This was it. The culmination of all the effort they had put in for the past 12 weeks. This was the defining moment of his career and just another milestone for hers. He looked over only to find that cheesy smile that had become a permanent feature of hers. She was looking straight out to the camera and hadn't noticed him staring. He smiled and felt reassured. He knew how nervous she was at this moment, but Hyoyeon was always an expert in hiding her emotions. He could only try to be half as strong as she was being in this situation. He longed to reach out for her hand.
12 weeks of dancing together, of hardships and of laughter. Just starting out in the world of professional dancing, he could have never pictured himself in this position. Here he was at the finale of one of the most successful television franchises and with one of the world's most popular girl group members. At their first practice she recoiled at his touch, and after 12 weeks just the look in his eye could dictate the way her body moved. He was more than impressed with this girl group idol, the queen of pop and lock. The girl who wouldn't give up despite a jam-packed schedule as an international pop star. The girl who wanted this more than anyone here, including himself.
The contestants huddled together as the announcer held the card that would determine their fate. This was it.
"And the winner of Dancing with the Stars is..."
He held his breath. They couldn't comfort each other through touch, but she gave him a quick glance and that's all he needed to feel calm. Beads of sweat formed on his palms and his mind went blank as he hoped for the best.
"The winner is...."
I don't care about myself at this moment. I want her to be happy, that's it. Please. For her.
"Choi Ye Jin and Park Ji Woo!"
Crushed. He couldn't deny what he was feeling at this moment. But he was just starting out. He couldn't have asked for more... just standing here at the finale during his first season was a dream. But Hyoyeon. All the hard work she had put in. He turned to applaud the winners and just as he looked over at her to comfort her, she had already run off to congratulate her rival. And she smiled brightly. The smile never seemed to leave her face as she was handed bunches of congratulatory bouquets by her friends even after having been deemed second best. Everyone seemed to agree that this was an unfair situation. But if Hyoyeon did, she wouldn't let the cameras see it.
Now is not the time. But I need to get her alone.
He watched with a heavy heart as two of her beloved members approached her. His heart melted watching her break down in their arms. He watched one of them cry angry tears as the other did her best to console them both. All the pain that she had been holding back was released with them. As resentful as he was that he didn't have that magic touch, he was mostly just relieved that they were here for her and that she had the chance to cry these tears she so desperately needed to cry.
Hours later, he entered a taxi and told the driver ahjussi to take him home. They had celebrated with the winners for the rest of the night and all of their sad feelings were left behind at the DWTS studios. Still, he felt as if the night was unfinished.
Me: Where are you?
Ah come on, I know you're not sleeping yet. Text back.
The sound of his message alert tone made his heart jump.
Bbuing Bbuing: I just saw you! Where do you think I am? Manager oppa is driving me home, obviously! :-P
He smiled to himself. This girl.
Me: I want to see you.
His unconsiously tapped his foot waiting for a reply.
Bbuing Bbuing: Where?
Me: Our practice room.
Bbuing Bbuing: You'll have to wait till we get home. That way I'll take my car. If only you had a Toyota to pick me up in T_T
Why is this girl so silly?
Me: ㅋㅋ I'll be waiting.
"Ahjussi. Turn around, please."
He sat in their old practice room and his heart beat even faster than the first day he saw her at the photoshoot. Why was she taking so long? He took the time to look around the room and reminisce. He thought about all the days they had spent in this room. All the sweat and most importantly, the laughs. Because while anyone else would've broken down from the stress, Kim Hyoyeon was always waiting for him with a smile. On the practice day after the day of her slipping incident, she punched him on the arm and asked him why he threw worse than Jessica Jung. He had stared down to the ground but all the girl could do was laugh. And he couldn't help but smile back. He had learned so much from his time with her. He learned how to have the strength to face any situation.
She walked in and he immediately stood up.
"Annyeonghaseyo!" She bowed deeply.
"Hey! Are we strangers or what?"
She smiled her usual mischeivious smile.
"Chingu. I'm sorry you had to ride a taxi here. I'm so sorry you don't have a new car."
"Are you kidding me? I love taxis. What would I even do with a car? I need to be driven around like an SNSD member."
She giggled. God, how he needed to hear that wonderful laughter at this moment. It was soothing to his soul.
They stayed silent for a good while, as neither really had nothing to say that hadn't been said earlier that day. All the apologies and the thank you's... all the formalities had already been taken care of.
"So... you wanted to see me because..."
This girl. Always knew how to make a moment more awkward than it needed to be. What would he say? How would he say it? He decided to ditch the speech and simply held out both of his arms. She looked back at him and her eyes became solemn. Almost the same type of look she gave her members when she saw them. And she slowly walked over to him. He embraced her and she hugged him right back. The feeling was nothing like the y and passionate embraces they gave eachother during their performances. This was completely different and felt much more intimate. She wouldn't shed a tear, but she wouldn't let go of him.
After a few minutes, he let her go.
"You're the winner. You're my winner."
He reached into his pocket and took out a small box and opened it.
"This here is the ring I bought for our jive performance. You remember that?"
"OOH! I get to keep it!! Yeah baby!!" She laughed as she tried grabbing the box out of his hands. But he refused and waved it over her head.
"Look here, danshin. I may have told you it was cheap, but this cost me some money. There's no way you're getting it."
She folded her arms in fake disappointment.
"There's no way you're getting it... until you hear me out."
She put on a puzzled expression, but didn't question him and allowed him to continue.
"We've spent 12 weeks together. And through those 12 weeks you've been stubborn, selfish and greedy."
"If all you're going to do is insult me, then just give me the ring so I can at least feel good about it."
Kim Hyoyeon did not like being shushed. He loved the bratty expression she had on her face at that moment.
"You were stubborn because you wouldn't let the routines be anything less than the best. You were selfish because you could never get enough practice time. And you were greedy because you wanted to win this competition more than anyone else."
Her scowl began to turn into a smile and he tried to stay serious as he continued on.
"I've learned my craft from some of the best ballroom dancers in Korea, but there is no expert on Earth that could have taught me everything I've learned while I've been with you. You inspire me and I want you to know that I am more proud than anyone. Like I said, you are the true winner to me no matter what anyone tells me."
"You're not too shabby yourself, I guess. Although you at popping."
He had to laugh at that. "Yes, that I do."
He stared into her eyes and she stayed silent. They were able to read eachother so well, that she knew he wasn't done saying whatever it was he had to say.
"This should officially be our last day together. I am going to go on and dance in other competitions and you will continue to be a world famous idol. It should. But I don't want it to be."
"Will you be lonely without my constant texting? I'll keep bugging you, I promise!"
"I'll be lonely without your texts. Your calls. Your voice. Your face."
He took the ring out of the box and stuck his hand out with his palm facing out. She placed her hand in his as if on cue.
"I know you're an idol. So you don't always have to wear this ring. But when you get home at night from all your schedules, I want you to put this on and think of me. You can continue to belong to the world when you're on stage, but when SNSD's Hyoyeon returns home, she becomes Kim Hyoyeon. My Kim Hyoyeon."
Her eyes slowly began to tear up as he slipped the ring onto her finger. He moved closer to her and placed his other hand on her waist, getting into one of their dancing positions. He pulled her close and softly whispered into her ear.
He pulled back to stare into her eyes. He wasn't expecting a reply. He just wanted her to know how he felt. And as expected, she said nothing, but instead took action herself. She placed her hand on his neck and brought his head closer.
"I'm short... you'll have to bend down lower."
He wasn't used to being led. He was the one always giving direction. She leaned in and gave him a sweet kiss on the cheek. She looked back up at his face to find that he looked a bit disappointed. She smiled and went back in for a peck on the lips. He wasn't satisfied. This time he went in for a long, passionate kiss on the lips. They stood there in the middle of the empty practice room and kissed each other for the first time, but not the last. His hands moved down her back and stopped at her waist, pulling her in even tighter, not wanting this moment to end.
She ended the deep kiss and pecked him on the lips once more before whispering back, "Saranghae."
A tear ran down his face as he pulled her back in once more.