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[FIC] No Longer Just Friends (3/4)

Title: No Longer Just Friends
Pairing: Jiyoung/Jonghoon (FT Island)
Synopsis: FT Island's leader Choi Jonghoon has openly confessed on many occasions that he deems KARA maknae Kang Jiyoung as his ideal girl. The girl in question has successfully been avoiding any confrontation regarding this matter, until today - her doom's day, or is it?

  The others cheered happily for her while Jiyoung’s already calm heartbeat went back to high-speed mode. ‘What?! What now?’ she wondered grumpily.

  The girls were wondering what this ‘surprise’ was, but smiling Hongki and Seunghyun kept looking at the side of the set, where they had come from earlier.

  “Let’s bring out another of our guest!” Jaeho went on. “Actually, he was supposed to come in with Hongki and Seunghyun just now but he got caught in traffic.” He then forced a laugh.

  With a look of pure horror etched on her face, Jiyoung held her breath as she stared hard at the side door. She had a feeling she knew who would walk through it any moment now but she was hoping with all her might that it would be someone else.

  “Come on in!” Jaeho shrieked happily and the door opened to reveal an embarrassed-looking Choi Jonghoon, who entered with his head down.

  ‘I knew it.’ Jiyoung winced as she felt eyes on her. ‘Everyone’s out to get me! I want to go home now!’ she moaned in despair.

  Jonghoon ignored the other artists in the studio and made a beeline for Jaeho, who sat nearer to the door. “I’m so sorry!” he said earnestly while bowing deeply.

  “Yah, no need to apologise. And why are you hiding your face from the camera? Stand up straight already!” Jaeho pretended to be angry. “We have KARA in the studio with us today, so show some manners.”

  Jonghoon looked up. “Huh?” He finally looked around him and noticed for the first time that the bunch of girls he saw from the corner of his eyes when he entered was actually KARA.

  “Uwaaa!” he shouted and jumped back in genuine surprise, making Hongki and Nicole burst out laughing so loudly, and the others smiling widely. “Ah, hello.” He bowed politely to them.

  Although Jiyoung tried to look away from him, she found that she couldn’t. She also realized, to her secret pleasure, that Jonghoon’s eyes lingered a bit on her when he looked over at them.

  And somewhat to her relief, that was the last time he looked their way in a while.

  “Nobody told me KARA would be here!” he said indignantly to his two band members as he took a seat next to Seunghyun. “Did you know?”

  Feeling somewhat guilty but enjoying his discomfort, the two boys nodded.

  “Why? Do you have a problem with the girls? Or anyone of them in particular?” Jaeho asked, smirking and raising an eyebrow.

  Jonghoon didn’t get his hint. “Oh, no, not at all. They’re very nice and talented, and all of us go way back,” he answered professionally. At least he thought he did.

  Jaeho just cut to the chase. “So who is your favourite member in KARA?”

  'WHAT?' Jiyoung thought in horror.

  Jonghoon blinked, clearly taken aback by the question. “My… my what?” Hongki and Seunghyun snickered.

  “Your favourite KARA member. Who do you like most in KARA?” Jaeho repeated patiently, although his voice did turn up a notch.

  The FT Island leader stuttered as he figured out what to say. “Er… I… like… all of them. Equally!” He shrugged, hoping that would end the subject, but Jaeho wouldn’t have it.

  “No, no! There must be someone that you think is cuter than the rest, and has caught your eye.” When Jonghoon looked as if he was fighting an inner battle with his conscience, Jaeho egged him on.

  “You know, Hongki and Seunghyun had told me who their favourites are.” He winked at the two, who looked back questioningly but didn’t say a word.

  “Er…” Jonghoon sighed and looked at his two members for help. Hongki shrugged back, as if saying, ‘Trust your heart on this one.’

  Jonghoon turned back to the eagerly waiting Jaeho, feeling resigned. “It’s Jiyoung-yang.” He cracked a smile as the others cheered. Jaeho was the loudest, which made Jiyoung cringe and want to staple his mouth shut.

  “I’m soooo happy to hear that in person!” the host exclaimed. “Jiyoung dear, aren’t you happy about this?”

  ‘OK, I can do this. Be brave, Jiyoung!’ she told herself.

  She quickly pasted a big grin on her face. “Yes,” she half-lied, pretending to be bashful.

  She glanced at Jonghoon and instantly realized from his not-100%-happy look that he knew she was not being sincere. ‘Uh oh.’

  “Perfect!” Jaeho clapped. “I so love to be a matchmaker!” He giggled happily and turned to Jonghoon. “So tell me, why is she your favourite?”

  “Jaeho-oppa, there’s no need to ask him that!” Jiyoung cried angrily and glanced at Jonghoon. She could see that the FT Island leader was secretly wishing he was anywhere but here in the studio, being asked this… inappropriate question.

  “Jiyoung, shh!” Jaeho frowned at her and turned to Jonghoon.

  Jonghoon cleared his throat and answered diplomatically, “Well, she’s cute.”

  Jaeho rolled his eyes. “Duh, obviously, but the rest of KARA are also cute.”

  A chorus of offended “Yeah!” came from the four KARA members. Hongki and Seunghyun laughed.

  Jonghoon shrugged. “Jiyoung is… something else. She has this… fresh personality that I like. She’s like… a bundle of joy and energy and happiness, always waiting to burst out.” He paused, lost in thought and apparently was oblivious to the other people in the room. He added softly, “She has a certain innocent inner beauty that no one else has.”

  “Oh my God,” Jiyoung whispered as her heart soared after hearing his words. She is totally oblivious to the teasing looks thrown at her by her unnies.

  As she stared at the the guitarist, she realized that nobody has talked about her this way. Jonghoon has looked past her exterior and liked her for who she was, and not who she was manufactured by her company to be.

  Finally realizing that everyone was staring at him, he cleared his throat again and looked at Jaeho. “I mean, that’s what I think.”

  Jaeho’s mouth had dropped open at hearing Jonghoon’s honest opinion of Jiyoung. Closing his mouth and curling his lips, he clapped proudly. “Wow, such strong emotions you portrayed there, Jonghoon-ssi.”

  “It’s nothing. That’s just a general observation,” Jonghoon stated nonchalantly and waved his hand, hoping to dismiss what he had said.

  ‘Please don’t ask him how he knew me so well!’ she begged nervously to Jaeho.

  “Right, well, we all know about your confessions involving her,” the host said, looking pointedly at the Jonghoon, who reddened and lowered his head. “So, now that Jonghoon’s here, Jiyoung can explain to him herself why she’s been ignoring his love calls,” Jaeho suggested evilly.

  ‘Well, this is the lesser of two evils,’ Jiyoung thought wryly.

  “No, no, no, hyung, there’s no need for that!” Jonghoon was quick to protest.

  “Sure, there is!” Jaeho countered. “I’m sure Primadonnas and Kamilias would want to know more about this.”

  Gyuri spoke up. “Actually, they might be angry. Most celebrity couples are usually not welcomed at first.” The others agreed.

  “Well, Jiyoung and Jonghoon are not just any celebrity now, are they? Come on, humour me at least,” the host urged.

  Jonghoon sighed, surrendered and shrugged. Then, all eyes turned to Jiyoung, who gulped and looked over at her unnies for advice. The girls nodded encouragingly, indicating that she should be honest and go on.

  She took a deep breath and began, “Well, I admit that I’ve known about this since the very beginning. My parents found out about it as well, and being the strict parents that they are, they told me to focus only on my career and school and nothing else.”

  “Appa and Umma have supported me all the way since day one, so I’ve been really thankful for that. As their daughter, I respect them and their advice saying that love and romance are only a distraction now.”

  Jaeho snorted, obviously disagreeing with what Jiyoung just said.

  “They also told me that… Jonghoon-ssi’s… feelings will only last a short while,” she admitted with a small smile. “When he kept on mentioning me on TV shows, they said that if I ignore it, he’d give up.” ‘That’s when he turned to liking Hyosung-unnie,’ Jiyoung thought bitterly.

  She shrugged. “I also found out recently that Umma would want me to get married when I turn 30.” Everyone laughed along with her. “Although I don’t agree with her at all on that, I feel that I have to follow their rules.”

  Gyuri piped in helpfully. “Yeah, Jiyoung is very close to her parents, and always listen to what they have to say about things. She’s a good girl.”

  Jaeho nodded in understanding. “Ah, I see. So when exactly can you start dating?”

  Jiyoung frowned. “I don’t know. Later.” She shrugged.

  “Ah, Jonghoon-ssi, now you know why she can’t accept you. She respects her parents too much to disobey their rules,” he said to the guitarist, who has been looking down at his shoes throughout Jiyoung’s explanation.

  “Yeah, I kind of figured that was the reason too,” he answered softly.

  Jaeho patted him on the back pitifully. “What are you going to do about it?”

  The young man just shrugged. “What can I do?” He smiled sadly and looked down.

  Those four words said it all. The others looked sympathetically at him. The sorriest person in the room was Jiyoung, who felt like kicking herself in the shin for making the guitarist feel so down. She felt so guilty for overlooking how he really felt for her all this while.

  Jonghoon then forced a laugh. “Hey, why the sad atmosphere? I thought this is a fun show.”

  Jaeho chuckled at his attempt to lighten the mood in the studio. “I’m so sorry, Jonghoon-ssi.” He then asked Jiyoung the question that was floating in everyone’s mind.

  “Jiyoung, if your parents don’t have such rules, what would you do? What would your heart tell you to do?”

  The girl was left speechless by the question. In the corner of her eyes, she could see Jonghoon looking over at her. Positive that she is as red as a tomato, she cleared her throat nervously.

  “Er… I would… er…” She racked her brain for what to say. “…want him to confess to me in person.” She laughed loudly, feeling extremely proud of her quick thinking.

  The others cheered for her, to her delight.

  “Well, there you have it, Jonghoon-ssi. Don’t ever give up.” Jaeho paused, putting his forefinger on his chin thoughtfully. “You know what? Maybe you should go meet her parents straight and ask for their permission and blessings.”

  The rest laughed loudly. Also laughing, Jonghoon scratched and shook his head, embarrassed.

  Jaeho faced the camera. ‘’Alright, that’s finally all the time we have today. I hope you enjoy today’s episode with KARA and three-fifth of FT Island!”

  He paused and looked thoughtfully at the camera. “Mr and Mrs Kang, please give it a serious thought and open your hearts to our dear Jonghoon-ssi, for the sake of your daughter’s love life.” He laughed loudly.

  Jiyoung narrowed her eyes and felt her head throbbing as she shook her head slowly at his outburst. Hongki, Seunghyun and the rest of KARA laughed nervously, while Jonghoon tried to laugh off Jaeho’s comment half-heartedly.

  “Send in your comments about who you want our guest to be next to the email address flashing on your screen right now. Alright, see you next time!” Jaeho waved to the camera, while the guests clapped.

  “OK, that’s a wrap!” the PD shouted. “Thank you, everyone!”

  “Thank you!” the guests chorused.

  Jiyoung sighed. “Finally,” she muttered under her breath and along with her group members, she sprinted off the set to head towards the safety of KARA’s dressing room.

  Right behind her unnies, she was about to enter their sanctuary when she felt a hand lightly touching her arm. She turned and saw a guilty-looking Choi Jonghoon staring back at her.

To be continued…

AN: I didn’t mean to make Jiyoung’s parents the bad guys here. This is fiction, people! Please remember that.