Crossroads : Chapter 5 - Swan Lake

For the past two weeks, Joon and Hyomin had been making headlines everyday as the newest couple on We Got Married. Their names were topping all the search engines in the country. Their first episode aired last week gained high ratings. A lot of people must have been curious to see the continuation of their love story after Idol Army. To the new couple's surprise, most of the comments left on the show's homepage were positive.

"They look really good together!"
"Picture-perfect couple!"
"This is even better than their Idol Army date!"



As Jiyeon had predicted, the public understood that the whole concept of the show was make-believe. There were still a couple of insults and bashings on Joon and Hyomin's respective blogs, which was inevitable. But they were lighter than what they had to endure a few months ago. They both could finally put their whole focus into the show and just 'act' everything out, so to speak.



The mission for their second recording was to visit each other's high schools and meet their teachers. They had to dig into each other's student life. Of course, the producers wanted to grab hold of every dirty little secret they could get from the schools. They decided to start off with Joon's school. He came from an art school where he majored in modern dance and ballet. He was one out of two guys in a classroom packed with female students. It had been ages since he last visited his school and teachers. He told the producers and his manager that he'd head there by himself early in the morning to walk around and prepare, picking out the unique spots to record.

He woke up bright and early that day, walked to the bus stop near his parents' house and took the same No. 343 bus he used to ride everyday to school years ago.

There was barely anybody when he arrived. He figured he would go much earlier in the morning to avoid creating too much hype while he walked around. He stepped through the main gate and stood still admiring the building which used to be his second home. Reminiscing the school days he kept deep within his memories, he headed straight to his favourite place ? the dance studio.

He walked in and touched the dance bar, where he used to spend hours fixing his balancing when he first started learning ballet. He noticed an old CD player sitting at the corner of the room, in the exact same spot where it had always been. His remembered his ballet teacher would leave a random CD in it so that anyone could come in at anytime and dance to whatever music that was prepared. He walked towards the CD player and pressed the ?play? button just to see what music would come on.

True enough, there was a CD in it. A familiar melody echoed through the room, a familiar tune which he used to love dancing to. He looked at himself in the mirror. His thoughts wandered as he remembered a special gift that this song had brought him to before...

***


Joon and Hyuna had continued seeing each other months after they'd first met. They loved spending time with each other because they had so much in common. They went through the same difficulties as young trainees from less well-known management companies. Before they knew it, sparks began to fly whenever they were together. Butterflies formed in their stomachs. They noticed that they'd fallen for one another without realising that it went both ways.

Their feelings for each other eventually became more obvious as they would ask each other out on random dates. Joon could no longer hold back this deep desire that he had for her. He finally gathered the courage to make it happen. He'd been preparing for a special event for weeks.


Meet me at our usual place tonight at 1.15am, SHARP.


Joon and Hyuna spent a lot of time together at an abandoned theatre minutes away from J.Tune building. With their passion for dancing, they enjoyed exploring various types of dance there, making full use of the huge, empty space.

One of Hyuna's fellow trainees, Yoseob, had accompanied her to the abandoned building. She was afraid to go alone at that time of the night despite knowing that Joon was there. Yoseob left after seeing her go into the building safely, smiling to himself knowing what was going to take place in that theatre.

She tip-toed in. She was afraid of the dark. She couldn't see anything at all. Her heart was pounding. She took tiny steps forward. She squinted hard and whispered, "Oppa, where are you?"

No answer.

What on earth is this oppa up to?

The usual stuffy and stale theatre felt different this time. There was a slight wind of sweetness and comfort that tickled her skin.

All of a sudden, a spotlight shone at the centre of the stage. There he was, striking a ballet pose in his ballet tights. Hyuna couldn't help but giggle. She wasn't used to seeing him - or even other guys for that matter - in such tight outfits. "What are you doing?" she shouted.

The speakers came on and a familiar tune began to play. Joon had recommended this melody to her before. It was the theme music to the ever popular Swan Lake ballet. He'd told her before that it was his favourite ballet. He and his classmates had done an amateur version in high school and he fell in love with the moves. He always told her that this dance became the essence of his character and style.

He played Prince Siegfried who fell in love with a princess, who'd turned into a swan under an evil spell. The spell could only be broken if a virgin prince swore eternal infidelity to her. The story also told of sacrificial love and how the eternal lovers shared a passionate love story even after life.

Before she could process the whole situation in her mind, Joon started dancing. She stood on the steps, stunned as she watched him. She'd never seen him performing his first love - ballet - before. His moves were smooth and mesmerising. She couldn't take her eyes off him. She felt like she was in a trance. The beautiful music completely took her into the world of ballet.

She woke up from her trance when he suddenly ran towards her and grabbed her hand. He escorted her to the stage and continued to lead her as he made her his partner in the performance. Hyuna may not be ballerina, but she adapted very well and she caught up fast. The two of them didn't say a word each other. They didn't have to. The music drowned their thoughts and senses. It was already very late into the night. But their minds and bodies forgot how tired they were after a long day of training. The music and dance brought this young pair into a different world.

Joon twirled her into a triple spin. She followed along gracefully under his lead. He stopped the moment the music ended. They both stared at each other for a few seconds. Pin-drop silence covered the empty theatre.

He looked into clear brown eyes and took a deep breath.





He leaned over and kissed her pink lips gently.

The timing couldn't have felt more perfect.

Hyuna was stunned. Her eyes widened. She couldn't tell if she was shocked or scared.

But slowly without realising, she finally gave into the moment and closed her eyes. Her heart continued to pound harder and faster than ever. She could feel Joon's heartbeat close to her chest.



Could this be my first chance at love...

Lily Angel [ONE-SHOT]

 I sat on the bamboo bench in her front yard one sunny morning. The gentle wind brought a refreshing smell of lilies. Lilies had always been my favourite because of the calming scent it brought. I loved to sit outside like this everyday, shutting my eyes away from the troubles of the world and going into paradise. The sweet taste of the lilies triggered all five of my senses every time. I thought of myself as a bee at times, always craving to taste the flower scent. 

A sudden ring of the doorbell broke my peace and quiet. I opened my eyes and walked towards the big, white gate. The gate had huge bars in between. My parents wanted it that way to prevent people looking it from the outside. They were very protective of our family. 

Who's here so early in the morning? I muttered. I slowly opened the gate. A tall guy stood outside, admiring the beautiful bungalow inside he could finally see. He took one look at me and bowed immediately, greeting me politely. Wow, he's so tall... Now my neck?s starting to get tired staring up at him. Thanks to my pathetic 158cm dwarf body. I mentally complained.

"May I know who are you and what are you doing here?" I was a little irritated that my paradise moment had been interrupted.

"I'm so sorry to disturb you so early in the morning. May I know if there is a Kim Yoona staying here?" He was fidgeting.

"Yeah. She's my unnie. What is this about?"

The guy broke into a big smile, exposing his pearly white teeth. "That's great! Can I meet her?"

"You are...?"

"I'm Soojung's brother."

"Soojung?" 

Why does that name sound so familiar?

Mr. Soojung's-brother had a very innocent and genuine smile. I noticed the corners of his lips would curl up.

"The girl whom your unnie is going to donate her cornea to next month."

I jumped a little hearing his words.

"I know it's very rude for me to show up here unannounced. But I was so excited when I found out that my sister had a donor that I couldn't help but rush here to meet her right away. I am so happy and grateful. I wanted to come here personally to thank your unnie."

I smiled weakly.

What the heck is wrong with this dude? Did he just say that he wanted to meet my unnie personally? Doesn?t he know people donate their cornea only after they... DIE? Did he just curse my unnie? 

"Um... I think you may have caught us at the wrong time. Maybe you shouldn't even have come." I said coldly.

"But I..." He realised his mistake and turned red immediately. He stuttered, "I mean... I'm sorry. I didn't do this on purpose. It's just..."

"It's okay. I know you didn't mean it. You should probably go now."

"I... I'm really sorry. I think my excitement got to me. We've been waiting for a suitable cornea for my sister for years. When I found out that we had found the right one, I just... Um... I mean..."

"I understand. Don?t worry." Looking at how guilty he felt, I rescued him from his embarrassment.

He wiped the sweat off his forehead, "Thank you so much."

He must have been very nervous. The sun got brighter and hotter. His couldn't stop sweating. The droplets glistened in the sunlight no matter how much he wiped. I reached out my hand and gave him a handkerchief, "Go ahead and use this."

"No. It'll get dirty. I'm fine."

"You can return it after washing."

"Thanks." He accepted it with his head hanging down. He used it as though he was handling a fragile piece of glass.

Honestly, I didn't blame him. When we first signed the donor card, we had expected something like this to happen. People are selfish. With advantages on our end of the deal, who would remember other people's pain? If we had minded, we wouldn't have signed the card in the first place.

"My name is Changsun. What about you?"

"I'm Hyuna."

"So... I really can't meet your unnie now?"

He noticed that I didn't look very happy then and said immediately, "I didn't mean anything else. I honestly just want to thank her for her kind gesture. She has given us hope."

He looked like he was about to drop down on his knees and bow in gratitude anytime. I couldn't help myself. "How did your sister lose her eyesight?"

The moment I finished my sentence, his eyes sparkling eyes turned gloomy in an instant. 

"Car accident. There was a car crash when she was ten. She could never see again ever since. It?s been five years." He said, eyes fixed on the ground.

"Oh..." I responded softly

Everyone has their own life story to tell, obstacles to overcome and pain to bear. It's just a matter of how big the obstacles are and how long we have to endure them.

Changsun's hands formed a tight grip, his expression covered with remorse and sorrow. "It's all because of me... If it weren't for me, Soojung wouldn?t have..." he whispered.

So it was like that. No wonder he was so excited when he heard about a suitable donor. I started to pity this weird, fidgety guy standing in front of me.

"It's okay. It's all in the past now, since you already have a donor now." My overly monotonous voice must have scared him.

"I'm sorry. I can't believe I told you all that. You must think that I went overboard, right?"

"It's not that bad. The person who signed the donor's card did it willingly anyway. It's good to leave something good for others who need it. I'm saying all this because I mean it straight from my heart. Things don't come together with us when we were born and they won't go with us when we die. Not only money, it is the same as everything else we have. Rather than leaving it to rot and go to waste, it's better to use its benefits to the fullest. That's why our family had come to this decision."

"Then... Can I see Yoona?" he hadn?t forgotten the reason he came here.

I looked away. But I caught a glimpse of his face at the corner of my eye. He looked kinda cute when he was nervous.

"Sure! But she's not around at the moment. You can come again next time!" I was about to shut the gate when he blocked it with his hand.

"So, you mean, I can come again?" his eyes sparkled with hope and anticipation. 

"Since you want to meet and thank my unnie so badly, yes you can come again."

"Can I see you too?" he dropped his head the moment he finished. But I could see his flushed cheeks clearly because I was so much shorter than him. 

"Sure! You're welcomed to." I smiled. 

***


A few days later, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw Changsun pacing back and forth near my house. He looked like he was afraid to come closer to the gate. He gazed up at my window and was startled when he spotted me peeking from behind the curtains. He nodded. I smiled faintly. He waved, gesturing me to go down. He must be here to see unnie again. 

I headed downstairs and grabbed the keys. I went outside, opened the gate and found myself facing a face with the brightest smile ever, even brighter than the first time I saw it. "Good morning, Hyuna."

"Unnie is still sleeping. Are you here to see her?" I adjusted my shirt, brushing away the wrinkles and pulled down my sleeves. 

"Oh, really? But I didn't come to see her today. I guess that would be rude of me. She's still not well, right?"

"Oh. Why are you here then?"

"I'm here to see you!? he answered as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, which baffled me.

"What?"

"You said it yourself. I could come visit you anytime. Plus, I can extend my gratefulness to you as well. It's natural for sisters to step into each other's shoes, right?" he said it with a straight face.

"Sisters stepping into each other?s shoes? That's something only you can come up with." I giggled.

He scratched his head in embarrassment. "Whatever works. Do you want to go out?"

"Go out?" I looked at him suspiciously and glanced back at my house.

"Just for a couple of hours. You look like you trap yourself at home twenty-four-seven. You never go under the sun, right? Your skin is so fair."

Staring into his disapproving eyes, I snapped at him. "Haven't you heard of the standard of pretty girls? Fair skin blurs eyes. Everything else will work out well as long as you?re fair. Didn?t you know that??

"Is that right? Well, it's very healthy to go under the sun once in a while. Come on, let's go! I'll take you to get some fresh air." His smiling eyes devoured me, pulling the whole of me in like there was no gravity.

He climbed on his red bicycle parked at the side. I glared at him suspiciously. 

"Ever since my sister got into an accident, I haven't ridden my motorbike." His voice cracked a little. But he quickly regained composure. "Bicycles are the best. They're good for exercising. They're convenient and easier to park. And if it gets stolen, it wouldn't burn that big of a hole in the pocket either."

His bright smile slightly ached my heart. This guy was so hard on himself. Just because of one careless mistake, he sacrificed his sister's eyesight. He regretted it so much.

?Make sure you?ll fetch me!? I teased him. I wanted to help him forget the dull sadness. His sister would be able to see again the following month anyway.

"Of course!"

I sat on the seat at the back of his bike. I felt like I haven't sat on one for a hundred years! No. Wait. I meant, that was my first time being fetched by someone on a bike.

He slowly started to paddle. Then, he turned into a small path leading into a park near my house. He suddenly shouted, "Hold on tight!" I felt a huge bump. There was a huge hole along the way. 

I grabbed hold of his shirt tightly, almost falling off. "Be careful!"

"Are you scared? This is how you should cycle!" he chuckled.

I slapped his back lightly, "That's why I told you to be careful!"

"I'm being extra careful here!" Insulted, he turned and stared at me. 

"Watch the road! Watch the road!" I yelled, slapping his back non-stop.

"I know." He wrapped my arms around his waist tightly. I noticed the corners of his lips curl up. He rode in a zig-zag pattern on purpose. He continued on to show off some bike tricks, both hands off the handles, riding on one wheel and etc. I screamed again. 

I was drenched in sweat after riding only one round with Changsun. I was so exhausted. He stopped the bike at the side and we sat down. 

"Are you tired?" he looked at my face, now flushing red because of the constant screaming and shouting.

"Of course! I've been screaming my lungs away for the past hour. What do you think?" I glared at him.

"Isn't this healthy? You don't look so pale anymore!" he smiled cheekily, the smile that you just couldn't hate.

I responded coldly, "Mmm..." showing my dissatisfaction. He pinched my cheeks. He caught me by surprise, but I tried hard not to show it. His gestures were gentle, like he was doing the most natural thing in the world. Unknowingly, I accepted his simple gesture without responding further.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Mmm." I replied him lazily. The felt so calm. 

"What is wrong with your unnie?"

My half-closed eyes now opened. My face stiffened. 

"She..."

"Why? You can't say it? Then I won't ask anymore." He said considerately.

"No. It's not that I can't say it. She..." I stayed still for a while. Then the word just came out like word vomit. 

"Leukemia."

He was caught off guard. "Leukemia...? Is she undergoing treatment?"

"Yes. But the doctor said we discovered it too late. Chances of living looked slim. So she gave up chemotherapy because she wanted to go away looking normal.? I spoke slowly. My voice didn?t sound too upset.

"Hyuna..."

"Actually, it's better this way. She's always been vain. She wouldn't want to die looking ugly. Since we can't turn back time anymore, might as well go along with her wishes."

Changsun reached out his hand and gently held mind, channelling strength and support.

"Sometimes things just happen to turn out that way. We tend to think, 'Nah... This won't happen to me'. But it just had to happen on us. We can't turn things around anymore. All we can do is just to go with the flow. If God wants our lives, then take it! We'll have to return it to him sooner or later anyway. Some things can be changed with tears. No matter how much we cry about God being unfair, our fate has been decided. We'll only exhaust ourselves that way." I couldn't believe just I said all those words to him as though I was the world's greatest philosopher. 

"I understand. Your unnie is so strong. Under the torture of the sickness and towards the end of her life, she is still willing to help others. I'm really grateful to her for leaving her cornea for my sister." He said genuinely. 

As I opened my mouth to say something, a sudden gust of wind choked me. 

"Are you okay?" he said, patting my back. "Did you catch a cold?"

"Must be the wind."

"Let's go home."

He stood up and grabbed his bike. I quickly held his arm and asked, "Can I ride it?"

"Are you sure? I thought you aren't feeling well?" he was worried.

"I'm alright. Please. I want to ride in front." I looked up at him, attempting to persuade him with puppy eyes.

He laughed and nodded. "Gosh... don't do that to me! Alright, alright. Get on."

I climbed over happily. 

I just wanted to experience the gentle wind all over again. My sense of direction was bad and I kept running into trees, swaying the bike from left to right. But I felt very blessed, more blessed than when I rode alone. Maybe it's because of Changsun, sitting behind me, screaming away as I paddled dangerously. I felt like I could fly at any moment, swept away by the wind. He held on to me tightly. Is he afraid that I would disappear? Or is he afraid that I would float away? I thought. Time flew way too quickly for me today.



So what if I hold on to you for as long as I can? So what if I try my best to cherish you?


***

I knew Changsun had been looking for me for the past few days. But I didn't meet him. I had a lot of things to think about. I couldn't face those innocent eyes at the moment. 

I sat on my favourite bamboo bench one afternoon. Strangely, I couldn't smell the lily scent this time. Have they withered? Or did I change? Have the bees forgotten the beautiful flower scent and turned to the unreachable golden sun instead? I stared at the white lilies in front of me. 

A sudden loud thud caught my attention. I turned and saw Changsun standing in front of me. He must have jumped over the wall.

I was confused because our walls were known to be the highest in the neighbourhood. How on earth did he do that?

He brushed off the dust on his shirt and walked towards me, "Why didn't you come out and see me in the past few days?"

"I..." I couldn?t lie looking into those clear eyes.

"Why are you avoiding me? Did I make a mistake?" his eyes filled with hurt. 

I've done the one thing I never wanted.

"I don't want..." I whispered. But I couldn't finish my sentence.

He grabbed my hand. "Come with me."

"Where are we going?" He pushed me onto his bike and rode off without saying another word.

***


Changsun led me into a hospital. There was a young girl wearing a patient's gown, sitting quietly on a bench in the hospital garden. 

"Soojung..." he surprised her although he was almost whispering. She turned and faced him. Her face brightened. But her pupils in what could have been big and round beautiful eyes were grey and dull.

"Oppa, you're here!"

?Yup! I brought a friend? 

?Friend?? she turned away suspiciously. My heart burned as I looked at her dull eyes. She could have been such a lively and beautiful girl, away from this dull hospital, living a colourful life. 

"Hello. My name is Hyuna." I said, hoping I didn't sound too sad.

She followed my voice and faced me with the brightest smile, just like her brother, "Hi! I'm Soojung."

"You girls continue talking. I'll go buy some drinks." Changsun nodded at me and left us alone.

"Unnie, please sit." She gestured at the empty space next to her. She looked so excited. 

"You must be very pretty, Hyuna unnie."

"Why do you say so?"

She was very likeable. She would be a perfect girl if it weren't for her misfortune. 

"Because of your voice! You have a very sweet voice. So I guess you must be very pretty too!"

"Thank you. You're a beautiful girl too, Soojung." I said sincerely.

"Really? I don't know. I haven't seen myself for five years." Her voice slowly faded away.

I didn't know how to comfort her. Her face suddenly lit up again. "But it's okay. Oppa said I'll be able to see myself again next month, and oppa too! I can't wait!"

My heart ached when I saw her smile. I bit my lips and didn't say anything.

"I really wanna say thank you to that unnie who agreed to donate her cornea to me. Oppa said she is the kindest person ever! He told me to remember her forever. I don't need him to remind me about that. Do I look ungrateful?" she pouted and wriggled her nose. "I hope I'll see you too unnie!"

"Me?" her sudden words baffled me. 

"Yeah! I think you're a very pretty girl. And oppa has never brought anyone to visit me. You must be a very special person to him!"

So this was why Changsun brought me here to meet Soojung.

"Once you're able to see, you'll be the prettiest girl ever! Never take anything for granted!"

"I will, Hyuna unnie. Make sure you come visit me then!"

I smiled, "What is your favourite flower?"

"Mmm... when I could still see, I loved roses the most, beautiful and fragrant. What about you, unnie?"

"I love lilies, white and pure as the sky."

I looked out into the garden. How I wished there was a huge patch of lilies just then. 

"Like angels? That must be beautiful." Soojung quietened down, deep in her own thoughts. "Okay." She broke the silence. "I think I like lilies now."

I giggled at her innocence. I stroked her hair lightly.

"Drinks are here!" Changsun appeared, handing out can drinks to us. 

***


We headed home after Soojung had fallen asleep.

"Soojung really likes you." Changsun said. I didn't respond. "I hope you?ll like her too."

"She's very cute."

"What about me?" he suddenly asked.

"You're cute too." I said simply.

He was disappointed. "Guys hate to be called cute. It sounds childish."

I kept quiet. He sighed. "I brought you here to meet Soojung because I want you to know that you now have another dongsaeng even if you lose your unnie. Of course, they're not the same. But at least you won't be too sad about it."

My footsteps slowed down. It wasn't just the reason Soojung mentioned...

"What do you want me to do? Why do you seem so distant all of a sudden?" he looked at me worriedly. 

I looked right into his eyes and asked softly, "Do you know my English name?"

He shook his head.

"Xanthe. Do you know what that means?"

He shook his head again.

"It means blonde-haired in Greek. Blonde-haired also means to fly, did you know that? I feel like a bee, always yearning to fly wherever I want. One day, I might fly to a certain place and never come back." I looked out into the purple sun forming a picturesque sunset, as though there were lilies in the skies again. 

"What do you mean? Are you flying somewhere? Is it because of your unnie's sickness?" he asked anxiously and held my hand tightly, trying to stop me from leaving. 

"I don't know. Maybe I won't fly at all." My eyes were dull, just like Soojung's.

"I'll take you home."




I waited until Changsun's bike disappeared into the corner. My tears began rolling down. 


I'm sorry Changsun...


***


Almost two months later, Changsun brought Soojung who was happily prancing next to him, right to my doorstep. He opened the door and found himself looking at an unfamiliar face.

"Hello. My name is Changsun. This is my sister Soojung. Kim Yoona-yang had donated her cornea to my sister. And because of her, my sister can finally see again. We?re here to thank your family, and we hope to pay our respects to Yoona-yang as well."

The girl standing at the door said with her eyes wide opened, "I'm... Yoona."

"What?" Changsun and Soojung were caught off guard. 

"The one who donated her cornea to your sister was actually my dongsaeng, Hyuna."

He was stunned.

"From the start, my dongsaeng actually wanted to trick you. She wanted people to know she was a donor only after she had officially given it away. She didn?t want people to see her as a patient."

"How... How... How can that be? She looked so healthy..." he couldn?t handle the sudden news. He started muttering to himself.

"She didn't want to receive treatment. She said she wanted to leave peacefully at home. She actually went away very peacefully, she didn't suffer." she said, biting her lower lip.

"No wonder she sneezed a lot. She always looked so pale. I thought she was just naturally fair-skinned." He suddenly regretted and scolded himself for being so ignorant. 

"You don't have to be too hard on yourself. My sister lied to you because she cared. She wished to be perfect in front of you all the time. She had slowly strayed away from you because she didn?t want you to be hurt. She wanted you to remember her beautiful side forever." Yoona's tears couldn?t stop flowing.

Soojung had already been sobbing quietly at the side. She didn't expect the unnie who had returned her eyesight was the same pretty unnie whom she'd always wanted to see.

"I don't believe it! I don't believe it!" Changsun shouted. 

"Come inside." She led them into the living room and showed her my altar. The truth finally hit him. "She left you a letter." she handed the piece of paper to him. It smelled of lilies. He opened it and saw two big words staring back at him: 

I'm sorry.

Changsun couldn't hold back any longer. He broke into tears and fell to his knees. He held the letter close to his chest. "Why? Why didn't you tell me? I haven't told you how I felt! I LOVE you! Don't fly away, don't go, don't leave me!? his sobs echoed through the empty living room. A slight scent of lilies blew in.

***


Two weeks later, the grave was filled with white lilies. There was a piece of handkerchief laid near the tablet. It was the handkerchief that I had lent to Changsun months ago. He was the one who had planted the lilies by the grave. 

"This way you won't fly to other flowers." He faintly smiled.

The lily scent filled the place with peace and joy, covering my loved ones. I smiled looking down from the heavens.

Soojung looked up at the skies and whispered, "Lily angel..."

Under the Rain: Chapter 6

My hectic first semester here at National University of Seoul was finally over. The news team had planned to go on a retreat together to the beach just to relax. Initially it was supposed to be a one-day trip. But dark clouds covered the sky the whole day. We decided to rent a villa by the beach and stay the night, hoping that the weather would be nicer to us the next day.

The cool breeze was just calling out to me in the evening and I really wanted to get some fresh air. I decided to take a stroll by the beach.

The breeze slowly switched into strong wind as I walked. I looked up and saw that the weather wasn’t getting any better.

Then, I noticed Lucy sitting on the sand looking out into the ocean. I walked towards her, “May I sit down?”

“Of course!” she smiled. She looked like she was in a good mood.

I sat down. She looked up at the sky, “Looks like it’s going to rain...”

“Yeah.”

“Did you come out to sit under the rain again?”

I laughed and shook my head. Why does she like to ask me this kind of questions? I thought.

She suddenly did something that caught me off guard. She dug two holes in the sand in front of me and stuffed my feet in. She did the same with hers.

“Doesn’t this feel good?” she looked at me with sparkling eyes.

She looked adorable at that moment. My feet felt so warm and comfortable. Her gestures always made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. It felt like she’d filled up the empty bottle in my heart with the simplest actions.

It started raining heavily all of a sudden. I pulled her arm, gesturing her to go inside. “Come on, don’t you want to get inside?”

“I want to stay here under the rain with you. It would be fun!”


Lucy, this is the second time I’m soaking in the rain with you. But it is the first time I felt so close to you. If I told you I want to spend every other rainy day with you, what will you say?


“Lucy...”

“Yeah?”

“I... actually... I like... I like...” I couldn’t stop stuttering.
“Like what?”

“Um... I mean, I like... I like to stay under the rain!” I didn’t know what else to say within that few seconds.

“I know that! You don’t have to keep reminding me.” she laughed.

I laughed stiffly, mentally scolding myself for being a coward.



Our short retreat ended just like that. I never gathered the courage to say those three words.

***

I sat alone in the newsroom one cool afternoon.

Leaves fall as the autumn wind blows
Clouds slide across the sky as the autumn wind leads
I stand still watching your silhouette

As silver raindrops fall, you stand beside me
Your smile lingers in my mind
I yearn to hold your hand forever

As day breaks and night falls
Three words linger in my mouth, never coming out
I yearn for you to stay by my side on rainy days

Will you?

I was not satisfied with this poem. My writing was beginning to get rusty.

I folded the piece of paper into a paper airplane.

I aimed at the dustbin near the door.

I missed.

The paper airplane fell right in front of someone holding an umbrella with teddy bear prints.

Wait... Teddy bears?! I panicked.

“Joon-sshi, it’s good to stay back to catch up on some work here. But let’s not litter, shall we?” she waved the paper airplane in front of me.

My eyes were wide open. I couldn’t utter a single word. But there was only one thought in my mind...

Don’t open it. Please don’t open it! NO!!!

She opened it.

“’I yearn for you to stay by my side on rainy days... Will you?’ What’s this?” she held up my poem and looked into my eyes. She smelled something fishy. She faintly smiled.

“Is it a love letter?” she teased. “It must be. Did another freshman write this to you?”

I sighed in relief. She didn’t figure it out.

“No.” I quickly grabbed the piece of paper from her and stuffed it in my pocket.

“It’s okay. Just say it. I won’t tease you.” she lightly punched my chest.

I smiled at her little gesture, secretly liking it.

Just like that, we sat down and continued chatting throughout the afternoon.

This was my first time spending hours alone with a girl.

***

“What? It’s raining again? It was so sunny earlier.” She looked out the window when the both of us stopped talking.

I followed her gaze. It was pouring heavily. But the sun rays peeped through. Silver raindrops covered the grass like a blanket. It was a beautiful scene.

“Come on! Let’s go outside!” Lucy called out.

“What?” I was taken aback.

“What what? Come on, quick!” she dragged me out before waiting for my reply.

“I don’t think this is a good idea. You will get sick.”

“No, I won’t. Isn’t it great to soak in the rain together?”

Great. Of course it’s great. I’m afraid what you’re thinking now is not what I long to hear all this while.

I didn’t realise I’d been staring at her as the rain soaked her hair.

Her voice broke my train of thoughts.

“Have you ever spent time in the rain with someone you like or someone who likes you?” she asked without warning.

I shook my head. I didn’t want to face her reaction if she found out the truth.

“Joon-sshi, may I let you in on a secret?” there was a slight twinkle in her eyes. Maybe it was the rain.




“The second part of my question... you’re actually experiencing it right now.” she looked right into my eyes.

I stood still and looked back at her. My mind was completely blank. My heartbeat continued to increase its pace.

“Silly!” she gave me a peck on my flushed cheek and smiled sweetly.




END.

Under the Rain: Chapter 5

I walked pass the newsroom as I was heading to class. I noticed something at the corner of my eye. I turned back and looked in the room. I saw Lucy sitting at her desk with her head buried in her arms. I couldn’t tell if she was just taking a nap or if something was wrong. I had to rush to class to submit an assignment, so I didn’t stop to check.

I bought a cup of hot of lemon tea from the vending machine an hour later. I passed by the newsroom again and I saw her still sitting in the same position.

That’s weird, I thought. At that time of the day she would usually be running around rushing the printers to get the newspaper for the week out. Taking naps on campus wasn’t part of her usual routine.

I walked to her slowly, trying to choose the right words to say in my mind.

As thought she’d sensed me coming in, she suddenly sat up and looked at me.

“What is it?” she sounded annoyed.

“Are... Are you okay?” I tried my hardest to sound genuinely concerned. She looked pale.

She looked away and dropped her head on the table again. I sat down next to her and tried to find out what was wrong.

“Joon-sshi, what on earth do you want?” she asked without lifting her head. I’ve never heard her snap at anyone in that way, unless it was work-related.

“Are you not feeling well? Fever? Or is it the flu...”

“Joon-sshi, you sure have a lot of questions today.”

Really? I’m sorry then. I muttered under my breath.

She felt bad for snapping at me. “I’m fine. I just have a little stomach ache.”

“Why? Did you eat something bad?”

“I don’t know. I’m kinda used to it.”

She’s used to it? Did she eat something wrong? Could it be something only girls have... What do they call it? Right. Period cramps?

“Uh... Here, have some lemon tea. It should help.” I offered her the hot drink.

She finally looked up at me again. “Oh...” For once, it seemed like I’d spoken more than her.

“Don’t they usually say that it’s good to drink something hot when... it’s THAT time of the month?” my cheeks flushed talking about it. That should be right. I’ve heard my sister mention this before.

“That time of the month?” she looked confused.

“Period.” I’ve never felt so awkward in my life.

“Pe... Period?” she asked with her mouth wide open for a good twenty seconds which felt like twenty years. She burst out laughing all of a sudden. “You’re... You’re saying I’ve having my PERIOD??? Ha ha ha!!!”

I stared at her. I had no idea what was happening.

“You’re always trying to act so macho all the time. But you’re kinda cute when... ... Ha ha ha!!!” she couldn’t stop laughing. “I’m just having a normal stomach ache. Do you get it now?”

I nodded.

I wanted to bury my head in the big printers at the time.

She stood up and grabbed the cup of hot lemon tea I gave her. “Anyway, thanks for this!” And she went out.

I nodded again.

So, her pain is gone?

Under the Rain: Chapter 4

I’m pretty sure you are be able to guess by now that I’ve never dated anyone before. I know this sounds pathetic coming from a college senior, but please don’t pity me. It isn’t a big deal.

But Lucy… Lucy… she sure has a way to make me nervous whenever I’m around her lately. Is this THE feeling? What they say... love? Like? Infatuation?

***

One Sunday morning, I decided to take a stroll around the campus park because I wanted to get some fresh air.

The sound of kids playing and running around happily caught my attention. I looked up and saw a bunch of five and six-year-olds chasing after a football with another girl. Her back looked familiar. And that hair…

It was Lucy.

She had her hair tied up in a pony tail. Unlike her usual style, she wore a baggy football jersey.

Subconsciously, I slowly sat down on a bench and quietly watched them.

The kids were enjoying themselves. She looked very into the game. And her beautiful smile made my heart pump thrice its usual rhythm... again.

I was never good with kids. I think they’re a little annoying. But to see her so good with them tugged my heart for some reason. I saw a different side of her. Different from her usual Editor self in the newsroom. Different from the girl who was shivering on my bike soaking wet under the rain. Different from the girl who kept forcing me to talk.

As I was observing them, lost in my own thoughts, one of the little girls stopped and looked at me. She pulled Lucy’s arm, pointed at me and whispered something to her.

She turned towards me and our eyes met.

I felt my cheeks flush.

I didn’t want her to notice that I’d been watching her.

She turned back to the little girl and said something.

I felt like a stalker the way they looked at me. What were they talking about?

She looked at me again all of a sudden and gestured me to go over and join them. I shook my head to decline and smiled at her.

She nodded and continued having fun with the children.

A few minutes later, the ball came flying towards me all of a sudden. I caught it just in time right before it hit me. Lucy ran up to me.

“Impressive reflex!” she complimented. I handed over the ball to her.

“Why don’t you join us?” she kicked the ball back to the kids and sat down beside me.

“I just wanted to relax in the park.” I looked away from her but I could still see her from the corner of my eyes.

“Oh... it’s good to get some fresh air outside once in a while. Don’t stay in your stuffy dorm all the time. I always see you looking so dull all the time.” she joked.

Do I really look dull to her? I whispered to myself.

“But you’re not as stiff now as you used to be. You used to seem so... bored of everything. You had no expressions. I used refer to you as a statue.” She laughed. “But don’t worry! I’ve never mentioned that to anyone. It’s just me.” she quickly redeemed herself.

Really? I looked like a statue? I tried to recall how I usually act on campus.

“You have pretty good looks. You should smile more. You’ll look better.” She smiled.
I look better when I smile? I noticed I haven’t said a word to everything that she just told me.

“That’s the smile! I bet the little girls have fallen for you by now if you keep watching them with that smile on.” She teased.

I would never have thought that such simple words from her would make me smile so much. At that moment, something churned in my stomach and my heart continued to pump faster.

Maybe... Am I really falling for her?

Under the Rain: Chapter 3

It was a cloudy day with barely any sunlight. I drove around town. My stomach started to make funny noises. I glanced at my watch, it was only 5.30pm. I parked my bike in front of a café and headed towards the convenient store next door.

I grabbed a newspaper and walked to the counter to pay. The girl at the cashier turned around. My eyes widened in shock the moment I laid eyes on her. She was Lucy! So I guess she worked here.

“It’s you…” She shifted her gaze outside and looked at me again. “You’re out and about at this weather? Don’t tell me you came out on purpose to soak under the rain again.” She took the money I placed on the counter. After a few clicks, she issued a receipt.

“No.”

“Then why are you out?”

“To eat.”

“At the café next door?”

I nodded.

“But the food there sucks! It’s expensive and the service is very bad. I heard that they have a very stingy boss. Do you still want to go there?” I nodded again.

“Wow… this guy is tough.” She shook her head staring at me. She looked like she was studying me. I felt awkward so I left.

At the café, I ordered myself a set of delicious-looking pork chop. Can’t be that bad, I thought to myself. I sat down at a comfortable corner and had my meal.

It turned out that what Lucy said about the food was actually true. The pork chop was indeed bad. The meat was chewy and tasteless. I felt like I’d been chewing for hours. But I had no choice. This set cost me 20,000 won. I would feel sorry for my thirsty wallet if I had wasted the food.

Just as I was about to force down the last few pieces of the rubber-like pork chop, I saw a figure standing next to me all of a sudden. I turned around and found myself looking at Lucy, soaking wet. Her silent and sudden appearance scared the wits out of me.

“I was about to head home. But there’s something wrong with my car. It won’t budge. I can’t get a cab to stop for me in this crazy weather. Could you give me a ride back to my apartment?” She shivered a little from the cold. Why wasn’t she holding her weird umbrella again?

“Oh… Uh… okay, I guess.” I replied, looking at my almost-empty plate.

“Oh! I’m sorry. It’s okay you can finish eating your… um… lunch? I’ll just wait outside.”

“I…” She marched out right before I could finish my sentence. I took a quick look around and continued eating.

***

“Gosh… why is it pouring so heavily suddenly?”

“Yeah. It’s freezing!”

Two girls brushes past me carrying their respective set meals.

I thought of her all wet standing under the rain and waiting alone in the cold outside, while the selfish me continued eating in the warm café.

Without much thought, I rushed outside only to see her arms wrapped around herself, squatting in a telephone booth, trying to keep herself warm.

“Let’s go.” I walked into the booth.

“You’re sure a fast-eater!” She grabbed her bag and stood up. Her brown eyes met mine. Her lips curled into her usual bright smile.

For a moment, my heart stopped beating again.

I walked out towards my bike without saying another word. I opened the compartment and took out two helmets. Then, I realised I didn’t have a raincoat because I’ve never had the need to use one. But it was raining very heavily. What about her?

“What’s wrong?” She noticed me panicking.

“I… I don’t have a raincoat.” I replied apologetically.

“Oh… So?” She didn’t look surprised or upset at all.

“What about you…” I thought she was used to being sheltered from the rain?

“Oh, you meant me? It’s okay! I brought a jacket.” She broke out into a sweet smile again, as if reassuring me that I didn’t have to take care of her that way.

How can you cover yourself from the rain with a jacket? I began to worry a little.

“Wait a sec, I’ll buy one.” I couldn’t watch her soaking in that jacket under the heavy rain with the risk of catching a cold. I ran into the convenient store where she worked and bought a raincoat. Thank God they still sell these in a regular store.

I rushed out and handed it to her. She reached out her hand and took it shyly smiling. “You’re such a nice person.”

I climbed onto my bike and started the engine. She got on and lightly wrapped her arms around my waist. I felt my cheeks heat up. I look around awkwardly before realising that I should probably get going.

You’re just giving a girl a ride home. What’s the big deal? I shook my head to senses.

***

Throughout the journey, I felt a little vibration from time to time. But that came from her arms around my waist. I glimpsed at her through the side mirrors. She had her head down the whole time, squeezing her neck deep within her shoulders.

“Are you very cold?”

“I… I’m okay…”

Really? She didn’t sound okay. This was the first time I’d ever heard her stutter.

Suddenly, her arms around my waist tightened. Sigh. Why do I feel so weird again? This feeling lasted all the way to her apartment.

“Thank you so much for the ride. I will return your raincoat when it’s dry.”

“You don’t have to. I don’t use it.”

“Oh.” She nodded. “I’ll use it then. Thank you! Bye!” She headed straight to her apartment the moment she finished.

As she walked closer and closer to her doorstep, I gathered my nerves and finally gave in. “Hey…” She turned around and looked at me. “Make yourself a cup of hot tea once you get inside. It’ll help prevent a cold.”

“Hot tea?” She didn’t know what else to say. She seemed a little puzzled. “Oh. Um… okay. Thanks!”

I watched her silhouette slowly fading away from my vision as she went in. I smiled faintly. Today was the first time I had actually spoken to a girl like this. Not because she asked me a question. Not because I was forced to say something. Not because circumstances made me do so.

But because I wanted to.

Under the Rain: Chapter 2

I can’t remember when this started but I began to notice Lucy more. Besides her fierce self in the newsroom, she seemed very sophisticated. Other than that weird umbrella she brought around, she had good fashion sense. She dressed well all the time. She was fairly tall for a girl. She carried herself well and never hunched or slouched even once.

I never noticed how pretty she looked, especially since she was always the only person I stayed in the newsroom with. Her bob hairstyle bounced whenever she moved around. Her rosy cheeks made her look radiant all the time. Her brown eyes pierced everything she looked at. Her mouth never failed to curl up in a smile. She was nice to everyone. Except in the newsroom…

“Everyone, please. Let’s make things more organised. Stop messing up the place! I’m the editor. Not the cleaning manager. We’ve already asked for permission to have the janitor not clean our newsroom because we didn’t want to lose anymore documents like the last time. But this means WE have to do it OURSELVES. Please, let’s coorperate! Stop leaving papers around, stop leaving the computers on, switch off the printers, and stop leaving your used coffee cups here!”

Since when did everyone else come in? Why does Lucy look exceptionally attractive despite her shouting at us like this? I’ve never felt this way before. This is weird. Believe me. Besides her feisty self whenever she dealt with the campus newspaper, she was usually pretty cute.

After a heavy rain, I walked past the newsroom and saw her sitting on her desk. I walked in. The squeaks coming from my soaking wet sneakers frightened her as she turned around almost too quickly. She took one look at me and shouted, “OH MY GOD GHOST!”.

Ghost? Did she mean me?

I glanced at her and quietly walked to the desk next to her and sat down.

“Hey! Why didn’t you knock before coming in? Look at you all soaking wet. I thought you were some water spirit!”, she shrugged.

“Right now your voice can be heard throughout the hallway. I really can’t tell that you were frightened”, I joked.

“Wow… looks like not only can you talk, you can talk back too!”

Talking back? Did I just do that?

“Here’s a tissue. Please clean yourself up. Seeing you soaking wet is really uncomfortable.” She handed a pack of tissue to me. I looked at the packet and looked back at her. I smiled and took it from her hands.

“Why… Why didn’t you go home?” I stuttered. It had been quite a while since classes had ended. What is this girl doing here alone in the newsroom so late in the evening?

“I’m just rushing some last minute deadlines. Ellie forgot to send next month’s issue to the publishers. She had to rush off because she wasn’t feeling well. Since it’s raining heavily outside, I can’t get out anyway.”

That’s weird. What happened to her teddy bear umbrella?

She cleared her desk and stood up, “I can go home now. Goodbye!” She grabbed her laptop and bag, smiling as she waved goodbye and left the newsroom.

Although I’ve been in the same room with her many times, right here in this tiny corner, I’ve never seen her smile so warmly at me. The newsroom almost seemed brighter when she did. Oddly, I think I felt my heart beat increasing its pace when she smiled at me minutes ago.

What does this mean?

Under the Rain: Chapter 1

My name is Lee Joon. People call me Joon for short. I'm a senior at National University of Seoul. I love rainy days and I love standing under the rain. Normal people would find this hobby of mine strange.
You could say that I have inferiority problems, but please don't think that I'm not normal.
Ask me why? It's nothing, really. I just like it. It's as simple as that.

I don't like to talk much, especially to girls.
For some reason, usually only small percentage of people would believe what I say. They seem to have trustworthy issues with me.
You could say that I like to act cool, but please don't say that I'm shy.
Ask me why? It's nothing, really. I just don't like talking to girls. It's as simple as that.

When I first transferred to this university three weeks ago, I wasn't able to adapt to so many things. And I still can't. My roommate had always said that I was a weirdo. He even suspected that I had psychological problems.

On the other hand, I always find random girls running up to me and starting a conversation with no particular reason. A simple nod or shake of head from me would make their faces glow and they would run off like they'd just won the lottery or something. The freakiest part was they even gave me a strange nickname – Sunny. And I don’t even like sunny days.

I have pretty bad memory. There are many things in my life which I should remember for I find them hard to keep. But I will never forget the first time she spoke to me.

"Lee Joon-ssi, don't forget to remove that box of recycled paper once you're done. I don't want to see a single sheet lying on the table". I seldom saw her around. But whenever I did, all I remember was that she was always ordering me around. All I would do was nod and nothing else.

She was Lucy, the Editor of our campus newspaper. I love writing and it’s the only thing I am good at. I’m not really good with people. I refused to join other societies which required interaction with people. So I decided to join the newspaper to keep me away from the buzz on campus. It has only been a week since I’ve joined the team. I was still at blur with the way things were run in the campus newsroom. I wondered why I was the only one there all the time.

Well, not really. There was also Lucy. I hope she wasn’t the only one running the whole newspaper. That didn’t even make sen-

Lucy broke my train of thoughts, “Lee Joon-ssi, don’t think that you’ll have it easy just because you’re new. You can keep showing me that I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you face. But please clean up all the mess that you have made on the table by 7pm or you’re dead!”

I’ve seen many types of girls growing up in the city. I’ve always come across plenty in the past three weeks that I’ve been here. But she is the first girl that I’ve seen who has such a strong personality and seems to be the type who spits threats to her ‘slaves’. I didn’t expect her to threaten me because of a pile of recycled paper!

One day, I sat on a bench at our campus park after classes. I felt a familiar cold and prickling feeling on my arms. Drop after drop, it started to rain heavier and heavier. I stayed still and allowed the silver drops to soak my body, enjoying the sensation.

“Why aren’t you heading home? It’s raining so heavily”, a voice broke my moment of peace. I looked up and saw her standing beside me, holding an umbrella with teddy bear prints. What a childish umbrella, I mocked under my breath. I didn’t answer her and turned away to face the same spot I was staring at earlier.

“So it’s true that you like staying under the rain? I’ve heard a lot of rumours about it but I thought they were just the usual untruths people spread about new students. But won’t you fall sick soaking wet like that every time?” She continued asking countless questions standing under her umbrella. Once again, I looked up at her, and then turned away again and replied reluctantly, “I’m used to it”.

“Not bad. You can actually talk! Your voice sounds really nice. You should talk more. Otherwise you’ll have bad breath and your mouth will just rot away”. I gave her a quick answer out of boredom and because I was sick of her voice and questions. I never thought I’d receive a … compliment from her. This strange girl puzzled me.

“Alright. I’ll leave you alone then. Enjoy soaking and freezing away here by yourself! See ya!” She left without waiting for a reply from me.

Actually, she didn’t seem too high and mighty after all. At least she asked me questions and didn’t throw threats or orders this time.

No, wait. She said something about my mouth rotting.

Who cares?

I continued sitting where I was and enjoyed the rain drops for the rest of the evening.

Crossroads : Chapter 4: I never told you

It had been a while since the last time he'd seen her. Once again, the awkward feeling whenever he was around her returned. He could never look straight at her whenever they met each other. He knew if he'd looked at her, he would have to use up all his strength to hold himself back and not run to her, hold on to her with all his might and never let her go.

But he knew he couldn't do that.

The truth was...




they were once a couple - a couple with pure hearts, a couple who was so alike, a couple who went through the same experiences as each, a couple who thought everything would be alright as long as they had each other, a couple who was young and fragile, a couple who truly loved each other.



Back in 2007, Hyuna had left the Wonder Girls and moved to another company under JYP Entertainment, CUBE. Rain had set up his own company and he had begun to search for younger talents to form a new idol group. It had only been three months since Joon had joined the company. Being one of the few trainees in J.TUNE Camp at the time, the managers and trainers drilled him with long hours of dance practice and vocal lessons. He had no time for himself.

One day, Rain decided to bring Joon over to CUBE to meet some of his old friends who were directors there. They complimented Joon on his good looks and kept insisting that he looked like Rain. He wasn't used to receiving praises. He asked for permission to walk around the building because he wanted to look around.

As he walked past the corridors, he heard sounds coming from one of the rooms. Michael Jackson's Dangerous was blasting away. He peered in and saw a young girl showing off her popping and locking moves that were considered difficult for someone her age. She was concentrating on her own reflection in the mirror, working alone to perfect her moves. There was a choreographer teaching two other young trainees.

Joon couldn't tear his eyes off her. He had always admired people who danced well. But there was something about her moves that caused him to stay glued to the door, peeking through. He felt like he'd seen them somewhere before.

Her concentration was broken when she spotted him staring at her through the mirror's reflection. She turned and their eyes met.

When he saw her face, he finally remembered. He'd seen her performing on television with the newly debuted Wonder Girls. She was the girl who had left the group recently. He recalled watching her solo dance break during the intro to their debut performance. He'd become a fan ever since. He never understood why she left the group. It had only been months since she'd debuted. There was no news about her ever since. Nobody knew if she was still in JYPE. Now, he finally found out that Hyuna was back to just a trainee in a different company.

CUBE... I've never heard of this company before. I don't remember hearing Jihoon hyung mentioning it. Why are there so few trainees? Why-

Joon's thoughts were interrupted when he noticed that she was standing right in front of him. He didn't remember seeing her walking towards him.

She bowed politely and greeted Joon. "Hello. Are you a new trainee here?" She asked with a cheerful smile.

She looks cuter than I remembered. Lost in his own thoughts, Joon didn't hear a single word she said. He was starstruck.

"Hello?" She snapped her fingers several times in front of his face and waved.

She managed to snap him out of his trance again. "Oh... Um... Hi. My name is Lee Joon. I came with Jihoon- I mean, Rain sunbaenim." He stuttered.

"Rain?!" She was stunned.

"Yeah. I'm from the company he'd formed recently. Nice to meet-" Before he could finish his sentence, she pushed him aside and ran out of the practice room, heading towards the office. He was confused. But he followed along anyway.

He walked into the office and saw Rain and Hyuna in each other's arms. "I missed you, oppa." Tears rolled down her cheeks.

"How have you been? Things must have been hard on you, huh?" Rain said with a sweet, father-like voice. He pulled her away when he noticed Joon standing at the doorway, looking like a lost and confused little boy. He decided to introduce them.

"Hyuna, come meet my up and coming protege." He pulled her over to Joon and smiled.

"Yeah. We kinda met earlier at the practice room." She bowed again. "Hi, I'm Hyuna. Please look after me well."

"I know. I've seen you on TV." The curiosity was burning inside him. He couldn't hold back his tongue any longer. "May I ask you a question? I hope this wouldn't sound rude."

Hyuna nodded.

He spent a few moments longer trying to pick the right words. "May I know the reason you left the Wonder Girls?"

Rain slapped Joon's arm lightly. "Hey! It's not your place to ask that question!"

Hyuna laughed. "No, oppa. It's okay." She turned to Joon and then looked down to the floor. "Well, let's just say I had some health complications. That's all." She looked back at Rain, who was showing giving her support through his eyes.

Health complications? Is she alright?

Seemingly reading his thoughts, she blurted, "It's nothing big! It's not like I'm dying or anything. I'm doing great here in this company anyway." She took a quick glimpse around the office. "So, you sound like you'd been monitoring me when I was with the Wonder Girls. Are you a fan of mine?" She smiled cheekily.

***


"I'm sorry I called you out at this hour. You must have just gotten off a recording." Hyuna spoke softly, still looking down on the ground.

"Aren't you going to ask who it is?"

"No. I don't think I want to hear it now." Her voice cracked. She broke out in tears all of a sudden. Joon didn't understand what was wrong.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No. I just... I just want you to be here. That's all. If you think this is pointless, you can leave." tears rolling down her cheeks, glistening in the full moon.

He knew asking more questions wouldn't help. She must have been facing a lot of pressure and stress lately. He'd been monitoring her a lot. He never stopped. Recently, netizens have been criticising Hyuna for her overly sexual performances and dance moves. Most of the comments were directed to her age being inappropriate for that sort of moves. He thought it was ridiculous. Netizens... you can't live with them, you can’t live without them.

He stayed still and watched her as she sobbed. The urge in him to grab her in his arms and tell her that everything would be alright almost killed him. But once again, his conscience told him to stay put.

The two of them swayed on the swings gently, under the refuge of the moonlight for the rest of the night without whispering another word to each other.

***


As Joon drove him, he couldn't take his mind of the image of Hyuna's puffy eyes, tear-stained face and the sound of her sobbing voice.

"This song is dedicated to all those who may have missed a moment. I just want to encourage all of you to cherish the moment. In life, there should be no regrets. Don't let those moments go to waste. Enjoy, Colbie Caillat's latest song, I Never Told You" The DJ's voice interrupted Joon's thoughts.

But I never told you, what I should have said
No, I never told you, I just held it in

And now, I miss everything about you
Can’t believe that I still want you
After all the things we’ve been through
I miss everything about you, without you



Listening to the lyrics, something burned in Joon's heart.

Slowly, tears began rolling down his cheeks.




I never told you...

Crossroads : Chapter 3 - In their minds

Five pairs of eyes stared at her with excitement as Hyomin stepped into their apartment.

"Did you enjoy yourself?" Eunjung stared at her with an evil grin, with a pink bunny hat in her hands.

"Why are you holding that?" Hyomin snatched it away, worried that it might get stained.

"Wow, wow, look at you all protective over something your new seobang gave you!" Soyeon teased. "How cute!"

"I don't know what you're talking about. It was just another recording." She looked away. "I'm exhausted. Please release me or I'll look like a zombie in tomorrow's performance." She begged.

"Okay, okay. You better go wash up. I'll be waiting for you to go to bed!" Jiyeon called out. She shared the same room as Hyomin.

Hyomin grabbed a towel and went off to shower. She finally had some time alone. It'd been a while since she'd soaked in the bathtub. She poured her favourite peach-flavoured bath gel and relaxed herself in the tub. Her mind started to wander as she thought about a lot of things.

Hyomin had always been a sensitive girl. She cared a lot about what other people thought of her. She knew this would make it a lot harder for her, especially now that she was a celebrity. She had to face positive and negative comments everywhere she went. She'd always been afraid to face rejection. But she was always curious to find out what impression others had on her.

Her on-screen one-on-one date with Joon led to her first scandal ever since her debut. And being the target of many jealous fangirls, she was truly traumatised by this experience. She had thousands of comments in her blog in a matter of minutes after that episode aired. Some were positive, but most had been negative. The most unpleasant comment wanted her to die.

She couldn't digest all of that at once at the time because it was a completely new experience for her. She couldn't talk to any male celebrity at all for weeks. She was paranoid that the paparazzi would smell another potential scandal. She couldn't take all the hurt that she had gone through. She didn't want her members to suffer from the aftermath as well. She may have seemed bubbly in variety shows and on stage. She'd also acted like nothing happened in front of her family. But she couldn't hide behind the facade in front of her own members.

She didn't think she would be this worried when she signed the contract for the show at first. But now when she finally found out that it was with Joon, her worries swamped her all over again.

"Unnie, are you alright?" Jiyeon caught Hyomin zoning out as she looked out the window, brushing her wet hair with a towel.

"I'm fine. I'm just..." Would this turn into something worse? It wasn't just another date this time. It was marriage. Even if it wasn't real, if fans couldn't handle a harmless, scripted, one-time date, how would they react to a make-believe marriage between their favourite idols? She didn't have the energy to continue thinking about it anymore.

"Are you worried about the netizens?" Jiyeon knew what was in her mind.

Hyomin was quiet. Jiyeon had never seen Hyomin so serious before.

"Don't worry unnie, everything will be fine. They'll realise sooner or later that it is just a show. The other couples on the show got through it just fine. So don?t worry!" Jiyeon gave her a light hug.

Jiyeon was right. Past couples on the show had nothing to worry about. So why should she worry? Everything was scripted anyway. What you see is what you get. If his fans couldn?t handle watching him marry another girl as an ACT, how would they handle his real marriage in the future?

Deal with it.

All these thoughts slowly drifted away from Hyomin's mind as she fell asleep.

***


"WHO IS IT??? WHO IS IT???!!!" Mir jumped onto Joon's back screaming his lungs away the moment Joon opened the door. Joon was so exhausted he plopped down to the floor the moment he stepped into their apartment.

"Hyuuuung!!!" Mir shouted, pulling his hair and biting on his collar. He started stepping on Joon's back. "Please tell me!!!"

Seungho and G.O walked out of their room after a game of Star Craft. "Would you stop screaming at this hour?" Seungho snapped. "Do you want to get curses from the neighbours again?"

All G.O could think of was how Joon's date went. "Are you going to tell us or not? You know you won't be sleeping tonight if you don't." G.O threatened.

Joon tossed his iPhone showing a picture of his new wife to G.O as he dragged his tired body into his room, counting down to the moment his members started screaming.

"WHAT?! HYOMIN???" G.O shouted in astonishment.

Joon threw himself on the bed as his members continued to scream. He was too exhausted mentally and physically to entertain them at the time.

He shut the door behind him and was at the brink of falling asleep the moment his head touched his pillow. He didn't bother washing up before turning in since he could do it in the morning.

Right before his mind drifted away into dream land, it went back to the scene that happened right before he came home.

***


Joon stared at the text message, contemplating whether or not he should meet her. After sitting in his car for almost fifteen minutes, he couldn't get it off his mind. He finally decided to drive to an apartment building twenty minutes away from MBLAQ's place.

He'd regretted his decision the moment he arrived at the apartment gate and wanted to turn back. He didn't want any unnecessary stress. He shouldn't have gone.

Suddenly, he saw a familiar figure sitting alone on a swing in the park nearby. Something tugged his heart. He let out a long sigh. He couldn't tell if he was happy or sad to see her silhouette. He parked his manager's van at the entrance and walked towards the girl.

Her ears picked up his footsteps as he closed in towards her. She quickly finished the ice-cream cone in her hand. She took a deep breath before she turned around.

Her heart stopped for a few moments as soon as she laid eyes on him.


"Oppa..."





















"Hyuna... How are you?"