Chapter 3

I Is For Irony

She grabbed her hand and pleaded with her eyes.

 

“C’mon, Lina.  Do this for me?”  Laura begged.

 

“What in the world?”

 

“I’m begging you.”

 

Lina looked away.  How could Laura be asking her to do this?

 

 

“Look here, Laura.  As much as I respect and love you because you’re my cousin... I babysit kids---NOT ADULTS.”

 

 

And cousins they were.  Lina Choi was the epitome of childhood.  Despite the fact that she was at the pretty age of twenty, her behavior was analogous to those of her preschool students.  [She taught preschool.]  But that didn’t bother her.  She was carefree and only worried about others.  A fun and loving mother, you could sort of say.

 

“I know.  I know asking you to go to a concert with someone you barely know is a bit farfetched.  But you’ve met Tae Hee before.  And I wouldn’t have to have you go if I didn’t have to work and cover for Tae Hee too.”

 

 

“Laura.  Isn’t this a bit too late?  I mean, the concert’s tonight.”

 

“I know.  I know.  But I got an emergency message.  I have to go back to work.”

 

“Ah...I must be completely stupid...but...”

 

“YES!  THANK YOU UNNI!”  She hugged Lina.  “Just be sure she goes backstage, okay?”

 

 

“Sure,” Lina murmured to Laura’s escaping shadow.

 

*****

 

Lina glanced at her watch impatiently and then at the empty seat beside her.  The concert was about to start and Tae Hee was nowhere to be found.  She looked at her ticket.  Maybe Tae Hee had already gone backstage?  Lina scanned the area for a last time and headed backstage.

 

 

“Hi, do you happen to know if there’s a woman, Kim Tae Hee, who happened to pass by here?” Lina asked a passing staff member.

 

He shook his head.

 

 

And so she continued.  Looking at the names on the doors, she continued to wander down the hallway.  Until she saw the name “DONGBANGSHINKI” posted on the door.  This was it, wasn’t it?  This was the band Laura had wanted Tae Hee to meet.

 

 

She knocked on the door.

 

“Hello?  Is Kim Tae Hee here by any chance?”

 

 

Upon saying that, the door almost immediately swung open---revealing five stunned men and their aggravated manager.

 

Hye Gyo made her way towards Lina quickly.

 

But Jaejoong beat her to the newcomer.  He placed his hands on her shoulders and stared desperately into her eyes.

 

 

“Tae Hee.  Tae Hee, where is she?”

 

Lina shrugged apathetically.  “That’s what I asked you.  Why are you asking me?”

 

“Because I need to know.”

 

“Well I don’t know where she is.  She was supposed to come to the concert with me.”

 

 

Hye Gyo’s mouth dropped open.  The nerve of that Tae Hee!  That Tae Hee really didn’t know what she was doing, did she?  She was risking her life to the fangirls, as well as risking DBSK’s fame and everybody’s jobs.  You never knew what angry fangirls could do.

 

 

“And I thought she’d be here...” Lina continued.

 

“What’s your name?” Jaejoong demanded.

 

“Lina Choi?  Geez, even my kids are more polite than you are.”

 

“And you’re friends with Tae Hee.  How’s she doing?  Does she have kids too?” he asked somberly.  She had moved on so quickly; it was unbelievable.

 

 

Lina started laughing.  “Oh you’ve mistaken!  I was referring to my preschool students.  I don’t think she’s even dating yet...but then again, what do I know?”

 

A smile broke on Jaejoong’s tired face.  So she hadn’t moved on yet, luckily.

 

 

Canon in D Major began ringing as Lina answered her phone.

 

“Hello?”

 

“YAH.  LINA CHOI.  I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR TAE HEE TO MEET DBSK, AND GUESS WHERE SHE IS NOW?” It was Laura.  An ANGRY Laura.

 

“Hehe...” Lina responded nervously.

 

“I HEARD SHE’S AT WORK.  I JUST CAN’T FIND HER RIGHT NOW.  YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WATCH HER!”

 

“It’s not my fault.  She didn’t even show up!”

 

“GAH!  GOODBYE COUSIN.”

 

With that, Laura hung up.

 

 

“Who was that?  Was it Tae Hee?” Jaejoong asked excitedly.

 

“YAH!  KIM JAEJOONG!” Hye Gyo shouted.

 

 

Her shout brought both Jaejoong and Lina back into reality.

 

 

“YOU CAN’T BE MINGLING WITH FANGIRLS FOR OVER TWO MINUTES.  JUST WATCH, A SCANDAL’S GOING TO COME UP,” Hye Gyo reminded him.  Motioning to the other members, she continued, “And please, introduce yourselves.”

 

“Wait, why would we need to introduce yourselves if she’s obviously a fangirl?  Why else would she come to watch us?” Junsu asked innocently.

 

Hye Gyo gave him an exasperated glare.  It was called a diversion.  Why couldn’t anybody see what horrors would arise from this and play along?  She was trying to save their dense behinds and nobody realized it.

 

 

A staff member popped his head into the room.  “You’re going on in five!” 

 

And Hye Gyo breathed a sigh of relief.  “It’s time to go back to your seat, little girl.”

 

 

Hye Gyo shooed her out.

 

“I’ll call you,” Jaejoong whispered to Lina.  He was desperate for more on Tae Hee.

 

Nobody had realized that he had slipped his phone into her pocket.

 

 

 

As she returned to her seat, she asked herself, “OMG.  Did he just HIT on me?”  She contemplated on leaving.  But such nice seats were a rare find, so she decided to stay and watch the show.

 

An hour after the concert ended, Lina felt a vibration in her pants as she drove herself home.

 

 

It was a phone.  But not her phone.

 

“Hello?” she answered cautiously.

 

“Oh hi!  This is Kim Jaejoong from DBSK.  Uh, I see that you’ve found my phone.  Let’s meet up so I can get my phone back.”

 

 

She made a suspicious face.  He was a , wasn’t he?  After all, he was calling her at basically midnight. 

 

 

“Ok...  We can meet at a coffee shop or something.  Starbucks, good enough?”

 

*****

 

“JAEJOONG IS MISSING!” Changmin shouted worriedly to Hye Gyo.  After scouring the building three times, he was certain Jaejoong had gone in search of Tae Hee.

 

“WHAT?”

“He’s gone.  He said he was going to the bathroom, so we waited for him.  But he never came out.  He was never in there to begin with,” Yoochun informed.  And Junsu and Yunho nodded their heads.

 

“But where could he have gone?” Hye Gyo mused.  She was certain he had no connections with anybody in America.  So then where was he now?

 

“Hye Gyo, we’re leaving for Korea tomorrow...” Yunho added.  “What if he doesn’t come back in time?”

 

 

She hesitated.  “Then we go ahead first.  And leave him here.”

 

Their mouths dropped.  Song Hye Gyo would NEVER leave any member alone to fend for himself.  Especially when he barely understood the language!  But that’s what she had decided.

 

 

He smirked to himself.  “I’m ready...“

 

“Are you sure?” she asked again.  “I want you to be sure.”

 

“But promise me one thing...” he hesitated.

 

Hye Gyo cocked her head.  What could it be that he wanted?

 

 

“If I go missing, it’s because I need a break.  When I’m done, I’ll eventually come back and never leave again.  Please don’t go looking after me.”

 

 

“What are you talking about, Noona?  Are you out of your mind?  How are we supposed to promote our singles when one of our members is MISSING?”

 

She responded blankly, “Don’t worry.  I’ll handle it.”  But did she really know how?

 

 

 

“Just don’t worry,” she repeated.

 

But clearly, everyone was still distressed.

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