He gives her a minomi doll and a dozen red roses and asks her what’s wrong as he pats her head.
He doesn’t really like doing it to any woman to avoid giving the wrong signal but it’s different with her. He can’t help it as much as he tries to. Somehow, his hands just can’t stop reaching out to her; to hold her hand when they’re being playful on set, to rub her back subtly after a challenging scene, or to brush her hair when she's being adorable.
She shakes her head and turns away from him as she sobs. Her eyes are all puffy with all the goodbyes being said and he still thinks she’s the most beautiful person in this universe and all the parallel ones if they even exist.
They all raise their glasses at the wrap-up party and she lets herself loose on probably the last day of seeing him.
She finds herself giggling with YongJi and bumping fists with DoHwan and KyungNam. She takes lots of selfies with EunChae unnie because she doesn't know when they will meet again. She doesn't really let her mind wonder about him because she has to put the walls back up, cut her hair and forget all about Tae Eul, including the man who played Lee Gon who she knows will be just the Sunbae who comes and goes.
Except DoHwan says something funny and her head automatically searches for him, wondering if he's laughing too.
He leans against the counter with a glass of champagne in his hand, just watching everyone have fun. Or maybe just her because he really doesn't know what the others are doing and everything else is a blur. All he knows is the way her eyes shine, the way her cheeks blush because of the alcohol, and the way her her lips purse into the smile that he knows he will miss the most.
He lets himself out of the restaurant's balcony to get some air. The King has been his comeback project and although he did have fun working on it, he knows it's time to move on to the next ones.
Min Ho recalls everything that has happened since the first meetings up until the last day of shooting. He smiles suddenly, telling his self that maybe he'll keep DoHwan around because he finds they have a lot in common and the lad amuses him to no end.
He turns his head and smiles at her. She walks towards the railings and rests her elbows on it, eyes on the open parking below.
"It's cold out here." she mumbles and she can feel him turning to her. He starts pulling his jacket off but she stops him, putting it back on his shoulders.
He frowns but doesn't do anything more. "I can only imagine the headlines tomorrow about how ungentlemanly of me for not giving you my jacket. If there area cameras out there, I will totally blame you."
"If there are cameras out there, I wouldn't want to be seen with you out here." she states matter-of-factly, looking at him and smiling faintly.
He looks at her like it's the most painful thing he has ever heard.
"Headline will be: Kim Go Eun, mobbed to death by Lee Min Ho's fans." she states dramatically.
He chuckles and pretends he doesn't want to ruffle her hair. She hugs herself and he quickly slides the jacket off and just hands it to her even though he wants to be the one to drape it around her. "Just please take the jacket."
"Then you'll be cold."
"I'll be okay."
She gives him a shy smile not knowing what to say next. The wind suddenly blows and she finds herself brushing a strand of her hair off her face.
"You look beautiful." he blurts out suddenly.
She flushes, not expecting the compliment, and looks away from him. "Thanks, sunbae."
"No." he murmurs. "I want to keep looking at you."
And suddenly, his fingertips are tracing her cheek and she finally glances back at him. Her heart starts pounding against her ribs and she finds herself looking into his eyes. She's seen them and looked into them a thousand times as Tae Eul and thought he is such a great actor because she saw in those pretty eyes how Lee Gon must have loved her character so much.
But why can't she suddenly tell the difference now? Could it be...
She snaps out of her trance and remembers why she looked for him.
"I have a photoshoot tomorrow. That's why I came here. I came to say goodbye." she smiles faintly at him. "I had so much fun working on The King and I'm so glad I got to work with you, Sunbae. I have learned a lot. I hope we see each other again."
And just like Tae Eul, she decides to be brave by wrapping her arms around him.
It catches him off-guard but before she could pull herself away, he wraps his arms around her too. He wants nothing at that moment but to bury his face in her hair and memorize the way she smells. He wonders how there is no one in the world who can fit more perfectly in his arms than her.
"Gon? Let's go?"
They pull away when her manager peeks through the sliding glass door.
She nods at him. "I'll be down in a minute."
Go Eun starts pulling off his jacket but he holds both of her hands because maybe... Maybe it's not only DoWhan he wants to keep in his life. Maybe he wants her too. And he wants her to be more than a friend to him.
"Let's not hope we see each other again." he smiles at her. "I want to see you again so just take the jacket home and return it to me when we meet."
She doesn’t want to think about what he could possibly mean so she just nods and smiles back at him. “See you around, sunbae."
It’s been a week and he finds himself staring at his phone, contemplating if he should wait or just go for it, invite her to coffee, dinner, or something. Anything. Anything to see her again because he’s not ready to let go of her yet and he thinks he never will be.
He plumps into his couch and starts typing and erasing words. He sighs, rubs the top of his nose, furrows his brows, and he thinks Choco thinks he’s lost it because of how she’s looking up at him.
“Stop staring at me like that if you’re not gonna help.”
Choco turns away from him and yes, he thinks he’s lost it too.
Can I have my jacket back?
What have you been up to?
I miss you. A lot.
He erases everything every time he starts typing something. He forgets how hard it is to date because it’s been years since his last relationship and it didn’t really end well.
He sighs in exasperation and leans back into the couch. He opens instagram and carefully types in her username.
He smiles as he starts scrolling further. He’s already seen these pictures before as someone who was curious about his new leading lady. He remembers how he admired how unpretentious she is, showing in her feed that her family and friends are what matters the most to her. He remembers the sunset photos and the movies she likes, her previous projects and leading men.
But now he views them as someone who misses her badly. He can’t get enough of her presence. He realizes even before the drama ended that he wants to see her smile every day, be by her side always.
So without thinking deeply, he dials her number and panics as soon as it rings.
He doesn't know if he should feel relieved or sad because she didn't pick up his call.
"What are you doing to me?"
She opens her eyes to her nephew jumping on her bed who insists she should wake up because it's already past noon and he wants to play with his gomo.
He peppers her with kisses, looping his tiny arms around her neck as soon as he sees her moving under her blanket.
She giggles, hugs him close, and taps his nose when she pulls away.
“I’ll just freshen up. Where’s little Roi?”
“I’ll meet you outside.” she ruffles his hair before he runs outside, yelling to his parents that Auntie Gon is awake.
She reaches for her phone and her heart starts beating faster when she sees his name.
He’s called her three hours ago.
She stares at the screen and then to the jacket hanging on the chair in her room. She doesn’t know why she brought it to her parents’ home. She could have left it in her apartment in Seoul but she found herself wearing it on her drive the night before.
Of all the jackets she has in her closet, she chose to bring his jacket. She refuses to wash it right away because his smell still lingers.
She just likes the jacket and the way it smells. She likes the way it hangs on her body, a lot bigger than her size but she loves it anyway.
She finds herself smiling and snaps out of it quickly when her phone vibrates in her hand. She types a quick reply to Veniel, asking about when she’ll be back in Seoul so they could have dinner together.
And then she calls him. Maybe he misses he jacket and wants to see her- it again.
Her heart flutters again as she hears his thick, raspy voice.
“Annyeong, Sunbae. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to pick up. I just woke up.”
“Just now?” It sounds to her that he is smiling.
“Ne. I was hibernating.” she replies.
She hears him chuckle and there is quite a pause between them.
“Do you need the jacket?” she suddenly asks.
“I - yeah. The jacket.”
“I’m in Ilsan right now and will be back to Seoul on Monday. I’ll ask my manager to drop it off in MYM building as soon as I get back."
“Oh. Is it with you right now?”
“N-no. I left it in my apartment.”
Another pause and she realizes that the design of her comforter suddenly looks interesting. The color, pastel blue, becomes a new favorite.
“Can you ask your manager to drop the jacket off in my apartment instead? I’ll text you the address.”
She feels sad and disappointed, remembering that he did tell her he wants to see her again. “Sure, sunbae. I’m sorry for the trouble. It’s seems like it’s important to you.”
He doesn’t answer right away and she wonders what’s wrong.
She feels dizzy with the way he whispers her name.
“I have lots of jackets, a closet full of them.”
She doesn’t know what to say.
“If you’re free on Monday night, I would very much like to try your favorite combination of chicken and beer while watching the last episode.”
She knows he doesn’t drink but she says yes anyway.
He insists someone drive her to his house and tells her he’s picking her up if she doesn’t compromise.
She sighs and his manager tells her it’s okay because he knows, all his and her staff know, and he wants especially her to know that a certain Hallyu King cares for her deeply.
She arrives in a one-size larger white shirt tucked into her jeans. She has her facemask on and her hair is neatly tucked in her dark blue cap.
Two steps further and she sees him leaping towards her. He looks younger with his plain white shirt and shorts and he too had his black cap and mask on.
They smile at each other and she lets him guide her towards the elevator, his hand placed firmly on her back.
“You cut your hair.”
He looks at her, mesmerized, as she removes her cap and mask upon entering the apartment. She then hands him a paperbag and he almost asks her what’s in it.
“I do this all the time so I can detach myself from my character."
He thinks that maybe there are certain things about Tae Eul that she shouldn't forget. Like being brave. Or being madly in love with him too.
“It looks good on you.” he says instead and smiles back at her. He remembers from the pictures he saw on the internet that she always changes her hairstyle after a project. He wonders how every hair style or color he sees her in seems to look amazing on her.
“Thank you.” she replies shyly, bowing her head a little.
They eat across each other on his table and talk about their next projects, clearing all the awkwardness between them. It’s like the first time they start filming, they start talking and laughing as if it's easy. Too easy.
They both find out that he really really hates beer when he spits it out. He tries again with the same result and she grabs the napkin on the table and wipes his mouth with it without thinking too much. When their eyes lock after giggling, he grabs her hand with the napkin on the corner of his mouth and squeezes it.
A small smile appears on her lips as she looks away.
“Stop doing that.”
She looks back at him. “Mwo?”
“Stop looking away.” he still doesn’t let go of her hand. “You’re beautiful.”
He hands her a third can of beer and sits beside her on his couch to watch the last episode. She thinks he’s close but not close enough. She can smell him, the same scent she’s gotten used to.
They don’t talk much while watching but the moment when Tae Eul gets out of the car to meet Lee Gon who she hasn’t seen for the longest time because they were so sure the door has been closed and the past has been altered. Tae Eul's crying and Go Eun feels his hand brush hers on the couch.
She's not sure how but somehow their fingers find themselves tangled until Choco decides to jump on her lap, causing her to spill the beer she's holding onto her shirt.
The little dog runs to her bed and pretends nothing happened while she tries to wipe the stain off with the napkin he offers as if it’s going to help.
He apologizes on Choco’s behalf and she wrinkles her nose and says it’s fine because it really is.
“It’s just sticky.” she replies.
“I’ll get you something.” he tells her. “Wait here.”
He lets her borrow his smallest plain black shirt and when she comes out of his restroom with the shirt tucked in her jeans, she sees him beaming at her.
“It’s the smallest shirt I could find but it still looks big on you.” he chuckles.
“I like it.” she answers honestly.
And when she asks later that night if she can keep it, he says no firmly.
“I might need it on Wednesday night. Can I come pick it up? Say 7 pm?”
She just smiles and says yes.
It’s still thirty minutes before 7 but he’s already in her building’s parking lot.
He can’t decide if he should wait it out or think of an alibi on why he’s early.
“I thought it’d take time for the bakery to prepare your favorite cheesecake. It was ready as soon as I arrived.” he explains even though she doesn’t ask as she lets him in.
“Perks of being Lee Min Ho Oppa.” she chuckles.
He smiles before realizing it. “Did you just call me Oppa?”
She scrunches her nose. “I missed this cake.”
His staff brought it to set once and when he heard she loved it, he’d always ask his staff to bring one to the set so she could enjoy it.
“You have to tell me where I can buy this.” she tells him as she placed the box on her table with him trailing behind.
“It’s a secret.” she frowns and he melts. “But I’ll gladly bring you one whenever you crave it.”
“I like that better.” she answers and he swears he can hear his heart beating fast. “Free cheesecake.”
He knows he’ll bring her all the cheesecakes she wants as long as he gets to be with her.
“Have you seen my cap?”
He calls her on his way home.
“Uh, let me check.” he waits patiently. “Yep, it’s here. Are you driving back?”
His dimples suddenly appear with how wide he is smiling. “No, I still have to pick up Choco from Noona’s. I’ll drop by again tomorrow or the next day if it’s okay with you.”
He hears her sigh. “Oppa...”
“We have to stop this.”
“Eun-ie...” he curses himself for being too forward. He probably scared the shit out of her with how fast he is being and thinks she’s probably not yet ready. “I’m sorry.”
“Just tell me when you want to see me.” she says suddenly and he pulls the car over because his hands are trembling. “I want to be able to tell you when I want to see you too.”
His heart leaps and he couldn’t remember the last time he was bursting with so much happiness.
“By any chance... would you like to see me again tomorrow?” he asks.
“Is this cap a gift from your fans?” she doesn’t answer his question and asks him one instead.
“No. I bought it when I went to LA.” he answers. “So, tomorrow...”
“Is this your favorite?”
He doesn’t really know where she’s going with the questions but he answers them honestly. “It’s a random cap I picked up from my closet. Why?”
“Will you let me keep it?” he can imagine her smiling through the phone and he wishes he can go back so he can ruffle her hair and pinch her cheeks.
“Whatever makes you happy.”
“If Oppa won’t take the cap back, I’d very much like to see him again tomorrow.”
The next days are spent with them having meals together during their free time, sometimes in Mark Hills, and sometimes in her apartment. There are times when he lets her cook for them but most of the time, he wants to hold her hand and cuddle on the sofa while watching her favorite films and waiting for their deliveries.
“It’s my birthday next week.” he leans on the kitchen counter as she puts the dishes in the washer.
“I know.” she smiles at him. “What do you have in mind?”
“Jeju with the boys.” he tells her. “And you.”
She washes her hands and looks at him with an apologetic smile on her face.
“I know.” he smiles faintly and steps closer to her. “Someday.”
“Someday.” she assures him, tucking herself under his chin when he opens his arms. She feels him kiss her head and she buries herself more into him. “Go enjoy with your squad. We’ll celebrate it when you come back.”
He hums and he pulls away to see her face. “Just so you know, you don’t have to buy me anything.”
“Good. I am not planning it anyway.” she teases him.
He bumps his forehead with hers in a gentle way just like his character did and it suddenly becomes theirs too.
“Meeting you and working with you have been enough.” he confesses. “And being with you like this... I think the universe has given me all the birthday presents I want in you.”
She blushes. “Why do I feel like I’m still dating Lee Gon?”
His smile reaches up to his ears because this is the first time she confirms that they are dating, that this is official, and that he gets to be the one to have her heart.
“I like you more than Lee Gon likes Yeong.”
He spends the days before his birthday in Jeju with his squad.
They start a bonfire after a day in the middle of the sea and Ilwoo teases about him thinking years ago that he’d be married by now, also saying that he needs to get a girlfriend as soon as possible if he wants to get married in his thirties.
Do Hwan raises his eyebrow and almost chokes on his beer.
Kim Bum catches on easily so when Min Ho returns after excusing himself to make a phone call, he smiles sheepishly at him.
“You’re dating, Hyung.”
It’s more of a statement than a question. Min Ho looks down and can’t help but smile, his dimples visible as his cheeks go up. If he were to deny it, he knows that his friends will not buy it.
His two long time friends look at him and then at Do Hwan who seems not so interested about the topic.
She meets them on his birthday after the boys comes in his apartment two hours early for the celebration.
He whispers something to her about changing his apartment code because he was laying on her lap while they were watching her favorite Variety Show when they barged in.
They take pictures of him and his many many gifts and cakes from friends and fans all over the world so he can post them in his page.
He blows a candle from a random cake, probably the one closest to where he's standing, and looks at his circle. He then fixes his eyes on her. She's clapping her hands excitedly as she looks at him. She's wearing her biggest smile, his favorite, and her eyes are sparkling as if she wants to cry happy tears.
He sighs contentedly and thinks that's the smile he wants to see every day.
Do Hwan is the last to leave and the two of them walk him to the door, their hands clasped together.
"I don't know if I should be asking this because I don't know how far you've gone and I'm a pretty caring dongsaeng..." he turns to them before walking out the door. "I can give Noona a ride home."
She turns to him because she doesn't really know the plan.
"It's okay." Min Ho tells him. "I'll give her a ride."
"But you're tipsy." Do Hwan replies.
"Then I'll guess she's staying while I sober up." Min Ho smiles, Go Eun blushes, and Do Hwan rolls his eyes.
He hugs them both before saying goodbye.
"I'd like to give my gift now." she turns to him when the door closes.
He smiles like an excited little boy. "Should I close my eyes?"
"Yes." she answers. "Palm out too."
He complies with his smile still on his face.
"Don't open your eyes." she whispers and he feels her hand on his palm. He suddenly hears her breathing close to him and her other hand traces his cheek at the same time her lips landed on his.
As her lips move, she lets her hand slide from his cheek to his nape and he takes it as his signal to wrap his arms around her and push her more closely towards him. He bends a little and angles his head without breaking the kiss so she could plant her feet flat on the ground again.
Their kiss becomes a delicate dance with his tongue caressing her soft lips gently. She responds willingly and her knees suddenly feel weaker. The only thing he can think about is how soft she feels against his mouth. She only thinks about how he's suddenly invaded all of her senses.
When she pulls away for air, he opens his eyes and looks at her. He looks at her plump red lips that's just been kissed, and kissed good, and she can only gasp as he pulls her in roughly and lovingly at the same time so he can kiss her for the second time.
"It's in my bag." she says breathlessly as his forehead touch hers.
"Hmmm. What is?"
She pulls away and giggles. "My gift."
"Thank you." he pecks her lips and holds her close. "I love it. It looks good on me."
He continues to brush his lips with hers, their teeth clashing because of their smiles.
She's not able to give her gift, a Rolex submariner watch, until breakfast the next day.
He kisses her again and says he loves it.
“But I love you more.”