Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chapter 8: Reality Bites

“You’re right. I am scared. What if I am just a passing fancy to you? What if I lose you right away? What if…? So many questions. But I guess I have to take the risks if I really want to be with you. Just like you do.”



Shin Hye has been staring at her room’s ceiling for the past hour, sprawled in bed, sleep miles away from her mind. It has been a long day and a long night for her and her heart has been really busy. Too many emotions going on inside her she doesn’t know what to feel anymore. Oppa likes me. And my heart is so happy I can actually feel I am floating with joy. It was the first time someone she really likes actually told her he likes her, too. The world has stopped spinning since Keun Suk told her at the restaurant that he wanted to know her more. Everything happened in slow motion since then. Even her breathing. He likes her. She actually heard him said those words. She even saw the expression in his eyes. He felt his lips on her hand. It was real, right? It was not a dream. It was not a scene in a drama. This is reality.

Then why is there a big BUT hanging in your head, girl? Shin Hye thinks of Keun Suk’s smile just before he drove away and she feels butterflies fluttering inside her chest once again. So that was how it feels seeing the guy you most like in the world smile back at you knowing that he likes you, too. It felt heavenly but there are questions that are trying to dampen her euphoria right now.

The what ifs.

Shin Hye knows the realities of being in the limelight. She is aware that she is a public property, everything she does can be a piece of news. Anything that comes out of her mouth can be twisted to fit someone else’s fantasies. She lives in a world where everything can be magnified way out of proportions. She knows how that kind of reality can threaten relationships for people like her and even destroy them.

And so does Keun Suk. He lives in that kind of world, too. Which makes everything a little more complicated, she sighs solemnly in the darkness of her room. If we date, can we do it before the public eye? Knowing Keun Suk, she knows they will. Will his fans understand? Will it not hurt his career to date another actress like me? She knows his growing popularity is just starting to take off. He has a large fan base consisting of women both in Korea and abroad. And God only knows how they are going to take it if they find out their idol is already dating someone. Will they like me? Will they leave him because of me?

You are overreacting, Shin Hye, a small voice scoffs at her. Just deal with it when the problem presents itself to you. But she knows his career is more at risk than hers when it comes to having relationships and making them public. Hallyu loves an unattached male celebrity more than anything else. Only a few brave souls actually muster the courage to admit their true relationship status to the public regardless of the consequences. And only a handful of these are lucky enough to still maintain their popularity as bankable stars. She cringes at the thought of what will happen to Keun Suk if things get out of hand.

But what if Keun Suk does not have any plan of making their dating public? That would be the most logical thing for him to do. But that would hurt me to no end. She suddenly tears up at the thought. This is her first time to like a guy and be liked in return. She feels her affection towards him growing everyday. She loves his company. She wants to be with him. She wants to be acknowledged as his girl. His. She wants to let the whole world know that he likes her, that he picks her among all the beautiful girls around him. She would love that to happen. She would like him to do that.

But she knows that it would be selfish of her to ask that from him. She would like him to decide on that on his own. But she is afraid to hope. She clutches her chest and whispers to him in the dark, Oppa, are you sure you like me? It will not be easy, do you know that? Am I worth it? Are you worth it?

It is the night of the Music Awards and Shin Hye sits inside her dressing room waiting for him. Her part of the show has already been concluded and she has already changed to warmer and more comfortable clothes, finally getting rid of the black dress she wore in presenting an award with Yong Hwa. That has been her last part for the show but Keun Suk is still out there hosting, and hopefully wrapping it up already for the finale, she prays as she checks her watch.

Hosting the second part of the show with him has been a great experience. Their spiels, especially her entrance, had been received well by the fans and that boosted their confidence to do their jobs well. They were both happy to be together on stage and she knew it registered well with the audience. They were having fun, especially Keun Suk who couldn’t help to tease her even in front of the audience. She was not really prepared to sing at all tonight but because of his prodding she was forced to. And he even picked the wrong song! That was not her song in the drama. She never performed it at all. No wonder she messed up the lyrics. But the fans didn’t seem to care at all, did they? Thanks to him and his charms.

Just after she made her exit in the second part, Keun Suk told her that he would like to drive her home after the awards. “But that would mean waiting for me to finish it,” he explained. But he said he would really like to be with her before she leaves for Nepal tomorrow and could she be so kind to grant his wish for tonight? Who could say no to a disarming smile like his?

He even went on his way to tell her manager about it which naturally drew questioning stares from him and her stylist. But Shin Hye was not prepared to explain things to them yet so she just gave them a shy smile and pretended that it was just the most natural thing in the world for her to wait for Jang Keun Suk in a dressing room in the middle of an awards show.

“I can actually see the words SCANDAL written both on your faces just now,” her manager tells her in mock sarcasm as he left her alone. She gave him a timid hug to hide her embarrassment.

She hears a knock on her door then a head appears. “Shin Hye-ssi?” It is Manager Lee. She bows down in acknowledgment. “Let me accompany you to the van waiting at the parking lot. Keun Suk will be with you shortly. He just wanted to meet his fans for a while,” his manager explains.

Shin Hye suddenly feels shy before his presence. Like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar, she wonders on what he must be thinking right now. Does he know about her and Keun Suk? Does he like her for him? She bites her lips anxiously.

“I made you wait for almost an hour!” Keun Suk admonishes himself when he finally settles down in the van beside her.

She feels relieve to see him at last. “It’s okay. Where is Manager Lee?” she asks him when the van starts to move.

“He brought his own car with him,” he explains. “Ah, I’m starving after all that excitement. Can we eat first before I see you home?”

She nods, her eyes shining with amusement. Now that they are seeing each other in a new light, she half expected him to treat her a little more awkwardly than before but after last night, he regards her no differently like he normally do. His gazes may be gentler and longer, his smiles a little more intimate but he is still the Oppa he knows. No putting his best foot forward. No sugar coating. He even just made himself more comfortable with her, actually. And that suits her just fine.

It still amazes her how they really became so comfortable together like they have known each other for years. ”Because of that deep kiss we shared,” he would tease her whenever people asked how comfortable their relationship was on the set of the drama. He was of course referring to the CF they made together. But they both know that was not the reason. They just clicked.

“Let’s stop for awhile at a drive through, please,” he tells the driver. “I have to show you a place I usually visit when I want to be alone. And the best time to visit is at night or early morning. The best place to eat a take-out dinner, too,” he explains to her.

“Bukak Skyway?” she guesses.

His eyes widens, surprised. “How did you know that?”

“Everybody goes there, oppa,” she jokes. “But I go there, too, when I want to clear my thoughts.”

“You’ve never been there with me,” he says matter-of-factly. She looks at him, not surprised to see laughter in his eyes.

“You bet.”

She looks at the panoramic view of the city below them and closes her eyes. Coming here never fails to de-stress her mind of all her worries. But until tonight, being here never gave her the happiness she feels right now, standing close to him. The most beautiful view in the city with her most favourite guy in the world – what else could she ask for?

“Can you keep a little secret?” Keun Suk asks her, his eyes fixed at the twinkling lights of the city below.

“Certainly,” she says, raising her pinkie finger. He laughs.

“When I miss someone I like, I don’t literally tell that person that I miss her. I find it too cheesy to do that,” he begins. “I have my own subtle way of telling I miss you.”

She furrows her brows in curiosity. “What?”

“I do weird things to catch her attention.”

“Like what?”

He tousles her hair. “You will find out soon enough.”

Thankful that the darkness can hide her blushing cheeks, she nods her head and quietly says, “Ok.”

“Can I ask you a question, Oppa?” she musters the courage to speak. Let me be bolder tonight, she asks the stars silently.

“Only if you will let me hold your hand,” he says, reaching for her hand. He laces his fingers with hers which momentarily clouds her mind.

His hands are cold from the chilly air. “Are you…I mean, have you…Do you really want to date me?” the words come out a little incoherently.

He opens up her palm and starts to write with his finger, “Yes”.


He arches his eyebrow. “Not telling the public, you mean?”

She nods.

“Do you want me not to?”

“It would be logical for you not to tell them,” she reasons out. I will try to understand.

He looks at her face probingly. “Do you want to date me, Shin Hye?”

She bites her lip at the question, momentarily taken aback. “Yes,” she whispers softly, locking her gaze with his.

He creases his forehead. “Why?”

She blushes even more. “Because I like you, too, Oppa. I want to be with you.” It feels great to finally admit it.

His face lights up in a warm smile. “Then I guess we will have to do it your way. What do you think?”

“I would like us to be honest with everyone, Oppa,” she says in a quiet voice. “But in the world we live in, too much honesty can sometimes bring more harm to us than good.”

He nods in agreement, reading her thoughts. “Then let’s not deny or confirm anything. What they see is what they get. Let them guess and speculate. They won’t hear any confirmation from us. At least not for now.”

“How about what you really want, Oppa?” she asks, knowing that he has not told her yet what he wanted to do.

“If you were not Park Shin Hye, I would not be worrying much whether everybody knows I am dating you or not. I don’t care much on what everyone else is thinking. But you are not just some nameless girl in the crowd. I have to protect you as much as you’d like to protect me,” he tells her, stroking her head tenderly.

Her heart is already bursting in small happy pieces but she has to ask one more question. “Oppa, how will I know that you will miss me for the next six days?”

He ponders on her question for a second before answering her in the poker face she has grown to love. “Maybe I’ll get a perm just to crack you up.”

And before she can burst out in laughter, he swoops in for that much-awaited deep kiss. A real kiss, this time.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: As much as I love writing my imagined love story for JGS and PSH, I guess I will have to end their story in my mind right here. Just like in real life, I want to stop telling their story right at the time their love story together as a couple begins. I believe in their chemistry. I hope they are dating or will eventually end up together for real. But if not, then once upon an imagined time in my mind, at least, they really did.

To my fellow fans who have been reading my fanfic, thank you for enjoying the ride with me. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Nothing is impossible. Nice meeting you here, guys! See you around!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chapter 7: Spilling The Beans

“I want to say the right words and do the right things for him. Does he like me? Is there a chance that someone like him can find a simple, boring girl like me attractive? ”



It is rehearsal day for the Melon Awards and Shin Hye cranes her neck towards the entrance of the music hall every time someone enters the door. She sits at the side of the stage and tries to remember what the production staffs are telling her regarding her blocking and spiels. Hasn’t he come back from his vacation yet? She wonders silently. He couldn’t be missing in this rehearsal if he is back in town already, right?

“Am I late?” the voice, that she has been waiting to hear these past few days, calls out to her from behind. She turns around, a ready smile on her lips. “Keun Suk-oppa!” That’s a little too cheerful, Shin Hye.

She looks at his face and immediately spots something different in him. “Wow. Nice tan,” she jokes. He certainly looks a little darker than his original complexion.

He smiles at her warmly, touching his cheeks a little self-consciously. “Is it that noticeable? Omma says I’m still too pale.”

“I can spot the difference. Wait, something is in your forehead,” she says, reaching out to flick a tiny speck of white from his forehead.

“What’s that? Am I having dry skin in that spot again?” Keun Suk self-consciously asks, rubbing his forehead.

“Must be the wind, Oppa. The cold dries up my skin easily, too,” Shin Hye observes, still looking at his face.

He looks at her, holding her gaze a little longer. I missed you, you know that? “Hey, your hair seems to have grown on this side quite fast!” he reaches out to touch the hair that covers her ears on the sides and he laughs as she expectedly jerks her head from the contact. “What? I’m just touching your hair, so silky,” he teases, enjoying the moment.

“Oppa, stop!” Shin Hye cries out, trying to escape from him but feels pinned by his hands holding her head. If there is something that could make her yell to no end it would be when someone touches her ears like that. It is the most sensitive ticklish part of her body. And ever since Keun Suk accidentally learned of this when they were filming the drama, he has never passed up any chance to torment her with it.

Keun Suk is laughing so hard at her cute little cries for help. He loves tormenting her like this because of the expressions on her face every time her ears get touched. She struggles to fight back but his hands are way too strong. “Oppa, please, stop it,” she said, half-laughing and half-pleading. “I will do anything you say, just stop!”

“Anything?” he asks, a mischievous glint in his eyes, stroking her ears again.

“Yes!” she cries, jerking her head and laughing uncontrollably.

“Okay, then,” he finally let her go, a wide grin on his face. “Let’s have dinner later. Your treat.”

The rehearsals wrap up quickly a few hours later. Was he serious about having dinner with me? Shin Hye asks herself as she packs up to leave. Her assistant is already waiting for her at the parking lot and she is deliberating whether to ask Keun Suk again if they will really be going out for dinner or not. He is still speaking to the director and the production crew at the opposite end of the hall. She sits quietly in the gallery and waits. I will just wait for him to finish and say goodbye. It will be too embarrassing to ask if we are still on with the dinner. Too forward, she tells herself. But I sure won’t mind having dinner with him right now. She hears her stomach grumbles. I’m starving.

From where he stands talking with the director, Keun Suk sees from his peripheral vision Shin Hye sitting just a few feet away, toying with her phone. She is waiting for me. He feels giddy at the thought. That’s a good sign.

“I always keep you waiting,” he says to Shin Hye, walking up to her. He smiles apologetically. “So where will you treat me for dinner?”

Shin Hye beams at his question. So he was really serious about their dinner date. “Anywhere you want, Oppa. Just keep your hands off my ears!”

He playfully reaches out for her ears again but she docks at the right time and runs ahead of him. He watches tenderly at her retreating figure. What is it about you that leaves me warm and giddy whenever I see you laugh or smile? He asks her wistfully.

At their dinner, Shin Hye basks in the presence of Keun Suk. She remembers how Go Mi Nam used to feel in front of Hwang Tae Kyung and marvels at how art has started imitating life, on her part, at least. Keun Suk is always a good conversationalist, never running out of stories to tell and never boring to be with. He makes her laugh and she also learns a lot from his stories. But what makes her feel special tonight is how Keun Suk tirelessly pays attention to her, teasing her, asking questions about her, giving her lingering glances that makes her heart beats at an insane rate only to stop unceremoniously whenever he flashes her a smile. Is he putting her under his spell?

“Do you like clubbing?” Keun Suk asks her, picking at a sushi roll on her plate. She grabs the hand holding the roll quickly towards her mouth and eats it before he could pry his hand away from her grasp. “That’s mine, Oppa,” she crinkles her eyes, feeling triumphant.

“I know that’s why I was about to feed it to you. You just beat me to it,” Keun Suk grins at her, obviously not wanting to be outwitted.

“Clubbing?” she repeats his question. “A little. Depends on my mood, actually. I love dancing but I feel dizzy being around a large crowd. I only go to clubs occasionally.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could go chill out in a club sometime with Hong Ki and Yong Hwa?” he suggests, his eyes sparkling. “So you can show us more of your dance moves. You dance really well.” He knows how good she dances. She can really bring the house down.

Shin Hye covers her eyes in mock embarrassment, obviously flattered. “Now, you are pulling my leg, oppa.”

She is beaming tonight, looking especially beautiful. Cheeks flushed with laughter, her eyes shining with vitality. The little make up she usually wears has worn off and her flawless skin shines through. He knows how soft that face feels in his hands. He perfectly understands why this girl is one of the most sought after endorser of cosmetics in South Korea. She is just naturally beautiful.

He looks at her steadily, his mind full of all the things he wants to tell her. You look lovely tonight. I like you. “I want to know you more,” he blurts out, thinking out loud. And as he realizes what he just said, he feels his ears burn at the same time he sees Shin Hye’s cheeks flush in deep crimson.

She looks at him, her eyes full of all the things she cannot bring herself to ask. What did you just say? Please don’t make me beg you to repeat it. Make yourself clear, oppa.

They lock gaze for the longest time since they have known each other. Each so afraid to ruin the moment, to make a false move, to do anything other than just look at each other’s lovely faces.

Shin Hye breaks the spell first. “Oppa, shall we get the bill?” She asks in a cheerful, shrilly voice. Strained, forced. Shocked.

“I want to get to know you more, Shin Hye,” he repeats himself, ignoring her question. “I need to see you often. I don’t know if you like me more than a dongsaeng does but I like you. And I’d like to be with you from now on.”

His words are clear as a spring day. His voice unwavering, soft and tender, just like the expression on his face. Then he bows his head and forces out a laugh. “I scared you.” But it has to be done sooner or later, he reasons out. I need to tell her before I explode.

Shin Hye’s lips move as if to speak, then closes abruptly. What is the proper thing to say? Will I nod? Will I say yes? But he didn’t ask a question! Will I tell him I like him, too? Shin Hye, speak up!

Aniyo. I’m not scared,” she ultimately quips, in a small voice. “Keun Suk-ssi…” she says his name and sighs silently. The words are really harder to say when they are your own, not from a script.

Keun Suk cups her face in his hands and gawks at her playfully. “I don’t need you to tell me anything right now. Take your time. Just be ready with an answer when I finally ask you the question,” he warns meaningfully. He looks at her eyes warmly, holds her gaze for a second and pinches her chin before he lets her go. I definitely caught you off-guard, didn’t I? I would like for you to open yourself to me on your own. Not because I told you I like you first.

Shin Hye follows him with her eyes. My heart is bursting, oppa.

The ride home is expected to be awkward but Jang Keun Suk knows how to handle an awkward situation when he is in control. And now that he has finally let her know what he feels, he can act more openly, less guarded and uninhibited. Now he can express how he feels towards her without checking himself if he’s being out of bounds or not. The cat is out of the bag. I can finally act on how I feel.

It is Shin Hye who grows suddenly shy and quiet in the car and Keun Suk finds it adorable to watch her act a little jumpy whenever he steals a glance at her. She doesn’t look annoyed, only shy and somehow a little lost, he observes keenly. If that’s any indication of how she feels about him, he suddenly feels excited on what she would answer when he finally asks her the inevitable question.

But first, I need to put her at ease and calm her nerves.

“Shin Hye, can I see you again tomorrow?” he pulls to a full stop in front of her house.

She snaps back from her deep thought at his question and gives him a little smile. “Oppa, we will definitely see each other again tomorrow at the Awards.”

His face breaks out into a knowing smile. “I know, Avant-Hye. But I meant seeing you off camera, off work. After the show. Just Keun Suk and Shin Hye.”

She blushes, smiling impishly. “Oh. Of course, Oppa. But I’m afraid I won’t be able to see you longer than I want to. I have to catch an early flight the morning after.”

“You’re leaving?” He feels dejected all of a sudden.

“To Nepal. I’m going for the volunteer project for a show. I believe I mentioned it to you once,” she explains. She sees how his face fell a little when she mentions that she’ll be away and her heart swells a little more.

“Ah,” he says as he suddenly remembers. “Has it been scheduled this week already?”

She nods. “I will be away for six days.”

That long? He looks at her hands on her lap and gently envelops them with his own, pouring out his yearning for her in that small gesture. Shin Hye looks at him, startled. But she does not pull back her hands from his grip. He brings her hands to his lips and kisses it.

“Keun Suk-ssi…” Shin Hye calls out softly.

“Good night, Shin Hye. I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

Good night. But it will be miles to go before I sleep tonight, Oppa. No thanks to you.

Chapter 6: Outside Looking In

“I know it when he is serious or just playing around. He can be a wild kid but he knows his limits. He’s becoming a man and the transformation I see everyday never fails to amaze me.”



Manager Lee has seen Keun Suk grow through the years. He was a witness to the kid’s perseverance and sheer determination to succeed in an industry full of uncertainties. Keun Suk is a happy person, always friendly, always armed with a smile and always full of energy and charisma. He is a person who can strike a conversation with just about anyone. And he never runs out of confidence in himself, of what he can do and what he can offer. Such confidence, Manager Lee knows, has somehow been misunderstood by critics and detractors as a massive ego waiting to explode. Add that to Keun Suk’s outright disregard to separate his private and public lives, which make him more vulnerable to every prying eyes, Manager Lee is aware that his ward has somehow earned the reputation as being a wild child who loves clubbing and partying and more importantly, loves inviting everyone’s attention to himself.

But all those misconceptions about Keun Suk are always eclipsed by the fact that he is oozing with raw talent and passion, not to mention the good looks and a great voice to match. He is the total package every producer or director wants. He has been touted as one of the next big things that will happen to Hallyu and Manager Lee is really proud of what Keun Suk has achieved so far. The kid deserves it. He has earned it, having been in the industry half his life. He always puts his heart in every project that comes his way, always thankful for the opportunity to work and hone his craft. At such a young age, he has already earned the respect of his peers in the industry for his dedication to his work. Such a show-off, his detractors say of him. They must have mistaken Keun Suk’s openness as bragging, his talkativeness as offensive, his penchant for perfection as too much and his willingness to share his life and his passions as too disconcerting. But that is just Keun Suk. Take it or leave it.

But he does lead a very active social life, this boy. He loves being around people, going to clubs and attending parties that sometimes Manager Lee has to remind him that he does not have to grace every party he has been invited to, all in the same night! Yet Manager Lee knows where this craving to be around people all the time stems from – growing up as an only child. Having no siblings of his own, he connects with people easily and gets attached quickly. Young or old, he really does not discriminate. He befriends everyone on the set, in school, in the agency, in the gym, and every place he might be. He builds no walls for himself. He does not alienate himself from the world. Even to his fans, he is known to be friendly, always reaching out to them, always ready with his trademark smile. In return, he receives love from everyone else, too. Especially from the girls.

Manager Lee is not one who likes to meddle in his ward’s private affairs. Leave that to his parents, he likes to say. Not that Keun Suk would allow him to meddle anyway. He has a mind of his own and he has made it clear early on that he will never do anything to jeopardize his career and Manager Lee has put his trust on him with those words.

He has been a witness to every girl that came and went in Keun Suk’s life for the past several years. There have been girls and women. But as far as he knows, there had only been two women who left indelible marks on Keun Suk. Only two. Until now.

Keun Suk can really be easy to read like an open book if you know him better, just like Manager Lee does. If he is interested in something, or someone, he has the habit of talking about her every chance he gets, researching information about her everywhere and talking about that person in conversations, consciously or unconsciously.

And lately these past few weeks, only one name has been in Keun Suk’s lips several times a day – Shin Hye. I’ve talked with Shin Hye about this…Shin Hye said…Did you know that Shin Hye was…Always Shin Hye this, Shin Hye that. And even now as Keun Suk sits on the sand in a tropical beach, with a cold beer in hand, their conversation always come around to that clueless girl in Korea, a thousand miles away.

Manager Lee can no longer stifle his laugh. “Three times,” he says, holding up three fingers to Keun Suk.

Keun Suk looks at him, confused. “What?”

“For the past hour, you have mentioned Shin Hye’s name three times. And we have been talking about baseball championships,” he tells him squarely. Taking a swig at his own beer, Manager Lee continues, “By the way, did you know that Shin Hye can do a killer pitch?”

Keun Suk nods. “Yeah. She did a left-handed pitch at the ---

Manager Lee burst out laughing. “See? That’s what I’m saying. You even know your facts. You’re obviously doing your homework, man.”

Furrowing his brows, clearly wanting to pretend he doesn’t know what his manager is talking about, Keun Suk asks stoically, “What do you mean?”

His manager shakes his head, staring far way into the ocean before them. “It has been awhile since you dated a girl, Keun Suk. Or even got really interested in one. It has always been all work for you and no play,” he says, matter-of-factly. “I guess it’s about time if you want to.”

Keun Suk takes a long swig from his bottle before making a reply. “I don’t want to play. Not this time. Not with her.”

Manager Lee smiles. So his hunches were right. “She is a good girl. You can see right through her that she has a big heart. And it doesn’t hurt either that she is beautiful.”

“Maybe too good for me, don’t you think? And she is young. Sometimes I feel I will only break her if I do one false move.” He can hear the reverence in Keun Suk’s voice.

“She is young but she doesn’t act or think her age. You must have noticed that by now. I think she’s made up of something solid. Not the type who would easily break.”

Keun Suk bows down his head and nods. “I know. That’s the first thing that caught my attention.”

“Does she know about how you feel?”

He shakes his head. “Aniyo. I want to take things slow," he says. Then like an afterthought, he turns to ask him in a concerned voice, "Do you think I stand a chance?”

Manager Lee looks at him, suddenly amused, then laughs as Keun Suk’s predicament dawns on him. Whatever happened to confident Keun Suk? “You’re having it real bad, are you? There is only one thing to do. Ask her yourself.”

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chapter 5: Taming The Lion

“I don’t think I’m ready to be tamed. A few have certainly tried before but never succeeded. I still want to run wild and free. So why do I have the sudden urge to try to run at your own pace when you’re not even trying to tame me?”



Aigoo, why did I give birth to a son who couldn’t keep still in one place long enough to make his mother happy?” Keun Suk’s mom complains as she serves him a hearty breakfast. In two days, he would hop in another plane yet again to head to somewhere warmer where he could frolic under the sun and get his much-deserved R&R. He can actually taste the sweet smell of the beach and feel the warmth of the sands already. Even just for a few days, he knows he can be rejuvenated by a short vacation away from the limelight, from his hectic schedules and from prying eyes.

He walks over to where his mom is standing by the sink and embraces her. “Omma, stop making me feel guilty. You know I need to recharge right? And I can’t have a decent vacation here. I need to go somewhere warmer. This Korean winter is killing me. Please understand,” he speaks in the little baby voice which he knows will always melt his mom’s heart.

His mom gives a soft laugh. “This boy! You always do what you want. I couldn’t even get a hold on you and to think I’m your mother.”

Keun Suk lets out a hearty laugh. “Yah, Omma, I only listen to you, you know that! And you know I love to run free. You know me best.”

She tousled his head lovingly. “I know. But sometimes I feel that you run too freely I can’t even keep pace with you anymore. You’re growing too fast. I just miss the little boy I can carry around wherever I go.”

He teases, “Why the sudden cheesiness, Omma? Must be the cold weather, huh? I ought to bring you with me to warmer climates, eh?”

His mom shakes her head in resignation, heaving out a sigh. “That’s why sometimes I think you really need someone to tame that restless lion in you. If I, your own mother, can’t tame you, there must be someone out there who can.”

Keun Suk gives a soft yell. “Wo-ho! I knew you were going to that! I just knew it. But, who could be that someone who can finally tame me, Omma?” he playfully asks, humouring her.

He sees a mischievous glint in his mom’s eyes and he suddenly knows she has been up to something again. “Yah, Omma. What have you been up to this time? Please don’t tell me you set me up for a match-making!” he shouts, suddenly afraid. Sometimes when his mom is bored, she can really do outrageous things that would end up having him as the victim. Him or his dad, she just had to choose.

“Of course not! You certainly don’t need to go in blind dates, do you? But if you want to, I can quickly arrange for one!” she teases which agitates him more.

“Omma, cut it out! What did you do this time? Please tell me it’s not something scandalous!”

She laughs, clearly enjoying herself. “It’s nothing serious. I was just bored the other day and I happened to pass by a fortune telling stall downtown on my way to the grocery so I thought I would check it out.”

Keun Suk’s mind starts racing. Oh, whose friend’s daughter is up this time? The last time she went to a fortune teller seeking a match for him, it was with an old friend’s daughter she just met at a wedding party. The match didn’t go well, their stars were at opposite ends but still it amused his mother. “She was actually a lot older than you. I just wanted to find out if your stars would match with a noona’s. I’m glad it didn’t,” she later revealed, again making fun at his preference to noonas.

“Are you curious yet? I tell you, it’s a match this time!” his mom asks, picking out a paper from her apron’s pocket. “I have the results!”

Keun Suk’s gives her a poker expression, “Okay, Omma. You win. I’m curious now. Tell me, who’s the lucky girl this time? The ahjumma at the grocery store?”

Aniyo. It’s someone you know personally. It’s that sweet girl, Park Shin Hye.”

Keun Suk feels his head swells a little. “And you said that it’s a match?” He wouldn’t even dare to ask how she got hold of Shin Hye’s birth date and sign. What really piques his curiosity is --- “Why Park Shin Hye all of a sudden? Have you run out of your friends’ daughters?” he jokes.

“Now someone is getting a little too curious,” her mom keenly observes, eyeing him with laughing eyes. “I like her. She is pretty and she seems to be a very nice girl. And the fortune teller said that someone with a birth date and sign like hers complements the fiery nature of yours. She can tame you.”

Ah, so that’s where the taming and running wild and free talk came from. “So what do you think I should do now, Omma?” he nudges her, a playful smirk toying on his face.

“There’s no harm in trying, that’s all I’m saying. Why don’t you take her out one of these days, treat her to dinner, get to know her more. Or bring her here. I would love to meet her. I have always been a fan.”

Getting my mom’s approval just like that, without even trying? Your stars must really be lucky. He drinks his cup of coffee, plants a kiss on his mom’s head and says, “Let’s see what I can do, Omma,” he smiles at her, his eyes shining and heads out of the dining room.

The conversation with his mom has stayed in his mind the whole day through. Was it just coincidence that his mom took a liking to Shin Hye enough to have her consult a fortune teller? He shakes his head incredulously. Omma is never the type who meddles in his personal affairs. She pairs him up with virtually every girl’s birth date and sign she could have her hands on all right, but it was always behind his back. She never shoves it to him like what other moms do to their sons. And she does that just for fun, he knows that. His past girlfriends had all been welcomed by his mom without much ado. His preference towards older women was never made an issue although she would make occasional comments about it from time to time, poking a fun at him. But that was it. “I trust you enough to know that you will always make the right choice, whether with girls or with your life,” his mom once told him. And he vowed never to prove her wrong.

It’s like something a fan would do, he thinks. But he has to admit, it looks cute. And who would ever think Shin Hye and him are fated to match, at least by fortune teller’s standards? He lets out a wide grin at the thought as he proceeds to another interview session with a magazine.

With his mom’s latest trip to the fortune teller on his mind, it is no wonder that when the interviewer asks him something about Park Shin Hye that day, he tells them the story about how his mom adores his co-star and how she found out that they are well-matched for marriage. It is a cute gesture he thinks he should share for their fans and he didn’t give it much thought until he gets online the following day.

Online forums are flooded with discussion about what he just spilled the day before, zeroing to the cute, seemingly harmless story of his mother’s trip to the fortune teller. Now both his fans and Shin Hye’s are dissecting and analyzing that interesting part. Are they or aren’t they? the fans speculate. He smiles at their astuteness, how creative they can be in their imagination, and laughs at some of their theories and fantasies.

“I think they are already dating!” writes one fan. Hmm, getting there, he says out loud at the computer screen.

“Just date already!” squeals another. Give us sometime, buddy, he answers silently to the request.

Ah, if only he could let all the fans know what he is really feeling right now, maybe they can help him get the girl. Which reminds him of her. What would she think when she reads these news? Would she feel uncomfortable, threatened or awkward? Dumb-ass, you should have thought of that when you opened your big mouth, he chided himself when realization dawns on him. What must she and her manager think of him with this news? Aaargh!

“Oppa, are you playing with my feelings?” Shin Hye asks the screen as she reads the news article on Jang Keun Suk’s latest interview. Is this just a fan service? She asks herself. But surely, if it is for the fans, he would at least consult her first with the idea, right? Not like this. Surely he must know how news like this could antagonize some fans out there who would then turn their vengeful eyes on her. The last thing she wants right now is to have antis.

But why involve your Omma if it is just a fan service? She ponders on. The thought of his mom liking her further fans the embers of her growing emotions a little more but she knows she must take the news with a grain of salt. The bit about the fortune teller really got her giddy when she read about it, though. If that part is true, she could die happily just right now.

Should she clarify this with him? Surely, the press would also ask for her reaction before long. What would she tell them? How could she properly react to something she doesn’t have the slightest idea about? And her manager is already getting suspicious about her and Keun Suk. That was absurd but she couldn’t blame him for thinking that way. What with the private meeting they just had and now this kind of news from Keun Suk. If I were my manager, I would start getting suspicious, too. What to do? What to do?

Her answer comes in the form of a phone call.

“So, have you decided where to spend our honeymoon?” the distinct voice playfully asks her even before she can say hello. “I think someone mentions about Africa. Are you up to it?”

“Oppa! What was that about?” she blurts out, relieve to know that it’s him on the other line.

He laughs, a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry if I didn’t tell you beforehand, Shin Hye-ssi. My mistake. I know I should have just kept my mouth shut about that thing with Omma. It just came out in the interview because they asked me about you and the first thing that came to mind was that and I thought it was hilarious and I wanted to share it to the fans,” he explains lengthily. Why are you blabbering, Keun Suk?

“So that part was true? Your Omma really went to a fortune teller?” her voice sounds small all of a sudden.

“Uh-huh. Funny, right? I don’t even know how she got your birth day or your sign. She must have been lurking in online forums, too, yeah?” he jokes, more to himself.

Shin Hye laughs at the thought of his mom lurking in online forums like a devoted fan. “I hope she got my data right, though. Must be a waste if she got it all wrong.”

She hears him laugh again. “It was right. Exactly like what you shared with us when we were asking each other’s signs and stuff with the guys last time.”

“So that was not just fan service, then, Oppa?” she can’t help but ask him about it. She has to.

“You actually think I just made that up, huh?” He asks, a little startled. How could she think like that?

“It’s not like that, Oppa. It’s just that I – well, who would have thought about your mom doing something like that? I mean, like in the movies?”

“Yeah, I know. The part where I decided to share that bit of information to the public, maybe that’s fan service. But my Omma’s participation? Oh THAT really happened. That was real.”

Stop! I’m nearly out of breath, she pleads silently as she listens to him. This is too much information she can handle in one phone call. Don’t keep my hopes up.

“I called to tell you I’m sorry for any confusion or inconvenience the news may have caused you. Please forgive me. Next time, I will see to it that you’re in with the secret before I leak it to the press. Ahrasso?”

“Ahrasso, Oppa,” she answers warmly.

“But you have to admit that our wedding photos online are hilarious, yeah?” he reminds her again and they both burst out laughing.

I’m going for my holiday tomorrow, Keun Suk tells the phone on his hand long after they said their goodbyes. When I get back, I hope to spend time with you again. Not before the cameras. Just Keun Suk and Shin Hye. Do you think we can do that?