A/N: Happy Friday! It took me a few months, but here's the last chapter in this three-shot. Their first official date! It's simple but sweet.
I was listening to "Anchor" by Mindy Gledhill while I wrote this. Gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings. If you had a stressful week, I hope this helps.
"Sunbae, I think it's closed." Stepping out of Yi Jeong's car while he held the door open for her, Ga Eul surveyed the empty ice rink and the startlingly bare space surrounding it. She didn't see any people walking past it on the streets. There weren't any cars parked near them either. "Maybe we shouldn't be here," she said. "It looks like this whole area is closed."
"Let's go over anyway. Let's go." Pressing a hand to her back, Yi Jeong ushered her forward.
Cold wind pricking her face and the exposed part of her neck, Ga Eul stumbled on her black heels to keep up with his pace. Wishing he'd worn a scarf so she could steal it from him again.
They'd eaten noodles for dinner at one of her favorite noodle shops, and Yi Jeong had appeared to like the food. Though maybe he was tolerating it for her sake. She couldn't be sure.
Ga Eul had tried not to make embarrassing slurping sounds, but it was noodles, so...that was hard.
The two of them rounded the corner to the entrance of the rink—the same skating rink they had visited on their fake date—and what Ga Eul saw next made her catch her breath.
One Hour Earlier
Ga Eul frowned at her appearance in her bedroom mirror.
Once Yi Jeong had dropped her off at her house around eleven—after a late, leisurely breakfast neither of them seemed anxious to finish—she had rummaged through her room for half an hour before finding all of the pieces to her favorite outfit. A collared cream lace blouse with a burgundy skirt and black tights. Unfortunately, the shirt didn't look as flattering as she remembered.
Or maybe she'd simply filled out in ways that made the material across her chest appear tight and awkwardly pinched.
Or maybe she was imagining things.
Ga Eul bit her lip as she adjusted her shirt collar in front of the full-length silver-framed mirror that hung from the back of her closet door.
She hoped he hadn't thought her idea was dumb. Or boring. Or cliché.
The skating rink? Again?
He must think she'd never gone on a date anywhere else.
Unfortunately, when he'd asked her for the second time where she wanted to go, that was the first place that had come to her mind, so she'd blurted it out when she blanked on literally every other place in Seoul.
Ga Eul paced the room, putting away small items and clicking her tongue at the thin layer of dust coating her furniture.
Makeup applied, check.
Pearl earrings, check.
Hair curled, check.
Too early to put on her coat.
Too late to start a drama episode.
She glanced at her phone.
Ten minutes until he was supposed to pick her up.
Maybe she should rehearse things they could talk about. She could make a list.
Well, not a physical list. That would be weird.
But it had occurred to her that they had never talked about themselves much; she hoped their dinner conversation wouldn't be too awkward.
The last time they went to dinner, he'd been using her to prove a point to his father.
And the previous night had been different too; there had been the party going on, and obviously it was his birthday.
Then that morning had been something else entirely, but at least she had plenty to comment on while he took her on a tour of his house and they ate breakfast in the expansive dining room. Thankfully, his parents were away, and they had the house to themselves. Hence the party from the night before. Breakfast had been a combination of Western and Korean cuisine, with four different meats and a full coffee bar. It reminded her of being at a hotel.
Yi Jeong had later commented on the way to her house that he didn't normally eat that much for breakfast; she'd given him such a vague answer about what she wanted, he'd simply directed his staff to prepare everything they had readily available.
Which meant an intercontinental buffet was only what they had 'readily available.'
Ga Eul shook her head. She'd never thought of herself as poor by any means; her father had a respectable job that provided her and her mother with a comfortable, albeit moderate, life.
But Yi Jeong's childhood must have been something unfathomable.
Mulling over that fact, she picked up her pink wool coat and purse.
It was five fifty-five. She might as well go wait out in the yard. It wasn't too chilly out, and anyway, some fresh air would do her good before she squeezed into the close confines of his car.
Ga Eul had barely opened the door to her room, however, when the doorbell rang.
She paused in the open doorway.
He hadn't said anything about coming to the door.
At least, she'd assumed he would call her when he got to her house like he had on their fake date with Jun Pyo and Jan Di.
Ga Eul's mother, noticing her paralyzed state from the kitchen, ceased chopping carrots and walked over to their front door. She swung it open, and there Yi Jeong stood, charming smile at the ready, wearing a light gray suit, a salmon and burgundy pinstripe tie tucked neatly into his waistcoat. In his hand, he clutched a bouquet of white and pink carnations.
"Good evening." He bowed. "You must be Ga Eul's mother."
"Oh, yes, good evening. You must be So Yi Jeong. Oh, what lovely flowers. These are for Ga Eul?" Her mother motioned her over, and Ga Eul's legs moved numbly towards the door.
"Actually, these are for you." Yi Jeong offered the bouquet to Ga Eul's mother. Her mother gasped in surprise. "I apologize. I should have introduced myself a long time ago," he continued smoothly. "Ga Eul and I have been friends for a while. I know Ga Eul through Jan Di."
"Oh, yes, Ga Eul told me," her mother replied, going on to ask him about himself, where he went to school, what he was studying, where he would be taking Ga Eul that evening. The name So Yi Jeong hadn't rung any bells with her mother when Ga Eul had told her his name. But perhaps, given Yi Jeong's reputation, that was for the best.
The rest of the introductions went by in a blur, with Ga Eul gaping like a fish at the sight of Yi Jeong making small talk with her mother.
Then suddenly they were sitting in his car, shoulder to shoulder.
Ga Eul thought she shouldn't be so uncomfortable. It was just his car. The same car he's been driving her around in for two years. But she couldn't help how flustered she felt when their shoulders touched. Perhaps more so because she was actually allowed to touch him now. In less innocent ways.
She swallowed as Yi Jeong turned his key in the ignition. The orange Lotus roared to life. That seemed to be his favorite car, though she knew he had others. A red Cadillac and a white Audi.
The Audi she only knew about because he'd showed it to her when they went out to his car garage that morning. A sports car as well, it still had far more space between the seats than this one. But of course he would pick the Lotus for a date. The car that gave the least amount of space possible between bodies.
Habits of a playboy, she supposed.
Turning the heat on, he told her to let him know if she got too hot or too cold, and she nodded.
Ga Eul chewed on her lip while he started the car up and pulled away from her house. Avoiding looking at him, she feigned interest in the passing houses she'd seen a million times.
"So I thought we could eat at this French place I like. Unless you have somewhere else you'd like to go," Yi Jeong offered.
"Um." Ga Eul's brain tried to catch up to his words. "Actually, I've really been wanting to eat noodles. There's a place I like. It's only about five minutes from here. I promise it's good." Not that the French place didn't sound good, but it was probably fancy to the point where she would feel out of place. She was already nervous as it was, and noodles were her comfort food.
Thankfully, Yi Jeong didn't seem to mind.
"Fine by me. Just tell me where to turn." Yi Jeong fiddled with the radio, and the low hum of a foreign r&b song filled the car.
"Take a right up here." Ga Eul pointed. "You'll go through three traffic lights, and then it will be on the left. I'll show you."
Yi Jeong nodded and put his turn signal on.
She let out a breath.
They were really doing this.
She couldn't believe they were really doing this.
"I told you it wasn't closed. You didn't believe me."
Yi Jeong smirked at Ga Eul. Quite proud of his plan for the evening.
A small table had been set up in front of the rink on which a white tablecloth had been placed and strewn with red rose petals. On one side of the table lay a bouquet of red and white roses and on the other a cheesecake topped with strawberries and garnished with red roses and baby's breath.
He'd rented out the skating rink so he could recreate their date and do it the right way. It had cost him a little extra doing it on such short notice, but seeing as how money wasn't an issue...and the girl happened to be worth it...
Laughing at Ga Eul's speechlessness, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and guided her to the table.
There were times when his Casanova skills came in handy, even if he wasn't using them for their original purpose. Here there were no crowds of people to jostle them about. No nosy best friends following them around. Just lights in the trees and lights circling the perimeter of the rink. White roses twined around the railings. A full moon and a lone violinist playing a classical song Ji Hoo would probably recognize.
Ga Eul had been quiet earlier in the evening, but she'd steadily grown more talkative during dinner.
Picking up the bouquet of roses, Ga Eul looked from the table to him, a question in her eyes.
"I ordered dessert. Since ours was absconded last time," he explained.
"Is this...didn't you order cheesecake when we were in the hotel?"
Yi Jeong nodded.
"You said you liked cheesecake."
"When I was driving you home from the hotel, you said Jan Di knew how much you liked cheesecake."
"Oh." Ga Eul laughed. "I don't remember that. I thought I remembered every..." She broke off. "Uh, anyway, should we sit down?" She gestured to the table.
Yi Jeong thought about teasing her regarding whatever she had been about to say but, deciding not to embarrass her further at the moment, went behind her and pulled out her chair for her instead.
"And here I thought you only bought flowers for my mother." Ga Eul smiled into the bouquet as she sat down, lowering her eyes as she breathed in their scent.
They ate their cheesecake slowly, Ga Eul surveying the skating rink with an awed expression from time to time.
"Am I that impressive?" he asked when she had swallowed a bite.
"You keep looking around like you've never been here before."
"Oh, that...I guess I just didn't expect someone would do something like this for me." She gave him a warm, dreamy smile. Probably thinking of the dramatic ending to a romantic movie. It was flattering, in a way, being the object of Ga Eul's romantic fantasies.
However, Yi Jeong was still uncomfortable with the idea of being a lovesick sap, or a knight-in-shining-armor type for that matter, and decided to play it off. Crossing his legs, he noted coolly, "Well, since it's the first date, a simple one is best, yes? Otherwise, what will have to look forward to later?"
"You should probably get used to it. If you keep looking around like that while we're walking, you'll be sure to run into something."
She raised her eyebrows at him, probably debating whether or not to call him a show-off.
Finally, she nodded and simply said, "Whatever you say, Sunbae." She scooped up another bite of cheesecake and kept her eyes on her plate as she placed it in her mouth. He watched her lips as she chewed, remembering how it had felt to finally kiss them.
Yi Jeong had always thought of girls as puzzles to be solved. Complicated at first, maybe, but always yielding a simple solution. Ga Eul was the opposite. The more he got to know her, the less he could predict her actions. Because she wasn't simple. He couldn't put her in a neat, nicely defined box. In the same category, even, as most so-called 'good girls' he had met. If only because she'd made herself that way by caring so much about him, even when it wouldn't benefit her personally. And having such high expectations of him. And not giving a damn how he responded to her persistence. That was the second reason he'd wanted to go out with her.
But he was also a guy, and of course the number one reason he'd wanted to go out with her was the same reason he'd liked to pick on her in New Caledonia.
So he couldn't help but say one thing.
"Ga Eul-yang," he said, more softly.
"Yes?" She looked up.
"You look pretty."
She blushed like he knew she would.
But then she surprised him by answering, "I'm that impressive, huh?"
Soon enough, they had finished their slices of cheesecake, and Ga Eul laced on her skates.
She held out her hands expectantly for him to pull her up, and he happily obliged her.
"Do I have to teach you how to skate again," he asked as they walked over to the entrance of the rink, "or were you pretending to be bad at this before so you could hold on to me?"
"I wasn't pretending anything," Ga Eul mumbled. There was a double meaning in that statement, he thought. "But," she continued, "if you mean do you have to hold my hands and lead me romantically across the ice like in a drama, then yes, you have to teach me how to skate." She clung to his hands as he backed onto the ice in his black dress shoes. Her luminescent dark hair spilled over the shoulders of her pale pink coat, and her lips, a glossy pink, glistened when she smiled as he pulled her towards him.
"If you really want to learn how to skate, I can let go of you. Falling down is part of the process," he said. He let go of her, just for a second, and, caught off guard, she wobbled to the left. Catching her before she fell, he gripped her hands tighter to show her he hadn't meant it.
"Yah! What was that? You really haven't been on a real date before," she replied, scowling. "You're so bad at this."
"That's not it," he said, drawing her closer to him. "When the little birds are learning how to fly, the mother bird pushes them out of the nest." He pushed her gently away from him to demonstrate, still clutching her hands.
"I'm not a bird. And if you push me down on the ice, I'll take out your legs, and then you'll be down there with me," she retorted.
Yi Jeong chuckled and spun her around, making her burst into giggles despite her indignation.
A few laps around the rink later, the fireworks he'd prepared for the evening burst overhead, and Ga Eul clapped her hands as she had before.
That had been one of his favorite memories of their second fake date—the way her eyes lit up when he snapped his fingers and the sky exploded in a rain of sparkling color.
She hadn't been looking at him, so he could smile at her without worrying if his eyes betrayed how much he actually enjoyed being with her. She hadn't been looking at him, so he could enjoy seeing her happy without thinking of all the ways he might make her unhappy in the future.
But tonight she did look at him, after only a brief moment of watching the fireworks, and any thoughts of future unhappiness faded away. Especially when she brought herself closer to him and asked, "Sunbae, are you ready for the climax?"
"Climax? What do you mean?" Yi Jeong replied, genuinely confused.
Gripping his coat to steady herself, Ga Eul offered him the most dazzling smile he'd ever seen—and he did think his own smile was quite dazzling, to be fair—and, without another word, pressed her lips to his.