Monday, 26 February 2007

Chapter 63: Love Forever

It was freezing when I woke up the next morning. I snuggled closer to Jae Joong and pulled the blankets tighter around my shoulders. Thank god I had the sense to put on some socks before I went to bed. The sun light was pouring gently into the room, but since it was winter time and the weather outside didn’t look particularly sunny, it didn’t warm the room. I flipped the blankets open and tiptoed to the windows to draw the curtains shut. When I’d drawn all the curtains, I adjusted the thermostat on the heater, increasing the temperature, before I crawled back into bed.

“What time is it?” Jae Joong mumbled.

“About 8am,” I replied. “I’m going back to sleep.”

“Mm…” he murmured, as he tightened his arms around me.

We woke up at about sometime later, and it was almost 12pm.

“Good morning,” Jae Joong said as he stretched, and he leaned over to kiss me on my forehead.

“I’m still sleepy,” I grumbled, as I covered my face with the blanket.

“It’s the change in the time zones. If you want, just sleep a little longer.”

“But we’ll be wasting the day.”

We had 3 days of sightseeing to cram in, and on the 4th day, we will be flying back to Korea because Jae Joong needed to spend time with his family during the last 3 days of his break.

“The whole point of the holiday is to relax,” he said as he stroked my back. “You don’t have to see everything. We can always come back during our next break.”

“But I want to go somewhere else for our next break,” I said. “I don’t want to come back here.”

“Just sleep for awhile more if you’re still not up to it.”

“Okay,” I yawned. I snuggled back into his arms and closed my eyes.

We were finally out on the narrow streets of Prague at about 2pm. I’d went back to sleep but had woken up about an hour later. We gave up trying to get back to sleep, got dressed, and left the botel. The streets were all paved with cobble stones, and so were the pavements. They were charming to look at, but hell to walk on since they were so uneven.

We found a little café nearby and had a breakfast of croissants, toast and all those continental breakfast foods.

“Are we really going to the zoo?” I asked.

“You don’t want to go?” he asked me as he sipped his juice.

“I don’t mind. You lead the way,” I smiled as I fed him the piece of the croissant which I’d broken off and buttered.

“This is weird… you being so compliant,” he laughed.

“I’m always compliant. You wanna be the man, be the man. I’m just here for a holiday.”

“That’s my girl,” he laughed, and I stuck my tongue out at him.

The zoo was pretty quiet since it was a week day, and it wasn’t the tourist season. We walked through it slowly, taking in the surroundings, stopping at the little pavilions and snack bars littered along the zoo. More than 2 hours later, after walking past the bison, camels, prairie dogs and kiangs (a kind of Asian donkey), we finally came to stand in front of the enclosure for the Przewalski's Horses, that is the horse he’d been trying to describe to me on the first day we arrived in Prague. These horses were a kind of horses what were once domesticated and then escaped back into the wild and reverted back to being wild again. The zoo has so far bred about 200 foals and has even reintroduced some of them back to a natural reserve in the Gobi desert.

“Do I get to take one home?” I asked Jae Joong.

“I’ll ask the keeper later,” he said in a mock serious tone.

“I want that one,” I said as I pointed to one of the horses.

“Okay… let’s go,” he said, as he dragged me away from the enclosure.

“I want it now. I wanna ride it. My feet hurt,” I whined.

“You’re a little crazy, you know?” he said as he tapped me on the head.

“Just a little?” I smiled.

“Yea… just a little,” he said, as he put his arm around me, and we continued to walk down the path past the maras and cassowaries.

“My feet really hurt,” I complained. “My heels are killing me.”

“Chintcha appu?” he asked me. “Aren’t you wearing sneakers?”

“But they still hurt,” I whined.

“Do you want me to carry you?” he asked me.

“You would?” I looked at him, a little astonished.

“Get on my back,” he laughed, as he bent down.

“Yay,” I exclaimed like a child and climbed onto his back.

“Aigoo…” he huffed as he stood up. “You need to lose weight.”

“Yah! I’m thin enough as it is,” I said.

“Who told you that?”

“Everyone… even you. Don’t you remember you told me I needed to eat more when I was sick?” I poked him on the head.

“Yes, I did,” he laughed. “So don’t get any thinner, or the wind will blow you away,” he said.

Jae Joong continued walking slowly down the path as we looked at the animals we passed by. I lay my head on his back and tightened my arms around his neck.

“Jae Joong-ah,” I said as I inhaled the scent of his shampoo.

“Wae?” he replied.

“Opso…” I sighed in contentment.

I felt so blissful where I am now. We were in Prague, just him and I, enjoying the sights, enjoying each other… I didn’t want to go back to Korea, where our real life and the work were there, waiting.

We spent the next 2 days visiting the Prague Castle, which was the largest castle in the world, St. Vitus Cathedral, which was right beside it, the Astronomical Clock, and we even went to check out the Milunić and Gehry's Dancing House. Everything in Prague was old; the streets were old and narrow, the buildings were old and the surfaces discoloured, and despite the existence of some modern buildings, majority of the city was made up of old buildings.

We managed to visit the garden where TVXQ had their photo shoot, and Jae Joong and I were playing tag like a couple of deprived children. It drizzled while we were there and we decided head back to the botel to laze around for a bit.

“I wonder what the guys are doing back home,” I said as I snuggled close to him.

“Eating nice, hot Korean food?” he said.

“I know you miss the food,” I said as I traced my finger around his belly button. He was sitting up shirtless in our bed, while I lay beside him. “We’re going back soon. Don’t get too depressed.”

“I’m fine,” he said. “I’m actually enjoying myself,” he said.

“Good,” I replied.

He slid down in the bed until he was face to face with me, and he cupped my face in his hands and kissed my lips softly, and slowly. When he pulled away, I snuggled against him and buried my face against his chest, and he put his arms around me. As usual, I tucked my feet under his to warm them, and he automatically moved his feet to rub mine, so that they got warm a little faster.

On our last night in Prague, we stood by the river and admired the view of the Prague Castle by night; it was illuminated beautifully, and the lights were reflected in the river.

“We should come back here for our honeymoon,” he said.

“Yea… I’ll be sure to tell my future husband that,” I said, and laughed when Jae Joong glared at me.

“I’m not taking you anywhere ever again,” he said.

“Hajima…” I said in a sweet voice. “I’ll marry you if you promise to bring me here for our honeymoon.”

“Chongmal?” he said.

“All expenses paid?” I said.

“You’re on!” he smiled, and he kissed me.

I watched him as he slept on our flight back, and I thought of our kiss along the river, in the faint glow of the lights from the castle. Even if Jae Joong and I might not be able to be together forever, I will never forget the times we’ve shared together.

When we got back, Jae Joong spent the night at my apartment before leaving for his hometown the next day.

“Will you be alright? Skye’s not back yet,” he said, as I walked out to his car with him.

“He’ll be back tonight. He said he was getting his license from back home, and he’ll drive back to Seoul.”

“Finally, I don’t need to chauffer you guys around anymore,” he said.

“Ahem… you still need to drive me around.”

“Why don’t you get your own license and car?”

“How else can I force you to spend time with me if not for the fact that I don’t have a car?” I smiled.

“So that’s your plot, you cunning woman,” he laughed as he pinched my nose lightly.

“Yah! Don’t do that,” I said as I rubbed my nose irritably.

“You do that to me all the time,” he complained.

“Cos I’m older,” I said.

“Hmmph! You don’t mind mentioning you’re older when it suits you, eh?”

“Yea… so?”

“Cos when I say it, you go all ballistic,” he said, as he made a face at me.

“Cos you’re always making fun of me,” I reasoned.

“Whatever… you’re the queen, you’re the mistress,” he sighed.

“You’d better go now,” I said. “Or it’ll be really late when you reach home.”

“You sure you don’t wanna come?” he asked me. This wasn’t the first time he’s asked me to go home with him, to meet his family.

“I’ve told you the last time… I’m not ready to meet your family.”

“They’ve been asking about you,” he said.

“You told them about me?”

“Hello… I announced our relationship to the public and you kissed me during the awards the other day. Do you think the whole world would miss that?”

“Yes. If they were watching CNN,” I laughed.

“Michoso,” he laughed. “Bottom line is that you and I are not a secret, and my family is dying to meet you.”

“Not now, Jae Joong. I don’t think I can carry the title of Kim Jae Joong’s girlfriend yet. It’s too much of a burden.”

“How about Kim Jae Joong’s woman then?” he said.

“That’s equally bad,” I said as I shook my head.

“Fine… it’s up to you. Not this time then.”

“Go now,” I said as I pushed him into the car.

“See you on Sunday,” he said as pulled me close and kissed me on the lips.

“See you,” I said, and I gave him another hug before he got in the car and closed the door.

I watched his car pull out of the gates before I started walking towards my apartment block. I was still a little bugged about the issue of meeting his family. He’d asked me at least 4 times in the last 6 months, and I’d kept putting it off. Was it wrong of me? Should I meet them? I couldn’t even remember the names of his sisters. He had so many sisters, and it was scary. And now that he’d reunited with his birth mother, there was another whole extended family for me to get to know as well. It just felt taxing to even think about it. It’s not that I didn’t like his family, or that I didn’t like meeting them. I just felt that I couldn’t measure up to the girl they probably have in mind for Jae Joong.

Just as the elevator doors were closing, someone yelled my name and hit the buttons outside to keep the door open.

“Onni!” Hae Rin panted as she walked into the elevator.

“Hae Rin, what brings you here?”

“I was chasing you for the last minute. Didn’t you hear me calling?” she asked me.

“Mian. I guess I was too deep in my thoughts.”

“It’s okay. Erm… Skye called me sometime ago and said that he was on his way. So I thought I’d come and wait for him here. Is that okay with you?”

“Yea… no problem. But how did you know I was home?”

“Skye told me you would be. You arrived yesterday, didn’t you? How was Prague?”

“Heavenly,” I smiled as I thought of the time me and Jae Joong had there.

“I heard that it’s a really beautiful place.”

“It is. But it was raining almost every other day. The rain made it hard for us to get around, so we’d just zip around town and once it rains, we’d go back to the botel to laze around.”


“It’s a hotel on a boat,” I explained as we walked out of the elevator.


“Sorry,” I said as we walked into the apartment. “The place is a little messy. I had to unpack my stuff and Jae Joong’s and he had to repack for his trip back home.”

“It’s fine,” she said as she plopped down on the sofa.

“I’m still a little tired,” I said as I yawned. “I’ll be taking a nap in my room. Do whatever you want for entertainment. Just wake me when Skye gets in.”

“Araso,” she said as she turned on the television.

I walked into my room and threw myself onto my bed. After tossing and turning for about 5 minutes, I managed to fall asleep.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Chapter 62: All I Know

Our break had begun… I stood in the lobby of my apartment building, waiting for Jae Joong and Yoo Chun. Yoo Chun had volunteered to send Jae Joong and me to the airport. Skye and Shoei had both left for their homes yesterday; Skye back to Kwangju and Shoei back to Kyoto, in Japan.

“Dress warmly,” Shoei had said to me, just before he left.

“Araso,” I replied. “You’re sounding more and more like my mother.”

“You’ve just gotten better. I don’t want to see you sick again.”

“I won’t. Jae Joong will take care of me.”

“Jae Joong works too hard, and he’s as susceptible to illnesses as you are. I’m worried that it’s just gonna be the two of you going for this trip. What if both of you fall sick?”

“I won’t,” I said. “And Jae Joong isn’t as weak as you think.”

“Just take good care of each other. Araji?”

“Nae,” I said, pretending to sound bored, and I laughed.

“Fine… I won’t say a word from now on,” he grumbled.

“Come on, Shoei. You know I’m kidding,” I laughed as I ruffled his hair. “I know you have our best interests at heart.”

“See you in a week,” he said, and he gave me a quick hug before he got into his taxi.

I waved as his taxi pulled out of the gates. I missed him already. Spending each day with Skye and Shoei has made me attached to them. They felt like family to me, and they were the only family I had in Korea.

“Which counter?” I asked Jae Joong as we walked through Incheon International Airport.

“Erm… there,” he said as he pointed to the counters where we were supposed to check in our luggage.

After checking in our luggage and getting our boarding passes, we walked into the immigration area to get our passports stamped. If you’re wondering why we haven’t been mobbed yet, it was because we were dressed inconspicuously; I was wearing a denim jacket over a simple tank top and jeans, and the same went for Jae Joong. I had a cap on, Jae Joong had pulled a beanie over his head and we both had sunglasses on. But if anyone were to be spotted, it would be Jae Joong. It was easier for me to go unnoticed, but for Jae Joong, it depended on his luck. The officer at the counter flipped through my passport and looked up at me.

“Going on holiday?” he asked me in Korean.

“Nae,” I replied.

I noticed that the officer was sort of trying to decide if I were really Sierra from S-Cube or not. Sierra is actually my stage name. It was just a name I went by, which eventually became my stage name. The name Sierra was not indicated in my passport and since it wasn’t indicated in my passport, the officer couldn’t be sure and he didn’t dare ask me, in case I wasn’t.

“Komapseumnida,” I said as he handed me my passport.

As I walked away from the booth, I saw that Jae Joong was already waiting for me.

“What took you so long?” he asked me.

“The officer was trying to guess if I was really Sierra or not,” I giggled.

“At least you can hide. My passport practically declares who I am,” he grumbled.

“Did the officer ask for your autograph?”

“Yes,” he sighed, “and it was for his niece.”


“Let’s go,” he said, as he put his arm around me.

We walked slowly through the duty free shopping area, on the way to our departure gate.

“Do you want anything?” he asked me.

“What would I want?” I asked him in return.

“I dunno… you girls are so troublesome… always either wanting or needing something.”

“Troublesome?” I looked at him incredulously. “I’m the least troublesome girl I know,” I said.

“Sure you are,” he smiled slyly.

“Yah… Yong-ung Jae Joong,” I said threateningly as I pulled away and stood there, glaring at him.

“Waegeurae?” he replied innocently.

“Shikkeureoptta!” I said sternly.

“Hajima…” he cajoled as he put his arm back around me. “I’ll buy you a drink.”

“Shiro,” I pouted.

“Sierra-ya… hajima…” he said in a pleading tone, and he kissed me on the cheek.

“What about the other side?” I smiled, as I pointed to the other cheek.

“No problem,” he smiled, and he kissed me again.

“Pabo,” I said affectionately. “Let’s get to that plane.”

Thankfully, we got a direct flight via Korean Air from Incheon to Prague. When we finally arrived at Ruzyně International Airport in Prague, I wanted to kiss the ground as we got off the plane. I hated long journeys. Just as I did on our flight to NYC, I managed to annoy Jae Joong by constantly making trips to the toilet, or just wanting to walk up and down the aisle because I couldn’t sit still.

It was a good thing that Jae Joong had been to Prague before, for the Prince in Prague photo shoot, and he’d maintained some contacts there. As soon as we walked out of the arrival hall, we were picked up and sent straight to our botel. What is a botel? It’s really a boat, on the river, and it’s rented out to tourists or whoever who wants to live on the south of the river in Praha 4 and 5. Jae Joong’s contact in Prague had suggested this as an option, and since the price was mid-ranged, not too expensive and yet not dirt cheap, we decided to splurge a little. Jae Joong had paid for my plane ticket, but we were sharing the accommodation costs.

I stared at the scenery of the city as we drove towards the botel. Everything in Prague had ‘old-world’ written on it; the buildings, the streets, they were charming and looked like they each told a story. There were also modern buildings in Prague; the Corinthia Tower, the Žižkov Television Tower with crawling babies on it, and the Milunić and Gehry's Dancing House.

“What are we doing tomorrow?” I asked Jae Joong.

“Hmm… how about going to the zoo?” he suggested.

“The zoo? I’ve never even been to the zoo back Korea.”

“I heard they had a great zoo here,” he laughed. “They had some special breed of horse or something, and they’re like the most successful breeders.”

“Jae Joong…” I exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were such a nerd.” I laughed.

“I am not. They told us all these stuff when we were here for that photo shoot.”

“And you remembered?” I asked him.

“It just stuck,” he shrugged.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that you would remember such things. You don’t even remember half the stuff I tell you about penguins and dolphins.”

“What about them?” he asked.

“Never mind,” I sighed.

When we arrived at the botel, we were left with the keys and we let ourselves in.

“Wa…” I exclaimed as I walked in, and I dropped the bags I carried on the floor.

“You like it?” Jae Joong asked as he came to hug me from behind.

“I love it,” I said, and I turned around to kiss him on the nose.

“Good,” he smiled, and kissed me lightly on the lips.

“Look at the view,” I said as I ran to the windows to look out.

We had a view of the river banks and the buildings and trees lined along it.

“Let’s buy a boat when we get back to Seoul,” Jae Joong said.

“And you’re gonna live on it?” I asked him.

“That’s a good idea,” he smiled.

“Michoso,” I laughed.

“Why is that crazy?” he asked.

“It’s impractical.”

“Whoever said that boats were practical?” he asked.

“I’m hungry,” I smiled, attempting to change the subject.

“Me too. Let’s go eat then,” he said.

Since we were both pretty tired, we found a nearby hot dog stand, and that was our dinner for the night. The hot dogs here were different from the usual ones we had in Korea, and even different from those we’ve tried while in NYC. They used hollowed-out French baguettes instead of the usual buns and the baguette was filled with mustard and ketchup before inserting the frankfurter. We ate while standing side by side, leaning against the brick wall along the river. It was pretty chilly in Prague, since it was the beginning of winter. Jae Joong and I were wearing wind breakers, but I still felt a little cold. As soon as we were done eating, we walked straight back to the botel.

“You’d better go shower first,” Jae Joong said, as soon as we walked in.

“It’s cold. I don’t wanna shower,” I whined.

“We were just caught in a drizzle. You’d better shower or you might get sick,” he said as he combed his fingers through my hair, and he kissed my forehead.

“Araso,” I sighed and I walked off to dig through my bags for my clothes and toiletries.

It was almost 12am by the time we were done showering. We snuggled on the bed with the covers pulled up to our chins as we flipped through the channels on the television. The only channel we understood was CNN, and there were all sorts of weird programs on the other channels speaking languages we didn’t understand.

“I should’ve brought my laptop,” I said.

“It would’ve been troublesome to lug around.”

“Hmm…” I murmured, as my eyes started to close on their own accord. I was getting sleepier by the minute.

“Erm… Sierra,” Jae Joong said, and I opened my eyes to look at him.

“What?” I yawned.

“Look at what’s on TV,” he said.

I turned to look at the television and there were videos of naked girls prancing around.

“What the…”

“Are they actually advertising porn?” he said, as he stared at the television.

“I think so. Otherwise, what are those numbers for?”

“Omigod… the girls are so…”

“Ugly? Fat?” I laughed.

“Yea… and their expressions…”

“Bad acting,” I laughed. “Switch the channel.” I said.

“Are those real?” he said.

“What do you think?” I said sarcastically. “Can we change the channel?”

“Chamkan… I’ve never seen this before.”

“Like hell you haven’t!”

“They don’t have such stuff in Korea.”

“Are you telling me you’ve never watched porn in your entire life?”

“This is different.”

“Yah! Kim Jae Joong! You’re actually gonna watch this with me sitting beside you?”

“What’s wrong with that?” he asked.

“I don’t want to watch this!” I exclaimed, and I grabbed the remote control from his hands.

“Andoe!” he yelled dramatically as I turned off the television.

“Pyeont’ae!” I pinched his arm.

“Aahh!” he yelled and rubbed the spot I’d pinched. “I was just curious.”

“Go to bed,” I said.

I slid down the bed until my head touched my pillow.

“Sierra…” he said softly, as he put his arms around my waist and pulled me close to spoon me.

“Go to sleep,” I said, without opening my eyes.


“I know what you’re gonna say. Save it,” I mumbled.

“Hmmph…” he sniffed, and he turned off the bedside lamps. “Good night,” he whispered and kissed my hair.

I turned around in his arms and moved closer to him until I could lay my head against his chest.

“Good night,” I whispered, and I fell asleep within the minute.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Chapter 61: I Wanna Hold You

Tonight, we were sitting next to TVXQ, and the guys adjusted themselves so that Jae Joong could sit beside me.

“You look absolutely hot tonight,” he whispered in my ear.

“You’re not too bad yourself,” I smiled.

TVXQ was dressed in variations of cream-colored leather outfits tonight. Jae Joong and Chang Min were dressed in trench coats, Jun Su and Yun Ho in sport jackets, and Yoo Chun’s looked more like a biker’s jacket, and it made him look a little wild, especially with his really short hair.

“Can I go home with you tonight?” Jae Joong asked me, as he caught my hand in his.

“What do you plan to do at my place?”

“I dunno,” he smiled. “Ravish you?”

Sometimes, I feel that it’s a shame Jae Joong didn’t know how to wink. But if he did, I couldn’t imagine the additional impact that such words would have on me when they came from his lips. I can still remember back when Yun Ho said such things to me; they always caused shivers to run down my spine. When Jae Joong said such stuff, it made me feel hot and bothered. It made me want to grab him and just head home. While Yun Ho used facial expressions to add impact to his words, Jae Joong relied solely on the words and the tone of his voice, and that was all he needed to get to me.

“Kim Jae Joong,” I exclaimed at him. I could feel my face turning red.

“What?” he grinned innocently as his fingers caressed the back of my hand.

Tonight’s event was action packed and thoroughly enjoyable. All our performances went on without the glitch. I had 2 performances that night; one with S-Cube and Jun Jin, and one with Jae Joong, where we sang ‘Cassiopeia’, a song made famous by Rain and Lim Jeong Hee. We couldn’t have looked more contrasting that night. He looked like a white knight, while I looked almost dark and evil with my all black outfit. I guess it suited our image to the TVXQ fans. To them, I would always be the evil witch who stole Jae Joong from them.

The highlight of the night was Super Junior’s crazy rendition of D12’s ‘My Band’. Their crazy antics, throughout the song, had us all in stitches by the end of the song. Even their costumes were hilarious, as they tried to parody D12 by wearing over-the-top rapper outfits.

S-Cube managed to bag the Best Song award for ‘Ghosts’. The highlight of the night, as usual, was the Daesang. This year, it was presented by Kwon Sang Woo.

“Any guesses from the audience?” he smiled as he ripped the envelope open.

“Dong Bang Shin Ki!” we could hear the fans scream from the audience.

“Mwo?” Kwon Sang Woo said as he put his hand behind his ear.

“Dong Bang Shin Ki!” the fans screamed again. The TVXQ fans dominated the audience population, as they had at all the other awards.

“The winner of this year’s Daesang is…” Kwon Sang Woo announced. “Dong Bang Shin Ki!”

As soon as he read out the winner, the auditorium practically shook with the cheers of the audience. I turned to Jae Joong and pulled him over to kiss him on the lips.

“Ch’uk’ahamnida,” I smiled as I pulled away.

“Komawo,” he smiled back at me as he started to get up from his seat.

TVXQ waved at the audience, and were hugged by everyone they walked past, on the way up to the stage. They reached the center of the stage and Yoo Chun accepted the award from Kwon Sang Woo.

“Ch’uk’ahamnida,” Kwon Sang Woo said as he gave them each a quick hug and a pat on the back.

“Kamsahamnida!” Yoo Chun shouted into the microphone and the audience cheered.

“We’d like to thank SM, Lee Soo Man sonsaengnim, our manager, the coordinators, London Pride, and all those who’ve supported us. Kamsahamnida!” Yoo Chun said.

“We’d also like to thank our family and friend who’d supported us throughout our very busy year. Saranghamnida,” Jae Joong said, and he did our little sign for my benefit. Our eyes met when he did it, and I smiled and signed back discreetly.

“To our fans! Thank you for sticking by us no matter what,” Yun Ho said. “Saranghamnida!” he added, eliciting screams from the fans.

“Please continue to love us!” Jun Su shouted, and the fans cheered.

“And don’t forget… to all the members of TVXQ,” Chang Min smiled. “Saranghamnida!” he said, and they group hugged on the stage.

I think this is one of the things that endeared TVXQ to everyone; the fact that they were so close, and that they really loved each other like brothers. It was heart warming to see that they didn’t just view each other as members of the band that they had to work with, but as family. They did not have to pretend to be united and close, because that was exactly how they were when out of the public eye.

“What are you thinking about?” Jae Joong asked me as he drove me home after the awards.

“Nothing,” I smiled, as I turned away from the window to look at him.

“You didn’t answer my question,” he said.

“Huh? Did you ask me something?”

“I did,” he said.

“I didn’t hear you.”

“You were ignoring me,” he grumbled.

“I honestly did not hear you say a thing,” I said.

“You never pay attention to me,” he continued to grumble.

“Jae Joong… I really did not hear you. I wasn’t ignoring you,” I said, and I’d started to sound a little exasperated

“Okay, I didn’t,” he laughed.

“You didn’t what?” I looked at him. I was getting more and more confused by the minute. I was tired, and he sure was messing around with my head.

“I didn’t say anything. I was just kidding about the question thing,” he laughed.

“Yah!” I exclaimed, and I smacked his thigh. “You think it’s funny?”

“Yea,” he laughed. “I had you there for a minute.”

“Pabo,” I smiled.

“Keurae,” he smiled. “Pabo... chintcha pabo.”

“Yah!” I yelled at him.

“I meant that I was a fool for you,” he added.

“What’s with you tonight?” I asked him.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re mushy and romantic and a little high,” I laughed.

“It’s that dress of yours,” he said.

“Is this the first time you’ve seen me in a dress?”

“No. But since I missed my chance during the MKMF, this time I’m not gonna miss it,” he smiled suggestively.

“Miss what?” I asked him.

“Taking it off you,” he said, as if it were the most normal thing to say.

“You’re not coming up with me tonight,” I said, as I looked at him, aghast.

“You said I could,” he pouted.

“I’ve changed my mind,” I said as I stuck my tongue out at him.

“You can’t just do that!” he exclaimed.

“Why not?”

“You’ll hurt my fragile ego,” he said as his free hand grabbed mine and clutched it to his chest.

“Nonsense,” I laughed.

“I’m gonna be really devastated,” he sniffed.

“Good,” I said. “Then you can write more songs about being hurt and broken-hearted. It’ll be your source of inspiration.”

“Shiro,” he pouted.

“You’re not coming up,” I said, and I ignored him after that.

We pulled into the compound below my apartments, and instead of stopping below my building, he drove on to park his car where he usually would. I got out of the car and started walking quickly towards my building.

“No point running,” he shouted calmly after me. “I know the code to your door,” he said and he gave a sinister laugh.

He caught up with me as I was waiting for the elevator and he put his arm around my waist and pulled me towards him tightly.

“Let go,” I laughed.

“Andoe,” he laughed, still maintaining the sinister tone.

“Pyeont’ae!” I exclaimed, and the guard started giving us weird looks. Jae Joong smiled sweetly at the guard and frowned at me.

“Yah! You want me to get arrested or something?” he whispered.

“You should be,” I said. “Pyeont’ae.”

“Shh…” he covered my mouth. I hadn’t bothered keep my voice down, and the guard was glaring at us again.

The elevator finally arrived and Jae Joong quickly dragged me in and closed the door.

“Pyeont’ae?” he said menacingly as he pinned me to the wall in the elevator with his body against mine.

“Pyeont’ae…” I repeated after him, in a half whisper, and I laughed.

“Araso… Whatever you say,” he smiled, and he cut my laughter off with a kiss.

As soon as his lips touched mine, we kissed urgently, as if we’d been waiting a lifetime for that kiss. Actually, we’ve been waiting for 2 weeks for that kiss. Since I was holed up in the hospital for the past fortnight, we weren’t really able to do anything like that.

“Cameras,” I breathed, as soon as he pulled away.

“What?” he panted, as his lips lingered on mine.

“There’s a camera in this elevator,” I giggled.

“Oh,” he smiled.

The doors opened on my floor and we stumbled out, our arms around each other, as we continued kissing. I pulled away for a moment to unlock the door, and we resumed as we inched our way along the walls, towards my room. Once in my room, I slipped my hands in at the waistband of his pants and pulled out his shirt, our lips still not leaving each other’s. Skye and Shoei had gone off with the other guys to celebrate the end of the awards season, and they won’t be home for another 2 hours, at least.

“Lie down,” he said as he gently guided me back until I fell on my bed.

I lay on my bed and watched as he took off his shirt. My heart was racing as I watched him, and after he’d taken off his shirt, he leaned on the bed, above me, his body not touching mine, his hands on either side of my head, supporting his weight.

“What do you want to do now?” he asked me.

I looked up at his face, and I kept my eyes on his eyes, not breaking my gaze as I trailed a finger from his chest all the way to his abdomen, stopping just above his pants.

“Why don’t you take mine off first,” I said, without a smile, without any change in my expression. I just said it, like an order, and Jae Joong closed his eyes, as if he were savoring my words.

“Are you sure?” he said.

“Nae,” as I continued to gaze into his eyes.

“You’re burning a hole in my soul with those eyes,” he smiled as he pulled me up, and sat down beside me. “Turn around,” he said, and I complied.

Jae Joong pushed my hair aside, and started to unbutton the mock collar I wore. As the buckle came undone, he kissed the back of my neck where the buckle had been, and I shivered with pleasure. He put down the collar, and turned his attention back to my back, as he slowly planted soft kisses down my spine. His fingers came to the side of the top I wore, and he slowly dragged the zip downwards. As my skin was exposed, he continued planting kisses along my spine. I raised my arms, and he pulled my top upwards, to take it off; I still didn’t turn around to face him. He ran his hand down my back, then his tongue came to trace a line down my spine, when he reached the bottom, he gently blew on the spot he’d licked, and this time, from the bottom to the top.

“Jae Joong,” I whispered. I felt pleasured, and I felt tormented. He was taking his time with me, even though we’d been waiting for so long for this.

His arms came around me, as he gathered me against his chest. I could feel his skin against mine now, his chest felt warm and heavenly against my bare back.

“Saranghae,” he whispered, and he kissed me behind my ear.

“Saranghae,” I said, as I closed my eyes.

I woke up hours later, to the sounds of Skye and Shoei coming in the front door.

“Shh…” I could hear Shoei tell Skye, who tended to be a little loud when he was tipsy.

“You actually think they’re asleep?” Skye attempted to whisper, but ended up saying it loudly anyway.

“I don’t know,” Shoei whispered. “Just try not to make so much noise.”

Eventually, they got into their own rooms and the corridor was quiet once more.

I turned to look at Jae Joong, who was sleeping with his arms and legs thrown across my body. I pulled up the blankets to cover our bare shoulders. The weather was still a little chilly, and I marveled at how he could sleep without any clothes on and not feel the cold. I guess that guys just slept like logs, and when they slept, nothing could interfere with their sleep. I reached out my hand to trail my finger down his cheek, and I lightly touched the birthmark under his chin.

Sometimes I wondered if my luck would ever run out. Here I am, living my dream; having the career I wanted and dating the man of my dreams. There were days when I woke up and wondered if my life for the past 2 years had really been nothing but a dream. During those mornings when I woke up with Jae Joong beside me, I felt the most assured, because there he was, flesh and blood, and he loved me. Surreal, but it was the fact.

Jae Joong’s eyes slowly opened, and he smiled as he stretched.

“Ready for the next round,” he smiled, as he tightened his arms around my waist.

“I’m sleepy,” I said as I closed my eyes, and pretended to snore.

“Even better,” he said. “Now I can do whatever I want.”

And he did just that… almost. I’m still in charge when I want to be, and he complied willingly, more often than not.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Chapter 60: Thanks To

I was finally released from the hospital. One of the coordinator’s had come to collect me since everyone was busy with rehearsals for the KBS awards show, which would be held tomorrow.

“Sierra,” the coordinator said as she read my schedule. “You’ll need to go to the studios now.”

“Alright,” I replied.

The car dropped us off in front of the building and the coordinator helped me with some of my bags as we walked in and got into the elevator.

“Nuna!” Skye exclaimed as I walked into the studio.

“Hey Skye,” I smiled.

“Welcome back,” Lex oppa said. “Are you up for today’s rehearsal?” he asked me.

“I have to be. The schedule says that I have rehearsals today.”

“You should rest if you don’t feel well enough to dance,” Shoei said.

“I’m fine. I’m sick of sitting around and sleeping all day. Let’s dance,” I said, and we danced for the next 4 hours.

“Omigod,” I panted halfway through rehearsal. “I’m so out of shape.”

“Good thing is we only need to perform it once tomorrow,” Skye said.

“Yea, good thing,” I laughed.

“Sierra, you just need to get the timing and the force of the movement right. Other than that, you’re pretty much alright,” Lex oppa said at the end of the rehearsal.

“Okay,” I smiled. Coming from Lex oppa, this could be praise since he usually berated us like we were rubbish at dancing.

“Good job,” Skye said as he rolled his eyes at me.

“Thank you,” I said sweetly, since I knew he was trying to be sarcastic.

“Same thing tomorrow,” Lex oppa said. “We meet at the venue at 9am. Don’t be late.”

“Nae,” we answered in unison.

It was about 7pm when we left the studio, which is early, compared to our usual standards. Lex oppa probably released us a little earlier than usual for my benefit. I flipped my phone open and dialed Jae Joong’s number as we descended in the elevator.

“Sierra,” he said, as soon as he answered the phone.

“Are you done?” I asked him.

“Not yet. I need another hour.”

“We’ll just hang around the lobby and wait for you,” I said.

“Alright,” he said. “See you in an hour.”

We waited in the lobby for almost 2 hours before Jae Joong finally showed up.

“What took you so long?” I grumbled as Jae Joong pulled me up onto my feet and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“There were some last minute changes to our routine for tomorrow.”

“What’s the theme for tomorrow?” Skye asked Jae Joong.

“I’m not supposed to tell you,” Jae Joong smiled cheekily. He knew that would irk Skye, since Skye was such a busybody.

“Yah! Hyung… you’re starting to turn as evil as nuna is,” Skye remarked.

“Where’s your Hae Rin?” Shoei asked Skye, distracting him from Jae Joong.

“She’s still recording,” he said glumly.

“Aren’t you waiting for her?” I asked him.

“She asked me not to wait tonight.”

“Why?” Shoei asked.

“I dunno,” Skye shrugged. “She does what she wants, when she wants. I have no control over her.”

“I’m so glad you’re not Hae Rin,” Jae Joong laughed as he put his arm around me.

“Yea… remind yourself every day,” I said.

“Let’s go,” Shoei said. “I’m hungry.”

“We’re meeting the rest at the ramen shop,” Jae Joong said.

“Whatever, let’s go,” I said as I pulled Jae Joong out of the building.

We were all too tired to stay out tonight. After dinner, we went home, showered and collapsed onto our beds. Jae Joong didn’t even ask to sleep over tonight because he was too tired.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he smiled as he leaned over to kiss me. Skye and Shoei had gotten out of the car awhile ago and gone upstairs, giving us some time alone.

“Okay,” I said, and I pinched his nose.

“What was that for?” he asked me as he rubbed his nose.

“To remind you of my power,” I said.

“Which is?”

“Say that again, and I’ll make you regret it,” I said threateningly.

“Hajima,” he said in a mock pleading tone.

“Twaeji,” I said as I reached over to brush his fringe out of his eyes.

“Yes, you are,” he laughed and I glared at him. “Saranghae,” he added quickly.

“Saranghae,” I replied, smiling.

“Gimme a kiss, then I can go home,” he said.

“I don’t want you to,” I said.

“I’m falling asleep, Sierra. You don’t want me to fall asleep while I’m driving, do you?”

“Fine,” I sighed and I leaned over to peck him on the cheek.

As I was pulling away, he caught me by the neck and pulled me in to kiss me on the lips, and we ended up kissing passionately for a few minutes.

“Sorry I didn’t come pick you from the hospital today,” he said as he nibbled my lips awhile later.

“You’re busy. I understand,” I replied softly.

“I should make more time for you,” he said.

“You make plenty of time for me. It’s enough that you bother to send me home each night.”

“Does that mean I can’t stop sending you home?” he joked.

“Nope,” I smiled. “It’s gonna be your job for life.”

“Until we live together?”

“You’d still be sending me home. Just that you don’t need to go anywhere after.”

“Did you just promise to move in with me?”

“I was saying if we lived together. I didn’t make any promise to live with you.”

“Don’t you want to live with me?” he pouted.

“I do, Jae Joong, but…”

“Ha! You agreed. Let’s move in tomorrow,” he exclaimed.

“Aishii… michoso,” I laughed.

“Fine… we’ll talk about this later,” he smiled. “I need to get home now.”

“Okay,” I said, and I started to get out of the car.

“One more?” he said and looked at me intently with his huge eyes. I couldn’t resist.

“Araso,” I said softly as I leaned over to kiss him gently on the lips.

“Naeil pwayo,” he said, as I pulled away.

“Sleep early,” I said, and I opened the door to get out of the car.

It was after the rehearsals and I’m standing at the backstage area in my costume while the stylist stuck pins into it.

“You lost so much weight,” she said.

“Thank you,” I laughed.

“It’s from getting sick. That’s not healthy,” Shoei commented.

“But it sure beats running for hours in the gym,” I said and Shoei rolled his eyes.

“Done,” the stylist said as she stepped away from me. “Take it off and I’ll get it altered.”

“Komawo,” I said as I walked towards the changing rooms.

“Nuna,” Skye called out to me. “We’ll wait outside for you. Hyung’s bringing us to lunch.”

“Araso,” I said as I pulled my pants up.

The entire morning had been spent perfecting our entries and choreography for the awards tonight. We’d been so busy that I only managed to have a 1 minute conversation with Jae Joong before we started. He’d left about an hour ago to participate in a pre-awards radio show.

“See you tonight,” he said, and he lifted my hand up to kiss my palm.

“See ya,” I said, blushing.

Even now, I still blushed whenever he did little things like that in public. Oddly enough, I don’t blush or feel embarrassed when he kissed me in public. It is little romantic gestures like kissing my hand, or caressing my cheek that affect me.

I joined them outside about 5 minutes later.

“Yah… samui des,” I said as I zipped up my jacket.

“What did you say?” Skye stared at me.

“She said it was cold,” Shoei smiled, “in Japanese.”

“Don’t you pay attention during the lessons we’ve had?” I asked Skye. The management has started to send us for Japanese classes. They’re probably planning the release of S-Cube’s first Japanese single soon.

All this while, we’ve been releasing our Korean albums in Japan, and they did manage to sell, but it would have been better if they were in Japanese. I guess the only reason why we’ve not been able to enter the Oricon charts was because all our songs were in Korean. The only time we managed to enter the charts was when we released the English version of ‘Ghosts’. To date, ‘Ghosts’ has been our best selling single, whether in Korea or in the international market. Also, our album sales were more consistent in Japan. It seemed that the Japan market did not react to factors concerning our personal lives in the way the Korean market did. The scandals that concerned S-Cube did not affect our albums sales in Japan, even though we saw a huge boycott in Korea during the scandal concerning Yun Ho and I.

“Hyung,” Skye turned to Shi Kyung hyung as we walked to the car. “When are we gonna go to Japan again.

“When we release the next single,” he replied.

“When?” Skye asked.

“When we’re done recording,” Shoei answered for hyung.

“Skye’s a lot denser these days,” I laughed. “Ever since he’d fallen in love… half his brain has been committed to thinking about Hae Rin, and only Hae Rin.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Skye said as he glared at me.

“All you think about is Hae Rin, these days,” Shoei commented.

“I do not,” Skye pouted.

“Say that again when she’s around,” I dared him.

“I’m not going to dignify your comments with an answer,” he huffed and walked off ahead.

After lunch, we were back at the stylists place to get dressed for the awards show tonight. Since my last appearance in a qipao was so well received, they’ve decided to dress me in yet another one. This time, it was made of black silk at the bodice and it was strapless. A jeweled mock collar had been created for me to wear it as an accessory and as part of the dress. The skirt was sort of like a gown’s, but it only covered half my shins. It was made of layers of transparent fabric and I had to wear a pair of black tights underneath. The guys were once again dressed in classy, but funky suits which matched their usual style.

“Does this mean I’m gonna be dressed in oriental fashion for our next album’s image?” I asked Shi Kyung hyung as I adjusted the layered skirt before sitting down.

“We’re thinking about it,” he said. “But so far, nothing about the next album’s image has been finalized yet.

“Why can’t we have Chinese outfits too?” Skye asked.

“You wanna dress up in traditional Chinese costume?” I asked him.

“Why not? It’s cool. I wanna dress up like Bruce Lee or Jacky Chan,” Skye said.

“Then we’ll need a new track; a fast song with some Chinese, kung fu kinda sounds in the background,” I laughed.

“That’s a great idea,” Skye exclaimed. “I’m gonna go work on one.”

“You do that,” hyung said. “We’ll evaluate it after you’re done writing it.”

“Okay,” Skye said gleefully.

“Shoei,” I whined, as I tried to pull on the pair of boots the stylist had set in front of me. “I need help.”

Shoei walked up to me, and knelt down to help me with the boots. Again, the stylists had me wear knee-high boots. This pair was black and studded with diamante, sort of in the design of the mock collar I wore. In my ears were chandelier earrings encrusted with diamond-like crystals as well and on my head was a black silk band, also studded with matching crystals. My hair had been sort of combed up, and they’d randomly pulled out strands of my hair from the originally neat coif so that they fell out messily. I never understood why I could not get my boots on every time I tried, and Shoei always managed to pull them on for me, effortlessly. That was why he was always the one whom I’d call on to help me with them.

We arrived at the venue and because I’d been missing from all red carpet events for the last 2 weeks, the host practically attacked me with a barrage of questions.

“Sierra,” he said. “You’ve been missing for 2 weeks, how are you feeling today?”

“I’m excited to be back,” I smiled. “How’s everyone?” I asked as I waved to the crowd that had gathered outside the auditorium, along the red carpet area.

“We all missed you a lot,” the host said. “We heard you had internal bleeding. Was it painful?”

“I’d not felt the pain because I’d been taking some painkillers that numbed all pain in my body. So my advice to everyone out there is to be careful with the kind of medication you take, especially when you have gastric problems.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” the host nodded. “Once again, it’s good to have you back. S-Cube did not feel complete without your, am I right, Skye and Shoei?”

“Nae,” they both nodded.

“All the best with the nominations tonight,” he said.

“Kamsahamnida,” we bowed, and we walked off the little stage.

The final awards show of the season, and we’d be going on our breaks. I can’t wait.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Chapter 59: Choosey Lover

[Hae Rin’s POV]

Prague… Sierra was a lucky girl. I still can’t believe Jae Joong oppa would spend so much on her.

“What are you thinking of?” Skye asked me as we walked out of the hospital towards the taxi stand.

“Nothing,” I smiled.

“You looked worried. Is your work stressing you out?” he asked me.

“Am I even allowed to feel stressed out?” I asked him. “My debut is in 2 months. The management expects nothing but perfection from me.”

“And you are perfect,” he smiled.

I liked Skye. He made me feel happy and he’s good at comforting me. During those months I spent in the USA, if it hadn’t been for Skye, I think I’d have lost it. In the beginning, he’d harassed me without end; asking me to talk to him online, calling me on the phone and flooding my phone with text messages. I finally gave in, and he’d proved to be a great companion. I still can’t remember why I’d accepted him, why I allowed him to be my boyfriend. I guess I was just lonely, and he was there to listen to me. But I still can’t help thinking about Jae Joong oppa. I wonder if he missed me at all.

[Skye’s POV]

I watched her expression as we walked. Her brows were furrowed, indicating that she was thinking. I didn’t even want to imagine, but my guess was that she’s thinking about Jae Joong hyung. It made me feel a little exasperated when I thought of it. Why did she even accept me in the first place if she wasn’t ready to give him up?

In the taxi, I put my arm around her, and she moved over to lean against me. There was a sweet floral scent in her hair, and it’s making me a little high. I guess I’m just high on her. I’m sure she’s aware of how cute she is, and I know that she has learnt to use it to her advantage. Was this the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with? At this moment, my answer is ‘yes’.

She slid out of the taxi as I paid the driver.

“I’ll see you later,” she said as she started walking off.

“Wait up,” I said as I sprinted to catch up with her just as she reached the main doors. “Don’t I get a goodbye kiss?”

She looked at me, with an odd expression on her face. We’ve not had our first kiss yet; since we got together when she was in the states, and she had just got back 2 days ago. Before I could say another word, she grabbed me by the collar and dragged me towards the side of the building, and then she pulled me down so that we were face to face.

“You want it, you got it,” she smiled and she kissed me hard on the lips. This girl sure knew how to light my fire. I put my arms around her and pulled her closer as we continued kissing.

[Hae Rin’s POV]

I pulled away moments later, and I wiped my lips with the back of my hand.

“Yaah…” Skye smiled. “I didn’t think you were that wild.”

“There are many things you don’t know about me,” I replied coyly.

I don’t know what had come over me. I’d intended to leave him standing and get to my recording session, but somehow, I ended up kissing him.

“You need to give me a little warning in future. I don’t want to die of heart failure while kissing you,” he grinned.

Skye had the tendency to make really lame jokes, but he was cute. And because he was endearing, it’s hard to frown or roll your eyes at him when he said the lamest things.

“I’m not gonna. Where’s the fun in it if you’re able to anticipate my every move?” I smiled.

“Fine… Then I’m looking forward to your next attack,” he laughed.

“I did not attack you,” I exclaimed. “You asked for it.”

“I didn’t say, ‘Attack my lips!’. I said that I wanted a kiss.”

“Whatever,” I said and started to walk away.

“One more for the road,” he said, and he pulled me up against his body, and he kissed me.

This time, it was he who caught me by surprise. The force and suddenness of the whole act made me feel a heat at the pit of my stomach. I clung to Skye as the rush of adrenaline from the kiss made me feel lightheaded. Was this love? Or was this just lust? I’ve never really done anything like that with any of my boyfriends. They usually treated me like some porcelain doll, coddling and shielding me like as if I would break if they didn’t. I guess it’s because I’ve shown Skye my tough side, so he didn’t feel the need to protect me or to treat me with care. I like that he doesn’t get all macho and that he doesn’t treat me like the little woman. And yet sometimes, when I need it, he shows me tenderness in his actions too.

“I need to go,” I whispered breathlessly as I pulled away.

“Okay,” he said, and he kissed me once more, his lips lingering as he pulled away slowly.

“Bye,” I said, as he reluctantly released me from his embrace.

[Skye’s POV]

I watched her walk away, and I knew that I was standing there and grinning to myself like a dope. She sure knew how to kiss. I touched my lips, thinking of the 2 kisses we’ve just shared. I’d never had a girl kiss me like that before. Somehow, Hae Rin always took my breath away. Ever since I realized that I loved her, I could not stop thinking about her. She was petite, about 164cm tall, slim and she looked a little like Lee Hyori. I’ve heard her sing, and she had a voice that matched Jang Ri In’s or BoA’s. She was the future of SM Entertainment.

Even though she looked so adorable and sweet, I had to fight the urge to just hold her in my arms and shield her from the world. She was an independent girl, sometimes too independent. I’ve seen her when she was weak, and I’ve seen her at her strongest. In conclusion, I let her do what she wanted, and I would always be here for her when she needed me.

My phone started ringing in my pocket. I took it out and slid it open to answer it.

“Yes, Shoei,” I drawled.

“Where are you?” he asked me in an impatient tone. Shoei can be such a nag.

“I’m downstairs. I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Stop fooling around with Hae Rin and get your ass up here,” he said.

“Hae Rin’s not with me,” I said.

“Whatever. Just get up here now,” he said, and he hung up.

I walked into the dance studio a few minutes later to find Shoei deep in discussion with Lex hyung.

“Wazzap!” I said, in my best imitation of a black rapper.

“You’re late,” Lex hyung said.

“Mian,” I smiled. Ever since I’d gotten the cast off my arm, hyung had been working me like crazy; sort of like pay back for all the rehearsals I’d missed.

“Let’s start,” Shoei said as he started to stretch.

“Yah,” I said as I turned to him. “Is nuna going to join us for the KBS awards next week?”

“According to Shi Kyung, yes. So she’s gonna have to jump straight back into rehearsals once she’s discharged from the hospital.”

“I still don’t think she should,” Shoei grumbled. “She’s only going to get sick again.”

“I’ll make sure she doesn’t overdo it,” Lex hyung said. “Are you done warming up?” he said as he glared at me.

“Nae,” I smiled, and he just shook his head at me.

[Hae Rin’s POV]

“Hae Rin,” the producer spoke into my headphones from the control room. “You need to control your pitch better at the bridge.”

“Nae,” I said as I gave him the thumbs up sign.

“Let’s try it again,” he said.

The music flooded my headphones and I took a deep breath before I sang the first line.

People have been walking in and out of my life
Leaving their memories and impressions on my heart
But no one has ever done what you do
You’ve etched your name on my heart,
I’m hooked onto you

As we kiss under the streetlights, you held my hand
We stood about a foot apart, we didn’t dare embrace
Innocent and sweet, that’s how we began
Could it be that you are the one for me

Restless, you make me restless
Breathless, you leave me breathless
Helpless, I’m so helpless without you
Forever, let’s stay as me and you

You told me that you loved the way I wore my hair
You told me that you hated, when other guys stared
You were so adorable on Valentine’s Day
When you bought me those balloons
And that heart shaped cake

Now I can’t imagine living my days without you
The freedom is tempting, but meaningless
Never want to see, the day when you would walk away
I’ll hold onto you, till the end of time

Restless, you make me restless
Breathless, you leave me breathless
Helpless, I’m so helpless without you
Forever, let’s stay as me and…

Restless, you make me restless
Breathless, you leave me breathless
Helpless, I’m so helpless without you
Forever, let’s stay as me and you

I thought about Skye as I sang. In the past, I’d think of Jae Joong oppa when I sang. Somehow, this time, Skye’s face popped into my mind, and it helped me sing the song with the feelings required. Did I really feel that way about Skye? Could he really make me feel helpless without him?

“Good job,” the producer said, and I smiled. This was only the first song of the day. I had another 8 hours of recording ahead of me. There’s never a moment of rest for a kasu.

At about 9pm, we finally wrapped things up for the day. My stomach grumbled as I packed my bag. I’d not had any dinner except that one sandwich I’d stuffed down with a cup of water at about 6pm.

“Bye,” I waved to the producer and sound engineer as I picked up my bag and walked out.

“Hey babe,” Skye said as I walked out the door.

“You’re still here,” I exclaimed.

“Why not?” he said as he put his arm around me.

“I thought you’d have run off home.”

“And let you get home on your own? What kind of a boyfriend would I be?” he smiled.

“Are you trying to fish for a praise? I’m not giving out any now,” I grinned.

“And to think I waited for you,” he grumbled.

“I’m hungry,” I said.

“So am I,” he said. “Let’s go eat.”

After dinner, we got back to my hostel via public transportation.

“I heard you guys were going to get a week off after the awards season,” I remarked.


“Are you going home then?”

“Do you want me to stay in Seoul with you?” he asked me.

“Don't you need to take your test to get your driving license?”

“Right,” he smiled as he scratched his head. “I’d almost forgotten.”

“I guess I’ll see you after your break.”

“I’ll drive back to Seoul and take you out as soon as I get my license,” he said.


We reached the gates of the area that housed the block of hostel I lived in.

“Good night,” I said as I pulled away from him. We’d been walking with one arm around each other from the bus stop, all the way to the gates.

“Good night,” he said, and he leaned down to kiss me softly on the lips.

I smiled as he pulled away, and I reached up to nudge his chin.

“Bye,” I said as I walked in.

Today was the first time I’d spent such long hours with Skye, alone. It had turned out better than I’d imagined. As feelings of contentment started to envelope me, I pushed them aside. I’m still waiting for Jae Joong oppa. Skye was just a temporary relief. He was just to keep me company until I got the guy I really wanted. But now that I actually cared for Skye, just a little, would I have the courage to break it off with him later?

[Skye’s POV]

I smiled to myself as I walked away from the gates. Today had turned out better than I’d expected. I’m beginning to feel confident that this relationship had a chance. In the beginning, I’d been a little afraid that she was not over Jae Joong hyung. But it seemed to me now, that I might have a shot at winning her heart. As I opened the door to my apartment, I was greeted by darkness. Shoei had gone to bed, and nuna was still in the hospital.

I collapsed onto my bed after I’d showered and changed, and I stretched lazily. Today had been a busy day, but it was one of the happiest days I’ve had since becoming a kasu. I smiled to myself again. I’m going to win Hae Rin over, bit by bit, and someday, her heart will be mine to keep.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Chapter 58: Baby, Baby, Baby

“Heya!” he smiled as he walked in, with Jun Jin oppa behind. Notice that I don’t refer to Min Woo as oppa. It’s because I find him a little too playful to look up to. But I have to call him oppa, or he’d be sulking for the entire day.

“Min Woo oppa, Jun Jin oppa,” I smiled.

“Oh, Yun Ho, waseo?” Jun Jin smiled as he patted Yun Ho on the back.

“Yea,” Yun Ho replied. “I’m here to keep her company until her husband comes,” he laughed.

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Min Woo winked.

“I am not married to you,” I said as I stuck my tongue out at Min Woo.

“Is that so? Then why do you tell me you’re mine when we’re alone,” Min Woo teased.

“Oppa!” I wailed at Jun Jin oppa to stop Min Woo from antagonizing me.

“Shuddup, Min Woo,” Jun Jin oppa said. Jun Jin oppa was younger than Min Woo, actually. But why Min Woo behaved more like a child was beyond me. “So how are you feeling?” Jun Jin oppa asked.

“Better,” I replied.

“Not having you onstage with us was weird. They played a voice track for your parts and we’re always like looking around, thinking that you were there,” he laughed.

“I’ll be back soon. I promised myself that I’ll be there for at least the last award show of the season.”

“Think you can just jump on stage and do it when you’ve been sitting in the hospital for 2 weeks?” Min Woo asked.

“I’m gonna try.”

“You don’t have to, you know. You don’t need to be there. Your fans understand,” Yun Ho said.

“I just don’t want to miss it all.”

“I’m sure your manager will make the best decision for you,” Jun Jin oppa said, “whether or not you’re fit to perform.”

“Is there a party I wasn’t invited to?” Jae Joong said as he walked in.

“Jae Joong,” I smiled. I’ve not seen him for a whole day. He was stuck in the studios yesterday, recording.

“Hey there,” he said as he leant down to kiss me lightly on the lips and Min Woo started making coughing sounds.

“What’s for dinner?” Yun Ho asked.

“Ch’uk for her, and bibimbap for us,” he said. “Sorry hyung, I didn’t know you guys were coming.”

“It’s okay, we’ve eaten,” Jun Jin said.

“You know, you and Yun Ho can go out and eat. Who eats bibimbap on Christmas? It’s depressing.”

“Who eats ch’uk on Christmas? We’ll be fine,” Yun Ho said as he took out the containers from the bag Jae Joong brought and laid them all out on the table.

“I think we’ll just go now,” Jun Jin oppa said.

“Stay, help me with my ch’uk,” I said.

“No thanks,” he said.

“Yah… you want Jae Joong to beat us up for eating your food?” Min Woo asked.

“I wish he would beat you up,” I smiled sweetly.

“You’re a heartless woman, you know,” Min Woo said as he shook his head.

“Let’s go,” Jun Jin oppa said as he put his arms around Min Woo and turned him around.

“Bye!” we waved at them as they walked out.

While we ate, Yun Ho and Jae Joong filled me in on what had been happening at SM, during their rehearsals and recording sessions, and during the awards.

“You should’ve been there,” Yun Ho said. “You missed out on all the fun.”

“Don’t remind me,” I said. “I seriously hate my body now.”

“Don’t say that,” Jae Joong said.

“But my body’s so screwed up. I can never understand why it’s always acting up on me like this.”

“You can’t help it if you’re sick. At least you didn’t die,” he said.

“Yea,” Yun Ho said. “You’re safe, and that’s the most important thing.”

Sometimes I marveled at how the two of them can sit with me in the same room and chat as if there were nothing going on between the 3 of us. I guess the both of them were so close that they trusted each other. Am I just being petty now? Should I just brush off the awkwardness I feel? I don’t even know who am I feeling guilty towards these days; Yun Ho or Jae Joong. I’d betrayed Yun Ho even before we broke up, though he doesn’t know it. And now that I’m with Jae Joong, Yun Ho starts acting weird with me, like he can’t let go of our past.

“I think I’ll go now,” Yun Ho smiled. “You guys obviously want some alone time.”

“It’s okay,” Jae Joong said, and I glared at him. Why was he always so nice?

“It’s obviously not okay with Sierra,” Yun Ho laughed. Only then did Jae Joong notice that I was glaring at him, and he laughed nervously.

“See you at home,” he told Jae Joong.

“Take these with you,” Jae Joong said as he thrust bag containing the empty food containers at Yun Ho.

“You take care,” Yun Ho said me as he walked out, and I nodded.

As soon as Yun Ho left, Jae Joong came to sit on the bed next to me and he put his arm around me.

“Why didn’t you sit with me just now?” I asked him.

“Yun Ho was here.”

“Does it make a difference?”

“I was just being appropriate,” he said.

“Whatever,” I sighed.

“How are you feeling today?” he asked as he stroked my arm.

“Better,” I smiled. “How’s that cold?”

“It was gone since last week,” he laughed.

“I was just making sure it didn’t come back.”

“Okay. It didn’t come back.”

“Good,” I said, and I adjusted myself so that my head lay on his lap.

“Is that a new stud?” he said as he pushed my hair back.

“Yea, Yun Ho gave it to me as a Christmas present.”

“Which reminds me,” he said and he started digging through his bag, which was on the chair by the bed. “Here,” he said as he handed me an envelope.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“Your Christmas present. Open it.”

I ripped open the envelope, inside was a card.


S – Sexy, sweet, sophisticated Sierra
I – I love you
E – Endlessly
R – Roar ^^
R – Racing... my heart is racing
A – And I still want to marry you

Merry Christmas! ^^

I laughed hysterically as I read the card. It was lame and yet cute.

“Pabo,” I said softly as I tapped the card on his head.

“I spent a whole hour on it!” he pouted.

“Araso…” I laughed. “I love it, okay?”

“At least it made you laugh,” he smiled.

“What’s this?” I said as I pulled out a little booklet from the envelope.

“That’s the real present,” he said.

I opened up the booklet and inside was a plane ticket. I read the destination of the ticket and I turned to look incredulously at Jae Joong.


“Yep… Prague,” he smiled.

“How can we go now?”

“I’ve talked to the management. After the awards season, we get a short break before we started recording again.”

“You’d be out of the hospital by then, and it’ll do you good to go on a short holiday.”

“Are you serious?” I asked him again.

“Yes!!!” he laughed.

“Omigod… Prague,” I said.

“Are you at least happy?” he asked me.

“Of course I am,” I smiled. “Komawo,” I said, and I kissed him on the cheek.

“Is that all I get? The ticket wasn’t cheap you know,” he grumbled.

“This is a hospital. I’ll make sure you get what’s coming when we get to Prague,” I winked.

“I’m holding you to this promise,” he said in mock seriousness.

“Yes, yes… hold me to it… whatever,” I laughed.

“Saranghae,” he said, and he kissed me softly on the lips.

“Saranghae,” I replied.

The next day, I had an unexpected visitor, Hae Rin. She was back.

“Onni,” she smiled as she walked in. She had a bouquet of flowers in her hand, and she placed it on the table in front of me.

“Hi,” I smiled.

“These are for you,” she said, indicating to the flowers.

“Komawo,” I said. “Did Skye come with you?” I asked her.

“He did,” she smiled. “He stopped by at the cafeteria to get a snack.”

“That boy is eating way too much,” I laughed.

“So how are you feeling?” she asked me.

“I’m better now.”

“Where’s Jae Joong oppa?” she asked me.

“He’s busy. He usually visits me at night.”

“Oh,” she said. And I could’ve sworn she looked a little disappointed.

“How’s your album coming?” I asked her.

“I’ll have my debut single out in 2 months,” she replied. “I was thinking… I’ve asked my manager. Would you like to sing a duet with me on one of the songs in my album?”

“I’ll need to check with my manager. If my schedule is open and if your manager is fine with it, I’ll probably have no problems.”

“Great!” she smiled.

“Nuna!” Skye exclaimed as he walked in through the door. “Feeling better?” he asked me as he slung his arm around Hae Rin’s shoulders.

“I should be. After sitting around for more than a week.”

“Great,” he laughed. “Oh… I heard about your Christmas present from Jae Joong hyung.”

“What did he give her?” Hae Rin asked him.

“They’re going to Prague once nuna gets out of here.”


“Yes,” I smiled at Hae Rin. She looked a little taken aback.

“Wow… The tickets must be expensive,” she said.

“I’m sure Jae Joong got them at a good deal,” I said.

“Wow… Prague,” she said, then turned to smack Skye on the arm. “When are you taking me anywhere?”

“Excuse me, Miss Debuting Trainee. Do you think you have the time to go anywhere?” he asked her.

“True,” she sighed.

“By the way… I hadn’t pegged you as a materialistic girl. We’ve only just begun and you’re asking for such expensive presents?” he said as he shook his head at her.

“Dump me then,” she said as she stuck out her tongue at him.

“Come on, baby,” he quickly changed his tone and put his arm around her, rubbing her arm affectionately. “You know I’d buy you diamonds… if I had the money,” he winked.

“Hmmph!” Hae Rin huffed, and I had to laugh at their antics. They were adorable as a couple.

“We need to go, nuna,” Skye said. “Hae Rin needs to get back to the recording studio.”

“Okay,” I smiled. “Drive safely.”

“We took a taxi here,” Skye laughed.

“Right,” I laughed. “I keep forgetting that you’ve not gotten your license.”

“That’s alright. You’re aging. I forgive you,” Skye said and I glared at him.

“Mwo?” I said, threateningly.

“Bye nuna!” Skye quickly said and started to walk out.

“Bye onni!” Hae Rin said, and she followed him out.

After they’d gone, I sat there and fingered through the flowers Hae Rin had brought me. She seemed to genuinely like Skye. I could tell. But is her liking for Skye enough to help her forget her obsession with Jae Joong. I saw the flash of sadness, or was it even jealousy, in her eyes when she heard about the tickets to Prague. I just hope she’ll get over Jae Joong soon. I don’t want Skye to get hurt, and I don’t want anyone to try and come between me and Jae Joong.

I closed my eyes and lay back on my pillow. In a few more days, I’ll be out of here. I might as well enjoy all the sleep I can get for now.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Chapter 57: I Never Let Go

“Where's Jae Joong?” I asked them again.

“Ah… he’s at home. He got home at about 8 this morning and he was having a cold,” Jun Su explained.

“He shouldn’t have stayed with me,” I sighed.

“He’ll be fine. He just needs to sleep it off. But the manager was pretty pissed that he missed this morning’s rehearsal.”

“I’ve explained it to him,” Yun Ho said.

“He understands, but he’s still pissed,” Chang Min sighed.

“Did you see us on TV last night?” Yoo Chun asked me.

“Sorry… I was out cold until maybe 3am this morning,” I smiled. “But I saw you guys on TV this morning. Ch’uk’ahamnida.”

“Thanks,” Yoo Chun smiled. “Same to you.”

“I can’t believe Skye and Shoei won Best Lyrics,” Jun Su said. “Even Yoo Chun has never won Best Lyrics,” he laughed and Yoo Chun glared at him.

“Are you trying to say that my songs aren’t good?” Yoo Chun asked Jun Su.

“Well… they were obviously not spectacular enough to even get a nomination,” he said.

“Don’t talk to me ever again,” Yoo Chun pointed at Jun Su and turned away so that he did not have to face him.

“Guys… come on. I’m sure it was beginner’s luck. You’re all equally talented,” I laughed.

“Wish I had that kind of luck,” Yoo Chun said.

“You will,” I said.

We played cards together for the next hour until Han Kyung, Hee Chul and Si Won appeared.

“Hey Sierra!” Hee Chul called out as he walked in.

“Hi,” I smiled.

“Feeling better?” Han Kyung asked me in Mandarin.

“Much better,” I replied.

“Can we please speak in Korean?” Hee Chul said as he looked at the both of us.

“No,” Han Kyung, Si Won and I replied in Mandarin, and we laughed.

“You missed so much yesterday,” Si Won said.

“How was the after-party?” I asked.

“It was okay. We just went for a short while. I feel like I’m aging. I can’t keep up with the partying anymore,” Si Won laughed.

“It’s a novelty when you begin,” Yun Ho said. “After awhile, it just doesn’t feel worth it to lose sleep over,” he smiled.

“Yea,” Jun Su said. “Unless we were celebrating a birthday or some huge achievement, I’d rather stay home. Or just go for dinner to celebrate it.”

“Sierra, you need to get well soon, or you’re going to miss a lot of celebratory dinners,” Chang Min said.

“Ne,” I laughed. “You guys are turning into old men.”

They sat there and chatted with me until the nurse brought in my lunch.

“Waaa!!! This looks delicious,” Chang Min said as he eyed the food in my tray.

“I don’t think I can finish,” I said. “Why don’t you help me?” I asked Chang Min and his eyes just brightened at my suggestion.

“You need to eat,” Yun Ho said.

“I will, but I really can’t finish it all,” I explained.

Just then, the door opened and in walked Jae Joong. He looked a little tired. His eyes were puffy and his nose was red.

“Jae Joong, kwaench’ana?” I asked him.

“Yea, I am,” he said and coughed. “I made you ch’uk,” he said as he put a thermos flask on my table.

“You didn’t have to, you’re sick,” I sighed.

“I did, so just eat it. Chang Min, you can have the lunch the hospital provided Sierra with,” he smiled and Chang Min gleefully picked up the tray and went to sit in a corner to eat.

“I guess it’s time we left,” Yoo Chun said as he got up. “We don’t need to see how lovey-dovey you both are.”

“I’m not done eating,” Chang Min said, his mouth full.

“Stay awhile,” I smiled. “Let Chang Min finish eating.”

“Here,” Jae Joong said as he passed me a bowl of the porridge he’d just scooped out of the flask.

I took and scooped up a spoonful. It smelled delicious, as usual. There was nothing he could make that didn’t taste great. I blew on it gently and was about to put the spoon in my mouth when Jae Joong stopped me.

“I’ll feed you,” he said as he took the spoon and bowl from me and blew on the porridge once more before he fed me.

“Aigoo… look at the two of you,” Jun Su said.

“Yes,” Hee Chul said. “It’s time for us to go.

“Aren’t you coughing?” Han Kyung reminded Jae Joong. “You shouldn’t blow on her porridge or you’ll pass her your germs.”

“I’ll feed her,” Yun Ho said as he held out his hand to intercept the bowl and spoon from Jae Joong.

“Komawo,” Jae Joong said as he passed Yun Ho the bowl and spoon. I felt uncomfortable now. Did I need to be fed? If I rejected Yun Ho feeding me, what would the guys’ reactions be?

“Open up,” Yun Ho said as he held the spoonful of porridge in front of me. I obediently opened my mouth and allowed him to feed me.

“Aren't you the luckiest girl,” Hee Chul laughed. “Yongwoong Jae Joong and U-Know Yun Ho are both feeding you ch’uk.”

“Very,” I smiled as I swallowed.

“You’d better not let Cassiopeia get a whiff of this, or they’d make sure you end up back in the hospital,” Yoo Chun said.

“I thought those crazy days were over since that last incident?” Si Won said.

“Yea, Jae Joong pretty much scared them off,” Han Kyung said.

“What do you mean?” I asked them. “How did Jae Joong scare them off?”

“Didn’t you know?” Han Kyung said. “After you were assaulted, Jae Joong held a fan meeting and told the fans that if they didn’t stop behaving like savages, TVXQ was going to denounce them as fans.”

“You did?” I turned to look at Jae Joong. No wonder the fans hadn’t showed any signs of violence towards me when I started dating Jae Joong.

“I told them we had our own private lives to lead, and that it didn’t help when they interfered like that. What’s more, it had to do with assault. We don’t need felons as fans.”

“I should’ve been here during that meeting,” Yun Ho said.

“It wouldn’t have helped since you were the ‘wounded’ party,” Jae Joong said. “They needed to hear from someone who wasn’t involved.”

“Guys… this is getting a little awkward,” Hee Chul cut in. “Let’s not talk about the unhappy times, alright?”

“You’re porridge is getting cold,” Yun Ho reminded me.

“I’ll eat it myself,” I smiled as I motioned for him to hand it to me and he did. I ate in silence while they started to discuss the next awards ceremony they had to attend.

I spent the rest of the week in the hospital mostly alone since everyone was busy with rehearsals. Skye brought my Sony VAIO on the second day I was hospitalized so that I had something to entertain myself with. At night, Jae Joong would bring me dinner and in the afternoons, I’d have to eat whatever was served by the hospital. After an awards ceremony, I’d go online and check out the results. So far, TVXQ had won 80% of the awards they were nominated for, and S-Cube, we’d be nominated for 2, at least, and we’d go home with 1 or 2 most of the time. It was another great year for SM, another great year for TVXQ and a great year for S-Cube. Too bad I wasn’t there to enjoy it all.

Christmas finally came, and I was still in the hospital on Christmas day and the guys had rehearsals. I pretty much spent Christmas day alone, surfing the internet, until Yun Ho showed up.

“Hey,” he said as he walked in.

“Hey,” I smiled as I looked up from my laptop.

“Merry Christmas,” he said as he leant down to kiss my cheek.

“Merry Christmas,” I replied. “Where are the rest?”

“They’ve got a radio show to attend.”

“What about you?”

“I didn’t need to go.”

“Thanks for coming,” I said.

“You think I’d let you spend Christmas alone?” he looked at me.

“You wouldn’t, but you should,” I said.

“Why in the hell should I?”

“Cos it’s only right. You don’t have an obligation to be here.”

“I’m your friend, aren’t I?”

“Are you being honest when you say you came here as a friend?”

“I am.”



“Fine,” I sighed.

“So when do you get out?”

“You make me sound like I’m in prison,” I laughed. “When the doctor’s happy with my condition.”

“How long is that gonna be?”

“It's only been about a week. I’m supposed to be here for 2 weeks at least.”

“You missed out on all the fun this past week.”

“I know. It sucks,” I smiled.

“So where’s my present?”

“What present?”

“My Christmas present.”

“It’s in my room, back at the apartment. You’ll get it when I get out of here. Where’s mine?”

“Thought you’d never ask,” he smiled as he took a small box out of his pocket.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Open it,” he said.

I opened it and inside was a single stud, an earring to be exact.

“Erm… there’s only one.”

“There’s only meant to be one.”


“I’m wearing the other,” he said as he pushed back his hair to reveal the other stud on his ear.

“Why don’t you wear both of them?”

“Cos I want you to have the other side.”


“It’s really a transmitter, so that our frequencies can be in tune and we can communicate better,” he said with a straight face.

“Rubbish,” I laughed as I smacked his arm. His face broke into a smile as he rubbed the spot I’d hit.

“It’s just a token of my friendship with you.”

“Is it a diamond?” I asked as I took it out and rolled it between my fingers.

“Nope, it’s Swarovski.”


“Did you want it to be a real diamond?” he asked me.

“Nah… I love Swarovski,” I smiled as I started taking off the first earring I wore on my left ear and put the Swarovski stud in.

“Looks good,” he said.

“Everything looks good on me,” I smiled smugly.

“Yes, they do,” he laughed.

“Where’s Jae Joong?”

“He had an appointment, he’ll be here soon. He was supposed to bring us dinner.”

“I’m kinda tired of ch’uk. Wish I could eat something else.”

“You need to bear with it. You’ll be fine after another week, and we can have a feast when you’re released.

There was a knock on the door, and Min Woo peeked in.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Chapter 56: I Pray 4U

[Sierra’s POV]

I felt a dull ache in my abdomen, and the pain increased gradually. I tried to move and I felt like I was restrained. What was this thing covering my mouth? I lifted my hand up to touch it. A mask? I opened my eyes and was greeted by the sight of an unfamiliar room. A faint light shone in from the window and illuminated the room. Where was I? I turned to my left and saw Jae Joong sleeping in a chair, with his face down on the side of the bed I lay on. I looked at my hand. An IV needle was stuck to it. Thank god I wasn’t awake when they hooked me up. I’ve always been terrified when I saw the huge needle. Why was I in a hospital? Jae Joong stirred and he looked up at me with his eyes half-closed.

“You’re awake,” he said as he rubbed his eyes. “Are you okay? Do you still hurt?”

“I can feel this horrible ache in my stomach,” I said.

“Do you want some water?” he asked me, and I nodded. He got up to pour some water into a glass. Then he removed the oxygen mask for me and he helped me up so that I could sip from the glass he held in his hand. “I’m going to call for the nurse,” he said as he lay me back down on the bed.

“Okay,” I said and I closed my eyes as I felt the pain come again.

The nurse came in with Jae Joong a minute later and she injected something into my IV drip.

“This will help ease the pain,” she said.

“Kamsahamnida,” Jae Joong said to her as she walked out. He closed the door after she left and came back to sit beside me.

“Why don’t you go home?” I said as I reached out to touch his cheek.

“I’ll stay here with you,” he said as he brought my hand to his mouth to kiss it.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“You collapsed while talking to Bi,” he said.

“Yea… I remember him being the last thing I saw,” I said.

“The doctor said that you had internal bleeding, and that you didn’t feel it because you’ve been taking painkillers,” he continued.

“Internal bleeding?” I said as my eyes widen. This was the first time I’ve heard of such a condition.

“I was kinda wondering why your gastric hadn’t acted up lately. You worked late and you worked long hours without rest and I know you don’t eat regularly.”

“Now that you say it, it feels so scary. To think those painkillers were able to numb all my pain.”

“Another few days, it would’ve been fatal,” he said as his grip tightened around my hands.

I just kept quiet as I looked at his grim expression. A few more days of not knowing, and I would’ve ceased to exist. Life was scarily fragile.

“So how long do I need to stay here,” I asked.

“Until you’re healed of course,” he replied.

“What about all the award shows coming up? All those scheduled recording sessions?”

“Now’s not the time to worry about it.”

“The management won’t be happy.”

“It’s either they continue to work you hard and lose you, or they wait 2 weeks and have you back on board.”

I sighed and turned my head so that I looked straight at the ceiling. Why did I always get myself in such situations? Was this payment required from me for achieving my dream? I once asked the singing coach. Since a singer needs the strength of her stomach to help her sing, does it matter if I had gastric. She’d said that it didn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter when it came naturally. My condition hasn’t affected my ability to sing, but it now affected my ability to live.

“You’ll get better soon,” Jae Joong said as he pushed my hair away from my face. The pain had gone away, and I was feeling sleepy again. There must’ve been a sedative in that shot the nurse gave me.

“I think I’ll go back to sleep,” I said. “You should go home and get some rest.”

“I’ll leave when Shoei comes in the morning,” he said. “You rest now, araji?”

“Araso,” I smiled. “Jae Joong-ah,” I said as I looked at him, studying his face.


“Saranghae,” I whispered.

“Na tto saranghae,” he smiled. “More than you can imagine,” he added.

The next morning, I was awaken by a faint chatter of voices. I opened my eyes slowly to see Shoei and Shi Kyung hyung sitting on the sofa near the foot of my bed, talking.

“Finally,” hyung said as he walked up to me. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Fine, I guess,” I smiled. “Until the sedatives wear off.”

“Then we’ll need to get you more,” he smiled.

“Hyung,” I said.


“Am I really going to have to stay here for 2 weeks?”

“That’s the doctor’s orders,” he said. “And the management has given their approval.”

“What about the awards, the album?”

“Skye and Shoei can attend them without you, and the album can wait. Right now, you need to get better. You only have 2 weeks, so make the most of it.”

“Yea,” Shoei added. “You’re so lucky to get a break.”

“Right… so lucky,” I laughed. “Where’s Skye?”

“I dunno… he was here awhile ago,” Shoei said. “He must’ve gone to the cafeteria.”

“I’m leaving,” hyung said as he got up. “I have lots of paperwork waiting for me at the office, and I need to reschedule our appointments.”

“Okay,” Shoei said.

“Take care, hyung,” I said.

“You take care of yourself,” he said, pretending to sound stern. “You’re the source of all my extra work now.”

“Mianhae,” I smiled. “I know you love me still.”

“Yes, yes… what can I do? You three are the source of my income,” he laughed. “I’m going,” he said as he walked out.

“Bye,” Shoei and I said in unison.

Skye finally came back, about an hour later.

“Where did you go?” Shoei asked him.

“To make a call,” he answered and he started to rustle through the fruit basket someone had given me.

“If you’re going to eat that, you eat it outside,” I said when he produced an orange from the basket. I didn’t eat oranges and I couldn’t stand the smell of oranges. They made me feel like puking. Skye made a face at me and put the orange back in the basket.

“You were calling Hae Rin?” Shoei asked.

“Yea,” he replied as he picked up the remote and turned on the TV.

“Isn’t it a little expensive to call her like that?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “She’s coming back early next week.”

“I thought she wasn’t due to come back for another 4 months?” Shoei said.

“I guess the management changed their mind, and all the better for me,” he smiled.

I could see that he was really happy that Hae Rin was coming back. But I couldn’t help feeling that something ominous would be happening with her return.

“Well, you’re too busy to have any time to actually date her anyway,” Shoei commented.

“I’ll make the time,” Skye said.

“Tell that to hyung,” Shoei laughed.

“I’ll find a way,” Skye insisted.

“Just make sure you don’t get in trouble,” I reminded Skye.

“Yes, omoni,” he sighed as he turned his attention to the entertainment news on ArirangTV. They were recapping last night’s awards.

“2 year old R&B group S-Cube was the surprise of yesterday night, taking home the Digital Popularity and Best Lyrics awards.”

Videos of us receiving the Digital Popularity award flashed onto the screen.

“S-Cube, however, was not available to receive their award for Best Lyrics and was represented by Xiah Jun Su from TVXQ. We have received reports that their only female member, Sierra, was rushed to the hospital after their live performance. At this moment, we are still unable to confirm her condition.”

“Wow,” I exclaimed softly. “How did they get a whiff of the whole thing from yesterday?”

“Someone backstage must’ve reported it,” Shoei said.

“And the management hasn’t released any comments on this?” I asked.

“Nope,” Skye said. “They wanted to hear the doctor’s full diagnosis before they proceeded. It’s still early. The news will be out by noon I guess.”

“We should go now,” Shoei said as he got up. “We have rehearsals.”

“Can’t I stay here?” Skye whined. “I wanna stay to accompany nuna.”

“You mean to use me as an excuse to get out of rehearsals?” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“Can’t you play along for once?” he pouted.

“Go on,” I said. “Go for rehearsals. I’ll be fine. Come see me later,” I smiled.

“Come on,” Shoei said as he dragged Skye off the chair and out of the room with him. “Bye, nuna!” he said as they walked out.

I turned on the television and the news now was focused on TVXQ. They’d won last night’s Daesang, Best Group, Best Dance and the list went on. I think the awards they’d won last night totaled up to about 6 awards. I smiled when Jae Joong’s face came onto the screen. As usual, Yoo Chun had tears streaming down his face. They hugged each other and on their faces were expressions of joy.

When Jae Joong gave his speech, he made a sign with his fingers, discreetly. I smiled when I realized he’d done it; it was our secret sign. The management had specifically informed us that we were not allowed to thank our girlfriends or boyfriends during our speeches, so Jae Joong and I came up with a secret sign to show that we were thanking each other. I’d done it myself while accepting the Digital Popularity award, and he’d smiled at me when he saw it.

I turned off the television and decided to take a nap. Oddly, the pain had pretty much gone away since I woke up this morning. Had I really gotten better? Or it’s just that it hasn’t acted up yet. I decide not to care and went to sleep.

“Sierra,” I heard someone call as he touched my hand. I opened my eyes wearily to see Yun Ho standing beside me.

“Yun Ho,” I said in a puzzled tone. “What are you doing here?”

“I just dropped by to see you,” he smiled.


“Yes. Do I need to be chaperoned when I visit you?”

“No, that’s not what I meant,” I said. “Where are the rest?”

“They’re on their way. I left a little earlier from our rehearsals,” he said as he sat down.

“Ch’uk’ahamnida,” I said.

“For what?” he asked.

“The 6 awards you guys swept up last night.”

“Oh…,” he said. “All in a day’s work,” he laughed.

“You’re so modest,” I smiled.

“I have to be a little more confident than most. And so do you. We’re leaders,” he said.

“Yea, some kind of leader I turned out to be; always ending up in the hospital.”

“You can’t control your body all the time.”


“But just need to take better care of yourself,” he said as he took my hand. I gently pulled my hand away. I felt uncomfortable when he touched me like that. “Sorry,” he mumbled when he realized what he’d done.

“It’s alright. Old habits die hard,” I smiled.

He smiled back at me, and for a moment, I relived the sense of familiarity I felt around him.

“Hyung!” Chang Min yelled as he bounced into the room and the rest of TVXQ followed in behind him, but Jae Joong was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s Jae Joong?” I asked them and they looked at me with a nervous expression, or at least I deciphered it to be a nervous expression.