"A night of just the two of us when no one is watching..." Yoon Hye Sang, Dancing Universe
Lee Minho’s POV – July 1, 2020
It’s eight o’clock in the evening when the doorbell rings.
I wipe my hands on a clean dish towel before I head over to the intercom. The video display shows my girlfriend waving adorably into the camera.
No matter how many times I’ve seen that sweet eye smile of hers, my heart still skips a beat.
“Hurry up and come in,” I say into the intercom, before punching a button to allow her entry. I gave her my apartment passcode weeks ago but she’s still too shy to use it.
“Oppa, I’m here!” she announces as the front door opens and closes. As if on cue, I hear the frantic pitter-patter of tiny feet race across the living room floor. It’s Choco and she’s excited to greet her favourite new friend.
“Choco, hello! How are you, sweet girl?”
I move around the kitchen island just in time to see Goeun swoop Choco in her arms and coo down at the tutu-clad mini pinscher. “Aigoo, so pretty. You’re happy to see me, aren’t you?”
“She’s not the only one,” I remark as I walk towards them, stopping just a foot away. Goeun is dressed comfortably, in a black cotton tee and blue denim jeans. I love that she’s always herself and never tries to impress me.
She also smells really good.
“Hi,” I say, bending down to give her a soft kiss on the lips.
“Hi,” she replies, smiling, once I lift my face up from hers.
She’s used to my regular acts of affection and hardly fusses about it anymore. Though I’m sure I would never get away with it in public. It’s not just the fact that we’re celebrities, but also in principle. Goeun hates calling undue attention to herself and avoids appearing disrespectful in case older ones are watching.
This is one good thing about dating at home: no one’s watching.
I give Choco a light pat on the head before taking her out of Goeun’s arms and placing her on the ground. My dog trots back to her dog bed beside the living room couch, content that her work is done.
“Are you hungry?” I ask as we make our way into the kitchen. I reach around my waist and remove the apron I’d been wearing.
“Yes,” she says, “since you asked me to come hungry.”
She lifts her eyes in amazement as she peers at the dishes plated beautifully on the island counter. “Wow, it looks delicious. Did you make this all yourself?”
Goeun and I both love to cook and often make meals for each other during our home dates. We’d get the groceries delivered and take turns being Chef for the night. Other times when we’re too lazy or too tired, we’d order delivery. As much as we want to eat at restaurants together, it’s such a complicated affair that we only attempted it once and haven’t since.
Her birthday is in a few hours so I prepared the usual birthday foods. Seaweed soup is a must, though I made this one a bit more special by using abalone. Noodles is another traditional food and I chose japchae just because I know she likes it. I also grilled some galbi ribs and fried some potato jeon to add more variety to the meal.
There is also an array of banchan dishes on the counter: kimchi, seasoned bean sprouts, steamed eggplant, and stir-fried radish.
“The banchan are from my mom,” I tell her as I open the wine fridge to grab a bottle of champagne, “but I made everything else.”
Now that she’s here, I’m feeling slightly concerned. Grilling meat is more of my forte so I’m unsure how the dishes will taste.
“This must be what a wife feels like,” I tell her with a laugh, “waiting for her husband to come home. Wondering if he’ll like his meal.”
“I’m sure your future wife will love your cooking,” she replies, sitting down on a bar stool.
“I hope so.” My words come out more serious than I intended, but I press on. “And I hope to find her soon.”
There’s a pause as we stare at each other in the loaded silence, and then she blushes and looks away.
I clear my throat and pull two glass flutes from the cupboard. “Do you want to listen to some music? Play something.”
Goeun gets out of her seat quickly even though she just sat down. I watch her head towards my vinyl record player and examine the shelf below it that houses my collection of LPs. She chooses one and sets it to play.
My throat suddenly feels dry, so I take some sparkling water from the fridge and pour it into my glass. I drain it in one shot. Then I open the champagne bottle and pour the bubbly contents into Goeun’s glass, placing it on the table near her seat.
The music plays and we sit down around the kitchen island. I have a proper dining table but for some reason we always end up eating here instead.
Goeun takes another look at the food before she beams up at me. “Thank you for dinner. I’ll eat it well.”
“Happy Birthday, Goeun-ah.”
We dig into the food and I’m pleased to see her eating with gusto. Everything turned out delicious, to my relief, and once we’re done the meal, we’re both stuffed.
She drains her champagne glass and lets out a satisfied sigh. “I’m glad I won’t be meeting my family until tomorrow afternoon. The first thing Omma will want to do is feed me and I don’t think I’ll be able to eat so soon after this.”
“I’m thankful your parents don’t mind sharing you this year,” I say as I begin clearing the empty dishes and leftover food. “What did you tell them?”
“Not much, just that I’d be spending time with you.”
Goeun is a lot like me and doesn’t hide many things from her family. Although our relationship is new, Goeun’s parents and brother already know we’re dating. It’s the same with my family, though my nuna knew about us a long time ago.
I wave Goeun away when she attempts to help me clean up. “It’s your birthday in a few hours. Go rest in the living room.”
For once she doesn’t fight me and relents. “I’ll just brush my teeth and be right back, okay?”
I smile at her retreating figure, thinking fondly about her toothbrush hanging up beside mine in the ensuite bathroom.
I love that she has a toothbrush here.
She keeps it here not because she’s been sleeping over but because she’s here so often. It’s the only thing she keeps in my apartment, yet for some reason, it feels strangely satisfying.
I like knowing that something she owns is here permanently.
Alone in my kitchen, I gaze around and frown.
There’s not much to do, but I hate cleaning up. It’s my least favourite chore especially when I’d rather spend time with someone important to me. I reason that as long as the remaining food is in the fridge and the dirty dishes are hidden, everything else can be dealt with later.
As quickly as I can, I throw the remaining empty dishes in the dishwasher, turn off the record player, and make my way to the bathroom to join her.
Kim Goeun’s POV – July 1, 2020
I had just finished rising my mouth when Minho-oppa walks in.
“That was fast,” I remark as I watch him squeeze some toothpaste on his toothbrush. “Don’t tell me you just dumped the dishes into the dishwasher?”
He doesn’t even look remotely remorseful when he says, “Maybe.”
“You can’t do that,” I exclaim. “You have to make sure they’re loaded properly!”
He shrugs but he doesn’t answer. He just points to his mouth and teeth, which he is currently brushing, and looks at me like I’m the most amusing person he’s ever seen.
I knew I should have helped him earlier.
It’s bizarre how quickly we fell into this comfortable, domestic pattern. If you asked me months ago if I could ever imagine myself standing in Lee Minho’s bathroom watching him brush his teeth, I would tell you that the question’s insane and that you’re crazy for even asking it.
And yet, here we are.
Me watching him brush his teeth like it’s a normal thing we do.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re always dating at home.
As public figures, our dating style is very different from other couples. Home dates are the safest, though we go on car dates often too. Other times, we go out late at night and walk around empty streets, or head to the Han River to look at the water. It’s not easy, but we make it work.
Our dating situation is a bit intense. Not only do we text or call each other every day, but we’ve also seen each other at least two or three times a week without fail. Even when Minho-oppa went to Jeju with his friends, I had flown in one day just to see him.
I suppose our minimal schedules have a lot to do with it. Although I’m disappointed that Hero got postponed, in another way, it’s been a blessing. Movie press tours are fast paced, and actors play a huge role in promotion. I doubt I would have this much time to date if Hero had been released on schedule. On Minho-oppa’s side, he hadn’t committed to anything big after The King besides a few CFS. Our schedules have been freer than it has been in a long time so we’ve been taking advantage of it.
Sometimes I wonder if he and I are going too fast. Then another part of me remembers that it took us eight months to get to this point in the first place. Once our work schedules pick up again, who knows what will happen then? For now, it’s good that we’re seeing each other a lot since we’re bound to get busier later.
Minho-oppa is done rinsing his mouth and he smiles mischievously at me.
Seeing it does crazy things to my insides.
How is it possible for someone to be this handsome? Even in casual clothes and messy hair, he’s so undeniably attractive… and the worst part is, he knows it.
I’m sure he can get away with almost anything.
I reach for a small face towel on a bathroom shelf and bring it over to him to dry his mouth.
When he doesn’t take it from me, I realize he wants me to do it for him.
My eyes widen in surprise, but I do it anyway. Didn’t I just say, he could probably get away with almost anything?
As I pat his damp mouth with the towel, I’m suddenly conscious of how intently he’s staring at me.
Oh God, I know that look.
As if on cue, he grabs at my wrist that’s holding the towel and causes me to drop it on the floor. Then he pulls my wrist around his neck, pulls my other arm around to join it, and picks me up in his arms to sit me on the bathroom counter.
“How are you always this sweet?” he murmurs, before leaning down to kiss me.
My mouth opens for him and he takes advantage of it, his teeth nipping softly at my bottom lip before diving in with lips and tongue.
He tastes minty, earthy, and distinctly him.
Our kiss turns wet and passionate and my fingers tangle into his hair.
We continue kissing until we’re both panting for breath, our lips finally breaking apart.
He buries his face into my neck and we stay in that position for a few seconds. Then when he speaks, his voice comes out deep and scratchy, almost like a growl. “I always feel so out of control when I’m with you.”
I play with the ends of his hair with my fingertips. “So do I.”
We’ve been hot and heavy with each other lately. It makes sense since we’re both so physically attracted to each other. But to be honest… I’m not ready yet.
I told him so, one night.
His response was everything I ever hoped for. Reassuring, kind, and understanding.
“We’ll go at our own pace,” he said to me, his hand gently caressing my face. “There’s no need to rush.”
These days when we do get physical, he does his best to hold back. He tries to be a gentleman.
I’m grateful for that.
I’m grateful that he never pushes me to do anything I’m uncomfortable with.
Getting his control back, Minho-oppa lifts me down from the bathroom counter and ruffles my hair. “Let’s watch something on TV.”
We make our way to the living room and take our usual spots on the couch, me on his right side and him to my left. He turns on the large TV and we settle on watching the latest episode of Yoo Jaesuk’s ‘How Do You Play.’ We place our feet up on the ottoman and he rests his arm around my shoulders.
Within minutes, we’re both shaking with laughter after watching the antics of Bi-Ryong, Yoo-Doragon, and Linda G.
“Lee Hyori is so cool,” I murmur, after some time passes. “Have you ever met her?”
“Once,” he says, with a slight smirk on his face. “There’s even a news article about it. They released some photos of us sitting awkwardly at an event. People said that we didn’t talk to each other. The truth is we did speak, but we aren’t close, so we didn’t have much to say either.”
“I thought you were good at making conversation.” I think about how we first met and how easy it was to talk to him. “Even though we just met, you and I got close pretty quickly, didn’t we?”
“We did. But it’s different with you. Lee Hyori is intimidating. You’re…” He cuts himself off, then shakes his head. “Actually, you’re intimidating too.”
I’m surprised to hear this. “I’m not intimidating.”
“Yes, you are.”
“In what way?”
“You’re Chungmuro,” he states, matter-of-factly. “You’ve been a Chungmuro actress since your debut film. And since then, you’ve consistently worked with well-respected sunbaes. Do you know how rare that is?”
I mull over it, well aware of what he means. I choose my words carefully. “I’ve been very lucky.”
“It’s not just luck.” Minho-oppa reaches over to cup my chin in his hand, titling my face up to meet his eyes. “It’s talent. You’re talented, Goeun-ah. Skilled, focused, fearless. You pick projects that show just how versatile you are. Everyone can see your range and everyone is drawn to it. And…” he trails off, dropping his hold on my face. “You don’t know how intimidating you were the first time I saw you act on set.”
“When Lee Gon and Jeong Taeeul met at the chicken restaurant?”
“Yes. You became Taeeul so quickly. It was amazing to watch.”
“And what about you?” I counter, feeling a little embarrassed at the sudden barrage of compliments. “You don’t think you looked intimidating on set?”
He perks up at this. “When was I intimidating?”
“The first time I saw you on Maximus. We were in Gwanghamun and it was like seeing a fairy-tale come to life. A king on a white horse.”
“Continue,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m enjoying this.”
“You know how you look.”
“I like hearing you say it.”
“You’re handsome,” I tell him, although he knows it well himself. “You’re unbelievably cool and attractive without even trying. It’s easy to see why you’re a Hallyu star and why so many women are obsessed with you. Eighteen million followers can’t be wrong.”
“And yet I only care about one.”
I laugh. “I don’t follow you on Instagram.”
He frowns at this. “Why not? You follow your other co-stars.”
“You don’t follow me either.”
“I don’t? Let me fix that.” He reaches for his phone, but I stop him.
“Are you crazy? The minute we do, our fans will go nuts.”
It’s a point he can’t argue with, so he puts his phone back down.
“I respect and admire you,’ I continue, my tone serious. “Looks aside, you’re talented too. Do you think anyone could have been Lee Gon as well as you? Your voice, the manner in which you walked and talked, and especially the way you were with Taeeul… with me. I don’t think I could have pulled off those emotional scenes half as well if not for you. You wouldn’t have the success you have right now if you weren’t a good actor.”
He reaches over to grab my hand, playing with my fingers. “Even so, I feel like I need to do something different. I admit, I’ve chosen safe roles in the past because it’s easy to ride on my popularity. After The King, I want to challenge myself more. I want to become more versatile.” He squeezes my hand. “Like you are.”
I smile at him. “When you find a project you like, let me know. I’ll tell you my honest opinion.”
It’s nice having conversations like this.
Work is a huge part of our lives; it’s our passion. I’m glad that because we come from the same industry, it’s much easier to understand each other. We can sympathize with one another’s fears and concerns without having to explain too much.
I hope I’ll always be a source of support for Minho-oppa. And I know he’ll always try to be that person for me.
We realize that we haven’t been paying attention to the TV screen, so we settle back into the couch and rewind the program. Some time passes and I have my head on Minho-oppa’s chest.
“I’ll be right back,” he says, moving away carefully and getting up on his feet. “Just going to the bathroom.”
I stifle a yawn and nod my head. Then I start laughing as I watch Yoo Jaesuk and Hyori make fun of Bi once again. I’m so engaged in watching the program that I don’t hear the music playing until Minho-oppa is a few feet away.
When I turn, he’s beside me.
He’s cradling Choco with one arm, holding his phone in the same hand, which he set to play the instrumental version of Happy Birthday. In his other hand is a small birthday cake with two lit wax candles on top that read ’30.’
We’d been so preoccupied with each other that I didn’t even notice the time.
It’s already midnight.
It’s officially my birthday and Minho-oppa is singing to me.
I feel my eyes prickle as I watch my boyfriend.
He’s juggling his dog and my birthday cake at the same time as he sings happy birthday. The crazy part is that he looks so happy doing it. His face looks bright and excited, as if we were celebrating his special day and not mine.
My chest tightens as I look at him.
What did I ever do to deserve someone so good?
Someone so generous with his time that he spent all day cooking just to give me a proper birthday meal.
Someone so understanding that he won’t push me to do anything I’m not ready for.
Someone so thoughtful that he planned an entire night just to show me he cares.
The feeling that’s been building up inside me manifests itself into words for the very first time.
I love him.
No, I’m in with love him.
I clasp a hand over my mouth, feeling like I’m about laugh and cry all at once.
Minho-oppa doesn’t seem to notice and just pushes the cake in front of me.
“Happy Birthday, pretty Goeun,” he says, with a wide grin. “Make a wish.”
And so… I do.
Most years, I wish for small and simple things.
This time, I wish for something big. Something more.
As I close my eyes and blow out the candles, I form the wishes in my head.
I wish for us to love…
I wish for us to stay in love...
And if possible…
I wish for it to last forever.
1) Okay, fam. Before you come at me, I already know. This is NOT Dancing Universe. This is more like…PRE- Dancing Universe. As in, the hours before that video and song got uploaded and shocked our fandom. If this wasn’t what you were expecting, I’m sorry! I hope you aren’t too disappointed though. I wanted to give that video a little backstory so this is what I came up with. And honestly, the next part is worth waiting for so... hang in there! Just give me some more time because Real Life is very real for me right now, lol.
2) As always, thank you for reading and show me some love! Comment and heart!