Jiyong

[REQUESTED] Jiyong’s old interview trans: sheilaxjung

You can watch the video when he’s being interviewed in here

video credit : Silver G1 (on youtube)

I = Interviewer

J : Jiyong

I : Finally we meet the one whom we missed a lot. Hi, Ko Jiyong

J : Hello

I : Nice to meet you

J : As you can see, I lost so much weight and I also didn’t dye my hair. I don’t know if I look nice or not but I try to look nice

I : How have you been?

J : I travelled a lot, I practiced acting and I also met my schoolmates and my hometown friends whom I didn’t get to meet for so long

J : Both acting and singing are hard. Even though I haven’t properly acted, as I keep learning, it does make me think that it’s a hard thing to do. Until now, I haven’t got the hang of it

J : I don’t have the confidence for it now, but I want to try a crying acting. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a man but I found a charismatic actor is really cool. Such as Ahn Seunggi, Park Jungwoo and Jung Woosung

I : All Sechskies members have appeared in so many shows. Is there any reason why you came appeared way later than them?

J : I want to appear once I’m prepared for it, hoping for a good result

I : How do you feel while recording for Kang Sunghoon’s album?

J : First of all, us in a recording room together has been so long. It’s almost 2 years. It was really refreshing. During the recording for Sechskies’ 2nd album was so hard, we were only high-schoolers back then

I : Do you keep touch with other Sechskies members?

J : We keep in touch even though we didn’t get to meet each other a lot after we disbanded, since we have other things to do.

I : Do they tell you what are they up to?

J : I don’t really know the details of what Jaejin hyung is doing yet. Jiwon hyung and Sunghoon are promoting as a solo. Suwon and Jaeduk hyung are promoting as a duo

I : We got an information that you’re filming a mini series, your fans were so excited but there was a problem caused the filming to be cancelled. What happened?

J : I was almost to be casted on a mini-series. It’s because I feel like the characters didn’t match me so I gave it up. I need more time to practice acting.

I : You were active as an internet jockey. Can you explain what kind of program is it?

J : First of all, it’s a law program aired on channel O. Since i’m originally close with Kwon Hyunggi (lawyer) and the deputy head so I ended up working with them.

I : it must’ve been hard to do that kind of program. Did you experience any hard things?

J : of course. Since I know nothing about law. I also had a hard time trying to understand difficult words. But I learned a lot in short times. From a person who doesn’t know anything about law now I now a little bit about it. I used to talk really fast but now I talk more slowly. Since I talked too fast, I made a lot of mistakes (NG) during filming. I thought “ah before I learned anything, I have to fix this first”. It’s been a huge help for me.

I : Eun Jiwon laughed when he knew about you were doing a law program

J : i think it’s natural for him to do that. Even my sister, family and my friends all laughed at me. So I kinda expected Jiwon hyung to do the same

I : Kim Jaeduk was asked about how he feels seeing Eun Jiwon performing as a solo. And he answered that Eun Jiwon looks lonely

J : I also felt the same when I saw Jiwon hyung’s first stage but as I keep watching his performance, I thought that he’s cool

I : Kang Sunghoon is also performing a solo with different genre compared to Sechskies used to had. He transformed into a ballad singer. What do you think of him?

J : During Sechskies’ days, he’s known to be the cute and bright one. So, when he sings ballad songs, I thought “he’s all grown up now”

I : Please send Kang Sunghoon a video message, thinking that he’s watching the show

J : Sunghoon-ah, it’s been so long. Calling your name has also been so long. We’ve known each other and been friends for 12 years already since we’ve met during 3rd grade. Anyway, seeing you doing well while performing a solo makes me proud and feels good. So, let’s work harder in the future. I wish you to be Kang Sunghoon who shines brighter as a solo

I : Have you ever had the thought of wanting to stand on stage again as a singer?

J : Of course I’m reminded with the memories from old days. But I don’t have that kind of thought for now.

I : It’s for now. But we don’t know what will happen in the future

J : I don’t know but i don’t think I’ll ever do that again, most likely.

I : Please tell us your activities plan in the future

J : First of all, I’ll study harder in acting. Until I think that I’m prepared enough, I’ll keep practicing. I don’t know whether a drama or movie will be the start but since my wish is a movie so I hope it comes true.

I : Can you at least tell us around what time will we expect your first work?

J : I think it’ll probably be around next year

I : Okay last one, please greet your beloved fans and our viewers.

J : It’s nice to see you all after so long. I’ll be Jiyong who works hard in other side of entertainment industry. I hope you all support me

I : Thank you so much. I wish you to be a cool actor

Translated by @sheilaxjung

Take it out with full credit

Advertisements

Ichon-dong Boys

clipboard0-tile.jpgclipboard4-tile.jpg

Then vs Now: Ichon-dong Boys

Before Sunghoon moved to Hawaii, he lived in Dongbu Ichon-dong. Jiyong was one of his childhood friends- they went to same elementary and middle school together. When Sunghoon came back to Korea to become a singer, Jiyong asked Sunghoon if he could join.

Volume I: JiYong’s Story: Ghost Lover By Clair

IMG_1897-jiyong.jpg

  • a Jiyong fanfic
  • Volume I of Sechs Kies Volume Stories
  • completed

“Shit, so they are coming back today, aren’t they? Oh, hell with them!” JiYong thought to himself. He got so mad whenever he thought about them two; his ex-girlfriend and her new lover. Then he started reminiscing about the good ol’ days;

“Haha! You are so cute, Ji Yong! So sexy, too~ your long neck and seducing eyes are just one of a kind… I love you so much!”

KimYoona was her name. He met her back in his freshman year in YeonSe University… he had fallen in love with her immediately. He was surprised when he asked her out and she easily said yes… and since then, they had been going out for 2 years. He loved her with all his heart, and had no doubt in mind that she loved him too. Until a month ago…

“It’s over.”

“If you’d give me an understandable reason as to why you are trying to…”

“I told you, I’m just sick of you, that’s all.”

That was the end of their brief conversation back then, but he soon found out why she dumped him. For KangSungHoon. The most perfect guy who attended YeonSe. KangSungHoon possessed all of the big 3’s: looks, brain, and most of all, money. Yoona had always been materialistic, and JiYong just wasn’t rich enough to satisfy her extravagance. Yet he still loved her. What a fool he had been! The worst of all was that SungHoon had been his friend for a long time, ever since they were little. Not necessarily a best friend as they grew apart in time, but still fairly close. It was such a shock.

JiYong had heard that for their 1 month anniversary (snort*), they had gone traveling to Chejudo; the place JiYong always wanted to visit with Yoona someday. He got so pissed off when he heard that news, so he decided to take a trip of his own; to wherever destination.

He eventually ended up in InChun City. He sat by a lake by the designated traveler’s course and was cussing the two people out. It was getting dark. But he didn’t want to go back to his motel. So he got out a cigarrette, lit it up, and started smoking, trying to just forget about the whole thing. Today is the day they are coming back, damn it!

Suddenly, a voice approached him from behind and yelled, “Yaaaaah!!!!!” JiYong almost dropped his cigarrette due to the shock. “What in the world…” JiYong turned around to see who it was…surprisingly, it was a girl. A freakin’ girl!!

“This is my spot!! What are you doing here?!” the girl exclaimed.

“Ya?!?! Who the hell are you calling, ‘Ya?!’ How old are you, dear child?” he said half-jokingly, half serious.

“18, and why do you care? This is my spot, so get off now!”

“Ohhohoho!! 18, you say? You wanna know how old I am, little one? I’m a junior. That makes me…hmmm… oh, 21. 3 freakin’ years older than you! And you call me ‘ya’?!?!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, ahjuhsee!” the girl said, smiling.

“Wh—what did you just call me? Ah-ju-see?!?! I’m such a young oppa, can’t you tell?!” said JiYong with somewhat shocked tone.

“Anyways, this is my spot,” said the girl, ignoring his question. “and I don’t know about you, but I urge you to move if you might…”

“What do you mean, this is your spot? I came here first, I sat here first, and just as when I was about to smoke in peace, you scare me like that from behind calling me “ya” and now you claim that this is your spot? Sheesh, so rude of you!”

“Fine, fine!” the girl finally gave up. “You can sit there if you really have a burning desire for that spot.” then she sat down next to him, sighing.

“What are you doing out here in this hour?” questioned JiYong. “You know, it’s pretty dangerous for a girl to be out so late…” as he was talking, he threw his cigarrette in trash can.

“It doesn’t really matter.” the girl replied quietly. JiYong sensed somewhat odd air around her; not necessarily a bad or an evil one, but it was peculiar. The girl continued, “Why do you smoke? It’s bad for you.”

“I know what I’m doing, besides it’s legal to smoke at age 21. It helps to smoke whenever I’m under a stress, which I am everyday.” he chuckled.

“21… you are so lucky. You are out of high school already… you don’t have to go through everyday of your life studying for entrance exams… so lucky. I envy you sooo much!” She looked really sad at that moment she talked… JiYong quickly studied her face in the dark. It was fine-figured, delicate and even pretty. Somewhat different from Yoona, with more innocence. Of course, she was younger than Yoona; only 18. She had a long, curly hair that went down halfway to her back, noticeably dark brown. JiYong just assumed that it was dyed.

“Haha. I had to go through so much studying as well. That’s how I ended up getting into YeonSe”

“You go to YeonSe?” Her eyes widened. “It’s so hard to get in, I heard. My mom wants me to go there, I don’t think I can though.”

“Sure you can! You are what, a senior? You still have a few months till November. Just study hard until then, you’ll do fine.” encouraged JiYong.

“I doubt that. I don’t have a chance, and I really do mean it. By the way, what’s your name?”

“GoJiYong. What’s yours?”

“MinJu. KimMinJu.”

“Hmm, that’s a cute name.” complimented JiYong.

“If you go to YeonSe Univ., you must be living in Seoul. What are you doing in InChun then?” asked MinJu.

“Oh, some reasons.”

“What reasons?”

“God, you are so inquisitive to a stranger!” snapped JiYong, kinda annoyed.

“Oh, I’m sorry, JiYong oppa.” she apologized politely, which made JiYong feel bad about what he had just said. “Fine, I’ll tell you. I had a girlfriend, and she dumped me about a month ago. She went to a better guy for money, and they went off traveling to Chejudo. Today is the day they are coming back, and I didn’t want to stay in Seoul to see that. That’s why I’m down here.”

“Did you….. did you love her?” said MinJu, aware of possibility that asking such question might hurt his feeling.

JiYong hesitated to answer. After a few seconds of silence, he reluctantly answered, “Yes.”

“God, what are you doing here then?” she said as she got up.

JiYong’s eyes grew wide, surprised.”What do you mean?”

“I mean, don’t you want to get them back? That… that… woman who dumped you and her man?” asked MinJu.

“Sure I do!” He stood up as well. “But how?”

“Here’s a plan, oppa. I’ll pretend that I’m your new girlfriend.”

Shocked, JiYong quickly butt in, “Wha….what~???”

“Hey, listen. Just hear me out!” MinJu cut him off and continued, “Like I said, I’ll pretend to be your new girlfriend, and let’s all go meet them two in Seoul tonight. It doesn’t take very long to get there, does it?”

“Two hours max,” answered JiYong.

“Anyways, if we act like we really like each other, the girl who dumped you might get jealous. Thus her guy would feel kind of weird, seeing her getting jealous and all… perfect plan! Ain’t it?” said MinJu, excited.

“Just one question, though. What makes you think you can pretend to be my girlfriend? I have a better taste than that!” said JiYong jokingly.

“Oh, how brutal of you to say that! Look at my gorgeous figure, you idiot! Long hair, large sang-guh-pool, white and clean skin… what more can you want?” replied MinJu, also in a joking manner.

“HaHaHa! You have a major gong-ju-byung, you know that? Oh, what the heck! I like your idea. Just for one night, though, right?”

“Of course! I wouldn’t go out with a guy like you anyway,” said MinJu, sticking her tongue out.

“All right. Let’s go, then.” JiYong started walking.

“Wait, oppa! Dressed like this? Let’s go shopping first…” She had a white shirt with pink shorts on.. not very appropriate to shock Yoona, was it? JiYong thought to himself.

“Fine, fine!” JiYong and MinJu started walking together. JiYong had a feeling that this was going to be an unusual night.

Part II

They were clothes shopping. While MinJu was trying her outfit on in the dressing room, JiYong had called his friends to meet at the night club they always went, around 11 pm. He also had one of his friends, SuWon, to call Yoona and KangSungHoon to come as well.

“For real?!!! Why would you want them to come? Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine, SuWon. Don’t ask anything for now and just tell them to show up around 11, okay?” When he ended his conversation over the phone with SuWon, he glanced at his watch; it was quarter till 8. They had plenty of time. As he sighed lightly, the door opened and MinJu came out of the dressing room.

For a moment, he was stunned… he couldn’t get his eyes off her. She was gorgeous, wow! She had just put on a black slip dress. It was pretty short and went up to half way above her knees. Nothing fancy, but why did she look so beatiful in it? Suddenly, the level of sophistication seemed to have risen when she put the dress on. Even Yoona wasn’t as pretty in such outfit.

“Well, what do you think?” asked MinJu, smiling shyly.

“Hmm~ not bad. At least you have some figure there,” JiYong knew that he wanted to say more, but he decided not to. “So, ready to go now?”

“Yeah! You know, I’m so happy. I’ve always wanted to wear this,” when she said that, JiYong once again sensed the air of sadness around her. How odd, he thought to himself.

JiYong paid for her clothes and they took off in his car. Approximately after 2 and a half hours, they arrived to their destination…. JiYong’s favorite night club in downtown, Seoul! This was the place he always came to with Yoona and with his other close friends, SuWon, JaeJin, and JaeDuc. But nowhe was here with some other girl… a stranger he had just met in the afternoon.

He felt somewhat strange around her, but that was okay. All he wanted was to get back at Yoona and SungHoon who took her away from him.

They arrived just on time. His friends had been waiting for him already inside the club.

“Hey! Yu-gi-ya!” waived SuWon as he saw him coming.

“He’s with a… a.. girl!!” JaeDuc whispered to JaeJin… all 3 of them were in shock. It’s only been a month since JiYong got dumped, he found a new girl already?

“Hi! Sup, y’all?” JiYong lightly patted each one’s back and started introducing MinJu to his friends.

“MinJu, this is JangSuWon, my best friend. He’s kinda shy so you’ll need to work hard to get him talk.” as MinJu heard JiYong say that, she smiled to herself.

“Hey, now. That’s really not a nice PR of me, is it JiYong?” said SuWon, laughing.

“Whateva. ‘Tis true so thou shalt not deny the truth. Anyways, MinJu, JaeDuc hyung is a year older than me, he is da BOMB dancer!! You have to see him dance tonight. JaeJin hyung is also a year older than me, and he is very quiet. But he goes crazy on the dance floors.”

“Both of them?” questioned MinJu, as she was pointing at both JaeJin and JaeDuc.

“Well, at least JaeJin doesn’t always go crazy like I do, just on the dance floors. So betta watch out!” JaeDuc replied with a cute smile. MinJu started really liking all of JiYong’s friends.

“Okay, this is KimMinJu, the girl I met in InChun sometime… a while ago,” he stumbled as he winked at MinJu.

“So, is MinJu your new girlfriend~?” asked JaeDuc, also smiling this time.

“Yes, of course! Isn’t she so pretty?” JiYong replied, feeling proud. So proud that he actually wished that she’d be his real girlfriend. “She is really different. Doesn’t she look so… I dunno. It’s hard to describe.”

“So young and gorgeous?” MinJu cut in, smiling. Everyone started laughing.

“Now that you’ve mentioned it, you do look kinda young; how old are ya, MinJu?” JaeJin finally broke his silence and asked MinJu.

“Oh, I’m 18.”

“18?!” SuWon’s eyes grew big. “That’s kinda young to be in here… oh, wellz. I guess they didn’t notice. Who passed you guys in, JiYong?”

“Of course, our favorite waiter.” JiYong chuckled lightly as he answered SuWon’s question.

“Oh, you mean JiWonee hyung did?” said JaeDuc. “So, MinJu. You must still be in high school then, right?” continued JaeDuc, more in a teasing manner.

“Well, yeah. Why, is that bad?”

“No, of course not! Not that it’s bad or anything…” JaeDuc’s voice kind of trailed off.

“Anyways, why aren’t they coming? Yoona and SungHoonee…” curious, JiYong looked around. “Oh, there they come!”

“It’s them?” MinJu, as she poked JiYong, starred at them and gave Yoona a long, dirty look before she could notice.

“Ya! Yugidaeeeee!!” JaeDuc yelled, rather in a funny feminine voice.

“Oh, hi, hyung!” SungHoon was the first one to speak, as Yoona followed him from behind. “And SuWon, and JaeJin hyung…. and JiYong!” he awkwardly said hi to JiYong.

JiYong gave him a cold stare for a while, and finally spoke. “Hi. Hi there, Yoona!”

“Oh, hello.” replied Yoona, and right then, she noticed MinJu.

“And she is…”

“Hi! I’m MinJu. I heard a lot about you from JiYong oppa.” MinJu introduced herself to Yoona.

“Oh, really?” said Yoona, surprised.

“Well, it doesn’t really matter now, since I’m his girlfriend. He’s so nice. And so funny, too! I’m so lucky to have someone like him.” said MinJu.

“Okay, enuf chattin’, now.” SungHoon broke in. “Hi, I’m KangSungHoon, nice to meet you.”

A waiter approached just that moment. “Ready to order, you guys?”

“JiWonee hyung~ hi!!” SuWon greeted EunJiWon, the waiter.

“Hmm, interesting. All of us are here now. SuWonee, JaeJinee, Ducee, JiYongee, and SungHoonee!! Hi, y’all! Hello, Yoona.” said JiWon.

“Hi, JiWon oppa. How are ya?”

“Oh, I’m fine. And who is this lovely lady here?! JiYong came in with her, is she your girlfriend, JiYong?”

“Why, yes! Her name is MinJu.” replied JiYong.

“Nice to meet you, MinJu. I’m EunJiWon. As you can see, I’m a waiter here.”

“Okay, let’s order now, ” Yoona cut in, trying to get the attention off of MinJu. But it seemed to fail, as JiWon and others were just way into this fascinating new girl. She started hating MinJu already.

Part III

Everyone at the club seemed to be in their own world. JaeDuc had dominated the entire stage and was break dancing and such. JaeJin really did go crazy on the dancing floor. He was completely out of control, and he wasn’t even drunk! His body moved like water and people were just so amazed. JiWon was busy serving other guests. SungHoon and SuWon were standing and just chatting. The other 3, Yoona, JiYong, and MinJu, were still sitting at the table. JaeDuc and JaeJin came back to the table after the song PomSangPomSa was over. SuWon and SungHoon were still out there standing, talking. Not important stuff.

“Whew~! That was fun. MinJu, why aren’t you going on the floor? It’s so much fun!” said JaeDuc, breathing hard and sweating.

“Oh, I just feel like not dancing tonight. I’ll later, though. No worries!”

JaeJin sat down across from MinJu. “Umm… if you are still in high school, how did you get to dye your hair so brown, not to mention growing it out?” questioned JaeJin.

“Oh, no!! It’s not dyed at all. It’s naturally curly like this, and brown, too. Why, does it look fake? Check out my roots, they are not black at all. See?”

“Cool~ it’s natural?” said JiYong.

“Of course. Unlike someone who has her hair permed, ” MinJu was pertaining to Yoona, who had her hair permed. The dirty looks were exchanged between MinJu and Yoona, until the song came out.

“Oh, it’s my favorite song, “LOVE.” Would you like to dance, MinJu?” asked JiYong shyly.

“Sure.” MinJu took his hand and went out to the floor. SungHoon came back and asked Yoona to dance with him as well.

Yoona noticed that as she and SungHoon were dancing, SungHoon kept on glancing at MinJu.”What are you starring at like that?” asked Yoona, very annoyed.

“Oh, nuthin’.” replied SungHoon, keeping his eyes off MinJu finally. It was then Yoona who started starring at JiYong and MinJu. JiYong seemed so happy, she thought to herself. Happier than she’s ever seen of him.

“Yoona is keep on looking at you, oppa.” whispered MinJu in JiYong’s ears.

“I don’t care.” replied JiYong, and he really did mean that. As long as he was dancing with MinJu, with his arms around her waist and smelling her curly and brown hair, he could just forget Yoona forever.

“It seems like you got her back, doesn’t it?” smiled MinJu.

“She’s still looking at you….”

When everything was over, the two couples came back to their table where SuWon, JaeDuc, and JaeJin were waiting.

“So did you two have fun?” slyly, JaeDuc started teasing.

“Yeah! I’ve never had this much fun in my life. The best birthday I’ve ever had!” exclaimed MinJu.

“What, today is your birthday? Why didn’t you tell me so earlier?” JiYong, very surprised, was kind of unhappy that she didn’t tell him earlier.

“Oh, I’m sorry oppa. I guess I forgot.”

“Well, then.” said SuWon. “Shall we sing?”

“Yeah! Get JiWonee hyung, to take a picture for us!” JaeJin was now excited.

They sang for MinJu, wishing her happy birthday. JiWon gathered them together and tried to take a picture.

“I don’t wanna be in it” said Yoona. What a witch, MinJu thought. “Come on, SungHoon. Let’s go home.”

“Umm. okay, ” said SungHoon, reluctantly.

“It’s been nice seeing you again, all of you, and JiYong. Nice meeting you MinJu.” Yoona left her fianl words and left the club with SungHoon.

“What a brat she is, still. Hasn’t changed a bit!” a bit irritated, JiWon made a sarcastic remark.

“Okay, then. Hyung, still take a picture of us, will ya?”

“Sure, JiYong. After all, she’s your girlfriend….. okay, one, two, three! Cheese!!!”

Part IV (Final)

JiYong had driven all the way to InChun, to drop MinJu off.

“MinJu, it’s quite late. 4 am, wouldn’t your parents get mad?”

“Not really. They wouldn’t know.”

“Oh, good!” JiYong chuckled. They arrived at MinJu’s house.

“Oppa, I just wanna say… thanks for everything. I really enjoyed tonight. I’ve always wanted to do many things, like wearing a dress I’m wearing right now, and going to the night club. I’m really happy.”

“You have plenty of years ahead of you to do more fun stuff, you know.”

“Do I?” suddenly, a sad smile of hers was again on her face. JiYong felt terrible to see that, for whatever reason.

“I’m really happy, I also wanted to have a boyfriend when I grew up.”

“Now you have me!” as JiYong said contently, MinJu returned with her happysmile.

“Can you… can you like me?” asked MinJu abruptly. JiYong was kind of surprised that she asked him. He was afraid that if he said no, it’d hurt her feelings. Besides, he was already starting to like her.

He answered, “Yes.” and he gently kissed her forward.

MinJu got out of JiYong’s car and waived him good bye. As he was turning his keys to start the car, he rolled down the window and yelled, “When can I see you again, MinJu?”

MinJu hesitated to answer, then said, “Tomorrow, by the lake we met today, I guess.”

“Okay, then. See ya!” He looked away for a second to roll the window back. He looked up again, and MinJu was gone already.

“Strange…” thought JiYong, for he didn’t hear the door open and close.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The next day, JiYong was very excited, getting ready to see MinJu again. He went down by the lake and sat at the spot she claimed to be hers. Then he thought about the phone call he received from SuWon…..

“JiYong, it’s very weird. The picture JiWonee hyung took for us, the one with me, JaeJinee hyung, JaeDucee hyung, and you and MinJu in it, JiWonee hyung got it developed and MinJu wasn’t in it! Isn’t that weird?”

One hour passed. MinJu didn’t show up yet. Two hours had gone by, then three, then four.

JiYong sat by the lake half the day, waiting for MinJu to come. But she didn’t come. So JiYong decided to check her house to see if she was still there. As he was about to get up, the couple people walking by, having a conversation, caught his attention.

“You know that girl, what was her name, KimMinJu?” said a man.

“Sure I do. It was such a shame, the way she died. Why, was it because her mom pressured her so much with college and stuff? The poor girl couldn’t take it anymore… she was so smart, too!”

“Yup, but she just had to kill herself. Whenever I walk by this lake, I always think of her. She drowned herself to death… tsk, tsk, tsk.”

“Hmm, it was her birthday yesterday. She killed herself on her birthday.”

JiYong was so shocked. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard. But then again, it all came back to him, the things she said:

“I don’t have a chance to go to YeonSe…” “I’ve always wanted to go to night club, have a boyfriend, wear this dress…” “I’ve never been this happy in my life!”

Then he thought about what striked him the most, what SuWon had told him over the phone.

“MinJu wasn’t in the picture.”

Finally realizing an odd air around MinJu he had noticed, he got up and started heading back to his motel. He stopped and turned back, starring at the spot he was sitting at, the one MinJu claimed to be hers. Now he understood why. He started walking again, very slowly. A tear was rolling down his cheek. This was the first time he ever cried.

-The End-

My Summer in Love by: SeChsKieS Gurl

my summer in love.png

  • a Jiyong & Hoony fanfic
  • completed

PROLOGUE

It was a funny summer. You know…with Sunghoon and all… Looking back in retrospect, I’m kinda glad he’s more of a loud mouth and has more wangja byung spirit in him than I do.

You all realize that he’s a womanizer, still is…but after that one unfortunate summer…I think he has learned his lesson…

Me, I know I did. And I’m glad it wasn’t me my second cousin wanted. Otherwise…I’d be going through hell, in Sunghoon’s shoes…

Don’t get me wrong, Sunghoon is my best friend, of course I wouldn’t taunt him like we used to when we were younger. But still…to this day, I just like to laugh in his face about the great role switch and how he had landed himself in such a messy marriage…

Ahhh….it was funny…and now, time for you to laugh.

CHAPTER 1

“Jiyong, Jiyong! Tell me again! Are your cousins cute?!” Sunghoon shouted, blocking Jiyong’s path.

“Yessssss,” Jiyong hissed. “But I dunno and they’re not my cousins for the fifteenth million time!”

“But you call them your cousins!” Sunghoon protested.

“And I call you hyung! Does that automatically make you my brother?”

Sunghoon stared at Jiyong, not quite sure of how to answer.

“Move it, shrimp. Besides, I dunno how they look like. I haven’t seen them since I was only three months old!”

“Three months?! Wow! You actually opened your eyes and saw them when you were three months?! Aren’t all of them younger than you?” Sunghoon asked dumbly.

Jiyong shook his head in despair. “Look, do me a favor and SHUT UP! It’s bad enough you’re tagging along and now you won’t let me do my shopping. What am I gonna wear when I get there?!”

“Don’t you already have clothes?! You don’t make any sense! Why can’t you go with the clothes you have now?!”

“Does this look give you an impression that I’m my dad’s son?! Do I look professional enough? Do I look like I’m the President of my father’s company? And you! Tell me what do you look like!”

“I look like me! Kang Sunghoonie!” Sunghoon declared. “A fooooine honey!”

“Please, don’t drool all over yourself. I dunno what made me give you that job and not Jiwon.”

“Are you saying I’m not organized?!” Sunghoon shrieked, unaware of his voice level. “So…it has finally come out! You bastard!”

Jiyong moaned. Sunghoon was always difficult, even when they were growing up. “Can we just get moving? You know if you stand there too long, you’re gonna turn into a statue?”

Sunghoon placed his hands on his waist and walked away, heading towards the mall.

“Wangja dul…” Jiyong muttered, hurrying to catch up with Sunghoon.

====================

“Oh! Can you believe it?! Jiyong oppa’s gonna be here tomorrow!” Miyoon squealed, dancing around the living room.

“Oh, grow up!” Kiyoon growled with disgust. “What makes you think he would want your horny ass?”

Miyoon halted and turned to her younger sister. “What did you just say?!”

“You’ll never get any. He’ll be too good for the looks of you,” Kiyoon sneered. “Besides, he is coming with his secretary.”

“Oh, be quiet! You’re just jealous because you’re not as fashionable and cute like me! Why don’t you just go kiss it!”

“WHAT?!” Kiyoon shouted. She bolted from the couch, ready to tackle Miyoon. “Now I know I didn’t just hear you say – ”

“Kiss mah aaaahhhhssssssss,” Miyoon drawled, an evil smile plastered on her face.

“You monkey!” Kiyoon lunged at Miyoon, knocking her down to the floor.

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! H-Help! Jiyooooooon!” Miyoon wailed, trying to scratch Kiyoon.

But Kiyoon was too strong. She sat on top of Miyoon and began picking at her sister’s hair, messing up the perfect curls that sat in a pile on her head.

“Get off! Get off, you man!” Miyoon screamed. “AAAAAAHHHHHH! My hair! My hair!”

“Kiyoon! Kiyoon!” Jiyoon shouted, entering the living room. She ran over and dragged her youngest sister off Miyoon, annoyed at the two for fighting again.

“Lemme have her! That monkey ass!” Kiyoon spat, struggling with Jiyoon.

“KIYOON!” Jiyoon yelled at her. “Stop! Miyoon’s your unni, she’s not no next door neighbor!”

“Huh! It’ll be worse if she was, I’ll be sure to kill her and have her running back to Mommeeeeeeeeee,” Kiyoon taunted, making a face at Miyoon.

“Stop it! Why can’t the both of you get along?! Miyoon! You! You’re older, why can’t you just ignore her?! Why can’t you just set an example!? You know she’s not like average girls! This one likes to fight!” Jiyoon shrilled.

“So does that crazy bitch,” Kiyoon murmured, looking up at the ceiling.

By that time, Miyoon was already up on her feet. “Say what?”

Kiyoon continued about, her eyes roaming around the room.

“What did you just say, you transexual?!”

“Are you hard headed?! Did you just hear what I said?! I told you two to stop!!!” Jiyoon screamed on top of her lungs.

“Oh, unni. No need to waste your time with her. She’s just retarded like that. Come, let’s go fix something to eat,” Kiyoon soothed. She led Jiyoon away to the kitchen and stuck her tongue out at Miyoon.

“ARRRRGH! Cho Kiyoon, when Jiyong gets here, you’ll see he’ll want only ME!”

CHAPTER 2

“Jiyong ah…”

“Oma, don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Plus I have Sunghoon with me!”

“That’s why I can’t stop worrying. You two are going to get in trouble…I just know it.”

“Oh, Mom! We’ll be fine! Seriously! We won’t cause any trouble while we’re over there!” Jiyong vowed.

“That’s good. Here’s the address to their home. Now, remember…be courteous to the girls. I don’t want you two to be pulling stunts on them like you’ve been doing to both of your sisters.”

Jiyong sighed. “Of course! I dunno them, why would I do anything to them?”

“That’s beside the point. You two are mischievous little things, still little boys inside those bodies. I’ll never know what you two are up to.”

“Don’t worry, Oma. If anything happens, Sunghoon will be the first one to start it.”

“Hmm…”

Jiyong moved closer to his mother. “I’ll promise you, if we did something to embarrass you, we’ll shave off Sunghoon’s hair. That should be fair enough.”

Mrs. Ko chuckled at the sacrifice, holding her son one last time before the he leaves her. For good.

CHAPTER 3

Sunghoon sprayed himself one last time with his Tommy cologne and placed the bottle in his bag. Smiling contently to himself, he gave a slight nod to his reflection in the mirror and fingered with his hair one final time.

The ride to the airport arrived downstairs, Sunghoon rushed downstairs to open the door to his apartment, a silly grin already on his face.

“Oh, God. You’re beginning to look retarded already,” Jiyong greeted, helping Sunghoon with his luggage.

“Heh…I feel so excited!” Sunghoon squealed like a child, his eyes bright.

“Are you sure it’s not the girls? I hope you won’t act stupid, cuz my mom’s in the car with us.”

“WHAT?!” Sunghoon nearly screamed. “She’s coming with us?!”

Jiyong quickly nodded, a scheme beginning to play in his mind. “Yeah – ”

“You never told me that!” Sunghoon accused, his eyes wild.

“Just c’mon! You act as if my mom would be interested in you!”

“But — ”

“Don’t be shy! You know my mom! She even changed your diaper when we were babies! C’mon!”

Sunghoon reluctantly followed Jiyong out, his hopes sinking. “Man, this is gonna stink.”

====================

“Well, I hope you girls go to bed early. Your cousin’s gonna be in tomorrow,” Chaeya informed.

“He’s not our cousin, why do you guys keep saying that?!” Kiyoon demanded.

“Because…well, he’s sorta related to us in a way,” Chaeya’s husband said weakly.

“In what way?” Kiyoon asked.

Jiyoon nudged at her youngest sister.

Kiyoon pushed Jiyoon away. “Well?”

“Why do you want to know so much? I thought you weren’t into boys,” Miyoon sneered.

“You’re right. I’m not into boys, MEN are more of my taste,” Kiyoon retorted.

“You!” Miyoon’s eyes reflected defeat as her face scrunched up with anger.

“That’s enough,” their father said wearily. “Go to bed, so you three can wake up early and go to the airport.”

Miyoon tossed her hair back and stormed off to her room.

“Appa…Oma…” Jiyoon started, toying with her fingers.

“Yes, darling?” Chaeya prompted.

“I…I was wondering…”

“It’s Jaejin, isn’t it?” Chaeya guessed.

Jiyoon nodded. Kiyoon stood by her eldest sister, awaiting the verdict.

Chaeya sighed. “Well?”

Kiyoon squeezed Jiyoon’s arm, hope for her sister rising off the charts.

“Of course. Why don’t you invite him over and we can all have dinner together?”

A smile broke out of Jiyoon as she hugged her mother fiercely. “Thank you, Oma!”

Chaeya chuckled. “You two are always up to something.”

“Not me! That devil is,” Kiyoon answered, pointing upstairs.

====================

Sunghoon shifted uncomfortably in his seat, the thought still bothering him.

“Sunghoon.”

Sunghoon looked up. “Huh?”

“My mom’s talking to you,” Jiyong said, his eyes full of warning.

“Oh! I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”

“It’s okay. I know you’re nervous, but don’t worry. These girls are wonderful. They’re such angels. All three of them.”

“Three?!” Sunghoon hooted. He quickly glanced at Jiyong who had simply shrugged.

“Yes. Jiyoon, Miyoon and Kiyoon. Although I must say, Kiyoon’s quite a handful. She’s the two of you put together. I think she’s the son Chaeya and her husband always wanted, but instead, came out as a girl. Nevertheless, she’s still lovely.”

“Kiyoon?” Sunghoon murmured.

“Yes, she’s the youngest one. Jiyoon, the oldest and Miyoon the second. Miyoon’s a beauty. The last time I saw her, she already had her mind made up to be a model when she grows up. And Jiyoon, so well taught. She’s very shy, but knows so much.”

“Oh…” Sunghoon said softly.

“Sounds like Kiyoon’s trouble,” Jiyong assumed, resting in his seat.

“I dunno about now. Maybe not as troublesome anymore. But I’ve heard quite a lot about her from her mother.”

“Wow…a tomboy. Hey, you think she’ll be up for competition?” Sunghoon asked Jiyong.

“You can be her competition. I’ll just sit back and laugh at you two,” Jiyong replied.

The car entered the airport shortly as Sunghoon continued to chatter the rest of the way. Jiyong nodded occassionally while helping with the bags.

“I can’t believe I’m leaving home!” Sunghoon breathed, taking in the sight of the airport as if for the first time.

“I can’t believe I’m leaving Mommy,” Jiyong said sadly. He reached to hug his mother again, this time, holding on for a long time. “Bye, Oma.”

“Be good. And write. Be sure you keep Sunghoon out of trouble. Make sure he calls home!” Jiyong’s mother instructed, shooting commands one after another.

Jiyong smiled for the first time to her chiding. This’ll probably be the last time he listened to her bickering at him until…until whenever. “Bye, Mom.”

“Bye, honey,” his mother said tearfully.

Jiyong pulled away and wiped away a tear. Sunghoon pounced on Jiyong’s mother next, a sudden wave of sadness washing over him.

“Bye, Ajooma!” Sunghoon wailed. “I’m gonna miss you.”

Feeling as if Sunghoon’s her own, Mrs. Ko hugged her son’s best friend. “Be good. Make sure you call your Oma and Ajooma.”

Sunghoon nodded and squeezed tighter, feeling dreadful for leaving his family. “Bye, Ajooma.” He backed away from Jiyong’s mother and saluted, a sad smile creeping to his face.

Jiyong and Sunghoon started to drift away, trying not to look back at the entrance.

“Well, this is it. Time to test your manhood,” Jiyong said, slapping Sunghoon on the shoulder.

“Hey!” Sunghoon cried, hitting Jiyong back. “That hurted!”

Jiyong laughed and headed to the baggage area. Sunghoon trailed behind, the sudden realization striking him.

“JEEEEEYONG!”

Jiyong froze in his tracks. He quickly spun around to face Sunghoon.

“Your mother!”

Jiyong dropped his luggage and raced back.

“No, no, no! Not that! Not!” Sunghoon grabbed Jiyong’s long arm before Jiyong ran any further. “No! Listen! I meant sumthin else! Listen!”

“What?”

“Your mother! She’s not coming!” Sunghoon yelped happily.

Jiyong moaned. “Oh, God. Is that what you were excited about?”

Sunghoon nodded, the gleam returning to his eyes.

“Jeez, I should really slap you silly. For a minute there, I thought something happened to my mom.”

Sunghoon’s grin widened. “No! I’m sorry I scared you like that! You had me scared! I thought I was gonna go on the trip with your mother coming along!”

“What’s wrong with that?” Jiyong headed for his bags again, Sunghoon running to catch up.

“Nothing! I — ”

“Let’s just hurry and get this done? I really wanna sleep,” Jiyong said, cutting Sunghoon off.

With an amazing pace, they had their luggage checked out and everything had went smoothly. They soon boarded the plane, relaxing yet worrying about the events that are yet to come.

CHAPTER 4

“You think the girls will get along with them fine?” Chaeya asked, fretting over the possibility that differences will occur.

“Of course. They are, afterall, grown up. Jiyoon would probably be too busy with Jaejin, so that’s one you don’t have to worry about,” her mother answered.

“I can always trust Jiyoon. She’s not wild like the other two. I just dunno what to do when those two act up,” Chaeya emphasized, glancing at the stairs.

“Oh…” A soft chuckle. “Just don’t put them in the same room together. But you must admit, life is much more livelier with those two going at it. It’ll be too quiet if they were all like Jiyoon.”

“Oma…I dunno what to do. When it comes to kids, I’m so out of it. I just wished all three were alike!”

“Now, now…one future Doctor Jiyoon’s good enough. We don’t want to bore ourselves to death,” her mother chided. “Besides, what are you worried about? You still have me! I am their grandmother.”

“If only Kiyoon was a boy…”

“Trust me…you know in her next lifetime that will happen. But in the meantime, let’s not wish too much. I think it’s better having her the way how she is. If she was a boy…you’d die young.”

Chaeya agreed. “Oh, Oma…”

“Go rest up. Everything’ll be fine.”

“And Miyoon…”

“Like I said. Everything will be fine.”

CHAPTER 5

It was morning and Jiyong suddenly jolted out of his sleep to find the first rays of dawn beckoning down at him. Beside him, Sunghoon slept on. He tilted his head back to rest on the seat, his mind wandering aimlessly.

“No, no, no, no, no….I’m who you’re looking for. Not him…” Sunghoon murmured in his sleep.

Jiyong snickered as Sunghoon went on mumbling, the words coming out in funny gibberish. He sighed and looked out the window, bats suddenly batting around in his stomach. “Oh, God…”

He glanced at his watch, eager for the plane ride to end. He sighed again and closed his eyes, silently wishing the meeting with the Chos would go well. He tried picturing the three cousins his mother had described to him, Miyoon and Kiyoon the hardest. Jiyoon was easy. His mother had said she was gentle and shy, pretty as a flower. Kiyoon, he saw her with short cropped hair, small eyes with a rugged look. Miyoon, a sexy supermodel with long hair and fancy painted nails.

“Attention all passengers! Please fasten your seat belts, we will be landing shortly. Again, please fasten your selt belts and remain in your seats. We will be landing shortly.”

Jiyong’s eyes snapped open and lifted his head. “Sunghoon, Sunghoon!” He fastened his own seat belt and reached over to help Sunghoon with his. “Sunghoon!” He took Sunghoon by the shoulder and rattled the snoring pig.

“Whaaa?” Sunghoon drawled sleepily with his eyes half open.

“Put on your seat belt. We’re there.”

“There? Where?”

“There. We’re landing soon.”

Sunghoon’s wide awake now. “We’re there?! For real? We’re there?!”

“Don’t go jumping for joy now. Hurry, put it on.”

Sunghoon did as he was told and started to look around the plane.

“Are you always this restless in the morning? I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”

“Trust me. When you have three cuties waiting for you, you’ll bound to be restless.”

====================

Kiyoon stirred, the bright beam striking painfully to her eyes. “You…”

“Kiyoon,” Jiyoon called out softly, patting Kiyoon gently. “Kiyoon, time to wake up.”

“No…” Kiyoon answered, hiding under her covers. “No…I don’t wanna eat it. No…”

“Kiyoon,” Jiyoon tried again. “Kiyoon, Jiyong’s waiting for us at the airport.”

“Ji-Jiyong…Yeah…him…he can eat it for me. I don’t want it, Oma…”

“Kiyoon…Jiyong can’t eat it for you if we don’t go pick him up.”

“Yes, he can…We can’t pick him up. He’s too big…too fat…too…Oh, God!” Kiyoon shot up from her bed, coughing her lungs out.

“Kiyoon! Kiyoon, are you alright?!” Jiyoon shouted, reaching for her sister. She pulled Kiyoon back down to her bed, trying to soothe the choking girl.

Kiyoon brought the coughing down a bit, still trying to block out the dream. She nodded vigorously to Jiyoon’s questions, not wanting to worry her sister.

“What happened?” Jiyoon finally asked when Kiyoon simmered.

“Mom was feeding me something nasty. And then it went in my mouth,” Kiyoon said sourly.

“Hmm…how vivid,” Jiyoon murmured. “Hurry, Jiyong’s probably waiting for us.”

Kiyoon sat still, baffled by the statement. “Jiyong? Who’s — ”

“You’re forgetting — ”

“Oh! That faggot!” Kiyoon exclaimed, remembering they had to pick up their ‘cousin.’

“That’s not nice,” Jiyoon chided.

“So? Who said he was nice? I wish he’d marry Miyoon and get outta my life.”

“Life? Why you say that?”

“He takes Miyoon away from here, that way I don’t have to put up with meeting any more unrelated ‘relatives’ and live longer without Miyoon living in the next room.”

“Oh, God,” was all Jiyoon could say. Kiyoon certainly detests her second sister.

“But that’s okay. I’ll just humor everybody in this house and go along with you. Can I sit in the front?”

“Just hurry. I still have to wake Miyoon — ”

“Are you ready yet?! Jeez, I swear you’re slower than Granny!” Miyoon waltzed in Kiyoon’s room unannoucement, strong fragrance accompanying her.

“Oh, God. Did you spend a night with a real skunk?” Kiyoon asked with her nose pinched.

Miyoon nearly stumbled over her feet while making her way to Kiyoon’s bed. She quickly observed Kiyoon’s condition, thinking of a quick come back. “Looks like you had sex with one.”

“Oh, yeah. It was goooooooooooooood, babeeeeeeee,” Kiyoon retorted sarcastically.

Jiyoon stiffled a giggled behind her palm, watching Miyoon turn red as tomato.

“Wanna try?” Kiyoon jeered. “Oops! I guess you wanna save your virginity for JEEEEEEYOOOONNNNGGGG!”

Miyoon held her tightly clenched fists by her sides, not daring to throw one at Kiyoon for Kiyoon was a much better fighter than she was.

“Alright, alright…get up. Stop this nonsence. Miyoon go to the kitchen and start breakfast. Kiyoon, we’ll be downstairs waiting,” Jiyoon said.

“But I don’t wanna eat! Can we eat on the way or when we come home?!”

Kiyoon shook her head pitifully. “I thought you were smarter. Why didn’t you eat extras last night to save the embarassment? I don’t think Jiyong nor his secretary would like to see you scarfing down Mom’s deeeeeleeeeesheeeeyus cooking.”

Miyoon felt the heat rise just as Jiyoon spun around to hold her back.

“Kiyoon, stop it. Everyday, every morning, every night, you two have to be like this. Why can’t you two get along for Jiyong’s sake?”

“Why should I kiss his ass? He’s the one living here. I’m one of the permanent residents here, so why should I do anything for his sake?”

“Kiyoon, stop being difficult.”

“Yeah, grow up,” Miyoon mimicked, her voice a notch squeakier.

“I’m already four inches taller than you, I think you’re the one that needs the milk, not me,” Kiyoon retorted, rolling off her bed. She quickly made her bed and shooed Jiyoon and Miyoon out. “If I catch any of you — ”

“Kiyoon’s a transexual!” Miyoon shrieked with laughter and ran away before Kiyoon could even lift a finger.

“You’re gonna get it. You and your stupid hubby, Ko Jiyong!”

CHAPTER 6

“So, who do you think I should settle for?” Sunghoon whispered, entering the airport.

“Who? Boy, you haven’t even met them yet!” Jiyong exclaimed.

“Hey! I have an idea!”

“So do I!” Jiyong shouted just as enthusiastically. “Why don’t you shut up?!”

Sunghoon ignored the remark. “Why don’t we switch?!”

“What?” Jiyong was confused.

It was seven in the morning and Sunghoon was already planning a scheme that would get them in trouble for at least a good three weeks.

“Sunghoon, it’s too early. Wait till I have my coffee.”

“No!” Sunghoon bellowed. “It’ll be too late! We can’t – “

Right then the three Cho sisters walked in, unaware of Jiyong and Sunghoon waiting nearby for them.

“Sunghoon. Listen to me,” Jiyong muttered. He turned and cupped his best friend’s chin. “As your boss, I’m telling you to keep quiet. Tell me when we get there.”

“But – “ Then his quick eyes caught the three girls. “Hey!”

“Sunghoon,” Jiyong growled.

“No, Jiyong! Look! Three girls!”

Jiyong buried his face into his hands. “Sunghoon, which of the two words in ‘keep quiet’ don’t you understand? Just because you see three girls together don’t mean it’s them.”

“Jiyong!” Sunghoon wailed. “Did your mother say it’s the girls that are coming to get us or what?”

“I dunno. She didn’t tell me anything.”

“Jiyong, I can’t wait till your coffee. I have to tell you,” Sunghoon urged.

“What? Don’t tell you’re gonna tell me sumthin stupid like you have one nut or sumthin.”

“No! Let’s play a trick!”

Jiyong knew it. Sunghoon was being the wonderful magician that he is. “Go on. Is it gonna cost the ass I’m sitting on?”

“No! Yes! I dunno!”

“Well, which is it?”

“Let’s trick the girls and see if they know who’s who.”

Jiyong looked up at Sunghoon incredulously. “Sunghoon, I don’t even know who’s who!”

“I’ll approach the girls and ask if it’s them. We know each other really good, right? So, when they ask a question about me, you’ll know the answer.”

“Wait. You’re gonna be me?” Jiyong asked, finally catching on.

Sunghoon’s million dollar smile.

“God. I hate you. How are you gonna convince my aunt and uncle?”

“I am one of the best actors you know since childhood, right?”

“Is it just for now? Cuz I hope you know – “

“I’ll tell ‘em! Don’t worry.”

“My mom warned me about that,” Jiyong muttered under his breath.

“What?”

“I promised my mom if we get in trouble, the first thing that happens is you’re gonna lose all your hair.”

Sunghoon gasped.

“So…”

Sunghoon quickly considered the question. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Jiyong hesitated to agree with the plan. “I’m not so sure…it’ll be so – “

But Sunghoon dashed off before Jiyong could finish.

“Sunghoon!”

====================

“Did Oma tell you how they look like?” Miyoon asked, searching the airport.

“Yeah, like retarded goons,” Kiyoon replied dryly.

Jiyoon dug in her purse and produced a picture. “That’s them.”

Kiyoon and Miyoon peered over Jiyoon’s arms at the picture, taking in the beautifully taken picture. One had hair split in the middle with light streaks and a cheesy smile, the other looking quite girlish with dark hair. Their eyes squinting from the sun, nice sporty t-shirts and wide baggy jeans looked so well blended with the background of the park.

“Ewwww…I was right,” Kiyoon said disgustingly.

“I think they’re cute!” Miyoon squealed.

Sunghoon approached them before they even decided on which step to take. “Excuse me?”

All three pairs of eyes turned to Sunghoon.

“Are you the…the…” Sunghoon quickly searched his memory for the names of the girls.

The three sisters held their breaths waiting for Sunghoon to finish his question.

“Uhmm…” Sunghoon stared at Miyoon, trying to remember one of the mentioned names Mrs. Ko had told him. “Kiyoon!”

Miyoon’s eyes widened as she turned disbelievingly to Kiyoon.

“What?” Kiyoon uttered, unable to believe the stranger had just said her name.

“By any chance one of you – “

“That’s her!” Miyoon quickly answered, pointing at Kiyoon.

“Oh! Hi, I’m Jiyong,” Sunghoon lied easily, flashing his ‘irresistible’ smile. He extended his hand for a handshake, observing Kiyoon intently.

Kiyoon stared openly at Sunghoon’s gay smile and slowly shook his hand. “So…you’re that faggot Jiyong.”

Sunghoon’s smile quickly faded.

“Jiyong oppa!” Miyoon squealed, hurrying over to him. She threw her arms over him. “Oh, I can’t believe you’re finally here!”

Sunghoon numbly nodded, still upset by Kiyoon’s welcome.

“Jiyong,” Jiyoon said.

Sunghoon looked up.

“I’m Jiyoon. Kiyoon’s only playing, she didn’t mean it. You’ll have to get use to her,” Jiyoon consoled, smiling.

Kiyoon snorted.

“I thought there’s the two of you. Where’s the other one?” Jiyoon asked.

“Oh, over there. I’ll get him,” Sunghoon replied. He was getting ready to yell out Jiyong’s name, but caught himself and reluctantly went over to him. “Hey!”

“So?”

“It’s them. And you’re right. Kiyoon’s trouble.”

“Why?” Jiyong asked.

“She thinks you’re a fag.”

“What?!”

“That’s what she said. She said ‘so, you’re that faggot Jiyong.’ That’s you.”

“She actually said that?!” Jiyong nearly shouted.

“Yeah,” Sunghoon whispered.

“Wait…You’re the one that went over there and pretended to be me. So, she thought you were the real Jiyong, not me! I’m Sunghoon now!”

Sunghoon thought about the answer and nodded. “Fine. I’ll be you and you’ll be me. Agreed.”

“No, Sunghoon! We can’t! We have to tell them when we get there. We’ll play it off for now, but we have to tell them when we get there. I feel weird having people think I’m you. All cheesy and smiley. Plus, I’m not used to having people call me Sunghoon.”

“You will. I’m adjusting,” Sunghoon convinced, smiling. “And I’m having fun.”

“No! It can’t be this way. What if my mom finds out?!”

Sunghoon began walking away.

“Sunghoon!” Jiyong called.

But he went on.

====================

“Yes, they should be here soon. My daughters have gone out to get them,” Chaeya said into the receiver. “Sure, of course. No problem. I’m sure he’ll be fine here. I’ll have him call you when he settles. Okay, now. Bye.”

“Jiyong’s mom?” Granny guessed, watching her daughter.

Chaeya nodded. “They should be back soon. When did they leave?”

Granny shrugged. “We were all sleeping.”

“Well, it’s almost nine, they should be back.”

Kiyoon honked loudly as she pulled up against the curb by the front of the house.

“They’re home! They’re home!” Chaeya said excitedly. She helped her mother out of her seat and together they hurried to the door.

The lock in the door clicked open and Miyoon was first to appear with Sunghoon and Jiyong behind her. Jiyoon and Kiyoon trailed behind.

“So we’ll go according the plan. I’m Jiyong and you’re Sunghoon. It’ll be like that,” Sunghoon whispered, making a final confirmation.

Jiyong opened his mouth but Sunghoon moved too fast before Jiyong could even utter a word.

“Oma! We’re back! And this is Jiyong oppa!” Miyoon announced, running to her mother.

“Which one?” Chaeya asked, looking back from Sunghoon to Jiyong.

Miyoon hurried over to Sunghoon and pulled him to the front. “This is Jiyong! That’s his secretary, Sunghoon!”

“I think she has made her claim,” Kiyoon said inaudibly to Jiyoon.

Jiyoon agreed.

“Well, we’ve already got your room ready. I hope you two don’t mind sharing rooms,” Chaeya told them.

“No,” Jiyong and Sunghoon chorused.

“Wait a second. You’re Jiyong?” Granny asked, eyeing Jiyong.

Jiyong’s eyes grew wide as he looked over to Sunghoon.

“Aigo! Granny ya! That’s Sunghoon! This is Jiyong oppa! That’s Jiyong’s secretary,” Miyoon said again.

Granny narrowed her eyes in suspicion. She nodded. “Well, how was the ride?”

“Tiring,” Jiyong answered.

“Boring,” Sunghoon replied.

“Well, at least it’s over now. And you two are both fine. That’s good. That’s good.” She sauntered over to Jiyong to pat his hand, searching for a mark on his hand that would prove to her that he’s not Sunghoon. She did the same and patted Sunghoon’s hand, confused with the situation.

“C’mon Jiyong oppa! I’ll show you your room,” Miyoon offered, tugging Sunghoon’s wrist.

Sunghoon ran after Miyoon, Jiyong following close behind.

“Something’s not right,” Granny said aloud to herself once Jiyong and Sunghoon was out of earshot.

“What isn’t?” Jiyoon asked.

“Jiyong has a scar on his hand,” Granny murmured, the look on her face distant.

“Granny?”

Granny looked up at Jiyoon’s concerned face. “But neither of them has one!”

CHAPTER 7

Sunghoon and Jiyong began unpacking right away, eager to settle and rest their aching bodies.

“What do you think?” Jiyong asked, striking up a conversation.

“Kiyoon’s not what I expected,” Sunghoon answered quickly. “She’s actually cute. I’d thought she’d look like a boy, all rough and ugly.”

“Miyoon’s hooked onto you,” Jiyong commented, removing his clothes from his suitcase.

“Nah…not yet, not that I know of.”

“Jiyoon?”

“She’s quiet. Look like a nerd.”

“My ajooma?”

“Nice. That old woman’s good! How’d she know I’m not you?”

Jiyong shrugged. “She’s old. Old people have wisdom.”

Sunghoon shivered. “My butt’s frozen.”

Jiyong laughed. “You haven’t met my ajoshi yet.”

“Ajoshi! Eep! I forgot about him! Is he mean?”

Jiyong shrugged again. “Molla. Never even met the man.”

They heard a series of cheerful cries and assumed it was Mr. Cho coming home.

“Your ajoshi,” Sunghoon said, folding his underwear.

“You mean your ajoshi. I’m Sunghoon now, remember?” Jiyong reminded him playfully.

“Of course I remember, hyuuuung!” Sunghoon retorted just as affectionately.

Jiyong guffawed. “Never thought I’d hear that coming outta you.”

“Surprised, hyuuuuung?”

“Shocked.”

“Let’s go downstairs and see what the excitement’s about,” Sunghoon suggested.

“I’m almost done.”

“C’mon! We’ll do it later! I wanna see what’s going on.”

“Uh-huh, later you’ll ‘be’ in the excitement.”

“Hyung, you’re so pessimistic.”

====================

“Daddy, daddy! Jiyong oppa’s here!” Miyoon yelped.

“Shhhh…you’re so loud,” her father said, entering the family living room.

“Daddy! You came home early!” Miyoon continued in her uncontrollable loud voice.

“Appa, I think the doctor spanked her ass too hard and now she’s practically yelling,” Kiyoon remarked, following their father into the living room.

“I’ll spank your ass!” Miyoon fired, glaring at Kiyoon.

“No thanks. I don’t think my butt’s exactly the same as Jiyong’s. It’s not soft to the touch.”

“Appa!” Miyoon whined.

“Alright, alright. Calm down you two.”

Miyoon reeled around and looked up just in time to see Sunghoon and Jiyong come downstairs. “Jiyong!”

Sunghoon smiled. “Hi.”

“Appa! This is Jiyong oppa!” Miyoon introduced, pointing wildly at Sunghoon.

“My, what a handsome man.” To Jiyong, “You’re…”

“Kang Sunghoon, Jiyong’s secretary,” Jiyong answered politely.

“Oh…” Sungshik nodded. He looked at Sunghoon strangely. “Jiyong…you seem to have shrunk.”

“Hmm?”

“When I last saw you with Chaeya’s mother, you were shooting through that roof! What happened?”

“You did? When?” Sunghoon looked over to Jiyong, his eyes silently accusing Jiyong for not mentioning this.

“You probably wouldn’t remember. You were about eight or nine? We came to visit your father and we happened to have seen you.”

“Oh…I have bad memory. Things have always been fuzzy with me,” Sunghoon said hastily, eager to drop the subject.

“Sit down, people! There are seats you know!” Miyoon bellowed.

Kiyoon had already disappeared to the library to be with Jiyoon, not interested in listening to the three catching up on old times.

“Unni! When is Jaejin coming? I wanna play football!”

“I dunno, hon. I just paged him this morning before we left and asked him to stop by anytime before dinner.”

“Whacha reading?” Kiyoon asked, peering over Jiyoon’s shoulder.

Jiyoon held up the thick medical book, letting Kiyoon scan the cover.

“Ek, some dumb book I can’t understand. Unni, why is it that you doctors talk in another language?”

Jiyoon looked perplexed. “Another language?”

“Yeah, you know. Big words we can’t pronounce. I thought Russian names were hard.”

“Oh.” Jiyoon laughed. “That’s a good way to put it. Think of it as Russian names.”

“Nah, it’s harder. It’s like they’re trying to flow in English, but comes out in a retarded jumbo.”

“Oh, Kiyoon.”

The doorbell chimed and Kiyoon stood at attention. “Lee Jaejin! He’s here! Unni, hurry! Your hubby’s here!”

Jiyoon laughed to herself and closed the book. “Kiyoon ah…what am I going to do if my kids turn out to be like you?”

Kiyoon flew out of the library, past Granny’s room and into the living room where her family had gathered to analyze Jiyong and Sunghoon. Miyoon stood stiffly at the door, holding it open while Jaejin made his casual appearance in his t-shirt and jeans.

“Jaejin!” Kiyoon hollered. She ran over to her future brother-in-law and hopped on him for a ride.

“Kiyoon! That’s improper!” her mother scolded.

“That’s okay! Jaejin doesn’t mind!” Kiyoon replied. She slid off his back and hugged him tightly, then pulled him away from staring eyes. She whispered, “When are you gonna ask?”

“Ask what?” Jaejin asked bluntly. It was fun pretending to be stupid, especially when you’re playing with Kiyoon.

“Well, if you won’t, I will!” Kiyoon stalked over to the awaiting crowd. Jiyoon arrived right on time. Taking a deep breath, Kiyoon started to ask, “Ji – “

“Jiyong, how are you?” Jaejin asked instead just as his hand slipped over Kiyoon’s mouth.

Kiyoon glared at Jaejin.

“I-I – ” Jiyong started to answer.

“I’m fine!” Sunghoon piped. “You’re?”

Jaejin removed his hand from Kiyoon’s mouth. “I’m – “

“My brother-in-law!” Kiyoon stated proudly.

“Bro-Bro-Brother-in-law?” Sunghoon stammered.

“Yeah! Ain’t he foine?! He can wrestle too! One time I had him in a headlock and – “

“Kiyoon,” her father said sternly.

“Heh…” Kiyoon uttered sheepishly.

“So…who’s the lucky lady?” Sunghoon asked slowly.

“Certainly ain’t your lovely Miyoon!” Kiyoon sang, winking at Jaejin.

Jiyoon blushed with embarrassment.

“Okay, Kiyoon. You can stop now. Jiyoon’ll turn purple if you go on,” her grandmother chided.

“Purple?!” Kiyoon gasped. “Unni! That can’t happen! Jaejin hasn’t even asked yet!”

“Kiyoon!” her father repeated.

“Hmm…I’m hungry,” Kiyoon said to herself, getting the point. She disappeared to the kitchen.

“Wow,” Sunghoon mumbled.

“That’s our Kiyoon. The stupid crow,” Miyoon told Sunghoon.

“I heard that!” came Kiyoon’s muffled voice.

“So…she’s always like this?” Jiyong asked, curious as to see more of Kiyoon’s behavior.

“You have a brother?” Miyoon suddenly asked.

Jiyong shook his head.

“Then you dunno how it feels like to have a brother disguised as a girl.”

====================

Kiyoon slapped the ham onto the slice of bread and another slice of bread over the ham. She squeezed the sandwich flat, the bread sticking to the ham like skin.

She nibbled on her sandwich and went around to look for something to do. She headed out to the yard and decided to sit on the swings.

“IT!” Jaejin screamed, pushing Kiyoon.

“The hell – “ Kiyoon nearly fell to the ground and saved her sandwich from going down. She turned her head several times and spotted Jaejin dancing around like a monkey. “Oh, you are SOOOOO dead!”

Rule number one : Never start anything with Kiyoon while she is eating.

She took another bite of her sandwich and started going after Jaejin. “C’mere!”

Jaejin laughed and dashed off again, Kiyoon hot in pursuit. “DAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!”

“You can run, but you can’t fart!” Kiyoon screamed.

Rule number two : Never fart while you’re in the middle of something. It’ll just slow you down.

“Too late! I just did!” Jaejin yelled, heading for the swings.

Kiyoon chomped off another bite of her sandwich and sped up. Jaejin always messes up at the swings.

“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! Whachu have!? A Snickers bar compressed in that sandwich?!”

Kiyoon crammed the rest of the sandwich in her mouth and lunged at Jaejin, shooting through the swing, tackling him down to the ground. Panting, she managed to let out, “You’re IT.”

“No,” Jaejin gasped. “I’m the man.”

Kiyoon chortled weakly and stayed on the ground with Jaejin.

“Kiyoon.”

“Hmm?”

“Why are you so hyperactive?”

“I dunno.”

“Hmm.”

“My turn!”

“Hmm…”

“Why can’t I have a brother?”

“Because your mom doesn’t want you to have one?”

“Well, when are you gonna marry Jiyoon? I wanna nephew to play with!”

“Why don’t you play with Miyoon?”

“She’s a pussy. She’s scared of her own shadow!”

“Funny.”

“And Jiyoon’s too serious. Besides, I don’t wanna bother her.”

“So you come and mess with me?”

“You’re the brother I’ve always wanted.”

“I’ll be soon.”

“When?”

“Soon enough.”

CHAPTER 8

“I think something else is going on. Look!” Sunghoon pointed out the window.

Jiyong stood next to Sunghoon and looked out. “I dunno. I doubt it. That girl don’t look like she’s into guys. Even Miyoon said it. I think she’s only spending time with her oppa.”

“Yeah, but like that?! One the grass, laying in each other’s arms is called ‘brotherly love?!’ Uh-uh. That’s not right. I think there’s an affair going on right under Jiyoon’s nose!”

“Oh, would you stop!? You’re forever in people’s business,” Jiyong said gruffly.

“Hey, I’m looking out for them!” Sunghoon said defensively.

“Let’s just finish unpacking so I can rest. I feel so tired.”

Sunghoon agreed and they both continued unpacking.

“Jiyong!” Miyoon stuck her head in through the door. “Jiyong oppa! I got sumthin to show you. C’mon!”

Jiyong and Sunghoon exchanged glances, forgetting for a minute about their role switch. Jiyong went to Miyoon, but Miyoon shook her head.

“I said Jiyong! Not you! You’re his secretary!” Miyoon said loudly.

Then Jiyong remembered. He was Sunghoon, not Jiyong anymore. “Oh, sorry. I thought you said my name.”

“No, I said Jiyong.” To Sunghoon, “C’mon!”

Sunghoon followed Miyoon out, a helpless expression on his face.

When Sunghoon was gone, Jiyong went on unpacking. Glancing at the clock by the side of his bed, he softly whispered, “Bye, Jiyong.”

CHAPTER 9

Night soon fell and dinner was served. As usual, Miyoon hogged all the guys (except Jaejin). Kiyoon sat in between Jiyoon and Jiyong while Miyoon isolated herself at the corner of the table with Sunghoon next to her and Jiyong next to him.

Earlier, Sunghoon had told Jiyong that Miyoon’s super cute and extra sweet. So different from Kiyoon.

Her room was full of stuffed animals, cds, toys, perfume, perfume and MORE perfume. She went on and told him an awful lot about her. Her dreams, her life, other miscellaneous things.

“You know what? I’m glad Jiyong has decided to stay here for the summer. It’ll give me a chance to get to know him better,” Miyoon announced.

Kiyoon leaned over to whisper something in Jiyoon’s ear.

“Oh, Kiyoon!” Jiyoon cried, exasperated.

“No, dear, you don’t want to forget Sunghoon,” Chaeya reminded Miyoon.

“Oh, Kiyoon could entertain him,” Miyoon said lightly.

Kiyoon turned to Jiyong, tapping him on his arm. “Sunghoon. You certainly have my deepest regrets. I don’t have the gadgets to present you a circus, but I do know a clown with TONS of makeup that happens to be sitting two seats away from you. Her name : Smelly Miyoon!”

Jiyong didn’t know whether to laugh or stay expressionless, he gave Kiyoon a small smile before Miyoon went squawking off again.

Other than that exchange, dinner went fairly well. Kiyoon vanished to her room while Miyoon dragged Sunghoon off to another tour of a specific site in the house. Jaejin and Jiyoon strolled to the yard for peace and the adults wandered off to the living room for television entertainment. Jiyong retired to his room, feeling out of place at the moment.

“Oma…I wish I was at home,” Jiyong said miserably.

====================

“It’s so beautiful tonight.”

“The stars. They’re glamorous.”

Jaejin held Jiyoon closer, the night enveloping them, young and dark.

“What do you think?” Jiyoon asked.

“Of?”

“My cousin and his secretary.”

“Something’s not right with the two,” Jaejin admitted.

“What’s wrong?”

“The secretary seem so much more…I dunno. Jiyong’s not who I expected, I guess.”

“Whaddo you mean?”

“When I first saw them, I thought Jiyong was the taller one and Sunghoon, the shorter one.”

“Why you think that?”

“One seem so much more serious and the other seems like he’s just a gig.”

“A gig?”

“Yeah. All I know is they’re gonna be in for some trouble.”

“Why?”

“Two reasons.”

Jiyoon waited.

“One, Cho Miyoon and two, Cho Kiyoon.”

====================

“So, tell me about yourself! I don’t even know your age!”

“Uh…twenty one. You?”

“Twenty one?!” Miyoon squealed. “I’m twenty!”

“Twenty? You look only eighteen.”

“You look eighteen, too!” Miyoon cried.

“How old’s Kiyoon? Sixteen?”

“Heavens no! She still thinks she’s thirteen! She’s eighteen!”

“Jiyoon?”

“Twenty two. Jaejin, twenty three. Wanna know my parents, too?”

“No, no…that’s fine.”

“So, when’s your birthday?”

“Fe-July. July first,” Sunghoon stuttered.

“July? That’s next month! So, you’ll be twenty two?”

Sunghoon kicked himself mentally for being so careless. He had forgotten that his birthday was several months before Jiyong’s and he had told her his actual age. “Uh…no. Twenty one.”

“Twenty – why twenty one? I thought – “

“I tell people I’m twenty one since, ya know, my birthday’s coming up,” Sunghoon said hastily.

“Oh…” Miyoon said softly, understanding. “So, tell me about your childhood.”

Uh-oh. “Uhmm…I have a sister…an older sister.” Phew. “Her name is Jiyoon – “

“Just like my sister!” Miyoon gasped.

“Yeah, just like your sister. She’s in Migook right now. So, it’s only me and Mom. We just chilling, you know. Then me and Sunghoon came up here.”

“Are you really the president of your father’s company?”

Sunghoon nodded.

“But-But you don’t even act like it!”

“Whaddo you mean?” Sunghoon panicked, he tried to contain himself.

“You’re so fun! Most presidents look so mean and ugly, they don’t even look relaxed! You’re like so different! You just seem to be free and happy.”

Sunghoon felt himself go light with relief. “Well, I don’t like to be serious all the time. Quite frankly, I don’t even like working at the company.” That was the truth. Neither Jiyong nor he like it, it was too tiring and a bore. But it was some GOOOOOOOD money.

Miyoon begged for more and Sunghoon continued telling her Jiyong’s childhood.

====================

Knock, knock.

“If your name is Cho Miyoon, DO NOT ENTER!”

“It’s me,” Jiyong said. “Ji-Sunghoon.”

“Sunghoon?” Kiyoon murmured to herself. She got off her bed and opened the door. “What do you want?”

“Is it okay if I chill with you?”

“Chill? Here? Me?”

“Yeah,” Jiyong answered uncomfortably.

“Where’s Jiyong?”

“He’s with your sister.”

“Hmm…come in.” Kiyoon left the door ajar and Jiyong entered.

“I’m not sure you’ll find anything fun in here. I’m very plain, all I have are cds and books…” Kiyoon waved around. “Help yourself to whatever. But touch my closet, you’re dead.”

Jiyong nodded and observed Kiyoon’s room. It wasn’t anything similar to Sunghoon’s description of Miyoon’s room, dolls and toys. Kiyoon’s room’s full of books and cds. A computer sitting on her desk and several Playstation and DreamCast cds mingled with her music cds. A display of awards placed neatly against the far end of the wall and shelves nailed over an oak chest held rows of BIG trophies.

“You’re a ball player?” Jiyong asked casually.

“Hmm…”

“Pretty good.”

“That’s not all. There’s more in the basement and in the library.”

“More?”

“You’ll see. Want candy?”

“Sure.”

“Look in that left drawer. The top one, take all you want.”

Jiyong yanked on the drawer, surprised to see the supply of sweets.

“That’s not the reason why I’m always hyper.”

Jiyong laughed nervously as he reached for the pouch. “So…you like school?”

“Do you?”

Jiyong was surprised by the reply. “Who does?”

“Jiyoon.”

“Oh.”

“I hope you didn’t take Miyoon’s words seriously because I won’t be like her all glued to one guy, giving them my undivided attention.”

“N-No…why would you think that?”

“Guys tend to take Miyoon seriously. She reminds me of Quinn. You ever watch Daria?”

“No, but I know who you’re talking about.”

“Oh, now this is interesting.” Kiyoon lowered her book, turning it face down on her bed. “Rarely people know what I’m talking about. Anyways, once you get to know Miyoon, you’ll realize she’s actually blonde underneath that black hair.”

“Are you two always fighting?”

“It’s something to do.” Kiyoon shrugged. She returned to her book.

“So…old how – “

“Thirteen.”

“Thir – You’re only thirteen?!”

“Plus five.”

“Thirteen…thirteen plus five, eighteen!”

“Are you also the accountant?”

“No, why?”

“I was about to say your math’s bad.”

Jiyong stuffed a Sour Patch Kid in his mouth.

“No need to be embarrassed. You just said you weren’t the accountant. So you’re free of the insult.”

“Can I use your computer?”

“Just don’t go into my files or folders.”

Jiyong dusted the sugar off his hands and went to her desk.

“So…how long are you gonna stay here, again?”

“Second week of September.”

“Oh, God.”

====================

Jaejin kissed Jiyoon good night and left for home.

“There goes Jaejin,” Miyoon whispered, watching the red tail lights disappear.

“So, they’re marrying soon?” Sunghoon asked.

“Jiyoon wants to wait till she graduates.”

“Graduate?”

“Medical school. She’s a nurse at the local hospital. She’s studying to become a doctor.”

“What’s Jaejin?”

“A doctor.”

Sunghoon stared at Miyoon.

“He’s still going to school though.”

Sunghoon nodded.

“Let’s go in. It’s getting a tad nippy.”

Sunghoon walked Miyoon back to her room before going to his.

“Good night, Jiyong,” she said sweetly.

“Night.”

“See you in the morning.”

“Yeah.”

====================

“You suck!”

“Shut up!”

“Dumb ass! Turn left!”

Jiyong hit the right arrow by accident, the game getting intensifying.

“You dumb ass! YOUR AMERICAN LEFT!!!”

Soon the little game figure crumpled, shattering to a million pieces.

“Game over,” Kiyoon chorused with the announcer.

“Your sister’s right, you are a boy disguised as a girl!”

Kiyoon laughed for the first time since his arrival. “Why you agree?”

“Cuz all your toys aren’t for girls! Look at this! You have more video games than I do!”

Kiyoon laughed again. “You dunno how it is to be me. Although I have two sisters, I very often feel like I’m the only child.”

“Hmm…” Jiyong stood up. “Time to go beddy bye. Sorry if I kept you up.”

“It’s okay. I always stay up later.”

“Well…Good night.”

“Night.”

CHAPTER 10

“I’m gonna marry him!” Miyoon declared, brushing her hair.

“Dream on,” Kiyoon muttered, washing her face.

“Hey, dreams do come true you know.”

“How come mine hasn’t come true yet?”

“Which is?”

“You outta my life?”

Miyoon rolled her eyes.

“Exactly how I feel.” Kiyoon hung her face cloth up to dry and went downstairs for breakfast.

Everybody was already eating away, all except Jiyoon, who had to be at the hospital by eight.

“Morning, Mom, Dad. Granny.” Kiyoon kissed Granny on the cheek before pouring herself a cup of coffee.

Chaeya slapped at Kiyoon’s hand. “Drinking coffee in the morning! Go eat jook!”

“Mom, coffee’s for breakfast, not a midnight snack.”

“Go eat your jook and stop fooling around,” Chaeya ordered.

Kiyoon frowned but sat down anyway. Morning isn’t her favorite time of the day and breakfast isn’t her favorite meal.

“Chaeya…don’t you even know your own children? Kiyoon hates jook. Go cook yourself some ramen, darling,” said Granny.

Kiyoon bowed deeply to her grandmother. “Thank you for saving me once again.”

Granny chuckled as Kiyoon slipped away to the kitchen. Miyoon yawned and smiled brightly as she plopped in a chair next to Sunghoon.

“Sleep well, hon?” Granny asked.

“Wonderful.” Miyoon took the cup of steaming coffee Kiyoon had poured for herself earlier. “Monster Kiyoon?”

“I’m feeling like one too,” Kiyoon said loudly.

Miyoon shrugged and helped herself to plenty of creme and sugar. “It’s a pity Mom won’t let you drink it.”

Silence.

“Guess the monster’s asleep.”

“Why is it you always have to start things right when you wake up? Can’t you see Kiyoon has ignored you?” their father demanded.

“Yeah, unni. See? I even fixed you a bagel!” Kiyoon placed the blueberry bagel spread with strawberry cream before Miyoon.

“Nah-uh. It’s a trick. She’s not this nice.”

“Fine.” Kiyoon reached for half the bagel, getting ready to take a bite.

“Drop it, freak!”

“Unni, make up your mind!”

“Drop it,” Miyoon repeated.

“Catch.” Kiyoon tossed the bagel in the air before walking off to the kitchen again.

Jiyong watched the bagel flipped again and again in the air before Sunghoon caught it safely.

“Oh, thank you! Jiyong oppa, you’re the best!” Miyoon cried. She took the bagel from him and bit into it. Licking the thick pink cream off her lips.

Before anything else happened, Jiyong excused himself before Miyoon exploded. He hurried off to the kitchen, the closest exit through the kitchen. Kiyoon spun around, chopsticks poised in mid-air.

Then came an ear-splitting scream. Miyoon.

Kiyoon giggled and went on scooping her ramen out of the cooking pot.

“What did you do?”

“Burn her bagel then hid the evidence with her favorite color.”

Jiyong laughed.

“What’d you have?”

“Coffee and a sandwich.”

Kiyoon frowned. “No fair. Ramen?”

Jiyong shook his head.

“Don’t worry, I won’t pull anything stupid. Spiced?”

Jiyong shook his head again. “I’m stuffed.”

Kiyoon shrugged. “Suit yourself. How much coffee did you have?”

“Enough.”

“Hmm…I can tell.”

Jiyong retreated back to the dining room, Miyoon in the middle of cursing while Sunghoon tried to soothe her.

“CHO KIYOON!” she screamed.

No answer.

“Where is she?!” Miyoon demanded.

Jiyong shrugged. “In her room?”

Miyoon growled. “After I come home from shopping! She better not be home!”

CHAPTER 11

The day quickly went by and Jiyong was getting used to the excitement. Miyoon had returned home only half an hour ago bearing gifts and presents for Sunghoon. She dragged him upstairs to model off the clothes she had gotten him.

“Don’t be jealous. If I was just as unoccupied as her, I would spoil you too,” Kiyoon said, leaning against the library door.

Jiyong looked away from Kiyoon’s scholastic trophies. “You’re quite a nerd.”

“Ahhh, it’s nothing. You haven’t seen Jiyoon’s yet. Now, those are nice.”

“But all the ones I’ve seen are yours, where’s Jiyoon’s?”

“Over by that wall. She worked real hard for them. She’s the only person in this family I have highest admiration for. Other than Jaejin, but that’ll be later.”

Jiyong nodded and went to look at Jiyoon’s awards. Most of them were from medical school. “Medical?”

“Yeah. She’ll be embarrassed if we hang her stuff from back in the days. So she chose to have her medical stuff hanged.”

“Oh…”

Kiyoon watched Jiyong as he went around the room to look at more trophies. Her sports trophies. “Are you really Kang Sunghoon?” she abruptly asked.

Jiyong felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “Ye-Yeah…why?”

Kiyoon narrowed her eyes. “Nothing. You look more than a secretary. A secretary looks plain…you look like someone of authority.”

Jiyong let out a nervous laugh. “Really?”

“Very real.”

“Kiyoon ah! Dinner!” Jiyoon called.

“Already?” Jiyong asked, surprised.

“No…she’s asking me to help. They never call me for dinner.” Kiyoon left Jiyong alone and went to help her sister.

“Psssst!”

Jiyong turned to the hiss. Sunghoon was hiding behind the entrance of the library. He held out a crooked finger and motioned for Jiyong to come to him.

“What?” Jiyong approached Sunghoon.

Sunghoon glanced around and dragged Jiyong back to their room.

“What?” Jiyong repeated as Sunghoon closed the door to their room.

“I think I’m in love! I love being you!”

“Oh, God. I’m sorry, Sunghoon. I don’t think I’m born gay.”

“No! I mean I’m in love with Miyoon. She’s so cute! And I love being Jiyong!”

“Oh, God,” Jiyong said again. “What have I done to deserve this?”

“Jiyong, I’m so glad you’re my best friend and that you’ve decided to bring me here! Jiyong, I love you!”

“Like I said, I’m not gay. But thank you for the gratitude.”

“I dunno how you could have not met them! Especially Miyoon!”

“Miyoon only thinks you’re me because you told her your name’s Jiyong and not Sunghoon. If she found who you really are, you’ll be dead. Trust me, I have a feeling Miyoon can’t handle that kind of shock. Plus…don’t you think she seem too eager? The only reason why she’s nice and super cute to you because you’re Jiyong. See? It’s just the name and title that matters to her. Nothing else. You don’t see her being nice to me.”

“That’s because you don’t have the charm,” Sunghoon said, toying with his hair.

“Or maybe she doesn’t like a plain secretary,” Jiyong muttered.

“Are you jealous?”

“No, I’m actually happy. I like the way how things are at the moment.”

“At the moment? Uh-oh, I don’t like the sound of that.”

A knock at the door. “Jiyong?”

“Miyoon,” Jiyong guessed.

Sunghoon went to open the door. “Hi.”

“Jiyong, come on!”

“Where now?”

“Just come!”

And off Sunghoon goes. Jiyong shook his head and fell back on his bed. The sudden dread of going home returned and he wished he was at home.

CHAPTER 12

It was morning again, the same breakfast rountine except Kiyoon wasn’t available.

“Go wake up your dongseng,” Chaeya said to Miyoon.

“She’s gone,” Miyoon mumbled, distracted with the magazine that had come in the mail early in the morning.

“Gone? What do you mean?” Granny asked softly, fear creeping up her spine.

Miyoon shrugged. “She’s already gone when I went to harrass her.”

“Could it be that she went to the library?” her father suggested.

“Appa, the library doesn’t open this early. It’s only eight-forty-five.”

“I have to go now. Can never tell with traffic. Now you be good since your sister’s not home.”

“Good? Appa, I’m always good!”

Her father nodded absentmindedly. “Whichever. I’m leaving.” He hugged his mother-in-law and kissed his wife. He nodded at Jiyong and Sunghoon before leaving.

“Bye, Appa! Drive safely!”

Once breakfast was over Chaeya took her mother out shopping, leaving the three children alone. Immediately Miyoon took up actions and wisked Sunghoon away. Jiyong went upstairs to his room. Downstairs, Miyoon and Sunghoon were dancing away. Even Miyoon had said it, it was early in morning. Too early to be dancing. But they didn’t care. They turned up that entertainment system and danced like maniacs.

Kiyoon wasn’t home, she had left before anybody was up. Probably went with Jiyoon to the hospital. But Jiyong didn’t know. He wasn’t close to anybody in the house. Not like Sunghoon who had Miyoon’s attention right when they saw each other at the airport.

He sighed and wished he had his car with him. He’d be out and away somewhere. As long as it wasn’t someplace where he would be lonely.

====================

“Suwon! I swear! You should see them two!”

Suwon nodded. Kiyoon was always exaggerating.

“Suwon ah!”

“I hear you. But that doesn’t mean they’re not nice. You shouldn’t judge them before you know them.”

“Some friend you are,” Kiyoon said grumpily.

“Kiyoon, you came to my house this early in the morning just to tell me what you’ve discovered about them two?”

“Suwon! It’s past nine! It’s not early! Miyoon’s probably having lunch right now!”

Suwon laughed. He can always count on his best friend for laughter. “Okay. What is it you want me to do?”

“Can your mom adopt me?”

There she goes again. “Let’s ask her. I don’t think my hyung would like it though if we suddenly have a younger sister.”

“Well…just say it’s Santy’s early Christmas gift to you.”

“Wanna go out? There’s nothing to do around the house. I think I’ve done all the chores.”

“Let’s go ask,” Kiyoon mimicked.

“Bunghole.”

“Not until the day your mom adopts me.”

CHAPTER 13

“Uhh…Miyoon?”

“What?!” she snapped.

“Do you have…like a car?” Jiyong asked uncomfortably.

“A car? Where you wanna go?”

“Somewhere. I just wanna go out.”

“Do you know your way around?” Miyoon asked haughtily.

“No…but I’m sure I can find my way around.”

“Forget it. You’ll just mess up the car and get lost. Ask Kiyoon to take you on a tour. C’mon Jiyong!”

Jiyong stood in his spot as Miyoon turned up the music again and pulled Sunghoon up to dance. It was a funny sight. Sunghoon can’t even get his butt to wiggle right. Jiyong laughed and left the two crazy wangja and gongju byungs. He went back upstairs to his room and picked up the phone and dialed home.

====================

“And she DUNKS!!!” Kiyoon screamed, dunking the basketball.

“ARGH!!! YOU!”

“Haha,” Kiyoon taunted. She tossed the basketball to Suwon and went to rest on the benches.

“You know. You need to work on your nails. Girls like you need a manicure,” Suwon said, dribbling the ball towards her.

Kiyoon held up her hands. “Care to tell me where my nails are?”

“Hmm…you need to eat more jello. Your nails are not growing at normal speed.”

“Ahhhh, shattup! And you need to drink more milk. You’re not growing at all.”

“You getting tired of this?”

“Yeah. Let’s go home and torture Miyoon.”

“Not a good idea.”

“Why?”

“Jiyong’s there.”

“So? I’ll bring him down too! What is he gonna do? Beg me or bribe me not to mess with him? C’mon!”

“Let’s go to the mall. I need new jeans.”

“Darn! You better buy me something, richie.”

“I will.”

“Like what?”

“I’ll buy you a guy with some love.”

====================

“Sunghoon’s downstairs partying away.”

“Party? This early?”

“No, he’s just dancing with Miyoon. It’s funny, Oma. He can’t even get his butt to move in the right direction and he’s throwing his hair around like he’s some punk rocker.”

Mrs. Ko laughed at the details. “Why aren’t you downstairs in the fun?”

“Nah…I’m not really into it. Plus, Miyoon doesn’t want me around.”

“Why not?”

“I dunno. She likes Sunghoon. Oma! You should see her! She’s attached to him! Like he’s some wangja or sumthin!”

“What about Kiyoon? Why won’t you talk to her?”

“Mom, she’s nothing but trouble. I don’t really like being near her. And I think she doesn’t like me very much either.”

“What about Jiyoon?”

“She’s already engaged. And she’s working at the hospital.”

Mrs. Ko gasped. “Engaged? When? How old is she?”

“Mom, how old am I? She’s older than me!”

“Oh, my…has it really been that long? I still remember her when she was only a little girl. She was so pretty and smart.”

“Still is. She’s planning on becoming a doctor when her namja chingoo’s already one.”

“Who is he?”

“Some guy. I dunno. Kiyoon seems to like him a lot. They’re like brothers, running around, wrestling and everything.”

“Well…I hope things won’t get too ugly and uneventful for you. You just have to get into things. You’re always so…not involved. Why won’t you just tag along?”

“I wanna go out, but I dunno the area! I even asked Miyoon if I can borrow a car and she just laughed in my face.”

“Uh!”

“My reactions exactly. So I’m like, ‘forget you too.’ I don’t need that kinda shit.”

“Jiyong!”

“Sorry, Oma.”

Mrs. Ko sighed. “I was hoping this wouldn’t happen. What about Sunghoon?”

“He’s having fun. I can’t bear to tear him away from all the excitement,” Jiyong said sarcastically.

“Oh, honey. It’ll get better. Just wait. I know it’s hard at first, but it’ll be alright. I’ll ask Chaeya to ask Kiyoon to take you out or something. How’s that?”

“It’s okay, Oma. You don’t need to. Plus Kiyoon’s always busy,” Jiyong lied. Truth is, he doesn’t know. She always seem preoccupied. “I’ll just stick around the house. Besides, they have a library.”

“Jiyong…you don’t like to read.”

“I know…but I guess it’s time to learn how.”

“Hmm…would you like Oma to come down?”

“No!” Jiyong shouted quickly. Too quickly. “I mean…I don’t want to bother you. You should be resting and not worry about me.”

“That’s the problem. Neither you nor Jiyoon’s near, so the only thing I can do is worry.”

“Sorry, Oma.”

“Don’t be sorry. Be happy and have fun. Oma will call next week.”

“Bye, Mom.”

“Be good. Tell Sunghoon that, too.”

“I will.”

The phone went dead. Jiyong hung up and fell back on his bed. Have fun…two simple words just seem so hard to accomplish.

====================

Kiyoon picked up the bag.

“Sold to Cho Kiyoon,” Suwon said loudly.

“No. I’m just looking, you idiot.”

“You and bags. I think that’s a match made in heaven.”

“Speaking of matches. How’s you and you know?”

“Good. Real good.”

“Kicking it, huh?”

“Yeah.”

Kiyoon returned the bag to its place on the shelf and walked away.

“So…when are you like…gonna hook up?” Suwon asked casually.

“Mmm?” Kiyoon pretended not to hear him. She observed a pair of baggy jeans.

“Kiyoon. I’m talking to you.”

“I’m listening.” She continued to fumble through the pile of jeans, trying to avoid the question.

“I said…never mind. You’re not even listening.”

Kiyoon stopped and turned to Suwon. “I am. I just choose not to answer you.”

“Well, that’s all you have to tell me.”

“No, Suwon. I’m not telling you. You’re persistent and you won’t stop until you get an answer. You’ll simmer for now, but when it’s time for me to go home, you won’t get me home until I’ve answered each and every question you have prepared for me. You know, Alexander Graham Bell did have a reason to invent the telephone.”

“I asked you for one answer and you go on with a story. Does this ever end?”

“Suwon…I dunno what to do. I have two buttholes stuck living with me and Sunghoon said they’re not leaving till September. What am I gonna do? You’re always busy working and I don’t want to time up your spare time with…”

“That’s one reason why Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.”

Kiyoon smiled weakly. “Why can’t I be your girlfriend?”

“Because we weren’t meant to be. And we both know deep down inside it’ll never happen because you don’t have feelings for me.”

Kiyoon chuckled. “I think something’s wrong with me. I don’t have feelings for anyone!”

“Let’s just say you’re still a baby and dunno anything about love.”

“That’s good enough. Or…”

“Or what?”

“I’m heartless.”

Suwon thought about it. “Nah…that’s a lizard.”

CHAPTER 14

“Where’s your sister?” Jiyoon demanded, staring down at Miyoon and Seonghooon’s sweaty bodies.

Miyoon shrugged. “She was gone when I went to bug her. I thought she left with you.”

“No! She was still in bed when I went to check on her.”

“Then she must have slipped out.”

“Till now?! Miyoon, it’s almost ten!”

“Ten?!” Sunghoon shrieked. “How long have we been doing this?”

“Too long. You look like a michinom,” Jiyoon commented.

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! My hair!”

“You should have thought about that when you were sweating,” Jiyoon said dryly.

“I’m gonna shower.” Sunghoon flew up the stairs and immediately started a hot shower.

“You’re telling me Kiyoon’s been gone since seven this morning?!”

“I dunno! I woke up at eight sumthin…she probably left when I got up.”

“Still! That’s gone more than twelve hours and you haven’t even noticed your dongseng’s missing?! What kind of a sister are you!?”

“Like you’re a very good one! All you’ve done is defend and protect her! What have you done for me?! You’re always backing her up! What about me?! So, now I can’t even have fun?!”

Jiyoon felt her anger mark tick off. “I can’t believe you have the nerve! You have any idea how hard it is working more than fourteen hours a day and having to come home and start dinner?! Compared to you, who don’t even have a job or a promising CAREER to worry about, I’m out there breaking my back! Kiyoon may be out of control, but if I don’t look out for her then WHO will?! Tell me! Who? Ever since Kiyoon was three, you wished she was DEAD! You had all the spotlight Kiyoon never had! She’s the one that really needs the attention! NOT YOU! So, you’re mad at me for not supporting you, well, I’m angry at you for NOT LOVING Kiyoon! You have no idea how hard Kiyoon worked for her awards and merits. How HARD she studied just to win some attention and you can’t even give her a little space and words of encouragement?! I can’t believe I have such a selfish sister…And now she’s out God knows where and with who?! You’re in here shaking your monkey ass with a rich millionaire who we don’t even know if he even likes you!?”

Miyoon stood paralyzed, her ears pricking at the hot, harsh words. “Uh – ”

“Don’t even call me ‘unni’ if you don’t respect me. You certainly haven’t earned the right to call me that.”

Miyoon felt her lips quivered as hot, unwanted tears sprung to her eyes.

The front door creaked open and Kiyoon popped out, her eyes wide with alarm. “Uh-oh.”

“Kiyoon! Where have you been?!” Jiyoon demanded.

“Am I in trouble?” Kiyoon asked softly.

“I’ll soon tell Mom to disown you if you don’t tell me where you were and how long you’ve been gone!”

Kiyoon looked over to Miyoon’s guilty state and innocently told Jiyoon, “I was with Suwon all day.”

Jiyoon felt herself drain of anger and worry. “Suwon? When in the – ”

“I went over to his house.”

“How?”

“On my bike.”

“Oh, Kiyoon…”

“What happened?”

“Nothing! When did you leave?”

“Early…you know how it takes when you don’t have a car to get into another town.”
“That’s it! I’m telling Appa to get you a car. I can’t have you disappearing early in the morning and reappear when I’m about to start dinner.”

“Dinner?! You guys haven’t eaten dinner yet?!”

“Ask the ‘Dancing Queen’ she was home all day with Jiyong.”

Kiyoon aimed her eyes at Miyoon again, taking in her messy form. “What happened to you? You two had rough sex with your clothes on?”

“You two better go clean yourselves up and help me start dinner. I’ve already had a bad day and I don’t want you two to make it any worse. Where’s Oma?”

“She and Granny’s watching some drama movie in Granny’s room.”

“Tell Sunghoon that dinner’ll be ready soon. He’s probably dead already by now. Kiyoon, go see if he has turned into a fossil yet.” Jiyoon vanished into the kitchen.

“You damn bitch,” Miyoon cursed.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“What have I done?! I wasn’t even home the whole day!”

“That’s why you’re the bitch! Jiyoon yelled at me for no reason!” Miyoon bawled.

Kiyoon shook her head as she headed for Jiyong and Sunghoon’s room. Miyoon can be so strange…

====================

“Whoa…heated shit.”

A knock. “Sunghoon?”

Jiyong sat up on his bed at the voice. Kiyoon. “Yeah?”

The door opened slightly. “Jiyoon wants to know if you’re still alive.”

Jiyong pranced to the door. “Where were you?”

“Don’t tell me you were concerned too.”

“I’m not. Just curious.”

“I was about to elope, but I suddenly remembered you,” Kiyoon replied dramatically.

“What happened down there? I heard Jiyoon yelling at you.”

“Me? She didn’t yell at me.”

“She didn’t? Then what was that about?”

“Ask your boss. He’s the one that was fooling around with Miyoon.”

Jiyong’s mouth fell open.

“I’m glad you still have your appetite. Jiyoon expects you downstairs scraping your plate clean when dinner is served.” Kiyoon reeled around and hopped to her room.

CHAPTER 15

 The days flew by and it was soon July. The first of July.

“Pssst! Wake up Jiyong jjang!”

Jiyong moaned and turned over in his bed, shaking off the annoying voice. “Lemme sleep.”

“Jiyong!” Sunghoon whispered. “Jiyong! Wake up!”

“What?!”

“Happy Birthday!”

“Wha…”

“Jiyong! Wake up!” Sunghoon whined, jerking on Jiyong’s side. “Wake up! It’s your twenty-first birthday and I’m the only that can wish you the very best birthday! Jiyong!”

Jiyong snored loudly, trying to block out Sunghoon’s cries. Sunghoon climbed in beside Jiyong and slid underneath Jiyong’s blanket. He reached down and pinched Jiyong’s butt hard and with his free hand, tickled Jiyong awake.

“OOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!” Jiyong roared. He shot out of his bed and tumbled to the floor, rubbing his rear end. “WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM!??!!!”

With one end of Jiyong’s coverlet hiding his face, he grinned childishly. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!”

“Oh, Sunghoon! Can’t this wait till later?! It’s still early!”

“Jiyong! You’re forgetting we’re not at home!”

Jiyong rubbed his eyes. “Sunghoon, it’s only eight. What do you want?”
“Jiyong…you’re forgetting! You’re Sunghoon! So that means besides me in the house, no one else knows today’s your birthday! No one else is gonna give you presents and throw cake at you! Jiyong!”

“Sunghoon…thank you. But can you wait till I’m fully recharged? You may be bright and cheery, but I’m still hanging over from last night.”

“Fine. You have until ten. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

Jiyong nodded as Sunghoon climbed out of his bed and went to his own. Jiyong continued to ease the stinging pain Sunghoon had put in his behind and returned to bed. Sunghoon rambled on until sleep finally claimed him and it was all silent again.

====================

Kiyoon yawned. “Yes! July first! One month down and how many more to go?” She jumped out of bed and scratched her head. It was already ten and she made her bed before she ventured off to the bathroom.

“Oooh! Look at this!” Miyoon squealed.

“Mayan…” Kiyoon moaned. Downstairs, a commotion was already brewing. She headed to the bathroom to prepare herself for the remainder of the day when Jiyong collided with her on his way out of the shower. “OOOWWW!”

“Awww…shit!”

Kiyoon clamped her hand over her stinging elbow, grinding down on her teeth. “Good morning to you too.” She rubbed her arm up and down, the pain spreading.

Jiyong patted his chest as the full impact of Kiyoon’s body had slammed into his. He coughed a few times and waved her away. “Yeah. Happy Birthday.”

Idiot, Kiyoon’s mind said. Kiyoon agreed. She hurried in and brushed out the sour taste in her mouth and washed her face. She checked her image in the mirror as she gently stroked her hair with a brush and frowned. “Birthday?” She placed the brush back behind the mirror and changed out of her sleeping attire. Charging down the stairs, she hollered, “Who’s birthday?!”

The happy chatter stopped as all eyes turned to her.

“Why, it’s Jiyong’s, honey,” her mother answered.

“Yeah, are you forgetting today’s Jiyong oppa’s birthday?” Miyoon chimed.

“Birthday?” The tone of Kiyoon’s voice was unpleasant, almost disgusted. “I never knew his birthday, so how could I forget?”

Everybody stood around uncomfortably, tension growing thick by the minute.

“C’mon! For breakfast today, we’re having cake,” said Jaejin, approaching Kiyoon.

“Miyoon baked it?”

“No…I dunno…”

“No, thanks. I don’t want to eat Birthday Boy’s cake when I have no present to exchange.” She ran off to the kitchen in search for coffee.

“Kiyoon!” Jiyoon called.

Sunghoon watched the scene, unable to take in what had happened. Kiyoon hated him! She wasn’t surprised to have found out Jiyong’s birthday was today. She was alarmed.

Jiyong sat in the corner, observing the ordeal. Not only was Kiyoon mad, he was too. He only had one birthday and that was only once a year. Now Sunghoon took on his roll of being the President, he has also taken his birthday! It was so unfair. Sunghoon has two birthdays and he has none…

====================

“Kiyoon…what are you doing?”

Kiyoon poured the black coffee into a mug. “Coffee. Finally!”

Granny tsked. “Fine…I didn’t see that. You better drink it fast though. You’ll never know when your mother may come through that door.”

Kiyoon smiled. She loves her grandmother more than she loves her mother. “She won’t. She’s too wrap up with Jiyong.”

“Tell me…”

“What, Granny?” Kiyoon walked over to Granny and helped her to a chair.

“Why is it you hate Jiyong?”

Kiyoon shrugged. “I don’t hate him. Well…I do. I just can’t stand him. He’s so…flakey.”

“Not himself?”

“I dunno how he really is! I never met him!”

“Child…you sometimes remind me of Miyoon.”

“Why?!” Kiyoon shrieked, nearly spilling coffee on herself.

“You both judge people based on looks itself.”

“I DO NOT!”

“You don’t like Jiyong because of money; Miyoon likes him money wise.”

“That’s true. And he acts stupid and gay.”

“There’s more to it than just acts alone.”

“Oh…Granny tell me I’m not gonna be like you when I grow old.”

Granny raised a brow. “Why?”

“Wisdom…you old people know too much.”

Granny laughed as she ruffled Kiyoon’s hair. “Surprises come in small packages.”

“Such as sugar?”

“No. Such as love and you’ll find it in one of those two outside.”

====================

“I’m worried about that one in there. I don’t really care when Miyoon gets mad, cause she’ll just mouth it off. But that little rascal in there never lets anything out. I never know whether she’s suffering or not.” Jiyoon stared at the dining room door, the very one she had seen her grandmother gone through.

“It’s okay. She’ll be up and about,” Jaejin reassured her.

“No, that’s part of the act. You dunno her. One year she was trying her absolutely very best to enter the nation-wide writing competition and she got sick that very week when she was studying for her mid-terms. With all that anger and frustration bottled up inside her, that’s what broke her. She can’t handle stress. It kills her. And Oma and Appa don’t know…”

“You should be her mother instead of her sister.”

“I have to go in there.”

“You’re not going anywhere. She’ll come bouncing back in here like a basketball. Watch.”

True to his word, Kiyoon re-entered the living room, bringing Granny along.

“Let’s cut the cake!” Miyoon suggested.

“I’m not eating it if Miyoon baked it. She probably burnt it or put food poisoning in it,” Kiyoon whispered to Granny.

“Oh, you,” Granny chided. “Such a silly thing.”

Sunghoon had cut the cake with Miyoon and walked over to Jiyong with a piece of it. “Happy Birthday,” he murmured as he handed Jiyong the plate.

Jiyong numbly accepted the cake. His birthday cake. “Thanks.”

“I got your present upstairs. Tonight.”

Then he walked off to the center of attention. Kiyoon had left Granny to be with the rest of the celebration and wandered off to her room.

====================

“Hey, bum,” Kiyoon muttered.

Suwon stretched in his bed. “What time is it?”

“It’s past ten. Still in the process of dreaming?”

“It was good. You were the star of it.”

“Oh…” Kiyoon said amusingly.

“Yeah, wanna know what happened?”

“Hmm…”

“You sure?”

“Just tell me since it’s still fresh in your head!”

“You really wanna know?”

“Suwon, I’m gonna drag out outside your house naked and make you tell me at the mall.”

“Okay. You were married.”

“Married? To who?”

“It was your wedding day. Well, the three of you. Jiyoon, Miyoon and you.”

“To who?”

“Ready?”

Kiyoon nodded, waiting with anticipation.

“Ko Jiyong.”

“WHAT???!”

“Wait…Miyoon was married to the secretary and Jiyoon married Jaejin.”

“Back dat ass up. I married WHO?!”

“Ko Jiyong.”

“THAT FAGGOT?!”

“Why?”

“How do you how they look like?”

“I don’t.”

“Then – “

“Their faces were blurry. When some dude, the minister…I think his name is Father Kim. Kim Jaeduk pronounced the names, that’s how I knew.”

“Oh…seems like you’ve been working too hard. Either that or you’ve watched too many movies.”

“Wait. There’s more!”

“More?!”

“Yep, I haven’t told you about the kissing and what you guys wore – “

“Suwon…did you actually dream this or you’re thinking in your mind and wishing for this to happen?”

“I really did! You and Jiyong were about to get mushy mushy when the phone rang and poof!”

“Why does it all sound like Suwon’s Fairy Tales?”

“Scoff all you want, it’s the truth. Now be quiet! I gotta tell you want happened!”

Kiyoon sighed as she rolled over onto her stomach. “Go on.”

“Okay, you three couples were at the church. All three guys wearing white tux. And then later when you know after the American marriage and all that, you guys get dress up and go to a shikdang and get knocked out? The guys switched into black and the girls were wearing sumthin like prom dresses. But not as dramatic…you know? Something simple…like an evening dress. You! You’re always different. You had to wear lavender. Sorta like lilac. And your two sisters wore red.”

“Wow…I was wearing a dress?”

“I know…the world’s coming to an end.”

“I know…I married Ko Jiyong. Ha! What a laugh! I’ll never marry that goat. He’s Miyoon’s man. Too rich and fruity for my blood.”

“Wait! Did I tell you – “

“No, please…no more details. It’s already getting too gruesome.”

“Wait! I haven’t told you the highlight of the dream!”

“What?!”

“You two kissed!”

Kiyoon belched as a response sending Suwon on a lecture.

“Now I know why you’ll never marry. You’re too manly.”

“Thanks. I love you, too.”

“So…what’s the big emergency?”

“It’s the goon’s birthday.”

“Your dream hubby?”

“No, he’s your dream hubby. You dreamed of him. Not me.”

“Fine. Kiyoon’s future hubby of my dream. How’s that?”

Kiyoon growled.

“Okay, okay. What about him?”

“I’m just glad that they’re gonna leave soon.”

“You don’t get along with either of them?”

“Well…maybe only the secretary. Been hanging out with him the last couple of days. Miyoon always pushes him aside and Jiyoon thinks he needs to see some sunlight. So…I’m the only tour guide available. He’s pretty cool. Not stupid and dorky like his boss. I wonder how’d he ever ended up working for Jiyong.”

“Man gotta hire a good secretary. So, you two…what’s going on?”

“Nothing. What’s going on with me and you?”

“Nothing.”

“Exactly. That’s where I stand with him,” Kiyoon answered.

“I have a gut feeling that you’re gonna marry that cousin of yours.”

“I have a gut feeling that you’re gonna marry that brother of yours.”

“Laugh all you want. Cuz that’s what I dreamed.”

“Wanna go out?”

“Nah…gotta take my Oma shopping.”

“Er…”

“Sorry.”

“Better be. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Lates.”

Kiyoon hung up slowly, thinking about Suwon’s dream. “If I marry Jiyong for real…Oh my God! I have to stay away from Miyoon and him as much as possible!”

CHAPTER 16

The day was a drag and finally the sun was getting ready to settle. Sensing the wild excitement downstairs was simmering, Kiyoon slipped away downstairs. Out in the yard, she found Jaejin and Jiyoon laughing over something as she approached the swings.

“Kiyoon, we’re going out later for dinner,” Jiyoon informed, watching Kiyoon come towards her.

“Because of Jiyong?”

“Yeah.”

Kiyoon nodded. She plopped on a swing and enjoyed the colorful horizon. It reminded her of how happy her life should be and the way how it is. She sighed as she pushed herself off, slowly and gently at first.

“What did you get Jiyong?” Jaejin asked.

“Nothing,” Kiyoon replied tonelessly.

“Nothing?” Jaejin echoed.

“I’m not Miyoon. Knowing her, she probably already offered herself to marry him before he even gets the chance to reject.”

Jiyoon frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Kiyoon sighed. “Nothing…”

They all sat in silence as Kiyoon’s swing went on squeaking. Then a soft melody danced into Kiyoon’s head…and out her mouth.

Jiyoon hummed along as Kiyoon went on singing, Jaejin bobbed his head to the a cappella and quietly sang the song to himself.

Upstairs Jiyong neared the window to see the three happy family members together on the swings. With his window open, he could faintly hear someone singing softly. He squinted his eyes, trying to figure out who the singer was. He bolted out his room and dashed down the stairs, past Sunghoon and Miyoon who were picking up presents to drop off in his room. He slowly made it to the sliding doors that led to the yard and heard the singing clearly. It was crisp and sweet…not a voice he had ever heard before.

“Yay! Sing another one!” he heard Jaejin plead. “You should forget about giving Jiyong a present! Just sing him the Birthday song and it’ll be all good! I know I wouldn’t mind!”

Jiyong stepped over the threshold to the outside, following the voice that had started singing another song. It was either Jiyoon or Kiyoon and he was weighing it on Jiyoon.

“Awww…look! She’s bashful!” Jaejin teased, laughing.

Darkness was beginning to fall around them and Jiyong continued forward in a trance. It was getting harder to tell who was singing, especially when it was so low and with the swings squeaking. The singing ended shortly and he noticed Kiyoon’s hair flying as the swing came down.

“Kiyoon, be careful!” Jiyoon warned, watching Kiyoon swing higher and higher with worried eyes.

“Aigo…” Kiyoon muttered. She waited till the swing swung her back then slowly raised on leg up on the seat.

Jiyoon watched on, horrified. “Kiyoon! Sit still!”

Jaejin got off his swing and went over to Jiyoon.

“Jaejin, tell her to stop! She’ll hurt herself if she stands on the swing!”

Jaejin hushed Jiyoon and watched as Kiyoon boosted herself up standing on the swing. “She should join the circus.”

Jiyong edged closer just in time to catch the performance.

“Don’t encourage her!” Jiyong heard Jiyoon yell at Jaejin. He turned to the swings and saw why. Kiyoon was almost up in the sky and wasn’t slowing down.

“Jaejin, stop her. Tell her to slow down at least. Something’s gonna happen if she goes on like this. Please, Jaejin. You know how she listens to you the most. Jaejin?”

“I’m flying!” Kiyoon yelped. “Fly, fly! Fly away!” She released her hands on the chains and dove off, really flying off the swing.

Jiyong gasped as he stood frozen, a shiver running up and down his spine.

“KIYOOOON!!!” Jiyoon screamed.

Kiyoon balled herself up and rolled onto the grass, Jaejin already running to catch her.

“KIYOOOOON!!” Jiyoon screamed again, running after Jaejin.

“Kiyoon,” Jaejin whispered as he reached her still body.

Kiyoon tried not to peek and relaxed her body, making herself look naturally unconscious. She heard Jiyoon’s frantic feet scrambling closer and someone else’s following her.

“Kiyoon?” Jaejin whispered again, nudging Kiyoon.

“Told you!” Jiyoon accused, glaring hatefully at Jaejin.

Jaejin stretched his arms out, getting ready to lift Kiyoon up.

“Told me what?” Kiyoon asked, her eyes snapping open.

Jiyong and Jiyoon gasped.

“I knew she was up to her old tricks again!” Jaejin exclaimed.

“Kiyoon!” Jiyoon exploded. “Don’t you ever! EVER!”

“Awww, unni. I love you, too,” Kiyoon said sweetly.

“Kiyoon, are you alright?” Jiyong asked softly.

Kiyoon turned to Jiyong. “Where’d you come from?”

All eyes held the same question as all three of them stared at Jiyong.

“From the back. I heard somebody singing.”

“Oh,” Kiyoon hiccupped.

“Are you alright? Sit up, lemme see,” Jiyoon commanded, helping Kiyoon up.

“Unni, I’m fine. Nothing – ”

“What’s wrong?” Jaejin asked, holding Kiyoon.

Kiyoon winced. “I gotta fart,” she joked.

“Try me,” Jiyoon said seriously. She lifted Kiyoon’s hair and examined her head while Jaejin checked for injuries to the arms and legs.

“Wow, I have two doctors serving me. I feel so lucky.”

“Nothing,” Jaejin reported, stilling supporting Kiyoon.

“Kiyoon, you feel dizzy?”

Kiyoon shook her head, her brain rattling inside.

“Well, I don’t want you walking. You’re probably lying right now, knowing you. Jaejin, carry her inside,” Jiyoon ordered.

“Wow. Unni, can I have breakfast in bed, too?”

“It’s past morning, doofus. You can breakfast in bed when you’re pregnant.”

Kiyoon frowned. “Unni!”

Jiyoon laughed. Kiyoon hates it when people tease her about marriage and children. “That’s what you get for messing with me. Now go on.”

Jaejin picked Kiyoon up easily and headed back in the house.

“Jiyoon nuna.”

“Uh?”

“Was that really Kiyoon singing?” Jiyong asked timidly.

“Isn’t she good? I told her she has a nice voice but she shuts me out. Maybe someone else should tell, maybe that way it’ll sink into her skull.”

Jiyong nodded to himself as Jiyoon disappeared inside the house.

====================

The music was on low, their voices soft as they conversated.

“No yuja chingoo?”

“Nope.”

Miyoon sighed. “You dunno how long I’ve looked for the perfect guy. The world just seem so out of them.”

Sunghoon felt a pang of guilt shot through him. “Miyoon – ”

“You dunno how you’ve made me feel complete. I know it’s weird having to call you my cousin, but we’re not really related.”

Sunghoon laid still on Miyoon’s bed as she went on.

“Kiyoon always made fun of me and told every guy that dated me to just ask my hand in marriage. She doesn’t even understand that I’m not easily satisfied. She just thinks as long as a guy has money and looks I’ll marry him and be happy. She’s so wrong. So wrong.”

“So…what exactly do you want in a guy?”

“Someone like you.”

Sunghoon wasn’t sure if he should comment or not. Then Kiyoon’s voice came dancing into his head. The conversation he had overheard, the one with Jiyong a few nights before. “You dunno my sister. Not as well as I do. We may have our differences, but I know her better than my mother does. She’s exactly the way how you see her. Materialistic. The only reason why she’s glued to Jiyong’s because one, he’s our cousin. Two, he’s a multimillionaire or a will be. Three, he’s the President of his father’s company. If he was the secretary and you were Jiyong…she’ll be treating him like shit! And she’ll be singing a different tune. Four, if she marries him, she’ll be Mrs. Ko Jiyong. Five, that not only help her socially, it’ll help her reputation and boosts her mental condition.”

Jiyong scoffed. “Mental condition?”

“She wallows in self-pity.”

“Jiyong?”

Sunghoon jolted back to the present. “Hmm?”

“Are you alright?”

He nodded vehemently. If only she knew, he thought.

Miyoon smiled and rested her head on his chest. Ko-Cho Miyoon…Such four beautiful words… She sighed as the thought crossed her mind.

====================

Kiyoon sighed. “Ko-Cho Miyoon…you dunno how long she has been dreaming of that.”

Jiyong shook his head. “How long?”

“Ever since she found out that there was a Jiyong.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Too long.”

Jiyong was glad Sunghoon had come up with the role-switching plan. He didn’t want to get married. And definitely not to Miyoon. He watched Kiyoon as she fell back against her pile of pillows, her hair flowing out beneath her.

“What?”

“Huh?”

“Why you looking at me like that?”

“I’m wondering how it feels like to kiss you,” Jiyong blurted absentmindedly.

Kiyoon’s mouth tumbled open like a mailbox. Jiyong kicked himself mentally, not realizing he had voiced his thought out loud. But he seized his chance and leaned towards Kiyoon, kissing her fully on the mouth.

Kiyoon felt her eyes popping out of her sockets as Jiyong’s lips branded hers. She felt a scream bubble at her throat, but is too petrified to make a sound.

Jiyong pulled away, sensing tension in Kiyoon’s body. He bit his lower lip once he saw her reaction. Which was scary because she had none. She sat frozen in her bed, her eyes unbelievably huge, her lips bright where he had just kissed her. “Kiyoon?”

“Eeeep. I got germs.”

“Kiyoon…I’m – ”

“I’ve been lip raped! Aaaaaahhhhhhh! Jiyoon! Jiyoon! Jaejin!”

“Kiyoon, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to do that! Really!”

“Kang Sunghoon! Touch me again, you DIE!”

Jiyong nodded, afraid of Kiyoon at the moment.

“Go get me my sister.”

“Kiyoon – ”

“Get her NOW!” she screamed. “And don’t you ever step foot into my room AGAIN!”

Jiyong felt himself tremble slightly as he left Kiyoon. He went downstairs to notify Jiyoon that Kiyoon wanted her and slumped in a chair in the dining room.

“What’s wrong?” Jaejin asked, glancing at Jiyong.

“Shoot me,” Jiyong mumbled, laying his head down on the table.

“Why?”

“I’ve committed a crime.”

“Uh-oh.”

“I lip raped Kiyoon.”

“WHAT?!”

“Shoot me,” Jiyong said again.

“What’s lip – ”

“I kissed her.”

“Ohhh…” Jaejin chortled. “YOU WHAT?!!”

“Stop making me feel guilty. Kill me.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…you kissed her? Did she beat you up? Lemme see.” Jaejin examined Jiyong and found nothing. “How much damage did you do to her?”

“A lot. Now she hates me.”

Jaejin fell out of his chair laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Jiyong demanded.

“Kiyoon’s not easy to understand. You violated her.”

“No wonder why she yelled at me.”

“That’s it? I thought she’d kill you by now. Guess you have done a lot of damage. You numbed her.”

“Kill me before I change my mind.”

“Did she invent this ‘lip raped’ vocabulary?”

Jiyong nodded.

“Creative. See how cute she is?”

“Jaejin, I need to speak with you,” Jiyoon interrupted.

Jaejin saluted. “Yes, Dr. Cho.”

Jiyoon advoided Jiyong’s curious eyes as Jaejin exited the dining room. “Sunghoon lip raped her?”

“He kissed her.”

“Oh…See, that’s what I didn’t understand. Wait – He kissed her?!”

“You looked shocked.”

“Jaejin, Kiyoon’s no Miyoon! Miyoon loves to liplock, are you forgetting that’s her hobby?! Kiyoon’s hobby’s to make sure every kid on this block gets sent to the hospital at least five times! She also like to make lips come out deformed so no kissing is done before her!”

Jaejin laughed. “And you?”

“What about me?”

“You just accept them from me.” Jaejin pulled Jiyoon close and brushed her lips gently.

“Jaejin, I’m serious.”

“I think it’s great. Jiyong and Miyoon. Sunghoon and Kiyoon.”

“Hold up. Sunghoon and Kiyoon?”

“Why not? I think the kid’s really into her. I mean she hasn’t beated up him. Right?”

“Yet.”

“Oh, Jiyoon. You look out for her too much.”

“That’s Kiyoon. If you don’t look out for her, she’ll start killing people next.”

“You sound more like a mother than your mother.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“When are we getting married so you can mother my babies?”

Jiyoon turned crimison at the question. “Never!”

“Now I see where Kiyoon got her streak of stubborness.”

Jiyoon slapped Jaejin’s shoulder jokingly.

“I feel so lucky,” Jaejin said, looking into Jiyoon’s eyes.

“Why?”

“Cuz…we’re not even married yet and we have a kid already.”

Jiyoon looked confused.

“Kiyoon. That’s our first born.”

Jiyoon laughed. “It does feel like I have a child. I just wish Kiyoon won’t be around to teach our children how to beat up people and climb trees like a monkey.”

“Nah…she won’t be. Cuz she’ll be too busy trying to train her kids how to march up and down the stairs like Army men.”

Jiyoon laughed. “What am I gonna do?”

“Nothing. Like Sunghoon go after her himself.”

“Then it’s gonna be one bloody battle.”

CHAPTER 17

Jiyong had gone up to his room as soon as he heard Jiyoon and Jaejin laughing. They must be making fun of me, he thought. He was surprised to have found Sunghoon in there looking out the window when he had clearly remembered seeing him and Miyoon together downstairs.

“Jiyong…I’m dead.”

“So am I.”

“No…you dunno how dead I am! Miyoon wants to marry me!”

Jiyong had already knew that. Kiyoon had told him a few nights ago. Plus it was so easy, putting two and two together.

“I dunno how to break it to her! I’m not Jiyong! I’m Sunghoon!”

“Don’t. Just go on being Jiyong. I don’t really care.”

“What?”

“Nothing. I’m calling my mom.”

“No, wait. Not until you tell me what’s your situation.”

“What do you mean?”

“You said you were dead too. Why?”

“I raped Kiyoon.”

“YOU WHAT?!”

“I feel so bad now. I mean…I didn’t mean to do it! It just happened!”

“You got horny?! I never knew you liked girls that are cheap imitation of guys!”

“What are you talking about?!”

“So, tell me! Was she really good in bed? Cuz I mean…you did…”

“Oh, God, Sunghoon! Where’d you get that from!?”

“You said you raped her!”

Jiyong gasped. “I did? I meant I ‘lip raped’ her.”

Now it was Sunghoon’s turn to gasp. “You didn’t do it?! You did it with your mouth?!”

“Huh?”

“Did she squeal…like? I mean…you did it all over?”

“What?!” Jiyong shrieked. Sunghoon was getting weird.

“Wow, you have a strange way of having sex. You didn’t – “

“Sunghoon, I kissed her. Where’d you get all that nasty stuff from?”

“Oh!” Sunghoon said sheepishly. “Well, why didn’t you say so. Making me all think you two had…”

“No, Sunghoon. I’m not like that. I don’t bed with every girl I see.”

“Hey! Now you’re making me sound like I do!”

“I never said you did.”

“So, how’s it like?”

“What?”

“Kissing a boy.”

“I dunno. Wanna try?”

“Ewwww! Jiyooooong!”

“Well, you asked how it felt to kiss a boy and I dunno. I’m curious, too. You’re a boy, I’m a boy…”

“Jiyong, I meant the he-she.”

“Sunghoon, Kiyoon’s not a he-she. She’s just tough and what’s that girl you’re hooked onto? A drag?”

“At least she’s normal!”

Jiyong snorted. “How does it feel to kiss a normal drag?”

“I dunno…I never kissed her.”

Jiyong gawked at him.

“Stop it! I’m no endangered specie!”

“I thought – “

“No…I feel guilty. She really thinks I’m you! I can’t kiss her having to know that it’s you she wants and not me! I’m just a stupid secretary.”

“Well…I dunno.”

“What about her?”

“What about her?”

“Well…?”

“Okay, okay…it was short and sweet. She didn’t kiss back, but I had fun. Is that what you want?”

“Wow. You shocked her.”

“I know. I think I zapped her brains out.” Jiyong frowned.

“I felt the same way when she kissed me.”

“Who?!”

“Miyoon, not her.”

“Oh…” Jiyong sighed with relief. Then he realized what he had done. He was afraid that Kiyoon and Sunghoon had hooked up for real! He had never thought he’d be fond of Kiyoon and now he’s worried over the fact that he may never kiss Kiyoon again!

“What am I gonna do?”

“Nothing,” Jiyong said, not aware of himself talking. “Just continue to lead them on until the day we get married.”

CHAPTER 18

“Nooooooooo,” Kiyoon pouted, hiding beneath her blanket. “I’m not coming out.”

“Kiyoon,” Jaejin said in a sing-a-long voice. “If you’re not coming out, I’m not marrying your sister.”

“I don’t care! I have a disease now! Get away from me!”

A disease? How amusing, Jaejin thought. “Well, so do I. I’m sick.”

“I know you are! All guys are sick!”

“But my sickness is different!”

“I know! Sunghoon’s retarded and you have AIDS!”

Jaejin laughed. “Retarded and AIDS? What kind of disease do you have?”

“Cancer! Lip cancer!”

Jaejin roared with laughter. “Lip cancer?”

“It’s not funny! I got it from Sunghoon!”

“I thought Sunghoon’s retarded?”

“He’s retarded and stupid!”

“Now three?”

“I’m no doctor!”

“Wanna know my illness?”

“What!”

“Love sick.”

“Ewwwww…Get away from me!”

“Don’t worry. I’ve only kissed your sister. I don’t think I have lip cancer.”

“Still! Leave me alone!”

“Kiyoon, Jiyoon’s pregnant.”

Kiyoon burrowed out of her blanket. “Say what?”

“Gotcha!” Jaejin winked, tickling Kiyoon.

“Aaaahhhhhh! No fair!” she wailed, giggling.

“So, lemme see your lips. I don’t think your lips are gonna fall off.”

“No, but he took over my job and they look deformed.”

Jaejin cupped Kiyoon’s chin and glanced at her bright pink lips. “Nah…they’re just a little colored. I think it has a fever.”

“My lips are naturally colored like that. I dunno why.”

“That’s good. Your husband can save money on cosmetic items. First accessory : no lipstick.”

Kiyoon’s face scrunched up at the mockery. “Haha.”

“I know what can make the color go away.”

“What?”

“Have Sunghoon poison you again with his lips.”

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!” Kiyoon hid under her blanket again.

“It’ll cool it down.”

“Get away from me!”

“But you better be at dinner!” Jaejin left Kiyoon alone to fight with her emotions. He entered Jiyoon’s room with a smirk on his face.

“What?” she asked eagerly.

“She likes him.”

“What?”

“She doesn’t realize it. I don’t think she even knows it. But it’s there. She’s gonna be his wife before she can even think of lipstick.”

CHAPTER 19

“Oma?”

“Jiyong?”

“Hi, ajooma!” Sunghoon shouted behind Jiyong.

“Can you keep it down? These walls have ears you know,” Jiyong whispered loudly.

“Jiyong?”

“Hi, Mom. How’s things?”

“You having fun?”

“A lot.”

“Where’s Sunghoon?”

“He’s dancing in his underwear.”

“Oh, that boy!”

“Just kidding, Oma. He’s here.”

Sunghoon snatched the receiver from Jiyong. “Hi, ajooma! Ajooma! You can’t believe how much fun I’m having here!”

“Really?”

“Yeah! And you were right about Miyoon! She’s hella cute!”

Jiyong shot a warning glare at Sunghoon, his eyes blazing.

“Well, I’m glad you’re having fun.”

“So am I, ajooma! Here’s Jiyong!” Sunghoon tossed the receiver back to Jiyong and hurried to dress himself for the family outting.

“Happy Birthday,” Mrs. Ko said.

“Thanks Oma.”

“I’m sorry I’m not there to give you a present. How are things?”

“So far so good.”

“Any luck with fun?”

“Oma…”

“Hmm?”

“I did something really bad.”

Silence.

“Oma…” Jiyong looked around and found that Sunghoon had already vanished. He whispered, “I kissed Kiyoon.”

“What? Speak up, I can’t hear you.”

Jiyong raised his voice just a bit. “I kissed Kiyoon.”

“I still can’t hear you.”

Softly, “I kissed Kiyoon.”

Gasp.

“Oma?”

Mrs. Ko recovered from her shock and quickly asked, “You did? What about her?”

“She’s mad at me. I don’t know what to do Oma! I dunno!”

Mrs. Ko laughed. “Do you like her?”

“Molla yo! That’s the problem! I dunno if I do! A few weeks ago we were ignoring each other, but said things to each other when neccessary and now! I dunno!”

“And now you kissed her. Are you sure she didn’t kiss you? Did she give you a birthday present?”

It then occured to him that he had never told his mother about the situation he and Sunghoon was in. “No.”

“Well, then maybe that was her gift to you?”

“It wasn’t! She jumped off the swing and I – ”

“Jumped off the swing?! What happened? Why did she jump off the swing? Don’t tell me she’s suicidal!”

“No…No, Oma…I think she just got carried away. You know Kiyoon, she’s always doing something wacky. And then I think she got dizzy and Jaejin had to carry her back to her room and I followed. Jiyoon tucked her in and asked me to stay and make sure she doesn’t leave. Well, not until dinner. So I stayed behind to chill…then Oma! I couldn’t help it! It just happened! I was looking at her and then next thing you know she tells me to get out!”

“You sound so much like a yuja…you know that? You worry too much.”

“But Oma!”

“You’re not sure you’re attracted to Kiyoon?”

“No! Sunghoon’s definitely sure! He knows he has a future with Miyoon and I’m still here trying to figure out whether Kiyoon likes guys or girls!”

“You don’t possibly mean that!”

“No, Oma. I don’t. But I really do want to know if I like her. I think I do…I dunno…I mean…there is no other reason for me to kiss her. It just happened.”

“Could it be that she looked really pretty at the moment?”

“She did. Her medium length hair flowing out beneath her. But…she always looked the same…Aigo! Oma! I’m having a headache!”

“I’m sorry I’m not helping. What are you going to do tonight?”

“I still have to face her tonight when we go out for dinner.”

“Dinner?”

“Birthday.”

“Oh…make sure you dress up nice. I want to see some pictures. And take plenty of Kiyoon! I wanna see how she look like now. Haven’t seen her since she was three!”

“Mom!”

Mrs. Ko laughed. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to ask her. Just ask Jiyoon to help, she’ll be glad to do it.

Jiyong agreed and bid his mother well before hanging up.

“Psssst! Birthday wangja!” Sunghoon whispered loudly.

“What?”

“Get in your best looking outfit. We’re going out fishing!”

Jiyong sighed as Sunghoon took off again. “It’s gonna be a long night.”

CHAPTER 20

Dinner went fairly well. Everybody was dressed elegantly and were paired off. Jaejin and Jiyoon, Sunghoon and Miyoon and the unfortunate : Jiyong and Kiyoon. The adults were the usual, the parents and Granny. Jaejin and Jiyoon rushed off to chatter about things that’ve occured at work and Miyoon as always was going on and on about various things. Kiyoon seated herself distantly from Jiyong in case if he was to act up again.

“A toast! Happy Birthday to Jiyong! He’s finally a man!” Kiyoon’s father pronounced, holding up the glass.

Everybody lifted their glasses and drank to it, Kiyoon and Jiyong did so reluctantly.

“Kiyoon, what do you wanna eat?” Jiyoon asked, looking over at her sister. “Sunghoon?”

“Whatever’s fine,” Kiyoon mumbled. “I’m not really hungry.”

“Nothing in particular,” Jiyong answered.

Jiyoon poked Jaejin in the ribs. “I thought you said – ”

“Rome wasn’t built in one day,” was all Jaejin said. He reached over and held onto Jiyoon’s hand.

“But – ”

“Shhhh…you’re ruining the magic. Just let them be. You’ll see.”

Jiyoon nodded before casting her worried eyes elsewhere.

“Like! I have to take you there! It’s so cute there!” Miyoon shrilled, her hands making empty gestures.

Sunghoon’s smile was brighter than ever as Miyoon went on.

Jiyong cleared his throat. Kiyoon looked away before he could even start speaking.

“Kiyoon…”

Silence.

“I – ”

“Jiyoon, I’m gonna use the phone. Be right back,” Kiyoon said stiffly as she pushed her chair back. She hurried to the public phone and dialed Suwon’s number before she knew it.

“Hello?”

“Suwon?”

“Who’s dis?”

“You know who.”

“Oh! Where you at?”

“Some shikdang. This stinks. I wanna go home.”

“I thought it was Jiyong’s birthday?”

“It is and they’re celebrating.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I dunno…”

Suwon, on the other end, frowned. It wasn’t like Kiyoon to talk like that. She’s avoiding questions and complaining too much. Something must’ve happened. “What happened? Do you want me to come?”

Kiyoon thought about the offer. It did sound comforting, but she didn’t want to make a big deal about her internal emotions. “It’s okay. I don’t wanna bother you.”

Should’ve thought of that before you called, Suwon thought. “No. It’s no bother. You sure?”

“Suwon! I – ” Kiyoon broke off, unable to continue.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Suwon…I’ve been kissed by a guy,” Kiyoon confessed, the unwanted guilt returning.

Suwon nearly dropped the phone. “What? I can’t hear you! It’s too noisy!”

Raising her voice a little, she repeated, “I’ve been kissed by a guy!”

Now Suwon dropped his phone for real. “And I thought I heard it wrong!” He quickly picked up his phone. “WHO?!” he hooted, the background noise of the restaurant getting louder.

“Kang Sunghoon…”

“WHO? Speak up, girl! I can’t hear you!”

“KANG SUNGHOON!” Kiyoon yelled.

Whoa. Suwon felt that slap across the face. Kang Sunghoon? The secretary? “You sure?”

“Suwon! It was only me and him in the room! Who else could it be?!”

“Uhh…you kissed him?” Suwon said dumbly.

Suwon infuriated her. “No, Jang Suwon!”

Uh-oh. Last name. “I’m sorry…I think – ”

“You better be! Wanna know what I think? You need some hearing aids and guess who’s not buying them?!” Kiyoon shouted into the phone. She slammed it down and stood before it, anger chewing her up like a granola bar.

“Hello? Yoooohoooo? Kiyoon?” Suwon called out. But it was no use. He knew she had hung up on him. “Oh my God!” The conversation replaying in his mind. “Kiyoon’s virgin lips! Hyung! Hyung! Oh my God, you’re not gonna believe this, hyung!” Suwon screamed as he ran upstairs to tell his brother the news.

“Done?”

Kiyoon looked up at the deep voice, surprised to have found herself still standing in front of the phone. Jiyong kept his cool and waited for a reply.

“No!” Kiyoon picked up the phone again, desperately trying to think of someone to call. Her finger automatically dialed Suwon’s number again, although she tried her very best to stop her finger from dialing and trembling so badly.

Jiyong reached up and pressed down on the hook, disconnecting Kiyoon. With his free hand he took her shaking hand away from the dialing keys.

“What’d you do that for!?” Kiyoon demanded, her eyes seething with hate.

“My turn to use it.” He shoved her away and waited till she was gone, but with no avail. She stayed rooted to the floor.

“Some gentleman you are.” Kiyoon waited for her turn, tapping her foot as impatience grew.

Jiyong stood uncomfortably in front of the phone. Not quite sure of who to call. He had actually wanted to see if Kiyoon was alright, not really wanting to use the phone. But now since he moved her away, she’s staring at him boldly, making him shift uncomfortably from foot to foot. He decided to call his mother since he couldn’t think of anybody to call at the moment. He turned around to Kiyoon. “Could I have some privacy?”

“I’m not up against your neck, listening word for word. Besides, I’m ten feet away from you!”

Oh, had Jiyong wished she was up against his neck, that way he can just look down and peck her on the forehead. He sighed. “Fine.” He turned around and dialed his mother’s number, waiting for her to pick up.

“Yeboseyo?”

“Mommy?”

“Jiyong?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s wrong? Where are you?”

“I’m at dinner. Some fancy restaurant.”

“Oh, nice?”

“Really.” Jiyong had expected to see Kiyoon still growling at him, but was surprised to see she had returned to the table.

“So…any pictures yet?”

“Nope. Not yet, Oma.”

“You sound down.”

“Mom, Kiyoon won’t even talk to me now!”

“Oh, dear. You really do like her, huh?”

“I guess so. I was just thinking of how it’ll be nice if I could go on kissing her forever.”

“Oh!”

“Just joking, Oma. But I did sorta hoped that she’ll forgive me, but by the looks of it, she’s still sour about it…Like I gave her some kind of disease.”

“Kiyoon’s still a child. How old did you say she is?”

“Eighteen.”

“Hmm…she’s still adjusting. I think that was her first kiss?”

“I think so too. She didn’t react to it.”

“She was scared. If you showed her you liked her…”

“No, Mom, one kiss was scary enough for her. If I gave any signs as to even growing fond of her, she’ll move to the next planet or commit suicide.”

“Why do you have to fall for girls that are so play hard to get?”

“Are you saying I should forget about her?”

“You should play hard, too.”

“What?”

“Does she know you’re interested?”

“Kiyoon doesn’t even know anything about crushes.”

“Then good. Make her jealous. Are there a lot of girls at that restaurant?”

Jiyong looked around. “Quite an amount.”

“Then go out there and talk to one. If Kiyoon wants to play the hard way, then you go play with her. Show her you don’t like her and get even at her at her own game.”

“Mom, I don’t think Kiyoon’s playing a game here.”

“I know. But you want her to like you…right?”

“I think so. I dunno what I want.”

“Jiyong…tell Oma straight answers. These are yes or no, no ‘dunno’ questions. Do you like Kiyoon?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want Kiyoon?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure you like Kiyoon?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re all set. Go after her.”

“Oma…”

“One more thing.”

“Huh?”

“Are you gonna marry her?”

CHAPTER 21

Jiyong took his mother’s and Sunghoon’s advice and went fishing. Amazingly, he caught two beautiful goldfishes.

“You’re cute,” one of the girls said.

“Thanks,” Jiyong mumbled sheepishly.

“What is he doing?!” Jiyoon demanded, tugging on Jaejin’s arm. “That was not part of the game plan!”

Jaejin followed Jiyoon’s gaze and quickly looked over to Kiyoon, who ate her plate of food in silence, avoiding conversations and contact. “Damn,” he muttered.

“What just happened?” Jiyoon whispered.

“C’mon. We’re going for a walk,” Jaejin murmured back. He pushed his chair back and Jiyoon quickly followed and both went over to Kiyoon and rescued her from the her version of ‘living hell.’

Kiyoon was more than gladly to get away from the noise, the people and mostly, Jiyong. “Where are we going?”

“Out. You need to breathe, you were choking on your food,” Jaejin said, silently cursing to himself.

Jiyong watched with curious eyes as the three left, Jiyoon’s arms around Kiyoon, as if comforting her. Oh, no…he thought.

“Hey! What did you say your name was?” a girl asked.

“Uh…Sunghoon.”

“Sunghoon?!” Gasp. “That’s such an adorable name! You’re so handsome!”

Jiyong nodded, his heart sinking. Kiyoon wasn’t there. “Uh…I have to go. My family wants me back at the table?”

“Sure. Make sure you come back later!” the girls chimed.

Jiyong slipped into his chair, which happened to be the next table over and sighed. Oh, Kiyoon…what have you done to me? He watched enviously as Sunghoon’s eyes twinkled at the little secret Miyoon was whispering in his ear. He picked up his chopsticks and began eating away. Afterall, it is his birthday.

====================

“Why’s Jaejin so mad?” Kiyoon mouthed, pulling Jiyoon to a halt.

Jiyoon shrugged. “Guess he had a bad day at work.”

“Jiyoon, you two didn’t go to work today. Remember? Jiyong’s birthday?”

Jiyoon slapped herself on the forehead. “Must be stress. You know…sick people and all…”

“That’s not it. Jaejin’s never like this.”

How observant, Jiyoon thought. She pulled Kiyoon to walk again, trailing after Jaejin in the wide city streets.

“Unni…I’m tired. Can we go home?”

Jiyoon looked strangely at Kiyoon before inquiring, “Why? You’re never tired…You don’t go to bed till three in the morning!”

Jaejin stopped once he sensed the two sisters weren’t behind him. “Now what?”

“Give her a piggy. She’s tired.”

“I’m sure I can walk. Just that I feel like sleeping at the moment.” Kiyoon yawned, the heat suddenly unbearable.

Jiyoon placed a cool hand of Kiyoon’s forehead. She glanced at Jaejin, her eyes widening.

“What?” Jaejin said inaudibly.

Jiyoon shook her head as she removed her hand.

“No, unni! Leave it there! That felt good.”

“Kiyoon, we’re taking you home.” Jaejin quickly turned around and headed back to the restaurant. Jiyoon hurried Kiyoon along, making sure they keep up with Jaejin.

“Wait in the car. I’ll be right down.” Jaejin handed Jiyoon the keys to his car and entered the restaurant. He scanned the crowded place and immediately went over to the table he was eating at earlier. “We’re going home first. Kiyoon isn’t feeling well. Jiyoon’s downstairs waiting,” he said in a rush.

“Wait – What? What happened?” Chaeya asked, lowering her chopsticks. Her face baffled.

“Kiyoon. She’s coming down with a fever. We’re bringing her home.”

“A fever?!” Jiyong cried. “A fever in the summer?”

“I’m thinking it has something to do with her studies and all that. She never stops. We’re taking her home.”

“We? Who’s – “

“Jiyoon’s downstairs in my car with her. I just came up here to tell you that. Gotta go.” Jaejin took off before anyone else could question him any further.

“Awww, don’t worry about her. They’re just trying to get some attention. I doubt it she’s even sick!” Miyoon said lightly. She sipped at her tonic.

“I think we should go,” Granny suggested. Whenever Kiyoon’s sick, it was always serious and heavy.

“No! I’m having fun!” Miyoon pouted.

“And you have no concern about your sister’s welfare whatsoever?” her father inquired. “We’re going home.”

Dinner ended soon and they all left for home in two separate cars.

“I dunno why we have to leave at such a petty little thing! I mean, Jaejin and Jiyoon’s with her, so why do we have to end our fun?”

“Miyoon…you wouldn’t like it if everybody else ignored you when you’re sick,” Sunghoon pointed out.

“I don’t! Which is why I think she deserves it!”

“Huh?”

“Nobody cared about me when I was sick, so why should I give a damn about them?”

“Not even me?” Sunghoon asked mildly.

“Except you, honey.” Miyoon smiled.

Jiyong felt himself grow sick. Miyoon was so cold hearted and he was glad Sunghoon was stuck with her.

After thirty minutes, they arrived home and everybody filed upstairs to Kiyoon’s room. All except Miyoon and Jiyong. Jiyong had left for his room and Miyoon stayed in the living room to watch late night sitcoms.

“Kiyoon?” Granny rasped, entering her granddaughter’s room.

“It is SOOOOOOOO hot! Open the windows! Appa! Where is he? He needs to get me an air-conditioner!” Kiyoon bellowed.

“Shhh…Kiyoon, calm down.”

Kiyoon slapped the hands away. “Go away…you’re making me hot! It’s so muggy in here! Where’s my water!?”

Jaejin searched the room for Jiyong. “Where’s Sunghoon?”

Sunghoon nearly stepped forward, but remembered he was Jiyong to them. “I think he’s in his room.”

Jaejin pushed past the worried mob and went down to Jiyong’s room. He threw the door open without knocking and saw Jiyong standing in front of his closet in his boxers.

“KANG SUNGHOON!”

Jiyong jumped out of his skin, unaware Jaejin had the door open. He quickly grabbed a pair of jeans and slipped it on.

Jaejin stalked forward and pushed Jiyong up against the closet door. “What did you do to Kiyoon?”

“Wha-Wha-What are you talking about?” Jiyong stuttered.

“I’m talking about today! Up here in her room! You did not only just kiss her! What did you do, you bastard?!”

Jiyong shoved Jaejin off, going wild at the accusation. “Are you saying I did sumthin to her?! Cuz if you’re saying that then you – “

“What did you do?!”

“NOTHING! It was all a mistake! All I did was just kiss her! One simple kiss!”

“You sure?”

“How am I supposed to know that she’ll have an allergic reaction to me?! She didn’t tell me!”

“Well, she didn’t know!”

“Are you defending her?!”

“Well, she’s gonna be my sister, what’d you expect?!”

Jiyong shook his head in disbelief and slumped against the closet. “Is she alright?”

“She’s hysterical. I think it’s a twenty-four hour virus.”

Jiyong moaned.

“You really like her.”

“No, I don’t,” Jiyong mumbled.

“Don’t lie. It’s so easy reading you. You didn’t even know you liked her till recently. Till today when you kissed her.”

Jiyong hid his face in his hands.

“Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. Just make sure she don’t go bonkers again.”

Jiyong stayed where he was, not wanting to move.

“And…make sure you find out what she’s allergic to. I can’t be with you two on every date, every event.”

CHAPTER 22

Kiyoon soon recovered from her ‘temporary’ discomfort and was up and about. July had quickly went by and so had Suwon’s birthday.

Suwon moved away on short notice, leaving Kiyoon friendless and lonely. It was already August and Kiyoon kept wishing for the days to go by faster.

“My…aren’t you one eager bug.”

Kiyoon turned from her computer screen at the voice. “Oma?”

“Never knew you liked school that much.”

“I don’t. I’m deleting things off my computer.”

“Oh.” A pause. “I see you’re getting happier and happier. May I ask why?”

Kiyoon stared at the screen, unable to meet her mother’s gaze. “They’re leaving.”

“Jiyong and Sunghoon? I thought you enjoyed their company!”

With her eyes still glued to the screen, “No, Oma. You only pretended I liked them. You imagined I got along with them. I never got close to them like Miyoon did.”

“Why not?”

“Why?”

“Kiyoon…”

“Mom…Suwon left. He moved!”

“I know that.”

“Can I move too?”

“You’re overreacting.”

“No, I’m not! Oma, you weren’t there when I’m in trouble. You didn’t give me parental discipline. I had it from Jiyoon and Suwon. And Jaejin. But I never learned anything from you! I’m overreacting? Suwon’s my best friend! My only friend.”

Chaeya sighed. “So what do you want me to do?”

“Make sure that Miyoon marries Jiyong.”

“Why?”

“So I can live longer.”

Chaeya shook her head. Kiyoon was always a bundle. Her and her questions. “What about you and Sunghoon?”

“What about me and him?”

“I thought you two were getting along great.”

“I was beginning to get used to him. Then I dunno…guess he’s not like Suwon.”

“Kiyoon, do you like Suwon?”

Kiyoon sat still, searching for an answer. “I don’t think so, Oma. We were never meant to be.”

“But do you?”

“No…I never pictured Suwon as anything else other than a trusting friend.”

“Then what about Sunghoon?”

“What about him?”

“He seems pretty trusting.”

“Yeah, I thought so too until he kissed me.”

“Kiyoon, it was only a kiss!” Chaeya cried, exasperated.

“I know! And that’s the problem! I don’t want to be kissed!”

“Hmm…” Chaeya observed her daughter, trying to understand her. It was so hard. Understanding Jiyoon and Miyoon was so easy, but when it came down to her last daughter, it’s like trying to put a puzzle together. “You’re afraid.”

“Huh?”

“You’re scared because if Sunghoon kisses you, you might start to like him. You can’t have that kind of problem when you’ve already seen how Miyoon and her boyfriends treat each other.”

“Suppose that if you want. I don’t care.”

“Well, you better start caring!”

Kiyoon looked up at her mother. “Why? Look at Miyoon! She cared too much and how much did it help her? Oma, sometimes I wonder if I was really adopted but I sensed that better half of you cared about me, I decided against that. But really…I’m wondering how much you really know about me.”

“Kiyoon!”

“How old was I when I first got into a fight?”

Chaeya looked around, trying to come up with an answer. “I-I-I dunno! First grade?”

“Five. Jiyoon had scratched me accidentally when she was trying to break us up. I ended up breaking the neighbor’s little boy’s nose. How old was I when I had won the Citywide piano recital contest?”

Chaeya stayed silent.

“Eight. See? You can barely even remember when I’ve done a little something you can be proud of and you say you know me? Yeah, other than my name, age, sex and birthday…what else can you tell me?”

Chaeya started hoarsely. “You…You were only two…I already knew by that age you’d grow up to be a brave woman. You never cried, not a tear. Granny was resting in the afternoon, Jiyoon and Miyoon was with her. Your father was at work…You were watching television. I was preparing dinner…cooking soup.” An intake of breath. “I was too busy cooking and had no idea you had came into the dining room. By that time I started getting ready to prepare the rest of dinner. I had already placed the pot of soup on the table, unaware you were in there. I never even bothered to check up on you. I just assumed you were laughing at the cartoons…” A sniffle. “You were always curious, always wanted to know everything…You somehow managed to get your hand on the pot…”

“And that’s how I got burned,” Kiyoon finished in a whisper. She looked down at her arm, the ugly scar staring back at her.

“When the pot came down, I didn’t hear you scream or cry. You just stood there, frozen. Not sure of what to do. I came running into the dining room and found you there with scalding soup dripping off your arm…I didn’t know what to do at the time and just held you for hours and hours. You didn’t cry…but I guess you didn’t know how. So I cried for you. I was so weak and you were the opposite. I didn’t want to wake Granny up and worry her. We only had one car back then. Your Appa came home and we took you to the hospital. You never flinched once nor had a single tear drop roll down your face.”

Kiyoon watched her mother sob, the rest of the story imprinted on the very scar on her arm. “Then that’s what made you believe I’m strong and independent?”

“Ever since that incident, I knew you weren’t gonna be like Miyoon or Jiyoon. You were the son I’ve always wanted, but instead…you came out as a girl.”

“So my final outcome as a girl disappointed you?”

“No…I have all my hopes in you. I wanted you to marry Jiyong, not Miyoon.”

“Me? Why me?”

“Let’s just say mothers have their reasons…but love can do otherwise.”

“What are you saying?”

“Sunghoon’s not bad.”

“I don’t like him! Final!”

“But…he likes you.”

“So?”

“Why are you avoiding it?”

“Because I’m sure he only thinks he likes me. Ten years down the road, he’ll be glad he didn’t marry me.”

“Don’t be so sure…your Appa almost made the same mistake. Instead he was glad he did marry me.”

“Oma…”

“Hmm?”

“Is it legal for me to marry at such a young age?”

“Why?”

“Because if it isn’t, then I can still live out my final years of freedom before I start giving potty training.”

CHAPTER 23

“The days are going by so fast!” Sunghoon said in awe. “It still feels like my first week here!”

Jiyong agreed. “It’s going by too fast.”

“I’m thinking about staying here.”

“What!?”

“Miyoon wants to get married and settle.”

“But-But you two only met a few months ago!”

“So? Isn’t that long enough?”

“Sunghoon…only spending time with her for three months does not tell you a whole lot about her.”

“No, you mean it doesn’t tell you a whole lot about Kiyoon.”

Jiyong regarded his friend strangely.

“Admit it, Jiyong. You’re all over her. I’ve seen the way how you look at her. You wish you could have her in your arms.”

Jiyong snarled. “At least she’s not money hungry. What will happen if she finds out you’re not me?”

“I’ll tell her when we get married. Like a few weeks later.”

“Wow, Sunghoon! Like that’s gonna help!” Jiyong said sarcastically.

“Hey! You’re just jealous because the both of us are paired off. Me and Miyoon and Jaejin and Jiyoon. You’re sour because you’re not up to Kiyoon’s standards!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?!” Jiyong bellowed. “I may not live up to her standards then what about you?! I’d rather live honestly and not up to her standards than pretend I’m living in the perfect world which doesn’t meet my standards!”

“Do you have any idea what you’ve just said does not make any sense?”

“Whatever. Go do what you want. Just make sure when we go back home, we swap families and i.d. cards.”

“Why are we fighting?”

“Because the real Ko Jiyong isn’t getting what he wants and he has PMS!”

====================

The phone sounded loudly and Kiyoon reached to pick it up. “Hello?”

“Chaeya?” a strange voice asked.

“No, who’s this?”

“Oh! Is this Jiyoon?”

“No, who’s this?”

“Kiyoon!”

“Who are you?”

“Jiyong’s mother.”

“Hi, ajooma.”

“Hi, darling. How’s Jiyong?”

“I dunno. Fine, I guess.”

“What’s wrong, darling?”

“Nothing. I’ll go get my mom.”

“No!”

“Huh?”

“Well…since I’m with you, I just wanna chat with you.”

“Uh-huh.”

“How are you and Jiyong getting along?’

“Jiyong? Oh, great!” Kiyoon lied.

“Really?” Mrs. Ko asked hopefully.

“Yeah. He’s a really nice kid. Nice smile.”

“Jiyong told me about your fever, how are you feeling?”

“Great. Thanks, ajooma. Jiyoon’s calling me, I have to go now.”

“Alright. I’ll talk to your Oma.”

Kiyoon left her room and handed the call over to her mother. “It’s Jiyong’s mom.” She hung up her extension and went on reading her book.

“Chaeya?”

“Uh?”

“I’m thinking…”

“What?”

“Maybe I should come by for a surprise.”

Chaeya gasped. “That’s a wonderful idea!”

“Are things well?”

“Very! The kids are happy, of course. I think Jiyong doesn’t want to leave.”

“That’s him when he has too much fun. How are things between him and Kiyoon? She tells me they’re getting along great.”

“Really? I guess…I’m never around to really find much out. I’m always working odd hours.”

Mrs. Ko laughed. “Did Jiyong get skinner or fatter? I’m so worried about him.”

“He’s definitely still the same. Very charming and funny.”

“And Sunghoon?”

“He’s kinda quiet and perserved. It’s funny…it seems more like he and Kiyoon are getting along better and Kiyoon and Jiyong.”

Mrs. Ko held onto the phone, the information quite startling. “Really?”

“Yes. Although they don’t talk much, but I sense a fondness between the two. Kiyoon just needs to open up more.”

“Hmm…I hope I’m not visiting at a bad time.”

“No! Come! You must come!”

“I will. I want to see Jiyoon. I haven’t seen her since she was a pretty little girl. She’s all grown up now, I bet.”

“Oh, yes. She’s planning on marrying soon. I think Kiyoon has nagged her long enough and she’s finally giving in.”

Mrs. Ko sighed. “Well, I hope you can help me keep this as a secret.”

“We’ll talk more later.”

“Definitely. I want to see all three of your daughters.”

“Awww…you’ll love them. I promise you.”

====================

“I know!” Sunghoon shouted, snapping his fingers.

“What now?”

“We can leave and go back home. I will tell Miyoon that I’ll write to her. That way nothing will go bad.”

“Now…try this : you give her your digits and she’ll ring you up…Who’ll she ask for? Jiyong oppa! Not Sunghoonie.”

“Damn!” Sunghoon cursed at the reminder. “What am I gonna do?”

“Leave. Skip town. Give her a fake number but remember to get hers.”

“She’ll bug me for it.”

“Funny, that’s what I would say about you. Give her your cell number.”

“Oh, no! If I do, I’ll need to cancel it and change my number again.”

“Like you mind.”

“I do!”

“Fine. Just wait a couple of days. There’s only a few more days till September.”

“Five days and one week till September second.”

“So you’re keeping count.”

“That’s when I go to Hell.”

CHAPTER 24

The plan was all set. It was August twenty ninth, Mrs. Ko landed at the airport, awaiting for Chaeya to come and pick her up. They had it all planned out that she would come and surprise her son and then go home with an engagement. Kiyoon was to be her daughter-in-law and she was nervous in a way, meeting the girl Jiyong liked.

====================

“Where is Oma going this early in the morning?” Miyoon questioned, watching her mother pull away from the driveway.

“Molla,” Jiyoon replied with a shrug. She handed Jaejin his breakfast and went on to pour Kiyoon her coffee.

“I’m telling! Kiyoon’s not supposed to drink that!”

“Why are you being such a bitch? Don’t you know that pretty girls like you drink it would get wrinkles and look old? Coffee stains on your teeth?” Jiyong retorted.

Miyoon gasped. “For real?”

“Give Kiyoon her coffee.”

====================

Chaeya arrived at the airport in forty minutes, the traffic surprisingly light. She entered the airport, searching for her long time friend. Sure enough, there she was. The two women hurried out, both eager to catch up on each other’s life since the last time they’ve seen each other. The ride was cheery and the chatter never ended.

====================

“Well, Jiyong oppa. We have to do something memorable together since you’re gonna leave soon,” Miyoon said decisively.

“What do you suggest?” Sunghoon asked, chewing on his biscuit.

“Can I moon you?” Kiyoon asked childishly, sipping at her light colored coffee.

“Moon?”

“Never mind. You probably prefer Miyoon’s ass, since hers’ more fuller and has bouncety-bounce.”

“I’m eating you know,” Jaejin reminded Kiyoon with his mouth full.

“And I’m talking. Can I give you a makeover?”

Jaejin shook his head hard, his hair flying. “The last that happened I looked like a drag!”

“You know you liked it.”

“No. Give Sunghoon one. Maybe he’ll look more suitable to your tastes.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind. Don’t talk nasty. I’m not digesting.”

“I think we should go noraebang,” Jiyoon said casually, spreading jam over her bread.

“Yeah!” Jaejin agreed, his eyes lighting up.

“Shopping!” Miyoon cried.

“Miyoon! Find a new hobby. You’ve been doing that ever since you knew how to walk. Didn’t you just go yesterday?” Jaejin asked.

“Swimming?” Jiyong suggested.

“It’ll kill my hair,” Sunghoon was quick to remind Jiyong.

“You have a wig on?!” Kiyoon gasped.

“I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take this hair piece off if you promise you’ll take off your clothes,” Sunghoon argued.

“What are you, NUTS?! Unni, we have a pervert in the house!”

“Make it two. Jiyong and Kiyoon,” Jaejin corrected. “One wants to see naked body, the other wants to see naked head.”

Kiyoon stuck her tongue out.

“I know! Kiyoon’s favorite game! Truth or Dare!” Miyoon cried excitedly.

“We’re not stranded on an island, you know. Plus, it’s not fun when it’s bright out. I like it better when it’s dark…you know?”

“Damn vampire,” Miyoon muttered, glaring at Kiyoon.

“Well, you better think quick. I’m getting ancient here!” Jiyong said loudly, reading the newspaper.

“Isn’t that Kiyoon’s phrase?” Miyoon raised a brow.

“And so? At least he’s learning from his master. What did your pupil learn?” Kiyoon challenged, eyeing Sunghoon.

“FOOD FIGHT!!!!” Sunghoon screamed, taking the can of whip cream and squirting it at Kiyoon.

“You mother flower!” Kiyoon took her remaining cup of coffee and splashed it at Sunghoon’s face, washing him over with the warm liquid. She jumped off her seat and snatched the paper from Jiyong, rolling it up before she ran after Sunghoon.

“Miyoon! If I don’t come back alive, call 911!!!” Sunghoon yelled as he dashed out to the yard.

“Miyoon! If you don’t hear anything at all, call the morgue!!! Jiyoon! Call the hospital! Sunghoon! Call the funeral home!” Kiyoon barked, chasing after Sunghoon.

“What about me!?!” Jaejin shouted, running to the sliding doors.

“Be prepared to give mouth-to-mouth!”

“Ewww…I hope that boy don’t have lip cancer.”

Everybody laughed as they cleaned up the mess, waiting for Kiyoon and Sunghoon to finish their game of ‘Cat and Mouse.’

====================

“We’re almost there!” Chaeya announced.

“You think this is a good idea?”

“Absolutely!”

“Oh, I dunno. I don’t want to embarrass Jiyong. He doesn’t – “

“Nonsense! You’ll get to see the children bond. With them two, things just get livelier.”

“How’s the children?”

“Very good. Your son’s simply charming. Very fine man. You’re so lucky you have a son like him. I can’t even get Kiyoon to act lady-like,” Chaeya complained, driving into the driveway.

“Oh, she’ll grow out of it. Jiyong tells me a lot about her. He said she’s smart and pretty, funny…he said it just seem so impossible to cram all those traits and wits into one person. He completely adores her.”

Once again, Chaeya was confused. She dismissed the confusing thought and guided her friend to the house. She helped with the light luggage and together they strolled up the walkway in the front of the house.

“Ko Jiyong! You stand still, you hear me!?”

The two woman outside froze at the command, unaware of the chaotic situation inside.

“That’s Kiyoon,” Chaeya whispered.

Mrs. Ko nodded, not sure if she should be afraid or alarmed. Had Jiyong offend her? What did he do?

“Ko Jiyong!” Kiyoon bellowed again, this time jumping over the chairs. She had already changed into another outfit and kept after Sunghoon as soon as he came out of the quick shower. “Jiyong! C’mere!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!” Sunghoon screamed shrilly, waving his arms like a madman. “Miyoon!”

Jiyong laughed on, the sight hilarious. Kiyoon and Sunghoon could go on all day. Sunghoon pretending to be scared and Kiyoon still persuing him with Jiyong’s morning paper.

“Whacha gonna do? Whacha gonna do? Whacha gonna do when dey come for you, dumb ass, dumb ass,” Kiyoon sang, changing the words to the ‘Cops’ theme song.

“I’m gonna kill you!” Sunghoon shrieked.

“Not after I give you a big, wet smoochie!” Kiyoon sped up and ran back into the house just as the front door opened.

By accident, Sunghoon screamed Jiyong’s name out loud, forgetting in the moment of fun that he was Jiyong. “JEEEEEEEEEEYOOOOOOOOOOONG!!!!!!!!”

The audience, (Jaejin, Jiyong, Jiyoon and Miyoon) followed the two racers to the kitchen, through the dining room and BAM! To the living room.

“They’re up to their little games again. Kiyoon’s the big bully around here. She’s always picking on people,” Chaeya explained as she unlocked the front door and shoved it open.

“Hiya!!!!” Kiyoon shrilled, imitating Bruce Lee. “I shall moon you!”

Sunghoon’s feet came to an abrupt halt causing Kiyoon to run right into him at the swinging doorway.

“Hey! I caught you! I caught you!” Kiyoon cried gleefully.

Jiyong, being the tallest quickly looked over to the front door and felt his legs go numb. It was rubbery. Simultaneously, he and Kiyoon both cried out, “Oma!”

Both surprised and…dead.

CHAPTER  25

“O-O-Oma!” Sunghoon stammered, hurrying over to Jiyong’s mother as soon as he recovered from his shock. Everybody had filed into the living room, embarrassed to have been found fooling around like little children.

“Oma?” Mrs. Ko cried. She looked over to her “real” son, Jiyong, baffled by Sunghoon’s actions. “Are you alright?” she asked, her hand over Sunghoon’s forehead.

“I’m fine! I’m fine! How are you, Oma? What are you doing here?” Sunghoon asked hastily.

Jiyong moaned. When things are going great, they always have to take an unexpected turn. Now what Sunghoon did really was the unexpected.

He pecked Jiyong’s mother on the cheek as if it was his own mother! Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!

“Sunghoon!” Mrs. Ko gasped. “Jiyong! What’s going on?!”

Jiyong scooted over to hide behind Kiyoon, his mother’s demanding gaze following him. He ducked his head as all eyes turned to him.

“Ajooma!” Miyoon said sweetly, coming to Sunghoon’s rescue. She looped her arm through Mrs. Ko’s. “We haven’t seen each other so long, you still remember me? I’m Miyoon. Jiyong’s girlfriend?”

“Jiyong?!” Another gasp. “Jiyong, I thought you said you liked Kiyoon!”

“WHAT?!” Miyoon shrieked. She turned to Sunghoon. “You bastard!”

“Miyoon! Wait! Lemme explain!” Sunghoon cried.

“Me?” Kiyoon said meekly. She looked somewhat shocked yet disgusted. She glanced at Sunghoon. “I-I-I thought…”

“You must be Kiyoon,” Mrs. Ko assumed, reaching for Kiyoon. “My! You certainly have grown into a pretty flower! You look better in person than in pictures! Hmm…Jiyong certainly has made a fine choice.”

“WHAT?!” Miyoon and Kiyoon hooted in unison. “JIYONG?!”

Jiyoon left Jaejin standing by himself and pushed past the two younger girls. “Ajooma, sit down. We’re confused. Please explain to us what’s going on.”

“Going on? Shouldn’t you five tell me what’s going on? I’m just telling you what Sunghoon and Jiyong reported to me,” Mrs. Ko replied innocently.

“Sunghoon?” Kiyoon prompted, turning around to face Jiyong.

Miyoon marched over to Sunghoon. “Honey! What’s happening?!”

Mrs. Ko took Jiyoon’s advice and seated herself on the family couch, waiting for an explanation. “Jiyong?”

Jiyong looked up at his name, accidentally meeting Kiyoon’s bold stare. “Uh-oh.”

Kiyoon searched Jiyong’s eyes, afraid to guess the truth. “Sunghoon?”

“I-I-I…”

“Jiyong,” his mother said again.

“Jiyong, your mother’s calling you!” Miyoon said, nudging Sunghoon.

Reluctantly, Sunghoon hurried to Mrs. Ko. “Yes…Mom?”

“Sunghoon, stop being funny. Tell Jiyong to c’mere,” she ordered.

“Jiyong?” Jiyoon murmured. She glanced at the ‘real’ Jiyong.

“Sunghoon?” Kiyoon said again softly.

Mrs. Ko pushed Sunghoon aside and stood up. She strode over to Kiyoon and Jiyong, her eyes full of questions and impatience. “Jiyong! What the hell is going on?!” she finally yelled.

Kiyoon nearly fell on her behind. “Ji-Ji-Jiyong?!”

“JIYONG!?” Everybody else in the room chorused, except for Sunghoon.

“Oma…” Jiyong started, unable to meet his mother’s piercing gaze.

“What did you two do this time?”

“Oma…what are you doing here?”

Chaeya interrupted. “Calm down. They didn’t do anything. They’re both wonderful children. You’ve clearly mistaken. Jiyong’s over there. This is Sunghoon. Are you alright? I think perhaps it’s the heat – ”

“Chaeya, I gave birth to my own son. Shouldn’t I know who and how he is?”

Silence.

“Jiyong?”

“I knew things weren’t right with these two when I first saw them.”

Everyone turned to Granny’s voice, the old woman shuffling out from her room.

“I remember when I last saw Jiyong, he was seven, he had this scar on his hand. One you said it’ll be permanent. Remember, darling? I asked you about it when I was holding him?”

Mrs. Ko nodded, remembering the day.

“And when I saw him – ” Granny turned to Sunghoon. “I knew instantly he wasn’t the same Jiyong I met many years ago. He didn’t have that scar when he fell off his bike. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even have any scar on either hand.”

Kiyoon reeled around to face Jiyong, her eyes blazing with confusion. Oh, please don’t let Suwon be right and grant my mother’s wish, she prayed silently. She immediately reached for his hands, searching for the mentioned scar.

“It’s on his right hand. The back. It’s very close to his wrist, watch for it closely, cause it’s very light and easy to miss,” Granny instructed. “I thought neither of them were Jiyong, until one day in the kitchen I saw him and Kiyoon together and she had accidentally burned him with the kettle. I helped him apply ice and alcohol, that’s when I saw it. It was so faint…”

Kiyoon peered at Jiyong’s hand and sure enough, she spotted it.

“Told you.”

Kiyoon dropped his hand, shocked at the evidence. “Sunghoon, you – ” she started.

Then Miyoon screamed. A loud deafening scream.

“Shut up! You know you can’t sing, why start now?!” Kiyoon thundered.

Then Miyoon snapped. Hysterical. Whoa.

“Miyoon! Stop it!” Jiyoon hushed, trying to silence her delirious sister.

“I told you she’s retarded,” Kiyoon sneered. “Next she’ll wanna kill Sunghoon for not telling her the truth.”

“Stop it, Kiyoon,” her mother scolded.

Kiyoon drew an invisible line over her lips and stepped back.

“I can’t believe this!” Miyoon wailed over and over again.

Kiyoon stabbed Jiyong’s ribs, whispering, “Forget about being a nut. She can be a drama queen. A dumb one who doesn’t know her lines.”

Jiyong giggled. It was such a comfort being close to Kiyoon. At least she can protect him better than Sunghoon does.

“Ey, Sunghoon,” she whispered.

Jiyong lowered himself to hear Kiyoon better. “What?”

“So…you’re the real Jiyong and not some cheesy secretary?”

Jiyong nodded.

“Wait…so now I have to say the same thing to you the day when I met him.”

Jiyong was confused. “What?”

“Let’s start over.” She held out her hand. “So…you’re that faggot Jiyong.”

Subconsciously, he laughed out loud, not realizing all curious eyes are on him. He quieted himself and muttered a, “Sorry.”

“I can’t believe it!” Miyoon squealed again.

“Let’s start all over,” Jiyoon said. “Everybody sit down!”

Jiyoon helped Granny to her favorite chair and settled with Jaejin when everyone was ready to hear the story.

“Sunghoon?” Chaeya insisted, referring to Jiyong.

“Oma, it’s Jiyong. Cousin Jiyong,” Kiyoon corrected.

Sunghoon had made sure he was far from Miyoon just in case she decided to attack him.

“Uhmm…Sunghoon and I…we were coming here for a vacation and as you…all know…there was a mess up.”

Sunghoon cleared his throat and picked up the story. “At first we only meant to play a trick. We didn’t mean for it to go this far! We’d thought you all could tell the difference. We really wanted to tell all of you, but we just didn’t know how. And…when Miyoon keeps calling Jiyong’s name…” Sunghoon shifted uncomfortably. “I just wanted to tell her I’m not the one she wanted.”

“So…you’re Sunghoon and he’s Jiyong?” Jaejin asked, glancing back and forth.

Slowly, they nodded. Miyoon wailed.

“Oh, no! This can’t be happening! Sunghoonie’s the real Jiyong oppa!” Kiyoon mocked.

Glumly, Miyoon agreed. “All I got was his secretary.”

For once, Kiyoon was serious with her sister. “Sumthin’s wrong with Miyoon. She’s not screaming.”

“Give her a minute to recharge her battery,” Jiyong whispered.

True to his word, Miyoon started pouting. “Aaahhhhaaaaaaaaaa! That is SOOOO unfair! Why does she get everything?!”

Kiyoon quickly jumped to her feet. “Everything?! Listen here, Barbie doll, I never got EVERYTHING! Everything I got was hand-me-downs! You were the gongju! I was never anything! Neither was Jiyoon! You had to have everything your way! What did I have?! Other than the toys and a few other accessories Jiyoon makes for me, I never got ANYTHING! Other than a few things Mom and Dad got me, you had EVERYTHING!”

“But not Jiyong!” Miyoon shrilled.

Kiyoon was baffled. “Ji-Ji-Jiyong?”

“Didn’t you listen?! Before ajooma had said anything else, she clearly stated that Jiyong like you! YOU!!! Not me! I got the fake! The FAKE!!!”

“Miyoon…Miyoon, calm down,” Jiyoon interrupted. “This stuff is too much for Kiyoon. She still doesn’t know how it feels like to have a crush.”

“Are you forgetting that Jaejin’s already with you for the rest of your life?! I have to marry him?!” Miyoon shrieked, waving at Sunghoon.

“I won’t marry!” Kiyoon quickly offered, feeling panicked.

Now Kiyoon’s in the spotlight. Miyoon felt her hopes rise. Jiyong was abruptly on his feet.

“Kiyoon,” Jiyoon said breathlessly. “You can’t mess with something as serious as marriage.”

The adults exchanged glances, all the humor in their eyes.

“Besides, Oma and Appa had already – ”

“Already what?!” Kiyoon shouted, cutting Jiyoon off.

“They said, if the both of you fall in love, they’ll…”

“In love?! Who’s in love?! Who said I was in love?!” Kiyoon demanded.

The adults finally burst out laughing.

“What?!”

“You sure you’re not in love?” Jiyoon teased.

“With…Jiyong oppa?” Miyoon added.

Kiyoon pouted, her face scrunched up with defeat. “No! And I will not marry!”

“We won! We won!” Jiyoon whooped. “Kiyoon finally grew up!”

“Haha…guess you’re not so stubborn,” Jiyong chortled, blowing into Kiyoon’s ear.

“Oh, yeah? What makes you think Miyoon will marry Sunghoon? She’s so devoted and dedicated to Jiyong oppa. She did say she like you and would like to be your future wife. I never said anything.”

Jiyong looked over to Miyoon. “Nah. She’s not the real Cho Kiyoon. I’m glad it was only me and Sunghoon that played this trick and not you two. Otherwise…”

“Otherwise what?” Kiyoon challenged.

“I’ll never know who’s the unspoiled Kiyoon,” Jiyong answered with a kiss. “Nor who’s virgin lips I shall deflower.”

EPILOGUE

So there you have it. That’s how I met my wife and married her with my heart’s content.

All three of us had our wedding on the same day and we all dressed alike. The guys in white and the girls in three different bridal gowns. I must say, my Kiyoon looked the most cutest and the most drop dead gorgeous of the sisters.

For the dinner event, we all went out in black tux and Jiyoon and Miyoon had on red while my Kiyoon had to be the oddball that she is and went with light purple. It wasn’t until later she then confided me and told me her mother’s and Suwon’s dream came true. I asked her why and she told me about the conversation she had with her best friend one day and he had said this would happen. And I’m glad it did.

To this day Miyoon’s still sour over the fact that Kiyoon had won the greatest award. The real me. The real Ko Jiyong. She’s upset with the fact that Sunghoon’s only the secretary and not the Cousin Jiyong she had thought she’d hook up with. But her attitude towards me…let’s just say she’s much nicer now and is still envying Kiyoon. Nevertheless, their relationship as sisters has gotten better.

Sunghoon…poor guy. He still wallows in self-pity, wishing that he had married Kiyoon. But I thought otherwise. I actually like the role-switching. You can say he saved my future and himself. Afterall, don’t you agree he and Miyoon are one of a kind?

As for Jaejin and Jiyoon, they moved out two weeks after their marriage. Jiyoon continued her medical studies, but quit her job at the hospital and often came by to visit. Jaejin, now having his own practice, is always busy with the patients. They’ll be expecting their first child sometime soon.

Now for me and Kiyoon, we stayed a good two months at her place before moving home with me. My mother was delighted, of course, and is pestering for a grandson.

Exactly my thoughts. Already?! Mom, Kiyoon’s still Kiyoon, she won’t even let me touch her when we go to bed at night! So where did she get the idea Kiyoon’d be pregnant with a baby, I don’t know. Knowing Kiyoon, she’ll even put up a fight if I tried to kiss her. I know, right? Still?!! She hasn’t grown up a bit, still her childish tomboy ways. Besides, she’s majoring in Creative Writing. She’s decided to become a freelance writer while getting a job as a piano teacher and learning as much as she could about computers. Nerds…who said they’re not cute? I love her.

And so that’s the end of it. I met my love that summer, married her at the end of summer. My kid’ll be born in the summer. That was my summer in love…

Sentiment by xerces

sentiment.JPG

  • a Jiyong short story
  • completed

This is either from 2002 or 2003 … can’t remember. Must remember to date my documents from now on, because the access information that comes with them are not really that accurate once you start transferring.

Anyway, super super short story that is of my very typical writing style.
*

I viewed Ji Yong as an extension. Kind of like an additive to someone that I already knew.

That someone was a childhood friend whom I had lost contact with since secondary school. The day I ran into her again after so many years, Ji Yong had been the only other person around.

It had snowed, that day. He was draped in black from head to toe, with the exception of a grey scarf, which hung loosely around his neck. Classy, I thought to myself. I liked that scarf and his trench coat.

Nina introduced him as her boyfriend and that was precisely how I came to know him, Nina’s boyfriend. Rarely do I see them apart, as she was the kind of girl who needed constant love and attention from those she loved. Our friendship sustained under the circumstances that I had been too lazy to make new friends, and because she was around, we kept in touch.

Very little similarities existed between us, Nina and me. But she liked me for whatever reasons, and often invited me to join her and her friends on outings for fun. I usually decline.

Bits of enjoyment do come with the times that I attend one of Nina’s events. She had silly friends that frequently became my objects of ridicule and laughter, in secret of course, I was all about manners. I liked to sit alone and listen to their conversations from a distance, and sometimes they speak of something of my interest, sometimes not.

People who knew me had nothing nice to say about my bad habit, of course, and I was frequently criticized for my boundless standards and what someone had described as nasty arrogance. Regardless, I’ve never failed to maintain approval from the few close people in my life, and thus went about disparaging whomever I felt like.

Perhaps Ji Yong had been, at times, classified with the rest, but for the most part, separate from the others. Extension, as I had called him, even if Nina was the one with attachment problems because, to me he was only the boyfriend of a friend. But then, often do I witness his solitude amongst a busy party, as he tends to stand out. While Nina enjoyed fluttering from one conversation to another, he chose instead to help himself to a chilled bottle of wine and made company with the stars from an adjacent balcony.

Rather romantic, I would say, even if it were just he and his wine. There was something unique about the way his hair fluttered in the wind just like any other hair, I suppose, but it was quite a pretty picture. And I happen to like people who can enjoy time by themselves.

”Look,” Nina crept up beside me with a magazine in her hands. “Doesn’t he remind you of the model in this perfume ad?”

I took a glimpse of the photograph and then at her boyfriend.

”Very,” I laughed. “Very nice.”

”They all tell me that he’s a good catch,” she put the magazine aside and smiled. “But, sometimes I don’t think he really cares.”
“Cares?? I arched an eyebrow. “Isn’t it good enough that he’s eye candy?”

”Oh , he’s more than just that,” she played with a curl in her hair. “There also intelligence, grace, talent , money.”

”That’s the whole package there,” I smiled, even though I felt as if there was something missing from her answer. “The perfect match for you.”

”Which reminds me,” she changed the subject abruptly. “You really ought to smile more often. It just kind of lightens up things.”

”So you’re not the first person to tell me,” I said to her. “Maybe you don’t understand, but there’s not much worth smiling about these days.”

”Maybe you don’t believe me,” she replied. “But I sometimes understand.”

That night was the last time I saw the two of them together. Due to plans of going overseas, I spent much time dealing with international officials and saw little of no one else. Nina called a few times to invite me to the movies and once to tell me that she and Ji Yong were having issues.

”Everything he does for me is out of courtesy,” she wept. I don’t feel as if I have any importance in his life.”

”If you don’t want to give him up,” I advised although had absolutely no idea of what to say. “Give him some time, and maybe he’ll snap out of it.”

I never found out what happened between the picture perfect couple, but ironically, the next time I saw Ji Yong was on the American Valentine’s Day shortly before I had to leave home. I inquired, of course, the whereabouts of my friend, but he only looked at me for a long time without any reply.

”What are you doing out here in the snow?” he inquired some while later, after I finally understood that it was perhaps not a good time to talk to him about his girlfriend.

”Waiting for class to start,” I replied. “There’s a long time to pass.”

”Not cold?”

”No, not anymore.”

He smiled and looked away into some far distance where I was unable to detect. I left him to his own thoughts and returned to something that I had been working on before he came, looking up only every once in a while to keep track time from the clock on the tower. As I scribbled away in the company of his silence, a part of his shadow blanketed over my body as if to remind me of his existence. Glancing up at him out of some sort of curiosity, I realized that, he had somehow become rather tempting for the eye.

And thus I stared.

”How forgiving of a person is Nina?” he broke the silence.

”It would have to depend on the situation,” I pondered a bit before answering the question.

”True,” he nodded, and then turned to me. “How forgiving of a person are you?”

”Well” I smiled. “It would have to depend on the person.”

”Would it?”

He suddenly leaned towards me and brushed my lips with a gentle kiss.

I somehow managed to sit through process of his action with sheer composure, but couldn’t bring myself to voice an opinion after he broke away.

”I’m glad that I know of you,” he spoke softly before taking his leave. “Although not sooner.”

Know of me.

I didn’t know what he meant by those words, and to add on to the complication, his kiss. And as much as I wanted to know, time didn’t seem to permit. While one past occurrence has occupied my mind, another that I perhaps should have known about had entered my reflections without any prior warning.

I spent my last day at the school tying up some administrative loose ends in the transfer office, and, as for the rest of my time on campus, wondering if I抎 run into anyone that I had wanted to see.

Ji Yong had been one of those people but unfortunately I had told no one of my departure, and the day ended peacefully.

It was nothing more or less than what I had expected.

Mi An Hae Yo by: Sechskies Lover

IMG_1921.JPG

  • a Jiyong fanfic
  • completed

Chapter 1

Jin rolled over to the side of her bed and gasped. “Shit!” she screamed. She was late for work. She quickly washed up and threw on some clothes. As she tugged on her nylons, they tore. “Shit.” She grabbed another pair and pulled them on. She ran outside of her apartment building and hopped aboard a taxi. As she fumbled through her purse for her makeup and ended up spilling everything out. “Sorry, sorry,” she told the taxi driver. “Shit,” she mumbled. She gathered all her cosmetics and popped the lid off her lipstick, but there was nothing left but a flat stub. She hastily scribbled in her planner “buy new lipstick.” Finally, she grabbed a shiny pink eye pencil and started lining her eyes with it.

KACHUNK. “Sorry Miss, speed bump,” apologized the taxi driver.

Jin gritted her teeth at her reflection. A pink line was smeared all the way across her eyelid. She tried rubbing it off with a tissue, but it just smeared it more. She finally gave up and threw her compact in her new leather Gucci purse.

“We’re here, Miss!” Jin paid the driver and in her haste of getting out, she stepped into a big mud puddle and splashed mud all over her nicely pressed skirt. She managed to refrain from screaming out loud like a mad woman. She rushed into the Korean Globe building.

“Miss Lee, late again, I see!”

Jin winced. “I’m sorry, Mr. Cho. I got caught in traffic.”

The editor-in-chief frowned disapprovingly. “Well, Miss Lee. You know the rules. Last one in takes coffee orders.”

Jin nodded meekly. “Yes sir.” She quickly took down everyone’s orders and ran towards the coffee room.

Jin’s friend Yuri tagged along. “What happened to you?” asked Yuri, looking at Jin’s appearance.

Jin rolled her eyes. “I’m just having one of those days,” she sighed.

Yuri nodded with understanding. “Oh, I know.. There was this one day..” she babbled.

Jin wasn’t even listening to a thing Yuri was saying. She was having such a crappy day she couldn’t think straight. After the two of them finally finished making the coffee, they carried the cups on plastic trays back to the main work room. Everyone hounded them for their daily dose of caffeine. Jin felt someone pinch her arm.

“You look a fright.”

Jin hit him with her tray. “Shut up Sunghoon.”

Sunghoon giggled in a silly manner. “What happened to you?”

“Why do I get the feeling I’m going to be asked that a lot today?” Sunghoon grinned. “I guess you could say this is one of those days,” said Jin.

Sunghoon put his arm around her slyly. “Well, since you’ve been having a bad day, I’ve got a surprise for you. The most handsome man in Seoul will take you out to dinner tomorrow night.”

Jin stared at his handsome face. “Really? That’s great Sunghoon, but I’d much rather go out with you if you’re free.”

Sunghoon removed his arm. “I’m hurt.”

Jin nudged Sunghoon’s head with her fist. “You know I’m kidding, what time?”

Sunghoon smiled. “Well, I’ve got an appointment after work so how about we meet at our favorite dduk bboki stand at seven?”

Jin nodded. “Okay.”

“Miss Lee!”

Jin pretended to gag. “Yes, Mr. Cho!” she responded sweetly. “I’ll see you Saturday,” she whispered. Her best friends at work were Yuri and Sunghoon. Work wouldn’t have been as fun without them around. She walked towards Mr. Cho. “Yes?”

He thrust a paper into her hands. “Here’s your next assignment.”

Jin read the paper. “Interview Ko Ji Yong on his upcoming movie and different works. Mr. Cho, I’m not trying to get out of doing work or anything, but I’ve heard Sunghoon is childhood friends with him. Why don’t you ask him to do the story?”

Mr. Cho grunted. “Miss Lee, the newspaper business is a serious business. When you are given an assignment, you are expected to do it.”

“But–”

“And furthermore,” interrupted Mr. Cho. “If you ever want to an editor, you must be able to handle your responsibilities. Understood?”

Jin bit her lip. Her dream was to become editor of the paper and he knew it. “Yes sir,” she replied.

He patted her back. “Good. I set up your interview for this evening. All the details are on the paper.”

“Why tonight?” asked Jin. “Mr. Cho, I haven’t been having the best day,” she protested.

Mr. Cho made a zipping motion with his finger. “Responsibility, Miss Lee.”

Jin let out a sigh.

Chapter 2

Jin rubbed the temples on the sides of her head. She was experiencing the worst migraine. She let out a breath of relief as she clocked out. She waved goodbye to Yuri and turned to walk out the door. She jumped as someone grabbed her arm.

“Stop scaring me Sunghoon or I’m going to kick your @$$!” hissed Jin.

Sunghoon held up his arms in self defense. “Hey, don’t get all uptight.” He hissed like a cat and bared his claw.

Jin had to smile at that. “Okay, what?”

“Just reminding you about tomorrow night!” He made the cutest smile possible.

Jin rolled her eyes. “Of course, wouldn’t miss it for the world. See you later.” She gave him a quick hug and as she stepped outside the door, CRACK. Jin fell to the ground like a ton of bricks. As she picked herself up, she felt like crying. “My $100 shoes!” she wailed. Her heel had snapped right off. “Stupid piece of junk.”

Sunghoon, on the other hand, was cracking up like there was no tomorrow. Jin decided to pound him later and caught a taxi. By the time she had gotten home, she had broken a nail, scratched the buckle on her new purse, and stepped in somebody’s chewing gum. She bit her tongue from cursing out loud as she hobbled into her apartment. She angrily kicked her battered shoes off and changed her mud spotted clothes. It was two hours until her meeting with Mr.Ko.

RING RING

“Hello?”

“Miss Lee?”

“Hello, Mr. Cho,” sighed Jin in exasperation.

“Now remember Jin, you need to make him feel comfortable and you must be polite. I’ve heard he likes fine alcohol, so why don’t you buy him a bottle of wine on your way there? Also…”

“All right!” interrupted Jin. “FYI, I was on my way to the toilet so if there’s nothing else for you to say, I’m kind of in a hurry!” She clicked the phone off and threw it on the floor. This was not the best day…

Jin cradled the bottle of fine wine in her left arm and entered the elevator of the large apartment building. After she reached the floor, she pressed the doorbell to his apartment.

“Hi, you must be the reporter from the Korean Globe. Come on in,” said Jiyong cordially.

Jin did a double take. He was even more handsome in person. “Oh, thank you,” responded Jin. She gave him the wine. “I thought you might enjoy that.”

“Why, thanks.” He led her to the kitchen. “Sit down.” He patted the seat next to him. As she conducted the interview, he popped open the bottle and poured it into two glasses.

“Oh, I don’t drink,” said Jin.

“Oh sorry,” apologized Jiyong. He looked embarassed.

‘Be polite..’ Jin could hear Mr. Cho saying. “Actually, why don’t you pour me some?” She didn’t want to be rude, but more than anything, she wanted a stress reliever. Maybe some alcohol would take away some of the crapiness to her day. After she finished the interview, the bottle was empty. Jin felt so much more relaxed. “Hey Mr. Ko.. Do you have any scotch?” she called out.

Jiyong laughed loosely. “Yup!” He took out a bottle and poured some of the strong liquor into Jin’s glass and his. He swallowed the drink with satisfaction.

After Jin drank some, she made a terrible expression but straightened it out. “You know, I thought you liked fine alcohol!” accused Jin. She giggled, and then hiccupped.

Jiyong laughed at Jin’s hiccup, but hiccupped himself. “Oh, I just like alcohol in general!” He poured himself some more scotch. Jin finished her glass and held it out.

“Fill er’ up!”

Jin rolled over on her side and tried opening her eyes, but she couldn’t. She felt like there were a hundred hammers beating her head. As her eyes struggled to open, she caught a glimpse of the clock which read 10 AM. She breathed a sigh of relief, thankful it was Saturday, her vacation day for that week. She shivered and pulled more of the covers over her. She tossed the covers off her, but immediately pulled them back on again.

‘Why am I naked?’ she thought. She never slept naked. She thought it was disgusting habit and never indulged in it. ‘Wait a minute. This doesn’t even look like my room.’ Jin turned to her other side and gasped. As Jiyong’s eyes opened, she belted out the loudest scream imagineable.

Chapter 3

Jin shrieked uncontrollably and jumped out of the bed like a rabbit, holding the covers around her.

Jiyong grabbed a pillow and covered himself with it. “Oh shit,” he muttered. Jin just kept screaming like a lunatic. “Would you shut up?!” yelled Jiyong after a few minutes. Jin stopped. “And give me a blanket! If you didn’t notice, I’m kinda buck naked!” Jin tossed him a sheet and he wrapped it around his body.

“Oh my lawd, what happened?” cried Jin hysterically. Her eyes grew round. “Did you put something in my drink?”

Jiyong rolled his eyes. “Look, I may sometimes play a jerk in the movies, but I’m not that bad.” Jin continued to look at him suspiciously. “Go take a blood test if you’re so worried.”

“Oh lawd,” repeated Jin. “I think I’m gonna..” She bolted to the toilet. She felt someone patting her back soon and she stopped after a minute. She flushed the toilet and quickly rinsed out her mouth.

“Are you okay?” asked Jiyong, standing behind her. He had put on a pair of pants.

Jin shook her head. “Do you think I would be all right?!” She pushed him out of the bathroom. “Would you please give me my clothes? I’ll change and get out of here.” He handed Jin her clothes and she shut the door on him. She sank to the floor and buried her face in her hands. What was she going to do?

Jin opened the door to her apartment and collapsed to the floor. As the minutes passed by, she felt tears rolling down her cheeks. She hadn’t wanted her first time to be like this. Something produced from a drunken stupor. She had wanted it to be special and intimate. She wrapped her arms around herself and trembled, allowing the tears to fall. She crawled to her room and sobbed. She picked up a picture and held it in her hand. “I’m sorry Mom,” she said to it. Tears dropped from her eyes to the picture and she wiped them off. She climbed up into her bed and closed her eyes, hoping when she woke up, this nightmare would be over.

THE NEXT DAY…

Jin solemnly walked into the news room and sat at her desk. She turned on her computer to write her story. She sat at her desk, staring at her computer. She couldn’t concentrate on what to write, especially about Ko Jiyong.

“So Miss Lee, we’re on time, I see!”

Jin turned around in her chair and acknowledged Mr. Cho. She really wasn’t in the mood for his wise cracks. “Yes, Mr. Cho.” Surprisingly, he nodded and walked away without saying anything else. A few minutes later, she saw Sunghoon in the distance. As he walked by, she expected him to stop and talk to her but he just passed her by. Jin frowned. She was hurt that he would ignore her. She got up out of her seat and stopped him. “Sunghoon, what’s up?” asked Jin.

Sunghoon’s face was set seriously. “I’m busy Jin, I’ll talk to you later.” He tried brushing past her, but she grabbed his elbow.

“What’s wrong, Sunghoon?” She looked at him with a concerned expression.

His eyes dropped to the floor. “You could have at least called,” he said. Jin was still confused. “I thought we had a dinner date. I understand if you were busy but…”

Jin touched his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Sunghoon. I totally forgot. It was just a really crazy day. You understand, right?”

Sunghoon nodded. “I’ll see you later.” He walked away. Jin sighed. She knew he was still mad at her but she would talk to him later. She had other things to worry about.

TIME PASSES…

It had been a few weeks since the incident and Jin was doing much better. Her little fight with Sunghoon was resolved and her job was going better than ever. She had finally forgiven herself on the whole thing with Jiyong. Right now, she was meeting Sunghoon and Yuri for dinner. Of course, Sunghoon had made her pay since she had stood him up before.

“Hey Jin, aren’t you going to eat your dduk bboki?” asked Sunghoon.

Jin stuck her tongue out at him. “I will, so don’t try and steal mine or I’ll pound you,” she threatened. She brought the dduk bboki up to her mouth, but set it back down again.

“What’s wrong, Jin? Does it not taste good?” asked Yuri. She stole a piece of Jin’s dduk bboki and stuck it in her own mouth. “It tastes all right.”

Jin tried eating it again but she was forced to set it down. She felt really queasy. “Um, actually you guys, I’m not really that hungry. Actually, I’ve got a bad stomach ache. You guys finish it up.” She paid the lady and got up.

“Where are you going?” asked Sunghoon.

Jin smiled. “I think I’d better get home and take some medicine before I get more sick. I’ll see you later.” She waved goodbye to her friends and hurried home.

“Please stay white, please stay white,” begged Jin desperately. She waited for the moment. She gasped in horror as the applicator turned blue. The applicator dropped from her hand to the floor. After she got over her initial shock, she patted her stomach and said, “So, how are you doing in there?”

Chapter 4

Jin twiddled her fingers on the table impatiently, waiting for Jiyong to come. She had called him and asked to meet him at her apartment. DING DONG

Jin ran to the door and opened it. “Hi Jiyong.”

He walked inside and sat down at the couch. “Could you make this quick? I’ve got to leave for a shooting of my movie soon.”

Jin frowned. ‘Well hello to you too,’ she thought sarcastically. “Jiyong, um, I have to tell you something. Um.” Jiyong glanced at his watch. “You remember that one night?” she asked subtly.

Jiyong turned his eyes to her. “What about it?” he asked tentatively.

Jin dropped her eyes to the floor. “Well um.. I’m.. Well, we’re… Uh…” She whipped out the applicator and threw it to him.

“What’s this?” he inquired. He paused. “Isn’t this a pregnancy test?”

Jin nodded.

“It’s blue.”

Jin nodded again.

“If it’s blue, that means…” His eyes went wide. “Oh shit.”

Jin took a deep breath. “Well, I suppose you can pay child support every month and…”

“Wait a second,” Jiyong cut her off. “You mean you’re actually thinking of HAVING this baby?”

“Well, what do you mean by that? It is mine, you know,” pointed out Jin.

“Do your parents know?”

Jin’s eyes grew sad. “Um, my dad abandoned me when I was two and my mom died a year ago.”

Jiyong set his face seriously. “Abort it,” he ordered shortly.

Jin’s eyes narrowed at him. “Never. I can’t kill my child!” she objected.

Jiyong put his hand through his hair. “Listen, there isn’t any other way. If the public ever finds out about this, my reputation will be over! They’ll just think I’m some irresponsible idiot!” He stood to leave. “Look, I’ll check up on you later.” He went out the door and slammed it shut.

Jin fell to the ground in despair. She knew he wouldn’t be happy with the news, but she didn’t expect him to order an abortion. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t… DING DONG.

“The door’s open,” called out Jin weakly.

“Jin!” squealed Yuri. She gave Jin a bag. “I got you some medicine.” She frowned. “What are you doing on the floor?” she asked. Yuri knelt down beside Jin. “What’s wrong?”

Jin burst into tears and wrapped her arms around Yuri. “Yuri, what am I going to do?” she bawled.

Yuri patted Jin’s back. “What’s wrong, Jin? Does your stomach hurt a lot?” Jin shook her head and told Yuri the whole story. Yuri gasped. “Are you kidding? Jin!” She hugged her friend tightly and cried with her.

“Yuri…what am I going to do?” cried Jin. “I feel so alone..”

Jin was now all alone in her apartment. “Mom, what am I supposed to do?” she asked the picture in her hands. RING RING. Jin grabbed the phone. “Hello?”

“Jin?”

“Jiyong?”

“Jin… Do you want to come over to my apartment?” asked Jiyong in a tired voice. “I..I have something to tell you.”

“Okay, I’m on my way.”

As Jin walked through the door, she noticed a middle aged woman sitting at the kitchen table. She bowed respectfully to the woman and sat down across from her and Jiyong.

“Just in case you were wondering, I’m Jiyong’s mother,” informed the woman.

Jin nodded. “Nice to meet you, m’aam.” She darted a glance at Jiyong, wondering what was going on.

“I just wanted you to be here because I wanted to discuss wedding preparations.”

Jin’s eyes grew round. “Wedding preparations?”

Chapter 5

“Yes, wedding preparations,” said Mrs. Ko. “Is something wrong?”

Jin tried keeping her patience. “Well, try switching places, Mrs. Ko. Would you like to marry your son if you were in my shoes?” she asked. “Considering you know everything.”

“Listen Miss Lee, I know what happened. I know that nothing you did was anyone’s fault. It was just a fluke, an accident.” Jin looked at Mrs. Ko expectantly. “Well, you are going to have the baby, am I correct?”

Jin nodded. “I don’t believe in abortions,” she stated firmly.

“Well like you don’t believe in abortions, I believe that a man must be responsible for his child.” Mrs. Ko hesitated for a moment. “Think about the child, at least. You’ve read those stories, haven’t you? About those juvenile delinquents with no father figure? It’s terrible, it really is. You may not want to think about this, but this child could turn out like one of those.”

Jin bit her lip and thought of a response. “Well, I’ll do my best as a mother and hopefully, nothing like that will happen.”

Mrs. Ko sighed. :”I really didn’t want to bring this up but..” Jin waited. “I hear you are quite a reporter and writer for the Korean Globe.”

Jin nodded slowly. “What about it?”

“You love your job, do you not?” asked Mrs. Ko. Jin nodded. “Well, suppose the truth were to get out about this baby and how it came to be. Even though Jiyong would not have a good name, time would heal everything. As for you..”

Jin arched an eyebrow. “What?”

“Irresponsible. They would see you as an incompetent, irresponsible woman. Your career would be trashed, as well as your reputation. Do you get me?”

Jin swallowed and rose from her chair. “Are you threatening me?” she snapped.

Mrs. Ko smiled smugly. “Why don’t you decide that for yourself?” she asked. Jin was so angry she couldn’t speak. She looked to Jiyong for help but he just sat there, looking at the floor. “Also, think of the child.. If not for you, for the child.”

Jin kept her tears of frustration in. “I’m going to leave and pretend I didn’t hear a word.” She turned to leave.

“You’d better decide before your stomach shows,” called out Mrs. Ko. Jin just kept walking straight out the door.

Jin sat on her bed and rubbed her stomach. “Hey you… Would you rather live with me alone or with me and your dad?” she asked. She sighed. She had to make a decision. She grabbed her phone and dialed. “Hello? Jiyong? Tell your mom to put up a wedding date.”

“How’s this? How’s that look?” asked Mrs. Ko.

Jin smoothed the light pink dress. “It’s fine, I suppose,” said Jin.

Mrs. Ko gasped. “Fine? It’s perfect! You look beautiful in it!”

Jin smiled faintly. “Thank you.”

“This will be perfect for the engagement ceremony.”

Jin stared at her reflection in the powder room. Her hair was freshly curled with white flowers woven through it and her makeup was perfectly applied. She put her white gloves on and practiced smiling at the mirror.

Mrs. Ko opened the door to the powder room and put her hands on Jin’s shoulder. “Now remember, don’t be nervous!” She smoothed some wrinkles out of Jin’s dress. “The ceremony’s starting. Go on out!” Jin obeyed and found Jiyong standing outside the powder room. He held out his arm. Jin took it and followed him out to the room. After the ceremony was over, a bunch of reporters gathered in front of the couple.

“Mr. Ko, how did you and Miss Lee meet?” asked a reporter. Camera flashes blinked everywhere and Jin couldn’t help shielding her eyes.

“Jin came to a party I was having and we met there,” answered Jiyong smoothly. Jin laughed to herself. ‘He’s such a good liar. No wonder he’s an actor,’ she thought.

“Miss Lee, what was your first impression of Mr. Ko?” called out another reporter.

Jin smiled brightly. “It was love at first sight,” she replied happily. Jiyong smiled at her and she smiled back.

“How about a kiss for the cameras?” yelled someone. Jin and Jiyong froze. Neither of them expected this.

Jiyong regained his composure. “Oh come on, don’t embarass us,” he said. Still, the reporters wheedled for a kiss. Jin smiled at the cameras, hoping they would just forget about everything. Finally, Jiyong leaned over and touched his lips to her forehead.

The reporters groaned. “You call that a kiss?”

Jiyong laughed good naturedly. “Well, that’s all you get for today. Now, if you’ll excuse us.” He took Jin’s arm and led her outside the building.

As Jin opened the door to her house, she dropped her purse and prepared to lie on the couch. She had spent half the day trying to get rid of reporters. She had no idea how annoying they could be, even though she was one. As she walked in front of her couch, she yelped.

“Damn Sunghoon, how’d you get in here?” screamed Jin.

Sunghoon’s expression was grim. He shoved a newspaper in her face. “What is the meaning of this?” he demanded. The headline read ‘Ko Jiyong sets wedding plans.’ There was a picture of Jiyong kissing Jin’s forehead.

“It’s pretty self explanatory,” said Jin. She turned to go to her room. “I’m going to go to sleep now. I’m really tired.” Sunghoon grabbed her arm.

“Since when did you date Jiyong, huh? From what I know, you didn’t even know him until Mr. Cho gave you that one story.”

Jin kept her eyes on the floor. “Well, you were wrong.”

“How could you do this to me?” he whispered. Jin froze. “How could you? I mean.. I thought you knew.”

“Knew what?”

“That I.. love you.” Jin tried to go but he held on tight. “I’ve loved you ever since.. I don’t remember.. But I know I love you now and I can’t let you go to Jiyong. Not until you give me a chance.”

Jin held in her tears. “Sunghoon, I’m really not in the mood for this.”

Sunghoon paused. “Why Jiyong? My friend.. I..” He pulled Jin close to him and held her.

Jin pushed away. “Don’t do this to me, Sunghoon!” she shouted. “Don’t! I can’t handle any more of this!”

Sunghoon’s eyes filled with tears. “Jin, please!” he begged.

Jin wiped away a falling tear. “Please just go right now,” she pled. “I just want to be alone.” She left Sunghoon and locked the door to her room.

Chapter 6

Jin stared at the showcase of glittering diamonds. The glare almost blinded her. “Now pick one, Jin. Money is no object,” said Mrs. Ko.

Jin browsed some more before saying, “Where’s Jiyong? Is he coming?”

Mrs. Ko shook her head. “He’s still shooting his movie. But he would say the same thing. Now go on, choose,” she urged.

Jin pointed at one. “That one,” she said in a dull voice.

Mrs. Ko glanced at it and shook her head vigorously. “That tiny thing?” she asked incredulously.

Jin shrugged her shoulders. “I guess I really don’t know about this sort of thing.” But then, something caught her eye. “How about that one?” It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. It was a huge 2.5 carat diamond with little diamonds surrounding it on a platinum ring.

Mrs. Ko nodded. “Now you’re talking.” She handed her credit card to the lady.

Jin emerged from her dressing room, wearing her wedding dress. All the guests oohed and ahed. Jin sat down in a chair as she waited for the ceremony to begin. She had spent the whole morning smiling at cameras and answering questions. As she was getting her hair done, a video camera from SBS had followed her and interviewed her there! She was about to go insane. Now as she was sitting in her powder room, she was thanking about 400 people for their congratulations. Some of them were people she knew, but most were just random strangers or celebrities she had never even met. When Ko So Young had congratulated her, Jin normally would have gone crazy. But she didn’t for two reasons: one, she wasn’t exactly happy enough to do so and two: she wasn’t Lee Jin anymore. She was going to be the wife of a famous superstar and needed to keep her cool.

Later, Jin started to feel claustorphobic so she had everyone leave her room, leaving her by herself. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

Jin scowled. “I’m sorry, I’d like to be alone right now!” she called out.

Yuri poked her head in. “Are you sure?”

Jin’s face brightened slightly, but not much. “Come in.”

Yuri entered the room and sat in a chair in front of Jin, facing her. “Jin, are you sure you want to do this?” she asked.

Jin forced a smile. “I’m fine with it Yuri, really I am. Anyway, I feel like I kind of have to… because you know..”

Yuri nodded solemnly. “All right, it’s your life. But remember I’m always here for you.” She flipped Jin’s veil over her face and straightened out her dress. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, you make a beautiful bride.” Jin looked down at her long sleeveless satin dress. Yuri hugged Jin tightly. “Be happy.. And remember I’m only a phone call away if anything happens.” She pulled away from Jin; they both had tears in their eyes. Yuri pulled away and wiped away her tears. “Now come on, they’re all waiting for you.” She helped Jin out of her chair and carried her long train and veil for her.

“The bride!” announced the MC.

Jin took a deep breath and walked out on to the long carpet. She heard cameras flashing and people whispering, but she kept her eyes straight ahead. “Almost there, don’t trip,” she told herself. Her eyes darted to her left and met with Sunghoon’s eyes. He was wearing a tight, yet sad smile. She moved her eyes to the front and stepped up beside Jiyong. Vows were exchanged and the couple bowed to each other, then to the guests. Then Jiyong took Jin’s hand and walked to the reception room.

“Now, time for the toast!” announced the MC. He held up his glass of champagne. “Now, this couple..”

Jin panicked as the MC went off into a long spiel. Toast? Champagne? She couldn’t have alcohol! “Pssst!” hissed someone.

Jin turned around to see Yuri. “What?”

“Give me your glass!” Jin handed Yuri her glass of champagne and Yuri gave Jin a different glass with the same color liquid. “It’s apple cider,” Yuri whispered.

“Thanks.”

“Now, everyone please bring up their glass to celebrate this wonderful couple’s marriage!” The MC raised his glass.

Jin and Jiyong linked their arms for a love shot while everyone else clinked their glasses. After the toast, everyone visited with each other, talking and gabbing.

Sunghoon walked up to the couple’s table. “Congratulations you guys.” He shook Jiyong’s hand.

Jiyong smiled. “Thanks Sunghoon.” Jin remained silent. She couldn’t bear to look at his face. She heard his footsteps as he walked away. Jin finally looked up to see his back. Suddenly, he glanced back at her table and gave Jin a smile.. A smile that said ‘I’m okay now.. I’ll accept it.’ Jin was going to get up and talk to him but the MC stopped her.

“Now everyone, it’s that special time where we see the couple share a kiss!” Everyone clapped and cheered.

“Kiss, kiss, kiss!” everyone chanted.

Jin closed her eyes while Jiyong leaned over and kissed her cheek. Everyone booed. “Oh come on now, you can do better than that!” said the MC. Jiyong hesitated. “We’re waiting!” sang the MC. Finally, Jiyong put his hand on the side of Jin’s neck and craned his neck to meet her lips. Their lips touched for about three seconds until Jiyong pulled away. The crowd seemed to be satisfied and cheered. Jin, on the other hand, turned around and let out a sigh. ‘It’s over.. I’m actually married,’ she thought.

Chapter 7

“Flight 348 to Cheju will be landing shortly. Please keep your seat belts on until the sign goes off.”

Jin stretched out her arms in her plush and comfortable first class seat. She had taken a short nap and felt more refreshed. “Jiyong?” Jin looked beside her and saw Jiyong sleeping. She nudged him slightly. “We’re here.” He remained sleeping. She nudged him harder. “We’re here,” she said loudly.

He groaned and opened his eyes. “Mmm.. I’m so tired.”

Jin looked over at him and smoothed down the top of his head. He looked at her strangely. “Sorry, but you had a total cowlick,” she explained.

He rubbed his eyes. “Thank you passengers for choosing Korean Airlines. You may now leave the plane and we wish you a pleasant stay.” Jiyong got up and took the bags out of the compartment. Jin followed him out to the airport. The second they were out of the terminal, it was photographers and fans galore.

“JIYONG JJANG!!” screamed the fans. Jin was terrified.

“Mr. Ko, Mrs. Ko, look this way!” Jin turned to the voice and blinked. *FLASH*

She felt Jiyong pinching her arm lightly. “Smile,” he mumbled while looking at the cameras. Jin flashed a small smile. “Bigger,” commanded Jiyong. Jin smiled so big she thought her lips would rip. “Good,” commended Jiyong. He waved to the fans and they shrieked with delight.

“Jin unnie! Unnie! Over here!” Jin heard someone scream over everyone. She smiled to the voice and *FLASH* They managed to collect their luggage while security guards held the fans back. Jiyong waved suavely to his fans before leaving the airport. He pinched her arm again.

“Ouch,” cried Jin.

“Smile and wave,” he muttered through his smile. Jin obeyed.

‘What have I gotten myself into?’ she thought.

‘Don’t open this until you’re alone, okay?’ ordered Yuri.

Jin looked at Yuri suspiciously. ‘Why not?’

Yuri rolled her eyes. ‘Just trust me, okay?’

Jin stared at the gift box Yuri had given her. She flipped open the lid and blushed a bit. It was a long, satin slip. She opened the card that had come with it. ‘Jin, this is for your honeymoon. You always told me you wanted to wear something special for it. I don’t know if you’ll like it, but here it is.’ She threw it back into the box and sighed. She wanted to wear something special when she married the person she LOVED. She threw on a pair of pajamas and stepped out of the bathroom.

“Jiyong, I’m going to bed!” said Jin. She looked around. The room was empty. She glanced at the clock. 12 AM. Where was he?

THUD. Jin shot up in her bed. “Who’s there?” she called out in the darkness. She looked at the clock. 3:30 AM. “Who is it?” she repeated. Trembling, she flipped on the light. There, she saw Jiyong sprawled out on the floor. She ran over to him and knelt down beside him. “Jiyong, are you okay?” she asked frantically. “Oh no, do I need to call an ambulance?” She heard him mumbling something. “What was that?” She turned him over so he was lying on his back. She almost fell backwards from the alcohol in his breath.

“I’m sorry…”

Jin leaned in closer so she could hear better.

“But Mom…I don’t want to marry her…” Jin sighed.

“This marriage is going to take a lot of work,” she whispered to herself.

Jin gathered her things and took one last look at her apartment. She couldn’t believe this whole story. It was like a bad dream she couldn’t wake up out of. At the honeymoon, Jin and Jiyong had put up a pretty good front publicly, going to places together, holding hands and all that. Of course, Jin had gone almost insane in the process, having to deal with the annoying reporters and photographers. But now she had to prepare herself for a whole new life.. A whole new life as Mrs.Jin Ko.

Jin smiled happily as she entered the Korean Globe building. It was good to know that one thing hadn’t changed. She was glad to get back to her work. When she came walking through the main room, she prepared herself for another one of Mr. Cho’s lectures concerning the importance of punctuality. “Hello Mrs.Ko,” was all he said.

Jin frowned. “Are you in a good mood today, Mr. Cho?” asked Jin. “I’m twenty minutes late and you haven’t said anything.”

He glanced at his watch. “Really? I didn’t even notice. Well, just don’t do it next time,” he scolded.

Jin grew suspicious but walked to her desk. “Hey Mr. Cho, do you have an assignment for me?” called out Jin.

“Oh, why don’t you take a break on this issue. You must be tired,” said Mr. Cho. He smiled at her.

Jin stomped her foot. “Okay, what is going on here?”

Mr. Cho looked at her. “Why, what do you mean, Mrs. Ko?”

Jin scowled at him. “You know exactly what I mean. Why are you acting so differently towards me now?” she inquired.

He laughed. “Why, I know nothing of the sort. Why don’t you just sit and relax.”

Jin narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Does this have anything to do with the fact that I’m Mrs. Ko now, instead of plain old Miss Lee?”

Mr. Cho’s eyes darted left and right. “Why of course not. Now, Mrs. Ko..”

Jin cut him off. “Tell me the truth,” she demanded.

Mr. Cho hesitated. “Well, Mr. Ko and his mother do happen to be large sponsors of the paper and..”

Jin let out a scream of frustration. She knew Mr. Cho, along with the rest of the staff would never treat her the same. She didn’t want to use Jiyong’s influence this way. There was only one thing left to do. “Well in that case,” said Jin. “I quit.” She wrote up a resignation form and set it on Mr. Cho’s desk.

Chapter 8

Jin grabbed a little gadget she had bought for the baby. It was a small microphone attached to a speaker. She set the speaker on her stomach and spoke into the microphone. “Hello? Hey there.. This is your mommy speaking. How are you doing in there? I want to see you, baby. I’ll see you in about six months, okay? I love you, baby.” She set the microphone and speaker beside her on the couch. RING RING

“Hello, Ko residence,” answered Jin.

“Jin, where’d you go today?”

“Jiyong? Well, I went out to the baekhwajum to get some groceries. Why?” asked Jin.

“Is that ALL you got?” asked Jiyong in an irritated voice.

Jin thought for a moment. “Well, I got something for the baby..” Jiyong let out a deep breath of frustration. “What?” asked Jin. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Well nothing, except now all of Korea knows you’re pregnant!” exclaimed Jiyong.

“So what?” snapped Jin. “And don’t yell, the baby might hear.”

“Well, they know that you’re three months pregnant, and you know what? We only got married a couple weeks ago.” Jin gasped. “That’s right. Now everyone thinks we got married just because of the baby.”

“But we did, didn’t we?”

“Yes, but we don’t want all the people to think that,” pointed out Jiyong sarcastically. “How could you do something so stupid?”

“I didn’t even think about it.. I just..”

“Listen, I’m going into a press conference this afternoon about that at the Royal Hotel at 3. Be there.” He hung up.

“We’re very ashamed of what we did and we hope everyone will forgive us. But we did get married because we love each other. The baby just sped up the process.”

“Mrs. Ko, do you have anything else to say to the public?” asked a reporter.

Jin stepped up to the microphone. “I’m sorry. Hopefully, this won’t affect the love that they had for Jiyong and we hope the public will be able to understand.” She left the conference room.

Jin sat on the couch and put the speaker to her stomach. “Hey baby. How about I play some music for you?” She walked to the piano and took a seat on the bench. Now, she was five months pregnant. Her stomach had started to bulge a little, but it wasn’t that noticeable. She placed her fingers on the ivory keys and played some soothing melodies. She closed her eyes and grew lost in the music. The piano had always been her best friend who she could go to at all times. DING DONG

Jin answered the door. “Hi Jiyong.”

He brushed past her. “Hi,” he muttered.

“How are you?” she asked. “Did you eat the lunch I packed for you?”

He took the plastic box out of his bag and tossed it on the kitchen table. “Sorry, I didn’t have time to eat.”

Jin forced a smile. “Well, you must be hungry. I’ll make something for you.” She walked to the stove.

“Would you stop it?” snapped Jiyong.

Jin was startled. “Stop what?” she asked.

“Stop acting so.. concerned about me!” he shouted. “The only reason we married each other is because of the baby! Nothing else!”

“Stop shouting. The baby will hear. It’s not good for the baby to hear bad things,” said Jin.

He rolled his eyes and lowered his voice. “Listen, I may be forced to live with you and act civil to you, but that’s it. After that, I live my life, and you live your life. Okay?” He stalked to his bedroom. “I just came to change clothes. I’ve got a CF commercial to shoot.”

Jin sighed. She was trying so hard to make this work. As she heard Jiyong leave the apartment, she stared at the untouched plastic box. Why did she even try?

So that was how it was. For the next month, neither of the two said a word to each other unless absolutely necessary. They slept in different rooms, Jiyong was always out, and they would never concern each other with their business. Until one day..

Jiyong stretched his legs out on the coffee table and yawned. Jin bit her tongue. She hated it when people put their feet on tables. Then he proceeded to take a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it with his lighter. Jin clenched her fists as he breathed out rings of smoke. Finally, she couldn’t stand it. She stomped over to where he was sitting, snatched the cigarette out of his mouth, and threw it in the trash can. Then she opened the windows to air out the smoke.

“What’s your problem?” inquired Jiyong.

“My problem is, that you’re smoking. And I’m pregnant. I don’t want the baby to..”

Jiyong cut her off. “Oh please, a little smoke never hurt anyone.” He reached for another cigarette but Jin was too quick for him. It went straight to the trash can. “Would you stop that? That’s really annoying me,” snapped Jiyong in an irritated voice.

“Well, your smoking is annoying me, too!” snapped back Jin. “Don’t you even care about the baby’s health?” She could feel a mood swing coming on.

He stood up off the couch and stared straight into her eyes. “Listen,” he said in a menacing tone. “This is my apartment. If you don’t like what I do, then leave. I don’t need you here!” he yelled.

Jin slapped him across the face. Jiyong stood there for a few seconds in numb shock then he swung his arm at her and sent a stinging slap across her face. Jin managed to hold in her tears. Then she looked at Jiyong’s face. “If you want me out, it’s as good as done.” She walked out the door.

DING DONG

Sunghoon scurried to the door and opened it. He gasped. “Jin?”

Chapter 9

“Can I come in?” asked Jin. She shivered from the cold.

He motioned for her to enter and closed the door behind her. Sunghoon watched as Jin walked to his couch and sat down on it with tears spilling down her cheeks. He sighed. “Jin, what’s wrong?” He sat down beside her.

Jin sniffed and wiped a tear away. “C-c-can I have a tissue?” she blubbered.

Sunghoon handed her the kleenex box and she blew her nose. “Jin, talk to me,” he said.

Jin leaned her head on Sunghoon’s shoulder. Sunghoon remained silent as he listened to her cry. He felt so helpless. He had never seen Jin cry and he didn’t know how to handle it. After a few minutes, Jin spoke. “Sunghoon,” she whispered. “Am I a bad person?” she choked out through tears.

Sunghoon took a hold of her shoulders and faced her. “Jin, you are one of the most sweetest and funniest people I know. What makes you say that?”

Another tear trickled down Jin’s cheek and Sunghoon wiped it away with his thumb. “I guess in a different life, I must have been a terrible person because I’m going through so much shit right now. Sunghoon, I’m trying so hard. Why doesn’t he try to understand?” she sobbed.

Sunghoon sighed. “I don’t know, Jin. Jiyong can sometimes be a cold person. He’s not a bad person… He’s just a little rough around the edges,” answered Sunghoon. “Just give it some time, Jin. It’ll be okay.”

Jin shook her head. “He slapped me!” she shouted. She faced Sunghoon and gave him a hopeful smile. “I know, Sunghoon. I know how you feel about me. I want a divorce, Sunghoon. Maybe we can..”

Sunghoon interrupted her. “Jin, you can’t. You’ve been married three months. Every couple goes through their hard times at first, but it’ll get better. Don’t give up. I know you, you’re not a quitter. And the slap.. Jiyong just does some things without thinking.. Just like we all do.”

Jin looked away. “Is it because of the baby? Is that it?”

Sunghoon shook his head. “No, Jin. More than anything, I would love to just steal you away and raise the baby, but I can’t. You’re Jiyong’s wife now.”

Jin got a crazy look in her eyes. “Sunghoon, let’s run away! If we go to some far away country, no one could find us and..”

Sunghoon grabbed Jin’s shoulders and shook her. “Snap out of it, Jin!” he yelled. “You’re six months pregnant with Jiyong’s baby! You’re married to one of the most famous movie stars in Korea! Stop trying to sway me!”

Jin settled down and started crying again. “Oh lawd, I think I’m having one of my moodswings,” she cried.

Sunghoon wore a tiny smile. “Stay out here. I’ll get you something to drink.”

Jin held his arm. “Sunghoon, at least let me stay here until tomorrow. You know, tomorrow’s the 21st.. I don’t want to spend my birthday with him,” she begged.

Sunghoon just smiled and walked into the kitchen.

“Here.” Sunghoon set a glass of orange juice in front of Jin.

Jin took the glass in her hand and sipped. “What took you so long?”

“Oh.. I couldn’t find any clean glasses,” spat out Sunghoon.

“Oh,” said Jin. Sunghoon kept looking at his watch. “Are you expecting someone?” asked Jin.

Sunghoon shook his head vigorously. “No, of course not! I mean.. why would I?” DING DONG. “Huh, who could that be?” He jumped out of his seat and opened the door. “Oh hi! Come in!”

Jin’s mouth dropped. “Come on, Jin. Let’s go home.”

Jin crossed her arms. “No.”

Jiyong tapped his foot. “Listen, you can’t stay here forever. Let’s go. The car’s running.”

Jin glared at Sunghoon. “You called him, didn’t you?” she accused.

Sunghoon looked the other direction. “Why no.. Wherever did you get that idea?” He yawned widely. “Well, I’m going up to bed. See you guys later.”

Jiyong stayed silent for a few moments then mumbled, “I’m sorry.”

Jin’s ears perked up. “What was that you said?”

“I’m sorry,” repeated Jiyong louder. “Now can we go?”

Jin hid a little smile. “Well, I guess I’ll be big about this and forgive you.” She followed him outside. Suddenly, she felt something heavy on her shoulders. She stared at the coat. “What’s this for?” she asked.

“It’s cold outside. I wouldn’t want you to get sick.” Jin grinned. “I mean, because if you get sick, the baby would get sick,” added Jiyong quickly. Jin’s grin faded and she got into the car.

DING DONG

Jin walked quickly to the door. “Yes?”

The man handed her a package. “For Mrs. Ko. Sign here please.” She scribbled her name and took the long box. “What is it?”

The man shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I just deliver. Have a nice day!” He waved to her and descended down the stairs.

Jin stared at the box for a while and lifted the lid off the box. She gasped with excitement. Twenty five long stemmed roses filled the box. She picked up the card and read it.

“Happy 25th birthday. Jiyong.” She frowned. How did he know it was her birthday? Why did he even care? Well whatever. They smelled really good. RING RING “Hello?”

“Jin? This is Yuri. Happy birthday! I’ll buy you lunch, okay?”

Jin smiled. “Sure, I’ll be right there.”

Yuri’s mouth dropped. “Really? He sent you roses? How romantic!”

Jin frowned. “How did he know? Why would he care?”

Yuri nudged Jin’s forehead with her fist. “Babo, who cares how he found out? All that matters is that he cared enough to do something about it. You get it? I think he actually likes you now. Probably from living with you so long and from you being so nice to him.”

A spark of hope lit in Jin. “Really? Do you think so?”

Yuri nodded. “I’m sure of it.”

Jin jumped out of her bed as she heard the door creak open. “Hi Jiyong,” she greeted.

He nodded at her. “Hi. What are you doing still up?” It was 3 AM.

“I couldn’t sleep. Are you almost done with the movie?” she asked.

“Um yeah, last shooting’s tomorrow. Well, I’m going to bed.” He headed towards his room.

“Thanks for the roses!” Jin called out.

Jiyong turned around. “Um yeah.. It was nothing.”

Jin sighed. If what Yuri had said was true, why couldn’t she tell?

Chapter 10

Jin ignored the people’s expressions at her as she walked through the department store. She still had some odds and ends to buy for the baby. It was only 13 days until the due date which was July 14. Her stomach was full grown by now and was quite a sight. She checked the price tag on a stroller.

“Hello, Mrs. Ko, can I help you with anything?”

Jin was startled and she took a step back from the salesman. “Um, that’s all right. Just browsing,” said Jin. After browsing some more, she picked out a stroller along with a Winnie the Pooh mobile.

“Will that be all?” asked the salesman cheerfully.

Jin nodded.

“Oh, Mrs. Ko! Will you be getting your husband something in our department store too? It’s his birthday today,” informed the salesman.

Jin’s eyes grew wide. This was news to her. “Oh, well. Maybe I should.” She took the escalator down to the men’s department.

Jiyong trudged into the apartment with his usual ‘i’m mad at the world’ expression. Jin winced. She didn’t know whether approaching him would be the wisest decision, but she did anyway.

“Hey Jiyong,” she started. He stopped and looked at her. “Happy birthday.” She thrust a wrapped package into his hands.

When he saw it, his face lit up. “How’d you know..” He cleared his throat and put on a more serious expression. “I mean, how’d you know I liked chocolates?” He tore at the plastic covering and stuffed two in his mouth.

Jin restrained from chuckling at his excitement. “I remember reading it somewhere. I know you haven’t had time to buy any, so I got you some. Happy birthday.”

“You want one?” he asked with his mouth full. He waved a milk chocolate in her face.

Jin nodded and reached for it, but he held it back. “Hey!” protested Jin. “It’s not nice to tease me with chocolate.”

“Open,” he instructed. Jin blushed. “Open,” he repeated. She opened her mouth and he fed it to her. She closed her eyes in pure bliss as the sweet chocolate melted in her mouth.

“Thanks,” she said after swallowing.

Jiyong stuck another one in his mouth. “You’re welcome. Oops.” Spit trickled down his chin.

Jin burst out laughing. “OMG, you drooled!”

Jiyong wiped his mouth. “I did not,” he denied.

“You TOTALLY drooled!” accused Jin. Her giggles were unstoppable.

He rolled his eyes. “Fine, laugh.” He grinned as he walked to his room. Jin smiled. It was the first time she had seen him with a genuine smile.

Jin clapped with the rest of the audience as the movie ended. She was at the premiere of Jiyong’s new movie. As the credits rolled, Jiyong grabbed Jin’s hand. “Stay low,” he whispered. “Or they’ll mob us.” The two of them crouched until they reached the exit and quickly entered the car. Jiyong swore. “Hurry get in, they’ve spotted us!”

“I’m going as fast as I can!” hissed Jin. She slammed her car door shut and Jiyong zoomed away.

“That was close,” said Jiyong. “Are you okay?” he asked.

Jin turned quickly to Jiyong. “Jiyong, go straight to the hospital.”

He grew concerned. “What? Do you ache?”

Jin shook her head. “Jiyong, I think I’m going to have the baby so step on it.”

Jiyong’s eyes widened and he applied more pressure to the gas pedal.

“Mrs. Ko, we will go straight to the delivery room. Your contractions haven’t started yet, but they should soon. Just relax and do as I tell you, all right?”

Jin nodded as she was wheeled away. “Yes Dr. Ryu.”

“Mr. Ko, will you be coming?” asked Dr. Ryu.

Jiyong held up his gloved hands and mask, implicating he was going. “I’m ready when you are.”

The doctor nodded. “All right, we’re here. Mr. Ko, why don’t you just stay here until her contractions start? If anything happens, call me or one of the nurses. We’ll be right outside.”

“All right, thank you.” Jiyong sat by Jin’s bed while everyone left the room. “How are you doing?” asked Jiyong.

Jin didn’t answer.

“Is something wrong?”

Jin’s eyes were full of fear. “I’m scared, Jiyong. I really am. What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if something goes wrong?” she said frantically.

Jiyong placed his hand on her’s and squeezed it reassuringly. “Don’t think like that. Everything will turn out fine. Just focus on having the baby. We’ll worry about other things later.”

Jin put her other hand on top of Jiyong’s. “Thank you Jiyong.”

“Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Ko. It’s a girl.” The doctor carefully placed the bundled up baby in Jin’s arms.

Jiyong and Jin smiled at their bundle of joy. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” said Jin.

Jiyong nodded in agreement. “She is. What will we call her?”

“Yoon Mi. Ko Yoon Mi,” answered Jin. “Yoonmi yah.. Say hello to mommy and daddy.” The baby’s eyes fluttered open for a while then closed again.

“She’s perfect,” said Jiyong.

Chapter 11

“She’s gotten so big in the past few months,” commented Jin. “Look, she’s getting chubby cheeks!” Yoonmi, unaware of what Jin was talking about just yawned.

Yuri grinned. “She’s a cutie. Does that outfit I bought fit her?”

Jin nodded. “It’s perfect. I’ll put it on her and come out to visit you sometime.”

Yuri paused. “So, how are you and Jiyong getting along?” she asked.

Jin sighed. “I really don’t know. We haven’t fought, yet we’re not really communicating. It was better than before but.. I wish I could reach him somehow,” she replied.

“Just give it some time. I’m sure everything will turn out fine,” said Yuri.

Jin let out a deep breath. She had already waited so long…

“Hey Yoonmi! Say hello to Uncle Sunghoonie!” Sunghoon grinned at the baby and made funny faces.

Jin slapped Sunghoon on the arm. “Stop that! You might scare her.”

He gave Jin a look of death. “Meanie.”

Jin smiled. “Thanks for the teddy bear, Sunghoon. I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.” She walked to Yoonmi’s room and set her and the bear down in the crib.

“So, how have you been? You and Jiyong getting along?” asked Sunghoon once they reached the couch.

Jin shrugged her shoulders. “I guess you could say we’re getting along. We don’t fight. But then again, we’re not couple of the month either,” she answered.

Sunghoon’s face turned serious. “You know, Jin. Jiyong really loves you. He just doesn’t show it. That’s just the way he is. He doesn’t know how,” said Sunghoon.

“How do you know?”

“I just do. Whenever I talk to him, the way he says your name, the way he smiles when you get brought up. I can just tell.” Sunghoon took a sip of his juice. “Just wait, Jin. I know you’ve waited a long time, but he’ll come out. You’ll see.”

“Good night, Yoonmi,” cooed Jin. She pulled a blanket over the 4 month old baby. She walked out into the kitchen as she heard the door open. “Jiyong, is that you?” called out Jin.

Jiyong stumbled into the apartment. “Jin… It’s cold.. Can you turn up the heat?” His teeth chattered.

Jin walked to the thermostat. “I have it cranked up all the way to 72.”

His eyes started drooping. “Jin.. Can you help me to my room? I..” He fell forward and Jin caught him.

“Jiyong!” she cried. She touched his forehead. “You’re burning up! What have you been doing all day?”

“I..I had a scene in the snow for a commercial.. It took 26 takes..” he stuttered. Jin helped him down into his bed and gave him some dry clothes. “Change into those. I’ll go get some medicine.”

Jin touched his forehead and breathed a sigh of relief. After he had taken some medicine, his fever had lowered. Jin placed a damp wash cloth on his forehead and stood to leave. Jiyong gripped her wrist

“Oh! You’re awake,” said Jin in surprise.

He looked at Jin intently. “Please… don’t go,” he whispered.

“Jiyong, you’re going to be just fine,” reassured Jin. “Just go back to sleep.”

His eyes closed and Jin soon heard his soft snores. As she watched him sleep, she smiled. He was so handsome. She put her hand back on his forehead and moved it down, stroking his face. She leaned in closer and kissed his forehead. “Good night Jiyong.”

Jin opened the lid to the pot. She breathed in a deep breath of the tasty aroma coming from the soup. “Mmmm.”

“What are you cooking?”

Jin yelped with surprise and turned around to see Jiyong standing right behind her. “Oh, um. Just some miyuk gook,” she answered while turning around.

Jiyong leaned forward and sniffed. “Yum.”

Jin waited, expecting him to move but he didn’t. He just stayed right behind her. She felt his hot breath on her neck. “Um.. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll give you some..” She reached for a bowl and he moved. “So um.. are you going to shoot something today?” she asked, fumbling with the ladle.

Jiyong sat at the table. “Well, I have a photo shoot and an interview with a magazine but that’s it. I’ll be home early.”

Jin set the bowl of soup in front of him. “Oh.. Good.. Well um, I’m going to go check on Yoonmi.” She turned to leave.

“Um, Jin?”

Jin spun around. “Yes?”

“You didn’t give me a spoon.”

“Oh, sorry.” She pulled open a drawer and found a spoon for him. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” She heard him slurping it up. Jin walked into Yoonmi’s room and leaned against the wall, fanning herself. Why was she blushing? It was the same old Jiyong.. Same old jerky Jiyong.. Right?

Chapter 12

Jin walked, hearing the gravel crunch beneath her feet. She was at a bank, the bank her mother had worked at. There were many people there, crowding around a scene. Jin squinted to see better. She saw someone holding a gun.. to her mother’s head.

“Mom!” she screamed.

“Nobody move or I’ll shoot the brains out of her!” threatened the gunman. “Don’t come close!” Jin saw his bulging bag.. Probably bulging with money.

“Mom!” she screeched. Her mother just stood still, trembling with fear. Jin ran to the gunman and tried pushing him away but her hand just went right through him. It was like she was invisible. Suddenly, a policeman pulled the trigger on his gun, then the gunman pulled his trigger. Jin watched in horror as her mother fell to the ground.

Jin bolted upright and let out a scream. She gasped breaths of air and broke down emotionally. “Mom,” she sobbed. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there..” Tears streamed down her face.

The door opened. “What’s going on? I heard a scream,” mumbled Jiyong. He brandished a metal pan. When he saw Jin crying on her bed, he walked to her and sat down on the bed. “What’s wrong? Did you have a bad dream?” he asked. Jin didn’t answer. She just kept crying. Jiyong let out a sigh and held her in his arms. Jin buried her face in his chest. He rubbed her back. “It’s okay, Jin. You’re awake now,” he said, trying to soothe her.

Jin pulled away for a second. “C-c-could you just stay here with me.. Just for tonight? I-i’m just scared.. If I have another nightmare,” she blubbered.

Jiyong nodded, brought her towards him, and wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine..”

Jiyong stretched his arms and yawned. It was 8 o’clock and he needed to get up. He glanced at Jin who was lying next to him and smiled. He was just noticing now how beautiful she was. He put his hand on her cheek and brushed some hair out of her face. He leaned in closer and kissed her cheek. His eyes widened as he saw her flinch but he heard her even breathing again. He looked at the clock again and laid back down. Then he inched closer to Jin and held her in his arms. It was a great feeling.. Holding the person you loved..

Jin opened her eyes and almost jumped. Jiyong was holding her close to him. She stayed still for a while then shook Jiyong. “Jiyong, don’t you need to get up?” she whispered.

He stirred then stayed still. “Just another minute.” His hold around her grew tighter and he held her against him.

“Come on, stop playing around. I need to check on the baby.” She struggled to move but his hold didn’t break. “Stop that!” she giggled.

“Come on now.. Don’t spoil the moment,” he said huskily. She felt him kiss her softly on her ear. He moved down to her chin and neck.

Jin froze for a moment then slapped him on the arm. “Stop that! Now get up and go to work. You’ll be late.” She rolled out of the bed and walked to Yoonmi’s room. After she fed her and changed her, she walked to the bathroom and washed up. Then she went out to the kitchen. Jiyong was putting on his shoes. “Are you leaving now?” she asked.

He nodded. “You were right. I am late.” He came up to her and snaked an arm around her small waist. “Now how about a goodbye kiss for your sweetheart?”

Jin rolled her eyes and pecked him on the cheek. “You are such a goof.”

He released Jin reluctantly and grinned. “Next time, it’s here.” He pointed to his lips.

Jin pushed him outside the door. “Go!” She smiled and waved to him. “See you tonight.” When she saw him leave, she closed the door and leaned against it, sighing with happiness.

Jiyong burst through the door with his mother and ran to Jin. “Come on, let’s go.”

Jin jumped. “Go where?” she asked in a startled voice.

“You’ll see, follow me.” He grabbed her hand.

Jin bowed to Mrs. Ko. “What are you doing here, Mrs. Ko?” she asked politely.

“I’m here to watch Yoonmi.”

Jin looked at Jiyong with a confused expression. “What’s going on?” she asked.

Jiyong pulled her. “Come on now.” He grabbed Jin’s coat and helped her put it on. “Let’s go! Bye Mom, we’ll be back in a few hours!”

“Have fun!” She waved to Jiyong and Jin who were heading out the door.

Jin bowed to Mrs. Ko again as Jiyong pulled her out the door.

“What are we doing here?” asked Jin.

“I wanted to take you out on a date. We’ve never been on one and I thought this would be a good place to start,” answered Jiyong. He took her hand and walked with her through the shijang. “Pick out what you like and I’ll buy it for you.”

Jin smiled. She had always wanted to come with her husband/boyfriend to one of these places. “Why don’t you pick out something for me?” she suggested. “I’d rather wear something you like.”

“I can live with that.” As they strolled through the building, he stopped at a stand and picked up a soft pink sweater. “How’s this?” He held it up against her.

Jin smiled. “I like it.” Jiyong took out his wallet and paid for it. Jin took Jiyong’s hand again and whispered in his ear. “Thanks.”

Jiyong smiled back and stopped at another stand. “Do you like these?” He pointed to the hair accessories. He pointed to a sparkly hair clip. “Excuse me, can we see this one?” he asked the girl.

The girl did a double take. “Hey aren’t you.. Ko Jiyong?”

Jiyong grinned through his tinted glasses. “Sorry, I get that a lot though.”

“Oh sorry,” she muttered. She removed the clip and gave it to Jiyong.

Jiyong held the clip against Jin’s hair. “That’s pretty, do you like it?” he asked.

Jin nodded. Jiyong paid for that, too and they walked through the rest of the building together.

As the couple was walking down the street, Jin stopped. “What?” asked Jiyong. “Do you see someone you know?”

“Jiyong, we have to go in there,” said Jin. She pointed to a sticker picture booth place. She pulled him into one and she fixed her hair. After she picked a border, she pressed the button. Jiyong leaned in closer and touched his head to Jin’s.

“After I count to three, smile! You get four pictures!” the perky voice from the machine said. The couple grinned in the first three pictures but in the last one, Jiyong kissed Jin’s cheek.

Jin punched Jiyong’s shoulder. “Dork,” she said. Jiyong chuckled and picked up the pictures out of the slot. They both stuck one on their cell phones and took a taxi home.

“Is she asleep?” whispered Jiyong.

Jin nodded. “She’s snoring.” She sat down beside Jiyong on the bed. “Well, I guess I’ll go to sleep too.” She stared awkwardly at Jiyong. “Are you going to sleep here?” she asked tentatively.

He laughed. “Yes, I am your husband!” Jin blushed.

“Well it’s just that.. you know..” She glanced at him, then looked away again.

Jiyong smiled and inched closer to her. He put his arm around her and Jin felt his lips on her cheek, then her neck, and her shoulder. He kissed her forehead gently and combed his hand through her hair. He stared intently into her eyes then held her face in his hands. Slowly, he leaned in closer and pressed his lips against her’s, softly at first. Gradually, the kiss grew more demanding as his lips moved against her’s. Jin cooperated willingly and linked her arms around his neck. He moved down to her neck for a while then back to her lips again. Their kisses grew more passionate throughout the night…

Chapter 13

Jin rolled to her side and reluctantly pulled the covers off her. She heard Yoonmi crying. “Mommy’s coming,” she croaked.

Jiyong pinned her back down on the bed. “No she’s not,” he challenged. He put his arm on her and pulled her closer to him.

“Jiyong, let go. Yoonmi’s crying,” said Jin.

Jiyong let go. “Fine,” he said grumpily. He turned around to his other side.

Jin poked him. “Are you mad?” she asked. He didn’t answer. “Jiyong,” she said in a whiny voice. “You’re mad, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’ll never forgive you.”

Jin leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Okay, I forgive you.” Jin smiled and went to Yoonmi.

RING RING

Jin wiped the sweat off her brow and turned off the vacuum. She walked to the phone and answered it. “Hello?”

“Hello Mrs. Ko? Just a reminder for you to come to your check up today at Dr. Ryu’s.”

“Oh all right. Thank you. What time was it again?”

“Two o’clock,” answered the secretary.

“Thank you.”

Dr. Ryu removed his stethoscope and scribbled something on his clipboard. “Well, everything seems fine but why don’t you come in tomorrow again?”

Jin was alarmed. “Why?” she asked.

Dr. Ryu waved his hand nonchalantly. “Oh, I just noticed something in the examination. It’s probably nothing but it’s common procedure to have a follow up. Don’t worry too much about it,” he said.

Jin put on her coat. “Thank you, Doctor.”

He nodded and smiled at Yoonmi. “Hello. How are you doing?” he asked.

Yoonmi beamed at the doctor and he shook his head. “She’s a cutie. How old is she now?”

“Six months,” replied Jin.

“Well, why don’t you go home and just relax. Don’t worry too much about what I said, all right?” He waved goodbye and Jin left the office.

“So what did you do today?” asked Jiyong curiously as he sat next to her on the couch.

“Oh nothing much,” answered Jin. She didn’t want to worry Jiyong about the appointment. “Did you eat?” she asked.

He nodded.”How about you?”

Jin shook her head. “Do you want to buy me something?” she asked.

Jiyong smiled and picked up the phone. “Let me call my mom to come watch Yoonmi and we’ll go out to a pojangmacha.” He dialed the number and talk for a minute. He hung up the phone. “She’ll be here in a minute.”

Jin leaned against his shoulder. “You’re a great husband.”

Jiyong sighed. “Thanks for saying that, but I’m really not.”

Jin looked at Jiyong. “Why do you say that?”

“I mean, look at how I treated you before. You tried so hard to get along with me and all I did was..” Jin put her fingers to his lips.

“That’s okay, Jiyong. All you need to do now is be a good husband and father from now on. Okay?”

Tears welled up in Jiyong’s eyes and he pulled Jin close to him. “Thanks Jin.. Thanks for never giving up on me.”

Jin took a deep breath and entered Dr. Ryu’s office. “I’m here.”

He smiled. “Sit down.” He finished the examination. “You know, technically I’m not supposed to give you the results until tomorrow, but I can give them to you in a few hours. Do you want to come back later?” he asked.

Jin nodded nervously. “Um, sure. I’ll be back.” She pushed the stroller out and decided to do some errands before coming back.

Jin opened the door to the office and sat down. “Is it ready?” she asked. He nodded silently. “What is it? Is something wrong?”

His face was grim. “Mrs. Ko, this is the worst part of my job.”

Jin’s stomach dropped. “What is it? It’s not serious, is it? Is it?”

“Mrs. Ko, you have cancer,” he stated simply.

Chapter 14

Jin was stunned. “What did you say?”

His eyes fell. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Ko.”

She swallowed hard. “What kind of cancer is it?” she asked after a long pause.

“AML, or Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”

Jin’s head started spinning. “No, this must be some type of mistake. I’ve always been so healthy. You made a mistake. You must have,” she said, trying to convince herself.

The doctor shook his head. “Mrs.Ko, calm down.”

Something inside Jin snapped. “Calm down?!” she yelled. “YOU CAN’T TELL ME I HAVE A FATAL DISEASE WHEN EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE IS FINALLY GOING RIGHT!”

“Mrs. Ko, calm down!” ordered Dr. Ryu.

Jin took deep breaths and held her hands to keep them from shaking. “How can I get well?” she asked.

“Mrs. Ko, we will try to do everything we can to find a bone marrow match to your’s. Do you have any relatives?”

Jin thought for a moment. “I have an aunt and uncle with a few cousins.”

Dr. Ryu nodded. “Have them come in and we’ll test them.”

Jin wrung her hands nervously as she awaited Dr. Ryu’s call. RING RING She jumped and grabbed the phone. “Hello?”

“Mrs. Ko? This is Dr. Ryu.”

“Yes, how is it? What are the results?” she inquired.

He sighed. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Ko. Do you have any more relatives?”

“No.”

“Well, we’ll try our best to find another donor. Come down here and we’ll give you some shots you’re supposed to give yourself once a day. After that, all we can do is wait. All right?”

Jin nodded numbly. “All right..”

Jin lay awake in her bed. She couldn’t sleep. Yoonmi was sleeping and Jiyong would be coming in late so the house was dead silent yet she was wide awake. She was so scared. She stared at the clock. It was 4 AM. She pulled the covers over her head. This was ridiculous. She needed to get some sleep. When Jin heard the front door open,she didn’t move. She couldn’t face Jiyong right now.

“Jin? Are you sleeping?” He flipped on the light. “You’re wide awake. Good. Come on out to the living room. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Jin turned around in the bed and groaned. “Not now, Jiyong. I want to sleep.”

He grabbed her arms and pulled her out of the bed. “Come on now. As long as you’re awake..” He led her out to the living room and sat her down on the couch. She watched him as he turned on the stereo. He stood in front of her as the first chords of the soft ballad played. A few seconds later, he smiled and helped her stand out of the couch.

“Jiyong, what’s going on?” Jin whispered.

Jiyong hugged her around the waist and lifted her arms to go around his neck. As the introduction ended, they swayed to the slow music and Jiyong started to sing. “Geu dae neun..na man ae yuh in ee yuh…” Jin knew this song. It was Kim Gun Mo’s ‘Mi An Hae Yo.’ She listened to Jiyong’s voice as he apologized for all the wrong he had done in the relationship through the song. “Na reul yong suh hal soo eet nah yo. Mi An Hae Yo..” Tears welled up in Jin’s eyes as Jiyong expressed his remorse and love for her. Soon, one by one, the tears fell and she started weeping silently. “Ah jik doe mot da han mal..geu dael..sarang hae yo.” After a few seconds, the song ended. “I love you Jin,” he said. “Sarang hae..” The tears continued to fall from Jin’s face.

Jiyong started to pull away but Jin held on tightly. “Please Jiyong..Could we please stay like this for a while?” she managed to say.

Jiyong held her around the waist and put his hand through her hair. “Jin, I’m sorry..” He kissed her hair. “I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?”

Jin sniffled and faced him. She kissed him lightly on the mouth. “There’s nothing to forgive, Jiyong.”

Jiyong pulled her close again and held her. “I love you, Jin.”

“I love you too, Jiyong.”

Time passed and the phone remained silent. Jin was still holding on, taking the shots when necessary but no blood marrow donor had been found yet. Only Jin and the doctor know about her disease.

“Do you want me to help you?” asked Jiyong.

Jin shook her head and rinsed the sudsy plate she was holding. “No, it’s only a few. I can do it myself.” She reached for a cup, but she missed it. She squinted her eyes. Was her vision going bad? Everything was looking blurry. She vigorously shook her head to clear it up and grabbed the cup. After she rinsed out the cup, she reached out to open the cupboard but missed it again. She grew dizzy and stumbled to the side. The cup crashed to the floor.

Jiyong turned his head and saw Jin leaning against the counter with her hand on her head. He walked to her. “Are you okay?” he asked in a concerned voice.

Jin nodded weakly. “I’ve had this headache all morning.. I think I’ll go take some pain reliever..” She took a step towards the bathroom.

“Do you want me to get it for you?” he offered.

Jin shook her head. “No, I’ll get it.” She slammed the door shut to the bathroom and locked it. Blindly, she pulled open the medicine cabinet and took out her tin box of syringes. After she finished inserting the needle, she stumbled to the bedroom and collapsed on to the bed. How much longer?

Chapter 15

“Jiyong,” said Jin.

Jiyong turned his head. “Yeah?” he answered.

“Um, I have something to tell you.”

He smiled. “Me too,” he said.

“Oh, what?” asked Jin. “You go first.”

“Oh well, it wasn’t that important but I was just thinking about Yoonmi. She’s just a baby now but soon she’ll grow up and get married and everything. Maybe even become a movie star or something like me. Even though it seems so far away, time moves so fast.. I’m just glad that I won’t need to watch her grow up alone, that I’ll have you by my side. As long as I have you with me, growing old with me, I think I’ll be able to do anything. It’s just comforting to know, don’t you think?” Jin swallowed. “Sorry, you said you had something to say and I’m all babbling. Go ahead.”

“Oh it’s I.. I just saw Yoonmi do the cutest thing yesterday and..”

Jiyong beamed. “Oh, what was it?”

Jin grew flustered. “Oh, it was.. She.. Um.. Gee, you know what? I forgot.” She snapped her fingers.

Jiyong laughed. “Don’t tell me you’re getting early memory loss.” He glanced at the clock. “Oh, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.” He kissed her cheek and ran out the door.

Jin sighed. “I really should tell him…”

“YEOW!”

Jin came running into the kitchen. “What, what happened?” she asked frantically.

Jiyong winced with pain. “Oh, it’s nothing. I just cut myself with a knife,” he answered.

“Stay right here. I’ll go get something for it.” She rushed to the bathroom to grab a band aid and some ointment from the medicine cabinet. She carefully cleaned the cut and applied some ointment. “How did you cut yourself?”

“I was peeling an apple,” he replied.

Jin gave him a look. “You really should be more careful,” she pointed out. She wrapped the band aid around his finger.”There, good as new. Now, an old fashioned remedy.” Jiyong looked at her expectantly and she kissed his finger.

“Oh, you know what? I think I cut myself on the lip too,” he joked.

Jin rolled her eyes and hit him on the forehead. “Nice try.”

“Oh come on,” he wheedled. “Be a sport.” He closed his eyes and Jin kissed him tenderly.

Jin glanced at her watch. “Oh, I’ve got to go to Yuri’s. I promised I would take Yoonmi out to visit. I’ll just be gone a couple hours.” She grabbed Yoonmi, kissed Jiyong on his cheek and left.

Jiyong wrinkled his face in disgust as the band aid started to peel off his finger. “Yuck.” He tore off the gross band aid and walked to the bathroom to get a fresh one. He opened the medicine cabinet and searched for the box of band aids. He found it and applied a fresh one but didn’t leave the bathroom. Behind the band aid box, he discovered a rectangular tin box. “Wonder what this is,” he said to himself. He popped open the lid to find a bunch of syringes. He had no idea what they were so he decided to take them to the pharmacy and find out..

Jin fumbled for her keys in her purse and brought them out. She aimed for the keyhole, but kept missing. She was growing dizzy again. She thrust the key towards the keyhole but the door opened. There was a fuzzy image in front of her. She blinked hard to see clearer.

“Jiyong, you’re still home?” She tried forcing herself to walk straight, but she would tip to the side every now and then.

“Do you have another headache?” he asked.

Jin nodded. “I’d better go take some more pain reliever.” She walked towards the bathroom.

“Why don’t you just take these?” He tossed a tin box on to the coffee table.

Jin’s eyes grew wide. “Jiyong, how did you….”

“Is that what really matters?” he snapped irritably.

Jin hung her head. “I’m sorry Jiyong. I meant to tell you..”

“So why didn’t you?” He glared at her fiercely.

Jin lifted her head and met his eyes. “I didn’t want to hurt you. Things in our relationship were finally going right and I didn’t want to bring hardships on it. You were so happy and..”

Jiyong cut her off. “Just forget about it,” he growled. He stalked off to his old bedroom and slammed the door. Jin followed him and saw him leaning his forehead against the wall. He turned his head to her and scowled. “Can’t you get the hint? I really don’t want to see you right now.”

Jin approached him. “Jiyong, I’m sorry. I know I should’ve said something..” She touched his shoulder.

Jiyong turned around, forcing her hand to drop. “Why now?!” he shouted. “Right when I realize how much I need you and love you, you have to go and get a disease!” He turned back around again, leaning against the wall with his back towards Jin. Tears formed in his eyes. “How could you not tell me?” he whispered.

A tear dropped from Jin’s eye and she put her hands on Jiyong’s shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I’m sorry.” She leaned against his back and rested her cheek on it. Her tears soaked through his shirt. “Please don’t hate me. I need you so much,” she sobbed.

Jiyong’s body shook from his silent weeping and he couldn’t stand it anymore. He turned around and took Jin in his arms. He allowed his tears to fall freely. He sniffled and kissed Jin on the top of her head. “I love you so much, Jin. Don’t worry. You’re going to live. We’ve come too far for you to die now.”

RING RING

Jiyong dove for the phone and answered it. “Hello?” he said breathlessly. Jin stood by Jiyong, twiddling her fingers anxiously. “Yes? Right now? All right.” Jiyong hung up the phone.

“What is it?” asked Jin nervously.

“The doctor says to bring you to the hospital right away. Says it’s urgent.” He helped Jin with her coat and put the baby in the stroller.

Jin grew worried. What was going to happen?

Chapter 16

“Mr. Ko, Mrs. Ko,” greeted Dr. Ryu. He shook Jiyong’s and Jin’s hand. “Have a seat, please.”

The couple sat. “What is it, doctor?” asked Jin. She felt Jiyong grasp her hand. “Has something gone wrong?”

The doctor shook his head. “No, actually, I have good news.” A spark of hope lit in Jin. “We found someone with a blood marrow similar to your’s.”

Tears of happiness glistened in Jin’s eyes. “OMG, Jiyong!” She looked at him with delight.

But the doctor’s expression remained serious. “Mrs. Ko, I’m afraid to say your happiness is premature.” Jin’s smile faded.

“What do you mean by that, doctor?” querried Jiyong.

“Although there is a chance for the surgery to be successful, there is a chance that it could be unsuccessful too. And…” He hesitated.

“What doctor, is there more?” asked Jiyong.

“There’s a chance Mrs. Ko could die during the surgery too,” finished Dr. Ryu solemnly.

Jin felt like her stomach had just plummeted straight down to her feet. “What..what is the chance of me surviving?” she asked.

“Mrs. Ko, you have a thirty percent chance of the surgery being successful. It would be higher but the donor’s blood marrow is not exact with your’s even though it is similar.”

Jin swallowed a lump in her throat. “What if.. I don’t go through the surgery?”

Dr. Ryu let out a deep sigh. “Then you can undergo chemotherapy and radiation here. It will extend your life but I can’t guarantee it will save it.”

Jin tried keeping her tears in. “So you’re saying that I have a seventy percent of dying with surgery and almost a hundred percent without it. Is that correct?”

Dr. Ryu nodded silently.

Jin and Jiyong exchanged glances. “It’s up to you,” stated Jiyong. Jin’s face crumpled as she saw Yoonmi in her stroller, sleeping as if she had no cares in the world. Jiyong held Jin to him. “Jin, do what you want. I won’t blame you for anything,” he whispered.

Jin pulled away from Jiyong and wiped her tears away. She stared straight into the doctor’s eyes and nodded. “When can I check in for surgery?”

“You know what, you really are a jerk,” stated Yuri as she looked at Jin in her hospital bed.

Sunghoon nodded. “I can’t say I disagree,” he said.

Jin smiled weakly. “I’m sorry, guys. I just didn’t want to trouble anyone then. But you guys are here now.”

Sunghoon and Yuri came to opposite sides of Jin’s bed and sat. “You have to come through this, all right? For Jiyong, for Yoonmi, for me, for Yuri.. For everyone who cares about you,” said Sunghoon.

Yuri’s eyes sparkled with tears. “I love you, Jin. Don’t leave me, okay?” Sunghoon kept his tears in. Jin held out her arms and her friends came into them.

“Don’t worry guys. I’ll be all right. You’ll see.”

KNOCK KNOCK

“Come in,” called out Jin.

Jiyong poked his head through the door. “Hi.”

Jin smiled. “Hi.”

“I brought some people who want to see you.” He came in holding Yoonmi. Also came Mrs. Ko, his mother.

“Hi dear,” greeted Mrs. Ko. She sat at Jin’s bed side and held her hand.

“Hello Uh muh nee,” said Jin with a smile. “I’m sorry you have to see me like this.”

Mrs. Ko slapped Jin’s hand lightly. “Now, that’s a lot of nonsense. All you need to do now is to get well, all right?” She smiled at Jin.

Jin smiled back. “I will,” she replied.

Jiyong came to Jin’s other side, holding Yoonmi. “Yoonmi, say hi to mommy.” He took Yoonmi’s hand and shook it at Jin.

Jin laughed. “Hi Yoonmi.” Yoonmi beamed at Jin happily and jumped up and down.

Mrs. Ko took Yoonmi from Jiyong. “I’ll take her now. Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of her.” She squeezed Jin’s hand and left the room.

“Jiyong, I’ll make it, won’t I?” asked Jin fearfully.

Jiyong sighed. “What makes you even say that? Of course you will.”

Jin shook her head. “I could not make it, though. I have a seventy percent chance of dying.. Jiyong, if I don’t make it, I want you to do something for me.”

“Stop talking like that! Stop it!” shouted Jiyong. Tears streamed down his face. “You’re going to make it, you are!” he argued.

Jin felt a tear trickle down her cheek and she touched Jiyong’s cheek. With her thumb, she gently wiped away his tear. “Take care of Yoonmi.. Also, go on without me. Don’t stay alone. All right?” she whispered.

Jiyong shook his head. “I can’t do that. You can’t tell me to do that!”

More tears fell down Jin’s cheeks. “Please..”

Jiyong nodded silently. “Okay, I promise.” Jiyong bent down and pressed his lips against Jin’s. ‘She’s going to make it.. she will,’ thought Jiyong determinedly.

“Mrs. Ko, it’s time for your surgery.”

Jin nodded and Jiyong followed the nurses and doctors as they wheeled Jin’s cart away. He held on to Jin’s hand. “Mr. Ko, you need to go. No one is allowed into the operating room except doctors and nurses,” said a nurse.

Jiyong ignored her and gripped Jin’s hand. “Jin, I love you. Sarang hae.”

Jin smiled. “I love you too.” Tears glistened in her eyes.

A tear drop ran down Jiyong’s face. “I love you, Jin! I love you!” As she was pushed through the operating room, Jiyong was forced to drop his hand. He fell to the floor on his knees. “Please God,” he whispered. “Help her to make it..”

Silently, Jiyong solemnly placed fresh flowers at the grave. After paying his respects, he stood and left the graveyard.

EPILOGUE…

Jiyong came through the door of his apartment. “Where were you?”

“Oh I was at jang mo neem’s grave. It is choosuk, you know,” answered Jiyong.

Jin ran to him and put her arms around his neck. “Have I ever told you how much I love you?” she asked.

He held her around the waist. “No, how much?”

Jin smiled and kissed him. “That much.”

Jiyong laughed and spun her around. “Where’s Yoonmi?” he asked.

Jin pulled him to Yoonmi’s room. Jiyong gasped with excitement as he saw Yoonmi waddling towards him. “I know, isn’t that great? She took her first steps this afternoon.”

Jiyong scooped Yoonmi up in his arms and kissed her all over her face. Yoonmi giggled happily. Jiyong felt like the happiest man in the world, being with the two most beautiful girls he knew.

“Mrs. Ko! You’re late again!” bellowed Mr. Cho.

Jin grinned. “Sorry, Mr. Cho. Traffic.” She laughed at her own lame excuse.

Mr. Cho rolled his eyes. “Just get to work. Your assignment’s on your desk.”

“Hmmm, Mr. Cho’s in a brutal mood, I see,” commented Sunghoon, reading Jin’s assignment.

Jin snatched the paper away and read it. “Damn it. An editorial and a sports story?”

“Jin!!!” hollered Yuri. She came running to Jin’s desk. “We’re all still meeting for dinner today, right?”

Jin laughed. “Right, Yuri. Don’t get too excited.”

Sunghoon grinned and put his arms around his two friends. He looked to Jin. “So, you’re paying right?” Jin slapped Sunghoon on the arm.

“Hey, I had that first!” Jin hit Sunghoon’s chopstick with her’s and scooped up the piece of galbi.

Sunghoon stuck his tongue out at her. “Pig.”

“You guys fighting again?” Jin and Sunghoon looked behind them to see Jiyong walking towards the table. “Hey, sorry I’m late.” He sat down beside Jin and kissed her cheek.

“Yuck! Get a room!” Sunghoon wrinkled his face with disgust and exchanged glances with Yuri.

“Where’s Yoonmi?” asked Jin.

“She’s with my mom,” answered Jiyong. “So, you guys ate everything already?” He looked at the practically empty grill.

Sunghoon smiled sheepishly. “Don’t worry, there’s more coming,” he reassured.

“There it comes!” Yuri said. She waved the waiter who was carrying the meat over to their table. Everyone licked their chops as the meat sizzled on the grill. “So Jin, how have you been feeling lately?” asked Yuri.

Jin smiled and thought for a moment. She looked in front to see her two best friends and to her left to see her husband. She thought of her precious daughter at home with her loving grandmother. “I feel like…the most happiest woman on earth.”

“Group hug!” called out Sunghoon. He stood up in his seat. Everyone else remained seated. “Oh come on you guys!” Everyone else slowly stood up and they all hugged each other. “Awwww,” said Sunghoon.

“Dork,” remarked everyone in unison. Sunghoon stuck his tongue out at all of them.

Jin laughed. She really did feel like the most happiest woman on earth.

Love is Blind by: JiyOnG’z BaBy bOo

love is blind.JPG

  • a Jiyong fanfic
  • completed

Chapter 1 

The window was left open and dampness of the rain drifted in. He sat in his favorite chair, staring ahead, listening to the light taps of rain touching everything it came in contact with. He let out a sigh, not a bored one, but a lonely one. He stood up slowly and made his way towards the kitchen, taking cautious steps, yet, big ones for being so familiarized with his big house. Then he let out a bitter sigh.
Guess you’re not so rich when you don’t have every essential thing in life.
Sweet aroma danced into the cool room and upon hearing the shuffling of feet, he knew it was one of his many hired nurses exiting the cooking room.
“Young Master, it’s time to eat.”
He ignored the tired voice like he did every other day since he moved to live here.
“Young Master, your food is getting cold,” the servant informed dutifully.
“I’m not hungry,” he snapped.
“But Young Master, it is Puyin’s orders that you are to be taken care of….”
He drowned out the rambling voice. Sure, it was his mother’s orders that he gets special attention and care in this holed up place, but she didn’t care. Ever since his incident, he was unable to see. Shunned by society, his parents forced him to move out of the grand house they owned and into another one they purchased some years ago which was vacant. His sister, Jiyoon was off in the States, studying, never came back to see him. Having to live in luxury didn’t satisify his needs, although he had more than enough necessities supplied.
Somewhere in the house, the phone rang.
“Master, it’s for you.”
“Tell whoever it is, I don’t want to speak to them,” he growled.
“But it’s Sunghoon sir.”
“I don’t care. Tell him to not call again.”
Not only had this incident changed his parents but him also. He stayed away from society. Rejected phone calls from his closest friends.
“C’mon! Lemme talk to Jiyong!” Sunghoon’s small voice whined.
“My Master asks that you are to not ever call again,” a servant mocked tartly.
“He didn’t say that! C’mon! Lemme speak to him! You’re not his mother! You can’t control his life! Give him the phone!”
Jiyong reluctantly gave into hearing Sunghoon’s shrill, whining voice and ordered the servant to bring him the phone.
“Jiyong?” Sunghoon smiled, amazed that his friend would speak to him.
“Wuddo you want?!” Jiyong barked.
Sunghoon winced at the response. “How are you?” he asked timidly.
“You called me just to find out how I am doing?! I’m very well, thank you. If there’s nuthin else – ”
“Jiyong, meet me.” Sunghoon blurted.
Jiyong let out a bitter laugh. “Meet? Really Sunghoon. At a time like this, you still manage to be your funny self.”
“No, Jiyong. I’m not trying to be funny. I’m serious. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen each other and I want to see you.”
“But guess what, Sunghoon? I don’t. Even if I could see you, I still wouldn’t want to. Have a good day.”
“No, wait!” Sunghoon shouted.
“Wut?” Jiyong snapped impatiently.
“Wut if I came to see you?”
A silence came between the two and Sunghoon thought he had won the argument. Only to be let down by a gruff ‘no’ took all the happiness he had started to work up.
“But-But…why not?” he protested.
“Really, Sunghoon. You just dunno when to stop, do you? Don’t call me again. I’m thoroughly annoyed with you. Bye!” Jiyong thundered, slamming down the phone.
Damn kid. Why won’t he just get a life?!
But Jiyong couldn’t blame Sunghoon for being annoying, afterall, he is his best friend. It’s just natural for Sunghoon to be that was when it comes time for him to find things out. He’ll work his way through annoying your nerves and strikes you in your weak spot. He’s a caring kid, but right now, Jiyong just wanted everybody to leave him alone.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Will my son be able to see?” Mrs. Ko shouted hopefully at the doctor.
“Right now, as of the conditions…”
“I don’t care about the conditions! Will my son be able to see again?” the ferocious woman bellowed.
“Honey, let the doctor talk,” her husband said softly, pulling her back.
“I want to know if Jiyong could ever see again! And you want me to calm down?!”
“You won’t be able to find out by yelling at the doctor,” her husband chided.
She glared at her husband before giving the doctor her full attention.
“Right now, our doctors are discussing with scientists and they are coming up with a way to help the blind see. I think Jiyong has a positive chance of regaining his vision.”
Mrs. Ko opened her mouth to say something but closed it again, letting the doctor finish his statement.
“It is new and I can’t guarantee if it’ll work a hundred percent. Do you want Jiyong to be the first patient to test this new technology?”
“No! Of course not! What are you, crazy?!” the woman fired.
“Why not?” Jiyong’s father asked, curious.
“What if insteada curing Jiyong, it worsens his chance of seeing? Don’t you think that’s too risky?”
Her husband nodded in agreement and look at the doctor for consolation.
“Which is why I’m asking you. We don’t have enough evidence to prove anything yet, but just to let you know sumthin is bound to come out and help your son,” the doctor said reassuringly.
Jiyong’s mother beckoned the doctor and smiled for the first time in days.
Jiyong, there is hope. You will be able to see again, my son. You will love Oma for this. You won’t regret Oma’s decisions or hate me for them because they’re for your own good.

Chapter 2
           It happened right on his birthday of last year. His closest friends – Sunghoon, Jiwon, Jaejin, Jaeduk and Suwon – all five of them chipped in money to buy him a new car. The very car he was desperately in love with. It was a red, chic Toyota Supra he thought only real racecar devils owned.
Of all friends, who could have known him better? Sunghoon, of course. It was his idea to buy Jiyong a gift that would only mean life to him. His sister who was long gone from his life, missed out on the celebration. Turning eighteen, right on that day, was absolutely the best day of his life. Until he decided to test drive his car.
Jiyong was a little racer himself. On the highways, he taunted Jiwon about driving too slow and when it was his turn at the wheel…Let’s just say, he’s the main reason why seatbelts were invented.
Time drew close to 2 a.m. and the party poopers were really pooped, Jiyong escorted them out the door and had one of his servants drive them home. It was deep in the night when Jiyong retired to bed and in his room he grew restless by the minute. Time slowly ticked to five in the morning and as the adrenaline pumped through his arms, he made up his mind to go drive his car.
It was all silent throughout the house. His parents cuddled in bed, sound asleep and the servants were in their quarters napping their precious seconds away. Jiyong jiggled his keys to the brand new Supra and stoled away in the night. He tiptoed out to the garage and quickly slid into his car. It was just pure paradise. He back out of the driveway and out onto the track.
His parents built a track for him and his sister. Way back when Jiyoon was only eight or so, claimed she wanted horse back riding lessons. She got her wish. Two years later, she wanted something else and pretty much, the track was abandoned. Up until when Jiyong reached eight.
On weekends, he’d take his bike outside and race around, goofing off with Sunghoon and Jiwon. Then from bicycles to motorcycles, from that to cars and the chain goes on! It was in his blood…he was born to race.
He now rounded the car and faced the opened arena. Slowly, he circled aound the track then picking up speed, he skidded to a stop. He sat in his car, shifted his gear and zoomed off again. He skidded again and came to another halt.
Finally making up his mind, he set forth in his car and drove off, the wind screaming in his ears. Within an instant, he wasn’t even sure if he was still on the track.
The sensation being too overwhelming.
Everything went by him in a blur. The sounding screech of the wind pierced his ears, his heart beating rapidly against his ribcage.
Suddenly, he felt himself flying. He felt himself jerk forward and his brain pulling in the back of his head. He heard a terrible screech of metallic against concrete and raised his hands to cover his ears. Only to find that he couldn’t move them.
He looked down at his arms, which were pinned to his sides and felt crushed in the car. Glancing out the window he decided he must have crashed into a spider web (due to the cracked window). Then peering through the side window, he saw the most disturbing sight.
He was upside down!
But how could this be?! he wondered.
As he waited for help to arrive, he prayed hopefully the servants heard the loud scrape of his car against the graveled ground. Seconds dragged to minutes and minutes dragged onto hours. His world started blacking out. He batted his eyes to keep himself awake, but he wasn’t tired at all. The first rays of light began to dim and soon, he was engulfed in pure darkness.

Chapter 3
           “OOOOOOOMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!”
“HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!”
“OOOOOOOMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!”
“You have to keep still,” an attending nurse commanded sternly.
“OOOMMMAAAAA!”
Mrs. Ko sobbed as she watched her son being wheeled away to the emergency room on the hospital bed.
That morning she had awaken to a frenzy in house. Servants ran about, shouting orders and suggestions at each other. She heard her name being mentioned several times and hurried downstairs to see the uprising riot.
Of all things, she found her son’s eyes squeezed shut and servants around him. His arms laid in a strange position and blood soaked his shirt. He could only mumble ‘Oma’ and then start screaming like a madman. She rushed to her delirious son and realized he was in shock. She slapped him twice and his eyes popped open. He gazed at her momentarily before letting his head loll off to side. She watched his eyes roll to the back of his head, lasping into the state of unconsiousness before letting out a bloodcurdling scream.
She had no idea how long she kneeled on the floor, screaming her son’s name and desperately trying to shake him awake.
The ambulance arrived without her notice, by then she could only utter her son’s name. As attendants pulled her away from the motionless body of her son, the only thing that ran through her mind was, What happened?
To think someone had deliberately set out to harm her son sent a chill coursing up her spine.
But who would do this kind of a thing? she wondered.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The doctors rushed about in the operating room, trying to calm Jiyong down. His cries grew more frantic and desperate by the minute. His arms rested by his side, ached and burned as if it was on fire. Shots were injected and more screams and cries erupted from him. Slowly, his voice died; him, falling into a deep sleep.
He was quickly stripped of his bloody attire and the usual rountine of the emergency room was once again performed. The nurses cleaned him up good and then he was observed by several doctors. They all came to the same conclusion that nothing was physically wrong with the boy, at least not visibly to the naked eye. Except for his arms and legs.
His arms lost their senses from staying in the car too long and his legs were crushed from the sudden landing of the car. But other than that, they haven’t found anything majorly wrong with him. Soon he was wheeled away to the ‘critical condition’ section of the hospital.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Day faded into night and the stay at the hospital was tiring. Mrs. Ko looked down at her only son, who was sleeping angelically on his hospital bed. She smoothed his hair back, fighting back tears. She had learned of her servants that he was found in his car. Flipped! He was still conscious, but in shock. His arms bled and a gash formed on the side of his face.
They, too, were clueless as to how the Young Master ended up in his new car, flipped and dazed.
“O…oma…”
Mrs. Ko shook off the bothersome thoughts and looked at her son.
“O…oma…” he moaned, his eyes fluttering.
“Jiyong,” his mother murmured, caressing her son’s bony hand.
“O..o..omaaaa…”
“Mom’s here. Open your eyes, baby.”
As if a robot, Jiyong’s eyes opened mechanically and wandered, not focusing on anything.
“Jiyong, how do you feel?”
“Mom…where am I?” he whispered hoarsely.
“You dunno?”
Jiyong shook his head vainly.
“You’re in the hospital.”
“Hospital? For wut?!”
He has no idea…
“For wut, Mom?!” Jiyong repeated.
“You were in an accident.”
“Accident? Wut accident? Mom! Wut happened to me?”
“Wut were you doing in your car early in the morning?” she questioned, the sudden anger returning.
“Morning? Wut are you talking about?”
“Don’t mess with me! Wut were you doing in your car early this morning?!”
Jiyong paused before answering. “This morning? I was test driving my car.”
“You were doing WHAT?”
“Test driving my car.”
She felt cold. She thought she was about to faint upon hearing the crazy excuse her son had offered her.
“Mom, why is it so dark in here?”
Mrs. Ko gazed down at her son, watching his unfocused eyes still wandering.
“Mom?”
“Whaddid you just say?” she asked, feeling faint.
“Why is it so dark here?”
“Dark?” she echoed, her heart raced.
“Yeah. Is the power out?”
Mrs. Ko glanced at the light that stood on the table next to the bed and up at the dimly lit light of the room. “How many fingers am I holding up?” she asked, her voice wavering.
“Fingers? Mom, stop playing games. You’re not holding anything up. Or I can’t see if you are. Turn on the light.”
Her deepest fear was confirmed. She waved her hand over Jiyong’s wide eyes and still, his eyes wandered of a lost child.
“Mom, what are you doing?”
“Look at me, Jiyong,” she choked, hearing her voice shake.
“I can’t see you, Mom. It’s too dark. Shouldn’t it be afternoon now? I remember I went down to my car at five.”
“Jiyong, it’s eleven right now,” she informed, her voice thick.
“At night?!”
His mother nodded.
“I was sleeping for that long!?” he screeched.
“I thought you weren’t going to wake up,” she said softly to herself.
“Say wut, Oma?”
“Nuthin…”
“Can you at least turn on a light? It’s getting annoyingly dark in here.”
“But…Jiyong…the lights are turned on.”
Silence.
“Jiyong?”
Jiyong’s ashen face was still like a stone. His eyes stopped wandering and stared straight up at the ceiling.
“Wut are you saying?”
“Ji…”
“How are we doing?”
Mrs. Ko turned at the cheery voice. A doctor strolled in, clicking his pen with a clipboard at his side.
“Wuz wrong with me, doctor?” Jiyong asked gruffly.
“Wrong? You haven’t given me the chance to look at you yet,” the doctor answered with a chuckle.
“Well, can you get to it!?” Jiyong snapped.
The doctor raised an amused brow at the still body that laid on the bed. “Very well,” he replied, setting down his clipboard and pen. Mrs. Ko stepped away from the bed and sat in a chair close to her son. The doctor quickly examined Jiyong and shook his head.
“Follow my finger,” the doctor instructed with a sigh, already knowing Jiyong was blind.
“I can’t see anything. It’s too dark,” Jiyong complained.
Mrs. Ko chewed on her botton lip from crying out loud. Her son was blind and there was nothing she could do to help or comfort him. He’s an invalid.
“I’ll let you rest now. I’ll come back again to check on you tomorrow,” the doctor informed with a nod, motioning for Jiyong’s mother.
“Jiyong, Oma will be back tomorrow.
“I’m blind,” Jiyong stated flatly, finally realizing what was going on.
Mrs. Ko froze.
“I’m blind,” Jiyong repeated in the same cool tone. “Isn’t that right?”
“Ji…”
“TELL ME!”
“YES, JIYONG!” Mrs. Ko screamed, her voice cracking.
The room was silent except for his mother’s violent sobs. Her shoulders heaved with every intake of breath and the doctor patted her softly on the back.
“Good night, Oma.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

It seemed like only yesterday when he was in the hospital, trying to accept the new concept of himself being blind. His mother’s last minute love for him. His last time ‘seeing’ his friends. His last time living like a ‘normal’ person.
He shook off the grim memories and retired to his room. Leaving his food to cool as he did every other day.

Chapter 4 

“Looking for a caretaker…”
“Wutcha looking at, Chomee?”
Chomee looked up from the newspaper and at her classmate, Miyoung. “I need a job.”
“Are there any good ones?”
“I’m looking at one. But I’m not so sure about it,” Chomee said with a frown, pointing at the ad.
Miyoung peered over Chomee’s shoulder and giggled.
“Wuz so funny?” Chomee demanded.
“I can’t believe they have the nerve to put out an ad like that,” Miyoung said disgustingly, shaking her head.
“What, why?” Chomee fired eagerly, jumping up and down.
Miyoung regarded Chomee strangely. “Oh, yeah! You’re from Pusan. I keep thinking you’re from here. You’ve never heard of any rich people down there?”
Chomee shook her head, confused.
“Well, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the accident involving a boy about our age, possibly older.”
Again, Chomee shook her head.
“You haven’t?!” Miyong shrieked.
“What is it? Tell me!” Chomee pleaded.
“Ko Jiyong – ” Miyoung started.
“Wait! I’ve heard about him! Wasn’t he like really, really smart and his nuna’s in the States studying?”
“Uh-huh. Anyways, that’s him,” Miyoung replied, pointing at the newspaper.
“But why does he need an extra caretaker? Isn’t he rich?” Chomee implied, waving the newspaper.
“He’s blind,” Miyoung whispered.
Chomee gasped, horrified.
“It happened last year. He was driving and he got into an accident. I think he was racing again,” Miyoung guessed.
“So, now…”
“His parents kicked him out of the house,” Miyoung continued.
“They did?!” Chomee shouted, her heart wrenching with pain. “But why?!”
“Guess they can’t deal with a handicapped son,” Miyoung answered with a shrug.
“Poor kid,” Chomee said remorsefully.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“GET OUT!!!!”
The servants stumbled out of the room before Jiyong picked anything up to hurl at them.
“Master! Let us in! We need to clean your room!”
“I don’t want it clean! Go clean your rooms!” Jiyong roared.
The sound of the phone interrupted the quarrel.
“Yeboseyo?” a scared servant squeaked into the phone.
“Sangah ni?” a familiar voice barked.
“N-Neh…” Sangah replied fearfully, recognizing Mrs. Ko’s voice.
“Where’s Jiyong!?”
“Master’s up in his room,” Sangah choked.
“I want you to scrub the house clean. There will be a new girl working with you. She’s coming tomorrow. Hear?”
“Y-Y-Yes.”
Mrs. Ko hung up without further comment and turned to her husband.
“Do you think she’ll be our answer to help Jiyong?”
“I dunno. She sounded pretty sincere and honest when I spoke with her on the phone,” Mrs. Ko commented lightly.
“How old is she?”
“Quite young. Sixteen or seventeen.”
“She’s younger than Jiyong?!” Mr. Ko exclaimed, surprised.
Mrs. Ko shrugged. “We’ll give it a try, if she’s not good, then we’ll dismiss her.”
“Try? What could she do?”
“Don’t underestimate the powers of a girl,” his wife warned, drawing out a stick of cigarette.
“What’s her name?” Mr. Ko finally asked.
“Yoon Chomee,” his wife replied as she exhaled, blowing out a steam of smoke, her eyes tracing it as it disappeared in thin air.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Miyoung! Miyoung! I got it! I got it!” Chomee yelped gleefully.
“Wut, wut? Wuddid you get?!” Miyoung’s voice raised with alarm.
“I got the job! I got the job!”
“Job?” Miyoung echoed, batting her eyes in confusion.
“C’min!”
Miyoung appeared in the doorway of Chomee’s room. “What’s going on?”
Chomee pointed at the newspaper on her bed, “I got the job!”
“Being Jiyong’s personal slave?” Miyoung raised a brow.
“No!”
“Then wut do you call it? You’re going to his house, alone, a girl above all that and if you’re not serving him, then what do you call that? I don’t think he has enough room for a girlfriend. Especially not after Susan dumped his ass.”
“Susan?”
“His girlfriend.”
“How do you know so much?”
“My father works with his and my brother liked his sister,” Miyoung shrugged.
“Lemme guess. You liked him,” Chomee taunted.
Miyoung lowered her head as her face boiled. Chomee let out a deep chuckle and pulled her friend in her room.
“You’re so mean,” Miyoung finally said.
“No, not mean. Just nosy,” Chomee corrected, watching the color of Miyoung’s face elevate to crimison. “His girlfriend…Was she like his mother too?” Chomee probed.
“She’s a gold digger. She only went out with him because their parents know each other and she wanted him for his money and good looks,” Miyoung snickered, making a face.
“I sense that you know an awful lot about them,” Chomee sang.
“I used to go to school with them. That was when Jiyoon was still here before some school up in Boston offered her a scholarship.”
Chomee gasped. “Was she really that smart? What school was it?”
Miyoung squinted at the question. “Harvard, I think it was,” she said uncertainly.
“Damn her. I wish I was that smart.”
“And rich,” Miyoung added.
“What about Susan?” Chomee inquired, switching back to the subject.
“Nuthin. She just never called him or anything. She didn’t even stop his mother from kicking him out of the house.”
“That is so mean. My mother would never let me out of her sight if I was in his shoes,” Chomee tsked.
“Well, your mother’s different from rich mothers. She had already lost so much, how could she afford to lose you?”
Chomee remained silent, thinking of her mother that laid on her deathbed back at home in Pusan. Day by day, her health status declined. She coughed and wheezed like an old woman, yet she was only forty. Hardly any aging signs. Chomee gave up going to doctors. They were all the same. They were either cheats or stupid people that can’t tell the difference between a cold and an illness.
“Chomee.”
Chomee jolted back to the present. “Huh?”
“Thinking ’bout your mom again?”
“I hope she’ll forgive me,” Chomee whispered as her mother’s face of disapproval flashed in front of her.

Chapter 5 

“Ahnyonghaseyo.” Chomee curtsied, peering through her lashes at the stone faced woman.
“Are you Chomee Yoon?” the woman spoke flatly, observing Chomee.
“Neh,” Chomee replied politely.
The eyes narrowed to silts as they continued to roam freely over her body. “Do you know who you are working for?”
“For the Ko family?” Chomee answered with a question.
“For my son. You are to take care of him. He is blind and needs special care. His nurse couldn’t attend to him anymore, so you’ll be in place of her, understand?”
Chomee nodded.
“Very good.” Mrs. Ko smiled coldly.
“Are you Yoon Shikbae’s daughter?” Mr. Ko interrupted.
Chomee’s eyes widened at her father’s name.
Mrs. Ko threw a piercing glance at her husband. “I think it’s best that we get going. We don’t want Jiyong to be waiting.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Mr. Ko said hurriedly, his eyes glued on Chomee.
“Did you bring any luggage?” Mrs. Ko inquired, getting up from her throne.
“I didn’t know I was to live – ”
“It’s okay. We’ll drive you home and pick that up on our way,” Mrs. Ko cut off.
“Am I to live there?” Chomee questioned.
“I thought we made it clear,” Mrs. Ko replied briskly.
“Noooo,” Chomee drawled. “You only asked to see me and said we’ll go over the options and the requirements.”
“You have to live with Jiyong and attend his needs. It’ll be more convenient if you lived in the house and don’t worry about your salary. Is four hundred a month enough?”
Chomee’s eyes bulged at the offered amount. “Four hundred? As in Migook tonl? Or won?”
“Do you think I am that meager? I’ll give another two hundred if you can stay more than two years.”
Chomee nodded her head vigorously. She didn’t care about what her mother thought anymore. Four hundred dollars a month was more than enough to cover both her mother’s future medical bills and her school tuition!
“Very good. Now, we will go see Jiyong,” Mrs. Ko beckoned.
Chomee tailed behind the tall woman as she made her royal exit to the garage. Her quiet husband fell into step beside Chomee and he tugged at her arm. “Is your father Yoon Shikbae?” he whispered.
Chomee gazed up at the giant and nodded briefly.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Hurry! Puyin will be here any minute!”
A parade of feet stomped up the stairs and the servants busied themselves by making last minute preparations. Jiyong, who sat in his messy room, was thoroughly annoyed. So what if his mother came? It’s not like she was the President or anything. Since yesterday, the whole house was upside down. Windows and floors were scrubbed and washed over and over again. Dishes, laundry, the rooms were all cleaned. They practically sanitized the whole place and his room…nobody had dared to step in.
“Jiyong,” his personal servant’s voice rang out in harmony.
“Wut?” he replied with an edge in his voice.
“Would you like to see your mother?”
“Do I need to remind you? I’m blind.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Tell her I don’t wanna see her. I’m sleeping.”
“You’re gonna have to face her, you know. Might as well get it over with.”
“I’m not up to it. I’m tired.”
“Fine. I’ll be cooking your favorite and you can eat it after your mother leaves.”
“Agreed.”
The servant disappeared to the kitchen. Moments later the doorbell chimed. Mrs. Ko made her grand entrance with her husband accompanying her and Chomee still trailing behind with her head bent low.
Chomee surveyed the grand hall of the enormous house and gawk openly at the vastness of the place.
This is a maze.
Just two days ago she thought she was prepared to handle all the surprises and shocks awaiting her, but to think this was beyond imagination. This isn’t an ordinary house. It was a castle. It instantly reminded her of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Miyoung tattled on deep in the night and even in her sleep, she could still hear her friend’s chipper chatter.
“Don’t forget to call me when Jiyong picks on you. Or for anything else,” her close companion reminded her, as she was leaving.
“I will,” she promised, pinching Miyoung slightly on the cheeks.
“Jiyong tends to have a temper. So watch it. Out yell him if you have to. He likes to think of himself as ‘King’ of the Jungle.” Miyoung smiled through shimmering tears.
With that in mind, Chomee left. Now she was standing in the living room that sparkled around her, overlooking the driveway.
“This is Chomee. She’ll be looking after Jiyong,” Mrs. Ko introduced.
Chomee gazed at the row of servants that lined up before her and nodded tentatively.
Turning to Chomee, “If there is anything you need, just ask Jiyong’s personal servant, everybody calls her Ajuma. She’ll tell you everything.”
Chomee nodded again, her eyes fixed on the woman.
“Alright then. I’ll leave you here.” Turning to the servant, she added, “Send Jiyong my regards.”
All heads bowed simultaneously as Mrs. Ko glided out of the room.
“Are you really Master Jiyong’s new maid?” a girl piped as soon as Mrs. Ko was out of earshot.
Chomee whirled around at the voice. “No. I’m his nurse.”
“Same thing.”
“Wuteva you say,” Chomee muttered beneath her breath.
“Here. Bring this up to Jiyong. I have to go get sumthin real quick,” Ajuma announced, sauntering over to the crowd of maids with a tray in her hands. As quick as lightening, the group backed away, leaving Chomee to stand in the open by herself.
“I’ll bring it,” she offered, feeling awkward.
“No, It’s Sangah’s job to do so.”
“But I don’t wanna go!” a shrill voice cried out.
“I’ll go. Which room is it?” Chomee insisted, taking the tray from the old woman.
“If you don’t wanna go, at least show her where the room is,” Ajuma said as she pointed at a girl who Chomee assumed was Sangah.
Sangah nodded eagerly and motioned for Chomee to follow her. Chomee flopped after the girl in her summer sandals and looked back at her suitcase.
“It’ll be in your room,” Ajuma answered, reading her mind.
Chomee ascended the dark, gloomy stairs, which supposedly led to Jiyong’s room.
“He-He-He’s in there,” Sangah stammered, her face white as a sheet of paper. She quickly darted down the stairs and disappeared.
Chomee watched the little body bounce away before pushing the door open. The room was filthy and the strong stale stench nearly knocked her out. She slowly made her way into his room, taking small cautious steps. Balancing the tray with both hands, she managed to have found her way into his room without tripping over things that have been careless thrown all over the floor.
Making out in the dark, Jiyong’s still figure, she gradually settled the tray down on a table in front him and gently tapped on his shoulder. “Time to eat,” she murmured softly.
Jiyong turned to the new voice, somewhat curious and startled, and stared blanky in Chomee’s direction. “Get out,” he whispered just as softly.
When Chomee didn’t move, he overturned the tray and yelled for her to leave. Chomee shrieked as the scalding liquid nearly came in contact with her skin and backed into one corner of his room.
To her surprise, he rose from his chair. She found him amazingly tall like his parents and from the angle she was looking at him, he was remarkably handsome. Without warning, Jiyong stalked forward, nearly stepping on the tray. Chomee made a hasty grab for the wet bowl that was about to come in his way and scurried back to her place in the corner. He continued his way towards the door, his arms still by his side. She saw an alarm clock lay lifelessly in his path and again, made a grab for it, not realizing her mistake. Like a hawk, Jiyong’s head snapped around and his arm sliced through the air, seizing Chomee’s arm. He pulled her up from her hiding place and close to him.
“Who the hell are you?!” Jiyong demanded dangerously, his hand squeezing Chomee’s wrist.
Chapter 6 

“I-I-I’m Cho-Chomee,” Chomee stammered, fear climbing up her throat.
“Chomee? I dunno no Chomee! What are you doing here?! Who are you!? Did my mother send you out here? GET OUT! I don’t want to hear of you again! OUT!” Jiyong thundered, pushing Chomee to the door.
Chomee ran downstairs, sobbing. She ran as far as her legs could carry her. Her tears blurred her vision, but she didn’t care. Running into the beautiful garden, which was another part of the castle Jiyong lived in, she plotted herself on the ground and brawled her eyes out.
Now I know how Cinderella feels.
And she truly did. The soft curls of her black, ebony hair clung to her gentle jaw and provided a shade to her eyes. Her hair was always short and shaggy which made her felt worse than the fairy tale princess. Her mousy personality made things even worse. Back in grade school, kids always teased and taunted her. When she ascended to middle school, girls made fun of her and boys stayed away from her. All because she was too shy and petrified of people.
Now with her mother’s illness and her needy of money to go to school, she had no other choice but to serve other people. She knew that if her mother found out, she would die of a heart attack. But Chomee refused to be like her father, who acted like a fool and gambled his life away. Instead of winning fortunes from other people, he lost his money, jewelry, house. And even Chomee and his wife. He betted his wife and only child for a measle dollar and in the end, he lost. Realizing what he had done, he went around looking for jobs and asking people for loans.
Borrowing is easy, but what about returning?
He lost bet after bet and still asked for money. His so-called ‘friends’ were, of course, glad to help him. They gave him large amounts of money and knowing that he could never repay them back, they bargained with him for his priceless treasures, such as Chomee for one.
When her father refused to give Chomee’s future hand in marriage to anyone, chaos broke out. Demanding hands reached for his empty pockets and angry shouts of ‘money’ echoed. He couldn’t even produce a single won and there he knew he was going to be well rested.
Chomee, who was only eight at the time, remembered the frightening sight of her brutually beaten father. Blood coarsed down his chin and one eye was swollen shut. He staggered forward to her and she remembered screaming her lungs out. He fell face forward and landed at her feet. Evil laughter filled the room as he whispered something to her.
“Chomee…”
“Appa…” she sobbed, holding his dying body in her thin arms.
“Tell…Tell…o..omoni…Tell her…I’m…I’m…soh…sorreeeee….” he wheezed.
“Appa…” Chomee cried.
“Chomeeee….Sa..Sa…Sara…Sarang..hae…haeyo….” he breathed.
The body went limp beneath her arms. He stopped breathing and time stood still. Roars of laughter still circulated the room and Chomee glared hatefully at each and every individual in there with her. Among the hated ones was her father. She hated him for leaving her. She hated him for leaving her mother. She hated him for gambling. She hated him for everything.
She closed her eyes and whispered a ‘sarang hae, appa’ and freed herself from his heavy corpse. A pair of strong arms lifted her and she let out a surprised yelp.
“Now the old fart’s dead. His daughter’s rightfully mine!”
“What are you saying! She should be mine!”
“No! She is mine!”
“Mine!”
“No! Mine!”
Chomee struggled against the arms that held her high in the air. Her legs swung back and forth and finally she kicked the man hard in the back of his head, causing him to drop her.
A stampede toward the girl resulted in a wild combat. Men and women tore at each other’s clothes in attempt to grab Chomee but she darted out the warehouse before anyone could even catch the sight of her. She ran back home as she always did after a day’s play to eat her mother’s beautiful and delicious cooking. She ran into the house panting like a frightened fawn.
“Ma!” she shouted, entering the house.
“Chomee? What are you – ” her mother started, coming out to greet her.
“Ma! We have to leave! The people that Appa owe money to are coming after us!”
She watched her mother blanch at the news. She covered her mouth and looked tearfully at the child.
“Oma! We have to go! NOW! I saw them kill Appa and now they’re coming for us!” Chomee shouted, shaking her mother’s hand.
Without further thought, Chomee spun around and bolted the doors and windows. She closed the blinds and the curtains, preventing her pursuers from looking in. Her mother ran into the bedrooms and quickly reappeared with two suitcases.
“I knew this day would come! I just knew! Chomee! Quick! Out the cellar,” her mother instructed, heading to the kitchen.
Chomee obeyed her mother silently and held onto the small suitcase her mother carried in one hand.
Her mother dumped the food she prepared for dinner into three containers, leaving some to throw intruders off track. She stuffed the containers and two forks into a plastic bag and handed it to Chomee.
Slipping her thin arm through the handle of the bag, Chomee threw back the rug that covered the secret staircase to the cellar. Throwing the contained food down, she pulled the stairs out beneath her and slid down. Her mother followed and managed to cover the trapdoor as best as she could with the rug.
“Break the stairs, Chomee,” her mother whispered, tugging on the luggages.
“I can’t. I’m too small.”
Her mother stepped forward and yanked on the wooden steps. It gave way easily and crashed against the cement flooring. “Let’s go!”
Chomee nodded in agreement. She picked up the plastic bag and grasp onto her mother’s freezing hand. They tunneled through the cellar like moles and above them, they could hear angry outbursts and curses of Chomee’s stalkers and glasses breaking.
They’re in the house, Chomee thought, feeling a sudden chill.
Sensing her daughter’s fear, Jinjoo held the child closer. “Don’t worry. They won’t find us.”
Feeling safe and assured in her mother’s embrace, Chomee knew her mother wasn’t lying. They hopped into the silver Lexus her father had bought her mother a few years back for her birthday.
“This is probably the best gift your Appa has ever gotten me,” Jinjoo said with a laugh, starting the engine.
“Oma..I thought you sold the car,” Chomee implied in a strange voice.
“What are you, nuts?! Of course not! I hid it here ever since your Appa started gambling.”
“You knew this was going to happen?” Chomee asked increduously.
“You are too naïve,” her mother commented, smiling.
“Guess I don’t watch enough t.v.” Chomee shrugged.
“You’re right. You don’t,” her mother agreed, laughing.
“Where are we going now, Oma?” Chomee asked, changing the subject.
The brows scrunched at the question. “Only one place now. Where nobody knows us,” her mother replied quietly.
“Where’s that?”
“Pusan,” her mother murmured, driving into the sunset.

Chapter 7 

“Miss Chomee…”
Chomee dried her eyes and looked up at the soothing voice.
“Miss Chomee, don’t take it too hard. That’s the way how our Master is. He wasn’t like this before the accident. His mother…” the servant trailed off.
Chomee dried her tears and stood up. “Please, Ajuma. Tell me more. What of his mother?”
“His mother didn’t want him around and so she sent him away. It was terrible of her to do so. We all thought it was. She sent us out here to care for him and day by day he grew bitter. His sister’s away and…oh dear,” the servant’s voice shook.
“But why would he need someone to look after with all of you here serving him?” Chomee asked, disturbed with the thought.
“Many of us are leaving. Some can’t take it anymore. Many of them were too scared. I find it fortunate that nobody’s killed living here,” the servant stated matter-of-factly.
“Why?” Chomee frowned, strolling down the the aisle of the big garden.
“He’s always throwing things. And you know how he can’t see! He could have just easily hit anyone!”
Chomee giggled at the servant’s explanation. “Are you staying?”
“I have to. I have children back at home starving and cold. They need the money to go to school and I can’t leave! I’ve been with Master Jiyong ever since he was born! I practically raised him and his mother probably doesn’t even know him as well as I do!”
“You’re doing this because of money, too?” Chomee mumbled.
“What was that, Miss Chomee?”
“Oh! Nuthin!” Chomee smiled sheepishly.
“Plus, even if I planned on leaving, I would have to teach you how to do a lot of things.” Ajuma sighed.
“Like how to cook his favorite food?” Chomee winked.
“I think Jiyong may come to like you.” The old servant winked just as mischievously.

Chapter 8 

Susan stood in front of the mirror, taking in the beautiful image that reflected of her own. She clicked her tongue with satisfaction as she ran her eyes over the lower half of her body, eyeing her shoes in particular. She turned to the empty seat behind her, forgetting she came shopping alone.
Damn…I miss Jiyong already, she thought dreadfully.
Her smile overturned to a frown at the thought but was still content with her selection without Jiyong’s help. She paid for the shoes and strolled briskly out of the store.
She glanced idly at the window displays, grappling at the empty space next to her. She found herself groping for Jiyong’s invisble hand and looked down at her bag, embarrassed by the situation. She casually entered an apparel store and fiddled around with the garments that hung on the racks.
“By yourself?” a voice behind her snickered.
She whirled around to find Jiwon leaning against one of the racks with a look of disgust on his face.
“Wuddo you want?” she asked acidly, facing the other direction, avoiding his eyes.
“I find it surprising. Jiyong, not with you?” Jiwon faked a gasp, glaring at Susan.
“That’s a stupid question.” Susan semi-laughed, looking out the corner of her eyes.
“Really? I don’t even recall asking you a question,” Jiwon retorted.
Susan rolled her eyes. “Wuddo you want?”
“Kiss my ass.”
Susan was stunned by the response.
“You heard me. Bow down to Jiyong’s too while you’re at it.”
Susan reeled around to face him. “You are one little bastard,” she said through grinded teeth.
“Not a bigger bitch than you are. Admit it. You never liked Jiyong.”
“Wussit to you if I didn’t?”
“Nuthin. It’s a shame how Jiyong couldn’t see through that pretty face of yours and tell right away that you’re an ugly hag with an empty heart.”
“Well, I guess he chose not to.”
“Nah, I think he finally saw how ugly you really are and was blinded instantly.”
Susan’s mouth was filled with a sour taste at the insult. “Get away from me.”
“I don’t have a disease. I’m completely harmless. Can’t you see? Or are you just as blind as Jiyong? Or possibly worse?” Jiwon mused, tilting his head to one side.
“You know what? Go suck a cock,” Susan fired, pushing past him.
“I think that’s your job, slut,” Jiwon shot back, pulling Susan back.
“Let go of me!” Susan screeched, swatting Jiwon’s arm.
“You’re coming with me! I think Jiyong’ll be quite surprised to hear from you,” Jiwon sneered, wrestling with Susan’s thin arms.
“If…If you don’t let go…I’ll scream!” she threatened weakly.
“Think I care? I’ll just yell right back!”
Susan clammed her lips shut as Jiwon dragged her out of the store. Right when they stepped over the threshold, Susan squeezed her eyes shut and let out the most loudest and deafening scream ever heard by anyone.
She felt the tight grasp around her wrist loosen and a sudden rush of wind brush past her face. Her voice was suddenly caught and she couldn’t scream anymore. She opened her eyes and found a surrounding crowd of people around her and Jiwon yelling at her (he really wasn’t kidding).
“It’s just a damn cockaroach! Do you have to scream your life out?! If only you can scream like that when we’re in bed together! Dumb bitch!”
Susan clapped her hands over her flaming cheeks only to find them stinging like she had been slapped.            “C’MON!” Jiwon bellowed, reaching for her wrist again.
She trailed after him willingly and realized a moment later that he had smacked her. “You bastard!” she suddenly shouted, pushing him from behind.
“Da hell?!”
“You fucking slapped me!” she accused, throwing a shaking finger in his face.
“Boy, you’re awfully slow if you just knew that now,” Jiwon whistled.
“Er, you!” Susan snarled through gritted teeth, flailing her fists at him.
“If you don’t stop, I’ll beat you!”
Susan jumped back from him, taking his word. “Wuddo you want from me?”
“Go home. I’m getting tired,” Jiwon said cooly. He decided it wasn’t torture to Susan, but torture to Jiyong to hear from the materialistic bimbo.
“Tired? Is this your idea of some game?” Susan shrieked, stalking closer to him.
“I guess. Get outta my face!” he thundered, shoving Susan away.
“Ugh! Don’t touch me!” Susan frowned, brushing her shoulder where Jiwon had just touched her.
“You think I wanted to? You’re contaminated. Dunno wut Jiyong saw in you,” Jiwon sneered, wrinkling his nose.
“You’re just jealous.” Susan smiled wickedly.
“Of him and you?!” Jiwon scoffed. “I rather go out with Sunghoon’s mother than go out with you!”
“Ewww…she’s all old and wrinkled,” Susan squeaked with disgust.
Jiwon shrugged at the comment and began to walk away. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans and strolled in the direction they had just come in.
“Jiwon! I really like Jiyong! Honest! I’m not lying!” she shouted after him, hoping he would turn back.
But Jiwon continued forward, without looking back at her nor give her any sign that he had heard her last statement.

Chapter 9 

Chomee surveyed her small but comfortable room. She settled in with no problem and became fast friends with the servants. She stared longingly at the picture of her and her mother that stood on the corner of her table. Next to it was a family picture taken a lot of years back. She giggled at the snapshot which portrayed a toothless, goofy grin from her and her parents looking so heavenly in love with their darling child.
Appa….Oma…
A soft knocking at the door interrupted her thoughts.
“Yes?” Chomee murmured, pulling the door open.
“Do you wish to eat in your room or in the dining hall, miss?” Sangah whispered, poking her head through the door.
“Why are we whispering?”
“I dunno.” Sangah shrugged.
“I’ll eat in the hall,” Chomee answered with a smile.
Sangah returned the smile and motioned for Chomee to follow her. Chomee stepped out of her room and closed the door firmly behind her. Sangah led her to a wide hall where everybody was seated and ready to eat. Chomee looked over at the packed table and noticed Jiyong wasn’t there.
“Where’s Jiyong?”
“He doesn’t eat with us,” Sangah informed with her mouth full.
“Does he ever eat?” Chomee inquired, remembering his bony arms.
“Even if he does, we wouldn’t know.”
Chomee raked her hand through her bangs and sat down to join the festivity. The food looked ravishly inviting and made Chomee’s mouth water. She scuffed down the food like she hadn’t eaten in days and grinned impishly when she looked up from her bowl.
“Aiya, Chomee! You’re done already?” Ajuma gasped, peering into Chomee’s bowl.
“Hehe…” she winked.
“Be careful! You’ll choke at the rate you’re going!” Ajuma scolded, instantly reminding Chomee of her mother.
“What’s Jiyong gonna eat?” Chomee asked quietly, pushing her bowl away.
“Jiyong?” Ajuma drawled as if trying to remember who her master was.
“Yeah. Rice, too?”
“His food’s in the kitchen. I’ll bring it up.” Ajuma swallowed another mouthful of rice.
“No, Ajuma!” Chomee objected, jumping up from her seat.
All eyes turn to her with a questioning look.
“I mean, I’ll bring it up. Since I’m done eating and you’re tired with the day’s work…” Chomee desperately groped for words.
Ajuma let out a deep chuckle and patted Chomee’s hand, “Don’t worry. I know what you mean. It’s on the tray. Just go right in and you’ll see it.”
Chomee collected her bowl and chopsticks, backing out of her seat, headed for the kitchen. She gently placed the china in the sink along with the chopsticks and lifted Jiyong’s tray.
She ventured out of the kitchen, taking a shorter path to Jiyong’s room through the back stairs. She held her breath as she kicked his door open upon arrival and slid the tray onto his dresser.
“Jiyong sir,” she called out.
The blinds in the room were drawn and Chomee could make out a silhouette on the far end of the room. She tiptoed to the still torso, cautious of making any sounds, picking up thrown clothes as she went along. As she neared the silent figure in the chair, she realized he had fallen asleep waiting for his dinner. Letting him sleep on peacefully, Chomee deposit the clothes she had just gathered into a basket. She pushed the opposite chair that faced him against the wall, giving her room to move about. She threw fearful glances at the giant that snored softly in her presence, afraid his anger would erupt unexpectedly.
“Chomee?”
Chomee’s ears pricked at the familiar voice.
“Did you give him his dinner?”
Chomee let out a breath of relief and tiptoed back to the entrance of Jiyong’s room. “He fell asleep,” she whispered through the cracked door.
“No wonder you’re in there for so long. He wouldn’t even have me in there for more than three minutes. You’re a piece of art,” Ajuma complimented, looking smug.
“I’m gonna clean up his room while he’s asleep,” said Chomee.
“Good idea. We can never get to it…Even when he’s asleep, we still can’t get in without coming back out with some sort of an injury. Did you knock him out?”
“You’re funny, Ajuma.”
“Guess not.” The elderly woman shrugged, answering her own question.
“Does he need fresh sheets?”
“The boy needs everything freshened out! Even himself!”
Chomee looked at Ajuma incredulously. “You mean to say Jiyong’s been living up here without a shower or a bath?”
“That’s what I’ve been thinking,” Ajuma grunted.
“Help me change the sheets and everything, I’ll straighten the furniture and clothes away,” Chomee bargained.
“Good. Let me get Sangah first. Bring his food down,” Ajuma murmured as she disappeared. Moments later, she reappeared with a mountain stack of linens and sheets and curtains…everything.
Chomee quickly disposed Jiyong’s scented clothes into baskets, three already overflowing and hiding the rim. She sent Sangah running up and down the stairs, washing and drying the laundry, folding and sorting them. It was late in the night when all was accomplished and Chomee fell back against one of Jiyong’s chairs.            “Miss Chomee, you should go rest. It’s late. Almost two o’clock in the morning,” Sangah yawned, rubbing her eye.
“You go on ahead. You still have a whole day tomorrow,” Chomee managed to utter.
Sangah could only bob her head and exited the room. Chomee looked over at Jiyong, who was still snoring like a baby while the three of them sanitized his room.
He’s so pretty…If only…
She let the thought hang and shook her head clear of it. She gave him a final look of pity and retired to her own room. Leaving Ajuma to say ‘good night’ to the sleeping ‘beast.’

Chapter 10 

The loud clattering of the phone woke Chomee of her misty dream. She tossed and turned at the racket, hoping to get rid of it, only to realize it was morning.
She bolted upright on her bed and snatched the receiver off the hook, uttering a dreamy, “Yeboseyo?”
Jaeduk on the other end, was surprised to hear Chomee’s voice. “Yeeeaaaaboooohoooseyoho!” he yodeled.
Chomee winced at the howl. “Who’s this?”
“Jaedukimnida, you?”
“Jaeduk?” Chomee whispered hoarsely, trying to recall if she ever met a ‘Jaeduk.’
“Jiyongie chingoo,” he provided. Beside him, Sunghoon raised a brow at his friend’s strange encounter on the phone. “Who’s that?” he mouthed.
Jaeduk would only reply with a shrug.
“Jiyongie?” Chomee echoed softly, trying to shake herself awake.
“Yep, yep! Who are you?” Jaeduk chirped.
“Me? I…I’m Chomee.”
“Chomeehee?” Jaeduk squeaked in his Pusan accent.
“Uh-huh. Who are you?” she repeated absentmindedly, still sleepy from the night before.
“I told you, I’m Jaedukee.”
“Ugh…Call back to…mor…row…” she mumbled, falling back on her bed.
“Tomorrow!” Jaeduk shrieked, his voice causing Chomee to bolt up straight on her bed again. “I can’t wait till tomorrow! I’ll die! It’s an emergency! Call – huh!”
“Hello? Hello?” Chomee shouted into the receiver as she heard Jaeduk’s phone drop to the floor. “JAEDUK!” she screamed.
“Hello?” another voice spoke.
“Jaeduk?” Chomee squealed, worried Jaeduk had stopped breathing.
“Who’s this?” the same quiet voice asked.
“Is Jaeduk okay?” Chomee asked, ignoring the question.
“Jaeduk?” The voice sounded confused.
“Yeah, it sounded like he had a heart attack…”
A deep chuckle escaped the person’s mouth. “You must forgive Jaeduk. He’s always scaring people. That’s his habit, there’s nothing wrong with him.”
Chomee let out a breath of relief.
“I’m Sunghoon. What’s your name?”
“Chomee Yoon.”
“Pretty name. Is Jiyong home?”
Chomee remembered where she was now. She arrived at Jiyong’s house yesterday and spent the whole night cleaning his room. “Yeah, of course. Or at least I think so.”
“Chomee..Chomee Yoon…are you new? I haven’t heard of your name. Or maybe I just never knew…”
“Yeah, I just arrived last night.”
“Awwww…”
“Hold on,” said Chomee, tossing the receiver on her bed. She dashed out of her room in her sleepwear across to the living room and up the stairs. She tapped on Jiyong’s door lightly and waited for an answer.
“If it’s for me, I’m not accepting.”
Chomee looked up at the voice. For an awkward moment, Jiyong towered over her and she had forgotten at that same moment that he was blind. His smooth olive skin glowed with the radiant sun, his ebony colored hair was parted in the middle, bringing an exotic look to his eyes. His thin frame stood awkwardly beside her and she stared up into his eyes. “Jiyong sir,” she greeted.
“You’re in my way. I need to get in my room,” he said gruffly.
Chomee moved aside and reached for his hand, forgetting that Jiyong doesn’t depend on anyone.
“I don’t need assistance. Thank you.”
Chomee stepped away and followed him into his room.
“Yes?”
“It’s Sunghoon sir.”
“Tell him I’m not speaking to him.”
“But why?” Chomee couldn’t help herself.
“Would you just go? I want to be alone!”
Chomee obediently left his room and told Sunghoon exactly what Jiyong had asked her to do.
“What?! Why not?!!” Sunghoon screeched.
“I dunno. I asked him the same thing, but he waved me away,” Chomee mumbled.
In the background, Chomee could hear a few other people in the same room as Sunghoon. Somewhere in the house, another person picked up another extension. “What she say?” another voice demanded.
“That’s Jiwon,” Sunghoon introduced.
“Hi,” Chomee said timidly.
“Hi? Who’s this?” Jiwon asked Sunghoon, confused.
“Chomeeeheeee,” Jaeduk hollered in the background.
“Is Jaeduk from Pusan?”
“Yeah, heavy accent, huh?” Sunghoon chimed.
“Uh-huh,” Chomee agreed.
“Who’s Chomee?” Jiwon asked, switching back to the subject.
“New servant,” Sunghoon answered.
“Nurse,” Chomee corrected.
“Nurse,” Sunghoon repeated firmly.
“Oh…Where’s Jiyong?” Jiwon asked, repeating all of the questions Sunghoon had asked earlier.
“He’s in his room. He won’t speak with you.”
“Me? How dare him! Did you say Sunghoon or Jiwon?”
“Sunghoon.”
“Tell him to drag his ass right this second to the phone! Tell him Jiwon hyung told him to!”
Chomee shifted uncomfortably at Jiwon’s command. Jiyong had already dismissed Sunghoon, how could she get him to talk to Jiwon?
“Wuddo you want?” a deep voice came on.
Jiyong?
“Jiyong!” Jiwon exclaimed, voicing Chomee’s thoughts.
“You can go now, Chomee. I got it,” Jiyong said softly.
Chomee slowly returned the receiver to its place on the cradle. Jiyong..Jiyong…how can I get him to be normal again?”

Chapter 11 

“Ugh!” Susan shrilled, shattering the silence.
She threw herself onto her bed, with the encounter she had with Jiwon yesterday still stuck in her mind. She rolled her eyes at the ceiling, trying to clear her thoughts but with avail.
“Er! Jiwon!” she screamed, frustrated.
She had pushed Jiyong to the very end of her brain and Jiwon just had to come along and dig all back out. She jumped off her bed and sauntered to her full length mirror, making funny faces.
“Damn you, Jiwon. I hate you.”
Although she was saying that, but at the moment she know she can’t deny the fact that she used to have a crush on him. His exotic, dark, sexy eyes and cute mouth drawing a smirk. His thin frame, not too tall like Jiyong and not too short displayed an arrogant and haughtiness of him. His moves made him look even more gorgeous. Slick and clean cut. Definitely a player.
Before she started dating Jiyong, she met Jiwon through Suwon and Miyoung. At the time, Suwon and Miyoung made the cutest couple Susan had ever laid eyes on and still to this day, Susan still thinks they’re the most compatible match.
Jiwon, who was about seventeen or eighteen at the time was a straight up player. Red convertible, shades, hats, flowers, his lines, his flows, his smirk, his eyes….To think she would ever end up with him was a dream, until her parents decided to pair her up with Jiyong.
It was a complete ‘mission impossible.’ Jiyong was like an ‘oppa’ to her, being a few months older and so…so…unmanly-like like Jiwon. It took Suwon and Miyoung and Sunghoon’s and Jaeduk’s loud mouths to convince the two to give the relationship a try.
Jaejin, being the quiet guy he is, just wished Jiyong luck and never spoke to her. He continued about with his business with his dance group and his other friends, always ignoring her.
She finally give into all the nagging and found herself growing quite fond of Jiyong. But picturing herself with him wasn’t the way how she saw herself with Jiwon.
As time went on, she got closer to Jiwon, knowing him first hand. But what she learned of him wasn’t pleasing to the ear. He snapped at her too often and was always cold to her. She never fully understood the reason why nor know what the reason was. Whatever it was, it was bad and ugly. Soon the rest of Jiyong’s friends were being rude and mean to her. It wasn’t obviously shown, but they’ve hinted it. Even Miyoung, who she wasn’t even familiar with, showed a little difference.
While she reminisced the old times, the cell phone on her dresser table rang forever. Finally jolting back to the present, she strode over to her dresser and picked up her phone. “Yeboseyo?”
“Susan?”
“Miyoung?”
“Yeah, have you talked to Jiyong lately?”
Susan rolled her eyes at the question. “Of course I have,” she replied sarcastically.
“I’m serious, Susan.”
“No. I haven’t spoken to him since the accident.”
“Why not?”
“Why do you want to know everything?”
“Why can’t I know everything?”
“Miyoung, get a life.”
“Susan, get a personality.”
Susan pursed her lips, ready for the next attack.
“Has he called you?”
Susan ignored Miyoung and held the phone away from her ear.
“Fuck you, bitch.”
Susan brought the phone to her ear once again upon hearing silence. “Hello? Miyoung?”
Miyoung slammed the phone down and whirled around to face Jaejin. “Some nerve!”
“What happened?” Jaejin asked softly.
“She’s being her usual bitchy self,” Miyoung said scathingly.
“She’ll call him.”
“How would you know?”
“I just do.”
“How?”
Jaejin just shrugged. “I just do, don’t ask me.”
“I wonder how Chomee’s doing?”
“She’s good.”
“How – ”
“Jiyong didn’t beat her up…Yet.”
“Yet?!” Miyoung shrieked.
Jaejin nodded, looking up from his drawing. “I think Jiyong may come to like that girl. She’s quiet.”
“You haven’t even met her!”
“No, but Jaeduk was mocking her when I was over at Sunghoon’s house earlier.”
“That boy is so cruel.”
“He scared the living hell outta her. She actually thought he had a heart attack.”
“It’s not funny. Her mother’s ill.”
“Oh.”
“Just tell him to stop. He’ll have a heart attack soon enough if he keeps on doing that.”
“Uh-huh. Jaeduk tells me she’s cute.”
“He met her?”
“So did Sunghoon and the rest. They were taking turns telling me on my way here.”
“Suwon met her too?”
“Yeah. Trust me, he still likes you.”
Miyoung shook her head, disagreeing. “Nah-uh.”
“Yesuh. He won’t say it, but it’s the solid truth. He likes you.”
“Jiyong’s finally opening up?” Miyoung asked, ignoring his comment.
“Nah. They’re only going to meet Chomee. I can’t go.”
“Why not?”
“I dunno.”
“You’re strange.”
“I know. I dunno.”
Miyoung giggled.
“Well, my job here is done. How ya like it?”
Miyoung gasped.
“Is it really that bad?”
Miyoung gawked at the sketch Jaejin made and choked, trying to speak. “Cho-Cho- ”
“What?”
“Chomeeeee,” she hissed, grabbing her throat.
“Chomee?”
“Uh-huh.”
Jaejin stared hard at his drawing, perplexed. Chomee?
“How do you know she looks like that?”
“I dunno. I seriously don’t.”

Chapter 12 

“What’s taking Jaejin so long?” Jaeduk cried impatiently, jumping up and down.
“Jaejin?” Chomee murmured, looking up from her tray of lemonade.
“Yeah, he said he going to get something over at Miyoung’s house and it’s taking forever,” Jaeduk whined, stomping on his feet.
“Miyoung? You guys know Miyoung too?”
“Yeah, why you know her too?” Sunghoon asked, watching Chomee’s wide eyes.
“She’s my roommate!”
“Roommate?” Suwon said slowly.
“When was this?” Jiwon asked curiously, sipping his glass of lemonade.
“Uh…way back in – ”
“Jaejin sir’s here!” a servant announced.
“He’s here! He’s here!” Jaeduk cried, running to the door.
“Where is she? Where is she?!” Jaejin hollered, running into the room.
“Whoa! Calm down my boy! She’s cute, but hold your horses!” Jaeduk laughed.
Jaejin froze at the sight of Chomee, dropping the box he carried as she turn around to face him.
“Jaejin,” Sunghoon began, getting up from his seat.
“Yoo-Yoo-Yoon,” Jaejin stammered uncontrollably.
“Jaejin, are you alright?” Jiwon asked as he set down his glass and strode over to his friend.
“Hey, hyung, what’s going on?” Suwon whispered, jabbing Jaejin.
“Cho-Cho-Chomee?” Jaejin managed to mumble weakly.
Chomee looked around at Jiyong’s friend uneasily before nodding.
“Jaejin,” Sunghoon repeated, stepping in front of Chomee.
“Yoon…Yoon…You’re the girl,” Jaejin muttered unbelievably.
“Cute, huh?” Jaeduk smirked.
“JAEDUK!” Jiwon’s voice rang out angrily.
Jaejin made a move towards Chomee, but Sunghoon backed away. “What are you doing?”
Chomee buried her face into Sunghoon’s shoulder as frightened tears sprung to her eyes. Jiwon reached for Jaejin’s arm before anything else happens.
“You…”
Sunghoon stepped further away, nearly stepping on Chomee’s feet.
“You…”
Chomee’s lips trembled at Jaejin’s wild look.
“Hyung,” Suwon called out softly.
“You’re that girl in my picture. Yoon Shikbae’s daughter,” Jaejin finally let out.

Chapter 13 

“Yoon Shikbae?!” the five other voices cried out in unison.
“Yeah. She’s Yoon Shikbae’s daughter,” Jaejin confirmed.
Chomee stared wordlessly at the strange man.
“Aren’t you?”Jaejin asked, the wild look still on his face.
Chomee could only utter a cry similar to an animal and lifted her face from Sunghoon’s shoulder.
“Your father’s the one that got beaten by the public?” Jaeduk asked in awe.
Chomee nodded, her father’s bruised face flashing in front of her.
“Wow. You just disappeared,” Jiwon breathed, his face glowing.
“I had to,” Chomee replied thickly.
“What’s all this racket?”
All six of them whirled around at the voice. Jiyong, dressed in his baggy jeans and a t-shirt, towered over them on the landing of the stairs.
“Jiyong!” Jiwon and Sunghoon chorused.
Jiyong cocked his head to one side, recognizing his best friends’ voices. “Jiwon and Sunghoon?”
“Me, too!” Jaeduk squealed like a little boy.
“Who let you in?” Jiyong demanded.
“I did,” Chomee answered, anchoring her head.
“Who asked you to?” Jiyong asked angrily.
“I-I-I…They said they wanted to see you.”
“Without my permission, you are not to do ANYTHING! Hear me?!” Jiyong screamed with rage.
Chomee bit back her tears. “Yessir.”
“Jiyong, be fair. Chomee – ”
“I don’t care,” Jiyong cut off.
“HOW DARE YOU?!” Jiwon thundered, his voice shaking the floor.
Chomee shrunk behind Sunghoon again and Sunghoon reached for her hands.
“How dare you talk to your hyung like that?” Jiwon stated, his voice low and dangerous.
“Easy,” Jiyong responded mildly.
“Don’t think just because you are a TAD richer, you can be an ass when you want to be,” Jiwon fumed furiously.
“You’re in my house! You abide my rules! I don’t give a rat’s a – ”
“Would you all just SHUT UP!!!!” Suwon exploded.
Silence took over the room and everyone stood around looking grim.
“I’m sorry,” Chomee apologized, her hands tightening Sunghoon’s.
“It’s not your fault,” Jiwon croaked, wiping a tear off Chomee’s face.
“First you take over my servants, now you invade my home. What next?! My life!??”
“I’m sorry,” Chomee apologized again, pushing Sunghoon and Jiwon to the door.
“Cho – ” Sunghoon started to whisper.
“Just go. It’s only getting worse. Just go,” she choked, shoving Sunghoon away. She turned around to pull Jaeduk to the entrance of the room and had to slapped his hand off her in order to break away.
“Chomee…”
“I’m sorry, Jaejin. You have to leave.”
“It’s not that. Miyoung asked me to bring that over. She said you might need them,” Jaejin explained, acknowledging the box.
“Oh!” A weak smile. “Thank you. Tell Miyoung I said ‘hi.’”
“I will. Be careful.”
“I will,” Chomee vowed, walking them to the door.
“Chomee.”
Chomee closed the door after Jaejin and went back to the living room.
“Yes?” she replied, raising her head.
“Who are you?”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I am positively sure! She is Yoon Shikbae’s daughter!”
“But how?! I thought she’s dead!”
“I thought so too! But isn’t it obvious that she isn’t?! She looks just like him!”
“No. She looks more like Jinjoo.”
“But she has his cheekbones.”
“True, true.”
“But where’s her mother?”
“Dead, possibly?”
“No. If she’s dead then why would Chomee come all the way out here? There has to be a reason. Jinjoo can’t be dead.”
“So what if she isn’t? What’s it to us? They don’t have anything to do with us!”
“Oh, boy.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Who knows what that michinom Jinjoo’s thinking! She’s probably out for revenge!”
“Revenge?! For what?”
“Do you think she knows?”
“I think so.”
“Knows what?!”
“That’s why Chomee’s here?”
“I dunno.”
“What’s going on!!!?!”
The two men looked over at a baffled Mrs. Ko. She glared at them furiously, dragging from her cigarette occassionally.
“Yoon Shikbae? You have to remember him. He was that guy – ”
“Of course I do!” Mrs. Ko snapped at her husband.
“Chomee’s his daughter.”
“So? What does that have anything to do with us?”
“Jiyong. She’s probably out to kill Jiyong.”
“KILL JIYONG!!!!?? WHY?!”
“You remember how it was all over the newspapers that Yoon Shikbae was beaten to death?” Mr. Ko’s friend piped.
“Yes,” Mrs. Ko hissed, shaking uncontrollably.
“Because he – ”
“GET ON WITH IT!!!”
“Well…we lend him some money like the rest of the people,” Mr. Ko quickly finished.
Mrs. Ko remained silent at the new discovery and very slowly and quietly, she asked, “You know Yoon Shikbae?”
“Used to go to school together,” Mr. Ko answered.
“And you lent money out to him?” Mrs. Ko asked, her voice growing softer.
“Thinking he would repay me.”
“And at the end?” Mrs. Ko whispered.
“He couldn’t.”
“And so you decided to be idiotic and beat the stupid man,” Mrs. Ko murmured inaudibly.
“Say wut?” Mr. Ko’s companion asked.
“SO NOW YOU PUT MY SON’S LIFE ON THE LINE!!!!?” she scream with blinding fury.
“I thought we killed them,” Mr. Ko frowned, exchanging glances with his friend.
“No, we followed to see if they got killed. We didn’t kill them,” his friend corrected.
“I don’t care. You! You’re a hitman, aren’t you?” Mrs. Ko pointed at her husband’s friend.
“Sure. Your – ”
“Kill her.”
“Whaaa?!”
“Kill her. Tonight, before she kills my son.”
“But Miss! We’re not cer – ”
“What if you are?! What if you’re certain at the very end and my son’s dead?!”
“Alright. I’ll do it,” the friend said reluctantly, giving in.
“Do it at night. Smother her with a pillow, make it clean and keep the noise level down. Here’s the address,” Mrs. Ko commanded, scribing down her son’s address. “There’ll be a handsome reward when you’ve completed it.”
“Do, did and done,” the friend smiled, pocketing the address.

Chapter 14 

“Cho…meeeee….heeeee…..”
Jinjoo hoisted herself up on the bed, leaning on her weak elbows.
“Cho…meeeee….” she wheezed.
It’s been weeks since she last saw her daughter and she yearned for her now. It was drawing close to July and Chomee left home around mid-June. She decided to let Chomee leave home and go to school in Seoul, even if it meant not seeing her everyday of the school year.
“Cho…meeeee…..”
“Ajuma!”
She turned to find a girl about Chomee’s age standing in the doorway. It was her neighbor’s daughter, Myunghee.
“Ajuma! Are you alright?” she asked worriedly, rushing to the choking woman.
“Cho…meeee….I….want…I…want my-my-my Cho-Chomeeeeee.”
“Chomee dongseng’s at school. She’s not here,” Myunghee said hurriedly, patting the woman’s back.
“Cho….meeeee….”
“I’ll go get her! I’ll get her! Wait ajuma! Wait!” Myunghee cried desperately, running back home. “Oma! Oma! Call Chomee! Call Chomee! Ajuma can’t…can’t hold on anymore!”
Myunghee’s mother dashed past her, stumbling into her neighbor’s house. She approached the bed that supported the ill woman and held onto her hand tightly. “Jinjoo,” she whispered.
“Cho…meeee…”
“Chomee’s away at school.”
“Tell…tell her…to…to…co-co-come home…It-It’s ge-getting dar-dark ou-outside…Cho…meeeee….”
“I’ll tell her! I’ll tell her! I’ll tell Myunghee to go get her! I’ll tell Myunghee to get her! She’s coming home soon! Jinjoo!”
“Hur-Hurry….”
As if right on cue, Myunghee reappeared in the doorway with a glass of water.
“Myunghee!”
“Oma! What are we going to do?!” Myunghee fretted, handing her mother the glass.
“Call Chomee! Call her right now!”
“I dunno Chomee’s phone number!”
“It’s in the kitchen! You’ll see it. Chomee’s name written on a piece of paper with her phone number on it. Go now! NOW!!!”
Myunghee vanished again, nearly colliding with her older brother on her way home.
“Myunghee?”
“Oppa!” she cried, tears streaming down her face.
“What’s wrong?”
“It’s Jinjoo ajuma! She’s ill! She’s crying for Chomee! And Chomee’s away at school and I dunno what to do!”
“Hospital.”
“We don’t have – ”
“Saving her’s more important! Tell oma to wrap her up good in a blanket, I’ll drive around to pick her up. You in the meantime call Chomee and tell her to come back home,” he instructed, whirling around on his heel.

Myunghee, taking it all in at once, ran back into Jinjoo’s house, screaming, “Oma! Oppa’s home! Oppa’s home! Hurry!”
“Did you call Chomee yet?”
“No. Oppa said to wrap up ajuma, I’m going to call her right now. Hurry! He’s sending her to the hospital.”
“No…” Jinjoo murmured.
“Yes,” Myunghee’s mother said firmly. “You have to go. Can’t worry about money at a time like this. You’re going! I’m sure Chomee will find a way, you have to go right now!”
“No…”
Outside, the horned blared loudly.
“Oppa!”
“Get me a blanket!”
Myunghee fumbled for a blanket and tossed one onto the bed. “I’m going to call her now.”
“MYUNGHEEEEEE!!”
“They’re coming! They’re coming!” she shouted, running to her brother.
He pushed past her and gently lifted Chomee’s mother. With great ease, he stalked out of the tiny room and out into the sun.
“Cho…meeeeeeee…..”
“Hold on ajuma. She’s on her way back.”
“Tell her….Tell her….”
“Don’t talk ajuma. You’re tired. Try to rest now.”
“Cho….meeeee…..”
“She’ll be back soon. Watch.”
Back at home, Myunghee switched from hopping on one foot to the other. “PICK UP!!!”
The phone rang on endlessly. Finally someone picked up and it wasn’t Chomee’s voice Myunghee heard.
“Yeboseyo?”
“You’re not Chomee,” Myunghee accused.
“No, I’m not. Who’s this?”
“I’m Myunghee. Who are you?”
“Her roommate, Miyoung.”
“Where’s Chomee?”
“She’s away. Would you like to leave a message?”
“Do you know where I can reach her? It’s an emergency.”
“I’m not to tell. Do you want to leave a number? I’ll have her call you right away.”
Myunghee couldn’t stall anymore. She had to leave a message with this roommate, whether if she wanted to or not. “Tell her to come home immediately.”
“Home?”
“Her mother’s deathly ill.”
“Oh, no! Is she alright?”
“She’s on her way to the hospital.”
“I’m on my way over! I promise! It won’t take more than twelve hours! Please pray for her!” Miyoung screamed, slamming down the phone.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m Chomee Yoon,” Chomee sighed, climbing up the stairs.
“That, I know,” Jiyong pointed out dryly.
“I’m from Pusan,” she continued, ignoring the remark.
“No, you’re not. You don’t even have the accent.”
“Neither does Jaejin.”
“We’re talking about you, not him and you’re not from Pusan.”
“Then where am I from?” Chomee challenged, her hands icy cold.
“You’re from here. You’re a Seoul kid. I can tell; where exactly in Seoul, I dunno. But you’re from Seoul, not Pusan.”
Now Chomee was truly scared. How could he possibly have known she was from Seoul and not Pusan? Unless…
“You know I’m not from Pusan because of the newspapers,” Chomee guessed.
“Newspapers? You were in the newspapers? When?”
“It makes no difference. I’m from Pusan now,” she said with such sterness even it sounded harsh to her own ears.
“Your origin’s Seoul. Why were you in the newspapers?”
“Because the public wanted to compare the rich to the poor. They wanted to see how you live and how I lived,” Chomee fibbed, stopping in front of Jiyong.
“I was never in the newspapers,” Jiyong recalled, his forehead wrinkling at the thought.
“Yes, you were. You never knew and neither did I, but it was all over Korea. Ko Jiyong, son of Ko – ”
“No, it wasn’t!”
“You’re stupid if you think the public doesn’t know you! They all know you family falls in the category of the top ten millionaires of Korea. They all know you’re blind and a maniac – ”
“I’m not a maniac!”
“Well, you’ve proven yourself to be one. You don’t treat people like they’re human. You throw things at people for no reason. You yell at them for stupid reasons, you -”
“Enough!”
“Fine,” Chomee replied softly. “I’ll be in my room packing. Tell your mother to send the money to my mother in Pusan. I won’t be needing it.” With that, she spun around and hopped down the stairs, leaving Jiyong to stare blankly after her.
“Cho-Chomee,” he wailed.
Chomee halted at the cry of her name and raised her chin.
“You still haven’t told me where you’re from.”
“I’m not telling and I won’t tell and you’ll never find out.” Chomee picked up her feet and quickly went to her room to avoid more of his questions. She sat idly on her bed, not quite sure of what to do. She didn’t really mean what she said about going home. She couldn’t. It’d be throwing away a free lottery she had just won.
The phone by her bed screamed, startling her momentarily. She stared at it, uncertain of what to do. She slowly reached for it, her heart pounding. “Yeboseyo?”
“CHOMEEEE!?” Miyoung yelled.
Chomee winced at the loudness of the greeting, her ear unable to handle the loud screech. “Who’s this?”
A racket responded to Chomee’s question as Miyoung chased Suwon out to his car. “Hurry! Why you coming?! No! I asked Suwonie! What?! Why! You!”
“Hello?” Chomee mumbled again, the noise level on the opposite end rising.
“Chomee! Get dressed! We’re on our way to get you! Hurry!” Miyoung said hastily and ended the conversation. She pocketed her cell and jumped in the car with Jaejin and Suwon.
“Why is she at the wheel?” Jaejin asked Suwon.
“You think I know?!” Suwon replied, buckling the seatbeat.
“It’s your car!”
“So?” Suwon said with a shrug.
“Shut up!” Miyoung shrieked as she started the engine. “Another word from either of you, you’re dead!”
Suwon and Jaejin exchanged glances before settling back in their seats. Miyoung backed out of the parking space and drove menacingly to Jiyong’s house.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m pretty sure her room should be next to Jiyong’s. She’s his personal nurse! So, she’ll have to sleep close to him in case of an emergency. Right?”
“Uh-huh.”
“So, it’s one of the corner rooms. No doubt.”
“I still say we kidnap her and have her as bait to lure Jinjoo out.”
“No. Jinjoo’s too sick to leave her bed.”
“Huh?”
“I asked the girl. She said she’s from Pusan. Her mother’s back in Pusan, living under a neighbor’s care. She came here to earn money for school and for her mother.”
“Sounds pretty sincere. Serious, too.”
“Don’t be fooled.”
“So, I’m just gonna smother her?”
“It won’t take long. She’s fairly small.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung howled, pulling up the driveway with Suwon and Jaejin in the car. She had to bug Suwon for his car and as usual, Jaejin always had to butt in, causing her to drag the both of them with her. She hopped out of the car and jogged to the door, beating it up with impatience. “CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
“Miyoung!” Ajuma exclaimed, yanking the door open.
“OUTTA MY WAY! CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung belted out, running past the curious and bemused woman.
“She has issues,” Jaejin said playfully.
“Which is why I’m not with her anymore,” Suwon added.
“CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung drew to a stop at the sight of Jiyong in the dining hall, a bit surprised. “Blind boy decided to get a breath of fresh air?”
Before Jiyong could even establish the voice of his vistor, Chomee appeared from the kitchen with a bowl of soup.
“Miyoung!” Chomee gasped, surprised to see her classmate.
“C’mon! Let’s go!”
“Go where?”
“Go home! Chomee, your mother’s in the hospital!”
Chomee dropped the bowl at the news and jumped out the way as it shattered to a million pieces on the floor. “My mom?”
“Some girl named Myunghee called. She told me to tell you to come straight home. I’m guessing your mother’s in a really bad condition.”
“Ah!”
“C’mon! I have the car. I’ll drive you.”
“I-I-I don’t even know the way home! I-I-I took the bus and then a boat out here.”
“Jaejin does. If it’s a hospital in Pusan, then he has to know,” Miyoung said hastily, jerking Chomee’s hand.
“Oh, my God,” Chomee mumbled again and again, letting Miyoung guide her away.
“Chomee.”
Chomee looked back at Jiyong who had a lost expression on his face.
“What’s going on?” he asked, his face pouty.
“Something you rich wangja byung nowadays don’t understand. Come, Chomee. No need to waste your time with this insensitive bitch.”
With the help of Jaejin and Miyoung’s support, Chomee managed to stumble out the house with wobbly legs.
Chapter 15 

Susan lingered at the thought of calling Jiyong. It’s been months since she last heard his sexy voice, the thought just made her skin tingle.
She stared at the Gucci purse Jiyong had gotten her on her fifteenth birthday. Thinking in retrospect, maybe it wasn’t even his idea to get such a gift. She sucked on her teeth at the possibility. She pawed through her bag for her phone, another gift from Jiyong.
Damn, everything I have is from him, she thought sourly.
She dialed the first three digits of his number but stopped, not quite sure how she would ask for him.
Wait…maybe he’ll talk to me later. The later, the better.
She dropped the phone back in her purse and sighed heavily. She glanced at her Guess watch – another one of Jiyong’s expensive presents to her, and her eyes grew wide.
“It’s eleven already?” she wondered aloud. “My t.v.!” She flung the door to her room open and sped down the stairs to where her best friend stood against the wall. She clicked on the remote and sank in snugly on her couch, letting the show drink in her attention until late tomorrow morning.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Oma!” Chomee yelped, bursting into the room. She searched frantically for her mother who was the only patient in the room. “MAAAAAA!”
“Cho….meeee…..”
“Ma,” Chomee whispered tearfully, pain stabbing her heart.
“Ho-Ho-Home al-alre-ready?”
“I’m home. I’m home,” Chomee sobbed, running to her mother’s side. “I’m home, Oma. I’m home.”
“H-H-Hung-Hungry?”
Chomee cried harder, realizing her mother was thinking back in the days when Chomee was only in elementary school.
“Chomee?”
Chomee ignored Miyoung’s soft voice that crooned her. She kept close to her mother, aware of Suwon, Jaejin and Miyoung all filed into the room together.
“Cho-Chomeeeeee…..”
“Oma,” Chomee whimpered, fresh tears flooding her eyes.
“Is school hard?”
“No, I’m trying. I have Miyoung helping me.” Chomee have never felt so guilty in her life. She lied to her mother about going to school in the summer just so she could find a job instead of tending to her mother’s illness. She had been out of school for almost three weeks and she never notified her mother.
“Don’t study too hard. Oma knows you’re trying…but…don’t…don’t…..”
“Oma, don’t talk. Go to sleep. Go….”
“You…you must be hungry…and…and tired….” Jinjoo continued, not hearing her daughter. “Fin-Finish you home-homework to-tomor-morrow….”
“Ma!” Chomee screamed. “Ma! I don’t have homework! I don’t have school! I don’t have anything! Oma! Please…”
Miyoung reached for the girl who was close to being hysterical and held her tight. “It’s okay. Your mom will be fine.”
“No, no, no, no, no….no….no!” Chomee shook her head defiantly. “Don’t do this to me now. No….”
“Cho…meeeeeee…..”
“No…”
“Cho…meeeeeee…..”
“My mom still lives here in Pusan. I’m pretty sure she’ll let us stay the night,” Jaejin said uneasily.
“But I don’t want to leave,” Chomee objected thickly.
“They’ll make you eventually,” Miyoung said soothingly, stroking Chomee’s hair.
“I can’t…I can’t!”
“Cho…meeeee…..”
“How can I?! Look at her!” Chomee shrieked, jerking away from Miyoung.
“My mom’s house is not that far away,” Jaejin said convincingly.
“How about this. Chomee has to get back to Jiyong – ”
“But my mother’s more important!”
“Lemme finish,” Miyoung said calmly, holding up a hand. “I’ll stay with Jaejin and sleep over his house and I’ll be with your mother until you can get away from Jiyong’s madhouse. I would love to go and substitute for you, but I don’t think the servants are that dumb to not see the difference between me and you. Plus I think Jiyong would rather have you aiding him instead of me. I’m not that patient with rich snobs like him, so you’re stuck with that job.”
Chomee opened her mouth to protest but Miyoung continued her speech. “Suwon will bring you back. Jaejin knows Pusan better, of course, being his home and all. Don’t worry, I’ll be with you mom day and night. I’ll call you to let you know her daily progress. Now be gone!”
“But! But-But….”
“Be gone!” Miyoung faked a cough, turning Chomee away. “You, too.” She pointed at Suwon. “If anything happens to her on the way back, I’ll make you regret we ever went out, let alone meeting me.”
“Ouch, aren’t you being a little too harsh?” Suwon asked, faking a wince.
“I’ll drive you back to the docks,” Jaejin offered.
The three of them left Miyoung behind to look after Jinjoo. Jaejin drove the two to exactly where he said he was going to drop them off at.
“Be careful,” Jaejin warned, pecking Chomee’s cheek.
“I will,” she assured him.
“No. I mean extremely careful. Sumthin will happen tonight. Sumthin bad.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Susan sipped at her coconut drink, captivated like a zombie, her eyes nearly popped out of her sockets. Her back ache from long hours of slouching and her hands were numb from gripping too tightly on her cup.
“No! Behind you! No, you stupid! Turn around! He has a knife!” she screamed at the t.v.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee arrived to Jiyong’s castle shortly after the shaky boat ride. Suwon called Jiwon for a ride and they escorted her home. She rubbed the back of her stiff neck and sauntered sulkily to her room.
“Boy, it’s awfully quiet tonight,” she said aloud to herself. Everybody was snoring away in bed just as she had expected. She glanced at the grandfather clock that loomed ahead. Two-thirty.
She then remembered her daily rounds to check in on Jiyong before going to bed. She approached his room and gently pushed the door ajar, sticking her head in through the gap.
The bright moonlight reflected on his beautiful, angelic face – making him seem flawless. His lashes had a natural curl of a girl’s which made him look so heavenly in peace. His lips curved into a satisfied smile as if he was dreaming for the perfect Christmas day.
Chomee stepped into the room and planted a slight kiss on Jiyong’s cheek. He turned to sleep on his side, his smile stretching wider than before. She stalked silently away into the night, retiring to her own room.

Chapter 16 

The man brought the cigarette to his lips again, waiting for the house to be silent again. He just saw the girl enter the house and estimated it would take her about half an hour to settle. He squinted his eyes in the dark, digging his shoe into the soft ground as he waited for time to pass.
It would be an easy mission. The woman was right. The girl was fairly small – a little elf, if he may call her that. He hadn’t seen the girl himself since eight years ago and she’s still the same. Small and petite. It’s a pity Jinjoo had to go on living all alone. Since Shikbae’s death, she made sure Chomee had the best of everything. Sad how all that seems to be a waste now.
He checked his watch again. It was a little after two-forty. He approached the house, stalking like a panther, soundless like a ghost. He stood directly under Jiyong’s room, which was the side of the house. He slipped on the black leather gloves and leaned against the wall, still smoking his cigarette. As he finished the last of it, watching the trace of smoke disappearing, he decided it should be time.
He placed a firm hand on a piece of the wall jutting out, using it as an aid to start off his climb. He then carefully and professionally placed his foot on the ledge. Slowly, he scaled the wall like a spider, grunting along. Finally, once reaching the balcony, he rolled onto the platform and knocked the chairs noisily to the side. He cursed softly under his breath, hoping the people sound asleep didn’t hear the slight commotion. And definitely not the girl.
He reached out to pull the curtains aside, surprised to find the sliding windows wide open. He rolled into the room with ease and paused in the middle to listen for noises.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee felt her ears go stiff at the muffled crash. It sounded like it had just come from Jiyong’s room. She paused a bit longer, waiting for more sounds of motion. She let out a shaky breath and changed out of her outfit to her sleepwear.
She picked up the folded sheets and tossed them in the air, spreading it wide across her bed. No matter the weather, she always slept with blankets covering her. She glanced at the pictures on her desk and climbed into bed, snapping off the light.

*~*~*~*~*~*

He stared down at the sleeping figure and stilled, listening for movements in the rest of the house. He reached for the extra pillow that laid by the pale girl. Her face was turned facing the wall, again to his surprise, she was already asleep, purring softly with each intake of breath.
He reached for her chin, turning it so she faced him. As quick as lightening, he slammed the pillow onto her face, pushing it down. Just as he expected, a muffled scream escaped her throat as she thrashed around wildly. Her long arms found his and tried to yank it off the pillow. The screams continued on like she was at a singing contest. He pressed harder, in hopes of smothering her screams. He used his free hand and grabbed her thin, flailing arms, pinning them against the bedpost.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee laid flat on her back, staring off into space where the bright moonbeams reflected off the smooth, white wall.
“Sumthin bad…” Jaejin’s warning gnawed at her nerves deeply. She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to warm off the sudden chill that overtook her body. She threw the covers over her shoulders, wrapping it tightly around her arms.
“Be careful…”
She kicked off the covers and rose out of bed. She glanced at the digital clock by her bed that glowed two-fifty.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong clawed at the hands of the person that was suffocating and stopping his supply of oxygen.“Ch-Ch-Choooooooooooooommmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
The hands pressed down harder, hurting his nose.
He knew Chomee wouldn’t be able to hear him. She lived in the other end of the house. The distance between the two rooms were far too great. “Ch-Chooooomeeeeeeeeeee!” he tried again, hearing his own muffled voice. “Ahhhh…jooooooooooooooomaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a soft howl crying for her.
“I’m sleepwalking,” she said, trying to pinch herself awake. But it seemed so real. “I must be imagining it,” she told herself.
“Chooooooomeeeeeee!” the voice came again. It sounded so familiar.
“Jiyong?” She looked up at the staircase, realizing she was now in the living room. She chewed on her lip, waiting for another cry. “It’s me,” she said firmly to herself.
“CHOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Heh….meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
“Sumthin bad…” Jaejin’s voice echoed.
Chomee bolted up the stairs and advanced to Jiyong’s door, pressing her ear against it.
“Ahhhhjooooomaaaa…Cho-Chomeeeee,” Jiyong’s soft voice cried out weakly.
“Damn it! Die, you bitch!”
Chomee jumped back from the door, shocked someone else was in the room with Jiyong. She pressed her ear to the door again, hearing a struggle between the two.
“Meeeeeeeeeeee…”
Chomee turned the knob and threw the door open. She found a man dressed in all black with a ski mask covering his face. He was bending over Jiyong’s wild, thrashing body, smoldering his cries with something in his hand.
“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” came Jiyong’s muffled cry.
She then realized he was being smothered to death. “Jiyong!” she croaked, her voice caught. She approached his bed, trying to see the man.
The man whirled around, shocked to find the small girl standing before him.
“What are you doing to him!?” she demanded, storming closer to the hitman.
The man backhanded her, sending her reeling sideways to the floor under the impact. In a flash, she rolled onto her stomach and crawled over to him. He stepped forward and kicked her chin, muttering, “Damn you, Jinjoo,” before disappearing through the wide windows.
Chomee cupped her stinging chin as blood trickled down the corner of her mouth.
“Chomee?” Jiyong choked, flinging the pillow away.
“Yeah,” she spat, wiping away the blood.
“Is that really you? You’re back? Are you okay?” He felt around his bed for her, his eyes wide open with fear.
“Uh-huh,” she answered, crawling to him. She hauled herself up and plopped on the side of his bed, his arms entwining hers.
“Who was that?”
“Uh-uh no,” she mumbled, her lips numb.
“Did you see how he looked like?”
Chomee shook her head, wincing at the pain that shot through her. Jiyong traced a finger around her face, finding the small stream of blood that flowed at the corner of her mouth. He continued his way up her cheek and around to the other side of her face. “He hit you,” he concluded.
“If not dat bad,” Chomee lied, chewing her lip.
“But you’re bleeding!” Jiyong protested.
“If nuh fing big. Jessa cut.”
Jiyong cradled her in his arms, resting his head on hers. She sighed and leaned back in his embrace, perturbed by the attack.
“It’s June and he’s bundled up like he’s going skiing,” Chomee whispered to herself, feeling some sensation returning to her lips.
“Say what?”
“It’s too hot to be dressed like that…and…”
“Chomee?”
“Huh?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The man was after me. Not you.”
Uncomfortable silence hung between the two.
“How?”
“If he was after you, he wouldn’t have covered his face. How would he have known you live up here unless he dug up some history? Everybody in Korea knows you’re blind, so there’s no need for him to hide his face. And he shouldn’t have to worry about servants because they live in the other end of the house,” Chomee babbled to herself.
“Still…what if it was random?”
“No. He knows me. He said ‘Jinjoo’ before leaving.”
Jiyong pulled away, baffled.
“Jinjoo’s my mother’s name. He was after me. Probably my mother, too,” Chomee said quietly, the sudden thought striking her.
“Why though?”
“My mom! I have to go home!” Chomee shouted, breaking from Jiyong’s hold.
“Chomee, calm down!”
“It’s easy for you to say! Your mom’s rich, she can hire bodyguards! My mom can’t!”
“Chomee…Miyoung called not too long ago. She and Jaejin’s with your mom. Jaejin’s big and muscular. Trust me. She’s fine.”
“But…she’s sick.”
“She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
Chomee fell back on the bed, her shoulders and heart heavy with grief. Tears climbed to her eyes and spilled endlessly onto her lap. Jiyong brushed away a tear and pulled her to his chest again, feeling a wet spot grow. She placed her head on his shoulder, letting him stroke her hair.
“Oma,” she croaked, feeling Jiyong’s strong arms tighten around her. He kissed her forehead and pulled her down onto the bed, letting the tears soak his shirt.
Chapter 17 

As the sun blazed highly in the sky, Sangah slept. Her room was cool, shaded by the blinds and curtains. Her breathing was imperceptible.
Suddenly a ray of sunlight, slipping under an open shutter, found a crack in the curtains and splashed across the bed. At its touch, Sangah stirred, pulling the coverlet over her head. She could still see the red box filled with jewels and willed herself to dream again. But it was no use.
“Sangah!”
She groaned at the sound of her name and snuggled deeper into her bed.
“Wake up, silly girl! Your buns are already toasted by the sun and you’re still sleeping!?”
“Uhm…” she replied dreamily.
“Still uhmming? It’s nine already and you’re still in bed! You’re the most laziest pig I know!”
The blind snapped open, burning the back of Sangah’s head instantly.
“AHHHHH-JOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Sangah screamed, pulling the blanket tighter around her head.
“The spell is broken, Sleeping Beauty.” Ajuma laughed, exiting Sangah’s room.
Sangah sat on her bed with her cover still draped over her head. She reluctantly pulled on her working clothes and yanked off the thin cloth on her head, folding it neatly neatly onto her bed.
She cleaned herself and made sure was presentable. She sauntered to the bathroom and pulled out the water basin, filling it with lukewarm water. She dropped in Chomee’s face towel as she turned the facets off and threw Jiyong’s towel over her shoulder.
She balanced the mini tub in her two palms and trudged to Chomee’s room. She knocked on the door upon arrival and entered without hesitating.
“Good morning, Miss Chomee,” Sangah greeted, slipping the bucket-like instrument onto the dresser. She looked over to the unmade bed and glanced at the floor, noticing both Chomee’s shoes and her slippers were present in the room.
“Chomee?” Sangah heard her voice raise with alarm and fear. She retreated out the room and ran straight to the kitchen where Ajuma was putting finishing touches on the day’s breakfast.
“Sangah, why are you running like that? Are you well? You don’t look too good,” Ajuma commented with a frown.
“Cho-Chomeeee! She’s gone!” Sangah gulped, beads of sweat appearing on her forehead.
“Of course she is! You think the girl’s lazy like you?! She wakes up at seven you know!”
“No, Ajuma! Chomee’s gone! Kidnapped! Poof in thin air! Her shoes and slippers are in her room and her bed’s unmade!”
“Shoes and slippers?” Ajuma’s frown deepened at the information. “Are you sure?”
“I’m positive!” Sangah’s voice quivered.
“Hmm…” Ajuma stared at her feet, trying to remember what had happened the night before. “Aha!” she cried, snapping her fingers.
“What?!”
“Didn’t she say she was going home? She’s probably at home right now!”
“But her shoes are here!”
“Maybe she wore a different pair.”
Poor Sangah. She was eager to believe anything at the moment. She let out a breath of relief at the reminder.
“She’ll call back today,” Ajuma reckoned.
Sangah nodded in agreement and returned to work. She returned to Chomee’s room and dropped in Jiyong’s towel in the basin and wrung out Chomee’s, hanging it by the window to dry. She carried the tub to Jiyong’s room, worried if he would start throwing things at her again. She came to his door, surprised to find it ajar.
“Ah? That’s strange. The door’s open,” Sangah said to herself. She set the basin down on his desk and cautiously stepped over to his bed. She squinted her eyes as they began to adapt to the darkness. She tripped over a pillow that was probably flung at a servant who tried entering his room. She found the opening of the window and was amazed to find herself getting all the way across his room without waking him up. She found the string to the curtains and gave it a light tug, illuminating the room with the bright morning sun.
“Wakey, wakey,” Sangah sang harmonically, spinning around. She stared hard at the head of his bed, shaking her head as if trying to wake herself of a bad dream. She rubbed her eyes, hoping it would stop her from seeing doubles.
But she was seeing two heads! Unmistakably, Chomee’s and Jiyong’s! Her hand crept up to her throat and stopped at her mouth. Her eyes watered from unblinking, captivated by the sight in front of her.
Chomee snuggled closer to Jiyong and she threw an arm around his waist, purring softly like a kitten. Sangah watched a moment longer before belting out a mortified scream.

Chapter 18 

“Ah!”
Miyoung’s arm slipped off the table, waking her with a start. She opened her eyes just in time to see Jaejin tumbling to the floor, his chair falling right on top of him. “Jaejin!”
“I’m alright,” he assured, rolling onto his back, pushing the chair away.
Miyoung got up from her chair to check and giggled at the funny sight.
“Call Chomee,” Jaejin said abruptly, pulling himself up.
Miyoung stopped laughing. “What?”
“Call her. Sumthin happened,” Jaejin said hastily, picking up the chair.
“What time is it?”
“Just call her. It’s early enough.”

 

*~*~*~*~*~*
Chomee felt Jiyong squeeze her wrist, making her squeal with pain. She heard a cry that matched her own and blinked to the morning light. She placed a hand on the side of her face that was hard and dried of tears. Jiyong, beside her, stirred to the shrieking symphony. Ajuma pranced into the room, shaking Sangah like a rag doll.
“Ah-Ah-Ah…joooooooooooooooomaaaaaa! Look!” Sangah pointed a shaky finger at the two entwined bodies.
“Chomee! Jiyong!” Ajuma gasped, horrified.
“Uh?” Chomee mumbled, propping herself up on Jiyong’s bed.
“What are you two DOING!?” Ajuma thundered.
“Doing?” Chomee echoed, still sleepy. “Slee…sleeping…”
“Oma…I don’t wanna go to school today,” Jiyong muttered.
“I don’t either!” Chomee agreed, falling back on the bed.
“Ajuma!” Sangah whispered loudly.
“I think they just fell asleep together. That’s all. They still have their clothes on.”
“But!” Sangah protested, her face livid with pure terror and hatred.
“Just let them sleep a little longer. We’ll ask them what happened when they wake up.” Ajuma walked over to the end of the bed and pulled the cover over the two children.
“How come you treat Chomee better than the rest of us?” Sangah demanded crossly.
“Appa…” Chomee murmured. “Sarang haeyo.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jinjoo coughed as saliva started to build up in her mouth. The back of her head hammered as she choked on. She heard someone say ‘ajuma’ before she brought the coughing down to a control. She slowly pried her eyes open to find two strangers peering down at her. A handsome young man and a pretty little girl. Both about Chomee’s age or possibly older.
“Ajuma,” the girl called out softly, smiling.
“Where am I?” Jinjoo mouthed, too tired to speak.
“Hospital,” the boy answered.
“Chomeeeeeee,” Jinjoo rasped.
“Chomee’s away at school,” Miyong lied.
Jinjoo nodded, somewhat pleased with the response. She felt herself relax and shifted to a more comfortable position on the bed.
“I’ll call Chomee later. Ajuma, do you want to talk to her?”
Jinjoo nodded to everything, unaware of her surroundings. “Anything. Anything for Chomee…” She soon lasped into the state of unconsciousness, darkness swallowing her whole.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Did you kill her?”
The man hung his head low, avoiding the woman’s piercing gaze.
“You didn’t?!”
“I was in the wrong room,” he said slowly and cautiously.
“Wrong room?!” the voice rose to a shrill.
“I climbed into your son’s room by accident.”
“WHAT??!?!!”
“But I didn’t kill him,” he was quick to add.
Mrs. Ko felt the room tilt beneath her big chair. She felt as if she were perched, teetering, on the edge of a cliff, nothing but a black abyss before her. The temperature seemed to have dropped down ten notches, her heart pounding wildly against the rib cage. “Kill my son?”
“No. I slapped the girl hard enough though.”
Mrs. Ko raised a brow.
“She still managed to crawl to me on all fours after I smacked her.”
“Where did she come from?”
“I have no idea! I didn’t even hear her! She came in like a ghost!”
“But…is Jiyong alright?”
“He should be.”
“What do you mean ‘he should be’ ?!”
“He was still breathing when I left.”
“You don’t mean…” Then it struck her. She refused to believe it, but she was left with no choice. “You son of a bitch! You touched my son!?”
“It was a mistake!”
“A very big one! Why didn’t you look?!”
“I did! I thought it was the girl!”
“Get out…”
“But – ”
“GET OUT!!! I don’t ever wanna see you again!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Yeboseyo?”
“Is Chomee there?” Miyoung whispered hoarsely, her throat clogged up.
“She’s sleeping.”
“What about Jiyong?” Jaejin asked, snatching the phone out of Miyoung’s hand.
“He’s sleeping with her.”
“That’s odd. Chomee usually wakes up at seven. It’s eleven already and she’s still sleeping?” Miyoung murmured to herself.
“That’s good,” Jaejin said, relieved and smiling. Then he let Sangah’s reply sink in. “Wait! What did you just say?!!”
“He’s sleeping with her,” Sangah repeated.
“HE’S SLEEPING WITH HER???!!!!” Jaejin shrieked, mortified.
“WHAT?!” Miyoung was quick to follow.
“They didn’t…they’re just…sleeping,” Sangah said uncomfortably.
“Oh…” Jaejin let out, understanding. “But still! Him…never mind.”
“What happened?!” Miyoung demanded, grabbing Jaejin by the shoulders. “I wanna know too!”
“I’ll call back later. Bye,” Jaejin told Sangah, hanging up the phone.
“What happened?” Miyoung said again, spinning Jaejin around.
“They’re still sleeping,” he informed her.
“I know that, but together?”
“They’re sleeping. Nothing else.”
Miyoung just simply nodded.

Chapter 19 

Chomee stirred, breaking from the heavy sleepy trance she was locked in and blinked her eyes. Beside her, Jiyong slept on, not letting a single movement disturb him. She yawned as the radiant sun shift to its afternoon colors, blinding her momentarily. She shook her head, trying to climb over Jiyong’s still body without waking him. She rolled off the bed with a thud, forgetting she had spent the night in his room. “Ahhhh…”
Her mouth was dry like a clean popsicle stick. She stumbled her way out of his room, her arms outstretched as if she was sleepwalking. She felt around the familiar ways, sleep still hanging over her. A heavy, dreadful feeling she was unable to shake off. She heard a sound, like someone calling her. But it didn’t register.
She continued paddling all the way to the bathroom, the voice drifting to her ears closely.
“Chomee…Chomee? Are you alright?”
A dark figure appeared by her side and she shook her head, willing herself to see the person. She dipped her hand into the sink, turning on the faucet to the let the lukewarm water slip between her fingers. She splattered some water onto her face, feeling the iciness shock her.
“Chomee…” the voice babbled on.
Chomee reached for the knobs and stopped the water. She patted her face and stood at attention, seeing Sangah’s blurred face. “Hi,” she finally said.
“Are you alright?” Sangah asked again, her brows knotting together.
“Tired. What time is it?”
“A little past twleve.”
“Twelve?!” Chomee was shocked she had been snoring for that long.
“That was quite a beauty sleep, huh?”
“That was called a coma, not beauty sleep. What time did I sleep last night?” Chomee tried thinking back to last night, but her mind keeps drawing up a blank scene. Her mouth twitched in one corner and triggered pain, suddenly the events from the night before came flooding back.
“Jiyong!” she exclaimed, remembering the man that was choking Jiyong.
“What about him?”
“Where is he?!” Chomee pushed past the servant girl and rushed back into Jiyong’s room, forgetting she had just come from there.
“In his room,” Sangah replied, running after Chomee.
Chomee sighed in relief when she saw Jiyong sprawled on his bed, his limbs spread out. “What a pig,” she muttered at the sight.
“Funny. You were just sleeping with the pig,” Sangah reminded Chomee.
“Sleeping…wait. With the pig?” Chomee was baffled.
“Yeah, you really don’t remember, do you? Do you remember where you woke up?”
Chomee bit her lip at the question as she wandered out of Jiyong’s room. Indeed, she didn’t remember. She only remembered climbing over someone’s body and stumbled into the bathroom. “In my room?” she said weakly.
“What did you two do last night?! You don’t even remember?!” Sangah drew an incredulous look.
“I honestly don’t. Only remembered that he was being attacked by some man and the man disappeared through the window.” Chomee returned to the bathroom to brush her teeth.
“Attack? Man? What man?!” Sangah cried in alarm.
“Uh-uhno. Uh jussaw a mun uhn he jes diahar on me,” Chomee replied, stroking her teeth with the brush, the foam crowding around her lips.
“You mean…Master Jiyong was in danger last night?”
Chomee winced as hot pain shot through her mouth and numbed her chin. The brush fell out of her hand and clattered against the sink. She spat out the white foam, blood coloring it she rinsed it down the drain.            “Chomee!” Sangah gasped, her face paling.
“He…kick…kick eeee,” Chomee explained, spitting out more discharge. “Owwww…”
“He kicked you?! In the mouth?!!”
Chomee nodded, cupping her chin.
“Wait. I’m getting Ajuma.”
Chomee reached out and grabbed Sangah’s wrist as she started to sprint away. “Uh…” She shook her head. She didn’t want the old woman to worry and secure bars in the windows. Her mind was quickly filled with different reactions Ajuma would have if the incident was reported.
“But Chomee! You’re hurt!” Sangah protested, pointing at Chomee’s mouth as more blook trickled from the cut.
Chomee shook her head again, her hair flying out of control. The room started to tilt under her and she closed her eyes to still herself, trying to stop the madness.
“Okay, okay! I won’t tell her,” Sangah promised, resting her hand on Chomee’s arm.
The room whirled on for a minute or so and Chomee re-opened her eyes. She spat another mouthful of saliva mingled with blood into the sink and rinsed her toothbrush clean. “Uh be okay,” she managed to say, wiping the corners of her mouth.
“I’ll get you something to eat,” Sangah said softly and hurried away.
Chomee went into her room and changed into another pair of shorts and a t-shirt. She made her bed and combed the tangles out of her short, apple bobbed hair. She looked into the mirror, groaning at the sight of the bulging bruise and patted the residing pain. It was impossible to that thing from Ajuma. She could fool Jiyong, but not the nosy woman. She’s always finding things out. One way or another.
She left her room and reappeared in Jiyong’s room, picking up the pillow he had flung away when the man laid eyes on her. She gave Jiyong’s arm a hard slap, nearly sending him tumbling off his bed. He jumped, his arms flailing out to reach whatever had stung him. Chomee stumbled backwards and fell on the floor as Jiyong’s arms sailed over her head.
“Is that the way how you wake up every morning?” Chomee couldn’t resist asking.
“Chomee? I thought it was something else.”
“What or who else would have the guts to come in your room? After you’ve threatened to everybody that does.”
“Haha.”
“Time to wake up.”
“What time is it?”
Chomee looked around for a clock. “It’s after twelve.”
“Only?!”
“Like I said, you’re a pig.”
“A pig?”
“Oh, I told Sangah that when she was in here earlier. You should’ve seen yourself. You looked like a bum with your arms and legs spread out.” Chomee giggled, remembering the sight.
“I had a hard time falling back asleep. I was so scared,” Jiyong said sullenly.
“Tell me later. I’m eating breakfast…wait. Lunch.”
“Fine. But I’m not eating until you tell me where you’re really from.”
Chomee frowned at the reminder of yesterday’s conversation before she left for the hospital. “If…you promise not to throw your food at me like you did the first day we met.”

Chapter 20 

Susan blinked. The t.v. blared loudly in her ears. She sat up with a start, trying to clear her mind as she wondered how she ended up on the living room couch. She glanced at the clock that was hanging high over the t.v. and sighed. Twelve-thirty. She rose out of the leather seating and stretched out. She rubbed her eyes, cleaning out the debris that was stuck to the corners.
She entered the bathroom and washed her face, feeling refreshed as she took in a gulp of air. She quickly brushed her teeth and hair, feeling close to perfection with every stroke. She smiled at her reflection and studied the slight dimple on the right side of her face. Suddenly the self-confidence she had felt when she was dating Jiyong, returned. She felt energized and pumped. Staring at her shiny, radiant hair, she replaced the brush close to the bathroom sink and left.
She went to her room and picked up the purse, feeling for her phone. She plucked it out gingerly and quickly dialed Jiyong’s number. Five rings went by and she was losing patience. Finally someone picked up and the sudden clammy, nervous feeling slammed her stomach again.
“Yeboseyo?” a small voice said.
Susan frowned at the voice. It was a voice she never heard. It was of a new girl. “Yeboseyo?”
Chomee waited for more. She was getting ready to replace the receiver when the voice requested for Jiyong. “Who’s this?”
“His girlfriend, Susan,” Susan replied, growing suspicious of Chomee’s voice.
“Hold on, please,” Chomee said sweetly. She ran to the dining table and bit another mouthful of bagel before letting Jiyong know Susan was on the phone. She pounded up the stairs and poked her head into his room, surprised to see he wasn’t there.
“What?” his deep voice spoke, standing awkwardly next to her.
Chomee jumped. She jerked her head back and saw his damp hair in a messy heap, the soft scent wafting subtly to her nose. “You were showering?”
“Was I so much dirtier earlier that you noticed the difference?”
Chomee ignored the cocky response. “Susan’s on the phone.”
“Who!?” Jiyong hooted, surprised to hear his ex-girlfriend’s name.
“Susan. The great, bootiful one.”
“Yeah, she has a booty alright,” Jiyong said dryly.
“Hurry! I don’t think she’s too happy to hear my voice.”
“She’s always thinking the worst of things.”
Chomee bounced down the stairs and returned to her food. Chewing slowly, she listened attentively to Jiyong’s end of the conversation.
“Hello!” Jiyong barked into the phone.
“Jiyong?” Susan whispered, relieved to hear his voice and not the girl’s.
“What do you want?”
After all that time, he was still bitter and grouchy.
“Who was that?”
“A girl.”
“I know that. But who is she?”
“What’s it to you? What do you want?”
“I want to know who she is!” Susan was furious now. Jiyong knew she hated it when she demanded an answer and no one would give it to her.
“Why? What’s it to you?”
“Jiyong! I have a right to know! I’m your girlfriend!”
“Oh…are you?” The comeback was light and cool. Very casual. More like a meaningless comment. “I could have sworn when Mom kicked me out, you didn’t stop her from doing so. Instead! You agreed to it! You two probably planned it together to have me disappear from the face of Earth!”
“No, Jiyong! That’s not – ”
Jiyong continued on. “Anyways. We both know deep down inside how we feel about each other. Why don’t you just tell me what you want, ’cause I got things to do.”
“Who’s that girl?”
Chomee chewed on, aware the exchange between the couple was nasty. Jiyong’s replies. Exactly the way the same when she first met him.
“You really wanna know?! You really insist on knowing?!” Jiyong bellowed. “You asked for it, bitch!”
Susan felt her shoulders slump under the impact of the name. He had just called her a bitch! How unbelievable! “Who is she?” she asked again, quiet.
“Chomee…” he drawled, feeling his insides getting all tingly and warm. Happily picturing Susan squirm at any girl’s name other than hers.
Chomee’s ears pricked at the mentioning of her name. How did she get into this?
“Chomee,” he repeated smugly. “She is my girlfriend.”
Chomee dropped her bagel and started choking. The chewed up and swallowed muck found their way back up her throat and dropped on the table like pudding. Piles and piles lay in front of her as she fought to bring the coughing under control. She felt a hand patting her gently on the back. She whirled around to find Jiyong’s face scrunced up with worry. “What did you tell her?!” Chomee shrieked, still choking slightly.
“I expected her to drop dead choking, but instead you did. Are you okay?” he asked sincerely.
“No, I’m not okay! How did I get into your business with her?!”
“I wanted to piss her off so I told her you were my girlfriend.”
“What if she comes after me with an axe?!” Chomee fumed, cleaning up her mess.
“She won’t.”
“Now, how come you’re so confident?”
“I went out with her, remember?”
“So?”
“Trust me. She’ll be broken hearted, but not after Chomee Yoon.”

Chapter 21 

Susan clutched the phone to her chest. Jiyong’s words stunned her. Stunned her to the very core. In such a short time, how did he manage to find a new girlfriend?! And how could he do this to her?! Plus, he couldn’t see, how would he know how she looked like!? Questions filled her mind. Strange and demanding questions.
She dropped the phone back in her purse and sat back, leaning against the bed post. She wanted answers. That Chomee girl was a threat. A threat to her. A threat to her future.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Mrs. Ko paced around her room, heated with defeat. There was nothing she could do to help her son now. Absolutely nothing. She picked up the neatly folded newspaper and opened it. The phone rang to her dismay as the headache worked its way back up the dark ravine of her brain, pounding mercilessly against her skull.
“Yeboseyo?” she snapped, plucking the phone off the hook.
“Puyin?” a trembling voice murmured.
“Yes?”
“Puyin! You won’t believe what happened!”
“Yes?” The sick feeling of dread coiled in her stomach again.
“It’s the Young Master! He was attacked last night!” Ajuma reported.
Mrs. Ko let out a breath of relief at the information. She had already learned of it this morning. “Is he quite well?”
“Thanks to Chomee. She saved him.”
“Saved him?”
“Yes! I dunno how that girl knew he was in trouble! But she saved his life!” Ajuma said proudly.
“How?” This wasn’t what Mrs. Ko had in mind.
“A man was in the room, strangling the poor boy. She said she couldn’t sleep and so she came out for a walk in the gardens when she heard a slight scream. Like a muffled shriek, she said. Then she followed the voice and found Master Jiyong under a pillow, suffocating! And she wasn’t sure what had happened. The man just took one look at her and flew out the window. Said it looked like he had seen something worse than a ghost.”
Mrs. Ko nodded. Indeed, the girl was a saint. “Thank you. I hope Jiyong’s all well.”
“Oh! He is very. They’re laughing and giggling over something right now. Poor kids. They were so frightened last night, they spent the night together. They’re such darlings. You should see them together, Puyin.”
Mrs. Ko let the happy comment sink in. “What do you mean by that?”
“I think our Jiyong’s quite fond of her. He’s more happier, that’s for sure. He laughs and talks. While he was with the other girl…he name…I don’t quite remember – ”
“Susan.”
“Yes, her. When he was with her, he seemed mad and angry all the time. Rather annoyed.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear such progress. I will be up to visit him shortly.”
“Yes, Puyin. You have a nice day now.”
“Thank you. Same to you.” Mrs. Ko settled the receiver and was seething with hate. Now she has to find a way to separate the two. Now she knows Chomee’s not harm, but a thief stealing her son away from her and Susan.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“C’mon! When are we getting to it?!” Jiyong demanded.
“Getting to what?” Chomee asked innocently.
“Why did you come here?” Jiyong asked abruptly, starting off the interrogation.
“Here?” Chomee shook her head, puzzled.
“Here, to work. Did my mother tell you to come?”
“Oh!” Now she understood what he meant. “No. It’s…It’s something else.”
“What is it?”
Chomee hesitated.
“I’ll tell you what happened to me. Fair?” Jiyong suggested.
“Uh…”
“If it’s a long story, then I’d like to hear it before it hits eight. It’s three already.”
Chomee stared at Jiyong, utterly amazed.
“Don’t stare at me like that. I can feel your eyes, you know.”
Chomee looked down at her hands sheepishly, not sure of how to respond.
“Well?”
Chomee let out a shaky sigh before starting her story. “You only wanna know why I’m here, right?”
“No…who you are.”
“I was eight at the time when my father died…”

Chapter 22 

“Chomee lost her father when she was eight. We ran away to Pusan,” Jinjoo explained, her tired eyes on Miyoung and Jaejin.
Miyoung nodded. “She told me.”
“She has?” Jinjoo asked softly.
“It took her a while. She didn’t start opening up till at the end of the school year.”
“End? I thought…”
Miyoung bit her lip, realizing her mistake. Chomee lied to her mother about being away at school! “Uh…I meant, for me. She signed up for summer courses. It was the end of the school year for me.”
Jaejin raised a brow, making a face at Miyoung.
“Oh…” But Jinjoo was skeptical. “Is that where is she right now? At school?”
“Yes…” Miyoung whispered, her voice caught.
Turning to Jaejin, Jinjoo murmured, “You’re…”
“Jaejin. Miyoung’s friend.”
“Aren’t you two a pair?” Jinjoo smiled, admiring the two children. “Beautiful, too.”
“Uh…” Miyoung started, glancing at Jaejin. She was getting ready to say Jaejin was only a friend, not her boyfriend, but she sensed Jaejin’s warning.
“Is Chomee well?”
“She’s doing very good. As a matter of fact, she has a job now,” Jaejin answered.
Miyoung threw dagger-like glares at Jaejin. Jaejin only chuckled.
“Job?”
“Yes, she works as a tutor to the little kids at a nearby elementary school,” Jaejin lied easily, his eyes mocking Miyoung.
“Tutor?”
“She’s very well liked. The kids didn’t want her to go. She’s an excellent teacher. Very good with kids,” Jaejin went on.
“Excuse me,” Miyoung interrupted, smiling sweetly. “I’m going to make a call to Suwon. I’ll be right back.” Miyoung made an about face and exited Jinjoo’s hospital room.
“Suwon’s our friend,” Jaejin told Jinjoo.
“How charming.”
Jaejin smiled.
“I hope Chomee’s not taking things too hard.” Jinjoo sighed.
“She is a tad upset.”
“Why?” Jinjoo asked, worried.
“You fell ill and she hurried in, crying very hard.”
“Crying? She was here?” Jinjoo nearly shouted.
“Last night. She had to hurry back to the dorm because Miyoung made her. We promised her we’d be here with you so she wouldn’t have to worry.”
“Oh, my child.”
“She’s fine though. We talked to her earlier. Jiyong’s taking care of her.”
“Jiyong?”
Jaejin gasped quietly as he realized the name had slipped out. “Yeah…he’s our other friend.”
“Oh…”
“Well, I’m gonna go see what’s taking Miyoung.”
Jinjoo nodded as Jaejin left, the name still lingering on her lips. “Jiyong…”
Jaejin closed the door behind him, sighing in relief. He waited at the door for Miyoung to return, not wanting to be in the room with Chomee’s mother by himself. He felt uncomfortable lying and especially without anybody there supervising him, he’d eventually slip out with the truth.
Jinjoo’s eyes drifted to the ceiling, her heart skipping a beat. “Could it be..? Ko Jiyong?”

 

*~*~*~*~*~*
“Ajuma!” Sangah whispered loudly, tugging on the sleeve of Ajuma’s shirt.
“Whuuuhuuuut?!” Ajuma grumbled, hoisting up the hose in her hand.
“Chomee and Jiyong!” Sangah croaked, pointing at the two.
“Where?!” Ajuma shouted, dropping the watering hose.
“Shhhhh!”
“Ahhhhh! The flowers! They’re drowning!”
“Look!”
“I’m old. I can’t see that far!”
“Jiyong’s smiling!”
“Smiling? He never smiled when he was with the other girl.”
“He’s laughing now!”
“Chomee, Chomee…” Ajuma sighed. “Didn’t I tell you so?”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“My mother was a housewife, never applied for a job. My father loved to gamble and drink and I lost him to that; and he the same.
“He gambled and lost money and asked people to lend him money so he could repay other people he borrowed from. Instead of keeping his promise, he gambled more and lost more. He even gambled away out house and all our precious jewlery and cars…everything! Even my mom’s wedding ring and all the other family heirlooms from my grandmothers of both sides. We were finally homeless and one time during the year, it was extremely cold, I fell sick – deathly ill and we had no money to call for a doctor.”
“Then what happened?” Jiyong interrupted, his heart wrenching with sudden pain.
“Nuthin. My mom brought me to a church and prayed every day, every night. She nursed me back to health. My mom is wonderful. She knows everything. It’s a shame how she ended up marrying my father and not someone better.” Chomee waited, not wanting to continue on.
“Go on.”
“By then, we had hoped Appa had stopped gambling. But the debts he had to pay were far too great. So, then people didn’t want money anymore. They made him give away everything he has and at the end, it still wasn’t enough. My mother was still young back then and very beautiful. Men knew she was married and still wooed her. I was only a child, anybody would have taken me and say I’m their future daughter-in-law. As long as they got back what they’ve given my father, they didn’t care. They’re heartless bastards. I’d rather have Appa rot in jail, than having them torture him like that.
“One day, I saw my father being dragged away to a warehouse. By that time, Oma found a part-time job and supported the both of us. She wouldn’t let my dad see me, so she found a small apartment. Somewhere far away, I dunno where.
“I was out playing that day and I found a mob of people screaming and cheering. I followed them and slipped in without being noticed.”
“Sounds like James Bond to me,” Jiyong joked.
“I wish,” Chomee said dryly. “Then it was just so horrifying. Everybody taking turns beating up my father. The women stood aside and cheered and cursed at him. I was just petrified. Then I was spotted and pushed to the middle of the room with my almost-dead father. I remember screaming my lungs out at the sight of blood. Not that I’ve never seen it. But it was like pools and pools of it.” Chomee shivered at the memory, her voice caught, preventing her from continue her story.
Jiyong patted her hand and gently stroke it, comforting her to the best of his ability.
Chomee recollected her thoughts and decided to leave out the graphical events. It was too painful for her to relive them and telling it. “Soon…he died. My mother and I fled to Pusan, where nobody knew us. I continued school there and now my mother’s sick. There’s nothing I can do since I’m starting new and going to school up here. The doctors up here are much better than the ones down there. I need the money for school and my mother needs money for her illness.”
“How’d you find this place?”
“It was advertised. I was going through the newspaper one day and saw this ad saying a nurse was needed to care for an eighteen year old. So I called and I’m here.”
Jiyong nodded.
“Now for your end of the bargain. What happened to you?”
“Me?” Jiyong blinked. “Do you take rain checks?”
Chomee sighed. “It’s late. I’m tired.”
“I was only sixteen at the time and my parents thought I would look cute with Susan. She comes from another rich family and her parents were associates of my parents. They were such great friends, they’re inseparable. So, they decided to hook us up. Great plan, huh? So they can keep all the money inside the family. I never really liked Susan. Only she was just drop dead gorgeous, but she was a dumb bitch. Even Jiwon who was a player said he wouldn’t want to play her ass. She was too rich for his blood.”
Chomee sat up in her chair, fully alert. “Is she really that hateful?”
“She’s always mad for some reason.”
“Have you ever really, truly loved her?”
“Didn’t I just got through saying – ”
“Never mind my big mouth. Go on.”
“They expected us to have kids and all that blah blah blah.”
“Is she really that pretty?”
“She was beyond that. I dunno, I guess her beauty was far too great and it blinded me from staring at her too much.”
Chomee giggled, easing slightly into her chair.
“You have such a cute voice. I wonder how you look like,” Jiyong wondered softly with a smile.
Chomee froze. Not quite sure of how to answer.
“Chomee?”
“I-I-I’m not pretty,” she finally managed to utter.
“Nah! You’re kidding. You have such a cute voice.”
Chomee was actually glad Jiyong was blind at the moment. Her face was flushed deeply scarlet. “Really. I’m ugly.”
“Never had a namja chingoo?”
“Not even a guy friend.”
“Are you really that cute? I’ve heard the servants talk about you. And I heard Jaeduk’s loud mouth screaming you were mad cute to Jaejin.”
“Don’t listen to them. I think they’re referring to my personality. Anyways, I thought we were done analyzing me and were talking about you. ”
Jiyong sighed. “I’ll find out how you look like!”
Chomee stuck her tongue out at him.
“I saw that!”
Chomee sat back in her chair, for a moment, really believing Jiyong had saw what she did.
“Well, we were dating for a while and then she had to go somewhere on the night of my eighteenth birthday celebration. So it was only me and Sunghoon and the rest of them.”
“That’s all?”
“I didn’t want to make it a big deal.”
“I thought it was always a big deal.”
“It was five in the morning when I went to test drive my car. Sunghoon and them bought me a new Supra for my birthday.”
“Oh.”
“Well, I was driving along just fine and I think when I skidded and started again, it was too fast. There was this nasty noise that made my stomach churn. My car scraping the graveled ground. I was unconscious for how long, I dunno. But when I woke up, I was already blind.”
Chomee gasped.
“Soon after, Susan left me, so did my parents. They made me move out here to live on my own.”
“That’s horrible.”
“It’s not that bad. As least I got rid of Susan. Sunghoon and the rest still calls to see my weekly progress.”
“They care about you.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what my mother and Susan said too.” Jiyong frowned sourly.
Chomee sat still, her mind wandering off. Jiyong accompanied her, enjoying the light breeze.
“Do you think you still stand a chance?” Chomee inquired after a moment of peace.
Jiyong cocked his head to one side. “Do I think? I know I don’t have a chance.”
“Don’t be so negative. At least give it a try.”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Because…I don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to and can’t are two different things,” said Chomee.
“I know that.”
“I still say you should make a trip to the hospital or some specialist. I mean, it’s not a big problem.”
Jiyong shook his head, objecting to Chomee’s suggestions. “No.”
“But why?! You have the perfect opportunity!”
“Trust me. If I had the chance to see again, don’t you think I would be living at home right now?”
“But Jiyong!”
“I’ve gone to every possible doctor, every hospital, looking for a cure. If neither I nor my mom has found one last year or several months ago, what makes you think they’ll have a cure now?”
“Jiyong! That was then!” Chomee cried, raising her voice. “Now…you dunno how much better technology has gotten! Maybe your case is different! Maybe you have to wait a little longer before regaining your vision, but it’s not impossible! I mean, you didn’t have a pausible reason to be blind. It’s not like I stabbed your eyes out or anything.”
“Nah, Susan maybe. You’re too nice.”
“I’m serious here!”
“I am, too! Can’t you see this is pointless?!”
“If it’s money you’re worried about, then you shouldn’t! You’re loaded!”
“It’s not the money!”
“Then what is it?! Not time, I know. You don’t have anything to lose!”
“Can we drop the subject?”
“Only for the time being.”
“Boy, you’re more persistent than Susan.”
“Haha. Isn’t that the role of a girlfriend?” Chomee threw back.
Jiyong chuckled at the reminder. “Sure.”
“Now what?”
“I’m having problems.”
“Kid, you’ve been having them!” Chomee said playfully.
“I’m scared.”
“Why?”
“I’m serious. I don’t think I can ever sleep again.”
“Why?”
“After last night. I’m too scared to sleep.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m scared, too. But you shouldn’t be. I mean, you dunno how the guy look like, so you don’t have to worry about him haunting you.”
“That’s what makes it even scarier. I won’t know when he’ll come again and kill me. I won’t be able to see anything!”
“Sometimes, I think it’s an advantage…being blind. Although many people think of it as a flaw. I think a person could be just as beautiful and perfect when they’re blind. It’s just all wonders.”
“Yeah. I wish I could see again.”
“Go – ”
“No!”
“Fine. Just don’t tell me you wanna see again.”
“You!”
Chomee giggled.
“But you didn’t see the guy, so why are you worried?”
“Hmmm? I didn’t see his face, but I saw him and all these little images of him would float into my mind. Ya know? Scary…” Chomee shivered at the thought.
“Yeah, but you can’t beat me.”
Chomee blew a raspberry. “Well, I think it’s your loss. Not getting to see the wonders. I think it’s good too. Not as tiring or stressful. Everybody has things to worry about and you don’t. You’re handicappedm, people won’t be expecting you to perform as well and so they won’t ask you to do so much. It’s better…not having too many things to think about. Makes you old and wrinkly.
“You know what? Never thought of that. I like the way you think,” Jiyong said slowly, a lightbulb going off in his head.

Chapter 23 

The phone rang again, rocketing Mrs. Ko’s annoyance. She snatched the phone off the hook again and thundered a loud, “Hello?!”
“Ko Puyin?” came a short, choppy reply.
“I am,” she responded promptly.
“Hi, I am Jiyong’s medical doctor. Remember?”
“Yes.”
“Uhm…regarding the latest technology techniques. We do have a breakthrough. Although it may not promise your son full vision, but it does provide him a better chance for the future. And we would like to examine his eyes. Do you agree to this?”
Mrs. Ko hesitated. “What are his chances?”
“From the very last checkup, records show he has a seventy-thirty. But statistics could change over a period of time. So, as of now, we won’t be able to know.”
Mrs. Ko nodded, absorbing the detailed exchange. “When will be the best time?”
“Anytime. We are thinking the sooner, the better. It will give us more time to seek assistance to your son’s vision.”
“I’ll call you when my son and I reach an agreement,” Mrs. Ko said crisply.
“That’s fine. We’ll be waiting.”
Mrs. Ko replaced the receiver on the cradle and whooped with joy. She felt the heavy, dreadful feeling she have had endured for over a year lift off her chest and shoulders, making her grin spread even wider. She quickly called her son and notified him of such news and once again laughed giddily to herself once she was done.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What happened?”
“My mom,” Jiyong replied, sighing loudly.
“What did she say?” Chomee asked, her brows scrunching.
“She wanted me to got to the hospital. The doctors say I have a chance of regaining my vision.”
Chomee gaped openly at him. “That’s great!”
“Yeah, but what if they’re just saying that? Don’t you think it’s a waste?”
“No! At least something’s happening!”
“Yeah. Sumthin,” Jiyong snickered.
“Why..? Aren’t you happy?”
“I’m not gonna work myself up for nothing.”
“But what if…”
“Yeah, what if? That’s the question. What if?”
Chomee ignored the comment. “When are you seeing them?”
“In two weeks.”
“Are you going?”
“I guess. I did say I wanted to see again.”
“So…did your mother say anything else?”
“Funny. She sounded a lot more cheerful.”
Chapter 24 

News was out – Ko Jiyong was recovering.
“Ouch! This thing is stiff!” Jiyong complained, rubbing the bandage.
“You’ve been saying that ever since you went into therapy. It won’t be for long,” Chomee assured him, patting his head.
“Dammit, two weeks! I’ve been wrapped up for two weeks!”
“Just be glad it’s not two months.”
“That’s very charming,” Jiyong said sarcastically.
“Very,” Chomee agreed.
“Can’t wait till tomorrow. I’ll be free of this hard shit and I’ll be able to see again.”
Chomee smiled. “Oh, the humanity!”
“Don’t get soupy,” Jiyong warned.
Chomee laughed. She stopped short when the phone started ringing and hurried to answer it.
“Chomee?”
“Yes?” Chomee whispered, feeling queasy.
“This is Jiyong’s mother.”
Chomee was breathing normally again. “Puyin! How are you?”
“Good. Do you think it’s possible that I see you for a few minutes?”
“Today?”
“Perhaps later on? Around three?”
“Is something the matter?” Chomee asked.
“There is something I would like to discuss with you.”
Chomee bit down on her lip, feeling nervous.
“I’ll come around at three,” Mrs. Ko repeated.
“Sure,” Chomee agreed slowly.
“See you then,” Mrs. Ko replied.
“Bye,” Chomee murmured, hanging up the phone.
“Chomee!” Jiyong called.
“Coming!” she answered. She stared at the phone, her heart beating rapidly. She returned to Jiyong, wondering what Mrs. Ko wanted to speak to her about. She thought back to the day she started working, trying to figure out where she had gone wrong. Maybe Mrs. Ko thought she wasn’t good enough and wanted to get rid of her. Maybe because she made too many mistakes –
“Chomee?”
“Huh?!” Chomee yelped, startled.
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, concerned.
“Nu-Nuthin,” she stammered.
“Who was that?”
“Who?”
“On the phone.”
“Your mother.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing.”
“Why are you scared?”
“Scared? I’m not scared,” Chomee lied.
“Chomee, I may be blind, but I’m not deaf.”
“It’s nothing, really.”
Jiyong gave her a skeptical look.
“Well, I have to run an errand later.”
“Is that what my mother called for?”
“No.”
Jiyong frowned.
“Seriously, no. I have to find a few things for my mother,” Chomee said uneasily. She hated lying. Even if it was something small. She hated lying.
Jiyong shrugged. He trusted her. “Fine. Can you help me ask Ajuma when I can get this thing off? I wanna know when.”
Chomee sighed. “Tomorrow. Sit still and wait.”
“But I’ll die waiting!” Jiyong cried dramatically.
“That’s something I’d look forward to,” Chomee replied just as playfully.
Jiyong smiled, feeling happy for the first time in years. “I’m gonna finally see how you look like!”
“Don’t be too disappointed,” Chomee reminded him.
Jiyong nodded. “I won’t, I won’t.”
The hours quickly passed and soon enough Chomee was in the same car as Mrs. Ko, her breathing short and nervous.
The ride was quiet and Chomee kept her eyes stuck to the window pane. She watched the beautiful scenery fly by, not quite sure of where they were headed. She tried sitting back and felt herself tighten up with uneasiness and sat stiffly in her end of the car. She clapped her hands together and rested them in her lap, cold sweat washing over her. She couldn’t help feeling queasy. Being in the same car with the bossy woman was frightening and with matters waiting to be discussed…she was ready to hide in a bomb shelter.

Chapter 25 

“I’d thought you’d never ask!” Sunghoon declared, delighted.
“Don’t get cheesy on me,” Jiyong warned.
Sunghoon chortled. “I’ll have hyung come and get you. After that we’ll get you some color on that pale colored ass of yours.”
Jiyong laughed. It felt good. When was the last time he had a good laugh? Especially with Sunghoon? Too long. “Well, you better come now. It’s a long ride.”
Sunghoon agreed. “Man, tell your mom that if she wants to deport you from home at least choose some place closer. Jeez…”
Jiyong laughed again and bid his good-bye.
Soon…I’ll be normal again…

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee sipped the orange juice, anxious for Mrs. Ko to start the discussion. She nervously darted her eyes sideways, glancing at other elegant patrons of the café.
“How’s Jiyong?”
The question brought Chomee’s attention back to Mrs. Ko. “He’s alright! In fact, he can’t wait till tomorrow.”
Mrs. Ko accepted the reply. “I have to speak to you about that.”
What have I done now?
“Now that Jiyong’ll be able to see…your services will no longer be needed,” Mrs. Ko stated flatly, choosing her words cautiously.
Chomee sat still, not quite sure of how to react. Jiyong will see, no service. No service, no money. No money, Mother gone. Chomee gasped. A sudden rush of tears flooded her eyes.
Mrs. Ko wasn’t surprised with the reaction. Somewhat amazed though. So she does like Jiyong… Who was she kidding? What girl haven’t liked Jiyong before?!
Chomee shook her head slightly, not believing what her ears are taking in. She felt her lips quiver at the information. Her tears blurred her vision and soon she couldn’t see Mrs. Ko anymore.
Sensing a breakdown drawing near, Mrs. Ko quickly thought of something else. “Tomorrow. You can leave tomorrow. Today’s too soon and all of a sudden.”
Chomee blinked a few times, her eyes clearing a little. The tears slowly evaporated and she sat back in her chair, quietly sipping the orange juice.
“You have to understand, Jiyong will want his girlfriend there. She would like to be there.”
Chomee nodded numbly, her mind reeling. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She still have a few more months before school starts and she depended on the money she was earning for tuition and for her mother’s illness. This isn’t fair. Why is everybody doing this to her?
“Are there any questions?”
Yes, why are you doing this to me?
“Don’t worry about transportation and your pay. Since this is on such short notice, I’ll have everything arranged. I recall Ajuma telling me that your mother’s in the hospital. As soon as she recovers, I’ll have a house ready for you two to move in. You can forward the hospital bills and all those other matters to me. I’ll see to it that they are to be taken care of.”
Chomee nodded. “Am I to leave first thing in the morning?”
Mrs. Ko sat back in her chair, thinking. She stared at the coffee that stood before her, the steam disappearing into the air. She pursed her lips. “Yes.”
Chomee felt a shiver crawl up her spine at the reply. She nodded again and settled the half glass of juice onto the table. “Where exactly am I moving to?”
“That’s a good question. I suppose you’ll need to live someplace quiet? I think I know somebody down in Pusan that can help me scour something up. Your mother needs to live someplace nice and quiet and plenty of fresh air, right?”
Chomee agreed.
“Then it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Chomee kept her head low, not wanting to meet the woman’s eyes. She mumbled ‘thanks’ and struggled to keep her emotions down.
“Well, we should be getting back. Don’t want to keep Jiyong wondering where we went.”
Mrs. Ko paid for the bill and together they left the café. Along the way back, Mrs. Ko picked up a few items for Jiyong. Chomee also bought a few accessories for her mother and decided against buying too much. She was to leave tomorrow. It would be difficult to pack later on tonight.
“I’ll walk with you,” Mrs. Ko told Chomee when she was getting out of the car. “Remember, no word about this to Jiyong.”
Chomee nodded. She led the way to the house and quickly retired to her room. She heard Ajuma announce Jiyong wasn’t home and that his friends had taken him out. Mrs. Ko waited around a while longer and left.
Chomee started packing right away, not wanting to waste her time wallowing in self pity. By the time she was finished, everything had fallen into place. Jiyong came home, dinner was ready, she was done crying.
“Chomee!” Jiyong shouted. “Chomee! You have to come with me tomorrow!”
Chomee froze in her tracks. Come? But she was to leave once she wakes up! She quickly hurried out of her room and halted before Jiyong’s towering figure.
“Chomee?” Jiyong cried. He reached for Chomee’s hand and led her away. “Sunghoon and Jiwon has agreed to come. Everybody else. Miyoung and Suwon, too. I want you to be there.”
Chomee swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and forced herself to speak. “Ji – ”
“Can you believe it’s tomorrow!? I can finally see again!”
“Susan’s gonna be there,” Chomee let out.
Jiyong stilled, shocked with the outburst. “You’re just saying that, right?”
Chomee shook her head. “No. It’s the truth. Your mother told me.”
“What?” Jiyong growled.
Chomee gasped silently.
“When did she say this?” Jiyong demanded.
Chomee stayed silent, her eyes wide with fear.
“When?” Jiyong repeated, squeezing Chomee’s hand.
“Ow! Today!” Chomee yelped, her hand hurting.
“I’m sorry,” Jiyong apologized, letting go of Chomee’s hand.
“It’s okay,” Chomee mumbled, shaking off the pain.
“Well, it’s me that’s recovering. I don’t want Susan there. So she won’t be there,” Jiyong confirmed. “She’ll know she’s not welcomed.”
Chomee regarded Jiyong skeptically. “Well…”
“I’m sorry! You’re hungry, right?”
“Ji – ”
“C’mon!” Jiyong took Chomee to the dining hall and chattered away, not heeding to Chomee’s discomfort of the whole situation.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“She’ll leave first thing tomorrow,” Mrs. Ko said definitely. “By then, Susan’ll be with us at the hospital.”
“How can you be so sure?” her husband asked, getting ready for bed.
“I’ve never failed yet. Have I?”
“I guess not.”
“Good. I’ve called Susan already. We’ll bring her along and we’ll get Jiyong later. They should really catch up.”
“Whatever…”
“Some supportive male figure you are!”
“Whaaaaat?! I didn’t object! Isn’t that good enough?”
Mrs. Ko shrugged. “Hmm…”
“You seem more enthusiatic about this than Jiyong is.”
“I’m his mother! Shouldn’t I be?”
“Me and my golden mouth. Ignore what I’ve just said.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…and the song goes on. Go to sleep.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Go to sleep.”
“No! It’s too early!”
“Jiyong, it’s two already.”
“It’s early!”
“Jiyong…you’re forgetting that you’re going to the hospital at ten.”
“So?”
Chomee sighed. “Never mind. I’ll sleep, you talk.”
“Chomee!”
Chomee picked up a pillow off her bed and threw it at Jiyong. “What?”
“It’s early.”
“Yes, it is! I should be sleeping.”
“No! I’m having fun!”
“Doing what?”
“Annoying you.”
Chomee had to chuckle. “You’re doing a mighty fine job.”
“I wanna ask you something.”
“What?”
Jiyong hesitated. “How should I put this?”
“My pillow? You can return it.”
Chomee waited patiently as Jiyong collected his thoughts.
“What are you gonna do now that I’m gonna see?” Jiyong asked instead.
“Uh…I dunno. Back to school?”
“You’ll leave?” Jiyong couldn’t resist feeling suprised.
“Are you asking me not to?”
Jiyong blinked, silently wishing that he could see Chomee. Too bad the hours don’t pass fast enough. The bandage around his head was getting aggravating. “No…I’m asking…”
“Asking?”
“What do you think of my mom?” Jiyong smiled meekly.
“Your mom?” Chomee was confused. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Errr….never mind…”
Chomee was baffled. She reclaimed her pillow and waited for Jiyong to ask his question.
“Never mind,” Jiyong said again. “Good night.”
Chomee clutched the pillow close to her heart, not sure of what had happened. She watched as Jiyong marched out of her room, her emotions set in a frenzy. “Oh, God…what’s happening to me?”

Chapter 26 

Tomorrow…
Susan settled into bed with a smile on her face. She would see Jiyong and he could see her. But what about the other girl? Would she be there too? She’d have to wait till tomorrow…

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong sat in his room, not sure if he should approach Chomee again. He liked her and cared a lot about her. She kindled his heart the way Susan didn’t. She’s so many things Susan’s not. She’s not fake and disgusting like Susan. Chomee…if only he could see how she looked like…

*~*~*~*~*~*

“No…I do not like him…Susan…Susan…his girlfriend…” Chomee told herself, her eyes aimlessly roamed the bare ceiling.
It’s true. She don’t like him. But she likes him. She has her share of concerns for him and she thinks of him like a friend, but she wouldn’t dare to exaggerate the word ‘friend.’ She only considered him as a mere associate and nothing more. Oh, the shock if her mother finds out.
“Oma…I’m coming home tomorrow…” she murmured. “Home, where I belong…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jinjoo pried her eyes open to find the room pitch dark. “Chomeeeeee….” She then remembered Chomee was away at school. But Jiyong’s name created a disturbance. It sounded so familiar, she was sure she had met him or seen him somewhere before.
“Jiyong…” Jinjoo thought back to when Chomee’s friend had mentioned the name. Funny, Jinjoo just realized her daughter’s friend was a male! And now that young man had said Jiyong was another friend, Jinjoo felt her heart chill. “Oh, Chomee…you’re too young to have a boyfriend…”

Chapter 27 

The shrilling alarm startled Chomee and awoke her. She jumped out of bed, dazed and confused.
“Morning,” Sangah chirped, sticking her head in through the door.
“Uh?” Chomee turned to her clock, her eyes finally focusing. Seven. “I’m going back to bed.”
“Sure. I’ll wake you when Jiyong goes to the hospital.”
Chomee nodded off, Sangah’s voice rambled on. She fell back onto her bed and curled up into a ball, sleep drowing her out.
Purring softly, she whispered, “Oma…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong laid wide awake in bed, patiently waiting for the day to start. It was pitch dark and Jiyong wondered how things would look like when lights and color come flooding back. How did he look? He wanted to see Chomee and recognize her visually. He wanted to check his watch for the time. He wanted to do so many things!
“Soon….” he sighed. “Soon….”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Up! Up!” Mrs. Ko bellowed. “We have to go get Susan! I have to go send Chomee off! Up!!!”
Mr. Ko moaned. His wife never left him alone.
“GET UP!!!!!”
Mr. Ko tossed the blanket away and stormed off to the bathroom. He slammed the door shut and sat stiffly on the toilet, his wife’s ailing simmering. He prayed to have peace while he quietly dozed off, but his wife returned to pound on the door, rattling his bones.
Mr. Ko, startled, jumped out of his skin. It took a while for the banging to register and once it did, he immediately hopped off the toilet seat and started brushing his teeth.
“Are you dead in there?!” his wife screeched. “I’m going to pick Susan up! I’ll be back!”
“Why can’t you tell the girl to meet us there?!” Mr. Ko asked his reflection in the mirror. He shrugged and went on brushing his teeth as he listened to his wife’s movements in the bedroom. She had already changed and he heard her march out of their bedroom, yelling for a servant. He rinsed out his mouth and quickly shaved before he gave his face a bath.
The phone rang loudly and Mr. Ko took his time opening the bathroom door. A maid appeared and informed him his son was on the line. Mr. Ko waved the woman away and reached for the receiver.
“Appa?” Jiyong’s deep voice inquired.
“No, Jiyong. I’m one of your friends,” his father replied.
“Haha, that was so funny,” Jiyong retorted sarcastically.
“How are you feeling?”
“Nervous,” Jiyong answered truthfully. He never failed to tell the truth when he’s talking to his father. His mother…on the other hand…
“Well, I guess that’s normal. Your mother’s on her way to get Susan.”
Jiyong nearly bit his tongue.
“Jiyong?”
Jiyong finally found his voice and the letters started forming in his mind. “SUSAN?!!”
“Yes. Susan. Remember? Once upon a time, there was a girl by the name of Susan and she was your girlfriend.”
“B-B-But…WHY?!” Jiyong cried. He was sure it sounded more like a whine than a question, but he was confused. “I thought Chomee was only joking!”
“Chomee?”
“Never mind that. How…no, why is Susan coming?” Jiyong repeated.
“Why, I thought you wanted her to be there!” Mr. Ko exclaimed. It was a strange plan, indeed. After all these years and months, Susan haven’t even paid a visit and now all of a sudden she’s interested in Jiyong again.
“NO! I never wanted her to be ANYWHERE! Did Oma set this up?! I hope that stupid bitch drops dead!”
“Jiyong!” his father thundered.
“I meant Susan, Appa,” Jiyong explained.
“Oh…but still!”
“That’s unfair! Oma never asked me how I’d feel about this! Now, how are we all going to fit?! I wish Chomee wasn’t as nice so she can tell Susan to fuck off!”
“JIYONG!” his father bellowed again.
“Jiyong,” a small voice chorused.
“Chomee?” Jiyong said almost too eagerly.
Chomee nodded. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I had no idea where you were in the house. Ajuma wants you to get ready. I have to go soon.”
“Go? Go where, Chomee?”
“I have to go. Sorry again,” Chomee apologized and quickly hung up before Jiyong could ask any more questions.
“Cho — ”
“You better get ready. Your mother wouldn’t like to wait once she gets there.”
“Yes, Appa. Bye,” Jiyong said hastily.
“Take good care,” his father advised.
“Yes, Appa.”
They both hung up simultaneously and returned to their business. Jiyong hurried downstairs to question Chomee of her sudden announcement and his father went on to change out of his sleeping attire.
“Chomee!”
“Hurry, I’m late already,” Chomee instructed Sangah and helped push her suitcase out of her room.
“Late? Jiyong’s not due at the hospital till later on in the day,” Sangah said, confused.
“I know that, but I was supposed to leave early in the morning. I have to get home to my mother,” Chomee lied. Well, it is partly the truth.
“Chomee!” Jiyong cried again. He felt his way around the servant quarters and managed to find his way back to where he wanted to go.
“If he asks, just say I’m visiting my mother. She’s in critical condition,” Chomee told Sangah.
“Really?” Sangah gasped.
“She’s actually alright, but I’m worried,” Chomee said hastily, running back into her room for her pictures.
“Are you coming back?” Sangah whispered.
Chomee hugged her pictures and followed Sangah out, “I doubt it.”
“Why? I thought school don’t start till…don’t you still have a few more months?” Sangah questioned. “Or are you going home and care for your mother?”
“I want to spend more time with my mother. After I go off to school, I won’t be able to see her till vacation. And that takes a while.”
Sangah nodded sadly. “But…you and Master Jiyong…”
Chomee slowed her pace. “What?”
Sangah stopped and spun around. “You two…”
“What?” Chomee repeated. “What’s wrong?”
“Jiyong’s much nicer now. Because of you. And I think he’s beginning to like you,” Sangah said softly.
Chomee stood rooted to the floor, not sure of how to react.
“Chomee!” Jiyong exclaimed, coming towards them. He came closer, not aware of the suitcase that stood in his way.
“Master! Watch out!” Sangah shouted, reaching for the luggage.
Chomee rushed over to Jiyong to stop him and waited for him to calm down. “What is it?”
“What was that?” Jiyong demanded. “Why’d you stop me?”
“You were going to trip,” Chomee replied, signaling for Sangah to move the suitcase out.
“Over?”
“A box. Ajuma wanted us to take out the platters, she’s cooking up a feast in celebration,” Chomee said as the thought came to mind. Something’s wrong with her. She has learned how to lie in such a short period of time and she’s doing it very often now.
“Oh,” Jiyong responded with a smile. “Well, then. I guess that’s good. Where are you going though? You said you had to go.”
“I meant I had to go help out. You were on the phone and I didn’t want to disturb you,” Chomee lied again.
Jiyong nodded. “Well, my mother’s on her way over and I think Susan’s coming with us.”
Chomee’s hand slipped and the picture frames tumbled to the floor. “N-N-Now?!”
“What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just some things Ajuma wanted me to get for her,” Chomee answered uneasily as she watched Jiyong bend to pick up the items.
Jiyong slowly examined the things with his hands and turned them over to Chomee. “Picture frames?”
Chomee remained silent, not wanting to answer.
“Well, my mother’s gonna be here soon, better go get ready,” Jiyong said one final time and returned to his room.
Chomee quickly stole away to the driveway, where her ride awaited her. Just as she made it to the car, another one, a Mercedes Benz appeared, freezing the flow of her blood.
Mrs. Ko saw the petite girl staring at her approaching car and immediately her eyes narrowed to slits. “Shouldn’t she be gone by now?”
“Who, ajuma?” Susan asked innocently.
“That little wretch,” Jiyong’s mother replied. “Well, that’s one of the reasons why I came early. After I get rid of her, we’ll be on our way.”
Chomee stood by the car and waited for the Benz to come closer. Her legs are numb like jello. Although her mind is telling her to go, but her legs aren’t following command. The Benz rolled forward and soon it came to a halt. Chomee shielded her eyes as the beam of the bright sun bounced off the hood.
Mrs. Ko stepped out of the vehicle with such coolness, the heat was no longer bothering Chomee. “I thought you were gone already.”
“I got a late start,” Chomee said meekly. “I was just leaving.”
“Oh,” Mrs. Ko said amusingly. “Well, I’ll escort you,” she offered.
Susan had already gotten out of the car and observed Chomee from a distance.
Chomee kept her eyes on her sandals and waited as the driver unloaded her luggage from the car and into Mrs. Ko’s.
“Wait inside, sweetie,” Mrs. Ko told Susan.
Susan nodded and glued her eyes on Chomee for a while longer. Definitely not his type.
Chomee fidgeted under Susan’s gaze, not looking up. She waited as the driver removed her luggage and piled it into Mrs. Ko’s. Susan finally shifted her eyes away and headed up towards the stairs just as Jiyong found his way out.
“CHOMEE!” Jiyong shouted, shoving past a protesting Sangah. “CHOMEE!”
Chomee gasped as she spun around. “Jiyong!”
“Chomee? What are you doing out here?”
Chomee blinked, trying to think of a reply. “Uh…Uh…”
Jiyong paused. “Where’s my mom?”
Silence.
“I know she’s here. Her Mercedes is right in front of me.”
Chomee glanced at the exquisite car, amazed with Jiyong.
“I’m right next to the car, darling,” his mother finally spoke up.
“Oma?”
“Yes, we’ll be on our way shortly.”
“Chomee, too. She’s coming with us,” Jiyong informed his mother.
“What?” Mrs. Ko demanded with a nervous chuckle.
Chomee bit her lip as she tried to move towards the Benz. She could feel Susan’s eyes ablaze now. They were burning holes into the ground, causing the heat to spread. She could still hear Jiyong rambling on, catching the last phrase.
“I don’t want Susan there. Save yourself time and tell her to go to Hell.”
Susan gasped.
“C’mon, Chomee! We gotta make you pretty. Gotta give me a good first impression of you,” Jiyong finished coyly, reaching for Chomee.
Chomee threw her Bambi eyes on Mrs. Ko, a seething Mrs. Ko, and waited for permission. When she got nothing, Jiyong yanked her after him, running into the house, shivering uncontrollably.

Chapter 28 

“What’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“That.”
“That’s what?”
“Jaeduk…” Jiwon growled menancingly.
Jaeduk giggled childishly and fingered the curly ribbons one final time. “A present.”
“For…?”
“Jiyong, you silly poop.”
“Oh, damn, ya dickhead! We’re just gonna go see him, it’s not even his birthday!”
“I know. But I feel bad for him.”
“What did you get him?”
“A new car,” Jaeduk shouted with a bright smile.
“New car?” Jiwon repeated dumbly.
“Yeah. Remember how we got him one before and it’s completely f-ed up now?”
Jiwon had to chortle. Jaeduk may act like a dumb ass but he is one mighty fine gentleman. “Yeah.”
“So, I got him a brand new car. That way, no accidents, no injuries. Even if there is one, it’ll be minor,” Jaeduk finished with a squeak.
“Oh, is that so?” Jiwon managed to let out through subdue laughter. “I see. I thought you got him a real car for real.”
“I did!” Jaeduk cried. “And it’s in this very box!”
“Okay, okay. We’ll see when we get there.”
“But I didn’t get Chomee anything.” Jaeduk said with a frown.
“I’m sure she don’t mind,” Jiwon replied, slipping his celluar into the pocket of his khakis.
“You think so?” Jaeduk asked hopefully. He picked up Jiyong’s present and held it with both hands, following Jiwon.
“Of course. Just give her a big, wet kiss.”
Jaeduk halted in his tracks, looking uncertain.
Jiwon chuckled under his breath and pulled Jaeduk after him. “Let’s go!”
“You serious about kissing her?” Jaeduk finally squeaked moments later.
But Jiwon held onto that mischievous smile, leading Jaeduk towards his car.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“C’mon, c’mon!” Sunghoon shrilled. He chased after Jaejin with a towel in hand. “Hurry, hurry! Yiya, yiya, yiya, yiya!”
“Stop snapping me with that thing!” Jaejin yelled, spinning around to a halt.
“If I hadn’t climbed in through your window, come after you with this towel, you’d still be on that toilet! Reading this-this-this…this stupid comic!” Sunghoon sputtered.
“It’d be nice if you had rang the bell,” Jaejin answered dryly.
“Well, it would have been nice if you had come to the door,” Sunghoon argued. “If you weren’t so engrossed with this stupid comic, you would have heard the bell.”
“Oh…” Jaejin said sheepishly. “Well, if I may, then…”
“No!” Sunghoon shouted, hitting Jaejin with the towel again.
Jaejin shrugged and limped his way back upstairs.
“And for God’s sake! Wipe your ass!” Sunghoon hollered after him.
“Say what?!”
“Wipe your dirty asssssssss!” Sunghoon hissed.
“You just said no, you freak!” Jaejin screamed, changing into a different outfit.
“What?!” Sunghoon muttered, throwing down the towel. “I’ll be outside.”
Jaejin prepared himself for the trip to the hospital and hurried outside when the phone in his room rang. As he locked the door, Jiwon’s car pulled up before his house and Sunghoon was getting in the back. Jaejin hopped down the stairs and entered after Sunghoon.
“Did you wipe your ass?” Sunghoon asked, inching away from Jaejin.
Jaejin paused. “Uhhh…I forgot?”
Jiwon froze. “What?”
“Hyung! You didn’t wipe your butt?!” Jaeduk shrieked overly dramatic. “Then that means you didn’t wash your hands?!”
“Hey! It wasn’t my fault! Blame it on the manhwa!” Jaejin cried. “Besides, this pervert climbed in through my window, chasing me out of the bathroom before I could even pull my pants up!”
“Ewwwwwwwwww!” Jaeduk wailed.
“Could you shut up?” Jiwon shouted.
“Could you tell him to go clean his ass?” Sunghoon retorted.
“Don’t have time! He can do that when we get to the hospital. I’m pretty sure they got Baby Wipes there,” Jiwon sneered.
Jaejin and Sunghoon exchanged glances before sticking their tongues out at each other.
“Hey! Guess what?!” Jaeduk chirped.
“What?!” Jaejin and Sunghoon chorused.
“I got Jiyong a car!” Jaeduk replied with a goofy smile. The smile remained on his face throughout the entire ride. Sunghoon and Jaejin bickering like an old couple, Jiwon rushing through the crazy afternoon traffic as Jiyong and Chomee departs for their trip.
Chapter 29 

“You’re cold,” Jiyong said quietly, holding Chomee’s hand.
Chomee nodded. Although it was midsummer, the sun blazing bright over the city of Seoul, she felt cold and frozen.
“Would you like for the AC to be turned off?” Jiyong asked in the same quiet tone.
Chomee actually wanted the heat to be turned on. “It’s ok.”
“Are you sure?”
Chomee nodded again and turned to look out the window. She left her hand in Jiyong’s, unmoving. It didn’t occur to her that he was holding onto her. She watched as other cars drove past theirs. Jiyong’s mother’s car for one. She could feel herself grow colder, the situation now in a mess.
“What are you thinking about?” Jiyong questioned gently.
“My mother,” Chomee murmured, not taking her eyes off the traffic.
Jiyong sighed and kept his unseeing eyes straight ahead. It was hard to keep still. He wanted to know what Chomee was thinking about. How she looked like. Why she was so quiet. It’s hard to imagine a girl like her…single? Of course, Chomee isn’t shallow or materialistic like Susan. She’s…human.
“Jiyong…” Chomee whispered absentmindedly.
“Yes, Chomee?”
“Why can’t I be rich?”
Jiyong didn’t know how to answer. He kept a straight face and left the question hanging.
Chomee leaned back in the seating and closed her eyes. Her mother. Jiyong. Miyoung. Money. School. Tuition. So many things to worry about. She leaned towards Jiyong and rested her head on his shoulder. “Love is so blinding…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Is that her luggage back there?” Mr. Ko asked, glancing behind him.
His wife grunted as a reply and took another drag from her cigarette.
“I thought she was gone. Or at least you said she was.”
“But our precious son doesn’t want her gone. She’s in the other car with him.”
Susan sat beside herself, thinking in her own world. Jiyong chose the poor bitch over her. How was that…possible?! The little girl don’t match him. He was tall and she was…tiny. And they’re in the same car…TOGETHER! This infuriated her. Jiyong was hers. Chomee had no right to interfere.
“There’s no way we can get rid of her now,” Mrs. Ko said, surrendering.
“Why not?”
“Jiyong’ll know how she looks like.”
Susan felt her ears prick as a thought came across her mind. “Unless…”
The couple fell silent, waiting for Susan to continue.
“Jiyong has to undergo a few hours of surgery, right?”
“Two hours, yes,” Mrs. Ko replied.
“During the two hours, he has to be unconscious, right?”
Mrs. Ko gasped as it dawned on her. “We have her luggage.”
“She can still leave while Jiyong’s in surgery,” Mr. Ko finished.
Mrs. Ko smiled. “What would do without you, Susan?”
Susan returned the smile. “You would do just fine.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Okay, great!” Jiwon bellowed, kicking his tire.
“See! I knew we should have came in two cars!” Sunghoon exclaimed, waving madly at Jiwon’s car.
“Does that mean we’re not gonna see Jiyong?” Jaeduk asked, his expressions of a little boy.
“NO!” Jiwon screamed. “We’re gonna see the damn bastard, alright?! Now stop whining!”
Jaeduk gave Jiwon his pouty lip and sat on the curb, toying with the ribbons wrapped around the gift box.
“Damn! I just had this car in the shop the other day!” Jiwon continued in his angry voice. “Fuck this Beemer! I should have stuck with a Jaguar!”
Jaejin giggled as Jiwon went on rambling. He sat down next to Jaeduk, comforting the disappointed grown up baby. “We’ll get there.”
Sunghoon pulled out his phone and started pressing all sorts of buttons, bored with Jiwon’s ailing. Jaejin, stared off into space, watching Sunghoon’s thumb move smoothly over the keys. Then it hit him.
“JANG SUWON!”
Jaeduk dropped the box and covered his ears, Jaejin’s sudden outburst blew his eardrums out.
Jiwon paused in the middle of his ranting and stared quizzically at Jaejin as Sunghoon looked up from his phone, his brows raised.
“Suwon! He’s not with us!”
Jaejin’s friends exchanged glances, not quite catching up.
“Yeah? So?” Sunghoon said, leaning against Jiwon’s car.
“Call his ass! He gotta car! He DRIVES!!!” Jaejin finally screamed.
“Oh, yeah,” Jiwon cried, realizing what Jaejin said was true.
Sunghoon punched in Suwon’s number and waited for someone to pick up the phone.
“Tell him not to bring Miyoung!” Jaejin reminded Sunghoon. “Her big ass takes up the whole backseat!”
“Yeboseyo?” a husky voice mumbled.
“Suwon!” Sunghoon hooted. “Where are you?!”
“Well, what number did you dial?” Suwon asked.
“Oh, you’re at home. We need you to come down and get us. Jiwon’s car broke down.”
Suwon sighed. “Didn’t he just had that thing fixed?”
“Apparently not,” Sunghoon snorted. “You busy?”
“No. Was getting ready to pick up Miyoung,” Suwon replied, pulling on his socks.
“Speaking of her. What’s with you two?”
“What?”
“What’s going on with you two? Getting back together?” Sunghoon teased.
“Fuck no,” Suwon growled.
Sunghoon, taken aback by the response, didn’t reply. Changing the subject, he asked, “So, you’re gonna come now?”
“After I get Miyoung,” Suwon answered, picking up his keys.
“Suwon, how are we all gonna fit?”
“Hmm? You can go in the trunk. You’re small enough.”
“No!”
“I’m coming in my dad’s van. Don’t worry.”
“Van? The UHaul thingy?!!” Sunghoon shrieked.
“No, hyung. There are seats inside the van. I’m leaving now.”
“Fine. We’re by the exit.”
“What?!” Suwon shouted.
“Great place to break down, huh? Hurry! We’re the second to the last one by the hospital!!”
Suwon groaned. “You bums! You could walk there from where you’re at!”
“Hey! Jiwon’s driving a BEEMER! We can’t leave that here,” Sunghoon reminded Suwon.
“Okay, okay. I’m coming. Laters,” Suwon mumbled.
Sunghoon pushed a button and turned to his awaiting friends. “Suwon’s coming.”
“With…”
“Miyoung in his dad’s van,” Sunghoon finished.
“How did I know?” Jaeduk piped.
“Now we gotta sit out and wait,” Jiwon said to no one in particular.
Jaeduk frowned. “I’m gonna die.”
“Why?” Jaejin asked.
“I can’t stand the sun and I’m bored.”
“Oh, then…try standing on your head,” Jaejin suggested.
Jaeduk’s eyes lit up. “That’s exactly what I’m gonna do!” With that, he handed the box over to Jaejin and immediately started on the task.
Sunghoon grunted at the silly boy and continued playing with his phone. “Make sure he don’t bust his head open. We already have Jiyong in the hospial. Can’t have a Jaeduk in the hospital. Let alone a normal hospital.”
“Shut up! I don’t see you doing anything as entertaining!” Jaeduk retorted, standing on his hands.
“Huh!” Sunghoon stuffed his phone in the pocket of his white jeans and puffed his cheeks out. “Like what?!”
“Walk from car to car in your boxers, asking for phone numbers!”
Jiwon’s mouth fell open. “You don’t seriously consider that entertaining!”
Sunghoon’s evil grin. “Watch me.” He jumped into Jiwon’s car, unbuckling his belt.
“Goodness, you dyke! Not in my car!” Jiwon screeched. “Get the FU…WHOA!” He spun right around, not wanting to drag Sunghoon out anymore.
Sunghoon leapt out of Jiwon’s car, shirtless with boxers. His socks pulled all the way up to his knees. His scruffy sneakers untied, his jewelry all inside Jiwon’s car. “Wuh wuh?!” He screamed at Jaeduk.
Jaeduk fell over, the sight painfully hilarious. “You boner!” he yelled. But it was also a horrible sight. Sunghoon was nothing but bone. He looked like he was just released from a concentration camp.
“Oh, my virgin eyes,” Jaejin muttered.
“This should be interesting to watch,” Jiwon mumbled, still facing the other direction.
“Paper and pen, please?” Sunghoon squealed. He snatched a notepad in Jiwon’s car and rummaged around for a pen. “Aha!”
“I want you to skip from car to car, knock on windows and get numbers. Let’s see how many you can get without your pretty clothes,” Jaeduk dared, an evil grin plastered on his face.
Chapter 30 

Miyoung pulled the one strap bag over her shoulder and clasped it shut. She approached the front door to wait outside for Suwon. Since the rest went with Jiwon and she couldn’t go until later in the day, she nagged Suwon for a ride to the hospital. Afterall, everybody was invited to this big, special event. Jiyong…he’s able to see again!
She locked the front door and plopped down on the front steps of the house, waiting for Suwon to arrive. She checked her watch and sighed. A gorgeous day. It wasn’t too hot in her area of Seoul. Just perfect. Breezy.
As she drifted further away into her thoughts, Suwon pulled up, honking loudly. Miyoung snapped back to the present and jumped up from her spot on the steps. She hopped down the stairs and skipped to Suwon’s car, a bright smile on her face. “Hey!”
“Sup?” Suwon replied as Miyoung slammed the door shut.
“Nothing much. Pretty day, isn’t it?”
“Uh-huh,” Suwon answered, pulling away. He drove towards the highway, the traffic growing heavy as he approached. “Ughhh…”
“Why must this always happen?” Miyoung demanded, shaking her open palms at the massive numbers of cars before her. “Why?”
“And Sunghoon’s waiting for us, too,” Suwon moaned. He let his head fall against the steering wheel in despair as the words he had just spoken sank into Miyoung’s mind.
“WHOOOOOOO?” Miyoung hooted shrilly.
With his head still down, Suwon replied, “Sunghoon. Jiwon’s car broke down.”
“WHAT?!?!” Miyoung shrieked. “How many’s with them?!”
“The four of them,” Suwon said in a muffled voice.
“Soo..” Miyoung’s voice faultered. She glanced around her. “Suwon. You came in your car. Dammit! YOUR car! Where’s the UHaul?!”
“What must you people insist on calling what my father drives a damn UHaul?!” Suwon fired. “To answer your question, I didn’t want to drive his van! I like my car better.”
Miyoung pursed her lips, willing herself to be quiet. Five minutes passed and she blurted, “How are they gonna fit?!”
“They will. Sunghoon can go in the trunk. He’s small.”
They slowly moved along in the slow traffic, still arguing loudly about the ride. As they approached the exit where Jiwon’s car sit, Miyoung saw a stick figure bounce a few yards away.
“What was that?”
“What was what?”
“That. I saw a scarecrow walk from car to car. A naked one, too.”
Suwon raised a brow. “Are you okay? Maybe you need a checkup at the hospital too.”
“No, I’m fine. I know I saw — THERE!!!” Miyoung hollered, jumping in the passenger seat. She stabbed at the window wildly. “You see it? You see it?” she cried eagerly. “He’s right there!”
Suwon squinted his eyes due to the glaring sun, trying to catch a glimpse of Miyoung’s scarecrow. “No. I don’t see anything.”
Miyoung growled. “How could you have not seen him!? He was right there!” She gave up and fell back against the seat, sighing loudly.
Suwon scratched his head, not quite catching up.
Miyoung turned to look out of her side of the window, her eyes just watching the nearby cars. Then…she saw him.
“What did you say he was wearing again?” Suwon asked, his eyes found bare skin. It was a guy.
“KANG SUNGHOON!!!!!!!!” Miyoung screamed on top of her lungs. She rolled down the window and yelled again. “KANG SUNGHOOOOOOON!!!!!”
“What?”
“That’s Sunghoon! Look! He’s naked!” Miyoung exclaimed pointing the bony figure.
Suwon looked in the direction of Miyoung’s finger and sure enough, he saw what she was screaming about. “WHAT THE FUCK!?!?”
“Oh, the torture,” Miyoung moaned. “He should join the freak show.”
Suwon agreed without hesitation. “I wonder what everybody else is doing?”
“One’s probably humping a car or jacking one,” Miyoung grunted.
“He’s coming over!”
“Let’s laugh in his face!”
“No! Get down!”
“Why?”
“Wait…get his number!”
“Why? I have his number,” Miyoung said disgustingly.
Suwon laughed. “He’s prostituting himself.”
Miyoung’s eyes lit up.
“Uh-oh,” Suwon murmured. “I know that look.”
Miyoung’s lips spread to a smile. “Watch.” She turned away and stuck her head out the window. She placed two fingers in her mouth and released a loud whistle. “Hey, you bitch!”
Suwon bursted out laughing. “This should be good.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Thanks,” Sunghoon said sweetly, flashing his irresistable smile.
The girls in the car squealed with delight and waved as Sunghoon pranced away to the next car. Behind him, Jiwon and Jaeduk were jeering at him while Jaeduk was on a laughing marathon. Jaeduk imitated one of the girls and swatted a playful hand at Jaejin, giggling feverishly. “You’re sooooooooooooo cute,” Jaeduk drawled.
Sunghoon turned to them and stuck his tongue out at them. He kept his head turned to them, not realizing he was so distracted, he paused right before Suwon’s car.
“Thank God you have tinted windows,” Miyoung told Suwon.
Suwon cackled again.
“Hey, you fuckin whore!” Miyoung barked, opening the window to a slight crack.
Sunghoon turned his head abruptly at the gruff feminine voice. Uh-oh…
“Yeah, you! Fuckin bitch! How much you charge?”
Sunghoon froze. He wanted numbers, not sex. Did he really look that sexy?
“Hey, dumb broad! I’m talking to you!” Miyoung went on. “Are you fuckin stupid?!”
“Uhh…hi,” Sunghoon said meekly.
“Get in! Where’s your clothes, boy?!” Miyoung demanded, trying to smother her laughter.
“Uhhh…”
“Did the previous bastard that fucked you keep it?! Boy, are you mute?!” Miyoung blasted. “You can’t talk, can you? Are you stupid? How good’s your service? Take off your shorts! Let’s see what’s inside!”
Sunghoon stood rigid straight, his blood draining from his scrawny body. He clutched his sex, his eyes bulging at the stranger’s request. “Uhhh…”
“What are you doing prostituting on a highway like this? Get in, baby!” Miyoung shrieked, her sides hurting.
Suwon bit on his lower lip to keep from roaring. “You scared the shit outta him. Look, he’s gonna pee!”
“Why you holding onto your penis like that?! Scared you’re gonna lose it!?” Miyoung screamed.
That was it. All the laughter Suwon had fought to hold back came out like thunder. He belted out with all his strength, as Miyoung shrieked with laughter. Petrified, Sunghoon ran back to his friends, his face masked with fear.
“Hide me!” he cried, looking from Jiwon to Jaeduk, Jaeduk to Jaejin. “There’s a maniac on the road!”
“What?” Jiwon asked, looking up from his Beemer sign.
“Some girl wanted sex. She thought I was a prostitute!”
The three trade amused glances before choking on laughter. They threw their eyes on Sunghoon again, giving him another once over and released it all on him. Their mouths tumbled open, pouring out the most nastiest noise Sunghoon have ever heard. Their hooting laughter.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I wonder…”
“What?”
“I wonder if Sunghoon’s coming..” said Jiyong.
“Is he supposed to?” Chomee asked.
“Well, he said he was.”
“Well, we can always call him and find out.”
“Are we there yet?”
“I have no idea,” Chomee admitted. “I think so.”
“We’re close. Ten more minutes,” the driver replied.
“Ten minutes…” Jiyong repeated softly to himself.

Chapter 31 

Once the cars were parked, side by side, everybody unloaded the cars and huddled in a circle. They approached the hospital together, Chomee with Jiyong, Susan with Jiyong’s parents. The drivers remained in the vehicles, chatting with each other as they wait for further instructions.
As they entered the hospital, the cold air rushed out to greet them. Chomee looked around with her big eyes, the sparkling cleanliness striking her. She felt a shiver course through her, just being in a hospital brings up a wave of guilt. She thought to her mother, sick in a hospital…God knows how far away.
They checked in at the front desk and were sent to the waiting room. The front desk attendants scurried about, each of them recognizing the Ko family. They quickly went to look for the doctor while Chomee went on staring about her.
“Such a bumpkin,” Susan muttered disgustingly.
They entered the empty waiting room and all took seats. The married couple together, Chomee and Jiyong, and Susan by herself. They waited in silence, the quietness between them growing tense. Chomee stared out the window to avoid conversations, Susan flipped through the old magazines before her and Mrs. Ko back in her cacoon and Mr. Ko’s eyes wandered around as Jiyong played with Chomee’s hand.
“Chomee?” Jiyong said meekly.
Chomee jumped slightly. “Huh?”
“Where are we?”
“In the waiting room.”
“Where’s my parents?”
“They’re right here.”
“Oh.”
Mrs. Ko’s mind snapped back to the present and stared at her son. Did she just hear disappointment in his voice?
“Ko Puyin!” a loud voice boomed.
Startled, all eyes turned in the direction of the voice. It was a doctor. Jiyong’s doctor.
“Who’s that?” Jiyong whispered, tugging on Chomee’s fingers.
“A doctor,” Chomee murmured, keeping her eyes on the big man in white.
The doctor exchanged a few words and handshakes with Jiyong’s parents before turning to the kids. “You must be Jiyong.”
Jiyong smiled warily.
“Here’s what will happen, since this is the first time a surgery like this is performed — it’ll take approximately two hours. Probably longer, but at least two.”
“What?!” Jiyong shouted. “How come I wasn’t notified of this?!”
Everybody exchanged glances and shrugs, all waiting for the doctor to go on.
“I was never told about this,” Jiyong said again, breaking the silence.
“You’ll have to undergo two hours of surgery,” the doctor repeated.
“Well, what are they gonna do for two hours?” Jiyong asked. “Can Chomee stay with me?”
The doctor raised a brow and turned to Susan. “I’m assuming that’s you?”
Chomee chewed her lip, her eyes on Jiyong’s mother.
When the doctor didn’t get a reply, he shrugged it off. “It’s fine. She’s not allowed in the operating room though. She can wait in the next room.”
“You’re not gonna run off, right?” Jiyong asked jokingly.
Chomee managed to force a tight smile upon her lips. “No.”
“Good. I’m gonna be alright,” Jiyong said more to assure himself than to everybody in the room.
“Come along,” the doctor said, leading Jiyong away.
Jiyong, sensing Chomee not following, called out, “C’mon Chomee!”
Chomee hesitated. She reluctantly picked up her feet and shuffled after Jiyong, all eyes on her.
“I thought the other young lady was your…” the doctor started.
“What other lady?” Jiyong inquired.
The doctor turned to Chomee. Chomee made eye contact, signaling to him that Jiyong doesn’t know Susan’s with them. “Never mind.”
“This way.” Chomee placed a hand on Jiyong’s arm and guided him to the operating room.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Finally, moving along!” Suwon cried.
“Hey! Where’d Hoony go?”
“In search for his darling penis,” Suwon replied, cracking up.
Miyoung shrieked with laughter.
“See if you can spot them,” Suwon managed to say with a sniffle.
Miyoung kept her eyes on her side of the road and scanned the lanes. “Hey…”
“What?”
“What the hell is that?!” Miyoung shrilled, pointing out the window.
Suwon squinted in the direction of Miyoung’s finger. “L-L-Legs?”
“I thought I was losing my mind!”
“What the hell?!”
“It must be Jaejin practicing for the circus.”
“We’ll see.” Suwon sped up, edging closer and closer to Jiyong’s friends. Sure enough, they found Sunghoon fully clothed — and Jaeduk’s legs in the air.
Sunghoon screamed and ran to hide behind Jiwon.
“Oh, my God,” Suwon muttered, pulling over. “Who requested duck legs? They’re not exactly on today’s menu.”
Miyoung giggled. “Where’s the giggalo?”
“Behind Jiwon. I’m more interested in Jaeduk’s head stand performance. Is the blood flowing to his brain?”
“Brain?” Miyoung echoed blankly. “What brain?”
Suwon hooted with laughter. “Let’s go see what’s up.” He turned off his car and waited for Miyoung.
“They found me!” Sunghoon squealed, squeezing Jiwon’s arms.
“Who?!”
“The maniacs! The ones that asked for sex!” Sunghoon trembled at the flashback. “Hide me!”
“Where?” Jiwon asked, looking around.
“Anywhere!”
“I mean..where are they?”
“In-In-In-In there—”
“Hey, bitch!” Miyoung bellowed, sneaking up on Sunghoon.
Sunghoon screamed like a bitch, howling like a hoochie. “They found me! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It was a dare! A dare! No sex! Please don’t rape me!”
“Why were you prostituting then?” Miyoung demanded in a gruff voice.
“I-I-I-I wasn’t!” Sunghoon protested with his eyes still closed.
“Whoa? Who would wanna fuck this boner?” Jiwon chortled. “Suwon’s better. Stick with him, girl.”
“What?!” Sunghoon eyes popped open. “Suwon’s better?!!! What—”
“Hey, baby,” Miyoung purred in a husky voice.
Sunghoon squeezed his eyes shut. “Noooooooooooo!”
Miyoung placed a hand on his neck. “How about it? Tonight? I promise I’ll fuck REAL hard.”
Sunghoon whimpered.
“Man, open your damn pussy eyes! Stupid cunt!” Miyoung growled, slapping Sunghoon upside his head.
“Owww!” Sunghoon cried, rubbing the back of his head. He spun around to find his friend walking away, heading towards the black car. “MIYOUNG?!!!” He stared at the familiar black Honda SI, realizing it was Suwon’s car. “What the F—”
Jiwon nudged Sunghoon, cutting him off.
“The hell?!” Sunghoon shrieked. “It-It-It was…THEM!!”
Jiwon raised a brow. “Them what?”
“They-They-They…They’re the ones who wanted to have sex!! Miyoung!” Sunghoon wailed. “What the?!!! That’s not the van!!”
Suwon looked around sheepishly at the accusation. “Yeah, so?”
“How are we gonna fit?! And dammit! That..That was you!!!!” Sunghoon screamed, tearing his hair out. He screamed again, realizing Miyoung and Suwon had seen him…naked.
Miyoung laughed evily and approached Sunghoon again. “Hey..not bad. Do you parade around the streets like that all the time? What are the hours of your business? Lemme know and I’ll come by and holla at cha sometime.”
Sunghoon shuddered at the suggestion.
“Pop the hood,” Suwon called out to Jiwon. “I bet there’s nothing wrong.”
Jiwon turned to Suwon.
“Oh, yeah! His brother’s a mechanic!” Jaeduk reminded them, letting his feet down. He adjusted his clothes. “Pop it! Maybe Suwon can fix it.”
Jiwon glanced at the small Honda parked behind his car and sighed. He popped the hood open and Suwon, along with Jaejin and Jaeduk all gathered around to inspect the engine.
Suwon frowned. “You sure this was at the shop?”
Jiwon narrowed his eyes. “Why?”
“Did you even look under here?”
Jiwon squeezed in with the trio and Miyoung hurried over to join the crowd. Sunghoon leaned on the passenger door, playing with his hair.
“Did you see them open the hood?”
“No. What’s wrong?”
“This!” Suwon picked at the piece of bubble gum, disgusted. “Somebody stuck a piece of gum into your damn Beemer!”
“What the FUCK?!” Jiwon bellowed, shoving Jaejin and Jaeduk aside. “When did this happen?!”
“Couldn’t have been yesterday. The gum’s black and dry. The mechanics obviously chose to miss that one.”
“Damn, fuck nuts! Good thing I didn’t have to pay.”
“There’s nothing technically wrong. You gotta get your oil changed.”
What?!” Jiwon shrieked. “They were supposed to do that!”
“And,” Suwon continued. “Your car needs to be jumped. It’s dead.”
Sunghoon jumped off the door. “I’ll be waiting in the car.” He pointed to Suwon’s car and hurried off. Miyoung ran after him and shoved him away. She ran to Suwon’s Honda as Sunghoon grabbed her by the waist from behind and threw her back.
“You bastard!” she screamed as she landed on her ass. She quickly got up and charged at Sunghoon. She pushed him and he hollered as he hit the seater. “Go in the back!” she yelled and pushed him through the small space.
“Wait! Lemme put the seat down!” Sunghoon wailed.
“No!” Miyoung barked. “Get in there!” She gave him a kick in the ass and he shot forward like a cannon, sprawling across the floor of the car, his feet still hanging out the door.
“Owwww…” he said lifelessly. “Miyoung..my pants. Now I gotta black foot on my ass. My jeans are white, Miyoung…”
She picked up his feet and threw them in, turning Sunghoon into a screwed up pretzel. “Shoulda considered your options.”
Sunghoon pulled himself up and patted himself clean. “I did. Jiwon’s car’s gonna break down again.”
“So…you put the gum there!” she accused.
“No, I didn’t!” Sunghoon cried, shocked at the accusation. “I said it’ll break down again! I didn’t say I made it die! Miyoung!”
She slammed the door shut and left Sunghoon in the car by himself and wandered back to the others. Jaeduk came up to her, talking 150 words per minute and Jaejin stood behind them—laughing. Suwon and Jiwon were still arguing whether to jump the car or not.
“That was great! I saw him fly across the backseat! You shoulda let me try!”
Miyoung smiled meekly and went o Jiwon. She pulled her hair back, the heat killing her. “Are we moving along or what? Jiyong’s probably home already.”
“Jump it!” Suwon growled.
“No,” Jiwon said through gritted teeth. “What if that fucks up my car even more?!”
“I’ll pay for the damages. My brother’ll fix your car.”
Jiwon contemplated the idea but Suwon was already moving. Jaejin and Jaeduk helped while Miyoung and Jiwon stood aside and watched.
“Wait, did I even agree to it and you guys are — ”
Jaejin cut Jiwon off by climbing into the BMW and started the engine.
Miyoung turned to Jiwon. “What were you saying?”
“You need to keep that boy. If you don’t look lock him up, some day, God knows when—I’ll turn gay and take him from you.”
Miyoung shrieked with laughter and went to Suwon’s car. Sunghoon had his face against the window, his hands banging away. She jerked the door open, allowing air into the stuffy vehicle. Sunghoon quickly stuck his head out, inhaling the fresh air.
“Oh, I love you, Miyoung!”
Miyoung stepped into the car and slammed the door shut. Sunghoon leaned back on the seat. “Still love me?”
Sunghoon ignored her.
“So, it’s only the two of us now,” Miyoung said coyly. “How about it?”
“You’re not serious, are you?!” Sunghoon inquired, horrified.
Miyoung turned around. “Of course I’m serious! You think I’m playing with you?!”
Sunghoon gulped. Miyoung’s fiesty. She’d rape him before he could even lift a finger. “What about Suwon?”
“What about him?”
“Won’t..won’t he mind?”
“Mind? Sunghoon, we broke up! It’s his idea to pick you up. I never knew he was into threesomes,” she said with a frown.
“Threesome!?!” Sunghoon gasped. “Suwon’s gay?!”
Miyoung fought to keep from screaming. It was funny. She bit on her lip and watched Sunghoon’s face grow from shock to mortification.
“Oh..my..God..W-W-When did this happen? H-H-How?!!!”
“K, we’re ready to go!” Suwon announced, pulling the door open. He started the engine and felt the tension in the backseat. “You okay, Hoon?”
Sunghoon couldn’t hold back any longer. “Lemme out! Lemme outta here! Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”
Suwon scoffed, glancing at Miyoung. “Tell you what?”
“You’re gay!” Sunghoon shouted, shaking the passenger seat.
Suwon stiffened, his eye balls close to falling out. Slowly he asked, “Whaaaaaaa?”
Sunghoon rolled his eyes, exasperated. “You’re gay! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
Miyoung burst out laughing, tears streaming down her face.
“Who said I was gay?” Suwon demanded, zooming off. He flew past Jiwon’s car, enraged. He looked over to Miyoung who was clutching her stomach and laughing with her mouth wide open.
“Aren’t you?”
“NO!” Suwon thundered. “You believe her?! Of all people!”
“Well…y-y-you know that girlfriend of yours can be pretty convincing at times,” Sunghoon stammered.
“Shut up!” Suwon bellowed, hitting Miyoung’s knee and drove off the next exit.
“Wait till I tell Chomee!” Miyoung gurgled, choking slightly. “She’s gonna flip!”
“Shut up!” Sunghoon cried, slapping Miyoung’s shoulder.
Miyoung simmered, still giggling to herself as Suwon raced with Jiwon down the ramp, nearby traffic honking crazily at them. She saw Jaeduk in the front seat, waving a white box and Jaejin in the back holding onto the headrest of the driver seat.
“Step on it!” Sunghoon gushed, glancing over at Jiwon’s car. “Ohmigod! Ohmigod, Ohmigod! Suwon!!!”
Miyoung focused her attention on the wheels, realizing she never noticed till now. “Oh, MY GOD!!!! SUWON!!!!”
“What?” Suwon said bluntly and kept gunning the gas.
“SUWON! STOP THE CAR!!!!!” Miyoung screamed, terrified. She kept her eyes on Jiwon’s determined face and the rims of his car. They were so close to touching. The cars…
“Why?!!” Suwon shouted.
“No! Don’t stop! That’ll actually scrape the cars..keep moving!” Sunghoon commanded, his face pale.
“Scrape…” Suwon quickly glanced over. “Holy shit!” His foot quickly eased up on the gas pedal, slowing down at least ten times the speed he was going at. Miyoung and Sunghoon jerked backwards in their seat, yelling as they sunk.
“Aha!” Jiwon sneered, shooting miles ahead. He slowed down as he approached the wide rotary to the hospital. “Told you no punk can beat my shit!”
“Actually…Jiyong beated you—” Jaeduk started to say.
“Ahhhh, shut up!” Jiwon cut in. It was true. Give Jiyong a beat up car and he’ll still beat Jiwon anyday. Even if it was a shopping cart and Jiwon’d still lose if he had a racer. “It’s not my fault he got long legs.”
“And Suwon—” Jaeduk tried again.
“I just kicked his ass.”
“Uhhh…actually…I think he slowed down on purpose. Did you see how close your cars were?” Jaejin asked. “He slowed a quarter of a mile down just so you can pass him at the turn back there. If not…we’re all gonna be with Jiyong in the same situation as he’s in.”
JIwon bit his lip and kept quiet. As he pulled up in an empty space, Suwon followed not too far behind. He got out with Jaejin and Jaeduk, all waiting for Suwon to find a parking space. They waited for them at the entrance, Jaeduk walking like a little boy and shaking the little box as if it was a Christmas present. He beamed and smiled.
“Oh, happy day!” he commented. “Hope Jiyong likes this.”
Suwon parked his car and got out. Miyoung and Sunghoon were battling with each other. Miyoung pushed Sunghoon back as Sunghoon kept kicking the seat and screaming for Suwon to help. Suwon laughed at the two and left for the hospital entrance.
“Stay in there!” Miyoung yelled and slammed the door shut. She ran after Suwon and rammed right into Jiwon. “Quick! Let’s go before he gets out! I couldn’t lock him in!” She pulled Jaeduk after her and they hurried to the front desk.
“Damn you…” Sunghoon muttered under his breath. He slammed down the seater and crawled out of the small Honda. He straightened out his clothes and checked out his hair in the mirror before advancing anywhere. “This is what I get for caring. I show a little sympathy and care for you and this is the trouble I have to put up with. Damn you, Ko Jiyong.”
With that, Sunghoon yanked a strand of hair straight and head towards the hospital.
Chapter 32 

Chomee could only wait. She sat on the stool, watching the hands on the clock tick by. It was slow. She hated it. She wanted to climb up on the wall and turn the time forward. She had to hurry home. She didn’t necessarily have to. She wanted to.
If only she had left earlier. She could tell Mrs. Ko wanted for her to leave. She could see the hatred in the woman’s eyes. Mrs. Ko didn’t like anybody. Period.
Chomee sighed and looked around her, bored. Jiyong had said Sunghoon and Miyoung were supposed to come. But they haven’t showed up yet. She sighed and kept her eyes on the curtain that hid Jiyong in the operating room. She grew impatient. It was going to be two hours and only half an hour passed. She couldn’t wait.
She got up off the stool and left the waiting room. She returned to the main waiting room and quietly entered. Upon her entrance, heads looked up in her direction.
Mrs. Ko the very first.
“What happened?!” Mr. Ko asked, surprised to find Chomee back. “Did something happen?”
Chomee hesitated and shook her head. “No. Nothing happened. I just wanted to come back.”
The tension she had felt two seconds ago, lightened. She silently tiptoed to the other end of the room and picked up a magazine. She took a seat by the window and began flipping through the magazine, feeling uncomfortable. She could feel Mrs. Ko’s eyes — burning a gigantic hole into her brain.
Susan looked and sighed. She soon stood up and left the room. She couldn’t stand sitting for two hours. She retraced her steps and went back outside, the hot sun firing her up a bit. She felt too cold in the waiting room. Especially in the presence of Jiyong’s mother. The woman sure does know how to go below zero. She walked towards the garden. Something she had missed when she first arrived the hospital. It was well hidden. Far away from the parking lot.
It surprised her, however. A hospital with a park…in the city? But then she reminded herself she was in Korea. Not America.
She looked up towards the sky, the sky bluest of blues. The clouds were white and fluffy like cotton candy. She approached a pinic bench and threw down her purse. She glanced at her Gucci watch. Only forty minutes passed. She had another lifetime to wait. She stared off into space.
What would happen…if..
Jiyong could see again? If he rejected her? If..If he saw Chomee? If he..
Susan panicked. There were too many if’s. She chewed on her lower lip. She had to get rid of Chomee. She had to get rid of her.
Now.

Chapter 33 

The minutes were ticking. His hands were shaking. His heart was racing.
“Doctor! Are you feeling well?” an assisting nurse asked. She peered at the doctor, concerned. She noticed how badly he was trembling and motioned for more assistance.
“Con-Contact his family…they’re…”
“Doctor! Are you…”
“I-I-I’m fine..he’s losing blood. It’ll probably damage his eyes even more. I can’t stop the blood flow.”
An attendant ran off to find another doctor while Jiyong’s doctor rushed to clog the problem and everybody ran around, frantic.
It was the first. He had suggested a laser operation, but the board of supervisors were against it. It was safer, although new, but it wasn’t bloody. But..
“What’s wrong?!” Dr. Jong barked, entering the operating room. He shoved the younger doctor aside and stared at the mess. “What’s this?!”
The younger doctor glared at his senior. “I told you all! Laser! But you didn’t believe me!”
Dr. Jong grunted and silenced the doctor in his thirties. “Just go and inform the family. I’ll take care of this here.”
Dr. Kim stormed out of the operating room, angry at the world. Mostly at himself. He should’ve listened to himself and went on ahead with his original plan. Now…his career’s over. Not entirely…Mrs. Ko, herself, didn’t want the surgery to be used with laser. He couldn’t operate without her consent. But..
He was in for it. She’s going to sue his ass and have him fired immediately and see to it that he’ll never get a job ever again. Not even bagging groceries at a local market.
As he neared the door, Mrs. Ko appeared before he could even stop at it. He took a step back, startled. She moves quick, he thought. How’d she find out already?
But the little girl Jiyong had asked to follow came out. Mr. Ko followed not too shortly.
Great. Now they’re ganging up on me, the doctor thought miserably.
Mrs. Ko was the first to stop and recognize him. “Dr. Kim!”
Chomee and Mr. Ko turned in the direction of Mrs. Ko’s voice. They both saw the doctor, pale and sweaty. Chomee’s eyes widened and realized something was wrong. Jiyong was probably calling for her and she left.
“Wh-What’s wrong?!” Chomee cried before the words could even form in Mrs. Ko’s mind. “It’s Jiyong, isn’t it?! Something happened!”
Dr. Kim took a deep breath and looked down at the little girl before him. Her Bambi eyes were filled with worried and…guilt…
Chomee, unknowingly, was about to reach out and grasp the doctor’s arm. But Mrs. Ko moved faster and snatched the girl back. Just as Chomee flew back to the door, nearly tripping upon the sudden jerk, Susan ran down the hall towards them. Susan slowed and saw Chomee fall against the door and froze.
It somehow hurted her. In a way, she was happy. But..she couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong. She could see Jiyong’s mother wasn’t too happy. And the doctor..the doctor Jiyong had disappeared with. She picked up her feet and slowly strolled over to them. She kept glancing around her, looking for Jiyong’s tall figure.
“What happened?!” Mrs. Ko demanded quietly. She knew something was wrong. Operation was two hours. One hour hasn’t even been up yet and the doctor came trudging back looking guilty.
Chomee sniffled and felt a tear roll down her face. It’s my fault..I left him..I shouldn’t have left…I should’ve stay, she said mentally.
Mr. Ko stood aside and took everything in. He saw Susan nearing them and turned to Chomee, who was quietly crying. He turned his attention back to his wife and Dr. Kim. “Did something…unexpected happen?” he asked timidly.
Susan felt her heart stop. Unexpected…
Chomee’s tears stopped flowing as the word left Mr. Ko’s lips. The dreaded, haunting word. Unexpected…
Mrs. Ko’s deadly snake eyes stilled. Why must her husband phrase his questions like that?! She waited for an answer. The answer. Jiyong’s fine. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing could go wrong. She’s spending millions and billions. He can’t lose hope. Everything’s supposed to be fine. Nothing unexpected is supposed to happen. She kept her eyes on the doctor as the word echoed in the deepest valley of her brain. Unexpected…
Dr. Kim licked his lips and adjusted his glasses. “Uhhh…”
Chomee willed herself to move, but she couldn’t. Her legs were stuck. She felt helpless. She pushed herself off the door and fell forward, falling onto the floor in a heap. Susan jumped back, surprised by the sudden collapse.
“Chomee!” Mr. Ko gasped, attending the girl.
Dr. Kim hurried to her too, pulling her up. When he lifted her head, he saw streams of tears all over her face. She was sobbing quietly, painfully…
“Lemme…” she whispered very lightly. “Lemme see him..”
Dr. Kim nodded and helped Chomee to her feet. When he realized she couldn’t stand he picked her up and carried her to the waiting room by the operation room. Jiyong’s parents and Susan followed close behind. They didn’t dare to utter or make a single sound. Dr. Kim placed Chomee on a nearby chair and left for a wheelchair. Chomee sat alone, aloof. The tears dried up and hardened.
Then a yell came.
Chomee snapped out of her mental shell and sat up straight. Jiyong…
“JIYONG!!!” Mrs. Ko screamed, advancing towards the operating room.
Chomee fell out of the chair, trying to stand. She collapsed on the floor while Jiyong’s parents and Susan crowded around the doorway, trying to pry it open. The frustrated tears came again, spilling carelessly all over the place. She grunted as she gradually pulled herself towards their feet.
It was hard. She bit down on her lower lip and went on dragging herself. She had to see Jiyong. She owed it to him. He trusted her and wanted her to be there. She whimpered and felt she couldn’t go on. But she stretched out and found somebody’s heel. She inched forward and gently tapped on the shoe.
Another yell.
“Jiyong,” Chomee breathed, inhaling as another tear rolled off her cheek.
All of a sudden, the door burst open and everybody flew away from the door. Chomee screamed as the three pairs of feet trampled all over her.
Shocked and startled, everybody jumped everywhere, realizing they stepped on something warm and gushy. Chomee laid still on the floor, the pinching pain attacking her from all sides. She moaned then grew silent and wished she was at home with her mom. Then she blinked. She forgot all about leaving. When she left the waiting room with Jiyong’s parents, they had planned on leaving. Then the doctor showed up.
“Chomee?” Dr. Kim said softly. He nudged her gently and and turned her over. “Are you alright?”
Chomee nodded, one last tear slipping from the corner of her eye. “I’m..fine,” she whispered.
“Jiyong’s calling for you. I guess he wants you inside. He just woke up,” the doctor informed her.
Chomee nodded as the doctor picked her up again and placed her into a wheel chair. She sank into the chair, her body aching. Dr. Kim wheeled her in, Mrs. Ko eager to follow.
“I’m sorry. The patient only wishes to see Chomee,” Dr. Kim said flatly.
Mrs. Ko’s face fell. “W-W-What? Th-Th-There must be some mistake. I-I-I’m his mother!”
“Well, he only wishes to see Chomee. Nobody else,” Dr. Kim repeated and closed the door firmly behind him.
Chomee looked tiredly around her. Nurses were running all over the place. Bloody clothes and red was everywhere. “Ji…”
“Cho…Cho…”
“Jiyong..” she murmured.
Dr. Kim pushed her closer to the operating table and motioned for her to be still. “You’re not supposed to be in here.”
“Cho…Cho…” Jiyong croaked.
“He still has some of the shots in his system. He’s not supposed to wake up so soon. Afterall, the surgery was set for two hours. I don’t think he got the right doses. Be careful.”
“Cho…Chomeeeeeee…” Jiyong moaned.
“Ji…Jiyong,” Chomee whispered, leaning on the table.
Jiyong’s hands searched for hers and she reached for him. “Chooooo…Chomeeee…”
“Hi,” she said gently. “You okay?”
“Cho…Chomeeeee…Where’s Chomee?”
“I’m right here,” Chomee answered, her weak smile faultering.
“He’s still drugged. He might not know you’re talking to him,” Dr. Kim explained.
Chomee nodded and edged closer. It was a nasty sight. He had blood splattered all over his face and white bandages wrapped around his eyes. Something had gone wrong. She turned to the doctor and in her most softest voice asked, “Is..Is he gonna see?”
Dr. Kim looked away. He chewed on his thumb for a few seconds and stood behind Chomee. In a husky, deadpan voice, only spirits can hear, he replied: “Most likely not.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What?!” Miyoung shrieked. “Why?!”
Jiwon pulled Miyoung back and quickly stepped up to the receptionist. “Excuse me, miss. You don’t understand. This is deathly important. You have to let us see him.”
The girl behind the desk frowned. “Well, I have special orders. You can’t see this patient. I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. He’s in surgery right now.”
“What?!” Jaeduk shouted. “Surgery? What happened?”
“I’m not allowed to release medical conditions or more information. Please step aside and wait in the waiting room.”
Miyoung felt the urge to walk behind the counter and smack the rude bitch upside her head. But Jiwon saw the urge and dragged her back. Miyoung had to bite down on her tongue to keep from kicking the desk. She spat on the pile of papers before the receptionist and let Jiwon and Jaejin take her away.
Sunghoon, being nosy as usual, had left the others when he entered the hospital. He went snooping around and found himself drifting away from his friends. When he realized he had gone too far, he tried to retrace his steps back to the main lobby where he left his friends. Then something caught his eyes.
Gucci watch. LV purse.
Sunghoon felt his heart skip a beat. Susan. He tiptoed towards her and saw her pacing back and forth in a room. It looked like another waiting room. He saw Jiyong’s parents sitting in the far end corner. Somebody was missing.
He knocked on the window pane and waited. He saw Susan stop and turn towards the window. Thank God he was tall enough to see past the gap over the curtains. He saw Susan narrow her eyes and headed towards the opened door.
A hiccup escaped Sunghoon’s lips as he neared the door and waited for Susan to appear. When she did, her expression changed from one of a great mixture to pure surprise.
“Hoony!” she greeted a bit loud. “W-W-What are you doing here?”
“Funny, I was gonna ask the same thing,” Sunghoon replied, folding his arms across his chest. He leaned against the wall beside him and stared at Susan.
“I’m waiting for Jiyong. Chomee’s inside the operating room,” Susan mumbled.
“That’s the operating room?” Sunghoon asked, nodding at the room Susan was in.
“Yeah. Hoony! It’s not good. They’re taking forever. And…And they said something happened. They didn’t tell us what. But Chomee knows. She’s inside and won’t come out!” Susan finally blurted.
“What?” Sunghoon said. “Something happened? What do you mean by that?!”
Then the door to the operating room opened. Chomee was wheeled out by Dr. Kim and Sunghoon bounced off the wall. Everybody went to the doctor and Sunghoon allowed himself in after Susan and found Chomee on a wheelchair. “Chomee!”
Chomee looked up slowly from her bloody hands. Her eyes wandered for a while and eventually found a friendly face. “Sunghoon,” she whispered with a smile.
“Chomee!” Sunghoon cried again and ran to her. He knelt before her grabbed her hands. “What happened? How come you’re bloody? Are you alright?”
“We’ll give her a checkup and clean her up a bit. She shouldn’t have any problems,” Dr. Kim responded, still holding onto the wheelchair.
“B-B-But…what’s with the wheelchair?” Sunghoon asked, looking into Chomee’s expressionless face. “What’s wrong, Chomee? Chomee?”
“He’s not fine,” she said in a very small voice. She stared at her hands entwined with Sunghoon’s and repeated herself. “Jiyong’s…not good.”
“What?” Sunghoon murmured in the same tone as Chomee. “What..What do you mean..”
Dr. Kim turned to Jiyong’s parents. “I’m afraid I have bad new for you. But I have to see to it that this girl here gets proper treatment. I’ll be you shortly. Dr. Jong is now attending your son. He’ll be out with Jiyong and he’ll be placed in a room.”
“Chomee,” Sunghoon pleaded. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
Chomee kept the faraway look. “Everything..”

Chapter 34 

Sunghoon left with Chomee and spotted his friends milling around. He went to his friends and reported what Chomee had told him seconds ago.
“WHAT?!” Jiwon screamed. He grabbed Sunghoon by the collar and shook the boy hard. “What happened?! Nothing was supposed to happen!”
Sunghoon flopped for a while longer before Jaejin and Suwon removed Jiwon’s hands. Jaeduk stood behind Sunghoon as support and helped still Sunghoon. “You think I know?! I’m telling you what Chomee told me!”
“Chomee? She’s here?!” Miyoung asked, joining Jiwon. “Where is she?”
Sunghoon turned to Miyoung. “She looks horrible. I think whatever happened shocked the living hell outta her. It must’ve been bad. She look so lost. She had blood all over her hands…”
Jiwon’s jaw fell open, his eyes gone soft. “Blood? How’d that happen?”
“That what I’m trying to find out. She was in the operating room while Susan and his parents were outside waiting,” Sunghoon told them.
“Where is she now?” Miyoung asked, worried.
“She’s getting a checkup now. And..she was in a wheelchair,” Sunghoon said in a hushed voice.
“What?” Jaeduk squealed. “Wheelchair?”
Sunghoon nodded and looked directly at Jiwon. “I think Jiyong’s jinxed.”
Enraged, Jiwon hollered: “Don’t fuckin say that!”
Sunghoon and Jaeduk shrank back. Everybody else remained silent and all thought about what to do for the time being. With the newly discovered information Sunghoon provided, nobody wanted to believe a single word of it. But all they could do was wait. Pray for the best. Hope for the best.
Yet, wait for the worst.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong, close to gaining conscious, opened his eyes. Or at least thought he did. He remained still and felt himself move backwards. Somebody was pushing him. Wait..it wasn’t somebody. It was some people.
He felt himself turn. They must have rounded a corner and down another long corridor. He knew that because they kept going in a straight line. Something wasn’t right. It was dark. The hospital must be out of power again. Then he slowed down to a halt.
His room. They’re pushing me into my room, he realized. But he felt like he’s entrapped in a daze. He was wrapped in a cacoon and he was suffocating. Where was Chomee?
Chomee…he just remembered. Where was she? They’ve taken her away. Where were his parents? Why is it so dark? He kept quiet and waited for everybody to leave, then turned to his side. It was strange. He felt drowsy. Then clear a few seconds later and then he’d feel stuffy and sleepy again.
He returned to his original position on the bed and stayed still again. He felt stiff. He tried turning his head and found his neck sore. He then remembered he was at the hospital. He was there and so was Chomee. She was right next to him and then…and then she disappeared. They took him some where and she was left behind.
Surgery. His eyes. It all came to him. He was supposed to have a two hour surgery on his eyes. Was the two hours up already? He felt confused and lost. Was it night or day? It was so dark. Was the power out again?
He reached up to feel his eyes and nearly jumped out of his skin. Instead of feeling his face, he felt something else. Something else was in place of his eyes. He gently touched the thing and felt around his face.
He was bandaged. The material was coarse and itching the hell out of him. He stayed still and waited. It was all silent and chilly. Could he see again? He wanted to see Chomee first. But..what if she left? She said she’d to leave once he regains his vision. She couldn’t leave him. Not now. Not after he’s able to see again.
“Chomee..”
He went on worrying and his head spun in so many different directions. It was so dark. He remembered the night of the attack. The night when the killer climbed in and tried to kill him. He shivered at the flashback and tried to hide further into his bed. He felt dizzy and fought to still his mind.
His temples pounded as he felt the effect of the shot kicking in once again. Everything became a blur and he couldn’t think clearly anymore. It was all silent as he fell into a deep ravine of unconsciousness.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Mrs. Ko sat on the edge of her chair, wringing her dress. She sat in between Susan and her husband, waiting for the results.
Nothing could be wrong. Hopefully not, she prayed silently.
Dr. Jung, along with Dr. Kim, each reviewed the records. They exchanged glances and Dr. Kim sighed. There was no hope. Nothing at all. But there was some strange indiction on the file about Jiyong’s medical history…something wasn’t right.
Dr. Jung spoke up. “Mr. Ko. Mrs. Ko.”
“What are his chances?” Mrs. Ko blurted, her heart close to exploding with anticipation.
Dr. Jung sighed. Solemnly, he replied: “Not good.”
Mrs. Ko felt herself go. The whole world was closing in on her and there was nothing she could do. She released her grasp on her dress and clutched at her poor heart. She did all she could and still failed. Her first failure. She couldn’t stand failure and she shoot icy glares at the doctor, seething with anger. “How could this have happened?! I was told he’d see! He’d recover fully! What’s this bullshit?!!”
Dr. Kim remained silent and kept his eyes on the charts. It wasn’t right. Unless he’s right…
“Nothing is guaranteed, Mrs. Ko. Especially when you’re dealing with medical science. And most specially when you’re dealing with taking risks and chances. Nothing. Nothing is guaranteed one hundred percent.”
“Damn you medical fucks!” Mrs. Ko belted out. “I donated millions of dollars here and I spent fortunes! This is the fuckin shit I get for my generosity?!”
Dr. Kim sat up a little straighter and turned to the report on the next page. He quickly reviewed the notes and turned to Dr. Jung. “Are they still running tests?”
Dr. Jung, startled by the sudden inquiry, blinked several times. “Y-Y-Yes…I believe so.”
Mrs. Ko then shot her eyes over to the doctor responsible for Jiyong’s mishap. “YOU!”
Dr. Kim’s eyebrows shot up. “Uh?”
“You malpractitioner! Where’s your degree?! Lemme see your certificates!” Mrs. Ko demanded.
“My degree? Lady, there’s something wrong with you. Lemme ask you something,” Dr. Kim shot back. “Lemme see your tax forms. You sure you’re not corrupt? Lemme see your donation slips. How could I be sure you’re not donating black money to this hospital? Lemme see your I.D. You’re probably not even Mrs. Ko as you claim that you are!”
Mr. Ko shot to his feet and slammed a fist down on the desk that came in between him and the doctors. “Dr. Kim!”
Dr. Kim looked up at the man. “Just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you get special benefits or priviledges. You don’t get to have everything your way. I understand you’re frustrated because Jiyong can’t see. But have you ever asked him how he feels about things? When we went into surgery, Jiyong stated he didn’t even agree to the surgery!”
The couple sealed their lips and looked off away from the doctors. Tension and uncomfortable silence hung between them as they all retreated back to their worlds. Dr. Jung looked over to Dr. Kim disapprovingly and frowed.
Dr. Kim sighed and closed Jiyong’s file. “I’m not allowed to discuss Jiyong’s medical history with you, but apparently…there has been some irregularities I’m afraid I have to point out.”
Mrs. Ko looked up. Though she hated the doctor, she couldn’t misdirect her gaze once upon hearing those words. “What irregularities?”
“Mrs. Ko, are you aware that your son has received none or close to not even having one session of therapy till the past weeks?”
Mrs. Ko forcefully dipped her head and swallowed. Jiyong was so angry he didn’t even talk to her for the whole year he was blind. He ignored her and didn’t even bother acknowledging her. He was so bitter and barked at everybody around him. She eventually backed off and didn’t even bother contacting him.
Dr. Kim sighed and gave up. “I’m going to see him. Hopefully the tests are over.”
“What test?” Mrs. Ko snapped, watching the doctor rise to his feet.
“We have assistants putting him through tests. They should be finished. I’m checking on him now.”
Dr. Jung didn’t hold Kim back and let him leave. He then spoke up. “Mrs. Ko. I hope you understand we’re doing everything we can.”
“Uhmmm,” Susan interrupted. She glanced around her and asked: “What exactly happened?”
“There was excessive blood loss. We’re afraid Jiyong won’t be able to see due to this tremendous loss. We’re doing all we can to help,” Dr. Jung replied.
“Blood loss? How’d that happen?” Mr. Ko asked.
“It’s…hard to explain. I’m not entirely certain of what happened. I only took over to stop the blood flow. I’m only aware that Jiyong’s chances of recovering’s 50/50.”
Mrs. Ko hissed and held her breath. Only 50/50. This is so unfair, she thought.
Dr. Jung nodded and studied each sullen face. They reminded him of gargoyles. He leaned back in his chair and watied. Maybe he should’ve gone with Kim. He wasn’t confortable waiting around with families of patients. He stood and cleared his throat. “I will be with Dr. Kim. I’ll return with the results.” He quickly left the room and went to find Dr. Kim.
If the patient does recover, he’ll be gratefully happy and retire in two weeks. If not, then he’ll feel guilty and wait for the board of superiors to bitch the fuck out of him. He sighed and spotted Dr. Kim standing outside Jiyong’s room. He found it strange and approached the man. “Dr. Kim.”
“Huh?” Dr. Kim looked up from Jiyong’s files.
“Why are you out here? Shouldn’t you be inside?”
“They’re finishing up. Look!” Dr. Kim shoved Jiyong’s file into Dr. Jung’s hands. “Tell me I’m not wrong.”
Dr. Jung gave Dr. Kim a strange look before accepting the charts.
“He’s stable at the moment. Remember how you checked him after you stopped the blood? These are the results. Tell me what you see.”
Dr. Jung carefully reviewed the grids and notes the other doctors scribbled down. They were all the same. Nothing he saw was out of the ordinary. “I don’t get it.”
“Look in between the numbers on pages one through five. Don’t they look disturbing?”
Dr. Jung stared at the numbers, taking the hint. He still couldn’t see what was wrong. He slowly walked away, from the door and without realizing it, he went to the lounge. He placed everything flat out on the table while Dr. Kim left to get coffee.
Numbers in between. One through five.
Then he spotted it. Page three. Dr. Kim returned with two cups of steaming coffee and handed one over to him. “Thanks.”
Dr. Kim nodded and sat on a nearby couch, waiting for Dr. Jung.
Page one and two, the numbers were low but steady. But on page three, one small mark skipped and went a notch higher. That made a difference. Pages four and five, the marks were higher and were expected to be.
Dr. Jung felt his heart stop at the discovery. He turned to the young doctor on the couch and paused. That would mean… “You’re thinking?”
“Let’s take his bandages off.”

Chapter 35 

Sunghoon held onto Chomee’s small figure as they all headed down to Jiyong’s room. With Jiwon and Jaejin leading the way, Miyoung, Suwon and Jaeduk were following close behind.
A nurse came by looking for Chomee in the waiting room earlier, announcing the good news. Chomee—cleaned up and refreshed—along with Jiyong’s friends all screamed with joy and surprise. Jiwon and everybody else jumped up and started hugging each other fiercely.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jung reported what Dr. Kim had found in the documentation. The excessive blood loss cleared whatever problem Jiyong had that caused the temporary lack of eyesight.
Mrs. Ko then recalled Jiyong never had a thorough checkup the day of the accident. The doctor responsible that day just cleaned him up and gave him treatment to the visible injuries. He never mentioned anything about vision problems. It was Jiyong who woke up and they all found out he was blind.
“Would you like to see him?” Dr. Jung asked, bringing Mrs. Ko’s attention back to the present.
Mrs. Ko bobbed her head and quickly got to her feet. Susan and Mr. Ko did the same and all four of them headed for the door.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m sorry, immediate family only,” Dr. Kim said, blocking the doorway to Jiyong’s room.
“What?! Haven’t we waited long enough?!” Jaeduk shrieked.
Miyoung agreed. “We are his immediate family. We have to see him.”
“Please?” Chomee pleaded with her wide eyes. She hugged Sunghoon tighter, her arms circling his waist as his arm rested on her shoulders.
“Where’s his parents?” Jaejin asked, looking around. “Aren’t they here?”
“Another doctor has gone to speak with them,” Dr. Kim replied.
“Why can’t we just see him? Just let us in there for five minutes and we’ll leave,” Suwon said.
“Yeah! Before his meanie parents come!” Jaeduk added.
Jiwon laughed at Jaeduk’s input and turned to the doctor. “Please, doctor. We’ve all waited for this important day. We’re here to wish him luck and see how well he’s doing. Like Jaeduk and Suwon said, we won’t be long. His parents doesn’t have to know. You can kick us out after he talks to us.”
Dr. Kim debated with himself. If everything was entirely up to him, he’d let them stay 24 hours. But it wasn’t. And the young man did say he could kick them out later. “Okay. Make it quick. I’m doing this against policy.” He held the door for the children as they all scampered inside. He closed the door and kept guard outside. Just in case if things came up..
“Ddo Chi!” Jaeduk shrieked, the first to reach Jiyong. “Happy Get Up Day!”
Jiyong’s head cocked towards the voice. “Jaeduk?”
“Yes! Once you can see again, you open this box!” Jaeduk placed the present by Jiyong’s hand.
“What is it?” Jiyong asked, feeling the box.
“You’ll see.”
“What if I don’t?”
Silence.
“Who else’s here?” Jiyong asked, breaking the silence.
“We’re all here!” Miyoung replied happily.
“Where’s Chomee?” Jiyong demanded, suddenly remembering she came with him.
Sunghoon nudged her and pulled her closer to the bed. “She’s right here.”
Jiyong reached out and touched Sunghoon’s hand. “You’re not Chomee. She has small soft hands. Where is she?”
Jaeduk giggled and watched Jiyong caress Sunghoon’s hand then flung it aside. He took a seat by the window and scratched his head. Everybody else started talking all at once and for once, Jiyong actually laughed.
It was strange. Everything seemed like it was back to normal. Jiyong’s going to see and everybody wasn’t sure of how to act around him. They all wanted to be cautious, but didn’t want to treat him like a fragile piece of china. They laughed for about another five minutes before the door flew open, interrupting them.
Everybody stilled and all heads turned to the door to find Jiyong’s parents, Susan and both doctors standing by the door.
“Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble, but I do need for you to leave. There’s too many of you guys here,” Dr. Jung explained. “You all can continue this reunion after he’s released.”
Up till now, Jiyong’s friends all sighed with relief. They all bid Jiyong farewell for the time being and headed for the door.
“Wait!” Jiyong called out abruptly.
Everybody halted and didn’t dare to move.
“Can Chomee stay?” he asked quietly.
Glances were exchanged and Sunghoon looked down at Chomee as she looked over to the adults. Mrs. Ko and Dr. Jung nodded together. Sunghoon hugged Chomee one last time and smiled at her. He quickly followed Jiwon and Miyoung out, leaving Chomee behind.
Chomee looked helplessly after Sunghoon and her eyes traveled to Mrs. Ko. She shrank back and stood alone by herself by the door as the remaining people all went closer to Jiyong.
“Chomee?” Jiyong called. He heard at least ten pairs of feet shuffling around but nobody spoke up. “Did she leave?”
“N-No,” Chomee stammered and slowly approached his bed.
“Chomee!” Jiyong cried with a bright smile. “I thought you left me! Stand next to me. I want you to be the first person I see.”
Chomee gave him a small smile but kept her distance. She felt two hawk-like glares burning her entire body and she couldn’t help not shivering.
Mrs. Ko reached over and tapped Chomee on the shoulder. She leaned over to the girl and whispered one word in her ear. “Remember.”
Chomee felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She gave Mrs. Ko the biggest her eyes could go. She wasn’t thinking of pulling the plan into action. Not now! Not when they’re so close…
Mrs. Ko nodded, understanding the risk and how much was at stake. But Jiyong must not see her!
Chomee could only dip her head and move towards Susan. Things weren’t going exactly how they had thought it would. Jiyong’s two hour surgery was cut back more than an hour which doesn’t give them much time. No matter what, Mrs. Ko had told her, they must leave before Jiyong could see.
As the bandage slowly unraveled around his head, Chomee back away from the bed. Susan stepped forward in Chomee’s place and waited anxiously for Jiyong to look at her.
“Chomee,” he called out, feeling for Chomee’s hand.
“I’m right here,” she responded, watching Jiyong’s hand inching for Susan’s. He smiled with satisfaction and nodded as if pleased.
“Jiyong,” Susan said sweetly.
Jiyong scowled at the fake voice and snatched his hand away. “Where’s Chomee? You’re not Chomee. I want Chomee!”
“Jiyong. I’m right here,” Chomee answered softly.
“No. I want you next to me. I need your hand. Not hers,” he spat.
Susan sighed, frustrated by the whole ordeal. Chomee squeezed in between the doctor and Susan.
“Jiyong,” Chomee said quietly.
Jiyong’s ears plucked at the voice. His hand shot out and held tightly onto Chomee’s hand.
“Jiyong. You’re hurting my hand,” Chomee lied, feeling uncomfortable under his mother’s fiery gaze.
He loosened his grip and nodded happily.
“I’m afraid you have to let go,” said Dr. Jung.
Jiyong hesitated.
“It won’t be for long,” the doctor was quick to add. Mrs. Ko had explained the situation to him, hoping he could help distract Jiyong for a little while.
“Listen to the doctor,” Mrs. Ko begged.
“Yes, please listen,” his father agreed.
“Jiyong. The sooner the bandage comes off, the sooner you can leave,” Chomee said convincingly.
Jiyong immediately release his hold of Chomee’s hand and Chomee and Susan swaped places. Mrs. Ko and Susan exchanged glances and nodded simultaneously. Chomee silently tiptoed out of the room accompanied by Jiyong’s mother.
“Thank you so much for your services and cooperation. I really appreciate it,” Mrs. Ko smiled wanly.
Chomee responded with a slight smile, rather tight and reluctant. Uncomfortable silence hung between the two as they walked out of the hospital. It was all over. They made it. She made it.
“Here’s your money and I’ve included a bonus for being so wonderful to my son. I’m sorry this is so sudden,” Mrs. Ko said bluntly. She handed Chomee a check and locked her lips tightly.
Chomee accepted the check and folded it without looking at the amount and pocketed it. “Thank you,” she whispered, keeping her head low.
“When you get back home, wish your mother well for me,” Mrs. Ko said sincerely, her eyes on the petite child.
Chomee nodded numbly, not sure of how to reply.
“Don’t worry about transportation. I’ll have one of my servants drive you home. That way you don’t have to wait so long.”
Chomee nodded again and murmured another, “Thank you.”
“Another thing.”
Chomee looked up, startled by the way how the woman had said that. “Yes?”
“I’d appreciate it if you and Jiyong don’t meet. You know, with Susan and all. I’d allow letters, but in the current circumstances…”
Chomee nodded, understanding Mrs. Ko’s demands. “I understand. No contact what-so-ever.”
Mrs. Ko pursed her lips. “Yes.”
“Thank you for everything,” Chomee said humbly. “I must go now. Say goodbye to Jiyong for me.”
“I will,” Mrs. Ko assured her.
“Take care.” Chomee cast one last look at the hospital and walked away, heading towards the Mercedes Benz that awaited for her to aboard. The chaeuffer opened the door and she stepped right in, settling in quickly.
“I have to get away from here,” she said to herself. The overwhelming feeling she was suddenly having was suffocating her. She picked up her heavy feet and curled into a ball on the seat. She turned to look out the window, her heart heavy.
She promised Jiyong she’d be there.
She promised.
And she broke it.

Chapter 36 

Jiyong held his breath as he felt each layer peeled away from his face. He was seconds away from seeing Chomee. It was only a matter of seconds and he could open his eyes and see the world again.
The material was getting lighter and lighter. Soon he felt the last of it fall from his eyes and sending a feeling of coolness to his head. He blinked, not seeing anything.
It was pitch dark and he kept blinking. Holy, fucking crap! I can’t see, he thought. He closed his eyes and tried to keep his peace. He slowly reopened them to see darkness.
Mrs. Ko returned just in time to find her husband and Susan hovering over her son. She quickly scurried over to join the others. She gasped softly, watching her son’s eyes flutter like a butterfly’s wing.
He was blinking furiously, still not seeing anything. He felt something deep within him about explode. All the hope and wishes he had built up inside him was all a waste. He suddenly stopped and squeezed his eyes shut. He had to see. He just had to! He promised himself he’d see. He vowed to himself that he’d see Chomee. Before he dies, he had to see her.
“Chomee!” he cried, the anger now dissolving to fear. “Chomee!”
Mrs. Ko stopped in her tracks. She looked over to Susan. They stared at each other for a good minute before tending to Jiyong. Mrs. Ko neared Jiyong on the other side of the bed and reached out to smooth the hair back from his face. “Jiyong..”
“Oma! Where’s Chomee?” Jiyong demanded, taking his mother’s hand.
“She..She’s in the bathroom, darling.”
Jiyong nodded and his eyes flew open. It was so unfair. All the hope he had worked up was all for nothing. He stayed still as his head rolled from side to side, waiting for Chomee to come back.
Then…
He saw something. It was faint. Very, very faint.
“Jiyong?” Dr. Jung called. “Jiyong..can you see anything?”
It was dark, then it got lighter. Lighter. Lighter. A lot lighter. White..he saw white. “N-N-No..” Jiyong stammered uncertainly. “I can’t see anything.”
“What do you see?”
“White light.”
Dr. Jung raised a brow. White light? “Anything else?”
Anything else? Jiyong squinted, the light surprising him. He was momentarily blinded by the sudden light and held up a hand. A shadow came over his eyes. He moved his hand and saw the shadow move. His hand. It was his hand. He pulled his hand closer to his face, the color getting darker. He could see!
Mrs. Ko bit her lip. Pray to God he’s able to see. She looked down at her hands that were tightly clutching the rails of the bed, her knuckles snow white. She released her grasp and continued watching her son observe his hand.
He could see a shape. It was his hand. It was blurry, but getting clearer. A face appeared before his. Chomee! It was Chomee! He blinked a few more times, his vision clearing by the minute. Chomee looked somewhat familiar. Then he saw long hair. Immediately he knew something was wrong. Chomee has short hair. Not long.
“Chomee?”
Then it got clearer. Susan. Her face was still blurred, but he could tell it was her. A few other heads appeared with Susan’s and he was hoping one of them would be Chomee.
He slowly let his eyes adjust to the images around him. He turned his face to look at the room before focusing on the people.
“Jiyong,” Susan said with a smile.
“Where’s Chomee?” He knew Chomee wasn’t in no bathroom. “Where is she?!”
Susan’s smile fell. She glanced at Jiyong’s mother and held her breath. All she knows is that Chomee’s leaving. Where to? She has no idea.
“Jiyong, honey,” his mother cooed. “I’m so glad you can see. Can you see me? What am I wearing?”
“What you always wear. Clothes.”
Mrs. Ko stared at her son in shock. Is this the good Chomee left behind in her son?!
Jiyong sat up on the bed and swung his legs over the rails.
“Jiyong,” the doctor said sternly, stopping him. “You can’t move around. Please remain still.”
Jiyong, regardless, hopped off the bed and ran to the door.
“Stop him!” Mrs. Ko shouted, pushing her husband after her child. “He’s not completely well!”
Susan tried her best to go after Jiyong, but her shoes weren’t helping compared to Jiyong’s flat soles. Plus he had long legs. She clattered down the long hallway while Jiyong ran here and there, trying to find his friends.
Jiwon, just leaving the restroom found Jiyong running past him. Startled, Jiwon blinked and rushed after the tall boy. He pulled on Jiyong’s arm, jerking him back. “Jiyong!”
Upon hearing the familiar voice did Jiyong stop. He spun around to find Jiwon staring at him. “Jiwon!”
“What are you doing?”
“Where’s Chomee?!” Jiyong demanded, his hands on Jiwon’s elbow. He shook Jiwon. “Where is she?”
“Chomee? The little girl?”
Jiyong nodded.
“Isn’t she with you? You asked her to stay and we left her behind. Didn’t she stay?”
Jiyong released Jiwon and tiled his head back.
“Can you see now? What am I wearing?”
Jiyong looked down at Jiwon’s outfit? “What’s with everybody asking me what they’re wearing?”
“So, can you go home now?”
The question reminded Jiyong his parents are still in pursuit. “Yeah, c’mon!” He pulled Jiwon after him, breaking into a run.
“Why are we running?”
“You got your car?”
“Yeah.”
“Good. Lemme use it.”
Before Jiwon could agree, a nurse stopped them and warned them of running. Jiyong and Jiwon nodded again and again before dashing off again.
“Where are we going?” Jiwon asked, slowing down. He headed towards the waiting room and placed his hand on the door just as it swung open.
“Where are you going? Your car’s in there?” Jiyong asked.
Sunghoon stepped out and screamed.
Miyoung and Jaeduk fell off their chairs right when Jaejin clamped a hand over Sunghoon’s mouth. Everybody tripped over each other just to get to the door to see what Sunghoon was screaming about.
“It’s Jiyong!” Sunghoon cried, pointing at his friend. “It’s Jiyong and his eyes are moving!”
“What am I wearing?” Miyoung asked.
“Did you see my present?”
“How does my hair look?” Sunghoon asked, standing directly in front of Jiyong. He brushed aside a lock of hair and smiled.
Jiyong laughed. “A gay bastard. That’s how you look.”
Jaeduk and Miyoung cackled at the comment as Jiwon screamed, “Oh, shit! He can see!”
Sunghoon stuck his tongue out at Jiwon and snorted.
“So we can leave now?” Suwon asked.
Jiyong looked around him and nodded vehemently. “The sooner the better.”
“What’s wrong?” Jaejin asked.
“Where’s Chomee?” Miyoung asked, realizing Chomee was missing.
“I’m trying to find out myself!” Jiyong replied.
“Uh-oh,” Jiwon interrupted with a hiccup.
Jiyong looked in the direction Jiwon was looking at and found his parents approaching them.
“Uh-oh? What do you mean by that?” Jaeduk demanded.
“RUN!” Jiyong screamed and sprinted down the hallway. Jiwon and Sunghoon followed close behind, pulling and pushing each other towards the exit to the parking lot.
They flew out the door and slowed to find their friends but stopped short when nobody was behind them.
“What the…” Sunghoon started but got cut off as his phone rang. He dug into his the pocket of his jeans and flipped the cell open. “What?”
Jiyong cocked a brow.
“That’s how he answers his phone. Either that or he screams ‘WHO?!’ like an owl.”
“WHAT?!” Sunghoon bellowed. “Okay, okay, okay…yeah..” He started pushing Jiyong and Jiwon towards the Beemer. “Go! Go, go, go, go!” He nodded a few more times and ended the call. “Go! They’re holding your parents and Susan back. Miyoung’s fighting with Susan right now.”
“Word?” Jiyong scoffed. He took Jiwon’s keys and climbed into the car. “I hope Miyoung gives her a good smack across the face.”
“I hope Miyoung kicks her in the face. I already smacked her,” Jiwon told Jiyong.
“You what?!” Jiyong and Sunghoon chorused.
“When?” Jiyong demanded, pulling out of the space. He headed towards the exit ramp, trying to think of which direction to go.
“A while back. I slapped her cause she screamed. I forgot what about though,” Jiwon answered with a frown.
Jiyong snickered. “Probably cause you wouldn’t buy her that LV wallet she wanted. Don’t matter. As long as you slapped the bitch.”
Sunghoon couldn’t think of anything to say just nodded and agreed. He remained silent while Jiyong drove and Jiwon toyed with his system. It occured to him a while later that he had no idea where they were going and why they were running from Jiyong’s parents. He looked over to Jiyong who was gripping on the steeling wheel with one hand and racing through the traffic in the city while Jiwon was changing cds and playing with the mirrors.
“Slow down!” Jiwon yelled, holding onto the dash board.
Jiyong ignored his request and sped up.
“You dumb ass! Are you forgetting that you were blind not too long ago?!” Jiwon thundered. Only the screeching wind could be heard as the three second pause in between tracks came on.
Jiyong kept his eyes on the road and picked up speed. He had to see Chomee. He just had to.
“Hey, kid,” Sunghoon interrupted. “How do you know which way Chomee went since she left the hospital while you were still in there?”
“Shit,” Jiwon muttered.
“Call my mom. She has to know,” Jiyong said bitterly.
Sunghoon flipped open his cell and handed it over to Jiyong.
“Oma?! Where the hell is she?!!” Jiyong barked.
Jiwon sat back in the seat, stunned by Jiyong’s hostility.
“Oma, if you don’t tell me what you’ve done to her, you better get ready to call the morgue!” Jiyong threatened.
“No!” Sunghoon shouted. “I’m too young to die!”
“Jiyong? Jiyong, honey! Where are you?!” Susan squealed, snatching the phone from Mrs. Ko.
“I was talking to my mother,” Jiyong replied coldly. “Where is Chomee?”
“Chomee? She went — ”
“Jiyong, come back!” his mother commanded, taking the phone away from Susan. “I’ll call Chomee and have her come back.”
“That’s not good enough. Which way did she go?” Jiyong repeated.
Mrs. Ko reluctantly gave in and started to answer not realizing her phone was dying out. “I-I-I sent her — ”
“Oma? OMA! OMA! Dammit! Shit’s fuckin dead!” Jiyong tossed the phone back to Sunghoon, cursing loudly out the window.
Sunghoon stared at his phone, baffled. “Jiyong, your mom’s phone died. Not mine.”
“I know that. Her phone’s always dead.”
“Oh!” Sunghoon closed his cell and slipped it back in his pocket.
Jiyong thought back to the times when he had conversations with Chomee. Where would she go?
“Where are we going?” Jiwon asked, noticing Jiyong’s slowing down.
Jiyong’s mind wandered, searching for hints Chomee left in their conversations together. She said she attend school in Seoul but her home’s in Pusan. She didn’t have any friends other than Miyoung. Where would she go?
“Where would she go?” Sunghoon asked, voicing out Jiyong’s thoughts.
Her mother. Chomee constantly spoke of her mother. Home..the only ‘real’ home she ever had was with her mother in Pusan. Her mother’s there! That night Chomee had to go away…
“What’s the quickest way to Pusan?”
Jiwon blinked. “Pusan? Train, bus? Car? I dunno! I’ve never been there!”
“Didn’t Jaejin say that you have to take a ferry or sumthin like that?” Sunghoon piped.
“Chomee didn’t take no boat out here.” Jiyong dismissed the idea.
“No, wait…she did. Suwon brought her home one night and he called me for a ride,” Jiwon said, recalling the night.
“Fuck it. Which way to Pusan?”
“South,” Sunghoon answered.
“I know that. Which exit do I take?!”
“Bus terminal next exit. Go ask,” Jiwon suggested.
“Dammit. I hate girls,” Jiyong growled.

*~*~*~*~*~*

After a long debate with herself, Chomee decided to take the boat home. She’d prefer the bus, but it’d be a hike to her house. “How much longer?”
“Not long, miss. About another hour?”
“Is it possible..I would like to take the ferry home.”
“I have orders, Miss Chomee.”
“Puyin won’t know. If you don’t tell, I won’t tell…besides, you’ll get back to the city late.”
The driver nodded, agreeing.
“You can just drop me off at the next stop. It’s not too far. I’ll go from there.”
“What about your luggage?”
“It’s not much, I can manage.”
The driver nodded again and kept his eyes on the road. Chomee settled back in the seat and turned to watch the scenary go by again.
“It won’t be long, Miss Chomee,” the driver announced.
Chomee smiled. She was going home. Once again.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Kamsa hamnida,” Sunghoon said, bending slightly at the waist. He hurried back to Jiwon’s car, his hair bright in the afternoon sun. “Kids, we’re in for a longggg ride.”
“How far?” Jiwon asked.
“We gotta turn back. We missed the route to the ferry. If we continue along this way, it’ll take us there, but it’ll be more than 48 hours since everybody travels this way.”
“Shit!” Jiyong cursed loud enough to wake up the dead.
Sunghoon’s cell rang annoyingly and he dug inside his pocket for it. “Yeboseyo?”
“Jiyong?!”
Sunghoon handed the phone over to Jiyong. “Your mom.”
“What?” Jiyong growled.
“Jiyong, she came back!” Mrs. Ko lied.
“Man! You’re so full of it!” Jiyong hung up before his mother could even reply. “Let’s go. We’re wasting time.”
“You’re wasting my gas,” Jiwon pointed out.
“I’ll pay for it, don’t worry.”
“You’re talking to rich boy here,” Sunghoon reminded Jiwon. The cell sounded again and Sunghoon answered it as Jiyong pulled away, heading towards the highway. “Your mom said she had one of the servants drive Chomee home. He’s not back yet.”
“Which way?” Jiyong demanded.
“She hung up.”
“Dammit!”
“Suwon told me the other day she only knows the way home by boat,” Sunghoon said. “You think she knows how to get there by car?”
Jiyong shook his head. “She wouldn’t agree to a ride home. She’s probably on a boat or a bus.”
“I knew I should’ve had my airbags checked out! Put your seatbelts on! We’re gonna die!” Jiwon screamed.
“Hyung! You got insurance, right?!” Sunghoon shrieked.
Jiwon, too frightened to utter a word, bobbed his head slightly.
“Good! Once we find Chomee, we’re leaving them two behind!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee tugged on her luggage, now left all by herself. It was a weepy goodbye. She had to push the chauffeur away in order to get him to leave. He insisted on driving her home and she was grateful. But she felt so cold and uncomfortable. She sat down at a nearby bench and waited. The ferry runs quarterly. She peeked inside the small little house by the docks and sighed. It just left. There was nothing else to do but wait. She stared at her sandals and kicked at the small rocks by her suitcases.
Her mind was blank and suddenly the thought of Jiyong recovering invaded the vacancy. She couldn’t help but wonder if it was successful. She left when he was stripped of bandages and so she wasn’t certain whether or not he could fully see.
Besides, the doctor said he had a 50/50 chance due to the excessive blood loss. She sighed and hoped for the best.
Slight wind picked up and she tapped her feet on the ground. She was bored and wished that the ferry didn’t leave. She was so close to making it and it left. She folded her legs beneath her and sighed.
She was to wait. Again.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What’s gonna happen, ajuma?” Susan wailed, feeling rejected.
“You think I know?!” Mrs. Ko snapped. “Just wait and see. I’ll think of sumthin when they gets back.”
“Back?!” Susan shrieked.
“That’s what I said.”
“But…why?!” Susan cried.
“Don’t worry. She won’t stay.”

Chapter 37 

“STOP!!!!” Sunghoon hollered, his fist pounding on the head rest of the passenger seat.
Jiyong slammed on the brakes, screeching to a halt. “What?!”
“Go back!” Sunghoon commanded, his head turned back.
“Did I miss it?”
“Isn’t that one of the servants’ cars?”
Jiwon’s head turned and followed Sunghoon’s gaze as Jiyong threw the shift back and backed up till the car lined next to the broken down vehicle. “That’s the driver’s car.” He jumped out of the car and ran around it to the family driver. “Ajoshi!”
Startled, the driver looked up. “Master!”
“Why are you here?” Jiyong asked. He looked inside the car. Empty. “Where’s Chomee?”
“Miss Chomee? She’s on her way home.”
“I thought my mother said you were taking her home.”
“I was. Miss Chomee insisted on taking the boat.”
“Where’d you leave her?”
“Go further down and you’ll find a dirt road. Follow the dirt road and you’ll see the side of the dock.”
Jiyong ran off.
“What’s wrong?” the servant asked, sticking his head out the window.
“I gotta bring her back!” Jiyong yelled.
“Is something the matter?” the driver asked. “Puyin wants her back?”
“I want her back!” Jiyong replied. “Sunghoon’ll wait with you. He gotta phone and he can call for a tow truck. Just have it towed to my mother at the hospital!”
“What?! Why me?!”
“Cause you gotta phone,” Jiyong replied, slamming the door shut.
Sunghoon grumbled and got out. “At least I won’t have to worry about dying young.”
Jiyong drove off with Jiwon as soon as the door closed. Jiwon held onto the door as Jiyong breezed through the streets.
“You’ll find her. Stop driving so fast!” Jiwon said, bouncing as Jiyong ran over a speed bump.
“She probably left on the boat already!”
Jiwon realized what Jiyong said could be true. He kept quiet and kept his eyes on the road.
“Where’s the dock?”
“Find dirt road.”
Jiyong sighed. The only dirt road he knew of was still a ways to go.
“What are you gonna do when we find her?”
Jiyong considered the question. “Bring her back.”
“You sure?”
“Why?”
“What if she won’t agree?”
Jiyong pressed harder on the gas pedal, the needle on the speedometer going up. “I’ll bring her back.”
Jiwon remained silent.
“I’ll think of something.” And he raced down the road, thinking.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee looked up. Winds were picking up and the day was still stuffy. She looked out towards the ocean, the sea breeze drifting towards her. Only twenty minutes went by. She sighed and got to her feet. She stretched for a good five minutes and walked down the board walk. She left her belongings in front of the lodging house and continued her way down to the docks. She took a seat on the wooden flooring and allowed her legs to dangle over the edge. She looked up in the sky and frowned.
Such a pretty day.
Yet she couldn’t help but feel that something unexpected’s going to happen. Like something bad. She returned her eyes to the waters set out before her. Minutes. Only a while longer.
Where was the ferry?

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Jiyong..”
“Hmmm…”
Jiwon glanced at the tank again and sucked in his breath. His quick eyes caught the turn off and he directed Jiyong off the main road. “Jiyong…we’re running out of gas.”
“What the?!?” Jiyong muttered. His eyes trailed over the guaze and felt his heart stop. The needle was so close to the E margin and he loosened up on the gas. “Wasn’t this thing filled up?!”
“It was,” Jiwon replied, watching the needle faulter. It was shaking in between and as Jiyong slowed, the needle began to fall back a little. It still continued to lose gas and Jiyong tried his best to not go at a slower rate than he’s already going. “Isn’t there a station around here?”
“Not that I know of,” JIwon replied. He rode along and waited. He had expected for his car to stop any moment, but was surprised to find it lasting for quite a while. He kept his eyes out on the road for sight of Chomee while Jiyong looked on his side.
“Where is she?!” Jiyong muttered, squinting his eyes.
“You think she left?”
“I hope not. I dunno the way to her house. Or else I’d kidnapped her already and be on my way back home.”
“Well, the place looks empty. I think she left for real. There’s no ferry.”
Jiyong edged closer and found himself entering a lot. It was a parking lot. “We’ll find out. Maybe they can stop it. Or we could catch up.” Jiyong hurried and found a parking space by a few other cars. He hopped out of the car and braced himself against the car.
A gust of strong wind hurled past him as he tried to slam the door shut. The wind died down and he stretched his neck to see over the tall, wild bushes. Nothing. He couldn’t see over them. He ran along the bushes, trying to catch site of the main dock. What if Jiwon was right? What if Chomee left for real?
Chomee looked up, startled by the familiar sound. It was the ferry. She turned around and spotted the boat coming closer. Delighted, she jumped to her feet and watched it pull closer and closer to the dock. She picked up her luggage and hauled it after her to the dock, waiting for the ferry to stop fully. It was only moments later she’d reunite with her mother again. Only moments..
She waited as all the passengers got off and milled around before departing. Chomee leaned forward but was let down by a loud voice telling her the ferry won’t leave for another ten minutes. She sighed and plopped down on the wooden fixture. A ten minute delay…that seemed forever. She couldn’t wait another ten minutes just to go home and see her mother. Her heart was aching badly. Then her mind flew to Jiyong at the hospital. What would his reaction be if he found out she was gone? Would he blame it on Susan? Or his mother? Or would he do something stupid, like hurt himself? Or he could possibly forget her.
“Jiyong!” Jiwon gasped, trying to catch up. He tried shoving past the sudden mob of people that appeared, apparently all passengers of the ferry. “Jiyong, wait!”
Jiyong charged forward, Jiwon’s voice a million miles away. He couldn’t wait. What if the boat left already? His Chomee could be on that ferry right this minute, pulling away!
“KO JIYONG!” Jiwon bellowed, climbing up onto a statue. “STOP RIGHT THERE!”
“WHAT?!” Jiyong growled, pivoting on his heels. “What now?!”
“Jiyong!” Jiwon shouted. “Do you even know how she look like?!”
It came to him like a hard slap across the face. Jiyong felt the sudden blow of Jiwon’s inquiry and realized—no, he didn’t know how Chomee looked like. He was going after a girl he had never seen, never met visually. But..
“Hey! What the hell you doin?!” Jiwon screamed, jumping off the statue. He ran past the crowd and towards his car. “You fuckin bastard!”
Jiyong climbed onto a nearby railing and saw Jiwon slam a guy onto the trunk of his car.
“You fuckin ass! Wanna steal my car?!” Jiwon hollered into the thief’s ear. “Bitch! You gonna die!”
Jiyong chuckled to himself. He and Jiwon are so much alike. If anybody messes with their car, that person’s dead. Jiyong watched the entertaining scene for about another six minutes as Jiwon and the thief locked themselves in combat. He hopped off the railing and went on to search for the lodge house.
Chomee ended up the last in line as everybody filed onto the wobbly boat. She handed her suitcases over and stepped foot onto the ferry with a steady hand aiding her aboard. She sighed and looked back. It was the end.
Finally.
All over.
She was going home. To her mother. Alas.
Chapter 38 

Jiyong barged into the tiny house served as an office and gasped for breath. He found one desk but with nobody behind it. “Hey! Anybody here?!”
Still silence greeted him. Impatient, Jiyong turned to storm off but stopped when he heard a voice ask, “Looking for something?”
A middle aged man appeared through the back door and took the seat behind the desk. He adjusted the glasses he had on and picked up the day’s newspaper. He didn’t even bother casting a glance at Jiyong and cleared his throat.
“When’s the next boat coming in?” Jiyong demanded, not moving away from the spot near the door.
The man blinked and looked up. “It already did. It’s out there waiting. In fact, it came in early.”
“Did you see a girl with short hair, petite..” Jiyong hacked his brains out trying to think of something to describe Chomee. But he didn’t know how she looked like. “She’s going to Pusan.”
The man chuckled. “There’s so many girls that fit that description. I dunno which one you’re talking about.”
“She couldn’t have came in too long ago. Or left too long ago. Please tell me if you’ve seen her.”
“She could’ve left on the last boat or be on this one. The last boat left over twenty minutes already. You know when she left?”
Jiyong felt his heart sank. The density of the words were dragging his heart down…down..down..
“I would suggest you go out there and look for her instead of standing in here. If you know where you’re supposed to meet her, then get on that boat. It’s leaving in two minutes.”
“Two?!” Jiyong shouted. He flew out the door and halted midway. He rushed back to the door and yelled, “Where’s the boat?!”
“Follow the strip. You’ll see it.”
Jiyong followed the man’s directions and ran along the path that lead to the dock. There it was, a boat floating upon murky waters. He jogged along and soon came before the rocking boat. It wasn’t small for a boat. “This leaving soon?”
“Another ten minutes,” the man standing by the boat answered.
Jiyong nodded and got ready to step aboard when a girl suddenly appeared before him and bumped into him, causing him to hold onto the bars by the sides of the boat for support.
Chomee gasped as she tilted sideways, nearly tripping over her bags. An arm grabbed her and steadied her as the boat wobbled on the water. She turned around to thank the person…not expecting to find the person was someone she knew.
“I’m sorry,” Jiyong apologized. “I didn’t see you.”
Chomee gulped, too terrified to speak. How did he find her? He was supposed to be at the hospital. How…
Jiyong stared back at the girl, a strong grip of curiousity coursing through his mind. Why was she staring at him that way? “Are you alright?”
Snapping out of her daze, Chomee nodded and kept her head down. He could see. His operation went well. But..but the doctor had just told her it was impossible for Jiyong to regain vision..then..what happened? She reached down to pick up her bag that was toppled over and was suprised to find Jiyong’s hand right next to hers. She was baffled and stood facing him.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock it over,” Jiyong apologized again, handing the suitcase over.
Chomee accepted the luggage and bowed. She kept her eyes low and turned to proceed further into the boat until a sudden cry from Jiyong froze her in her tracks.
“Chomee!”
Chomee felt her eyes bulge and her heart suspended. She didn’t dare to move nor breathe. She closed her eyes and stood very still, hoping it was all a mistake. Jiyong couldn’t have known it was her. He never saw how she looked like. She left before the bandages were completely removed. He couldn’t..he couldn’t…
Jiyong nearly choked, hearing what he had just said. The name came out so…randomly..it surprised him too. But now that the mute before him stopped, he noticed what he had failed to notice before.
Petite. Short cropped hair.
Chomee.
“Chomee!” Jiyong repeated. He took two steps and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder. He reeled her around and stared into her face. “You’re Chomee!”
With her heart in her throat, Chomee immediately starting shaking her head. No, no, no..I’m not Chomee. How could…how did he know?
“You are Chomee!” Jiyong declared, taking the girl’s hand.
“I’m sorry, sir. You’ve mistaken,” Chomee finally choked out, on the verge of tears. She tried pulling away but Jiyong held on tighter.
“You are Chomee,” he whispered. It had to be. He gasped quietly . It was her. She was standing in front of him…denying him.
Chomee blinked, hoping the tears wouldn’t show. She tried backing up but Jiyong won’t budge.
“You’re Chomee,” he murmured. “You are! Don’t lie to me!”
Chomee shook her head. “I’m sorry.” Her hand slipped away as she took a step back. She didn’t care about her belongings anymore. She just wanted to get away. Far, far away.
It all came clear to him. All in a heap. He started spewing a hundred words per minute, his emotion in a frezy. “No, you are Chomee. I know you’re Chomee. You have to be Chomee. I recognize your voice, Chomee! You can’t lie about that!”
Chomee gasped. He was right. He may not know how she looked like, but he knew how she sounded like.
“I was blind, Chomee. Blind! Not deaf! I know your voice! And your hand! When I handed you your suitcase, I know I touched those hands before! Only Chomee has those hands!”
The time stopped. She had completely forgotten about her voice. She had just given herself away. She was perfectly fine until she said something. But what bothered her was..where was his mother? She had expected Jiyong’s mother to be tailing him, but so far the woman made no show. What was going on?
“Chomee…” Jiyong started. “Why are you leaving me?”
Chomee shook her head. She had to make him believe he got the wrong person. “I dunno what you’re talking about. I’m not Chomee. Leave me alone.”
“Stop lying to me, Chomee! I’ve already told you! I know who you are! My mother’s not here and she won’t stop me from bringing you back! You can come back with me!”
Chomee gave Jiyong a quizzical look. Go back? She wanted to go home, where her mother was. She couldn’t be at both places. Jiyong’s mother terminated her services. What good would it be if Jiyong brought her back? Mrs. Ko would still find a way to get rid of her. “I..I have to go home…”
Jiyong took a step back. “What did you say?”
Chomee sniffled as she replied, “I’m leaving. I need to be at home.”
At least she’s not denying she’s not Chomee, Jiyong thought. “But..youare at home!”
Chomee shook her head. “No! My home’s with my mom! I want to see her now!”
Jiyong, surprised by the sudden tear of emotion, stepped aside. What Chomee had said just made him realize he was selfish. He had forgotten about Chomee’s ill mother. Chomee had left home to work for him and he’s trying to keep her away from her own mother. “But…”
Chomee sighed. “Go home. Your mother and everybody’s waiting.”
Jiyong stood aloof, not sure of how to respond. He didn’t want ot leave. He came all the way out here to bring her back and she’s going to leave him all the same? No. “Not unless you’re coming with me.”
Exasperated, Chomee threw her hands up. When was the ferry leaving? It felt like a million years had gone by and they hadn’t set sail yet. “Jiyong! You have a family that loves you! Go back home to them. They will take care of you. You once told me that once you’re cured, your mother would want you back and live with her. Plus, you can see now…why else would you need me?”
“You don’t get it!” Jiyong cried, raising his voice. “My mother’s blind! Susan’s blind! Everybody in this goddamn world is blind!”
Chomee shrank back.
“But you, Chomee. You’re not like them. You accepted me. My mother didn’t. She loves me, but she’s blinded
by her love for me. She so badly wanted for things to get better for me, she ignored my needs and hired somebody else to take care of her problems. She couldn’t handle the fact that I wasn’t perfect and that I was an invalid. And I can’t have a Susan in my life now that there’s a Chomee.”
“But..Susan…” Chomee managed to mumble.
“She only liked me, materialistically. She didn’t care about me. You did. I may have been blind physically. But you opened my eyes. I wasn’t going to accept myself, didn’t want to. But then you did. You didn’t pity me. You cared for me, about me and my welfare. Someone I don’t even know cared about me while my family treats me like I’m another hobo off the streets.”
Chomee swallowed her ters.
“I’ve never seen tears before. At least not real tears.”
Chomee bit her lip as a tear trickled down her left cheek.
“I guess you’re really unlike everybody I know.”
“Oma…” Chomee whispered. “I want my mommy.”
“I know you do.”
“I have to go home,” Chomee continued in her soft voice.
“Are you coming back?” Jiyong asked hopefully.
“Maybe. Depends on my mother. I can’t be too far from her.”
Jiyong remained silent, thinking.
Chomee spun around and headed for a seat inside the boat. Her heart was aching. She was torn between her mother and Jiyong. She felt guilty for leaving both when they most needed her, guilty for lying to both. Guilty for all the troubles she caused.
“You go to school here, don’t you?” Jiyong asked abruptly.
Chomee blinked, her mind blank. “Y-Yeah..”
“Your oma’s at home?”
Chomee nodded, facing the entrance of the boat. “I gotta go…”
“Let’s go!” Jiyong cried, picking up Chomee luggage.
“Where?” Chomee asked, baffled.
“Wait here,” Jiyong told her. He reached for her luggage and her bags.
“What are you doing?” Chomee cried, running after Jiyong.
With his long legs, he made it back to JIwon’s car in a matter of seconds and dumped Chomee’s belongings in the trunk.
“She’s coming back?” Jiwon asked, watching Jiyong.
“Drop this off at my house. We’ll be back,” Jiyong said hastily and returned to the boat. “Don’t wait up!”
“Wh-What’d you do that for?!” Chomee demanded, trying to push past Jiyong.
“We’re going home,” Jiyong said instead. “We’re gonna go get your oma.”
“What?!”
“Come,” Jiyong said quietly, pulling Chomee along.
“What’s going on?” Chomee inquired, letting Jiyong drag her.
“We’re gonna help your mother pack up. I’m gonna move back home anyway now that my mom may want me back. The house’s going to be vacant and nobody’s gonna use it. You’ve going to school here. Your mom’s in Pusan. You want her close by, don’t you?”
Chomee nodded again. She tried to comprehend what Jiyong was saying but he was going too fast.
“Since I dunno anybody down in Pusan and all my mother’s connections are up here. I say you and your mother should move in and stay. Permanently.”
Chomee halted just as she gasped. Permanently…the word echoed over and over in her head. She started shaking her head, whispering, “No,” again and again. She couldn’t stay forever. He wanted to hold her hostage.
“What do you mean, no?!” Jiyong exclaimed. “Since your mom’s ill, you have to attend school here, you might as well have her move in with you.”
“No…”
“Chomee! What’s wrong with you?! This is the best solution for all of us!”
Chomee blinked. Solution? All of them? She didn’t get it. How was it the best? She was already in debt. Her mother’s hospital bill, her tuition, and if she moved in..how would she pay for the living expenses? “How would it be best? It’s only a good solution for you.”
Jiyong grew silent at the accusation. He led Chomee to two empty seats as the boat pulled away. “You, here. Your mother, there. If the both of you lived together and closer to the city, wouldn’t it be better?”
Chomee agreed. Of course, it’d be better. But how would that be any good? They were financially challenged!
“There are more doctors in the city, and I could help you better.”
It took Chomee a moment to answer. “But why? Why would you want to help me?”
Jiyong lowered his head into his hands, the question annoying him. Wasn’t it obvious enough? He liked her! She guided him through his worst and most fragile times and she won’t accept his thanks by having him help her. “You helped me. Why can’t I help you?”
“But..I got paid for it. You don’t need to help me,” Chomee stated stiffly.
“It’s not even about you. Think of your mother.”
Chomee felt the hairs on her neck stand straight. Jiyong was right. She had her mother to think about. Living conditions back at home wasn’t any better than the hospital her mother was staying in. If they moved into Jiyong’s house…things would be so much better. Her mother would be happier and probably a lot healthier.
“Since my mother bought the house more than seven years ago, it’s been empty till I moved in. It’s been left idle so long, they haven’t even considered selling it. Since I’ll be moving home again, it’s going to be left alone anyway. What difference does it make if someone else lives in it? Make good use of it rather than standing empty and rotting away with dust?”
“But..I don’t have the money to pay for rent,” Chomee said softly.
Jiyong gaped at Chomee. “Who said anything about paying? I’m giving the house to you for free!”
Chomee turned to Jiyong with her eyes wide. “What?!”
“I’m the only person that’ve lived there, so you can say that’s my house, right?”
Chomee nodded.
“Then it’s like I’m saying you can have my house. Who said I can’t do that? Besides, my parents have more property than they can handle. Losing one house they didn’t even bother for years isn’t gonna make a difference to their wealth.”
“But…it’s so big!”
Jiyong shrugged. “Have other people move in with you. A majority of the servants there can stay and service you. Since our house’s overcrowded as is.”
Chomee kept silent as Jiyong went on talking. He painted such a beautiful picture with his words. Everything just seemed so perfect.
Just like the fairy tales.
But she wasn’t ready to accept all that’s going to happen. Everything was happening all too fast and she was locked in a hurricane. Where was her say in this? What about her mother? They were thrown into this pit too suddenly to react. Now Jiyong’s coming home with her and they were to bring her mother back. What if her mother disagrees? What if she declined the offer? Jiwon has her things and…
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, watching Chomee.
Chomee shook her head and smiled. “Nothing. We better nap. It’s going to be a long ride home.”

Chapter 39 

Mrs. Ko paced around the hospital room, enraged. “You idiots!”
Miyoung stuck her tongue out at Susan, who in return rolled her eyes. Everybody was silent as their eyes wandered through the room. Jaejin and Jaeduk had left already in search of food while Miyoung and Suwon stayed behind, hoping Jiyong and Chomee would return soon.
However, Sunghoon and Jiyong’s driver returned with the tow truck and Mrs. Ko paid off the services while Susan sat by herself, fuming at the failed plan.
Sunghoon pulled on Miyoung’s hair and motioned for her to get up out of her seat. She looked up and gently kicked Suwon’s leg, motioning for the door. All three of them exchanged glances and slowly looked towards the Ko household.
Mrs. Ko was livid, while Susan was making funny faces and everybody was just sitting around. Miyoung quietly got to her feet just as Suwon rose to his. Together, the three of them tiptoed to the door and slipped outside. They leaned against the wall and sighed. They stood around for a few minutes before Sunghoon broke the silence.
“What now?”
“I say we leave. I doubt Jiyong’ll be back anytime soon,” Miyoung replied, checking her watch. “On top of it, he doesn’t know how she look like.”
Sunghoon shook his head. “Jiwon hyung’s with him, remember?”
“Oh, yeah…” Suwon murmured in agreement. “So…what we do now?”
“Go eat!” Miyoung replied in a cheery voice. “Where’s Jaejin?!”
Sunghoon let Suwon and Miyoung drag him off with them once they contacted Jaejin and Jaeduk.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong stirred as the boat thumped to a halt by the dock. He slowly opened his eyes and saw masses of people moving ahead. He gently shook Chomee awake as more people from the back poured through the cloth that hung over the doorway. Chomee stiffled a yawn as she pried her eyes open.
She was home.
Jiyong helped her up and they shuffled along with the crowd, everybody eager to jump off the ferry. They were all tired, hungry and their bodies ached. Jiyong and Chomee held onto each other as late noon began to settle. Jiyong looked around for a clock and asked for the time. It was four.
“We have to hurry,” Jiyong told Chomee, who was still looking around her. “Chomee?”
“Huh?” Chomee uttered, her eyes flying to Jiyong. Her mind was still a million miles away, thinking of her mother’s reactions to all this. She felt guilty without discussing it first with her mother and now…
“What’s wrong?”
A breeze lifted Chomee’s bangs from her face, clearing her mind as it drifted by. She shook her head and turned to Jiyong. She smiled meakly at him and brushed her hair aside. “Nothing. Let’s go.”
Jiyong looked around him, noticing people were still hanging around. He followed Chomee away from the people and out to a busy street. She was walking a quite a speed and he had to make long strides in order to keep up. For somebody that has short legs, Chomee was fast. “Isn’t there a bus or anything around here?”
Chomee turned back to glance at Jiyong. She remembered that he never left the boundaries of his home and that he never had access to the outside world. He hasn’t walked as much as she has and he probably wasn’t used to walking since he had rides to practically everywhere. “There’s one that takes up further into the city, but that’s too far away from my house.”
Jiyong halted on the sidewalk, his hands on his hips.
Chomee stopped too once she realized Jiyong wasn’t following her any more. She opened her mouth to ask why but stopped short wen she saw him dash out to the street. Her eyes grew wide, a scream stuck in her throat.
Jiyong ran out to the middle of the street.
He threw himself in front of a vehicle that stopped only a few centimeters away. The driver was clearly scared out of his mind. Jiyong called out to Chomee and waved for her to go over to him. She released a relieved sigh, realizing he hailed a cab. She quickly ran over to him as he got inside the cab. She climbed in and slammed the door shut as the driver as for the destination.
“The hospital,” Chomee answered without a thought.
“The hospital?” Jiyong echoed, his eyes full of question.
Chomee stilled as the driver pulled away, the question hanging in between her and Jiyong. “My mother’s still at the hospital. She hasn’t been released.”
“Is she well enough to leave?”
“I think so. She should be. She’s been in there for quite a few days.”
“No, wait!” Chomee screamed. “Stop! Don’t go to the hospital!”
“What? Why?”
“I need to go home,” Chomee said. “I need to get clothes for my mother. And other things too.”
The driver stopped at the next light and made a U-Turn and headed for Chomee’s house. The rest of the ride home was mostly silent. Chomee carefully planned out a greeting and how she’ll tell her mother of the sudden move. Jiyong stared out the window at the scenary that flew by, for once appreciating the ability to see. Chomee was right. He had nothing to lose. He had it all but now he’ll lose Chomee if her mother declines the offer.
He looked over to Chomee, who seemed to be deep in thought. Maybe she was thinking the same thing. He could tell she really wanted the best for her mother. He turned his eyes away and stared out the window again. He could only pray that God would be letting.

Chapter 40 

Jiwon pulled up before the small diner, a popular hangout in the area. His stomach was growling like a bitch and he hopped out of his car, pocketing his phone in his jeans. He hurried into the small restaurant, in hopes of grabbing something to go, but slowed when he heard loud familiar laughter drifting to his ears. He looked around the place and found no one he knew in particular and continued his way to the order line.
“Shut up!” Miyoung shrieked, throwing strips of fries at Sunghoon. She laughed harder as Sunghoon went on telling everybody about an embarrassing moment she had in the past. “I’ll tell them about you running off into the girls’ room!”
Jaeduk and Jaejin hooted with laughter as Sunghoon caught some fries with his mouth.
Jiwon turned his head slightly in the direction of the merriment. The laughter and voices were all so familiar, but he couldn’t pinpoint who it was. He ordered fries and a burger, along with a large drink. It should be enough to fill him up. He sat down at a nearby booth and sighed. He still had quite a way to go. He began to wonder what Sunghoon and the rest were doing when the loud laughter erupted again.
His drink came and he thanked the waitress as he stabbed his straw into the cover of the drink. It was six and he hasn’t heard from Jiyong yet. He thought about Mrs. Ko’s reaction to all of this and smirked. There was a Susan in the story too.
“Noooooooo!” Miyoung howled. “Dammit! Fine! You all won’t believe this gay pervert ran into the girls’ room — ”
Alarmed, Sunghoon jumped to his feet and clamped a hand down over Miyoung’s mouth. “Shhhhhhhh!!!”
Miyoung pried his hand away and started shouting. “He ran in there — ”
Sunghoon sat down and kicked Miyoung beneath the table, causing her to scream with pain. “That’s what you get.”
“You fuckin bitch!” Miyoung bellowed. She took the remainder of her food and tossed it at Sunghoon, causing the lettuce to come apart and scatter all over Sunghoon and the cushioned seat. She kicked him back and stuck her tongue out, making Jaeduk squeal at the sight.
Suwon laughed at the scene and calmed Miyoung down as Sunghoon rubbed his legs. He excused himself and headed off to the restroom, halting along the way when he noticed a guy that looked remarkably like Jiwon from behind. He approached the guy, but stepped back when the guy suddenly got out of the booth and turned about.
They stared at each other in utter shock, crying in unison. “Hyung!”
“Suwon!”
“What are you doing here?!” they chorused, pointing their fingers at each other. “Eating.”
Jiwon laughed at the scenario. It was rare having to have somebody saying the same thing as you at the same time. But it happens. “Where’s everybody?”
“They’re all over there,” Suwon replied, pointing further into the diner. “Where’s Jiyong? Is he back?”
Jiwon shook his head. “I’m going back. He wanted me to drop off his stuff and I stopped here cuz I’m hungry.”
Suwon nodded. “I see. Well, we’re almost done. We might as well all go together. We all got tired of waiting at the hospital so we left and went to eat. Then we were hoping that Jiyong would be back soon and we were gonna head off to his place and wait there.”
Jiwon nodded. “Sounds good.”
“I’ll be back!” Suwon ran off into the restroom, leaving Jiwon behind. The waitress showed up with Jiwon’s wrapped up food and Jiwon thanked her as he picked up his drink. Suwon returned shortly and they went to the noisy booth occupied by everybody else, thinking of how to get back to Jiyong’s house.
“Jiwon!” Miyoung cried, surprised. She looked around him for signs of her roommate. “You’re here! Where’s Chomee? I thought you and Jiyong went to get her.”
Jiwon shook his head again. “Jiyong did. I didn’t.”
It took a few minutes for the words to register. “B-B-But..”
“How’s he gonna get back?!” Jaeduk hooted, spinning Jiwon around. “Haha! You didn’t see me, did you?!”
Jiwon shrugged. “I dunno. And would it have mattered if I did see you? Your big ass’s everywhere I go!”
Jaeduk’s grin brightened. “You like my ass, don’t you?
Jaejin laughed. He got up and left with Suwon to pay for the bill while everybody else chattered on. They got ready and left the small restaurant together, all eager to get to Jiyong’s house. Jaejin and Jaeduk followed Jiwon to his car while Miyoung and Sunghoon followed Suwon. Everybody piled in respectively and Suwon led the way to Jiyong’s house. He raced with Jiwon for a couple of miles, other times, just riding along with the evening traffic.
The ride to the mansion was mostly silent (in both cars). Miyoung fell asleep in the front seat, her head lolled off to the right side of the headrest while Sunghoon stared out the window at the scenary that flew by. Suwon sighed every now and then, bored throughout the ride. Occassionally, he’d look out the window over to Jiwon’s car to see what was going on with the other three. He could see Jiwon was in the situation as he was in. Jaeduk fell asleep in the back and Jaejin just kept his eyes on the road.
When they arrived at the mansion, the sun was still shining bright and mighty. It was late in the afternoon and the sun’s close to ending its hours. Suwon gently shook Miyoung awake as everybody in Jiwon’s car got out and helped with Chomee’s things. Miyoung stumbled out of Suwon’s car with Sunghoon helping her and they all approached the silent house. It was awkward entering a home without its owner there to permit entry. Miyoung hugged herself and gave the huge door a glance. She nudged Sunghoon and nodded at the door. He stepped closer and rapped loudly on the hollow door.
Everybody waited for a servant to appear and it seemed a lifetime later that Ajuma appeared at the door, holding it at arm’s length. Once she saw it was the children, she opened the door all the way. She stuck her head out, looking for signs of Jiyong.
“Where’s the master?”
Miyoung yawned. “Don’t worry. Chomee’s taking good care of the young master. We got orders from him to move in. So, we’re here.”
Ajuma stepped aside and allowed the kids in, closing the door securely behind them. She followed them to the guest room, where they left Chomee’s things in the middle of the spacious room. “Aren’t those Chomee’s?”
“Yeah. Jiyong wanted me to bring them back. Where’s her room?” Jiwon asked, stretching.
“B-B-But…” Ajuma trailed off. She pointed in the direction of Chomee’s room, her mind going in a million directions. She didn’t argue and retreated to completing her chores. She assumed Jiyong must’ve told them to stay until he returns. But when will he return? His mother phoned time after time, asking if he came home yet. She didn’t know what happened earlier and didn’t bother asking. It wasn’t her business to question what happened so she left it at that. “Are you all hungry?”
One by one, they all shook their heads. They smiled politely and thanked Ajuma for asking. Miyoung answered her and told her they had eaten before coming by.
“You might as well watch some tv. There isn’t much to do here,” Ajuma said frankly, looking about. It was true. Since Jiyong was blind, there wasn’t much for him to do. He couldn’t watch, wouldn’t listen…the household was mostly quiet. “If you’re tired, you could sleep in one of the rooms upstairs.”
“It’s okay. We’ll wait. We want to be the first ones to know when he’s ready to come home.”
Ajuma raised a brow, yet didn’t ask a question. She was right. She knew right when she first laid eyes on Chomee, Chomee’d be the one to save them all. God had sent the girl to them. To Jiyong most of all. “I suppose you all will be staying for dinner?”
Miyoung and the rest of the guys traded glances and shrugged it off. “Yeah, I suppose…”
Ajuma nodded and went off to the kitchen. For once, she was actually glad the day was going by slowly.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong tipped the driver and stood upright, watching the driver drive off. Chomee stood behind Jiyong and watched the tail lights fade away before pulling Jiyong after her, leading him towards her home. Jiyong followed along, gripping Chomee’s hand tightly in his as she continued on before him, bearing off to her left. Jiyong pulled back slightly, his face masked with bewilderment as he looked directly before him, where Chomee was about to walk into.
Chomee looked back and smiled. She pushed forward and walked into the thick mounds of bushes, slowly walking down the trail. Jiyong hesitated, not given any options, he quickly dove forward before anybody could spot him. He winced at the sudden scratches that came in contact with his bare skin, the branches close to stabbing his eyes out. He bit down on his lip and stepped through the small path he spotted as he looked down. Ahead, he saw Chomee a few feet away and closer to getting out. He quickened his pace and rammed into her as they stumbled out into the clearing. He held onto Chomee, preventing them from falling to the ground.
They brushed off their clothes and hair, freeing themselves from twigs and leaves. Chomee helped straighten out Jiyong’s hair before starting off in the direction of her home. They walked in silence. Occassionally looking about them at the birds and trees, other than that, nothing happened. Jiyong stole sideway glances at Chomee, wondering what she had planned. Shortly he was engulfed in his own thoughts, Chomee halted a few steps before him, peering at the low concrete buildings before her.
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, glancing at the ugly tanned color building.
“I forgot which one my mother lives in,” Chomee confessed, frowning. She pointed a finger to the building on her left and then moved it to the right. She moved it back and forth several times before spotting something that was invisible to Jiyong’s eyes. “C’mon!”
Jiyong nodded as he went after her to the building on the left. Chomee dashed through the door, gently tapping on the inner door that lead to the insides of her abode. She fished out a set of keys and selected the correct one and inserted it into the key hole. With a turn, the door swung open, dull walls greeting them. Chomee hurried in, leaving Jiyong behind in his own world.
Jiyong leaned against the doorframe, observing the tasteless room. It was very, very gray and still. He waited for Chomee to reappear and whistled quietly to entertain himself. After a few minutes later, Chomee appeared before him, her expression one of worry.
“I can’t find it,” she said softly to herself. She looked around her, her eyes not catching sight of the key. She crouched down and placed her head in between her hands and rocked herself.
“What can’t you find?” Jiyong asked, watching Chomee think.
Chomee remained silent with her eyes closed as she thought of every possible hiding place her mother could think of. She shook her head, her hair flying freely as she moaned. “Where is it?!”
“What are you looking for?” Jiyong repeated.
Chomee looked up. “My mother’s car key.”
Jiyong raised a brow. “I didn’t know your mother has a car.”
Chomee nodded. “She does. It’s a Lexus.”
Jiyong whistled. “Shall we find the key?”
Chomee hopped to her feet as she followed Jiyong outside, answering his questions as they walked around aimlessly. She told him where the car was parked and led him to it.
Jiyong eyed the lock. “I say we hot wire it.”
“No!” Chomee shouted. “I can’t!”
“I will. I’ll pay for the damages.”
“Still can’t!” Chomee said stubbornly. She blocked Jiyong’s view of the car and shook her head vigorously. “I’m not supposed to know it’s here. And most of all, I’m not supposed to touch it, let alone drive it.”
Jiyong peeked at the car. “I can see why.”
“Just help me find the key!”
Jiyong stepped past Chomee and walked around the car, feeling her eyes on him. He dropped to his knees and faced the door of the passenger seat. He placed his hand under the car, feeling for the key. It was a trick he had learned way back when he was a kid. He saw Jiwon’s older brothers did it with their cars and picked up on the trick a few years later. People who usually abandon their cars usually hide their keys within the car or somewhere on the car. He pawed around a while longer until he felt something of a strange pattern around the rear tire and ducked his head under the car.
Surely, there is was. The key.
He yanked the key out and stood up, waving the key at Chomee. She jumped and ran over to him, checking to see if it was the real key. She quickly nodded her head as Jiyong hurried over to the driver’s end of the ride and opened the door, unlocking the passenger side for Chomee to get in. He started the engine and they soon left for the hospital.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Oma!” Chomee greeted happily.
“Chomee?” Jinjoo whispered, her eyes fluttering open at the voice. “Chomee?”
“Oma!” Chomee repeated, hurrying to her mother’s side. “Oma! I’m home!”
“Chomee..” Jinjoo whispered, unable to believe her eyes. Her daughter was standing before her…with a gentleman.
Chomee followed her mother’s gaze and introduced her to Jiyong. “Oma, this is Ko Jiyong.”
Jiyong, well taught with manners, bowed before the woma. “Ahnyong haseyo.”
Jinjoo blinked. The…rich kid? “Ko…Jiyong?”
“Hi, ajooma,” Jiyong replied.
“Chomee…what are you doing with him?” Jinjoo asked abruptly.
Chomee hesitated. “We’re here…”
“To take you home,” Jiyong finished.
“Home?”
“The doctor said there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just exhausted from overworking. Oma..what did I tell you about working?” Chomee scolded.
“You need money for next year,” her mother protested weakly.
“But Oma! I told you not to worry. I’m working in school. They offer us summer jobs,” Chomee explained to her mother again.
“It’s not enough,” her mother whispered. “It’s never enough…”
Chomee remained silent as her mother closed her eyes to rest. She looked over to Jiyong, regretting she ever took the job.
“So, when do we leave?” Jinjoo inquired moments later, her eyes still closed.
“Whenever you’re ready, Oma.”
Jinjoo pried her eyes open. Chomee…so small and tiny…such a pain to watch her daughter grow up without all the things other girls had. She was so..giving and obedient, two things Jinjoo’s most grateful for. She loves her daughter, she’d give everything away just to keep Chomee by her side. “I’m ready.”
Chomee smiled. “Oma! You’re gonna love our new house!”
Jinjoo froze. New house? “What?”
“It’s a new place, it’s closer to school and the area’s quiet. Beautiful scenary, the place is nice and peaceful. Oma, you don’t have to worry about me all the time now. You can live with me!” Chomee said all in one breath.
“Oh…” It was too sudden, but she was happy. She could see Chomee everyday. That was all it took, she agreed.
“I’ll get the doctor,” Jiyong offered. He left the mother and daughter alone, in search of a doctor.
Once Jiyong disappered, Jinjoo asked,” What are you doing with him?”
Chomee stared blankly at her mother. “Well..we’re here to take you home, Oma.”
“Chomee, you know what I mean. How’d you get involved with him?”
“Involved? Oma, it’s not like that!”
“He goes to school with you?”
“No.”
“How’d you meet him?”
“Through Miyoung.”
“How long have you known him?”
“For a couple of months.”
Jinjoo nodded. She trusted her daughter and she knows Chomee wouldn’t lie. Would she?
A doctor entered shortly with a clipboard and asked a few questions. He quickly scribbled down the replies and announced, “You’re free to go.” He departed, tending to his other duties.
Chomee helped her mother out of bed and out of the hospital gown and brought her downstairs to meet with Jiyong. “We’re going home first.”
Jinjoo nodded.
“We’re going to pack up first and then leave. Oma?”
“Don’t we need furniture and such?” Jinjoo wondered as Chomee and Jiyong led her to her Lexus. “What’s…isn’t that our car, Cho…”
“Yes, Oma. I let Jiyong drove it because we didn’t have any way to get here. I found the key under the tire. I’m sorry, Oma,” Chomee apologized. She knew her mother kept the car hidden, in fear of the past.
Jinjoo patted Chomee’s hands. “It’s alright. As long as you’re safe.” They all got into the Lexus and Jiyong drove off, racing through the small streets. Night was close to falling and Jiyong pulled up in front of the small, raggedy apartment building.
“We’re home, Oma,” Chomee told her mother quietly.
Jinjoo, who had her eyes closed, opened them with surprise. “Already?!”
“Yes, Jiyong drives fast,” Chomee answered with a proud smile.
Jinjoo observed the smile. It was one of true happiness. She nodded and allowed the two children to help her out of the car and into her home.
It was small, very empty. Since Chomee attend school in Seoul, there wasn’t much need for furniture or any other accessories. It was a one room apartment, other than the kitchen, there was a bed and television and a phone right over the top of the set. A clock laid on the bed, ticking away softly, remind them they had to hurry back into the city.
“There isn’t much to take,” Jinjoo started as she entered the room. “But..but..” She headed to the closet and fumbled around the bottom of the closet.
“But what, Oma?” Chomee asked, kneeling beside her mother.
“This,” Jinjoo whispered, holding up a small box.
“What is it?” Jiyong asked curiously.
Jinjoo held the box close to her heart and turned to Chomee. “Still remember your father?”
Chomee nodded vehemently.
“He asked me to give this to you. Your father wasn’t a bad man. He wanted the best for all of us. Don’t hate him for leaving us,” Jinjoo said, cupping Chomee’s adoring face. “Your Appa loves us. He lost his life because of this. Not because he owed money.”
Chomee’s wide eyes grew wider. “What?”
Jinjoo handed the box to Chomee, who accepted it eagerly. “Don’t open it.”
Chomee looked up. “Why not?”
“Your father asked me not to give it to you till you’re twenty-five. Hopefully, you’ll forgive him for leaving us.”
Chomee was confused. “Appa..knew?”
Jinjoo could only smile. “Jiyong, dear, could you help me with that?” She pointed to the suitcase by the far end of the closet.
Jiyong raised a brow. “Sure.”
Chomee watched Jiyong pick up the suitcase and left. “Oma—”
“You always have to be ready,” Jinjoo replied, cutting Chomee off. “You always have to have backup.”
Chomee smiled and looked at the white gift box in her hands. She’ll forgive him. As long as what’s in the box was worth the suicide. She turned to Jinjoo, her arms stretched out to walk her mother out the door. Out to the world again, out of hiding…moving one last time.
Epilogue 

Jinjoo slowly recovered and learned of what happened during that summer when Chomee was away. It pained her to have found out that her daughter was a servant and had to stoop so low just to earn money for her medical bills.
Chomee continued school and Jiyong moved back home to live with his mother. However, his servants stayed under his command to serve Chomee and her mother. Miyoung moved in with Chomee shortly after Jiyong moved out and got back with Suwon.
Susan left for the States, embarrassed now that Jiyong’s made up his mind about her. He wanted to be with Chomee. That was that.
Chomee never knew what was contained in the box. She was certain it was the answer to the cause of her father’s death. It probably was the cause. But she was afraid of bringing up the past. She still has a few more years till twenty-five, she’ll wait. Afterall, curiousitydid kill the cat.
Jiyong’s mother learned that she was blinded by her own love for her son. She thought she had given him everything but then realized all she did was hurt him. In the end, it wasn’t Jiyong that was blind—it was everybody around him that was.
Chomee—her undying love and support for her mother. She didn’t realize all and everything she did was because of Jinjoo.
Susan—materialistically, she was blinded by her love for Jiyong’s wealth and property.
Mrs. Ko—power and her son. She was on top of the world until Jiyong broke it to her: she didn’t love him. Chomee did.
Chomee’s father—his love for money killed him. The present he had prepared for Chomee was the very thing that led to his ultimate death and he spent his whole entire lifetime getting it. He wanted to so many things for his family, but in the end, he lost more than gain.
“Do you think things were meant to be?” Jiyong asked one day while he was visiting.
“Hmm..” Chomee paused, thinking. “I guess so, why?”
“Do you believe in luck?”
“No, not really. Why?”
“I do.”
“Why?”
“If you hadn’t came along, I’d still be blind. Susan’d still be here, my mom would still leave me here and you would still be God knows where looking for a job and your mom would still be sick.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Chomee?”
“Yes?”
“What do you think of…” Jiyong trailed off.
“Of?” Chomee prompted, flipping a page of her book.
Jiyong quickly thought of something else and said the first thing that came to mind. “Uhhh..children?”
“They’re lovely.”
“Yes..well..”
“Why? You wanna become a pediatrician, too?”
“Nah, I hate babies.”
Chomee laughed. “What is it?”
“I was wondering…”
Jinjoo sauntered to the door, attentive of the conversation. She leaned against the door, silently watching the two children. She had a feeling this day would come. Her Chomee all grown up, Jiyong not so young himself. Not a bad child, coming from rich folks.
Chomee closed her book and focused her attention on Jiyong. “Wondering?”
Jiyong froze. The question right at the tip of his tongue, but it quickly rolled off and another came in place instead. “When’s school over?”
Jinjoo rolled her eyes and smiled. Jiyong was just as shy and timid. She chuckled merrily to herself.
“Uhh..I believe I still have two more years left,” Chomee replied, sitting back in her chair.
“Ohh…”
Jinjoo left the doorway and retreated back to her room. “Some day, Jiyong…Some day…”
“Well..I’m going home—”
“So soon?” Chomee asked, surprised.
“Yeah..my mom wants me to be home when my sister calls,” Jiyong lied.
“I see. Drive safely,” Chomee teased.
Jiyong gave her a weary smile. “I will.”
Chomee returned her dimple smile and waved as Jiyong headed outside. In the garden, Suwon and Miyoung were conversating amongst themselves.
“You think?”
“I dunno why. He told me he likes her!” Suwon exclaimed, watching Jiyong’s tall figure leave the building. “Why?! Why won’t he just ask her?!”
“Hmm..I dunno..why didn’t you ask me before?” Miyoung asked coyly.
“We were different!” Suwon protested. “They have every right to be together! And if Jiyong doesn’t ask her..”
“What!?” Miyoung demanded.
“Sunghoon might,” Suwon answered with a wink.
They stared at each other, a plan brewing in their minds. It was the same number Sunghoon and Susan pulled on them a few years back. They shared the same smirk when they reached their final verdict. “It’s payback time,” they chorused.
Chomee returned to her reading and her mother appeared by her side. “Oma!”
“Chomee..about Jiyong…”
Chomee closed her book again and sat up straight.
“He’s not a bad boy.”
“Yes, I know that, Oma.”
Jinjoo cocked her head to one side. Chomee was too naive. “I mean..a very good boy.”
Chomee nodded, waiting for her mother to go on.
Jinjoo stared at her daughter, debating with herself. Should she tell? Maybe Chomee knows already. Maybe not. She just smiled and patted her daughter’s hand. “Some day..some day…”
Chomee watched, baffled with her mother as she rose out of the chair and left the room. People were talking in circles lately and all she could do is just sit in the middle of it, trying to find a corner of the circle. She sighed and returned to her book. “Yes..some day..some day..I’ll be rich and find out what’s in the damn box.”

The End

The Contest by: SHforever

contest.jpeg

  • a Hoony & Jiyong short story
  • completed

Sunghoon hobbled into his room, one foot dressed in a fancy sandal softly glowing gold, and the other bare.

An annoyed expression was on his face as his threw himself on his fluffy cloud bed.

Jiyong followed him in, wearing an identical expression and the other sandal of the pair.

I cannot believe this, Jiyong fumed, pacing in front of Sunghoon. How could they call it a draw?

The immortal beauty pageant, which they had both entered, had just ended. It had been obvious from the start that first place would be a toss-up between these two. They had always been the two best-looking up in Mount Olympus, competing with each other for as long as they could remember. And even now, neither of them had beaten the other and neither could claim that they were THE best-looking.

What can you do with only one winged sandal? Jiyong demanded to know, still ranting. You can’t even fly straight.

Sunghoon pouted. Why don’t you give me yours? Then at least one of us can make use of it.

No way! Why don’t you give me yours instead, Jiyong retorted, sticking out his tongue.

Huh? Yeah right, Sunghoon snorted derisively. No way he was about to give up his prize. Then, he had a bright idea.

If the gods and goddesses couldn’t decide, let’s let the mortals do it. He grinned, proud of his idea.

Jiyongs eyes gleamed. You mean a contest?

Nodding. Yup. We go down and find a mortal to decide who is the more irresistible. And the winner gets to keep the sandals.

Deal. The two shook hands and descended to the Earth, carrying the treasured prize in Sunghoon’s backpack for safekeeping.

They walked along, trying to find someone.

Damn, my feet hurt, Jiyong complained, not used to all this walking.

Well, mine does, too. But once I win those sandals, I won’t need to walk ever again, Sunghoon said happily.

Hey, who says you’re going to win? I am. Jiyong corrected.

No way. I am.

No Sunghoon covered his friend’s mouth. Shh someone’s coming, he cautioned.

They approached the boy who was coming toward them. Hi, they chorused, stopping him.

Suwon stared at the breathtakingly beautiful being in front of him. Surely, this was a vision, dressed all in white with his golden hair framing an undeniably gorgeous face. Big, heart-melting brown eyes stared at him, making his knees weak.

Wow, he breathed, disbelieving his eyes. Are you an angel?

Sunghoon chuckled. Something like that.

Jiyong rolled his eyes, stepping between the two. Look, we need you to tell us which of us you think is more attractive.

He is. Suwon gazed adoringly at Sunghoon. He cowered a bit at the sight of the taller god, dressed in black with a perpetual scowl on his face. The look on his face was actually getting even meaner. Suwon turned and ran.

I won. Sunghoon stated, grinning widely.

That wasn’t fair, Jiyong complained. Who knew the first person wed run into would be so intimidated by my sexiness? Best two out of three, huh, Hoony? He tugged on his friend’s sleeve, giving him a puppy-dog look.

Fine, Sunghoon relented. But only cause I know I’m going to win anyway.

Just watch me amaze the next person.

They didn’t have long to wait. Another figure was in sight, headed for them.

Again, they stopped the person and put the same question to the test.

Jaejin carefully studied the two attractive boys in front of him, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. Sunghoon was very pretty, of course, but kind of boring looking, in his opinion. He preferred the dangerous looking one, who was staring at him seductively with his dark, brooding eyes. His full red lips were so luscious and yummy looking.

I think he’s better-looking, he declared, pointing at Jiyong, who smirked in triumph. Damn, he looks so good like that. Jaejin started to drool. He had always been a sucker for bad boys.

Unfortunately, the two gods had already started to walk away. Sighing regretfully, he continued on his way as well.

I told you Id win, Jiyong crowed.

You haven’t won yet.

They came across the third person.

This is it. The final person. They both put on their best faces and walked up to the mortal.

Hi. My friend and I were wondering if you could settle a dispute for us

Jiyong pouted sexily. Can you tell us which one of us is hotter?

Jiwon swallowed hard. He had never seen such a beautiful boy before. Correction, two beautiful boys. This was a tough decision.

A sly look stole across his face. Hotter, huh? Maybe it would help if I got a kiss from each of you, he suggested.

The gods looked at each other, then at Jiwon. Shrugging, Sunghoon stepped forward and kissed the mortal lightly on the lips. Jiwon stood with a dazed expression on his face, totally paralyzed by the sweet kiss.

My turn! Jiyong pushed Sunghoon aside and grabbed Jiwon. His kiss was more forceful and demanding, his tongue slipping into Jiwon’s mouth. Sunghoon stood by watching, totally disgusted.

Hey, that’s enough. Sunghoon smacked Jiyongs arm to get his friend to stop

Jiyong pulled away with irritation. But he quickly got over it. Well? He asked eagerly, searching Jiwon’s eyes for an answer.

Jiwon opened his mouth but nothing came out. Then, he fainted, overwhelmed by the two heavenly kisses.

You killed him! Sunghoon accused.

Me?! What about you? You kissed him, too. Jiyong nudged the still figure with his toe. A content moan escaped from Jiwon as he rolled over onto his back. A silly grin was plastered on his face.

See, he’s not dead, Jiyong said, relieved.

Oh. Well, we still haven’t settled the contest.

Yeah. Let’s go find one last person. The two walked off, leaving Jiwon in a deliriously happy dream state on the ground.

**********

One last time, right?

One last time, Jiyong confirmed. They stepped out from behind the bushes, where they had been spying on the boy.

They were both disappointed at the reaction. Or rather, the lack of. Instead of flipping out and acting idiotic in awe of their ravishing looks, Jaeduck just glanced at them casually before continuing to play his hand-held video game.

Ahem. Sunghoon cleared his throat loudly. Jaeduck looked up again. Then back down.

Look, Jiyong snapped, taking the video game from his hands and flinging it as far as he could. Can’t you pay attention to us for half a second?

Tears filled Jaeducks eyes and his lower lip trembled cutely. His hands went up to his eyes and started rubbing them furiously.

Wahhhh~~! My video game!!!

Oooh, there, there. I won’t let mean old Jiyongie hurt you, Sunghoon soothed, putting an arm comfortingly around Jaeduck. He used his powers to bring back the little gizmo. He returned it to its owner. There you go.

Jaeducks eyes grew wide. How?

Were gods, Sunghoon announced grandly, sweeping his arms theatrically. And we need a favor of you.

Jaeduck nodded, listening attentively.

See these sandals? Sunghoon opened his backpack and took them out. Jaeducks eyes grew even bigger and rounder at the sight. Well, we won them in a beauty contest but we tied for first place so we each got only one.

So we need you to decide which of us is more irresistible, Jiyong broke in impatiently.

So will you do it? Sunghoon smiled charmingly.

Jaeduck considered it. I don’t know. I’m a guy, ya know. I really can’t tell whether you’re good-looking or not.

Jiyong and Sunghoon were crestfallen. They didn’t want to search for someone else. They had already wasted the whole afternoon.

Please, they begged, sandwiching Jaeduck between them. They each gripped one of his hands and gave him puppy-dog looks.

Rolling his eyes, Jaeduck agreed. But you have to let me do it my own way.

Of course.

Jaeduck grew quiet, thinking. How about a singing contest? Sunghoon knew it was in the bag. He started to sing, his clear voice smoothly climbing up the scale and hitting the high notes perfectly. Even without any accompaniment, he sounded good, and he knew it.

Jiyong gallantly tried to top his performance, adding a dance in efforts to impress Jaeduck. How was that? He panted.

Jaeduck snapped out of his daze. Truthfully, he hadn’t been paying much attention to either one of them. Huh?

Oh, good, I guess. I’ve decided the next portion. Come on over to my house.

**********

Sunghoon sighed loudly, clutching at his hair in frustration. He absently tapped his pencil against his teeth, then noisily rustled the papers in front of him. He snuck a peek at Jiyong, who was solving the math problems with ease. Sunghoon surreptitiously looked around. Satisfied that no one was looking, he started to copy Jiyongs answers.

I’m finished! Jiyong sang, waving the completed homework in the air like an eager little kid. Jaeduck put down his game controller and wandered over.

I don’t see why we have to do this, Sunghoon complained, crumpling up his own paper, which was mostly filled with unintelligible scribbles.

Because, Jaeduck explained patiently, Beauty contests aren’t only about looks, there about brains, too.

And it’s obvious who has the brains here, Jiyong snickered. Sunghoon shot him a nasty look.

And tell us again why we had to wash the sink full of dirty dishes, throw away the garbage, clean your room, do a months’ worth of laundry, and mend your clothes. Sunghoon sucked on his thumb, remembering how much he had poked it with the dumb needle earlier on. Who knew sewing could be so difficult? It looked easy enough when mortals did it.

Jaeduck hastily changed the subject. Time for the final part! Why don’t you guys assemble in different clothes and model for me.

Grumbling a bit, Sunghoon followed Jiyong into the bedroom. They emerged seconds later, dressed to kill.

Even Jaeduck was impressed by their ensemble, especially Jiyongs dark suit, which made him look very GQ.

Jiyong paraded out, unbuttoning his jacket to reveal the spiffy vest and white dress shirt underneath. He twirled slowly, one hand in his pocket and the other holding a cane. His tall, slender form was definitely a plus.

Jaeduck had to reevaluate his judgment when it came to the swimsuits. Jiyong did have nice, shapely legs, but his upper body looked somewhat scrawny and well, long, compared to Sunghoon’s bare bod. Sunghoon had a very pretty figure, with broad shoulders and firm round buttocks emphasizing the slenderness of his waist. He strutted around the living room, flexing his arms.

This is very tough. You’re both highly desirable people. Let me sleep on it, and I’ll have the results in the morning.

As soon as Jaeduck was settled in his bed, a knock sounded on the door.

I thought you might like a little snack, Dukkie. The rich aroma of brownies wafted in.

Jaeduck bit into the square that Sunghoon offered, relishing the taste. He washed it down with a cold glass of milk as Sunghoon perched on the edge of his bed.

Have you decided yet? Casually asked, while Jaeduck reached for another piece.

Jaeduck shook his head, his mouth too crammed with the gooey treat to speak.

Oh. Well, here, have another piece. Sunghoon started to hand-feed Jaeduck as Jiyong barged in, wearing an apron and carrying a tray of piping hot cookies in his oven-mitted hands.

Jiyongs eyes narrowed. Hey, what are you trying to pull here?

Same thing as you, obviously, Sunghoon replied pointedly, folding his arms angrily across his chest.

Jiyong scowled. Coming over, he plopped down on the other side of the bed. Here, my double fudge chocolate chip cookies are the best, he enthused, taking off the mitts and cooling one by blowing on it. Jaeduck obligingly opened his mouth and accepted it.

Don’t fill up on those yucky cookies! Wouldn’t you prefer eating my delicious brownies? Sunghoon whacked Jaeduck on the back, making him spit out most of the cookie. Then, he filled Jaeducks mouth with his own treat.

Mine is better. Jiyong put a fresh cookie in addition, leaning toward Sunghoon menacingly.

Sunghoon leaned forward as well, taking another brownie and somehow finding room to shove it in. No it isn’t.

Yes! Two cookies more.

No! Another brownie.

YES!!

NO!!!

His arms flailing, Jaeduck gasped for air. Their eyes locked in battle, Jiyong and Sunghoon were oblivious to his distress, continuing to smear their baked goods all over his face.

Finally, the assault ended as the supplies dwindled and Jaeduck managed to gulp down the nauseating food. He would never eat brownies or cookies again.

Get out, the both of you! He yelled, picking up a pillow and thwaping them. Out! Out! Jiyong and Sunghoon shrieked, covering their heads and running.

We’re going! We’re going!

Slamming the door, Jaeduck scrunched up his face in frustration. Damn crumbs, he grumbled as he returned to bed. He waved the sheets, shaking the bits to the floor. Exhausted, he flopped down on his bed, using the same sheets to wipe his face clean.

Damn pesky gods, he mumbled, burying his face in his pillow.

**********

Jaeduck was drifting off to sleep when he felt someone lying down next to him. He rolled over and opened his eyes. He was staring straight into another pair of dark eyes. Not wasting a second, Jiyong threw his arms around him in a passionate embrace, his long legs twining Jaeducks own limbs in an intimate way. He wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing, and his warm body was very soft and not unpleasant, to Jaeducks surprise.

What Jiyong silenced him by kissing him, shifting around until he was lying on top. As Jaeducks words faded, forgotten, Jiyongs hand worked busily under the sheets, yanking down the pajama bottoms and fondling the arousal beneath. The other hand stroked his bare chest, the nails lightly scraping his nipple. Jaeduck decided to forget the fact that he didn’t like guys that way and just enjoy what was being done to him.

Don’t you think I’m nicer than Sunghoon? Jiyong whispered huskily, teasingly squeezing the erection. Hmm?

Don’t you think I’m better looking?

Jaeduck moaned in mixed pleasure and agony. Yeah just don’t stop

A self-satisfied expression on his face, Jiyong slid down on the bed, dragging the sheets with him. He lowered his head to the tip of the penis, mere inches away. He flicked his gaze up at Jaeduck, who looked tortured by the wait. He had the boy eating out of his hand.

Jiyongs lips moved closer grazed the skin Jiyong? Hey, where are you? Sunghoon’s voice floated in from the hallway, halting the activity.

Damn, Jiyong swore, disappearing in a puff of smoke. But Jaeduck was the more disappointed of the two, left feeling hot and uncomfortable.

Sunghoon stole into his room, wearing a resplendent white robe of a slightly sheer, silky material. Flowers were entwined in his golden hair and his cheeks were tinged pink. There was an aura of beauty and innocence around him.

Jiyongs not here, Jaeduck informed him, pulling the blankets over him and pretending to sleep. He could feel himself getting even more worked up. When was he going to leave? Sunghoon went around the bed to face him. Tenderly, he lifted Jaeducks face and kissed him, which didn’t help his condition any.

What was that for?

I’m really sorry about bothering you earlier tonight, he apologized, never losing his bright smile.

It’s okay. Jaeduck replied. But instead of leaving, the Sunghoon lay down next to him.

No, let me show you how sorry I am Sunghoons clothes faded out as he slowly undressed a much willing Jaeduck. Sunghoon was determined to win, not for the material prize, but for pride and reputation. No way was he going to be second place to Jiyong, not when everyone knew he was the prettiest

**********

When morning came, the two gods anxiously showed up in the designated spot the front of Jaeducks house.

They set the prize down between them and sat down to wait.

Finally, past noon, Jaeduck came out. Yawning, he blinked at the sudden sight of them. Then he seemed to remember the events of the past day.

Okay, I’ve made my decision, he announced, clapping his hands together.

Sunghoon and Jiyong shot each other smug looks, each confident in his own victory.

The most irresistible guy is He paused dramatically. They leaned forward in anticipation.

Me, Jaeduck finished. The other twos jaws dropped open.

Just look how the both of you came on to me last night, he explained, seeing the shock on their faces. Can either of you say you scored with two beautiful gods in one night?

They stared dumbly, unable to claim such a feat. Didn’t think so. Jaeduck grabbed the sandals and slipped into them. He lifted himself experimentally off the ground.

Whee! This is fun! He shouted, doing a somersault in the air. He zipped off happily, twirling and tumbling as he did so.

That punk

Can he do that? Sunghoon wondered.

I guess so, was the doubtful answer.

Silence.

We still haven’t settled the bet, Sunghoon finally said.

Yeah

More silence.

Hey, Jiyong?

Hmm?

Best three out of five?

A slow smile spread across Jiyongs face. It’s a deal.

The two shook hands and hurried off, in search of new judges.

~The End~

[TRANS] Sechskies 50 Questions, 50 Answers – Ko Ji Yong

90skies archive

Young Lady Ko Ji Yong

IMG_20170617_213338

  1. Name: Ko Ji Yong
  2. Birth date: July 1, 1980
  3. Real name: Ko Ji Yong
  4. Family situation (family living with him): Grandma, parents, aunt, older sister, puppy
  5. School you’re currently going to: Jungkyung Highschool
  6. Height: 178 cm (5’10”)
  7. Weight: 59 kg (130 lbs)
  8. Foot size: 275mm (US size 10)
  9. Favorite food: Soybean paste stew (Doenjang jjigae), Italian food
  10. Favorite color: Blue, ivory
  11. Most memorable gift: Clothes
  12. Closest friend (in the group or otherwise): Sunghoon, Junghwan, Suwon
  13. Your personality: Hyper
  14. Your own charm: Eyes
  15. Your dancing skill: I don’t have any special skill in dancing
  16. Jinx: None
  17. Your unusual habit: Sleeping habit (Rolling), nail biting
  18. Your disadvantages: Being hyper
  19. Your advantages: None
  20. First love: Already had one (Elementary school)
  21. First kiss: Already had it(?)
  22. Hobby: Ski, appreciating music
  23. IQ: I really don’t know (I’m sure it’s 3 digits???)
  24. Stress reliever: Looking out the bus window
  25. Your favorite…

View original post 279 more words