“This is you?” I asked, trying not to stutter.
“Ne…” she said. “I didn’t think that you should know this early in the relationship, but since you insisted.”
I stared at the photo, and back at her. It was the same face, the same glint in her eyes, but the features… they weren’t as prominent as the ones that were right in front of me; double eyelids, a sharp nose, defined cheekbones, a smaller jaw line...
“Wae?” she asked. “Shilmang?”
“Ani,” I shook my head.
“It’s alright if you’re disappointed. I’m used to it,” she said.
“Why would I be disappointed?” I smiled. “I got the prettier girl,” I said, and she smiled.
Plastic surgery was common among celebrities in South Korea, and even among the girls within DSP. What I wasn’t prepared for was to be actually dating a girl who’d had her face done.
“I totally get why you’re shocked. But at least you’re taking it a little more positively. I’ve seen a lot of looks of curiosity, pity and I’ve even encountered disgust.”
“Yes… I think some people are turned off by the idea. But as you can see, I needed it. I would not be where I am today with that face.”
“Hmm…” was all I could muster.
“How very supportive of you,” she joked.
“Honestly, I don’t mind at all. But I think you should get a new license. The police are going to have a hard time believing this license if yours if you ever get pulled over,” I said as I handed the card back to her.
“Yea… it’s expiring soon. I’ll get a new one later,” she smiled, and put it back in her wallet.
“So… let’s get out of here,” I said.
“Can I drive now?” she asked.
“Sure,” I replied, and tossed her the keys, which she caught expertly.
[Su Bin’s POV]
It’s been a long time since we met, but he was here. We’d decided to meet up somewhere secluded, away from the prying eyes of my band mates. We were in this together, but it seems like they’re watching my back for all the wrong reasons. Puri especially; she’s always around to remind me that she was ready to out me if I ever screwed up. Sylvia would never commit to whether she actually liked me or hated me. She was always acting like the neutral person, when the only neutral person was Shin Hee because she was too innocent to care about the political stuff.
“You’re late,” Darren oppa said, as he stood up.
“Our schedule was delayed today,” I explained.
“Do you really wanna play that card with me?” he smiled and pulled me into his arms.
“Well… do we have any other better excuses?”
“Not that I know of,” he laughed and led me towards his car.
“Where are we going?” I asked him.
“We’re just gonna sit in my car,” he said. “Why?”
“Oppa… I think you’re aging,” I said.
“Why do you say that?”
“You’re getting less and less creative with each date.”
“So? You’re gonna dump me if you don’t get more?”
“Huh?” I was a little surprised with his reply.
“Huh?” he mimicked.
“Keugo aniya…” I said.
“Good,” he said. “Cos sometimes, it’s just tiring to have to entertain people all day long.”
“You know I’m not asking for that,” I said.
“Sounded like it.”
“Well, it’s not,” I said.
“Araso…” he said as we got into his car and he started the engine.
He turned on some music and took out 2 bottles of drinks.
“Which one do you want?” he said, holding up both bottles to me.
“Igot,” I said, and took one out of his hand.
“So what is it you wanted to tell me,” he asked as he unscrewed his bottle.
“I got a job,” I said.
“Don’t you already have one?”
“I mean a spot on TV,” I said.
“I see,” he said. “What show?”
“That’s the thing I wanted you to know.”
“We Got Married,” I said.
“Mwo?” he said, a little surprised.
“They managed to get me a spot on We Got Married.”
“For once, they’re really doing their jobs well; a newcomer on a hit reality show.”
“That was what I was thinking. How many newcomers get a chance like this? But you know I’m not that ambitious. I just want to be able to do what I like.”
“And getting to do what you like means having to remain popular,” he said. “So who are they pairing you with?”
“This is the other shocker,” I said.
“Okay… I can sense the dread in your voice. Just spit it out,” he said.
“Shoei… of S-Cube.”
“Mwo?” I exclaimed.
Nuna and Skye were bug-eyed, while Shi Kyung hyung just sat there as if this were a teeny-tiny issue.
“You start filming next week. This will be good publicity for your upcoming album. Try to get it featured a little on the show.”
“Why me?” I asked.
“Sierra’s taken, and the show’s PDs would be placing their own necks on the chopping block if they pair her with anyone but Jae Joong. No one wants to know about their love life anyway since it’s old news.”
“Gee… thanks hyung,” nuna smirked.
“Skye here… he’s an open book.”
“Oh… sure he is…” I said sarcastically.
“To the media, there is nothing they have not seen from Skye. You have always been a mystery, and they’d like to see how you really are in a relationship.”
“You mean how I would be, ideally, in a relationship,” I pointed out.
“Oh well… you know. TV…” he shrugged.
“Who’s my partner?”
“Su Bin, from Eoduun Cheonsa,” he said.
“Oh… great. I’ve never even met her yet.”
“She was Hae Rin’s roommate,” Skye said. “She was a SM trainee.”
“That’s helpful info,” I said.
“Aww… come on,” nuna said. “It can’t be that bad.”
“Would you like it if I paired you with Darren?” I asked her.
“Hey… that’s a low blow. At least your relationship with Su Bin is neutral,” she said.
“Oh phooey…” I grunted.
“The company is renting you newlyweds an apartment, since the main reason for your participation is for S-Cube’s publicity as well,” hyung added.
“You’re too kind,” I said and put on the most fake smile I could muster just to illustrate my point.
“Can I be a guest?” Skye asked. “Invite me for your housewarming party.”
“Well, don’t invite me,” nuna said. “I don’t wanna have to buy you a present.”
“Oh… the only way I’m going to do this is if I can drag the both of you with me every step of the way.”
“People would kill for a part on this show,” Skye said.
“Sure… imagine how Hae Rin would kill you if you got paired with someone other than her.”
“Well, we’d just have to reveal our relationship then,” Skye said.
“You idiot. You’ll do the show and keep your relationship under wraps,” hyung said and smacked Skye on the back of his head.
“Oww… I’m not going on the show, am I?” Skye said.
“If you were,” hyung stressed.
“Fine…” Skye grumbled, crossing his arms indignantly.
“This is not going to be a happy time in my career,” I sighed.
“Hey… you might actually meet your true love,” nuna said.
“Oh sure… someone I hardly know… she could be my true love. Okay…” I said.
“At least they didn’t pair you with some psycho girl,” Skye said.
“Like your Yuk Hee?” I asked.
“Hey…” Skye said, pointing a warning finger at me.
“Hey…” he repeated.
“You’re starting to sound demented, cut it out,” I said.
“I think it’s more like those seagulls in Finding Nemo,” nuna laughed.
“Hey…” Skye said and wiggled his eyebrows this time.
“Keumanhae…” I said, and tossed a pillow at Skye.
“Hey, hey, hey…” he continued, and bounded out of the room.
“You need to make sure he takes his meds,” I said to nuna.
“I’m on it,” she smiled, and went after Skye.
“I don’t want any mess-ups from you, Shoei,” hyung said to me. “Those two already have me on the line. Sierra’s put me on the line a few times now, and that monkey is just an explosion waiting to happen.”
“It’s not that I am against you kids having a life,” he continued. “I just want us all to be able to keep our jobs at the end of the day.”
“I understand,” I replied.
“You’re the one who has given me the least problems so far. I’d appreciate it if you kept it that way,” he said.
“I will,” I said.
“Good,” he said. “Let’s go.”
I meant every word I said to hyung. I’d almost forgotten my role here; to keep the band together. Nuna had already been sucked into it long ago. Skye is just being Skye, like he had been since we started training together. I had to exercise a little control and sacrifice on my part if we were going to keep moving down this road.
Sure… nuna and Jae Joong hyung had hit smooth road for now, but who knows when there will be trouble in paradise again, since it was as if nuna’s fate courted trouble periodically. As for Skye, hyung was also right. He was a bomb waiting to explode. His secret with Hae Rin will not be a secret for long; unless I’ve underestimated both their abilities to control themselves.
I walked out of the room and joined the rest of them.
“What’s for dinner?” nuna asked.
“Not jjajjangmyun,” hyung said.
“Ramyun?” Skye said.
“No, no, no…” nuna shook her head.
“Let’s have a proper meal,” hyung said.
“Your treat?” Skye asked, gleefully.
“Fine…” hyung grunted.
“Wooo!!!” Skye cheered. “Kalbi… kalbi… samgyupsal…” he chanted as we walked to the car.
“Only if you’ll shut up,” hyung added, and Skye immediately mimed zipping up his lips.
She brought me to restaurant her friend owned. Apparently, they had a native Italian chef and served authentic Italian cuisine.
“You sure know how to pick the expensive places,” I said.
“I’m kind enough to pick my friend’s restaurant,” she said.
“So you can earn a profit off what I pay tonight? Does he give out commissions to friends who bring their boyfriends here to get conned?”
“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “At best, I get a free meal the next time I come.”
“Ah… keurae… that’s alright then,” I smiled.
“Yuk Hee!” her friend, greeted her with a big hug and kissed her cheeks.
“Tae Ik oppa,” she said, sweetly.
“This is?” he asked, not taking his arm off her shoulders as he turned to me, as if they were a couple receiving me.
“Nakata,” she said. “Shouldn’t you know him?”
“Ah yes… Helix, right?” he smiled, as if expecting a cookie for guessing it right.
“Ne,” I smiled as graciously as I could.
“This way please,” he said, finally taking his hands off her and leading us in.
“You two seem close,” I whispered in her ear as I put a possessive arm around her waist.
“Oh… we go way back,” she smiled, and it was then I realized, she had brought me here on purpose.
“I see…” I replied. “I hope I’m not in the way of your reconciliation.”
“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “Tae Ik oppa is married.”
I kept smiling as we sat down, and I hoped that she barely noticed when I breathed a sigh of relief.