hersideofstory

unspoken words of that stubborn soul…

Chapter 39: Crazy Start

The sun rises, the sun sets
The moon rises, the sun sets again
The flowers blossom, the birds fly
They move, they get busy

People walking, people running
All doing their own things in the same time
Going around and around and around
Going around and around and around…

Geun Suk woke up earlier than usual. His heart on his sleeve, his eyes has his smile. He’s moving from here to there, there to here, without a specific thing in mind. Oh… scratch that out. With only one thing on mind. Make that call.

He slowed down.. stopped suddenly, looking at the bright sky.
“Good morning, Sunshine! Why is everything too bright today?”, he asked, amused how a certain conversation could turn his life in 180.

He still remembered clearly how that night end… The end of that day gives the beginning of his life. “Woah! Isn’t it eight o’clock yet? Why can’t i simply call her now? Aisssh!”, he whispered, rumpling his hair, as he decided to go downstairs and do a short run.

Thirty minutes before 8, Shin Hye has awaken from her dream. A smile on her lips, her heart on her sleeves. “Good morning, Sunshine!”, she whispered, as she saw the light streaming down her curtain. She looked at her clock, willing for it to touch 8.

“Why is time ticking too slow when you want it to come in a heartbeat?”, she said pouting, worries lining her forehead.

Will he call?
He asked what time i will wake up.
Does that mean he will call?
Aisssh! Jinja!

She bit her lower lip, worried that last night was just a dream.

Tell me i was not dreaming.
It did happen, didn’t it?
Oppa, can you make that call now?
I really need to get in touch with reality

Shin Hye closed her eyes, laid there still, hoping to wake up in the continuation of her dream. She felt for her phone, looked at that screen, and willed her tears to stop from falling.

He said he would call….

She mumbled absentmindedly, wiping her tears from her eyes.

At that instant her eyes flew to her clock, and the second hand hit that 12, her phone rang, making her almost jump from her bed.

“Yeoboseyo?”, she said slowly, not minding to see who’s calling, her eyes not leaving the clock.

“Did i wake you up?”, his voice said carefully, melting the worry in her heart.

Shin Hye smiled, bit her lips, wipe that stray tear. Her heart jumping in joy when she heard that voice.

“Yeoboseyo?”, he said, gauging whether someone is on the other line; worried that the person on the other end somehow anticipated this call. Geun Suk bit his fingernail, scared that last night did not give him that clean slate he’s asking for. “Princess…”, he said, cautious on what to say next.

“You said you would call..”, he heard her say like a kid.

Geun Suk looked at his phone, checking whether he dialled the number correctly. He checked the time, confirming that he didn’t miss that eight o’clock.

How could it be? Not possible… simply not possible

The clog of his brain kept on turning as he willed his self to face the consequences of the impossibility of that time reaching it due without him knowing it.

He half opened his eye, having a peek at that clock, a silent prayer sent out, hoping to have not make the first, and hopefully would not be the biggest mistake of his life.

As he turned around and come face to face with his clock, he squinted his eyes, doing a double take, ensuring that it is indeed eight in the morning. He saw the second hand almost doing a round to 12, indicating that it’s merely a minute after eight.

It is still bright outside…. it is still morning, isn’t it?

He silently asked himself, as he pulled the curtain from his window.
—–

Upon meeting that silence, Shin Hye’s heart did a drumroll, scolding herself for appearing too desperate.

This is not good. Shin Hye, this is not good. Hang up now… hang up now, while you still have time.

“Aisssh! Jinja!”, she said softly, pulling her hair, oblivious that someone is at the other end of that call.

“Yah! I did call, right?”, that guy swallowed, panicking at the sudden outburst of that girl.

“You said you would call!”, she said without break, then biting her lips tightly, knowing that this is not how she is expected to act.

“Shin Hye..”, confused, lost… Geun Suk didn’t know how he is expected to answer that one.

Shin Hye closed her eyes, silently pleading that this call would end without her making a disaster out of herself. She breathed in and out for a while, willing him to break the silence.

When he still did not say a word, she held her phone tightly, and in gritted teeth said, “Oppa, I need to go…”

“Did i do something wrong? Didn’t I do it right?” she heard the panic.. disappointment in his voice.

Shin Hye closed her eyes, knowing that he’s silently looking at nothing in particular now, hoping to hear another word from her.

“Oppa….”, Shin Hye said, not sure on how to proceed on this, hoping to calm her heart.

“Shin Hye…”, he said weakly, probably gauging whether there is a battle ahead that he has to prepare for.

Hearing that confused tone..
to fight or to yield
to push or to pause
to force or to slow down…

Knowing that they did want to start anew, Shin Hye breathe deeply and decided to tackle it the way that she knows.

She being herself..
and that guy being… that him.

Shin Hye smiled, then said, “You asked what time i would wake up”

“And you said, around eight o’clock”

“I though you would call…”, she stated shyly.

Geun Suk let out that breath that he didn’t know he’s holding. He smiled and answered, “And i thought i did”

“Around 8 o’clock”

“I don’t want to wake you up.”

“I was awake around 7.30”, she stated calmly.

“And i was before the break of dawn, hoping to pull the sun from his bed, and forced that clock to strike at eight”

Silence….

“Were you waiting for my call?”, he asked, then immediately scolded himself for pushing his luck that far. When his question was met by silence… he tried to gear to another direction, preparing for that… “Mian…”

“You said you would call”, she softly answered, as if that would explain the sudden tantrums at the beginning of this call.

Bringing down his guard, Geun Suk smiled, then teasingly said, “I asked what time you would wake up. I didn’t remember telling you that i would call”.

“O.. guirae..”, she suddenly said, her voice a bit hard. “Mian… i thought i was talking to you last night. It might have been someone else. Can you hang up now? Someone might be waiting for that eight o’clock now”.

Geun Suk chuckles, and was surprised when he heard that busy tone on the other line.

“Jinja… Aisssh! Park Shin Hye!”, he said, frustrated, amused, scared.

And before his mind could think of something to say, his hand has made that decision to dial that number, while his sane self is having an argument with his crazy side.

“Aissh! Jinja! You’ll definitely drive me insane”, he said, whispering… not knowing that the line has been connected already.

“Are you talking to me?”, the voice on the other end said, cold.. without emotion.

“Yah!” he said, a bit irritated.

“Wae? I told you i was waiting for a call”, she said stubbornly.

“Stubborn.. stubborn.. indeed”, he said in clenched teeth.

“Would you mind hanging up now? I’m not in the mood to be scolded this early in the morning”, she said defiantly.

“Park Shin Hye, you’re making me crazy”, he said, biting his lips.

“Crazy mad? Good! Because you make me crazy frustrated, Oppa! Ooopps!”, she suddenly said, her eyes wide, her face red.

“Frustrated because you thought i won’t call?”, he said, his voice teasing her.

“I have something else to do. Annyeong!”, she quickly said, then hang up.

What was that! Jinja, Park Shin Hye, are you crazy!
This is not healthy.. this will not do any good.
Jinja, stop it now

She was in that battle with herself when her message ping sounded.

“You make me crazy….”

tch!

“Crazy impatient when that clock won’t strike eight in a heartbeat”

“Crazy frustrated when i couldn’t get a grasp of what is running in your head”

“Crazy disappointed with my crazy self when i’m blabbering crazy words and the words i planned to say are kept deep down this heavy heart..”

“And most of all.. you make me crazy in love, Princess. And I’d rather be crazy than sane if i would be allowed to have this crazy feeling with you”

Shin Hye’s eyes widened as she saw those messages. Her heart beating a thousand. Her fingers trembling.. her head doing a quick scan of words that can be said.

And after a minute or five, she was staring at her phone screen, the words jumping at her.

Nada… nothing… zero… no word. no space.
Only the cursor blinking at her, asking her to press the buttons.

Shin Hye carefully laid her phone on her bed.
Her eyes bugged out.
Her hand on her heart.

See.. see.. this is why it’s not healthy, Shin Hye.
First day… just that first day that you are talking to him, and here he is, rendering you speechless

Her other self said, but she can see her giggling on the words sent by that guy.

Is it possible? Is it simply possible?
Ani.. aniya.. cannot..
Breath in, Shin Hye..
Breathe out…

She was looking at her phone, when a message ping suddenly sounded.
Cautiously, she held it tightly, debating whether she could bring herself to another smile-shattering message.

Shin Hye covered her face with her hands,scolding herself for acting like a kid.

“You are a kid. Stop scolding yourself for acting like one.
I love you. I hope that’s no longer a news for you.

I love you.
I hope one day, you’ll find that you love me too…
Just like before… when you said that you did.
When you give me your heart, and i broke it into pieces.

Let me mend it. Let me put it together.
I need your heart to be whole… just like how i need you to put me back together.

I love you… have i said that already?

Rise and shine sleepyhead.
See you when i see you 🙂 ”

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Chapter 38: Closure

For a while, he thought this was it. The start of their ever after.
Then, he saw the next sign.
She pulled away from him, a glint of wisdom ticked in her eyes.

Back to the ball game.
Sanity is back, and she didn’t like what she saw.

Geun Suk saw the moment those eyes stared at him blankly. He felt her pulling herself away, her guard set between them. He knew .. he knew exactly when senses came back to that girl.

As she was staring at him, tilting her head, Geun Suk smiled and just looked back at her.

“What are you smiling at?”, she asked, her eyes careful.

“Welcome back”, he answered nonchalantly.

“Mwo?”

“I was waiting for you. In fact I actually timed the exact instant you will appear. You’re a bit late but I’m thankful”.

That girl squinted her eyes, smirked then said, “I’m out of here”.

And, as she was reaching for the car door, the lock automatically slid home, trapping her inside.

“Unlock the door, Geun Suk”

“I’m back to Geun Suk?”

He saw her closed her eyes and scratched her forehead. “Chebal. I’m tired. I want to go home”

“I’ll send you home after we’re done talking”

“Are we not done yet?”

“We haven’t even started”

“And what do you call the hour before this that you have been talking to me?”

“I was not talking to you”

“Mwo?”

“I was talking to that kid.. not to you”, he said, loving the irritation, confusion on her face.

“Ha! I think there’s something wrong in your head”

“And there’s something wrong with you”

“Geun Suk…”

“I’m done letting you do all the talking, Shin Hye. For once, we’ll talk in a way that this thing should be handled. Not you walking away when you feel being trapped… not you bringing out all the skeletons when you can’t find anything to say”

“Ha. Will you please stop the charade? I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s getting late and I’m tired. I want to go home”

“You will go home when I say you can go home”

“And what are you? My cell guard”

“Think whatever you want to think. We’re not leaving this car unless we discuss everything. And when I say everything, I mean every thing that is running inside that head”

“I told you I’m done talking to you”

“And I told you as well we haven’t even started talking”

“And who do you think you’re talking to earlier?”

“Your other self?”

“Ha. And what am i? Schizophrenic? Do I have a lot of alter egos? MPD?”

“MPD?”, he asked, with wrinkled forehead.

“Multiple Personality Disorder.”, and when she realized that they were having a conversation from that simple interaction, she rumpled her hair and hissed, “Aisssh!”

“Yeah. I guess you do have multiple personality disorder. I don’t even know when I’m talking to which one. Are you back to that trusting girl, or are you still the senselessly sensible mind?”

“She’s not trusting. She’s gullible”

“Woah! So I’m really talking to two alter egos here. You give me a heads up when the characters are taking another turn, hm?”

“Yah! Oppa, this is not funny. I want to go home”

“You’re running away”

“I just want to take a rest”

“Stop hiding”

“I’m not”

“And I won’t let you”

Shin Hye just looked at him. Geun Suk didn’t let go of her eyes.
He knew he’s being senseless, crude bastard. But he knew too well that the girl will not allow him to take charge if he will not use this route.

Shin Hye, feeling defeated, heaved a sigh, shrink back to her seat, and averted her eyes.

“Can we talk now?”

He saw her silent agreement as she nodded her head.

“Mianhae….”

“Oppa, if you will only…”, she stated as if having an idea on where this thing is going.

“Please, Shin Hye…chebal”, he asked, pleading her to listen.

Shin Hye shook her head, smiled weakly, knowing exactly what it is that they are threading now.

“Do you like me?”

“Mwo?”, she said, her eyes wide.

“Do you hate me, then?”

“Ha. Where are we going Geun Suk?”

“I want to talk to you”

“You’re talking to me now”

“Ani.. Aniya… You’re determined to keep your mouth shut. And I won’t let that. You have to talk to me, Shin Hye. Let’s stop running away”

“I’m not running away”

“Then, talk to me”

“I told you..”

“You don’t have anything to say to me. I heard that. Change the script. I need you to talk to me”

“Oppa! Chebal!”

“Chebal, talk to me”

“I want to go home”

“I told you, you can’t”

“Fine. What do you want to hear?”

“Anything”

“Anything… anything… the night seems a bit dark today, don’t you think? I’m tired and I can’t even lie down on my bed. I guess I will look like a panda tomorrow”

“Carry on.. talk… talk those nonsense”

“Aisssh! Oppa!”

“I’m listening…”

“I hate you…”, she said in a whisper.

Geun Suk just nodded his head.

“I hate you…”, she repeated, then unknowingly, tears started to flood her eyes.

“I hate you, did you hear me? I hate you”, she said, again and again.

Geun Suk just sat there, his head bowed down, waiting for her to open up more.

“I hate you… I hate you the moment I saw you in Bangsan. I hate you more when you keep on coming near me. I hate you when you tried to invade my space. I hate you for making me feel the way I feel then…” Shin Hye bowed her head and bit her lips. Geun Suk handed her a box of tissue, still trying very hard not to look at her. “Do you really want me to continue? You asked for this, Oppa. Ha! I’ll tell you everything now, and after this, we try to pretend that we don’t know each other”

Geun Suk did not show any reaction. He was just sitting there, listening to every word she’s saying.

“Oppa…”

“I’m listening”

“After this, we have to pretend that we don’t know each other, hm?”

“Hm…”

“Promise me..”

Geun Suk just nodded his head, still avoiding her eyes.

“I don’t think I need to spell everything out. I think you know most of them. I hated you. I liked you. Tch. I hated you. Then, I loved you. Then back to hating you again. I slipped. I fell. I stood up. I let go. Then, I fell again. And I keep on falling and falling. Until, one day, I told myself, I don’t want to feel that vulnerable anymore. I hate it, Oppa. It’s like a moth who’s always being pulled by fire. I know the consequence. I’ve been there a lot of times. But I still keep on coming near it. Until I burned my wing and fall down. I hate it Oppa. I hate you. And I hate myself for being too stubborn to learn my lesson”

“Mian..”

“Aniya.. I don’t want to go there anymore, Oppa. I don’t want to be anywhere near you. You always make it a habit to make fun of me..”

“I am not..”, then he was cut in mid-sentence when Shin Hye glared at him, asking him to stop and just listen.

“However you re-word it, in whatever way you put it, you played with me, Oppa. You played me as a fool. You always pull me anywhere, then dumping me whenever and wherever you want”

“Shin Hye…”

“That’s how I saw you the first time. You know you’re good looking. You know almost everyone likes you. And you always use it to your advantage. You treated me like your fan girls. Teasing me whenever you can.. leading me to wherever, only to drop me off when it’s convenient. But I learned my lesson. Or so, I guess I did. And then it happened again.. not only once… twice.. I don’t know. I lose count already. I told you I’m not holding you responsible. But when I come to think about it, you are. I should make you accountable. I should make you feel guilty for all those sleepless nights. Yeah.. right.. I was crying every night. You can laugh at me now. I was crying since the day I saw you. I was crying until I can’t even remember what it is that I am crying for. Until the pain would subside. Until I learn.. pretend to let go. Then you will come again and invite me to play. Then I will tell myself.. ‘Don’t. He’s getting bored again. Don’t. I don’t want to cry anymore.’ But how? I think I won’t ever learn when it comes to you. You put me under this spell. You have me in the palm of your hands. How unlucky I am to meet you on that day! But that curse would stop…. Will stop now. I won’t allow you to control me like that again. Never…”

Silence.

After a minute or two, Geun Suk let out a laugh. Shin Hye instinctively threw him a dagger look. Her tears ran freely down her cheeks, feeling defeated, feeling embarrassed, feeling laughed at.

Knowing that look, Geun Suk looked at her, smiled, then wiped her tears with his thumb.

“I thought you’re a witch”

“Mwo?”, she said, her eyes confused.

“The moment I saw you that day, I was expecting to hear you scream when you saw my face. Conceited, yes, I am. But I don’t really care how others would perceive me. I don’t give a second glance to any other when I passed by. Until you. I might be three years older… and yes, I have played a lot and I enjoyed playing. But never when I was committed. I flirted, yes. I played, yes. But I know the rules. And those with me, definitely know how to play the game and the rules. You’re a new thing to me. I haven’t seen someone like you before. I’m used to girls who couldn’t look me through the eyes. I’m used to girls saying yes even before I ask for something. But you… you’re different. The moment I saw you, there’s that shadow of defiance.. of indifference.. and I was challenged. Yeah.. I thought I was… it’s better to put it that way… I just wanted to see whether I can charm you out of your comfort zone. Ha. But the spell bounced back. I don’t know when it started. But I guess the word “challenge” was just a cover up… a word used by myself to avoid any embarrassment from the true essence of the word. I was enchanted. I was played with. The game has started, and I was still trying to fight it. No, I will not surrender. No, this is just the same as any other. No.. can’t do.. can’t be. You said I was playing with you. What will you think when I tell you that I guess I was being played with… hm.. not by you, but by some forces that I can’t see.. some thing that I can’t put my finger on. You know my story. I told you everything, How at the age of 20, some unknown voices have asked me to slow down and drop everything… drop everything for that girl waiting at that spot. Ha. I look crazy. It sounded crazy. I tried to ignore it until, somewhere, I felt the spell working on me. You are charming your way inside me, and I can’t do anything to stop it. For the first time, I got scared. For the first time, I hated myself. For the first time, I wanted something which I think I don’t deserve of having. I hoped I was just someone else. I hoped I could be someone better. I hoped I could be deserving of you. Ha. But, I’m quite selfish, have I told you that? I may not be right, but I want you with me. I may not be that someone yet, but I can be that person all young girls dreamed of in their fairy tale stories. Ha. I can be your Prince Charming. I can be anyone you want me to be. For the first time, I’m willing to let go of myself. For the first, what someone thinks matters. For the first time, I want to be worthy for someone. For the first time I longed to be someone who is worthy enough. But things went a bit shaky. I was surrendering myself, when things went out of control. And I lose you.. lose myself. I will let go, think it will be for the better. But unlike you, who thinks you were not given a choice and just found yourself dumped..standing near me, I always find myself looking for you. I am always looking for you… finding my way to you… and guess what? You are always easy to find. One look, and I know where you are. Funny, right? How you think I played you, and how I think I’m played at. How you think I have you in the palm of my hands, and how I thought you put me under a spell”

Geun Suk looked at that girl sitting beside him. She had not spoken a word since it was his turn to talk. She didn’t show any sign of disappointment…frustration…anger… she didn’t show any emotion at all.

This is not looking good. She’s beginning to hide again.

Then, he heard her say, “Kwaenchana?”

She’s trying to divert the conversation. She doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

“Ani.. I’m not”

Upon hearing his words, she instinctively looked at him. “But you said..”

“I know what I said, and I just realized, why try to hide it. I’m not ok. And I don’t think I will be. I hid for some time. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of letting them do what they’re doing now. I am not a pawn in this game. They wanted to play. I will play their game”.

“Oppa.. don’t. Let them say whatever it is that they want to say. Le them think of you that little. It’s easier to prove them wrong if they see you like that. Make it to your advantage, Oppa. Work your way to it. You show them what that dream looks like.”

Geun Suk smiled, shook his head and held that girl’s hand. Surprised, Shin Hye tried to pull away, but he held her close.

“What will I do if I did not see you that day?”

“Hm?”

“I guess, I have no other way but to find you myself. Ani.. I don’t think they will simply let it go. They want to play with me, so they will definitely put you in front of me, and they will take all their time laughing at how stupid I look when I was looking at you. I’ll give them that. They can laugh anyway they want, but I’m still thankful. And yes, you’re worth every effort.. every second of playing.. fighting in that game”

“Mwo?”

Geun Suk raised their clasped hands and said, “this is how that dream looks like. You and me, this way”

“Oppa…”

Geun Suk smiled. “You better be there when I achieved that dream. Aniya.. that dream will not be achieved if you’re not there”

“Mwo?”

“Regarding the other dream, will you be there… every step of the way.. until I show them how it looks like?”

“Eh?”

“Champs-Elysees, will you be there?”

“Oppa…” confused, Shin Hye shook her head.

“I’m holding you responsible. Let go of me, and you will see me back in the street.. in the pub… talking back at them..”

“Ha.. This is insane. You are crazy, Oppa”

“Call me whatever you want”

“You’re not a kid. Stop acting like one”

“I’ve mentioned it, right? I’m selfish. I want you. I want you with me. I can be anyone, just to make sure you’re here with me”

“You’re blackmailing me”

“Maybe”

“Ha! And what made you think that I will do as I was told. I don’t care whether you go back to the street.. I don’t care..”

“Don’t you?”

“Oppa! This is not fair”

“I didn’t say it is”

“I’m out of here”

Geun Suk did not say a word. Shin Hye surprised of the sudden silence, looked back at that guy.
She saw him put the key on the ignition and stared the engine.

“What are you doing?”

“Driving you home”

“Oppa…”

“I thought… you’re right, why would you care?”

“Oppa….”

“You’re not responsible… I’m not holding you responsible”

“Ahhh! Stop the car. I can’t think.”

Geun Suk grinned, stopped the car and sat there silently.

“What are you doing?”

“Giving you time to think”

“Oppa!”

“Hm?”

“Ok… I’m not mad at you anymore..”

“Hm..”, Geun Suk said, nodding his head.

“Hm?”, Shin Hye repeated, gauging his reaction.

“But..”

“But?”

“You were saying something…”

“But, I don’t think I can see you anymore. I’m not mad at you…” she was about to say something when the engine started again.”what are you doing?”

“I’m bringing you home”

“Yah!”

“Ha! I told you I’m selfish. I’d rather have you mad at me, than have you far away from me”

“Oppa, this is ridiculous”

“ Yeah.. I guess. But we can’t do anything about it”

“Aissh! Stop the car!”

“Ok…”

“But I told you everything…”

“So…”

“Don’t you think it will be too awkward to even be put together in one place, knowing that you’ve heard all those things that I said?”

“I also told you how I felt”

‘Exactly the point. Oppa, saying things like that is like drawing a line. It’s like setting a closure”

“Is that what you did? Put a closure on this?”

‘It’s supposed to be like that, right?

“Aniya..”

“Yah!”

“Wae?”

“But I told you before I put everything out.. I told you after this, we will pretend that we didn’t know each other”

“I did not agree to it.”

“But you did not stop me from saying those things. You should have stopped me, if you’re not willing to let it end”

“I didn’t have any intention to end it this way, or in any other way”

“Aissh! I’m not playing this game with you”, she said, with finality in her voice.

Here, she comes again. Why does he feel too scared whenever he comes face to face with this one? Ha!

Think, Geun Suk.. Think.. There must be a way out.

And as they were looking beyond the windshield, their eyes glued to the night sky… as one star seemed to sacrifice itself and fall down the sky, they both closed their eyes and made a wish.

Ten seconds or twenty after, Geun Suk opened his eyes, a smile on his lips.

“What are you smiling at?”,

“ Dream…. Responsibility… Closure”

“Mwo?”

“You’re my dream. The two of us together is my dream”

“Oppa..”

“And I am making you responsible, not only of my heart, but of my life as well. I don’t care whether you care or not…”

“Mwo?”

“And I’m giving you you’re closure”

Shin Hye blinked her eyes twice.. thrice, not believing those words.

And then, in a speed as fast as lightning, she saw Geun Suk’s hand offered in front of her, his eyes with a smile “Jang Geun Suk”

And as fast as the beating of her heart, she saw herself accepting that hand, hers enclosed in his, as she said, “Park Shin Hye”

And with that night, the pain and heartaches of the previous years were put in a close.
A new beginning is starting to make its path.
She’s taking responsibility of his heart..
And he on hers, without her knowing it.
And as their wish were played in the silence of the night…
The stars were singing together with their hearts…

“Grant them that dream…
Their eyes for each other
hands clasped together…
Their hands holding one another…
Maybe not today…
Not tomorrow…
But, in time…. It will be..”

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Chapter 37: (S)laying of Heart

“And you might have not loved me the way you have told me before”

And just like that, the invisible glass was shattered
And they are treading that dangerous zone… again.

Shin Hye closed her eyes the moment she realized the words that just escaped her lips. She bit her lips, reached for the car handle and said in a soft voice, “I’ll take a cab from here”.

“I do.” She heard him whispered, his hands clutched on the steering wheel.

She had a feeling that she needed to escape, to fly away from here… for the things and the words that will be said next might change the course of how they both were trying to play these things.

She heaved a sigh, would gather the courage to bid her goodbye, but what she saw and heard next broke her heart.

“I love you. I do. That’s the only thing I’m certain of”, and then, she thought she was just imagining it, but she saw tears sliding down his cheeks.

She wanted to reach for him… to stop him from hurting. He was in pain, and he’s hiding way too long that he’s slowly breaking down in front of her.

She hated the pain that he’s in and her cowardice in doing what she long wanted to do.
She cared for him. She still does. And it hurts her seeing him like this.

Shin Hye just looked at him, and when she felt tears running down her cheeks, she bit her lips trying to fight the sobs. She felt too restrained.. too trapped… too hurt. She looked away, wanting to invite logic to play its part, but sanity and logic might have gone away together, for there she saw herself, helpless, scared, looking at nothing in particular.

Geun Suk couldn’t find the right word to say, or if ever there is even the right word to say. He knows there is a battle inside the confined of his car; battles that were launched amidst the silence deafening their ears. Wounds were forced open, words were trying to find their release. They were both hoping to make something intelligent from this. But damn logic.. damn fear… how could someone be able to think when their hearts are beginning to shatter into pieces… the mere casualties of this war. His heart and hers were always on the line.

There hasn’t been anything safe, anywhere safe when both of them were placed one next to the other. Or has there been anywhere safe the moment they met that afternoon at her space? They were like tip toeing along the lines of bomb, careful.. too careful to acknowledge anything concerning them both.

Why is it too difficult to just say what they both wanted to say? To hear what they both were longing to hear. It’s not as if they will be married the following day. It’s not as if they will be causing the end of the world the moment they admitted something both of them clearly know what.

I need you. If he would tell her, he will not hurt her again, would she let go of those inhibitions? If he promised to accept and answer to anything thrown at him, will they give him the liberty to love this girl the way he wanted to? He loves her so.. too much that it keeps him wondering at times if jokes like this are thrown to any man in the world, or was he singled out to survive the pain of loving this strong?

“….would be ok”, he caught her last words and saw the faint smile on her lips.

He looked at her blankly, not sue what were said before those words. She might have sense it for she smiled at him and said, “Everything will be ok, Oppa. Trust me”

What has happened from then and now? What has filled the gap between the tears running down her eyes and his silent claim on that girl sitting beside him?

“Will you be there?”, he asked, his eyes not leaving hers.

“Hm?”, she asked back, pretending she didn’t know what was running in his head.

“When everything turns to be ok, will you be there?”, he asked gently.

“I’m always there. Always here. I never left, Oppa”

“Will you?”, he asked again, stubborn as a kid.

Shin Hye smiled, and nodded her head. Then tears begin to pool in her eyes again.

I love you. She heard the silent scream of her heart. I always do.

“It sucks, right?”, she blinked a tear or two when she heard his voice. Did he hear her? Panic started to color her eyes.

He grinned at her; that smile that simply tells her not to be worried. “You wanted to say something, yet you cannot find your voice to say it. Your brain just won’t approve. The pain is just too real that it haunted you until these days.”

“Oppa”, she said, alarm bells started to ring in her ears. She didn’t have the faintest idea that things will take this course today.

“Did I hurt you that bad? Was I such a bastard?”, he said, wiping his face with his hands.

“Oppa, let’s not talk about….”

“I was too careful.. too careful I didn’t even imagine I could play that part. I was too scared of you.. of myself.. for you whenever I’m with you. I tried not to, Shin Hye. God knows I tried not to… “

“Oppa…”

“It isn’t just fair. I didn’t mean to play… I wanted to play you out…to get you out of that field. You’re too young, and I don’t think you know the rules… and I don’t want you to know the rules… ‘you’re in the wrong field, little girl‘you cannot afford it here’. I keep on telling you silently, but you just won’t listen. You keep on coming back. And I keep on losing my games because I can’t afford to let you in. When I shooed you away, and you didn’t come back the following day, I pretended everything is going smoothly. Until the game bored me. And I saw you on the other field, playing the innocent at the sideline. You were watching them, your harmless playmates… and when you decided to get the jersey on and play it yourself, I will be damned if I will just stand there and watch you getting along with them. Aniya, if you cannot play my field, I’ll play yours. “

“Jang Geun Suk-ssi…”, she said, confused on where this conversation is going.

“And when I started to play it fair, they played their games. And I lost… I lost a lot.. got lost a couple of times.. a thousand of miles… I played by the rule, but they keep on changing it. I played.. yeah… I was glaring in the playing field, but I still abide by the rules. I don’t want them to throw me out. I may have given a yellow card. The game will be over, but I will never leave that field, not until I have you clamped beside me. I might be beaten, but I will not be thrown out”

“Oppa , please…”, she said, her eyes pleading him on what… she didn’t know.

Geun Suk cupped her face, wiped her tears with his thumb and whispered, “I’m sorry I love you. But I am not sorry that I love you. “ then he smiled at the playfulness of his words. “I will stay. I will not go anywhere. Just don’t let them throw me out. I will play the game, fight until the end, just … don’t surrender on me, hm?”

“Hm?”, she asked, a bit confused.

He kissed the tip of her nose, shook his head then said, “they might throw anything at me and I will not give them a second glance. But the moment you have these tears… these creases on your brows… I don’t have any other choice but wave the white flag. You’re my Achilles heel, Princess. One jab.. one tear from your eye, and I’m done”

“Oppa, you’re drunk”, she said, half smiling, half teasing him, her eyes in her heart.

“Are you not scared of me?”

“Ani… why would i?”

“My Little Red Riding Hood, I’m the wolf that you have to be scared of”

“I don’t see you as a wolf. You’re a Prince cursed by a wicked witch”, she said, her heart aching at the way he’s seeing himself.

Geun Suk reached for her, and touched her cheeks. “So will you be the Princess who will kiss me to turn me to that Prince you said I was?”

Startled, Shin Hye’s eyes widened. His eyes locked with hers, waiting for her to push him away.

Their eyes met….

“I will count to three, and I will claim my kiss, Princess. One…”

Fear started to creep down her spine. “But I haven’t asked you to get my golden ball from the pond”, she started to inch towards the passenger door. She saw him unbuckled his seatbelt, his hand not leaving her cheeks.

“You don’t have a golden ball because you’re not the deceitful Princess. You’re my Little Red Riding Hood. My ever innocent, trusting and unsuspecting Little Red Riding Hood. Two”, he was just supposed to tease her…

“But you’re not a wolf”, she said, hand cupping his face.

That’s it. All control went away. “Three.. “he said, held her hand on his cheek and placed it on his heart .

“Oppa, I don’t think”, she whispered, shrinking in her seat, feeling dwarfed by him.

“Good. Don’t think”, and as if that settled all, he slowly neared his face on hers, lightly brush his lips on hers. He kissed her softly, his hand on her face. She closed her eyes, his heart hammering inside his chest.

Tinker Bell seemed to leave Peter Pan in Neverland and showered them with pixie dust. Shin Hye felt the world go in slow motion, her heart stopped beating .

Geun Suk put his arm on the door behind Shin Hye, levering his weight. He kissed her lightly, he didn’t know he’s capable of such kisses.

As their lips touched, fireworks have started exploding, butterflies have flown around them… then, slowly, as if on cue, a tear fell from their eyes… they didn’t think.

For a moment, they both let go.
For a split of second, they tried to let loose from those chains, from that logic which kept them tied down.
For a while, they acted on how such emotions should have been played in movies.

No script. No word.

But not like the movies, this doesn’t simply end with “The End” and a serene sunset on the background.

They both need put their feet back on the ground, and welcome reason and sensibility with open arms.

For a moment, he didn’t want to go back.
For a split of second, she didn’t want to open her eyes.
In a little while, he slowly pulled away, his forehead on hers.

“ I love you”, he whispered.

She closed her eyes, and let her heart dance in joy after hearing those words.
She thanked her senses for taking the back seat for a while.
She smiled, and then slowly she opened her eyes, only to be flushed in embarrassment as she saw him intently looking at her face, his thumb simply touching the corner of her mouth.

“You have “ever after” stamped on your forehead. I got scared the moment I saw the sign. I ran away… ran far away only to be brought back in front of you again and again. The second moment I saw the sign, I smiled and whispered, lucky it was me who read the sign. I am twenty two, you’re nineteen, you’re stuck with me.. with your ever after.”

For a while, he thought this was it. The start of their ever after.
Then, he saw the next sign.
She pulled away from him, a glint of wisdom ticked in her eyes.

Back to the ball game.
Sanity is back, and she didn’t like what she saw.

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Chapter 36: False Pretense

“I guess we have something to talk about”, he said in between gritted teeth, and pulled that girl outside of that place… hoping to keep his self in control before he finally explodes.

Geun Suk pulled Shin Hye outside of the venue, barely registering in mind anything that they passed by. His grip on her wrist was too tight, his mind processing a thousand things, unaware that he was almost dragging that girl with him.

“Oppa…”, Shin Hye said, trying to call his attention.

“Two minutes, Shin Hye. Give me two minutes”, was all he said without looking at her.
As they reached the parking lot, Geun Suk opened the passenger’s seat, still without looking at her, said, “Get in”

“Where to?”, she asked, getting a bit irritated on this treatment.

“Get in”, he repeated coldly, his eyes on the ground.

Shin Hye bit her lower lip, sighed then proceeded inside.

Within five seconds, the guy was able to reach the driver’s seat, and in two second after that, the car was zooming outside of that area. Geun Suk glanced at his watch, closed his eyes, chewed his lips, then remain silent throughout the drive.

Shin Hye simply looked at him, noticed the dark circles underneath his eyes, the strain on his face, his grip on the steering wheel, as if he didn’t want to let it go.

She let out a deep sigh again, looked at her watch, smiled weakly, then looked outside the window. She hugged herself, the coldness of winter seeping through her vein was not the reason though. The silence inside the car, his silence is leaving her too cold.

“Are you cold?”, he finally broke the silence, adjusting the heater, still without looking at her.

She simply nodded her head, tried to search his eyes; still he’s too angry.. too coward… too unsure of all of these things.

She shook her head afterwards, her patience reaching her limit, but she didn’t want to lose it all. At least, until she found out that everything is ok with him. She glanced at her watch again. Thirty minutes after nine. Still a bit early, but with the way things are going, she’s doubting whether they can finish a good five minutes of pleasantries.

“Do you need to be home early?”, he asked, his eyes on the road.

She shook her head, her eyes on him.

Silence.

Five minutes after…

“Fifteen minutes…”, she whispered, without looking at him.

“Hm?”, he asked, giving her a swift glance, then as if he cannot dare look at her, averted his eyes again and concentrated on his driving.

“It’s been fifteen minutes since you dragged me out of that place…. “, she continued, guarding her tongue and her patience.

Silence.

“Will you stop the car?”, she said, a bit irritated.

She saw him gripped the steering wheel tighter, his knuckles turning white.

“Oppa….”, she said, pleading him to talk.

“What are you doing at the bar?”, he asked, anger evident in his cold voice.

“Stop the car…”, she countered, coldly.

Geun Suk looked at her, bit his lips, and after seconds of uncertainties, he let out a devious laugh.

“hana…”, she said, pissed off of the way he’s treating her.

“mwo?”, he said, looking back at her.

“dul…”, she continued, looking at her hand holding her handbag.

Geun Suk let out a curse then abruptly stopped the car. Shin Hye heaved a sigh, and without looking at him, grabbed the handle of the door. But before her hand could pull the handle, another hand wrapped hers, holding it. She looked at their hands, and waited for him to say something.

Silence…

After five seconds or ten, still without hearing anything from him, she tried to reach for the handle again, making his hand hold onto hers tighter.

Silence…

When her other hand closed into a fist and her reflection in the car window showed her cold eyes, her teeth biting her lower lip, she heard him say, “Mian….”

Shin Hye closed her eyes, waiting for him to say more.

When she thought she would be disappointed, she heard him continued, his hands pulling hers from the handle. “Can we talk?”

“I’m listening…”

She saw him smiled at her peripheral.

“Mian…”

Shin Hye just looked at him, urging him to continue.

She saw him closed his eyes, as if trying really hard to control something.
Then, in a voice laced with too much control, he asked without looking at her, “What are you doing at the bar?”.

Shin Hye smiled, and liking the indecisiveness in the guy sitting next to her, she answered coldly, “Who are you talking to? Your hands?”

The guy was surprised, his face immediately facing hers. She saw him smiled sardonically, shook his head, then said, “My little girl is growing up”

“Continue with mocking me, and you’ll definitely talk to your fingers later”

“Park Shin Hye!”, he shouted, as if his self control has left him in that instant.

“Wae?”, she said, fear absence in her teasing eyes.

Geun Suk closed his eyes once more, ran his fingers through his hair, then slowly faced her, and continued, “What are you doing at the bar?”

“Am I not allowed to go there?”,she answered, her eyes meeting his.

She saw him swallowed, as if controlling his every nerve from exploding.

“Will you please answer me properly?”

“How do you want me to answer it? What do you want to hear?”

“What are you doing there?”, he repeated, his voice warm.

“I was with Kurt, you saw us, right?”, she answered her eyes never leaving his. She saw him flinched, still he did not remove his eyes from her. She wanted to stop this charade, but the way his acting is really getting into her nerves. “He asked me out”, she saw his hands closed into a fist. She’s starting to feel guilty about this, still she continued, “he told me he’ll pick me up from the agency and will go to that area. Is there something wrong with that?”, she asked, her eyes focused on his hands.

The hands raked his hair again. She saw him closed his eyes, looked at his watch, then, started the engine again.

Startled, Shin Hye exclaimed, “Where are we going?”

“I’ll bring you home. It’s getting late”

“I thought we’re going to talk”

“We have talked enough. I’ve said what I wanted and I’ve heard what I was praying so hard not to hear from you”

Shin Hye laughed. Geun Suk looked at her with questioning eyes. “I can’t see anything funny in this!”, he said, too frustrated.

“You are. You’re funny, Oppa”.

Geun Suk stopped the engine. Rubbed his hands on his face, then laughed crazily.
“I look like a fool, ain’t i?”

“Crazy…”

He shook his head, smiling. “Is he kind to you?”, he asked, trying to avoid her eyes.

“You know him more that I do. He is, right?”

He simply nodded his head. And with the effort of pushing away his pain, he asked, “How long have you been seeing each other?”

Shin Hye let out a chuckle. This Geun Suk sitting beside him is quite new to her. “Earlier. Around five hours ago. He asked me to meet him at the ice cream shop in front of my school”

“Hm..”, he said, nodding his head, his hands made another round in his hair.

Silence….

Seeing the strain on his face, and remembering the scandal that he’s in, she closed her eyes, and tried to concentrate on the matter at hand.

“Kwaenchana?”, she asked, trying to look for his eyes.

“Yes…”, he said, looking back at her. Then in a blink of an eye, she saw the pain written on those orbs. She didn’t know that he’s hurt this much. “yes..”, he repeated as if trying to convince his self. Then when he finally sees her eyes, he continued… “no… no… no… I’m not ok”

“Oppa…” she asked,worriedly.

“Mian… I thought I’ll be a good sport.. I am.. I was actually.. but I don’t think I can with you..”

“Eh?”, she asked, confused.

“Shin Hye… can you not see him? I promise I won’t say anything to remind you of what I feel. I’ll be your Oppa, no more than that. I will treat you as my dongsaeng. If there is really a need for one of us to see someone else, I”ll find someone. If you’re ok with it, I’ll find someone. Just don’t see someone else, yet. You’re not yet ready, right? You don’t want to commit yet, right? I won’t push you. I will wait. Just don’t… please.. don’t …”

“Oppa…”

“Shin Hye, I gave you the space you’re asking for. I didn’t ask for anything. I waited for you… I didn’t know Kurt…”

Shin Hye narrowed her eyes, and when it suddenly dawned to her, she smiled shyly.. teasingly, then started, “Kurt called me out today, saying he wanted to grab a cone”. She paused a little watching him shifted his position, as if not comfortable with the story she’s relaying to him. “Do I still need to continue?”, she asked a bit disoriented on the way he’s acting.

“I’m listening…”, he said curtly.

“Oppa….”

“Then..” he cut her in, asking her to proceed.

“I met her at the shop. He ordered some ice cream.”, she saw him closed his eyes, as if trying to control to sudden surge of emotion. She smiled, watching him. Not that tormenting him like this could give light to her eyes, but knowing that he still cares.. he still concerns.. he still lov… no.. andwae.. might not be that deep. He might just missed the old times… those times when all she has is him.. and his is hers. She paused again, suddenly her emotions getting a hold of her. The roller coaster ride.. are we going there again? Holding our hopes up, to be shattered once again after a minute or two. She closed her eyes in a flash of raw emotions cutting deep into her, then in a slight movement at her right, she was reminded of why she decided to meet Kurt today, or to even be dragged outside of that place with this guy.
She then heaved a sigh,opened her eyes and looked at him. “Kurt Oppa told me that someone he knew was roaming the streets of Seoul to find an array of ice cream. I didn’t know where he was leading to, but somehow, somewhere along his words, I felt a familiar pinch in my heart..”

She stopped. Geun Suk looked at her. She smiled, then averted her eyes. “I saw the news this morning…’, she trailed off.

She saw him shook his head; still, he did not offer any word.
“Kwaenchana?”, she asked, looking at him.

The guy simply smiled.” I’m fine.. I’m good”

“Kwaenchana?”, she asked again, her eyes not leaving his.

Geun Suk looked at her, irritation drawing its color on his eyes. He laughed… he shook his head, and that was all.

“Kwaenchana?”, she repeated, her eyes probing his, her teeth biting her bottom lip.

“I am!”, he blurted.. angry… annoyed… she couldn’t put a finger to which exactly he is feeling right now. But she’s not blind. She can read his eyes, in as much as he can read hers.

“I am going home”, she said, her eyes now fixed on the dashboard.

“Damn it, Shin Hye. Don’t play with me?”, he hissed, his nose flaring with anger.

Shin Hye froze. Her eyes as wide as saucers. She was surprised.. scared… she hasn’t seen him like this. Then she heard him uttered, ‘Mian.. mian… I guess I’m ruining it all.. mian…”He kept on saying it without looking at her.

Silence….

“You saw me today, right? I’m doing fine. How could I even manage the stunt that I pulled in there if I am not? Everyone else knows I’m fine.”

“I’m not everyone else”, she whispered, this cold mask getting deeply into her nerves.

He ignores that statement. “ The press is just exaggerating it…”

“And they’re hurting you in simply doing that exaggeration.”

Silence…

“Kurt..”, he started.

“Kurt is just acting as a friend that you’ve known him for long. Don’t be too unreasonable, Oppa, and turn it away from the subject that we are dealing here with”, she continued, almost hysterical.

Silence.

“I was still mad… at myself.. on you.. on whatever it is that we have, if we ever have something. I still couldn’t understand any of it. I told you I will try to think it through, and may be after I settled everything… anything.. I’ll be in contact with you again. You know what, Oppa? I still haven’t cleared anything. I don’t think I have even finished one argument laid on me, because in answering one question, I was led to another and another, which at the end will bring me back to my first question. I don’t even want to start thinking again…”

“Shin Hye..”

“I tried to shut my world off.. really getting tired of thinking.. considering… assessing.. then one bright morning, when I was about to start my make believe world, the news on you suddenly struck me, and I found you closing your world as well”

“Shin Hye, I’m fine”

“yes, and pigs can fly… Oppa, this is Shin Hye.. I am Shin Hye.. could we drop the act? When I see your photos on the news today, I saw you teasing them all…. They might laugh at you.. play with you.. but I read the charade, Oppa… and I hate it. I hate you for trying to close your world like that”

“I am not closing my world! Stop it, Shin Hye.. We’re not going anywhere here”, he bit out harshly, his hands trembling.

Shin Hye felt her tears making their way down her cheeks. She heaved a sigh, and just simply look at him.”

“Stop crying. For goodness sake, stop crying”

“I am not, Oppa.. I am not crying, in the same way that you are not hurting”

She heard him curse something, then silence once again enveloped the interior of his car.

“Look at me Oppa!”, she said, demanding his attention. “I am smiling… I should not be hurting, right? Look at me Oppa… I might be crying for joy, who knows”, then, unknowingly, her hands started opening and closing.

“Stop it.. “, he said, his eyes closed.

“Wae? Why can’t you look at me? Because you see right through me, Oppa. And you know that it’s hurting me seeing you like this”

“And it damn well making you uncomfortable fighting your urge to run away and get through this once and for all. You are hurting for me, and upto this point, you’re still not sure on why you’re feeling like that”

“Oppa…..”

“Shin Hye, stop hurting yourself for me. I may not be worth it. Who would have known? They might be right all about it.. all about me.. I might be that shallow.. that empty”

“I am not hearing any of this”, she said in resignation.

“Why? Are you too disappointed that I am what they are painting me to be? Mian.. I might not be that person you thought I was”

“And you might have not loved me the way you have told me before”

And just like that, the invisible glass was shattered
And they are treading that dangerous zone… again.

7 Comments »

Chapter 35: Barely Breathing

“I want to get a cone. Do you want some?”

Shin Hye looked at her phone, smiled weakly as she recognized the messenger.

How are you, Oppa?

Then, after a minute or two, she took the courage that was still left within her and sent a message.

“I’ll be out by 5. Will wait for you in front of the café”

As she passed by the road, aiming for the café in front of Young Pa, she saw the guy waiting for her inside the café. He waved her hand as he saw her entering the shop and stood up offering her a seat.

“Sashiburi”

She tilted her head and wrinkled her forehead, trying to remember the words which she learned a few years back. She nodded her head in agreement and gave a weak, “Neh”.

They sat in silence, trying to find words on how to make it not so awkward.

He broke the silence first, knowing it took her quite much to decide to meet him today.
“I already placed an order. If there is something you would want to add, I can take it for you”, he was about to stand up, when Shin Hye held his hand and smiled at him.

“No need, Oppa. I guess this is more than enough. I’m not that big of an eater”, she said, trying to lighten up the mood.

“Far from what I have heard from that guy”, he said carefully, trying to gauge her reaction.

He saw her shifted a little, as if something has threatened her comfort zone. She smiled a little, dismissing the topic which her eyes have denied, she said, “Why ice cream shop? We should have gone to the coffee shop nearby?”

He shook her head, seeing the stubbornness in that girl.

“One more round in this district and I guess I would have visited all the ice cream shop in the area. Not once, but thrice.”

“Eh?”, Shin Hye widened her eyes in disbelief. “I didn’t know you love ice cream that much”

That guy smiled and just focused his eyes on her.

“Weh?”, she asked, confused, amazed.

“I don’t like cold drinks, unless there’s a hint of alcohol. I don’t like milk, neither”

“Eh? So, why…”

She hasn’t finished her sentence yet when he cut her off and proceeded to that point, which he has been treading on and she’s trying very hard to avoid. “How would an ice cream change her mood everytime she’s feeling down? Does it melt the worries surrounding her clouded eyes? Or does it simply freeze her heart to forget everything? If it won’t go away, do I need to eat this thing every now and then just to keep moving on.. until something happen…a miracle maybe… divine intervention?”, he trails on, trying to read her eyes.

“He said he knows of someone who would eat ice cream whenever she’s not feeling well. When she’s nervous… when she’s scared… when she’s sad. He even remembered the very day that someone asked him for a cone. And that same day, he first realized how it is to have a hollow space in his heart. He ate a gallon after that meeting, but it didn’t lessen the pain.”

Shin Hye looked at him, then averted her eyes in that instant she met his. “Nu gu?”, she said, trying hard to avoid the topic, her hands opening and closing.

“She’s feeling uncomfortable…”was all that he could say.

“Mwo?”, she said, her eyes blank.

“Whenever she’s opening and closing her hands, she’s feeling uncomfortable. Don’t be fooled by her smile. Look into her eyes. If she tried to avoid yours, there’s definitely something wrong. If she bowed her head, wait for a minute or two. It’s either she will decide to put on a mask, or give you the truth you’re looking for. Don’t wait for long to know what it is that will happen next. Search for her hands. If she’s opening and closing hers, she’s feeling uncomfortable. She’s having a battle with herself.”

“Oppa!” Shin Hye said, with her fist closed.

“He’s not saying anything. He’s trying to have all the pain hidden inside. He’s trying to fly away.. trying to remain afloat. And do you know what’s keeping him to go on?”, he said, his voice too soft.

That girl was just looking at him. She’s not saying anything, but he knows she’s hearing every word he’s saying.

“The memories of that girl who shook his world the moment she took ownership of that space”

“Kurt Oppa”

“I don’t deal with things like this, Shin Hye. I think you know that. But, I don’t want to roam around anymore….eating ice creams, listening to his stories as if those were happening right before his very eyes”

Shin Hye shook her head, smiling, imagining Kurt having to tolerate his friend’s rant.

“You’re laughing at me, aren’t you?”,he teased her when he saw her smile the first time. “He’s barely holding on.”, he said, looking in her eyes.

“Oppa, i….”

“As his dongsaeng… for your Oppa”, he said, grimacing at the set-up he heard this two has agreed on.

Shin Hye looked at him, smiled, then said, “You’re laughing at me, aren’t you?”

“If this does not involve a friend who’s eating ice cream at day time and drinking alcohol at night.. yeah, you can bet on it. I won’t be sitting here, making a fool of myself”

“Yah!”

“Can you spare that guy a little of your time, and try to talk him out of this mess”

“Hm.. that is, if he still would want to see me, Oppa”

“Am I talking to a wall earlier on? Were you with me just now?”

“Yah!”

“You, two, are really funny. Jinja, funny!”

—-
At around 8 that evening, after her rehearsal, she agreed to meet Kurt. That guy drove to Gangnam, throwing her glances once in a while.

“Weh?”, she asked when she felt him looking at her.

Kurt just shrugged his shoulder, shook his head and smiled.

—-
Fifteen minutes after, she was ushered to that same bar they’ve gone to the first time she met Team H.

As Kurt saw her realizing where they were, he smiled and offered his hand to her. “Looks familiar?”

Shin Hye just smiled, then nodded her head.

Before they enter the shop, one Ahjussi stood in front of the entrance, blocking their way inside.

“Girls under 20 are not allowed to go inside.” As he lifted his eyes, he grinned, remembering that face. “12 mn kiddo, you still haven’t learned your lesson”

“Ahjussi…”, Shin Hye said, smiling shyly.

“At least no baseball cap tonight. Geun Suk….. eh.. Kurt!?!”, he exclaimed in surprise, not expecting Kurt to see standing beside that girl. “What is happening here?”

“Hyung, easy. There is nothing wrong… so far”, Kurt said, bowing his head.

“Kurt…”

“Ara.. ara.. I’m just playing a good friend here, Hyung”

The guy looked at him, shaking his head. “He’s inside. Not sure how many bottles he has already down. And…”, then he looked at Shin Hye and continued. “a lot of girls are inside. Playing, fighting for his attention. He might throw a glance or two, might finish one bottle or four, but he doesn’t go out of this room with any of those girls with him. You got my point, little girl?”

Shin Hye swallowed, widened her eyes, suddenly became scared of the tone of that Ahjussi. “Deh… ahjussi.. arasseo…”

“Good. I won’t strip you off your jacket. It’s quite cold inside.”, and then he grinned at that girl.

—-
Five minutes after, they were already striding inside, with Kurt walking ahead of her, tugging her behind him.

“Oppa, why are there a lot of people here? And the crowd is too noisy.” she said, holding his hand tightly.

Kurt felt the uneasiness in her hand, feeling a bit irritated why he chose today of all days.

Does he go back and send her home?

Ani… said the little voice in his head. His friend needs her…. His friend.

As his eyes scanned the room, he saw his group sitting at the farthest end.

Geun Suk… where is that guy? he whispered to himself as they neared that table.

Shin Hye, with her head bowed down, one hand over her chest as if protecting her body, the other holding tightly on Kurt, avoided to lift her eyes and be dizzy of the light and sounds. She’s never been to a place this crowded.. noisy before…

Oppa… where is Geun Suk Oppa? Her head has whispered as she felt Kurt dragging her to somewhere.

Though the house is packed tonight, Geun Suk didn’t know, but the moment that door opened, his eyes automatically flew to that direction.

And there he saw her eyes.. confused.. scared… lost…

He smiled upon seeing that face, was about to run to her when he was frozen to where he is the moment he saw her bowed her head, her hands clasped with someone.

Geun Suk squinted his eyes, trying to gauge the person she came here with. He let out a cold laugh the moment he realized who that guy was.

Kurt. He said, his voice laced with contempt.

As those two heads neared their table, someone passed between their clasped hands, losing Kurt’s grip on Shin Hye.

“Damn!”, he cursed as he looked for Shin Hye, his hands automatically reaching for hers, pulling her behind him.

But the girl didn’t move. He tried to pull her, but she didn’t move.

The moment he looked up to find the intruder, he smiled a lopsided smile, knowing exactly why that girl was rooted to her ground.

That guy’s eyes were fixed on hers; hers on his. The world seemed to stop, for they were just standing there, looking at each other, not minding those people who were passing them by.

His eyes, hurt. Hers, worried.
His smile, pained. Hers, confused.

“Oppa…”, was the first word she could utter.

That guy smiled weakly at her, then looked at Kurt. “Don’t look for a fist fight when you’re with her. She’s already scared to come here. You’ll just make it worst, throwing a fight in front of her eyes”, he told Kurt, excused his self, without throwing another glance at that girl.

Puzzled, Shin Hye’s eyes followed that guy’s back, lost in what has just happened.

“Kurt Oppa…”, she said, hoping that guy could clarify what has just unfolded before her very eyes.

Kurt shook his head, smiled, then said, “I will talk to him in a minute. I’ll find us a chair first”

As he found their way to where the rest of Team H were seated, he offered her a seat and placed himself beside her. He held her hand, trying to assure her of what, he didn’t know.

Geun Suk saw how Kurt attended to her every need, never leaving her for the past thirty minutes or so. He was just standing from afar, his eyes never leaving them.

Kurt… he whispered silently, shaking his head, biting his inner cheek.

He saw her looking around, her eyes bewildered, searching for someone.

I am here, Princess. I am here. Are his silent scream as he saw the uneasiness in her eyes.

Then, a grin was formed in his lips, mocking his inner self.
She’s not looking for you… will never be…

Shin Hye was sitting in silent, at least three girls were seated in front of her, their eyes studying her from head to toe. Kurt did not miss the scrutiny and was about to say something when Shin Hye’s hand held him tightly.

A minute after, the music stopped, the crowd went wild.

“Big Brother! Big Brother!”

The crowd was asking for that guy, Shin Hye’s eyes roamed around, curious on who that guy is.
As her eyes met his, she smiled then said, “who’s Big Brother?”

She saw him smirked, then she heard him say, “you’re looking at him now”

“You?”, she asked, amazed.

“Weh? Are you laughing at me now?”

“Ani…”, she answered, shaking her head.

The spark in her eyes didn’t escape his gaze.
She’s smiling at him…. But why…

Hearing the demand from the crowd, Shin Hye’s eyes were brought back to the stage as a familiar voice echoed inside the bar.

“Test.. mike.. mike.. test…”

Her eyes automatically found his… his never leaving hers..
Kurt saw the message exchanged between them.

His, searching…asking..
Hers…understanding…reaching…

“My dear friend is playing a host to a dear friend”, he bit his lips as those words escaped his mouth. He saw her twitch of the words, and averted his eyes in an instant. “I will be playing the host for tonight, will that be ok?”

The crowd went wild.

“Geun Suk is back” a voice from the back was heard.

“Party time.. party till we drop” one has answered back.

Kurt was about to stand up, but Shin Hye held his hand and shook her head.
Kurt looked back at her, biting his inner cheek.
She didn’t say a word. But her eyes spoke volume.

Don’t. Please.
He’s hurt. He’s hiding.
Don’t push him far.

Shin Hye withdrew her hand the moment she knew Kurt understood.
She looked at that guy on stage, smiled weakly at him, then bowed her head.

Geun Suk saw when she tried to talk to Kurt.
She didn’t say a word, but he knows there’s an understanding in his eyes.
He felt his chest tightened, his eyes with fire.
As he watched those hands pulling from his, he lifted his eyes and met hers.
He saw when she smiled weakly, then chose to drown her words by bowing her head.
He saw her opened and closed her hands.

She’s having a fight with herself.
She’s fighting to understand… to stay and watch him gather himself together.
She’s fighting the urge to run away… to let go and surrender.

He’s guarding her space… his eyes on guard.

Stay a little more… please.
Don’t leave me here…
Stay… please

He’s trying his best to break free from the inner rumblings of his narrow mind.
He’s fighting his self to set aside his childish understanding…

You came here for me.
Please tell me, you’re here because of me.
Save me, Princess…
Please, stay…

As he maneuvered his body, ready to run towards her, his eyes widened as he saw her shocked, confused eyes on his.

A girl climbed the stage, held his face between her hands, and kissed him full on the lips… again.

He saw her stopped her breathing, her eyes never leaving his.
Then out of nowhere, he thought he heard the guy sitting beside her, said something like, “That’s it! We’re leaving!”

That guy stood up and dragged that girl, pulling her with him, while leaving him with threatening eyes.
You ruined your chance, big guy.

Then as they were striding, walking towards the exit, Shin Hye was trying to pull away while Kurt kept his hands on hers, someone passed between them… again…

But this time, he didn’t spare that guy enough time to look for her hand again.
As he passed between them, he caught her hand the moment it slipped from his.

“I guess we have something to talk about”, he said in between gritted teeth, and pulled that girl outside of that place… hoping to keep his self in control before he finally explode.

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Chapter 34: Played. Fooled. Saved.

Arasseo.. arasseo.. we’ll stay like this.. I can’t promise for how long.. but we’ll stay like this.. for as long as we can.. for as long as I can….

It has been an hour now since he dropped Shin Hye in front of her house. He was still sitting in the driver’s seat, his hands on the steering wheel, looking at nothing in particular, his words ringing in his ears.

Geun Suk heaved a sigh as it finally dawned to him.

That girl would never be his… will never be.

He closed his eyes, smiled sarcastically as he looked at the night sky. For five years since they’ve met, the story has been like this. She, standing there; him finding her. And though they fought too hard.. he, careful not to hurt her; she, cautious not to fall.. after a second or two, they will find each other, looking at each other’s eyes, with tears falling down their cheeks. With their hearts shattered into pieces, they were still looking at each other’s eyes, though surrendering on the pain, they were still smiling, somehow hopeful that such pain would be the last.

I don’t want to run away anymore. I want to stay here.. right here, with you.

Geun Suk wiped the tears that are threatening to fall down his cheeks. He remembered her words that day when he first saw her after he broke her heart.

Let’s make this more difficult, Oppa.

Ha! So this is how difficult it is. She’s here. I am here. But the line has been set.
She will stay. I will stay. But we cannot be the way we want us to be.
My star is here. She’s shining for me.
She’s here, but she’s too far away.

Geun Suk closed his eyes once more. And though his heart was beginning to be broken, shattered further, he smiled as he remembered his promise.

We’ll stay like this.. for as long as we can.. for as long as I can….

As that girl entered her room, she leaned back to her closed door, afraid that someone would find her broken like this, again.

It should be ok. I should be ok. We should be ok, right, Oppa?

She whispered in the wind as she felt her tears started to roll down her cheeks.
Shin Hye closed her eyes as she remembered how her heart screamed the moment she made that request.

Let’s stay like this, Oppa. I don’t want to run away anymore.

That girl could still remember how Geun Suk’s eyes welled with tears the moment he heard her words.

Stubborn! Babo!

Her head was screaming inside.

What do you want Shin Hye? What is it really that you want?

Shin Hye shook her head as slowly, her knees have given up. She slid down to the floor, with her knees hugged to her chest. Like a lost kid, she sat there crying.. breaking..

I just don’t want to hurt us anymore. I want to runaway. But who am I fooling, Oppa? No matter how fast I run.. no matter where I go, you will always appear in front of me, and I will always find myself looking back at you. Maybe Ye Sul Unnie is right. We can’t runaway.

And as her sobs are beginning to become louder, as her muffled cry was trapped by the corners of her room, as she was longing to hear his voice, her phone vibrated, with his name on her screen.

My Number 1.

Shin Hye smiled, wiped her tears, as she saw that name. It’s been months. She was mad. But she didn’t know that name has not been changed.

She was looking at her phone, her heart at ease, knowing that guy was thinking of her still.
She was smiling like a crazy idiot, looking at his name flashing on her screen.
After three or five missed called, the call has stopped.
Shin Hye just sat there, hoping for that phone to ring again.

A minute or two has passed, still, the phone did not vibrate.
Like a kid, that girl pouted, and silently whispered, “One more call. One last call. Chebal. “

A second or two after, a message was received.

I know you’re still not sleeping. Answer my call, chebal. This would be my last. After this, we’ll do as I promised.

Shin Hye’s heart started to beat fast.

What are you thinking, babo? Are you even thinking? Who are you fooling? You like him. You love him still. Why can you not be selfish for once?

As that call came in, Shin Hye was just staring at her phone, deliberating whether to answer it or not.

You’re just making it more difficult. Let go. Chebal, let go.

Shin Hye smiled as she heard those words.

I want this to be more difficult, right? I asked for this, right?

And then, as she wiped her tears, she pressed that button, connecting their lines.

Shin Hye closed her eyes as she put that phone to her ears. She was seated there, waiting.
Geun Suk closed his eyes as he heard her answering the phone. He stayed there, gauging.
No one dared to say a word. No one tried to break their silence.
It’s as if that’s what they simply needed.
The assurance that he’s and there and she’s there.
No words needed.

Shin Hye slowly walked towards her window.
That guy slowly walked down his car.

As if their time is up, as that girl smiled, ready to let go, she heard his words.

“Don’t cry. Mianhae. This might be the last..for now. Saranghae”

And with that, they ended what they thought they had.
They drew the line. They let go.
They saved each other from hurting.
They pretended it didn’t hurt.
They pretended they were not breaking.
They pretended they were not in pain.
They pretended they can… let go…

—-
Days have passed after that night.
It must have been a silent agreement. Their paths never did cross once.

At times that girl would absentmindedly stand in front of that spot where that guy would always pick her up. She would stand there, walking back and forth, waiting.. hoping…

Then after five or ten paces, she would smile at nothing in particular, thankful that the guy has indeed kept his words.

Thankful.. is she?

That guy would at times visit that café near her school.
He would order her Americano and cheesecake, waiting.. hoping that she would come. He would sit there at their usual spot, craning his neck, hoping for that girl to appear.
Then after three or five sips, he would stare at her food in front of him, shaking his head.

Babo! She will not come. She will not.

Days have passed like that.
Them, hoping that the other would not keep his/her words.
Them, hoping that someone would be stubborn enough to break the rule.
And then, as if those days were years, as if they finally accepted their fate, that fate which they themselves have written, they finally let go.. pretended to let go.

One Monday afternoon, in the month of November, as the wind was becoming colder, winter threatening to make its presence be felt, as Shin Hye was walking near her bus stop, she stopped five steps away from her waiting spot.

For the past days, she dared not to step on that spot, scared that some memories would be fooling her heart again.

Shin Hye smiled as she remembered her words. She shook her head, then slowly took a step back, turning around, retreating from that spot.

Five steps away, she suddenly stopped, feeling that fear started to creep down her system again.

She shook her head, knowing exactly what that fear is for.

Then five, ten seconds after, she heard that voice, which for days, she longed to hear.

“Hey, little bugger!”

Shin Hye slowly turned around, facing that guy who was standing there, his hands in his pocket.

That girl tilted her head, smiling.

That guy has his head bowed down, his feet drawing circles on that ground.

“What took you so long?”, she asked bravely, a smile on her lips.

“Missed me?”, he asked, looking at her.

Shin Hye wrinkled her forehead, missing the playfulness of that guy.

“Arasseo.. arasseo.. mianhae… I have to do some thinking and sanity check. I’m back!”, he said, his arms open wide.

“I can see that…”, she said, shaking her head.

That guy slowly walked towards her, his eyes never leaving her face. “I miss that girl”

“Hm?”, she said, as she herself walked near him, gauging, warning him of his next words.

Geun Suk smiled, shook his head. “want to grab some coffee before I take you home?”

“You’re taking me home?”, she asked, worry beginning to envelope her heart.

That guy smiled, took her things, put his arm around her shoulder then said, “Can’t the Oppa bring his dongsaeng for coffee? Is there a rule saying that should not be done?”

Shin Hye smiled as he heard his words. “The Oppa has been quite stingy for the past days. Are you afraid this dongsaeng will eat a lot and consume all your hard-earned fortune?”, she said, teasingly.

Geun Suk took a step back, surprised of that girl.. that girl whom she met that day when she was waiting for her Oppa. He smiled, unsure whether to feel happy or scared.

He’s happy she’s ok.
He’s scared, she’s distancing herself that much.

Geun Suk smirked, waking up from that thinking. “You can order all you want. Eat all you want, and this Oppa will not even care if his card will be maxed out. Yah, better eat all you want, and become as big as you can so that no other guy would look your way….”, he said the last words slowly, knowing that he was threading a different line.

That girl stopped and looked at him. And pretending he didn’t notice his words, he continued walking then said, “Your Oppa will stay no matter what. They might find you too big, monstrous size, but this Oppa will not care. That is what Oppa is good for, right? They love their dongsaeng unconditionally.” He then smiled as if what he has just said is pretty normal.

As he opened the passenger’s seat, as she buckled her seatbelt and he’s settling himself in the driver’s seat, he heard his words which totally broke his pretending whole self.

“Oppa, can you find a girl?”, she said, without looking at him.

Geun Suk froze at her words. He smiled, let out a sigh of disappointment, and ignoring her words, he took a hold of that steering wheel and started the engine.

But he forgot.. almost forgot that the girl seated beside him is quite stubborn.

“Oppa, go find a girl. Date a noona. A beautiful one. “, she continued not looking at him.

Geun Suk looked at her, shaking his head.

Sensing that he’s looking at her, she smiled, met his gaze, and said, “I wonder what kind of girl you like, Oppa. If that day comes, I want to meet her. The dongsaeng might give an approval to her Oppa’s would-be girlfriend, right?”

Geun Suk smiled, feeling the awkwardness of the situation, them pretending that what’s they’re playing is not hurting them inside.

“That would take quite some time. I have too many commitments at the moment. I don’t think I can be a good boyfriend at this point in time,” he said, trying to drop that subject.

Shin Hye looked away, shook her head, then said, “I better find a boyfriend, then.”

Geun Suk abruptly stepped on break as he heard her words. “mworago?”

“I better find a boyfriend, Oppa. It won’t be fun if both of us are not seeing anyone”, she said, playing at her fingers.

“Park Shin Hye”, he said, almost shouting.

“Deh?”, that girl looked at him, pretending she didn’t know what he meant with those words.

Reading the worry in her eyes, the uneasiness, the discomfort that they are both in, Geun Suk shook his head and laughed at that kid. “Aniya… aniya… I know what you’re thinking”

“Oppa…” , she said, trying to read him.

“You can’t easily find a guy. You still cannot have a boyfriend. You’re too young for that.”

“Yah!”

“Wae? If one of us needs to date someone, I’ll be the one”, he said smiling, trying to hide his broken self. He’d rather be the one dating. He can do something with that. Not this kid. He cannot afford seeing that girl going out with someone.

Even if that is just a strategy to keep their distance, he cannot agree to it, she, dating someone else.
Even if he knew that is just make-believe, what if she falls? What if she falls for real before he could take back his words?
Aniya… that can’t do.. that won’t do.
He’d rather be that guy, playing around. Playing around….
Aniya.. he won’t play. He’d just keep someone close, to keep that girl closer to her.

Geun Suk smiled, “someone needs to date another in pronto, right?”

That girl nodded, gauging his words.

“Then, let it be me. I could find someone later tonight.”, he said, winking at her.

“What do you mean by that?”, the girl asked, trying to hide her broken heart.

That guy looked at her from head to toe, shook his head then said, “If I will wait for you to find someone else.. tch! It might take a lightyear”

“Yah!” she said, hitting him.

Geun Suk laughed heartily, trying to hide his broken self. “I will find one. When do you want to meet her?”

Shin Hye looked at him. She smiled weakly, then looked away.

“Yah! Are you jealous?”, he said, teasing her.

“Yah, Oppa! Why would a dongsaeng be jealous of her Oppa finding a girl?”, she said stubbornly.

“Ha ha ha!”

“I can find someone.. I can find someone too”, she said with a pout.

“Yah!”

“Wae? Is the Oppa jealous of the dongsaeng finding a guy?”, she said, meeting his eyes.

“Do you want to send someone to a hospital, Park Shin Hye?”

“Yah!”

“Better save a soul. And save me from an impending police record”, he said kiddingly.

“Oppa, are you serious? How could you…”

Geun Suk looked at her, then with that weak smile, he told her, “I will find someone. That’s a requirement, right?”

If that’s a requirement for you stay this close, I’ll find someone.

Shin Hye smiled weakly as well, without looking at him.

“Oppa, I’ll get off here. I think I forget to buy something. I need to grab something”, she said, opening the door before the light turned green. She immediately walked away, without looking back. She walked the opposite way, and when she saw the cars hitting their gas, she slowed down her pace and whispered, “Mianhae, Oppa. Mianhae”

—-

Days have passed. Shin Hye didn’t hear anything from that guy since that day. She was going on with her life, hoping that she’ll get used to his absence.

A week after that, a heavy snow has fallen on that side of Seoul.
No bus could come in. No mode of transport.
She was waiting at the café, hoping for the snow to stop. She was looking outside the window.

The clock has struck 8 in the evening, and there she was, still waiting..hoping.. for something she didn’t know.

One by one, the girls from her school has been picked up either by their parents or their respective boyfriends.
Her phone has been ringing. She would jump at times, somehow hoping to see a familiar name in her phone.

For two hours, she was quite disappointed, knowing that the guy has not been worried a bit.
Shin Hye pouted, as she looked around, waiting for someone to come and find her.

Her Mom has been ringing her, worried. “Arasseo, Eomma. I’ll wait for Oppa. Don’t worry. The café will not be closed until midnight. Oppa said he’s on his way already”

Shin Hye put her phone back on the table, her head leaning against the window.

Geun Suk Oppa…
Geun Suk Oppa…

Babo, Shin Hye.
You asked for this, right?

Oppa should worry about his dongsaeng, right?

Are you kidding me? Tch!

Thirty minutes have passed, then her phone rang.

“Shin Hye, I am stuck here at Jamsil. I don’t think I can reach there before 12. Can you find another place? I’ll be there as fast as I can”

“Aisssh! Oppa, I can manage. I’ll just walk to the subway. That would be faster. It would save us both of the trouble”

“Aissh! Jinja! Appa would kill me”

“Oppa, I can manage. Jinja”

“I’ll call Eomma. You stay there”

“Oppa!”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Jinja”, Shin Hye muttered under her breath. “I can go home”

A minute after, her phone rang.

“Eomma, I can manage. Jinja. The subway is just five minutes away. You can just pick me up at the station. Oppa is stuck at Jamsil. Jinja, Eomma, I can manage”

“Try to set your foot outside the café, and you’re dead!”

Shin Hye froze, upon hearing that voice. “Geun Suk Oppa?”

“I’ll be there in five minutes”

“Oppa, aniya.. andwae…”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Aigoo!

Shin Hye stood outside the café, waiting. Her heart beating a thousand, excited to have a glimpse of that face. Exactly five minutes after, his car arrived, stopping in front of her.

“You’re really stubborn, aren’t you? I told you to wait inside, didn’t I?”

Shin Hye smiled, then said, “I didn’t wait for long, Oppa.” Then she walked around the car, opening the passenger’s seat.

“Shin Hye..”, before he could finish his words, Shin Hye has already opened the door, revealing a girl seated at her seat.

“Oh.. mianhae…”, she said, bowing her head.

Geun Suk walked near her, then opened the door at the back seat.

“Shin Hye, right? Stephanie here”, she said in her slang Hangul.

Shin Hye just bowed her head, smiling weakly at her.

All along the drive, that girl was dead silent. She was having a staring contest with the window of his car, not wanting to see the sight in front of her.

“I heard a lot about you”, Stephanie said, as she was feeding that guy with roasted chestnuts.

“Hm?”, she said, looking at the guy from the rearview mirror.

“Sometimes, I wonder whether you are really his dongsaeng. Didn’t he make a move on you?”, she said, straightforwardly.

Shin Hye averted her eyes from his, then smiled at that girl. “Ani.. Oppa, has a certain fettish. And I am not in any way be in that category”

“Hm?”, the girl said, smiling.

“He likes girls with slang Hangul, just like what you have”, she said, smiling.

“Jinja?”

“Hm?’, she said, nodding her head.

“Geun Suk, can we drop by at the pub? I need to hand something to Alice”

“I think I’m out of the way. Oppa, you can just drop me off at the intersection. I will just ask Shin Won Oppa to pick me up from there”

“I’ll send you first”, he said sternly.

“Geun Suk, Alice is waiting for me”

“Stephanie, can we just drop this girl off? Tell Alice we’ll be 30 minutes late”, he said, his voice a bit loud.

“Geun Suk, I’m just asking for favor from her. Can we just go there first? And besides, Shin Hye can already handle herself. She’s not a kid”, she said, irritated.

“Oppa, just drop me off at Jamsil. I can manage”, she said, though at the back of her head, she’s thinking otherwise.

Oppa, can you choose me over her?
Oppa, can you not drop me off there?
Oppa, I know I may sound twisted, but can you argue further and tell her you cannot just leave me there?
You won’t leave me there, right?
You’ll be worried, right?

And, as if taunting her, all her hopes shattered, her eyes almost welling in tears, as she heard him say, “What is Shin Won’s number?”

As they reached the intersection, Shin Won was already there, waiting for them.

Shin Hye opened the car door, and when Geun Suk motioned to go down as well, she stopped him, saying, “No need, Oppa. I think you need to hurry to go down to the pub. Your friends might have been waiting for long. Thank you for picking me up. Stephanie Unnie, mianhae”, then she went down, going straight to her brother’s car.

—-
A week after that, with her books in her arms, a bag on her shoulder, she found a newly opened café not too far from the Han. Curious, she went inside, hopeful to find something new that would ease her longing on the familiarity that she always look for.

As she stood in front of the counter, scanning the shelf of sweets, a familiar voice echoed inside.

“Americano and cheesecake, one frappe and chocolate cake”, he said, walking ahead of her, paying for the order.

Shin Hye looked at him, thinking where he has seen this guy.

“Kurt. I was with Geun Suk during the last meet up?”, he said, smiling.

“Ah…” , Shin Hye said, nodding her head. “Park…”

“Shin Hye, right?

Shin Hye nodded her head.

“You came in quite early.”, he said as he took his orders.

“Hm?”, she said, confused. She was about to place an order when Kurt looked at her, “Cheesecake and Americano, right?”

“Eh?”, Shin Hye said with widened eyes.

Kurt smiled, ushered her to a corner, as he asked, “You’re not waiting for someone, are you?”

Shin Hye shook her head, biting her lips.

“Wae? Is there a problem, Shin Hye-ssi?”

“Kurt..Oppa? Oppa is not expecting to see me here today”, she said, not knowing how to excuse herself. “I just came by because I saw the shop is new…”

Kurt laughed, looking at her. “No wonder that guy is crazy over you. You’re cute, jinja!”

Shin Hye just looked at him, dumbfounded.

“Aniya… aniya… I am not making a move. I don’t want to see my head rolling down….”, then remembering his last conversation with Geun Suk, that night when the guy drowned himself in alcohol, he paused, then looked at that girl. “Mianhae.. I think I’m talking a lot.”

Shin Hye smiled, seeing that awkwardness in Kurt. “No worries, Oppa. I’ll just keep you company for a while. “, she said as she took a spoonful of cheesecake.

‘You have quite an appetite”

“Yah!”

“Ha ha ha. I think I like you. The other guys are dying to see you again, Shin Hye-ssi”

“You can just call me Shin Hye”, she said, smiling.

“Arasseo…”

—-
They were talking in comfort when the door of the café open, and then a guy and a girl came in. They were quite friendly with each other, the girl whispering some words to that guy, while that guy is smiling, but trying to keep his distance.

As Shin Hye saw those who just came in, her eyes widened, not expecting to see him… with a girl.. with that girl again.

As Kurt saw her eyes, he looked back and saw his friend being too friendly with a girl.

He shook his head, then looked at that girl. “Mianhae.. I didn’t..”

Shin Hye lifted her head then smiled at him. “No worries, Oppa. I want to see Geun Suk Oppa as well”

“Shin Hye, I can usher you out if you…”, he said, trying to save that girl from meeting his friend.

That girl simply smiled and shook her head. Stubborn as she is, she just sat there, waiting to come face to face with her fear.

As Geun Suk walked towards that guy, he didn’t notice the girl sitting opposite him. He smiled hand in hand with that girl, laughing at nothing in particular, and when he reached that table, he saw a girl with her head bowed down. He didn’t know why, but his heart started to beat fast.

Shrugging that worry off, he eyed that girl again and looked at Kurt. “Yah, I didn’t know you’re going to bring a girl”, he said, and as he looked back at the girl seated beside Kurt, he almost lose his balance when he saw her face.

“I didn’t know YOU are going to bring a girl”, Kurt said, his eyes boring hole on him.

Geun Suk took a step back as he saw that face he wanted so much to see.

Shin Hye, sensing the situation, smiled and stood up. “You didn’t expect to see me, right, Oppa?” and looking at the girl standing beside him, Shin Hye bowed her head and smiled, “Stephanie Unnie”

The girl looked at Geun Suk, smiled, then looked at the table. Knowing what it is that she is trying to say, Shin Hye took her things and said, “Kurt Oppa, can you move a little? I want to sit on that side”.

“Thank you!” Stephanie said, pulling Geun Suk to sit beside her.

Stephanie sat at the corner, in front of Kurt, while Shin Hye was seated opposite Geun Suk.

“Kurt, right?”, Stephanie said, smiling at Kurt.

The guy just nodded his head, then looked at Geun Suk. He might have seen Shin Hye only the second time, but he wanted to punch his friend on the face for making this situation. Kurt didn’t know why, but that girl has something with her, making everyone around her wanting to protect her against anyone.

Shin Hye, sensing the tension, tapped Kurt’s hand, knowing the words said between their eyes. The act didn’t escape Geun Suk’s eyes. He bit his inner cheek, wanting to punch his friend for sitting beside his… girl.

“Have you placed your order?”, she said, her perky self channeling in.

“Tea?”, she said, as if asking that girl to stand up and get her drinks for her.

Kurt bit his lips, trying hard to control his anger.

“Sweets?”, Shin Hye asked further, ignoring the situation.

“I don’t eat sweets. I will get fat”

“Hm..”, she said, nodding her head. “Oppa?”, she said, pretending she didn’t know what it is that he likes.

That guy just looked at her, puzzled.

Shin Hye smiled and said, “Americano?”

The guy smiled weakly, and before she stood up, he grabbed her hand and said, “I’ll get the order.” He looked at her plate, then said, “Care for another slice?”

“We’ll be leaving in a few more minutes”, Kurt said, looking at him in the eyes.

Shin Hye saw how fire started to flare in his eyes. She swallowed, smiled at Kurt, then said, “Kurt Oppa, I can still stay for a while.”

As they were settled, Stephanie talked most of the time, sharing her experiences in the States. At times, she would speak in English, smiling at Geun Suk. The girl is quite touchy, leaning her head on Geun Suk, holding his hand, while the guy was just sitting there, looking at that girl.

And then, out of the blue, she looked at Shin Hye, then said, “You’re pretty. How old are you?”

“19”, she said, smiling.

“Are you seeing someone?”

She saw the guy flinched on the words. She can feel his eyes focused on her.

Shin Hye smiled, shaking her head. “Ani.. not allowed.”

“Eh. I didn’t know that parents in Korea are still that strict”

“Tch! Her Oppa would break that guy’s bone if ever she would see someone”

“Your Oppa is quite strict”, Stephanie said, shaking her head. “Lucky, I am not covered by such a culture. “, then she looked at Geun Suk, grinned, then continued, “I can date you openly”, she said, holding his face, giving his lips a tug.

She smiled mischievously, her hand caressing his arm. She’s biting her lips, controlling herself.

Shin Hye’s eyes widened as she saw her plan unfolding in front of her eyes.
As she saw that guy smiling back at that girl, she held her chest, preventing it from breaking.

Chebal, Shin Hye. Leave.

Her head has said, trying to pull her from an expected embarrassment.

She saw the girl wipe his lips with her fingers, and with those stares, she somehow knew what would happen next.

The guy hesitated at first, but he’s a guy after all.

He looked at his peripheral, gauging that girl.
Geun Suk closed his eyes, knowing that she’s hurting.

This is what you wanted, right?
You’ll stay, if I do this, right?

And forgetting all his inhibitions, he kissed her back, deeply, but not that way he wanted to kiss that girl.
His hand on her waist, her hand on his neck.

Kurt, seeing what his friend just did, stood up and pulled Shin Hye by the hand.
Stephanie, surprised, pulled back from Geun Suk, then looked at those two, sitting opposite them. “Mian. I didn’t mean to offend anyone”, she said, a bit embarrassed of her act.

Shin Hye shook her head, not wanting to look down at that girl. “Aniya. Mian. I need to go”
She said, her head bowed down, running to get out of that place in an instant.

Shin Hye ran as fast as she could.

This is what you wanted, right?
You asked for this, right?

And as she reached one corner, she hid herself, her tears could no longer be controlled. She cried like a kid, her heart poked by a thousand needles.

She was drumming her chest, hoping that would stop the pain. Slowly, she slid down, her hands wiping her tears.

“I’ll bring you home”, she heard his voice.

And when she opened her eyes, she found him standing in front of her.

Shin Hye wiped her tears, then said, “Aniya… I’m not going home yet. I still need to go somewhere”, she said as she tried to stand up, wiping her tears, avoiding his eyes.

“I’ll bring you home” he said sternly.

“Jinja! Why do you want to bring me home?”, she said, her voice a bit loud. “I’m not going home yet”

“Don’t be stubborn, Shin Hye. Where will you go with your eyes like these?”, he said, cupping her face, wiping her tears.

Shin Hye shook her head, removing his hands from her face. “I’m not a kid. Don’t treat me like one”

“And I’m not stupid”, he said, looking straight to her eyes. “Mianhae…”

“Tch! Why were you sorry? You didn’t do anything wrong”

“Stop being stubborn!”

“I’m not going home”

“Shin Hye”, he said grabbing her arm.

Shin Hye closed her eyes. And with heavy breathing, she continued to sob. “Oppa, chebal. Let go. My self is already mocking me. Don’t make my situation worse”

“Shin Hye”, he said, not letting go of her arm.

“Fine!”, she said, turning around, facing him. “What it is that you want to hear? I am jealous. I am dying when I saw you kissing her. I tried not to. Funny, right? I asked for this. Yet, I can’t stand seeing you with someone else.”

“I’ll bring you home”, he said, not wanting to see her like this.

“I am jealous, Oppa! Didn’t you hear me? You can laugh at me now.”

“Shin Hye, please stop. I don’t know what to do now. You keep on pushing me away, then you will act like this. What do you want me to do?”, he said, on the verge of screaming, irritated of that girl’s stubbornness.

“Nothing. I’m not asking you anything, Oppa. I told you, right? I am the problem. Not you”, she said, walking away.

“Park Shin Hye”, he shouted, stopping her from her track.

Shin Hye stopped, then without looking at him, she said, “when you picked me up that night, and I saw her seating on my seat, I almost cried Oppa. I was supposed to be there. I was supposed to throw my tantrums, making your head turn, asking you to do the impossible. When I asked you drop me off at Jamsil, I was hoping you would say no. I was hoping you would tell her to make her friend wait. I was hoping you would choose me over her. Pathetic, right?”. Shin Hye paused, biting her lips. “why is it easy for them to be together? Why is it easy for us to find someone else? Why can’t it be us, Oppa? Why do they keep on pulling us together, only to pull us apart? I hate it, Oppa. I hate this feeling. I hate them. I hate us”, then slowly, she turned around, looking at him in the eyes, “Mianhae, Oppa. I don’t think I can still face you after this.”

“Shin Hye’, that guy said, with tears, rolling down his cheeks.

“Give me some time, Oppa. I need to sort things out. Once I’m ok… once I know I can already face you, I will give you a call. Mianhae”, then slowly, she stepped back, and when she saw him walking near her, she shook her head, and ran as fast as she could.

—-

As days passed by, that girl would at times remember that guy she left that night.

Mianhae, Oppa.
You’re doing good, right?
I know you are.

She smiled as she placed her hand on her chest.

You’re doing good, right?
We’re doing ok, right?

And then, as she opened her computer, surfing the net, there she find his photos posted on every entertainment portal with a caption, “empty gesture”. Shin Hye’s forehead wrinkled as she read the news. That girl was furious. She’s biting her lips, controlling her anger.

That guy shuts his world off. He was hurting. He was in pain. But that doesn’t matter. He can carry on. He doesn’t care.

That girl was staring at her phone.

Aniya, I can’t face you yet, Oppa.
You still have her, right?
You still have them.
Mianhae.

That guy was looking at his phone.

Can I see you now?
Maybe by then, I will be ok.
I just want to see you.

And then a minute after, a message was sent.

“I want to get a cone. Do you want some?”

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Chapter 33: The Night That Promise was Made

Shin Hye smiled,as she heard his words. She looked at him, nodded, then said softly.”I need to take my leave now,Oppa. See you around”, then she bowed her head and smiled at those people whose eyes were watching their every move.

Before she could take a step further, Geun Suk held her hand, not wanting to let her go.

Shin Hye looked back at him, smiled then said, “I need to go, Oppa. The staffs are waiting for me. And THEY are waiting for you”. She held his hand, removing it from hers. Then, she walked away from that room, without looking back.

44th Baeksang Awards

Shin Hye was nominated for Best New Coming Actress, TV Category, for her role as Saya in Kimcheed Radish Cubes. At the same time, Geun Suk was nominated for his Happy Life role, under the same category, Best New Coming Actor for film.

Shin Hye was not expecting. Being nominated and being able to walk on the red carpet were already too much for her.

As her car drove in front of the venue, her heart was doing a drumroll, nervous-scared of what to expect on this event. Her gown was not helping in any way. Her management decided to have this gown, a declaration that she was no longer a kid, and was now ready to conquer the next step of her career. Shin Hye closed her eyes, remembering how hard she cried the moment they have decided that this would be the platform of her transition. She remembered how helpless she felt, how frustrated she was. No one has asked for her opinion or whether she would agree to it. It’s as if their words were laws and she has no other choice but to follow.

Don’t make it too diffiult, Shin Hye. This is part of the job. Don’t take it personally.

That girl heaved a sigh, and as she saw the crowd waiting for her to come down, she smiled, knowing exactly that this was what she has dreamed of. The flashes of light, the glamour, the screams of fans, and the acknowledgement that she is here.

Shin Hye smiled as she went down, waved to almost everyone, her lips curved to a smile, which is betrayed by that fear and nervousness in her eyes.

She bowed her head at everyone, happy that they did notice their presence, and as she walked her way to the center, as she was trying to tame the beating of her heart, she felt a familiar warmth, a pair of eyes watching her every step. Shin Hye looked around, wanting to confirm that thing that she was feeling. She knew she might see him here, but there shouldn’t be a problem, right? She closed her eyes, trying to have a feel of where those stares were coming from, and when she opened her eyes and looked at her left, there she saw the guy whose eyes were glued at her, his eyes with fire, his hand balled into a fist. She didn’t know why but she felt scared the moment she saw those eyes.

Geun Suk was not removing his eyes from her. He heard as that girl named Saya went down of her car, and as she walked down the red carpet, he heard the whispers of the wall, saying how, daring, how sexy that kid was.

Geun Suk immediately ran out of where he was seated, and as he saw that girl, he didn’t know why, but his blood started to boil. He saw those smile, but he definitely read how uncomfortable that girl was, how scared she was, and how helpless she felt.

That guy saw when the girl averted her eyes, trying to hide from him.

As she finished her walk, Shin Hye immediately went inside, afraid to see that guy again.

There should not be a problem. There was no reason to hide. They don’t have anything to do with each other, right? She didn’t know why but she felt that there was a need for a long discussion later, an argument perhaps. Those eyes, those stares only spell one thing for her. He didn’t like what he saw, and she definitely has a lot of explaining to do.

As she busied herself, sprinting to her assigned seat… as she was trying to rationalize things, defending herself on no one in particular, she felt a hand holding tightly on her arm, and in an instant,she was dragged at the backstage, curtains hiding them from any intruder.

Shin Hye would want to scream, but the moment she felt those hands, she already had an idea what this thing would be all about. She tried to free her hand from his, but his grip on her was quite strong. The moment he found that secluded, hidden area, he threw her in that space, she almost flew from the force. She saw that guy walking back and forth, his hands balled into a fist, he’s biting his lips, as if trying very hard not to get out of control.

The moment she saw him pace back, she tried to run away, not wanting to hear any from him. But as she was about to take a step away, he felt his hand on her, and though she tried to fight, he threw her once again, this time, her back laid flat on the wall. Geun Suk was holding her hands, pinning her against the wall.

Her chest was heaving up and down, her eyes meeting his, showing him that there was nothing he can do to scare her.

And as she met those angry eyes, Shin Hye would want to slap him on the face, when the guy gave her an evil grin. Geun Suk smirked, his eyes wandering from her face, down to her neck, and to that neckline of her not-so revealing dress. Her tears almost rolled down her cheeks, as she felt violated of those eyes. She tried to cover herself with her hand but Geun Suk held them tightly on her side.

Her eyes already welling, but that guy would not let go of her. She was biting her lips, trying to hide her sobs, and gathering all the strength that she could find, she lifted her head and met those gaze.

She saw him shook his head, and with that smirk on his face, he whispered to her ears, their distance too near, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I don’t think i have any explaining to do.”, she said, pretending too hard to appear brave in front of him.

“Tch! I didn’t know you’re getting good at lying”

“I was. I am. You just didn’t notice”, she said as she tried to push him away, pulling her hands from him.

“Park Shin Hye!”, he said, tightening his grip on her.

Shin Hye closed her eyes as she heard his voice, fear was now creeping down her spine. “Oppa, let me go. My manager is already looking for me”

“Who gave you this dress?”

“Oppa, please…. Don’t make a scene here”

Geun Suk looked at her, his anger trapped in his eyes.

“Don’t cry. You won’t look good on camera later”, he said, his voice too controlled. He was angry, but he saw confusion, fear in hers.

Shin Hye swallowed, closed her eyes, trying her best to control those tears from rolling down her cheeks.

Geun Suk closed his eyes as well, trying his best to calm his nerves. He held her hands tightly, and after he did a sanity check, without looking at her, he said in a voice too soft, “Tell your manager,I’ll send you home later.”

She was about to say a word more, when, as he looked back at her, the fire in his eyes started to flare. Her tongue being eaten by a cat, she was not able to utter a single word. He’s not asking for permission. He’s not asking for her opinion. His words were not making a request. He’s giving her an instruction and she hated herself so much for not being able to reason out, to fight back, or to even say no.

She was just standing there, her head hanging low.

After a minute or two, Geun Suk’s grip on her hand loosened, but he did not let go of her. He was about to usher her outside, when Shin Hye stopped from their track, her eyes fixed on their hand.

“Park Shin Hye”, he said in gritted teeth.

“I will wait for you later. Do not make a scene and usher me inside. Leave this room five minutes after I take my leave. You don’t want them to associate us any further, and make some speculations,right?”

Geun Suk was about to say something. It was then his turn to be dumbfounded. He was about to say something when that girl smiled, shook her head then proceeded outside.

And just like what she said, like a spell casted on him, he went out exactly five minutes after she left.

As he made his way inside the hall, he met Keunsama, whose eyes were squinted, probably having an idea where he came from.

As the elder walked towards him, he looked at him straight in the eyes, and before Keunsama could say something, he whispered in a tone dead serious, “Ask them to bring-in the other car. Have it wait two blocks from here. Talk to Shin Hye’s manager. Tell him I will be sending that kid home”

Keunsama would want to protest, knowing the danger of his plan. “Jang Geun Suk”, he tried to appear tough, trying to make him follow him this time.

But that guy just looked at him and in gritted teeth said, “Do what I said, or I will leave this venue, dragging that girl with me. You choose”

Keunsama shook his head, laughing in disbelief.

“You know clearly that I will do that. Now, you make a choice”, Geun Suk said without batting his eyes.

Keunsama closed his eyes. This kid might only be 22, but he has that aura making the people around him shake in terror the moment he used those words.. the moment he channeled that guy behind the playful pretense and shallow smile. They’ve been having a hard time taming this kid, especially after the known incident months back, when they forced him to do something he didn’t want to.

Geun Suk stood there, waiting for an answer. “I’ll look for Jun”, he said, leaving him behind.

Geun Suk nodded his head, appreciating how Keunsama was trying to understand him.

During the entire ceremony, Geun Suk would twist and turn on his seat, his eyes wandering around, making sure that the girl is safe, and that she’s enjoying this night, amidst those emotions that he saw in her eyes earlier on. His eyes scanning her surrounding, not wanting to hear any word against that girl.

Everytime Shin Hye would stand from her seat, Geun Suk would ask Keunsama or one of his managers to follow her, afraid that she would meet some danger on her way. On one of those times, as he saw her standing up, without Keunsama or any of his staff nearby, Geun Suk stood up himself and followed Shin Hye near the ladies room.

As he followed her, his eyes like a hawk, looking at all the guys who walked almost near that girl. Five, ten minutes after, Shin Hye went out, with a pout on her lips, she was floating in mid-air, her mind on something else. As she made her way back to the hall, Geun Suk saw at his peripheral a guy walking near her.

He was about to fasten his pace, that guy closer to her than he was, when before he could run, he saw a girl came near her and when he looked at her, he saw the girl winked at him, holding Shin Hye by the hand.

Geun Suk smiled upon recognizing that face.

“Unnie, wae-yo?”, Shin Hye asked at Hye Sul, the moment she saw her face.

“Yah, Park Shin Hye, am I not allowed to talk to my dongsaeng?”, Hye Sul said, playing with her.

“Mianhae, Unnie. I didn’t mean it like that. I was just surprised when I saw you coming near me”, Shin Hye said, apologizing to Hye Sul.

Hye Sul laughed, shaking her head, “the same old gullible, Shin Hye.”

“Yah, Unnie!”, Shin Hye said with a pout.

“You’re really cute. Jinja! No wonder that guy has been watching you ever since you set foot at the red carpet”

“Eh, nu gu, Unnie?”, Shin Hye asked, not sure what Hye Sul was talking about.

Hye Sul smiled, then winked at that guy who’s now two steps away from them. “He didn’t change a bit. He’s always watching you. I bet if he could only do, he will hide you inside his pocket”

Shin Hye followed her gaze and when he saw that guy coming near them, she smiled and then said, “Geun Suk Oppa? Aniyo… he just loves making fun of me”

Geun Suk heard her words and upon hearing those words again, his face darken; he was about to drag that girl again when he was stunned once again when he heard her next words. “Unnie, you and Geun SUk Oppa look good together”

“Park Shin Hye/Shin Hye-ah”, both Geun Suk and Hye Sul said at almost the same time.

Shin Hye startled, smiled but pushed still the words that she just said, “Jinja, Unnie, you look good together. Maybe, two, three years from now, you can think about what I have just said”

Geun Suk glared at her, and in a whisper apologized to Hye Sul, then escorted that girl to her seat.

Shin Hye bowed her head to Hye Sul and before she forgot, she ran back to her and hugged her, “Chukahae, Unnie. You deserved it. “, and when she’s sure that Geun Suk could not here her, she whispered to her ears, “Mianhae, Unnie. I guessed what I said is rude. Can you find Oppa a girl so she won’t be watching over me this strictly?”

Hye Sul smiled, hugged her back and whispered to her as well, ”He already found his girl, Shin Hye-ya. And I don’t think he would consider girls other than her”

“Hm?”

“I know you know. You both know. You just keep on running away from each other. But no matter how far you run, bear this in mind. You will both find yourself facing each other at the end. So, it’s your choice. Run, or stay?”

“I’m a fast runner, Unnie. I don’t think he can cope up with me”

“Do I need to tell you that the guy is stubborn?”

“No need to remind of that, Unnie. Maybe, later on, he’ll get tired. Then, we’ll both surrender and let go.”

“Tch! Surrender, but no one is letting go”

“We already did”, she said a matter-of-factly.

“for how many times, Shin Hye?”

“Hm?”

“How many times have you both tried to let go?” Hye Sul smiled, then added, “And no matter how hard you try, you still end up, trapped with that guy. You’re running in circle, kid. I hope you know that”

“Might be… but no matter how many times we come back to the same exact point, we always end up on the same script… he asking me to stay, me hoping for him to stay, but in the end, we both need to let go”

Hye Sul shook her head and hugged that girl tightly. “I miss you, Shin Hye-ya”

“Nado, Unnie”

“Now go, before I drop dead here, after all those dagger looks that your guy has been throwing at me”

“Unnie!”, Shin Hye said, stomping her foot.

“Take your time, Shin Hye. I know it’s hard. But he loves you, jinja. He needs you more that you think he does”

Shin Hye nodded her head and walked near Geun Suk.

Geun Suk held her hand, but she moved it away.

“People can see, Oppa”

“Can I not hold the hand of my dongsaeng?”

“Tch! Oppa, what are you doing here? Are they not looking for you?”

“How many times do you need to go to the ladies’, Shin Hye? Keunsama and MJ are both tired following after you?”

“Who told them to follow me, Oppa?”

“I did”, he said, smiling.

“And why would you do that?”

“In case you forgot, little missy, your gown tonight is not that suitable for girls walking alone at dark alley way, and in case you still don’t know, a lot of things happen at the alleyway?”

“Aisssh! Jinja, Oppa!”

“I’m just playing the role of a good Oppa. I am supposed to play that part, right?”, he asked, his words laced with sarcasm.

—–
As the program came to an end, Geun Suk hurriedly went outside, hoping to find that girl and have a word with her. He was sprinting towards his car, when as he stepped outside, he met a group of eels, who prepared a short fanmeeting with him.

Though he wanted to excuse himself, he stayed for a while and spent some time with those who waited for him at this hour. His eyes would at times fly to a distance, looking for that girl.

He hasn’t spoken with Keunsama yet. He’s not sure whether Shin Hye indeed waited for him, but she better be.

As the champagne was opened and the candle from that congratulatory cake was blown, and as he finished his speech, Keunsama walked beside him and whispered, “Shin Hye is already sleeping inside the car. Do you want us to just send her over and you’ll just talk to her tomorrow?”

Geun Suk chuckled, looked at him then said, “You know exactly that would never happen. You know me better than that”.

Keunsama shook his head, opened the car door, bowed at him, surrendering to his stubbornness.

When the car turned left at that corner two blocks away from the venue, Geun Suk went down, his coat on his arm. He saw one guy standing outside of the car, his hand on his waist, the other on his head.

Remembering the guy from before, Geun Suk bowed his head and said, “Hyung, mianhae. I’m late”

Jun looked at him, shaking his head. “I don’t know you that much. I hate to say it, but I don’t like you. The girl inside might not say any word to me, but I probably have an idea who you are. I’ve been with that girl for five years, and I can definitely tell you that I know in which day from that five years you are with her, and I don’t think I can remember anything good from any of it”

Geun Suk looked at him, and straightforward as he is, he looked at that girl inside the car, then said, “I don’t know you as well, Hyung. But I’m thankful that Shin Hye has you”.

Jun looked at that guy, surprised of the words that he said. Geun Suk looked at him, then smiled. “I won’t deny that I might probably be that guy who you remembered on those days. I bet those days were not so good for you to remember them clearly. Mianhae, if I did make her cry. I know it may sound strange, but I’m hoping that you could trust me and that you could entrust her to me”.

Dumbfounded, Jun just stood there, not sure what to say to that guy.

Geun Suk looked at that girl again, then continued, “It may not be that time yet. But I won’t be going anywhere, and I won’t allow her to go neither. I’ll plead her to stay and I will stay with her. Might not be how I want us to be yet… but as long as she’s with me, I’m fine with it”. He looked at Jun, “call me selfish Hyung, but I cannot let her go.” Geun Suk smiled, offered his hand, bowed at Jun then said, “Jang Geun Suk. 22, and I’m holding myself responsible of that kid”.

Jun shook his head, looked at him, then said in his soft voice, “I don’t entrust that girl that easy to anyone. I don’t like you, but somehow I can see why my Shin Hye would agree to wait for you here, amidst the pain and the anger that she has hidden inside her heart. You might have hurt her, but I hope someday, you could show me that you’re worth it. You’re worth this pain, and that you won’t hurt her again. Shin Hye needs to be home….”

“Before 12 mn. She will be there before the clock strikes 12. I will call you the moment I drop her off. Kamsamnida, Hyung. I am taking full responsibility of that girl.”, Geun Suk finished his sentence, smiling at him.

—–

As he went inside, he saw that girl sleeping soundly at the passenger’s seat. Tissue paper on her hand, with stains of her make up and lipstick. Geun Suk smiled as he saw her face, too innocent, so pure. And as he remembered her dress, he shook his head, smiling as she saw her wearing a loose off shoulder top, covering her gown.

Geun Suk leaned near her, tucking her loose hair to the back of her ears. Shin Hye twisted a little, and slowly opened her eyes.

“Oppa…”

“Did I wake you up?”, he asked, smiling.

“Ani.. What time did you arrive? Was I sleeping too long?”

“Ani…”, he answered looking at her face. “Did I scare you?”

Shin Hye looked at her, closed her eyes, then said, “Why were you mad?”

“I was not”, he tried to deny.

“Oppa…”, Shin Hye said, looking at him. “Is it about the dress?”

“Ani… hm.. partly, yes. But more than that, I hate seeing you helpless, and me standing there, doing nothing to help you”

“Oppa”, she said on the verge of crying.”I’m not… How did you… ani….”

Geun Suk leaned at her and wiped her tears. “Stop pretending that everything is ok.”

“It was just the dress!”, she said, her voice a bit loud, confused on why she’s getting mad of him reading her. She bit her lips, trying to muffle her sobs.

Geun Suk pulled her to him and hugged her tightly. “Shhhhh. Mianhae… mianhae…”

“Oppa..” she said, irritated.

“Let go. Shhhh….”

And then, as he was hugging her, trying to comfort her, Shin Hye’s sobs became louder and louder. “No one even asked me, Oppa. No one even care whether I would want to do what they want me to do. I know it was just a dress. I keep on telling myself that it was just a dress. But somehow, deep down inside, I know, it’s more than that. I cannot do anything, Oppa. No one even asked me. No one asked me…”

“Shhhhh. I’m here now. Don’t cry. Oppa is here”

Shin Hye pulled away, looked at him and smiled. “This is how it felt, right?”

Geun Suk looked at her, acted confused, though he knew clearly what it is that she’s asking.

“Oppa… was it like this?”

Geun Suk closed his eyes and smiled. Then after a second or two, he nodded his head and answered, “hm..”

“I see. I understand”

“It’s like that, and a million times more. “

“Hm?”, she asked, looking at him.

“Mianhae…”

“Hm..”, she said, nodding her head.

“Oppa..”

“Hm?”

“I like the sound of it…”

“Hm?”

“Oppa.. Geun Suk Oppa. Can we be like this? Can we stay like this?”

Geun Suk just looked at her, without answering.

Shin Hye looked back at him, then said, “I want us to stay this close. I don’t want to run away anymore, Oppa. Can you promise me we can stay just like this?”

“Shin Hye, ask me anything else”

“Oppa…”

“Not this one. I don’t think…”

“Let’s stay like this. I don’t want to run away anymore. I love the warmth, the comfort, the familiarity.. the security that I feel when I’m with you.”

“Shin Hye…”

“But I don’t want to fall…”

Geun Suk looked at her, with tears threatening to fall from his eyes.

Shin Hye looked at him, wiping his tears. “I don’t want to hate you, Oppa. I understand. But I don’t think I can handle another round of that pain….Oppa, I want to stay.. here.. right here. Can we just stay like this?”, she asked, tears running down her cheeks as well.

Geun Suk closed his eyes, not wanting to see her in tears. Though every inch of his body is objecting on it, he held her hand and nodded his head. “Arasseo.. arasseo.. we’ll stay like this.. I can’t promise for how long.. but we’ll stay like this.. for as long as we can.. for as long as I can….”

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Chapter 32: Counterplan

The moment he met those eyes, Geun Suk’s eyes would not leave those orbs. He wanted to run to her and not let her go. When he saw her bowed her head, Geun Suk’s heart had a race.

She’s not thinking of running away, right? She’s not thinking of leaving me here, is she?

As he made his way towards her, prepared to run after her the moment that stubborn self channeled in her again, he was taken aback when she lifted her head, her face bright, looking back at him.

Something’s odd. Something’s not right.

He saw her smiled and he heard her call unto him.

Geun Suk Oppa.

Geun Suk tilted his head, wanting to read her. He expected her to look away, to hide just like what she did on those times she wanted to escape from him. He was looking intently at her, waiting for her to look away, when as he tried to lock gaze with those eyes, the girl simply looked back at him without batting those orbs.

Chukahae

That guy squinted his eyes, trying to find that girl beneath that pretense.

You cannot lose me Shin Hye. You know, you cannot.

He was riding along, playing along, waiting for that girl to finally get lost in this maze that she’s trying to make.

You cannot hide from me. I can find you. I told you, right? I know you. I simply know you.

He was asking some random questions, trying to lose her control in this game. The girl tried to skirt her way, trying very hard to hide herself.

“Gwaenchana?”, he asked, not interested to hear her lie.

“Good. You?”, she asked back, smiling at him.

You’re doing good, doing good in this act.

“Never better”, he answered without removing his eyes from hers.

The moment he said those words, he saw that girl flinched a little, probably not expecting those words from him.

“Good”, she nodded her head, as if convincing herself of that lie.

He saw her stopped at one corner, pretending to be interested on those bags and stuffs, probably intentionally making him bored of this conversation.

Geun Suk shook his head, looking at that girl, admiring her effort to brush him off of this act.

We need to talk. I need to talk to that girl.

That guy looked around, instantly drawing a plan on how to drag that girl away from this make-believe world. His eyes lit the moment he saw that room.

Mianhae. I just want to talk to you.

Call him cruel, but the moment he saw that stubborn self, he knew he won’t hear any truth from this girl in front of him. As he saw that painting, that wall with stars and moon, he grabbed her hand and dragged her to that corner. He felt her wiggled her arm, trying to break free from him, but he simply pretended he did not feel anything, just like how she’s pretending to be whole.

Before that girl finally removed her hand, he pointed those stars and that moon painted on the wall. And as he expected, no need to drag her, the girl, that kid automatically smiled, and floated towards those stars.

Still a puzzle for him, Geun Suk did not know why but that kid is too obsessed of stars and moon.

As she made her way near that painting, Geun Suk followed closely. Lost in the trail of stars, Shin Hye ran her fingers on the wall, having a feel of its warmth.

He saw her followed the trails of stars, just like how Dorothy followed that yellow brick road. No matter how much she tried to hide herself, she cannot do a thing the moment something too close to her heart is presented before her eyes. For the first time, since that night prior to that D day, he saw her smiled genuinely. He missed that girl. He missed that girl badly.

Mianhae. Don’t hate me on this.

As that girl followed those stars, she unconsciously entered that room, unaware of the trap that the cruel guy has planned.

Geun Suk slowly followed behind her, making sure that no other soul would dare interfere.

Probably sensing the trap, he saw his prey slowly took a step forward then stopped. Shin Hye slowly turned around, facing him.

He knew when sanity came back , when senses pulled her back to this world.

He saw her looked around, probably planning an escape. He followed her gaze, not wanting to lose her this time.

And when it finally dawned to her that escape is not an option, he saw her tilted her head, meeting his gaze. She looked back at him, a counter attack he knew she has planned.

Geun Suk did not move his eyes from her. His gaze boring hole on that girl. His eyes have fire. His angry, mad, getting crazy of her act.

Stubborn. Stubborn indeed.

“Tch! Are you having fun?”,he heard her asked, sarcastically.

“Are you?”, he asked, his eyes not leaving hers.

“What do you want?”, she asked, trying to break free from him.

He saw her trying to escape, ducking down, moving away from him, but before she bent down, he placed his arm against the wall, trapping that kid between his body and the unwavering wall. He saw her swallowed, probably slowly accepting her defeat.

“What do you think you’re doing?”, he asked, his face an inch from hers. He’s trying really hard to catch her eyes, afraid to leave that face. He’s afraid, scared of her breaking free from him… afraid of himself, realizing their proximity, realizing how he badly misses her.

“Don’t think you can scare me, Geun Suk”, he heard her said, her eyes locking with his, challenging his anger.

“Don’t play with me, Shin Hye”, he hissed, his face blank, trying his very best to calm his nerves.

“Look who’s talking”, she answered in gritted teeth. He felt her trying to push him away, her hands on his chest, but he held his ground, did not move an inch.

“Don’t give me that act that everything is ok…”, he said, his eyes looking for hers.

Two minutes… One minute… please let go. Tell me you’re hurting as well. Tell me, you’re not letting me go.

Geun Suk looked at her. He saw tears started to well in her eyes. He can see that girl… that girl she’s trying really hard to hide.

“I allowed you to play your part… can we stop pretending that everything is ok”, he said, his eyes not moving from hers.

“What do you want me to do? Break down? Cry my eyes out? Geun Suk, don’t. Let’s stop it here”, she said, pleading him.

“Mianhae…” he whispered silently. He saw her pain. He can feel she’s trying really hard to get a hold of herself.

Call me cruel, but I really want to know that you’re not letting me go… that you’re hurting as well. Call me selfish, but I cannot let you go.

He took one more step closer, removing any space between them. He needs to feel her presence. He needs to know that she’s real.. that she’s here. As he felt that familiar warmth, he did not know why, but he placed his forehead on top of hers. He closed his eyes, trying to savour this peace… all the longing, all the pain, all his heartaches vanished. He can feel his heart calming down, his head finally at peace.

And out of nowhere, he heard his lips uttered those words that his heart has been pleading him to say, “Saranghae”

He did not dare open his eyes. The girl did not budge, did not move an inch. Her breathing slowed down, probably trying to calm her heart.

“Saranghae”, he repeated those words, as if by saying so, he could at least remove some burden from his heavy heart.

Geun Suk closed his eyes tightly, not wanting to wake up from this dream.

That girl is here, and she is real. She is here and I am with her.

After saying those words, after finally knowing that she heard what he longed to tell her, he felt warm liquid having a race on his cheeks.

Relieved that girl is here..
Thankful that the girl is here…
Worried that she would leave
Afraid that she would leave him

Geun Suk did not know why, but her presence gave him mixed emotions and just like those nights when he chose to leave her, he felt fear creeping down his spine.

He cannot lose her. He cannot lose her this time.

“Saranghae”, he uttered those words again, and before that girl had her protest, he didn’t know why but unable to restrain his self, he felt his lips touching her closed eyes. It’s as if asking her to believe, to trust in him again. It’s as if pleading her to stay.. to not fight back.

I care for you…
I am for you…
I will never forget you…

A simple gesture to let her know that he cares… above the absolute definition of that word.
A declaration of love… of his heart that he is for her and for her alone.
A silent, painful act of letting her go…

He knew she’s in pain.
He’s certain she’s the one for her.
But he doesn’t have the heart to ask her to stay, and break her heart again.

He might be selfish, cruel, but he’d rather have this pain alone, than hold her here, trapped inside the hand of that coward boy.

Mianhae… I am not worthy of you, yet….
I’m letting you go, setting you free.
I will not ask you to stay.
Fly.. Run away.. stay far away…
On second thought, can you not make that distance too far?
I will find you.
Somewhere down that road, I know I can find you.
Make it difficult for me, but please, when that day comes, please, stay..

“Oppa…”, Shin Hye said, trying to keep her act. “Don’t make this too difficult”

Upon hearing that voice, her words, he shook his head, trying to hush that girl. And as he opened her eyes, he saw tears welling in those orbs.

He knew, she knew what he meant. She reads his plan, just like how he’s reading her…

Confused whether to ask him to stay….
To run until he finds her…
Or to run far, then wait for him at that road.

“Oppa…”

Geun Suk smiled upon reading her silent scream. He held her gaze, not wanting to let her go yet. And as his eyes were fixed on her face, trying to memorize every inch of it, his eyes met those lips.
As if being asked for, he slowly moved his hand to her face, the other on her side, placed against the wall, then slowly, he lowered his face, aiming for her lips.

Geun Suk closed his eyes, let his passion leads its way. He felt the girl trembled beneath his touch. He felt her closed her eyes, and as he heard the drumrolls of their heart, as he felt her heavy breathing touching his nearing lips, the door suddenly opened, revealing Manager Jun, Manager Kim and the company President.

He felt her turned around, probably embarrassed of the scene that the intruders have seen. Though their backs are facing each other, he held her hand, and hid her behind his back, ready, prepared to let go of everything, except for that hand.

He looked at the intruders, his eyes with fire. He saw Manager Kim shook his head, probably knowing what is running in his head. He saw Manage Jun trying to take a peek of that girl, worried that the little girl is crying her eyes out again. Then before his eyes landed on that guy, that guy who ruined his life, he heard him said those words which he tried so hard to forget…

“Jang Geun Suk, who is that girl? Do you have a girlfriend? I told you that’s the last thing that you would need at this moment”,

Geun Suk closed his eyes, gathering all his patience, trying really hard to control his fist. His hand balled into a fist, his knuckles white of the control his putting on them. His lips closed, his teeth gritted, and before he could say one word, he felt her hand on his. He looked back at her, and what he saw next make and break his heart.

He saw her smiled, shook her head, then whispered, “let’s make this more difficult , Oppa”.

He heard her introduced herself, starting another chapter of her act. He was still contemplating whether to play along, weighing his options, gauging which way to take, when he heard silence, everyone waiting for his decision.

Geun Suk smiled, shook his head, placed his arm around her shoulder, then said, “ This is that girl… that dongsaeng that I never had.”

The guy closed his eyes, remembering fully where those words came from, knowing exactly what she meant by those.

She will stay…
She will not run away..
She will stay, but not the way he wants her to be…
She will stay.. he will stay…
But they will never be the way they want them to be…

Geun Suk smiled, knowing her plan.
He shook his head, an evil grin on his face.

Call me cruel, but I’d rather have you here with me.
We’ll stay…
We’ll watch each other suffer.
We’ll see how this act would change our script.
We’ll stay, with the greater challenge of restraining ourselves to be together.
We’ll stay.. without being the way we want us to be… yet

Geun Suk smirked, his counter attack instantly laid down.

Not yet.. at least not at this point yet…
But you know.. we both know what is waiting for us down that road.

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Chapter 31: Crossroads and Choices

2008. Two years after the drastic downfall of her star, at the age of 19, Shin Hye found it too difficult to go back to the mainstream. It’s either roles are too young for her age, or way too old. At times, she would look at the night sky, wondering what has happened.

In 2003, she starred in Stairway to Heaven which launched her career. Offers came one after the other, making her name known in this industry. In 2006, she led Tree of Heaven opposite Lee Wan. They predicted.. they hoped that the said project would bridge her way from child star to a mature actress. No one knew what happened. The reviews were great. She was considered an actress to watch for…. To watch for, but no one mentioned that she has to wait big time for the audience to watch her. It’s simply not that time, yet… yeah, the timing was not just right.

Shin Hye looked at the water in the Han, with earphone on, a bittersweet smile on her face, as she repeated those words.

The timing was not just right.
As simple as that.

She closed her eyes and heaved a sigh. She still remembered that night, when she sat here that day. Shin Hye shook her head, as memories came drizzling one after the other.

It isn’t just right… maybe not yet.. or maybe, it’s really not meant to be.

She still remembered how she cried her heart out.. she cried too hard that night, and the nights after that, until one day, as she watched herself with tears having a race on her cheeks, her chest heaving in disappointment, hurt, pained for whatever reason, she saw herself smiled at her and, then just like that, she saw her lips curved into a smile, as that self shook her head, finally realizations getting a better hold of herself.

Everyone knows she tried her best to be rational.. logical about this. She doesn’t want to fall. If only she could make a choice, she’d rather not. Ha. But her heart was quite stubborn. It took her all her willpower to finally admit that she indeed liked the guy. Ani… she did not simply like him. She loves him, loves him too much, that it feels like the world was slowly breaking before her, swallowing her wholly when she heard him say he is sorry.

She cried.. she cried really hard. She did not know how she managed to say those words, how she simply let him go, how she was able to hold everything inside, until her knees betrayed her, until her eyes could not take it anymore. She knew, he saw her. And she was thankful that Geun Suk allowed her to act her part.

Ha! Shin Hye remembered clearly how she dragged herself away from the Han that night. She was walking without a soul, her chest empty without a heart.

The feeling was too surreal. It’s too animated. It seems that you are being swallowed by a black hole. You keep on falling, sinking, without really touching the ground. How she hoped she would hit solid ground and dropped with a loud thud.. maybe by then, she would wake up from this make believe story.. from that nightmare.

Shin Hye smiled as she remembered how she hoped that Geun Suk would call her that night, probably telling her that he’s just practicing a script.. or maybe, Geun Suk would appear in front of their house, and tell her that April’s Fools Day was moved to that day.

Ha! Pathetic, indeed.

She was crying, laughing, in random. She might have became twisted, crazy…but the pain was just too excruciating that she remembered, she could not breathe.

She could still recall how she blamed that guy in her dreams, how she would wake up in the middle of the night, hearing his voice, pleading for her to stay. She saw herself standing at that alley, the ends were too dark, she could not see a thing. She heard his voice, asking her to follow. At first she just stood there still, not moving. She saw him coming out of the dark, proving that he was real. She saw him offered his hand and when she was about to grab it, he slowly walked away with his hands still there, offered for her to grab. She tried to reach out, but his steps were quite bigger, she could not cope up. She walked quite slowly at first, her eyes fixed on him, afraid to lose him in the dark. At times she would look back, afraid to fully surrender, her eyes would at times fly to the exit door, tempted to get out of that maze. But that guy was quite cruel. When she was about to flee away, he would grab her hand, pulling her to walk with him. When she finally got the courage to hold his hand, she felt him slowly letting go, his hand slowly sliding away. His foot steps became bigger, his pace became faster. Shin Hye saw confusion in her eyes, she tried to grab him, but he disappeared too fast, he was swallowed by darkness. Scared, she tried to look around, hoping to find any trace of that guy.

He would come back, right? He would come back for me.

She saw herself standing there still, waiting for someone to save her. Waiting for him to save her. She was standing there, her head looking left and right, her heart beating too fast. Then, when hope for someone to come is slowly being consumed by her fear, she would hear his voice, calling for her, asking for her to follow that voice.
She tried. She did try to follow amidst the uncertainty, amidst the darkness.

And then, as she was walking blindly, she hit one corner, and there two roads showed themselves. Though he seems too far, she heard his voice , loud and clear, pulling her to that road.

She was at that crossroads, her heart and her head are having a battle. Her pride and her dream are in a war, cutting her in two. Right there and then, she would wake up. Beads of sweat running in her forehead, her palm cold, her throat dry. Tears would start running down her cheeks, her head start to ache, her other self starting to put the blame on him.. on her again.

Just like before, those previous nights, she would cry her heart out, angered by that guy, frustrated on herself.

Nights seem to have that routine, until her tears dried up, until even in her dreams, she would already know in which part she would wake up. The dream keep on repeating itself, the familiarity made her smarter night after night, that before the guy would offer his hand, before that guy showed himself from the darkness, she would bend her knees, ready to run to the exit door.

Shin Hye shook her head as she remembered that dream.

She tried really hard to run away from him. But how? No matter how much she tried to change the script, no matter how hard she run away, the exit door keeps on moving too far behind, until the door itself was swallowed by darkness. Shin Hye did not have an idea how it happened, but no matter how far back she run, the guy would always appear in front of her, grabbing her hand. And no matter how much she reminded herself not to listen, not to follow, she would always end up walking with him, her hand clasped with his.

That night, when realizations finally hit her, when she was at that point waiting for someone.. for that guy to save her… she looked back at the exit door, confirming with her own eyes that there is really no turning back. And when she accepted that fate, she looked at the crossroads again, contemplated which way to go. She heard his voice, calling for her. Shin Hye remembered how she tried to stay there, taking a peek on what’s waiting at the end, waiting for him to appear. When as she was about to take a step towards that voice, she was surprised when she saw herself smiling at her, her face bright. Then, she did not know how or why it happened, she saw her body turning to the other direction, her feet having a race , running to the opposite road.

I stayed. I waited, but you did not come back.
I’m not blaming you.
I’m not holding you responsible.
I am not expecting anything.
But, can you really find me?
Will you choose to find me?

Days passed by. Days turned into weeks. Then weeks into months.

She remembered she saw him with Geun Young. Even before she saw his face, she knew he was there. It’s as if there is that imaginary circle, a radar that beeps whenever they are within each other’s space. Would anyone believe her if she would say that she did not feel a tinge of jealousy when she saw them together? Nah, maybe no one would dare to believe.

Shin smiled upon remembering that time. She might have been jealous, maybe.. but the feeling was swallowed by her fear to face him. She did not know why, but it seems that she’s afraid to see him.
She’s been convincing herself for who knows how long that she is doing good. She is indeed doing good. She’s not sure, but maybe, she was afraid to see him, afraid to find out that she still hasn’t gotten over him.

She is doing good, doing good until she saw him. Right there and then, she saw herself breaking in front of her eyes. Her knees weakened, her heart starting to play that familiar beat. She was doing good, pretending to be good, until she saw that guy, and the cracks that she tried too hard to hide started to show themselves, her wounds that are already healing suddenly bled.. the pain started to kill her slowly.

Pretend to be whole, while deep down inside, you’re being torn into pieces.

She remembered the battle within herself flared up again. She knew she was slowly being defeated, until she saw that smile, her smile.

The game is on. Play it cool. Let’s play pretend, shall we?

Ha. She might have matured a little. She might have learned how to skirt her way out of that incident. The pain, the tears, those sleepless night finally had a better use.

Do not show you are weak.
Do not show your tears.
You’re not fighting with anyone but yourself.
Hold yourself together.
Teach her to be tough.
Do not fall in his trap, again.
Better learn your lesson, Shin Hye.
Don’t ask whether he will catch you.
He may have his trap, again.
But it’s still your choice whether you will be trapped in there.
Don’t hold anyone responsible.
No one is responsible for yourself but yourself.
Don’t hate him.
The game is on.
Are you in?

She remembered she excused herself and started walking away. She knew he was watching her, his eyes fixed on her. She wanted to hate him.. she wanted to shout at him, and let him know how much pain he has inflicted on her, how much she has to endure after he made her believe in him…but how, the moment she saw his eyes, she knew he’s in pain as well.

Aniya, she’s not expecting anything….she knew he ‘s sorry. She honestly believed that he didn’t mean to hurt her. Maybe it’s not yet meant to happen… or better yet, they are really not meant to be…

The night after that day, the roster for 44th Baeksang nominees was announced. Shin Hye was surprised when she received a call from their company, asking her to fit some gowns. Surprised, Shin Hye did not know why she was summoned for gown fitting, but she followed anyway. This will be her first time attending the Baeksang and she knew how important that night is for every soul in this industry. Ha. She’s definitely going there. She’s no longer a child star. She’s now being invited to walk down the red carpet.

Shin Hye felt her hands trembled , icy sweat going down her forehead as she entered that shop. Is it really this nerve wracking everytime one would need to walk down that red carpet?

Shin Hye smiled as she saw Manager Jun waiting for her at the entrance. Her heart beating a thousand as she stepped inside; the feeling was quite familiar.. Shin Hye closed her eyes.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

The awards night is still two months after, and here she was, crazy-nervous of that what would be ‘s at the Baeksang.

“Oppa, am I really invited? How did they find out about me?”, Shin Hye asked, excitement evident in her voice.

How did they find about her? It’s as if her name… her presence was too ordinary to be ignored.

Manager Jun looked at her in disbelief. “Invited?”

Shin Hye’s bright eyes turned dim, preparing to hear that she has heard it wrongly.

“Am I not invited?”, she asked dryly.

Manager Jun smiled, hugged her tightly, then whispered, “Saya, you are nominated for Best New Coming Actress.”

“Mwo?”, Shin Hye’s eyes widened, tears started to form in her eyes. “Jinja, Oppa? Am i?”

Jun shook his head, seeing how oblivious the girl is with her talent. He handed her the list, as he made his way inside one of the rooms.
Shin Hye followed closely behind him, her eyes fixed on the list, when as she was scanning the list of nominees, her eyes suddenly landed on that name.

Jang Geun Suk… The Happy Life
Movie Category. Best New Coming Actor

Shin Hye looked at the list again, and smiled upon seeing that name.

You deserved it. You risked a lot for this.

As she said those words, something pinched her heart.

You risked a lot for this.
Your heart and mine on the line.

As she was smiling, shaking her head, a familiar voice echoed inside the room.

“Hyung, did you see the list? Shin Hye… Shin Hye is …”

As she heard her name, as she heard that voice, Shin Hye’s eyes flew to that corner. Both of their gazes locked with each other. Her eyes cold, blank…. against his.. warm, full of emotions.

She saw him motioned to run towards her. She was thinking to run away, when she found herself rooted on the ground, as she saw him striding towards her direction.

Shin Hye bowed her head, contemplated on what to do next. Three step, two steps away, she raised her head and smiled at him.

“Geun Suk, Oppa…” she uttered, smiling at him.

Geun Suk tilted his head, puzzled, trying to read her.

Shin Hye knew what he was doing, and she would not allow him to do so.

But unlike before, before when she would choose to run away, hiding her eyes to hide her heart, this time, it was different.

Shin Hye tilted her head as well, as if challenging him to read her. She mastered this craft. She’s in one with her other self. That guy won’t know the difference of pretense and real… of make believe and reality… of her and her pretending self.

Even before he took the final step, Shin Hye took one step forward, closing their gap.

Surprised of her bold action, Geun Suk stood there still, did not expect for her to stay.

“Chukahae!”, she said, when that guy did not say a word.

“a.. Chukahae”, he answered back, still trying to read her.

Shin Hye smirked, pushed herself further down inside, down there where that guy will not be able to see her.

“Are you going to fit some tux?”, she asked, looking at him, then started checking the ties on display.

She felt him following behind her, checking whatever it is that she’s looking at. “Are you going to fit some gowns?”, he asked back.

Shin Hye nodded her head, without lifting her gaze from the display.

They were walking in comfort, asking…answering some random questions, when as she started to feel uneasy of his randomness, it was already too late. She did not know how it happened, but Geun Suk managed to lose her control somewhere within those randomness. When consciousness came back to her, she found herself trapped inside that room with no one but Geun Suk.

As she saw him walking near her, the wall that she tried hard to build started to crumble. Her eyes began moving left and right, aware that it’s only a matter of seconds before Geun Suk will find that girl again.

She tried to smile, walked backwards, trying to break free from his trap.

Cruel.. cruel indeed.

Shin Hye closed her eyes, planning for another escape.

Think, Shin Hye. Think. Do not allow him to catch you.

She was still drawing her plan, when as she opened her eyes, she saw him one foot away from him, and one more step back, she felt solid wall against her back.

Great! Just great!

She said, mocking herself.

Shin Hye lifted her face, meeting his gaze. She was trying to pull together her act, but what she sees next caught her off guard.

Geun Suk was walking closely to her, his eyes with fire.

Is he mad? What is he mad at?

Shin Hye closed her eyes as she saw him took that final step. She was now officially trap between that unwavering wall, and this cruel guy.

Hold your ground. Do not show him you’re scared.

“Tch! Are you having fun?”, she asked, sarcastically.

“Are you?”, he asked, his eyes not leaving hers.

“What do you want?”, she asked, as she tried to break free from him.

But that guy was cruel. As she tried to escape from him, he placed his hand beside her face, officially trapping her in there.

“What do you think you’re doing?”, he asked, his face an inch from hers.

“Don’t think you can scare me, Geun Suk”, she said, her eyes locking with his.

“Don’t play with me, Shin Hye”, he said, his face black.

“Look who’s talking”, she answered in gritted teeth. She tried to push him away, but the guy did not move an inch.

“Don’t give me that act that everything is ok…”, he said, his eyes looking for hers.

Shin Hye felt her eyes started to feel warm.

Aniya.. don’t Shin Hye. Don’t.

“I allowed you to play your part… can we stop pretending that everything is ok”, he said, his eyes not moving from hers.

“What do you want me to do? Break down? Cry my eyes out? Geun Suk, don’t. Let’s stop it here”, she said, pleading him.

“Mianhae…” he whispered silently.

Shin Hye closed her eyes, not wanting to see nor hear anything from that guy. She was trying to shut him off from her world, when she felt him walked closer to her, his forehead rested on hers.

“Saranghae….”

Shin Hye stood there, not wanting to open her eyes.

“Saranghae…”, he whispered again.

As she was about to open her eyes, she felt a warm liquid trailing down her cheeks.

Shin Hye, don’t.

Ani.. she’s not crying. She has already cried a lifetime-worth of tears during those nights.

As she opened her eyes, she saw Geun Suk, with eyes closed, tears running down his cheeks.

“Saranghae”, he repeated, then a kiss landed on her closed eyes.

“Oppa…”, Shin Hye said, trying to keep her act. “Don’t make this too difficult”

She felt him shook his head, asking her not to say a word.

“Oppa…”

As he was about to come closer to her lips, the door opened, revealing, Manager Jun, Manager Kim and Geun Suk’s company President.

Shin Hye automatically turned around, hiding her face.

Geun Suk faced the intruders, his hand balled into a fist.

“Jang Geun Suk, who is that girl? Do you have a girlfriend? I told you that’s the last thing that you would need at this moment”, she heard that familiar voice, those familiar words.

Shin Hye smiled, remembering exactly that time when she first heard that voice, those words.

She was still reminiscing that day, when she felt Geun Suk tensed up, his breathing heavy as if trying to tame himself. Shin Hye looked back at him, and before he was able to say one word, she held his hand, smiled, and whispered, “let’s make this more difficult , Oppa”, and upon saying that, she turned around, faced those visitors. Shin Hye bowed her head, smiled then said, “Annyeong haseyo. Park Shin Hye-imnida. Animida. I am not Geun Suk Oppa’s girlfriend. I’m too young, too childish for his taste”

The President just looked at her squarely, waiting for Geun Suk to say a word.

Geun Suk smiled, shook his head, placed his arm around her shoulder, then said, “ She is that girl… that dongsaeng that I never had.”

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Chapter 30: [Un]written. Her Secret Love Story

On that night she waited for Geun Suk, that night she went at the Han waiting for a miracle to happen, she was seated like a ball at that bench, her secret love story on hand, wanting… waiting to hand it to him.

A little before 12, when her stubborn self has surrendered, though a part of her still believes that he would still come, maybe not that night, but on the days to come, when that self still was hanging on that faith that the guy would come, that he would not let go, would never let go of her, she tried to drag herself away from that side of the river, hopeful that all uncertainties will be cleared when the sun shines the following day.

When before she resigned to the refuge of her own room, she looked at the Han, closed her eyes and whispered a silent prayer.

It took her all her willpower to believe in this story, to finally succumb, surrender and admit without guilt that she indeed fell for him. He’s worth it, isn’t he?

She smiled a bittersweet smile, let that final tear for the night roll down her cheeks, and is if walking without a soul, she floated away from that site, forgetting her written secret story.

—–

Unaware of the things around her, consumed by all her worries, scared of what could be happening, Shin Hye did not notice all through that night, a guy was watching her from a not too far distance. He saw her as she alighted from that cab, as she made her way to that spot, as she drowned herself in tears, her hope that he could come keeping her afloat.

The guy saw her resigning eyes, her pain and muffled screams. At times, he tried to look away, not wanting to see her in pain. He tried to stay on that distance, afraid that if he tried to come nearer, he would only make her situation worse.

He stayed there at that end, guarding her vicinity, wanting her safe of anything else.

He could not be of any help at this point. She could have not known it, but at least, he was there. She may not be aware, but she’s never alone. He never left her. He would never do.

—–

One Sunday morning, as he passed by the Han, he stopped as he remembered that bench, that night when he saw that broken self. He smiled a bittersweet smile, sat at that very exact place where she was once seated. He closed his eyes, trying to have a feel of her heart. He stayed in that position, not moving, hoping to at least have a feel of her pain… the pain which if he would be allowed, he’d rather took it from her and have it hidden inside his chest.

….when I saw you that day, I heard songs started to play in my ears. I was puzzled… confused.. something within you is pulling me nearer. Unconsciously, my feet took little steps going nearer to your direction. I was just following my feet, not sure what I was doing.

I remembered I saw you being swallowed by the crowd. My heart started beating too fast when I thought I lost you, and then, something magical happened.

I bumped into something, into someone. I was prepared to fall and kiss the ground. When as I was preparing to make the fall not that painful, I felt a hand held me, saving me from that impending pain.

There, I felt my heart skipped a beat, the beatings becoming too fast, it deafened my ears. I saw you smile. And there, right before my eyes, I saw myself falling into that deep abyss. I got scared. Something in your eyes is sucking my soul, keeping me breathless. I was beginning to get nervous, lucky Shin Won Oppa came to my rescue. Suddenly, I was pulled back to reality and I saw you for the first time.

Confused of that brief five minute-encounter, the moment I saw you looking at me, I tried to look away. Something seems too planned… too planned that it doesn’t seem right.

The night after that, as I was waiting at that steps of the bar, as I woke up from that nap, the moment I raised my eyes, though it was a bit dim, I saw you striding, walking near me. I squinted my eyes, blinded by your light. You seem too bright, too bright that it hurts my eyes.

I don’t know what was happening. I could not figure out anything logical from it. After that day.. that night, everything happens as if it is part of a script. But unlike that day, that night, unlike that drumroll and that beating of my heart, everything seems to normalize… too normal that I would at times stop and be cautious of that comfort.

I might be too smart for that feeling. I know something is different, but I dare not do anything about it. I might be young, but I could somehow figure out what that thing is. And smart as I am, from that time my stubborn heart has made my brain an accomplice, though they both believe that there is indeed something… somehow, at that very point, I know it’s not meant to be.

It’s as if it’s a good story.. a too good story that seems impossible to happen. At one point, you try to ignore it, afraid to really look at it clearly. You try to deny that there is something different. You try to bring out all logic that you have… tried to scrutinize everything, hoping that by doing so, you would put your feet on the ground again, might stop it from floating in mid air.

I tried so hard to keep it inside, until one day, hopeful to let go of all the feelings, I hopelessly imagine the two of us together, hoping that maybe by doing so, when my stubborn self somehow experience that magic in that daydream of hers, she would finally get used to it and learn to let go. I hoped. I daydreamed. But I was not able to let go. I was left in that dream. My not so smart brain left me in that make-believe world, hoping that one day, you would come and save me.

Day passed by. Things become too scary. The beatings of my heart started to make a different beat. I was trying really hard to tame it, but you were too cruel. It’s as if you know the havoc that I am in, and instead of pulling me out of that mess, you casted a spell and trapped me there inside. I could not leave. You wouldn’t allow me to.

At nights, I would scold myself for giving in to that make-believe story. I could not do anything to pull myself out of it. You keep on coming near me, asking me to believe. Everytime you would do that, my other self would jump in joy, her heart keep on sinking in that trap. I could not do anything to pull her out. I was just standing there, watching her sink.. watching her fall. I’m scared.

The height is too deep. I could not see the bottom. What if I let go? What if I totally allow myself to fall? Will you be there to catch me when I fall? It was too deep, Geun Suk. I could not see what’s waiting for me at the end. It was too dark. I could not see you. But somehow, a little voice inside my head was asking me to give in… to let go. A little voice was telling me that you’ll be there. You won’t allow me to hit the ground. Just like that day.. that day when I first saw you.

But when I was about to give in, when I was about to take a step closer to you, when my foot is already in mid-air, ready to run towards you, you start to run at the opposite end. You’re too fast that before I could ever set my foot on the ground, I could no longer see nor feel your presence. When I have removed my hand from that branch, with my eyes closed, giving it all to fate, I would hear your voice, pleading me to hold on… not to let go.. yet.

You would always ask me to come near you, but the moment I got the courage to take my first step, you would run away, filling our distance with space. You would always ask me to trust… to believe in you, but the moment I decided to give in, you would disappear, leaving me with nothing. You always ask me to stay, but you always walk away.

I am not telling this to you to hold you responsible of my heart. I’m not blaming you for the heartaches that I had for the past years. I love you. I always do. I tried not to fall.. tried hard to ignore … tried to walk away, many times. But how? You’re too cruel and I’m so stupid. No matter how hard I try to warn my heart, it keeps on falling in your trap. Geun Suk, promise me, you’ll catch me this time. Promise me, you’ll never let me go. I’m not sure whether I could still trust my heart if you leave me like before. You’ll never do it, right?

Ha! This is too embarrassing. After you read this one, can you burn my story so that no one else would know how pathetic, how hopeless, how stupid this girl is?

Ah. Before I forget….when you asked me that day if I would agree to be your wife, my heart started to beat fast. You might just be kidding, but my future started to show itself in front of me. I did a sanity check. I almost flown to dreamland again, planning my future… my family… hopefully with the man that would love me unconditionally.. to that man who will be a great husband and a good father to my kids.

When that time comes, do you think you can make that promise again?

Maybe after tomorrow, after we make things official, do you think you can visit me in my dream and plan for the years to come?

Maybe after tomorrow, after we make things official, do you think you can visit me in my dream and plan for the years to come?

He has read it for more than ten times now, still, his tears would not stop from falling… pained, hurt, lost.

The guy heaved a sigh, closed that book and hid it inside his pocket.

He wiped his tears, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer.

As he stood up, as he made his way away from the Han, her words kept on ringing in his ears…

Promise me, you’ll catch me this time. Promise me, you’ll never let me go. I’m not sure whether I could still trust my heart if you leave me like before. You’ll never do it, right?

That guy smiled weakly and silently uttered, “mianhae

—-

“Geun Suk, they’ve been waiting for you for long. Why did you cut your hair like that? Why are you wearing those clothes? Aisssh! They will all be furious when they see you like this!”, Keunsama said as he saw that guy enter the company.

“Tch! Am I also not allowed to wear what I am comfortable with? They already took possession of my heart! Can they at least allow me this freedom?”, he hissed, anger evident in his eyes.

Keunsama dragged him away, afraid that someone would hear that guy.
“Listen, young man. I know what you’re going through. But you signed a contract”

“I only signed a contract, asking them to manage my career. But I did not ask them to ruin my life!”, he said in gritted teeth, his hand balled into a fist.

“Punk, don’t make this too difficult. Dance to their music. You don’t have a choice”

“tch! I do. I will make my own sound be heard. And two, three years from now, I won’t allow anyone to ask me to do something I don’t want to. I don’t have a choice, yet. I will play along. But the moment I got an opportunity… aniya.. I will create that opportunity and lay down all my choices. When that day comes, I am telling you, I would not dare cause her any pain. I would choose her over anything…over anyone”, he said, his last words almost not heard.

Keunsama smiled, tapped him on the back and said, “When that day comes, I know she would still be there. She will be there, waiting. She’ll stay, Geun Suk. I know she would.”

—-

And as if taunting him, the moment he stepped inside SBS, with a smile on his face, his hand on Geun Young, there he saw that girl he hasn’t seen in a while.

Shin Hye was laughing with JoA, Manager Jun in tow, when as they were about to pass one corner, she saw a glimpse of that familiar figure.
JoA looked at the guy and then like a star-struck fan, she giggled and dragged Shin Hye towards their direction.

“Shin Hye-ya, Shin Hye-ya, can you see them?”

“Unnie, wae-yo? Where are we going?”, she asked, her heart starting to do a drum roll.

“Jang Geun Suk and Moon Geun Young! Waaah! Are they really dating? I watched them in 2005. Jang Geun Suk said he likes Geun Young. They look good together. But I guess, given a chance, you will look better with him”

“Aisssh! Unnie, I guess they’re busy”, she said in a soft voice, afraid to see that guy. “We better pretend that we don’t see them. They might get embarrassed. Let them have their private life”, then she tried to escape from her grip.

She was about to run away, when she heard her Unnie call unto Geun Young, “Geun Young-ssi, Geun Young-ssi”

And then, as she tried to hide herself, she heard Manager Jun called her name a bit louder than necessary, “Shin Hye-ya, where is JoA?”

Geun Suk’s eyes automatically flew to her direction, his lips suddenly curved into a smile.

“Jun Oppa, here”, she heard JoA answered. “Geun Suk and Geun Young are here”, she said, giggling like a kid.

Geun Suk was waiting for her to turn around. He wanted to see her. He misses her badly. He was anticipating to see her face, not expecting anything….just to see her is enough, when it suddenly hits him. She won’t think that we are going out, right? She won’t misunderstand, right?

He saw Manager Jun looked at him, then at Shin Hye. He might have known something. Geun Suk bowed his head and smiled weakly. The guy smiled as well. He saw him held Shin Hye’s hand, ushering her outside, as if hiding her from him.

He was about to make a step, a run towards that girl, when he heard Geun Young called unto that girl.

“Park Shin Hye-ssi?”

Shin Hye closed her eyes, and after a second or two, she turned around, smiled and bowed to Geun Young. She walked near them and paid her respect to her seniors. “Annyeong haseyo! Park Shin Hye-imnida. Mianhamnida, sunbae. I didn’t notice you here”, she said trying really hard not to look at his direction.

Geun Young smiled. “You can call me Unnie. Sunbae is quite too formal”

Shin Hye just smiled. She was opening and closing her hands, she’s getting uncomfortable by a minute.

“Geun Suk, do you know Park Shin Hye?”, she heard her asked that guy.

Shin Hye heaved a sigh, preparing for that denial again, when as she was about to bow her head, she was taken aback with what he just said. “I know her. I know her ever since…”

“Jinja?”, Geun Young asked, looking at Geun Suk, then at Shin Hye.

She saw him smiled, his eyes never leaving her face.

Shin Hye smiled shyly, bowed her head and then introduced herself again, “Park Shin Hye-imnida”

“How are you?”, she heard him asked.

Confused, Shin Hye looked at him, her heart started to play that familiar beat.

When as she looked at him, she saw those familiar eyes, she felt the familiar warmth in his eyes.

Shin Hye smiled, and said, “Good. Doing good. You look good together, Unnie. Jinja”, she said, smiling at the elder.

She was trying to tame her heart, and as she looked back at him, she saw his eyes looking intently at her… a lot of questions playing in those orbs, too many things he wanted to say.

Shin Hye just smiled and nodded her head. I’m good. Doing good.

“Unnie, you better make a move. I bet you still have an appointment to attend to. Geun Suk Oppa, it’s nice seeing you again”, then she bowed her head and excused herself.

Geun Suk was just standing there, watching her retreating back. He’s used to this. Pretending to be whole, while slowly being tormented inside. I miss you… I miss you badly.

Shin Hye turned around, started to walk away. She tried not to look back, not to see nor feel his presence. She’s new to this, but she better learn how to do it. Pretend to be whole, while deep down inside, you’re being torn into pieces.

The game is on. Play it cool. Let’s play pretend, shall we?

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missrickless

A Napkin dreams..

SukHye In My Heart

I may not be good with words, but this is my love for GeunShin...

this is me

welcome to the inner ramblings of my mind!

booksandrumblings

let me read and rumble. :)

journey of my mind

the languages of my thoughts