Chapter 2: The Mom’s Best Friend Becomes the Queen of Spontaneity and the Innocent Boy Welcomes Seoul
Even when Jaejoong had filming, he still managed to convince the director to let him spend some time with Kannei. Actually, he just got Sora to do the deed. At first, she was unwilling to help, but after he mentioned that this was to maintain his image with Kannei, Sora immediately agreed. That silly manager was always so easy to trick, he remembered scoffing to himself. Now, standing at the area to wait for arrivals, Jaejoong checked his phone a few times. Kannei’s flight should have arrived by now. What was taking her so long? As soon as that thought passed by his mind, he saw a tiny girl trying to push a cart forward while probably grumbling complaints to herself. A smile instantly crept from his lips, and he hopped over the gate separating the flyers from the awaiting friends, family, and lovers.

“Surprised?” Jaejoong announced with a smug smile.
“Holy crap,” she stuttered. “Wh-wh-what . . . oh shit!”
All of her luggage had collapsed from the cart and onto the ground with a loud bang. Scrambling to place her suitcase back, she turned bright red. This made Jaejoong chuckle. He placed his hand onto hers to steal her belonging from her. She looked at him, still in shock mixed with anxiety. He took this chance to pinch at her cheek before slipping a peck on her cheek.
“Wake up mochi,” he said before lifting her luggage onto the cart. “I’m real.”
Jaejoong knew she must have been too surprised for she hadn’t even chased after him when he was wheeling away her belongings. It was only after he was about to reach the gates did he hear the sound of her heels clicking against the ground. He also heard her muffled mumbles. She was probably talking to herself again, like usual. That little weirdo, he snickered.
“Wait, wait, wait,” she demanded. “Wh-wh-why are you even—“
“I cut work for you,” he turned his head towards her to answer.
“What? That’s not—“
“I’m kidding,” he interrupted. “They let me see you. Plus, this is good publicity for the drama and for me.”
Then, he walked towards her to place his arm around her shoulder. He gave her another short kiss, but this time to her forehead. If he could, he would have shouted how happy he was to see her. He was too thankful for her to be by his side. He had spent the days counting down for her arrival. He backed out on annual holiday parties because it wouldn’t be the same without her.
“Because we’re acting like a loving couple?” she harked.
“No,” he corrected her by holding onto her tighter, “we aren’t acting. We are in this together, or at least . . . I am.”
“Jaejoong . . .”
“Let’s not sour things, all right?” he stated with a grim smile. “Let’s just . . . have coffee together?”
“Sure, why not?” she agreed. “I need to be awake anyways.”
What Jaejoong expected for a coffee date didn’t turn out as he had planned. It was too obvious who occupied Kannei’s mind. Her eyes were dazing over his head; she wasn’t even looking at him at all. Even after he was in the middle of describing his day at work, she was glued to the scene outside with her palm on her lips.
 “You’re zoning out again,” Jaejoong at last noted.
She immediately retorted, “N-No, I’m not. I was listening to you. You were saying how you got annoyed at that makeup artist of yours . . . or not?”
As soon as Jaejoong looked at her with an uncompassionate glare, she knew that she shouldn’t have lied. There was no sense in committing perjury, especially with Jaejoong. Jaejoong, too, knew that she couldn’t lie to him anymore.
“I’m sorry. I was just lost in my thoughts,” she now admitted.
Jaejoong exhaled a sigh, “You’re still thinking about him, aren’t you?”
He let out another sigh, “Who else? Jung Yunho. Jung Yunho. Jung Yunho, the one that you—“
Kannei had reached forward to stuff his mouth with a biscuit that was on her plate. In between his crunching, she cleared her throat and explained, “I wasn’t thinking about him. I was just . . . admiring the couple sitting on that bench, the one with a girl who is leaning her head on her boyfriend’s shoulder.”
He precariously wiped the edges of his mouth and then took a fruit tart from his dish and popped it into her mouth as revenge. She almost choked because of his sudden attack. He chuckled and then pointed to the edge of her mouth.
“Serves you right,” he scoffed. “You’ve got a few crumbs there. I’ll get them off for you.”
Once he leaned on table and roughly swiped the crumbs off of her skin, a tear instantly dripped onto his finger. She knew she shouldn’t have cried, but she still did. Lately, it was too easy for her to be emotional. Any minute gesture could potentially trigger a downpour of tears simply because it could remind her of him.
She promptly smeared her eyes with her sleeves, declaring, “Ah, I don’t, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Then, her hand reached for the packet of tissues in the opening of her purse, but as soon as she touched the package, it dropped to the ground.
“Crud,” she mumbled while slipping under the table to retrieve the fallen object.
This effortless gesture took too long for Jaejoong. A second turned into several and several seconds turned into a minute. It was time for him to interrupt, and so he did, by crouching under the table and carefully making his way to her side. He could tell that more tears had surfaced for she hugged her knees and had her sleeves pressed against her cheeks.
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” he stated. “It’s normal for you to feel this way. I get it. It takes time, but . . . know that I’m here.”
Jaejoong turned his head away from her direction. He then straightened his legs and leaned backwards, putting his weight on his arms. He didn’t care if other customers were peering at them, criticizing them about their lacking manners. He even glared at those that gawked for too long. Although never proficient at comforting people, he still attempted by saying, “If it makes you feel any better, I help you get rid of your soon-to-be puffy eyes.”
Kannei blew her nose before chuckling, “Sure, why not? You could also let me borrow your eye mask so I can walk out not knowing how many people have watched me cry.”
He exploded in laughter and teased her, “So, this is your secret to getting me to share my eye mask?” She nodded with a disheartened smile.   
So, Jaejoong heeded to Kannei. He allowed her to wear his eye mask, guiding her as she blinding followed him. She was fatigued of thinking for herself, so she handed that task to him. He held her hand and led her away from her memories. She was happy too to momentarily forget, and he was happy that she was trying to forget.
He was one person meaningfully walking by a mesh of hundreds. They were strangers with goals paved by their steps. They were heading in one direction or the other and then he stopped for a second and looked around. No one cared whether or not he halted. They made their detours around him or mumbled how silly someone was to be standing there. He, for once, didn’t care what they thought. Although he was urged to move forward, he didn’t mind either. He needed that push, that step forward to reach the street ahead. That push almost caused him to trip, but amazingly, he landed on both his feet and proceeded before the pedestrian light changed colour.
“Where should I go?” Junsu hummed aloud.
There was still much time before he was supposed to go to his brother’s apartment. At a foreign city, he had no clue where he could roam. Wherever my feet will take me, he thought. Feeling slightly chilly, he stuck his hand out before remembering that they were better off being warmed in his pockets. There was no one’s hand to hold now. At first, he chuckled at his foolishness until he exploded in laughter. He laughed so loudly that several people purposely turned their heads to find who was belting a few dolphin-like notes. So, he continued to occasionally smile while walking forward. The sun was gently basking on his face with the winter air frisking by his cheeks. Then, he lifted his head up high to witness the oceanic sky, but quickly shielded his eyes with his hand.
“So, this is Seoul,” he murmured.
He now looked around and saw the ceaseless traffic of humans and cars. To his right, there were shops placed side by side. He took a few seconds to look at each one. This pattern continued until his stomach commenced to growl.
“I suppose it’s time to feed myself,” he reminded himself and chanced upon a ramen shop ahead. Sure, there were ramen restaurants in Tokyo, but he still grinned. “I bet Changmin would be jealous if I took photos of my ramen,” he told himself.
Then, he sighed, thinking of what he had happened with Changmin and him. He had practically blamed everything on Changmin, who probably had no idea what was happening.
“Irashaimase!” A woman in her late fifties greeted him while handing him a menu.
Luckily, Junsu had learned some Japanese from watching anime, so he understood the basics of the language. He nodded and then walked to a counter by the chef. Within a few seconds, he ordered his choice of ramen. As he waited for his ramen’s arrival, he suddenly remembered the last time Changmin and he went to eat ramen. That was probably to celebrate Changmin’s high school graduation.
Changmin had pointed to the picture on the far left corner of the menu and said, “Yeah, you get the Shoyu ramen. And I’ll get the Tonkotsu ramen, the cheese ramen, and the Hiyashi ramen. Oh, yeah, don’t forget dumplings as the side dish.”
“H-h-hold on.” Junsu’s face had turned rather pale. “W-who who is going to pay for all these?” Changmin gave Junsu a disdainful look, to which Junsu responded, “No, I am not going to—“
“I thought this was to celebrate my graduation.” Changmin had lifted his glass of water and precociously stared at it. He even sighed.
“It doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to make me pay for everything!” Junsu had grumbled.
“You’re always such a cheap bastard.”
He had exhaled again. It wasn’t Junsu’s fault that he could not pay so easily. He had been on a limited allowance from his parents. At that time, they were already furious with the idea of Junsu living with the four boys. They wanted at least one son to accompany them, and Junsu was supposed to assume that duty. However, his best friends and he had already agreed to a pact, which was to live under the same household after Changmin had graduated from high school. It was supposed to be the start of adulthood, away from parents and close to independence. Independence, for Junsu, came at a price. This price was his pocket money. His parents had reluctantly paid for his tuition since it was evident that Junsu was only attending an institution to receive a certificate. He wasn’t like Yunho or Changmin, who would use what they had learned to pave the future. So, Junsu began to work as a waiter during the weekends to earn some extra money.
“F-f-fine.” He had clenched his fist. “Just order what you want.”
Changmin had almost fallen off his chair. “Hyung? Are you . . . fucking me over?”
“No, I’m not pulling a joke.”  
“You serious?”
“You fucking serious?” Changmin had gawked at Junsu for a while.
Junsu took a sip of water before replying, “Yes, I am fucking serious. Now order before I change my mind.”
“Okay, okay!”
That was probably Changmin’s most obedient moment and maybe one of his happiest ones too. It was rare for Changmin to be continuously smiling and even foolishly clapping his hands from time to time. Junsu couldn’t help grinning along with him.
“Here’s your ramen.” The woman returned with what he had requested. “Enjoy!”
Shoyu ramen. What a classic choice, Junsu, he murmured while breaking his chopsticks apart. Just as he was about to dip his chopsticks into the broth, he halted, recalling what Changmin had protested, “Stop! Stop! We have to take photos before we eat!”
“W-what? Why?” Junsu had eyed him.
Changmin had cackled while reaching in his pocket for his cell phone. “Of course, it’s to smite other people. I’ll be forwarding all these images to Yunho, Yoochun, and Jaejoong.”
The three of them had other commitments, so they had bailed on this lunch meeting. It seemed as though Changmin had been bothered by their disappearances. Although Changmin had always claimed that high school graduation was merely a stepping stone, Junsu could tell that it still held some importance on him. Stepping stone or not, it was still considered a type of accomplishment, like finishing a marathon, a five year one.
“Anyhow, you get your chance to say that you actually paid for this meal. Oh yeah, better take a picture of the bill later if you really wanted proof,” Changmin had remarked.
So, Junsu decided to mimic Changmin’s habit. He snapped a shot of his ramen, and in the end, another shot of his bill. He forwarded it to Changmin, titling the message: “Too bad you left.” Then, he typed in the body: “I thought I’d show you some good food. Oh yeah, you’re missing out. Sucks to be you. I’ll treat you some other time though. Sorry man for being a bastard.”
Changmin’s reply was too short, and too fast. “You’re still a fucking bastard for sending me those photos. Better pay for my meals next time, man.”
Junsu couldn’t stop laughing and rereading that message. Changmin, still the same, he thought. “Yeah, you don’t get to call the payer a bastard.” Junsu typed back.
“Son of a bitch.”
“You mofo.”
The battle of the swear words continued until Junsu realized that his texting plan did not include international texts. “Fuck!” He swore in the middle of the streets, causing another round of heads to, this time, glare at him.
He still laughed in the end, however, when he asked Changmin whether or not their texting plans were similar. Changmin again typed. “Ugh, fuck! You bastard! Argh, use your brain for once before sending these things!”
Continuously chuckling, Junsu now wondered, where to go next?