If it were any other occasion, Nichkhun would have believed it when Victoria told him she was only texting a friend, but what he witnessed weeks prior to this recording prevented him from believing so.
“What friend?” Nichkhun light heartedly chirped, throwing her one of his best smiles.
Victoria pursed her lips at him, glancing around at the staff rushing back and forth beside them. “Does it matter?”
“No,” Nichkhun shrugged, “Not really.”
It didn't faze him when news got out that Victoria recently watched Sung Si Kyung's concert with her close SME family members, either.
“How was the concert?” Nichkhun asked.
Victoria slanted him a look before realization struck her. “Oh! You mean Sung Si Kyung sunbaenim's concert? It was amazing!”
He felt a little disheartened by her excitement. She never once used the word 'amazing' to describe the 2PM concert he invited her to, not even his own solo stage he somewhat prepared just for her. Hell, she never said much about that concert over all off the cameras.
“It must have been really fun hanging out with Onew, Changmin and Kyuhyun-sshi.”
Nichkhun could have sworn he saw Victoria's ears perk up like a puppy's when he mentioned the name Kyuhyun. She really was just as sensitive as she looked.
“It was,” Victoria nodded with a grin.
She didn't even try to deny it.
He couldn't hide his pout, either. Twisting his thumbs together, fuming, Nichkhun tried to push away all his negativity as the camera lights switched on. As they started recording, he found himself easily more and more attracted to the Victoria standing before him. He was stunned by her cuteness, surprised by her sincerity, amazed by her hard-working attitude, but most of all he was perplexed by how she could act so naturally as his wife when she already had another.
“I really hate it when you lie.”
Nichkhun was caught off guard. He snapped back to reality, his eyes widened at a seemingly angry Victoria; he could never tell when she was truly mad anymore.
“What?” He asked.
Victoria crossed her arms over her torso. She glanced over at him, her large, round eyes blinking at him worriedly. “Are you okay?” She asked, holding his wrist in her hands, “You suddenly turned pale.”
“I'm fine,” Nichkhun replied, “What lie?”
“No, nothing,” Victoria sighed.
As usual, Nichkhun would tease her and shrug off her anger with his continued jokes. They spent the rest of their evening completing the mission given to them by the production crew; decorating their new home and preparing for a house warming party.
“Are you inviting all your members from 2PM?” Victoria asked absent absentmindedly as she handled the groceries.
Nichkhun nodded, “Of course.” He peered over at Victoria, who bore a heavy expression. “Why? Are you nervous?”
“I've seen your interviews online,” Victoria replied, meeting eyes with him.
Flashing an innocent look at his make-believe wife, Nichkhun quickly added, “and?”
“They disapprove of our marriage~” Victoria slurred in her accent laced Korean.
Nichkhun laughed nervously, remembering the said event. “They were just joking,” He ensured.
“They didn't look like they were joking,” Victoria retorted.
Nichkhun pat her on the crown of her head, “They were.”
Victoria sighed audibly.
“Are all of our daughters coming?” Nichkhun asked.
“No,” Victoria shook her head, “They're all too busy and Amber's still in America.”
Nichkhun frowned, “Then it's just going to be my members?”
“I invited Kyuhyun-sshi and Changmin-sshi,” Victoria grinned.
At that very instant, Nichkhun could practically feel the ends of his hairs tingling with an unknown feeling. His entire body tensed; his ears reddening, his hands shaking lightly, and his eyes narrowed as he bit down on his bottom lip.
This was when he realized he was falling too deep into this make-believe relationship. But he could care less.
Victoria was taken by surprise. His voice, husky and rough, sent a small shiver down her spine. She could feel a drop of cold sweat slide down the side of her cheek.
Being as gentleman and prone to details as he always was, Nichkhun quickly pulled a sheet of tissue out from his pocket and dabbed at the sweat on his wife's forehead.
“What do you mean?” Victoria asked.
Nichkhun pouted. If it wasn't common knowledge that eyes couldn't literally turn red, Victoria wouldn't have doubted herself when she thought she saw the devil's eyes flash in her husband's pupil. “Why did you invite them?”
“They're my friends,” Victoria replied nervously.
Nichkhun's pout curved into a frown. “They're boys,” He whined.
“They're like my brothers, younger brothers,” Victoria tried to assure.
There was nothing Nichkhun could say about Victoria's affair with those men outside of the show; they were make-believe, after all. But why didn't she keep it outside of the show? This show was theirs, it belonged to Khuntoria. On this set, in this world, Victoria was his and he was intent on keeping it that way.
“They're both in the 1988 line,” Nichkhun rose a brow, “They're the same age as me.”
Victoria tilted her head to the side, “They are.”
“Then do you see me as just a younger brother?”
She was at a loss of words. Could he even be considered a younger brother to her? They had each others number and contacted one another every once in a while outside of the show, but they barely knew each other.
Just how much could they truly understand about each other through filming? The show was scripted; their every move and words were pre-determined. Their interactions were limited due to fear of offending their respective fans and harming each others images. This was a show.
That's right. This was just a show. This was all just make-believe.
“Of course not,” Victoria replied, “You're my husband! Why are you acting like this? Are you jealous?”
Was he jealous? Hell yeah, he was.
“No, of course not,” Nichkhun shrugged. He wasn't going to admit it. “What about Onew?”
Victoria laughed, “Is this what this is all about? The concert? You're upset that I saw a concert with the boys? We're all just close friends, Appa.”
The nickname calmed Nichkhun down some degrees. It felt good hearing Victoria call him by that name with her accented voice, her cute tone, her genuine smile. It was only when he realized she had lied to him, yet again, that the fire started recharging.
His attitude was seriously very unusual. If it was the norm, Nichkhun played his jealousy off with his cute acts. Today, his fierceness was so distinct that even the staff could sense his uneasy aura. What was wrong with him?
The crew decided to take a short break while they awaited the arrival of the guests and the camera lights switched off. Victoria removed her cooking gloves and pat Nichkhun on the shoulder. “Are you feeling alright? You seem a little unusual today.”
“Sorry,” Nichkhun laughed awkwardly, “I must be scaring you.”
Victoria shook her head, “No, it's fine.”
Nichkhun couldn't decide whether or not to confess what he saw. As he watched Victoria turn her back to him, his eyebrows furrowed and he released a long breath of air. He tilted his head back, scratching his light blonde hair roughly, while his eyes slid close.
Suddenly he felt something cold against his arm. He opened his eyes and found Victoria smiling at him, offering a bottle of water. “Thanks,” He murmured, returning her smile
“You know something, don't you?”
Despite her silly appearance, Victoria was actually very sharp. That was one thing Nichkhun learned very early on in their shootings.
“Maybe,” Nichkhun chuckled nervously.
Victoria took a drink out of her water bottle. “Spill.”
“What if I don't want to?” Nichkhun retorted mischievously.
“Fine then,” Victoria yawned, “But it'll hit you right back in the head later on.”
Nichkhun took her words lightly, which he'd learn to regret soon after.
“Isn't she your wife?” Wooyoung teased, leaning over to whisper into Nichkhun's ears. Victoria was grinning over at the expressionless Kyuhyun, laughing over some witty remark he made about her clumsiness as a wife and cook. “Looks like she's quite absorbed with her 'good friend' over there.”
“I thought she was interested in Chansung,” Junho commented, digging into the food Victoria prepared.
“Don't drag me into this!” Chansung growled.
Victoria glanced over, happy to discover Junho and Chansung eating her dishes happily. “Is it good?” She asked hopefully.
“It's amazing!” Taecyeon replied.
Nichkhun gritted his teeth, “Don't ever say that word!”
“What?” Taecyeon asked.
Glancing over at Victoria, Nichkhun shook his head. “Nothing.”
Being the eldest and most sensitive member, Junsu smirked at the irritated Nichkhun. They didn't get to see this side of him often, after all. “You know, we didn't even have to object to this marriage,” Junsu remarked nonchalantly, “It's not likely to come true any how.”
“Is it that obvious?” Changmin asked, surprising the 2PM members by his sudden comment. The boys all looked at him with shocked expressions. “Did you forget the cameras are rolling? We can hear every word you guys say,” Changmin laughed.
The boys all lowered their heads embarrassingly.
The atmosphere was becoming incredibly awkward and no one knew what to do. Would they need to re-shoot this segment or would Nichkhun be able to play it off slickly like he always did?
“That's right,” Nichkhun suddenly broke the silence, “I think we owe Victoria-sshi an apology!” Victoria immediately blushed, knowing full well what her husband by the year younger was referring to. “Your objections to our marriage worried my wife!”
If one hadn't known that 2PM's official color was metallic gray before hand, they must have thought only red could represent these young men. “R-really?” Taecyeon stuttered, feeling the guilt of his words pierce through him. Despite his large and tough appearance, he was a softie.
“We were just messing with him,” Wooyoung added in a stammer.
Chansung nodded, “We didn't mean it!”
“It was just a joke,” Junho ensured.
Kyuhyun chuckled, “Did they really?”
“That's funny,” Changmin laughed along.
Victoria slapped Kyuhyun on the arm, immediately catching her husbands attention. Skinship. The skinship between Victoria and Nichkhun occurred so naturally that he hadn't even realized it's existence or significance. Now that he witnessed her skinship, the same skinship she used with him, used on someone else, the discomfort it caused was more than he could bear.
“Isn't it hot over there?” Nichkhun asked sweetly, “Victoria-sshi, you should come over here.”
Very uncalled for. The fact that he was huddled in between five other men did not help his cause. Victoria blinked at him with a slanted look for a while, trying to comprehend his unusual logic, as Kyuhyun reached out to push her along.
“Odd Song, your husband is calling for you.”
That did it. Nichkhun was now infuriated by Kyuhyun's sole existence. 'Odd Song'? Kyuhyun already had such a cute nickname for his wife, when he was still trying to accustom to calling Victoria 'Omma'? Watching Kyuhyun's hands land on his wife's shoulders and sliding down her back did not help this case in any way. He could practically feel the steam shooting out of his red ears.
“I-is he alright?” Changmin stuttered, watching as Nichkhun's entire face grew red.
Junsu tugged on Nichkhun lightly, “Dude, can you breath?”
“I'm fine,” Nichkhun hounded out.
Kyuhyun finally averted his eyes from Victoria and exchanged glances with Nichkhun. Hard glances. “Maybe I should go?” Kyuhyun suggested, “It's getting a little late and I have schedules tomorrow.”
“You do?” Victoria asked. Kyuhyun nudged her, but it was too late.
Nichkhun scoffed, “You know his schedule?”
“No,” Victoria answered immediately, out of instinct.
The producer of We Got Married suddenly stepped in. “Alright, I think that's enough for today. We'll cut everything after the games and singing out, we'll fade out at the start of dining.” Everyone present let out an audible sigh of relief, the atmosphere was just too tense for any of them.
Kyuhyun pulled Victoria aside, “Is he always like that?”
“No,” Victoria shook her head. “Well, not always.”
Kyuhyun smirked, “So he just gets jealous easy?”
“But we haven't done anything,” Victoria pouted.
Changmin joined them, “Maybe he saw something he shouldn't have seen? You two have been hanging out quite a bit lately, with or without Onew and I.”
“We can't help that the two of you are always so busy!” Kyuhyun retorted.
Victoria pinched Changmin on the arm, “You make it sound like we're having an affair!”
“Well, you kind of are-”
“We're not really married!” Victoria scowled, “This is all just make-believe! We're an imaginary couple. All of this is fake!”
“Woah, woah, woah,” Kyuhyun coaxed, “Calm down, Qian.”
Having the worst timing possible, Nichkhun decided to drop by and greet the triplet before leaving just as Kyuhyun was trying to calm the foreign beauty down. “So we've got more than one nickname, huh? Why didn't you just tell me to use one of the many that you already have?” Nichkhun bitterly commented in his semi-playful tone. “Or are they saved exclusively only for Kyuhyun-sshi?”
“Qian is her real name,” Kyuhyun retorted, “A good husband would have known that.”
Nichkhun couldn't hide his glare quick enough, “Her real name, in full, is Song Qian. I know that. But I'm sorry I'm not as good at addressing my wife properly as you are.”
“What is your problem?” Kyuhyun angrily grounded out, “You've been hostile towards me the entire evening.”
Upon hearing the commotion, Nichkhun's members all strolled towards them, assuring everything and everyone was still in tact. They weren't so much worried about Nichkhun, they were worried about the thin and fragile looking Kyuhyun. “What's going on?” Junsu asked.
“Nothing,” Victoria immediately replied, pulling Kyuhyun back. She threw Changmin a look, pleading for him to prevent Kyuhyun from acting on impulse. Kyuhyun was never one to act rashly, but he was very protective of his friends; especially Victoria, whom he treated like a sister. Changmin nodded and wrapped his arms around Kyuhyun from behind, holding him back.
“Look,” Kyuhyun continued, like the rest of the people weren't existent, “I've seen the show before, I know you get jealous extremely easily, but isn't this going a bit over board?”
Nichkhun scoffed, “I saw you two.”
“I told you so!” Changmin hissed proudly. Kyuhyun elbowed him.
“What?” Victoria choked.
Nichkhun crossed his arms over his torso, “I saw you two at a restaurant, getting all cozy and comfortable.”
“And?” Victoria asked.
Nichkhun narrowed his eyes, almost into slits. “What do you mean and?”
“What's it to you?” Victoria spat out, “I was out with my friend, having a good time, and so you're mad? What gives you the right?”
Victoria knew, she knew full well that Nichkhun harbored more feelings for her than he should have. Neither of them should be feeling anything more than just friendship for each other, if even that much should exist. She wanted to hear it from him, the truth.
“I'm your husband,” Nichkhun replied simply, almost too confidently.
Victoria laughed with a scornful tone, “How many times do I have to remind you guys? This is just a show, it's make-believe, it's imaginary, it's fake!”
She couldn't allow herself to fall too deep into this relationship. Victoria knew, no matter how much her heart and mind refused to believe, that in the end she would be hurt. They were both idols; he was popular, way too popular for her to even think about desiring his affection. Obviously, his members knew so, too. That's why they objected to their 'marriage' in the first place; they knew the fans would be against it.
Kyuhyun looked over his shoulder at Victoria, who was avoiding eye contact with anyone in the room at the moment. Kyuhyun and Changmin could tell that she was in pain, that she really didn't want to be in this situation at the moment, and most of all, they could tell that she was lying. She was never good at lying.
“You really believe that?” Nichkhun asked.
His members were truly surprised. Had Nichkhun really fallen that deep for this girl standing before them? They always teased him about this marriage, always joked that he wouldn't be able to hold back his feelings, but could it really be true?
Victoria was about to reply when Changmin silenced her with his gentle warning. “Don't answer that question if you're going to say what I think you are.”
“Of all the things you fail at, Qian Jie, lying is one of the worst ones,” Kyuhyun said to Victoria in Chinese, smiling at her weakly.
Changmin turned to Nichkhun. “You know, you're not any better off at keeping a limit with your interactions with females. You know how you promised not to lie and not the do things that will make Victoria jealous, at your first meeting? Yeah. Major fail.”
“What?” Nichkhun coughed.
Junho laughed, “It's true.”
“I saw that episode, the one where Victoria noona came to support us at our concert. Really wrong moves, hyung,” Chansung sighed.
Nichkhun glared at Chansung, “You were the biggest cause of it!”
Chansung looked away innocently.
Taecyeon stayed back, observing the situation carefully. He noticed something odd about the SME sunbaes, but decided to keep quiet for the time being. Junsu joined him.
“You know what,” Victoria rubbed her temple wearily, “I've got a shooting early tomorrow. Kyuhyun, more than likely, has practice for the musical and Changmin, you have a magazine photo shoot. We should just go. This childish argument won't be getting anywhere.”
Changmin looked over at Nichkhun imploringly. This issue couldn't just be ignored, especially now that they had all taken the extra step to reveal just a tad bit more of what was only considered imaginary that could be made into a reality. Chansung pushed Nichkhun forward, Kyuhyun holding Victoria by the wrist.
“You're coming with me,” Nichkhun finally groaned, snatching Victoria's hand from Kyuhyun's grasp. Kyuhyun shook his head with a small smile, sensing the stare that Changmin was protruding him with.
Taecyeon finally stepped forward, “Is this some sick twist of a hidden camera?”
“No,” Changmin laughed.
Junsu stabbed his hands at his hips, “It was planned, wasn't it?”
“What?” Wooyoung and Junho chanted in unison.
A mischievous smile lit up Chansung's lips as he excitedly reminisced and realized what just happened the past hour or so, “When did the two of you notice?”
“A while ago, but it was just a feeling,” Taecyeon exclaimed proudly. He turned to the two behind the conspiracy, “Why didn't you tell us?”
Kyuhyun grinned, “It's more fun this way.”
“We just need Victoria to set things straight,” Changmin puffed his cheeks, “She's been stressing over this for the longest.”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “They've only been 'married' for a little over eight months.”
“Long enough,” Changmin shrugged.
“Where are you taking me?” Victoria shouted, trying to pull her hands out of Nichkhun's larger ones. “It's getting late out, we might get lost!” It didn't surprise her, not too much at least, when she didn't receive a reply and was continually dragged ahead by her, literally, beast-like husband.
Perhaps aegyo could get her out of this situation, too.
“Appa~” She chimed cutely, giving up on trying to over power the said man.
It worked like magic. Or so she thought.
Nichkhun's expression, for the first time anyone could recall, was nearly drowning in a fusion of emotions. “I have never, never, failed in getting what I want.” Victoria blinked at him blankly. “You hear it, too, don't you? What everyone says about me? I'm the Thai-Prince, I'm handsome, I'm tall, I have a nicely structured body, I'm well mannered, and I can do almost everything-”
“Excuse me?” Victoria interrupted.
Nichkhun sighed, raking his fingers through his incredibly short hair. “What I'm meaning to say is, there isn't any reason for you to dislike me, is there?”
“No,” Victoria replied simply, trying hard to stifle her laughter.
Relieved, Nichkhun nodded and swallowed hard. “Do you like me?”
“What?” Victoria croaked.
Releasing his make-believe wife's hand, Nichkhun shifted his hands to grasp onto her shoulders, forcing her to look directly into his eyes. “I like you,” He whispered to her in a low, husky, voice, “Do you like me?”
“Of course I like you,” Victoria laughed nervously, brushing his hands off of her shoulders. “Who wouldn't? You're such a nice guy, everyone likes you!”
Nichkhun pulled Victoria back to him, forcing her to face him and his confession. “You know what I mean,” He insisted, “Tell me the truth.”
“Maybe you're just becoming a little too involved in this make-believe relationship,” Victoria replied, “I know it's hard to regard it as just imaginary when everything we're doing seems so real-”
“Exactly!” Nichkhun suddenly cut in, “Everything we experience, everything we do, feels so real. My emotions; the ups and downs of my moods, how my day brightens up when I finally see you after weeks of your absence, the way my entire body aches when I miss helping you to your feet or escorting you off of a bus. It's all too real. It doesn't just seem real, it is real.”
Victoria grimaced at his words. Those were the very words she had been avoiding all this time. How could Nichkhun just put everything he had on the line because of these supposed feelings and desires? Why would he?
“It's been nearly nine months, Omma.”
The nickname echoed in Victoria's ears.
“We've overcome so much.”
What exactly have they overcome?
“You've already intruded in my life.”
But he could always just turn his back.
“I can't just ignore these feelings.”
The feelings he could never truly distinguish between true or false, at least not now.
An imaginary relationship, a fairytale.
“I'm your husband.”
Like no other man could be.
“Your my wife, my wife.”
No matter what any one else thought. No matter how any other man tried to protest.
“These tears,” Nichkhun smiled at her warmly, cupping her cheeks in his palm. “They're mine.” He leaned over and kissed her tear stained cheeks. Nichkhun could feel his heart pumping against his chest wildly, but Victoria could have sworn her heart stopped the moment his fingers landed on her smooth skin. Nichkhun pulled her into an embrace, wrapping his arms protectively around her waist. “You remember, don't you? I said it once on the Namsan Tower and I'll say it again, Victoria is mine.”
What else could she say? She had no words to refute against the younger man she was engulfed in. If it was possible, she was certain he had already swallowed her whole, but it wasn't. She knew she was still alive because she could finally feel the boiling blood rushing through her veins again, it felt as if her brain had a relapse and was just recovering.
Oxygen. She needed oxygen.
“I can't breath!” Victoria finally gasped, pushing hard against Nichkhun's chest.
Nichkhun grinned brilliantly at her. “Omma, can you see the stars?”
“Stars?” Victoria repeated, looking up at the sky. The sky was growing dim, sure, but there were no sign of stars.
“No, not stars,” Nichkhun shook his head slightly, “Hearts.”
“Hearts?” Victoria echoed after him.
Nichkhun nodded. He leaned over, staring into his wife's eyes at eye level. “The hearts in my eyes!”
“Pabo,” Victoria laughed. It was the first time Victoria smiled ever since his confession, and damn did it make him feel good.
Sliding his hand into Victoria's, more gently than ever before, Nichkhun pulled Victoria along with him as they headed towards a nearby bench. “That's right, I'm Victoria's pabo Nichkhun. Omma, married life is going to take on a whole new toll on us from now on, you know.”
Victoria didn't reply, hiding her grin with her long wavy hair, but that was her silent agreement.
Whoever told her that fairy-tales never come true obviously lied. Whoever told her that the imaginary can never become a reality obviously distorted the truth. The absolute was standing right before her. Nichkhun; her prince, her imaginary husband, was now her one and only and reality.
With a large smile, Victoria turned to peer up into Nichkhun's eyes. “You know, I never really had a big fascination with stars.”
“What?” Nichkhun asked.
Victoria laughed, “I said it once and I'll say it again. I don't need the stars in the sky, Appa, I have Nichkhun.”