Even though he had his bacon, which he was so thankful that he didn’t have to swipe it before some she-devil came swooping in for it – he couldn’t even bare to look at the damn food now. His stomach grumbled one moment and then the next would quite clearly tell him that if he ate anything, it would be thrown back up again and presented on his plate before him. He could not remember the last time he had a hangover this bad. Then again, he couldn’t remember the last time he had the opportunity to drink as much as he was allowed to.
Juno’s eyes flickered from the table to the plate of food before him. It barely took a second of looking at the food for him want to gag. Oh man, nope. His plan today had been to go and explore the markets and pick up his phone as it was getting fixed. However, maybe it would just be better to spend a day relaxing by his private pool and trying to sleep. And if he was eventually ready for food, he could always call room service. Yes, that seemed like a plan.
As he arose from his chair slowly, feeling lightheaded and ready to call ‘quits’ on his whole life, there was something that caught his eye. A certain someone was gazing over at him, lovingly. Now, okay, not to sound conceited – but he was used to that. He was used to people just staring at him with that look upon their face. What he wasn’t used to was someone staring at him that looked… familiar? Why did she look so familiar? Slowly, she began to rise from her own table, ignoring the mountain of food and drinks she had placed down. Wait… Wait! Now he remembered. He saw her last night, didn’t he? Because… Because… Well, crap, why did he see her?
Drunk Juno may have been loving and caring for this stalker. But sober Juno felt like his blood was running cold. He had to leave and get away from this damn girl before she asked for any pictures or asked about last night or anything. What even happened with her last night – Oh God. That girl. That freaking girl from the monkey place. What the hell was her name? Ji-Ji or something? Ah, crap, this crazy girl was starting to walk in his direction!
As much as his body hated it, Juno turned to his heels and began to swiftly walk out of the restaurant. He needed to find someone who worked here that could help him. Security or admin – someone. Or he needed to get back to his room. Just… something to save him. Sure, he was probably over-reacting. But it was safe to over-react than to not be safe and end up being apart of someone’s fantasies, right? As he continued to walk, he could hear her footsteps behind him beginning to grow louder and quicker. Jesus; could this girl not get a hint?
And then, he saw his freedom. A devil dressed up as an angel. Her. Shit, was it Jinny or something? Juno’s eyes widened at the sight of his saviour who was walking ahead of them, in the same direction. Right. This was it. “Jagi-ya!” he called out towards the girl who stole his bacon and broke his phone. “Jagi, hold on!” He once again called out, speaking to her in Korean as if she was the best thing to ever enter his life as he quickened up his pace.
Once finally coming to the girl’s side, he quickly took hold of her hand with his own. His eyes were wide as he gazed at her, hoping that she could telepathically hear that he was internally screaming. Please, please, please. He screamed inside his brain. Please play along
It was supposed to be a smooth escape manoeuvre, the brisk walk while under feigning pretence that you are blind and deaf one. Jiwon had no plan in giving the drunk memories any more room to swim around in the expanse of the hungover mind, had no intent in allowing that memory sparking presence of his to exist other than in a fleeting glance. Avoiding people was a rarity for her, being the kind of gal who didn’t let confrontation slip away under the tapestries of decorum – but even the most brazen had their exceptions. Embarrassment, she could deal with. Everlasting reminders, she could not, and oh - did someone like him speak of ceaseless testament.
Today it was not Jiwon the daring, but Jiwon the conveniently deaf. Even when the Korean echoed through the hall like a siren calling its victim to their demise, the girl pressed on, albeit with a quickened pace. Surely, the complete lack of response ought to give a glaring enough hint even a crackhead like him could pick on, right?
“Jaqiya, hold on-“
Sweet jesus what on earth had her yesterday enemy, today’s nightmare chasing her like some street creep? Jiwon was half tempted to flip him the bird, hoping that a clearer sign of aggression would strip the guy from the bravery to pursue a crapulous girl. What happened to the equal, aftermath shame of a drunk, frolicking night among foes? As far as her mind could recall, the guy held as much aversion towards her as she did with him. All the name-calling, accusations and arguments might have been swallowed along with the alcohol for one evening, but to stay forgotten for any longer was miracle Jiwon did not believe in. Any antagonistic feelings that were benumbed by the inebriated mind were destined to return in all of its intense glory after the alcohol left their bloodstream, last night’s armistice bounding to end with the coming of dawn.
Yeah, if Jimmy thought they were suddenly buddy-buddy with each other, or that she would allow him to recall last night, he had another punch of reality coming for him.
Jiwon was about to turn around the corner when a hand coveted hers, pausing her in her steps as the improbable happened. What the every flying fuck- her eyes could barely register the occurrence as truth, mind spinning like a hurricane of thoughts and feelings. “What are you-“she gabbled, shock numbing her system and words breathless in the mouth. Jiwon’s first instinct was to pull her hand out of his grasp, disgust quickly overriding the stupefaction that rendered her immobile, but there was something in that wide eyes of his - a sea of panic that surged with an uncharacteristic sense of desperation – that slowed her reaction. Her eyebrows furrowed, puzzled by the urgency in her enemy’ gaze, and her lips parted to ask what the fuck got him looking like a victim on the run from a serial killer, till..
Oh hell, to the no, no, no.
There was that nails against the chalkboard quality that tore through the air with a riling charade of innocence, and Jiwon cursed her ears for recognizing it. A vexing memory rose to the surface, beckoned by a rush of annoyance. It seemed as if today was one teeming of ghosts from last night’s nightmares, every harrowing role ready for taunting. At least, Ju..Jud- Juno’s? expression of horror did make a lot more sense now. Lord would she run away too if she got a stalker like that girl tailing him. His action spoke words, the hand in hers intentions – the only question remained: would she play along?
Part of her bitter self opted to throw him to the wolves, too tired to deal with this kind of shit. But another voice reaped a small detail from memory that made things just a little bit more complicated. Entangled in the lie she spun herself, there was no way in throwing the guy under the bus without losing a limb herself. It would only paint her as a liar and Jiwon didn’t know if she was willing to give that bitch the victory. As much as she hated the bastard next to him, she might hate that entitled ass of the fan more.
I hate myself…a thought uttered in the mind, before Jiwon closed the distance between her and her enemy, body pressing slightly against his as she placed her other free hand on his arm, eyes targeting the girl with a gaze of steel. “You again?” she asked, annoyance riding her tone. A tired sigh left her lips as if letting go some of that hostile resolve in favour of maturity. “Look, I will ask you more nicely this time since I know that you are a fan of my boyfriend, but can you please let him have this one vacation in peace?” A smile too sharp to be genuine proceeded to lace her features, her gaze holding a glint too cold to be welcoming. “I really don’t want to call security, but don’t think I won’t if you continue to bother us for much longer.” and with that, Jiwon started to pull her ‘boyfriend’ into a walking pace again. “Let’s go babe, we still need to ask the receptionist if they have any hangover medicine.”
Jiwon held up the charade long enough till she was under the belief that the girl was gone before pulling back her hand from his grasp. Instantly, she widened the distance between the two again, arms crossing against her chest as her annoyed gaze found his face. “Well, well, well… and here I thought you wanted me to stay away from you.” a smug smile briefly appeared on her features, only to melt away again as another thought crossed the mind. “I hope you have a plan if that fan appears again, because I don’t know if I will be feeling so willing to save you for a third time mister.”
He had to hand it to her; the girl sure had a way with her words.
Juno wasn’t the one receiving the said poison words, but he could feel the secondhand aftereffects of it all. Jesus Christ. Did this girl know how to improv or what? As she whipped up something with her devilish tongue, Juno stood there somewhat… frozen. Intensely listening to what she had to say to the girl and absolutely fearing that something – just something – might slip out and ruin his complete image. Sure, she had mentioned that he was her boyfriend, which would cause some sort of speculations. The whole concept that the pair of them were on holidays together while unmarried would make his manager’s ears blow out steam. But luckily, this girl didn’t seem to be anyone famous. That’s when things got sticky.
Thankfully, back home, when an idol dates someone of the public and not another idol, there is some sort of privacy included. After all, look at Chen from Exo who everyone in Korea knew he was dating someone – it was just basic common knowledge – but it was never in the news. You’ve never seen a picture of her, even though they got married and had a child, and her privacy was completely covered. So Juno stood there, praying to himself that this girl would just at least get it through her thick skull that this whole illusion was real and would keep her big mouth shut.
The tug of his arm brought him back to reality. She didn’t need to say it twice. Automatically nodding like the trained puppy he was, Juno began to walk by her side, not daring to look back even once. He could hear the fan behind them release a soft, annoyed sigh. He did have to wonder – what was her goal? To talk to him? To take a picture with him? Sure, he’d be happy to do all of that. Just not while he was hungover and trying to find some peace and quiet on his holiday. Not to mention, he really didn’t appreciate being chased down in the hotel that he was staying at.
The warmth next to him vanished, causing Juno to snap from his thoughts and look towards the source of the heat. Oh… right. Clearing his throat lightly, he also crossed his arms over his chest, unintentionally mirroring his saviour. At her cocky remark, he wanted something to say back at her; something so bad that it would put her back into her place. But this pounding headache wasn’t doing him any good and he was struggling to even pick up the words to make an appropriate sentence let along an absolute zinger. However, she was quick to change the topic, not leaving him much time to respond anyways.
Did he have a plan?
In all honestly… no.
Releasing a frustrated sigh, raising a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose with his index and thumb, he could feel his brain rattling around as he closed his eyes. “No… I don’t have a plan” he honestly muttered, annoyed that the hung-over version of himself had no spice in his words today. “Honestly… I might just need to go home early if this is the case” Sad, but it was true. He didn’t want to spend his holiday surrounded by bodyguards, and he wanted to actually enjoy his time. If there were fans surrounding him, waiting to pounce on him at any moment, then he wasn’t going to have the opportunity to actually relax.
Releasing his fingers from his nose and opening up his bloodshot, hungover eyes, he glanced over to the girl who had saved him the second time in less than twenty-four hours. “Thank you for… playing along.” Who was this nice guy, spitting out such appropriate words? Maybe Juno just needed to be hungover more often.
Jiwon had half-expected to battle against a barbed comeback of his own, given that exchanging peevish commentary had kind of been their arc since the tragic occurrence of meeting each other. She didn’t mind it that much to be honest. In fact, the girl could somewhat respect the artistry of trading epithets with one another, even when her opponent had a stick so far up his ass he'd need a doctor to clinically remove it. Juno, while one maddening encumbrance to an otherwise dream vacation, was also the spark to her embers. Diplomacy had never been Jiwon’s forte, temper burning too fiercely and soul laying too bare, and there was also kind of a thing about taking the high road. Pacifist or not, you couldn’t simply erase the actions of the other. You may revel in the concept of being the bigger person, of being an imaginary tier above them in terms of morality -- but they would always be the one playing by other rules, uncaring how close they might cut to the bone. Wounds still bled, no matter how much you imagined yourself in a realm where they didn't. Jiwon rather stayed on the same level, feet on the ground and fists close enough to hit. It’s why she didn’t feel bad for committing spiteful actions against the blue haired boy; there was a retaliation angle she could fall back on. She didn’t have to feel bad because he fought her too, and that was their thing.
At least, that’s what Jiwon thought. But the words that left his lips held no wildfire, only a fast dwindling flame turning ash. It was actually infuriating how defeated he sounded, his doleful tone managing to puncture her shield of indifference and hitting a little too close to the heart. Her earlier resolve crumbled under the unwelcoming sensation that felt a little too similar to sympathy. It was something Jiwon had not expected, nor wanted, to feel again in regards to this guy, but she guessed the hangover was still heavy wearing on the mind and its judgment. It was all a bit of an inner conflict, really. On one hand, Jimbo was really none of her concern and with their brief yet tormenting history, him being gone should be considered an act of god. On another hand, to hold onto her antagonizing demeanor was akin to kicking a puppy at the moment. A very mentally challenged puppy, mayhaps, but a defenseless creature still.
“Thank you for… playing along.”
Oh, great. So now was the moment he decided to act nice?? Jiwon wanted to hit him, half frustrated at the nerve to push this outlandish narrative into her hangover mind. If this had been his plan all along in getting her to yield first then… well… applause to his right use of psychological warfare, because it was working. Jiwon’s expression involuntarily softened, arms slowly falling from their crossed position to her sides. She bit her lip, obvious in debate with herself, before shaking her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this…” were the first muttered words that ran past her lips, a sigh following. “Look, you don’t need to go home early, okay? I’ll…. “ there was a pause of hesitation, a silence one could burrow itself in and pretend hell wasn’t freezing over after all. Any of the words on the tongue could be swallowed, like a wave returning to the ocean and in its wake leaving no trace of what was or could have been. Alas, perhaps Juno was not the only one swept up by an unexplainable urge to kindness. “ I’ll help you get rid of your crazy fangirl. We can pretend to be a couple till she’s gone.” Oh man, her offer of help sounded even crazier when uttered out loud. Quick, sprinkle a little bit of Jiwon centrism on top to make it more believable. She shrugged, hoping to appear as nonchalantly as possible. “ I mean, there is also some mean couple deals for activities and food. It could be beneficial for us both: you get to stay and have your holiday and I get to be a tourist without losing half my savings.”
Jiwon outstretched her hand towards him, expression completely serious.
His eyes shifted towards her outstretched hand that lingered in the air. She was joking, right? Since the moment they had met, there had been nothing but turmoil. Bad luck seemed to follow no matter where they roamed together. First, his phone screen had been shattered beyond repair. Secondly, getting lost in the damn monkey forest. And finally, having to deal with the crazy stalker fan who just didn’t want to leave them alone. Oh – and not to mention her swiftly stealing his bacon during the breakfast buffet. He had a thousand reasons to decline her offer and to simply leave his holiday destination. But that was it – he would have to leave. He would have to return back home, to Korea, and probably face all these dating rumours anyways. So, why not give them something to talk about, right?
An elated, soft sigh slipped last his plush, heart-shaped lips. Well, it was better than going home. With an extreme lack of confidence, he raised his own hand began to make its way towards the one waiting in the air before him. It felt like a thousand years had flashed by with anticipation of impact. That was until something crept into the back of his mind. His manager’s voice was echoing there, reminding him of the importance of always reading and creating contracts. Not just any contracts, but a non-disclosure agreement. Oh, that’s right. Without one, this lady could be all over the web, spreading lies about him and posting videos or photos without his consent. Sure, she wanted to help him out, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew his legal rights.
“Hold up,” he said, pausing his hand and slowly drawing it back to his body. “How do I know you’re not just going to spread rumour about me online after all of this?” Sure, he was making assumptions about the girl. But he had also seen the way she was quick with her words and sharp. The poison that could spill from her lips could take down his whole career within minutes. He had to protect himself somehow. “Come with me”
It wasn’t a suggestion, rather more a command.
He placed his hand upon the girl’s elbow, grasping onto it, before directing their movement towards the reception. After all, they had said to the stalker that they were going to go to the receptionist to get hangover medicine, right? But he had alternative motifs, almost completely forgetting the hangover that had been plaguing his body since he woke up this dawn. Once in the reception with the girl in tow, Juno approached the clerk at the front desk. “Do you have a… a… uh…” His English was completely butchered and delayed, but he managed to get the question across with some sort of ease. “ …paper? And… uh… and pen, please?he managed to ask the female behind the counter, speaking with such elegance and politeness that the girl in his grasp probably had never seen from him in her life. The clerk responded with a nod before presenting the male star with the items he had requested.
Juno thanked the lady before turning back to the girl whose name he had long forgotten from last night. He held up the pen and paper as he released his grip from her. “Non-disclosure agreement” he simply said to her, swiftly making his way over to the side of the room to use one of the benches. “I will make a deal with you. We pretend to be a couple until she’s gone. I will pay for the activities and food. I will also look into getting you an upgrade on your flight home.” he stated in a matter-of-fact tone as if throwing all this money around was no big issue to him. “But… you will have to follow the terms and conditions of the contract. If you don’t, you owe me money for the activities and food.”
Leaning over the bench, he began to concentrate on a very simple contract for the pair of them to work on. But within the first sentence, he realized that he had no stinking clue what this girl’s name was. Surely, she had told him last night? Then again, everything about last night was a complete and utter blur. There was no way he could remember it all. Ah, he’d just leave it blank. The pen glided across the paper with ease, thanks to his many years of fan signing and learning how to write with such precision. Once he was happy with it, and signed his name off at the end, he stood to his full height and handed the paper over to the girl.
“Just sign at the bottom if you accept the offer”
나 ________은 한주 노가 정한 이용 약관에 동의합니다. 나는 여행이 끝날 때까지 또는 팬이 떠날 때까지 그의 여자 친구 인 척해야합니다. 그 대가로 한주 노는 활동과 음식에 대한 자금을 제공하고 항공편 업그레이드와 관련하여 항공사에 문의 할 것입니다.
나는 온라인에 어떤 정보도 게시하지 않고, 언론인과 이야기하지 않으며, 한주 노와 우리가 함께 보낸 시간에 대해 다른 사람들과 논의하지 않을 것입니다. 한주 노와의 대화 이미지, 동영상, 스크린 샷은 게시하지 않겠습니다. 그렇게 할 경우 한주 노가 법적 조치를 취할 것이라는 점에 동의합니다. 이 약관은 최종적입니다.
I, _____, hereby accept to the terms and conditions set by Han Juno. I am to pretend to be his girlfriend until the remainder of the trip or until the fan leaves, whichever comes before. In exchange, Han Juno will provide funding for activities and food, and will enquire with the airline company in regard to flight upgrades.
I will not post any information online, talk to journalists, nor discuss with others about Han Juno and our time spent together. I will not post any images, videos, or screenshots of conversations that I have with Han Juno. I accept that if I do so, Han Juno will result in legal action. These term and conditions are final.
There was no other way to verbally encompass the utter incredulity washing over her upon getting served a fucking NDA for her offer of kindess. This guy was absolutely badonkers, an unhinged crackhead with zero brain but absolute audacity. She wanted to pull that stick out of his ass and wack him with it. Jiwon was not quite sure what got her so peeved about being handed this makeshift non-disclosure agreement. Perhaps it was the distrust radiating from that piece of paper, something she deemed completely unfounded. After all, if it wasn’t for her, Johnny would not be here but lying somewhere in the bushes, face down, penniless and maybe even nude.
Or maybe it was the tethers tied to it, anchoring and bounding her to a position she didn’t know she wanted to be imprisoned in. Jiwon treasured her freedom, was not one to live in printed regulations but rather in the blank, white spaces between the limiting lines. There were enough people in life trying to dictate her speech and actions -- wishing to craft a reality of their own prophecies -- she was not about to give someone else the power over her voice. Especially not someone with blue popsicle hair.Fuck him and his cencorship, the voice inside rallied. He was in no position to make demands when it was her who would be doing the charity work.
Whatever sympathies a hung-over mind had conjured melted under the flame of annoyance, the molten pieces dripping down into the void. For a moment, the image of him departing this country held a divinity she didn’t mind worshipping into existence. It surely beat the idea of acting like a couple with the hope of warding off some stalker, who, frankly, perfectly suited him in terms of mental instability. It could very well be a match made in heaven -- or like, a loony bin. Yeah, Jiwon would have gladly walked away from this mess waiting to happen, very much cherishing her own sanity…
There was just one thing, though…
Glitter and gold harbored no sanctity, but unique adventures were one of those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky, sparkling and broken. Unforeseen luck might have brought Jiwon to this breathtaking scenery and stellar accomodation, but the materials her wishful experiences were made of still asked for coin she barely had. Jiwon wanted to leave this place with a library full of memories, longed for glimpses of reflecting water among a green rice terrace; clues of history in temples and palaces; culture immersion from performances and art; pictures memoirs of places high and low. Dignity wished to brandish the middle finger to Jimbo, a glaring statement to those who dare try and burn the helping hand. Nevertheless, there was that other voice too, whispering sweet promises to a wanderlust soul. Was it a true oasis or a mere fata morgana? Jiwon, begrudgingly, supposed there was only one way to find out.
[Two could play that game, though.]
“Fine but I’m adding a condition of my own too.” she huffed, while finding a place to write it down. Wait… what was his name again?? Jiwon spent a few seconds squinting down at the paper, before deciding to just draw an arrow to the boy’s signature and adding the following phrase to it;
“ Han Juno must comply with any decision Jung Jiwon makes when it comes to activities. No ‘Ifs or Buts’ allowed. She decides what they get to do during this trip.” Her lips were curved into a smirk as she read her condition out loud. Her own signature was quickly scribbled down at the bottom of the paper as well, and Jiwon patted the boy on the shoulder while handing him the paper back.
“I hope you like scooter rides and waterfalls Jimmy, because that’s what we’re doing tomorrow. Let’s meet up at like….hmmmm... 10 am at the reception, mkay?” She took a step back and stretched her arms out. “Well, I have a nice pool calling my name so I'll catch ya tomorrow.” Saluting him with two fingers, Jiwon proceeded to turn around.