Thursday, 28 June 2007

Chapter 98: 바보 (Unforgettable)

It was the way Yun Ho sang the song. His emotions were really coming across in the song, and it made me wonder if I was the cause of those emotions. The song ‘Ice Box’ was about the guy being hurt by his past relationship with a girl and it affected his new relationship. Granted Yun Ho wasn’t in a new relationship, but he sure sounded upset. Was I the cause of him not being able to move on?

We called for lunch to be delivered, the usual rice boxes and noodles. I had jajangmyeon and mandu.

“You’re still crazy about mandu,” Yun Ho smiled as I gleefully opened the container of pan fried mandu.

“It’s my favorite thing to eat,” I smiled as I picked one up with my chopsticks.

“What about rice?”

“Yea… rice too. And japchae,” I laughed.

“It’s a wonder your face doesn’t look like a mandu,” he teased.

“Why do you and Jae Joong crack the same jokes?” I pouted.

“We do? It comes from living together for years. You really start rubbing off each other,” he said.

“Don’t see Skye and Shoei rubbing off me,” I said; my mouth full with mandu and noodles.

“That’s cos you’ve got stronger character. So you rub off them. On Skye at least, since Shoei has not changed at all. He’s still quiet and reserved.”

“But eloquent when speaking in public.”

“That he is… so why wasn’t he made leader?” Yun Ho asked.

“Cos I’m older,” I said, slurping another mouthful of noodles.

“You’ve got sauce on your face,” Yun Ho laughed.

“Where?” I asked as I swiped a napkin around my face.

“On the left,” Yun Ho pointed, and I tried again.

“Got it?”

“Nope,” he said. “Here… let me,” he took the napkin out of my hand and reached forward to wipe the sauce off for me.

“Komapda,” I said, and I went back to eating.

For that brief moment our fingers brushed each others’ and for the brief moment his fingers grazed my cheek, I revisited some long buried emotions. I was loyal to Jae Joong and I loved him more than anyone in the world, but sometimes, Yun Ho still had the power to touch my heart. Perhaps that when you’ve loved someone, they will always occupy a space in your heart, no matter how long it has been, the memories of those feelings will always be there.

Yun Ho and I hadn’t parted on bad terms, just bad circumstances. In a way, you could say that we did not make a clean break like most couples do. We just walked away from each other, and in my case, I walked towards Jae Joong. Maybe if he had someone else, he wouldn’t still hang on to our memories. Then again, I have Jae Joong, and yet I still think about the past. Could it be that humans can never let go of their past?

We recorded late into the night, until about 10pm. Dinner was delivered to the studio again, and we ate quickly before continuing. During one take, I accidentally burped into the microphone. The producer cut the music and everyone was looking at me with odd expressions.

“Choesonghamnida,” I smiled sheepishly, and Yun Ho burst out laughing.

“I would expect me to do that, not you,” he said.

“I’d been holding it for sometime. I ate too quickly just now and it made my stomach gassy,” I explained, as I started to feel a little embarrassed.

“It sounded so cute,” he laughed. “Hyung,” he said to the producer, “can we include that in the song?”

“Michoso,” I exclaimed and I smacked him on the arm.

“No,” the producer smiled. “Let’s try again.”

“The burp?” Yun Ho asked, and laughed again.

“The song,” the producer said, still smiling, and his lips were twitching from trying not to laugh.

When we got home, the guys won’t home yet, and so was Jae Joong.

“They must be at a taping,” Yun Ho said as he took off his shoes to put on his slippers.

“I’ll shower first,” I said.

“Sure,” he replied. “I’ll be in the workroom.”

I rummaged through the bag I’ve yet to unpack since there wasn’t much space in the wardrobe anyway, and pulled out my pajamas. As I turned to walk out of the room, I could hear voices in the living room; the guys were back.

“That’s not how you do it,” Chang Min said as Jun Su danced part of their choreographed routine.

“What do you mean that’s now how I do it? I got it right!” Jun Su said.

“You don’t have the right expression,” Chang Min said and he copied Jun Su’s moves but with an exaggerated expression, meant to imitate Jun Su’s seriousness when performing.

“Ya… I don’t look like that,” Jun Su exclaimed.

“Did I say I was imitating you?” Chang Min said gleefully.

“Hey guys,” I cut in, as I walked towards them.

“Sierra,” Chang Min greeted me.

“You’re home early,” Jun Su said.

“You’re home late. I’m home at a decent time,” I smiled.

“If only the times we came home weren’t so indecent,” Yoo Chun said as he walked out of the kitchen.

“With you, Yoo Chun… nothing is ever decent,” Jae Joong said as he followed Yoo Chun.

“Brace yourselves,” Jun Su said as I walked towards Jae Joong.

“Tough day?” Jae Joong asked me as he leant down to kiss me on the lips.

“I survived. Looks like you did too,” I smiled.

“My virgin eyes,” Chang Min wailed for effect as he walked to his room.

“You know… this is getting a little old,” Yoo Chun said as he followed behind Chang Min. “How long are you going to continue to be a virgin? It’s getting annoying,” he carried on until the door was closed it all we could hear were mumbles.

“I’ll be in the workroom,” Jun Su smiled, and he walked away from us.

“I was gonna shower,” I said as I put an arm around his waist.

“Go then,” he said. “I’ll shower after you,” he said as he kissed the top of my head. “Hmm… you need to wash your hair,” he wrinkled his nose.

“I do not smell that bad,” I said indignantly.

“How would you know if you can’t sniff your own head?” he asked me.

“If I can’t smell it without sniffing my own head, it is definitely not as bad.”

“That’s what you think,” he laughed.

“Hey… be serious. Does my hair really stink?” I pouted.

“Aniyo… go shower before it gets worse,” he laughed as he steered me towards the bathroom.

“You’re mean…” I pretended to sob as I walked into the bathroom and closed the door.

I snuck into the workroom Jun Su shared with Chang Min and Yoo Chun while Jae Joong was showering. Jun Su was engrossed with his composing that he didn’t hear me enter the room. I waited for him to stop playing on the keyboard and stop the recording, then I slapped him on the back.

“Yah!” I yelled, and he jumped.

“Darn these LCD screens…” he laughed. “I can’t see you coming from behind.”

“Don’t you miss those primitive CRT computer screens,” I asked Jun Su as I sat down in Chang Min’s chair and rolled over towards him.

“Nope… I love my LCD screens… especially my 19-inch screen,” he winked.

“Stop bragging,” I laughed and threw the stuffed bear in their workroom at him. “You’re working again? Don’t you feel tired?”

“I had something I wanted to record down before I forgot,” he smiled as he hugged the bear I’d tossed at him.

“Ah… Yea… I do that too, sometimes. It’s horrible when you forget what you wanted to record or write.”

“Yoo Chun is still leading,” Jun Su said.

“You mean he still has the most songs written?”

“He writes like a maniac… we can never catch up,” Jun Su laughed.

“I bet you’re close behind.”

“Not that close… so how’s your day?”

“Recording all day with Yun Ho. In a few more days, we’re gonna have to learn the dance routine. I hope I can pick it up.”

“You can always get hyung to teach it to you over the weekend.”

“We’re probably going to work this weekend anyway,” I sighed.

“Don’t feel so bad. Being this busy only means you are successful,” he said as he patted my back affectionately.

“You’re right,” I smiled at him. “I should be thankful I’m busy.”


“Don’t you want to shower?”

“Chang Min’s supposed to tell me when he’s done. That boy probably got sidetracked by supper,” he smiled.

“I should probably go to bed,” I said. “Another long day tomorrow.”

“Yea, go on,” he said. “See you in the morning.”

“Right,” I smiled.

“It’s nice having you stay over for the month,” he said.

“Why? Aren’t I crowding you guys?”

“Nah… it’s nice to see a different face in the morning. I’ve been looking at the same 4 faces for the past 5 years,” he laughed.

“Gotcha,” I laughed, and I walked out.

“Where were you?” Jae Joong asked me as I entered the room.

“In the workroom with Jun Su,” I said as I lay down next to him.

“You guys up to no good again?” he said as he pulled me close to cuddle.

“Mmmhmm…” I murmured as I pulled his arms tighter around me.

I guess I was really tired. As soon as I closed my eyes, and I had only intended to relax for a moment, I fell asleep.

“Wake up,” I heard a voice say as the person nudged me softly.

I opened my eyes, sort of groaned, and saw Jae Joong sitting on the foot of the bed.

“G’morning,” I said, in an almost inaudible whisper.

“Someone really blacked out last night,” he smiled.

“I didn’t know what happened either. I was just closing my eyes to relax, and I fell asleep,” I laughed.

“Twaeji…” he smiled and he reached forward to tweak my nose.

“Ya…” I whined and rubbed my nose.

“Come on… time to wake up,” he said as he stood up.

As usual, he was already dressed. He wore a pair of worn, faded jeans and a sleeveless shirt that clung to his body, showing of his toned muscles. I watched as he moved around his room picking up and putting on accessories; his earrings, rings, bracelets and necklace.

“Help me up…” I called out to him lazily.

He turned around and laughed softly, then he walked towards me and pulled me up by my outstretched arms.

“Twaeji,” he said softly, and kissed me on the forehead. “Hurry up,” he added before walking out of the room.

As we did yesterday, Yun Ho and I headed to the studios together and we dived straight into work. ‘Ice Box’ wasn’t perfect yet, and we had today to perfect it before we moved on to the next song. By nightfall, we’d have sung the song for maybe 30 times, and we were still working on it.

“That bit was too slow Sierra,” the producer said. “You were slurring the words a little. Let’s take a break.”

We’d been at it for more than 10 hours and I was almost cracking. I don’t know how Yun Ho does it, but he never looks tired.

“Let’s go get a drink,” Yun Ho said.

“I brought some warm honey today,” I said.

“Let’s drink it outside then,” he said. “We need to get out of this room.”

I picked up the flask I’d brought with me, and we walked out of the control room. He must be really stressed today and I could hear it in his voice, even if he didn’t show it on his face, especially in front of the producers.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Chapter 97: 내가 허락할 테니 (Love Is Never Gone)

[Sierra’s POV]

It’s the week where Yun Ho and I will start on our collaboration together. I woke up this morning and Jae Joong was already up, so was the entire house. I stretched as I turned to look at the clock. 8am! Why didn’t he wake me? What happened to my alarm?

I got up, quickly ran a comb through my hair and straightened out my outfit before I walked out of the room. I now lived with 5 guys, not just 2, and most of them have not seen what I looked like without a shower and a comb.

“G’morning!” Jun Su greeted perkily from the dining table.

“Why didn’t anyone wake me?” I asked.

“We’re all vying for the bathroom, so we thought that you should be last so that you won’t be harassed. You don’t know what it’s like to be in the middle of shampooing your hair and some mad man bangs on your door, demanding that you get out of the bathroom immediately,” he laughed.

“I heard that,” Chang Min chipped in from the sofa. He was watching the television while wolfing down his breakfast.

“Where’s Jae Joong?” I asked them.

“He’s in the shower now,” Jun Su said.

“Yun Ho?”

“He’s ready, and tinkering around in the workroom. Here comes Yoo Chun,” he laughed.

“Hello Hamtaro,” Chang Min said, and it took Yoo Chun awhile to realize that I now lived with them. He’d walked out of his room with just his Hamtaro boxers on.

“Yaaahhh!!!” he yelled and ran back into his room.

“How many pair of cute boxers does that guy own?” I asked them.

“Dunno… he gets a year’s supply from fans each birthday. We lost count,” Chang Min laughed.

“This is gonna take some getting used to,” Yoo Chun said as he came out of his room again, this time wearing a pair of shorts over his cute boxers.

“You didn’t have to,” I smiled. “Hamtaro’s adorable,” I laughed.

“I was just concerned about your eyes,” he grinned and he padded into the kitchen to get his breakfast.

“Aren’t you hungry, Sierra?” Chang Min asked me.

“I’ll grab a bite at the studios,” I said.

“Next!” Jae Joong yelled as he walked out of the bathroom.

“G’morning,” I smiled as I walked up to him and kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Morning, baby,” he smiled.

“My virgin eyes…” Chang Min wailed dramatically.

“Shikkeureoptta,” Jae Joong laughed and we walked into his room hand in hand.

“Did you turn off my alarm?” I asked him as soon as he closed the door.

“I did. I was gonna wake you when I was done showering.”

“You know I need time to wake up. I had like 2 alarms lined up.”

“Yea… I was gonna wake you, and by the time you actually wake up, everyone would be done.”

“And I’d be late.”

“No you wouldn’t. I would’ve timed it perfectly.”

“Right…” I rolled my eyes.

“And if you don’t move now, you’re gonna be late,” he said.

I quickly picked out an outfit and walked out of the room, into the bathroom. It was still steamy and smelt of the soap Jae Joong used. Exactly how he always smells after he’d taken a bath. I showered quickly and got dressed, did my hair, applied minimal makeup and I was ready to go.

“Ready?” Yun Ho asked as he looked up from the newspaper he was reading.

I was riding with him to the studios since we’re headed to the same location. The rest of TVXQ had their own schedules waiting for them.

“Yea,” I said, and we walked out of the apartment. But before I did, I zipped in to catch Jae Joong for a quick kiss.

“See you later,” he said.

“Later,” I smiled, and kissed him one more time before I ran out to join Yun Ho.

“Slept well?” Yun Ho asked me as we drove out of the apartments’ compound.

“Not too bad,” I said.

“You and Jae Joong seemed to have caught up with lost time,” he said.

“Not quite, but we’re getting there,” I said.

“I just want to say that I’m happy for the both of you,” he said.


“I just want everyone to be happy,” he added.

“I know you do, Yun Ho. You’ve always wanted that for every one of your friends.”

“Be good to each other, araji,” he said.

“Nae,” I smiled.

We arrived at the studios and the first task on the agenda was to run through the activities for the collaboration.

1. Record the song
This was to be finished within the week. There were 2 songs, and both would be sung in English, a first for Yun Ho. The lyrics of Ice Box would be modified to accommodate the duet, while the other song, To Be Your Love was written as a duet, and would require no modification.

2. Dance training for the MV
Yun Ho and I would be spending all our free time rehearsing for the MV of Ice Box, of which more than 50% will consist of dancing. We had to learn the routine in 3 days, and be ready to shoot the MV by the middle of the 2nd week into the project.

3. Shooting the MV
There will be a short script in addition to the dancing, which we have to have memorized. The filming has been scheduled for the later half of the 2nd week of the project.

4. Photo shoot for the CD sleeve
This could be done in parallel with the MV, maybe on the same day, or the day before so ensure the costumes were in pristine condition.

5. Promotional activities
This would include a press conference, stamping session, live performances, and a short tour around the country.

All in all, this was a very rushed project with a target for completion in less than a month.

“If anyone can do it here at SM, it’s you and Yun Ho. Both of you have huge reputations to live up to,” hyung had said.

We started off the day by recording Ice Box. This song was originally sung by the American artiste, Omarion. We took the song and changed the lyrics a little so that we could sing it as a duet. The introduction beat has been softened but still retaining the tempo of the original, and Yun Ho sang the first line.

Yun Ho: Fussin' and fightin', we back at it again
I know that, its my fault, but you don't understand
I got memories, this is crazy
You ain't nothing like the girl I used to know

Good with ma, good with pa, cool with all my brothers
I should try to decide, wanna let you in, but no
That means memories, and its crazy
You ain't nothing like the girl I used to know

Yun Ho: Girl I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin'
Sierra: And I really hope you still want me the way I want you
Yun Ho: I said I really wanna work this out, damn girl I'm tryin'
Sierra: Its no excuse, no excuse

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold

Sierra: Why can’t you get it right, just cant let it go
(You said) I opened up, she let me down, I wont feel that no more
I got memories, this is crazy
You ain't nothing like the girl I used to know

I don't mean to take it out on you baby but I cant help it
Cause my heart is in the same ol' condition that baby left it
And I, I apologize, for makin' you cry
Look me in my eye and promise you won't do me the same, you said…

Yun Ho: Girl I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin'
Sierra: And I really hope you still want me the way I want you
Yun Ho: I said I really wanna work this out, damn girl I'm tryin'
Sierra: Its no excuse, no excuse

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold

Yun Ho: I don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep your eye on me girl
Sierra: You don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep my eye on you boy
Yun Ho: I don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep your eye on me girl

Sierra: You don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep my eye on you boy
Yun Ho: I don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep your eye on me girl
Sierra: You don't wanna be stuck up in this cold cold world
Don't wanna mess this up better keep my eye on you boy

Yun Ho: Girl I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin'
Sierra: And I really hope you still want me the way I want you
Yun Ho: I said I really wanna work this out, damn girl I'm tryin'
Sierra: Its no excuse, no excuse

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You got this icebox where your heart used to be]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold

Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (but I got this)
[Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold]
Yun Ho: I got this icebox where my heart used to be (said I got this)
[Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
[Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold]
Yun Ho: I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold, I'm so cold
[Sierra: You’re so cold, you’re so cold, you’re so cold]

Yun Ho: Girl I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin'
[Sierra: Boy I really wanna work this out, cause I'm tired of fightin']

Yun Ho and I removed our earphones as the music ended. It was our first complete run through of the song. The song was so powerful and poignant that you could see it mirrored in our expressions even after the song had ended.

I turned to look at the producer and engineer in the control room and they gave us the thumbs up. It was a good take, but we’d probably have to do it a few times. We left the recording booth and sat in the control room with the producer and engineer to run through our recording.

“This was a good take,” the producer said. “I can hear the raw emotions conveyed in this song, but the pitch here,” he said as a part of the chorus we sang played, “needs some work. We’ll need to do this a few more times.”

“Nae,” Yun Ho and I said.

“And your pronunciation for some of the more complex words, Yun Ho” he added. “You need to work on them, and try not to slur your words so much. I know you’re trying hard to suppress your accent. Just practice a little bit more.”

“Nae,” Yun Ho said.

“Sierra… you’re fine overall, but you need to control your pitch at the end of each line because you went off on several occasions.”

“Alright,” I replied.

“I can already see this whole project coming together nicely,” the producer said. “We’ll wrap up the recording of this song by tomorrow morning, and move to the 2nd song tomorrow afternoon. Any problems?”

“Animida,” the both of us replied.


We spent the rest of the day recording, working hard to achieve the perfect pitches, tone and mood for the song. By the end of the day, I’ve never felt more exhausted. It wasn’t just because it was physically taxing the way we kept at it, but the way this song is set, and Yun Ho’s presence; somehow, this song was affecting me emotionally.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chapter 96: A Whole New World

A few hours later, the plane landed in the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. I was picked up by a representative and brought straight to the set where Vanness and the rest of the crew were already getting ready to film the program.

“Skye, right?” Vanness looked up from his script to acknowledge me as I walked in.

I’d met Vanness on a few occasions but most of the time we’ve only exchanged nods and smiles.

“One and only,” I smiled back.

“Vanness Wu,” he introduced himself as he stood up to shake my hand. “We’re gonna have a great time, partner.”

I went straight to hair and makeup and met up with Vanness on the set after being given time to scan through the script. The program was to be hosted in 3 languages; English, Korean and Mandarin. Vanness already spoke some Korean. In fact, he knew more Korean than I knew Mandarin.

Today, we were filming the promotional clip that would be advertising our show, and then we were going to head straight into the first episode. The director positioned us in front of a green backdrop; special effects and graphics would be added later on. After giving us brief instructions on the direction of the shoot, in Mandarin, he went to sit in his director’s chair and yelled ‘Action!’. Thankfully, Vanness gave me a brief translation before we began, or I’d have spaced out the moment the cameras started rolling.

Vanness: Da jia hao! Wo shi Vanness Wu Jian Hao.

Skye: Annyeonghaseyo. Skye-imnida

Vanness: Wanna know what’s going on in the South Korean music industry?

Skye: Wanna know what’s going on in the Chinese music industry and also the music industries around Asia?

Vanness: Then tune in to Skye & Vanness’ Now Music!

Skye: Every Thursday, at 8:30pm.

Vanness: We’ll update you on the latest news and tunes.

Skye: And we’ll entertain you with our fresh approach of entertainment news reporting.

Vanness: Only…

Skye & Vanness: On Channel V!

“Cut!” the director yelled. “Good job!” he said.

We actually managed to get it right in one try.

“That was sweet,” Vanness said as we high-fived each other.

“Thanks,” I replied.

“I thought we were gonna have to do it like 10 times before we hit the jackpot.”

“I would say we’re a great team, but that was only the first shot, and I don’t wanna jinx the rest of the shoots,” I laughed.

“Gotcha,” he replied.

The shot for our first episode was thankfully over in a few takes. Vanness was great to work with. He wasn’t too serious, but he was also professional, and he tried his best to help me during the shoot since I was pretty much a newbie when it came to hosting, especially in English. I’ve never been more thankful that my father had sent me to study in America during my teens.

Even before I went to America, I studied in a school in Korea that taught with English as their medium of instruction. My few years in America helped me perfect my accent. It was really a wonder my English hadn’t rusted in the past 6 years. The only people I could practice my English with were nuna and Shoei, and both spoke with a British accent. Nuna’s British accent came from the fact that the English taught in Malaysia was based on the syllabus from the UK, and Shoei’s was from spending 4 years studying in a boarding school in London, before he became a SM trainee. I usually get teased by the both of them for my American accent.

It was dinner time, and Vanness was taking me to the Shilin Night Market; a huge night market that was filled with rows of stalls hawking all sorts of snacks and goodies.

“You’re gonna love it, Skye,” Vanness said as we hopped out of his car. “It’s a little reminiscent of Jong-no.”

“I’m gonna trust you on this one,” I laughed, “since if I get sick or something, you’re gonna be missing a partner.”

“Ah… kwaench’ana,” he said. “I can always call SM to send over another guy,” he laughed.

“Boy… do I feel valued,” I said with a sad expression, and clutching my hand to my chest.

“Just playin’ with ya, man,” Vanness laughed as he slapped me on my back. “Let’s eat,” he said as we strolled towards the entrance of the night market.

The first thing we ate was the ‘small sausage in large sausage’, which was basically a pork sausage wrapped in glutinous rice and char grilled. It’s really like a hot dog, but without a bun.

“Masshisoyo,” I told Vanness.

“You think,” he laughed. “This is only the beginning.”

By the end of our walk, I’ve also eaten oyster omelet, peanut candy, lemon aiyu jelly, and washed them down with pearl tea. The market was really crowded, and people were almost oblivious to Vanness and my presence, which was a good thing, since we could eat in peace.

“You like the omelet?” Vanness asked me as we weaved through the crowd, sipping our pearl tea.

“Nuna tried to make it once,” I said.

“Really? They have it in Malaysia?”

“Apparently they do. But this is definitely nicer than nuna’s,” I laughed.

“How’s the pearl tea?”

“Filling,” I said as I chewed on a ‘pearl’.

Pearl tea was actually a flavoured milky drink with ‘pearls’ made of tapioca flour that gave it a chewy, gelatinous texture. I had a chocolate one, to be on the safe side, while Vanness had lychee.

“So how many years did you spend in the states?” Vanness asked me.

“Just 3 years, then I came back and auditioned with SM, and I got in.”

“Lucky you,” Vanness said. “You must’ve been really young when you were in the USA. What were you studying there?”

“My father just sent me over there to live with some relatives for the exposure. He’d planned for me to finish college there, but I’d told him I wanted to come home.”

“You were planning to audition all along?”

“Yea. I kinda got into music while I was there. Funny… but it was my cousins in America who introduced me to music, playing instruments and going to gigs, so I was thinking… it’s gotta be easier to make it in Korea than in America, so I went back to Kwangju, took a trip to Seoul one Saturday, and auditioned.”

“What about your band mates? I’ve only met them briefly, like I did with you the last time I was in Seoul. I hardly know about them.

“Nuna auditioned in Malaysia, when SM held their first auditions there. Shoei auditioned in the same year I did, but it was with a Japanese agency that referred him to SM.”

“I guess SM had your futures planned out the moment they took you in.”

“Kinda… Shoei and I trained together for 3 years, but nuna arrived during our 3rd year, and we spent almost another year training and recording with her before out debut.”

“You mean she was recruited and debut within a year?”


“Must be tough on her,” Vanness said.

“We knew there was one more person to complete the band, but we never expected nuna to be the one,” I laughed.

“Why is that?”

“We weren’t told if the last member would be a guy or a girl, or where he or she would come from.”

“Until they recruited her.”


“She must have worked her butt off.”

“Yea, she did. Sometimes I feel bad for her, that she didn’t get to train for as long as we did. In some ways, people are harder on her and expect more from her because she’s older and there are people who look down on her because of her lack of training, even when she performs consistently.”

“Same happened for F4.”

“That was your band?”

“Yea… we’re unknown to you eh?”

“Nuna told us that you guys started the tall, pretty boy revolution in Asia,” I laughed.

“She did?” he smiled. “I never thought anyone would remember us, since it’s been so many years.”

“She does… I’ve even heard your songs… Ask For More, Liu Xing Yu…”

“Gawd… don’t remind me.”

“It was cheese alright,” I laughed.

“That’s not the kind of music I make these days.”

“I know. You’re tougher now,” I said.

“But F4 had a hard time, because it all started when we were acting in the series Meteor Garden, then the producers decided to have us sing that Liu Xing Yu song for the series… then somehow it became a whole album.”

“And you were heavily criticized?”

“Let’s just say not every one of us could sing,” he winked.

“Ah… hyung… you shouldn’t badmouth your band mates. You’re setting a bad example for me.”

“From the looks of it, you’re bad enough already, and no thanks to me,” he laughed.

“That’s nuna’s doing. She keeps me on my toes and on guard.”

“I’d love to meet her. Anyone who scares you should be fun,” he said.

“You can always pop by Seoul when our filming is done.”

“Good idea. But I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“I’m sure you can make room. You’re a super star,” I laughed.

“You know it…” he drawled.

After dinner, Vanness dropped me off at the apartments the company had arranged for me.

“Here are the keys,” he said as he tossed them to me. “I heard you got a nice view,” he smiled.

“Hope so,” I replied.

“I’ll see ya in the morning,” he said. “Later,” he added, and he drove off.

I looked at the tag attached to the key; 20-C. 20 floors up… the lift had better not break down. I opened the door and was pleasantly surprised. This was definitely a nice apartment. It was a studio apartment, where you basically have a double bed in the middle of the apartment, a little kitchenette, a bathroom, and a little living area with a couch and television.

I tossed my bag onto the couch and went to lie on the bed. I was pretty wiped out from all the traveling and work I’d done today. To top that off, I’d left home at 7am this morning, and haven’t stopped moving since. I dug out my phone from my pocket and dialed Hae Rin’s number as I admired the night view of Taiwan, looking through the tall windows from my bed. She answered after 2 rings.

“About time,” she complained as soon as she picked up.

“Mianhae,” I said. “I was working all day and I just got to the apartment.”

“They gave you an apartment?”

“It’s cheaper than putting me at a hotel for 1 month. I have a huge bed… you should come over,” I joked.

“Yea… sure. In your dreams,” she laughed.

“So what did you do today,” I asked her.

“The usual… still preparing for my album, releasing another single next week, pining for my boyfriend.”

“Pine eh?”

“Yea… tragic, isn't it?” she giggled.

“You’re such a drama queen,” I laughed.

“Me? Anieyo… I’m a very rational and sensible girl,” she giggled again.

“Michoso,” I laughed. “I went for dinner with Vanness.”

“Vanness Wu? Ya!!! Get me his autograph!!!” she squealed.

“Araso… calm down. I will, before I leave Taiwan,” I said.

“You had better not forget,” she said, and I could imagine her pouting like she always does. It made me miss her even more.

“Araso…” I said. “I’ve got to go get ready for bed now. I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”

“Nae,” she said. “Pogoshipo…”

“Na tto…” I said. “Good night. Saranghae,” I added.

“Saranghae,” she said, and she hung up.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Chapter 95: 너희들것이니까 (I wish...)

We were halfway through the game, which my father was losing, when the doorbell rang.

“That must be Shouji and Reika,” my mother said as she walked out to open the door.

If anyone ever met Shouji and me at the same time, they would think we were brothers. We shared most of the same features, and we were both tall and had athletic builds. The only difference now was that he’d gained some weight, probably because he was happily married.

“Shoei!” he exclaimed as he walked into the living room.

“Shouji!” I smiled and we hugged. “Look at you!” I laughed.

“Yes… my belly’s growing out really well, don’t you think?” he laughed.

“I was going to say that you looked more distinguished, but never mind,” I laughed.

“You remember Reika,” he said as he introduced his wife.

I’d missed their wedding, and I’d only met Reika once, back when they were still dating.

“Yes,” I smiled. “Is that Arisa?” I said, referring to the baby in Reika’s arms.

“Yes,” Shouji said. “Meet your niece, Arisa.”

“Would you like to hold her?” Reika asked me.

“Can I?”

“Sure?” she smiled as she transferred Arisa into my arms.

She was so little; her features were so exquisite, and her skin so soft and fair. I was in love with this baby. It made me want a child of my own.

“Shoei’s always been good with babies,” my mother said wistfully.

“Yea… I’m 2 years older and he used to take care of me,” Shouji laughed.

“That’s because I’m responsible,” I said. “Your father was such a klutz,” I whispered to Arisa.

“Can you not spoil the impression my daughter has of me?” Shouji said.

“She has to know the truth,” I laughed.

“You boys go ahead and chat, I’ll take Arisa with me,” my mother said.

I handed Arisa over to my mother. Anyone could see from the gleam in her eyes, how much she wanted to hold the baby, and we dare not deprive her of it.

“Would you like some tea, Reika?” my mother asked.

“Sure,” Reika said. “I’ll help you make the tea.”

“I’ll be in my study, reading,” my father said. “You boys catch up.”

Most people must be wondering what sort of a Japanese family I’d come from. My family was one of the rare, westernized sort of family. My mother respected my father’s position as the head of the family, and he respected her role in taking care of the home, without stereotypically oppressing her, as most people would expect a Japanese man to. This was the same with my uncle, Shouji’s father, but during those days when my grandfather was around, he expected my grandmother to be the obedient, submissive wife, as most Japanese men used to and many still do.

My aunt and my mother enjoyed a freedom that my grandmother didn’t during her youth, and my grandfather never really approved of it, but had no choice since my father and uncle persisted on behaving in that manner. As such, Shouji and I were brought up with the same mentality; while women may never be equal to men in the eyes of the society, we should do our best to take care of them and allow them room to grow as individuals, and in our eyes, they are our equals. Because of this mentality, Reika still works as a newspaper editor, instead of staying home to cook and clean.

“How’s life as an idol?” Shouji asked me.

“It’s gets dull after awhile,” I laughed. “But I’m enjoying it.”

“I can remember those days when we used to plan on working side by side at the firm when we grew up, find ourselves beautiful wives, play golf together.”

“And then I decided I wanted to be a singer.”

“I always suspected that you had something gay going on with you,” he joked.

“Hey… watch it. Singing is not gay.”

“Whatever,” he laughed, and I punched his arm. “You look good.”

“I’m paid to look good,” I replied.

“Right you are… I heard your band is doing really well.”

“We’d finally hit the jackpot this time. Our album is finally selling the way the company wants it to.”

“You must be really busy?”

“I am. I’ll be heading back to Tokyo first thing tomorrow. I have a shoot with Mika Nakashima.”

“She’s pretty hot,” he said. “Can you get me an autograph?”

“I’ll tell Reika you said that,” I threatened.

“Aww… come on. It’s really for Reika.”

“Right…” I smirked, and we laughed.

Shouji had been my best friend all my life. I’d been a lonely only child and he’d always been there with me. It’s hard to imagine my life, my childhood, without remembering the times we spent together.

“How’s Yume?”

Yume was Shouji’s sister.

“She’s having fun, backpacking around Europe.”

“Still backpacking? I thought she was backpacking since last year.”

“She came back for a few months and left again.”


“My father paid for her air ticket, and that was all he paid for.”

“She’s crazy,” I laughed.

“Tell me about it. I don’t know how she manages to support herself while on these trips.”

“She has her ways. She’s always been independent.”

Even when we were children, when the 3 of us played together, you could see Yume’s strong, independent character. She would want a part in all our activities, be it cycling around the neighborhood, taking walks through the woods near my grandfather’s estate or even our basketball games with the other boys. But you couldn’t call her a tomboy, because when she cleaned up and put on a dress, she was always feminine and poised. I guess this was something you had to be born with.

“So… how about that girl you’ve been trying to win over? The one in your emails,” Shouji said.

“I think I’m ready to let go,” I replied.

“You? Let go? That’s not like the Shoei I used to know.”

“If you saw my competition, you would.”

“What’s one guy?”

“There are two,” I said grimly. “And she has a history with the both of them. I can start finding myself a new love to pine for.”

“Right… I guess you should. If it’s just you or the other fella, you have a fair chance, but to have one more in the wings, that’s a bit tricky. Unless…”


“You intend to marry her or something, then she could be worth fighting for.”

“Even if I win her now, we won’t get married. I see no point in forcing her to change her mind, cos when I do, then what? What am I supposed to do after that? Where are we heading to? Our futures are vague at the moment, and all we can do now is to focus on our careers.”

“You have a point,” he nodded.

“I always do,” I smiled.

“But if you really want her, I would still advise you to try again. Maybe not now… give it sometime, and if you still feel the same, try again. That way, you won’t have any regrets since you’ve tried.”

“I’ll think about it. Thanks, Shouji,” I said.

“Hey… what are brothers for,” he smiled.

The next morning, I had to leave for Tokyo at 6am. My mother woke up at 5am and prepared breakfast for me before I left.

“Eat more,” she said. “It’s going to be sometime before you come back again.”

I felt like crying when she said it. Now I know why nuna never wanted to go home. It was harder to leave when you came back after such a long time. When you stay away, you make do with the homesickness, and the feeling dulls away. Coming back reminds you how much you missed home, and how painful it was to leave it again.

My parents walked me to the gate and watched as I got onto the taxi.

“Take care of yourselves,” I said as I hugged the both of them.

“Take care of you,” my father said. “Your mother and I will be fine.”

“Come back whenever you have the time,” my mother said, her eyes slowly tearing, just like she had when I first left home 6 years ago.

“I will,” I smiled, and I got into the taxi.

Tears flowed down my cheeks as soon as the taxi departed. I missed my home and family, but I had never shown them my tears. Someday I will be back. When I’ve had the success and career I wanted, I will come back to Japan, and hopefully, by then, I would have also found someone to love, and who loved me back.

[Skye’s POV]

“Call me every day, araji?” Hae Rin said as we walked towards the departure gates.

She’d sneaked out to see me off today, since I wouldn’t be around for a whole month, even though I would be coming back to attend certain events, but would probably be too busy to meet up with her. Shoei had left on an earlier flight, and I have about 2 hours more before boarding mine.

“Are you sure your manager’s not gonna catch on with you running out like this?” I asked her.

“You’ll be long gone by the time he finds me, it’ll be fine,” she said as she hugged me around the waist.

“If you say so,” I smiled, and I pinched her cheek.

“Yah! Appuh!” she grumbled as she rubbed her cheek.

“Take care of yourself, alright?” I said as I turned to face her.

“I’ll be fine,” she smiled. “It’s not like you’re around me 24/7. I can cope without you.”

“So you don’t need me?” I asked her as I raised my eyebrows.

“I do… I need your love. But I don’t necessarily need you to be with me physically, all the time. I’ll be fine.”

I felt bad leaving her on her own. True, I’m not always physically there for her, but I would love to be. And she wasn’t like nuna. It's not that nuna wasn’t independent, but she allowed you to see that she needed you. Hae Rin was the kind of girl who would never let you see her vulnerabilities, unless she wanted to. Right now, I know I would miss her, and I know she would miss me, but she was being brave about it.

“Sometimes… I wish you would be a little more needy,” I laughed.

“To stroke your ego?” she giggled. “Fat chance! Your ego is big enough as it is. We don’t need you exploding.”

“At least allow me to feel like a man, your man, once in awhile. You’re making me feel like the girl just cos I wanna be with you more often.”

“Hey… I’m here today, aren’t I? You make it sound like I’ve never said that I wanted to see you, ever.”

“Yes, yes… it’s my fault. It’s because I do it automatically, without you asking, so I’m blaming you. You need to be a bit quicker you know,” I said, and she stuck her tongue out at me.

“You’re crazy,” she said, and she sat done on a nearby bench.

“You’ll have to forgive me today,” I said. “I’m a bit emotional since I’ll be leaving Korea for such a long time.”

“Didn’t you use to study overseas?”

“That was so many years ago.”

“You’ll be back at interval…”

“Yea… but it sucks.”

“You’re gonna do a show with Vanness Wu. I would kill to go in your place.”

“Aha! So you’re admitting that you like how he looks. You want me to look like him.”

“Of course not, oppa. I love your body, I love your face, I love your hair… I wouldn’t trade you for a million Vanness’,” she laughed.

“Good,” I laughed, and I kissed her.

“You’d better go,” she said. “Or you’re gonna miss your flight.”

“Come with me,” I said as I dragged her with me towards the departure gate.

“Sure… and then the management would know and split us up for good,” she replied.

“Party pooper,” I grumbled.

“I’ll see you soon,” she smiled and she stood on tiptoes, while I bent down so that we could share a kiss.

“Take care of yourself,” I said as I hugged her tightly.

“Araso…” she smiled.

I walked into the departure hall, towards the customs. Halfway there I turned to wave, and she waved back. The next month is going to be difficult for me.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Chapter 94: 여우비(Like weather…)

“Look what you’ve done,” I giggled as I put my arms around Jae Joong.

“What did I do?”

“You chased our roomies away.”

“Ignore them. We’re gonna enjoy ourselves for the entire month.”

“Enjoy?” I exclaimed. “This is going to be my busiest month yet; rehearsals for the routine for the MV, and recording the songs, and finally the MV filming. Then in about 2 weeks, we’re gonna be promoting that single we did with Hee Chul.”

“Aigoo, aigoo… our Sierra is a star now. Look at her busy schedule,” he teased.

“Don’t use that ajumma tone on me,” I laughed as I tweaked his nose.

Just then, we heard the front door open, and Yun Ho walked in, twirling his keys on his finger as he did.

“Yun Ho, waseo!” Jae Joong said.

“Oh… what are you guys up to?” he said as he took in the entire scene of me sitting on Jae Joong’s lap on a couch that could seat 2 people.

“Just chillin’,” Jae Joong replied.

“Where are the rest?” Yun Ho asked.

“In the workrooms... but I suspect they’re actually hiding somewhere, with a video camera.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

“Last night, the guys threatened to film you and me and send it to the tabloids.”

“Better be on your guard,” Yun Ho laughed. “Got all your stuff here?” he asked me, and I nodded. “Let’s go out for dinner tonight,” he said.

“What’s the occasion?” I asked him.

“To welcome our new roommate,” he smiled.

“If you insist,” I smiled back.

“I do…” he said. “I’m gonna go take a shower,” he said, and he walked off.

Did I make the wrong decision here? It’s not going to be easy living with the both of them under the same roof, and sleeping in the same room. But it was too late now, and since they’d insisted, I couldn’t refuse. Not when they had my best interests at heart, and I didn’t really want Jae Joong to have to zip around Seoul in his car just because he wanted to take care of me.

The 6 of us had dinner as this Italian bistro about 15 minutes away from their apartment. You would never cease to be surprised with the amount Chang Min eats. Even before we left the apartment, he’d been snacking, and now he was having a 3-course dinner.

“Can I have your DNA mapped into my body?” I asked Chang Min.

“What for?” he said as he happily chomped on his appetizer.

“So that I can eat like you and still stay slim.”

“But then you’d have to grow upwards like me, and Jae Joong hyung would be too short for you. Would you date me then?” he laughed, and sort of snorted.

Everyone at the table laughed except for Jae Joong, who was trying hard to look annoyed, but his lips were twitching, betraying him.

“Chang Min… it would be a huge sin if I dated you,” I grimaced. “You’re like… 5 years younger than I am. No way…”

“Are you saying I’m not mature enough?” he said, puffing up his chest to display some male dominance. “Not man enough for you?”

“Of course not,” I laughed. “You’re very manly. Calm down… I just don’t think you’re the right guy for me.”

“Yea… you have Jae Joong hyung, the perfect man,” he sniffed, and turned his attention back to his food. "Even if he's a little lacking in the height department," he couldn't resist adding.

I squeezed Jae Joong's hand, urging him to ignore Chang Min, and he just sighed and rolled his eyes. I knew how often they crossed words. Even if it was in good fun and they'd usually forgotten it by the next day, I didn't want to witness them fighting.

“You want to finish my soup for me?” I asked Chang Min, and he nodded.

“Chang Min is going to miss you when you go back to your apartment,” Jae Joong laughed.


“We usually don’t have any food for him to help with.”

“Oh…” I giggled. “I just don’t feel particularly hungry today. I usually finish my food. You know that.”

“So why don’t you feel hungry today?”

“Because she and hyung have not had their ‘exercise’,” Yoo Chun said suggestively.

“Exercise?” Jun Su said in a puzzled tone.

“How can they ‘exercise’ when we’re around?” he added for good measure.

“Ooh…” Jun Su laughed. “That kind of ‘exercise’.”

“Yah!!!” I protested. “What ‘exercise’?”

“This is hardly appropriate dinner conversation,” Yun Ho finally piped in.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Then what else can we talk about?” Jun Su asked.

“I dunno. Anything but that kind of stuff,” Yun Ho said.

“Party pooper,” Yoo Chun muttered as he slurped his soup.

We headed home straight after dinner since we had full schedules ahead of us tomorrow. We’d laid out a futon next to Jae Joong’s bed but decided that we would just sleep on his bed tonight, and hope none of us falls off.

“Are you comfortable?” he asked me as we shifted our bodies on his bed after lying on it, side by side.

“I guess…”

“Come closer,” he laughed softly as he put his arm under my neck.

“Your arm’s gonna be dead tomorrow morning if you do that.”

“I’m fine as long as your head isn’t lying on it. I like it when you’re lying like that when we sleep together.”

“Araso…” I said and I moved closer so that his front was pressing against my back.

“I’m glad you moved in for the month,” he said, and he kissed my shoulder.

“You’re gonna get tired of me now that you're going to see me everyday.”

“Don’t I already see you each day?”

“Not exactly… we’ll see. Good night,” I murmured, and closed my eyes.

“Good night,” he whispered, and he pulled the blankets higher to cover my shoulders.

[Shoei’s POV]

I’m back in Kyoto. I’d been living in Korea since I started training with SM, and it has been more than half a decade since I’d left Japan. It feels weird that my career has brought me home. The taxi stopped right at the doorstep of my parents’ house, and I got out. I wore a pair of dark jeans, and a casual jacket over my sleeveless top.

“Sumimasen, you’re Shoei from S-Cube, aren’t you,” the taxi driver asked me as soon as he had finished helping me unload my luggage.

“Hait,” I replied with a smile.

“Can I please have your autograph? My little girls love you,” he grinned.

“Sure,” I smiled as I intercepted a notebook from him. “What are their names?”

“Norita and Miya,” he said as he looked on.

I signed two pages with my signature and a little message; one for Norita and one for Miya.

“Arigatou,” he bowed as he accepted the booklet from me.

“No problem,” I replied, and rang the doorbell.

“Moshi, mosh,” I heard my mother say.

“Okasan, it’s me,” I said, and the side gate clicked open.

I walked up the long pathway to the front door. As always, the garden was impeccable, thanks to my father’s love for gardening. It’s really a closet hobby of his. No one would expect a famous defense attorney to have a love for gardening. As I approached the front door, I could see both my parents standing at the open door, watching me walk up with my luggage.

“Shoei,” my mother exclaimed happily as she hugged me.

“Okasan,” I replied, as I hugged her back. “Otosan,” I greeted my father, as I turned to hug him.

After the greetings, we walked into the house and my father closed the door behind us.

“Are you hungry?” my mother asked me.

“No…” I said as I dropped my bags in the hallway.

I walked up the corridor to where my grandmother’s picture was placed.

“I’m home,” I said to her.

It’s been almost a year since she passed on, and I still missed her. I still couldn’t believe she was gone, after being there for me all my life. Our family has been through a lot of hardships, despite being successful in keeping the family’s practice. When my grandfather became a judge, many of our relatives gossiped about us, saying that my grandfather was a corrupt judge. When my father became a defense attorney, they said he defended criminals who deserved to put in jail, just for the money.

However, since the success of my career in Korea, they changed their tune. Despite continuing to bad mouth my family, talking about the possibilities of me dabbling in drugs and leading a fast life… these relatives started showing up to ‘patch things up’ with us. All they wanted was the association with our family now that I had a little media fame.

That night, I had dinner at home with my parents. It was a quiet dinner since there was only the 3 of us. I’m the only child they have. My father had been disappointed when I refused to pursue a career in law. He’d hoped that I would help run our family’s law practice once I’d finished my law education. Because I’d decided to become a singer, this role was now given to my cousin, Shouji. He’s the eldest son of my uncle, my father’s younger brother.

“Shouji will be dropping by later,” my mother said as she daintily put a morsel of rice in her mouth.

My mother was an elegant lady. She was the daughter of a politician, and she’d married my father through an arranged marriage made by both my grandfathers. My father always said that she brought class into the family. We were really middle class until my grandfather became a judge, and that was our social status was elevated a little. My mother’s addition to the family put us in a different social circle that my family was used to.

I’m thankful that my mother did not behave like most of her socialite friends did. She was involved in bringing me up, instead of leaving me with a nanny, and she was always there to supervise my schoolwork and always concerned about my social life. Maybe it’s because I was an only child.

“Is he bringing Reika and their baby?” I asked her.

“I think so,” she smiled.

Shouji had married about a year ago, and Reika, his wife, had gotten pregnant almost immediately. My mother’s always writing me emails, asking me to get married soon.

“When will I have my own grandchild?” she smiled.

She knew I would be a little annoyed at the question, and she knew that for me to get married now was impossible, but that was my mother. Despite her elegant and demure appearance, she also had a playful side. My father had often said that she was the perfect wife. She had a beautiful appearance, beautiful character, and great values.

“Come on, Sayako,” my father laughed. “He’s only 23. Marriages at such ages these days rarely last.”

“I know… back in our days… you get married much earlier than that,” she said.

“Back then,” I reminded her.

“Do you have a girlfriend yet?” she pressed on.


“Why not? What about that girl in your group, Sierra. She seems pretty nice.”

“She’s dating Jae Joong from Tohoshinki, remember?” I said.

“Oh… right. That Jae Joong is so beautiful. Such a beautiful boy… He’s really a bishonen,” she remarked.

“Yes he is.”

“I would be worried if you were that beautiful,” my mother said.

“Why is that?”

“Well… it is my perception that men, or boys, should look… boyish.”

“I can assure you that he is very manly,” I laughed. “He’s far from sissy.”

“If you say so,” my mother laughed.

After dinner, my father and I went into the living room for a game of chess while we waited for Shouji and Reika to show up.

“How’s the firm?” I asked him.

My father wasn’t retired yet, but he was slowly grooming Shouji to take his place. When Shouji is ready, my father will stop accepting cases, but will remain as a partner in the firm.

“It’s doing well. Shouji is doing a good job.”

“Better than I would have,” I said.

“No. You had the gift, Shoei. You could’ve done it too. But this is the path you chose.”

“And I don’t regret it.”

“Good. Then I’m happy for you.”

“I didn’t think you would be, in the past,” I said.

“I wasn’t. But seeing you successful and happy now, I am happy for you. I’m proud of you,” he said.

I looked up at my father and smiled. This was the first time he told me he was really proud of what I did. He’d never said that he hated it, but to have him tell me that he was proud of my achievements meant a lot to me. I was glad that I was able to come home today.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Chapter 93: Hey! Girl

“All about me?” I asked MC Mong.

“Hey, sit with us,” Bi said, and we sat down at their table.

Shoei walked off to inform the owner of the restaurant to reserve a table for us and the rest of our party who will be arriving later.

“He’s told me how exceptionally talented you are,” MC Mong said.

“What exceptional talent do I have? I’m just a singer like everyone at this table,” I smiled.

“Well, you do have the presence. I’ll give you that. You’re a breath of fresh air for Korea, and this is just your beginning, from what I see.”

“Beginning?” I laughed. “It’s been 3 years, sonbae.”

“3 years is a short time. You wanna know how many years I spent struggling to get to where I am today?”

“Yea, I know,” I laughed. “I’ve seen you on TV.”

“Anyway, Sierra… I’m glad to have met you today. I’ve just been talking to Bi that I need a fresh female kasu to collaborate with.”

“Fresh? Hahaha…” I laughed. “I’m hardly fresh now. Hae Rin is fresh.”

“I like your voice. It has a distinct quality. It’ll be perfect for my new songs,” he said. “I’ll be contacting your manager,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with you then,” I said.

“Yah… Sierra…” Bi said. “You should buy me dinner since I got you a job. He’s my friend and he didn’t even offer me a part in his next album.”

“No problem. Just give me a call,” I smiled.

“They’re here,” Shoei said as he motioned towards the door where Yun Ho, Jae Joong, Dong Hae and Hee Chul walked in.

When they walked in, the heads of almost every patron at the restaurant turned. It was actually hard to go anywhere with them, since they were so eye-catching. If you wanted to remain inconspicuous, hanging out with those 4 is not the best way to go about it.

“Hyung, over here,” Skye waved.

“We’ll catch up later,” I said as I got up.

“Sure,” Bi smiled as we moved away from their table and sat at ours.

“Hey,” Jae Joong kissed me on the cheek as he sat down beside me.

“What took you guys so long?” I asked him.

“Cinderella here lost a shoe,” Dong Hae said.

“Omo! Nomu chaemin!” Hee Chul exclaimed in a sarcastic falsetto voice, and all of us just cracked up.

“Do that again, hyung,” Skye laughed.

“I don’t do repeat telecasts,” he muttered, and turned his attention to pouring soju.

“What’s up with him today?” I asked Jae Joong.

“Dong Hae was annoying him all the way here,” Jae Joong smiled as he put his arm around me. “How’s work today?”

“Busy, busy, busy, but thankfully, we got off early today. These two are flying off tomorrow, and I get the day off because of that,” I smiled.

“Yea… no fair. I have to rush to the studios once I arrive in Taiwan,” Skye grumbled.

“I get the day off as well, tomorrow. So I’ll probably head back to Kyoto for the day before going back to Tokyo for the shoot,” Shoei said smugly, just to annoy Skye.

“Right… rub it in, will ya. Everyone gets a break but me,” he continued grumbling before he gulped down a shot of soju.

“Well… at least you’re gonna have some fun with Vanness,” I said.

“Of course!” Skye exclaimed. “We can have a bubble bath together and paint each other’s toenails after the show.”

The atmosphere at our table tonight was crazy and somewhat melancholy since the guys would be leaving for the month. I was actually starting to miss them.

“Yun Ho,” Jae Joong said, towards the end of the meal. “I’ll be moving out for the month, to live with Sierra, since she’ll be alone.”

“Are you sure?” Yun Ho asked him. “You’ll have to rush back every time we need to go somewhere together.”

“Kwaench’ana… It’s not like I’ve never done it,” he smiled as he pulled me close for a little cuddle, and I smiled at him.

“Suit yourself then,” Yun Ho said. “You’ll miss out on all the fun while you’re away.”

“Why don’t you move in with them?” Dong Hae said to me.

“With TVXQ?” I said.

“Yea. It’s easier if you moved over. Then Jae Joong wouldn’t have to rush around.”

“There are only 5 beds at their apartment,” Skye said.

“But Jae Joong hyung sleeps on the floor at your place, anyway,” Dong Hae pointed out.

“Good point,” Skye laughed.

“Ah… me? Share a room with Jae Joong and Yun Ho?” I said. “I might get murdered once I step out of the door.”

“Why?” Hee Chul suddenly piped up. He’d been pretty quiet for the past half hour, and it looked like he was starting to warm up now.

“Helloo… it’s bad enough I ‘hog’ Jae Joong. If I have both of them, I will probably be impaled on spikes, or something, by the fans who always hang out below their apartment block.”

“You’re making such a big deal out of it. No one’s out to kill you,” Yun Ho laughed.

“You say that cos no one is gonna kill you for this,” I grumbled.

“We’ll be discreet,” Jae Joong said. “Come on, Sierra. You come over. It’ll be fun. Instead of 2 guys, you get to live with 5.”

“Are you sure your manager won’t object?” I said as I looked at Jae Joong and Yun Ho.

“As long as your manager is fine with it, we can handle ours,” Yun Ho said.

I sighed as I looked back and forth at the both of them. This was going to be some adventure.

“Aissshiii…” I said softly. “Araso… araso… I’ll move.”

“Great,” Jae Joong exclaimed, and he kissed me on my temple.

The next morning, I left the apartment together with Skye and Shoei. The both of them will head to the airport for their flight, and I would be hauling my stuff over to the TVXQ apartment.

“Bye nuna,” Shoei said as he hugged me. “Take care of yourself,” he added.

“I will. Have fun in Japan,” I said.

“I want a hug too,” Skye exclaimed petulantly.

“Come here, you big baby,” I laughed, and he gave me a bear hug.

“Don’t let the guys bully you,” he said.

“You think I would?” I said, my eyebrows raised.

“Of course not,” he laughed.

“See you guys in a month,” Jae Joong called out from his car.

He’d come over to pick me up and take me over to their apartment.

“Bye hyung,” Skye and Shoei waved as they got into their taxi.

“Take care of nuna,” Shoei said, and Jae Joong nodded.

When we arrived at TVXQ’s apartment, Jun Su and Chang Min came out to help with my bags.

“Are you moving here permanently?” Jun Su huffed as he carried my bags in.

“Hey… I need all my stuff. It’s one month, not 1 night,” I protested.

“You can always go back and get the stuff you forgot,” he said.

“Well… since I remembered them all, I don’t have to go back now, do I?” I smiled.

“Did you bring any presents for us?” Chang Min asked as he dumped my bags in Jae Joong and Yun Ho’s room.


“You’re coming over to bunk for a month. It’s only polite to bring a present for you host,” he grinned.

“I’ll send a fruit basket to the management. Since they are the ones paying the rent,” I said, and Chang Min’s face fell.

“Yah… hyung. Take her home,” he said. “She didn’t bring anything for us.”

“Mwo?” Yoo Chun exclaimed as he bounded out of the workroom he shared with Jae Joong and Yun Ho.

“This agasshi here did not bring any gift for her hosts,” Chang Min explained.

“Aww, Sierra…” Yoo Chun whined. “How could you? After all we’ve done to get you here.”

“I wasn’t told that a payment was required,” I laughed.

“Hyung… is this how you educate your girl?” Yoo Chun smirked at Jae Joong.

“Quit teasing her,” Jae Joong said as he put an arm around me.

“Yah… already he’s on her side. He’s no longer one of us,” Jun Su sighed.

I pretended to ignore them as I went into the room and closed the door.

“Yah!!” I heard Jun Su yell. “She’s giving us attitude,” he laughed.

A few seconds later, I opened the door and in my arms, I held boxes of sweets, chocolates and some herbal tonics for the health freaks, Chang Min and Jun Su.

“Looking for these?” I smiled.

“See! I knew she was a smart girl,” Chang Min said happily as he intercepted the gifts from me.

“I had to get Jae Joong to make a detour on the way here just to get these for you guys,” I said.

“Komawo…” Jun Su smiled sweetly at me and Jae Joong.

“These kids…” Jae Joong laughed as he shook his head.

“You kids share the food, alright. Oma’s gonna be a bit busy with appa,” I said and I dragged Jae Joong into his room as the guys howled with laughter at what I just said.

“So I get to be the appa while you’re here,” he smiled as he put his arms around me. “I’m usually the oma.”

“Yep… I’m here to make a man out of you,” I said, and I kissed him.

We emerged from his room sometime later to find all of them sitting in front of the television, still snacking.

“Don’t you guys have work to do?” I asked them as I squeezed between Chang Min and Jun Su on the couch.

“We’re taking a short break. We’re human too, you know. We’re not always gods,” Chang Min said.

“Where’s Yun Ho?” Jae Joong asked the three guys.

“He went out for a bit. Probably to practice at the dance studio. I heard that he has begun choreographing for that collaboration with Sierra,” Yoo Chun said.

“Oh… right? I hope he doesn’t come up with some complicated moves that my old bones can’t take,” I laughed.

“What are you talking about? What old bones?” Jun Su said. “If you’re already old, I’d be old too.”

“You’re still young,” I said and I pinched his cheeks.

“Yah!!” he exclaimed and rubbed his cheeks. “You’re a great dancer Sierra. Don’t worry.”

“I’m gonna go write sommore,” Yoo Chun said as he stood up and stretched.

“I’ll start soon,” Jun Su yawned.

“Get over here,” Jae Joong pointed at me as he sat down where Yoo Chun had been sitting.

“I’m comfortable here,” I smiled slyly.

“You’d better go to him before he beats us up,” Jun Su said in a stage whisper.

“But I like it here. It’s so nice and cozy, sitting between you and Chang Min,” I laughed, and Jae Joong rolled his eyes.

“Yea… since you sat between us, I kinda felt warm and secure,” Chang Min added.

“Yah... Keu saram…” Jae Joong said in a threatening tone.

“Nae juunim,” I said as I got up slowly.

I walked over and stood in front of him, putting my hands on my hips and peering down at him.

“What is your will, master?” I asked.

He responded by pulling me down to sit on his lap.

“Cover your eyes, Chang Min,” Jun Su said, and he put his hands over his eyes.

“My virgin eyes!!!” Chang Min wailed, and the both of them got up and left the room, laughing like hyenas and still covering their eyes with their hands.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Chapter 92: Real Love

I walked out of the studios with Skye and Shoei and we were met with a throng of screaming Seraphs. Among them were screaming Cassiopeians who’d probably anticipated that wherever I was, Jae Joong would eventually show up. We signed a few autographs, took a few pictures and I had to push my way through the crowds, towards Jae Joong’s car.

“Hi!” I said as I plopped down in the passenger seat next to Jae Joong.

“Hey,” he smiled, but refrained from kissing me because his fans were all around.

We try to keep the PDA to a minimum when in the presence of the Cassiopeians since we never know when anyone of them might decide to go berserk. The only time we broke that rule was during one awards show last year.

“Hyung,” Skye and Shoei greeted him as they got in the backseat.

“Where’s your car?” Jae Joong asked Skye.

“It’s somewhere out there. So I need your help to drive me there. All that tugging and pulling from the fans… I’m gonna be naked by the time I get to my car,” Skye laughed.

“No problem,” Jae Joong smiled, and we pulled away from the studio’s doors.

We dropped them off about 200 meters away from the front door, where Skye’s car was parked, and went off on our own.

“How was your day?” Jae Joong asked me as he reached out to hold my hand.

“The usual… did you hear? We won tonight,” I said.

“Yea, I did. Ch’uk’ahamnida,” he smiled. “You guys deserve it.”

“Good thing TVXQ’s album isn’t out yet, or we’d be neck to neck.”

“And we all know who’s gonna win,” he grinned.

“Nugu? I wonder who would win,” I pretended to be clueless.

“S-Cube, of course. Am I right?”

“Right choice… You shall be rewarded later,” I smiled as I pinched his cheek lightly.

“Looking forward to it,” he laughed softly.

As always, because of the late hours, we had a quick dinner, and after that, Jae Joong had a surprise for me.

“Where are we going?” I asked him, when he told me that we weren’t heading home yet.

“Somewhere we haven’t been to in a long time,” he smiled.

“Where? The club? The noraebang?”

“You’ll see when we get there,” he said.

It turned out to be the ice skating rink. I’d almost forgotten the last time we were here. It was our 100th day anniversary, and he’d surprise me by taking me to the ice skating rink after dinner. It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since then, when it felt like time passed in a blink of an eye.

“How did you know I liked skating?” I asked him back then.

“When you insisted on watching those ice skating competitions on the sports channel,” he laughed.

“That’s not very obvious.”

“You wouldn’t let me watch whatever I wanted to watch,” he said.

“Cos I make better choices when it comes to television programs,” I said.

“Araso… araso,” he smiled. “Let’s get some skates on.”

The rink was empty. When we first arrived, there had been a group of hockey players training, but by the time we got our skates on, they were packing up and leaving.

“Don’t tell me you’ve booked the whole rink,” I said as I jumped into the rink and glided across it.

“Is there any way else?”

“This is turning out to be some television drama,” I laughed.

“Yea… and would you find it even more incredulous if I told you that I can’t skate?” he said.

“I wouldn’t believe you,” I replied, eyeing him as he made his way onto the rink.

He glided towards me and braked effortlessly.

“You’re no fun,” he said. “You’re the least gullible girl I know.”

“And that’s why you like me,” I smiled and I skated off.

“Wait up,” he laughed as he chased me around the rink.

I skated faster and faster around the rink, spreading my arms, savoring the brief moment of freedom I felt from gliding across the ice. It felt like I was flying through the air. He finally caught up with me and because I hadn’t skated in sometime, I lost my balance when he grabbed my arm. We fell onto the ice, sliding across the rink on our backs.

“You skate pretty well,” he laughed as we lay there on the ice, side by side.

He was breathing heavily from the little chase we just had.

“Skating is like cycling. Once you’ve learnt it, you remember for life,” I replied, in my own breathless voice.

“You know what?” he said, as he propped himself up on his elbows. “Loving you is the same.”


“To fall in love with you… is to have you in my heart… for life,” he said, as he gazed intensely at me.

I reached a hand out to touch his cheek; his face was warm from the workout we just had. He inched closer and leant his face down to kiss me. So there we were, on our 100th day as a couple, me lying on an ice skating rink, and him on top, as we kissed passionately.

As we skated onto the ice today, I’m reminded on how simple our love was back then. I loved him, and he loved me, simple as that. There was no uncertainty, no distraction, just us. Here we are now, almost a year later, trying to recover those lost feelings, the very essence that sparked our love for each other.

We skated across the ice silently, hand in hand. When we reached the center of the rink, he twirled me around, and I giggled. It’s been a long time since I actually felt nervous when on a date with him. The old butterflies were back tonight.

“Did I make a good choice? Coming here?” he asked me.

“Hmm…” I smiled, as I skated backwards, away from him.

“Where are you going?” he smiled as he skated forward, towards me, like a predator on a prowl.

I smiled enigmatically and started to circle the rink slowly; my back facing the walls, and all the time keeping my eyes on him as he stood in the center, watching me. It wasn’t until the third time I circled the rink that he started to move forward, and that’s when I skated faster, so that he had to chase me.

I laughed as I turned to see if he was catching up, and I continued skating away from him, but he soon caught up, and this time, we didn’t fall. He pulled me into an embrace, and we kissed as we allowed ourselves to slowly glide to a stop. As we kissed, he guided me slowly until my back was against the barriers around the rink, and he pinned me to it, pressing his body against mine.

“Let’s leave,” he whispered, as he continued to kiss me.

“Okay,” I replied, and we shared one more lingering kiss before we pulled away to skate off the rink.

As soon as we got into my room, we were ripping each others’ clothes off as we continued to kiss heatedly. All that fighting and being apart had definitely fueled our passions.

“You’re such an animal tonight,” I laughed, as Jae Joong practically threw me onto the bed when we were done undressing.

“You’re driving me crazy,” he said as he kissed me slowly now, trying to control the pace.

“I guess we should fight more often then?” I asked him as I pulled him closer, wanting to feel his weight on me.

“Not so often. Once in awhile is fine,” he said. “As long as this is the outcome, I’ll be glad to fight with you,” he laughed.

Sometime later, we lay there on my bed, feeling more contented than we’d ever been for a long time.

“Go to sleep,” he said, as he stroked my hair. “You have a long day tomorrow.”

“Mmm…” I responded lazily, as I snuggled closer with my head on his chest.

I closed my eyes and savored the warmth and intimacy of the moment, as I slowly drifted off to sleep.

“Saranghae,” I could hear him whisper, as he pulled the covers up to cover me, and kissed the top of my head.

I tried to stretch as I woke up the next morning, only to find that I’m pinned to the bed, in Jae Joong’s embrace. I smiled as I turned to look at him, tracing his face with my eyes, then I leant forward and kissed him lightly on the nose.

“Wake up,” I whispered softly, and I kissed him on the cheek.

“What time is it?” he mumbled as he stirred, freeing me from his grip.

“Time to wake up,” I replied, and I shifted myself so that I could snuggle up to him comfortably.

He wrapped his arms around me again, and we stayed in that position for awhile; not speaking, not moving, and just relishing the warmth of the embrace. It wasn’t until my alarm rang that I finally stirred.

“I gotta shower,” I yawned as I got up slowly.

“Don’t forget to get dressed first,” he smiled sleepily.

I got off the bed and looked around for Jae Joong’s shirt in the pile of clothes we’d discarded on the floor last night. In the past, I could never survive sleeping in the buff. I would always get cold and wake up in the middle of the night to put on a shirt, but it’s been 3 years now, and I’m slowly, very slowly, getting used to the colder weather. In any case, summer was approaching, and the weather is becoming a little more comfortable for me. I threw on his shirt and walked towards the rack where my towel hung.

“You should dress like that more often, maybe for your next MV,” he said, as he watched me through his heavy lidded eyes.

“You want the whole world to see me in panties and an oversized shirt?”

“I bet the world would go crazy if they saw you like this. Your cafe would probably get a million hits a day with just a photo of you dressed like this,” he laughed.

“Michoso,” I said, as I wrapped my towel around my waist. “I’m gonna go shower.”

“Leave some hot water for me,” he said, as I walked out.

“You’ll have to hope Skye and Shoei don’t use it up. Or you could wait outside now, so that you’re next.”

“Ara… ara…,” he laughed. “Hurry up. I need to get to the studios after I drop you off.”

It’s been a week since we got back from Japan, and all week, we were involved is a whirlwind of activities, shows, and all possible promotional activities. Tomorrow, we have a day off, or at least half the day off, before Skye and Shoei flies off to Japan and Taiwan, and the following week, I begin recording my new single with Yun Ho.

As usual, we got off late tonight, but since it was Skye and Shoei’s last night in Seoul for the next few weeks, we’d decided that we should go out for dinner. We went to a shop we frequented; one that served all the usual Korean dishes since Skye would be having Chinese food for most of his days in Taiwan, and he’d been complaining all day.

“I’m sure there are Korean restaurants in Taiwan. Korean stuff are huge there now. I won’t be surprised if you find some good Korean restaurants,” I reasoned as we walked out of the Arirang broadcast studios.

“If there are, they’d be super expensive,” Shoei said.

“And our Skye can afford it, can’t you?” I smiled.

The truth was that Skye and Shoei were actually from well-to-do families. Shoei’s father was a famous defense lawyer in Kyoto, and his grandfather had been a judge. Shoei was the only one who did not pursue a career in law, despite having been sent abroad to study it. Skye’s father was a businessman who dabbled in all industries; retail, manufacturing, construction, you name it, and probably he had a hand in it, which explains why he now drives a gleaming new BMW.

I was the only poor one. My father worked for the same company all his life, we’re in the category of comfortable middle-class, but he definitely could not have afforded my training with SM, had I not made it through the auditions.

“Is Jae Joong hyung coming?” Skye asked.

“He’ll meet us there, along with Yun Ho and Hee Chul,” I replied.

“And Dong Hae too,” Shoei added.

“What about the rest?” Skye asked.

“Eun Hyuk and Ee Teuk have a show to do tonight, and the rest have busy schedules today.”

“What about the other 3 in TVXQ? Don’t they do everything together? So if Jae Joong and Yun Ho hyung are free, so should the other 3 be.”

“They do go on shows without each other, you know,” I reminded him.

“Yea… in the past, Yun Ho hyung was the one who went alone more often.”

“Cos he’s more popular?” Skye asked.

“How would I know?” I laughed. “You ask him later.”

“Fine… I will,” Skye retorted, and stomped off towards his car.

As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a few familiar faces.

“Bi sonbae!” I smiled and waved.

He was here with MC Mong.

“Hey Sierra… Skye… Shoei…” Bi laughed. “And stop calling me sonbae,” he said as he looked at me. “You’re my age.”

“But in the industry, you are my sonbae,” I reasoned.

“We’re not working now, it’s dinner time, and you shall call me Bi, or Ji Hoon oppa, if you want,” he smiled, his eyes narrowing into those adorable slits again.

“Ya… stop hitting on her,” MC Mong slapped Bi on his arm. “Hi Sierra, I don’t think we’ve officially met.”

It’s true that we have never had an official meeting with MC Mong. But we’ve walked past each other plenty of times in between shows at the television broadcast stations.

“Sierra-imnida,” I smiled, and I held out my hand.

“MC Mong-imnida,” he said as he shook my hand. “And your oppa here has told me all about you,” he added.

All about me? I looked at Bi, and he just smiled. I wonder what he’d told MC Mong.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Chapter 91: 풍선 (Balloons)

“Annyeong haseyo,” Ee Teuk said. “Please introduce yourself.”

“It’s me…” the caller said.

“And who are you?” Skye laughed.

“Me? I’m the star that outshines Hyuk Jae,” the caller said, and that’s when we realized, it was Jun Su.

“I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you voice,” I laughed.

“You’re not paying attention to the show, Sierra. Tsk tsk…” Jun Su said.

“Why are you calling? This is not a helpline. It’s for our listeners to call in,” Eun Hyuk said.

“But I am your listener,” Jun Su said.

“You liar,” Eun Hyuk exclaimed.

“Yaaa… can the both of you take it off air. We have a show to do now,” Ee Teuk said.

“Mian…” Jun Su laughed.

“Do you have a song you want to dedicate to someone or something?” Shoei asked.

“Yes I do. I want to dedicate ‘Connect the Dots’ to my favorite friend, Hyuk Jae.”

“Which Hyuk Jae?” Skye piped in, just to annoy Eun Hyuk.

“Lee Hyuk Jae,” Jun Su said.

“Lee Hyuk Jae sonbae?” Skye asked.

“Aniya… Lee Hyuk Jae of Super Junior,” Jun Su laughed.

“You do know that ‘Connect the Dots’ is a song that is insulting an ignorant and idealistic person,” I said.

“Yes, I am aware,” he giggled.

“Yah! Xiah Jun Su… what is the meaning of this?” Eun Hyuk asked.

“So let’s listen to our first song! Thank you Jun Su, for calling.” Ee Teuk announced, cutting Eun Hyuk off before the show became a shouting match between the two of them.

“No problem,” Jun Su said, and we could tell he was pleased that Eun Hyuk had been cut off.

“Sierra, please introduce it for us?” Ee Teuk added.

“Nae. The first song we’re playing for you today, dedicated by Jun Su to Hyuk Jae, is our title track, ‘Connect the Dots’,” I announced and we went straight into the song.

“That was funny,” Skye said and he started laughing like crazy.

“Omoshiroi,” I said as I laughed.

“Not funny,” Eun Hyuk pouted. “How can you cut me off?” he grumbled at Ee Teuk.

“We’d never see the end of it if I hadn’t,” was his reply.

“Still… it was a perfectly good argument,” Eun Hyuk said.

“Aww… kwaench’ana,” I said as I patted Eun Hyuk’s back. “Plenty of chances to get back at Jun Su.”

“But I missed this one,” he wailed.

After half an hour of the fun and laughter, the show drew to an end.

“Thank you, S-Cube, for being here with us today,” Ee Teuk said.

“Aniya… thank you for having us. It’s a nice break in our schedule before we get on with the other shows and stuff,” I said.

“Are you saying you don’t take our show seriously?” Eun Hyuk said.

“Aniya…” I laughed. “It’s just extra fun working with family, don’t you think?”

“That I agree,” Ee Teuk said. “We look forward to having the three of you on the show again. Drop by anytime.”

“We will,” Skye said. “It’ll probably be you who will chase us away when we drop by too often.”

“Don’t be silly. You guys are free to join our show anytime,” Eun Hyuk said.

“Once again,” Ee Teuk said, “a big thank you to S-Cube for coming on the show today. To all our listeners… tune in next week for an exclusive interview with Lena Park.”

“We leave you now with an all time S-Cube favourite, ‘Ghosts’,” Eun Hyuk said, and the song faded in.

“So? Soccer this weekend?” Skye asked the guys as we stood up to leave.

“I’ll call you,” Eun Hyuk said.

“Araso,” Skye said. “You’d better remember, or I’m gonna come over to your place and bug you.”

“Nae… gawd… you’re such a nag,” Eun Hyuk laughed.

“Let’s go,” Shoei said as he stretched and yawned.

We spent the rest of the day attending more interviews at radio stations and some tapings at SBS and KBS. As our day drew to an end, I received the call I’d been waiting for the entire day.

“Dinner?” Jae Joong said, as soon as I answered his call.

“We need another hour,” I replied.

“Nan paegopayo…” he said.

“Then go eat first.”

“Aniya… I can wait. Where shall I pick you up?”

“I’m at the SBS studios now.”

“SBS it is. 1 hour?”

“Yep,” I said.

“See you then,” he said, and he kissed the mouthpiece on his phone.

“Araso…” I smiled, and kissed the mouthpiece on my phone.

As soon as I hung up, I could hear some people making kissing sounds. I turned around to see who the culprits were… Skye and Hee Chul.

“Jae Joong,” Hee Chul imitated as he clutched Skye’s arm, “I love you so much.”

“No baby,” Skye said, obviously in the role of Jae Joong. “I love you more.”

“Aniya… oppa… I love you more than you love me,” Hee Chul insisted and topped it off with more loud smacking sounds, which was reciprocated by Skye.

“Shuddup!” I laughed.

“Do you guys ever get tired of being so loving?” Hee Chul asked.

“Cut them some slack, hyung. They just made up yesterday,” Skye said.

“Ah yes… the big fight,” Hee Chul said, pretending to sound wistful whilst scratching his chin. “But the both of you are usually so mushy; it’s hard to recall the times you actually fight.”

“And that is a good thing,” I smiled.

“Hmm…” Hee Chul said.

“What’s the ‘hmm’ for?” I asked him.

“Nothing,” he smiled.

“Spit it out,” I said.

“I’m just joking. Just winding you up.”

“Cheongmal?” I glared at him.

“Would I dare mess with you?” he asked me, earnestly.

“No, you wouldn’t,” I smiled, and smacked his arm for good measure.

“Aahh… appuh,” he winced as he rubbed his arm.

“That’s to be sure,” I laughed.

We were at SBS to record an episode of Inkigayo, and Hee Chul was the host. ‘Connect the Dots’ had made the chart the first week it was released, and we’ve been invited to perform.

“Yeoreobun, please welcome the fastest climber in the past week, Sierra, Skye, Shoei… S-Cube!” Hee Chul announced.

The lights dimmed as the digital voice saying ‘Please connect the dots…’ played, and strobes flashed on the stage as the song began, the dancers surrounding us dispersed, and the three of us stepped forward as the spotlights followed us.

Shoei: Do you feel confused
Do you feel lost
Do you feel like you’re drowning in the information
Skye: Do you feel hurt
Do you feel devastated
Do you feel like you could die

Sierra: It took you that long
To connect the dots
It took you that long
To realize there was no such thing as everlasting love
[Skye: there was no such thing]
If you weren’t so dense
You might not have gotten hurt

S-Cube: There is no such thing
As a happy ending
There is no such thing
As love forever
There’re no castles built in the air
[Sierra: built in the air]
Sierra: There’re no unicorns, open up your eyes

Shoei: Do you feel the pain
Do you feel the fear
That someday, we’d be lost forever
Skye: Do you feel the ache
Do you feel the longing
Do you feel like this hell would never end

Sierra: It took you that long
To connect the dots
It took you that long
To realize there was no such thing as everlasting love
[Shoei: there was no such thing]
If you weren’t so dense
You might not have gotten hurt

S-Cube: There is no such thing
As a happy ending
There is no such thing
As love forever
There’re no castles built in the air
[Sierra: built in the air]
Sierra: There’re no unicorns, open up your eyes

Sierra: No such thing
As an honest lover
Skye: No such thing
They’d someday love another
Shoei: Open up your eyes
It has been so long
Sierra: That you’ve been, left in the dark.

The Seraphs in the audience cheered like crazy as soon as the song ended, and we bowed and waved back at them.

“Kamsahamnida!” Shoei yelled.

“Saranghamnida,” I yelled, and we started walking off the stage so that the next act could prepare.

After 2 more acts, we gathered on the stage for the announcement of the most popular song of the week, as voted by Netizens.

“And the popular song of the week is,” Hee Chul announced, “‘Connect the Dots’, S-Cube!”

Confetti burst up into the air and the Seraphs cheered like crazy. For the first time in our career, our song was the most popular within the first week of its release. Skye, Shoei and I hugged each other joyously, and we were screaming with the fans.

“Ch’uk’ahamnida!” Hee Chul said as he handed us the award and flowers with his co-host.

“Kamsahamnida,” I said as I intercepted the award from him.

“We dedicate this award to the Seraphs, who have always been here for us. Saranghamnida!” Skye yelled to the audience, and they cheered and clapped when he did.

“This is the first time S-Cube has won the award within the first week of a song’s release,” Shoei said. “It’s a new record for us.”

“And one we intend to keep always,” I added, and the Seraphs cheered again.

“Once again, ch’uk’ahamnida. Let’s hear it for S-Cube once more… and please put your hands together for their encore performance of ‘Connect the Dots’,” the female co-host announced, and we performed the song again.

“How are you guys feeling?” Hee Chul asked when he met us in the dressing room later.

“I really didn’t expect to win tonight,” Shoei said.

“We were kinda shocked ourselves. We knew S-Cube was doing well this week, but we didn’t expect such a drastic result. Within the first week; that’s a new record for S-Cube.”

“We’ve worked hard, and we’re finally being rewarded,” Skye said.

“That statement makes you sound so mature, Skye,” I laughed.

“Hey… I just act cute and silly. I have a really mature brain you know,” he protested.

“Yes… we can see that,” Hee Chul said.

“From the size of your head,” I added, and we laughed.

Jae Joong and I are back together, S-Cube had just won a long awaited award; is there nowhere but up from now?