I sighed as I pulled my jacket around me to shield myself from the cold. Benson took out his lighter and lit a cigarette. I started to tell him all about what happened on Cheju, minus the dirty details. It was more of a summary of what had happened.
“He’s been asking to talk for the last few days,” I sighed. “And I have no idea what he wants to talk about.”
Just then, my mobile rang. It was Yun Ho, calling from Japan.
“I’m gonna take this call first,” I said as I walked back into the apartment, “Yoboseyo?”
“It’s me,” Yun Ho said. Hearing his voice on the phone reminded me how much I missed him, how much I wanted him to come home.
“Oh…” I said.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing, just chatting with Benson.”
“He hasn’t left yet?” Yun Ho asked. Don’t tell me he was jealous too?
“No. His flight is in 2 days.”
“Oh… has Jae Joong been by to see you?”
“Yea, he’s here now.”
“Here? In your apartment?” he asked. I must sound like I was having an orgy or something like that. He’d never sounded more concerned.
“He kinda got drunk. He’s sleeping it off here,” I explained.
“Jae Joong? Drunk? That’s very unlike him,” Yun Ho said. “He must be really bugged about something.”
‘Tell me about it…’ I thought as I rolled my eyes. “Dunno. I’ll talk to him when he wakes up tomorrow.”
“Yea, you should,” he said in a concerned tone.
“Yah! Why do you sound more concerned about Jae Joong than you are about me?” I accused.
“Mian,” he said, laughing. “You’re fine, aren’t you? So I don’t need to worry about you.”
“Still, I’m your girlfriend,” I complained.
“And he’s my hyung. Don’t get upset, I can’t hug you now. You’re making me feel bad,” he said.
“Mian,” I said, a little ashamed for my outburst.
“Kwaench'ana… pogoshipo,” he said.
“Me too. I miss you so much,” I said.
“I’ll be back in a few months,” he said.
“I know, but I still miss you,”
“Heck, I might fly back to see you if I get a day off, so don’t miss me too much, araji?”
“Araso,” I said.
“I’ve got to go now, I have an early day tomorrow,” he said.
“Saranghae…” he said.
“Saranghae…” I replied.
I hung up and walked back out onto the balcony. Benson had started on a new cigarette.
“Took you long enough,” he smiled, “Your boyfriend?”
“So what are you gonna do about that Jae Joong?”
“I really don’t know. He’s driving me nuts and now that Yun Ho isn’t here, I’ve got nothing to hide behind, nothing to distract me.”
“What’s the difference? If he were here, you wouldn’t be able to tell him anything anyway.”
“But at least Jae Joong would keep his distance. Furthermore, since you came, he’d decided to check up on me more often.”
“What? He thinks I’m gonna steal you away?” Benson laughed.
“Yea, laugh at me will ya? You can’t deny you’ve got the face of a home wrecker,” I teased.
“Hey! Take that back!!” he said.
“It’s true,” I laughed. “Even my ex-boyfriends from back home didn’t like you.”
“Really? Man, I must be damn good looking,” he smiled cockily, running his hand across his bald head.
“Yes, yes, Casanova. Can we please focus here?” I said.
“Right, so what do you want me to do? Kill him while he’s sleeping?”
“Be serious,” I said, smacking his arm.
“There’s nothing you can do, babe,” he said. “Until your man comes home, you’ll have to put up with him and hope nothing happens if you wanna stay with your man.”
“I thought as much,” I agreed, sighing.
“You can’t tell the poor guy and you can’t kick this fella to the curb cos he’s your man’s best mate, so you’ll just have to live with it.”
“You mean lie in the grave I’ve dug for myself,” I said, smiling sadly.
“Something like that,” he said.
“Gimme that fag,” I said, reaching for his cigarette. I closed my eyes as I exhaled. The next 3 months are gonna be tough.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my alarm. I hit the snooze button and was about to go back to sleep when I remembered that Jae Joong was in my room. I sat up and looked at him. He was still sleeping. He looked so beautiful. His skin was so smooth and so pale, and he looked so peaceful. He’d kicked off the sheets and I could see his naked upper body. I’d read somewhere that he used to do weight training. Seemed like it really paid off; he had a beautiful body to go with his beautiful face. I remembered seeing his audition video on YouTube once. He looked so gawky and shy back then. When he sang, he was practically clutching the ends of his shirt with both hands. He was so nervous but no one could deny he had a powerful voice. It’s hard to imagine what years of training and a makeover could do. The gawky teenager was now an Adonis. I pulled the sheet back to cover his chest. He stirred as I did so. I quickly lay back down on my futon and closed my eyes. I could hear him stretch and yawn as he got up. There was a moment of silence, and then I heard him get off the bed, open the door and walk out, shutting the door quietly.
I opened my eyes and I stared at the ceiling. My mind was blank for now. How I wish it’ll always stay blank, then I wouldn’t have to think about my problems. I lay there until my alarm rang again; time to get up and face the music.
I opened the door and the guys were all at the table having breakfast, except Benson, who had no reason to wake up and therefore was still asleep.
“Nuna! We’re running out of milk!” Skye said, as he chomped on his cereal.
“You should’ve gotten an extra bottle the other day?” Shoei said, pushing Skye’s head downward as he walked past.
“Hey!” he protested. “How was I to know hyung was gonna have breakfast with us this morning?”
“It’s okay, I’ll get something to eat when we get to the studios,” I said.
“You can have mine,” Jae Joong said, pushing his bowl towards me.
“It’s okay,” I said as I walked off to get ready.
Jae Joong drove us to the studios and dropped us at the entrance.
“Komawo,” Skye and Shoei yelled as they ran into the building.
“Komawo,” I said, leaning down to look at Jae Joong through the passenger window.
“I’m sorry about last night. I shouldn’t have drunk so much,” he apologized.
“No harm done,” I said as I straightened up and started to walk in.
“Sierra,” he called out.
I turned around to look at him.
“I’ll call you later,” he said.
I nodded. He wound up the window and drove off.
We’re back in the studios to record our second album. The new album will include songs that Skye and Shoei have written. For now, I’m not involved in the creative process. I was only there to sing and be part of the band. The management felt that I had to make up for my lack of training before I was allowed to focus on other stuff.
The usual routine would be an entire morning of recording, and then we’d break for lunch. During lunch, we’d sit by the soundboards with the producers and sound engineer and listen as we ate, making adjustments and giving comments. Then after lunch, we’d rerecord whatever was not right and this may continue up till late at night. It was 9pm when my phone rang. I walked discreetly out of the studio and answered the call.
“Jae Joong here.”
He sighed. I could feel that he had something to tell me, but he was trying to find the words.
“Did you want to tell me something?” I said.
“I did, but it suddenly feels like it doesn’t matter anymore,” he said.
“I never meant to burden you. I wish we could just forget everything and start with a clean slate.”
“Jae Joong, we’ve had this conversation before. Let’s not talk about it anymore. I’m trying to forget it all,” I said impatiently.
“I know. Me too.”
“Then why are you bringing this up?” I asked in exasperation.
“How can we forget if you keep coming to see me like this? How am I supposed to feel when you come to me everyday and plead me to talk to you?”
“Mianhae,” he said. “I’ll try not to bug you so often. It’s just now that Yun Ho’s out of town…”
“What? So you’re trying to take care of me for him? You’ll just make it harder for yourself.”
“Don’t lie,” I said, gritting my teeth. “If it isn’t easy for me, it sure the hell isn’t going to be for you.”
“Fine… I just want to take care of you.”
“I have Skye and Shoei, they will take care of me.”
“Yes, I tend to forget.”
“Well... remember that now.” I said and there was a moment of silence.
“You’re still at the studios?” he asked.
“Erm… I’ll hang up now,” he said.
“Take care,” he said.
“You too,” I said, and he hung up. I breathed a sigh of relief and went back into the studio.
The next morning, I was at the airport with Benson. He was flying back to Malaysia today.
“Thanks for everything, babe,” he said.
“It was nothing. I expect the same hospitality if I ever come visit you.”
“My floor is yours,” he winked.
“You’re a bloody millionaire and all you offer me is your floor?” I said, shaking my head.
“Then where do you want it then? On the table?” he winked.
When I realized what he’d meant, I smacked him hard on the arm, “Yah!! Pyont’ae!” I shouted.
“Oww…” he said, rubbing his arm. “What’s pyont’ae?”
“That’s you, pervert,” I said, giving him another smack for good measure.
“Right, virgin Mary,” he grinned, still rubbing his arm. “I gotta go now,” he said.
“Go on,” I said, giving him a little push.
“You’re gonna be alright?” he asked.
“Yea, I’ll be fine,” I said.
“Gimme some sugar,” he said and he pulled me in for a hug.
“Thanks, Ah Beng,” I whispered.
“No problem, Ah Lian,” he said, rubbing my back affectionately.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light. We pulled apart and looked around. There were several people busy clicking their cameras and shouting my name.
“Dammit,” I said under my breath.
“Who are they? Paparazzi?” he asked, looking anxious.
“Must be,” I said as I tried to cover my face, “Go on, get in the gates, they can’t follow you in,” I said, pushing him to the entrance of the departure hall.
“What about you?” he asked, concerned.
“I’m used to this, I’ll handle it,” I reassured him, “Go!”
He walked quickly into the gates and I started to walk towards the entrance of the airport. The paparazzi started chasing me, this time, shouting questions.
“Sierra, Sierra! Who was that?”
“Is he an ex-boyfriend?”
“Was he living with you while in Korea?”
I walked as fast as I could to the taxi stand. Damn! I should’ve asked for a car today. I got into the taxi and asked the driver to drive off immediately. The paparazzi continued to pound on the windows, shout their questions and click their cameras as the taxi pulled out of the airport. They must’ve got a good shot of me and Benson hugging. I hope the story doesn’t get too distorted when it reaches the papers tomorrow.