Once Upon A Time : Hyosung Oneshot Collection

Once Upon A Tine: Hyosung Oneshot Collection

Chapter 2:

A Memory From The Past

Hyosung ‘SECRET’ x Junjin ‘Shinhwa’

 

Hyosung waved her hand when a wave of teenagers exploded from the school building in front of her. It was not hard to recognize Rin’s face among the very first kids who stepped out from that big black door. Rin’s straight long hair wavered as she took fast steps to Hyosung.

Hyosung quickly noticed something wrong with Rin’s expression. Her usual smile when she saw Hyosung was not there. Her lips curved downward, telling Hyosung to refrain herself from bothering her.

“Hey,” Hyosung greeted, leading their way to the car parked a few meters behind them.

Rin said nothing although Hyosung could see her nodded from the corner of her eyes. It was one of the most awkward walks Hyosung ever had with Rin. Hyosung asked herself if the ice would melt inside the car or was it going worse?
“Is there someone who loved you very much but chose to leave you?” Rin asked quietly when Hyosung started the car’s engine.

Hyosung looked at her only daughter with confusion. It wasn’t the question that surprised her, Rin’s talking tone was what concerned her. It was unusual. Just like how unusual it was for her to ignore Hyosung’s greeting earlier.

“Well, maybe. Why?” Hyosung replied as she drove out from the parking field.

“Nothing, just asking,” Rin mumbled.

“What time is dad’s flight?” Rin asked as she obviously tried to avoid questions from Hyosung.

Hyosung stole a glance to her. It was very obvious she had no desire to know when her dad would come. Rin had refused to look forward and choose to play with her cell phone instead.

“He’s landing at six, two hours to go,” Hyosung softly replied.

Rin sighed loudly on her seat as she once again threw a look outside the car. Hyosung bit her bottom lip in both curiosity and anxiety. Her husband wouldn’t like the scene of their only daughter being a sighing machine. Especially not after the long filming overseas.

“So, what happened with Jun?” Hyosung asked.

She had just remembered that Rin had a boyfriend. Rin had never really told her how it was going between them and not like Hyosung or her husband wanted to have a role in it. But sometimes, they threw a random question about their relationship. Only to know how far they had been in the relationship — that was what Hyosung and her husband would say whenever Rin scolded them for asking.

“He left me,” Rin coldly answered.

Hyosung sighed. At least she finally understood what was wrong with Rin’s behavior. Hyosung had expected them to break up sooner. It still surprised her how Rin had a long lasting relationship like this.

“Did he tell you why?” Hyosung asked, silently thankful for the red light so that she could hit the brake and look at her daughter’s face.

“I don’t really know either. He just left. I heard he’s leaving to Japan tomorrow,” Rin mumbled.

“That’s so mean,” Hyosung clicked her tongue as the light turned to green.

“I don’t know, Mom. He’s been pushing me away these days,” Rin mumbled, playing with her hair as the annoying memories came back.

“Guess what? I also had the same thing with you. Except that he left me with a clear reason,” Hyosung told the latter with a smile.

“Really, Mom?”

“Well… Yeah. I feel sorry for him, I was too much to handle I guess,” Hyosung laughed.

“What happened?”

“Well…”

***

Hyosung had always dreamt of being an idol. It was what would define her as a human being. She was born for it and she knew it precisely.

She had been a mess ever since her previous company announced bankrupt. Her fellow groupmates had jumped from the sinking ship and Hyosung had been left wondering if she should continue to chase her dream or just stop. She had just graduated from high school two years ago, there was still time to try the university entrance exam.

She could choose that path. Or maybe look for a company that would accept her as their new trainee. After all, three of her groupmates had found agencies who wanted them to be a part of their group. Yubin even got a gold chance to replace someone’s position in JYP’s new group. JYP! She was guaranteed for success, and Hyosung wouldn’t lie to say that she was jealous of how easy Yubin was accepted to the group. UEE and Jiwon also had been called by agencies who wanted to debut new groups. They definitely found a better ship faster than Hyosung could imagine.

The only two who were left behind were Hyosung and Gina. But Gina had stated earlier that she wanted to take a break and find her life meaning by going back to America. And now, that left her to be the only one who hadn’t decided what to do with her own life. Maybe that was why she had Junjin by her side, to guide her through all these mess.

***

It had been three months since her group disbanded. For the last three months, she had to swallow down the shame and stayed with her boyfriend, Junjin. It was a hard decision to make as she knew how popular and dangerous it was to be too close with Junjin when they were in public. Not to mention that Junjin had always tried to convince her to go public with their relationship.

“At least we could go on dates with ease when it happens!” He always told her the same words.

She always refused the idea and even further, refused to talk to him whenever he brought up the idea.

And even further, she would never let the world know how their relationship could happen in the first place. It was an embarrassing story of hers.

At that time, she didn’t know Junjin was a member of Shinhwa. Sure, she had heard his name and even saw his photos. But to be exact, he was so different when she saw him in real life. The photos were no use as she couldn’t recognize him whenever they bumped into each other in the agency’s building. It wasn’t like Hyosung didn’t know Shinhwa was in the same agency with her. But the fact was, Shinhwa rarely came to the office and when they did, it was either when she was having a hard practice or too sick to attend the practice.

Thus, she had never known who exactly Junjin was.

Hyosung remembered their first encounter.

There was nothing special about it but she remembered how she was fascinated by his handsome face when she was touring around in the agency building. Every step he took was screaming confidence. Of course, he was too busy reading a script on his hands that he didn’t notice her. And it wasn’t like she mind, of course. She knew she looked like a big mess— sweating, pimples, tired face.

However, she was proud to say that she tried to stalk him although it was just an utter failure.

Their second encounter was when they both had a very late dinner. Hyosung had stayed behind for extra practice and decided to go to the agency’s kitchen when she saw him there, eating his dinner silently. Hyosung gulped down. She was still a mess and there was no one there—they practically helped themselves out in the kitchen.

Hyosung had been craving for some ramyun and she didn’t know how to make it without being seen by him. It was either throwing her pride to eat or go back to the practice room and wait for him to leave the kitchen. Before she could decide, her stomach betrayed her. A very unpleasant voice suddenly heard through the room. Apparently, the image of ramyun was so tempting that her stomach disagreed with her second option.

And the voice wasn’t missed out by the man who was sitting in the kitchen. He turned around with a wide grin, indicating how amused he was with the sudden interruption.

“Long night?” He asked when Hyosung finally gave in and entered the kitchen.

Hyosung nodded her head to the question and quickly tried to find a pack of ramyun in the fridge.

“Oh, are you looking for ramyun?” The man behind her asked in an apologetic tone.

Hyosung turned to face him. She hesitated for a moment before nodding her head.

“I’m sorry. I ate the last ramyun in the fridge,” He explained.

Hyosung said nothing. Her head did a counting for every option she had. She could just buy a pack of ramyun from the store a few meters away from their company, but she surely had to use her money which was not a good thing as she wasn’t sure if she had any left.

Her other option was to practice until she couldn’t stand up at all and the hunger subsided, she could fill her stomach with water.

She had forgotten the fact that there was a man sitting in front of her, waiting for her to say something after his apologize. And most of all, she had forgotten not to look straight at him while counting her choices.

Her sharp and unmoving eyes had scared him. It was like he was judged for eating the last ramyun when someone was needier than him.

“I’m really really sorry,” The man once again spoke, startling Hyosung who was in a debate with her own stomach.

He gave her an apologetic look as he chewed down his last food.

“Ah… It’s okay. I’m just going to go back to practice,” She stated, smiling politely before walking out from the kitchen.

Once she was in the practice room, Hyosung thought she would die. Her stomach wouldn’t stop growling and every time it growled, it was like thorns suddenly grew, poking her flesh whenever she tried to breathe. Hyosung groaned. It wasn’t her first time to experience the pain, she had gone through worse scenarios. She had squatted to hold the pain from going further but the metal door was so cold on her back that it was no use for her to try to save the heat in her stomach. Heat should have made her stomach better. Although her stomach clearly refused the idea.

Just when she thought she should move to the floor or wall next to her, the door was pushed open. Hyosung gasped in horror, as her body also moved a little from the push. It was a bad combination of shock and pain—now not only on her stomach but also on her back.

“Oh my God! I’m sorry! I didn’t know you’d be at the back of the door!” The pusher said.

Hyosung mumbled ‘it’s okay’ as she scooted away from the door. Just then she had the realization to look at the person who had caused her second pain.

What she saw in front of her amazed her. It was the man from before, the one who ate the last ramyun and the man she had admired from being handsome. They looked at each other awkwardly. He clearly didn’t expect her to have a rest in the practice room.

“I’m sorry,” He said again, with an apologetic smile this time.

Hyosung was going to say ‘it’s alright’ when her stomach had the same embarrassing growl and pain at the same time. Her eyes didn’t dare to look up to him when the growl had stopped. The pain was still there but it was just too embarrassing if she suddenly folded herself in front of the man.

“Hey, I know a good place to eat around here. What about accompanying me for a late snack?” The man softly asked after a moment of silence.

Hyosung said nothing as she wasn’t sure what to do or say when someone was under this kind of circumstances. And more, she didn’t know who the man was. Was he a manager? Or was he just an ordinary employee in the company?

“I’m not a bad person,” He chuckled.

His words sent another shot in her stomach. She knew he just teased her for being so cautious when her stomach couldn’t stop being noisy and hurting. Her head was busy trying to decide if she should go and just accept the obvious offer to help with the bad stomachache or try to save the little pride left with her and continue the practice to forget her condition.

“We don’t have forever,” The handsome man told her when she didn’t reply him back.

Hyosung let out a sigh of disappointment toward her decision.

“If that’s okay with you, I’m in,” She softly answered.

“Of course, it’s okay with me,” The handsome man chuckled.

Hyosung smiled awkwardly as she shakily tried to stand up. It was both the hunger and pain that wouldn’t let her stand up normally.
Just as she congratulated herself for successfully standing up, she saw a bottle of water offered to her. Her eyes shifted toward the handsome man and he didn’t even get embarrassed from the sudden questioning look from her.

“It’s summer, you have to keep yourself dehydrated.”

Hyosung could feel her cheeks heating from his advice. She gladly took the cold bottle from him.

‘What a thoughtful man,’ Hyosung thought as he led them out.

Hyosung stared on the man’s back, her thoughts lost as she wondered who was the man in front of her. She was sure she had never met him around the agency. Nor did she know his face from somewhere else. Was he really just a manager? But she knew almost every manager—they had taken turns to be her group’s manager. Maybe he was a new manager?

“If we encounter a bunch of screaming girls, just get passed them. You should get ahead, I’ll be right behind you,” The man suddenly said, pulling her out from her thoughts.

“Ah…?” It was the only reply she could come up.

“You’ll understand. Just remember to keep walking and don’t worry about me,” He told her.

Hyosung nodded silently.

Just then, what he said became a reality. Once they were out of the building, a group of hysterical girls surrounded him. Hyosung knew about Shinhwa’s sasaeng fans and although most of them were said to be crazy, she had never encountered one. Mostly because she always went through the back door, a lot safer and not so crazy like what the agency’s employees always complained about.

And this time, Hyosung couldn’t help but wonder why on the world the handsome man who was with her now being surrounded by these crazy girls?

Hyosung was going to wait for him to get through those girls when she heard his voice yelling at her, trying to beat the girls’ loud screams.

“Don’t forget what I told you!”

Hyosung knew she had to do what she was told as one or three girls already eyed her suspiciously.

“How was your day? Ah… I’m so hungry today,” Hyosung could hear the man’s voice tried to drive everyone’s attention on him.

Wasted no time, Hyosung hurriedly walked ahead of them as she tried to remember which place the man had described earlier. She knew there was a food tent near the agency that but he clearly didn’t describe that tent earlier. Knowing that they could be separated if she insisted on going by herself, Hyosung decided to wait in front of a building, only five buildings away from the agency’s building.

Hyosung stood in silence, absorbing the night when her stomach growled again. She sighed. If it kept going like this, she wasn’t sure if she could continue her practice. Just when she thought to go home early that night, Hyosung felt a presence in front of her.
She lifted her head and saw the handsome guy stared back at her with a grin.

“Sorry for making you wait….” He stopped, trying to remember her name.

“Hyosung,” She added when she realized they hadn’t known each other’s name.

“Ah. Right. Call me Junjin,” The guy said as he scratched his head—clearly embarrassed for the fact they hadn’t introduced each other properly.

Hyosung chuckled and nodded.

“Sure. Are we still going for the late snacks? I don’t know which place you were talking about so I decided to wait,” Hyosung explained, her eyes roamed the street ahead of them.

Junjin laughed upon her explanation as he nodded and walked ahead, his hand motioned Hyosung to come with him. Hyosung said nothing as she hurriedly tailed him. The cold wind made them fastened their pace. Hyosung noticed how Junjin would stop and wait for her to match his steps. The simple act made her heart beat faster.

She knew it was just a simple act and he probably did it out of politeness. How silly of her heart to beat faster only because of this simple act.

“We’re here!” Junjin said, allowing her to stand next to him and observed the restaurant.

Hyosung noticed the place right away. She had always wanted to eat there but her money and time never agreed with her so most of the time, she only passed by the place only to smell the cooking. The restaurant was an ordinary restaurant, a late night place to eat—it seemed. Despite the time, Hyosung saw some workers and their colleagues drank and ate—still wearing their suit as they gulped down the soju and grilled meat.

“I love their meat. The serving is quite massive for one person!” Junjin said excitedly as hetoo, observed the restaurant.

He led the way and got inside first. Hyosung took a deep breath as she once again followed Junjin’s steps. Her nostrils got spoiled once she stepped inside. It wasn’t hard to make her imaginations went wild as she rubbed her stomach which already growled from hunger and envy.

She saw Junjin waved to her from the corner. He didn’t seem to fit the place as he somehow looked too fancy for this kind of places. Hyosung even couldn’t imagine how he would look when he ate here alone. She felt awkward as she sat next to him.

Hyosung watched as Junjin ordered their meat and drink—water for her and soju for him. Being too observant, Hyosung noticed how Junjin even threw a joke to the waiter as he ordered. Hyosung noted mentally, Junjin did visit this place often like he claimed.
The night got colder and laughter slowly died down as people went home. However, in one of the corners, a high pitched laughter just began. Hyosung knew she would remember this night as one of her memorable nights. Junjin was a funny man and she was glad she went out with him.

Since that night, Junjin would pay her a visit if she had practice. They had spent almost half of the month not knowing each other’s background—or maybe it was her who had no idea of he was. Until one night, the secret was wide open.

He was being his usual self, too deep in thoughts and worries as he kept blabbering to Hyosung. Although in different companies and circumstances Hyosung would never focus on people’s whines, Junjin was a special case. She listened to every detail in his stories.
And Junjin seemed to forget that he was hiding his identity when he announced how tiring it was to promote Shinhwa’s new album. Hyosung remembered how none of them said anything after the word Shinhwa came out. Junjin was stiff next to her as Hyosung frowned, trying to understand what he had just said.

“So, you’re the famous Junjin from Shinhwa,” Hyosung stated calmly, ignoring Junjin’s silence.

“Well… Yeah,” Junjin mumbled.

Hyosung lay still. Her heart had already beat faster, panicking with the new information she just got. Meanwhile, her brain already shouted instructions to keep it cool on the surface. No one wanted to freak the hell out of Junjin, her brain shouted.

“You’re my friend and you’re also a stranger,” Hyosung stated as she tried hard to slow her heartbeat.
Junjin laughed.

“You already know me better than anyone. You have all my secrets, my deepest thoughts,” He answered, turning his head so now their eyes met.

Hyosung broke a smile.
“Do you think we can be more than just friends?” Junjin casually asked when he visited Hyosung in the practice room.
He hadn’t been there for five nights, Hyosung noted. Although he already told her about his overseas concerts, she still felt empty whenever she had midnight practices. No one tried to talk to her. Or brought her a glass of water when she took a short break between her dances.

The loud music couldn’t hide the question he threw. His voice was very clear and she heard it right away. Plus, the mirrors in front of them helped her to be sure that she wasn’t dreaming. She saw the words formed on his mouth as he stared straight at her on the mirrors.
Hyosung said nothing. She went to turn off the song and took a seat next to him. If Junjin stared on their reflections on the mirrors, Hyosung had no courage to look at him in any way. She busied herself, her head wouldn’t lift up.

“Is that even possible?” Hyosung spoke when there was nothing left to do anymore.

Junjin chuckled next to her. Of course, he had prepared a lot to say the question. It didn’t suddenly pop up out of the blue. He was more than assured that he had a huge crush on her. His feelings had grown fonder and fonder each time they spent nights in the practice room.
Knowing her, this kind of questions was more than expected. And, Junjin already had the answer.

“More than possible. It’s your life. You can choose to do whatever you want,” Junjin said.

Hyosung laughed hard upon the answer. Her head leaned back on the wall as she sipped her drink. Despite her laughter, Junjin knew the laughter didn’t reach her heart.

“I’m serious. This is one of your choices. I’ve fallen for you and that is my choice. I want more than just one-sided love, so I’m telling you. It’s your choice to accept me or ignore me,” Junjin stated, his head slowly lowered and got supported by her head. The dampness of her hair didn’t bother him. Instead, he was happy when she didn’t reject him.

“Don’t,” Hyosung softly said after a minute passed by. Her hand pushed his head.

“Should I give you time to think or you want to answer that now?” Junjin asked her.

Hyosung noticed the tension in his voice and it amused her. She tilted her head and her eyes looked for his.

“I want to be more than just a friend to you,” Hyosung answered.

Her cheeks were red after the words were out. Never once she thought she would have the courage to say those words. Next to her, Junjin was smiling widely as his arms circled her.
Days and months passed since the confession. They still had the same routines, night visits and maybe some strolls around the city when they were bored. What had changed was just that Junjin became even more spoiled.

As if it wasn’t enough, Junjin wanted to show off their relationship to everyone. Hyosung didn’t like the idea at all. The idea of being known as Junjin’s girlfriend was more than terrifying and uncomfortable. She had known how celebrities who went public got their names linked to each other. There were cases when the girls only got known as someone’s girlfriend and not because of their works.

Hyosung wasn’t ready for that. She would get called greedy, but she wanted all the spotlight on her. For a lot of reasons, she didn’t want to share the spotlight with Junjin—not even living under his shade. That was not what she planned when she decided to join the industry.

On the other note, Hyosung loved how Junjin always made their dates memorable. Hyosung was a big fan of foods and him always secretly brought famous foods for her. They’d eat them in his place or at a park near the agency. Sometimes, Junjin would bring her home and they did nothing than just watched movies and fell sleep together.

The downside was, Shinhwa was always busy. The dates only happened once or twice in two weeks. Sure, he still had times to visit her at nights. But, Hyosung knew how tiring it was for him. More often than not, he would fall asleep in the practice room when Hyosung was practicing.

She was very near to her debut and both of them had been busier than ever. Their times together were very limited. Hyosung was thankful he never said anything and moreover, she was thankful that she was very understanding about his schedules. She had watched people broke up as they were unable to adjust their working schedules. It was her fear, to debate upon works. And, when she and Junjin didn’t have it, she was relieved.

It took two months for everything to crumble down. Their agency was going through bankruptcy.

Junjin had told her about this when Hyosung asked him for the too much of free time he had. She had been suspicious of Junjin’s no-schedule days and she had forced him to talk. It was only a week before the company announced this to their trainees.

When she heard the reason, it hit her hard. Junjin tried to calm her but she brushed him away. He said nothing when he left her alone in the practice room. Until this day, Hyosung still couldn’t remember how she ended up going home after the news. She was sure Junjin wasn’t there and everything went blur that night.

She went numb ever since she heard the news. For some reasons she wasn’t sure of, she kept the news away from her members. She laughed with them, ate with them, and even told Junjin not to meet her for the whole week.

When they later heard the announcement from the company, Hyosung thought everyone wouldn’t believe the news like what she did before. But, when no one shed a tear, Hyosung realized she was the last one to know. Yubin stared at them when the words were out from their CEO. UEE avoided looking at them since this morning. JiWon had somehow shared the same numb expression with Hyosung. Gina was the only one whose eyes were puffy from crying, and she too said no words.

After the CEO finished talking, Hyosung understood why Yubin, UEE, and JiWon shared the same guilty look between them.

“We’re already recruited by agencies who are planning to debut new girl groups,” Yubin said, her eyes begged forgiveness.
Hyosung could only smile.

“Good luck,” was the word that escaped her lips. She wasn’t even sure if she meant the word or not.

There was a mixture of disbelief, betrayal, disappointment, and sadness. She had never expected this to come. If she was allowed to imagine things, she wanted to tell people that this was just a nightmare. And, she would wake up on the next morning and everything would be fine.

It didn’t take long for everyone to move out from the company’s dorm. Hyosung was the last one to move. She had stayed to watch everyone hugged each other and tears wouldn’t stop rolling down their faces.

Yubin was the first one to step out from the door, her back was stiff and Hyosung understood her. She had heard how Yubin was taken as a replacement for someone in the group. And, Hyosung knew Yubin was nervous with how everyone would treat her.
UEE went out shortly after that. She kept glancing back to where Jiwon, Hyosung, and Gina stood. They had to keep waving their hands to assure UEE they were not going to suddenly disappear if she kept walking. UEE had always been brave, Hyosung envied her a lot. She knew UEE was pretty much like Yubin. She was an additional member or something to a group that already debuted. But the thing is, everyone knew how UEE always kept things to herself and she was confident with herself.

Jiwon was the last one to leave that day. She had cried her eyes out since they said goodbye to each other. Her eyes were red and puffy. Hyosung wondered is Jiwon would be okay if she walked out like that. Jiwon was the only one between the three who was recruited to a brand new group. Hyosung didn’t really understand the details; all she knew was Jiwon was very excited with the recruitment. Hyosung pushed her gently out of the door when she kept refusing to leave Gina and Hyosung inside the tiny place where they had been together for a year.

“We’re the only two remaining,” Gina said, grinning to her as she pulled Hyosung for a hug.
Hyosung had always been close to Gina. For Gina, Hyosung was someone she had to protect and spoiled. Hyosung was the youngest in the group and Gina adored her a lot. Maybe the fact that Gina was the only child in her family explained a lot. Hyosung had never minded Gina’s nags or over reactions on her. She was just grateful.

Three days later, Gina looked at her apologetically and Hyosung knew something was up. Both of them were in their downfall and Hyosung had been asked to go home by her mother. Her father’s condition had worsened. On the other hand, Gina had been questioning if she should go back to her hometown in America or should she try her luck once again.

And, on that day, Hyosung knew Gina had decided to leave her dream behind. Hyosung didn’t really listen to what Gina said, all she knew was she was the only one who didn’t know what to do with her life. Everything had been turned upside down.

Gina went on the next day, saying she wanted to travel around in Korea for few days before she went home. Hyosung said nothing as she waved Gina goodbye. They had promised to keep contacting each other although Hyosung wasn’t very sure it would be for long.
Hyosung was scanning the tiny room with questions lingered around her head when she heard soft knocks on the door. She took a deep breath. The company wanted everyone to move out from the house in a week. So, there’s a big chance she was going to be kicked out from the place now.

When she opened the door, she faced the last person she wanted to meet in the situation. Junjin’s tired face was the first thing that greeted her. Hyosung was too stunned to say something as she registered his face in a few seconds.
“What are you doing here?” She knew her question came out quite rough and she had no intention to take it back.
Junjin said nothing as he slowly hugged her. The distant smell of his cologne somehow comforted her. It had been a while since someone hugged her this sincerely.

They stayed still for a moment that felt like forever. She didn’t want this to end. Hyosung desperately needed this. The calmness and comfortable feeling she got from him were something she didn’t want to let go.

“Hyosung,” He whispered lowly when she refused to break apart.

Hyosung shook her head, not wanting to let go of his embrace.

“Hyosung,” He called once again, this time, his fingers stroked her hair as if it was to assure her that she would be okay when the moment was gone.

He pushed her a little and Hyosung went ahead with it. She let go of his embrace and without realizing it, tears slowly fell down. The fact that she was tired and lost was very obvious now.

Junjin said nothing as he led her inside. His hand held hers and she followed him. Hyosung noticed how Junjin gripped her hand tightly and how he wouldn’t let go of her hand even when they finally sat down in the middle of the room.

They were in utter silence as Junjin waited for her to finish her cry. He said nothing on her ugly sobs and she couldn’t be more grateful for how he held her there.

“Thank you,” Hyosung muttered between her sobs.

Junjin responded by rubbing his thumb on the back of her hand.

A little part of her was thankful she had him when her world crumbled down.
“Where were you?” Junjin asked coldly.
Hyosung sighed. She had lost count of Junjin’s anger to her these days. Every single day was spent on fights.
Most of the time, she would walk out from the fight. She would say sorry and when he wouldn’t buy it, she would hug him.
But, today was an exception. She was tired and nothing seemed to go the way she wanted. That day was when she got called by everyone. It was the day when she had questioned her own life and motivations. Those phone calls were like a big slap on her.

Junjin had always said he supported her dream to be an idol but at the same time, he wanted her not to come back late if she still didn’t have a training offer. She agreed at first. But, when she learned that when Junjin said “supporting” her, it also meant he paid for everything she needed.

She didn’t like the idea. Somehow, it rubbed her in a wrong way. Also, after a few nights of going home early to his place, she felt strange. It wasn’t like her, to go to a place very early. There was a part of her that said she had looked like someone who had been too spoiled by his supports.

So, she decided to start working part time. Especially because she knew she still had her family to support. It wasn’t like she was the backbone of her family but still, she wanted to contribute a little to reduce the weight on her mom’s shoulders. The fact that her dad wasn’t getting better by each day also bothered her.

But, when Junjin found out that she started coming home late and on top of that, working part time for night shifts, he exploded. Hyosung tried to argue with him once, saying that he wasn’t always home anyway. It turned bad. Junjin didn’t speak to her for two days, ignoring her completely. Although after what she said, Junjin always came home.

On the other night, when he found out she still worked on night shifts and ran for auditions on the morning, he got angry again. That time, Hyosung tried to argue that he still got his job as Shinhwa’s member. On top of that, he didn’t struggle after the company’s bankruptcy, a very opposite condition with hers. That night, Hyosung learned a lot about Shinhwa from Junjin’s lecture for her.

Tonight, she wondered if the fight would end up alright. Hyosung was exhausted and lost.

Her mother had called to tell that his father had passed away. Hyosung had promised to go back to her hometown in the next day with the earliest train. She couldn’t remember why she didn’t pass out or cry when she heard her mom talk on the other side of the phone.
Then, she got a call from Gina. Her voice was very cheerful. Gina had been home and she couldn’t stop telling Hyosung to go visiting her. At the end of her call, Gina promised her to get back to Korea and try her luck once again.

The calls she got after Gina’s calls were mostly condolences calls from people she knew. Once or twice, she would get a question about her debut and if she was doing okay in Seoul. She chose to ignore those questions and focused on saying thank you instead.
She had taken a long route to Junjin’s place when she finally got her leave from her part-time job. Her pace was slow, her breath was heavy. The cold air bit her hard yet, it didn’t make her fastened her steps.

When she finally arrived in front of Junjin’s apartment building, Hyosung didn’t hurry to get inside. Instead, she looked up. She slowly counted the windows, trying to find his place. And when she did, she chuckled.

She had only realized it today. The feeling she had on her first time came her had been long forgotten. Now that she had the chance to observe everything around her, the feelings rushed back to her. The feelings of amazement, disbelief and worry.

His place was massive, at least for her. She knew she would never be able to buy a place like his. He had a great taste on things, too. She wondered how he accepted her and her poor taste in his life just like that.

It took her some cold wind to move her legs inside. The trip to his place seemed long and trance-like. Somehow, she knew she had gone numb. What she knew was, Junjin wouldn’t be happy to have her coming back late again.

Hyosung chuckled. Why did she bother to worry about Junjin and his luxurious life when her dad was gone?  A pang of guilt hit her hard. She should’ve been the one asking for his understanding tonight.

When she finally got inside the room, she quickly noticed him.

He didn’t bother to change his clothes. Hyosung quietly moved to where he was. It wasn’t hard for her to notice the cold eyes he gave her.

And, when he finally spoke, Hyosung thought to herself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’.

He had heard her sighing. Obviously, it didn’t sit well with him.

“Fuck!” Junjin shouted as he stood up.

Hyosung was too stunned to response. She had never heard him being this angry whenever they fought.

“Why is it so hard for you to comply with my simple condition?” Junjin asked, looking straight at her.

If anything, Hyosung was afraid. This was a new side of Junjin that she had never seen.

“Answer me!” Junjin yelled.

Hyosung wondered where did the nice and gentle Junjin go.

“I’m just not used to your condition,” Hyosung answered honestly. She refused to look at him.

“That’s just one simple condition! What’s so hard about it?!” Junjin’s tone hadn’t lowered at all.

Hyosung answered nothing. She chose to play with her fingers.

It felt like an eternity. None of them said anything. Junjin clearly waited for Hyosung to talk and she didn’t want to give it to him.

“Do whatever you want!” Junjin said finally, irritated by her silence.

Hyosung didn’t lift her head even when she heard the door opened and closed. The room suddenly felt big and cold. So, she wrapped herself in her arms, hoping if she did that she wouldn’t break down.

“It’s okay,” She mumbled, rocking back and forth.
It took her an hour to get up from the couch. Junjin hadn’t come back and Hyosung had started feeling guilty.

She was putting her clothes into her luggage when out of nowhere, Junjin’s phone ringtone was heard. Hyosung was sure she didn’t hear him get into the room.

She quickly stood up. Her legs brought her to the living room, where Junjin sat earlier. His phone was still singing one of Shinhwa’s songs when she picked it up.

“Yah, does anyone pick up?” Hyosung recognized Junjin’s voice.

“Shut up, will you? How did you lose it anyway?!” Someone’s voice that Hyosung didn’t recognize talked back.

“I was too angry to notice if I brought my phone,” Junjin said back.

“Hush!” Someone said, so close to the phone that Hyosung kind of shocked.

“Hello?” Hyosung finally talked.

“Ah! Hello! I’m the phone owner’s friend,” A cheerful guy’s voice greeted her. Junjin was probably with his friends, as this one’s voice was different with the one Hyosung heard in the back.

“Ah… Yes,” Hyosung said, confused.

At the back, Hyosung could hear Junjin talked again. He told the guy on the phone to ask where she was.

She was going to answer when she heard Junjin talk to his other friend.

“I’m going to need to stay at your place, Eric-ah. Pretty please?”

“Why?!”

“I just don’t want to go home,” She heard him talking.

“That’s my place but she’s the one who stays there and I’m the one who leave,” Junjin said again, annoyed.

“Hello? Hello?” Hyosung realized she had focused so hard on listening people on the back instead of the one on the phone with her.

“Ah, I’m sorry,” She said.

“Oh, no, no! It’s not your fault! My friends are so noisy; I think that’s why you couldn’t hear me! I’m going to get out first so you could hear me,” The cheerful guy said.

Hyosung said nothing as he was right. Junjin’s voice blasted louder when the man walked out from the room.

“She’s hard to handle! I don’t want to see her,” Junjin said loudly.

Hyosung felt her heart broke. Never once she expected him to badmouth her that bad when he was with his friends.

“Hello? Could you hear me?”

“Yeah. May I know whom I’m speaking with?” Hyosung asked, tried hard not to tremble.

The man on the phone seemed to hesitate before spelling his name, “I’m Minwoo.”

“Minwoo-ssi, I’m Hyosung. Junjin’s girlfriend,”

There was an awkward silence as Hyosung waited for Minwoo to reply back.

“Oh… Um, I’m sorry Jun Hyosung-ssi. I will give the phone to Junjin,” Minwoo finally talked.

“No! Please don’t!” Hyosung stopped him, she heard herself panicking and shouting at the same time.

“….. Okay, I won’t,” Minwoo said.

“Could you please lie to him about his phone? Just tell him it’s somewhere. I don’t want to have another fight with him,” Hyosung said softly.

“Ehm… Okay,” Minwoo replied.

Hyosung closed the phone. Her eyes roamed the room and she knew Junjin was right. It was his place, and yet she was the one who stayed. If anything, she didn’t have any right to stay. She should be the one who left.

Her chest and throat tighten. She couldn’t hold the tears back anymore.

The world she tried to rebuild had crumbled down again.

***

“Did you leave?” Rin asked. She had turned her position so that she could see her mom’s face.

“Yes,” Hyosung softly said.

Rin noticed her mom had stiffened on her question.

“I only saw him once after that,” Hyosung suddenly said, answering Rin’s silent question.

“Really?”

“Yes. He came to your grandpa’s funeral. I don’t know how he knew about that,” Hyosung explained.

“Didn’t you talk?” Rin asked.

“Oh yes, we did. We talked to end our relationship. He didn’t explain himself and neither did I. I think we both had known what was going on although none of said anything about that night,” Hyosung explained.

Hyosung suddenly turned off the air conditioner and rolled down the windows. The spring wind blew gently, playing with their hair.

“We’ve never been the same after that. I know he tried hard to be in new relationships but nothing worked. His relationships had never lasted long. As for me, it took quite long to open myself to relationships. We avoid and never greet each other,” Hyosung chuckled bitterly.

“However, honey, no matter how sad it was, I always remember the good memories I made with him and it kind of helped me open up too!” Hyosung spoke in her usual cheerful voice as she poked Rin’s cheek.

“Are you happy with Dad, Mom?”

Rin swore she had never seen that much of sincerity in her mom’s eyes when she answered that simple question.

“He’s the one who heals me, dear,”


 

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