“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Lee Minho’s POV – May 28, 2020
My heart is racing as I watch her descend the stairs.
She’s not that far away. Just a few more seconds and she’ll be within reach.
Earlier, as I waited, I tortured myself by second-guessing everything I planned. Would she like it? Was it good enough? Should I have done more?
Looking at her coming towards me, I have to remind myself to breathe.
Get yourself together, I tell myself. Now’s not the time to choke.
I count the steps as she takes them.
Five, four, three.
When her feet hit the second step, I can’t restrain myself any longer.
She’s close enough.
In a swift move, I lean over and wrap my arms firmly around the top of her thighs, lifting her off the staircase.
She squeals, caught off guard, and clutches at my shoulders to keep her balance. Her surprise quickly turns into giggles as I spin her around and carry her towards the wall with the sun-lit window.
“Sunbae!” she protests, her legs dangling off the ground. “Let me down!”
I smirk at her. “Sorry. Don’t feel like it.”
Her cheeks turn a delightful pink and I can tell she’s equally pleased and embarrassed.
“You can’t hold me like this the entire time,” she argues. “What about your injuries?”
She’s referring to the injuries I sustained years ago during a severe car accident. Occasionally, my knee or back gives me trouble and she knows that.
But I’m feeling fine right now.
In fact, I’m enjoying this far too much. And from the way she’s holding on to me, I can tell she’s enjoying this too.
“Don’t worry about me. I can carry you forever.”
She smiles and shakes her head like I’ve lost my mind. “Yah! I’m going to kill you,” she threatens, though without much force.
It’s fun to tease her like this, to just be silly and carefree without other people watching. These moments are rare for us, something we would never dare to do in public.
“Sunbae,” she tries again, a flash of concern on her face. “I’m too heavy.”
“You’re not heavy at all,” I insist, though I reluctantly put her back on the ground. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable.
She escapes from my arms, but to my amazement, she slips her slim hand into mine. I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to let go completely.
I’m not done teasing her yet, so I put on a reprimanding tone. “’Sunbae, sunbae’ you keep calling me. Is this the proper way to speak to your sunbae? By threatening my life?”
She blushes again and it does something to my heart. I can’t even pretend to scold her when she looks this beautiful.
Softer, I say, “Are you ever going to call me ‘oppa’?”
“I already did,” she replies, purposely evasive.
“Through a text message,” I counter. “And just once.”
She looks down at her feet and I sigh. Deciding not to push her further, I tug her hand so our bodies turn and face the view outside the window. The sky is a breathtaking mix of pink, yellow, and orange.
My staff did well at finding this place. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’ll have to speak to my nuna about giving them some sort of pay raise.
We enjoy the sunset for a few minutes, not speaking, and just appreciate how the streaks of light fade into the clouds.
Then I ask her, “Do you like it?”
She wrinkles her nose at that, and I let out a big laugh. “Okay, that was cheesy. I admit it.”
“I do like it,” she says, her face soaking in the magnificent view. “Sunsets are my favourite.”
I knew that Goeun had an affinity for sunsets. We talked about it a few times during filming, and it’s obvious even just by the photos she uploads on her Instagram.
It was this timing that I had planned and hoped for. Sunset falls at a specific time and there’s no room for error. I said earlier that if fate was on our side then everything would be okay. It looks like fate still shines down on us since I was able to give her this.
I succeeded, at least, in this respect.
As for the rest of it, I’m about to find out.
“I thought a lot about this,” I say to her. I reach for her other hand so we’re face-to-face, both our hands paired and clasped. “I thought about flowers too.”
I’m suddenly conscious of how bare our surroundings are. “More flowers,” I continue, my words spilling out in a rush. “A thousand roses or even just flower petals on the stairs. I considered balloons attached here and there on the railings. Or jewelry. A necklace or a bracelet or—
I cut myself off, aware of how nervous I’m sounding. “I’m rambling, aren’t it? The point is, I thought about it a lot. I planned to make a big event, something grand, something worthy of you. But then I realized, it might be too much.”
I pause, not sure how she’ll react.
“I like it,” she replies, her hand squeezing mine, “when things are simple.”
Her words fuel my confidence and I’m gratified that I read her correctly.
She’s the girl who arrives on set barefaced while most actresses already come made up. She’s not fussy about outfit changes and would rather a pair of comfortable shoes over high heels.
She’s the type of person who sees value in the quiet, little things.
Of all people, she would understand this.
For a long time, I’d been trying to find the right words. I thought if I memorized a speech or put together an impressive declaration, she would be more willing to accept me.
But there’s no such thing as the right words. And even if there were, they probably wouldn’t sway her.
All that remains is the truth.
And the truth is this.
“I know you like things simple,” I say to her. “So here I am. No flowers, no balloons, no jewelry. I thought about all the things I could give you, but in the end, it’s just me. The man who wants to make you happy.”
I reach over to cradle her face in my palm, running a thumb across the curve of her cheek.
I hope she understands what I’m telling her.
I’m not Lee Gon, the King who crossed a universe to find his true love.
I’m not the actor with the fancy clothes, the bright lights, or cool sounding lines.
What I’m offering isn’t my fame, my money, or even my looks.
All I have to give her is my heart.
It’s just me… Lee Minho.
After eight months of holding back, the words I’ve closely guarded finally leave my lips.
“Kim Goeun, I’ve fallen for you.”
Kim Goeun’s POV
“I’ve fallen for you,” he confesses.
His words are so gentle, so sincere.
And his face… Oh, God, how do I even describe it? I’ve never seen him look at me the way he is right now. Vulnerable and hopeful, like I could destroy him at any moment.
My chest feels tight like it wants to explode, his confession sending frissons up and down my body.
I expected this, but I also never realized it could feel like this.
Is it possible to like someone so much that everything hurts inside?
Every instinct in my body tells me to hug him, to kiss him…but he’s not done yet.
He moves even closer, the gap between us disappearing. Looking deep into my eyes, he says, “I like you, Kim Goeun. I've liked you since the first day we met. And today, I really hated seeing you cry.”
Ironically, hearing him say this dismantles my self-control and my eyes begin welling up with fresh tears.
"Hey," he whispers, seeing the burst of emotion overtaking me. “Don’t cry.” With a slight tilt of his head, he teases, "I'll kiss you if you cry."
I let out a small laugh, which causes the tears I was holding back to roll down my cheeks.
I’m such a mess. I can’t seem to stop crying today.
Minho-sunbae wipes the wetness off my face, brushing them away in light strokes. Then he brings one hand around to grasp the back of my head, his fingers sliding through my hair. "I warned you," he says, smiling, before bending down to capture my lips in a tender kiss.
Soft, gentle glides.
Warm, wet, and undeniably sweet.
When Lee Minho kisses, he kisses like he means it.
I wrap my arms around his neck and his other hand slides down to tighten around my waist. Our kiss deepens until we're both breathless.
Moments later, we pull back and our foreheads touch.
"I have two questions for you," he murmurs, staring at my reddened lips before meeting my gaze. "One. Does this mean you like me too?”
“Yes,” I say to him, and his face widens into the happiest grin. It mirrors the one on mine.
"Two. Will you be my girlfriend?"
I giggle at that question. "Isn't that obvious?"
He shakes his head and says, "With you, nothing is obvious."
We hold and stare each other a few beats longer, almost in disbelief that this is really happening. Then helplessly, we’re drawn together once more, our lips meeting in another kiss.
A glorious, heart-stopping kiss, one that lasts longer than the first.
When we finally break free from each other, he sighs and reluctantly lets me go. Our limbs untangle, though our hands stay locked, our fingers intertwined.
“This place is unbelievable,” I tell him, surprised that a building like this could be hiding such a beautiful view.
“I drove my staff crazy with this request. They went all around Seoul to find a staircase that had a view of the sunset. Thankfully, they got help from production staff who had experience looking for filming locations. In the end, it was probably easier if I asked them to prepare a thousand roses or balloons.”
He looks sheepish as he adds, “I feel sorry and thankful to them. They really worked hard.”
“Buy them something nice, something they want. Especially because,” I raise our joined hands in the air, “they helped make this happen.”
Sunset and staircases. I’ve never heard of anyone confessing like this.
Even without the added frills, it’s still very Lee Minho of him.
Just then, a mischievous thought enters my mind.
Feigning confusion, I blink up at Minho-sunbae and say, “Wait. I don’t understand. The sunset makes sense, but why confess on a stairwell?”
He looks so surprised to hear me ask this, that I almost laugh aloud. His words come out slow and drawn out. “Because… of the way we met.”
“At the BIFA Awards ceremony?”
“No, we only saw each other from a distance then. We were never introduced, you know that.”
I furrow my eyebrows, keeping my tone innocent. “We met in Writer Kim Eunsook’s office?”
“No, we didn’t,” he says, appearing dismayed. “Waah. Look you at you. This whole time I thought you would remember, but maybe it wasn’t as special to you as it was to me?”
I burst out laughing.
It takes him a minute, but when he realizes I’m teasing, he begins to laugh too.
It’s true. We didn’t meet in Writer Kim’s office.
The first time we met was outside the office, on a building stairwell similar to the one we’re standing in.
Minus the view, of course.
It was mid-morning on a warm August day, and I was running late. Due to my filming schedule for the musical film, Hero, I wouldn’t be able to attend the official cast and crew script reading in September. To accommodate me, they had set up an earlier, unofficial table reading with Writer Kim, Director Baek, and him… Lee Minho.
There was a lot of traffic in Seoul that day, so even though Hyungtaek and I had left early, we were still ten minutes behind.
I rushed through those building doors, just in time to see the elevator doors close.
Writer Kim’s office was on the third floor, so I headed for the exit sign, where it pointed to the building stairwell.
Don’t get me wrong, taking the stairs isn’t my favourite thing to do, but at the time, I felt terrible. The appointment was created for my sake and I was late. The least I could do was try and get there as quickly as possible.
That day, I wasn’t the only one with the idea of taking the stairs. I spotted a tall, broad shouldered figure walking up ahead of me.
If I followed him up the steps without introducing myself, that would have been strange. So I mustered up my courage and took the stairs two by two in an effort to catch up to him.
“Excuse me,” I called out, slightly out of breath. I waved when he swiveled his head to look in my direction. “Sunbaenim!”
When I got close enough, I bowed in greeting and introduced myself. “Hello, my name is Kim Goeun.”
He bowed back. “Hello, I’m Lee Minho.”
Then he examined me, his eyes curious as they flickered from my beige cap to my blouse and jeans and back up to my face.
“Sunbaenim, why are you taking the stairs?” I asked.
“I missed the elevator earlier,” he answered, “so I figured I’d take the stairs. And you, Goeun-ssi?”
“Same reason.” It was humid outside but even more so on the stairwell. I felt a trickle of sweat on the back of my neck.
I laughed and gathered my hair into one hand, fluffing it gently to fan the back of my head. “It’s really hot in here, shall we keep going?”
He laughed too, a deep warm laugh that echoed throughout the enclosed space. “I don’t know why I thought this was such a good idea. I was regretting it until you showed up.”
He flashed me a grin and my heart fluttered. That moment reminded me of my huge crush on his character, Kim Tan, so to make conversation, I mentioned it.
“I don’t know if I should tell you this,” I said to him, as we ascended the stairs side by side, “but I’m a huge fan of yours, sunbae. Of Kim Tan.”
“I’m a fan of yours too,” he replied, adjusting his stride so it matched mine. “I enjoyed your character in Chinatown. And Ji Euntak, of course.”
“Can you imagine if Ji Euntak and Kim Tan ever met?” I mused. “What do you think would have happened?”
He paused as he considered the question. “Tan wouldn’t know what to do with her at first. But later on, it’d be simple. He’d fall in love with her.”
“I think she would drive him crazy with her aegyo.”
He shook his head at that. “No, I don’t think so. I think he’d love her aegyo.”
“Absolutely,” he said. Then he smirked. “She’d probably have Choi Youngdo wrapped around her finger too.”
I should have realized it then, should have recognized it by how smoothly our conversation was flowing. Maybe it was due to our being close in age, or perhaps it was due to his easy-going personality.
Whatever the case, our interaction was comfortable from start.
It was rare, and out of the norm.
We reached the second floor and only had one flight of stairs left. We continued talking as we walked.
“Lee Bona would hate Ji Euntak though,” I said, referring to Krystal’s character in Heirs.
“Oh, that one I agree with. Bona won’t like anyone cuter than herself.” Perhaps the topic interested him because he threw out a comparison of his own. “Between Kim Shin and Kim Tan, who do you think would win?”
“Kim Shin, of course,” I replied immediately. “He’s the Goblin.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you answering as Ji Euntak or as yourself?”
“As Ji Euntak.”
“Then as yourself, who would win between Kim Shin and Kim Tan?”
I laughed. “Kim Shin.”
“Still?” He looked dismayed at hearing my answer.
“Of course. He’s the Goblin.”
Starting to get competitive, he said, “Between Kim Shin and Lee Gon, who would win?”
“Seriously?” The expression on Minho-sunbae’s face was comical. “Why? Lee Gon is a King.”
“I don’t know Lee Gon yet,” I said, with a shrug. “I only know Kim Shin. So by default he wins. Ask me again after our drama’s over. Maybe I’ll change my mind.”
It was at this point in our conversation that we reached the third floor.
Then it dawned on me how late we were and when I mentioned it to Minho-sunbae, we both exchanged looks of panic.
We ran the rest of the way to the office and bowed and apologized profusely to Writer Kim when we arrived. She waved it off with a strange, knowing smile on her face.
That day, during a break in the script reading, Minho-sunbae whispered to me, “The Grim Reaper and Lee Gon.”
“The Grim Reaper,” I whispered back.
When he looked disappointed, I added, “I told you, I don’t know Lee Gon yet!”
We werent aware of it then, but we had already created our own little world.
Our first meeting was supposed to be planned. Scheduled. Pre-determined.
Most first meetings are a little awkward, perhaps even uncomfortable.
But it didn’t happen that way.
Our true first meeting was casual, natural, and spontaneous.
It was jamanchu at its finest.
Now in the present, and as we stand here on the staircase together, I realize even more how meaningful his confession is.
It brings back all the warm feelings I had during our first meeting, coupled with everything else that had happened between us since then.
I know just the right thing to say to him.
“Lee Gon wins,” I announce to Minho-sunbae. “Between Kim Shin, the Grim Reaper, and Lee Gon. Lee Gon wins.”
His eyes twinkle at hearing my words. “As Ji Euntak or as yourself?”
“Because Ji Euntak is a character I played. She’s a part of me.” I give him the warmest smile I can. “And every part of me likes every part of you.”
My words stun him, and he looks like he’s about to kiss me again, but I move away before he can attempt it.
As much as I wanted us to stay in our little world, it was time to go back to reality.
I’m sure everyone was looking for us by now.
Plus, I'm getting hungry.
Feeling playful, I take the stairs two steps at a time so I'm ahead of Minho-sunbae. Then another thought crosses my mind. I stop on the middle step and turn around to face him, using the stairs to give myself height so I can look at him at eye level.
"Be careful," he warns, as he grabs my arm and steadies me on the stairs.
"Did you know? I was planning to confess to you tonight, except you beat me to it."
I watch as several emotions flash across his face. Surprise, confusion, disbelief. Then it settles on wonder. "You… were
going to confess to me?"
I nod and he repeats himself as the idea sinks in.
"Goeun-ah,” he says, slowly. “I think we need to do this over again."
I try to hold back my amusement.
He’s looking at me funny, like today’s his birthday and I’d just stolen his birthday cake.
“Didn’t you just hear what I said? ‘Every part of me likes every part of you.’ That’s pretty much a confession, you know.”
“No, it’s not,” he asserts. “Not really. Let’s start this over again, okay?”
I have a feeling he’s going to keep sulking about it so I walk swiftly up the steps so he can't grab at me.
I'm laughing as I do so, listening to him call out to me.
"Goeun-ah! Yah, Kim Goeun! Come down the stairs, I said we need to do this over again. And by the way, you still haven’t called me ‘oppa!’"
My giggles echo through the stairway as my boyfriend, as Minho-oppa chases after me, his laughter eventually joining mine.
And that’s how it all began for us.
The day Lee Gon and Jeong Taeeul walked off into the sunset, so did we…
Lee Minho and Kim Goeun.
The day we ended filming became the day we chose each other.
The day we chose to love.
Let me tell you, that day… is such a good day.
1) YAY – we did it fam! We made it to the end. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s by no means perfect, but in some way, I hope reading this made you smile.
2) If you ask me when I think LMH confessed his feelings to KGE, I truly believe he did it as soon as possible after filming. As for why, in FFY, he confessed in the location that he did, it’s because, one day, I had this random mental image of the two of them kissing in a stairwell. Seriously—that’s the only reason LOL. Then I added the sunset bit, because, you know… it still had to be romantic somehow. Even though the chances of finding a stairwell with a sunset-lit window in the middle of Gangnam is highly unlikely…. That’s where my version of their love confessions took place.
3) Although FFY is officially completed, I am still planning one additional side shot inspired by Dancing Universe. @muchlovekiwi – Girl, that one’s dedicated to you! But also dedicated to my MinEun fam because that day is special to all of us.
4) Will I continue to write more? Possibly. I can’t make promises, but if you send me suggestions, who knows? I might be inspired.
5) AGAIN – Thank you for reading and show me some love! Comment and heart!