Lina woke up to the sound of pots and pans and the smell of breakfast. Carefully, she removed the chair blocking the door and crept out into the hallway. From her position, she could see Jaejoong in the kitchen. With the clothes he had on, she had almost mistaken him for her ex-boyfriend. Thankfully she knew who was who.
He turned around with a bright smile. “I made breakfast.”
“You really didn’t have to,” she insisted.
“I’m not a freeloader, you know?” Jaejoong commented with a smirk. “And besides, it’s probably really good. After all, I’m always cooking for the band.”
She poked her chopstick into a pile of red vegetables. “What’s that?”
Jaejoong stared at her in complete horror. “You’re kidding right?”
“No seriously, what’s that?”
“That’s...that’s...” He stumbled a few steps back and held onto the kitchen counter for support. He looked ready to kick the bucket. “That’s KIMCHI! The famous Korean staple! How could you not know! Even people in Antarctica know what it is!”
“Sorry...” She paused. Wait, nobody lived in Antarctica.
He studied her. “Are you even KOREAN?”
“Half,” Lina replied with a smile. “I’m Chinese too.”
“YOU SHOULD STILL KNOW WHAT KIMCHI IS NO MATTER YOUR ETHNICITY!”
“Anyhow...” She looked around, trying to change the topic. Being in the spotlight wasn’t so much fun.
Jaejoong turned to wash the dishes.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” Lina asked, testing the Kimchi.
“No. I never eat breakfast.”
She stared at him. “But that’s not right!”
“We just never had the time.” He frowned. “Sometimes we didn’t have time to eat the whole day.”
“NO! THE HORRORS!” she exclaimed. Running over to the pantry, she threw open the wooden doors and scoured for breakfast-suitable food. “Here, take a cereal bar!”
He studied the bar in her hand with apathy. “Oh. I don’t eat sweets.”
“I just don’t like them.”
“You’re not human,” Lina replied aghast.
Jaejoong grinned and continued washing the plates. “I’ve been told that before. I’m too beautiful for humans.”
She laughed, “Cocky much?”
“No, just too beautiful.”
Lina shook her head with a smile and happened to glance at the clock. “Oh, it’s time to go to school.”
“EH? School?” he shuddered. She really was serious; he had thought she was just joking last night. He had never liked that place. Too many teenage fangirls.
“Don’t you remember? I teach Preschool!”
His pupils dilated in terror. Little kids were even scarier than fangirls.
The school bell rang, signifying the start of class. And Kim Jaejoong was quivering in his shoes. Little kids were just too happy. As if they had been fueled on some natural drug that made them all ecstatic beyond the norm.
“You’re lucky, Jaejoong. We get to go to the music room today,” Lina declared as she flipped through a schedule book.
“Uh...what happened to all your students, Lina?” he whispered.
“Oh they’ll come running any second now,” she replied like it was normal.
And run they did. The little preschoolers stampeded into the room with occasional shrieks of laughter [and/or pain].
“GOOD MORNING MISS CHOI!” they greeted in unison as they went to their seats.
She smiled one of those teacher smiles. “Good morning to you too, class. I have a special guest today. This is Kim Jaejoong. He’s a singer from a very famous band in Asia. Do you know what Asia is?”
A little boy with thick glasses raised his hand. “It’s a continent.”
“Very good!” Lina praised.
“NO IT’S NOT! IT’S A NEOPET!” another student cried out.
Jaejoong chuckled. To think he was actually afraid of kids who thought huge land masses were Neopets. He was too lame.
“It’s recess! Go out and play now,” Lina instructed after a while.
Still sitting in the same seat he had been sitting in since the morning, Jaejoong watched Lina plop into her chair.
“It’s only been two hours, and I’m already tired,” she sighed. Then looking at Jaejoong, she smiled, “We go to the music room after this. You’ll show the kids your musical ability, right?”
He looked away. Should he?
She pleaded with her eyes. “Please? It’ll make those kids so happy.”
After a minute of pondering, he nodded. Her eyes could do wonders.
As the little children walked slowly in a single-file line towards the music room, Jaejoong sped ahead. His eyes shined eagerly as he eyed the black Yamaha grand piano. He played a simple melody on the keys and smiled. This was where he belonged, wasn’t it?
Did he dare to sing? He played some chords and opened his heart.
I’m going to pass through quickly
Well I just wonder which season I’ve already passed
I walk passed the scenery I’m already used to seeing
I can’t slip away from the far away memories alone like this
So that I don’t lose the place that I go to…
That time I met you
On this street, I met you by chance
Even now I don’t forget, from that day on
Everything, like the sad things, the things I carried in anxiety, everything
Through your warmth changes into memories
Proud of your love
Even if a violent rain is falling
Even in strong winds
I will protect this love
If you are here then surely I can get over this
Because I am beginning to be able to think like this, so that I never loose this hand
Let’s always look towards the important times
On this street, we met by chance
Even now I don’t forget, from that day forward
Living, believing, will this is change into happiness
Forever, let’s walk together
Proud of your love
DBSK - Proud
That was why he was here, wasn’t it? He wanted to keep their love going no matter what. Nobody knew it, but when Yoochun cried during that performance, it took his all to keep himself from bawling too. After all, he had chosen this song to perform...for his Tae Hee. Every single performance was for her. If only she had known.
“OMG! The pretty boy really is a singer!” a little girl cried out. “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” She ran up to Jaejoong and hugged his legs; after all, she wasn’t tall enough to reach his waist.
Lina shot a disapproving glare at the girl. “Now Peggy, we mustn’t speak so rudely to our guest. Remember? I’m always telling you to mind your manners.”
“Yes Miss Choi,” they replied in a chorus.
She turned to Jaejoong with a cheery attitude. “Jaejoong, would you like to teach the class a DBSK song then?”
“Oh.” He was caught in surprise. “How about Balloons? We produced it aimed for the younger generation.”
And so Balloons they sang.
Jaejoong smiled as he conducted the novice choir. Maybe kids weren’t all that bad. After all, you could train them to become the next generation of great singers. And none of them screamed and chased after you like those crazy fan girls who stalked your every move. [But they probably would when they grew up.]
Lina stood in the back of the class with approval. Despite his previous comments about “freaky little
kids”, it was obvious he cared for the children. She had always thought singers, or anybody famous for that matter, were always stuck up people who were obsessed with themselves. But Jaejoong. Jaejoong was clearly different. He seemed to realize that there were other people around him and treated them all with the same respect. No matter if they were old, like her, or young, like her children. And for that, Lina respected him.
The song closed to an end and Jaejoong gazed expectantly at her.
An idea hit her. “Wait. Let me go get my camcorder.”
Jaejoong stretched his arms. It was nice to be able to eat at a restaurant [without having to order a private room] and not being interrupted by girls plagued with the DBSK Complex.
“Thanks for teaching the kids today,” Lina said shyly over the dinner table. “And compared to your cooking, I can’t cook. So I brought you out to eat as a token of my gratitude.”
“And you brought me to a Thai restaurant because...?”
“You seem to really like spicy stuff. You know how much chili you put in that Kimchi this morning? I couldn’t take it.”
How was she able to tell what he liked through one action?
“I take care of little kids. I notice little things really easily,” she answered his thoughts. “It’s especially funny when they’re lying. They look so bashful and cute, you just want to go up and hug them even though you know they’ve done something wrong.” She laughed and ate a carrot.
Was she really able to observe things so easily? Or was it because Jaejoong was just too easy to read? Was Lina noticing that he was slowly releasing his bona fide self to those surrounding him? Was she noticing that his gaze upon her had changed? And was she noticing that he still longed for that woman named Tae Hee despite all the above mentioned?
Was she noticing all of this?