Goodbye – Chapter 4

Throngs of fans queued outside the theater waiting to enter the venue for Taeyeon’s mini concert. It had been Taeyeon’s dream to hold a concern in a small theatre where she could get closer to her fans. Finally the day had arrived. She had been preparing very hard for this concert and was feeling stressed.

Jessica walked past the singer’s changing room and saw the singer sitting alone in the room, facing the large mirror. Taeyeon’s brows were tightly knitted as she read the schedule for the night’s mini concert. It was apparent that the singer was feeling nervous before her concert.

Taeyeon saw Jessica standing behind her in the reflection of the mirror and the knots on her brows disappeared gradually.

“You look very beautiful in this white dress,” Jessica praised, resting her hands on Taeyeon’s shoulders.

“You look good in anything,” Taeyeon beamed, touching Jessica’s hand. The touch made Taeyeon’s heart beat faster, not because of nervousness but of love.

“Tonight the spotlight is on you, not me. I’m just a tiny segment in your concert tonight.”

“A tiny but extremely vital part of my concert. Thank you for agreeing to join me on stage.”

“It’s no big deal.”

“How about a good luck kiss?” Taeyeon pouted her lips.

“Are you crazy? Here? Now?” Jessica hissed.

“There’s no one around,” Taeyeon whispered, eyes darting around the small room. She blinked twice, pulled her puppy-eyes trick in order to get Jessica to agree.

Jessica relented upon seeing Taeyeon’s face. She bent down and kissed Taeyeon lightly on her cheek.

Jessica’s lips brushed against Taeyeon’s ears as she moved away. “Hwaiting, Taeyeon ah.”

Taeyeon grinned from ear to ear and her heart was filled with joy. “Sooyeon ah, I’ll definitely do my best.”

“Taeyeon unnie, I’m your biggest fan!” Jessica squealed in an aegyo-laden voice, assuming the voice of the fangirl who sent in her dedication to DJ Sunny’s radio segment. That cute phrase caused Taeyeon to curl her fingers and squirm. Both of them broke into a hearty laugh, temporarily forgetting the anxiety that was present earlier.

The concert started on time. Taeyeon belted out song after song, from her debut album to the latest mini album. Holding this intimate concert with fans in a small theater was a dream come true for the singer. Fans were cheering and singing along, happy to see the singer up close. Between songs, Taeyeon stopped to chat with fans, engaging them with topics about her love for music, fashion and food.

As a finale to the concert, Taeyeon introduced Jessica as a special guest and they performed ‘Like A Star’ on stage together. This was the segment Taeyeon had been looking forward to. They had been practising frequently and it gave them a valid excuse to meet each other often without arousing the suspicions of anyone.

Since it was the song that Jessica had written for Taeyeon and they sang it at the rooftop of Jessica’s apartment, Taeyeon felt it was most apt and meaningful to share the stage and present the song to her fans.

Jessica sat down at the piano and looked up at Taeyeon, waiting for the singer’s signal to start. Taeyeon flashed a warm smile and nodded her head, letting Jessica know that she was ready.

Fingers danced across the black and white keys and two voices harmonized perfectly on stage. The audience watched in awe of the duet and even Minjoon watched with great admiration like a proud father watching his daughter.

It was a refreshing change to listen to the harmonization of two voices instead of Taeyeon’s emotive solo. Jessica’s clear higher pitched voice blended well with Taeyeon’s soulful and calming voice. The audience loved it and the loud applause at the end of the duet brought the house down. Jessica rose from her seat and joined Taeyeon at the front of the stage. Taeyeon held Jessica’s hand just as the songwriter came to her side. Both of them looked at each other lovingly before turning to the audience and bowing to them. They were thankful the concert went on smoothly and the fans were happy.

As Taeyeon was touching up her make up in the waiting room, fans were chanting ‘Encore’ in the hope that the singer would appear on stage again to sing a few songs. Actually, the encore portion had been planned in the schedule. Taeyeon was elated to know that the fans wanted to hear more of her. She quickly changed into a casual tee and jeans, slipped on a jacket and emerged onto the stage once again.

Jessica joined Minjoon at the first row of VIP seats among the audience while waiting for Taeyeon’s encore. Minjoon congratulated her on the wonderful performance earlier on. He praised her for their good chemistry on stage. Jessica could only blush and accept the compliments gratefully.

When the singer reappeared on stage, the crowd went wild and cheered very loudly. Taeyeon wore a bright smile on her face and she quickly scanned the crowd for a particular someone. When she caught sight of Jessica, Taeyeon shot Jessica a wink and made a ‘bang’ gesture with her hand. Since Jessica was sitting among the audience, it would appear that Taeyeon was randomly giving fan service to her fans. Truthfully, it was Taeyeon’s signal to Jessica to take note of the song she was going to sing as it was her special dedication to the songwriter.

Taeyeon’s lips curled up in a wide smile as she brought the microphone to her mouth.

When people say that you get prettier when you’re in love-
I guess that’s really true
I’m always smiling for no reason and without knowing, I resemble you
It’s definitely weird

Soft but sometimes thick and clear and slightly bright
I love you My J, My My J My J, I love you
With me

Jessica couldn’t hide her happiness when she listened to the lyrics of the song. She covered her mouth with her hands, surprised by the song Taeyeon sang for her.

My J My J Saranghaeyo

During the chorus of the song, Taeyeon held a five second eye contact with Jessica, making the latter melt into a puddle. It was a song that expressed Taeyeon’s feelings for her and it was the only way she could do it in public without being too obvious about their relationship.

However, little did they realised that someone was feeling uncomfortable among this subtle display of love.

~*~*~*~

“Taeyeon, it has been a while since we last had a peaceful lunch like this,” Minjoon commented. The two of them were eating lunch at a ramen store in a quiet district. It was mid-afternoon and there were only two other people eating at the store.

“Yes, I miss eating with you Minjoon oppa. Eating at a relaxed pace without having to wolf down my meals from bento boxes, this is so peaceful. I’m so happy the album promotions have ended.”

“This is such a successful album. The company’s very happy with the results. Thank you for the effort, Taeyeon ah.”

“The effort’s not only mine, Minjoon oppa. You and the rest of them also put in alot of effort, including Jessica.” At the mention of Jessica’s name, Taeyeon wouldn’t stop the smile from appearing on her face.

“Jessica. The two of you are very close.”

Taeyeon chuckled. “Ya, we get along very well. We have alot of things in common and we share the similar tastes in music too! She likes eating ice cream too. Once, we had an ice cream competition to see who could finish the tub of ice cream the fastest. I ended up with a stomachache from eating too much!”

Minjoon frowned a little. “It sounds like fun but always remember you’re a singer and you need to take care of your health.”

“Yes Minjoon oppa. It was only once! I’ll take care of my health, don’t worry!”

As they were chatting through lunch, Minjoon noticed Jessica’s name kept coming up in Taeyeon’s conversation. He was concerned that it wasn’t just a normal platonic relationship the pair was sharing. During their conversation, he hinted against being in a relationship at this stage of her career. He was certain Taeyeon got the hints but she was trying to change topics whenever Minjoon brought up the matter.

Taeyeon continued to meet Jessica though the frequency of their dates had decreased because Taeyeon’s schedule was quite packed. She was involved in the recording of another OST and had to shoot a commercial for a cosmetic brand. Her popularity was rising and it was inevitable that she had little free time. They kept in contact mostly via phone calls or Kakao chats.

One afternoon, Taeyeon had a photoshoot near a temple. After the photoshoot, she asked Minjoon for some free time to roam around the surroundings and to admire the architecture of the temple. Minjoon agreed and he allowed the singer to go off on her own before returning to the car at the stipulated time.

Taeyeon took a slow walk up the steps leading to the temple and wandered around freely. There were some devotees offering prayers and she followed suit. Among the many things Taeyeon prayed for, Jessica was one of the first few things the singer mentioned.

When walking to the back of the temple, Taeyeon noticed a huge tree with numerous yellow notes hanging from its branches. Upon closer inspection, Taeyeon realised those were handwritten notes and that it was a wishing tree. There was a small table next to the tree and it had a pen, a stack of blank yellow paper and strings. Picking up the pen, Taeyeon decided to write her wish on the yellow note and tie it to the tree. She wrote each word with her heart and soul, silently muttering a prayer before she tied the note to a branch on the tree. Taking a last look at her note, Taeyeon turned around and walked away, wondering when her wish would come true.

~*~*~*~

A week later, Minjoon brought Taeyeon into a separate meeting room in the company after Taeyeon’s schedule was done. He wanted to speak to her privately. Taeyeon saw her manager’s dark face and wondered if something had happened.

Once the door was closed and privacy was ensured, Minjoon took out a stack of photos from a brown envelope and laid them on the table. It was photographs of Taeyeon and Jessica taken near Jessica’s house and at a restaurant which the couple went for a late night supper. Most of the photos were quite blurry as they were taken late at night but in some of the photos, their faces quite relatively clear. They were seen holding hands and often hanging out at Jessica’s home.

Taeyeon gasped, covering her mouth with her hands.

Minjoon let out a long sigh, his fear was confirmed. “I guessed as much when I see you behaving differently whenever you’re with her. The song at the end of your concert, it was meant for her right? When did it start?”

“It happened a few days before Jessica submitted the title song ‘Like A Star’ for my new album,” Taeyeon admitted.

Minjoon’s eyebrows were knotted in the middle. “Taeyeon, I’ve warned you about this. This reporter is threatening to publish these photos online and we managed to stop them. I can’t imagine how the top management would react when they see these photos.

Taeyeon remained silent for a while, biting her lips. “Oppa, I love her.”

Minjoon pursed his lips. “Taeyeon ah, I know you’re old enough to date and I can’t interfere too much into your personal life but do remember that you’re a singer, a public figure. As a public figure, you need to be more mindful of your speech and actions. You’re a rising star and your popularity lies in the hands of fans. Moreover, Jessica’s a girl and it wouldn’t be widely accepted by fans.”

Now it was Taeyeon’s turn to sigh. She clenched her fists and slammed them on the table. “Celebrity, idol, public figure, bleh! Why can’t we have the freedom to date like the people on the streets? What makes us so special compared to them? We’re also humans.”

“Taeyeon, you should know very well what you’re getting into when you signed up for this job. It’s something very special and different from other occupations. That’s the price to pay for being a celebrity,” Minjoon said firmly, glaring straight at the singer.

“Oppa, I know. It is just…unfair…” Tears started streaming down the singer’s face and she buried her face in her hands.

“Life is never fair, Taeyeon.”

Minjoon folded his arms across his chest. “You wouldn’t want to jeopardise the career you built over the past few years. The company had invested a lot of money on training and grooming you. Always remember the hard work and stress you went through. Remember how badly you wanted to become a singer when you first joined the company in primary school? It is your dream to share your beautiful voice with everyone. Is it worth to lose your dream over a relationship at this point in time?”

Minjoon’s words felt like a knife that went through Taeyeon’s heart. It was the painful truth delivered in a tactful manner. Taeyeon shook her head sadly.

“I would advise you stop seeing Jessica for the moment. We can’t afford to let this news break as it would affect your popularity for sure. I’m sure the management wouldn’t like to read about your dating news in the papers,” Minjoon said sternly.

“Sorry, Minjoon oppa, sorry,” Taeyeon sobbed.

For the next few days, Taeyeon avoided meeting Jessica. There was a heavy feeling in her heart and she didn’t know how to deal with it. On one hand, she missed seeing and hanging out with the songwriter. On other hand, she knew that her career would be at stake and she would definitely lose her fans, most if not, all. She was still young and had a long way to do. Plus, Minjoon was monitoring Taeyeon’s activities closely and didn’t allow her to go out at night. Taeyeon felt restrained but she knew she didn’t have a choice.

Jessica suspected something was amiss when she spoke to the singer over the phone. Taeyeon often sounded tired and gave random excuses to cut the phone call short. Jessica was puzzled by Taeyeon’s behaviour. She wondered if something had happened but she was unable to dig the truth from Taeyeon.

By chance, Jessica bumped into Taeyeon at the company. Taeyeon wanted very much to throw herself into Jessica’s arms but she knew she couldn’t. She merely smiled and gave a quick pat on Jessica’s arm before she was escorted by Minjoon into the vocal training room. Judging from Minjoon’s expression as he passed her, Jessica had a gut feeling Taeyeon’s sudden change of mood had something to do with her.

 

A/N: Song featured in the Encore is Girls’ Generation – My J Audio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzHqygzLHcM

Picture credit : godspeller369

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