Shortly after Yun Ho and I returned to the table, Jae Joong and I decided to leave. We waved our goodbyes and walked out of the club. Once outside, Jae Joong put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close. I leaned my head on his shoulder as we walked to the car.
“You look different,” Jae Joong suddenly spoke up as we walked.
“Hmm?” I said as I looked up at him. “How?”
“When we first arrived tonight, you were so tensed. Whatever you and Yun Ho talked about must have really cleared things up for the both of you.”
“If you hadn’t stepped in when you did, he might still be thinking that I was the one who broke us up,” I said as I tightened my arms around his waist.
We got into the car and started to drive home. Skye and Shoei had decided to stay on with the guys. Which reminds me, as we were leaving the club, Hae Rin grabbed my arm and pulled me aside.
“Onni,” she said excitedly. “So are you back with Yun Ho oppa? Have you guys made up?”
“We’ve made up,” I said, puzzled at her sudden interest in my affairs. Before this, she’d never really spoken to me apart from greeting me or cutting in whenever I was having a conversation with the guys which interest her.
“Oh! Good!” she said, clapping her hands like she’d just won a stuffed toy at the amusement park.
“But we’re no longer a couple,” I continued. All at once, her face fell. I could see that she was trying to hide her disappointment. It was weird. Why should she be disappointed?
“Sierra,” I heard Jae Joong call as he was ready to leave.
“I gotta go,” I said before she could say another word, “Annyong,” and I walked out with Jae Joong. I turned back as I was walking out and she was still looking at me. It felt kinda creepy.
“Don’t you think Hae Rin is a little weird?” I asked Jae Joong.
“Hae Rin? Don’t know much about her except that she’s always out with us these days. Who was the one who brought her in the first place?”
“I think she’s from the same hometown as Si Won. So Si Won is always acting like a big brother towards her.”
“I think that she shouldn’t join us so often. She’s still a trainee and she’s on a curfew,” said Jae Joong as he maneuvered a turn with his left hand. His right elbow was braced against the window and his hand was at his lips, his teeth biting lightly on his index finger. I always thought he looked so cool driving like that. But I liked it best when he held my hand as he drove.
I grabbed his left hand off the steering wheel and his right hand automatically replaced it. He turned and smiled at me for a moment. I smiled back and brought his hand to my lips and planted a kiss on his wrist. “She’s just a kid,” I said. “Let her have some fun. I know for a fact that you guys sneaked out a lot during your training days.”
“That is so sexist!!” I said and stuck my tongue out at him and he laughed. “That’s like saying we girls can’t have fun.”
“Hey… why am I sexist all of the sudden? You’re the one who started the whole conversation by saying Hae Rin was weird.”
“I know. I do think she’s weird, but that doesn’t mean I agree that girls should never come out and have fun. I can’t believe you’re so sexist. I mean, why can’t girls sneak out and go to clubs and stuff and guys can?”
“Listen to yourself,” Jae Joong laughed hysterically. “You don’t even make sense to me anymore.”
“Shuddup and drive,” I said as I tried to pretend that I was offended. But his laughter was so infectious that I started laughing with him within the next few seconds.
Jae Joong grabbed my hand and held it on his lap. At that very moment, I was happier and more peaceful than I’d ever been in the past few months. I’ve finally sorted things out with Yun Ho, and Jae Joong and I were off on a beautiful start.
Summer had arrived and SM has decided to organize the Summer SMTown Vacation Tour. We were all going on tour around South Korea for a week and a half, stopping to perform in 6 cities back to back; starting from Inch’on, to Taejon, Kwangju, Pusan, Taegu and ending with the finale concert in Seoul. In addition to the established bands like TVXQ and ourselves, trainees like Hae Rin got to come along as backup dancers. Skye, Shoei and I shared a bus with TVXQ and Super Junior. Because there were 13 members in Super Junior, there wasn’t room for another band to join us in the bus. The guys quickly claimed the back of the bus and were having dance battles as we drove from city to city. Those who didn’t participate would sit somewhere in the middle with their MP3 players plugged in their ears or their eyes permanently glued to whatever handheld videogame console they had.
Jae Joong and I sat in the 2nd seat from the front. We spent the whole journey talking and taking naps in between. One occasion I was awoken by whispering voices.
“Look at them…” I heard someone said.
“Shuddup,” another hissed. “You’re gonna wake them.”
“Check out that drool,” the first voice said again.
The moment I heard the word drool, my eyes opened. Skye and Dong Hae were in the seat in front of me and Dong Hae had a digital camera in his hands.
“Quick!” Skye said and before I could react, Dong Hae clicked the camera. A flash of light blinded me for a moment and the guys took my temporary shock as an opportunity to escape to the back of the bus. They jumped off the seat in front and ran to the back, screaming and laughing like girls.
“What happened?” said a sleepy Jae Joong from beside me, yawning as he stretched himself.
“The guys just took a photo of us drooling on each other?” I said.
“Drool?” he said as he touched the sides of his mouth. “I’m clean,” he said and looked up at me. Then he started laughing. I quickly brought my hand to my mouth. Sure enough, there was a little patch of saliva on the left. Jae Joong continued laughing and rolled to the floor as I thumped him out of embarrassment. The guys in the back were also laughing as Skye and Dong Hae related the whole story to them.
“It’s just a little saliva. I didn’t drool,” I protested as he continued to laugh.
He touched his shoulder and there was a little wet patch the size of a coin on his shirt, “You call this a little?” he said.
“It’s not like it was a whole bowl or something,” I pouted.
Jae Joong grabbed me and squashed me under his arms. “Araso…” he laughed.
I wriggled trying to get out of his grasp for a full minute. Then I gave up and lay down with my head on his lap, his arm still around my neck. “Are you gonna let me go?” I asked as I looked up at him. He smiled and relaxed his grip. I lay in that position for the rest of the drive to the next city, Kwangju. Kwangju was where Yun Ho, Jae Joong and Skye were from. Naturally, they got a little too excited as we pulled into the Kwangju World Cup Stadium where our performance will be held.
“Home!!!” Skye yelled as he jumped off the bus and kissed the grass on the field. Jae Joong and Yun Ho jumped after him and piled on top of him, squashing him face flat on the grass.
It was about 9am in the morning. We filed into the dressing rooms within the building of the stadium and set down our stuff. When on tour, everyone shared dressing rooms. No one was given a private dressing room, not even TVXQ. The stage was already set up when we’d arrived. After toilet breaks and some refreshments, we all went for a round of sound check and a short rehearsal. While waiting for our turns, Jae Joong and I sat in the shade as I fanned us with a piece of cardboard I’d found lying on the floor. He was sweating profusely in the heat, causing his hair to plaster all over his face under his cap. But despite all that, he still looked cute to me; especially since they’d just dyed his hair to a light brown. The bleached hair he had the last time was cool, but he scared little children when he didn’t smile.
“When are they ever gonna change your hair?” I asked him once when we were watching some of his old videos.
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
“It’s so… bleached.”
“I thought you liked it,” he pouted. People who don’t know him well may never get to see this side of him; so childlike and yet oozing with testosterone. To think that people fall for him just by seeing a side of him. Those who see him as a whole would love him to death, just as I do.
“I do… but it’s starting to get boring,” I smiled. This would really get to him.
“Mwo?” he said. “I can’t believe you’d be so fickle. You get bored of me just like that? Just last week you told me I looked cool and now you say you’re getting bored. How long are we gonna last together if you have that kinda mindset?”
I stuck my tongue out at him. He sure nagged a lot when he’s on the roll and I wasn’t about to justify his nagging with an answer. He pulled me towards him and started French kissing me. He usually didn’t kiss me so aggressively, so when we pulled away, I glared at him.
“Waegurae?” he said in a tone which implied that he’d done nothing wrong. I smacked him on his arm. “Aaahhh…” he groaned as he clutched the spot I’d hit.
“Next time, warn me when you’re gonna do that,” I said in a serious tone as I leaned toward him and then my expression immediately switched to smile mischievously, “so that I can respond in kind.”
“Mich’oso…” he laughed as he pushed me away.
“Yah!!” I shouted. “How can you push me away?”
“Aa… Mian…” he smiled sweetly and kissed me on the cheek. It was the kind of slobbery and loud, smacking kind of kiss.
“Eww…” I said, as he laughed.
I pulled off the towel which was hanging on my neck and passed it to him.
“Wipe it for me?” he said sweetly as he smiled widely.
“Don’t do that,” I said, as I dabbed the sweat from his face.
“Do what?” he asked.
“Act like a mentally challenged child,” I laughed.
“Hmmph!” He snorted at me and turned away.
“Come on, baby,” I teased. “You know I love you best when you act like my hero.” I leaned my face close and kissed him lightly on the lips. He moved in closer, weaving his hands through my hair and the kiss continued for a little longer than we’d intended.
“Ahem…” Someone cleared his throat as he stood in front of us. It was Yoo Chun. “Can you guys wait till tonight?” he said.
“Don’t think I can,” Jae Joong joked as he pulled me close to him so that our bodies were touching.
“Ack!!” I complained. “You’re so wet!”
Yoo Chun laughed. “You’re so wet!!” he repeated in a falsetto voice as he walked away.
I looked around. Those who weren’t rehearsing were sitting under the shade; hot and bored. Skye, Chang Min and Kang In were crouched in a corner playing cards. Shoei and Yun Ho were showing each other their routines
It was finally S-Cube’s turn. Instead of doing a new song written for the compilation album which had prompted the tour, we were doing a cover of a song by British boy band, A1, called ‘Summertime of Our Lives’. It was an upbeat dance song with a really cute dance routine. During rehearsal we’d usually lip synch to the song as we danced as the rehearsal was meant for us to get used to moving around on the stage since the stage wasn’t the same size for every location.
The music started and we slowly moved into our formations with Skye, myself and Shoei lined up in from left to right. We were halfway through our routine when we heard a loud squeal. I turned to look and saw Hae Rin in Skye’s arms. She’d slipped and fallen and Skye caught her just before she crashed onto the equipment piled at the side of the stage.
“Omo…” she said as Skye helped her up.
“Kwaench’ana?” One of the managers asked her.
“Ne…” she answered, still a little shocked. She turned to Skye, “Komawo, oppa,” she said and bowed before she went back to her position.
“The floor is a little wet,” the manager said. “Get someone to mop it up before someone else falls and gets hurt,” he instructed a stage crew as he started walking offstage. “Places everyone! Let’s start again!”
Shoei and I were back in position, but Skye was still standing there in front of the puddle.
“Skye!!” I shouted and he didn’t turn around.
“Yaaah! Skye!!” Shoei shouted in his best imitation of Park Myung Soo. The whole stage, and those who were watching below, laughed as Skye turned around, looking dazed, and started walking over.
“Earth to Skye…” I said as he joined us. “Did you Hae Rin knock the wind out of you?” I laughed.
“Was she that heavy?” Shoei asked as he too continued laughing.
“Yah!! Oppa!!” Hae Rin yelled when she heard Shoei’s remark.
The music started again and this time our routine went on without a glitch. At about 3pm, we were all given a short break before we had to go back for hair and make up. Jae Joong and I took a stroll around the grounds of the stadium.
“Are you nervous?” Jae Joong asked as he took my hand.
“I’m always nervous,” I replied, smiling. It was true that I’d never totally gotten over my stage fright. The only reason I am less stage fright these days compared to the days before I joined SM was that I was performing in a group. But I’m aiming to get rid of that fright by the end of the year. That was the target I’d set for myself.
“You’ll be fine,” he smiled and gave me a quick kiss on the lips.
We continued to walk and chat until we came upon Skye sitting alone on the steps. It was odd for Skye to be alone. Usually he’d be with the guys, goofing around.
“Skye,” I called out to him. He didn’t look up at me. I walked over and shook him lightly by the shoulder. Only then, did he look up at me. “Skye, what’s wrong with your ears? Didn’t you hear me call you?” I scolded.
“Did you?” he said as he turned away to continue staring into space.
“Ya… what’s wrong with you, Skye?” Jae Joong said. “You look like you’ve been bewitched.”
“Bewitched…” Skye mumbled to himself. “So that’s what happened…”
Jae Joong and I looked at each other. This was getting a little too weird.