"I heard you liked my exhibition." Yoo Joo's smile is only slightly strained as she watches Eun Chan fidget, hands twisting in her lap until she feels forced to pour them wine, if only to give her something to occupy them. This should not be this awkward. There is no reason they can't be friends. Despite what had happened between Han Sung and this girl, she still likes Eun Chan.
"I did," Eun Chan agreed, smiling up at her after a sip of wine. Her smile lights up her face, gracing features that, unadorned, seemed plain with momentary beauty. When she smiles, Yoo Joo thinks she can see why Han Sung was shaken.
"Would you like to see what I'm working on now?"
Eun Chan's nod is eager and she jumps to her feet with an energy Yoo Joo thinks she never had, even when she was younger. She's cute, all energy and emotion, almost like a puppy. Yoo Joo glances over her shoulder as she leads her to the covered canvas, admiring the way the light gleams off Eun Chan's smooth cap of hair, the way the light from the windows first illuminates her and then casts her in shadow. It seems somehow symbolic, a hint of the bright and dark sides she must have, though all she shows is light. Even to Yoo Joo, a woman who could have been (had been, in some senses) her rival.
Perhaps that potential rivalry is why Yoo Joo can't relax, why she finds it hard to find things to talk about. The painting admired, she finds herself picking up the brush, justifying herself with the thought that perhaps Eun Chan would like to watch her work. Others have and she seems endlessly curious, tilting her head like a bird as she watches anything and everything.
The first stroke is an accident: Eun Chan speaks suddenly next to her and Yoo Joo startles, brush leaving the canvas and inscribing a cerulean streak on Eun Chan's wrist. They both stare at it, but when Eun Chan moves to wipe it away, Yoo Joo stops her. "Come here." Grasping her hand, careful not to smudge the paint, she leads Eun Chan to the window, turning her wrist upward in the light. "That color suits you," Yoo Joo comments, experimentally adding another line, then a slender curlicue, to the paint already there.
She looks up to meet Eun Chan's wide eyes and smiles, shaking her head ruefully. "I'm sorry. You must think I'm crazy." What had she been thinking?
Eun Chan looks away, frowning at her wrist as she turns it this way and that, examining the painted design from all angles. "I like it."
Yoo Joo decides she really must be crazy as soon as she hears the words that come out of her mouth. "How would you like to be art?"
From the moment of Eun Chan's agreement, the rest was inevitable. Anyone who knew Yoo Joo knew what she was like when she was working: everything and everyone else disappeared, leaving no barriers between her and the canvas. The fact that this time this time her canvas was Eun Chan made no difference. The soft skin under her brush and, eventually, her hands barely registered; it seemed the most natural thing in the world to slowly remove the clothing inconveniently in the way of her creation.
She was never sure why Eun Chan didn't protest. She was certainly capable of doing so, could have easily pushed her away. Perhaps she was in a similar fugue, caught up in the movements of the brush and the patterns forming on her skin. Perhaps she realized that Yoo Joo wasn't seeing her at all and felt that meant there was no reason to be embarrassed. Maybe she merely really wanted a chance to be a piece of artwork, to be adorned as she never did for herself, albeit in an unconventional manner – unconventional, like Eun Chan herself. Like both of them.
It was dark by the time Yoo Joo was done. She must have turned on the lights, but she had no memory of doing so. Exhausted, she sat back on her heels and examined her work. Seen like this, Eun Chan was beautiful, even as she blushed and tried to cover herself with her hands. "Don't," Yoo Joo instructed, reaching to catch her wrists. "You'll smudge it."
Swirls of paint – blue, red, and black – covered Eun Chan's skin like elaborate tattoos, accentuating small breasts and muscular thighs. Occasionally, small elaborations were hidden in the abstraction – here a bird peeping from a forest of curves on her shoulder, there a butterfly entwined in vines on her hip. It suited her even as it changed her, made of her something wild and strange, a fey creature who didn't belong in this ordinary studio.
"You're beautiful." Yoo Joo gave her a tired smile. More than beautiful – she was irresistible. Giving into the enchantment, she shifted to hands and knees and, careful of her painting, lowered her head to kiss her.