The sun was beginning to set, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. Half an hour more and Park Yoochun would be here.
A rustle. She turned around, scanning the area cautiously. After all, a girl out late in the night was sure to attract trouble. Another rustle and Park Yoochun tumbled out of the bushes.
Tae Hee cracked up. “You’re such a loser, Yoochun!”
“YAH! You wouldn’t be laughing if you knew I had to run away from three groups of fans. And by groups, you should know there are at least 10 in each.”
“At least you’re getting your exercise.” She giggled.
Brushing himself off, he placed a cigarette to his mouth and raised his lighter.
Tae Hee cleared . “Give me that.” She opened her palm.
He paused. “What?”
“That.” She motioned to the cigarette.
“Don’t question a doctor. Do you want me to start listing every harmful effect? And I’m warning you, it’s a long list.”
“How long have you been smoking?”
“Some time now.”
“Haven’t your fans told you to stop?”
“Well then you should. End of conversation. Next topic,” Tae Hee declared---leaving no rebuttal time for Yoochun.
Reluctantly he handed over the package and lighter. How many times had they told him to quit? Too many to count. But this was the first time he listened.
“So why’re you back in Korea?”
She sighed. “I didn’t know where else to go. It’s been four years since I’ve been back; I guess I missed this place.”
“And the people?”
Tae Hee hesitated. “And the people.”
Together they walked over to a wooden bench.
“Hm...” she mused, “I don’t remember this bench here.”
“You’ve been gone for a long time.”
“Four years isn’t that long.”
“Do you know what four years have done to Jaejoong hyung?”
She shook her head. “He doesn’t care; so why should I care?”
“Why’d you stop contacting him, Tae Hee? Everyday his situation would just get worse.”
“What are you talking about, Yoochun?”
“No, the question is, what have you been thinking?”
“WHAT?” Tae Hee screamed, clearly flustered.
“He still loves you.”
Bright lights. SNAP. Screaming.
“OMG, OPPA SAYS HE LOVES HER! OMG!”
“I THINK I’M GOING TO DIE!”
“SHOOT. I thought I got rid of them.” He could sense a scandal in the future.
Yoochun grabbed a hold of Tae Hee’s hand and together they ran to his car for refuge. He jammed the key in hastily and started the engine. The fangirls’ screams were fainter now.
The silence in the car was deafening. And the awkward situation they were in made it even worse. He the radio quickly.
“You want me to drive you home? It’s kind of dangerous for you if you’re out alone,” Yoochun suggested.
Tae Hee shook her head.
“How about to Seung Yeon and Younha?”
Again, she refused.
“Let’s go somewhere nobody can find us.”
He chuckled. “That’s a very suggestive sentence. But where can that be?”
So they ended up gazing at stars in the middle of an abandoned highway.
Yoochun laughed, “Is this secluded enough for you?”
“Perfect,” she responded with a smile.
“But why don’t you want to go back?”
Tae Hee sighed, turning to look at the black night. And with that, she began her tale. Yoochun was yet again, the big brother she could depend on.
Maybe not everybody had changed.
Kim Jaejoong stepped out of the airport and sighed a breath of relief. So far so good. No crazy fangirls. He walked more confidently now.
A security guard cut through his path. “Mr. Kim Jaejoong?”
Jaejoong stopped walking, alarmed. Something was wrong.
The guard whipped out a picture, compared the faces, and nodded. “Thought so.” He grabbed Jaejoong’s arm and dragged him into a van. How kidnapper-esque.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Kim,” the man apologized. “If you’d only stay still.” He strapped Jaejoong into the van’s seat.
“WHO ARE YOU?” Jaejoong spat, struggling in his seat. But nobody was listening.
On his cell phone, the kidnapper continued, “Ah, Mr. Lee, we got him. We’ll be there shortly.”
Minutes later, he realized his struggling was futile. He had to save his energy for later, he mused.
An hour later, the van pulled up in front of the SM Building.
“WHAT IS THIS? YOU BETTER TELL ME WHO YOU ARE.”
The van’s door slid open, revealing a distressed Hye Gyo. She ran to save him from the van. “OMG, what happened?”
“I thought I said I’d come back when I was ready,” he responded frigidly. She turned to the driver inquisitively.
“Mr. Lee’s orders, m’am.”
“Him again?” she muttered angrily. “C’mon Jaejoong. Let’s go back to the apartment.” She motioned for him to follow her, but he paused.
His phone vibrated in his pocket.
A text message from Yoochun.
“I’m with Tae Hee.”
It hadn’t even been a day since fans had caught Tae Hee and Yoochun together and the media was already going crazy.
Magazines and newspapers were thrown messily onto the coffee table. Colorful titles were splashed upon the covers. Yoochun the Backstabber. Just like a Fanfiction: Jaejoong VS Yoochun. The Downfall of DBSK.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Jaejoong asked, motioning to the articles.
“I didn’t do anything. I bumped into Tae Hee yesterday on accident. And then some fangirls caught us and twisted everything way out of proportion!” Yoochun protested.
Jaejoong sighed. “I want to go see her.” He headed excitedly towards the door.
But Yoochun grabbed his arm. “Have you looked at the newspapers and/or magazines lately? You’ve been featured in almost every single one. All because of a scandal. Do you really think we’re going to let you go?”
Jaejoong’s smile dropped. His voice was cold. “Just let me go.”
“We’re going together.”
“Can you please not?” Hye Gyo begged.
Hye Gyo nodded lugubriously. She was going to get fired, wasn’t she?
“No, I’m not going to fire you. In fact, I’m going to give you another chance... to redeem yourself.”
Did she hear correctly? Lee Soo Man just said he’d give her another chance. That was just...unbelievable.
“And if you fail, you shall be thrown out of the entertainment industry forever. And you know I’m capable of that, Hye Gyo.” He turned and handed her a picture. “I’m sure you’ve seen her, Kim Tae Hee. Jaejoong’s girlfriend. Keep an eye on this one. I have a feeling she’s going to come back. And keep the boys in order.”
“Hye Gyo, you’re our friend. Please don’t stop us,” Jaejoong pleaded. “You know we’ve all been trapped here. Why couldn’t we all just work a daily 8-hour shift like the rest of the world? But no, we go hours without breaks. Days without sleep. This isn’t what it should be like.”
And so she kept quiet. The ultimate act of altruism. She didn’t bother to tell them about the threats Soo Man told her. She didn’t bother to tell them that their actions WOULD get her fired. No. She saw that they were miserable. And the only way to make them happy was to visit their old friends. So she let them.
And she was crazy.
Obviously, as their manager, Hye Gyo couldn’t just sit and wait for the boys to come home. No, she had to go with them, to make sure they would be okay.
She stepped back as she rang the doorbell. What had the boys gotten her into?
“I’ll wait for you in the car,” Hye Gyo declared, turning to her vehicle.
“Who is it?” Tae Hee smiled as she opened the door. And she was greeted by the five people she didn’t want to ever see again. Her smile fell as she gazed upon the last one. “Come in,” she said slowly. What else could she do? Turn them away?
“Who is it?” Younha asked from the hallway. She had a bucket of ice cream in her arms. But as her eyes fixed upon the visitors, she nearly dropped it. And they all knew how dear food was to her.
The silence was deafening.
It was all too awkward.
And they didn’t know what to do.
“I guess you can sit,” Tae Hee remarked slowly, carefully, lest she say something wrong. She had so much to say, so much to ask, but no words dared escape .
So they sat.
“Do you want something to eat?” Younha asked, offering her tub of ice cream.
Changmin shot up. “YES PLEASE!” He followed her to the kitchen. And then there were four.
“How’ve you been?” Seung Yeon asked from the corner of the room. She had been so silent; nobody had noticed her.
Immediately, Junsu’s eyes brightened. When was the last time he had laid eyes on his love? Almost a lifetime ago.
She gestured to Junsu and then to the door. Obediently, he followed.
And then there were three.
She really didn’t understand. How could her friends so readily forgive them? When they had blatantly ignored them ever since they became famous...
“Yoochun ah, let’s go,” Yunho chided.
With one last glance at Tae Hee, Yoochun reluctantly followed his friend.
And so, there was only one left.
And it only grew tenser.
“So, you’re back, huh?” Jaejoong finally spoke up.
She nodded in response.
“How’ve you been?”
Jaejoong sighed. At this rate, they’d never really get to talk.
He bit his lip, hesitant. “I missed you.”
Tae Hee froze and turned to face him. Had she heard incorrectly? Yes, she had to be deceiving herself. He couldn’t have been able to say exactly what she wanted to hear.
“I missed you, Tae Hee. Every day, every night. You can’t imagine how hard it was to try forgetting you... Why did you have to leave me?”
“I...” He hugged her before she could go on.
“Don’t leave me again, please.”
And slowly, but surely, her arms rose to hug him back.
It was a beautiful scene. A scene long awaited for.
But, like everything else, beauty doesn’t last forever.