“She burst into tears… and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her in compassionate silence.” Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Lee Minho’s POV – May 28, 2020
Today is a good day.
The weather is warm and perfect for filming. The set design is detailed and looks convincingly like a snapshot of the past.
Goeun and I are almost done with our scene. All that’s left to film are the close-up shots of us smiling at each other as we walk hand in hand.
Her expression is sweet as she smiles at me, her eyes disappearing into adorable curves. It’s so endearing that I don’t need to act at all. The smile on my face is genuine.
It seems that we’ve done well because the director calls ‘cut, okay’ and then it’s over.
Eight months, sixteen books of scripts, and countless hours spent with the most perfect girl I’ve ever met. It’s done. This life-changing project has reached its end, and while I’m sad that it’s over, I’m also excited for what’s next.
Not just for Lee Minho the actor, but for Lee Minho the man.
Though the main cameras stop rolling, the BTS camera continues to film us. They’re just doing their job, but it irritates me.
Their presence means I can’t hug Goeun properly.
I want to tell her she’s worked hard and that I’m grateful we were on this project together. I want her to know how much she means to me, not just as a co-star, but in other ways.
I want to tell her so many things, but that will have to wait.
For one thing, we can’t risk being filmed.
For another, she’s not even paying attention to me.
I watch as she slips off her heels and passes it to her assistant, Hyeyeon. Then she puts on a pair of flat slippers and wiggles her toes in relief.
It’s difficult to keep a straight face when I’m with her. I need to get myself together. I’m sure I’m grinning like an idiot right now, but can you blame me?
She’s just so damn cute.
“Shall we go?” I ask, when she finally looks in my direction.
There are a lot of people around us and they’re moving around quickly. The set is buzzing since the crew is dismantling equipment and props. It’s best to get out of their way.
“Let’s go,” she replies, her assistant following close behind her.
As we walk, I wrap an arm around her shoulders to pat her on the back and she does the same to me. It’s a ‘sunbae-hoobae’ move and not even close to what my instincts are pushing me to do, but I hold back.
The camera is still filming.
In the distance, I see my manager coming towards us with the gifts I’d prepared.
“I have something for you,” I announce, as I hunt around for the other recipient of my gift. “Director Baek! I have something for you too, sir.”
The director isn’t too far away and he reaches us the same time as my manager approaches. My manager holds out the flower bouquets I ordered along with two Minomi dolls.
Director Baek and I chuckle together as I pass him a bouquet of flowers. “You prepared these for us?” he muses.
I take the other flower bouquet and hand it over to Goeun, who has her head tilted down.
Is she upset? She looks like she’s about to cry.
No, she is crying.
“Why are you crying?” I exclaim, as I reach over to stroke her hair. I’m really itching to hold and comfort her, but she moves away from me before I can even attempt it.
Several feet away, I catch her staring just slightly behind me, and I realize she’s spotted the camera too.
Calm down, I tell myself, watching as Goeun and Director Baek discuss the Minomi dolls. Don’t make it worse for her and just follow the plan.
A few minutes later, we’re called by the press to take photos. We can’t refuse as this is part of a scheduled news release to advise viewers that The King: Eternal Monarch officially wrapped up filming. We stand side by side, and from the corner of my eye, I can see Goeun struggling to smile.
I signal the photographer to get this done quickly and curve my arm around her shoulders for support.
After the photos are taken, Goeun releases a sigh and I stroke her head again. “Don’t cry, don’t cry,” I say as I look down to examine her face.
She dodges me again and I’m not sure if her discomfort is due to me witnessing her tears or from the BTS camera that is still filming us. She just shakes her head, her smile tremulous.
I’m relieved when the camera crew has enough footage and finally leaves us alone. I thank them for their hard work and turn my attention back to the beautiful girl in front of me.
“Are you okay?” I ask her, my voice gentle.
“Mm-hmm,” she murmurs, nodding her head once.
The next hour goes by in a blur. Everyone on set comes together to take group photos. We take several shots. Once this is done, I take a few photos with my staff and even some with Goeun’s staff. We had all gotten close throughout filming. Hyungtaek, Goeun’s manager, and Hyeyeon had even helped me with my plans for tonight.
Goeun and I walk around the set to give our final greetings, bowing and thanking the people who’ve worked so hard alongside us these past eight months. We speak to the audio-visual staff, the stylists, the assistants, and the production crew. We wish them all the best and express our hope of seeing them again on a future project.
Goeun continues to cry the entire time. Thankfully, Hyeyeon stays close by and keeps passing her fresh tissues.
I understand how she feels. Saying goodbye to all these good people is making me choked up too. I don’t cry though. I don’t usually cry in public unless I’m acting. Besides, seeing her in tears is overriding any sort of sadness on my part.
I’ve seen Goeun cry before, many times during filming, but never like this. Never as herself.
I hate seeing her cry. I really hate it.
It bothers me and I can’t ignore.
Every so often, I look over my shoulder to check where she is. If she’s doing okay. Eventually I just give up the fight and stay by her side. Even if it looks like I’m following her around, I don’t care.
Filming’s over. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When it feels like we’ve spoken to everyone we needed to, our staff begin ushering us to leave. We need to head back to Seoul, to Gangnam, where we arranged for a restaurant to discretely host our wrap-up dinner celebration.
This restaurant is a place I’d arranged for specifically, with the blessing of Director Baek, Writer Kim Eunsook, and the main cast. I’m not sure if all of them know what I’m planning, but I assume even the ones I haven’t told know that something is up.
This is part one of my two-part plan: the location. For two weeks now, I’ve had MYM entertainment staff search for the perfect place. It was another favour I’d asked for from my nuna and thankfully, she was willing to help.
She lectured me again about being careful but admitted that it’s better this way. She’d rather be aware of what I’m planning to do, rather than me to act on my own and cause trouble.
I guess she’s worried I’ll go rogue again. What can I say? She knows me well.
I’m aware she’s doing this because she loves me and wants me to be happy. I’ll have to make it up to her somehow.
The second part to my two-part plan is the confession. Besides the actual words, there’s another factor to my confession that needs to be perfect… the timing.
Timing means everything in relationships, and timing means everything tonight. I pray that fate is on our side. I hope I’ll have nothing to worry about.
We head towards the lot where our vans are parked, our staff walking close behind us. When we reach the vehicles, we realize they’re decorated with balloons and both Goeun and I are given a cake. We change our clothes and then celebrate a bit more with our staff, our dear friends who support us tirelessly every day.
A short time later, we begin the journey back to Seoul. I instruct my manager to pull our van in reverse, so Goeun’s van could exit first and go in front of us.
It’s better for them to go ahead so we can follow them to the restaurant. I can’t risk them getting lost on the way.
Again, timing is everything tonight.
I rest my head back against my seat, resisting the urge to fidget. I couldn’t feel it earlier with everything going on, but now that things are quiet, I’m feeling some anxiety.
I spend the rest of the drive back just thinking about her.
Kim Goeun, you have no idea what you mean to me…
… but very soon, I’ll get the chance to tell you.
Kim Go Eun’s POV – May 28, 2020
It’s late afternoon and we’re on our way back to Seoul.
Hyungtaek is driving while Hyeyeon brushes my face with setting powder. My other staff, Yohan and Eungi, aren’t in the van. They’re in another car on their way to a different celebration dinner.
“Unnie,” Hyeyeon says as puts away her makeup bag. “You cried a lot today.”
“I know,” I reply with a slight groan. “It just hit me all at once and I couldn’t help it.”
Since my assistant has just repaired all my makeup, I make a conscious effort not to cry again or touch my face. I thought I was all cried out from last night, but considering how many tissues I just went through, it’s obvious that’s not the case.
The problem I have is that I get attached easily. To the characters I play. To the projects I work on… and especially to the people I work with.
It’s hard to explain, but right now it feels like I’ve just lost something.
It always feels like this after a big project. For months we’ve had a similar routine and worked day-to-day with the same people. Then, suddenly, the project is over, and things can never be the same again.
Considering all the past films and dramas I’ve been part of, this shouldn’t be new to me. I should be used to it by now, and ironically, I thought I was.
After Goblin and Cheese in the Trap ended, I was sad… but not this sad.
Maybe if there was a guarantee that Minho-sunbae and I would be fine, then I wouldn’t be so sad.
I know that I made up my mind to confess to him tonight. But if it doesn’t work out, what then? What happens to our friendship and all the memories we made together?
Do I have to say goodbye to that too?
I hate that I’m overthinking so many things. I’m not usually this way.
Hyungtaek clears his throat and snaps me out of my self-pitying reverie. “Nuna, you should really go easier on Actor Lee.”
I let out a surprised laugh. “What do you mean?”
“You should have seen the poor man’s face as you ran around crying your eyes out. He looked so distressed.”
“Hyungtaek-ah, you must have been dreaming. He was laughing with the staff the whole time!”
My manager casts me a look in the rear-view mirror before looking back down at the road. “Do you want to know something that men hate? Men hate seeing their women cry.”
“All right,” I say, seeing the truth in his statement. “Except I’m not Lee Minho’s woman.”
There’s a long pause in the van and I glance at Hyeyeon who has a strange expression on her face. “What is it?”
“He stayed close to you the entire time,” she tells me, raising her eyebrows. “He kept checking to see if you were okay.”
I bite my lip, thinking this over. I was aware of his presence earlier, but I was too lost in my thoughts to notice more than that. “He did?”
“Yes, and look at these flowers,” my assistant adds, as she settles the bouquet he gave me on my lap. “What colour are they?”
“And what colour are your favourite flowers?”
I blink. Then I answer, “Red.”
I am partial to red flowers, especially red roses… which are the main component of the bouquet I’m currently holding. I didn’t pay attention earlier, but from the looks of things, there are twelve roses in here.
“Twelve red roses mean…” I trail off, not wanting to jump to conclusions, even though my heart is already fluttering.
“Love,” my assistant finishes, matter-of-factly. “Unnie, I know you’ve been having a hard time lately. But I think you have nothing to worry about.”
“You want to know what else?” my manager calls out from the driver’s seat. “Today, Actor Lee thanked me for taking care of you and watching out for you. Can you believe that? I’ve been your manager for eight years, it’s my job to do that. For him to go out of his way to tell me this, well… it means you’re special to him.”
I’m silent for a few minutes, just trying to let all this information soak in.
Maybe my initial instinct is correct. Maybe what Hyeyeon and Hyungtaek are saying is true.
Maybe, just maybe…
I lift my eyes to meet Hyeyeon’s. She must have seen my rising panic, so she reaches over to squeeze my hand.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to look at him during dinner,” I confess. “What do I do?”
“You don’t have to do anything. Just be yourself.” Then she picks up her makeup bag again. “Should I touch up your makeup a bit more? Add some blush?”
I usually don’t care for makeup, as I like to let my skin breathe especially after a day of filming. I also enjoy being barefaced, so to me, less is better.
But for the first time in a long time, I remember why some women view makeup as a form of armor.
I’m still feeling a bit raw and fragile at the moment, so I nod my head at Hyeyeon. Maybe some armor won’t be such a bad thing.
I close my eyes as Hyeyeon fusses over my face again. No matter what I do, my mind fixates on thoughts of him and only him. I sigh. Even my brain is my enemy today. This is going to be a long car ride.
Kim Go Eun’s POV – May 28, 2020
When we arrive at the restaurant, it’s seven-thirty in the evening.
Hyungtaek and Hyeyeon can’t join us for dinner and neither can the MYM entertainment staff. They’re joining another filming celebration nearby, so when the restaurant manager escorts us to the private dining room, it’s just Minho-sunbae and I who walk in.
It’s a large well-lit room, with a long rectangular table set for ten people. Extending from the ceiling are long tubular exhaust fans, dangling above the table’s built-in grills. It appears that we’re the last ones to arrive as everyone is there already.
Seated on one side of the table is Jeon Baesoo, the man who played my father in the drama. On his left is Director Baek Sanghoon, then Writer Kim Eunsook, Jung Eunchae, and Kim Yongji. On the opposite side is Lee Jungjin, Kim Kyungnam, Woo Dohwan, and two empty seats.
Everyone cheers as they notice our arrival. Minho-sunbae and I wave and bow and apologize for being late as we make our way to our seats. He takes a seat beside Dohwan and I take the seat beside him, in front of Yongji.
They inform us that they’ve already ordered, servings of Jeju black pork, five-layer pork belly, marinated galbi steaks, and as a treat, hanwoo beef. The servers bring in the banchan dishes along with plates of lettuce and perilla leaves, whole garlic cloves, rice bowls, and dipping sauces.
As I finish telling the server my drink order, Minho-sunbae suddenly gets up from his chair.
“I’ll be back, okay?” I hear him say, and he leaves the room, his phone to his ear.
Strange. I didn’t even hear it ring.
With a shrug, I turn my attention back to the two ladies in front of me. They’re chatting about the new drama Yongji just got casted in.
“Oh, isn’t that the drama with Lee Dongwook-sunbae?” I say, jumping in during a pause in their conversation.
They don’t get to answer because we’re interrupted by Dohwan, who yelps in surprise. “Ahh, I just got ssamjang on my sleeve. I’m going to wash it off.”
As he leaves the room, Yongji leans over and tells me, “Hey, there’s something on your cheek.”
My hand automatically flies to my face. “This? Hyeyeon put some blush on me. Why, does it look strange?”
“No, no, it’s not the blush,” Eunchae-unnie interjects. “It’s like, a black smudge? Maybe some eyeliner?”
“A smudge? Where?” I lean over the table. “Can you rub it off for me?”
They both shake their head. Yongji says, “I think it’s better if you go to the washroom and check. They have a really nice one here. Huge mirrors.”
“Just go out the door and turn left. Walk down the corridor and you’ll see a sign.”
“Great, thanks,” I tell them as I get up and follow their directions. I turn left as instructed and make my way down the corridor. It’s a long hallway and gets much quieter as I walk farther away from the dining area.
In the distance, I see a familiar figure standing right at the foot of a staircase.
That’s strange. He’s just… standing there.
“Hey,” I tease, as I approach him. “What are you doing here? Did you get the ssamjang off your clothes?”
“Yup, all good.” He lifts his sleeve to show me. “Are you heading to the washroom?”
“Yes, apparently there’s something on my face. I was going to check.”
“Nuna,” Dohwan says, a slight awkwardness in his tone of voice. “Uhh… you should take the stairs.”
I look at the stairs and then at the sign posted on the wall. I tilt my head in confusion. “But that sign says the washrooms are that way. I don’t think they’re downstairs. Didn’t you just wash your sleeve?”
He lets out a large sigh and then tries again. “Nuna.”
His eyes widen and he gives me a big pointed look. “There’s nothing on your face. You need to go down those stairs.”
I almost laugh because he’s being so ridiculous.
“Listen to me,” he says, more firmly. “Just go down those stairs and you’ll understand. Okay?”
I nod, deciding to play along. “Okay, I’ll take the stairs. But there better not be a candid-camera set up down there. I’ve reached my limit with the number of cameras filming me today.”
I take the first set of stairs slowly. As I do, everything starts to add up.
Minho-sunbae on his phone.
Dohwan suddenly being clumsy and staining his sleeve.
Eunchae-unnie and Yongji telling me there’s something on my face.
When I turn the corner to go down the second set of stairs, I realize that I’m right. And I realize how dense I’ve been for not noticing sooner.
There he is… standing at the base of the stairs.
To his right is a huge window, encompassing almost the entirety of the wall. And through that window reveals the most beautiful view of the sun setting.
The fading light shines through the windowpanes and glides over him, almost like a halo. Almost like Lee Gon crossing the universe.
Except he’s not Lee Gon.
He’s not wearing an outfit made for a glorious moment.
He’s just Lee Minho, wearing a simple black blazer, white shirt, and denim blue jeans.
Neither is he holding a cluster of blue flowers.
From what I can see, he’s not holding anything at all.
What he does have is the expression on his face and the sincerity in his eyes.
He’s never looked as handsome to me as he does now.
His gaze is so intense that it makes my heart hurt.
He watches as I take a few more steps down and I’m greeted with the warmest, most gentle smile.
“Goeun-ah.” He repeats my name, loud and clear. “Kim Goeun.”
I hold onto the railing, in case my legs give out on me. “Sunbae?”
His smile widens and he walks to the base of the staircase. Only six or seven steps separate us.
With a softer tone of voice, he says, “Come here.”
Those two words trigger a cascade of images to float through my mind. How he looks for me on set. The way he reaches for my hand before I reach for his. How he holds me just a bit longer than the hug requires. The way he teases me just to hear me laugh.
I don’t know how I’ve missed it. I don’t know why I questioned it.
This whole time he’s been showing me how he feels. He’s been patient, he’s been consistent, and most of all, he’s been waiting.
And now he’s asking me to go to him, to take those steps down and meet him halfway.
I refuse to make him wait any longer.
Helplessly, I do what he asks…
I go to him.
1) I think this is the first time I rushed through posting an update. This is mostly unedited so... please forgive me if there are errors anywhere. I'll make more thorough grammar/spelling edits tomorrow.
2) I posted photos of the restaurant and staircase that I sort of pictured in my head. They're not exactly right but it's close enough.
3) Next part will be the end... I might take longer with it so if I don't post it tomorrow, you have been warned! But I will say though that if you like the Korean term 'jamanchu,' then the next part is dedicated to you. It explains why LMH is confessing by a staircase in the first place.
4) Thanks for reading! Don't forget to show me some love! Comment & heart!