It was Monday, and after a long week of filming, Yeo Ri finally had another day off.
Not-so-coincidentally, her two co-stars from the [Runaway Kids] project were also having their day off, and the three decided to go out together as a way of bonding in order to make their acting more believable and cohesive.
The three met up at a cafe in Hongdae. They had plans to watch a concert together later in the evening, but decided to meet up early to catch a movie while the cinemas weren't so busy. The movie was an impromptu decision they had made at the last minute, and since they were in the peak of summer, a lot of movies were premiering in lieu of the holidays.
"Should we hang out in character?" Won suggested jokingly as he sipped his cup of iced coffee.
Yeo Ri shrugged her shoulders as she scooped a mouthful of whipped cream into her mouth. Her eyes glinted in delight at the soft and sweet taste, and as soon as she swallowed another scoop followed. Gun was ready by her side, looking helplessly at her, tissue in hand.
"Don't wanna," Park Jung Ho pouted. "It'll feel like I'm working. I just wanna relax and have fun today."
"Good point," Won nodded as he easily dropped the idea.
The table was silent for a moment as the two actors' attention turned to the Lee duo. Behind them, at a distant table within the two boys' eyesights, sat the sunglasses-wearing Manager Kwon.
Won sighed inwardly as he noted the other men's presence. He had wanted to have a little date-like outing with Yeo Ri (and Jung Ho) but it was hard to act comfortably when the girl came as a package with two hawkish chaperones. The girl didn't seem perturbed by them, as if it was the norm, and Won assumed that she had probably been protected like this all her life and thus was very used to it already.
"So what movie should we watch?" Park Jung Ho asked, changing the topic. He pulled out his phone and began surfing the cinema's website to check the available titles.
"I don't really have a preference. What about you, Yeo Ri?"
"Um... I'm fine with anything," Yeo Ri bopped her head. Her attention turned back to her cold and sweet confection, marvelling at the novel taste of the slightly pricy artisanal drink.
"Seen this... Romance? Not interested... Horror... no way, I'm scared of moving dolls... Rated G? This movie is for kids? No way in creepy hell!" Finding nothing of interest, he passed his phone to Won, signalling him to make the choice for them. "Anything but the creepy doll movie," he pleaded.
Won took his time to digest the 'Now Showing' list. "How about this one?" he raised the phone to show the screen, displaying an image of a currently popular H*llyw**d action movie.
"I don't mind, but you need to watch the previous movies to understand the context. Have you seen the other movies from this franchise, Yeo Ri-ah?"
Yeo Ri stared at the nicely designed movie poster featuring handsome, buff men and pretty, sexy women in what appeared to be superhero costumes. She shook her head, "No, but I don't mind watching it too." Yeo Ri rarely had the chance to go to the movies, and anything that wasn't free on cable was usually out of her range. Thus, she was rather excited to go to the cinemas, regardless of what they were watching, and have an authentic viewing experience.
"Okay. This one, then?"
The phone was passed back to its owner.
Since the movie was fairly popular, there wasn't a lot of open seats left. Park Jung Ho randomly chose four seats close to the middle of the cinema hall. As he was about to hit 'Book', his gaze turned to the conspicuous man who had been watching them. "Um..." he glanced at Yeo Ri awkwardly in askance.
She followed his gaze, and raised her eyebrows as if she had just remembered the man's existence. "Ah, you don't have to worry about him. He's always been weird like that, so don't mind him and just treat him like he's not there." Yeo Ri smiled apologetically at her co-stars. She knew how weird it looked having the secretary follow her around, and despite her insistence on giving him a day off, the man was stubbornly keeping himself close for some reason. She wanted to get angry at him for being a pesky follower, but nothing she said perturbed the man.
"...It's been hard on you, huh." Park Jung Ho gazed at her with sympathy, seemingly coming to a silent realisation. He'd been in the business for a long time and was used to being followed around by the security detail, especially when a particularly crazy fan or paparazzo appeared. Her... 'manager' was probably on the lookout for similar things. It made sense—an up and coming super rookie, hanging out with a famous actor and an even famous pop idol—such an article was certainly headline-worthy for a tabloid.
Gun frowned at the exchange, silently glaring at the third wheel known as Kwon Tae Yang. Even though Yeo Ri had assured him that the older man was harmless, he still did not trust him completely. He was also unreconciled with the fact that there seemed to be an understanding between them that he was not privy of. For the first time in his life, Gun found himself hating Yeo Ri's secretive nature—there was always something she was hiding from him, back then and now.
Yeo Ri seemed to notice her brother's change in mood, and placated him wordlessly by offering him a smile as she hugged his arm loosely.
"I love you?" Yeo Ri said, batting her eyes adorably.
"So suddenly?" Gun glowered at the sticky girl, pouting. But since she was being cute, he easily let her off the hook. "Oppa loves you too," he helplessly replied. He raised his hand which held the tissue and wiped away the excess whipped cream at the corner of her lips, "Clumsy girl."
Although he couldn't forget the fact that Yeo Ri had secrets of her own, he still felt pleased over the fact that he was the person she loved most—even after including Hyuk.
The two young celebrities exchanged glances.
"We're totally third-wheeling, aren't we?" Park Jung Ho quipped.
Won eyed the two siblings who seemed to be stuck in ther own world. As if it was a scene from fiction, he could visualise flowers blooming in the background, complete with a spotlight and background music. The power of the Lee genes shone through as they painted a picturesque scene.
Won squinted his eyes, sighing in hopelessness.
"Totally," he agreed.
—Inwardly, he thought, there was no way his crush could ever notice him with a brother like that...
The four youths—and one Secretary Kwon—made their way over to the cinemas after finishing their drinks.
While it wasn't packed full, there were still a lot of younger, high-school-aged kids loitering around the cinemas.
Seeing the crowd of people, Yeo Ri inched closer to her brother and pulled up her face mask apprehensively. Yeo Ri had never been good with crowds, and ever since she went viral, more people seemed to take notice of her and even dared to mob her.
Secretary Kwon increased his proximity readily.
Unlike Yeo Ri who was wary of the growing attention towards them, her two co-stars seemed to be at ease. They comfortably engaged in a conversation with her without minding the crowd at all. Every once in a while, the two would leisurely bob their heads with a smile at the crowd before returning to the conversation.
Won, who had noticed Yeo Ri's discomfort, leaned closer to her in a conspiratory manner. "Yeo Ri-ah, you know, if you act like normal, they won't approach you. Like, just pretend they're not there, but if you accidentally made eye contact, just smile and look away. It's fine if you acknowledge them but don't give them space to approach you," the idol singer adviced. "It's surprising how easy it is to keep the fans away. Be careful, though. The moment you get too friendly, they're going to take it as a sign to get closer. I usually don't mind when that happens, but if I'm with a non-celebrity..." he glanced up at the taller Lee sibling whose face was properly hidden under a black face mask that matched his younger counterpart. "Well, it's a matter of privacy."
"I see. Thank you, Won-oppa." Yeo Ri carefully took in his advice.
"There's one more effective way," Jung Ho added. "When in doubt, carry a camera." As if to prove his point, he pulled out a folded selfie stick and fastened his phone to it. "It doesn't even have to record anything. Just have someone point a camera at you and act like you're shooting a vlog, and they'll stay away. A phone camera is good enough, too."
He extended the selfie stick to include them all except for Gun. Out of consideration for the civilian, he kept Gun's face out of frame. "Guys, say hi!"
"Hello viewers!" Won easily jumped into his entertainer persona and energetically waved at the camera.
Yeo Ri gave a small, confused wave and bowed at the phone.
"Today, I'm here with my co-stars, Won and Yeo Ri, at the cinemas. What do you think we should watch? Just kidding—we already booked a movie in advance, haha."
Jung Ho babbled randomly as he filmed and walked at the same time. As she looked at the screen, she noticed how the bystanders in the background seemed to move out of the frame, as if they did not want to be caught in the video. Soon enough, a small space was left around them, and while several people were still giving them glances and talking about them, none dared to approach.
"See? It works, right?" Jung Ho laughed. "Do you guys mind if I post this on my account?"
"Sure," Won shrugged nonchalantly. "Don't forget to tag me."
"Uh-huh. What about you, Yeo Ri?"
Yeo Ri glanced at Secretary Kwon who was trudging behind them. "I don't know. It's probably alright... I think?"
"I will review the video first, so please do not post it before I do." Secretary Kwon took up a professional and strict tone, appearing like a stern bodyguard.
Yeo Ri pouted in exaspration, rolling her eyes. "Stop pretending. And take off those glasses; you look weird."
Secretary Kwon almost choked at her straighforwardness. He cleared his throat as he took off his sunglasses. "...I'm sorry, miss." Geez, can't a guy act cool for once?
The person whom they thought was a Cane Corso suddenly became a puppy in front of the girl's chiding. Park Jung Ho burst into laughter at Yeo Ri's candidness while Won tried to hide his smile. She was so witty and cute, he thought.
"And the gloves too. You look like you're going to commit a crime."
"I musn't, Miss Yeo Ri." His eyebrows scrunched as if he was reluctant to follow through the girl's request.
"I told you I'm fine, didn't I? It's not like anyone's going to come chasing after me, so take it off," Yeo Ri complained.
—Well, that wasn't the main reason why he kept the gloves on, but... "Yes, miss." Secretary Kwon hardened his face and took them off. Whatever she said, goes. It was better for him to aggreviate her less considering how much of a busybody he was being lately.
Park Jung Ho had no idea what the context was behind the two's banter, but he continued to laugh openly as he found it amusing.
Yeo Ri looked at the three young men who were accompanying her. "I'm sorry," she apologised as if she was embarrassed and felt responsible for the older man's strange behaviour.
Park Jung Ho laughed again.
The movie the group had chosen was three hours long.
Despite it being a foreign movie that was part of a series she had never seen before, Yeo Ri found herself greatly enjoying her time. The screen was big and the seats were nice. The audio had been louder than she was used to, but that was fun too. Yeo Ri even felt that eating the shared popcorn was fun.
"That ending was terrible," Park Jung Ho grouched. "I can't believe they killed off my favourite character!"
"Why? Wasn't it touching, though? He sacrificed himself for the greater good." Won patted his friend's shoulder comfortingly.
"It's a cliched plot device! Five out of ten," he huffed. "Can't believe they did him like that..."
"I thought it was good," Won lightly disagreed. "What do you think, Yeo Ri-ah?"
Yeo Ri sported a happy smile as she responded, "It was fun."
Won, receiving her approving gaze, immediately jumped into action. "You think so? Should we do this again next time?" Inside his mind, he was already planning their next 'date'... preferably without any chaperones.
"Yeah!" Yeo Ri agreed.
Gun frowned at the eager boy. Turning to his sister, he said, "Then should we have a movie day together on your next day off? I heard some cinemas sell all-day tickets where you can just pick whichever movie you want to watch."
"Yeah!" Yeo Ri agreed with even more vigour. Going to the movies with Gun would be so much more fun!
"..." Won laughed awkwardly at the way the older Lee sibling stole his thunder. There was really no room for a third person between these two, he discovered.
"Just accept your loss." Park Jung Ho—who had finally snapped out of his rant—returned a shoulder pat to Won, sighing at his friend's fate pitifully.
Meanwhile, in the back, Kwon Tae Yang hid a satisfied expression. He had been wanting to see the movie for a long time but couldn't since he was so busy with looking after his boss' daughter. Luckily, the girl and her friends had coincidentally chosen it and he took the chance to watch it with them under the pretext of shadowing them.
He took a deep breath after having rejuvenated his morale, trailing after his little lady with light steps.
As they walked out the exit, the movie posters lining the walls of the hallway caught their eyes. As if it was a habit, Won read aloud the titles of the movies and their release dates.
"'Do Or Die, Coming Soon on August 21st'... huh, weren't you in this movie, Yeo Ri-ah?" he exclaimed.
"What?" Yeo Ri turned to look at the aforementioned poster. The familiar face of the actor, Yoo Hyun Bin, was plastered on the poster, looking like its main focal point.
"Ah," Yeo Ri blinked her eyes in surprise. It seemed like it was so long ago when she filmed her part that she had almost forgotten about it. "You're right. How did you know that?" Her role was so insignificant that she was casted only a few days before her scene was filmed. Her name wasn't even in the credits on the poster.
"Ah, um, I-I saw Yoo Hyun Bin-sunbaenim's post," Won replied in a fluster. The veteran actor had posted a picture with Yeo Ri before she made her own SNS account, and because it was so long ago, the post had been buried among the older actor's many newer posts. He didn't even bother to go back and tag Yeo Ri after her account was created, thus not a lot of Yeo Ri's new fans or acquaintances knew of her participance in the movie unless they were actively following Yoo Hyun Bin's account. Was it too obvious that he had been cyberstalking her?
"Oh," Yeo Ri accepted his reasoning easily.
"Should we go watch that together?" Gun grinned uncontrollably as he thought of seeing Yeo Ri on the big screen.
"No!" Yeo Ri blushed, shaking her head wildly. "Don't; it's embarrassing..." Even though she had grown as an actress, Yeo Ri still felt embarrassed by how amateurish her acting was in the beginning.
"That can't do! Seeing you react like that will make us wanna go see it even more!" Jung Ho exclaimed, covering his mouth to hide his evil grin. It wouldn't be proper of him as a friend to not support her works—however minor or major her roles were—after all. It was totally not about his growing urge to tease her. Totally not.
"Hey, did you get infected by Taek or something? I've never seen you act like this before," Won grumbled. Park Jung Ho was an easygoing and chill person off-camera, but he wasn't one to tease his friends. He was the type of person who would watch everything happen around him with a distant smile, as though he had nothing to do with them. To see him wanting to tease Yeo Ri made the idol feel as if the man was as interested in Yeo Ri as he was. That wasn't good—his chances was already low to begin with, but with a rival like Park Jung Ho, he might as well drown in self-pity.
Jung Ho paused, realising that he'd been influenced by his character in his interactions with his current co-stars. "I think so? I don't think it's a bad thing, though. Yeo Ri's like a little sister—well, she is one."
The conversation died down as they reached the end of the hallway.
The group exited the cinemas, and before they could get mobbed by the fans, Jung Ho pulled out his phone and began vlogging again until they reached their vehicles and drove away to the concert venue.
This chapter was originally split into two parts but I felt like it would be too draggy so I put them into one. It's a filler again,,, sorry lol