After her plan had perfectly worked out the way she wanted, Jiwon was more than satisfied and ready to take on the guided tour. Her body had already turned to move towards who stood at what it seemed the beginning of a trail, but a hand halted her from pursuing the action in her mind. Her head turned back to see a face of barely contained anger and she inwardly released a sigh as he began ranting about his woes and the supposed peril that was to befall upon the both of them. Talking about a drama queen.. Ji-won honestly could not see how a simple photo was putting their lives at a literal risk, unless he was into some shady shit-
Oh my god.
What if he was actually into some shady shit?
Ji-won averted her gaze as she mulled over that thought, the cogs in the mind turning. If someone could snap a picture of her right now, the image would practically equal to woman calculating meme. Flashing back came the scenes of their first encounter with each other and the blatant assumptions that were made back there. His first thought was that someone had to be filming him instead of the option that it could have just been a mistake on his part. Had that really been arrogance or could it be some paranoia as well? He was of wealth, that much was certain –- but how all that wealth had been established remained in question. Maybe she had just been watching too much tv dramas... yet... what if?
What did twitter have to do with all of this?
Jiwon furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, completely being thrown out of the loop by how he continued his tirade. Hold on a minute- what was all this blabbering about information being sold and death threats? She scoffed at the notion, unable to wrap her mind around the reason as to why that would be happening. Death threats? From who? Deluded girls and boys who think they have a chance with some pompous elitist? Oh yeah, how scary.
Okay, so him being in some sort of mafia was no longer probable. That meant that he was just some rich boy who thought the world circulated around him. Even less scary. She fixed him an unimpressed gaze, before sighing. “Listen, I have no idea what you are talking about or where you -“ she let the phrase fall as an other voice severed her focus. Her eyes narrowed from him towards the guide who was, apparently, addressing them. Right, the guided tour.
Jiwon decided to let it go for now (though his last comments activated some mild annoyance) and with a grumble, followed after him. Once she had joined the small group, the guide proceeded to list the rules that applied during this tour. It was the usual gist: do not wander on your own, do not feed the monkeys, do not touch the monkeys, do not even look the monkeys in the eye, yada yada-
“ and I know we are with a fairly small group, but I would still like to assign pairs to look out for each other during this guided tour. We’ve had instances where people get distracted and wander off on their own without realizing and we would like to minimize that risk by having you keep an eye on one other than yourself. With that being said, family and friends can, of course, be paired together. “
Jiwon looked around, quickly noticing how almost everyone around her had someone they knew… which left her and….
As their guide started to talk about the dangers of entering the monkey temple forest, Juno should’ve been paying attention. Well, he wasn’t. Simply because of the girl standing near him. With his arms crossed, he tried his absolute hardest to focus. But his mind kept on drawing back to her. What made her think that she was so invisible that she could pull a stunt like that? Why the hell did she think she could just go around and disrespect people’s privacies? And why the hell was she not worried about the outcome of it all?
And then it dawned on him. Oh, shit. Did she actually not know who he was? Sure, it had mused in his mind that maybe she wanted to pretend that she didn’t know who he was. That it was some playful act. But the way she had just gone ahead and practically made it seem like they were dating or something to those fans. The way that she encouraged them to take their photo with him. She actually had zero clues who he was, what he did for a living and why she should have never allowed those girls to have those pictures.
Now, there were two things that popped into his head at this time. The first one was crap, maybe I should tell her so she doesn’t do anything too stupid. But then he had to remind himself that she probably wouldn’t believe him anyway. That she would just cuss him out and say he was some sexual predator or something and used the whole ‘idol’ thing to get girls. Then the other thing that popped into his head was the thought of how nice it was that someone didn’t know who he was. That she was actually just treating him like a normal human being. She wasn’t giving him special treatment and wasn’t trying to impress him. She was just responding to him like she would with any other person. And it had been a very long time since someone had treated him that way. It had been… well, years.
“and I know we are with a fairly small group, but I would still like to assign pairs to look out for each other during this guided tour. We’ve had instances where people get distracted and wander off on their own without realizing and we would like to minimize that risk by having you keep an eye on one other than yourself. With that being said, family and friends can, of course, be paired together. “
He had barely been paying any attention. What was he meant to do now? Juno’s dark eyes travelled around his surrounding area to find that everyone was pairing off together. Well, crap. Did he have to pair with someone? Finally, his eyes landed on the one person he could see that wasn’t with someone… her. A scoff fell from his lips as he quickly looked around the opposite direction, praying that someone else would be available to help him out. Alas, it seemed as if God was on his side today. A tall, muscular man began to walk towards him, a grin on his face. The bum bag attached to his waist screamed tourist. “You’re Juno, right?” the man asked in Korean which was surprising considering the man was… well… white.
“Oh… yeah…” Juno responded with a small nod.
“I’m Alex.” the man said with a toothy grin. He extended his hand out to shake Juno’s hand. The boy slowly responded, shaking Alex’s hand before crossing his arms back over again. “I saw you have some fans take a picture with you before?”
“Oh… yeah… I’m… I’m really not meant to be taking pictures with people. Sorry.”
“Oh, don’t worry! I’m not asking for a photo. I was just wondering if you wanted to go for a private walk? Somewhere the fans won’t be able to disturb you and you can see the monkeys?” Alex offered, causing Juno’s eyebrows to raise in curiosity. “I’ve been here over twenty times so I know where all the hidden gem spots are”
It was tempting… very tempting. Juno quickly gazed over his shoulder towards the girl for a second before flickering back to Alex. Yeah, there was no way he was going to pair up with her and her alone. And so, Juno nodded with a soft smile. “Sounds like a good plan. I’m in.”
It took one moment, one moment where Jiwon looked back a the person who had been nothing but a grief since they met, a total thorn in the side, the ruiner of her perfectly planned vacation, to conjure a mini-self up in her head who threw her hands up in the air and went: nope, fuck this shit. Nowhere in the brochure did it mention any responsibility to babysit a spoiled man with boob-grabbing tendencies. All Jiwon wanted was to see those goddamn monkey temples and not worry anything. If mister important wanted to play Tarzan and get himself lost in the jungle, who was she to stop him? The monkeys could have him for all she cared.
Jiwon was about to leave the elitist to his own devices, gaze slowly drawing away, but then another person entered the scene, capturing her attention. She watched how another man approached him, dressed in an outfit that marked himself as a tourist, and heard how a sequence of Korean words left the man’s lips. Now, in any normal circumstance, Jiwon would have figured out that this was none of her business and left the two to talk about whatever, but there was something odd about the man. Something suspicious.
Perhaps half unconsciously, Jiwon found her gaze staying on the two, ears listening in to their conversation. He was offering him a …. private walk? Now that was certainly bold. She shook her head, not quite believing that someone would be so audacious in the execution of a probable scam, and her past concern began to fade away. Seriously, anyone with a brain could see through the amateur ruse and go on their merry wa- wait what. Her waning attention snapped back to its place at the guy’s response, jaw dropping out of perplexity. Did he… actually just fall for that? No, this had to be a joke right. He was not actually that dumb..
The man threw a glance into her direction, making her promptly tear her gaze away and pretend to be heavily occupied with listening to the guide’s ramblings about the history of the place. Once the burning sensation of the gaze receded, Jiwon’s eyes slowly travelled back, just to witness the two sneaking away from the group. Well, she stood corrected. He was, in fact, an idiot.
The voice in her mind issued a multitude of curses too potent for any child to hear and Jiwon annoyingly found herself at the hands of a moral dilemma. At one hand, she was definitely not in the mood to ruin her guided tour by chasing after a total dimwit and a scammer. At the other hand, she could not shake the ominous feeling that was building up inside her. He might be a pervert and an asshole and an idiot, but did he truly deserve to get traumatized in a jungle? Jiwon heaved a sigh, knowing very well what the answer would be, and with one last, mournful glance at the guide, she bid goodbye to her tour and headed into the direction the two disappeared in.
With a sprint or two, it took Jiwon no time to catch up with them, both entering her sight after a few minutes or so. A slight relief washed over her as nothing bad seemed to have happened yet, but the sight did nothing to chase away the sinister feeling sitting at the bottom of her stomach. She took a position slightly off the path to reduce her visibility and continued to observe the interaction between them from a distance. At first glance, it looked as if the man was actually giving him a tour, animatedly talking about the area as if he was, in fact, a frequenter. And as the ‘private tour’ carried on for a longer amount of time than anticipated, it began to sow seeds of doubt in her mind. Had her evaluation of the situation been wrong? You could say that Jiwon was inherently wary of people but her actual instincts had never wronged her before.
It was at that moment, however, when the man spoke up, uttering words that made her blood run cold.
“Well, wasn’t this tour nice? In fact, I think I deserve something in exchange…”
With his back turned to her, Jiwon could see his hand delving into the pockets of his pants. Her heart stopped briefly as the light reflected back on a flash of steel and it took her only a split second to recognize the object. It was a pocket knife. Time slowed down, possibly thanks to the adrenaline that pumped into her veins, and her fight or flight instincts took over. Mind completely numb, all she could feel was her legs moving onto their own accord, taking another sprint to close the distance between. All she could hear was the loud noise of her heart thundering against her ribcage, the blankness of her mind briefly shattering as one praying thought emerged among the surge of adrenaline.. God, sweet Maria, or Jesust Christ, please let her remember the move and not fuck up.
With one literal leap of faith, Jiwon twisted her body and proceeded to aim a kick with all the strength she could muster. Her leg met the man’s back, causing him to double over in pain and lose the grip on the knife. Jiwon took no time for granted and immediately grabbed the boy by the wrist, dragging him behind her into another sprint. She paid absolutely no mind to which way they were going, taking turns left and right, her only pushing concern in the moment being to get the fuck away from that man. It did not matter that her legs burned like hell or that she felt like her lungs were about to combust, she did not stop until it felt as if they could no longer be chased.
After what it seemed like ages, Jiwon finally slowed down and came to a full stop. She leaned over, palms resting on her knees, panting heavily. “ I think”wheeze“ we are safe.” Wheeze. Gosh, she really had to do something about her stamina. After taking a moment to catch semi-normal oxygen levels, she stood straight up again, and her gaze travelled back to the boy.
“ You….” She muttered, hand drawing into a fist. “ Are you out of your fucking mind” Perhaps it had been the lingering adrenaline that triggered it, or maybe it had been the dawning realization of what could've happened, but Jiwon was livid. “Why on earth would you follow some rando to a secluded space? Haven't your parents taught you about stranger danger?!” Somewhere amidst her outburst, an idle thought passed that maybe he had been scared enough for today, but Jiwon liked to think she was justified in her anger, because he most definitely could have been assaulted and she most definitely would have blamed herself for it. “You could have been robbed. Or worse, killed and robbed!” Shaking her head wildly, she threw her hands up in the air. “Seriously man!”
“Have you gone absolutely mad?! You can’t just kick people like that!” Juno yelled at the girl as they ran as quickly as their legs would allow them. Although, it seemed rather pointless to try and even talk right now. From the speed they were running and how focused the girl looked, she probably wasn’t even listening to him anyway. But had she gone mad?! Normal people don’t just go up to random people and kick them like that! Of course, Juno did not see the knife or understand that he was almost a complete goner. All he saw was a dude showing him around, being nice and all, and then this crazy woman kicking the said nice man, grabbing his wrist and pulling him into some crazy maze of a forest.
Finally, they stopped running. And thank God. He couldn’t remember the last time he did that much cardio – and that was saying something considering how many concerts he did during last year. As they stopped, he felt like his legs were giving way as he knelt onto the floor and then turned to sit on his bottom. His heart was racing and his lungs were yearning for oxygen. Jesus Christ, was he going to have a heart attack?
Before he could even completely finish gathering up enough oxygen for his body, he heard her voice – wait, hold up. Did she just swear at him?! His dark eyes widened in pure shock and horror as the girl began to rant on to him. Damn, someone needed a nap. Was she on drugs on something? Juno just sat there, his mouth slightly agape and his eyes wide, watching this crazy lady continue on her outburst. And then she said it. She said something that felt like a dagger to his heart (whether she had intentionally meant to or not)
“Haven’t your parents taught you about stranger danger?”
There was a part of him that wanted to so badly snap back at her. To tell her that actually no, his parents never taught him about stranger danger because… he didn’t know his parents. That his parents had dropped him off in a baby box and he didn’t have any evidence or information of who they were or where they came from. He didn’t have any relatives and he had spent his life wondering who he was because of it. He had been in an orphanage his whole life apart from… well, he had been adopted out to a family. They seemed nice at first but… well… That was three years of his life that he wanted to forget. And after those three years, he was back at the orphanage.
So, as she said those words, it was like something had switched in his mind. He wanted to scream and shout at her for saying something like that. Tell her that she didn’t know jack shit about his childhood and what he was taught. Heck, he wanted to cry as he was beginning to feel overwhelmed by a wave of emotion. Biting down on his lower lip, he glared over at the girl with the overwhelming sense of anger filling up inside of him. He was ready to let it all out.
However, he didn’t. Because all he could think about was how foolish he had been. Yet again, he had blindly trusted someone and according to this girl, the guy could have robbed or killed him. Juno swallowed thickly as he sat there, trying to calm himself down by taking deep breaths in and out. Closing his dark eyes for a moment, he focused on his breathing and tried to listen to the sounds around him; the chirping of the birds and the swaying of the trees in the wind. It was something that his therapist had instructed him to do when he felt overwhelmed. And right now… oh boy. Was he overwhelmed.
Finally, as he felt his heart beginning to slow down, he opened his eyes and looked towards the girl. He wanted to rip into her. He just wanted to do… something. So she could feel the emotional hurt that she had inflicted on him with that simple sentence. But no. He was going to be the bigger person and walk away from it all. Shaking his head lightly, allowing to scoff to fall from his lips as he rolled his eyes at her, he pushed himself up off the floor and stood to his full height. Great. His legs felt like jelly now. Juno then turned in the direction which they had come from and began to walk. He just wanted to get as far away as possible from this damn girl.
Even though their encounters had been nothing but unpleasant for the both of them, the last thing Jiwon expected from the guy she’d literally just saved from being robbed was a glare like she’d just shanked his puppy. Could she have done without the subsequent rant? Perhaps – but that did not erase the absolute idiocy of him blindly following a stranger into a fucking jungle. Her frustration, while unnecessarily vented, was completely justified and it was beyond her how it should evoke such a negative reaction from the guy. What became the cherry on top of the shit cake was the rolling of his eyes, followed by the audacity to just turn around and start walking away.
Jiwon’s jaw dropped at his behaviour, the lack of even a simple thank you even stupefying this female. Jiwon was shocked, but above all, she was seething. If there was one superpower she could obtain that moment, she’d choose supernatural strength just so she could pick him up and hurl that motherfucker into space for being the ungrateful ass that he was. Anger sharpened the angles of her face and she gritted her teeth, right hand balling into a fist. “Fine! Next time someone pulls a knife on you, I will just let you get stabbed!” She shouted after him, before swiftly turning around and stomping off in the opposite direction.
This is what you get for helping an egocentric prick, a part of her grumbled.
Well, this was definitely the last time Jiwon would think about coming to his aid, that was for sure. The thug could very well appear again and wield that knife of his for all she cared. What was the saying? Oh yeah. Karma’s a bitch.
Amidst the vehement fury that was roiling through her entire being, however, was a tiny thought that paused everything. Didn’t she come from the other way…? Jiwon immediately stopped marching, head whipping into the other direction. Ah, fuck. The last she wanted was to be in his presence again. Biting her lip, she debated whether or not to follow the same path or gamble on getting back while taking another way. Sure, she wanted to stick it to the man – but was that really worth risking getting lost in the jungle over? An annoyed sigh ran past her lips as her mind reflected upon that question, her shoulders slumping in defeat.
No, it was not.
With little but no choice, Jiwon turned around and began walking back into the same direction. She took long, hurried strides in order to catch up with him. If they really had to follow the same direction, it was best to pass him so that she wouldn’t need to suffer having him in her sights as well. Ignoring the flaring indignation upon seeing his figure, Jiwon did her best to pretend like he was non-existent. No glances whatsoever when passing, the female instead focused on remembering the way back. It was then, however, when she slowly stumbled upon an unfortunate realization. Turns out that tracing back her steps was way more difficult than anticipated, her focus during the flee apparently not being on every turn that they took.
Her memory began to fail her faster than she’d wished for it to, doubt settling is as the second crossroad left her with three options and no recall which one was the correct one. Ah shit. Did she go straight, left or right? Her eyebrows furrowed deeply while she tried to engage the memory centre of her brain. No, she definitely took a turn here – but was it left or right? Her gaze switched between the two remaining options, hoping that the longer she looked at it, there would be something about the path that triggered cognizance.
That didn’t happen.
“ Fucking unbelievable,” she cursed.
That boy actually managed to get her lost in the fucking jungle.
“Fine! Next time someone pulls a knife on you, I will just let you get stabbed!”
Well, that shouting comment managed to wriggle out a snort and eye roll from the celebrity. She kept on going on about how that guy he had been with previously had a knife and was trying to kill him. In all honesty, Juno was just tossing it up to jealousy. Yeah – that this girl was just some crazed fan who was butthurt over the fact that he didn’t go with her on a tour of this place. I mean, it would explain her behaviour with the photos with the fans before. Making it seem like they were a couple or something.
Juno allowed his legs to automatically do their own thing as his mind continued to wonder and think of the possible identity of the girl that he kept on bumping into. It wasn’t even like it was a pleasant bumping into either. Every time he was near her, disaster struck. Like right now – he was praying to God that there was going to be some sort of signs that gave directions to where they needed to go, or if he could see their footprint in the ground to get a bit of a direction.
And well, he must’ve been so deep in his thoughts because from the corner of his eye, he could see her catching up on speed. And then she overtook him. Ugh. Come to think of it, he didn’t even know her name. But, to be completely honest, she would probably just give him a fake name, wouldn’t she? She was already proving to be a cunning person that it wouldn’t surprise him if she had made up this whole backstory too. However, in the back of his mind, he made a mental note to ask the reception back at the hotel if they could provide him with a name so he could place some sort of… I dunno, restraining order or something? Could he even do that? Dammit. He was really starting to regret coming onto his holiday without any bodyguards or assistants.
Lucky for the pair of them, Juno managed to shake himself out of his internal monologue just in time not to bump into the girl who had just stopped in the middle of the track they were on. He heard her swearing once again (hey, he didn’t know much English, but he knew an English swear when he heard it), and wanted to poke the girl in the eyes. Seriously… what was with all this swearing? Letting out another frustrated sigh and an eye-roll, he crossed his arms over his chest and stood beside her.
“Let me guess… you got us lost, didn’t you?” he muttered under his breath. I mean… it meant he wasn’t talking to her but at the same time, it could be perceived that he was. Quickly reaching for his phone in his pocket, hoping to have some sort of guidance from the maps app, his heart quickly sank into the pits of his stomach. He had no reception. Jesus Christ. She really was a crazy fan who was going to kill him, wasn’t she? She was warning him about some other dude on the verge of murdering him, but it was going to be her, wasn’t it?
As he slid his phone into his pocket, he gave the girl a side-eye glance as he crossed his arms once more. “Right. Was this your plan then?” he asked the girl boldly, turning to completely face her with his body. He stood up straight and raised his chin to try and give an overall manly, strong appearance. He needed to let this girl know that he wasn’t going down without a fight. “Get me lost in the jungle and then blackmail me or something? Or are you mad because I told you off for talking to those fans? Or are you asking for ransom money or some stupid… shit? What is it that you want so I get as far away from you as possible and as quickly as possible?”
To say that Jiwon’s mood was low would be an understatement. It was hitting the negative digits at the moment and the last thing that she needed in the situation was to be reminded of the fucker that caused it all. Unfortunately, a whisper near her shattered the momentary illusion that she was there alone and Jiwon’s glare dragged towards the figure, the wrath behind it magnifying as he shifted the blame onto her. She balded her first and bit her tongue all while summoning every ounce of willpower not to enter her punching-in-the-face state ( although he definitely deserved to get royally decked in her opinion.) Taking a sharp inhale, Jiwon forced to tear her gaze away and muttered to herself: “ignore him Jiwon.” followed by “he’s not real.” and hoped that by saying it aloud, somewhere in the universe, Thanos would have her back and snap him away from this world.
Her lips curved into an amused smirk, the image of him fading before her eyes bringing some comedy back into what was currently a tragic situation. But then he opened his mouth again, this time asking…..what her plan was?? Jiwon narrowed her gaze back to him - only to be subjected to the most deranged rant ever. Sure, she had been the involuntary listener to Karen level of delusions before during her time as a retail worker but this, this reached a new grandeur of bullshittery. He was on crack. On actual crack.
He didn’t need any saving, she and the robber needed to be saved from him.
The absurdity of it all overrode the rage she was feeling earlier and for a moment, all Jiwon could do was laugh out loud. “Ya, what the fuck are you talking about,” she wheezed, before trying to regain her composure. Moving past the initial amusement, Jiwon let out one last snicker before taking a deep breathe, her expression shifting as she shot him one unimpressed glance. If this dude wanted to delude himself then that was his problem, but she was tired of having to deal with his insufferable ass.
“Listen here buddy,” she started and took a step forward, closing in the distance even more between them, “ I really don’t know how you got your ego so inflated that you believe everything revolves around you – but here’s a newsflash: it doesn’t. I don’t know who the fuck you are supposed to be except for an egocentric maniac who has been nothing but accusatory. You want to get away from me? Be my guest and walk along dude. Maybe you can meet that other crazy guy and get him to tell you the way out after bonding over being mutual fuckheads-”
Jiwon glared into his eyes, silently daring him to speak up again. In all honesty, she could do this for ages, her own stubbornness combined with her targeted dislike generating enough fuel for the fight. But that drive waned as a part of her began to question the worth of it all. No matter how willing she would be to throw hands, some idiots were just not worth the time nor energy. She said what she wanted to say – so was there really a point in continuing the argument?
Jiwon let out a sigh, before throwing her hands up in the air and huffing:
“You know what? Don’t even bother, I am out of here.”
She turned around and started to march in the left direction. It wouldn’t even bother her if it was the wrong one, all the woman wanted was to get away from him. If anything, she could just climb a tree and see if she can spot anything from above.
Best case scenario: she would be able to recognize a path or receive a phone signal.
Worst case scenario: she would not find anything and be stuck up there.
The ride back to the hotel seemed to have taken longer than the ride to the monkey temple. Maybe it was because there was a high, awkward tension in the bus that everyone seemed to be able to catch on to. Even those who didn’t speak Korean or knew that he even existed. Juno had his head slumped against the window, watching the locals drive by on their scooters and beeping their horns. Thank God he managed to score a seat next to some random person because that witch got onto the bus.
And, also, thank God he decided to part ways with her when he had the chance and found his way back to the tour group. He had managed to find a couple of tourists and with his broken English, explained to them what happened. Those poor people, having to witness his fit of passionate storytelling with the limited amount of English he was able to muster. It seemed to work, however, as they were able to bring him back to their tour group.
And now, it was finally time to relax.
After the awkward bus ride back to the hotel, Juno made a straight line to his hotel villa room, where he remained the next four hours. Someone would say relaxing would involved lying around, watching movies and doing nothing. Well, Juno couldn’t find himself able to do that. Apparently, all the years of being on the go was second-hand nature to him, and he felt like he had to be doing something when he got back to the hotel. So, for three hours, he decided to work on some tracks he had been in the middle of creating and producing on his laptop. Heck, he could have gone for longer. But the humid, thick air was starting to get to him, even with the air conditioning on and just sitting around in his shorts. So, he prompted for a swim in his private pool that was attached to his villa. It was so nice to be able to go for a swim topless and not have to worry about paparazzi or stalkers taking any pictures of him and spreading it across the world wide web.
After doing a couple of laps in the pool, he could feel his stomach starting to gurgle. Right. It was dinner time. He got out of the pool, showered, and prepared himself to go to the main restaurant area. As he placed his clothes and shoes on, he began to chant to himself I will not see that girl, hoping to speak it into existence. Come on, Universe. You owed him this much. Especially when that monkey jumped onto his shoulder right before he ran into those lovely tourists that helped him out.
Once he was ready to go, he slipped his phone into his pocket and made his way over to the restaurant. The first thing he noticed; the crazy girl wasn’t there. Thank God. He could eat his dinner in peace. Releasing a soft sigh of relief, he allowed the staff to bring him to a table and thanked them as they handed the menu to him. The first thing that came right into his sight was the specials menu. It seemed to be a feast for couples, along with cocktails afterwards. More than sixty per cent off for meals and drinks for couples. Well… Too bad he wasn’t apart of a couple.
All Jiwon had wanted was to see the monkey temples. Yet, thanks to a certain lunatic, she’d ended up testing her dexterity against a tree like a fucking monkey herself. Desperate times called for desperate measures but hanging from a branch akin to a sloth certainly wasn’t her proudest moment. It was only to her luck ( as far as you could call it that) that some lone worker was en route and caught her clambering up the tree. Cue to her awkwardly climbing down again and trying to explain her situation so there was no confusion in the image he came across and her actual plan. He spoke very little English but with an old fashioned game of charades, Jiwon did manage to get her point across and with his guidance, returned back to the starting point.
She had half hoped that karma would bite that guy’s ass and make him miss the ride back home, but her hopes were mercilessly crushed as soon as she stepped back on the bus. The sight of him sparked a flash of anger, furore existing behind her eyes like lightning across a sky of midnight. She couldn’t believe she missed this whole guided tour because of that blue-haired crackhead. The only thing that could remotely salvage the day was an endless buffet of chicken wings and booze. Preferably far away from him. A ‘hmph’ left her lips but other than that, Jiwon did well on pretending he didn’t exist – though the tension remained palpable throughout the whole ride back.
Back at the hotel, Jiwon spent her time before dinner within the comforts of her room. After the unexpected, adrenaline-induced trip to the monkey temples, it was nice to enter full-on relaxation mode and mindlessly watch some sappy movies on tv. As dinner time neared and her stomach started to produce whale noises as a sign of hunger, she finally left the bed again and hopped into a quick shower. Her previous outfit got traded for a new one and within fifteen minutes, she was on her way to dinner.
Just as she reached the restaurant area again, a couple passed her and Jiwon could not help but to overhear their conversation. They were talking about a special menu? Wait… with sixty per cent off food and drinks?! Oh fuck yeah! In her head, a mini Jiwon fist-bumped - only to get shot right in the heart by the words regarding the exclusivity of the menu. Ah man… there went her plan to eat herself pregnant and get shit-faced drunk.. Half-sullen, Jiwon entered the restaurant, eyes sweeping over the room to find a seat.
And in came another punch, striking her below the belt and leaving her stomach churning in disgust. For a moment, Jiwon debated leaving the room then and there, finding no energy to sit through dinner in the same room as the ruiner of her holiday. But through the debate, there was a thought slipping into her mind. A delusional one. The word ‘couple’ tied with ‘sixty per cent off meals and drinks’ swam through her head, absurd in its current yet unwelcomely tempting.
Should she- nahhhh it would be too degrading….. but the booze though-
Jiwon pursed her lips as her mind warred between two sides, the question forming an inner dilemma indeed. How bad does she want to get drunk tonight? Her hunger and need for alcohol to save the day weakened her defences, leaving her with a resolve that teetered over the edge of stability. Her eyes were drawn to a waiter who passed with a large cocktail and yeah… there was no point in denying which side was winning..
Jiwon took a breathe, bitterly swallowed her pride, and began to walk towards the table. “Ah babe,” she greeted with a bright smile. (Someone give her a damn Oscar). “Did you wait long?” Sitting down across him, she blinked innocently, before switching over to Korean.
“ Listen, I know you hate me and, trust me, the feeling is mutual. BUT I also think we have suffered enough for the day and deserve a feast with some nice drinks, so why not make a truce for the night and get that special menu for couples?” She suggested, gesturing at the menu. Her smile dropped slightly as her expression turned more serious and Jiwon leaned a bit closer, her tone turning into a whisper: “I will promise to leave you completely alone for the rest of the time you’re here if you play along and we can break up publicly at the end of the night – so what d’ya say? Want to let loose for the night and get drunk?”
Normally, this would be the time he would take a few moments to relax and read what was going on in the news on his phone. However, thanks to someone, his phone screen had been shattered beyond use. Therefore, one of the ladies at the front desk organised to get his phone fixed today. However, that type of service took time, and he wouldn’t be getting his phone back until tomorrow morning.
A soft sigh slipped past his lips as he stared out of the window and began to wonder just what type of news he might’ve been missing. Well, he friggen hoped that there was no news on Twitter about him being with some mystery girl on some romantic getaway. Ugh, the thought of it made him shiver in disgust. A frown formed at the thought mere thought of his manager opening up twitter and being bombarded with retweets of those golden pictures from today. Yeah, he would be in a great deal of trouble. He could feel it.
“Ah, babe. Did you wait long?”
Juno turned his head back around to come face to face with a brightly smiling psychopath. His eyes widened, internally screaming in confusion. Did she knock herself in the head while she was alone at that Monkey Temple? Panic was rising through his body; this was just what he needed. Another thing that would provide as evidence that he was on some sort of romantic getaway. His mouth hung open slightly from complete disbelief, but before he could manage to say just how horrified he was to this girl, she spoke to him… In Korean.
Within the next few minutes, an array of emotions ran through his body. First, he was in agreeance; yes, he hated her and didn’t trust her. Then, annoyed – what the hell did she mean she hated him and didn’t trust him?! Third – confused as hell. What did she mean make a truce? Forth… holy hell. She wanted to pretend to be a couple for the night to get the discounted meal deal, didn’t she? He was almost tempted to express to her that he was willing to pay for her food just so she could stay the hell away from him for the night.
And then she said something that made him feel like angels were flying down from heaven and kissing the theoretical tears from his cheeks. She told him that she would completely leave him alone for the rest of his trip. That was all he ever wanted. Praise Jesus, the girl was starting to finally use her head! But was he really willing to do it? To pretend that they were dating just for the sake of her leaving him alone for the remainder of his time here? Ah… it looked like he had a lot of explaining to his manager when getting back home to Korea.
“Are you ready to order, sir?”
The voice of the waitress snapped him out of his daydreaming trance. His eyes snapped away from the girl who sat in front of him before turning to the waitress. “Oh… uh…” he paused for a moment, before looking down the menu that was in his hands. Alright… It looked like he was going in for it. “This uh… for… me and… her” he said in his very broken English, pointing from the menu special before pointing back and forth between himself and the girl.
Not gonna lie. Jiwon half expected her plan to backfire and to be officially dubbed as Boo Boo the Fool by some real-life narrator because, let’s be honest, it would not be the first time for her to get clowned given the trajectory this holiday seemed to be following. Jimmy – or whatever he was called - ( she did know it started with a J) had the absolute power to spoil her master plan and possessed over the hatred to do so. He also looked like she had just escaped a mental hospital, which was, admittedly, not too far off of how she was beginning to feel now that a moment of lucidity began to creep in. Had someone told he she’d be seeking to fraternize with her recently established enemy earlier today, she would've laughed her ass off and maybe spit in your drink. Yet here she was…
Oh well, it was this or having to pay for a full meal and drinks. Jiwon might despise this conceited crackhead, but she hated paying a jesus load of money to get drunk even more.
As the waitress approached their table, Jiwon merely gazed back at him with challenge behind the eyes, right eyebrow slightly raised. His English, albeit broken, conveyed the message, and for once, she found her positively surprised by him. Wow. Did that speech really work? Damn – maybe he was not that bad....... ehh, who was she even kidding; that fucker still got them lost in the jungle and proceeded to blame her. Nevertheless, Jiwon could (begrudgingly) respect the fact that he didn’t throw her under the bus and decided to play along with her game. Whatever his motive was for even participating in this con, it resulted in some cheap booze and that’s all she could ask for tonight.
Jiwon nodded in agreement and flashed the waitress a smile once she looked at her. The waitress, oblivious to the lie that was being spun at the moment, noted down their order. “Excellent choice, the food and drinks will be right with you.” She responded with a polished smile, before leaving them alone again. After watching the figure of the waitress disappear, Jiwon lowered her gaze to the table as the two fell into awkward quietude. At least, it felt rather awkward to her. Right, well, she supposed it was bound to happen since she had just been cursing his existence a few moments prior. It was not like they were going to share friendship bracelets now and braid each other’s hair. Underneath the chosen charade of lovers, their mutual disdain continued to burn like the depths of hell they shared with one another these last two days. Undoubtedly, she could choke on this dinner and he could suck her toe for all he and she cared.
Even so, Jiwon cleared her throat, feeling more and more uncomfortable with the awkward silence dragging on. “Soooo…” leaning back in her seat, she took a moment to decide which words would follow. It was probably best to start with some basics, right? “I guess since we are boyfriend and girlfriend now, I might as well introduce myself.” A faint grimace crossed her face as an internal cringe occurred at the mention of being a couple, but Jiwon managed to school her expression back to neutral (if only to keep up the whole façade) and continued,” anyway, name’s Jiwon - though, most of my friends call me Jane since I lived in the US for most of my life.” Jiwon wasn’t sure why she shared that last piece of information, knowing very well he didn’t give a shit about her. Although, with the same logic, she guessed it didn’t hurt giving some trivia of herself. They didn’t care about each other so he’d probably not even try to remember anything about her.
“What about you?” she tilted her head as a sardonic smile punctuated her expression. “ Tell me. Who are you that you are so convinced the world revolves around you and that a random person is trying to blackmail you? Are you some sort of heir? Son of a pompous politician? Part of the Yakuza?”
What? Just because they were supposed to be a couple now did not mean she would refrain from tossing a few acerbic jabs here and there. For one, he deserved it, and for two – buried deep within the contempt – there was actually a sliver of curiosity.
Really, just who was this dude and why did he have such a paranoid stick up his ass?
Juno stared at the waitress with two different faces. One that said okay, please believe that she’s my partner so she can get some free shit and then leave me alone for forever. The other face said please save me from this psycho bitch before she pushes in me into the jungles, murders me and then wears my skin as a trophy. Sadly, it seemed as if the waitress was only able to pick up the first face. She told them that their food and drinks would be right with them soon, turned at the heel and left.
And just like that, Juno was left with regret.
Why the hell did he say yes to this? Oh, so she would leave him the hell alone and he could start actually enjoying his holiday. That’s right. Releasing a heavy exhaled sigh through his nose, he leant back into his chair and crossed his arms in front of himself. He wanted nothing more than to be as far away as possible from this girl. He brought his gaze to the window, looking out to see the sun setting in the distance and the stars starting to twinkle and dance along the growing night sky. I suppose he could just ignore her and keep watching the sunset, right?
He heard her dragged out ‘so’, causing him to slowly and lazily bring his attention back to her. She then had the audacity to throw about the phrases boyfriend and girlfriend so casually which made him want to have a heart attack. Someone just kill him now. It was going to be more pleasant than spending another moment with this girl. And, apparently… this girl had a name. Jiwon. Well, apparently her friends called her Jane in America (cue Juno mockingly saying that phrase in chatspeak form with a Spongebob meme: My FrIenDs CaLl Me JaNe). But they weren’t in America – and he wasn’t her friend. So, Jiwon it was.
He thought that maybe her introducing herself would be… a pleasant experience. It seemed like she wasn’t about to launch over the table and strangle him. However, it was all going downhill as she opened her mouth once again and began to throw out her accusations. That she thought that he thought the world revolved around him, or that he was an heir, or even a gangster. A snort slipped past his nostrils as he wiggled lightly in his chair at her questions, followed by an eye roll. Did he really have to play civilly with her? After all, he was doing her a favour, wasn’t he? She could leave any time she wanted to. So, he didn’t need to be kind, right?
“Yes. I am a part of the Yakuza” he said in a mocking tone. “Are you a freaking idiot?” Frowning at Jiwon, he wiggled again and readjusted his arms so he was crossing his arms even tighter than before. “My name is Juno. I’m an entertainer.” And that’s all she was going to get. I mean, entertainer meant a lot of different things, and it covered all the things he had been doing over the last few years. Singing, dancing, hosting, acting; you name it. He didn’t want to come out straight away and say he was an idol because that general made people think he was some sort of asshole.
And what luck! Saved by the bell! The waitress made her way to their table with two large cocktails in her hands. Even before she could place them down, Juno had taken one into his own hands. Lips planted on the straw; he practically inhaled the drink. If he was going to have to have dinner with this girl, then he was going to freaking drink. It was the only way he was going to get through it without wanting to jump off a nearby cliff.
Jiwon’s first reaction was to snort. Sorry, entertaining who? The aliens on Mars since no other living organism on this planet could possibly want to be subjected to whatever he labelled as entertainment? Ha, right. She had to laugh. There was no way with that personality. The fucker was as conceited as Louis XIV. Maybe you could tolerate him if you were simultaneously deaf and blind, but she already had the misfortune of spending more than five minutes in his presence and was stuck in contemplation whether or not to kill him or herself. Also, wasn’t Juno a girls name?? “An entertainer huh,’’ she echoed, tone unconvinced. ” Do people pay you to shashay away from them then?”
Okay, thinking back on it, there might be a fragment of truth to the whole story about him being an entertainer. The paranoia surrounding being filmed, the old man recognizing him, the girls asking for a photo of him....Maybe he indeed have some eminence back in Korea. It did not matter though; he could very well be regarded as the equivalent of Kim Soo-hyun ( what? She did watch some kdrama), he could still go fuck himself. Her judgement, regardless of how swift and harsh it was made, always had a finality to it. Jiwon was good at holding grudges, letting it assemble into her personal pandora’s box of pettiness. Slight her once and you’re already on thin ice. Slight her another time and you will be well reminded of it through snarky commentary right till the very end. In other words, Juno needed to perform an act of god, like absolving world hunger, if he ever wanted her to change her opinion of him.
Jiwon crossed her arms and averted her gaze, right before catching the holy sight of drinks coming their way. Finally!! Alcohol !! Her hand snatched the cocktail from the platter and with great urgency, began downing it, not even bothering with the straw. The waitress widened her eyes, completely taken back as she watched how the male practically vacuumed the drink through the straw and how the female threw it back down her throat. Uhhh, okay? Quietly but awkwardly, the waitress retreated, too slack-jawed to even utter a word to the guests.
Alcohol burned Jiwon’s throat as it slid down but she did not care; this was the closest sensation to the sweet release of death she’d been craving since the two were bound together she was going to get. All she wanted was to get shit-faced drunk and forget that this evening, hell, this whole day, ever happened. Let it conquer her system and activate the blackout! Finishing the drink in no time, Jiwon half-slammed the glass back on the table and let out a gratified ‘aaah’. Her gaze then narrowed to her purposed boyfriend, eyebrow quirking up at the sight of him speed inhaling his cocktail. Huh, guess they were at least on the same page with the plan for tonight.
An idea rolled around, one that might make this night a tad more fun if not bearable. Jiwon squinted her eyes, silently analysing whether or not the notion was even worth entertaining. Based on previous experiences, Juno was probably a stick in the mud -- but what did she have to lose? If he didn’t want to participate, then she at least got the confirmation that he was an absolute bore. “You know,” she started while resting her chin on the back of her hand, “ I bet I can beat you in a drinking competition.” Her lips curved up into another fabricated smile, a daring glint present in her eyes.
The alcohol consumed him like a warm wave. Oh, man. This was absolute heaven. Feeling the last of the drink slide up his straw, now being faced with nothing but air, Juno placed his glass onto the table. A soft sigh, released with relief and contentment, slipped past his lips before he heard something that caught his attention. Jiwon’s challenge. Dark eyes flickered up to meet the girl’s dangerous glare, hearing the passion in her words like they were boiling from her tummy. A drinking competition? Oh, really?
It had been a long while since the last time he had properly, intentionally got drunk. I mean… years. As an idol, your image if everything. All it took was for him to do one stupid thing – for one stupid snapshot – and he could lose his job. He would be condemned. He would never be able to work in the music, acting or art industry ever again. In fact, the last time he got drunk, he had been given an official warning by the CEO of the company. Now, this was four years ago. Surely things have changed since then?
Well, no. One of the guys he drank with on that night was one of the managers for a girl group in the company. He was recently found drunk as all hell in a club downtown a couple of months ago and he was fired for all the pictures that rose on the internet afterwards. So, if Juno was going to get drunk, he was going to have to be smart about it. Gazing around himself, he made sure to see if there was anyone around that could possibly know who he was.
Okay, there were a lot of white people. He highly doubted they knew him. Plus, it seemed as if everyone here was too transfixed on their spouse or partner to even give a rats ass about him and the girl that sat across from him. Not to mention, this was a very high rated hotel getaway. If he caught someone taking his picture, he would just have to tell the staff and they would be sorted out, right? Looking back at Jiwon, his eyes narrowed at the girl, meeting their daring complexion. It had been a long time since he had been drunk. So, dammit, he deserved it.
“You’re on” he said, reaching his hand out in order to shake hers upon the agreement. “First person who can’t sit up normally loses. This also means being clumsy. You fall off your chair, trip over, or even hit yourself against the table – you lose. And you pay for everything. Or are you too afraid to accept? I mean, I’ve seen the way your eyes light up when you see a buffet. I’m going to assume that losing it going to hurt you a hell of a lot more than it’s going to hurt me. Am I right?”
Oh yeah. That was Juno’s way of basically calling Jiwon out for being ‘poor’ or ‘cheap’. No wonder he was never that great at making friends.
The satisfaction of Juno joining her in a drinking competition rapidly dwindled under the barely veiled jab that followed, unmistakably aiming her current monetary status. He was not exactly wrong, but that did not give him the right to announce it to the public, aka her. Contempt built up again and Jiwon readied a jeer to be tossed back at him. Maybe something among the lines of: ‘ says the entertainer whose career probably only exists because his daddy slipped someone some money.’ Or would that be going too far? Eh, whether or not she would issue an insult did not matter anyway; her victory was as good as secured judging on that wimpy figure of his. “afraid?” she scoffed, “I’m the one who came up with the drinking competition in the first place..” her hand met his and she performed a firm shake, eyes never leaving his.
“ don’t worry, I’ll allow you to keep your dignity and won’t tell a soul that you lost a drinking competition to a girl’’ it was not as much as a taunt as it was close to her own believed truth. There was no way that she was losing this competition. Jiwon’s college friends did not raise a fucking lightweight nor did her competitive nature ever let her down during these kinds of challenges. She was in it to win it, especially with a free dinner and drinks at stake. Raising her hand, she flagged down a nearby waiter and flashed him an excited smile.
“two more cocktails please – the strongest you have.”
The waiter nodded in response and turned around again.
“Oh, and keep them coming till we say otherwise please.” She called after him, before shooting Juno a grin. Finally, this was going to get interesting. She definitely could not wait to see what a little bit of alcohol would do to that uptight ass of his. Hopefully, it resulted into him making a fool of himself ( which was not even that difficult given his already embarrassing excuse of existence), and gain her at least one happy memory of this vacation.
It did not take long for the cocktails to arrive again, officially commencing the drinking competition, and Jiwon crackled her knuckles, shifting right into battle mode.
Time to take this one home, baby.
Now, Jiwon could not really pinpoint where exactly her mind started becoming more and more nebulous. Was it this the third or fourth cocktail? Her eyes squinted down at the empty glasses on the table, the weight of the alcohol-induced haze becoming more and more of a physical and mental quagmire as time went on. Fuck. she needed to keep her mind awake and focused before it would ruin her win. Her gaze narrowed to her competitor – and it could very well be the inebriated state talking, but for a moment, she actually saw something else than an insufferable crackhead.
“Ya…” she uttered while gripping her cocktail like it was her only grasp on reality at the moment, “Did you know you actually don’t look that bad?” yup, she was definitely drunk. Her gaze was completely blank, but she quickly let out a chuckle and shook her head. “too bad you are kind of an asshole.” okay, maybe not that drunk. Nevertheless, the last semblance of sobriety did not withhold Jiwon from delving into new depths.
“who are you really, juno?” she questioned, honest curiosity for once lacing her words. ”Like….” she raised her glass up in a swift motion, causing some of it to spill over the rim and run down her arm. Jiwon did not care, instead too focused on forming coherent words together in that muddled mind of hers. “who hurt you?”
Keep it together, Juno. You can’t let her win. Sure, you have the money to pay if you do lose. But it’s not about the money. It about the fact that she wants to make you look like a complete and total loser. And you’re not a loser! You’re a winner!
Dear God, when did he become so light-weighted?!
As he concentrated on the drink before him, his mind was chaotic. It had been such a long time since he had taken the opportunity to drink that it seemed as if his body wasn’t quite used to it anymore. Back in when he could sneak in a couple of beers here and then, he was able to defiantly get in about ten drinks before he could really start to feel the effects of it all. Well, three cocktails down, and he was beginning to feel it. And boy… he was not going down without a fight.
Instead, he brought his attention back to the drink before him. The food was yet to arrive and they were already on their fourth – or was it fifth – drink. He was in the middle of inhaling what ever number drink it was when he heard Jiwon speak. And dear Lord, he had wished he had never heard her begin with. “Did you know you actually don’t look that bad?”
Well, that was one way to make him almost kill himself. From the sudden shock of the statement, he could feel the alcohol burn as it felt like it was pouring out of his nose. He had to pull away from the drink to try and ‘cough it out’; his eyes turning teary and bloodshot as he banged onto his chest and attempted to catch his breath once more. Jesus. He did not expect that to come out of her mouth. Well, he did expect the second part. But the first. You still got it, he thought to himself once he was able to gather his thoughts together.
But man, this girl was making it hard not to burst out in laughter. He thought that the pair of them were drinking, not out here to get high. A wide smile fell upon his drunk little face, a giggle slipping past his lips. His cheeks were burning hot – thanks to the Asian glow – and his head was spinning slightly. Resting his elbows upon the table, placing his weight on them, and raising a hand to fiddle with the straw of his drink, another drunken giggle slipped from his lips.
“Who hurt you…. Huh… that’s funny” he said, wagging his brows at her (in a rather poor drunken matter, might I add) before gazing out to the view to the right of him. The sun was kissing the land as it was setting. The view before him, the question Jiwon had just asked, and the heavy alcohol running through his system were combining together in a form of a key. A key to unlock things Juno had hoped to keep buried down in the pits of his unconsciousness. The good. The bad. The ugly.
“Sometimes it’d be nice to know who I really am…” he said, followed by a soft sigh. Was he talking to himself or to Jiwon? Hell, even he didn’t know. Maybe he was just having a monologue like those people on K-Drama’s do. “Be nice to know how it all began. How my Umma and Appa met. How they decided to have a child. Be nice to know if I get my creativity from my Umma, and if I get my round face from my Appa… But… There are things that we really don’t know. And things that we will probably never know”
Slowly and lazily, he brought his gaze back to the girl before him before that drunken smile from before came creeping back onto his face. “Nice try. Trying to get me all deep and emotional to drink more and lose our little bet, hey?” he chuckled before leaning forward and sipping from his straw.
Jiwon had half expected to get no answer at all or to be subjected to a long-winded rant about the poor folk and how his father gave money and gifts instead of actual affection. It just seemed like the most logical options, but then again, this dude looked absolutely wasted, so who knew what might fall out of his mouth. Perhaps the guy could surprise her after all, and not with one that stimulated the urge to either kick him in the nuts or strangle him.
His first words were a buzz in the ears, distant and distorted. Her attention was held by woozy quality of the mind and the somehow fascinating movement of his lips. Now, future sober Jiwon would definitely like to have it noted down in history that this was purely the alcohol speaking and that any current thoughts seeping into the mind did, in no way, reflect her real character – but damn… It would have been a lie if she claimed not to have had a momentary weakness in judgement. With an alcohol addled mind, she almost dared to wonder what it would be like to do something as ridiculous as kissing someone like Juno.
Just as the thought had barely managed to pour through a crack in the wall of her usual common sense, one sober wave came crashing through. It immediately took a hold of the intruder and quickly drowned it before any actual action could be born from it. Jiwon, now fleetingly more sober than drunk, felt utterly appalled at herself. Did she really just….? Nope, nopeeeee – there was no way. It was the drugs. This crackhead had actually drugged her. That was the only explanation for that nonsensical wonder. No, it did not matter that she has had her eyes on the cocktails the whole time and therefore, the chances of him slipping some illegal liquid or powder in her drink were nihil. Jiwon was going to hang onto that theory if only for the self-preservation of her own sanity.
Kissing him? Right, as if-
“Sometimes it’d be nice to know who I really am…”
Wait… he was still talking? Jiwon had to take a moment to direct her focus back to the conversation that was, apparently, still flowing. Easier said than done when under the influence, but she did manage to hear most of the monologue that followed. Nice to know how it all began … appa and umma… things we don’t know… hold on a minute- her eyes widened as the words transformed into puzzle pieces that all started to fit together, leading to a realization that caused even her to feel a pang in the heart. Juno did not know who his parents were. She openly gaped at him and for once, Jiwon was bereft of any comeback. This sure was a shock of a revelation, and with how Juno acted afterwards, not even an intentional one. Nevertheless, she felt this surge of empathy that made her expression soften. Sure, he was the most insufferable person she’d met but even she was not heartless enough to stomp all over the raw emotion he’d just, albeit incidentally, displayed.
“wow…I’m sorry dude-“ she muttered after a while, before cringing at her shitty response. Think of something better, you idiot, a voice hissed in the mind. Jiwon proceeded to clear the throat, hoping that this action would somehow cause all the jumbled words to sort themselves out. It probably didn’t, but that didn’t refrain her from scooting her chair closer to her drunk opponent and trying again.
“ hey look, jimbo - we both know we don’t like each other, right?” she started with a smug smile. “so that also means you know that I don’t have any intention in pandering to your ass. “ her expression softened a bit up again. “therefore, take it from me to tell you that you should not let this eat you up inside. Maybe you will meet your parents and maybe it will be nice, or maybe you will discover that they are actually horrible people, who knows-“ oh, fuck - perhaps that was not the exact right thing to say… “ uh, what I mean is, you don’t know exactly what you could have known or what could have been, so why mourn it? Don’t go searching for the holes inside your life but rather focus on everything else that fills it, yanno?”
Jiwon smiled drunkenly at him, before spreading her arms.
“Sayyy this…. I’ll give you a hug, you want a hug?”
oh yeah, sober jiwon was definitely quaking in her boots right now.
Well, that was surely a depressing thought. But it was also the truth. Maybe it was when he was with his members? Maybe they had just got off stage and were telling each other that they had done such a great job? Or… maybe it was… his… manager? A small frown spread across his face as he tried to deeply remember when exactly he had his last hug. Now, come to think of it… the last person to hug him was that… imposter. The old lady and man who had claimed to be his parents. Who had arranged a meeting to see him and tried to convince him that he was their son. They pretended to cry before him. They pretended to speak of these memories of holding him as a baby before giving him up to the orphanage. However, that was the first sign that they weren’t his real parents. He asked them how old he was when they handed him over; they said he was a couple of months. Well, that was completely wrong. For Juno had been five years old when he entered the orphanage. Not only that, he wasn’t brought to an orphanage. The staff at the amusement park that his parents left him at called the police and he went to the station with them. And when his parents were nowhere to be found, he was brought to an orphanage.
So, right now in his drunken state of mind and emotions, a hug from this random girl who seemed to have some sort of sympathy for him was the best thing in the world. A soft smile formed on his face and before he could even control himself, Juno stood up from his spot and made his way around the table and next to Jiwon. With her arms spread wide, he received the warmth of her hug and wrapped his own arms around her as he leant down. For a split moment, he swore he could almost feel himself choke up. There was an actual warmth to the embrace that he didn’t want to let go of. But, of course, if he didn’t then it would be weird. Slowly, after a few brief moments of the warm embrace, Juno began to slowly bring his arms away from her as he slowly stood up once again. What was he supposed to do now? Say thank you? He looked down at the girl, almost stuck for words for some stupid reason.
“Photo for the website?”
Juno turned around to see a photographer wearing a staff shirt and a wide grin on his face. Oh – did he… want to take a picture of the pair of them? Oh – oh. It was like at that moment Juno’s brain began to malfunction. “Uhh, ah. Okay?” he responded in English to the man, giving him a thumbs up to confirm that it would be okay for a photo. Quickly, he walked back over to the other side of the table and took his seat once again. Wait, this was going to be okay, right? He wasn’t going to get into any trouble with his manager, was he? Well, he was yet to check twitter but he was sure as hell certain that today’s little monkey temple visit would’ve made some sort of waves already.
Admittedly, the offer originated out of a drunken spur of a moment kind of thought rather than a conscious mind – but the fact that Juno actually took her up on the offer was not what surprised Jiwon the most out of it. Rather than the stiff embrace she pictured, a wave of emotions came pouring out of his whole frame as he placed himself into her arms. With the way his arms wrapped around her form with a tightness perhaps a bit too potent, Jiwon could not help but wonder if this hug held a greater significance for him than what might meet the eye. It almost felt like there were hidden words beneath his skin, its lines barely pressing against the surface as the two held each other in their arms – too faint to unearth yet too tangible to ignore. This, of course, could all have been an imagination shaped from a drunken mind as she was not very lucid either, but it did not stop Jiwon from tightening her embrace in one last comforting squeeze. If anything, she figured that she could just blame her sentimentalism on the alcohol the following morning. Despite their ill-fated history, even she was not cruel enough to take his emotions and craft a knife out of it to stab him in the back at that moment.
Maybe he didn’t deserve her kindness –- but perhaps, in light of an inebriated epiphany, the undeserving indeed needed it the most.
Jiwon flashed him a smile as he released himself from the embrace and slowly stood up again. A silence filled the air between them, a slight awkwardness hanging about from the aftermath of the unexpected, but before any of the two could speak up again, another voice shattered the stillness. Her attention was pulled to a person with a camera in their hands, the words slowly seeping into her brain with a delay she could barely register what was happening in front of her. Juno agreed to something, and suddenly the man with the camera was saying smile and cheese and –
Jiwon had narrowly been able to school her expression into another smile before a photo was taken. The man’s objective for the photo was still obscure to her, but if no-photo Juno had agreed to entertain the man’s request, she supposed it was completely harmless. She just hoped she didn’t look as drunk as she felt.
The photographer glanced down at his camera, before giving them the thumbs up and smiling brightly as he thanked them. His frame was already backing away, but with his face still turned to the couple, he didn’t see the smaller figure passing behind him. Bumping into a girl, the photographer caused the phone to drop from her hand onto the ground, close to Jiwon’s seat.
While he was apologizing profusely for the knocking in, Jiwon had lowered herself to reap the phone off the ground. She picked the mobile device up, gaze briefly resting on the screen as she planned to give it back – but then something caught her eye. Her mind paused for a moment, briefly in belief that she was mistaken in what she saw. But even through the haze of the alcohol, a second glance was all it took for the image to sharpen and reveal the content on the girl’s phone. A photo of both her and Juno from a corner perspective was lit up across the screen, one that exhibited their embrace.
What the hell?
“Uh...why do you have a photo of us?” Jiwon questioned out loud in English, gaze narrowing to the girl who had paled significantly.
The girl’s eyes widened at her phone and she slowly began to stammer in response. “O-oh.. W-well…It’s that...ah … uhm…” it was clear that she hadn’t anticipated being caught, her face growing redder by the second. Maybe Jiwon’s eyes were burning a bit too intimidatingly, because the girl proceeded to turn to Juno and bowed deeply, before continuing in Korean.
“I’m sorry but I'm just a big fan of yours! I couldn’t help it and I didn’t want to disturb your dinner so-“
“Ya!” Jiwon interrupted with a glare, wholly unimpressed by the displayed act and slightly annoyed she was being totally ignored.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not. You can’t just snipe pictures of us without consent. This is an invasion of privacy.”
The girl’s innocent expression faded at the accusation, indignation flaring behind her eyes as she looked at Jiwon. She crossed her arms and let out a soft huff, not even bothering to hide the dislike she felt towards the girl who just got to hug her bias.
“Why are you being so rude?? I meant no harm with it, just wanted a picture of Juno -- and you.”
It was funny how alcohol worked on the mind, because this morning Jiwon could not care less about someone taking a picture of him or her. Hell, she had even encouraged it back then. But now, with the memories too blurred and emotions too heightened, all she felt was anger on behalf of them both.
And the thing was, Jiwon never let anger boil long, instead letting it erupt like a rain of fire hailing down below.
“Me? Rude??” she shot up from her chair, her stance growing ready to fight. “I’m not the one who just took unsolicited pictures of someone!”
The commotion was slowly garnering looks from around the dinner hall, whispers starting to flow between the guests. In a sober state of mind, Jiwon would’ve let herself calm down in order to avoid making a scene – but this was not sober Jiwon.
Drunk Jiwon was never known to be the most rational.
Once the photo had been taken, Juno brought his attention back to the drink before him. There was still a bet going between them, and there was no way he was going to lose. Wait… His drunk little mind was so confused. It was Ji-Won that was meant to drink more. She was the one that had to fall over or pass out first. However, with his attention on dominating the drink before him, it meant that he had barely even noticed the young girl and her flying phone. Heck, even when Ji-Won picked up the phone and began to question the girl, Juno just lazily looked up at the girl. What was she screaming about in English now? A drunk Juno and trying to understand English was not the best combination in the world. Even as the girl began to stammer a response, Juno’s eyes lazily made its way from Ji-Won to the girl with little to no care of what was happening right now. That was until the girl bowed and began to speak in Korean.
A big fan? Didn’t want to disturb his dinner? What was she on about? A confused complexion hit upon the already red face of the K-Pop star before shifting that confusion from the girl to Ji-Won who was… yelling at the poor girl? A small frown formed onto his face and he was about to tell Ji-Won to not to yell at the pretty fan. However, the words didn’t leave his mouth in time and thank God for that. Because it seemed as this ‘pretty fan’ had been taking pictures of them while they had been drinking. It seemed as if the fan wasn’t backing out either as she crossed her arms and tried to justify why she was taking the images. In all honesty, Juno was happy to just sit there, sipping on his drink and watch the banter go back and forth between the fan and this crazy ass girl. This was better than most of the Korean dramas he got to watch during his downtime.
However, as Ji-Won stood up and continued to stand her ground, that was when Juno knew he had to stand in. There were people starting to watch and whisper about the situation before them; now, that wasn’t a good look. His manager was probably going to ring him up tomorrow and hammer him for it. Just freaking great. “Hey, hey, hey,” he began, standing up a little too quickly as he stumbled slightly – hey, he didn’t fall over. The bet wasn’t lost here. Swiftly, he made his way to Ji-Won’s side and placed his hands upon her shoulders in an attempt to try and calm her down. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” he said softly to her, his words slightly slurred. “This is what I-” he placed a hand upon his chest as he said ‘I’ “Signed up for. I get fans… all the time. So… It’s okay. Let’s just… she can go, you know? It’s okay. It’s fine. Okay? Yeah?”
He turned to the fan that had apparently been taking the pictures, removed his hand from upon his chest as the other hand remained on Ji-Won’s shoulder, and gave the girl a thumbs up. “It’s okay,” he said to her before turning back to Ji-Won and spoke once again “It’s okay”. Jesus, his drunk state was way too chilled out for a situation like this.
It was not Jiwon’s intention to escalate this particular situation by any means, hating to seem like a drama queen to others, but there was this deep hatred in her bones for entitlement -- one that had seeped into her being and nestled itself in the membranes of the soul. Always there, ready to bleed and pervade every fibre of her body till all that remained was anger. Perhaps it was a prejudiced fire that was roiling through her right now, but that didn’t matter to her. Not when she knew exactly who these kind of people were. It was, after all, people like her who cost her father his job (because customer is king bullshit) and who dared to gaslight her grieving mother into giving up part of her inheritance (because greed and entitlement were too often intertwined). It was always the same story – but Jiwon refused to give it the same ending.
So, no. She was not going to back down. If anything, Jiwon was already preparing herself for an argumentative battle, or - maybe a bit more uncivilized but not totally out of the question – a match of fisticuffs. That girl could shove her phone and her pictures up her a- what Juno doing? Her burning glare narrowed to the stumbling figure of her ‘boyfriend’, eyebrows furrowing as he suddenly placed his hands on her shoulders. “It’s okay. It’s okay..” Hold the horses – was he attempting to calm her down?? Jiwon gaped at the drunk boy in front of her, incredulous of his actions, and, a little bit mad too. Why the fuck was he playing local Jesus here?? She was fighting for him!
Jiwon parted her lips, protest ready on the tongue, but as Juno continued, the fire within her dwindled. As much as she was willing to deck that girl into the next dimension, his words offered a sliver of rationalism that peaked through the emotional haze of intoxication. This all was more about him after all, wasn’t it? He was the crux of this whole ordeal. Therefore, if he wanted to cease the battle, she could not really take the duel further – lest to appear as the instigator herself.
Godamnit why did logic need to infiltrate her brain like that.
Sensing that there was not much of a choice, Jiwon slowly inhaled, as if collecting the last simmering particles of her indignation, before exhaling a sigh and simultaneously releasing the vestiges alongside the breath. Once calm, she slowly nodded in response to Juno and was about to return the phone back to the girl. But that was until she witnessed the shaking shoulders, along with the tears that were ‘building up’. The fucking audacity of this bitch. Jiwon barely controlled the new surge of fury that flooded her upon watching the fan acting like she was the victim in this situation, not even daring to fall for the distressed mask the girl had adopted.
“I-I’m really sorry Juno.. I never meant-“
“Oh for fuck’s sake. If you’re really sorry, you would’ve said so from the start and not make up stupid excuses for your stalking behaviour!” Jiwon exclaimed, placing a hand on her hip.
“Excuse me, is there something wrong?” a voice suddenly questioned nearby.
Jiwon’s eyes averted to the server (or manager?) who had approached the three, evidently with the mission to break up the commotion before it disturbed the other guests for much longer. Part of her vindictive self wished to push the narrative that the girl had been bothering the two, sinfully relishing in the image of the entitled brat being publicly kicked out of the dining room. However, deep down, she knew that this would do cause more harm to Juno than good. So, against her own fantasies, Jiwon proceeded to take the high road and shook her head.
“No, everything is fine. This girl was just leaving, wasn’t she?” the smile that punctuated her visage was anything but friendly, her words as much as a proverbial olive branch as she was willing to extend.
A flicker of ire sparked in the girl’s gaze, but she relented as well with an artificial smile of her own.
“Yes… Nothing is wrong here, “ she turned to Juno and bowed,” it was really nice meeting you Juno! I can’t wait to see you on stage again!” the sweet voice nearly made Jiwon gag.
Talking about a two-faced bitch.
Her eyes lowered to follow the gaze, and she noted the phone in her hand. Ugh, right… She still had the girl’s phone with the pictures. Well, if the girl thought she could get away with snapping those pictures, she had to purchase a new brain on top of a new attitude. Jiwon quickly used the camera shortcut to access the gallery and deleted the pictures taken of the two, before handing the device back to the girl with an even wider fabricated smile. Despite not getting to serve justice in her way, the faintly veiled, rotten expression of the girl brought some of the sweet satisfaction petty Jiwon craved. And with a smug smile, she watched the girl take a silent leave.
Take that fucker.
Jiwon 1 – entitled bitch 0.
As the figure disappeared from sight, her gaze returned back to Juno.
“Ya….why did you accept defeat so easily???” she questioned, the memory of him not even aiding her resurfacing. “Just because you agreed to giving up part of your privacy by becoming a performer doesn’t mean they are automatically given the rights to pull shit like that.” Her mind was already shifting through the words to use on her personal lecture, ready to subject him to learn-to-stand-up-for-yourself 101, but the sudden growl erupting from her stomach disrupted that train of thoughts.
“Ugh, you know what, never mind… Let’s just finish this dinner.”
This was nothing compared to what he was used to. If only Ji-Won could see that. As an idol, he could barely go anywhere without someone spotting who he was or asking for a photograph or signature. It was the type of life he signed up to, and he had been prewarned during his trainee days. They took courses together with the other trainees, discussing their safety with fans and the media. How it was very important to stay calm and respectful as the media loved to destroy the image of famous idols. Within a second, your whole career could be gone before you said something stupid or you pushed someone back after they knocked you over. They had a squeaky clean image that they had to uphold and it was all part of his job.
Now, I’m not saying that he enjoyed it. He hated going to the airport when they were touring. He hated the fact that he had changed his phone number eight times his year, and that people were trying to constantly call him and send him nude images of themselves. I suppose he was really enjoying this holiday because he didn’t have his phone on him as it was being repaired. Well, it looked like Ji-Won had actually blessed him by making his phone crack. But he was silently dreading how his call log and messages would appear after he got his hand on his newly repaired phone. He almost wished that he could be without it for forever but, alas, he needed it for safety reasons.
Hearing Ji-Won’s complains Juno kept a stone-cold appearance on his face as he sat back down in his seat. He didn’t need to hear this sort of crap from her. She just… She just didn’t understand his situation. This was nothing compared to the normal everyday life of an idol. And well, he had half a mind to snap back at her and to tell her what he thought. However, she only made him madder as she told him to just forget about it and focus back on their dinner. Clenching his teeth, Juno silently brought his gaze back down at the food before him. He could really feel the alcohol brewing in his brain now. So much so that he didn’t even remember ordering this delicious half-eaten rump steak. But, apparently, he had ordered it and he was in the middle of eating it before that fan decided to interrupt them.
The rest of the meal had been sat in quiet. The only thing that continued to run through Juno’s head was the piercing words Ji-Won had spat at him, questioning why he accepted defeat so easily. He wasn’t sure why, but it just got to him and was eating him away. He was one steak, side vegetables and mashed potatoes, and eight cocktail drinks down, and he was finally ready to call it a night. He just wanted to curl up somewhere, fall asleep and forget everything that had happened. Maybe even have a little cry. He wasn’t sure why, but it would be nice to have a cry. It had been a while since a nice drunken cry.
After flagging down the waitress for another drink, Juno released a soft sigh as he reclined in his chair and crossed his arms. His dark eyes gazed to the window next to him, attempting to see the night sky and the jungle in its nocturnal glory. Alas, all he could see was the reflection of some drunken fool who was questioning the exact same thing Ji-Won had asked him previously tonight; why did he always accept defeat so easily?
Twilight melted away and an orange glow seeped over the horizon as if the light itself was being poured from the sun. A spreading sunrise tinted the clouds and the sky, completing another daily cycle. In one of the luxurious accommodations, a female stirred from her slumber, though regret befell upon her as she returned to the waking world. Thanks to overdue karma from a night half-forgotten, Jiwon became acutely aware of the intense aching in her skull, the pain ebbing and flowing yet never truly disappearing, and the nauseous lurching of the stomach. Her first instinct was to pull the covers over her head and return back to the unconscious state where any of these awful sensations were non-existent, but the dehydration clawing at her throat was too potent to ignore. With a grumbled moan, Jiwon rolled over towards the edge of her bed, eyes still half-shut as the headache continued to pound.
Slowly but surely, her legs found the edge and her feet the floor. But as soon as she rose from her precious sleeping site, the room started to sway, almost causing her to lose balance. Her hand reached out to find any pillars of support, only to grasp the damning nothingness of air, and her figure took a tumble to the ground. Jiwon let out a string of curses as her side met the floor, the room swirling around her before slowly becoming stationary again.
Holy shit, how much did she drink last night??
An attempt at summoning any memories from last night was made, though with no success, her mind being as nebulous as it was aching. Maybe a cold shower and some painkillers would aid her memory? With another weighted effort, Jiwon picked herself up from the floor and practically zombie-walked to the bathroom. There, she shed her clothes which… were not even her pyjamas? Damn, guessed she really passed out as soon as she was back. Jiwon discarded her clothes into the large woven bin, before stepping into the shower.
Turning the lever, she let the cold water stream steal the heat from her body and chill her to the bone. As much as her teeth began to clatter and shivers began running down her frame, she relished in the revitalizing feeling that washed over her. Jiwon was unable to shed the headache just yet, but the new awakening of the mind managed to lift part of the fog obscuring the memories, and slowly, they started returning – much to her subsequent horror.
Jesus Christ, did she actually dine and drank with that elite crackhead??
Did she really hug him??
Jiwon could barely believe the mental images of last night that were spinning around in her head, experiencing one shock after the other. She even defended him!! How ?? Why?? What?? That’s it. No more drinking for her this vacation; Drunk Jiwon clearly could not be trusted. What a traitor. Her cheeks heated up despite the cold water running down them, embarrassment flooding every fibre of her being. Ugh, this is what you get for being a greedy bitch, Jiwon. Shaking her head, she swiftly decided that whatever the other forgotten memories were, they could stay in the realm of oblivion. Ignorance was bliss, right? Jiwon could somehow accept the crimes committed last night, but deeply hoped that Juno would not make an appearance today. Last thing she wanted was to be reminded of the night she lost her sanity and pretended to be his girlfriend. Here’s to hoping the guy felt even worse than her and resorted to staying in his room for the day.
Letting out a sigh, Jiwon turned off the shower rain, before stepping out and getting herself ready for the day.
After getting dressed, drinking a lot of water and popping a few painkillers, she did feel marginally better. Even much so that the female allowed herself to go outside and get herself a hearty breakfast in the breakfast hall. Luckily, there was no Juno to be seen in any proximity and Jiwon was able to eat all the bacon in peace. Nevertheless, it was when she walked out of the hall that her sight betrayed her once again.
All it took was a dash of light blue hair to enter her vision from afar for her mind to make a rapid vault from ‘oh fuck’ to ‘nope’ in a matter of seconds, her body turning away in alignment. Jiwon started to walk the opposite direction, hoping that he did not see her – and if he did – he would be equally ashamed enough to let her go without a word.
Was it uncharacteristically cowardly of her? Maybe – but let’s just blame it on the hangover.