Mika and I walked into a restaurant and I almost fell over when I saw who the ‘friend’ was.
“Shoei… this is Kimura Takuya,” she introduced, and I was almost dumbstruck when I saw him.
“Konichiwa,” he smiled and shook my hand.
Takuya was a huge star in my book and even nuna adored him. Granted he wasn’t a very good singer, but he’s a performer through and through. I never thought I’d have the chance to meet him.
“It’s really, really a great honor to meet you, senpai,” I said.
“Likewise,” he smiled. “But please don’t call me senpai… I feel old enough as it is.”
“Alright,” I said, still star-struck.
“Shall we be seated?” he said.
“Yea… Shoei’s catching flies while standing here,” Mika laughed.
“Huh?” I said.
“Your mouth… it’s been open since you saw Takuya-san.”
“Oh… mian… I mean, sumimasen,” I fumbled.
“Mian?” Takuya said as we sat down.
“You’ll have to forgive him. He’s been a little too Koreanized,” Mika said. “When he’s spacing-out, he switches to Korean just like that.”
“Really?” Takuya laughed. “That’s interesting. How many years did you spend in Korea?”
“About 6 years,” I said.
“That’s a long time. Even I would forget Japanese if I lived abroad for that long. Daijobu,” he smiled.
“Arigatou,” I said.
“See, he does know his Japanese,” Takuya teased.
It turned out that Mika wasn’t really close with Takuya, but when he heard that I was collaborating with Mika, he asked to meet us through Mika’s agency.
“I’m curious… why would you want to meet me?” I asked him.
“I wanted to meet fresh, homegrown talents like you, who have made it abroad.”
“You’re an international star yourself.”
“My star is fading,” he smiled. “I’m getting older, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Well… so am I,” Mika said wistfully.
“You still have many more years,” Takuya smiled at her. “It’s how you work about it.”
“Quite true,” she said as she continued eating.
“You’re still famous. Even my nuna is crazy about you,” I said.
“Your nuna?” he said.
“That would be his female band mate, Sierra,” Mika said.
“Oh yes… Sierra,” he smiled.
“She can’t get over the Gatsby ads,” I laughed. “Especially the one for Moving Rubber.”
“Ah… don’t remind me. That was a little… crazy.”
“She made us watch it over and over again, and each time she was laughing as hard as the last.”
“Sounds like a die hard fan,” Mika said.
“She was actually into SMAP, before she got into the Korean stuff.”
“Then I need to meet her,” he smiled. “To convert her back to SMAP,” he laughed.
“I think she’s rather outgrown SMAP, but she still loves watching your dramas. Before she lost interest in SMAP, she wanted to marry you,” I laughed.
“Yea… but then you got married… so there goes her dreams.”
“So it’s safe for me to meet her now?” he asked.
“Yea… she’s dating Jae Joong of Tohoshinki now,” I said.
“Then I don’t think you have any hope of converting her, Takuya,” Mika laughed.
“Looks like it,” he said, pretending to be deflated.
During dinner we talked about the industry’s current situation here in Japan, and compared it to Korea.
“It’s really saturated here in Japan now,” Mika said.
“And yet the Korean companies keep coming,” Takuya said.
“I’m sure they think that they could be the ‘something fresh’ and with that, overtake the locals on the charts,” I explained.
“And that’s quite true. Look at BoA and Tohoshinki’s successes. Plus, now we have you to look out for,” Takuya said.
“S-Cube is just beginning. I don’t think we’ll be able to rival BoA or Tohoshinki,” I said.
“You’ll never know,” Mika said. “With good songs and good publicity, you might.”
“The three of you aren’t too shabby, and if SM does things right, you guys will be as famous as Tohoshinki is.”
“Maybe,” I smiled.
“At least he’s Japanese,” Mika said.
“So when will S-Cube release a Japanese album. We keep seeing singles only,” Takuya said.
“I think the management isn’t confident that an album would sell well, and at least singles don’t cost that much to produce. So if it’s a flop, they can just write it off,” I reasoned.
“Have any of them been flops?” Mika asked.
“Not really, but they didn’t do very well on the Oricon charts. We never hit top 10.”
“Top 20 isn’t too bad,” Takuya said.
“Yea… but we’ll have to get a hit like say… Lion Heart to get us in the Top 10,” I said.
“You know that song? Were you even a teenager yet when that song was released?” he asked.
“I think I was,” I laughed. “And nuna reintroduced me to it when we first met.”
“Ah… I must meet this nuna of yours. You keep mentioning her, and I can see how much she’s influenced you.”
“We’ve lived together for 3 years. I would think she is an influence on me. She’s pretty knowledgeable when it come to music, and she’s always learning and exploring new stuff.”
“Maybe when SMAP puts out a new single, you should collaborate with S-Cube,” Mika suggested.
“I was thinking about it, that’s why I wanted to meet Shoei,” Takuya said.
“Just S-Cube? What about me?” she joked.
“You can join us. We’ll have a big collaboration,” he said.
“We’ll see…” she said. “I’ll need to check my schedule,” she added in a mock all-important tone.
“Yes… Nakashima Mika is a very busy star. Do join us when your schedule allows it,” Takuya said, and we laughed.
It’s been 2 weeks in Japan, and today I’m flying back to Seoul for a week of promotional activities for the single, ‘Waiting for You’, with Hee Chul. When I arrived at the airport, I was pleasantly surprised to see nuna and Jae Joong hyung waiting for me.
“Nuna!” I greeted her, and she hugged me.
“Oooh… look at you!” she said as she hugged me. “You look refreshed. Did you even work while in Tokyo?”
“I think the air is different in Tokyo,” Jae Joong hyung said. “Glad to be back in Seoul?” he asked me.
“Yea,” I smiled. “I missed you guys.”
“Aww…” nuna said and reached up to ruffle my hair.
“Yah… dame!” I said and realized that I’d just spoken Japanese.
“Mworago?” nuna said.
“He said, ‘Stop!’,” Jae Joong hyung translated.
“I know what he said, but why did he speak Japanese,” she giggled.
“You know… I had the same problem in Japan.” I said as we started walking away from the arrival gates. “I kept speaking to people in Korean.”
“They must’ve stared at you,” Jae Joong hyung said.
“Yea… Are we heading home?” I asked them.
“We need to hang around for a bit, cos Skye’s flight lands in about 2 hours,” nuna said.
“Aren’t you busy?” I asked her.
“I got the day off,” she said. “I’d die if I had to go on this promotional activity for an entire week without taking a break before.”
“What about you, hyung?” I looked at him.
“I was forced to come along, as usual,” he sighed, and nuna slapped him on the arm.
“Say that again,” she threatened.
“Anio… I was so eager to come. She wanted me to go to work but I insisted on coming to accompany my Sierra kongju,” he said in one breath.
“You’re really asking for it, aren’t you,” I laughed when I saw nuna’s expression after he’d given his long sarcastic speech.
“You have no idea,” he laughed.
“Let’s go somewhere where we can sit and have some coffee,” I suggested.
“Sounds good to me,” Jae Joong hyung said, and we dragged nuna along with us.
We found a quieter cafe where we could be inconspicuous and sat down in a secluded corner. Jae Joong hyung and I ordered a warm lemon tea and nuna ordered a latté.
“So what’s going on?” I asked nuna. “Your project done yet?”
“We’re done filming the MV, and recording the tracks, so all that’s left is to prepare for the live performances and the promotional activities,” she said.
“And all that will be done after this week?” I asked her.
“Yea… cos the guys are leaving for Japan in 3 weeks. So Yun Ho and I will have less than a week to prepare after the ‘Waiting for You’ promotional activities end, and then about 1 week to promote our single.”
“I think Yun Ho will have to fly back to Seoul for a few more times while we’re in Tokyo, to promote this single with you,” Jae Joong said. “It’s a pretty important project, so I don’t think they’re gonna skimp on the promotional activities just because we need to be in Japan.”
“Great…” she smiled. “Would’ve been better if you got to come back more often,” she added.
“I know… I should’ve taken the project. Mian…” he said as he took her hand and squeezed it.
The two hours passed quickly while we chatted and we were soon walking towards the arrival hall again to wait for Skye.
“Where’s that monkey?” nuna said as she craned her neck over the crowd waiting at the arrival gates.
“Stop talking so much,” Jae Joong hyung said. “People are gonna notice us.”
We’d signed lots of autographs while waiting for Skye, but Jae Joong hyung had the most to sign, obviously. The fans even wanted to take pictures, and I saw some of the girls eyeing nuna with jealous expressions. I guess they can never get over the fact that nuna had stolen their dream guy from them.
“I see him,” I said as I saw Skye walking out from the luggage claim area.
“Who’s that beside him?” Jae Joong hyung remarked.
That’s when we noticed that a girl was walking beside him. They were laughing and talking animatedly, and the girl was even holding on to his arm. Hae Rin is not going to be pleased.
“Skye!” I called out to get his attention as he walked out.
“Hey!! You guys came for me!” he said as he came forward and hugged nuna and I.
“Yea… are you touched?” nuna asked him.
“Very…” he said as he clutched his hands to his chest.
“Who’s your friend?” Jae Joong hyung asked him.
“Annyeong haseyo,” she bowed. “Yuk Hee-imnida.”
“This is Yuk Hee,” he introduced. “She was my neighbour back in Kwangju. She traveled back from Taiwan with me.”
I looked at nuna and I got the expression I expected, since it echoed mine… what are the odds of meeting your old neighbour in Taiwan?
[Yuk Hee’s POV]
I knew what they were thinking when they saw me. They’re probably assuming that I’m some tramp who’s gonna try to seduce Skye or something. Well, they could be right, but the thing is that they don’t know what Skye was to me. Before he was Skye of S-Cube, he was Skye who hung out with me every day of the week during our childhood. In this sense, I’m no ordinary tramp. I was a girl from Skye’s past and if this Hae Rin isn’t good enough to Skye, she’s about to have her man taken from her.