As the light got nearer, someone started singing, “Saengil ch’uk’ahamnida, saengil ch’uk’ahamnida,” I recognized Jae Joong’s voice, “saranghaneun uri Sierra, saengil ch’uk’ahamnida,” he ended as the cake came right in front of me. “Saengil ch’uk’aeyo,” he smiled in the warm orange light of the candles.
I looked up at him and tears started to prickle my eyes. He’d remembered my birthday.
“Everyone, let’s sing one more time,” Hee Chul shouted and everyone started singing. Jae Joong pulled me up to my feet and stood me in front of the cake while everyone sang.
“English version!” Chang Min said when they finished singing the Korean version, and everyone started singing. Jun Su and Yoo Chun were making funny faces and getting everyone else to copy their weird gestures while they sang. I laughed through my tears at their antics. What would I do without friends like them?
When everyone finished singing the English version, Jae Joong, Han Kyung and Si Won started to sing the Mandarin version. I had to laugh at it because Jae Joong’s Mandarin was so rusty. Only Han Kyung and Si Won managed to sing it correctly. When they were done, everyone cheered.
“Blow out the candles, quick!” Chang Min said.
“Yea, they’re melting all over the cake,” Skye pointed out.
I took a breath and blew out all the candles; Jae Joong helped. As soon as the candles were out, the lights and music came back on.
“Popo!” Ryeo Wook shouted.
“Yea!” Dong Hae chipped in. “Popo… popo…” he chanted and got everyone to follow.
Jae Joong pulled me close and kissed me lightly on the neck. The guys jeered.
“Ya… we wanna see more,” Yoo Chun said.
“Sorry guys,” Jae Joong said. “Sierra and I are off-duty. Go get your free show elsewhere.” And the guys jeered again.
We sat down on the couch and I gave Jae Joong a hug.
“Komawo,” I smiled.
“Its part of my duty as a boyfriend,” he said as he lightly caressed my cheek.
“I know that you’ve been so busy since we got back from NYC. So I didn’t really expect such a big celebration.”
“This is just one moment out of our lifetime. I have to make it memorable,” he smiled.
“Saengil ch’uk’ahae,” he said and he produced a small box from his pockets.
“What’s this?” I asked as he pushed it into my hands.
“Seonmul,” he said. “What else could it be when it’s your birthday?”
I opened it to find a pair of earrings. They were designed exactly like the Cassiopeia necklace I wore, except that the rings each dangled from 3 chains which were attached to a hook.
“It’s beautiful,” I said and I started to take off my earrings so that I could put them on.
“Waa… nice!” Jun Su smiled as he walked towards us with 2 slices of cake.
“Komawo,” I said as he passed me the cakes.
“Hyung, they must be expensive,” Jun Su smiled, then his eyes widened. “Oh! Ttokkaneyo!” he added as he pointed to the pendant. “It’s a set?”
“Yea,” Jae Joong replied.
“Ya… hyung. I didn’t know you were such a romantic,” Jun Su laughed.
“Shikkeureoptta,” Jae Joong said playfully.
“Don’t be shy,” Jun Su laughed. “Sierra, this is from the rest of us from TVXQ,” he smiled as he handed me a package. “Open it!”
I opened it in inside was a bottle of perfume, Paco Rabanne’s Ultraviolet. I’ve wanted to buy it for months.
“Komawo,” I said and I hugged Jun Su.
“It’s okay,” he laughed. “And you’d better let me got before hyung kills me.”
“Kwaench’ana,” I laughed as I let him go.
“Doesn’t look alright to hyung,” he said and nodded in Jae Joong’s direction.
“I’m not so petty,” Jae Joong said and stuck him tongue out at Jun Su. Jun Su did the same to Jae Joong.
“You guys are like children,” I said. “Act your age!”
“Nae,” the two of them bowed in unison and we laughed.
“Hey,” I exclaimed as I suddenly realized something.
“What?” Jae Joong asked.
“Where’s Hae Rin?”
“Didn’t you know?” Jun Su said. “She’s been sent to America to complete the rest of her training and to record.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Dunno… feels like some hush-hush project that no one is to know about,” Jun Su said.
“Hmm… So she’ll be gone for the rest of the year?” Jae Joong asked.
“Yep,” Jun Su replied and stuffed a forkful of cake into his mouth.
I felt relieved all of a sudden. Now I can look forward to at least 6 months of peace. I’d been so worried about Hae Rin’s intentions for the past months.
“Nuna,” Shoei called out. “Come here!”
“Waegurae?” I said as I got up and walked towards them. As soon as I stopped in front of Shoei, someone came up from behind and dumped a bucket of water on me. I squealed in shock and turned around to look at the attacker. It was Skye and Kang In. “Skye!!” I yelled.
“Hahaha…” Skye and Kang In laughed as they pointed at me.
“Skye, its winter now and she’s gonna fall sick from the cold,” Jae Joong said as he came up to us.
“I brought extra clothes for her,” Skye quickly explained and Shoei tossed him a duffel bag.
“See!” he said as he handed it to me. I peered in and sure enough, there was a change of clothes and even underwear. Underwear!!!
“Skye!! You went through my drawers?” I asked.
“Yes, I did. Don’t worry. Nothing in there caught my interest,” he laughed.
“You monkey,” I said and smacked him on the arm.
“Go get changed quickly,” Jae Joong said as he pushed me away.
“Shoei… how could you team up with him?” I scolded as I walked away.
“Mian…” Shoei laughed.
I changed out of my wet clothes and stood under the dryer for awhile to dry my hair. Then, I stuffed the wet clothes into the duffel bag and walked out of the toilet. As I opened the door, I saw Yun Ho standing there, looking at me expectantly.
“Saengil ch’uk’ahe,” he said and he stepped forward and hugged me. I stood there in his arms, not moving. I could feel his warmth emanating through his shirt, against me. It felt familiar, and somehow, it felt comfortable.
“Yun Ho-yah,” I said; my voice almost a whisper.
“10 seconds,” he said. “Just give me 10 seconds,” he whispered into my hair.
It felt like we’d stood there for more than 10 seconds when he finally pulled away. I was confused and shocked, and it must’ve really showed on my face.
“Don’t look like that,” he said as he brought his hand up to lightly touch my eyebrows. “You’ll get wrinkles.”
“Yun Ho-yah,” I started.
“I’m gonna go,” he cut me off and started walking away. What the hell was he up to? What made him think that he could just do this to me and walk off?
“Jung Yun Ho,” I said in a stern voice.
“Wae?” he said as he turned around and I slapped him. He looked a little shocked as he brought his hand to touch his cheek.
“Don’t ever do that again,” I said as angry tears streamed down my cheeks, and I stormed off.
I hastily wiped my tears as I approached the table. Jae Joong looked at me questioningly as I sat down beside him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked me.
“Huh?” I pretended not to understand.
“Why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying. Something got into my eye,” I lied. It was an overused lie, but I used it anyway and he just shrugged and turned to talk to Ee Teuk.
“Hey, where’s Chang Min?” Yoo Chun asked as he walked up to us.
“Over there,” Ee Teuk pointed and we all leaned forward. Chang Min was teaching Kristi how to dance and they looked so cute together.
Jae Joong and I joined them on the dance floor, just as ‘I Wanna Hold You’, a song TVXQ had sung with Super Junior, was playing. I wrapped my arms around Jae Joong’s neck and he sang the song softly as we swayed to the music. I rested my head against his chest and just let myself relax. Let myself forget whatever happened earlier.
It was almost 3am when we finally left the club. Thank god it was a Saturday tomorrow and the only Saturday that we were given a break for the rest of the month. Starting from next week, there will be many awards and events to attend. On Sunday, we have rehearsals for the MKMF, and on Monday was the event itself. I leaned my head on Jae Joong’s shoulder and kept my eyes closed all the way home.
“Tired?” he asked me as he turned to plant a quick kiss on my head.
“Did you have fun tonight?”
“Do you have anything other than ‘Mmm’ to say?”
“Mm mm,” I smiled and he laughed.
“I’m going to spend the night at your place, okay?”
“Why not?” he asked and I didn’t answer.
I’d fallen asleep on the way home and when we finally arrived at my apartment, Jae Joong nudged me awake.
“Sierra, wake up,” he said and I ignored him. I was so sleepy, I couldn’t move. My brain was awake, I could hear him, but I could barely open my eyes or move my body. I heard Jae Joong open the car door on my side and he leaned in so that he could put his arms around me to pull me out of the car. I rubbed my eyes as he helped me up to my feet.
“Hmm…” I whined. “I was sleeping so soundly.”
“Then shall I leave you here?” he asked.
“Let’s go,” he said as he put his arm around me and we walked into my apartment block with me leaning heavily on him. The security guard gave us odd looks; he must have thought that I was drunk or something.
We were greeted by darkness as we entered the apartment. The timer for the lights must’ve gone haywire again. We’d set it to turn on the lights at 10pm, since that’s the earliest we’ve ever arrived home. As I walked into my room, I was greeted by another surprise. On my table was a white Sony VAIO laptop, tied up with a black satin ribbon.
“Jae Joong,” I tugged his shirt. “Is that mine?”
“Yes it is,” he chuckled when he saw my expression of shock and joy.
“Omigod,” I squealed as I ran to my desk and sat down. I pulled off the ribbon and flipped open the laptop. It was a VAIO FE; white on the cover and keyboard, black on the bottom and the frame around the screen.
“You like it?” Jae Joong said as I ran my fingers across the white keyboard.
“Like it? I love it!!” I said as I turned to hug his waist. “Komawo,” I said.
“Don’t thank me alone, some of the guys and Shi Kyung hyung paid for it. I chipped in a little.”
“But it must’ve been you who gave them the idea,” I smiled.
“Keurae,” he said as he mussed my hair.
I glued myself to the laptop as soon as I’d showered. I had a full 15 minute of ogling at it until Jae Joong came into the room. He was shirtless, wearing only a pair of track pants and he’d slung his towel around his neck. His wet hair had been slicked back and I noticed droplets of water running down his back as he turned around to rustle through my cupboard. He’d begun to leave some clothes, mainly tracksuits and t-shirts, for when he spent the night. We shared a toothbrush and he used my toiletries.
“Put a shirt on,” I said as I wiped my hand across his back. “You might catch a cold.”
“Turn that thing off,” he said as he pulled out a shirt from my cupboard.
“Shiro…” I said as I continued to fiddle with my new toy. Jae Joong tossed the shirt onto the bed and turned towards me. He closed the lid of the laptop and hauled me off the chair.
“Go to bed,” he said as he steered me towards the bed.
“Andoe!!!” I yelled as I tried to make a run for it, but he caught me in time and pushed me onto the bed.
“Yah… do you want Skye and Shoei to think I’m some kinda perverted monster?” he hissed at me as he covered my mouth with his hand. Skye and Shoei had come home awhile ago and I could hear them pottering around outside the room.
“But you are,” I whispered when he took his hand away. He glared at me and walked to the laptop to shut it down for me. He turned back to me and jumped onto the bed, beside me, when he was done.
“Come here,” he said as he pulled me over so that my head lay on his chest. I stayed there in that position as he stroked my hair, and soon, I’d fallen asleep as I listened to his heartbeat.
The next morning, I woke up and found Jae Joong sleeping on the futon by my bed. I rolled off the bed, tucked myself under his arm and went back to sleep.
I was awoken sometime later by my mobile phone. It didn’t sound like the alarm. It was the ring tone I’d set for the TVXQ boys when they called, but of course, Jae Joong had his own ring tone. I looked at the clock and it read 10:25am. Who’d call at this hour? I thought most of them would be too tired from yesterday’s partying to wake up at this hour. I grabbed my phone from the side table and looked at the caller ID. It was Jun Su.