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Chapter 51 8 February 2013 Milan, 8.30am Chaerin had gone out for her morning jog and again went to the grocers for some fresh fruits. Between her and Jay, they ate up their previous supplies of strawberries and bananas. Chaerin decided that she was going to make crepes for breakfast. The chocolate that she was going to make would make the perfect dip. When she got back to the apartment, she was surprised to see Jay already awake and in the kitchen. He was closing the cabinet just as Chaerin walked in. “Oppa! You woke up early today! What were you looking for in the cabinet?” “Nothing. Where did you go?” “My morning jog and I brought back fresh supplies of fruits. How does crepes for breakfast sound? With freshly made chocolate sauce and fruits!” “Sounds like a reminder of why I don’t want to go back to Seoul. Can I just stay here?” “You could, no one’s stopping you. But don’t you have an album to release and all that jazz?” “I need to go back but I don’t want to. Who’s going to cook me breakfast when I go back?!” “The delivery service in Korea is much better than here.” “You’ve got a point. So what can I help you with?” “Let me show you how to make the chocolate so you can help me with that later? You can help me with the generic chocolates that I’m making for the close staff members in YGE while I work on the personalized chocolate for each of the Big Bang and 2NE1 members and you.” “Chaerin, I don’t need mine to be special. I just want chocolates from you.” 2


“I want yours to be special. You’ve been so good to me this past week.” “Thanks Chaerin! I enjoyed my time with you too.” “Let’s get started shall we?” Chaerin showed Jay how he had to sift the cocoa powder, powdered milk, icing sugar and a pinch of salt together and mix them up. After that, she melted the vegetable shortening and pour it into the mixture of powdered ingredients and mixed them together. Once it’s done, she poured the mixture into square moulds that she managed to get cheap at the supermarket. She knocked the mould to get rid of the air bubbles and then place the trays into the refrigerator for it to hardened. “I will need to make at least 500 of those. I only have 5 trays of 20 each so that would take at least 5 rounds. Each round would take at least an hour to hardened. So you can actually leave and come back between each batch.” “I’m good. I packed last night so I could dedicate this day to making chocolates.” Chaerin smiled at Jay. Truth be told, she was looking forward to spending the day with him as well although it was going to be difficult since the personalized chocolate would need her full attention. “I might ignore you in between because I need to focus on moulding the customized chocolate.” “It’s ok. That’s part of your charm, how focused you are on the task at hand.” “Good then~ You can fill up the rest of the trays and put them in the refrigerator so you can start on the second batch after breakfast. Can you leave some of the chocolate sauce for the crepes? I’d start making them now.” The two of them worked in silence. Chaerin whipped up the batter for crepes and started cooking them. The fragrance of the cooking batter made Jay hungry and his stomach growled. Chaerin folded a cooling crepe and fed it to 3


him. And in that moment, Jay felt like the luckiest man on earth. “If Jiyong ever bullies you, tell me. I’d go punch his face because he doesn’t know how lucky he is.” “Did I just get myself another over-protective oppa? I’d be sure to let Jiyong oppa know that I have no lack of protectors.” “You let him know that. I’m done with the first batch of chocolates, what else can I do to help?” “Can you wash and cut up the bananas and strawberries?” “How should I cut them? Just slice them up?” “Yup!” Knowing that Chaerin won’t get much time to talk to him later, Jay took advantage of this time that they have during breakfast to converse. As they sat down to have breakfast, he asked the one question that he had been wanting to ask. “Chaerin, when was the last time you saw Jiyong and under what kind of circumstances?” Chaerin looked at Jay uncertainly and with some measure of surprise because that was the last question she would have thought he would ask. She was considering whether she should tell him. She took her time chewing the mouthful of crepe and strawberries that she just put into her mouth. As much as Chaerin was someone who stays focused on her task, Jay was just as patient. He waited, while slowly savoring the crepes, the fresh chocolate sauce and bananas. “It was the last night of their World Tour finale. We ended our promotions for our latest album about a week before that. While I didn’t tell my members about my acceptance letter from Istituto Marangoni, I went to YG with the news the moment I got it. So between YG and myself, we have already decided on when we were going to end our promotion period and prepare for the press conference. I was supposed to go for the concert and 4


the celebratory party after that. But I didn’t. Or I did go for the concert but no one knew I went.” “How could that be? Didn’t you go with your members?” “The only way I could get out of going was to say that I was sick and had to go back to my parents’ house. So I lied to them. I only entered the concert after the opening sequence and I watched from the venue’s control room. The few people who saw me, I told them to keep mum.” “So Jiyong never saw you that night?” “He did.” “How?” “When he found out from my members that I was sick and had gone back to my parents’, he started calling me. And he didn’t stopped calling. At some point, I just switched off my phone. I forgot how close he was with my family. So apparently he went and called my parents to check if I was ok. My parents were surprised and because it was Jiyong oppa who called, they told him that I wasn’t with them. When I went back to my dorm because I knew I would be alone that night since the other 3 were going to go back with their boyfriends, he was there waiting.” 27 January 2013 Chaerin was walking home after going to Noeul Cafe. She had left the concert before it ended to avoid the crowd and had gone to the cafe where she had frequented with Jiyong. She was opening the door to their dorm when she heard the voice of the last person she wanted to see. “Lee Chaerin, I didn’t know that you have started to lie to your members too. I thought I was the only one you lied to. Where were you today?” She turned to her right and Jiyong was standing there. She could see that he was angry but when she looked closer, she could see the worry too. There was no point in lying to him. He would see right through it anyway. That was 5


how weak she was in front of him. Her defences would automatically go down. She opened the door and ushered him into the house. “Oppa, I was at the concert. I only lied because I didn’t want to go to the celebratory party afterwards. What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at the party?” “How could you ask me such a question? The moment I heard you were sick, all I wanted to do was to see you and make sure you are ok..” “Oppa, I’m alright and you shouldn’t be here. Everyone would be disappointed if you are not there. Go back to the party now. I’d talk to you tomorrow alright?” “Chaerin, don’t you understand? I was only looking forward to the party because I thought you would be there. There’s no one else who I want to see more than you.” “I heard Kiko was going to be there. Are you sure it’s ok not to...” “Are you still upset with me about the rumors that I went to see her over Christmas? I didn’t, why won’t you believe me?” “I’m not upset oppa. What rights do I have to be upset about who you choose to spend your time with? Oppa, you should go. I’m tired and YG won’t like it if you are absent. You are the leader after all.” “I DON’T FUCKING CARE! It’s been forever since I last saw you and actually talk to you and you are pushing me to go away. Don’t do that. I missed you.” “What happened to girlfriend number 46 or was it 64? I thought the two of you were doing a good job keeping each other warm this winter? Bommie unnie said they needed ear plugs to be able to sleep.” “We broke up.” “Oh, that’s a pity. Then all the more you should go to the party and look for the next bed warmer, don’t you think?”

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Chaerin was getting angrier as she remembered the conversation she overheard between Bom and Dara talking about how loud Jiyong and the girl were. “Don’t you want to know why we broke up?” “I’m not really interested but I shall humor you and listen to the reason.” Jiyong could not stand the distance that Chaerin had put between them. He walked closer and closer to Chaerin. As he walked forward, Chaerin walked backwards to maintain the distance she had put between them. But before she knew it, she was backed into a wall. Jiyong took the chance to cage her in between his arms, effectively blocking all means of escape. “I called out your name as I came in her. She kicked me off her and gave me a slap. I didn’t even realize that I did what I did until she told me that wasn’t the first time it happened. Every time when I held her in our sleep, I would be calling your name. She made me choose between you and her. I told her to get dressed and leave.” “So you are telling me you were thinking about me while you are having sex with another girl? Is that supposed to make me feel attractive? Oh gawd, oppa, I never thought I’d say this, but that’s disgusting.” Jiyong leaned in close, so much that his lips were almost touching Chaerin’s. Both leaders looked at each other in the eyes and refused to give in to each other. Their heartbeats soared. Beyond the anger, both saw the pain in the other’s eyes. The pain in Chaerin’s eyes softened Jiyong’s anger and as he closed his eyes, he leaned in and touched his lips to hers, hoping to soothe the pain in her eyes, hoping to soothe the pain in his heart. So So So So

soft... delicate... beautiful... right.

Jiyong had never felt this way when he kissed any of his girlfriends. He pulled back to look at Chaerin. When he saw her confused look and the tears that had gathered in her eyes, he couldn’t help himself from taking one

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more taste of her. Jiyong oppa, you have trespassed the line... We will never be the same again... Our first kiss... Our last kiss... Knowing that this would be her first and last kiss that she would ever share with Jiyong, Chaerin slowly responded to the gentle coaxing of Jiyong’s lips as her tears slid down slowly, reminding her that the most beautiful thing that’s happening to her now would be the worst memory she’s ever going to have. Their lips stopped resisting each other and melded together. Jiyong licked Chaerin’s bottom lips tentatively, not wanting to scare her. When he felt Chaerin copying his move, he smiled in his kiss and took a more dominating stance. He bit Chaerin’s lips gently, his tongue seeking entrance the moment she gasped. He used his right hand to hold on to her head so he could deepen the kiss. The other hand was caressing Chaerin’s back. Chaerin moved her arms around his waist. I will allow myself this one last indulgence before I leave. Even if it kills me every single time I think about it. Jiyong oppa, I love you. The kiss continued until Chaerin pulled away and rested her head on his chest. Jiyong didn’t want to scare her so he didn’t persist and hugged her close instead, placing his lips on her forehead. His heartbeat was slowing to the normal pace when he felt Chaerin loosened her hold on him. “Oppa, I think you should go now.” Jiyong was shocked to hear what Chaerin just said. Not so much the words but her tone sent fear, an unsettling feeling right to the core of his soul. He had never heard her say anything with a voice so cold, so final, like there was no room for discussion. He held her closer to him even as he felt her arms loosening her hold on him. Because his heart felt like this was the last

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time he would ever get this close to her. “Chaerin, no, don’t. Don’t ask me to go.” “I’m not going to sleep with you. That kiss was already a trespass that shouldn’t have happened.” And if it’s possible, Jiyong hugged her even tighter. Yet her closeness didn’t soothe his heart. Instead, it triggered off the tears that surprised him as they slid down his face. Leaders don’t cry. “Oppa, let me go.” “No... I can’t... Don’t ask me to...” “Jiyong oppa, please... Just let me go...” “NO!! NO NO NO NO!!!” “Oppa... please...” Jiyong shook his head and held her closer even as her arms slid off him. His tears fell onto Chaerin’s hands. And they continued to fall. She could feel her resolve slowly being melted by Jiyong’s tears. And as her tears mocked what she was about to do, she threw caution to the wind. I would crash and burn tomorrow. But at least give me this night. Her hands went to his waist again. “Oppa, would you just hold me tonight? Just for tonight, I want to know what it’s like to be in your arms.” Jiyong felt like he had just been rescued from the desert. Though the words were what he wanted to hear, it brought no relief to his heart.

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“I would hold you in my arms for al...” “Oppa, just for tonight.” “Chaerin...” “Oppa.” Jiyong leaned back and tilted Chaerin’s face up to take a good look at her. That was when he saw the desperate plea in her eyes. He knew that was no way he could refuse her anything. “Alright, as you wish then.” Chaerin turned to walk to her room with Jiyong following behind her. After getting rid of her jacket and scarf, she laid down on her bed. Jiyong took off his own jacket and got onto the bed with her. Jiyong opened his arms as Chaerin turned to him. Once they found the most comfortable position, Jiyong locked his arms around her and held her as close as possible. Chaerin held on to Jiyong tightly as well. “Oppa, thank you.” “Chaerin, you are scaring me. Why are you talking like you are going to leave me? You can’t, I can’t live without you.” “Shhh, oppa, everything will be alright.” Chaerin looked up to Jiyong and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips in order to calm him down. Jiyong deepened the kiss but knew that he shouldn’t go too far. Somehow he felt that Chaerin was in an emotionally fragile state. When she leaned back from their kiss, he kissed her forehead and then held her tight. Chaerin ah, I never want to let go of you. Don’t ask me to let go of you. “What happened in the morning?”

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“I told him that I was leaving.” “He flew into a rage didn’t he?” Chaerin nodded and remembered Jiyong’s look of surprise first then how he stepped back into his G-Dragon facade. His eyes went cold, the words that came out of his mouth were cold and hurtful. She remembered having to hold back the tears until he left the apartment, slamming the door as he left. “What did he say to you when you told him?” “‘Leave then, I do not need you. I will be fine without you.’” “Seems like what every prideful man who felt like he had been used would say.” “I know I was selfish with my request for him to stay the night. But I really did see that as a full-stop to our relationship. So I wanted something I could bring with me to warm my nights.” “Both of you didn’t have a relationship. You wrote your own love story, using him as a character in it but never giving him a main role to be part of the story. You might think you did, but you didn’t. Both of you left each other out in this grand love story that you have created 7 years ago. A love story between 2 people uses ‘WE’ not ‘I’. Think about it. It has all been ‘Jiyong oppa did this, I felt hurt.’ I admit there were ‘WE’ times in that story of yours but gradually it became non-existent.” Chaerin sat quietly and thought about what Jay just said. It was true. The two of them never actually write their love story together. It was done separately, each of them keeping the other in the sideline, never as the main character. “The only line in my love story with the girl I had to send away which I used ‘I’ was when I wrote ‘I had to send her away. Staying by my side would have been too dangerous for her.’ If I thought about how she feels and used ‘we’ instead, it might have read ‘Don’t worry, we will get through whatever obstacles there may be ahead of us. With you by my side, we can overcome anything.’ So, this is my lesson to you today. When you start on this new

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love story with Jiyong, it should be a ‘we’ story, ok? Consider each other’s feelings, ask for opinions about decisions that would affect the relationship, tell him what you are not sure of so that he can help you deal with it. It’s a partnership, you don’t have to do everything on your own.” “Jay oppa, why do you always have such great messages about love, life and everything in between.” “I have lived a couple of years more than you did, I have been through a bit more than you have and I’m from another country so I have a broader perspective. I don’t just speak from experience. I observe how the people around me behave and resolve problems. Some of these advice came from people who have been in a loving relationship for the longest time. You are very young and so is Jiyong. Both of you might have gone through a long period of training to be where you are and you have had your share of crap. But a lot of your life is being encapsulated between school, home and the company. This creates a bubble. Whenever there is a problem, your company steps in and tries to solve it for you. You have lost a lot of the control over your own lives. Take it back while you can. I’m not saying rebel against your company because they are just looking out for your best interest. But things on the more personal level, when it comes to anything that can affect your life drastically, you need to put yourself in there and not let anyone take away the right to make a decision.” “Oppa, I’m scared. I don’t know if Jiyong oppa and I can handle a relationship together. Both of us are so prideful, so independent, so insistent on having our way, how can we actually keep a relationship together?” “By remembering he’s just as scared. Chaerin, what’s the last thing you would ever want to lose in this world? If it’s Jiyong, trust me, he feels the same way. So the two of you need to work on being in each other’s life and making the relationship work. I can assure you that it’s not going to be easy but once you guys work out the initial teething problems, it would be alright.” “Alright, I’d keep your advice in mind. In fact I think I need to go and write them down somewhere and remind myself time and again. You are like my personal relationship and life coach!!”

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“Does this mean a 3rd collaboration?” “I’m ok with it but I think I’d have to tell Jiyong oppa about it. He might be an ass about it but I’m sure it would be better in the long run.” “Good! You are already practicing what I’m telling you. I’m alright if he wants to tag along. His input would be invaluable and I get to see cute couple squabble. It’s going to be fun!!” At that moment, Chaerin’s phone beeped, signaling a message from Seungri. She checked the message immediately. From: SeungRat >.< 8 February 2013 9.45am CET

Dear Queen, Your messenger might have to retrieve the message about the pancakes too. The eldest warrior mentioned it in passing at breakfast this morning. “Jay oppa, are you concerned about your safety when it comes to Jiyong oppa?” “What is it now?” “TOP oppa mentioned the pancakes I made for them at breakfast this morning. Do you think it would be better if you remove it from your Twitter feed?” “What do you want me to do?” “If Jiyong oppa ask, I’m going to tell him the truth that you have been here with me for the whole week. There’s nothing to hide since we didn’t do anything wrong. So if you want to keep it, you can. Just that I can’t keep you safe once you are back in Seoul.” “I don’t need your protection and if he punches me, I can hit back too. These muscles aren’t just for show.” Jay flexed his arm muscles just to prove the point. Chaerin just rolled her eyes at him.

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“Yes, I can see that. Alright, then we don’t have anything to worry about. But if you guys really get into a fight, please do it within closed doors. I don’t need news coverage of two of you in a fight.” “Aye aye madam!” Chaerin sent a reply back to Seungri while Jay continued eating his breakfast. To: SeungRat >.< 8 February 2013 9.50am CET

It’s alright. If the Almighty finds out, I’d tell him the truth. If it comes to punches, the messenger said he could hold his own. Thanks for the information. How’s your day? From: SeungRat >.< 8 February 2013 9.53am CET

TERRIBLE!!! I’m on watch-panda duty! Trying to keep eldest warrior from his Princess Spring is like trying to stop a bull in heat. But the Almighty can’t afford to have the princess distracted. Otherwise he can’t finish his work to fly to his Queen when he finds her. Chaerin laughed at the reference to TOP as a bull in heat wanting to see his princess. She typed in a reply and then put away her phone. She got up and started making some chocolate clay to be used as decorations on the personalized chocolates later. Jay finished up his crepes and helped to wash up before checking on the first batch of chocolates. “Oppa, no eating. You can try 2 pieces and that’s it.” “Aish! Ok, fine! But I’m keeping some of these for myself! The personalized chocolate would stay with me till Valentines’ Day!” “Keep it refrigerated since I didn’t add any preservatives to it.”

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“I know.” The two of them got to work on their individual projects. Jay, during his breaks, would turn to observe Chaerin at work on the various chocolates. Of course, he was also taking pictures secretly with his phone and committing this day to his memory too. Chaerin ah, thank you! It’s been a great week spending this time with you! I wish you all happiness with Jiyong. Be happy, stay happy and beautiful always!

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Chapter 52 8 February 2013 Seoul, 11am Big Bang Practice Studio The boys were having their rehearsal for Sketchbook. For most part, it had gone rather smoothly. Except for when they were rehearsing ‘Bad Boy’. They had to keep rehearsing the song because Jiyong couldn’t sing his part. After the 10th time, Youngbae called for time-out. He motioned for the rest of the members and back-up singers to leave the studio so he could talk to Jiyong alone. Jiyong sat in the corner and kept shaking his head. He knew that he was hindering the rehearsal but he couldn’t shake off the feeling of unease whenever they sang the song. Because of what was revealed about his birthday surprise yesterday and what he said to Chaerin then. It was haunting him and worrying him a great deal. “Ji, you have to either get over the incident or re-arrange the parts. If you can’t handle the song during rehearsal, how are you going to go through it on the actual ‘Live’ performance?” “Bae, it’s not that easy to just get over the incident. I can’t help remembering the incident, or at least what you guys told me about it because till now the memory for that event is still hazy. And try as I might, I can’t shake it off.” “Look, it’s a painful experience for both you and Chaerin. But this is affecting you and this performance is important. Do you want to re-arrange the parts then?” Jiyong considered the option of re-arranging the parts but that might require re-recording of the song to be used on Sketchbook. While they do have time but he would rather spend it on completing TOP’s album as soon as possible. “I would ask Daesung and Seungri to be back-up in case I really can’t get over it but I know I have to put that aside and get what needs to be done, done.”

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“Ji, Chaerin would be the last person who would want you to ruin a performance because of her. Keep that in mind and stay strong for this performance. Imagine that she’s beside you if that puts your mind at ease.” “Bae, every time I imagine Chaerin now, I see her in tears. I do not think that is a good image to have while I’m performing.” “Maybe those tears are not for the hurts you have put her through, but how it’s breaking her heart to see that you are hurting. Ji, between you and Chaerin, there’s a bond that defied explanation for a long time. She KNOWS you very well. She can sense your emotions even before you do. And she had been helping you deal with those emotions, even when you refuse to let her in. Do you think we really know you that well to know what to do when you are upset? She would be the one who would message either me or Seungri, telling us what to do. That’s part of where our envy came from. We wanted someone to be that in tuned to us. Maybe now that you can see her crying, it means that you are also tuning into her emotions, you are beginning to see through her eyes. So don’t despair, I believe the two of you will work things out and be together forever and ever. I’m not even that sure of my own relationship with Dara noona but your relationship with Chaerin is a given. The two of you are for each other. So remember she would never want you to cry at all, especially when she’s not here to wipe away your tears herself. So, smile and perhaps you will see her smiling, alright?” Jiyong sat in silence, thinking about what Youngbae just told him. Just then, Seungri walked in and walked straight to Jiyong, passing him his favorite vitamin drink. “Here you go, Ji hyung!! Drink and cheer up. You have to have faith in Chaerin that she’s not going to hold it against you for what you have done.” Jiyong took the drink from Seungri and smiled while shaking his head. “Is this what you mean, Bae?” Youngbae gave Jiyong a big grin and nodded. “Exactly.”

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“Alright! I won’t think of Chaerin crying for our past anymore. I should look to our future together! Though it’s not going to be easy, but I have her by my side, we will get through everything.” And Jiyong sat there silently, thinking about all the times that he had with Chaerin and what their future holds. And when he thought of the name he had given to their daughter, he outright grinned. “What are you thinking of?” “I’m thinking of names for our children.” “Aren’t you moving too fast? Don’t you think you should think about the wedding first?” “Or maybe the proposal first?” “Or like what you would say to her when you meet her again?” “Just out of curiosity, what is your daughter’s name?” “Kwon Ae-Rin.” “It’s a beautiful name. Am I going to be the godfather?” “I want to be the godfather too!!” “Me too!” At the sound of TOP and Daesung’s voice, they turned to see them walking through the entrance of the studio. “Well, I guess I would have to ask Chaerin first. She might not agree to having Seungri as the godfather of our children. But I would consider the rest of you.” “Or you can just have enough children for each of us to be godparents to. I think it’s best to consider us as couples, otherwise you would tire poor Chaerin. But you would still need to have 4 kids.”

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“I was really thinking of just having 3 kids, 1 girl and 2 boys to protect my princess! But I would think further about the suggestion of 4 kids.” “Well, you would, after all you will get to enjoy the process of making them.” “TOP hyung, not again. I told you not to go there!!” “Sorry Dae, but seriously, isn’t it a natural part of any relationship?” “Probably but Minzy is still too young.” “That’s true.” “Alright, people, let’s get back to work. Let’s nail ‘Bad Boy’ then go through the setlist one more time so I can go work on TOP hyung’s album. You can call or message your girlfriends that they can appear in about 30 minutes. We can have lunch together at the cafeteria.” The 3 attached members didn’t need any more prompting. All of them got on their phones with their girl and told them about lunch. “I’m glad you are thinking of a future with Chaerin.” “It makes my heart glad, really. Just thinking of having her with me for the rest of my life makes me very happy, something I have never experienced before.” Seungri smiled, a real sincere smile because he liked this new Jiyong he’s seeing. Other than the fact that he had shed the facade of G-Dragon, he’s beginning to think of a future as Chaerin’s other half. “Ji hyung, have you never considered a future with Chaerin before this?” Jiyong gave Seungri’s question some thoughts and answered really frankly. “I did. When I first saw her, I knew there was something between the two of us that I can’t deny. But we got into a comfortable friendship that I believe both of us didn’t really want to break. We were afraid to be anything more. I started looking everywhere for someone who would somewhat take her place. And seriously I tried SO HARD. But it was all in vain. Looking back, 19


everything felt so empty. It was pleasurable but empty after a while. I’m sure TOP hyung felt the same thing. So, I really don’t want you to have to go through all of that.” “I will keep your words in mind.” Seeing that the 3 members had gotten off the phone, Jiyong took his place and the rest followed suit. The rest of the rehearsal went by smoothly and all of them were satisfied. So when the girls walked in, they ended the rehearsal. “Youngbae, what time did you guys say you would be at the gym?” “We told Hwangssabu that we would be there around 2pm.” “Alright, Bom noona, after lunch, we would start with recording your parts for the next song. TOP hyung, you are to stay at the gym until I call for you. Dara noona and Minzy, I would need your help with keeping Bom noona in the gym when it’s TOP hyung’s turn at the recording studio. If she’s done at the gym and TOP hyung is not done yet, bring her out shopping or something. Just don’t let her into the recording studio.” “Jiyong, we will know what to do.” “Thanks noona! Alright, let’s go for lunch then.” The 8 of them walked to the cafeteria and got lunch. They chatted about their work, and other concerns they have with regards to their personal projects. Minzy was telling them that she already got accepted to the renowned dance school in Tokyo so she would be starting her lessons with them towards the end of February. But she would be flying to Japan a few days after their press conference. The official reason is to prepare herself for the lesson but mostly it’s to settle in and spend some time with Daesung before promotions for his Japanese album starts. Dara would have her first recording in a new variety show within the next few days. Youngbae promised to go see her do her recording. Seungri would tag along to provide cover for the couple. 20


Bom, other than doing the featuring, would be starting vocal training with the new talents. She had just received the schedule so she was going to be around in the building. Jiyong jokingly said he didn’t know if that was good news or not. Just then, Jiyong’s phone beeped, signalling a new message. He took out his phone and saw that it was YG. From: YG Sajangnim 8 February 2013 1.15pm KST

Jiyong, are you in the building? Can you come see me with TOP when you can? To: YG Sajangnim 8 February 2013 1.17pm KST

We are at the cafeteria now. Will go up in a minute. “TOP hyung, boss wants to see us. If you are done, let’s go. Bom noona, I’d see you at the studio at 2pm. Don’t be late!” “Arasseo Ji-gun! You are such a nag sometimes!” Jiyong left with TOP to go see their boss. When the rest were done with lunch, they made their way to the gym. All except Bom, changed into their workout wear. When Hwangssabu saw that Bom was not in her gym wear, he was going to scold her. But she told him that she had to do her recording with Jiyong first before coming to the gym. When Jiyong and TOP arrived at YG’s office, they knocked on his door and went in when they heard their boss’ command to do so. He motioned for them to sit down. “How’s the progress on the recording?” “We’ve completed one song that Bom noona is featuring and working on another one today. If everything goes as planned, we hope to have the raw recording done by 20 February.” “Are you sure you can finish by then?”

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“I have to finish it by then. I’m hoping that I would get information about where Chaerin is before her birthday.” “Oh, ok. Where do you think you will get the information from?” “You, hopefully.” “Tell me why I should tell you.” “Boss, you will have to tell him at some point. Can you really bear to see him pining away for his love? He has already thought of their children’s name. So tell him already!” “Eventually, he will find out. Anyway, empty your schedule on the 12th and 13th. Jay Park will be dropping by to talk about the collaboration. I’m not sure when he’d drop by but just keep those 2 days free. Have you thought of the concept for the collaboration?” “We have some ideas but we would like Jay’s input as well. Is he not in Korea?” “Nope, last I heard he was in Italy to visit his cousin but would be back on 10th. I’m giving him some time to get over the jet lag.” “I see. Ok, we’ll have a talk with him when he comes round. Do you need us to be present for 2NE1’s press conference on 14th February?” “Not in an official capacity. You guys can be present for moral support if you are not doing anything that day. But either all 5 of you attend or don’t attend at all. I don’t want speculations about the couples before we are ready to go public with your relationships. And since you plan to finish TOP’s album before you leave in search of Chaerin, does that mean you are going to stay with her when you find her?” “Yup! I should also let you know that if I need to let our relationship go public, I would. Of course, not without Chaerin’s consent and opinion on this matter. I do not intend to be separated from her once I find her. If I’m needed here, I would fly back but once I’m done, I’d go back to her.” “What if she doesn’t want you to be there?” 22


“I believe she feels the same way as I do. If we are going to be in a relationship, then I really don’t think being separated would be good for either of us.” “And if she decides to stay away longer than 6 months?” “So be it. I already said being with her is more important and my priority right now. This is also why I said if we need to go public with our relationship, we will. I know it would be difficult to explain my absence after a while.” “Alright, I’d keep that in mind. You may go if you don’t have any questions for me.” “You know what’s my question.” “I do, but I’m sticking to my promise to Chaerin. But I’m sure you will find out soon.” “Through who? You are the only person who knows!” YG just gave them an enigmatic smile. Both knew not to ask further once that smile is out because no amount of asking would yield any answers. They left the office. Jiyong was a tad frustrated but since he knew there was no point in worrying. He would rather focus on things within his control. “Ji, I really can’t go to the recording studio with you? I promise I’d behave.” “Nope! Go to the gym or I’d ask Seungri to come get you.” “You are no fun!” “It was no fun watching two aliens pretending to be teenagers in love!” “Aish! Fine! I’d go to the gym now. Don’t torture my Bommie!” “I hope she won’t torture me! GO!” TOP walked off in the direction of the gym. Bom happened to be coming

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from the gym. The two of them saw each other in the distance. But knowing that they can’t be too obvious, they walked towards each other with a smile on their face. As they passed each other, their shoulders brushed against each other and their hands seeked out the other and gave a quick squeeze before continuing on their way to their destination. Jiyong saw the interaction and found it cute. But to be honest, if he were in TOP’s shoes, he would have wanted the freedom to stop and kiss his girl senseless before going about what he needed to do. He’s almost glad that Chaerin was overseas because it meant that they would not be under watchful eyes, especially where they are staying. He was already looking forward to spend time with her. “Ji-kun! Ji-kun!! YA!!” Jiyong found Bom standing in front of him and smiled at her. “What were you thinking of? You didn’t hear me call you at all.” “Chaerin. Let’s go noona, and finish this song!” Jiyong went into his recording studio, holding the door open for Bom. After briefing her on what he was looking for in the song, they started recording. The recording went smoothly for most parts and they even started recording on the next song. In fact, they got a little over-zealous and forgot the time until Seungri called. “Ji hyung!! Are you done with Bom noona? TOP hyung is working himself up by thinking that you are torturing his beloved and Hwangssabu wants Bom noona in the gym NOW!” “Ok, I’d send her along then. Can you ask TOP hyung to come to the recording studio?” “He’s already on his way.” At that moment, the studio door opened and TOP looked so relieved to see that his alien queen was alright.

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“Ok, he’s here. I’d see you guys later then.” The two aliens hugged each other and TOP gave Bom a kiss on the lips. It would have gone further if Jiyong had not faked a cough to force them apart. “Bom noona, you’d better get going. Hwangssabu is waiting for you. He said he’s going to make you stay an additional 15 minutes for every minute that you are late.” “Ok ok! I’m going. Bye, Tabi darling, I’d see you later!” Bom rushed out of the recording studio. Jiyong turned to TOP. “Hyung, sorry. We just got too engrossed into the recording. Good news is I already got half of Bom noona’s part of the 3rd song done.” “You are lucky that Seungri gave me chocolate and bribed me with icecream. Otherwise I’d have been down here much earlier.” “Hyung, you are just like a kid sometimes. Fancy being bribed by chocolate and ice-cream.” “It’s strange though. One minute, Seungri was exasperated and do not know what to do with me. The next minute, he came waltzing through the gym with some chocolate and ice-cream for me.” “Maybe he got someone’s help.” “Reminds me of how Chaerin would always give me half a chocolate bar when I’m upset, saying that she was sharing her private stash. Anyway, let’s get started so we can end as soon as possible! GO GO GO~!!” Jiyong laughed at how TOP was behaving like a child but that’s his charm. He went through what was required from him for his parts and he played what they have recorded of Bom’s part to let him get an idea. At around 9pm, they were about to call it a day when the rest invaded the recording studio with take-away dinner that they have gone to get after Bom’s gym session. All of them ate away heartily, happy that they could be 25


themselves in this private space. “Ji hyung, don’t forget we have costume fitting for our Sketchbook tomorrow morning.” “Thanks for the reminder, maknae~ So hyung, we will continue with the recording tomorrow ok? Let’s try to clear what we can do before Jay comes in. Bom noona, the last bit for your feature, we will do on the day that Jay comes since you want to meet him.” Bom gave him a thumbs-up while chomping on some corn. TOP didn’t look too pleased with her excitement in wanting to meet Jay but was somehow pacified when Bom pulled him in for a kiss. This brought about a round of teasing. When they were done with dinner, they parted ways. The boys had a early schedule tomorrow for their costume fitting so they couldn’t send the girls back. But they followed behind Dara’s car which they came in and made sure that they were safe before driving back to their own dorm.

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Chapter 53 8 February 2013 Milan, 7.30pm After slaving away in the kitchen the whole day, Chaerin finally had all the chocolates ready and wrapped. She was putting them in a box so that it would be easier for Jay to bring them back to Korea. Jay had gone out to get dinner for them since it was his last night in Milan. Since Jay wasn’t back with dinner yet, she proceeded to write the notes for each of the personalized chocolate before she put them inside the box. She started with her members’ first. To: My dearest Minzy~ Minzy ah~ Happy Valentines’!! I’m so happy for you that you are pursuing your passion in dance and at the same time, you get to be with your darling angel. Remember always that you are the reason that he is now flying with his beautiful wings and smiling again. You are his good luck clover! Here’s wishing you all the best! Love ya! Happy Valentines’! Love, Your Chaerin unnie! To: Dara Unnie~~ Unnie~~~ You are always shining like a diamond, providing us with great joy! And ever since you got together with the Sun, you are glowing even brighter! I’m happy for you! Please stay pretty and cheerful always!! Love ya! Happy Valentines’! Love, Chaerin To: Bommie Unnie~~ Unnie! Are you eating corn again while reading this note? Don’t eat too much otherwise Hwangssabu is going to chase after you again! Your bubbly nature matches very well with the child-like bear that you have found for yourself! Stay true to yourself and be happy always!! But not too much corn ok? Love ya! Happy Valentines’! Love, Chaerin 27


To: Loudspeaker Panda-Ri Aigoo~ I really don’t know what to say about you! You are always poking your nose into other people’s business. But it’s also this habit of yours that you seemed to be able to know when to distract people from their troubles at the right time. Thank you for being irritating when I need the distraction! Hope you will find your Valentine soon! Happy Valentines’! Hate ya! :p Chaerin To: Angel Dae oppa~ Oppa! You are an angel! Your smile, your strength, your glow, it’s all amazing to see! Don’t ever lose it again alright? No matter what happens, remember you have your lucky clover now! Stretch your wings and fly! Let the shadow of your wings protect our dear little clover alright? You are an inspiration, always. Happy Valentines’! Love, Chaerin To: Bae oppa~ Bae oppa~ Always as bright as the sun! You are such a reliable person, just like the sun will always rise from the east. Thank you for giving me advice when I need them and for looking after everyone around you so well. Now that you have found your diamond, you are shining even brighter than before! Never lose your passion for dance, your passion for music and your passion for the stage! Happy Valentines’! Love, Chaerin To: Tabi oppa! This is the only time I’m allowed to call you Tabi oppa and not get a karate chop from your Lady Heart! Stay child-like always, your heart is always so pure and you see the beauty in everything around you! Sometimes seeing things through your eyes gives me new perspective and I really like that! Stay like this always! But you can’t like toys more than your Lady Heart! I will not allow it ok? Happy Valentines’! 28


Love, Chaerin Coming to the last note for Jiyong, Chaerin paused and thought about the past week that she’s been away from him. She thought about the past 6 years, she thought about the ups and downs of their relationship. While tears gathered but a smile found its way to her lips as she looked to the future, their future. To: Jiyong oppa! Oppa, it has been a tough 2 weeks hasn’t it? I really thought I could be away from you, that I could forget about you, that I could live without you. But these 2 weeks have shown me that I can’t. Saying ‘sorry’ for all the hurt I have dealt you won’t be enough but would ‘I love you, very very much’ be enough? You were the star in my sky, but now would you come and be the king of my heart? I don’t want to stand and watch you from afar anymore. Would you let me stand beside you, be part of your life, be part of you? I only want to be the queen if you are my king. Would you run to where I am this time round? I hope to see you soon. I love you, very very much. King of my heart, don’t keep me waiting for too long. One, to infinity, Your Chaerin She attached each of the notes to each of the personalized chocolate and packed them carefully into the box. Looking at the last chocolate on the table, she got down to writing the last note. To: Jay oppa~ Oppa, without you, I really do not know how I would have been able to survive this first week in Milan. Thank you for your invaluable advice about my relationship with Jiyong oppa! Without you, I would have been the same self-centered, self-victimizing girl when I left Korea a week ago. You showed me how much Jiyong oppa loves me and how much I love him and shouldn’t give up on him. For all these, I don’t think a chocolate is enough. Your fun-loving nature made this week an exciting experience, your sensitive nature gave me insights, your wisdom taught me many things. So for all that, I thank you. I 29


hope one day you would find your angel and shine brighter than before, ok? Stay happy ALWAYS!! Love, Chaerin PS: You can send the ‘bill’ of my consultation with you to my boss. Tell him how many collaborations I owe you. You can send the copy of the ‘bill’ to Jiyong oppa too! ^^ She tied the note to the wrapper of Jay’s personalized chocolate and put it on the dining table for him. She went back to the kitchen to finish up the last of the cleaning and was finally happy with how clean it was. She took out her phone and checked to see if there were any new messages that day. From: GD 8 February 2013 4.30pm CET Chaerin baby, How was your day today? I miss you. Seeing all the couples around me makes me sad and wish you were here. Then at least only Seungri would be the only single man around. Today, I told our boss that I would go to you and stay with you once I know where you are. You have to be responsible and take me in ok? I can’t wait to see you but baby, at least give me a clue about where you are? Boss seemed determined not to tell me where you are. You will let me know when it’s time right? I really want to see you before your birthday this year. I have missed too many of yours, but I’m not going to miss out any more. I love you darling. See you soon. Chaerin smiled as she typed in a reply. To: My Jingyo Oppa<3 8 February 2013 8.15pm CET Jiyong oppa, My day was good. 30


I made chocolate for everyone. But you would have received them by now. Did you like it? I miss you too. It must have been hard on you to see all the couples but it’s alright, you have Seungri as company for now. You will? You will come and stay with me? What about your work? As much as I would like you here with me, I don’t think staying with me is a good idea. I will take you in for a day or two while you look for a place to stay. I hope to see you soon too. Would I see you before my birthday? What are you going to give me as a birthday present this year? I love you too, oppa. See you soon. Just then, Jay came through the door with dinner and a paper-bag from Chanel. He called out to Chaerin and she went to help him with the food packages. The Chanel paper-bag was a surprise but she thought it was just Jay doing last minute shopping for his friends. “Oppa, what did you buy?” “Pizza and pasta. I know you can cook these but well, it’s my last night here and if you weren’t so insistent that we do not go out and risk being recognized, I would have brought you to a nice restaurant. Now, we just have to settle for the best pizza and pasta in Milan!” “Thank you oppa, for being understanding! Pizza sounds real good right now!” “Come, sit down and eat!” Chaerin got plates and utensils and set the table while Jay took out all the food and placed them nicely on the table. “Come, Chaerin, let’s take a photo together.” “That’s not going on Twitter right?”

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“Nope, private collection.” And so Jay took a photo of him and Chaerin together and stored it in his phone. “Oppa, send the photo to me via Kakao or something.” “I will do that later. Let’s have dinner first!” The two of them settled down to have dinner. And Jay noticed the final product of his personalized chocolate on his plate and he was overjoyed! He literally ran around the kitchen 3 times hip-hip-hooraying to himself. After which he got Chaerin to take a photo of him and the chocolate. “Best. Valentines’. Ever! This is going onto Twitter. Just so you know.” “As long as I’m not mentioned in anyway, though I guess I should expect a message from Seungri whining about chocolates then. No big deal since it’s all done. But I’m going to torture him into thinking that there isn’t any for him. So you have got to keep it a secret ok?” “You do know that the moment I step into YGE with all these goodies, they would know about it anyway.” “Yes, but I would like my peace till that happens. When are you meeting my boss?” “He wants to meet me on the 12th so that there’s ample time for me to pass him the video clip for the press conference on 14th. The timing should be alright. I would be working with Jiyong and TOP after being your messenger and delivery man. Want me to send photos of your Jiyong oppa to you?” “I’m ok. You don’t have to.” “But you would like me to if I get the chance to right?” Chaerin just took another bite of her pizza to not have to answer Jay. “So are you all settled to take him back into your life?”

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Jay took a bite of the gigantic pizza slice he just took for himself and waited for Chaerin’s answer. “I believe so but he has been moving ahead way too much that I don’t know if I can keep up with him.” “What do you mean?” “He’s already thinking of how many kids we should have and he already named our first child who is going to be a girl.” “What’s her name?” “Really, you want to know?” “Of course! It’s always fun to see a guy trying to think of a name for a girl.” “Kwon Ae-Rin.” “Oh my, he’s cheesy! Like OMG-kind of cheesy!! I’m so going to tease him when I see him.” “But it’s a beautiful name, isn’t it?!!” “Of course, it is. But would your child want to live with a name that is her father’s declaration of love for her mother?” Chaerin looked at Jay quizzically, like she didn’t know what he was talking about. Jay thought that she was trying to act dumb but as the silence became longer, it dawned on him that she didn’t realize the significance of the name. “Ya~ You are supposed to be better in Korean and Hanja much better than I am. What is the Hanja for ‘Ae’? If I’m not wrong, it’s the same character and has the same meaning across 3 languages: Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Putting the surname in, it would mean literally, ‘Kwon loves Rin’. I must give your future hubby credit. He’s indeed a great lyricist.” “OMG! I didn’t even realize that. I just thought it’s a beautiful name! But I like it.” 33


“Of course you would. To be honest, nothing like having a child who is a product of 2 person’s love for each other and to have his or her name sums up that love. It’s beautiful. Just a little cheesy but who cares~ It’s LOVE~~ Your kids are going to be beautiful! Is that the only concern? I would say it’s a good thing on his side.” “Why?” “Cheesy names aside, for Jiyong who has no lack of pretty girls around him to think about a future that includes children with one single lady, it’s not easy. I would tell you to grab him before he changes his mind, march him off to the wedding hall and put a ring on that finger. He’s for keeps.” “Why would he change his mind?” “Your Jiyong oppa is now making all these plans without knowing what your answer is going to be. He’s taking a very big step in putting his heart on his sleeves for you to see. He knows that you can see it because these messages are going out to your available numbers. Has he also told you about his plans once he finds out where you are?” “Yes, he said that he’s going to come find me and stay by my side. But what about his work? He can’t just up and leave.” “I would think his most urgent work right now would be to finish TOP’s album, am I right? I’m pretty sure he’s doing what he can to finish that right now. I won’t even be surprised that they have finished most of the raw recording before I turn up at YGE. He can afford to leave Korea for a while. So you had better be prepared. He’s not going to leave your side.” “But how is he going to explain his absence? I have a valid reason. I have school and internship.” “His reason is you. I told you before, the moment a person decide to go into a relationship, they already know where their priorities are. Look at your members, look at the Big Bang members who are attached. While I’m sure work is still a priority for them, they would take into consideration their other half’s thinking and feelings. Though how he’s going to stay here for a

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long period of time without causing suspicions would be what I’m interested in finding out.” “He said he’s going to try finding me before my birthday comes.” “Would you let him find you before your birthday? Or more specifically, do you want him to find you before your birthday? That is the question I want to know. Don’t think about anything else, it’s a yes/no question.” “Yes.” “There we go. Then he will find you before your birthday. Do you have any birthday wish? I could let him know.” “I’m not going to tell you. I want to see if he would bring the right thing. That would determine if I would let him step into this apartment.” “Good, don’t let him in too easily. He has to pay for some of the pain you went through.” “Right!” “But don’t be too harsh on him. He is really making an effort to be with you. Have a good talk with him when you finally see him.” “Thank you oppa, for everything! I can’t thank you enough.” “You already did.” Jay held up the chocolate that Chaerin had made for him and gave her a big smile. It was true, that was all that is needed from her. She had already given him the best 1 week of his life since the scandal, since sending his own angel away. So in a way, he had also found some semblance of peace. “Oppa, if you don’t mind me asking, what happened to the girl you sent away? Is she someone I know?” “She got married recently. I didn’t want to be in Korea when that happened. So that’s part of the reason why I’m in Europe the last couple of weeks. I’m glad that she found her happiness. But it still kind of hurts that the person 35


standing beside her is not me. Nonetheless, as long as she’s happy, I am happy for her.” “I’m sorry to hear that. Don’t worry oppa, you will find the one who’s meant to stand beside you one day. I’m very sure you will.” “Thanks! I know I will, someday.” Chaerin patted Jay’s hands and gave him a sincere smile. Hearing that one wrong step might cause the love story that 2 people have painstakingly written to go wrong, reminded Chaerin to be careful with her own. She had to be mindful when she talks to Jiyong when they finally meet. “Oh! I almost forgot! I got you something!” Jay stood up from the dining table and went to fetch the Chanel paper-bag that he had with him when he came back for dinner. “Here, this is for you! Happy Valentines’!” “Oppa, you shouldn’t have! My chocolate isn’t worth this much.” “Come on, treat it as a gift for letting me stay with you this whole week, and for sharing so much with me and it’s my first gift to you as an oppa. So please accept it.” “Ok, can I see what it is then?” “Sure, it’s yours anyway.” Chaerin took the spectacle case from the paper-bag and opened to reveal the pair of sunglasses that she was admiring that day when she went out with Jay and his cousin. “How did you know...” “You were looking at it and it reminded me of you, so I got it. Hope you like it!” “I LOVE IT!! Thank you oppa!”

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Chaerin put on the sunglasses and put on her most chic pose. Jay has to take a picture of it. “Let me see!” “It’s a beautiful picture! I’d send it to you too!” “Thank you!” With the gift-giving out of the way, the two of them continued with dinner and had the chocolates they made for desserts. They chatted till the wee hours of the morning, singing and writing new lyrics as well. It was great that 2 people who met at their previous company as trainees meet again some years later after having gone through different experiences and through it all, something never changed. The passion for music.

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Chapter 54 9 February 2013 Milan, 8am Chaerin and Jay finally called it a night after they were finally done with packing everything into Jay’s luggage. Chaerin supervised and gave advice on how to pack everything. Jay jokingly called her ‘mum’ multiple times just to get her to stop. But all that’s been done and Chaerin had gone off to bed. But for Jay, the day has not ended yet. While he has time on the airplane to edit the video, he was dealing with sensitive and confidential materials after all. So he got to work in putting the final video together. He managed to manipulate a couple of audio files to use it for background music. The one that turned out best was the combination of Jiyong’s original vocals for ‘Missing You’ and Chaerin’s version when she sang it in the kitchen with Jay while making cookies. So that was chosen as the background track. He put the music tracks to match the bits of conversation he decided to include in the video for Jiyong. After all the video was to give him an insight on what Chaerin was thinking. By the time, Jay was marginally satisfied with the draft version of the video, it was already close to 6am in the morning. He decided that he could work on the final version when he’s back in Seoul. Since he could spend 10 hours on the plane sleeping, he decided to forego sleep and make breakfast for Chaerin instead of her doing the chore every day. When he heard the front door close, he knew that Chaerin had left for her morning jog. He knew he couldn’t cook all the fanciful stuff that Chaerin did so he kept things simple. Eggs were beaten and omelettes were made. He added some cheese so he got cheese omelette. Bacon was cooked to a nice crisp and he made the vinaigrette dressing that Chaerin had taught him and made a salad too. He bought croissant the previous evening when he went out to get dinner. So he put those in the oven, ready to be warmed up when Chaerin gets back. He made some coffee and once everything was ready, he went to shower and change into the clothes he was going to wear to the airport that day. He went back to the kitchen to check that everything was ready. When he heard

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the front door open, he switched on the oven and then stood up waiting for Chaerin to appear in the kitchen. The moment she walked into the kitchen, he turned towards her and gestured to the table. “Breakfast is served, Your Highness!” “Wow! Jay oppa, you didn’t have to. Now you spoil my surprise! I was going to take you out to breakfast!” “WHAT?!!” Chaerin laughed out loud at Jay’s expression. She was just kidding about taking him out for breakfast but it was enough to see his reaction. “I can throw all the food away and pretend that I didn’t cook breakfast then we can go out and eat!” “I was joking! I bought some food back. You should have seen your reaction! It’s too funny, oppa!” “Tch! You shouldn’t tease me like that! I would really throw away all the food just to have breakfast with you outside.” “Oppa, isn’t it better to have breakfast here without having to worry about people spotting us? At least we won’t be spending time looking around and being careful with the way we behave.” “That’s true. You owe me a meal when you get back to Seoul. But I have a feeling that you are going to suggest eating at YGE cafeteria.” “Well, if you don’t mind more people tagging along, we can always go out with my group members. They have always wanted to meet the great Jay Park!” “Awww~ That’s nice! Sure thing!” “We could also go to Teddy oppa’s new cafe! There’s this signature black sandwich that is all the wow right now.” 39


“We’ll talk when you come back to Seoul!” “Aye aye sir! Let’s eat!” Jay took out the croissants from the oven and the two of them started breakfast. “Oppa, what’s the first thing you are going to do when you arrive in Seoul?” “Sleep. I’m going to switch off my phone and sleep till I have my fill. Because once I wake up, I’m going to be so busy with all the different things. My album, collaboration with Jiyong and TOP, they are all going to fill my days up.” “Oppa! FIGHTING!! If you run into any problems, you can always message me or call me. I’d be here to listen. That’s the least I could do for you.” “What about you? What are you going to do between now and when school starts?” “I plan to finish some more drawings and maybe try to actualize some of the designs. I could send you samples if you like what you see. But you would have to keep mum about where the designs are from.” “You want to be the mysterious new kid on the block eh?” “Not really, I want to see what kind of reactions I would get with the pieces.” “Then wouldn’t Jiyong be better?” “No. People expects Jiyong oppa to be a fashion icon and whatever he puts on him, no matter how ridiculous it is, people would actually accept it because it’s worn by him. He could wear a burlap sack and people will say that he looks fashionable. I want raw reactions. I think it would be fun to dress you.” “Alright then, you are the designer. I’d have to trust you on that.” Chaerin gave Jay one of her eye-smiles and continued eating.

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“I think you need to work fast if you want to get any work done. Once Jiyong is here, you won’t be able to get anything done.” “You’d be surprised. You already said that I stay very focused on what I need to do. There is a rule of conduct that we have between us when it comes to work.” “Oh, that’s when you were colleagues. You will need a new one once you are a couple. Trust me, this is one of the things you need to have right at the beginning. Especially when you have work to finish and he doesn’t. Rather than leave it be and then when things start piling up, you start getting pissed off at him.” “Hmmm, alright, I would look into it. Thanks for the advance notice.” “You are welcome.” “What time are you leaving for the airport?” “Around noon. I don’t know how the traffic conditions are like on a weekend but the last thing I want to do is to get stuck and be late for my flight.” “I’m going to miss you!” “Silly girl, I’m just a phone call away!” “It’s not the same. I will have this house all to myself.” Jay looked at her and smile. Not for long. Not if I have anything to do with it. After breakfast, Jay did a last-minute check to make sure that he had gotten everything. Chaerin helped out of course and when the time came for him to leave, both of them shared a long hug. Chaerin sent him all the way to the lift lobby and that was the furthest she would go. Because since they have done such a good job so far in keeping things low profile, there was no reason to let down their guard just because Jay was leaving. 41


“See you soon, Seoul’s Baddest Female!” “Bye, Jay oppa! Take care of yourself! Message me when you arrive at the airport and when you touch down in Korea!” “I will. You be careful as well. Do not open the door to strangers. If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me alright?” “Alright, go! You are going to be late!” With that, Chaerin sent her companion for the last 1 week off and walked back to the empty apartment. When she settled down in front of the fireplace with her sketchbook, she started drawing new designs with Jay in mind. Not just Jay, but the whole of 2NE1. She was really going to suggest strongly for Jay to be their coproducer in their next album or at least their next single. Keeping the concept of what she has in mind for the collaboration, she got the looks down within 2 hours. She was pretty satisfied with it. She was going to go on to a different set of outfits when her phone beeped. From: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.35pm CET

Yoz! I have arrived at the airport. Going to do my check-in now. Don’t worry, I will guard your gifts with my life. To: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.37pm CET

Great! Have a safe flight, oppa! Let me know when you arrive in Seoul! And rest well! From: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.40pm CET

I will. You be careful alright? To: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.42pm CET

Arasseo! Don’t be a naggy ahjussi! From: Jay Oppa :)

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9 February 2013 1.45pm CET

The halmoni calling me an ahjussi~ Sheesh! What is this world coming to! Anyway! I would be switching back to the Korea number once I touched down. To: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.48pm CET

I have both numbers. -.-” Just message me with the one you are using so that I’d know. And don’t call me halmoni! I’m going for a nap. So don’t disturb me! Reading the last message, Jay smiled and couldn’t resist sending one more message. From: Jay Oppa :) 9 February 2013 1.50pm CET

Alright, I won’t disturb the halmoni and her nap! Talk to you when I arrive in Seoul! There was no answer from Chaerin. After checking in his luggage, Jay went to a cafe to get a cup of coffee. His sleepless night was starting to bother him. He needed to stay awake till he boards the plane. So he occupied his time by going onto Twitter and tweet about his Valentine’s chocolate. @JAYBUMAOM: Valentines’ came early this year for me! Handmade, personalized chocolate! LOVE IT!! Thanks to the angel who made this!! The mentions and the retweets started coming in seconds after the tweet was sent. Jay realized that most of them wanted to know who this mysterious angel was and that they were jealous of her being able to make him so happy. There were some hard-core fans who threaten the angel’s safety and Jay was glad that no one knew where he was and who he was with. He would never put Chaerin in that kind of danger. The announcement for his flight came and he went to board the plane. He was still careful not to have people recognize him. Having read the tweets from crazy fans, he took better precautions because this involved Chaerin as well.

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Once he was settled in his seat, he made sure that his hand luggage would be safe and then settled in to sleep for the entire journey. See you in 10 hours, Seoul! After the long flight, he finally arrived back in Seoul. He changed the SIM card to his Korean number and send Chaerin a message to let her know that he had arrived safely. To: Angel Chae :D 10 February 2013 8.18pm KST

Halmoni~ I have arrived in Korea! Take care of yourself!! I’d see you soon! From: Angel Chae :D 10 February 2013 8.20pm KST

Ahjussi, be careful on your way out not to be assaulted by other ahjummas! See you in 6 months? :) Oh yes, don’t forget to send me the pictures you took of me and our picture together! Jay put his phone away to alight from the plane first. He had almost forgotten about the photo but now that Chaerin reminded him again, he has to remember to send her the photos. As he was walking out of the departure gate, looking for his manager, he happened to glance at the TV and it was Big Bang on Sketchbook. He didn’t get to hear what the question the MC asked to Jiyong but looking at how serious he looked on the screen, he knew it was something important. He decided then to find this episode and watch it. Once he found his manager, they made quick work of leaving the airport. He has lost the anonymity that he had in Italy so they can’t afford to have too many people spotting him at the airport. Once in the nanny van, he asked his manager about Big Bang’s appearance on Sketchbook. He wanted to know when it was aired. “It was aired today. What GD said had created quite a stir. He said he was going to be leaving Korea for a while to seek his inspiration and told his fans not to worry, that Big Bang would be back, bigger and better than before. It looks like the first half of 2013, they would be concentrating more on solo 44


activities. I heard that you are collaborating with TOP on his solo album? How did you manage to get that? We just got the notification a couple of days ago.” “I met an angel.” “You are being mysterious. You can’t even tell me?” “No~ What’s my schedule like tomorrow and on the 12th?” “Well, we were waiting for you to get back before putting down anything solid. Not to mention we have to factor that collaboration with TOP. It’s a big thing, man! A collaboration with YGE will be good for you!” “Then keep my schedule free and flexible for the next week. I am supposed to meet YG sajangnim on the 12th and we would probably be working on the collaboration piece then.” “Alright then. Our boss would like to see you some time tomorrow. So, make that your priority before you start to do anything.” “Ok.” “Do you need me to pick you up tomorrow? What do you intend to do tomorrow anyway?” “I’d go see our boss and then I’d probably drop by YGE. I want to get my visit with the bosses over and done with. I’d be alright on my own the next week or so. I don’t want to be spotted too much at YGE and the nanny van is a dead giveaway.” “There are fans gathered at your building all the time. Your movement would be monitored.” “There are fans everywhere in Korea. It’s alright. I’m sure YGE will announce the collaboration soon. Being spotted once or twice would be alright. It helps build the suspense anyway.” “You sound excited, like there’s more happening than just the collaboration.”

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Jay just grinned at his manager. You have no idea. Upon arriving back at his apartment, Jay checked on the chocolates to make sure that they survived the flight. Since they put bubble wrap around each of the personalized chocolate, they were alright. He put all the chocolates into the fridge so they won’t melt. Then he took out the macadamia nut cookies that was his and started munching on a few. He knew he had to stop when he was into his 5th cookie. He buried the canister under his cap collection so that no one would find it. No one touches his cap collection. After that was done, he called up YG’s office. Getting no answer, he called YG’s mobile phone. It was answered on the 2nd ring. “YG sajangnim, annyeonghaseyo! This is Jay.” “Hi Jay, you are back in Korea?” “Yes I am. I was wondering would it be convenient to meet you tomorrow?” “Are you going to come with the macadamia nut cookies from Chaerin? If yes, then you can come tomorrow.” “They are really good, I can understand why you love them so much. She made the cookies for everyone as Valentines’ gifts.” “Oh good! Are there other goodies too?” “She made some chocolates for the staff. For her members and her Big Bang oppas, she made them personalized chocolates which I believe all of them would be delighted to receive.” “Bring them all tomorrow. I might just give them their Valentines’ surprise early. And don’t forget the press conference video.” “I won’t. I would also bring the edited video I have for Jiyong. Do you want to take a look at that first?” “Nah, I trust you to do what is best for the two of them. But I want an 46


update on how Chaerin is doing, especially when it comes to Jiyong.” “I will do that tomorrow when we meet. I should be at your office at around 2pm.” “Alright, see you then.” “Thank you YG sajangnim for giving me this opportunity. I would do well.” “I have no doubts you would. See you tomorrow.” The both of them hung up the call. Jay took out his laptop and work on the final cut of Jiyong’s video. When he was done, it was 2am in the morning. He remembered that he had forgotten to send the photos to Chaerin, and he got right to it. Then an idea struck him. He smiled. To: Jiyong 11 February 2013 2.26am KST

Hey Jiyong! Guess who I met when I went to visit my cousin? Listen to the song, all the way to the end. See you later. He attached the edited audio file of ‘Missing You’ with Chaerin’s voice and once the message was sent, he switched off his phone. He has no intention of switching it on till he stepped into YGE the next day.

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Chapter 55 10 February 2013 Seoul, 5pm Big Bang members were gathered at KBS for their ‘LIVE’ showcase that night on Sketchbook. They were due for a sound check before a full-dress technical rehearsal before they break for dinner. While the showcase is ‘LIVE’, it’s basically means it’s recorded before a LIVE audience. The show is recorded and shown at the given time-slot of the program. “Seungri, I want you to start ‘Bad Boy’ with me. While I’m ok with the song now, I would still like to know that there are vocals for the first part instead of just the music in the event that I slipped up. TOP hyung, you need to watch the blocking of your steps for ‘Blue’. You were in the wrong places a couple of times just now.” TOP nodded and gave an ‘ok’ sign using his hands. “Everyone has to be vigilant and watch out for each other. A mistake on stage can be masked if we watch out for everyone and cover it well. We are different in that while we have a choreography, it is not our be all or end all. I threw synchronized dancing out of the window when I knew TOP hyung was joining us.” Everyone laughed at the comment while TOP blushed and grinned. But everyone knew that Jiyong was joking. But looking out for each other is the most important thing on stage for a group. There is no point in executing the perfect dance steps on your own when there are people who can’t catch up. The sound technician came in then to hand them their mics and link up their personal headpiece. Once they were ready, they went out to the stage to do the sound check. Jiyong made a few tweaks here and there with the help of the sound technician. “Jiyong-ssi, it’s always great to work with you because you actually know how you want the sound to turn out. Some people are absolutely clueless about what they are doing on stage.”

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“Jun Min sunbae, you are too kind. It’s my responsibility to make sure that the audience get the best experience. Without your expertise, it wouldn’t have been this easy each time we do a performance here.” “YGE artistes are always at tip-top condition whenever they are doing any shows here. Sorry to hear about Chaerin’s departure. Would she be back soon? She’s another absolute joy to work with. Can never understand why people would call her a snob.” “Thank you for asking about Chaerin. She’s doing alright wherever she is. She will be back one day. She loves the stage too much. Thank you for holding her in such high regards.” “The news was shocking though. But you are right, I’m sure she will be back when the time is right. She will shine much brighter than before.” Jiyong merely smiled at that. He had to hold on to that too. He didn’t know if she would be back anytime soon but like what everyone has been saying, she would shine even brighter than before. Youngbae had overheard the last bit of the conversation and had walked over to Jiyong’s side. He held onto Jiyong’s shoulders, giving silent support and consolation. Jiyong turned and smiled at Youngbae, telling him without words that he was alright. Their band came on stage to do the sound check then and once that was done, the full-dress technical run started. That went by smoothly. Once that ended, Jiyong got the sound technician to make a few more tweaks to the live band’s sound output. Youngbae was briefing the others about some of the blocking changes because of the lighting. Everyone was satisfied with the run and went back to the dressing room for dinner before the actual show. As they settled down with their food, their managers came in with the manuscript for the run-down of the show that day. Since they have been on Sketchbook before, they were quite familiar with the format. But they do pay particular attention to the proposed interview questions. Unlike most artistes who go on the show to promote their newest album, this was theoretically Big Bang’s goodbye stage till the next promotion. The questions

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are somewhat different and focused on what’s next on their plate. “Just so all of you won’t be shocked, I intend to let the fans know of my plan to travel overseas this year, if I’m asked. The official reason is to find inspiration, but you all know the real reason. It’s not wrong to say that since she is the source of my inspiration but yes, because fans read everyone’s expression and I want to make sure that everyone is clear and not show a surprised face, like I didn’t consult with all of you about this decision.” “We’ve got you, Ji, don’t worry about it. Does our boss know?” “He does, I told him when I met him with TOP hyung 2 days ago.” “Then we’re settled.” “But when asked about our plans, I would let all of you go first. If there is no need for me to answer the question, then let’s just keep it as that.” All of the members nodded and they did their touch-up for their make-up. The MC, Yoo Hee Yeol, came to their dressing room about 30 minutes before the recording to greet them. All of the Big Bang members stood up and pay due respect to the MC of the day. At 15 minutes call, Big Bang assembled backstage to get their mics and to make sure everything was in order. After the MC introduced them, they started their performance. Jiyong managed to finish his part for ‘Bad Boy’ without any mishaps though his eyes were a little teary. At the end, when they did the acoustic version of ‘Lies’, their fans were totally surprised but many had tears in their eyes as they remembered the journey they have taken together with Big Bang over the past 6 years. The interview started after ‘Lies’. MC: Thank you very much, Big Bang, for the wonderful performance. It’s always a great experience every time we have you on the show. But, unlike others, this is considered your goodbye stage for this round of promotions, am I right?

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GD: Yes, for the last year we have been traveling around for our world tour. And though we had the concert finale in Seoul, we wanted to thank all the fans who weren’t able to make it to our concerts. Though this was a short showcase, we hope that all our fans can enjoy themselves when they see us on their screens. MC: So, what’s next? Jiyong looked over at Daesung for him to start talking. DS: I would be releasing my Japanese solo album end of this month. So I’d be away in Japan for the coming months for promotions and my solo concert tours in Japan. MC: Now that’s a surprise. Why would you choose to release a Japanese album first in Japan instead of releasing a Korean album in Korea? DS: It is part of our strategy to strengthen our popularity in Japan. Among the 5 of us, Seungri and I are the best in Japanese language and we have spent quite a bit of our time in Japan. Releasing a solo remake album is to show my abilities as a singer and also pay homage to the popular songs that I decided to include in the album. MC: That’s an unusual but definitely smart move. What about the other members? TOP: We are in the midst of recording my solo album. Jiyong is helping me with that. We are not at liberty to reveal more details yet but we want our fans to know that it’s in the works. I will also be spending time promoting ‘Alumnus’. The filming just ended a couple of weeks ago so that’s something to look forward to as well. TY: For me, I’m also working on my next solo album. So I hope the fans will anticipate and support me! MC: Seungri-ssi, what about you? SR: I would work on becoming more handsome! Everyone burst out laughing at Seungri’s statement. 51


MC: But you are already handsome. SR: Sunbae-nim, I can always be MORE handsome. But on a more serious note, I would be concentrating on developing my skills on variety shows. MC: Oh? Will we be seeing more of you soon? SR: Of course you would! MC: What about you, GD? What’s your plan for this year? GD: After our world tour and promoting my last solo album at the same time, I think I would like to take a rest and think about the direction for Big Bang’s next album. I might be going overseas for a while to find new inspiration. MC: Oh, I didn’t expect that from you. Jiyong merely smiled and then continued. GD: We choose to sing ‘Lies’ today because we wanted to remember the last 6 years, the ups and the downs that we have journeyed through as a group, as individuals of the group. On some level, the reason why we are taking a break from being members of Big Bang is so that we can recharge as individuals, go through new experiences as we try new things and then come back and re-group and give everyone a new Big Bang. That’s what we want to do. So while the fans might not see the 5 of us often, remember that we are each doing what we need to do to bring to everyone a better Big Bang. MC: Thank you for sharing with us your views. I think as artistes we all need to try new things so that we can bring new experiences to our fans. We wish all the Big Bang members all the best in their endeavors and we hope to see a better Big Bang the next time we see you on this stage again. Thank you very much also for taking this time to be with us and showing us this wonderful showcase. BB: Thank you very much! For the encore song, they decided on ‘Tonight’ as it’s an uptempo song. Fans 52


were shocked by the announcement that GD would be overseas but because they have done this before, they knew that when they come back as 5, they are going to be bringing to them a better, more mature Big Bang! Once the song ended, the 5 members held hands and bowed to the audience. This was the swansong for Big Bang. For now. After they got out of their stage costume and removed their stage make-up, they went to say their goodbye greetings to the MC. The MC thanked them and gave them his best wishes. They bowed and then exited from his dressing room. “Now that’s done, let’s go for supper!!” Seungri was thrilled that they have done their final schedule for now and were free till the next cycle of schedules begin. He wanted to celebrate also because he knew that Jay was probably already back in Korea with all the goodies from Chaerin. All the hyungs hit Seungri on the head but all started to give ideas about where to go for supper. Jiyong surprised them with his suggestion. “I have a radical suggestion. Let’s just go home and eat ramen. Youngbae would be in-charge of cooking it. And we can sit and watch TV and drink if we want to.” “Coming from you, it’s indeed radical. Since when did you become such a homely person?” “Reminds me of someone, don’t you think?” “Ji, you keep saying that we are putty when we are with our girlfriends. I think you have taken it one step further. You are BECOMING your to-be girlfriend.” “Tease me all you want, but I’m actually alright with the change. In fact, I’m happy about it. Come on, let’s go home, ok?” “Fine, but I’m not cooking. Let’s buy food back.”

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“Call! I want Japanese food.” “Alright, let’s order from the restaurant that we always go to. Seungri and Daesung can go pick it up when it’s ready while we wait at the carpark.” “We could ask the manager to bring it out for us.” “Alright, let’s go go go!!” Jiyong realized that his phone was low on battery so he decided to send Chaerin a message before switching his phone off. “Are you sending a message to Chaerin to tell her that you are done for the day? Seriously? You are reporting to her even before you got together. You are going to be the putty of all putty.” TOP couldn’t help teasing Jiyong although all 3 attached members have done just that immediately after they finished their performance. “I saw the 3 of you sending messages the moment we stepped into the dressing room, so I think you guys are still more pussy-whipped than I am. My phone is running out of battery and knowing us, we would probably be drinking and eating when we get back and I don’t want to break my ‘a message a day’ routine. Plus it gives me peace of mind.” “Alright, alright, all of you, I’m the only one who can make fun of all of you because I don’t have a girlfriend!” That got Seungri another round of smacks on the head but the atmosphere was still jovial. By the time they got back to their dorm with the food, it was close to midnight. They decided to shower before eating so that they could go to bed once they are done. “So, how long do you think our boss would keep Chaerin’s whereabouts a secret?” “Till I finish TOP hyung’s album.”

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“My guess is after the press conference for 2NE1. It’s like Ji hyung’s Valentines’ Day present.” “Maybe our boss won’t be the one to tell Ji hyung where Chaerin is.” “What makes you say that, maknae?” “As much as our boss wants to tell Ji hyung where Chaerin is, he promised Chaerin he won’t. And just to keep his businessman’s integrity, he would keep up his end of the promise. So my guess is he would probably let Ji hyung know through someone else.” “That’s a possibility too. Maybe he would ask Sean hyung to do the honors.” “I think whatever it is, it really depends on how prepared Jiyong is. I’m sure Boss is not holding back simply because he wants to but also because he needs to know that Jiyong is ready to see Chaerin again and vice versa.” “I think Jiyong is ready to see Chaerin. Gawd, he has to go see Chaerin soon otherwise he’s going to BECOME Chaerin.” Everyone laughed at TOP’s statement. “Well, we might know that Jiyong is ready to see Chaerin, but is she ready to see him, that would be the greater question.” The statement from Youngbae kind of brought the cheery atmosphere down. For it is true that while they can see that Jiyong is ready to see Chaerin, no one really knows what’s on her mind now. “We just have to believe that the love she has for Ji is going to be enough. Both of them needed this cooling down period.” “Let’s not worry too much. I’m sure when it’s time, everything would be revealed.” They toasted to that without realizing the key holder had just put the key into the lock and started the whole series of events that would unfold and bring the two lovers back to each other.

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Chapter 56 11 February 2013 Sidus HQ, 1pm “So, tell me, exactly how did you end up getting a collaboration with YGE?” “Are you against it, boss?” “No, but I want to know why. YG doesn’t just hand out collaborations like that.” “Would you let me leave it at I met an angel?” “Who?” “For all parties involved, I think it would be better if it’s kept a secret. Not that I don’t trust you, boss, but because another’s reputation is at stake so I don’t want to make a big hooha out of it. All I would say is it won’t be my last collaboration with YGE artistes.” “Well, your trip to Europe has definitely paid off then.” “More than you know.” “So, you are going over to YGE now? With that big box? What’s inside anyway?” Jay smiled at his boss. “Valentine’s Day gift. This is the price of my collaboration. I have to deliver these items to YGE or all will be gone.” “Alright, if you want to be all secretive about it, be my guest.” “If you want details, I think it would be best if you talk to YG sajangnim. He’s more at liberty to disclose details about what brought about this collaboration if he chooses to tell you. If not, just treat it as a great boost to my album before it comes out.” Just then, the phone in the office rang. Jay has a secretive smile on his face.

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“If it’s GD looking for me, tell him I’m not around. If there’s nothing else, I’d be off now, boss.” Jay’s boss picked up the phone and upon hearing who was on the other end of the line, turned to look at Jay in shock. Jay put a finger to his lips, picked up the box, waved and left the office. “Hi GD, no, Jay’s not with me at the moment. Yes, I’d be sure to pass the message that you are looking for him. It’s no trouble. I would let him know it’s urgent.” Jay’s boss put down the phone and frowned, trying to figure out what was happening. But in the end, he decided that if YG was the one who asked for the collaboration, it can’t be all bad. Although GD being flustered and looking for Jay didn’t feel right but it looked like Jay was confident in handling whatever was happening. Over at the Big Bang’s dorm, it was major chaos. Jiyong woke up and after switching on his phone, was surprised to find Jay’s cryptic message in his inbox. He was puzzled at first why Jay would send him an audio file and ask him to guess who he met when he went to see his cousin. He grew even more puzzled when he heard his own voice singing ‘Missing You’. But all hell broke loose when he heard the female voice singing the chorus. It was Chaerin. He listened to the song again and tears rolled down his cheeks. He had not heard her voice since the last time they met and spent a night together at the girls’ dorm in each other’s arms. “Ji hyung, we are going for...” Seungri had come to let Jiyong know that they were leaving for lunch but when he saw Jiyong sobbing. He was wondering why, when he heard the female voice. It was Chaerin. 57


He quickly walked over and sat down beside Jiyong. He shook Jiyong to get his attention. When Jiyong turned to look at him, he asked quickly. “Who.. How.. Where did you get that?” Jiyong wiped away his tears and realized now was not the time to be crying. He needed to find Jay, and he needed to find him now. Without answering Seungri, he stopped the audio file and called Jay. “The subscriber you are trying to call cannot be reached at the moment. Please try again later.” “FUCK! Park Jae Bum! Don’t you dare send me something like that and not have the guts to keep your phone on!!” He continued dialing but no matter how many times he dialed, he got the same response. He was about to throw his phone against the wall in frustration when Seungri’s voice stopped him. “HYUNG! That phone contained the audio clip! That’s the only way you can hear Chaerin’s voice. Calm down. We will get to the bottom of this.” Seungri was thinking fast. He knew Jay was back in Korea, he had expected the meeting between Jay and Jiyong not to be too pleasant when they finally meet and Jiyong knows that Jay had been with Chaerin the past week. But he never expected Jay to send an audio clip or anything that was a giveaway of who he was with. “What’s wrong?” The other 3 members had heard the commotion and had come to check on their leader and maknae. Instead of explaining, Jiyong played the audio clip again. Initially, the 3 members were all puzzled as to why hearing his own song would set Jiyong off into a rage but when they hear the female voice, they understood. “Who sent the audio clip?” 58


“Jay. He was with her! He lied to me when I asked him if he was with Chaerin. Now I can’t get him on the phone at all. ARGH!!” “Ji, calm down. Why don’t you try calling his boss and see if he’s at his company?” Jiyong quickly made a call to SidusHQ and requested to speak to their CEO. At the same time, Youngbae got a call from YG and he answered the call. “Youngbae ah, where are all of you?” “Sajangnim, we are at our dorm. Why?” “Come down to the company as soon as you can. I have someone I want all of you to meet.” “Who is it?” “Jay Park.” “Boss, is something going on between Jay and Chaerin?” Upon hearing Youngbae’s question, Jiyong quickly got off the phone with Jay’s boss and walked over and snatched the phone from Youngbae. “Boss, is Jay with you now?” “He will be soon. Don’t get all angry. Come over to the company now and we will talk.” “How can you ask me to be calm when I just got to know Chaerin was with him? Tell me, were they alone? How can you allow it? And now, you want us to do a collaboration with him?” “Like I said, calm down. We will explain everything.” “You’d better have a damn good explanation for all of this!!” YG laughed.

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“Just come over now. Pass the phone back to Youngbae.” Jiyong passed the phone over to Youngbae and picked up his jacket. Seungri chased after him, knowing that he was in rage right now and would need someone with him in case he does something stupid. The other 3 members waited for Youngbae to get off the phone. “Boss wants us to go and get the girls. Apparently, he had already called them up and asked them to be at the company too. I’m getting very confused why we all need to be there when Jay comes.” “Let’s go and get the girls. We will find out eventually when we arrive.” Downstairs at the carpark, Seungri was trying to stop Jiyong from driving. “Ji hyung, let me drive alright? You are obviously too worked up to be driving. I’d bring you to the company now. Give me the keys.” Jiyong handed the keys over and got into the passenger side. When Seungri got into the driver seat, he said in a controlled voice. “Maknae, I don’t care what you do, I want to be at the company as soon as possible.” “Hyung, I know you want to get to the bottom of things. But just breathe and stay calm. Chaerin didn’t sound angry or forced in the clip so she’s alright. Keep that in mind alright?” “I’m not worried that Chaerin was harmed. I’m more worried about what had happened during the time that Jay was with her. What if he managed to win her over while she was weak emotionally? What if she choose him over me?” “Ji hyung, is that the amount of faith you have in Chaerin’s love for you? If that’s the case, you don’t deserve to have her.” Seungri’s voice had turned hard in his last statement to Jiyong. Jiyong looked at his maknae, shocked that he would use that tone on him. But Seungri was right. If he was afraid that Chaerin would shift her attention to someone else in her moment of weakness, he was underestimating her love for him. 60


But he was feeling insecure. He had not gotten any replies to his messages, he didn’t know how Chaerin felt towards him right now. Here he was planning their future together but what if she didn’t want to be part of it? The questions and the unknowns were killing him but he has to have faith in Chaerin and in her love for him. “Seungri, I’m sorry. It’s just that there are too many uncertainties. And it’s just difficult for me to think of her with another guy.” “Hyung, life is full of uncertainties. Right now, this is temporary. Once you see her or Jay, you will get your answers. But there will be times when the answers are not readily available. You can’t afford to behave in this manner because Chaerin would be depending on you to make the right decisions with her.” Jiyong bit his lower lip and thought of what Seungri just told him. He was right. At this point, while he has 1001 questions but the moment he sees Jay, he would get his answers. But there will be times when the answers won’t come to him as quickly or as easily. If he really wants a future with Chaerin, he has to remember that he needs to show her that he’s capable of looking after her. They have arrived at YGE building and Jiyong was getting out of the car when Seungri stopped him. “Hyung, calm down. Trust me, you would want Jay on your side. He’s the person who had just spent a week with Chaerin. He’s going to be the one who can answer all your questions about her. So if you are thinking of doing anything rash, like punching him, I’d advise you not to.” Jiyong took a deep breath and nodded. He knew Seungri was right but the unsettling feeling in his heart was putting the worst case scenarios in his head and he didn’t like what he was seeing. “Alright, let’s go.” The two of them jogged up to their boss’ office. When they arrived at his office door, they could hear laughter coming from the office. Just as they

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were about to enter, their boss’ secretary stopped them. “Sajangnim said to ask all of you to wait till he gives instructions for you, your members and 2NE1 members to enter. Please wait over there.” “I’m going in right now and no one can stop me!” Jiyong broke free from Seungri’s hold on him and marched right into their boss’ office without a second word. The sight of his boss stuffing what looked like cookies into his mouth was the last thing he expected to see. Shifting his eyes from their boss to the person he’s been wanting to see. Jay Park. After swallowing his mouthful of cookies, YG turned to look at Jiyong. He wasn’t pleased that Jiyong had defied his orders for them to wait outside before he calls for them. But because he had heard from Jay what he did, he could understand what’s the hurry. “If you are going to ask if Chaerin is doing alright, she’s doing well.” Jay knew what Jiyong wanted to ask most but he wasn’t going to make it easy by telling him without him asking. “Why didn’t you tell me you were with her when I ask you last week on Twitter?” “Because she wasn’t ready to see you yet.” “Who gave you the right to decide?” Jiyong was standing right in front of Jay now. Jay had stood up the moment Jiyong entered. He didn’t want to be at a disadvantage, height-wise, even if both of them are similar in stature. “To be very honest, do you think you have the right to question who she spends her time with? When was the last time you saw her? What was the last thing you said to her? What rights do you have to question me about her? Who are you in her life?”

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Jiyong was visibly shocked. Jay’s questions about the last time he saw Chaerin and what he said to her probably meant that he knew about the incident. His shock came from the fact that Chaerin had told Jay about it. She wasn’t someone to share such intimate details with another person. “Jiyong, I’m still waiting for an answer for the questions. Who are you in her life, that you think you have the right to question my decisions for her?” That was the other question that Jiyong had no answers to. He seemed to have lost all his confidence about his future with Chaerin. He clenched his hands into fists and wanted to hit himself for not being able to vocalize what he wanted to say. “You mean all those messages about wanting to be part of her future were not from you? What about the name you have thought of for your daughter? Ae-Rin, was that it? Were they just messages to lure her into thinking of a future with you? I’m disappointed in you, Kwon Jiyong.” “NO! I am serious about a future with her!!” “Then I suggest you sit and calm down. We’ll wait for the others to turn up before I tell everyone how Chaerin is doing. I’m not the enemy here.” “Jiyong ah, take a minute to think about all the questions that Jay has posed to you just now. We would like to know as well before we decide if you are ready to see Chaerin again.” Jiyong went to take a seat on the couch with Seungri while Jay took his seat opposite YG again. The only sound that could be heard was YG munching on his macadamia nut cookies and reading something on his desk. After reading it, he looked up at Jay, smiled and gave him a nod. He took the piece of paper and his canister of cookies and walked over to Jiyong and Seungri. “Here, while you are thinking about the questions, have a look at this as well.” YG handed the piece of paper over to Jiyong while Seungri just stared at the canister of cookies that YG was holding onto with his dear life. 63


“Sajangnim, is that what I think it is?” “What? This?” YG raised up the canister in Seungri’s direction. Seungri caught a whiff of the contents inside the canister. “IT IS!! Chaerin’s macadamia nut cookies!! HOW?!” YG nodded towards Jay and Jay gave a cheeky smile and a ‘V’ sign. “Jay, you brought us macadamia nut cookies from Chaerin?” “Yup~ Since your boss asked for it, Chaerin decided that everyone should get some. We spent the whole day in the kitchen making them!” Jiyong looked up from the piece of paper the moment Seungri mentioned the macadamia nuts cookies. While he was glad that everyone, that included him he hoped, would be getting some cookies, he didn’t like the fact that Jay spent a whole day with Chaerin baking cookies. That should have been ME! The sudden burst of jealousy coursing through Jiyong made him see red and he almost crushed the piece of paper in his hands. Jay saw his reaction and laughed quietly to himself. “Be careful there, Chaerin spent a lot of time on those lyrics. I was actually very reluctant to hand it over for this collaboration but it would be weird for me to use her work in my album without any prior contact with YGE.” “Chaerin wrote this?” “Hyung, let me take a look!” “When did she write this?” “Should be the day before we made the cookies. During one of our late-night rap ‘battle’ sessions. YG sajangnim, she’s a bad-ass when it comes to rap.

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Amazing talent!” “I know. She’s persistent too. I love that trait in her.” Hearing how Chaerin and Jay had rap ‘battles’ reminded Jiyong of their early days, when they would spend time poring over lyrics that Jiyong had written. She had never written anything with him and always choose to be the one listening to him while he wrote and asked for her opinions. But as time passed, such sessions dwindled to almost non-existent and the only time they would actually share on such creative process would be when she needed his advice on raps that she was stuck in. Even then, he won’t be the first one that she would consult and only when he was present in the recording studio and at Teddy’s prompting, would she ask him rather reluctantly. Jiyong grew more uneasy by the minute. He really didn’t like having no confidence in himself. “Hyung, the lyrics is really good. It’s almost like she was telling a love story, her love story.” Jay spoke up at Seungri’s comment. “Personally, I think it’s Jiyong’s love story too. Like I told Chaerin, both of you have been writing your own love story, and keeping the most important person at the sidelines.” “But it sounds sad though.” “Since this was written about 4 days after she left Korea, she was still pretty upset and hurt. But the ones she wrote later are much happier, more hopeful.” Both Jiyong and YG looked at Jay with great interest. Jiyong finally decided to ask. “Do you have a copy of what she wrote?” “Nope~ It wasn’t complete when I left. She needed more than herself to 65


complete that piece and I’m not the right person to help her with it.” Before Jiyong could say more or ask for Chaerin’s specific location, the 3 couples arrived at YG’s office.

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Chapter 57 11 February 2013 YGE, 3pm “Oh good, now that all the related parties are here, let’s get this show on the road.” Without another word, the 3 couples sat down at the couch together with Jiyong and Seungri and waited for YG or Jay to say something. “Well, just so everyone knows why Jay is here and why I requested for all of you to be here, I would start with that. Jay was with Chaerin the whole of last week. It was a chance meeting. From what Chaerin told me, Jay found her at the cafe she was at on the 2nd day. That was after she was on the phone with us to know what each of the girls want to do for their individual development. And coincidentally, the apartment that Chaerin was going to rent belonged to Jay’s cousin staying in Italy.” “But why was Jae Bum oppa in Italy of all places?” Jay grinned at Minzy who asked the question. Daesung tightened his jaw and looked at Jay when he heard Minzy call Jay ‘oppa’. Jay noticed the minute movement and was really amused. “To answer Minzy’s question, I was in France for a concert and decided to travel to Italy to visit my cousin who’s staying there. Unfortunately, she was going on her around-the-world trip so I would have been alone if I didn’t run into Chaerin.” “So you were staying with Chaerin in the same apartment for the last week?” Jiyong could barely restrain his anger when he asked the question. His fists were clenched and he looked ready to pounce on Jay. Youngbae saw his expression and looked over at Seungri. When their eyes met, Seungri nodded his understanding. They would have to restrain him if he decides to pounce.

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“Yup!” “Were the two of you alone in the apartment?” “For about 4 days. My cousin left for her trip on the 3rd day Chaerin moved in. We were at Lake Como for a day but the rest of the time, we were pretty much in the apartment alone.” Jiyong was going to launch himself at Jay but was held back by Youngbae’s hand on his thigh. Jiyong closed his eyes in order to control the anger and jealousy in him. When he opened his eyes, he looked over at YG, who was putting yet another cookie into his mouth. Jay turned to look at YG and laughed. “YG sajangnim, you have to slow down on the cookies. You only have 2 canisters of those to last you a long time.” “It’s ok, I can always take away the others’. If they didn’t know there were any for them in the first place, then giving it to them is just being nice. Chaerin’s macadamia nut cookies brings out the worst in me.” “Boss, did you know that Chaerin was going to be staying with Jay in the same apartment alone?” “Yes I knew.” “And you allowed that to happen? WHY?! What if a scandal breaks out between the two of them when they are spotted? You put Chaerin’s reputation in danger!! How could you do that?!” “Your boss tried to stop her but do you really think that she can be stopped if she wanted something? She was glad that she found someone who could speak Korean and my cousin gave her a good deal for it too and she’s very happy with the apartment.” “I’m not talking to you, Jay. If anyone were to spot the two of you in the same apartment or just together on the streets, it would have been disastrous!!” “Jiyong oppa, Chaerin unnie is a very careful person. She won’t allow such a 68


thing to happen. She doesn’t even allow herself to be seen on the streets alone with you, do you think she would do something that would jeopardize her and Jae Bum oppa’s reputation?” “Minzy is right of course. The only time we were out on the streets was when my cousin was with us when she was showing Chaerin how to get around and go to the fashion design school that’s near the apartment. Even then, she kept her distance from me. And Minzy, you can follow your Chaerin unnie and call me ‘Jay oppa’.” “WHAT?!” Both Daesung and Jiyong shouted at the same time. Jay blinked and then smiled. “Jay, you had better be careful. You don’t want more of the Big Bang members to be jealous of you.” YG cautioned him, not knowing if Chaerin told Jay about the couples. Jay looked over at Jiyong and Daesung and grinned. “I’m not the enemy. Relax. Although I have to admit I was very tempted to steal your angel away from you, Jiyong. Why the hell did you leave her alone all these years? Someone could have come along and sweep her off her feet really easily. Maybe even someone close to you.” Jay looked over at Seungri and both of them exchanged a look. Jay gave Seungri a knowing smile. Seungri was rather shocked that Jay seemed to have figured out his feelings for Chaerin was more than platonic. “Jae Bum-ssi, you mentioned a fashion design school just now. Is Chaerin going to that school?” Jay looked over at Dara who had asked the question and gave her a sweet smile. Dara blushed at being on the receiving end of the smile and looked away. This time, it was Youngbae who was getting riled. “Dara noona, not just any fashion school, she’s going to Istituto Marangoni which is THE fashion design school in Europe. All of you should be proud that she managed to get a place in that school.” 69


“How did she get a place there? I heard it’s really exclusive and only the topnotch fashion design students can secure a place there.” Youngbae was the one who asked the question. All of them were awed when they heard that Chaerin was going to be attending Istituto Marangoni. Even TOP who’s not really aware of how prestigious it was, was shocked. Jay looked around at the people in front of him and shook his head. He was a little angry that no one had paid any attention to Chaerin and her talents. It was like seeing her struggling in JYPE all over again. “None of you have ever seen her sketches?” Everyone shook their heads, even YG. “Then when you see her video on the day of the press conference, open your eyes and take a good look. And those were her unfinished sketches. To answer Youngbae’s question of how she got into the school, she got in purely by her talents. She had to send in a full portfolio of her work with her application. So to be accepted based on that would mean that she’s good, she’s very good in fact. And since your boss had no idea that she applied for a place in the school, you can be sure it wasn’t YGE’s fame or connections that got her the place.” Everyone, including YG, noticed the anger in Jay’s tone and was a little ashamed of themselves for not noticing. Jiyong, in particular, was lost in his own guilt. “Sajangnim, when did Chaerin come to you about her acceptance to the school?” This time, everyone looked at Bom who asked the question. “She got the notification when she came back from the Singapore concert. She came to me soon after with her decision to accept the position.” “So you knew throughout the whole recording and promotion period that she was going to be leaving? Why didn’t you say anything?”

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YG met Jiyong’s eyes because he was the one who asked the question. “I was hoping that she would change her mind. Yet, at the same time, I can’t ask her to stay and give up such a good opportunity to further her interest in fashion design. And going by what Jay said, I’m glad I didn’t stop her. Not to mention, what you told her the last time you guys met was the final deciding factor. Maybe on some level, she was hoping that you would ask her to stay. I’m not saying she won’t leave if you have asked her, but if you had at least listened to her reason, she won’t have left with a broken heart.” Jiyong’s face collapsed into a frowning mess. He didn’t know that one last sentence he uttered hurt both of them so much. “Well, Jiyong, if it’s any consolation, your daily messages to her helped a lot. She takes a lot of comfort in getting those messages. So don’t give up.” “She gets all my messages? But she never replies to any of them.” “She replies to every single one of your messages. You are just not looking in the right place. Or more specifically, you have not said the magic words that would allow her to open up this last barrier to you. Be patient. When she is ready, she will let you know.” Jay looked at the Big Bang and 2NE1 members before him and decided to address the group as a whole. “When Chaerin finally comes back, I hope that all of you remember you have lost her before. I know her departure affected all of you differently but I hope you know that she knows all of you very well. In the short week I was with her, I have seen how she has taken upon herself to give comfort and support to each and everyone of you in her own quiet and selfless way. Try remembering a time when you were feeling low and what she would do for you. It might be a small thing like giving you your favorite drink or snack to make you feel better or taking time to sit down beside you quietly to give you the support and comfort that you need without fail. For the couples among you, remember that she left, breaking her own heart because she has to leave her love behind, so that you guys can be together.

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She would never admit that this was the other reason why she left but I want all of you to keep that in mind. She left so that your dreams can be fulfilled, she left so that you guys can be together without having to worry about being apart because of your schedules. Don’t feel guilty about it because that’s the last emotion she would want you to feel. But remember and treasure each other more because she believed in your relationship, that you would walk to the end with each other.” “She told you about the couples too?” YG was a little shocked that Chaerin had talked to Jay about the couples. He knew that she was very careful about letting others know about them because of the consequences. Jay had managed to put himself into Chaerin’s inner circle and gotten her trust. “Yes she did. She did make me swear to secrecy but since it’s in the room where everyone knows about it, it should be alright. When she told me about it, she thought that being in a relationship for artistes is a big thing and it might cause the break-up of their groups. I told her that for them to decide to become a couple, they have made certain decisions in their head. Whether this would be the last relationship they would ever have, that’s besides the point. To be in a relationship despite knowing the difficulties means both parties in the relationship are serious about each other.” Jay looked directly at Jiyong and only spoke when he knew Jiyong was looking back at him. “As for Jiyong, I would say this. Just as you have hurt her without knowing it through the years, she has also come to the realization that she had hurt you without knowing that you were hurt. The problem with the two of you is that both of you are too prideful to admit that you are wrong or to show that you have been hurt by each other’s actions. If you want a relationship together, then you have to learn that pride isn’t going to be the driving force of any relationship. It’s love and trust. And sadly, for the past 6 years, these have not been present in your relationship with each other, especially trust. I know your instincts right now is to go to her immediately. But trust her to know when is the right time for you to be there. Don’t worry, she wants to see you for her birthday too. So keep doing what you are doing. At some point in time, she would give you the key to her heart. And start thinking 72


about what you would bring to your queen.” “Did she even give you a clue?” “Nope. Even if she did, I won’t tell you. It’s something between the two of you and somewhat I think you have to figure out on your own.” Jay turned to YG sajangnim. “As much as you love the cookies, sir, I think it’s only right to give them what Chaerin wants them to have.” “Alright.” YG went to the big box and took out the canisters that had been labelled for each of the Big Bang and 2NE1 members. After which he closed the box and sealed it up. Jay was surprised but he had come to the realization that YG can be rather childish in his own ways. “Minzy and Daesung, come over here and give the cookies out.” “Is that all Chaerin made for us? Jay got a personalized chocolate!” Everyone turned their attention to Jay and YG. “Hey, I’m just the delivery man. Everything else has been given to your boss and he’s at liberty to give or not.” “Boss...” “Come on, it’s 3 days to Valentines’. Let me have some fun keeping all of you in suspense. I took a look inside just now. Good stuff.” “SAJANGNIM!!!” “You will get everything in good time. Patience is a virtue.” “SAJANGNIM!!!” “For that, you will not get anything from this box tomorrow! Now, I need all

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of you to leave. I need to talk to Jay.” “But!” “Jiyong, I know you have a lot of questions to ask Jay. Don’t worry, I’d send him to you later or maybe tomorrow. I’m sure Jay would answer all your questions except those he’s not at liberty to reveal. I have my own questions to ask him too and I would have done that if you didn’t barge into the office just now.” “Jiyong, I’d come and look for you later. The song that Chaerin wrote, have a look at it with TOP. We’ll talk about it later.” Having been dismissed, the Big Bang and 2NE1 members had no choice but to leave the office. Everyone took a lingering look at the big box and this didn’t escape YG and Jay’s eyes. Jay shook his head in amusement and laughed while YG just have his Zeus look on him. He looked pleased with himself for making the mere mortals wait for their rewards. Once everyone cleared out of the office, YG put away his cookies. He was only hanging onto it to provide distraction during this first meeting of Jay and the rest of Big Bang and 2NE1. Having the meeting in his office was deliberate as well. No matter how angry Jiyong was, he wasn’t going to punch another person in front of his boss, in his office. “So, it seemed like you and Chaerin talked a lot over the course of the week. That isn’t going to go down well with Jiyong, seeing how you have broken her defence and gotten into her inner circle. First question I have for you, are you interested in her in more than a platonic way?” “Are you asking that as the boss of YGE or are you asking as the father figure of Jiyong and Chaerin?” “Is there a difference?” “In different roles, you have different concerns. But seeing how you interact with your artistes, especially Big Bang and 2NE1, it’s hard to see the line. To answer your question, like I told Jiyong just now, I was tempted to keep her for myself. Yet, having heard all the stories she had shared with me about

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her and Jiyong, I know it would be the stupidest thing I could ever do, to myself. Her heart belongs 101% to Jiyong.” “So is she ready to see Jiyong?” “I have to talk to Jiyong first. While I tried to help Chaerin see why Jiyong would do what he did for the various incidents that he had hurt her, I want to know what are Jiyong’s actual thoughts and feelings for those incidents. Chaerin is very young still and while she puts on a strong front, she suffered through a lot of pain. But she is willing and beginning to see a future with Jiyong so I guess she is almost ready. But just as Jiyong didn’t know what to say to my questions just now, I believe Chaerin doesn’t have the answers as well. The definition of who they are in each other’s life is something that is still very vague to them.” “You mentioned that Chaerin replied to all of Jiyong’s messages but Jiyong never received them. Why?” “I believe Chaerin gave you a box before she left? Inside that box, she had put a phone with Jiyong’s first phone number. That phone number and the one she’s using are special to the both of them so she has been sending those replies to that number.” “OH! Yes, I was wondering why there was a phone inside the box.” “Chaerin was right, you did open the box after all. You are really a curious man. But please don’t give the phone to Jiyong until he’s ready. Wait for Chaerin’s signal. I will be communicating with her too about Jiyong so she gets a better understanding of what is happening over here. I’m sure you want them to end up happily together.” “Of course! Out of all the couples right now, they are the one couple who I know for sure will make it to the end together. You were right about them being too prideful.” “I’m quite sure that when they were alone, they do let the pride down. But they used it to hide the hurt that they have received from each other too often that it became a defence mechanism.”

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“Do you think it would take long for them to resolve their emotions?” “I don’t think so. They will meet before Chaerin’s birthday for sure. They love each other too much and won’t be able to stay away too long from each other. Are you really allowing Jiyong to go and stay with her for the duration of her course?” “Do you think I can actually stop him?” “That’s true and I’m glad you are agreeing to it. She needs his support more than she is ready to admit. It gets lonely there although I can see how she would fit right in too. But how she’s going to get any work done with Jiyong hovering around her would be an issue both of them have to work out. Not to mention, not being seen together.” “She has always been the one who can adapt to any new environments fast. Jiyong did mention that if he needed to go public with the relationship, he would.” “That might not be the best idea. Chaerin never told you this but her apartment was broken in before by Jiyong’s die-hard fans.” “WHAT?!! I knew about the threatening messages that were sent to her phone because she had to explain why she was changing her numbers so regularly, but I never knew about this.” “It came out one day because I surprised her by taking her picture with the flash light on when she walked into the apartment. She freaked out right there and then. It left quite an impact on her.” “Ok, I would keep this in mind and I’d talk to her later. This girl really keeps too much to herself.” “She decided that since no harm was done, there wasn’t a need to report the incident. I told her I would tell you about it when I see you.” “What about Jiyong? Are you going to tell him about this?” “Nope, she has to be the one to tell him. But I did warn her that if she doesn’t, I would.” 76


“Alright then, I think that’s all I have for you right now. Thanks for delivering the cookies and the chocolates. I’m sure the members would be very delighted to receive them. I’m thinking of presenting the chocolates to them during their press conference, just to show that Chaerin had not forgotten her members.” “Well, if you want to keep the couples under wraps then I don’t think you should do that because the personalized chocolate would give the couples away.” “I see. Then I would just give the chocolates to them in private. Are you off to see Jiyong right now?” “Yup~ I don’t have the intention of hiding from him anyway. He would just come knocking at my door if I do that.” “No matter what, be careful around him. He hadn’t had the easiest week since this was probably the longest he has been separated from Chaerin without any form of communication with her. They would call each other up if they are overseas. So this is a brand-new experience for both of them.” “Don’t worry, I can see the ‘Fragile! Handle With Care’ tag on him.” “And thank you for looking after Chaerin for the past week. It looks like you have helped her a lot through the emotional turmoil that she was in.” “It was a pleasure to be able to spend that time with her. She has grown so much since the last time I saw her at JYPE. Thank you for that.” YG smiled, the fatherly smile he usually does not show to Big Bang and 2NE1 members. Jay had reminded him that Chaerin has indeed grown into her own skin and became a confident young lady who’s not afraid to show the world what’s what. “I’m very proud of her, and her members even if I don’t say it enough.” “You should express it more. After all, they do need the occasional encouragement.”

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“I would keep that in mind.” “Alright, I’d be off to look for Jiyong. He would be at his recording studio?” “Let me call and find out.” YG gave Jiyong a call and found out that they were all in Teddy’s studio. Instead of just passing on the message, he decided to bring Jay to the studio. Before they left YG’s office, Jay reminded that Teddy was one of the recipients of Chaerin’s cookies and chocolates. So in a bid to show the others what else was inside the box, YG brought both the chocolate and the cookies and went to Teddy’s studio. “Oh YG sajangnim, I have one last favor. If you are comfortable with telling my boss WHY I got this collaboration, it would help me alot. He was asking about it earlier when I met him just now. But since the collaboration is not official, as in we have not gotten started on it, I didn’t want to say why and how I got this collaboration.” “Don’t worry, I would talk to him about the details soon. Thanks for agreeing to this.” “It’s an honor to be able to work with you and your artistes. Jiyong and I have been talking about the possibility of a collaboration for the longest time.” “Do well. I’d make sure the collaboration gets as much publicity for you as well as for TOP and Jiyong.” “Thank you very much, sir, I will work hard.” YG smiled at Jay as they made their way to Teddy’s studio. Everyone who saw Jay in the building wondered what was up, their curiosity got even more peaked when they went into Teddy’s studio together. But knowing YG, nothing would be revealed until a suitable time.

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Chapter 58 11 February 2013 Teddy’s Studio, 4pm The Big Bang and 2NE1 members strolled into Teddy’s studio two-by-two, the couples entered first, with Jiyong and Seungri lingering at the back. Ever so often, you would see Seungri having to pull Jiyong back when he had his body turned to go back to YG’s office. “Hello everyone, are we having a class today? How come all of you are gathered here again in my studio?” Teddy was somewhat shocked to see the whole gang in his studio for there was no advance notice that they were going to visit. Teddy looked at everyone who had greeted him and then scattered around his studio, each with a canister in their hands. He grew even more puzzled when TOP took a cookie out of the canister and put it in his mouth, closed his eyes when he was chewing the cookie and made a sound that belonged more in the bedroom. “YA! CHOI SEUNGHYUN!! What the hell are you doing?! What are you eating?” TOP opened his eyes and looked at Teddy. He had the grin of a 5-year-old who just managed to get his mum to buy his favorite toy. “Hyung, I have waited a year to taste these again. Oh my soul, it’s now at peace! Chaerin ah~ Thank you!!” “Man, what are you talking about? What do you mea...” And then it struck Teddy. Cookies, a year ago, Chaerin... “Don’t tell me those are Chaerin’s macadamia nut cookies!! HOW?” No one was paying any attention to Teddy’s outburst, each one, except Jiyong, was busy savoring the cookies that they have all missed ever since getting them last year. “YA!!! How did you guys get these cookies? Jiyong?” 79


Jiyong had been looking at the canister with a blank look on his face. Although he knew that Jay was with Chaerin when he came to YGE building, he had not expected Jay to come back with gifts from Chaerin for all of them. He looked at his name that was on the tag of the canister and lifted his hand to touch it, as if hoping that he could feel her. “Can someone let me know what the hell is going on? All of you obviously were gathered together before you came to my studio and you were given cookies made by Chaerin who’s not in Korea. Fill in the blanks. NOW.” Finally, Seungri, who had just finished his cookie, spoke up. “Jay Park was with Chaerin the whole of last week. He came back yesterday and is here in the building right now, talking to Boss. He brought these back from Italy on behalf of Chaerin. Chaerin has prepared more than just cookies but Boss is not giving them to us all at the same time. Argh! I hope we get personalized chocolate from Chaerin too! Jay posted a picture of his on Twitter yesterday!!” “Then where’s mine? I’m sure Chaerin would not forget my share! After all, I’m her favorite oppa!!” “It’s being held hostage by YG. And he would probably keep it for himself if no one goes and claim it.” “Looks like a visit to his office is necessary then. So that’s where Chaerin is huh? Italy? What is she doing there of all places? I would have thought if she had gone to Europe, France would be her destination.” “I guess that’s part of the reason why she didn’t choose France since everyone would expect her to be there. But other than that, she was accepted at Istituto Marangoni and should be starting lessons there soon.” “Did you say Istituto Marangoni, Youngbae? Oh my, that’s like a big deal. But I knew she could make it. She’s very very talented.” Jiyong looked away from the tag and at Teddy when he heard what Teddy just said.

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“Teddy hyung, did you know about her application to Istituto Marangoni? Have you seen her sketches before?” “Yup! She would come here once in a while to work on her sketches. I saw one of the finished pieces that she sent off to Istituto Marangoni, good stuff really!! But she always has a good eye for fashion. Sometimes, I think she does a better job than the stylists here.” “So that makes you the only one here who has ever seen her sketches then. You are lucky, hyung.” The bitter tone that Jiyong used didn’t escape everyone’s ears and he had managed to remind everyone how they have not paid any close attention to Chaerin again. Everyone looked at their canister of cookies and the mood turned solemn. “Hey, what’s with the gloom and doom face? Are you guys happy that you finally got news about Chaerin? Although I must say, I never expect Jay to be in the picture at all. They didn’t communicate secretly to meet there right?” “Nope, Jay oppa said he met Chaerin unnie by chance. He was in Italy after his concert in France to visit his cousin. Oh yeah, Chaerin unnie is staying in his cousin’s apartment now.” “Minzy, don’t call him ‘oppa’.” “But Daesung oppa, he is an ‘oppa’ to me.” “No, I’m an ‘oppa’ to you, the Big Bang members are your oppas. He’s just Jae Bum-ssi to you.” “Oh come on, someone who is as close to Chaerin unnie as he is can be considered close to us too.” “Minzy...” “Hold on, what do you mean by Jay is close to Chaerin? What happened in the last week?”

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“He was staying in the same apartment with Chaerin. Out of 7 days in the week, he was ALONE with her for 4 days. They seemed to have talked a lot and Chaerin even told her about us becoming couples.” “Wow, he must have gotten really close to her then. She didn’t even tell me about you guys when I tried to ask her.” Jiyong’s uneasiness and insecurity came rearing their heads at him again. He really needed to talk to Jay and find out everything from him. TOP’s voice finally managed to distract him from his thoughts. “Ji, Jay mentioned something about a song that Chaerin wrote and he wanted us to take a look at it? Pass it over~” Jiyong looked at the piece of paper with the lyrics that he had momentarily forgotten and handed it over to TOP. Because the rest of them, other than Seungri, had not seen it, they crowded around TOP to take a look too. “Chaerin wrote this?” It was Teddy who asked and Jiyong simply nodded. The song reminded him that it was a creation that happened when Jay spent time with Chaerin. His fists clenched again and he felt the need to hit something. “It’s sad, very sad...” “It’s like she’s telling her own story...” “It’s very good though.” The comments from the others didn’t help Jiyong feel any better than he had before. He clenched his fists even tighter, and if he had not bitten his fingernails to stubs, they would have left some marks on his palm. Teddy read the lyrics and without a second word, starting tinkling on his keyboard. After experimenting with a couple of chords, he put them together. When the group heard the melody, they looked at the lyrics. Bom was the first one to start singing. Looking into your eyes, 82


I don’t know who I’m looking at no more... Who is this stranger sitting beside me Who is this stranger holding my heart I want to take my gaze away from you But you held me hypnotized Please look away from me So I can look away from you I want to walk away from you But you held me captive Holding on To the chains around my feet How can I ever leave you When my heart aches at the thought of leaving you? How can I ever forget you? When … “Stop. Please stop.” No one had noticed that once Bom started singing, Jiyong had started to sob. The words that Chaerin wrote reminded him that she had indeed walked away from him, finally. Seungri put his arms around Jiyong and comforted him. The rest was caught off-guard by the tears and just stood around, not knowing what to do. “Looks like it’s not a good idea to use this song then.” TOP said softly but everyone including Jiyong heard him. The studio was silent except the sound of Jiyong’s soft sobs. Then, Jiyong’s phone rang. Seungri saw the phone beside him, checked the caller ID to see that it was YG, answered it on Jiyong’s behalf. “Hello Boss! We are at Teddy hyung’s studio. Alright, we’ll be here.” Jiyong, hearing that it was their boss, wanted to snatch the phone from Seungri but the call ended before he could get the phone.

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“YA! Why did you answer my phone call?” “You want to answer your phone sobbing? It’s nothing. Boss just wanted to find out where you were so he could send Jay to you. He’s coming down now.” Dara handed some tissues over to Jiyong for him to wipe away his tears. Jiyong thanked her and quickly got to work wiping away all evidence of his moment of weakness. He cannot afford to show Jay his weak side. Everyone was expecting to see just Jay but when they saw YG walk through the door with Jay, everyone stood and greeted their boss. In his hands was a canister of the cookies and another container containing chocolates. “Sajangnim, is the chocolates from Chaerin as well?” YG didn’t bother answering Seungri’s query and just handed the canister and the container to Teddy. “Teddy, this is yours. You are lucky that Jay reminded me that Chaerin included your share, otherwise I would have kept it for myself!” “I knew it! I knew she won’t forget her favorite oppa!” “Annyeonghaseyo Teddy hyung-nim!” “Hi Jay! Skip the formalities! You are the one who brought back the cookies and chocolates, you are almost family already!” “So I guess Chaerin prepared these with making my life at YGE easier in mind too then. Looks like I have to thank her when I talk to her later.” The silence that followed Teddy and Jay’s statements was deafening. YG eyed Jiyong, making sure that he would not finally punch Jay in the face. Everyone looked uneasy while Jay was just smiling, not knowing that he had just caused the atmosphere to drop below freeze point. “Jay oppa, you know how to contact Chaerin unnie? Can you tell...” Daesung stopped Minzy’s attempt at trying to break the awkward silence 84


because she had made it worse by stating the obvious. To get themselves out of the awkward situation, Daesung spoke out. “YG sajangnim, if you will excuse me and Minzy, we have to go and pack our luggage since we are going to fly to Japan shortly after the press conference. Minzy was planning to visit her family in Gwangju and I might be tagging along.” YG knew perfectly well that Daesung was just trying to get him and Minzy out of the awkward situation. He knew he had to help the others as well. “You may go. Daesung ah, when you are in Japan with Minzy, you have to take care of her well, understand? Youngbae, I want to talk to you about your next solo album. Bom and Dara, I ran into Hwangssabu just now and he said he was looking for the both of you. You had better go see him before he sends out his army to look for you. Seungri, you follow me and Youngbae. I don’t trust you to stay out of trouble without your hyungs with you.” Everyone heaved a visible sigh of relief. Except TOP. “Teddy, can I leave these boys with you? Jiyong, TOP and Jay, in the coming days, whenever you are working on the collaboration, please make sure that you have Teddy with all of you. The 3 of you, don’t trash Teddy’s studio, if not, I can’t guarantee that you would live to leave this building. Come on all of you, let’s go and leave them to get busy.” YG’s message was clear: Do not get into a fight. Everyone who were not related to the collaboration left the studio. No sooner had the door close on them, Jiyong walked up to Jay and punched him in the face without a second word. “JIYONG! STOP!” Jay, caught by surprise by the sudden move from Jiyong, propelled backwards and only managed to stay standing when he steadied himself holding onto the wall. TOP and Teddy ran interception and pulled Jiyong away before he could deliver another punch.

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“I have been waiting for my boss to be out of sight to do that!!” Jay pushed himself away from the wall and wiped away the blood. He looked over at Jiyong and smirked. “Is that the best you have got? If I were you, I would have put in more muscles into that punch. After all, someone just spent an entire week with the girl I love the most and lied to me when I was desperately looking for the girl. Really, is this all you’ve got? Chaerin isn’t even going to notice the bruise when I do the video call with her later.” “JAY! Stop provoking Jiyong!” “YOU ASSHOLE!!!” Jiyong was about to break free and deliver another punch to Jay’s face but was stopped by Teddy and TOP. Jay walked forward and that caused Jiyong to launch forward again. “Kwon Jiyong, if you want a fight, I would grant you one. But remember, you have more to lose than me if you were to walk out of this building with a bruise on your face. I’m not hitting you only because I know how much Chaerin wants to protect you from any kind of scandals. If not, you would have been on the ground by now. Your fans are so protective over their GD oppa that they would be blind to any reasoning. Especially if they ever find out you fought because of Chaerin. She would be the one under fire, even if she was halfway across the world, not you. Can you bear to see that happen to her?” Jiyong took deep breaths to calm himself down. Jay was right. He had not forgotten the fact that she had received threatening messages from his diehard fans. “I know you hate my guts right now, but you can’t afford to shut me out. I told you just now that I’m not your enemy and I mean it. I do not have any intentions to take Chaerin away from you because her heart belongs to you 101%. I want someone whose heart will belong to me 101% too. She’s not talking to anyone right now other than YG and me. Who is going to tell her what is happening here, and what is happening with you? I know it grates

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your nerves that I’m the one she probably trusts the most right now. I want to be part of your engagement party, your wedding, the birth of your first child, so I’m not going away till the two of you are together again. But if this is your attitude right now, you are not going to make it in time to spend her birthday with her.” “Are you threatening me?” “Ya, Jiyong, can you just put aside your pride right now? Jay is right, he’s the only other person who actually has any kind of influence on Chaerin right now. You know Chaerin doesn’t allow anyone easily into her inner circle of trust. She didn’t even tell me about the couples yet she told Jay. So calm down, get yourself together. You have no other way to reach Chaerin except through Jay right now.” “Well, if he would give me her contact number, I can reach her.” “Do you think she would actually pick up your call? Come on, if Chaerin gets on a stubborn streak, she would just change to a different number. By then, no one would know how to contact her. What would you do then?” “I’d fly to Italy and go and look for her in the school. She can’t possibly avoid me when I’m physically there.” “Jiyong, what do you think would be the first question she would ask you if you were to appear in front of her right now?” Jay put forward the question after Teddy mentioned Chaerin’s stubborn streak. Teddy laughed softly to himself, knowing Jay had asked the right question. TOP answered for Jiyong instead because everyone knew what would happen. “She would ask if you have finished working on my album. No matter what you say, she’s going to check with YG and you would be busted. And if she found out that you flew to her without finishing what you are supposed to do, she’s going to drag you to the airport, buy you an air ticket and make sure you get on that flight.” “And her identity and whereabouts would be exposed, your fans will know

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where she is. I don’t think I need to tell you what would happen then right? I heard from YG that you are fully prepared to go public with your relationship if necessary. Do you think Chaerin would want to go public with your relationship knowing how much harm it can do to your reputation?” “I don’t car...” “Before you say you don’t care, I think you should listen to this.” Jay scrolled through his phone for the audio clip he was looking for and played it when he found it. “I’m happy for you. It was difficult watching a fellow artiste face the kind of controversy that you did.” “Is that why you ran from Jiyong, to protect him? “Yes.” “What makes you think that he wants your protection? What if he wants to be caught with you?” “Jay oppa, you don’t understand. I can’t subject him to such risks. He’s at the top of his game now. Any scandal would topple him. I can’t allow that to happen.” “Chaerin, have you ever thought of the possibility that he’s tired of being at the top especially if being at the top means he can’t stand beside you?” “Jay oppa, remember what I told you about him being the only star in my sky? If he falls, I will lose the right to look at him from afar. So he can’t fall.” “So even if you think you do not care about your reputation, she does. She would do anything to protect it. Because she knows how much your dreams mattered to you, because she knows how hard you work to be where you are today. She would feel horrible if she is the cause of the scandal. Look, I can understand how you feel. Right now, you don’t think any of this matters to you as long as you can be beside her. But please remember that she is a public figure too. She needs to protect more than just you. She has her members as well, and knowing her, she would sacrifice herself just to 88


protect those close to her.” After hearing the audio clip and Jay’s reasoning, Jiyong finally cooled down enough to think through what had been said since the rest left the room. He realized the truth of Teddy’s words, that Jay was the only other person that Chaerin trusts at the moment. He also know that TOP was right. Chaerin would kick his ass if she knew that he flew to Italy to look for her without finishing what he’s supposed to do. “Jay, I’m sorry.” Teddy and TOP opened their eyes wide in shock. Kwon Jiyong, G-Dragon, leader of Big Bang, saying sorry. This has got to be a first. “What are you sorry about?” “For punching you, for acting rashly, for not thinking about Chaerin’s safety.” “Remember, no matter what you choose to do from here on, Chaerin’s safety is the most important. I can handle your punches and I can understand why you are acting the way you are. But I will not tolerate any of your actions that would endanger Chaerin and what she’s about to embark on. If that happens, I’m going to make sure you can’t crawl out of this building. I hope I have made myself clear.” Jiyong nodded. He knew now that Jay was on his side, or more specifically, on their side. He just need to trust what Jay said. Chaerin’s heart is 101% his.

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Chapter 59 11 February 2013 Milan, 9.30am Chaerin woke up to a new day in Milan. Today was the first day where she’s actually alone in Milan. Other than the morning jogs, she hadn’t really explore Milan for all that it had to offer so she decided to be a tourist for the next couple of days, getting to know her home for the next 6 months. She checked her phones and saw that she had 2 messages on her Korean number. She could almost predict who sent the messages. She had switched off her phone yesterday after knowing that Jay was safely back in Korea. From: GD 10 February 2013 3.30pm CET

Chaerin baby~ We have just finished our last schedule as Big Bang on Sketchbook! It felt like a load off my shoulders! Now I just have to concentrate on finishing TOP hyung’s solo album! I’m going to be by your side soon! Would you let me know now where you are? Can’t wait to see you!! What do you want for your birthday? Another Rilakkumma bear? Or would I be enough? I love you. Chaerin thought about how Jay was already back in Korea and it’s only a matter of time before Jiyong found out where she is. There’s apprehension and anticipation towards their next meeting. She knew that he might fly to Italy the moment he found out but she would trust that he would be more responsible and finish up what he needed to do first. To: My Jingyo Oppa<3 11 February 2013 9.35am CET

Oppa! I can’t wait to see you too but you have to promise you would finish TOP oppa’s album first. If not, I would have to send you back to Seoul and I don’t think I can 90


actually send you away once I see you again. So, I hope I can trust you to do the right thing, for you, for me, for us. As for my birthday present, YOU would be enough. The only Rilakkumma bear I bring around is the one you gave me. I love you too. Chaerin smiled. The daily messages that Jiyong has been sending to her, telling her about his day made her happy. It reminded her of the early days when she had just gotten her phone number and how they would communicate with each other when they didn’t see each other that day, whether through messages or calls. In the later years, when they first started going overseas, a call or message to each other at the end of the day, was a daily routine, no matter the time difference. But that had dwindled and sometimes while it was at the back of her head that she should call or message him, pride gets in the way and knocked the reminder out of her head. She knew that both of them would not give in and be the first to send the message. She went on to check the other message from Jay. From: Jay Oppa :) 11 February 2013 5.15am CET

Hey sleepyhead! I’m on my way to your kingdom to present myself and the gifts! Wish me luck! Looking at the time and checking the time difference, she figured Jay would have already met YG and probably Jiyong and TOP. She doubted that they would start work immediately on the collaboration and decided that it won’t be a disturbance if she sent Jay a message. To: Jay Oppa :) 11 February 2013 9.30am CET

Jay oppa~ How did the meeting go? YG didn’t give you a hard time, did he? Did Jiyong oppa find out that you were with me? You didn’t get into a fight with Jiyong oppa right? 91


Don’t do that! His fans are always outside. If they spot any bruises on him, it would be ALL OVER the news before we can say ‘GD’. Talk to him nicely. He’s not unreasonable. Ok? Promise? After sending the message, she got ready for her first day alone in a whole new world. She laughed at the idea but she was in a marvellous mood. She picked her clothes carefully, then went for a shower since she had gone for her regular morning jog. Once she was dressed, she put on the sunglasses that Jay had bought for her and left the apartment. 11 February 2013 Seoul Teddy’s Studio, 5.15pm “So, are we going to work on the collaboration today?” Teddy asked, seeing now that the tension had been broken with Jiyong’s apology and hearing what Jay said, he knew that he’s not a threat to Jiyong and Chaerin’s relationship. Jay turned to the other 3 men. “Have you guys taken a look at Chaerin’s song?” “We did, Teddy hyung even put together a melody. But I don’t think it’s suitable for the album.” “I never intend to use the song in the album. I showed it to Jiyong because I wanted him to respond to the song, well, actually both Jiyong and TOP to respond to it. Because you have a girl telling a love story, I think it would be interesting to have the guys’ reaction to the song. Teddy hyung, I think we can keep the song for 2NE1’s next album or maybe for Bom’s solo. I heard she’s preparing her solo album now.” “Hmmm, I would ask the boss about it. It would be interesting to release this as a single for Bom before TOP’s solo album and have a song inside it that’s in response to her song. I think it’s brilliant and will add hype to both albums! Good thinking, Jay!” “YG would have to ask Chaerin for permission though. She didn’t know I was

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going to show it to all of you.” “Then why did she give it to you?” Jay grinned and looked at Jiyong. “That’s our secret. We can’t tell anyone yet.” “Jay, you have got to stop with all these provocative statements otherwise it’s inevitable that punches would be exchanged again.” Jay’s phone beeped then, signalling a new message. Jay checked his message and took a screenshot of it. He sent the screenshot to Jiyong. “I think that would serve as a reminder to both you and me. The queen has spoken.” Hearing that, Jiyong quickly checked his phone and upon seeing the screenshot, looked over at Jay and shook his head. “Man, you are not cutting me any slack! You actually make it such that I can’t see her number.” “My job is not to make it easy for you. My job is to make you ready for Chaerin. All I can do is pave the way, she’s the only one who can open the door.” “I don’t have a lot of time left.” “Which is why I suggest we stay focused on what we have to finish so that you are free to go and stay there as long as you can.” “Woah! Ji! You are going to go stay with Chaerin? How long is she going to be gone for?” Having absolutely no idea how long the course would be and when Chaerin was starting her course, Jiyong turned to Jay for an answer as well. “Her course ends in 6 months. She might continue if her results are good.”

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“When does her course start?” “Next Monday.” “So the earliest she would be back is August?” “Looks that way.” Jay considered his options, seeing that Jiyong wasn’t at his best, and neither was he with jet-lag kicking in. He finally decided that to start on the collaboration today would be a waste of time. “How about this? Let’s call it a day. Jiyong, you can look through the song and think it through with TOP and we see what you guys can come up with. Think of Chaerin’s song and respond to it. If you pay attention to the emotions, if you put yourself through those emotions, I think it would not be too difficult. I’m still a little jet-lagged so I’m not in my best condition as well. Let’s fix a time for tomorrow.” “Teddy hyung, what time are you available tomorrow?” “I would come in at 1pm. I’m sure the 3 of you can work amicably without getting into a fight, right? YG just wanted me to be around so that you guys won’t fight like little girls.” “How about we meet at 10am then? The earlier we start, the earlier we can work on something and throw ideas around, the earlier we can finish.” “Sounds good.” “Jay, can I talk to you after this? I really want to know how Chaerin is now.” “Alright, but you only have an hour. I have to meet my team to discuss choreography for my next album before jet-lag really catches up on me.” “That’s good enough. I take whatever I can now and since you will be around for the next couple of days at least, there will always be time for us to talk.” “You are right. Don’t worry, I would answer your questions as much as I can 94


but there will be bits where I can’t provide the answer either because I don’t know or it’s not my place to let you know. I hope you understand that.” Jiyong nodded his understanding. Right now, he would take anything that Jay could offer to him. Until the day Chaerin opened up the communication link with him again, he has no one else to turn to other than Jay. The studio was quiet for a while until TOP’s phone rang. Seeing the number on his caller ID, he smiled first then break out in a grin. “That must be Bom noona calling him.” Jiyong turned to Jay who made the comment. TOP turned and gave him a thumbs up, indicating that he had made the correct guess. He waved, then excused himself as he picked up the call. “How did you know?” “A man in love can be spotted a thousand miles away. His smile, his demeanor change when he saw who’s calling. His tense shoulders relaxed so it’s definitely someone he’s comfortable with. I saw that a couple of times on Chaerin when she got your messages when I was with her. Do you want to stay here and talk or would you prefer somewhere else?” “Let’s go to my studio. It’s more private and people are less likely to come barging in because they know that unless they are invited, no one should come and disturb me when I’m in work mode. Do you need food or drinks?” “Would it cause too much speculations if we were to be seen together?” “YG trainees and staff have to sign a confidentiality clause when they start training or work here. If any leakage of sensitive information is traced back to them, they would be immediately fired and face the danger of being sued. So, we do not have such problems so far. But we would have to be careful when we leave the building because like you said, fans are always around and you don’t know what rumors they would start.” “Then let’s go get some snacks and drinks. I think we would need them.” Jiyong and Jay bid their farewells to Teddy and made their way to the 95


cafeteria. People in the building were both surprised yet not that surprised to see them. After all, Jiyong had posted a photo of the two of them before on Instagram and Jay had talked about the possibility of a collaboration with Jiyong if time permits. Now that Big Bang had finished their last official schedule on Sketchbook, it would seem like the perfect time to fit in their collaboration. The two men wasted no time in getting what they wanted to eat and drink and then they made their way to Jiyong’s studio. Although Jay had heard about how the producers of YGE get their own studio, the fact that Jiyong’s studio was a fully equipped one did shock him a little. He whistled as he checked out the sound recording equipment. The last time he visited, he was at Teddy’s studio. “Some kicks you’ve got here. No wonder you said you wouldn’t want to switch to any other companies and YGE provides one of the best environment to make music.” Jiyong smiled with some measure of pride. He did earn this recording studio through his hard work. “So, where do you want to start?” Jay asked as he took a bite of the sandwich he got from the cafeteria. His eyes opened wide because he wasn’t expecting the sandwich to taste good. But it did, much better than a lot of the sandwiches sold outside even. “I really don’t know. It’s been what, 2 weeks since I last saw her.” “Then, let’s start with that. When was that and under what circumstance?” Although Jay already knew about their last meeting, he wanted to hear it from Jiyong’s point of view. “But don’t you already know about it?” “I do, but I want to know how YOU feel about it. Let’s start with how you felt when you didn’t see her at the concert.” Jiyong thought back to the last day of their world tour. He was excited 96


because he knew once the concert ended, it would signal that they would have a bit of free time. During the time away from Chaerin this whole year, it had not been easy. Although they still talk on the phone occasionally and bumped into each other at the company, he’s been wanting to really talk to her. “When I came backstage at the end of the concert, there was only 1 thing on my mind and that was to see Chaerin and give her a big hug. I missed her, so so much. The whole year had been great, meeting our fans, breaking new boundaries but there was always something missing. I would admit, the two of us had drifted very far from each other, especially if we were to compare to how close we were in the past. I thought I would be alright but when I saw her join Instagram and the picture she took with Youngbae drove me over the top. The only emotion I had was jealousy. I was jealous of my own best friend. I was shocked. At that time, I didn’t know that Youngbae was attached to Dara. Can you imagine? I didn’t know what was happening within my own group.” Jay waited patiently while Jiyong collected his thoughts then continued. “The moment we reached backstage, all the YGE artistes who could make it to the final concert started clapping. Everyone came forward to congratulate us one-by-one. The 3 2NE1 members who turned up went to their boyfriends first and congratulated them. When they finally came up to me, the first question I asked even before they could congratulate me was where was Chaerin. Dara told me that she was not feeling well and went back to her parents’. I knew that for her to want to go back to her parents when she’s ill, it meant that she was feeling really awful. The only thing on my mind, when I heard that was to call her and ask how she was and to go see her. But I had to maintain my smile and tried to pay attention to what everyone was coming up to say to me. I couldn’t wait till everyone left for the after-party before us.” “What happened then? How did you get out of the after-party?” “I tried calling her while we were removing our stage make-up and checking that we have returned all the sponsored accessories. But she didn’t answer my call. Then she probably switched off her phone. I thought she might have fainted or was really feeling very sick. I told Youngbae that I have to attend 97


to something and that I would join them later at the party. Now that I think about it, all of them gave me very disapproving looks. I bet they all thought that I was meeting Kiko who was present at the concert. I knew that she was but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.” “This is one of my questions really. So what’s your status with Kiko? I know you guys were together for a while then broke up. But over Christmas, the rumors started again, so what is it?” “Those wretched photos! I bumped into her at the resort. I didn’t even know that she was heading to Phuket of all places for her Christmas holiday. If I knew, I wouldn’t have gone there. When I got back, and I wanted to take a picture with Chaerin, she thought that I was using her to take attention away from the rumors. She only took the picture with me because Youngbae asked her to. The moment the picture was done, she moved away from me, faster than I could say her name. She went to Youngbae and asked him how to tag me in the photo. I was just there but she went to him. I almost pulled her out of the dance studio but we were having rehearsals for our gayo festival performance.” “It never occurred to you that she was only close to him because she knew that he’s taken?” “Come on, Jay, you are a guy too. If you see the girl you are close to choose someone else over you to ask a simple question when you could have been the one she asked, won’t you feel like crap too?” “That’s true, but why didn’t you say anything?” “Like you said, our pride got in the way. I thought if I showed how I felt, they would laugh at me.” “Stupid pride, you have to learn how to put that away. So back to the day of the concert.” “So after she switched off her phone, I knew I have to go see her at her parents’. It was impolite to turn up at her house unannounced so I called her parents’ house when I got to my car. That was when I found out that she was not at her parents. The only place I knew she would be was the girls’

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dorm.” “Why not her apartment?” “She has her own apartment?” “Oh, you didn’t know she got her own apartment?” “No. Really? She has her own apartment?” “Yes.” “Where is it?” “I don’t know. The apartment came up once when we were talking.” “What were you talking about that would involve finding out that she has her own place?” The revelation that Chaerin has her own apartment and he didn’t know anything about it was making him uneasy and he could feel his jealousy at the closeness they shared in the last week telling him to hurt Jay again. “Just talking about where she stays when 2NE1 is not promoting.” “Why do you want to know that” “Because I was curious?” “Is that all?” “Why else would I need to know if she owns her own place?” While Jiyong still had his suspicions but he knew that Chaerin would not bring anyone to her own private space. At least not people she’s not close to. Kwon Jiyong, Jay is closer to her than you are now. He knows that she has her own place. You?

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Jiyong shut the voice out and looked over at Jay. “So as I was saying, I went over the girls’ dorm but no one was home. You cannot begin to imagine the panic I felt. I tried calling Chaerin again but her phone was still switched off. When she finally showed up 30 minutes later, looking a little pale but all dressed up, panic was replaced by anger. I thought she went out on a date, that she lied to her members to get out of going to our concert and went out on a date. I tried not to be hurt by her actions because it wasn’t the first time she had lied to me.” “I know. Which is why you are always prepared for the eventuality that she was lying to you. That prevented you from being honest with her. You didn’t want to show her that she had power to hurt you, badly. That day, she was trying her best to keep you at bay as well because she knew that she was leaving. She might never admit it but seeing you at the door probably made her waver just a little about her decision to leave. Then she put her own pride on. The two of you are quite the pair.” “So you also knew about the kiss and that we spent the night together?” “Yes, I do. Did you know that she thought that kiss would be her first kiss and her last with you?” “Jay, do you know what it’s like to be finally given something that you have craved for for so long? When my last girlfriend finally made me see that Chaerin was always on my mind, some parts in me knew that I have to finally make her mine. The kiss was something I found myself wishing had happened when we first knew each other and became close. When I finally kissed her that night, that feeling that I have been missing something the entire year, my entire life, disappeared. It’s like I’m finally home. When she pulled back and asked me to leave, I couldn’t understand at all. I just couldn’t imagine that she didn’t feel the same way.” “She did, which was why she had to make you leave. Jiyong, just as you have been waiting all these years to kiss her and hold her in your arms as more than just an oppa, more than just a senior looking after his junior, it had been her wish too. All those times when she went on all those dates and yet never really settled into a relationship was for the same reason why you went through so many relationships. Both of you were trying to find

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someone, anyone who would make you feel the way when you were with each other.” “But I never succeeded. That night was the first time I held her in my arms and I knew that I never ever want to let her go. But when she announced rather nonchalantly, without much emotions, like she had forgotten that she laid in my arms the whole night, that she was leaving, the hurt was devastating. It was paralysing. But instead of hearing her explanation, instead of asking her to stay...” Leave then. I do not need you. I’d be fine without you. The words that he told Chaerin came back to haunt him and caused the tears to flow from his eyes again. Jay, upon seeing his tears, kept quiet and let him sit through his grief and regret. One last time.

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Chapter 60 11 February 2013 Seoul, 6.45pm After Jiyong calmed down and all his tears were shed, Jay passed him the vitamin water that they had bought from the cafeteria just now. “Here, have some. I know this makes you feel better since it’s your favorite drink.” Jiyong took the drink from him and took a sip from it. “Chaerin will always have a bottle of this in her bag even though she’s not a big fan of this drink.” “Do you know why?” “It’s for me. Because she knew this drink calms me down and puts me in a better mood.” Jay patted Jiyong’s back then and then smiled at him when Jiyong looked at him. “Gestures of love do not need to be grand. Sometimes such gestures of care mean so much more because we know the other party had paid attention and know when and how to make us feel better.” Jay knew the next question was going to be painful but he needed to know because Chaerin didn’t know either. “Jiyong, where did you go after you slammed the door and walked out?” Jiyong blinked because he was not expecting Jay to ask him this question. As if remembering the day’s event again, Jiyong stared blankly at the bottle of vitamin drink. “The moment the door closed behind me, I lost whatever strength I had in my legs and I sat outside the door, sobbing.” “So your pride only took you that far?” 102


“Are you mocking me?” “I’m trying to make you see. Your pride prevented you from seeing how much Chaerin was hurting. Did you think it was an easy decision for her to make? She’s leaving everything behind, she’s leaving her love behind, she’s leaving you behind, just to protect everyone’s dreams and relationships. She could be more selfish and choose to stay but she didn’t. Like YG said, while it might not have changed her mind, it would have soothed her heart a little to know that she didn’t hurt the person who mattered the most, that he understood why she had to leave. I know it would not be easy for you to understand why she had to do that, especially just when you thought you just got her in your arms, right where you wanted her. But at least she would have kept in contact with you and wouldn’t have felt so alone in Italy.” Jiyong had never thought of the scenario that Jay just brought up. He knew she was in pain but at that moment in time, he was hurting just as much. On top of the hurt, he felt rejected. “Your boss offered to pay for my accommodation if I choose to move out of the apartment. Do you know what convinced him to let me stay with Chaerin despite the danger of scandals?” Jiyong shook his head because it was something that he couldn’t understand as well. YG not only allowed Jay to stay with Chaerin, but it felt like he wanted to deepen the relationship YGE has with Jay. “I told him that the only reason I choose to walk into the cafe when I saw Chaerin was because she looked so alone and sad. I didn’t know that she had stepped down as 2NE1’s leader and left everything behind. The first 2 to 3 days that I spent with her, she couldn’t even bear to say your name. It was like if she did, she would finally break down. She held herself together by sheer will and pride.” “Did she cry a lot when she’s with you?” “She got a good hold on herself but when we did talk about the two of you, she did cry. She cried the worst when you sent her that message from the

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cafe that you used to go to together. She never thought she would be the one in your heart. In fact she was denying it until she got that message. Great timing there, bro. I wouldn’t have been able to convince her. After that, she was more open to talking about the two of you.” “Did she tell you why she left? Other than to go to school and to let the couples have some time together.” “The first time we ever talked about you was when I asked her what made her finally walk away from you. Because I was curious. I never thought you would let her go like that.” Jiyong lifted his eyes to look at Jay and as per his habit, started biting his lower lip whenever he’s nervous. Jay smiled reassuringly at him. “She got tired. She got tired of being there, beside you and not feeling wanted. She got tired of being pushed away by you without words. She got tired of being in a push-pull emotional tug-of-war. She got tired of seeing you in relationships yet would seek her out for emotional comfort. She got tired of your indecisiveness. Weren’t you tired too?” Jiyong looked at Jay, puzzled. He wasn’t sure exactly what Jay was asking. “Was I tired? Do you mean if I were ever tired of Chaerin?” “No, I didn’t mean that. I was asking if you were not tired too, from all the pushing when all you want to do is pull her to you? Wasn’t it tiring when your head and your heart told you to do different things and you have to debate with yourself all the time? Was that why you would rather stay away from her? Was that why you would rather not have her around?” Hearing all the questions that Jay just posted to him, Jiyong asked himself the questions too. If it was so tiring to be pushing Chaerin away all this while, why didn’t he just keep her by his side? Why did he choose to run from her? “I don’t know man, thinking back now, it felt really stupid. Whenever I’m with a new girlfriend, I feel more insecure. I feel like I have to run back to Chaerin yet I can’t be too near because it would be like cheating on the

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girlfriend. But it always happens. I would always seek her out more when I’m in a relationship. It was almost as if I was afraid that she would leave and find herself a guy too.” “When do you stop loving the girl in each relationship?” That was another difficult question to Jiyong because to answer that question, he would have to ask if he had ever loved the girl in each relationship first. “You know, Seungri told me before that every time I announced a new girlfriend, he would give me a 6-month limit. Only a few passed that 6month mark.” “Interesting, but that doesn’t answer my question though.” Jiyong couldn’t come up with an answer. He thought for a while, to everything that had happened in the past week since Chaerin left. Then he finally realized something. “I think it’s when I walk out of that cafe that I used to go to with Chaerin with them and find myself frowning because I didn’t find what I was looking for.” “What were you looking for?” “Chaerin, or more specifically, the warmth, the comfort, the rightness of being there with her. Never found it with any of the girls. Like the lady boss said, I never brought them back because I never found what I want with any of them.” “What was the most memorable memory you have of the cafe? Before going there last week. I want you to think of the cafe and tell me the first thing that came to your mind.” Without a pause, Jiyong answered. “The time when I saw Chaerin with another guy sitting at our favorite seat. That was the last time that I was in that cafe together with Chaerin.”

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“Why was that the most memorable memory?” “That was the most painful memory too. I came back from Japan one day early so I could surprise her but she surprised me instead. When I saw her sitting there with the guy and when the guy almost touched her lips, her lips! I couldn’t stay still anymore and hit his hand away from her. When I pulled her out of the seat so we could leave the cafe, she pulled her hand away from me. What was more unbelievable was she went back to the guy and apologized to him. Can you imagine? So it was perfectly alright to embarrass me in front of him? It was ok for them to sit in OUR seat? Oh, just thinking of it makes me angry all over again!” “So you went missing the next day and from then on, refused to go out with Chaerin alone?” “She told you about this too?” “I wanted to know why the two of you never went back to the cafe which held so many memories for you. So where did you go the next day?” “I went to the cafe. I didn’t sit at our seat because I didn’t want to be spotted. When it got crowded, the lady boss let me hide in the kitchen. My phone kept ringing and I know everyone was looking for me. But I really wasn’t up to seeing anyone. I would never have admitted to anyone, not even Youngbae that I was really hurt by what Chaerin did.” “Instead you choose to punish her by making her feel that she had lost her Jingyo oppa?” That silenced Jiyong because he had never really thought about it that way. All he knew was he couldn’t let her have such control over him. Seeing her with the guy, he thought that Chaerin didn’t care about him at all. “Seeing her with the guy made me wonder how important I am to her. Or if she missed me as much as I missed her. Even when she tried to explain to me after that incident that that was their first date, it made me wonder how many other dates she had gone on without me knowing.” “She dated but nothing serious. I believe the only relationship she has ever

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been in was the one when you caught her outside the company. Jiyong thought about this new revelation. While she had dated, he had also been in numerous relationships. The only difference was he never hide his relationships. “I don’t understand why she can’t tell me about her dates or that one relationship that she had. I always announced my relationships to everyone, well, at least the Big Bang members and Chaerin.” “What would you have done if she had mentioned she was going on a date? From what she told me, the one time she brought a guy to a YGE function, you behaved like, I quote, a bear woken from his winter hibernation. And it’s someone you know. My instincts tells me that you would put her through an interrogation, and then insists on following them just so the guy wouldn’t dare touch her.” Jiyong smiled sheepishly and Jay knew he was right. Any guy would react in that manner when their girl were to tell them she was going out on a date with another guy. “Jealousy is fine and sometimes it makes a relationship more fun. But yours veers towards ‘violent reaction’ so you definitely need to watch yourself. Or at least be honest about it so the other party would know not to do certain things that would be damaging to the relationship. Word of caution though, I didn’t understand how Chaerin could stay single through the years. If any guy gets a bit more time with her, he would see her for who she really is and he would fight to stay with her. You were lucky because her eyes were always on you. If ever you get into a jealous fit, especially after you guys are together, just remember that she would never take her eyes off you.” “Thanks man, I really needed that reminder. Now, I need to get back on path with her.” “Jiyong, I’m going to leave you with this for today. The moment Jingyo disappeared, Hunchae did too. Both of you caused this unique relationship to disappear. Chaerin had realized that she had hurt you too many times as well. I’m sure in the course of the last week, there were things that had happened, people who had told you that you have hurt her too. Both of you

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were blinded by pride and hurt. Take them off, stop letting this blind you to the love that the two of you have for each other. Once you can do that, everything would work itself out.” “How much did she share with you over the course of a week?” “We talked, a lot. There was only 2 of us, in an apartment alone. Even though we were baking cookies and making chocolates, there was still time to talk to each other.” “I’m telling you this now, I’m super jealous of you! I don’t even get a day to spend with her this way and yet you got a week. You are too lucky! ARGH!!” “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. So many times, I wanted to just hug her and not let her go because even when she tried to smile, when she tried to make light of things, the sadness in her eyes and her voice, makes me just want to take it all away. If you ever make her cry again, I’d punch you and trust me, it won’t be like that pussy punch you pulled on me.” “You would have to take a number or join the army that Seungri is putting together.” “Seungri huh? Interesting.” “What do you mean?” “For someone to keep all of Chaerin’s past numbers, it’s actually both freaky and amazingly touching at the same time. It’s like he was afraid to ever lose contact with her.” Jiyong looked at Jay strangely while the latter just laughed and started to clear his food wrappers. “You know!” “What do I know?” “That Seungri is in love with Chaerin!! But how?”

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“I asked her before other than you, who was she close to in Big Bang. I fully expected her to say Youngbae because I have seen those Instagram photos too. When she said Seungri, I was actually quite shocked. So when she told me that he had kept all of her numbers which resulted in you actually finding out which numbers she’s using, I kind of guessed. No one would actually do that unless they are interested, very interested. How many numbers are you down to?” “3. Won’t you tell me which one is the correct one?” “Even if I tell you, something tells me she won’t pick up your call. I feel there is a missing link which you need to find to unlock the last barrier. Once you get past that, you will get a whole lot more, more than you ever thought possible!” “But just so we are clear, she doesn’t like Seungri in that way right?” “Nope~ To her, he’s just someone who’s comfortable to be around.” “You really have no idea what I have to do to break this last barrier?” “Like I said, you lost Hunchae when you took Jingyo away from her life. Once you found Hunchae back in your life, you would probably make her find Jingyo too. This is purely my guess, she really didn’t give me any clue how to help you. But I can tell you if you were to turn up at her door now, she would close her door on you. And yes, she’s also convinced that you would sleep in a separate room or in a different apartment altogether. So this is something you need to think about how to convince her otherwise, because I know you are not going to let that happen.” Jiyong grinned, his first somewhat light-hearted smile since the day began. Because what Jay said was true. He’s not going to be sleeping in a separate room from Chaerin. Even if she makes him sleep on the floor, he would still want to be in the same room as her. He wasn’t going to let her out of his sight. “Just remember that while Chaerin and I might not be as readily recognized in Italy, you are a totally different story. So when you finally get the goahead to go to her, you had better make sure that your fans do not know

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where you are going. You might have to fly to some unknown country before transferring to a flight to Italy.” “Or I can borrow YG’s private jet.” “Or you can do that.” The two men laughed. Although there were still questions that Jiyong has for Jay, he knew that he would get them in the next couple of days as they worked together. Now, he had to focus on getting everything he needs to finish done, then he can move on to what’s really important. Lee Chaerin.

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Chapter 61 11 February 2013 Milan, 12pm Sitting down at the outdoors section of a bistro, Chaerin took a sip of her espresso and checked her phone. Having received no reply from Jay about his visit to YGE, Chaerin decided to turn to her other source of information: Seungri. To: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 12.03pm CET

Ya! Did the meeting of the messenger with Zeus and the Almighty go well? She also sent another message to Jay, hoping to get an update. To: Jay Oppa :) 11 February 2013 12.04pm CET

Oppa, how did the meeting go? You are not hurt or in hospital right? Reply so I know you are alright. At the time when Seungri received the message from Chaerin, the Big Bang and 2NE1 members had gathered at Jiyong’s studio after they saw Jay leaving. They were worried that things might get ugly especially since TOP told them that Jiyong punched Jay in the face. But their worry disappeared when they saw that Jiyong was looking at the lyrics that Chaerin wrote and scribbling in his lyrics notebook. Seeing that the one-to-one talk with Jay didn’t make Jiyong sad or despondent, Seungri stayed at the back of the group while the others went to ask Jiyong if everything was alright. From: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 12.06pm CET

Your messenger sent an audio challenge to the Almighty. The Almighty was furious but couldn’t do anything since Zeus was holding court. Zeus is also holding the other gifts you have for us hostage!! He only gave us the cookies. You better have personalized chocolate for us!!

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The Almighty managed to hold his anger till Zeus left with the whole lot of us in toll. The elder warrior and the Prime Minister had to hold the Almighty back when he punched your messenger. But not much harm was done. After that, the Almighty and the messenger had a one-to-one talk. Everything seemed to have ended amicably. Don’t worry. We will handle the situation here. Chaerin was about to type a reply when her Korean phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Jay. She quickly answered the call. “Jay oppa! You should answer my message! I was worried!” “Were you worried about me or were you more worried about your Jiyong oppa? Don’t worry. Everything went well. Your gifts are in the hands of your boss but he’s holding them hostage at the moment.” “I know. Seungri just told me. I had to message him and ask him since you were not responding to me.” Looks like Seungri has me to thank then. Jay thought quietly to himself and grinned to himself. “So how’s everyone?” “They are all good. They are very happy with getting your gifts.” Silence followed. Jay knew what or who she was really asking about but he wanted her to ask the question. “What is this I hear about an audio challenge that you sent to Jiyong oppa?” “It wasn’t a challenge! I merely did some editing and put your voice into ‘Missing You’, send it to him and asked him to guess who I was with the last week.” “And he didn’t punch you when he saw you?”

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Chaerin sounded a little disappointed because she had thought Jiyong would have reacted more violently to her being with Jay. Whether they were alone or not shouldn’t matter. “You sound disappointed. Did you want me to get hurt by him so badly that I need to go to the hospital? I’m hurt, Lee Chaerin!!” “No! I don’t mean that. I just thought that he would have reacted a little more strongly.” “Well, he didn’t punch me only because the initial meeting was with your boss and in his office. But the moment your boss left, he walked up to me and punched me.” “OMO! Did it hurt? Aish~ Jiyong oppa can be really impulsive. And you shouldn’t have provoked him.” “Whether I sent him that audio clip or not, it won’t have made a difference. He’s still going to punch me when he knew that I lied to him and I got to spend quality time with you. And admit it, you were trying to hide your smile now that you know he did punch me.” “No~” “Tch, deny it all you want, you must be feeling happy right now. My poor jaw! Luckily your Jiyong oppa punches like a girl, otherwise I would have to put on make-up before leaving the building.” “Be careful when you step out of the building. The die-hards are always around. Be very careful.” “Chaerin, I can take care of myself. You, on the other hand, should take care of yourself now that you are all alone in Italy. What did you get up to today?” “I became a tourist! I’m actually outside now having lunch. It feels SO good to be out of the house, out and about and not have to worry about fans.” “I’m sorry if I bored you the last few days.”

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“Oh, don’t be so sensitive. Where are you off to now?” “Dance choreography meeting. Great news today, I might become a regular cast on SNL.” “That’s GREAT!! I watched that episode that you were in. You were really funny in the show!” “Alright, I’d talk to you again soon. If you ever feel lonely, just message or call me. Or you can call your Jiyong oppa. Seriously, when are you going to resume contact with him?” “When the right time comes. You do know that the moment I resume contact with him, he would leave Korea right? I can’t do that until he’s done with all that he needs to do. TOP oppa still needs him.” “And you don’t?” “School will keep me busy. It would be nice to have him around but I don’t want to have to keep worrying about when he needs to go back to Korea.” “We should be able to finish the album soon. From what I’ve heard, they have done most of the songs and just waiting for me to come back for the collaboration.” “How’s that coming along?” “First, I have a confession to make. I showed them one of the songs you wrote. I wanted them to respond to the song. Teddy hyung already composed a raw melody for it and we are thinking of using it as a single for Bom noona. To create hype, there will be a song in TOP’s album that would respond to the song. So, if your boss contact you about it, at least you won’t be caught off-guard.” “Sounds like a good plan. It gives Bom unnie some exposure as well. Alright, I’m going to trust that you guys will not be throwing punches at each other anymore. I need to get some more sightseeing done before everything closes at 5pm. This is something I would never get used to. We have 24/7 convenience stores everywhere in Korea!”

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“Have fun! Remember to stock up on food too. We pretty much cleared the fridge of all the food. I miss your breakfasts!!” “I can do the grocery shopping tomorrow. After all, it’s just me now. Put some ointment on your bruise. Take care! Bye!” Jay ended the call after saying a quick goodbye. I really need to find a girlfriend soon. I missed talking to someone about my day like that. Chaerin was relieved to hear that everything didn’t go too badly. Except for the punch that Jay got from Jiyong. Before she left the bistro, she sent a reply to Seungri. To: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 12.40pm CET

I just talked to the messenger. Seems like everything is alright. Personalized chocolates? I don’t know what you are talking about :p From: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 12.45pm CET

What do you mean you just talked to the messenger? You mean you spoke to him over the phone? Would you pick up my call if I call you? I don’t care!!! The messenger got personalized chocolate, I WANT IT TOO!! To: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 12.50pm CET

Call me and risk the Almighty finding out that you have been in contact with me? You want to take the risk even knowing that he might skin you alive? Well, if you keep on bothering me, I’d ask Zeus to give YOUR chocolates to other people. Bye. Chaerin switched off the phone with the Italian number since Seungri was the only one who has that number. Knowing him, he would try calling her. Picking up is not really an issue, but the risk of being found out by Jiyong

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was something she didn’t want Seungri to risk. She didn’t want him to suffer in the Almighty’s hands. She got up and left for the next tourist spot on her list. 11 February 2013 Seoul, 8.45pm Jiyong’s Studio Back in Seoul, Seungri was really upset to learn that Chaerin actually talked to Jay on the phone. He really wanted to call her just to hear her voice if nothing else. But she was right, the risk was high and Jiyong might go bonkers on him. “ARGH!! Why is it so complicated?!” Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at Seungri strangely. “What’s wrong with you, maknae? You have been staring at your phone nonstop since we stepped into the studio. Are you messaging your secret girlfriend? What has become complicated?” Seungri looked at all his hyungs and the 2NE1 members and then smiled weakly. “No, I was just playing this game which is really complicated. I almost hit the high score!” “Take it easy, it’s just a game. Not like you are going to win a whole year of bamboo shoot supply.” Everyone laughed at Minzy’s comment. Daesung pinched her cheeks for saying something so cute. “Gong Minji! Ji hyung, are you not going to say something in my defence? I’m your maknae!!!!” Well, Minzy is Chaerin’s maknae and honestly right now, Ji probably puts Chaerin on the HIGHEST priority. So you still lose.” Hearing TOP’s explanation, everyone except Seungri laughed again. 116


“Seungri ah, TOP hyung is right. Minzy is Chaerin’s maknae and your Dae hyung’s girlfriend. You might have to call her ‘hyung su nim’ in the future if they get married. So I suggest you get used to it.” “All of you are bullying me, the single man! You are discriminating against me! I... I... I... I will tell Chaerin about it!!” “How is that going to help your case especially when Chaerin is going to take Minzy’s side?” “I... I... I... Argh!!! NOT FAIR!!!!!” “Maybe you can date Gummi noona. Then by seniority, we would have to show you some respect.” Everyone turned to Bom who just made the suggestion, paused for a second and then start laughing. “He might be banned from Teddy hyung’s studio you know?” The moment the statement was out of Jiyong’s mouth, he realized that it wasn’t something everyone knew and he had been sworn to secrecy by both parties. “Jiyong-kun, do you know something we don’t know?” “No. What I mean is that Teddy hyung is rather protective over Gummi noona and he definitely won’t let a playboy like Seungri go near her.” “You’d never know. Maybe I would change for the better, just like you and TOP hyung.” Both TOP and Jiyong threw cushions around them at Seungri at the same time. “Hyungs!! I’m really sad! Is this how you treat me, your lovable maknae, just because now you have a girl? I expected better of the two of you!!” “Well, theoretically, Jiyong-kun doesn’t have a girl yet.”

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“Dara noona, it’s a matter of time. And Seungri, if you know when to keep your mouth shut, you will always be our lovable maknae. But sometimes it’s really difficult to remember that.” Knowing he’s outnumbered, Seungri sat in a corner and sulked. After writing a few more words in his lyrics notebook, he closed it and looked satisfied with himself. “Did you just finish writing a song for the collaboration?” Jiyong smiled widely, showing off his perfect teeth and nodded. “Yup~ We’ll look at it tomorrow! It’s getting late, let’s head home. We have to send the girls back.” The 3 couples looked at each other and were sending secret signals. The silence got a little longer and finally Seungri had to be the one to break it, as usual. “What’s going on? The 6 of you have been making goo-goo eyes at each other. Say what you want to say.” In the end it was Youngbae who spoke on their behalf. “Ji, is it ok if we stay over at the girls’ dorm tonight?” Jiyong’s first instincts was to say no. But when he looked at all the hopeful eyes, he couldn’t bear to refuse them outright. “Bae, I would love to say yes but the answer is no. Until the press conference is cleared or even after that, we cannot afford to let our guards down. Already as it is, there are speculations as to why we are constantly being seen with the girls this past week. If there are fans or paparazzi who decide to get to the bottom of things, we would be busted and it won’t do anyone any good. Even if we can survive the scandal, it might not be as easy for the girls, especially if you are talking about spending the night together.” Everyone was disappointed but they knew Jiyong was right. Knowing that 118


they were going to be separated soon, the couples held on to each other tighter than just a minute before. “However, we could all make a trip to my parents’ pension after the press conference and spend the weekend there. I would ask my parents to block out the pension for us. We would invite the other YGE artistes who can make it so it would look more like a company outing. I would ask YG when I see him tomorrow. We might need to stagger our arrival but that shouldn’t be a problem since we are not active at the moment.” The 3 couples, upon hearing the plan, all had a huge grin on their faces. Youngbae broke away from Dara for a moment and gave Jiyong a hug. “Ji, you are the best!!” TOP was approaching Jiyong with both his hands held and knowing this stance, everyone knew he was going to try to kiss Jiyong. “TOP hyung, I swear if you kiss me, I would cancel the whole trip.” Bom, upon hearing the threat, pulled TOP back to her and told him to keep still. “Seungri, no strangers allowed. Other than YGE staff and artistes, no one is allowed. Have I made myself clear?” “Ji hyung, you are no fun!!” “YGE staff and artistes are under confidentiality clause, so they can’t release any sensitive information. We cannot guarantee that outsiders would keep the relationships under wraps. Having said that, I would still have to caution everyone to keep your relationship under wraps.” “YES, SIR!!” The couples shouted, Seungri was still sore from being treated badly by his hyungs. Jiyong packed his stuff and the rest started clearing up the remnants of dinner they had brought with them. Once the studio was cleared to Jiyong’s satisfaction, all of them exited the building. Jiyong had called their manager down so that he could drive both groups back. He 119


stayed at the back with the couples while Seungri sat in the passenger seat. Outside the building, fans had caught sight of 2NE1 exiting the building first and getting into the nanny van, followed by Big Bang members. The ones with cars got in and were ready to follow the nanny van. The fans had noticed that the 2 groups have been moving around together far too often and, like Jiyong said in the studio just now, wanted to get to the bottom of things. “Ji hyung, you are right. The fans are starting to get suspicious. We have at least 5 cars following us.” “Sorry guys, I need all of you to change your seating arrangement. Girls, please move forward and the guys move back.” The couples exchanged worried glances but quickly moved according to Jiyong’s instructions. “Don’t worry. Just behave normally and we will be fine.” Jiyong tried to reassure them that it would be alright but a feeling of uneasiness started coursing through him as they neared the girls’ dorm and saw more cars already waiting outside the girls’ dorm. Thankfully, YGE owned part of the building with another entertainment company. Thus reducing the danger of any fans buying or renting a unit in it. “Jun Min hyung, something doesn’t feel right. Maybe you should call Hyun Im hyung to come down here. There are way too many fans around here.” “I’m onto it. I’d go help the building security team disperse the crowd too. All of you stay in the van. Don’t come out no matter what.” The moment their manager got out of the van, the fans started crowding around him and shouted questions at him. While they couldn’t make out exactly what the shouts were about, they did catch words like ‘are they in a relationship’, ‘we won’t allow our oppas to be together with them’, ‘our oppas deserve better than those 2NE1 bitches’. “Looks like these are mostly our fans, hyungs. Noonas, and Minzy, don’t listen to them. If hyungs think that you girls are worth it, you are worth it. 120


We don’t need such crazy fans. We don’t belong to them.” The girls exchanged worried looks and looked like they have something to say. Jiyong caught the looks and at the back of his head, he remembered that Chaerin was threatened before. It can’t be... “Bom noona, Dara noona, Minzy, is this the first time this has happened? Tell me honestly.” At Jiyong’s question, all the guys came forward so they could hear the answers from the girls. The girls continued exchanging uncomfortable looks and wondered if they should tell the truth. “Minzy?” After one last look at her unnies and at Daesung, Minzy shook her head. “It’s not the first time. But previously, the target was mostly Chaerin unnie. We didn’t know what exactly happened but one day, Chaerin unnie walked in with wet hair. When we asked, she said she just went swimming.” “Chaerin can’t swim.” “Exactly. While we thought it strange, we didn’t pester her for an explanation. But when she stopped us from going out when we said we wanted to go get lunch, we knew something was wrong. That was when she told us that there was some anti-fans downstairs. When Bommie unnie checked from our balcony, we realized that it was mostly Jiyong oppa’s fans.” “So what exactly happened to her?” “Apparently when she got off the cab, someone poured a pail of cold water on her. The ice blocks in the water actually caused some bruising which we only discovered later at a photoshoot. She tried to walk away from the offensive crowd as quickly as she could but they kept pulling her back because they wanted to know if she was going out with you.” “But why would they even suspect that? While Jiyong was close to Chaerin in the past, they have not been seen together in a long time other than at YG 121


Family shoots and events.” “Ironically, it was the handphone accessory, you know the one with the strawberry and whipped cream design? Because no matter how many relationship scandals that Jiyong were involved in, the handphone accessory never went away. In the past, Chaerin would occasionally wear the ring when we are not on schedules. But having read comments about the connection and none of them nice, she stopped wearing it.” “Actually, recently there was another topic in the fan forums, wondering if the two of you have broken up because they realized that Jiyong oppa is finally not using the handphone accessory anymore. The fact that Chaerin unnie is not in Korea further sparked the discussion and the fans are now MORE sure than ever that the two of you were dating before.” “Chaerin actually moved out of the dorm after that incident because she didn’t want us to get into any kind of tussle with the fans. She was especially afraid for Minzy because she has to go to school. But after our concert in USA, she moved back.” “Erm... Actually...” “Minzy, do you know something?” “I don’t know what exactly happened but I overheard her on the phone getting new locks and ordering a paint job for her apartment the day after she moved back.” “That sounds like someone broke into the apartment and did some shit on the walls which need covering up.” “That would be a shame. She did up that apartment really nice.” “You guys knew that she has her own apartment?” Everyone looked at Jiyong like he was an alien from outer space. “Of course! We went for the housewarming party. Oh right, you weren’t in Korea then. Or maybe it’s because you weren’t in Korea that Chaerin finally succumbed to our request to have a housewarming party.” 122


“Choi Seunghyun, there’s no need to be rude and say something like that to Jiyong-kun. Ji-kun, to be fair, she didn’t want us to know that she has her own apartment. We only found out because her sister let the information slipped when we asked her how come she doesn’t come and hang out at our dorm anymore.” “But why would she keep it under wraps?” “Because having an apartment of her own might open up rumors that she’s dating or in a relationship.” “And then there’s also the stupid rumors that she probably can afford it only because she’s a kept woman.” “WHAT?!” “Seriously, anything is possible. Fans, anti or otherwise, have got really good imagination. And when targeted, they leave no rocks unturned.” Hearing the discussion, Jiyong was getting a headache. He never realized that small things like keeping the handphone accessory would have brought so many speculations. Neither had he expected that it would have brought physical harm to Chaerin. Thinking about that, he clenched his fist. “Maybe coming out and say that we are in a relationship would get rid of those crazy possessive fans.” “Ji hyung, you think that would stop them because they are going to leave peacefully? No. They would actually dig up more filth about the girl we are attached to and make people who initially agree to the relationship question if the girl is suitable for their beloved oppa. That’s why no one would admit that they are in a relationship because it would mean being subjected to scrutiny and insults that came from people who don’t have a stake in the relationship.” Just then, they saw the arrival of their other manager who was approaching the van. “Hyung! It’s good to see you! The crowd is crazy.” 123


“I’m going up to check that the dorm is alright and not been broken into. YG wants you guys back at the company and we would think of alternative lodging for all of you for tonight. Last we heard, 2NE1 fans have gathered at the boys’ dorm in protest to what the fans here are doing.” “What do you mean, broken into? There’s security here.” “It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially after what Jay told YG about Chaerin’s apartment this afternoon, we cannot afford to be careless.” “What happened at Chaerin’s apartment? Was it broken into?” The manager nodded, then walked away quickly to check the dorm since they would still have to bring the 2 groups back to YGE. Jiyong was already on the phone, trying to get Jay since he seemed to be the only one who knew what happened. Jay was just ending his meeting with his dance crew when he heard his phone ring. When he saw it was Jiyong, he was surprised. “Hello, Jiyong, what’s u...” “Jay, I need to know what happened at Chaerin’s apartment.” “I’m not at liberty to reveal it to you. Chaerin promised me that she would tell you on her own.” “I don’t have time to mess around, Jay. There are crowds gathered outside Big Bang and 2NE1’s dorms. I know something happened. Please tell me so we could better protect ourselves.” “Ok... Your die-hard fans broke into her house and vandalized it. When she walked through the door, they let off the flashlight on her and escaped. According to her, they were trying to pick open her room door when she came back. They did a nasty job on the walls but it was sufficient for her to identify them as your die-hard fans. Even though she replaced the lock and installed a security system, she had never gone back to the apartment since then.”

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“Damn! Why didn’t she say anything?” “She thought since no harm was done and there was no need to fuel any more speculations since nothing was going on between the two of you, she didn’t tell anyone, not even your boss.” “IS SHE CRAZY? SHE COULD HAVE BEEN HURT!!” “Chill bro, I know and I told her that. But you know her, she didn’t want to worry anyone. Take care. I know fans mutiny can be quite disastrous. I hope the media had not decided to join the mayhem.” “Shit, I didn’t think about that. Ok, we keep in touch. Hopefully, we would be able to keep this out from the media. Our media team is usually quite fast on the uptake on such issues.” “Stay strong. If anything happens to any one of you, Chaerin would be very upset.” “I know. I would do what I can to protect both groups. See you tomorrow, bro.” After Jiyong got off the phone with Jay, all the others were looking at him expectantly, waiting for an answer. “We were right, someone did break into Chaerin’s apartment. The scary part was she caught them by surprise when she came back earlier than they thought. So they blinded her with the camera flash and escaped. But not before they vandalized her walls.” “Did she know who the culprits were?” “My die-hard fans.” Thinking about how Chaerin could have been harmed sent fear that caused his heart to tremble. And knowing that she went through that ordeal alone made him angry. He really wanted to get out of the van, go to the fans who were gathered to protest them being in a relationship with the girls and shout at them. The fact that he cannot do that made him punch the seat in frustration. 125


“Ji, calm down. I know you feel lousy right now thinking about how Chaerin might have been harmed and that she went through that on her own. But you can’t do anything rash right now. We will have to go back to YGE and then figure out what we will do next.” “Bae, I can’t help the helpless feeling. When we stand on stage, we are the kings, adorned by many. And I love it. I won’t be a hypocrite and say I don’t. But the moment we are away from the stage, it feels like we are mere chess pieces, subjected to the whims and whines of the fans and our company. We are already considered lucky that YG doesn’t cramp our freedom too much. But is that the price that we have to pay for our supposed superstar status? When we can’t be seen in the open with the people we love, when we can’t admit that we have people we love more than our fans, when we can’t admit that we have people who matters more in our lives than our fans. I don’t mind growing together with our fans, but I won’t get into an imaginary marriage with them. Because that’s all it is, imaginary, it’s not real. They have to get it out of their heads that we are not going to marry them, any of them.” “To be fair, most of our fans are rational and these rational ones who know that we deserve our freedom, that we are our own person off-stage usually do not associate themselves with the die-hards.” Before Jiyong could answer, their manager came to the van. “There’s no break-in but it’s still not safe to stay here tonight. YG wants to see all of you first before sending you somewhere safe. Don’t worry, we would evaluate the situation again tomorrow. Seungri, you can go sit at the back. Min Jun had managed to disperse most of the crowd so we are leaving now.” “But what if they camped outside the building waiting for us to leave and follow us again?” “We have the security team on standby. If we need to call in the police to disperse the crowd, we would. We have to be careful because the media is slowly getting wind of this and we don’t want to let things get out of hand. Just behave normally and do not respond to any questions.”

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All of them nodded. The van made its way back to YGE. The group, each with their own thoughts, all had a frown on their faces. The moment they arrived at YGE, the girls turned to look at each other, squeezed the hand they were holding onto and nodded. They then turned to look at the boys seated at the back before getting out of the van, putting a smile on their face, in case the fans are watching. No matter how much they wanted to cry, they can’t. They held each other’s hand even tighter and walked into YGE with their heads held high. There’s no wrong in loving. We will protect our love too. The look scared the boys. There was a strange determination on their faces and their eyes had tears in them. Without a word, Youngbae, TOP and Daesung wanted to get out of the van and chase after their girl. Jiyong closed the door of the van and blocked their exit. He understood that they wanted to chase and reassure the girls but if they do that, the consequences they have to bear would be too great. They looked away, wiping the tears of frustration that had rolled out of their eyes. “The girls are doing very well. Look at them walking into the building with their heads high and smiling. Pull yourself together. They won’t let you down. You have to trust them.” At that moment, Jiyong finally realized what it meant to trust another person. As he watched the girls walked through the door, they knew that they were doing what they can to protect their love, to protect the one they love. Walking away doesn’t mean leaving behind. This temporary separation is nothing because they know that they will meet their loved one soon because no distance can separate the love they have between them. Chaerin ah, I understand now. You didn’t leave me behind because you don’t love me. You left me behind because you believed You believed that our love can stand the distance Or at least your love for me. Soon, my dear, I would come to you soon.

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Then, it's my turn to show my love for you.

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Chapter 62 12 February 2013 Seoul, 4am The Big Bang members just got back to their dorm. It had been a long night, not just because of the fans but also the resistance that the 2NE1 girls put up at not giving in and get sent off to a safe place. Everyone was really surprised because usually the girls listened to YG and obeyed instructions to the dot. But today’s incident made them see a different side of the girls. Although they were exhausted, the boys didn’t go to bed immediately after they arrived at the dorm. The girls had told their boyfriends not to call them because they were upset with them for not trusting them to do the right thing. So all 5 of them were just sitting around in the living room. It’s really funny to see all 5 of them holding their phones, as if they were waiting for a miracle to happen. The 3 attached members were hoping that their girlfriends would soften and message them to signal that they were not angry anymore; Jiyong was waiting to see if Chaerin would finally reply to his message; Seungri was actually just playing a game on his phone. “That was quite a fight the girls put on today. Even YG was taken aback.” Jiyong finally broke the silence since he felt they all needed the distraction. While it might not be the best conversation starter since the 3 boyfriends were ‘burned’ in the fight but to talk about anything else would seem that he was belittling the whole incident. “I’m still freaking worried that something would happen.” “Hyung, relax, if anything had happen, I’m sure Jun Min hyung and Hyun Im hyung would have called us.” “Easy for you to say, maknae. It’s not your girlfriend who have to face those scary fans. I don’t know why the image of what they said happened to Chaerin kept coming back to haunt me and I hope Bom won’t have the same thing happen to her.” “And I’m worried they would ask the two managers to not tell us anything, even if something did happen.”

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“Alright guys, stop being paranoid. You have to trust the managers to do the right thing. You have to trust that if the girls can’t handle it, they would let you know.” “Easy for you to say, Ji, your girlfriend is not separated from you and being threatened by crazy fans who think they own us and have the right to decide who is good enough to be with us. You don’t know how helpless it is to see the one you love having to be the one to protect us. We should be protecting them instead.” “You know, it’s actually rather ironic that you would say something like that, Youngbae. You are the one who always tell me that I have to trust Chaerin. Yet, right now, you are not trusting your girlfriend to be able to make the right decision for herself? You can’t trust that when the girls resisted and say that they want to go back to the dorm, they know what they are doing? I know it’s dangerous. But they were right when they said if they were to be sent off to a safe place, it would fuel the speculations instead of cooling them down. At the same time, if the speculations got any worse, Chaerin’s sudden departure might be called into question too. Call me selfish, but I don’t want anything to disturb the anonymity that’s she’s enjoying right now while she’s in Italy.” Youngbae looked slightly abashed. It was true, he was always the one to tell Jiyong to trust Chaerin more yet when something happened, he threw his own advice out of the window. “When I saw the girls walking bravely out of the van and into YGE with their heads held high and without any shame of the love they have for you guys, that was the moment I realized what trust in a relationship is. It’s the belief that your love for each other would take you through every single ordeal, every difficult, crazy situation that would arise in your relationship. Whoever saw them then, won’t be able to argue that they were weak or not good enough to be the girlfriend of any Big Bang members. Remember the first time when you stood in front of YG and the girls were intimidated? This was a far better show of faith in the relationship. You should be happy about that. Think about it. I’m going to bed. I have to meet Jay at 10am.” After Jiyong left, the 4 members left in the living room looked at each other.

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The look on their faces said it all. They were surprised at what Jiyong just said because it had always been them giving him advice on relationships. “Wow, that was just wow. That deserved to go down in history somewhere.” “I agree. I would never thought the day would come when he is that matured about relationship. I think Chaerin really made the right move to leave Korea. Even though it’s only for less than 2 weeks, Jiyong had matured so much.” “He changed without warning that it’s taking us by surprise too much. Not saying that I don’t like the new him but it takes a little getting used to.” “But he has a point. Seeing the mutiny today scared us bad, yet at the same time, because the girls didn’t shed a single tear, it did chase away the fear a little. Although I’m still worried, I know that the 3 of them will stick by each other and made sure no one was hurt.” Just then, Youngbae’s phone beeped. It was a message from the manager to tell them that the girls are safely back in their dorm and the fans who had stayed to follow them, had gone off after seeing that only the girls returned to the dorm. And because they looked unfazed by the whole incident, the fans finally decided that they were being silly and left after another 15 minutes. Youngbae thanked the manager for the information. “I guess we would have to beg for forgiveness then.” “I’m always begging for forgiveness but I’d admit that it’s always my fault.” Everyone laughed at TOP but Daesung’s expression grew solemn after that. “What’s wrong, Dae?” “Now, I’m worried about my departure to Japan with Minzy. I love to have her with me but I’m worried that something might happen to her when I’m not beside her.” Seungri patted Daesung on the back then said to him. “Remember what Ji hyung said. Your love would be strong enough to get 131


you through whatever is going to happen. Just trust that she knows what she’s doing. If she hadn’t thought it through and sure about what she wanted, she won’t have suggested it. Minzy is very matured for her age. I’m more worried about Bom and Dara noona.” “Maknae, you just save the worrying for yourself. We can handle our girlfriend fine.” Seungri stuck out his tongue at TOP who made the statement and had to flee when TOP chased after him with a cushion. Youngbae walked up to Daesung and put his arm around his shoulder, showing his support. “You’d be fine, both of you would be fine. Now that I calmed down and think about it, our girlfriends are amazing and we need to tell them that.” Daesung nodded his agreement and when Seungri ran back into the living room again with TOP chasing after him, Youngbae stopped them and told them to keep it down since Jiyong might be resting. He then reminded TOP that he had to go into the recording studio as well. The 4 of them went back to their room after saying goodnight. Jiyong was lying on his bed and thinking about what happened today. Meeting Jay, hearing about Chaerin and then having to face the fan mutiny all rolled in one was a lot to take in. But he was glad everything happened. He was glad that he got to know where Chaerin is, he was glad to know that she’s doing fine. He was also glad for the mutiny because he realized what trust is. He took out his phone and sent a message to Chaerin. To: CL (all 3 numbers) 12 February 2013 4.45am KST

Chaerin darling, So many things happened today! I finally know where you are and seeing the gifts you made for us, for me, made me very happy and sad at the same time. I’m jealous! Jealous of how much quality time Jay got to spend with you! I don’t care!! You have to spend time with me!!! I will finish what I have to finish first before going to you, then I will have all the time in the world to be with you!

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Today, there were fans waiting outside the dorms, wanting to find out what’s going on between Big Bang and 2NE1 members. We had to go back to YGE. Your girls put up a fight, refusing to be sent away to somewhere safe. You should see all your oppas pulling their hair out. Even YG was surprised. But why didn’t you tell me what you had to go through with the antifans? Baby, you cannot do that again alright? While I trust you to do the right thing, but you have me. I want you to tell me so that we can go through it together. You trust me to do the right thing too right? One more thing... Lee Chaerin, I realized now how much you love me. I was blinded before but I see it much clearer now. I’m sorry for letting my pride get in the way. I’d make it up to you when I’m by your side again, alright? I love you, my queen. You are the queen of my heart. Though he didn’t know which number is the one that would get through to her, he knew that she was getting all his messages. Now that he knew that she read and replied to his messages, he wanted to make sure that she knew how he felt. As he scrolled through his contacts and seeing that he had changed her name to ‘CL’ on his phone, he frowned. He quickly went into her contact details and changed it. <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 Seeing the new contact name, he grinned. He would wait. He would wait till the day the name popped up on his phone, signaling a call or a message from her. He did a screen shot and sent the picture to Chaerin. To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 (All 3 numbers) 12 February 2013 4.50am KST

Chaerin baby, I want you to know that you are not just CL to me. You are Lee Chaerin, you are my HunChae. It has never changed before and it will never ever change.

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Just an addition. You are now also my queen, the one ruler in my life. I love you. After the last message, he put his phone to charge and fell asleep with a smile on his face. It had been a long day. 11 February 2013 Milan, 8.30pm After being a tourist for the whole day, Chaerin had ended the day with a trip to the grocery store. She got some basic groceries and a few bottles of red wine for herself. She bought a pair of wine glasses for the wine. When she got home, she made herself a quick salad and pour a glass of wine for herself and settled down in front of the fireplace with her sketchbook. She was putting the finishing touch to the second set of clothes she had thought of for Jay and 2NE1. The designs were edgy but still normal enough to be worn on the streets. It wasn’t just runway fashion. She was reaching for her glass of wine when her phone, both numbers, beeped. She rolled her eyes when she heard the Italian number go off. That was Seungri. She didn’t even have to check to know. The Korean number, it’s up to anyone’s guess. She checked Seungri’s message first because if it was something ridiculous, she could choose not to reply. From: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 8.32pm CET

Dear Queen, The Almighty just made a speech that deserved to be remembered. So I’m sending you the audio clip. Trust me, all of us were floored. Chaerin opened the attached audio file and the ‘speech’ about trust came on. As she listened to the clip, she had a smile on her face. She was genuinely happy to hear what Jiyong had said. Oppa, you have matured so much in the last 2 weeks since I last saw you. I’m proud of you.

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To: SeungRat >.< 11 February 2013 8.37pm CET

What do you expect? He’s the Almighty after all. :D She then went to the inbox of her Korean number. There were 3 messages. 2 of them were from Jiyong. She opened the first message. The beginning of the message made her smile. She could almost imagine Jiyong whining about wanting to spend time with her. Then she frowned when she saw the part about the fans outside their dorms and how her members refused to be sent to a safe place. But she also smiled and thought that her Big Bang oppas should know that her girls were showing them that they are strong enough to be in the relationship with them. Her mouth pouted when she got to the part where Jiyong was scolding her for not telling him or anyone about the run-in with the anti-fans. It was replaced by a smile when she saw that the reprimand didn’t go on for long and he even acknowledged that he would trust her to do the right thing in future. The last part of the message brought tears to her eyes. Reading that and remembering those hurtful words he said when they last saw each other, she was glad that he seemed to have understood why she was determined to leave and even when she knew it hurt him, she didn’t bother to explain. She won’t have exchanged that one night in his arms for anything. But it did complicate matters and she almost didn’t tell him that she was leaving. Yet, when he hugged her from the back that morning, kissed her shoulders and rest his head on them, she knew that he loves her as much as she loves him. She choose to deliver the news in as emotionless a voice so that he could not tell how much pain she was going through as each word came out of her mouth. She didn’t want to see him cry or deny or beg her to stay. Because if he did, she would have broken down and stay, giving up her dreams of pursuing fashion design and to help her members out. She wiped away the tears as she opened up the second message from Jiyong. When she saw the screenshot and saw what he had changed her contact name to, the tears fell again. She had waited for this for a long time. After wiping away her tears for the second time, she went to her contact list and changed the current contact name for Jiyong.

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<3 My Jingyo Oppa <3 My King<3 She smiled and took a screenshot of his contact details. She started to type in her reply, still sending the message to his first number. To: My Jingyo Oppa<3 11 February 2013 9.05pm CET

Jiyong oppa, I promise you that I will spend time with you when you are here with me. But you have to promise that you will not distract me from my studies, ok? I’m sorry to hear about the fans but I am extremely proud of them for standing up for their love. Please tell the oppas that they should be proud of them. I promise that if I meet with any scary anti-fans, I’d let you know immediately. You are right. We can overcome anything together. :) Oppa, thank you for seeing that I love you. I really do you know, so so much. I love you, my king. King of my heart. The next message, she attached the screenshot of Jiyong’s contact details in her phone. To: My Jingyo Oppa<3 11 February 2013 9.09pm CET

Jiyong oppa, you were never just G-Dragon to me. G-Dragon belonged to too many people and I get jealous easily. You are Kwon Jiyong, my Jingyo oppa. Jingyo oppa is exclusively mine. If I ever hear other girls call you that, you are dead, understand? You have always been the king of my heart. Always. And forever. Chaerin was glad that the personalized chocolate that she made for Jiyong would express her feelings towards him and he didn’t need to wait till he gets the phone to know. She opened the last message from YG.

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From: YG Sajangnim 11 February 2013 8.33pm CET

Lee Chaerin, you are not allowed to keep anything that is threatening to your life from me ever again, do you understand? Your parents entrusted you in my care and if anything happens to you, how am I going to answer to your parents? And when do you want me to hand the phone you kept in the box to Jiyong? He has really changed a lot in the last 10 days, that even I’m a little shocked by it. Thank you for the cookies and chocolates. I hope Jiyong will pester you to make more so that you can send them back to Korea. What am I saying? I would just ask him to make you make cookies with him. I don’t think he would say no to any chance to spend time with you. You should see his face when Jay mentioned how much time he got to spend with you. Now that you are in Milan alone, please be even more careful. I really don’t want anything to happen to you. I’d send Jiyong to you as soon as I can. Chaerin was really touched by the concern that YG has for her. He was right. She shouldn’t have kept life-threatening details from him because if anything did happen, it would be difficult for him to answer her parents. To: YG Sajangnim 11 February 2013 9.10pm CET

Sajangnim~~ Thank you for your concern. I apologize for keeping the previous incidents from you. I would not do it again. Jiyong oppa just warned me over text message too. I know he had changed a lot over the last 10 days and I’m glad. Now I’m more sure of my future with him. I hope you won’t mind our relationship. Wait, what am I saying? Jiyong oppa won’t allow you to meddle in our relationship. :p As to when you should give the phone to Jiyong oppa, when you think the time is ripe. But let’s not distract him from what he needs to finish. Although I’m quite sure he’s not going to leave the moment he gets the phone, I’m not sure if I want him calling me every other minute. I promise to take care of myself and be extra careful. Don’t worry about me.

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After sending the message, Chaerin just sat in front of the fireplace, sipping her wine and contemplated how much has changed over the last 10 days. She hoped that in the near future, she would be drinking wine in Jiyongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arms and asking his inputs about her designs. Although she still has reservations if she would be able to handle Jiyongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s criticism but she knew that his input would be invaluable. Maybe it was her happy mood, she started sketching something very personal. Her own wedding dress.

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Chapter 63 12 February 2013 Seoul, 9.00am Jiyong had gotten up half an hour before and was almost ready to leave for YGE. He didn’t want to be late plus the melody in his head was driving him crazy, in a good way. What Sean said was true, once his heart is in the right place, the music will come back to him again. He smiled, he didn’t have to look too hard to see Chaerin in his head. He could hear her laughter from the yesteryears and he vowed that he would continue to make her laugh from now on. He fished out his phone to send his love a message. To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 12 February 2013 9.05am KST

Good morning my Queen~ :) I’m very happy today, I woke up early and all I could hear is the music that had gone missing when you left. Chaerin ah, thank you. Thank you for coming back to me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for showing me how much I love you. Just as you love, I love. Have a great day later when you are awake!!! :D Be careful alright? Love. Youngbae walked into the kitchen then and saw the smile on Jiyong’s face. He walked up to him and peeped from behind him. “So it’s back eh? I’m happy for you, bro!” “Ya~ Dong Youngbae, how can you just sneak up from the back this way?” “You have THE smile on your face so I had to know what caused it. In case it’s another girl, we will have to tell Chaerin.” “Can you tell me honestly that you have actually seen this smile when I was with other girls?” 139


“You mean the panty-dropper smile?” “YA!” “Alright alright, jokes aside, no. Which is why I’m really happy for you. It had been quite a ride for the last 10 days but you aced it, bro. Totally. You had us floored last night with your speech about trust. We thought it would take longer.” “I already lost 6 years, I don’t want to lose anymore time. Looking back, it had been so silly but now that I’m here, I am more sure than before, that she’s my everything, my life, my destiny, my mate for life. I wasn’t even joking about the wedding. After she lets me into the apartment, I’m going to ask her.” “Aren’t you moving a little too fast? Do you think she’s ready?” “We don’t have to get married like immediately. I just want to belong to her exclusively.” “You want to be a kept man?” “If it’s Lee Chaerin, sure.” “You disgusts me.” “Have you never thought about getting married with Dara noona?” “I have thought about it but I don’t know how she feels about it. We’ve never really talked about it.” “Take your time then, it’s not something to rush into.” “So says the man who’s going to ask his girl to marry and own him the moment he sees her again.” “Like I said just now, I have lost 6 years. Even though I do not know if I would have been happier if I have been with Chaerin through these 6 years but we had definitely drifted apart. Not going to let that happen anymore.

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Alright, much as I would like to stay, I’ve got to go. Do you mind helping wake TOP hyung up in an hour?” “I thought you were supposed to meet Jay at 10am?” “I am going to meet him at 10am. We can discuss and work on the track first and wait for hyung to turn up. If not, Jay and I can work on a track and I can give it to him as a present for helping Chaerin out this past week.” “And yesterday, you were threatening to kill him.” “If he had taken Chaerin away from me, I would have. But from the conversation I had with him, he is sincere about wanting the 2 of us to be together. I should be happy that a lot of people are behind us. Which reminds me, I need to go and talk to Boss about it. We have to think about how to break the news to the public without hurting 2NE1 too much.” “What about yourself?” “Youngbae, I already have the only person who I want for the rest of my life beside me. Do you think it will hurt me to lose fans who can’t give me their best wishes? Although I’m a little worried about Big Bang but we all have our own individual abilities to survive in this industry.” “Honestly, if I do get married with Dara noona, I’d rather she stopped being an artiste and just be my wife and the mother of my children. I mean if she wants to continue, I won’t object but the moment we have our first kid, I would persuade her to stay at home.” “Well, Chaerin is doing her fashion design course now. She has an eye for fashion so if that’s what she wants to do, then I would support her in that. We will have to strike a balance between work and family. But well, no point talking about it with you since you are not the one I’m going to marry. I will talk to her when I see her again. Bye, see you guys later. If you guys are dropping by, give me a call.” “Will do. We have to go and beg for forgiveness from the girls first.” “Good luck with that. It would be ok. They love you guys a lot. FIGHTING!”

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Jiyong stepped out of the dorm in great spirit as he walked to his car. But that came plummeting down when he spotted a fan holding a placard with the words saying “Jiyong oppa, congratulation on your break-up with that Chaerin bitch.” He had to take a deep breath to calm himself down so he would not confront the fan. As the car was passing by the security room, he told the guard to tell the fan to leave. And even as the fan waved to him, he ignored her and just continue on his way to YGE. The moment he stepped into his own studio, he let out a scream, letting the frustration out. Then he took his phone out and decided to send a tweet. @IBGDRGN: The saddest person in the world is someone who can’t love the person he wants to love the way he wants to. Respect my wishes and love. Please. @IBGDRGN: If your love for me makes you hurt the one I love, I don’t need your love then. I’m loved. More than you can. More than you know. He put aside his phone, took a deep breath and thought of Chaerin and calmed down immediately. He moved over to the keyboards and started playing different chords. After completing 8 bars, he played the track and made adjustments before going on to the next part. He looked at the lyrics he wrote last night in response to Chaerin’s song and started singing to the melody. Jay was about to arrive at YGE and sent a message to Jiyong. When he got his reply to meet him directly at his studio, he didn’t expect Jiyong to be hard at work already. But what did he expect of the workaholic perfectionist that goes by the name of G-Dragon? He didn’t create hit songs by sitting around. But Jay had also seen the tweets sent by Jiyong and was wondering what happened. Although he knew it probably had got something to do with the fan mutiny last night, he thought it was a little more than that. He didn’t disturb him but just sat on the sofa letting Jiyong finish what he was doing so his train of thought won’t be interrupted. When Jiyong was done with the melody he was putting together, he turned

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to Jay. He knew that Jay had entered the studio but he didn’t want to stop his flow and he knew Jay would understand. Jay smiled at Jiyong and gave him a thumbs up. He liked what he had heard. “Morning, Jiyong. So this is the great G-Dragon in his work mode huh? Very impressive!” “When inspiration strikes, you have to put it down immediately. You should know.” “You sound happy today. But your tweets said otherwise.” Jiyong let out a short laugh. He should know that Jay won’t let the tweets pass without making a comment about it. “Some irritating fan spoilt my happy mood this morning. She was holding a placard to congratulate me for breaking up with Chaerin. How is that something to be happy about? What if I was sad about the break-up? Would seeing something like that make me feel better?” “Sometimes it’s not about making us feel better. It makes them feel better. You do know we are selling more than our music to them right? We are selling them a fantasy. We are like an ideal type, a perfect specimen of what men should be like. They just do not realize it’s very dangerous because no one is perfect. And to keep up that ideal, we behave in a manner that has to be acceptable in the eyes of these fans all the time. If we were in a relationship, it would dash this beautiful fantasy.” “But that doesn’t excuse their behaviour. The fan called Chaerin ‘bitch’, which is an uncalled-for insult. And it didn’t feel good that I can’t tell her directly not to do that. It feels like I was ok with her insulting another human being, much less the girl I love.” “Mr. Kwon, they don’t know that yet. Have you given it any thought?” “I wish I could go out there right now and tell everyone about how much I love Chaerin. But since I haven’t got her yet, and she’s part of this relationship too, I’d have to ask her. Who knows, maybe she wants to be a swinging single for a couple more years.”

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The worry in Jiyong’s tone as he said the last sentence didn’t escape Jay’s ears. It was really strange to see Jiyong unsure of himself and worrying when it comes to girls. “Well, she can stay single but she can’t stay available. I already told you, just give any guy time with her, she’s going to charm that person into falling in love with her. And she does it effortlessly and doesn’t know the effect she has on them. Like I said, you leave her alone for too long, I’m going to make my move. I bet Seungri would too.” “Nope~ Not going to give you or Seungri or ANYONE any chance to take my HunChae away from me. Which is why I’m going to propose when I see her.” “WOAH~~ Hold it right there, mister. Propose? There isn’t going to be like a courtship period and all that?” “We can do that after she agrees to be my wife. We are not going to get married immediately but I want her to be mine. Mainly because I want to be hers.” “Oh my gawd~ My ears!!” Both men started laughing out loud. “Does that answer your question? I have thought a lot about it.” “Well, I know of your marriage plans. I’m more concerned about you telling the public that you are in a relationship with her.” “Jay, when I finally hold her hand and stand in front of the public to announce our relationship, I have no intention of letting her hand go. That is the first thing I would say. If there are people who cannot accept it, then they would have to let me go and I would be honest, I won’t miss them one bit. But to people who will continue to support me and my relationship with Chaerin, I will continue to make music for them. If this caused 2NE1’s popularity to go down, then we’ll see what we can do. We need to hear what the girls have to say. If Chaerin wants to step down permanently, then we’ll do that and let her concentrate on what she wants to do.” “I don’t think she would ever give up on 2NE1. She lives for the stage and 144


when I mentioned a solo career, she was realistic enough to know that it would be impossible for her. So if she wants to continue standing on that stage, it would be with 2NE1 or nothing. She has big plans for them when she’s done.” “Then we won’t reveal our relationship till it’s a good time. It doesn’t really matter to me either way. She’s mine and nothing is going to change that.” “Good to know. Is the song you are working on just now for TOP’s album?” “Actually I’m not too sure. I might keep it for myself and release it as a single at a later date. I have so many ideas in my head right now that we should probably make use of. Why don’t I play you what we have recorded thus far and let you have a general feel of the album then we can talk about it when TOP hyung arrives? Youngbae should have woken him up. Have you had breakfast?” “Nope. I have been spoilt rotten by Chaerin that I can’t even stomach cornflakes anymore. The food at the cafeteria here is amazing, so we can go and eat something there or take away and eat here.” “What did she cook for you?” “Go check my tweets while I go get something to eat. Do you need anything?” “I’m coming with you.” “Aren’t you curious what Chaerin cooked for me?” “Dude, I’m going to be eating the same thing soon, I can be curious for a while more.” “I heard the Big Bang members can cook well too.” “Ya, we all know how to put together some basic dishes but Youngbae is the best amongst us.” The two guys walked outside and met TOP walking into the building. Since he hadn’t had breakfast too, the 3 guys made their way to the cafeteria. TOP 145


was telling Jay and Jiyong about the phone call he made to Bom that morning. He wanted to apologize but Bom didn’t even pick up his call. He’s now super worried that she won’t forgive him. “TOP hyung, Bom noona’s a softie. You’d be fine.” “You don’t understand. No matter how bad we quarreled or how stupid I have been, she never ignores me this way. Never.” “Do you want me to go talk to them? After all, I’m probably the most neutral party other than Seungri.” “Considering the fact that you are about to date their leader, I don’t know if you can be considered to be neutral.” “Well, while Chaerin’s gone, I’m taking up the responsibility for both groups. I’d go talk to them later ok?” “Thanks Ji, so what are we going to do about the collaboration?” “I’m going to let Jay listen to everything that we have recorded so far to let him know the concept for the album. I’m about 80% done with another song but that one is a little down tempo so I’m not sure if it will fit into the album so we’l...” “You wrote something? I thought you said...” “Hyung, it came back. I woke up with melodies in my head, it was crazy. I am so happy.” “I’m happy for you, Ji, really I am.” TOP turned to give Jiyong a hug and Jay suddenly missed the days when he had his group mates with him. Though they weren’t really close, they did went through quite a bit together. It’s rather sad that he had not heard much from them recently. He’s lucky to have Korean Assassins, all the Prepix dancers and his previous crew members. But he missed having people who knows exactly what he’s going through. “So anyway, we will let Jay listen to what we already have and then we can 146


also work on the new track. If we think we can work with that, we would, if not, we’ll come up with something. And after we are done for the day, I’d call the girls up and pay them a visit ok?” “I want to come along. I’m sure Youngbae and Daesung would want to be there as well.” “I will ask them if they want you guys there. If they don’t, then I’d go alone.” “But...” “Hyung, you’ve got to trust me to be able to change their minds or at least they can tell me what they are thinking so I can help you guys work out the next step. Relax, I’ve got this.” “Alright, we’re counting on you. When I left the dorm, Youngbae and Daesung didn’t manage to get Dara and Minzy too.” “Yup, don’t worry about it. The girls love you guys too much to stay angry for too long. So they must have a good reason for doing this.” Once they were done with breakfast, they went back to Jiyong’s studio to start work on the collaboration. By 3pm that afternoon, they managed to come up with a bunch of tunes and lyrics, which was good progress. They decided to call it a day since Jay had to go back for a meeting with the production team of SNL. When Jiyong and TOP heard that he was casted in the show, they were very happy for him. After all, he deserved a chance for all the hard work he had put into. They were relieved that the lock-down on his activities was slowly being lifted. Just as Jiyong was about to call the 2NE1 girls, he received a call from YG asking him to go see him in his office. Since TOP had to go off for a meeting with the Alumnus marketing team, he left with Jay. Jiyong made his way to YG’s office and he was surprised to see Sean as well. Sean was holding something in his hands.

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Chapter 64 12 February 2013 YGE, 3.30pm “Sajangnim, Sean hyung, hello.” “Jiyong ah, come, have a seat. How are things back at the dorm?” “The boyfriends are panicking because the girls won’t pick up their calls. I’m going to call on the girls later just to see if they are faring alright and to find out why they are shutting the boys out.” Sean and YG exchanged a look. “I have a question for you, Jiyong. Why didn’t you object when the girls insisted on going back to their dorm last night? All your members did, even Seungri.” Jiyong smiled. It was true. He didn’t object to the girls’ suggestion even though he knew that his words would carry some weight. But seeing what he saw when they walked out of the van, he knew he had to let them do what they wanted. “Because they were right. If they were to be sent off to somewhere safe, it would be like hiding away. When they walked out of the van last night to the building, they walked with the stance of someone who’s doing her best to protect the relationship and the person she loves. They didn’t do it out of spite when they refused to be sent away. They were trying to show their man that they want to protect them and their relationship as much as the guys want to protect them. A relationship takes 2 parties willing to make the sacrifices to make it work. They are probably keeping the guys away until they learnt the lesson.” “Are you going to persuade them to answer the guys’ phone calls then?” “Nope~ I’m just going to enjoy the company of 3 wonderful girls whose boyfriends are a little too blind and oblivious to their real intent. We’ll talk and share stories about how stupid the guys are. And then I’d tell them the guys didn’t get it. Because they are guys, sometimes they need to be told

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directly and specifically why girls do certain things. I already told the guys the reason but nothing like hearing it from the girls themselves.” “You have grown up so much since the last time I talked to you, Jiyong. I’m very proud of you.” “I’d admit I was selfish too. I didn’t want the whole thing to become something bigger than what it is in case people start questioning Chaerin’s departure and her whereabouts again. She’s all alone in Italy now, without anyone to protect her. And knowing that she was the prime target previously, I’d do anything to ease my own fears that her anonymity is giving her the protection she needs right now. I know she can hold her own but I’m still worried.” “Now that you know where she is, I’m actually surprised you are still here. I thought you would have taken the first flight out.” “I would have if I found where she was a week ago. But in the past week, I have time to really think about our past, our relationship and if I want to take it to the next level.” “And your answer is?” “There is no one else I would want to spend the rest of my life with. I was going to come and talk to you about going public with our relationship. It’s still early and I haven’t really talked to Chaerin, but it will eventually be something that we have to talk about. I want to know what is the management’s stand on this.” “Are you asking for permission to date Chaerin because of her dating ban?” “I’m not asking for permission. No one can stop me from being with her. I’m asking because I want to know what we can do to minimize any damage to 2NE1 and Big Bang.” “Yourself?” “Sean hyung, the only person I want to go home to at the end of the day is Chaerin, no one else. If my fans are going to leave me because I’m in love with her, then so be it. But as long as there are people who wants to listen 149


to my music, I would continue. My biggest worry is still Chaerin and 2NE1.” “You have obviously given this some thought, what do you suggest we do?” “Let me do my solo concert tour. This is probably going to be the last time that I would want to do an extended tour, so I’m going to treat it as a ‘thank you’ for my fans. This will help alleviate the fear that I can’t balance work with a relationship. Since Chaerin is not going to be around for the next 6 months, I hope to have at least 2 weeks in between location so I can be in Italy with Chaerin. I will come back a week before the next tour date for practice and preparation.” “You do know that people are going to start asking why you are always in Italy.” “If they ask, I’d answer honestly. Every single time I was rumored to be in a relationship, I never make any statement because I believed that I was protecting the girl. But this is different. I can’t keep this under wraps for too long. The more I hide it, the more people won’t be sure if this is real. I want to show them that this is real, that I’m never going to let go of her, ever. If I need to announce it at the start of my tour, I would do it too.” “And if Chaerin is not for the idea of going public?” “Then I would not reveal it’s her yet but I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m in love with one special girl. I won’t have suggested going public if I’m not confident of walking till the end with her. I’m hoping to get us engaged by the end of the tour, if it happens.” “What about her career?” “She can continue to sing if she wants to, or if she wants to go into fashion, I’m sure with her talents, she can make it too. All the designers we have met before love her. Or if she’s comfortable with just staying at home and be my wife, so be it. I’m not going to insist either way.” “I’d be honest. When YG told me that you have changed a lot, I didn’t really believe him. I watch you grow up, chasing after your dreams and getting to the top of the game. You seemed lost at times but your dreams continued to

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guide you. After what I just heard, I apologize for even doubting you. Jiyong ah, now both of us feel more at ease about the two of you being together. Love and cherish her well. As for going public, I think it’s best if you talk to her first. I like your plan because you are right. There is no point in hiding what is real. We’ll see what we can do to put together the solo concert tour. It’s going to be tiring shuffling between all the different countries, and having 2 bases during this time.” “Knowing that I’d be going back to her at the end of the day makes it all worthwhile. It’s nothing too complicated when we keep what is important in focus.” Sean gave Jiyong a pat on the back, like a proud father finally seeing his son succeeding in something. To be honest, both YG and him were worried about Jiyong because he always seemed so unsettled and at times, lost. But seeing the man in front of him now, he was relieved and elated. “It’s true that every guy needs a girl to ground him. I’m really glad to see you this way.” “Jiyong ah, I have to tell you that Chaerin trusts you to make a stand for this relationship. She told me for sure that you won’t let us meddle in your relationship. Hearing what you said, we would give you our blessings. As for going public, I’d leave it to the 2 of you to discuss and decide. Just tell us and we will do the necessary preparations.” YG exchanged a look with Sean and the latter lifted the box from the floor to the table and extracted both the album and the phone in the box. The album didn’t surprise him much but the phone got his attention. Could that be the phone where Chaerin has been sending all her replies to? Why is it with YG? Are they giving it to me now? “You already know that before Chaerin left, she left a box with me. Sean already gave you 2 of the items, these are the 2 remaining items. I took a peek in the album, it’s mostly photos of you and Chaerin from the earlier years. The phone, I just found out from Jay yesterday, is where she has been sending her replies to you. Now, I would give you the album first and if

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you can answer my question correctly, I would give you the phone as well.” “And if I don’t answer it correctly?” “Then you are not ready to have the phone. Chaerin left it to me to decide when to give you the phone. She trusts you enough to know you are not going to leave until you are done with everything you need to do here, but she’s worried that you are going to call her every single minute once you know. Would you?” “Is that the question?” “No, but I would like to know too.” “I won’t deny that the temptation would be there. I mean I haven’t heard her voice in like 10 days but every single minute is an exaggeration. Maybe once or twice a day.” YG looked at him skeptically. “Ok fine, every 2 hours. But you have to take into account the time difference!” Sean and YG laughed at the exasperated expression that Jiyong has on his face. It reminded them of the 12-year-old who came to the company, wideeyed and with only one goal in mind. Only this time, his goal is Chaerin. “So are you ready for the question?” “As ready as I can be, since I know how random you can be.” “What is the phone number for this phone?” “How am I suppose to know that?!!” “Chaerin won’t use a random number for something so important. Think hard enough and you would probably remember.” That got Jiyong thinking. It’s true. Chaerin won’t use a random number and if it’s not something that YG knew, he won’t be able to ask the question

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either. So it’s a number that meant something to both of them. But other than his first number, he can’t think of another which would... Wait a minute! That’s it It’s my first mobile phone number! I totally forgot that I passed the phone to Chaerin for safekeeping! Jiyong grinned because he has solved the mystery. Not just the phone number, but also which number Chaerin is using. “010-0818-0226” “CORRECT ANSWER!! Chaerin was really surprised when I asked her what is the phone number when I messaged her yesterday. When I saw the number, I was surprised.” “Because the number she’s been using is this number inverted. 010-62208180. I was surprised when I first saw the number too because we never discussed this. I guess we just acted on our gut feelings then.” “Here you go, your prize.” YG handed the phone over to Jiyong. Jiyong looked at the phone and knowing that he was going to see the replies all at once kind of makes him nervous. He realized that this might be one of those times when Chaerin is the most honest about her feeling. Then a mischievous smirk appeared on his face. Chaerin ah, 2 can play this game~ “Sajangnim, if she ever asked you, don’t tell her that you have given the phone back to me.” “Why?” “Because I want to surprise her and keep her thinking that it’s alright to pour out her feelings to me on that number.” “Ok, I can do that but it comes with a price.” 153


Jiyong looked at YG quizzically. “When you are in Italy with her, make her make macadamia nut cookies for me. I want a new batch every month!” Hearing YG’s request, both Sean and Jiyong started laughing. “Sajangnim, I swear you are addicted to those cookies!” “Have you tasted them yet? I heard the boys finished yours last year without telling you.” “No...” “Eat them and then tell me you don’t want more.” “They are really good, I had some last year and though I don’t say it out loud like YG, I would love to have some too.” “I almost forgot your share!” “Nah, he was going to keep it for himself if you didn’t mention it.” YG went to the box that contained all the goodies and took out the macadamia nut cookies for Sean and the normal chocolates for Big Bang and 2NE1 members. He passed Sean’s cookies and chocolates to him and the chocolates of the 2 groups to Jiyong. “Since you are going to see the girls, bring them these. It would help you gain entrance into the dorm. If you are seen as one of the boys, they are not going to let you in. But if you are bringing them something from Chaerin, they would have to let you in.” “Good idea, I was going to ask you to call them so I can talk to them since I wasn’t sure if they would answer my call. But you are right, I should be seen as on their side. Do you think it’s a good idea for me to go to their dorm alone or should I ask them out?” “Why don’t we have dinner together? It’s been some time since I saw the

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girls anyway. YG would scare them but I should be alright.” “Oh right, that reminds me. I suggested going to my parents’ pension after their press conference on Valentines’ Day. Let’s make it a YGE outing so that rumors can be kept to a minimum.” “Ok, I’d tell the various managers to let them know to pop by when their artistes are free. No matter what, just be careful.” “I know, I would watch over them.” “Should I call them then?” “Thanks Sean hyung, they are more likely to pick up your call without reservations.” Sean made the call and made the dinner appointment with the 2NE1 girls for 7pm. He told them he would go pick them up at 7 and they would go to a restaurant they go to all the time. It would give them the privacy they needed for the conversation. When Youngbae called Jiyong, he told him about their plan. At first, Youngbae insisted on coming. Jiyong told him that if the girls are persuaded, he would call them. He only agreed when Sean talked to him on the phone. Once everything was settled, Jiyong went back to his studio since he still had time before he meet Sean and the girls at the restaurant. Upon reaching the studio, he took out the album and started flipping through it. The memories came back to him and as he looked at the photos, he remembered every single event. The smiles on the photos mirrored the one he had on his face now. He was glad that he got the album only now because he could look back without a sense of loss but with a sense of hope for the future, a future that he and Chaerin will build together. If he had got it earlier, he would have cried tears of despair. But the note at the last page still made him tear. The days past, Thank you for being there in my memories. I do not know when did our paths start diverging from each other

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And I do not know when they will meet again. My Jingyo Oppa, Annyeong... He took the note from the page and wrote on the back of the note: Chaerin ah, You can’t say ‘goodbye’ to our past because they are beautiful. We might have caused each other pain, but we grew up and matured from this pain. Never again will our paths diverge again When we meet again, ‘Annyeong’ will mean ‘Hello’ Hello to our future together, Hello to all the beautiful memories we will have. Though there will be difficult times, we will go through that together. Always. Forever. He put the album aside and looked at the phone. He was a little apprehensive about switching on the phone but he was curious to read the replies from Chaerin. He took it from the table and switched it on. When the first beep went off, his heartbeat accelerated. The beeps were followed by many more. He let them go off, counting each in his head. When the beeps stopped, he took a deep breath and went into the inbox. He scrolled down to the last message and was about to open the first message she sent to him when his other phone rang. He checked and saw that he had to answer the call. Looking at the time, he had to get ready to leave for dinner. He took the album, the phone and his other belongings and made his way out, picking up the call. “Hello, omma~”

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Chapter 65 12 February 2013 Seoul, 6.30pm “So, omma, I’d see you on Thursday. We will probably be there for the whole weekend. I’m on my way to have dinner with Sean hyung and the 2NE1 girls.” Jiyong grinned at what his mother said just before he ended the call. As expected, his mother called to ask him about Chaerin. Sometimes, he really thinks that his mother, no wait, BOTH his dad and mum, loves Chaerin more than they love him. While he didn’t reveal that he already knew where she was, he was amused at how his mother kept on asking him to go look for her before someone snatched her away. Omma, don’t worry, I’m not going to let her get away again. Ever. He got into his car and though the temptation to just stay where he was and look through the messages that Chaerin had sent was there, he decided that he needed to help his members out first. He can’t let Chaerin’s effort go to waste so he needed to make sure that his members are reconciled with the girls. Looking at the phone that he put on his passenger seat, he smiled. Soon, baby, soon. I will get to see what you have been sending to me. Upon arriving at the restaurant and seeing that he was early, he told the manager that he needed a private room for 5 people. The manager quickly attended to his request and got him a room that was right at the back of restaurant. He further requested that the manager not let anyone near the room. Even when serving food, he would appreciate it if the manager did it himself. The manager understood his need for privacy but was still a little puzzled. Usually when Jiyong ate at this restaurant and wanted this level of privacy, it was usually just for 2 person. A room for 5 people meant that either the Big Bang members were joining him or he was entertaining some big shots. Jiyong settled down in the room and took out the phone. He closed his eyes

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and willed his heart to calm down. After taking a deep breath, he unlocked the phone and went into the inbox again. He scrolled right to the bottom of the screen and saw the first message. From: My HunChae <3 01 February 2013, 1pm KST

Day 1/?? This is my first day away from you, a first in more than 6 years and I have already forgotten your mantra: Leaders don’t cry. I don’t know if you would shed tears for me but always be happy! Looking at the date and time, and reading the content, he realized this message was sent possibly after she left YGE when Seungri saw her for the last time. Lee Chaerin, you have no idea how much tears I have shed since you left... Don’t make me cry again. Always be by my side and I will always be happy! He went on to the second message. From: My HunChae <3 01 February 2013, 3.30pm KST

Oppa, I know you are hurting and possibly crying. But please don’t cry. Don’t be hurt. I’d be back. I don’t know when but I will be. Will you still be there waiting? Thinking back to that day when Chaerin left, and looking at the time stamp, that was about the time when he broke down at the 2NE1 dorm. The realization that even though they were separated physically, Chaerin was still very much in tuned to his emotions. Chaerin ah, So this is what everyone had been telling me about when they say you are very in tuned to my emotions. You were going to leave me and yet you knew at that exact moment, I was hurting and crying. Did I also hurt you every time I was hurt by the other girls from the other relationships? Did I also hurt you every time I was involved in some kind of scandal? Chaerin ah, 158


Sorry... Thinking about how much pain she might have gone through even as he was going through it himself, and how much more painful it must have been, when she witnessed his pain, when he looked to her for comfort and strength, tears started to gather in his eyes. They eventually rolled down and left their trail on the screen of the phone. You cried with me, for me... All these years, you never failed to be there for me... What have I done to you... Other than hurt you time and again... Even when I told you ‘Leaders don’t cry’, You allowed me to be weak in front of you... But you never allowed me to witness your weakness... You were always so strong... I never realized how fragile you were... Baby, I’m sorry... He wiped the tears from his eyes and from the phone screen and scrolled to the next message. That was the message she sent upon arriving in Italy. When he scrolled to the bottom of the message and saw what she wrote, his tears flowed again. From: My HunChae <3 02 February 2013, 1.30am KST

Oppa, I have arrived. I miss you and everyone. But I’m excited as well. This is the beginning of a new journey for me. You will be happy for me right? I will still be looking at you, even if it’s from afar. . . . . . I love you. If you are truly happy, then I’m happy for you. But if you are just trying to make me feel better, don’t ever do it again...

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Now, every time you smile or grin at me, I’m going to make sure it’s from the heart... Jiyong realized that was the first time Chaerin has ever said ‘I love you’ to him. Though not verbally, but that was the first time she ever expressed that love openly for him. Did I make it that difficult for you to say it to me? Or were you like me? Afraid to change what we have between us? If we had been more honest with each other, would we be apart today? He was going to go to the next message when his other phone rang. He checked and saw that it was Sean calling him. He quickly wiped his tears and cleared his throat in order to hide that he had been crying. When he answered the phone and Sean asked him where he was, he told Sean to approach the manager. A few moments later, Sean and the girls came into the room. When the 2NE1 girls saw Jiyong in the room, they quickly scanned the rest of the room to see if their boyfriends were around. Jiyong saw what they did and smiled broadly to greet them. “Don’t worry, I refused to let them tag along. Have a seat! Let’s have a good meal to celebrate love and trust!!” The girls looked at Jiyong strangely, still not quite believing him until Sean spoke up. “Don’t worry girls, I spoke to Youngbae just now and told him that he was not allowed to come. Like Jiyong said, let’s enjoy ourselves. You girls went through quite an ordeal last night.” “Not as much as Chaerin unnie did.” After going through the fan mutiny themselves last night, the girls realized how scary it must have been for Chaerin to go through what she did and still continue to be strong for all of them. Although they didn’t come into close contact with the fans protesting outside their dorm, it was enough. The

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hostility and the unfriendly aura that came from them was enough to make anyone faint of heart tremble. Minzy was looking at Jiyong reproachingly, as if blaming him for all the suffering that Chaerin had to go through on his behalf. If she was in a relationship with him, Minzy won’t have felt the action against her was as unjust. But if she had gone under fire when she was not in a relationship with Jiyong, she shuddered to think how bad it might get if the fans eventually get wind of their relationship. She knew it was going to happen, she was happy for them but she can’t help worrying. “Minzy ah, oppa knows that it was unfair for Chaerin to go through all of that on her own. And I apologized for not being there for her during those encounters. I will not let it happen again.” “Jiyong oppa, do you know your tweets have caused another round of speculation? Someone posted that the placard she was carrying outside the Big Bang dorm this morning and now everyone is thinking that your tweets was targeted at that person. A new wave for finding where Chaerin unnie is has started again. Have you not learnt from last night’s event? Don’t you realize that you are putting Chaerin unnie in danger? She’s all alone in Italy without anyone to help her now since Jay oppa is back.” “Minzy, sending the tweets was the mildest reaction I had to that placard. I saw it and I was furious. I cannot believe that there are such insensitive people around, and at the same time, the realization that I have subjected Chaerin to such insults breaks my heart. I’m worried, but I can’t just up and go to her right now. She would kick my ass if she knows that I went to her without finishing up what I had to complete.” “Alright, Minzy ah, calm down. Your Jiyong oppa is as upset and scared about anyone hurting Chaerin as you are, perhaps even more. How would you feel if Daesung was in the same situation? Let’s just calm down, order our food first and we’ll talk, alright?” Sean had to step in because Minzy was visibly upset. Even though Dara had her arms around the maknae, it didn’t take the worry and anger out of Minzy’s eyes.

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Now that Minzy had told him about the discussion about the placard and his tweets, Jiyong was worried as well. He forced himself to calm down without much success. Until Bom chimed in with an observation. “Ji-kun, while there are a lot of people who are asking where Chaerin is and if she was the one you were talking about in your tweets, there were also a lot of people who were reprimanding the person with the placard. She was criticized for her actions and some rational VIPs, in fact those from your fan sites, told her off, saying that her supposed love for you is not something they could agree with. Loving you as a fan means that they would be happy for you if you are happy. Even if that means that you are in a relationship, as long as it makes you happy, they would be happy for you. Someone even made the observation that whoever you are in love with, you must be really serious about her because you took a stand. You never did before in the numerous relationship rumors you were involved in. So, good job! Now, let’s order because I’m starving and I’m usually not nice when I’m starving. Oh! I want corn!” And with that, Bom managed to soothe the tense atmosphere in the room. The 5 of them ordered the food they wanted and Sean initiated the conversation. “So, are you girls alright? Last night’s experience seemed to have left a deep impression on you girls.” “It was scary. I mean we are used to crowds and fans but last night, it was different. Usually the atmosphere is great with all the fans but...” Dara shivered at the thought of what happened last night. The 3 girls actually slept in the same room last night, afraid that something might happen. They kept up a strong front for the managers because they knew the boys would ask for an update. But the moment the managers left the apartment, the 3 of them huddled together and cried. “Then why didn’t you let YG send you girls away to a safe place?” “Because they wanted to protect the boys and to show them that they would do their part to protect their love too. It must really frustrate you girls to see how they refuse to see the beauty of your gestures right?”

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The 3 girls stared at Jiyong with unbelieving eyes, not quite trusting that he was the one who answered on their behalf. They turned to look at Sean to see if he was as startled as they were. When they saw the proud, fatherly smile on his face, they were even more shocked. “Sean oppa, is that really Jiyong-kun? Nothing happened today at YGE right, like aliens came and took him away?” “Bom noona, if aliens came, they would take you and TOP hyung away first! No, nothing happened but I have to thank you girls for last night. You made me see what trust in a relationship is. When I saw you girls walk into the building with heads held high, keeping your fears at bay, that was when I realized that Chaerin’s leaving wasn’t because she didn’t love me. In fact she loved me enough to trust that the distance between us won’t change her love for me. It was an enlightening moment, so thank you.” “Jiyong ah, that was beautiful~ If only Youngbae can see it like you do.” The other 2 girls nodded their agreement. “Dara noona, Youngbae is a very protective person. For the people he truly loves and cares about, he would rather he be the one to go through the pain and suffering. When you girls left the van, all 3 of them wanted to run after you girls. I must say that was the first time I saw all 3 of them shed tears of helplessness. They didn’t like that feeling. They want to shield you girls from any harm.” “But we want to protect them as well, in our own ways, why can’t they see it?” “They are not used to being taken care of, at least not in this way. Not to mention, last night’s event scared them as well. Although we talked about how the fans would react all the time, sometimes it’s only when we see it and experience it, then can we truly understand the impact. Daesung is really concerned about what will happen if he’s not with Minzy and she’s all alone in Japan.” “I know what I’m getting myself into and I can take care of myself. If

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Chaerin unnie can do it, so can I. Not to mention, at least I know Dae oppa loves me very much. I am still not convinced you love Chaerin unnie as much as she loves you.” Before Jiyong could reply, there was a knock on the door and the manager walked in with their food. He brought in all the dishes that they ordered and before he left, he bent down to whisper in Jiyong’s ears. Jiyong frowned and pressed his lips together, then nodded to signal to the man that he got the message. “Ji-kun, is there a problem?” “Nothing that I can’t handle, don’t worry about it. Sean hyung, Bom noona, Dara noona, Minzy, eat~” When no one moved, Jiyong sighed and decided to tell them the truth. “The boys are here. No, I didn’t tell them where we were going. I didn’t want them to be here. So I’m actually a little pissed off right now. But because I’m in good company, I’m going to let that pass, for now. I’m not going to let them spoil my mood. Don’t worry, eat. I won’t let them in here unless you girls are alright with meeting them.” That set the girls at ease and they started eating and chatting about their upcoming press conference. That’s when Jiyong remembered the chocolates from Chaerin. He quickly took it out from his bag. “I almost forgot about these! These chocolates are from Chaerin. It’s for Valentines’ I presume. There’s probably something else. I heard Seungri mentioning that Jay got a personalized chocolate from Chaerin so maybe we will get that too.” “Ooooo~~ Someone sounds jealous!!” “I’m entitled!! He got to spend more time with her in a week than I got to in a year! A week with her, out of which 4 days were spent alone in the apartment, making cookies and chocolates, writing lyrics, having rap battles! Of course I’m jealous!!” “You could have had that if you weren’t busy chasing other girls.” 164


“Minzy ah, you have got to trust your Jiyong oppa a little more. I believe he’s really sorry for everything he did to your Chaerin unnie. We just came from a meeting with YG and he’s ready to go public with the relationship if Chaerin agrees to it. Of course, he would have to get Chaerin to agree to be in a relationship with him first.” “That I’m confident of. She loves me, a lot. It’s the announcing to the public that I’m not so sure she would agree to.” “Why do you think Chaerin won’t want to go public with your relationship?” “Mainly because she is afraid of how the relationship would affect my popularity? Part of her worries is for 2NE1 as well. Which is why I’m ok if she doesn’t want to go public with our relationship yet BUT I am not going to deny that I’m in love with one special girl with marriage in mind, neither will I deny that I’m in a relationship.” “That’s brave of you. I’m not so sure if your Seunghyun hyung will be willing to do that...” “Neither am I. Sometimes I don’t know what is going through Youngbae’s head as well...” Everyone waited to see if Minzy will say something along the same line. She was busy eating her noodles when she realized everyone’s eyes were on her. After swallowing the food that was in her mouth, she replied. “I’m sure that Dae oppa would do the same thing for me if I wanted that. But right now, since I’m still young and he’s still building his career, I don’t want to think of a definite future just as yet. Not that I don’t think we would eventually get married, my heart is quite set on being with him for the rest of my life, but I don’t want to limit his option, in case he meets someone who’s more suitable for him.” “Do you not think that he loves you and wants the same thing with you?” “I know he loves me, a lot, but because we got together after the whole accident scandal, I don’t want him to have that love mixed up with gratitude. I didn’t do anything great other than stand by the man I love. For 165


him, it might be different.” “I don’t think so. You weren’t the only one who reached out to him but you were the one who stood by him. If he was only motivated by gratitude, I believe a meal or a few meals would have covered it. He was really moved by how you stuck by him. He already had feelings for you before but because you are really young, he didn’t want to make his move. Then the accident happened and all he wanted to do was push you away so you won’t get hurt. Yet, you never left his side. That was when he realized that the love he felt for you is mutual.” “Sean oppa, do you really think so?” “Minzy ah, you have always been the one who seemed to be the most sure about your relationship. Why are you having doubts now? Don’t. If it’s about yesterday, your Jiyong oppa is right. The boys are scared since it’s the first time they had come face to face with the hypothetical. All they want to do is to protect you girls. It doesn’t mean that they trust you girls any less. It just means beyond anything, they wanted to make sure you girls are safe. Even right now, if something like that were to happen to your Hye Young unnie, I would want to protect her first then deal with everything afterwards. So cut the boys so slack, they are doing it out of their love for you. I’m sure for all the bravery and flowery speech Jiyong is saying right now about trusting your Chaerin unnie to do the right thing when she meets with such situation, it would be thrown out the window when it actually happens. He would just want to wrap her up and bring her to the safest place possible.” “In my arms~ That’s where she would be the safest~!” “Owww! Ji-kun, stop! I want to enjoy my food!” “Bom noona, I learnt all these from you and TOP hyung~ The two of you are like the best aegyo king and queen despite your age.” Everyone laughed and continued with their meal. A few minutes later, Minzy’s phone beeped, then Dara’s and lastly Bom’s. Jiyong and Sean exchanged a look since they knew that it was probably the boys who were probably eavesdropping from their own private room.

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After the 3 girls read the message, they had a beautiful smile on the faces and the wariness in their eyes seemed to have disappeared. Jiyong saw it and finally asked. “So, can I let the boys in here now? Poor Seungri has like 3 anxious boyfriends to look out for since he knew that I would be furious if they were to walk into the room without my permission.” The girls looked at each other then back at Jiyong and nodded their agreement. Jiyong stood up from his seat and went to the door. Once he opened the door, he found the boys standing outside. He looked at them with an angry expression. The tense atmosphere was only broken by Seungri. “Ji hyung, can I go inside? I also want to dine with 3 beautiful girls. You can leave the other hyungs outside.” Without waiting for an answer, Seungri sauntered into the room and greeted its occupants. “Sean hyung, Bom and Dara noona, Country Bumpkin, hello~!! Wow! What a spread! Can I take a bite?” “YA! Why did you call me country bumpkin again?” “Country Bumpkin, you don’t have anyone to shield you today so I can bully you all I want.” Minzy stared at Seungri then stood up to go to the door. When her eyes met Daesung’s, she smiled. “Dae oppa, Seungri oppa bullied me again~ Come and help me deal with him!” She held out her hand to Daesung who took it without waiting another moment. Both entered the room. “Seungri, apologize to Minzy right now.” “I second that.” 167


Jiyong said loud enough for Seungri to hear. Then went back to looking at TOP and Youngbae. “Ji, you are really not going to let us in? Daesung is already inside.” “Well, Minzy came and got him. I can’t possibly stop him when she wants him to go into the room.” “Jiyong ah, I think you’d better let the other 2 into the room. We don’t want to attract more attention than needed.” Youngbae and TOP sent their silent thanks to Sean. “Alright, you may come in.” Jiyong went back to his seat, only to see that it had been occupied by Seungri. “YA! Lee Seunghyun, this is my seat! Go sit over at the other table with TOP hyung and Youngbae.” “Bom noona and Dara noona should move to the other table. Otherwise, TOP hyung and Bae hyung are just going to hover at this table since their ladies are here.” “We are not moving. Our food is here.” “We can help move your food over to the other table.” “Seungri, go and sit at the other table with Youngbae and TOP. Youngbae and TOP, go sit over then and order your food.” Youngbae and TOP looked like they were about to argue with Sean but the look on Sean’s face showed that they won’t get their way. They pulled Seungri from Jiyong’s seat and went over to the other table. They looked at Daesung enviously because Minzy was sitting on his lap and feeding him food from her own bowl. Daesung was grinning from all the attention he was getting from Minzy.

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“Daesung, move over to sit with me and Jiyong. It won’t be good if someone opens the door and see that Minzy is sitting on your lap.” “By the way, I have given your share of the Valentines’ chocolates from Chaerin to the girls. You can ask them to share if you want them.” “HYUNG! WHAT ABOUT ME?!!” Seungri shouted from the other table, dismayed to hear that the chocolates have been given out. He could understand that Jiyong had given the chocolates to the couples to share but what about his share? “Since you ate mine last year, I’m confiscating your share this year. But I would be nice and give you ONE piece of it. Here, come and get it!” “Ji hyung, that’s not fair! Everyone ate from your share!!” “Which is why I gave them to the girls. It’s up to them if they want to share it or not.” “Minzy, you will give me some right?” “Of course, Dae oppa, you are my Valentine~ Or maybe I should ask Jay oppa if he knows the recipe then I can make some for you.” “Minzy, what did I say about you calling Jay ‘oppa’? If you are going to ask him, it’s ok, I would just share the chocolates with you. And stop calling him ‘oppa’.” “But he’s an oppa to me, not to mention, anyone who Chaerin unnie trusts as a good friend, that person can be trusted. I’m sure Chaerin unnie calls him ‘oppa’ too.” Hearing this, both Jiyong and Daesung’s face turned black as coal. Sean and the 2 elder members saw that and started laughing. “Aigoo~~ Ji-kun, Daesung, it’s true that by age, both Chaerin and Minzy should be calling him ‘oppa’. And seeing that he had accompanied Chaerin for the last week, making sure that she was not alone in a new country, even I want to call him ‘oppa’. Is he going to come by the company 169


tomorrow? I would like to meet him!” “YA! PARK BOM!! You don’t even call me ‘oppa’ and now you want to go call some other guy ‘oppa’!!” Bom looked over at TOP, rolled her eyes and then looked at Jiyong for an answer to his question. “Yup~ He’s coming over in the morning. We are going to get some recording done and probably talked some more about Chaerin. I might invite him to the pension this weekend.” “HYUNG!! Not fair!! You said no strangers!!” “Seungri ah, he knows more about us than possibly some of the YGE artistes and staff. He’s not a stranger in any way.” “Jiyong ah, I’d drop by with the kids this week too. They have been wanting to see all the Big Bang and 2NE1 members. This would be a good chance to see all of you at one go.” “Sure! Come by, I already told my mum to expect us this weekend.” The manager came in to get the orders from the 4 Big Bang members. The 3 girls and Daesung started talking about all the things they wanted to do when they are at the pension. While this was going on, Youngbae and TOP kept on looking over to check on Dara and Bom. But they didn’t look up once to check on them. Both of them were getting a little impatient and Seungri was all too aware of it. He knew that Jiyong wasn’t going to help if the girls didn’t make a move. So he went to the other person he knew would be able to help: Chaerin. He sent a message to Chaerin and was glad that she didn’t delay her reply . After looking at the reply, he quickly sent the solution to both Youngbae and TOP. When the two guys got the message, they looked at Seungri shocked. Youngbae asked Seungri quietly. “Who told you to tell us to do this?” “Trust me, it’s someone who knows them very well.” 170


“So I was right, you have been in contact with Chaerin all along?!” Seungri put a finger on his lips and nodded his head towards Jiyong, telling the 2 of them to keep it down. Knowing that the tip came from Chaerin made the 2 guys feel more at ease. They looked at each other and then nodded. They called each other’s phone and then faked answering the call as if it was someone important on the other end of the line. They walked out of the room, without another look at the girls. This got the girls’ attention and all 3 of them looked up then looked at each other. Jiyong turned to look at Seungri who just smiled broadly at him and shrugged. He turned back to the girls and saw that both Bom and Dara showed signs of worry. They looked at each other, then nodded. Both of them stood up at the same time and walked hurriedly to the door. After 5 minutes, Minzy was about to go after them when the two couples walked into the room, hand in hand and looking a little breathless and their faces all showed a tinge of blush. Youngbae and TOP led Dara and Bom over to their table and chased Seungri away. Seungri walked over to Jiyong’s table with his food and was going to sit beside Minzy but was stopped by Daesung. “Seungri, you sit on this side with Ji hyung.” Seungri sat in Daesung’s seat once he vacated it and just concentrate on eating his food. Jiyong was shooting questioning glances at him because Youngbae and TOP found a solution too suddenly. “Seungri, did you tell your 2 hyungs something that caused them to know what to do?” “I just told them to use the two noonas’ weakness against them. Both Bom and Dara noona like to make them jealous but they are worse. So when they leave suddenly like that, their curiosity will be aroused, not to mention their jealous side will come out too.” “Good one!” “But not many people know that Dara and Bommie unnie has this jealous 171


side except for our members. Seungri oppa, have you been getting secret tips from Chaerin unnie?” “What are you talking about, Country Bumpkin?! How can I get any tips from Chaerin when I don’t have her phone number anymore. Jiyong hyung deleted all her numbers from my phone.” “Seungri ah! Why did you call Minzy ‘Country Bumpkin’ again?! Apologize!” “Dae hyung, you are going to spoil her by coming to her defence every time.” “She is my girlfriend, if I don’t defend her, who am I going to defend? You?” Jiyong checked the time and looked over at the occupants at the other table, who seemed to have glued themselves to each other’s side. He wanted to go home and check the rest of the messages from Chaerin but he knew that the couples just got reconciled and won’t want to leave so early. “Seungri ah, how did you guys get here?” “Youngbae hyung drove us here.” “Jiyong, I have to leave soon and I don’t think it’s wise to let anyone see the boys and the girls together after yesterday.” “I know. I think it’s best if the girls leave with you first. Youngbae would take the boys back.” “Looks like that’s the best way. Bom, Dara, we are going to leave soon.” Bom and Dara looked sad that they have to be separated from their boyfriends so quickly but knew that there was nothing they could do about it. “Don’t look so sad, you guys can meet again at the company tomorrow.” “Dae oppa, see you tomorrow then! We’ll talk later about the time ok?” Daesung gave Minzy a gentle kiss and a long hug then released her. Minzy

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gave Daesung a chocolate then decide to bribe Seungri. “Seungri oppa, here’s a chocolate for you.” Seungri looked at Minzy suspiciously but he wanted the chocolate so bad that he took it from her immediately. “OK~! I take that as you would agree to go out with me and Daesung oppa tomorrow! I would buy you lunch and you can have half of the chocolates.” “What?! What just happened?” “Well, I want to go on a date with Dae oppa but we can’t go alone and we can’t let anyone in the company know about our relationship. So the best option is to have you come along.” “YA! Country Bumpkin, you are using me!” “You can call me Country Bumpkin all you want but please come out with us!” “Wa~ Gong Minji! You are a smart girl!” “Persuade your Chaerin unnie to have a meal with me ALONE when she comes back and I’d agree to it!” “CALL! Chaerin unnie will help me out!” “YA! Lee Seunghyun! How can you do that?!!” “Jiyong oppa, it’s just a meal! Didn’t you say you trust Chaerin unnie’s love for you. What’s more it’s a meal with one of your members, what’s the big fuss? Don’t worry, Seungri oppa, you will get that meal with Chaerin unnie.” “Minzy ah...” “Dae oppa, it will be alright, trust me. Ji oppa, don’t worry, Chaerin unnie will be safe.” “What time should I meet you tomorrow?”

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“Dae oppa will let you know later. Dara unnie, Bommie unnie, let’s go!” The girls left with Sean after saying their goodbyes. All the boys sat down at the same table after the girls left. “Seungri, thanks for the tip! Otherwise, we would not have reconciled with our girls.” “No worries~” “Are you really going out on the date with Dae and Minzy tomorrow?” “Of course! They did make it impossible to refuse. Minzy is a good negotiator.” “Ya! You used Minzy to get a meal alone with Chaerin without asking me!” “Oh, Ji hyung, it’s just a meal! It’s not like I’m going to sweep her off her feet! We would probably end up squabbling!” “You sound like you actually look forward to that!” “I do! It’s so fun to irritate her! You have no idea!” “Ji hyung, for me and Minzy, please!” “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to allow it, I just didn’t like him using Minzy to get what he wants.” “I also want to go on a date with my alien!” “TOP hyung, I’m going to lock you in the studio tomorrow. But don’t worry, looks like Bom noona wants to come in for the recording. Guess with Jay around, the two of you can’t get up to anything naughty. Are you guys done with dinner? If you are, let’s go home.” “Ji hyung is forever in a hurry to go home these days. Hyung, it’s not like Chaerin is at home waiting for you, relax. Let’s go for ice-cream!”

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Jiyong patted the pocket where he put the phone and smiled. Oh yes, I’m going home to Chaerin. “Oooo! Ice-cream! I want ice-cream!!” “Alright, you guys can go for ice-cream, I’m going home. I’d settle the bill on the way out. Youngbae, you make sure they all get back safely, without causing any trouble, especially that panda. And maknae, you are to make sure that your hyungs do not sneak off to see the girls! I have to remind all of you to still stay alert.” “You are really not joining us?” “Nope, I have to be at the recording studio early tomorrow. Dae, get Minzy to meet you at the company before going on your date tomorrow.” “Ok, Ji hyung. Drive safe!” “I will! See you guys later!” With that, Jiyong left the boys to decide where they want to go for their icecream binge, paid the bill for dinner and drove back to the dorm first. As he drove off, he could see there were cars following him. But he paid them no heed since he was going back to the dorm. He did send Youngbae a message to tell him that there were people following him so they have to be careful about where they are going. He was glad that Sean came with them and he was able to send the girls home. No one is going to suspect anything is going on with Sean around. Even if the 2 groups had dinner together, it was alright since he’s considered the management of the company. When he arrived back at the dorm, he showered quickly and then got ready for bed. He smiled at his new routine of going to bed early and getting to work early. He would never have thought it possible but it was just a matter of changing his old habits into new ones. After making sure he had everything he needed for tomorrow, he settled down in bed with his new treasure and thought that it really felt good to come back home to someone, even if she’s 5545.5 miles away from him.

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Soon, darling, soon~ I’d be holding you in my arms~ Before he started reading the text, he sent a message to Chaerin. To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 12 February 2013 10.30pm KST

Chaerin baby~ I had a good day today! We wrote a bunch of lyrics and tunes for the collaboration with Jay and will start recording tomorrow. If everything goes well, we should have the raw track by the end of the day. Once that’s done, we just need to show the album to the boss and do post-production. One step closer to seeing you again! I talked to YG today about us and our relationship. I suggested a solo world tour as a ‘thank you and goodbye’ gesture for my fans. I have decided that once I’m done with the tour, I’m going to be less active as a solo artiste. We also talked about going public with our relationship. The boss is ok with it as long as you are ok. Darling, I want you to know that I’m prepared to go public with our relationship if you say ok to it but even if you do not want to yet, I’m going to make it known that I’m in love with one special girl whom I’m going to marry when she says ‘yes’ to my proposal. Not going to hide what is real, I don’t think I can hide it anyway. Every time I think of you, a smile will appear on my face. You make me happy, very happy! I hope it’s the same for you too. We’ll talk more when we meet, ok? Oh yes! My mum called today to ask about you again~ She kept saying that I have to go look for you so you won’t be snatched away by other guys. You won’t right? You will wait for me and at least give me a chance to convince you how much I love you right? You have to. The couples are reconciled so you don’t have to worry about them. You take care of yourself and if any situation that even hint at you being in danger arises, please call! If I find out you were in a dangerous situation and you didn’t call, I’m going to tie you up and bring you back to Korea! I love you baby, see you soon!

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He put away the phone and scrolled down to where he stopped that evening before Sean and the girls turned up at the restaurant.

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Chapter 66 12 February 2013 Seoul, 9.30pm Over at the restaurant, the remaining 4 members were still a little taken back that Jiyong had left early to go home. “Ji has really changed a lot hasn’t he? He feels so settled down these days.” “I like Ji hyung like that. He’s not as angry or unhappy as before. Love does change a person, the right kind of love.” “I’m still wondering if Chaerin would accept him. Speaking of which, Seungri, are you in contact with her?” “Yes. Why do you think I know what to do when Ji hyung was upset or when TOP hyung was behaving like a baby when he refused to stay still in the gym the other day? Even today, it was because I sent her an SOS message. But please don’t tell Ji hyung. Let me have this little secret with Chaerin, ok?” “Fine, seeing how that connection helped us today, we’ll keep it a secret for you.” Youngbae’s phone beeped and he thought it might be Dara messaging him. But when he saw that it was Jiyong, he was a little disappointed. The content of the message irritated him further. “Ji just messaged to say that there were cars following him when he left and told us to be careful when we leave the restaurant. Luckily, Sean hyung was with us and left with the girls, otherwise, last night might repeat itself.” “Speaking about that, we never got to talk to the girls about last night. Guess it will have to wait till tomorrow. But I think it would be good to talk about how we would want to reveal our relationship to the public when the time comes. Seems like they were feeling insecure about our relationship from what we overheard just now. But let’s go for ice-cream now and worry about that tomorrow!” The 4 of them got up and left the restaurant to go to an ice-cream cafe nearby. And true enough, as they drove off, 4 cars started following them. 178


“Well, looks like we have been marked by the fans and maybe paparazzi. Dae, you have to be careful tomorrow when you go out with Minzy.” “I don’t even know if that’s a good idea. I would rather be on the safe side. I’m content just staying at home with her but if she wants to go out, we’ll go out. We have Seungri with us anyway.” “Yes, we will have to give fan-fiction writers materials to fuel their imagination about a love triangle between the 3 of us.” TOP and Youngbae laughed at the statement while Daesung looked at Seungri weirdly, like why would anyone think that. They arrived at the icecream cafe, got out of the car and went into the cafe. Of course, their arrival caused quite a stir. They got their ice-creams, waved and smiled before leaving the cafe. They had wanted to eat at the cafe but changed their minds since their managers weren’t with them. Also, they heard murmurs of the girls’ names. So they didn’t want to risk it. “Well, that was eventful. No wonder Ji didn’t want to tag along.” “We got our ice-cream, that’s all it matters, to me anyway.” “Yes, we know how ice-cream is your second life, TOP hyung. But I’m undecided about whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the girls’ names are so readily associated with us. It was almost as if they were expecting to see the girls as well.” “Well, that’s to be expected. Even though last night’s events didn’t make it to the media, it still created enough buzz. Sometimes, I really wish my life would be simpler, yet I won’t want to give up the stage and all the other opportunities I have gotten from being a member of Big Bang.” “No matter what, I guess we can only go back to the dorm now. Dae, I really think you should try to dissuade Minzy from her crazy idea of going out on a date tomorrow.” “But Bae hyung, actually the idea has its own merits as well. If they are not seen as a couple but as friends, it might actually help to quieten down this recent interest about romantic relationships between the 2 groups.” 179


“Seungri, you have a point but why do I feel like you are only saying this because you want the dinner alone with Chaerin?” “Hyung~~ I’m serious! How can you doubt me!” “Ok~ Ok~ Whatever you say maknae~! Just don’t get on Ji’s nerves when you finally have that date with Chaerin. He will skin you alive if you touch his darling. He told me this morning that he was going to propose to her when he sees her next.” “Whoa~! Hold it right there! Did you just say that Ji is going to propose to Chaerin when he sees her next? Wow~ I didn’t see that coming, at least not that fast.” “Please, TOP hyung, why are you surprised? He’s already married. Didn’t you see how he kept looking at his watch just now, like it was getting too late and he had to get home as soon as he can. He didn’t ask for alcohol at all today. He usually does when we eat at that restaurant together. He’s a changed man!” “And it’s not a good thing because?” “It’s a fantastic thing. I like it!” “Me too!” TOP helped to hold onto Youngbae’s ice cream while he drove them back to the dorm. Only when the car stopped at the traffic light, would Youngbae take the cup from TOP and eat his ice-cream. Without them actually realizing it, they have all settled down to some extent. They didn’t just think of themselves anymore. About the time when the Big Bang members were getting their ice-cream, Jiyong had started to read Chaerin’s replies. Upon reading the 2nd message after the ones he read in the restaurant, he realized he needed his phone to check the content of the messages that he sent to her. But the first message already got his tears swimming in his eyes. He held it in and tried not to cry. 180


From: My HunChae <3 02 February 2013, 10.15am KST

Oppa, I dreamt of you just now. I saw Gaho too. I saw you crying and it made me cry in my sleep. Oppa, don’t cry. You have to be strong. Fighting! He thought back and remembered that this was when he found out that she left a video for the 2NE1 girls. He had broken down because it felt like she was determined to cut him off. His emotions were really raw at that time because of her sudden departure. Don’t cry... I can’t bear it... You cried in your sleep because you saw me crying... If that’s the case, why did you leave me? If it was going to hurt you even when you are far away, why did you leave? Don’t cry anymore, please... As if he could sense his father’s mood, Gaho walked over to Jiyong and climbed onto the bed and sat next to him. Very naturally, Jiyong stretched out his hand to pat Gaho. Seeing the next message that Chaerin sent to him, Jiyong looked at his phone to see what was the message he sent to her. To: CL 02 February 2013 1.05pm KST

Chaerin ah, I’m sorry. If you get the message, please reply and let me know. Don’t cut me off. From: My HunChae <3 02 February 2013, 1.15pm KST

Oppa, I have received your message. I am sorry too. For now, I can’t contact you directly because I’m afraid my heart will waver. But the day you see this message, then maybe you would be ready to meet me again. Stay strong oppa. Leaders don’t cry. Why did you put yourself through so much pain? Why? No more, alright baby? No more pain.

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Jiyong looked at the next message that he sent to Chaerin, frowned and wondered why he never really realized the empty spot beside him when Chaerin was not beside him. Oh right... I always try to fill the empty space with people who would distract me... If only for a while... To: CL 02 February 2013 8.20pm KST

Day 2 of you not being by my side. I have not felt this empty before. Did you always feel this way when I’m not looking at you? Chaerin ah, I’m sorry. The reply from Chaerin made Jiyong gasp. He blinked real fast so that his tears won’t fall. From: My HunChae <3 02 February 2013 8.23pm KST

Oppa, When you are not looking at me, I feel the pain. When you are beside me, I don’t feel you. But I still love you. No matter what. Don’t hurt. We’ll see each other again. At this, Jiyong actually became a little doubtful about his own love for Chaerin. He questioned if he would be able to bear the hurt if he had been in her position. Lee Chaerin, You are absolutely amazing! When he went on to the next message, he saw it was the picture of Gaho that he sent to Chaerin. Looking at the picture and looking at the dog who was resting its head on his thigh, he smiled.

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“Gaho ah, you would be very happy to see your Chaerin omma too right? Appa can’t wait to see her. Should I bring you with me to Italy?” And just as suddenly as the thought came to him, an idea started to take root in his head. He smiled to himself and patted Gaho on his head. He took out the notebook that he had written ideas on how to woo Chaerin back into his life and start scribbling down the idea that just popped into his mind. He smiled at the idea as he imagined the look of surprise on Chaerin’s face. Chaerin ah, I really can’t wait to see you again. I want to see you smile at me... I want to see your tears when I ask you to be mine... I want to wipe away your tears as you wiped away mine... To: CL 03 February 2013, 3.30am KST

Don’t hide from me, please. I can’t take it. Just one message. I just want to know you are safe. He read the next message that he sent to Chaerin and remembered how he tossed and turned in bed because he was just not used to Chaerin ignoring him. On top of that, he was worried that she was serious about cutting him out of her life. Then, he remembered how he managed to always talk to her when he called her and make her sing a lullaby for him. No matter how tired she was or how angry she might have been with him, that childish request would always work. To: CL 03 February 2013, 4.40am KST

Chaerin ah... I can’t sleep. I remembered whenever I can’t sleep in the past, I would call you and you would pick up my call and then sing me a lullaby. I miss your voice. Would you sing me a song? Looking back, if he had received a message from her then, he would leave 183


everything behind in Korea and fly to where she was. While that action might have been motivated by love, he suspected it would have been more out of fear. His approach would have been aggressive and it would have pushed Chaerin further away from him. Worse, she could have run to a different place and cutting all ways of communications with him. At least now, reading through her messages, he knew that she missed him as well, and even when she was away, she was loving him in her own way. When he saw the reply that Chaerin sent to him, he quickly opened the audio file attached to it. As her voice came out softly through the phone, Jiyong let out an ironic laugh, smiled then blinked to let the tears that had filled his eyes roll down his cheeks. He patted Gaho’s head, which had perked up the moment he heard Chaerin’s voice and wanted to walk out of the room. From: My HunChae <3 03 February 2013, 4.45am KST

Oppa, This is the lullaby that you want me to sing for you. It’s not my best but it’s how I’m feeling right now. Sleep well. . . . . . I miss you, really. [with recording of GD’s ‘Missing You’] To: CL 03 February 2013, 4.50am KST

Chaerin ah... You can’t be the only one to sing all the time. Let oppa sing for you once. Listen to the lyrics. This is how I feel now. I miss you... so much so much... They had sang the same song to each other. The lyrics really suited their

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situation. So many things to say yet there’s no one to say it to. For Jiyong, he had always gone to Chaerin whenever something was bothering him. Chaerin used to go to him for everything, from how awful she was feeling about herself to how happy she was when she got something that mildly resembled recognition from YG. She used to talk to him about her dreams. The one thing she never talked to him about was the guys in her life. He remembered her trying to tell him once about this crush she had on one of her seniors and he told her to shut up. Thinking back, he was really selfish because he always thought that it was alright for him to share about his relationships. He never thought about how Chaerin must have felt every single time he was gushing over a new girl. To: My Jingyo Oppa<3 03 February 2013, 5.05am KST

Oppa... You are not playing fair... My heart is being torn in two... One side wants to believe that you are missing me.. The other side doesn’t want to believe it... What should I do? Believe it baby, I really miss you... Then and now. The Big Bang boys came back at that moment and Seungri came running into the room and jumped onto Jiyong’s bed without any warning. Gaho growled at him for disturbing the quiet moment and Jiyong almost did the same thing. “YA!! Maknae!! What the hell were you thinking?!! You could have caused serious injury by jumping on me like that!” “Ji hyung, don’t worry, I was aiming for Gaho!” Hearing his name coming out from Seungri’s mouth caused Gaho to bark at Seungri and when Seungri tried to pat him on his head, Gaho almost bite his hand. “HYUNG! Your dog almost bit me!”

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“Almost, which means he didn’t manage to. You had better pray that Chaerin doesn’t hear about this. Otherwise, you will hear no end of her nagging.” “She’s not going to know. After all, she’s all the way in Italy and unless you tell her, she is never ever going to know.” “I’d tell her just to see how she would skin you alive. It would be so fun to watch. The cat tearing the dog apart, I’m already looking forward to it.” Seungri looked at Jiyong as he patted Gaho to soothe him. There was a smile on his face from thinking about what Chaerin would say and do to Seungri if she knew that their son was almost hurt by Seungri. Looking at the smile on Jiyong’s face, Seungri smiled too. “Hyung, you are right, you can’t possibly hide that you are in love. If you used to have a thousand-watt smile, it’s now a million-watt smile and it’s so blinding. If you use this smile, I’m sure you can get any girls to drop their pant...” “Don’t you dare clog Gaho’s ears with your rubbish. That smile is only there because of one girl, and for one girl only and that’s Lee Chaerin. I don’t care what it would do to other girls as long as they know it’s not for them or because of them.” “You do know that they would wish that that smile is FOR them and BECAUSE OF them right?” “Nope~ Because I will make it very clear that it’s not. Seungri ah, I’m not joking about coming out in the open and say that I’m in love with ONE girl. The only thing stopping me from saying it out loud now is the fact that I’m not with Chaerin to protect her from everything, anything that might come her way once the news is out. I didn’t say this last night but seeing the fans gathering in front of the girls’ dorm and hearing what she went through scares the living daylight out of me. I can’t imagine putting her in such danger.” “Then why didn’t you add your voice to ours when the girls refused to be moved to a safe place? They would have listened.”

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“Yes, why not?” Seungri and Jiyong looked up to see TOP, Youngbae and Daesung at his door. It was TOP who asked the question. “I think it’d be better if the girls tell you themselves.” “Would you have been so calm if Chaerin was around?” “If Chaerin was around, we won’t even have made the trip back to YGE. She would have called YG and told him that they were going to stay at the dorm to show that there was nothing going on.” “And you would have let her do it?” “Hell, no! We would have gotten into a fight but in the end, she is still going to have her way. I would be sent away with 2 options: 1 is to go back home and wait for her call, 2 would be to go back to YGE to work on something to take my mind off the situation while waiting for her to call.” “Why would you agree to leave then, if we were to assume that happened?” “Because she would have threatened to ignore me for a long time until I begged and say I won’t do anything like that again. She would have been able to reason out that they won’t come to any harm if the fans saw that there was really nothing going on. If we continued to stay, it would just make things worse.” “We could have said that we were doing our parts as seniors to protect our juniors.” “And how would that have helped?” The boys took a moment to think about what TOP just proposed as an excuse to stay around with the girls. After a while, they realized that it was not the perfect solution because then they would have to make sure that they treat every one of their juniors in the same manner and that’s impossible. All of them let out a sigh at the realization that there was really nothing they could do in that situation.

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“Is there really nothing we can do? It’s just so ridiculous to feel so helpless when it comes to protecting the person that we love. It’s like if we protect them, it will bring them more harm.” “TOP hyung, Youngbae and Daesung, I suggest you guys have a really serious talk about where you see your relationship with your girlfriend is going and decide TOGETHER on a plan. At least if you know where you are heading and what is the general plan, both parties know how to act and react to the different situations. The girls need the reassurance, especially Dara and Bom noona. Don’t let them tell you everything is alright and leave it as that. Last night scared them as well so not everything is alright.” “Are you really serious about proposing to Chaerin when you see her in Italy?” “Of course I am! I won’t talk about it if I’m not serious about carrying it through. I haven’t thought of the details yet but it’s definitely something that I’m going to do. Do you think I should get the ring first or should I propose then get her the ring that she wants?” “Ji hyung, both of you have very similar tastes. If it’s something that you like and think is suitable for her, then it would be good enough. I always thought that engagement ring should be a surprise. Knowing what you are going to get just spoils all the fun.” “Get something unique or you can design one for her. Then it would be a one of a kind ring!” “That’s a great idea, Dae, thanks! I’d look into that.” “Should we be looking at rings too for our girl?” “If it’s what you want. If you are not sure about where the relationship is heading then it’s best not to give any false hopes. Take it slow if that’s the case.” “So says the person who’s not even officially in a relationship. He must be really confident of himself.” “You are wrong, hyung, it’s not me that I have confidence in, it’s Chaerin’s 188


love for me that I’m confident in. To be honest, I won’t be surprised if she rejects me the first time I ask because even I would be doubtful about my love if I were her.” “But you are still going to ask anyway?” “Youngbae, you have known me for a long time, once I make up my mind about something, I’d see it through to the end. Asking her to marry me or be together with me with marriage in mind is to prepare her, not me. If she says no the first time, I’d give her time to come to terms with what I’m proposing. Eventually, she will see that I’m serious about it and then she will have to make a decision.” “How long are you prepared to wait?” “Till she says yes. I made her wait for 6 years for me to come to my decision, the least I could do is let her take her time to decide.” Just as TOP was about to say something, a beep can be heard from Jiyong’s ‘secret phone’. Just hearing the beep made Jiyong smile and he reached for the phone on his bed. Before he could actually check what’s the message, Seungri realized that it was a different phone from the one that Jiyong has and he asked. “Ji hyung, did you get a new phone? What happened to your phone? And why did you get an old model? That phone was at least 2 years ago.” Jiyong didn’t bother answering Seungri and went ahead to check the reply from Chaerin to his latest message. He broke out laughing after reading the first line. “Jiyong, Seungri asked you a question. Is that a new phone?” Jiyong tore his eyes from the phone and look at Youngbae, grinned and then waved the phone to and fro for a bit. “This, my brothers, is my prize. I have waited a long time for this. Well, it’s not been very long but it’s something that I really wanted.” “Must be connected to Chaerin, otherwise he won’t be grinning like a cat. 189


Spill! Where did you get that phone from? And what ‘magic’ powers does it have?” “This is the secret mailbox that I didn’t know of till today. It was with Chaerin and she left it with Boss when she left for Italy. I just got it today after being put through an interrogation with Boss and Sean hyung.” “So now you can actually send messages directly to her and get a reply?” “She has been getting my messages and replying to this number instead. So now I can actually read her replies.” “Was that why you were in a hurry to come back home today? To see what she has been sending to you?” Jiyong nodded. “I want to keep it a secret that I already got this secret mailbox. So if any of you or your girlfriend is in contact with Chaerin, I would appreciate it if you can keep the secret. I just want to see her real response to my messages.” When Jiyong was making the appeal, his eyes were fixed on Seungri. He had suspected before that Seungri was in contact with Chaerin but today’s incident at the restaurant confirmed that he was. Minzy was right, no one knew that Bom and Dara had a jealous side. Whoever told them to use that must be someone close to the two of them. Jiyong did consider if he should confront Seungri about it. If it was before, he would have but now that he has gotten the ‘secret’ phone and has a direct contact with Chaerin, he didn’t mind it as much. “Ji hyung, why are you staring at me like that? I’m not in contact with that cat!” The others looked away sheepishly, and hoping silently that Jiyong won’t call Seungri’s bluff. “I know the rest of your hyungs would be able to keep a secret but I’m not too sure about you. Alright, if there’s nothing else, I would like to go back to reading my secret mails. See you all in the morning. TOP hyung, we’ll meet at 11am tomorrow before Jay joins us at 1pm. Jay messaged me just now to 190


say that he has to go for a photoshoot for SNL tomorrow morning. Do you want to tell Bom noona or should I tell her myself?” “Do we really need Bom to be around tomorrow? She’s going to fan-girl over Jay and I don’t think I can stomach that.” “She wanted to be there, so I think you should still tell her about it. Then tell her that you hope she won’t go too crazy over him because you would be jealous.” “How can I say that?! That’s so embarrassing!!” “Would you rather get into a fight with her then? If you don’t tell her how you feel, then you can’t blame her for what she does.” “I think Ji hyung should go and write a book now. The title would be ‘Be Honest With Your Love’. He has become a guru overnight!” All of them laughed at Seungri’s statement. After that, everyone gave Jiyong a pat on his back and then left his room. After the members left, Jiyong looked at the most recent message from Chaerin and burst out laughing at the first sentence but grew solemn as he read the rest of the message. From: My HunChae <3 13 February 2013 12.15am KST

Oppa! Are you writing an essay? That was a long message!! But.. It really feels good to get a message from you everyday, telling me what is happening with you. It’s strange that now that we are so far apart, I actually feel much closer to you than before. In fact, I feel like this is the closest we have ever been with each other. Because we are being so honest with each other for the first time in all the years we have known each other. In the past, it seems like we are always trying to hide something from each other. Would it have been any different if we have been more honest right from the beginning? It’s something I have been thinking a lot lately. Oppa... when we meet again, let’s be this honest with each other alright? While we can’t shout ‘I love you’ to the world, but what is 191


important is when we shout ‘I love you’ to each other. Because the commitment of love is between us, and not subjected to the judgement of the world. Oppa, I miss you. Oppa, I miss you. Oppa, I love you. Goodnight~ Jiyong smiled, for it’s true. For the first time, in the many years they have known each other, they are being honest to each other as Kwon Jiyong and Lee Chaerin. No pretense, no hiding behind their stage personality, just two people in love, pouring out their hearts to each other. He hugged the phone to his chest, hoping that he could hold Chaerin in his arms soon.

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Chapter 67 14 February 2013 YGE Main Lobby Today was the press conference for the remaining 2NE1 members. Jiyong had finally finished the recording for TOP’s album. The collaboration track with Jay had met with great approval from YG and the publicity team was already briefed on the collaboration and YG had instructed them that it should be widely publicized before the release. Bom came to the studio with the other 2 members the day before and they spent some time with Jay, getting to know him and find out about how Chaerin was doing. During their conversation, Jay let slip that they might be collaborating on their next album, shocking the 2NE1 members, Jiyong and TOP. Suffice to say, Jiyong wasn’t too happy about it and when he wanted Jay to give more details, he just smiled and say the time would come for everything to be revealed. Although 2NE1 members were surprised but they were also looking forward to it as well. The Big Bang members had gathered in the dance studio that had been converted into a dressing room for the press conference. The 3 boyfriends were soothing their girlfriend’s nerves and kept reassuring them that everything would be alright. Jiyong looked at his watch to check the time. Seeing that it was about 5.30am in Italy, he ventured out of the dressing room to send Chaerin a message. To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 14 February 2013 1.30pm KST

Baby, are you awake? The press conference is about to start. Your girls are a pack of nerves because they are not sure how the fans would respond. The boys have been trying to reassure them without much success. Do something? Otherwise I’m afraid your oppas are going to go on stage with them. And... Happy Valentines’ my love~!

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The next one, we will be together. See you later, in the video! Jiyong stayed outside the dance studio for a while. He could see the anxiety on the couples’ faces and he didn’t really know how to deal with it. If it was a performance, he would know what to say to his members but this was more personal and it involved the 2NE1 members. While they have a good relationship, he can’t really say that he’s close to them. YG saw Jiyong standing outside the dance studio and walked up to him. “Jiyong ah, what are you doing outside here?” Jiyong looked up to see his boss looking at him with a slight grin on his face. YG had viewed the video that Jay had edited for Jiyong and thought that Jay did a great job with the video. He can’t wait to see Jiyong’s reaction but he knew he can’t let Jiyong see the video now. “Sajangnim, the girls are really anxious and the boys look a little helpless, not knowing how to console them. I don’t know how to either. I just sent Chaerin an SOS.” “If you have sent her a message, don’t worry, she will come through for them.” “She will, won’t she? The ever-reliable girl that she is.” Just then, YG’s phone beeped and when he saw the message, he smiled. “Here we go. Your girl just sent a video for the girls. Let’s go show it to them.” “Why would she send it to you and not to them personally?” “Don’t ask me. I don’t always know what is going through her mind. Maybe she didn’t want anyone to have a way to contact her?” YG walked into the room and saw that the girls really needed the reassurance. He made the right decision when he told them that they would not perform as 2NE1 without Chaerin. When the girls saw YG walk into the 194


room, they all stood up and moved away from their boyfriends. “Here’s something to soothe your nerves.” YG played the video and handed his phone over to Dara while Minzy and Bom gathered around her. When they saw that it was a video from Chaerin, Minzy broke out in tears. The 2 elder members also had tears in their eyes. “Aigoo! Minzy ah, you must be crying right now. Dae oppa, quick get her a tissue and help her wipe her tears. Dara and Bommie unnie, you too! You can’t have the stylist unnie re-do your make-up. There’s not enough time. Don’t worry, everything would be ok. Have faith in the fans. They would be alright with the arrangement. People who do not want to see us develop ourselves in other areas and are simply satisfied with the present us need to know that Neverland doesn’t exist. And remember, we don’t owe them our lives. We stand on stage because we love it. Just because they follow us everywhere, show their love, give us gifts, etc doesn’t mean that they have a right to decide what we want to do with our lives. So, go out there and show how excited you are about the new paths that you are about to embark on. I’m sure with the Big Bang oppas by your side, you will be absolutely fine. I’d be watching the LIVE streaming so I’m there in spirit as well, alright?! Ready? 1, 2, 3! Nolza!” The 3 members stacked their hands on top of each other, joined by the Big Bang members and then cheered ‘Nolza!’ at exactly the same time that Chaerin said it in the video. After the video ended, Daesung took a tissue and wiped off Minzy’s tears. Youngbae and TOP also passed tissue to Dara and Bom. “Sajangnim, can you send us the video?” Minzy put in the request because she really missed Chaerin a lot and what Chaerin said in the video would serve as a good reminder to her, especially when the going gets tough. “I will. Now, go get ready. The media people are already here doing their set-up. We really do not need them catching you girls with red, teary eyes.

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I’m going to go check with the technicians to make sure that they have the video from Chaerin and that it’s working fine.” “Yes, sajangnim!!” The girls went over to their stylists and got their make-up touched up. The boys stood at a distance, knowing that their girlfriends were feeling better about the press conference. They looked over to where Jiyong was standing with YG. He looked like he was begging him for something. They walked over. “Sajangnim, send me the video now! And can I also have a copy of Chaerin’s video for the press conference? You said you would give it to me.” “Jiyong ah, I would send the video to you and you will have a copy of her video as well. Now, would you let me go?” “I want the video now! It won’t take you more than a few minutes.” “Kwon Jiyong, last warning. I could always take back what I promised.” “Ji hyung, you can wait a while. You have already seen the one that was shown to the girls and you will see the other video at the press conference later.” “Seungri is right, for once. Ok, if you boys are going down to the press conference later, please go and make yourself presentable as well. You look like you have been through war, especially the 3 of you!” YG pointed at Youngbae, Daesung and TOP, then turned to Jiyong. “You too!” After saying that, YG turned and left. Jiyong and the rest of the boys went over to the stylists and let them do whatever was needed to make them presentable. Jiyong was still sulking and was playing with the idea to send Chaerin a message. He started a message then decided not to send it, but picked up his phone again and continued staring at his phone. Suddenly, his ‘secret mailbox’ beeped and he quickly retrieved it from his 196


pocket. When he saw the message, he grinned. From: My HunChae <3 14 February 2013 1.45pm KST

Oppa~ Happy Valentines’ Day! I love you! PS: Stop sulking! I’m sure you will get what you want from Boss eventually. Chaerin ah, you are really amazing~! “Did you just get another of your ‘secret mail’ from Chaerin? You are smiling like you have just won the lottery.” Jiyong didn’t say anything but his mood was definitely different from a minute ago. He joked with the stylist, telling her not to make him look like a superstar that day. He just wants to look like Kwon Jiyong, not G-Dragon. The stylist lifted an eyebrow but smiled. After being tidied up by the stylists, the boys went to the girls and gave them a quick hug as encouragement and told them that they would be watching at the back after they are on stage. The girls nodded, their worries lifted after seeing the video from Chaerin. The boys went to Teddy’s studio to chill but they were surprised to see YG and Jay in the studio. Jiyong was a little unsettled because he remembered that Jay mentioned a collaboration with 2NE1. While he likes Jay, that didn’t extend to him being comfortable with him in close quarters with Chaerin. “Hi Jay! What’s up bro?” “Hi Youngbae, I’m here to see Teddy hyung and your boss.” Everyone turned to look at the boss and Teddy, waiting for them to shed light on what is happening. “He’s here to work on the song that Chaerin wrote. Since it was his idea that it be used for Bom, we thought it’s only right that he be here to assist in the production of the track. Chaerin wanted Jay to be involved since he was 197


there when she wrote the song.” Teddy’s face showed mild surprise at what YG just said but quickly covered it up. Jay’s face was a mask which no one could read. The unsettling feeling inside Jiyong didn’t go away and he was about to ask more when YG spoke up. “It’s almost time for the press conference. Shall we go? Teddy, you talk to Jay and decide on when is a good time for Bom to come in for the recording. I have talked to the publicity team about releasing this track before TOP’s album so it’d be good if you can give me an approximate date that the track would be completed.” “I’ll let you know as soon as possible. Jiyong ah, I heard we are all having a company retreat at your parents’ pension?” “Yes we are, hyung, drop by if you can. Jay, you are invited too. We will all be there from today through the weekend. Let me know when you are arriving.” “Sure thing, thanks for the invitation! I’d let you know. Can you send me the address?” Jiyong sent a quick message to Jay with the address and then YG gathered the boys and left Teddy’s studio. After they left, Jay looked at Teddy with a measure of surprise on his face. “Is YG serious about releasing the song for Bom? I mean I came here to discuss the 2NE1 collaboration with you and the boss. I didn’t expect to be pulled into the production of Bom’s track as well.” “It’s something he had to say instead of introducing you as the co-producer for the next 2NE1 album. The boys will freak out, especially Jiyong. But I guess now you would have to help with Bom’s track too. Is that a problem?” “Not really. My boss leaves me to do what I want to do. Bommie noona is one singer I wanted to work with but never had the chance. But since Chaerin opened the door to YGE for me, I would grab whatever opportunities I have. It would be fun.”

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“Then that’s all settled. So what did you and Chaerin discuss about their next album?” With that, Jay and Teddy got into a discussion about 2NE1’s next album. The press conference was about to start when YG stepped in. The Big Bang members didn’t want the attention to be on them so they decided to watch the press conference from the control room. The moment YG walked in, there was a hushed silence, followed almost immediately by cameras and flashlights. Questions were being shouted but YG just walked to the front and sat down. The PR manager in-charge of this event took the cue from YG’s entrance, got onto stage and gave a brief on what the press conference was about and what the media could expect. 2NE1 members were then brought onto stage. Another round of flashlights and cameras clicking went off as the girls stepped onto stage. It did look a little empty without Chaerin but the girls smiled beautifully and confidently. Once the commotion died down, the room was darkened and the video that Chaerin sent was played. The girls held hands while watching the video and saw their leader show off her sketches to make people understand that she has the passion and talent for fashion design and she would like to have the fans’ support in this endeavor that she’s starting. After the video ended, the PR manager prompted each of the 2NE1 members to talk about their own plans. The excitement and anticipation that each member had when they talked was enough to convince the press that this was something that the members wanted for themselves. Fans watching the LIVE broadcast online were a little dismayed at the fact that each of the members would be concentrating on individual activities for a while but knowing that 2NE1 was not going to be disbanded nor would they have a new leader set their minds at ease. Their feelings of relief were spread throughout the Internet, through social media. Well-wishes started pouring in and it would seem that everything was well, at least for now. The press conference ended and the girls went back to the dance studio to get out of their ‘stage’ outfits. The boys went to meet them at the studio too. They had discussed about arriving at Dolce Vita and decided that Jiyong

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would go on his own. He would check to see if Jay wanted to tag along with him in his car. Youngbae would go in Daraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s car with Bom and TOP. They would be in-charge of getting the food and drinks. Daesung, Seungri and Minzy will go in Daesungâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s car. They were in-charge of planning the activities. Before the whole group set off, they all received a message from YG.

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Chapter 68 14 February 2013 YGE 4.30pm KST Members from both groups took out their phones to check the message. From: YG Sajangnim 14 February 2013 4.30pm KST

I know you are all excited to start your Valentines’ weekend. But before you leave, please come to my office. The last part of Chaerin’s Valentine Day’s gift awaits you. All of them, including Jiyong, was super excited to know that there was another gift from Chaerin. Once they were in their casual wear and ready to start their weekend, they went up to YG’s office. “I wonder what the last gift is! Would it be personalized chocolate like what Jay got?” “Whatever it is, it’s going to be daebak!” “We have to remind sajangnim to send us the video. I believe we all need it to remind ourselves when the going gets tough.” “I’ve got to say, the stage does feel different without Chaerin unnie. I’m glad that sajangnim didn’t want us to perform as 2NE1 without her.” The Park sisters nodded. When they arrived at YG’s office, they knocked and then went inside. Jiyong was the last one to enter and he closed the door after them. “Good, now that all of you are here. I have an announcement before giving you guys the gift. Bom, you will be working with Teddy and Jay on the song that Chaerin had written as soon as you are back from the weekend. We will release that before TOP’s album.” “Sajangnim, I can understand why Teddy oppa is involved but why Jay?” “When I last talked to Chaerin, she asked if Jay could be involved in the track because he was there when she wrote it so he could understand the 201


emotions behind the song. Releasing the song in Chaerin’s name would also help to reassure the fans that she had not given up on music.” “But won’t Jay’s participation be called into question? Because if we were to say that he was involved because he was with Chaerin when she wrote the song, there will be a lot of speculations about it.” Jiyong didn’t like the idea of Jay being part of the production for Chaerin’s track. While he felt sorry that he couldn’t think of the song as Bom’s, it was the first song that Chaerin had written and he wanted to be part of it. This was the only protest he could think of without making it seem like he’s a jealous boyfriend-to-be. “I want people to wonder why Jay is around. So that when we launched the publicity for TOP’s album and his name is brought up, it won’t be too much of a surprise. I can understand your concerns, but even that speculation involving Chaerin would be useful.” “Boss, I’m sorry, I really don’t like having Chaerin’s name connected to Jay’s. Is there a way around it?” “We would say that Teddy wanted a fresh outlook from someone outside the company and he choose Jay to be part of the production. The fact that it’s Chaerin’s song won’t be connected to Jay then.” “But...” “Jiyong ah, I know what I’m doing. Now that we are done with the announcement, I shall present to you the Valentines’ Day gift from Chaerin. She had obviously put in a lot of effort into this gift. I had wanted to give it to the girls during the press conference but Jay said it wasn’t a good idea. Until I took a more careful look, I didn’t really understand his words. But enough said, here you go. I believe you would be able to pick out which is yours quite easily.” The group walked forward to YG’s desk and looked at the personalized chocolate that had been made for them. Each was able to identify their own chocolate without much difficulty. Each of the couple sat down and read the note that Chaerin had included with the chocolate. At the end of the note,

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the couples hugged each other, glad that they have decided to love, glad that they have not given up, glad that they have each other by their side. Jiyong read the note twice. He couldn’t quite believe what he was reading but his heart was so glad that it had to be real. He sniffed but couldn’t help the tears from rolling down his cheeks. He quickly wiped the tears away. To: Jiyong oppa! Oppa, it has been a tough 2 weeks hasn’t it? I really thought I could be away from you, that I could forget about you, that I could live without you. But these 2 weeks have shown me that I can’t. Saying ‘sorry’ for all the hurt I have dealt you won’t be enough but would ‘I love you, very very much’ be enough? You were the star in my sky, but now would you come and be the king of my heart? I don’t want to stand and watch you from afar anymore. Would you let me stand beside you, be part of your life, be part of you? I only want to be the queen if you are my king. Would you run to where I am this time round? I hope to see you soon. I love you, very very much. King of my heart, don’t keep me waiting for too long. One to infinity, Your Chaerin “She must have spent the whole day making these.” Seungri had walked over to Jiyong during that time. Since they were the only singles in the room, they had to ‘commiserate’. Jiyong gave him a weak smile. “How can we bear to eat this?” “Well, knowing Chaerin, she would expect us to eat it and not keep it. We can’t keep this for too long since it’s been at least 4 days since this was made. Let’s take pictures and keep them so we will have something to remember these chocolates by.” “Yes! Let’s do individual shots, followed by the couples then the whole group. We can send the couple and group photos to her.”

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“Let’s tweet the individual photos but we will cover the tell-tale signs of our coupling. The chocolates are way too pretty to not share!” “I’m not sharing mine.” Everyone turned to Jiyong. “This is too personal and precious to me so I do not want to share it and open the doors to hurtful and ridiculous remarks on whichever platform I choose to post the picture. I cannot bear to subject Chaerin’s gift to me to such abuse by people I do not even know or care much about.” “Ji, you have a point. But I guess yours is probably more personal and would be more of a ‘talking point’ than the rest of us.” “Right now, I would think there are a lot of people keeping an eye on 2NE1 as well. What I would suggest you girls do is to just show one full set without any of the special chocolate. That would show the fans that Chaerin had not forgotten about you girls and who you are. Any show of your personalized chocolate, even if you were to cover the tell-tale signs, it will still be a hot issue. Let’s do our part to make sure that Chaerin is kept out of any unnecessary gossip, alright?” Everyone nodded and YG was hiding a grin. Jiyong looked like an overprotective lion trying to protect his lioness. He’s lucky that Chaerin’s in a different country but it did make YG wonder if she would have opposed to this over-protectiveness exhibited by Jiyong now. He had taken a glance at the note Jiyong received. The love is definitely there. “Sajangnim, is there anything else you want to tell us? If not, we’ll see you soon at the pension?” YG was brought back from his pondering by Jiyong’s voice. He waved his hand, signaling that they have been dismissed. “Wait...” “We know we have to be careful and not be caught in a compromising situation. See you later, sajangnim!”

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The group filed out but Jiyong remained behind. When Youngbae turned and looked at him questioningly, he smiled to reassure him that everything was alright. YG raised his eyebrows when he saw Jiyong standing in front of him. He could guess what he wanted to talk about. “Are you trying to get yourself involved in Chaerin’s song?” “Can I, please?” “Teddy told me about your response to the song when Bom sang it the other day. Are you sure you will be able to handle it?” “Boss, I’m made of tougher stuff than that.” “You may be, but Chaerin is your weakness and you know it too.” “But it’s also because of that, I am made stronger. This 2 weeks had not been easy but I have definitely become stronger and more sure of what I want for myself other than being a successful artiste.” “Alright, you can be there when they are recording the song and you can give your opinions, but your name will not appear in any way or be associated with the release of the song.” “That’s fine. But the next song that Chaerin writes, I want to be involved in the production.” “That, you will have to ask her. If she doesn’t want you involved for whatever reason, I can’t stop her. Every producer here is given free rein until the final product is to be examined by me.” “You speak like you know she doesn’t want me involved. Is that why Jay is here? Is he going to be involved in the next 2NE1 album?” “That remains to be seen. But I guess you need to be prepared for any eventualities.” “So Jay’s going to be involved.” “Maybe.” 205


“You won’t have him around the company if he’s not going to be involved. In what capacity?” “At the moment, collaborator. That might change depending on the final decision from Chaerin. After all, we can only talk 2NE1 album when she decides to come back.” Jiyong didn’t really know how to react. On one hand, he’s glad that Chaerin was thinking of coming back and recording an album means she would be back for at least 6 months. But he didn’t like that she was coming back because of her plans with Jay. “While I think it’s better for her to be the one to tell you, but I think as your boss, I have to tell you that she will be coming back intermittently for a few collaborations with Jay before...” “Did I hear you right, Boss? A few?!” “Here, have a look at this.” YG handed over the ‘bill’ that Chaerin had drawn up to show that she owed Jay a few collaborations. Jiyong stared at the piece of paper, not quite believing what he was reading. “And you are allowing it to happen? I won’t agree to this!” “Alright, then I guess Chaerin will only come back to Seoul when she’s done with her course. I heard her father is in France so she could just stay with her during her vacation.” “Boss...” “I already promised that she could do the collaborations with Jay. I did tell her that you are not going to be happy about it. But she’s right, I’m the boss. Jiyong ah, I know you would go see her during the course of your solo concert tour but don’t you want her to be back here?” “So can I request to work my tour schedule round hers?”

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“At the moment, I don’t know when is she coming back, how can I work around it? Why don’t you ask her when you go see her? When are you leaving? Since you have already finished the recording for TOP’s album.” “After hearing what you just told me, I want to leave immediately so I can talk to her about these collaborations. But I have the retreat to host. So maybe Monday.” “She would insist on these collaborations, there’s no running from them. It’s just whether she would allow you to be around when they happen.” “It’s not a matter of whether she ALLOWS it, I’m going to be there, whether she likes it or not.” YG grinned. This is going to be interesting. In the past, the two of them would clash and none would back down. Whether there would be any changes remain to be seen. “Maybe you should ask Jay. He had probably talked to her about it. Since the collaborations would be more of a ‘Jay featuring CL’, so Chaerin is likely to be working with his schedule.” “This is almost ridiculous. Having to ask another guy about my girl’s schedule.” YG laughed at Jiyong’s remarks and his pissed off expression - a deep frown and pout. He had missed this side of Jiyong. Ever since he became ‘GDragon’, he had not really acted in this manner much, at least not in everyday life. “Well, don’t sulk. I’d let you be involved in her solo album.” Jiyong looked up at the news. Although they have talked about Chaerin’s solo album before but the plans were shelved because of the New Evolution Tour. “How would you let me be involved?” “How do YOU want to be involved? Well, I haven’t talked to her yet so we have to see what she has to say about this. But I definitely want to see the 207


response of her collaborations with Jay before deciding. In the event I feel that she is a better match with Jay, I would let hi...” “NO!” “Relax, I’m not going to marry her off to Jay. How do I put this across? Jay has a kind of rawness that matches Chaerin very well. You have become a little too polished, too commercial.” “Boss, may I remind you, you are the one who wanted this ‘polished’ version of me.” “I know, so I want to showcase that raw side of her with Jay through their collaborations. Then when we come to her album, we will mix it up a little. She had been networking with various people, I’m sure she has some ideas what she wants for herself too.” “This still doesn’t tell me how I can be involved.” “At this point in time, I don’t know how you can be involved yet. But I know you would want to be involved. Convince her.” “You are giving her that much freedom to work on her solo album?” “Jiyong ah, I held back her solo not because I do not have confidence in her. She had to lead 2NE1 first. Without her, the girls might have been successful but they won’t have been as edgy, or special. Though I always say that they are not good-looking, they are in their own ways. But Chaerin gave them an edge. She is fierce on stage but when she’s not on it, she’s totally different and that’s her charm. She’s not pretending to be fierce, she just know how to show off that side of her without losing herself. That is something you need to learn from her. Her showmanship is amazing, which is why I know I could shelf her solo for a while. She’s going to be fabulous on stage because she knows what to do with herself, how to show off the best side of herself. I let you do what you want with your solo albums too. It’s only right for me to give her that much freedom. And for the company’s next vision to conquer the world, she is my trump card.” “You sound excited.”

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“I am, the more I think about it, the more excited I am! But I’m not going to stress her about this yet because I want her to concentrate on her fashion course. So, keep it to yourself. Treat it as a secret between you and me.” Jiyong grinned at his excited boss. He was glad to hear that there was a viable plan for Chaerin to go back to the performing stage. He really had to figure how to convince her to let him on-board. “Before you start planning on how to convince her about letting you be part of her solo album, let’s talk about the now first. How do you plan to leave the country without your fans knowing?” “I already said that I was going to be out of the country for a while, although how I’m going to cover my tracks is going to be a headache when I’m in Italy.” “Just avoid going out with Chaerin, it should be alright. I don’t expect her to be able to keep her whereabouts a secret for long. So at some point in time, you guys are going to send the media into a frenzy when they know that both of you are in the same country.” “That’s something to look forward to.” Jiyong’s expression said otherwise and YG made a note to put in place some kind of cover for his two beloved children. “Do you think you want to be upfront about where you are going and who you are going to meet?” “Honestly, I really don’t know. Part of me wants to but I’m worried about the backlash. This is a sensitive time though since we just announced the individual plans for the 2NE1 members. If I reveal that I’m going to meet Chaerin in Italy, it’s going to make things difficult for her and set speculations abound. And I’m going to get my ass kicked by Chaerin the moment I arrive at her doorstep.” “Alright, you just go and leave whatever uproar to our PR team. I will get them to make sure that you guys are sufficiently covered. This probably mean that you have to attend a few magazine shoots and interviews, with or

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without Chaerin.” “That would be great! Whatever allows me to be there for a longer period of time and I don’t have to keep being with Chaerin a secret would be good.” “Wait, I almost forgot! Chaerin’s press conference video! Let me send you the one that she just sent as well. Can you send it to the girls?” Jiyong nodded and took the CD case containing Chaerin’s video (Jay Park Edit) and smiled. He felt like an avid fan intent on collecting everything to do with Lee Chaerin. “Thanks boss!! I’d better go and check if Jay is still around. See you later at the pension!” YG nodded and Jiyong said his goodbye to his boss. He went down to Teddy’s studio to see if he could catch Jay on the way out. Looking at the CD in one hand and the chocolate in the other, he had to say that his Valentines’ Day was perfect. Well, ALMOST perfect. It would have been perfect if I were holding you in my arms. Chaerin ah, Saranghae~~

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Chapter 69 14 February 2013 YGE Building, 5.30pm Jay was deep in a discussion with Teddy when Jiyong walked into the studio. Whatever they were discussing must be really exciting because the look of interest and excitement on Teddy’s face was obvious. “Teddy hyung, you look excited. What are you guys talking about?” The moment they hear Jiyong’s voice, they stopped what they were saying and exchanged a look. “I have heard about the collaboration that might happened between Jay and 2NE1. So, there’s no need to go quiet when I’m around.” Jay and Teddy exchanged another look, one that said, ‘he doesn’t know that you/I’m going to be the co-producer yet, let’s keep it that way.’ “We were just discussing one of the tracks that Jay has in mind for the collaboration. What brings you here? I thought you would have zipped off to your pension after the press conference?” “I came to ask if Jay wants to go with me. The rest had to either buy food or in-charge of activities. Since I’m the host, I didn’t have to run these errands.” “We are about done here. I’ve gotten a good idea of what direction Chaerin wants to take with their next album, so I can start working with those ideas in mind. I will talk to the girls soon too and get their feedback. When we will actually do the recording will depends on how the schedules of the girls since they will be busy as well. Not to mention, we don’t know when Chaerin will be back. I’m taking the fact that she had already thought of a next album as a good sign. I wasn’t that sure before I talked to Jay today.” “She would always want to stand on stage with the rest of 2NE1 but she wants to find a stage where she could stand on her own and I believe that would be fashion. Her designs are amazing~!” “And you are going to be her first mod...” 211


Jay exchanged a look with Teddy, ‘you have said too much, hyung’ and Teddy looked abashed with himself. Jiyong didn’t miss the look and he wondered what Teddy was going to say. He looked at Jay intently, hoping that he would shed some light. But Jay just gave him a smile and turned back to Teddy. “Teddy hyung, I think I’d leave you with all the ideas for now. We’ll talk more. Jiyong, do you think you can give me a lift to somewhere near my company? I have to attend a meeting first before I join you guys at the pension.” “I’d send you to your company. Teddy hyung, will we see you later at the pension?” “I’ve got to wait for Gumm...” Teddy caught himself just in time but both Jay and Jiyong grinned knowingly. “Arrasso hyung, we’ll see you later then.” With that, Jay and Jiyong walked out of the studio. There was an awkward silence. There was so much that Jiyong wanted to ask but he didn’t know where to start and not sound like a complete fool, a love fool. Jay knew that if Jiyong already know about the collaboration with 2NE1, it’s highly possible that YG had told him about his collaborations with Chaerin. He wanted to laugh at Jiyong who was trying to hide his exasperation. “Do you have something to ask me, something regarding Chaerin? But I think it might be better if we talk in the car?” Jiyong gave Jay a grateful smile and reminded himself once again, ‘Jay is not the enemy.’ “Alright, we’ll talk in the car.” The two men walked towards the car and as they were driving out, they saw a fan holding up a placard with the words: “Jiyong oppa, you cannot date 212


anyone!!! You’re MINE!!!” Though Jiyong didn’t show any obvious response, his knuckles had turned white from tightening his hands around the steering wheel. That didn’t go unnoticed by Jay. “Relax, you know such things happen, you don’t have to be so mindful about it.” “I think it was easier for me to ignore it when I didn’t have anyone in mind. Even when I was in my previous relationships, I didn’t give them a thought. Maybe because if it comes to choosing between the relationship and fans, the choice is easy, it would be the fans. But this time, it’s different. This time, I do feel like I’m being put between the devil and the deep blue sea. This time, it’s Lee Chaerin. I can’t give her up.” “No one is asking you to. Your boss isn’t asking you to do that, I don’t think your bandmates will ask you to do that either. So why are you worried that you have to give her up?” “Because I’m afraid that she will ask me to give her up.” “And you would because?” Jiyong had no answer. “Chaerin thinks that she has to protect you. Just show her that she doesn’t need to. She has been doing that for a long time, it’s time you show her that you have emerged stronger. You are not her Jiyong oppa 6 years ago. Now, you are not simply a trainee waiting for his debut. You are a world star. You have the power to protect her even if she’s going to fight you every step of the way.” “Sometimes I feel so helpless when it comes to Chaerin. I don’t know how to deal with her, nor do I need to if I’m honest with myself. She had always been the one who had been looking out for me and making sure that I’m kept out of harm’s way.” “Isn’t it time to change that? Instead of saying that Chaerin needs someone to protect her, she needs someone who would just be with her and support her decisions. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to say it,

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which is refreshing since most of the girls I know might know what they want but they would never say it. You’ve got a gem, bro.” “I know, which is why I have no intention of letting her go.” “Don’t. There are many waiting for you to make a wrong step and take her away from you.” “Are you one of them?” “Seriously, I’m still in the suspects list?” “Until her name is on the marriage certificate beside mine, everyone is a suspect.” “Is this when you ask me about my collaborations with her?” Jiyong smiled sheepishly and nodded. “What do you want to know about them?” “How did they come about?” “Your boss didn’t show you the ‘bill’? For every life and love lesson that I managed to impart to her, Chaerin agreed to one collaboration. So in all, she ‘owes’ me 3 collaborations.” “Have you guys talked about when these collaborations would happen? I really want to be here when she’s here in Seoul.” “We haven’t talked about that yet. She has her course and internship so I guess it won’t be in the near future. I guess we are looking at at least 5-6 months later for the main one. But we might release something intermittently. The collaboration would most probably not be for sale, even if it’s for sale, we will probably donate the proceeds to charity or something.” “The only reason why I am not for these collaborations is that both your names will be linked together and it might be difficult to untangle that connection in the future.”

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“Don’t worry, I’m sure we will work something out with your boss that the collaboration would seemed probable. But you would have to be mindful that we will be in constant contact. Don’t let jealousy rear its ugly head.” “Can I sit in whenever I can, whether it’s for your discussion or recording sessions?” “We knew you would want to be part of it. We are alright with it unless you become too much of a nuisance.” “Both of you have talked this over.” “Of course we have. Look, Jiyong, I know the main reason why the collaboration between me and Chaerin never happened before is mainly because of you. I have raised all these concerns with Chaerin and these are the solutions we have come up with. Don’t worry, in the event of any controversies, I will protect Chaerin. I won’t let my fans get to her. The least I can do as her oppa.” “I don’t know how I feel about what you just said about protecting her but I believe that’s my job.” “If she’s hurt because of me, then it’s my job. Plus I can take a more reprimanding tone with my fans than you. And we have an understanding. Work is work and Chaerin has always been someone that I want to work with. I think they are going to be happy about it. She’s going to add so much color to the songs!” “You sound excited.” “Were you not excited when you did your collaboration with her for ‘The Leaders’? I always thought it was a waste that you only collaborated with her once.” “You know that complicated feeling, the one where you fight between showing her to the world and keeping her for yourself? It’s always been that way when it comes to her.” “I can understand. If I were you, I would want to keep her to myself too. You are lucky that you are in the same company with her and you could do a 215


collaboration with her whenever. Other than me, there’s a whole lot of people waiting, praying for the day that they can collaborate with her.” “Which is why I want to just keep her for myself.” “You will, in more ways than one. Cheer up buddy, you will have her soon. Are you ready to go see her? When are you leaving?” “I wanted to leave immediately when I heard about your collaborations. But I will have to tie up the loose ends first. But I’m aiming to leave beginning of next week.” “She’s going to need you with her. She might think she doesn’t but she does. Although you being with her is going to be a double-edged sword, I guess this is the best test to see if you can protect her and how receptive your fans are to the possibility of a relationship between the 2 of you. After all, she had blown a lot of people’s dreams with what she said in the interview with iD.” “What interview?” “Oh my, you mean you didn’t know about that interview?” “Remember I wasn’t around a lot and we were not really talking to each other. What did she say?” “The interviewer asked her about the fans putting her and other YGE artistes together as couples. Youngbae and you were brought up.” “What was her answer?” “She said she won’t have uploaded pictures with the two of you if you guys were dating. I bet it was a sad day for a lot of your couple shippers.” “Looks like we can’t upload any pictures of us together on to Instagram then.” “Man, don’t sound so sad. She created the perfect smoke screen for you guys. As long as you upload photos of the 2 of you together, you would continue to be seen as just colleagues.” 216


“But... We are not JUST colleagues. No matter whether we are talking about the past, or present, she had never been JUST a colleague to me. Right now, it’s still alright, maybe even at the beginning of the relationship when I’m with her. But the moment I leave Italy and leave her alone, she would be considered ‘up for grabs’ and she can’t say that she’s attached. That’s going to suck big time!” “Chaerin would know what to do. She would take care of your feelings. Just like I’m sure you know what you can and cannot do. But I’m going to warn you. If you hurt her and make her cry, I’m coming after you first before unleashing Seungri’s army on you. And I’m going to call her often just to check on her too...” “What...” “Jiyong, there will be times when she needs a friend more than she needs a boyfriend. I know my place. I can’t wait for her to put her name beside yours. But it’s going to take a while. You have to stay strong. I will not allow Chaerin to be strong for the 2 of you. Remember that.” Jiyong turned into the road where Sidus HQ was located and stopped his car. He turned to look at Jay and wanted to say something. But it wasn’t coming out. Jay looked at Jiyong and smiled. “Jiyong, loving someone is never easy, and when it comes to someone you are very sure is the one you are going to spend the rest of your life with, every step you take, every word you say, you will be more careful. And it will be tiring because you do not know whether you are doing the right thing or saying the right thing. But remember, you will always have each other to weather the storm. When something is not going the way you want it to, talk it out. Don’t keep it to yourself. And when you can’t find the words to say it, just hold her close. Your heart will find the comfort it needs. Her heart would know what your heart is trying to say, without words. You didn’t call her HunChae for nothing. Remember that. I’d drop by the pension later in the evening. I’d call you before I head over. Let me know if you need anything.” “Thanks, man. If this is the kind of talk you had with Chaerin, I’m glad that she had you with her when she first arrived in Italy. I’d see you later then.”

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Jay nodded and got out of the car. Jiyong took a minute to think about what Jay had told him. He was right. He didn’t call Chaerin, ‘HunChae’ for nothing. He took out his phone to send Chaerin a message. To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 14 February 2013 6.15pm KST

My HunChae... How long has it been since I last called you that? How come I didn’t notice that my world had become so cold without you? The first thing I’m going to do when I see you again, is to hold you in my arms so tightly. Remember the first time when we hugged each other? I think I’m going to cry like a baby when I finally have you in my arms again. Soon, baby, soon. Love you!! He hit ‘send’ and then drove off. He needed to get that party started and over with. And he needed to talk to his parents as well. Although he knew that his parents would be more than happy with his decision to go to Chaerin, he would have to make them believe that this was really what he wants. They were more afraid that he would break Chaerin’s heart. Thinking about his own parents made him remember Chaerin’s parents. He stopped his car at the side and picked up his phone and dialled the number for Chaerin’s parents. When the call was picked up, he spoke. “Omma, this is Jiyong. Do you think I can come visit you and Appa next week? I have something important to ask both of you.” After talking to Chaerin’s mum for a few more minutes, and fixing a date to meet them, Jiyong finally drove towards his destination with a much lighter heart.

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Chapter 70 18 February 2013 Milan, 8.30am It was the first day of school for Chaerin and she was beyond excited. She had been getting messages from Jiyong throughout the whole weekend about the ‘company retreat’. So even though she wasn’t there with them, she could see all of them had a great time. She was glad that Jiyong did this for the couples. She would admit that seeing pictures of Jay at the gathering was a bit of a shock since he wasn’t part of YGE but since he would be working on Bom’s song and also doing the preliminary planning for 2NE1’s next album, it wasn’t that strange either. Most importantly, she saw the smile on Jiyong’s face and she knew she was slowly getting her Jingyo oppa back. His smiles were reaching his eyes and he’s genuinely happy. She didn’t realize how much she missed it until she saw it again. When she got his message about him not realizing how cold his world had become without her, she came to the same realization as well. While on the surface, everything seemed to be going well for her and her members, she felt alone and cold a lot. At times when she had to be a leader more than a friend, the balance can be challenging. Not that Bom and Dara made things difficult for her but fans can be really critical of every single step that was taken. She shrugged, thinking of the few times that she posted pictures on Instagram of her solo trips to London and New York and how that had gotten some fans to start asking if she’s ‘abandoning’ 2NE1. She went on those trips because YG wanted her to, especially after he knew about her interest in fashion. She was glad that her boss was supportive of this venture of hers. Checking the time, and her bag, making sure that she has everything with her, she was not surprised when she heard the familiar ringtone coming from her phone that signalled another new message.

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From: <3 My Jingyo Oppa <3 My King<3 18 February 2013 8.30am CET

Baby~ Today is your first day in school! Hope everything goes well for you! I’m excited for you!! BUT! No talking to strangers, especially guys! And don’t go wandering outside after class alone, and with guys. I’m tying up the loose ends over in Korea. You’d better prepare yourself for my arrival~ I’m not going to leave your side once I’m there! Soon, darling~ Have a great day!! Chaerin laughed at Jiyong’s ‘warning’ to stay away from guys. It was silly and heartwarming at the same time. She typed in a quick reply to Jiyong and then left the house. To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 18 February 2013 8.40am CET

Oppa! I’d be careful. Can’t exactly guarantee the ‘No talking to stranger, especially guys’ part since these are people who I would be going to school with for the next 6 months. Don’t worry, I know what to do. See you soon~ ^^ You have a great evening too! At that precise moment, after sending the Big Bang and 2NE1 members off, he was seated at the dining room with his parents. Over the weekend, his parents had gotten to know that he was sort of in contact with Chaerin or at least that he knew where she was. The first thing his mum said when she got to know about that was said simply to him, “what are you still doing here? Are you really that confident of yourself?”, setting off a round of laughter among the guests, including YG. “Omma, appa, I’m going to Chaerin. She’s all alone in Italy and I want to be by her side. This time, I’m going to make sure that she’s mine.” “Jiyong ah, are you serious about Chaerin? As in are we talking about seeing her as our daughter-in-law and not just one of those girls whose names get

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entangled with yours? I must say, as much as I love you, if you are going to hurt her, then stay clear from her.” Jiyong’s mum said with utmost sincerity, with his father looking at Jiyong. Jiyong held his mum’s hands and looked her in the eyes after meeting his father’s eyes once. “Omma, I’m serious. We might not get married immediately nor would we go public with our relationship in the immediate future but I am definitely looking at long-term. I do intend to make it clear that there’s a special girl in my life and I won’t give her up even if it means that all my fans decide to walk out on me. These 2 weeks had been hell and I’m not about to let it repeat itself. We have to be separated for now since she really wants to do her fashion design course and I support her 100%. We are in talks for my solo tour. I’m doing this in part to thank the fans and almost as a ‘goodbye’ present. I’m at the juncture of my career where I need to think about the next step and also my priorities in life. And Chaerin is at the top of it.” “I’m glad that you have finally sorted it out. We have always thought that Chaerin is perfect for you. Even your mother has to admit that the only girl that she would allow to have you is Chaerin. Make sure you don’t make her cry.” Jiyong’s mum loosened her left hand from Jiyong’s grip and dabbed at her tears. “Your father is right. She’s the only girl I would willingly give you to. Have you talked to her parents about this yet? Do you need our help?” “I’m going to meet her parents tomorrow and tell them about it and also to ask them for permission to look after their daughter. Also, once I start on my solo tour, I won’t be in Korea much. Between concert dates, I’d be in Italy with Chaerin, unless she’s back for a break in between.” “So are you going to leave Gaho with us then?” “I would have to. At least for now. I might have him sent over to Italy to keep Chaerin company when I’m not there.”

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“Why don’t you just buy her another dog?” “Hmmm... that sounds like a good idea. I was actually deciding between bringing Gaho or buying her another dog. Gaho does have a special place in her heart and I bought him for her.” “Then how come he ended with you?” “Long story and I would rather forget about it. Maybe getting her a new dog would be better.” “Well, I’m sure she would rather have you there all the time instead. Make sure she won’t think of it as extra work to have a pet while she’s in Italy.” “I will. I have to go back to the company now because we are doing the recording of Bommie noona’s song today and I want to be there since Chaerin wrote that song. Omma, appa, thanks for letting me bring the whole company over this weekend. I’d come bid farewell before I fly to Italy this week.” “Good luck with your future in-laws tomorrow. I think you would need it.” “Don’t scare him. I’m sure it would be alright. Chaerin’s parents look upon him like how we look at Chaerin, although I would be wary too if I’m her mum.” “I’m sure my sincerity will get through to them.” “You’d better pray that it would. Alright, you’d better go. Let us know when you decide to fly off to Italy.” Jiyong nodded and got up from his seat. His parents sent him to the gate and watched as Gaho hopped into the car after Jiyong. After Jiyong drove off, his parents looked at each other and smiled at each other. “It looks like he’s really ready to settle down. All through this weekend, I sensed there was something different about him, something that had been missing in recent years. I’m so happy that it’s Chaerin.” “It has always been like this. Whenever Chaerin is with him, there’s a calm 222


about him, and joy. This is the reason why she is the only one that I’d allow him to marry without being difficult. Because I know she makes him happy.” “Now we have to make sure that he would make her happy too.” “He will. Can’t you see the softening of his eyes when he was talking about her just now? And you know our son. Once he focuses on one person, he would make sure that person gets his full attention and love.” The two elderly walked back into Dolce Vita, hand-in-hand, glad that their ‘wayward’ child was finally ready to settle down. 19 February 2013 Milan, 12.30pm Chaerin loved her new classes and her classmates. But as she walked out of class that day, she realized that it was a week to her birthday. Usually, if she were in Korea, she would have start making plans with her family and friends to celebrate her birthday. She suddenly missed Dara who’s her party planner every year. That kind of deflated the high she got when her professor showcased the portfolio she sent with her application. Lee Chaerin, you choose to leave and you are living your dream, so SUCK IT UP and deal! You are the BADDEST FEMALE after all. Suddenly, she would love to have someone who she can call ‘oppa’ or ‘unnie’ and just aegyo her way through something, anything. She took out her phone. To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 19 February 2013 12.30pm CET

Oppa~~~~ I miss you~~ I miss my omma and appa~~ I wish you were here so I can ask you to bring me a strawberry shortcake! Or just be beside me... Opppppaaaaa~~~ Chaerin hit the ‘send’ button before she deleted the message. Yet the 223


moment the message was sent out, she wished she had not done it. She consoled herself by saying that Jiyong probably still did not have the phone yet. But the next message made her question this assumption. From: <3 My Jingyo Oppa <3 My King<3 19 February 2013 12.40pm CET

HunChae~ Look who I had dinner with today? They miss you a lot too and wish you would call them. I’d bring you a HUGE strawberry shortcake! Or should I make one for you? You can ask me for anything when I’m with you ok? And don’t worry about your parents. They have given me permission to be with you. :) Just a little while more. I promise I’d be with you. Love you~ Attached with the message was a photo of Jiyong with Chaerin’s parents. Chaerin couldn’t help the tears that sprung out. She knew that she should call her parents, especially now that the news of why she left was already out. But she was afraid that she would hear the disappointment in her parents’ voice. What has to be done, would be done. As she read the message again, she was 80% sure that YG had already given Jiyong the phone. She smiled at how he must have gotten YG to not tell her that he had gotten the phone. A devious thought on how to confirm her suspicion ran through her mind. She started looking through her photo album and then she found the perfect photo. It was one she took with her young male professor. To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 19 February 2013 12.50pm CET

Jeremy!! Look who I met in Italy?! It’s Luis!! He asked me to send his regards! I’m so glad to see a familiar face! We’re having dinner tomorrow! So excited!

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Wish you were here!! Miss you bad!! Over in Korea, Jiyong just sent Chaerin’s parents off when he got the message that Chaerin had ‘accidentally’ sent to him. The moment he saw ‘Jeremy’, there was a bad taste in his mouth. Lee Chaerin, so you keep in contact with Jeremy and not me! Then he saw another guy’s name, Luis. His eyebrows knitted together. I knew that letting her go to New York alone and leaving her with Jeremy was a bad move. Who is this Luis? He continued reading. Dinner date? Wait... WHAT?! Then he saw the picture. A young man with his arms around his Chaerin and he could see Chaerin’s hand on his shoulders as well. Both smiling happily. LEE CHAERIN!!! AND YOU, WHOEVER YOU ARE! HANDS OFF!!! He quickly typed a reply, not realizing that he was using the secret phone. Within seconds, Chaerin got the confirmation she needed. She laughed so hard at the message, at how Jiyong just gave himself away without him knowing it. From: My Jingyo Oppa <3 19 February 2013 12.51pm CET

YA!! LEE CHAERIN!!! What did I say about getting too close to guys?!! How could you allow him to put his arm around you?!! I’m going to saw his hand off!!! AND!! YOU SENT THE MESSAGE TO THE WRONG PERSON!! You mean you kept in contact with Jeremy and not me?!! Is he more important to you than I am? That’s it! I’m flying to Italy tonight! 225


Chaerin smirked and decided to call Jiyong’s bluff. To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 19 February 2013 12.54pm CET

Jiyong oppa, it’s close to midnight in Korea, so theoretically your threat to fly to Italy tonight doesn’t hold much weight. Say ‘hi’ to my parents for me if they are still with you. And oppa, GOTCHA. ~.^v Although Chaerin said it jokingly, she wished that Jiyong could make good on his ‘threat’ to fly to Italy that very night. She really did miss him and wanted him by her side. Badly. Well, soon, Chaerin, you would see him soon enough. She had forgotten that Kwon Jiyong wasn’t someone to give empty threats, especially when it came to people he loves. After he got the reply from Chaerin, he realized that he had been pranked and now she already knew that he had the secret phone. But he wasn’t sure if the guy and dinner date part was a prank. So he wasn’t taking any chance. He picked up his phone and made a call to the person he knew could help him. After confirming all details, he went back home to quickly pack a bag and called his parents to pick up Gaho the next day since he was leaving for Italy in a few hours’ time. The last phone call he made was to Jay. When Jay picked up his call, he spoke quickly of his purpose for calling. “Jay, I need to know Chaerin’s address in Italy.” “You are going to her now? How? There are no flights out at this time.” “I have my ways. Would you send me the address through SMS? And don’t tell Chaerin about this. I want to surprise her.” “Alright, I’d send you the address right now. Did something happen? Why are you suddenly in a hurry?” “I need to see her. I have gotten her parents’ permission so I’m cleared to 226


go after her. Not going to waste anymore time since I would have to be back soon to talk about my solo tour.” “Cool! Good luck! She’s going to be so happy to see you even though she wouldn’t admit right off.” “I know. But that’s just CL talking. Chaerin would soften at the sight of me.” “Wooo~ Someone’s confident. Anyway, have fun! Talk to her and make her yours! Hope to hear good news from you soon!” “Will do! You take care of yourself too.” Jiyong ended the call and got into his manager’s private car. Since he wanted to leave the country as quietly as possible, he had sought out his manager’s help to get to the airport. The nearer he got to arriving at the airport, the faster his heart beat. It was as if it knew that it was going to seek out his other half. A smile appeared on his face when he arrived at the private airplane area. His boss was waiting for him at the stairs of his private jet. “Thanks boss for arranging this with such short notice. Really appreciate it.” “You be careful once you arrive in Milan. Call me, I want to talk to Chaerin. Have you talked to her parents?” “Yes I have and they would like me to call them when I arrive in Milan so they can speak to her too. This girl had not called home at all since she left.” “We’ll keep you updated on your solo tour. You might have to come back within the month so don’t get too comfortable in Milan. Try to persuade her to come back with you if she can. And if we managed to get you a photo shoot or whatever, we’ll let you know. Keep a low profile, try not to be seen in public with Chaerin for the time being.” “I will be careful and I will try my best to bring her back when I have to come back but you know she has a stubborn streak in her as well. I’d better get going. Will call when I see her.” YG nodded and watched as Jiyong climbed onto his private jet. There was a 227


lightness in Jiyong’s steps like never before when he had to go overseas for the various schedules. YG smiled, thinking that this was different after all. This was not just any ‘schedule’, this concerned his future. YG turned to Jiyong’s manager then. “If any of his fans contact you about his whereabouts, keep it a secret. In a few weeks, we might have to use the photos we took last weekend as a smokescreen to hide his whereabouts. But as much as possible, I would want to give him at least 2 weeks with Chaerin before all hell breaks loose.” “I believe PR is already doing all they can to get a photo shoot for him.” “If they can’t get one fast enough, arrange for our team to fly over on the pretext of doing a preliminary shoot for him. No commercial flights. If you need to use the private jet, just inform me so I can make arrangements.” “We can’t keep covering up for him. The fans are going to speculate and if Jiyong keeps going to Milan in between his tour dates, it’s a dead giveaway.” “At some point in time, he would have to come out and say what needs to be said. But the only person who can protect Chaerin is him. The fans are not going to make it easy for him but he’s not going to care anymore. Because Chaerin is his top priority right now.” “And you are allowing that to happen?” “Do you think I can actually stop him? I might be able to but I don’t want to. No matter what, they would have my and the company’s fullest support.” The manager nodded his understanding. He knew that YG held both Jiyong and Chaerin in high regards, but before this happened, he never quite know the extent he would go to for them. Now he did. Inside the private jet, Jiyong looked at his watch. 2.26am KST Chaerin ah, see you in 10 hours’ time. 228


Since it was going to be about 2am in the morning when he arrived in Milan, Jiyong didn’t want go knocking on Chaerin’s door. He was about to make reservations at a hotel near the airport so that he could minimize being seen when he got a message from YG. From: YG sajangnim 20 February 2013 2.50am KST

Jiyong, I have gotten a friend to pick you up at the airport when you land. He would bring you home with him and let you stay the night. I have gotten a copy of Chaerin’s time-table and had sent that to you via email. No matter what, be careful. To: YG sajangnim 20 February 2013 2.55am KST

Thanks boss! Was just about to make a hotel reservations. I’d be careful. For Chaerin’s sake. :) From: YG sajangnim 20 February 2013 2.57am KST

You’d better. If you let her come to any harm, you have a lot of people to answer to. Jiyong smiled at his boss’ last message. He checked his email to see that Chaerin end lesson at noon the next day. He wanted to surprise her but he didn’t want to be seen in public. Just as he was thinking about how to make sure that Chaerin was home, he got a message from Jay. From: Jay 20 February 2013 3.15am KST

I just messaged Chaerin, asking to have a Skype conversation with her about Bommie noona’s song. She said she would be home after school. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get back to the house from her school. She should be home by 2pm tomorrow. Hope this helped. To: Jay 20 February 2013 3.18am KST

Thanks man! Was just wondering how I’m going to be able to surprise her without going to her school. Owe you one!

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From: Jay 20 February 2013 3.20am KST

Just make sure you keep her safe. To: Jay 20 February 2013 3.22am KST

I will. :) With everything taken care of, at least for the first meeting with Chaerin, Jiyong finally allowed himself to relax. He looked at his watch. 3.30am KST 7.30pm CET Chaerin ah, I hope you werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t serious about the dinner date with Luis because you are about to have a different dinner date tomorrow. Me.

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Chapter 71 20 February 2013 2.30am CET Milan Jiyong had tried his best to stay awake during the flight as he didn’t want to suffer jet lag when he arrived in Milan. But he didn’t sleep much over the weekend with the Big Bang and 2NE1 members around at Dolce Vita. Unknowingly, he fell asleep while working on a new song, a duet. “Mr. Kwon, wake up. We are about to land in Milan. Would you like some coffee?” Jiyong woke up with a start and looked around, trying to orientate himself. He briefly thought that this was not his house and he definitely didn’t bring a girl home with him, not for a long time anyway. “Mr. Kwon, are you alright? Here’s a hot towel for you. If you want to freshen up, the washroom is over there. We will be landing in Milan in about 30 minutes.” Jiyong finally remembered that he had put himself on YG’s private jet and flew out to Milan to see his love. The very thought of Chaerin, of seeing her again finally, brought a smile to his face. Yet, there was a trace of apprehension that sneaked in on him as well. How would she react to him being here in Milan? Well, you are already here. It’s not like you haven’t warned her. She knew you were coming to her anyway. Just not this fast. He took the hot towel from the stewardess and wiped his face before getting up to use the washroom. Once he was reasonably freshen up, he went back to his seat and was glad that a cup of coffee and orange juice had been set out for him. He thanked the stewardess and sat down. As he watched the blinking lights of the city outside the window, he started thinking how he should show up at Chaerin’s door. Before long, Jiyong had a list of things he would need. He would definitely need the help of a local to get everything on the list. Luckily, YG had sent his friend to pick him up.

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“Mr. Kwon, please put on your seatbelt. We are preparing to land now.” Jiyong put away his list and fasten the seatbelt. As the plane landed smoothly on the airway and come to a stop, Jiyong’s heart started beating a little faster. “Mr. Kwon, welcome to Milan.” Jiyong got up from his seat and checked that he had put everything back in his bag. He thanked the stewardess and the pilot for the great flight and went down the stairs. He saw that there was a car parked very near the private jet and a man in suit was waiting. He walked up to the man. “Hi, I’m Kwon Jiyong. Did YG send you to fetch me? Thank you very much for coming out this late at night.” “Hi, I’m Stephen. YG told me you couldn’t wait so I guess it must be something important for him to make all the hasty arrangement for you. I heard this is your first time in Milan. Do feel free to ask me anything if you need help.” “It is something or actually it’s someone important and I would need your help to get some things.” “Let’s go back to my place first and let you rest a while more. There isn’t any shops open at this time anyway. You can pass me the list and I would get the items for you. I understand from YG that you do not want to be spotted. Are you here for a secret rendezvous?” Jiyong laughed. A secret rendezvous? He didn’t think of his meeting with Chaerin as that. But it was, on some level. “It is a secret for now since she doesn’t know that I was coming TODAY. And will have to be a secret for a while because coming out in the open will hurt her. So yea, I guess you are right. It’s a secret rendezvous.” “She’s famous like you too?” “She’s a celebrity too, in Korea. I guess she’s not well-known in Italy since 232


no one had actually mentioned seeing her here.” “Sorry about that, we tend to keep to ourselves.” “Don’t be sorry. Sometimes, not being in the limelight is a good thing for us. We want to have a little normalcy.” “Do you have her address in Milan?” “I do. Would you be able to send me there later, probably in the afternoon?” “I would make arrangements for you to be sent there. YG wanted me to make sure that you are safe and having you wandering on the streets lost isn’t what I would consider safe. We will arrange for a car and driver for you if you need one. But you have to let us know early.” “I doubt I would be leaving the house much. YG doesn’t want me to be seen in the public with her. But if we are going anywhere, we will contact you about a car and driver. Thank you so much.” Stephen smiled and in that time, they have arrived at Stephen’s house. No, not house, it was a mansion. There were guards at the gate and they all looked surprised to see that Stephen had gone out on his own and brought back a guest. “Pardon me, Stephen, but are you famous in Milan?” Stephen laughed. “Well, you are more famous than I am now. My men are all wondering who’s the big shot that I went to fetch personally. Let’s just say I’m well-known. I’m not sure if famous is the right word. But don’t worry about anything.” As they travelled past the driveway to reach the main building, Jiyong spotted more men in black patrolling the estate. He couldn’t help having the next thought that came to him. OMG! YG knows the Italian mafia! Then as quickly as the thought came, it went away. The men may look 233


intimidating but he didn’t think that they would pose as a threat to him. When the car stopped in front of the door, a butler came up to open the car door for him and greeted him politely. Stephen spoke in Italian to the butler and he nodded. “I have told Mario to bring you to your room and to help you with buying what you need. Don’t worry, he understands and can speak perfect English when needed.” “Thank you. I’d see you in the morning then?” “Breakfast is at 8.30am. I’d prepare a car and driver for you. You just have to show him the address. What time do you want to go?” “Around 1pm would be good.” “Consider it arranged. What else would you need?” “I’m ok for now. Thank you for everything once again.” Stephen left Jiyong in Mario’s care and went on his own way. Mario led the way to his bedroom. When he opened the door, Jiyong gasped. Even though he was used to luxury, the room was like nothing he had experienced before, not even the most luxurious hotel that he had been to. “Don’t look so shocked. This is the basic in the Gulliano household. Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Mr. Stephen said you have a list of things to get?” Jiyong nodded and handed the list over to Mario. “Strawberry shortcake... I guess we could get the cook to make that for you. 226 stalks of roses, I’d check with the gardener if we have enough. If not, I would ask him to go to the nursery to get some. For the puppy, you would need to go to the pet shop to pick your own. I’d tell the driver that you want to go to the pet shop then. He would bring you to the one that the family get their pets from. But it takes about 1 hour from here. So you have to factor in the time so you can reach your next destination in time. Is there anything else?”

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“No, that would be all for now, Mr. Mario.” “Just Mario would do. Breakfast would be served at 8.30am. I’d leave you to get some rest.” Mario nodded his farewell and closed the door to the guest room. Jiyong sat down on the bed and although he wasn’t really tired, the comfortable bed soon lured him to dreamland. He didn’t hear his phone ringing. In her own apartment, Chaerin woke up at around 4am to an unsettling feeling, like something was going to happen. It didn’t feel like it was something bad but she felt excited. Must be the coffee I drank before going to bed last night. She was working on some sketches for school last night and had wanted to work through the night but somehow she fell asleep. Now she was wide awake, she thought that she would continue. She looked over to her phone to see if Jiyong or anyone else had sent her a message. When she saw that there was none, she was actually surprised because Jiyong had not failed to send a message to her at the end of the day. She pouted and was about to send a message to him when she stopped. Why should I send him a message first?! She threw the phone aside and went back to her sketches. But her thoughts kept going to why Jiyong didn’t send her his goodnight message. Maybe he’s working late again... No...Even if he’s working late, he would send a message to say so... Ya! Lee Chaerin, you have never been a clingy girl, don’t start now... It’s not like you have any right to question his movement and actions. Even though the rational part knew that she was right, the not-so-ready-tobe-rational part of her was truly upset. And that caught her by surprise. She put down her pencil and picked up her phone and did something she never 235


thought she would do. She called Jiyong. But the call was not picked up and that made her even more upset. Checking the time, she realized that it was already past noon in Korea. Was he still asleep? Does that mean that he was out late last night which was why he didn’t message her? “ARGH! Stop thinking about it!” Chaerin decided to put her energy to some good use. It was almost 5am, time for her morning jog. She changed into her exercise gear and left the house, without her phone. When she got home, the first thing she did was to check her phone to see if there was any messages. When she saw that there was none, she switched off her phone in a moment of anger. “KWON JIYONG! That’s it! I’m going to ignore you!” Chaerin went about getting herself ready for her class that day. Though ‘Kwon Jiyong’ was always at the peripheral of her thoughts, she never gave him more than a fleeting moment. Just as she was about to leave for school, she did debate with herself if she should switch her phone on but decided against it in the end. Serves him right if he couldn’t get me! She pushed all thoughts of a certain Kwon Jiyong to the back of her head and focus on what needed to be done. The moment she entered her school, however, she was stopped by the receptionist. “Miss Lee, I believe these are for you.” When the receptionist brought up the beautiful bouquet of roses onto the table, Chaerin was surprised. She didn’t know anyone in Italy who would send her flowers. She thanked the lady and took the bouquet with her, looking for a card that would give her a clue as to who the sender was. 236


She finally found the card and the moment she opened the card, her eyes shot wide open and she ran out of the school building. She searched the streets with her eyes but she didn’t see the person she thought she would see. She went back to the receptionist. “When was this delivered? Did you get a good look at the sender?” “This was delivered about 10 minutes ago. The florist down the street sent them. Why?” “Oh, ok, thanks for receiving them for me.” She was disappointed. She opened the card and looked at the message inside again. HunChae~ 19 roses, One for each day we are apart~ I will never send flowers for this reason anymore. Have a great day, babe! While the message was nothing special, it was the fact that it was handwritten that got her thinking that Jiyong might have sent the flowers personally. But it still made her smile. Jiyong had never really send her flowers. She switched on her phone, wanting to thank Jiyong for the roses. That was when she realized that he had been trying to get her on the phone since about the time she switched off the phone. There was a new message from Jiyong. From: My Jingyo Oppa <3 20 February 2013 8.30am CET

Darling, Sorry for not picking up your call or not sending a message to you last night. We just ended work on Bommie noona’s song. It should be ready 237


soon. Going to bed now. Hope you are happy with the surprise gift waiting for you at school. Have a great day!! ^^ To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 20 February 2013 9.15am CET

Oppa, thank you for the flowers. But... It’s the 20th day today, not 19th. Goodnight. A fresh wave of disappointment washed over her. She never thought being alone was so difficult. Maybe this was why long distance relationships never worked out. How can 2 people who are in love with each other bear to be apart from each other for long periods of time? She took out her phone and sent another message. Short and simple but it contained every emotion that she was feeling at the moment. To: My Jingyo Oppa <3 20 February 2013 9.20am CET

Oppa, I miss you, so much. I love you. Just then ‘Luis’ walked into the classroom and Chaerin had to put away her phone since that signalled the beginning of class. Throughout her lesson that day, she kept glancing at her bouquet and got some kind of comfort. Jiyong was standing at the corner of the school after he had delivered the bouquet to the receptionist and saw Chaerin running out of the school, looking for him. Seeing her so anxious had made him smile, and when he saw the disappointment on her face when she couldn’t find him, he almost went up to her and hugged her. But he told himself he had to do the reunion right. He wasn’t going to meet her and then leave her to go to school. When he woke up and saw that Chaerin had called him, he panicked thinking that something had happened to her. He started bombing her phone but he couldn’t get through to her. He almost went to her apartment then he realized why she could have called him: He didn’t send her a message last 238


night. He needed to see her and to make sure she was alright so he asked Mario if he could send her to the school. When Mario heard which school he wanted to go to, he gave Jiyong a look of surprise but said he would prepare the car immediately. He also informed Jiyong that the roses and strawberry shortcake were ready. Jiyong thanked him. On the way to Chaerin’s school, he stopped at a florist to get a bouquet of flowers. And he was serious that this was going to be the last time he sent her flowers to ‘commemorate’ their days apart. He got both of Chaerin’s messages. He grinned at the first message. No, darling, we have only been apart 19 days. I’m here now. But the second message got to him. It was short but it hit him. Maybe because he was feeling the same thing. I’m here now. You won’t be lonely anymore. He looked at the time and knew that classes had started for her. He walked back to the car and the driver drove away, moving towards their next destination: the pet shop.

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Chapter 72 20 February 2013 Milan, 12.30pm Jiyong had gone back to Stephen’s mansion after the visit to the pet shop. While some of the puppies had caught his eye but he thought it should be a decision he make with Chaerin. Like when they saw Gaho, both of them had been equally enchanted by the little puppy. He had gotten the gardener to help him wrap up the 226 stalks of roses and put them in the car. After collecting the strawberry shortcake from the cook and thanking him profusely, Jiyong got into the car and set off to Chaerin’s apartment. Chaerin was on her way back to her apartment. Some of her classmates had asked if she wanted to join them for lunch and she had agreed but Jay sent a message to remind her of their Skype call. She apologized to her classmates and promised to join them the next time. When she arrived at the apartment, she went to look for a vase to put the bouquet in. She sent a message to Jay, telling him that she was home and could go online anytime. She fixed herself a simple salad for lunch and went online to wait for Jay to call. Just then, the doorbell rang. She frowned since she wasn’t expecting anyone, not that she knew anyone close enough for her to invite home. She went to the door and peered out the peephole to catch a glimpse of the visitor. She grew even more puzzled when she saw no one but a box with a pretty bow on top. She opened her door and picked up the box. She found a card at the top of the box and opened it. Here’s the strawberry shortcake you wanted ^^ Putting the cake down, Chaerin rushed out of the door. She was fighting her excitement because she didn’t want to be disappointed again. But she knew that he was here.

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Just as she turned into the lift lobby, the first thing she saw was the huge bouquet of roses. She shifted her gaze up and saw the face she had been hoping to see. Tears she didn’t know was swimming in her eyes flowed out. She took a step forward and stretched her arms out towards him. “Oppa...” Jiyong dropped the bouquet and ran to Chaerin, pulling her into his arms, hugging her tight. He laid his cheek on her head and soothe her sobs by rubbing her back. When he felt her pushing him away, he parked his arms around her waist and loosened his hold just so he could see her face too. Chaerin took her right hand away from Jiyong’s waist and brought it up to his face and cupping his cheek. At her touch, Jiyong’s tears rolled down his face. Instinctively, Chaerin used her thumb to wipe away his tears. “Oppa, you are really here.” Jiyong nodded, sending more tears down his face. “Thank you.” With that, Chaerin moved back into Jiyong’s embrace and tighten her hold on him again. After another 5 minutes, Jiyong finally moved. “Chaerin ah, while I would love to stay here with you in my arms, I think we had better go into your apartment and continue our reunion there, mm?” Chaerin literally jumped out of Jiyong’s arms when she realized that they were standing at the lift lobby. But before she could move totally away, Jiyong held onto her wrist and made her look at him. He pulled her close again and kissed her forehead. “Go back inside first. I have to pick up this gigantic bouquet again.” “Do you need help?” “No, go on.” 241


“Do you know where...” Chaerin was about to ask if he knew where the apartment was when she realized that he had left the strawberry shortcake outside just moments ago. She walked ahead but kept turning her head back to look at Jiyong, lugging the big bouquet of roses. She still couldn’t quite believe he was here, in Milan, with her. Chaerin opened the door of the apartment and let Jiyong in with the huge bouquet of roses. Jiyong moved into the living room and put down the roses. The moment he turned, Chaerin had her arms around him again. Jiyong couldn’t help the grin that found its way onto his face. “Aigoo~ If I knew you were going to cling onto me this way, I would have come to Milan earlier.” Hearing Jiyong’s words, Chaerin immediately released him and took a few step back. She moved too quickly that Jiyong couldn’t react fast enough. “Fine, I shall not cling onto you. Are you done with your deliveries? If you are done, you can go now.” Jiyong took a few steps towards her. She moved back, forgetting that the sofa was right behind her and sat down onto the sofa. Jiyong knelt in front of her, putting his two arms by her hips, effectively locking her in. He waited till her eyes met his. “I miss you so much. You can cling to me all you want. Just don’t ever leave me like that again, alright? I cannot go through this kind of separation again, you hear me? And I’m not done with my delivery.” “You are not done? What else is there?” “There’s still one more item.” “What is it?” “Me.”

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“Since when did you become an ‘item’?” “Since I decided who my owner would be.” “Are you sure you are at the right place? I don’t remember buying anything.” “I’m not for sale and only you can own me.” “Oppa, you belong to your parents. I don’t want to own you.” “My parents have given me to you. You can call my mum to verify this.” “Oppa, you don’t understand. If we do go into a relationship...” “Did I just hear you say ‘IF’? Lee Chaerin...” “Listen to me first! IF we do go into a relationship, we do not ‘own’ each other. We will be equals in this relationship. I don’t need you to be the only one giving, nor do I want to. Do you understand?” “So is this an agreement that you would go into a relationship with me?” “Oppa, we need to talk about this seriously. There are a lot of things to consider.” “We will have that talk. But I want you to know I’m serious. I’m not going anywhere until you agree.” “Where are you staying now? At a hotel?” “Nope, YG arranged for me to stay with his friend.” “Oh.” “You sound disappointed. Why? Do you want me to stay here with you?” “Since Boss arranged for you to stay there, there’s nothing we could do right? How long are you going to be here?” Jiyong could sense the anxiety in the seemingly nonchalant voice. He got up 243


from the floor, sat down beside Chaerin and without warning lifted her up and set her down on his lap. Caught by surprise, Chaerin’s arms went round Jiyong’s neck. “Oppa! Some warning would have been good!” “I’ve got you where I want you to be. To answer your questions, I’m going to move in here and I will stay till I’m needed back in Korea to talk about my solo tour.” “Solo tour? When did this come about?” “Can we talk about everything over food? I haven’t eaten anything since this morning. Do you want to go out and eat?” “Oppa, I don’t want to be in the headlines tomorrow. I’d cook for you. What do you want to eat?” “You.” “Aish~ Be serious will you oppa!” “I’m very serious.” As Jiyong said this, his hands tightened around Chaerin. Chaerin looked at his eyes and knew that he was serious. She quickly struggled to get up, but Jiyong overpowered her. “Op-” Chaerin was stopped by Jiyong’s lips. He had waited for the perfect moment to capture her lips with his. Complete. That’s was the only word that came to Jiyong’s mind as he joined his lips to hers. He sucked her lower lips and then licked it gently. He traced his tongue along her lips, seeking entrance into her mouth. When she finally relented by letting her tongue touched his shyly, Jiyong felt a wave of heat rush down his body. He knew that if this continued, it would lead to something that 244


Chaerin was not ready for yet. After taking a few more sip of her lips, Jiyong forced himself to tear his lips away from Chaerin and rested his forehead against hers. Her quickened breathing told him that she was as affected by the kiss as he was. He waited for both their breathing to become normal before speaking. He lifted her chin and made her look at him. “Chaerin, baby, you unravel me and make me whole at the same time. I love you so so much.” He gave her a gentle peck on the lips. And then hugged her close. “Oppa, I love you very very much too.” Chaerin whispered into Jiyong’s ear and that made him shiver. He loosened his hold and brought her face to him again. He looked into her eyes and kissed her forehead, her eyelids, her nose, her cheeks and finally her lips again. Just as Jiyong was about to take the kiss a little deeper, Chaerin’s phone rang. She jumped up from his lap, feeling like she had committed a crime. She ran towards the dining table where she had left her phone and saw that it was Jay calling. She quickly answered the call. “Jay oppa...” “Ya! I’ve been calling you on Skype for the past 30 minutes! I thought something happened to you.” “I’m alright...” Before Chaerin can continue, Jiyong took the phone out of her hand. “Bro, we’re having a reunion here. Can you call her later?” “Oh, Jiyong, you are there already? Well, the thing is I have Teddy hyung and Bommie noona with me, actually almost everyone is here when they heard that I was going to go on Skype with Chaerin. Why not just let us have a quick conversation with her and we’ll let you get back to your 245


reunion?” Jiyong was about to say no to Jay’s request when Chaerin took back the phone from her and shot him a sharp look. “Jay oppa, let’s do the conference call now.” “You sure it’s alright? Jiyong sounded pissed.” “He will have to learn to deal with it. There will be times where I will ignore him because of work.” “Alright if you say so.” Without a second word to Jiyong, Chaerin walked to her laptop and revived it from hibernation mode. Before long the conference call from Jay came through and the moment Chaerin accepted the call, she was greeted with faces. Everyone was there! The 2NE1 and Big Bang members, Teddy and Jay all tried to get her attention at the same time. “OK! Dara and Bom unnie, calm down, I can’t hear anything above your screaming. Stupid Panda, stop opening and closing your mouth, it’s ugly. Bae and TOP oppa, please calm your girlfriends down. Dae oppa, tissue paper for Minzy please. Teddy oppa, Jay oppa, annyeong~” Again, everyone tried to talk all at once. Chaerin laughed at the chaos but if she wanted to end the call fast, she knew she had to take charge. “Alright, can I talk to Teddy and Jay oppa first about Bommie unnie’s song then I will talk to the rest of you, ok?” “YA! ALL OF YOU!! Just talk about the song and that’s that!” The moment the group heard and saw Jiyong, it was chaos again. “Jiyong oppa, would you mind going to the grocer’s down the street to get some food? I only have vegetables in the fridge.” “But!”

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“Please?” Chaerin stood up and led Jiyong to the door. After giving him another quick hug and kiss on the lips, Jiyong reluctantly got ready to leave the apartment after Chaerin handed him his sunglasses, hoodie and a mask. “Buy food that you want to eat alright?” “The conference call had better ended by the time I’m back. I want you to myself.” “Oppa, you are here with me. They are not. Be reasonable. Go and come back safely.” Jiyong reluctantly left the house but he knew if he had stayed he would have barked at the crowd every 2 minutes. He had seen the grocer when he was on his way up just now. He made his way there and started buying the food he would want Chaerin to cook for him. In no time, he had filled 3 baskets full of food. Back at the apartment, the moment Chaerin sat back down in front of the laptop, the commotion started again. Chaerin put up her hand to stop the commotion and signalled that she wanted to speak. “Jiyong oppa just turned up at the door about 40 minutes ago. I don’t know how he got here but since YG arranged for his friend to pick him up, I’m guessing he flew out to Milan last night on YG’s private jet. And no, we are not official yet but no, Panda, I won’t agree to dating you. Unnies, yes, he would be moving in with me but there’s enough rooms in the apartment so don’t worry.” When Chaerin hinted that Jiyong would be staying in a different room, the guys all exchanged a look and almost laughed out loud. The only reason why they didn’t was because they knew Dara and Bom were going to scream and demand to fly out to Milan immediately. “Minzy ah, don’t cry. Look at Dae oppa, he looks so worried. I’m ok, I’m doing fine. Jiyong oppa is here with me now. You guys can also come and visit me if you want to. Now, can we get down to work?”

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For the next 15 minutes, Chaerin talked to Jay, Teddy and Bom about the song and listened to the preliminary recording. She gave them her honest opinions and how she think the song could be better. They told her that they would tweak according to her suggestions and will call her again to let her have a listen. After the work part was done, the 3 couples and Seungri came forward and she started talking to them. No matter how she sees it, she could see the happiness coming from the 3 couples. The conversation died down after a while and each of the couple said that they had to be somewhere. But they got Chaerin’s contact number and promise to message and call her. The only person left in front of the camera was Seungri. Chaerin frowned at him. He returned the frown with a grin and stuck out his tongue at her. “Ya! Don’t be so childish! Have you been up to any mischief lately?” “Ya! Lee Chaerin! I’m the oppa here and you ‘ya-ed’ me! I should ask Ji hyung to scold you.” “If you do not behave like an ‘oppa’, why should I treat you like one? Stupid Panda! Look at the shadows round your eyes! Must have been watching porn again!” “YA! LEE CHAERIN!!! Now that you mentioned it!! What kind of letter did you leave for me?!” “STUPID PAN...” “LEE SEUNGHYUN!!! I’m warning you, if you ever scream at Chaerin again, I will smack you so hard when I see you again.” Without warning, Jiyong picked Chaerin up from the chair, sat down and put her on his lap and then wrapped his arms around her. Chaerin struggled to get out of his embrace. “Oppa...” “Stay still.”

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Jiyong’s actions was not lost on Seungri. He knew that Jiyong was declaring his ‘ownership’ on Chaerin. There was a trace of bitterness but he tried very hard to not show it. “Ji hyung, you have a wild cat in your hands. Better be careful!” “STUPID PANDA!! YOU.. YOU.. YOU!!! “Seungri ah, I know and I won’t have her any other way. Baby, no need to get angry. I love you the way you are.” Chaerin looked at Jiyong and smiled. She turned towards Seungri and stuck out her tongue, saying ‘I win’ without words.” “Are you done with the call? You promise to cook for me. I bought so much food!” Jiyong and Chaerin started whispering to each other about the food. Seungri looked on at the scene before him and can’t help but feel a quick stab to his heart. He would have groaned out loud but Jay came over and saw that Jiyong was back and the two person had totally forgotten or had chosen to ignore Seungri. He subtly coughed to get their attention. When Jiyong and Chaerin finally broke eye contact with each other and looked at Jay, he ended the conference call after telling Chaerin that he would contact her again once they have finished the next round of recording, taking Chaerin’s opinions into consideration. “Finally. I have you to myself.” “Oppa, you were so rude to Seungri oppa. I think he’s hurt. You know how much he loves you.” “But he was shouting at you.” “This is how we communicate. Since when did we ever have a quiet conversation? Alright, enough about that, let’s go see what you have brought back from the grocer, shall we?”

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Chaerin was about to get up, but was stopped by Jiyong. “Where were we before we got interrupted by Jay’s phone call?” “Oppa, I thought you are hungry?” “I am, for you.” “Not for food?” “No.” Just then, a loud growl from Jiyong’s stomach disputed his claim. Chaerin shook her head at him and tried to get up again. He shook his head, refusing to let her get up. She gave him a peck on his cheek, hoping that he would give in. He shook his head again, signalling his disagreement. Chaerin pouted, hoping that her aegyo would soften him but that didn’t work either. His stomach growled again and Chaerin was worried that his gastric might act up. She looked at Jiyong and said seriously. “Oppa, just one kiss. Then you have to let me get started on a meal for you because I don’t want your gastric to act up again, alright?” Without waiting for Jiyong to agree or not, Chaerin bent her head down and gave him a kiss on his lips and then before he could react, quickly got off his lap and ran into the kitchen. “YA! How could you do that?! Come back here!” Chaerin didn’t bother answering him but instead got out the ingredients for Jiyong’s favorite dish and started preparing the food for him. Jiyong came to the kitchen and watched Chaerin prepare the food. A warm feeling surged through him and he walked towards Chaerin and back-hugged her. She turned and looked at him questioningly. “Thank you. You have no idea how envious of Jay I was. Having you cook for him and him being here, spending all that time with you.” “But you are here now. Till you have to go back to Korea, I’d cook for you. 250


Until you are tired of my food.” “I had wanted to do this in a more fanciful manner but I think this might be more sincere. Lee Chaerin, will you marry me?” Chaerin’s hands stopped. She put down the knife and turned slowly to face Jiyong. “Oppa, that came out of nowhere! Are we going to skip the whole dating phrase?” “No. It’s me telling you that when we decide to start a relationship, it is with marriage in mind. The only time when I would allow myself to be your exboyfriend is when I become your husband. I’m not joking about this. I don’t expect you to give me an answer immediately but be warned, if you decide to start a relationship with me, you have to know we are going to end up at the altar, taking our vows to love each other till the day we die. Remember that alright? I’m going to let you go back to cooking because if I stay here any longer, I’d just try my best to distract you. But think about what I have just said.” With that, Jiyong bent down to give Chaerin a chaste kiss on the lips and then got up before the kiss got more serious. He released his hold around her waist and walked back into the living room. He had put his cards on the table. The next step would be up to Chaerin to make.

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Chapter 73 20 February 2013 Milan, 3.30pm Chaerin switched off the stove and put the food that she had just finished cooking onto the plates. Once everything was set onto the dining table, she looked at the feast that she had prepared for Jiyong and smiled with great satisfaction. “Jiyong oppa~! The food is ready!” No response. Chaerin walked into the living room, only to be greeted by soft snores coming from the sofa. She didn’t know what was this fluffy happiness she was feeling when she looked at Jiyong sleeping. She walked to the sofa and knelt down before him. A beautiful smile appeared on her face. Instead of waking him up, Chaerin leaned in and rested her head on Jiyong’s chest, her right ear near his heart. Her right arm went round his waist and her left arm rested itself on his shoulders. She didn’t see the smile that was on Jiyong’s face, nor how he was looking at her. He was napping but when she called out to him, he woke up almost immediately. He decided to see what Chaerin would do. He was a tad surprised when Chaerin didn’t try to wake him up immediately. He was jolted awake when he felt her resting her head on his chest and pretty much wrap herself around him. I could get used to this. Jiyong hoped that all this skinship that she was initiating meant that she wasn’t going to put up a big fight when he proposed that he sleeps in the same room, on the same bed with her. He would have wanted to stay in this position for the rest of his life but his stomach growled at the moment and that reminded Chaerin that he was hungry. She quickly untangled herself from him and proceeded to wake him up.

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“Oppa! Wake up! Come on! You need to get food into your stomach before you get gastric.” Seeing that Jiyong was not waking up, Chaerin started shaking his shoulders. She totally didn’t see what happened to her next coming. Jiyong reached up and pulled her down so that she was resting on him like she was just a while ago. Only this time, he wrapped his arms around her waist so that she couldn't move away. After getting over the shock, Chaerin tried to push herself up but Jiyong held her tighter. “Don’t move. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would do to you. 5 minutes more alright? It feels so good like that.” “Oppa! Let me go! The food is getting cold. Come on, I cooked your favorite dishes!” Chaerin had to get out of Jiyong’s embrace. She was fighting the impulse to kiss him senseless and she knew he would be all too happy to play along. “My favorite food is in my arms. Why would I want to let go?” As if he was try to prove his point, he sat up a little and bit Chaerin's shoulder lightly and then kiss the spot that he bit. “OUCH! Oppa! I hate you! Let me go now!” Jiyong sat up suddenly, still holding on to Chaerin. She started to struggle, hoping to get out of his hold. He leaned in and whispered softly in her ear. “Baby, if you want us to get off this sofa and go eat the delicious meal that you have prepared, you have to stop moving. Otherwise, it's not going to be your shoulders that I'm going to bite this time. Come here, just stay like this for a while more and I promise we'll go eat alright?” Without waiting for her answer, Jiyong hugged Chaerin close. Chaerin could hear the desire and hunger in his voice and was thankful that he wasn't looking at her eyes, for fear that he would see the same desire and hunger in her eyes. So she gave in to the hug and wind her arms around his neck.

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“Oppa, thank you.” And she was really thankful. She knew that Jiyong was exerting a lot of control over himself and letting her get used to his presence. He has always been a touchy person and definitely not shy when it comes to sexual conquests. She was thankful that he respected her enough to know that she wasn't ready to go further than the hugs and kisses. The two of them stayed in that position, just enjoying being in each other's arms. After all, they have just been reunited. Though 19 days can't be said to be a long separation but it was enough for them to know being able to hold each other was a blessing not to be taken for granted. GROOOOWWWWLLLL... Both of them chuckled at the growl that Jiyong's stomach just decided to emit again. Chaerin got up slowly and Jiyong didn't put up a fight this time. Once she stood up, Chaerin stretched out her hand to help Jiyong up. “No monkey business. Don't pull me down again. Let's go eat, oppa. I'm hungry too.” Jiyong took hold of Chaerin's hand and got up swiftly. But he didn't let go and instead entwined his fingers with hers. Chaerin looked down at their hands then looked up at Jiyong questioningly. “Not going to let go, no matter how short the distance, I want to walk with you by my side, hand in hand.” Chaerin tried to hide her smile but it was difficult. She raised their hands and kissed their joined hands then nodded in agreement to what he had just said. Jiyong smiled shyly because he was a little embarrassed by what he just said to her. But it came out so naturally that he was also surprised by himself. When they reached the dining table, Jiyong's eyes literally bulged out. Laid out on the table was some of his favorite dishes, from Kimchi stew to bulgogi and all the side dishes. It was like he had not left Korea. The fragrance from the dishes caused his stomach to growl again. Chaerin let go of his hand and signalled without words for him to sit down.

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“I'm going to heat up the stew and get you a warm bowl of rice. Give me a minute.” Jiyong watched as Chaerin took the pot containing the stew to the stove and set it to heat up. Then she went to get rice for the both of them. She was quick and efficient, not wasting a single movement. Before long, the stew was heated up and she brought it back to the table. After making sure that everything was in place, she sat down opposite Jiyong. “Eat well, oppa~” Without another word, Jiyong picked up his spoon and tried the stew first. He looked at Chaerin, wide-eyed and went on to pick up a piece of bulgogi and popped that into his mouth, followed by a big spoonful of rice. Chaerin just kept on looking at him, wanting to know if the taste was to his liking. But Jiyong just continued eating without saying a word. Before long, he had finished the bowl of rice and that was when he stopped. “Why are you not eating? I thought you were hungry? Is there anymore rice left?” “Yes, do you want me to get it for you?” “No, you eat. I can get it myself.” Jiyong got up from his seat and went to get himself another bowl of rice. Chaerin continued watching him, a frown was starting to form. The moment Jiyong sat down, he started eating again. “Oppa, if the food is not to your liking, it's alright.” Jiyong was about to put another piece of bulgogi into his mouth but stopped at Chaerin's statement. “What are you talking about? It's my 2nd bowl of rice and you think that the food is not to my liking?” “But you didn't say anything. I was worried that you were eating in a hurry so that you don't have to really taste the food.” “I'm eating fast because I'm hungry and the food is really good. I'm worried 255


that if you keep feeding me this way, Hwangssabu is going to kill me when I go back to Korea.” “That's a relief. Don't worry. I would try to balance the meals. Eat more then.” “You should eat too.” They ate in silence for a while. Jiyong was finishing his second bowl of rice and started slowing down. He wanted an answer to his proposal but he didn't know how to broach the subject. There was the fear that she might reject him. Even though he had expected her not to agree to it right from the beginning, he was still hoping for the best. Finally, he decided there was no other way other than being direct about it. “Chaerin, tell me, what is your answer to my proposal?” Chaerin was worried that this question would come up. She had thought of little else while she was cooking. That was part of the reason why she was worried about the food. “Oppa, you said you would give me time to think about it. I really don't know. While I really want to go into a relationship with you but...” “What are your worries? Tell me so that I know and we can work things out.” “First off, I'm not going back to Korea in the near future. I don't think I can handle being in a relationship with you but not having you with me. You mentioned that you are going a solo tour? What's that about?” “I have the intention to reduce my solo activities, so I suggested the solo tour as a thank you and farewell gift to the fans.” “But you are doing so well.” “Which is why it is best to take a step back while I'm at the height of success.” “Does this have anything to do with you wanting us to be in a relationship? Did Boss say that if you want to go into a relationship with me, you have use your solo career as an exchange? If that's the case, I'd not allow it.” 256


“Chaerin, listen to me. You told YG yourself that I would not let anyone, not even our boss interfere with our relationship. You think YG would let me fly out here if he hadn't accepted that I have a different priority in life now? Baby, standing on the top of the world is not my dream anymore. I have been there, I love it but after the applause ends, it's just empty silence. I have no one to go home to, I have no one to share that joy with me. It's lonely up there. Remember I told you that I have a new dream now? Do you want to know what it is?” Chaerin looked at Jiyong. He could see the uncertainty in her eyes and he knew he had to reassure her. He went to the coat rack and took out the envelope he had been bringing around with him wherever he went. He walked back to the dining table, sat down and then took out the dream card that Chaerin had picked up from the trashcan years ago and kept it for him. “Remember this? You picked up my dreams and protected them, then stood by me to make sure that I fulfilled all of them.” He stretched out his hand and signalled for Chaerin to take it. When she did, he saw her look at the dreams that he had written down years ago and smiled. “Oppa, you are right. You have fulfilled all your dreams.” “Now, turn the card over. Those are my new dreams and again, I can only fulfill them with you and only you by my side.” Chaerin hesitated. With Jiyong telling her that she was a crucial part of this new dream of his, she had an inkling of an idea what it was. After all, the proposal didn't come as a total surprise. It was sudden but not at all surprising considering the kind of messages he had been sending to her. She bit her lower lip, an action that reflected her anxiety that Jiyong knew all too well. “Oppa, what about MY dreams? I still have so much I want to achieve in life. And going into a relationship, with you or any other guys, might mean that I have to give them up. Have you thought about that?” “Tell me then, what are your dreams?”

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“I want to find a stage of my own, be it fashion or as a rapper. To stand on it and speak out loud, to express myself the way I want to. You have done it all, but I have not. I'm still hungry for recognition as a female artiste.” “I’m not going to stop you from doing all that. Chaerin, our relationship is between the two of us. If you are worried about the repercussions of going public with our relationship because it might hurt me, then, that’s the least of your worries. Or mine for that matter. If keeping it a secret puts you at ease, we’ll keep it a secret until you are ready. Whatever dreams you have, I want to be beside you and supporting you, just like what you have done for me.” “Don’t you think it’d be better to talk about this when I’m back in Korea more permanently? To be honest, I don’t have confidence in a long-distance relationship. And if you are going to do your solo tour, it's going to be even more difficult. I have seen how the constant separation during our respective world tour had affected your members and mine. They felt so insecure because of that.” “Chaerin, are you worried that I might cheat on you?” Jiyong’s question was met with silence. In that time, he knew that above every concern she might have, the one she’s most concerned about would be how true this love he has for her is. All at once, Jiyong felt defeated, something that he had not known for a while. “Oppa, I've known that I'm in love with you for a long time. You are the only man I look at and you have taken up a permanent spot in my heart probably since the first moment our eyes met so many years ago. And maybe that affection was mutual for a while. But that went away. You went away from my life, though I kept standing there. How do I know that this is not a reaction because I walked away from you finally and you are just disorientated? So if you want an answer NOW, then my answer is no, I won't marry you.” Chaerin saw the hurt flashed in Jiyong's eyes and had to look away because tears had filled her eyes. She put down her chopsticks hastily, stood up and started to walk away. But she didn't get far. Jiyong caught her wrist and stopped her. He stood up in front of her and lifted her chin to look at him. But she tried to shake free from his hold, afraid that he would see her tears. 258


However, they had already rolled down her cheeks and it reached his hand, scalding both his hands and heart. “You are not even going to give me a chance to prove to you that I'm serious about this? If you do not want to talk about marriage, then let's take it slow. We won't talk about that right now. But keep that in mind, because I would keep on asking. To answer your question, Youngbae and Seungri had both asked me the same question, if I'm just reacting to the shock of your sudden departure. I would admit initially I was. But as the days passed and I thought back to our days together in the past, as I worked through all my emotions and talked to people, I came to one conclusion.” Jiyong paused. It was important that she was looking at him when he said what he was going to next. Chaerin knew that he was waiting, waiting for her to look at him. She was reluctant because she was afraid that she would give in. Yet at the same time, she wanted to know. So she slowly turned to look him in the eye. Once their eyes met, Jiyong held both her hands. “You, Lee Chaerin, are the only one I want to go back home to after conquering the world. You are the only one with whom I want to have a family with. So, I'm not going anywhere until we have decided on our next step. My solo tour can be pushed back. That's how much I want you in my life. You are my top priority from now on.” “Jiyong oppa...” “Like I said, you don't have to decide right now. Today had been a little overwhelming for the both of us. Let's just put all this talk about the proposal and a relationship aside for now and enjoy being with each other for now, alright? Chaerin, I want to be your Jingyo oppa again. Jay told me that just as HunChae is mine exclusively, Jingyo is yours exclusively too. He's right here waiting for you to accept him again. Just know that I'm going to be here, not going anywhere anymore. Wherever you are, there's where my life is, got it?” Chaerin was touched by the sincerity that she saw in Jiyong's eyes and his voice. Her unsettled heart became steadier, as if Jiyong was not just holding her hands but was also holding on to her heart and telling it to trust him. She nodded her understanding and when Jiyong pulled her hands and placed them around his waist and wrapped his around her, she didn't protest. She

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wasn't going to lie. It felt good to be held by him. “Do you still want to eat? If not, I'd wash up since you cooked. Thanks dear, for the food. I'm going to tell my mum not to worry. I'm in good hands, though they already know that.” “I'm full. You speak as if you know what your parents think of me.” “I do, because I spoke to them about us before coming out here. I spoke to your parents too. Which reminds me, we have to call all our parents tomorrow. Your parents have been very worried about you. How could you not call them?” “You spoke to my parents? What about?” “I told you, didn't I? To get their permission to be with you.” “And what did they say?” “The exact same thing that my parents said.” “And that would be?” “'What took you so long?' So, don't worry, we have gotten the go-ahead. From the looks of it, both your parents and mine couldn't wait to get down to the wedding preparations.” Jiyong could feel the stiffening of Chaerin's body again. Without words, he just rubbed her back, soothing her. “I promise you, we won't talk about it and we won't let anyone pressure us for now, ok? We will talk to them on the phone, tell them we are safe and just enjoying each other's company and building our relationship again. This is a decision that both of us have to make together and when we embark on that path we have chosen, we will be walking together, hand-in-hand, every step of the way, alright?” Chaerin looked up at Jiyong with a frown. “Oppa, you don't like making promises...”

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“I don't like making promises to just anyone. You are different. You are going to be part of me, my life, my future. When I make a promise to you and I fulfill it, I'm fulfilling that promise to myself as well. My life would be made better too.” “You and your sweet words. No wonder so many girls have fallen for you. Aigoo~ Should I start worrying now?” “You are done worrying about that. My sweet words are for you only. In fact, my everything is yours.” “Oppa, you should learn when to stop. Too much of a good thing just spoils it all. Are you really ok with doing the dishes? If you are, I'm going to leave you to it. I have some sketches that I need to finish for school.” “Yes, I'd be alright. You go get busy with your work.” Both of them loosened their hold on each other. Chaerin was about to walk away when she was stopped by Jiyong. “Oppa?” “I'm not even going to get a thank-you kiss for offering to do the dishes?” “Oppa, you are so childish.” But Chaerin tiptoed and met his lips with hers. Jiyong was going to deepen the kiss but Chaerin stepped back. “Oppa, you dishes, me sketches.” “Baby...” “Na-ah. Oppa, we have to get one thing clear. When there's work to be done, we have to do that first. You are here on vacation, I'm here to study. So, you have to keep that in mind. If you bother me too much, I would chase you out of here, or I would find another place where I can finish my work before coming back to you. You know I'm serious about this.” “Baby...”

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“No. Jay oppa had warned me about this. So we have to set this right from the beginning. If you don't think you can handle this rule, then you are probably better off staying somewhere else.” Jiyong knew that to go head-on with Chaerin, he would definitely not gain anything. So he told himself to let it go for now. After all, he could understand the reason behind the rule since he's the same way when he's working. “Alright, I'd agree to this, for now. If you start neglecting me, I'm going to protest.” “Ok.” As a reward, Chaerin gave Jiyong another peck on the lips before walking off to her room to get started on her work. She checked her phone and was glad to see that all her members, Teddy and Seungri had all sent her a message. She checked them and couldn't help laughing when all the messages were along the same line: To take care of herself and be careful of Jiyong. She quickly sent a message back to each of them, thanking them for their concern and tell them she would be fine. Then, she put aside her phone and started on her work. After finishing the dishes, Jiyong went quietly to Chaerin's room to check on her. He stood at the door, watching his precious love sketching away, occasionally frowning and pouting. He took out his phone, making sure that it would not make any sound and took pictures of Chaerin secretly. He watched for a while more before walking back to the living room. He took out his laptop and started work on his next project: Chaerin's birthday.

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Chapter 74 20 February 2013 Milan, 8pm Jiyong put the finishing touches to the dinner that he had managed to get Mario to help bring over. After he had made his plan for Chaerin’s birthday, he had contacted Mario to seek his help and advice. Mario then asked if he wanted him to bring food over for dinner. Since Chaerin was opposed to going out to eat and he didn’t want her to have to cook again, he agreed. Once he’s done, he checked the table setting again and was pleased with himself. Though he didn’t do the cooking himself, he did tell Mario what food to buy for them. He had gotten all of Chaerin’s favorites and the strawberry shortcake that they had forgotten would be for desserts. Jiyong walked quietly to Chaerin’s room and saw that she was still sleeping. Earlier on, after he was done with his planning, he had gone to check on her and found her sleeping on her sketches. He had gently carried her from her work desk over to the bed and tucked her in. He walked over to the bed now and sat down on the chair he had placed beside it and watched her sleep. I could do this my whole life... To wake up beside her every single morning. And go to bed with her every night, holding her in my arms. Deciding that it was getting late and he had better wake her up to have her dinner, he moved onto the bed. He tucked her hair behind her ear, leaned down, gave her a peck on the cheeks before whispering in her ear. “Baby Hunchae, wake up... If you don’t want to stay up the whole night later, wake up now and eat something, mm?” Chaerin stirred but didn’t wake up. But now, Jiyong was looking straight at her face and not her side profile. Even though he was tempted to just kiss her on the lips, he knew it might have the opposite effect of getting to the dining table fast. He opted for a kiss on the forehead instead, then whispered softly in Chaerin’s ear again. “Sleeping Beauty, you have got to wake up now. Otherwise, I’m going to kiss you on your lips and then we won’t get to eat the delicious food that I

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bought.” Chaerin remained very still but Jiyong saw the slight smile on her lips. So you want to play? Let’s play then~ “Alright, since you don’t want to eat, I shall have to go finish all the food on my own.” Jiyong lifted himself away from the bed but his eyes remained on Chaerin’s face and he saw the slight frown and pout that appeared. Very swiftly, he placed his lips on hers and when she let out an ‘o’ of surprised, captured her upper lip and massaged it with his own. Then he released the upper lip and did the same with her lower lips.. Chaerin was definitely taken by surprise. She had wanted to trick him to kiss her on the lips and then ‘attack’ him. But she had felt him leaving the bed and almost just caught his wrist. Then he had swooped down and just kissed her. Well, I guessed I got what I wanted. Jiyong could feel the smile on her lips when he gave her one final peck on the lips. When he pulled back, looked down at her face and looked at her beautiful brown eyes, he smiled. “Happy now? Would you wake up now for dinner? Tell me, is this going to be a regular thing? Kissing before any meal?” Chaerin looked away, a slight blush creeping onto her cheeks. She made her bubble face and that was the cutest thing that Jiyong has ever seen. He grinned and poked her cheeks. “Come on, the food is getting cold. And if you sleep more, you are not going to be able to sleep tonight.” Chaerin sat up suddenly and this time, Jiyong was caught by surprise when she kissed him and then got up from the bed. “Oppa, what did you get for dinner?”

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Without waiting for Jiyong’s reply, she walked out of the room and into the kitchen. When she saw all the food on the table and how it was set up nicely, she grinned. How different a day makes! A day ago, I was just moaning about being alone.. Now, I have the one person I want the most beside me, with me. I’m such a lucky girl. Jiyong came up behind her and led her to the table. He was tempted to back-hug her but that would mean delaying the dinner further. He decided further cuddling can be done while having desserts later. He just couldn’t decide what he wanted for desserts: the strawberry shortcake or Lee Chaerin. “Oppa, did you go out on the streets to get all this? You did your research before coming huh? This is one of the best restaurant in Milan and you can’t even get in without reservations. Wait, they don’t do take-outs. How...” “I called YG’s friend for help, more specifically his butler of sorts. I just told him what you would like to eat and he got all this.” “Boss’ connections is really no joke! But who is this friend of his?” “I only know it’s the Gulliano household.” “WHAT?! Did you say Gulliano? Oh my...” “Why? Are they really that big of a deal in Milan?” “Oppa, you stayed in the Gulliano mansion on your first night here? Wow, I’m jealous! I heard it’s crazy inside.” “It is. I was stunned by the mere luxury of the guest room. But who are they?” “They are one of the richest family in Italy, dabbling in all sorts of business, from real estates, hotels, fashion, you name it, you can probably find traces of Gulliano in them. In fact, they sponsored the building of the school I’m in and give out scholarships and stuff. A lot of notable graduates from my school are all designers for fashion brands or interior designers for the 265


Gullianos.” “No wonder Mario was shocked when I mentioned I wanted to go to your school on the first day here. Even the school looked amazing.” “You’ve been to my school?” “How did you think those roses get there?” “But the receptionist said the florist down the street sent them.” “I told her to say that. I saw you when you came out to look for me.” “Then why didn’t you appear then?” “Do you really want us to be seen on the streets? Not to mention, you would have to go back inside for class and I didn’t know if I could let you go once I have you in my arms. So I decided to delay our reunion.” “Pfft.” Without another word, Chaerin started eating the food. The food was a little cold but still delicious nonetheless. She totally ignored Jiyong. She was a little angry that he lied to her deliberately. Though she reasoned with herself that his reasons for doing so were valid and just. Because she would have found it difficult to walk back into the school if she had seen him then. “You are not going to talk to me now?” Chaerin looked up, fork in hand with spaghetti mid-way to her mouth. “I’m eating. I can’t eat and talk at the same time.” Having said that, she brought the fork to her mouth and ate. She looked at Jiyong and realized that he wasn’t eating. “Oppa, why aren’t you eating?” “Are you angry with me? For not showing myself at the school?” “I was but you have a point too so that’s that. You should eat. The food is

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getting cold.” “You do know the only reason why I’m not insistent that we go out is because I’m trying to protect you right? Personally, I have no qualms about being seen with you on the streets, holding hands and all. Just so we are clear on that.” Chaerin put down her fork and took Jiyong’s left hand in hers. “Oppa, I know. But I still feel the need to protect you too. And your fans as well. It’d be hard for them to take it all in right now.” “You didn’t make it easy with all that ‘we’re just colleagues’ or ‘we’re like brother and sister’ statements in interviews.” “But that’s what we are...” “Were...” “We are still going to be colleagues at YGE, you are still going to be like a brother to me...” “Is that all? You go around kissing your ‘brother’ now?” “Above and beyond what we might become, these are the building blocks of our relationship. Are you glad that our relationship is built on something concrete, like affection and care for a friend and family?” “And what might we become?” Chaerin went quiet. Jiyong took a deep breath to calm the anger and anxiety that had come with her statement, remembering his own promise to her. “We might become real family...” Jiyong looked at Chaerin, not quite believing what he just heard. “What did you say?” “I said, ‘we might become real family’. Look, oppa, I didn’t say that it’s impossible for us to become a couple or get married. I just think we need

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some time to think about everything.” “I’m glad that you are keeping that in mind.” “Like you would let me forget. Oppa, I like that we have a close relationship before because we truly cared about each other. My actions are motivated by my love for you, that had never changed. So, if you ever find yourself in doubt about how much I love you, don’t. Because I do, very very much, even if I’m hesitating on this whole relationship and marriage with you.” “Chaerin ah, that’s what I don’t understand. I mean you seemed pretty open to all the hugs, kissing and all but resistant to the idea of a relationship. Why?” “Within this apartment, I’m ok with it. If we stepped out of this apartment, I won’t even be anywhere near you. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Jay oppa. I know your style. If I said ‘yes’ to a relationship with you, you would not care two hoots about discretion and just do what you want. So I guess till you understand that concept, you can think of it as I’m only in a ‘relationship’ with you in this apartment.” “You know me too well. At this moment, I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not.” “It’s a good thing because I’m thinking for the two of us.” Chaerin continued eating after saying that last statement but that got Jiyong thinking about what Jay and pretty much everyone had told him. Chaerin had been thinking for him for way too long. He had to show that he could be trusted to do the thinking for THEM before she would agree to the relationship and proposal. “Oppa, what are you going to do during this time? Knowing you, you will be be suffering withdrawal from not working very soon. Do you have any work planned?” “I guess I would write some songs, think about my solo tour performances, what I want to include, who I want to invite as guests and how to convince you that I can think for the two of us now.” “Good, at least I know you would be occupied and won’t be needing my 268


attention all the time. Even though school just started but the projects have all started to come in. So excited for all of that!! Oh yes, Seungho oppa might be coming here soon so you have someone to hang out with.” “How come you know that he’s coming and I don’t?” “Why would he tell you? No one knows you are in Milan before the Skype call, except for Jay oppa and YG. So if he’s coming to Milan, obviously he would tell me right? And I have offered to take him in. Both of you would have to share a room. So don’t get too comfortable with the space.” “Who says I’m sharing a room with him?” “There’s only 2 rooms in this apartment that I can use. I’m already using one of them, you’d be using the other. If you don’t share with him, you want me to share mine with him? I don’t really mind...” “YA! You are alright with sharing a room with Xin but you never let the notion of me sharing your room with you enter your head?” “Huh? Why do you need to share a room with me when there is another room in the apartment for your use? Xin isn’t going to be here for a long time, and he would know to sleep on the floor if he’s sharing the room with me. You, on the other hand... Nah, I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to be in the same room.” “Well, if you think that I’m going to be sleeping in the other room, you are sorely mistaken. I’m going to be in the same room with you, whether you like it or not.” “I can always use the other room if you really like my room that much.” “Are you afraid of me? Don’t worry, I won’t force myself on you.” “Oppa, I don’t think it’s wise for the 2 of us to be in the same room. What would your parents think of me if I let you sleep in the same room as me?” “You are going to be my wife eventually and they know it. I think they would kill me if they know I let Xin sleep in your room with YOU. So would your parents.”

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“So you sleep in the other room with him, problem solved.” “He can have the whole room for himself if you share yours with me.” “I’m full. Oppa, do you want coffee or tea with the strawberry shortcake?” “We have not decided on the sleeping arrangement.” “You can sleep in whichever room you want. I would just take the other one.” With that, Chaerin got up from her chair and went to the stove to boil water for her tea. She knew there was no point in arguing with Jiyong over the bedroom issue. He would just do what he wants. He just forgot that he was dealing with her, who would just do what she wants too. “Oppa, you haven’t answered me yet.” “I already told you I’m going to be in the same bedroom as you.” “I meant coffee or tea.” “It doesn’t matter, I’d have what you are having.” “Alright, tea it is then. Are you done with dinner?” “Yes, but we have not resolved the sleeping arrangement yet.” “We haven’t resolved that? Oh ok. I was going to sleep in the living room couch. Since there’s more than one couch and it can only hold one person.” “Chaerin ah...” “Yes, Jiyong oppa?” Jiyong kept what he wanted to say to himself. Because the moment Chaerin entered the stage of calling him ‘Jiyong oppa’, he knew she was serious. To say anything more would just push her towards the ‘Jiyong-ssi’ stage and that would probably means that she would just up and leave him in the apartment and go somewhere on her own.

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“Nothing. I was just going to clear the table.” “Thank you. The tea is almost ready. I’m going to bring the cake to the living room first. Should I get you your pillow and blanket as well when I bring out mine?” “Fine, I’d sleep in the other room. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable and lose sleep.” “Thank you for understanding. Can you please bring the plates for the cake? And oppa?” “Hmmm?” “I love you.” Chaerin gave Jiyong a wink and walked to the living room with the strawberry shortcake. Jiyong shook his head and laughed. The other Big Bang members were right. He’s putty in her hands. After clearing the table and getting the plates for the cake, Jiyong went to the living room and saw that Chaerin had brought her sketchbook out from her work desk. He knew that there was no point in putting up a fuss that she was more concerned about work than him. He decided that he would just watch her. Chaerin was cutting the cake and when Jiyong handed her the plates, she looked up and smiled beautifully at him. He couldn’t resist. He bent down and kissed her. She smiled, and when he moved away, discreetly licked her lips. “I saw that.” “Oppa~” “Alright, I won’t tease you. I’d go get the tea from the kitchen. Where’s the sugar and milk?” “I’d get the tea. You sit down and have the cake first.” Jiyong settled down on the floor, in front of the fireplace. Then a sudden 271


thought occurred to him and he went to the room. He came back with a blanket and was met with a puzzled look from Chaerin who was carrying a tray with the tea. “Oppa, why did you bring the blanket out for?” “Because I want us to sit on the floor and cuddle.” “I guess I don’t have to worry about having to guess what’s on your mind.” “Oh baby, you have no idea what I really have in mind but I shall not go there for the time being.” Chaerin just walked ahead of him and put down the tea though she was hiding a smile. She poured out two cups of tea and prepared the tea the way Jiyong likes it. Jiyong prepared the blanket so that they would have the tea and cake within reach. He sat down and waited till Chaerin was done then opened his arms wide, indicating that’s where he wanted her to sit. Chaerin shook her head in amusement but didn’t put up a fight. She sat down in front of him and he had his arms around her the moment she was in a comfortable position. “Oppa, how are you going to eat the cake if you are holding on to me?” “You can feed me.” Chaerin took one of the plates and started cutting the cake into half, just like how she would do it in that cafe in Korea. She turned a little in Jiyong’s arms so that she was sitting to the side. Jiyong shifted so that one of his leg was supporting her back and rested his other leg on top of hers. She fed him a piece of cake and wiped away some of the excess cream from his lips using her thumb, then licked the cream from it. She did it unconsciously but that drove Jiyong crazy, thinking about if she were to lick the cream from his lips instead of using her finger. He shook his head to get rid of the image in case it got him uncomfortable. “I could really get used to this. No wonder Boss asked me not to get too comfortable. It’s only the first day and I’m already dreading the day that I have to go back to Korea.”

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“Oppa, can you not talk about that for now? We... I...” Chaerin stared at the cake in her hand. She had tears swimming in her eyes but she would not let them crawl down her cheeks. But her tone had already alerted Jiyong to her state. “Alright, I won’t talk about it. That’s not going to happen for a while still. I want some more cake~ Ahhhhh~” “But it will happen...” Jiyong took the cake from Chaerin’s hand and put it aside. He tipped her chin up to look at him. “I won’t be gone for long.” “But you will have your solo tour...” “I have already told Boss that I’m flying to Milan after every stop, so you don’t have to worry about that.” “You are going to be so tired that way.” “But I’m coming to you. My heart will be more tired if it’s away from you.” “Maybe you shouldn’t have come... I’m going to get more greedy and want more from you. What is happening to my independence?” Jiyong pulled her close to him and her arms went round his waist almost automatically now. He smiled then kissed her forehead. “It became interdependence. Just as you are going to get more greedy and want more from me, it’s going to be the same for me. And only by giving to each other can we become stronger for each other. If I can, I would bring you to each stop with me. But you are chasing after your dream here and I cannot be selfish and want you to put it aside for me. That’s the last thing I want for you. So, don’t worry, I would come to you.” “You promise?”

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“Of course, this is going to be the easiest promise to keep. Coming to you is the only way to keep myself alive.” “Maybe I would go back to Korea when I have breaks in between. I still have to do those collaborations with Jay oppa that I promised him.” “Tsk~ You would only go back to Korea because of your collaborations with Jay? What about me?” “You are the only reason why I would travel to and fro. Doing the collaborations is a way to get my mind off you in case you are busy.” “I wanted Boss to work my schedule around yours but that’s not quite possible since you do not know when you would be back.” “Don’t do that. I don’t want to get in the way if you are busy. I would need to go and visit my family and all that too.” “But what if you are only back for the weekend and I can’t take time off to see you.” “Then I would go see you but only stay as long as it doesn’t get in your way. We’ll work something out, right?” “Of course.” Jiyong leaned in for a kiss and tasted the cream from the cake on her lips. He couldn’t resist nibbling on her lips like he was eating the cake. He leaned back a little and saw Chaerin’s annoyed look and the desire in her eyes. “Mmmm, yummy...” He put his lips back on hers. Passion exploded between the two of them. This time, Chaerin took the lead. She moved her right hand up towards Jiyong’s neck but not before caressing him on the way. She tentatively used her tongue to lick his lips and when his touched hers, she retreated, giving Jiyong’s tongue a reason to enter her mouth in search of its playmate. Jiyong’s hands didn’t rest either. He used his right hand to cup Chaerin’s face so that he could concentrate on the kiss. His left hand was caressing 274


her back at first but sneaked in under her shirt to touch skin. Jiyong fought with himself but in the end managed to convince himself that if he moved his left hand elsewhere, things would get out of hand. So it stayed put at Chaerin’s back. Chaerin knew she had to pull back before she threw caution to the wind and just do what she wanted with Jiyong. She moved her head back a little and Jiyong knew that was his cue to end the kiss. After one last lick of her lips, he gave her a few more pecks on the lips and then drew her close to rest his head on the crook of her neck. He turned and kissed her shoulder, gave it a soft bite and then sucked gently on it. He wanted to leave a mark on her and at the moment that was the safest spot since they can’t wear sleeveless clothes just yet because of the cold weather. “Oppa...” “Hmmm...” “Would you laugh at me if I say I have a change of heart regarding our sleeping arrangement?” “Why would I laugh at you when it’s what I want too? It is what I want right?” “Yes.” “Why the change of heart though?” “I want you to be the first and last person I see every day for as long as you are here.” “Great minds think alike. That was the main reason why I wanted to be in the same room with you.” “Really? It was not the cuddling and the kisses?” “Those are secondary. The most important thing is to fall asleep with you in my arms and to wake up with you in my arms.” “What did I do to deserve you?” 275


“I could ask the same question. But you are definitely worth it. No matter what I have to give up in the future, nothing is more important than you. Always remember that.” Chaerin nodded, her heart gaining more and more confidence that just as she had put Jiyong in her heart, he had also put her in his. Jiyong picked up the forgotten cake and started feeding Chaerin and himself. Chaerin picked up Jiyong’s tea and held the cup while he drank from it. Sometimes love is just that simple. To be beside the one you love and to watch their eyes light up when they see you. And know that the same light you see is reflected in your own eyes as well.

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Chapter 75 24 February 2013 4pm, Milan Jiyong and Chaerin settled into a kind of routine in Milan. Chaerin would get up in the morning, go for her jog and come back with ingredients for breakfast so she could cook for Jiyong. Jiyong would wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking and go into the kitchen, seeking Chaerin out. At first, he was reluctant to let her go for her jog but she gave him 2 choices: either she gets to go in the morning or she would do the jog after school, which effectively meant that they would have lesser time together since afternoons are dedicated to school work and for Jiyong, song writing and planning for his tour. So, he let her go for her morning jog. Usually, Chaerin would be back from school around 1pm. Jiyong would either have gone out to get lunch for the 2 of them if Chaerin had to stay in school a little longer or Chaerin would buy food back for the both of them. But on this day, she was 3 hours late. When he called her at 1pm, she told him that she had something on, asked him to get lunch for himself and then hung up on him. When he tried to call again, he couldn’t get her on the phone. Checking the time and realizing that it was 4pm, he was about to call her again when he heard footsteps. He went to the door and was about to reprimand her when he saw something he had never expected to see: Xin piggybacking Chaerin and she was all delighted. Xin was equally surprised to see Jiyong at the door. He had come over to Milan because his friend, who happened to be one of the lecturers at Istituto Marangoni, recognized Chaerin as one of the girls he had styled before and told him about it. Thinking that he could finally spend some time with Chaerin alone, he had come over to Milan without anyone knowing, not even Soo Hyuk. He would have wanted to tag along too. Like always. “Jiyong oppa! Look who I found when I ended school today?” Chaerin got down from Xin’s back and thanked him for the piggyback ride. Xin just patted her head and tugged at her pigtails. She pouted and stuck out her tongue. She looked really cute today with her two pigtails and the

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white shirt, black shorts plus the Chanel suspenders just screamed ‘CUTE’. Jiyong smiled very politely at Xin, then reached for Chaerin’s hand and entwined hers with his. Chaerin looked at him, smiled then look at Xin. Xin smiled back at her but didn’t miss how Jiyong was holding onto Chaerin’s hand. “Seungho oppa, come inside! Jiyong oppa, have you had lunch?” “Not yet. I was worried when I couldn’t contact you.” “Oh dear! Do you want me to go and get something for you or should I cook something for you now? Seungho oppa just turned up at the school so I was caught off-guard. Sorry, I should have called you once the shock of seeing Seungho oppa wore off.” “I’m ok. I had some bread just now. Have you eaten?” “I brought her to the best pizza restaurant this side of Milan has to offer. It was fantastic, wasn’t it, Chaeroo?” “Seungho oppa, you promised not to call me that anymore! But yes, the pizzas were so good!! We should go again!” “Seungho ah, what are you doing here?” Jiyong felt uneasy having Xin around. Maybe it was the way he was looking at Chaerin, or how he was calling her by the nickname that Soo Hyuk and Xin had come up with for her. The look that Xin gave him when he saw him at the door was less than friendly too. “I’m here to see Chaerin. I was afraid that she would be lonely. And I didn’t want her to have to celebrate her birthday alone.” “Wow, Seungho oppa, really? I’m touched! Does Soo Hyuk oppa know you are here?” “Nope, if I told him, he would have wanted to tag along.” “But it would be so much fun since Jiyong oppa is here too.” 278


“Chaerin ah, I’m a little hungry now. Do you think you can go and get me something to eat?” “What do you want to eat? Maybe I should just cook dinner now?” Jiyong drew Chaerin closer to him and gave her a quick kiss on her forehead. She looked up at him shyly with a big smile on her face, momentarily forgetting that Xin was still standing next to them. “Mario is going to bring food over. I needed his help with some things and he offered to bring food over.” “Will he have enough for 3 of us? Seungho oppa is staying here till... Oppa, when are you leaving?” “I don’t know yet. I just got a one-way ticket to Milan. If I can get a freelance job here, I’d stay. Will you take me in till then?” “Of course! At least I have company when Jiyong oppa goes back to Seoul. But I’d have to tell my landlord but I guess she’d be ok with the arrangement. You are going to pay rent though! Oppa, what do you want to eat?” Jiyong was staring at Xin when he heard that he was going to stay in Milan with Chaerin. Xin was looking straight back at him. He decided then he needed to make things clear to Xin, that Chaerin’s off limits. That was the reason why he needed Chaerin to be out of the house. “Do you mind getting me some pasta from that lovely cafe you found 2 days ago?” “Alright then. Seungho oppa, do you want anything to eat? If not, you can stay here with Jiyong oppa. I’d be back shortly.” Chaerin was about to walk out of Jiyong’s loose embrace when he tighten his hold on her waist. She turned to look at him questioningly. “Did you forget something, Chaerin ah?”

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Chaerin blinked then remembered that they have made the rule that when one of them is leaving the house, they have to kiss the other first. Chaerin looked over at Xin who had a perplexed look on his face then back at Jiyong. “Oppa... Seungho oppa is here...” “Chaerin, I’m really hungry now. You don’t want me to get gastric right?” “Aigoo~” She tiptoed and gave Jiyong a quick peck on his lips. But he caught her lips before she could move away and held on to the kiss a little longer. He saw Xin look away from the corner of his eyes. He smiled, knowing that this would at least give him an idea of what the deal was between him and Chaerin. He let go of Chaerin and when he saw the slight blush on her cheeks, he couldn’t resist pinching and kissing her cheeks too. “Oppa, can I go now? I don’t want your gastric to act up.” “Ok, take care and be careful ok?” Chaerin nodded then turned to Xin. “Oppa, you can go inside and rest for a while. If you need a drink, you can ask Jiyong oppa to get it for you. Or you could just help yourself to the drinks in the refrigerator. I’d be back in a bit.” Xin looked at Chaerin and smiled at her. “Do you want me to go with you?” “If you want...” “Xin, I need your advice about some costumes that I intend to have for my solo tour.” “Since Jiyong oppa needs you, I can manage on my own. See you all later!” With that, Chaerin left the apartment without sensing the tension between the two guys. Once she was out of sight, Jiyong signalled for Xin to come

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into the apartment. Seeing that Xin didn’t have any luggage with him, Jiyong was surprised. “I thought you were going to stay here for a long time. Where’s your luggage?” “I can’t possibly lug all my luggage to go and see Chaerin right? Knowing her, she would have wanted that piggyback ride. I can’t carry my luggage and her. Plus I arrived late last night so I had to check in at a hotel first. When did you arrive?” “I got here on 20th.” “So what is going on? What’s with all the kissing and hand holding? Are you guys a couple now?” “According to Chaerin, we are a couple within this apartment.” “Does that mean that outside this apartment, she’s not your girlfriend?” “What is it to you?” “Jiyong, I’d be honest. We, when I say we, I mean Soo Hyuk and myself, have been waiting for this chance to try to catch hold of Chaerin for ourselves. If I told Soo Hyuk I know where Chaerin is, he would be on the first flight out. We never made a move before because we knew that the only person in her heart is you. But I take the fact that she had left Korea as a sign that she has given up waiting for you. So here I am.” “Oh sheesh.. I never knew all the threats are so near me. How could I be so stupid?” “You have been stupid alright. We didn’t make a move simply because we know that we won’t get her, not when her eyes are always on you, always. You do not know how many times we wanted to just whisk her away from you. Why do you think I wanted to be 2NE1’s stylist so badly? 2009 was the year I felt she finally took her eyes off you. But no, her heart, even when she didn’t want to admit it, was still yours.” “And it will continue to be mine. Look, Seungho, even if we are not officially 281


a couple now because we still have a lot of issues to talk through, and to rebuild our relationship again, we are for the long haul. I have already proposed to her and she knows that if we start this relationship, it’s heading towards marriage.” “How do we know you won’t change your mind when, I don’t know, Kiko or whoever turns up in your life again? We don’t want her hurt. Proposing and promising marriage is a big thing. If you go back on your words, I swear I’m going to punch the living daylight out of you.” “Take a number. You have no idea how many people are waiting to get their hands on me if Chaerin so much as shed a tear. But no, I’m not going to change my mind. You know me, I don’t make promises. Yet, every single promise I make to Lee Chaerin, I make it happily and willingly, with the full intention of making it come true. Because I know when I fulfill them, I’m not just making her happy, I’d be happy too. I know it might be difficult for you or Soo Hyuk to believe me right away, but I will show all of you that I’m serious about Chaerin, about being with her for the rest of my life.” Jiyong paused and look at Xin seriously. “So I would appreciate it if all of you can remain her oppa without thinking that you will stand a chance with her. Because I’m not letting go of her, ever. And I don’t want it to be awkward between us. She loves all of you very much and would hate it if the friendship is strained because we become a couple. Other than you and Soo Hyuk, who else do I have to clear with? For someone without any elder siblings, she has a row of oppas willing to take up armor for her.” “It’s good if you can speak to the whole gang. They all love her very much as a younger sister. So seriously, you hurt her, you are pretty much done for. No one will let you get away with it. I may sound harsh but we only want her to be happy. And if you say you are going to be the one to give her happiness, you had better make sure you do.” “You guys are scarier than her parents.” “That’s because we have seen first-hand how much you have hurt her. I’m amazed that she lets you into the apartment in the first place. Remember,

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you do not deserve this grace and generosity she’s showing towards you. Be grateful always for this. And I’m never going to stop giving her piggyback rides. No matter who else comes into my life and will become my girlfriend or wife, if they cannot understand that Chaerin will always get her piggyback rides from me, they cannot stay in my life. I’d rather lose that girl than Chaerin. I’m sure Soo Hyuk will tell you something similar. Damn, I still can’t believe how lucky you are.” “But I have your word that you won’t try to woo her or take her away from me when I’m not here? Seriously, you bought a one-way ticket to Milan? And you are going to stay here till when?” “My intention was to stay till she goes back to Korea anyway. I have a few job offers so I can definitely stay around. Don’t you wish to enlist my help in making sure that no guys get near her?” “I don’t even know if I can trust YOU!” “I won’t want to break the oppa link I have with her. So I definitely won’t risk it. I just want her to be happy and if she’s going to be happiest with you, then I’m content to be her oppa.” “No bad feelings? We are still bros?” “From the first day you brought her into our gang, we knew that Chaerin’s special to you. No matter how many girlfriends you went through, while you might make introductions, but we never see the same girl twice. Some, we never see at all. But she remained, she became close to us, not because we are your friends but because she genuinely wanted to be our friends. She became dear to us because when we needed her, she’s there, even when you weren’t. This is why I would always give her that piggyback ride when she asks for it. Or why Soo Hyuk will buy her a lollipop or the world if she asked for it. She’s that important to us. And you have to understand this as well. Her bond with us is as strong as your bond with us. You should feel lucky that she would never make you choose between her and us. You are such a lucky bastard!” “I’m only just beginning to realize it but I thank whoever’s watching over me from up there. You won’t believe me, the past few days have been

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amazing!” “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is just the beginning. With your position as a global idol star and her celebrity status, it is not going to be easy. You need to be so much stronger, so much more determined to survive the odds. But you are lucky. You have Lee Chaerin. Her eyes and heart had been set on you for too long. Once she decides to fight for you, she’s not going to let go. Don’t let her think about letting you go at all. At all.” “So when are you going to move in here?” “Tomorrow. Since it’s the eve of her birthday.” “About that, I have a selfish request. Can I have her to myself on her birthday? Please? I have not celebrated her birthday with her since 2009.” “You can have her on her Italian birthday. I’m taking her out for her Korean birthday tomorrow afternoon. So you have to take care of your own lunch and dinner tomorrow. I would bring her back before midnight. Soo Hyuk is going to be SO jealous! I’m going to send him pictures tomorrow!” “Fine. Let me show you your room then.” “Am I sharing the room with you?” “No.” “Then where do you sleep?” Jiyong grinned and raised his eyebrows, as if saying ‘you mean you need to ask that?’. Xin took a minute to realize what the look meant. “Fucking lucky ass you are!! Damn, I don’t want to hear strange noises at night!” “Get your dirty mind out of the gutter! You won’t hear strange noises.” “What?! You are actually restraining yourself? Wow, Kwon Jiyong, I salute you. She’s... How could you resist?”

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“Because she’s worth the wait. I’ve got a whole lifetime with her. Until she’s ready or until we are married, I’m content to be able to go to bed with her in my arms and wake up with her in my arms.” “Alright, I’m sold. You are crazy in love with her.” “Yes, I am.” “Oh my, I can’t wait to tell the others about it, starting from Soo Hyuk!” “Well, if you want your alone time with Chaerin tomorrow afternoon, then you’d better keep it to yourself. And by that, I mean you shouldn’t post any pictures of you and Chaerin on Instagram. She’s still off the radar so I would want to keep it that way. The moment people can guess where she is, my movement will be even more restricted than now. And I definitely do not need people to dig and find out that this apartment belongs to Jay’s cousin.” “Woooo~ So Jay’s in the picture as well? Man, you are in a lot of danger. Jay is one of Chaerin’s biggest fan boys.” “Jay oppa is not my fan boy. What kind of danger is there?” Chaerin put the packages down on the table and went about getting the utensils for Jiyong’s meal. The boys had been so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t even hear her come in. “Oppa, you must be famished by now. Here you go...” Jiyong and Xin exchanged a look of disbelief, then looked at Chaerin. For a girl as smart as Chaerin, she could be so not-in-the-know. But how could she not realize that Jay has been her fan boy for the longest time? Jiyong wasn’t going to ponder about the finer point of that. He was thanking his lucky stars that Chaerin can be oblivious when it comes down to attention given to her by guys. Jiyong simply walked up to her and hugged her. Chaerin turned and looked at him, again questioningly. She knew that Jiyong is touchy but he was exceptionally so today. Jiyong smiled and shook his head, telling her it’s no big deal. She shrugged and went on unpacking the food she got.

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“Oppa, I got you the aglio pasta that you liked so much. You’d better sit down and eat before the food gets cold. Did you manage to talk to Seungho oppa about your costumes?” “Not yet, I was telling him how the past few days here with you had been utterly amazing.” “So I can steal him away for a while? I want his opinion on one of my projects. Seungho oppa, where’s all your luggage?” Without waiting for an answer, Chaerin walked out of the kitchen with Xin in toil. She brought him to the room that he would be using and was just talking about her school work when Xin suddenly stopped her by holding her shoulders. “Chaeroo, tell me, are you happy?” “Oppa, you scared me. Of course I am! Why?” “Nothing, just wondering. By the way, keep tomorrow afternoon and evening free. Don’t worry, I got Jiyong’s permission to take you out.” “Why do you need to ask his permission?” “Because you are his girl now?” “Oh stop please, listen to yourself. Just because I’m ‘his girl’? Since when did I become ‘his girl’? Even if I am, I do not need permission from him to do what I want to do.” “Chaeroo, it’s different. You might not need his permission but he would like to know.” “Then you shouldn’t have said it the way you did. All I needed to know was that he knows you are going out with me. But is there anything special going on tomorrow?” “It’s a secret. Just dress nicely.” “Alright... Were you listening to what I was saying just now?” 286


“Yes, yes, yes, you said you needed my opinion about that project themed ‘Windows’. I’d look at what you have already and give you suggestions ok? Alright, I’d move my things over here tomorrow. I have to meet someone for dinner to discuss my job here. Meet you after school tomorrow.” “You are leaving already?” “I’d be back tomorrow and will be around for a while. So, you might get tired of me!” Chaerin shook her at the ridiculous notion that she would be tired of Xin. He had been her best companion, other than Soo Hyuk, when she had her off days. They would go see the latest exhibition at her aunt’s gallery or watch a movie or just drop off the radar and go out of Seoul. She walked up to Xin and gave him a hug. “How can I ever be tired of you? Oppa, you are being silly.” Xin was surprised by the hug. But he held onto her a little longer and a little tighter. After all, it might be one of the few times that he would be allowed to do this. “If Jiyong ever make you cry, leave him and come to me ok?” Chaerin released him from the hug and looked up at him. “Oppa, are you going to threaten to hit him too if he hurts me? Wow, I never knew I’m so loved by so many people!!” “You have no idea.” “Chaerin ah~” When Chaerin heard Jiyong’s voice, she stepped back and smiled at Xin. She waved and turned to walk out of the room, leaving him inside the room. The realization that she had and would always go to Jiyong first whenever he called struck him once again and for the zillionth time that day, he had the same thought.

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Kwon Jiyong, You lucky ass!

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Chapter 76 25 February 2013 Milan, 9am Xin moved his luggage to the apartment but he didn’t manage to talk to Chaerin since she was in a hurry to get to school. She was ‘held up’ by Jiyong who refused to let her go for her morning jog. Only at the threat that he would not get any breakfast if he didn’t let her, did Jiyong finally relent. Xin had walked into the kitchen when Chaerin told him that there was breakfast. He found a plate of pancakes, bacon and salad that was made for him and Jiyong who was eating his breakfast leisurely. “Damn it dude, you are too lucky! What the hell did you do to deserve her?” “I don’t know man, but I’m not going to question and just be thankful for it.” “So she makes you breakfast everyday before she goes to school?” “And lunch and dinner if I didn’t go out. But in return, I clean the house and do the laundry.” Xin took a bite of the pancakes and sighed. “This must be heaven. I have died and came to heaven. Dude...” “I know, I feel the same way every single day. If you think this is good, you should wait till she cooks Korean food. That, my friend, is an absolute treat. So, where are you bringing my girl today?” “I have this list of things that I want to do with her if I ever got her as my girlfriend. So I’m going to do as many of those on the list as I can, without crossing the line. Who knows, this might be the last birthday when she’s single and available. Jiyong, I’m very serious when I say this. If you ever break her heart, I will personally kill you and bury you where your parents won’t be able to find you.” “As much as I feel sorry for all of you, you guys knew that she has chosen me for a long time now. And you don’t know how thankful I am, every single second that passed with that knowledge.”

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“Never forget that feeling. I’m serious. All it would take for me to take her away from you is a squeak of a possible scandal with another girl. And I won’t let you near her again. Because you got to realize that in the past, you never gave her any promise or commitment. Now, you have proposed, you have told her that if you start a relationship, it’s leading to marriage, to ever-after. So if you do anything stupid this time, it’s going to hurt her bad.” “I know, I won’t. You guys do not realize that I would not be able to live without her now. I’m dreading the day when I have to go back to Korea and leaving her here with you.” “Separation will make the heart fonder. I’m sure with all the technology available these days, it won’t be too difficult.” “Easy for you to say since you will be right here with her.” “That’s true. When are you leaving so I can have her to myself?” “I would send Soo Hyuk here. Then you won’t be alone with her.” “You can send the whole gang but at the end of the day, they would still have to go back to Korea and I would be the only one here.” “I hate you. Argh! Why did I go and say I want to do the solo tour?!” “Because you know you need to. If you stay here for an extended period of time, you risk exposing Chaerin. A lot would be called into question especially why she’s with you alone here.” “Now that you mentioned it, if you stay here with her alone, it could cause tongues to wag too.” “Don’t worry, I can still protect her. I actually have more valid reasons to be here with her than you do. Like I said, I’m actually here for work. No one needs to find out that we are staying together.” “What if that happens?” “I guess I’d just have to say she’s my girlfriend then~”

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“WHAT?!” “I’m kidding. I’m sure we know what to do when such a situation arises. I could just say I’m in between rentals. I could move out too. Especially if I get a hot Italian girlfriend.” “I wish you would move out when I leave but I know Chaerin would appreciate your company. But the moment her whereabout is revealed, you have to move out.” “I know what to do when the time comes. I’m actually surprised that no one has actually said anything about seeing her in Milan yet.” Jiyong smiled mysteriously. He knew that there were rumors that BOTH Jiyong and Chaerin were in Milan, but they had all been subdued by YG and whatever connection he had in Milan. In fact, the photos that Jiyong was in Korea had surfaced. He recognized them as the photos taken at his parents’ pension. But he also knew he can’t stay in Milan for too long. “I’m going to leave early March. In fact, I might have a photo shoot set up for me in France next week. So I might actually need your help to act as my companion for this trip and give me a reason to come to Milan.” “Sure thing, whatever I can do to keep Chaerin out of danger. That said, I have to go prepare for my date with your girl. Do you need help with the cleaning up?” “Nope, take it as my thanks for letting me have her the entire day tomorrow.” “Wow! I’m definitely going to enjoy this generosity while it lasts.” “You should. I’m only being nice because I don’t want things to be awkward.” “It won’t. It takes some getting used to and the whole gang is not going to be convinced till they see it. But other than that, we are not going to make things awkward. We love her too much, probably more than we love you.” “Thanks man, I can so feel the love.” 291


“You’re welcomed!” Xin walked out of the kitchen and went to get all the items he needed for the day. He took out the list that he had written a long time ago and look through the list. He was thankful that he was able to get time to do some of the items on the list. But things like ‘wake up to her smile every day’, ‘walk on the streets holding hands’, ‘kissing her on the streets’ would never be fulfilled. He swallowed the pain that almost had him screaming and blinked back the tears that threatened to overflow. “It’s ok. I have today with her. It’d have to be enough.” The very last thing he took out of his luggage was a dress that he had personally designed for Chaerin. It was to be the dress she was going to wear when he asked her to be his girlfriend. “That’s a beautiful dress. Where did you get it?” “I designed it and had my friend make it.” “It’s for Chaerin?” “I have envisioned her wearing this dress when I ask her to be my girlfriend, which was why I brought it along with me this time round. But I’d still want her to have this dress even if I can’t have my dream come true.” “She will love it especially if she knew that you put in a lot of heart into the dress.” Xin looked at Jiyong strangely. “I thought you would be threatening to cut up the dress if you know what it was meant for. But you are surprisingly calm about it.” “Like I said before, I have the rest of my life with her. I believe that she’s not going to leave me because of this dress. If she ever leaves me again, it would probably be my own doing. So I’m making sure that I would never do anything to make her want to leave me again. I won’t be able to handle it. The 19 days that we were separated this time round, I almost died.” 292


“She should have left you sooner then.” “There’s a time for everything. Can you imagine if she left when I’m in the middle of touring with Big Bang?” “You know she would never do that. She loves you too much to do that to you. Now that you mentioned it, she did leave almost immediately after the encore concert in Seoul.” Jiyong smiled. Remembering that one night that changed everything between them and how she had told him she was leaving the next day made him shiver. “If you want to catch her when she’s done at school, you’d better leave now. I think her lessons end at noon today.” “I’d be off then. I’d bring her back before midnight. Ji, take good care of her. Man, I feel like I’m marrying off my daughter. Alright, I’d be gone now. And don’t worry, I won’t be around tonight.” Holding the dress in his hand and carrying the bag he usually used when he went for any styling event with 2NE1, Xin left the apartment. But this time, it was different. This time, he’s styling his princess. One last time. Xin arrived at Chaerin’s school and waited at the bistro directly opposite it. He sent a message to her, telling her where to meet him. Then he ordered her favorite Americano and waited for her. She arrived when the coffee was delivered. “Seungho oppa~ Annyeong~!” “Chaeroo! Thanks for breakfast! It was wonderful! Are you hungry? Do you want to eat something first?” “I’m ok. I can’t eat too much since I didn’t get to jog my usual 5km today. Oppa, I thought we are going out? Why do you have your ‘stylist’ bag with you?” 293


Xin smiled and gestured for her to sit down. He ordered a salad and a sandwich. He knew that when Chaerin used ‘It’s ok’, it meant that she was hungry but she couldn’t eat because she needed to keep her body fit. “Sit and share the salad and sandwich with me. You are hungry but you are stopping yourself from eating. It’s not good for your health. You are not going to perform on stage for a while, just take small amount of food. Not to mention, we will do quite a bit of walking today so just eat.” “You know me so well! Thanks oppa~ What is the agenda for today?” “To make you the happiest girl in Milan!” “You are here, Jiyong oppa is here, if Soo Hyuk oppa is here, it’d be perfect!!” “You do know that when you finally go into a relationship with Jiyong, things will be different right?” “It doesn’t change the fact that I would continue calling and treating you guys as my oppas. Jiyong oppa might be the one I choose to spend the rest of my life with but we can’t live in isolation. It would take some getting used to but it’s not like I’m new to the group or anything like that.” “Let’s call Soo Hyuk! I can’t wait to see how jealous he would be when he sees that I’m with you.” “Aigoo~ You guys are so childish at times! But yes, let’s call him!” Xin did a video call to Soo Hyuk and when he picked up, spoke to him in a grumpy voice. “Ya~! Yang Seungho! Do you know what time it is? I just got back from my overnight...” “Soo Hyuk oppa~” “YA! CHAEROO!!! WHERE ARE YOU?! WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME USING SEUNGHO’S PHONE? IS HE WITH YOU?” 294


Chaerin turned the phone towards Xin and he waved. “Annyeong~” “WHERE ARE YOU?!” “With Chaeroo, of course.” “That is obvious, I can see her face. I mean your exact location! How did you manage to find her?” “My friend recognized her as one of the girls I used to style and told me about it. We’re in Milan.” “How long are you going to be there? I’d ask my manager to look at my schedule and see if I can make a trip to meet you.” “Don’t worry, we are going to be here for a while. Chaeroo is doing her fashion design course and I have some jobs lined up here as well so you could just see when is a convenient time for you. By the way, congratulations are in order...” “What do you mean?” “Jiyong is here too, and this girl here is silly enough to allow him to...” “Seungho oppa, not here please, and not so loud. Soo Hyuk oppa, hope to see you soon. I think you look like you need to rest. We’ll call you again.” “What is this? Jiyong is there too? What’s happening?” “Jiyong took...” “Soo Hyuk oppa, I’d message you later. You have a good rest!” Chaerin ended the call and glared at Xin. Xin gave her the ‘what did I do wrong’ look. “Seungho oppa, we have to be very careful wherever we are. I do not need

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the rumors about me and Jiyong oppa to spread right now. It doesn’t look good for both of us, like the leaders abandon their groups to pursue their love lives. Jiyong oppa is going to announce his solo tour soon so any negative press would be bad.” “And you are content to be the unnamed girl?” “Oppa, you know too well what are the consequences if we come out in the open now or anytime in the near future. Jiyong oppa might survive but 2NE1 and myself might not do as well. And that’s not being fair to my members and the other Big Bang members.” “Chaerin, don’t you think you are thinking too much for everyone? What about yourself?” “Oppa, I’m very happy right now. I’m doing fashion, I have Jiyong oppa coming after me this time round and telling me that he loves me. When I left Korea, I never thought that would happen. I’m having a normal life here without having to constantly worry about putting my best side forward. It’s enough for now. Whatever issues that I have to face as the girl who stands beside Kwon Jiyong till the end, I believe I would face it together with Jiyong oppa when the time comes. And I’m counting on you, Soo Hyuk oppa and all the rest to come together for us. Do not worry for me because I trust Jiyong oppa to love and take care of me. But both of us needs all of you.” “You will always have us and strangely because of you, we will rally around Jiyong as well. He’s crazy in love with you. But I’m still not sure if he would make you happy.” “It’s not just about him making me happy, it’s about the two of us creating a happy life together. But I believe that Jiyong oppa loves me a lot and I do too, so this love would guide us to do the best we can for each other and for our family in the future.” “So, you guys are already thinking about having a family together? I want to be godfather! I’m sure everyone would want to! You would be very busy!” “I’m stopping at 3! You guys go figure how you are sharing godparents’ duties!”

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Their order of salad and sandwich arrived then and they started eating and talking about her projects in school. Xin listened to her talking animatedly about fashion and it made him glad. He gave suggestions here and there and she built on from there. It had always been this way even when he was styling 2NE1. Chaerin was always the one who’s the most creative and daring. Once they were done with the food, Xin brought Chaerin to the first destination of the day: a hair and make-up shop that his friend owned. “Oppa, what are we doing here?” “We are going to transform you into a princess. You are going to be my princess for a day. Here, change into this dress.” Chaerin took the dress from Xin and her eyes popped out. “OMG!! The dress is beautiful!! Where did you get it?” “I designed it and had it made specially for you.” “Seungho oppa, you are the best!!” “So, would you leave Jiyong for me?” Chaerin shook her head at the silly notion but took the dress from him and went to change. Xin took out the Polaroid camera in his bag and got ready to take a picture of her when she stepped out. But when she did, all he could do was stare at her. “Oppa, are you alright? What’s wrong? It doesn’t look good? Should I go and take it off then?” “NO!! You are so beautiful. I know this is not your usual style but this is exceptional. You should wear more dresses like this. It really make you look more feminine.” “All I do is hang out at the studio with the oppas, wearing a dress like this would just hinder movement. Should I go do my hair now?” 297


“Wait, let me take a picture of you first.” “Take one using my phone too!” Xin took a few shots of Chaerin using the Polaroid camera, then he took some more pictures using his phone and then took some using Chaerin’s phone. “Now, you can go do your hair.” Chaerin went to the hair stylist and listened to his suggestion of what he was going to do with her hair. She gave some suggestion of her own and they finally got to work. Xin took a look at the shoes that Chaerin was wearing and decided that they were not suitable for the dress. He excused himself from the hair salon and went to the shops nearby. After walking around for 15 minutes, he passed by a quaint little shoe shop hidden by all the big fashion houses and saw the perfect pair of shoes. He went in to the shop and made the purchase. He walked back quickly to the hair salon since he didn’t want to keep Chaerin waiting. The stylist was done with the hair and they had started on the make-up. There wasn’t much that they needed to do, just some accenting and touchup and they were done. So, when Xin walked in, Chaerin was sitting on the sofa, talking to the hair stylist and the make-up artist. She was a vision to behold. Sitting on the couch, she exuded her usual confidence but this time, there was also the feminine aura around her. Like a queen. When Chaerin saw Xin walking in, she gave him her megawatt smile and got up to walk to him. “Oppa, where did you go?” “Chaeroo, come over here and sit down.” Xin led Chaerin over to the couch. Everyone else exited the room and left 298


them alone. Once Chaerin was seated, Xin knelt down on one knee, took hold of Chaerin’s foot and was about to take off her shoe but was stopped by Chaerin. “Oppa, what are you doing?” “These shoes do not match the dress so I got you new ones.” “Then just pass me the shoes. I can wear them myself!” Chaerin reached for the shoes box that was on the floor but Xin stopped her. Chaerin turned to look at him, Xin gave her a smile and nodded for her to sit back and relax. “Allow me to do this. Though I can’t be the one to walk beside you, but as an oppa, I want to give you this pair of shoes, put it on for you so that you can walk comfortably, prettily for the rest of your life with Jiyong.” “But oppa, you will still be with me and Jiyong oppa right?” “Every step of the way. That is something you don’t have to worry about. You have a place in my heart that no one can take away.” “Then why are you behaving like this is goodbye?” “Chaerin ah, it’s goodbye on some level. You are not going to be single and available for long. You are entering a different stage of your life.” “Oppa...” Chaerin held back tears but stretched out her feet and watched Xin’s every movement. He carefully unlaced her shoe, took it off and slipped on the shoes he bought for her. He did the same for the other foot and once it was done, he stood up and pulled her up from the couch. He held onto her hands. “Lee Chaerin, no matter what, when you get tired, know that I’m right beside you, ready to give you that piggyback ride, whenever. This is my promise to you. Now promise that when the going gets tough, you will not hesitate to run to me, or Soo Hyuk or any of your other oppas.” 299


Chaerin stepped forward to give Xin a hug, partly to hide the tears that were flowing down her cheeks but also because she was really touched by what Xin just said. “Oppa... Thank you. I promise. When it get too tough for me to handle on my own or with Jiyong oppa, I would go to you or any of the other oppas. Thank you so much.” Xin hugged Chaerin close and soothed her sobs by patting her back. When he felt the sobbing finally subside, he released her from the hug. He wiped away the tears on her face. “Let’s get you cleaned up and your make-up touched up. We still have places to go.” Xin led her out to the make-up counter and the make-up artiste got to work while he tidied up the dressing room. He folded Chaerin’s clothes properly and put her shoes into the shoe box and put them all in his bag before going back to check if Chaerin was ready. He found her laughing with the make-up artist. “No! He’s not my boyfriend!! He’s just a very close guy friend.” The make-up artiste said something that made her laugh even more. “I believe he loves me in his own way but I don’t think it’s romantic love.” “Are you talking about me behind my back?” “Oppa, this unnie thinks that you are my boyfriend! This is so funny! Are we leaving now? I need to pack my clothes...” “Done, let’s go.” Xin thanked the make-up artist and his friend before leaving the shop with Chaerin. The moment they stepped out of the salon, people turned to look at Chaerin, who was just talking animatedly to Xin and not realising that she was attracting attention. Xin laughed in his head.

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Lee Chaerin, you are so oblivious sometimes! “Oppa, where are we going next?” “You just have to follow me and don’t worry about anything.” “Aigoo~ All these oppas I have... All so bossy! Alright, I would just follow and enjoy the day~” Xin let Chaerin walk a couple of steps ahead of him and he took a picture of her back. And another one just when she turned back. She saw him with the camera so she waved and smiled prettily before gesturing for him to hurry up. Chaerin ah, Always have that smile on your face. You have brighten up my life so much, All I ever want for you is to always smile and be happy.

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Chapter 77 25 February 2013 Milan, 9pm Back in the apartment, Jiyong was busy with his own preparation for Chaerin’s birthday. He packed an overnight bag for himself and Chaerin and made sure that he had their passports with him. He had arranged for the two of them to fly out of Milan and to the Swiss Alps. With Mario’s help, they would be leaving on a private jet and staying in a cabin owned by the Gullianos. Stephen had very kindly sent along a housekeeper/driver and chef ahead of their arrival to get the cabin ready and to look after their needs for their stay. He checked the bag again to make sure that he had packed everything they needed. He had gone out in the afternoon to get some thermal wear for both of them. He suddenly grinned and blushed when he remembered how he felt when he looked through Chaerin’s undergarments. He was tempted to pack all the sexy lingerie that he had discovered but he didn’t want to put himself in the way of the temptation. He then went to the dressing table and lifted the velvet box that contained Chaerin’s birthday gift. He opened the lid and was extremely satisfied with the gift. He closed it again and put that in his own bag. His phone beeped at that moment and he checked to see who sent the message. Just by looking at the sender’s name brought a smile to his face. From: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 25 February 2013 9.30pm CET

Oppa~ We are on our way back! Have you had dinner? Do you need me to bring anything back for you? To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 25 February 2013 9.32pm CET

I had dinner already. Just hurry back! I miss you so much!! From: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 25 February 2013 9.35pm CET

Yup~ We should be arriving within 30 minutes~ See you soon~

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To: <3 My HunChae, My Queen <3 25 February 2013 9.38pm CET

Alright baby, see you soon! ^^ Looking at the messages and knowing how much he really missed her because this was a break from their normal routine, his expression turned serious. That afternoon, he had spent some time talking to his boss and they had decided on when his tour would start: end of March. Though the time was short but the company had actually started work the moment he suggested the solo tour. He had sent his boss the preliminary song list. When YG saw that he wanted to include ‘The Leaders’, he had questioned how he was going to bring Chaerin along to every stop, he told him he had not worked that out yet but that was the one thing he wanted. He would try to convince Chaerin to go back for the first concert then they would see what they could do. YG promised he would talk to the tour director and ask for their suggestion. With the realization that he would have to go back to Korea very soon, even sooner than he thought, the sense of apprehension and unease got him questioning if he could really survive being away from Chaerin. But he also knew that if he were to push back the solo tour because he wanted to stay with her, she would be against it too. Jiyong took a deep breath and decided that he would worry about that later when he had to break the news to her. Tonight and tomorrow would be his focus for now. He was actually rather nervous because he never had to organize her birthday party. He usually just turned up. But this was the first year he was celebrating her birthday after 2009 and he wanted it to be perfect. Suddenly, he felt he was being hugged from the back. He turned to see Chaerin behind him and resting her head on his back. He placed his hands over hers. “Oppa, what were you thinking about that you didn’t even realize that I’m back?” “You.”

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“Oppa, I’m really such a lucky girl. I didn’t realize that I’m loved by so many of you. I’ve always thought my stubbornness drives all of you crazy.” “It does drive all of us crazy but we also love that about you. We love everything about you. I love everything about you.” “Thank you~” “Come over here and tell me about your day with Seungho. Did you have fun?” Jiyong held onto Chaerin’s hand and led her over to the sofa and made her sit on his lap. But Chaerin shook her head and instead choose to lie down on his lap. “So I can see you, oppa. We had a great time. Seungho oppa took me to one of the off-shore islands and we just spent the time exploring the little village. There are some stores with really beautiful knick-knacks. After that, we had a picnic in an open field. Seungho oppa bought me a cake, said he was celebrating my birthday according to Korea’s time and sang me a birthday song. Then we watched the beautiful sunset before coming back to Milan. What did you do this afternoon?” “I went shopping, packed for our trip to the Swiss Alps, talked to Boss...” “We are going to the Swiss Alps? Why?” “For your birthday baby, you have always wanted to go, no?” “But I already...” “Seungho did it according to Korean timing, I’m doing it according to Italian timing. We worked this out.” “But I have school...” “Taken care of. Your lecturers have been informed that you won’t be in school tomorrow and the day after. All lecture notes, video recording and work to be done would be sent to you via email.”

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“Wow, you’ve been busy~ Swiss Alps~ Thank you~ Oppa!!” “Anything for you~” “So when do you have to go back to Korea?” Jiyong looked down at Chaerin who was looking at him straight in the eye. He wanted to change the subject but he knew she would just continue to ask. “By 1 March. We have decided to start the tour at the end of March so I have to go back and start working on the production.” “So we have 3 more days together?” Jiyong nodded. Now that Chaerin mentioned it, he had but 72 hours left with her in Milan. A sudden panic made him hold her hand tight. “Oppa, we’ll be fine. We have been apart from each other before. We can survive this.” Chaerin knew she didn’t sound convincing enough. Truth was she was freaking out inside but she knew that she could not show it because Jiyong would then want to stay behind. She couldn’t get in his way. A solo tour is every artist’s dream and she would not be the one to stop him from fulfilling it. “Chaerin ah, since we are talking about this, would you come back and be my guest for the first concert? I have included ‘The Leaders’ in the songlist and I don’t intend to take that out for the entire tour. Anything else is negotiable, but not ‘The Leaders’.” “Oppa, won’t it be awkward? I mean I just made the announcement to step down as the leader of 2NE1 and you want me to go back and sing ‘The Leaders’ with you? That would make things difficult for Boss and the company. Not to mention, your fans would wonder why you would want to include this song when you have others to choose from. And I definitely can’t be with you for every stop. Maybe you want to reconsider?” “No. I already said ‘The Leaders’ is non-negotiable. It has to be included or I 305


won’t do the tour. We would just say you took time off from your studies at my request and came back to support me. We haven’t work out how to bring ‘you’ along for the entire tour yet but we will find a way.” “Oppa...” Jiyong shook his head, telling her without words that it’s not up for discussion. “So would you come?” “If Boss says it’s ok, then sure.” Jiyong bent over and kissed her on the lips. A soft peck then he pulled back, whispered ‘thank you’ and kissed her again. Chaerin snaked her arm around his neck so that he would not be able to pull back. When the kiss got more heated up, Jiyong tried to pull back but that only made Chaerin sit up and straddle him. She bit Jiyong’s bottom lips and demanded that he opened his mouth. Jiyong was taken back but finally decided to give in to the moment. Their tongues seeked each other out, duelled and danced. Hands started roaming. Chaerin’s lips suddenly moved away from Jiyong’s and that caused him to open his eyes, only to feel her tongue licking his earlobe before she bit softly on it. She didn’t know that turned him on so much. Jiyong shifted but that only caused his lower body to come into contact with Chaerin’s. He felt the heat, she felt the hardness. Jiyong knew he had to stop before they went past the point of no return. He moved back a little and moved to tuck Chaerin’s head at the crook of his neck. “Chaerin ah, we’ve got to stop...” Chaerin kissed his neck, then bit softly before sucking the spot softly. “Oppa, what if I don’t want to?” Jiyong released Chaerin and made her look at him. “Baby, we have to stop.” “Oppa, you don’t want me?” 306


“Oh baby, you have no idea how much I want you. But I don’t want to scare you. I can wait till you are ready.” Chaerin didn’t know where she got the courage from. She took Jiyong’s hand and guided it down to her core. Jiyong wanted to snatch his hand away but she had a strong grip. “Chaerin! STOP!” “Oppa, does this feel like I’m not ready?” “Darling, that’s a normal reaction. We have been kissing and caressing each other. It doesn’t mean that you are ready for...” “Oppa, make me yours. I want it.” “Chaerin ah...” Chaerin took a chance and moved against Jiyong’s hand. “Shit.. Chaerin... You are not playing fa...” One more time. Something inside Jiyong snapped and the controlled desire in his eyes broke free. Chaerin looked up and saw the change in his eyes and smiled. She let go of his hand but he didn’t remove it. Instead, he seeked out her nub of need and touched it softly. “Oppa~!” “You can still say it. Say stop, and I would. We would go pop that champagne that I have chilling in the fridge and...” Chaerin didn’t let him continued. She moved against the finger still touching her clit and the sensation caused her to throw her head back. The sight in front of him, Chaerin with her head thrown back, revealing her beautiful neck was too much for him. He moved his face to the side of her

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neck, and bit down a little harder than his usual playful nibbles, then licked to soothe the spot before kissing. The pain from the bite made Chaerin moan and that sent another shot of desire through his system. He looked up, removed his hand from her clit and moved both hands to her butt cheeks. “Baby, hold on tight, I’m going to carry you to the bedroom.” Chaerin nodded and had her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. When they got up from the couch, she playfully moved against his bulge. “Darling, do that again, we won’t make it to the bedroom. I don’t want our first time to be on the couch or on the floor. Be good.” Chaerin grinned, then give him a peck on his lips before subduing herself. She was excited. She had been waiting for a long time for this. And she was glad that it’s with Jiyong. Upon reaching the bedroom, Jiyong closed and locked the door. He walked to the bed a little quicker than usual and put Chaerin down gently. He was about to stand up but Chaerin didn’t release her arms from his neck. “Oppa, where are you going?” “I need to go to the toilet and relieve myself. Otherwise, I’m not going to last very long.” Chaerin looked at him with a puzzled frown on her face. Jiyong thought for someone who literally just seduced him to make her his own, she looked so innocent. He took her hands from his neck and guided one of them to his bulge. “Feel this? You have me so aroused that if I don’t go and relieve it a little, it would be over too soon. You deserve better. So, just give me a few minutes alright?” Chaerin looked up at him in shock then blushed. Feeling the blush, she covered her face. Jiyong laughed at how cute she looked and bent over to 308


kiss her. “My beautiful innocent seductress~ I love you so much. I’d be right back.” Chaerin nodded and sat back down on the bed. Just as the bathroom door closed, a thought came to Chaerin and she got up to walk to her closet where she kept all her sexy lingerie and choose a set with pretty white lace. She stepped out of the dress that Xin made for her and changed into the lingerie. After that, she sat at the dressing table and started brushing her hair. She decided that the lights were too bright, so she switched them off and lit the scented candles that she had placed around the room. Just as she was lighting up the last candle, Jiyong came up behind her and hug her from the back. “What is this beautiful vision standing in front of me? Are you even real? Are you really going to be mine?” Chaerin put down the lighter and turned in his arms to look at him. “You make me feel so beautiful every time you look at me. I’m real because you are real. I’m yours. Now and forever.” “You do know that this might be the first and last time you are wearing this lingerie right? Because all I want is to rip it off you right now.” “Rawr~ Someone’s going wild...” “I’d show you wild.” Without warning, Jiyong lifted her up over his shoulders and walked over to the bed, pretended he was going to throw her down onto the bed but instead let her slide down the front of his body. He had taken off his shirt and was just in his boxers. The lace tickled and heighten his senses. When Chaerin was once again standing in front of him, looking up at him, he smiled and bent over to kiss her. Her arms went round his neck and she returned the kiss with equal fervor. He backed her against the bed and when she felt the bed’s edge, she broke the kiss and climbed onto the bed. He followed her down and picked up the kiss again. 309


Her hands were caressing the side of his body, just like his. But he need to touch more skin. He broke the kiss and tugged on the top of the lingerie. Chaerin lifted her hands so that it could be easily removed. After that was out of the way, he unhooked the lace bra that she was wearing and got rid of that too. “Lie down. I want to see you.” Chaerin looked at him, uncertainty flashed in her eyes. Jiyong knew that she was feeling unsure so he kissed her and guided her body to lie on the bed. Then he got up and straddled her ankles. Looking down at her naked glory for the first time, Jiyong was rendered speechless. Her honey blonde hair and her lightly tanned skin contrasted beautifully against the white sheets. Her perky breasts, her firm abs were all begging for his mouth to leave his mark. Her womanhood was still covered by her lace panties but her thighs, he couldn’t wait to have it around his waist again. “Oppa...” “Baby, you are too beautiful~” And without waiting another second, Jiyong moved his hands up and down the side of her body. The sudden contact of skin against skin was electrifying for the both of them and they let out a soft moan. Jiyong looked at Chaerin, caught her eyes and slowly moved his hands towards her breasts. He palmed the sides softly and used his thumbs to rub the area around the nipples. The reaction was immediate. Chaerin moaned a little louder than before and her nipples erected proudly, seeking more attention. Moving up and supporting himself by kneeling across her thighs, he bent and kissed her lips before moving down her jaw to her shoulders, planting butterfly kisses along the way. When his lips came to her breasts, he teased her left nipple with the tip of his tongue while rubbing her right nipple between his thumb and forefinger.

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When he got her moaning ‘oppa’, he took her left nipple into his mouth and sucked on it harshly, causing Chaerin to scream and grabbed onto the bed sheets. But that also caused her hips to lift and meet his sensitive area. He sucked on her nipple a little harder before licking it slowly, making sure that she could feel his tongue against her nipple. That caused another loud moan and her hands tighten on the bed sheets. Jiyong released her right nipple and he saw Chaerin loosening her hold on the bed sheets and grinned to himself. It’s not over yet baby~ He leaned down to kiss her lips but this time instead of moving down, he moved his lips to her ears and blew on it softly. “Did you like that? Are you ready for more?” At her nod, he kissed her cheek and moved his right hand down her body. When it reached the lace panties, he started pulling it down. “Oppa...” “Shhhh... Don’t worry... It’d be alright. Trust me.” Chaerin lifted her hips so that Jiyong could removed the panties totally. He moved his whole body to Chaerin’s left. His lips captured her left nipple and the same time, he cupped his womanhood and moved one finger to touch her clit. “OPPA!!” He released her nipple and whispered in her ears. “Say my name, baby, I want to hear you say my name with that sexy husky voice of yours.” He pinched her clit. She screamed. “JIYONG OPPA!!”

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“Good job baby~” Jiyong put his lips back on her nipple and continued to suckle. “Oppa, harder...” Hearing her, Jiyong sucked on her nipple harder and his fingers moved away from her clit and were sliding up and down around the entrance of her core. “Oppa, I need you in me...” “You mean like this?” Jiyong inserted one finger into her core and both of them groaned. “YES!!” “Baby, you feel so good~! So wet and tight~ You want more?” Chaerin could only nod her head. Jiyong saw how crazed she was already and his desire for her went up another level. He kissed each of her breasts and made love to her belly button with his tongue before moving down to look at her beautiful womanhood. Jiyong removed his finger from her core and that made her moan at the sudden emptiness. “Oppa... Don’t... AHHH...” He had replaced the finger with his tongue. Moving in and out in a rapid speed, the friction was too much for her to bear. Her hands went in search of his head, wanting to remove him from her. But a sudden tightness got her attention. It was a new feeling and it was scaring her. “Oppa... I...” After licking her once, Jiyong looked up and put his hand on her stomach. He knew that this was a brand new experience for her and he wanted to reassure her.

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“It’s ok, just let it go. I’d hold on to you alright baby. Ready?” Chaerin looked at him, at the love in his eyes and nodded. Her hands went to her stomach and met his. She held onto it. Tight. Jiyong smiled and moved his other hand over her core again. Without warning, he put in 2 fingers into her and his thumb went to massage her clit. Her hands tightened on his, her eyes glazed over and when his hand started moving in and out of her, the pressure started building up again. Her hips started to move in rhythm to his hand. He could see the slight fear in her eyes so he bent towards their joined hands and kissed her hands softly, reassuringly. He looked up and nodded at her, telling her without words that it was alright to let go, to show her moment of weakness to him. He took her clit into his mouth and sucked on it. That was the push that Chaerin needed to fall over the edge. “JIYONG OPPA!!” “I’m here baby.” While Chaerin was still riding on her climax, Jiyong held onto her. But he had also taken off his boxer and slid on a condom onto himself. When he saw that she had recovered slightly from her climax, he gave a deep and passionate kiss. “You aced that baby girl~” “Oppa, what about you?” “We are not done yet. That was just the appetizer. Are you ready for more?” Jiyong had moved himself directly over her entrance and moved a little to let her feel him. She opened her eyes wide when she felt him. The fear was there again. He kissed her forehead to reassure her. “Baby, I want you to hold on to me. It would hurt a little but it would be over very soon. I promise I’d make you feel better.”

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She nodded and he kissed her lips before proceeding to make love to her lips. She responded to the kiss and had her arms around his neck, holding tight. While she was distracted, Jiyong thrusted into her. She screamed, her eyes filled with surprise but Jiyong’s lips continued to soothe her and take her mind off the pain in her womanhood. “Lee Chaerin, you are mine now.” He moved his hips and extracted himself from her core. Chaerin wasn’t used to the emptiness and instinctively wrapped her thighs around his waist to stop him from leaving her. “So now you don’t want me to go anywhere huh? Ok~” He thrusted back in and Chaerin moaned. “You really sound too damn sexy when you do that. Is it still painful?” “I don’t know... Why don’t you do that again, Jiyong-ssi?” Jiyong grinned. His lioness was back. He moved himself out again and then thrusted again. “I think I’m fine now, Jiyong-ssi...” Chaerin did that on purpose. She knew Jiyong hated it when she called him that. “Jiyong-ssi huh... Baby girl, you are just asking for it aren’t you?” Chaerin blinked rapidly, acting innocent. She put one hand to her chest. “Me? I don’t know what you are talking about, Jiyong-s...” What Chaerin wanted to say was replaced by her scream as Jiyong thrusted in and out of her rapidly. If she had thought the tongue fuck was mindblowing, this was beyond comprehension. It felt way too good. “Ji..Ji..Ji...”

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Jiyong caught her left nipple and sucked on it, causing another scream. Her hands were leaving scratched on Jiyong’s back as she looked for a hold for all the sensations she was feeling. He slowed down his thrust as he released her left nipple. She took a deep breath. “Chaerin, who am I?” “Jiyong-ss...” “Oh, so you still want to play this game? Should I stop now?” Jiyong started to extract himself. That caused Chaerin to panic and she wrapped her thighs even tighter around him. “NO! Don’t! Jingyo oppa~~~” Hearing her call him that aroused some kind of animalistic possessiveness in him. He thrusted hard into her, like he wanted to leave a mark in her. “OPPA! THAT FEELS SO GOOD! MORE!!!” Jiyong continued thrusting into her. His hands didn’t rest too. He moved them up her abs and to her breasts and started playing with her nipples again, tweaking them, pulling them lightly then bent down to lick and suck them again. When he saw that Chaerin was climbing towards her next climax, he moved faster. He wanted to them to come together. He was at his edge and he could see that she was near too. He started rubbing her clit and that caused her to whimper. Her moans got shorter and her hands were thrashing about again. Jiyong caught her hands and guided her to touch her own clit. Both his finger and hers worked on her clit. It was yet another new experience for both of them. Jiyong bent down to her ear. “Baby, come with me, let’s go see the stars together.” He pulled her hands from her clit and held them above her head and thrusted into her almost violently. His mouth mimicked his lower body 315


movement in her mouth and his free hand went back to her clit. “Let go baby girl, let’s go...” “OPPA!!” With one final thrust, Jiyong brought both of them over the edge and the burst of stars blinded both of them. Jiyong had never felt so complete before, holding Chaerin in his arms, riding through the stars. He could feel Chaerin holding to him tight and he smiled. When they finally recovered, Jiyong got up from the bed. Chaerin didn’t want to let him go. Finally, he had to carry her and bring her to the bathroom together. “Since you didn’t want to let me go, we shall have to clean up together.” After getting rid of the condom, Jiyong led Chaerin into the shower and started to rinse her off. He knelt down in front of her to wash her thighs and that was when he saw the blood stains on her skin. “Baby, I’m so sorry. Did I hurt you?” “Oppa, I’m ok. The pleasure made it worth the while. Don’t worry, ok?” “My brave lioness~ I love you so much!” He kissed a trail from her belly button to the top of her womanhood. Her hands on his shoulders tighten. He allowed himself one lick of her clit. “Oppa...” “Don’t worry, I won’t tire you out. You are still too raw right now.” “But I want...” “What have I done? Did I create a nymphomaniac?” But even as he said it, his hand cupped her and a finger seeked and entered her without a second word.

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“Ahhh..” Chaerin opened her eyes and saw Jiyong’s erection too. She exchanged a look with him and then put her hand on him and squeezed it. “Ouuu... Chaerin ah...” She quickly released it, thinking that she had caused him pain. “Oppa, I’m sor...” Her words were cut off by his hungry lips. The single finger was joined by a second. He brought her hands to his penis and guided her in moving her hands along his length. She started to move her hands tentatively and slowly established a steady rhythm. Jiyong backed her against the shower walls and wrapped her legs around his waist. “You drive me so wild with need for you.” He kissed her again hungrily, and thrusted into her again. He heard her moan of pain and soften his kiss to apologize for her pain. But she started pulling at his hair and started to push against the wall so she could get closer. “Hold on tight, baby. I’m going to go fast this time.” Chaerin nodded and Jiyong drilled into her deep, again and again. Their moans were all mixed up in the confined space. Before long, they were on their journey through the stars again. Once they recovered, Jiyong gave Chaerin a quick shower then wrapped her up in a towel with strict instructions for her to wear some clothes. He knew that if they showered together again, they were not going to be able to leave the bathroom. After his own shower, he went out to the kitchen to get the champagne and the cake that he had bought for her. When he came back from the kitchen, he found Chaerin combing her hair. 317


He put down the champagne and the cake and went to her. He looked at her reflection in the mirror and smiled at her. He took the comb from her and started to comb her hair. After he was done, he popped the champagne, pour a glass for her. “A toast, to Lee Chaerin’s 23rd birthday. It’s also the day she became mine. Thank you baby girl~” He kissed her before drinking the champagne. “Oppa, thank you.” “Why? I haven’t even given you your present yet.” “Does that mean even though I’m yours, you are not mine?” “Aigoo~ Of course I am! Didn’t I say that I’m yours the day I arrived? It’s always a matter of whether you accept me as yours, and when you would be mine. So, on a serious note, does this mean that we are officially in a relationship?” “Yes.” Jiyong picked Chaerin up and started twirling her around. “Oppa!! I’m dizzy, put me down!” Jiyong stopped twirling her around but he didn’t let her go. “Lee Chaerin, thank you. Thank you for making me yours and for giving yourself to me. I will love you and treasure you for always, forever till infinity.” “You’d better! I have no lack of suitors!” Jiyong pouted and frowned cutely. “But I already have you and you are all I ever needed and wanted. So I guess this is a good birthday after all!”

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Just then, they heard phone beeping going off. “That would be my phone. I had the alarm set for 12 midnight so I could give you your first birthday kiss. Happy birthday, sweetheart of mine~” Jiyong kissed Chaerin with all the love he felt for her. And she kissed him back with the same emotions. Before long, both had tears sliding down their cheeks. When they finally pulled back from each other, they wiped away each other’s tears. There was no need to ask why because they cried for the same reason. They felt the love that the other had for them. A love to brave whatever storms lies ahead of them. Together. Hand in hand.

END

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[FAN FIC] Give Me Back My Song Part 2 (Chapter 51 to Chapter 77)