to see New York.”

“Hyung, maybe we can take a road trip after the concert?” Chang Min suggested.

“No, we can’t,” Yun Ho said. “We need to get back to prepare for the MKMF. Remember?”

“Oh, right? I almost forgot about the MKMF,” I said.

“Too bad you guys missed out on the Best Newcomer award last year,” Jun Su said.

“So many things happened last year. I wouldn’t consider last year a good year for S-Cube,” I reasoned.

“You’ll catch up this year,” Jae Joong smiled as he put his arm around me to pull me over and kiss the side of my forehead.

“But they’re going to be up against top bands like FTTS in the R&B category,” Chang Min said.

“And you think they don’t stand a chance?” Yun Ho asked Chang Min.

“Well, FTTS has been around longer,” Chang Min reasoned.

“But they don’t have Sierra,” Yoo Chun smiled.

“Precisely,” Jae Joong laughed.

“Can we not talk about them like they’re the enemy? I just recorded a song with them today,” I said.

“Yea, I’m sure the best candidate will win. And that is definitely not our call,” Jun Su smiled.

We sat there for another hour, talking about work and our upcoming activities.

“We’d better get going,” Yun Ho said as he started to stand up.

“I’ll see you guys at home,” Jae Joong said.

“Bye!” I waved to the guys.

“Take care,” Yun Ho said as he gave me a quick hug.

“You too,” I said as I turned to take Jae Joong’s hand. Yun Ho and I were still very close, I’ll admit that. Sometimes I wonder if Jae Joong minded this closeness we had. We still hugged when we met. Sometimes he’d grab my arm, the way he used to, when we were walking somewhere and he wanted to get my attention or something. None of the other guys did that. Whenever I felt guilty, I will feel the need to overcompensate by paying more attention to Jae Joong, even though Jae Joong has never complained.

We walked to the car park slowly, hand in hand; swinging our arms was we did. There were days when we felt carefree and there were days we felt pressured. Today was a carefree day. On the days we felt pressured, we’d still hold hands, but we would be walking at a solemn pace.

“You’re in a good mood today,” Jae Joong said.

“How do you know?” I asked him.

“When you’re in a good mood, you sort of bounce when you walk,” he laughed.

“I do?” I never knew that. I felt like I had a spring in my step, but I never knew that the spring translated visually into a bounce.

“It’s like you walk on the tips of your toes, bouncing as you go.”

“Hmm…” I smiled. I’ll admit I wasn’t as observant as Jae Joong. It would usually take me longer to know if he were in a good or bad mood, unless he showed it. If he wanted to hide it, I would never know how he felt. His years as a kasu had trained him to put on a poker face. But with me, he had on his own face; the face of Kim Jae Joong. I’m grateful that he tries to be honest with me as much as he can.

Everyone knows I’m the lousiest liar. I could never lie to Jae Joong or hide anything from him. I remember when I had been so stressed the day before the live webcast performance of ‘Ghosts’. I wasn’t myself the entire day, and he took me out for a drive just to ease the tension. We drove to a park and spent the evening lazing by the manmade lake and we hadn’t said anything about the performance for the entire day. As he dropped me off that night, he hugged me and said, “You’ll be great tomorrow. Just make sure you get enough sleep.” Even though I try to avoid talking about work with him, he knows that I am worried about it and he’d always say the right things to ease my worries.

I walked into the apartment and found Skye sitting alone in the living room.

“You’re not asleep?” I asked as I approached him. He had on this troubled expression and it was odd since Skye was hardly ever troubled. He doesn’t even get stage fright. I’ve seen him with this expression a few times since we came back from Kwangju.

“Oh…” he said absently.

“What’s wrong, Skye?” I said as I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Nuna…” he said. “I…”

“You can tell me,” I said as I sat down beside him.

“I don’t know how to say this.”

“Just say whatever comes to your mind.”

“I just feel so burdened because I’m keeping this from you,” he sighed.

“What is it?” I asked anxiously. What was his big secret?

“It’s Hae Rin,” he started.

“What about her?”

“She told me she was in love with Jae Joong hyung.”

Chapter 32: Monologue

“Hasn’t your ankle gotten better?” I asked Hae Rin.

“It’s much better, but I’ve been instructed to keep using the crutches until they’re 100% sure that I’ve recovered.”

“Lucky you,” I said. “No dance training for 2 weeks then?”

“Might sound lucky, but they’re probably gonna work me twice as hard when I resume training,” she lamented.

“True… So what brought you here? Is there something you wanna talk to me about?” I asked her.

“Talk? Anieyo… just dropped by to see how you were doing.”

“You sure?” I looked at her face for signs that she may be hiding something, but she gave away nothing.

“Hey… that’s a really nice pendant,” she suddenly said.

“Thanks,” I said as my hand consciously went to my neck and I held the pendant for awhile.

“It looks like Cassiopeia,” she said as she reached out her hand to touch the pendant.

“It is.”

“But why is there an extra diamond in the middle?”

“Erm… it’s kind of a personal reason,” I said. I wasn’t about to tell her everything that went on between me and Jae Joong. After all, I didn’t know her that well.

“Where did you buy it?”

“Jae Joong gave it to me,” I said and her hand immediately dropped to her side.

“Jae Joong oppa gave this to you?” she said incredulously.

“Yea,” I said. She’s starting to act weird again. Why did it shock her so much that Jae Joong gave me a present?

“Erm… I better go,” she said and started to walk away and I watched her wordlessly. What a strange girl.

Two hours later, Skye and Shoei finally made it to practice.

“Thank god you guys are back,” I whispered.

“What happened?” Shoei asked.

“Lex oppa was trying to kill me today.”

“Then you would’ve achieved improvements you would usually take 2 days to achieve in today’s practice session,” Shoei laughed.

“Not funny,” I said as I smacked Shoei. “My knee still hurts from a fall I had just now.”

“Really?” Shoei said and he immediately crouched down to look at my knee. “Kwaenchana?”

“It’s just a little black and blue,” I said as I pulled my leg away. Sometimes Shoei was such a worrywart. “I’ll just rub some ointment on it tonight.”

We rehearsed together until about 9pm before we were allowed to go home. Jae Joong was waiting for me in his car as we walked out of the building. Upon closing the car door, I planted a kiss on his cheek.

“Someone’s in a good mood,” he smiled.

“Just happy to see you,” I smiled back, and I meant it.

Skye starts making a gagging sound, “Can you two lovebirds please put a lid on it until we get home?”

“You have the option of taking the bus,” Jae Joong said as we started to drive off.

“Are you crazy? I’ll get mobbed if I take the bus,” Skye said.

“Right,” Shoei said, “mobbed by middle-aged housewives.”

“Yah!! My fans are not middle-aged housewives.”

“Are you talking about that ajumma who tried to molest him the other day, at Taejon?” I said gleefully, taking the opportunity to join in and attack Skye.

“It was an accident,” Skye yelled as he started to get a little too excited.

“Didn’t look like one to me,” Shoei said with a straight face.

“I’m telling you. It was an accident,” Skye said as he started to get annoyed.

“What exactly happened?” I asked. “Did the ajumma grope him or something?”

“There was no groping!!” Skye yelled defensively.

“Actually…” Shoei started but was cut off when Skye covered his hand over his mouth and there was a small tussle in the back of the car as Shoei tried to push Skye away.

“Hey, guys. Settle down,” Jae Joong laughed.

Jae Joong parked his car and followed us up to our apartment.

“We’re home!!” Skye yelled into the empty apartment as we walked in.

“Who are you talking to?” Jae Joong asked.

“He has an imaginary friend,” Shoei said in a stage whisper.

“Kuraeyo?” Jae Joong laughed.

“Do you want some noodles?” I asked Jae Joong as I dumped my bag on the sofa.

“I’m fine,” Jae Joong replied. “I’ll be in your room,” he said as he picked up my bag and walked into my room.

“Nuna,” Skye said sweetly. “Why did you offer noodles to hyung only?”

“Yea, nuna,” Shoei said as he came and put his arm over Skye’s shoulders and looked at me.

“I’m sorry,” I smiled. “Are you guys hungry too?”

“Ne,” the two of them answered in unison.

“Make your own noodles,” I said as I turned away to walk into the kitchen.

“Nuna…” they wailed together as I walked off.

10 minutes later, I’m slurping my noodles in my room in front of my laptop, while Jae Joong was preoccupied with Skye’s PSP. His tongue stuck out at the left corner of his mouth as he concentrated on the game. He looked so cute whenever he did that. I’ve seen candid pictures of him online with the exact expression.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” Jae Joong asked.

“I have a recording session in the morning,” I replied with my mouth full.

“With who?”

“Brian and Hwan Hee.”

“So they finally got around to collaborating with you,” he said, still not taking his eyes off the PSP.

“I guess… it’s been more than a year since S-Cube’s debut. We’ve finally earned some credibility.”

“What are you doing?” he said as he tossed the PSP aside and came to look over my shoulder.


“Aa…” he said as he opened his mouth, just as I’d picked up a few strands of noodles with my chopsticks.

“That’s my dinner,” I grumbled in jest as I fed him. After slurping the noodles into his mouth loudly, he kissed me on my cheek. “Kim Jae Joong!!” I yelled as I wiped the soup from the noodles off my face.

He rolled onto my bed laughing and I jumped on him after setting down the noodles. Then he rolled over and pinned me to the bed.

“Gotcha,” he said and he kissed me. I licked my lips and they still tasted of the soup. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand.

“Get off…” I said as I tried to push him off.

“Andwae…” he said in a cute voice and pushed me onto the bed.

“My noodles are getting soggy.”

“I’ll cook you another bowl later,” he said as he nuzzled my neck.

“I won’t be able to finish it…” I said dreamily.

“I’ll be hungry after this… I’ll help you with it.”

An hour later, I was showered and back in front of my laptop and eating the remains of my cold and soggy noodles. Jae Joong was lying face down on my bed, sleeping. I’d flipped open laptop and there was a message from Kat.

Kat: Where did you go?

Sierra: To feed my insatiable hero :P

Kat: So I take it that he’s full now ;)

Sierra: Fed and put to bed… hehe!

After checking my mails and posting some replies on the fanboard, I shut down my laptop and crawled into bed with Jae Joong. He automatically made space for me when I nudged him and as I lay down and got comfortable, he put his arm around me.

The next morning I woke up and Jae Joong was on the floor. Whenever he came over, I’d lay out the futon because Jae Joong once fell out of my bed. The futon there was in case he ever fell out again. These days, he’d automatically end up on the floor in the morning since I hogged the bed at night. I rolled off the bed, onto the floor to lie beside him.

“Is it time to wake up yet?” he said sleepily when he realized I’d joined him on the floor.

“Ani,” I said as I snuggled closer.

“Okay…” he said and he went back to sleep.

About half an hour later, my alarm rang. I woke up slowly so that I did not wake him and tiptoed around as I got dressed. I showered and changed in 15 minutes and came back to wake him.

“Wake up…” I whispered into his ear and kissed him on the cheek.

“Mmm… 5 more minutes…” he mumbled.

“I’m showered and ready to go. I’ll be late if you don’t wake up now,” I said as I nudged him with my feet. “And don’t you have a press conference?” I added and he immediately sat up.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“It’s 8:30am.”

“Let’s go,” he said as he stood up and put on his shirt, which was hanging on the chair in my room.

“You’re not even going to shower?”

“I’ll shower when I get home. I’m supposed to meet up with the guys and get to the venue with them.”

We got into his car and he revved out of the gates.

“Slow down,” I said. “I’m not late yet.”

“I’m gonna be if I don’t hurry,” he replied.

“You don’t have to drive like that,” I reasoned and he slowed down a little.

“You wanna have dinner with us tonight?” he asked me as he took my hand and kissed it.

“Call me when you’re done. Or you can drop by at the studios.”

“Okay. How much do you plan to do today?”

“We’re just starting today, so I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to complete today.”

“Just don’t overexert yourself,” he said as he absently rubbed his thumb across the back of my hand.

“This coming from the person who works like 10 times harder then me?’ I laughed.

“It’s different,” he said.

“I’m trying to make my mark as well. If I don’t work hard now, it’ll be all over in another 1 or 2 years. Then I will never be able to get all of this back.”

“Araso… I’m just worried about you,” he sighed and there was a moment of silence.

“Hae Rin dropped by to see me yesterday,” I said, out of the blue.

“She did? What did she want?”

“Exactly… I have no idea what she wants. Remember me telling you about her being weird?”

“What about it?”

“She was doing it again yesterday.”

“Was she troubled about something?”

“Maybe it’s the pressure her manager is giving her. I heard that she still has to train despite her injury. It’s probably made her a little cuckoo.”

“Hmm… I have no comments on her manager, except that he’s a hard man.”

“A little too hard, I think. I’ve met him on several occasions, and I’ve never dared to approach him or have a one on one conversation with him.”

“There’s no need for you to know him,” Jae Joong said.

“Why? Are you jealous?” I teased him.

“Why would I be?”

“Mian. I forgot that you are Yongung JaeJoong. Why would you get jealous?”

“But I would if you treated me better,” he smiled as he stopped his car in front of the building.

“Mwo? Am I ill-treating you now?”

“Ani. But you could offer better services,” he laughed.

“What do you think I am? A sales assistant, a waitress?” I said. “Aigoo… of all things, better services.”

“Aaahh… mian,” he said sweetly.

“Go date a vending machine then! You’ll get instant gratification,” I said.

“Sierra…” he drawled as he leaned over to kiss me. I pinched his cheek and pushed his face away. “Oww…” he said as he rubbed his cheek.

“See you tonight,” I said as I opened the door and got out.

“I don’t get a kiss?” he leaned over to the passenger seat and peered up at me through the open door.

“You can get it from the vending machine you’re dating from now on,” I smiled, and I turned and walked into the building.

“Sierra…” he called after me. I ignored him. “Yah!! Sierra!!” he shouted and I walked into the elevator, still not acknowledging him.

Sunday, 26 November 2006


For those who are interested to know what the Cassiopeia necklace looked like, I've done a rough sketch. The white dots represent the diamonds. It's a little crappy, but it's the best I can do since I suck at drawing and have no photoshop skills. If anyone has the skill, you can try to reproduce the drawing and mail it to me to post up. I'd be eternally grateful...

Chapter 31: Only One

It was 11pm. We’d finally wrapped up the concert and were on our way to the after-party. I went in Jae Joong’s car with Jun Su, Chang Min and Yoo Chun in the back. Tonight’s finale had been spectacular. There were fireworks set off as we performed the final song and after the concert, hundreds of fans stayed behind just to catch a glimpse of us leaving. It was truly memorable and a testimonial of S-Cube’s first complete year as a band.

“I’m so tired,” Jun Su rubbed his eyes. “I just want to go home and sleep.”

“And miss the after-party?” Chang Min asked.

“I’m here now, aren’t I?” Jun Su yawned.

“He can always sleep when he gets there. They’ll all be partying like crazy, no one would notice him sleeping,” Yoo Chun laughed.

“Then I’m definitely gonna take a nap when I get there,” Jun Su said happily.

“Just be sure you pick a good corner. You don’t wanna get sat on in the middle of your nap,” I laughed.

When we arrived at the bar they’d reserved for the after-party, the guys zipped in quickly, leaving Jae Joong and me outside.

“Kidariyo,” Jae Joong said as he pushed me back so that I stood about 2 feet away from the door.

“What’s going on?” I asked Jae Joong.

“Just wait here for a few seconds,” he said and he went into the bar as well. Just then, Skye, Shoei and Yun Ho came up from behind me.

“Nuna, why are you standing out here?” Skye asked me.

“Jae Joong asked me to wait out here.”

“Let’s go in,” Yun Ho said, smiling mysteriously as he steered me to the door with his hand on my shoulder.

As we entered the bar, we saw that it was filled with balloons, blue and silver balloons, the colors of S-Cube. On the stage was a banner, which read, ‘S-Cube Ch’uk’ahamnida!!’ Everyone present started clapping their hands and cheering.

“What’s this?” Shoei asked Yun Ho.

“I guess you hadn’t heard. S-Cube’s album reached its 350,000 sales mark yesterday.”

“Chongmal?!!” I said excitedly. We had not been informed by Shi Kyung hyung. He’d obviously wanted it to be a surprise.

“So who planned the party?” Skye asked.

“I did,” Jae Joong said as he stepped forward with a bouquet of flowers for me. They were baby blue roses with sprinkles of silver tinsels on them. “Ch’uk’aeyo,” he said and kissed me on the cheek.

“Komawo,” I said and hugged him. I’d totally lost track of time. It’s been almost 2 years since I’d left Malaysia and it’s been a year since the first day I met Jae Joong. I was touched that he made the effort to celebrate my band’s achievement with me.

“The moment I told Jae Joong about the album sales, he immediately asked for us to celebrate it during the after-party tonight,” hyung said.

“Was that why you were MIA this morning?” I asked Jae Joong and he nodded.

Then, Hee Chul and Si Won pushed in a trolley with a huge cake on it. Skye, Shoei and I blew out the candles on it and everyone cheered again.

“Speech!” someone yelled and the three of us laughed nervously.

“Why don’t you start, Shoei?” I said. Shoei was always the best at kicking speeches off.

“Erm… yeoreobun, kamsahamnida. Thank you for celebrating this achievement with us tonight. It means a lot to us,” Shoei said and received loud applause.

“Ye, kamsahamnida. We want to thank our manager, Ahn Shi Kyung for doing such a good job in managing us and to SM for giving us the opportunity to begin with,” Skye continued.

“And to our friends who are here tonight, we are thankful for your friendship and support throughout the beginning of our careers till now. Chongmal kamsahamnida.” I ended the speech and everyone cheered loudly.

“I also have an announcement to make,” Shi Kyung hyung said. “In view of their performance, SM has decided that S-Cube will join TVXQ as their opening act when they perform at Madison Square Garden in New York, in November.”

“Yaaahh!!! Chongmal??” Skye shouted in excitement.

“You guys have earned it,” hyung smiled.

“We’re going to New York together?” I said in disbelief as I looked at Jae Joong.

“Yes, we are,” he smiled and pulled me in for a hug. I was so happy. We’re finally getting somewhere. Finally getting the recognition we were waiting for.

“Erm… Jae Joong, don’t you have something to add?” Hee Chul tapped Jae Joong on this shoulder.

“Oh, right?” Jae Joong smiled. He grabbed my hand and pulled me forward so that everyone would focus on us. What was he up to? “I know it’s a bit overdue,” he started, “but I’ve wanted to make this official for a long time… I’d like to announce that Sierra and I are officially a couple.”
I stared at him with my mouth hanging open as the crowd started to cheer again and this time were wolf whistles. He’d never asked to make a public statement regarding our relationship and I’d always assumed that he wanted us to be a quiet couple, though not exactly a secret couple. What was he thinking to announce this just before his upcoming barrage of promotional activities?

“Neo mich’oso?” I asked him. “The reporters are going to have a field day when you start promoting your new album next week.”

“Yes, I’m so crazy about you. I want to be able to talk about you when I’m with the press, to talk about you when I’m on TV and I want to tell everyone that you’re mine.”

“You really want to do that?” I asked him.

“I’ve wanted to do it since the day you were mine.”

I hugged Jae Joong and tears started to well in my eyes. He tightened his arms around me and whispered into my ear, “Saranghamnida.”

“Ya… Jae Joong, you didn’t have to announce it,” Typhoon of The Trax laughed and patted Jae Joong on the back. “Everyone knew about the two of you.”

“Yea… since the two of you can never keep your hands off each other,” Yoo Chun piped in.

“Kiss!!” Chang Min yelled and everyone started chanting. Jae Joong turned me around and dipped me low, like in the movies, and he kissed me.

“I really have no idea what you kids are thinking these days. So all I have to say is treat each other well. We don’t need a repeat of your last scandal, Sierra,” hyung sighed.

“I’ll take good care of her,” Jae Joong answered for me. “She’ll never get hurt again.”

That night, all of us partied hard as we were promised the day off tomorrow. I danced with Jae Joong the whole night, allowing Yun Ho and Han Kyung to cut in once or twice. At one point, I even had a mini dance battle with Yun Ho. Towards the end of the party; they started playing some slow songs. Half the people had already left and those left on the dance floor were most couples. Jae Joong and I were dancing slowly with our arms wrapped around each other, and my head rested on his shoulder. Lee Min Woo’s ‘Last First Kiss’ was playing and as we danced, Jae Joong sang the chorus softly in my ear.

“I’m so in love with you, ije nan neowa duliseo. You'll always be my boo chigum i sungan. Saranghandago yeongweonhi malhago shipeo haengbukhan shigandeul keureon sunganijanni.”

Translation: I'm so in love with you, so you and I together. You'll always be my boo, now at this moment (I just hug you). I want to tell you forever that I love you in the happy moments like we're having right now

I felt like the luckiest girl alive that night and I was practically floating on air. I lay in my bed that night thinking of all the things which had happened at the party and the things Jae Joong had said to me tonight.

“Sierra-ya,” he said when we were sitting in his car outside my apartment block.

“Wae?” I said as I stroked the back of his hand.

“When we come back from New York, do you want to meet my family?”

I was stunned when he said it. Were we going a little too fast? We’re not getting married any time soon. Why does he want to introduce me to his family?

“Isn’t it a little too soon?” I asked him.

“I think its perfect timing. I want my family to meet the girl of my dreams.”

“Isn’t meeting the parents for a girl you want to marry?” I asked.

“Would you marry me if I asked you?” he said.

He must be drunk. The Jae Joong I know would never think of getting married at 22.

“You’re acting crazy, you know? Stop scaring me.”

“I’m serious. Let’s get engaged. I know we can’t get married now. Maybe we can have a long engagement. Then when our careers have stabilized and quieted down, we can get married.”

“Jae Joong, what… why are you having thoughts like that? If this is just to make sure we stay together, there’s no need for it. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I just want you to be truly mine.”

“I’m yours,” I said and I kissed him. “Never forget that.”

To be honest, I was terrified of the thought of meeting his family. He has 8 sisters!!! That is scary. And he’s the only son; the pride and joy of his family. What if they don’t think I’m suitable for him? And I’m 2 years older. I don’t think they’d dig that. Thankfully Jae Joong had listened to me and understood that I wasn’t prepared.

“This is for you,” he said as he handed me a box.

“What’s this?” I said as I held the box in my hand and studied it. It was a Tiffany box; blue with a white satin ribbon.

“I’d meant it for the question I had earlier. But it’s all the same, I just want you to have something to wear so that you’ll always think of me.”

I opened the box and it was a fine platinum necklace, with a beautiful pendant. The diamonds were arranged on a frame of platinum rings according to the constellation, Cassiopeia, and right in the middle, there was an extra diamond.

“It’s beautiful,” I breathed. “But I thought Cassiopeia had only 5 stars.”

“The 6th represents you.”

“Isn’t it a little odd?”

“It means that you have a special place amidst all my fans. You’ve always supported me like you were my number one fan.”

“It must be really expensive. I can’t accept a gift like this,” I said as I started to close the box.

“I had it custom made for you, Sierra. Please wear it… to show that you love me.” He took the box from my hands and unhooked the necklace, and then he put it around my neck and fastened the clasp.

“Komawo,” I said as I touched the pendant which now rested just below my collarbone.

“I should thank you instead,” he said as he stroked my cheek with one hand.

“For what?” I asked.

“For loving me…”

The next day, I was alone at our dance rehearsal. Skye and Shoei had gone for a photo shoot for a men’s clothing line they were going to represent. I turn on the stereo and slowly warmed up to ‘Maybe I Love You’ by Girlfriends.

“Enough warming up,” Lex oppa said 1 minute into the song. “Let’s start with the routine.” I started to dance as Lex oppa watched.

“Straighten that leg,” he said from where he was standing. I put my leg down and tried the steps again. “Sierra, you’re not putting enough energy in your movements. You’re not listening to the music. Do it again.”

It’s pretty frustrating to train with Lex oppa, alone. When there were three people, there would be plenty of other faults for him to shout at. But since it was only me today, he had his full attention on me. I turned and landed, bending my knees low, then lunged forward. I’d underestimated the momentum from my turn and as I lunged forward, my left leg, which was behind, slipped, and I fell on my knee.

“Ouch!” I winced.

“You rushed into that turn,” Lex oppa said, not blinking an eye. He sure was a slave driver today.

“Can I take a break, oppa?” I asked.

“5 minutes,” he conceded and walked out of the room. Talk about PMS; did he forget to take his pills today?

As I stood up, I saw a figure at the door.

“Onni,” Hae Rin called out to me as she hobbled over. She was still walking with the aid of crutches.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Chapter 30: Like Shining Stars...

It was late, about 12am, when we finally left the rehearsal location for the finale concert. Jae Joong and I strolled leisurely towards his car, enjoying the cool night air. There were nights when the weather was unbearably humid, but tonight’s weather was unusually nice. When we reached his car, we didn’t get in. After a whole day of singing and dancing and running around, we wanted a few seconds to unwind and enjoy each other. I leaned on the closed door on the passenger side of the car and Jae Joong braced his arms on either side of me. I looked up at the sky as I inhaled slowly. Apart from the clean night air, I could smell the scent of Jae Joong’s sweat. Sweat which had long dried and made his body feel sticky. I touched his arm and winced playfully.

“You’re sticky,” I said.

“All the better to glue myself to you,” he said as he moved closer until our hips were touching. I put my arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. As the kiss deepened, he pushed me against the car, pinning me against it as he pressed his body on mine. As always, I could feel his hard, muscular body, contrasting against the softness of mine. I closed my eyes and savored the moment. It’s been a long time since we felt like this. The schedule and tension from the whole tour had reduced the time we had for ‘activities’ like this because the both of us were always too tired by the end of the day. But tonight, it was as if the week had been too long a wait. It didn’t matter if what we actually wanted was just a shower and our beds.

He pulled away and started kissing my neck hungrily. I almost moaned from the pleasure he gave me. Then he licked me lightly just beneath my earlobe.

“You’re so salty,” he laughed as he pulled away.

I licked him back in revenge. “You’re salty too,” I said and I pulled him back to me roughly. The impact from his body colliding with mine against the car set off the alarm and we laughed hysterically as Jae Joong tried to fish for his keys to turn it off.

“Come on, quick, get it out,” I said as I tried to contain my laughter.

“My jeans, their kinda tight at the pockets and the pockets are deep,” he complained.

“You’re gonna wake the whole neighbourhood! Hurry!” I said He finally managed to get his keys out and turned off the alarm.

“Look at what you’ve done,” he laughed. “Now everyone’s gonna know that we’re hiding out here.”

“It’s not my fault that you’re so heavy. I almost had my pelvis shattered,” I said as I stuck out my tongue at him.

“Get in,” he laughed as he playfully mussed my hair and he opened door for me.

“Call me before you go to bed,” Jae Joong said before I got out of the car.

“Araso,” I said and kissed him. Still fuelled by our little tryst in the parking lot, we continued kissing for a full minute before he pulled away.

“Go on…” he said. “It’s late.” I smiled and gave one last kiss before I hopped out of the car.

When I entered the apartment, Skye was showered and sitting in front of the TV with a midnight snack.

“Yo!” I called out and collapsed onto the sofa beside him.

“Hey…” he said as he continued to chew his snack. He still looked a little bothered to me. Was he still thinking about the incident with Hae Rin?

“Skye,” I started, “About Hae Rin…”

“I don’t want to talk about it, nuna,” he said, his voice emotionless.

“If you're sure,” I conceded. I was too tired to deal with him tonight anyway.

“Nuna,” Shoei called as he emerged from the bathroom. “What took you so long?”

“Jae Joong and I took a little detour,” I said and I winked.

“You crazy kids,” Shoei laughed as he went into his room.

I picked up my clothes and towel from my room and went into the bathroom. It was steamed up from Shoei’s recent shower. They never remember to turn on the exhaust fan. I turned on the fan and started stripping as the mist cleared. Then, I stood in front of the sink and peered into the mirror. I’d better get to bed soon. I’m starting to get bloodshot eyes. I turned on the shower and waited for the water to warm up, then I stood motionless under the showerhead and let the water wash down on me. It was a much needed shower after a long day. Some days, I’d turn the shower to the highest temperature to soothe the aches caused by our hours of training. But tonight, I didn’t need to do that. Plus, Skye and Shoei had used up most of the hot water. Thank god it was the summer.

Feeling clean and refreshed, I bounced onto my bed and picked up the phone. Jae Joong was probably waiting for my call. I waited for about 7 rings before he finally answered.

“Yoboseyo,” he said in a sleepy voice.

“You fell asleep?” I yelled into the phone. “Yah!! Weren’t you supposed to wait for me?”

“Mian,” he yawned. “I came home and sat in front of the TV for a moment, then I fell asleep.”

“You mean you haven’t even showered?” I gasped.

“Yep…” he said, laughing sleepily.

“You stinky boy, I can smell you all the way here,” I joked.

“And don’t I smell good…” he said.

“I’m going to bed,” I announced. “I need my beauty sleep. I was looking into the mirror just now and my eyes looked crazy.”

“Mmm… go on. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he drawled. I knew he was falling back to sleep again.

“Wake up!!” I yelled. “Shower before you sleep!!”

“Araso…” he whined.

“If you stink tomorrow, I’ll disown you,” I threatened.

“Alright, I’m going now,” he said. I could hear him opening the door to his room through the phone.

“Okay,” I said, satisfied that he was going to shower. “See you tomorrow…”

“Saranghae,” he said.

“Saranghae,” I replied and hung up slowly. Then, I turned out the lights and crawled back into bed. Thoughts of Jae Joong filled my head as I hugged my bolster and closed my eyes. I was so tired that I fell asleep almost immediately.

“Nuna…” Shoei knocked on my door to wake me up. For the past 2 years, Shoei had always been dependable. He never failed to wake up on time and to wake me up on time. Even though I’d always set my alarm, Shoei knew that I tend to go back to sleep after turning it off, so he took it upon himself to wake me each morning.

“I’m up…” I mumbled as loudly and coherently as I could. My throat was dry and my lips were chapped from sleeping in the air conditioned room.

“The bathroom’s free,” he said before walking off.

I dragged myself off the bed and sat on the floor as I rustled through my drawers for my underwear. After grabbing one of my many tracksuits, I went into the bathroom to shower. Contrary to what people think, we mostly dress in tracksuits when we have trainings or rehearsals. It’s only on days which we have no physical activities that we bother to dress up in clothes other than our tracksuits. The only thing which differentiates us from each other would be the choice of shirt we wear under the jackets. I usually have on a tank top, spaghetti strapped shirt or a halter. Tubes were too risky. They might fall off if we were doing some really rigorous routine, so you wouldn’t find many girls who dared to wear tubes to trainings unless, of course, they’ve got huge assets to hold them up. On days where we were going somewhere else after training, we’d wear a comfortable pair of jeans in place of sweatpants.

I picked up my bag, which contained all the stuff I needed for the day. It’s been a norm for me to carry a huge bag. I’d have a book, my MP3 player, lotion, wet wipes, water, towel, a change of clothes, a comb, facial blotters, a pair of shades, my wallet and mobile phone and my little handbag for when we nip out for a break at a nearby café or some place. Sounds like an arsenal doesn’t it? In the beginning, the guys loved rummaging through my bag during breaks to ridicule the stuff I carry with me.

“Nuna,” Skye exclaimed, “It feels like as if you have a child or something. The only thing missing here are diapers.”

“And a bottle,” Shoei laughed.

“Laugh all you want,” I said as I grabbed my bag away from them. “Some day, you will realize the importance of my bag.”

And they slowly did. When Skye scraped himself, I had a plaster for him. When Shoei had a slight flu, I had the pills for him. Soon, they came to accept that my bag was important not only to me, but to themselves. And they were grateful they didn’t have to lug all that stuff around by themselves since they had me.

We got into the car waiting for us downstairs. Jae Joong couldn’t come pick us as he had some other matters to attend to before going to the location of tonight’s concert. It’s pretty inconvenient that none of us could drive, but Skye and Shoei were going to get their licenses as soon as we get a break. So for now, we have to bear with it.

The stage was almost set when we arrived. The technicians were mostly securing screens and lights and testing them as they did when we arrived. Music was blaring loudly from the speakers as the sound technicians tested them. We walked to our assigned places in the dressing room and set down our stuff. Just as we did, our PA walked towards us and started listing the things we needed to have done. But before we started, we grabbed our breakfast at the buffet they’d prepared in the corner of the room. There, we met Hee Chul and Han Kyung who were busy scoffing down their food.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” I asked Han Kyung.

“We’re due for sound check in a few minutes,” he explained.

“And someone woke up late today,” Hee Chul said as he looked pointedly at Han Kyung.

Han Kyung looked up, with his mouth full, and he did his best impression of a smiling hamster.

“Mian,” he said as he tried to swallow. “I got a little carried away with my PS-3 last night.”

“So what level are you on right now?” Skye said and the talk suddenly turned to focus on the PS-3 game the guys were crazy about at the moment. Guys… they’ll forever be like children.

As I started to pile my plate with sandwiches and other foods they’d prepared for us, I felt a familiar pair of arms snake around my waist and I was slowly pulled backwards into a hug.

“Guess who?” Jae Joong whispered into my ear.

I smiled and turned around, “You’re lucky I didn’t drop all the food.”

“Why would you?”

“I could’ve thought that you were some molester and got a huge shock from it,” I said indignantly.

“But you knew it was me,” he smiled as he released me and picked up a plate as well.

We went to sit at my dressing table and ate as we talked about our schedules for the day.

“So where did you go to this morning?” I asked.

“Something turned up at the recording studios,” he shrugged.

“At 7am?”

“It was the only time we could fit in a session of recording before today’s busy schedule.”

“Hmm… I suppose,” I sighed. Sometimes Jae Joong really worked too hard. As a matter of fact, the entire TVXQ worked too hard. But it was their life, their career and I’ve never dared to complain about it to Jae Joong. I knew his music and fans meant a lot to him. The hours he put into his dancing and singing were all because he didn’t want to disappoint his fans. Sometimes, I feel like I come in second, compared to them. But when he does the little things he’d do for me, I’m assured that I have a place in his heart.

That night, I peeked out from the wings of the stage. The seats were filling up quickly. So was the freestanding area in front of the stage. I felt nervous just watching the numbers of the audience increase. I hope tonight’s performance goes on without a glitch. The management must’ve done a lot to cut through the red tape in order for us to perform tonight. We’d heard that the concert was almost cancelled because of what had happened in Kwangju.

I watched the TV in the dressing room while waiting for our turn. TVXQ was performing onstage at that moment. I could see Jae Joong dancing and smiling as he did. It warmed my heart whenever I saw him enjoying himself. After all, he’d been through his fair share of hardship to get where he is today. Personally, I feel that a kasu’s happiest moment is when they’re on stage and the fans go crazy for them. It used to bother me that the fans were screaming more than listening to us, but after a few live performances, I got used to it. I’m sure they love how we sound and they must be really excited to see us perform live. I understood that feeling because I was once a fan at a TVXQ concert, and I waved and screamed like any other fan would, hoping that they would look my way.

“Nuna, let's go!” Skye called for me. I got up and we started to walk up the corridor leading to the stage. The guys from The Trax walked passed and high-fived us on their way in from just finishing their performance. We stood in the wings and waited for the MC to announce us. I smoothed down the apple green sundress I wore tonight, with white tights underneath, and then Skye hugged me just as the MC called our names.

We run onstage and started performing ‘Summertime of Our Lives’. It felt as exhilarating as it did back in Kwangju and back in the other cities we’d performed in. The fans danced and waved with us, and not to forget the screaming. As the song ended and we stood there in our end poses, the audience cheered madly.

“Kamsahamnida!” Shoei shouted into his microphone as he bowed.

I could feel the entire stage shaking with the volume of their cheers. Tears came to my eyes as I waved and bowed to the sea of fans who’d come to watch us. Because of them, S-Cube is here to stay.

“Nuna,” Skye said as we walked offstage. “Did you feel it tonight?”

“Feel what?” I asked Skye.

“The love… I could feel the love of our fans emanating from the audience.”

“Are you sure you didn’t get a heat stroke or something,” I teased.

“No,” he replied. “It was definitely love.”

Friday, 24 November 2006

A Special Post for 재중...

I'm interrupting this story to post a special message for my leading man, Kim Jae Joong (김재중).

For the past few days, I've been following the news on his paternity lawsuit online and I'm deeply saddened, almost devastated, when I heard that Jae Joong had been crying. Jae Joong has always had the image of a hero; strong and unshakeable. He always had a smile on his face, and if he didn’t, he’d never show his deepest emotions either.

I know that he probably wants to put this incident behind him as soon as possible, but nothing is going to prevent the media from continuing to speculate on it. Furthermore, as fans, it’s not because we wish to continue to be nosy and keep discussing it. I hope he understands that the fans discuss it because they are concerned about him and want to share his sorrows.

Reading that he had been unable to control his emotions, since the incident, shows that he has truly been shaken by it. I can almost feel his pain in trying to be a man in the eyes of the public when he is still very much a boy at heart. He’s only 20. He still needs the love and support of those around him to survive each day. We all know that he always puts on a brave front for all of us to see because he needs to maintain an image in the eyes of his fans and the public. I really want to be able to hug him and tell him there is no need for that. So here is a short message I have for him:

I hope you read this, 재중. I can't really write in Korean yet and I hope to be able to someday so that I can give you strength with the right words.

You will always be our 영웅, 김재중. Cry if you want to, laugh if you want to. Tears will not make you weak. They are a release of your innermost feelings which will help you become stronger. Whenever we hear your laughter, it brings warmth and joy to our hearts. Each day we look at you, we love you more and more. It was not the image of a hero that made us fall in love with you. It was the image of a man, flesh and blood, through emotions and expressions, who has captured our hearts.


Sources for articles/information on Jae Joong's paternity suit:

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Chapter 29: I Want

Special chapter, through Hae Rin’s eyes.


We’re on our way back to Seoul after the big accident in Kwangju. I still felt short of breath when I think of last night. I’d almost died and no one noticed until the very last moment. Were they blind? Skye… he’s such a busybody.

“Hae Rin, why did you disobey the producers?” he asked me as we waited in the ER for a doctor to attend to me.

“What did I do?” I looked at him innocently.

“You said that you were dancing beside Jae Joong hyung. You weren’t supposed to be beside him. Weren’t you at the briefing?”

“Everyone was goofing around back there. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t listen to instructions,” I retorted. Who was he to list me my faults? I might still be a trainee, but I’d been guaranteed a debut next year.

“You could’ve been killed,” he said quietly.

I could have been killed. When I saw the sparks of electricity just seconds after Skye had pulled me away, I was horrified. I could’ve been fried alive. Skye… he’s still in front of me. What a bother! “Why do you care?” I asked him defiantly.

“We’re friends.”

“No we’re not. We just happen to belong to the same group of friends. You and I are most definitely not friends.”

“I saved you tonight,” he raised his voice.

“And am I supposed to feel indebted?” I matched his tone.

“Whatever,” he said and he walked away to sit on the benches along the corridor.

Yesterday night, I couldn’t sleep. I thought about Jae Joong oppa.

“Why were you behind us anyway?” Sierra onni had asked me when we’d boarded the bus after leaving the stadium. “Why didn’t you get off the stage with the trainees earlier?”

“I wasn’t dancing with the trainees,” I’d replied her. She stared at me with that confused expression she always has. I hate that expression. It makes me want to tear out her hair. Did she think that she looked cute just because she’s had her face fixed?

“You weren’t?” Skye said.

“I was dancing beside Jae Joong oppa at the end,” I said.

“I didn’t notice you beside me,” Jae Joong oppa said.

He didn’t notice me. I was right beside him all along, and he didn’t notice me. He never notices me. All he sees is Sierra onni. When we were rehearsing yesterday, I watched him as he stood in front of the stage and stared at Sierra onni when she danced. That expression he had on his face. I suppose they call that love or even tenderness; Jae Joong oppa never looked at me like that. I was so upset that I didn’t notice the puddle. That’s why I slipped and fell. And whose arms did I have to fall into? That busybody, Skye.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think Skye’s ugly. He isn’t the least repulsive. He’s got nice hair, nice facial features. He’s pretty adorable sometimes, despite being tall and all. He actually reminds me of Won Bin with those eyes of his. But he isn’t Jae Joong oppa. No one can ever come close to Jae Joong oppa.

I looked out of the window as the bus sped past the countryside. How I wish I were on the same bus as Jae Joong oppa. I wonder what he’s doing now. He’s probably playing footsie or something with Sierra onni. They’re so lovey dovey, even when we go out as a group, it makes me want to hurl. I wonder why they hadn’t officially announced their relationship yet. Or why they hadn’t been caught yet? It’s probably because the management is turning a blind eye on them. It’s so unfair. Just because Jae Joong oppa is from TVXQ and Sierra onni is from S-Cube, they cut them slack. S-Cube isn’t that great to begin with. All they know are love songs. I wonder why they even bother to have Sierra onni in the band. Probably just to differentiate them from FTTS.

“Hae Rin-ah,” Su Bin nudged me. “You want some chips?” she asked as she passed me a bag of potato chips. I looked at it and sighed. I was supposed to be on a diet in preparation for my debut. I dipped my hand into the bag and pulled out a few pieces. What the heck, I can always lose it in the gym tomorrow.

“Komawo,” I said as I munched on the chips. Su Bin was my closest friend among all the trainees. I lost any friend I had the moment they decided I could debut as a solo artiste. I knew the kind of rumors that were circulated about me amongst them. They said that I’d seduced my manager. Then there were those who said that I used to be butt ugly and had to have surgery before I was accepted at SM. Su Bin was the only person who didn’t indulge in the gossips. And because of that, she became a target herself.

“Are you still thinking about last night?” she said, as she patted my arm. “You’re safe now. So stop stressing yourself by thinking about it.”

“I’m not stressing. I was just thinking how close I was to dying after all I’d done to get to where I am today.”

“Ya… you’re still here. Be thankful and work hard.”

“It sucks that I can’t perform with you guys for the finale,” I sighed.

“There are plenty of chances to come. What’s more, by the time the next tour comes, you'd have debuted and you’ll get to perform solo.”

I smiled at the thought of my future, my very near future. “Will you dance for me then?” I asked Su Bin.

“Sure I will!” she replied brightly.

We’ve stopped for a toilet break. I could see the guys from Super Junior getting out of the bus in front of us. I stepped forward quickly, wanting to run over to join them, and the pain seared through my ankle.

“Aahh…” I groaned.

“Hae Rin!” Su Bin panicked. “Kwaench'ana?” she asked.

“Kwaench'ana. I just forgot that I had an injury.”

“You’d better remember that if you want to get well quick,” she chided me like a mother.

“Araso,” I smiled at her as she helped me off the bus.

After Su Bin and I were done at the toilets, we walked over to join Si Won oppa and the guys. They were sitting on any bench and ledge and rock which was available.

“Hae Rin, you’re here!” Si Won oppa greeted me. All the female trainees love Si Won oppa. They’d give their arm to talk to him the way I did. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m not popular. Si Won oppa had always treated me like a little sister. He’d stop by during my training with snacks and when he went out with the guys, he’d take me along. In my eyes, Si Won oppa is just a brother I never had. I’ve always asked myself why I didn’t have a shred of infatuation for him. Maybe it’s because I’ve known him for too long.

I sat down on the bench beside Si Won oppa and Su Bin sat down beside me.

“How’s your ankle?” he asked.

“It still hurts, but I’ll be fine,” I smiled.

“Take good care of it. You don’t want your career ruined in the future because of a recurring injury.”

The break ended when the producers and managers started ushering us onto the bus since we’d begun to attract the attention of other motorists who’d stopped for a break at the same area. I turned around to look for Jae Joong oppa. I hadn’t seen him since I got off the bus. Then I saw him and Sierra onni emerge from behind one of the big boulders erected for landscaping purposes. They were holding hands and Sierra onni was giggling as if he’d just told her a secret. I could feel myself turning green with envy as I turned away to get on the bus.

We'd finally arrived in Seoul. The bus dropped us off at SM’s HQ and we had to find our own way home. Just as Su Bin and I were about to walk out to flag down a taxi, a car pulled up beside us. The windows wound down and it was my manager, Ryu Ji Tae.

“Get in,” he said.

Su Bin sat behind while I sat in front with Ji Tae oppa.

“I haven’t had the chance to interrogate you about your near death experience,” he said. “So what were you doing at the front of the stage?” Oppa was one of the toughest managers at SM. I was lucky to have been taken under his wing, but sometimes, it was a horror. His face is always masked with a serious expression and many people do not dare to approach him.

“Oppa, I…” I started and was cut off.

“You disobeyed the producers and almost got yourself killed. What were you doing during the briefing where they’d specifically said that all trainees were to remain at the back of the stage? Is that such a difficult instruction to follow?”

“Everyone was goofing around at the time. The other trainees came forward as well,” I protested.

“But they got off the stage first. Where were you when they did?” he retorted.

I kept quiet. There was no point arguing with him as it was clearly my fault. I wasn’t about to tell him that I’d gone to dance beside Jae Joong oppa to get him to notice me.

“Do you know how much I’m banking on your debut? You’re going to be a star, Hae Rin, and you’d better start thinking like one.”

The rest of the drive back to our hostel was silent. When we arrived, Su Bin got off first and helped me out of the car.

“You have training tomorrow,” oppa said, just before he left.

“But what about my ankle?” I said. I was actually looking forward to the two weeks of resting the doctor had ordered for me.

“If you can’t dance, then you’ll sing,” he said and he drove off.

“He’s so mean,” Su Bin gasped as soon as oppa left.

“He is,” I agreed. “But he’s going to make me a star.”

That night, I couldn’t sleep again. Su Bin had left the dormitory we shared, after lunch, to attend the rehearsal for the finale concert and she still hasn’t returned. As I tossed around in the dark, my mind drifted back to Skye. I pinched myself, willing the image of his face to go away. He’d stopped me as I came out from the toilets at the hotel in Kwangju.

“Are you feeling better?” he asked me.

“Why do you care?” I said as I leaned my back against the wall. Walking with just one leg and a crutch sure was tiring.

“Can you stop treating me like this?”

“Like what? Isn’t this how we’ve always talked?”

“Things have changed,” he said softly.

“Mwo?” I said, puzzled at his sudden change of expression.

“My feelings for you have changed,” Skye said.

I stared at him for a long time. Was he mad? We’d always fought whenever we met. We’d insult each other and poke fun at each other in front of the others. How could his feelings change overnight? “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said as I started to walk away. I’m not about to be part of his temporary insanity.

“Hae Rin,” he said and he grabbed my arm to push me back against the wall.

“Let me go,” I said.

“Didn’t you feel it yesterday?” he asked earnestly. I really had no idea what he was getting on about.

“What happened?”

“During the rehearsal…”

“It was an accident, don’t read too much into it,” I snapped.

He looked at me sadly and said, “My heart stopped when I saw you fall last night, as the stage was collapsing. I never thought I’d care so much for you. But even before that, I’d been thinking about you the whole day. I just couldn’t get you out of my head.”

“Then I suggest you get me out of there soon. I don’t have that sort of feelings for you. I never will,” I said.

“How can you be so cold, Hae Rin? I saved you yesterday and I truly care for you.”

“Thank you for saving me. But I never expected you to. And as for your feelings, you’re just wasting your time. I’m in love with someone else.”

“Who, Hae Rin? Tell me. I’ve never seen you close to any guy except for Si Won. Who else would you be interested in?” he said as he grabbed my hands.

“It’s none of your business and you will never measure up to him,” I retorted as I pushed him away.

“If you’re so sure I wouldn’t stand a chance, just tell me who he is. If I know for sure I can’t beat him, I’ll leave you alone,” he pleaded.

At that moment, I just wanted to get rid of him, so I did the unthinkable. I revealed my secret, “Jae Joong oppa.”

His face froze when he heard Jae Joong oppa’s name. Then he quickly recovered and smiled at me. It wasn’t a friendly smile. It looked like he was mocking me. “Jae Joong, huh,” he laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I said. I could feel my tempers rising.

“Jae Joong will never like you. He will never leave nuna.”

“I’ll make him,” I said defiantly.

He laughed again, mocking me. My hands itched at the thought of slapping him, “It’s so obvious he loves her too much. You’ll never come close to nuna in his eyes.”

And that did it. His last sentence shot straight into my heart. I slapped him across the face.

“You jerk!!” I yelled at him. “I’ll show you!!” I said as I gritted my teeth. Then I turned and started walking away. As I looked up, I saw Sierra onni standing at the end of the corridor. “Onni…” I stammered. Did she hear our conversation?

“What happened?” she asked me as I approached her. Obviously she hadn’t heard my conversation with Skye.

“Um… it’s nothing,” I mumbled. “I gotta go,” I said and I quickly walked away.

I’m staring at the crack of light on the ceiling, coming through the curtains. I felt so tired, tired of my life. Sometimes I just want to quit. But I can’t, not just yet. I’ll prove to everyone that I am worth my price as a kasu. And when Jae Joong oppa is finally mine, I would’ve fulfilled all my life’s ambitions.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Chapter 28: Shy Love

The bus pulled up just outside the ER entrance at the nearest hospital. Skye carried Hae Rin in, accompanied by her manager, while we waited in the bus. About half an hour later, Skye boarded the bus, alone.

“So how’s Hae Rin?” I asked.

“She just had a minor sprain. The doctor said she’ll be fine in a week or two. But she definitely can’t continue going on tour with us.”

“After tonight, I wonder if there is still gonna be a tour,” Hee Chul said.

“Yea… that collapse was massive!!” Chang Min piped in. It seemed that the guys have finally found their voices. They’d been pretty silent since we left the stadium.

“I only hope that no one from the audience got hurt,” Yun Ho said. We all nodded in agreement. We didn’t get a chance to check on the audiences at all back there. The management had immediately ushered us onto the bus after the stage collapsed.

“It’s so weird, this has never happened before. We’d had so many tours before and there has never been a near-fatal technical error like the one tonight,” Jae Joong said.

“It must be a freak accident,” Yun Ho said. “Unless, there had been sabotage or negligence by the stage crew.”

“Let’s not talk about it anymore,” I said. “Just thinking about what could’ve happened gives me the chills.”

We checked in at the hotel and started getting ready for bed. The management had booked an entire floor for us. Technically, we were supposed to get ready for bed, but the guys were playing around in the corridors instead; running from room to room and engaging in pillow fights right outside their rooms. It felt like a children’s camp, minus the presence of an adult chaperone. During the commotion, Jae Joong snuck into my room to spend the night. I’d gotten a room of my own since all the other girls had paired off.

“Waah!!” Jae Joong said as he jumped on the queen sized bed face first. “Why do you get your own room?”

“Cos no one wants to share with me,” I said as I jumped on the bed beside him.

“Ya… you must be really unfriendly to be shunned like this,” he joked.

“Or is it because of you that I’m shunned?” I smacked his arm.

“Hmm… you have a point there. I do have many admirers and they’re sure to hate you.”

“Glad you know it,” I said as I started to get under the covers.

“I shall keep you company tonight,” he said as he too started to get in.

“Yah! Who asked you to?” I said as I nudged his butt with my feet, trying to kick him off the bed.

“I’m being a gentleman here by accompanying you,” he smiled sweetly. “And you know you want me to stay,” he said as he tried to put his arm around me.

“I want my own bed! I wanna roll around in it all by myself! And if hyung finds you here, you’re gonna be in trouble.”

“You sure are weird, wanting to roll around all by yourself. Is that what you do to past time when I’m not with you?” he laughed.

“None of your business,” I said as I tried to kick him off again.

“Sierra-ah…” he whined cutely as he sidled up beside me. “I’ll be a good boy. I just want a bigger space to sleep in. The guys are such pigs,” he complained and gave me his adorably sad expression.

“Araso…” I laughed as I pinched his cheeks with both hands. “But you better make sure hyung doesn’t find you here.”

“He won’t!” Jae Joong exclaimed gleefully and he started to get comfortable in my bed. He put his left arm under my head and I lay on my side, hugging him.

“Jae Joong-ah,” I said.


“Didn’t you see Hae Rim when she danced beside you?”

“I didn’t notice. I was busy looking at the audience and looking at you.”


“Chintcha… you were great tonight. I saw your performance from the TV they’d hooked up in the dressing room,” he said as he pulled me close and kissed my forehead.

“It’s just odd. Why did she even come forward to dance beside you? The trainees were told during briefing that they were to stay behind us.”

“They were goofing around a lot back there. They could’ve just forgotten the arrangements.”

“Maybe,” I sighed and then I yawned.

“Go to sleep,” he said as he stroked my head. “All that excitement has made me tired as well,” he said as he yawned.

“G’night,” I said as I snuggled closer.

“G’night,” he said as he turned out the bedside lamp and put his arms around me.

The next morning I was woken up by a loud banging on the door.

“Wake up, nuna!!” I heard Shoei shout through the door.

I yawned and stretched leisurely, and then I realized that Jae Joong was gone. He must’ve snuck out early this morning to avoid getting caught. I smiled to myself at his thoughtfulness.

“Nuna!!” Shoei shouted impatiently.

“Right!!” I shouted, as I sat up in my bed. “I’m awake!!”

“The management wants us down in the café in 20 minutes.”

“Araso…” I said and I plopped back onto the bed. I turned to look at the alarm clock, I’d brought, on the bedside table. It was 8:30am. Then I saw a piece of paper pinned beneath the clock.


You slept like a baby. But you sure didn’t feel like one ^^p



I smiled as I read the message he’d written. He always knew how to brighten my day. I quickly got into the shower. If there was going to be anymore traveling today, I’d want to make sure that I’m going to feel clean and fresh for the rest of the day. I could never understand the guys who don’t shower each morning. They usually have to put up with it until we get to the next hotel. And sometimes, that could be as late as 2am, the next day. Imagine not having had a shower from 8am to 2am. That’s like 18 hours of stink building up on their bodies.

8:45am. I’m putting on my tracksuit. I walk into the bathroom with my bottle of hairspray and started styling my hair as simply as I could. There was a plus for having short hair; you get natural bed head and that saves time when it comes to styling it. The setback is when the natural bed head doesn’t look the way you intended it to. Then you’d have a hard time reversing the effects.

It was exactly 8:50am when I waltzed into the café at the hotel. Most of them were already eating. I walked to our gang’s table and sat down beside Jae Joong. He immediately set a plate of food, he’d saved, in front of me and I started eating without a word. It had been like that for the past week since we started touring. I’d always be later than Jae Joong in coming down for breakfast. He’d always have my plate of food waiting for me and there wouldn’t be a single thing, which I wouldn’t like to eat, on it. As I chewed, I looked around. The producers and managers were busy eating at their own tables.

“So what’s the commotion about?” I whispered across the table to Shoei who was sitting right opposite me.

“Hyung said that the management had an announcement to make,” he whispered back.

“Did anyone see the papers this morning?” Kang In whispered to the entire table.

“What’s in it?” I asked.

“There were people injured last night. Serious injuries!!” Kang In said.

“How serious?” Skye asked.

“There was a girl with a broken leg, another had a gash on her head and a few more I couldn’t remember. There was a minor stampede when the audiences in front tried to move away from the stage. Because the audiences at the back were not aware that the stage was collapsing, they didn’t move away or give way to those who were moving back.”

“Man… that’s scary!!” Chang Min said.

“Yea…” Kang In continued, “and those at the back actually surged forward when those in front made it past them, only to realize that the stage was collapsing.”

“Ya… no wonder there were so many emergency vehicles whizzing past us last night as we left the stadium,” Yoo Chun said.

“I’m so glad I’ll never have to be part of an audience like that,” Jun Su said.

“But once upon a time, you were,” Yoo Chun laughed. “And I bet you were as crazy as any of those audiences were last night.”

“Am not!!” Jun Su squeaked and then he pouted.

At about 9:15am, one of the senior producers called for our attention.

“As you all may have found out, there were members of the audience injured during the accident last night. We were lucky no one was killed and the management is glad that none of you here sustained any serious injury, apart from Hae Rin, who’d twisted her ankle. Having said that, the management has instructed me to announce that we will not be continuing on the tour but we will drive directly back to Seoul and still have the finale concert in 2 days.”

The whole room groaned. They had been looking forward to completing the entire tour and now it had been cut short.

“An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of yesterday’s accident. That is why we have to wait for 2 days before we can stage the finale. We leave in one hour.”

As soon as the producer ended his speech, everyone started chattering away.

“I wanted to visit Pusan!!” I heard Ryeo Wook whine.

“Does this mean we’re gonna get a 2 day break?” Han Kyung turned to Yun Ho.

“Travelling back would take the entire day, and then we’d probably have rehearsals tomorrow. So I don’t think it’s a break,” Yun Ho replied.

The guys groaned when they heard Yun Ho’s remark.

“I’m going to the loo,” I told Jae Joong as I got up.

“You want me to go with you?” he said.

“Pyont’ae…” I accused laughingly.

“Ya… I was just being a good boyfriend.”

“Thank you, I don’t need an escort,” I said. “Pyont’ae,” I repeated under my breath, but loud enough so that he could hear it.

He pulled me down to whisper in my ear, “If you don’t go right this instant, I’m realy gonna turn into one.”

“Oooh!! I’m so afraid,” I laughed as I walked away.

As I walked turned into the corridor which lead to the washrooms, I saw two figures some distance ahead of me. It was Hae Rin and Skye. Hae Rin was leaning against the wall and Skye was standing in front of her, talking. I was about to call out to them when suddenly, Hae Rin slapped Skye. I looked on in shock. Skye looked shocked himself as his hand went to his cheek.

“You jerk!!” Hae Rin yelled. “I’ll show you!!” she added and started to limp away from him. As she looked up, she saw me. “Onni…” she stammered.

“What happened?” I asked her.

“Um… it’s nothing,” she said. “I gotta go,” she said huffily and quickly limped away.

I approached Skye who was still standing there, facing the wall. “Skye?” I looked at him questioningly.

“I’m fine, nuna,” he sighed. “I better get back to my room to pack,” he said and he turned to walk away.

Two hours later, we were in the bus on our way back to Seoul. The fans had gathered at the hotel earlier to see us off. It was pretty touching. They cheered and waved as our bus pulled out of the hotel grounds. Some came with huge banners and some wore the official colors of our tour, white, green and yellow. There were also fans who cried. Going on this tour had been a real eye opener. It had proven to me that we were actually more loved by our fans that we’d expected.

I leaned on Jae Joong as the bus drove down the highway. He was strumming on an acoustic guitar and singing his own rendition of their 2006 Japanese single, Miss You. His voice would always sound beautiful to me and it never fails to calm me. But as he sang today, my mind kept drifting back to the scene I’d encountered earlier. Why did Hae Rin slap Skye?