"Merry Christmas!"I smiled as Mr. Kwon opened the front door.
"Young master! But...how...aren't you supposed to be in Seoul right now?"he said, shocked to see me in front of him after I called him earlier, telling him I couldn't make it. "How about your fellow members?"
"SEUNG HO! C'MON MAN! THIS AIN'T FUNNY! IT'S COLD HERE!"yelled someone from behind me, making me grin.
"Oh, don't worry, ahjusshi!"I smiled. "They are here as well. Guys, this way! How can you lose your way when the house is only 100m away from here we parked the car?"I moked them as they entered one by one in my old house.
G.O. glared at me, but kept his mouth shut. Good! 'Coz I was in the mood to start a word-fight and there was no way he could ever win over me!
"Young master, I didn't prepare a thing for the Christmas dinner,"I heard Mr. Kwon whisper as he looked with worried eyes at the four guys.
I smiled. "Don't worry! We brought everything we need and Byung Hee eomma here, will cook,"I said, pulling G.O. closer.
"What am I now? Your personal cook?"he hissed back, while keeping a forced smile.
"Yeah!"I grined back. "Come! Let's leave the bags in the kitchen. Then I'll show you the house."
They followed me around the villa, as I opened each and every single door, bringing out long forgotten perfumes and memories. My whole being was shivering as the past embraced me. Dusty and yellowed pages of my life were shown to my members. I wanted them to get to know me a little more. To know the place where my heart was getting a little rest. That was the place where I could be me without being afraid of being seen as weak...
"Hyung, I never knew you had a house,"said Mir while we were helping G.O. in the kitchen. "But if I think a little about it, we don't know that much about you. I mean, about your past."
Everyone looked at me with curiosity as I continued to chop the carrots. Well, Thunder was pretty busy too...
"There's not so much to know about me, Mir,"I finally said, putting down the knife. "I was born in Seoul, but I moved in Anyang when I started kindergarden. I moved here with my parents and had the most beautiful childhood. Here is where I met her,"I continued, answering to their silent question about who was the girl in the photos that were in most of the rooms. "Her name is Mi Rae and she's my childhood friend. And Dongwoon and I met while we were in school. He was her boyfriend,"I frowned, remembering the pain I felt at that time. "What would there be more to say? I was a piano prodigy, but I decided to become a singer and I moved to Seoul. And here I am,"I awkwardly laughed.
They resumed their activities.
"But why haven't you mentioned her until now?"I heard G.O. asking while he stired in a pan.
I took a deep breath. "Because after she moved to USA, I had an accident. After that I no longer remembered her,"I answered with a bitter smile.
"And how did you remember her?"
"It began to come back to me in flashes after I returned home. After my mom died. You see, this house, the land that surrounds it and the whole city is full with memories for me. It was impossible not to remember her."
I stopped after hearing sobs.
"Sorry hyung, but this just...like a love story!"exclaimed Joon, whipping his runny nose.
I chuckled. " I know."
"Have you tried to contact her?"
I shook my head. "I can't. I don't know where she is at the moment. But I will find her. No matter what..."
"Wow...my Seung Ho has finally grown up,"said G.O. putting his hand on my shoulder. "I'm soooo proud of my son!"
"Who's your son?! YAH!!!"I started running after him around the kitchen as the others began laughing. "Come here when I tell you! Byung Hee, when I catch you...YOU'LL BE DEAD MEAT!!!"
"Hi there, red tree,"I smiled finally getting to him through the cold snow. "How have you been?"
I looked up to see his empty branches swinging in the wind. It was improper to call him 'red tree' at this time of the year. But even so, he would always be my red tree. Our red tree. The protector of our dreams and childhood memories.
"You know, I'm really glad that at this end of the year I can say 'Thank you!' to you. Thank you for always being there when we were sad and feeling empty, thank you for protecting our secrets and for keeping us safe and sound from the rest of the world. But what I'm most greatful for it's for giving us the chance to meet. Thank you, red tree, for letting me meet Mi Rae,"I said, taking a bow in front of him. "Happy New Year! Please help me fulfil my dream,"I added while tying a white ribbon to one of his lower branches. "You're the only link I have with her, so please help me. I need her. I miss her. I...love her..."
And with this last few words I left the tree behind, preparing myself to return to Seoul where our comeback was waiting.
"Dear God, please fulfil this siner's wish and bring her back once again to me. I promise to love her right this time."
I checked the comments that were on our official YouTube page. Our MV was quite popular and most of the fans were leaving cheerful comments.
"Why are you frowning?"asked Thunder, sitting next to me on the couch.
"I don't get those who disliked the MV. What's there to be disliked? We worked so hard for the track AND the choreography!"
Thunder laughed and pushed me gently. "You're getting greedy now, leader!"
"No, I'm not! I'm just expressiong my frustrasion!"I grined. "By the way, where are the others?"
"Oh, they are looking,"he answered mysteriously.
"Looking?"I threw him a confused look. "At what?"
"Or after what, better said,"he laughed. "After you told them your story and the hints that she left for you, they are hunting down every single man that wears a red vest!"
I shook my head. They were really, really...well, they were trying their best to help me!
"I'm tired! Let's head back to the dorm. Call them in or I'll leave them here,"I smiled, standing.
He just nodded. 30 minutes later we were already at our dorm.
I took a shower to relax my muscles. The 'It's War' choreography gave me some big bruises on my feet. Plus, my back was killing me lately!
"You're getting old, Seung Ho,"I adressed to the fogged mirror that disclosed my half naked image.
I opened the bathrooms door and the steam went out, making me shiver a little as the dry air of the room wrapped around me. Grabbing a pair of sweat pants from the closet I turned around, only to hit my foot on the chair that was standing in the middle of the room. Jumping on one leg, I spun around and hit my head on the closet, ending up on the floor.
"What...who put this here?"I mumbled, pushing the chair back to his place. "My toe..."
I stood and as I got dressed, I noticed the teddy bear that fell from inside the closet.
"Baba, sorry for keeping you in there,"I said, while picking it up.
I caressed the old stuffed toy. His red vest was still soft and clean despite the years that passed. I smiled. "Do you ever change your clothes, Baba?"I laughed at the teddy bear. "I don't think I ever saw you without this vest on you. Do you like it that much, this red vest of yours?"I giggled while touching the soft velour.
My teddy bear had always beed wearing that vest. Always. Since the day my mother sew it and dressed my favourite toy, it never left it.
"Wait a second,"I gasped. It couldn't be! Right?
With shaking hands, I undressed the teddy bear. And there it was, Mi Rae's messege, embroidered with golden on the inside out.
"When you win the first place after reading this, please look for me In New York. I shall work hard till then to make you proud. I will keep my promise list and fulfil every single one of them.
And Seung Ho, I LOVE YOU!"
I felt a warm tear going down on my cheek.
"Mi Rae, wait for me. A little longer. I'll come for you. And then I'll tell my feelings to the whole world..."
10 days later
26h of January 2012
"And the final battle sets betwin T-ara, Teen Top and MBlaq,"announced the MC.
Ok! Now my knees were shaking! Please, please let us win! Please!
"The votes are being counted...and...tonight's winner is...."
C'mon! C'mon! C'mon!
"...MBlaq with 'It's War'! Congratulations!"
Our track began playing on the background, but the sound of my heart beats were louder than it. My eyes were getting really teary. Finally...I was finally going...I was finally going to meet her!