He tries to pinpoint when it first started for him but he’s at a loss. Was is the first time he saw her work and was blown away? Or was it when he first met her and found that she was so down to earth? Or was it the first time she laughed at something he said? Or was it when she smiled widely with her cute little nose twitching?
He should have known he would fall for her when she didn’t neatly fit into the box in his head for female co-stars, the sorting criteria was: female acquaintance, personal feelings: neutral, professional feelings: [depends on seniority]. She got her own special drawer right away, the sorting criteria: female acquaintance, personal feelings: awed, professional feelings: awed. Her body of work was amazing – he had seen it all and he was a fan. And she was so damn personable.
Working with her was easy, the rumours were all true, she was kind and caring, and just very easy going and real. The fact that she was able to retain those qualities despite her intense stardom was surprising. He wasn’t used to it. She didn’t filter herself, she made silly faces, she laughed in a way that was real rather than the fake pretty laughter he was used to hearing, and she said what she was feeling. She didn’t complain, worked really hard and just was a breath of fresh air, everyone loved her.
It had to be after the first week of knowing her that he started watching her, noticing little things about her – like how she always twitched and wrinkled her nose when something amused or disgusted her, it was just so endearing. And then he was watching the curve of her nose, and admiring how cute it was, his mind cataloguing how soft the skin of her cheeks looked. A day later he was watching her eyes, noticing that they sparkled with mirth whenever she was happy. He remembered being smitten by the way she laughed, she tried so hard to be professional but burst out into laughter often – sometimes for no reason it seemed – she laughed with her whole body. If he was standing next to her she would grab him while she laughed, if she was standing or sitting further away she would bend and move as she laughed. The sound was so pretty – so real.
And then it seemed like it was his life’s mission to make her laugh – he had never had so much fun on a set before. He acted goofy and she followed, the two of them bursting out into laughter at the smallest things – at nothing most of the times. She always blamed him for smiling first and setting her off, but he had a hard time not smiling when looking at her. And as soon as she laughed he couldn't help but smile and laugh along, most of the times he had no idea why he was laughing but he couldn’t help himself.
He doesn’t understand it at first – he just finds himself smiling and laughing when he’s with her. Everything she does is cute and funny? And she’s just so personable and he never wants their conversations to end, he hangs onto every snippet she gives him, she’s immensely private but what she shares tells him so much about her. She is so caring, towards everyone, even him and she can manage to improve his mood even when he’s tired from a long day.
He only realizes he’s different with her when his staff start shooting him weird looks, he had been holding her hand and laughing the first time he noticed them looking, their faces all shocked. And then it clicked. He was falling for her. He had looked back down at her, she was holding his hands, a soft smile on her face as she peered up at him, her eyes shining. And his heart fluttered. In a way it never had before.
From that moment on, he gravitated towards like a moth to a flame. His team never said anything but they always seemed to point him in the right direction to find her. He asks her questions, and she replies. His stomach gets butterflies every time they have a slightly intimate scene together, he feels like a teenage boy with his first crush. He’s usually really good with separating reel from real but with her, he can’t seem to. Every hug, every touch, every kiss drives him insane. He finds himself messing up on purpose when he wants to hold her just a bit longer…he is sure she notices because she gives him this look, her eyes piercing, her face blank when he does it, but she doesn’t say anything.
And then she hugs him, not as Jeong Tae-Eul but as herself, it had been a long day at work and the group decided to grab drinks together, she hugs him goodbye and he lays awake all night thinking about it. It plays in his head, over and over again and he swears that he can still feel her arms around him, he can smell her perfume – Chanel No. 5, a classic like her – the soft and sweet smell that he’s pulled towards. He can’t get her out of her mind then, he is constantly with her, or thinking about her when they’re not together. He has daydreams about her – about what it would be like to admit his feelings for her. And he starts wondering if she feels anything remotely similar.
So he turns to YouTube, watching videos of her interviews and behind the scenes videos of her interacting with other starts. Sometimes he’s happy because the smile she gives him is much more radiant. But sometimes they put him in a horrible mood, she laughs with everyone. So he watches her closely to pick up the signs, but she’s private, she’s quiet, she’s a closed book. But the more he watches her, the more he realizes that he likes looking at her, more than he likes looking at anyone. It’s like she’s in ultra HD and everyone around her is in 360p, he can pick her out from anywhere. And he wants to just watch her all the time, every moment with her makes him just want more – he’s never been like this before, even with women he’s dated in the past, he always needed a little time away from them but with her – he wants to attach himself to her and never leave.
Then he starts wondering what he can do to keep her around, he courts her in his own little way, he suspects she's catching on because she blushes and looks at him in a new way. He brings her food, all the little things she’s admitted to loving – he sends his team running here and there to get a specific brand of chocolate she’s mentioned. One time he overhears her complaining about her favourite little wallet breaking – a quilted Chanel one with a broken clasp – so he cheekily gets her a Louis Vuitton one while bragging that they’re more durable. He loves it when she gets riled up and tells him exactly what she thinks, and then he teases her about being such a good brand ambassador and she stomps away with a glare. He is smitten beyond words and he knows it shows all over his face.
The first person to comment on it is his own mother, she looks at him with a knowing smile. He doesn’t even realize that she knows but as she hugs him goodbye and tells him to take care of her he realizes that he’s spent the whole time just talking about her. And outside his mother’s door is when he realizes that he’s in love with her – he almost trips over the pavement as the realization hits him and fills him up. But he can’t figure out the exact moment he fell for her, it seemed like he was in the middle of it before he even knew it was happening.
All he knows is that he wants her to be his home, he doesn’t want to be without her, he wants to go home to her.