“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.
“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.
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.