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

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?

“Hey. Do you have a minute? Can we talk?” Jonghoon asked her in his deep voice that she has always loved.

  ‘Oh, crap,’ Jiyoung thought.

  Positively petrified, she glanced around to find the hallway they were in deserted. Breathing a sigh of relief as she tries hard to calm her nerves, she closed the door to the dressing room quietly and stared back at him, trembling.

  “Listen, I’m so sorry if that thing just now made you uncomfortable. It came out of nowhere! Seriously, I totally didn’t know that you guys were going to be on the show as well. I thought we’re supposed to just come and promote our new song, but then Jaeho-hyung went on and opened up that can of worms…”

  As the young man in front of her rambled on, looking at everywhere but her, Jiyoung smiled. She gazed at his genuinely worried face and was reminded of the reasons she considered him her good friend.

  The two had met through work, and from there a friendship was formed. Even though they didn’t hang out with one another very often or at all except when they have the same work-related activities, they always found the time to communicate over the phone.

  Strangely, Jiyoung could tell him anything without ever feeling embarrassed in the countless texts and phone calls before they go to bed most nights. She couldn’t help but open up to him and vice versa. He just… gets her.

  They would talk about anything – work, their families, and life – but never about what they think of each other as something more than just friends. Somehow, they had an unspoken understanding that that was a forbidden subject in order to preserve their friendship.

  She had carefully avoided talking about his confessions of liking her on several TV shows, and to her luck, he also never mentioned it in their calls.

  Their conversational topics would usually include lots of teasing from both parties, but they never ended them in an argument. Instead, whenever they ended their calls, Jiyoung always felt as if she was enveloped by a big balloon of happiness.

  This particular experience would have her skipping around and singing cheerfully for a whole five minutes before she would turn normal again, much to her unnies’ annoyance.

  Jiyoung was proud to have been able to keep the identity of her secret caller from her unnies. After two weeks of trying, they had given up on figuring out who she talked to.

  Now, they just referred to him as “Jiyoung’s friend,” as in, “Ah, it’s time for Jiyoung’s friend to call,” or “Hey, do you think Jiyoung’s friend is real? I think she’s just talking to herself while holding her phone up to her ear,” or “Have you ever thought that Jiyoung’s friend might be her secret boyfriend that she’s not telling us about?” or “Jing, does your friend want some kimbap? I made a snack for us, and I have some extra.”

  They had told her to stop it, in case this “friend” was a serial killer or a stalker fan. Much to their pleasure and her sadness, Jonghoon hadn’t called or texted her in the last few weeks. Jiyoung didn’t blame him, assuming that FT Island was busy preparing for a comeback and before that, holding a concert tour.

  Wanting to be a good friend, Jiyoung had sent him encouraging texts, to which he always replied with his thanks. The void that existed from the lack of his calls in her life only made her realize that she cherished with every fiber of her being the bond that she and Jonghoon shared.

  He makes her smile whenever he is being overly confident of his looks and himself, but she enjoys him more when he shows his serious and thoughtful side that not many has had the privilege to witness. That itself had made her feel extra special among his friends.

  Despite all of that, she noticed that there is an awkward feeling of shyness surrounding her whenever they meet up in person. They were always able to mask such discomfort by acting as if nothing’s wrong, but she knew that he felt it too. She supposed their phones acted like a shield to their real emotions.

  Like most girls in the Kpop world, Jiyoung had certainly noticed his mad guitar skills and stunning physical attributes, especially his eyes, which are his best feature in her opinion. He even knew about that little fact and never missed a chance to taunt her whenever they meet.

  Besides secretly enjoying his sculptured exterior and cool style, she also cherishes his honesty, a quality she likes most in a person. He once had told her bluntly that her short Winter Magic hair made her look “weird.” Yes, that’s exactly what he said, complete with a disappointed look on his handsome face.

  They were at a concert in Japan where they were part of the lineup of performers. At the end of it, all of the stars came out on stage, and Jiyoung found herself standing near the FT Island boys.

  She vividly remembered feeling hurt by his comment, but he quickly remedied it by saying that he absolutely loved her STEP hair, and her other hairstyles before that, especially her long one.

  “Hey, Jiyoungie,” he had said to her then, in a deep, serious and sincere voice. “No matter what hairstyle, or outfit or makeup you have on, you’ll always and forever be the most beautiful girl to me.” He smiled warmly, which sent her straight on cloud nine.

  Jiyoung was evidently aware of the attraction and spark that had existed between them since day one, as were their friends. Because of her parents, she chose to ignore such strange feelings and ultimately stopped it from growing into something more. Well, with so many calls shared between them, it turned out to be a difficult task for her emotionally.

  She was constantly reminded by her parents of their rule for her on dating. Because of that, she had kept her emotions caged. Jonghoon, on the other hand, had other plans apparently.

  “Jiyoung!” the present and concerned Jonghoon called her name when he noticed that she was spacing out. “Are you listening? And why are you smiling? This is serious! I was saying that I honestly didn’t know all of this would happen. Will your manager be angry? What about your agency? I’m so sorry…”

  Again, Jiyoung tuned him out.  To her surprise, all of the evidence gathered today (rudely by Jaeho and her unnies) were pointing to the fact that she and Jonghoon were more than just friends.

  That they were meant to be together. That they were… soul mates.

  She couldn’t imagine how she would feel without his calls and words of encouragement; or without him in her life.

  ‘Jaeho-oppa was right. These are my feelings and I should be in control of them. Not Umma and Appa.’

  She realized that because of her parents and her fear of these unfamiliar feelings, she had hurt her dear Jonghoon-oppa in the process. He was so nice for apologizing to her now when she was the one who’s hurt him.

  All this while, he was merely doing what his heart tells him to, which was what she should be doing.

  ‘Umma and Appa, Kamilias and everyone else should know that I’m a big girl now. I can make my own decisions. If Hara-unnie can do it with Junhyung-oppa, then I sure can too,’ she thought determinedly.

  “Oppa,” she interrupted him, her smile still evident on her face. “Do you want to grab dinner later? We can ask the others to come along too.”

  Jonghoon just stared at her in confusion. “Er, what?” he asked, thinking that he didn’t hear correctly.

  Jiyoung giggled. “I asked if you want to grab some dinner later. You know, as friends.” Slowly taking his hand, she added in a softer voice, “Or…  maybe, something more.” She shrugged and flashed him a shy smile.

  Jonghoon gaped at her some more before his mind finally registered what she had said. His face slowly broke out into a grin and he looked away, laughing softly at the situation. He turned back to her and stared into her eyes. “I’d like that. Especially the last part.”

  At that moment, Jiyoung felt as if a flower was literally blooming in her heart as she lost herself in his eyes. She could feel herself turning red, her heart melting and her knees weakening when he looked deep into her soul. There was this unreadable expression on his face, as if he was contemplating on whether to kiss her or not.

  Assuming that was it, she braved herself, moving closer to him and tilted her head up to meet his. Surprise flitted across his face at first before determination took over and he went to meet her halfway.

  Jiyoung smiled when she noticed that he welcomed her advances and even reciprocated it, but before their lips could touch, she heard Gyuri’s voice beside her, “Yah, Kang Jiyoung!”

  Jonghoon and Jiyoung sprang apart like two guilty burglars caught red-handed, and stared wide-eyed at the KARA leader who had opened the door to see where their maknae had gone to.

  “What are you, nuts? What if someone sees you?” Gyuri whispered loudly, displeasure evident in her voice, and looked sternly at them.

  Hara’s voice floated from inside the room. “What’s happening, unnie? Where’s Jing? Did she get caught kissing Jonghoon-oppa or something? Hahaha!”

  Hara thought her joke was funny, and looked at Jiyoung’s reflection in the mirror in front of her. What she saw was a girl looking both frightened and guilty, and Jonghoon looking equally guilty next to her. Hara whirled around in her swivel chair to the girl in question and gasped in astonishment, “No way!”

  Under the questioning stare of her four unnies who had curiously gathered at the door, Jiyoung put on her innocent face and finally found her voice.

  “Actually, Jonghoon-oppa came here to say hi…” she trailed off, glancing at the young man beside her and mulling over how she should explain the situation.

  She didn’t want to lie anymore about her feelings. She owed it to Jonghoon, at least.

  “And then I asked if he wanted to join us for dinner later.” She paused, wondering how to put it delicately.

  “And then I wanted to kiss him,” she finished as if it was the most normal thing in the world for her.

  Her unnies then exploded with surprise and excitement, and talked heatedly among themselves. “I knew it was him who has been calling her. Pay up!”

  “Hey, that’s not fair! I was the one who suggested that it might be him! I should get at least half of the bet!”

  “What?? I was the one who pointed out first that something was going on between them! I should get the full payment of the bet!”

  “Why don’t we just split the money into four?”

  “Then what’s the point of even paying??”

  “Whatever! I just want money!”

  While all of that ruckus was happening, Jiyoung quietly closed the door and turned to see a very enamoured Jonghoon gazing back at her. “Wow. That was surprisingly calm and brave of you.” He chuckled.

  She shrugged and smiled proudly. “Well, you learn something new every day.” Her smile was replaced by a shy one. “And one more thing you didn’t know… is that… I really like you, Choi Jonghoon. And I always have.”

  The young man stared lovingly at her with a small smile. Jiyoung could see and feel the love emanating from the look that he was giving her.

  "What made you change your mind?” he asked.

  She shrugged. "I realised that I've been denying my true feelings for far too long. I've really enjoyed our friendship over the phone, but I somehow failed to realise that I've fallen for you. I was scared of what might happen so I avoided thinking such things. I'm not scared anymore."

  Jiyoung took a deep breath, determination etched on her face. "In fact, I'm now more than ready to be more than just a friend to you. If you'll still have me."

  Jonghoon stared at her for a few seconds before inching closer to her and rubbing her cheek with his thumb. He murmured, “I’m really glad, because I really like you too, Kang Jiyoung. And I'll always have you.”

  When they finally kissed, without any interruptions this time, Jiyoung swore she saw fireworks. Being with him and in his embrace felt so right, and she wished for the moment to last forever. 

  If being friends with him give her a wondrous feeling, being openly in love with him feels a thousand times better. She didn’t think love and romance could feel this good!

  As she put her arms around his neck to pull him closer, she deduced then that listening to her heart was the best decision she has ever made.

  She couldn’t believe she was saying this, but she owed it all to Jaeho-oppa.