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Drabble 3 ~ One of Those Rare Occasions
“I guess you never did say you loved me did you?” Shin Hye looked up and searched his eyes. She was sitting on their bench.
“I waited all this time for someone who I thought loved me!”
She took a deep breath as she said this, and then turned her head to look at the trees hiding them from plain view from the ongoing party beyond it. She smiled sadly and whispered, “You never did promise me anything.” She paused.
“Not your fault!” Shin Hye continued. “It was my mistake!”
He didn’t say anything. She stood up, squared her shoulders and left him to join the rest of their friends. She didn’t stay long though. She couldn’t. Almost as soon as she came in from the garden she whispered or nodded her goodbyes to Min Hyuk, Jong Hoon, Woobin and Heechul but just slipped away unnoticed for the rest.
Hongki just looked at her and knew. He walked her to her car. He did not put his arm around her shoulders when he walked her to her car nor did he hug her before she got in, small little things that they have always practiced and done when they’re together, rituals between friends that are only broken on rare occasions.
This was one of those occasions. He knew and she knew that if he hugged her she’d have burst out crying then and there and not be able to stop. No Hongki just let her be. Talking can come later. Or it does not have to in Hongki’s case. That’s just how they are.

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Drabble 2 ~ See Through
It wasn’t a lie, they both could read off each other’s faces ever since they became friends during their drama You’re Beautiful. It comes in quite handy actually. They know when to cajole, tease, play, distract or leave the other be. Way back then they can be quite open with how they treat each other in public, like how during the SBS Awards Ceremony Shin Hye noticed and removed a fallen eyelash on his face and made him relax or how he talked and tried to make her smile as they were standing waiting for their turn to give their speech as Hongki was doing his. He knew then that Shin Hye’s mood was turning south.
Right now, he was looking closely at the monitor. He, Shin Hye and Min Hyuk were taping their commentaries for the Heartstrings DVD Director’s Cut with all three facing the monitor giving their opinion on specific scenes. This time he had an elbow leaning on his knee, his hand holding his lips and he was looking straight at the monitor hardly blinking. He knew that the camera was rolling but his focus was fixed on that small idiot box. The tiniest of quirks tugged at the side of his mouth and that was it.

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Drabble 1 ~ Time
11 texts messages and three missed calls in… er what? 45 minutes!!! Aish!!! Shin Hye hurriedly inserted her key into the ignition and clicked the remote to open their main gate, and just as she was about to turn her ignition on, there stood the menace to her Sunday morning- leaning on his big black SUV, one heel thumping on the ground, thumbs hooked into his jeans’ side pockets.

“Sheesh! How can he look so cute when his hair’s all tousled like that and he’s just wearing tattered, faded blue jeans, equally tattered white tees and gray and orange Air Nikes?… Gray and orange Air Nikes??? But… they’re the same as what I have on! Exactly the same!!! How can that be?… He couldn’t have!… Impossible!!!

Manager Jjun said a fan gave me these!!! Same fan gave him those too??? In perfect size??? Jjuuun!!! Keun Suk Oppa I really have no time for this!” Shin Hye was muttering all these to herself as she turned her ignition on and was starting to drive out of the garage when Keun Suk came bounding inside blocking the way.

“Hi!” He greeted her with a big smile as she opened her window and Keun Suk crouched. “Hi guys!” Greeting the two dogs yapping beside Shin Hye.

“You didn’t even answer any of my text messages.”

“I’m sorry but it was so hard to get up and when I did I was rushing around to get ready. You know I am going to meet Byung Hun Oppa!”

“I know! You’re going to walk Bongji and Nori with Byung Hun hyung. I just want to say have fun, and don’t forget to ask Byung Hun hyung when can I talk with him so we too can have our talk. Okay?”

“Okay! I wont forget!”

She didn’t but he had one more thing to do. And then another and another. Time stretched and stretched and things eventually slipped away. He said he’ll always love her. He said he’ll always care. He just did not have time yet to spare. It was something he no longer have control over he said- time.

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Chapter 16 ~ Hong Stah

Shin Hye was running through the hospital hallway, slowing down to glance at room numbers before she’d run on.

“Room 1211 where are youuu?” Shin Hye muttered gritting her teeth.

It was almost midnight and she had begged and cajoled the hospital security for a good while before she was let in. It had been three hours past visiting hours and only emergency cases are allowed to enter the hospital premises. Manager Jjun hadn’t informed her of what had happened until after the shoot. No wonder she couldn’t find her bag with her phones in between breaks, too busy as well to even ask her coordinators about it.

No she wouldn’t have left the shooting to run to Hongki’s side, they were after all live shooting now! Everything had to be done fast with very little room for error. So no, she would not leave… oh yes, she would… no she probably would not… well, maybe just to check how Hongki was, just maybe, and she’d leave soon after. Honestly with the way things have been going on at the filming she was glad she didn’t have to decide, she knows though that it’s something she and Manager Jjun will have to discuss one of these days.

She was thankful she was still wearing her Jeguk school uniform underneath her winter jacket and she had something to show the lady security officer to prove that she had come all the way from her shoot. It helped a lot too that said officer was a big fan of Min Ho Oppa, a true blue Minoz at that!

the hospital takes a good one long hour’s drive to get to even without traffic, and if she’s lucky and there’s an extra chair in Hongki’s room she just might be able to grab an hours worth of sleep or two before rushing home to get ready and go back on location. Clutching the blue body pillow closer she hurried on to the last room on the corridor.

“Room 1211! At last!” she sighed. ‘Ah so that was what the nurse at the station mumbled!’ She thought.

Taking a deep breath she gently tapped on the door before she slowly turned the door knob and pushed it open. She wasn’t as alarmed with Hongki’s condition now compared to when Woo Bin first asked her about it. It was nearing the end of their scene, thank heavens! Manager Jjun Oppa was quick in butting in. He must have anticipated as much as he seemed so eager to jump in and explain. It was an accident. Hongki’s now in the hospital. They’re doing more test but other than that he was on pain medication. His shoulder’s been stabilized so basically he’s okay, though a bit shaken was what she was told. She was relieved of course but not receiving any messages on her phone from Hongki or any of the guys was bothering her. Okay, yes, more than bothering it was pissing her. Yes she was busy but even so she still thinks she deserves to know.

“I am Hongki’s best girl friend! Well, I am Hongki’s best, same age, female friend!” that’s the line she was going to nag Hongki and the boys when she sees them. Oh yes, oh yes she is going to give them a lot of pain on their back side.

“Hong-ghee???” Shin Hye whispered as she tiptoed her way in, turning her head from side to side checking who else would be in the room. Someone was lying on the sofa bed with his back to the room. Must be Manager Hyung she dared a guess in the quiet and dim room. Approaching the broad hospital bed she grinned.

“Ah I know where I will be sleeping,” she thought.

“Hong-geeee!” Shin Hye cooed some more, moving around the bed to the side opposite to his splint, his arm held firmly in place by it.  She plopped their favorite blue pillow on his free arm and proceeded to climb into the rather wide and high hospital bed. Good thing she was wearing shorts underneath.

“Hong Staaah!” Shin Hye said in singsong as she prodded Hongki’s leg with her toes.

“Yah!” Hongki croaked opening one eye a fraction. Shin Hye can see his bruised cheek, swollen and red even in the dimmed room. Seeing Hongki up close Shin Hye hoped that he does not hurt as bad as he looks.

“Why are you in my bed?” Hongki’s voice went quieter than a whisper. “Don’t you have a drama to finish?” His words were a bit slurred and had she not been lying right beside him she wouldn’t have heard what he said. Maybe a whisper calls forth an answering whisper, in this case less than a whisper, as Shin Hye answered in a  very soft voice, “Yes I do! Am sleeping here! Have a very early morning call.”

They heard Hongki’s hyung stir on the couch behind Shin Hye while Hongki’s sleepy eyes were fluttering close. Must be his medicines Shin Hye thought.

‘Good!’ she muttered to herself and closed her eyes, very much ready to follow suit and fall asleep! She must’ve drifted off to sleep for a minute or two when she heard someone call her name.

“Shin Hye-yah! Are you still awake?”

She knows whose voice that comes from, her heart skipped a beat and as much as she missed that voice she couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes.

‘It’s just a bad dream! Yes a bad dream!’ She told herself.

“Shin Hye-yah?”

How can she ever mistake that voice? She’s been waiting to hear that voice for so many weeks, but she couldn’t open her eyes! In fact her eyes sting right now. Like some kind of trigger that voice makes her want to double over and hug herself but she froze. She was not such a bad actor, was she? She can pretend to continue sleeping and maybe the voice will go away.

She heard and felt Hongki stir instead.

Yes she can pretend and stop every muscle in her body from moving but the one thing that she could not stop were her tears from falling.

‘It was okay.’ She thought to herself.

She was just grateful that she had her back turned towards the owner of that voice, her back pressed on the metal guard that was keeping her from falling off the bed but Hongki can see her face full on with the yellowish night lamp, bright and mounted a few inches above the bed’s headboard.

Hongki must’ve clicked its control or something for the lamp had turned off so suddenly so there was just the recessed lights left on making it dim enough for sleeping and still bright enough for the nurses to go about their business.

“She’s already asleep!” She heard Hongki say. His voice was a little above a whisper this time and he did not slur as much.

She can hear the pacing behind her. He has never been very patient, not really the type that takes kindly to waiting. Well depends on the situation and this seems to be one of those times when he couldn’t wait and she was glad.

She did not move, not even when he has closed the door behind him and left, not even when Hongki’s manager came in and occupied the now empty couch! But the human body can really only take on so much, even for hardworking actresses like Shin Hye. Fatigue, both physical and emotional, soon claimed her and she fell asleep even as tears still dribbled out of her eyes.

And Hongstah? Hongstah nudged the blue pillow higher after he turned off the light so that it partially shielded Shin Hye’s face and let her be. He wasn’t roused up when Manager Jjun came and left with Shin Hye but he can vaguely remember receiving a kiss on his forehead and felt the soft pillow on his cheek. He slept quite well, and, he didn’t seem to mind the wet patch on the blue pillow at all.

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15 ~ Umbrella

“Here” Shin Hye said as she handed Yong Hwa the microphone which was lying on the couch in front of the huge TV. The four were at Keun Suk’s family game/music/TV room. It was a relatively decent-sized room with enough space for the billiard table on one end, the huge LED-LCD HDTV on the other, a small mini bar conveniently nestled in one corner and a couple of modular sofas which were now positioned back to back. the sofas were movable so they can be turn when more people want to watch what’s on TV or pushed to the sides so they can have a dance floor for small parties. Keun Suk’s state-of-the-art sound system is all organized on portions of the room’s two walls and a corner, so he had what looks like an open type music booth. The room’s sound proofed and, though the floor under and around the billiard table was fully carpeted, the big space in front of the TV and the booth was made of slip resistant vinyl for dancing.

They were playing billiards in teams like they always do on the rare, and lately even rarer, times when all four would get to meet. There on the side table were chips, dips, nuts, an ashtray half-filled with cigarette butts and ashes, and their drinks- beer for Yong Hwa and Shin Hye, something harder, vodka and orange, for Keun Suk and Hongki. Hongki and Shin Hye were on one team which was really awkward as Hongki hardly talked to Shin Hye and not just from the start of the game but from the time Hongki came in. He was the last one to arrive and he just looked at Shin Hye when he came in but hugged and tapped the backs of the other two. Where the two, Hongki and Shin Hye, would usually arrive together with their arms around each others shoulders laughing at some joke or if one came ahead of the other, their usual greeting of a hug and a kiss and endless teasing was a given, the solemn entrance was almost ‘unnerving’ that the two- Keun Suk and Yong Hwa, couldn’t help but look at each other at this odd behaviour.

Keun Suk and Yong Hwa rigged the sticks so the two would team up but after the number of times that Hongki would not answer her questions or even look at her, Shin Hye didn’t force the issue and stopped talking to Hongki altogether. Keun Suk and Yong Hwa couldn’t really complain as the two were not throwing the game, in fact they seem to be playing better than they used to, nor were they somber when the conversation was among the four. Hongki just refuses to talk to Shin Hye and Shin Hye is letting him be. So gone was the sight of the two whispering and giggling about whatever secret or gossip they’re keeping to themselves or Hongki elbowing or draping his arm around Shin Hye’s shoulder. Shin Hye still looks like a mother hawk with Hongki’s drinking but like always she lets him be. She reasons, who better can he get roaring drunk with. Yong Hwa and Keun Suk, know when to keep their hands off with these two. This is obviously not the time to get the two to talk.

Hongki and Shin Hye were leading. Keun Suk was having fun dancing and joking with Hongki, teasing and trying to distract Hongki as he was studying the table and the position of the balls, laughing at his hyung as he was rubbing the cue chalk on his stick’s tip moving first to his right then his left undeterred, serious about the game. When the music video, Umbrella, started playing Shin Hye ran and grabbed the microphone from the couch and gave it to Yong Hwa. She knows Yong Hwa has memorized the part of Jay-Z at the start of Rihanna’s song and, ever the performer, Yong Hwa did Jay-Z’s rap, even imitating the actions the writer, music producer was doing, dancing too,

“Ahuh Ahuh (Yea Rihanna)
Ahuh Ahuh (Good girl gone bad)
Ahuh Ahuh (Take three… Action)
Ahuh Ahuh…”

No clouds in my stones
Let it rain, I hydroplane in the bank…”

Then substituting some words at the end of the rap Yong Hwa ended his part with,

“YH, Rain Man is back with little Ms. Sunshine
Shin Hye-ya where you at?”

Shin Hye who was still wearing the navy blue track suit she had on, ready to ride her bike for the night when Keun Suk messaged saying he was picking her up, removed her jacket revealing the more movement-friendly white tank tops inside, sang Rihanna’s part and started dancing.

Rihanna – Umbrella ft Jay-Z

“You have my heart
And we’ll never be worlds apart
May be in magazines
But you’ll still be my star…”

She had her back to the boys facing the huge TV screen following Rihanna’s moves unmindful of what the boys were doing. Its Keun Suk’s turn after Hongki, playing eight-ball in teams, and between the two of them they could take the whole song before her turn would come so she just waited to be called and tried to follow Rihanna’s dance moves as much as she can.

For someone who’s got her back turned towards her ‘audience’, wearing loose track pants, bike shoes and generic white tank tops, hair pulled to a pony tail Shin Hye had absolutely no idea what a sexy silhouette she has made against her background. Rihanna became relegated to the background even in her revealing white dress.

She made up her own steps during the part where Rihanna was dancing with toe shoes on.

“(Ella ella eh eh eh)
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)…”

The next thing you know Shin Hye was twirling, wielded the cue stick with such confidence in the cramped space of the TV room, gyrated, jumped and twisted smoothly. She really is a dancer- graceful, flexible, enraptured and elegant.

“These fancy things, will never come in between
You’re part of my entity, here for Infinity
When the war has took it’s part
When the world has dealt it’s cards
If the hand is hard, together we’ll mend your heart
Because…“

Hongki first noticed the silence, well mostly Keun Suk’s silence since Yong Hwa pretty much didn’t say anything after rapping. Hongki was bending and eyeing the cue ball. Keun Suk was on Hongki’s right. One leg extended straight beneath him while the other’s stretched sideways relaxed, Keun Suk stood near one of the corner pockets about three feet away, holding his cue like a staff in front of him with both hands, eyes seriously gazing straight at the dancing Shin Hye. And yes, Yong Hwa was silent too, sitting on a stool at one of the table’s sides a little bit more forward at Hongki’s left. Yong Hwa had his can of beer suspended on air, three inches in front of his mouth. Hongki thought, ‘He could not possibly be smelling his beer, could he?’ Then Yong Hwa slowly moved his hand down, forgot to take a gulp and just watched Shin Hye dance.The lights were a bit dim inside the TV room, other than the bright flourescent light directly above the table, the corner lights and the TV screen, Hongki can’t be abslolutely sure but he didn’t need to actually, he can tell the two were fascinated by Shin Hye’s dancing.

Hongki stood straight, rested his cue stick’s bumper part digging onto the carpet like Keun Suk’s only his he held with one hand on to his side, his other hand resting on his hip, his head tilted as he glanced from Keun Suk to Yong Hwa then at the object of their attention, Shin Hye. What is there to see? Hongki thought. They’ve seen her dance, they’ve all danced together numerous times. What is there to see now? So he looked at Shin Hye.

“When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be a friend
Took an oath, I’m a stick it out till the end

Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella

(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh, eh eh eh)..”

‘Okay she’s good!’ Hongki thought. She’s always been good at dancing, owning the song and spinning it with her body like how he takes the lyrics of a song and… then he sees. Hongki slowly straightened his head and looked at Shin Hye.

Shin Hye stopped dancing shook her arms and legs as she paced, still facing the TV screen, continued singing,

“You can run into my arms
It’s OK don’t be alarmed
Come here to me
There’s no distance in between our love
So go on and let the rain pour
I’ll be all you need and more
Because…”

Then picking up her cue stick again went right back to dancing, still calmly singing. Though her voice could sometimes be drowned by the loud music, maybe it was because she sang ‘under’ the music, that one becomes more sensitive to her voice, soft, relaxed even as she was starting to breath raggedly from the exertion of dancing. It was an old song but she must be familiar with it as she sang and danced with relative ease.

“When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be a friend
Took an oath, I’ma stick it out till the end…”

Hongki saw Shin Hye as she really is- passionate, fun-loving, a girl, enthusiasm sometimes running over, naive one time wise the next, oftentimes sensitive but sometimes like this time, oblivious to what’s going on around her. He remembered the times she reached out to him. Time and again even when he ignored her, yes in public and still she kept doing it.  It was a big faux pas what she did, right?

“Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella…”

She has always been a good friend. She even took it matter-of-factly when he bragged during their “You’re Beautiful” interviews that they will never be in a “scandal” not thinking he was also basically, indirectly saying she was not his type engrossed only with his thoughts that they were best buddies. And, she was cool with that. She still made him kimchi pancakes. She never thinks twice about teasing him, laughing at or with him about stuff, always opens with him on what and how she’s always been. Still is, even now.

“(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh, eh eh eh)

It’s raining
Ooh baby it’s raining
Baby come here to me
Come here to me

It’s raining
Ooh baby it’s raining…”

Yong Hwa hooted before he took a swig of his beer then drummed the pool table with his hand when Shin Hye finished the song. Keun Suk who hooted too, clapped and shouted, “Yeah!” Hongki walked to get his glass and drank its contents, bottoms up then muttered, “yeah, yeah!” Then he went on to eye his shot, his eyes glued on the cue ball and hit it firmly.

*     *     *    *     *

Shin Hye never drinks much so she drove the two back to their dorm. Keun Suk, just slightly tipsy, went along for the ride sitting shotgun as the two sat at the back. Shin Hye went on to check Keun Suk’s seatbelt and turned to make sure the two at the back had theirs on too. Being in that vehicular accident last year has made her more conscious of safety. She looked at Yong Hwa as he clicked on his seatbelt and sat back to relax. Hongki had his eyes closed, his seat belt already on, still ignoring Shin Hye. Of the three boys Hongki was the tipsiest, not exactly roaring drunk but drunk. Its times like these that Shin Hye clucks like some mother hen as she takes care of her ‘boys’ and they mostly let her, mainly to save them the trouble of hearing her cluck, fuss some more. Stopping Keun Suk’s SUV in front of her house, she got off and ran to get something inside.

“You know she’s been pretty busy and worried with her fanmeeting. She worries too much it making her sick.” Yong Hwa said out loud.

“I heard! I asked Manager Jjun one time how things are going and he told me.” Keun Suk added.

“I had to needle it out of her before she told me.” Yong Hwa continued. The two knew Hongki wasn’t drunk drunk. Hongki was listening but wasn’t commenting. He knows what they’re trying to imply. He never had to ask or needle Shin Hye. To Shin Hye Hongki was like her ‘girl friend’ as she is like his ‘best buddy’. Hongki opened his eyes and looked at the all too familiar gate. He misses hanging out with Shin Hye even when those times have been too far in between their busy schedule, more so after… he stared at a distance for a second or two then he closed his eyes again.

Shin Hye came back running carrying a bundle. She sat at the driver’s seat turned around to Yong Hwa and handed him the two woolen blankets.

“In case you get too cold. Can you put the other one on Hongki too? He’s very busy now with their comeback and he can’t afford to get ‘Severely’ sick.” Shin Hye smiled at the pun on FTIsland’s latest song as Yong Hwa draped the blanket on Hongki.

“What about me?” Keun Suk complained.

Shin Hye just scowled at him and grumbled, “Oppa!” as she tugged his winter jacket but affectionately patted his arm. She didn’t drive off till she was satisfied with the two.

*     *     *     *     *

It has been awhile since she’s been by Hongki’s dorm. She went down with the boys as they walked Hongki into the back entrance. ‘He’s going to be alright’ she thought, “he’s a tough dude!’

They were back on the road driving towards Yong Hwa’s dorm when she eagerly said, “Hey guys! Do you still have say 15 minutes? How about some Americano? We’ll just drive through, park somewhere, chat, then go. My treat! Whatchatink?”

The two looked at each other, grinned simultaneously and said almost in unison, “Sure!”

“Should we go back for Hongki?” Shin Hye mused.

“Aniyo!” the two indignantly said. Yong Hwa looked out of the window as he continued to grin, settling in his seat the blanket folded on his lap he likes the cold while Keun Suk went on to reason with Shin Hye why they need not go back for Hongki.

Shin Hye just lightly replied, “Oh! Okay!”

Then Yong Hwa rapped Jay-Z’s part again, Shin Hye started singing then the two joined in, acapella, Keun Suk sometimes going off key, Shin Hye drumming on to steering wheel, Yong Hwa doing an assortment of background music, all three of them noisy reaching the coffee shop with the longest

“(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella, eh eh eh, eh eh eh…”)

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14 ~ Nerves

Shin Hye was lying on her side in her bed, her cellphone in her hand having just finished her second report. She still has one more paper to go and two presentations to prepare for. “I’ll just take a 5 minute break then I”ll get right back to it,” she said aloud, trying to pep herself up. She checked her phone looking for a text message or a phone call from one particular person. Not seeing any, she turned to lie on her back and dropped her hand onto her pillow dejected.

“It’s been 34 days since we last tweeted and he hasn’t texted or called either!”

More than 6 weeks previously the two friends, Hongki and Shin Hye, were both sitting cross-legged on the floor of the living room of Shin Hye’s home where the two usually hung out, backs leaning on the sofa. Between them were 5 unopened, cold B yogurt that Hongki had brought with him, almost like bringing a six-pack beer. He was eating the 6th. He was having an upset stomach from the stress of his current schedule- he just came back from San Francisco and they’ve just released their new album. He had brought the yogurt and his strained nerves to his friend, Shin Hye.

“You know I really thought that it was just Yong Hwa whose the jealous kind among the four of us. Oh! Keun Suk-ssi is too! But not you!!! Now you’re starting to act like a jealous noona!” Shin Hye teased. “What’s going on Hongki-ya?” she prodded, when Hongki bugged her on her tweet.

“Tell me first, are you really going to leave me behind if you’re eating out with Unnie?” Hongki stubbornly said as he made a face.

“You’re so cute when you pout like that but don’t do that too often though, it might lose its magic! No, we’re not going to leave you behind. Hongki-ya, of course Unnie and I were just teasing you! Would we announce it to your hundreds of thousands of fans that we’re going to leave you if we we’re really serious?” Shin Hye ruffled Hongki’s hair as she said this, then feeling guilty fixed it right back.

“You’re sporting curly hair for this new album huh? So what’s wrong?” she continued saying. She bumped her friend’s shoulder making him sway to his side but he swayed leisurely right back.

“Just nerves I guess!” Hongki replied.

“But you’re so much tougher than I am!”

“Well yeah sometimes I am tougher than you and sometimes I am not!” Hongki downed the last gulp of the yogurt.

“Wait a minute! I’ll just go to Omma’s room. She wanted to know when you get here. And yes, I will be very careful not to wake up Appah.” Shin Hye said as she stood up.

Hongki was lying sideways on the sofa when Shin Hye came back, his head propped on the armrest, eyes closed. Minus the typical rhythmic breathing, occasional soft snoring, slightly open mouth and limbs wrapped around a hugged pillow of a typical sleeping Hongki, it was obvious to Shin Hye that he was listening to his iPhone. She gently tapped his arm and when he opened his eyes, she held his wrist then gently pulled him up and dragged him behind her. Hongki likes it when she drags him like that and makes her work for it by refusing to budge or taking his good time in walking.

“Yah! Come onnn!” Shin Hye said tugging her friend towards the kitchen. She made him sit on one of the high stools as she asked him about his band’s activities, their friends, his trip to the US, their current album, their return concert- anything that would have him talking while she went around the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and cabinets, heating something on the stove, getting a place mat, small saucers of banchan, a plate of kimchi pancake, two pairs of metallic chopsticks and two spoons and arranging them in front of her friend, then while waiting for the soup to boil, leaned on the kitchen table to listen more closely. There’s a certain sadness in her chingu’s eyes. She knew that something’s been bothering him. His tweets alone as he flew back from the US sounded…

Her mother has prepared the sundubu while she fried the kimchi pancake before he came and just instructed Shin Hye what other things to do when Hongki comes. Her mother pampers her friends that way but most specially Hongki who holds a soft spot in her mom’s heart. She said it must be hard to live in a dormitory with boys and not being able to eat hot, home-cooked meals like I do. She said Yong Hwa’s exempted as he’s been to Japan and seems tougher. Maybe she still sees Hongki as a kid, like the child actor that I too have been.

Shin Hye’s been swamped with activities these past weeks with the rehearsals leading to and the actual Melon and Keun Suk-ssi’s concert and there seems no chance of any reprieve in sight yet. Hah! I miss those times when he’d come out of the blue, jump and sit on my bed and drag me down to the living room and play whatever game we like or watch videos. Life was simpler then. Is it possible that his agency has talked to him about our closeness? The same line- girls and boys can never be friends? I did tweet him but he never replied or messaged. Maybe he’s just busy? Too busy! She sighed. He could not possibly be angry with my last tweet now, could he? And if he were, he would have confronted me about it, wouldn’t he? I mean I would if the tables were turned. Good friends should be open about things like that Hongki-ya. Hongki-ya have I hurt you?… Hey wait! That next homework on World Literature, mm…

THE FOOL’S PRAYER

by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

HE royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”
 
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
 
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
 
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
 
“‘T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
 
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
 
“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!
 
“Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
 
“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”
 
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”

Shin Hye sat, propped her notebook in front of her and looked at the space by the foot of the bed where she and Hongki had sat a number of times, sitting shoulder to shoulder in a huddle. She pushed the gadget away from her, pulled her legs up and hugged it. She rested her chin on her knees and just stared at the notebook’s screen. She looked down at her toes, took a deep breaths her shoulders sagging a little. Then slowly she reached for her notebook and begun pounding on its keys.

“‘Be merciful to me, a fool!’ This last line of the American poet…”

Note:”The Fool’s Prayer” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

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13 ~ Myeongdong Noodles

“What has gotten into your head that you should crave for Myeongdong noodles at a time like this?” Yong Hwa was chiding Shin Hye.

“And what has gotten into your head that you should pick me up at school and take me here?” Shin Hye smiled as she answered back. “Good thing the rest of my afternoon classes have been cancelled or we’d be drinking those noodles instead of chewing them.” She paused then added, “You look really cool on your jacket by the way. You wore that for our anniversary dinner with Hongki and PD Hong right? I did tell you you looked good in them then, didn’t I?

“Yes you did!” Yong Hwa smirked. She must really like this jacket, why she even complimented me twice that night but she can’t remember. Ahh Shin Hye-ya!

“I was craving for shellfish you know!” Shin Hye pouted her lips, grumbling.

“I know. I saw your tweet. Remember? That’s why we’re here?”

“You have time to check twitter?” Shin Hye said sounding surprised and sarcastic at the same time. She still could not believe she’d hear from Yong Hwa let alone be with him, even on the off chance that he’d have read her tweet.

“I was driving around when I saw your tweet. Good thing I was near your school when I read it.” Yong Hwa, brushing aside the sarcasm, answered as he turned around checking the place as they waited for their order.

Credit: SBS, Dramabeans, YB Epi 6

“Shin Hye-ya is today our anniversary?” Yong Hwa asked in a low voice.

“What anniversary?” Shin Hye was frowning when she hissed, wondering what anniversary Yong Hwa was talking about.

“Well in You’re Beautiful our date at Myeongdong was shown around the third week of airing right? Let me see… mm, we first aired at October 7 so the third week should be… the 21st and the 22nd! Yah!… Today’s the 24th! If I remember correctly it was episode… 5… no it was… 6!” Yong Hwa, proud at remembering, was beaming at his friend.

“That’s right! It was episode 6 and yes we’re 2 days past the Myeongdong shoot.” Shin Hye was amused at Yong Hwa’s reaction.

“Did you miss me and our Myeongdong date that much?” Yong Hwa teased Shin Hye.

“Bo? Are you crazy?” Shin Hye exclaimed. “Just because I remembered our Myeongdong shoot doesn’t mean I miss you or anything! Maybe you’re the one who missed me a lot! How come you’re wearing a hat and eyeglasses that looks like Shin Woo’s during our shoot that day?”

“Huh! Oh! Do they really look like Kang Shin Woo’s? So how come you still remember what Shin Woo wore that day?” Yong Hwa said rather surprised at himself, smiling all the while. “Yah! That’s Go Mi Nyu’s hair too!” Yong Hwa whispered, pointing out Shin Hye’s wig of straight long black hair with full on fringe or bangs!  Shin Hye just made a face. He knows Shin Hye would never admit it specially when he has been rather unreachable the past days, almost right after Heartstrings, what with the release of their new album and their concerts and he knows that he has been and can be quite insensitive, like his mother always tells him and have rarely been contacting her. This isn’t the first time he’s been rather negligent of his friends. Haven’t even talked to Hongki in quite awhile, even when they belong to the same agency and would have bumped into each other like they used to. Times have really changed.

“Do you still remember that time?” Yong Hwa asked Shin Hye.

“Yes I do! Do you?” Shin Hye asked back, looking at him keenly. Yong Hwa did his broad sheepish grin and said, “As a matter of fact, I do!” Then the two friends went on to talk about that day.

It was not that busy at the restaurant yet but it will be in a little less than an hour, when most schools get dismissed, offices get off and rush hour starts, so he was a bit apprehensive. He can outrun the fans and he really didn’t mind the rumor mills after all Shin Hye’s his only female best friend but fans can get nasty and Shin Hye can get hurt.

“So what should we do if fans would see us? Yong Hwa asked. “Am game on whatever you decide on as long as you don’t get hurt- physically or otherwise.”

“Well you can run and I can stay behind, but then they will still see me with you and the antis would clobber me on the net! Hmm… why don’t you just follow my lead!” Shin Hye said and grinned. Yong Hwa didn’t like that grin. Shin Hye is up to her antics again and his apprehensions just went a notch higher.

Their noodles came pretty fast and soon they had their heads down, shoving the hot delicious noodles in their mouths, blowing on the hot soup and slurping as they went. They’d glance at each other every few spoonfuls and smile at the rush they seem to be in finishing their soup- both hungry and delighting in the feel of the hot food sliding down their stomach. Though Shin Hye was wearing black jeans, a shirt with a red army jacket and black boots with her long straight black wig, Yong Hwa can’t help grinning, remembering her denial that she didn’t miss their date and his wearing Shin Woo’s look alike hat and glasses. ‘Sure Go Min Nyu! You don’t miss our date!’ was what Yong Hwa was thinking.

Yong Hwa wasn’t popular then. He started to skyrocket as the drama was about to end, thanks in small part to the now famous ‘second-lead’ syndrome biting a good number of “You’re Beautiful” fans. His music and band soon took off, then a series of concerts and shows and now they’re up there as one of the sought after bands in South Korea and Asia.

The restaurant had the same smell as it had when they shot their scene here Shin Hye reminisced, only now Yong Hwa joined her on her table so his back was towards the door. They weren’t that popular then, but now between the two of them, he was more likely to be spotted and mobbed than she was- a given in the Korean entertainment industry as its usually the male celebrities that people chase after.  The same industry that woefully could call friends going out for noodles a “scandal” The amount of gossip if they were discovered would be too much of a hassle specially on Yong Hwa’s side, what with agencies overly zealous of their idol bands, talents’ “moral standing”. So, yes, they were courting danger coming here Shin hye thought, now what are we going to do when people starts getting curious? Well we’re just going to have to see, right? We’ll just have to cross the bridge when we get there.

And, cross the bridge they did.

They had just handed the waiter their payment and were about to get up when three school girls stepped into the restaurant, sat down and in less than a minute started whispering to each other. Shin Hye caught a glimpse of them and before the girls could whip out their cellular phones, Shin Hye after catching Yong Hwa’s eye and mouthing “follow me”, got up and they both slowly walked towards the exit as if they didn’t notice anything. They had barely passed the restaurant’s wide front glass window when they heard the girls squeal and the sound of chairs being hurriedly pushed aside. With one look Shin Hye and Yong Hwa held hands and made a run for it. As they turned a corner they slowed to a hurried walk so as not to catch any more attention. Good thing the noodle shop was not along main street Myeongdong so they still had a number of side streets or alleys to try and throw off the girls who were following them, who in turn was being followed by an increasing number of other girls. Two turns more and they’ll be on main street and there, with the wider area to walk, they could lose them or they could get trapped and sandwiched between the fans behind them and those walking towards them, who’d wonder who the small crowd was following.

They acted calm but hurried in their steps. If they crossed the road to their left when they reach the coming corner they would just be a two blocks away from their parked car, but it will also give the fans full view of their side features compared to just seeing their jacketed backs and hair. She was busy thinking of what to do when right ahead of them was a couple holding hands and leisurely walking wearing ‘couple’ stuff- shirt, jeans, sneakers. She got irritated at their slow pace as they could get blocked and trapped. She had to chuckle though when she glimpsed at Yong Hwa’s furrowed brows, a twin to her initial expression. He grinned hearing her chuckle.

“Ey Bolmae-ya! I have an idea!” Shin Hye said as they both squeezed past the couple a few meters before they reach the intersection where they need to cross.

“What is it? Yong Hwa without missing a step drew nearer as they continued walking fast.

“When I say run, we’ll run okay? And then…” Shin Hye whispered the rest of her instructions as they both sensed the seemingly increasing murmuring and footsteps following them.

The fans were not yet one hundred percent sure that it was Yong Hwa they saw. The girl he was with walked slightly ahead so they were basically following a gray jacketed man with reddish brown hair and stance like Yong Hwa and a girl with long straight black hair in a red jacket with a hoodie. They cannot erase their suspicions when it looked as if they were walking in too much of a hurry that she and her friends cannot walk near enough to make sure who those two really are. They have after all seen and have gotten autographs from a few actors and singers walking around Myeongdong.

“I really think it is him- Yong Hwa oppa, right?” said one.

“I know right? But who is he with? I thought he didn’t have a girlfriend?” said the other.

“Come on! Hurry! Two more turns and we could lose them!” the third one said. Then just as they were about to walk faster the couple suddenly ran to the end of the block and turned right. And that’s when they screamed for when the running guy turned right they saw Yong Hwa’s side features. The girl was very quick in covering her hair with her red hoodie so they couldn’t see. They stopped in their tracks for a second then screamed, “Yong Hwa oppa!!!” then they ran as fast as they can. They had to squeeze through the couple in red couple shirts who behaved as though the sidewalk were a park.

The three knew, being Myeongdong regulars, that if Yong Hwa oppa and his date were to run fast they’d be taking another turn into the main street by the time they reached the corner so they ran with all their might, so did the number of girls who heard them talking that it was Yong Hwa that they saw. The girls ran so fast they almost run smack into another couple as they turned. They had to make an abrupt stop and evade them wasting a few precious seconds for them to actually see which direction the running couple turned. Still the three girls ran on followed by a dozen or more other girls.

As they reached the corner to their right and near the end of the opposite building they saw a growing cluster of people. One of the girls looked to their left but did not see any gray and red jacketed couple. The other looked back to where they came from and other than the girls who were following them, who were now hurrying to get a better view of what it was people were huddling around for, were two couples unmindful of the world around them and a few people window shopping there wasn’t any sign of the running red and gray jackets. The third one not wanting to be overtaken by the hordes of other fans following them grabbed the two girls and rushed into the crowd, now sure it was Yong Hwa they saw.

But it wasn’t Yong Hwa in the middle of the throng. It was a guerilla interview with some actress.

“But that isn’t Yong Hwa!”

“Sheesh! They escaped?”

“Am absolutely sure it was him!”

“If that couple in white couple shirts hadn’t blocked our view we would have seen more clearly where Yong Hwa and his girlfriend went!”

“Yeah! Shameless! Hugging and kissing in public like that? Is there a couple conference near here?”

“Did you see that other blue shirted couple? Did you see how blue shirted guy was holding his girlfriend?”

“You wouldn’t be surprised if you saw the face of the guy!” was all they could say as they giggled. Giving up their pursuit of Yong Hwa and his ‘”girlfriend” they turned their attention to the actress being interviewed.

*   *   *

It wasn’t until they’ve parked on a quiet area in Shin Hye’s school that they managed to look at each other and burst out laughing.

“That was a close call!” Yong Hwa, almost shouting and laughing at the same time, said.

“I know!” Shin Hye gasped. “Maybe it’s much better if we just do take out next time.” Yong Hwa’s eyes bulged in disbelief at what Shin Hye said.

“Okay I’ll order home delivery next time or better yet I’ll just go by myself next time.”

“It wasn’t really bad Shin Hye! I just don’t want you to get hurt!” Yong Hwa said. The idea of Shin Hye eating Myeongdong noodles all by herself didn’t sound quite right in his ears.

“That was very ingenuous what you did back there!” He said rather proudly. “In fact if I could turn back time, there is only one thing that I would change about what happened to us!”

“It was, wasn’t it?” Shin Hye gave her wide impish smile like a little kid who has been caught with her hands inside the cookie jar, then she frowned and said, “you would change what?”

*   *   *

Just before they ran Shin Hye told Yong Hwa to remove his jacket as soon as they turned the corner and he did. Speed was very crucial but they had luck too and most importantly “presence of mind”. It was luck that when they removed their jackets, they found that they have the same white V-necked shirt on, luck that Shin Hye had in her bag the two red baseball caps that her fans club has just sent her, luck that she brought, though it was Yong Hwa who carried and had slung it on his shoulder, her big messenger bag that was big enough to fit and hide their jackets in. It was a tribute however to their presence of mind and degree of closeness everything that came after.

As soon as Yong Hwa and Shin Hye turned the corner they stopped running, took off their jackets and stuffed them inside the bag then they took out and wore the baseball caps. Just as they were about to walk back to the corner where they came from and cross the street  they heard the sound of running steps of what sounded like a good number of people and not a few calling “Yong Hwa oppa”. There was not enough time to reach the corner before the fans did so Yong Hwa backed Shin Hye on to the wall. With his elbow propped on the wall near Shin Hye’s ear, his other hand on Shin Hye’s lower back, Yong Hwa’s body shielded Shin Hye from the oncoming rush of people then had enough foresight to lean his head towards the opposite side as to block the view on that side so it looks as though he was kissing her. The running girls would stop and side step as they reached them, nary giving them a glance. But when the girls on the tail end started to slow and not a few were looking around, Shin Hye got anxious that Yong Hwa’s cover might not be enough so without any hesitation she slowly moved her arms up, crossed her wrists behind his head and tilted her head towards the opposite side further cementing their kissing pose.

“Nice cover huh?” Shin Hye smiled as she whispered belatedly realizing her lips were a little less than an inch from Yong Hwa’s then her eyelids started to flutter, a habit of Shin Hye when she’s embarrassed over something.

“We’re both geniuses!” Yong Hwa agreed and saw too clearly the discomfort Shin Hye was in. “And, you know you need not be scared of me so why are you doing that?” Yong Hwa smirked.

It was hard enough to control their breathing with the suspense of being surrounded by unsuspecting fans passing by a few feet away from them but to have someone this close wasn’t something common with Shin Hye, well save for the three other ANJells and some good friends. She freezes in her kissing scenes, the only exception being the Goong S kiss that her character had to initiate.

“Just because!” Shin Hye replied. “So you’re saying I need not be scared of you because you’re never going to kiss me?”

“Not unless you want me to! Why? Do you want me to?” Yong Hwa looked at her closely as he answered, a sly smile playing on his lips, one eyebrow raising. Suddenly they were conscious of how close they were, of how warm and minty their breaths were on their cheeks and lips even if it had hints of the soup that they just had mingled with their breath fresheners, of how idyllic their pose seemed to be. In fact, it had a sensation of a deja vu for Shin Hye but she can’t seem to remember when this same scene has happened.

“Pabo-ya!” Shin Hye uttered quickly then seeing that the girls have all but dismissed their presence she leisurely took her arms off Yong Hwa’s neck and hooked one arm around his waist as Yong Hwa quite naturally draped his arm around Shin Hye’s shoulder and as they turned to face the corner getting ready to cross the road and go to their car. “So we’re having a five to ten minute acting workshop now, right?” Shin Hye asked.

“Uh huh! In a way, yeah!” Yong Hwa quietly replied, “Why?” Wondering what Shin Hye was thinking about he was surprised when Shin Hye leaned her head on his shoulder and tilted her face up to look up at Yong Hwa, which she had to exaggerated a bit what with the baseball cap’s visor blocking her view, then sweetly, talking as softly as she can, so Yong Hwa had to look on at her straight on, she said, “Now Jagi never ever forget your promise okay?” Then she made a face and added, “We really should be going now right? Pali-pali?”

*   *   *

So what are you going to change about today? Shin Hye curiously asked.

“Hm… I should have borrowed the white tinted car instead of this blue clear one!”

“That’s it?” Shin Hye said a smile starting to spread on her face.

“Yeah it would have  matched to our shirts!” Yong Hwa said so seriously and smiled right back.

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