“Erm… talk to you later,” Shoei quickly said and hung up.
“Who was that?” I asked him
“No one special,” he said, and I could tell he was being evasive.
“I’m not a dimwit, Shoei. Was that Jae Joong? I asked him.
“No,” he said and started picking up his stuff. “I need to shower.”
“Skye’s still in the shower,” I said, and I stepped in front of him to stop him from walking out.
“It’s no one,” he insisted.
“I don’t believe you,” I said.
“Don’t kill the surprise I’m planning,” he said.
“What kinda surprise?”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore, would it?” he winked.
I studied his expression for a bit, and he gave nothing away.
“Fine,” I said. “If this turns out to be what I think it is, I’ll never forgive you.”
“Araso,” he smiled and started pushing me out of the room. “Shoo… scat… I need to change.”
“I’m warning you,” I said, as he slammed the door in my face.
I stomped to the room and slammed my door in response. If that had been Jae Joong, what were the two of them plotting? But why would Jae Joong be plotting anything with Shoei? I picked up the phone to call Yun Ho back, figuring that it was best I did or I’d never hear the end of it tomorrow.
“Yeobo, say yo!” he said, laughed at his lame pick-up line.
“Ya… you’re gonna turn into Yoo Chun if you keep doing that?”
“I will?” he laughed. “Then I’d better stop. So wassup?”
“You threatened me to call you back.”
“I did? Oh… I did. Mianhae,” he said. “Just wanted to make sure you’re alright.”
“Well… I’ve got some big news.”
“They want me to record a special single with Jae Joong.”
“Oh… that news. I’ve got the latest update. Jae Joong’s been replaced.”
“What?!!” I almost yelled in surprise.
“You don’t have to be so enthusiastic about it,” he said sarcastically.
“I’m sorry. I’m just shocked, cos they told us like 3 hours ago and here you are telling me they changed the plans?”
“They told us a little more than an hour ago, and I told them that it wouldn’t be a hype to have you and Jae Joong since the whole world knows you both are a couple. It should be controversial, like you and I.”
“Nicely put. I was actually dreading the whole collaboration. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna face him.”
“It’s not as bad as you think it is,” Yun Ho said.
“No? Then why hasn’t he called? And why has he disappeared for days.”
“Does that mean you’d be willing to see him now?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You won’t kill him if you see him?”
“I wouldn’t guarantee that.”
“Then I guess I should warn him if he intends to come to you,” he laughed.
“Yea… tell him that I won’t be nice this time,” I replied, and there was a brief moment of silence.
“Will you give him another chance?” Yun Ho asked me.
His voice was serious and somber this time. I know that he’d wanted to know the answer to this question for the longest time, and the question was like a double-edged sword. Indirectly, he was asking of he had another chance too. If I give up on Jae Joong, then I could be giving him a chance, but if I wanted to continue with Jae Joong, then it’s the end of me and Yun Ho. Someone was going to get hurt either way.
“I don’t know, Yun Ho,” I said, and I really didn’t.
Yun Ho was always good to me, despite the fact that we had a turbulent relationship in the past. Jae Joong and I, we’ve stabilized, and in some ways, we’re almost like an old married couple, but we couldn’t get past our insecurities.
“Then I know your answer,” he sighed.
“Don’t make assumptions,” I said. “I’ve not decided anything. I’m still upset and confused. I need time alone.”
“So you want me to leave you alone.”
“Araso. I’ll give you time.”
“I’ll hang up now,” he said.
“Yea… I need to get to bed.”
“If I could turn back time…”
“I know. Things would be different. We’ve made mistakes, and we have to live with them now. I know…”
“Hey… what are friends for?” he said and I couldn’t help detecting the sadness in his voice. “Go to sleep. I’ll talk to you another day.”
“Good night,” I said, and he hung up.
It was the day of our album’s launch in Japan, and we were flying to Tokyo for a day of press conferences and autograph sessions. We got up at about 5am and left the house about 6am to catch our flight there.
“I wanna go home,” Skye yawned, as we walked into the airport.
“Go on,” I laughed as I stifled a yawn myself.
“Heads up,” Shoei said. “Reporters at 2 o’clock.”
Sure enough, as we looked up, a flock of reporters zoomed in on us and started clicking their cameras while shooting their questions.
“Shoei-shi, what’s your prediction for the turnout of today’s launch in Japan?”
“Sierra-shi, why isn’t Jae Joong here to see you off?”
“Choesonghamnida,” hyung cut in and tried to hold the reporters off. “We really need to get going or we’ll be late for our flight.”
“Sierra-shi, just one question. We’ve heard rumours of your upcoming collaboration with Yun Ho. Is it true?”
“I’m sorry, we’re not prepared to take any questions today,” hyung answered for me as he ushered us towards the departure gate.
I pushed up my sunglasses to hide my face as Skye, Shoei and I smiled apologetically. We walked briskly through the gates after the PA showed the guard our boarding passes and there was finally some peace as we walked towards the immigration counters.
As soon as the plane took off, I lowered my seat so that I could sleep.
“Are you that sleepy?” Skye said as he leaned over from behind to flick my hair.
“Ya… leave me alone.”
“How did those reporters know about the collaboration?” Shoei said.
“It must’ve leaked,” I yawned and closed my eyes.
“Didn’t they get it wrong? Your collaboration is with Jae Joong,” Skye said.
“No, it’s with Yun Ho now,” I said, still keeping my eyes closed. “He told me last night.”
“Then news really travels fast,” Shoei said.
“I bet there’s a mole in the company,” Skye said.
“There are many moles in SM. In any huge and successful company, you’ll be sure to find a mole or two,” I said.
“Or three, or four,” Skye added.
“I wanna sleep. Shoo!” I flailed my arms at Skye, trying to push his face away.
We arrived in Tokyo and were immediately ushered into the vans, heading towards our first destination. As we exited the airport, we were greeted by a sea of screaming fans, waving our balloons. Thank god my hair didn’t look like a rat’s nest from the flight. The hairstylist actually fixed our hair before we got off the plane. As we drove there, the stylists made final checks on hair, makeup and our outfits.
We attended a flurry of press conferences, and in each, we were often asked the same few questions.
“What are you inspirations for the new album?”
“Which is your favourite song?”
“Which song was the most difficult to sing and express?”
“When is S-Cube holding a tour in Japan?”
We performed 3 songs, 'Connect the Dots', 'Ghosts' and '(Why Am I) Never Enough' at all the venues, saving Skye and my duet, Don’t You Know, for our last stop, Tower Records.
“Konichiwa, S-Cube des!” we greeted the fans who’d been waiting the entire day for us to appear.
According to the local radio station, the fans had been camping there since morning, waiting for entry to the area fenced out for the purpose of the autograph signing and a small performance by S-Cube. It was almost nightfall now, and the building is now brightly lit, as are the streets outside.
“Everyone, thank you for being here today,” Shoei said in Japanese.
“Please excuse my bad Japanese,” I laughed nervously, and the fans laughed with me. “We’re really touched to see you present here, supporting us. We are truly grateful,” I continued in my shaky Japanese.
“Arigatou gozaimasu,” Skye said in his odd Japanese accent, as he bowed abruptly, and the fans laughed hysterically.
“Skye-san, you should really cut down on watching those on samurai anime,” I said. “Your crazy imitations are becoming an embarrassment.”
“On the contrary, I think everyone actually finds my imitations kawaii,” he said, as he held a cute pose, and we could hear some girls screaming.
The fans listened reverently as we sang, and at the end of the performance and autograph session, we were actually a little reluctant to leave. Japanese fans are always so polite and delightful to meet, and we could actually hug them or shake hands without them freaking out like a Korean fan would, not that we mind. We know all our fans love us, but the attitudes of fans really do vary depending on the country.
It had started to drizzle as we left Tower Records, and we headed straight to the airport to check in earlier and have dinner there before we boarded the plane.
“Nuna! You have to try this unagi,” Skye said as he held the piece of offending fish in front of me.
“No… eww… get it out of my face,” I said as I threatened to stab his hand with my chopsticks.
“You don’t know what you’re missing,” he said, as he popped it into his mouth, and reached his chopsticks out to pick up a little orange colored octopus.
“Ack…” I said, turning to stare at my own food before I gagged.
“Sometimes I wonder,” Shoei said. “How do you cope in a foreign country when you’re so picky with food?”
“I eat rice and noodles, and that is universal enough. It is not a must to eat unagi and live octopus,” I said as I crunched on a tempura prawn. “Besides… I love prawn, fish, crab, lobster, chicken… pork… I don’t think I have a problem.”
“You forgot to add; everything must be piping hot,” Skye chipped in.
“Yea… hot food is good,” I smiled.
“You’re such an old lady,” Skye laughed.
“Laugh all you want. I’m gonna live a longer and healthier life, compared to you,” I said as I stuck my tongue out at Skye.
“Bad news guys,” hyung said as he approached us. “The storms’ picking up and we’ll be stuck here until it dies down.”
“What?” I exclaimed.
“What are we gonna do for the next few hours? I didn’t bring my PSP,” Skye complained.
“All the flights have been delayed,” hyung said. “No plane is going out there in this weather. At least for the next 2 to 3 hours.”
“Then we’ll just sit here and continue eating?” Shoei asked hyung.
“Suit yourselves. Join the rest of the crew at the lounge when you’re done,” he said, and walked off.
3 hours. What are we going to do in the next 3 hours? I looked at Shoei, and he guessed that I was wondering what else we could do besides eating; he just shrugged in response. We both looked at Skye, who was still happily eating. He realized we were looking at him and stopped chewing for a moment as he looked up at us.
“Who wants more unagi?” Skye exclaimed, and I flicked my napkin at him.