“Mwo?” Min Woo said.
“I said, stop flirting with her,” Jun Jin repeated as he came to stand in front of the both of us.
“Waegeurae? I’m just joking with her. Sierra knows I’m just playing, don’t you Sierra?” Min Woo smiled and I decided to get my revenge.
“Playing? Oppa! You hurt my feelings. You’ve broken my heart. Ap’a…” I pretended to sob.
“Sierra-yah… uljima,” Min Woo laughed as he patted my back. Jun Jin sighed and walked off.
“Ap’a…” I sobbed.
“Sierra, what’s wrong?” I heard Jae Joong say as he approached and I looked up.
“Hah! You actress!” Min Woo exclaimed, trying to look hurt.
“Come on… you knew I was acting all along,” I grinned. “And you love playing along don’t you? Haha!”
“Okay… I’m lost,” Jae Joong said, looking really confused.
“Your girl here is quite the actress,” Min Woo said to Jae Joong. “You should get her to act in a Banjun soon.”
“She is, isn’t she?” Jae Joong smiled and Min Woo smacked his own forehead. “What?” Jae Joong asked him
“Didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment,” Min Woo explained.
“Oh…” Jae Joong replied.
“Nevermind,” Min Woo said wearily as he sat down on the seat next to mine.
“Who said you could sit here?” I poked him.
“Leave me alone,” he sulked.
“Oppa, waegeurae,” I cajoled.
“You minx,” he mumbled and I laughed.
“Sierra,” Jae Joong fingers brushed my shoulder. “Do you wanna get something to eat?”
“Okay,” I said brightly as I stood up. “Bye oppa!” I waved my hands right in front of Min Woo’s face.
“Ka!!” he said in this grumpy tone, but then, his supposedly angry face broke into a smile and I smiled back. This was how a meeting with Min Woo would always be. He loved teasing me, but not in the kind of immature way Brian did. Min Woo was always flirting a little but you’d know he meant no harm.
“What do you want to eat?” Jae Joong asked as he put his arm around me and we walked up the steps of the auditorium.
“Erm… hold on, I forgot to tell hyung I was going out,” I said as I turned around and jogged towards Shi Kyung hyung. “Hyung!” I yelled. “I’m going out for a quick bite!”
“Be back in an hour,” he said.
“Araso,” I smiled and turned back to rejoin Jae Joong. “I feel like eating ch’uk,” I said.
“I was thinking of the time I got sick, and you made me ch’uk,” I smiled.
“Ooh… well, I guess I know this place we can go to. But it’ll definitely not be as nice as mine,” he grinned.
“Of course,” I smiled as I put my arms around his waist.
[Special segment through Shoei’s eyes]
I watched nuna and Jae Joong hyung walk out of the auditorium together. They looked happy, as always. Is there ever a time they looked pissed with each other in public?
Yesterday night, I almost walked in on them… getting it on. I was on my way back to my room from the kitchen, when I heard muffled sounds coming from her room. I’d thought it odd, since no one had rang the doorbell earlier. Turned out he’d let himself in.
“Nuna,” I’d called as I knocked on her door.
“Nae,” I heard her reply.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “I heard noises.”
“I’m fine,” she said as she opened the door and I saw Jae Joong hyung on her bed.
A year ago, that would’ve killed me. But now, it’s just a numbed feeling in my heart.
Am I over her? I don’t think I will ever be. If I were, I wouldn’t want to be near her anymore, I wouldn’t bother to be a part of S-Cube anymore. For as long as I still care, I am a part of this band.
Skye just told me this morning, on the way to the auditorium, that he was dating Hae Rin now. I don’t trust that girl. She always seemed to have a hidden agenda. Didn’t Skye once tell me that she liked Jae Joong hyung? I’m concerned about her intentions in dating Skye. If she ever hurt Skye or nuna, I will not let her off that easily. From the day nuna was assaulted, I’ve decided that I will let her live her life the way she wanted to. I would not interfere. I still felt guilty about it. Had I not run out when I did, she wouldn’t have chased after me. And if she hadn’t left the apartment to chase after me, the anti-fans would not have had the chance to hurt her.
“Shoei,” Shi Kyung hyung nudged me. “Let’s go out for lunch,” he said and we left the auditorium with Skye in tow.
It’s an hour before the limo came to pick us. I’m dressed in my signature tux, without a shirt inside. Skye shifted restlessly in his chair. He was probably nervous about tonight’s awards. We’ve come a long way since we met during our trainee days. I’m reminded of back when we spent all day dancing, singing and at the end of the day, we’d go up to the rooftop at the training studios to unwind.
“What kind of band do you think we’d end up in?” Skye asked me, one time.
“I dunno. But I’ve always wanted to be in a rock band.”
“Rock?” Skye said.
“I don’t think we will have that opportunity. Either we’re Pop, Hip Hop or R&B,” he said. “How big do you think our band will be?”
“I don’t care,” I said, “as long as I have a fair share of singing.”
“You know,” Skye said. “If our other members sang better, we may never get to sing as much.”
“It that’s the case, I will leave once my contract is up.”
Two years later, nuna walked into our lives. I can remember when we heard the news from Shi Kyung hyung.
“A girl from Malaysia?” Skye exclaimed.
“Yes,” hyung replied.
“And she’s 23?” I asked.
“She must be darned good then?” Skye said.
“I’ve seen her audition video. She needs work, but she has star quality.”
“Do you have a photo of her?” I asked hyung.
“Nope, and even if I did, I wouldn’t show it to you.”
“Wae?” Skye asked.
“It’s much more fun when you don’t know what to expect,” he smiled, and I agree. I don’t think even a photo would’ve prepared me for the first time I saw nuna.
We’re at the stylist’s, waiting for nuna to finish dressing up. They were taking especially long with her today. I wonder what they have planned for her? Our costumes were a powdery, silvery blue with black geometrical fabrics sewed on. Skye wore a huge black crystal encrusted cross and black crystal studs in his ears. I wore an array of tarnished chains around my neck and a dangly black crystal encrusted cross hung from my right ear. The crystal jewelries were all borrowed from Swarovski.
When nuna finally emerged, I could see why they’d taken so long. She wore a silk qipao, the traditional Chinese costume, in the same blue as ours but it had black lining on the edges instead of geometrical shapes plastered on it. It had slits on both sides and it revealed most of her thigh. The male fans were in for a nosebleed session. They had her wear a long string of black pearls and crystals. Her hair was spiked and scraped back in cornrows on one side of her head and adorned with black crystal clips. They’d even added extensions to her hair so that her hair reached her shoulders. In her ears were simple black crystal studs like Skye’s. The qipao ended a few inches above her knees and had a halter neck, which left her back bare.
“Aren’t you gonna be cold?” I asked.
“There’s a coat,” the stylist said and produced a matching embroidered trench coat which ended at her ankles and was slit at the back all the way up to her butt.
“Woah! Nuna!” Skye exclaimed as nuna put on the coat. “You look like a character from the Matrix,” Skye laughed.
“It’ll be an oriental version of the Matrix,” I smiled.
“You guys… I feel so out of place in this outfit. Why didn’t they put me in a modern dress?” nuna complained as she slipped on the black, knee-high leather boots the stylist set down in front of her. “I feel like an oriental dominatrix.”
“Every guy’s dream,” I smiled and she winced.
In the limo, we fidgeted nervously as we sipped the beverages they’d provided us with. We hadn’t won anything at the last MKMF. We’d been nominated for Group Newface, but lost out to a new all-guy group from DSP. The management had been pretty upset, and blamed it on nuna’s romance with Yun Ho. They thought that it was the sole contributor to the drop in album sales. This year was different. We were nominated for Best Group, R&B, Digital Popularity and Best Lyrics. We heard a rumor that we were actually just a few votes shy of getting the Daesang nomination.
As our limo pulled up at the red carpet, we held hands and cheered, “S-Cube, S-Cube, pump it up!” and then, I turned to open the door. The crowd screamed as I got out and I gave a little wave before turning around to extend my hand to nuna. She placed her hand in mine and I helped her out. The crowd screamed again and we both stepped aside so that Skye could get out. Again, he was given the same greeting nuna and I had received. He waved his good hand. His jacket had to be draped over his shoulder because of his cast, but he looked kinda cool still. The cheers continued as we walked towards the middle of the path on the red carpet, where 2 emcees, Gong Yoo and Jo Jung Rin stood on the little stage, ready to interview us. On the way, we paused a few times and posed for pictures together. Nuna practically radiated and everyone seemed really interested in her outfit. Once again, the stylists had done right.
[Back to the story through Sierra’s eyes]
“Everyone… its S-Cube!” Gong Yoo exclaimed and the crowd screamed.
“Waa…” Jung Rin exclaimed. “You guys look great tonight!” and she looked up and down at Skye and Shoei.
“Kamsahamnida,” Skye and Shoei smiled as they accepted the microphones from the assistants.
“Annyeonghaseyo! S-Cube-imnida!” we greeted to more screams.
“Sierra,” Gong Yoo turned to me, “you look stunning!”
“Kamsahamnida,” I bowed shyly.
“Yea, I want a dress like that too,” Jung Rin pouted. “Can we have a look at what’s underneath the coat?” she asked.
“Well, it’s for the performance later…” I hesistated.
“Just a peek,” Jung Rin urged me.
“Okay,” I said as I peeled the coat off my shoulders to reveal my bare back and immediately flipped the coat back on.
“Waaa!!!” both of the emcees yelled and everyone laughed.
“Does anyone need a tissue?” Jung Rin asked the crowd. “I think many out there are having a nosebleed.”
“Let’s get to some serious questions,” Gong Yoo said. “How do you guys feel about the nominations you’ve received?”
“We’re still in shock,” I replied. “There are so many capable and talented gasoo out there and we’re just grateful to have been included with those on top.”
“Skye and Shoei, I heard that you both had written the song, Ghosts, which is up for Best Lyrics tonight. How would you feel if you took home the award tonight?”
“Ecstatic!” Shoei said. “There are great songs out there, so many talented song writers, and we’re honored to just be nominated.”
“Aigoo,” Jung Rin exclaimed. “You guys are just so modest.”
Just then, the music in the background, which had been one of S-Cube’s song changed into a pop-rock song by our rival from DSP, Helix. Helix was the all-boy group who won Group Newface, the year we were nominated as well. With the exception of the R&B category, they were going to be our rivals for most of the awards we were nominated for this year. They consisted of 3 guys, Darren, Min Jong and Nakata. They would’ve been DSP’s equivalent of S-Cube if not for there distinct differences: they sang a mixture of pop, rock and other genres, they were an all-boy group, and they had only one foreigner, Nakata. Darren was born and bred in Illinois, USA and Min Jong spent part of his adolescence studying in England.
Up till now, because we were sort of rivals, having debut at the same time, we’d not met Helix personally. Most of the time, we’d just greet each other when we bumped into each other during events or recordings at the broadcasting stations. They strutted over in their black leather biker inspired outfits, a little reminiscent of TVXQ’s Tri-Angle outfits, minus the elaborate hair. The crowd screamed as loud as they had for us earlier as Helix waved. Skye, Shoei and I looked at each other, contemplating is we should walk off the stage, into the auditorium.
“Wah! Two of the freshest bands in South Korea, right here on stage with us,” Jun Rin said, and we took it as an indication that we were expected to stick around and chat some more.
“Annyeonghaseyo, Helix-imnida!” Helix greeted.
“You guys look absolutely dangerous tonight,” Gong Yoo remarked.
“Kamsahamnida,” they replied.
“We knew that S-Cube was going for suave and sophisticated, so we decide to go the other way,” Darren joked. “By the way, nuna.” he added as he looked at me. “You look hot tonight,” he winked and we could hear squealing from some of the girls in the crowd.
“Thanks,” I smiled. “You look pretty hot yourself.”
“Er… hyung,” Min Jong tapped Darren on the shoulder. “You don’t wanna get beaten up by TVXQ fans, do you?”
“Huh?” Darren said, looking confused.
“You’re hitting on Jae Joong’s girl,” Min Jong said.
“Oh… Mianhae… I forgot,” Darren smiled as he waved to the crowd and everyone laughed.
“So I’m sure the both bands know the categories where you’re up against each other tonight?” Gong Yoo asked.
“Yea, and we wish that there was such a thing as sharing the award,” Nakata said.
“You’re so sweet, Nakata,” Jung Rin exclaimed.
We stood there and chatted until another band arrived in their limo. It was SG Wannabe and we decided that we should be going in.
“All the best,” Darren said as both our bands parted to sit at our assigned seats.
“Same to you,” Skye replied on our behalf.
We met up with Ri In who was already sitting at the artiste area with Super Junior.
“Omo!” Ri In exclaimed when she saw up. “Skye! What happened to your arm?”
“I fell and you weren’t there to catch me,” Skye winked at her.
“Paramdung-i!” Ri In laughed and pinched Skye lightly on the arm.
TVXQ arrived 10 minutes later and they sat behind us. Also in the row behind us were Shinhwa, FTTS and Buzz.
About half an hour later, with the audiences and artistes all seated and settled down, the lights in the auditorium were dimmed until it was totally dark and the center of the stage was illuminated as the music swelled. I felt shivers run down my spine and Jae Joong’s hands came to rub my neck affectionately, trying to calm me down. I was so nervous, tonight would be one of the defining nights in our entire career thus far.