Disclaimer: I OWN NOTHING OF YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!
Mi Nyu was starting to regret her decision. Maybe I should've picked Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi, she thought almost as soon as she saw Shin Woo-hyung.
The full reality that she was going to be staying with Shin Woo-hyung didn't hit her until she found him waiting for her in the hallway. He smiled and, nodding towards the stuff she was carrying, said, "Need any help?"
"Yes, thank you hyung-nim," she said, her voice coming out breathlessly from the effort of carrying her luggage and blankets. She didn't realize her stuff was so heavy.
Shin Woo-hyung relieved her of the thick blankets and pillow and then, both of them smiling and making small talk, they entered his room. Mi Nyu was relieved that the cold, unfriendly mood he had been in earlier was gone and he was back to his kind self. But that only served to remind her that she needed to apologize for her abandonment. I'll do it tonight, she vowed.
She would've done so right away, but Shin Woo-hyung offering his bed to her blew that idea out of her head. "I-I-I can't do that," she said, feeling her cheeks burning. "This is your room."
"And you're my guest," he said amiably. "You can take the bed and I'll camp out on the couch."
She shook her head vehemently. "No, this is your room," she said. "I don't want you giving up your bed. I'll sleep on the couch." To prove her stubbornness, she settled her bags on the couch, sat down and crossed her arms.
Shin Woo-hyung shook his head. "I can't let you sleep on the couch," he said. "That'd be poor of me."
"It's enough that you offered," she replied. "But I'm fine sleeping here."
Shin Woo-hyung looked like he wanted to argue with her, but then he seemed to think better of it and instead said, "If you're sure."
She let out an inward sigh of relief. To move into a guy's room was bad enough but the idea of sleeping in a guy's bed, especially Shin Woo-hyung's…a strange, unknown fluttery feeling emerged in her stomach at the thought. It felt weird. The entire situation was weird.
She chose to stay in his room, but that didn't mean she could just take his bed. That would make her feel worse, especially since Shin Woo-hyung seems to have forgiven her. His being friendly enough to offer the bed proves he bore her no ill will…and that was making her feel guiltier. He's so kind, she thought, even though I don't deserve it.
She leaned back in the couch and watched as he gathered some extra blankets from the closet. Maybe he gets extra cold at night? Although the room felt warm enough, so she couldn't understand why he needed them.
She yawned suddenly. She felt tired. She was nearly opening her briefcase when her senses came back to her. No, she couldn't open it, at least not now.
She groaned. Did she choose wrong? With Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi, it probably wouldn't feel awkward. He already knew she was a girl, so she had nothing to hide from him. But she'd have to be careful around Shin Woo-hyung. She couldn't risk him finding out. How to get her things without raising suspicion?
She sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Mi Nyu leaned against the couch, trying to push back the gloomy thoughts, and then she found herself snuggling against the very comfortable cushions.
"This couch is really comfortable," she said. It felt almost as nice as her bed. Shin Woo-hyung looked up at her, concerned.
"Are you sure you don't want to sleep in the bed? I really don't mind," he offered again.
She shook her head. "No, this is your room. I don't want you giving up your bed. I'm sure I can manage, and I really do like the couch," she added, hoping to appease him. He looked less worried and even managed a smile.
"Well, if you ever want to change your mind, just let me know," he said. There was a pause before he said, "I'm going to shower. Just make yourself comfortable." He left for the bathroom and then she was alone.
She took this opportunity to look around, having never been in Shin Woo's room before. The room was decorated in almost the same fashion as Tae Kyung-sshi, except for a few things. Whereas everything in Tae Kyung-sshi's room was white, black or silver, expensive-looking and very formal and organized, Shin Woo-hyung's room was very…comfortable, and warm, with nice red, brown, yellow and green colors. There were a few pictures of himself (promotional photos by the looks of it), like the ones in Tae Kyung sshi's room, but there were also a few paintings of pretty, colorful flowers, of the Korean countryside and of animals hanging on the walls. The shelves were filled with books, DVDs and music compact discs alongside his music awards. A nice wooden desk with a comfortable chair was settled by the window, which overlook the pretty trees and yard outside; the bed was covered with thick quilts of bright colors, and candles placed in a few choice spots filled the room with a very warm scent, something like vanilla.
Mi Nyu wasn't sure if it was the paintings, the colors or the candles, a combination of the three or all of them together, but she found herself beginning to relax. All her anxiety, her stress, her worries were disappearing as she breathed in the mouthwatering aroma.
She closed her eyes, leaned against the couch and spent the next minutes thinking of nothing but the scent and warmth that she felt being in the room. So deep was she in her thoughts that she didn't realize Shin Woo had returned, freshly showered and dressed, until he called her name.
"Go Mi Nam," he called out. He smiled when her eyes flew open in shock. She must've jumped at least a foot in the air, she was so startled. "Sorry, I thought you heard me," he apologized.
"No, it's ok, you didn't mean it," she said, rubbing her chest. She smiled at him and said, "I was admiring your room. It's very comfortable. And it smells nice." She realized a little late that that wasn't something a guy would say to another guy, but Shin Woo-hyung just laughed.
"Thanks," he said, giving her his one-thousand-watt smile. "I always believed that scented candles should be a necessity in a room. Helps relieve stress and believe me, it can get pretty stressful around here." At Mi Nam's nod of agreement, he changed subjects. "Bathroom's through there, if you need it."
"Oh. Thank you," she replied, the awkwardness returning with a vengeance. She opened her suitcase carefully, trying to get out everything she needed without Shin Woo seeing what was inside. There were several things she needed to gather that she knew, for a fact, definitely wouldn't belong to a guy. Carefully, wary of Shin Woo-hyung's presence, she gathered those objects and hid them between the folds of her pajamas, trying to make it look as inconspicuous as possible. At one point Shin Woo-hyung turned his back to her to gather some papers from his desk. She took his opportunity to get all the other supplies and then rushed into the bathroom.
Shin Woo smiled to himself as he heard a tiny click from behind. He was kind of sad that Mi Nam wasn't as comfortable around him as he hoped, but he reminded himself that he was going to change that…tonight.
Mi Nyu felt her worries disappear almost as soon as she locked the door and looked around.
The bathroom looked comfortable too: the tiles were painted a pretty dark red; the porcelain toilet was a bright white color in contrast to its surroundings; and several potted plants hung from the ceiling or were settled on the sink counter. The towels were red or white, stacked neatly in a wooden cupboard, and there were several candles here too, giving off the vanilla-y scent. There was a large, square tub not unlike that of a Jacuzzi nestled in the corner, scented candles settled around it so that the aroma was strongest there. Ivy plants decorated part of the wall and even fell like long braids from the ceiling, acting like a curtain around the tub.
Opposite the tub, again nestled in the corner, was a shower stall, made from the red tiles and the door made of clear glass.
Mi Nyu took in all this and smiled. "Shin Woo-hyung has an amazing bathroom, too." And then she smelled the candles.
The aroma was as strong and as comforting here as it was in the room, so powerful that for a moment Mi Nyu forgot where she was and why. When she opened her eyes to again admire the bathroom (when did she close them?), she remembered. She shook her head, trying to think clearly, praying that the candles wouldn't make her so relaxed that she became reckless. She couldn't afford mistakes, not now.
She placed her belongings on the counter, filled the tub with warm water and made sure for the second, third, fourth time that the door was locked before undressing. She filled the tub with some bubble bath concoction so that within a few short minutes it was filled with nice foamy bubbles, and then she stepped in.
For the third time, her mind became clear of everything save the beautiful aroma filling her senses; it was blissful oblivion, a peaceful spell that she succumbed to for so long that she didn't know how long she actually stayed there before she started washing her hair and the rest of her body.
This is nice, she thought. Living in the orphanage and convent had been comfortable enough, and since living here she began experiencing things she never had before, like a bubble bath. But she never experienced a bath quite like this. Sure, there was that nice soaking she had that one time she persuaded Tae Kyung to trust her, but this was different. The candles, the decorations, the warm water, the bubbles—everything about this bath made her want to stay here forever; the bubbles clung to her skin, as weightless as air, the water was as warm as any blanket or sweater, and the scent in the air made her dizzy with happiness. Yes, she could stay here forever.
"Go Mi Nam!"
She clapped her hands to stop from screaming, and then she recognized the voice.
"Go Mi Nam!" There was light knocking on the door, but because of the silence it sounded louder, so loud that she was surprised she didn't hear it before. "Are you okay in there?"
"Y-y-yes," she called back. She looked around herself for a towel, trying to remember if she locked the door. How long had she been in here? "I'll be right out!"
"Okay, just wondering," came his reply.
With great speed, trying desperately not to be drawn in by the scented candles again, she washed out the shampoo and conditioner from her hair, scrubbed her body with the apple-scented body wash Noona Wang bought her, and then leapt out from tub, grabbing a white towel and wrapping it tightly around her body. While the water drained and the bubbles disappeared, she dried herself off and quickly dressed, taking time wrap her chest securely before exiting the bathroom, a towel in hand to dry her wet hair.
Shin Woo-hyung, who was sitting comfortably in a recliner near the couch, looked up from the book he was reading. "Oh, you're finally out," he said. He placed the book back on the shelf. "You were in there so long, I worried something happened."
"I got distracted, lost track of time," she replied honestly. She hesitated before adding, "I was also admiring your bathroom. It's so…unique."
Shin Woo-hyung smiled. "Like I said, things can get pretty stressful around here, so it helps to have scented candles and a nice tub to soak in." He got up and nodded towards the bed. "You sure you don't want to take it? I won't get mad if you say yes, you know."
She shook her head, trying to be careful not to drip any water on his carpet. "I'm fine on the couch, thank you."
He looked hesitant but finally headed off for bed. Mi Nyu distracted herself with drying her hair before she remembered she still had something to do. How to do it though?
"Uh, Shin Woo-hyung?" He turned towards her, saw her shifting her weight from one foot to another, a guilty expression on her face. Maybe she was going to say yes to the bed? He half-believed that and so was half-shocked by her next words. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?" But as soon as he said the words, he knew the answer.
Mi Nyu fidgeted, fighting the urge to look away from him. "For this afternoon. Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi really needed help, but I shouldn't have left you at the restaurant by yourself. It was rude, and maybe we could've still have fun, even after what the mystery girl did. I'm sorry if I ruined things for you." She gave a small bow to show her sincerity and waited. She expected him to, soon or later (more preferably sooner) start yelling at her, accusing her of ruining his day, and proclaiming that he regrets choosing her to come in the first place. And she would let him; he wouldn't be wrong. She'd deserve nothing less.
But after a few minutes of staring at each other, Shin Woo-hyung did and said the last thing she expected him to: "I think, Go Mi Nam, I can forgive you, if you can perhaps forgive me. For earlier," he added when he saw her confusion. "I was upset, yes, but I had no reason to be mean. And I was mean," he said when she opened her mouth to protest. "I won't deny it and you shouldn't either. So, am I forgiven?"
Mi Nyu felt a smile growing on her face. "Forgiven."
Feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders, she turned back and started getting the couch ready for bed. It was late, and they had rehearsals tomorrow, if she remembered correctly.
"What was wrong with Hwang Tae Kyung?" Shin Woo-hyung asked suddenly.
She turned back, surprised. "Huh?"
Shin Woo was cursing his cowardice; that wasn't what he wanted to talk about.
He wanted to talked to her, he intended to let her know that he knew, but at the same time he wanted her to trust him enough to admit it without being forced into it; problem was, he had no idea how to do it. Searching for an opening, he said the first thing that popped into his head, and he was regretting bringing up the subject.
Forcing himself to remain calm, he said, "You said Tae Kyung wasn't feeling well, and that's why you left. What happened, do you know?" He hoped she didn't notice the hint of bitterness in his tone at his words.
She didn't. "Oh. Well, Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi said he accidentally ate some shrimp. He wasn't feeling well and needed air, and I followed him to make sure nothing bad happened."
Shin Woo nodded, and then, before he could stop himself, he said, "You two seem awfully close now."
He shrugged. "Before, you two—or rather, Tae Kyung—didn't seem to be getting along. But things seem okay now. How that happened?"
Mi Nyu was trying not to fidget. A lie, something quick and plausible, was what she needed, but nothing came to mind. She looked around at the room, hoping to find inspiration from the paintings, books, and furniture. Shin Woo sighed and went to sit beside her on the couch. She involuntarily flinched at the proximity. It made him feel more depressed.
He looked straight ahead, struggled to keep his voice steady and face indifferent. "Never mind. You don't have to say. Whatever happened is, of course, between you and Tae Kyung. I just…I really hope that you can at least talk to me, that you come to me when you need help. You don't have to hide or pretend. It's okay to ask for help when you really need it. And I kind of prefer that you don't lie about it, either. I just…I really hope that you can trust me, just like you trust Tae Kyung."
So much for indifference: he sounded so pathetic and hurt. It was so stupid. This entire conversation, his plans to tell her that he knows, his earlier plans at the restaurant: all of it was so dumb. Moronic. Pitiful. What's worse, what little consolation he had from his apology and her forgiveness evaporated. Why didn't he just let things alone?
At his words, Mi Nyu looked down and stared at the carpet floor. She felt horrible, guilty, and dumb; there was a pain in her stomach and chest that was more acute than anything she felt, not as bad as when she discovered that her mother was dead but close to it.
She felt guilty before for all the lies she told since taking over as her brother; she was always able to push it back, with the justification that she was helping her brother in realizing his dream. But it was hard to do so right now with Shin Woo-hyung looking so dejected.
Shin Woo shook his head, cleared his throat and gave her a shaky smile. "Don't worry about it," he said. "I just wanted to let you know you can trust me."
He got up to go to bed, determined not to speak another word or to look at her for the rest of the night, regretting more than ever that he even instigated the conversation, when suddenly a hand grabbed him from behind.
Startled, he turned around, first staring at the hand gripping his shirt and then at the now-trembling figure on his couch. Go Mi Nam wasn't looking at him. Instead she was staring hard at the floor, biting her lower lip, her grip tightening with tension.
"Go Mi Nam, what—?"
"Mi Nyu. My name," she said, hesitating only long enough to fight back the feeling of sickness before continuing, "is Go Mi Nyu. And I'm…I'm…I'm a girl."
There was a pause at this declaration, a deep, heavy silence that stretched into something longer than time, she felt.
She couldn't, for the life of her, understand what happened. She didn't know why, out of nowhere, she reached out to stop him, and she didn't know what prompted her to tell him her secret, a secret she knew could jeopardize her brother's dream if the wrong ears heard it.
What she did know was this: whether it was a reckless impulsive or something else entirely that made her hand reach out to him, she was going to do something she never thought she would do, something that she never did even with Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi until after the fact: she was going to trust Shin Woo-hyung, completely, full, wholeheartedly. Whatever came from this momentous decision, she would face it; she won't run away, she'll stay and embrace the consequences, as she knew she should.
But when so much time passed that she felt this confidence begin to waver, she started babbling incoherently—a habit she was prone to do since early childhood—not even realizing what she was saying, just trying to fill the tense silence, try to get him to say something, anything, she didn't care what so long as he spoke.
"I know this is a shock, believe me you're not the first person, but please, please, please hear me out before you decide to do anything. I didn't mean to lie, to you, to Jeremy, to anyone and everyone, and if I had a choice, I wouldn't be doing this, I mean I didn't want to do this in the first place, but I had a good reason, you have to understand and believe that, I have a very good reason for being here, and I swear that as soon as everything's done I'll leave and you never need to hear from me again. I just ask that you hear me out, please, before getting angry, and I know you have every right to be angry, but I'll do what I can to earn your forgiveness for this, and I pray that you please, please, please not tell anyone, not now, or ever. I'll leave quietly, I swear I will—"
"Go Mi Nam."
He spoke! That gave her such relief, but the feeling was only temporary. Now that he spoke, the words, the anger, will come, and she felt very, very scared.
"Please Shin Woo-hyung, please don't be angry," she started pleading, still staring at the floor, as though if she looked hard enough and long enough, a hole would appear that she could jump through so as to escape this. "I know you and everyone else has every right to be, but please, please hear me out—"
"It wasn't my idea, this entire plan was ridiculous from the start, I know it was and I was dumb enough to actually agree with it, but it was for a very, very, very good reason, I swear it was, and I had to lie, I didn't like lying to you and everyone else but I had to, I had to—"
"Go Mi Nyu!"
For some reason, the sound of her name—her real name—coming from Shin Woo-hyung froze her vocal cords so that she couldn't speak, for which she was immensely thankful because babbling as she did made her dizzy with breathlessness. But she still didn't look up. He didn't sound angry—which was surprising; after all Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi was plenty angry and shocked when he found out—but she still couldn't look up, fearing that instead of anger, Shin Woo-hyung would be sad, which was almost as bad. Would he be upset that she misled him? Or disappointed by her lies and his failure to see through them? Or would he feel betrayed by her lack of trust in his character?
Or was he still in too much shock to feel anything else, even the righteous anger she knew must be brewing behind the calm façade?
"Go Mi Nyu, look at me."
She couldn't. She was using her strength to fight back impending tears. She didn't like when people were angry or hateful towards her; it made her feel so awful because she knew that they usually had a good reason. Tae Kyung-sshi was annoyed by her mere presence; considering their past encounters, she couldn't blame him. Now on somewhat good terms, she was becoming accustomed to his trademark snarl, but this was different; Mi Nyu didn't think she could handle having Shin Woo-hyung angry, even if he had every reason to be…he was a friend, he's been kind to her since day one, she didn't want to lose his good opinion of her, to lose the friendship, she didn't want that…
Two fingers lifted her chin up so that her eyes met Shin Woo-hyung's. For a moment, neither said a word. She resisted the urge to look away; if he got angry, she deserved it, but she was so scared, so, so scared of him being mad at her…
He smiled. "So, your name is Go Mi Nyu. It's nice to know."
She blinked, and then blinked again. Did she hear that right? That couldn't possibly be right. Maybe her fear was so great it was causing hallucinations? Or while babbling, she fainted from lack of air and this was all a dream?
He leaned in close suddenly. "Do you mind if I confess something myself?"
Still numb with disbelief, she nodded.
His eyes and smile were now mischievous, but there was something like reluctance in his voice as he whispered, "I knew all along. About you, I mean."
A brief thought crossed Mi Nyu's mind that she must look ridiculous, with her mouth opened wide and her eyes bugging out, but the notion evaporated as quickly as smoke, lost among a million other thoughts and sensations that turned around and around in her mind.
Now she was sure she was dreaming, or hallucinating, or whatever other term that could be used to describe the surreal situation before her.
He knew?! How could Shin Woo-hyung know all this time? Did she slip somewhere, make a mistake? Aargh, what a stupid question! Of course she made a mistake—she made plenty. But when? How? Did he overhear a conversation? Did he guess? Was her acting like a male so fake that he saw it for the truth it really was? Then again, that must mean no one else bought it…but wait, did no one else guess or realize, or did they, like Shin Woo-hyung, decide to keep quiet until the right (or wrong) moment?
All this flashed in her mind within the space of two seconds, or maybe two hours, she wasn't sure. It was hard to keep track of time when it seemed like reality was bursting at the seams.
While she was trying to decide whether this was actually a fictional fantasy or something else, Shin Woo-hyung continued staring at her, getting more and more concerned by the growing panic that replaced the shock and disbelief in her eyes moments earlier. "Go Mi Nyu, is something wrong?" A second later, he thought he couldn't have asked a more stupid question.
She blinked, breaking eye contact, and then the dam burst. This was no hallucination, no dream, no fantasy concocted by her befuddled mind. He knew.
"H-h-h-how?" She wanted to say more but growing horror and fear was making it impossible.
It was only one word but Shin Woo-hyung knew instantly what she meant. "That night you got drunk," he answered. "Jeremy carried Hwang Tae Kyung, and I carried you. And while I was doing that, I…I noticed that you were…different, from what a guy should be." He hoped that she understood because he really didn't want to give details. When her cheeks grew as red as cherries, he was sure she got it.
So, he knew for that long, Mi Nyu thought. She thought back to that night and realized that it must've happened while she was unconscious. If it were anyone else she would've worried, but she had great faith in him and his gentlemanly manners.
She shook her head and tried focusing on the present issue. "But…but you never said…you never…I mean, all this time—"
He shrugged. "I figured you had a reason for hiding it, and it's clear you didn't want anyone to know, so of course I never said anything."
The most surprising thing then happened: she started crying. Ever aware of the other occupants in the house, she tried stifling the noise, but there was no stopping the tears. They came so suddenly it was as big a shock to her as Shin Woo-hyung.
"Mi Nyu, what's wrong? Are you hurt somewhere? Did I say something wrong? Listen, I promise I won't say anything, I never planned on it."
More tears flooded her eyes. She covered her face and mouth so that she didn't make so much noise, she didn't want anyone to wake up and come investigate. She just wished she could stop crying but it seemed beyond her control. The tears blurred her vision of everything but Shin Woo-hyung's concerned face.
He's so kind, she thought. So, so kind. More than I deserved.
All this time, he knew about her. She thought back to all the lies she told him; she remembered all those times he helped and comforted her, talked to her, listened to her; and through it all, he knew her secret, kept it, without even being told to do so, without even knowing why. The guilt she felt for lying to him all this time burst out in great floods, but it clashed with the happiness that bubbled warmly in her chest at the realization that he had known and accepted her. These torrent of emotions, coupled with the memories of all the kindness he has shown and done for her in the past weeks, caused the tears, she knew it.
She never, in all her life, met anyone as kind or as understanding as Shin Woo-hyung—she was right; he did remind her of her beloved brother, but also of the Mother Superior.
She thought of all the friends she made and had in the past and realized that she couldn't think of one who she felt she could trust now more than she now trusts Shin Woo-hyung. At this moment, she thought him and Hwang Tae Kyung-sshi to be the best people she could've ever known. It made her smile and laugh to think of how lucky she was to find and meet them.
What is wrong with her? She's crying a river and laughing like there's no tomorrow. Should I call a doctor to evaluate her state of mind? Shin Woo was more than a bit startled by her tears, scared witless at the idea that he said something to hurt her enough to warrant crying, but when she smiled and laughed he felt those worries disappear, not completely because she was still crying but at least he didn't hurt her.
Watching her laugh and cry, it was the strangest thing he ever seen. And he liked it. He felt his fondness for her growing. He never met a girl like her; she was weird, yes, but it was a refreshing change from the fangirls, the sophisticated socialites, and the superficial celebrity beauties that surrounded him nearly every day since their debut.
Sitting here, watching her like this, gave him a nice feeling.
It took a few minutes before Mi Nyu could regain enough control to stop crying and laughing. She felt so…happy…and light, like she could fly. A few tears slipped out but she wiped them away easily. She felt calmer, better. A strange wave of emotions was still churning in her stomach but it wasn't unpleasant; in fact, it brightened her mood.
Then she saw Shin Woo-hyung eyeing her with a strange mixture of concern and amusement. She supposed that her outburst of tears and eventual laughter must've been the strangest thing to occur.
"Sorry," she said, smiling, still wiping her eyes. "Sorry. I don't know what came over me. The tears—they just started coming."
"Are you okay? You're not in any pain?" When she shook her head he sighed in relief. "That's good. I was scared I hurt you."
"You didn't," she assured him. "I'm just…so happy. And relieved. It's nice to know that I can trust you."
A few minutes of silence passed, Mi Nyu still cleaning her face and Shin Woo thinking over everything that happened in the past two hours. Finally, she said, "I'm sorry again, for lying. I assure you I have a reason."
Shin Woo thought it over before replying, "I think I can forgive you, but…"
She looked up, a new panic growing. "But?"
He hesitated, wondering if he dared, but her proclamation of trust gave him the courage to say, "I want to know if you can tell me…everything. About how all this happened."
Pause. They looked at each other. Her dark brown eyes searched his, looking for something, he didn't know what, but he refused to look away. This was the second time he noticed how long her eyelashes were.
What she was looking for, she found, because she suddenly smiled and said, "Okay. What do you want to know?"
He inwardly sighed with relief. "Let's start at the beginning, shall we?"
She fidgeted. "It's a long story."
"And we have plenty of time."
A/N: Updated faster than I thought. Hope this is satisfying. Can't say when the next update is, but I promise not to forget to do so soon. Reviews always welcome. :)