I was presently staring back at a life-size cutout of Ji Yong. It was a picture of him wearing a white shirt with a bow tie, and holding a bouquet of colorful flowers. If looks could be deceiving, it would be from that sweet and innocent smile plastered on his face.
Something about this … just did not look right.
"Neat eh, nuna? I brought this for 50,000 won!" Seung Ri proudly exclaimed as he wrapped an arm around 'Ji Yong's' shoulder.
I gave a look of incredulity after hearing the price. Somehow I just didn't think the devil was worth that much, but I didn't want to rain on Seung Ri's parade… so I kept my mouth shut.
He and Dae Sung apparently thought it would be a great idea to incorporate birthday games at Ji Yong's surprise party. After a bit of brainstorming, they came up with their rendition of 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey," a game usually suitable for children. TOP decided to add in some alterations to the punishment and turn it into a drinking game, not suitable for children.
"Dae Sung, you do realize that…. there's no tail on Ji Yong?" I asked. He was standing on one of the couches as a stool, and it was quite hilarious watching him try to mount the cutout onto the living room wall.
"I know! That's why I came up with this!" he cried out.
The two youngest were taking their game very seriously, as Seung Ri took out many variations of cardstock cutouts consisting of hats that all had sticky adhesives on the back.
"We're going to pin the hat on G-Dragon!" Seung Ri demonstrated by slapping a replica of that friggin' awful raccoon hat I saw Ji Yong wear at Milo's party. Seung Ri missed the top of 'Ji Yong's' head by a few inches though, so it was covering his eyes and all I saw was that stupid grin, which I think now made this 'Ji Yong' look super… perverted. Kind of like those creepy old men who would prey on little girls.
"Ahahahaha, you missed it, you lose!" Dae Sung giggled.
"Alright, I'll leave you two alone …." I walked away while shaking my head.
Within 45 minutes, we had all managed to set up the living room of their apartment more "party like." Streamers hung everywhere with a banner saying "Happy Birthday" hanging across a light fixture. We had tried to blow up as many balloons as possible; however, it would take forever if we relied on 'man air', so someone was smart enough to rent a helium tank. Soon, many of the entertainment company's staff started arriving one by one, of course a lot of them I didn't recognize.
"Yo yo yo… come on man, we got less than 30 minutes to get this place lookin' like the shiznit for my dongsaeng!" TOP started bossing everyone around on what to do.
Soon the place was busy with all human forces helping out on the final last minute touches. After tying the last of the balloons with a knot, I spotted Saori who was helping Tae Yang arrange the catered food onto a long table. The two looked like they were both enjoying each other's company since there was so much laughing and smiling going around.
"Hey… what's going on?" I came up to the table and looked at the both of them from side to side.
Upon hearing me arrive, they immediately took one step away from each other, separating to the far side of the table on either ends. Could they be any more obvious?
"Oh nothing, just discussing some of… Ji Yong's favorite foods… which their manager had ordered," Saori babbled while rearranging the kimbap on a big glass plate.
"Haha… uh yeah, you know Ji Yong… sure loves his chicken wings," Tae Yang nervously laughed at me and then shot two thumbs up sign.
"Hm…." I looked at the two suspiciously. They sure were making some googly eyes at each other just a second earlier.
"So did you prepare the camera and everything for later on?" Saori was obviously trying to change the subject.
Oh yes. Despite all the festivities, I forgot that my purpose for being here was to work. Grabbing my bag that was sitting on one of the stools in the kitchen, I took out the camera that Milo had let me borrow from the agency. The bastard who broke my camera still hadn't repaid me yet, and I didn't think he would anytime soon. *shakes an angry fist* On the bright side, Milo said I could use any of his cameras for as long as I want. And believe me, I would rather choose to work with these babies any day over the one I had previously.
I turned on the camera to make sure it was functioning. There were still a couple of shots from Milo's party last week that I hadn't deleted yet. Flipping through the pictures, I came across the shot with Big Bang where I purposely left Ji Yong out of the picture. I started snickering to myself until I caught Saori giving me a weird look from the side.
Regaining my composure, I cleared my throat and put the camera away.
"Ahem… yeah, it shouldn't be too hard. I think I'll just try to get a lot of natural shots. The ones where people pose get kind of old after awhile," I jabbered.
Thinking back to the amusing picture, I realized I wouldn't be able to do anything like that tonight; after all, Ji Yong was the birthday boy. Milo would kill me if he found out none of the work I turned in had a feature of the main star. My thoughts were interrupted when TOP came running back into the apartment while clapping his hands.
"Yo, everybody! Ji Yong is comin' up right now, hide your ass!"
At such quick moment's notice, everyone stopped what they were doing and began to scramble. Seeing everybody run in different directions, I froze and deliberated on where my hide out should be.
"Turn off the lights!" Dae Sung shouted.
I decided to follow Seung Ri and hid behind him as he squatted himself behind a banzai tree near the door.
"Nuna, this is my hiding spot!" he pouted.
"Shhh… I'm not that fat, we can both hide here," I whispered and kept my attention at the entrance.
It was silent for almost thirty seconds until the front door finally opened and the foyer light was turned on. There were some quiet voices and then we saw the silhouettes of two individuals entering the apartment.
"Where'd everybody go?" Ji Yong asked his manager and then flipped on the light.
I raised my camera to get ready to take the first shot.
Seung Ri pushed me aside and started attacking Ji Yong with silly string while everyone else started setting off those party popper things. Although Ji Yong had the greatest initial look of surprise on his face, it was followed by the biggest grin I had ever seen. Joy and content was shown as he was laughing along with everyone else.
*Click * Click*
It was a ruckus for almost a minute before Ji Yong finally yelled out, "I thought you guys forgot!" and pointed at those held responsible.
TOP had a sly smile on his face. "Man, ya know how hard it was to act like nothin' was goin' on?"
"We saw you moping around with that sad look on your face earlier," Dae Sung teased.
Ji Yong was very shy for a moment, covering his face with his hands before thanking everyone for his surprise. You know how they do, those manly hugs…. or whatever it's called.
"Damnit, he didn't cry this time again!" TOP yelled out dramatically with both hands in the air.
"Not everyone is a cry baby like you hyung." Poor Seung Ri bellowed over in pain after receiving a punch in the stomach.
"I was so sure he was gonna be touched this time," TOP kept muttering to himself.
"I am touched," Ji Yong reassured with a pat on his shoulder.
TOP continued to fake cry for a few more seconds before retorting with, "Let's eat now! I'm starving!" He then ran off with everyone else towards the table with food.
It was just Ji Yong and I left alone… again.
"So… you knew about this too huh?" There he goes with the smirk again. How I hate it when he gives me that look, it's like incessant teasing!
"Don't get the wrong idea, I'm only here because I have to take pictures based on Milo's orders."
"Well, you should be glad you're here. A lot of people would kill to get an invitation to my birthday party," he replied conceitedly.
"How modest of you," I retorted.
"You better take some good pictures tonight… otherwise if you catch me at a bad unphotogenic moment, delete it," he ordered. I knew he was kidding though because he said it with a teasing smile.
"And what if I don't?" I challenged.
"Then my overprotective fans will just come after you," he replied nonchalantly.
I suddenly felt an arm around my shoulder.
"Nuna, hyung, what are you guys talking about back here?" Seung Ri appeared with his arms around each of our shoulders, and looked at us from side to side.
"None of your business, maknae."
Seung Ri pretended to pout. "Whatevers. Hurry up, we're waiting for you to cut the cake." He led the both of us to where the party was.
Tae Yang suddenly appeared holding a very beautiful cake lighted with 23 candles.
Happy Birthday to you… Happy Birthday to you….Everyone began to sing and I couldn't help but join along.
… Happy Birthday to Ji Yong, Happy Birthday to you…
After the jingle ended, Ji Yong clasped his hands together for a few seconds to make his wish. *Click*
Everyone started clapping after he blew out his candles, and I looked back down at my camera to check the photo I had just taken. As he was praying with his eyes closed, the brightly lit candles emanated a glow onto his face, making him look so serene at that moment. What the heck?
After the cutting of the cake, Dae Sung and Seung Ri proceeded to dress up Ji Yong in his birthday gear.
"Hyung, I spent so much for your birthday this year… you better appreciate it." Seung Ri quickly plopped an old-fashioned plushy birthday crown onto Ji Yong's head. The purple velvet hat was bedazzled with jewels and lined with a white furry leopard print at the base. It looked like something for a little kid, but I guess in this situation it didn't really matter because the birthday star looked like one anyways.
"Aw, Ji Yong hyung… you look so cute." Dae Sung started tying a shiny white sash that said "Birthday Prince" and finally finished off the look by draping a matching purple cape on his back. It looked like Ji Yong had just been crowned Ms. Universe and was ready to take the farewell walk.
"Oh gosh, you guys are too much…" Saori started laughing at the sight before her eyes.
"Did Halloween come early this year?" Tae Yang said with a smile.
"What the hell! Why does Ji Yong get such a great pimp getup this year? I'm expecting something like this, if not even better on my birthday!" TOP cried out with envy, although he was also busy munching on one of those chicken wings.
"Awww… is someone a little jealous?" Dae Sung teased.
"Yeah yeah hyung… it's not until a few more months, we'll see how you treat us first," Seung Ri answered shrewdly.
The party came into full swing within the next couple of hours. Many more of Ji Yong's friends and other celebrities came by. The food kept on arriving and the music was blaring. I was surprised that none of the neighbors started to complain because of the noise. Or maybe they have sound proof walls; after all, they do live in a luxury condominium.
Everyone wanted to take a picture with the birthday boy so I was very busy for the first hour or so. During this time, I also realized Ji Yong was a very silly person. He had so many friends, and with each picture he could come up with many hilarious poses. Some of which were kind of… questionable. But anyways, despite my initial resentment toward him, I realized he was very sincere after witnessing him thank every single person who came with the congratulations.
Saori looked like she was kept busy with the company of Tae Yang so I didn't want to intrude on their bonding time. Most of the night was hanging out with the two youngest, Dae Sung and Seung Ri, because you'll never be bored within their presence, according to them. Initially their game was also a hit; however, it was cut short when people started to cheat for the fun of it and Ji Yong got mad that everyone started pinning hats towards his butt. I suspect it was the effect of them getting drunk off of TOP's shots that were going around.
"Yaaahhh baby… take it off!"
We don't need to discuss what happened there.
Despite having so much fun, eventually it all had to end. By the end of the night, the boys were looking very tired from the celebration. TOP seemed as if he had drank too much because he was passed out on the couch with only a pair of shorts and socks on. I don't think anyone else had drank as much as him, not even the birthday boy himself. Seung Ri and Dae Sung were also sprawled out on the floor, looking like they were about to pass out too from all the fun they had earlier.
After all the guests had left, it was only Saori and I that were the females in the apartment. We started to clear up the leftover food and rubbish, while Tae Yang was also nice enough to help out, since he started to take down the decorations.
"I don't get it, why is it we don't even live here… but we have to help out with cleaning up?" I grumbled.
"Well we started from the beginning, so we might as well go all the way to the end. And maybe it's also because of that innate domestic behavior that makes us act upon these type of things."
I pondered for a moment, as if it was starting to make sense.
"No, I think we just got taken advantage of by some lazy boys."
"Aww come on Hana, even though you keep saying you're here for work purposes… admit it, you had fun and enjoyed yourself tonight right?"
I was silently contemplating about this.
"… I suppose."
I did have fun tonight; probably the most that I have ever had by far. It's interesting meeting people at social events, and those happening to be celebrities were just an added bonus. I thought they would be stuck up from all the glitz and glamour they've experienced, but I came to realize that some can be very down to earth and are just like regular people you meet.
It was starting to get late and I knew Saori was my only source of transportation back home. We agreed to leave in fifteen minutes after she had to do some last minute "discussions" about the clothes she had brought for the boys. Funny how I noticed the discussion seemed to only involve Tae Yang.
While letting her do whatever she had to do, I finished cleaning up and started tying up the big black trash bags. There were now two large bags of rubbish, and I wasn't sure of where to dispose of them.
I wandered over to the living room and saw the three members still lying in the same state that I had last seen them in. None seemed to be aware of my presence because they had all probably lost consciousness. I stood confused for a moment, contemplating what to do. Ji Yong suddenly came back in from the balcony, apparently from talking on his phone again because he had just snapped it shut. He was now out of the ridiculous birthday gear and was presently donning just a simple black sweatshirt with matching track pants.
"You're still here?" he questioned with an eyebrow raised.
"Uh… yeah. Silly me, I thought it would be nice to help you guys clean up."
"Oh. Wow that isnice of you. But you didn't have to do that… eventually we would've done it… sooner or later."
I cringed at the thought. Knowing these boys they would probably leave their apartment in an array of a mess for weeks if no one had done anything. I thought for a moment whether I should tell him about my dilemma.
"So… there's some rubbish that needs to be taken out… but I'm not sure of where the trash room is," I began.
He looked past me and saw the two large bags sitting by the front door.
"I can go with you. Follow me," he instructed. I started trailing behind him by a few steps as we headed towards the entrance of the apartment. We each picked up one of the bags and I followed him outside. As we were waiting for the elevator, I tried to initiate some small talk. I didn't want the awkward feeling to come around again if we just stood around each other without saying anything.
"So… did you enjoy the surprise party thrown for you?"
He looked over at me and grinned.
"Yes, I did. Thanks to you too, I heard you helped with some of the decorations."
Surprised that he was expressing his appreciation towards me, I cracked a smile.
"It's nothing. I just didn't want your party to look … well, pitiful in a sense, if I have to be the one to take pictures revolving around it."
He stared at me with an amused look on his face. "I see…"
The elevator stopped on the top 32nd floor, and was now coming back down towards where we were waiting on the 20th. As the lights started flashing brightly one at a time on each floor, I turned towards him.
"So you guys pay an insane amount of rent each month, but this building doesn't even have a trash chute?"
He chuckled. "Apparently. I don't know whose bright idea it was to not engineer that into the building. We have to go down to the first floor, the dumpster is located in the back."
The elevator finally came and he gestured for me to go in first. I was not used to seeing this other side of him, acting like such a fly gentleman.
"Are you trying to earn brownie points from me tonight?" I joked as the elevator door closed and Ji Yong pressed the "L" button for lobby.
He slowly turned around and gave a glance over my body from top to bottom. The sweet expression that was on his face a minute ago suddenly changed into pure seduction. As he slowly moved closer towards me, the smile on my face was quickly wiped off.
"Maybe…" he breathed out in a husky tone. Feeling a little apprehensive, I leaned back until I could go no further, feeling the hard metal barrier against my waist.
Ji Yong's face was dangerously close to mine. He placed both of his palms against the wall behind my head, trapping me so I had nowhere to go.
"Um do you mind… you're kind of… invading my bubble." I was nervously looking everywhere except his eyes. I could smell the faint scent of his cologne and felt his warm breath on me. He said no words for a mere second, although it felt like eternity.
Looking down on me, Ji Yong initiated the first attempt at physical contact. My eyes followed in the direction of his hand as he gently brushed a strand of hair behind my ear. Feeling him slowly trace out my jaw line made my heart flutter uncontrollably. His fingers stopped at my chin and carefully lifted it upwards, until we slowly grew closer, inch by inch.
At the close proximity of our faces, I didn't dare to breathe and was forced to look deeply into his eyes. Time seemed to have stopped...…
…... until he suddenly shifted his face towards his right and let out a loud snort.
If my life had a complete soundtrack, you would've probably heard something to the effect of scratching a needle across a vinyl record.
"Hahaha," he started laughing hysterically. "Oh my god you should've seen your face… you looked like I was gonna rape you."
Feeling foolish for having him play around with me, I could feel my face warm up as the blood rushed up to my cheeks.
"Yaaahhh!" I screamed and pushed his face away. Despite whacking him on the nose, it probably had no effect because he was still laughing like the joker.
"That-was-not-fun-ny," I seethed each syllable through gritted teeth. I paused to control my breathing, and attempted to fling one of the trash bags at him.
As if he was expecting it, he caught it perfectly with both hands.
"Yeah it was. Plus you should be happy, not a lot of girls can say they've been seduced by my charms," he said with a smug look on his face.
"Hey! I really thought you were gonna -"
The elevator shook violently as a loud screech suddenly rang out. In that split second, the elevator halted dead in its shaft, and the thrust from the sudden stop in momentum sent me flying into Ji Yong's arms.
"AHHHH!" I screamed out.
"Whoa," Ji Yong cried out in surprise.
Although he had caught me, Ji Yong was not prepared for the sudden jerk of the elevator and lost his balance. We both fell to the ground with my head hitting the rail along the way.
"Ow !" I cried out in pain.
Everything happened so fast we had no time to think. One of the lights had turned off so the enclosed area was very dim.
All I heard was the pace of our breathing in the silence.
"Oh my god, am I dead?"