Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Trouble with Kisses

I wrote this for fun. I've been cheating on KS2H with Sweet Potato couple lately, so I felt guilty and did this on a whim. I missed connecting with this couple.

The Trouble with Kisses

“I don’t want you to do it.” Keun Suk tells her bluntly, the poor script squirming in his hands.

Wae?” Shin Hye pouts, ignoring his curt tone. “It’s an interesting script. And I know Kim Hyun Joong-shi. I have worked with him before. It’s a great opportunity, oppa,” she points out to him squarely, grabbing the script out of his hands.

Keun Suk’s brows reach the ceiling at her reply. “Wae? You are asking why? Did you even read the script?”

“I did. I even watched the drama, both the Japanese and the Chinese versions. And I’m starting to read the manga,” she says, smoothing the now crumpled script in her hands. “I already did my homework in this one, don’t you worry, oppa. I’m ready to take on the role.”

“The role will only typecast you with these generic storylines, Shin Hye. It’s about a stupid girl who falls in love with a more stupid guy. It’s a stupid story and I think your portfolio would be a lot better without it. You have done this in Minamishineyo. And that’s the best story ever for dimwitted characters like this girl in this script. This is just rehashing Go Mi Nam all over again. Don’t do it. Find something worthwhile to do, not this one,” he reiterates his opinion, scowling.

Shin Hye rolls her eyes. “Excuse me? It’s a cute love story. I don’t see any Go Mi Nam in the character. And it’s popular. The fans will love it. And I’m sorry to say this, but I think a noona adopting a grown man as a pet is yet to be the most ridiculous plot I have ever read. It’s not even realistic!”

“At least, the role is challenging,” Keun Suk quips pointedly, his knuckles tapping softly the steering wheel of his khan.

Shin Hye turns to him, checking to see if he is serious about what he just said. He looks at her squarely, his face is humourless. “Oh, you think wearing tutus and doing aegyos as a pet to a noona character is challenging?” she asks sarcastically. “Oh. I didn’t know that.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say, Shin Hye,” he tells her, suddenly cold. “Fine. If you so badly want to do this project, then do it. I’m not stopping you.”

“Oppa, you just did,” her voice calm but she is not cowering to his glum mood. Not this time. “And you weren’t saying exactly nice things to my potential project yourself.”

“Why do you like this role so much?” His voice is getting more irritated everytime he opens his mouth.

“I don’t like this role so much,” Shin Hye laughs drily. “I just want to do it, that’s all. I think I can interpret the role of the girl in a new way. Give it a fresher perspective. And you know I’m a sucker for love stories.”

He glares at her, his nose flaring. Why can this girl be so blatantly clueless when he desperately wants her not to? “What’s the title of the drama again?” he asks her, his eyes piercing hers like a knife.

“Playful Kiss,” she answers him, not flinching from his deathly glares.

“I see. Kiss huh?” Keun Suk asks, losing his grip on his sanity. “Kiss, Shin Hye. Are you even thinking? Did you even read this?” he points to the script on her lap. “Did you really watch the dramas? There are kissing scenes in almost every episode! Does that mean nothing to you?”

Shin Hye smirks. “We are actors, oppa. It’s part of the job description. Chill.”

“Chill?” He murmurs, almost to himself, pursing his lips so hard they are starting to have a life of their own.  “Yeah, watching you getting kissed every week will definitely make me chill.”

Shin Hye tilts her amused face towards his. “Why are you making a fuss over this, Keun Suk? It’s a role. I got an offer. I’m mulling over it. I want to accept it,” she sighs. “Aissh, I should have not told you about this if I knew this would happen.”

“Don’t do it. Just choose another one.”

“It’s the only offer I got so far,” she replies coolly.

“Then wait until a better offer comes along. End of discussion. Let’s go, I’ll get you home,” he says, revving up the engine.

Wae? Why  are you being difficult about this? I’m an adult now. I can do this kind of stuff. And are you my manager now? Since when did you start calling the shots in my career options, oppa?”

Keun Suk steps on the brakes even before he eases the car out of its parking spot.  He adjusts his whole body to face Shin Hye. His face contorting into a torn, unexplainable expression.

“Kim Hyun Joong-sshi is an idol. You will get more anti-fans being paired up with him,” he tells her lamely, plucking his reason out of nowhere. 

“Tsk. I can deal with it. I’m made of harder stuff, right?” she snorts. “And last time I checked, Kim Hyun Joong-sshi is having a career shift, I think. I’m sure his fans would understand.”

He grits his teeth in exasperation. “Shin Hye!” Turning his face away from her, he shakes his head in defeat. “Fine, do it. Just do whatever you think is right. Whatever you want. I’m…arrrggh! I’m out of this.” He runs his fingers through his hair, composing himself. “You’re right. I don’t have the right to dictate you.”

Shin Hye hides an amused smirk. “Well, if you only give me a beautiful reason not to accept the project, I would reject it in a heartbeat,” she baits. “But all you’ve been giving me so far in this argument are just lame, oppa. You’re looking like a typical jerk of a boyfriend, you know that?” she tells her bluntly, her face deadpan, her voice sweet.

Two flaring eyes probes Shin Hye’s for a minute, luring her into a staring contest she knows she would win. She meets his probing gaze nonchalantly, bravely and confidently.

“You are making a fool out of me, aren’t you?” he hisses, turning his eyes away, defeated.

“No,” Shin Hye corrects him, fighting the urge to baby his bruised ego. “You, oppa, are making a fool out of yourself.”

“What do you want me to say?” he asks her, his eyes fixed on the windshield of the car.

“I don’t know,” she murmurs softly. “Just the truth, maybe?”

He heaves a long sigh before he speaks. “I’m not ready to share you. It is selfish and it makes me a cold, chauvinist Neanderthal, I know, but I just can’t share you. At least, not yet. The project is good. I know you will have no trouble nailing the part. But I’m uncomfortable with the storyline and the kissing scenes,” he says in a low voice, phrasing the words slowly.  “And I mean it when I said you will only risk being typecasted in such roles if you accept this one, Shin Hye. You ought to tap your versatility as an actress by choosing projects carefully.”

Shin Hye throws him her genuine smile for the first time that night. “Now you’re talking.”

“It’s an unsolicited advice,” Keun Suk is quick to point out. “But if it will make you happy doing it, then go. If your management says it’s right for your career and you agree with it, then it’s fine with me.”

Jeongmal?” Shin Hye asks, wanting to make sure. “You will respect what I want?”

Keun Suk nods and looks at her straight in the eyes. “I will. I will just deal with myself later.”

It is then that Shin Hye laughs, her eyes twinkling, her face beaming. “Aigoo.”

Then she tells him sheepishly, “Well, my management and you seem to be on the same wavelengths, lately, oppa. Because they told me the same thing you just did.”

Keun Suk furrows his brows. “What do you mean?”

“I just rejected the project this morning. We think it’s a good role but it’s not for me. When I was reading the script, I see a lot of Go Mi Nam in the lead girl’s character. I don’t think it will be wise to reprise the role again, in another project, in another story,” she explains, her eyes dancing naughtily. “Besides, the kissing scenes are indeed a handful. I don’t think we are ready for that yet.”


“You and I. I don’t think you can see me doing those scenes this early. And I am not ready either,” Shin Hye admits. “To kiss Kim Hyun Joong-shi, I mean,” she clarifies, kidding.

Keun Suk drops his head on the steering wheel and lets out a little scream. 

Then, raising his head to face her, he says in a vindictive tone, “You do know that you’re going to pay for this little prank, right?”

Shin Hye nods coyly, her heart reflecting in her eyes. “I am ready, oppa.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free Falling

Browsing photos from the Japan FM, something odd stood out for me. Shin Hye's sad eyes against Sukkie's radiant smiles. I was not there so I don't know if it's just me and my hyperactive imagination doing their usual exercise, but pictures don't lie (at least, not the PS-ed ones). Fans like me can speculate all we want but we will never get the definite answer to our questions, won't we? So allow me to hypothesize. I have literary license to do that. 

 Free falling

Not again, Keun Suk flares inwardly as he scans the message on his phone.

“Thank you noona,” he smiles politely at his make-up artist, checking his reflection on the mirror.

He checks his watch. He has twenty minutes left before the show starts. He taps his phone absently on his forehead, deliberating on what to do. Then as his gaze falls on Keunsama’s broad back talking animatedly to a staff, a decision comes to mind.

“Hyung,” he taps his manager’s shoulder. “I’ll be at Shin Hye’s dressing room.”

What did he do this time? What did the world do?

“Oppa, let’s tone down the fan service a bit, shall we? Let’s just be professional about this. Thank you,” Keun Suk recites the message he received earlier to Shin Hye, his face searching hers, trying to be calm as possible.

She avoids his eyes. “You heard me, oppa,” she says pursing her lips.

“We already talked about this, right? A hundred times,” he tells her patiently. “We need to do this, Shin Hye. And trust me, no one will hate you if I sing a song with you onstage.”

She looks at her with a serious expression on her face. “But not too much, please. I don’t want people speculating about us after this fan meet. I know I said I would be okay for anything but…” she trails on, hoping he would understand what she wants to say.

He doesn’t. “Relax, Shin Hye. No one’s going to eat you alive. You see those fans out there? They came here for you, for me. Let’s just give them a good show, shall we?”

“Just promise me not to let them know about us. Not a hint.”

He smirks. “Watch me. They won’t even know the difference.”

She shakes her head. “I’m serious, Keun Suk. I don’t want you pulling a stunt onstage for me. No, please. Just stick with the script and the programme.”

A cloud passes through Keun Suk’s eyes. “So we will do another SBS Awards stunt, then?” he says, his playfulness gone. “That’s not possible here, Shin Hye. You know that.”

Her lips quiver. And his heart twists at the sight. “We made an agreement. You will protect me, right, oppa?”

He clenches his jaw, his eyes locking gaze with hers. Why is it so easy to say yes when he is lost in those eyes?

“I never forget that. But you still don’t trust me,” he says, unable to veil the little edginess in his voice.

She shakes her head in protest. “You know my reasons.”

I memorize them even in my sleep, he tells himself silently. You want to build a wall between your private and public life. You want to forge a career path totally different from mine. You don’t want to attract antis. You don’t want us to be constantly associated together.

“And I know them by heart,” Keun Suk points out, forcing a cheery smile. “But this fanmeet is all about Go Mi Nam and Hwang Tae Kyung, Shin Hye. The fans will expect us to relive their characters for at least a couple of hours. And we will just have to cater to that. Loosen up, allow yourself to have fun. Please?” he asks, begging her with his eyes.

She looks at him anxiously, still unconvinced. Still scared out of her wits.

“Listen, I’m going out there as Jang Keun Suk,” he tells her sternly, his eyes probing hers.  “And I’m going to reminisce with the fans about the drama. With you. I will do some fan service, maybe at your expense, maybe not, if I can help it. But I will not talk about the Park Shin Hye I know personally. I will not tell them personal things about you and me. No ma’am, I will never do that. Fair enough?”

“I don’t know, oppa,” she heaves a sigh. Her eyes are still anxious, he can tell.

He checks his watch. “It’s almost time. We can do this. You will love interacting with the fans, believe me. I’m here. I got your back. You trust me, right?”

De,” she gives him a little nervous smile.

There, that’s a start, he muses. He looks at her affectionately, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “I’ll see you onstage then,” he says, giving her a beaming smile, before making his exit from her room.

He understands where she is coming from. He can relate to her fears. But can you learn to trust me more? Can you bring yourself to believe that I am for real? That I am not using you just to feed other people’s fantasies?

He exhales heavily as he waits for his cue backstage. I guess I still have a lot to prove to you, Shin Hye. But I’m not going anywhere, that’s for sure.

Fall with me. Let yourself go. I can be worth it, Keun Suk wistfully tells Shin Hye silently as the familiar melody of Still wafts into the concert hall.

Fan Letters

This is a part of a collaboration I did with my fanfic partner, earthprincess, for the piece we submitted for the ANJELL FM in Japan. Now that the madness is over, I think it's now okay to share. Read this with this. Kamsahamnida.

Fan Letters

June 10, 2010
10 PM
Rehearsal Room


I write this with mouth slightly agape as I watch you dance. You move and my eyes follow your body in a trance. Have I told you that you remind me of a swan? Not only when you dance but just about every time you move, act and talk. Your body is graceful, your moves precise, in sync with the rhythm, in rhyme with the beat.

I look at your reflection in the mirror and laugh, you have been practicing the same routine nonstop for an hour and still your focus hasn’t faltered one bit -- one of the reasons I am drawn to you. You are dedicated and passionate with just about anything you set your eyes on and you inspire me each time I work with you. Like with this fan meeting in Japan.

It excites me to share the same stage with you again, Shin Hye-ah. Since the SBS Awards night last year, we haven’t got the chance to share the limelight until now and it thrills me to no end to face the fans of the drama with you and only you. Oh, I know, I know, A.N.JELL won’t be the same without Shin Woo and Jeremy. But those pretty boys are so busy with their idol lives that we just have to make do with the both of us. And who is complaining? I most certainly am not.

Oh yeah, I am with you when you said you missed Hong Ki a lot these days. The boy has been busy practicing how to properly sing Japanese songs with his band, so I heard. And Yong Hwa…well your Bolmae Jung has been busy dominating the airwaves yet again with his dongsaengs, right? And maybe a little caught up charming SNSD’s maknae, you know, that tall girl who loves to eat sweet potatoes? I guess you should stop worrying about him being sick now. He’s being taken care of, I am sure.

So, no, I don’t think Shin Woo and Jeremy will be in Japan to defend you from Tae Kyung’s advances this time. Haha.

Are you afraid of me, Shin Hye? Because I think I should be the one who should be scared…scared that you might slip from my grasp as easily as you have charmed your way to my heart. You are a joy to work with and you always magically lure people to your web effortlessly. I have lost track of the guys who have sworn their fascination about you. Yes, I have been keeping tab and I am not sure I like what I have been seeing so far. But that keeps me on my toes, gives me more reason to focus on you more so I think that’s a good thing.

I am blabbering again, I know. And yes, you’re right, if I don’t watch it, I think I will lose on our bet come fan meeting day. I don’t think I will be able to keep my eyes and hands off you onstage. I don’t think I can stop myself from saying embarrassing things about you on that day either. I will probably lose it, Shin Hye. I just know it.

You know why? Because as I sit cross-legged on the floor watching you dance, sweat, laugh and smile, I feel right at home and it scares me a bit. It scares me because I have never felt so at home like this with any girl before. I wait for you to catch my eyes and hope for a smile in return, feeling like a lovesick schoolboy ogling his crush from afar. I am done for.

So, yes, this coming fan meet, please do me a favor will you? Bring out the Hwang Tae Kyung in me. You know, the guy who doesn’t do or say mushy things, even at gunpoint. I need to channel that guy again, Shin Hye. And be Go Mi Nam, the girl who hiccups at the very sight of me. I missed that girl. I miss seeing that girl in you.

Let’s go back to our favorite roles once more – the characters that led us to each other.



Sunday, July 4, 2010


Five years ago, I lost a friend the way Park Yong Ha's friends lost him a few days ago. I remember feeling lost and confused with all the questions left unanswered. I remember being scared, of frantically reminding myself and my other friends that there are a million reasons to live,not end, life. I wanted to channel those feelings through this fic. And yeah, suicide might be too serious for a fanfic you might say, but I lived through what my friend did and the only sane thing that blossomed from such tragedy was the realization that love is really all you need to live and appreciate life. Nothing else matters. Only love. It sustains you, even through the most tragic of circumstances, such as death. 


From a few meters away, you can see her sitting solemnly on a bench, hair tucked neatly in a red beanie, something you previously owned, you note with a smile. She wears her hair long nowadays and you love it when it just falls freely on her shoulders like a silk veil, taunting your senses, giving off a faint vanilla scent that you love so much. But for tonight, as part of the drill when you meet in public places such as Cheonggyecheon, she neatly ties her hair in a ponytail under your old, trusty beanie, in an attempt to be incognito.

Cheonggyecheon at 11 in the evening is a place of serenity. You can hardly hear the traffic on the street 15 feet above. All you can hear are the soft murmurs of the water from the stream and the small waterfalls around. It is perfect for people like you who want to avoid attention. A few couples are walking at a leisurely pace, some people stroll alone deep in their own thoughts, and others, like Shin Hye, sit peacefully on the stone benches, eyes on the sparkling water illuminated by the lights, as if on a trance.

But you know why she is in a pensive mood tonight. Her silhouette radiates a sadness you can understand. It is the reason you asked her out to meet you despite your busy schedule. You want to see her at times like this. You need her as much as she needs you. Maybe even more.

“That beanie looks good on you,” you say softly, sitting beside her, adjusting your cap to a comfortable angle. She looks up with a ready smile that fails to hide the clouds in her eyes.

Touching up her head self-consciously, she gives a small laugh. “It feels comfortable, oppa. It covers my head snugly. Not too large, just enough for a cover up.”

You smile, your eyes feasting on how her round eyes reflect back the lights around you. “I’d still recognize you, though, even from afar,” you say, patting her head affectionately, “because of this beanie.”

She lets out a small chuckle then bows her head silently. You let your hand linger on her shoulder a little longer, savoring the silence with her.

Then she speaks gently to the wind. “The water is pretty with the underwater lights on, right, oppa?” She points to the stream before you. “Everything looks beautiful in the limelight. Everybody gets attracted to the light.”

You nod, following her gaze. The LED lights in the fountains and in the stream indeed add charm to the place.

“Like we do,” she adds in a whisper, sadness coating her words. “But when the lights are turned off, nobody really cares about the water anymore, what goes underneath, except for maybe a few. The imperfections carefully tucked away, shoved under the surface…just because the water is not really beautiful when it’s pitch dark.”

You turn to look at her, studying her profile. “But as you said, there are still a few who would really care, Shin Hye. And that is all that matters. That is all we need.”

She nods absently. “When I think of sunbaenim, I hope I was there for him, oppa. I hope he felt that somebody was there for him, at all cost. Maybe it could have changed his mind. Maybe…” she trails on, sadness weighing her every word.

You reach out to hold her hand. It is warm and it fits yours perfectly, comfortably. “We all feel that way, Shin Hye. But he made a decision. I’m sure it was a painful choice to make.”

She turns to you, eyes glistening with unshed tears. “Oppa, promise me one thing?” she asks.

You hold her gaze for a few seconds, giving her your answer before your mouth moves to say the word, “Anything.”

“Don’t lose me,” she breathes, her voice shaking. “Find me even when the lights are off. Find me in the dark, search for me when I’m lost. Even when I say everything is okay, when you feel that I am not, please don’t believe me. Even if we are no longer together, even just as friends, don’t lose sight of me. I promise I’ll do the same.”

You see the fear in her eyes, hear the alarm in her voice and you forcefully swallow the lump in your throat as you reach out to caress her cheeks gently. “Ya,” you scold her, attempting to be playful, “That’s a given. I will never lose you. I promise.”

This is the first time you see her vulnerability up close. She is still shaken by the sad news, you can see that. You were, too. Everybody was, or still is. But as you hold her in your arms tonight, as you listen to her long-drawn sighs, as you feel the frantic beating of her heart, it dawns on you that this is the first time she has verbalized her need for you.

“I can easily pick you out in a crowd. Of course, I can always find you,” you assure her, pulling her close to you, letting her head rest on your chest. “I will always remind you that life is beautiful. I will relentlessly try to make your life more interesting. And, down the road, if we will ever go our separate ways, whenever you feel lost, look back to this moment and think of my promise. If you ever feel lost, know that someone will always be willing to find you. That would be me.”

“The lights can do tricks to the eyes, oppa,” she answers slowly. “Just like how fame can fool the best of us. But when the lights go off, when the applause dies down, the heart can feel empty and the soul can feel alone. We need to be reminded that we are never alone. That there is always a reason for us to be here.”

You lean back to catch her eyes. Twitching your lips to a goofy grin, you tell her, “You’re one of the reasons why I love being here.”

The tears that have been threatening to flow finally escape from her glistening eyes. She shyly brushes them with her hand. “And this pretty face will always remind me that I am blessed,” she stares back at you, her heart on her sleeve.
You feel your ears burn at her sincere words, rendering you speechless for a moment. All you can do is bring your lips to her temple and kiss her solemnly.

Yes, life will always be wonderful, you tell yourself. And someday, on your last curtain call, when your own star has finally dimmed, when the applause of the fans and the shrieks of the crowd are all but a wonderful memory, you know you will never feel empty. Your life would never be a waste.

Because once upon a time, on a starry, summer evening, a beautiful girl clung to you with tears in her eyes, poured her heart out and said she needed you. She asked you to find and never lose her. She let her guard down. She made you feel needed and wanted.

That alone makes this life worthwhile.

Friday, July 2, 2010


My favorite people are back. So they really did meet in Japan, eh? Minus my bias, Yong Hwa, who I knew was back in Korea by Sunday for a show in Busan, his hometown. Too bad. Then days later, the 3 of them, YH, SH and KS had to show up at PYH's wake to pay their last respects. It was a sad event. I don't even know if they were there at the same time. Hong Ki wasn't able to go as he stayed behind in Japan (but per his Cyworld update, he was really devastated, too, of the sad news). But this fic is a happy one, don't worry. Here's Hong Star, Bolmae-Jung and KS2H.


“Watch the sake, Hong Ki. This is not Seoul. I’m not going to take responsibility for you, ahrasso?” Jang Keun Suk glares at the goofy FT Island vocalist as he tinkers with his camera, prepping up to take some pictures of him, Shin Hye and Hong Ki. It takes a miracle to even get them three in one room all at the same time and he is not going to let this moment pass without capturing it in pictures.

Wae, hyung?” Lee Hong Ki pouts, his face full of pretend innocence. ‘I’m not even touching that tonight. I don’t need another hang-over to haunt me in the morning. I’m going to get kicked out of the dorm, I’m sure.”

Click. Keun Suk discreetly captures the pout on Hong Ki’s face with his camera.

“Ah,” Park Shin Hye plays along, an amused smile on her lips. “So is this plain water, then?” She picks up the half-full sake glass in front of Hong Ki and smells it. “Cute. You drink water from sake glasses now? Aww, you are assimilating well with the Japanese,” Shin Hye says, deadpan.

Hong Ki throws her a sneer. “Aissh, so you are ganging up on me now? I should have known better than show up here with the both of you. Yong Hwa was right, we should show up in meetings like this together so we can level the playing field. I’m no match against you two!”


“Ah, tell Yong Hwa to show his face to us first before giving unnecessary comments like that,” Keun Suk says dismissively, distracting Hong Ki’s attention from his camera. “Where is that guy anyway? I thought the four of us could finally meet here in Japan. I’ve even purposedly stayed longer just to have a chance to bond with you guys.”

“Hyung, stop making up stories. We both know why you decided to stay longer,” Hong Ki says, his eyes glinting with malice as he looks at Shin Hye.

Shin Hye throws him an innocent look but her sparkling eyes are a dead giveaway that makes Hong Ki smirks proudly.

“Shin Hye-yah, are you drunk? Why the red face?” he rubs it in, enjoying his prank.

“Stop annoying her, Hong Ki,” Keun Suk warns playfully. “Or I’ll post all your awkward pictures in the last ten minutes online.”

Ya! Don’t you dare, hyung!” Hong Ki tries to wrestle the camera out of Keun Suk’s hands unsuccessfully.

Ya! Who are you calling Ya, dongsaeng?” Keun Suk asks forcefully, power-tripping over his hoobae.

“Don’t post it on your official site, please hyung!” Hong Ki begs, his mouth drawn to a pitiful pout. “The Primadonnas will never look at me the same way again if they see how dorky I am offcam.”

“Hey, you have already shamed yourself a lot with that homeless picture, Hong Ki,” Shin Hye deftly throws a punch. “Another set of embarrassing photos will no longer matter much to your fans. Trust me,” she says sweetly.

Hong Ki looks at his two friends helplessly and absentmindedly curses Yong Hwa and his darn schedules. “Hyung, don’t post it on Twitter, please,” he whines. “And don’t you dare post it on your Me2day,” he warns Shin Hye with his eyes.

“I have no Twitter account, you punk,” Keun Suk glares at him, pouring himself a glass of sake.

Hong Ki heaves a sigh of relief which immediately evaporates into thin air when he hears Keun Suk quips evilly, “So maybe I’ll ask Heechul hyung to post these on his account.”

Shin Hye giggles triumphantly. Hong Ki whines louder only to be interrupted by the ringing of his phone.

Picking up, he mouths “CN Blue’s manager-hyung” to his two friends. Keun Suk arches his brow while Shin Hye’s eyes twinkle giddily. “Yong Hwa!” she shouts excitedly, her girly voice filling up the private booth they shared.

Yobosaeyo?” Hong Ki greets as he presses the loudspeaker button.

Yobosaeyo, Hong Ki-yah? It’s Yong Hwa,” a soft, low voice crackles out of Hong Ki’s phone.

“Ya, you punk! Why call only now? I’ve been waiting for your call all day!” Hong Ki snaps at him, venting his annoyance to an unsuspecting Yong Hwa.

“Yong Hwa!” Shin Hye calls out again, grinnig from ear to ear.

De? Shin Hye-ssi?” Yong Hwa asks excitedly. “Annyeonghaseyo!” Then he answers Hong Ki with an apologetic tone, “I know I said I’d call sooner but we just got back from taping a show. Besides, you said you would call me first when you’re already with Keun Suk-hyung and Shin Hye-ssi. You never did, man.”

“Shin Hye-ssi?” Shin Hye interjects, a little taken aback. “So are we on formal terms now, Yong Hwa-ssi?”

Yong Hwa laughs on the other line. “Aniya, Shin Hye-yah,” he shifts to non-formal language quickly. “It’s just that it has been a while since we talked. I am not sure if you still want to talk to me after such a long time. Mianhe,” he explains contritely.

Bogoshipo!” Shin Hye exclaims, ignoring Keun Suk’s discreet little glance at her.

Yong Hwa chuckles shyly. “I missed you, too.”

“Well I don’t miss you, you little devil!” Keun Suk’s voice booms. “You’re practically everywhere but how come we can’t even be granted a meeting with you? Are we even friends now?” he asks, the warmth in his voice belying the sharp accusations he throws at Yong Hwa.

“Keun Suk-hyung!” Yong Hwa calls out, giving an embarassed laugh. “Aigoo, I know I owe you guys a lot this time. The ANJELL Fan Meet, this dinner, aissh, but what can I do hyung? I have to work. Ya, Hong Ki, didn’t you tell them why I have to get back to Korea immediately after our concert?”

Hong Ki shrugs, thinking quickly what he forgot to tell. “I told them you have shows lined up. That’s it, right? Is there any other reason?”

Yong Hwa clucks his tongue. “I knew it. You were not listening when I was telling you about it, right? Anyway, hyung, Shin Hye-yah, we had to get back because we had to do a show in Busan. And it was really important for me and Jonghyun to perform there. It was our first time to perform before our parents and friends. I just couldn’t miss the chance,” he explains.

“Hong Ki didn’t tell us that!” Shin Hye tells on Hong Ki, wagging her finger at him. “It’s good to know you performed before your parents for the first time. They must have been so proud of you.”

“Oh, is that so? Well, for a second there I thought you were just ditching ANJELL for CNBLUE,” Keun Suk jokes.

Ahrasso, it’s my fault again then,” Hong Ki throws a mock tantrum. “Naega, naega, naega! It’s always mine, anyway.”

“Don’t put words into my mouth, punk. I’m not blaming you for anything. I just wish you can learn to listen well when I’m talking to you,” Yong Hwa cuts him off. “And hyung, I will always be a part of ANJELL of course. I’m still gearing up for another chance to perform with you three again. I hope my schedule clears up pretty soon so I can come and play with you, too.”

“In your dreams,” Hong Ki snorts sarcastically. “The rate things are going, you guys will only have a break by next year,” he teases. “Your manager told ours, that’s how I know.”

“Stop bursting his bubble, Hong Ki!” Shin Hye tags his baseball cap. “Oh, maybe with the next FM, if it pushes through, we can reunite again onstage. The four of us,” she tells Yong Hwa hopefully.

“How are the nosebleeds going, Hong Ki? Nihongo wo hanashimasu ka?” Yong Hwa grabs a chance to irritate Hong Ki. Do you speak Japanese?

“Don’t start with me, dude. Your Japanese is as awkward as mine,” Hong Ki points out, irritated. 

Yong Hwa laughs out loud. “I missed you, too, punk. I’m sorry I missed hanging out with you last time when the boys watched the World Cup game with FT Island.”

“You sound tired, Yong Hwa. Are you even getting enough rest?” Shin Hye points out.

“Don’t overwork too much. Play a little,” Keun Suk reminds him.

De, hyung,” Yong Hwa replies back. Muffled sounds interrupted his speech. The faint sound of screaming fans can be heard from the background before Yong Hwa speaks again. “Ah, hyung, I’m sorry but I have to go now. We have just arrived at our next gig. Shin Hye-yah, I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touched for awhile,” he apologizes profusely.

Ani, ani. I understand. I know you are very busy. I hope to see you soon. Soonest, if that’s even possible. I’d like to ask for an autograph,” she teases with a sweet laugh.

“Ah, you are being very kind. I hope to see you soon, too. All of you. Take care and come home safely,” he bids them goodbye. “And Hong Ki, I’ll see you around, ahrasso? Go easy on the sake. Annyeong!” Then he hangs up.

Hai,” Hong Ki answers back cheekily which makes Shin Hye rolls up her eyes at him.

“Seriously? How Japanese can you get?” she jabs at him playfully.

Keun Suk rolls into a laugh. Hong Ki shoves down a piece of meat into his mouth. With his mouth full, he starts to whine again at Shin Hye. “Will you two stop ganging up on me? I’m already tortured enough being a third wheel here. Can you at least give me some time to enjoy my dinner in peace?”

“Ah, Hong Ki. Stop being a drama king,” Shin Hye reaches out to pinch his cheek. “No one’s ganging up on you and who says you’re a third wheel? You’re not!” she winks at Keun Suk.

“I saw that wink!” Hong Ki accuses like a child robbed of his favourite toy. “Oh please. Stop being so cheesy. Hyung, I know you two are dating but must you rub it on me? Do you have to?” He gulps down another glass of sake.

Pabo-ya! We’re not rubbing it on you. You’re just hallucinating,” he grabs the empty sake glass away from Hong Ki, “Or you’re getting drunk. This is not water, Hong Ki. Stop drinking it like one.”

“I’m not drunk. And this sake tastes sweet. It’s harmless,” he goofily grins at them. “But I have to admit, you two really look good together. I suddenly miss my favourite noonas.”

Noonas? Are we talking about a lot of girls here?” Shin Hye asks curiously, her brows shooting up the ceiling.

Hong Ki gives her a toothy smile. “Secret.”

“You disgust me, Hong Ki,” she says in jest.

“Hey, they are just my fans. I can’t possibly have just one noona fan,” he tries to cover up his blunder.

“So you are dating your fans now? Sink lower, Hong Ki. There’s still plenty of room.”

Hong Ki gives a nervous laugh. He looks at his hyung, silently asking for redemption.

Keun Suk pretends not to notice, aiming the camera lens at him instead. “Ya, hyung!” Hong Ki covers up his face frantically. “Stop making an album out of my embarrassing photos!”

Then he turns to Shin Hye who has been eyeing him quizzically. “I was talking about my ex-girlfriend, Shin Hye. Who happens to be a noona. There, satisfied? Can I eat in peace now?”

“Don’t play with people’s hearts, Hong Ki. Don’t use that pretty face to hurt people’s feelings,” Shin Hye tells him solemnly.

“I don’t. I swear,” he stares at her squarely. “Seriously now, you actually think I have the time to date with this schedule I have? I don’t! I’m not a superhuman like that punk Yong. Besides, I haven’t met a girl I really like yet. So I’m okay.”

“Yong Hwa is dating someone?” Keun Suk asks, incredulous. “With that killer schedule? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Hong Ki shakes his head. “You didn’t hear it from me. My lips are sealed. You should ask him yourself. He will kill me literally if he knew I spilled out his secret.”

Jeongmal? Who’s he dating?” A curious Shin Hye asks proddingly.

“Well, I’m glad it’s not you,” Keun Suk can’t resist to quip which earns him a gentle shove from Shin Hye.

Oppa! It’s not funny anymore. Stop it,” she admonishes.

Hong Ki rolls his eyes for the nth time that night. “Come on, hyung. Your jealous streak over Yong and this girl is really getting old,” he motions to Shin Hye.  “Can’t you see they are just friends?”

Keun Suk laughs, embarrassed. “I know, I know. I just can’t resist it sometimes that you seem to share a connection even from the start.”

Shin Hye sighs exasperatedly. “Oppa, apparently, it turns out, our connection is more potent. Or has it not occurred to you yet?” she pouts, her forehead creases almost involuntarily. “My connection with Yong Hwa is just as potent as my connection with this dork,” she points at Hong Ki. “But not as special as my connection with you,” she whispers almost inaudibly, aware of Hong Ki’s presence.

“Kyaaah! Omo! Are you having a lovers’ quarrel before my presence? Oh please, spare me the kiss-and-make-up, okay? I can’t stand it,” Hong Ki laments, scared.

Keun Suk taps Hong Ki’s head, pulling his cap down to hide his eyes. “De, I know that. I’m sorry, I was just playing cute,” he tells Shin Hye with a smile.

“I still can hear you!” Hong Ki protests.

“Deal with it, kid,” he pulls the cap over Hong Ki’s eyes even lower as his free hand reaches out to cradle Shin Hye’s head, pulling it closer towards him.

Then, tenderly, almost reverently, he plants a kiss on her forehead as Shin Hye closes her eyes. “Mianhe, Shin Hye. Komapta. Saranghae.”

Hong Ki flails his arms helplessly, head still buried in Keun Suk’s hand, as he catches Keun Suk’s words. “You have no shame, both of you! Really!” he gags, oblivious to the magical moment unfolding before his very eyes.