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.
“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.”