“What do you want from me?” I whispered.
“Nothing…” he whispered back in his husky voice. “I just want you to be here right now.”
“You know you’re never going to stick around,” I reminded him.
“Mianhae,” he said as he stroked my hair with his right hand. “It’s the path we’ve chosen, and I cannot involve you in it.”
I knew what he’d been trying to do all this while. He was trying to disassociate us from each other so that none of the backlash would ever fall on me. He was thinking for my career. S-Cube wasn’t JYJ. We wouldn’t be able to survive the way JYJ has been doing. Even if they wouldn’t let them on music shows and most programs on Korean television, they were still making headlines both for their talent and the controversies that came from their battle with SM Entertainment.
“Sure you won’t regret this?” I asked him, hugging him tightly as the elevator doors opened to his floor.
He let go and held my hand as he lead me out of the elevator.
“Every day of my life,” he said as he walked ahead.
“Ne?” I said, since he left his sentence hanging.
He didn’t answer as he punched in the code to his front door to open it. He closed the door and we stood in the corridor, just the two of us, illuminated by the dim light Hyun Joong had left on for him.
“I will regret this every day, for the rest of my life,” he said.
His gaze was so intense, even in the dim lighting. Tears had found their way down his cheeks. Jae Joong cried like any other human, but this was the first time he had cried for us since he left more than 6 months ago. Seeing his tears brought out mine too. He reached out to cradle my face in his hands as my tears found their way down my face, and he kissed my lips tenderly.
“I’m so sorry,” he said in English, knowing it was the language I knew best, and wanting me to know how deep his apology was.
There were moments when I wished I never saw him again, but at times like this, when I saw how tired he was from all that he was going through, I just wanted to be there for him. I wanted to hold his hand, hold him in my arms, hold his heart and be his rock. I wanted to be his rock because he had been mine for so many years. Whatever I went through, I knew that all I had to do was to seek the comfort he so readily provided. This comfort was no longer available, but the least I could do was to give him what he had given me for so long.
“Kwaench’ana,” I said, and I put my arms around his waist.
He had lost so much weight in the past few months that his body now felt almost foreign to me.
“You’ve put on weight,” he said, obviously trying to break the ice by annoying me.
“So that you know I’m doing well without you,” I said as I pulled away and stuck my tongue out at him.
“I can see that,” he smiled as he stroked my cheek, then he gave it a quick pinch before running off, laughing.
“Yah!” I yelled as I chased after him towards his room.
He flipped on the lights as he sprinted to his room, and I caught up with him just as he crashed into his bed.
“Mmmph…” he said when I landed on him where he lay, flat on the bed.
“Aigoo!” he exclaimed in agony and he flipped over as I rolled off him.
“Take that!” I laughed, and gave him a playful kick on his butt before settling into a comfortable position amongst his pillows.
He slid up his bed and tucked one arm under me to that we could snuggle on his bed. I rested my head on his chest and just sighed. It was always comforting to be this close to him, but I’m beginning to realize that it had become a habit through the years.
“Who do you think you’d be dating now if I didn’t exist?” I asked him.
“Why are you always so random?” he laughed. “Can’t I have stayed single?”
“I dunno,” I replied. “You’ve always said that you needed a wifely kind of woman.”
“Twaesseo…” I said as I turned my face away from him. “You never mean the things you say anyway.”
“Naega eonje!” he asked as he turned my face back so that I had to look at him, pinching my cheek playfully.
“Always,” I replied and stuck out my tongue.
On days like this, I realized I’m getting tired of it all. When I don’t see him, I miss having him around. When he’s with me, I feel drained. It’s like it takes too much energy to carry on a conversation with him. Eventually, it drifts into some kind of petty quarrel, but we’d always forgive each other and make up within the next hour. We weren’t the kind of couple that held grudges and rarely went for ages without talking to each other. This has been the longest period for us.
My friends tell me that it’s either we were getting too familiar, and that the romance was dying. It was the part and parcel of almost becoming an old married couple, which was the last thing I wanted to be with this man. I think our relationship thrives on us being a dating couple. Or course as time goes along, certain things become routine, but most of the time, we’re pretty spontaneous and we manage to keep things fresh by trying out new activities and going to new places.
We didn’t speak much for the rest of the night. We just got ready for bed and slept till morning. I had to be content with wearing one of his shirts since I’d removed all my stuff from his place when we broke up. We shared a toothbrush like we always did, and I used his facial products since we pretty much had the same type of skin.
Staying the night probably wasn’t the best thing to do when you’re trying to get over someone, but I had a long day ahead and commuting home at this hour would just be a waste of time, so I decided to just throw in the towel and take what I’m given.
I woke up the next morning to the smell of food wafting into the room. It’s weird how I’m able to automatically wake up on time whenever I’m at his place. I suppose it’s because he very helpfully draws the curtains open so that the sunlight would wake me up. I got out of bed, did a good bit of stretching, and freshened up quickly before I left the bedroom.
The weather was starting to get a bit chilly these days, but he’d turned on the floor heating and the house was just the right temperature, even though I am guessing that he probably preferred the temperature a bit lower than I did.
“Ireonasseo?” he said when I appeared in the kitchen.
He was busy serving out a few plates of side dishes; radish kimch’i, cabbage kimch’i, mini Korean pancakes and deep fried anchovies. The main dish for today was miyukguk with lots of tofu and pieces of pork and cubed odaeng swimming in it. There was not a single dish I didn’t like. He even made sure that the anchovies were just fried because I’d always complained about the soggy anchovies they served at restaurants. It was also a recipe of my mom’s that I shared with him; frying the anchovies with sugar and a bit of salt, sometimes with roasted peanuts.
“Masshisseo?” he asked me when I nicked a pancake and popped it into my mouth.
“When does your cooking ever suck?” I smiled back at him.
This is what I missed most; being taken care of by him. Sure, he couldn’t do it each and every day. It was usually on his off days that I would get such treats, but it always made me feel blessed. Sometimes I’m a little ashamed that I cannot do the same for him.
We ate in silence, drowning our rice with the soup and finishing every single bit of the side dishes. Then he brought out more food; a very sinful chocolate and coffee cake, served with Earl Grey tea.
“I wonder why I never put on weight when we were together,” I said in between a mouthful of cake.
“It must be because I keep you on your toes,” he laughed.
“Haha…” I laughed sarcastically. “You don’t know how true that is.”
It’s sad to know that when we were to have such conversations now, he will never tell me to come back to him, and I will never tell him that I long to be by his side again. We both just know that it is never going to work out, and we just want to still be able to enjoy moments like this once in awhile.
“I’ll be moving again” he said as he sipped his tea.
“Moving in with Jun Su and Yoo Chun?”
“Yea,” he said. “It’s more practical since we’re going to be really busy working together. I just hope they will lift the bans soon.”
“They’re just being mean,” I said. “They just want to teach you guys a lesson since what you guys did was pretty much anarchy. You turned the industry upside down, and now some other bands are also following suit.”
“I was afraid they’d try something on S-Cube,” he said.
“Nah… we’re not famous enough for them to care. I was surprised and thankful that all 3 of our contracts expired without any complications.”
“Yea…” he replied. “Drink up, or you’re going to be late.”
I had a live show today, so it didn’t matter if I had fresh clothes or not since I was wearing a coat and I would have costumes where I’m going.
“Here,” he said as he tossed me a paper bag when I entered his room.
“Mwoya?” I said as I peered into it.
It was a blouse.
“I’ve washed it already. You can wear it now,” he said as he went about getting himself ready.
“Komawo,” I said as I took the blouse out of the bag and went into the bathroom for a shower.
I showered quickly and got dressed. It was a short sleeved dark blue cotton blouse with frills on the sleeves and down the front, which was pretty much my style these days; simple with a hint of girlishness. Trust him to get it in the right size and right style.
“Looks good on you,” he smiled when I emerged from the bathroom.
“It was a good choice,” I smiled, “komawo.”
“It’s been awhile since I got you anything,” he sai, “When I saw it, I thought you might like it.”
We put on our jackets and shades and left the apartment. We held hands briefly in the elevator and in the car, and when we arrived at the broadcasting station, I gave him a peck on the cheek and got out of the car. We were going through the motions all over again, but something about today felt that it was the last time. As if from here on, things will never be the same again.
He gave me a little wave, and I returned it before turning to walk into the building. Someday at this same time, we would replace each other with someone else and perform all these things for them. I just wondered when it will be that day come. When will we be able to move on from this love that has taken up so much of our lives for the past few years? Perhaps… perhaps we may never replace each other, ever, and the thought of it is simply agonizing.