"-Ha Jae Kyung?"
The woman in question blinked, then blinked again. "Oh!" She stalked towards him, only to point crudely at his face. "I was right, then, I do know you. You're Jun's friend!" She paused. "Or one of them, at least."
Yi Jung reached forward to lower her hand. "I have a name, thank you," he said while straightening his jacket. "Though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised if you don't remember it." Considering how her world revolved around Go Jun Pyo back then, this fact shouldn't be insulting.
If he were really honest with himself, however, it kinda was.
After all, no girl could and should forget him.
"That's what you think." She grinned, stepped closer to him and carefully enunciated, "So Yi Jung."
...oh. Well, then.
Was she actually paying attention to the non-Jun Pyo members of the F4?
Had he, perhaps, misjudged her?
Then Jae Kyung ruined the illusion by taking something out of her purse and waving it at his face. "Of course I know your name. It's written all over the pamphlet I took, silly."
Idly, Yi Jung plucked the pamphlet from her fingers as if it had offended him and handed it to Yo-Seob, who took it as an opportunity to say, "Of course it is. After all, this is his exhibit."
She looked around them and said, "It looks boring, to be honest. I mean, why is this place so cramped and small?"
Yo-Seob blinked. "W-Well-"
"Holding exhibits is just a fancier way of selling things, isn't it?" Jae Kyung asked, inspecting her fingernails a bit before looking up at Yi Jung.
What an odd way of looking at things. Yi Jung took his time in responding, "It might be to one who doesn't have any appreciation for art." In other words, to crude, unrefined, uncouth individuals who would dare think it.
Brushing aside his unspoken jab - either because she didn't get it or she refused to acknowledge it - Jae Kyung then said, "Then why aren't you selling that ugly brown bowl to my man?"
To avoid losing his temper and composure in front of a woman, Yi Jung chose to focus on: "Your man?"
"Him," she said, gesturing at the one who had almost assaulted Yi Jung earlier. "I mean if you're selling the bowl then we're going to buy it, obviously. Tigress needs something to drink from, after all."
"Let me guess," Yi Jung said drolly. "Tigress is your pet lion?"
"That's Leon," she said, rolling her eyes. "I told you that already. Tigress is my pet tiger."
He placed his hand on his hips and asked, "Why on good earth do you have wild animals as pets?"
Jae Kyung crossed her arms and shot back, "Why are you holding exhibits here in Sweden?"
Coolly, Yi Jung said, "I don't have to answer that."
"Good," she replied. "Then neither do I."
He looked at her and, unblinkingly, she stared right back at him.
As if sensing that they've come into a deadlock, Yo-Seob came in between them to turn to her and say, "Miss Ha, please understand. It's the creator's prerogative if he's going to sell his creations or not, and, well-"
"You're just going to break it anyway," Yi Jung said blithely.
"Remember that piece I gave you? The one I said Queen Elizabeth favored? You broke it literally a few seconds after I handed it to you." It was a good thing there was no one around to question him that day; otherwise he would have had a jolly good fantastic time explaining why the hell a priceless artifact procured from abroad was now lying on the floor in several broken pieces. "You made a mess out of perfectly good pottery."
Jae Kyung raised her chin and sheepishly said, "Technically, I can do whatever I want with it since it's already mine. Besides, it was... I don't know, slippery. And plain - did I mention it was plain?"
"It's worth at least fifty thousand US Dollars in the market," Yi Jung told her.
"Still doesn't make it any prettier," she replied. Jae Kyung gestured behind her and said, "That ugly brown bowl you're not selling is way better, if you ask me."
He crossed his arms and stared at her, not knowing how to respond.
God. No wonder Jun Pyo vastly preferred Geum Jan Di over her!
"Hey." She tapped him on the arm and smiled brilliantly. "So Yi Jung. If I promise to not break your bowl, will you sell it to me then?"
"If I may ask," Yo-Seob said, pushing up his glasses and earning a dry look from Yi Jung, "how much are you willing to pay for it?"
"Oh..." Jae Kyung mulled that over, then brightly said, "Will thirty thousand US dollars do?"
Yo-Seob coughed. "That's... mighty generous of you, Miss Ha-"
"It's not even worth a tenth of that," Yi Jung told her point-blank. "Why are you willing to pay for that much? It's garbage."
"Yi Jung-" Yo-Seob sounded distressed.
Jae Kyung crossed her arms and said, "I don't care if you think it's trash; I like it. And what I want, I always get."
Yi Jung raised a brow at her because of course they both knew it wasn't always true.
Case in point: Go Jun Pyo.
She must have sensed what he was too much of a gentleman to point out because she amended her statement with, "Usually. Besides-" Jae Kyung flipped her hair and said, "I'm going to use that bowl for my pet. You should be proud, you know. I only use the best for them." She stepped closer to him. "Come on," she cajoled, clasping her hands together and batting her eyelashes at him, "Pretty pretty please?"
Looking down at her, Yi Jung could feel his head starting to pulsate. He surreptitiously pressed the bridge of his nose in an attempt to halt his incoming headache before saying, "You know what? Fine. Fine. Just get it and go."
"Ha!" Jae Kyung hit him on the arm and clapped. "I knew you're gonna give in!" She pivoted on her heel and called out, "You there! Where's my credit card? Give it!"
Yi Jung glared at her retreating form before turning to his manager and saying, "I don't want to hear it."
"What?" Lee Yo-Seob smiled at him. "I wasn't saying anything."
"Just... take care of her. Make sure she leaves," Yi Jung ordered, signalling for one of the waiters to get him a drink.
"Your wish is my command." Yo-Seob then turned to trail after Ha Jae Kyung.
His drink came a few seconds later. Yi Jung's attention was elsewhere when the unmistakable sound of something loudly breaking reached his ears.
"Oops! Sorry!" Ha Jae Kyung yelled. "It's paid for, I swear."
Yi Jung winced.
Time for him to go, then.
That night found him in his studio, a bowl of clay already half-formed on his wheel. Yi Jung bent to study it from another angle, then reached forward to push his finger into the clay, indenting it.
Except his hand began to throb.
Yi Jung bore the pain for as long as he could, and pulled out three seconds longer than he should. He massaged the damaged hand, biting his lip as he did. Already the pain was receding, to his immense relief.
He eyed his half-done creation. So far, it hadn't suffered any untoward damage, which meant that he was getting better in holding still and enduring the pain when it attacked. The ache also didn't linger long, which could only be a good thing, in his opinion.
He was reaching out to indent the clay again when his phone beeped.
Taking it out of his pocket, he saw that he had received a text message. Half expecting it to come from his manager who was probably going to brag about how well his exhibit went, Yi Jung slid his hand across the screen - and paused.
Yi Jung Sunbae, how are you? I hope you're doing well. Keep safe.
He stared at the message, not quite knowing what to do next.
I'm fine, Ga Eul. How are you?
Are you doing well?
Yi Jung shook his head, erased his own typed message, and turned off his phone.
He had work to do.