Benson was a friend whom I’d met years ago through my schoolmates. The fact that we ever kept in contact would seem weird to everyone because we didn’t have much in common. He’d studied abroad and he came from a rich family. His family owned a chain of imported car showrooms all over the region and also factories manufacturing the replacement parts of these imported cars. He studied when he wanted, worked when he wanted to and partied whenever he liked. His coming here would mean that he was probably extremely bored as of late.
“Hey!” I said, taking a few steps toward him. “What are you doing here?” I asked as I smacked him on the arm. Benson and I never hugged, we never shook hands but we wouldn’t hesitate to give each other a smack on the arm or a thump on the back.
“The scene back home was getting a little dull and since you’re here, so far away from home, I thought I’d come enjoy a little of your hospitality,” he said.
“Unannounced…” I said.
“Yea, baby,” he drawled and winked. That’s how he spoke. Every girl was babe or baby to him. If you didn’t know him, you’d think he was trying to hit on you.
“Come on,” I said as I entered the elevator and he followed me in. He sure traveled light. All he had was a backpack and a little trolley bag.
As I opened the door, Skye, who was sitting on the sofa watching TV, turned around.
“Hey nuna!” he said.
“Hey…” I replied, then saw Skye’s eyes widen as Benson followed me in. “This is a friend of mine from my hometown, his name’s Benson.”
“Hey man,” said Benson.
“Hey…” said Skye and he got up and ran to Shoei’s room.
If you ever got a chance to see Benson, you would probably have thought he was an artiste like one of us. His head was always shaven, and not everyone would look good with a bald head, he had piercings on both ears and most importantly, he had an aura about him. It sort of emanates, ‘I’m a babe magnet’ or sometimes ‘I’m a bad boy’. But if you knew him personally, you’d realize that he’s actually really down to earth and sometimes really homely. Kinda like myself. When I first met him, I always thought he reminded me of Ben from the Taiwanese boy band, B.A.D, back when Ben had shaved his head as well.
Skye came out with Shoei in tow.
“Shoei,” I said. “Come meet Benson.”
They shook hands and Shoei said, “So, you’re one of nuna’s friends. She’s never mentioned you though.”
“She hasn’t, eh? Nuna?” Benson said in a puzzled tone, “Why are you nuna?” he asked me.
“It means older sister. It’s what guys call girls older than them,” I explained.
“Oooh…” he said, “So what are you supposed to call me?”
“If you’re older, she has to call you oppa,” Skye offered.
“Oppa… I like it,” he said and turned to me, “Hey, call me oppa!”
“Fat chance,” I retorted, “I’m calling you Benson and you’re lucky people here wouldn’t get it if I called you Ah Beng. So you’d better be happy with what you’ve got.”
Ah Beng was a nickname I’d given Benson. In return, he’d call me Ah Lian. Ah Beng was a stereotype Chinese name for a thug, or simply a slacker and Ah Lian would be the female counterpart.
“Ah Lian,” he retorted and we both smiled. Skye and Shoei were totally confused and didn’t understand a single thing about what we were going on about.
Benson was to sleep in Shoei’s room since he had more floor space than Skye did. As I prepared the spare futon we’d kept for guests, Benson sat on Shoei’s bed and attempted to interrogate me.
“So what’s up with you?” he asked.
“Nothing much. Singing, dancing, eating and sleeping. Occasionally there’d be filming. All in all, the life every entertainer lives,” I replied as I tugged the sheets in place.
“How typical of you to say that. The fame must’ve gotten to your head,” he joked.
I turned around to face him and sat cross-legged on the futon.
“It isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” I said.
“Yea, but at least you’re living your dream, so us non-entertainers would like to hear that the job is a little more glam that it actually is. It’s your job to inspire us, give us a little fantasy.”
“I thought my job was to get in and find out for everyone out there if it really were such a great thing,” I laughed.
“Nah… we only wanna know the good bits. Keep the pain and struggle to yourself,” he joked.
I smacked him with a pillow, “You’re so heartless!”
We went out for a quick dinner of noodles and the guys had a few drinks. Then we walked home. As our block came into view, we saw Jae Joong’s black VW was parked at the entrance. We approached the entrance and Jae Joong got out.
“Hyung,” Shoei called out, “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see Sierra,” he replied.
“What’s up?” I said approaching him. Benson stood at some distance behind me as Skye and Shoei kept walking in toward the elevator.
“Who’s that?” Jae Joong said, as he scrutinized Benson’s appearance.
“My friend,” I said, “Why do you care?”
“You know I’ve always cared,” he said, almost in a whisper.
I sighed and blew at my fringe which had fallen over my eye, “What do you want?” I said.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
“Not tonight, I’m busy.”
“With him?” he asked, smirking.
“Yes, with him.” I retorted. What’s with the smirking? He’s starting to piss me off.
“Does Yun Ho know?” he asked.
Now I was pissed, “It’s not your concern if Yun Ho knows or not. And just for your information, there is nothing going on between my friend and me. He knows I have a boyfriend and he’s nothing like you.”
“That hurt, but I guess I deserved it,” he said, looking down. I turned away and folded my arms. “I guess I really came at the wrong time,” he said.
“Yea, I gotta go. I have a busy day tomorrow,” I said as I pushed past him. I could feel his eyes burning on my back as I walked in with Benson following right behind me.
“Hey man,” Benson said as he walked past Jae Joong.
As the doors of the elevator were closing, I looked up quickly to see if he’s gone. He was standing there, still watching me, and there was sadness in his eyes.
The next day was busy one. S-Cube had a CF to shoot and we had to spend the entire day on the set. Because I was busy, Benson went sightseeing by himself and we arranged to meet up for dinner. The CF was for Anycall’s new phone conferencing function. Ironically, the plot for the CF would be sort of a love triangle, but a playful one. And I get to play a two-timer. Wait a minute… I’ve already done it before. When I saw the script, you wouldn’t believe how upset I felt. Even though no one knew about my problems, it felt like a personal attack. I took a deep breath and told myself that it wasn’t intentional, that a job was a job and money was money. We were all dressed in white and the scene was shot in a park. Me in a white dress, on my way to a date, Shoei in a white suit, on his way to work and Skye in a white tracksuit, hip-hop style, on his way to meet me.
Perky elevator music played as I walk down the path almost skipping because I was on my way to meet Skye, and my phone rang.
“Oh! Shoei oppa,” I giggled, “Yoboseyo,” I answered in a cute voice.
“Na-ya,” Shoei said, “Neo odiya?” he asked, he was talking to me with a hands free set.
[Translation: It’s me. Where are you?]
“Oh! Shopping-haeyo!” I giggled at my lie, “Wae?” I asked.
“Oneulbam katchi meokja.” he said.
[Translation: Let’s eat together tonight.]
Just then my phone beeps, I had an incoming call.
“Oppa… Chamkan…” I said and I clicked a button to receive the incoming call and put Shoei onhold or so I thought.
Shoei looks at his phone in disbelief.
“Uri Sierra… Odiya?” Skye sang into the phone.
“Oppa,” I squealed in delight.
“Ppalli nawa!” he said in a cute voice.
[Translation: Come quick.]
“Ne, oppa. Saranghae!” I said.
“Yah!!” Shoei suddenly shouted through the phone. I almost drop it in shock. “Neo nuguya!!!”
[Translation: Yah!!! Who the hell are you?!!]
Skye stares at his phone as Shoei continued to shout.
“Na Sierra namjachingu! Neo nuguya!!!” Skye yelled back.
[Translation: I’m Sierra’s boyfriend. Who the hell are you?]
“Mwo??!!” Shoei yelled, "Yah! Sierra nae kkoya!!"
[Translation: What? Yah! Sierra is mine.]
"Mwo?!!" Skye yelled, "Neo paboya? Sierra nae kkoya!!"
[Translation: What? Are you stupid or something? Sierra is mine!]
And then it was pandemonium as the guys kept arguing, and I can hear them on my phone.
“All new Anycall conferencing function, choshimhaseyo…” the voiceover says.
[Translation: The all new Anycall conferencing function, be careful.]
The director yells, “Cut!!” and all three of us, including everyone on the set burst into laughter. Skye was rolling around on the ground, clutching his stomach.
“That was fun!” Skye said when we were in the trailer, removing our makeup.
“What? You wish that you were in situation like this?” I asked.
“It would be funny. Shocking… But I’d laugh later on when I thought of it.”
I shook my head. Skye was still very much a boy. He annoyed me sometimes, but it was always nice to have him around to cheer me up.
“Only you would think its fun,” Shoei said and slapped Skye on the back.
I walked out of the trailer after getting changed and Jae Joong leaning against a tree, waiting for me.
“What are you doing here?” I asked as I walked towards him.
“We never got to talk yesterday, so I came to see you.”
“Ya… Yongung JaeJoong. Don’t you have a busy schedule?”
“I was free today. Let’s go for a drink.”
I looked at the sky. It was starting to get dark since it was about 6pm, “We’re meeting Benson for dinner and drinks.”
“Benson again?” he said.
“In case you’ve forgotten, he’s visiting and I’m supposed to bring him around.”
“Fine, then I’m coming along,” he said.
“Suit yourself,” I said as I turned back to the trailer. I banged on the door, “Yah!! Ppalli!! We’re late!”
The guys game out about 5 minutes later. We piled into Jae Joong’s car and drove to the restaurant where we were supposed to meet Benson.
During the entire dinner, the guys were talking animatedly. Benson had somehow clicked with Skye and Shoei and they were now like best friends. I joined in with their teasing and playful insults as the meal progressed. Jae Joong just sat there and smiled when the guys joked and he kept drinking at every interval. By the time we were ready to leave, he was as drunk as a fish. The guys had to help him out of the restaurant. It was raining heavily as we walked out.
“Damn!! How are we gonna get home?” Skye said.
“More importantly, how are we gonna get him home?” Shoei said, nudging at Jae Joong.
“Yea, he’s heavier than I thought,” Skye complained as he shifted Jae Joong’s arms over his shoulder to make sure he didn’t slip to the ground.
“Didn’t he drive here?” Benson said.
“Right!!!” Skye said, “Nuna, fish for his keys.”
I dug through Jae Joong’s pockets and found his car keys, “We send him home? Then what about us?” I asked.
“He’ll have to sleep at our place tonight,” Shoei said.
“Yea, he can have the couch!” Skye said.
“Let’s go!” I said as the rain was getting heavier.
“Hey, who’s driving?” Shoei asked.
I didn’t have a license, Skye didn’t, and Shoei didn’t as well. We’d been so busy that we didn’t have time to take the tests.
“I’ll drive,” Benson said.
“You have a license?” Skye asked incredulously.
“International license,” Benson smirked and winked at them.
When we got home, we were all soaked.
“Jae Joong can’t sleep in the living room,” I said. “It’s too cold, he’ll get sick.”
“I’m not giving up my bed!!” Skye protested.
“He can sleep in mine,” I said.
“And where will you sleep?” Benson asked.
“I can sleep on the floor for one night,” I shrugged. “I’d hate to have to take care of him if he got sick.”
They dumped Jae Joong on my bed and I started taking off his coat and shirt. The guys helped me shift him so he’d be lying down properly and took off his wet pants while I went out to get a towel. When I got back in the room, they’d covered him with blankets and had gone back to their rooms. I pushed the room door open to let some fresh air in. I slowly picked up his wet clothes the guys had thrown on the floor. After putting them in the dryer, I went to sit on the bed beside him. As I dabbed off the drops of water on his face with the towel, his eyes fluttered open a little.
“Sierra,” he whispered.
“Just sleep,” I said as I got up. He reached out and took my hand.
“Kajima,” he said, “Don’t leave me.”
“Jae Joong, keumanhae,” I pleaded as I pushed his hand off with my other hand.
“Sierra,” he whispered again. I felt so frustrated at the way he was acting, a tear rolled down my cheek. “Mianhae,” he whispered when he saw the tear and he closed his eyes, turning away.
I turned around to leave the room, wiping the tear away as I did, and Benson was there, leaning on the door frame. I closed the door and we went out onto the balcony, just the two of us.
“You saw everything?” I asked. He nodded. “You’re gonna want me to tell you everything?” I continued.
“Not if you don’t want to,” he said.