A M N E S I A: Chapter 4

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4:

Closer

      Still sore from the accident, Jinwon tried his hardest to come back to his home with the help of Kibum and Eunji. Even though the doctor suggested for him to stay for another day, he insisted to go back to his apartment since he loathed staying in hospitals. This is because he had been admitted to hospitals too many times for the past 15 years. Spending every second in a place like that makes him feel worse.

      “Ah, hooommme!” Jinwon sighed as he opened the door with his arm still hanging on Kibum’s shoulders.

      “Woah, it’s so clean in here,” said Eunji, examining the place.

      “That’s because I cleaned before the night of my accident,” Jinwon said, slowly crashing himself down on the couch trying not to make his body feel worse than it already is.

      “Oh, yeah, you just moved here right?” Kibum asked. “What made you come to this town?”

      “I just felt like it,” Jinwon said, “I was once a composer of a music company in Seoul, but I lost my job.”

      “So you went here, out of all the places?” Eunji said, aimlessly checking Jinwon’s empty kitchen cabinets.

      “I used to live here years ago,” Jinwon replied, “or so my friends say….”

      “Oh, so you came back?” Kibum said, browsing through Jinwon’s small wooden shelf. “For what? Family? A girl?” Kibum said, with a slight tease in his tone.

      “Oh…” Jinwon suddenly spaced out. He didn’t exactly know why he went back to this particular town. JooHyun only suggested this place. He just felt like going, that’s why. But as Kibum said, “a girl”, could that be why he’s here?

      “I don’t know, I’m not entirely sure yet why I’m here.”

      “Maybe fate brought you here to meet that special someone,” Eunji added teasingly.

      “Yeah, maybe that’s it,” Jinwon believed. “I don’t think so,” he denied.

      “Eii, Mr. Kim. You’re like Eunji’s mom,” Kibum chuckled. “You look younger than your actual appearance yet too old to be single.”

      “Hey, I’m not that old,” Jinwon sneered.

      “You’re 34, Mr. Kim. People by that age probably have at least one or two children already.”

      Jinwon scoffed. “Love will come if it’s supposed to, but I’m just going to find jobs for now.”

      “Alright, then,” Eunji chuckled. “We can help you with that.”

      “Oh, what are these books?” Kibum said, examining each book on Jinwon’s shelf. “The Rising Gods of the East, The Tales of the Council of Nine, The Tale of the Neon Lights; seriously what are these books?”

      “Oh, those are just… books I bought at some uh… second hand shop. They’re actually pretty good. You can borrow one if you want.”

      Jinwon didn’t really get them from a shop. It was given to him by someone special, but because he has a very hazy memory, he can’t remember who it was exactly that gave it to him. He just knew those books were written especially for him and him only.

      “What, are those, some kind of Hunger Games or Harry Potter, or something?” Eunji asked, looking through Kibum’s shoulder.

      “Kind of, but they’re more of like fairy tales,” Jinwon stretched his hand and snatched one book from Kibum. “Don’t read this one though. I’m still reading it.”

     The Tales of the Council of Nine?” Eunji’s head tilted, seeing the title of the book that Jinwon snatched away. “What’s that about?”

      “Just mini stories of these nine godlike guardians of the world,” Jinwon shrugged.

      “Can I borrow this one?” Kibum said, showing Jinwon “The Tale of the Neon Lights” book.

      “Yeah sure”

      “Anyway, do you need anything like groceries? Your kitchen cabinets are empty,” Eunji said.

      “Hmm…” Jinwon thought for a moment. “Yeah, I guess. But can I trust you kids won’t steal my money?”

      “Hey, if you don’t want to use your money, then we’ll use our own, right Kibum?” Eunji nudged Kibum.

      “Yeah,” Kibum said, not taking his eyes off of the pages of the book.

      “Alright… Here, buy me some things you think I need,” Jinwon handed Eunji money.

      “Great,” Eunji smiled. “Let’s go Kibum.”

      “Right,” Kibum put the book down and followed Eunji.

      “Go and buy some ice cream too,” Jinwon shouted as the two were about to leave.

      “We will!”

***

      Finally, after finishing her internet job for the day, Stephanie prepared to read another entry of her old pink-striped notebook. Even though it brought back painful memories, she didn’t mind it since she already cried her heart out the night she heard the Chopin song. Despite all the sadness that the diary had to offer, there were also happy memories and that was enough to make her feel like it was just a preschool memory. As she read each entry, step by step, it felt like she was finally letting go of her past.

August 1, 1996, Thursday
       Today is my birthday~ Ahhh! I’m officially seventeen years old! There’s nothing really special about that number, but today was the best birthday I’ve ever had.^^

      All morning, Jessi was so distant from me and she didn’t even give me a present. I was so upset about that, but I didn’t know she was actually preparing something big… Since it’s Thursday again, my little school band are supposed to meet on the same studio for youth practice.
       I opened the door to the studio, and there my best friends shouted “SURPRISE!!!” The room was filled with pink ornaments and confetti. There was also a big banner saying “Happy Birthday Fany!” It was too sweet that I felt tears almost forming. They were the greatest friends ever. Hyungsoo, Yohan, Jessi, and Seobaby hugged me instantly the moment I entered, but ‘daydream’ didn’t; he wasn’t even facing me at all. At first I was upset that he was like that, but as soon as he turned around, I was paralyzed. He was carrying a white puppy that was wearing a little party hat. It was sooo cute!!! I named it Prince Charming ㅋㅋㅋ

     Everything was just too cute around me. These guys took the time and money to buy me a puppy? Mr. Daydream said this little cute fluff was to keep me company if I feel lonely. He also said that it was the whole group’s idea to buy me a dog, but I’m pretty sure it was his idea alone. I know you care for me, Mr. Daydream. Stop hiding your feelings!

“Sekaijuu de koi seyo Girls! Ima Lingua Franca, Lingua Franc—”

      “Hello?” Stephanie picked up her phone.

      “Fany-ah!” It was Jessica.

      “Oh, Jessi,” Stephanie closed her pink-striped diary.

      “Do you have anything to do this Saturday?”

      “Why, what’s up?”

      “Are you still up for dates?”

      Stephanie went silent for a moment. She knew Jessica was planning some kind of blind date for her again. “Maybe,” she replied, enough for Jessica to hear it as “yes.”

      “You already know what I’m about to say, don’t you?”

      “Blind date again?”

      “Yeah, this time he’s probably the best.”

      “Ugh…” Stephanie snarled. “You won’t stop doing this, won’t you?”

      “This will be the last, I promise.”

      “You say that for all of my dates.”

      “But this time, I wasn’t the one who wanted to set you up!”

      “What?” Jessica was always the one to willingly set her up with guys, so hearing this now was somewhat strange for Stephanie.

      “The guy himself wanted a date with you,” Jessica lied. This did not make it easier to convince Stephanie.

      “If he wanted a date with me, he should’ve asked me in front of my face.”

      “I know, I know. But can’t you give him a chance?” Jessica persuaded.

      “Ugh fine,” Stephanie accepted her defeat. “What’s his name and where is the place?”

      “The usual. Xiah Dragon Noodles Restaurant, 7pm, this Saturday. His name is Choi Si-Yoon.”

      “Choi Si-Yoon?!” Stephanie shouted through the phone out of shock, making Jessica pull her phone away from her ears. “You mean the church’s hot missionary?”

      “Yeah”

      “I can’t believe…” Stephanie trailed off.

      “That he’s single?” Jessica continued Stephanie’s sentence. “Yeah, me neither. I thought he was married with that handsome face but he actually wasn’t.”

      “Fine, I’ll give him a shot. But promise me that this will be the last, okay?”

      “Yeah, yeah, sure”

      “Bye, Sica.”

      “Bye, Fany-ah. God bless.” Jessica ended the call.

      “Aigoo…” Stephanie sighed. “If this one fails, I’m really going to give up hope on finding the right man.”

***

      “Argh, really… This is so frustrating.”

      Jinwon lay on the couch the whole time while waiting for the two teenagers to come back with the groceries. He can’t properly move his body, his guitar was probably somewhere out there broken, and his money could possibly be stolen. The longer he couldn’t do a thing, the more impatient he became. There was no Wi-Fi and no TV to entertain him at the moment. He had his phone, but he’s already seen all of its contents yesterday and there aren’t really much to see in there since it was somewhat a new phone. He has a laptop which sat somewhere in his bedroom, but since he is unable go anywhere without Kibum’s shoulder—he didn’t have that either.

      Having nothing else to do, he tried to search his mind for any information about Stephanie. Fortunately enough, he did remember something. He moved his body to the edge of the sofa and reached for a small, blue notebook at the bottom row of his small wooden shelf.

      “Yes, this is it.”

Jinwon flipped through the first page.

I am writing this journal so that I won’t forget the things that will happen in my life from now on.

        “The irony…” he chuckled. “I never read any of these after I’ve written them. How stupid!” He flipped the page.

Sunday, March 9, 1998

My name is Kim Jinwon, born in March 9, 1979

I was in a car accident, December 14, 1997, and I cannot remember anything at all, not even my own name. A girl gave me this notebook as a birthday present to write anything I remember about myself and my past, but I’m not doing that. From now on, I will write about the beginning of my life and what happens as it goes on.

My birthday may have been March 9, 1979, but I say, my life starts at January 9, 1998.

It’s still clear to me. Everything was freezing. The heartbeat monitor’s noise annoyed me. Wires and needles crawled everywhere around me. When I opened my eyes, I could not name anything I saw. I wondered and wondered where I was and what was happening, but I couldn’t move or even speak. When I realized that I couldn’t do anything, I started to feel so uneasy,

But then, I turned my eyes to my right, and there right beside me was a girl who had eyes that felt like home. She said my name, but at that time I didn’t know that it was mine, so I did not respond. Then she asked me something I somehow understood.

“Do you remember me?”

Her voice did sound very familiar and I did feel comfortable and relaxed seeing her. But no matter how hard I tried to think, I could not remember her. So I tried to honestly tell her, but my body was too sore and I couldn’t speak at all.

She held my hand tightly and told me her name was Stephanie and I just stared at her, not knowing what to say at all. I really could not remember.

But then she started crying, and her tears fell on my arms. At every drop, my heart reacted strangely. I could hear the heartbeat monitor getting faster the more she cried. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t handle seeing her crying like that. I wanted to wipe her tears away, but I was too weak to even lift a muscle.

She asked me if I could hear her and I nodded it stiffly. She asked me if I couldn’t remember anything and I tried again to reply, but only air came out.

Suddenly, she told me she was my girlfriend. At that moment, my head spun and that’s when I realized I couldn’t even remember who I was. And I felt confused and gravely sorry for her.

      “That’s right, that’s her. That’s Stephanie.” He hit the notebook with his fingers. Finally, he was certain that she was a real person. She was his girlfriend and not just any person from a dream.

He flipped through a few pages, skipping a few parts.

Everyday Stephanie would visit me and one time, she brought along her friends, two guys and one girl who she says were also my friends.

They were named Hyungsoo, Yohan, and Jessica.

      “Ooooh!” Jinwon started chuckling. It felt like he was watching a drama with all sorts of plot twists. “So they are here, too.”

I can tell that they were all shy and afraid to see me. Maybe it’s because they knew I couldn’t remember them at all. They tried telling me stories of how we met and I tried to listen so that I wouldn’t offend them, but truthfully I didn’t care. I appreciated their effort but I was dead sick of people expecting me to remember who they were. I know it’s hard for them that they’ve lost one friend, but don’t they know that this is even harder for me? If I had to hear one more time a story of who I used to be, I might just explode.

      Soon, Kibum and Eunji entered with a handful of plastic bags. They did as they said they would and didn’t waste a single won given by Jinwon.

      “Did you buy ice cream?” Jinwon asked.

      “Yeah, here,” Kibum took out three chocolate-flavored ice creams and handed the two to Eunji and Jinwon.

      “Oh, crap, I’m gonna be late,” Eunji said, looking at her watch.

      “For what?” Jinwon asked as he opened the ice cream wrapper.

      “We have band practice today for youth church.”

      “Oh cool.”

      “I’ll go now, Mr. Kim. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” Eunji said, preparing to leave the apartment.

      “Yeah, see you,” Jinwon cheerfully waved goodbye.

      “See you, Eunji,” Kibum also flashed a warm smile.

      As Eunji left, the blue notebook on Jinwon’s hands was caught by Kibum’s eyes. “What’s that?” he asked.

      “Oh this? Just a notebook of songs that I’ve written,” Jinwon lied. The least he wanted right now is for anyone to ask him questions about his past.

      “Oh, cool,” Kibum picked up the “Tale of the Neon Lights” book and prepared to go home, too. “I’ll be going now, too, Mr. Kim. Take care of yourself.”

      “Wait,” Jinwon turned to Kibum. “Do you perhaps have a guitar I could borrow? I’m kind of in the middle of writing a song.” That part wasn’t a lie. After he woke up from his hospital bed yesterday, he created a song out of boredom.

      “Sure, you can borrow my guitar. I don’t use it much.”

      “Thanks, kid.”

      “I’ll be going now.”

      “Bye! See you on Friday!” Just as Kibum left, Jinwon noticed the bags of groceries still unpacked on the kitchen counter.

      “Aigoo, these kids…,” he laughed. “Didn’t even fix groceries”

***

      Eunji was greeted by Minjae, So-Eun, Jinki, Henry, Yue, and ChanYoung as she entered the boiler room of the church. It was time again for band practice.

      “Good, we’re all here,” Yohan clapped his hands. “You guys practiced the songs I sent to you over Facebook right?”

      “Yes~” they all answered.

      “Good. Hold on, I’ll get Hyungsoo.” Yohan left the boiler room.

      “Where’s SungYeol and Josephine?” Eunji asked as she stood beside Henry and his guitar.

      “Josephine didn’t want to go to band practice today and SungYeol is in another band practice,” Henry replied.

      “Another practice?”

      “Yeah, he and his friends found jobs in Xiah Dragon Noodles.”

      “Job?” Eunji’s eyebrows went up. “You mean they’re singing in Xiah Dragon Noodles?”

      “That place is brilliant isn’t it?” ChanYoung joined the conversation. “They pay people to sing in their restaurant.”

      “That’s so cool,” Eunji chuckled.

      “Okay, SOO IS HERE!” Hyungsoo shouted as he entered in the room with Yohan. “Let’s do this!”

***

      The next day, Jinwon could finally stand properly but he still couldn’t walk much. His body was still a little sore but it felt much better than before. He picked up his old, blue journal and started reading it again.

Saturday, March 14, 1998

My family has set up an optical shop in Jeonju (which was our family’s hometown). They already moved our things and tomorrow, we’re going to leave this place. So yes, I’m leaving this town and probably never go back.

At first I was happy to break away from all of the people who called me their “friends” but abandoned me on one of most fragile episode so far, but now that I think about it, I can’t leave this place just yet. I need to apologize to the girl I treated so badly, to the girl who cared the most about me—Stephanie.

She was a girl that I spent too much time with, made me laugh when I couldn’t, and made me smile when I just didn’t want to. She stood by me when I was nothing but a mess. She could read me and understand how frustrated I was at something without me even mentioning anything. At first, I only hung onto her because she was pretty and it relaxed me, but as time passed by, I loved her for who she really was—the girl who smiled for me.

But a few nights ago, we were taking a walk under many stars. She kept babbling about how we first kissed, how we, meaning her and my past, first fell in love, and just about little things that I don’t really care about. It felt like she was talking about another man because I don’t share those memories with her–at least not anymore. I felt jealous and extremely angry. I really thought I’ve trained myself well enough to keep myself from blowing up again, but that night, I was wrong.

I told her that I was Kim Jinwon the Second and that whoever she was thinking of at that moment was dead. My past is dead.

I can’t even remember how that exactly came out of my mouth. All I knew is I was so angry, I even shocked myself.

She simply said that she understood and turned away. In that moment, I instantly regretted every word. No, I regretted the time when I didn’t show that I was starting to fall in love when I clearly had little time left to be with her. I wanted her more than ever. I wanted her closer to me. I wanted her to come back to me, but I was too late. She was already gone and she didn’t even let me see her cry. She just… gave up.

A few days later, today, my parents invited her over for a private conversation. I knew it wasn’t right for me to eavesdrop, but I did it anyway.

But I really I shouldn’t have… What I heard was so unusual. They were asking her if she needed their support or if they wanted our family to stay here for her sake. Why would they make such a proposition to her? Was she that special to my family? It just seemed so weird that they were able to change their decisions if she ever wanted me to stay.

But she has given up… she didn’t let my family stay. She wanted us to go. Is this because she was able to let go of me, Kim Jinwon the second? Was she finally seeing me as a completely different person? I know I should be happy to hear that, but I’m dead jealous that she loves my past more than my present.

      “She let me go…” Jinwon laid the open notebook on his chest and took a breather. He hasn’t read this notebook ever since it was written, making him forget most of its contents. Ever since the accident, he had always been a forgetful person. He wrote a bunch of journals so that people say he wouldn’t forget anything, but he read not a single one of them. Finally he was reading his first ever written journal. Everything was coming back to him. He was finally starting to recall bits and pieces of who Stephanie was. His life with Stephanie before the accident still remained a blur to him, but what she was to him after he woke up from his coma rose clear as daylight. She was a girl who tried not to give up on him, but alas, she did eventually.

     “I wish she didn’t stop trying for me…”

He picked up a small, empty notebook and started writing.

Did it pass by, our love
Is it just a heart-breaking memory?
Your heart is turning around
Can’t I catch it with my tears?

      As he was writing, the doorbell rang. He bit his pencil and got up to answer the door. It was Eunji, cheerful as always. Her eye-smile made Jinwon recover from the sadness that he was feeling at the moment. Soon, he was also cheerfully smiling, mainly because he felt lonely all day.

      “So, what are you going to teach me, Mr. Music Teacher?”

      “Oh, is today supposed to be your music lessons?” Jinwon asked, scratching his head.

      “Yeah,” Eunji nodded. “I want to learn how to play guitar.”

      “About that…” Jinwon sheepishly smiled. “I lost my guitar on the night of the accident.”

      “Really?” Eunji pouted. “Then what are you going to teach me now?”

      “Mm…” Jinwon started thinking. So far he was a failure at being a music teacher to her since he had nothing planned. “Ah I know,” He thought, looking at his unfinished song. “I’ll make her write this song with me.”

      “Ah, I know!” Eunji suddenly exclaimed, interrupting Jinwon’s thoughts. “Do you have energy to walk to the studio?”

      “Yeah… why?”

      “Why don’t I teach you?” Eunji perkily suggested.

      “Piano?” Jinwon smiled.

      “Yeah,” Eunji nodded.

      “Alright then, teacher. Lead the way.” Jinwon grabbed his jacket and slid his notebook and pencil in his pockets.

      And so they walked to the small studio where Eunji usually held her music lessons. With Jinwon’s legs still weak, he was having a hard time walking. Every now and then, a sharp pain would hit his legs and would cause him to flinch on his spot.

      “Lay your hand on my shoulder,” Eunji said, tapping her right shoulder.

      Hesitantly, Jinwon did as he was told. While Eunji felt completely normal since Jinwon needed support, Jinwon couldn’t help but feel awkward. He made a promise to himself not to make too much skin contact with Eunji since he was starting to sense that everything about her reminded him of the little memory he had of Stephanie. A part of him wanted to remember the experiences he had gone through with Stephanie, but at the same time, a part of him just didn’t want to be reminded. It felt good to have parts of his memory back, but it felt horrible knowing what happened between them in the end—separation.

      He tried to brush his thoughts off. Right now, his priority was to walk to the studio and he needs Eunji’s help in doing so.

***

      “So, first of all, do you know notes or chords?” Eunji asked as Jinwon sat beside her with the baby grand piano in front of them.

      “I know both, but chords are much easier for me.”

      “Well then, let’s go with chords,” Eunji said. “I’ll teach you the basics.”

      “Basics?” Jinwon’s eyebrows wrinkled. “Can’t you just teach me the Chopin song right now?”

      “Hey, you can’t just skip the basics and suddenly learn a Chopin song!” Eunji snarled. “Chopin songs are pretty hard for beginners!”

      “Well who said I was a beginner?” Jinwon turned to Eunji.

      “You did,” Eunji sneered. “Now let me teach you the basics.”

      “No,” Jinwon grumpily crossed his arms together. “Just teach me the Chopin song.”

      “Aigoo…” Eunji sighed and was followed by a slight chuckle. “You remind me of myself.”

      “Yourself?” Jinwon chuckled.

      “I was once stubborn in learning a song straight away instead of the basics,” Eunji smiled. “Aunt JooHyun always got frustrated with me when I do that. She said it was one of the little things that I got from my f…” She trailed off, letting out a sigh.

      “Your father?” Jinwon asked.

      “Yeah…”

      “Do you remember your father?” Jinwon thoughtlessly asked.

      “Not really,” Eunji shrugged. “My mom said my father died before I was even born.”

      “Oh. What is he like?” Jinwon asked, “like what does your mother say about him?”

      Eunji paused for a moment and wondered. What was her dad like? Her mother never told her a thing about her father. In fact, she herself was never curious about her father. Jinwon’s question just triggered the switch that made her question how her father was like. She made up her mind to ask her mother about this when she gets home.

      When she couldn’t find an answer to give to Jinwon, she let out another sigh. Jinwon understood that she probably didn’t want to talk about this right now.

      “You know what, go ahead and teach me the basics,” Jinwon spoke, breaking the silence that fell between them. “And if I get the hang of it, step by step, you can teach me the Chopin song.”

      And so, Eunji taught him the basics in playing the piano. To her surprise, Jinwon was actually better at learning and playing piano than what she expected. It was as if he played piano before. However, Jinwon constantly denied that he knew how to play, making her believe that Jinwon was just one music prodigy.

***

      Back home, Eunji took a deep breath and mentally prepared herself to ask her mother about her father. All the little information that she knew about her father came from JooHyun, not from her mother. At first, she really didn’t mind hearing the little comparisons with her father that JooHyun would blurt out every once in a while, but now that she thinks about it, her own mother never does that.

    “Mom, what was my father like?” Eunji brought it up during dinner time, making Stephanie slightly feel uncomfortable.

      “Why… are you curious all of a sudden?” Stephanie asked, trying not to make eye contact.

      “I’m just curious. You never told me anything,” Eunji said as she started drinking her water.

      “Okay…” Stephanie took a deep breath. “He is really caring yet silly at the same time, like you.”

      Eunji chuckled hearing her mother’s description and made her want to listen more. But Stephanie stopped talking. She started sighing and blinking. She thought it was going to be easy describing Eunji’s father, but her heart ached more at the thought of him. It wasn’t long before Eunji caught her mother trying to avoid the topic.

      “You know what, it’s alright, I’m sorry…” Eunji didn’t want her mother to cry. She has seen enough of it. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

      Stephanie chuckled hearing her daughter’s words. “What you’re doing right now, you got that from your father.”

      “Do what?”

      “Avoid a topic if it’s uncomfortable,” Stephanie smiled.

      “Oooh, do you find that attracting in men?” Eunji teased, trying to lighten up the mood.

      “Yeah,” Stephanie chuckled. “I find it really attracting when men don’t try to dig deep into my past.”

      “Oh, now I know what to tell your blind dates.” Eunji joked.

      Stephanie sneered, throwing a tissue to her daughter. “Aigoo.”

***

      “Can you teach me this piece?” Jinwon asked JooHyun, showing her the Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2 music sheet.

      “Sure Oppa,” smiled JooHyun. “Do you know how to play piano, though?”

      “He doesn’t,” Yohan said as he was cuddling a white Maltese puppy on his arms.

      “Then let’s learn the basics first,” JooHyun sat beside Jinwon and opened the baby grand piano.

      “Basics?” Jinwon whined. “I don’t have to learn that, do I?”

      “You must know the basics of playing the piano before you can do anything else, Oppa,” JooHyun said.

      “But I don’t want the basics!” Jinwon crossed his arms. “Just teach me this piece.”

      “Heeey!” JooHyun whined. “You can’t do that, Oppa!”

      “Why not? Can’t you just teach me how to play this Chopin piece and skip the basics?” Jinwon grumbled as JooHyun was refusing to grant his request.

      “No, Oppa,” JooHyun firmly replied. “You need to learn basics first.”

      “Yeah, just go learn the basics first,” Yohan said, taking JooHyun’s side.

      “Or you’ll be a loser,” Hyungsoo added.

      “Shut up,” Jinwon snarled. “Be alert on your job.”

      “Why do you want to learn a Chopin song all of a sudden though?” JooHyun asked. “He doesn’t exactly have the easiest piano pieces around.”

      “Jinwon probably has a thing going on with Fany,” Yohan teased.

      “What? No,” Jinwon denied.

      “What, really?” Hyungsoo turned his head, completely ignoring Jinwon’s denial.

      “Why else would he tell us to gather our money and buy a dog for her?” Yohan said, still not taking his attention off the small fluffy puppy.

      “Oh yeaaah,” Hyungsoo smirked and gave Yohan a high-five. “Good point, Yohan.”

      “Ugh fine, I’ll learn the basics if that will make you guys shut up.”

      “Okay, Oppa,” JooHyun clapped her hands. “Let’s get started then.”

      “Guys, someone’s coming!” Hyungsoo suddenly alerted.

      Suddenly the three went into a slight panic. Yohan passed the puppy to Jinwon and JooHyun hid behind the mini grand piano.

      “Is everything prepared?” Jinwon said, holding the white, fluffy puppy on his arms.

      “Yeah, I think it is,” Yohan replied.

Footsteps echoed in the hallway…

      “Positions, positions!” Jinwon said.

      A knock was heard on the door. “Guys, it’s just me, Jessica,” She said, not letting them to mistake her for Stephanie. Hyungsoo opened the door and pulled her in roughly.

      “Quickly, Sica,” Hyungsoo said. “I can see Fany close by.”

      “Wow, it’s so pink in here,” Jessica said, observing the pink banners, pink party ornaments, and pink cake.

      “It’s her favorite color,” Yohan smiled, cheerfully putting a party hat on Jessica.

      “I know,” Jessica chuckled as she sat beside Yohan. “Her room back home is also filled with pink too.”

      “SHE’S COMING!” Hyungsoo whispered.

      “Close the lights!” Jinwon said to Hyungsoo.

      Soon, the door swung open and the lights were turned on back again. “SURPRISE!” They all shouted, making the short brown haired Stephanie dumbfounded. In a matter of seconds, Stephanie was surrounded by Hyungsoo, Yohan, JooHyun, and Jessica’s warm hug. It made her smile for a while, but it faded when she realized Jinwon didn’t join in their group hug. What’s worse was that he wasn’t facing her at all.

      “Happy Birthday!” Jinwon smiled as he turned, holding the white, fluffy puppy on his hands. Stephanie didn’t expect this at all. Her face instantly turned from a pout to a chuckling eye-smile the moment Jinwon handed the puppy over to her and hugged her warmly.

      “Who’s this?” Stephanie asked, staring at the cute, silent dog on her arms.

      “Someone to keep you company when you’re lonely,” Jinwon smiled.

      “Yeah, we all gathered our money to buy him so take care of him well,” Jessica added.

      “Who’s idea…?” Stephanie looked up. Yohan pointed to Jinwon.

      “What?” Jinwon blushed and denied. “No, it was all our idea.”

      “Tch, yeah right,” Jessica silently scoffed at Jinwon with a smirk.

      “Aww thanks you guys!!” Stephanie squealed. “I’m so touched!”

      “What are you planning on naming it?” JooHyun asked.

      “Since he’s going to keep me company, he will be my prince, won’t he?” Stephanie made a kissy face in front of the puppy that didn’t really seem to care about any of its surroundings.

      “Name it Jin-goo,” Hyungsoo whispered to Yohan as he referred to Jinwon’s nickname, making them both secretly giggle on their own at the back.

      “I’m gonna name it Charming. Prince Charming”

      “Cute!” Jessica giggled, petting the somewhat sleepy puppy.

      As the small birthday party ended, they continued their band practice. When they have finished that too, they hung out for a little bit in the studio since there was still leftover cake.

***

      “Let’s go home now.” Jinwon said to Stephanie who was writing on her diary. Since the day was about to end anyway and their houses were just a few blocks apart from each other, she agreed and finished up whatever she was writing.

      “Thanks for Charming,” Stephanie chuckled, as she petted the small dog on their walk home.

      “He was from all of us,” Jinwon smiled.

      “Stop it, Jinwon,” Stephanie giggled. “I know this is only your idea.” Jinwon just chuckled and finally admitted that it was only his own idea.

      As they were passing by a small, cheerful park where families and lovers were walking by everywhere, Jinwon took a deep breath. This was his chance to try to confess his feelings for Stephanie.

      “Would we…,” Jinwon trailed off out of nervousness. “Oh, never mind.”

      “Would we…?” Stephanie looked up to him.

      “Never mind”

      “Come on, tell me,” Stephanie ruffled his hair.

      Jinwon took a deep breath and stopped walking. He hesitatingly unzipped his guitar case and made Stephanie sit on the bench. He stood in front of her and started plucking his guitar and sang.

(Song: Closer – TaeYeon)

There are so many things I couldn’t say
You have never heard them before but
I’m not someone who just loves anyone I see

Because among the many people in this world
All I see is you

I am standing here as I only see you
After this love, I don’t really know what will happen
Just like child who is always this way
Will you warmly hold me right now?

Stephanie became frozen with what was happening. The moon and stars were shining so brightly that night and her new dog, Charming, was adorably starting to drowse off at the sound of Jinwon’s soft voice. Everything was feeling like a dream.

Though someday your name might become strange
My heart will remember all the memories
Even if a painful separation comes between us
Let’s not think about that today

Because among the many people in this world
All I see is you

By this time, Stephanie was madly blushing since people that passed by took glances of them.

I am standing here as I only see you
After this love, I don’t really know what will happen
Just like child who is always this way
Will you warmly hold me closer?

Now I’m not alone
You’re the only one who came to me from that place

Only you are my everything
After this love, I don’t really know what will happen
Just like child who is always this way,
Will you warmly hold me closer?

Jinwon stopped playing his guitar and hung it to the side and made Stephanie stand up, leaving the sleeping Prince on the bench.

Closer
Warmer
Will you hold me?

As soon as the song ended, she threw her arms around Jinwon. “He was obviously asking for one,” Stephanie thought.

     For a whole minute, they stayed in each others warmth. Jinwon’s heart beat wildly as Stephanie rested her head on his shoulder. He was nervous but quite satisfied to have confessed his feelings this way. He knew Stephanie somewhat got his message, but just to make sure, he whispered,

     “I like you, Stephanie.”

     “I like you too, Kim Jinwon.”


CHAPTER 5: Are You Listening?


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