Yun Ho kept his eyes on me throughout the commotion. The reporters clamored around him in hopes of a response. In my mind, I could hear a song in my head for this scene, Perhaps Love (Sarangingayo) by J & Howl from the Goong soundtrack as I looked at him.
“U-Know, are you and Sierra dating?”
“U-Know, how long have you been together?”
“Is this a publicity stunt, U-Know?”
“U-Know, how did you both meet?”
“How can the both of you be so thoughtless?” Shi Kyung hyung shouted.
Just in case anyone wonders, yes, I’m supposed to call him oppa, but since both the guys call him hyung, it’s hard not to follow.
“U-Know, aren’t you suppose to be at training? You think it’s funny to come over here to make a scene and cause a scandal?”
“We’re very sorry, hyung,” I apologized.
“I let you both go out and contact each other because I trusted you. Both of you are leaders of your bands. Did you not think of your bands first before you did something like this?”
“Hyung, it’s my fault. She asked me not to come, but I came anyway. I should’ve come to see her after the conference. I’m sorry for commotion I caused.”
“Sorry? Don’t think because you’re U-Know Yun Ho of TVXQ you can do anything you like and just apologise and get away with it!”
“Hyung…” I pleaded.
“You are in no position to speak. What will Mr. Lee say? I can’t look at you two anymore,” hyung exclaimed and stormed out of the room.
I turned to Yun Ho. I’ve never felt more frustrated in my life. Why did he come and why did he have to make such a public appearance?
“Mian,” he said, looking at me with his puppy dog eyes.
“Why did you come? I told you not to. And why did you have to announce to the world you were in Japan?”
“I thought it’ll be funny. Like you see in the dramas when the hero suddenly appears in the crowd and announces he’s dating the heroine.”
“Yun Ho, we’re not in a drama. This is the real world. You had so many celebrity girlfriends before, why did you choose me to do this prank?”
“Cos I never felt the need to show how much I cared for someone in this way, until today.”
“Oh Yun Ho, what am I to do with you? This is real, this career is our dream. You have just put both our dreams on the line. Not just ours, our band mates too.”
When I thought of that and how we would face Mr. Lee when we get back, tears started streaming down my face. Yun Ho walked towards me, knelt down on the floor and hugged me with his head on my lap.
“Don’t cry, Sierra. Uljima. I’ll never do such things again. We’ll get through this, I promise.”
There was nothing I could do then. I hugged him back. As I hugged him, I inhaled his scent. It was a scent that he always had. It didn’t matter what perfume he wore, I could always smell that scent which was distinctly him. That’s how I am always reminded of him. I remember when I told him about it. It was hilarious.
“Scent? What scent? Do I stink? I showered you know?” he said while sniffing his armpits.
“No,” I laughed, “it’s not some stinky smell. Everyone has a scent. It’s a hormone thing. When you’re very close to a person, you can smell it and you will find that each person has their own unique scent.”
“Hmm… So what’s yours, come here, I want to smell you,” said menacingly as if he were about to attack.
“No, go away,” I giggled as I tried to wriggle out of his grasp.
He hugged me tightly and sniffed at my neck.
“Hey, that tickles. Let me go!”
“No, I need to remember your scent.”
“What for? So you can compare to your other girlfriends?”
“No, so if one day you leave me, I will always remember how you smell like.”
“And what? You’re gonna design a perfume, bottle it and sell it?”
“Something like that, hehe!”
“You’re nuts,” I said, poking him in the ribs.
“Ouch!” he jumped away for a moment, then pulled me in for a hug again, “So are you.”
Sometimes I wonder, is it wise to date a guy so much younger than me. Guys… I believe that if they mature, then they do. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter how much older they are, they’d still be children. It’s so unlike Yun Ho to be childish and irresponsible. As I sat there and stroked his head, I wondered, do I really bring out the worst in him? Should we not be together? Maybe that would be the best thing.
“I think that would be best, nuna,” said Shoei.
We were back in Seoul after the scandal. We’ve yet to meet Mr. Lee, but we have an appointment with him tomorrow morning.
“I just don’t want to hurt him. Let’s just see what Mr. Lee says tomorrow.”
“Mr. Lee will break you guys apart and there will be punishment for what he did.”
“I don’t think Mr. Lee will do anything to him. He’s valuable.”
“Yes, it’s you I’m worried about, nuna. We’ve only just begun and now we have a scandal on our hands.”
“Oh… what can I do? Maybe I’m making Yun Ho do what he is doing. But I never meant for him to take it so far. I didn’t think he’d jeopardize our careers for this relationship.”
“I’m going to bed. Can’t be late for our appointment tomorrow. G’night”.
The next morning, Yun Ho, Shi Kyung hyung and I were waiting nervously in the office of the founder of SM Entertainment, Mr. Lee Soo Man. Even though, the CEO is Mr. Kim Young Min, he still takes a very keen interest in all on goings and affairs in the company. Our scandal was no exception.
Mr. Lee entered with his assistant and we all got up and bowed with a greeting.
We all sat obediently.
“So, Manager Ahn. What’s this scandal I read about in the papers? Is this your new publicity stunt?”
“No, sir. It was all just a misunderstanding. I’ll clarify it with the press and it will all be fine.”
“No, no, it’s already done. Clarifying won’t help. People love a scandal and there will be nothing you can do to stop it. So, Yun Ho, what do you have to say? Are you really dating this girl here?”
“Hmm… You do know it may hurt her album sales and endanger her because you have so many fans, don’t you?”
“Well, there is nothing to do but to announce that you are officially a couple. Let’s hope no repercussions come from this. From now on, both of you will be responsible for the outcome of your relationship.”
“Yes, sir,” Yun Ho and I mumbled.
“Just don’t disappoint me. You can go now,” he said as he waved us out.
The three of us scuttled out of the office as fast as we could. Once we reached outside, Yun Ho hugged me tightly in relief.
“Now we don’t have to hide anymore!”
And he kissed me.
“Yah!! You two still don’t know what you’ve done??!!” hyung shouted.
We jumped apart in shock and looked sheepishly at him.
“Back to your schedules! I don’t want anymore scandals from you both. You’d better appreciate the leniency Mr. Lee has given on this case. I never thought that would be his decision. So weird… Cheongmal isang,” said hyung as he scratched his head and walked off.
Yun Ho hugged me again.
“See you later,” he said and ran off down the hallway to his training room.
I was stretching in the training room when Skye jumped at me, almost knocking me over.
“Nuna!! So what happened? Are you fired? Is Yun Ho fired? Is hyung fired?”
“No! No one is fired. You’re such a sadist.”
“I was just worried. Of course I don’t want anyone of you to be fired.”
“It’s a wonder you weren’t fired,” said Shoei as he walked into his room.
“You think Mr. Lee would just fire someone he’d invested so much money on?”
“What has been invested on us so far is little compared to the amount they’ve invested on TVXQ. Mr. Lee, will make sure we do not jeopardize his no.1 band’s popularity. You’d better watch your back from now on. It can’t be good that he’s allowed you guys to stay together. There’s a plan somewhere in that.”
“Whatever, let’s practice,” I said as I turned on our music.
Later that night, I had dinner with Yun Ho. The guys went out for dinner with Hee Chul and Ki Bum. So I cooked dinner and asked Yun Ho to come over.
“Wow… this looks nice. But it all looks like Chinese food.”
“They are Chinese food. You’re dating a Chinese girl. Did you think you were going to get Indian food?”
“No, I thought you’d have learned to cook Korean food by now since you’re dating a Korean guy.”
“And who is gonna teach me? The only Korean guy I face 24 hours a day is Skye and he can only cook instant noodles. Can’t blame me for not learning, can you?”
“Okay, don’t get worked up. I’m sorry. I’ll come by and teach you in future, okay? Better still, I’ll bring Jae Joong. He cooks most of our meals. He should be a better teacher than me.”
“You do that, now finish all this food or you’re not allowed to go home.”
“Haha! You seemed to have used the wrong threat. I might decide to stay here all night.”
But as everyone knows, the lure of food can never be overcome by U-Know Yun Ho. He finished everything and very thoughtfully helped me with the dishes. After that, we cuddled on the sofa and watched TV.
“Sierra, do you ever regret that you’re dating me?”
“Why would you say that?”
“I mean, wouldn’t you want an older guy? I know I’m tall and all, but I’m sure you’ll be bugged by my age sometimes.”
“I was at first. You’re the same age as my younger sister, so it was weird. But love is blind I guess.”
“Huh? Blind? Ya… isn’t that a little extreme? The phrase “love is blind” should be used in the case of dating a really horrible person, or a really ugly person.”
“And you are…” I looked meaningfully at him whilst trying not to laugh.
“You’re gonna pay!!” he shouted and started tickling me.
I got up and ran to my room but before I could lock the door, he’d pushed it open. With the force he used, I fell on the bed and he immediately landed on top of me to keep me from running.
“Okay, I give up. I’m sorry. You’re very good looking and very nice and I have no regrets that I am dating you,” I laughed and put my hands up, surrendering.
Yun Ho grabbed my wrists and pinned them to the bed. That act itself was enough to make me feel hot and liquid, like lava, inside. I stared at him in anticipation, wondering what would be his next move. He had his thigh between mine and I had mine between his. If he wasn’t wearing jeans, I dare not imagine what I would have felt against my thigh. He kissed me on the lips, long and hard… when he pulled away, he started kissing my forehead, my cheeks and as he started kissing my neck, that’s when the monkey appeared.
“Ya… what are you two doing? This is not a love motel. Shoei, is that what they call it in Japan? Love motel?”
Yun Ho jumped up almost immediately when he heard Skye’s voice. I sat up and started straightening my bed sheets like as if it were the most important task of the day.
“What love motel?” mumbled Shoei as he walked into the room.
Shoei took one look at our faces and he knew what had happened.
“I'm going to bed,” Shoei declared and walked off.
Skye grinned at us like the monkey he is before following.
“Umm… I’d better go home,” Yun Ho mumbled.
“I’ll see you out,” I said as I got up and followed him to the door.
When he stepped out of the apartment, he turned around and stood there for awhile.
“Good night,” he said, looking at me with an almost sad expression
“Good night,” I said and leaned forward to kiss him lightly on the lips.
His eyes lit up and he smiled his cute Yun Ho smile and started walking to the elevator backwards. When the doors opened, he got in, waved and blew me a kiss.
The following months were filled with promotional events and live performances and it didn’t get easier thanks to the release of our album, Never Impossible. The management had decided that it’ll be another year, at least until our 2nd album before we conduct any promotional events in Southeast Asia. For now, we are limited to Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. I can’t say I really miss home. Sure I miss my friends and family, but I have so much going on here and I have Yun Ho to keep me company. I suppose having Yun Ho made all the difference since I felt like I was living the perfect dream.
As expected, Yun Ho’s fans lashed out at us because of my relationship with him. Despite not achieving the amount of album sales we’d expected initially, we still managed to exceed the management’s prerequisite target sales and that appeased the management and offset the problems we’d caused. I guess our performance up till the scandal was good enough to secure us some loyal fans. No fan has made a personal attack on me up till now. But I’ve received letters asking me to leave Yun Ho and a few death notes. When I read them, they often remind me of back when Yun Ho was poisoned by that anti-fan. We didn’t know each other back then, but when I think of it now, I really fear for him. Why must they take such extreme measures to hurt people? It’s not like as if Yun Ho had ever attacked them.
“Ya… I didn’t know my fans are that crazy,” Yun Ho said after reading one of the death threats.
“Now you know how hard it is to be your girlfriend,” I complained.
“Mianhae. I promise to keep you safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you,” he said as he pulled me in for a cuddle.
Most of the days, Yun Ho and I would meet up and go around on our own. Since the release of S3’s album, I couldn’t go around town like I used to. I now had to wear a cap like Yun Ho when we were out in public. It’s nice to spend time alone, but when it got boring, we’d call up all the guys and go out to a club together. Tonight we’re going to a noraebang. It’s been a long time since we’ve gone out for karaoke. You may think just because we’re singers, we’d hate to sing on our day off, but on our days off, that’s when we get to goof around with what we loved to do most.
I had on my favourite black Top Shop shirt which was long enough to be a dress since it covered my butt. I’ve been told since it was long and fitting, it made me look even slimmer. It had a long V in front so I had to wear a tube inside. I wore striped tights and knee-high boots since it was cold. Winter is just beginning, so the nights get extremely chilly. Thanks to the trend of layering, I don’t look like a freak wearing so many different articles of clothing on my body. As I walked down the streets with Yun Ho’s arm around my shoulders, I felt excited and warm; excited because it’s been a long time since we went out with a group, warm because I could feel his love through his touch. He always had his arm around me to make sure I wasn’t cold or simply just to keep me by his side.
As we walked into the room reserved for our group, the guys cheered and welcomed us.
“Sierra, come sit with me,” Han Kyung waved.
I smiled and sat down between him and Si Won. We started chatting in Mandarin since Han Kyung was deprived and Si Won was learning rapidly. Between the chatting, we sang a few songs, all the time goofing around, and some of them even sang off-key for the fun of it and danced around like escapees from an asylum. The highlight for me was when Yun Ho and Jae Joong sang Pi (Evasion) by Fly to the Sky, my favourite song. The guys were wolf-whistling and whooping throughout the whole song cos Yun Ho was looking at me as he sang the whole song. I can still remember when I told him it was my favourite song.
“Mwo? Yah! Your boyfriend is in TVXQ and your favourite song is by FTTS. Are you my girlfriend or not?”
“Everyone is entitled to their choice. I love TVXQ songs as well, but FTTS is also my favourite. Does that mean if I like Shinhwa as well, you’re going to break up with me?”
“Ani. But I’d always thought you’d say your favourite song was one of TVXQ’s.”
“Of course you are my favourite too. But to tell you the truth, when I listen to TVXQ’s songs, the times when my ears really perk up are when Jae Joong sings,” I said and started giggling when I saw his incredulous expression.
“Sierra-yah, you’re killing me,” he said, clutching his chest and slowly sinking to the floor.
“Yun Ho-yah, don’t die!” I replied, laughing uncontrollably and grabbing him to stop him from sliding off the sofa to the floor but he was too heavy for me and pulled me down on top of him. As the laughter subsided, I lay my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat.
“Sierra-yah,” he suddenly spoke in a very serious and quiet tone.
“Hmm?” I looked up at him.
“Saranghae,” he said as he pushed my hair back and kissed me on the forehead.
I was speechless and just lay my head back down on his chest. He loves me. That’s a bit hard to stomach at the moment. Why can’t I say anything in return? Is it because I still can’t get over the fact that I am dating such a famous guy?
After the karaoke session, Yun Ho drove me home. He was really silent throughout the journey home. I put my hand on his lap and gave him a little squeeze. He looked at me and smiled then looked in front again. I sighed and leaned over, putting my head on his shoulders. It’s nice that his car was small. If he drove a big car, I wouldn’t be able to do that. When we turned into the compound of my apartment blocks, he parked under a tree instead of in front of my block. I couldn’t contain myself any longer.
“Oppa, you’ve been really quiet tonight. Is there something wrong?”
He didn’t reply. He turned off the ignition and then exhaled loudly.
“You’re scaring me, please talk to me.”
“Let’s go for a walk,” he said as he unlocked the doors and got out.
We walked along the little landscape below my apartment until we came to the playground. Yun Ho sat on one of the swings and started moving back and forth slowly. I sat down on the swing next to him and looked at him the whole time. Finally, he spoke.
“Sierra, na saranghae? Do you love me?”
“I told you I love you and I got no response from you. Sometimes I wonder if this is a one-sided relationship.”
“Yun Ho, I just didn’t know how to say it. I was shocked.”
“Why would you be shocked? Can’t you see that I really do love you?”
“I’m sorry,” I said as I squatted in front of him, resting my arms on his lap.
“I don’t want an apology, I want to know how you feel.”
“I love you,” I almost shouted, “Saranghae,” I said as I buried my face in his lap.
Yun Ho lifted up my head with both hands and kissed me lightly on the lips.
“Saranghae. You’ve made me the happiest man alive today,” he said as he smiled.
He stood up and pulled me up for a hug.
“Don’t ever let go, araji?” he whispered in my ears
“Araso,” I whispered back.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I love him… sounds weird. But if I don’t love him, I wouldn’t feel so happy when I’m with him. Maybe I’m still not over the fact that I’m dating a guy younger than myself. Technically, he isn’t really 3 years younger. I’m born in December and he’s born in February. So it’s more like 2 years only. Hmm… which reminds me, my birthday is coming in a week. I wonder if anyone will remember.
It turned out, Shi Kyung hyung had the best birthday present for me.
“You guys are gonna be on X-Man,” announced hyung.
“What?” I screamed in excitement.
“Really? Chongmal?” screamed Skye.
“Yes. You’re to go to the studio for recording in 2 days. So prepare yourselves.”
Wow… I’ve only watched X-Man on YouTube back in Malaysia and on TV here in Korea. I’ve seen Yun Ho and the guys from TVXQ and Super Junior participate and always thought it looked so fun. I absolutely adored Kang Ho Dong and MC Yoo. They are so funny. I’m a bit sad that Park Kyung Lim was no longer in it. She looked like such a fun person and I’d love to meet her.
We spent the next 2 days preparing short routines for the show and doing a bit of research and rehearsal of the stuff we might say so we didn’t end up like fools on the show. Shoei was rehearsing almost in secret for X-Man. What was he up to this time?
“I wonder if Ha Dong Hoon aka Haha and Park Myung Soo will be in this episode,” I said to Skye during practice.
“You like them too? They’re so funny, I’d love to have an exchange with either one of them during Dangyunhaji.”
“I’m sure you will be able to match them word for word. No one talks like you, it’s a waste you’re not a comedian.”
“True, but I’m just too good looking to be a comedian,” Skye said while pretending to comb back his hair in a very cocky manner.
“Aissh…” I said and smacked him on the back of his head.
The night before the show, I couldn’t sleep really sleep. Hyung didn’t say who was going to be on the show. We’ll just have to find out tomorrow. Waaa… this is so exciting.